He didn’t get up easily. He pushed himself up one hand at a time, swaying as he made it up on two legs.
Taking an experimental step, he spied something on the roof, and bent over to get it—the automatic pistol. When he came up the second time, he seemed stronger. He stood up normally.
Quickly, he pointed the gun past me—probably at Vaughn.
This time the wind came up as a roaring, howling blast that drew the man into the air, and threw him off the building.
If I’d been able to gasp, I might have.
Vaughn had used lethal force twice, but I wasn’t complaining about it. The guy had been planning to kill him, and Marcus when they couldn’t defend themselves. Anyway, given what had just happened, the chances were likely that it wasn’t lethal enough.
Still, was the guy dead or not? And if not, how long would it take before he make it back up to the roof to finish his job?
I hoped desperately it would be after the effects of the paralysis wore off. I wiggled my toes with the idea that I’d soon be able to move the rest of my leg. Some moved more easily than others.
Maybe getting messages from my brain to my toes wouldn’t make any difference anywhere else, but I couldn’t think of anything that would bring me closer to actually being able to move.
Near me, but out of sight, someone who had been hit by Vaughn’s lightning moaned and whimpered.
Just a little louder than their voices and the wind, Marcus said, “Hey guys, I think I worked my way around the paralysis—not all the way around, but I can move.”
“Anybody there? Look, I know Storm King can hear me even if he can’t say so. Can anyone else give me a sign?”
From the tone of his voice, I couldn’t say he was panicking, but he sounded nervous. I would have sounded nervous too.
In that moment, he stood alone.
Times like this made me wish Daniel had decided to go to college in Grand Lake instead of Chicago. A telepathic group discussion would have gone a long way just then. I could have told Marcus about the van we’d parked in the alley next to the building. Driving away had a lot going for it.
“I’m thinking this through guys. We can’t stay here, but I can’t carry you all away at once, and I don’t want to leave anybody. I’m wondering… Could a zap from Storm King clear the paralysis, maybe? We could try it on Captain Commando first.”
He paused, and then in a more excited voice said, “No! Got it! I’ll change into a glider, and Storm King can float us out of here.”
He grabbed Vaughn, Cassie, and I, placing us next to each other. Then he changed, and I felt straps surround me. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see his body stretching into a wide pair of wings.
“Don’t start the wind just yet,” he said. “It’ll take a minute before the wings are strong enough.”
A boot scraped across the edge of the roof.
I glanced toward the noise. The leader had climbed over the edge of the roof to my left.
He held the paralysis gun, pulling it up, and aiming.
I wanted to say something. I couldn’t.
It turned out I didn’t need to. I half expected that he’d tell Vaughn to start the wind going, but he didn’t.
The straps, tendrils, or whatever they were withdrew at a speed that caused us all to roll sideways while Marcus flopped over in a clatter of wings, and weird noises that sounded a lot like “splort.”
It didn’t leave me in a great position either. I’d managed to roll completely on my back, the rockets holding the middle of my back above the ground. My head flopped over, the helmet touching the roof. When I was a little kid, looking at the ceiling upside down like that, and pretending I could walk on it had seemed fun.
Under the current circumstances? Much less fun.
On the bright side, when I tried to get up, I actually moved my right leg a little.
I didn’t have time to feel good about that. From my right came a flash of light, the crackle of electricity, and the sound of Cassie saying, “Fuck, that hurt!”