The Arrest

Date: 4990889/M41

Location: Julius Landing, Ostia, Hesch, K-H System

Stars twinkle amidst the deep indigo skies over a sea of peaked roofs and towers. Streetlights compete with them, throwing a soft glow to the horizon, but in this neglected portion of the city, the streets are only intermittently lit, and only the weakest rays from the heavens penetrate the gloom in the narrow alleyways or under the eaves of cramped tenements.

Just inside one of these alleys, a broad-shouldered figure crouches, eyes narrowed within the slit in his implanted helmet. He watches the benighted street intently, waiting. His oversized, taloned bionic left hand flexes and clenches, whirring mechanically.

There. A man in a broad-brimmed hat with a scarf around his face comes into view, passing for a few paces under the beam of a flickering streetlight. He walks with a limp, and his hands are deep in his coat’s pockets.

Somewhere in the distance, the roar of a spacecraft’s engines can be heard, flinging the vessel free of the city and into the night like a shooting star in reverse. The half-mechanical, misshapen man in the alley looks upward at the receding light for a moment, and then a new and much closer light demands his attention. Two spotlights snap on, pinning the approaching man in place.

“Halt! Put your hands in the air, you are under arrest!” An amplified voice shouts from the window from which one of the beams is emanating. The man in the coat is mesmerized for the barest instant and then breaks into a run, but it is too late. Three uniformed men pounce from doorways on either side of the narrow street and bear him to the ground. There is a dull crack as his head strikes the cobblestones. An engine growls to life somewhere not far away.

The troopers brutally kick and pound their prostrate prey with batons, then two of them haul his limp form from the cobbles while more of their fellows emerge from the buildings.

“Where’s your boss hiding, boy?” demands one of the policemen of his battered victim.

“I’m right here,” rasps the hulking cyborg, leaping panther-like from his hiding place to land in the center of the street, bionic claw-foot scattering sparks from the stones and the giant buzz-saw on his right arm whirring up to speed with a hungry whine.

The Giant! Get him!” bellows one of the troopers. An armored car wheels about a corner, headlights glaring. A couple of the troopers start hauling their prisoner towards this vehicle.

Acting quickly, the giant murmurs an apology to his friend and raises his talon, disgorging a stream of blazing chemical from the flamer implanted in his forearm. The gout of fire washes over the center of the mass of men, bathing troopers as well as prisoner. As they fall backwards screaming, he sweeps the jet of flame into the façade of the building to one side, then turns to run.

Laser bolts pop about him as he dashes back into the alley and the vehicle-mounted heavy stubber chatters, chewing up the corner behind him. He races through the maze of tenements and alleyways, the shouts of pursuers gradually falling behind.



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