Mitch was sitting on the couch staring at the camera feeds she’d put on the TV. Tina had been watching him closely at first, but she could feel her lungs start to seize up just looking at him. A normal kid on a sugar rush had trouble sitting still, but Mitch had grown extra limbs. His hands were running through his hair and clenching his pants and tapping out a rhythm on the armrest. His legs were reenacting a stampede in place. His eyes were locked on the view through the screen, but his pupils were dancing.
So she looked away and stared at the screen as a half dozen images gave them a view of battles. She had the monitors rotating through the cameras, but she didn’t want to look at them for too long. Even through the monitors, her powers were at work. Each and every hero’s costume was personal to them, and staring at one for too long would force her to delve into its creation.
Only one image wasn’t cycling, but she didn’t want to look at it too long. She’d gotten one of the cameras to focus right on Eclipse, but he’d barely moved more than a finger since he came out of his shell.
Tina risked another glance. She didn’t think her powers would work on him. There was nothing there to look at, or it was too big to understand what you were seeing. Nobody seemed to agree on which. But even so, she needed an object, something somebody had invested enough effort into to leave a mark. There was nothing of the sort for Eclipse.
One of the cycling cameras caught her eye, so she froze the cycle and blew it up to fill half the screen. Hawthorne was floating over some monster that Eclipse had created. She heard Mitch’s breath hitch behind her. She didn’t blame him; she couldn’t look away from the thing on the screen.
Before she could look away, Tina was drawn into the creature’s minds.
There were six of them, and they weren’t screaming.
Their minds were buried beneath a mass of instinct and fear. Each of them was scrambling, clawing their way to the surface. Tina watched one of them make it most of the way to consciousness, and as it crawled towards the light, she felt bile burning in her throat.
Its core was still there, driving it to wake up and become conscious, but the image before her was featureless. No, it was like a hundred thousand minds had all been shoved into one and they had meshed together so completely that there was no personality left.
It wasn’t possible, not with six minds, not with a thousand and not without destroying the core completely. It was like one mind had been broken into pieces and, after each had grown a complete mind of its own, they were shoved back together and forced to fit into the shape of the original.
She shouldn’t be seeing this. Tina’s power had only ever worked on objects, on the parts of people’s minds that they left behind. She couldn’t’ just dive into a monster’s mind, especially not one as convoluted as this.
The creature was almost at the light now, and a part of Tina knew that giving this uncaring intelligence to the monster outside would let it kill hundreds of more heroes than it had already. She didn’t have any experience on fighting in a mind – she could only vaguely remember meeting Will in her own head – but Tina drew back as har as she could and threw the weight of her mind at the blank monster.
And when she crashed into it, the screaming started.
The blank fell into the pit it had crawled its way up, slamming into the others on its way down. All of them screamed in pain and anger and fear and frustration.
Their screams echoed from the pit, slamming into her and forcing her back, back to the edges of their mind. And as she was being thrown out, Tina saw a single eye, all black save for a white pupil, open and stare at here.
Tina shoved herself away from her desk and felt her wheelchair catch on the ruck. It flipped, throwing her off and onto her back.
Mitch was by her side in a flash. He slowly helped her to her feet.
“Thank you. Can you get my chair?”
Mitch didn’t respond. She glanced over at him and saw his eyes transfixed on the screen.
She hand’t changed the images, but the largest was not focuxing on the mad monster floating In the sky abover the city. He was staring straight at het, through the camera and the network and the screen. Their eyes met, and she understood.
“You have to go.”
“What?” Mitch snapped out of his stupor and tore his eyes from the screen to stare at her, but she wasn’t looking at him. Her eyes were glued to the monster’s.
“You have to warn them. He’s going to make something worse. He’s going to make something strong enough and smart enough that it will never be stopped.”
“But-” Mitch stared at her, sitting on the floor with her wheelchair still on its back next to her.
“Red Racer. Our friends are in trouble. Your sister is in trouble. And you are the only one who can warn them about what’s coming. No matter what he makes. No matter how big it is or how many people he used, they have to kill it before it can wake up.”
Red’s outer layer hadn’t hit the floor yet before he was out the door, leaving the glassware from the coffee table shattered on the ground next to the open door.
Tina turned back to the screen. The cameras had changed again. None of them pointed at Eclipse. Tina watched as the last of the monsters was torn apart, and one by one the heroes on the ground stared up at the figure in the sky, waiting for the sign of the next attack.