Chapter 19

Loren listened as the same argument played out above him, but his mind was focused on the invisible appendage that was stretching about the room. Some form of exotic energy made up the limb—he stretched it out of his window and up towards the edge of the rooftop far above.

It made the journey easy, and he used his sense of proprioception to track how far it was from him, judging where the rooftop ended. He felt the fingers of the invisible hand lockdown on the railing, and the entire limb flexed.

Loren lifted himself out of his bed and into the air, hovering in the middle of his bedroom, the limb originating from between his shoulder blades.

Mark shouted something incomprehensible, and Emma returned fire equally as mad, as Loren used the limb’s strange properties to pull himself out of the window and then straight up—the world blurred for a moment, and his point of view was suddenly high above the city, looking down.

The invisible limb held him aloft, still gripping tightly to the rooftop. Setalite city stretched on endless beneath him, the sea of lights twinkling like stars in the concrete jungle.

“This is the run,” Loren said quietly.

He could see a black blur stride through the light of the streetlamp, and the headlights of a car flickered on in the car park. A matching pair of headlights suddenly appeared on the main road, as a truck flashed into existence in a blue swirl of light.

Mark tore out of the car park, moving far above the speed as Loren touched down on the roof of his apartment building. The truck started moving a fraction of a second later, gathering speed as it sped towards the intersection.

The invisible limb hovered over his shoulder, waiting, as the truck vanished behind a building for a moment. Loren stared unblinking at the road waiting—the front of the truck appeared moving so fast that he realized he might not be able to stop it in time.

Mark shot out across the intersection without looking, and the limb smashed into the back of his car with enough force to shunt it out of the way of the truck leaving finger distinct finger-shaped indentations on the back of his car.

The front of the truck swerved in an attempt to hit the back of his car but missed; instead of crashing into the side of the shopfront and glancing off back into the road—it rolled, skidding across the street for almost thirty meters before it stopped. Mark’s car spun, somehow managing to spin twice before coming to a halt in the middle of the street-facing away from the intersection, unharmed.

There was another flicker of swirling blue above one of the buildings near the intersection, and Loren stared at the familiar pair that appeared. The telekinetic man with the hoody and the guy with the sword—Loren slipped down behind the railing, just peeking over the top of it as they turned in his direction—thankfully, they hadn’t seen him.

The front door suddenly opened.

“Fuck.” Loren said, swallowing. “Don’t get out of the car—fuck!

Loren pushed himself into the air in an arc, and the hand twisted down, snatching Mark around the waist—he dragged him upwards as the man with the sword passed by, sword flashing white. The car, the road, and the lamppost were all cut in two with a screech of metal.

He dropped Mark on a rooftop and caught himself before he could smash into it, landing beside him.

“Two guys, telekinetic in a hoody, and a fast guy with a sword that cuts anything,” Loren said quickly, as Mark spun to face him. “Don’t try and block either.”

Loren pushed himself into the air, and Mark sprinted to the edge of the roof in a split second, far faster than he had ever seen the man move, before suddenly leaping high into the air. The building below them shattered under an invisible force, dust and debris scattering everywhere.

Mark touched down, and the man with the sword ran straight up the wall after him, flipping over the railing and onto the roof. The two vanished into a burst of movement that he had no chance of following, and he felt the loss of his most recent power like a phantom ache in his chest.

Loren let the limb coil outwards into the air, stretching seemingly endlessly, and he felt that same pressure that preceded the other man’s telekinesis as it washed through the air towards him, touching on the surface of the limb.

It snapped down, touching the rooftop and pushing him clear of the wave of force that rattled his entire body in the wind that followed in its wake. Loren spotted the man, leaning in the shadow of a roof access point.

The limb flashed out—slamming straight into a wave of invisible force—Loren strained to contain the wave of unrelenting force, and after several moments of gritted teeth, the energy of the attack started to run out. He had all of a second of triumph before a second wave smashed into the hand, sending it recoiling backward.

Loren managed to regain control of it, catching himself before throwing himself upwards once more.

Despite both of their powers being entirely invisible, they could both feel the force of the other’s attack; it was the only thing allowing Loren to contest the man in the first place. The last time he had fought this man, back when he had the six arms mutation, he hadn’t had a way to sense the attacks at all.

“Plan failed, Storyboard,” The man in the hoody complained, just loud enough for Loren to hear. “Can we get some backup here? This guy is pissing me off—Cutaway is chasing the target.”

Loren moved backward and sent the hand in a massive circle around the man before coming straight at his back. The invisible hand smashed straight into an unyielding wall, surrounding the man’s body in a bubble.

The bubble didn’t even crack, but he was sent straight through both walls of the stairwell, through the railing, and into the building next, before finally coming to a rest inside.

Loren had a moment to check on the other fight and swallowed at the sight of the ruined buildings, missing entire sections that had been cut off by Cutaway’s sword. Mark was still in one piece, forced to stay in his speed mode almost entirely just to keep up with the man.

He sent the hand spearing towards Cutaway, the roof exploded under the force of the impact, but the attack missed completely as he just kept on moving at speeds Loren could barely register—as a blur even from this distance.

Cutaway, realizing he was now under attack, started circling wide to put his opponent between them. Mark, apparently having none of that idea, dropped down between the buildings and vanished from sight.

“You better not be ditching me here, asshole,” Loren said under his breath, pushing himself high into the air.

Hoody, remerged from the building looking ruffled but unhurt, he turned to look directly at where the hand was touching the ground before looking up at him. Loren stretched the limb, circling behind the man but leaving the hand connected to the same piece of roof—

The entire building vanished under the man’s next attack, and he fell for a moment before sending the hand back towards him—it glanced off the bubble with an audible crack, and sparks flickered into the air from the force.

Cutaway reappeared in the air in a swirl of blue light, just touching against one of the invisible coils of the limb, and Loren managed to throw himself to the side as the blade flashed white, and a massive arc of light illuminated the sky. Loren lashed out at him, the hand stabbing up from underneath.

“No connection, Screener,” Cutaway said boredly, falling away. “How is he even able to track your attacks anyway? Yeah? Which direction—”

He could feel the slight resistance that Screener’s power had in the air.

Cutaway spun to face below him, lashing out with his sword at the perfect moment to slice his invisible limb in half. Loren waited for some kind of pain, but nothing happened—a second presence bloomed in his mind as it split into two thinner limbs, fingers growing anew on each hand.

One immediately stabbed down into a roof, and he used it to push him out of the way of Screeners attack. The second he sent after Cutaway, who landed lightly on the roof below, unhurt from the drop—Mark crashed into Cutaway from the side, coming out of nowhere and sending the two of them tumbling off the building and into an alleyway.

Loren sent his now free hand towards Screener, and the man halted his attack with another wave—he sent his second hand flying around to pinball the guy into the wall of the next building in a shower of rubble—catching himself with the other hand as the wave of force disappeared.

A familiar flash of blue light appeared nearby, and he suddenly lost the ability to move; his breathing stopped—his entire body was paralyzed. He felt another attack coming, and he moved one of the hands directly into its path, the only thing he was currently able to do.

He let himself drop down as his lungs started to burn, and the very moment he had put something in the way of the new person’s line of sight, he could breathe again.

“How many of these assholes are—” Lore panted before pushing himself to the side again, as a crashing noise approached him at a terrifying speed.

A person smashed through the building and continued on, moving at invisible speeds. The only reason he’d been able to tell was that they had run straight through one of the limbs, destroying it.

Two new hands grew from the break’s location, and he dragged himself back off the ground—That hadn’t been Cutaway, not unless he was a solid five inches shorter all of a sudden—he shot back up into the air, and he was immediately frozen again.

This time he sent the third hand directly at the person, whose hair was glowing pink in the dark—visible even at this distance. The effect stopped as the person tried to evade the attack; once again, someone had to have alerted her to it. Mark and Cutaway were still racing down the street, leaving broken things in their wake, and the other white blur was cutting a path straight through the buildings on an intercept course for them both.

There were four attacks now—just who the hell were these people? Something moved down on the rooftops, but he couldn’t track it.

“This isn’t working—” Screener said angrily, spinning on his feet. “Who—”

The building vanished under a wave of force as Wraith came within a meter of striking Screener, sending them both down into the mess below. Loren switched targets; he wasn’t getting involved in a fight that had that guy in it.

Mark and the other two were now completely out of sight, but the girl with the pink hair was still visible. He sent two of his hands out as far as he could, circling in from both directions, and was incredibly surprised when he actually managed to snag her with them.

A flash of blue light erupted underneath her, and he dragged her out of it before it washed up into an orb before disappearing. He froze when she spotted him and turned out to face away, regaining control of his body. He dragged the woman’s cape up over her head and wrapped it around her eyes.

“Too slow! I’m caught!” The woman said quickly, panicked, “Orient? I can’t see! Mmph! Hnn—”

Loren wrapped the fingers of one of the hands around her mouth, carefully, muffling her.

“Hah!” Loren said, amazed that he’d actually managed to take one of them in. “Got you.”

He dragged both of them away from another blue circle that appeared directly in the air below her, and once again, it twirled upwards into an orb of blue light before vanishing.

“Mmm!” The pink-woman said angrily around the invisible hand, “Ay cnmt do anmythim!”

“Hey, stop talking,” Loren said seriously, lying his ass off. “Or I’m going to start breaking things.”

The woman stilled at the threat and made no further move to communicate, another blue circle appeared, and once again, he moved them away from it.

“Orient, I’m not sure if you can hear me or not,” Loren said clearly, “But that threat goes for you as well—Pink lady, tell her to stop.”

Loren loosened his grip on her mouth.

“Orient?” The woman said nervously, “—She heard you.”

He remuffled her and started moving at a slower pace through the air, in case she was waiting for him to lower my guard.

Another building exploded, and Screener was forced out of the debris, unharmed but not in control of the battle at all. Wraith crossed the three rooftops in a fraction of a second and caught up before being hit with one of the invisible waves. Loren sent one of his hands out and caught the hero in mid-air; Wraith slipped the loose grip in an instant, spinning on his hand to stand on top of the invisible hand.

He met the hero’s helmeted gaze for a moment before sending the hand back down to the rooftops—ten meters away, Wraith kicked off, shattering the invisible hand with the force and vanishing in a burst of speed. Loren was annoyed at the destruction, but four hands were better than three.

“What’s your name?” Loren said seriously.

Mark had been joined by Mongoose, and the two of them seemed to be handling the fight against Cutaway better now, but they were both wary of approaching with the guy’s dangerous weapon still in play. The guy wreathed in white light and sprinting through everything in straight lines had abandoned Cutaway entirely, now headed straight towards Loren.

“Arret,” Arret swallowed, taking her time responding. “Oh, god.”

Loren moved higher up into the air at the sound of terror and away from the guy’s path.

“The guy sprinting through the buildings?” Loren prompted.

Arret flinched and tried to turn her covered face away from him.

“His name is—” Arret swallowed again, this time in genuine fear.

Loren looked down at where ‘Beat’ was still a blur of movement, and a blue circle flashed into existence about a hundred meters in front of him.

Beat.” Arret squeaked. “This is a terrible idea!”

There was a moment where he realized they were going to do something, but he had no idea what it was, so he pushed the pink-haired woman away from him and shot off across the sky, dragging her behind him. Beat stepped into the blue cage of light, and Loren changed direction the very moment he saw the light disappear—it likely saved his life.

Beat appeared, high above the city, and flashed through the spot he’d been in a moment ago, severing all four invisible limbs with his body—they simply disintegrated under the force of his body. Arret screamed as she began falling through the air, face still covered in the knotted mess of her cape.

Loren felt the arms grow back—now eight of them—and they took off after both of them. The glow around Beat’s body vanished, and the man tumbled through the air laughing like a maniac.

“Nah! Only three seconds left!” Beat shouted over the wind, “Get Arret—I’ll be fine!”

Loren ripped Arret out of the circle before it could whisk her away and then rebound her in an instant. Beat flashed white as he smashed into the ground, completely unharmed—the glow vanished again, and Loren wrapped the man in four of the arms, dragging him bodily off the ground.

The big guy flashed white, but whatever his power did, he couldn’t seem to use it without being able to run.

“Shit!” Beat laughed, “The unknown telekinetic got us both—you’ll just have to pull us out later—Storyboard, what are we calling this asshole anyway? That’s dumb as fuck, but I suppose it will do.”

They were just going to teleport them out of a cell later—all of this was going to be for nothing. He left the guy unmuffled because it was giving him some idea of what exactly was going on elsewhere. The two others that they kept speaking to, Orient and Storyboard, must have been the ones directing this mess.

“Don’t do anything until she’s got time to make another plan—Don’t send Aperture or Animate!” Beat snorted incredulously, “Wraith, Mongoose, and fucking Vapid are here—what the hell do you think they are going to be able to do against that lineup girl? What we need is fucking Archetype—even then, it’s fucking Vapid, she’ll just follow us back to base, we don’t know who she’s touched either, we are effectively quarantined for twenty-four hours until that shit wears off.”

Animate, Aperture, Archetype, Arret, Storyboard, Orient, Cutaway, Screener, and Beat—Just who the fuck were these guys?

“Just wait it out; Storyboard can figure out how to get us out afterward—the contracts still live for another week, let’s not waste it.” Beat insisted; the man’s tone was one who had done it all before. “We need to figure out a counter to this Wildcard asshole, though. Screener seemed like he was having some success at the start. Reckons he was getting stronger as the fight went on, more points of attack or something—I don’t fucking know, dude, ask him. I can’t see the damn things, can I?”

Holy crap, this guy just did not give a fuck.