The green eye blinked, and looked around the room. I held my breath, wondering if they’d see through the spell. It wasn’t a rational thought. Weird fleshy bits with eyes weren’t a faerie thing that I’d ever heard of.
I supposed though that that kind of thing would have fit comfortably with some of the weirder comics I’d seen—the ones that veered into horror.
And what was going on with them anyway? Where did they come from? One of the science labs? I thought harder. For all I knew one of the first years could separate into little bits of him or herself.
That was gross at best.
Except… They’d said Hunter. That cleared it up—to a degree. Hunter was a first year student—Diva’s kid. Haley and I had met him on practically the first day we were here. Both of them were able to grow creatures from the cells of their body.
Maybe he could grow communicators? They didn’t seem to be mind controlled unless the control was extremely subtle.
Either way it was interesting. I’d never heard of Diva being able to act as her team’s switchboard. She was more famous for duplicating movie creatures.
That led to a paranoid thought–had I seen anything that Hunter couldn’t have done all by himself? He could have grown the goblins and the troll.
Then I thought a little more, and realized that he couldn’t. Amy had said that she could handle absorbing normal beings’ essences, but not powerful magical beings like the troll.
So it had to be Adam being helped by or manipulated by faeries. Or the Nine. Someone, anyway. Hunter could be collaborating with him though–willingly or unwillingly.
The impression I’d gotten was that Adam was working with small, and not very powerful faeries. It was called the Shade Circle, after all, and not the Winter Court or the Duchy of… Big Evil People?
Sean clenched his fist as Calvin stared directly at us.
I tried to catch his eye and shook my head, hoping he’d recognize what I meant, and wishing desperately that Daniel were here.
Calvin turned his head toward the door, and said, “Cindy?” Next to him, Paula opened her mouth as if she were about to ask him a question, her dark curls getting into her mouth as she turned her head.
She spat them out.
Inexplicably, that was when I noticed that she was wearing yellow lipstick.
Maybe at that moment we should have attacked. With different opponents maybe I would have, but I didn’t. Only Amy and I had chance of taking a punch from them. The others would have to count on mobility, and there was nowhere to move.
I activated the bots, and checked the laser’s status.
Cindy stepped into the room, looking like I remembered her–no makeup, straight black hair, and wearing the school training costume like the other two.
Calvin turned his head back toward us. “I don’t know who you are, but you can’t beat us. We’re descended from this world’s most dangerous men. Unlike them, we’re training to to be heroes. Surrender, and we won’t hurt you.”
The world stopped shimmering. Samita had dropped the invisibility spell.
I didn’t even have time to complain before she started talking.
Standing up straight in her Red Hex costume, staff in her hand. “You won’t need to hurt us. You won’t even need to fight us. I’m Samita, one of the third year students. Something’s gone wrong. We’ve been invaded by the fae, and we’ll need your help to set everything right.”
Haley took up where Samita left off. “You know all of us. We’re Stapledon students just like you are.”
Calvin had nodded as Samita talked, listening. Cindy folded her arms across her chest. Paula, like Calvin, nodded along as they spoke.
Based on that, I felt like we’d have a chance, and maybe in a minute we’d be nine strong instead of six.
I was wrong.
Paula opened her mouth to reply and all three of their faces turned red, their expressions to snarls.
Calvin punched directly at Haley who somehow managed to duck and roll to the side. Calvin had punched with his right arm. With his right arm stretched forward, he’d left his chest and face completely open. His left arm hung by his side, unused, blocking nothing.
Forgetting about my lasers and the bots I’d activated, I punched him in the solar plexus as hard as I could. That threw him backwards with enough force that he hit the wall on the othe side of the room, cracking it, and getting enough lift that he dropped a foot to hit the ground.
I got lucky. I hadn’t been thinking ahead when I punched. A good hit to the solar plexus could rupture a person’s abdomen, killing them. Calvin wasn’t having any trouble breathing.
It was obvious from the howl he gave as he rushed me that he wasn’t doing any of the gasping for breath that a good, nonlethal punch to the abdomen usually produced.
This time I remembered my weapons, and started firing, hitting him with more than ten goobots before he fell on the floor. He struggled, trying to pull himself free of the strands. He’d probably manage it eventually, but for now he was only managing to get more stuck.
Even as relief began to wash over me, a scream filled the room. In the peripheral vision of my HUD, I realized that Paula had charged Samita, and that Amy had stepped in, stabbing Paula in the gut.
Despite everything I’d experienced in fighting the Cabal a year ago, Paula didn’t yank the spear out as the wound began to heal around it, and punch Amy into the wall.
Instead, she lay on the ground groaning as the gem in Amy’s armor began to glow a brighter red.
I didn’t have time to absorb that because even as I realized that Amy was draining Paula’s essence, a bright flash of lightning and the sound of thunder filled the room.