I was thinking of naming this post “I’d be dangerous if I knew how to spell”. Edited a few typos from previous posts, but I am sure there are still plenty. One thing I will definitely need is professional type editing. But first, I’ll need a story. Sooooo back to the slog. I’m still waffling about the role of the government in all this. I introduced Agent Hixton because I wanted to have Persephone face off against an opponent with a similar skill set. The story is lacking an antagonist at the moment, but Agent Hixton isn’t at all villainous. He and the government he represents are benign and maybe a little boring. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I just can’t do the “evil autocratic government” thing.
Featured image is from https://openclipart.org. There is so much amazing freely shared art out there. I am grateful for it.
Persephone blinked. She’d been expecting charges, something in the line of breaking and entering, property damage and theft. “Treason? Me? Are you sure you have the right person?” It probably wasn’t the best response, but it had been a weird morning so far and it looked like it was about to get weirder.
The agent produced a com pad and turned the screen towards her. It displayed her picture, her addresses and demographic data. “You will be frisked for weapons and then accompany us to the station.” The female agent stepped forward with one of the chemical sniffer wands.
Persephone rolled her eyes, but held her hands up to allow the woman to check her for firearms. “You have all that info. on me, but you’re still searching for guns? I have to talk to my ad agent. Apparently no one believes my commercials.” The woman scowled and prodded Persephone with the wand.
“Hey. Watch it with the police brutality there sister. And those things work at range. You don’t need to grind it in.” The agent had the blunt tip of the scanner pressed into Persephone’s sternum.
“Agent Lordes. Ms. Roe is unlikely to be concealing a weapon inside of her rib cage.” That was the tall guy in the back. He sounded smooth, efficient, even a little kindly, maybe going for the good cop role? Agent Lordes must be doing the bad cop thing then. She jostled Persephone while she finished up the scan and then stepped back and nodded to Mr. Good Cop. Persephone decided that meant that the taller guy was in charge so she addressed her next remark to him.
“Mind telling me what I did? I’m sure this is a mistake.”
“Your recent illegal activity constitutes a public safety risk. You are accused of endangering the security of Colony City. Complete charges will be read at the arraignment.”
“Treason and now public safety?” Someone must be stretching the story a bit in order to turn her latest caper into something that serious. She couldn’t imagine how they were going to make the charges stick.
“Agent Lordes, please secure Ms. Roe. Agent Allen secure the apartment.”
Lordes grinned and produced a pair of handcuffs while Allen pocketed his com pad and moved to step past Persephone. Persephone put her arms out blocking the door. “I know my rights. That warrant say you can search?” The maneuver was really just stalling for time. Mr. Good Cop looked like the kind of guy who did all the appropriate paperwork, in triplicate. She was banking on the fact that he liked to show off his due diligence.
The lead agent reached for his own com pad and as soon as his hand was in his pocket, Persephone dropped a smoke pellet, ducked and rolled to the right. She was just in time to miss Agent Lordes rush. She heard a shout as the woman collided with Agent Allen. Then she was running down the hallway, trying to make her escape as loud as possible. She needed to draw them away from her apartment. She believed in working cleanly and that meant keeping the feds away from her clients. Up until now, that had been easy. Her clients usually just gave her a job and then stayed out of her way while she did it. She wished that Arch had stuck to that pattern.
The agents had stopped coughing and stumbling around. They were coming after her now. Although, it sounded like only two of them. “Marco!” she called out . The footsteps got louder and faster, but they didn’t yell back. “You’re supposed to say Polo. Can’t play if you don’t follow the rules!” Persephone yanked open the fire door and stepped into the stairwell bringing a swirling cloud of smoke with her. Behind her, the hallway was still full of opaque vapor, but she thought she could hear three sets of footsteps now. Apparently she’d tweaked them enough that all of them had given chase. She sprinted up the stairs heading for the roof. She fumbled for her goggles while she ran. She needed her phone link. She called up Japeth’s number and waited for the woman to pick up.
“Persephone?” Japeth answered in a quavery whisper.
“Hallway’s clear. Well actually it’s full of smoke, but no feds. Get out.” Persephone ended the call just as she burst onto the roof. The rain was coming down in buckets and she was instantly drenched. She didn’t mind though. Visibility was almost as bad as the smoke filled hallway. That meant that she stood a good chance of not getting shot. She ran for the edge. Seconds later, the agents were there. Based on the short, boxy silhouette it looked like Lordes must be in the lead.
“This is useless, Ms. Roe. There is no way off this roof. All you’ve achieved is to add ‘resisting arrest’ to the roster of charges.” That was Mr. Good Cop.
Persephone lengthened her stride and jumped. She’d done this before, but never in this kind of weather. The rain felt like a solid wall and it seemed like the wind was going to suck her down. She still made it, but barely. She dangled by her fingers from the edge of the neighboring roof. Then slowly, she hauled herself up to lie prone on the sopping concrete. She rested for a second and then rolled over and sat up. She had to see what the agents were up to.
From here, her apartment building looked like a rectangular smudge. The facing wall descending into the dim grey haze of rain. There were a few lit windows, but it was tough to make out the roof. There was some movement up there and then a beam of light hazed and distorted by the water. Persephone scrambled back from the edge. Was that a flashlight or some kind of laser site? She didn’t really want to stick around to find out.
She was running for the far edge when she heard a thump behind her and then footsteps. Mr Good Cop had made the jump, in torrential rain, without practice and he’d stuck the landing better than Persephone ever had. This wasn’t a rent-a-cop. This guy was good. In the hallway, she’d taken him for a pencil pusher. Crisp black uniform, peaked cap, sandy hair and mild blue eyes. She found herself wondering if Arch could have made that jump then wondered why that thought had popped into her head. Luckily, fear soon drove away all the unwanted mental chatter. She was teetering on the edge of another drop. She’d crossed this one with grapnels, but she didn’t have them now. She risked a look down but saw nothing but falling rain. She risked a looked back and saw a silhouette against the yellow-grey daytime clouds. There wasn’t much time and she had nowhere to go. She unconsciously raised a hand to push her sopping hair back and her hand grazed something hard. It was her googles. She’d taken them out to call Japeth, but after that had just left them perched on top of her head. She pushed them into place over her eyes, toggled to the low light setting and took another look down. This time she saw it, her way out. She steeled herself, stepped off the edge and plummeted four stories before hitting the balcony she’d spotted. She landed feet fist and knees bent to absorbed the force, but still felt a spike of pain driving up both legs. She tipped to the right and rolled fetching up against the railing. Seconds later, that beam of light was back. It skimmed the building, but the balcony was a small target. She’d been lucky to hit it, the light didn’t. The beam wandered back and forth for a few passes and then flicked out. When it was gone, she risked crawling away from the railing and back towards the building. There had to be a door. There was, but it had no handle, no opening indicating a mechanical lock. Persephone pushed on the panel, but it didn’t give. Her legs hurt so much that it was hard to think. Instead, she just groaned, and clawed reflexively at the door. She even risked a few weak knocks before noticing that the balcony had a ladder. Like the balcony itself, the ladder was little more than a meshwork of industrial grade ceramics. It led down to a similar balcony, and then to more ladders and balconies descending all the way down to the street. The final ladder deposited her into an alley way.
It was time to think about where she was going to run off to next. There were tube fish waiting for her out there in the Floats and apparently Feds waiting for her in the city. Shanty town? There were plenty of places there that rented rooms by the hour. She’d use an assumed name and one of her anonymous credit lines. First, check to see if the Feds were gone. She took a quick look at the street. This building stood next door to her apartment complex, but she was on the far side and had to step out onto the sidewalk to get a good look. She was just in time to see the Agents push Japeth and Arch into a tread car and drive away down the street