Courtesy: Part 7

Jaclyn responded, “What kind of growths?”

“The last report said smooth grey skin over their skin, and no eyes or mouth,” Kayla paused, “Creepy.”

Haley’s voice came over the comm, “Do you know where?”

“I’ll send you coordinates,” Kayla’s connection clicked to a close.

It sounded like Haley hoped to do something to slow the spread. I wanted to ask her what, but this wasn’t the time. We had other problems.

Gifford wasn’t putting up with Vaughn’s attempt to keep him in the air. Gritting his teeth, he’d used his own control over wind to push down harder and even to direct wind at Vaughn and Justice Fist, causing Jody and Dayton to grab toward Sean—who couldn’t reach them. He’d been blown a foot further than they.

Not that any of them were following. They’d been blown upward. As Vaughn clenched his fists and stared, they slowed and stopped drifting apart.

Then the wind hit us—Jaclyn, Izzy, Amy, and I. Cassie had moved off to the side and avoided being in the path.

In Izzy’s case, the wind might as well have not existed. She didn’t move. The rest of us did. I’d written the software with the idea that it might have to handle wind.

I hadn’t designed it with the idea that it would have to keep people stationary in the face of hurricane force winds and that’s what we were facing.

We were all blown toward the forest, the trees becoming more visible by the second—not that we waited. We all flew upward which was good in that it pulled us out of the direct path of the wind, but bad in that we were flying away from the action.

No doubt recognizing that she was the only one of us with a chance to act, Izzy flew toward Gifford, still holding the unconscious body of BFG with her left arm, and hit him in the abdomen, causing him to gasp for air. Then she hit him in the face, knocking him out.

To my surprise, Gifford, Hunter, and the other people he’d been holding in the air (as well as his unconscious body) all floated upward.

I understood why in almost the same moment—Vaughn—because he and Justice Fist rose too. Not to mention that all the pressure on us ended.

It couldn’t have been easy, but Vaughn not only kept everyone in the air, but also brought them to a smooth stop despite Gifford’s opposing force disappearing without notice.

Surprising no one, Gordon shot forward to say, “Why’d you have to do that?”

Behind him, the Coffeeshop Illuminati that his own wind kept in the air dropped a few feet, their expressions communicating the thought, “I’m gonna die,” even through their masks. I even heard a muffled scream.

They didn’t fall, but I understood their concern.

Izzy didn’t back down. Holding up her fist to show Gordon, she said, “This.”

I zoomed in as I descended toward the rest of the group. Stuck to Izzy’s gauntlet was a piece of thin, grey film in the shape of the right side of Gifford’s face.

A quick look at Gifford showed a subtle difference in color in his face where the film had come off. The frayed edges helped too. There wasn’t enough of a difference before the punch, but the contrast between normal skin and the film made it clear afterward.

Gordon stared at it, his brow furrowed, “What is that?”

“I think it’s mushroom. The police are seeing people whose faces have disappeared under it. It might be the first stage of colonization, but it might also be designed to allow infected agents to go unnoticed,” Izzy stuffed the filmy mess in her hand in one of the sample containers on her utility belt, adding, “I hope we can analyze this.”

I didn’t think we could, but I thought she was right in her guess.

Gordon, though, must have stopped listening partway through. He turned his attention to Hunter, shouting, “What is this shit? What did you do? You’re his friend.”

Hunter held out his hands, “I didn’t do anything! I didn’t know they could make this stuff. They’re changing it on their own now and that’s not supposed to be possible. The League’s jet destroyed the brain. They must have figured out how to make it earlier. Since it’s dead now, they shouldn’t be able to absorb and control people unless they grew a second brain.”

Izzy looked at him, “Is that possible?”

Hunter looked up at her, “I don’t know. None of this should have happened. For all I know, they can do anything now.”

To me, the fact that we didn’t notice the film was on him hinted that we might be dealing with a second brain for the mushroom army. If I had the option, I’d have set up a backup for my brain.

Meanwhile, in the background, Hal had been using the jet’s lasers to burn the tendrils away as Cassie and I both took shots at the tendrils we could see.

9 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 7”

  1. “To me, the fact that we didn’t know this was on him hinted that we might be dealing with a second brain”

    I think the “was on him” might be a typo? Like extra words.

  2. This is of course why we shouldn’t make things that can self modify. If they every “accidently” modify off the restrictions then the sky’s the limit!

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