After about an hour on the road, Lily's attention began to wane. She was tired. Lack of sleep was beginning to tell on her. Despite the clouds, the heat from the road sent shimmers up off the road surface, creating fake puddles in the distance. Her hands were cramping up and she flexed her fingers in her leather gloves. Her mind was chattering away endlessly about K and wondering exactly where and what she was going to have to do. Suddenly she became aware that the rumbling noise wasn't just from her bike, and wasn't just in her head. A glance in the rearview mirror showed that it wasn't just one person behind her, but several. Six black motorcycles were weaving along behind her. Her heart picked up and she pulled hard on the accelerator, just what they had been waiting for. These were no ordinary motorcycles, they were completely custom souped up race and stunt bikes. Lightweight and each driven by what was obviously a professional. Two of the bikes easily overtook her and raced past on either side, then came together in the middle right in front of her, forcing her to ease up and slow somewhat, two more bikes were coming up to flank her, she knew she needed to do something, and do it fast. She weaved a bit left, then right, as the bikers gave her room without losing position, she leaned forward and shot to the left past the biker on her left and almost ahead of the one in front of her. They responded immediately and with a vengence. The left flanker went with her and headed her off from passing the lead bikes. Swerving right she almost collided with the right flank rider,who was keeping close to her. She suddenly understood what cattle must feel like. She decided to try a different tack and slowed to almost a stop, the first four bikes flew past and the two rear riders split themselves to avoid running into her. She turned as quickly as she could on the big bike and headed back the way she came. What for she wasn't sure. Civilization at least. She knew in her heart that this was a lost cause and that she was not going to be able to outrun them, and considering the flat, featureless plains surrounding her, she was not going to be able to hide or outwit them either. It didn't take the bikers long to turn and follow and they were coming up behind her quickly. Out of other options, she reached behind her and pulled out her pistol. Nine shots is what I've got, she thought, let's see if I can make six... As the bikers made their move to surround her again, she let go with a shot to the left, striking the rider in his thigh. He swerved off the road and came to a stop in a cloud of dust. Swinging the pistol around to the right she struck another in the ribs. He fell off his bike entirely tumbling along with the bike for several feet before coming to a bone crunching stop. The remaining four slowed somewhat, giving her a respectable distance. She was sweating and swearing and just waiting for another one to come up and try it when she saw yet another rider coming toward her. Gripping her pistol tightly, she prepared to meet what she saw as another threat. The yellow fender on the front told her she knew this biker...It was Rock! He had continued to follow her. After he had cruised on for several miles the night before he realized she had not continued on but must have stopped. It cost him another half an hour of chit chat with a bored motel clerk to find out that yes she had been there, and the general direction she was going. The clerk had been thrilled to see another biker looking for the first. Sure there was some romantic intrigue going on, and he would get to be in on the big secret. He was sorely disappointed when Rock refused to answer any of his speculations and reluctantly told him that she had ridden out about 930, heading for route 66. Dammit. He needed to catch up with her and tell her the truth before she found it out herself! He was in trouble. From all sides now. There she was, coming right at him. But why? He saw the riders following at a respectful distance and guessed the rest. Lily suddenly engaged the brakes, raising a cloud of dust and tire smoke, sliding to a stop sideways in the road. The black bikes created a circle around her as Rock slowed and made his approach. Making some hand signs to the black bikers he came to a stop nearby. Rock kicked the stand down and dismounted from his machine, stowing the helmet on the handlebars as he stalked toward her on the bike. She waved her pistol at him, and remained on her bike, reving the engine.

"What do you want?" She shouted over the din.

"I want to talk to you! " he replied, never slowing his progress toward her. The four bikers had come to a stop in a rough circle around the pair, reving their engines but waiting. Lily squinted around her at the roughs waiting for them, and said,

"I'm kinda busy right now!" He laughed and came up to her but stopped short as she brought the gun around to point right at his heart.

"I see that. I know who they are. We can end this peacefully, or not. Your choice." He squinted at her, his face covered with dust, his eyes as tired looking as hers. He waited a few beats to let her digest what he had said.

"Well?" He asked.

"Well what? I should just give my self up now, is that right?" She flung her braid defiantly over her shoulder. Dammit! She should have ditched him a long time ago. She should have known he was trouble from the start. He always had been. Her bravado slipped a bit as she recognized that she was outnumbered and outwitted for the moment. Obviously he knew what was going on here, as they weren't moving on him at all. He seemed to be her only choice for the time being. Allowing the wieght of the gun to spin it, she dangled the pistol off her finger and held her arm out to him.

"Here. Take it. But take good care of it! It's my favorite." He came close and took the weapon, tucking it into his waistband after checking the saftey. He met her eyes with a rueful look. He ducked his head and stared at her boots. Dusty. Laced up tight. Likeways, she stared at him. Watched him thinking about her, them, this.

Unable to take any more suspense she roused him from his doldrums.

"Well? Now what? Do I surrender my bike or bow at your feet? " He looked up at her, measuring her words against her expression. It was grim. Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears, her mouth was set in a defiant position, but with a slight tremor to the upper lip as if it wished to twist into an anguished sob. Her chin was up though, she was ready. As ready as she'd ever be for what was ahead of her. His throat felt thick and he found he couldn't swallow or produce enough saliva to even form a reply. He coughed dryly and made a ‘wait here' motion although, he did reach over and turn off her bike and kept the keys as he walked over to one of the waiting men . The wounded man was returning to the pack after hastily wrapping the injury to his leg. One of the men shouted something at the returning rider, who shook his head and Lily knew the second shot was fatal. Not good to be surrounded by your enemy after having just killed one. A shaking threatened to take control of her knees and she sat heavily on the bike seat after kicking the stand down to steady it. She looked at Rock quietly speaking to the assailant leader, nodding and looking toward her. She took a deep breath and wondered what was going to happen now. Her never ending optimism broke through with the old, "well, if nothing else, it was never boring". They can put that on my tombstone, Lily thought wryly to herself. She pulled out a cigarette and began smoking nervously while waiting. What the hell was there to talk about for so long? Finally she heard the crunchy squeak of his footsteps returning and turned to face him. He did something totally unexpected. Walking to his bike, he pulled it off the road, took his pack and headed toward her. He stowed his gear on the back of her bike and took her face in both hands and kissed her soundly. Lily didn't respond right away. It was the last thing she expected. She pulled back to look at him and ask if this was the kiss of death or something when she saw the look on his face warning her to play along. He hugged her tightly and told her quietly in her ear,

" They think that you are coming willingly with me and that we had a spat, that's why we weren't together. They were sent by the system to bring you in, but so am I. Considering that I outrank them several times over, they are taking my command to stand down. I guess I'm not in as much trouble as I thought and I think that you'd prefer the treatment I would give you rather than their tender mercies. Especially since you killed their friend. Act friendly, I will ride with you, head the direction you were heading. We're all going the same way after all. Trust me, love?" Lily was shaking with anger now. She knew it! Dammit! But he was right. Double damn him for being right. She pulled back and looked him square in the eyes and said with a big smile,

"I'm gonna kill you, if it's the last thing I ever do, lover!" and kissed him fiercely. Nervously smiling he reached past her to put the keys in the ignition and fired up the motor. Lily's smile fixed it's self in an evil clench as she swung her leg back over the bike, kicked the stand up, and waited for her passenger to settle into the seat behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and she turned them around to get back on track. He waved a hand in salute to the other bikers, who began gathering themselves up for the trip back to their base and taking advantage of his one handed grip, Lily gunned it, sending him off balance and scrambling to grab hold of her once again. "Hey! Are you trying to kill us both?" Lily smiled her first real smile of the day and replied easily,

"No more so than you!" Her laughter rang out as they roared down the road at top speed.


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