Theresa landed in a roll and stayed low, the constant crack of gunfire overhead encouraged this further. Crawling through the stock room she reached the shop’s back door. Despite its bullet-riddled surface, the locking mechanism looked unharmed.
Theresa swore under her breath. She moved so she could kick at the door without getting up and slammed both her heels into it. The door didn’t budge.
Theresa forced herself to remain calm. There had to be a way out, between the rock of the door and the hard place of the goons, there had to be a way to slip out the middle.
The crunch of plexiglass crystals told her the Order’s men had stepped into the building. Theresa stilled her breathing and got up off the floor. She turned to face the Order’s goons and stood right up, her hands in the air.
“There she is.” One of them yelled.
Theresa quickly ducked back out of view. The sudden movement startled the goons and they opened fire again. Having moved into the close-confines of the store they’d set their rifles to ‘Hammer’ and blast after blast flew in Theresa’s direction.
The hammer-blasts tore fist-sized chunks out of the back door, Theresa waited for another lull in the shooting and rammed her shoulder into it. The battered plasterboard yielded easily, allowing her to tumble into the back alley.
Theresa rolled out of the way of the door and was up and running before they could resume fire. Sprinting full-tilt down the alley she frantically glanced around for some means of escape. The Order’s goons would be through the shop and back in line of sight any moment now.
Then Theresa noticed an old fire escape on the apartment block up ahead. She poured on the speed, jumped up, kicked off the wall and grabbed hold of the ladder’s lowest rung. The locking mechanism held despite its age and she scrambled up the railing and vaulted up onto the balcony.
Down below the goons burst into the alley, their weapons pointed in all directions. Theresa raced up the stairs to the roof. Another couple of seconds and she’d be out of sight.
But the movement caught the eye of one of the goons and he opened fire at her. Theresa dashed up the last few steps, jumped up to grab the ledge of the roof and hoisted herself over as the Order’s bullets tore up the brick around her.
Theresa hit the roof running, covering the length of the apartment building in seconds and leaping across the next broadwalk to the row of townhouses opposite it, much to the surprise of the pedestrians underneath. Theresa landed, rolled out and was back to sprinting with only a second’s loss.
Then the hum of speeder engines reached Theresa’s ears and she looked up. Swinging around behind her was another civilian people-mover. The side door was already open, something the Order’s mechanics must have modified its safety protocols to allow. Waiting in the open doorway, leaning casually in the rushing air was a black man decked out in running shoes, cargo pants with armoured knees and hips, a padded motorcycle jacket and black military cap. He slipped off his sunglasses as the speeder moved in closer and stashed them in his pocket.
Recognition flashed in Theresa’s eyes and she cursed. He was the Order’s top freerunner, they called him The Interceptor.
The Interceptor jumped out of the speeder and landed on the townhouse rooftops. Like Theresa he landed in a roll and was up and sprinting in the next moment.
Theresa changed direction and leapt right off the two storey townhouse and down to the roof of a parked speeder before rolling off and hitting the street below, her own armoured jacket protecting the places her acrobatics training could not.
The speeder circled around to keep her in sight. The Interceptor followed her route exactly, jumping off the speeder’s roof to join her on the street.
Theresa turned down a trash-strewn alley and dashed to the end. Noticing the dead end looming before her Theresa scanned her surroundings without slowing down. In an instant she took in the chain-link fence at the end, the wheelie-bins lining one wall and the stray milk crate beside them.
Theresa jumped again, stepping stoned over the milk-crate to reach the wheelie-bins and from there up to the top of the chain-link fence. She grabbed at the fence, laced her fingers in between the wire mesh, kicked off the side and vaulted over the top. Just barely missing the dumpster on the other side.
The Order’s speeder roared overhead, but Theresa couldn’t yet see it for the rooftops. Behind her the Interceptor rounded the corner to the alley and charged down after her.
She pressed herself up against the side of another civilian speeder parked outside a townhouse and looked around. Moving quickly she slipped off her jacket and reversed the sleeves, swapping her olive-drab for black. She threw the jacket back on, zipped it up and pulled the hood over her head before emerging from behind the speeder with a passing family. As the Order’s speeder glided overhead she stuffed her hands into her pockets and slouched.
The Interceptor rushed out into the middle of the broadwalk and slowed down. He glanced around, worry and sweat breaking out on his face. Up above the speeder stopped in mid-air, like a cartoon character pulling a double-take. As Theresa crossed the street and continued down the far-end the speeder held its position before finally taking to the skies. The Interceptor cursed loudly and kicked a trash can.
In the shadow of her hood, Theresa grinned.