Belinda escaped down the stairs, taking them two at a time, her pursuers too close for comfort. She ran through the 'Employees only' door and made a sliding hard right turn careening off a stack of boxes. She hoped none would fall making it that much more difficult for them to know which way she went. Panting only a little as she made another right out into the store's sales floor she shifted right one aisle and stopped. She took her coat off and, struggling to get her breathing under control, pretended to be interested in the scented candles. In truth, there was very little in the whole store that interested her. Crafts just weren't her thing.
She heard her pursuers come back into the store muttering amongst themselves that she couldn't possibly have disappeared that quickly. Belinda sent a quiet prayer of thanks to the Gods as the clicking of their toenails receded. She continued to study the candles as if her life depended on them being there. In essence that wasn't far from the truth - the essential oils they were infused with helped hide her scent from those following her. Oil-based scents tended to overwhelm the ability of canids to discern one scent from another. It was one reason that using the enhanced canines led to such mixed results. 
After another 10 minutes of studying the candles Belinda decided it was time to move on. She kept her coat slung over her arm rather than wearing it out of the store. The lower level of the mall was moderately busy - just enough to keep her from being too obvious while not quite so busy as to prevent her from being able to hear the canids if they approached. She picked a direction and walked slowly as if examining the goods on display. To hurry would only cal attention to herself. And while she had shaken the canids through a stroke of luck, she didn't trust that they weren't accompanied by other .... assets. She eventually made her way to the mall's exit doors and hoped that they didn't have enough ... assets ... to cover all the doors. Luck was with her again as an empty autocab came by just as she exited. Taking the cab meant leaving her 'cycle at the mall. She couldn't risk going back for it. She gave the cab an address and sat back finally feeling that she was safe, at least for a little while. She might have even napped a bit as the cab wended its way to her destination.
She awoke with a start when the cab came to a stop. She stopped herself as she was about to slide her credit card. She dug around in her bag for cash knowing that if she used her card, the cartel would know within minutes. They were big and had eyes and ears, human and electronic, everywhere. She knew that it was almost inevitable that they'd eventually catch up with her but she wasn't going to give up without making them work for it. If she attracted more of their ... assets ... that meant there were that many fewer to track other people she worked with. She hated being the red herring but it was her turn to do it. And only the best were asked to do it.
Belinda pushed through the fifty-fourth floor door of the sanctuary's waiting lounge and collapsed into the nearest seat. It had been far too long since she'd had some real rest. She hoped the hop to Jackson's Star would give her some time to rest. Knowing her luck with such things her boss would want to spend the time debriefing. She sighed and put her feet up. Might as well take advantage of the time she had now. She didn't know where or when the saying had come from but it was still ever so true. Never pass up an opportunity to eat, sleep, or... Well, you get the idea.
Several hours later she awoke to an insistent beeping and a voice that wouldn't stop. It was the PA system telling her she was already late for the spaceport. Grumbling and half asleep she bolted for the elevator that would take her down to street level and the escalator that reached the subterranean levels of the city. Once there, the slidewalk network and some serious running got her to the appropriate shuttle pad in time to make the launch. The trip up through the atmosphere was bumpy and uncomfortable. Her lateness had relegated her to the rear-most seat, the spot that guaranteed you'd need a chiropractor by the end of the ride. The silence and  stillness of space was a welcome respite. 

Posted by