“This, once again, is because of your hubris, ‘Captain’!”
At the shout, Bookworm craned her neck, searching for the flying vehicle Prometheus must be in. Shouts from a couple of the militia members, and their pointing arms, drew her attention to a small, motorized flying machine hovering above the building. “He’s landing on the roof!” she yelled.
In that, though, she was mistaken. The bear dropped a few things on the roof and steered his ship higher. Zaros Xue grabbed her crossbow and fired a few shots at the flying machine, but it was already out of range. And the attention of everyone outside was quickly focused on the glow coming from the roof, as well as the growing plumes of smoke.
Bookworm cursed once, ordered some of the militia to gather the fire brigade, and dashed inside, followed by Zaros, Kea, and Mr. Wright. “We have to get everyone out as quickly as possible,” Zaros said, as they entered the bay with the elevator.
“What is the commotion down there?”
Canergak’s voice drifted down the elevator shaft.
“Mr. Canergak!” Bookworm called up. “The roof is on fire! You need to evacuate now!”
“Is that all? You’re on the fire brigade – put it out!”
“That works better when there isn’t anyone inside!” she shouted impatiently.
“He’s stubborn as a goat!” Zaros exclaimed. “Shall we carry him out if we have to?”
Mr. Wright added his voice. “As head of your security, I highly suggest evacuating, sir.”
“As someone who is *not* afraid, I highly suggest you calm down and look at what is on fire. Do not let fear cloud your minds.”
Kea sighed. “Is he like this often?”
“All the time,” Bookworm muttered. But she quickly made for the outer door again, and went out to see what was happening.
A few more militia members were present now, along with a pump truck, spraying water up onto the roof. Burned debris was scattered on the ground near the building. Bookworm peered upward, and realized why Canergak was so unconcerned. Shaking her head, she went back inside and rejoined the others. “Well, you’re full of tricks, aren’t you?” she called up the shaft. At the questioning look of the others, she added, “He had brick underneath, so only the wooden shell burned away. We’ll just need to mop up the pieces that fell.”
The elevator suddenly shuddered to life, and the car brought Canergak down to them. “The building being on fire amounts to little when there’s one meter of metal and brick on the exterior. All the windows are now fake, as well.”
“Tell me… was this place designed by one of the patients here, by any chance?” Kea asked softly.
“Well, Beatrixe Rouse built it…” Bookworm muttered, and turned her attention back to Canergak. “And will it stand up against explosives? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was their next step.” He just looked enigmatic, and she narrowed her eyes. “Dare I ask what other little tricks this place has, Mr. Canergak?”
“You know them well enough. That was a relatively mundane deterent, considering that arson is a chief cause of buildings being destroyed in this city. And that fox, Tepic, broke into all the windows, attempted to get in through the bricks, attempted to get in underwater…” He sighed impatiently, looking around at the gathered group. “Do I have to justify the measures I have taken, when so many have been hurt because they thought they knew better, broke inside, and hurt themselves and others?”
He turned his attention back to Bookworm. “I checked on Dr. Solsen. He is fine, before you ask.”
“That’s good to know,” she replied levelly, keeping a rein on her annoyance. “And Lisa?”
“She was worried, but is ultimately unharmed.”
Bookworm nodded. “I’ll keep more men stationed here. And see if we can get an aerial patrol, since we now know they have access to a flying machine.”
“Perhaps we should mount a maxim gun on the roof to deter more aerial bombardments, sir,” Mr. Wright added, his tone flat.
“Very well.” Canergak looked his way, and seemed to truly see him for the first time. His expression suddenly showed more than a touch of anger. “Again. This is insulting now.” With that, he stomped back into the elevator car, punching a button hard and riding it back up.
Kea shrugged, and muttered, “Well, at least he’s honest.”
“An odd one, for sure,” Zaros added, shaking her head. “Shall we go, Kea?” The two of them bowed their farewells to Bookworm and Mr. Wright, and headed for the door.
Mr. Wright sighed. “I am the security professional here, really.”
“He always knows best,” replied Bookworm with a wry smile. “I’d better see to things outside.”
Mr. Wright joined her as she surveyed the scene, and they made notes as they assessed the limited damage, and the fire brigade members cleaned up the last mess of the wooden roof. She shook her head and sighed. “I really wish there was a way to be proactive against this gang, instead of reactive.”
“I heard from Beryl that one of them was killed the other night. Someone did find them, and someone was proactive. Now the rest of us need to be, as well.”
Bookworm frowned. “That was Snow. Killing, though, is not what I wanted.”
“Sometimes, It ain’t about what we want, it’s about what we have to do.”
Mr. Wright shrugged. “If killin’ is the only way to stop ’em, then you have to be prepared to take that step.”
Bookworm nodded once, conceding that he had a point, and returned to the hospital to let them know their services wouldn’t be needed that night. Naturally, there was a note from Prometheus waiting.
You kept your resolve and my brother remains inside the facility. Very well. We shall have to weigh our options, but we will return for our brother, ‘Captain.’ It would have been easier to evacuate.