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Mitchell turned. Something was wrong. Something had been wrong for the last few minutes, but he'd been unable to figure out what. At last he had it. The sound, so faint only his cybernetic eardrum could pick it up, was someone breathing, quickly and lightly.
All the lights were off, of course--he could see in the dark like a cat--and he'd been standing before his window for hours. Now, it seemed, he had company.
He stole softly across the carpet, slipped through the bedroom door, into the living area, and saw at once the door to the saferoom was open.
He avoided the furniture, the table, the piles of financial papers, and the squeaky spot by the piano. He paused in the doorway and nearly gasped in surprise.
A woman was working on his safe. His safe. Where he kept his money. She was short--barely up to his shoulder--with short hair that looked--er, pastel blue--slim limbs, and--and never mind what she looked like. How the hell had she gotten in? She'd have had to get past security, multiple alarms, and three locked doors.
He could see she was wearing night goggles. He knew from experience they only weighed about sixteen ounces and looked like regular sunglasses, except for the thick lenses. He closed his natural eye to get a better look--and nearly gasped again.
He opened both eyes. She was back, still working on the safe.
He closed his artificial eye. She was still there.
He closed his natural eye, the better to scan her--and she was gone again.
Interesting. She couldn't be seen by artificial means. His cybereye couldn't see her, nor could the security cameras.
A mutant. He'd readabout them but had never met one--not that he knew of.
Completely, utterly, compellingly fascinating.
It had been only a matter of time, the scientists had warned. Thanks to all the nuclear testing, the earth was clicking hot--much hotter than it had been five hundred or even two hundred years ago. And now and again, according to Scientific World, a mutant popped up.
The dangerous ones--the ones who couldn't think, but who could set fires when they got angry, or crack cement, or drive others mad with a single touch, had been squirreled away. Most of the time, the flip side of a major mutation was cataclysmic retardation. No one knew why, or where the government put the dangerous ones.
The less dangerous ones kept out of sight, and made darned sure not to do anything extraordinary when people were watching. He'd always assumed they weren't terribly bright--but this one certainly was. She'd picked the right night to rob him, after all.
He watched his thief take a big gasp of breath, and then charge the safe door. Not exactly the door--the crack along the side where the door rested on its hinges. She shoved herself against it, grunting softly, eyes squinched shut. And after a long moment, she started to--to slip through. It was like her molecules had stretched out, or something. Suddenly she was a living ghost, slowly wedging herself through the safe, and after a minute, she popped inside.
Mitchell stared where she had been for a long moment. Then he closed his artificial eye--yes, she was really inside the safe.
Amazing. How did she take her clothes and accessories and goggles with her? Was she able to affect their molecular structure because they were items close to her skin?
Amazing. He had a thousand questions for the blue-haired lady, chief of which: is that hair color natural?
He didn't care. No, he didn't, not really. She could empty the entire contents and he'd still be a zillionaire. He should just go back to his window and drink some more and let her take what she wanted. Let her leave, never to be seen again. Yes, he should do that. After all, he didn't care. About anything.
Jamie chortled with glee when she saw the Rock. It looked exactly like it had in the pictures, except a thousand times better. It was as big as her fist--one of the largest diamonds on the planet. And to think it had come from a meteor! Just fell to earth like a present from God. Well, as far as Miss Jamie Day was concerned, that meant it was anybody's game. Just because construction workers from HuntCorp had found it and brought it to Mr. Hunter didn't mean it was his.
Besides, it was shiny and she wanted it.
She gathered herself for the arduous trip out of the safe. It was tough work, phasing through solid objects. Took a lot out of her--she supposed molecules weren't meant to be stretched out like that. Well, she'd take a vacation after tonight. Rest up. She just had to get out of the safe (and through all the locked doors), and she could nap for a week.
Jamie took a deep breath ... and pushed. And pushed! Cripes, it was like being born. If she was stuck being a mutant, why couldn't she have a power that didn't take it out of her each time?
At last she popped out of the safe and leaned against it, panting. Her nightglasses had slipped, and when she brought up a hand to adjust them, something smacked into the back of her neck, and everything went black.