“Hi! I'm Ed Winchester!”
The greeting came before Aaron had even had the chance to close the car door behind him. He stared vacantly at the carefully-coifed suit proffering his hand from the middle row of seats. Aaron raised an eyebrow toward Tom and Vaughn, who were huddled in the rear seats beside him.
“Ed,” came Peterson's voice from the front, “I'd like you to meet your new associates. I'm sorry boys, I never did catch your names.”
“Aaron. Aaron Walker,” replied the pilot, nervously accepting Ed's handshake.
Ed smiled at the three in turn repeating his name to each. “Great to have you on board! Let me fill you in on the plan as it stands-”
“That's not necessary for the moment Ed,” interrupted the campaign manager. “I think these boys have earned a little rest.” Peterson nodded to the driver beside him, and the car was set in motion.
After a few moments in silence, Peterson piped up. “It was all thanks to Ed here that we ever found you in the first place.” Aaron saw a smug smile flash across the face of Winchester in the rear-view mirror. Peterson continued: “He's a Revival, like you. And the Revivals are an untapped market, as far as these elections go. A rich vein of votes, and one that the Democrats want to tap into.
“That's right!” It was Ed's turn to interrupt. “Problem is, the Revival Centres that supposedly care for folks like us are being run by some of the most corrupt, amoral, callous, disgusting, INHUMANE-”
“That's enough Ed!” Peterson coughed awkwardly. “What I mean to say is that Mr Winchester found proof that some of the area's Revival Centres are linked directly to a human trafficking ring that targets the weak and sells their only real 'assets' to- well, I'm not legally allowed to implicate a specific corporation, needless to say that a fairly major augmentation clinic is currently gathering its legal resources in the vain hope that they can worm their way out of this god-forsaken mess.
“You, as my personal workforce, will be responsible for the targeting and subsequent neautralisation of any undesirable elements that may be housed within the institution of sociohistorical rehabilitation.”
Vaughn turned to Tom with a crooked top lip and a furrowed brow.
“We're going after the bad guys,” smiled Tom.
Vaughn spluttered, and began to paw at the door handle. "No. No! I don't like this. Not at all." He stopped his frantic escape attempt and turned to seize Tom, who remained remarkably calm, by the collar. "You've seen what the bad guys are like, what they want to do to us!"
Tom released himself from Vaughn's grip and returned his gaze to the view beyond the windshield.
“So much for a 'little rest',” muttered Aaron.
Peterson moved to bribe the three into submission - the only method he knew. “Fear not; there are perks. Given everything I've just told you, we obviously do not expect you to reside in that hellhole you've called 'Home' for the last few months...”
No sooner had the words been spoken, the truck rounded the corner of the neighbourhood's fifth up-market restaurant and revealed a beautifully maintained apartment block replete with wrought-iron fencing and a sizeable parking lot in front of it.
Twenty minutes later, and Peterson was giving the men a tour of their not-so-humble abode. A communal living area branched into six separate bedrooms, as well as a spare room occupied by a device that looked to Walker like a washing machine with a conveyor belt stuck to the front of it. This, Peterson explained, would provide the apartment's residents with enough food to sustain them for a month, provided it was replenished with matter on occasion (litter, food waste, old clothes-the machine was not a fussy eater). Peterson even gave it a scientific title, but that was quickly forgotten by the excited party.
Another ten minutes and all five were sipping fresh Colombian coffee (for all they knew) in the main area.
Peterson set down his cup, and raised himself from his seat with a groan of exertion. “Gentlemen, now that you've become well acquainted with your new home, I'm afraid I must take my leave. Tonight will see you all getting some well-earned rest. Your first task will arrive for you in the morning, though I'll tell you now that it involves little more than a few television appearances. This story will make for excellent publicity.” Peterson began to make his way to the door, before turning to face the group. “Before I go though, I should mention that this living arrangement comes with a caveat.”
At that moment, the front door slammed shut behind him.
Peterson stepped aside. “Flux, right on time...”