P is for Provocateur

P is for Provocateur

Vicky stood in front of Fog Machines and Musty Maps. She silently observed the sea of guests that had formed in a matter of minutes. She could have shouted and still not detected over the commotion this crowd made. Not that she could understand anything that the mob was saying; of the snatched fragments she could hear, none of it sounded comprehensible. They all swayed to and fro in time to some unheard beating rhythm. Possible theories welled up through her mind and discarded while she observed them, ignored for the moment. If they noticed and turned on her all at once, she was not sure if she could fight her way out.

Nodding to herself, Vicky settled on the most likely theory and pulled a random guest from the crowd and led him back to her little base camp as she called it now. The young man walked a few steps in any direction that she pushed or pulled him before he stopped and waited for another instruction. All the while he kept up the stream of incoherent babble that joined the greater droning noise that filling the sector. She managed to get the man to sit on the floor then began running several tests. While she waited, more guests and a few employees stumbled out of the nearby shops to join up with the growing mob.

Several minutes later she reviewed the test results with a frown as it ruled out food, drink, and air contaminants. She did a quick count of the employees she could see in the crowd, trying to remember anything about them. The tone of their babbling changed from a muttering drone to angry shouting. A thought hit her, and she wove a pattern and blinked back the tears forming from what felt like sticking glass in her eyes. Instantly, all the affected lit up with the same Chartreuse green glow. She let the weave go, and the radiance vanished while she rubbed her eyes. “That means, my instigator is here, somewhere close and rather potent.” Vicky placed her hands on either side of her subjects head and focused on another pattern. When she finished, she was panting and sweating already.

The crowd’s voice turned into a deafening roar, and now they held aloft whatever implements they had been previously carrying -shopping bags, staffs, pitchforks, tires, and weapons. The riot was starting.

The man’s eyes focused and blinked several times. “Um, hello?”

“Hi, how are you feeling? Are you okay?” Vicky leaned over to examine him again, “what is the last thing you remember?”

His eyes wandered over to the mob of guests.

“Sir, please focus, it’s important. The last thing,” Vicky said, jerking his head away from the crowd back to her.

“I was heading to the food court,” he paused thinking through a sludged mind, “when someone in a bright green cloak walked by.” He shook his head, “no, ran into me pretty hard… and then I was looking at you?”

Vicky nodded pretty sure she broke the controlling weave on the man. “Alright sir, I need you to follow the floor lights to the nearest shelter and stay there until this is over.” She pointed towards the ground as walk lights blinked on to create a path through the mob. “To. The. Shelter,” Vicky repeated.  The lights changed direction away from the crowd. “Go,” she gave the man a starting push.

Once he had gone, Vicky’s attention turned to the crowd and for an instigator in a bright green cloak. She checked the two pistols in their holsters, both charged to max pressure. She swapped the red glowing castors for white ones and then waded into the mob.

The crowd broke into a full frenzied riot. As one, everyone screamed and bolted in every direction swinging madly at anything in their way. At first, mostly each other, then the storefronts, then everything else in reach. Glass shattered, safety railings buckled under the strain, guests fell to floors below, lights broke, reinforced security doors received dents under the fevered onslaught.

Vicky ducked and wove her way through the mob without much damage to herself. A quick hop up on the safety railing as it wobbled dangerously past its breaking point then to the top of a pillar gave her a decent overview of the riot. Most of it moved down any hallway available on several floors in a haphazard fashion. Except for one hallway a floor down. The mob there shuffled with a single minded purpose in one direction. “Found you,” she whispered as a smile broke across her face. Then she realized what she would need to wade through to get there and sighed.

A conspicuously placed air vent conveniently nearby caused Vicky to roll her eyes. “Fine, we’ll do it her way.”

“Alright, this always works for Avera. I’m going to crawl this way, and I expect to come out over there somehow!” She pointed in each direction to make her point while announcing her intentions loudly and then crawled into the ventilation shaft.

Vicky kicked out a grate and peered out as it clattered to the tile below her. She found herself on the correct floor and decently ahead of the riot. She was positive that the air duct had gone up the entire time she had been in there. “I don’t want to know how that worked, but thanks?” She dropped to the floor.

As the riot approached, Vicky drew both pistols and fired into the ceiling. The concussive shock wave dropped chunks of the roof onto the crowd, bringing them to an uneasy stop. Any surviving storefront windows shattered under the crushing blast. Alone, in what was the center of the riot, stood a man in a bright green cape. He was smiling. A violent shiver ran down her spine.

“Now what, little mouse?” The man in green raised his arms and the crowd came to an unnatural attention. “My turn.” He thrust his arms towards her and the mob surged forward.

Vicky nonchalantly loaded hazy light blue castors and fired both pistols at the floor. A sheet of ice washed out from the impact into the onrushing mob. The first rows of guests went down, the rest falling into a massive pile of limbs behind them. She replaced the spent crystals with new fresh sand yellow castors and fired over the crowd. She desperately hoped there was a reimbursement policy for personal castor expenses as two yellow billowing plumes of cloud dusted everyone it touched. As it came in contact with the man in the cape it flared into chartreuse flame and vanished a few inches from him.

“Figures,” Vicky grunted.

The floor tilted violently, sliding the entire now sleeping mob to the floor below and leveled back out. Vicky was sure she saw Kyle in the pile as it passed. Now it was just her, the man in the cape and the sirens. He forced his shocked expression back into something bordering on manic neutrality.

“Sir, for causing a riot inside the Market…”

“Let me guess. You’re going to stop me, right?” He cut her off. “I am Sam, Summoner of Chaos!” he said between breaths.

Before she could reply, a bright chartreuse wall of thread filled Vicky’s vision. She managed to dive out of the way before it sliced through the wall behind her, heart thudding her chest. He had just been controlling a massive crowd, putting him several notches stronger than Avera. Vicky’s mind raced to calculate how much longer this Sam could last. He hadn’t followed up with a finishing blow and now he sagged, struggling to keep himself upright. Taking that into consideration, she figured he maybe had one or two more good punches hiding up his tailor made sleeves. She hoped she was right and loaded slug rounds.

Vicky sprang up into a roll and fired. The round exploded several feet in front of him, sending a fractured wave of spider web chartreuse lines pulsing through his shield of Thread. She fired the second pistol and he deflected the round again. He swayed dangerously close to collapsing under the brute force of the attack. Then she ran for cover.

The ground heaved as he sent rollers through the floor, the floor crumbling under the attack. The support beams collapsed, bringing the level above caving in, and finally pulling the wall down on top of the mess. Vicky cowered in a reinforced corner until the dust and rubble settled. Sam stood on top of the ruined hallway dancing weakly with glee at the destruction. “This is even better than I had hoped for! Nothing can stop me now!”

“Right then.” Vicky prepped an orange castor, aimed and fired. The crystal left a blazing trail of orange light as it rocketed across the hallway towards Sam. She enjoyed watching his face turn from glee to horror as the streak of color bore down on him. He threw his arms up in automatic defense, the light trail vanishing just before impact in a blaze of green. It reappeared in a blast of green behind him and then slammed into the far wall with a pop.

“Ha! You…” Sam collapsed.

Vicky climbed across the rubble, casually loading the glowing red castor and pressed it against his forehead.

“Are you done now?” she said coolly.

His eyes focused haphazardly on the red light, then on her. He nodded imperceptibly.

“Good. Let’s get you patched up for when security finally gets here.”

4 thoughts on “P is for Provocateur

    1. I’ve been practicing sketching lately as well, and even with a basic grasp of that, it helps me visualize what I’m attempting to write down on paper. And then I get the bonus of making horrible sketches for what I write. 🙂

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