Cortex stumbled as Dagger’s knives deflected off his telekinetic shield. They were not normal blades. The shadow elementalist suddenly appeared from the back of the kitchen when the front door slammed shut. An ominous laugh echoed through the apartment before the assassin attacked.
“He’s a goddamn mentalist,” Dagger hissed with his twin knives raised in a reverse grip. Out of the living room, another man appeared out of thin air.
“Yes. Jason McCloud, callsign Cortex,” Cloak said. Cortex knew immediately the white-haired Enhanced was another mentalist, shielding his thoughts from a takeover.
“Nice trick, asshole,” Cortex said pushing Amira behind him as the moved towards the front door. “creating a blind spot in my mind. Not very useful in a real fight though.”
“Who said I wanted to fight? Cloak and Dagger,” said the mentalist smiling with a mock bow, “at your service young Enhanced.”
Cortex glanced back at Dagger. The elementalist could not shield himself like his partner, but he was well-trained and his thoughts vague, difficult to interpret, but Cortex knew Dagger was ready to kill him.
“I scanned you, Cortex,” Cloak said, “ I saw your power and the darkness hidden inside you. You are very powerful but the JTF will never allow you to grow to your full potential.”
“Please keep monologuing, jackass,” Jason thought as he mentally switched on his EComm distress beacon.
“But you will? You’ll train me if I give you the girl?” Amira jumped in fright behind him.
“She has knowledge that our employer wishes to keep private. One of his pets escaped its cage before it was ready. We’re just putting it put back in with no witnesses. Her powers are not useful enough to keep her alive.”
Cortex glanced again at Dagger. While Cloak might be telling the truth, Dagger focused on ways to get around or through his shield. He hated the JTF. He wanted to kill every Enhanced that worked for the agency.
“Yes, Cortex, Dagger does want to kill you, but he won’t.” Cloak stated looking at his partner. “We only want the girl. You can join us and be free of your shackles.”
“And that’s the problem. You assholes enjoy hurting people. I want to help them.”
“Even these mundanes that want you dead?” asked Dagger speaking for the first time. “They want to kill us. All of us!”
“And I will be there to stop them,” said Cortex as he took a defensive position. He knew the banter was over.
“Then I guess my generous offer is closed,” Cloak exasperated and shaking his head disappointed.
Cortex did not hesitate or wait for the more experienced assassins get into position before attacking. A telekinetic blast hurled the furniture across the apartment at Dagger and punched a large hole in the wall. The heavy sofa caved in the roof of a car parked just outside the building with a wood splintering crash. The exterior red bricks and pieces of the concrete wall and facade rained down on the pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Dagger shifted into his shadow form before the mentalist’s power slammed him into the wall. The ink-like blackness defied gravity and melted up to the ceiling, reforming into the outline of the assassin.
Before he disappeared again, Cortex spotted Cloak pulling a sword.
* * *
Dagger launched himself like a spear from the ceiling, the knives reforming first and pointed at Amira. She screamed for a moment but darted out-of-the-way. By the time he turned around and fully reformed, the girl was already on the other side of the room.
“Damn speedsters,” Dagger grumbled. “You always make this more difficult.”
“Please,” Amira asked holding her hands up, “please don’t kill us.”
“Sorry, but we always finish a job,” Dagger replied with a toothy smile. “Nothing personal,” he said shifting back into his shadow form and melted to the floor.
* * *
Cloak reappeared suddenly, his blade pointed squarely at Cortex’s chest. The smaller mentalist anticipated the attack and dodged the thrust, rolling to the middle of the room where the couch left dimples in the carpet. As Cloak turned to strike again, Cortex extended his telekinetic powers to the kitchen. A dozen steel knives launched from the cooking board and knife blocks with the point aimed directly at the mentalist assassin. Cloak stopped most the knives with his own telekinetic shield that deflected the projectiles to the side and swatted away the few that slipped through with his sword.
“You are good, boy, but you are only delaying the inevitable,” Cloak growled. “I will make you watch the life drain from her body before I end you.”
* * *
Amira lost track of Dagger when his shadow form melded with the black shadows of the destroyed apartment. She scanned the room, using her Enhanced speed to quickly swivel her head to continually look around. She did not see the shadow moving slowly on the ground at the base of the wall. As she leaned over to look in the kitchen, she felt a hand grab her hair from behind and pull hard, snapping her head backwards and exposing the bronze flesh of her throat. The assassin’s strength was too much as he dragged her down to her knees.
“Amira,” Cortex cried in desperation from across the room as he dodged another sword slash from Cloak.
“Sleep well, señorita,” Dagger said as he reformed standing above her. Amira could see the blade that would end her life gleaming from the light spilling in the apartment through the hole in the wall. She would join Papa very soon.
“Allah alrahman alraheem,” she whispered closing her eyes. She only hoped it was quick.
The end never came.
Startled by a shattering crash of wood and metal above her, Amira reopened her eyes. The assassin was no longer above her but attempting stand up on the other side of the room, shaking his head and yelling obscenities in Spanish. As she moved, something metallic with sharp points poked into her skin, the apartment front door handle was resting against her knee with wood splinters jutting out around it. Pieces of the reinforced door, designed to withstand several shotgun rounds at close range, littered the living room floor around her. She looked over to the front door frame. The door jambs cracked in several places, the wooden supports protruded from the wall. The steel hinges that used to hold the door bent in half. In the middle of it was the last Enhanced she expected.
“Dweeb,” said Justice grinning like a kid on Christmas morning, “I’m hanging out with you more often. You know how to show a buddy a good time.”