State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho
Van den Broeke swallowed, her back to the wall and bit her lip, eying Rathdrum who’d taken a similar pose on the other side of the doorway.
The other agent shook his head, and Amy licked her lips. She’d emptied all of her first clip and most of her spare when firing on Shanderly, and it seemed that Carter was in a similar predicament.
“This could be it,” Carter said, his voice strangely calm as he turned his steel-grey eyes on her. “It’s been a pleasure serving with you Van den Broeke.”
“We’re not dead yet agent,” Amy cocked an eyebrow, a worn smile creasing her lips.
Though she saw no means out of their predicament, she would not voice her disquiet. They were trapped inside a room with only one exit and God knows how many armed assailants bearing down on them from without. It was a miracle they’d survived Shanderly’s attack, but she doubted they would defy the odds again. If she were to go down, it would not be without a fight.
She glanced back at Kruhl. The girl’s slight form was hunched down against the wall, golden eyes luminescing in the darkness. Though she returned her attention to the doorway, she pondered what the other must think. If she was from a more primitive world, as Amy suspected, she had seen nothing like their handguns.
Before she finished ruminating, the first of their attackers rushed through the door. Rathdrum downed him with a single shot to the head, but two more took his place. They were wearing full-body tactical gear and moved with the fluidity and ease of battle-hardened soldiers. Both agents opened fire, but while they downed a few, they were quickly outnumbered. Worse yet, they were out of ammunition.
Amy dropped her gun, and Rathdrum did the same a moment later, each holding up their hands in surrender. The foremost of the assailants held an arm up signaling the others to stop and reached up with both hands to pull off her face mask. Steel-blue eyes peered back at her, and Amelia’s breath caught in her throat. It was Gwyneth Avery.
“Amelia van den Broeke, Carter Rathdrum, you are under arrest for the murder of Thomas Shanderly.” She stated in a cold flat voice, without once glancing at the deputy’s corpse.
Avery glared down at them, hands on her hips. Her eyes were distant, seeming to look past them and into some distant horizon that only she could see. There was a glossy quality to them, as if she’d been drugged. It raised the shackles on the back of Amy’s neck, and she shivered with the realization that the older woman was being influenced.
Amelia did not speak, peering at the chief with lips pressed together in a thin line. The tactical gear she and her minions wore was a little too sophisticated for a Tondzaosha cop. It was of the type used by AEGIS personnel and big city SWAT teams. The semi-automatic rifle she bore went for around fifteen-hundred dollars, which was well outside the budget of a small-town police force.
“A little outside your jurisdiction, aren’t you chief?” Rathdrum demanded, glaring up at the woman. His eyebrows shot so far up his brow Amy thought they might disappear into his close-cropped hair.
The chief clenched her jaw, anger smoldering in her eyes. She lifted her weapon, and a flash of movement caught Amelia’s attention. A delicate form pounced on all fours, a shriek of rage emitting from the attacker’s throat. Before the chief opened fire, Kruhl was on her, fingers raking her face like claws.
Avery shrieked out a cry, so full of rage and hatred it wasn’t even recognizable as human, and grappled with Kruhl. Hands finding purchase on her shoulders, she flung the girl away with a second, louder howl.
She again raised her rifle, no doubt to fire on the girl, but Rathdrum was already moving forward, his larger frame intersecting the two combatants. He dove forward, but Avery’s finger had already squeezed the trigger. A barrage of bullets pummeled his mid-section, each landing home with a spurt of blood.
Amy cried out and ran forward. Gunfire rang through the air and she flung her palms out as if to shield herself. Everything froze in place, bullets stopping in mid-air, attackers standing so still they may as well have ben mannequins.
A new awareness bloomed within her. She didn’t just see and hear those around them, but felt them too. Every molecule, every cell within their attackers’ bodies registered within her awareness. The very walls themselves, having once seemed so flat and devoid, were teaming with life. Bacteria, germs, and other microorganisms swarmed across its surface oblivious to the massive entities that shared their space.
Bullets hung in the open air, frozen in place by Amelia’s will. She stood there peering down at her hands, realization at last dawning on her. She had experienced an awakening of sorts, the same kind that her lover had undergone. It was how she walked away without a single bruise after being thrown across the evidence locker, and, she added, it was what had caused her transformation all those months ago. She didn’t understand why it had taken so long for her powers to come awake, when Sapphira’s had lasted mere hours, but she was damn well going to make use of it. Now if she could just figure out how…
“What the—” Avery stopped leaving the sentence unfinished eyes locking onto Amelia.
Amy clenched her jaw, focusing all her will on the bullets, sensing the texture and weight of the metal with her mind. She closed her hand into a fist, and watched the projectiles fall, one by one.
She cocked her head, eyes never once leaving the chief, and cocked her eyebrows in challenge. In answer, Avery rushed forward, pulling a knife from her boot. Amy was ready for her. She threw out an open hand and sent her flying into the opposite wall. The impact produced a lout thump, and the other woman slumped to the ground unconscious.
Amelia extended her senses, feeling for signs of life in Rathdrum, thinking perhaps she might heal him as Sapphira had once healed her, but his heart was still.
Hot tears stung her cheeks as she rounded on the remain attackers, surging toward them, fury building inside of her. She took one step toward them, and they bolted for the doorway. The last to exit possessed enough presence of mind to slam the door shut as he departed. Not that it would be much of an impedance to Amelia in her present state, but she had other plans.
She fell to her knees at Rathdrum’s side. She didn’t check for a pulse, she needed no confirmation. Instead, she placed two opened hands upon his chest and closed her eyelids.
She reached out, extending her senses into his body, probing each of the bullet wounds, first drawing the projectiles free, then willed the flesh to mend, but nothing happened. She reached further, bidding his dying cells to do something, but they did not respond.
Her mind raced. Why wouldn’t it work? Was it because he was already dead, or was there too much damage? Or, she added her heart sinking as she considered the possibility, perhaps she did not possess the same ability set as Sapphira.
A weight touched her shoulders and she turned to peer into Kruhl’s strange luminous eyes. “He is dead,” the other woman whispered. “We need to leave before they return for us.”
Amelia nodded, slipped her hands over his still open eyes and closed them. “I’m sorry, Carter. I promise your death won’t be for nothing.”
She wrenched herself away, rose to her feet, a sob escaping her lips as she fought back tears. She shook her head and faced away from him, eyes scanning the door. The longer they stayed, the more likely their attackers would return, but could they dare leave through the hallway? It would be far too easy for someone to pick them off in such tight confines.
Clenching her teeth, the agent spun around on the balls of her feet, fist clenched at her side, decided on a course of action. She threw one hand out, sent a wave of telekinetic force toward the exterior wall and grunted from the effort. The sheetrock rippled and exploded with so much concussive force that it shook the whole room.
The agent threw her hand up to shield her eyes from the fragments of wood and sheetrock that came raining back on them and rushed forward, slipping through the opening before the dust had even settled. Kruhl followed in her wake, strange eyes scanning her surroundings.
They’d come out on the far side of the parking lot, splashes of red and blue colors illuminated the walls in the fading daylight. Police cars ringed the parking lot, and dozens of armed officers stood ready, weapons drawn.
Amy raised her open palm and swallowed hard, preparing for another attack. Kruhl ducked behind her, a low-rumbling growl coming from her throat. There was a moment of silence. The police froze, perhaps surprised by the odd duo’s sudden appearance.
At last a car horn sounded from the street beyond and a battered old Leland Quad bashed its way through the line of police cars and swerved toward the pair of escapees. The vehicle jerked sideway, tires screeched as it came to a halt, mere inches from Amelia. The passenger side door swung open, revealing the slender form of a woman in the driver’s seat.
“Get in!” she screamed, a hand reaching up to pull a sweat-drenched strand of hair from her face. Though her features were unfamiliar to the agent, she recognized her voice at once. It was the girl who’d warned her about Kruhl.