Ruby Red 12

Pain exploded in her foot, causing her to double over and cry out.  He had some kind of metal plate protecting that vital area.  Apparently she wasn’t the first one to think of getting away from a watchman like that.  Before she could fight through the pain and react, he was grabbing her wrists and closing the handcuffs on them.  She struggled as much as he could, but the watchman was more than a pretty face.  Muscle bulged against his uniform and it felt like she could easier bend the manacles than break his grip.

“Scrawny one aren’t you?  You urchins get skinnier every year.”

Dido was a little offended, despite the dire situation.  She’d never been called scrawny before.  Then she realized that she was covered in her thieving outfit and gear from head to toe.  Only her eyes were visible, and they were mostly shadowed by her hood.  Bull always said she looked like a boy when she wore this getup.  It seemed he was right.

“Not going to talk?  Alright, let’s see what you’ve stolen.”

Keeping her mouth shut was a struggle.  Any young man who ‘accidently’ got too close to her at the factory got a piece of her mind.  She concentrated on the badge.  Underneath the city crest the word ‘Scipio’ was barely visible in the dim light.  Officer Scipio’s wandering hands found the ruby right around the same time he realized something wasn’t right.  His hands shot off her body like he’d been burned and then he pulled the scarf down off her face.  His eyes were wide with shock.

“You’re just a girl.”

Dido resented that.  She was sixteen, which was pretty much a full grown woman down at the harbor.  And Officer Scipio couldn’t be older than eighteen.

“Watch it Skip.  I know a few ways to make you just a girl too.”

The harsh tone and threat coming from her innocent face was too much for Scipio—he took a couple steps back.  He must come from a pretty well-to-do family.  The poor grow up a lot quicker in Thage.  The sound of booted footfalls storming down the alley brought her mind back to the present.  All things considered, she’d rather be arrested than turned over to the Natouri guards.  As long as she didn’t get her hands lopped off, there was at least a chance she could escape from slavery in the mines.  The Natouri would just dump her body in the bay.

Maybe Scipio knew more about the world than his naïve reaction to her gender would make it seem, or maybe he saw the fear in her eyes.  He pulled the ruby off her and turned around, blocking the thugs’ view of her as best he could.  When the Natouri guards caught a glimpse of her behind Scipio anyway, she heard a few murderous threats whispered under their breath.  As the guards started to move forward, Scipio rested one hand very deliberately on his weapon.  The four brutes definitely noticed, a couple going so far as to grip their own weapons as well.

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