A Change of Pace – Chapter 53

“You want us to do what?” Squid’s face was frozen in surprise.

The leader of the Orlando Super gang couldn’t see it but Lilly rolled her eyes dramatically. They were back in the parking garage for the impromptu meeting she had called. Like last time, they were as far away from the entrances as possible, and members of the Fist were guarding the lowest floor. The lights were back on so Squid and his posse could see, but Lilly preferred to lurk in the shadows; although, lounging was probably better way to describe it.

“Am I stuttering?” Lilly posed the question to the half dozen Supers present with Squid. “I’m being absolutely serious,” she made sure her voice matched the tone of her question. “People keep asking me questions like that and I honestly want to know if there is something off with my delivery.”

The gang members just stared into the shadows around her with confused expressions. Lilly almost smacked her palm to her head in exasperation, but she restrained herself. She needed these second string villains for the next phase in her plan. She couldn’t ostracize them right off the bat. Plus, she’d already paid their retainer for the month.

“Let’s try this again,” Lilly cleared her throat, and then spoke loud and slow. “I want you to attack the Orlando power plant tomorrow at three in the afternoon.” She swept her gaze over the assembled gang. “Does anyone not understand what I’m telling you?”

“I understand what you’re sayin’,” Squid replied. “I just don’t know what your angle is.”

“Why would I tell you my angle?” Lilly couldn’t stop a brief laugh from escaping her throat. “I pay you all to not ask questions like that.”

“I hear ya. I just don’t trust ya,” Squid’s eyes settled on the darkest point of the shadow where Lilly was lounging.

“I’m not asking you to trust me; in fact, I’d be offended if you did,” no one saw the Cheshire grin on her face. “I’m just asking you to do your job.”

“When we made our deal you said you’d negotiate a cut of anything you were taking,” Squid changed tactics. “Now we’re negotiatin’.”

“True,” Lilly teleported to the other side of the circle of light. “But there’s nothing to negotiate.”

Her minor intimidation trick set a few of the lesser gang members on edge, but not Squid. “You renegin’ on our deal then,” Squid smiled, and started to change.

A ripple effect started at the gang leader’s feet and rolled over his body. As the ripple past over him he changed. As far as shifters go, it wasn’t a particularly quick shift. Fifteen seconds was more than enough time for a seasoned Hero or villain to get the drop on him, but Lilly let him change. She wanted to see what he was working with. Squid’s tan skin became the color of freshly paved asphalt. It was shiny and gooey at the same time as his new skin became accustomed to the environment.

As the ripple passed over his arms they grew and split. Each arm divided and lengthened into four tentacles, which began to sprout suckers like flowers blooming in spring. Soon the appendages were covered in the things. Lastly, the ripple reached Squid’s head. It bulged like an overfilled water balloon, growing larger and larger. His normally simple brown eyes became two large black orbs as large as Lilly’s head. Squid was a medium-sized guy at an even six feet, but now he stood nearly double that, with a mass of writhing, angry tentacles.

<He looks like he can take a hit,> Lilly desperately wanted to try a few things on the shifter, but decided against it. She needed her task completed.

“Nice,” she replied instead, keeping her voice calm and nonchalant. “But you misunderstand me.”

“Explain,” Squid’s voice in his squid-form sounded like a drunken man talking underwater. It was difficult to understand.

“I agreed to negotiate a cut of whatever I take, but I’m not taking anything. I’m just going into a place to take a look around. I’m not stealing anything, so I can’t negotiate with you for a cut,” she explained. “But you don’t need to worry about that,” Lilly played her ace.

She teleported to a different part of the circle, causing the other members of the gang to spin in confusion. Squid moved before they did though, betraying his advantage. <He has enhanced senses now, or maybe some type of sonar or enhanced sensory organ,> she watched the tentacles whip round like agitated vipers. Or more accurately, multiple snake tongues. <Interesting,> she set aside the thought for future evaluation.

“Just think of the possibilities,” she made a grand gesture with her arms that no one was able to see. “You’re going to take down the power grid. Think of how many alarm system, safes, and regular security systems are tied to that. I’m sure some of them have backup power sources,” she added to make sure Squid’s head didn’t get too many ideas. “But think of the score. Spend the next day doing a little digging and positioning your men. When you cut the power at exactly three then your guys can take a whole bunch of shit.

The adrenaline was pumping in Lilly’s veins as she explained the grand heist. The villain in her wanted to hop on the bandwagon, but she had much more important things to be doing. Still, the thrill of stealing something that didn’t belong to you was better than sex; not sex with Seth, but boring old missionary for sure.

“You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down, Squiddy?” Lilly crossed her arms and waited for the slower gang leader to get the big picture. When he finally did his tentacles went crazy.

He didn’t say anything; he just shifted back to his human form. But his mediocre face was grinning like a five year old’s on Christmas morning.

“Three o’clock tomorrow,” he repeated the time.

“Three o’clock on the dot,” Lilly confirmed, her voice firm. He needed to get the time right or it would screw everything up. “Or I’ll come back here and make myself some calamari.”

Squid bristled at the threat, but it couldn’t overcome the dollar signs flashing in his eyes. “Fine,” he answered tersely. “We’ll blow up your power plant.”

“Excellent,” Lilly went from firm to cheery in a heartbeat. “Pleasure doing business with the Fist. I’ll see you around.” She didn’t wait for a response before popping out of the parking garage and back to her home, after making a few pit-stops of course.

“Daughter,” Altair called a few seconds after she arrived in her room.

<It’s like he can sense when I’m here,> it was mildly annoying to have your father know when you came and went from your underground mansion.

“I’m here. Just stopping to grab a few things before I go,” she replied quickly as she gathered some clothes and a few more lethal objects.

“Do you want to stay for dinner?” Lilly didn’t miss the loneliness in her father’s tone.

It wasn’t real emotion. The infamous supervillain, Hellgate, didn’t feel emotion like normal people. The one thing he did care about was his daughter, but he also liked to test her. This felt like a test.

Lilly was already teleporting when he came around the corner with a gun. He didn’t even get a shot off. She appeared behind him, her combat knife out, and pointed into the small of his back. One quick thrust and he wouldn’t be walking ever again without a healer’s help.

“Excellent,” he laughed, stepping away from the knife. “It’s good to see that the soft school life hasn’t dulled your senses.”

Lilly rolled her eyes as she slipped the big knife back into the sheath on her thigh. “I appreciate you looking out for me, daddy; but I’m fine.”

She knew the real reason he was doing the sudden ambushes. He was concerned. He was concerned about his daughter and her boyfriend; what they were, what they might become, and what it could do to everything. If Lilly was being honest with herself, then she was a little concerned too; but that just made it more exciting.

“Everything going as planned for tomorrow?” Altair turned the subject to business.

“The goon squad is going to take down the grid at exactly three. I’ve still got to pick up the stuff from Nano, but I’m off to do that as soon as I pack.”

“Very good,” Hellgate nodded. “My asset has already disrupted the secondary power relay, so there will be no cameras to record.”

“And the personnel there are supposed to be out of the room for a few minutes; which buys me a small window to get this done,” Lilly made a hurry up motion with her hand. “We’ve gone over all of this already. It will go as planned, and if it doesn’t, then I’ll improvise.”

Altair just smiled, Lilly would leave him to imagine what improvisation she’d cook up to get out of the mess she’d be in. “Anywho, I’ve got to get going. Love you, daddy.”

“I love you too, daughter,” he left, and two blasts of darkness quickly followed.

The first took all the stuff she’d gathered back to her room with Seth. It would appear under the bed. No one was home currently so there was no danger of anyone spotting anything. The second blast took Lilly to the Windy City.

She was a little surprised to be greeted by an empty office. Mika was always present whenever she came knocking, and he knew she needed what he had.

“Hey, Wriath,” Lilly jumped in the air with undignified surprise. She’d swept the room and found nothing. “Pretty cool, huh.”

Sitting behind the desk cluttered with half assembled technology was Mika in his Nano outfit, but it wasn’t him. She had to get closer to realize it was a hologram.

“Don’t worry about any security concerns that are running through your head,” that was exactly what she’d been thinking of, and him saying not to worry about it wasn’t helping. “This hologram was only programmed to activate once it registered your teleportation darkness and read your biometrics.” The message continued. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there but I’ve got a business deal that conflicted with this. What you are looking for is on the table,” a second beam of light shot out of the hologram and illuminated a small device on the table. “Let me know how it performs, and I’ll tell you about my deal. See ya.”

The hologram went dark, but the secondary light remained until Lilly grabbed the device off the table. <I’ll have to have a talk with him,> she kept her annoyance to a minimum. Managing Mika was becoming more of a balancing act. He was starting to get out there on his own, and she couldn’t get in the way of that without driving him away. But she still needed to manage him. He knew too much about her. He could be a threat. <And what if I had questions,> Lilly mentally grumbled as she stored the small device in a pouch on her waist. Mika was a problem for a different time.

Lilly teleported to a location near the townhouse she shared with Seth, and walked the rest of the way. She quickly slipped out of her persona as Wraith, and became Liz. It didn’t take much. All she had to do was lose the weapons and armor for school books and some meager wardrobe choices. But the persona change also meant she had to do her finals; which were severely cramping her style.

The rest of the afternoon was plain in comparison to her morning. She finished a paper, went and took a final, and then returned to her man. Seth wasn’t telling her much, but she knew he had a big test coming up tomorrow; and that factored into her plan. She made sure that he had the proper stress relief that night. It was a benefit for her as well. They both needed to be at the top of their game tomorrow, but for very different reasons.

 

***

 

Lilly sat tucked into a shadow in the depths of an alley, away from the sunlight and any prying eyes. This was the same alley that she had teleported into for her first date with Seth. The coffee shop was definitely something neither of them were going to forget, but probably for different reasons.

Lilly would have been much more comfortable teleporting from the privacy of her room back at the townhouse, but that wasn’t acceptable. Although her home away from home wasn’t the underground mansion she’d grown up in, she instituted a lot of the same security procedures. She was only going to teleport directly there in an emergency.

<I wonder what Seth is doing?> her beau and the rest of the house had left hours ago for what they said was a variety of different finals.

Lilly knew better. Whatever they were doing was their HCP final, and she couldn’t help but be curious. As a studious villain the HCP fascinated her. She dreamed of what they did down there, the secrets of their training, and the goodies she could steal if she ever got down there. It was a question of when not if she would ever find herself inside an HCP. There was a high likelihood she would need to do it to complete her mission.

<That’s something to worry about later,> Lilly pushed the thoughts aside. She glanced down at her watch. <2:58, two minutes.>

                Lilly took a deep breath and stood up. She’d been crouching in the shadows long enough that her muscles had tightened up. She shook them out, and rotated her neck to get the kinks out. Not all of those were from crouching in an alleyway. She spent the next two minutes imagining all the ways she was going to hurt Squid if his gang didn’t pull off this stunt on time.

At three o’clock and one second she heard a boom in the distance. The lights flickered and died in the building across from the alleyway. Lilly smiled and vanished in a darkness that was spreading across the city. When she arrived there was silence and darkness, exactly as she wanted.

Normally, the headquarters of the Orlando Protectorate would have had a backup generator kick in the moment the power went down. Her father’s unnamed sources had made sure that never happened. Which also meant the police station below the headquarters was also without power. If she strained her hearing she could just make out the frantic police officers yelling and scurrying around trying to find out what the hell was going on. All the phones were dead so no 911 calls were coming in. Nothing was more nerve-racking than knowing something was going on and not have information to do anything about it.

Lilly wanted the chaos and mayhem because when they took over things got lost in the shuffle. No one was going to notice what little old her was doing here. In fact, no one was going to know she was here at all.

It was easy enough to get into the Protectorate’s HQ. While it might be cost effective for the DVA to put the local Hero team above the police station it was a security nightmare. The layers of security put in place at most other hero team establishments, especially the precautions to keep out teleporters, was sorely lacking.

A few days after the attempted robbery in the Halloween store parking lot, Lilly had paid a visit to the station as Liz Aretino. She filed a short report with the desk sergeant and the asked to go to the bathroom. Instead of going to the one on the first floor she walked up to the top, and walked past the door to the Hero’s section of the building. A DVA employee had been walking out, so she’d gotten a good view of the middle of the open space. She went to the bathroom, returned to the desk sergeant, and left without anyone being the wiser.

<How could they be so sloppy?> Lilly shrugged, toggled the options in her mask. On top of looking kick-ass her mask’s lenses had multiple viewing options; one of which was night vision.

The dark, windowless room came back into focus as a greenish wonderland when she selected the correct setting. As Lilly had hoped, she was alone. A little help from Mika had decided when she needed to infiltrate the HQ, which was why she’d been so explicit with Squid about doing it exactly at three.

Lilly didn’t want her technopathic sidekick trying to hack into DVA systems, but a stroke of genius did them one better. The vending machines located in the HQ’s lounge were connected wirelessly to the candy company’s headquarters so they could accumulate real time data about what their customers liked. The connection was allowed by the DVA because all it did was transmit data codes for the product selected. You couldn’t infiltrate the HQ with that, or so they thought.

Research since October told Lilly and Mika that at exactly three o’clock everyday someone selected a certain candy bar from the vending machine. A little more digging showed the Hero that was endorsed by that candy company, and who stated in every interview that he had one of the candy bars every day. It could have been a lie, but after seeing all the data Lilly was ready to take that risk.

That set the time for the infiltration because when the power went down the HQ’s safeguards went into effect. All the doors sealed themselves and wouldn’t reopen until the power was back on and the proper codes were entered. So thankfully, everything had gone according to plan and the Hero on duty had been locked in the breakroom.

But that was only one obstacle Lilly had to overcome. She also had to think about possible DVA agents that would be present. Although they wouldn’t be as much of an issue, the whole goal of this was to get in and out without anyone being suspicious. She wouldn’t be able to gather the intelligence she needed if they knew she’d been here snooping around.

Mika had helped her figure out that problem too, and all he had to do was write a short algorithm to search posts on social media. Lilly had found that people had a tendency to overshare on the internet, so it was no surprise when multiple members of the DVA’s Protectorate staff complained about an offsite training seminar they had to go to today. While it didn’t guarantee everyone was going to be gone, it offered the best opportunity for her to do what she needed to.

If a few humans were still lingering about she’d be able to cause some minor distractions to get them away. People had accidents in the dark all the time, and their own egos wouldn’t betray them if they thought they accidently tripped over something or walked into a filing cabinet. Worst case scenario there were a lot of people present and Lilly stuck the device in the first thing she saw before teleporting back out.

None of those scenarios were an issue now.

“Come on you’ve got to be kidding me,” the disgruntled Hero caught behind the reinforced door grumbled.

Lilly stopped a giggle in her throat and quietly made her way through the headquarters. The main space had an open floor plan full of desks and computers for the regular employees. Lilly went straight for the offices, hoping that they weren’t on the same circuitry as the other doors.

<Damn,> Lilly cursed when they were just as sealed as the breakroom door.

It would have been better if she could get the device into a supervisor, or Hero’s, computer; but she’d take what she could get. She’d been able to learn a little about the employees through their Facebook rants, so she went looking for the man who would be the most likely to have what she wanted.

<Here we go,> she found the disorderly desk, removed the device from her pocket, and stuck it into the USB slot.

She draped her cloak over the soft light the device emitted and waited. It was a pretty simple self-powered device that Mika had created. While Lilly sat there patiently, it was copying the hard drive on the computer. Normally this would be setting off all kinds of alarm bells in the system, but Mika was avoiding those all together with the device’s primary purpose. He used some tech terms she didn’t understand, but it boiled down to the device making the computer think it was still off while it copied the files. If the computer didn’t think it was on then none of the built in protections would activate. It was genius in its simplicity.

Lilly started to get antsy as the time it took to copy the files dragged on and on. Soon the technicians would be able to get the auxiliary power back up. She wouldn’t be able to stay then. Once the power returned so did the cameras and the Hero in the breakroom. She could avoid being seen by neither of them.

Her foot began involuntarily tapping, and she quickly reigned herself in. She didn’t know a lot beyond the basics of the Hero in the breakroom, and they always made sure that their full powers weren’t publically known. They might have some sort of super-sense.

It took a total of eight, long minutes for the glow of the self-powered device to dim. With a thankful breath, Lilly pulled out the device and carefully stowed it back on one of her pouches. She took one last look around the room and refrained from doing anything else. It would have been priceless to rearrange all of the computers, or drop an upper-decker in the bathroom. Any little prank against the Heroes was usually worth it, but not today.

With a silent sigh Lilly teleported away from the HQ. She made a few stops in some exotic places before reappearing in Mika’s Chicago office. This time the teenage supervillain was present.

“Hey, Wraith,” his face brightened at the sight of her.

“I need you to take a look at this, and copy me on everything,” Lilly placed the device on the corner of his desk.

Her cold attitude took the technopath offguard. The smile slid from his face and he just looked confused. “Um…ok,” he gulped, not sure what he’d done wrong.

Lilly let him stew for a minute before giving a well-rehersed, dramatic sigh. “I’m sorry, Nano,” the use of the boy’s codename always perked him up. “I guess I’m just kind of upset.”

“What happened?” he jumped on the opportunity to help.

“You weren’t here when I came by yesterday,” she convincingly moped. “I had some questions about the device, and I wanted to see how you were doing?” She would have batted her eyelashes if they weren’t hidden by her mask.

“Oh…” Lilly saw Mika reflecting on what she was talking about. “I’m sorry, Wriath. I didn’t mean it.” He looked upset at himself; exactly what Lilly wanted. “We can catch up now.”

“I don’t have time now,” she continued to pout, sighing again. “That’s why I wanted to talk yesterday.”

“Oh…” Mika repeated the single syllable. “Um…what can I do?”

Lilly smiled behind her mask. The key was to make the mark feel mad at themselves, not you. A skilled manipulator maneuvered her target into develop neurological pathways that reinforced this behavior. Lilly had been working on Mika for a long time, and this was the result of her work. The technopath automatically wanted to figure out what he could do to make her happy. In turn, she could pocket the favor and ask for him to do something for her in the future.

“There’s nothing right now,” Lilly kept her voice appropriately sorrowful. “Maybe later?”

“Sure, no problem,” Mika brightened at the opportunity to make things right.

“Cool,” Lilly made sure to not thank him. He needed to know he’d messed up but could eventually make it up to her. “I’ll see you later Nano.”

With another blast of darkness, and a few more stops around the world, Lilly reappeared in a shed not too far from the townhouse. She could hear sirens in the distance. The police were finally getting their act together and responding to the mayhem the Fist was causing all over town. Everyone would be too busy looking at them that they won’t notice what happened right under their noses.

Lilly smiled as she stripped out of her costume and teleported it to an underground vault she used to place stuff she didn’t want at home or the townhouse. The typical end of an adrenaline rush never happened. She’d been calm and collected through the whole operation. Only now were the endorphins starting to hit her.

<Seth better get out of class soon,> she giggled at what she was going to do to him.

All Lilly wanted to do was fight or fuck, and if she got Seth in the right mood she might be able to do both. Rough foreplay was something he knew that she liked. The device and its contents slid to the back of her mind as she walked back to the townhouse. Analyzing the Heroes’ defensive plans for Orlando, and if she was lucky the HCP, was something that could wait until the winter break.

 

***

The blackout could not have come at a worse time. Mason was mid-dodge when the entire arena flicked and died. The only source of light came from the golden energy barriers on the other side of the small city, and they didn’t provide any more light than a weak moon on a cloudy night.

<What the…> Kyoshi’s voice echoed in his head.

A surge of fear went through Mason that far outweighed the painful throbbing of his twisted ankle. Losing your senses in a fight was bad enough when you could take a hit, but when you were frail and vulnerable it could be deadly. If Kyoshi took a hit from either of their opponents then she was done for.

Roughly five minutes before the lights went out Mason and Kyoshi ran into number five ranked Teresa Shaw and number nine ranked Kimberly Goodman. The multispecies shifter and blaster weren’t interested in hearing Kyoshi out like Anika and Becca had. They’d simply attacked. Kimberly’s initial blast had separated them, and Teresa moved in for the easy kill. Mason had been trying to get back to his girlfriend, but Kimberly’s persistent bombardment kept pushing him back.

Mason tried to power through several blasts, but they’d picked him off his feet and thrown him through several buildings. His uniform was full of scorched holes, tears, and he was starting to feel the ache from taking dozens of powerful shots.

<Get out of there, this is your chance!> Mason stumbled and fell as he tripped over a chunk of rubble. He felt an explosive blast pass over his head and explode against a nearby building, showering him with brick and mortar.

<Not that simple,> Kyoshi’s terse reply relayed her mental exhaustion. The only thing that was keeping her in the fight was her mastery of martial arts.

There was a flicker and the lights came back on, bathing their fight in light. The power wasn’t out for more than a couple of seconds, but the sudden light to dark and back to light played hell with everyone’s senses; everyone except Teresa. Her body shifted to adapt to the changes, and she was able to take full advantage of their momentary confusion.

Mason had to watch helplessly as a grizzly bear paw the size of a frying pan raked across Kyoshi’s chest. The wound cut deep, spraying blood on Teresa, and the force of the hit threw Kyoshi back into a wall. She slowly slumped down to the ground, her hand vainly trying to staunch the flow of blood. Her mental and physical scream rang in Mason’s ears, propelling him into motion.

Teresa was about a hundred yards from Mason and turning to face him. He was still on the ground from his fall, so he pulled himself up into a track starter position and kicked; ignoring the flare of pain in his injured ankle. The ground exploded underneath the force of Mason’s jump, and it launched him halfway to his target. But it wasn’t that simple. He’d been trying a variety of tactics for the last five minutes, and like each of his earlier attempts Kimberly was ready for him.

Golden orbs rained down on him like miniature suns. Many missed, carving deep holes into the road, but a few smacked into Mason. He was blasted from his trajectory and smacked into the ground hard enough to knock Teresa off her feet. Unlike previous attempts, Mason had greater motivation to get to his girlfriend. Seeing her bleeding out sent a dagger into his soul.

Mason rolled, kicked again, and brought down a building’s exterior wall; but it got him moving again. He hurdled exploding orbs, slid under a few more, but didn’t make it all the way there unscathed. He was ten yards from Teresa, who was still getting back to her feet, when and orb hit him in the shoulder. Mason turned at the last moment so it was a glancing blow, and let the impact’s moment turn him like a top. He wasn’t quite sure how many times he spun, but his equilibrium was off and he was seeing double.

That didn’t matter. Mason steadied his feet, spread his arms, and made one last jump toward the center of the two Teresa’s he was seeing. She tried to run, but didn’t make it.

Teresa’s current shifted form had the body of a grizzly, the head of a cobra, and the tail of a scorpion. It was one of her deadlier combinations; strong, fast, and poisonous. It was capable of defeating Supers like Kyoshi, but not Mason.

Mason caught Teresa in the chest with his outstretched arm. Despite the grizzly’s muscled chest and strong bones, things cracked and broke on contact. Her cobra head hissed in pain, spitting venom as it flailed. Not wanting to give up the advantage, Mason gripped her side with his hand and squeezed. The hiss turned into a gurgle and more things within the shifter broke.

Teresa didn’t give up, no one who got into the top five of the class would give up just because they were hurt. Her scorpion tail reared back and struck again and again against Mason’s back. He felt the focused blows, but the stinger was blunted by his durable skin. Poison leaked down his back, but never made it into his bloodstream.

Mason and Teresa crashed to the ground in a heap, and rolled for several yards before stopping not too far from Kyoshi. Teresa hissed up at him, trying in vain to get her arms moving again. Mason gently punched her right in her cobra faced snout. Her head ricocheted off the ground and her forked tongue limply hung from the side of her mouth. A few seconds later her body began to warp and shrink until the beast beneath him was gone, and replaced by the brown-haired pretty teenager.

<Thanks for the save,> Kyoshi’s mental voice felt weak.

One look at his girlfriend told Mason things weren’t good. Kyoshi’s skin was a pale white and her uniform was more red than black. A small pool had formed around her.

“Crap,” Mason struggled off of Teresa, making sure to not injure her human form. He remembered to snatch her ball out of the air as he hurried over to Kyoshi.

Mason expected things to look worse up close. What he didn’t expect was one of Kimberly’s orbs to slam down on top of his head and stay there. “What the…” he exclaimed, but stopped suddenly.

He’d exhaled with the statement, but when he tried to inhale he got nothing. Mason’s hands instinctually went to his face to try and claw the sphere off his head. His hands passed through the sphere, but it remained intact.

<No…no…no,> he panicked. He couldn’t save Kyoshi if he couldn’t breathe.

Mason could survive longer than a normal human without air; but the recent fight, him panicking, and already having exhausted his air supply made him just as vulnerable.

<Mason,> Kyoshi sounded tired and on the edge of collapse.

Despite his incredible strength there was nothing Mason could do. Soon his body started to scream in pain as it fought for oxygen it didn’t have. He felt himself start to shut down as his brain prioritized what was necessary. He got really light-headed in the final moments, and was unable to concentrate. He collapsed at Kyoshi’s side, unable to raise his arms in further protest.

<Mason!> a bolt of electricity went through his mind, but it didn’t help. He was just so tired, he just wanted to sleep.

The second Mason lost consciousness Kimberly dissolved the bubble of airlessness around his head. She’d been working on that type of sphere for months in anticipation of challenging the number six ranked strongman. She surveyed the battlefield below her and quickly spotted the balls.

<I don’t know if I’ll get anything from Teresa’s ball, but Mason and Kyoshi’s should get me some decent points.> she smiled as she hopped from the roof onto the fire escape, and quickly descended.

She was almost to the ground when Kyoshi attacked. It was all the energy the advanced mind had left. She fashioned it into a telepathic railroad spike and smashed it into Kimberly Goodman’s mind. The blaster didn’t even scream as the attack smashed through her defenseless mind. She just toppled backward off the ladder and smashed into the ground ten feet below her.

Kyoshi was unconscious by the time Kimberly hit the ground.

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