“Out of the way!” Avera announced as she vaulted over a bench with people on it. Faint yellow thread flashed out under her feet as she hit the ground and rocketed down through the corridor.
Avera skidded to a stop, her boots crunching up the tile as people leapt out of her way. Some shouting and others looking for management to complain. “Sorry! In a hurry!” her words lingered as she picked up speed again down the new corridor. She ran along the safety railings guarding the mezzanine to the lower floors.
A wood duck waddled out into the middle of the floor. Avera leapt out into the void to grab hold of the hanging banner for Black Incandescents and Scorpions. The fabric rippled from the impact. Avera clung to the back side catching her breath. The duck stopped and stared at the advertisement as though studying it.
People in the corridor began to stop and stare at Avera.
“Quack,” said the duck. It waddled around to view the other side of the banner.
Avera and the duck locked eyes. The duck cocked its head and quacked again.
In one fluid motion, Avera slipped from the banner and threw out two MgAP Acuity Dampers towards the duck as she dropped towards the bottom floor.
“Quack,” said the duck, and then shot lasers from its eyes.
The dampers exploded midair.
“I’m in a hurry,” she shouted as she fell.
A half sphere of an intricate faint yellow pattern formed as she fell two more stories. The weave finished about two feet from the ground. It slammed into the reinforced floor, crushing it into a half circle before buckling and unraveling. Avera held for a moment suspended above the floor before crashing into it.
She laid there a few moments to catch her breath before sitting back up. Avera wiped the sweat off her brow and fixed her green hair. High above, ducks flew around in circles as smoke and dust wafted through the air.
I GIVE YOU SEVEN OUT OF TEN. KYLE FALLS BETTER.
“I still don’t know how.”
AND FOUR OUT OF TEN FOR DESTRUCTION.
“I’ve got a doormat on me.”
IS IT ARMED?
“Care to find out?”
THERE ARE MORE DUCKS.
Avera thought about those odds for a moment, “you win.” She stood up and looked around. “Have I been here before?”
TWICE. BUT NOT SINCE ITS BEEN REMODELED. YOU SHOULD SEE THE DRAPES NOW.
“Hrrmmm… maybe next time.”
THE MOBILE FUN SQUAD IS ALMOST HERE. I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW.
“I thought I lost them!” Avera took off running again.
YOU DID. THEY HAVE VERY GOOD HEARING.
Avera pulled up short and kicked off a vent panel and crawled inside. With a bit of effort she got the vent back into place as the floor began to shake. The thunder of six armed steam clanks stomped down the hallway past her hiding spot. She held her breath.
Behind her the growl of the arctic chillers hummed faintly and cold air moved past her. Moving in slow motion, she backed up further into the air duct until she hit a junction. After rounding the corner and out of line of sight she let go of her breath. While they were too big to fit, they could easily shoot down the air duct if they spotted her. Avera sniffed the air from both exiting ducts and decided one and headed down it.
Several junctions later she arrived back onto correct floor and across from the shop she wanted. Torches and Books. The steamers had beaten her back. She frowned, she had been sure she had been extra quiet the entire time. Avera checked her chronometer, she had five minutes left.
As fast as possible, she crawled across the duct to the opposite side of the corridor. She reached the junction that ran the connector into the shop and she’d be free. The last section of the duct buckled under her weight, a loud reverb bounced around the immediately hallway.
All six clanks turned in unison to raise their Velk Double Beam Phase Suppressors at the source.
“Halt. You are under arrest for theft from the restricted section.”
“You have to catch me first!” Avera kicked out the bottom of the duct to drop towards the ground as they opened fire. Brilliant white pulses filled the air. Nearby customers dropped to the floor.
Avera twirled the door mat towards the hulking metal constructs and did a backwards roll into Torches and Books. “Blast doors, Stan! Now!”
Stan, who was standing behind the counter dove for a large red button and hit it. Immediately the entire store front was encased in metal with a loud thunk.
From the other side came a muffled wump.
IT WAS ARMED. I FOUND YOU.
Avera picked her self up and came over to the counter. A man stood impassively in a cloud grey rain cloak that had bright pink stitching. On his shoulders sat a raccoon. His fur had large flecks of bright pink that matched perfectly to the threads in the cloak.
Stan shied back into a corner, grateful to not have to man the counter with the gentlemen and his incredibly creepy smile.
“Mr. Gravelai, one book in 30 minutes or less, ‘Advanced Weavings for Temporal Control’, from the restricted library. That will be $423,” Avera said as she pulled the book out of one of her many pockets and placed it gently on the counter top.
The man smiled. Avera smiled.
“Thank you Ms. Avera, It’s always a pleasure doing business here.” He paid her.
AWWW. I WAS HOPING TO SHOOT YOU AGAIN.
“I’m having quite a lot of fun denying you this pleasure.”
I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR NEXT ATTEMPT AT BREAKING IN.
“Once was enough for me,” Mr. Gravelai said.
The blast panels secreted themselves back into the ceiling. A black crater sat on the ground, with metal fragments of a former security bot laying everywhere. The other five stood as a perimeter holding order.
Mr. Gravelai walked himself out past the machines. One turned towards him. “Enjoy your purchase, sir,” its voice box chirped.
“Thank you I will.”