Automan and all related character names therein are owned by the American Broadcasting Company and Twentieth Century Fox. All characters are fictional and resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. No copyright infringement is intended.

Automan: High Performance
By Sailor Chronos

Chapter 1

14 March 2003

A lone man dressed in jeans and a dark hooded jacket ducked into the shadowed alley between two shops. Somewhere in the distance a cat yowled and the sounds of a brief scuffle faded into the night. Standing against a brick wall, the man flicked on a cigarette lighter and held it up for a few seconds before extinguishing it.

In response to the signal, three other men emerged from the shadows and joined him. "You got the goods?" one asked, his face obscured by the hood of his red sweatshirt.

"Not until I hear the code and see the money," the dealer responded.

"We haven't got time for this!" protested one of the others.

The red-hooded man clouted him on the arm. "Shut up." He dug a wad of bills out of a pocket. "Here's your money. The code is 'Redwolf'. Now give me the stuff."

The dealer retrieved a small paper-wrapped package from his jacket and was about to hand it over when suddenly there was a screeching of tires and a pair of car headlights flooded the alley. A police cruiser barrelled to a stop and a female officer with shoulder-length chestnut hair pointed a gun out the window. "Freeze! You're under arrest!"

Separating into two pairs, the men fled. The officer got out of the car and pointed to the left, down a small lane. "Cut them off on the next street!" Her partner reversed out of the alley as she sprinted after the other two.

She chased them for a couple of blocks, her hair blowing in the wind, but when she rounded a corner, she saw them getting into a waiting car and speeding off. Right away she aimed her pistol and fired at one of its rear tires, but missed by a few inches. Quickly noting its make and license number, she activated her radio. "Officer Baines, Unit 9409, requesting backup; suspects in a green Honda last seen headed north on Avalon Boulevard." Next she pulled her cellphone out of a pocket and sent an SMS to her home computer.

CALLING AUTOMAN, AUTHORIZATION: CRIMEFIGHTER

Within seconds, the street lights flickered and the ground trembled slightly under her feet. A brilliantly glowing stellated polyhedron emerged from her phone and twittered. "Hi, Cursor!" she welcomed.

Cursor streaked a few feet away and spiralled down toward the ground; in that spot materialized a tall man with the proportions of a star athlete. His handsome face and short right-parted light brown hair looked human, but from the neck down he was clad in what appeared to be blue plated armour that shone with myriad twinkling stars.

"Hello, Lina," the construct greeted her with a resonant baritone voice. "What's the emergency?"

"Hello, Automan. We just broke up a drug deal. Two suspects are in a green Honda headed north; I'd appreciate a lift."

He smiled at her warmly. "Certainly. Cursor, the Autocar," he commanded. Cursor flew into the street and drew the lines of a sleek black Lamborghini with glowing blue piping, rendering the details repeatedly until the car solidified. Once he and Lina got in, the car accelerated to 50 miles per hour in no time flat.

"I'm not sure where they are by now," Lina confessed as they drove. "Let me check." She called into her radio, "Unit 9409, requesting pursuit status."

A gravelly male voice came over the channel. "This is Unit 6802 in pursuit of a green Honda; current location: Avalon at East 41st."

"We're as good as there," Automan pronounced.

True to his word, it took them hardly any time at all to pass the intersection. Ahead of them were two police cruisers with their lights flashing. "Let's go around and cut them off," she suggested.

At the next corner, without slowing or skidding, the Autocar made a 90 degree turn and continued on. Twice more it performed the maneuver, and stopped in the middle of the next cross street in front of the getaway car. The Honda's tires screeched as the car swerved around the apparition, and the driver mouthed curses as he wrestled the car straight again and zoomed off toward the east.

Instead of following, Automan turned back onto the boulevard.

"What are you doing?" Lina asked.

"Plotting their escape route," he responded, smiling knowingly.

"But how can you know which way they're going?"

"You forget that I can sense the microchip in their car." He turned a corner and stopped in another intersection.

The green car appeared, roaring up the street. There was a brief scuffle between the two occupants, and then the driver wrenched the steering wheel to the left. The car skidded as it barely made the turn, bouncing off the curb.

"Auto, let's not get them hurt!" Lina protested.

"Have a little faith, my dear," he said as once again the Autocar pursued. He glanced at her, his eyes twinkling.

She grinned. "You I have faith in. It's their driving that I don't trust." Quickly she checked street names on her phone's GPS function. "We should stop this soon. This street comes to a major intersection up ahead, and there could be an accident if those guys try to run through it."

Auto nodded. "No problem." He overtook their quarry and slid in front of them, blocking their attempts to pass and forcing them to slow down. Meanwhile the two police cruisers that had been left behind earlier were catching up. There was no place to go.

In a desperate move, the driver of the green car braked and attempted to make a U-turn, but his excessive speed caused the car to sideslip and collide with a light standard. Designed to break upon such an impact, the metal pole sheared off and fell into the street, shattering the light with a bang and a halo of sparks. Defeated, the driver stopped the car and pounded the steering wheel in frustration.

The Autocar stopped and Lina got out as the Honda was boxed in by the two police cruisers. "Thanks, Auto. I can take it from here."

"Glad to help, Lina. See you later." He waved to her, and she backed up a few steps as he drove away.

She turned and hurried to where the two occupants of the Honda were being arrested. "Did anybody here order two hot druggies to go?" she joked, but her humour faded when she got a good look at the passenger. He was wearing dark jeans and a grey sweater, with short scruffy black hair and an angular face that she recognized instantly.

He stared back at her with absolute hatred in his eyes.


"His name is Neil Christensen," she said tightly as her superior officer Lt. Baker examined the picture in the file folder she handed to him. "A few years ago we dated for a while, but it didn't work out. He used to be a good guy; I don't know why he's hanging with drug dealers now."

"Time and circumstance can change a person, Baines," Baker said. "Unfortunately we can't hold him because nothing was found on him and there were no outside witnesses to the deal. The best we can do is charge the driver with dangerous driving and property damage."

She grimaced angrily but didn't waste any energy arguing; the law was clear. "What about the guy that Coombs brought in?"

"That's a different story." He turned a page. "Kurt Wickstrom is wanted in two jurisdictions for smuggling stolen goods and various drug-related offences. He's not going anywhere, especially since a pack of high grade pharmaceuticals was found near the scene with his prints on it. His accomplice that escaped was Cody McClard, a freelance computer game developer turned corporate hacker."

"What does computer hacking have to do with drug dealing?" Lina asked. "That makes no sense."

"Beats me," said Baker with a tired sigh, running one hand through his curly grey hair. "Are you sure you're up to handling this one? Because it looks like you've got some personal involvement here."

Lina snorted. "There's nothing to worry about. I saw the look on Neil's face when he was arrested. He knows that I'll take no guff from him."

"Fair enough. Now what about this fancy car Hamilton told me that he saw you getting out of?" He leaned forward with narrowed eyes. "Is Agent Mann involved by any chance?"

Flushing slightly, she replied, "Yes, sir." Of course she couldn't mention that she had summoned him, so gave a plausible explanation. "He was monitoring the police radio channels and heard my call for backup, so he decided to assist. He didn't tell me why he was in the area, though."

"Well, next time you see him, ask him if he would kindly check in first. Federal agent or not, he still should go through channels."