Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Tensevn broke cover on the fourth floor landing and sprinted flat out across the entire expanse of the building, hurdling the refuse of a hundred years of vacancy to take refuge in the fire escape on the South side. Beneath and behind him he could feel and hear his pursuer’s weapon reach through the concrete floor slabs, reducing the iron rebar inside to molten liquid and vapour.

“Quit running puppet, you’re only wasting my time.” The voice amplified, modulated, designed to strike fear into the enemy. It just pissed T off.

The fire escape still tenaciously gripped the exterior of the building. T wasn’t sure he’d reach the fifth floor before it too was dripping down to the broken asphalt below.

He found a fist sized chunk of rubble, tossed it far into the middle of the room then took the stairs three at a time to the next floor just as the trooper below realized the distraction and brought his cannon to bear on the space he’d just vacated. The metal sublimated in a hot mist, leaving T panting in an open doorway with reentry his only option.

“You’re fast, little puppet, unnaturally fast. It’s a shame I have to eliminate you, it would be interesting to take you apart and learn how you tick.”

T scanned the gloom of the floor in front of him, the middle littered with furniture and old filing cabinets, vacant desks lining the outside walls where windows, once filled with glass and sunshine were now just so many gaping wounds in the old corporate facade.

Taking a deep breath, he started a slow jog around the perimeter. Beneath him, the trooper’s weapon whined to life and started tracing his path just a few steps behind him. He could feel the energy, even through two floors and so many meters of concrete, the effect was painful. His heart fluttered, his breathing laboured as the weapon made it harder for his blood to move oxygen from his lungs. He sped up, trying to keep just ahead of the beam as he ran a complete lap of the floor, surveying the East and West fire escapes as he passed them, then half way around again to the same Northside stairwell he’d vacated on the floor below.

Here he waited and listened to the shuffle of heavy feet from the ground floor. His pursuer wasn’t following, just holding court in the atrium space turning slow circles, listening for any sign of his prey.

The building creaked and moaned, the stench of vapourized iron filling his nostrils.

“Why won’t you die, fucker? Why will you not die?” The voice was strained, T could hear the frustration even through the modulation. It made him smile.

He broke cover again and ran another lap, this time in the opposite direction. Again the rising whine, louder this time. The hunter turning up the output, no longer playing games. Behind him hot rivulets of orange metal burst steaming from the ceiling, above him sharp cracks as the superheated rebar shattered the concrete structure. T accelerated, then jumped through the opening onto the East side fire escape as the entire floor above sheared along the fault lines he’d tricked the trooper into tracing as he ran, the weapon weakening the structure until it could no longer hold its own weight. The sixth floor pancaked onto the fifth, tearing it free, then together they picked up the fourth floor, accelerating through the atrium space to crush the unprepared hunter into the basement below.

“Naturally fast, asshole. Naturally smart too. Comes from being a meat brain you metal headed fuck.”

Tensevn clung panting to the battered fire escape until the wind had cleared the dust and he could see the ground. He couldn’t afford to slip here, a fall would hurt like hell.

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