Surprise Attack! by David Scholes

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Sydney, Australia

"Target acquired moving on the lower walkway from the Opera House towards Circular Quay." "Height 5feet 1inch, weight 8 stone 4 lbs, estimated age 84."

The feral youth located the target for his more distant accomplice with the near invisible laspen. The readings came up inside both youth's sun glass readers.

The frail, elderly woman stood uncertainly, holding on to the guide rail of the slow travellator. It was sparsely populated. Just a few other elderly passengers and several small schoolboys racing around on it, trying to match the speed of nearby faster travellators.

"Perfect" said the tall, rangy youth, to his companion. His badly burned arms showed outside an old fashioned sleeveless metal jacket and even more burned shaven head. He should have stood out like a sore thumb. Yet no one seemed to pay him a second thought, any more than they did his quarry. "Too easy" he voiced to his companion in crime.

The vast bulk of people were on the higher level, faster travellators, immersed in the music of their skull implants. Cloaked against the harsh UV rays, and with the ubiquitous triple layer smog/flu masks, and ultra thick sun visors. Sophisticated body radars enabled most of them to avoid the otherwise inevitable collisions. Those relative few not using the music had their noise nullifiers on.

So when the feral youth leapt down onto the slow moving travellator, and savagely knocked his frail victim to the ground no one even noticed.

She went down hard, all 8 stone 4lbs of her, but managed a muffled cry for help as the feral grabbed her handbag preparing to "tele-shunt" it to his accomplice on the other side of Circular Quay.

He tugged to pull it away and met with surprising resistance. The dazed, bleeding, grey citizen was holding on for dear life. "C'mon" urged his accomplice, "it's only a fem grey, get on with it."

Just as the youth finally pulled the handbag away he saw four elderly citizens, each waving a cane in their hand, and coming up very fast.

Of course, fresh in from the Australian outback, neither the youth nor his partner, had heard of the relatively new GrannyBoost. For about 10 minutes, this could give any grey citizen back the speed and strength of their youth.

The feral just had time for a quick tele-shunt of the bag to his accomplice and they were upon him. Four energy prod canes hits in different parts of his anatomy at about the same time. He hit out in pain knocking one of the greys to the ground.

"Set them to full stun and let's drop this b____" yelled a most un ladylike voice.

Too late. Even before they could do this, the feral collapsed to the ground holding his groin in writhing pain. Then he froze, totally immobile trying to scream but unable to do so. Nearby an old face smiled gently. It was his original intended victim. With a few seconds to take some GrannyBoost she had found time to electro prod the youth in the genitals at the highest setting the law and the manufacturers would allow.

"What the h___" exclaimed the youth's accomplice as he sought to make his getaway with the stolen handbag. Four thin tired old arms held him with deceptive strength as the point of an old umbrella pierced his skin. The youth was not paralyzed, quite, but almost immediately he was moving at bout one fifth of his normal speed making him pretty easy to handle.

Another grey citizen, of this second group, was on the communicator "Grey Police, undercover unit OAP 85 calling in, we've just apprehended two more!"

As the second youth was escorted past his companion, a med unit very roughly bundled the companion's totally immobile body into the ambo. "Don't worry" smiled the para-med to the passersby "it will only hurt when he recovers."

The second youth wanted to ask when that might be, but his speech was too slow to convey this message. Sensing his dilemma, one of the undercover grey police responded.

"Oh in about a month!'