Paradox – Chapter 33

“Solid Copy is down,” someone yelled through the interal aircraft channel.

Like everyone else, Scimitar leaned towards one of the external camera monitors as it swiveled forward and tracked dust cloud from Justice and Solid Copy. The aircraft was in a gradual right turn to bleed off speed so the task of looking at the monitors was a littler more difficult than usual. He noted mentally that an elementalist Enhanced must have created that barrier of ice. Khaleel could barely make out Solid Copy’s unmoving body in one of the other camera images at the base of the ice wall.

“There,” said Gil Thorton standing next to Scimitar and pointing to the screen they shared. “That woman, that’s Valkyrie. She did it.”

“We’ll arrest her, sir,” Scimitar said nodding towards the Director. Thorton did not see him or ignored him as the Bravo commander leaned over to one of the aircraft crewmembers, a short, brown-haired mundane that Khaleel had passed a few times in the halls.

“Target that woman and open fire. Don’t stop firing until she’s down or we’re out of bullets,” Thorton commanded calmly. The aircrew gunner’s eyes opened as he realized what he was just told to do.

“Sir?” the aircrew gunner asked.

“Are you hard of hearing, mister?” The Director got louder with each word. “She just attacked one of our agents to protect a fleeing felon. She’s a dangerous criminal and must be neutralized. Fire!”

“Yes, sir,” the gunner said as he flipped pushed the joystick to turn the gun camera around. Once Valkyrie was in the crosshairs, the gunner pushed a button locking her in and the gatling gun starting firing. Khaleel could feel weapon’s electric motor pulsating underneath his feet.

“She has a another shield up. Keep firing!” The Director did not take his eyes off the gunner’s camera as the rounds chipped away the hastily constructed ice shield.

“No!” screamed Trauma as she charged up from the back of the Osprey. Khaleel grabbed his girlfriend, the woman of his dreams, and spun his body between her and the Director. “Please, Khaleel, that’s Alaina’s family down there. Valkyrie is her aunt.” Khaleel could see the tears forming in Trauma’s eyes, but they had a job to do.

“Don’t,” Scimitar warned as he looked directly at Trauma. “There is nothing we can do for them. They all made their own…”

The aircraft suddenly darkened and violently rocked back and forth. Bolts of electricity snaked down the metal frame along the left side. There was only one person who could do that. When the left engine failed and the aircraft lurched over, Scimitar transformed his left arm into a clamp and snapped on the support frame. Before he could wrap his hand under Trauma, she tumbled helplessly out of reach to the back of the doomed Osprey.

* * *

Khaleel groaned as he moved a piece of the broken aircraft off his legs. He was sore and probably had several deep laceration but it was nothing his Enhanced body could not repair in a few minutes. Since joining the JTF, his transformation powers and his recovery time had strengthened. Through the smoke, he could make out the silhouettes of power armor moving around him. The members of Bravo company and Thorton wore protected in their armor, but Scimitar could see one of the Bravo members, the mundane medic, working on two people, likely the pilots. He looked around several times but he still could not find Trauma.

“Trauma!” he yelled in various directions. “Kim! Talk to me, where are you?” Only the moans of the injured and the sounds of the JTF armor responded. “Director Thorton?”

“I’m here,” said the Director nearby. Through the hazy smoke from the nearby grass fires, the Director was kneeling and tossing pieces of the aircraft to the side looking for something. When he stood up, Director Thorton was holding his M4 in the ready position. From his vest, he pulled out a glowing-green magazine of Equalizers and slammed it in the rifle. “Glad you made it.”

“Have you seen Trauma?”

Thorton shook his head. “No, and right now we need to move. Stay here and tell Trauma to help the injured.”

Khaleel started to worry and did not even watch Thorton as he led the uninjured members of Bravo through the smoke towards the Grayson home.

“Kim, dammit, answer me. Where are you?” Scimitar screamed. The wreckage was spread out and she could be anywhere, hurt or worse. “Trauma!”

A soft moan and the smallest movement of debris caught Sciimitar’s attention. He raced to the location and found Kim barely visible under the debris. She was pinned under a large piece of the tail assembly.

“Hang on, baby,” Khaleel said leaning down to wipe the hair from Kim’s face and reassure her and himself. Kim moaned as she looked at him. He knew she was in serious pain.

His arms were as strong as any tank, but his lower body was the same as any other non-tank. He would never be as strong or fast as Justice, as powerful as Archangel, or even as multitalented as Trauma, and it bothered him. He might be the Enhanced team leader, but the mundances do not care. They were only interested in the heroes with the largest EDCCS rankings.

Scimitar tried to push the debris off Trauma, but it was too heavy and barely moved. He willed his arms into razor-thin blades and forced them along Trauma’s body on the ground. The arms transformed again into a giant scissor jack and the tail section fell to the side and off Trauma. Khaleel quickly changed his arms back to flesh as he kneeled down.

“I’m not going to lie,” he said looking up and down his girlfriend, “you’re still hot but your body look like shit.”

Kim screamed and fell back to ground as she tried sit up, but the pain was too much. “Damn, that hurts.”

“Keep still.” Scimitar said as he cradled her neck.

“Screw that,” Trauma answered as she slowly moved her weakened arms to her legs. She closed her eyes and focused her power, tapping whatever reserves she had stored to force the healing process. She clenched her teeth as her nervous system returned to her feet and legs and the pain of her crushed limbs surged through her body.

“You might be a healer, but take slow down. You don’t have to rush.”

“Yes, I do, Khaleel. We need to calm the situation down before this gets any worse.”

“We just got shot down, Kim. It can’t get much worse than that.”

Trauma flexed her newly repaired arms and legs before slowly standing up. “Yes, it can. These JTF guys are going to want some payback.”

“Good. I’ll kill that bitch myself for hurting you.”

“Khaleel! She is only trying to protect her family. I’m sure Wei is fine, but we need to go find him and stop the JTF from doing something to Valkyrie. Let’s go.” Before he could protest, Trauma ran after Bravo company.

“I’m not talking about Valkyrie,” Scimitar said before following.