Flynn kicked the stand down on his Harley, letting it rumble contentedly a moment, before shutting it off. This was as good a place as any. Greenery was lacking, but then it was lacking almost everywhere these days. Besides, the asphalt, soaking the heat of the sun, would keep him warm all night. He stretched and swung his leg over the bike, yawning, his huge jaws stretching wide. He pulled the bedrolls from the back, and then the tent. He unfolded the tent, and pulled out the metal pegs. Taking deep, slow breaths, he took aim, holding the peg ready, and struck with full force, using his palm. He swore...he'd buried the head in the asphalt again. He pulled a hammer from his toolbag, and used the claw end to pry it up a bit. He'd have to focus a bit more...or less, depending how you looked at it. He repeated the process 9 more times, having well practiced the placement of his pegs over the years. He could gauge the distance near perfectly even for those that held the poles in place.
The tent was up in fairly short order. The next task was to find fuel for a fire that would not stink him out...so the tire leaning against the wall was out. Hmmm...there was a garbage pile there...cardboard would work, but not last very long. Ah HAH! A door, busted from it's hinges long ago. It looked like the doors to the warehouse had been replaced with metal, and not too long ago. He set up two garbage bins beside each other and laid the door over it, then with a loud "Ki YAI!" he struck the door, and split it in two, then moved the bins closer, and did it again. A third, and a fourth time, and he had the required wood for the fire, as well as enough splinters to use for kindling, only a few of which had to be plucked from the blade of his hands. Soon he had a small blaze going, and a can of beans open and cooking over a rock. He stared into the flames, and reminisced....
Orison and the others were ahead, bounding over the thin alleyways of New Kennel. Some would stop and point at the spectacle if they saw it, but many residents had seen it time and time again. It was a silent spectacle, save an occasional slight thud from the wooden poles used to vault the bigger thorough-fares. Flynn did his best to keep up. Having just been accepted as a full brother, Flynn was anxious to prove his mettle.
The Brotherhood of Canine Destiny had been formed by a shaman of some power, one who had been a warrior before finding his true calling. He had begun channeling benevolent spirits through his body, rather than directing them externally, in the process learning how to enhance his body and abilities in many different ways. Some said that the spirits he channeled were not always so benevolent, and that was why he eventually dissappeared. This was the story taught the brothers, and indeed, those who had the talent, and felt the power infused by the rituals could not ever deny the presence of spirits and magic again.
Flynn shook his head, breaking his moment of reverie and continued his vaulting pursuit of the other brothers. The destination tonight was a rally of the Y.C.C., the Young Canine Corporates. The Y.C.C. was the KFC's recruitment program for corporate soldiers in the canine ghettos. Canines were essentially the least respected group of beings within the country, considered stupid and low. Half the prison populations were canine, and it was damn hard for any of them to escape poverty and ignorance. The KFC corporate troops was touted as the 'only way out'. The Brotherhood had started out peaceably and non-biased enough, not much caring either way for politics, seeking a more spiritual connection to this world. However, it soon became clear that the government was quickly becoming as destructive a force as any previous had been. Spirits and souls were inextricably linked, a part of a wider tapestry, and the corporate-backed government, with their increased militance, and increased oppression of the so-called lesser peoples was in essence ruining the tapestry. They were preventing an entire segment of the world's population from becoming what they were meant to be, to contribute their part of the tapestry. An enslaved mind, you see, could not see the world freely, and thus could only impose it's will on the world, and not share in it, or understand it. The Brotherhood decided it was time to break their silence, their isolation, and began actively seeking new recruits, as well as speaking out, freeing minds with small pieces of truth, designed to let the people question their perceptions, the perceptions fed to them by the government, and by extension, the KFC.
They arrived at the assembly without incident. Flynn followed Orison to the broadcast room, and guarded the door as Orison quickly...very quickly, swept in and took out the guards. When the signal came that all was well, Flynn set up the reel. The images started out innocently enough, allowing the unsuspecting official to begin his speech unimpeded. A good thing, as the official displayed the usual nervous tic of checking the screen behind him to help him keep on track. However, as usual, once the speech began to flow, he ignored the screen and began to work the crowd. A crowd which seemed to grow increasingly restless as images of women being beaten in protest rallies interspersed with corporate slogans. There was an image of a KFC soldier holding a canine baby out of a window by one leg while a distraught mother could be barely seen in the background. There were even ferret protestors being shipped off in trains. There were images of the camps these folk were sent to. The canines were never so lucky. Canines who opposed the empire ended up in mass graves. The final message displayed was "Think. Do not act. Riots are quelled every day. Take this knowledge with you and spread the truth." in big, bold letters. The final image was of imperial soldiers aligned in riot gear. "Applaud! Not for the speaker, but for those who died to bring you this!"
Flynn smiled grimly as the shocked canine youths tried to assimilate this. The images just as quickly changed to the standard imperial banner, just as the speaker looked back one last time, confused by the somewhat hostile look on some of the canine faces. Then, someone started clapping, grimly, slowly, almost a martial cadence. Elsewhere in the crowd, someone else joined in. Soon a chorus of stamping feet and clapping began, and the non-plussed official shrugged and bowed.
Y.C.C. memberships declined rapidly that night. Uniforms filled dumpsters, and "gang activity" grew exponentially. The empire knew of course what had happened, as the KFC official got the story from his K-Oed guards about ten minutes after the crowd had dispersed. In the nights to come, many youths dissappeared off the streets. But for each one that did, three more knew why it had happened. Those that survived the Nights of Blood that followed became a resistance movement that continued to this day. The Brotherhood never had such a successful outing. It was Flynn's proudest moment, even if the grim memory of the aftermath clouded it....
Flynn swore profusely, smelling burnt beans. He grabbed a very worn and stained oven mitt and pulled the steaming mess from the fire. It was about then that he heard the sound of people approaching. His first thought was...man...that tank is a piece of CRAP!
And unfortunately, he had never seen the value of keeping his opinions to himself, though he did temper them slightly. "Oy there, blighters! Looks like you've been through hell and back...and brought back a piece of it. Amazed you made it here in one piece in that thing."
Of course, that was exactly the wrong thing to say to Reeza. "Nobody talks 'bout Reeza's bootiful toy dat way! Reeza kill!" Unfortunately, she tried to do it with the tank, and hit a few buttons, aiming the cannon...the cannon moved, stopped in the general vicinity of the target, but when Reeza tried to fire...there was a whine, a crackle and a pop, and the tank powered down, coming to a complete stop.
Flynn couldn't help a grin. "Sorry lady, guess I'm tank proof...but hey...that piece of crap got ya here, so it's already outreached itself. Give it some love."
Sputtering, Reeza was about to climb out and 'keeel' with a more personal approach, but was stopped by the Kommanda, who was a bit more concerned that someone apparently knew about their base, and wanted information that would not be forthcoming from a bloodied pulp. He popped his lupine head up, and gave a growl of challenge. It was inevitable that instinct would crop up upon meeting another canine. He had the urge to circle the dog...a pitbull by the looks of it, but managed to curb it.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here? Are you a friend of Red's?"
Red piped up, as confused as the rest. "Never seen him before in my life".
"Name is Flynn. Just a traveller, happened to stop in an empty lot that apparently is claimed. Why don't you park that piece of crap, and come enjoy the fire...we'll have a jolly BBQ, and get to know one another. Not like I have anywhere better to be, and I already set up camp."
"Hellz no! Reeza not gonna let sum dum-dum doggie say Reeza's tank is crap! No wayz, no howz. Reeza want ta tear his gumdrops offa his little stick! "
Flynn ignored her to an extent, sniffing the air. "I smell coffee...I haven't had a cup in weeks." He looked to Reeza. "Tell ya what...Reeza, is it? I'm a fair man. I've insulted your tank, and you've been held back from retaliating. I'll give you three tries to hit me, same as baseball. Sound fair? If you manage it, I apologize about the tank, we forget about it, and have us a cup of joe, all of us. If you do hit me...and I'm still conscious, mind you...then I still apologize, and I head on down the road, never to bother ya again."
Reeza growled low, and it almost sounded like pleasure at the thought...she looked to the Kommanda, who looked bemusedly at Flynn, shaking his head as if to say "It's your funeral, buddy."
Flynn put his hands together, and bowed.
Reeza charged, leaping from the tank, producing a wrench seemingly from nowhere. The bulldog sidestepped, and let himself fold backwards, better than any limbo champion. Even Dante would have been leary of entering such a contest with him. The wrench sailed past, and Reeza, having been sure of her hit, spun around twice, due to momentum, a bewildered look on her face. Flynn popped up, and drew a hand across his brow.
"Phew...close one..." he said...even though it had obviously not been. Flynn was trying to be magnanimous, and make Reeza feel better about the effort...but unfortunately he wasn't very good at it, so Reeza heard it as taunting sarcasm. A strangled cry escaped her lips, and with a shout she threw the wrench towards his head, following behind the wrench with a tackle/clothesline...Flynn wasn't sure if that counted as two attempts or one, but didn't have time to debate it, as he spun to avoid the first, and then rolled under Reeza's arm. She tripped over his foot, as his roll had been a little closer than Flynn would have liked. Flynn rolled (not a somersault, but a side roll) and reached a desperate grab, catching Reeza before her face hit the dirt...unfortunately by the hair. He was essentially now in a position more suited to a game of Twister.
This was going to hurt, thought Flynn, hearing her ear-splitting shriek. He closed his eyes as Reeza rolled over, the blade of her hand finding it's way into his throat....after a few moments of wheezing for breath as Reeza disentangled herself, Flynn mercifully lost consciousness. His last thought was to ask himself...was that two attempts missed, or three? Shoulda appointed a dang referee...