Cherry Springs Nature Trail
“Dammit, I didn’t mean now,” Amelia cursed, rushing after Alexandra as she moved through the opening.
Fredericks and Grimes came in on her heels and Harrison wasn’t far behind. Just before Van den Broeke made it through, the hole shimmered and retracted. Fredericks leapt through, barely clearing the much smaller opening.
Grimes wasn’t so lucky, the barrier closed around his leg, severing it just below the kneecap. The agent screamed, shrieking so loud that Amelia winced and grated her teeth. Blood splattered the ground on both sides and oozed down the wall which crackled and sizzled wherever the agent’s vital fluid touched.
He collapsed to the ground with a dull thud, moaning and clutching at his severed limb. Fredericks collapsed to his knees, hands grappling with his belt buckle.
“What are you doing?” Alexandra demanded, finger sliding under the nosepiece of her shades.
“I’m making a tourniquet. He’s going to bleed out and die if we don’t cut off the blood flow,” Fredericks answered between gritted teeth, sliding his belt from the loops with a single sweeping flourish of his arm.
Alexandra watched him work for several long minutes, her face an expressionless mask before she turned to Amy, a frown creasing her lips. “This is what Leoffa wanted, to isolate us and cut us off.”
“Why?” Amy asked, eyes never once leaving Fredericks and Grimes.
The tiny woman shook her head and frowned. “I don’t know, but if she’s confident enough to allow us in, it’s likely she doesn’t see us as a threat, or… she needs something from us.”
“I do not like the sound of that.” The agent winced and retrieved her gun from within her shoulder holster. She pulled the clip out, inspected it and slipped it back in place before peering back at the once-king.
To some carrying the weapon might seem pointless given the scope of her new abilities, but to the agent who was not yet confident with them, the familiarity of the weapon offered reassurance that she had yet to gain. At the very least, it could provide her with a backup should her powers fail her. She hadn’t toted it around all this time for nothing.
Fredericks glanced up at Amelia, Grime’s blood had stained his dress shirt and splattered his face, but with his suit coat acting as a bandage and his belt as a tourniquet the other agent stood a much better chance at surviving. “I can’t leave him like this. He’ll be an easy target to anyone who might come along.”
“Dammit,” Amelia cursed, slicking a hand through her mop of dark hair. “She wanted this and we walked right into her trap.”
“What’s our move?” Fredericks asked, craning his neck up to peer at her.
Amelia planted her hands on her hips and peered out through the barrier where the remaining AEGIS personnel and Ashley in her god-awful suit of armor had congregated.
“Ashley,” she spoke, but the suited figure remained motionless, peering into the glowing barrier.
“ASHLEY!” she repeated, cupping both hands around her mouth.
Ashley bit her lip and stepped forward, rapping her gauntleted fist against the sizzling wall. Nothing happened.
Amy clenched her jaw, threw her hands out, and extended her senses.
Before her the barrier was a shimmering luminescent wall of pulsating and thrumming power, but beyond it she sensed nothing. Brilliant explosions of energy exploded from her open palms, bursting with a brilliant flash of light each time one stuck the barrier, but her attacks only splashed against the surface.
Ashley opened fire from the other side, blasting the dome with a tiny canon that rose from the wrist of her gauntlet. A bright scarlet burst of light hit it, but that too proved futile. Several agents even pulled their weapons out and opened fire, but their bullets came ricocheting back toward them, forcing them to dive to the ground..
Amy ground her teeth and fell to her knees at Fredericks side, glancing down at Grimes huddled on the ground taking short jagged breaths.
“I could heal him,” Amy said, pressing her lips together in a thin line. “I doubt his leg would grow back, but at least the wound could heal over.”
“Didn’t you say the last time you tried something like that, you passed out?” Fredericks said.
“No!” Grimes cried, grabbing Amelia by the arm. “You get that bitch.”
Amy nodded and rose to her feet, balling both fists at her side. It looked like it was going to be up to her. She looked around for the once-king and found her a short distance away, staring at the barrier with wide-eyes. “You know any way of getting through that thing?”
Alexandra threw her head back and forth. “Perhaps, with Waldere I could do it, but…” she trailed off biting her lips.
“Then we find Leoffa, and we make that little bitch take it down.” Amelia regarded her, fire smoldering in her eyes.
Alexandra nodded. “It won’t be easy.”
“I wasn’t expecting it to be,” Amelia said, peering down the nature trail which sprawled through the trees behind them. “It doesn’t look like we have much choice though, does it?”
A low growl rumbled from Ashley’s throat and through the voice modulator in her helmet it came out sounding like the shriek of something straight out of every child’s nightmares. She clenched her fists and pounded them against the barrier, but other than a tingle which ran through the armor and across her arms, nothing happened.
“Fuck,” she cursed and spun away from the dome, staring back out toward the assembled AEGIS personnel. One man took a step back upon making eye contact with her, but she ignored him. As ineffective as her armor was against the shield, she doubted the others would be a lot of help.
She sighed, bowed her head and mumbled Nabu’s name. “Any ideas?”
“Indigo Knight once found success penetrating a force field by charging the exterior of his suit’s armor plating to match the energy signature of the shield. I can’t say whether it will work with a so-called magical barrier, but it might be worth a try.”
“What about bringing some of our friend’s through,” she asked, waving vaguely at the AEGIS strike team.
“That wouldn’t be advisable, unless you want to fry their flesh to a crisp,” the AI answered, his voice dull and dispassionate, but somehow was filled with sarcasm.
“All right,” Ashley replied, turned back to the shield and eyed it, both hands on either hip. “I don’t see that we have anything to lose. Let’s give it a shot.”
“Oh yes, very good,” Nabu replied. “Now you should feel a slight tingle…”
Ashley sucked air in, as stinging hot pin-pricks cascaded up and down her body. She gritted her teeth against the pain and shivered. The young woman reached a hand out and touched the shield, grunting as the sensation began rattling around inside her head. When she pushed, the barrier wouldn’t give. Forcing out short breaths, she tried to pull her hand back, but nothing happened.
“Fuck,” she repeated her earlier curse. “This is just great.”