Sympathy 1 - II

Traps for Troubadours


The door went flying downwards, Vortex’s kick hard enough to break it entirely off its hinges. It toppled towards the ground, sturdier than I’d expected given the rest of the hotel re: its shabbiness.

That would make a pretty good entrance, but I reckoned I could make it better.

Time seemed to slow as I reached down into the cold, still well of power that sat in my core. As I tapped into it, letting it flow through me, my senses expanded outwards beyond such mundane means as sight. I could sense the kinetic energy in everything around me, including the figures inside the room as they spun towards the more important source; the falling door. As it fell, I reached out, grabbing (for lack of a better word) that energy and redirecting it. Due to whatever arbitrary system governed superpowers, mine has a pretty restrictive and arbitrary limit on it: I can shift momentum ninety degrees and ninety degrees only, which is pretty annoying.

I make it work, though.

Suddenly, the door was no longer headed downwards. It ‘bounced’ forward, the momentum that carried it towards the ground redirected forward, turning it into a makeshift projectile. I dashed past Vortex through the doorway, and took stock of the situation. The door had hit Ado on her way to the ground, knocking her (unconscious, thanks to Ricochet) body into Junction. However, she’d obviously managed to get a blast off before getting knocked out, which I redirected to the left, slamming into the ugly, fading paint next to Occam. He jerked away, hitting the arms of the chair and tumbling to the ground gracelessly.

I jumped over Junction’s prone form, kicking him in the face as he attempted to get to his feet, and then the door, now lying on top of Ado, going straight for the bathroom. I darted past the kitchen, where I caught a brief glimpse of knives flying through the air in erratic and unpredictable paths. I found myself very glad I’d assigned Vortex to deal with him, because anyone else was probably going to get creamed (in the sense that their remains would have about the same consistency as cream).

The bathroom was around a corner at the back of the room, through a closed doorway. Instead of slowing down to make the turn, I angled my body and slammed through the door, then used my power to send myself in the right direction and avoiding hitting the wall. As I slowed, Phantom emerged from the bathroom, phasing straight through the door, his black and mauve costume indistinct due to his being slightly transparent. Phantom’s power gave him enhanced speed, and intangibility that increased proportionally to how fast he was going. Without missing a beat at the sight of me, he charged straight down the corridor, fist back for what surely would have been quite the devastating punch and a low growl emanating from his throat.

I let him get within about a foot of me before I sent him straight upwards into the ceiling.

Powers have a tendency to interfere with other powers. If he’d had had more time to build up speed, there would have been no way I could have affected him at all; as it was, he lost maybe a quarter of his momentum in the shift.

But that was plenty. While he was going fast, apparently it wasn’t fast enough to send him completely through the roof: his head phased through the drywall before slamming into what was presumably a crossbeam. He crumpled to the ground, writhing around, and I gave him a swift kick in the balls. He was wearing a cup, judging by the resistance, but there's only so much one of them can do, and he crumpled further. I winced a little in sympathy, then grabbed a couple of zip ties from my belt and hogtied his hands and feet together. It wasn’t particularly elegant, but I didn’t exactly have power-disabling cuffs (because they don’t exist, before you get any ideas), and I needed to stop him from being able to fade out.

Two down, three to go. I stood, and ran back into the main room. I rounded the corner, pulling the same trick as before, just in time to see a sword heading straight for Foresight’s head.

Occam could make super-sharp swords from any materials he touched, and control them with his mind. Currently, he had four floating around him, which all appeared to be made from drywall, except for one that looked like it was made of fabric and wood, which was about a foot from Foresight’s face.

In a movement so smooth I could’ve sworn it was rehearsed, his head bobbed to the side, just enough that the blade just whistled by. Occam snarled, and spun the blade back towards him, but once again, Foresight moved in exactly the right way to have it just avoid him. He spun closer and closer to the supervillain, again and again coming within an inch of death, but every time, barely avoiding it.

Confident that he could handle his opponent, and frankly not that concerned with the jerk’s wellbeing, I turned my attention to Flatline, who was standing over the unconscious form of Junction. I hooked a thumb over my shoulder and mouthed “Phantom” and he nodded and jogged past me to the corridor. With that done, I turned my attention to the kitchen, and Maelstrom.

Maelstrom’s power was exactly what it sounded like: when he activated it, every object smaller than a fist within a 5-meter radius of him started flinging itself through the air in random directions and at random speeds. The objects never hit him, of course, but they did hit anyone foolish enough to venture into that particular storm.

Just like Vortex was doing.

Vortex’s power looked like ordinary forcefields, but they had an interesting twist; anything that hit the force field got pulled into a vortex at the center, forming a missile that he could fire off with a considerable amount of force. The whirling cloud of debris was the perfect environment for him; already, I could see a clump forming at the front of the shield, and after a few seconds, the shield winked out for a second as the projectile shot forward. It hit Maelstrom square in the head, and he collapsed to the ground with a clatter, as the force holding the remaining objects suddenly disappeared.

I nodded at him. “Good work,” I said, and he nodded back.

I turned and strode back into the main room. On the other side of the room, Foresight and Occam were still fighting, but Foresight obviously had him on the ropes. Occam’s blades were whirling around as a shield in front of him as he stood in a corner, a desperate defensive measure. But Foresight stood there for a few seconds, and then, as if on a timer, lashed forward, a single blow that slipped right through the shield, and knocked the blade-wielding supervillain cold.

“Took your time,” I said sardonically. Foresight turned and gave me a glare. “What, you want a medal?” I asked sarcastically. I turned to the others. “Once Flatline’s done, tie them up. I’m going to check in with the others-”

“Honcho! What’s up?”

“Lis?” I asked. It was pretty obviously her; the question was more instinct than anything else.

“None other.”

“Oh good.” I breathed out a quiet sigh of relief. “I’d say something inane like ‘So you won, then?’ but I think it’s pretty obvious what the answer to that is.”

“Too right. Turns out Thunderthighs here isn’t used to people being ready for her trick.”

“Well, good work. Once we’re done here, I’ll get you that drink.”

“Damn right ya’ will. But right now, get your asses over to the other squad, ‘cause I don’t think they’re doing as well as you did.”