Back to IndexWritten August, 1998 - Present

On the Oribitals and starships of the Empire it was summer but here, on this godforsaken world on the galactic rim, it was winter; and Galen Massoon was cold. He shivered slightly as he let out a breath that crystallised instantly into a million tiny ice crystals which hovered briefly before falling to the ground. His gloved hands rubbed his lean form through his coat in a vague attempt to restore some life to his limbs. He glanced around, moving his eyes but keeping his face impassive and staring straight ahead. This was less from the necessity of appearing inconspicuous and more to do with the fear that if he tried to turn his neck it might snap.
To his left and slightly behind him a bench beckoned seductively to his frozen form but his mind told his body that sitting down would only incur a greater pain when the time came to rise again. His body suggested that the future was less important than the present. He ignored his body.
He tried a few experimental steps, forcibly commanding his chilled muscles to move each leg in turn. His feet made a decisive crunchy sound as they came into contact with the ice crystals that adorned the grassy surface. Another step, and he was standing on tarmac and using all his dexterity to avoid slipping. He took a step back onto the grass and resumed his waiting. Whatever heat the exercise had imparted had not been worth the effort it had taken. He would wait.
He was standing on a grass square which stretched for almost fifty metres in each direction, in the centre several coniferous trees were demonstrating their hardiness by refusing to shed their leaves.
Arrogant little bastards. Thought Galen angrily. They, at least, were adjusted for this kind of existence. He was not, having been born on a small orbital whose particularly eccentric controlling Mind had loved summer to such an extent that winter occurred for only two weeks every fifty and the rest of the time the wonderful heat of summer weather would wash over the occupants. This had, of course, placed some restrictions on the flora and fauna which could inhabit the habitat. The Mind had not seemed to care and spent quite a lot of its time trying to genetically engineer away millions of years of adjustment to more normal conditions.
The square was at the centre of a network of roads which stretched away in four directions, converging here. Along them the personal conveyances of the populace skated across the ice at speeds which, it seemed to Galen, must clearly result in more accidents than successful journeys. These people seemed to enjoy pitting their skill at the steering wheel against the torturous corners which were such a common occurrence on these roads under the conditions which on other worlds would have led to the immediate suspension of all such activities. He might have shrugged, but his muscles protested that unless this shrug was going to grant him some extra heat by means of a, yet undiscovered, law of thermodynamics it was not worth the effort. He chose to forgo the shrug.
A gust of extra wind rushed through his entangled hair as a conveyance rushed past at an even greater than normal speed. He shivered again, it seemed like the proper thing to do. He passed the time by admiring the architecture. The time did not seem to be passing any quicker, although for sure this was not the most amazing architecture he had ever passed the time by admiring.
Along the roads edges, behind the bustling pavements filled with people going about their business (although quite what anyone was doing with business on a day like this was beyond him), tall buildings reached for the sky. Their concrete walls were uniformly grey and quite depressing and even the regular spacing of the windows did not break the impression of monotony that they conveyed for even they seemed to have a grey tinge. Occasionally a more adventurous architect had clearly had the inkling of an original idea and had tried to incorporate it by slightly changing the silhouette of the building but he had clearly been so confused by the break from the pattern that his brain had forced him into reset and he had left the modification unfinished. The overall effect was slightly confusing.
The buildings seemed to loom over the grass centre square although this must have been an optical effect since it was a scientific impossibility for anything to loom in this climate without snapping. He locked his eyes onto a specific window of a specific building and watched it intently, ignoring the occasional member of the local populace walking past him with an almost serene grace; they appeared to be used to walking on the ice. A light flashed briefly directly towards him. Once, twice, three times.
That was the signal. He pulled the hood of his coat over his head, stuck his hands into his pockets and forced his protesting legs to convey him towards the building. As he did so he tapped a small metal object in his pocket twice with a single finger, the operation was now in motion.

The building's requirement for an entrance was effectively served by a rotated door set centrally on the ground level of the structure. He passed through it, lifting his hand out of his pocket to give it the necessary push to convey him into the warm interior of the building. Warm was perhaps a slight exaggeration but at least inside the temperature was such that water did not instantly assume a more solid form. The room was slightly dimmer than might be expected and he spied a lighting tube on the ceiling which was failing to perform its duty, preferring to remain a dull and semi-translucent grey.
The tones of the inside of the building were at least more interesting than the outside. Clearly there had either been a more enthusiastic architect responsible for this or the same architect had simply been feeling in a better mood on the day which he designed the lobby. The walls were an attractive reddy brown and were even adorned by the occasional painting. The centre of the lobby area was filled with a circular reception desk at which sat two receptionists of indeterminate age. The male on the left looked like he might be slightly younger than his female colleague but that was merely a guess, the thick covering of facial hair sported by both genders of this species might have been necessary, given the climate, but it made recognition difficult verging on impossible.
The room, overall, looked somewhat similar to the lobby of the hotel where he had spent the last month attempting to track down this very building, or more precisely, an occupant thereof. Despite the fact that his profession ensured that he spent a great deal of time on stage 3 planets he was not especially endeared to them and preferred the simple comfort of an Imperial world any day. On the other hand, if the only thing which brought him to worlds was his profession then he would rather spend his entire life on stage 2 and 3 worlds than be forced to use his skills on an Imperial world. There would come a time when the Imperium itself would become the operating ground for agents like himself but he was glad that it was not due for quite some time into the future. He, at least, would not live to see it.
His footsteps echoed hollowly on the tiled floor as he approached the central desk, gently easing the gloves off his hands as he did so.
"Can I help you?" Asked the female receptionist in a tone of voice which seemed to say that she was more interested in getting rid of him than helping him. But then, receptionists manning the front desk of the main office of the special police branch were not trained in helpfulness.
Galen made a show of clearing his throat while at the same time slipping his gloves into his pockets. When he removed his hands he held a small metal square hidden in the palm of his hand.
"Ah yes, I'm looking for the department of fisheries. Am I in the right place?"
The receptionist looked somewhat put out. "I'm sorry, sir. You're in the wrong place, and I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Pity." Said Galen. He depressed a small panel on the metal square.
"Sir, I'm going to have to..." Both receptionists froze, motionless.
"Of course you are." He murmured. There were three elevators behind the desk area, their doors controlled by switches on the receptionists panels. He reached forward and gently depressed one of the buttons, causing an elevator door to slide open seductively. Galen patted the receptionists on their shoulders, walked across the floor and stepped in.
The elevator was fairly spacious with room to take seven or eight people. The walls were back to grey again, apparently the architect had slipped back to the familiar for the elevator design. The doors slid slowly shut with a swish.
"Level twelve."
The door slid open and Galen stepped out onto level twelve. There was an additional security desk at this level, manned by a rather dour looking individual with the standard set of facial hair.
"Can I see your identity pass, sir."
"In a minute." Remarked Galen, taking another device out of his pocket. It was the shape of a triangular based pyramid but had recessed in the base allowing it to easily fit into the palm of his hand.
"I wonder if you can direct me to the toilets?"
"Can I see your identity pass please, sir." Galen wondered what his reaction would have been if he had walked in and said that he was a terrorist. He would probably have asked to see my identity pass.
"Ah, here it is." Galen said, cryptically. He pointed the triangular object at the man and depressed the large triangular button on its top. There was a flash of light and the man slumped back in his chair, stunned. Galen reached over the console and checked the security readout. It showed nothing out of the ordinary. Good.
He ran his finger along the descriptions of the individual switches until he located the one he wanted and depressed it, releasing one of the external firedoors. He pressed several more switches and the red flashing light which had appeared on the display disappeared.
He checked to his left and right, still no activity. This level seemed to be almost deserted, or perhaps it was simply that the conscientious workers were already slaving away at their desks. He consulted the floor schematic which someone had thoughtfully placed on the wall and set off towards what the map informed him was the east wing. The building did not seem to have a west wing although perhaps it was merely not shown. He was hardly concerned with it.
His footsteps echoed around the corridor, his quickened pace translating to a quick succession of taps, merging into each other. He passed doors bearing plaques describing their function but he ignored them. The doors were shut, anyway. He doubted that many were locked but he was sure that opening them and looking in would attract undue attention. He had once been taught that the key to an infiltration was not so much having the necessary papers as looking like you had a right to be there. That was the air he adopted now.
The corridor ended in a bright red door marked clearly with the words "Fire Exit - Alarmed." He tutted for a moment and pulled the door towards him. Unsurprisingly the door was unlocked, equally unsurprisingly the promised alarms were not in evidence.
He turned towards the corridor and waited, eyes panning the length of it for the slightest indication that something might be amiss.
He felt the barest indication of a slight breeze on the back of his neck, the freezing cold air from outside reacting unfavourably with his sensory neurones.
"You're late." He remarked, without turning round.
"Traffic." Replied the woman who had just entered, her face covered by a hood. Nevertheless he could just make out an outline and noticed with some amusement that she was now sporting a beard almost as impressive as his. She had her right hand free but in her left she was carrying a medium sized briefcase, it was metallic and looked fairly heavy. An uninformed observer might be surprised to see the ease with which she was carrying it, but then again an uninformed observer would never have heard of gravitic dampers and inertial compensators.
The woman pushed the door shut with a click and placed the briefcase on the floor. Lifting both hands to her face she, in one motion, threw back her hood and wiped her face clean of several ice crystals which had taken up residence there. Her face was pink from the cold and her eyes burned with a kind of angered vitality.
"It's cold out there, Galen." She observed.
"You should see what it's like at the poles, Saren." He remarked cordially. He swept his arm forward in a wonderfully elaborate motion. "Shall we?" He asked.
He received a grin in return. "I still don't see why I couldn't have come through the front door." She protested.
"Minimum exposure." Galen countered as they quickly walked back along the corridor. "You know the drill."
She coughed slightly and Galen realised that he had almost walked straight past the room he wanted without looking. He chastised himself and nodded to her as she extracted another of the triangular objects from her pocket and held it in her free hand. He nodded again.

They slammed the door open, stepping inside simultaneously. There were three technicians inside, making some sort of adjustment to the control consoles and computer banks that lined the room. Quite what adjustments were necessary was beyond Galen but he supposed that these people had to earn their keep by looking like they were busy.
Galen took two of them, felling them with two sharp flashes of light. Saren took the other. All three toppled over and lay sprawled on the floor. The lights on the computer consoles twinkled happily.
"They'll remember nothing?" Asked Galen, more to be reassured then out of a lack of knowledge.
"Nothing of the last three minutes." Affirmed Saren. "And they'll be out for a little under an hour."
"That gives us time." Replied Galen. He looked around the room until he located a computer access port. He pointed at it. "Set up there."
"Right." She placed the briefcase on a convenient surface and depressed her thumb on exactly the right portion which would cause it to open as opposed to exploding and taking the entire building with it. The briefcase sprung open, she lifted the lid and busied herself amongst the insides.
The case contained a number of strange objects. One was an exact duplicate of the triangular stun weapons they had been using earlier, another was composed of three rectangles of metal joined by hinges. The left-hand side of the case held a square object composed of a soft but strong material with a small holoscreen projector. She gently removed it from the case and plugged it into the computer console using a cable that seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
The holoscreen sprung to life, displaying changing images as it negotiated a protocol and gained access to the system.
She used the control panel to scroll down the list of available files until she located the one she wanted.
A "FILE ENCRYPTED" message appeared.
"Can you crack it?" Asked Galen, his voice emotionless.
"Of course, Galen."
"How long?"
She shrugged. "We've only got limited computing power available but it's only a 2048 bit prime-based encryption method. I'd say that we have between two and four minutes to wait.
Two minutes, forty five seconds later a chime from the computer informed her that she had gained access to the file.
"Amend." She ordered.
COMPLETE. She quickly disconnected the console, pulling roughly at the cables and stuffing them into the briefcase. She sealed it with a decisive snap.
"Let's go." Suggested Galen. "We don't have much time until those stuns wear off."
They hurried out of the room, closing the door firmly behind them and taking the extra precaution of fusing the lock. Seconds later they were both in the elevator.
"Level ten." Said Saren, beating Galen to the mark.
"Now for stage two." He murmured thoughtfully.
The doors slid open at level 10 and the two operatives stepped out. Level 10 was lushly furnished, walls painted in attractive tones and lined with leather furniture. The seemingly ubiquitous security desk faced the elevator and bored looking security guard occupied it. This level was the most active that Galen had seen, with people walking purposely down the corridors. They approached the security desk.
"Two to see the superintendent." Said Galen purposefully, placing his hands on the desk firmly.
The security guard looked up and presented a palm pad. "Hand, please." Galen placed his hand on the pad, it felt cold to his touch and there was a slight tingling in his fingers. Several seconds later the pad beeped happily.
"He'll be expecting you." Remarked the guard. "Its straight down the corridor, turn right and it's the second door on your left."
"Thank you." Galen tapped Saren on the shoulder and they moved off, breathing a sigh of relief as they did so.
"I'm never totally sure it's going to work until I've seen the results." Galen said.
"It's touching." Replied Saren. She received a puzzled glance in return as they continued down the corridor. "The amount of confidence you place in my abilities." She clarified.
"Ah, yes." They came to the first right turn, a smaller corridor leading off from the main one. It was quite short, containing only a few widely spaced doors. Galen supposed that this was because the offices were considerably larger here, representing as they did the work places of the most powerful people in the building.
They approached the second door with a confident spring in their steps. The door was a standard affair, although a close inspection revealed that it was constructed of a slightly sturdier wood than those they had passed up to this point. Galen was willing to bet that there was also an inlaid bullet-proof layer. A brass nameplate confirmed that this was indeed the office of Superintendent Vossler of the special police branch in precisely spaced letters and also, somewhat unnecessarily, announced the room number. To the right and left the seemingly mandatory "No smoking" signs adorned the wall and just below them there was a small LCD screen currently bearing a message inviting him to announce himself.
Galen cleared his throat and announced himself to the small computer. It checked his voice pattern against that held on file and, finding (unsurprisingly) that they matched, sounded a chime inside the room. The door clicked unlocked and Galen pushed it open carefully.
The office was well furnished more to the extent that might be expected of a senior civil servant than a policeman. Several comfortable looking sofas occupied the centre of room, partly covering a giant seal embroidered into the carpet. It was the seal of the special police branch. Galen recognised several of the words, written in an ancient language that was to all intents and purposes dead. His historian background had readied him for the encountering of such blatantly illogical phenomena.
The far wall of the office consisted mainly of an enormous window set into it and reaching almost to the edges. It had no curtains or blinds and the sunshine of the day shone through it illuminating the attractively coloured carpet in shifting patterns of light. The sunshine could not banish the reality of the temperature however and Galen could still make out the grey and sullen sky above and the ice coated streets below.
The existence of such a window, which was almost designed to invite snipers, was at sharp odds with the rest of the care that seemed to have gone into securing the building from intruders or assassins. Like us. The impression was not entirely accurate as Galen realised when he caught the slight glint of a scanning laser beam and the grey tinge around the window's edges. He was not really interested but he guessed that the laser beams would detect any bullet and slam the steel blast doors shut before the projectile hit. Galen wondered if they would stop a high explosive round. He concluded that they probably would.
In front of the window a brown desk, of similar luxurious tendencies as the rest of the furniture, was firmly fixed to the floor and covered with papers of various descriptions. It appeared to have a LCD computer screen set into the surface but it was also obscured with papers. It was not the computer Galen was interested in, anyway.
The man who sat on the desk was middle aged. He had a pitted face with a long, flowing white beard. He certainly looked like a man who had seen his fair shares of disasters, and weathered them all - which he was. Any fleeting impression that this was a man past the prime of his life was shattered as soon as he raised his head and Galen saw his eyes. Like a hunter who has sighted his prey he found himself transfixed by the gaze which stared at him. The eyes were a dark blue and gave an emotionless impression of extreme control. Face to face after so many months of pursuit Galen allowed himself to savour the moment for a fraction of a second before turning his gaze to the rooms other occupants.
There were two humourless looking bodyguards standing along the wall, one in each corner. Their suits were well tailored but still they did not entirely conceal the bulge formed by their ultrasound guns.
"Yes." Vossler said suddenly.
Galen nodded to Saren. In a single flowing motion they both brought their stunners out of their pockets and there was a flash of light. When it subsided the two bodyguards were lying on the floor, unconscious.
"What the hell is going on here!" Shouted Vossler, reaching for the emergency button under his desk. Galen made an abrupt move with his weapon.
"Hands where I can see them, please."
Vossler defiantly placed his hands on the desk and raised himself to his very imposing height. "Why are you here?" He demanded.
Galen murmured something to Saren out of the corner of his mouth and she once again busied herself with the briefcase. "We are not here." Galen remarked amiably to Vossler.
Galen turned to look at Saren. She consulted a screen and nodded to him. "He's the one." Galen smiled and turned back to Vossler.
"Who are you?" Vossler asked, a slight tinge of fear creeping into his voice.
"I," replied Galen, taking aim, "am merely a figment of your imagination." He sighed.
Then he fired.

"Hurry, we don't have much time." Said Saren. She removed the object composed of three metal rectangles from the case and gently unfolded it. She touched a barely noticeable switch and several lights lit up, displaying shifting patterns. "The psionic resonator is ready." She reported.
Galen had completed his task of pulling Vossler down so that he was lying on the floor on his back. "Let's do it."
Saren walked swiftly across the room and fastened the resonator to Vossler's head, folding the metal squares slightly back so it fitted snugly. The tiny machine beeped to inform her that it was ready. "Locate tamper plateau."
"Scanning..." Replied the machine. Galen paced anxiously across the room, his feet echoing on the floor.
"It's taking too much time." He murmured to himself.
"No longer than last time." Replied Saren carefully, checking the charge on her stunner.
"Last time we weren't in the middle of a secured facility." Retorted Galen. He was clearly flustered by the waiting.
"Level three tamper indications detected." The resonator decided.
"Level three!" Exclaimed Galen. "We had no idea they had gone so far."
Saren ignored him. "Time to eradicate?" She asked.
"Seven minutes, thirty two seconds."
"Begin eradication procedure." She ordered, then turned to Galen. "You're panicking."
"Now that really is insulting. I just didn't expect to find that they had gone so far."
Saren grinned. "I'll let you in on a secret," she paused and moved up to him, whispering in his ear, "neither did I."
"Miracles will never cease." Galen paused and took another look out the window. A few sullen snowflakes were drifting lazily past the glass before alighting several minutes later with the ground, or hitting the window sill and quickly resuming their liquid form. "How long?"
Saren checked the timer. "Three minutes."
Both Saren and Galen jumped as a siren rent the air, a pulsing sound climbing in pitch before reaching a peak and subsiding. The siren sounded again, this time accompanied by a voice proclaiming some unintelligible warning to the occupants of the buildings.
"Either this is a fire drill..." Began Saren.
"Or they know we're here." Completed Galen. "How long is there left on the timer?"
"Don't you just love the way we finish each other's sentences? Two minutes thirty."
Galen murmured something to himself and shook his head angrily. "They'll narrow us to this room long before then."
He withdrew his stunner and checked the charge and then removed thirteen small metal squares from his pocket and proceeded to affix them around the door. He stuck twelve of them onto the door frame, their slight adhesive faces holding them in place. The thirteenth he kept for himself, it was different in configuration and bore three slight protrusions on its surface.
Galen walked over to the window and examined the street below. The general populace were going happily around their business, apparently unaware of the minor drama taking place above their heads. Galen pressed the first button on the metal square which he held in his hand and then pocketed it.
Molecular pitons shot out into the wood of the door frame and then shot out extensions at right angles. The squares were now firmly anchored in place. In the background the siren seemed to grow in urgency, although Galen knew it could only be his imagination. He clicked the door lock.
"How long, now?" He asked.
"One minute." Saren replied carefully, checking the charge on her own stunner. "We'll never make it out." She observed.
"You may be right, but we will accomplish our mission."
"I find that a great compensation." Said Saren sarcastically.
"You should." Replied Galen sharply. "Our deaths will be a minor setback. If we fail to accomplish our mission it could be disastrous. You know what is at stake."
"I'm sorry. It's just the stress." Saren relented.
Galen smiled slightly. "Just relax." He said.
The door jolted as someone on the other side pushed it sharply. The door lock prevented it opening and Galen could sense the puzzlement from behind the door. The door jolted again, more forcefully this time.
"I think they've found us." Said Saren, willing the machine to work faster.
"Hold on." Murmured Galen. He crouched down, one side to a wall and aimed his stunner at the door. He risked a quick glance over his shoulder, a panel on Vossler's desk was beeping in an irritating manner. He ignored it. Several seconds later the door exploded.
Obviously this description was not completely accurate, these people were hundreds of years from the level of technology necessary to make merely combustible substances explode so easily. It did however seem to Galen that the door exploded. A tongue of flame leapt into the room, scattering shards of the wood in all directions. Galen felt several splinters strike his body, piercing his skin and burrowing under the surface in bursts of searing pain. He blinked a tear away from the eye where it had involuntarily formed and activated his pain blocking mechanisms.
Galen waited, his eyes scanning the dust cloud that hovered where the door had been, looking for movement. Saren pulled a splinter out of her shoulder with a wince and continued to monitor the procedure.
"Fifteen seconds!" She shouted, coughing. Galen nodded without moving his eyes. He fingered the metal square in one hand carefully, his finger poised over the middle protrusion.
Galen's eyes caught a flicker of movement, a slight darkness against the grey. Three security guards, clad in black body armour, stepped inside in quick succession, brandishing their weapons. They swivelled as soon as they entered, bringing their rifles to bear.
Galen fired two shots in quick succession with a double flash of light. The stunner whined slightly as it recharged. A burst of compressed sound waves whistled past Galen's left ear from the third guard's sonic gun before Galen fired again and the guard fell in a third flash of light.
He took a deep breath and depressed the second protrusion on the metal square. A force field shimmered into existence around the door, forming an impenetrable barrier. Then he pressed the third button and slid the square across the carpet towards the door. It came to rest a few centimetres from the doorframe and automatically buried itself in the carpet fibres.
"Finished." Gasped Saren, hurriedly shovelling her equipment back into the case.
"Set the destruct mechanism." Galen ordered, removing a tiny extendable grappling hook and a reel of thread from one of his pockets. The rope was less than a millimetre thick and didn't look as though it was going to support anything substantial, Galen hoped that looks were deceiving.
Saren snapped the case close and stood up, dusting herself down. Galen froze suddenly and motioned for her to be silent. The quietened wail of the siren could be heard through the sound of settling dust and the whispers of hurried conferences being conducted on the other side of the wall. Despite this Galen could just feel the air vibrate. It seemed to oscillate, the cold air becoming heavy and heaving itself against his sensitive nerves. He cocked his head curiously.
"Get down." He screamed, reaching out with one hand and pulling Saren to the floor. They hit the carpet with a thump and a painful exhalation of breath.
The army helicopter descended the last few metres in a single second and opened fire with its 64mm cannons, shattering the glass. The bitter cold of the outside invaded the room and machine gun rounds raked through the far wall, pitting and slashing it. The helicopter kept up the barrage for several seconds and then disengaged, pulling away to a safe distance to survey its work.
Galen and Saren lay on the carpet covered by a fine layer of dust and shattered fragments of glass. "That would have hurt." Said Saren, her voice with a strange hint of laughter. "They don't seem very concerned about the welfare of their men."
Galen grunted in return and slid painfully across the floor on his stomach, trying not to pierce himself with some more glass. He winced and pulled a particularly viscous looking shard from the back of his neck. "They must have disabled the emergency blast doors." He said slowly, thinking aloud. He climbed up onto his knees and risked a quick glance out of the window. A small crowd had gathered on the street below but their enthusiasm for watching the scene seemed to be negated by the cold temperature and they were quickly dispersing. On this world, helicopters firing machine guns at buildings were clearly not exactly rare sights.
He spotted a small maintenance panel hidden on the wall and carefully plied it off, bruising several of his fingers as he did so. The inside was a mass of cables and printed circuit boards. Dextrously, he began to move the cables out of the way, looking for the one he wanted.
There was a flash of light and a sound like water being dropped onto a sheet of boiling metal as the first security guard hit the force field and was bowled back. A more conventional thump sound followed as the second guard crashed into the first. The two guards withdrew to wherever they had come from quickly. Galen ignored them.
"That helicopter will be back soon." Remarked Saren lightly, dusting herself off and rising to her feet "They'll finish us this time."
"I find your attitude to be most distressing, " said Galen, not looking at all distressed either by the events or her attitude, "but I am forced to concur." He pushed several more cables out of the way and started on another layer.
The air pulsed again and Galen threw himself to the floor again, followed quickly by Saren. Not quickly enough.
The first shells shot through empty space before impacting and burying themselves in the wall. Several of the next salvo sliced neatly through Saren's left leg as she fell to the floor once again. Vossler lay unconscious and unhurt on the floor. They really didn't seem to care very much for his safety.
The helicopter disengaged again and pulled away. Galen crawled carefully over the office floor until he reached Saren whose pain control was being taxed to the limit. He gingerly peeled back the remains of her thick trousers to discover a bloody mass of gore underneath which was already beginning to freeze. He prodded her leg experimentally; it moved in ways it shouldn't have.
"Galen," she gasped, "help me!"
"Can you walk?" He asked and rose to his feet. He extended an arm. Saren grasped it firmly and proceeded to haul herself up. She grimaced as she tried to move her leg but it was clear to Galen that she was going nowhere.
There was a slight groan from the floor as Vossler began to stir. Galen gave him a sharp kick to the head for his trouble. He must have regarded this as a bad sign for his chances because he quickly resumed an unconscious state.
Galen lowered Saren back down to the floor and took another peek out the window. It's not going to be long before they think of putting snipers in those buildings.
He loaded the grapple into a small slot that had just appeared below the firing aperture of his stunner and carefully aimed it out of the window then depressed the trigger. The grapple shot out across the street, ten stories high and buried itself in the exterior wall of the building opposite. He gave a sharp pull on the rope to ensure that it was secure.
The crowd on the street below seemed to be growing again and there were several security officers in attendance so Galen handled the wire carefully. He took the liberty of stunning the officers with one hand while he was attaching the wire to a handhold shaped piece of plastic he had withdrawn from one of his other pockets. They crumpled into a disorganised heap of bodies on the icy road.
"Galen?" It was Saren.
"Yes." He murmured quietly, testing the tension on the rope.
"I'll never make that." She said quietly.
"I know."
The stunner had a second setting. Galen used it.

I've really no comment to make about this one, so I hope you weren't expecting something amazingly significant here at the bottom. This is an extract from the first of four sections of Infinity2 entitled "Patterns of Light and Dark". I'm still working on the story and as I write this I'm about half way through, its currently about 135,000 words.

Oliver Pell