Escape 19-V

Getting Caught In The Rain.

Just for posterity’s sake, my injuries: power fatigue, one completely fucked-up shoulder, whatever damage getting knocked unconscious had done to my brainpan, too many tiny lacerations to even count, phantom pains from the injuries I'd had healed, and, most importantly, one very, very heavily bruised ego. And that one wasn't going to go away any time season.

So, in terms of actual fighting, I was useless, which irked because I was easily the most competent of the four of us (I'm sure Foresight would've contested that if I said it out loud, but he'd have contested that the sky was blue if I said it). Which meant my only possible utility was giving orders.

As Occam, who had apparently decided he could take us all, strode towards us, I turned to my teammates. “Foresight,” I barked, gesturing at the nearing enemy. “Occam. Keep him off us.” He was the next best at hand-to-hand, and Occam’s super-sharp blades were the most immediate threat to us. Whatever enhanced reflexes he had gave him the best chance of holding him off or even winning. “Freefall, same as in the park. Keep Crabcakes occupied.” In a quieter voice, “How’s your power?”

She made a tiny so-so gesture, and I nodded in acknowledgment. She vanished, and as I turned back, a curved brown umbrella shield appeared over the other four Cabalists, Pincer raising his arms above his head, concentrating on holding it in place. It was uneven, the side closer to us heavier and thicker, and I’d bet that if Freefall and I pulled the same trick as last time, he’d just drop that side down and absorb the hit. Still, it kept him occupied, so it’d have to do.

Foresight sneered at me, but stepped out in front of us, pulling a knife from his belt. Occam’s pace didn’t slow as he leant down, swiping both hands through the ground. A shower of powder sprayed out, and he came up holding two short swords made entirely of concrete. Sloppy grip, I noted to myself. He was holding them out to either side, like a bloody anime character. Man, if I had that power…

He swung one sword as soon as he was in range - slightly before, actually. Leaning smoothly out of the way, Foresight knocked on the back of the blade as it went past, adding additional momentum and throwing Occam further off balance. The Cabalist stumbled, only barely able to get a blade in between Foresight’s swinging fist and force him to abort the blow. He growled, and lunged forward with both swords, but Foresight somehow managed to step forward and angle his body in such a way that he slipped between them. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. He practically bodychecked him, slamming a hip into his midsection and sending him reeling, then followed it with a series of short, sharp blows to his midsection, stepping forward as Occam stumbled back, never letting him recover or get back to effective range with the swords.

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t unequivocally the best.

Their fight was taking place almost equidistant between the two groups, and with the clutter of the rooftop, it meant neither had a clear shot at the other, and so we’d ended up with a duel of sorts. The two in the middle, and the rest of us watching. I wasn’t exactly complaining, but it didn’t really make that much sense. For us it did, sure; neither of us had any way of getting around or attacking them from where we were. Thing was, Edith didn’t have the same problem: she could pseudo-fly, and she had Junction. But instead of capitalising, she was just standing under the umbrella, glaring, as she was wont to do. Junction actually seemed like he was thinking the same thing, gesturing at us, but Edith just snapped something at him, pointing one finger at the sky.

“Hey Skew,” Tide said. She was taking the brief respite as an opportunity to get her breath back, bent over and resting her hands on her knees. Her head was looking up, though, and she’d seen the same interaction I had. “Just a thought. How stable is that other form of hers? To, you know, wind and stuff.”

Pieces clicked into place. “Not very,” I answered. “Better than a real cloud of salt, but; not very.”

“So she can’t move about in it because if Freefall lands, she’ll be blown away.”

“That’s the impression I’m getting,” I confirmed.

“Could we use that? Knock her out of the shield just before the impact?”

I considered it. “I dunno. Can you?”

“From here? Not without hitting Foresight.”

“He’s a big boy, he can handle it,” I said dismissively. “Keep that in reserve for now; I think we’re about to have company.” Junction, having been shot down by Edith, had apparently decided he was more than man enough on his own. Considering both of us were injured, it probably wasn’t actually that terrible a judgment call. He disappeared into a jagged line of rent space, appearing behind us from an identical opening, fist already swinging at me. I should have been able to dodge it, or at least block it, but I was tired, and feeling sluggish, and he was surprisingly quick. I caught it on my chin, spinning me away, and almost dropping me. I grabbed onto a vent to stop myself from falling, my head swimming. I shook it, trying to clear my mind, but he was already closing in on me, arm raised.

There was the mildest of tremors in the ground below as, in my peripheral vision, I saw Tide stamp her foot. A low wave shot out from the point of contact, bowling Junction over as it knocked his feet out from under him. It obviously took something out of her, though; she looked like she’d been punched in the stomach, and immediately doubled over again.

Junction had been right next to me when he’d fallen, so I barely had to move to kick him while he was down. Just before my foot connected, though, another jagged portal opened below him and he fell through, leaving me swinging at empty air. Not even a second later, something heavy slammed into me from behind and sent me sprawling.

I landed on my shoulder, of course. I must have been awful in a past life, to account for all the bad karma I seemed to have accrued. Someone drove a red-hot railroad spike into my arm, and my thoughts were blotted out by pain for a few moments. White consumed my vision, then began to fade into blurry spots, except for in one place- oh, no, that was just Freefall, coming in hot. I was on my back, staring up at the sky, and I don’t think I could’ve any more moved in that moment than I could’ve stopped my heart from beating. That one actually felt like a very real possibility, to be honest.

Junction had used his portals to throw himself at me from his prone position, obviously. I’d be more annoyed (momentum fuckery was my thing) if I had the energy to spare for it. Three heads appeared in my field of vision, all of them identical, and it took me an embarrassingly long moment to realize that it was just one and I was seeing triple.

“H-” a heavy, racking cough cut off the words, and I tasted something metallic in the back of my throat. “...hey, wanna know something funny?” I managed to rasp out.

He frowned down at me. “What?”

“I don’t know enough about you to make a good insult,” I admitted with a weak smile. “I do know one thing, though.”

“What’s that?”

“That’s an awfully large profile you’re presenting.”

Maybe my karma wasn’t so bad after all, because I got two perfect, beautiful moments of confusion and then realization from him. The shockwave of Freefall’s landing blasted him off his feet, ripping him out of my vision like the hand of god. Prone like I was, the force just slid me slightly along the ground and made the skin of my cheeks wobble in a very uncomfortable way.

One down.

Somehow, slowly and painfully, I dragged myself to my feet. Foresight and Occam were still going at it, and it was obviously going in the former’s favor. The Cabalist had lost one of his blades and was on the defense, his sword’s unnatural sharpness the only thing saving him. Foresight was making some pretty brutal attempts with his knife, but the fact that it couldn’t stand up to Occam’s made him have to pull back if he got it in the way.

Still, he was preventing him from attacking back, and I had no doubt he’d have easily managed to win the fight, if the mysterious boy hadn’t raised a gun in trembling hands and shot him.

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