Mari groaned to her feet and staggered to the once again open doorway.
“Oh my god, my head.” She leaned into the hallway and looked around. “So what’s the plan?”
Sieffre appeared before her, hands in pocket.
“What are you all dressed up for?”
He looked down at his button-up shirt and trousers. “Oh! I just… um, got inspired.” He slid past her vision as she made her way down the hall.
“Did you, now?”
His image, only seen by her eyes, allowed him to talk freely while she continued to push thoughts at their connection. She stopped short of the pool of light at the intersection, and Sieffre appeared again further down the hall. His figure appeared to glow, unaffected by the deep shadow around him.
“Mari, come on. We need to pick up the pace.”
“Hold on.” She stretched for the ceiling and straightened her back in an extravagant series of muted pops. Somewhere down the hall to the left was a real party, or a skirmish. It was too far off to be of concern, though.
“You good now?”
“Oh god, yeah.”
“Can we keep moving then?”
“Did you hear that?”
“Did I hear what?”
“That was all spine.”
When Mari peered around the corner, Sieffre was standing at the double doors in the distance.
“Are you ready to use that spine?” His voice was a whisper in her ear.
She wriggled her shoulders and pushed forward. “So what are we dealing with?”
“Six men, five have darts gun, another has a small cannon.”
“What, like a lead shooter?”
“Yes, but like a big one.”
“Didn’t think you could get that on Kennet.”
“I think that’s why it ended up in the jail, here.”
Mari reached the double doors and was face to face with Sieffre.
“Oh, and I exploded all the lights and there is glass… everywhere.”
Her eyes bulged and mouth pinched.
“Damn it, Sieffre! I’m in bare feet, here!”
“Don’t get mad at me. You were out and I had to improvise.”
She took a deep breath and shrugged off her puffy long coat.
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to improvise, too.”
“That’s my girl. Good fight.” He bowed his head forward and Mari’s forehead tingled where it expected a touch.
“Thanks, my boy.” She gave him once last glance before she pulled at one of the doors open enough to peak through.
Two dark silhouettes stood indecisively at the other end where the hall split ways. Confused shouting and yelps could be heard from around the corner. Their lamps, blue cylinders of light with metallic handles at either end, were held up to illuminate the other room so they didn’t notice her quietly slip in.
In fact, they were so distracted by the antics in the other room that she was able to walk right up and pop a lantern out of the closest man’s grasp. She flipped the lantern in her hands, and before they had a chance to react, cracked the unarmed man in the face and smashed the other across the temple. Mari quickly snuffed the lamps before approaching the locker room.
“She can’ have just disappear! She in here somewhere!”
The four remaining men were still trying to affect a search, but self-preservation had locked up their legs. The each stood in a wide leg stance on the balls or sides of their feet with toes curled up. Mari watched in the safety of darkness, sizing up her game. They wore dingy miner’s jumpsuits, they reflector patches flaring up each time a lamplight passed over the fabric. The two in her line of sight had dark skin, one with dreadlocked hair. Miner getup plus dark skin plus that accent equaled the Moungren; definitely not the Manana bureaucrats. The larger man just at the end of the freestanding wall of lockers had a very deep voice and held what Sieffre was correct in calling a small cannon.
The smaller man closer to Mari almost lost his balance and had to take a step into a fresh batch of broken glass.
“Gah! How do you expec’ us ta look through all of dis? I can’ walk around in all dis shit!”
“Yeah, man,” came a voice from over the wall. “How did she do that?”
“It weren’t her, you embsil! It was a power surge. Probably da same ting that knocked out power in da firs’ place.” The deep voiced man was definitely the leader of this bunch.
“What a little girl doing in jail, anyway? I tell you, something is not right!”
“I tol’ you to shut up dat shit!”
Mari’s voice floated in from the darkness. “You have no idea.”
The two men snapped in her direction. The large man aiming his cannon, the smaller nearly falling over again as he tried to turn around.
“Who are you!” Boomed the larger man. “Show yourself!”
“What?” The smaller man squinted, his darts gun gripped tightly at his side.
“But then, you’re all dead.”
“What is she talking about?” Came a panicked voice from over the wall.
“She a ghost!”
“SHUT! UP! Show yourself or I start shooting.”
Mari sucked at her teeth, “Oh, I wouldn’t want you to waste your ammo.”
A dark figure lurched from the darkness, and both men unloaded a couple shots before realizing it was one of their companions falling to the floor.
Mari leapt from the doorway, landed on the downed man and used him as a spring board to launch herself at the smaller man. She was just able to slap the darts gun away as he pulled the trigger and wrapped her limbs around him like a spider as he struggled to keep his footing.
“WELLER! HELP! GET HER OFF!”
The large man aimed the small cannon at her but hesitated as the smaller man’s back blocked most of his shot. Mari wrenched the man’s head back by the dreads and locked eyes with the leader.
“Yeah, come on, Weller!”
“What’s going on??” The other two men could be heard shuffling back through the glass toward them.
“Man, just fall on top of her!”
The smaller man tried to fall forward but Mari kicked a leg out against the lockers so that he only managed to fall to his knees. As he cried out in pain, she kicked again so that he fell backward, giving her another spring board to leap up to the top of free standing wall; just dodging a booming shot from the cannon. He shot again as she scurried along the wall. Hopefully, Ilya hadn’t been in those particular lockers. Fortunately for her, the other two men were too busy looking down at their path to notice her. Another shot and Mari was forced roll off the wall.
“Woop!” She dove into one of the other men. He screamed in surprise and fell backward against another other wall of lockers as Mari clawed at his jumpsuit to avoid touching the floor.
She noticed his companion aim with a darts gun just in time to pull up her man’s arm to block a shot.
“You shot me!”
His companion aimed again as Mari whipped out her spare lantern from the belly pocket of her jumpsuit and chucked it at the man’s head. By luck, it clipped him in the eye, knocking his head back.
“Oh! Uh! Head’s up!” She was squatting on the torso of her now stunned man, and managed to wrench a darts gun from his hand. She shot two darts into the companion’s chest as soon as her arm was raised.
Breathing hard, Mari waited to see the leader round the corner. When that didn’t happen, she waited to hear the glassy shuffle of his movements; but all she could hear was her own heavy breathing.
“Hello?” Then silently, “Is he still here?”
Sieffre ducked his head in from around the corner before casually walking to her, hands in pocket, his leather shoes silently passing over the glass
“He used his friends as stepping stones and ran out the second you rolled over the wall. Well, as well as you can run with that much glass in your feet.”
Mari let out a deep sigh of relief.
“Oh! And he took your coat.”