Nix awoke in the morning and giggled to herself. Reaper was already out for the day. She quickly got into her skeleton outfit. She had just finished adjusting her mask when the door opened. She turned with a tiny leap and threw her arms out dramatically. "Surpri-! .....no." In the doorway stood Reaper...dressed as Nix. He was grinning like an idiot and holding her ax and shield. "Reaper, no. Change immediately. " "I don't know what you're talking about. I am Nix Kani Family yadda yadda insert names here." "I'll destroy you. " "It's ok. I'm a medic. "
The jeep pulled up to the grey, cracked building of the Wa*mat. Nix's breathing quickened in pace with her heart as the stench of death hit her nostrils. Reaper drove the jeep slowly down the jagged road. In front of the structure rested giant wooden spikes jutting from the ground, crude tents, campfires, and strings of skulls and dead animals. The whole place stunk of rot. The jeep slowed and came to a stop about 30 feet from the broken front doors. Reaper honked the horn in an age old sign of announcing one's presence and requesting an audience. After nearly 30 seconds, a ghoul with greenish skin covered in sores crawled out of the structure. He stood and approached, stopping halfway between the building and the jeep. "Help you?" Draco, Nix, and Reaper climbed out of the jeep. Arsyn and Trask stayed put, armed and ready. Nix hid behind her husband, peeking around his side. "We are looking for Ridell," Draco announced. The ghoul turned and made a gutteral snarl at the building. Several responses were heard from the shadows and Nix clung to her naga tighter. He squeezed her hand. "You want Rid," the ghoul said. Another infected crawled from the doorway and approached. Nix immediately recognized the long horns and teal skin. Balor was right. Ridell survived. But he didn't quite make it. "Hey there, friend," Draco said, raising his hands in a peaceful motion. "It's Draco Tychon. You remember me?" Rid shook his head. "Don't remember. You leave now. " He turned to leave. "Hey wait!" Draco yelled. "We need your help. We're trying to find Pax. You remember pax?" Ridell turned back around. "...name is familiar. " Nix finally stepped out from behind Reaper. "Ridell, Kanuk palui na raga Pax ahashi Maumau? Otex? Lebi catuva zo." Rid thought for a moment. "Pax may have lived. Wife is dead. We ate her. Baby is dead. Didn't eat him. Leave now or become food." He turned to leave again. Draco grabbed his shoulder. "Come on, man. We haven't seen you in forever. We thought you were dead!" Ridell whipped his head around and growled, saliva dripping from his teeth. The other ghouls heard him and began to emerge from the wa*mat slowly, snarling as well. Nix dug her nails into Reaper's arm and Draco took a step back from their old friend. A ghoul with green/grey skin that was falling off his face. The leader. He stared at the group then reared his head back and gave an ear-splitting shriek. The ghouls rushed them. "Run or fight!" Draco yelled. Nix grabbed his arm and shoved Reaper ahead of her as they bolted for the truck. Arsyn's machine gun roared to life and gunned down Rid and the delegate zombie who first emerged. Reaper pulled his wife ahead of him and grabbed her waist, hoisting her into the passenger seat of the truck. That was when he was yanked backwards by his throat. He landed on his back. Hard. His head hit the ground with a dull thud and his vision blurred for a moment. Standing above him, with an open, drooling mouth and long, jagged teeth, was the leader. The disgusting creature raised a hand to claw off his face when suddenly it's head snapped to the side. His jae ripped off with a sickening tearing sound and Nix's baseball bat had green glesh caught in the barbed wire. "DON'T YOU F**KING DARE!!" She swung again at his kneecap and tore his leg out from under him. He fell to the side. A few swings later, all that remained of the monster's mangled face was flesh, skull, and brain matter littering the ground. Meanwhile, Draco tackled a ghoul approaching from behind. The others had fled back to the Wa*mat after the leader went down. After a flash of silver, the ghoul lay, throat slit, at Draco's feet. Nix was sobbing as she continued to completely obliterate her opponent's body. Reaper stood up and rubbed his head. "Nix?" He watched her for a moment and worry kicked in. "Nix? Swertheart. " He and Draco walked over and gently pulled her away from the carnage toward the vehicle. Everyone loaded up and Nix sat, shaking, in the shotgun seat. Reaper rubbed her back. "Was he the one you told me about? From your nightmares. " She sniffed and nodded. He squeezed her hand reassuringly and smiled. "You were awesome back there. I'm so friggin proud of you. "
Nix stared in wonderment at the buildings around her. She and Reaper had been walking nearly 30 minutes and were still inside the city. In Kaa, the homes were build directly into the side of the cliff. In Greyfell, everything was tents, wooden shacks, and old metal trailers. Here, it looked as though the old structures of the pre-war had been mostly rebuilt. There were massive metal frames that had long sheets of canvas strung over them to create the walls of a bazaar, stone buildings big enough to house all of Greyfell. Apparently Wa*mat was really something called a "Walmart." Nix knew this only because of the blasted letters etched in the front of one of the massive buildings. As though those letters were the only thing protecting the formerly white stone wall underneath. The whole place was bustling with people and sounds. No one carried more than a dagger or pistol, if that, on their person when walking the streets. Except for the guards, of course. She saw a man on a soap box playing violin as people tossed tabs into the case. There was what appeared to be a recruitment stand for the Legion where an officer of some sorts watched a civilian do push ups with a pleased expression. Vendors were yelling out their wares and the whole block smelled like food. Nix's tummy rumbled loudly enough for Reaper to hear it. He smiled and bought her a cooked lizard on a stick. "It's good. I promise. " "I'm well aware. I'm the one who got you to try one in Kaa." "Oh yeah! You'll dig that, then. We should pick up a bottle of wine and some REAL dinner." Might as well. Turns out Skullmaster was in hiding after recent events. Reaper didn't provide the details but said they would meet with him tomorrow. So instead, they had spent the day around the city. A letter came to Nix that morning, express shipped from Draco, who said he had made it to Kaa with no trouble. Pax was not there. Nor had he been there in the last year. He had also sent Trask and Reyna to ask around up north in Dodge and Copen. He would ask around in each town he stopped at and then return to RC. Nix felt bad for sitting tight while Draco did the hard work. But there was nothing they could do until she met with Skullmaster. He would take her description of Pax and report it to Family all over Kasm. If anyone found him, Reaper and Nix would know within a week. The prospect was exciting. Before Draco took his trip to Arch City, Nix firmly believed that she was the sole survivor of the ghoul attack. Her guilt for running was suddenly immensely relieved. She squeezed Reaper's hand. "What's the matter?" He asked, running his thumb over hers reassuringly. "Nothing!" She said, a bit too quickly. He simply stared at her. Nix sighed. "I'm afraid Pax will be mad at me for what happened. And that he won't like you..." "Who doesn't like me?" Reaper asked, looking genuinely shocked at the prospect. Nix raised her eyebrow and stared at him skeptically. "Point is," she continued, "i never really saw myself with someone like you. And Pax's morals are stronger than mine. ....i wonder if he knows I'm alive. If he's mad at me, he wouldn't have bothered to look for me." "Oh stop," he said, stealing a bite of her lizard. "He loves you. You two were inseparable growing up. He either thinks you're dead or has no clue where to find you. But he's been looking. Believe me. " He smiled and tugged her arm. "Now let's go get some dinner. We have a big day tomorrow and you've experienced a lot today." She chuckled and allowed herself to be lead down the street toward the smells and sounds of the city.
Nix pulled back the curtains and gazed out over the city. She had never seen anything quite like it. The messa was large but even it didn't quite compare to the sheer size of Radio City. The building they were in was at least 5 stories high. They had been pulled up to their floor by a basket connected to a huge metal crank. To think, someone's entire job was to crank a basket between floors. Reaper was laying on the bed with a glass of whiskey in one hand and his legs propped up on each other. She had never seen her husband look so relaxed. "What's the matter, honey?" He asked. "Oh nothing! This place is just so big. Why would you move to Greyfell from here?" He laughed. "Give it a bit for some individuals to realize I'm back. I enjoy the luxury of living here. Not the danger. However, after Greyfell, this place may even feel safe. I wouldn't have brought you otherwise." Nix moved to sit on the bed and look around the room. It was at least twice the size of their tent and very well furnished. Reaper leaned up and kissed her cheek. He smelled like liquor and was grinning like an idiot. The two had been fighting a lot lately. Nix worried that they may have rushed into the marriage. She loved him absolutely! He saved her life! He was her hero. He was a great man. It's just all the stress the couple had been forced to go through with The Family was begining to negatively affect their marriage. She prayed that, after being able to relax and worry less, they would be able to move past a few thing. Reaper was nuzzling her shoulder affectionately. He just looked so content. "I'm sleepy," he mumbled. Nix smiled to herself. "Alright, sweetheart. Let's go to sleep." She took her Naga's glass and placed it on the bedside table and tucked him into bed. He was snoring before she even got into her pajamas. The door was ajar. She supposed Reaper had forgotten to shut it completely. She quietly walked across the room and looked out into the hall. The building was so quiet it could have been empty. Nix looked back at her sleeping husband. No one really knew who she was. He wouldn't be introducing her to Skullmaster and the Twins until tomorrow when they would explore the city. She wondered if she really deserved him. No matter what she did, she felt as though she was disappointing him. No one would think to follow her if she left. Reaper would be asleep well into tomorrow... She sighed and closed the door. She walked back over, carefully climbed into bed. Holding her naga tightly, she fell asleep. Tomorrow, she would explore her first city.
"I know, i know! But we have to see...." Nix pleaded with her husband. "If there is any chance I'm not the only Kanili who survived, i have to look into it. Please do not make me do this all by myself." "What about the rest?" Reaper asked, running his hands through his hair in an absently stressed motion. "The rest are leaving or have no reason to stay. Our people are tired of being targeted when all we want is to be left alone. Price left. Draco left. Sparrow and Echo have been in Radio City for weeks now. Draco offered to come with us and to have Trask and Arsyn keep an eye out as well. The Family is far from the power house it used to be. It would be better to just let them go and take some time away from Greyfell." Reaper sighed and stared at the floor. Ash was sitting on their bed and Draco was perched in the doorway, waiting. She loving grabbed his face and tilted his head upward. "Reaper, my brother is alive. I HAVE to find him. The Family has been falling apart for months. We barely know any of our current members here anymore. Let's go back to RC. We can relax and send out word of my brother so people may find him and send him our way. " That got his attention. "We can really just go take it easy? " "Of course. I'm tired of always worrying about keeping our people safe. After we search the surrounding towns and ask if anyone has seen a young man who looks like me, we can follow those leads or go home and take it easy. We'll have much less to worry about with just you, me, Ash, and maybe Pax. " From the entrance of the tent, Draco spoke up for the first time. "I would be happy to accompany you in finding Pax. I'll get ahold of some contacts and see who all of the survivors we can find. Reaper, until now, Nix and I believed we were the only ones left." Reaper nodded. "You're right. This is important. And the Family division here is in constant danger. Maybe they'll be safer without us. Otherwise, they can go to Radio City as well. When we come back, we can play by ear whether or not we want more Family members in Greyfell. Go tell our people. We can leave as soon as we get packed. Leave the tent. Hokah can guard camp while we are gone. " Nix smiled widely and kissed her husband, full of excitement. "Ash! Go pack your things and tell your pet that he's in charge of the camp. I'll tell our people that we are leaving. " Draco and Ash left to get ready. Nix walked over to sit next to her Naga. "Are you truly ok with this?" "Of course. This is important to you. And you were right. They'll be safer without us. I don't know why everyone seems to have a problem with me but I'm sorry it has so often endangered you." "I knew what i was getting into. And i trust you to keep me safe no matter where we go. " "Do you think we'll find your brother?" "He's my twin. Maybe i can sense him if i get close enough. And who knows. Maybe the hint i left at the grove will bring him to us. Push come to shove, he may find us here or in RC. But i won't give up. I'll find the survivors. " She gripped his hand and squeezed. The two went on to pack their things, help Ash load his bags, and take the war rig back to Radio City. Nix trusts her people to keep themselves safe.