Lee made us think through the circumstances in which we were willing to kill people.
Partially, I’m sure, it was because the circumstances in which you’re willing to kill dictate the sort of moves you need to practice. Partially, it had to be because when the moment came, you needed to recognize it and not hesitate.
We were close to mine.
I’d always believed that I’d be willing to kill, if it were choice between killing, or letting someone I cared about die.
The four people in powered armor stepped out of the wall and started running after us, firing their automatics and knocking Jennys over. Her costume obviously had some protection against bullets, but not enough to shrug off the hit.
Next to me, Jenny grunted as her doubles fell.
I needed to do something, but I didn’t want to kill anybody.
Running two across, the men in powered armor had covered the distance between us and the hole in instants. I had to make a decision immediately.
I pointed the guitar at the leg of the first person and fired. I was dead on. The shot burned cleanly through the armor and the leg. The man fell down.
I aimed the guitar at the man next to him, centered his leg in the helmet’s sight and fired. He went down too. The laser burned through the armor like it didn’t even exist.
I took out the other two just as easily, each time in the leg. The last one ended up not more than ten feet from me. They’d managed to take out all the Jennys behind me with a combination of automatic fire and paralysis. The last one had taken a twenty foot long leap in the air in a last ditch effort to take me down, getting him close enough for me to see the beam enter and exit his leg.
He hit the ground, and, I could hear him screaming through his helmet.
The laser blast had cauterized the wound, making him much less likely bleed to death, but it couldn’t have felt good.
As disturbed as I felt by his obvious pain, part of me felt awed by my sudden ability to shoot that well while twisting around to fire backwards.
Then, remembering what Alex’ dad’s powers were, I wasn’t awed so much as full of understanding. Even when he wasn’t actively healing, the bodies of people near him adjusted to reach their maximum potential plus some more. I’d wondered how long it took to be affected. Apparently, two days was long enough.
That completely explained how Jenny could be as accurate as she was.
I wondered just how far I could take it myself, and, how long it would be before it faded away.
Not that I really had much time to think. The standard Syndicate L troops had made it down the stairwell.
I turned back toward the front to watch. The Jennys ahead of me started firing first, taking out about half the group with her stunners before Syndicate L’s people regrouped and started firing back. Somewhere in the middle of all that Alex began firing too, one pistol in each hand, using guns that fired mini-concussion grenades. The blasts knocked people over and into walls.
I don’t know how many people he and the Jennys took out.
A lot of bodies lay on the floor — at least thirty — and none of them Jennys because her bodies just disappeared.
Syndicate L’s people kept coming down the stairway.
To judge from the expression on their faces, they didn’t look happy about it, and why would they be? On the floor lay the bodies of their friends and ahead of them, a grinning teenager in a white, long coat whose pistols seemed to act as extensions of his hands.
Then he stopped firing and holstered the guns.
“He’s out of ammo,” Jenny said.
Six more of her appeared, and ran to join him.
I ran after them, passing Brooke and Carlos, and catching up to the Jennys. Just as I began to think about which of the guitar’s modes to use, Alex engaged the first one to step out from the stairwell.
He punched the guy in the face, knocking him unconscious and into the next person on the stairway. While the second guy tried to disentangle himself, Alex punched him, knocking him backwards.
Alex didn’t have a particularly complex hand to hand style, but he executed it perfectly.
I pulled a grenade off my utility belt and threw it into the stairwell, aiming high so that the flash would be most likely to blind our enemies and shouting, “Don’t look!”
I watched anyway. The helmet blocked it.
Even through the helmet, the flash blinded me for a moment, turning the room completely white. The people with no protection against the blast would be seeing spots for the next minute or so.
Alex laughed, pulled the men he’d knocked down out of the stairwell, and started pounding the men behind them.
It seemed inevitable that we would win. Alex fought better than any normal human could and even if he hadn’t been, the flash grenade had left his enemies partially blinded.
I started to follow him up the stairs, and then felt an unpleasant sensation I remembered from Christmas. My limbs stopped responding and I fell forwards into the stairwell.
A paralysis ray.
I’d left the guys in powered armor lying on the floor, but still conscious. Then I’d gotten too distracted thinking about the way I’d taken them down to ask what I should be doing to them next.
We were going to lose, and it was my fault.