The gunfire continued. I flew back to the others, positioning myself a good twenty feet from them. My power was active, serving to shield them.
“Get behind cover,” I said.
I was glad to see them listen. Not only did they get to safety, but they weren’t in a position to see if the wretch reached out to any nearby vegetation.
The rules of ‘the game’ were that guns were verboten. ‘The game’. Gangs liked the terminology, and I was pretty sure it had stemmed from that culture. It was the nature of social groups to self-moderate. Things that were selfish and advantageous but that went against the group’s greater interests were acted on. Capes leaned pretty heavily on that abstract moderating force, because the laws had never kept up with us and we’d had to moderate ourselves.
That was the game. It was the walking of the line between the selfish things we did for ourselves and our teams and what served the greater good. Secret identities were to be left alone. Families weren’t to be touched. The day to day of the city and civilian lives weren’t allowed to be disrupted. No killing; no guns.
Capes used swords, crossbows, they used bows and other weapons that were just as lethal as a gun, given a chance. Most of the time it was to coordinate with another power. Capes threw explosive chunks of their bodies, among other things. My home town had had Miss Militia in a role as lieutenant of the Protectorate and then as leader of the team, and she had guns as part of her power.
It came down to symbols, to what the gun meant, and whether the person with the gun was playing along. With a sword or bow, the assumption was yes. When a gun was drawn or fired, barring any context, the assumption was –had to be, even- no. Carrying a gun as a cape and using it implied things that other weapons didn’t.
Tattletale had aimed a handgun at me once, and she had pulled the trigger. In that, at least, she had been playing along. It had been a tool, not a weapon. I had some grievances when it came to her, but that wasn’t one of them.
The Fallen and the villains of Hollow Point? They weren’t playing any games. Powers were used, and a tight cluster of three or four explosions in quick succession were followed by creaking, snapping sounds that might have been trees or a building collapsing.
I heard the sound of wood splintering near me, and I turned my head in time to see the side of a tree crunch inward, as if two axes had bit into it. Bit. The wretch was taking a bite out of the wood.
There were other signs of the wretch’s restlessness nearby. Bark was scraped from trees by hands.
I dropped my forcefield and stepped around a tree until it stood between me and the ongoing gunfire. My back to the tree’s trunk, facing the others, I asked, “You guys okay?”
“I don’t think they’re firing in this direction,” Capricorn said.
“Can you provide some cover?” I asked. “I don’t think anyone’s close.”
The orange motes began to dance between trees.
“We move toward the road,” I said. “We’ll cross it, and then we cut toward the settlement.”
“Victoria, you take point. Sveta, put yourself between her and us. Kids, with me. Looksee, watch what your camera is looking at. I don’t want you getting hit by the anti-thinker measures.”
“Uh huh. Tattletale went into a building with some henchmen. She waved at the camera and smiled, which was kind of nice, if you look at it a certain way. Foil, Parian, Hellhound and Imp are leaving and going up your way. If you guys decided you had to run with the guns, you could come back and come after her. That could be good.”
“Brevity,” Chris said. “This is a situation, Looksee, use fewer words.”
“Okay,” she said.
“Let’s stick to the plan,” Capricorn said. He gave me a sidelong look as he said it, and I nodded in response to the unspoken question.
He moved his hand, and walls snapped into existence where the orange motes had been. Their height was such that if I stood straight, I could look over the parts where the spikes didn’t stick up. So long as I crouched, I was clear. I flew low to the ground, the walls to my left, in the direction of the road.
I could hear something that might have been a motorcycle or dirt bike. Others started up. Gunfire answered the revving.
At the end of the wall, I crouched lower to the ground. Flight let me move silently.
The revving got louder, until I could feel it in my chest. I could hear the sound of wheels kicking stuff up, the snapping of branches, and in my efforts to tell where the bike was on the road, I was totally lost. It sounded like it was coming right toward me.
As the bike drew nearer, the sounds became clear. The tearing sound of the wheels wasn’t from wheels on a dirt road, but underbrush. I canceled my forcefield and drew my arms closer to my chest, so they wouldn’t be out to the side.
The bike flew past me. It was a road bike, with metal teeth on the wheels, probably for situations just like this one. One hand on a submachine gun, an Uzi, the other on the handlebars, he zig-zagged heavily, riding it through dense forest, throwing his bike to one side or the other with all of his body weight. Each turn seemed like it might be his last.
His rear wheel skidded along a growth of roots that was as broad as some trees, he popped a wheelie, and when the wheel came down, he came to a stop, now facing more in my direction. Young-ish. Maybe thirty. His hair was long and he had a longer beard, black and narrow at the chin, a metal thing just below his lip. With the cut of his mustache, the points at his eyebrows, and his sunglasses all resembling the shape of the wings of the bats on his leather jacket, I was getting a sense of his theme.
I wasn’t sure if he’d seen me. I remained still. I realized a moment later that, given the theme, that might be a dumb thing to do.
His head bent down, facing the ground, and he was panting for breath. He passed his gun to his right hand.
The wind blew past us. Dust from his trip across the forest floor was riled up further, instead of settling down.
His head turned my way.
I took off, not flying directly at him, but to a point off to his side. Forcefield up, I kept trees between us for good measure.
He shot a burst, and it sounded more like one sound than a series of distinct ones. I could feel the forcefield collapse like a bubble popping. The collapse was almost instantaneous, but not entirely. The bullet had touched a point somewhere behind my feet, and once the forcefield gave, the breaking of the field cascaded from there in the blink of an eye.
My hand went out, and I grabbed a tree to help stop myself as I ceased flying. Tree between us, I flew straight up, arms around my head to shield myself from intervening branches.
Covered by the thickest of the trees, I circled around him.
The engine revved, wheels digging for traction.
He rode off in the direction of the dirt road, and I went after him, staying at the level where the peaks and upper reaches of the trees provided some cover, but were far enough from one another that I could easily fly through the gaps and keep one eye on the biker.
He rode away from me like he knew where I was. Even though he was riding recklessly, he still needed to zig-zag, and I wasn’t sure he would have been any faster than me on a clear path. I could get ahead of him, above him.
He fired. I could hear the submachine gun fire one burst, then another. I could hear the bullets cutting through the air, but they didn’t touch the wretch or me.
I dove, wretch active, and when I cut through the leaves and found a large branch in my way, I let the wretch collide with it. He’d made enough noise with that gun, and I could make some by breaking the branch clean off the tree.
The bike roared as he kicked it into life, using it to get himself clear of the falling wood. Couldn’t get a bead on me, so he was running.
I was already moving, though. The moment I knew where he was going, I moved to intercept. In his haste to get going and find his balance, he’d laid the uzi against one of the handlebars. He wasn’t in a position to aim it at me.
I caught the weapon and the hand that gripped it. He tried to adjust, another wheelie with a spin as everything rested on the back wheel as a kind of forced stop or attempt to bring the bike around to collide with me. I hauled him back and away from the bike before he could finish the motion. He tumbled into moss, stones, and weeds, emtpy-handed.
Wretch out, uzi held firmly in my hand, I flew at the bike as it tumbled to the ground. I swung my hand, backhanded, and the wretch followed suit, demolishing it.
Bat-biker didn’t get up or do much except lie on his side, panting hard. The fall hadn’t been hard enough to incapacitate him.
A fear response? I didn’t even have my aura out.
I approached him and set one foot on his wrist, so it would be easier to keep an eye on the other. “I’m betting someone like you has other weapons. Tell me where, and don’t touch them unless you want me to treat you like I treated your bike.”
He went very still.
I pushed out with my aura, keeping it small. I didn’t want to tip anyone else off about my presence.
“Weapons. Now,” I said.
When I moved my hand, still holding the uzi, he responded by moving his free arm, hiking up his jacket. I could see the handgun there. A beefy, overcompensation sort of gun, which didn’t really suit his average frame.
It seemed he respected the gun more than the person with powers. Stupid.
I collected the handgun. Kicking with one foot, I pushed one of his pant legs up, then the other.
Knife at the ankle. I kept the gun trained on him, released his wrist, and retrieved the knife. He didn’t resist as I stepped on his wrist once again. My hands were pretty full at this point.
“What else?” I asked.
Prodding with my toe, using flight to avoid putting too much weight on his wrist, I investigated his jacket. Something rattled.
“Remove them. Throw them aside. Slowly.”
He did. It was a large carton of cigarettes, but as it landed, there were needles with caps on inside, sitting at an angle.
I raised an eyebrow.
“Medical, really,” he said. “Helps with the headaches from my power.”
“Don’t leave stuff out,” I said, amping up my aura some more. I poked more with my toe, and found another weight at the vest pocket of his jacket.
“Phone,” he volunteered.
I kicked down, catching the phone between my heel and a rock. I heard something break. I did it again. I saw his expression change, a snarl.
I flew up and away from him, until I could see the surroundings. I spotted a hole in a tree, and put the weapons within.
He was on his feet by the time I got back to him. He backed away a step, then fell on his ass.
“Bikers. You’re on the Fallen’s side in this?”
He twisted up his face into a scowl so fierce that it looked like a pretty sure thing he wouldn’t open his mouth.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” I said.
I flew at him. He swung a punch my way, and I put my forcefield up. His arm was too far out to the side, and he didn’t even hit me hard enough to drop my defenses.
I moved right into his personal space, and the sour sweat smell of him made me wish I hadn’t. Seizing his belt buckle in one hand and his belt in the other, I flew.
He was heavy, as I dismissed my defenses. His arms were free and he could have swung a punch, but it would have done more harm to him than to me. Instead, faced with my aura and a very swift ascent, he grabbed onto the top edge of my breastplate for leverage.
We reached the treetops, where the branches were thinner. I roughly deposited him on something that looked reasonably sturdy and unreasonably high up. The impact of my setting him down helped to break his grip on me.
I could hear the gunfire continuing. It had moved. By the sound of it, Hollow Point’s group was venturing along one edge of the camp, moving counter-clockwise along the perimeter.
“Stay put,” I said. I seized his foot and pulled it down, then undid the laces on his boots. I tied them around a branch. “I can make you more comfortable and leave you a way down if you talk.”
“Fuck you,” he said. He clung tight to a branch.
I tied the laces of his other boot to another branch. Then I identified a few key branches he could use to climb down, and, strength up, demolished the first with a sharp strike.
“Shit!” he said, voice going higher as the branch he was on wobbled. “Shit!”
I broke another. Not the cleanest break, it might have served as a foothold or handhold. I kicked it again to make it less of one.
When three branches were broken and there was a good ten feet between the branch he was on and the nearest handhold or foothold, I flew back, assessing the situation. He couldn’t let go of the trunk in front of the branch he was sitting on, and he couldn’t bend low enough to untie his laces, even if he could let go.
“I’m not going to say shit,” he said.
You just did, a few times, I thought. My expression remained deadpan.
I didn’t give him a response. Instead, I left him where he was, and flew down to the ground.
There was a time when using my powers had made me feel powerful. Having superstrength had made me feel strong. Having an aura that instilled awe had made me feel awesome.
I didn’t feel that same rush now. I felt melancholy.
There were more coming through the trees. They didn’t seem especially aware of me, or mindful of the earlier gunfire.
More people in leather jackets. Beards and some sunglasses. I flew up to a higher branch.
Bikers, except these guys didn’t have bikes with them. They’d be part of the Fallen’s network. While Prancer’s side of Hollow Point seemed to be willing to play by the rules of the game, the Fallen hadn’t been so inclined, even before Gold Morning. They hadn’t felt the social pressures because they hadn’t been part of society, living on the fringes and putting a wall between themselves and others. They’d had allies of necessity for certain events and causes, and the bikers had been some of those allies.
When people hadn’t been able to go after the Fallen, the pressures and responses for the Fallen’s actions had come to rest on the heads of the bikers and other allies. People had been less willing to deal with them, more force had been used against them, and the message had been driven home.
The problem with the cycle was that being on the outs made them more likely to bend or break the rules. The wedge between them and everyone else had also made them more inclined to simply fold into the Fallen, especially after Gold Morning.
The amnesty was a thing, crimes had been pardoned, but feelings were still feelings. The bikers had backed up some of the shittiest people around, and that was hard to let go of.
There were three people moving through the trees as a group. Their attention seemed to be fixed on flanking Hollow Point. That would’ve been the motorcycle guy’s intention too, then. Getting around behind and opening fire.
Two of them were heavy, and could’ve been brothers. One of the heavy ones had a tattoo that was partially obscured by his glasses, and a goatee. The other had a metal shackle of a collar around a neck that really was too wide for most metal collars. It made skin bulge out the top and bottom. Similar shackle-like cuffs were at his wrists and ankles, but they weren’t so bulgy.
The one in the center was a breaker. He was a wraith of a person, a statue broken up into solid segments that were hard and almost ceramic in appearance, with electric blue lines spiraling around each of the jet black, ceramic-ish, solid parts. They were connected to other parts by only a deep blue smoke that was hard to look too deeply at. His face was less of a face and more of a solid, triangular surface with a series of six or seven holes bored into it. Each hole was ridged with a corkscrew pattern, cone-shaped.
He didn’t walk and he didn’t fly. He had legs that existed as a jumble of segments, they moved, and he kind of was in places. It reminded me of the animated optical illusions where circles continually rippled outward and appeared to grow endlessly, but they didn’t actually grow.
In his case, the lines and edges of the harder body moved and rippled back, he appeared to stay in place, but he actually moved, with the indigo-blue smoke billowing out behind him.
Two guns. Shackle-guy had a handgun, and the guy with the goatee had a shotgun. Breakers didn’t tend to have gear.
I flew over their heads, and I saw that the breaker’s face wasn’t three dimensional. It was such that no matter what angle I viewed it from, it always faced me.
He didn’t react like he saw me, though. Not just yet.
One of the most underrated things about flying was that it was silent.
I took advantage, lowering myself down behind the guy with the goatee.
The spiraling on the breaker’s arm intensified. I adjusted my flight course- realized belatedly that he was swiping at me. It was hard to process his movements, because he seemed to retroactively be wherever he was going. It was my perceptions, I was pretty sure, and not time manipulation or anything.
He swiped again, and I maneuvered, moving around his buddy at the same moment. He had reach, arm extending as the gap widened between the floating segments of forearm, and parts of a hand.
I shone with my aura, no longer being subtle, seizing the shotgun and put my foot on the goatee guy’s shoulder. I flew up and pushed down and out with my foot. My interest was twofold- to kick him toward his breaker buddy’s arm, and to use full-body leverage to get the shotgun out of his hand. He had good trigger discipline, and so me pulling the gun away didn’t also pull the trigger against his finger.
I had the shotgun and I’d put myself far enough away to be out of the blue breaker’s reach. I brought out the wretch and had it demolish the shotgun in my hands.
If I was going to use an all-or-nothing weapon, I’d rather use the ones I was familiar with.
Still turning in the air, I traveled an unpredictable course, arcing down to the ground, hugging the ground as I traveled a quarter-circle arc, ever-mindful of the guy with handgun. He aimed at me and fired.
His bullet hit the wretch, and I hit him at the knees, bowling him over.
Before he was on his feet, and before the blue breaker could swipe at me, I grabbed him by the ankles. Flying, I dragged him across the forest floor. More to the point, I dragged him in a way that put his upper body and face closer to the ground as I dragged him.
He grabbed me by the wrist, and it took me a second to realize the how and why of it. I’d had him by the ankle, and his foot was now a hand. He was strong- enough that I thought something would pop or break if he squeezed any harder.
I changed course, and I flew him into the base of a tree trunk. I heard the solid impact, and I felt the ‘leg’ I was holding jerk in reaction to the pain, but I didn’t succeed in breaking his grip.
He had a foot where his head had been, and hands at the end of neck, ankle, and each arm. The shackles seemed to be the point where the changes happened. When he bent to bring a hand toward my face, it was with a crease between what should have been crotch and shoulder and far more flexibility than a man his size should have managed. I struck his hand away with a backhand strike, my forearm catching his wrist. Another hand grabbed me by the belt.
My focus, though, was on the hand that still held the handgun. He had his bearings, and he brought it around to point it at me. I seized it, fingers hooked around barrel and handle both.
I hated guns being brought to a cape fight.
I twisted around, heaving him up and bringing the wretch to bear for some added strength at the last moment. I slammed him into the tree, harder.
His grip weakened. I wanted to fly away, but we both still had a mutual, contested grip on the weapon.
The breaker was coming for me, swelling in my vision. It reached, and fingers brushed through foliage. The greenery stretched like it was ooze, strands and bends and all.
When it snapped, it coiled and curled away like smoke, black with blue sparks in it, like a burning paper might have orange.
The rule for fighting breakers was to not fight them in their breaker state, because the breaker states tended to cheat the rules.
I couldn’t wrestle the handgun free, even with the shackled biker weak from his second visit to the tree’s trunk. I bent his wrist back as far as it could, his fingers bending backward as I brought the gun over to one side. His hand began changing, the front of the hand becoming the back, fingers finding angles to grip the gun. He reaffirmed his grip.
He did, however, also lose a bit of ground around the trigger. I checked, then shifted my grip more to the handle and the area around the trigger guard, before pulling the trigger repeatedly. Not easy, given the angle. Not easy, when each shot kicked and was loud, and I had a breaker lurking at the corner of my vision, not registering as having any depth in my depth perception.
I wasn’t quite sure what would happen, but I gripped one of the shackles. For just a moment, I let the wretch out, giving myself the strength to crush it in my hand.
For that same moment, the wretch did something, and the entire body jerked, cloth ripping.
The metal shackle broke, and the hand spasmed, letting go of the handgun.
There was a wound in his stomach, and it closed as he lay there. At the same time, his hand multiplied, swelled, had fingers and teeth appear, and became a misshapen blob. The effect crawled up his arm to his body, which bloated and swelled.
A mouth opened in the middle of it. It snapped in my general direction.
I pushed my aura out as hard as I could. The mass of flesh withdrew into itself. The breaker stopped.
I stared down at the changer-in-flux. A mess of hands, a mess of legs, teeth, fleeting facial features.
My aura radiated intense fear and awe, enough to stop grown men and monsters in their tracks, and in the midst of it all, I felt that melancholy.
“This?” I spoke. “What you’re feeling is a four. The dial goes up to ten.”
The breaker’s fingers traced the side of a tree. The wood became goo and it stretched.
“You can feel the intensity of it, can’t you?” I asked. “You do not want me to turn up this dial. Because this? This is a six.”
I was close enough to trees and ground that when I brought the wretch out, it could reach those things. It broke up the dirt and it bit into wood with fingers. The wood creaked until hands clenched hard enough to break it, and then it broke explosively.
“If I turn it up any higher, you’ll feel that too,” I said. I had the handgun. I looked down at it to figure out how to release the magazine. I threw the magazine down to the ground and held out the gun.
There was a moment’s pause, and then the wretch took hold of the weapon. It flung it out, slamming it into a tree hard enough that it sank into the wood of the trunk.
Still maintaining a grip on the weapon, the wretch dragged it about a foot toward the base of the trunk before it couldn’t anymore. A moment later, the metal began distorting. Something broke and fell.
“You, blue breaker. Go back to being human. All of you stand down.”
Goatee looked at his friend or brother. The wretched thing at the base of a tree. He didn’t stand down, and the breaker didn’t go human.
Maybe it was a minion for goatee guy. It was a hell of a minion, if so. Whatever it was, minion or breaker, I wasn’t about to change my policy on staying the hell away from it.
The breaker started toward me. It stopped when orange motes began appearing. I dismissed the wretch, watching as they looked around.
“That,” I said. “Is an eight.”
The breaker reached out and touched a mote. It stretched the mote in the air. There were lines around it, and it pushed through trails that had been left behind motes, distorting them too, stretching them like it had the leaf.
“I’m pretty sure you don’t want to do that,” I said.
Sveta’s hand reached through the trees, grabbed goatee guy, and hauled him into the orange motes.
Everything snapped into being, except the lines the breaker had altered. They remained where they were, jumping around, wiggling and distorting, before they found a solid form as a spray of rock fragments. I brought my defenses up just in time to deflect the worst of it.
The goatee guy was caught, orange motes around his legs. The breaker waded through it like it was glue.
The stone became water. The breaker no longer waded through it, instead struggling to hold its general shape as the water pushed and sprayed through the smoke. Some of the water was forceful enough to bring small branches down from trees overhead.
As the water’s spray dissipated, the breaker sagged. The smoke was mostly gone. It crumpled, and the segments dissolved into a thicker smoke. As they blew away, one of the bikers was left in the center. A mid-thirties woman with a blue tank-top with a faded motorcycle logo on the front, a potbelly, and a complexion to match the most acne-ridden teenager from my old high school.
“It’s an eight,” I said, quiet and mostly to myself, “But it’s not my eight.”
She started to get to her feet, then slipped in the mud. She remained hunched over.
“We need to have a conversation,” I said.
“Your friend. He okay?”
“He gets like that sometimes.”
“Okay,” I said. I tried to avoid looking at the shuffling mass of flesh. Before, it had been only the hands, feet, and head that had changed. Now it was everything but those things.
On a level, I felt bad that I couldn’t look straight at it and that I’d been hurt by others that had once been unable to look straight at me.
On another level, I knew even I’d had a hard time looking straight at me, when I’d been that way. I still did. I’d never really blamed anyone. For abandoning me, yes, but not for not looking.
“You’re going to tell us the layout of the Fallen camp.”
“Can’t,” she said. “Fuck.”
“The anti-thinker measure. Where and who?”
The others emerged from the woods. Sveta. Capricorn in blue.
“You’re going to need to give me something,” I said.
“We came to help out the Crowleys. We hang with them sometimes. They’re harmless,” she said. “The- other branch, it isn’t.”
“The Mathers,” I said.
“I’m being told to tell you something. You don’t need to hide at the fringes. You’re welcome to join in, and you’re expected. They- they’ll embrace you with open arms.”
“You’re being told?”
“Fuck them, and fuck this,” the woman with the blue top said. “Not what I signed up for. They got us in here, we were partying last night, and then, out of nowhere-”
“Hey,” the guy with the goatee said.
“Her,” she finished. She turned her head away. “I can’t explain. She says she has hostages. People you know and people who those people care about. You can mess with the attackers, but if you get in the way of the Fallen, people are going to lose body parts.”
Byron spoke up, “Can you take a message back to her?”
“I don’t know,” the biker woman said, sullen. “I don’t-”
“What?” Byron asked.
“She says no, no messages. Other stuff. She-”
Her eyes went wide. She looked around, her eyes not focused on anything in particular.
The woman’s voice carried forward, but it was an inarticulate sound, one that became higher, then a warbling shriek, followed by a gasp for air with a sound of its own.
She dropped to the ground, fingers clawing in dirt, twisting like she was trying to get away from everything at once. The noises she made were horrible, and I’d heard some awful noises in my life.
Goatee guy started to approach her. He stopped when I flew a little closer.
“Stop. What do you do?”
“Do? I’m decent with a gun.”
“That’s your power?”
“No. No powers,” he said. He sounded stunned by the question. In the moment, I could see how bothered he was and I had trouble believing he could concoct a good lie.
The woman was curled up now. She pulsed, and with each pulse, dark cracks ran across her body and over her clothes, then faded away.
After a few tries, she stopped trying. She shrieked, and then strangled the shriek.
“Is there anything we can do for her?” Sveta asked.
“We could try knocking her out,” Capricorn said. It was Tristan now. “But it’s not like in movies. That kind of thing does brain damage.”
“I think this does damage of its own,” I said.
“Yeah, well, if you want to try the middle ground of making her brain go dark without breaking her head open, you go right ahead,” Tristan said.
“Let’s not fight, please,” Sveta said. She looked at the thrashing woman. “Shit.”
I flew to the woman. It took me a second of wrestling with her before I could get my hands around her throat. Her hands reached beneath my sleeves and got a few scratches in at my forearm.
I shifted my grip, and I choked her, heels of my hands pressing in. I pulled away when she went limp and the struggling ceased. Unconscious, not dead.
I didn’t need to ask before orange motes began to appear. Restraints, so she wouldn’t hurt herself.
“You’ll need to stay with your friends,” I said, to the guy with the goatee.
He nodded, slumping to a sitting position on the ground. He didn’t even seem to care he was sitting in mud.
Tristan walked away, and Sveta and I both followed.
“Where’s our fourth?” I asked.
“Sent him ahead. He’s out there and he’ll change soon,” Tristan said. He pointed. North and deeper into the woods. Chris would be closer to the Patrol block guys, then.
We were wordless from that point on. We cut through the woods, and we reached their edge, where tree stumps of varying height speared up from the ground.
Across the clearing were hills with stones piled up around them, no doubt cleared from the fields, and houses, large but rustic. Two of those houses were on fire, and one had been partially leveled.
A blip of something green shot from the sky to the ground, far enough away it felt like it was on the horizon, when it was really on the far side of the settlement. The ground shook where we were in response.
If that wasn’t indicator enough of where the focus of the fighting was, I could hear the distant shriek of Ashley’s power. I made eye contact with Sveta, then Capricorn.
Hostages. Guns. Turning allies into pawns. Inflicting something that serious on someone?
No games here. No illusions of any games, even.
For all the issues of our motley team, where so often we could have three people on entirely different pages, I could look at Sveta and I could look at Tristan, and I could know they understood this. The Fallen in particular had gone off the deep end. They’d abandoned their last vestiges of responsibility as capes and as human beings.
That left us the responsibility of giving them an appropriate response.