State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho
Gunfire rang out all around them, and Kruhl rushed forward on all-fours, springing into the Pygmy in a single bound. Amy hesitated only a second before following the other and slamming the door shut behind her.
“Hold on to your asses,” their rescuer said, pounding her foot on the gas and the old SUV lurched forward, rock-climbing tires squealing as it blazed a trail through the volley of bullets that rained down upon the ground.
Amy grabbed Kruhl by the front of her shirt, pulling her down and out of sight. “Stay down,” she hissed in her ear. “You’ll be dead real quick if one of those bullets hits you in the head.”
Amy doubted that the former warrior king had any idea what a bullet was, but as such things go, it was hard to mistake her meaning for anything but a warning of danger. Kruhl nodded, as the Pygmy’s engine roared, and their mysterious new friend took it out on the open road.
Amy craned her neck around, staring back as several police cars swerved out of the parking lot behind them in pursuit. She swallowed, staring at them, her jaw tight and a fire burning in her eyes.
She didn’t understand what happened, but her instincts told her she was being manipulated and she always trusted her gut. That being said, survival was her primary concern at the moment. Anything else would have to take a back seat.
Pygmys were many things, but they were not renowned for their speed. Their rescuer flattened the gas pedal against the floor, but the police still gained on them. If they were to escape, it would not be by outrunning their pursuers.
The agent focused all her will, extending her senses out. A bird flew above the car out of her range of vision, but she sensed it soaring on a pocket of air. It’s hunger was so palatable to her it seemed as if it were her own. It’s eyes pierced the clear blue sky seeking out it’s next meal.
A man stood by the roadside just a short distance away. His thoughts were easy to read. The chase brought a thousand wild different possibilities to his mind. Were they bank robbers or perhaps murder—
Amy shook her head and forced his thoughts out of her head. She had access to a new world of thoughts, feelings and impressions. She could spend days using her newfound abilities to pry at every little detail, but she would not allow herself to get distracted.
She focused her will on the foremost of the pursuing cars. Bracing herself, she reached inside the cab and pushed down on the brake pedal with her mind. The vehicle came to a screeching halt and the one behind it, unprepared for its abrupt stop, plowed into it, shredding through the bumper.
“Shit, how the hell did you do that?”
Amy blinked, regarding the woman, and massaged her temples, her whole head throbbing in pain. “I, uh, I—” She managed only a few syllables before she doubled over, the world beginning to spin.
Kruhl touched her shoulder, but she had already drifted away. The driver licked her lips and cursed under her breath.
“Is she all right, I mean did she—” She left the question unfinished, but Kruhl seemed to understand.
Kruhl regarded Amy’s inert form sprawled across the passengers seat, turning her head, luminous eyes gleaming.
“She breathes,” the girl turned her gaze on the mysterious woman.
“Well, Andy’s not the only one with a few tricks up her sleeve.” She glanced at Kruhl, a toothy grin spreading across her face as she slid a hand free of the steering wheel, clasping it over her throat.
A dark morass rippled across her eyes until they turned a deep depthless black and an inky haze billowed out through the cracks between her fingers. It oozed out the windows, flowed along the side of the SUV and shot out until it spanned the length of the street and until it disappeared into the horizon.
Nothing was visible beyond the wall of dark mist. Even the red and blue of the police lights did not penetrate the haze, but the wail of their sirens was still audible. That too soon faded before dying away.
When she dropped her hands, the smoggy vapor continued spilling out between the cracks in her fingers and her eyes remained black.
The woman turned the steering wheel, veering off into an underground parking garage and shut the engine down, after finding a suitable parking spot.
“We’ll need to find another ride,” she offered as if by way of explanation her eyes returning to their previous emerald shade.
Again Kruhl only nodded, she sprang out of the vehicle, moving to help the other woman lift Amelia’s inert form from within the Pygmy. She had so many questions, but not regarding what the outside observer ignorant of her background might suppose. She came from a world where magic was commonplace and in which Sorceresses and Sorcerers regularly exercised their magics. The powers she’d just witnessed being wielded were impressive, but she had seen similar acts performed before.
No, the questions which most puzzled the former warrior king were, who chased them, how the strange boxy carriages within which they rode propeled themselves without some kind of beast of burden to pull them, and who was this woman that had come to their aid?
She did not press the woman for details, she would question her later when she was certain they were safe. Then, she narrowed her eyes studying woman’s lanky form, she would get some answers.
Sapphira Olivia Scott stopped massaging her temples and sank her teeth into her lower lip. A sudden flood of emotions washed across her like a heavy downpour. She stopped, closed her eyes, and planted one hand against the wall to steady herself.
“Amy,” she whispered her lover’s name. Though what she sensed were not actual thoughts, Sapphira was familiar enough with the other to know whose mind she’d touched. Fear, anger, and grief came rolling into her on a tide that threatened to pull her under.
“Liv?” A voice spoke out and she snapped her eyes back open. Hailey had her hand on Sapphira’s shoulder and the exemplar bit the inside of her cheek, peering at the girl who, despite all evidence to the contrary, was her granddaughter.
They appeared close to the same age, though most would guess that Sapphira was a few years older. They were both attractive, but that was where any similarities ended. Sapphira towered over her granddaughter and possessed an hourglass figure the envy of so many others, while the other woman’s frame was slight, and though far from pale, she appeared quite ashen when she stood next to Sapphira with her chocolate brown complexion.
Not so long ago, Sapphira had gone by the name Everett Howard and had been well into her twilight years. Though she could never know if it was her intention, Ashtar gave her a new life and a younger body when she passed her powers onto her. Though it took some time for her to shed her old prejudices and accept the changes, it gave her the chance to reconnect with Hailey and win Amelia’s love.
“Liv!” Ashley repeated, echoing the first girl.
At first Liv had been Amelia’s own little pet name for her, but the other girl’s took a liking to the moniker and somehow it became the norm.
Both girl’s stood on either side of her and Jenn, Hailey’s girlfriend, positioned herself just a few steps away, twirling a finger through her long electric-blue hair, something she did when unsure what to do with herself.
“I-I’m fine,” she held up a hand to ward the three girl’s off, “but I think Amy might be in trouble.”
She regarded Jenn, and bit her lip, realizing she’d let something slip out she shouldn’t. Among them, only Jenn was ignorant of Sapphira’s true origins and powers, but back pedaling now would draw suspicion.
Jenn raised an eyebrow and pressed her lips together, but didn’t force the matter, instead folding her arms across her chest. It was Ashley that spoke next, casting a furtive glance at the other girl. “What do you mean?”
Sapphira regarded the leggy blonde, reminded of her origins that so closely mirrored her own. Ashley had once been a bit of a rival and sometimes ally, a super-powered bank robber with a penchant for rescuing ladies in distress who fancied Sapphira. Of course, that had been before she came to inhabit the body of the nubile young lady. Back when they first met she’d been a ‘he’ who’d been very proud of his African heritage.
Before she uttered a reply, the ring from an old-fashioned rotary telephone resounded from Sapphira’s pants pocket. Everyone froze, recognizing it at once as her ringtone. Without a word, she slipped one hand into her pocket to retrieve her Mittsuhoshi smartphone.
The number arrayed across the screen was not one which she recognized, but it had the same area code as Amy’s hotel. She doubted it was a coincidence that she would receive a call from the same region just moments after sensing such strong emotions from her life partner. She swallowed, swiped her finger over the display and put the phone to her ear.
At first, there no answer came, but then an ear-splitting screech sounded through the earpiece. A wave of dizziness washed over her and before she knew what happened, her head hit the floor. The last words she heard were the other women calling her name before the darkness swept her away.