Run, Liliyet: Episode Two

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Run Liliyet - Empire Universe

So, Liliyet Ran

A thousand questions pounded through Liliyet’s head. She was swirling with fear. Who left the note? Was it a trap? Who were they? What did they know? How did they know it? Why would someone try to help her? Were they really helping her?

She took a breath.

Calm yourself, she thought.

It didn’t matter who they were or how they knew. It didn’t matter who had warned her. What mattered was that she wasn’t safe and needed to get to safety. Fast.

You had to be ready for a quick exit in her particular line of work.

But she wasn’t wholly prepared. She had yet to deal with the cash she’d received from last night’s conquest: a duffel bag full of crisp, new sovereigns. Her original plan of meeting her contact in the black market would have to wait, but it meant she’d be lugging two bags around with her: her go bag, a backpack filled with all the things she needed to make a quick getaway, and the satchel full of neatly packed 100-sovereign notes. So much money wasn’t light and made her more conspicuous than she’d like to be under the circumstances.

But there was nothing to be done about it just yet. She’d work on solving that problem next. For now, she had to focus on getting out of her tiny apartment.

She grabbed the go-bag from the hiding spot in the wall she’d made when she first leased the rat-trap apartment. Just as quickly, she moved across the room to the closet where she’d stashed her duffle full of money. She grabbed an outfit for the day from the closet and quickly put it on. She grabbed another outfit and threw it into the bag with the money. She knew she’d have to change her clothes multiple times if she was going to make her getaway.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. A reasonable, measured knock.

A voice on the other side of the door spoke in a clear, bright way.

Madame Copland? It’s Detectives Summerfeld and Brightmorning from the Complex Investigations Taskforce. We have a couple of questions for you.

This was helpful information. The Complex Investigations Taskforce wasn’t your average squad of detectives. They were Cascadia’s best. They were known for tackling the most difficult cases.

They’d also used the name she’d given the landlord for her lease, not one of her other aliases. Not a name she’d used to commit a crime. Not a name pressed officially into the fake documents of her go bag.

She had a decision to make.

Run, or talk with them?

This might have been simply a first visit they’d pay to her. A visit to rattle her cage and get her to make a mistake. But the hour made that unlikely. This was early for a civil servant. Too early to be routine.

No, it was too remote a possibility and too much of a risk.

She had to run.

Quickly, quietly, like the mice that ran around her apartment in the dark, she moved toward the window with the fire escape.

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There was another knock at the door. More insistent this time.

Madame Copland, we just need a few minutes of your time.

Liliyet opened the window carefully, slipped out, closed it behind her and like a sprite in the night, she was out and down the escape.

It was an old building, and truthfully, the escape was a dangerous place to be. Cascadia, the land of hope, had more than its fair share of corruption, and Liliyet imagined that there was some backroom deal between the building enforcement department and this particular slumlord. Cascadia offered to house everybody, but that didn’t mean the housing was all luxury options. The city was full of buildings like this that desperately needed maintenance, but enforcement looked the other way. As she daintily made her way down the rusted stairs, this thought ran through her head.

She stepped on the last rung of the escape, which instantly gave way underneath her. She felt herself fall and then slam hard against concrete. Dazed, it took her a moment to catch her breath from the fall. There was pain everywhere. Her knee had slammed hard into the ground, but her satchel full of money had broken the brunt of her fall.

She stood tentatively like a newborn horse would, teetering and almost falling. The pain in her knee was searing, but she could stand. She could walk. She gathered herself and started off.

That’s when she heard the same robust female voice above her shout. She’s running, alert dispatch.

So, Liliyet ran.