Emerald Green 20

Dido looked up to see the Collector gripping her forearm.  Terror was still strangling her voice, so she thanked him with her eyes.  He didn’t say anything either, just started swinging her back and forth.

Momentum built, rising along with sounds above their heads.  They didn’t have long.  Her right hand gripped the nearby rock wall.  She was pulled right back off as they swung out again, but on the second pass she got a firm grip and wedged her one remaining heel into a crevice.  Her left arm twitched from the effort, but she managed to pull the Collector into reach of the cliff just as they cut the grapple line above.  The cord slapped Dido’s back as it spiraled down into the city below.

Dido and the Collector kept their bodies pressed into the cliff face.  They heard voices above asking if they’d fallen with the rope, but it was a dark night under the ever-present smoke.  They’d have to send someone down to check.

When the voices drifted away, Dido risked speaking.

“They’ll send someone down to investigate.”

“We’ll need to be gone by then,” the Collector said.

“Not that it matters much whether they get me, or Sturgeon does.”

“We’ll figure something out,” he said.

“We?  You’re the one who got me into this mess.”

“In my defense, I had no way of knowing that your city watch boyfriend was actually good at his job.”  The perpetual smile slipped and the Collector actually got serious, maybe for the first time.  “I will help you get out of this.”

“If you do, I might just kiss you.”  The only reaction Dido had to his seriousness was a joke of her own.

“I don’t have the emerald to give you, so I don’t get a date.  That sounds like a good consolation prize.”

The climb down gave Dido time to think.  Not enough time to make sense of everything that’d happened though.  Her life had been saved by two men tonight, Officer Scipio and the Collector.  The fact that she wouldn’t have even been in danger to begin with without the two of them wasn’t lost on her either.

The Collector bandaged her hand and stayed with her long enough to make sure her nerves were steady, then turned to go.

“How will I find you?” Dido asked.

“Just haunt your way across some rooftops and I’ll find you, Ghost.”

He leapt to a neighboring building and disappeared into the shadows.

“Boo,” Dido said, to no one in particular.

The night swallowed her up, and a lonely shadow drifted over rooftops towards the Docks, toward home.

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