Greys 10-III

Not With Magic

Another fist smashed through the wall behind us as we ran, sending a shower of splinters spraying outwards. I ducked instinctively, and the girl let out a small shriek.

“This is your plan?” she yelled at me as I dragged her down the stairs. Another fist, this time accompanied with a stream of slurred profanities, lodged itself in the top stair. “This is a terrible plan!”

“Oh, I'm sorry! Did you miss the bit where he poofed me with one hit? It's not like I can fight him!” Although, logically speaking, I knew I didn’t have a pulse or any adrenaline glands, I still felt my heart pounding and the rush of energy flowing through my non-existent veins. It made me wonder if it was psychosomatic, or if my body was actually generating those chemicals and increasing its heart rate. Anyway, the point is that I was a little more snappish than I'd normally be. “Hey, you probably handled him better than I did, so why don’t I just leave you here on your own?” I said sarcastically. “If you have any better ideas than running, I would love to hear them.” Okay, so quite a bit more snappish.

“Okay, fine, geez. You don’t need to be- waugh!” I yanked her sideways as a fist hurtled through the space she had just been occupying and down the stairs we'd been about take. I caught a brief glimpse of the Disciple as I pulled us into the next room, standing at the top of the stairs, literally foaming from the mouth. I shuddered. Where the heck had they gotten this guy? He seemed legitimately insane, in a straightjacket and horse tranquillizers kind of way.

We were back on the second floor, with its impromptu open floorplan and wreckage.  I’d screwed up, I realized. The third floor, while not the best place to be, at least still had walls and obstructions. This one was completely open, and that gave an even bigger advantage to the Disciple, with his disgusting flail-arms. I, meanwhile, was basically only viable in close quarters, and it seemed the girl had no offensive options at all. I needed to get in close, without taking any hits, and with the option of surprise taken out of the equation, I’d have to chance it on intangibility. 

The girl, Mirror, had lost her glasses somewhere, and there was real fear in her eyes as I looked around at her. “If I distract him, do you think you can get out?” I asked hurriedly.

“I-uh, well-”she stammered.

“Yes or no?!” I cut her off.

“Y-yes. I think.”

“Good. I'm going to try something, but there's a decent chance it won’t work. Get outside and run.”

“What about you?” she asked.

“I’ll be fine. And that's not reassuring empty words, he can't actually hurt me.” There was an incoherent snarl, and the Disciple stepped round the corner into view. “Go!” I said, giving her a shove as the man reared his arm back.  Again, the fist hurtled towards me, and I took a deep breath, preparing myself, and went intangible.

And then I stepped to the side and let it fly past me to bury itself in the concrete.

What? I wasn’t going to let it hit me just to test a theory. That’d be stupid.

He roared, spittle flying from his lips, and the stretched-out flesh of his arm tightened, yanking the fist out of the wall and back towards him, like an old-school measuring tape. It snapped back into place, and he readied his other arm.

Behind him, on the other side of the stairs, I could see Mirror crouched by the edge of the wall. She'd managed to sneak around to the other side, but with the stairwell still occupied, she couldn’t get down. So I needed to get him to move somehow.

Physics are my new best friend.

He threw his arm forward again, and again I stepped aside. This time, though, I kept an eye on the arm, and when it began to tense, I went solid, grabbed it with both hands, and went dense, for just a second.

The floor creaked dangerously, but held the brief moment of extra weight. The Disciple, though, was dragged forward with a sudden jolt, shock sweeping over his face. Like I'd guessed, his arm operated like an elastic, and when I'd created a new heaviest point, instead of the fist pulling itself back towards him, both ends were now being pulled towards me. I let go and stepped away as the fist went flying past, straight at his off-balance torso. Now, I'm not a vindictive person, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn’t a certain amount of satisfaction involved when it slammed into his chest and sent him tumbling to the ground a few feet in front of me.

I gestured at the girl, who was staring at me with an unreadable expression on her face, and she started and hurried down the steps, out of sight.

Well, at least she was safe, for now… safe, with her pockets full of stolen cash. I mentally facepalmed. In my defense, I'd had other things to worry about. I'd figure that one out later.

The man staggered to his feet, one hand clutched against his ribs and obviously in pain, but his features were still contorted with rage. I was actually starting to think that he was really genuinely unhinged. He hadn’t said a single word that wasn’t a slur or curse, and as I looked into his eyes, there was nothing there but rage. I don't know why, but I held up my hands, palms out.

“Can you… can you actually hear me?”  I asked tentatively. “Do you understand the noises coming out of my mouth?” He didn’t give any indication that he did, but he also didn’t attack me, so I continued. “Look, you're obviously hurt. Just… stay down, and I won’t have to do any more, okay?” I mean, I didn’t think I could do any more; that had been a one-time trick. But I had to try.

It actually seemed like it might work. A little bit of the terrifying energy seemed to seep out of him, and I had the audacity to sigh slightly. His vision snapped back into focus, directly at me, and he let out another roar as he moved again. I stepped back, expecting another straight throw, but instead he flung it in a sideways arc, twisting to give it more momentum. Caught off guard, I barely had time to react before his arm slammed into my side and sent me flying across the ground. I tumbled and rolled, hitting the wall with a thump. Or maybe it was more of a thunk, I’m not sure.

I groaned, suddenly very glad that injuries on these projections didn’t carry over to my real body (I'd figured this out when I'd woken up in the middle of the night, firmly convinced there was still a fork sticking out of my hand). It didn’t feel like I'd broken anything, but that brought up the question of whether or not I even could break bones. Pain was simulated accurately for smaller wounds, I knew that much, and it simulated blood, but if I hit myself on the arm with a hammer, would it behave like a broken arm would? What if I chopped off an arm? Would the separated limb have permanence? What if-

There was a loud noise, like a cross between tearing and crushing, and I looked up to see a long hole torn in one of the walls at about chest height.

“Probably not the best time to be thinking about this, Hanners.”

Yeah, I know. I pushed myself onto my feet as he reeled his arms back in. I couldn’t tell if he'd added the new window on purpose, or if he'd just lost control, but obviously I was leaning towards the latter. He was panting now, and his posture was all slanted and weird.

So. Problem: insane man with organic flails attached to his wrists wants to kill me. Caveats: he can destroy me in one hit, and I can't go dense for more than a split-second, otherwise I'll just… collapse... the… floor…

I kicked myself forward, running towards the Disciple. He swung a fist at me again, but I was ready for it this time and slid underneath the swing. As it passed over, I went light and grabbed ahold, and when he pulled it back towards him, I flew through the air along with it.

His eyes, his crazy, crazy eyes widened as I shot towards him, and he brought his other hand forward, but I'd already let go, dropping down and pushing myself forward into a dive. I grabbed his legs, wrapped myself awkwardly around them, and went as dense as I could.

Everything's kind of blurry and shaky after that. Next thing I knew, I was lying in a pile of rubble, clouds of dust swirling around me, and the limp form of the Disciple on top of me. I pushed him off, and he groaned slightly, but stayed limp as he rolled onto the ground.

We were back on the ground floor, having crashed through the ones above, resulting in the pile in which I now stood. Thankfully, the structural integrity of the building seemed to have remained intact.

I rose, inspecting the damage around me. Physics 1, Disciple 0. And the best part was, I didn’t even feel hurt!

I brushed off the dirt and dust as best I could, then looked up. We'd actually fallen right next to the entranceway, and the door had been knocked over in the impact. Outside, staring in from the open doorway with mouth agape, was the girl.

“Oh good,” I said with a weak grin hidden by my scarf, “you’re still here. We should have a chat.”

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