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Dirty Deeds Don't Come Cheap (Part 4)

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A Second Generation Whateley Academy Adventure

Dirty Deeds Don't Come Cheap

by

MaLAguA

 

Part Four

 

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:03 pm
Operation site - North rooftop - Root

“Hurry! And keep your guard up!” Cole instructed as they traversed the corridor of the second to last floor at a hastened pace, practically carving the pathway towards the western building from which the dark smoke and main firepower appeared to be coming from, as well as telekinetic attack according to Lifeward’s report. Something that gave Root a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“Don’t fall behind,” After that, he disappeared around the corner. The flashes of light and the rattling of bullets being fired, raising dust from the concrete walls startled Root into a halt. But then he quickly heard the sound of fists finding their mark and men gasping and grunting to recover. A slam of the butt of a gun being tossed aside and a body hitting the wall, before culminating with the spectral sizzling the bodies made when they disintegrated into light.

Root turned around the corner to find Cole standing alone, just about to relax his fighting stance, with no opponent in his way. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, it just surprised me for a moment… We must be getting closer.” Cole said taking a moment to look down onto the courtyard, just to make a quick check of the status of the battlefield. “These enemies. They must be a manifestor that can copy themselves several times over.”

“I see…” Root muttered. “Can we face them? The man with the telekinesis seems pretty strong.”

“We won’t know unless we try,” Cole said, taking a moment to take a quick stock of his tool belt, grabbing up some some small gadgets and slipping them in a small pocket underneath his glove.

“He’s confident,” Root thought to himself, uncertain if this was a good or a bad sign.

“These enemies here are armed and appear to be quite trigger happy. I don’t need to tell you to avoid facing them head on… but if you happen to run into them, dodge to your left, they seem to favor their left arm. Don’t be afraid to deliver the killing blow as they might not hesitate back.” Cole muttered as he tapped on the new operative's chest. “Lifeward’s spell will protect you from a couple of bullet hits, but won’t spare you forever, so be prepared to leap away within the five seconds that spell shields you.”

“I got it,” Root conceded just as fire bolts came in crashing from the west rooftop, where the smoke had laid its claim.

“We better hurry.” Cole muttered as he set off towards the nearest flight of stairs.

“I don’t want to be pessimistic… but are we going to be alright?” Root inquired, still following. His hand scooped up a couple of seeds from his pouch and immediately began to pour his energy into them, immediately feeling the ‘plant eggs’ hatch and start to grow. Tender vines willing to spread out and obey the shape he wanted. Magic, everyone called it, but he never really had the chance to formally study the ability so to him, this was just on the same level as one of the other mutants around who could duplicate or unleash fire without giving it much thought. In the end, seeds grew and solidified themselves into a hardwood shield that covered his hand and a vambrace around his arm made out of bramble, with a long sharp branch projected from his forearm.

He was the person trying to attack someone armed with a piece of wood… No wonder he felt under-confident.

But Cole’s words and presence felt reassuring enough, so he followed him all the way up until they reached the door leading to the rooftop.

The syndicate expert waited a couple of seconds before breaking through the door. A man from the other side tried to open fire but quickly missed as Cole’s hands diverted the gun’s barrel and used the man as a shield. Root followed soon after, stepping in just in time as one of the gunmen had their sights trained on Cole’s exposed back. Was this a mistake? Or was it a test to get him to act? Were thoughts that crossed his path. But only for a fraction of a second as he was already jumping in. Using the short shield to hammer down the gun and then driving the stake onto the copy soldier.

Root hated death, even if he knew that this wasn’t exactly a real death. But there was something unsettling about the feeling of his stake piercing through the exposed neck and watching the eyes focus on him. Under the light, seeing them widen seemed to spell out. “Wait… is that you?” before they melted away into light.

“Good job, Root,” Cole said from nearby, just as his own opponent faded away into light. But the tone quickly changed as he broke into a sprint after him, yelling “Get down!”

The newbie operative’s distrusting side wanted to ask what or turn around, but quickly he realized what it was as the shadow of a man appeared to make itself present just under him. Someone with the hand outstretched revealing the clear curved edges of claws! Root immediately ducked and leapt onto the side just as Cole arrived for an intercepting spin kick that must’ve packed a harsh hit. The assailant, a half man half panther creature, got diverted onto the side wherein he landed on his feet and wasted no time to pull out a handgun aimed at Cole.

Bullets flew past through the air as both Cole and Root slipped around separate concrete walls.

Still, the panther man didn’t appear to want to reach a stalemate and was already on the move, seeking to flank the Syndicate specialist, the bigger threat, drawing out a huge combat knife to engage in hand to hand. That was a mistake.

He tried to vault over cover, expecting to drive the thick steel into Cole’s head but instead found the man had already slipped to the side, narrowly missing the strike but also ready to punish the mistake. Two hard strikes to the side sent the beastman against the brick wall. One hard blow was brought down to the wrists, forcing him to drop the gun. Then, two more were aimed at critical spots of the body and a kick raised to the face should’ve delivered the knockout.

The beast man’s reflexes spared him that last hit. He seemed to have realized that trying to face Cole in hand-to-hand combat was a crass mistake as he immediately tried to back away and pull the second gun he carried. But the specialist was three steps ahead, pivoting from his kicking leg into another swing then on to a runner’s stance just to give himself the sprint needed to catch up. The gun was fired haphazardly, missing his opponent, also Root, for that matter as he could hear the bullet hole being made just about half a meter away from his face.

At the end of the combo, Cole delivered a straight kick into the panther’s stomach, sending him stumbling and off the rooftop. Whether to death or not, it was uncertain. Cole was already turning his back to the side of the roof and signaling Root it was time to push on towards the west building.

Onward to stop the man with the telekinetic grip on everything his eyes laid on and the person who controlled both fire and smoke. Root knew he was in for a world of trouble, but he still pushed on after his handler.

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:10 pm
Operation site - West rooftop - Voidgrip

“How cute. They have some protection,” Voidgrip mused, sitting in wait by the side of the wall, with the building’s railing and his partner’s smoke making it impossible for him to be spotted.

“Hey.” Efreet snapped, standing atop the stair’s annex, with the assault rifle in his hands firing bursts of bullets down into the courtyard and to the side mixed in with a bolt of fire that was charging upon his exposed arm. At his feet the black smoke exuded from his legs lingering onto the edge of the rooftop in an unnatural manner, under his control. “Can you put some effort into it? We could’ve ended half an hour ago if you’d put some effort into it.”

“I’m doing what I can,” Voidgrip said disingenuously. “Pulling them out of cover, trying to kill them only for that little bit of magic to break my control over their bodies.”

“You have line of sight telekinesis. We both know you could do much more to end this.”

“But if I did that, then what would you do?” Voidgrip mused

“I’m wasting ammo here,” Efreet grumbled as, with a sweeping move of his leg, the cloud of smoke parted just enough to grant him a window through which he opened fire.

Voidgrip smirked, wondering if Efreet hadn’t been told about how unimportant this mission would be… Though in his mind, that was probably a calculated risk so he wouldn’t skimp on the effort and ammo.

“What do you think?” he asked as the smoke window closed up soon after. “We’ll somehow manage to deal with this issue?”

“I don’t know. This type of job isn’t my kind of thing.” Efreet said, lowering his gun as he checked his wrist screen. “I’m a military commander. A soldier that specializes in war… if it were up to me, I would be using a drone strike to clear the path and then interrogate the target… but we have to go through this song and dance of trying to delete the data.”

“Well, this wasn’t an easy mission,” Voidgrip muttered. “Which is why Vince isn’t particularly invested in the success or not.”

“What…” Efreet blurted out. Voidgrip couldn’t help but smirk, he really didn’t know about it. “Fuck… Well, I’m still getting paid, even if this is just a stain on my track record.”

“You and your money… Well, can’t say I disagree.” Voidgrip mused as he pushed himself off the wall.

“Then how about you put in some more effort and end this waste of time- Huh?” Efreet trailed off as the sound of combat from the side caught his attention. Two Schrodingers were just receiving the tail end of a beating, one being thrown off the building and another being slammed up against a nearby wall much to the point that the copies could endure, starting to disintegrate into light the moment a second intruder came in to drive a wooden stake into their exposed armor.

“Well well well… who do we have here?” Voidgrip mused, while Efreet was instantly turning the gun onto them.

“You two must be really foolish to approach us like that,” Efreet said, raising his gun. “Now, surrender before we pelt you with bullets.”

“I’m afraid we can’t do that.” Cole answered as he stood up, keeping his distance.

“Do you really think you have an option?” Efreet answered as his eyes briefly strayed over to Root, who stood a couple of steps away from Cole. He made a small pause, but quickly moved as Cole took a step forth. “I might not have said it, but the ‘halt’ order was implied.”

“I’d rather we have a chance to talk it out,” Cole said. “You’re intruding on very official matters… but I take it you two knew of that. Are you the other group with a grip on our MCO guest?”

“You got it right,” Voidgrip nodded before his eyes turned towards Root. “So you better step back and fall in line before you meet a gruesome end. I’m not someone you can mess around with.”

“It’s funny. That was supposed to be my line… but, I take it that you’re not here to butt into the negotiations.”

“Our main objective is to ensure our target isn’t blackmailed ever again.”

“By our client, you mean…” Cole noted.

“Correct,” Voidgrip muttered. “If your client doesn’t allow for any flexibility, we’ll be forced to erase him, and everyone associated with him.”

“I’m afraid that’s not an option here.” Cole answered with a daring grin.

“Not an option? Didn’t you see what I’m capable of?” Voidgrip asked.

Efreet scoffed. “Why are we wasting our time? Let’s just kill this guy and move on to eliminate the rest of the crew. They’re dragging the conversation too long.”

The mercenary was about to raise his rifle but, in his rant, Cole had already snatched a couple of throwing stars from his belt and, with a swing of his arm, sent them flying after Efreet.

Much to his surprise, they were suddenly halted in midair, as if caught by a pair of imaginary fingers, but in reality, being courtesy of Voidgrip’s enhanced eyes and telekinetic powers. Still, that appeared to have been expected as a third shuriken flew past the imaginary grab. It hit Efreet’s thick vest with enough strength to send him staggering back and falling off his elevated position.

“Don’t let him see you!” Root called out as he also joined in on the fight, throwing something down, that could’ve been confused with dust from the surroundings, around Voidgrip’s feet. It was a good enough distraction that he couldn’t ignore as, the next moment, each of the little seeds glowed with light and blossomed in an accelerated growth, exploding out into vines that immediately latched onto his leg.

“Damn it, you!” Voidgrip snapped as he tried to rip the plants off with his hand only to realize they didn’t have the strength to actually restrain him. They were but a distraction.

Looking up, Cole had already taken several steps onto the side, preparing to come in for a flanking strike. Something that should’ve been an easy target for Voidgrip’s sight, but the mercenary swiftly grabbed a tarp that had been left by the construction team and threw it into the air before him as a sort of protection from his telekinesis.

Of course, Voidgrip was confident. All he needed to do was telepathically push the tarp forth and wrap it around the body before it for an easy capture. And yet, he wasn’t facing a nobody. The moment the tarp tensed as if hit by the invisible solid object that was his will, a tear was cut at the center as another throwing star was tossed his way.

Any normal person would’ve followed the trajectory of the thrown weapon and tried to turn around to dodge to the side… but Voidgrip had been in enough situations to know that he couldn’t afford taking his eyes off the threat… plus, his eyes could already tell that the trajectory would have it narrowly missing his arm.

He lifted his gaze a second too early, just as Cole had made a leap and his fist was raised, ready to be brought down to knock the lights out of Voidgrip. Instead, it was he who dealt the punishment, delivering a harsh telekinetic push onto the man’s chest, sending him tumbling back to the ground. And before he could get up, Voidgrip’s powers were there to do it for him, effortlessly lifting him up into the air, with his arms pinned to the side as if grasped by imaginary fingers.

“That was close… that was a good attempt,” Voidgrip gloated, exercising his power by having the mental hand around Cole squeeze, just a little bit more. “But, I’m just about the best assassin one could aff-… What are you doing, kid?”

His words were cut as he felt a hand land on his shoulder and a hard wooden thorn press up against his back.

“Let him go.”

“Are you serious?” Voidgrip muttered, containing a growl of frustration but finally relenting, letting Cole fall off and touch the ground. “Fine, there you go.”

“Don’t try anything… please,” Root whispered that last part. The nervousness seeping through his words, no doubt aware of how strong Voidgrip was, at least that much he assumed. It didn’t help with the way his hand quivered, and the spike danced up the height of his neck.

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:19 pm
Operation site - West rooftop - Root

“You do or try anything and I’ll…” Root said. Through practice, every word began to lose the nervousness and hesitation.

“You don’t need to repeat yourself. I already said you win… for now.” Voidgrip snapped. “I let go of your friend, you got me now.”

“Good work, Root. Now, we have to deal with the-” Cole was just standing up, recovering himself when, suddenly, his head turned to the side where he was welcomed by a barrage of bullets that had him tumbling to the side.

From the first bullet, Cole’s body began to glow as Lifeward’s literal lifeward activated, projecting a protective sheen around him that did it’s best to catch the spots where the bullets landed, mostly focused around the head, heart and stomach until Efreet eased off the trigger.

Only then, the magic faltered and broke down. Still, that brief respite was all Cole needed to step to the side and throw another of his shurikens after Efreet with deadly precision. To that, the mercenary could only raise up his gun in an effort to block the thrown weapon. With the barrel of the gun turned to the side, it was all the Syndicate specialist needed to cut the distance and engage him in hand-to-hand combat.

Being the one dictating the flow of the fight, Cole’s hands grasped upon the assault rifle and struck his opponent’s arm just to have it release the thing.

One smooth spin and Cole had turned the tables onto his opponent, already directing the gun down to a leg and pulling the trigger. And yet…

*click* *click*

Was the sound instead of the expected bullets. A curse escaped Cole’s lips the moment the confusion wore off and, by then, Efreet was already firing a searing bolt in his direction.

Cole narrowly avoided it, darting to the side as a scorch mark was left on the concrete wall behind.

“I hated it when my employees accidentally bought the id-lock for a bunch of my guns,” Efreet noted, holding the dancing fire on his exposed palm. “But I’m going to hate more to admit that they were right to do it. Now… Do you still think you can take me on when I don’t have guns on me? Think again.”

Black smoke began to appear around Efreet’s legs, building and spreading behind him to project himself as the bigger threat.

Root wanted to watch more of the fight going on, but his distraction must’ve been pretty apparent as Voidgrip saw this as his chance to swat the rookie’s arm and step away from his grip, seemingly confident that he wouldn’t follow through with the threat of driving the spike through his back.

“I think I’ve entertained you long enough,” Voidgrip snapped.

“Oh no…” Root muttered as he stood face to face with one of the people he dreaded the most of Vince’s organization: Voidgrip. A telekinetic mutant capable of killing people with just one look. Something that he had no idea how to survive from, especially this close.

Voidgrip chuckled. “How dare you try to threaten me like that.” Raising his hand, Root could already feel the invisible serpent wrapping itself around him, pinning his arms onto his side and his feet in place.

“Now… how about you explai-” Voidgrip tried to say but immediately found himself hissing in pain and stumbling to the side and falling on all fours, just to reveal a throwing star that had been embedded onto his back.

“Are you okay, Root?” was as far as Cole could ask before he had to refocus. Even as he was still deep in battle, he found the window to provide him with the support. But that felt like a folly considering how much pressure Efreet was placing on him.

Bolt after bolt of fire soared past, seeking to land a hit on Cole’s upper body whereas the tendrils of smoke snaked themselves across the ground, sought to come into contact with his feet. He probably had no idea whether Efreet could use them as extra limbs, but he was being cautious on that matter.

However, that could only take him so much as taking step after step back had put him in a precarious situation, wherein his back was up against the edge of the building.

“You’re starting to wish you didn’t take my gun, huh?” Efreet finally said as he raised his hand to produce a more charged blast, all while the black smoke spread out in the surroundings, seeking to close off any potential paths of escape.

And yet, despite that, Cole didn’t appear terrified… just thrilled. Something that wasn’t lost in the eye of his opponent as he picked up what was going on. Little red blinking lights on the floor, for the most part concealed by Efreet’s own smoke.

And to drive the point, Cole was reaching into the side of his vambrace to press a button.

The realization came immediately as the things beeped the first time. But it was too late to escape them as, by the second beep, they detonated, delivering explosive force downward into the concrete. Before a step could be taken, the quickly expanding cracks denied them solid footing and the ground shifted. And then, it came into a full on collapse as the ground gave away.

“Cole!” Root called out.

The lights flickered from the shockwave and a dusty updraft dissipated the smoke, letting it rise up like a cloud. When Root uncovered his face, he saw that both Cole and Efreet had disappeared, leaving a hole in their wake that was just a good distance from him… But found solace when hearing two sets of movements in the floor below. Cole didn’t waste much time engaging with Efreet in hand to hand combat…

However, that was for now… the fact that the battle wasn’t over would mean that Cole would find himself in the same disadvantage…

Root, though, couldn’t afford to think about it for long as a couple of groans, to the side, reminded him of his opponent just as he managed to get a grip of the shuriken embedded on his back and pull it out.

“Damn glad Efreet gave me that bulletproof vest… Although, I’m sure the iron tip is covered in my blood,” Voidgrip grumbled as he pushed himself back up on his feet, tossing the throwing star onto the ground. “I’ll have to pay him for it if Efreet can’t off him.”

The rookie operative didn’t answer, instead poured more magic into his floral weapons, getting the thorn’s point to grow out into a sturdier edge and the shield to reinforce itself. For whatever good that might bring against someone like Voidgrip.

But so focused he was on him that Root never noticed the shadow moved onto the side until it’s blur was caught in the side of his eye. He tried to tense up his arm and raise the shield but was still greeted by a harsh punch that sent him up against the wall and onto the ground.

It was the panther soldier, coming back for vengeance. His claws were unsheathed ready to come to the height of his throat for a killing swing before Root could even get up. In his mind, he panicked, trying to think of a way out but there appeared to be no option that would spare him.

It wasn’t up to him, though. As the clawed hand came in and crashed, it stopped as if halted by someone with a stronger grip. The beastman’s eyes widened as he realized what was happening, try as he might, he couldn’t get his wrist away from that exact spot in the air. It could only be one person…

“I’m sorry.” Voidgrip said, standing up. “But I’m sure your boss would’ve probably told you this kid is off limits.”

“What?” the beastman spoke up, for the first time. His voice reverberated with the tensed snarl.

“You heard me, “ Voidgrip said, with a flick of a hand, sending him flying back a couple of meters. “Why don’t you go around and find some other mouse to chase? As I said, this one is off limits.”

The beastman growled and snarled, leaning in threateningly as if goading him for a fight… but knowing he couldn’t win, he relented and instead turned around, running along the edge of the rooftop before leaping down onto the lower levels.

“Though to be fair… We had no idea you would be here… Root,” Voidgrip said with a small smirk.

“What are you doing here?” Root answered back, keeping his weapons raised and his arms and legs tensed at the ready, though not without turning off the comm device on his ear. “Why do I ask? You, Efreet and Schrodinger aren’t the type to work together unless you’re told by Vince. So this is his mission?”

“Of course, it is… haven’t you realized it?”

“Realized what?”

“The blackmail in question… It belongs to that night in 2012 when we intruded in that facility. One of the first jobs you did with us.”

Root flinched. That night almost five years ago was his first job for Vince’s group, Carnwennan. Back at that time he was just a kid that got picked off the street and dragged into the job as a sort of backup-support while the more senior members wrecked the place… but he was still there, and just seeing the end result of their deeds planted the seed within him: I have to get out of this place.

This was the same day that was being used as leverage for the Syndicate’s client. That meant that he could easily be connected to it. How would the Syndicate react? How would Vince react if he were to be found searching for more protection?

“Now, what are you doing here?” Voidgrip asked.

“What? Am I not allowed to take on jobs outside of the group?”

“I’m not saying that. I mean, sure. Vince might want you to be at his beck and call when the order is given, but I appreciate the idea of freedom to choose.” Voidgrip shrugged.

It never really feels like freedom if you always have to follow what he says… Root thought to himself.

“Last I remember, you and Hacron were in Mexico. The intention was that you were to train to be a better fighter. How’s the big idiot? I’ve seen one or two of the streams. He’s the champion, right?”

“He is… though I’m still there training but decided to expand the options for work. The syndicate appeared like the better option.”

“The syndicate?” Voidgrip muttered. He was impressed by the news but hardly terrified or intimidated. “I was right in my suspicions. Congrats on the hiring.”

“Asked to join them. This is my first mission.”

“What poor luck. To come in up against us…”

“You won’t tell on me, right?” Root asked.

“Of course not. Just like I don’t want Vince’s job to get in the way of my hit jobs… it’s just not worth it.”

Root sighed. To be fair, he wasn’t even sure if Vince would have any authority over him if he was a member of the syndicate, but to do so, he needed to cement his position within the organization first… and things had turned complicated.

“Do suggest you tell them that they don’t really stand a chance against me. Get them to surrender to spare me the bother,” he said disingenuously. At that time, Voidgrip’s eyes seemed to trail away towards something behind them. (it was hard to miss as the white lines in his iris spun as he focused on something). A smirk crossed his eyes “Well, if we have to pretend, do me a favor and raise your arms.”

Root didn’t think much of it, as a reflex, he raised his weapons, just for Voidgrip to raise an arm - an action he didn’t exactly need unless he was being showy. And just like that, the rookie operative felt himself shoved by a large hand, launched into the air. His feet stopped touching the ground and he saw the edge of the rooftop now way past him. His heart sank as he realized he was falling down into the courtyard below.

“Remember what I said,” Voidgrip called out, even as Root screamed.

He thought he was going to die, seriously doubting that Lifeward magical protection would spare him from a full-on fall onto the ground. And then, he hit something. It wasn’t the ground, but much softer and warm, with its movements swaying and wrapping around him as he felt the change in momentum, moving upwards rather than down. When he opened his eyes, he realized that he was in Dragonite’s arms. The dragon lady had darted into the spot at the right time and caught him on the fall, and they were now soaring around the operation area.

“Are you alright?”

“Thanks… thank you,” Root muttered, with blush starting to burn his cheeks (after the fright and shock eased up) as he realized that his head was up against the larger woman’s breasts.

“Lifeward is asking if you’re alright.”

“Oh,” Root muttered as he turned back on the comm piece, immediately hearing Lifeward’s voice from the other side.

“Root, are you alright? Your comms were off.” Lifeward asked.

“I’m alright. Sorry, I think my comms malfunctioned,” he lied.

“Everything alright?”

“Yes…” Root said as Dragonite spun to the side just as bullets struck her skin, but thanks to her sturdy body, they barely affected their flight. “We made it to the west building and had a run in with three mutants. One of them is a beastman with the form of a panther. He appears trained like a soldier. His boss, and a bigger threat, is a mercenary who controls fire and smoke.”

“Fire and smoke, huh?” Censer chimed in.

“Cole is currently fighting him in the building.”

“I think I saw some of the copy teams move that way,” The voice of the gang leader uttered, having been given a comm device to join in.

“He can handle it,” Lifeward answered reassuringly. “Dragonite, get Root down here. The attacking forces seem to have grown weaker, we’re going to consolidate forces and re-evaluate the assault angle.”

“On it,” Dragonite said as she came lower.

“The other person. His name is Voidgrip,” Root continued. “He’s a sort of long ranged telekinetic that can only control anything he sets his eyes on. Think he has enhanced sight but can’t see in the dark.”

“Say… so the biggest annoyance here can’t control what he can’t see?” The unknown voice repeated, seemingly thinking what everyone else was. “Cut the lights then, take away his strength.”

“Go for it!” Lifeward decided just as Dragonite descended behind one of Junkerer’s covers. “Hm… You said Voidgrip, right?”

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:32 pm
Operation site - Courtyard, a couple of steps away from the entrance - Cole

“I have to say. I commend you for trying. If you want, the Djinns are always looking for applicants,” Efreet mused. The smoke trailed off around in the surroundings, while his exposed hand held out a bright fire that served as the only light in the dark environment. This one, judging by the low panels and the amount of columns that were scattered about, was supposed to be an office building… and that just meant plenty of places to hide. “What do you say? Join my war company and survive tonight…”

“I’m flattered by the offer. But I’ve done war before, and it wasn’t of my liking.” Cole answered from the dark. At the sound of his voice, Efreet attacked, throwing a bolt of flames that struck a concrete pillar, lighting it in a slow fire. Just enough for a man’s shadow to be seen slipping through to another cover.

“That’s a shame,” Efreet muttered. “Then I suppose I don’t have a choice but to kill you.”

Cole held his silence as he settled down behind a column. His hand quietly checked his pockets against something he could use… However, his preparations didn’t really account for his opponent. The man’s powers were indeed something terrifying. After the fall, all the man had needed was a bit of distance to reactivate his powers and gain control of the field. The fire he conjured around his hands gave him range and also options to counter Cole’s fists, but the bigger threat was the smoke. The black cloud that lingered close to the ground, indistinguishable from the darkness of the environment, under the mercenary’s control, seemingly giving away Cole’s position if he came into contact with it.

But there was something worse around it. Hidden within the cloud were also tiny particles of embers alive and ready to burn. When Cole tried to jump in to close the distance in an effort to engage, his legs felt as if they were scraping a wall of matches, just about to light up from the friction. They carried the potential of fire and could probably combust at the man’s will….

Yet, while things didn’t look perfectly favorable, he just saw this as a challenge, trying to find the better angle to defeat his opponent. Perhaps a mindset that was far more counterproductive than it was supposed to be. He could’ve tried to bring in a gun to the fight, after all… but it was his personal want for fun that got him to consider otherwise. Not that he would ever regret it.

“There you are!” Efreet snapped, prompting Cole to look down to his leg, where flames suddenly ignited from the smoke had reached him.

His reaction was to jump onto the side and into the open to avoid the scorch, but out in the open, he caught a glimpse of his opponent with a bolt of fire locked on his arm ready to fire

In a desperate bid, Cole threw a pair of throwing stars in Efreet’s direction only for him to dive to the side for a dodge. “Do you really think I would fall again for it?” He taunted as he threw his hand forth, releasing a large fireball that, despite going missing, had its own explosion that knocked Cole to the ground.

Illuminated by the aftermath, he could see the black smoke with embered glows creep in closer in an effort to encircle him. All the while his opponent just calmly walked up to meet him, with the gun at hand. “Last chance, super soldier.” Efreet said. “Do you want to live or die?”

“I’d rather live… but not working for you.” Was Cole’s answer.

Efreet scoffed as tentacles of smoke began to encroach closer towards Cole. And yet before he could try a hand at jumping out of this situation, a flash of movement came from the side, and chains were heard in between the cracking and popping of the ember hidden in the smoke. A flash of silver flew in through the air and came in crashing onto the ground nearby.

The black cloud was shoved back, not just by the meteoric crash of the tethered hammer but also as the white smoke that appeared to exude from its holes didn’t allow it to mingle.

“Now! Get away!” Came in a voice as the white incense pushed the black smoke aside, carving a path that Cole hastily took out of the danger zone. It was Censer, the Syndicate operative with aspirations to being a combat specialist. His weapon of choice was, as the name spelled out, a censer - a large silver ball linked by a chain that he used like a hammer.

“Thanks for the assist,” Cole said once he stood at the side of the operative. “That smoke is the more dangerous thing than the fire he throws.” And Efreet exemplified it just by throwing a bolt of fire their way which they managed to dodge by pulling the cover up as a shield, sending the flames scattered about. “You keep the smoke away and I’ll subdue him.”

However, before more plans could be given, a message came in through their earpieces. “Cole?” Lifeward asked. “Are you still engaged?”

“I’m dealing with it… but what do you need?”

“The copied gunmen have made themselves scarce and some of Declan’s men report seeing them starting to gather in the north building, in the second to last floor.”

“A potential attack?” Cole muttered as another fireball came their way forcing him and Censer to seek cover onto the side. The black cloud appeared much more proactive now, snaking itself towards their position, only to be fended off by the operative’s own brand of smoke.

“I suspect that. I could send Dragonite, but it being indoors, she might have some trouble maneuvering.”

“Say no more. I’ll be there as soon as I can-” Cole was about to say when Censer put his hand on his shoulder.

“Hey. I can handle this guy. You should go.” He said, bearing a confident grin.

“Are you sure? This man is dangerous.” Cole said.

“If I can take him down, how much would it be worth for me, in Syndicate benefits.” Censer asked.

“It would be quite a bit…” Cole conceded. “But the risk might be more-.”

“I can deal with him. I know I can.” Censer said with a smirk, holding off the silver ball and, through some focus, the amount of white smoke that slipped from the holes turned into a soft stream.

Censer’s abilities revolved around the control of smoke, which made him one of the better options against Efreet. It was his powers that had been keeping them protected throughout the conversation… but the question was if he would be able to overpower him… after all, this man appeared to be an experienced combatant.

Cole had to make a decision in the moment and went with logic, rather than his gut. “Alright… I’ll be on my way to the north side of the building, and you take him from here.” He punctuated that by raising his arm. “But… don’t hesitate to run or call for backups.”

“Got it,” Censer replied by pressing his arm against Cole’s.

And with that, the two split away from cover. Cole’s steps were aimed away from the office space, northward towards the nearest annex and his back was turned. Efreet seemed to seize the chance to take the bigger threat and tried to launch a firebolt his way, but his shot went wide as he was forced to dodge the swing of the meteoric hammer that approached his direction.

Efreet scowled as Cole disappeared from sight and instead looked at the hammer that rested on the ground, the white smoke pushing away his in a matter that felt reminiscent of water and oil.

“Well well well…” Censer mused. “I now have my chance to prove myself. You control smoke… I control smoke…” Censer mused as he yanked his weapon back, with the silver ball spin in the air in preparation for the next attack. “How about we see which of us is the better fighter?”

“Well, let’s see,” Efreet answered, not with a confident smirk, but with the face of someone who wasn’t in the mood to lecture an upstart child. “Let’s see if you can put me in a better mood.”

Censer allowed the motion of his weapon to carry him and, with a spin, sent his hammer up against Efreet just as the smoke in the surroundings lit up with fire.

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:28 pm
Operation site - West rooftop - Voidgrip

Voidgrip smirked as he leaned onto the edge of the rooftop, peering down into the battlefield from a covered position. From there, he could see everything in the battlefield as clearly as it could be thanks to the still working light-bulbs provided by the home team. Their determination to banish the darkness allowed him to see everything as clear as day.

He could spy onto the gangmembers as they took away their wounded back only to be replaced by fresh rested units, them taking aim and shooting at Schrodinger’s copies every now and then… but much less often than before the small interruption. Either their one man army finally decided to be cautious or did he just run out of juice to make copies…

Voidgrip congratulated himself on his judgment, knowing that the dragon lady would save him if he just threw Root at her. There he was, glimpsing the boy’s head over the cover, seemingly getting inspected by his handler with the organization. That the boy had managed to gain a job within the syndicate was laudable…

“However, that’s the last favor I do to you in the battlefield, boy.” he mused, doing his best mockery of the tough and gruff soldier Efreet pretended to be. “From now on, I won’t hold back. You’re but another soldier to me.”

He checked his time and frowned. It was now nine-thirty and he was already starting to get tired of the matter. With Efreet busy dealing with the other intruder, as shown by the fiery roars and the sheer destruction going on below him, it was up to him to take the reins of the situation.

And, at his behest, he now wanted to get things done.

Leaning on the rooftop rail, his elevated position allowed him to spot some of his pieces and situations they were in. The amount of Schrodingers engaged with the gang members had gone down drastically. Couldn’t be more than one or two taking shots at whoever peeked out of cover but, that the barrage of bullets had turned into an occasional trickle that was about.

At the north, Efreet’s warbeast was covertly moving about, ever closer to the entrance, seemingly preparing for the moment to jump in while, at the south, the crew of rookies and the personal experts in deleting the evidence from the data and mind, along with the wall phaser, were at about the same latitude, seemingly awaiting for the next chance they could get.

Vince said the mission was low priority… but Voidgrip was still willing to give it one final halfhearted try to get the bonus… After all, his part was just done through looking, all he needed was to give the rest the pathway. All he needed to do was to reach out with his telekinesis to cause some trouble. He could yell out the order to Schrodinger’s copies so they would throw grenades and he could nudge them in the right direction; He could try to rip off or shove the covers out of the way… or if he was feeling confident, he could try grabbing the tail of the large dragon woman and see if he could have her swung around like a wrecking ball.

He stepped forth and leaned closer onto the edge, carefully picking his target.

And then, darkness claimed the place out of the sudden.

All the lights in the surrounding area: the lamps around the courtyard and the concealed lights around the rooftops. They all suddenly had their power cut. Outside from a couple of flashlights on the field and the indirect glow coming from the inside of the main building… Just not enough for him to exert his telekinetic grab.

“I’m done…” A grin appeared on Voidgrip’s mouth. “That’s what they would think…” He laughed as he reached for the belt hidden under his coat, producing an object. The thought of using his binoculars crossed his minds… but he had something else in mind at the moment. “No doubt Root must’ve told them about me… but do they really think I don’t have my own solutions to their dumb problems?”

As far as he could tell, no one was moving and the fire had stopped, with the faded outlines of the gang members appearing to put special focus on the surroundings.

“Hey! Beast!” Voidgrip called out as loud as he could without compromising his throat in the rather cold weather. “You better be ready to move after the others!”

Pulling the pin off the object and, with as much strength as he could muster, he threw it up into the air.

And not long after lost in the darkness, the item made a quite impactful appearance. Exploding up in the air at the center of the courtyard with a loud bang of white light that banished the shadows in the surroundings, burning itself bright as it slowly descended to the ground. Custom-made phosphorous grenades that would give him great clarity for the next minutes or so.

The timing was chaotic, by accident.

When the light grenade went off, it just happened to catch Slipper, Diskette and Je ne se as they tried to walk alongside the walls in the hopes of going through the side of the building, near the main door. They were sitting ducks that were immediately noticed by some of the men, raising their guns their way.

Of course, Voidgrip had to facilitate the plan, so his powers grasped one of the gunman’s hands and yanked him over to the side and to the open. The same thing happened to the nearest ones as soon as they got over exposed. But that was obviously not all encompassing, especially as Schrodinger appeared to be taking a break from firing, trying to end the men… That’s what the beastman mercenary was there for. The sound of a gun being fired was hard to ignore. Heads turned northward towards the building just to get a look of a grenade that was flung into the air in their direction.

As the bomb approached the defenses, the deployed covers they used, suddenly shone with an odd energy that suddenly expanded in a bumper-style shockwave as the grenade touched the surface, sending it away.

“No wonder the thrown grenades weren’t working,” Voidgrip muttered as his telekinesis grabbed the grenade and drove it up against the defensive wall. Even as it charged with energy, trying to repel it again, it was failing to contend with the mutant’s own power.

In the end, the stalemate was broken by the explosion of it. So close to the already straining cover that it caused its power source to short circuit and join it in the shockwave burst, sending against the other covers for a domino of malfunctions as it appeared that the thing’s repelling shields just worked poorly when clashed against a similar wavelength or they happened to share the same power cell. One after another it was like a domino of disasters that sent gangmembers and the meddlesome mutant intruders tumbling back. With more than a few of those odd magical protections flaring out and flashing.

Once again, there was no sign of Schrodinger around… but judging by the sound of gunfire nearby spelled out that they were busy dealing with something or someone.

But, alas, the goal was completed. The team in charge of wiping the blackmailing got close enough to the entrance by the wall. Grabbing the wrists of both Diskette and Je ne se, Slipper’s powers got them to phase through the solid surface, getting them to disappear through, narrowly missing a bolt of magic.

Even though the home force managed to get a glimpse of them, Voidgrip felt no concern on the matter. If the Je ne se girl was so scared of what was going on, there was little doubt she would be using her powers to ensure the people outside forgot about them as right after.

“Checkmate.” Voidgrip said, stepping away from the edge of the roof, leaning back against the wall.

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:32 pm
Operation site - Courtyard, a couple of steps away from the entrance - Lifeward

A grunt escaped Lifeward’s lips as she tried to pull herself out from under the rubble of the exploded covers. Once this was done, she would have a talk with Junkerer about his creations malfunctioning to this level when subjected to an actual stress test. The explosion shorted out the energy pack and sent each of the pieces back against the other, releasing mini shockwaves that the shield couldn’t handle, toppling them onto the other.

Fortunately, it could’ve been a more costly outcome. Most of the gangmembers that were caught in the explosion were thrown back or to the side, with their bodies still bearing the fizzling magic that signaled her protection and spared them from death. If anything, she was the most harmed one as she felt a nasty gash on the side of her thigh. Fortunately, nothing that her regenerative factor wouldn’t fix.

“Get up and tend to the wounded…” she ordered looking around. Some of the men appeared out cold, among which was Dragonite who put her body up against one of the covers to divert its explosion. And yet there appeared to be something off. “Where is Declan? Where’s your boss?” she asked, grunting as she felt the muscles and ligaments of her legs mend themselves just well enough to allow her to stand.

“Don’t know…” one of the men near her answered, this one had been lucky to end up protected under the curvature of one of the covers. “He said he was going to deal with someone…”

“Where is he off to…” Lifeward said, turning towards the entrance’s direction. More specifically, to the side where her magical bolt had struck the wall. That was the part that puzzled her.

Why had she opened fire there? She recalled doing it right after the explosion went off. She was on the ground, injured, watching how many lives could be at risk out of cover and all she seemed to care back then was to use her mana on an offensive spell towards a spot on the wall. And she had no idea why.

“Something is wrong…” Lifeward thought about trying to search her memories and immediately came to the realization. “I don’t know… I forgot,” she muttered. An upsetting feeling.

Her eyes widened, seemingly at the realization of what this might be. She’d suddenly lost her memories. Something made her forget about what she was firing so close to the entrance. Was it some sort of device? It couldn’t have been… Was it magic? She had protective wards that would insulate her from it… It could’ve only been a mutant ability. A telepath. With the attack coming that close to the entrance…

Someone has already slipped in!

She turned around towards Root who was already getting up on his feet as he used his magic to regenerate the shield. “Root! I need you to get inside and check the hallway! Now!”

The rookie operative nodded as he took off towards the open entrance with a sprint. Moving up the couple of ample stairs and towards the door.

But he wasn’t alone on that. Out of the corner of her eyes, she caught a glimpse of a black figure climbing off the side of the wall and hit the ground running in an intercepting course towards Root. A combat knife on his hand glinted against the still shining phosphorous dregs in the air, about to raise it down onto his prey.

Root became aware of his presence just a moment too late. But, fortunately, Lifeward’s own bolt of magic came crashing against the beastman’s side, sending him up against the wall. That gave Root just about the opening he needed to run into the building and have Declan’s men close the iron partition behind.

There was no lock there, outside of manpower. Judging by the beastman’s speed and muscles, he had enough strength to beat the two men that were holding the door closed… but he recognized that just about a distraction would get him pelted by another magic bolt and, suddenly, the mission of stopping Root took less priority than facing the woman dressed in black and red walking around the crowd of knocked out people.

“What is a beastman like you doing here? Are you an animan or a mutant with a GSD?” she asked, loud and clear. Her hope was to keep his attention her way just so he would ignore or forget the knocked down gang members. One perk of working in this line of work was that, unless her mask cracked, few would actually expect the hostage tactic to work on her.

Still, the beastman didn’t answer. He just strode around, never losing sight of Lifeward, nor the snarl that was escaping his feline muzzle. One hand spun the knife while the other unsheathed its claws.

“This is gonna hurt,” Lifeward thought to herself. “But as long as it’s only me I’m fine with that.”

“Leave,” The beastman snarled. “Or surrender. Either choice works.”

“Is that so?” Lifeward said as she reached for the two weapons that were strapped to her back: two composite weapons that, when twisted and armed, became a pair of metal sticks.

A groan was heard on the side as Dragonite’s large body twitched. “Are you conscious? Good… I need you to fetch me the tablet from my bag.” She said, not checking behind, just assured that the dragon girl was pushing herself up.

Lifeward’s attention briefly drifted onto the side, reminding herself that they were still in the middle of a battle and that, not long ago, they’d been struggling in fending off unseen gunmen. Though by now, all of them appeared to have moved over to the side. The rifles and handguns still rang through the surroundings of the place, but this time they appeared focused up into the third floor of the northern building.

“No doubt you got this, Cole,” Lifeward reassured herself as she assumed a fighting stance, raising one of the billy clubs forth while holding the other one behind her back, inviting him to come forth.

The beastman took the bait and lunged forth.

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:33 pm
Operation site - North building, Second floor - Cole

The sound of gunfire was ever present and chaotic. Cole felt he was back in his days as a soldier, crossing the abandoned buildings in the middle east as bullets flew everywhere. His heart pumped a thrilling song as his legs carried him around as fast and best as could be from cover to cover as the shadows of the intruders tried to follow him through the environment.

He had no idea what was going on outside. The reports from the earpiece had been scattered and far in between, as they were seemingly dealing with other more present matters. The lights went suddenly dark, as was the plan to counter that guy’s psy powers but then, out of nowhere, the white light of a phosphorus grenade filled the air, followed by a large explosion that had the ground tremble under his feet.

And yet he had no chance to worry about it as he was still running through the offices, trying to find the proper angle to flank the targets.

He just happened to spot outlines of the copied gunmen talking amongst themselves, relying on their flashlights to deal with the dark and thus making for an easier spot. Cole hoped for the more covert option, taking them down one by one in the cover of darkness… or just jumping into them with the element of surprise…

But he was careless… or just unlucky as, in the middle of his walk, just halfway through the distance, the bright flash of the light from the phosphorus grenade filled the room through the windows. Suddenly, he was awkwardly exposed to the men who proceeded to open fire.

From there, Cole ran through the half-built hallways of the incomplete building, seeking for the better chance to turn the table on them, which was easier said than done given that he had little information as to how many he was up against. The headcount of the first encounter yielded about seven men but there were obviously more as some had made an appearance in his path.

Still, Cole saw the situation as a challenge, fighting with everything he’s got on the way around. Mini-explosives were thrown behind to cover his steps and the last of his throwing stars was used to land a head strike onto one of the soldiers ahead of him. But that was all he could score with them at this distance. He needed them to be within melee range at least with one to get the chance…

And said opportunity presented itself right after as, upon turning around the corner he was greeted by the barrel of a gun and a startled soldier. Cole, however, had the better reflexes, deftly moving his head under the line of sight as the trigger was pulled.

The stream of bullets came out wild and desperate but wouldn’t reach the specialist as he already had his hand wrapped around the barrel, forcing it up. And as he did, he noticed there were two more men on the scene, already preparing their weapons to shoot him. He needed to end the fight, so he quickly struck the man’s throat, sending him reeling back and, with the released gun, opened fire to the others.

One of them got killed by a headshot, immediately dissolving into light while the other received a hard barrage on the stomach, purposely aiming at the bulletproof vest so the man would be left without breath, sent up against the wall and sliding down.

“You…” He said to the man he just knocked over, holding the gun trailed their way, ready to open fire. “Tell me, is this your power? Is everyone in this building a manifested copy? Is the real one here with you?”

The copy tried to take a breath, wheezing loudly until he found his words. “You… you’ll get nothing from me,” he said with a defiant grin. “You can’t stop our might.”

Of course, Cole thought. There was probably little point in interrogating someone who was a disposable copy.

He was about to step back and finish the two copies when he suddenly felt an odd sizzling on his fingers through the gloves and then began to see it as the rifle on his hands started to turn into light before fizzling off existence… just like he’d seen copies of men.

The two knocked down men were laughing with the same animosity of someone who pulled off the dumbest prank, snapping him back to reality. He pulled out a combat knife from his belt and was ready to use it when lights came out from around the corners of the room, pointed at Cole. The copies had arrived and already had their weapons trained on him.

Cole slowly raised up his hands, with the knife hanging by the hilt on his fingers.

“You’re toast now.” One of them said. Under the light, he could confirm that they were indeed copies of one another.

“Wait a moment,” The copy that got shot in the stomach said as he pushed himself up, having now recovered his breath. “This man tried to interrogate me. How about we do the same? I’m sure Efreet or Voidgrip would appreciate-”

“Fuck that… He stole my gun!” The other man muttered.

“That’s your problem… Do you have any other thing you can use?” A third one said.

“No, I-” was as far the weaponless copy got as he was unceremoniously shot by the rifle until he disintegrated.

“Then, no objections,” A fourth copy surmised as the rest of the crew moved in, taking better aim at Cole. They appeared to be so confident, they didn’t even ask him to put down the knife.

“You’re the guy who’s been killing our copies, right?” One of the men said.

“So… who are you and who do you work for?”

“You can call me Cole…” Cole answered. “And, tonight, I work for my client, the person you’re trying to reach.”

“So a freelancer?” One of the copies said only to get shoved by the one to the side.

“He didn’t say he was a freelancer. He said he works for the client tonight?”

“He’s not answering,” Another one added.

“Hey,” Cole chimed in. “Maybe I would be more direct if I got an answer, right?” He waited a couple of moments, sizing their reaction… Fortunately, they seemed willing to listen. “Like, for example… Are you guys the same person? Don’t think I’ve ever dealt with someone who could copy themselves this much. How many of you are there? Two dozen?” According to the report, it was higher than that.

Still, the men gave themselves self-congratulatory laughs before one of them answered. “Hah we’re so much more capable of more… On a normal day, each of us can create five to eight copies.”

“Oh, that’s a lot…” Cole noted, idly swinging the combat knife on the tip of his finger. So far, none of them objected to it, probably expecting him to be unable to wipe them out.

“Isn’t it? And we’re getting better at it every year.”

“What about money? Can you duplicate the money in your wallet?”

A couple of the men laughed. “Sadly no… Anything we duplicate with ourselves ends up vanishing off our fingertips seconds after we drop it… Unless the version copying the original dies. Needless to say, we can’t make 10 bucks out 5 dollar bills.”

“Ah, that explains the guns.”

“Well, maybe someday, the boss can fix that.” One of the men said. Cole would’ve inquired further but, when a man told him to shush, he already knew that he wouldn’t get away with that intel.

“And what’s your name?”

“Our codename?” One of them said, once again drawing the smugness for the answer. “It’s Schrodinger… but don’t bother searching for it, it doesn't exist in the MCO database.”

“Out of the database…” Cole muttered. “Interesting…”

“Enough,” one of the men said. “We shouldn’t be entertaining him. We’re the ones with the guns!”

“If I may say something,” Cole said, by now the knife was spinning between his fingers. “Thanks for the talk and the opportunity. It’s not every day that I get to cut loose and not worry about killing anyone or having to do the cleanup after.” To that, he opened his hand to reveal a couple of pellets.

While heads were aimed towards one hand, the other swung the spinning blade down to the ground, sending it bouncing into the air, so close to the face of the nearest Schrodinger, sending him scrambling back.

The pellets hit the ground, immediately exploding out in a loud flash, releasing a cloud of densely packed non-toxic smoke into the air.

The men around were startled and at disarray from the sudden confusion, but they still pulled the trigger… just a second too late as Cole had already darted under and to the side, narrowly reading their reactions to avoid the stream, instead closing the distance with the nearest copy to the side.

A quick strike to the throat disabled him, just enough to allow Cole to pull him around into the line of fire. Their bodies might disintegrate into light when dealt with a killing blow… but the Kevlar vests on them would keep that from happening. With the bullets blocked, and the man stunned, Cole went down for the gun, making sure it was still in contact with the copy, and pulled the trigger in a swiping line that knocked the men after.

A copy to the side saw his chance and tried to shoot Cole. He answered by tossing the stunned copy onto him. Poor guy took enough bullets into the stomach to start to disintegrate.

Cole moved forth to grab the spinning knife in the second bounce and proceeded to jam it into the man’s throat without any reservations before he could even take aim, then moving onward to the next target.

His heart was beating with the thrill of the battlefield. A rhythm he’d gotten used to but didn’t love. One that had no joy but, just like a bitter old friend, was welcome to lend its support. With a knife in hand and the assurance that there would be no dead bodies when he was done, he ran through the crowd of confused men.

They could try to take a shot at the moving crowd but would either miss or discover they just shot down one of their allies. Only for Cole to be next to him, deal a killing blow. Stakes were high and taking in one wrong shot could be his last, so he returned the favor. There was no exchange of blows, no negotiation and no mercy.

He was living up to his reputation as a combat legend.

WA Break Small_Solid

Sunday, November 26th, 2016 - 9:39 pm
Operation site - Inside the corridor

Getting past the courtyard had been a much more doable task than could’ve been expected. After the first break up, the team of three people amidst the army of copies ventured through the surroundings. Slipper, capable of phasing through walls at the time, led them through, making the path and using his powers on the walls in their path. Diskette, the woman with the metal arm and cybernetic knowledge meant to delete the data. And then there was Je ne se, the girl whose only role there was to get people to forget about the evidence.

They weren’t the best of fighters, but the utilities team had to make it to the destination and handle everything. To that end, they somehow managed to slip closer to the foyer in the confusion and through the use of Slipper’s own warping skill, they phased through the wall just as that woman in the defender’s team casted something their way.

From there, they hoped things would go much smoother. After all, the moment they stepped in, Je ne se used her powers to erase her presence from those she felt still had them clear in their minds. Even though the foyer housed men that were just recovering after being pulled out of the fight, they were still armed and alert when they showed up out of nowhere.

Still, the concern would always be fleeting as, the moment the trio ran into the corridor, out of sight, once again the attention was cut through. That was one of the nuances of Je ne se… she couldn’t make people forget things as long as the thing they were forgetting about was just within their line of sight or earshot.

They carried on through the corridors, being constantly attentive of their surroundings but also feeling the relief at being there where they needed to be, without the risk of being chased after. Fortunately, the place wasn’t affected by the power cut, probably because they needed the electricity for the meeting, so there were no prodding paths in the dark.

“That was a good job,” Slipper told Je ne se as they moved on in, following Diskette, who was pointing a small device at the surroundings, scanning.

“Thanks…” Je ne se said, concerned. “Can we just get this over with? I want to go home.”

“As soon as Diskette’s scanner tells us where to go.”

“Give me one second!” Diskette hissed exasperated as they reached an intersection, carefully looking at both pathways choosing one. All while still fidgeting with her scanner, holding it up against the walls. “Damn it! What the hell? I’m trying to get an electric read but… There’s some odd interference.”

“Did your invention malfunction?” Slipper asked, unable to hide the snark of his voice.

“Quiet!” Diskette hissed. “It's not my fault. There’s something off about this place… maybe if I recalibrate the parameters. And… got it. Okay. I see where the energy is flowing… So glad that they got to put wiring in this side of the building.”

“I think someone is coming after us,” Je ne se urged.

“Alright,” Slipper said, rubbing his hands, building an odd sort of purple energy. “Just say where and hurry…”

“It’s… in that direction. The power lines are converging there to see some use.” Diskette said pointing at a wall. “Just go in that direction and we’ll eventually reach them.”

“On it!” Slipper pressed his hands in the pointed direction and leaned forth as if about to push and… nothing.

“Huh?” he blinked and tried to push up against the wall harder.

“Aw, are your powers malfunctioning?” Diskette teased.

“I can’t… I can’t phase through… My fingers tingle whenever I try push myself too hard…”

“Um… “Diskette chimed in. “Is that some sort of STD?”

“No! It’s…” Slipper muttered as he reached over to Je ne se, who was wearing an open hoodie. Before she could react and back away, the guy demonstrated his ability by having his hand slip through the garment and pull it out. “My powers still work.”

“So what does that mean?” Je ne se, asked pulling her coat away, having it seamlessly slipping off her teammate’s wrist.

“It means they did something to the wall. I can’t phase through.” Slipper said, pressing his charged hands up against the wall as if to prove an example.

“Then what are you even good for now!?” Diskette snapped.

“We're going to fail this mission, aren’t we?” Je ne se sighed.

“Not if we just brute force our way through!” Diskette snapped as she adjusted her arm, letting the chromed surface of her arm open up to reveal what resembled a sort of laser beam. She glared at Slipper. “I hope you have any combat aptitude outside of running away.”

“You’re on your own. Vince found me as a thief, not as a fighter.” Slipper snapped. “I should’ve gotten a gun for the occasion.”

“Well, too late. I’m the only gun we have now. So we better hurry before-”

“Get down!” Je ne se blurted as the other two team members heard the distinctive sound of a laser charging and immediately ducked down.

A beam of concentrated red energy came crashing against them, narrowly missing Diskette and Slipper, carving a line on the surface at the tune of a strange whirling shriek. The beam appeared to be coming in lower towards the group only for Diskette to raise up her metallic arm and deflect the energy of the beam upward until it stopped.

“What was that?!” Je ne se blurted out.

“That, Missy, is the last line of defense. Me,” A voice said from the end of the corridor. A man dressed from head to toe in what appeared to be an advanced crimson power suit, with a red gem being part of the chest whose glow just faded as the mounted arm cannon on his arm powered down. “Having a hard time phasing through solid walls like you usually would? That’s the Syndicate special treatment. Walls and floors are now unphazable and indestructible. You’re trapped, so surrender now and I won’t vaporize you.”

Slipper gasped as he tried to use his powers up against a different wall only to reaffirm his concerns. That his powers were useless.

“Vaporize us?” Diskette answered, moving about her cybernetic arm, making sure it worked perfectly. “Don’t get me wrong. That shot was very terribly menacing…It doesn’t feel like anything I can’t deal with.”

“Um… Diskette? I don’t think we should stay…” Slipper whispered. “If we make it through this maze, we can try to take the target hostage.”

“I’m not turning my back on this poser.”

“But…” Je ne se whimpered.

“It’s alright. Do you see this guy?” Diskette mused, pointing at the man in the power armor, who had been standing there for quite some time rather than raising the arm to deliver another threat. One couldn’t see his eyes because of the helmet, but they could see his mouth, which appeared to be mumbling something. “He’s a total poser. Look at that, this is probably the first time he’s wearing that, and he needs to stop to consult with the interface. He didn’t make that armor. Tech is my thing. If I can get to him, I can deactivate him. You two can go ahead.”

“We can’t go back,” Je ne se said, but no one heard.

“Fine… but be sure to catch up with us as soon as you can. We need to get rid of the digital footprint of the evidence. Come, Je ne se.” Slipper said, grabbing the girl’s wrist only to realize what their mind-wiper was going on about. At the other end of the hallway, stood a young man, looking quite battered and sweaty for the events of the night. He wasn’t exhausted but warmed up for what could come, with a long wooden stick on one hand and a shield on the other, both of which appeared to be growing as they were fed by an energy that exuded from his wrists.

“We have company.” Slipper muttered.

“Well. Do you want to change dance partners?” Diskette blurted out as she raised up her arm and fired in a laser towards the man in power armor, who pretty much did the same thing she did, raising his arm to let the beam be deflected up against the wall and answered with one of his own, forcing their tech specialist to raise her arm and produce a solid shield that absorbed the blast.

“Uh…” Was all Slipper could say at that display. With no follow up, he just looked at his opponents and raised his hands, letting them glow up with his warming abilities for a bluff… one that didn’t appear to have much of an effect on the boy with the wooden weapons. “I should’ve stayed back…”

“Me too…” Je ne se whimpered, her hand reaching to scratch the markings on her wrist.

 

To Be Continued
Read 1085 times Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2024 16:16

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