Interlude: In Broad Daylight

A man and woman execute a heist in broad daylight with the expected results, but the man claims he knows exactly what he’s doing…

The old man and young lady lazily strolled past the entrance to the International Museum of Life and Nature. The man waved to a guard as they passed by. The guard waved back, a funny little smile on his face.

The young lady brushed a lock of blonde hair out of her eyes. “You’re just loving this, aren’t you?” She gave the old man a derisive look.

“Just trying to be nice. Those young men work hard to protect this place, you know.” He winked, grinning.

The odd couple rounded the corner of the building. They picked up their pace as they headed for the back. “Do we really need to do this now? Why can’t we wait until nightfall?”

“Because nobody will be expecting someone to break in right after closing. Getting cold feet, Alice?”

She punched the old man in the shoulder. “What’s with the real names, William?”

William scoffed. “Nobody calls me William. Well my mom did, but…”

The woman shushed him as she peeked around the back of the museum. “It’s clear, William.”

“I sense animosity.” He tip-toed theatrically to a nondescript gray door at the back of the building.

“If we don’t get caught, it will be a miracle.”

“Then just call me the Miracle Man.” Will smiled as he whipped out a small plastic card. A small black electronic device extended off one end of it.

He slid the card into a slot beside the door. A light on the attached device began to flash red. A click came from the door a moment later. The light turned green.

Will pulled the card back out and pocketed it. He pulled the door open and gestured towards the opening. “Ladies first.”

“How thoughtful of you.” Alice took one last nervous look around before dashing through the doorway.

The old man quietly closed the door behind him. He gave her a wink and pressed his index and middle fingers against the side of his neck. The wrinkles on his face smoothed, the marks of old age fading off his skin. His thinning hair filled back in, turning from gray to a reddish-brown.

Alice copied his actions. The crook in her nose smoothed away. Her eyes turned from blue to brown. Her long blonde hair shrank up into a black bob weave. “There’s the face I’ve come to… tolerate.”

“You love me and you know it.” He turned and walked into the next room over.

Hello, forgetting about security cameras? Motion sensors?”

“Chill out. I got this.” Will reached into the leather satchel on his hip. Out came a small, rounded metal device. A short, slender antenna extended from the top of it.

He placed it on a dull gray metal security box affixed to the wall. A minute light flashed on the end of the antenna. The lights in the museum glowed brightly before suddenly falling dark. Dull yellow emergency lighting flooded the museum in its place.

Will leaned in, inspecting the device. He tapped at it with his finger. “We should have five minutes maybe.”


He shrugged. “Maybe… definitely. Probably.” He strode out into the museum.

Alice crept along behind him. “Shouldn’t we be a little more discreet, or something?”

Will snorted. “The security system is off. Nobody knows we’re in here. What’s the big deal?” He turned his head towards the entrance at the sound of someone knocking on the glass. His guard-friend pointed menacingly at him. “Oh.”

“Real smooth.”

“Yeah.” He swiftly walked over to one display case in particular. Under the glass stood a six inch tall, rounded metal case on a black velvet pedestal. A blue light pulsed at the top of the casing.

“You ever wonder why everything has blinking lights on it?” Will asked.

“No. What is that, anyway?”

“A metal case.” Will smirked.

Alice punched him in the shoulder. “Duh! What’s inside it?”

“You’ll see…” The sound of the rear door clicking open floated to them from the back of the building. “Eventually!” He backed away from the case, dragging Alice along with him.

He pulled out a laser gun and fired a shot at the glass. The thin red bullet of light whined through the air and was absorbed into the glass. He shot again. This time the glass shattered.

Will dashed forward and grabbed the metal case and shoved it into his leather satchel. He froze as the alarm system began to blare. “That was about five minutes, wasn’t it? Fivish… Maybe four.”

“Come on, genius!” It was Alice’s turn to grab Will. They raced for the back of the museum. A gaggle of guards were pouring in.

“At least I’m not the one running towards the guys with the guns!” He held out a small device as they veered away from the nearest guard. A red beam fanned first across, then up and down the man.

“They’re armed! Open fire!” Red laser fire erupted all around the two thieves, streaks of light spreading out as they struck the floor and displays around them.

The barrage faded away as the guards lost sight of Will and Alice. The lead guard scanned across the dimly-lit museum. His radio crackled noisily in the quiet.

A pair of guards suddenly ran up to him, pointing in the direction they had come. “That way!” The first one said. “They’re headed for the entrance!”

The lead guard nodded and waved the others towards him. He ran towards the front of the museum. The two other guards looked at each other, smiling. They ran towards the back of the building, instead.

They stood by the rear entrance. “Idiots.” The guard held his fingers to his neck. His body rippled and morphed into that of Will.

“Did you have to make me so fat?” The other guard’s massive gut faded away as Alice made her transition.

“It worked, didn’t it?” He banged the metal door open and ran into the open air. Alice followed close behind him. He smiled, pointing. “Right on time!”

He was pointing to a US Mail levi-carrier. The vehicle’s boosters glowed pale blue, levitating the vehicle a few inches off of the ground. The cockpit door was open.

“Wait. You knew this would be here? How?”

“That’s why I’m in charge, isn’t it?” He winked before sprinting for the levi-carrier.

Alice ran after him. “You can’t be serious!”

Will climbed into the levi-carrier and waved her towards him. “I’m always serious!” He pulled her inside and slammed the door down.

He waved to the yelling mail carrier running towards him and smiled. He flipped a series of switches above and below him and pulled back on the joystick in front of him. The levi-carrier lurched upwards into the air.

A piercing alarm sounded. The levi-carrier halted its ascent and hovered in mid air three stories off the ground. “Well that was unexpected.” He pressed at a number of buttons. All responded with rapid beeping and no moving. “A little help, please?”

Alice sighed. “On it.” She sidled over to a control panel on the passenger side of the vehicle. She pulled a corded plug out of a small box clipped to her belt and jacked it into the panel.

A holographic keyboard and screen phased into existence before her, casting an eerie blue light in the cockpit. She hovered her hands over the keyboard and began pecking away. The alarm cut out a moment later with a series of beeps. “Fly.”

The sound of sirens drifted to them from somewhere in the distance. “Gladly!” Will continued his ascent and nosed the levi-carrier forward.

More beeping. The screen in the middle of the instrument cluster illuminated. “PROXIMITY WARNING” flashed on the screen, followed by a video feed of the rear of the airship. The screen was filled by a police air-pursuit interceptor.

“Hold on tight!” Will braced himself. Alice squeaked as he banked the levi-carrier sharply to the left. The belly of the vehicle shot sparks as it scraped the side of an apartment building.

“You know these things aren’t designed for this kind of flying, right?”

“Sure they are! It’s just not recommended.” Will slammed the vehicle to a stop and ascended rapidly. One of the pursuing police interceptors rocketed by underneath them.

The levi-carrier’s boosters sputtered and cut out. The vehicle began to drop. “There’s a reason it’s not recommended!” Alice screamed and slapped at him.

The vehicle bounced off another police interceptor hovering beneath them. The impact jolted the boosters back to life. Will yanked back on the the joystick, roasting the interceptor in blue fire.

The levi-carrier ascended rapidly as the police interceptor slowly descended, smoking and trembling. Will rocketed the the levi-carrier forward. A third police interceptor rose into sight behind them. “You gotta be kidding me!”

The interceptor matched the mail vehicle turn for turn as Will weaved around a number of skyscrapers. Alice clucked. “We’re never going to out-maneuver him. We’re a mail-van trying to outrace a military-spec pursuit vehicle.”

A grin slid across Will’s face. “You know the Willis building?”

“Yeah. What about it?”

“Are they still remodeling the skyview floors?”

Alice’s brow furrowed. “Yeah, I think, but…” Will’s grin broadened. “What are you thinking, William?”

The Willis building came into view. “This will work.”

Alice’s mouth turned into an “O” as she realized what was going on. “Oh Will no I don’t think that…”

“This will work.

“Oh god Will no it won’t oh my god!” The levi-carrier crashed through the glass facade of the skyview level of the Willis building. The vehicle tore at the ceiling of the level as the computer systems scrambled to compensate for the ground suddenly being inches below the boosters.

The police interceptor didn’t handle the transition as well and nosedived into the floor before bursting into flames. The levi-carrier burst through the windows on the far side of the building a heartbeat later. It dipped dangerously before the boosters corrected, rocketing the vehicle towards freedom.

Will set the battered levi-carrier down in a wooded area a short while later. He shut down the vehicle and sighed in relief. The silence pressed in on his ear drums.

Alice shattered it. “If you ever pull something like that again…”

“Yeah, yeah. You’ll stick with me just like you always have.” Will kicked the cockpit door open. He stumbled out and stretched. He sat down on a tree stump with a satisfied sigh.

Alice climbed out after him. “Alright. No more stalling. What did we risk our lives for?”

“So impatient!” Will pulled the round metal case out of his satchel. He took a small cylindrical tool from his coat pocket and held the tip of it to the case. The case beeped and split down the middle.

Will pulled the two ends apart revealing… a red apple. “Ta-da!”

“An apple? I could’ve died for an apple?

Will shook his head, disappointment on his face. “Tsk-tsk, Alice.” He pulled the fruit out of its containment device. “There’s only a handful of these badboys left in existence.”

He held it up to his face, examining it. “Scientists have had some luck cloning them, but they can never get them to grow for some reason.” He held the apple to his mouth and took a large bite out of it.

Alice gasped. “What are you doing!”

“I was hungry.” He took another bite. He shrugged his shoulders, chewing. “I always wanted to try one. Check it off the list.”

“Yeah… but now it’s kind of worthless?”

Will smiled and winked. “I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to eat the seeds.”

Interlude: The Getaway

An experienced thief makes good his escape in an exotic car with a secret.

He’d been working odd jobs for what, five years now? They weren’t your typical odd jobs, though. Well, not unless you count stealing well-guarded valuables as an odd job.

The man smiled as he eased an unusually-large diamond into a velvet sack. “I mean, the size of this diamond is pretty odd.” He said to himself, grinning. He dropped the sack into a leather satchel and proceeded toward the exit.

This job was unusual, compared to others in his work history. He was taking a chance on it. The man who had approached him about the project wasn’t one of his normal contacts. He had the cash to back up his mouth, though. That, and the thief loved a challenge.

Ha. So much for a challenge. Easy money, boys and girls. The thief even took the time to close the back door that he had easily hacked to get into the facility. That’s when things started going sideways.

He took two steps from the exit before alarm bells broke the early morning silence. The thief mentally ticked through the individual security systems he had disarmed as he jogged towards his car. “There’s no way I missed something!”

He came to a stop, car key in hand. “No. Oh shit no.” The man’s vehicle was nowhere to be found. “It’s a setup. It’s gotta be!”

He spread his eyes across the largely-abandoned parking lot. They fell on an exotic-looking white sports car. “That looks fast.” He jogged over to it and peered through the passenger-side window. A key was stuck in the ignition switch.

“No way!” The man ran to the other side of the car and fumbled in his pants pocket. Sirens blared in the distance. “Shit. Shit. Shit.” He dropped down on his haunches and started picking at the door lock.

It popped just as the first couple patrol cars pulled into the parking lot. He threw the satchel into the passenger seat and slung himself into the sports car. He turned the key. The sound of a roaring engine and turbine shattered the quiet of the waning night.

“Hot damn.” He shut the door and fastened his seat belt. His widening eyes swept across the dashboard. Various buttons, screens and readouts glowed in shades of blue and white. “What in the hell…”

Red and blue light chased white across the dashboard of the car. His company had arrived. He put the car in reverse and hammered the accelerator.

The vehicles tires screamed as the dual power plants roared. The car quickly reversed as he lifted his foot. He whipped the nose around and slammed it into drive. “This should be fun.” The car snapped forward with a chirp and rocketed towards the exit to the lot.

He eyed the rear-view mirror as he turned on to the abandoned street. One set of headlights paired to a red-and-blue lightbar approached from behind. “Come and get me, sweetheart.” He pressed on the accelerator. The car surged forward.

The patrol car’s siren blared to life as it fought to keep up. The thief took a hard right through an intersection. The patrol car gained ground, squealing tires as it drifted around the turn.

“This thing handles like an indy-car.” The man took an abrupt left while hardly braking. The tires chirped but held their line. The cop car scooped a lazy semi-circle before slapping its rear end into a light pole.

The thief took another hard right and floored the accelerator as he raced into the outskirts of the city. He watched as the speedometer rocketed towards the 200 MPH mark. He slowed only to gain access to the highway on-ramp.

Once on the open road, he let his foot settle towards the floor. The engine-turbine combo screamed. The speedometer tagged 230 MPH before he got nervous. He let the car pull itself slowly down to highway speeds. The red and blues were long gone behind him.

He used the first golden rays of the rising sun to look for an emblem or manufacturer name. There were no obvious marks. “What in the hell are you?”

“Vehicle designation S-H 381, Advanced Designation Epsilon.” A polite female voice informed him through the car speakers. “Code name SHADE.”

The thief’s mouth dropped open. “What the hell did I get myself into?”

“Vehicle designation…”

“No! No, I get it. I didn’t… I’m talking to a damned car.”


The man shielded his eyes from the rising sun. “God, that sun is killing me.”

“Glare-block activated.” The windshield darkened, reducing the glare from the sun.

“Miss thing, it sure is going to be hard to let you go.”

A pair of beeps issued from the dashboard. “Command not understood.” The man smiled.

The man’s spirits slowly rose with the morning sun. His mind drifted to where he might ditch the car… or where he might hide it? He was brought back to reality by a series of insistent beeps from the dashboard.

“Collision imminent. Crash guards deployed.” Thick metal plating slid out from under the car and popped up into place along the periphery of the car. A large, black sedan crashed into the back of the sports car a heartbeat later.

More beeps issued from the dashboard as the man’s head bounced off the headrest. “Son of a bitch!” He eyed the car in the mirrors. “Must be an unmarked trooper.” The car rammed into him again.

“Unable to identify,” the car helpfully added. “Activating defenses.” A row of buttons on the dashboard flashed before glowing yellow.

“No way! This is like some sort of video game.” He looked over the buttons. “Oil slick? Seriously?” He pressed the button. It beeped and turned red.

He turned his attention back to the car behind him. It was gaining speed in an attempt to ram the sports car a third time. The car suddenly began swinging side to side before spinning completely around on a trail of oil.

The armor retracted back under the vehicle. The thief shook his head. “This isn’t real. There’s no way this is real.”

“Aerial threat detected.”

“This isn’t real!” A screen illuminated in the center of the dashboard. The growing silhouette of a helicopter appeared there. “Are you serious?”

“This is not a test.” Rapid fire from the helicopter plinked off the backside of the car. More warning beeps. “Aerial defenses activated.” Two more buttons flashed yellow.

“Missile?” The man pressed the button. Whirring motors opened a trap door and hoisted a missile launching apparatus into place on the back of the car. The missile shot away from the car, whistling as it angled up towards the black helicopter.

He watched on the view-screen as the helicopter pulled hard to the side in a bid to outmaneuver the missile. The projectile found its mark, enveloping the aircraft in a ball of red and orange light. “Threat eliminated.”

The burning hulk fell to the ground. A secondary explosion rattled the ground. The thief sighed in relief, settling back into his seat. “Hot damn. I need to find some place to pull over and call my contact.”

The dashboard beeped. “Rest area in fifteen miles.” The man smiled.

He pulled the vehicle around the far side of the rest area a short while later, hoping he was largely out of sight of curious eyes. He fished his smart phone out of his pants pocket. He dialed his contact and stared distractedly out of the passenger-side window.

The phone ringed and ringed. He ended the call, cursing. “Now what?” Three sharp raps on his window made him jump. “Oh. Shit.” He slowly turned.

Two men in black business suits and ties stood beside the sports car. He could see that one was casually dangling an automatic pistol from his right hand. He found the window controls and opened his window a crack. “Can I help you gentlemen?”

“Get out.” The men stepped back slightly. The one with a gun subtly lifted the muzzle in the thief’s direction.

“Surely there is some misunderstanding…”

“Get out.” The pistol was now pointed directly at the thief.

He opened the car door and climbed out, hands going into the air. “Look, I have connections. We can make this all right…”

“Put down your hands, Mister Jones.”

The thief did as he was told. “I… I don’t understand…”

The man smiled. “You will…” He extended a hand. “I’m agent Ludlow. I’d like to talk to you about a job offer.” The other man lowered his weapon, nodding.

Jones took the proffered hand and shook it, smiling in relief. “Well, you certainly have my attention, gentlemen.”


Both the hunter and the hunted are not what they first appear to be.

The dark-haired woman worked with amazing precision. She calmly picked through the shelf of jewelry before her even as the security alarm screamed in her ears. She looked towards one corner of the store, brushing a lock of hair from her inquisitive face.

A black figure peered back at her from beneath a hooded sweatshirt. The figure held up a gloved hand and extended three fingers. The sound of sirens drifted in through the storefront. Two of the fingers fell away.

The woman nodded. She shifted her priority to securing the satchel she had been filling with stolen goods. She looked up as she slid the satchel over her shoulder.

Tires squealed on the pavement outside. The light-bar on the police car painted the walls of the jewelry store red and blue. The hooded figure nodded. “It’s time. Go.”

Both the dark-haired woman and hooded stranger ran silently to the back of the store. Flashlight beams cuts into the murk inside the store a moment too late. The two thieves cut into the alley that ran along the building.

At least one of the police anticipated just such a move. “FREEZE! New Wave PD!” Another officer joined him, leveling his plasma pistol.

The woman looked at the hooded figure, who nodded. The figure ran into the night as the woman turned her own plasma pistol on the police and opened fire. One brilliant yellow blast of energy hit the first officer, dropping him immediately.

The woman ran off down the alley, quickly gaining speed. Yellow bursts of energy from the other officer’s pistol chased after her, but never found their target. “Damn!”

The officer made to chase after her, but was caught short. “STOP!” A man in a black trench coat and sunglasses stepped up behind him. He held up a badge. “I’ll handle this. Stay back.”

The officer nodded numbly and stepped aside. The trench-coated man stepped forward scanning to the back of the alley. A black blur rounded the corner. He broke into a dead-run in the direction the young woman had traveled.

He reached the end of the of alley. All three directions were empty. The man stopped and listened. Footfalls pattered to his left. He turned and sprinted down the side alley.

The trench-coated man erupted into the middle of a quiet street. A quick sweep revealed he was alone. He took off his sunglasses, revealing eyes with faintly-glowing turquoise irises.

The Synthetic officer scanned the street. A lone tabby cat mewed on the corner of North Avenue. He raised his sight higher. A vagrant sitting on the steps of a fire escape saluted him with one finger.

He ignored the gesture and looked higher. His eyes flitted from one rooftop to the next, straining to pick up on any heat signatures. There… A bobbing head.

“Nimble little thing…” The officer ran into the alley adjacent to the building and ran up to where the vagrant was. He leaped into the air and grabbed the hand rail of the fire escape.

He pulled himself up and over. The vagrant scrambled back against the building, a wild look in his eyes. “Pardon,” the officer said as he slid past.

He continued up the stairs, going from landing to landing. Yellow blasts of energy greeted him as he crested the top of the building. He returned fire and ducked back down.

There was no return fire. The officer peeked back up cautiously and scanned the roof of the other building. Clear. He hopped onto the hand rail of the fire escape and leaped.

The Synthetic easily cleared the gap, landing on the roof of the far building with hardly a noise. He quickly found his pistol and held it out in front of him. Three quick bursts of plasma fire headed his way.

One blast found its way through his open trench coat as he turned. He snapped back and fired at a ghostly shadow sprinting across the rooftop. “Don’t make me kill you!”

The figure dropped below the roof-line on the far side of the building. “Of course.” The officer sighed, dropping back into a sprint.

He dropped to one knee at the edge of the building and looked over. Nothing. He looked along the alley below and followed it out to the street.

“There you are.” The officer swung over the side of the fire escape. He let himself drop level by level, grabbing each hand rail in turn as he fell.

He ran into the middle of the street and scanned his surroundings. The woman ran down yet another alley. He shook his head and ran.

The woman stood waiting for him at the far end of the alley. Her hands remained at her side. She was not holding her weapon. “Give it up, robot.”

The Synthetic officer’s eyes narrowed. “You’re not making things any easier for yourself, ma’am.”

“Ma’am? How polite. Are you going to ask me to ‘please come here’?”

The officer shrugged. “Would it help?”

“Not today, I’m afraid.” She disappeared around the corner.

“Oh, come on, lady!” The officer chased after her once more.

He turned the corner onto the street and looked in the direction the woman had run. He spotted her nearly a block away. “That’s impossible, unless…”

“Give up, robot!” She ran down another alley.

The officer beared down and ran with superhuman speed. The wind whistled past his ears. He rounded the corner and ran into a parked car.

He dented in the front end and caved the hood. The Synthetic allowed himself to roll up and over the car and kept running. The alarm went off. A balding man in a white wife-beater leaned out a window. “HEY, YOU!”

“New Wave PD!” the officer shouted, even as he accelerated away.

He burst onto another street. This time, yellow plasma blasts greeted him. He turned and fired blindly, barely missing the woman. She disappeared into another alley.

The officer turned to pursue. He made it about halfway before plasma shots landed on either side of him. They came from somewhere behind him. “What, the…”

He turned to find the woman half a block behind him. He fired back, missing her by a wide margin. She flashed him a smile and a wink before disappearing behind a building.

“All right, what’s going on…” The officer retreated to the middle of the street and attempted to look in all directions at once.

A shrill whistle came from the top of the building in front of him. There was the dark-haired woman, smiling down from above. “Wonderful evening, isn’t it?”

“You’re a Synthetic! You have to be!”

“I don’t have to be anything, but I assure you that I am not a Synthetic. Now her…” She pointed down.

The officer lowered his gaze just in time to see the woman, the same woman, drop down right in front of him. “Hello, robot.”

He raised his plasma pistol. The woman expertly kicked it from his hand, making it discharge into a nearby wall as it spun through the air. She punched him twice in the chest, then aimed for his chin.

The officer caught the fist and squeezed. The woman did not flinch, but punched him in the face with her other fist. The officer returned the favor.

The skin tore slightly where he had hit. Titanium glittered underneath it in the streetlight. “There’s the Synthetic.”

“Here I am.” The woman went at him with a series of successful punches and kicks. The officer backed up rapidly. He needed time to respond, but also to scan for the real target.

She was gone. He zeroed back in on the Synthetic. He ran at her. She braced for the hit and rolled him onto the ground.

He followed the roll to where his pistol lay on the ground. He snatched it up and popped up on one knee. He turned and fired, but the woman was gone. He scrambled back to the end of the alley.

She was already halfway down the block. A shrill whistle came from the opposite direction. He turned to see the real woman boarding a city bus.

She blew him a kiss before pulling the hood of her black sweatshirt back over her head. He whipped back around the other way. The Synthetic woman was gone from sight.

“Damn it!” The officer angrily kicked a can across the street. Someone inside an apartment building shouted at him to shut the hell up.

He sighed, rubbing at his chin. “The boss ain’t going to like this one bit.”