On the road New Hebron, California
Tires squealed and the occupants of the armored truck braced themselves. The only one who seemed unaffected was Indigo Knight, and that was, no doubt, more the work of his armor than anything else.
Only a handful of the exemplars were capable of flight and while Sapphira’s telekinetic abilities would have allowed him to propel the others, he wasn’t confident in his ability to keep them in the air long enough to reach their destination. So they’d all piled into the AEGIS vehicle instead.
He clenched his eyes shut, taking in a deep breath as his heart pounded away inside his chest. He sensed the other’s around him, and while most of them showed a calm facade Sapphira knew nothing could be further from the truth. Harrier the statuesque woman from the briefing room, Tennyo the Asian girl, and Borrum the bearded fellow had the feel of hardened veterans, tense and a little nervous with anticipation, but less worried than the others. Aether the man he knew as Gus, Indigo Knight, and the Equalizer were a different story. From them Sapphira sensed the same raw nerves and rising panic he himself was battling. Babalawo, just seemed sick.
Indigo Knight was considered a heavy hitter within the Exemplar community and had been in the public eye for close to ten years. It surprised Sapphira that he should radiate such unease when he had been around for so long. He turned his helmeted head matching gazes with Sapphira.
“Stage fright,” He said and turned away without another word.
Sapphira’s jaw dropped, but he didn’t offer a response. If Indigo Knight had known what he was thinking, it meant Sapphira was not the only telepath in the group. The funny thing was he’d never once heard mention of Indigo Knight having any powers. His feats were the work of his suit, a mechanical marvel that used technology that experts were still trying to understand. That there may be an actual super-powered individual under all that armor hadn’t occurred to Sapphira and nobody else.
He grunted, reeling sideways and almost went tumbling out of his seat. “Goddamn kids these days. Nobody knows how to drive a damn car.”
This statement raised a few eyebrows, but nobody in the truck said anything. Babalawo, glanced up at him, muttered something under his breath and cast his eyes back to the ground.
He held his hand out and reached out with his mind, he sensed the vehicle speeding through the street at a speed that seemed to belie the trucks massive size. The amount of power running through the engine was much greater than it should have been. There was a power source under the hood that seemed foreign unlike anything else he sensed on the surrounding road. Whatever technology was propelling the vehicle, it was no mere internal combustion engine or electrical motor driving the vehicle.
He lurched forward again, but this time he steadied himself, not with his arms or legs, but with the power of his mind. His head snapped into place and his whole body stiffened and settle against the inside wall of the truck. While the others lurched about, fighting to stay seated, Sapphira and Indigo Knight remained still.
The truck came to a screeching halt, and the occupants piled out. Awẹ́, was the last, and he shuddered stumbling out of the little truck, using one hand to steady himself. “I think I’m gonna hurl.”
Sapphira was the first to his side, he reached out with his senses, thinking perhaps he could heal whatever malady had befallen him, but stopped when he realized what it was. Babalawo had motion sickness from getting thrown around the truck.
“Just breath,” Sapphira whispered under his breath and sighed when the other exemplar slid to the ground and hunched over leaning against the bumper of the green AEGIS truck. He averted his eyes just in time to avoid seeing him vomit all over the ground in front of him.
“The man can walk through walls, but a little motion sickness is too much for him,” A voice mumbled somewhere behind Sapphira. He didn’t know for certain who had spoken, but it had belonged a man.
“I’ll be fine just give me a minute.” Awẹ́ rose to his feet panting and shaking.
Sapphira nodded and turned away, glancing around the street. There were no signs of Chemosh or Garos, but he was certain they would be close by.
He heard footsteps and turned to watch as Van den Broeke approached from down the street. She looked around, her eyes lingering on each person within the group before folding her arms and settling her gaze on Sapphira.
“Chemosh and his cohort have retreated into the Downing Building,” she threw a hand over her should toward a large skyscraper still under construction that only had some of its exterior walls completed.
Sapphira had heard about it once or twice on the news, the work of the eccentric billionaire Richard Downing Junior. Sapphira glanced at Indigo Knight and bit his lip. There were rumors that the two men were one and the same. The suit wasn’t something constructed in some back alley or a mechanics garage. It was too advanced. It would require a lot of money and resources to develop which someone like Richard Downing had in spades.
There were other theories about Indigo Knight, each of them more ridiculous than the last. Most of them seemed to involve an extra-terrestrial origin, but Sapphira had always thought they seemed just a little too convoluted. Then again, he never would have believed his own exemplar origin story if he hadn’t experienced it for himself.
He might have given the subject more thought, but it was of little importance to him at the moment. He gritted his teeth craned his neck up and eyed the structure with a shake of his head. Chemosh, tense with anticipation and seething with hatred, waited within.
Meeting the agent’s gaze of the agent, he swallowed hard. “Whatever we’re going to do, we better tread carefully. Chemosh is waiting for us.”
“GALLU!” The open wind carried on the open wind and the moment it sounded through the air Sapphira jerked his head around, seeking the source. The others did the same, casting their eyes about no doubt expecting an attack.
Amelia was the only one besides himself who knew what to expect. She drew her gun and the other agents on scene did the same.
“Agent, what’s going on?” A tall man with a shock of white hair demanded of Van den Broeke.
“Gallu. Be ready for an attack from partially corporeal being,” she answered back and nodded toward Awẹ́ “they can phase through solid matter, much like our friend there. They can only be killed when in their solid form. Needless to say, they don’t stay solid for long.”
“Shit, she’s not kidding,” Harrier muttered under her breath casting her eyes about.
As if responding to Amelia’s words, a full dozen of the creatures materialized from out of the building leaving a residue of green fluid on the exterior walls.
Indigo knight stepped forward and looked up at the building. “This will be fun.” He turned and met Sapphira’s gaze. “You take Harrier and Aether, we’ll keep them off your back. If what the agent says is true, you need to get inside that building before it’s too late.”
“No,” Amelia said with a grunt firing off a shot at an approaching Gallu and scowled as the bullet phased right through the creature. “Chemosh is the biggest threat. We need as many exemplars in that building as we can get. AEGIS personnel are more than capable of dealing with these creatures.”
“Babalawo,” Amelia said glanced toward the Aberrant and nodded toward the building. “How hard is it to bring other people with you when you phase through a wall?”
Awẹ́ glanced back at her with a shake of his head. “The more mass there is the harder it is to phase. I wouldn’t want to do more than one at a time. Someone might get trapped inside a wall or worse, fused into it,” he paused long enough to phase through a Gallu who had swooped in for attack, “believe me, that’s not a pleasant way to go.”
Amelia fired off three-consecutive shots at the Gallu that had attacked Babalawo. The first, slammed into its shoulder and it let out a high pitch screech. It phased through the second and thirds shots and the bullet that lodged in its shoulder clattered to the ground below it. Once it had returned to solid form, it dove forward straight toward the agent. Harrier stepped in front of her, extended her hands out and talons appeared from the tips of her gloves. She slashed at the creature, inflicting a set of deep gashes in its side. It screeched, and dove away.
“All right, Harrier, Aether and Indigo Knight, go with Psyren, and the rest with me.” She threw a thumb over her shoulder.
“It’s better if I stay outside the building, if Chemosh senses me, there could be trouble.”
Amelia frowned furrowed her brow, but didn’t press the matter. The Indigo Knight’s statement had sparked a suspicion within her, but so long as he didn’t get in the way, it wouldn’t be a problem.
“Liv,” Amelia swung her weapon around training it on the Gallu as it swooped closer and nodded to an unfinished area of the building several flights up. “You take your group in from up there.”
Sapphira nodded, bit his lip and rose into the air his cape billowing around him.
He sensed Harrier and Aether rising from the ground below. He glanced down and watched the pair move. Harrier held Aether in her arms, and while the man was thin and slender, he was only slightly shorter than average. Harrier, didn’t seem to even be breaking a sweat. Though she had an athletic build, she must have been stronger than she looked.
As he sped away, he senses dozens more of the creatures emerging from within the building. Indigo Knight and the AEGIS personal below would have a quite the fight on their hands. His whole body trembled, and his heart hammered inside his chest, but he would not allow himself to turn back, not now. He might already be too late.