R .  Mac Wheeler Multi - Genre Author Suspense Urban Fantasy Fantasy Dystopian SCI FI
Competing with the Colonel P rojectile    rounds    crashed    the    forward    airshield    and    the ground   hover   automatically   raised   emergency   shielding,   but not before another volley slammed the vehicle. The   engines   failed   and   the   hover   tipped,   slamming   into the   pavement   two   lanes   below,   nearly   flipping.   The   two   agents flew   against   their   restraints.   Ricocheting   fragments   filled   the cabin.   Jay   felt   impacts   across   his   upper   body   as   he   slid   down to protect his head, grabbing for his helmet. Tess   stared   stubbornly   at   their   monitor.   Blood   ran   down her    left    cheek    from    a    particularly    nasty    looking    puncture wound. “Get down, you idiot!” Jay hissed at her. “Get your helmet on!” The   computer   had   identified   where   the   fire   came   from,   but   the   view   from   the locally-networked    feed    showed    no    perp,    just    a    fenced,    elevated    playground    with    a hundred kids screaming, running for the exits. “Freaking coward,” Tess slurred. “Yeah.   You   ever   arrested   a   scumbag   who   wasn’t?”   he   asked.   “That   must   hurt.   We gotta get you to a doctor.” “After we collar this bastard.” “Are   you   kidding?   Look   around,   Tess.   This   isn’t   exactly   a   barren   desert.   There’re   a dozen buildings he could have slipped into within fifteen seconds of blasting us.” “Yeah.”   Tess’   smile   looked   odd,   considering   the   blood   soaking   the   front   of   her royal-blue,   EUSA   armored   vest.   “But   now   he’s   broken   a   law   on   this   planet   and   we’ll have the local constable support. They should be here any second.” “Bull   puckies,”   Jay   said.   “They   can   hunt   for   him   their   own-selves   for   an   hour.   Look in the mirror. Hope you don’t have any photo shoots the next couple of weeks.” “You don’t look so pretty yourself,” she said. “Oh wait, you never did.” “Prettier than you.” “Nuh uh,” Tess said distractedly, still studying the scanner. “Yeah huh.” “I hate getting ambushed,” she whined. “Yeah huh,” he said. “You can get up now,” Tess said. “The shooting is over.” Jay   pushed   himself   up   the   seat   and   peered   over   the   con,   looking   for   a   threat,   not interested in the computer’s opinion that the shooter was gone. All   he   saw   was   bystanders   gaping   at   them   from   the   steps   of   the   nearest   building. He opened his door, got out, and walked to the trunk to retrieve the med-kit. The   trunk   wouldn’t   open.   Figgered.   It   had   several   gashes   that   pressed   the   body tight   against   the   lid.   He   cursed,   stood   back   and   kicked   it.   The   thing   swung   open.   Clearly anger and rhetoric was an operational design feature. Tess   joined   him   as   a   constable   hover   pulled   up   behind   them.   The   two   partners   ran to them. One held another med-kit. Cops, or paramedics? “Four   trashed   hovers   in   two   days,”   Jay   mumbled   at   Tess.   “That’s   gotta   be   a   record for this team.” They   both   ignored   the   questions   raining   from   the   constables.   One   gently   pushed Tess   back   against   the   vehicle   and   pressed   a   wad   of   gauze   against   her   ugly   cheek.   She shrieked in pain. “Yeah, but the colonel got her guy,” she said. Jay   laughed.   “I   would’ve   loved   to   been   there.   Toni   off   her   comfortable   bridge,   on Talaith Glain no less. What a cesspool.” “All   these   gashes,”   the   medic-constable   interrupted,   “lucky   neither   of   you   lost   an eye.” “Or a brain,” the other working on Jay’s lacerations,” added. “Yeah. Real lucky.” Tess snorted. “The bastard was waiting for us, Jay.” “Ya think?” “Ow! Take it easy.” She slapped at the constable’s hand. “I’m   gonna   kick   Rutger’s   ass,”   Jay   mumbled.   Good   for   nothing   CI.   He   pried   a projectile out of his armor with his eight-inch serrated knife. The constable cleaning his wounds grumbled about him being still. “You’re   gonna   have   to   stand   in   line,”   Tess   said.   “As   a   confidential   informant,   this guy—” Chatter    over    the    constables’    com    interrupted    her.    A    suspect    had    been    spotted driving away on the next block. The four of them ran for the constables’ car. “I’m driving,” Jay shouted at the officer headed for the driver-side. “Hell ya’r,” he replied. “You   see   this   badge?”   he   shouted   slapping   his   chest.   “It   trumps   the   one   you’re wearing by a factor of ten.” The    two    constables    glared    angrily    at    the    two    union    agents,    but    stepped    aside, hurrying to get into the rear seat before Jay pulled away. “Sirens on!” Jay commanded. “Uh, you have to flip a switch on these,” a constable said from the back seat. Jay    glanced    at    the    man    in    the    rearview    mirror    and    Tess    turned    to    glare.    The constable   timidly   instructed   Tess   how   to   flip   on   the   device,   as   Jay   maneuvered   the hover into the upper lane set aside for emergency vehicles. The   hover   at   least   had   a   proper   tracking   monitor.   He   followed   the   directions   on   the screen   around   several   corners.   In   all   the   traffic   it   would   be   a   miracle   if   they   caught   sight of their perp. Wasn’t like he’d have a flashing sign on his hood. Jay   had   to   chuckle   a   second   later   though,   as   the   driver   of   a   car   ahead   of   them panicked at the sight of the constables’ car. “It couldn’t be that easy, could it?” Jay asked. “They’re criminals for a freaking reason,” Tess mumbled. Her   excitement   had   her   squirming   on   the   bench   seat.   She   slid   against   the   door   as Jay   hung   a   hard   corner,   and   she   hurried   to   pull   her   restraint   across   her   chest.   She pulled the assault rifle out of the rack between them. “This thing DNA registered?” she screeched back at the constables. “Yes.” She   cursed.   Be   nothing   more   than   a   club   in   her   hands.   She   handed   it   back   to   the one   who   would   have   normally   been   in   the   front   passenger   seat.   The   woman   took   it   as though it wasn’t a familiar tool. The   slime   job   they   were   after   had   already   clobbered   half-a-dozen   hovers   trying   to get   away.   He   was   going   to   claim   more   victims   if   Jay   didn’t   get   that   hover   disabled quickly. As   he   formed   that   thought,   the   bastard   got   boxed   in   traffic,   slammed   the   vehicles in   front   of   him,   but   they   just   came   to   a   stop   instead   of   making   way.   Jay   was   on   him   in three seconds and crashed the constables’ hover on top of the one ole’ Slimy drove. “Gotcha, you raping bastard!” But   Slimy   had   already   crawled   out   his   window   and   was   sprinting   up   the   street.   The two agents leapt the three meters to the ground, rolled hard, and were after him. Slimy   turned   and   fired   a   couple   shots   to   give   them   something   to   think   about.   But Jay   and   Tess   had   reason   that   day   to   take   more   risk   than   usual.   The   previous   day,   their tiny-assed little commander had taken huge risks at cornering a criminal. They were the experienced street agents. They couldn’t let her show them up. They   ran   straight   up   the   sidewalk   like   idiots.   Civilians   thankfully   scattered   for   a change, instead of gaping at the brouhaha like sheep. Slimy   stopped,   turned,   steadied   his   sidearm.   Jay   felt   the   projectile   strike   center- mass   into   his   armor.   The   force   flung   him   backward   and   spun   him.   He   ended   pulling   a double gainer into the concrete. Before   he   stopped   rolling   he   was   shouting   at   the   top   of   his   lungs,   “I’m   good,”   to ensure   Tess   didn’t   stop   to   have   tea   with   him.   He   ended   his   roll   with   a   slide   into   first base, face first. Heat streaked across his chin. That would need plas-skin. Both   palms   already   bled   as   he   juggled   to   pick   up   his   sidearm.   That   was   going   to make   it   slick.   He   tried   to   push   the   pain   aside,   but   his   chest   didn’t   want   to   draw   in   air. He   at   least   had   a   broken   rib.   The   jerk   was   using   illegal   ammo,   of   course.   The   guy   had   to die before he killed a bunch of citizens. The   pops   of   more   shooting   helped   him   refocus.   He   stole   just   a   split-second   to check down the street. Where were the constables? Nowhere useful. Scrambling   up   he   looked   for   Slimy   and   Tess.   The   man   was   out   of   sight,   but   his partner approached a side street, waiting for him just like he would have waited for her. They were both so good at following protocol. As she veered right, she took at least one round and went down hard. Jay screamed, willing his body to move faster. He   wanted   to   check   on   Tess,   but   he   forced   his   eyes   up   the   street   first.   Slimy   turned left   up   another   street.   Jay   knelt   by   Tess   as   she   spewed,   a   sign   she’d   taken   one   in   the gut.   The   vest   saved   her   life,   but   there   was   nothing   more   wrenching,   besides   a   tag   in   the extremities. One in the face wouldn’t feel too hot either. The   blood   she   spilled   over   her   vest   earlier   made   it   difficult   to   see   if   she   had   any new   wounds,   plus   the   ding   in   her   cheek   had   started   bleeding   again   from   her   exertion. She spit as soon as she stopped gagging. “A’right!” she hissed, waving him on. “Go!” Jay   rose   and   slogged   after   Slimy.   There   wasn’t   a   lot   of   swift   in   his   giddy   up   at   that point.   Where   in   the   hell   were   the   constables   of   that   fair   world?   Plenty   of   sirens   rang   in the distance, but they sure weren’t converging on them very quickly. He   hobbled   to   the   corner   the   jerk   turned   down.   Startled   faces   recognized   his   blue vest and pointed to the entrance of the near building. Great.   An   urban   battle   wasn’t   bad   enough.   Now   he’d   have   to   wander   around   in   a moo-maze where the bastard could hide behind a hundred hostages. Toni wasn’t gonna beat him on collars though. Struggling   to   catch   his   breath,   he   peeked   through   the   glass   of   the   entry.   There   were more ogling civilians inside, who pointed at the stairwell. Hopefully they were more reliable than Rutger. The weaselballs. Jay   jogged   through   the   automatic   door,   leaned   against   the   wall.   Reaching   across his    body    he    pulled    the    stairwell    door    open    a    crack    and    listened,    waiting    for    an explosion. What he heard was running footsteps, several flights up. Hell.   Just   thinking   of   stairs   hurt   his   chest.   No   way.   He   stepped   inside   the   stairwell and   estimated   how   many   floors   up   the   bastard   was.   Three,   four,   five,   he   counted.   A door banged. Jay   walked   back   to   the   foyer   elevator   and   pressed   the   up   button.   Civies   gaped   at him.   He   tried   to   act   as   though   it   was   totally   natural   for   him   to   stand   there   bleeding   over the   pretty   white   tile,   holding   a   cannon   at   his   side,   casually   going   after   a   suspect   via elevator. The   door   opened   and   startled   riders   rushed   off,   sliding   against   the   far   edge   of   the entrance   to   keep   away   from   his   cooties.   Maybe   they   didn’t   want   any   of   his   blood   on their tidy clothes. Inside,   he   waved   away   those   who   waited   for   a   lift   with   him.   No   one   appeared   too disappointed about missing that particular ride. Jay got off on the fifth floor and listened. Now what? There   were   no   convenient   bystanders   to   point   him   in   the   right   direction.   Left   or right?   Fifty-fifty   chance.   He   slowly   walked   left,   reminding   himself   that   criminals   are idiots. That’s why they’re criminals. What would an idiot do? A door cracked open two offices up, and a nervous eye peered out. Like, give himself away. Jay   aimed   as   the   door   slammed   shut.   He   would   have   loved   to   ignore   protocol   and blasted   the   bastard   away,   right   through   the   stinking   door.   But   Internal   Affairs   called that   indiscriminate   fire.   He   had   to   triple   the   risk   and   get   the   guy   in   perfect   sight   with no bystanders in harm’s way. Remind yourself, Jay, how much you love your job.” He stared at the door. Now what? Knock and ask the jerk to come out and play? Gwael Exports was stenciled across the door. “Spose   they   can   export   that   bastard   right   out   here   into   the   hall?”   He   sighed,   and shouted, “I’m not going anywhere. You aren’t either, except in manacles or a body bag.” He   didn’t   know   why,   but   the   taunt   came   out   in   a   singsong   lilt,   like   a   pre-pubescent dare. Slimy let go with a single shot through the center of Gwael. “Like that is going to make me think, ew, I better go home. He’s dangerous. “That was totally unnecessary,” Jay shouted. Doors   opened   up   and   down   the   corridor.   Jay   patiently   waved   all   the   sheep   for   the stairs   at   the   end   of   each   hall.   He   rolled   his   eyes   as   many   strolled,   more   interested   in gaping at the sideshow. “Get out of the freaking building!” he shouted. Which did little to hurry them. But   after   a   half-eon   the   building   quieted   and   Jay   decided   to   go   for   broke.   He tiptoed   to   the   door   and   lay   down,   reached   up   and   waved   his   hand   over   the   bio-sensor. As   the   door   swung   inward,   a   flurry   of   projectiles   splintered   the   door,   opening   three- centimeter holes in the corridor’s facing wall. The   convenient   little   click   indicated   the   bolt   of   Slimy’s   weapon   locked   open,   out   of ammunition. Jay   rolled   into   the   door   opening   and   braced   his   shooting   hand.   Slimy   stood,   eyes popping,   probably   realizing   he   was   short   of   options.   He   held   a   young   woman   in   front   of him. Jay leveled his sights to the left of her right leg and fired. Slimy’s   shin   sheered   in   a   bloody   explosion.   The   woman   shrieked   maniacally,   but she maintained enough state of mind to flee, leaping right over Jay. He   had   to   laugh,   as   the   one-legged   scumbag   tumbled   forward   in   slow   motion   after his escaping shield. Oh, to have a picture of that. Priceless. Jay   stood   and   stepped   into   the   office,   kicked   the   dude’s   cannon   away   from   him. That   was   protocol.   Not   that   it   was   gonna   sprout   a   fresh   magazine.   A   couple   other civilians   who   had   huddled   in   the   corner   rushed   past.   One   looked   down   at   the   nearly severed leg and spewed, but didn’t slow down. Ick. “Slimy.   You   have   the   right   to   continue   screaming.   Anything   you   scream   can   and will   be   used   against   you   in   a   speedy   tribunal   where   you   will   be   found   guilty   for   a   bunch of shit and imprisoned for the rest of your worthless life, if you don’t bleed out first. “You   have   the   right   to   have   an   attorney   listen   to   your   screaming   while   we   deal   with your despicable self. “If   you   can’t   afford   an   attorney,   we’ll   drag   some   sorry   bastard   out   of   hiding   to ensure your fragile rights aren’t trampled. “Do you understand these rights, Slimy?” “Call me an ambulance,” the man pleaded. “By   your   unresponsive   reply,   I   take   it   you   don’t   understand,   so   I’ll   slowly   repeat your    rights.    I    can    explain    them    in    excruciating    detail    if    you    have    any    specific questions.” “I’m dying.” “Feel   free   to   interrupt   me   at   any   time.   I   understand   them   very   well,   personally,   and I’m sure I can help you get there.” We got our man too, Colonel. Jay smiled. “You have the right, by that I mean you are entitled to claim—” © R. Mac Wheeler 2017
R .  Mac Wheeler Multi - Genre Author
Competing with the Colonel P rojectile    rounds    crashed    the    forward airshield       and       the       ground       hover automatically           raised           emergency shielding,   but   not   before   another   volley slammed the vehicle. The     engines     failed     and     the     hover tipped,   slamming   into   the   pavement   two lanes    below,    nearly    flipping.    The    two agents     flew     against     their     restraints. Ricocheting    fragments    filled    the    cabin. Jay   felt   impacts   across   his   upper   body   as he     slid     down     to     protect     his     head, grabbing for his helmet. Tess      stared      stubbornly      at      their monitor.   Blood   ran   down   her   left   cheek from       a       particularly       nasty       looking puncture wound. “Get   down,   you   idiot!”   Jay   hissed   at her. “Get your helmet on!” The    computer    had    identified    where the   fire   came   from,   but   the   view   from   the locally-networked   feed   showed   no   perp, just   a   fenced,   elevated   playground   with   a hundred   kids   screaming,   running   for   the exits. “Freaking coward,” Tess slurred. “Yeah.   You   ever   arrested   a   scumbag who   wasn’t?”   he   asked.   “That   must   hurt. We gotta get you to a doctor.” “After we collar this bastard.” “Are   you   kidding?   Look   around,   Tess. This      isn’t      exactly      a      barren      desert. There’re   a   dozen   buildings   he   could   have slipped    into    within    fifteen    seconds    of blasting us.” “Yeah.”      Tess’      smile      looked      odd, considering   the   blood   soaking   the   front of    her    royal-blue,    EUSA    armored    vest. “But   now   he’s   broken   a   law   on   this   planet and      we’ll      have      the      local      constable support.      They      should      be      here      any second.” “Bull    puckies,”    Jay    said.    “They    can hunt    for    him    their    own-selves    for    an hour.   Look   in   the   mirror.   Hope   you   don’t have   any   photo   shoots   the   next   couple   of weeks.” “You    don’t    look    so    pretty    yourself,” she said. “Oh wait, you never did.” “Prettier than you.” “Nuh   uh,”   Tess   said   distractedly,   still studying the scanner. “Yeah huh.” “I      hate      getting      ambushed,”      she whined. “Yeah huh,” he said. “You   can   get   up   now,”   Tess   said.   “The shooting is over.” Jay   pushed   himself   up   the   seat   and peered   over   the   con,   looking   for   a   threat, not   interested   in   the   computer’s   opinion that the shooter was gone. All   he   saw   was   bystanders   gaping   at them     from     the     steps     of     the     nearest building.    He    opened    his    door,    got    out, and   walked   to   the   trunk   to   retrieve   the med-kit. The   trunk   wouldn’t   open.   Figgered.   It had   several   gashes   that   pressed   the   body tight    against    the    lid.    He    cursed,    stood back    and    kicked    it.    The    thing    swung open.   Clearly   anger   and   rhetoric   was   an operational design feature. Tess   joined   him   as   a   constable   hover pulled   up   behind   them.   The   two   partners ran to them. One held another med-kit. Cops, or paramedics? “Four    trashed    hovers    in    two    days,” Jay   mumbled   at   Tess.   “That’s   gotta   be   a record for this team.” They     both     ignored     the     questions raining   from   the   constables.   One   gently pushed   Tess   back   against   the   vehicle   and pressed   a   wad   of   gauze   against   her   ugly cheek. She shrieked in pain. “Yeah,   but   the   colonel   got   her   guy,” she said. Jay    laughed.    “I    would’ve    loved    to been    there.    Toni    off    her    comfortable bridge,   on   Talaith   Glain   no   less.   What   a cesspool.” “All      these      gashes,”      the      medic- constable    interrupted,    “lucky    neither    of you lost an eye.” “Or    a    brain,”    the    other    working    on Jay’s lacerations,” added. “Yeah.     Real     lucky.”     Tess     snorted. “The bastard was waiting for us, Jay.” “Ya think?” “Ow!   Take   it   easy.”   She   slapped   at   the constable’s hand. “I’m    gonna    kick    Rutger’s    ass,”    Jay mumbled.   Good   for   nothing   CI.   He   pried a    projectile    out    of    his    armor    with    his eight-inch serrated knife. The    constable    cleaning    his    wounds grumbled about him being still. “You’re   gonna   have   to   stand   in   line,” Tess   said.   “As   a   confidential   informant, this guy—” Chatter     over     the     constables’     com interrupted     her.     A     suspect     had     been spotted   driving   away   on   the   next   block. The   four   of   them   ran   for   the   constables’ car. “I’m     driving,”     Jay     shouted     at     the officer headed for the driver-side. “Hell ya’r,” he replied. “You    see    this    badge?”    he    shouted slapping    his    chest.    “It    trumps    the    one you’re wearing by a factor of ten.” The   two   constables   glared   angrily   at the   two   union   agents,   but   stepped   aside, hurrying   to   get   into   the   rear   seat   before Jay pulled away. “Sirens on!” Jay commanded. “Uh,    you    have    to    flip    a    switch    on these,”    a    constable    said    from    the    back seat. Jay     glanced     at     the     man     in     the rearview   mirror   and   Tess   turned   to   glare. The    constable    timidly    instructed    Tess how     to     flip     on     the     device,     as     Jay maneuvered    the    hover    into    the    upper lane set aside for emergency vehicles. The     hover     at     least     had     a     proper tracking      monitor.      He      followed      the directions   on   the   screen   around   several corners.   In   all   the   traffic   it   would   be   a miracle if they caught sight of their perp. Wasn’t   like   he’d   have   a   flashing   sign on his hood. Jay    had    to    chuckle    a    second    later though,   as   the   driver   of   a   car   ahead   of them     panicked     at     the     sight     of     the constables’ car. “It    couldn’t    be    that    easy,    could    it?” Jay asked. “They’re     criminals     for     a     freaking reason,” Tess mumbled. Her   excitement   had   her   squirming   on the   bench   seat.   She   slid   against   the   door as    Jay    hung    a    hard    corner,    and    she hurried   to   pull   her   restraint   across   her chest.   She   pulled   the   assault   rifle   out   of the rack between them. “This     thing     DNA     registered?”     she screeched back at the constables. “Yes.” She   cursed.   Be   nothing   more   than   a club   in   her   hands.   She   handed   it   back   to the   one   who   would   have   normally   been in   the   front   passenger   seat.   The   woman took it as though it wasn’t a familiar tool. The    slime    job    they    were    after    had already     clobbered     half-a-dozen     hovers trying   to   get   away.   He   was   going   to   claim more   victims   if   Jay   didn’t   get   that   hover disabled quickly. As     he     formed     that     thought,     the bastard   got   boxed   in   traffic,   slammed   the vehicles    in    front    of    him,    but    they    just came   to   a   stop   instead   of   making   way. Jay    was    on    him    in    three    seconds    and crashed   the   constables’   hover   on   top   of the one ole’ Slimy drove. “Gotcha, you raping bastard!” But   Slimy   had   already   crawled   out   his window   and   was   sprinting   up   the   street. The   two   agents   leapt   the   three   meters   to the   ground,   rolled   hard,   and   were   after him. Slimy   turned   and   fired   a   couple   shots to   give   them   something   to   think   about. But   Jay   and   Tess   had   reason   that   day   to take   more   risk   than   usual.   The   previous day,    their    tiny-assed    little    commander had    taken    huge    risks    at    cornering    a criminal. They     were     the     experienced     street agents.   They   couldn’t   let   her   show   them up. They   ran   straight   up   the   sidewalk   like idiots.   Civilians   thankfully   scattered   for   a change,      instead      of      gaping      at      the brouhaha like sheep. Slimy    stopped,    turned,    steadied    his sidearm.    Jay    felt    the    projectile    strike center-mass    into    his    armor.    The    force flung   him   backward   and   spun   him.   He ended    pulling    a    double    gainer    into    the concrete. Before     he     stopped     rolling     he     was shouting    at    the    top    of    his    lungs,    “I’m good,”   to   ensure   Tess   didn’t   stop   to   have tea   with   him.   He   ended   his   roll   with   a slide     into     first     base,     face     first.     Heat streaked across his chin. That would need plas-skin. Both   palms   already   bled   as   he   juggled to   pick   up   his   sidearm.   That   was   going   to make   it   slick.   He   tried   to   push   the   pain aside,   but   his   chest   didn’t   want   to   draw in   air.   He   at   least   had   a   broken   rib.   The jerk   was   using   illegal   ammo,   of   course. The    guy    had    to    die    before    he    killed    a bunch of citizens. The    pops    of    more    shooting    helped him   refocus.   He   stole   just   a   split-second to   check   down   the   street.   Where   were   the constables? Nowhere useful. Scrambling    up    he    looked    for    Slimy and   Tess.   The   man   was   out   of   sight,   but his    partner    approached    a    side    street, waiting   for   him   just   like   he   would   have waited for her. They   were   both   so   good   at   following protocol. As   she   veered   right,   she   took   at   least one round and went down hard. Jay    screamed,    willing    his    body    to move faster. He   wanted   to   check   on   Tess,   but   he forced   his   eyes   up   the   street   first.   Slimy turned   left   up   another   street.   Jay   knelt   by Tess   as   she   spewed,   a   sign   she’d   taken one   in   the   gut.   The   vest   saved   her   life, but   there   was   nothing   more   wrenching, besides a tag in the extremities. One   in   the   face   wouldn’t   feel   too   hot either. The    blood    she    spilled    over    her    vest earlier   made   it   difficult   to   see   if   she   had any    new    wounds,    plus    the    ding    in    her cheek    had    started    bleeding    again    from her    exertion.    She    spit    as    soon    as    she stopped gagging. “A’right!”   she   hissed,   waving   him   on. “Go!” Jay    rose    and    slogged    after    Slimy. There   wasn’t   a   lot   of   swift   in   his   giddy   up at   that   point.   Where   in   the   hell   were   the constables   of   that   fair   world?   Plenty   of sirens   rang   in   the   distance,   but   they   sure weren’t converging on them very quickly. He    hobbled    to    the    corner    the    jerk turned    down.    Startled    faces    recognized his   blue   vest   and   pointed   to   the   entrance of the near building. Great.    An    urban    battle    wasn’t    bad enough.     Now     he’d     have     to     wander around   in   a   moo-maze   where   the   bastard could hide behind a hundred hostages. Toni wasn’t gonna beat him on collars though. Struggling    to    catch    his    breath,    he peeked    through    the    glass    of    the    entry. There   were   more   ogling   civilians   inside, who pointed at the stairwell. Hopefully    they    were    more    reliable than Rutger. The weaselballs. Jay     jogged     through     the     automatic door,   leaned   against   the   wall.   Reaching across    his    body    he    pulled    the    stairwell door   open   a   crack   and   listened,   waiting for    an    explosion.    What    he    heard    was running footsteps, several flights up. Hell.   Just   thinking   of   stairs   hurt   his chest.    No    way.    He    stepped    inside    the stairwell   and   estimated   how   many   floors up   the   bastard   was.   Three,   four,   five,   he counted. A door banged. Jay   walked   back   to   the   foyer   elevator and   pressed   the   up   button.   Civies   gaped at   him.   He   tried   to   act   as   though   it   was totally    natural    for    him    to    stand    there bleeding     over     the     pretty     white     tile, holding    a    cannon    at    his    side,    casually going after a suspect via elevator. The   door   opened   and   startled   riders rushed   off,   sliding   against   the   far   edge   of the     entrance     to     keep     away     from     his cooties.   Maybe   they   didn’t   want   any   of his blood on their tidy clothes. Inside,    he    waved    away    those    who waited     for     a     lift     with     him.     No     one appeared   too   disappointed   about   missing that particular ride. Jay    got    off    on    the    fifth    floor    and listened. Now what? There   were   no   convenient   bystanders to   point   him   in   the   right   direction.   Left   or right?      Fifty-fifty      chance.      He      slowly walked     left,     reminding     himself     that criminals    are    idiots.    That’s    why    they’re criminals. What would an idiot do? A   door   cracked   open   two   offices   up, and a nervous eye peered out. Like, give himself away. Jay   aimed   as   the   door   slammed   shut. He   would   have   loved   to   ignore   protocol and     blasted     the     bastard     away,     right through   the   stinking   door.   But   Internal Affairs   called   that   indiscriminate   fire.   He had   to   triple   the   risk   and   get   the   guy   in perfect     sight     with     no     bystanders     in harm’s way. Remind   yourself,   Jay,   how   much   you love your job.” He    stared    at    the    door.    Now    what? Knock   and   ask   the   jerk   to   come   out   and play? Gwael    Exports    was    stenciled    across the door. “Spose   they   can   export   that   bastard right   out   here   into   the   hall?”   He   sighed, and    shouted,    “I’m    not    going    anywhere. You   aren’t   either,   except   in   manacles   or   a body bag.” He    didn’t    know    why,    but    the    taunt came   out   in   a   singsong   lilt,   like   a   pre- pubescent dare. Slimy     let     go     with     a     single     shot through the center of Gwael. “Like   that   is   going   to   make   me   think, ew, I better go home. He’s dangerous. “That    was    totally    unnecessary,”    Jay shouted. Doors     opened     up     and     down     the corridor.     Jay     patiently     waved     all     the sheep    for    the    stairs    at    the    end    of    each hall.   He   rolled   his   eyes   as   many   strolled, more      interested      in      gaping      at      the sideshow. “Get   out   of   the   freaking   building!”   he shouted. Which did little to hurry them. But     after     a     half-eon     the     building quieted   and   Jay   decided   to   go   for   broke. He    tiptoed    to    the    door    and    lay    down, reached   up   and   waved   his   hand   over   the bio-sensor.   As   the   door   swung   inward,   a flurry   of   projectiles   splintered   the   door, opening    three-centimeter    holes    in    the corridor’s facing wall. The    convenient    little    click    indicated the   bolt   of   Slimy’s   weapon   locked   open, out of ammunition. Jay   rolled   into   the   door   opening   and braced    his    shooting    hand.    Slimy    stood, eyes   popping,   probably   realizing   he   was short   of   options.   He   held   a   young   woman in   front   of   him.   Jay   leveled   his   sights   to the left of her right leg and fired. Slimy’s     shin     sheered     in     a     bloody explosion.         The         woman         shrieked maniacally,    but    she    maintained    enough state   of   mind   to   flee,   leaping   right   over Jay. He    had    to    laugh,    as    the    one-legged scumbag      tumbled      forward      in      slow motion after his escaping shield. Oh,     to     have     a     picture     of     that. Priceless. Jay   stood   and   stepped   into   the   office, kicked   the   dude’s   cannon   away   from   him. That   was   protocol.   Not   that   it   was   gonna sprout   a   fresh   magazine.   A   couple   other civilians   who   had   huddled   in   the   corner rushed    past.    One    looked    down    at    the nearly   severed   leg   and   spewed,   but   didn’t slow down. Ick. “Slimy.   You   have   the   right   to   continue screaming.   Anything   you   scream   can   and will    be    used    against    you    in    a    speedy tribunal   where   you   will   be   found   guilty for   a   bunch   of   shit   and   imprisoned   for the   rest   of   your   worthless   life,   if   you   don’t bleed out first. “You     have     the     right     to     have     an attorney   listen   to   your   screaming   while we deal with your despicable self. “If   you   can’t   afford   an   attorney,   we’ll drag   some   sorry   bastard   out   of   hiding   to ensure       your       fragile       rights       aren’t trampled. “Do     you     understand     these     rights, Slimy?” “Call    me    an    ambulance,”    the    man pleaded. “By   your   unresponsive   reply,   I   take   it you     don’t     understand,     so     I’ll     slowly repeat   your   rights.   I   can   explain   them   in excruciating     detail     if     you     have     any specific questions.” “I’m dying.” “Feel   free   to   interrupt   me   at   any   time. I   understand   them   very   well,   personally, and I’m sure I can help you get there.” We    got    our    man    too,    Colonel.    Jay smiled. “You   have   the   right,   by   that   I   mean you are entitled to claim—” © R. Mac Wheeler 2017