by Alex Fauth

Life: Loathe it or ignore it; you just can't like it.
- Marvin the Paranoid Android, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Sandra sat in the bar, eyeing the man sitting opposite her in the booth. He was not a lovable specimen; short, overweight, sweaty, balding and with a thick beard that seemed to function only as a way of catching bits of food. All in all, he was totally ill-suited to the environment and the expensive suit he was wearing. The look wasn't helped any by the huge man in the suit with the sunglasses crammed between him and the wall. Clearly a corporate minder, his normally impassive face hinted that he was as thrilled to be here as Sandra was.

"So describe this 'item' to me. If I'm going to get it back, I'll need to know what it looks like," She said, staring down at the man. He did seem to be slightly intimidated by the combination of her dark glare and the scarred face it was coming from. Hopefully this could get her the deal she wanted.

"It's in an Italian black leather suitcase. Very nice one... It's got gold edging, a nice pattern on the skin, gold clips. You should get one-" He rambled, but was cut off by Sandra.

"I meant the item, you twerp." She snapped. "Not the damn case its in"

"It'll be in the case." He replied. "Trust me on this."

"And if it isn't, how will I know what to look for" She replied.

"Err..." He paused and looked at the minder. The minder shrugged. "You'll know it. Regardless of where you are, the 'item' will be easily recognizable. It stands out like-"

"A fat executive in an expensive suit in a run down Zero Zone bar?" Sandra replied.

The fat man looked around the room. He had the horrible feeling that all the low-lifes in the place were eyeing him and sizing him up. Some of them could want to kill him. Some might even want to kill and eat him. "Something like that"

"Right. I get the picture" She replied. "Name the fee." He did. Sandra whistled. "Good enough for me."

"Not so loud!" He hissed in a way that must have had everyone looking at him.

"So what do you have on the people who took your... uh... item?" She said, seemingly unable to believe that she was taking this job.

"Um... not much. The Item was taken from one of our pick-up points, a small institution just out side the Zero Zone by the name of" he paused and adjusted his tie, seemingly unwilling to make eye contact with her. "The name of 'The Android's Dungeon'." He spat out. He looked up at her. "It was just this morning. There was a bit of shooting, a bit of violence, a few people were hurt. I'm sure you'll be able to find out something"

"I see... And I suppose there's no witnesses, no clues or anything like that?" She sighed. Inwardly she was kicking herself for taking what seemed to be a terminally stupid job with no chance of finding this enigmatic 'item'.


"Right. I'll manage" She said as she got up.

"And don't forget to contact me when you get the item"

"Yes mum" she muttered under her breath.

If you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough
- USAF A-10 pilot, circa 1991.

After ensuring that she wasn't followed (More out of embarrassment than anything else. She didn't want to be seen with that guy trying to follow her) Sandra had gone back to the same bar and hidden away in the ultra grungy corner that contained the public phones. A few calls had put her through to a good pal of hers, Alan Davis. Davis was a perfectly nice guy as Neo York cops go. He also took "gifts" to the "retirement fund" from anyone who needed anything from him. And Sandra, as an ex-cop, got a discount rate.

"Hey yo" He began in his usual, seemingly drunk manner. "Davis's desk"

"Hey." She replied.

"Sandra. Long time no donations. What can I do you for?"

"Very funny." She replied sarcastically. "I need a little info on an armed robbery from this morning. Took place at a place called 'Android Dungeon' or something like that."

"Uhhuh.... Just a minute" Davis hummed loudly as he pretended to use his computer. He already had the info she needed, it just gave her the illusion he was actually doing something. "I got it"


"Not much." He sighed. "The perps were a pair of large Caucasian males. One bleached blond, one dark haired, both with beards. They both used 9mm SMGs, but were wielding them in a more 'don't come near us' way. No actual shootings, just some severe beatings. And they departed, heading to the Zero Zone in a lime green '21 Wombat sports."

"Lime green Wombat Sports? Pretty distinctive car" Sandra whistled. "Did anyone get the rego?"

"Yeah... Neo York plates, reged ORK-40K."

"So do we have the owner?" Sandra replied, getting the feeling that she wouldn't like the answer.

"Yeah... but it's probably not him. He's Hans Molman, aged 61. And he reported it stolen last night"

"So I'm searching the Zero Zone for an outrageously distinctive car?" She said, cynicism evident. "And the guilty parties are a pair of bearded boofheads with SMGs who busted up a nightclub-"


"Yeah... Android's Dungeon sounds like a fetish club if you ask me" She said.

"Nope. Get this... It's a comic shop"

Blue blue rain in my soul
- 20th Century Song Lyric

Discreetly asking around had produced very little information. A lime Green '21 Wombat Sports is a distinctive car, but there's lots of cars in the Zero Zone. Many of them are painted a variety of psychedelic colours by various self styled "artists" who use anything as a canvas. Some people even paid for their cars to receive this treatment. The Wombat itself would have stood out no matter the colour. It won an award for being the most grotesquely ugly car of the 2020s.

So, she figured, there's about a bajillion to one chance that I spot a grotesquely ugly car in a rather offensive colour. And it's the best lead I've got. Poopie.

Casually cruising around the Zone hadn't gotten her anywhere. It had burned fuel and wasted time, and worn down her already short temper to breaking point.

"This is futile" she sighed to herself as she passed another anonymous street corner. "By this point, everything begins to look the same. "I give up. Maybe tomorrow I'll have more luck." She paused. "Yeah, right"

She drove home. As staggered towards the front door of the run down block of apartments she had a room in. "All in all, this day has been a total waste of time." At which point, someone rammed into her with speed, knocking herself down. Sandra cursed herself for being caught by surprise. She was supposed to be a Street Sam, but she'd ended up being bowled down by... she got to her feet... a pair of kids. Carrying a car door. A lime green car door. With "Wombat Sports" in flashy chrome on one side.

Sandra leapt to her her feet and grabbed one of the two kids before he could recover, the other one already taking off down the street. "Where the hell did you get that?" She shouted as she hauled the kid up to face height for her (and left his feet dangling in the air).

"Its... it's a um.. err.." He gulped. "I got it from a car parked outside the block down the street ok?"

"Was the whole car this colour?" She snarled. "It's important!"

"Yes!" He replied, shrilly.

"And was it, by chance, quite quite phenomenally ugly as cars go?"

"Yes!" He replied, higher than before.

"Thanks" she replied, and dropped him on his butt. "Now scram. And don't tell anyone about this"

"'kay" the kid stammered out as he picked himself up and turned to leave.

"Hey kid!" Sandra shouted. He turned around nervously. "You forgot your door"

Licking his lips and wriggling his hips, just like a date
- 20th Century Song lyric.

Sandra armed herself. Uzi II on one side, Hoshoku Zeta on the other. Smartgun link ready. Armoured coat on. Cyberspurs ready. Attitude set to pissed off. She set off down the street.

At the other end of the block, she came across the unlovable sight of a stripped-down Lime Green '21 Wombat Sports. It was in front of another faceless, generic, seedy apartment block. "Well, if this ain't the place, I give up" she muttered to herself. "Now... for a bit of quick recon..."

She took advantage of a rarity in modern buildings that this one still had - an external fire escape. While rusted beyond belief and probably likely to collapse if the building's inhabitants had all rushed down it in an emergency, it still was functional enough to suit her needs. She quietly clambered up the escape, discretely checking in windows as she went. No joy for most of the way up. Just a few typical domestic situations for the most part. Poor people, pointless lives. Noting of interest. Of course, the last one she checked was the one she was after. It always is.

The apartment itself was a typical drab, run down affair. Much like her own, actually. The most arresting feature was the two huge men inside it. One of them, who looked for all the world like he injected horse steroids up his date for fun, was pacing back and forth, alternatively eyeing the telephone and the black leather suitcase on the table. The second man, who honestly looked like someone had hit him in the face with a shovel, was sitting back on the couch, slowly sipping a beer and watching the suitcase as well, as if it was about to leap away or something.

"Now what..." She thought to herself. A blatant grenade attack was out of the question, it'd probably destroy the dreaded item as well. She took another glimpse. Big guy had a gun, and shovel face might as well. "Damn"

She crouched down for a second to contemplate a plan. "Ah stuff it" She swore to herself. "At this point, I just want to end this as quickly as possible."

She leapt up, and grabbed the top of the window frame. She swung herself forwards, smashing her feet against the frame of the window. Shards of glass embedded themselves in her flack pants, more an annoyance and a pest to clean than any serious problem. Sandra leapt in, her cybered reflexes allowing her to land nimbly on her feet. The two men swung towards her, both drawing pistols.

"Too slow!" She shouted out as she pulled out her Uzi. Neither of them was particularly fast, and with her Cybered reflexes, they were practically standing still next to Sandra. A quick burst of fire from the Uzi knocked down Big Guy. Shovel face managed to squeeze off a snap shot from his pistol at her. While the round missed her, it did throw her off her aim long enough for him to get out of her line of fire. She fired after him, the bullets tracing holes in the wall and destroying the small TV that had been leaning on it. Sandra cursed and gritted her teeth as several more rounds chewed up the couch, flushing him out of hiding. He managed, somehow to evade another few shots as he jumped into the next room.

"Dangit" She swore to herself as the Uzi chewed up a little more wall. This guy was meaner than he looked. Maybe a cheap booster job, even. He certainly looked ugly enough to be the result of a botched cyber-doc job.

Of course, ducking into the next room had put him at a disadvantage. It meant that he was in a different room to the suitcase she had come for. Sandra slowly backed away, keeping her eye on the doorway. She Grabbed the suitcase off the table and backed off more, stepping over Big Guy's carcass and heading to the door out to the hallway. Gingerly opening it with her back turned, she stepped out into the hallway. Closing the door, she muttered to herself. "Another day in the life of..." She was cut off as the door exploded out.

Shovel Face smashed through it, wielding a crowbar with malicious intent. Sandra ducked a wild swing from it that left the improvised weapon embedded in the wall. He wrenched it free, and made another wild swing at her. Sandra ducked, and responded with a wild swing into his face with the suitcase. The hit took him back a bit, giving her the opportunity to pop out the cyberazors on her left arm. The razors gouged chunks of flesh out of the mans chest, sending him reeling. He collapsed to the floor, screaming in pain.

"Sorry buddy, but you loose"

We came to give you this message: The Quintessons lied
Papa Smurf, The World's Worst Fanfic Cliches

Sandra flopped down on her bed in her tiny apartment. The rest of the night had been remarkably civil. She'd met the suit again in the same place. He'd looked just as uncomfortable as before and his minder looked just as thrilled to be there as before. The handover had been remarkably quick and civil, with a large amount of cash being transferred to her account in return with no questions asked. Both the suit and minder had then left, hopefully never to be seen again.

What Sandra hadn't told him was that she'd taken a look at the contents of the suitcase. Her curiosity had been roused by this whole incident. She'd been surprised to find what it was; a comic book, by the unlikely name of Action Comics. It had some guy in a red and blue suit lifting a car over his head. Which wouldn't be a too unusual sight today, she thought. Save for the costume he was wearing.

Sandra sat back on the bed, and flicked on the TV in the hope that something good was on. "Hmmm.... Smash TV." She commented dryly. "Hawk Hunter and Steve Brickman team up to take on the Nazi Killer Sex Death Hate. Thrilling" She flicked it off and collapsed onto her bed. "Oh yeah. Life is beautiful"

Authour's note: I have no idea what 2021 Wombat Sports looks like. Feel free to draw one and e-mail it to me.

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