Catacombs and Crossroads – Episode 17

As the flood of men in black body armor fills the field the flashes of gunfire begin to send a shower of lead in our general direction.  We run into the tunnel and I see Fallon run into the tunnels with us.  Still cradled in Emilia’s arms, I can just barely see her running behind the pack.  “We need to get out of here now!  Shit, we should have grabbed her and left”, Fuel says.

“Brother, don’t be so dense, we’d have never made it with the head master on our tails, you know that”, Emilia retorts, now panting.  “Yeah, yeah, you’re probably right”, he submits talking totally normal while maintaining out quick pace.  I can hear Fallon panting with fatigue behind us, and as we reach the end of the hall gunfire rings out behind us.  You can hear ricochets and hard impacts against the concrete pylons that support the hall.  We run through the exit and begin to head in the opposite direction of the chow hall.  We aren’t running for long when I notice we are running past the second set of medical rooms on this floor, and then into an area I am not totally familiar with.  There is only pipes on the wall, and small bulbs lining the wall every 10 feet.  We are running into what seems to be a maintenance area.  This place smells damn like a basement.  Emilia is starting to get really tired carrying me, but Fallon is struggling to keep up the pace.  After what seemed like 40 meters Fallon stops running and falls against the wall for support, and Emilia then Bueller come to a jogging halt.  “Fallon, come on, we aren’t out of the woods yet.  We need to get through the main cathedral and to the garage ASAP, we don’t have time to rest”, Bueller commands.  “Sorry”, says Fallon, and she tries to push herself back to a standing position, but can’t seem to do it.  It’s then in that stationary position that it first becomes apparent that something is wrong. There is a small puddle of blood on the floor at the base of the wall where Fallon is leaning.  Emilia sets me, and the bloody, beaten mess I am down on the floor against the wall, and walks over to Fallon.

“Turn around girl, let me take a look at you”, she says while supporting Fallon and turning her around by the shoulder.  Emilia gasps, “Shit”.  There is two bullet holes and one bullet wedged in the armor of Fallon’s uniform.  The bullet proof plating over the shoulder blades stopped on bullet, but she has been hit in the right shoulder under the plate, and in the left flank of her lower back.  There is a notable amount of blood coming out, but it seems somehow less than it should be.  Emilia then looks down the hall which we ran, and sees a spotted trail of blood.  “We can’t stay here, they’ll follow the crumbs if we don’t fix this soon.  I am too fatigued to heal here good right here like this”, she says.  Fuel takes a duffel bag he has carried this whole time, and pulls out a clean towel.  He walks over the Fallon, puts it over her back, and then picks her up into a cradled position, “Let’s at least get to the medical station by the water processing plant before we tend to this.  Okay, sis?”  Emilia just nods in acknowledgement while picking me up again.

As she begins to run I can feel some of her perspiration pelt my face.  The hallway’s hollow concrete sound gives way to the clanking of metal floor plating, and the ceiling opens up into a large spillway, that has large water pipes overhead illuminated only by red light on their undersides.  The red lights slowly pulsate, and as we descent the stairs high up against the walls of this spillway.  They feel firm, and don’t appear to be so flimsy as to shake when we run down them.  With nothing but an occasional light from flickering mercury lamps, we progress deeper and deeper into this sloped chasm of pipes and flowing water.  There doesn’t appear to be much of it, but enough to be noticed.  Emilia is starting to groan from carrying me, and I can see the back of Fuel’s sweatshirt growing wet with sweat.  We get to this area at the bottom that is lit up more than the other areas, and it’s set up like a way station, or a generator station, though there is obviously no generators.  We run across the catwalk, and run inside the building that looks to be affixed to the ceiling with the pipes running into it.  As we enter this room, it becomes apparent that this is a drainage, and water supply pump station room.  There is a door in the back with a red cross over it.  Both panting heavily they set us down in rolling chairs at the positions, and roll us into the first aid room.  The place smells like a hospital, in stark contrast to the other room which smelled like a dank bridge of a fishing troller.  Now in the room, Emilia pulls the dual layered disposable bed covering over the examination beds and sets me and Fallon side by side in them.  She then rolls Fallon onto her side and pulls off her jacket , and unzips her bustier.  As she moves it out way, you can see the white shirt beneath completely stained red almost all the way up to collar.

“Fuel, hand me the scissors from the blue drawer over their, and grab 2 x 24 oz recovery beverages.  Then drink one yourself, and set the other on the tray table for me.  Also, hand me a portable sonagrapher from the grey drawer, and place a sterile rubber over the sensor from the grey bin on the wall.  Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, get me a red pack, number 2 from the blue drawer as well”, she commands with precision as if she’s done all of this before.  “Rodger, coming right up Em”, he responds and then begins to expediently perform the commands.  Now with the scissors, Emilia cuts the straps of Fallon’s bustier and she cuts off the bloody shirt.  Pulling it away and throwing it in a can labeled with a bio-hazard emblem, she returns her attention to Fallon’s wounds.  Her face is alarmingly more pale than it was before, and her lips look a little purple.   Blood is streaming from the left flank wound, but the right shoulder-blade wound, is not bleeding at all.  In fact I can see the bullet just protruding from the wound.  The plastic backed paper bed covering is slowly becoming a sea of red under Fallon’s body.  Some of my wounds are still bleeding, but there is little more than blots of blood on the table from me.

She grabs the sonagrapher off the tray table where Fuel put it, and presses a button causing a small amount of blue gel to flow over the sensor.  She presses a button that makes a monitor on the wall turn on to display the scan.  Moving the device over her skin she murmurs “Okay, so we have an exit wound, and a part of the bullet still inside.  And… Shit…  Meteoric metal hollow points.  Bastards.  We have to get this out, and fast.  Where’d you put the red… Oh, I see it”, she says while reaching to the red pack with surgical equipment in it.   Vigorously, she rips open the pack with her free hand, and teeth, then tosses it on the tray table and pulls out a pair of forceps.  Still holding the sonagrapher (which is locked onto the bullet on the screen now), she puts the forceps in the bullet hole.  On the screen you can see the forceps enter the screen, as Fallon lurches and moans.  The display is color coded for depth to help Emilia prevent further damage to Fallon’s body.  The tips of the forceps and the bullet are the same color now, and she grabs the bullet shard.  Slowly she pulls it out, and Fallon starts to scream louder now, but she fights to stay still.  With the shard now extracted, Emilia ignites her medium green flames and I can see tiny spindles of electricity coming out of her fingertips.  She is both healing and extracting the poisonous salts, something most people can’t do.  Her hand appears to short out on her like a faulty circuit, “Fuck, dammit!”  She grabs the recovery drink, chugs it and begins again this time, but only with the flames.  The flow of blood is almost stopped now, but I can see the faintest streaks of blue-green in the streams of blood that came from the would.

She continues to use the flames for five minutes, going more turquoise towards the end, on both the front side of Fallon’s pelvic area and the flank of her back.  I can see the wound closed now, but not completely healed.  Emilia looks like she needs a recovery drink, as she is kind of pale and sweating profusely now.  Fallon rolls on to her back, and the strength is drained from her, but with face still pale she looks to me and smiles.  Emilia, now exhausted sits back onto the rolling stool, and takes a beverage from Bueller, “Thanks Rodney”.  Bueller immediately blushes, and irritatedly clears his throat to make a point.  “Oh, sorry, I forgot you don’t like it when I call you that name.”

“Rodney?”, I say puzzled.  “Yeah, it’s my first name… I don’t like it, so I go by Bret, my middle name.  Guess the cat is out of the bag now”, he says.  Bueller nudges Emilia in the shoulder, “If it weren’t for this chuckle-head here I’d not have to explain that”.  She giggles a little and sticks her tongue out at him.

I turn to Emilia in earnestness, “Why are they using tempest kill bullets inside the citadel?  What is it about that metal that hurts us so bad?”

“Well, chica, it’s because this metal is strange”, she stands and grabs the bullet from the shoulder armor of Fallon’s coat, and you can see a subtle blue aura around it.  Then walking over she reaches under the counter, and pulls out a solution of something and fills a beaker from the counter with it.  She sets the beaker down, and drops the bullet in and immediately the bullet begins to bubble, and release emerald-green coloring into the water.  “You see.  The bullets are made of Potassium Ferrioxilate, which is sort of salt.  Salts don’t form into solid metals, but as you can see these bullets are, until dissolved.  The blue glow isn’t from what you’d think, because in fact this substance is green natively among any Earth made equivalent.  And, for there to be enough radiation to cause Cherenkov’s blue glow there would have to be enough radiation to kill any human present.  But there isn’t.  This substance is radiating something that produces the glow but with a form of radiation relatively harmless to humans, except tempests.  But for some reason, it only turns green when dissolved into something from the meteor.  Furthermore, it only reacts with water contaminated with the meteoric metals, compounds and gases in them, producing a damaging effect on the biological functions of cells that are heavily concentrated with it, namely the blood and biological systems of tempests.  And as you can see, (now holding up the beaker revealing a turquoise glow between the blue glow and green solution) it still glows when diluted”, Emilia explains.  “I don’t understand the significance of all this, Em.  You’re not making any sense to me”, says Bret with his brow furrowed.

“What I am saying is that all materials within our universe follow a specific set properties, but for some reason this metal violates them for no apparent reason, other than that it can.  Also, these materials react the same as the materials we know of react when exposed other materials brought down on the meteor.  Furthermore, this metal is almost predominantly made of Potassium-40, which is rare on Earth and in our universe compared with other isotopes of potassium.  This applies to the strange properties of all the metals and materials inside the meteoric remnants.  Which could mean that this meteor isn’t from our universe, as in its from an entirely different universe within a different space-time continuum”, she continues and appears quite proud of herself upon concluding the explanation.

“So, wait, are we also from another universe then?”, I ask wearily.

“No, we most certainly are of this universe, however, the space we occupied while in breach could be the space between these universes which is why we can interact with both.  However, the source of this effect isn’t readily observable by any known methods.  And the church is very anti-science, unless of course it suits their means.  And as I said, these materials are by all means, just as we’d expect them to be but somehow not.  And we are both made of matter from this universe, and contaminated with matter of the other universe”, she finishes.

“Well, that’s some heavy shit”, Fuel says.  “Indeed, brother, indeed”, Emilia says while nodding.  “We need to get a move on, so I think the science lesson will have to take a backseat for now”, Bueller says while looking towards Fallon, “Can you walk now?”  Fallon looks up at him and nods, “But, I could use some fresh clothing.”  Emilia looks around for clothing, “Oh, Bro, you need to go behind the curtain over there.”  He just gives a flippant half salute and follows the request.  “Emilia, check that locker over in the corner”, says Bueller.  “Ah I see…”, she says as she reaches inside.  Now hunched over in the locker, “What size are you, sweetheart”, to which Fallon replies, “8”.  “Bra”, she inquires again, “34A” she responds.  She sticks her head out of the locker, confused, “Um, you’re not an A-cup, nor a 34.  That bra is almost too small on you.”  She pulls out bra and pair of underwear still in a plastic bag, and a white medical version of the uniform jacket with a bustier, and a skirt.  With two sets in hand now she gives one to Fallon, and sets the other down on the counter.  She looks at Fallon and says, “The bucket on the wall has sterile wipes in it, use it to clean yourself off.  The uniforms likely belongs to the medical staff that is on duty when this station is running, though there is no name tags on it.  The bras and pairs of underwear are just the standard issue they keep around, just in case.  Emilia pulls the curtain around Fallon and she begins to change.  She comes back out and comes to tend to my wounds and clothing, “Chica, you are a mess”, she says while shaking her head at me.  She gets the scissors and begins to cut my clothing away.  There are spots where the clothing is stuck to my wounds and it hurts when she removes them, to which she says “Sorry” every time.  I am covered in blood, and many more cuts than even I was aware of, and my bra, socks and panties are almost all completely saturated in blood.  I get nauseated and light-headed just looking at the wounds. Emilia leans in and whispers to me, “I wasn’t sure if you’d seen each other naked, so… I didn’t want to do anything that would embarrass you too love birds.” She chuckles gently at me blushing about her statements as she cuts my bra in half and the straps away.

I am still relatively unable to move, and I feel sort of embarrassed being striped via scissors by Emilia, but she has good bedside manner so it’s not too bad.  She grabs a special sterile wipe, and begins to clean the blood away.  She occasionally gets too close to a wound and it burns, causing me to wince.  I feel like a helpless child, and in many ways I don’t like it.  I feel so feeble, and helpless, and it reminds me of the fact that it was Fallon who had to risk her life to save me.   Thinking about what could have happened to her again makes me start to cry…  Now fully dressed, Fallon pulls the curtain out of the way to see my battered naked body laying on the table with an emotionally distressed look on her face.  That distress quickly turns to embarrassment as her face turns bright red, “Whoops, sorry” she says, and she turns her back to me swiftly.  I am too weak to even cover myself.  “Fallon, I need your help before we can even get her dressed”, Emilia says with a sly smirk.  “Okay…  Um, sure”, she says then turns to Emilia.  She is still red in the face, but less so than before.

“Help me close these wounds so that there is less chance of infection, and so that she doesn’t reopen them moving around”, she commands to which Fallon just nods.  She walks up hesitantly to my bedside and places her hands over me.  The golden aura reappears around her and turns into green flames again at her hands where she is healing me.  My pain starts to subside quickly, and Emilia comes up to help her seeing that she is already starting to struggle ever so slightly.  “You’re still not at 100%, so don’t push it.  I don’t think I’ll be able to heal anyone else after this, much less use my powers.  That’s what The Fuel is for”, says Emilia.  “HUA HUA!”, says Bueller from behind the curtains.  “Hey, no commentary from the peanut gallery”, she retorts sarcastically.  “Can’t blame a man for being proud and humbled in the presence of such amazing women”, he resounds with even more pride in his voice.  “Flattery will get you… Well, there we go chica, almost good as new”, she says with a proud smile on her face, “But you aren’t back to normal.  You won’t be able to walk much less run for a while, and your tempest is far too taxing for you to use in this state.  How is your leg, arm, and shoulder?”

“They hurt, but I think I can move them on my own power if need be”, I respond.

She reaches over and grabs a pen light and shines it in my eyes, “Good”.  Then she asks me to grip her thumb and resist her movements with both hands, “Hmmm, that’s not going to work.  You’re weaker than I thought you’d be.”  “Heya, Fallon, could you hand me the second set over on the counter?”, Emilia asks.  She does so and hands them to Emilia.  Emilia does a once over inventory of the items, “Okay, If you can move to help us do so, and Fallon, I need you to support her on the edge of the table”, she commands.  Emilia puts on one sock, then the second.  One by one Fallon supports my weight while Emilia helps me get the uniform on.  Fallon seems rather normal about all this but I can tell she’s affected by seeing me like this.  Now fully dressed, Emilia has Fallon sit on the bed, with my arm over her should to support me, “Heya, brother, you can come out now.  I’d like both of you to carry her.  Understood?  We’ll be faster if you do”, she commands firmly.  “Yes, ma’am”, he says with the half-assed sarcastic salute again.  Lifting me up, it’s an apparent problem that the height difference is going to be awkward.  “Alright, how about this”, he grabs me away from Fallon and places me on his back in a piggyback position.  Emilia sighs, “Always got to do things the hard way for that hard head of yours”, to which it flippantly responds, “Yep!”

“Fine, fine, lets skedaddle before they catch up to our blood trail”, she continues with a sigh.

I feel like an undersized backpack clinging to an over-sized body riding on Fuel’s back like this… He is big, but you don’t realize how big until he’s giving you a piggyback ride… He is built like a horse.  Still don’t know how with my power that it actually makes me stronger than him.  We head out the back of the station into another long hallway like the one before and continue moving until it opens up into what looks like an old abandoned drainage system.  The place smells like mold, moisture and rat feces.  Heading in further we can hear noises of sirens, vehicle and people who’ve been mobilized to track us down.  This old drainage system leads to the old citadel where the Grand Cathedral sits, and often time’s where the pope gives sermons sometimes.

The passageway transitions into a very spooky, old Gothic look, and many pathways are blocked by metal sealing bulkheads, or grated fence gates.  There is a strange sound ahead.  Emilia gives a gesture like a fist back handing someone.  She creeps forward, and a rat jumps out of a pile of rusty cans causing the cans to roll off the ledge they are on.  Emilia screams in a very high pitch voice like a 5 year child who has encountered a spider for the first time.  It startles all of us, and surprises me with her break in composure… This tough, brawny woman apparently frightens easily, or is afraid of rats.  It’s an alarming contrast to her usual behavior.  “Shit.  I fuckin’ hate rats.  Bad experience.  Don’t want to talk about it.  Let’s keep going”, she says quickly regaining her composure.  “Damn, and I didn’t think to bring a camera”, chuckles my ride out of this place.  I can feel his full belly laughter shaking his whole body.  We approach a wooden door that isn’t like the other doors, and open it.  We are behind the pulpit in the Grand Cathedral.  We run across the marble floors in the aisle like thieves trying to make off with their treasure.  As we go to exit into the main courtyard that exits to the carpool, we see a shadowy figure standing in the doorway.  It’s Iudicant McPherson.  We all freeze where we are, unable to progress forward.  “Well, well.  I knew you’d have to come sooner or later”, he says just as he comes into the moonlight shining through the cathedral windows.  Emilia and Fuel both charge up their hands for an impending fight when he intercedes, “There will be no need for that.  I infiltrated this Citadel 20 years ago, seeking signs of a prophetic vision had by a dying child more than 25 years ago.  I had begun to think it would never come to pass.  I’d never once in my life since then seen a trancer with as much power as that boy had… It virtually destroyed his body.  He was never in breach, but a rare case of a child being born as a tempest”, Fuel eases up a bit, but Emilia keeps up her guard.

“You see, he told me something.  The first time I saw the face of this fiery transsexual woman, I started to suspect his prophetic confession was right.  He said to me, ‘Uncle, I must tell you a story.  My life is almost over, I am sure of this.  I had a dream.  In this dream I saw a woman who was not like other women, who had fiery deep brown hair, and a gentle, kind face with a gentle, kind soul to match.  I see her standing over a battlefield.  There is smoke and fire everywhere, and she is standing there with 5 other people, all of them tempests, her army.  And she storms the battlefield and changes the world.  I see great pain in her heart, and also great kindness.  She has a heart that won’t be tainted by the world, nor by the immense suffering she will experience before she becomes one with herself.  She will not have boundaries like other tempests, she will be like a goddess to them.  But her fate isn’t assured.  Uncle, you must find her, and when the time is right you must save her.  You’ll know when the time arrives.’  That was what this child told me.  This child predicted the passing of my wife from tempest sickness, and many other things that no child should have to carry the burden of at such an age.  When he died in my arms I vowed to do as he wished.  I worked my way up the ranks to Iudicant, and I saw many people die because of my instructions.  If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been here at such a crucial juncture.  There is so much blood on my hands, and I’d lost faith long ago, both my faith in the church, humanity, myself, and even my nephew’s prophecy.  This is the only way I can atone for what I’ve done to others in the name of a God who was always silent to my prayers”, McPherson finishes with a bowed head.

Emilia chimes in with suspicion in her voice, “So you did all of this, because of a child’s dying hallucinations? I mean, you have killed hundreds of less than fortunate exiles, outcasts and others of societies unwanted lower rung.  If there is a hell, there is a special place in it for people like you”.  Fuel nods, “And, if I do say so myself, that’s a rather flimsy excuse for the things you’ve done.  Even though I am a part of the church, I have my reasons for going against my better judgement to be here.  If not for me, Emilia wouldn’t be here, she’d be an exile too.”

“I’ve hurt so many, all in the cause of finding you.  (He looks directly at me)  My life is forfeit, I know there is no way I can make it right.  I’ll likely be killed for what I am about to do.  I’ll follow you as far as the carpool, then I’ll stay and face my fate.  You have many friends for such a short stay in this institution.  There’s even a few more ahead waiting for you up.  That look in your eyes tells me this is a tribute to your spirit, and kindness.  Go to them… Oh… And there’s this”, he says while reaching into his pocket.  He tosses Emilia a stack of digital cards to used to gain access to the carpool, “With that many codes there’s no way the security system can block you.   Also, you’ll need my biometric data to get past the sentry guns, thus why I am escorting you.”  Bueller clears his throat, “Well, we best get a move on… Come on, let’s go.”  And with that we exit and rush through the courtyard to the center fountain for cover.  The guards are suspicious now and are searching the courtyard, most likely for us.  “Bret”, I say tapping his shoulder, “Hey, I can walk now.  We can’t sneak in if you’re carrying me like this.”  He gently crouches and releases me.  I am a little unsteady at first, but overall I am fine.  “Brother, we are going to need a distraction to get past them… Do you think you can manage?”, asks Emilia?  He looks at her and smiles like a mischievous toddler, “Ha, where do you think I got my nickname.”  Fuel heads back a little and powers up, and with a triumphant scream he starts blasting things with power attacks.  You can see plumes of dust and debris rising from the locations of his attacks.  We creep across the plaza with Fuel moving back with us at a distance.

As we approach the building a couple of guards notice us darting into the building and they begin shooting at the building.  Fuel goes defensive mode to cover our back and covers the entrance with his shields and charges to door frame so that it stays up for long enough for him to retreat.  Now inside a long hallway perpendicular to us, we are at the turn-style gate with biometric sensor guns monitoring the entrance.  “Wait here, I’ll handle the security”, says McPherson.  “Why is there so little security in this building”, I whisper to Emilia and she replies, “I don’t know, it seems an awful lot like a set up to me.  Can we really trust him?”

Fallon chimes in after being silent and vigilant this whole time, “Someone pulled some serious strings to make this building so empty right now, and they did it in advance of this evenings arena match.  Who could have that much pull though?”  Bueller starts getting itchy like he is getting paranoid, “Well, we ain’t getting past those guns without divine intervention.  What better than a preacher to grant it.”  “I dunno, something just doesn’t feel right.  I don’t like this one bit”, Emilia adds following in suit with Bret’s anxiety.  “Come on, move now… They’ll only be down for 15 seconds, move”, shouts McPherson.  We dart up and over the turn-styles, and Bret grabs me to help me over. We run through the door and are now safely on the other side.  I sit down against the wall for a moment, when I notice some dark silhouettes in the hallway leading to the carpool.  Out from the shadows of the bulkheads comes Cadets Dawson, Partridge, and Rush unsure of whether to approach or not with McPherson present.

“How did you guys get through, and what are you doing here?”, I ask.

“It helps to be a knight in the French Foreign Legion.  (He flips his hair) Besides, how could I leave such beautiful maidens in such distress without lending my sword”, Chevalier Dawson says.  “Oh god, I think I might puke”, says Emilia standing up to push Dawson out of her way, “I am no princess, don’t go all knight in shining armor on me now.”  Gunfire rings out down the hallway from us, and it startles us.  Iudicant McPherson falls to the floor.  Bret pulls him out of the way of the shower of bullets coming down the hallway.  He is bleeding badly as Fuel pulls him up to the wall and leans him against it.  “I… Uh…  forgot to… to tell you, the rest… rest of the prophecy.  The little boy told me… ‘When, you save her you’ll have to sacrifice your own life.  That is the only way her and her comrades will make it.  That is the only way the world we’ve known will end, and a new world… world will begin.’  I knew before I helped you that I would come to my end here, so please, leave me behind…  This is the way it must be.  Go”, he insists.  Fuel takes a jacket from the duffel bag and wraps it around McPherson to keep him warm.  He is shivering, and in this dire state he is in he no longer looks intimidating.  He looks like a frail, old, bitter man… But the strange thing is that he is smiling and rocking his head ever so slightly like he has waited for this day for a long time.  He looks like a tremendous weight has been lifted from him.  He looks up at me and says, “I knew when I looked in your eyes so closely that you were the one he told me about.”

Bret and Emilia look at each other and Emilia turns to me to say, “We are going to cover your retreat.  We are the only ones strong enough to fend them off.  We’ll stay behind.  Just make it worth it… Alright?”  I shake my head at her, “No, that wouldn’t be right.  You’ve already sacrificed so much for me, and you are still fatigued.”  Fuel erects a shield around the door again, but the frame is stone and can’t be charged.  “Look chica, that story had 5 people in it in your army.  With you, Fallon, Dawson, Rush, and Partridge that makes 4 of us.  Which means one more of us is going to die before this is all said and done with.  And I won’t leave my brother to die.  Sorry girly, I just can’t abide in fate so sweetly”, she says to me with a resigned smile on her face.  “We’ll handle this.  A tier 2 paladin and a high-end tier 3 warrior are unstoppable.  None of us will make it out of here alive we don’t do this.  Trust us, we’ll be fine.  We’ll be following on your heels”, Bueller says half hopeful, half disheartened.  Fuel Erects his shield bubble and walks through the door frame shorting out the gun fire damaged turret cams, with Emilia in tow.  I can hear her sending power blasts through his field.  McPherson looks up at me again very sleepily, “One last thing, he said to me… ‘Tell her… Tell her… Tell her that her only limitation is within her.’  With in… (He yawns) I’m just going to rest here for a bit.  Have dinner without me.”  He closes his eyes and slumps against the wall.  I use my power to sense his body… There is 15 rounds in his body, which even if I had the power right now, it would be impossible to extract the salts from his blood.  I start imagining my friends here, even Fallon meeting a similar fate.  I start to feel the calm rage in my chest.  This world has taken everything from me, and now it’s threatening to take the last things that really matter.  Damn right I’m angry.  But for some reason I feel still strangely calm.  I close my eyes, and think about Fallon.  I think about my love for her.

I open my eyes and everything is moving in slow motion again.  I see Fallon huddled against the wall, and Dawson and Rush scanning the cards at the entrance to the carpool while Partridge is pulling tri-blades (3 bladed boomerangs with Potassium Ferrioxalate blades) out of her weapons case.  I can hear Emilia scream as a stray round makes it through the field and hits her.  I stand up, as though I am weightless.  Fallon watches me as I pass her.  I walk through the door, and as I do Fuel looks at me in shock.  Emilia also stops holding her shoulder to look up at me in awe.  I walk out through Fuels field as though it was nonexistent, causing it to collapse.  The bullets disintegrate as they go through my white aura turning into harmless sparks of light.  No bullet reaches the door, nor Fuel, nor Emilia.  I can feel the heat of the cinders occasionally puff at my skin.

Without words or motion I send out a compression wave with my mind sending all then men flying back, and fracturing all the walls and the ceiling with the force.  I even peel some tiles off the floor.

Some of the men are dead, and others are dazed and unable to fight.

All the windows are blown out, and the display cases that lined the hallway shattered.

More men pour in through the door, except this time with rocket-propelled grenades.  I take in another breath and time stops.  In slow motion I watch was white-hot electrical arcs pour out of my body in the direction of the soldiers.  As the bolts touch things it cuts them, and it shreds everything in its path.  Slowly moving down the hallway with brutal force severing all that it touches, to include people in its path. It’s glow is as brilliant as its vicious power.  The arcs hit the RPG warheads, setting them off, finishing the job my arcs of electricity started.

Then out of the corner of both eyes I see speed users running in for the kill, but for some reason they seem slow to me.  I raise my arms into the air, and about 4 feet from me I blast them with a glowing white-hot shockwave causing their bodies to turn into nothing but cinders.

From the hallway we entered a blue power user’s artillery attack blasts through the debris left by the door, and heads directly towards me.  When it hits my field it reflects the blast back at its user, and an explosion and dust flies from outside.

My rage diminishes, and my strength wanes as my white aura falls once again.  I don’t have the energy to keep fighting at this intensity and time resumes its normal course.  My body feels heavy again, like I am drugged, and I collapse to my knees.  Every ounce of my strength is drained and my entire body is tingling like the after effects of electric shock.  I don’t have tempest sickness though, but I can’t seem to pick myself up off the floor. Whoever is outside waiting to lay siege to us is too scared to send in another failed assault.  Bret and Emilia pick me up and carry me back through the door frame, and into Fallon’s waiting embrace.  Rush shouts at the top of his lungs, “We got it, let’s go, now… It won’t stay open forever.”  Fallon lifts me up with the help of Emilia and we hurriedly run for the exit.  I try to walk with them, but my feet just end up dragging along the way.  Fallon is trembling something fierce and Emilia is straining as we grab the first passenger van near the entrance and hop in.  This van’s seats can comfortably hold 11 people, and has two benches on the side walls in the back which double as beds.  This vehicle may be a van but it feels like a mending of a van and an armored personnel carrier.  Fallon and Emilia set me down on the cot and Fallon drags cushions out from the side of the cot up by my head.  Emilia reaches into a rations refrigerator and grabs a rescue beverage and hands one to me and one to Fallon.  The vehicle starts up like jet engine warming up.  The drinks are not like those in the chow hall.  You have to cut the straw at the top to drink it, which Emilia has already done for us.  The vehicle starts to lift off the ground, “Hold tight ladies. It’s going to be a rough ride flying under the radar”, says Rush.  From out the very narrow slit windows in the back I can see the vehicle is leaving the flight bay, and outside it seems to be snowing now.  I can feel the acceleration and deceleration, but my body in this state is unable to maintain my orientation.

“Fallon buckle her in, and use the wall belt for you’, says Emilia.

“I must have forgotten, perhaps a minor oversight in my plan… I don’t like flying”, says Dawson.  Partridge is clinging to her straps as if we are about to crash.  “Is everyone strapped down?  This is going to be a doozy.  This platform is still 10 stories up”, Rush says.  Everyone says “Yes” or nods where Rush can see their affirmation.

“Here goes nothing.  YEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHAAAAA!”, Rush screams as he nose-dives for the ground.  We are all throttled with sudden weightlessness, and Dawson and Partridge scream in unison.  The straps old me in place but I can’t help but vocalize my terror.  Emilia is curled up in a ball gripping her straps, and Fallon’s hair floats effortlessly as she shuts her eyes tightly.  “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  WHOA!”, Rush screams as he does a sharp pull up right above the ground to level off our flight too the sound of our engines roaring.  Our bodies are slammed back down into our seats by gravity.  Everyone calms but it’s apparent the adrenaline is pumping, as most are panting.  Suddenly we hear tinkling sounds against the hull of the vessel.  We are being shot at by small arms.  “Hold on, Folks… Looks like we have a warm send off waiting for us.  “What do you mean ‘Warm’, you maniac”, shouts Partridge.  Rush starts doing violent evasive maneuvers rattling us around in our harnesses.  Partridge screams again, and I can hear loud booms from outside.  “Shit, artillery… Fuck… Don’t worry, they just grazed us..”, says Rush…

“Hold on”, and he does a barrel roll to the sounds of AA guns going off outside the craft and the sounds of rounds flying past the craft and exploding.  BOOM, A loud blast shakes the vehicle and cracks the windshield.  I am feeling dizzy now, as I am sure some of the other people in the craft are as well.  The AA guns continue to fire, but fade off behind us.  “Whew, that was fun!”, says Rush, who is promptly smacked upside the head by Partridge.  Fuel though has been very stoic this whole time, almost unmoved by the experience, as if he’s seen worse in his life.  “I think I may get sick”, says Dawson who promptly pulls out a barf bag and starts breathing into in.  Emilia chimes in, “Yeah Slick, where did you learn to fly, at the fuckin’ circus?”

Fallon looks over at me and our eyes meet, “Are you okay, Alira?”   I just nod, as I am dizzy and very weak now.  I stare up at the ceiling and contemplate what will happen next.  Where will we go?  Who will accept us?  Will we make it out of this?  My vision is blurring and I am beginning to be unable to control the slumber overtaking my body.  It doesn’t hurt, it just feels strange, like a drug is in my system, but without the subtle cool tingle in my veins.  As I wonder about all this and our fate, I fall asleep.

To be continued…

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