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   Chapter 59

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 11398

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


The door hits the ground and Owl glides in. I“m still limp, the images still blazing by in an awful haze. The nightmares, this fate. The room is all marble, circular and wide enough to pack a couple hundred or so people inside. It looks like a sort of modern cathedral. The huge statue of the dead heroes clamoring over the constitution of statehood sits in the center. "Owl, Mom." I make my voice as urging as I can without it becoming a whine. How quick I went from having no moms to two of them. "Here we go again. Let Juniper go. And Gats. Please."

There are people in the room. They have rifles. That“s all I really notice about them, that and the badges on their shoulders. Police of some kind. Maybe paid guards. Juniper makes a wheezing gasp, smothered behind a gag. A handkerchief.

And Gats, he isn“t doing too well either. Thrown over someone“s shoulder, resistance less. Just a sort of limp puddle. My fingers twitch, balling into fists. He has claws. And he had a sword, too, but that he gave up without the semblance of a fight. My boiling blood rushes to my ears in a roar. "Actually, take that back. The part about Gats, I mean."

He makes an audible harrumph, almost lost in the sea of voices. The officials with the rifles hiss into their walkie-talkies, their voices crackling through the empty hall. They shout commands. None of them are obeyed. The people in black, the people in masks, they weave through the hordes and push them back against the wall.

Shots are fired. Sunlight pours through the open door, lighting the white paint and burning my eyes, like sunshine glinting off snow. Owl drops my wing. I spring up off my heels for a run, but she grabs my face. Her fingers dig into my temples and cover my eyes. "This is not for you to see," is all she says. But hearing is enough. Screams cut off at once. The deafening staccato blast of rifles. My ears ring, high and loud enough that it“s painful, but I can still hear bones snapping. Tendons popping.

My heart doesn“t only seem to clench, it explodes. This isn“t like the comics, where the bad guys punch a few people and “boom“ and “splat“ splash across the next couple of panels. Good people are getting hurt. Good people are dying. "Stop it, please! Can“t you just tie them up? Knock them out?" You know the situation is bad when this is what you“re begging your mother, instead of, say, “Stop embarrassing me in front of my friends!“

"Would you behave?" Her words are clipped and cool. So casual, when she“s placing so many people“s fates in my shoulders.

"Mayday," I hear someone hiss behind me, even though that“s probably not the correct terminology you use in a supervillain fight. I think that“s reserved for dogfights. But the words leave me in a gush.

"Yes, yes, yes I would. Totally, as long as you don“t kill these people!" My hands are up, not in a guard, but in a surrender gesture, the chains clinking between my wrists as they pull taut. The reek of blood is unmistakable. I fold forward, limp like a flour sack as if to prove my point. "Please?" I add, because that sounds behaved enough to me.

"Very well." She grips my temples a little tighter, just enough for me to wince. I breathe deep. Try to keep calm though I“m willing to do anything, anything to make her stop her tirade. It“s one thing to hunt down a few super-tough kids who can spare a few spokes of their lives, another

Mayor Curtis, but Angelos must make me a barrier first."

I frown. "A what?"

"A barrier. With your power." She flings the door open. It“s the Mayor“s personal office. Dark, rich brown shelves and a liquor cabinet pushed up against the wall. A striped blue couch in the middle of the room, and a wall of windows. The sun burns my eye, the capitol so low it only looks out upon other balconies. One crisp, dry white feather sits on a shelf in a plastic frame, too long for any bird I“ve ever seen.

My throat goes dry. "I-I don“t know how."

"Well, figure it out! Luna did." She snatches me by the wing and drags me out of the room. I bite my lip hard. Gats and two guards follow, their heads bowed. Owl scrutinizes them, narrow-eyed, then, at last, throws up her hands with a grunt. I try not to yelp. "For the love of heroes!" She throws me out onto the balcony and I hit the rails. There“s a little glass table with white flowers, and I stare at the silky petals, clutching my chest for breath. "This is what you were made for. You and your father."

Gats leans back, his fists gripping emptily for something, his sword perhaps. He sees me. His ears flatten and he squints out a wilted fern on the opposite balcony. And believe it or not, I feel jealous of that stupid plant.

"No one explains these things to me." I shrug. Yawn. Inside, I want to scream. The panic“s rising, rising like madness that could make me tear the skin off my face. "How am I supposed to do this stupid thing when you don“t even tell me—"

"Figure it out," she repeats, flicking an eye back toward the capitol. "Have a force field up around this city before I find Curtis. Do that or an officer dies."

"Oh, thanks, Mom." I toss a strand of hair out of my eyes. It“s the best pass at “cool“ I can make, my heart beating so hard that“s all I can even feel, the pressure in my chest like it“s being crushed from the inside. "No pressure or anything."

Her hair tossed over her shoulder, she leans back on her heels, flicking dirt off her armor. "Watch him," she says to the followers, who bow in turn. Gats whistles and she snatches him by the wrist. I watch as she slides the door open and slams it behind her, Gats dragged along for the ride.

Oh, heavens. What am I going to do?

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