Kyle had left his trusty RealDreams board at home which was just as well because it would have been nearly impossible to carry up dozens of feet of narrow ladder fastened to the side of a light pole, and that’s what he had just climbed. He set what he was carrying, the last of several dozen high capacity magical batteries, on the top of the pole then attached it with a thick band of duct tape. As he was sticking the last bit of that down the wind whipped up with an unexpected intensity and tried to pull him off the ladder. It almost managed, but he was able to drop the tape, and grab the ladder just before one of his feet slid from the rung he’d been standing on.
He steadied himself, gasped, and looked down in time to see the tape hit the ground. He was making five thousand dollars for this job, and it was going to take less than 8 hours, but as the tape bounced off the hard concrete below, flew wobbling into the air, and fell again, Kyle thought maybe it wasn’t enough. He concentrated and tapped the last of the magical power he was holding then quickly drew the bindings for his light generation spell in the air, connected those to the battery with a limiter, and then set a chi spark in the middle. A ball of light flared to life, tiny because the limiter binding he was feeding it through was releasing only a tiny trickle of charge.
He pointed the radiation detector he’d brought at the magical light. It wasn’t emitting anything. Actually, the detector registered lower levels than when he’d calibrated it on the ground. Kyle swept a couple of chemical testing strips through the light. They all remained unchanged, so odds were it wasn’t letting off any noxious gasses. He decided it was safe enough to let the battery bring it up to full power. That wasn’t really surprising. He’d cast the light spell quite a lot of times, and it had only given off results once. He theorized that a truly efficient generator of light didn’t have the spare energy for pumping out other less desirable stuff.
Fortunately, bringing the light up to full power didn’t take any extra work. The binding he’d used for hooking the battery into the light was known, informally, as a “Slip Knot”. As power was drawn through it, it would slowly increase to a preset maximum flow. If the other lights were a guide it should be kicking out about three times as much as the inactive electrical bulb sitting above it would have, had the electrical system of the amphitheater not eaten a lighting bolt two days before.
As Kyle finished climbing down the ladder Jessie walked up. “How’s it looking,” she asked.
“This is the last one.” Kyle squinted up at the top of the pole and did another swipe with his radiation detector. It was still unusually quiescent. He wondered if he’d found a spell for canceling out radiation. There were a number of effects that would do that, and extraordinarily bright light would be a rather unfortunate side effect, but it still might do to test it later on.
“I talked to the manager, he seems thrilled with how things are going. He says it’s normally never this bright.”
“Did he cut you a check?”
She held up a small piece of paper.
“Awesome. Even with the new batteries we’re going to make nearly four thousand dollars of profit on this job. Keep this up and you get a raise.”
Jessie gave him a slightly crooked smile but didn’t seem interested in taking any of the credit she was due. Kyle wondered about that for a moment, she’d seemed oddly close mouthed whenever he’d talked about her future with the company lately. He wondered if she was looking for other work. He couldn’t exactly blame her. She was more than capable. She’d lined up the job. Her roomate had complained that a concert might be canceled due to “lighting problems” at the large outdoor venue. Then she’d contacted the venue, the Old Mine amphitheater, learned about the lightning strike and their inability to repair it, and sold K&J’s services at a rate that undercut rented emergency lighting. Yet he paid her like a fry cook. Well, if money kept coming in at the current rate she could have a raise.
Of course, maybe she was thinking that the company had bigger problems than getting money in. Kyle winced and shoved that thought out of his mind. Neither he nor his lawyer had heard anything more regarding the magical IP investigation. Maybe Ketan had just been wound up over nothing.
It was at that point, that the IP Bounty Hunters came around the corner.
The men were clearly out of place. They were both wearing sharp suits and moving with the oiled smoothness of very fit people who were very much on guard. There was no way they were there for the boy band that was scheduled to take the stage in another 2 hours, and if they had come to take their daughters to see the show, Kyle would have pitied those girls’ future boyfriends. Besides, he recognized them. They were the same pair that had taken down Phil a few weeks earlier. The same pair that might have had something to do with Phil’s death a few days ago.
Kyle, Jessie, and the Bounty Hunters were just outside the seating area of the amphitheater near the concessions building. It was an open space where people could mill around waiting for the gates to open, or during an intermission- if the sort of show that had intermissions was being hosted. A broad sidewalk led off to the parking lot some distance away. One man stopped by that and began to look at people walking in from their cars. The other man moved slowly towards the seating area scanning the thin pre-admission crowd. He was going to pass right next to them.
Kyle turned slightly so his back was fully toward the bounty hunters and then, moving casually, tried to get the light pole between himself and the men. It put him in a slightly strange position to talk to Jessie. He wasn’t worried about that, but he did want her out of danger. “Want to run that check over to the bank while I pack up?” He tried to sound calm.
She glanced down at her watch skeptically, “I think they’ll all be closed.”
“Still, it would be nice to have it locked away in an ATM.”
“We can deposit it with a phone if you’re worried.”
“I don’t have the account numbers,” He snapped then continued trying to sound more natural. “Sorry, just run it over. It’s a lot of money.”
The look of offence on Jessie’s face wasn’t hard to read, but she didn’t argue. Maybe that was because she saw something in Kyle’s expression, he was trying to send signals to her with his eyes. Maybe it was just because he was the boss, or she’d decided to make him pay later. At any rate, he had a hard time not sighing in relief when she pivoted and walked away passing the men without incident.
Now he just had to get himself to safety.