Kojak’s Story


I hate Mondays.

Here I am, lying amongst the remains of an ex-skyscraper and it’s ex-occupants. There is a man standing over me. He has a large, nasty-looking pistol pointed at my forehead. This man has probably been paid a lot of money to make me very dead.

Or I might have just pissed him off.

You never know, on Solaris.

This is why I hate Mondays.

And to think that the day started off so well.


When I woke up this morning, there was a woman in bed next to me. A beautiful, naked woman. That was generally a sign that the previous night had been a good one. I recalled that there was sex, and it was good, but not really much beyond that. Actually, I didn’t even know who she was. A fan, probably, or a groupie.

Or I might have picked up a waitress over at Thor’s Shieldhall.

You never know, on Solaris.

I slid out of bed, put some pants on. Walked into the bathroom and did the usual: took a pee, showered and shaved. That was what I really needed, a shower and a shave. And some fresh air. And a cigarette.

I have a pretty nice apartment. Deluxe studio with a balcony. My stable pays for it. They also rent me a big garage right across the street, where I keep my old Warhammer. I stepped out onto the balcony, lit a cigarette, and looked out over
Solaris City.

There are few words that would do justice to
Solaris City. There are less which could do it injustice. Solaris City is… an experience. Though not one I’d invite many people to know for themselves. Read about it. Catch the fights on the holovid broadcasts. Leave the rest to mystery and never worry about the fact that you missed it. Because in the end, Solaris City is just what one would expect. Only more so.

I took another drag from my cigarette, savoring the peppermint scent. Then I looked back over my shoulder, and I noticed two things. The first was that the woman I had slept with was gone.

The second was that my apartment was exploding.

This is why I hate Mondays.

The explosion hit me like a ton of bricks. So did the realization that someone was definitely trying to kill me.

Fortunately, my balcony is directly above a rather large, glass-roofed skybridge, which connects directly to the garage I was talking about. I flew off of my balcony, the force of the explosion throwing me hard. I figured I had fifty-fifty odds on surviving.

You never know, on Solaris.

I crashed through the skybridge’s glass roof and hit the floor hard. It hurt, but the pain told me that I wasn’t dead. Yet. I sat up and felt my ribcage, and instantly regretted it. Probably half of them were broken, and touching them felt worse than slamming my pecker in an oven door.

That was also about the time that somebody started shooting at me.
This is why I hate Mondays.

Bullets coming in my general direction is always a signal that I should immediately vacate the area. I leapt to my feet and sprinted toward the garage, towards my Warhammer.

Altkrieger, I call her. It’s Deutsch for “Old Warrior.” I call her that because she’s fought in every major war since before the Star League. She also came through those five hundred years of warfare with nary a scratch.

Normally, I would have to climb up a ladder into Altkrieger’s cockpit, but the skybridge goes into the garage and drops off over her head. I leapt into her cockpit and slid into the command couch. Strapped myself in, mindful of my ribs, and fitted the bulky neurohelmet over my head simultaneously. All this while bullets whizzed inches past my face.

I could’ve been killed, in retrospect.

You never know, on Solaris.

I started her up, hearing Altkrieger’s fusion core thrumming with power. The canopy closed as I went through the identification procedures, stopping instantly the hail of bullets that was being directed at me.

Whoever was trying to kill me was very good. As soon as the cockpit closed, he stopped shooting; he knew it would be a waste of ammunition, and my infrared sensors would have an easier time picking him up as well. I admired his skill.

Now, don’t get me wrong; people have tried to kill me before. It happens often enough that I’ve begun to admire the truly talented ones. This was the third time this month alone.

But having people trying to kill you all the time means that you learn a few things. Like knowing how to find your mystery assassin. The first step is to use yourself as bait. To give the killer a second chance. Men and women who kill for a living love second chances.

I stepped my Warhammer forward, out of the garage door and into the street. And made a very big mistake.

This is why I hate Mondays.

I still don’t know now, but my guess was that the assassin knew that I would survive the bomb. Knew that I would run for my Warhammer. Knew that as long as I remained in it, he couldn’t kill me.

So he planted explosives in the knee joints.

That’s just a guess, of course.

You never know, on Solaris.

All I knew at the time was that suddenly, Altkrieger’s legs were no longer working.

I’m a good pilot. But I’m not that good.

When you’re piloting a seventy-ton, eight-meter tall iron war machine, gravity is not your friend. And since the pavement offers about as much traction as greased ice, momentum was not my friend either. Altkrieger and I took two stumbling, pirouetting steps across the street.

And right into my apartment building.

This is why I hate Mondays.

The building collapsed and Altkrieger with it. Apartments washed over my cockpit, parting like the
Red Sea. I saw furniture go past my view. Lamps. Tables. Clothing. People.
Then something big slammed against the glass, shattering it. My head hit the console. And everything went black.


So here I am, with the man and the gun. Lying on the skyscraper’s corpse. The hitman, he has dragged me out of Altkrieger’s broken cockpit. Now that I’m conscious, he’s ready to kill me.

He points the gun at my head. Nothing short of a miracle will save me now.

But you never know, on Solaris.

“Lyran Intelligence Corps! Drop your weapon!”

It’s the woman from this morning.

The hitman drops, but not his gun. In one second he throws himself to the ground and fires his pistol.

In the next second, half the woman’s head disappears in a cloud of blood and bone.

That, however, has given me all the time I need. I leap to my feet, and kick him squarely in the side. Then I step on one of his arms and take the pistol from his hand.

I stand there, pointing it at his head.

“Listen,” I say. “I want you to tell your boss something. Tell him that I am [blanking] sick and tired of being blown up, shot at, and just generally [screwed] with. And tell him that if he doesn’t cut this [crap] out, I will personally redeliver my message with my Warhammer’s foot.”

“The only thing I’m gonna tell him,” he growls, “is that after I killed your lady friend, I tortured you until you begged for death.”

“Wrong answer,” I say.

And then I shoot him in the head.

This is why I hate Mondays.