“You’re a doppelganger!” Theodore said, circling Ella at a distance.
She looked at her hands in pretend shock. “Really? Wow. They should have made you Knight Detective after all.”
Theodore made a break for the door, and found it locked. “Guards! Help! A fairy has gotten into the vault!”
She laughed at him. “No one can hear you, moron. First thing I did was throw up a silence spell.” She took the locket she wore around her neck and flicked it open. “Mistress, if you’ve a moment, this is Acorn Seven.” A voice answered, too low for Theodore to make out. “…I’ve secured your missing feather. I have the Ranger Deputy cornered. Requesting permission to eliminate.” Another inaudible reply. “Of course. Just have one of the others takes my spot here as Ella so no one suspects anything.”
‘Ella’ closed the locket with a smile. Her face rippled again, taking on a mirror image of Theodore’s own face. She squeezed the nose, frowning.
“Ugh. This is going to take some getting use to.” She said. “Hey, do me a favor and say something. I want to make sure I get your voice right before I kill you.”
“You’re a spy!” Theodore could not believe what he was seeing. “How did this happen? Imitating a public servant is against the law!”
“You’re a spy!” She deepened her voice. “No. Whinier than that.” She coughed and pitched her voice up. “You’re a spy! There. Perfect.”
“I don’t sound anything like that!” Theodore said and dodged out of the way as the doppelganger hurled the reading table at him. She ran towards him, a clone of himself wearing a manic grin. He sprinted away, and she gave chase.
“By all means, make this fun!” She said. “I could use a good fight after years in this boring, awful office job!”
Theodore choked back his disgust. “Working in the Bureaucracy Dome is an honor and privilege!”
She was closing in. There was nowhere to go. He was sealed into a rectangular room lined with vaults.
“We can talk about this!” Theodore shouted. “You don’t have to be wicked!”
She grabbed him by the hand. “Don’t think so. Gonna have too much fun being you.” She yanked him closer, almost off his feet.
There was no reasoning with her. Oboe wasn’t here to save him. He was going to die unless he took action to defend himself. For the first time in his life, he wondered what his father would do.
He already knew what his father would do. How many lessons had his father dragged him into? How many self-defense drills had he tried to forget? Theodore called on just one of them, and took hold of the fairy’s free hand and twisted her fingers and arm back. She let out a scream and released him.
The moment was all he needed. He jumped onto one of the rolling ladders. It slid down the length of the vault and banged into Lance’s open deposit box. He reached in and grabbed a confiscated sword from evidence.
His mind buzzed, trying to remember the rules. If there was one thing he was good at, it was remembering rules. He jumped off the ladder. Feet apart, a narrow stance pointed sideways toward his opponent. She came barreling towards him, enraged by his grappling trick.
“You think you can fight me?!”
Her momentum could be used against her. He stepped aside, kicking the back of her shins. She tripped. Before he realized what he was doing, before he could stop himself, he swung the sword and carved a red tear through the back of his doppelganger.
“Auggh!” She toppled onto the floor, blood running down her back. She turned, glaring at him with his own eyes, her teeth clenched. Something gave. Her face melted back to a blank canvas, and she slumped.
“What’s going on in there?!”
The silence spell must have failed with her defeat. The guards barged in, finding Theodore hyperventilating.
Ella was bleeding out on the floor. Theodore dropped his sword. What had he done?
“Don’t just stand there!” He shouted at them. “Find a medical kit!”