Chapter 20: Front

Hawthorne stared down at the warehouse across the street. “Mach, do you see anything?”

Mach’s fingers twitched and a series of whirs sounded from her helmet. “The warehouse is too distant for accurate heat or X-Ray readings. However, I have not detected any movement on the perimeter, nor through the accessible windows.”

“Not good enough,” Hawthorne said. She scanned the rest of the group. “Allspades, those secret agents of yours didn’t happen to train you to sneak into a place like this, did they?”

Allspades shook his head. “Not without a disguise and enough intel to pass as a guard.”

Hawthorne grimaced under her helmet. (‘And there’s no guarantee Unimportant can keep a hold on his powers long enough to get in and out. That just leaves-‘). “Red, can you get in and out fast enough to make sure no one sees you?”

Red Racer’s face twisted in thought. “Maybe-be…I can at least go fast enough that they aren’t sure if they’re just seeing things-ings.”

“Mach, keep an eye out. Allspades, Burnout, you’re on standby, if it looks like they might see him, make a lot of noise. Red, if you think they’ve figured out you’re there, get out fast, got it?”

Red Racer nodded. Allspades and Burnout leapt off the roof to opposite sides of the warehouse, and Mach backed up a few steps.

“You might feel a little strange-ange.”

A bizarre sense of vertigo drove Hawthorne and Unimportant to tightly grab the edge of the roof. Red Racer shot between them down the side of the building across the street and into the warehouse.

“are you sure I should not be going?” Unimportant asked.

“I nearly saw your face three times on the trip over here, and your still fluctuating. I’m not risking you getting shot again because I sent you in there like that. If anyone else knew even half as much about these guys then I’d have sent you packing.”

“Very well.”

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Red circled the warehouse a few times to find and entrance he could go through without slowing down. There was an open window just below the roof, barely big enough for him to slip through without issue. With a force of will he raced up the side of the building, and forced himself forwards into a summersault through the open window.

There were a few milliseconds where he had slowed down just enough to be more than a blur, but no one was in sight as he planted his foot on the inside wall of the warehouse and rocketed down to the floor.

Red zipped around the base, checking each open container and trying to keep track of how many were empty.

He was almost finished when a man stepped out into the aisle with a gun levelled at him.

But to him, the man was moving in slow motion. With a grin he dropped back and slid into the man’s leg. The man toppled forward over his smaller body and landed face first on the ground. His gun slammed into the ground.

Red Racer grimaced at the noise of a gunshot going off less than a foot from his head. He forced himself to plant a foot and come to a stop before he ran face first into a wall.

He looked back at the downed guard and grinned. “And heeee’s safe-fe!”

He turned to check down the next aisles but three more guards came out from the center of the warehouse, each with fully automatic weapons. At the same time a burst of light shined through the window on the far side of the warehouse and a loud crash echoed through the wall next to him. The guards looked both ways and Red saw his chance.

“Time to go-go.”

He raced toward the front of the warehouse and ran along the wall to the door. (‘If Unimportant was right then…’). He grinned and slammed the bar lock up and out of position.  A small circle sent him out of the warehouse and back onto the street.

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A gunshot echoed through the wall of the warehouse. Burnout grimaced and focused. A torrent of flames roared up and shone high over the roof of the warehouse.

“Kid better not’ve gotten himself shot. Need to get in there quick.”

With a grunt he threw his arms forward and sent the flames into the side of the warehouse, focusing them into a smaller and smaller area until the wall in front of him began to melt.

“Walls’re thin. I need to make sure I stop on time.”

A flash of light erupted behind his eyes and he fell to a knee. Without thinking about it, he cut off the flames, leaving a large hole in the side of the warehouse.

Burnout panted heavily and stared at his work. “What…the hell…was that?”

He quickly shook his head and forced the thought to the back of his mind.

He ran into the warehouse at the same time as he heard the main door open. He let himself relax a little and slowed down his charge.

He heard at least two voices trying to be quiet and he ducked to the side, hiding behind the closest aisle.

Just then the sound of wrenching metal screeched across the warehouse.

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Allspades dug his fingers into the dented wall and began to pull it apart. He slowly peeled away the wall until there was finally a hole big enough for him to fit through.

A grin slowly formed on his face as he stalked into the warehouse.

He heard a few voices across the warehouse. He slowly pulled his fist back and slammed it into the nearest container, sending a loud metallic thud resounding across the building.

“Wakey wakey!” He shouted. He continued to walk straight down the aisle. A single head popped out from the end of the aisle before ducking back out of sight.

His grin only grew wider as the tip of a gun poked around the corner and began to fire blindly in his direction.

He forcefully suppressed a few grunts as the bullets bounced off his chest. The pain was nothing new.

He began to pick up speed and soon he was charging down the aisle.

Allspades gripped the barrel of the gun and forced it up and over the shooter’s head. The shooter’s grip didn’t loosen and he was forced back onto the floor.

Allspades quickly jabbed at the man’s shoulder, feeling the clavicle break under his fist. The shooter screamed beneath him as he stood back up.

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Red Racer stopped when he reached the roof where the others waited. He bent over and gripped his knees, gulping air.

Hawthorne quickly ran up to him and began checking him over. “Were you hit?”

Red shook his head. “The gun when off when I tripped him-im. Sharp turns just wear me out-ut.”

Hawthorne release a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “That’s good. How many were there?”

“At least three-ee, plus the guy I tripped­­-pped.”

“Mach, make sure they’re okay.”

Mach nodded and leapt from the roof. Her rockets switched on just soon enough to slow her fall before she landed in a crouch on the street.

Hawthorne turned back to see Unimportant moving closer to Red. It might have been hopeful thinking, but his power seemed more stable for now.

“How many were empty?”

“A lot-ot. I didn’t see the last two rows-ows, but at least a quarter of the first three were empty-ty.”

Hawthorne looked to Unimportant. “How bad is that?”

The warehouse across the street glowed.

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Mach charged through the open warehouse door and scanned the room.

One soldier was firing down an aisle, and Burnout was taking care of another.

The third guard was staring her down, and bringing his weapon to bear. She quickly reached behind her and a small baton slid out of her pack and into her hand.

Her charge didn’t slow as she whipped the baton up at the gun, sending the guard’s shots over her head. Just past the guard she dug her heel into the ground, gouging out the concrete floor beneath her.

Mach spun in place and swung the baton at the guard’s side. With a flick of a switch near her thumb, she sent the current into his skin and he fell to the ground convulsing.

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Burnout stayed as quiet as he could. He heard at least one of the guards running toward the sound of Allspades’s entrance and quickly darted toward the center of the warehouse.

He slowed down as he reached the end of the aisle. He took a deep breath and carefully peeked around the corner.

One of the guards was working his way down, checking each aisle as he went.

Burnout realized he only had a few minutes before he was seen. He focused on the palm of his left hand, creating a small flame as dim as he could. A navy glow radiated off the layer of fire.

(‘Four, three, two, one…’)

He whipped around the corner and ran straight at the guard. The guard turned at the sound, but he was already on top of him.

Burnout gripped the gun barrel tightly and turned the flame on his hand up as hot as he could.

With the gun barrel sealed, Burnout sent a wave of flame out from his whole body. The guard screamed and fell back quickly patting at his clothes.

Burnout turned back towards the center of the warehouse and ran towards the sound of gunfire.

Pain stabbed behind his eyes once more and he fell forward, clutching his head. An orb of fire began to leak off of him, spinning rapidly.

The other’s approached the flame slowly.

Allspades tried to get closer but Mach held up a hand to stop him.

“We do not know the temperature of the flame. It could very easily be enough to injure either of us.”

“Then what are we supposed to do?”

Mach walked over to one of the open containers and grabbed the empty cardboard boxes that had been left behind.

She returned to Allspades and began to toss them in bulk onto the flaming sphere.

Allspades glared at her. “And what is that-“

An alarm rang out and the sprinklers overhead began to pour water down over the warehouse.

Jack’s glare turned sour as his clothes began to soak through. “Really?”

Mach stared at him in shock, but refrained from saying anything.

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The rest of the group ran into the warehouse as Burnout managed to haul himself off the floor.

“What happened?” Hawthorne stared at the circle of darkened concrete around Burnout in concern.

Burnout held up a hand and tried to catch his breath. “Power….surged. Not sure why.”

Hawthorne studied the other manip closely. “Are you sure you’re up for this? If you need to leave-.”

“I’m fine. I just need to catch my breath.”

Mach stepped between the two. “Now is not the time for this. What did Red Racer discover before he was found.”

Hawthorne frowned. “A lot of the drug is missing. I was asking Unimportant about it when we saw the place light up.” She turned to Unimportant. “So?”

Unimportant began counting off on his fingers. “Bad…each held enough for a hundred doses…that much could cover a city block for half an hour…or fill a sealed building for half a night. We need to find out where they’re going…now.”

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