How did I fuck my back up, you may wonder? Sit back, reader, and I shall regale you with the tale.
I was all pissed and feeling sorry for myself after my solo Thanksgiving dinner of General Tso's Chicken, so I went on patrol. I figured it would be a dead night and I'd just get a little exercise.
As usual, I park the Saab in one of my carefully selected spots (this one was on the south end), change into the Velvet Marauder body armor, don the cowl and goggles, stretch out a little, pick tonight's music selection, take a safety piss, then start out on patrol.
I don’t get far when the police scanner squawks - a very excited Sheriff's Department helicopter pilot is yelling about a flying man over downtown. I can hear the chopper overhead in the night sky.
Scanning the city skyline with the binocular setting on the goggles, I spot the police helicopter, a green Jet Ranger. It’s hovering over midtown, sweeping the sky with its searchlight. A flying figure flashes in the spotlight. Kestrel?
The figure darts behind a high rise condo. I catch fleeting glimpses of it flying through the concrete and steel canyons of Midtown. Then, he shows himself –
It’s a Jet Pack Mafioso.
Shit! And I’m like, two miles away. It’ll take me minutes to get there.
Game on. I leap up on to the Old Town Viaduct and take off at a decent clip towards the city center. Traffic is light; I weave between a few cars running at about forty mph. I’m sure it scares the hell out of the drivers, but hey, it’ll give them something to talk about.
I take the Waterfront Park exit. My suit’s sound system is busy with the chatter of the police trying to track the flying mobster. Sirens echo through the city.
Where are they? I catch a glimpse of the police helicopter up above.
I run up 6th, where my way is blocked by a bunch of cars waiting at a red light. I could jump them, or between them, or…
A fucking garbage truck backs out of an alley on to 6th, right in my way.
I dodge out of the way and on to a sidewalk, bouncing off a granite wall. It’s tough to stop when you’re running that fast.
Of course, there’s an old lady hobbling down the sidewalk, right in my way.
If I hit her, she’s dead. I twist and pull myself sideways, breezing within inches of her at 40 mph. The gust from my passage knocks her over.
“Shit!” I look over my shoulder as the old woman teeters and falls.
“Sorry!” I yell lamely, then smash into a mailbox.
I shear the mailbox clean off the bolts that anchor it to the sidewalk with a horrible metallic shriek. The mailbox crumbles under the impact and letters explode from its innards. We both tumble and skid into the intersection of 6th and Thurston.
My slide is halted by a parked Jetta. I cave in the driver’s side door with my head and trigger the car alarm.
Okay, this is embarrassing. I pull myself to my feet, my ears ringing with that fucking car alarm. Mail flutters like leaves across the intersection I just skidded across. The mailbox lies nearby, flattened and disemboweled. The helicopter churns overhead. Headlights from all the stopped cars at the intersection stare blankly at me.
I wave. It’s the only thing I can think of doing.
Then, with one great leap, I’m airborne, leaving the dead mailbox and the screaming Jetta and all the bewildered people in their cars below me. I rebound off the façade of an office building, bounce off a lamppost, then land on top of a mid-rise condo.
I scan the scene. The police helicopter is raking Midtown with its searchlight. Police lights flicker and strobe in the canyons below. I turn off all the confused chatter on the police scanner. Where is he…?
Then I spot him, hovering over a rooftop a few blocks away. The Mafioso.
The Jet Pack Mafia are a gang of high-tech thieves who use jet packs, revolutionary polymer body armor, and advanced weaponry.
That description doesn’t really describe how goofy and weird they are. They look like weird plastic Mafia androids. Really. Do you remember years ago those creepy Duracell commercials, with The Puttermans, the white bread plastic robot family? They look sort of like that.
I zoom in on the goon with my binocular goggles. He’s a typical Jet Pack Mafioso; dressed in a cartoony wide-shouldered pinstripe double-breasted suit that’s made of some kind of shiny plastic. No Fedora on this one; you can see his helmet of black hair over his rubbery, scowling features. He’s smoking a big, oversized stogie and grips an exaggerated Tommy gun in white-gloved hands. His jet pack is a sleek aluminum rocket mounted on his upper back that effortlessly holds him up in the air. Sure, he looks goofy, but that plastic suit and rubbery skin is actually a customized polymer exo-skeleton, his jet pack can propel him at incredible speeds, and that Tommy gun fires incendiary and armor-piercing rounds.
I scan the area. It’s weird, because I’ve never seen one of these guys alone. Could be a trap.
“YOU THERE! FREEZE!!!”
Uh oh. The choppers spots the Mafioso and pins him with the searchlight. The loudspeaker blares.
“LAND IMMEDIATELY! THIS IS THE POLICE!”
Time to move. If I can get close enough without him seeing me…
I jump over a forty foot gap to the next rooftop, then run towards the goon, trying to stay low.
I’m close now. I can hear the Mafioso: “Dirty coppers! You bit off more than ya can chew now, ya bums!” They really talk like that.
He raises his Tommy gun at the chopper.
I’m not close enough, he’s going to shoot them down.
I launch off an air vent high up into the air. Up, up, up towards the Mafioso…
At the apogee of my jump, I fire a Marauderang. It misses – they usually do – but I catch his attention and he swings his gun around.
Have you ever tried dodging in mid-air? It’s a rhetorical question, you don’t need to answer. Let me tell you, dodging in mid-air is impossible. I have to ride my jump out and hope he’s not a good shot. A rooftop rushes up towards me --
Budda budda budda
Tracer bullets rip over my head, sizzling like lasers off into the night. I land – oof! - and roll behind some HVAC units on the roof of this mid-rise. The goon’s armor piercing bullets track after me, ripping through the metal ducting on the rooftop with a terrible racket. Sparks and shredded metal cascade down on me.
“Where ya hiding, ya stinking mutt?” The Mafioso floats overhead, awash in heat waves from his jet pack.
I peer up from the wreckage of the HVAC unit. I ready a Marauderang in my wrist launcher.
Rolling out from under some twisted metal, I take aim at, let’s see… at his crotch.
I fire. The spinning projectile launches from my gauntlet and flies in a blur the short distance from my outstretched arm to his groin.
He does not crumple over, or groan, or collapse. He just turns, backlight by the chopper’s searchlight. His evil cartoony face, set in a permanent scowl, looks down at me.
“Below the belt, eh? Why you…”
The Jet Pack Mafioso opens up with his Tommy gun. I leap out of the way, chased by red hot armor piercing bullets. I roll and roll and roll…
…right off the roof.
“Yaaah!” I scream. I’m falling.
Shit! How high up am I? I turn my head, trying to see where I’m heading. If it’s ten stories or less, I’m cool, it won’t kill me.
Bad news. I’m twenty-five stories up and counting.
I’m too far away to kick off the wall that’s rushing by me, too far away to grab an outcropping or a ledge or anything to slow my fall.
Vaguely I’m aware of the Mafioso above me, yelling in his weird James Cagney vernacular. Retro asshole.
Then I see it below me. A flagpole. It looks really small and weak, but it’s the only thing between me and The Big Bounce.
I reach out with my right hand. I can’t tell if I’m going to –
I hit the flagpole with the crook of my elbow and I bounce off it. Something snaps deep in my right shoulder and a lightning bolt of pain rips through me. The impact miraculously rebounds me into the wall of the building I feel off, and I kick hard, bouncing off the wall and across the alley. I pinball off another wall and land face-first in a wet, dirty alleyway.
I can’t move. Is my nose broken? I think I pulled something in my shoulder. I just lay there, gasping for air.
Dimly I’m aware of the turbine whine of the Jet Pack Mafioso’s jetpack overhead. It sounds like he’s coming down to check on me. Or finish me off. I can’t tell how close he is.
Sirens. I hear sirens. Am I hurt?
Where is he? I can’t tell how badly hurt I am. I’m afraid that if I try to get up, I won’t be able to, and this asshole will just shoot me. On the other hand, if I just lay here he’s definitely going to shoot me. I move my head slightly to one side.
There. In the reflection of a puddle, I see the Mafioso slowly descending. He’s what, about twenty feet above me, five feet over…
“What a dope,” the Mafioso says, laughing. “Ya frickin’ iced yourself, saved me the trouble. Haw!”
About two feet away from me, next to a dumpster, partially hidden by wet newspaper and junk food wrappers, I see a car battery. It’s all rusted and crusty; who knows how long it’s been here. It’s just what I need.
I can feel the heat of the jetpack exhaust on my cheek as the goon descends closer and closer.
“Ta think of all the trouble youse given us, and here you go out like a rube, a babbo.” What the hell is he talking about? Is that English?
It’s go time.
I spring up into a crouching position, ignoring the pain. I palm the old car battery in my right hand – ouch! My shoulder! – and then I spin…
The Jet Pack Mafioso is floating on a cushion of heat waves, about fifteen feet off the ground. His big Mickey Mouse eyes go comically wide when he sees me move and the jumbo cigar drops from his mouth. He swings his Tommy gun around, aiming at me.
I throw the car battery at his head.
The battery strikes him right in his weird plastic robot gangster face, knocking him back into the wall, splashing his rubbery skin and plastic hair with acid and nasty-ass calcified chemicals.
“Gaaah!” he screams.
He fires blindly, and his bullets tear up the wall behind me. The sound of the gun is deafening, echoing down the wet alley.
Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain.
I leap up like a jack-in-the-box and whomp him in the head with a roundhouse kick. He reels, firing into the air.
“Motherfucker!” he screams, wiping at his eyes.
I grab him by the double-breasted lapels and shake him. “That doesn’t sound like mobster slang.” I backhand him. “Can you imagine Al Capone saying ‘motherfucker?’” I smack him again. “Come on, stay in character, dude!”
With a snarl, he brings the Tommy gun up and catches me under the chin. Have I mentioned that the polymer exo-skeletons the Jet Pack Mafia wear increase their strength tenfold? Well, consider it mentioned. The blow knocks me back into a dumpster, which crumples.
“Eat this, you dirty—“ The goon pulls the trigger, but his gun doesn’t fire. He must have busted it on my chin. Hah! Dick.
I extricate myself from the crumpled dumpster. My right shoulder feels like it has red hot pokers sticking into it.
The Mafioso considers his options, then does the smart thing. He lifts off.
“This ain’t over, punk!” he yells in his dumb accent as he flies up and out of the alley. “Not by a longshot. When we get through with you, you’ll be pushing up daisies! Fish food! You’ll be wearing cement galoshes, you stinkin’ mutt!” He goes on like this for a while until his voice is lost in the sound of the police helicopter thrumming overhead.
My shoulder is fucking killing me. Time to call it a night.