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New York

The front of Locklear Enterprises looked as if it at been bombed, which in many ways it has. There were half a dozen alien pirates scattered about, all focused on her, all pointing their weapons at her and pressing the trigger. Above, the dog-faced alien was descending upon some flying bike. Avis had no choice but to run for it. Fly more like it.

Propelling herself into the air, Avis zigged and zagged through the city streets, avoiding the continue shots fired at her from the pursuing aliens. Their weapons were powerful, almost as powerful as her own energy strikes. They destroyed anything they hit, buildings, sidewalks, roads, cars… people. The streets of New York were beginning to turn into a war zone, sirens blared all around her, people beneath her screamed and ran for cover. At this rate, Avis would cause innocent people to die. That was never her attention. She needed to stop these aliens, but not here, not with all these people. Below ground, the waterways, sewers, Rhel’s Headquarters, she could trap them down there. They’d avoid getting innocents involve and maybe with the maze system in place she could lose them and gain some distance.  It wasn’t much of a plan, but at least she had one. Now all Avis had to do was find a street that wasn’t jammed with cars for a manhole.

Another blast skimmed Avis’s back, she lowered a bit and took another right. Ahead of her she could see Central Park. Bingo, she thought as she sped up towards the greenery. The trees could provide some cover, maybe even giver her a chance to get underground. Once above the canopy of trees she ducked down through the branches her hands stretched out to catch a few, twisting and turning, jumping of other branches back and forth until she landed with a soft thud on the ground.

“Where are you… c’mon…” Avis whispered to herself as she kept under the cover of the trees, running from trunk to trunk scanning her surroundings. There had to be a manhole around here somewhere. While Avis looked, the alien’s bike zoomed overhead, back and forth, slowing down and speeding up. For the moment, it seemed they’ve lost her, but with other air traffic from helicopters, it’ll only be a matter of time before something else happens and the shooting would start again. It was the last thing Avis wanted, to be the cause of a disaster, death and havoc. She finally understood why her mother made all those rules growing up, why even her mother didn’t seem to actively search for a way off this planet.

Until now, there weren’t any crazed treasure-seeking pirates on this planet, nobody who knew her, or this star chart. Whatever importance it held, nobody on earth knew about it or cared. It was safe. Was this what Avis would have to get used to if she left Earth? Others like these pirates chasing her down? She liked adventure, but this could be too much. Avis gripped the strap of her bag, it was too late now, she seemed to get what she wished for. Earth wasn’t safe for this star chart any longer. Even if there was some miracle and these pirates left, what’s stopping some other group or organization from coming here?

There. Avis spotted a manhole cover. It was under one of the stone bridges. With another look around, she bolted from her cover, ran over the grassy hill, paved walkways and slid under the bridge. She held her breath, counted to three before lifting the metal lid off. She slipped in and returned the lid back to it’s original spot. She stood there again, in the semi darkness with light from above pouring through the holes. There were no shouts, or shots, it seemed they didn’t notice her. She breathed a sigh of relief before climbing down into the tunnel. Now came the tricky part, finding Rhel’s hideout.

***

It must have been twenty minutes, or half an hour of Avis running every which way she could in the tunnels under the massive city. She found entrances to the water ways, and old abandoned subways, but not the right way to Rhel’s hideout. But that didn’t stop the teenager from moving, she had to, she swore she could hear the echo’s of other voices drifting through the tunnels, followed by footsteps and other odd sounds that made Avis pick up her pace.

During her search, her brain began to drift and thoughts of her father came to her. She didn’t know if he was alright, or eve in the building during the attack. Eve would be, but she didn’t seem to worry as much about her. Would the aliens just scare everyone and take what they want? Or were they really killing anyone that got in their way as they did on the streets? Earth Pirates never seemed this ruthless to Avis, at least not in the stories she’d read. These were a completely different set of pirates, ones where she didn’t know or understand their rules or code… if they had one. Would they kill her for the star chart? Every fibre in Avis’s heart said yes.

More echos of footsteps made Avis stop and dart into a small opening along the wall. She curled into a ball and tried not to let the panic, fear and stress get to her. What sort of Aygrid was she? Her mother talked of her people being brave, strong warriors, who held their heads high when going into battle, who found honour in death and were loyal to their planet and King. Here she was, about ready to cry, in some unknown tunnel under New York city. All Avis could think of was letting her mother down, letting her memory and her people down.

“Rision?” The voice hissed and Avis’s head whipped up, and screamed. It was cut short as a scaly hand pressed down hard over her mouth. “Shhh, these tunnels are full of strangers…” There was a small light coming from a flashlight the lizard-alien held in his hand. It took Avis a moment to remember the face, and calm down. The alien Wyess sensed her relaxation and pulled his hand aside. “What are you doing here child?”

“I… was chased… I needed to get off the streets.” Avis said, her voice low, but thankful to find someone she recognized down here, though part of her wished it was the Bouncer guy Brutus. He seemed like the right kind a guy to have in this sort of situation.

“So, you brought them down here?” Wyess said, with some annoyance.

“I’m sorry… I… I needed to get away. They found me back home, I didn’t know where else to go.”

“No… it’s alright. Actually good in a way. The ship is just about ready to go. That Lieutenant Colonel lied to Rhel, all we need is some crystals and that Art-GRAVE device your father invented and we should be able to get off this planet tonight.”

“What?” Avis asked, surprised and confused by what Wyess was saying.

“Forget it, all we need to do is meet up with Rhel and get to Nevada.”

“Where is he?” Avis asked as she unraveled herself from her hiding spot.

“At Locklear Enterprises…” Wyess voice dropped and his shoulders sagged. “Damnit, they attacked you there, didn’t they?” Avis nodded and Wyess ran a scaly hand over his bare head. “Still, we can’t stay here. Stay close, we’ll try to sneak past them.”

“What ship?” Avis asked after some time passed. She trusted Wyess knew where he was going, though she still felt as if they were moving in circles. He would walk slow, make them stop at any opening, poke his head out, listen, than urge her to follow him down a new path.

“Your mother’s ship if I’m not mistaken.” Wyess answered. “It was the only ship the Air Force managed to get their hands on that was in relatively one piece. They must have taken parts from Rhel’s to patch it up. Either case, I finally got into their system and realized that they were further along that they were letting on… or that they realized. I’ve taken as many crystals we’ve managed to scavenge and hope they’ll be enough to get the ship into orbit.”

“Would this help?” Avis asked, pausing to dig around into her bag and pulled out the crystal she found.

“Thats… that’s a scarlet crystal.” Wyess said.

“I’d call it more maroon…”

“No, it’s perfect.”

“But, it has a crack… can it still be used?” Avis asked, unsure why Wyess was getting so excited.

“As long as it’s not all the way through, it should still hold up, at least until you reach more civilized space.” Wyess said, taking a closer look at the crystal.

“I also found this in a security box that belonged to my mom.” Avis said pulling out the big USB stick.

“That should be the ship’s memory, and software!” Wyess said. “Usually such things are deleted, or forgotten, but your mother must have downloaded everything before she left the ship. With that crystal and memory device you’ve got the heart and brain of that ship.” Wyess laughed. “Rhel will be shitting himself when he finds out.” He gave the items back to Avis, who was amazed at the potential they had. Now all they needed to do was head to Nevada.

Wyess continued to go on about on about Airgryd technology, their crystals and ship-works when they rounded the corner, and stumbled on two humans in military clothes. Avis wasn’t expecting to see the military down in the sewers and froze when the two locked eyes. Wyess tossed her a bag of crystals and shoved her to the ground just as bullets filled the air around them.

“Wyess!” Avis shouted, seeing his body silhouetted by the bright lights the military personnel were carrying for just a second before it fell to the ground. Dark green blood began to pool beneath him.

“That’s the girl. Get her.” The soldier shouted. Avis’s instincts kicked in. She grabbed Wyess bag and ran for it. Now not only were there aliens after her, but the military as well.

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