Month: August 2016

Chapter 107: Four of a Kind

Allspades’s scream echoed in the distorted space. Even as loud as it must have been, when it reached Unimportant’s ears it was hollow and lifeless, as if it had echoed one more time than he should have been able to hear before it reached his ears. He didn’t know if that made it better or worse than if he heard it in the real world.

He’d tried to get close to Trump more than once, but he couldn’t reach him. The barrier that had kept him from the Ambrosia was back. At first, he’d was forced to stay a few dozen steps from Trump. He’d gotten closer since, but he still hadn’t been able to get close enough to hit him with the stun baton.

He’d had time before. For all the damage Trump could do, he’d mostly been stuck on the defensive. As far and as hard as he could throw the others, none of them had been hurt too badly. Now, he’d figured out how to hurt them for real with his new powers.

As if he could read Unimportant’s mind, Trump started to laugh. It was quiet, but even with the muted sound of the Between, his laughter seemed to overtake all other sounds.

The barrier fell back a few feet, and Unimportant got a little closer. Trump paused. He didn’t turn to look at Unimportant, but his head cocked to the side like he’d heard something in the distance. Unimportant froze, but Trump started walking towards Allspades. He was saying something, but Unimportant tuned him out.

Six feet. That was the limit of how close he could get, and if he got any closer Trump would probably figure out he was there.

“perfect…just perfect”

It was still too far to hit him with the baton. Unimportant pulled his backpack off and dug inside. He gently moved the chloroform to the side. His bolt cutters weren’t any help either. Rag, water, zip ties, alarm clock, duct tape, flashlight, cell phone-

Duct tape. He could work with duct tape.

Unimportant pulled out his stun-baton and flipped it open. The switch to turn it on wasn’t supposed to stay on if he let go of it.  Copious amounts of duct tape fixed that.

Unimportant gripped the handle and turned towards Trump. Six feet. Missing this would be the worst way to fail to save the city.

Unimportant drew back and tossed the baton at Trump’s back. It spun in the air. He could hear the way its echo changed the moment it switched from in the Between to the real world; it was the same time that Trump stopped talking.

Trump whipped around with his hand already raising. But it was too late.

The baton slammed into him. The scream that filled the Between this time was much more pleasant.

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Trump was hit.

Allspades couldn’t move his arm, and he’d resorted to chewing his cheek to keep from screaming. There was blood flowing into his mouth but he barley noticed.

This might be the only chance he gets.

What little of the glow he could still muster gathered at his feet and launched him forward. He wouldn’t be able to get his feet under him for a second leap, but he didn’t have the strength for a second lunge.

The glow shifted to his good shoulder. For a moment, he looked at Trump through the light of the glow and he saw something dark and shining crawling over him. Then he slammed into Trump.

Both of them hit the ground. Allsapdes rolled over and off of Trump. His second bounce landed on his bad shoulder and his vision went white.

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Trump was down, but not out.

Burnout dropped from the sky and planted a knee in his back. It was a heavy blow, but damage wasn’t the point.

Burnout’s armor melted off of him and molded to Trump’s prone form, forming bands around his limbs. The bindings bolted Trump to the floor, but they’d only be able to last as long as Burnout could stay near Trump.

Trump had recovered enough to struggle.

Burnout dug his knee into Trump’s spine and gripped the bands closest tho Turmp’s shoulders.

“Get. Off!”

Trump couldn’t focus the blast enough to do damage, but Burnout still felt himself being lifted off of his back. His grip on the bands held firm, but his legs lifted off the ground until they were pointing straight into the sky.

Trump gave another cry and Burnout’s grip wore out. He was launched into the sky and the bands disappeared.

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Burnout was out of the way.

All of the roots Hawthorne had grown throughout the battle burst from the ground beneath Trump.  Trump had managed to break her connection to them when he hit them earlier, but she’d found what was left beneath the ground. They wrapped around him, twisting and knotting themselves until he was completely immobilized.

The buildings around the cocoon started to shake.

One of the roots began to rapidly sprout flowers. A thick musky overly sweet scent filled the air, but it would be a hundred times stronger in the cocoon.

The buildings grew quieter and the ground stopped vibrating.

Hawthorne limped to the cocoon. What little reserve of power she’d built up after the zeppelin was gone and her outfit stopped helping her walk. Her leg collapsed beneath her.

Unimportant caught her. He wrapper her arm around his shoulder and helped her keep walking.

Burnout slowly approached from above. He couldn’t fly any more, but he’d gotten enough lift to keep from crashing into the ground. He had to land on all fours, but he was able to get to his feet and join them on her other side.

Allspades came around the far side of the cocoon. His right arm hung limply at his side, and there was a long strip torn from the bottom of his shirt. He’d stuffed it in the hole in his shoulder to stop the bleeding.

The four of them stared at the cocoon.

People began wandering out of the buildings. A few stared at the cocoon, but most looked up and down the street.

There was a small figure in red and white at the far end of the street, but the crowd passed between him and Hawthorne and he was gone by the time they were gone.

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Chapter 106: Beneath the Surface

Will snapped his fingers and the man went flying into the wall.

Will had been worried that the mercenary Allspades and Unimportant had captured was more loyal to, or afraid of, Trump than he’d be able to work through. Apparently, being stuck in a trunk for a couple of hours wasn’t enough to get him talking, but it looked like he’d reached his limit.

“Where’s your mage? No one could do this if they weren’t in the city.”

“We hired an earth mover to dig some tunnels near the center of the city. The mage is meditating in the center of them. They’re under the-”

“I know.”

Will gripped the man’s shirt and pulled him to his feet.

“You have ten minutes to get out of my sight.”

He didn’t waste any time in running down the block. Will watched him until he turned the corner. He wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon.

The key was still in the jeep.

Five minutes.

It would take Will at least five minutes to reach the tunnels. And then they’d have all the heroes they needed to take down Trump.

They would be able to hold out that long.

They had to be able to hold out that long.

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Trump’s focus was on Hawthorne. She’d dug her staff into the ground and was trying to hold onto it, but Allspades could see her grip slipping.

Allspades decided to try one of her tricks. He grabbed as much of the glow as he could and shoved it into the ground.

He could feel it digging, but without being able to see it, he could only guess at how close to Trump he’d gotten.

He glanced at Hawthorne just in time to see her lose her grip on her staff and fly backwards. Trump’s head slowly swiveled towards him. He had to be closer enough.

The glow erupted from the ground a few feet behind Trump. His eyes had time to widen slightly before it slammed into this back and sent him into Allspades’s outstretched arm. There was a satisfying gasp of air that was quickly covered up by the wind rushing past Allsapades as he was thrown straight up into the air

As he rose above the battleground, Allspades got his first breath of fresh air since the fight ahd started. The dust cleared from his lungs, but the clean air let him feel the way the dirt and sweat had coated him like a second layer of skin. He flexed his fingers and felt it cracking.

At the peak of his flight, Allspades flipped over. The area around their fight looked ready to collapse. The foundations of the buildings Trump had thrown were half flooded from the broken pipes; the ground around them was quickly turning to swamp. The buildings that were still standing weren’t much better. Trump had thrown the three of them into them hard enough that A few of them were starting to tilt. Broken glass littered the street and the ground at Trumps feet was constantly swirling with dust.

Burnout was on the offensive again. He had gotten close enough to singe Turmp’s shirt with his sword, but he couldn’t hold out against Trup’s push long enough to do more damage.

Hawhtorne was back on her feet, but it didn’t look like she could take much more of this. Trump’s attention was already on her; he wasn’t going to let her get close enough to her staff to reist his push again.

Allspades’s fist tightened. The glow spread out behind him. There was nothing for it to push off of, but he felt his course change just enough.

Allspades dove headfirst to the ground, with his arms at his side and his legs straight behind him. The glow receded to the very edge of his skin, and he shot straight for Trump.

Trump had just raised his hand towards Hawthorne when he paused and looked up at Allspades. He tried to change targets, but wasn’t fast enough to stop Allspades’s descent.

For the second time in as many minutes, Allspades hit Trump, ramming him with his shoulder. This time, the two of them slammed into the ground together. Trump only bounced once, but Allspades kept going, skipping along the street like a rock in the water until he slammed into the next building.

More dust fell on top of him. It filled his lungs and made it impossible to breath without his lungs trying to turn themselves inside out to force the dirt out. He pulled himself to his feet, hacking all the way.

He stumbled his way out of the building. Trump was still on the ground, but Hawthorne and Burnout were nowhere to be seen. The sun was glaring at him; bouncing off the shattered glass and making it impossible to keep his eyes focused on Trump.

There was a brief movement from Trump on the floor.

“Let’s try something new.”

The back of Allspades’s shoulder exploded. A marble sized glob of blood shot out from it and slammed into the wall behind him. Then the pain came.

Allspades screamed.

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They had all left.  The ground wasn’t shaking as much and enough of them thought they’d be safer at home that nobody was willing to stay. He’d stayed quiet the whole time. None of them had even looked for the kid pretending to be a hero.

Red Racer skittered out from the space between the shelves. The guns had found him there. He had to keep moving; It was the only way to avoid the guns.

He watched his feet slowly take one step after the other. He didn’t know where he was going, but there was a strange comfort in knowing that he was still moving.

He felt the guns fading to the back of his mind, but they stayed there like an that lived beneath his skin so he couldn’t scratch it.

And then he heard the scream.

The guns were right behind him.

He ran.

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Chapter 105: Taking Action

They hadn’t screamed the second time. They thought that if they stayed quiet, they could avoid the end of the world.

He ground his teeth. The silence in between the shockwaves was almost as bad as the shockwaves were. At first, it had lasted long enough that the guns would go away before the next one hit, but now they stayed, a constant reminder.

People were dying outside. Even if he they weren’t screaming, even if he couldn’t see their bodies, he knew that they were dead. There was too much noise, too much destruction.

If something as quiet as a bullet could kill somebody, something as loud as this must be killing thousands.

His legs tingled and itched with a need to move, but he ignored it. If he was too slow to save one person, there was no way he could save anyone.

He wasn’t fast enough.

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He wasn’t fast enough.

After dropping the others off, Will had taken the copter back to the Council’s HQ. He’d come in too fast and half crashed it on the front lawn, but it had been for nothing; none of the walkers there could fight something like this, and none of them would be any help evacuating the battlefield.

They needed a runner. Actually, they needed four or five runners, and that probably wouldn’t be enough.

There were too many civilians in the buildings around the fight. A lot of innocents had probably already died when the first two buildings collapsed.

For the second time in a few months, Will broke down a list of walkers in a class and tried to figure out who might be able to help.

It didn’t look good. A lot of them were dead, he couldn’t get in touch with the ones out of town, even if they could make it in time, and he’d confirmed a lot of the rest were asleep. Anyone he might have missed would have been out doing something already if they could.

There was only one runner Will knew was awake, and he couldn’t help either.

There was a tingling in his fingers, it was familiar in a way he couldn’t quite grasp. He pushed the feeling away. He had to focus on the problem at hand, and that meant finding someone who could get enough people out of that building. Which meant he needed to wake them up.

The mercenaries had pulled away from the HQ, taking their unconscious allies with them. Given an hour, he could track a jeep down and force them to tell him who had cast the spell.

But there was one lead he hadn’t had time to follow up.

On the scale of walkers, Will wasn’t very fast. Most walkers who put some thought into how to move fast could figure out a way to outrun him. But today he pulled out everything he could.

The warehouse where they’d left the jeep wasn’t far, but he wasted precious minutes getting there. He just hoped that the kids could last long enough for it to matter.

There was a muffled banging from the trunk.

Will quickly popped it open and caught the flailing fist of the man within.

“We need to talk.”

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They weren’t going to last much longer.

Hawthorne wasn’t sure if the others had noticed, but she was far enough back that it was impossible not to.

They hadn’t gotten a single good hit in the entire fight. Every time one of the others got close enough to score a hit, Trump managed to push them away. Her plants were being shredded as soon as they grew. She’d tried growing them directly beneath him, and he’d shattered the entire street around them before they got close.

Worse than that was the buildings. Trump’s attacks were reckless, shot-gunning bits of metal fast enough that she could spot perfect holes bored into the buildings closest to them.

She was running out of seeds too. Other than a few altered ones, she only had her staff left. She had barely used her staff since Asclepius’ attack. It hit hard, but she’d figured out how to incapacitate her opponents without bashing them over the head.

She pulled the seed out anyway. The staff might actually be tough enough to avoid being shredded by Trump’s attack.

Burnout was charging again. Apparently he couldn’t use any range attacks and keep his armor up at the same time, and he couldn’t survive Trump’s attacks without it.

Now might be her best chance. The roots around her legs moved for her. It still hurt but less than running on her own would.

Burnout couldn’t hold out against the push any longer. He was sent flying backwards and had to scramble to avoid running into a building.

Allspades was still nowhere to be seen, so Trump’s focus switched to her. There was brief pause before she felt the push.

She took the chance and swung her staff, willing it to grow as she did.

Trump’s off hand emerged and shot a few scraps of metal at the staff. The impact travelled up the staff and weakened her grip.

Then she felt the push. It felt like her internals were being shoved to the back of her skin and it only barely held together enough to carry the rest of her along with it.

She slammed into the ground and rolled along the street. Allspades must have come back, because Trump’s push disappeared.

Her staff was on the ground, halfway between her and Trump. She got up to one knee before having to rely on her plants to stand the rest of the way.

“He can only hit one of us at a time,” she said.  “But he knew I was coming when he was concentrating on Burnout. We can’t guarantee he won’t be able to sense you if you get too close, but I’ll need my staff if we want a distraction long enough for you to get to him.”

She got the rest of the way up and found her staff close at hand.

“Thanks. Do you know what you’ll do if you get close?”

I have an idea” Unimportant’s voice echoed.

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