They were a fake-out move, designed to scarecrow people into compliance when they saw one whistling by. They were thrown out on the cheap so the cops could look like they were watching places that hadn't yet been properly hooked into the surveillance society. Places like this neighborhood, which looked like the decaying ruins of the last century and were low on the priority list for proper surveillance. Nobody rich lived or worked here, after all, so who cared?
But there were other drones, in the same shells but with far better imaging equipment. Sent out on the rare occasions they actually needed to find someone in places like this. Rare occasions like right now.
And so Ann ran.
The rooftops were the worst place to hide from hovering drones, up top of everything and in clear view. But they were also the fastest way around. Ann needed to gain ground more than she needed to duck out of sight. Losing the drones was the easy part. It was amazing how well some of these old buildings could hide a thermal image, giving her a chance to change her clothes and then slip out and join the masses on the street. The real problem was coming up behind her.
Ann kipped up onto the next building with the aid of a battered air conditioning unit. At the same time, a loud crash came behind her, the fire escape screaming as it tore away from its anchors. Ann dared a glance back, wished she hadn't. The figure chasing her was huge, as if someone had slimmed down a gorilla just enough to force it into a black bodysuit that still looked ready to burst at the seams.
It was fast, too. On a level stretch, Ann could outpace it, but every obstacle turned into an advantage for it. It could jump higher and climb better, so that anything that slowed Ann even for a second let it get that much closer.
It should have been a routine night. Simple smash and grab, emphasis on the smash. And maybe a little boom too, for that matter. The firebomb still jostled in one of her coat pockets, one of a variety of little toys which made life easier for her and hard on someone else.