Kyle stood in a small patch of woods attacking trees and salt cured hams.
It had been pretty simple for him to get away from the bounty hunter; streets had been easy to cross because traffic wasn’t moving in the lightless area or, as it turned out, outside of it. Kyle had completely snarled the city’s traffic network. His spell had caught both lanes of the old highway, at least one other major road, and several surface streets. Autodrive cars had non-visual sensors: gps, proximity detectors, RFID embedded in the roads, but they still wouldn’t drive with no input from their cameras. Cars had backed up all around the cloud and further complicated problems. The eventual gridlock had required several hours to clear.
Once he was clear of the bounty hunters he did what any reasonable person would and called the cops.
At that point, he didn’t know if he had a warrant out for his arrest or not. He still thought it would be hard for Thomas to come up with evidence of an entire conspiracy. However, now that he understood the man’s motivation, he wasn’t willing to say there was no possibility, and he wasn’t sure how to check. He thought it would be bad form to call 911 and say, “Pardon me, but am I a fugitive from Justice? No? That’s great! In that case I’d really like to file a police report.”
Instead, he hailed a taxi and called once they were in motion. Once he’d explained what happened, the dispatcher pulled his location from his phone’s GPS then argued with him for about five minutes about pulling over and letting a patrol car come to him. That discussion only ended when he assured the woman, falsely, that he was headed to a safe location and the instant he arrived he’d give her the address. That out of the way, she’d been willing to pass him off to someone who could take a kidnapping report.
That had started well, Kyle had described the man he’d seen, and told them what happened. Things had only gotten bad when Kyle had said he thought he knew who was behind the kidnapping and explained that it was probably Thomas the Illusionist. Doubt had filled the police officer’s voice at that point, and he’d lost all his urgency. It had apparently sounded just about as reasonable as Kyle claiming Abe Lincoln was behind the kidnapping. They disconnected, and Kyle had perfect confidence no official help could be obtained. At least not in time.
For a bit, he considered using tekhnikos lux to get official attention. It wouldn’t take long to build an apparatus that would generate new forms of darkness every minute, and the power required to cover the city should be manageable. The problem was, Kyle was fairly certain his idea was exactly what the villain had done in a lousy early 90s movie called “Eternal Darkness”. He’d watched it as a kid, and though it wasn’t good enough to really remember clearly, there had certainly been one scene where a cackling man in a black satin robe had stood on the top of some skyscraper summoning black fog in the streets below while people ran in terror.
Probably a guy like that wasn’t a good role model.
But if official help wasn’t likely to be forthcoming Kyle’s only options were running or trying to fight Thomas on his own. He didn’t want to run. He wasn’t convinced it would work, and it would mean leaving Jessie. She didn’t deserve that. There was a pretty good chance she was going to get fired, but she didn’t deserve whatever Thomas was going to do to her. Instead he decided to follow the plan Jessie had half proposed. Proving Thomas was neck deep in illegal magic. That would get the cops’ attention.
The only problem was they’d been subjected to a paramilitary attack before Jessie had told him the details of where Thomas’s operation was located. Kyle knew Jessie had occasionally checked her email on her work computer. Assuming she hadn’t changed her habits he could probably go back to the office and get access to her accounts. Plus, there was one other thing he wanted still stored there.
It would have been pure idiocy to assume that the storefront wasn’t watched. Thomas had known the instant he discovered the tekhnikos, he’d known everywhere Kyle had tried to sell it. Kyle’s first, and only, employee had been a spy. Finally, it was worth remembering, Thomas had known the details of “Kyle’s groundbreaking spell” centuries before he “invented” it. Kyle decided, it was probably safe to assume Thomas had one of those flexible surgical cameras jammed up in his guts somewhere and was watching a live stream of his stomach over producing acid as he tried to come up with a plan.
All of that meant Kyle needed weaponry. The one advantage he had, and it was an advantage over the average man on the street not his centuries old adversary, was he could use magic. Still, Raven’s Gift had let him down twice; he needed something better. It hadn’t escaped his notice that lux could be dangerous. Even a cursory consideration of the properties of the technique suggested possibilities for weaponizing it. He could come up with a way to make the light coherent for a laser beam, tune the spell for high energy radiation, or possibly find an electricity spell.
After a little more thought, he’d realized that was all overkill. He’d had the same cab that he’d used to call the cops take him to a grocery store then drop him off in a patch of forest outside of the city limits. There he began to practice the idea he’d actually implemented.
For something like the sixtieth time he barked, “Flash,” while flipping his hand open as though rapidly revealing something held in its palm. That was the trigger he’d bound to a light spell invented by tekhnikos lux about two hours before. It was as quick and simple as he could make it. He was fairly sure he could perform it even if he was bound; though he hoped he wouldn’t get the chance to test that.
In the gathering twilight, the small ball of light that appeared over his hand seemed quite bright. He jumped to the side, ran several steps, and then spun on one foot. He moved the spell with his mind so it tracked him throwing out sharp black shadows in the grass. When he spun, the corner of the plastic wrap of his last ham was just visible behind a tree about two dozen yards away.
He shot the spell off at it. Though, technically, “shot” wasn’t the right word. The location of the spell never left his mental control. As such, he was able to bend its path around the tree. The light left a trail in his vision that looked like a continuous beam of energy. Then it intersected the ham, and he dumped power into it. With the light spell located inside of the ham, mundane physics left no option but that all of its energy be absorbed by the processed meat product. The water inside it, some of it natural to the pig, some of it added during the curing process, reached boiling almost instantly. The meat exploded.
Kyle grinned, the expression was broad and toothy. He spun, called, “flash,” again, and shot a ball of light into a tree limb somewhat wider around than his thigh. Being both drier and tougher than ham it lasted slightly longer, perhaps a couple of seconds. Then there was a tremendous crack, the limb split, and it fell smoldering to the ground.
Kyle’s grin broadened. He needed one last thing and he thought he knew where to get it.