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Tad whistled to himself as he strolled through the crowded streets of Aelindra, weaving through the people like a minnow among his school. To an outsider it would look as if he was completely at home among the people, wearing a tastefully skintight button up shirt, and a pair of summer slacks, he was about as common of a sight as you could get during a weekday. He had eschewed the use of his normal equipment, the bulky protective gear would only serve to draw attention, and possibly suspicion, to himself. He carried only his clothes, a pouch of small denomination coin, and what he considered to be a socially acceptable weapon of self defense, a small dagger kept sheathed at his belt. Even in a city as large and wealthy as itself, there was always the risk of being attacked, it would go against all of his better sense to walk around unarmed.

He had been in the city for a few weeks now, he had been staying in a small hotel on the west side, it wasn't as nice as some of the other places that he had seen but it provided him a good location from which to start his morning operations. Every morning after preparing himself for the day, he would use the crossroads to travel to another part of the city, where he would immediately queue up to travel to another location, he would repeat this a few times before going to his actual destination. This served a few purposes, it attempted to prevent someone from determining his actual destination by visiting several proxy locations in between, it also allowed him to monitor the people who came through the portals after him, anyone that he saw follow him through several hops was likely watching him. If there weren't so many locations in the city to hop to, the tactic might not have worked, but he had gone his entire visit without using the same portals within a three day period, hopefully avoiding the scrutiny of any of the portal guards.

His purpose in this city was to steal a valuable prototype, one of several that had been created, which were unregulated by any governing body, and necessary for the survival of one of his friends. He had heard of a tech similar to it when he was traveling through Union City several months back, and upon hearing that the same company was developing a significantly more advanced version, had promptly greased a few palms to find out where they were being developed and tested. One thing led to another, and he found himself making a trip to Aelindra with the intention of finding out more; that part had been easy, the engineers at the company had loose lips that were eager to talk about their project. The past few weeks were all about information gathering, subtly talking to the people involved with the project, researching the building layout, finding out what company ran security for them, when the busiest hours of the day were (and conversely the slowest times of day).

His destination now was the security company in question, they had the layout of the building, the number of guards, and the patrol routes, all in one convenient location. He had already run through his limited knowledge on counter surveillance and was comfortable to proceed directly to the building. It was more of a warehouse, squat, only a few stories tall, with large cargo doors and a plain grey exterior. A sign was fastened securely to the building, just above the visitors entrance, proudly declaring the location of "Aelindra Tactical Response". The building was a combination of steel, stone, and wood; it was actually a curious piece of architecture, the original building having been made from stone, and the later additions made from framed wood. Security was tight, as you would expect from a company that sells security as their service, armed guards at every entrance, on the rooftop, and likely posted in the hallways. There was no way that he could go in the building, and sneak past them all, or fight his way through them. The security was just as tight at night, something that had irked him, they must have some high value clients to warrant such extreme measures around the clock.

So he would revert to what he did best, pyrotechnics. Fire, or rather smoke, was a huge concern in a building. If you got yourself trapped in a burning building, odds are you would either suffocate or burn to death. So he would light a fire to flush out the people inside, and hope that anyone left inside would be too busy hunkering down in a safe area to spot him. He had a vague plan too, enter the public area during the confusion and pretend he was returning to get something vitally important, sneak into the operations area, rifle through the files until he found the right one, and then get out. Easy enough, right?

He slipped easily out of the flow of traffic, ducking into the narrow alleyway that ran along the western edge of the building, it was probably six feet across and bordered one of the wooden walled expansions. Foot traffic was low, the alleyway dirty, perfect for starting a fire. He would have a few minutes once the first started to move back to the south side of the building, where the entrance was, to wait for the rush of people exiting. He hoped the files he needed weren't on the second or third floor, that would complicate things, and he wasn't sure if there was a basement, which would be even worse. He placed his hand on the wall as he strode, casually laying a thick layer of his special combustible material on the wall in a thick stripe. His hand started going numb, almost like it was falling asleep, as the blood drained through his pores to create it. When the stripe was about twelve feet long he stopped, stepped back, and lit it on fire. The whole stripe erupted with a whoosh, flames licking greedily up the side of the building, the material would burn cleanly, the wood would not.

He turned back towards south opening of the alley and trotted off, slipping casually back into the flow of traffic to await the subsequent discovery of the fire, and the panic. Then, he would enter the building in search of the files he needed.

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It took only minutes for the fire to spread across the outside of the building, the red substance he had spread acting as the kindling for the flames, creating quick heat that ignited the wood and turned it to glowing coals. It devoured the dry exterior of the building like a wildfire, causing the small trickle of smoke that had first licked its way up the side of the building to turn into a billowing cloud that choked out the alleyway. Shouts of alarm rose from the pedestrians around him, various people telling others to alert the city guard of the fire that now raged. City fires were dangerous, they could spread easily from building to building due to the proximity. The city firefighters would arrive at some point, but in a city this large, even though it was the capital, he could expect at least fifteen minutes before they were actually notified and arrived to battle the flames. After that, he would probably have a half hour to an hour to search through the building and then escape undetected.

A particularly brave passerby ran into the building, Tad positioned himself close to the doorway, as if he was unsure if he should go in as well. He could hear yelling inside, and the sound of running feet on hardwood floors. The door burst open and the very same man came running back out, hacking and choking on a haze of smoke that followed him. Tad grabbed him and pulled him aside, out of the path of the doorway and to safety. He questioned the man as his coughing fit subsided "Did you warn them? Are they coming?" The man's eyes focused on Tad briefly, his mouth opening and chest swelling as if he was going to speak, but another bout of coughing racked him. All he could do was shake his head weakly.

As this was happening a few people emerged from the building in similar states of distress, having obviously run through the smoke to get out, and inhaling it. At this point, Tad was getting a bit worried, he hadn't expected the fire to progress so rapidly, nor had he accounted for the amount of smoke that the people were inhaling. He would have to actually try to get people out while searching the building. A thief and mercenary he was, a senseless murderer he was not. He brushed the few people milling at the doorway aside and darted into the room, falling into a low crouching run to avoid the worst of the smoke and heat that was now roiling out of the building in thick clouds.

The first room he came into was a foyer, a sort of meeting room where guests and employees would meet before branching off to whatever area they needed to visit. There was a large, ornately carved desk sitting in the center of the room, a reception station of some kind he guessed. It was empty of any living souls, which was fortunate, and he scrambled over to it as quickly as he could managed from his awkward crouch. Shuffling through papers rapidly and searching every surface of the desk revealed no building map, with his hopes dashed he turned to search the rest of the room. There were three more doors leading deeper into the building, one on each wall. He definitely wouldn't be chancing the left door, the west one, because that was where the most smoke was coming from. Which left his choices to heading north into the heart of the building, or east to skirt the inner wall.

He decided to just dive into the heart of the matter and pushed forwards, towards the north door.

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The doorway opened easily, and as he stepped through he was relieved to find that there was a fairly low amount of smoke. Good, that meant the fire hadn't spread too far out of control yet. The room itself was a pretty standard office space, desks, chairs, papers, etc. There was no one in the room, likely the few that the other gentleman had warned. Now that he was out of the thick, choking smoke that clouded the foyer, Tad took a deep, even breath. There was a stairway to his right, the spiral kind you usually saw on a warehouse floor, a bare metal railing adorning them. There was a landing above, blocking his view of the second floor, and the haze of the smoke didn't make it any easier to navigate. This wasn't the room he was looking for, that was certain, the question was; Which way to head next? Should he continue on the ground floor and look for a basement, where most companies would keep an archive or storage facility? Or follow the path that led up? Hoping that there was some kind of project management or security operations room where there would be live copies of the security plans.

He figured he would start low, a basement was almost always more secure than an upper floor, where anyone could scale the walls and break in. He pushed through the north door again, and found himself on the main warehouse floor. Equipment racks lined the walls, soft training mats were spread across the floors to create small arenas where individuals could train, strength training equipment was huddled in a corner. The spacious room just oozed a sense of dedication to ones fitness and skill. Fortunately for him, it was empty, the normal denizens of this place having either fled when the fire started, or were out on a job site. A cursory look around the room revealed no stairs or entrances to a lower level, so he jogged a quick lap around the several thousand square foot floor. He shuffled a few mats around, but found nothing except for smooth stone floors. It was during his jog around the room that he noticed the western wall was beginning to burn through completely, flames licking up the inside of the wall and further reducing the wall to ash and charcoal. In fact, the entire western wall appeared to be in flames, and possibly part of the roof.

With time running short, he decided to leave the warehouse floor and proceed up into what he assumed to be more offices. He returned to the previous room and started climbing the metal staircase to the second floor. The staircase was well secured into the building, and didn't rattle or shake when he climbed it, a boon in most cases. He found himself now in a larger office, filled with a variety of cubicles, workbenches, and conference areas. He rifled through a few desks as quickly as possible, almost looking frantic, but didn't find any useful information. It looked like a common work area, but unless he got lucky and found one of the files that he was looking for just laying on a desk this wasn't the place he needed to be either. There had to be a storage room somewhere, so he kept as low as he could and rushed off in search of a doorway that would lead deeper into the building. The smoke was so thick now that he couldn't see the ceiling, and the heat was nearly unbearable, every pore in his body slick with sweat.

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