Random Exercises – Xanatos Speed Chess

Tuesday 10Jan2023

Category: Plot

Prompt: Xanatos Speed Chess https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosSpeedChess


Everything was going great until the grappling hook hit a guard in the face.

Calahan had surveiled the building on four separate 24-hour periods and there had never been a guard that even set foot on that balcony between 10PM and 2AM. Deirdre had hacked into the time-clock logs and determined that at this hour, the on-duty guards always did the first-floor route, and then the East Wing before even climbing to the second floor, much less the fourth.

And yet, when Tabitha fired her grappling hook, it did not clink-clank-clink into a secure hold on the wrought-iron railing. Instead, it hit some wild-card rent-a-cop in his stupid face.

That it hadn’t killed the man was apparent by his screams of pain. She couldn’t even retract the hook now because after rebounding from the surprise sentry, it then chose to neatly wrap around the railing, as though that would somehow make it all better.

“What’s happening?” whispered Calahan from her earpiece. “Who’s screaming?”

“Abort!” crackled Deirdre through the same speaker. “We’re blown!”

“It’s tonight or not at all.” Tabitha’s harsh whisper cut them both off. “We knew that, so watch me for the changes and just try to keep up, okay?”

The guard on the fourth-floor balcony was still screaming for help, but he wasn’t providing any useful intel. The other guards would have to get to him before they would know what was happening, and by that time, they wouldn’t be where they would have been before.

There was no point in climbing up to the balcony now, but she pulled herself ten feet or so up the rope and then began to walk herself side to side along the steep masonry wall, building up momentum like a kid pumping her legs on the swing set.

Tabitha the human pendulum soon found that, at the height of her arc, she could see over the compound wall. On her next pass, she let go of the rope and went up and over.

Between heavy breaths, she whispered into her headset. “Deirdre… Call the police!”

There was a polite pause.

“I beg your pardon.”

“Be a witness that saw someone try to climb the wall with a grappling hook, and then run away down 8th Street. Say you think you heard gunfire. Say that someone’s hurt and needs an ambulance.”

“Response time’s under a minute here,” muttered Calahan. “Place will have flashing lights all around it in no time.”

“They’ll come to this side of the compound and to the front gate. Half the guards will be coming to Mister-Nice-Night-For-A-Walk’s aid and the other half will be dealing with the cops.”

“You sure about that?” asked Deirdre.

“Call first, then sarcasm,” muttered Tabitha. She had dropped down into the courtyard and was currently skulking through the shadows toward the East Wing. The glass doors that looked out from the gallery were locked. “Calahan! Diversion 2 on three… two… one…”

As a half-dozen car alarms began to sound from the street outside, Tabitha attempted to smash through a pane of the glass door with her elbow. It didn’t break and now her elbow hurt.

“Um, I think I’m going to need Diversion 4 on three…”

“Diversion 4 was last resort!” cried Calahan.

Two! One!” she hissed into her microphone.

In the meantime, she had hefted a decorative garden stone the size of a bowling ball, which bore a plaque stating: “In Memoriam: Hazel Dunwoody, who always found peace in this place.”

As Tabitha hurled Mrs. Dunwoody through the glass window, one of the alarming cars exploded.

Slipping inside the darkened gallery, Tabitha whispered again. “Hopefully that will hold their attention long enough to—”

She stopped speaking because she had just come face-to-face with a young-looking guard who had just emerged from the Men’s room.

As they stood there for a moment, the silence was broken by the coming whine of police sirens in the night air.

Tabitha mustered the will to speak first and shouted at him: “Why aren’t you at your post?!”

Comments are closed.