y eyes were tightly closed. Pressed tight enough so I wouldn’t get blood in my eyes.
But even though the gunshot had echoed out around the street, I couldn’t feel the warmth of blood licking down my face. Couldn’t tell if Hands had been hit.
I cracked open my eyes and stared at the bullet, tip deformed, partially reduced to slag, suspended in mid air inches from my face. Would’ve hit just over top of my right eye. Then the world would be down a Gale.
The com unit was lying on the ground. Hadn’t it been in the air a moment ago?
My breath came out in short little pants, but I desperately tried to keep the panic away from me, tried not to take deeper breaths, lest it give away that something had changed.
I turned and looked at Hands, then back at the bullet.
Then it clicked. She’d caught the round in her invisible hand. She’d saved my life.
I’d thought we were both dead, and the reject from patrol had saved my life.
The man outside the bush stopped as his radio buzzed.
“We have reports of gunshots on your position?”
“Sorry command. Think it was just some bugs. We’ll keep casing the perimeter, see if we can find the other hero.” The radio slipped back down onto the soldier’s hip, and then two pairs of boots stepped away from the bush and back onto the path.
I slumped against the wall, dirt finding it’s way through the contours of my uniform, and tried to catch my breath, shooting Hands a look.
It was only a few minutes, after I was sure nobody was there, that I spoke up.
“You can stop bullets!?” I hissed at her.
“I didn’t know!” Hands squeaked, throwing up her arms. The bush rustled as she hit the branches.
“How do you not know if you can stop bullets?!” My whisper was shrill.
“I’ve never been shot at before!” Hands returned, earnest.
I blinked a few times, then watched as the bullet, hanging in midair, tumbled to the ground and fell right next to my thigh.
“Shit,” I swore. My lungs hurt. My chest hurt. Everything ached, but… keep going forward. Things would only be justified, the sacrifices made would only be justified, the near misses would only be justified if they got something out of this. Got something out of this alive.
And Hands had tried to protect me over herself. Had seen, perhaps, where the handgun was pointed through the foliage.
Then I remembered the twinkling light of the Com unit, picked it up and flipped it open.
Another SOS from farther up north. Birmingham’s police force had lost control over the city.
Something else to worry about. But not now. Not when we were going to do some crimes ourselves.
Gunze crawled out from hiding and approached us. We weren’t in line of sight of the Association building, but the distance simply wasn’t that far. We needed to regroup.
“Good job almost getting killed,” Gunze greeted, his threadbare jacket looking more and more like his uniform instead of his dayclothes. It suited him.
“Hands saved me,” I returned. Hands was quietly picking things up with the invisible hand. Rotating them slightly. Dropping them on the ground. Her eyes were so wide I felt like I could fall into the glassy pupils and drown.
“Good for her,” Gunze said, flatly. “But we don’t have time to revel in near death experiences. No matter what Ironmarrow told you, she can’t sustain it for that long anymore. Not since she got batted through a building in Cuba. So if I were you, and thankfully, I’m not, I’d find a way into that compound.”
I crouched down and peered at the tall walls of the building, and gestured for the other two to sidle in next to me. They were at least twenty feet high. Stark. I didn’t like the looks of them, and didn’t like the way I didn’t have a clue of scaling them.
Then I squinted at Gunze.
“How thick of a cord can you make?”
“It’ll take me a minute, but I can make rope. Not much good unless you think you can throw it up those walls,” Gunze reported.
“Well, I can’t throw it up…” I said. “But Hands can.”
Hands started at the sound of her name. “What do you mean?”
“You stopped a bullet, surely you can throw rope. I can even help.”
I didn’t know the exact aerodynamics of rope made by a hero, but I knew it couldn’t be that hard. We’d only have one chance.. But…
We’d drawn away a lot of their forces. I’d counted several squads out patrolling the island, to prevent just someone like us from getting inside. It meant they weren’t that heavily fortified. Could still be resistance walking through those hallways.
If we got inside, we might have a better chance than we did out here, even. Near death experience and everything.
“You can help?” Gunze asked. “What exactly is your power, Gale? Wind, I assume.”
I didn’t look him in the eye. Didn’t have the hear to tell him I was the most useless member of the squad. But it didn’t matter now. We needed bodies, and by god, I was still a body.
Could still hold a rope, and could still save whoever was in there.
“Doesn’t matter,” Hands said, standing up straight. “Let’s get inside and get this over with.”
Gunze’s thread started to spin from his finger tips like a spider’s web.