Chapter 9: Glass, Guns, and Achilles

Once this is over, he thought savagely, I am going back to Moscow and never coming back out. The others can have their bit beasts stolen twice over, I don’t care.

It was probably because his arms felt like they might snap in two from bracing himself up for so long on a windowsill in the middle of the night. Said windowsill was attached to a closed window and was maybe three inches wide.

And set into the east wall of a mansion.

Said mansion was aglow with its garden lights, which could have served as spotlights for how few shadows they had left for him.

Kai’s window just happened to be on the second floor in the only unlit, shadowing portion he had been able to find so far on the damn place. Luckily, ever bit of his pale skin had been painted over with leftover black Halloween paint he had found in Tyson’s room. Sure saved him time on finding something like it in town when he couldn’t be sure he wasn’t being followed (the Abbey made one paranoid as an extra freebie). He had dressed in black and covered his palms with black athletic tape.

He strained his head back over his shoulder. He had allowed his neck enough time to rest in order to get the cramp out of it. He could see the black wire along the windowsill where the security system ran. Now he just had to make sure of the angle…

Knees popping, he crouched as much as he dared, arms straining as his center of gravity leaned farther and farther out of the tiny windowsills reach. His fingers found the edge of the decorative window shutters. Fast as he could, he whipped out the same pocket knife Kenny had used earlier that day and stuck the sharp tip onto the farthest square pane of the window. With one agile twitch, the corner of the glass snapped loose. Old fashion mansions did have one perk.

Legs trembling and knees screaming now, he dropped the knife on the sill, plucked the stretched out coat hanger being held to his arm by his wrist band, and eased it in. From here on out, he had to move by feel and memory, and hopefully not pull up the wire instead of the latch.

Sweat prickled down his forehead. He bit the side of his mouth so hard he tasted blood.

He was out of practice. But then, he had also had to improvise. Improvise a lot.

It was a good thing Ray hadn’t come. What a whole bag of nightmares that would have been. But, as fortune would have it, he had been scheduled to have the delicate bones of his ears repaired, as they had simply become dislocated. Even so, after the girl had painfully traced out the map for him and wrote down all she knew of the security system, Ray insisted Kai remain with them. Kai said nothing. He just left. After all, he had never meant to give anyone the impression that anyone could order him around, for better or for worse.

Those big blue eyes, unclouded by messy hair or a too big, ratty hoodie, had pled with him not to go as well. Her voice had been shocked out, and the doctor’s had predicted at least a few days before it would return in any amount. Even if she could have come, her greatest weapon was out of commission.

The window behind him gave a little click. His breath hitched, but the night remained quiet. Dropping the wire, he eased himself up and used the heel of his boot to lift the window open, lowered himself again, and back stepped into the opening, using his calves and hips to wedge it open large enough for the rest of him to get in.

The last thing he did before shutting and locking it was retrieve his knife from the ledge. After taking a quick glance at his surroundings (it looked like he had dropped into an unoccupied bedroom), he slipped out Ayah’s map again just to recheck his location. She was no artist, but at least she had remember which side of the house the sun rose on, and you couldn’t go too amiss with squares and lines.

Making sure to roll his steps from heel to toe, he weaved his way around the four poster bed and found the doorknob via the glow of the lights outside. No light came from beneath the door, but as he eased it open and slipped out, he found the hallway to be dimly lit by a light coming from around the corner. He could hear voices. Following the map in his head, he eased himself towards the light and the voices, praying the door would be mostly shut.

It wasn’t. But the speakers were out of view, which mean he was most likely out of view as well. He darted past without any change in their voices.

“—there are only so many legal ways to force someone’s hand, and I know you have no problem with the law, but I do.”

“Which is hilarious, if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask you. Point being, if there could just be some way we could get Ayah in the same room as him as he beybattles—”

“And what? I’ve lost the sonoblade, and it isn’t like we can just sneak another into the hands of whoever is lucky enough to battle him.”

Kai had moved out of hearing range from the conversation. He was more or less sure they were talking about him, but he couldn’t care less about hanging around to listen to their idiotic plans. The light from the room fell away as he turned another corner and stepped along the open balcony of a large, open foyer, lit only by dimmed lights in the corner. The huge crystal chandelier glittered serenely in the faint light, and Kai inwardly braced himself. Large spaces either swallowed noise or enhanced it, and based off of how many hard surfaces were in here to bounce off the noise, it would be the later.

He kept to the wall as he strained to see below. According to her map, the orbs would be in a hidden basement behind the library bookcase on the first floor. Unoriginal, yes, but classy enough. At least you didn’t have to pull a certain book or a statue to open the door.

Without detecting any living below, Kai moved quickly. He never let his eyes lay still, looking everywhere for signs of life as well as hiding places should he detect them. As he reached the grand staircase that poured down into the foyer, he leapt onto a banister and slid silently down. Stairs were for suckers.

It wasn’t till he crossed the elegant tiled floors and entered into the darkness of what could only be the library just off the foyer that it began to bother him how little resistance he had met. Sure these were only bitbeasts to the rest of the world, but usually anyone who went to the extreme to steal their’s thought them pretty important. Important enough to protect with more than just a home security system, lights, and a few paltry security guards.

Course, he wasn’t to the tough part yet.

He couldn’t read the titles in the low light. Thus, after checking behind him, he slipped out a tiny, LED keychain flashlight and flicked it on to the spines. He strained for any noise as he scanned the titles with half an eye, the other to the doorway. It was as nice a library as one would expect in a mansion. Ceiling to floor bookshelves on every wall, a large fireplace, arm chairs and sofas for reading in the corners, and the carpet felt springy beneath his boot. Since it was only the size of your average garage, however, Kai wasn’t impressed. His own library was three times this size, if that. If he could attribute any positive to his grandfather’s childrearing abilities, it would be a respect and appreciation of books.

Alice in Wonderland flickered beneath the light. He grabbed it, along with the books on either side, and pulled them out. Sure enough, just as she said there would be, a retina scanner and keypad was on the other side.

He sighed to himself as he wiggled out a 12 volt battery, some thin wire, and a piece of gum. He chewed on the gum quickly as he also pulled out some simple scotch tape and set a few strips over the keys. Then, finally leaving his attention from the door, he spat out the gum, stuck the curved end of the wire in it, and curled the loose strands about the spring side of the battery. Then, putting the flashlight in his mouth, he set the gum against the eye scanner and pulled off the scotch tape, revealing fingerprints on the sticky sides. He lined up which buttons went with each fingerprint on the tape. The buttons six, five, two, and nine had been pressed. So it would be a combination of those four. After an experimental random push of the buttons, he got (from the blinking red light of error), that the combination had only four numbers in it.

Lucky day.

Careful to keep the last free bit of wire from touching the battery (since he had to hold it in his fingers as the gum was just gum, not super sticker for batteries), he tried the numbers. On the third try, the light flash green, and the retinal scanner started to glow.

That’s when he completed the circuit.

These scanners were terrible sensitive, after all.

It flashed, hissed, and flickered off. There was a soft ‘beep’ and a latch unhooked. But as the door started to open, the engine that did so turned on with a rumbling growl. His heart jumped to his throat.

You’d think these fools would have the money to buy a high quality door!

The back of his neck prickling, he only waited long enough for the bookcase to slide open enough for him to squeeze through before he was sprinting—almost falling down a metal set of stairs, flashlight still held in his mouth. A safety light flickered on, but he hardly paid it any mind.

At the foot of the steps, the room Ayah had termed as ‘her room’ on the map spread before him.

What he saw gave the insides of his chest a nasty, painful jerk.

A giant incubator tube, large enough to hold a human, stood to one corner, filled with gently glowing green liquid. It had a base covered in buttons, and on the other side of it were walls of monitors, flanked by blinking computer towers and a few keyboards. On the opposite side of the room to his immediate right, and which he had to pass in order to reach the door he’d have to go into, was nothing other than a cage the size of a very small room. Inside was a pallet of a yoga mat and quilts on the floor and a bucket, which from the smell as he passed, was the ‘bathroom.’

Evil scientist. Or, perhaps, just very rich hobbyists who didn’t really know what they were doing.

The rumble of the bookcase’s engine finally quieted just as he reached the door and found yet another keypad, though no retinal scanner. He tried the code for upstairs first, but it failed, and with a groan he yanked out the scotch tape again.

He had just pulled it back and matched up the keys when he heard a thud that echoed down the staircase. Clenching his teeth, he unhooked his launcher with one hand while the other tried out combinations.

The light flashed green and he was in. Heart in his mouth, he closed the door behind him, and not too soon as the automatic safety lights flickered on.

There, in the middle of the room in just a plastic container on a table, were the orbs. Tyson’s blue-grey marble, what must have been Max’s purple glass, and finally Ray’s green jade. Tyson’s and Max’s glowed the faintest purple and blue.

He swiped them up in one hand and stuffed them into his pockets. Then, with steady fingers, he loaded up Dranzer and readied himself, blade aimed for the doorway.

It didn’t take super hearing to catch the footsteps on the other side. So much for his plan of unscrewing the harddrives from the computers for Kenny. Poor guy would be so disappointed.

“We know you are in here,” said a very familiar woman’s voice. Kai smiled. “Come out now and we won’t call the police.”

It would actually be better if they did call the police. Kai didn’t want them to bleed to death.

“Well, since ‘now’ essentially ran out…”

Just open the damn door.

The footsteps came up to the door. The keypad bleeped.

A roll of heat ran up his arm. Dranzer coiled within her blade, ready to spring.

The door opened with a burst of light—

His arm pulled back in the movement he knew better than breathing, fast as light—his navy blade shot out in a blur—

The scrawny woman and an older, dark, middle aged man shrieked in surprised pain as the calves of their backmost legs snapped back towards their knee, their Achilles tendon cut clean.

Kai ignored the blood. He shoved out between them, following the blur of his blade, and ever thankful that Tyson had kept that stupid ski-mask from his infamous door-bell ditch scheme. It wouldn’t do to have them recognize him.

A mess of profanities and curses followed him up the steps, though they didn’t manage to make any sounds that signified alerting someone until he had already made it to the top.

The mansion was coming alive. The sleepy lights of the parlor now blazed like the noon day sun, exploding the chandelier with rainbows and sparks. Feet thudded in the expanse, echoed by the halls.

Taking a sharp left, he ducked into what Ayah’s map had said to be some sort of sitting room, though it turned out to be more of an office.

Dranzer whirled in and launched at the window like a bullet, closely followed by Kai.

The shatter was tremendous. Glass edges pulled over his skin like reluctant fingertips.

And he was out, rolling into the spot-light lit grass. His blade whizzed circles about him.

Fortunately, he had managed to pop out into an area not being immediately patrolled by a human body. He did hear several shouts in the not-so-far distance at his appearance, however, and allowed no pause in throwing aside the chair and springing to his feet. He flew across the grassy expanse, into the foliage, leapt up the wall and threw himself over with the force of his momentum. He rolled as he landed just to be running flat out once more, his blade still spinning alongside him. He’d need her out in case any other Achilles tendons got in his way.

Sure enough, the sound of a car engine roared up from within the grounds. As he scaled yet another wall of the neighboring suburb, the car squealed about in the street out front and bodies jumped out. Smirking despite himself, he ran along the wall top in the opposite direction and deeper into the shadows, beyblade leading the way.

And then the unmistakable sound of a bullet cracked on the stone beneath his feet.

Kai uttered a curse. How the hell had they gotten a hold of guns?

There was no avoiding it now. Pivoting on the spot, he jumped. Dranzer whizzed beneath him, and he manage to land with perfect balance.

He could see the shooters in the streetlights, rifle barrels set over the roof of their car.

It was no use. Dranzer wouldn’t reach them in time. She was fast, but she had never been faster than a bullet.

In a desperate attempt to avoid what he knew was coming, Kai dropped off the wall. A crack rent the air, a thunderclap of pain burst along his side, and the earth knocked the air from his lungs.

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