It was one of those slow-motion moments that work better in films than in real life. When you’re watching a film, on some level you know that no matter what happens, you’ll be able to walk out of the theater with no consequences. In real life, you might know that Amy’s spear consumed souls, lifeforce, essence, or some other substance that science couldn’t detect or measure.
It had nearly consumed mine when Amy was hurt and needed healing I couldn’t give. The only thing that stopped it from killing me was that Lee had shown up, stopped it, and somehow restored enough mystery substance that I could live.
Knowing that, I could only worry as the spear flew toward Mime because I knew that absorbing Mime’s essence and killing him in the process, wouldn’t make this situation better.
I could only hope that since Amy wasn’t on the verge of death, she might be able to control what happened next—that, and I could watch.
The spear flew toward the podjet, heading straight for Mime, ignoring that a normal human being couldn’t throw a spear that distance or that height. It hit Mime dead center of his chest, halted there, and then emerged from the other side at the same speed it had been going when it hit, much as if I’d paused a video game and then pressed play.
It left no mark on Mime, not even the gushing blood that I’d have expected to see when a spear passes through a human body.
Nonetheless, Mime slumped forward, remaining inside the podjet only because of a strap around his body that appeared to be bolted to the floor of the podjet. As he slumped, the spear flew through the other side of the podjet without being stopped or leaving any damage.
The spear then dipped toward the ground in an arc, flipping over and flying back to Amy’s hand.
Major Justice’s voice came over the comm, “What did she do to him?”
Thanks to my suit, I could see that he was still breathing and maintaining a steady temperature. I didn’t know what she’d done, but he wasn’t dead, “No idea. I can ask.”
South Beach Surfer struggled to pull away from me, pushing me with wind, but not so hard that the suit couldn’t adjust. I had little doubt that she’d have hit me harder if she could see me, but the goo wouldn’t degrade any time soon.
I felt a kind of quiver somewhere and I knew that it wasn’t physical. It was around me and I had only a loose idea of what it might be. The loose idea though was that I was feeling something through the Artificer senses that Kee had been training me to use. From the feel of it, I didn’t think it could be the presence of an Artificer, but that was all I knew.
“Bloodmaiden,” I asked over my comm, noticing that the red gem on Amy’s armor glowed a step brighter than usual and that the air around her black armor appeared to be extra shadowy for the middle of the day in direct sunlight. Even more interesting, the shadowy area appeared to be growing even as the red glow of her gem and the ruby accents on her armor were already brighter than the last time I looked.
When she didn’t reply, I added, “Are you okay?”
Her voice wavered over the comm as she said, “Give me a second. I tried something.”
Major Justice’s icon blinked. He’d passed the limit of his patience and he was already pinging me. I ignored him.
Amy took a deep breath and as she did, the shadows around her armor extended outward, not darkening the entire sky, but making themselves a presence that in combination with the red glow of her gems gave everywhere I could see an unearthly look.
Letting out a breath, Amy continued, “One of the past Bloodmaidens recognized what Mime was. He’s a magical nexus. I diverted his power away from him and into me—for now. It’ll last long enough to get them out of here. Do you have any plans for her or any of them?”
Wondering where this was going, I said, “No.”
“Then let go of her,” she said.
Deciding to trust Amy, I did.
South Beach Surfer shot away on her floating surfboard, but then slowed as she must have realized that she didn’t want to fly blind. She didn’t get time to figure out how she was going to handle it. Shadows surrounded her, all of them tinged with red light. Then as the shadows wrapped around her legs, a red light flashed.
When the red light was gone, so was she.
I have to guess what would happen next. Major Justice’s podjet wheeled around, turning toward us as gun barrels extended out of the podjet. Even as I considered my next step, shadows wrapped around the podjet and a red light flashed.
Then the red light flashed and the podjet was gone.
In that second, the shadows and red light vanished and I hovered next to the highway on a normal Monday. Amy, however, shuddered in the air and drew in a breath over the comm. I didn’t know for sure what would happen next, but on the off chance that she involuntarily transformed back into Amy, I flew toward her, managing to grab her arm as she slumped into me, her armor clanking as it touched mine.
She didn’t transform back, but she did sink into me, barely staying in the air. I gave the anti-gravity system power to help with the bulkiness of the load.
Still breathing heavily, she said, “I’m sorry. Even with his power that took a lot out of me.”