Ruby Red 13

Scipio tossed the ruby at the biggest and ugliest of the bunch.  He looked like the leader.  The guard fumbled and almost dropped it.  His eyes were shining with greed.  That ogre had better not take the gem for himself.  She’d stolen it fair and square.

“Return that to the master of your house,” Scipio said.  “As you can see, I have everything else under control.”

The leader of the gang pulled his eyes away from the ruby long enough to notice that everyone was staring at him, expecting him to talk.  His accent was a little slice of home.  He must have grown up near her neighborhood.

“Why not just turn the little filcher over to us?  We’ll make sure he learns a proper lesson.”

Dido stayed as still as a mouse.  If they didn’t already know she was a woman, she didn’t want to give it away.  Scipio’s only answer was his continued glare.  His hand never left his weapon.

“Maybe we’ll just take ‘em anyway.  Our employer is very particular.  You understand.”

“My partner is rounding up backup right now.  If you want to stick around another minute, we can see how particular your employer is about posting your bail.”

So apparently Scipio had some bite to him after all.  The guards grumbled, especially the leader, but they quickly trudged back to the palazzo.  Dido was busy breathing a sigh of relief when Scipio grabbed her by one arm and hauled her to her feet.

“You saved me.  Who knows what those scary men would’ve done to me?  I should send flowers.”

Her batted eyelashes didn’t seem to have any effect on the watchman.

“Don’t go scheduling any deliveries just yet.  You’re still under arrest, but at least this way we can make sure you get a fair hearing.”

“Oh Skip, the flowers aren’t for you.  If those guards hadn’t been so intimidating, they wouldn’t have distracted you long enough for me to pick your cuffs.”

The clink of metal as Scipio’s shackles hit the ground was immediately followed by a small metal ball from Dido’s hand.  As it struck the cobblestones, there was a blinding flash of light and a jet of smoke.  Officer Scipio covered his face, but it was too late.  All he could see for a few moments were vague shapes flashing in a dozen different colors.  As his vision cleared, he waved the smoke away from his eyes.  The alley was completely deserted in every direction.  Placing his hands on his hips in frustration, he noticed the pouch on his belt where he kept his money was suspiciously empty.  Reaching in, he found the only thing inside was a hastily scribbled note.  He stepped over to a shaft of moonlight and read it aloud to the night with a rueful chuckle.

“For taking my ruby.”

Overhead, a shadow peeled away from a rooftop and started making its way back towards the harbor.

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