Chunks of the rock wall flew in all directions, both into and out of the shop. Worse, a huge slab of rock from just above where Amy and Izzy broke through waited until after the initial crash to fall.
It came to rest inside the hall, its lower end wedged against the remains of the shop’s rear entrance.
Noting that the chunk of rock was not only between us and Daniel, Cassie, and Camille, but also between us and the exit we’d planned to use, it was time to re-think that part of the plan. I wondered if we should follow Izzy and Amy out of the shop they’d wrecked, but that question was answered quickly in the negative.
Taking a booming punch that I couldn’t see, but heard and felt, Amy flew back out of the shop, hitting the rock chunk that fallen in the hallway, shattering it. Rock shards hit the Rocket suit, some of them as big as golf balls.
Haley dropped behind me. Samita said a few words I didn’t catch, and then stumbled on a piece of rock, ducking in time to avoid a chunk of rock the size of her head.
In front of us, Amy rolled off the dust and rock bits that remained after she hit. Then she ran back into the shop, meeting another unseen, but booming blow which turned into a series.
“If we’re fortunate,” Samita said, “Amy will keep Izzy away from the rest of us, and we’ll be able to get close enough to free the rest of them.”
Assuming it’s really them, I thought.
“And if we’re unfortunate,” Vaughn said, his voice coming from behind me, “we’ll get in their way and be turned into a bloody paste.”
Sean muttered, “No kidding, I can feel every hit.”
Samita stepped backward, handing Sean one of the pepper shakers. “We can free them. If it’s a glamour of the lesser fae, it might even break without magic. Sometimes all you need is to show the truth.”
That made sense. If it was that easy to break the illusion, they’d work some reason that Daniel shouldn’t look into our heads into their story.
“Don’t try to fight them no matter what,” I said, wondering if we should go through one of the shops we’d passed. Daniel and the rest would be sure to follow us, and if he wasn’t using telepathy to sense what was ahead, we’d be able to pepper them into reality before they knew it.
Of course, if he was using his ability to sense the immediate future, I had no idea what would work.
As if to illustrate that being thoughtful doesn’t always get you as far as it ought to, the crashing inside turned in to a thundrous series of crashes that reminded me of what it might sound like if I dropped a stack of plates–giant plates in this case. Along with the sound of rock came the sound of shattering windows, all of the noises moving in the direction from which we’d come.
Haley had moved to stand next to me in the front. In a low voice, she said, “They’re trying something. I can smell it, and Camille’s heartbeat is rising.”
“We should walk up to them and talk.” I started to follow my own advice, but as I took my first step, my legs felt heavy. Behind me, I heard people fall. Haley had taken a step with me, but stopped. “No one else can move.”
Samita and Sean lay on the ground. Vaughn had managed to stay upright by leaning against the wall, and falling to one knee.
Not sure in the moment if I should loose a barrage of goobots at Daniel and the others, I reminded myself that this was the non-violent version of the fight.
If I didn’t push him, Daniel wouldn’t try to hurt anyone.
Not reading my mind, but still choosing the right moment, Daniel said, “Please don’t fight. Nick, take off the armor. Haley, lay down on the on ground. We’re not here to hurt you. Everything’s going to be okay.”
I thought about it, and commanded the suit to disassemble. The main suit turned into a block of ceramic. The inner layer separated into my stealth suit.
Somewhere behind me, I heard Sean sigh.
I felt the gravity then. The stealth suit included the same artificial muscles that the main suit did, but not as many or as strong. It didn’t support the head, for one.
In the main suit, I stood effortlessly. In the stealth suit, I let myself be pulled down to the ground.
Haley went down with me, mouthing the words, “Are you okay?”
“I think so.”
Daniel, Cassie and Camille walked toward us, Daniel in front. Cassie held the Abominator gun in her hands. That was an even better reason not to fight. The gun existed to destroy, and I wouldn’t put it past it to fire any time it could get away with it.
I was going to have break Daniel’s enchantment myself, and I had an idea of how to do it. I just didn’t like it much. “Why are you doing this? You know us. We’re not going to hurt anybody.”
Daniel didn’t say anything, and neither did anyone else. He’d probably told them to stay quiet.
“You don’t really know Hunter or Adam. You’ve known me for years. I’m guessing that they’ve told you I’m mind controlled or something.”
His mouth twitched. I’d almost certainly hit there. “You put everything in place there yourself. You know it’s good. It probably even includes techniques your dad has used against the Dominators. Now ask yourself, how in the world Hunter and Adam would know I’d been taken over?”
He bit his lip. I hoped this meant I’d struck home. If I hadn’t I might have to get personal. Hopefully he’d forgive me later.