She held out her hand to the ray of bright billboard sunshine streaming through the window and watched shadows of her fingers edge out from the dark borders of the window frame. She enjoyed the warm touch of the light amid the coolness of the room and twisted her hand this way and that. As a shadow, her hand seemed completely normal, human-like. The real deal however, was a little different. She leaned against the wall, studying the lycanic features of her hand.

She frowned as her hand began to feel unusually warm. As if it was hotter than the neon light touching it. She stared in horror as smoke began to emit from her fingers, and the palm of her hand. But it wasn’t until her hand burst into flames did she began to scream.

“What? WHAT? OH MY GOD! OH OH OH!” Royan rushed up and tried to extinguish the fire with the long lapels of his coat. She pulled away, laughing so hard she doubled up. Royan stared at her, dumbfounded. But his memory of her magical abilities soon caught up with him, and he scoffed in frustration.

A little way away, Luc sat on the floor peeling a fruit. The commotion made him look up, and he too began laughing in his quiet chuckling manner. “Did you forget she could do that?” he paused in his cutting, grinning at Royan.

Royan pouted. “YES. My mind is quite occupied so sorry if I forgot Keona could do that,” he waved his hand at the fox-girl practically rolling around in laughter.

Luc sighed. “Bougie, say sorry,” he purred. Keona ceased rocking and tried to compose herself, wiping away little tears. The flames of her hand flickered out as she ran it through her hair. She took in a deep breath and straightened, becoming the poised and commanding pirate captain. “Sorry,” she squeaked, grinning and shrugging, breaking the illusion.

The human runaway prince sucked in a breath and relaxed. “I appreciate the distraction, captain, but I’ll feel better when MARS is done scanning that database,” he drooped. Keona swooped in for a quick hug, on which he reciprocated with a brotherly pat. “Speaking of, I should go check up on them,” Keona broke the hug and peered out the window.

The street below them was lit up with neon lights and bustling with all sorts of people, a typical night for the planet. Elevated traffic was high, with many going to  the entertainment spots all over the city. Strange place to have the galaxy’s largest library, but she guessed there was indeed entertainment for everyone, as par the claim “biggest amusement moon in this side of the galaxy”. This whole rock was a damn park.

Giving Luc and Royan a wave, she slinked onto the window frame carefully. The library towered across from her, its many large balconies dedicated to readers dark with closed hours. Keona risked a peek to her downward, and was met with the endless drop of the buildings.The buildings were so tall, the ground wasn’t even visible anymore, just a foreboding fog of smoke. Keona reckoned there was at least 600 feet of building below that line, giving someone plenty of time to think what went wrong after a slip. For a brief moment, she imagined what a sky collision would look like, and the minimal mess the clean-up crew would have to deal with. The fog would swallow everything up.

Suddenly struck with a bout of dizziness, she looked up again, and focused on the inconspicuous open maintenance vent gaping at her from the library. From this angle, the only way you could tell that the building had been breached was if you were in the building directly next to the library, and at least only five floors up or down. Thankfully, the nightclub that used to own this chunk had been closed down for the past week due to misdemeanor and smuggling. A great stroke of luck.

With a pounce, she landed stealthily in the vent and padded through, stopping just at the internal opening looking out at the library’s fourth reception floor. The area was deathly quiet, and void of even the low hum of cleaner bots. The time window was small, with MARS and the Tikkori brothers at the eighth minute of their 10-minute frame. Luc and Royan were keeping a path open to the ship gently wedged between the nightclub and the office adjacent to the library; which Jai was taking great care not for it to slip.

Keona sniffed the air, trying to determine where the birds and the android were. She stuck her head out just a little further, getting a trace, when suddenly, the alarms went off. Red and yellow lights flashed and a infuriatingly annoying alarm blared. Keona jumped, startled and tumbled into the library.

“RUN RUN RUN! RUUUUUN!!!” Fang came tearing down a far corner, with Talon dragging MARS behind him at a worrying speed. “WHAT HAPPENED?” Keona ran up to meet them. She was answered with a narrow miss of an electric blast that hit the wall behind her, leaving a large scorch mark. Two sentry bots hovered at the end of the hall behind them, the threatening white scanner lights blinking. Keona hit the floor dodging, but scrambled up fast enough to grab the unconscious MARS by her trailing arms and hauled her up, allowing Talon to move faster.

Fang leapt into the vent, and Talon and Keona swung MARS up to his awaiting grasp. Fang jumped up next, and turned to reach for Keona. “Out! I’ll catch up,” Keona brushed him off and bolted, leading the sentry bots away from the vent. She took them in a circle, running around the main information pillars. As she rounded a corner, she let lose a jet stream of fire from her tail, whipping it at the bots. One bot caught it directly in its face, crashing into the wall.

The other bot snapped out its control truncheon, and managed to stun Keona with a charge. She jolted, gritting her teeth at the white pain. The shock flung her forward, but away from the bot, giving her some space. Growling, Keona sucked in a breath and exhaled, shooting fire from her jaws. The bot beeped with the unexpected rise in temperature, and froze momentarily.

Fleeing, Keona zipped into the vent and shut it behind her, racing towards the window opposite. Luc was waiting, one hand gripping the windowsill and another reaching out to grab her. This time she didn’t bother to pause for the leap.

Gritting her teeth, she felt her feet push off the edge of the vent frame and herself flailing. Luc’s shocked face came into view for a second, before she crashed right into him. They tumbled painfully back into the room. Her feet were alight with her fire, possibly from an unconscious reaction of her pleading for a boost for the jump. Luc scrambled to his feet and made sure Keona bounded along, running to the window that lead to the ship.

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