May gripped the edge of her chair nervously. Jared’s camera feed had cut out and Patrick didn’t have one. But it was clear the battle wasn’t going well. Almost as clear as the dragon that had just broken out onto the roof. One of the beast’s back legs was crippled, but it dragged itself along with the other three well enough. The wings protruding from its back didn’t seem capable of flight, but they were doing an adequate job scooping up debris and flinging it at police officers stationed on other buildings surrounding the museum.
The police had opened up a barrage against the dragon as soon as it was free of the museum. But the rain of bullets ricocheted harmlessly of its black scales. If they were having an effect at all, she couldn’t tell it from the video feeds.
I need to get back in this. She was nervous though. It had been hard enough creating the second surrogate that was now on board Mirkov’s helicopter. Whether she could transfer the necessary parts of her consciousness to it at this distance remained to be seen.
She reached out with her mind in the direction of the battle. At first there was nothing, and she was lost and confused. This was a lot different than her usual practice of linking to the surrogate while it was freshly made and right next to her. She’d practiced longer distance transfers before of late, but none nearly this far away. And the surrogate had only been out of eyesight the last couple of times.
Come on, come on, where are you?
It was like a computer searching for internet. So frustrating. Finally she found the surrogate, an empty spot just waiting for her to fill it. She tried to ease her consciousness into it but the distance made it harder. Normally she slipped into a surrogate as easily as she once put on silk night gowns before she lost the use of her legs. But at this distance it was like trying to struggle into stockings, pants, and a button down blouse with overcoat without the ability to stand. She’d done it often enough, but it was never easy.
She forced it to open its eyes, sharing her vision. Next she gained control of its motor functions, forcing it to open its door. She sighed with her real body, realizing her nice new speaker was down the throat of that damn thing. It’d be weeks before they sent another one. Just suck it up and give it your voice. She wondered if she could give it half her speech like she gave it half her vision, but didn’t think her already soft voice would be heard over the noise of the battle if she did that.
“Testing,” she said with the surrogate at eighty-percent of her voice. Well, it was loud enough for the receiver to pick up at least. She didn’t want to part with what was left of her voice in case she needed to scream. Even a pitiful little squeak would be better than the horror she’d experienced when completely unable to.
“Ah, you’ve decided to rejoin us,” Mirkov said pleasantly from across the cabin. “I see your opponent is a little bit tougher than anticipated.” May looked out of the chopper and saw that the dragon had made its way to the ground and was using its wings to carve up police cruisers, occasionally spitting acid out onto the poor policemen, liquefying them where they stood.
“I need an energy projector,” she said. Mirkov nodded almost absentmindedly and threw her one.
“There’s a cable already on the side of the chopper for you to get down with. For obvious reasons, we won’t be landing or descending any closer to that thing. Please be a good girl and try to not kill it.”
She nodded and proceeded to the black cable already piled neatly next to the door of the chopper. Clearly Mirkov had anticipated her reaction and prepared, but she wondered why he hadn’t ordered her to use the second surrogate to begin with. Always testing, even in situations like this. No, especially in situations like this. But what is he testing?
She threw the pile over the edge, letting the cable unravel. She hooked herself onto the top and jumped off the copter. Her hair blew back around her head as she fell towards the ground and she wished she’d had time to put on another combat helmet. But she didn’t feel like she had a moment to lose and was already aiming the energy projector as she fell.
She fired a full blast, clipping the dragon’s wing. The wing disintegrated and the dragon bellowed with pain. May checked her speed with the cinch, slowing her speed dramatically just in time to avoid the second wing cutting through her. As it was, the rope below her was sheared off. Her speed wasn’t slow enough and she slammed down into the ground, legs snapping awfully. She wanted more than anything to stop the transfer of pain, but if she did that it would interfere with her motor functions as well and she needed those.
Quickly setting the projector to a lower setting she blasted the dragon twice more. The first one hit it in the wing that had swiped by and sent the monster spinning around and the second caught it on its uninjured leg. The dragon collapsed onto its forearms and tried to whip its head back around towards her as she blasted it in the face. The energy caught it full on and May could tell the creature was struggling to stay conscious. It shook its head uncertainly and then gasped in pain.
It rolled over, clawing at its chest before finally giving up and falling back, unconscious. May watched it warily in confusion as a small part of the massive beast’s chest broke out and two dark arms pulled themselves through. Did she eat Patrick too? But as they gained clearance they began to change. Acid ate away the rock, leaving only muscle and bone. The molten streams changed to blood and the head that emerged had more skull showing than flesh. The face that was beneath was clearly not Patrick’s, pale skin reforming before her eyes.
Jared looked at her hesitantly, then put a finger to his lips. He doesn’t want Mirkov to know he can copy Patrick’s ability. She wondered if the cameras had caught it. If only seen from a distance, he might be able to claim it was just blackened flesh and acid. I guess it’s good I didn’t put on the helmet after all. The dragon shifted and she brought the energy projector back up on instinct, ready to fire again in an instant. But the dragon wasn’t stirring, just shrinking. Slowly it shifted back into the woman it’d come from, naked and now torn.
The wound Jared had crawled from was now small, but bleeding profusely, as was one on her leg. The other had a burn mark on it from where she’d hit it with the energy projector, as did her face. Her breath came softly in shuddering spurts. She heard sirens nearby and turned to see a medical vehicle coming into the area. No doubt Mirkov already had one standing by.
As the medics rushed to the fallen woman’s aid, Patrick burst through a nearby wall. Or what was left of it. He could have just walked through one of the holes a few feet to either side of where he burst through.
“Aw hell, I miss the party?” he asked.
“Sorry man,” Jared said hoarsely. “Host came down with a terrible case of heart burn.” May laughed at that and both boys suddenly stared at her as if she’d sprouted a second head.
“Ummm, few questions. One, didn’t she kill you? Or your clone…thing. Two, I just hear you laugh? Like…for reals? Three, why Jared naked? We gotta get this boy pants.”
May glimpsed over at Jared who blushed and moved to cover himself the best he could. She could see he was also still in a considerable amount of pain, bits of acid still burning into him. She felt a tad guilty because now that she had no need for fine motor skills she’d turned off most of the feeling sent from her surrogate. She wondered if a quick dowsing in baking soda would help clean off the acid so he could fully heal. No doubt he would be famished as well.
“Long story,” she said, voice still much softer than she would have liked. “How about you come back to base and we’ll talk about it over food after you get cleaned up. See you in a bit.” This surrogate might not be dead, but it was certainly trashed and she needed to start work on another one. She aimed the energy projector at her head and was pleased at the startled look the boys had. They’d seen her do this a couple of times, but it still shocked them to watch her dispose of a surrogate like this. She retracted as much of her consciousness as she could before pulling the trigger.