Chapter 2:

Not born under a lucky star ( 1/2 )

Chaos' Game


Following the flashlight falling on the ground with his eyes, Woodle instantly understood that the things wouldn't be that easy. He quickly put over again his night glasses and looked around, though he saw nobody.

Where the hell is the person who stood right there less than a minute back in time?!

     Stay focused. Keep thinking. He heard any noise, so it couldn't be possible to escape jumping in the water. No. There was a fact far more important to notice. There wasn't even time to jump into the water nor to run anywhere since the intruder disappeared at the same instant he threw the lightning trap.

The only explanation that remains is that he possesses a supernatural ability. There's no other way.” he thought, dropping the torch in order to switch it off.

     A few seconds were enough to make the situation quite unpleasant. He had revealed his presence while learning nothing on his opponent. A heavy silence fell on the endless gallery, Woodle focusing on every single sound. After a while of confusion, he remembered. The sole thing he had to do to find his mysterious guest, after all, was to check his position on his device. So did he.

“Impossible...” he murmured, widening his eyes.

     What he sighted gave him more than ever the impression that he was the one who became the prey.

     Nothing.

     Nothing at all. The red dot vanished. The only one remaining in that zone was his own, a green dot. Was he gone? Did that mean the interloper wasn't in the restricted area anymore? Though he knew it couldn't be the answer. Indeed, Spider would have sent an alert on his watch reporting that the unknown one left the area. He couldn't mislead the motion detector that easily.

     Moreover, his aim didn't seem to be attacking him. Otherwise, he would already take advantage of the confusion.

“You want it? Your flashlight. Too bad…. Without it, it would be tough to go back, don't you think so?” he spoke up, as the intruder may hear him.

     Woodle resumed walking through the gallery, looking all around. As he obtained no answer, he resolved to switch on the torch, waving it in his hand as a lure.

     Something sneaked in his back in the utmost silence and suddenly a hand emerging from nowhere reached out for the torch. However the young boy somehow managed to turn around while feeling the sudden air flow in his back. The hand missed its target and through his glasses the hacker briefly perceived a youthful girl's astonished face, surrounded by long blond hair.

     Yet the succeeding moment she disappeared again, as if swallowed by darkness. Albeit this time Woodle beheld an uncommon thing. In a corner illuminated by a ray of light from the torch, a shadow slithered to the penumbra, mingling in it.

“You won't be able to hide eternally.” the young fellow said with a slight smile, removing his glasses.

     He knew that wasn't what he needed to catch the intruder. The mere required tool was already into his hands.

“Now… Let's play tag together!” he shouted out as pointing the flashlight here and there, until it lighted a shadow on the wall. The petty girl's shadow!

“Found!”

     For a few seconds it froze until it began running away on the wall. But the Player would not let her escape anymore and pursued her, keeping the torch shined on her shadow.

     Sticking his hand in his shoulder bag, he took out of it small spheres with metallic reflections and hurled them one after another aiming the shadow. At the very moment they hit the sandstone wall, it burst the stone, scattering fragments all around. The tiny shadow narrowly avoided the explosions, though it couldn't avoid the last one. As it hit its back, it fell forward rolling on the wall unless, leaving consciousness, the shadow fell out of the wall, instantly returning to human form.

     A satisfied smile upon his face, he approached the little shape curled up on the dusty ground and knelt near to her.

“Well, well, let's take a look at our nimble mouse. You were quite audacious I admit, unluckily for you it's game over. That was the wrong place to poke your muzzle in.”

     A few scratches covered her sweet face. Looking closer, her dress which seemed to be dark grey at first glance let appear little pieces of fabric from a slightly brighter colour, together with small holes sprinkled on her clothing. These were more or less hidden by stitches. Who can ever guess the original colour of her dress? No doubt she wore it for several months or even years.

“...”

     Woodle put on a more serious expression, though still smiling. Was that girl an orphan? He intended to approach a hand to her when she suddenly opened her eyes. Before he had time to react, the hacker could feel the sharp end of a Swiss knife on his chest, while a hand tightly grabbed his jacket.

     Unable to move back, Woodle opened his eyes widely and, keeping his calm, he met her gaze. She had deep green eyes where fluttered leaves of sweetness, though it gave him the feeling it hid besmirch buds of innocence.

     For a few seconds, time stood still. Only water persisted flowing out below, a rat swimming against the stream.

“If- If you make a single move I will kill you!!” shouted the child, breaking the silence. Her pupils narrowed out of a sudden, her eyes moistening.

“Have you ever killed someone before?” the young fellow asked with a quiet voice.

     The tiny girl remained voiceless as she didn't expect such a reaction. How could he stay this calm in the present situation and ask that naturally this kind of question?

“I doubt it. Then it will be your first time. Don't forget to drive my corpse into the water. 'Hope you'll have strength enough.” added Woodle with an ounce of cynicism in his voice.

“BE QUIET!!” screamed the blond girl, soon bursting into wild sobs.

“All I want is to have some rest! You're the insane one who tried to kill me! Enough! Enough! Enough! Why can't I breathe quietly even in a remote place???”

     Actually… Woodle seemed quite annoyed by the girl's attitude and he let her shed tears for a while. Not moving began to give him body aches as he had to remain in the same position. Quite uncomfortable.

“Well… What about you let me go and I let you leave this place in return? Deal?” he proposed.

“People never keep their promises.” she replied with a disenchanted voice.

     The hacker had a silent laugh. Though she seemed to be relatively young, he wondered if her body wasn't the only part of her offering that impression.

“I see that you're not a mere fool. You're rather impressive. Tell me, why did you come in there? That's not a suitable place for you.”

     The child stared at him through her remaining sobs, not letting her guard down. She still maintained her blade pressed against his chest.

“As if the surface was more suitable… You think streets are more secure for an eight years old girl? I'm enough to be one day stalked by a dubious man and the other chased by policemen.” she argued.

“Why would policemen chase you?” he asked.

“Isn't it obvious? … They want to capture me and put me in an orphanage or a host family, whatever.” she sighed. “Can't they just let me free?”

     A spark passed by in Woodle's gaze.

“Is this what you truly desire?”

“Of course it is!!” she claimed with a more vivid glance than ever before.

“So, instead of getting one of us killed today, what about joining us?”

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