Title: What's A California?
Beta By: Starway Man«»0«»CHAPTER FOUR«»0«»
As I was leaving the apartment building, I held the front doors open for the old woman with the cane like I did every morning. I didn’t know where she was going, or even what her name was, but she was always making her way into the complex just as I was leaving.
She always gave me a little smile of thanks, too. Granted, it wasn't staking a vamp, or stopping the end of the world, but it was something
at least. It also reminded me that I hadn't become so jaded in this world, that I just didn't give a shit about anything anymore.
Heading out to catch my train - and who would have ever believed Los Angeles, the land of automobile supremacy, had decent public transport in this world? - I just hoped there weren't any attacks on the pipeline, at least not during my
Riding the train along the LA underground was always a bit of a toss-up. You could have a really peaceful ride, or some asshole Starchie could cause a ton of problems. The side-effects of long-term use were clear, and those users were easy to spot, but with the ones that had recently started using, you just never knew.
Today, things were calm. I sat there reading the paper, but still keeping one eye on my X41A and lunch pail. Even on a quiet ride, you never let your guard down; it wasn't like there were any cops around.
While Oregden did have an army and everyone had to do two years’ worth of National Service at some point, the military mostly watched the border to make sure North State and the Republic of Texas didn't try to pull anything funny. The borders were built up a lot like the 38th parallel, but it wasn't nearly as intense.
See, while the four countries comprising the central part of North America weren't openly hostile to each other, border skirmishes had been pretty common since the 19th century.
There was trade and tourism and stuff between certain nation-states, but still, there was always some sort of tension regardless. Especially in those parts of the continent where slavery had been practiced - right up until the start of the 20th century, apparently.
The closest thing to police in this country were called Imperials. To me, the name sounded vaguely British, and I wasn't sure where it came from. From what I'd heard, though, most of 'em were pricks who treated the average guy like shit.
Not that it really bothered me one way or the other, as they mostly went after the Zoomers and the hardcore starch-heads. Otherwise, good luck trying to find one. In all the years I'd been in this world, I'd seen them exactly three times, and that was only when the shit had truly hit the fan.
Finished with my paper, I set it down on the seat next to me, deciding to let the next guy who came along take it. As I looked around, I noticed a man a few seats down, on the opposite side staring at me. His slightly puffy cheeks let me know he was almost certainly a starch-head.
I lifted the X41A up, just enough so that he could see the barrel, letting him know I wasn't going to be fucked with. He quickly got up and headed for another car, hoping to find an easier, less attentive victim.
I could have done something, I suppose, followed him or whatever; but I needed my job, and there were plenty more where he came from. It hadn't taken long for me to realize that sticking your neck out here was about as smart as it was doing it in Sunnydale; the only difference was death by Starchie, rather by vampire.
There had been too many stories about guys trying to be heroes and ending up getting addicted to that stuff, a group drags you down then force-feeds you that crap so you quickly don't give a shit what they’re doing.
For all I knew, that guy who'd just eyed me up could have been the last
hero who tried to do something about the problem, so no thanks.«»0«»
The rest of the ride had been uneventful, and as I climbed the stairs to the street surface, I could hear people yelling through bullhorns, and groups chanting. Just great, it was another riot in the making.
This happened every couple of months; all the people with the crap-ass jobs got together to bitch about it. Instead of actually looking
for something better, like I did after I arrived from up north three years ago, they just complained instead.
Not that I minded too much. These dumb-ass protests could be either good or bad for me. It held up a lot of guys on their way to work, which meant if I could get to the substation on time, I could get hazard pay for working while being under-staffed. On the other hand, if I couldn't get there because of these idiots, then I didn't get paid shit.
I cut down an alley, hoping the protest area wasn't too big, and that they didn't catch sight of me. While I was far from rich, having the gun and pail meant it looked like I had a job. Since I was actually going to work instead of joining them, that meant mine obviously paid more than theirs, and that I was a cut above them.
Huh. For a moment, I wondered if that was why Cordelia had always produced the bitch act in public; as a way of dealing with the idiots who were jealous of her, without even getting to know her as a person.
Damn it, I had to get my head back in the game. I looked at the protesters; they were a bunch of fucking idiots, any area surrounding an imulsion substation was Starchie territory. God only knew how many of those morons had gotten picked off on their way here, or how many more would be on their way home.
The protesters treated them like they were simply homeless people or something. Back home, I could understand that. Here, though, starch-heads would cut your throat for a single cred, on account of there was no going back from the stuff. All you could do for the Starchies was put them out of their misery.
Wanna try to tell the protesters that? Good luck, is all I can say. If they didn't call you a genocider, they'd come at you with numbers like they always did. Two or three of those guys, I could take easy, but I'd seen too many people get boot parties for messing with them.
It didn't take much to set them off these days, either, but I wasn't surprised by it. The protest of the week at that college, Berkeley or whatever it was, was always on the news every day back home. Why should it be any different here?
Jogging across the street, with the mob about twenty feet to my right, I hit another alley. If this kept up, not only would I get to the substation on time, I'd even get there early. I'd be raking in the creds big time my next payday.
Maybe I could ask Janette out to dinner...«»0«»A/N: I've recently started another story called 'Let's Make A Deal'. If you have a chance, please check it out, and let me know what you think. Thank you.«»0«»END