If your character ever lacks motivation, you should hop right to fixing it.
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The Kid – by Faith Song
Short, pounding footsteps made Maxwell’s hand drift to his gun. An instant later, his training kicked in, and he recognized the length of the footsteps. A child, who limped.
The kid ducked through the door and skidded to a stop, her gaze darting between the doors, likely looking for an escape route. Her hand was clenched into a fist against her chest.
Maxwell shifted, his hand moving away from his gun holster to steady himself on the thin rafter.
The steadily growing presence of the two agents following her kept his senses peaked, but they were far enough away that he would not need his gun as of yet.
She took a small step forward, rubbing a slightly dirty hand along a scar which curved around her face.
Maxwell scanned the kid. She was around ten, obviously at least poor, if not homeless. The scar looked as if her skin had been scraped off at some point and healed poorly.
She evidently heard the agents behind her, because she started and limped toward a door.
Light from the dusty window glinted on the edge of the object she held in her clenched fist.
Maxwell glanced up at the hallway where she had come from, quickly estimating how long it would take for Wilson and Sutherland to arrive. Too soon, but it seemed he had to risk it.
He dropped out of the rafters, landing lightly on his feet a foot away from where the kid stood.
She jerked back, letting out a small yelp.
Maxwell grabbed her wrists. “Shh. Quiet, kid. I’m not with them. I won’t hurt you.”
Her small hands trembled. For a moment, he almost felt sorry for her.
Only almost, of course.
“What is it you took from them?”
Her fists tightened. “I-I didn’t know they were—I thought they were police after they saw me, but then they shot something at me, and I just took a—” She stopped, her voice cracking. Her voice came out as a trembling whisper. “Please don’t let them shoot me, mister.”
Maxwell slid one hand down to her clenched fist. “I’ll try not to, kid. What’s your name?”
Tears glimmered in her eyes. “D-Debbie Marcel.”
“Okay, Debbie. I’ll try to keep you from them. Let me see what you have, mm?”
Her hand slowly relaxed. Maxwell took the coin carefully. It was split in half down the middle, with a crumpled paper lodged inside one end.
His gaze snapped up to her eyes, which were wide and blue. “You read it?”
She hesitated, then nodded, trembling. “I thought it was a coin, so I just took it out of his pocket, and then it came open, and there was a paper, so I read it…” She shook her head, “And the man saw me and tried to get it, and when I ran, he tried to shoot me.” She shook her head sharply. “Th-they were going to sh-shoot—”
Maxwell scowled. “Stop it. Calm down, or I won’t be able to get you out of here.”
Debbie bit her lip and stood a little bit straighter, meeting his gaze.
The agents would be here any second.
He shoved the coin halves into his pocket, pulling Debbie through a doorway to a stairwell.
There was no way she could get down the stairs at a reasonable rate with that limp of hers. He crouched and pulled her onto his back. Her hands latched around his neck, and her legs around his waist. He pulled himself up to his feet and frowned, creeping quickly toward the iron stairs.
“What did the paper say, Debbie?” he murmured, starting down.
“A ship number.” Her grip tightened around him. “I know because D-dad was a ship pilot.”
“And the number?”
She repeated what sounded like a valid ship ID number.
So she was a liability. Fabulous.
Something clicked above him. He spun around, pulling his gun out with one hand.
Debbie cried out and slumped against him, slipping a bit without the support of his other arm.
He sensed the presence of both agents crouched behind the door frame.
This kid was way too distracting.
He adjusted his grip on Debbie and sprinted downward, firing a warning shot upward when he was halfway down.
Maxwell reached the base of the stairs and set Debbie against the wall beside the door, outside the stairwell.
He pulled the dart from the back of her collarbone and leaned out of the doorway enough to see Sutherland leaning out enough to fire. He aimed and fired in a moment, then jerked back at a sharp pain in his forearm.
He yanked out the dart and dropped it on the floor.
Despite his training, Maxwell would be unconscious within fifteen minutes, and their Interrogators would be worse than a bullet to the head. Not only for Maxwell.
He growled under his breath and scooped Debbie into his arms. No Interrogator would get the information out of either of them.
Unfortunately, with Debbie unconscious, Maxwell couldn’t reach his gun.
Maxwell tightened his hold on the street kid and sprinted out of the building.
Cole met him with a car in one of the city’s many dirty alleys. Maxwell put Debbie on the car floor and crouched beside her, below window level.
Cole drove out into the stream of traffic, chuckling under his breath. “Found a new friend, or is she ID codes in disguise?”
“A liability.” Maxwell muttered, pulling the coin out of his pocket. The paper did, indeed, have a ship ID identical to the one Debbie had recited.
The kid had a memory like an elephant.
“She saw the codes, then?”
Maxwell grunted an affirmation. “Picked their pocket.” he muttered.
“You alright, Victor?”
His mind was growing foggy. He leaned his head against the car door. “Mmmhm. Keep driving.”
“And the kid?”
Maxwell clenched his jaw against a headache. “She’ll stick around until the ship takes off.”
“Is that wise…?”
Maxwell smiled grimly. “Of course not.”
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