Ch. 16.2 – Molly

Alex raised an eyebrow at the six Complex agents facing them with empty eyes and Majestech weaponry. “Is there something wrong with this picture, or is it just me?” he wondered.

Molly sidestepped a beam of Woven suppression and hit the offending agent in his chest with a measured palm strike. He shook, then collapsed, weapon skittering away. “Don’t assume it’s easy,” she warned, warily approaching her remaining opponent. *Tranquility Sanction, I think,* she sent, eyes narrowing. Sara hissed. *Considering what West is really after, that was inevitable.*

*Well, at least he’s not pretending any more,* the Weaver retorted, wrenching the enemy agents’ Talents off-balance with her own.

Alex’s head tilted with uncertain curiosity. *I don’t quite remember this Sanction bunch…* he admitted.

*Gray Company doesn’t generally kidnap their Majestic peers,* Molly explained, *and they save mind control for a last resort. Those are both the Tranqs’ bread and butter.*

Molly felt a wave of renewed outrage rippling from the Bastion. *I’m getting really sick of the Complex,* he snapped, throwing his opponents back with a wave of force.

*Join the club,* Sara sent, dancing away from an agent’s grip. *Oh, wait, you did.*

A flood of leaden rejection descended over the stadium’s Majestic energies. As one, their eyes went wide. The Skeptic, Dunn realized, their shared revulsion echoing through the bond. *Molly, as soon as he gets here-* Alex sent.

*I know the plan,* Molly insisted, cutting him off. A quick glance at Sara silenced her forming protest. I know, dear one, but we both knew how this had to go. The Ghost Dragon forced herself not to mirror the Weaver’s worried look. *Alice is going to need your help dealing with Ekaida, Sara,* she insisted.

*Rose can handle it,* Sara replied, creating a sudden mix of Weaving, Anima and Vision that knocked one of her opponents cold.

*Perhaps,* Molly continued, a sweeping kick sending her own foe sprawling, *but someone’s going to have to keep Travis busy while she does.* Mutinous concern rippled from the Weaver, but Sara relented.

The Skeptic’s deadening presence stalked unmistakably towards them. Alex made a fist, and subtle electric force stunned his still-prone opponents. *We know which way he’s coming from,* the Bastion insisted. *Go!*

*I love you,* Sara sent. Molly leaped suddenly into the two remaining agents, slamming them to the ground and disrupting their Anima fields. Both turned into quivering wrecks. The Ghost Dragon held out her hand, Sara took it, and they ran.

*I love you too,* Alex whispered. Molly felt him form his sword of Blaze and wonder, his stance reflecting his resolve. Bastion, indeed, she thought.

Travis’ Vision force hammered into the duo. *Running? How surprisingly practical,* he sent. Molly could only get a sense of him being above, somewhere. Looking down on us. Typical.

Seven minds bolstered their two, and even the Vision Prime recoiled. *You’ll be surprised, all right,* Captain Bastion shot back.

*My dear boy,* Travis oozed, his Vision projection virtually dripping with arrogance, *you’re not going to surprise me with anything that can so much as inconvenience my task force. If you surrender the Weaver now, the rest of you can still leave with your so-called minds intact.*

Sara laughed, her faith in them echoing through the Vision alongside her mirth. *That’s your ‘A’ game, Travis? Really? How many times do we have to humiliate you to get a hint past your ego?*

*You’re the one I want, Taylor,* Travis noted, his tone almost bored. *Sooner or later, I get what I want. It’s like gravity. Inescapable.*

*And like gravity, you suck!* Sara exploded back. Alex laughed.

The inner wall erupted, throwing masonry and steel around the duo. A massive red-brass claw darted through the flying rubble, grabbing Molly and throwing her out onto the pitch. Merciful Bride — what was that? the Ghost Dragon wondered.

When the world righted itself, Ekaida was towering over the Majestic warrior. “And you call yourself a dragon,” she chuckled, scaled — but otherwise human — arms crossed. Lord, she changed that fast? Even for a Daimani…I’ve never seen anything like it. Letting none of her concern reach her skin, Molly leaped instantly into a ready stance. Then she noticed the cameras around a dais in the center of the arena. Great. Schism backlash is going to hurt.

“Smile, darling,” Ekaida purred, “you’re live and direct.”

“I try,” Molly shot back, throwing her strongest punch into Ekaida’s chin. The Daimani recoiled, her neck becoming serpentine and rippling as her head flew back. Ekaida flowed with the force of the blow, brass-scaled body expanding, wings and tail forming and lashing out, arms and legs becoming taloned limbs.

Screams echoed around them.

Molly whirled around, watching in horrified disbelief as several cameras turned in their direction, while everyone not in a news crew ran the other way. They can see us? she wondered in shock. A moment later, her Majestic senses picked up the subtle, powerful Vision energies radiating from the Purity West blimp above them, patching the Schism with sheer power and a genius Dunn hadn’t believed him capable of. Reflexively, she blurred her features, becoming inhumanly nondescript. West, what have you done?

The Daimani roar at the heavens in defiance, shattering the stadium’s last fragments of calm. All the same, only two news crews chose that moment to run. Teams from every continent, Molly realized. Nineteen, still here. West planned this, used the Games as some sort of lure. Why?

*You’ll know soon enough,* Travis sent, laughing in her mind. Molly redoubled her Vision barriers, retreating from Ekaida while working to force the Sovereign out of her head. With sudden power, surprising the Ghost Dragon as much as West, Wonder Rose slammed a bolstered Vision shield into place across their minds.

West’s thought-howl echoed through the Vision world. Alice projected a wink in response. *Sorry, this chat room’s full,* she quipped.

*I owe you one, Rose,* Molly sent, maneuvering for position as Ekaida circled to stalk her.

*Don’t be ridiculous,* Alice replied. *Ekaida’s the only reason for us to stay at this point. I’m on my way.*

Molly grimaced. *It’s not that simple. Someone’s blocking Victor. Stay sharp.* She glanced around, mind reaching out to check on her charge. *Sara, don’t come after me — Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what are you wearing?*

Sara’s grin spread beneath a black masquerade mask. Combined with her sleeveless black mini dress over purple long-sleeved T-shirt and tights, she complemented Bastion, Rose and Powerstar handily. *Be honest. Is it me?* Molly kept her groan to their Vision bond. *Yeah, I know. Don’t worry, I’m using a Weave to cover the rest. Sure you can handle Ekaida?*

*Rose is coming to back me up. Join Max and Akira. The five of us should be able to handle any one foe, even her,* Molly sent.

That, of course, was when Ekaida’s backup appeared by the dragon’s side. He was clad in advanced black riot gear, a gas mask concealing the newcomer’s face. Even Molly’s Majestic senses couldn’t penetrate the man’s armor, though his powerful Anima and Travis’ control were equally unmistakable. Her new opponent hefted a morning star, its head cast from a single piece of majestas-enchanted metal. Well. That’s new. Molly braced herself. No Schism backlash means no point to holding back. Her new foe leaped two stories into the air, morning star hefted overhead. Good thing, too…

Written by Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan was born in the Bronx, New York, giving him the right to root for the Yankees while making less than six figures. After a long, largely pleasant interregnum in suburban Connecticut, he moved to the Inland Empire, California to be with his wonderful wife and muse, a stepson, and a crazed feline. An occasionally too-avid player of and writer for tabletop roleplaying games, his other passion is metaphysics, which informs most of his fiction.

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