Flash Friday 10/06/2016: Dropping In
With the flying cars, bustling streets, and giant headquarters for the megacorporations that ran the city, it was easy to assume that New Los Angeles was a perfect city as they come. Even the prettiest face has blemishes, however, and the darker side of New Los Angeles was treated in the same way a blemish would; covered up until nobody could tell it was there at all.
Therefore, the only people who noticed the worn, flame-spewing barrel in the middle of a derelict road were the people using it for their only source of warmth. Three rough characters, donned in spiked leather and even spikier hair, rubbed their hands as they stood around it, the only signs of life in the entire street. The shells of burnt-out and decayed buildings surrounded them on either side.
“Still,” the leader said, wearing shades and a green mohawk. “Only for a few more days, right? Until the agent can confirm the deal went off without a hitch. Then we’ll all get paid out and buy ourselves out of this god-forsaken district. I promise. And you always know Roadstreak keeps his promises.”
The other two nodded.
“The real problem is the waiting, though. If they wanted the data so badly, you’d have thought they’d buy it up real quick-like and give us our money. But no, the suit’s gotta put it through forms and the finance department and–”
Something large and heavy slammed into the barrel.
The barrel tipped over, spewing out the wood and papers used for fuel. Amongst them, a human figure in a trenchcoat rolled out, beating the flames on his body and rolling on the ground. After enough of the flames were extinguished, the man stood up, revealing a young man with a mat of slightly singed black hair. He aimed his laser pistol at the three.
“Freeze! Agent Cartwright!” he yelled. “This is a police raid!”
Roadstreak pointed to his own left shoulder. “You got a bit on you.”
The man looked at his own shoulder, dusted off a piece of flaming newspaper, and said, “freeze! Agent Cartwright! This is still a police raid!”
Roadstreak and his two companions nonchalantly raised their hands. “Made quite an entrance, officer.”
“I wanted to test these new bionic legs.” Cartwright gave one a shake; given how the leg was fully clothed, it was hard to tell it wasn’t real. “Thought I’d get the element of surprise by jumping off a roof, because these things can break any fall.” Then, after a pause; “which they did, by the way.”
“Very nice. But I’m afraid I’m unsure of why you’re here. You can’t arrest someone for heating up their hands on a bitter night.”
“You’re under arrest for being caught in the act of, uh, getting someone’s data over the net. You know, where you accessed someone’s data illegally and stole it. For money. You stole data for money. It has a name.”
“Hacking! Yes. You hacked a megacorporation. The one that handles water sanitation. The big one with a water droplet for a logo.”
“Right! Right. Them. You hacked them. And we caught you doing it.”
Roadstreak, hands still in the air, gave a shrug. “Nice work, detective. You sure got me.”
Cartwright gave a confident grin. “So you admit it, then? In front of an agent? Me, specifically?”
“Sure. I suppose you suits have all the evidence you need to make it an open-shut case. What’s the point of arguing?”
“Right! Right. There is no point, because you know you’re busted. So you’re coming with me.”
Roadstreak gave his companions an exaggerated confused look. “Going with you? I don’t remember agreeing to go with you anywhere.”
“Well…no, you didn’t, but you’re under arrest, right? For doing that computer thing with the data.”
Roadstreak rolled his eyes. “Hacking.”
“So now you have to go where I tell you to. Down to the police office. And if I know my law — which I do — eventually prison.”
Another shrug. “Don’t feel like going. Maybe tomorrow.”
“You can’t say that! You’re under arrest! By the law, I’ll have you know.”
“Right. But if you want me to go somewhere I don’t want to go, you gotta do so by force, right?”
“Yeah, and I have a gun. So what?”
Roadstreak didn’t need to signal anyone; they knew their cues well enough. Like worms out of woodwork, thugs dressed in neon colours and leather came out of every door, alleyway, and even window of the buildings surrounding the group. Pipes, planks, and the occasional smashed bottle were the weapons of choice. They stood along the pavements of the streets, smirks on faces.
“So,” Roadstreak said. “I’m just a bit worried of its effectiveness against my entire gang, you know?”
Cartwright looked around at the newly-arrived group. Not entirely believing his own words, he whined, “I can still shoot you, right?”
If Cartwright blinked, he wouldn’t have seen Roadstreak pull an old bullet-operated revolver from his pocket and shoot his own laser pistol clean out his hands. For a moment, the only sounds were the noise of the gun’s bang echoing around the dead street, and the clatter of a laser pistol hitting concrete.
“Could’ve done,” Roadstreak said. “Not sure about it now.”
Cartwright wringed his hands together as the gang’s grins got wider. “Listen, I have a plan that will solve all our problems.”
“Oh? Love to hear it.”
“Okay, here it is.”
The good thing about bionic legs is that they can accelerate to blistering speeds faster than most people can react to. This means that, by the time Roadstreak had opened fire, Cartwright was already halfway down the street. Hearing the noise of outrage and thundering footsteps behind him, the gang were giving chase, presumably about to jump into hovercars and bikes. If they were foolish and reckless enough, he thought, he could lead them right to the police station, where he’d get backup.
Problem was; which way was it, again?