Bull and Myers have just made their big steal, and are now fleeing the bullet-fire of their supposed partner-in-crime, a mysterious man by the name of Gaunt. Now, they've got to get out of town, and fast, if they hope to escape the clutches of Jaidour's criminal underground...
I was certainly up a creek now, if I'd ever been on a river to begin with. The water was still deep, though, and I wasn't keen on drowning.
"This way!" Myers cried as we burst out of a stairwell into the back of a drugstore. The pharmacist looked up from her work with only the slightest interest. I waived. Myers grabbed my waving hand from the air and pulled me towards another door, which led out to the floor of the store. I sent some poor employee flying when I barreled through the door and right into him, bottles of vitamins and baby wipes exploding from the shelf the poor sap fell into.
"Sorry!" I called over my shoulder to the elderly employee. He didn't know what had hit him, I could tell. I caught a last glimpse of the old man through the plate glass window at the front of the drugstore, and Gaunt crashing through the door after us. Three overly concerned citizens threw themselves on top of Gaunt to protect the old clerk, lucky for us.
Myers and I hadn't even reached the end of the street when I heard the roar of a siren heading our way. I jumped on top of a newspaper machine to see if the cop car was near, which I quickly saw it was. And then there was another siren, another car coming from the other direction.
"They're coming from both ways!" I said to Myers, who was down at street level.
"Then we'll have to go a third," Myers said. "Follow me!"
Myers climbed onto a trash box sitting in front of a short, narrow, wooden fence, shot me a beckoning glance, and then dove and disappeared behind the fence into a narrow alley there between two high-rises. I followed after, hoping down from my newspaper machine and then up and over the fence. The space behind the fence was very small and very dirty, cluttered with dead pigeons and years of thoughtlessly-tossed garbage. Myers was down at the end of the space, working at picking a lock hanging off a square wooden panel.
"What are you doing?" I asked her.
"Picking our way into the underground," she said. "Used to play in the catacombs all the time as a little girl." Myers finally managed to pick the lock and then knock the wooden panel off the narrow entrance to the city's system of underground passages. "Follow me," she said. She put both hands along the ridge atop the darkened entrance and then swung her whole form through it in one smooth movement. The sirens as close as they could get, I followed after my bold new partner, and soon all was pitch-black.
The city of Jaidour had suffered a devastating fire some years back, and rather than tearing down the remnants of the old city, the government decided instead to just build a new city on top of the old, including a whole new street-level. This left an extensive network of streets and storefronts under the bustling metropolis. Many of the storefronts were still decorated, and the streets below the city were as wide and welcoming as they had been in their prime, if only now in eternal darkness. This was the shadow world, and many of Jaidour's shadow citizens called it home. But for now, at least, it seemed that Myers and I were alone there.
"Phew!" Myers said, finally taking a deep breath and a moment to catch her wits. "Now that's excitement!"
"How well do you know the underground?" I asked, panting.
"Pretty well," she answered. "We should head south, along old Priory Avenue. That'll lead us to the docks. Lots of exits there. And we'll be able to exchange our bills, too," she said.
"I thought you were a security officer?" I asked. "How do you know where to launder money?"
"Two people in this world know that kinda information, see: the criminals, and the cops. Why do you think you see so much corruption? It's only too easy for someone on the inside to take advantage."
"Speaking of insiders: that man Gaunt, the thug who was blasting at us: now, you don't know much about me, but I haven't been in crime for very long. And yet Gaunt acts like he knows me, tells others he's seen me before. Which I assure you, he hasn't. And now you're saying he's a cop, after all?"
"I remember him from the academy, sure," Myers said. "He was a teacher there. Means of Criminal Deception was one of the classes he taught, if I'm not mistaken."
"Well that would make sense," I said. "Do you think..."
I was cut off by loud voices coming from the square entrance to the underground that Myers and I were still huddled under.
"I think we need to keep moving!" Myers said.
We hadn't made it ten feet when the first cop dropped through the hole after us.
"I can hear them!" he called back up the hole. Thankfully, we still had a few seconds to escape while his eyes adjusted to the darkness.
"Come on," Myers whispered. I followed close behind her with my hand on her shoulder. She stopped suddenly after about twenty more feet, and pulled me after her through a shattered store front. Myers grabbed up a piece of broken brick from the dusty ground and hurled it back out the store front as hard as she could. It shattered a window a ways down the street, and then we saw three officers race by in the murky light towards the noise of breaking glass.
"Other way, let's go," Myers whispered. We rolled out of the window frame and back onto the cobblestone streets, and then started running as quietly and as quickly as we could in the other direction.
"Brilliant!" I said to Myers, glancing back over my shoulders at the shafts of light flashing about wildly in the darkness in the other direction.
"Not so brilliant," came a voice from the darkness. Myers and I skidded to a dead stop as the towering figure of Gaunt moved in front of us into a dim shaft in of light coming from above ground.
"Listen," I said to Gaunt, holding my hands up in a plea for mercy, "I don't know what is going on here, why you're after me, but surely we can come to some kind of agreement, can't we?"
"Sure we can," Gaunt said, raising a quickshot towards us. "You can give me those two bags, or you can die."
"What class is that from, officer?" Myers asked Gaunt. The old man sneered. "Oh, how the righteous have fallen and all that, eh?"
"Here, just...," I said to Gaunt, grabbing at the air by my feet for the bags I had dropped, "you can have them. "Don't do it," I said to Myers, "don't tempt him, it's not worth it." I got a hold of something at my feet, but it wasn't a bag. It was wet, and kind of furry. I didn't want to know what it was, really, but I was going to use it. "Here!" I said to Gaunt, lifting whatever I had in my hand up off the cobbled street and launching it in his direction. I'm pretty sure it was a dead cat or dog. The thing caught Gaunt off guard, and he jumped to get out of the way.
That was all the time we needed. Myers launched straight towards the old man, crouching low and knocking him off balance. As he fell to the ground, his quickshot went off. In the contained space, it as so loud that it hurt to hear it. I collected the two bags of loot and was already in motion when Myers managed to scramble up and after me. Gaunt's quickshot had gotten the attention of the other officers, whose boots I could hear trampling towards us.
"Stop!" Myers called out to me suddenly, throwing her hand out to stop my momentum just as we came to edge of the street. There, the road came to a complete stop, and dropped off into darkness.
"Edge of town, huh?" I asked sarcastically.
"You're done, it's over," Gaunt announced from somewhere in the darkness. The officers started to press in on us with their lightboxes, quickshots drawn.
"You'll never take us, old man!" I shouted. It sounded tough, but I didn't believe it.
"Throw me the bags," Gaunt ordered. "Now!"
"You'll pay for this," Myers said.
"With two bags of money, certainly," Gaunt joked. "You have five seconds. One. Two. Three..." He cocked his quickshot. "Four..."
"See you in hell!" Myers shouted, and then grabbed my arm. I tried as hard as I could to resist her pulling me with her over the edge, but it was no good: I felt gravity pulling on me, and saw Gaunt and the officers disappear from view.
And then Myers and I hit the ground. Thankfully it was sandy. Still, it hurt pretty bad. I was sure I heard my ankle break, but my adrenaline was racing so if it had, I couldn't feel it. Myers tumbled forward when we fell, right into a drainage pipe. I dove towards her just as the lightboxes from above began to search the sand.
"Where'd they go?" I heard one of the officers ask, dumbfounded.
"They just kill themselves?" another one asked.
"I don't see any bodies," Gaunt grumbled. "I want a full search of the entire catacomb system."
"But sir, that would be impossible...," one of the guards started to counter.
"Do it!" Gaunt hollered, and then roared with rage.
"Now what?" I asked Myers in a whisper.
"I'm all out of bright ideas," she said. "It's your turn."
NEXT TIME: ROLLING IN RICHES or COPPED AND POPPED