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If It's Good Enough for Batman and the Aliens...

Here's a half-formed first part of a new episode of the Slamdance series. It's a little bare right now, and the narrative is broken in placces, but I'm going to fill it out as I work on it and the other two or maybe three parts. I think it makes a great first fiction fragment for the site.

And yes, in case you're wondering, this is a double fanfic/crossover. It's just something I wanted to write recently. You should be able to guess who the guest villain of the piece is here.

“Status?”

“The goods have been procured; shoppers are checking out right now and will be heading home soon.”


“For the record, I hate it when mercenaries get involved in local market disputes.”


“Shit! Mister Reiger, Shopper Four is under attack!”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, sir, but it’s getting battered; telemetry shows a sudden fifty-percent reduction in operating capa – my God…”

“What’s going on?”

“Shopper Four’s off line. No telemetry.”

“Get me a status report on the rest of the expedition. Now!”


“We can’t go in. These guys are mercenaries, and haven’t been packing anything more advanced than some assault rifles and a couple of hotted-up cars; regular SWOS wants the collar and someone’s leaned on the deputy commissioner to give them priority.”

“Great. So we sit on our duffs while we wait for SWOS to get here.”

“Well, it can’t be too bad. The way I see it, we’re getting paid some pretty decent overtime to sit on our duffs.”

“Uh huh. For starters, it's almost forty degrees out here."

"Yeah, but the interceptor has air conditioning. Nice, cool air conditioning..."

"And for seconds, who do you think Macklesea’s going to chew out when these guys get away because we sat in our nice, cool interceptor and didn’t pursue?”

“Oh. In that case, forget what I said overtime. No bonus is worth that.”


“Shopper One is requesting weapons free, Mister Reiger. Shall I authorise?”

Jeff Rieger’s lips tightened. He didn’t like this. Granted, the three remaining Shoppers could get to extraction without being seen, especially given the terrain, but there was always the possibility. Still, two of them had been eliminated – from full operating capacity as well – within the space of two minutes. It seemed as though they’d need all the help they could get. “Affirmative. Give Shopper One the green light. Authorise uplink protocol as well; I want to see what’s going on.”

“Yes, sir.”


The balaclava-clad head of one of the mercenaries turned toward his comrades. “All right, team, there’s our sign-off. Let’s take care of this and go home.”

The clothing of the three mercenaries bulged, stretched and tore. Backpacks, fragments of fabric and what might have been skin fell to the floor as three massive combat cyberdroids – Boomers – sloughed off their human guises. The three reached down to their backpacks and removed bulky tubular devices, which they affixed to mounting-points on their assault rifles. They began to move again, striding through the darkness.


Jeff Rieger frowned at the three live monitors on the console. The space he could see through the Boomers’ eyes must have been a warehouse of some sort. Soot, engine exhaust and industrial pollutants caked the skylight, and what fitful sunlight from the raining sky above was tinted blue. Rippling patterns of light, refracted through the raindrops on the skylight and the catwalks that crisscrossed the roofing space, dappled the roofing supports and stacks of disused, moulding crates and cargo pallets that littered the floor.


“Boss, this is Two. Clearing twenty metres ahead; looks like a good place to make a stand.

“Defensive posture Alpha; power up your weapons and sensors. It’s going to be a tight engagement, so keep your posture efficient.”

A break in the dirt caking the skylight brought the curved grey armour of the three Boomers in stark relief as they moved out into the small space, perhaps ten metres diameter, between clusters of crates. Breaking file, they took up positions covering each other’s blind spots, each watching a hundred and twenty degrees. Metal antennae extended from around their eyes, whirring and probing the air.

“What’s the shopping expedition doing, Marks?”

“Well, their main priority is to ensure no-one follows them to the extraction point. They’ve made a tactical decision based on that priority, sir; I think they calculate that whoever’s engaging them has a better chance of following them to extraction.”

“So they’re eliminating the risk.”

“Yes, Mister Rieger. They’re covering all ways in and out of that area, so that when whoever it is that’s attacking them makes another move, they’ll be ready.”

A loud clatter brought the Boomers swinging around, aiming their rifles in the direction of the noise. Something far off within the warehouse snapped and echoed, something falling from the top of a crate and bouncing off wood and packing plastic to slap down onto the concrete floor.

In unison, the three Boomers thumbed a button on their rifles. With a whir and click, the underslung launchers each fed a grenade into their breeches. They spread out into a triangle, two forward, one rear, making sure each could shoot without hitting its companions – and a leaping form fell from above, breaking the light and casting its shadow on the three Boomers, holding aloft a spear as it plunged toward them…

“Holy shit!” Chao said as the explosion ripped out of the industrial district. “I thought those guys were packing assault rifles! What the hell did that?”

“Heavy rifle-propelled grenade, Jared,” Morris replied. “Must’ve attached them to their assault rifles once they were out of a populated – did you just see what I saw?”

“Yeah, I did,” Chao said, gazing intently at the warehouse roof through his binoculars. Two, perhaps three beams of blue light had speared up out of the warehouse roof. “Boomer mouth lasers, or I’m Greek.” He threw the binoculars into the back seat of the interceptor and leapt into the driver’s seat. “Come on, Morris!”

Morris blanched. “Oh, great. If it's Boomers, MARS gets priority back over SWOS, don’t we?”

Chao rolled his eyes at Morris as he started the engine. “Don’t you want to earn that overtime pay, Morris?”

Morris swallowed hard, but got into the interceptor just as Chao gunned the engine and flattened the accelerator.


“God damn it! What the hell is going on there?” Jeff Rieger’s eyes were riveted to the telemetry monitors.


Chao squinted into the darkness. Four massive shapes hung from a metal support beam. As his eyes adjusted to the light, Chao could make out the glint of metal. Taking the risk, he reached down, unclipped his torch and aimed it at one of the hanging forms. With a click, the torch beam swept over the shape.

“Jesus…”

It was a Boomer. Or at least, it used to be. It was hanging by its ankles from some sort of high-tensile metal line attached to the beam. Its entire outer tegument had been stripped away, leaving semi-organic musculature, actuated pistons and tendons, coated in white circulatory fluid that dribbled off the Boomer and fell in milky, clotted drops to the cconcrete. The dull metallic sheen of the skeleton and reinforcing framework could be glimpsed underneath. Chao had seen Boomer anatomies, and guessed that these had to be combat Boomers, probably BU-55C; what confirmed it was the large chunks that had been gouged from the machine’s chest and forearms.

Chao played the torch beam over the two other shapes. Exactly the same…

“These must be our guys,” Morris said. “So it's Boomers, all right. But what happened to them? And where are the other two?”

“I don’t know,” Chow said. “But it looks like something skinned them – stripped off every inch of their armour plating somehow – and took their weapons. I get the feeling that Doc Newbury’s going to find their mouth lasers missing as well.”

“Why would anyone do that?” Morris said. “Product research or something?”

“No,” Chao replied. “Doesn’t make sense. Why not take one whole unit instead of the same parts from three? Why not take all of them? Hell, those things must weigh, what, a quarter-tonne apiece. Why haul all that dead weight up, what, twelve, fifteen metres, just to string it up from the rafters, for us to find?”

“What’re you saying, Jared?”

“Only what I already said – it doesn’t make any sense…”

Old Comments

Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hate it when you do that to me, Rob! At the risk of repeating myself, where's the rest?!

Posted by: Peg at April 18, 2004 03:21 PM

On its way, Peg, on its way... ;-)

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 18, 2004 03:35 PM

So's Christmas, boyo! Oh, hey, wait a sec. It's coming your winter, innit? Cold, nasty weather that prevents you from gadding about all night... There is hope, then.

Posted by: Peg at April 19, 2004 08:23 AM

Indeed there is, Peg. :-D

Seriously, though, I want to knock this part up into something readable over the next few evenings while Vickie's at work. I've also got another fragment in the works, one that should eventually become the beginning of the climax. I think I'll have the fragment ready for posting by the time this first chapter is fully completed.

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 20, 2004 04:33 PM
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