Clyde’s partner and Officer Scipio both turned toward the thug. Their eyes followed his outstretched finger to where Dido was slithering through the crowd to the back door. Both men took off after her, elbowing through the crowd.
They were stronger than her, and as the crowd got more tightly packed, they had an easier time forcing their way through. Giving up on the door, Dido grabbed an outstretched arm and swung under it to get to a window. Stepping up on a table, she ran right through the window. Broken glass spilled out into the sunlight.
It was as bright as it ever was by the docks, so the glass didn’t exactly sparkle in the smog-deadened sun, but it did glint. The shards of reflected light fell away from Dido towards the ground. Soon she was joining their downward plummet. Five stories was high up, and she’d dove out into empty space.
Dido didn’t spare a glance for the ground. She kept her eyes focused ahead of her. Stretching out to both sides was a wall of canvas. It was the side of a massive blimp. Stenciled across it were the words: “Always Buy Cloud 9 Aether.”
Dido pointed one arm right at the sign, using her free hand to push a button on the end of a cylinder strapped to her arm. With a pop followed by a long hiss, a grappling hook shot right at the ‘C’ in Cloud. Trailing behind the metal claw was a thin cord. Dido’s brother Hannibal had built the contraption. This was the second time it was saving her from capture, or worse.
The grapple punched right through the thick canvas. Dido kept falling, and as the cord pulled tight, she held her breath. When it went taut, the grapple claws dug into the oiled fabric. The metal tore a few inches along the canvas, but then it stuck and held.
Dido’s body wrenched through the air as the cord forced a sudden change of direction. She swung right toward the wooden deck hanging under the blimp. She pulled her legs underneath her. Inches from the railing, she shot out over the deck, past the bewildered and angry faces of the crew.
Buildings reached out to grab her. Her feet skipped over loose shingles, sending a couple twisting towards the street below. Just when Dido got her footing, the line pulled tight as the airship continued down the street.
The ship dragged her along the rooftops, her shoes slipping over weatherworn tiles. Dido pulled a knife out of her belt and sawed at the cord. It was all she could do to keep her feet underneath her. The last few strands of the cord twisted apart and then snapped. She was free.
The frayed end of the cord twisted in the wind. Sailors on the deck of the airship shook their fists at her. Her grappling hook was still stuck in the blimp. The hole was leaking small, white puffs of Aether that hung in the air behind the ship.