Named for its view of the jagged mountain's peak, Star Tooth Ridge was a nasty road on a dry morning. The addition of fog and condensation turned it into a potential death trap, but to Anna, it was simply another challenge she had yet to complete. After weaving through a few side streets and alleyways, the point of no return rose into her vision. Anna tucked her heels in, leaned back, and skidded to a grinding halt at the crest of the hill. Finding solace in the eerie silence of the morning, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, breathing in the cold air. Before she could exhale, however, a familiar computerized whirling noise punctured her illusion of peaceful solitude. She glanced at the street light above her. Atop the post sat one of the mayor's new residential surveillance cameras.
In a half-moon revolution, its piercing red eye snapped to her position, and its shutter dilated. "Oh great", Anna let out with the steam of her breath. The sun peaked over the teeth of the mountain, igniting her braided auburn hair with an orange glow. To avoid obscuring the vision of her sharp green eyes, Anna tucked her bangs behind her ear. As the sun hit her face, she squinted and furrowed her freckle-bridged nose to stifle a sneeze.
From her pocket, she pulled a roll of yellow smiley face stickers, and carefully applied one to the front end of her board. It joined nine others in a neat row on her orange grip tape, a few were hardly recognizable thanks to the elemental toll they had taken. A rhythmic beeping sounded from the standard issue holo-communicator implanted in her sky blue helmet. She ignored it. Now was her time.
With a drilling echo, the tread of her yellow sneaker cracked against the pavement, and Anna launched forward. She lowered her center of gravity and wiggled her toes finding a comfortable pocket of balance. The white noise of her board gaining momentum was music to her ears as the world blurred passed her. A crooked smile found her face as she saw the first guard rail slide into view with the curve of the road.
The teenage girl drove her left foot down on the tail of her board with considerable strength, boosting the nose upwards. With power and finesse, she guided her ride into the air with an impressive ollie. Following a breath of weightlessness, her trucks came down hard on the barrier showering the shoulder of the road with sparks.
Anna leaned her weight into the railing and focused on her balance. An oncoming semi-truck blared its horn at her as she darted past. "Sorry!", She shouted, over her shoulder with a friendly wave. However, When she returned her focus to the road, a metal speed limit sign was inches from her face.
She spun to dodge it, launching herself into a deadly free-fall. Time ticked in slow motion with the pulse of her heart. She closed her eyes, clenched all the muscles in her body, and braced for impact. When it never came her reflexes took over. At the last possible moment, Anna regained her courage, snagged her board from the air, and aligned it with the street. Landing clumsily with one foot, then the other, she windmilled her arms to recapture her composure. Looking up she noticed something peculiar. the flashing reflective yellow lines of the road were firing from the front of her board pulling the street away from her with them. She was now in reverse.
At that exact moment, her communicator initiated its crisis protocol, and a beam of buzzing light shot from her helmet. At eye level, a small window materialized with a pixelated chirp. The concerned face of Apex City's mayor blinked into existence before her. "Anna! I've been trying to reach you all morning! Where have you bee- wait, Is that,"His eyes grew wide with shock, "STAR TOOTH RIDGE!? Wait... ARE YOU RIDING BACKWARDS?!", "Listen, Mr. Mayor, as you can see I'm kinda busy right now", Anna flicked her ankles to the right barely dodging a dangerous pothole, " Can you please cut to the chase?","Don't get cheeky with me young lady! It just so happens the chase, is precisely what I'm cutting to."
Several branches of a mission dossier swept across Anna's field of vision. A three-dimensional representation of a snowboard clad individual hovered, rotating in the center. "This is Glacio Hernandes", gestured the mayor, who was now confined to a small portion of the upper right hand of her display. Anna nearly lost her footing at the mention of his name. She used the unexpected momentum to perform a 180-degree heelflip, recovering a forward orientation."You may know him as, The Snow Surfer."
With her left hand Anna used a gesture, resembling a reverse pinch, to zoom in on Hernandes' face, with her right she tucked her bangs behind her ear, clearing her vision. "The Snow Surfer?" Anna asked with a tremble in her voice. She cleared her throat and tried again. "The Snow Surfer is back in town?" " I'm afraid so agent. My cameras caught him robbing the Apex-City Bank just moments ago.", footage of Hernandes dressed in white snow gear streamed in her Holo-feed. "The retina scan analysis was unable to get a solid read, due to his reflective glasses, but I am positive it's him!"
Anna refocused her eyes and looked through the informational display hovering in front of her. The road ahead seemed so clear. So welcoming. She was so close. The bottom of Star Tooth Ridge, the destination she had been denied so many times, was almost within her grasp.
"Agent!", The mayor's voice shook Anna from her fantasy. His face had returned to the majority of the screen. "I'm sending his coordinates to your G.P.S. now.", After a short pause, he looked left, then right, leaned in and spoke urgently. "Be careful Anna. Something feels different here. It's as if he wants us to know...KKSSHH!", His face winked out of view with A static shock. "Um, Mr. Mayor?" She spoke to the air. "Something isn't right."
Anna reached up and tapped a pulsing orange light on the temple of her helmet. A set of night vision aviator sunglasses slid like a visor over her eyes. as she descended into the foggy city center. Her G.P.S. synced with her shades casting a glowing red line of Light ahead of her as a
real-time route to her target, The Snow Surfer.
After a forlorn glance toward the base of the ridge, Anna gave an angry sigh and kickflipped up onto the sidewalk. Her heads up display tracked Hernandes to a water treatment plant 10 blocks from her current position. Which gave her an E.T.A. of twelve minutes and thirty seconds,
but she knew a shortcut that would get her there in five.
"You have arrived at your destination.", droned the monotonic voice of Anna's G.P.S.. She stomped on the tail end of her board, kicking it up into her waiting hand. The young girl stood alone if front of the intricate structure of pipes and wires. The sounds of hissing steam and clanking metal filled the air. As Anna took her first steps into the water treatment plant, the Snow Surfer was nowhere in sight.
An hour passed as she weaved her way through a labyrinth of interconnected channels. Just as Anna was about to give up on her search, she heard an echoed voice ring out from amidst the confines of the plant. "What do you mean, it isn't enough? I busted me bum Gettin' these jewels for you!", Anna didn't need the voice recognition software in her helmet to know the voice of Glacio Hernandes, but who was he talking to? she moved as quickly and as quietly as she could through the plant toward her quarry.
As she rounded the last pale concrete bend, she found herself at the central hub of the building. Murky water from hundreds of pipes converged in a huge basin at the core of the room. Across this pool amidst a spider web of rails and scaffolding, Anna saw two figures.
One was Hernandes, covered from head to toe with white snow gear. the dim light of the morning bounced off the reflective lenses of his blue sunglasses as he continued his outraged rant towards the mysterious stranger he was talking too. "I don't care what your employer says! I want me money!", Anna crouched low to get a better look. to her surprise, The snow surfer was standing opposite of a towering man. fully clad in a suit of pitch black armor. "Jesus, Is that a friggin knight?" she whispered to herself.