Nudged back to real life by a new presence beside her, the Platinum Raven finds herself nudged also into the realisation that not quite every punter in this tower is having as much fun as she and Scorpio and Amber are having in their different ways. For right there in front of the DJ booth with her stands an unnamed man whose heavy skull throbs with anger and sharp pain. Sweat trickles off him. Acid rises in his throat, which he hawks up and spits out.
Just as Amber becomes aware of him, this man glances up across the main space towards the podium and catches sight of Scorpio—for the first time, it would seem, as his face plays host to a flash of surprise and interest, followed by growing disgust and hatred. So strong is the onset of these emotions, that it seems quite in keeping with them when he picks up an empty beer bottle, stoops to smash off its neck against a metal fixture somewhere beneath the DJ booth, then staggers off across the dance-floor towards the podium, pushing through the dancers as he goes.
The Platinum Raven has seen this too. She follows him into the crowd with her eyes, she glances up at Scorpio and sees he is oblivious, she looks up at Amber with a mounting alarm, and she shakes her head to clear it.
Her eyes meet Amber’s eyes. He jabs a bunch of controls, then swings from the booth and jumps down to the floor.
Silent in the din, and very wrong, is a pudgy hand grasping the banisters beside Scorpio’s podium, rising as its hidden owner scales the steps behind.
Now she spots Amber, reaching the podium and starting up the steps.
Above him in the spotlight, Scorpio is dancing, forever and oblivious—twirling and swooping, electric in bright white, swathed in the mirror mist as if in silver silk…
The man glances down, hesitates at Amber’s onset, then continues up at frantic speed. He keeps himself steady with the pudgy hand she saw, while his other hand clutches the bottle that he broke, with a kiss of jagged glass where he smashed off its neck.
Amber flies up behind him. The man attains the podium and steps across to Scorpio. His hand swings the bottle, and the Platinum Raven bends her will like steel wires across the room.
Amber leaps up onto the podium. He grabs the man’s shoulder and pulls him off-balance as the bottle whistles downwards, just past its target. Scorpio continues dancing unaware, then sees them beside him and starts away in shock. He darts down to snatch the bottle while the man regains his footing; then the man makes a lunge at Amber, half catching hold of him.
The crowd below has seen them and moves back quickly. The pair struggles, teeters on the edge, then topples. Three metres down, they slam upon the wooden floor messily together. The man somehow wrenches up his bulk to its feet, then away through the crowd and disappears. Amber springs up as well and dashes off to follow. The Platinum Raven cranes up, to keep them in view. The man barrels over to a small door half-hidden by a curtain, wrenches the handle—and opens it, to her surprise (it really should have been locked), and vanishes. The door slams. A moment later, Amber reaches it, flings it open and dives inside; and once again it slams shut.
The music Amber cued before he left pounds ever onward, huge and electrifying; still the building shakes, as it has shaken all night.
Scorpio has long put the jagged bottle down, and dances ever onward, as before; and those below him dance too. The show goes on.
She shuts her eyes, in grateful relief for Scorpio’s safety but in new concern for Amber’s. Outside the public-access areas of the nightclub, behind the scenes, this building is a warren: the man escaped into that, through a door that should have been locked, into a region that she thinks of as the labyrinth. She doubts Amber knows it any better than she does; and she herself gets lost in it.
The lights go out, plunging the hall into darkness. She checks the time: four o’clock. Two seconds later the house lights glimmer on, as background music starts and the staff begin to usher people out into the summer night.
She sprints down the passage to the door above the lobby, finds her keys, slips through and pulls the door shut behind her.
Swiftly she climbs the spiral stairs to the turret.
She unlocks the top door, swoops across the turret room and dives for the cabinet containing the dial.
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