Part Seven – Never the Same Way Twice.
In which we see the government officials start on our heroes' trail.
Noel Rouse: junior reportorial secretary XII-66 of the Governmental Times, citizen number 7-038-451-97-m, current whereabouts unknown. Last seen at the Grand State City Imperial Theatre yesterday. If you know anything report to your nearest Government Agency immediately. Wanted: Dead or Alive.
They also included a picture of him and the general consensus was that he had killed Marco, though the announcement mentioned nothing of this. People could be so easily manipulated. The next day no-one remembered who Marco was.
"What shall we do with the bodies?" They'd hauled them all into one room now; the police officers sprawled across each other in a gory mass of carnage.
"Trash collection isn't till Tuesday."
They wiped their hands on handkerchiefs as they thought, then tucking the bloodied things back into their pockets.
The smell of blood was overpowering now but neither being seemed to notice as they pondered their problem.
"We'll send someone to pick them up later," they decided in the end. "Let's face it, they're not going anywhere." They shared the polite laugh of a little more than strangers and then faded back into the shadows.
"I presume you dealt with the incompetent fools in the Police Department?"
They nodded in unison. Nearly everything was done simultaneously, but the Government had created them and so this was no surprise.
"They are no longer in the City."
The two standing in the shadows said nothing, barely even moved except for another single nod to show that they were indeed listening.
"He cannot be allowed to reach Nobody, you have to intercept them before that. I will not allow Nobody to take another of my citizens."
They watched as it tapped ash onto the carpet. It rarely smoked but the last days had been particularly stressful and it felt better for the nicotine in its system, taking a long drag and leaning back against its desk. The two officials continued to wait silently.
"I will be in touch shortly."
They didn't promise to write, nor did it wish them a nice trip. It continued smoking, someone darting in every once in a while to empty the ashtray or to stop the carpet catching alight, and they walked back through the shadows.
No one tried to stop them as they entered the theatre. Quite frankly, no one was that stupid.
They paused inside, appearing to sniff the air and sharing a silent conversation before they made towards the stage. Unlike Noel they didn't pause, didn't duck behind seats, just ploughed through the place and woe betide you if you were in the way. They were waiting for nothing and no one.
The stage door whined as they wrenched it open, the stage giving a low moan and the curtains shivered. However, the officials were heartless, plunging down into the depths of the stage's core, blasting away the darkness and the closely-guarded histories with super-powered flashlights. They traced Noel's steps but no upside-down smile met them and they didn't see the chair or the lonely bulb. It was different now; it was normal.
Not to be put off, one of them put his flashlight on the floor, the beam wavering as he pulled a peculiar looking weapon from his jacket. It was a long, sword-shaped object, seeming to suck up the flashlight's illumination and begin to glow in the insipid, lifeless hands of the official. Without warning he swung it in a flashing arc, ripping through the wall. There was a groan, the overwhelming stench of pain filling the air but neither felt it. They were more interested in their handiwork, which had left the wall with a tear through it. A blue sliver was visible beyond it, dust shying away from the sight, swirling back and fading into the shadows.
They pushed through, the wall crying as they forced the hole bigger, the whole place shuddering. The moment they were out in the forest the wall juddered, crumbling away to invisibility. If you looked at it from the right angle you could just spy a slice of darkness amongst the trees, a fragment of the flashlight and its clinical beam. Other than that, no one would know anything had happened, except for the forest which whispered and waved at them menacingly. The officials paid them no attention, the sword-bearer sheathed his weapon and they began their slow glide through the trees.