The stealth copter’s whisper was quiet enough that Jared could barely hear Patrick’s proclamation as they flew by. He winced at the cliché, but was impressed that Patrick had figured out how to use his powers to fly and even more impressed that he was aiming for Tasha’s weak points. All the same, he was nervous about getting past such a huge monstrosity, especially now that it was thrashing around in agony, blinded in one eye. The copter was flying low to the ground now, no one eager for a several dozen story fall if Tasha hit them out of the sky.
“You think he’ll really be ok?” May asked him. Jared thought a moment and then nodded.
“Patrick likes people underestimating him. I was never huge into sports, but when you’re best friends with one of the top players you see a lot of games, and the thing about Patrick is he never loses. But he always won by just a touchdown or two. Any time he got too ahead he’d slip up, just a little bit, just enough to make it less obvious how good he really is. Same with the way he talks, making people who don’t know him think he’s just a big fool. But he’s not. She’s big, but she’s also slower. The only thing quick about her actions in this form is the tail and Patrick handled that first. Her vulnerable points are also all much larger. Hard for someone with the precision of our star quarterback there to miss. She was actually a lot better match for a person with Patrick’s talents when she was the size of a regular dragon.”
“How do you know she was the size of a regular dragon before? Got a lot of experience with dragons, huh?” May teased him. Jared chuckled, muscles relaxing slightly. His tension didn’t leave him completely though.
“Heh, no, suppose not. Point being, she thinks she’s fighting some stupid little gnat, not a calculating powerhouse. Hard to call it given her sheer power, but if he says he can handle it then I have faith in him,” Jared replied. She nodded, accepting his assessment.
“Good. But something that size is going to attract attention quickly,” May said. “Black Rain may not even still be in the mansion. They could have set this up to draw the army here and get Grey Snow wiped out by the Consolidated States’ military. Well, whatever’s left after Tasha gets through with them.”
“No,” Jared said. “That’d be a good plan. But I… it’s hard to explain. I feel like something in the mansion is trying to watch me. I think my powers are reacting to Alan’s. They’re definitely in there, and they know we’re coming.”
“Definitely,” Good Sight said from the front. “There’s been a guy standing on… well, I think it used to be the fourth floor but there’s not much left of it. Anyways, he’s staring right at us now, holding up a sign. I can’t read your language though. Your eyes good enough to see what it says?”
Jared went up by Good Sight and looked through the window. He could barely make it out, but they were still getting closer and it came into focus. Come and play?
“We close enough to the Mansion for you, May?” Jared asked. She nodded and they stopped for a second. She first lowered a large silver case from the copter that was about her length but a few times greater around. Then she dropped down on the rope herself. “Be careful!”
“My real body is hundreds of miles from here surrounded by so many booby traps even Kevin Knight couldn’t sneak in and kill me again,” she said. “I’ll be fine. Just try not to die yourself, okay?”
“Not sure I could even if I wanted to!” he said. He gave her a smile and the helicopter started towards the roof again. Jared braced himself for a possible crash landing in case the man on the roof’s sign was a ruse, but he made no move to attack. Even as they came to a stop he just stood there calmly, looking incredibly professional in his black suit with a well-constructed blue tie.
Not sure that’s a good sign. Mirkov said that Alan would also have an idea of what our powers were capable of, not just know that we’re coming. He would have told his underlings this as well, so either this guy is an arrogant prick or he’s so strong he doesn’t think there’s a point in taking us by surprise. Maybe we should use the machine guns? He knew the problem with that though was the same reason that they couldn’t just missile the mansion. Krieg was in there somewhere and that sort of firepower might rip through the building to his location. That kid continues to be a pain.
“Welcome to my friend’s humble home, or what’s left of it anyways,” the man said with a commanding voice. “I’m Alistair King, though you may also know me as Black Rain’s Sword and Shield. I would like to extend to you a one-time offer to leave this place. As much fun as it would be to fight you under normal circumstances, in my current state there is no way you could beat me and it gives me no joy to kill my own kind.” Interesting that someone whose last name is King is Black Rain’s ultimate Knight, Jared observed. Makes for a strange metaphor. Guess you could argue he’s more of a rook. Ok, maybe the Knight siblings get to play as their namesakes then. Eh, whatever.
“Dah, you think you so strong you beat us like liddle children?” Cracker asked, stepping forward. “We won’t run away from tiny man like you.” Don’t know who he’s calling tiny. Alistair’s got to be at least half a foot taller than him.
“Shame,” Alistair said. “I guess you’d best come at me then.” He waved a hand towards himself lackadaisically.
Cracker rushed forward despite Jared’s attempt to warn him not to. He slammed his hands into a barrier that Jared couldn’t see, though it lit up as a golden light when Cracker’s fists hit it. Cracks began appearing in the barrier, widening as they went. Alistair’s shield shattered apart within a couple of seconds.
Jared realized what Alistair was about to do and raised the pistol he’d been equipped with. But Alistair had positioned Cracker between the two of them and he couldn’t get a clean shot. He considered firing anyways, certain Cracker was already dead.
“I’m impressed. Even boosted, you destroyed my shield in a single attack,” said Alistair jovially. But you didn’t realize how close you were to me, or how far my range is. I’m an Olympic level fencer with invisible energy blades. Did you really think you could just rush me and live?”
The only response Cracker could give was a coughing spurt of blood. Both of his hands were hanging by a thread, blood gushing out of the severed wrists. Alistair had cut them to keep Cracker from using his powers while Alistair gave his victory speech. A faintly glowing blade thrust out of Cracker’s back, blood sizzling off of it, turning into steam. The blade faded and Cracker’s body slumped to the ground.
Jared didn’t hesitate a second, firing off his entire clip at Alistair. The bullets ricocheted out of the air. All Jared could see were faint movements from Alistair’s hand and a golden glow whenever they hit his energy swords.
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. He’s so fucking fast! Jared’s mind was racing and he tried to force himself to think more orderly. *No wait, he can’t be predicting the movements that accurately, but he’s still stopping all the bullets. Given their trajectory, I don’t think his shield has regenerated. He’s just controlling multiple swords at once. They have no mass, so it’s not like multiple ones burden him. He’s got a weave of them going to deflect projectiles away from his body. * Jared realized Alistair was making no move to attack him.
Jared had a thought and shot out a burst of Patrick’s flames from his palm. The beam of flame hit a swirling vortex of blades surrounding Alistair’s person, causing them to glow orange with the heat. Jared tried to increase the pressure, but it was no use. The flames just swirled around him harmlessly, engulfed by the energy of his swirling swords. Jared finally gave up. Might be an effect of the boost, but right now his offense is just as effective a defense as any shield.
“At a bit of a stale mate, aren’t we?” Jared asked him. “On the one hand, you could dice me to ribbons with those blades of yours. On the other hand, if I regenerate from it then I’ll probably have your power. Doubt you’ll fair well against me then.” I have to figure out a way to get close enough so his swords cut me, but not so close that he can atomize me. If he’s able to expand the vortex by even a couple of feet then there might not be enough of me left to come back. Hell, I still don’t even know what would happen if he cuts my head off.
An alarm went off in Alistair’s pocket. He leisurely pulled his phone out of his pocket and swiped a finger across the smart phone. He looked a few degrees to his left and raised his hands. There was a flash and in the distance there were two explosions.
“Sorry about that,” Alistair said. “Really never gets old. Alan says to aim somewhere at a certain time and, when I do, shit just blows up. In this case I think it was a couple of military jets. They’ve noticed Tasha, I gather. Alan also mentioned at about this time that you would be trying to figure out how to steal my powers without me turning you into little slivers. He told me that if I allowed that you’d fail, but we’d both die. So he requested instead that I extend an invitation for you to join him inside and asked that I run other errands. Namely wiping out all of the incoming military forces while I still have my boost. It’s fine by me, since I have no real interest in killing you.”
When Alistair was done talking, he gained a faint glow as his swords arranged themselves behind him and glowed brightly. They became a shape Jared recognized and he let out a slight groan.
“You’re kidding me, angel wings? Couldn’t stick with keeping your swords invisible? Not sure how I feel about you bailing on our fight, but the wings are just cliché.” Jared told him.
Alistair shrugged and gave him a grin. “Got to keep it classy for the cameras, kid. All these fights are being broadcast across the world.” With that he leapt skyward, his energy hauling him upward. Jared thought about trying to use Patrick’s powers to try and jet after him, but thought better of it. As much as he hated to admit it, he wasn’t sure he could beat Alistair with his current powers. What was more, he had a sinking feeling after seeing Alistair take out the planes on command. Mirkov only knew about Alan’s ability to see other empowered and know what their gifts are. He’d speculated Alan’s powers could have grown since Mirkov left Black Rain, but this was straight up precognition. If Jared was facing someone who could see the future, was there any way he could win?