Removing ignorance from the world always improved his mood so by the time he left the house he was already feeling better about the whole ordeal. He knew there was a bit of madness to how his emotions flared at the mere mention of the possibility he might be wrong, but he did not feel guilty over not restraining it.
His past defined him, as it does everyone, and in his case, it had made him extremely angry. Ironically, it had been society that had turned him into what they considered a sociopath, among other things…
He walked into another house and forced the widow there to show him her belongings; he pocketed them for the count and left for the next. He had been making good time and good money, he would certainly move forward to the next round.
And the Dark Runner was out of the run. That was a magnificent turn of events. He wondered if there was anything about it on the scroll, and so he opened it to look. Other than the countdown, which alerted him to the fact he had merely twenty minutes before the match was over, there was a message he had not expected to see.
A Tax Collector is now collecting taxes.
There was no news concerning the Dark Runner. He wondered whether they had a way to even tell of their status, or whether they would check only afterwards. The mechanics of the occultist systems through which Shadow Conclave was supported intrigued him, as they should any true man of science.
He had already understood the teleporting pouch, and had indeed postulated a way to reproduce it. It was based on two theories he had conjectured just then but he was certain they would prove fact as soon as he teleported the entire confines of Fort Yurk directly into his possession.
The Mad Genious thought back to where his capsule was located and made calculations as to how long it would take him to return to it. He had purposely walked in circles to avoid going too far apart.
Two more residences, I suppose.
He heard another alarm going off, and this was a lock-trap. Used to be, the lock-trap would squirt out acid and burn the lock-picker, but he had to change that to the less deadly and more complicated alarm mechanism.
“Mad Genious?” Falk turned around, surprised at being called out, to find a man older than him. He was balding, dressed in an expensive suit with a red buttoned shirt which had a tie tucked underneath. He was smoking a large cigar and looking pretty happy with himself.
“Don,” Falk retorted with a knowing smirk, “what a pleasure to meet you so soon.”
“It is you, then? Eh, yer younger than I expected.”
“Only in appearance, I assure you. Did the gunshot draw your attention?”
“Of course, what d’you think?” He took a deep breath off his cigar, well enjoying it, “I just robbed that house, see? Left a very fidgety man behind, was someone shot?”
“Unfortunately,” the Mad Genious smiled gladly, “a sad turn of events, the Dark Runner has been shot.”
“Heh,” he smirked also, “yeah, that’s real sad, alright. He dead?”
“Very much so.”
“How awful,” he blew out smoke.
They looked at each other in a confrontation of confidence, but before soon, it became more awkward than conflictive. For that reason, Falk eventually waved his hand dismissively to the side.
“Well, a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Don. We shall meet again, I imagine.”
“Maybe, maybe not. How much’ve you collected?”
“Like I would tell you the numbers.”
“Well, I hope it’s enough, kid.”
“It will more than suffice…old man.”
“Good, I’d hate for your placements to be affected by getting’ put in jail.”
Mad Genious shook his head, waving the bluff away.
“Please, like I’d–” sirens suddenly went out all over the city, every single balloon of gas igniting in the air, illuminating the streets, and them included.
“It’s a raid,” he laughed, “you really don’t understand how pigs work, do you? All you idiots getting seen and scaring people… ‘course they’re gonna raid the whole place, hah.”
“Well they still have to catch me,” he replied, not losing an ounce of composure.
“They’ll catch us both,” he nodded, “difference is they respect me. You? You, they hate.”
“No, Don. They fear me.”
“Ha, but they understand me, see? But you? Yer just a homicidal maniac to them, see? So fear won’t do ya any good, wise guy.”
The Mad Genious did not have a reply for that, he was right, that is what he had used on the man just inside the house in order to cause the murder. He tried to think of a superior retort but he took too long.
“Good luck with that then,” the Don laughed and walked away. Falk felt insulted and defeated, two very dangerous feelings when it comes to him, so he pointed his hand to kill the almighty Don.
He is not worth it, he tried to convince himself, I can get him after I win the contest.
He slowly lowered his hand and shot nothing but a frown before turning around and quickly pacing back towards his launching capsule. He could yet evade the raid.
He walked briskly across the now multi-colored well lit streets. He should be running but he was incapable to do something as beneath him as rushing..
Even when he heard the march of a patrolling squad, speeding towards him in a tumult of grunts and protest, he did not hurry his step. Instead, he noticed he was passing by a window to a bedroom, this one closed.
He grabbed an alarm mine and threw it hard through the window. It shattered loudly, startling the people inside into whelping.
“Did you hear that?!”
“Over in that direction!”
Falk turned a corner and, happy with himself, walked along the street as he heard the alarm moving about and guards yelling out for surrender and halts and all the typical sort of droving.
Seems I managed to stick the mine to someone inside. A strike of luck always comes in handy, no complaints indeed.
Nothing now stood in his way. And then his way changed completely out of the blue.
When last he saw, some kind of purple orb with a dark blue tint rose from the ground right in front of him. He stopped but it hit his chest and made him feel an enormous dose of vertigo. His sight flashed with the same color as the orb and suddenly, all his surroundings had changed.
Where am I?!
His mind raced to produce the answers that most mattered and the answers he most wanted. He most wanted to know what had just happened, but he most needed to know where he was. His mind decided, of course, on what he most wanted.
It was most definitely a trap laid by the Sorcerer, he had been teleported to some place random within the confines of the competition. That in turn answered where he was, albeit abstractly.
He heard guards coming towards him from two directions and found no way to escape. He shook his head, very confident he would still move to the next round, even when counting with the discount he would suffer for being arrested, but the lack of full and complete certainty tugged at his patience like weed at a fence.
He wanted to exact revenge, he wanted to hurt someone.
And like that, he decided there would be no bribery involved in his escape from jail.
“Oh, you there, freeze!”
“Certainly,” The Mad Scientist complied, lifting his hands in surrender, “I will not resist.”
“Good,” one of the guards said, grabbing hold of his hands and bringing them down and behind his back, “one more out of the streets, boys. Go ahead, I’ll take him in.”
Falk counted the time, making sure that the match ended while he was being pushed away towards his would be cell. He was taken to a barracks and there he was strip searched and relieved of his gadgets and trinkets, something that infuriated him further. Despite that, he endeavored to hold an easy polite smile across his face.
Eventually he was finally put in the cell along with two other individuals, participants in the Shadow Conclave, no doubt. One was a young woman, black skinned with aviator goggles pulled up to her forehead and a tight-fitting jumpsuit, and the other was a young man with some kind of custom-made goggles, also pulled up to his forehead, and what Falk could only assume was a suit of dirt and filth, and somewhere under there, a shirt and pants which reminded Falk of a miner.
“I’m just saying, why invite us into this thing when the playing field is so against us? Stealing into people’s houses is not what I do,” the aviator girl was saying.
“I definitely concur. I made my career digging into places, no one can claim to be my better when it comes to that but this is–, oh, hello.”
The guard pushed Falk inside while yelling at the miner.
“Shut up!” The guard hit the bars, “we dunno what you did to all the stuff you stole, but you’re all still spending a day behind bars, I can promise you that!”
“Please, sir, refrain from yelling, people are sleeping out there.”
“Ha,” they both laughed.
“Yeah, very funny, you’re still behind bars.”
The guard left them there, walking away while ignoring the Mad Scientist’s glaring.
“Oh, wait, gold mechanical prosthetics,” the dirty miner pointed out, “are you the Mad Scientist?”
“Wow, they caught the Mad Scientist?!”
“Hm, greetings,” he glanced back again to see if he could recognize them.
“The Mole, I believe?” He dug into fortresses and banks and palaces, he was very good at that, Falk had to admit. They had traded tech designs before, under the guise of aliases; he was an accomplished inventor who Falk could respect.
“Easy to tell, correct?” He dusted off his sleeve a bit, pretending not to know they had the aforementioned relationship.
“I do not believe…I know who you are.”
“Oh it’s ok if you don’t know, I’m a first timer,” she explained a tad embarrassed, “they called me The Thieving Magpie, after the bird…because I normally escape by skydiving.”
“One who digs and one who falls…I can imagine this competition has been far from fortuitous for you two.”
“You can say that again,” she shook her head while the Mole shrugged.