Call me Del
Thanks! =D I was worried by creative license spin on Sweet Scent might not go down too well here. I'm glad you liked it. Also, toying around with technology and pokemon moves is a LOT of fun! I'm really loving merging cyberpunk with PMD! XDAs for the Switch part. This is probably the most threatening I've ever seen Sweet Scent manage to be in the fics I've read so far. And combining it with some sort of massive power aplication device to cause a ton of damage is pretty cool. His plan is practically Macro-levels of reckless. But I do lack that Tropius' larger frame is used to cause some serious damage in this battle. It's a nice use of a Pokémon attirbutes (and Dex characteristics) to do stuff beyond their typical learning movesets. And, at least, it's interesting given how a lot of the more creative battling elements so far have been related to the tech in System, as opposed to Pokémon characteristics. What I'm saying is, it's a nice change of pace. ^^
Chapter Thirty Six
Macro could still hear the commotion coming from the square, and it was far behind him. Screams, crashes, explosions… He ventured a glance over his shoulder, spotting the thick dust cloud over the tops of the tower blocks. What on earth was going on back there? Were Anchor and Switch okay? He swallowed dryly and joined Jumper’s side.
“I think he went in here,” said the frogadier.
“You serious?” Macro scratched his nose. “It’s an apartment block.”
“I know,” said Jumper. “That’s what worries me. Why’s he gone into an apartment block?”
“You sure you ain’t mistaken?”
Jumper looked hesitant as he eyed the huge white building. “I don’t know. But I’m sure I saw him enter through the door.”
“It’s card key activated, right?”
Macro placed a paw on his hip and stared at the card key panel. Had the ivysaur hacked it? That was always a possibility. He pulled out his pocket computer and held it up to the panel.
“What are you doing?” Jumper asked.
“There’s two answers to that question,” said Macro. “Firstly, I’m checking to see if there’s any damage or evidence left behind from someone busting through its coding. Secondly, I’m hackin’ my way in.”
“You’re not just going to run in guns blazing?” Jumper snorted. “I thought that was more your style.”
“As much as I get a thrill from combat, I don’t quite like buildings burning down around me.”
“I find that quite hard to believe, given your reputation.”
“Really?” Macro fired him a sideways glare. “You ever been in a burning building?”
Jumper was silent for a moment, then he sighed. “Well, I guess I’m more equipped to putting out a fire than you are.”
“Aye. Water lasers are pretty shoddy when it comes to dousing flames.” Macro scrolled through the jumbled text on his computer screen. “They can make a charizard run for the hills, however. Aha!” His face lit up with a grin. “Looks like you were right, Gov. Some sneaky fool’s cracked their way in, and done a bad job of it n’all. It’s about as obvious as a burglar leaving a smashed window and upturned bedroom.”
“Are you saying you could have done a better job?”
“Eh, I ain’t no hacker. I’d have made a mess n’all.” Macro paused and gave the frogadier a sly smile. “Besides, I like other pokemon to know I’ve visited. Means they’ll know I’m on to them.”
The card panel beeped and the doors rattled open along their runners.
“Wretched grass type has wrecked the doors,” muttered Jumper.
“No, that was me.” Macro pocketed his computer and laughed. “Told you I do a shoddy job.”
“Seriously,” Jumper groaned. “If you weren’t offering to catch this criminal, I’d make you pay for the damage.”
Macro chuckled and trotted into the building. The walls were as white inside as they were outside, and chrome hand rails ran up the sides of the stair wells. Typical of most buildings the stairs were a little too high for Macro to scramble up. He eyed them warily then turned on the spot until he found a sign for the elevator.
“No idea what floor he might have fled to?” Macro asked Jumper.
The governor scratched his head and sighed. “Not a clue. I’d take the stairs and ask for witnesses.”
“I can’t climb those stairs.” Macro tried to hide any sign of regret. “We’ll need to take the elevator.”
“But he could get past us if he knew we were following him.”
Macro shrugged. “If he knew we were taking the stairs he could just as easily take the elevator.”
Macro met the frogadier’s eyes. Sincere. Did he actually trust him? The thought made Macro feel a little funny inside, and it wasn’t exactly a bad kind of funny.
He cleared his throat and diverted his gaze to the stair well. “I guess I could take the elevator if you can handle the stairs. You ain’t much taller than me, so…”
“I can jump. Also.” Jumper reached under a panel beside the stair well and flicked a switch. The far left of each step popped open and let out a smaller step, increasing their number but making the climb much more manageable. “We don’t discriminate in Cyan City.”
Macro’s face split into a smile and he folded his arms, fixing the frogadier with one eye. “System Ground could learn a thing or two from you.”
“So.” Jumper inclined his head on one side, but he met Macro’s smile with one of his own. “Which are you taking? Stairs or elevator?”
“Hmm. The elevator does bring its own element of surprise,” said Macro. “And I gotta say, I don’t think witnesses are gonna be all that willing to talk to me, and I’m not too happy talkin’ to them either. Price on my head and all that jazz.”
“So I’ll take the stairs then?” Jumper nodded. “In that case, take care, Hunter.”
“You too, Gov.” Macro pulled his laser from its holster and flicked it around in his claws. He turned his head towards the elevator and nodded. “I’m gonna go straight to the top and work my way down. My guess is he might be waitin’ for a ship.”
“Well, if you chase him down we can corner him. Here.” Jumper reached into his belt pocket and whipped out a card. “This is my contact information. You spot him, you call me.”
Macro frowned slightly then reached into his own pouch. He tugged out a small notepad and pen, then scrawled out his own number before exchanging it with Jumper’s.
“Likewise,” he said. “See ya in the melee, Gov.”
The mawile turned and sprinted to the elevator, that funny feeling still heavy in his gut. As much as it made him feel warm inside, part of him wanted to get rid of it. In his line of work, trust often led to pain.
The elevator doors slid open silently and he slipped inside. As he watched them close after him, he caught Jumper’s lithe blue form bounding up the stairs two at a time. He silently wished him luck and braced himself for the inevitable battle, watching each number light up as the elevator carried him towards the roof top.
Ten, eleven, twelve…
The chime as it reached his destination made him jump out of his skin. He berated himself for being a nervous wreck and held his gun to his chest as the doors opened. Cold air beat his face, carried down the drafty corridor. A set of grey stairs ran up towards a door that betrayed the modern look of the apartment block. The alarm bar across it was locked in place, keeping the door firmly shut despite the breeze.
Macro’s first thought was to seek out the panel that would adjust the stairs, but the small flight was already equipped for smaller pokemon. An emergency feature to save time should the building need to be evacuated. He hopped up them and paused at the door, listening for any sign of life. With one kick, it flew open, an the alarm resounded throughout the entire apartment. He cursed under his breath and turned away from the roof top. No one had been through that door. If they had, the entire building would be in an uproar.
He peered out onto the roof. Empty. Carefully he closed the door and let the alarm bar fall back into place, but the siren kept on blaring out regardless. If Root had no idea he was being hunted, he did now.
Grumbling under his breath, Macro bounded back down the stairs and made for the stairwell beside the elevator. This time there was a panel, and he pushed the lever to adjust the stairs to his liking. As convenient as it was, it wasn’t exactly a time saving method, nor a silent one. Maybe for the next flight he’d slide down the hand rail.
Before he reached the next level, voices reached his ears. He paused and peered through the railings, watching a sea of colourful bodies flooding down the stairs. The entire building’s water pokemon population were fleeing for their lives, but one voice rang out clearer than the others.
‘…orderly fashion. I repeat, make your way to the ground floor exit in an orderly fashion.’
Macro smirked and looked up at the speaker poking out of the corner of the ceiling. Jumper was a quick thinker to use Macro’s blunder with the alarm to his advantage. There was also no way Root would risk trying to blend in with the water types. That ivysaur would be lurking somewhere, most likely taking advantage of the evacuated rooms.
Macro waited for the final stragglers to leave the floor then hopped over the last few steps. His heart sank as he looked down the corridor at the row of apartments, noting the neat bends as the corridor forked off to the left and right.
Where did he even begin?
He considered bringing up a map of the apartment block for easier navigation, but doing so would cost valuable time. Instead, he raced down the corridor, pausing to check each room. As he reached the third one, he wished desperately he had a heat tracker. It would make searching for a hidden pokemon a lot easier.
He faltered at the end of the corridor, turning his head left and right. Both corridors looked identical, save for a wreath of artificial berries nailed to one of the doors. Both ended at a dead end, complete with a large window looking out over the rooftops of Cyan City. Keeping his ears pricked, he checked the rooms on the left, then the right. Nothing in any of them.
As he retraced his footsteps, he muttered to himself, feeling his heart sink further and further. Somehow, the whole thing felt like a wild zangoose chase.
The double doors swung wildly as he raced through them. He grabbed onto the hand rail and spun himself down the stairs. Each flight had been adjusted after the evacuation, making things a lot easier. He leapt over the last few steps onto the eleventh floor, then the building shook. He lost his footing and landed in a sprawl, his snout smooshing onto the tiled floor. The tremor subsided as suddenly as it had happened, and Macro lifted his head, rubbing his snore nose with a paw. His gun had skittered towards the wall and he scrambled to retrieve then climbed to his feet.
“What on earth was that?” he asked as he looked around.
Light flickered up the stairs and he leant through the railings to look at the corridor below. One of the lights was blinking on and off erratically, damaged by the sudden shock. His mind leapt to explosion. Two of the storehouses had already been attacked. But why an apartment block? Was there a storehouse nearby, and the towering building had been caught in the aftermath?
He turned away from the stairs to search the rooms, but as he reached the double doors his nose twitched. The faintest smell of smoke…
He looked back at the stairwell. That flickering light seemed even more sinister now. If he could smell smoke, the building might be on fire. Had the explosion come from the apartment block? Had it even been a bomb, or a weapon’s misfire?
He clutched his laser tightly and gave one last glance down the corridor. If the building was on fire, he couldn’t exactly stay inside it. He tutted loudly and spun towards the stairs, taking two at a time. The smell of smoke grew heavier, confirming his suspicions that it wasn’t coming from outside. Each corridor he passed seemed to beckon, mocking him for not seeing his job through to the end. They could mock him all they wanted. He wasn’t going to stay in a burning building, and neither was that ivysaur. It would be suicide for the both of them.
His feet skidded over the tiles of the fifth floor and his eyes widened with fear. Heavy smoke billowed up from the fourth, curling up towards the floor above him. How had he not noticed that? His heart hammered in his throat and he glanced down the corridor. Dead ends at either end. One flight of stairs for the entire apartment block. How was that even possible?
Of course… water types. They could fight fires as they escaped. But if one end collapsed…?
He shook his head and threw himself into the smoke. Something crashed into him, sending him sprawling onto his back. The jagged edge of a step struck him in the back of the head and he yelped, almost dropping his gun. A gasp came from above him, and a heavy paw pressed into his chest. Macro blinked his eyes, bringing them back into focus. The grinning face of an ivysaur stared down at him and a dry chuckle came from his throat.
“Boy oh boy!” the ivysaur laughed. “This is my lucky day!”
Macro snorted and tried to push the reptile’s huge foot away. “I’d hardly call being stuck in a burning building your ‘lucky day’.”
“Oh, I do. Because everything is going according to plan. Create a distraction, and flee to the roof top where Spider will come and get me. But look at this! I run into forty thousand credits on the way!”
The ivysaur roared with laughter, his peppery breath spraying Macro in the face. Spider. That was the tropius the ivysaur had called on for back up. Not the carnivine as Macro had first thought.
“Let me guess,” said Macro. “Root, right?” He chuckled and lifted his paw to aim the laser at the ivysaur’s ribs. “Today ain’t as lucky as you thought it might be. Not for you, anyway.”
Root’s eyes flashed towards Macro’s laser. The ivysaur’s left paw smacked Macro’s arm aside and pinned it, sending his laser tumbling down the stairs. Root’s leering face locked back onto Macro’s and split into a smirk.
“I don’t think so, little mawile,” he said.
The building shook, sending the ivysaur sprawling on top of Macro. Pain radiated through his ribs and his head smashed into the step yet again. He groaned and shoved Root up off him, but his heavy paw didn’t leave his chest.
“Look,” Macro groaned. “This whole building is gonna go up in flames, and if it does neither of us are gonna get paid.”
“Paid?” Root laughed. “So Cyan City got so desperate they hired a space pirate? Such filth…”
“Filth?” Macro’s muzzle creased and he fixed his dazed eyes on Root in what he hoped was an intimidating glare. “You turn innocent bug pokemon into mindless eating machines and you think you have the right to call the pokemon in this city ‘filth’?!”
Root laughed and shook his head. “Anyone who hires someone like you to do their dirty work is filth. Turning some wretched bugs into tools is nothing compared to what you do, shrimp.”
Tools? Macro grit his teeth together so tight it hurt. That was it. That ivysaur had drawn his last straw. Macro braced himself, pulling his feet up to his chest. Every step beneath him jabbed his spine, but he screwed his eyes shut trying to ignore the pain. Then he brought his feet into Root’s gut.
The ivysaur grunted and staggered back. Then his mouth formed a neat ‘o’ as he fell backwards away from Macro. Root hit each step with a grunt, and Macro pushed himself up, rubbing the back of his head as he watched the ivysaur land in a sprawl on the floor beneath him. Macro’s laser lay only three steps away. He snatched it up, wincing as a searing pain stabbed through his back. He made a mental note not to lie on stairs ever again.
Root staggered to his feet and fixed Macro with a glare. But the glare melted away into a snicker and the grass pokemon bolted away from him towards the floor below.
Macro stuttered, teetering on the steps as he watched the ivysaur vanish into the black smoke.
“Wait!” he roared. “What are you doing, you moron?!”
Smoke filled his mouth and nose and he choked, beating it away from his face with a paw. The urge to give chase and the desire to race to the roof and wait for Wildcard Gamma to pick him up warred inside him. He was meant to stop Root, and leaving him would mean he’d left a job unfinished. Surely the ivysaur wouldn’t race blindly into flames? He must have another plan. Maybe he was trying to lure Macro into the flames to weaken him, but in doing so that would only weaken himself. Right?
Macro tutted and backed away as smoke billowed up towards him, smoky tendrils reaching out like deadly claws desperate to grab his throat. Orange flames licked at the walls, creeping their way up towards the fifth floor. Shadows danced and strobed over the white walls. He could feel the heat licking at him, warming through his thick coat and causing his paws to break into an uncomfortable sweat.
He became very aware of his breathing. Quick and frantic. He took a step back, not taking his eyes off those flames. Deep in his mind he could hear the cries of a frightened child. His whole mouth turned dry and he took another step back, bracing himself to run.
Then he heard Root laugh. Faint. Swallowed up under the roar of flames.
Macro shook his head violently, shaking himself back to reality.
No, he had a job to do. He couldn’t just let Root get away. Besides, Jumper wanted him alive. Root was taking a huge risk and there was no way Macro was going to throw his job, to cause Cyan City to lose out on getting answers to this attack and putting an end to this ridiculous type war.
He clutched his laser tight in his damp paw and carefully descended the stairs. The tiles were hot on his feet, he couldn’t stand on them for long. He kept close to the rail to avoid the crawling flames, raising a paw to shield his face. A groan escaped his lips as his horn began to heat up and he warred with the urge to run back up the stairs and make a beeline for the roof top.
He reached the double doors and his paw faltered at the handle. Fire doors. He could see the blaze beyond them, burning like an inferno. He turned his head slowly at the flames creeping up the stairwell. Fire door. Inferno.
His mouth curled into a smile and he chuckled.
“Well played, Root,” he muttered. “But not today.”
He turned away from the doors and carefully crept towards the stairs. Smoke rose up them, but less than the previous floor. So the fire had been started on the fourth floor? Then that meant, hopefully, the blaze would be less and he’d actually manage to make it out.
But of course, fire spreads.
He stopped at the doors to the third floor apartments. One of them was wide open, flames licking down from above it like living, burning stalactites.
His mind once again filled with blazing flames and sobs. He shook his head sharply and fixed his eyes on a point beyond those flames.
“Come on, Macro,” he said. “You got this.”
He ducked through the door, feeling the heat lick at his horn, spreading through it towards his head. He screwed his eyes shut and staggered into the corridor. Once he opened them again, he was safely on the other side.
Well, safely was stretching it a bit.
The fire behind him was spreading across the ceiling, and two of the doors behind him were already ablaze. The other rooms would very soon meet the same fate. And ahead of him, where the corridor broke off into two, was filled with black smoke.
First thing was first, he had to find the one Root was hiding in.
He crept along the corridor, laser in paw, and pushed each door open as he passed. Some of them were locked and wouldn’t so much as budge. The closer he drew to the smoke, the hotter it became. He feared very soon he’d have to turn and go back. He ventured a glance over his shoulder and swallowed dryly. The flames had already claimed another door, and the fire doors had learned the meaning of irony. His only other option was to bust a door down and take a leap of faith from someone’s window. He wondered if Root had already done that, leaving him to burn with the building. Then he’d come back, collect his remains and half of his bounty. It was probably a more attractive idea than putting up a struggle in a blazing building with a stubborn pirate who knew how to fight his own battles.
The next door he checked moved inward. Second from the end. The heat was intense and it was giving him a killer headache.
His violet eyes searched the room, squinting through the smoke that filled it no sooner had the door opened. By the window he could just make out the leafy back of an ivysaur.
“Found ya.” Macro’s voice came out as more of a groan than he’d intended, but his loaded laser made his point.
Root looked back at him, his face twisted with fear and rage. But he said nothing, just turned back to the window. Macro followed his gaze. The window overlooked the square, and the end of the square was ablaze, just like the apartment block. Water pokemon stood around it, firing their attacks to beat back the flames.
A dry chuckle escaped Macro’s throat and he readied his laser at Root.
“Spider burned down with the rest of your army, huh?” he mocked. “Your plan backfired? Guess that means there’s no one to come and get you.”
Root rounded on him and flashed his sharp canines. “I don’t need anyone to come and get me.”
“No. But you and I both know if you jump from that window the only way you’re leaving Cyan City is if someone scrapes up your remains and sends you back to Luma in a coffin.”
Root glanced left and right, then took a step back.
“Come with me,” said Macro. “I’ll get us both out of here. No one has to die.”
“No.” Root extracted his vines from the bulb on his back. “I guess they don’t.”
Macro’s first thought that Root might be offering to lower them both into the streets was quickly filed under ‘foolish expectations’. The ivysaur reached into his belt and whipped out a tiny laser, much more advanced than the one Macro held. He aimed it at the door, firing a beam that chilled Macro’s fur and peppered it with ice. It struck the door, blasting it shut and freezing the card key panel.
Macro glanced at his shoulder, the ice now melted away into tiny droplets over his fur. The card panel thawed just as quickly. Macro grit his teeth together. Such a sudden change in temperatures would have destroyed that in an instant. They were both trapped. The only way to escape the inevitable inferno was to leap from the window.
He met Root’s grinning face. The ivysaur threw his head back and laughed. Laughed so hard he had to lean against the wall to stop from falling over.
“I guess they don’t,” he repeated. “But we’re gonna. I’m taking you with me, Hunter. If I can’t have forty thousand credits, no one’s gonna have it. They’ll be sending us both away in urns, not coffins! That is… if they can separate us from the rubble.”
More laughter. Hysterical. Mad.
Macro seethed and aimed his laser at the ivysaur. He didn’t want to fire. Root was no use to them dead. But all Jumper had given him was a flying laser, and the heat of the blaze had already done enough damage to the both of them.
“Look!” Macro snapped. “If we co-operate, we can get out of here alive. Surely you don’t want to die, right?”
“Oh, I was always prepared to,” said Root, somewhat calmly. “Any good space pirate knows the captain always goes down with his ship, right?” His face split into a sinister grin. “It’s the same principle.”
“It’s nonsense. There’s nothing for you to die for here, is there?”
“My legacy.” Root spread his arms wide. “Cyan City is gonna suffer for years! Those bugs will become cocoons. They’ll breed. They’ll create more mindless eating machines! If things go well, Cyan City will be no more. They’ll have lost, and I’ll have won. Magenta City is already dealing with their own infestation.”
“Magenta?” Macro’s chest lurched and he almost dropped his laser.
“Yes,” Root said calmly. “I guess you could think of them as a test run.”
He really was mad. This whole war between the three types was pointless.
“Why are you doing this?” Macro asked. “You’re making innocent bug pokemon suffer for the sake of your own dumb war.”
“Bugs are pests! They’re no better than the water dwellers!” Root roared. “Besides. Do you think it’s easy to watch Cyan City flourish? Watch them grow food for free, while Luma and Magenta suffer? Magenta were better off than we were, however. But grass types should be able to grow food in our own wretched city! However, it weren’t easy. We had to order everything. We put our heart and soul into trying to prepare orchards, but nothing would take. Every ounce of dirt we ordered from System Ground were toxic, and Cyan City wouldn’t help us out. They told us we could buy from them. They’d offer us a good price.” Root spat onto the floor and it sizzled away. “You can blame them for the war.”
“Who fired the first shot?”
“I’ll blame whoever fired the first shot,” said Macro.
“You think allowing us to starve isn’t firing the first shot?”
Macro shrugged. “They offered you a good price, right? Cheaper than System Ground?”
“We didn’t need a price, we needed charity!”
“Charity?” Macro shook his head. “I understand charity, but can you really say you needed it? Or just wanted it?”
Root curled his lip in a sneer. “You know nothing, filth!”
Macro’s paw shook, making it hard to aim his laser. He grabbed it in both paws and aimed the nozzle towards Root’s head.
“So all this warranted a war?” Macro spat. “A war where others are killed, pokemon have their identities taken from them… and you kidnap two little children?!”
Root threw his head back and laughed. “Oh, the children!”
“Where are they, Root?! They didn’t need to be a part of this!”
Root fixed his eyes on Macro’s and the corner of his mouth tugged up into a smirk. “Dead.”
Macro’s paws slackened, lowering his laser so it was aiming at the ivysaur’s feet, and his jaw dropped. “You killed them?”
Root shrugged. “They served their purpose. I had no more need for them.”
“You killed them?! Two little kids?!” Macro regained his steady paw and aimed it back at Root’s head. “I have every right mind to end your life right now.”
The ivysaur smirked. “Go on. Shoot. Add to the inferno!”
“No,” said Macro. “Because unlike you, I’m not a monster.”
Another tremor shook the floor, less violent than the first one. Macro looked over his shoulder at the closed door, the solid wall. Embers glowed around the wooden frame, smoldering and crackling, sizzling away what was left of the moisture from the ice.
“That was the fourth floor coming down.” Root’s voice drew his attention, and a smirk crossed the ivysaur’s face. “Won’t be long now until this one follows. Or the ceiling above us rains down, trapping us. Well… trapping you. This… monster… will already be long dead.”
Macro shook his head. “I’m not going to kill you, Root. We’re both gonna climb out that window, and the Governor can deal with you. And you can explain to that poor, worried mother exactly what happened to her innocent children.”
“No chance. I ain’t talking to no water types.”
Root grinned, then there was a nauseating sound. A pop. Blood trickled from between his teeth and he crumpled to the floor. Macro watched as the ivysaur’s eyes rolled back into his skull.
“Drat.” Macro looked back at the door. Flames had begun to lick away the woodwork as they fought their way into the small apartment. “Drat!”
He rushed to the window and threw it open. The glass felt hot and it cracked under his paws. He leant over the ledge, trying to judge the distance to the ground below. The third floor… he wouldn’t survive a drop like that. He fumbled in his pouch and pulled out his computer and Jumper’s contact card. His paws were shaking so much he punched the wrong number in twice. He swore loudly and tried to focus, keeping one eye on those creeping flames. Finally, he got it right. The ringer sounded in his ear, going on for far too long for his liking.
“Hunter?” Jumper’s voice sent a wave of relief through his body.
“What took you so long?” Macro shrieked. “I’m trapped on the third floor. I’ve got a window open but all I can see is a crowd below me. There aren’t even any fire fighters.”
“They’re tackling the inferno on the south side of the building,” said Jumper. “Which side are you on?”
“No clue.” Macro looked back outside, searching the opposite building for anything that might serve as a landmark. “There’s a sticker on the window opposite me for a band called Giga Impact.”
“That doesn’t help me, Hunter,” said Jumper. “Is there a street name or anything?”
Macro tried his best not to scold the frogadier. He craned over the window ledge again and squinted into the streets. Smoke was billowing from a window below him, making it hard to see the road below.
“I can’t really see it,” he said. “There is a street sign. I think it says… Aqua Street.”
“Aquaring Court,” said Jumper. “I’ll send someone around to you as fast as -”
The ceiling above Macro caved in and he let out a squeak, leaping aside and dropping his computer. Plaster and wood came raining down on him, dragging with it a small, blazing arm chair. It crashed to the floor, tearing a huge wooden beam free. It landed right across Macro’s thigh, pinning him to the ground. The arm chair’s leg struck his computer, crushing the screen and cutting off all contact from Jumper.
Macro stared at it, his eyes widening as he watched the chair burn. Flames spread from its peeling fabric to the wooden floor, creating a trail that cut off his only escape route. He reached forwards and tried to lever the wooden beam free, but it wouldn’t budge.
He turned back to the window and shouted at the top of his lungs one word he hadn’t cried in years.
Flames licked down from the gaping hole in the ceiling and he craned his head back to look up into it. The foot of a bed teetered right above his head. His entire throat tightened and he placed a paw to his chest. He scanned the room for something, anything, that might get the wooden beam off him. His eyes fell on his laser lying a mere arm’s stretch away. He leant across for it, his claws brushing its butt and pushing it further away. With a shout, he threw himself forwards. Every muscle in his side screamed, and he clenched his jaw to stop himself from screaming with them. He grabbed the tail end of his gun and snatched it back, aiming it at the wooden beam. One shot could either go incredibly well, or incredibly badly.
He closed his eyes and fired. The wood splintered, and sharp air tore through his flesh. He screamed and dragged himself free, throwing the splintered wood aside. He placed a paw on the wall and pushed himself to his feet, limping away from the threat of the falling bed.
Over the crackling and popping he heard a roar. Not a vocal roar, but a roar of power. His eyes flew open and his heart did a somersault. Water gushed through the window, pushing back the flames and soaking the small armchair through to its framework.
“Hunter!” The voice came from outside. “Hunter, can you hear me?!”
He staggered over to the window and looked down. Jumper stood beside the blastoise he’d previously argued with. The huge officer and a fleet of wartortle aimed their attacks at the building, concentrating on Macro’s fiery prison. A smile split his face and he leant against the window frame.
“I’m afraid I’m a bit stuck, Gov!” he called down.
“Don’t you worry, Hunter,” said Jumper. “We’re gonna get you down. Hover! Over here!”
White wings beat down from above him, wafting away the smoke. A graceful swanna swooped towards the window, but her back was already occupied by a dewott.
Macro felt his heart break. He couldn’t even look at her. No one needed to have to tell a mother her children had been mindlessly killed.
He climbed onto the swanna’s back behind her, choking as fresh air filled his lungs, and watched the ground rise up slowly below them.
“Macro?” The dewott’s voice was weak, shaken. “Did you find my children?”
He couldn’t answer. He bit his tongue, keeping his attention on the street below.
His eyes welled up and he took in a trembling breath. With a shake of his head he said, quietly, “No. I didn’t find them.”