I floated in place for a time, nursing my burnt scalp. Surveying the horizon, I could see no incoming jets. It was not in me to allow the pilots to die, so I collapsed their chutes, then mentally carried them back into the habitat with me. Setting the bulky metal chairs down on the beach, the terrified men unbuckled themselves and stumbled free.
Only their first shock. The second came when the residents of Cloud Nine arrived to greet them. Prolonged, tiresome screaming followed. I held them in place so they couldn’t simply run, and when they finally realized we meant them no harm, they settled down somewhat. My sole obligation to them fulfilled, I again took off and headed back towards the city. No longer concerned as I was when I left with returning before my parents woke up, now instead determined to set right a grievous wrong I’d only just learned of.
The flight back was short, in part because I’d now completely mastered the ability. By forming a shield of suspended air ahead of myself and shaping it into a cone, I could reduce drag considerably and spare myself some of the discomforts of high speed flight. I anticipated more jets as I approached the hospital. Instead, five uniformed figures took off from the structure and flew towards me, apparently intent on confrontation.
Their own platoon of deviants. I might’ve known. Three women and two men, heads bulging, forehead veins pulsating. Dressed in a form fitting one piece black outfit, perhaps designed for aerodynamics. Fresh from my victory against the fighter jets, I went in with too much confidence.
The first tried to seize me, I countered with equal and opposite force, then projected an arc of blue lightning from my head to his. He screamed, and his grip relented. So I intensified mine around him. Two of the women swooped in and blind sided me. It sent me tumbling down towards the cloud layer.
On the way, something occurred to me. I let myself fall, assuming they were under orders to recover me, else they wouldn’t follow. They did. Once in the cloud layer, I suddenly accelerated downward towards the black sea. I could perceive them far above me, descending more cautiously. Ample time.
Teasing the ravenous black jelly, it formed a tendril. As before it surged upwards in desperation. I guided it directly to a particular spot in the underside of the cloud layer where the others would soon emerge, then abruptly took off at a sharp angle. The tendril seemed to sense the five before they sensed it. I could hear and feel their agony as it absorbed them. Four of them, anyway.
I rose back above the cloud layer and searched the sky for the remaining deviant. I could sense him, but he was disrupting my efforts to precisely locate him. No matter. With the playing field now leveled, I made a beeline towards the hospital, a single all consuming objective on my mind. If he meant to stop me, he made no motion to. More likely trying to save his friends, or himself.
I alighted on the landing deck of the hospital, crackling little fingers of blue electricity radiating from my now mostly bald head. An astonished EMT peered out the back of his medical ionocraft at me. “Take off and leave this place.” I instructed. Without any questions, he did. I lifted off slightly, hovering just above the floor, feet dangling as I floated towards the entry.
Security guards approached, weapons drawn. I melted the weapons, guards screaming in pain, waving their flaming hands about. “No further”, a voice boomed from behind me. I turned to look. It was the surviving deviant. Hatred in his eyes, understandable given what I’d done with the others.
“It’s monstrous to keep them here. To feed off of them, even to keep us aloft.” His face twisted up in disgust. “The empty words of one who would betray the Founder on behalf of circus freaks. They will die as soon as I finish with you.” I was about to ask him and what army when I noticed the sky was gradually filling with jets behind him.
Launched the moment I’d destroyed the first three, no doubt. I searched for some other way. Finding none, I blasted off from the landing deck so hard as to leave a modest crater in it and collided with the other deviant mid-air. We traded blows, backed not by muscle power but force summoned from our minds.
When he landed a fist on my cracked rib, I tumbled backwards spewing blood. The most intense pain of my life. I closed my eyes, looked within myself, found the rib and re-attached it. As simple as re-establishing the atomic bonds. While I was in there, in the precious few seconds as he looked on in confusion, I stopped the internal bleeding and released a substantial quantity of adrenaline into my blood.
It’s a hell of a drug. I fought with the wide eyed rage of a madman. He only blocked, biding his time until the jets reached us. The moment they did, all of a sudden I found myself the target of several hundred heat seeking missiles. Spiraling towards me, billowing white exhaust plumes trailing behind. The other deviant receded into the distance, a sinister grin on his face.
I closed my eyes, and tuned all of it out. The first order of business was to lower my body temperature. Not too much or I’d pass out and fall like a rock. But enough that the missiles could no longer identify me. Grappling with so many discrete objects at once was new to me, and I had precious few seconds left in which to do anything.
I work best under pressure. Turning their fins in unison, I redirected their paths. Doubling back around in wide loops, now converging on a rather startled, black uniformed deviant. He might’ve outrun them if he’d realized what I was doing sooner. He also managed to either detonate or cripple most of them before they reached him. But not all.
The six remaining missiles intersected, crushing his body between them a split second before he was vaporized by the intense heat and pressure of their exploding payloads. I burst into laughter as I sailed effortlessly between the wayward jets, their confused pilots failing to keep a bead on me.
I landed on one of them, then rode crosslegged on the wing for most of a minute before the pilot noticed. It’s a shame their helmets and respirators don’t permit a clear look at their faces. Dancing through the sky, cartwheeling, ejecting pilots from their aircraft and steering missiles into one another.
Quite like a fireworks show, I imagined, for those watching from the platforms. They’re always over too soon. I simply ran out of missiles and jets, hanging still in a sky peppered with the residual black clouds where missiles had exploded. Against that backdrop, the white parachutes of ejected pilots drifting lazily with the wind. I guided them all carefully to whatever platform was nearest and, once satisfied they’d landed safely, made my way into the hospital.
The televisions were blaring warnings of a dangerous terrorist assaulting the city. I wondered who they could mean, but only for a moment. Too delicious. There was my face on the screen, no doubt to the consternation of my family. I’d broken an oath. But I didn’t know then what I know now. Once they understand, I reasoned, they will forgive me.
I floated lazily down the hospital corridor, flinging guards about like ragdolls, separating the atoms comprising their weapons in a flash of light. Thin, gentle blue arcs radiated from my head, trailing along the floor, walls and ceiling as I sought my target. Along the way, I freed others like myself from their beds. Shredded the restraints, projected into their minds everything I’d learned so far, then invited them to help.
Soon, we numbered two dozen. I directed the rest to explore the facility, freeing whoever they could find. Soon I heard distant screaming, ineffectual gunfire and explosions echoing down the corridors. My boys, doing their good work.
Finally, I arrived at the row of steel spheres. To one side, an immense security door that looked designed to withstand high explosives. I focused a blue arc into a narrow beam until the steel began melting. Then cut through the bolts and hinges, and knocked the door in.
Stay Tuned for Part 9!