… EPISODE 24….
….. Posted by uc beverly…..
For a second, nobody moves. Then all hell breaks loose.
Draven dives for me. Dante dives for Rebel. Nitro—God bless him—runs into the bedroom after Riley. And Jeremy…well, Jeremy dives on top of his electronics. No surprise there.
Another window shatters as a canister of some sort comes hurtling through it. Followed by another. And another. Within seconds, noxious smoke fills the apartment.
“Tear gas,” Draven mutters bitterly in my ear. “We’ve got to get out of here.” “But that’s what they want! They’re waiting out there.”
“Yeah, well, they’ll wait a couple minutes for the tear gas to do its work and then storm in here. We’ll be totally screwed. We have to go. Now.”
He’s right. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to do what needs to be done. Not when my heart is pounding like a metronome on high and I can’t catch my breath. Not when I know what the heroes are capable of, what the trouble outside might bring us.
I can see it so clearly: Draven, captured by the heroes, bloodied, beaten, destroyed. I want to grab on to him, to beg him to stay here where I might be able protect him. But it would be a lie. There is no safety here. No safety anywhere, really. Not when Rex Malone is determined to bring us down.
My eyes water as hell rains all around us. It’s an impossible situation. Stay until they come in, or run out into their trap. Through the pain I try to wrap my head around what I can do to save Draven and Rebel. Jeremy, Dante, Nitro. And myself. I’d really prefer to make it out of this alive, but there are no guarantees.
“Let’s go,” Draven yells, pulling me up into a crouch as a spray of bullets comes through the already-broken windows.
Dante uses his wind power to clear the air around us as much as he can, but there’s a lot of tear gas in the apartment now and I can barely see.
“Where are we going?” I demand as Rebel and Dante fall in behind us. “How are we supposed to get out of here? Mr. Malone isn’t stupid. He’ll have people in the hallway as well as on the street. We’re trapped.”
“The roof?” Jeremy suggests hoarsely between coughing fits. He’s crawling along behind us, his and Riley’s laptops tucked into the backpack slung over his shoulder.
If we were smart, we’d surrender. Or at least barter Rebel and Riley for our own escape. Except that’s not how this team works. Corny as it sounds, we’re not leaving anyone behind, not even Riley. Once we’re on the street, he can go his own way. But for now, we’re all in this together.
“Not the roof,” Draven says, his voice just as rough as Jeremy’s. “They’ll be waiting.”
“Well, then, what the hell are we supposed to do?” Dante asks. He’s got his hands up, creating a light wind tunnel around us in an effort to keep the tear gas at bay. It’s helping a little bit, but the sound of boot steps in the hall tells us we’re out of time.
“We’ve got to get the hell out of this apartment,” Nitro says as he starts building a fireball.
I can see where this is going—he’s going to end up accidentally burning down the whole damn building in his efforts to save us. It’s late; people are sleeping. No way am I going to let Nitro set the place on fire and kill everyone who lives here.
“Draven, our only chance is the hallway!” I shout.
“You just said there will be guards out there!” Rebel gasps between coughs. “There will be,” I reply. “But it’s our best shot. We’ve got this.” “How?” Jeremy demands.
“Rebel can move them with her mind. Dante can use his wind. I’ll apparently make their electronics go nuts so hopefully they can’t radio our position to anyone.”
I’ll do my best, anyway. Whatever it takes.
“They’re hero SWAT, Kenna,” Jeremy tells me. “They’ve got special suits that
neutralize powers coming at them.”
“How do you know that?” I demand.
“How do you not?” Jeremy replies. “I mean, come on. Your mom helped design them!”
“So what are we going to do then?” Rebel asks.
“I don’t know.” I’m out of ideas.
There’s a loud crash in the hallway, and seconds later, something heavy slams against Riley’s reinforced door. Battering ram.
“Screw this,” Nitro says, walking over to the common wall between Riley’s condo and his neighbor’s. The slamming against the door gets worse. Nitro lets loose a fireball that blows a hole straight through the drywall.
“Come on!” he yells, stepping through. We all follow, though I grab the extinguisher and put out the smoldering fire on our way through.
The people who live in this apartment start screaming, but Draven gets them under control, fast, erasing their memories and sending them back to the safety of their locked bedrooms as I put out the last spark. I can’t imagine what they’re going to think when they wake up to disaster in the morning.
The battering ram pounds against the door while Nitro rips a hole in the far wall of this apartment and we follow him into the next. I do the fire-extinguisher thing; Draven does the mind-erase thing. Nitro gears up for one more hole—to the corner apartment—but just then, the pounding stops as Riley’s door gives with a tremendous screech of hinges.
“Move!” Draven yells, and Nitro lets loose his fireball. This time, neither Draven nor I pause to mitigate the damage. Instead, we hightail it through the apartment. We’re aiming for the fire escape, when Riley says, “Corner apartments have attics. We can get up there—”
We don’t have time to be shocked by his helpfulness.
Draven’s already pulling at the cord hanging from the ceiling. And then we’re climbing up the rickety ladder, Dante all but carrying Rebel up the stairs and Riley doing the same for Nitro in their haste to get ahead of our pursuers.
I can hear the SWAT team storming after us as I start to climb. Draven pretty much throws me up the ladder and into Dante’s waiting hands, and then he’s there beside me, yanking up the ladder and wedging something against the door to keep it from being opened.
“We need to move,” he barks. “They could start shooting at the ceiling—”
He breaks off as gunfire sounds below us, bullets slamming into the floor where we’d been standing only seconds before. “Bugger it!” Nitro yells. “We’re trapped!”
“We’re not!” Jeremy says, pointing to a small skylight in the middle of the attic. “That leads to the roof.”
“What if they’re on the roof?” Rebel demands.
More bullets come plowing through the floor. “You really want to debate what-ifs right now?” Jeremy says.
“Not even a little bit.” Dante reaches out and slams his wind into the small skylight. It shatters on the first blow.
“Give me a boost!” I shout.
God only knows what’s on that roof, and I want to be the first one through the window. It’s the most vulnerable position, the one most likely to get hurt, and I feel like it’s my responsibility. I’m the one who convinced Draven that coming here was a good idea, which means it’s my job to figure out how to get us out of it alive.
Draven doesn’t agree. “I’m going up first,” he tells me.
“No way. I am.”
“Don’t fight me on this, Kenna. You’re not equipped to go up there on your own.”
“Not equipped?” This isn’t the time, but my blood begins to boil.
“Yes. You’re—” He stops.
“I’m what? Powerless? Didn’t we just decide I’m not?”
“An electromagnetic power will do you no good in this situation!” he whisper-shouts, his voice echoing in the narrow chute. “You don’t even know how it works yet!”
“Seriously?” Jeremy says. “We’re fighting about this? Now?”
“No,” Draven, sounding dangerous. “We’re not going to fight about this. Kenna, you have no immunity. You can’t control your power yet. You need to just go with me on this. You need to let me protect you.”
I know what Draven says makes perfect sense. Yet the idea of sending him out there like a sacrificial lamb… It makes me sick.
“You know it’s the only way this is going to work,” Rebel tells me softly.
I turn to look at her, and Draven takes advantage of my momentary distraction to climb through the skylight.
I brace myself for the sound of gunfire. It doesn’t come. At least not from up above. From down below, it’s still going strong and getting closer.
“Come on,” Draven snaps a second later, reaching back through the skylight to help me up. “They’re positioned at the stairwell, expecting us to come up that way. If we move, we can be gone before they learn otherwise.”
Taking a deep breath, I jump and grab his hands. He pulls me up. Then Riley flies through the hole dragging Nitro behind him, with the others on their heels. Rebel wavers a bit, tapped out from using her powers so much. Until she gets some rest, she won’t be able to reach full strength for a while.
We huddle behind some kind of large, rooftop air conditioner. It’s the only reason the guards on the other side of the roof haven’t seen us yet.
But as their radios start to crackle, I know it’s only a matter of time before they figure out that they’re watching the wrong spot.
“We need to split up,” I whisper. “There’s no way they’re going to let seven of us waltz across the roof.”
“You guys need to make your way over there,” Draven says pointing to the edge of the roof where a fire escape ladder peeks up over the top. “Dante and I will distract them.”
“I can fly someone down,” Riley volunteers. “I can only carry one person at a time, but—”
“Like we’re going to trust you,” Dante sneers.
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“Do you have a choice?” Riley counters. “They firebombed my apartment. They shot at us even though we’re unarmed. It’s like the heroes have gone crazy!” Talk about an understatement, but this isn’t the time for an I-told-you-so. I turn to Draven. “You’re not going to sacrifice yourselves for us.”
“Damn right we’re not,” he agrees. “But we are going to give you guys a chance
to get away.”
He places a hand on either side of my face. “Jeremy is Deacon’s only chance.” His mouth kicks up in that cocky half-grin. “We’ve got this. We’ll rendezvous at the pedestrian bridge in Fine Park. You know where that is?”
His lips brush against mine, and then he’s darting across the roof, Dante hot on his heels.
“Shit,” Jeremy gawks. “Who ever heard of villains with a hero complex?”
“You have to go,” Nitro says, shoving me and Rebel toward the fire escape. “You too,” he tells Jeremy.
“What about you?” I demand.
“I’m going to cover your boys. Make sure they get out of here with that fearless skin of theirs intact. Besides, Riley’s got my back, don’t you, mate?” “Yeah, I do.”
Jeremy chokes a little. “Now I’m terrified for everyone.” “As you should be,” Riley says, totally serious.
“Go!” Nitro says again. “And keep nerd boy safe at all costs. He’s got the only way into that bunker!”
That’s what finally gets us moving. Well, that and the gunfire. As we slither toward the edge, I turn to look over my shoulder as Nitro lobs fireballs at three attacking SHPD officers. Across the roof, Dante is using his power to kick up all kinds of debris in an effort to give Draven and him some cover.
I fight the instinct to turn back and help, but Nitro’s words are playing in my head. Deacon and my mom are counting on us. Jeremy’s the only one who has a chance of saving them, and Draven is trusting me to make sure he can.
A flash of superhero lightning whizzes over my head and crashes into a pole a few feet away from us. It’s the catalyst we need. We dash to the roof’s edge, heading for the fire escape.
“Let’s go!” I jump over the edge and onto the top platform, then scramble down as fast as I can as a spray of bullets showers the parapet above me.
Seconds later, the whole thing shakes as Jeremy starts down after me. Rebel brings up the rear. We’re moving fast, and then suddenly the fire escape ends a few
feet from the ground. I climb onto the ladder at the end, which slides down under my weight and finally hits the ground hard enough that my teeth snap together. Then wait for Jeremy and Rebel to follow.
Another spray of bullets hits the side of the building right below Rebel’s position.
“Go, Kenna, get moving!” she shouts.
But I’m not going without them. “Hurry, hurry, hurry,” I chant.
The heroes are closing in.
As soon as my friends hit the ground, we start to run down the alley. But we don’t get very far before we’re swarmed by SHPD officers with guns and riot shields and weapons I can’t even begin to recognize. We’re surrounded. “Shit!” Jeremy turns in a circle, looking for an opening.
Energy tingles under my skin as my fear and rage grow. Even without ever having felt it before, I know this is my power. Almost like it’s itching to get out.
I let it.
I draw in a deep breath and then release the invisible hold. Almost immediately, the helmet of the officer closest to me crackles and starts to smoke. He drops his shield and yanks the helmet off his head, quickly melting back into the sea of officers.
I did that. I did that. For the first time, I know what power really feels like. And it feels amazing. I feel like I can take on the world. Like I can take on this whole SHPD squad.
Jeremy gapes. “Whoa.”
“Get him out of here!” I shout to Rebel. “Use your telekinesis and get as far away as you can.” I know she’s tapped out, and asking her to move even one person is a lot right now, but she has to try. It’s Jeremy’s only chance.
“No. Not without you, Kenna!” he shouts, grabbing my arm. “I think I can use your power to get into the bunker.”
Jeremy and Rebel exchange a look. His gaze is desperate. Hers is determined. “Stay alive,” she says, holding out her hands. She gives a telekinetic push, and then Jeremy and I are flying through the air on the last of her power.
I grab for her, but it’s too late. We soar down the alley, high above the reach of the heroes, the pull of Rebel’s power jerky and uncontrolled—like the last sputters of a car running out of gas. I’m screaming, crying, desperate to get back to Rebel, but I can’t break her hold on me.
The SHPD closes in on her and then she screams, collapsing to the ground. They’re tasing her. They’re tasing her!
Desperate to help, I reach out with my power, hoping to disrupt the Tasers. But nothing happens. We’re too far away.
Still she keeps us up in the air for one more second, two, three. One final push takes us higher, faster, and then we crash hard to the roof of a three-story building out of range of her power—and the heroes.
I leap to my feet. “We have to go back for her! We can’t leave—”
“Damn it, Kenna, we have to go.” Jeremy drags me away with more strength than I ever gave him credit for.
“No,” I argue, wrenching at my arm. “We can’t just—”
He whips me around. “We can’t save Deacon and your mom without you. We can’t stop any of this without you. Rebel understood. That’s why she gave herself up.”
I blink at him, tears welling.
“Don’t let her sacrifice be in vain.”
It takes several shallow, shaky breaths before his words hit home. If I am willing to put my life on the line, then should it surprise me that Rebel feels the same? Jeremy opens the rooftop access door and waits for me to make my decision. But there’s really nothing to decide.
And then we’re running. So fast and so hard that my tears mingle with my sweat and I can’t tell where one stops and the other begins. .