Percy leaned against the rough brick of the building staring dimly out into the steady stream of traffic, watching out for a taxi-lev. The sky above was gray as concrete and raindrops were beginning to plink down from the low, smoggy clouds.
Her conversation with her grandfather seemed to be on replay inside her head, reminding her of all the things she should and shouldn't have said. She tried not to think about it, but it did no good. She thrust her hands deep into her coat pockets and she could feel the cold, polished edge of the taser against her fingers. It made her feel slightly sick.
She had only been trying to help, but she had made everything worse. She shouldn't have told the CTO, and she shouldn't have told them about her grandfather. And once she had, she shouldn't have left his house. What would she do now? Whose side was she on?
"There you are. How did it go?"
Percy startled and spun around to see Grimwald making his way toward her in that annoying, limping gait of his.
"Did he tell you where Her Majesty is?" he said in an undertone as he reached her. Percy turned away to hide the tears glittering in her eyes. The wind blew cruelly against her face and raindrops struck her skin like cold, stinging needles.
"No, he didn't say," said Percy with difficulty around the lump in her throat. Her voice didn't quite seem her own.
"Then what did he say?" Percy could detect a note of impatience in his voice. Raindrops were splattering onto the pavement now. Percy pulled her hood over her head.
"I wanted to help find Princess Elenia!" said Percy in a voice that was almost a sob. "I didn't know it would lead to this! You don't know how hard it is to pull a gun on your own grandfather!" Percy made no effort to hide her tears now. They mixed with the raindrops and streamed down her face in rivulets.
"I know it must have been extremely difficult to have done what you did, but please, try to answer me, Percy! What did he say?"
He didn't know. And he didn't care either. He just wanted to kill more maggots and people who helped them, like her grandfather. He didn't know that Elenia was a maggot too, though. She hadn't told him that!
"You won't do anything to my grandpa if I tell you, will you?"
"No, he'll be safe if his information's good," said Grimwald silkily. "Just tell me what he said. You've been a very brave girl. Please, just tell me. It's important."
Percy could instantly tell, with far more accuracy than her Magic Scanner ever had, that he was lying. Just a little story so he could get what he wanted. Then he would arrest her grandfather like he did the rest of the maggots.
Anger rose in Percy like boiling water. Without thinking, without considering that any number of people could be watching out of their lev windows as they passed, Percy drew the taser with far more speed and skill than even she herself could have suspected, and pulled the trigger. A bolt of blue energy blasted Grimwald squarely in the chest and he fell to the ground senseless.
Percy was panting, heart beating double time. She still held the taser in her outstretched, shaking hand. Slowly, she let it drop to her side.
What had she just done? An icy, leaden feeling was collecting in her stomach. She had just assaulted a Compliance Team Officer with a weapon that it was quite illegal for her to possess. When Grimwald came to and word got out. . . Percy whimpered.
She had to find her grandfather. He would know what to do. Maybe he could protect her.
But before she could take so much as a step away from the scene, a soft, gravelly voice spoke close to her ear.
"Whoa now, darling. What's going on here?"
A cold, sharp knife suddenly appeared at her neck, and Percy could hear the raspy breathing of the knife's holder at her shoulder.
"Attack a CTO, did we?" breathed the voice. "Not a very good idea, lass, especially since I happened to be negotiating a deal with this one in particular. Mr. Grimwald here was going to make me very rich. . . ."