Will watched them split up and head for their targets. They couldn’t fight the sliders; even if they wanted to, none of them were in this world anymore. They were standing on the other end of the tear, each in their own world, pulling at it and cascading their own powers to forge Unimportant’s frequency. Once he was through, the frequency would be canceled out in this world and he wouldn’t have a target to lock onto and let him return.
If they wanted to stop it, they needed to overload it. Each slider had a limit on just how much they could take with them through a portal. They were sharing the burden, but if one of them failed the frequency would break and Unimportant would be able to get away.
The other heroes wouldn’t let them do that. They couldn’t risk it. If they were lucky, they might be able to get the portal halfway to overloading before they were stopped. They couldn’t win if they fought, and they and they couldn’t keep being heroes if they were seen. They needed a distraction and a miracle; Will could only give them one of those.
Of course, he couldn’t afford to be seen either. They knew his face, his name, where he lived, and, most importantly his power. If he tries to do anything big, any member of the council could pick up the signs of his power from half a city away. He had to find someone else, or he had to be clever.
There wasn’t anyone he could trust for this job and he didn’t have the time to be clever.
Will sat on the roof and closed his eyes. Hopefully, the kids would listen and not start until after he did, but they were on a time limit.
Will took a deep breath, and for the first time in years, allowed the world inside.
Hawthorne had to stop herself from turning around when she heard the first set of alarms. It sounded like every fire, car, or burglar alarm to the north was being set off simultaneously. She didn’t know how it was being done, but if this was Will’s distraction then it was working.
She was almost at the portal, and more than close enough to do her part. Hawthorne began scattering seeds into the wind. Each one was a time bomb of power that would quickly grow into as big a tree as it could before vanishing into the void.
She had barely started, and she was already feeling the strain. She didn’t know where her powers came from, most walkers didn’t, but she had her limits. If she’d kept in contact with the seeds, she could have grown a city block’s worth of redwood forest before she tired, but when she let them loose like this, she could never tell just how much it would take.
If she felt this drained normally, she would just stop, or at least rest for a few minutes, but for some reason, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She was wearing herself down further than she had since the first few years she had powers for someone she couldn’t remember. Every time she wondered if it would be enough, every time she thought she didn’t have anything left to give, she found herself reaching down and grabbing a bit more power, another scrap of energy she didn’t know she had.
The idea of stopping pained her, and she didn’t know why. It felt like every second she wasted meant she’d be losing something important, but there were no memories to link to the emotions. It was like finding out that her father threw out a stuffed animal from when she was a baby; it shouldn’t hurt, but it did anyway.
Burnout felt the flames wrapping around him. Compared to the others, his ability to throw anything into the hole was severely limited. There just wasn’t enough benefit to make throwing fireballs into the portal worth the effort.
If he needed too, Burnout could start tearing cars apart and tossing them in, but there was only so much damage he could do before he became more menace then hero. Luckily, Mach had had a better idea.
Burnout flew up, and then dove straight to the ground. The flmaes surrounding him grew hotter and glowed brighter and brighter blue until they were almost white. When he hit the street, it had already melted, leaving a hole nearly two dozen meters across for him to work with.
The tunnels he emerged in had been sewers once, before they’d started using water free waste disposal. Nowadays they’d been mostly filled in with enough silt and trash from river flooding that they had barely half the space they used to. And twice the odor.
Burnout was caught between complaining to Mach over the comm and remembering just how little he wanted to open his mouth down here.
Burnout closed his eyes and began focusing on his flames. He held out his hands and a lance of fire shot out, cutting the once sewer line straight through.
He wished he could do more, but he couldn’t move the kind of mass needed to shut the portal. His part of this job would be over when he made the second cut.
After that, he was a lookout. It was an easy task, one his old self would have loved. But now, he wanted nothing more than to do something, anything that could actually help.
Allspades grabbed hold of the sewer line and pulled. He did what he could to avoid breaking it. The less pieces it was in, the easier it would be to put it back when he was done.
It felt like his arms were trying to pull themselves out of their sockets and his nearly indestructible skin was stretching uncomfortably on his fingers. His feet began digging into the street, creating furrows as they inevitably dragged back to their starting point each time he tried to take a step.
He hadn’t tried to lift something this big since he’d been in training, and back then he’d nearly crushed himself when he found out he couldn’t’. He knew he was stronger now, but he’d always been afraid of lifting something this heavy; he’d always been afraid of finding out where the line was. Sooner or later he’d lift something, and physics would win out over his powers.
It wasn’t happening today.
A strength he didn’t believe he really had began building up within him. He felt his teeth grinding together and couldn’t control the sounds of exertion forcing themselves from his chest as the massive pipeline began to move. The sounds of it scraping against the edge of the hole in the road as he dragged it through quickly drowned out any other sound.
Allspades lifted the sewer line over his head.And began dragging it to the portal. The pipe would have to stay; the street wouldn’t repair itself if its foundation was gone, but everything inside was fair game.
Each step he took left another crater in the street, and the far end of the pipe dragging along behind hi wiped it straight out.
He set the open end near the entrance the portal and walked around to the other side. If Mach was right then a good whack could send most of its contents straight through, and hopefully onto whoever was trying to kill their friend.
A small smile wormed its way onto his face and Allspades rammed his fist into the capped end of the pipe.
Red Racer ran with everything he had. The wind that normally whipped around him was even fiercer and stronger than ever. He didn’t’ run straight to the portal; instead he charged up and down the city streets going faster and faster as he snaked his way across half the city.
It was the fastest he’d ever run. He could feel a strain on his legs unlike anything he’d ever experienced since he’d been struck by the machine. His heart was pounding faster and faster and his lungs burned with a need for air that he didn’t know he could feel anymore.
And he still ran faster.
Behind him, dirt and dust and trach was being sucked into his wake. The long snake-like trail followed him as much out of its own momentum as by his will.
And still he ran faster
It wasn’t enough. It couldn’t be enough until the gateway was already closed and his friend was back where everyone would be able to remember again.
And so he ran faster.
The air he breathed burned coldly in his lungs. His throat, itchy and burning and dry, begged him to slow down.
The trail had grown thicker and longer.
Red Raver ran straight for the gateway, chased by the snake god of dirt and trash.
Red Racer slide to the gorund and covered his head. The trail in his wake sped abover him charging its own way the last few feet into the gateway.
The glowing tear in space and time shuddered.