A dark alley

The alley lay dark and quiet in the New Yorker night. Captain Future stealthily made his way to the next door frame.

A stray cat was the only other thing moving. The young Earthman ignored it and kept is concentration steady on a stream of light twenty meter in front of him.

The information Planet Patrol had given was unhelpful. He had been told that the security of the whole Solar System rode on the capture of one Paul Anderson. The commander of Planet Patrol, Halk Anders, had told the Futurecrew where they could find Paul Anderson, hadn't provided any reason why Planet Patrol needed Captain Future to capture a petty thief.

The crook was currently robbing an aparment in one of the poorer suburbs of New York.

Only the apparent panic of the Solar System's president had kept the charming young Defender of Law and Justice from uncharmingly questioning Halk Anders' fitness to be commander of Planet Patrol and to return to his aborted experiments on Moonbase.

Now, less than an hour after his arrival at the New York space port, Captain Future found himself skulking in this alley.

He knew Otho was coming in from the other end of the alley. A few minutes ago Captain Future had seen Otho's lithe form running stealthily from one house entrance to another.

For a moment the Captain's red hair gleamed in the moonlight as he took another look around. Except for the cat which had begun to wash itself, nothing moved in the narrow, darkened alley. Paul Anderson wouldn't be able to escape Otho and the Captain in the narrowness. The Captain waited in silence, keeping his attention on the door behind which their target probably was.

A shadow disrupted the ray of light coming out from underneath the door. Looked like Paul Anderson was through with this house.

Captain Future focused on the door, ready to spring into action at any moment.

The light went out, soundlessly the door opened. The dark form of a small, pudgy man carrying a large and heavy sack appeared.

The Captain sprang from the entrance he had used as a hide-out.

Almost instantly he was thrown back against the door frame.

He heard a metallic whistling and then several thuds as several objects impacted the place he had been just a moment ago.

Whoever had saved him was smaller than him and pressed himself against the Captain seeking to hide further in their little shelter as dust, mortar and bullets flew around them.

Paul Anderson ran by them, wheezing heavily. A few moments later the tell-tale hum of one of the ever present hover cars could be heard. The attack on them stopped suddenly.

The Captain's saviour ran to the mouth of the alley and looked after the retreating car. The person's shoulders slumped in defeat, like the Captain coming to the conclusion that pursuit was impossible.

Maybe Otho had had some luck.

An aggressive cough had the Captain turning towards the other person with him. The best scientist in the Solar System faced a young woman who angrily glared at him.

"Who the heck are you? And what are you doing here? Do you have any idea what you just did? -- Why does every random guy think he needs to play the big hero and catch burglars on his own instead of contacting the professionals!"

The Captain was unable to interrupt the tirade he was subjected to.

Suddenly she broke off mid-sentence, look with disbelieve and horror at something behind him.

The Captain turned around and saw Otho approaching. The form of the synthetic man glowed white in the moonlight, his green eyes drilling mistrustfully into the person next to the Captain.

Detecting no imminent threat he turned to the handsome Defender of the Universe: "I'm sorry, Captain. Whoever shot at you, got away."

"Captain?"

Brown eyes looked questioningly into grey.

Captain Future smiled his most winning smile and said: "Please, let me introduce myself. I'm called Captain Future, Miss."

The eyes of the girl grew big with surprise and a blush appeared on her pretty face.

"Captain Future?"

She took a step back, "I didn't know ... I thought ...," she stuttered nervously. She took a short glance at Otho and seemed to be numb with shock. But then she shook herself and looked at him seriously.

"I take it you were after Paul Anderson, too?"

"Yes, Planet Patrol send us, but gave us no information on what's going on. Halk Anders only gave us description and location of the guy."

The young woman sighed.

"There's nothing we can do here. I suggest we return to headquarters. It's easier to brief you their. - Please excuse me. I have to report in and maybe the traffic department can help us to find our friend."

The girl moved away and presumably called her superiors.

Otho came to stand next to the Captain and said quietly: "So, the slip of a girl works for Planet Patrol. Wonder what department she's in. She doesn't look like she could keep up with Ezra."

We were lucky she was here. It was rather careless of us to leave the roofs unchecked."

"Anders only told us about own man. We couldn't know that he'd have someone with him."

Both look towards the Captain's saviour. She had just raised her voice.

"What do you mean: 'You need the authorization of your superior to get the surveillance tapes'? Do you have any idea what we are dealing with? ... Good grief, forget about the whole thing. I can do it without you."

The police girl came, muttering about incompetent idiots. The Captain could see how angry she was.

"We can't expect any help from the traffic department. They can't even turn a sheet of paper without exact guidelines in their manuals and a superior holding their hands."

Otho was laughing quitely.

"We are here with our Cosmoliner. If you want, we can take you back to headquarters. The Cosmoliner's intended to two people, but I think we could manage for a short trip."

The dark haired girl thought about the offer for a short moment, but then declined unhappily.

"I have to go back the way I came. Go on without me, we'll meet back at headquarters."

As she sprinted out of the alley and away, Captain Future and Otho turned to fetch the Cosmoliner.

On the way to Planet Patrol's headquarters the Captain noticed that he didn't even know the name of his saviour.