Ivan looked almost peaceful. When Kyle had zapped him he’d fallen over such that he lay with his bear cloak wrapped around him. He’d even curled up a bit under it like he was trying to get more comfortable. It made Kyle feel better about knocking him out.
However, Kyle didn’t have the time to stand around watching Russian Bear-men sleep. Instead he took off up the spiral staircase he’d just been fighting on making for the third floor electronics lab that held the information he was looking to steal.
Fortunately, it was a quick trip. Beyond the guard, and the exterior doors, the building had little internal security. Kyle was able to get to the lab in less than a minute.
The researcher who’d discovered the communications technique was a postgraduate by the name of Jennifer Atson. By all reports, she’d more or less stumbled on the spell while misunderstanding some practice problems from her physics class. Of course, knowledge never came quite so simply. The spell was using only made it possible to affect one pair of entangled particles. It didn’t make it easy, so she’d spent the next several years making an electronic board which could digitally manipulate the new particles.
The sirens Kyle had thought he’d heard while fighting Ivan were in front of the building by the time he reached the lab. He crossed to Jennifer’s desk first and grabbed her laptop and tossed it into the almost empty backpack he’d was wearing. That part, at least, was easy.
Computer thus secured he pulled a second device out of the backpack. At first glance it looked little better than a pile of loosely connected parts. There was a stack of superconductive super capacitors attached to a cone of tightly wrapped superconductive wire and a small shaped explosive.
Kyle flipped the switch on the front of the device. Nothing obvious happened. When Kyle had built the device, he’d neglected to put a big digital countdown on the front. However, a countdown had started. In 1 minute 45 seconds the super capacitors would flood the wire with charge. About 15 seconds after that, when the charge in the wire would have reached its maximum, the shaped charge would go off and destroy the wire melting it from the base of the cone to the tip. As the cone was destroyed the charge in it would travel to the point and then be released in a stunningly powerful em burst. Every shred of electronics in the lab would be rendered utterly useless. Most importantly it would kill the prototypes of the communications device he’d just stolen the blueprints to.
There were now voices just barely audible in the otherwise empty building. Cops had probably reached the lobby. It was time to go. Past time actually, the original plan had called for Kyle exiting through the lobby.
Fortunately, there was a backup plan. Kyle tore out of the lab and continued down the hall he was already in away from the lobby and towards the fire exit on the other side of the building.
He had only just barely entered it when he heard voices echoing up the stairwell. He heard “rogue mage” and “armed and dangerous” before turning and booking back up the stairs. He would have sworn, but he was worried they’d hear.
The plan had assumed that, at worst, he’d only have to run from one or two cops. The statistics for police responses on campus were public and the campus cops checked on a lot of building alarms going off; they went out for that almost as often as they went out to bust up loud parties. They shouldn’t have worried much about the alarm.
Apparently they had more to work with than the alarm because they knew he had magic. That must be why they weren’t taking any chances. Worse yet, he was pretty sure “armed and dangerous” meant “you can shoot him if he doesn’t surrender.”
Kyle wasted a moment standing in the hall trying to figure out which way to go. It wasn’t a moment he actually had. The fire exit banged open and a voice yelled, “Stop, put your hands up, and get on the ground!”
“Dùnpái,” Kyle yelled instead of complying and threw his hand out in a block directed at the cops.
Yup; they could definitely shoot at him. There were several deafeningly loud cracks and Kyle felt puffs of hot air from the hemispherical patch of translucent green that had appeared just in front of his outstretched hand. “Dùnpái” meant “shield” and it along with the block was the trigger for a spell Kyle had learned when he was still dealing with Thomas the Illusionist. This was not the first time that spell had prevented a rapidly moving object from making violent contact with his all too fragile flesh.
Sadly, the spell only lasted for a few seconds. The caster could never predict how many, because that depended how many other people were casting it at the same time. Kyle darted through a door and out of the hallway just as the shield fell then slammed and locked the door behind him.
He was safe from the cops for a few seconds, but he had an even more pressing problem. His EMP was about to go off. The laptop he still carried probably wouldn’t be safe from it at this distance. The device should permanently damage all modern electronics within 75 meters. Of course, that was somewhat pessimistic. With the computer powered down, and given that the important part of it was its hard drive, he might be safe at half that distance. Meaning he somehow had to get another 10 or 15 meters away inside a 5 meter wide office.
Then he remembered something else he’d done with the shield. He’d once cast several of them in series to climb over a wall. The office had a window. Desperate, Kyle grabbed the desk chair and hurled it at the window.
It broke with a loud crash. The crash of the window was followed by a thump from the door behind him as something heavy, probably a cop, hit it.
Time to go. Time to go. Time to go! Kyle thought.
He ran for the window, thrust his hand out it in a block and yelled, “Dùnpái!” The spell worked and he was able to jump out the window onto the green platform. He crouched down on the first shield and cast another below him, and moved to it. By repeating that several times in quick succession Kyle managed to descend about a story.
Then he screwed up badly. He jumped for the edge of the shield he was on, miscalculated, and landed too far forward with the entire upper half of his body leaning over its edge. Had he immediately cast another shield he could have saved himself, but that wasn’t instinctual. Instead he grabbed for the edge of the shield he was on. He caught it, slid a bit, then stopped, and managed to pull himself halfway back onto it before it vanished.
The fall wasn’t that far. About two stories, but Kyle had managed to get out over the sidewalk outside the lab before falling and it was not going to be a soft landing. Adrenaline stretched the moment, and he had time to look at the particular square of concrete rushing up at him and think, “That’s where I’m gonna die” with a strange dispassion. He also remembered the shield, made a weak block with his hand, and called, “Dùnpái!”
The shield popped into existence bisecting his body at the hips. That could have been just as deadly as hitting the ground. It could have been vastly more deadly than hitting the ground. It could have cut his body in half; by pure dumb luck it didn’t. The shield was an alteration to normal physics that somehow converted momentum into heat thus it had several effects in rapid succession. First, Kyle decelerated rapidly, not quite as fast as the sidewalk would have managed but still too fast. His hips and back took a terrible shock, but it wasn’t quite enough to break anything. His hips were probably the best place the spell could have grabbed him. Second, a wash of air hot enough to glow burst out around his legs and the bottom of the shield. It didn’t burn him badly, and the magic hadn’t channeled any heat into his body, but he’d later find every hair on his legs had been singed off and his skin looked liked he’d laid in the sun for hours. Finally, his blood flow stopped where the shield was. His heart flailed madly squeezing at blood that couldn’t move properly through his waist. Pain splintered out into his chest. His heartbeat started to falter. Then the spell ended.
Kyle fell the remaining distance, about half a story, as limp as a washcloth. Not unconscious, but momentarily stunned beyond the ability to react. It wasn’t a bad way to hit the ground. None of his muscles or joints were locked, and his momentum spent itself across a broad area bruising his butt and back as he crumpled backwards to the ground. Kyle lay still, not even thinking about the cops above him. There was a pop like a firework going off from three stories above. That was probably the EMP. Its explosive wasn’t much more than a firework.
A policeman leaned out the broken window and yelled something. It didn’t register. He produced a radio and spoke into it probably trying to direct the police on the lower floors to Kyle’s location. The EMP would have killed the radio. The cop leaned back inside, maybe tying to figure out why his equipment wasn’t working. Fear worked its magic. Kyle wasn’t really injured and he finally regained enough sense to roll to his feet and half-run into the shadows of the building across the street from the PSL while everyone else was distracted.