Speak 24-IV


Sorry for the missed update; I was in Melbourne, interviewing for a college.
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End A Conversation.

I flung out a hand, like I did when I used my power, and the big guy tightened his grip on the datapad, drawing it closer to his body. I hadn’t actually done anything, though; I wasn’t going to waste power on anything that wasn’t a sure shot at this point. The main point was to get him to react, and give Edith a second to react. Or, that was what I was aiming for. She’d already started moving, at the same time I had, and a blade of salt passed through the space that the big guy’s wrist had occupied a second ago.

Whoops.

She reformed in the air, still moving upwards. The floor we’d ended up on was a pretty standard open-plan office, with a few cubicle walls here and there, and a surprisingly low roof. She slammed into it, one raised arm taking the brunt of the impact, and dropped back to the ground, clenching her teeth. As soon as she landed, though, she shot forward again, vision hyperfocused on the datapad. One wiry arm whipped around to smack her out of the air as she leaped, and this time I did use my power, redirecting it downwards just as-

Edith flickered in midair, and then she was suddenly lower, and more parallel to the ground. If I had to guess, I’d say she’d switched forms for the briefest second, using the increased control she had when she was salt to change her momentum and position when she reformed. It would’ve worked really well, except-
Yeah.

So we weren’t quite as in-sync as I’d maybe thought. Which, uh, really shouldn’t have been any kind of surprise. It was a mix of wishful thinking and unexamined instinct.

She tumbled along the ground, growling audibly, and rolling back onto her feet directly in front of me. “Look,” I began to say, but she flicked one hand back and a blade of salt swept at my leg. I yelped and managed to jump backwards, but it still opened a burning gash across the front of my shin. It stung, too; salt had literally been added to the wound. On the plus side, it was less likely to get infected now. Yay.

“Hey!” I yelled at her, but she was already gone again. That had been supposed to take my leg off; I’d barely caught the edge of it, and the cut was easily half an inch deep. So… what I had interpreted as “truce”, she maayyyybe had thought was… not that. And with that mindset, my failed attempts to help would probably have looked a lot like actively hindering her.

This time, I didn’t bother trying to do anything as she sliced at the big guy’s legs. He flickered out of the way, and she spun after him. Apparently, though, he’d have enough of her, and with sickening power, a straight blow swept down towards her body. Physical attacks didn’t normally affect her in that form, but intuitively I knew that this one was different.
I wanted to jump in, to do something, but I held myself back. She didn’t want my help, fine. It was a stupid, petty thought, but…

I’m a stupid, petty person.

As the fist descended, Edith’s form split. Two streams of salt rushed around the arm, reforming on the other side. I blinked. I hadn’t known she could do that. As far as I understood, her salt form was still roughly equivalent to her human form; if it lost mass, she lost mass, etc. Doing that must’ve been like tearing her own guts in half with her hands and then pushing them together.

Which did not help the whole ‘terrified of her’ thing.

She flowed over his face, which looked as surprised as mine did, and before he could react, began pouring down his throat. He gagged, and I reflexively winced. I’d seen this one before, and it wasn’t pretty.

Sure enough, the larger part of the salt that was still out of his gullet condensed and snapped back into solid flesh. Edith hung there in the air for a second, her shoulder directly in front of his mouth. The arm attached to it disappeared into his mouth and down his throat. It should have torn his oesaphegus to shreds as it reformed, but judging from the shock and pain on Edith’s face, it hadn’t quite worked out that way.

Even with his mouth gaping unnaturally wide, the big guy’s eyes began glittering with amused malice, and despite the entire arm in his gullet, he slowly began biting down. Edith screamed in pain, disintigrating into salt and shooting away, as he laughed, seemingly completely undamaged. When she reformed, it was on the other side of the room, and her arm was bleeding in multiple places and hanging limp.

Laughter dying down, the big guy turned to me. “So-” he began to say, and I smashed the roof above him with my power and crushed him through the floor with a ton of rubble.

I still wasn’t exactly sure how this new ability worked, but when I’d done the lock, it had been as easy as any other use. This time? It was… not that easy.

Twin spikes of pain shot through my eyes, and I collapsed to the ground, screaming. I’ve never had molten railroad spikes driven through my eyes, but this felt a lot like what I imagined the feeling of that would be.

Slowly, the pain faded to the point that I could see again, and I slowly raised my head to see Edith standing above me, one hand pointed at my face.

“Give me one reason,” she said quietly, wearily.

I marshalled my thoughts. “You can’t beat him alone,” I said quietly.

Her face twisted, but she said nothing.

“Look,” I said, raising my hands as I got to my feet, “we’re at cross purposes, I get that. But what you want from that datapad… it’s not there. Please, please trust me when I say that. I’m not trying to trick you. It’s just…” I trailed off. “If you saw what it did, you’d understand.” Or, I hoped she would. I had to keep reminding myself I didn’t really know Edith any more. The woman standing in front of me, for all I knew, might decide to use it anyway. “But we can both agree,” I continued, “that we don’t want him having it, yeah? So… truce. Just for now. We can sort out the rest afterwards.”

I stuck one hand out, and she stared at it. For a second, I was genuinely unsure of what she was going to do, but then, she slowly lowered hers.

“...fine,” she growled, teeth gritted.

“That’s the spirit,” I replied, faux-cheerfully, looking down at my hand.

She batted my hand aside, and turned around. “Don’t get in my way.” Without looking back, she walked forward and over the edge of the hole.

I sighed, and followed. 

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