“Tell you what, pal. How about you install the Neuro transmitter, and I’ll give you three MREs, a spiked bat, and this old wristwatch. It just needs a new battery and it’ll be as good as new. Whaddya say?”

Dr.Scarz looked at the bounty. It was a good haul, to be sure, a couple days of food, some good barter. Putting in a Neuro transmitter was pretty easy, as far as surgery goes. It was one of the first things he had learned how to do when starting his surgeon training in posterity. After all, in order for any prosthetics to work, you needed to have a one. So, before you could learn to attach anything else, you had to learn this. I mean, you didn’t have to, but Scarz didn’t see any point on learning to attach any of the other gear if he couldn’t do the most important piece?

“Well, it looks to me like-“Scarz didn’t get another word out of his mouth before he was bumped out of the way.

“Well, it looks to us like you are trying to get some advanced surgery for a bunch of crap, that’s what it looks like,” Catch glowered. The waster started to protest but Catch put her engine grease covered hand over his mouth before he could say squat. “Uh uh. No. You and I both know that there aren’t many people who can put this ware in you, and it’s gonna cost a little more than one day of food, a stick and a broken watch. What else ya got?”

As Catch removed her had from the Man’s face, he wiped away a little bit of the grease, looking furious. “I didn’t hear him say that, and he’s the one I’m dealing with. Not you, little Miss Busybody.” The man moved closer to Catch, clearly trying to intimidate her with his size. He got a lot shorter after Catch punched him in the throat, though. People always get shorter when that happened. They drop to their knees and start trying to find their breath, which they must have dropped on the ground. Catch now towered over him.

“Listen, little Mr. cheapskate. You got two choices. You can pay Dr. Scarz what he’s worth, or you can go somewhere else. But you and I both know that going somewhere else could leave you dead, more likely than not, and even if you don’t die, maybe it won’t work quite right. So, make up your mind, but I’m really not interested in arguing about it anymore.”

As she said the last bit she moved to an old couch and splayed out across it like a cat, seemingly disinterested. Seemingly, but as the man stood up after finding where he dropped his breath, he couldn’t help but notice the wrench that was lazily dangling in her left hand.

“I uh,” the man grunted and coughed a few times and held his throat. Scarz didn’t move to help him. He was probably fine. Probably. After a few moments, he collected himself and looked to Dr.Scarz plaintively, but Scarz was impassive, just absently spinning a scalpel around his thumb, which quite frankly, did nothing to ease the man’s mind.

“Well, I mean, I suppose it is pretty big deal to get your brain altered…and I suppose I could part with maybe a couple more MREs, I go this shitty Umbrella…and maybe this.” The man produced a little silver case, which he popped open to reveal what looked like… six cigarettes.

Scarz looked over at Catch, who just dismissively nodded. Scarz smiled, “well it seems like we have a deal. Head into the room to your right, and I’ll be right in to perform the procedure.”

As the man exited, Scarz approached Catch, who was still lying laconically on the couch.
“Were you really going to do it for so little?” Catch asked. Before Scarz could answer, Catch was off.

“I’m going to tell you the same thing I told him. There aren’t many people who can do what you do. It has VALUE. You must assign worth to it. We are not going to make it out here if we don’t value ourselves. We KNOW stuff, and just because it’s simple to us, doesn’t make it simple to them. And we need to eat, and get shelter and we need to use our smarts to get that done. You get me?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course, Catch. I get you. You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking. It just seemed so easy…”

Catch started laughing, and Scarz, not knowing what else to do, started laughing along, though he wasn’t sure what was so funny.

“It’s literally brain surgery. You fuck it up, they die. You are probably one of the only people in the world that would call it easy” Catch brought her head in close to Scarz, putting her forehead against his. “We’re gonna make it out here, and we’re gonna do it because we’re smart.”

Catch moved her head back but kept her hands on the sides of Scarz’s face. “But part of being smart is valuing things correctly. So, rather than say ‘How hard is this for me’ say ‘How scarce is this resource’, because that’s how it is up here. We’re not in Prosperity anymore.”

As though to confirm this fact, there was a loud explosion that shook the makeshift shelter they worked out of in the camp. Catch immediately produced a large wrench, pulled her goggles down over her eyes, and pushed through the makeshift door to the outside. Scarz, cautiously, lowered his goggles and push outside after her.

Being Havassian meant a lot of things, and one of those things is that the sun is not your friend. Dr. Scarz often thought that there was nothing more beautiful than the sky at night and nothing more terrifying than the midday sun.

As Scarz stepped outside, even though he had his shaded goggles on, the light blinded him. The air, dust filled as it was, felt glorious on his face, mitigating the fire pouring down from the ball in the sky. It would be a while before he would be able to be in the sun for more than a few minutes without tiring, maybe never, but sometimes it was worth it, just to feel a breeze, something that living in Prosperity he had never experienced.

Another explosion. As his eyes adjusted he turned to see what it was to see Catch come sprinting around a corner, panic clear on her face.


Scarz had never seen Catch look so scared, but as the she ran toward him, the reasons became clear. Two motorcycles came tearing around the corner after her. Bandits. Fuck.

Scarz turned and ran back into the Structure, grabbed his bag and headed out through the back door and booked it. Catch had outlined an escape plan, because of course she had, and Scarz began executing it. Catch would be right behind him and they’d meet at the rendezvous point if they got separated. That was the plan. He hustled out the back and into the blinding midday sun.

Catch saw Scarz go inside with a sigh of relief. Hopefully, he’d stick to the plan, but she wasn’t even sure if it would matter. Scarz had only seen the few bandits chasing her, but catch new this settlement was doomed. There were so many. But she could at least give her friend more time. The motorcycle pulled up along side her, two riders both mocking her attempts to escape.

“Ha ha! Keep running, little girl. No one’s gonna save you! HAHHAHA”

The laughter stopped abruptly after she stuck her wrench in the front wheel of the bike. The riders flipped over the front wheel of the bike, tossed aside yelling, the bike landing in a pile behind them with a crash.

Catch ran to the bike and pulled the handlebars up, seeing a potential escape route. Only the handle bars came up, ripping away from the chassis. Too much damage. The other bike was bearing down on her, seeing that she was dangerous, and had lost her wrench, they were looking to get her before she got it back. She threw the handlebars at the driver, and he dumped the bike to avoid them, the other rider jumping free and diving at catch screaming manically.

He tackled her and they fell to the ground in a heap. The bandit rolled on top of Catch and started trying to secure her hands. He fumbled at his waist, trying to get some zip ties out, spilling most of them. Catch twisted her wrist to escape and punched at his face, which he leaned back to avoid, still screaming at her. As he leaned back, she shifted her hips and kicked right leg left and around the bandit, hooking her heel up around his neck and slamming him down with it. She kneeled over him and punched again, and this time, there was no avoiding it. She was up again in a flash, but the other bikers had recovered and now she was surrounded. She kicked the probe bandit and screamed in frustration as they closed in on her. At least maybe she had bought Scarz some time to get away, she thought, and as she launched herself at the closest bandit, they fell on her in a scrum.

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