It feels good to go out on patrol again.
I suit up, making sure that my goggle sights are zeroed, the Marauderang launchers are loaded, and that I’m fully stocked with sepia bombs and gas grenades. I flex my gauntlets –shnnng!—and climbing claws pop out of the fingertips. I make sure my retractable glider wings are oiled and open smoothly. I thump my armor plated chest. King of the Nighttime World, baby.
I start off about 10 PM in the South End, leaping and running across warehouses and rail yards. It’s a good warm up, but you have to watch the power lines in the South End. Most of the buildings are pretty low and the vast cat’s cradle of power lines that criss-crosses the South End is strung right at the height of these buildings, making it difficult to hop around properly without tangling your feet. It’s as if the entire South End power system is designed to trip me. More than once I stumble or fall on a rooftop because of some invisible power wire stretched out before me at knee height. I say it’s time for Evergreen City to join the fucking 21st century and bury their power lines. Look at New Avalon, it’s beautiful, they buried all their wires years ago. Come on, let's get rid of this shit, please? I'm just saying.
Anyway, once I’m warmed up I head into Old Town, which is a little more my speed. I leap and bounce through the urban canyons, springing off balconies and sliding down slick rooftops. My shoulder feels fine; a little stiff but no big deal. I'm listening to a mix on my MP3 player - some Chemical Brothers, Duran Duran, and um, Kylie Minogue. That doesn’t make me gay, all right?
Bounding on top of the Masonic Temple, I strike Pose #1, Vigilant Dragon, near an ornate rooftop lightning rod. I look out over the city, my city, now cloaked in a nocturnal sea mist. Dark huddled figures and taxi cabs scurry under amber fog lights on the streets below. Somewhere out in the Bay a fog horn moans.
This is great, very ambient, but I need some action. I turn off the music and switch to the police scanner function on my audio suite.
The scanner is quiet, so I work my way over to 4th Ave S and jump into Chinatown. Patrolling around here is always a rich experience; Evergreen City’s Chinatown is nearly as old as the city itself, and has retained its local character through strict zoning laws and a protective community. I bounce across a dilapidated fantasy land of old shingled rooftops, steaming vents, laundry lines and blinking neon signs. The gleaming futuristic skyscrapers of Midtown and Downtown tower over this older world that smells like damp wood and hoisin sauce. I always feel like I’m in a Ridley Scott movie down here.
I pause on top of a gabled building designed to look like an Asian castle and observe the scene below, where people walk down wet cobblestone streets under strings of red lanterns. Dealers and vagrants shuffle around in the small park across the street, mooching cigarettes and drinking surreptitiously.
Then there’s a cry from across the street, and I switch on.
Screaming in Cantonese, a little Asian lady half heartedly runs after a pair of fleeing men, shaking her fist. The two guys are laughing; they have the old lady’s purse. They sprint down the street below me and duck into an alley. They’re both wearing distinctive red white and black jackets: Judo Boys.
This will be a pleasure.
I drop down off the roof into the alley behind them, landing in a crouch with, I must say, cat-like grace. The Judo Boys are already halfway down the alley, running like hell. One of them looks over his shoulder, laughing hysterically, like it’s a big fucking joke. I rise out of my crouch and point at them, trying to be intimidating. When the Judo Boys see me they yelp in fear and run even faster.
The old lady comes trotting up behind me, yelling and gesturing wildly. I don’t know what she’s saying, but I think she’s cussing up a storm. She smacks my shoulder and points after the fleeing punks and yells something in Chinese like, “Hey, stupid! Make yourself useful and get my bag back!”
“Yes, ma’am,” I say and take off after them.
I’m on them in like, seconds. I grab the slowest one by the scruff of the neck and hoist him into the air. He screams like a kindergartner. Without slowing, I fucking hurl the slow Judo Boy at the fast one, bowling him over. Both bounce painfully off the cement. One of them smashes head first into a dumpster. Needless to say, he drops the old lady’s purse.
“You guys are real dickheads, do you know this?” I say as I frisk the first Judo Boy. He loses a butterfly knife, a wallet, and a 9mm. I slap him around a little. “Whatever happened to respecting your elders?” I frisk the other guy, who is moaning and bleeding from a cut to his forehead. He loses his wallet, cell phone, and a switchblade. How retro. “I’m disappointed with you guys, and I think your family would be, too.”
I pop open a locked dumpster – it’s half full of stinking trash. Perfect.
“You’re both on time-out,” I say as I throw them roughly into the dumpster and slam the lid.
The old lady catches up. She’s winded but is still pissed.
I pick up her purse from a puddle in the alley. The strap is broken. I hand it to her with a sheepish smile (like this is my fault) and bow a little. “Here you are, ma’am.”
She explodes, cursing me out in Cantonese. I think she might hit me again.
“I’m sorry…” I say, confused. “Umm, what…?”
She starts gesturing wildly at the broken strap, then down at the puddle. She sort of mimes running then stabs her finger at me wildly, accusingly. I point at my chest, baffled. “Me…?” She nods furiously, pointing at me. “Hey! It’s not my fault!” This pisses her off even more and she launches into a withering high speed tirade. I don’t know what else to do but smile and nod and look apologetic.
I call 911 on the Judo Boy’s phone and report the mugging as the mean old bitch continues to berate me. Talk about ungrateful.
I can see this lady means for me to reimburse her for the damaged purse, despite the fact that were it not for my intervention she would have no purse at all. I hold up my hands in the universal sign of Please Shut Your Hole. I dig through the two wallets and find $60 in cash and some weed. I give the lady the cash. “Here. Here! Take it, woman! Damn!”
The lady instantly shuts up and starts counting the cash. She grumbles a little, but it looks like we’ll grudgingly take it.
“Okay, let’s just stay here, okay? Wait for the police. You understand.”
She nods, stuffing the cash in her purse.
From inside the dumpster one of the Judo Boys moans and calls out something, probably “Doctor!” I rattle the dumpster violently with my super strength and yell, “Quiet! You’re on time out!”
We stand in the alley, the old lady and I, waiting. Not much to say to each other. She just sort of ignores me. I look around, impatient.
More waiting. Where are those fucking cops anyway?
The old lady takes the money out of the purse, counts it again.
We wait some more. This is a little awkward.
“Kind of cold tonight, huh?” I say at last.
“Yep,” I say. “Cold.”
Finally a police cruiser pulls into the alley, lights flashing.
“Okay, that’s my cue,” I say. “The police will take care of you, ma’am. You have a nice night.”
The old lady cracks a fleeting smile and says, in English, “Thank you, Marauder. Bye bye.”
I laugh and spring up on to a fire escape, rebound across the alley, bounce off a window sill, and disappear into the night.
King of the Night Time World, baby.