Gale Rising (Chapter 10)

The second patrol in the last hour sidled out towards the explosion in the distance. My com was muted at my side, but it went off, vibrating quietly. Hands shot me a desperate look, then stifled even that noise in the invisible hand she possessed. It floated in front of us, both staring at the twinkling notification light. The bushes we were crouched in just barely provided cover for the two of us, and we were close enough I could feel Hands breathing on my neck.

My heart beat in my chest. Gunze sat across the street from us, hidden behind a tattered phone booth. His presence was obvious despite his hiding spot; thick thread that wasn’t going away festooned the mile of city behind us, dodging through sniper fire as Ironmarrow popped the guards one by one.

Too many people were already dead. I hated it. Hated that I was responsible for this.

But Excelsior’s words drifted through my head. I wanted to be safe more than I wanted to save the lives of people trying to kill us. In a way, this was justified.

I heard, distantly, another window shatter and a body hit the ground, followed by gun shots. Ricochets. Crude noises, shattering stone.

This was justified.

It rang hollow, even to me, and I didn’t bother trying to voice any of it.

A boot stepped just by our hiding spot in the bushes, Hands’ breath caught in her throat and I shot her a look. Stern. Telling her it would be okay. Desperately hoping it would be okay.

The barrel of a gun poked into our position, and my eyes crossed, staring at it as it wavered between the two of us.

Okay. I was wrong. This would most definitely not be okay.

But… the gun hadn’t touched either of us yet, though it moved in arcs, we held our breath, ducking down into the bed further, hoping the flower bush would keep us hidden just a bit longer.

Then I had another idea. A stupid idea, but one that…

I summoned a gust of wind in the bush next to us with a twitch of my fingers, sweat dripping down my cheek and splattering across the body armor strapped to my chest.

The gun ceased an inch from my nose, and the delicate cocktail of gunpowder and oil made me twitch. Made me want to cry out. Made me want to scream.

But we’d already killed to get here. I couldn’t let mere terror over take me. Couldn’t if but for Hands’ sake beside me, her eyes locked on mine. Who would pass first? Who would they shoot at first?

The gun slowly moved out of the bush, and I caught just a brief glimpse of a masked face, covered in a harsh rebreather. Black armor. Bullet resistant. Sigil of a fox pouncing on a snake.

If I wasn’t already holding my breath… If I wasn’t already nearly scared to death…

I would’ve gasped and given away our position right there.

This wasn’t some homegrown attack. They were part of the Cuban Patrol. Anti powered militaries called upon to help police the chaos of the South Americas. To corral home grown terror cells in the Central Amerias. The association had been allies of them. Occasionally enemies. Depended on whether or not they thought the association had overstepped their bounds or not in policing.

The Cuban Patrol was attacking the Dauphin island Association base. This information was officially worth more than gold. Worth more than our petty lives.

Marked this as something horrific. Horrible.

“What’re you doing over here?” Came a muffled voice.

“I thought I saw movement in the bush, sir.” Came a muffled reply from right beside the two of us. Hands took a quiet, but deep breath, her hands shaking. She looked at me and mouthed something, but I couldn’t make out what it was.

“Who the hell would hide in a bush? Look, we have a few B-Classes running about, they’d be more likely to ambush us than hide. No need for you to waste time looking.”

“Still. I’d like to make sure,”

“If you insist. Hand guns?”

Hands and I locked eyes and stared up at the light flowing through the bush.

The gun clicked, and it was only by the sound of the gun shot that our squeals were muffled.

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