4th & Main, New Hebron, California
Moments before the hybrid impacted Amelia, a black blur swooped in, and it slammed into Amelia. The car passed through both forms then spun, lurching away from the building into oncoming traffic. Tires screeched, brakes squealed and several vehicles swerved out of the way avoiding the Ante before it landed. As the smoke and dust cleared, Sapphira glanced back toward where the agent had been standing, he blinked and sucked in air. Amelia hadn’t moved an inch from her previous position. A figure, attired in black was disengaging his arms from around the agent’s slender form.
Babalawo, glanced back at Sapphira, a hollow look in his eyes and stepped away from the agent, knees bent and looking for all the world as if he was ready to spring into action.
Garos chest heaved, blue fluid oozing from the wounds on his legs where the car had impacted. He was bleeding Sapphira realized, the giant’s many eyes darted back and forth between all three exemplars, before he emitted another rumble. He looked ready to pounce, but before he did Amelia fired off a shot. The bullet hit an eye on the right leg, blue blood splattered the pavement.
“A half a dozen AEGIS cars are headed this way as I speak, they should be here any second. Each vehicle is packed with agents and they’re all armed to the teeth. If you attack now, you might kill us all before they get here, but you’ve already seen what my friend here can do. Even if you’re successful, you’ll have every law enforcement officer in the city, AEGIS or otherwise rearing to gun you down.”[Another unforeseen factor. I must make new computations.] The giant, lurched forward, leaping high into air clearing the street and the cars and people that populated it with a single bound. The creature landed atop a distant roof and leaped away one more time before disappearing from view. He briefly appeared again, his massive frame rising above the cityscape before falling back out of sight.
Satisfied that he was out of danger, Sapphira let out a long sigh of relief before his concentration slipped, his shield wobbled and folded in on itself before dissolving into the air. He looked to the agent and other exemplar. Babalawo frowned and eyed him. The agent didn’t even look into his eyes. She scowled and holstered her weapon, glancing back behind her shoulder.
“More AEGIS personal should be along any minute to retrieve you. Try not to run off, this time,” Amelia said between gritted teeth. To Sapphira her emotions were raw, still fresh from the sting of their previous confrontation.
Sapphira bit his lip and nodded, but didn’t say a word. He closed his eyes and let out another long breath of air. The darkness closed in and he welcomed the deep slumber that followed. Before he faded away into the darkness, he felt a hand touch his shoulder. He gasped, and his eyes snapped open. Awẹ́ had locked gazes with him
He was skirting the edges of unconsciousness, he couldn’t lift a finger let alone reach out with his mind which meant he had to rely on facial cues to determine the other exemplar’s intent. He creased his lips in a frown, but it was hard to read his expression since he still wore the mask.
“Why’d you do it, old man?” Babalawo asked, sitting atop the pavement and hugging his knees to his chest.
“W-what?” Sapphira blinked shaking his head. It was clear Noah, had told his son about his identity, but his head was throbbing and was having a difficult time processing the words.
“Why’d you run off? Why didn’t you finish him?”
“I-I,” he said and closed his eyes fighting to focus. “I thought I wanted to kill him, but when I looked into his mind I…”
He panted for breath and was drifting off again. The hand on his shoulder shook, hard, and his eyes snapped open again. “Speak, dammit!”
Sapphira shook his head and fighting to remain awake. “I, uh, had this picture in my head. I’d convinced myself that he was a, he was a…” Sapphira paused, his head pain, growing to such levels he thought he’d pass out, but then it subsided and he was able to force himself to continue. “convince… myself that he was a monster who deserved to die, but then… then I realized that we were more alike than I’d supposed. Clara’s death was an accident, he was just trying to fend for his family. What he did… it wasn’t right, but I couldn’t bring myself to kill him. I would have become the monster.”
Babalawo nodded and smiled down at him an expression that seemed to belie what he said next. “He turned himself in, said it was time he paid for what he’d done. It might kill him, getting arrested, he’s in rough shape, but…” He paused biting his upper lip, “I didn’t even try to stop him. I admired the hell out of my old man. His condition was the reason I started robbing banks, to help pay for his bills. When I found out he was a murderer, it fucked me up good in the head.”
Sapphira grunted, but didn’t say a word still struggling to remain conscious. That didn’t stop Awẹ́ from continuing. “I can’t forgive you for what you did, but I understand. I might have done the same thing in your place.”
“Why did you come?” Sapphira croaked out the question.
Sapphira sensed Amelia approaching and turned his head in time to watch her kneel beside Babalawo. Awẹ́ glanced at her and shook his head. “The Agent here, upon hearing of my father’s arrest, did a little digging. She figured out my identity. She’s offering leniency for my help.”
Sapphira glanced at Amelia, who scowled and look back over her shoulder again. “They’re here.”
Sapphira who was barely aware of those that surrounded him had neither seen nor heard the AEGIS car pull up. Amelia turned to leave, but somehow Sapphira managed just enough strength to grab the fabric of the agent’s jacket.
“Amy… I-I,” he whispered, but could never finish. The darkness closed in and he couldn’t hold it at bay any longer.