Photo by Shen Quioyun, aka Sheylara
In which we discover, if we didn't know it by now, that Maverick is definitely not operating on our little planet...
by Kyle Crocco
“… you shouldn’t have come for me …”
The front door exploded into shatters, sending wood chips and bits of brass out across the marble floor.
“Maverick!” It was a collective gasp as he walked through the jagged remains of the front entrance.
Maverick was the only one brave enough to walk in to a Hooligan-controlled casino. Any other Enforcement officer would have been dead before he even reached the door. But Maverick gave that little thought, as he gave every little thing little thought. He had a code and everyone knew it, Hooligans included. He only went after certain people and only those among the Hooligans that had gone too far.
As long as the Hooligans didn’t get itchy fingers, Maverick wouldn’t have to hurt anybody. No one messed with Maverick. Those that did were soon tied with a toe tag. Those who did and managed to survive became legend. Like Hydra. Hydra had eluded him again and again and it was starting to make him angry. Very angry. And worse, it was starting to make him think. And he didn’t like that. Thinking, that is. Thinking messed with one’s mind and filled it with thoughts. And he didn’t like having his mind filled with thoughts.
Maverick scanned the room, waving his hand blaster at the crowd. “I’m looking for a Hooligan named Hydra.”
All the assorted gamblers, crooks, patrons and working staff suddenly looked the other way, avoiding his fiery gaze. Everyone that is, except for one being: a three-foot high, squat shaped, purple fuzzy creature. A Purple Freak. It cowered under the roulette table, staring at him like a deer caught in the headlights.
Maverick demanded, “Do you know where Hydra is?”
Before the Purple Freak could respond, Maverick grabbed it by its long, fuzzy neck.
Just then a man in a black tuxedo glided up to the roulette table. His black hair was slicked back. His olive skin glistened. His hands were held together as if in prayer. It was Guido, the owner and operator of the casino. His voice was all oily politeness. Guido was used to all types: from hardcore criminal Hooligans, to hardcore cops like Maverick, and even some honest people. He had risen in the world because he was able to remain calm and diplomatic even in the face of a hand blaster. Nevertheless, he had to hold his hands together so they wouldn’t shake.
“Maverick. Please don’t squeeze the guests. It’s bad for business.”
Maverick unclenched his fist and the Purple Freak plopped to the ground with a squishy sound, rolling back under the roulette table where it quickly curled into a quivering, fetal ball.
“Where’s Hydra, Guido?”
Guido tried to affect nonchalance, to act as if he didn’t know that several Hooligans were now taking up positions with rifle beamers on the balcony behind him.
“He’s left. Gone to the world gate. You’ll never find him on this world.”
A small flicker of movement alerted Maverick’s cat-like senses. On the balcony appeared a tall, thin man dressed in an elegant, white suit. On his head he wore a wide brimmed Panama hat over his almost white, blondish hair. It could only be one person.
“You were saying, Guido?”
Guido raised his hands and backed away. This was no longer his problem. He had done what he was paid to do.
Hydra leaned over the railing. “You shouldn’t have come for me, Maverick.”
Maverick raised up his hand blaster.
“You’re under arrest for violating four articles of the parking code, Hydra.”
Hydra snickered. “Parking citations. Have you been demoted again, old friend?”
“Reassigned,” Maverick countered.
“Still, nothing to be proud of,” Hydra said.
Maverick ignored the comment. If it hadn’t been for Hydra he would never have been reassigned all those times in the second place. Or was that the first place? Third place? Forget it.
“The job title may change, Hydra, but the result will just be the same: you in jail, and me mooning you between the bars.”
Hydra tipped his hat. “On the contrary.”
Suddenly, several Hooligans stepped forward, aiming their rifle beamers directly at Maverick’s chest.
Crap, Maverick thought. No one ever told me that ‘on the contrary’ meant ‘open fire?’
“Farewell, my old comrade.” Hydra bowed, as the Hooligans opened fire.