Chapter Two

You're probably thinking my actions back there were a bit unfair, and a bit uncalled for... Ye'd be half-right on either count. I was in full right punishing a man illegally selling weapons while under the influence, especially as he hadn't even checked my weapons license before showing me the stuff- also illegal.

Why, you might then ask, would you be right at all, when I was fully authorized to act as I did? Well... I'd be lyin' if I told you that's why I'd actually smacked'im.

Y'see, it was the day of my tenth birthday- my dad had bought me a tent as a present, and I'd insisted on sleeping in it that night. Outside- and alone- so's to show how grown up I was. That's why I'm still alive today, and why I saw my house, the only home I'd known since birth, firebombed into ash... with my parents still inside.

So I never quite liked firebombs- won't use'em myself. And when some git's sellin'em to any man on the street without even the judgment to think of what might be done with'em...

Then there's still the fact that, even though it's legal to take double-stock on supplier's mistake, it sure as heck ain't ethical, and it just sort'a felt right to punch the bastard.


Kane broke out of his thoughts and looked around. He'd almost gotten back to the cart, and Matt was standing there already- a plate of food held in his outstretched hand. Taking the plate, Kane started eating- questioning between (and amid) bites, "You're back early... couldn't find a cute girl to woo?"

Matt took a step back to avoid flying food and spit. "I found one..." He gave a light, mirthless laugh, and continued, "turned out to be a whore."

Kane choked. "Underground, or choice?"


After sighing, Kane returned to his much sedated meal. With the tremendous outbreak of rape and other sexual crimes after the fall of the governments came an overwhelming rise in STDs; statistically speaking, having sex with more than one person anymore, or with a person who'd had it before, was to condemn oneself to death. Normally within an outside range of ten years.

Keeping that in mind, whores were generally produced from girls who'd been kidnapped by the underground and drugged into submission- or from girls with no desire to live. Those who frequented them normally did so with the mentality of someone on death row taking a last meal... making it a truly unpleasant business all around.

"So... do we have a new hunt, then?"

"Yup," finishing his meal, Kane tossed his plate and utensils into a nearby receptacle, then handed the bounty sheet to Matt as he chuckled, "and a few souvenirs, too!"

Matt sighed as he took the sheet- he'd never quite understood the amusement Kane got from having people after his head. As he scanned the sheet for pertinent information, Kane decided to actually look over the 'souvenirs'.

They'd gotten a good picture of Matt- he was casually leaning against some building or another, his long-sleeved white shirt and silver embroidered black vest complimented by his matching pistols and belts, and the black pants tucked into his boots. As he often drove into towns after nightfall to find public access cleansers, everything from the soles of his boots up was immaculate, and he looked quite sharp indeed...

Kane's picture was good too, though. Well, it was realistic, anyhow... with one hand holding his cannon, and the other one scratching his nether-regions.

He was depicted in his normal gear- dark brown pants tucked into black, steel-toed boots, a collarless shirt that... appeared to be... off-white, tucked into the pants, with his weapon-packed, tan leather trenchcoat over everything... open, as always. He was also wearing his normal necklace, a leather band with a small assortment of fangs dangling from it, and his floppy-brimmed hunting hat- pulled low enough to hide his eyes. What could be seen of his face, except where a long scar ran down his right cheek, was covered in rough stubble. And his hair, hanging down around his shoulders, appeared to be a dirty blonde. Or a greasy, bloodstained blonde, as the case more often stood.

Considering such things as cleansers and hygiene to be secondary to other important things like... sleep... Kane was generally long since snoring by the time Matt found a place to clean up. Also, as having and storing corpses and copious amounts of blood was not a particularly foreign event, and, as said items where normally kept in the area where Kane slept, it was not a necessarily surprising thing for him to be somewhat... pungent. In fact, outside of the rare occasion when the two slept in town overnight and so had easy, convenient access to a cleanser, there really wasn't anything else expected.

"Kane... this 'Greg' person, you have any idea where he is?"


"Then... ?"

"I'll be putting in a call to the twins."


In a room lit only by the eerie blue glow of a half dozen electronic screens- some complete monitors, others no more than projections in thin air- two ghostly figures sat utterly still, except for their fingers, which practically flew across the slew of keys and switches before them. These... were the twins.

Though fraternal, there where still many that had trouble telling the two apart- even with the assistance of the female's slight breasts and curves as visual reference. They both stood about 5'5", and wore their naturally bleach-blonde hair short and spiked- setting out their sky-blue eyes clearly against their pale faces.

A mechanical buzzer sounded somewhere above the twins' heads, and the clicking of keys came to an immediate halt. Flicking a switch, the male- in a well-defined, old New Yorker accent- began to speak. "Hey! Ye've reached de' office of Mike'n'Mack Hacken. Yer' transmissi'n's truly important to us, but at the moment we're friggin' busy so..."


As the good-natured, yet slightly frustrated roar came through one of the many speakers in the room, Mack, the female of the two, quickly flicked a second switch and laughed as Kane's face appeared on one of the larger screens. "Uncle Kane!"


Sitting backwards in the back of his cart as it sped over the grass, some distance away, Kane laughed as well, at the sound of his old nickname coming through the mobile transmitter he held. He had no actual family relation to the twins...

It'd happened a little over seventeen years before- Kane had been twenty, Matt had just turned fourteen, and the two had only been hunting for a few years. They had come across a young couple... stranded in the brush when the vehicle they'd been riding had quit. There was no accident, or wreckage- it looked as if one of the jet cells had died, and the craft had just coasted to a stop. It was a fairly common occurrence, but more of an annoyance than a danger. (Somewhat akin to the blowing of a tire.) Even so, the woman was screaming as if in pain, and the young man was running around in a panic- so Kane had Matt pull to a stop. (The cart, as well as any other craft manufactured at the time, was equipped with autopilot- and enough anti-accident detectors and overrides that the worst possible thing that could be done with them, really, was to take a wrong turn. With that being the case, as Matt seemed to enjoy it, he was allowed to steer. And after doing it for a few years it became just another part of how the two worked together.)

It was after they stopped that they found out that the woman was nine months pregnant, and ready to give birth at any minute... with the nearest hospital 20 kilos away.

With Matt and Kane being more practiced at killing things than helping them, and the young man being- of all things- an apprentice at a funeral parlor, they decided not to risk an attempt at delivering on their own. Instead, the couple was loaded into the back of the cart (which was, luckily, bounty free, and had been recently cleaned) and driven the rest of the way to the hospital...

A normal craft, at top speed, would've made the trip in maybe ten minutes. Kane and Matt, with the full capabilities of a hunter's craft, made it in three... Just in time for the woman to be taken by doctors and carted off to give birth. (Kane was then quite pleased with his newly acquired cart- and with it's shielding, which had protected all involved from the wind, and the greater force of the tremendous speeds.)

Mr. and Mrs. Hacken, as they happened to be, were the proud parents of fraternal twins shortly after. And Kane, due to a combination of his love of children and his feeling of connection to the twins- in particular- made a point of checking in on the family semi-frequently, often staying in the town where they lived for a couple days every three or four months.

In their gratitude, the young Hackens introduced him as 'Uncle Kane' as soon as the twins were old enough to understand. And- as they grew through the years- the title stuck.

"So what can we do for you?"

"And please do hurry- though I'm sorry for da' shove off we really are busy. We're workin' for da' gover'ment now!"

"The government?" Turning back from the cart's controls and leaning enough to see the transmitter's screen, Matt questioned, "What do they want you to do... look up dirty pictures for the men in charge, or something?"

The twins laughed, then blushed.

"No... but dat's a spookily acc'rate guess."

"That was last month's assignment."

"This month we're actually workin' on weaponry design!"

... Kane decided not to think about it. "Can you two find me information on a man name o' Greg Miller... same charge as always?"

The twins just grinned as their fingers went flying back to the keys.