Courtesy: Part 14

I asked, “Is that prescience or a guess?”

“Both,” Daniel said. “It’s the first place I imagined trying knowing that Bouman is now part of this mess, but then I directed my prescience at what would happen if we go there. I’m feeling the potential for things to go very badly or very well. Because the potential is so extreme, I’m thinking that it has to be the center of everything. We’ve just got to go in knowing there are no guarantees.”

“Or at least going in with as much information as we can,” I said. “I’d think that would improve our chances.”

“Just as long as we don’t think too long,” Daniel turned his head to look toward downtown.

Steel, concrete, and glass high-rises dominated our view of it, but we knew what we were looking for. Grand Lake’s city hall had been constructed in the late 1800s. Stone, wood, red brick, and iron, it spoke of another time, one in which the materials cost more than labor, allowing ornanamentation inside the building and outside.

I couldn’t see it yet, but I sent spybots ahead. I’d see it soon.

Izzy saw it before the rest of us and she wasn’t even flying ahead. The range of her sonar put mine to shame.

“Your guess was amazing,” she turned back to smile at him and Daniel smiled back. “But I wish you were wrong. City Hall is filled with fungus people and growths that fill whole rooms. They’re growing more drones or whatever we’re going to call the zombies that don’t have people inside.”

“Can you see Bouman?” Daniel had to be wondering for the same reason I was. If we knew where he was inside, maybe we could target him without fighting our way through the building.

“From this distance and through walls every person covered in fungus looks like everyone else. Even if we were closer, I’ve never met him.” I got Izzy’s point. If she had met him, maybe he’d have a hip replacement, fillings, or something that would make him stand out in a way that squishy flesh wouldn’t.

Though I couldn’t hear it, I felt Daniel think at her. From the accompanying wash of emotion, I had to guess it was something affectionate, but aloud he only said, “Then we’ll have to wait until we’re closer.”

“True,” I said, “let’s hope they don’t have mushroom missile launchers.”

Around that time, my bots sighted City Hall. If I’d been looking for support for the idea that Hunter had accidentally tapped into a hidden alien inheritance, possibly even the Xosk, I’d have felt vindicated by what the bots showed me.

Izzy had mentioned rooms full of mushroom fungus and fungus covered people. She hadn’t mentioned how City Hall now had fungus growing all over it and tendrils extending outward, some of them still spreading spores.

Even though she’d mentioned that every human covered with fungus looked the same to her, she hadn’t managed to convey the impact of it. 

From what I could see through the spybots, no human beings that hadn’t been absorbed into the fungus still existed. Everyone in sight had grey skin, smooth facial features, and no eyes. I didn’t doubt that their eyes still existed, but they’d been covered over with grey skin.

Beyond that, fungus grew everywhere around City Hall—not only on it, but on trees and surrounding buildings, covering them with a slick grey surface.

I wondered how precisely we’d have to place Alex. If he focused the death and decay aspect of his powers outside the building, would it be enough? It would be easier than getting him inside for sure.

I could make a logical argument that outside the building might work, but I had a feeling that we’d want to place Alex at the center and let the command to die pulse outward from there.

Assuming that we’d be have to fight (ex)-Mayor Bouman, I wondered where his unit was. It seemed too much to hope that they’d be standing inside the Mayor’s office where we could fly straight in, smash through windows, and pummel him unconscious.

More likely, he’d be in the basement.

As I flew onward, staying with everyone else, but paying more attention to the images in my HUD, Amy said, “Something’s happening.”

Her Bloodspear glowed a little brighter around the edges as she spoke.

I peered through the spybots, not seeing anything special, but still asking, “Are the mushrooms doing something?”

“No,” Amy pointed her spear to the sky, “look up.”

The sky distorted into lines that ran from the edge of the city on all sides inward to the center above us. For a moment, I thought that was the end, but then the distortions stopped and as far as I could see, the sky acquired a dim, but noticeable, golden glow.

The obvious cause came to mind. I asked Amy, “That’s the barrier from the Wizard’s Council, right?”

She looked at me, “You can’t feel it at all? That was a lot of power.”

Daniel and Izzy said, “No.” I was about to say the same, but then I tried to examine it the way Kee had been teaching me. I wasn’t certain, but there might have been a hum above me.

I said, “Maybe. I don’t remember the barrier being visible last time.”

Amy glanced up at it, “They might have been in more of a hurry this time.”

I thought about that, “Well, on the bright side then, step one of the plan is complete. We’ve locked ourselves in here with them.”

3 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 14”

  1. One of my brother’s lifelong friends died this week. He was someone who I didn’t know as well, but was getting to know better. Unfortunately, it appears that he may have not been paying as much attention to his diabetes as he should have.

    I had no idea how easily that could turn deadly.

    In any case, I did finally get the update posted. Hopefully I’ll be on time for the next one—since that’s Christmas though, we’ll see.

    Top Web Fiction

  2. “Well, on the bright side then, step one of the plan is complete. We’ve locked ourselves in here with them.”

    No Nick, their locked in there with you!

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