B1 — 20. Killer Instinct

Rachel finished the count as Fiona sat on Scarlet’s shoulder; they vanished in shadows, Fiona making a peace sign with a bright smile.  “See you on the other side!”

Maria lifted her arms, stretching her back with a short yawn.  “Alright, ándele.”

“Right,” Rachel ran out from behind the wall, listening to Scarlet and Fiona begin their assault while Relica and Conner discussed their strategy.  Seriously, what are the odds of two different Conner’s causing me problems … well, I guess it’s not an unpopular name.

“Terrell, you want us to just hang out here?  How does that make sense?”

“Look,” Terrell leaned back in his chair.  “I want their heads, but I want to live as well.  They can teleport.”

“Oh, I completely understand.”  Relica cooed. “What’s to stop them from just zipping in and killing you when we leave.  Especially considering that rabbit can hear us talking right now … such a naughty girl.”

“They’ll come to us,” Terrell growled as a walkie-talkie fuzzed.  “Corey, how’s it looking out front?”

“Tank’s up, everyone’s checked in … wait.  Well…”

“What is it?”  Terrell’s throat seemed to have gone dry.

Rachel and Maria raced down the street, Rachel matching Maria’s pace.  She seems to take so long to start ramping up, but I know it’s just my perception.  Scarlet and Fiona are making quick work of the snipers; I didn’t even have to tell her, she’s just transporting the children back toward the bridge.  It also seems like the SEALs are getting things moving.

Maria moved to run beside her, eyes scanning ahead; Rachel followed her gaze as the tank came into view.  Corey caught sight of them as they advanced. The massive body of steel was impressive, and its long barrel was aimed in their direction.  Kids were strapped to various parts of the tank, they seemed to be out of tears because they didn’t make a sound. There were several men with children in their grasp, guns pointing at various fatal spots while the hotel entrance was obscured by eighteen-wheelers carrying large shipping containers.  They tried to make a barricade?

Rachel began to slow, Maria matching her.  I knew it would turn out like this.  Did they make a plan to shoot us with the tank while using the kids as hostages?  Seems rather simplistic; if I can avoid it then I’d rather save the kids, but I’m not going to let myself get blown up for it.  A hostage is only worth what the opposing faction deems their value; I might have to sacrifice a few lives to save the many, but I doubt that’s the scope of their plan.  Terrell probably is using this show to give the snipers time to shoot us. Too bad for him we already know about all of that.

Rachel stopped twenty meters away from the tank.  Scarlet and Fiona are just about finished.  

“I’ve got eyes on the rabbit and Maria; they’re heading right for us.”

“Put a gun to a kid’s head then!”  Terrell yelled.

Relica giggled.  “Well, this is starting to get exciting!  Should we head out?”

Maria glared at the scene; she folded her arms before looking down to examine her shoes with a grimace.  “I swear it’s going to fall apart soon.” She muttered.

Corey shifted the gun in his hand, barrel pressing into a little boy’s shirt-back.  “I think they get the picture; they’re slowing down. I don’t see the Fairy and Demon-girl.  Hey,” he yelled, gesturing to them with a nod. “Get on the floor, or the kids die!”

“You that scared of two girls, culo cobarde perras!”  Maria spat.

“I said get on the floor!  Why aren’t…” he muttered, eyes daring up to a few sniper positions.  “Where are…”

“Maria,” Rachel whispered.  “I think it’ll be best to put some distance between us.”  She huffed, but slowly moved off a few meters to her right.

Two of the men holding girls stiffened.  “The … hey, what are you doing?”

“He said to get on the ground!”  His hand tightened around a girl’s wrist, making her wince, but she didn’t cry out.

Rachel saw a few bruises, but for the most part, the kids were unharmed.  The kids look dead inside.  What did they do to them?

The tank barrel slowly lined up with Rachel.  Scarlet just took out the last one … all the kids are safe on their end.

Corey stuffed his gun in the front of his pants, grabbing the boy around the neck, he unclipped a radio with his free hand.  “What are you all doing? Hey, are you messing with those girls again? Hey—Teddy? Dude—Terrell…”

“Oh, how unexpected.”  Relica hummed.

Terrell breathed out a heavy sigh.  “Not a single one responding … that … how are we supposed to plan something when they can listen in on every move we make?”

“Don’t sweat it, Terrell.”  Conner chuckled. “It’s actually getting interesting.”

“Interesting?”  Marcus muttered to his brother beside him.  “They’re destroying the entire gang. How are we supposed to keep territory when our numbers are being shredded?”

Daran cleared his throat.  “I’m with my brother; we can’t keep losing men, dad…”

“What do you want me to do?  If I send someone out there, then they’ll just teleport here and kill us!”  His voice darkened. “Caleb…”

Rachel’s ears twitched as she heard Scarlet talking to Fiona.  “You have some awesome powers! Making the wind carry the kids so they’ll gently go through the blood portal is pretty cool.”

“Oh, I’m super impressed with that paralysis touch!  They can’t do a thing the moment you appear behind them.  You’re a real assassin! Your blood just sticks through them like butter too; super fast kills.”

“Hmm, think we should head down and join Rachel now?”

“Umm—probably not,” Fiona growled lowly.  “She’s drawing the attention. We can wait for a good chance to strike Terrell and the others.  Rachel seemed pretty confident; I think she can handle the front.” Rachel smirked. Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I don’t think I can kill all of these guys fast enough .  Without more grip, I can’t accelerate nearly as fast as I feel I can go. I know I could save most of the kids, but not all of them; what options do I have?

Her eyes widened as Terrell said Caleb’s name and the man inside the tank began to move.  His tone … is he telling him to fire?  Rachel reacted, accelerating sharply to the left; her environment slowed.  Maria noticed her change in demeanor, her muscles were tightening to move while the other gang members’ hands left the kids to cover their ears.  They may know a little about my hearing, but they don’t know about my accelerated mind; there’s no way a projectile could hit me if I have warning.  It may move faster than me, but I can react faster than the human that aims the weapon. It’s a perfect chance to use as a smokescreen.

Rachel’s eyes widened as the tank fired; she saw double before her vision darkened.  She was on the ground, head ringing. What just…  She shook her head, hair flinging around as she pressed a hand against her forehead.  Her left elbow shifted against the ground to right herself; her vision was still swimming as she looked around, swallowing.  I just … the sound … I didn’t…

A warm, peaceful sensation filled her and her confounded thoughts cleared.  Maria…  Her vision snapped back into focus as the tank barrel locked onto her position again.  How can I protect myself from that massive sound?  No, Maria can help me recover, but I need to take out that tank!  What did that sound do to the kids?

Rachel’s ears shifted as the sounds around her clarified.  “Hey—how the … grr, how do you put a new round in?”

“Dude, use the tank guns!  She dodged, Randy!”

Looking up, Rachel found a man shaking atop the tank, small clouds of dust billowing around the area still.  He’s in shock with the force the tank just caused.  Rushing into action as the men around her tried to recover, Rachel’s jaw snapped shut; most of the children had either fainted or were in shock.

Reaching the tank in seconds, she jumped up, finding herself hanging much longer in the air.  She landed against the upper armored ring of the gunner’s seat; her legs took the impact, stopping her acceleration.  Balancing herself, she threw out a punch at the man’s head between the guard; he didn’t even look at her as he stared straight ahead, features paralyzed.

The moment her fist struck his skull, it seemed to explode.  Gore blew everywhere, carried by the kinetic force she’d generated, splattering across the back of the tank and ground around the area.  Rachel was momentarily shocked. It was so soft?  Is that how it’s supposed to feel?  I killed him…

A few men began to scream as blood, brains, and shattered fragments of bone struck them.  Rachel’s jaw set. No time to reflect.  She leaped off the tank and moved through the men in a whirlwind, taking care to keep the children out of the kinetic force she generated.  Utterly lost with how to react, she made quick work of the men.

Rachel finally stopped in front of Corey; shoving him lightly, he grunted as he flew backward, tumbling across the ground.  Coughing and sputtering, he threw up a few times, vision swimming.

“The—what…”

Rachel’s pink-reddish eyes surveyed the scene coldly; the splatter radius was massive, gore everywhere.  A few men’s bodies were half gone by the force she’d used, blood spattered across her body. The kids had all collapsed where they were, and the two men in the tank were cursing, still trying to figure out how to reload the chamber.  I’m capable of this kind of destruction?  She flexed her fingers, everything moving in slow motion.  No, so much more if I had the proper equipment.  I feel nothing for killing these men … no, that’s not right … pride.  They had no honor, they died as cowards. Why am I so fixated on honor recently?  I wasn’t like this before.

“Maldita sea, liebre blanca, eres un monstruo.”  Maria chuckled as she carefully navigated the scene.  “You’re way faster than last time I saw you move.”

Shrugging, Rachel sighed, glancing back at the tank.  “I was moving as fast as I could without proper shoes.”

Maria clicked her tongue as she glanced up.  “Ah, the moon, makes sense why you’re so much faster.  That tank shell though, made my head swim, but the next second it was automatically healed.”  She huffed, following her gaze.

“What the…”  Corey shuddered as he stared around at the bits of meat, blood, and bone around him; he was the only one left of his crew besides the two men in the tank, still trying to figure out its complicated commands.  Rachel glanced his way, his face draining of color.

Maria’s lips curved into a smirk.  “Looking fierce, liebre blanca.”

Rachel blinked, brows knitting as she tilted her head toward Maria in question.  “Fierce?”

“And—it’s gone.”  She sighed, moving to stand between Corey and the nearest kid.  “Moment’s over; so, what’s the plan now?”

Terrell’s voice came on over the radios littered around the area.  “Corey! What’s going on? Neal?” He swore. “Are you all dead?”

“Wait—got it!”  One of the men in the tank muttered.  They still have no clue I’ve killed all their buddies…

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“This,” Rachel grunted. Jumping up on the tank, she planted her feet against the metal and gripped the lip of the Turret Ring. Taking a deep breath, she pulled up, gritting her teeth; the frame creaked as the metal warped in her hands and the frame started to cave. After a few seconds, she tore the ring off the hull, shifting her hand to push as she continued to exert force.

“Oh my—what the…”

“What in the…”  Both men yelled, but cut off as they caught sight of Rachel’s face, biting their tongues.

As she pushed it over her head, she let it down for a moment to get a better grip; swapping her hand against the outer edges, she tried better positioning her foot to hook onto the hull to get the resistance to counter her light weight.  She pulled back with her left hand on the outer layer while pushing with her right on the mid-section of the inner ring, twisting the Turret Ring to open straight up like a can.

Breathing a sigh, Rachel shifted to get a better angle on the moonlight before glaring down at the two cowering men.  “Well, get out.”

Rachel caught Maria’s gleaming eyes as she nodded with respect.  “You’re a monster alright,” she chuckled.


Both men were quaking as they exited the vehicle, surveying the carnage around the area.  “What’d you do?” The would-be gunner whispered in horror.

She heard Corey swallow hard before dropping to his stomach, prostrating himself on the ground.  “Please, I give up … just—just don’t kill me…” Should we spare them?  It could come back to haunt us if they started talking to the police or military … why the … no!  I can’t think like that! Why did I just think that? Risk assessment … of course, I’d need to consider it, but … this doesn’t feel wrong, but it does…

The two men that exited the tank followed Corey’s example, dropping to their bellies.  “Please—anything you want—please…”

Rachel took a deep breath to calm her inner angst; her ears still listening to Scarlet and Fiona.

Fiona hummed thoughtfully.  “So, should we go into the hotel and take out the bosses?  I mean, if we take out the leader then it’ll be over, right?  The gang will just run and hide?”

“I don’t know,” Scarlet muttered.  “Rachel said their boss is putting a lot of faith in those two contractors … I’d rather not just jump in and get killed or even worse, captured and used as hostages ourselves.”

“Seriously?”  Fiona huffed. “I thought a Vampire wouldn’t think about that crap.  I mean, I get it, but you could just teleport out, right?”

“I could … but what if they can block teleporting or something?  Maybe that’s why they’re sticking around the boss.”

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“Oh, hmm, yeah, that would be a problem,” Fiona whispered.

“Yeah, and I really don’t want to cause problems for Rachel or Maria … they trusted me—well, us, to take out the snipers, but we didn’t really plan beyond that…”

“See!  That’s what I’m saying.  We can just pop in and take them out real fast … what’s she doing?  Did she take care of the guys out front—wow, holy crap that was a loud noise.”

“Yeah—they fired the tank … oh, wow, Rachel just slaughtered them.  Like, she literally splattered them all over the street. That one tank round—it blew up a building with a few people inside.  Eight dead, mostly elderly, but there was a teenager with them … two are still alive. Let’s go save them real fast.” They teleported to the spot.

“Oh, I think I got this…”  Fiona said. “Just need to—there we go, earth magic … where are they inside here?”

“There, and there.”

“Got it … dang, displacing earth costs a lot more energy than wind.  I wonder why each element energy-cost differs so much?”

She heard the ragged breathing of two individuals as Scarlet seemed to slowly lift them out of the rubble with her blood.  “There we go—two men are rushing up the stairs; they should be able to take care of it from here. They have some fractures, but there’s no internal bleeding.”

“Cool.  Back to that one room then?”

“That works.”

Rachel’s eyes narrowed and her heart darkened at the news.  “You two want to live when you killed several people just a moment ago?  How many more people have you killed in the past twenty-four hours alone?”

“Oh?”  Maria scowled.  “Did they kill someone with that tank round?”

“Scarlet and Fiona managed to save two, but yeah, they killed a few people with it.”

She grinned wickedly.  “You remember what those SEALs said?  Martial Law, terrorists, and all. It’s not like we can tie them up and expect them to stay put until the military gets here.”

“I won’t hurt another person again!”

“Yeah—I swear!”

Rachel bit on her cheek for a moment as she glared at the groveling men.  I understand what Maria’s saying, and I agree, but it doesn’t feel right to just execute them … ah, I see.

Looking around the area, Rachel spotted what she was looking for, a pistol strapped to the bottom half of a man; she’d devastated the upper half of the man’s body, leaving pools of blood and organs painted across the street.  Nodding at the lower half of the corpse, she said, “Pick up the gun.”

Both men’s shakes ceased as they followed her gesture, somehow turning paler.  “Wh—what?” The loader asked.

“You heard me,” Rachel growled.  “Pick up that gun.”

The loader shakily got to his feet, glancing her way fearfully.  Slowly, he began making his way over to the object, but the gunner didn’t move; he just watched the man’s slow advance, twitches shaking his body every few seconds, and she could smell the piss in his pants.  How disgraceful … there I go again.

The man moving toward the gun took care around the carnage, trying to keep the blood off his shoes.  Finally reaching the corpse, he reached for the gun, fingers trembling. Picking it up, he looked back at her with wide eyes.

“Ah,” Maria chuckled.  “I got ya—I can respect it.”

Rachel’s head tilted toward the hotel as she heard Conner tell Terrell he was going out.  So, it’s about time to meet one of the big guns.

Her ears picked up the man’s intent as his muscles constricted, lifting the gun to point at her.  Killing an unarmed man seems to leave a foul taste in my mouth … have I turned into a Japanese warrior or something?  She accelerated, easily dodging the man’s intended trajectory and darted toward him.  He managed to get a shot off, missing her by meters before her fist entered his skull, meeting the same fate as his fellow terrorists.

The body flew back with the accompanying kinetic force her drag generated, tumbling across the street to collide with another corpse.  Rachel looked back toward the man that wet himself. “You’re next; hurry, I’m expecting someone else soon.”

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