The lights of Topaz bridge glimmered in the distance. But no one crossed the bridge: not on foot or by vehicle. The streets were deadly quiet. It was eight pm. Curfew was in effect for the next ten hours. Violation was punishable by death.

One solitary figure, hurried along the tree lined streets. In his arms he carried a little girl. The Amber man glanced over his shoulder: his face contorted in terror.

Just one more block.

His heart thumped wildly against his chest, as much from the exertion of running as from fear. Meoshi weighed a least 40 pounds. But Li didn’t dare put her down.

“Violation!” a robotic voice screeched behind them.

Li looked over his shoulder to see a six foot mechanical bird bearing down upon him. Sitting atop the creature was a man wearing goggles and a pointed helmet. His right arm ended in a metal tubule of brass and bolts.

“You are in violation!”

Li cried out and redoubled his speed, Meoshi wailing in his arms. Yet the robot’s long legs halved the distance between them, the street thumping from the impact of the bird’s metallic legs.

Realizing that he couldn’t outrun the rider, he whirled to face him. “PLEASE! I’m carrying a CHILD!”

“Violation!” The android rider screeched.

Li turned and sprinted away. In the next instant, the rider leveled his arm at the man’s back. A thunderous BOOM filled the night, and molten orange fire shot from the rider’s arm.

Half the man’s back disappeared in flames. He screamed in agony.

“Run —!” Li croaked tossing his daughter.

A black robed figure glided from the rooftop and caught the child. The man was Copper and dressed in black. He wore earrings and his neck was tattooed. He morphed behind the android.

Li hit the pavement, already dead.

Another specter glided from the rooftop: an Indigo woman, her hair braided into an up-sweep. She was also dressed in a black, tattooed and pierced; but wore a form fitting short dress with her coat. She stood akimbo before the rider.

“VAMPYRE!” The android shrieked backing the bird up a step. The sudden appearance of these creatures incensed him far more than Li’s. “You are in violation of planet law and will be ERASED!”

He pointed his arm at her and fired.

She blurred to the left in a fluid burst of speed – so fast she seemed have vanished.

Four more specters appeared on the rooftops: all tattooed and pierced. They glided down to surround the android. He fired at one then the other, but they easily dodged his fire so that he was reduced to spinning in circles in his vain attempt to hit one.

At length, they seemed to tired of the game and paused. Waiting. The rider stopped too: unsure of what was happening. But the human part of his brain told him that these four were only the icing on a deadly cake. Something was wrong.

Very wrong.

A dark woman stepped out of the shadows. Thick, wavy hair framed her face. She wore a black ankle length coat and boots. Her generous curves were encased in a camisole that enhanced rather than covered her body. She held a pistol the size of a small cannon.

“VAMPYRE!” The rider shrieked. “VAMP —”

Annabelle smiled revealing two fanged incisors and fired: taking the creature’s head off. The goggled head shot through the air and landed at her feet. The bird, electronically connected to its rider, lurched a few steps… and froze.

They blurred to her side. “We gotta get moving,” Annabelle ordered. “He sent a signal to the others. They’ll be on top of us soon.”

Eagle, still holding the child gently in his arms, nodded. She had her thumb in her mouth: her face was stained with tears.

Meoshi looked over at her prone father and let out a fresh wail. “Daddy! I want my daddy--!”

“Shut up! Your daddy’s dead!” Annabelle snapped impatiently. “Tell us where you live so we can take you home!”

Eagle shook his head. “You got a real way with children, you know that?” The others chuckled. He lifted the little girl’s chin and looked in her eyes. Quiet now, he telepathically commanded: calming the child. It’s alright.

Out loud he said: “Tell us where you live and we’ll take you home to your mama.”

Meoshi pointed. “Down there…”

“Can you show us?”

The little girl nodded and they blurred over to the next block. Eagle climbed the steps of the duplex and knocked at the door, his friends hovering around the bottom. A thin, Fuchsia woman came to the door: her face drawn and fearful.

“Mama —!” Meoshi cried.

Eagle handed the child to her mother. “Your mate is dead.” he said quietly. “We didn’t kill him. A rider did.”

The woman opened the door snatched Meoshi from his arms and slammed it shut. Moments later her cries could be heard through the door.

“You’re welcome,” Eagle muttered. He flew down the steps to the others.

“What do you expect from a human?” Cle-Menti, another said dryly. He was a muscular and ebony colored with a gold post in his nose. Like the others, he dressed in black, tattooed and pierced.

He grinned, exposing his fangs. “Let’s go, I’m hungry!”


Copyright 2011 Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson all rights reserved


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