“Hey, R8PR, you wanna give me a hand with these guys?” I ask.
“Fresh out of hands,” he replies.
“I didn’t even realize the pun until I said it.”
All sorts of men begin climbing the table to attack me from all directions. The Ascendants, the men and women in gray cloaks, are already bolting up and fleeing the conference room.
And, in my infinite wisdom of instinct, the first thing I think to do is kick R8PR’s head like a soccer ball and jump in the opposite direction. Why is my instinct always to run?
I land on the floor, right between two Ascendants–
One is a bald man with one eye and a scar across the other. He looks like a Nazi officer in a bad World War II movie–
The other is a man I recognize instantly. It’s Kendrick Deal, the former City Council member of the New Hope Party, the same man who was hacked by the Social Media Killer and arrested on corruption charges.
“You,” I can’t help but saying.
They’re already running away, but there’s more Ascendants nearby.
“BEGONE!” a hazy, decrepit voice screams. I turn around and just barely avoid being hit by a knife thrown at my face.
Shit, what the hell is this thing? Is that a man?
This ancient relic, looking more like a mummy than a human being, advances at me with a scowl on what’s left with his face. He throws another knife, which misses me wildly and hits one of the guards behind me.
This man reaches out his ragged hands to me and lets out a guttural scream. “You cannot defile us!”
I backflip back onto the table and shove a robot off. It falls next to the old man and, in shock, he falls to the ground.
Blyth jumps up on the table, and that’s the cybernetic cherry on top of the ice cream that is the swarming masses of humans and robots trying to kill me.
“Let me guess, the Blade Runners freed you?” Blyth asks.
“I sure beat the shit out of that Dragon guy,” I say. “He really your best?”
“He was a failed experiment. The frontlines to our holy war.”
“I’m gonna ignore that you just said that.” I elbow a guy trying to sneak up on me and then grab his taser wand and shoot it at Blyth. He blocks the electricity away with his fist. Oh yeah, Mr. robot man.
“For how remarkable you are, it’s a shame you’re going to end up a blood splatter.” Blyth pumps his fists, the sleeves of his cloak ripping off and literal steam rising from the heat sinks inside. His metallic arms shimmer in the bright light above. The guards and soldiers around me back off, mostly trying to help the other Ascendants flee or staying to see how this goes down.
The brawl begins.
R8PR, perched perilously at the edge of the table and unable to do much but roll back and forth, shouts, “You’re not going to beat him in a fistfight, Morgan. What are you thinking?”
“A fistfight– Oh, right, I have magi-knives.” I reach to my back to pull out Jones’s knives, then activate them. Their purple electric zing gives me a nice cool glow.
Blyth advances at me, slowly, deliberately. I take a step back and strafe around him.
I… have no idea how to use knives in a fight. I brought knives to a fistfight. What the hell amd I doing?
Also, that unspoken guarantee of a one-on-one is immediately broken when one of the goons at the table tries to grab my leg and pull me down. I slice open his arm with the knife and he lets out a devastating scream as he’s shocked off the table.
“What do I do? What do I do?”
“Don’t ask me,” R8PR says. “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. Figure it out yourself.”
With Blyth almost within striking range, and those shiny metal arms glittering like sharpened swords, I have to think fast, I have to–
“Morgan! Over here!”
That’s… Oh, I’m an idiot. Jones, over in her cage, is screaming to me. There’s about a billion guys between me and her, but if I’ve learned anything from the past year and a half being a hero, it’s that I’d rather face a hundred panicked mooks than one–
–one really skilled jerk.
Blyth had launched a punch the second I leapt away, and I missed it with so little room to spare that I notice front of my pants have been torn from the sheer force. The conference room table literally splits in half, with R8PR’s head flying into the air like a rock on a see-saw.
Instead of landing and continuing to fight the billion guys around me, I’m taking an easier route, kicking each person whose head is unlucky enough to be in distance of my foot, and staying midair until I close the distance between me and that cage. That is– until someone grabs my ankle and pulls me down.
I break off from the guy’s grip and land feet-first, but now I’m surrounded. Surrounded… with electric knives. Oh yeah.
Time to swing my arms wildly and hope I hit something!
I don’t think this is a viable combat strategy! But it’s working so far!
These guys were probably trained in combat for years. Maybe fought in the military, even. But they are no match for an amateur who has no clue how to fight correctly.
A man gets hopeless enough to throw his baton at me, which I volley back. It collides with his head and knocks him out.
Watch John McClane do THAT.
Here I am, in front of the cage. Here I am, cutting the cage bars in half with one electric strike. Here I am, wrestling Jones out of chains and helping her to her feet.
“Thank you,” Jones says.
I get the first clear look at Jones since I found out she alive.
She was hurt bad in the attack at the church.
Her left eye’s swollen to uselessness, and there’s bloody gashes across her face. Her hoodie is charred and torn, exposing more of her than would be good for a life-and-death fight. Her right arm’s covered in barely treated burns, and her hair’s been singed in various places. All of this, though, and she looks as determined as ever.
“I think these will go better with you,” I say, handing the magi-knives back to their rightful owner. She takes them.
Her right arm shakes and she quickly drops that other knife. I almost say something, but she interjects with, “I only need one to kill that bastard.”
“Or, uh, seriously maim.”
“Whatever you say, Morgan.”
Right behind me, in front of the cage, is the shaking of a very heavy-set individual. Although I think heavy-set is a little misleading of a term when all your body weight comes from being half-machine.
Blyth attacks again, volleying two powerful punches that miss and hit the cage. The cage is thrown backwards and crashes against the nearest wall.
“You still have your healing powers, right?” Jones asks.
“I can’t heal from death.”
“Then let’s not die.”