Paradox – Chapter 9

“We want a vehicle, like one of those tanks the JTF uses. We’ll load up our hostages and drive out of the city. Once we get to a safe location, we’ll release them. And no drones. If we even think one is following us, I’ll put a bullet in the little girl’s skull. Got it?”

Scimitar shook his head back and forth. These demands were beyond reasonable and there was no way the JTF would let an Enhanced criminal like the big guy standing over Trauma out of their area of responsibility. They could care less about the two mundanes, the actual trigger men, Metro could have them, but the Enhanced was not getting away.

“I’m trying to help everyone here especially the hostages. The best resolution is for everyone to walk out of here. No one else needs to die tonight.”

“You are full of shit, man,” T said with an angry growl. “You come in here, acting like you want to help. Why don’t you tell the truth, bitch. Tell him you are JTF!”

“We’re just trying to resolve this peacefully. You don’t want the JTF to storm in…,” Scimitar shouted as the men raised their weapons.

“Shoot this motherfucker in the head,” T ordered Deuce, who was holding the AK. “He’s wearing full body armor.”

“Scimitar, he’s a mentalist!” Trauma shouted from the down the hallway.

Scimitar glanced over to his girlfriend ,standing in front of the other Enhanced, before refocusing on the Enhanced and the mundane with the rifle. She could take care of herself while he dealt with these two. His left arm reshaped to a large metal round shield as the rifle and pistol spewed fire and copper. The first rounds slammed against the shield and ricocheted through the store shattering the cold beer glass doors and destroying the aluminum cans in a shower of fizzy spray. Scimitar’s right arm formed into the curved sword of his namesake as he readied his attack.

As he stepped forward to slash at the AK rifle, Scimitar felt the momentary loss of body mass, the tell-tale sign of a mental blast, before he was launched backwards into the store knocking down the display for discounted whiskey and landing on stacks of the cheap beer the only fraternity members would dare drink. The room continued to flash from the AK as the mundane tried to score a headshot. Scimitar kept the shield up as round continue bound throughout the store and out of the front window. Scimitar noticed several Metro police officers ducked behind their cruisers as deflected rounds impacted outside.

“You are going to squeal, pig,” T screamed in-between rifle shots. “I’m going to gut you after I teach your girlfriend what a real man is like. Now, where are you my other little piggy?”

* * *

Strobe pulled back as Trauma tried to grab his hand. Although her quick shout of warning surprised him, the effect did not last and he quickly retreated out of reach of power.

“Don’t go anywhere,” she said to Strobe,”And keep them safe.” It was risk to leave the Enhanced with the hostages, but he genuinely seemed remorseful about what happened to the owner. He was not a cold-blooded killer like his brother.

Trauma gasped as Scimitar suddenly became airborne and was launched into the store racks by an unseen force. She knew it was T using a mental blast. He was likely only a category two but against a mentalist, that was enough. She needed to stop him first. Scimitar could take care of the mundane with the rifle once T was subdued.

She looked back as she approached T from the shadows. Strobe did not attempt to stop her or warn his brother even though he could see her sneaking closer to him. There was no much cover in the hallway, only a stack of beer ready to refill the refrigerated shelves provided any barrier between her and T. She ducked behind the stack and waited for Deuce to reload the rifle. Without her helmet, her head was vulnerable especially to the powerful rifle.

“You can’t hide in there forever, pig,” Deuce taunted as he continued his rapid-firing at Scimitar. Trauma just hoped her man could hold Deuce off just a little longer.

“Now, where are you my other little piggy?” T asked as he turned around to look down the dark hallway. He aimed the pistol down the hall as a blast of energy emitted from his body. “You can’t hide from me. Come out or I start shooting the mundanes.”

Trauma sighed and stood up from behind the stack of cans with her hands up. He was right, a mentalist could find anyone nearby they concentrated on. Cortex had performed the feat several times.

“Fine,” she said looking down trying to calm down the angry gunman and prevent him from shooting the defenseless hostages, “you got me.”

* * *

He’s a category two, Trauma thought triumphantly as T mentally held her by her throat and slammed her into the wall. During her basic training classes, Trauma remembered struggling during power identification exams. Initially, she was a support agent and was expected to identify wounds and treatments, not threats like a combat agent. When she was reclassified by the former Bravo company commander, she always felt behind Justice, Scimitar, and Solid Copy.

“No!” shouted Strobe as he stepped towards his brother, his heavy footsteps echoing throughout the hallway, “Let her go, T! This is over, don’t you get it? They could have rushed in here and killed us from the start but they are trying to save our lives.”

T growled as his lips curled. How dare his brother try to protect the JTF from him. “I don’t care, Clarence. These pigs took our father away and they will take us away from mama too. They don’t give a shit about any of us. We’re just street trash from the hood to the JTF.”

“You don’t give a shit about anyone but yourself, T. What did Mister Lee ever do to us? He was just trying to make a living. I was a dumbass to help you but I’m not going to embarrass momma or dad anymore.”

“Always the good boy,” T said clicking his tongue with a mocking tsk. “I rule this neighborhood and I say who needs to give me what’s mine. The JTF won’t let us go for these hostages but they will for their own agents, especially the woman.”

T pulled his pistol out of his waistband and aimed it at the hostages. The older woman screamed as she gathered her crying children in her arms.

“What are you doing? Put the gun down,” ordered Strobe.

“I’m increasing our chances, little brother. We’ll take the JTF woman and trade her for our freedom. The others are just dead weight.” T laughed.

“No more,” Strobe said stepping sideways in-between his brother and the mundane hostages. “We’re not going to hurt anyone else.”

“Get out of the way, Clarence or I’ll blow your fucking brains out. We both know you aren’t powerful enough to stop bullets…or me.”

“No!” Strobe said unmoving.

“Fine, have it your way,” T said aiming the gun at his brother’s chest. Before he could pull the trigger, Strobe release a brilliant blast of light that illuminated the hallway. T tried to shield his eyes but became disoriented and collapsed to the floor. Trauma felt the mental grip around her neck loosen.

Deuce saw the brilliant light flickering him and turned around as the power retreated back into Strobe. As he swung the rifle around to line up a shot at the traitor, he felt a crushing blow to his side. His body and head slammed against the wall creating a large crater in the drywall.

“Stay down, asshole, before you really get hurt,” Scimitar said to the dazed Deuce as he dropped the rifle, slid off Scimitar’s left shield arm, and collapsed unconscious to the floor.

“You okay?” Scimitar asked Trauma as he as she stood back up.

“All in a day’s work,” Trauma said winking. “But I’m the one that stopped this. Khaleel!” Trauma pointed as T raised the pistol at his brother.

The sword that was his right arm transformed into a long, narrow spear as Scimitar thrust his body forward at T. The point of the spear stabbed T in the forearm, pinning his hand with the gun to the floor.

“This one needs a long nap,” Trauma said as T cursed and struggled to fight with one free hand. He tried to swing but Trauma caught the punch and let her power flow through his hand. Ts’ eyes rolled backwards and his body went limp.

“Will he be okay?” Strobe asked walking towards Trauma looking down at his brother. Scimitar reformed the sword and held it at the ready.

“He’ll be fine, hun,” Trauma assured him. “I just told his body it was time to sleep. In four or five hours, he’ll wake up. He’ll be unhappy that he’s behind bars, but he won’t be tired anymore. I think Deuce will be black and blue for a few days.”

“Thank you,” Strobe said smiling at Trauma. “What now?”

“Clarence,” Scimitar said without emotion as his training taught him, “you are under arrest for the Enhanced murder of a mundane.”