Ch. 9.3 – Sara

The Weave sang with a sense of rightness. Sara sighed happily and played the threads in harmony with it. I don’t want to call it destiny, she mused, but this is easier than falling. Less painful, too, she quipped to herself. Molly glanced over at where the Weaver sat, her eyes flickering to Sara’s gently grasping fingers. Sara grinned. “Just helping the arc of history bend along. It’s like getting water to flow downhill.”

“Just moving a few rocks, then?” the Ghost Dragon asked, glancing over at their Blaze-wielders. Most of Nicole’s companions – why did she drop Anna? I liked Anna, Sara thought – were gone, as was Akira, and only Eve and Powerstar remained on the rooftop with their friends. My protectors, she added to herself, smile swallowed by a grimace. Her gaze dropped to the bracelet that restored most of her power. My team? She shook her head quickly, decisively. Later. Not everything is about you, Sara Taylor. Finally, the Weaver nodded. “Don’t push him into it,” Molly warned, sitting next to Sara and draping an arm around her shoulders. “I know you’re proud of Alex, but this has to be his choice.”

“Pfft,” Sara retorted. “He’ll whine, he’ll protest, he’ll insist that he’s not up to the job – and then ‘Captain Bastion’ will take it even if we all try to talk him out of it.” She shook her head, smile reborn as she watched Alex talk animatedly with the Sword and the superhero. “Alex can go on all he likes about how he was nobody special. Even if that were true, he’s certainly something more now.”

Molly scanned the skyline around them. The city was as dark and quiet as it ever got. Which, being LA, isn’t very dark or quiet, but at least it’s almost peaceful. Street lights glowed beneath them, and stars were visible overhead through a handful of clouds. “Are you thinking of joining them?” Molly asked.

For several seconds, Sara watched the trio discuss the Bastion Knights. “Not yet,” she said at last. “Even if I’m ever really healed, I’m not going to be the Blaze type, and they’re going to need to push their niche hard to sell this to the Allies.” She focused on Alex, his excited smile warming her as though the sun was overhead. “Maybe someday.” After a few more seconds, she sighed, resigned. “For now, the Council is finally going to get what it wants. I’ll have enough backup that you won’t have to watch me 24/7, and I can sell them the Bastions that way.”

They sat there for a moment, enjoying the nocturnal peace, listening to the city breathe. Then Molly gave Sara’s shoulders a gentle squeeze. “I won’t tell you not to do it,” the Ghost Dragon said gently, “but if you join the Council Majestic, it shouldn’t be for us.”

“Yeah, because you’ve totally been following me around wiping my nose because it’s your life’s dream,” Sara countered. Her grin returned. “Besides, I’ll find ways to enjoy it. They want the goth girl to join their insular little club? You’d think wizards of all people would know to be careful what they wish for.” Molly laughed, and Sara joined her.

A Rift gate tore the world two blocks away, slicing away their laughter. Eight men in black suits appeared in it, brandishing Majestech weapons. Alice appeared beside Molly, adjusting her Wonder Rose mask as she glared at the rip in space. “Complex inbound,” she explained, twirling her wand. “Ideas?”

Molly stood calmly, hands making fists. “The obvious one,” she growled, then leaped. Her jump carried her over to the Rift easily. Alex was already taking to the air, while Eve and Powerstar moved in opposite directions to flank them. That was fast, Sara thought. Good thing, too. We’re going to need that coordination if West sent a real team this time. Maxine flowed through shadow, moving to come up underneath the agents.

Then the Rift shimmered and shifted. The entire unit vanished again, appearing on the ground in front of a building between the one they’d arrived on and where Sara was. “What in – are they crazy?” Sara blurted, fingers dancing in the air before her to stabilize the Weave around the Rift fields. “You can’t just tear gateways like that!”

Wonder Rose glanced at Sara as the Weaver’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “Unless you can?” Sara muttered, looking down at her hands. “There’s no damage.”

“Rift Prime?” Rose asked. “Can you check?”

Sara looked up. Alex had already flown most of the way back, and Molly was crouching for a return jump. “I can try,” she agreed, and played the flow of the Weave more subtly, more deeply.

Almost immediately, Sara felt the Weave recoil, as if the world itself was appalled. Ew. Forcing through the repulsion, Sara threaded her Weaving onward, following the Rift back to its source. The helpless feeling that rippled back to her was so intense that Sara cast her Vision out before she could think better of it.

In that instant, the Weaver knew three things. First, Alice was right about a Rift Prime creating the gateways. Second, the Prime was an unwilling servant of their assailants. Finally, she felt Travis West’s psychic grip on the poor soul’s will. That – that’s what he wants to do to me, Sara realized, her entire Weaving collapsing as she stumbled back.

“Whoa,” Alex blurted, landing between her and the edge. He put one gentle hand on her back. “Rooftop, remember?” Sara turned, looking up at her champion. Alex met her eyes and smiled gently, then looked back up. His smile vanished, and those eyes lit up like twin stars. Somewhere below them, the Complex agents howled and cursed. “If you can’t play nice,” he rumbled, “we take away your toys.” Eight black-and-silver rifles flew up to the roof, forming a neat pile.

Again the Rift flickered, but this time the agents didn’t reappear. Maxine leaped out of Alex’s shadow, then hugged the Blaze master. “That was a thing of beauty, Cap!”

Alex sighed. “Thanks, Max.” He stared at the pile of weapons. “I’m guessing that the Complex puts far too many security measures in those for us to use them.”

“Good guess,” Rose chuckled.

Eve walked back to Alex, turning the weapons into jam as she passed them. “No more objections to your title, then, Captain Bastion?” she asked gently.

“I can tell which way the wind is blowing,” he replied with a shrug. “Any idea how they keep doing that? I thought one Rift gateway was tricky, let alone that space-sliding trick they used.”

Molly loped over, Powerstar floating behind her. “That’s putting it mildly,” Molly growled. “Casual Rift use of that sort is just asking for Feedback, or worse.”

Sara shook her head. “West has a Rift Prime,” she explained. “A prisoner, a slave, exactly like what he plans to do to me.” Molly shuddered, Alex gasped, Eve and Powerstar stared with bulging eyes, Max’s jaw dropped, and Alice snarled with bared teeth. “We have to rescue them.”

“Okay,” Max cut in, “do you mean ‘them’ as in you don’t have a gender, the Prime’s a third-gender person, zie’s not human, or there’s more than one?”

“It’s only one person, but I don’t have anything else,” Sara admitted, “just Prime, will-whammied and helpless.” A trembling fist clenched at her side. “Hopeless, too, until – zie – felt me. Then desperate begging in the instant before the contact broke. I don’t even know where…”

Sara almost smiled. Oh, they’re gong to hate this plan, she thought. “…but I know how to find this Prime.”

“No,” Molly insisted.

“You don’t even know what my plan is!” Sara objected.

Molly crossed her arms. “I know you, girl. No.”

Alex looked from Sara to Molly and back. “Um, new guy’s lost again. Why’s this a ‘no’?”

“She’s going to let herself get captured,” Molly said flatly. Alex’s eyes went wide. Sara nodded, trying not to feel sheepish.

“No!” Alex blurted.

Yeah, this one’s going to take a while, Sara thought wearily.

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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