Escape 19-IV

That You've Looked For.

To be honest, I felt a bit silly. I'd made all that fuss about dying on impact, and in the heat of the moment I'd forgotten one very important fact.

Freefall made impacts her bitch.

It felt like landing on a mat from half a foot up, a sensation that was distinctly unnerving considering how far and fast we'd fallen. We had been diving, though, so although it was a soft landing, it was still a soft landing on my face.

I groaned, pushing myself over onto my back with my uninjured arm. Next to me, Freefall had easily tucked into a roll, and popped back onto her feet easily in what I recognised as a boxer's stance. Not a proper, trained one, but the imitation most people assume when they have to throw a punch. The basic idea was right, but her feet were too wide and pointing too far forward, and her torso was way too open. It wasn’t too bad, and her size and strength would probably compensate for a lot of that, but I still made a note to give her some pointers later. I didn’t use any boxing techniques (aside from the basic stuff that was cross-discipline, like a general sense of footwork and how to throw a punch), but I had a pretty good working knowledge of the discipline. Most disciplines, in fact; my dad used to go on and on about how the easiest way to set yourself up for failure is to stick to just one. Pull bits and pieces from everything, that was the way he taught me, and it meant I had at least rudimentary knowledge of pretty much anything someone could reasonably throw at me. Here’s a little tip; if you ever go up against a boxer in a non-boxing fight, make like you’re gonna box too, then kick them in the gonads. Yes, I know, I use that way too much, but it works! Easily the most vulnerable part of the body. Not my fault I take advantage of that.

Freefall jerked her head at me, flicking a hand upwards. Oh, right. Standing. Should get on that.

I levered myself up onto one knee, my arm hanging limply by my side, which made the process somewhat awkward, and stood up from there. We’d landed on some sort of rooftop, retail if I had to guess, with no more than three or four stories. Closer to the docks than I’d thought, too; we were nearly at the point where there started being more empty buildings than occupied ones. Hopefully this one was the latter.

Sprawled on the ground in front of us were four figures; Junction, the boy from before, the forcefield one, and… oh, fun, Occam. All four of them had been laid out by the blast, but none seemed to be unconscious. Typical. And of course, cherry on top, Junction was the first to rise, already on one knee. I took a step over, bringing me closer to Freefall, eyes still on our foes. “Well,” I said under my breath, “that didn’t exactly work.”
She grunted assent, still tense, as the others struggled to their feet. “Can you fight?”

I flicked my head at my dead arm. “Technically, yes. The question you should be asking is, how well can I fight.” She fixed me with a flat glare. “The answer is very very poorly.”

“Not the time.”

“It’s always the time,” I countered. “Keeps my mind off the improbable amount of horrible shit that happens to me.”

“Happens to me too. Don’t see me snarking.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said with a half-smirk, “which one of us has use of both of their arms again?”

“Which one has two whole pinkies?”

“Touche.” Junction was now staring at us murderously, but wasn’t making any move towards us. Unsurprisingly, the boy was taking the longest to recover; the other two were well on their way to standing, but he was still sprawled on the ground, making some mildly pitiful noises. What even was his deal, anyway? Was Edith coercing this kid, or-

Oh. Right.

“Heads up,” I said casually to Freefall, one finger pointing to the sky. We both stepped back, almost in sync, just in time for a figure to condense out of seemingly-thin air, and land where we’d been standing.

Three guesses as to who it was. First two don’t count.

“Okay,” I said out loud before she could do anything but glare. “Let’s just cut the whole cryptic banter off at the pass, shall we? You want the datapad. We’re not going to give you the datapad. Ergo, now we fight. Anything you need to add?”

I think she was actually a bit miffed. She didn’t let it show, though. “You always have to be funny, don’t you?”

I glanced over at Freefall. “Hey, maybe you two should have a chat some time. Seeing as you’ve got so much in common.” She snorted, but continued staring at Edith. “See?” I said, pointing. “Funny!”

“This is pointless and you know it,” she snarled. “Tell us, and you might actually live.”

“Do you ever get tired of this, E? The same little routine, over and over and over?” I clicked my fingers. “Cause I do.”

Nothing happened.

I frowned, clicked them again. Still nothing. A few more times, in rapid suggestion. “Skew,” Freefall said warningly. “What are you-”

I clicked one more time, and Foresight came catapulting over our heads and barreled into Edith.

“Nailed it,” I said smugly as Tide landed behind us.

“You’re insufferable. You know that, right?” Tide said. She sounded winded; tossing the two of them all the way from where we’d been must’ve taken a toll.

“Oh, I know.” Foresight had landed on his feet, of course, and darted back away from Edith's sprawled form just as one of Occam’s blades pierced the ground below where he’d just been. “So nice of you to join us,” I said to him. He ignored me, which, in hindsight, was probably better for everyone.

The four of us stared at the five Cabalists opposite us. Well, I say five, but the boy was just cowering at the back. “What’s his deal?” Tide asked quietly, evidently noticing it too.

“Who knows,” I replied at the same volume. “And if it evens the numbers out, who cares.”

The numbers may have been even, but the odds weren’t. They were all comparatively fresh; we were all either injured, worn out or both. Add to that a lack of straight offensive ability, and…

“Fuck it,” said Tide. “We can take them.”

I glanced at her, at the others, then back at them. I shrugged. “Fuck it.”

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