Interlude: Casino Showdown

An intergalactic police officer finds himself in over his head with an unusual alien suspect.

Christian walked into the Rushti Interstellar Bar and Casino, eyes peeled. The colorful lights and decorations of the casino glared off the chrome of his blue exo-suit. He fingered a button on the side of his earpiece to soften the din of the slot machines.

He narrowed his brilliant green eyes and scanned the crowds as he walked towards the bar. If the suspect was here, they were well hidden. He sighed, sitting down on one of the less questionable stools.

The bartender, a slightly blob-like creature with pale yellow skin, wondered over to the Interforce officer. He slung a grimy towel over his shoulder. “What’s your choice, mister?”

“Nothing on the clock, I’m afraid.”

“Then go get lost, deef.” The bartender turned to leave, shaking his head, his jowls wiggling.

“I’m looking for someone.” The bartender paused. “I’m sure an upstanding citizen such as yourself could make time to help an officer out?”

The bartender turned slightly. “Possibly?”

“A rather rough-looking Andeluvian was spotted coming in here earlier. He would have had a glowing yellow pendant on his chest.” Christian made a triangle with his fingers and thumbs on his own chest to demonstrate.

The bartender sniffed, considering the officer. He finally shook his head. “No. Hard to keep track of so many.”

Christian quietly placed a gold coin on the bar. “How hard, would you say?”

The bartender eyed the coin greedily. “Very difficult.”

Two more coins appeared. “I’m sure you’re concentrating, now.”

“Yes. I’ve just recalled.” The bartender snatched up the coins. “Your friend is relieving himself just now.”

“Interforce appreciates your cooperation, citizen.” Christian stood up. The bartender grunted, pacing down to the other end of the bar.

Christian settled near a card game by the restrooms, feigning interest in the action. A gray-skinned, demon-like alien emerged a short time later. A long scar cut across his face, squinting one eye. One of his pointed ears was half-missing. A yellow pendant glowed dully on his chest.

The officer kept the alien in his periphery. The suspect drifted towards the middle of the casino. Christian followed, putting a healthy distance between them.

The alien sat down at a seemingly random slot machine. He inserted a player’s card and pulled the handle twice in rapid succession. He took no other action. He sat and stared at the screen.

A minute later, another of his species sat quietly beside him. Like his compatriot, he inserted his player’s card and pulled the handle twice. The suspect nodded his head. His companion passed him something at waist level.

The second alien stood and walked away. As much as Christian would have liked to take down both of them, he had to remain focused. The suspect stood up and walked away from the machine.

Christian tapped the side of his earpiece. “Suspect identified.” He quickly closed the distance between them. He reached out and grabbed the alien’s arm. “Interforce. We need to talk.”

The alien growled in response, shaking off Christian’s hand. He spun around and shoved the officer to the ground. He ran into the gasping crowd, shoving unsuspecting patrons aside.

“Damn it!” Christian shot to his feet and reached for his earpiece. “Suspect is…” There was no earpiece. He sighed. “Great.” He spotted the alien and broke into a sprint.

It was easy to track the suspect’s movements by the groaning casino-goers left crumpled on the ground. “Interforce! Stop that man!” People stepped clear of the suspect, much to his chagrin. “Perfect,” he spoke under his breath.

The suspect turned left, heading for a nearby exit onto the promenade. A server-bot chose that moment to push a large rack of prepared food into his path. The alien slowed, but couldn’t stop completely. The rack shook violently, sending plates and platters crashing to the ground.

The server-bot began babbling angrily. The suspect cursed at it in his native language. Christian caught up, breathing heavily. He held up his phase-caster pistol. “Time’s up! Render yourself!”

“Not today, officer!” The suspect grinned, speaking in a gravelly voice. He smacked the yellow pendant on his chest. It glowed brilliantly. The alien’s body grew and stretched, turning a reddish-orange.

The massive alien howled, shaking the air. “Oh, shit…” Christian opened fire on the suspect. The alien seemed unfazed by the blue blasts of energy. He swung one large fist at the weapon, knocking it from the officer’s hand.

The suspect flailed out with the other hand, sending Christian tumbling several feet to the side. He rolled over, groaning. “I… said… render yourself!

Christian stood and knocked his forearms together. He brought them down sharply to his sides, fists forward. The sound of whirring motors and sliding machinery issued from his exo-suit. The chrome panels on the suit extended out, expanded.

The officer stood facing the alien, now at an even height, fully encased in heavy armor. A blue helmet wrapped itself up and over Christian’s face. The eyes lit up yellow. He spoke through the helmet’s intercom. “Your move, punk.”

The alien screamed, charging at Christian. The officer swung an armored fist into the creature’s abdomen, knocking the wind out of him. The alien’s eyes flashed surprise. He smashed the suspect’s face into his knee.

The suspect shoved blindly, knocking Christian back far enough to allow the alien to regain his bearings. “Come get me, scum.” The alien spit before turning and running.

Christian sprung to his feet. He sprinted after the alien, his armored feet booming with each footfall. He lunged onto the alien’s back, sending them both tumbling forward into a row of slot machines.

“Graaahhh!” The alien shouted, shoving both of his fists into Christian’s chest. The officer stumbled backwards, his armor dented. Alarms screamed in his ears.

Christian thrust first one arm, then the other at the alien. Two small missiles fired from each arm and crashed into the alien. One missed it’s mark, hitting a slot machine and exploding.

The alien fell back into the slot machines, groaning. He shook his immense head and shot Christian a dark look. He spun around and ripped one of the slot machines free from its base.

He swung it around and smashed it into Christian like an oversize baseball bat. Christian crumpled. The alien brought the twisted remains of the machine down on top of the officer, smashing it to pieces.

Sparks and hydraulic fluid poured out of Christian’s exo-suit. He retracted his helmet. He struggled to move. “Will you just render, already?”

The alien blew out a guttural laugh. “Not today, officer.” He smacked the yellow pendant on his chest. The alien shrunk down and inwards, his body forming into a perfect hourglass shape.

The alien tossed her ebony hair away from her olive skin. She winked a bright yellow eye at the officer and smiled. “Maybe next time.” She turned and bounded out onto the promenade behind her.

Christian watched her go, helpless. He looked over his broken exo-suit. “This, is going to be expensive.” He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, blowing his breath out at the ceiling above.