Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

I look at the disc embedded in the tree by my head. I’ve just avoided the embarrassment of being beheaded by the greatest hits of the 1990s. The slotgun is an innovation that embodies the creed of the scrappers, using society’s discards to provide their needs. While I agree with the theory, the inevitably parasitic nature of the scrapper way is something they choose to ignore. If they achieve their goal of toppling the ‘military-industrial complex’, they will have no discards to live off.

Another near miss returns me to the situation at hand. Media discs with sharpened edges travelling at a couple of hundred kph are not something you should daydream around.

Lucy skids into my cover, pursued by a hail of crap music, redundant software and C-movies.

“The buggers have upped the rate again.”

I point at the tree. “Yup. The edging machines have been improved too.”

Clicking my handset to the speaker channel, my attempted call for reasonable behaviour emerges as feedback, crackle and hum. Our speaker shields have been shredded.

“Damn fools. They seem determined to force our hand. Do they really want to face armed response?”

I shake my head. “They haven’t thought that far. In America they’d be using and facing machine guns. Thanks to our firearms laws, they can get away with this idiocy.”

“So what do we do, boss? I have kin in there. Last thing I want is Special Patrol Group or Domestic Army blitzkrieging rioters and civvies alike.”

The ground shakes and Lucy looks about frantically, expecting to see the telltale smoke column of an improvised bomb.

“Easy, corporal. It’s just my cunning plan moving up.”

The building on the corner crumbles as a Metro Police blue chunk of Stillbrew armour over a wide segmented track crashes into view. The firing stops as everyone pauses to gasp at the four metre long barrel that traverses through the ruined first floor of the crumbling building. I see the demolition has scratched the paintwork, letting the urban camo show through. But the effect is not reduced. The scrappers were smugly chopping up our patrol cars and us. Now they’re looking down at the word ‘POLICE’ written in half-metre high lettering across the front armour of a long obsolete but still terrifying Chieftain tank.

I grin at Lucy. “Remember Sergeant Evans who retired last year? He collects militaria. Spent his end of service lump sum on that Mark Eleven. I’ve hired it for a week, paid for the Metro colour scheme and for putting it back to original state.”

Lucy shook her head. “Doesn’t matter if it’s out of service. It’s still a frackin’ tank. The scrappers have nothing that can keep it out or take it on.”

I nod. “Precisely. I think relations will improve now they realise we finally have the means to back the will to tear their house of cards down.”

“Clever wheeze, boss. How did you come up with it?”

I look over toward the gates as the sally port opens and the scrapper chiefs come out with a parley flag raised.

“Scrapper creed: ‘Use what others have abandoned’. Seemed appropriate.”


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