She wore a black suit.
Will walked down the hospital corridor towards her. Even without the suit, he would have easily recognized one of his father’s agents. By the time they were allowed onto the field they all always had the same look in their eye. It was cold and dark, but it wasn’t anger, or sadness, or pain; it just was.
“You are William.” It wasn’t a question. Will nodded anyway. “I have been told to offer you my services until you are satisfied or I am certain no more can be done for the girl’s health. I was told that I am to forget any information regarding her true identity or personal life the moment it is no longer relevant. I was also told that you would wish to accompany me into her mind. Is this true.”
“If you take me along, it won’t hurt the chances?”
The agent nodded.
“Then I’m going.” He continued walking towards the room. “And you can stop that. I’ve been told reading my mind gives people headaches.”
She followed him silently.
The smell of medicine and cleaner filled Will’s nose as they travelled further down the nearly empty hallways. The sound of heartrate monitors and praying mothers echoed out from each room he passed. He could hear the rest of the group waiting ahead. Each one of them had delved into their own nervous havit since he’d left.
Red was pacing. Of course, Red’s pacing involved going from one end of the corridor to the other in the time it took most others to walked ten steps. Every time he walked by a nurse or doctor making their rounds, they had to fight not to stumble.
Hawthorne was fiddling with her vest. Brambles and roots were constantly growing from and shrinking into the living armor. They never reached more than a few inches off her outfit, but it gave the impression of thousands of tiny hands grasping for a chance to escape their prison.
Allspades had started tapping the wall he was leaning up against. Each rhythmic motion of his fingers echoed along the corridor as if someone was using the wall as a punching bag. The nurses walking by shot him glares, but the rooms were sealed well and none of the patients were bothered.
Burnout was the most still, but he also seemed to be the most nervous. He had sat cross-legged on the floor and leaned up against the wall with his hands on his knees. His eyes were closed and he was taking deep slow breaths as a light blue aura shined from him. With each breath the brightness varied just a tiny bit.
Red slowed down to walk by Will. “Who-“
Will shook his head. “That’s not important. She can help.”
The glow around Burnout vanished and he opened a single eye. “Where did she come from?”
“And why is she wearing an Agent’s outfit?” Allspades asked. “Didn’t you beat a couple of them in a fight last week?”
Will ignored them. “I don’t know her name and none of you want to. She’s here because I traded a favor and I have a guarantee that she’ll do everything in her power to help Mach. You should all go home and get some rest.”
None of them moved when Will and the agent walked into the hospital room.
The agent brushed passed Will and moved towards the bed.
“I can only pull us in for an hour, and you’ll have to stay within sight of me.”
Will nodded. “Time differential?”
“4 to 1.”
“What’s your exit?”
She raised an eyebrow. “I’ll have a pair of mirrored sunglasses inside my jacket. If I put them on we’ll both come out. You’ve done this before.”
“Twice. It’s unpleasant.”
She placed a hand on Mach’s head and held the other out to him. “It doesn’t get better.”
Will grabbed her hand.
The noise was deafening, but there was nothing to here.
The agent immediately turned completely around; her eyes danced all around the city street.
Will closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Entering other minds cut out any physical power. The last time, Will could handle it relatively well, but for some reason the power loss was hitting him much harder in Mach’s mind.
After a moment he opened his eyes. Among the thousands of sounds a single clear voice broke through.
“The city is built on the souls of its founders. The buildings have memories. The streets are filled with the pain stamped into them day after day.”
He watched as the stone and pavement around them changed. Hundreds of thousands of mirrors stared down at him from every angle. He looked inside, and the man who stared back wasn’t him. Not anymore.
The agent tapped on his shoulder and he turned around.
She pointed to her mouth and tried to speak, but if the words left her mouth it was only to join the jumbled mess of sound around them.
Will shook his head. Sound wasn’t flowing the way it should.
She pointed to her eyes and gestured to the mirrors while shaking her head. Then she pointed at the sky.
Will followed her finger. The sky was made of liquid silver; it flowed around itself, waves and eddies forcing their way over and around each other. He glanced back at the agent and she pointed more insistently.
He focused more closely on the movements in the sky.
The eddies were more or less stationary; no matter how strong the wave, the swirling water always returned exactly where it started. The waves, similarly, never left their course, but oddly they never seemed to interrupt each other either.
The waves had a central source. Will followed their path backwards, but the building blocked his view.
Will looked at the agent and pointed towards the source of the waves. She nodded and beckoned him to follow her.
Will avoided looking into the mirrors. He didn’t want to remember what the city was trying to show him.
He noticed the agent in front of him hadn’t reacted to the city at all. Was there nothing for her to see? Maybe the city had never changed for her, or maybe the mirrors seemed to just leave her out of them.
A teenager in a hoodie with bandages covering his mouth walked parallel to Will. His eyes darted left and right, not searching but rather identifying what he already knew was there.
Will kept walking.
The teenager was gone. In his place was a man in his early twenties. His body was obscured by a long cloak and his face was hidden by a smoot jet black mask.
Will kept walking.
A broken man sat with his back to the wall and a bottle cradled in his arms. His face was hidden in his tattered jacket but his shoulder shook with silent sobs.
The agent waved her hand in front of his face.
Will didn’t know when he’d stopped walking.
She glared at him lightly and tapped her fist against the side of her head.
He needed to focus. Mach’s mind was trying to drive him out, and none of them could afford that.
Will looked up at the sky, they were close to the source, but it was still obscured by the buildings surrounding them.
He didn’t know how much time had passed since their arrival, but they couldn’t afford to waste any more time.
The agent started walking again and Will followed closely. He kept his eyes glued firmly to her back.
One step the city surrounded them. The next it was gone.
They were in an empty field, the source of the sky was right above them.
There were two people standing directly below it.