Tyler Fuse and his two brothers, Myles and Kane, listened intently to the high tech police scanner mounted to the dashboard of Tyler's van.

"Suspect located in an alley off  the 300 block of Harbor Street in Downtown; two units responding, requesting backup."

Tyler smiled to his two brothers and took the next exit off the ten lane skyway into downtown. Kane, sitting next to him, loaded his sawed off shotgun and grinned back.

"That's right near the old fair grounds on the boardwalk." called Myles from the backseat.

"I know where it is." Tyler answered.

The three brothers had their heads shaved, Celtic warrior tattoos covering their muscular arms, faces and chests underneath tactical combat vests that hung with tools of their trade. They were the Fuse Brothers. They were bounty hunters, and this was their payday.

*   *   *   *   *

As the first police officer moved past the garbage dumpster where Aaron crouched, handgun leading the way, Aaron lashed out with his makeshift club. The pipe cracked across the officer's gun hand, crushing the many small bones in his hand. A second swing took the man heavily in the chest, snapping ribs and sending the man backwards into the alley wall behind him.

The second cop opened fire on Aaron, the crack of his pistol deafening in the tight confines of the alley. The second shot hit Aaron in the shoulder, spinning him. Making use of the momentum he let the pipe lead the way into the cop's jaw, nearly tearing it free. The cop went down in a heap and lay motionless. Aaron hadn't intended to kill these men, he also hadn't intended to get himself shot. Careless. And as more running footsteps approached, he looked at the other injured officer at his feet who was crawling feebly towards his gun. Aaron ran.

It was an exhilarating feeling to say the least, to run that fast. Bullets snapped past his head for the first few seconds but then he was away, around the next bend in the narrow passage between buildings. He burst out of the alley and into the street and was stunned for a moment in his near delirious state. Looming in front of him was a huge Farris Wheel, with the ocean beyond. Recognition dawned on him, he had rode that Farris Wheel as a boy though now it lay in disarray with broken spokes and a grim shadow hanging over it. He crossed the street quickly and climbed the chain link fence to drop inside the abandoned fair ground. As his feet touched down to the wooden planks of the boardwalk a dizzying wave of exhaustion rolled over him and his injured shoulder began to ache, Aaron could feel his heartbeat in his shoulder and the slick wetness that ran down his arm. That was it, the stimpak had done its thing. It was a little disappointing.

His breath coming in ragged gasps, Aaron stumbled into the amusement park, police sirens closing in. He headed towards a concession stand and at the last moment thought better of it, hopping over the low wall around the bumper car rink and hunkering down with his back against the wall. Aaron looked around erratically at the shadowed and motionless bumper cars as he peeled the layers of clothing off his shoulder, first the filthy hoodie and his windbreaker and t-shirt beneath it. He took the second item from his pocket. It was a small packet, the size of  a wet-nap that some of the more old style resturants would give you with a plate of ribs. Tearing the cellulose packaging, Aaron unfolded the medi-strip and applied it to his gunshot wound. It would help with the wound and rejuvenate his body from the punishing effects of the stimpak. The self-adhesive coating on the strip adhered to his wound and the intoxicating cocktail of medicinal chemicals flooding him sent him spinning in dizzyness yet again.

He was brought to by the sound of the slide on a pump action sawed off shotgun being worked and the barrel of the weapon being pressed against his head from over the low wall.

"Gotcha." Kane Fuse grinned. "Guys! He's over here!" He shouted to his two brothers and didn't notice the dark shape of the Patchwork coming out of the concession stand behind him, impossibly fast.

The hunting knife sunk into Kane's back, drinking deeply of his blood. The Patchwork twisted the knife as Tyler and Myles screamed in rage and leveled their firearms and unleashed a spray of fire and hot lead. Myles' submachine gun peppered the area with 9mm rounds, several of the bullets hitting the Patchwork and even his own brother's body. Tyler's magnum boomed and the heavy bullet smashed into the inhuman killer and knocked it back. Releasing the knife, the Patchwork drew its machine pistol and returned fire, pinpoint accuracy delivering half a dozen hits to Myles' chest and stomach while Tyler dove behind cover. Tyler looked to his second fallen brother; Myles was not dead, but it wouldn't be wrong as the young man writhed on the ground, his life blood seeping from some many holes.

The police entered the fair ground from behind the Patchwork and unwittingly opened fire on the target. A shotgun blast took the Patchwork in the back. Something like a sigh of frustration passed through the Patchwork's lips as it resigned that the situation was out of hand. Retrieving the knife from the corpse of its first victim it retreated back into the fair grounds. It would have to reacquire its target.

In the ensuing chaos, Aaron had crawled through the bumper car rink and now hid behind the carousel on the other side, letting the medi-strip work its magic on him. He needed to make sure Ella was safe, but he couldn't return home for fear of leading these men there. He didn't know what to do.

The End

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