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: 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.