While still five blocks away when she felt the fire begin, Payton had leaped up the building side to get a better view. She hung there now, her left hand gripping the surface of a fourth floor window as her right hand held a flux-powered “spyglass” monocle to her eye. Flashes of flux here and there… they had been too far away when the fire began for her to know whether flux had started it. She could no longer feel the spook whom the officers had reported, but she sensed hints of other artists in the area.
Motion caught her eye, as the spyglass detected clear sign of flux flow. She invoked the visual function, watched a figure in something like a hijab help a uniformed cop out of a blazing building and deposit him on the pavement.
Her partner pulled up his car up below, opened the door and leaned out to call up to her. “You gonna keep doing the superhero act or get down here? Radio says the location’s burning down!”
She didn’t fault him for the ‘superhero’ jibe. She knew she looked ridiculous, a dumpy African-American grandma somehow glued like Spiderman to the outside of a glass curtain wall. She didn’t have any time to spare for a sarcastic rejoinder thought.
The figure took off running and cloaked. Visual stealth only, not screening from flux-senses… she looked back down. “Send one of your trackers now! North side of the warehouse! We got a runner!”
Cipolli never hesitated when she meant business. A fluttering flicker of his hand, and a black bird-like shadow went flashing down the street, then angled toward the warehouse five blocks away.
She leaped from the sheet of glass, stretching for a spot on the other side of the road, and bounded catlike from there to the roof of a one-story building as the tracker flew over it toward the fire. Her partner took off in his car, now driving while simultaneously seeing through his tracker’s ‘eyes’, a trick she couldn’t imagine pulling off. He had to follow the streets, while she and his creature could cut across diagonally, so they caught up with the running cloak well before he did.
She had tucked the spyglass away while chasing, but at this range she could sense the runner naturally. As long as the cloak remained in force, it lit up like neon to her mind’s eye. The tracker and she raced side-by-side behind the spook, with only moments to go before reaching him.
Simultaneously, the cloak vanished and a sword slashed downward as the runner abruptly stood his ground.
Her hand flashed upward to meet it, the Rhyu’cha’en on her palm surging with power. The spook’s eyes, the only feature visible to her in a billowing sea of black robes, grew wide as the sword rebounded from a solid barrier. An afterimage of her Rhyu’cha’en now hovered there, written in blazing white fire mid-air in the spot where her palm had been just an instant before.
The moment that it bought her was enough for her to retrieve her own weapon. Not her Beretta, which she knew would be useless, but a small rod about the size of a runner’s baton. She held it in a right handed grip as she took a fighting stance, her free arm extended for balance.
Her opponent had held the sword in reverse, attempting to strike her with the back, not intending to kill. The blade now flipped over and the sword slashed again, breaking the airborne incha’en and shattering the barrier.
The swordsman again reversed the blade and prepared to advance on her, then hesitated, unsure what to make of her little weapon. The moment of pause gave Payton the opportunity to observe the ‘swordsman’. Despite her stature and attire that left the impression of a tall Arabic or Berber tribesman, her opponent was in fact blonde and female. In addition, based on her actions, she had no intention to kill.
Payton jabbed her free hand into her hip pocket, pulling out her shield. “Just in case it means anything to you, ma’am, I’m a police officer. Please put the weapon down.”
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