Legends of Moebius-9, Milo's Escape
A once-vibrant neon sign, now dark and irrelevant, towered over Liz as she perched on the edge of an abandoned building. Cracks disseminated from the corners and edges of the structure, exposing dark caverns of cold concrete.
Hardly noticeable against an even darker sky, Liz peered through a pair of night-vision bifocals. One hand gripped a shaky railing while the other tucked a strand of wavy violet hair behind her ear.
Rain slapped her back without mercy, each drop viciously warning her to turn back. She wiped her brow in protest and squinted harder, scanning the street below. Across the pavement stood a narrow alleyway (one of the few that remained on the outskirts of the Washington D.C metro area).
Occupying the entrance were two men. One was armed with a bat, the other with a short lead pipe that bent ever so slightly at the far end, signaling prior use. The unmistakable mark of the Collector Elite was tattooed in the center of their smoothly shaven heads, their devout allegiance to The Chosen unashamedly permanent.
Liz stepped down from the threshold she had been crouching on and pushed her bifocals upward to her forehead. From her pocket, she withdrew a small tracking device no larger than her palm. A dim green screen briefly lit up her face as she glanced down at a small map. A maze of streets cluttered the screen, save for a small blinking dot that revealed her location. She turned it off and shoved it back into her jacket.
The cold rain bit at her skin and fingers with every passing moment, but Liz was still sweating with dread. She had made it to The Chosen’s only known entrance, a secret religious group that promised digital ascension to its followers. And while she was more than capable, she was about to pass the point of no return — and she trembled.
A few minutes passed before she finally found courage. Taking a deep breath, she slid out of sight from the vigilant eyes below and moved toward the middle of the rooftop. The bulkiness of her shoes suddenly reminded her of what she came here to do. Thanks to some modifications she had made, the underside of her shoes gave a slight blue glow on the wet concrete as she knelt to prime each compressor.
Once she had fully charged them, she uncoiled a small electrical wire from her right pocket. From the side where the wire split in two, she attached a small connector to the sole of each foot. The wires led to a small button that she held tightly in her hand.
Shifting into a running start position, she closed her eyes and whispered a quick prayer, paused a moment to gather her focus, and then bolted forward as fast as she could.
Her shoes hit the rooftop with such force that, for a second, she worried that the men below might hear her. But her caution was soon overtaken by adrenaline as the gap in the railing came up fast. Her foot caught the edge of the building and, without thinking, she pressed the button. Every bone in her body shook as the charge was released. A small sound came from her shoes as she launched into the air, but it was hardly noticeable among the ongoing torrent of rain.
As she sailed nearly 100 feet above the street, time slowed. The skyline and close surrounding buildings, quietly content to just be themselves, looked almost peaceful as she gazed at them, and her mind began to wonder.
She remembered how the rain used to put her to sleep at night when she was a kid, the ragged apartment she spent most of her childhood in, how her mother worked 2 jobs and 20 hours a day, how she would ask why mother worked so much, and how her mother would just pat her head and say, “because I love you that much,” then kiss her on the forehead before lying down to sleep.
Liz would spend most of her long days pretending that she wasn’t alone, an armful of moldy teddy bears all she had to keep her company. A broken window in her room would let in a staunch metallic smell from a nearby semiconductor plant, mixed with wet grass and dirt, so that she always associated the smell of industry with being at home. And even though her mother always said she would fix it, she never did. Eventually she worked herself into exhaustion, leaving Liz more alone than she ever knew she could feel.
Her heart was pierced again as she realized how sad it all was, and she wondered if her life would ever truly be free from the pain of it all.
The memories vanished as quickly as they came, however, as the next building’s rooftop came rapidly upon her. Bracing herself, she landed in a silent roll as her feet met the surface. She held still, holding her breath; listened intently for the slightest clue that her presence had been betrayed.
Nothing but the rain.
A slight grin spread across her face and she reveled in a moment of triumph, allowing it to soothe her pain and remind her of how far she had come. After adjusting her hair once more, she unhooked the wires and stuffed them back into her jacket. Pulling out her tracking device, Liz started walking further into Chosen territory, more determined than ever to form her own destiny and save Milo from certain death.