Jadestreak ghosted through the empty halls, leaving the control room behind him locked. The bank had just closed, and it was easy to remove the unsuspecting guards so he was not disturbed. The corridors to safety deposit boxes and checking accounts weren't his target. Instead, Jadestreak had a bigger heist in mind, the vault, where sentimental valuables were stashed away for safe keeping. However, he had a more personal reason for breaking into the vault. A friend of his lost her orb, but Jadestreak wondered how Vissi could have possibly lost it. The orbs were given when a person reached eighteen, when their personal paradise could manifest in their mind and then reside in the blown glass. They were the only way to reach heaven, and thus were guarded more dearly than life itself. His was stashed away, so in the event he was about to die it would remain secret and safe, until he was ready to leave the material world. Seeing as how it was his only gateway to heaven, he wanted to make sure his enemies didn't try to destroy it, so he would be stuck on this earth forever. He didn't want to wander around aimlessly like Vissi was doing when he found her.
Eventually Jadestreak reached the steel door that opened into the final hallway. Heavy bolts were drilled in next to the hinges, and a small code pad stood next to the door. Jadestreak hit a button labeled open. Lights flared to life, and a hologram screen appeared, with five blank lines. Jadestreak bit his lip, his face curling into a snarl as he stared at the screen. Vissi, his worthless accomplice, had forgotten to give him the code to the vault. Nine numbers to choose from, five different spaces they need to fill, and millions of combinations. The chances of getting it right by pure luck were almost nil. A groan rumbled past his clenched teeth, and Jadestreak randomly punched in five numbers. The screen turned red, followed by a sharp bleep. Cursing under breath, Jadestreak entered five more numbers, but to no avail. Sighing, Jadestreak pulled out a taser and waiting for it to power up.
Guess I have to short circuit this thing. I have about ten, no make that five, minutes before the alarms reach the police, Jadestreak thought as he set a timer on his watch. Jadestreak let out a slow, calming breath, before attaching the taser. Sparks flew as the system shut down, and the bolts on the door slid out of their locks. Alarms started ringing and blaring down the corridors as Jadestreak rushed to the door. He wedged his finger into a small crack in the vault, and shoved the door open. A long corridor stretched out before him, deceptively calm and quiet.
"Okay, okay, I got this," Jadestreak muttered to himself, glancing down at the timer on his watch. Two minutes and counting. Crouching down like an olympic runner, Jadestreak prepared himself for the longest, and probably most painful, sprint of his life. He could imagine the gunshot ripping through the air, signaling the start of the race, and then he was running. His legs felt like they would fly off at any moment as he ran down the corridor, and sweat began to bead on his brow, plastering his jade colored hair to his face.
An ominous crackling sounded behind him, and Jadestreak felt an intense heat at his back, singeing the hair on his neck.
"Damn, they got good security," Jadestreak huffed, as the oxygen around him was burned away by the fire, slowly starting to suffocate his lungs. The vault was within reach now, about twenty yards away as black spots began to cloud his vision.
Keep breathing, I just got to keep breathing, Jadestreak thought. Somehow he summoned an extra burst of speed, and then he was in the vault. The flames behind him died down, and oxygen returned to his heart, suppressing the exhaustion in his legs. Jadestreak collapsed onto the ground, breathing in the sweet air, and he let out a laugh at his near cremation. Once he had recovered, Jadestreak looked around at his surroundings, and was struck dumb. The vault was a huge circular room, with several balconies on the walls and treasures unlike anything Jadestreak had ever seen. On display on the wall was an exquisitely crafted laser pistol, engraved with swirling designs inlaid with silver. Whistling softly to himself, Jadestreak reverently took it off the wall and jammed it into an empty holster on his hip. His eyes roved over many other valuables, and he grabbed a few of the smaller items and hid them away in a bag. Regretfully, Jadestreak turned from the wonders on the wall and focused his gaze on a box in the center of the room. Glass containers held his real objective, the orbs, on display for people to admire. The boxes were locked however, so Jadestreak balled up his fist and shattered the glass to retrieve several orbs that were in easy reach.
A quiet, subdued beeping suddenly penetrated the quiet, and Jadestreak glanced down at his watch. Five minutes have passed, and the alarms in the corridor have gone quiet.
"Ah, shit," Jadestreak groaned, quickly looking around for a quick escape. The only thing that offered any hope was an air vent low in the wall, and it looked like it would be a tight fit, but it was the only thing in the vault that led anywhere. Jadestreak rushed over to the vent, pulling out a small hand drill for tiny screws, and he desperately started removing the grate. The echo of booted feet in the corridor sent a small thrill of panic through Jadestreak, and he fumbled with the grate. After what felt like an eternity, the grate fell off with a clang, and Jadestreak tossed his bag and pistol into the vent before squeezing himself into it. The top of the vent was just barely a foot high, and Jadestreak was forced to army crawl, his head brushing the top as he struggled forward. Thankfully the fabric of his bag slid easily against the metal, so he would shove it as far as it would go before crawling after it. The main vent was just ahead of him, and promised more room to move around in, as well as a corner to avoid any possible gun shots. Just as Jadestreak entered this vent, he heard a distorted shout and a gunshot, and a bullet grazed his shoulder. He somersaulted into around the corner, before crawling and sliding down deeper into the maze of vents. He had no idea where he was going, but he trusted luck, and so he choose airways that he felt would lead him out. Eventually a fresh breeze whispered of escape, and Jadestreak eagerly crawled forward, missing the obvious drop in his path. Suddenly his hands were out in open air, and then he was falling, the wind rushing past his ears and swallowing his scream. At the bottom a steep slope broke his fall, then he was tumbling forward again, until he crashed into a grate at the very bottom. The grate was torn off its perch, and Jadestreak landed in a wet puddle of rain in an alleyway. Grabbing his bag, Jadestreak sprinted through the dark alleyway, his bare feet slapping against the cobblestone street and splashing through growing puddles. He clutched the bag of stolen goods to his chest, his shoulders slumping over it and his head bent against the downpour. Rain streaked down his blue green hair, dripping down his face in torrents and soaking his clothes. A ladder loomed out of the darkness on the building to his left, and with no hesitation he leaped, his hands scrabbling for a hold on the wet rungs while holding onto his precious bundle. Like a monkey he climbed the ladder, swinging himself up onto the roof where he pressed himself flat against the tile. Peering over the edge, he saw the glow of witchlight fastly approaching, then the guards ran around the corner, quickly looking for him before running past the ladder down the alley. The green glow of the witchlight grew distorted as the rain increased, before disappearing completely.
Jadestreak rolled over onto his back, a nervous laugh escaping him as his heart continued to hammer with adrenaline, and a few minutes later his heart finally slowed to a reasonable pace. Rain pelted his face, and a deep chill was slowly seeping through to his bones. Jadestreak leaped to his feet, then ran lightly across the rooftops to the north side of the city of Sutherlin.
“Did you manage to get the orb?” a soft, delicate voice whispered in his ear. Jadestreak turned to an insubstantial, ethereal figure floating alongside him flickering in the rain.
“I was wondering when you would turn up. That was pretty cool how you disappeared right when I needed directions,” Jadestreak said, still a little peeved.
“I had to do some ghost stuff,” the feminine figure said evasively. Jadestreak rolled his eyes. Every time something illegal, exciting, dangerous, or out of the ordinary happened his ghostly companion conveniently had something urgent to do, leaving him to risk everything he had by himself. Like tonight.
“Oh, so this ghost stuff is obviously more important than disabling the traps around the safe. I got burned three times, three! Then there was the code pad, with the password you forgot to tell me!” he snapped. The ghost wavered, momentarily taken aback.
“Its not easy being a ghost, you know,” she mumbled.
“Don’t give me that excuse, Vissi. At least you don’t have to worry about dying,” Jadestreak growled. He leaped a narrow gap between two buildings, and lost his footing on the slippery slope. He fell forward, before crawling his way up to the flat part of the roof while Vissi floated across.
“See, see?! I could have fallen to my death while you just floated there, with no chance of falling,” Jadestreak snapped.
“Maybe if you listened to me, all this stuff wouldn’t happen. It is sort of pointless to tell you anything when you do the opposite anyway. Now watch where you are going!” Vissi replied.
“Don’t you change the subject on me…” Jadestreak slid to a halt, teetering over another ledge while Vissi rolled her eyes. “Okay, point taken. But I am still not done with you!”
Jadestreak finally reached the north wall, and he slid down a gutter to the alley below. The rain had slowed, and now was just a fine mist. Jadestreak quickly went to a wall, and upon pushing a seemingly innocent brick, opened the door to his gang’s hideout.
Witchlight lit the twisting corridor, and Jadestreak rapidly ran down the hall to the common room at the end. A green witch fire glowed in the fireplace, illuminating the room but providing no heat, and used chairs were organized in a loose circle. Two doors lead to the dormitories, and a curtain lead to Jadestreak’s office. Ignoring his snoring gang members, all misfits like him cast down by society, Jadestreak swiftly went behind the curtain, dumping the bag on the desk within.
Vissi ghosted through the wall, looking more solid now that she was out of the rain. She looked like a blue monochromatic hologram, with her hair dark midnight and her skin sky blue. Her dress was white, with flowery lace on the collar and sleeves. She says she committed suicide to escape an arranged marriage, but Jadesteak had his doubts, considering he found her in a dump moaning and shrieking like a banshee. Vissi was inconsolable then, and it had taken weeks for Jadestreak to calm her. She quietly floated down to the ground, her dress spilling around her like water as she waited.
Jadestreak began unpacking the bag, pulling out odd trinkets and baubles. Breaking into the bank’s safe was no easy task, but the rewards were definitely worth it. Jadestreak had found a priceless laser pistol rarely found elsewhere, and countless orbs filled with images of imaginary worlds he could hold for ransom.
He examined each bauble carefully, looking for the one Vissi claimed would free her from this earth. The first five were too happy to really match her, but then he found one of a night sky, with a galaxy splitting the sky into two halfs. Majestically beautiful, yet so far away, just like Vissi.
He would miss her, when she finally went to heaven. She did help a lot with his ‘jobs’, and having a constant companion was reassuring when he was doubting his abilities. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Jadestreak turned to Vissi, cradling the orb in his hands so it wouldn't shatter.
“Vissi, is this one your’s?”
Vissi gracefully rose from her position on the floor, and drifted over to Jadestreak to look at the orb.
“Oh, oh my…” she gasped, her slender hands flying up to her mouth as tears welled up in her eyes. “You finally found it.”
“It is beautiful, Vissi,” Jadestreak said. “I can see how it is your’s.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you ever so much,” Vissi sobbed, throwing her ghostly arms around Jadestreak. Then with her cold lips she kissed Jadestreak’s forehead, before moving back to accept her piece of heaven.
“I’m going to miss you Vissi,” Jadestreak said, practically choking on the words. Her head shot up from looking at the orb, and her eyes filled with sorrow.
“I’ll miss you too, Jadestreak. You made being on the earth bearable. Maybe we will see each other again on the other side,” Vissi said, as her ghostly body slowly began to fade away with the orb in her hands. Jadestreak watched as Vissi faded away into nothing, leaving behind only the scent of pines and night air.
He quickly left the hideout after that, stepping out into the damp air left after the rain and aimlessly wandering through the streets. He had nothing pressing to do, had no one he wanted to talk to, so he was alone with only his thoughts.
A whimper in a nearby alley startled Jadestreak out of his reverie, and after cautiously looking in, he approached the source of the sound. A small girl, about five, was huddled against the building clutching a toy bear like her life depended on it. Jadstreak thought about just walking away, but the girl turned to him with big, weepy eyes filled with sorrow, and he felt his heart crack with pity. Crouching down to be on her level, Jadestreak gently brushed dirty red hair away from her face and stared deep into the girl’s emerald eyes.
“Do you need help?”
The girl nodded, and a little glimmer of hope like sunshine lit up her eyes.
“Would you like to come with me to a warm place?”
Again the girl nodded, her face filled with a hope as bright as the sun. Jadestreak rolled back onto his feet, quickly standing up and offering a hand to the little girl. His big hand encompassed the little girl’s, and she giggled, and Jadstreak smiled.
I am going to help people like her, he thought. I am going to help all the people oppressed by this rotten society because they are too beautiful to waste.
Jadestreak and the little girl walked out of the alley hand in hand, the little girl still clutching the bear to her chest and now with a smile on her face.