Floyd closed the door carefully behind him and looked round to see if anybody noticed him coming out of the main lift shaft, but still the usual activity continued around him and granted him invisibility, with sharply dressed businessmice shuffling and cutting their way through the crowd, tourists milling around fairly aimlessly and and hotel porters rushing back and forth carrying all the odds and ends needed for the guests.
To his left, another dormouse tried to weave her way between a small crowd of rats that had accumulated by the lifts and he suddenly became aware of the strange smell in the room; a choking, cloying mix of different perfumes and scents over a subtle undertone of the cleaning products used by the staff on both the human and rodent levels to keep the skyscraper looking shiny and new.
Beyond that there was also the smell of the subtle bodily scents emitted by all of the different individuals passing through here, which he found more interesting by far.
He stood on tiptoes to try to get a better view of the crowd milling around him, but his stature prevented him from seeing much more than a fleeting flash from over the shoulders and heads of the smaller folk and that precious glimmer of vision disappeared instantly the moment any of the rats in the crowd moved infront of him.
He shuffled about on the spot then slowly moved over to the lifts, being careful to check for any threats as he went, until one of the lift doors opened silently and another rush of rodents spilled out and threatened to whisk him off his feet like a crashing wave, before the inevitable counter-rush came from behind and he was forced into the tiny little box.
A group of about six well dressed rat men formed an impenetrable cordon and hemmed him in against the corner of the lift as they all got in together and stood fast in their little group, as yet more rodents packed in, allowing Floyd to only peer out between their legs and hips to see any approaching threats.
“Going up! Call your floor” the attendant announced and a quick succession of numbers were called out - his desired floor among them - before the attendant pulled a lever and closed the door, then stopped as one last passenger got on and requested floor forty with a woman’s voice that bore a slight estuary accent.
Again, the doors shut and Floyd was left in the back as floor after agonising floor went by, raising him higher and higher above safe ground and further into the bowels of The Shard.
He wondered how high up Milo had got by now.
At about floor twenty-two, the crowd in the lift began to thin out and the odious rats that had hemmed him into the corner finally departed, taking their agonisingly dull boardroom politics with them and leaving him with something approaching a clear view of the floors that went by and the people in the lift with him.
For the most part, those who remained were simply tourists and casual visitors, but a single mouse standing near the door and off to the left, caught his eye.
Her fur was a fine, silky grey and obviously cared for quite meticulously and her posture was perfect. Her tail was just a little too short for her body, but her dress was exquisite; a simple red number that reached from her neck to her knees and fell in a flattering, completely straight line past her waist.
Angela Charing was standing there, waiting to go up to floor forty, completely unaware that he was there behind her.
He could kill her now, he thought.
He could take his rapier and drive it through her spine right there and then and have revenge for all the officers she’d killed over the years, but as much as the thought appealed to him, making such a display would certainly result in a complete and total PR shitstorm.
The public liked MI6, just so long as they weren’t doing anything they were aware of.
He stooped down a bit as the doors closed again to get a better look at the case she was holding and took note of its unusually intricate design.
It was made of what appeared to be rosewood, stained to a lustrous dark brown all over and featured a singular rose gold clasp that held it tight shut, but the most prominent feature of the whole item was a large letter C inlaid intricately on the lid of the case in mahogany, stained to the same degree as the rest of the case and making it stand out in a dark and foreboding red over the dark brown.
He noticed the red of the letter C was not dissimilar to the shade of red of the dress she wore and wondered for a moment if that was deliberate.
Like some sort of advertisement, maybe?
He stood back up so it didn’t look like he was just staring at her and fixated on the metal door to the lift, checking to see if there was any sort of visible reflection in the metal that she could see him in, but thankfully it was dull enough not to reveal any activity behind her.
His floor came up and slowly he shuffled through the crowd, taking one last glance at her as he made his way to the front and out of the lift.
If she suspected anything of him, she didn’t show it, neither did she act on it.
Which suited him just fine.
He pulled his tail in close to his legs as he walked clear of the door and as soon as the door shut behind him, he cursed himself under his breath.
Years of fighting against dangerous opponents had taught him to move his tail as close to his body as he could, to make himself harder to grab hold of, but if she’d seen him do that, then that might have been all she needed to identify him as an enemy.
The corridor he now found himself in was lavishly decorated, featuring a thick, plum-purple carpet that ran the whole length of the room and an unusually thick coat of cream paint on the walls to offset it, while fairly minimal chandeliers were placed at regular intervals across the ceiling and doused the corridor in a soft white light, far removed from the harsh, cheap lights he’d grown used to at home.
Even the doors to the rooms seemed to be made of solid wood instead of just laminates on plastic or artificial board and each one featured a silver doorknob with little grooves in it to aid grip and which gleamed in the light.
At the other end of the corridor, a maintenance and emergency door offered access to the evacuation staircase; in the event of fire or human intervention or any other reason that might warrant it, the door would be opened and the rodents would all flee down a staircase that led deep into the ventilation network and offered an immediate way of escape.
It also offered an unguarded point of entry, as Milo demonstrated by opening it from the other side and stepping through.
In an ideal world, he would love to be able to do the sort of things that he did, but being a mere dormouse limited Floyd to much more low-tech options for infiltration.
Milo, on the other hand, had no such limitations and had dedicated years of his life to sneaking into places he shouldn’t be, using whatever toys the armoury wanted to provide him with.
Like the electromagnets he’d used to get up here and avoid detection effortlessly.
He envied him sometimes.
“Beat you” Floyd teased as Milo pulled the door to behind him and used one of the magnets to prop it open in the event that he might have to make a quick exit.
In response, Milo just sauntered over to him, drew the key out of his pocket and handed it back to him, then gave him an infuriatingly confident grin as he put on the gloves that the armoury had provided.
“Don’t look so smug, she’s on floor forty right now” Floyd explained and Milo just rolled his eyes “So you’re saying I climbed up here for nothing?”
He shook his head and Milo smiled, “just like Milan, then?”
He examined the key in his hand, then reached into his jacket and withdrew his sword.
“Just like Milan.”