Chapter 61: Storming Castle Frankenstein

Mach watched as color drained from the world, touched only by red on the edges of her vision.

Mach watched as the giant slowly floated towards her.

Mach watched her one usable arm try to reach her backpack for the only weapon she might have left.

Mach watched as Frankenstein lifted his arm and pointed all five fingers at her.

Mach closed her eyes.

Half a block away, Burnout watched as Frankenstein fired into the hole.

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The flames propelling Burnout grew brighter and louder and he blasted towards Frankenstein.

Hawthorne and Allspades were right behind him, each charging as fast as they could down the street.

Red Racer was faster.

Hawthorne shouted after him, but the sound wouldn’t reach him until he was too far gone.

Like most runners, Red’s power had a built in failsafe to prevent him from hurting himself if he ran into a wall. Unlike most runners, Red’s safeguard didn’t necessarily protect anyone he ran into.

Frankenstein had been hit by things going much faster and people much larger and stronger than Red. He’d stood up from all of them, and most never got a second chance to knock him down. If almost any situation, nothing the size and speed of Red could possibly harm him.

The few times Red had been in an actual fight, he’d been doing his best to trip up his opponents. At worst, he’d throw a few punches, and his opponents would end up flying away before he actually connected. Red didn’t quite understand what happened, all he knew was that he could hit somebody without hurting them. But he also understood that he didn’t have to.

A good hundred feet from Frankenstein, Red left the ground. But even without purchase, he kept accelerating.

Frankenstein turned towards the threat, but before he could register the approaching hero, Red Racer hit him shoulder first.

Even as far as they were, Hawthorne and the others felt the vertigo she had come to associate with Red’s powers. They all felt themselves being pulled towards the two in the distance.

Frankenstein’s internal engines fired to life, trying to counter the impact of Red Racer’s small frame.

Then the wave hit. The miniscule space still between the two was filled with an onrush of energy and force. Warnings appeared before Frankenstein’s eyes, but before he could comprehend their presence, every engine working against Red Racer was simultaneously overloaded and he was launched away from Red and straight into the building he had thrown Mach into just minutes before.

Red was shot backwards, at a much slower speed, towards the ground. He felt a drain on his body that his powers had never caused before. He felt his eyes closing, like someone was gently massaging them closed. Just before he hit the ground, he slowed down dramatically, as is someone had caught him, and he was gently set on the ground.

The others ran straight for his down body.

Hawthorne slid to a stop next to him.

A light sigh escaped her chest. “He’s fine. Allspades, can you get him somewhere safe? We don’t know how long-“

A low rumbling came from the building.

Allspades quickly tossed Red Racer on his shoulder and leapt down the block.

Burnout and Hawthorne turned towards the second hole in the building.

Burnout looked sideways at Hawthorne. “We need to make sure. Once they get here the whole neighborhood’s gonna be a warzone.”

Hawthorne nodded and the two darted towards the now much larger hole in the street. She dropped a few seeds near its edge and thick vines began to grow along and down the hole.

Burnout hopped down while she worked and sent small balls of fire dancing along the tunnel below.

Hawthorne slid down a vine next to him. “Even if he missed, she can’t be far. Let’s split up.”

A primal roar rang out from the streets above.

The two turned their backs on each other and slowly began to work their way through the tunnel. The rubble had been thrown everywhere by the blast, and it lay in piles all along the path.

Burnout carefully inspected each pile of rubble, looking for the barest glint of metal, or a hint of blood.

Above them, a gust of sound resounded through the street and air began rushing into the tunnels.

“Slipstream’s here!” He shouted towards Hawthorne. “We have to move fast!”

He didn’t hear her respond, but she knew what they were getting into.

He moved faster, bouncing from one pile of rubble to the next, praying that he would find even the barest hint of her presence

“Burnout!”

He heard a shout from behind him, barely audible over the rushing winds. He quickly turned and saw Hawthorne and waving her arms.

She cupped her hands to her mouth and shouted again, but he couldn’t hear anything.

Jets of flame sprouted from his back and feet and he flew towards her.

She saw him coming and turned towards a rubble pile. She began to toss the rocks and debris away from the pile, revealing the cracked faceplate of their friend.

He landed by the two and quickly began to help uncover Mach’s body.

“Is she?”

“I don’t know. I can’t tell if she’s breathing through the suit.” Hawthorne spoke quickly and forcefully.

The two lifted her out of the rubble, both doing their best to ignore the sight of her twisted and bent arm.

They moved her towards the hole when the wind stopped.

“That’s a good thing, right?” Burnout managed to force out.

A small figure fell into the hole in front of them, followed by the broken pieces of a spear.

They felt Mach stirring between the two of them.

She opened her eyes slowly, feeling herself being carried away from where she had landed.

Her vision was blurry, but she could see Burnout and Hawthorne staring at something on the ground in front of them.

She tried to focus on it, and as her vision became crisper, she gasped.

“Is that-?”

Slipstream wasn’t out for the count yet, but he was obviously having trouble getting back to his feet.  A low rumbling from above told them that the fight was still going. He glanced at the broken pieces of his spear and they heard him grumbling a curse beneath his breath.

The engines dotting his outfit began to shift around; some dropped off completely and others rearranged themselves until they were more or less even spread around his body once again.

Without even glancing in their direction, Slipstream flew out of the hole and back into the fight.

Hawthorne stared at the hole in the ceiling. “Should we risk it or should we stay down here?”

Behind them the street above shook violently.

Hawthorne and Burnout quickly dragged her towards the hole. Most of Hawthorne’s vines had been knocked loose or cut down, but there were enough left for her and Mach to get a lift out onto the streets above.

Neither of them noticed Mach staring at the spear and engines dotting the ground where Slipstream had left them.

Information began to flood Mach’s brain.

“Wait.”

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