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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 22: Brown 106
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Previous chapter: Chapter 21: Slade 99
It worked. Ferris landed lightly on the roof of the building, and waved a hand back to the others. It was time to go to work. He checked his pockets and the apron, making sure he could reach the things he was likely to need.
The first step was to get inside the roof door and into the stairwell. The difficulty here was that he had very little skill at picking locks; this was something Bob could do easily, but he was only just learning. He wished he could use his clairvoyance to see into the tumblers, and his telekinesis to manipulate them, as he had when he was a sprite, but in this world he probably could not see without his eyes, and did not know whether he could get so much as a nudge from the TK. He would have to overcome the difficulty with the lock picks he had only recently learned to use.
That left the danger. The danger was that this door, too, would be watched. It could be wired or trapped; there could be an alarm on it. There were guards on the doors downstairs; there could be one here, as well. He hoped that he had the advantage of surprise, at least. After all, he had landed here without much noise; he was smaller and lighter than a paratrooper, and had managed the jump from a very short distance. It was to be hoped that they were not alerted to his presence on the roof. If he got away with that, he might open the door before they were aware of him. That was important, because he could not hold his darts while picking the lock, so he would need at least a moment after the door started opening to switch to a weapon.
Carefully and quietly he worked on the lock; it was a challenging lock, certainly, but nothing like the high security doors on which he'd recently trained, and there was no rush, really. Taking his time, he felt the tumblers shift into place, and moved the lock ever so slowly.
He pulled the door open, his right hand still holding the picks while his left hand drew out one of his darts. The stairs here were clear; there was maybe half a flight down to a landing, where a door was propped open by a chair, on which sat a man, reading a magazine, a gun lying on his lap.
It was an interesting question, an interesting challenge, really. Ferris could throw the dart from here, but it was a long shot for a dart and the target could quickly take cover, hold him at bay, and possibly call for help if he missed. He could walk down the steps as quietly as possible to try to get a better shot; but even closing the door could be the sound that gave him away. Further, every moment that that door remained open was another moment during which the man might realize it. There was no time to consider this in detail.
He jumped again, floating on his wings over the stairs. A moment later the door banged behind him, and the guard looked up. Ferris took advantage of the sudden clear target of face and neck, and threw the dart.
The man was clearly startled; but he also appeared frightened and confused. He started to stand, started to raise his gun, but the drug was already taking effect. His knees buckled, and he collapsed to the floor. Ferris sailed through the door above him and alighted on the rug of an office reception area. He had cleared the first hurdle.
The next objective was to get to the ground floor, disable the guard at the back door, and let his team inside. It was tempting to try to fly down the stairs; but the switchbacks would be difficult, and Ferris' wings were not so strong as Morach's. If he became the sprite, he could probably ignore the stairs entirely and flutter back and forth over the railings; but he would have to leave his darts here. He could probably bring down any terrorists with the drugged arrows; but could he open the door at the bottom? Once he became Morach, there was no going back at least until his team brought his supplies. It would be best to remain Ferris for as long as possible.
If he was going to be Ferris, and he wasn't going to attempt to glide the entire depth of the building, it made some sense to pick up weapons while he had the chance. He checked his victim. The gun was a cheap fully automatic rifle, and there was an extra clip for it. The man also had a knife. Derek's first weapon had been a knife–a butcher knife, but the principles were similar, and he'd both killed and died on that knife. Otherwise, there was little of importance. He was dressed in ordinary clothes but for a protective vest which was not completely camouflaged by the shirt over it. His identification was unrevealing, and the keys in his pocket looked ordinary. There was a radio, but it was damaged when the man fell on it.
Ferris took the gun, with the extra ammo, and the knife. He strapped the knife to the apron, dropped the clip in his pocket, and returned to the stairwell with the gun in his good left hand.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #226: Versers Adapt. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: