MLM – Chapter 13

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For a brief moment, Lasko had no idea what had happened. The boy just lay unmoving. Then in the distance, he saw Pusher celebrating, a slingshot dangling from an upraised fist of victory.
That little… Lasko watched in horror as the speared man finally managed to yank the pole from his chest, blood spilling from the wound down the man’s body. His stabbed companion also ripped out the knife from his leg, with a guttural groan, throwing the blade angrily to the side.
“Sharp, get up!” Tunnel screamed. Lasko didn’t know what to do; should they run? Should they fight? The two thugs did not look like they were in good condition. Maybe they could still win the fight…
Then the stabbed man yelled out to the distant Pusher. “Bring us the fixer, you shitty holdings kid!” Lasko’s heart dropped. A fixer. They were going to heal themselves, and then Sharp, Lasko, and Tunnel would all be dead.
Then somebody grabbed Sharp’s stuff out of Lasko’s hands.
It was Tunnel. Throwing the gear on the ground, Tunnel started to search frantically through the various pockets. Then Lasko understood. We have a fixer too.
He fell to his knees and began searching with Tunnel, digging frantically through the pockets. In the back of his mind, something told him that it wouldn’t matter, that they wouldn’t be able to escape, but Lasko pushed the thought away, focusing on the one plan that they had. Rooting around in the crevices of the backpack, Lasko’s hand closed on a tube like object, and he yanked it out. It was the fixer.
“Tunnel, I got it!” he gasped. Tunnel looked up wildly, and roughly yanked it from the man’s hand, causing something else to fly out of Lasko’s fist. Worried that it was a piece of the fixer that had broken off, Lasko desperately picked it up and examined it. It was just a screw; the same one that Leonard had converted into a light producing DVG.
Something clicked in Lasko’s mind. He grabbed Tunnel, stopping the boy just as he was about to run out to where Sharp lay unconscious.
“Let go of me, I have to save Sharp!” Tunnel shouted, twisting and pulling against Lasko’s grip.
Lasko grabbed him with both hands. “Tunnel, listen to me, I have a plan.” Tunnel stopped struggling and looked at Lasko, the wild look still in his eyes.
Lasko continued hurriedly. “Stay here, grab the bags, and get ready to run.”
Lasko reached into his pocket, pulling out one of the two remaining Unit orbs in his pocket. Tunnel looked at it, but Lasko could tell that the kid’s frantic mind was not processing it.
There’s no time to explain, I have to do this now. “Tunnel, you have to trust me. I’ll get Sharp. Grab the stuff, and ready to run back to Leonard’s.”
Lasko stumbled to his feet, and took off running towards the prone Sharp. Beyond the two injured gang members, Lasko could see Pusher also running, an object clutched in his outstretched hand. Lasko sped up, clutching the orb tightly in one hand.
The gauntlet toting gang member noticed him, and a terrible look of wrath appeared on his face.
“What do you think you’re doing.” he snarled, limping towards where the unconscious boy lay.
Crap, I have to do this now, if he gets to Sharp before I do, it’s all over. Lasko tightly held the object that was in his other hand, the light DVG screw.
I hope this works, Lasko thought hopefully, and then closing his eyes, he jammed the screw into the sphere of Units.
A blinding flash erupted, an extremely bright light, searing even through his closed eyelids. Lasko heard the shocked exclamations of the three enemies. In the distance, there was a sound of someone tripping, and Pusher began to curse vividly.
Lasko, eyes tightly shut against the orb that was now emitting intense light, mentally pictured the Sharp’s location, he continued forwards. When he figured to be almost upon Sharp, Lasko knelt down on the ground, franticly feeling around the area. Almost instantly, he felt a warm, damp object. It was Sharp, covered in blood. The boy was breathing, but oddly with rough staggered gasps.
Dropping the orb, Lasko hefted the limp boy onto his shoulders. A yell erupted so close to him that he almost fell over. “You little bitch, I’m going to peel your muscles off, one by one!” shouted the furious, blinded thug.
Lasko did his best to move quietly, making sure not to lose his bearings. He started walking towards Tunnel, praying that the angry man wouldn’t be able to find them.
Lasko heard the angry thug cursing, flailing his farms wildly in the air, completely blinded by the excessively bright light. “Where are you! I’m going to kill you.” The man kept raging. “Where’s that fixer?”
Fairly confident that Lasko was out of the blinded man’s range, the burdened man focused on getting to Tunnel as quickly as possible. After a few moments, he called out urgently. “Tunnel, you there?”
A frantically worried voice sounded out a few meters in front of him. “Lasko? That you? What happened? Did you get Sharp?”
“I got Sharp,” breathed Lasko. “Come on, we gotta get out of here.”
He reached out, groping the empty air until he touched the concerned boy. “Grab my hand.”
They walked like that, hand in hand, eyes shut tight, away from the three enemies. Lasko carrying the unconscious Sharp, and Tunnel carrying Sharp’s bag and belt. As they got further and further away, Lasko noticed the light visibly dimming through his still closed eyelids. He opened his eyes gingerly. It was little painfully bright, but after his eyes adjusted, he could see his surroundings again. Lasko judged that it wasn’t safe, but they needed to heal Sharp. He wasn’t sure the injured boy could wait.
“Tunnel, do you have the fixer?”
“Yeah, it’s here.” Tunnel let go of Lasko’s hand, grabbing the cylinder from his pocket before handing it to Lasko.
Lasko, as gently as he could, laid the boy down on the ground. Sharp’s breathing had become even more ragged. Tunnel knelt down by the hurt boy’s side, tears beginning to fall from his eyes as the younger boy saw Sharp’s poor condition.
Also breathing heavily, fighting both tiredness and nervousness, Lasko examined the fixer in his hand. He had never used it before; but he had seen Sharp use it twice on himself. He tried to imitate what Sharp had done, pressing a button on the side.
There was the familiar hum, and Lasko sighed in relief. Then he tried to stab it into Sharp’s chest, but had difficulty; Lasko was too squeamish. He had a couple false starts before he worked up the nerve to stab the device into the boy’s chest.
Holding it down carefully, Lasko gritted his teeth as Sharp’s body began to arch and convulse violently. Tunnel held down Sharp’s arms, and as he and Lasko watched, the large gashes on Sharp’s face and neck closed, the missing flesh filling in with new pink skin. His harsh breathing slowly softened. They waited for Sharp to open his eyes.
He didn’t. Tunnel shook his gently. “Sharp, wake up! You need to get up.”
Lasko checked the boy’s pulse. It was still there, and Lasko could see the boy breathing.
“ARRRRRRgggggh.” A cry of pain erupted from the whiteness behind them.
We can’t wait any longer. “We gotta go.” Lasko squatted, hefting the now healed Sharp on to his shoulder again. Tunnel grabbed the gear and followed Lasko as they continued to move away.
“Where are we going?” Tunnel asked, a hint of fear still in his voice. “We’re headed the opposite direction from home.”
“We can’t go home; we’ll never outrun those guys. They’d just follow us there. We’re going back to Leonard’s.” Lasko said determinedly.
“Leonard? He’s not on our side, he never gets involved in gang wars…”
“He’s already involved, it’s his fault we’re in this mess. Besides, he’d probably wouldn’t let them hurt us on his territory, right?” Lasko guessed. “We don’t have any other options.”
“Oh…” Tunnel said slowly.
They continued onwards like that for a while. With every step, Sharp grew heavier and heavier. Lasko was not a well-built man. He wasn’t sure if the cryogenic process had altered him, but Lasko was willing to bet that he had never been a muscular guy. He had been a scientist, and his current physique matched the stereotypical studious type.
After about twenty minutes of moving as quickly as they possibly could, Lasko could see Leonard’s warehouse in the distance, the solid metal building standing out from the nearest surrounding buildings. He looked behind him.
To his horror, he saw three figures trailing them. Pusher had apparently healed the two large goons, and after finding their way out of the blinding light, they were moving quickly to intercept them.
“Tunnel, run!” He started to jog, gritting his teeth, adjusting the limp boy on his shoulders.
“?” Tunnel looked back as well. “!”
Two seconds later, Tunnel ran past Lasko, one arm pumping while the other arm holding on to their baggage. Although the kid was carrying their tools, a bag perhaps one quarter his own size, the boy was making much better time than Lasko.
They ran desperately, Tunnel looking back every once in a while, and giving an expression of fear, continued to run. Lasko didn’t look back, he couldn’t afford to trip. The look of anguish on Tunnel’s face motivated him enough.
He began to gasp for breath, his lungs burning, his legs feeling as if they were on fire. By this time, Tunnel was ten meters in front of him, Lasko could barely hear the boy’s panting over his own hoarse gulps of air.
They were getting close to the warehouse. Lasko risked a look backwards.
The three pursuers were maybe two hundred feet away. Lasko could make out the angry scowls on their sweating, panting, faces.
Blind fear overtook him, and he began sprinting wildly towards the building, the limp Sharp bouncing up and down on his back.
I’m not going to make it. The steel fortress was still three hundred feet away.
Tunnel dropped his tools, falling into a sprint. He started to rapidly pull away from the running Lasko.
Lasko briefly contemplated dropping the unconscious boy from his shoulders.
A hundred feet. Ninety feet. Eighty feet. The building got closer and closer. Lasko was in agony. The pain from his lungs and leg had increased ten-fold. His heart was pounding in his head. He could hardly think, his mind kept repeating the same thought. Keep going. Keep going.
Ahead of him, Tunnel reached the entrance. The boy began to pounding on the entrance. “Leonard, its Tunnel. Let us in!” He turned around, screaming at Lasko. “LASKO, RUN!”
His mind felt blank, but Lasko heard the cry. He tried to run even faster, but his pace was actually slowing down.
He could hear the panting breaths of the enemies behind him. The bald one called out, between his breaths. “I’ve got you… you dead… drooler.”
Lasko stumbled. He fell towards the ground, his arms lacking the energy to get up and try to break his fall. Sharp tumbled off his shoulder as he did, and the both of them lay there, entangled together in the metallic dirt.
It’s over. Lasko managed to think. And he closed his eyes, hearing the steps of the gang member slow as they caught up to the fallen man and boy. He heard Tunnel scream, and then the sneering laugh that the gang member gave.
“…shoulda just gave up and saved us the trouble.” He heard the man say. Footsteps walked towards him, he could feel their heavy steps through the ground.
It’s over.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack, and Lasko felt something shoot over his head, hitting the ground a few feet from him and spraying him with dirt.
Put-pth.
“—what the?” an angry cry of surprise erupted from the enemy.
Lasko opened his eyes. The two gang members were frozen in place, their weapons at the ready. They were staring towards the warehouse. Lasko slowly turned his tired head to follow their gaze.
A smoking turret was aimed towards the group. Tunnel knelt on the ground nearby, his mouth gaping at their unexpected savior. Something drifted from the building, hovering above the fallen Lasko and Sharp. It was one of the hovering robotic lights, and a familiar voice sounded out from it.
“Any closer and the next bullet won’t miss.”
It was Leonard. The old man had pulled through. Lasko tried to keep a grin off his face, but he couldn’t. The bald pipe wielding thug noticed and his scowl got worse. He shook his pipe at the robot. “Stay out of this, Leonard! This ain’t any of your business!”
“These young folks are my customers. And since they happen to be on my store’s front doorstep, I would say that it is my business, quite literally. And everybody knows my rules here at Leonard’s Warehouse. No fighting allowed.”
The man pointed his pipe threateningly at the robot. “You sure you wanna do this? We’re with Vance. He don’t like it when people get in his way.”
“Vance, huh? So that explains why ya three ugly droolers are here. I heard what Vance did to my suppliers at Northside Salvage. Makes me reckon that I’m already on his bad side. So I think I’ll risk getting Vance’s panties in a bunch.”
The flying robot moved aggressively towards the three offenders. The bald man stepped back.
“Now unless the three of y’all gonna buy or sell something, I recommend that you go on out of here. This is my territory.”
The bald thug spat at the ground, and it came dangerously close to Lasko’s face. Gross.
“This might be your territory now, but Vance will change that soon. There won’t be any more room for you in this hex, or any hex, when Vance is finished.”
“Maybe that’ll happen, but I ain’t going to sit here and listen to ya talk ’til it does. Now quit wasting my time and skitter off!”
The turret fired three more times, surprising the three gang members (and Lasko), showering the area with dirt. Giving the warehouse a seething look, the bald man and his companion slouched away. Pusher slunk away behind them, his mocking attitude now replaced with a fearful countenance. Now that they had failed, he wasn’t sure what Vance would do to him. Then Pusher noticed the bags and belt that Tunnel had dropped, and his eyes lit up. Maybe their stuff could be traded for some good will. He moved over quickly to pick them up.
Leonard’s floating robot zoomed forward, bonking the boy’s head, who yelled out in surprise. Pusher stared up at the robot, clutching his bruised skull.
“Leave it.” With a peng, a prod popped out from the flying metal disc. A small arc of electricity leaped from it with the sharp repetitive snaps of an electric taser.
The boy gave a painful yelp and scurried off after the departing enforcers.
At this time, Tunnel hurried over to the fallen duo. He helped Lasko turn the still unconscious Sharp over onto his back.
“We made it.” Tunnel said, looking at Lasko with glad eyes. Lasko gave a small smile back, still trying to catch his breath. He felt like death. Then Tunnel’s eyes grew concerned again and looked down on the unconscious Sharp.
“Why isn’t he waking up?”
Before Lasko could answer the question, the metal doors to the warehouse creaked open. Leonard appeared at the doorway. He walked out cautiously, and Lasko noticed that wily old man was wearing a strange metal glove. It looked like a robot hand.
“Ya boys OK?” Leonard asked quickly, the tough slang he had used to intimidate the gang members still in his voice. Lasko nodded.
Leonard crabbily jerked his head towards the open warehouse. “Then get y’er asses inside.”
Fighting his fatigue, Lasko lifted Sharp carefully, cradling him, and Tunnel ran to grab the dropped baggage. Once they were safely inside of the building, with the giant thick doors shut, Lasko was able to finally relax, collapsing on the blissfully cool concrete floor, focusing on regaining his much needed breath.
“So what happened out there?” Leonard asked, but before he could get an answer Tunnel interjected with his own question.
“Why won’t Sharp wake up?” A tearful Tunnel begged Leonard.
Leonard gave Sharp a quick examination, kneeling down and checking the boy’s breathing pace. He eyed Sharp’s ear, it was all torn up. When he had been healed, the bleeding had stopped, but the ear itself hadn’t returned to normal.
“You use the fixer on him?” Tunnel nodded. Leonard held up his robotic hand, and pointed his index finger into the air.
Schwing!
A shining, thin blade sprouted from the finger-tip. Before Lasko and Tunnel could react, Leonard deftly sliced off the ear. Blood spurted out, spraying the hard ground.
“!!!” Lasko and Tunnel both leapt to their feet in shock. Leonard ignored their reaction, retracting the blade back into the robot arm.
“Why did you do that?” Lasko asked balefully.
Leonard wrinkled his brow at them, giving them a passive stare, the wrinkling above his eyes multiplying. “Sometimes the old fixers won’t fix up the extremities too good. Those times, it’s better to start from scratch.”
He placed a heavy robotic palm on Sharp’s chest. There was a quick whirring, and then Sharp’s body began to twitch; much less violently than the fixer caused. Almost as soon as he placed the hand, Leonard removed it, and then proceeded to take off the robotic armament. “This thing is pretty handy, but they make ya sweat worse than hell itself.”
Lasko was bewildered by the entire scenario, staring at Leonard in confusion, but then Tunnel exclaimed, drawing Lasko’s attention back to Sharp. “Look!”
Sharp’s bleeding had stopped, and in the place of the missing ear, a misshapen bud of flesh had grown. As he watched in amazement, the mass grew quickly in size, until it suddenly unfolded outward, flowering into a fully-fledged ear.
Leonard patted the hand fondly. “The latest tech really is something else, isn’t it? Took this hand off of a wasted drooler, before its buddies came to pick it up. Simply a beaut.” The wiry man winked at them. “You should see its other functions.”
Just then, Sharp shuddered, and the boy woke up, coughing. He turned on his side, spitting out a mixture of blood and metallic dirt.
Whoops. That probably got in there when I dropped him. Lasko thought apologetically.
Sharp looked around quickly, scanning his surroundings with confused, bleary eyes. “What… what happened?” He spotted Leonard, and glared. “…how’d we get to Leonard’s?”
Tunnel leapt at Sharp, hugging him fiercely. “We almost died. That drooler Pusher, he… he almost killed you.”
Sharp looked questioningly at Lasko, who nodded, pantomiming the pulling of a slingshot. “He must have gotten you right in the head.”
Sharp pushed off Tunnel, and wiped the nasty mixture of blood, dirt, tears, and mucus off of his neck. Tunnel had begun a fully-fledged bout of crying, and the mess had to fall somewhere.
“But how’d we get here?” Sharp asked, still trying to make sense of the situation.
Tunnel wiped his bloody face. “Lasko did something, and everything got all white. Then he grabbed you and we ran.”
“Huh?” Sharp looked like he was even more confused. He tried to get up, but then fell over almost immediately. He tried to get again but Leonard stopped him. “You need to rest, it sounds like you got yourself hurt pretty bad out there.”
“No… we gotta… we gotta start moving…” Lasko put his hand on Sharp’s shoulder.
“It’ll be ok, we will take care of it.” He reassured the stammering boy.
Sharp tried to say something else, but his eyes closed, and his head suddenly fell backwards, deep breathing erupting from his mouth.
That was quick. Lasko gently laid the boy’s head down, moving the bag over to pad his head from the hard ground.
“So, what do we do now?” he murmured to himself.
Leonard looked at him up and down with a mild look of concern. “Getting yourself cleaned up first might be a good start.”
Lasko looked down at himself. Sharp’s blood caked his clothing, as well as sweat and the metallic dirt.
“Ah.” Lasko looked up at Leonard. “You have a shower?”
Leonard gave him a wide smile. He snapped his fingers. “Glinda, please get me the shower, washing machine… and a vacuum.” The business man looked slyly at Lasko. “You mind if I put this on your tab? This all costs units you know.”
Tunnel was about to retort, but stopped when Lasko nodded in the affirmative. “Just keep the price fair.”
Lasko winked. “Don’t worry, there’s still plenty in your bucket… of credit.” He added hastily when Tunnel gave him a suspicious look.
Another floating robot swooped in, but this one was much wider than the others (it looked somewhat like a large patio umbrella. It hovered in the air indecisively until Leonard pointed towards Lasko and Tunnel.
“Those two.”
The floating umbrella swooped over the two, and Glinda’s somewhat mechanical voice sounded.
“Please remove your clothing and other accessories. Say, ‘ready,’ when you are, ‘ready,’ to begin.”
Here? Just out in the open? Lasko looked at Leonard, who was just staring at them nonchalantly. Then he looked at Tunnel, who looked up with him with expectant eyes, waiting for Lasko to move.
Okay… He began to peel off his clothing, throwing them and his utility belt in a pile in front of Leonard, nodding to Tunnel to do the same. Tunnel began to remove his clothes with abandon, apparently not having any problem showering naked in front of older men.
The innocence of youth. Lasko sighed inwardly, and contemplated whether or not he should leave his underwear on. He glanced at Leonard who was staring at him with a raised eyebrow.
Guess not. Lasko sighed again as he tossed his last shred of dignity onto the pile of clothing. He tried to subtly shield his privates with a free hanging hand. Future culture kind of sucks.
“Ready.”
A warm, thick mist began to fall, somehow managing to concentrate directly upon Lasko and Tunnel. Lasko began to wipe some of the blood off of his arm, to be surprised to see that the fluid started to lather. Not just water. He began thoroughly scrub with his hands, also massaging his scalp, the grit loosening from his hair and getting swept down with the streams of water convulsing on his body.
It felt good. The familiar yet nostalgic feel of the warm water made him think about how long he had been without. 1000 years. Lasko turned to look to see how Tunnel was doing.
The small boy was just standing there, his arms at his sides and with an upturned face, smiling peacefully, obviously enjoying the feeling. His smudged dirty face, however, was not getting any cleaner.
“Tunnel, you have to scrub a little bit.”
“Huh?” Tunnel tried to open his eyes to look at Lasko, but shut them again as water entered.
“Here.” Lasko used his hands to rub at Tunnel’s face, his exposed state completely forgotten. No wonder why these kids were so dirty all the time.
“Don’t forget his neck,” Leonard called out helpfully, from where he was watching.
Is this guy going to watch the whole time? Lasko thought.
While they were showering, a boxy robot came rolling towards Leonard, along with a robot that looked like a large drum on wheels.
Leonard kicked the pile of clothing on the ground. “Clean that.”
The box rolled over on top of the pile, and with a shudder, sucked up the entire pile into itself, tool belt and all. The machine started to rumble as it cleaned the clothing.
The large drum robot, without any indication from Leonard, moved forward on its own, and extending multiple small tubes from its body, began to suck up the dirtied water pooling on the ground.
After five or so minutes of the shower, the soapy water changed to plain hot water, rinsing off the suds. Soon after that, the water switched off altogether, and the two bathers were buffeted with surprisingly strong gusts of hot air.
The washer too, was apparently done with its cleaning cycle, spit out a steaming pile of clean clothing, and once Lasko and Tunnel were dry, they stepped over to the pile, picking out their clothing and wearing it. The comforting warmth of the fresh laundry made Lasko feel nostalgic again.
Lasko noticed Tunnel was looking at the sleeping Sharp, who just lay there still covered in dirt and blood.
“Do you have any hot towels we can use to bathe Sharp?” Lasko asked Leonard.
The grey haired man blinked. “Towels? I got clothes, sure.” He snapped his fingers, and while he was ordering the invisible Glinda, Lasko began to carefully remove Sharp’s shirt, trying not to wake the boy. Sharp snored away, completely knocked out.
Lasko caught Leonard’s eye, sending him a meaningful glance. The merchant caught on right away, and awkwardly clearing his throat, he tried to find a reason to talk to Lasko alone. “Uh… Lasko, about that favor you owed me, come on by to the back room, and I’ll show you what I’m looking for.”
Lasko turned to Tunnel. “Tunnel, can you take care of cleaning Sharp?”
Tunnel nodded. “I won’t wake him up.”
Lasko smiled, and tousled the kid’s hair. “You saved us out there, little buddy. Thank you.” Tunnel froze up again at the unexpected physical contact, but he relaxed quickly, and a smile came over his face. A floating robot came by, a few steaming towels hanging from it.
Those things are convenient. What can’t they do?
Lasko followed Leonard to the back, where Leonard sat down on a nearby rolling stool, crossing his arms. “Well?” the older man asked questioningly. “What happened?”
“We got jumped by those goons on the way back to our place. We barely escaped with our lives, as you can see,” Lasko said, grimacing. “Who is Vance, anyway?”
Leonard frowned. “No one you want to know. He’s the leader of the biggest faction within three hexes. About to be the only one, too. From what I hear, he’s been taking over every competing gang using every trick in the book, scruples be damned.” He shook his head. “Wrong person to make enemies with, havfta tell ya.”
“They said they were attacking us because we sold to you.” Lasko said pointedly.
Leonard gave Lasko a sheepish, tired look. Suddenly the spry old man seemed twenty years older. “Yeah. That drooler wants to be the only supplier of merchandise in the region. His minions have been going around town, cutting off all my supply connections, using brute force and any other cruel method his brain can cook up.”
Leonard banged his knee with a closed fist. “That shit-monger kidnapped a couple kids over on the northside, now the leader of the salvage team over there won’t sell me squat.” He sighed. “I can’t blame him. But still, we were old friends…”
Leonard snapped back to reality. “I recommend you boys get out of town, and stay far away for a good while. At least until things cool down.”
Lasko thought carefully. “How are we supposed to get out of here? They were watching us come in here the first time. They’d be watching for us again, guaranteed.”
Leonard looked at him in brief surprise. “Guaranteed. Damn! I’ve never heard that word said out loud before. I keep forgetting that you’re from up top.”
Not exactly, Lasko thought.
Leonard stood up, back to his energetic self, and clapped Lasko on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about a way out, I’ve got a secret method. For now, just tell me what you’ll need to survive for a while.”
Lasko raised an eyebrow. “It’ll come out of the bucket?”
The thrifty old man grinned widely. “Of course.”
The two of them headed back to where Tunnel and Sharp were. Lasko honestly didn’t have any idea of what they would need. Tunnel was finishing up, gently sliding a freshly cleaned shirt over Sharp’s still sleeping face.
“Tunnel.” Lasko sat down next to Tunnel. “We need to stay away from town for a while, so we don’t get into any more trouble with Vance’s crew. What will we need to survive for, say, a few months?”
Tunnel looked at him blankly. Lasko tried again. “What does Sharp usually buy when you two go into town?”
“Oh… food mostly. We got everything else… every once in a while he’ll buy some parts that Leonard don’t got.”
Lasko turned to Leonard. “You got any food that will last that long?”
Leonard thought, scratching his stubby chin. “Well, the gel-bars will last forever if you keep them in their original packaging… but I don’t have enough food to last a whole two months… maybe two weeks at most.”
“We’ll take what you have.” Lasko said decisively. “We don’t need water?” he asked Tunnel. The boy shook his head.
“The water machine makes water if you charge it.”
“Then I guess that’s all.” Lasko looked to Leonard. “Now what’s this way out you talked about?”
A mischievous grin spread over Leonard’s wrinkled face. “I’ve told you that I’ve dug underneath this warehouse down to the surface, didn’t I?”

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