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May 17, 2012 / Daniel

Tangled

[696 words, rated PG]

“Dammit. Stetman. Come here, look at this.” Martin Crate struggled with his sleeve and cuff, tangled in a knot on the unreachable backside of his right forearm.

Yimmel Stetman strolled over curiously, examining the struggle with an amused and pompous eyebrow treatment. “Never happened to me.”

“Never happened to you because you never pop gear.”

“I never have to resort to that.”

“Because you never do your job.”

“Because I’m adorable, like a newborn baby. It disarms the savage intent.”

“You’re something like a baby. Now get your drooling heavy-pants cuteness over here and help me out.” Crate’s right forearm was a porcupine of protruding metal quills tangled up in a mass of sleeve cloth. Needle-like protrusions and hinged clamps and probes bristled from both arms; the tools from his left arm were pinching and pulling and pushing at the tangle around his right arm. Crate’s brow was equally tangled as he fussed and mucked with the situation. In his vision, the green glowing display generated by his B-Holder contact lenses overlayed his sight. He grunted and spat, while blinking through activation commands in the green menus, orchestrating a dozen of the needley tools and clamps in play in a concert of attempted resolve.

“But you seem to be doing so well without the help.”

Crate closed his eyes to clear the HUD menus, but he felt it looked like a defeated gesture. All the extended tools folded, retracted, and otherwise tucked themselves back into the external struts, the bones, of the silvery exoskeleton that is standard issue to all Urban Enforcement members. All except for the four or five devices that remained hopelessly entangled in his right sleeve.

Stetman grinned, blinked a few times. Tools and clamps exploded from the struts along his arms, and spidered over the tangled area on Crate’s sleeve, snipping bits of cloth furiously, shredding the problem. With a few more blinks, Stetman put away the devices, all folded and tucked seamlessly. “Solved for X.”

“Thanks.” The newly untangled tools slowly folded back away into Crate’s arm struts, clicking impotently into place. “You owe me a shirt.”

“No I don’t. That shirt was done as soon as you got it caught up in your gear, champ.”

Simultaneously, they stopped at stared at no particular objects. In their lens HUDs, an indicator lit up, putting them into active duty mode, and switching their menu systems from a green overlay to an amber set of menus. Text scrolled past them in a flood, and without speaking, they were both ready to move.

Crate threw off his one-sleeved shirt, leaving it in a heap, and grabbed a new one from his locker, which he didn’t bother to close. They both ran out of the station as he cinched his uniform.

Their exoskeleton suits powered into jog mode, and they were running at an inhuman pace to the intercept location. As they ran, their gear began to synchronize movements with each other, creepily matching pace and strides.

Several blocks away, at the boarder between the Caspaeia and Detoinia districts, a young mother was strolling with her infant in a push carriage. She stopped to bend down and check on the child when a whoosh of wind overtook her spot.

Crate and Stetman stood on either side of her. Scrolls of information flew by in their vision, crosshairs on both the mother and the child, both showing as “UNREGISTERED”.

Crate studied the surroundings for others in the area, street layout, weapons.

“You are unregistered. What is your district?” Stetman blinked at the woman.

“I am registered, we both are, with Detoinia.”

“You are in Caspaiea.”

“Oh my.” She said, looking around for street signs.

“Around this corner,” Stetman indicated the corner just behind her, “Westward two blocks. Or submit to process.”

“I’ll leave, we’ll leave, I’m so sorry!” She gathered herself and moved quickly to the directions he indicated.

Crate and Stetman monitored her movements until she was shown to have returned to Detoinia.

“Yeah,” Crate blinked through menus to file the report of the incident, “Savage intent disarmed.”

Both men’s HUDs returned to green. They powerjogged back to the station in that oddly synchronized run.

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