“We need to go,” insisted Scotty from the darkness. “I will guide you Setron can take care of those.”

”Are you not fascinated with what she does?” I asked the man, who was now leading me forward and holding my hand

“Setron and her sister are absolutely amazing,” Scotty said as he lead me into a dimly lit room. 

Setron and her sister Mari are a very rare subspecies of Taur.  Very sought-after combination of magic and might. Having both within the boundaries of the Zoo was immensely dangerous.  There were two different governing groups within the Zoo.  The Network and the Shaw. 

The Shaw is a militia built and contained within the center of the abandoned city. The Shaw is a multi-tentacled organization with access to the outside world.  The world as it was back then and still is today works on threads and who controls those threads.  The Shaw pulled from one end and the leaders of the Northwest territory from the other.  

The Network on the other hand was an organization similar to an underground railroad. Coyotes would shepherd new people from the gate to various safe houses called Stations and through the Zoo.  There were 13 stations placed within the rectangular zoo in a badly drawn circle and the 13th station sat within the Tower downtown.  The Shaw and Network competed for bandwidth on the Citizens Band Radio Service that broadcast from that Tower.  Both organizations had an uneasy relationship but tried their best to keep peace and order within the chaos that imprisoned them.  

Scotty, the man with the leather mask was one of those coyotes and seemed to be pretty competent. He got along with the other people standing in a subway station. He seemed to greet everyone we came across as he also lead me forward like a child hanging onto his mother. The lights above my head were dim but working.  The room seemed to be a shopping area, with grime and dirt-covered residents entering and exiting a subway train in the center of the room.  Wagons sat against the walls of the room with vendors selling, what looked like food.  Tools hung from crude shelves of other vendors as people seemed to shop around.

Eventually, I shook my hand from Scotty’s grip and stopped. 

“What am I looking at here,” I said protesting. 

“This, my friend is Station Two.  It’s a bit like the Ellis Island of the US when it existed. This car, old Michigan 21001, serves as the entry point.  We will get you processed and up and running.  Vendors hang around because the Stations are generally the safest place to be around here.  Once you go up those stairs, you are on your own.” 

On the right side was a set of stairs exiting the subway.  Upon the stairs guards, dressed in black stood waiting.  

“What is with the black outfits?” I asked. 

“Those are the Network guards,” Scotty explained.

“They defend us from the Resurrected or split up any fights we may get ourselves into.  The uniform is stolen from guards outside the wall.  You don’t want to see what we used to wear prior to scavenging those uniforms.  There are not many uniforms available. It’s actually one of the few jobs available but that will be something you will have to decide once you head into Processing.

“I’m not being processed,” I protested. 

“Poked and prodded and identified… I’m not doing that.  You do know who I am, right?  The Butcher?  They will have me arrested, stood in front of all the people that are pissed at me and everyone will watch me be torn limb from limb.  I swear to God, I will not be processed.”

Scotty stood in front of me.  His exposed face was scarred. The ends of his mouth were drawn down.  

“Listen, I’m not your mother, nor your father.  I lead you through that mess at the gate. I lead you through the darkness of the corridor. The others wander around the station without trouble.  I’m telling you how we do things around here but I really don’t care if you do it.  You are a grown-ass man, do what you want.”

With that said Scotty turned and left.  He headed up the stairs and disappeared.  I never saw him again but he left me in a mess of angry emotions, standing in the middle of a crowded subway station. The abruptness of his turn and departure left nowhere for that anger to go and it disappeared. 

Left alone in a crowded room I stood watching until someone shouted in my direction. 

“Hey, Butcher.  Get in line with us. Let’s get this registration taken care of so we can get some weapons and kick some Resurrected ass.” 

The twins, Sean and Andrew Baker stood in line at a door with a “1” painted above. Rebecca, the young girl lost in the mob of Resurrected 30 mins back stood with them. I grumbled under my breath but the need to be .liked or wanted. overtook my fear of being known and hated and I joined the line. The registration was painless and took moments.  The details were broadcast over the radio network via CB and the reply was positive.  I hadn’t really done much of anything bad or illegal in my life at that point, other than being stung with this label that I hated… but my expectations for my life… the anxiety built into years of running away and hiding.. made the simplest of thoughts grandiose. 

After the registration, the other doors to the subway train contained some new clothing and food, which all four of us enjoyed.  We sat down upon a picnic table set up within the pit in front of the train and talked. 

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