I threw myself over the edge of the balcony.
The wind whistled in my ears as I fell and I spread out my arms for a moment, smiling as the wind moved around me. I looked up and braced myself for impact as the roof of the skyscraper started to come closer and closer. I might fall just a little short.
I reached out. My hand smacked the edge, scraping up my palms as I held on. I gritted my teeth as pulled myself up over the edge. That had been close. I needed to work on my falls more often.
I rolled onto the roof of the skyscraper and remained in a crouch. I put a hand to my earpiece. “Aylin, I could really use you right now.”
Aylin’s chipper voice came in through the earpiece. “Oh, sorry. What do you need?”
“Where did he go?” I said. “You better not have lost him already.”
She huffed. “Cody Rodrick Breyers,” she scolded. “I’ll have you know I am one of the best trackers you have. Of course I didn’t lose him.”
“Then where is he?” I said, turning to scan the rooftops.
“To your left,” she said.
I turned and cursed, dodging to the side as a swamp cooler sailed through the air, clipping my arm as it passed. I whirled to face a man wearing all gray, including a mask that covered most of his head.
His eyes widened as he realized I hadn’t been disabled by the flying swamp cooler. He turned and jumped off the edge of the roof, hitting the next rooftop in a somersault. He jumped to his feet and started to run.
I dove after him, grunting in annoyance as I fell short of the rooftop again. I touched the charm on my bracelet and the wind solidified beneath me for a moment, giving me just enough support to jump onto the roof.
“I’ll have to do more running starts before I jump,” I muttered, rushing after the man.
“He’s straight ahead of you,” Aylin announced.
I rolled my eyes. “Yes, I can see him. Right now I want you to focus on getting Zane on the scene. I could really use some help.”
I jumped onto the next rooftop and nearly landed on top of the gray ninja, or Silverfall as he called himself. He let out a muffled cry as he dashed toward the edge and my hands just barely missed the sash around his waist. I crashed to the rooftop and scrambled to my feet, grumbling. It was only a matter of time before he got desperate enough to start using magic on me. If the rumors were true, I would need backup in order to keep up with him.
“Found Zane,” Aylin said. “He’s five blocks away, on the street.”
I groaned. “On the street? He needs to be up on the skyscrapers.”
Ahead of me, Silverfall took an enormous leap over a busy street. I slowed down to stop at the edge of the roof, glaring at him as he landed on top of a skyscraper and turned back to see if I’d follow.
“He’s definitely enhanced,” I said, backing up. I pulled up my sleeve and looked at all my charms. The one I’d used before had turned black, losing its color. I had twelve left, none of which could help me with an enhanced jump like this.
“Aylin,” I shouted. “How far is Zane?”
“He’s on the street below you,” she said.
“Hi, Cody.” Zane’s accented voice came in through the earpiece. “Need a lift?”
“A lift would be nice,” I said, looking down at the street below me.
A man stood on the sidewalk next to his black motorcycle. He was the only one on the street who seemed to notice me. He waved. “I see you,” he said. “That’s an impossible jump, kijana.”
“Come on,” I groaned. “Don’t you have any spells or anything that can help?”
“Yeah.” He sounded reluctant. “But it is expensive. Are you sure catching Silverfall is worth it?”
“Trust me,” I said. “It’s worth it. I’ve been tracking this guy for two months. Help me out. I’ll find a way to pay you back.”
Zane snorted. “Kijana, you don’t have a penny to your name.”
“I have charms,” I said. “Look, can we figure this out later? He’s getting away.”
Silverfall had already jumped another building over, but he wasn’t in as much of a hurry as he had been before. He seemed to know the jump was beyond my level of magic.
“Alright, kijana. Calm down. I’ll help you. Get ready to jump. You’ll want a running start.”
I backed up a few feet. “Tell me when,” I said.
“Three,” Zane said. “Two…one.”
I sprinted to the edge of the building and jumped, giving it all I had. I sailed through the air, but already my jump was curving downward. “Zane,” I shouted.
An enormous blast of air shot up from the street below. It slammed into me and I flew upward, high above the skyscraper I’d been aiming for. I curved down again and hit the edge of the next building. I grabbed the edge, ignoring the flash of pain as the building jammed into my stomach. I gritted my teeth and rolled onto the roof, choking back a sob of pain.
I pulled up my sleeve and touched a blue charm on my wrist. The pain faded away and I could feel my ribs reconnecting, the damaged skin and muscle around them reknitting.
“Dude,” I cried. “You broke my ribs.”
“Sorry, Kijana,” Zane said. “I did warn you it is powerful.”
I got to my feet, my ribs still aching slightly despite the healing charm. I couldn’t afford another injury. I ran to the edge of the building, but stopped. “Aylin?” I said.
“Look to your right,” she said.
I spun. The Gray Ninja was two buildings away. I muttered my thanks to Aylin as I ran to the edge and jumped.
I could feel my body starting to wear out. The persistence charm on my right wrist was glowing, but it wouldn’t last much longer. I had to hurry and catch him. Time to make a risky move.
I jumped to the next building. The healing charm had gone dim, its magic expended. I brushed my fingertips against an orange one with a straight line in its center. I jumped just as the charm started to glow. Silverfall was just barely in range for this one.
I stretched my hand out toward him, channeling my sudden burst of magic. The ray of power would be invisible to any bystanders, but I could feel the energy leave me, focused on one target.
Silverfall turned, his eyes widening as the magic reached him. He raised an arm and a power shield appeared in front of him, absorbing my blast. I blinked in surprise. How had he done that?
He was still a building over and my persistence charm was running out. I pulled all the rest of the magic from the charm, using it in a single burst as I jumped over to his skyscraper. Silverfall was crouched, breathing heavily. He may have avoided my charm, but the magic he’d used had drained him, nearly as much as mine had drained me.
I took a deep breath, looking down at the persistence charm as it dimmed. Immediately, I could feel the effects the chase had on me. It was exhausting. I leaned against a swamp cooler, forcing myself to stay upright.
Silverfall sat down, crossing his legs, and motioned for me to sit as well. I stared at him for a moment. Neither of us had the upper hand here. We had both used too much magic. Maybe he wanted to talk. All I really wanted to do was arrest him, but I was too tired to stand against him if he decided to fight back.
I nodded and moved a little closer before sitting. We stared at each other for a long moment before I finally spoke.
“We are at the end of the game,” I said. “It’s time you gave yourself up, Desmon.”
He continued to stare at me.
“I have grown much stronger since we last fought,” I said. “I am not afraid of you.”
He just stared.
“Are you even listening to me?”
Silverfall blinked. “I think you have me mistaken for someone else.”
I stared. That voice had sounded distinctly feminine with a British accent. It had never occurred to me that Silverfall wouldn’t be Desmon.
“Who are you?” I said.
“Not the criminal mastermind that you think I am,” she said. “I have heard of you, Cody Breyers. Last I checked, you were not the chaser in your law enforcement squad.”
I blushed. “That was Zane’s job,” I said. “He’s on the street. I was the closest one to you. None of the other cops were nearby.”
She shrugged. “Well, I must appreciate your perseverance at least. You gave me quite the chase.”
I glanced down at the charms on my wrists. “Who are you?” I asked. “Do you work for Desmon?”
She snorted. “Even if I did, why would I tell you that? You are intent on arresting him.”
“You know who I am,” I said. “It’s only fair you reveal who you are.”
Her eyes sparkled in amusement. “Do you really not recognize my voice?”
I studied her. Her voice did sound familiar.
She shook her head, rolling her eyes. “You are clever, Cody, but you are not always the brightest.” She lifted her hands and removed her mask.
I gasped. Through my earpiece, both Zane and Aylin gasped at the same time.
“Whoa,” Aylin said. “Isn’t that your ex-girlfriend? This is so cool. You finally get to arrest her.”
“Kathy,” I hissed.
“Miss me, Sweetheart?” she said, smirking. “I may not be the criminal you expected, but I’m probably the one you want to arrest most.”
I buried my hands in my hair. “How could I be so stupid? Of course it was you. Desmon isn’t so subtle when he pulls of heists.”
“That’s right,” She stood and pulled a glass vial out of her pocket. A dark violet spell thrashed around inside. A curse.
“I suggest you surrender to me,” she said. “This is a pretty nasty curse. I caught it myself.”
I stared at the curse. It thrashed against its glassy confines. For a moment, a tiny face appeared and bared its teeth at me. I shuddered. That was not the sort of spell I would want hanging around me. I slowly raised my hands.
Kath smiled. “I knew you would cooperate. You may be young, but you are not stupid. Now I want you to stand and hold out your wrists.”
I sighed and stood, holding out my arms. I was tempted to try one of my charms, but it always took a few seconds to start up and she would undoubtedly notice before I could even complete the magic.
She stepped forward, examining my charms. “Is this all you have?” she said.
“It’s all I have with me,” I said.
She shook her head. “I thought you were always prepared.”
“I was prepared,” I said. “I caught up to you, didn’t I?”
She shrugged. “Fair enough. I can sell this lot for a pretty price.”
I sputtered. “Sell it?” I cried. “To other criminals?”
She chuckled. “Well I can’t leave them with you or you might actually recover enough to follow me.”
“Recover?” My eyes darted to the vial, which she had already unstopped. It was empty.
“You snake,” I said.
She raised her hand. All of my charms detached from my bracelets and flew to the bracelets on her wrists. The curse immediately latched onto me from behind. I groaned and collapsed, my body seizing up under the curse’s control.
She smirked and gave me a small wave. “Toodle-oo Cody.”
“Hey,” I shouted. I tried to stand, but my arm froze and fell, smacking the rooftop. I groaned. The curse seized control of my entire body, which fell limp. I couldn’t move. I could only watch as Kath turned.
Zane appeared beside her, holding up a gun. “Hands up,” he said.
“Do you really want to try your luck against this gun?” Zane said.
“That’s human weapons,” she snarled. “I’m not afraid of them.”
He rolled his eyes. “Kath, you are human. You can be hurt as easily as any other human.”
Kath sighed and raised her hands. “Alright. You got me.”
Zane took all of her spells, curses, and charms, before putting a binding spell over her. Only then did he lower his gun and approach me.
He crouched beside me and grinned, his teeth a stark white against his dark skin. “Kijana. You are not dead.”
“Really?” I complained. “You couldn’t have come before she released the curse?”
He shrugged. “Teleportation is powerful spell. Takes long to use. Plus I am not as young as you are. I had to wait until you were stopped.”
I groaned. “Stop smirking, Kath.”
“I can’t help it,” she said. “This is more entertaining than the time you slipped on your own spell and fell down the stairs.”
Zane chuckled. “That was funny.”
“Zane,” I said. “Let’s get out of here before I die of humiliation.”
He laughed. “You’ve got it.” He lifted a bottled spell from his pouch and raised an eyebrow. “I take convict first. Aylin will come back for you.”
He uncorked the bottle and breathed in the spell. There was a loud pop and both him and Kath vanished, leaving me alone on the rooftop.