Hunter rolled past the bandana waving kids at low speed with his hands digging into the top of the wheel, taking care to ensure they remained plainly in view. How young were those sentries? And why weren’t they in school? Still, he guessed they were getting an education of sorts. The sound of tribal drums started up somewhere in front of him, their insistent rhythm bouncing off the surrounding buildings to take on a hypnotic quality. Jesus, he’d heard of the urban jungle, but this was ridiculous.
A burst of movement from the apartment block on his right caught his eye. He looked up to discover an elderly lady staring back at him from one of the second floor windows. More faces began to appear, men, women, and children, until almost half the windows were occupied, the residents drawn to the show by the beating drums. Goddamn ghouls. The whole block was starting to feel like some kind of Roman amphitheatre, as Hunter marched out to face Furious and his hungry lions.
Guards were stationed along the rooftops overhead, but they were more for show than defence. As Hunter rolled forward the basketball court came into view. It didn’t look like much b-ball was played there anymore –you’d need one hell of a crossover dribble to get past the strange little building at half court. He pulled over to the kerb, cut the engine, and took a quick head count. Fifteen serious looking guys packing heavy calibre, all of it aimed in his direction. This was shaping up to be one of his more challenging interrogations.
He opened the door and climbed out, both hands raised high above his head. When no bullets came flying in his direction, he shucked off his leather jacket to reveal the Patriot shoulder holster strapped underneath. Using just thumb and forefinger, he withdrew the Beretta from its rig and deposited it on the hood of his car. When you were this outgunned, it was wise to play at subservient. Sometimes, making friendly with the natives was the only way to go.
“Da fuck you want?” shouted the nearest of the Renegades. As opening gambits went, it wasn’t the most polite.
“Take it easy, I just wanna talk.” Hunter walked over to the court and quickly found himself surrounded by a ring of angry faces.
A huge guy with natty dreads and a nasty facial scar got up close and personal. “You trippin’ boy, ain’t no one here wants to talk to you.”
“Figure he’s 5-O Slice, figure he’s come to stir up some shit,” whined a voice to his right. “We gots to in-ter-ro-gate him, make him talk.”
The ring closed in and someone spat at his feet. He ignored it and stood his ground. This wasn’t going well. Time to lay on a little more of his patented charm.
“I think we might be able to help each other out.”
“Don’t need no help, less you wanna come suck on my dick,” said whiny voice. Laughter rang out from the rest of the crew.
“Sure thing. Anyone lend me a straw?” Hunter deadpanned. The laughter stopped dead, the aggression level went off the chart. Hmmm. Maybe that wasn’t the best of wisecracks given the circumstances.
“Dumb muthafucka axin’ fo it, Slice,” slurred another one of the guards. “You gonna cut him up? Murderize the muthafucka?”
The guy called Slice withdrew a huge Bowie knife from the sheath that was cinched tight to his right thigh. He raised it skywards in a clenched fist. The sunlight glinted off the serrated blade as his knuckles stood proud. Two Renegades stepped forward to take a firm grip of Hunter’s arms. He didn’t put up a fight – now wasn’t the time. The knife danced in front of his face, then he felt its point press into the soft skin just under his left eye. A warm trickle of blood ran down his face. He forced himself to stand still. Slice’s voice rumbled out like a warning from the gods;
“I’m gonna fuck you up bad…”