Emerald Green 19

Only one wall of the viewing room had windows.  Throwing the curtains open, Dido saw nothing but open space.  The museum was perched at the edge of the hill in the middle of Thage.  Looking down it seemed more like a small mountain.  Those who could afford it, like the Mechanists, lived up here away from the worst of the factory smoke.

The Collector pulled one of the tapestries down around Scipio’s head.  The watchman struggled to get free.  Taking one last look at the Emerald of Lorn, Dido said, “Get over here.”

The Collector scooped up the pedestal, and Dido barely had time to wonder why before she was ducking under it.  She stood back as he kicked out the rest of the glass.

“The emerald…”

“Sorry Ghost,” he said.  “We need to get out of here.”

Museum guards poured into the room just as Scipio managed to get out from under the tapestry.  Dido stuck her head out the window and looked up.

“You’re all under arrest,” one of the guards said.

“I’m city watch,” Scipio said.  The guards looked less than impressed.

“We can sort all that out later,” the guard said.  “Right now, you’re coming with us.”

The other guardsmen raised what at first Dido thought were staves or clubs.  Then she saw they had a hole at one end.  Those were blunderbusses.  Hannibal had gone through a phase about a year back where he had to know everything about them.  He’d even tried to get her to steal one.  They were heavily regulated.  The Mechanists wouldn’t even let the rich cartel families buy them.

Dido and the Collector were the ones trying to escape, so all the weapons pointed in their direction.  Dido knew she only had one advantage.  They took a couple seconds to fire.  She winced as she tore her beautiful dress up her thigh.  Disguised in the folds was a metal cylinder, the pneumatic grappling hook.

There wasn’t any time to strap it to her arm properly.  One of the guards had already pulled the trigger.  Fire and smoke flared up in a small chamber on top of the blunderbuss, quickly burning down.  The rest of the weapons lit up as well.  Dido slapped one end of the grappling hook in the Collector’s hand and shouted, “Hang on.”

She threw herself backwards, carrying them both out into the night.  Explosions and fire tore after them through the window.  Whistling followed close behind.  Dido knew the sound was from tiny metal balls fired by the blunderbusses, flying faster than the eye could see.

Twisting, she saw Officer Scipio had knocked a couple of the blunderbusses off target.  There wasn’t time to think about that.  Dido aimed the grappling hook at a balcony and fired.  Air exploded out, taking the hook with it.

Fear overpowered everything.  If she missed now…  The grappling hook twisted through the air, the cord spiraling out behind it.  The metal claw overshot the balcony.  Dido and the Collector kept falling.  The cord pulled tighter and tighter.  With a clang, the hook caught on something on its way back down.  The cord snapped taught and Dido’s arms screamed in their sockets.

Her hand was slick with blood from where she’d cut it on her crowbar and suddenly the grappling hook was slipping right through her fingers.  She started to scream, but a second jolt ran through her body and cut her off.

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