It was one of those days in The City, that seemed to have no end at all. My partner Nat had been on leave for a whole week, and while day shifts had been calm and my night patrols had presented no problems I couldn’t deal with on my own, I sure missed having her NOT talk to me.
Nat is the quiet sort. Knock ’em out first then start questioning. Works most of the time. Not like those giddy young squirrels Shadow Inc Headquarters sent me as stand-ins. Finally waving them off at the star port was no less than a profound relief. Sweet tranquility!
But too much of anything gets to be a pain. So for what must have been the onehundred-and-fifth time within the last two hours I checked my chrono. What was keeping her?!
Finally, no sooner than I had just decided to plug in my comms and actually CALL her, there was this silent ›wooosh!‹ which accompanied incoming jumpers inside The Hull. Just a couple of blinks later Nat’s Raven smoothed in.
She sure knew how to make an impression by easing into these darned narrow hangars and jumping out as if it had been a short trip to the mall, not light years through the Outer Rim, which was OR for short.
»Have you been waiting?«
»Naw. Just passed by the neighborhood. Thought, I’d pick you up, save you the taxi.«
She gave me one of those looks.
The office of Shadow Inc. Security OR was nice and quiet and OURS again. No more squirreling. Although they hadn’t bothered taking off their wall posters of ›The raddest holo stars in all off the OR, w00t, w00t!‹ Well, whatever. They’d been a nice bunch, really. I guess I was just not used to baby-sitting. Not their fault.
»Did you encounter any problems while I was gone?«
»I had plenty of back-up. No sweat. Care to take a look around?«
Actually, The City had been very quiet lately. Maybe too quiet. Having those squirrelly cadets around had kept me busy watching over them instead of the local business. Now with my partner watching my back for a change I noticed a strange shift in the city’s pace and sound. A creepy feeling snuck under my skin. Where was everybody?
The zero-ground level of Downtown seemed swept off anything but your occasional hobo kicking off an empty can of Mystic Booze. That brain wrecking stuff’s illegal as hell around The City just as anywhere else in the civilized worlds. You can easily obtain it anyways, of course.
But tonight even our local hobos stayed… well, whatever they called home. There was nothing but those luminescent alien plants, hipsters thought were cool. Poisonous is what they were. And impertinent. And a potential threat. That lurking feeling of dread became more urgent by the minute.
Patrolling the well-known streets and back alleys didn’t bring up anything, so we decided to have a closer look at this unspeakable new aliens’ bar way out of Downtown, snuggling right up The Hull. And there it was, right on the platter—that is, in the basin outside the bar:
Four of those supposedly prehistoric—as in DEAD, no?!—capsules had opened, with two of them still fresh and green. Which meant we had a bunch of really hungry, really carnivorous Giant Insectoids at large—two probably close by.
›Psst! Hey, Officers! In here!‹
I spun around. With a flicker of a move my partner pulled her sonic blade. It was a Krake. Wavering with fear, spilling out its reeking greenish gases all over the place. Yuck.
›Me is so pleased, to see ye, Officers!‹ it undulated through this toothy gorge it called a mouth.
»I bet you are. Go ahead, spill your guts.« Silently I cursed and hoped the Krake wouldn’t take this literally.
~ to be continued ~