The citizens of the once-proud city known as Thanaldar had become accustomed to many strange sights since the city’s founders began the two-century-long building process that led to its completion. However, even the abrupt return of crime and war to a planet that had been a scientific utopia for much of its long history had not left the natives jaded. Thus, it was even stranger that the teaming masses paid little attention to the bizarre aerial pursuit that blazed across the skies above the city.
Inhuman figures hunted down a darting humanoid who rode astride a large flying insect. “Get him! He has led us on this chase for nearly a dal now!” growled a hulking brute in a guttural tone.
His companion nodded in sympathy and said, “I do not wish to face Commander Ved if we lose the fugitive!”
As the bestial figures swooped around soaring spires, failing again and again to catch the smaller being and his weird steed, other more avian hunters with odd red and white hoods over their heads joined the hunt and sent telepathic directions to one another as they closed in on the little man. He did not show any emotion on his narrow features as he halted abruptly.
A red beam blazed from the eyes of one of the hooded hunters, and the dragonfly erupted into flames. As the small rider plummeted downward, a huge hand closed around his body and crushed him into metal shards.
“The rider was naught but an android, as we suspected,” growled the captor. “But why did you slay Nair?”
The nearest hooded figure screeched out a curse as he drifted nearer to the others. “I did not kill him. He was never alive! As the rider was a automaton, so was the dragonfly. Both were mere machines. We were duped! I thought he was posing as one or the other. Curse us for fools — Lahr Nair has escaped us!”
Indeed, during the dramatic chase over the city, none of the troops had noticed one tiny shuttle slip into orbit from a hiding place in the desolate rocky landscape known as Tumblestone Plain.
However, had the now-angry-and-frightened soldiers been able to peer within the walls of the highest tower, where the residence of the planet’s current dictator was located, they might possibly have been astonished to see a sultry female draw back her bright purple lips in a smile of wicked pleasure as she surveyed the scene.