41

“I hate stakeouts; it’s cold up here.” Cinder complained half-heartedly. Gaslight would have taken him slightly more seriously if he weren’t doing such a good job of watching the exits, meticulously recording everyone coming and going.

Also, it wasn’t that cold around them; it was almost pleasant. When they had first been setting up, she could see her breath and feel the slight nip. Now however there seemed to be a bubble of warmth around Cinder. She had no idea how he was doing it.

“You aren’t giving us cancer to keep us warm are you?” She asked cautiously.

“Probably not, I mean I don’t think so.” He trailed off under her stern gaze. “I’ll check once we get back to the tower.”

“Do so, now go join Shatter at the north side. I’m ready.” Her territory had just reached the loading bay doors, just by moving a few steps forward she could cover the entire side of the warehouse.

Cinder didn’t comment on how much quicker she was today than just a month ago. She could see him beneath his mask and respirator; he was both surprised and concerned. Shifting the fire ax he had started carrying on his shoulder he walked off the edge of the building.

She caught him half way down, bleeding off his momentum and reducing the distance. He didn’t bother hiding himself as he crossed in front of the warehouse either, trusting her to hide him from any watchers. He took his warmth with him, but she gathered the remains and wrapped them around herself.

The main entrances were the north and south sides with large bay doors and a small entrance on the east side. Koi would go in the east side and keep an eye on things. Shatter and Cinder would do a shock and awe maneuver on the north side and drive the occupants out the south, into her territory.

They weren’t entirely certain what they would be encountering. The information had been vague, just that there was a weird temporal activity, and it was probably a novice wizard or something. The guards keeping a surprisingly tight perimeter was unexpected, but they weren’t armed with anything too dangerous to the team.

“Something is up,” Koi said in her ear. “Only five guards total, but we have four guys wearing, I shit you not, black robes. They also just summoned some kid, and seem to be prepping to summon someone else.”

“What’s the kid look like?” Shatter asked.

“Can’t get a good look, the air is fuzzy around him. Young maybe twelve or thirteen, black and carrying a machete. He could be a problem, has authority the guards are listening to him.”

“What’s he saying?” Cinder ask.

“Just asking for a status report, how much longer till re-enforcements, if the area is secure.” Koi responded. “Uh, he just said something about securing a beachhead.”

“Let’s catch them before that can happen, shall we?” Gaslight said. Something in that warehouse itched, her senses didn’t reach beyond her territory. It was like a pressure on the outside, like a mosquito bite she wanted it gone.

“Sure, everyone ready?”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

Gaslight stepped off of her roof and onto the ground in one go, moving forward enough to cover her side of the building. “Ready, on your mark Koi.”

“Begin.”

The explosion was massive, blowing out all of the windows that she could see. Cinder had promised that it would be less destructive than one might expect. From the sound alone she expected half of the building to be rubble. Fortunately, it wasn’t. There was some odor, but she kept it away from herself.

“Guards are holding the rear if they have armor piercing rounds you might find them annoying Shatter. The kid is making for you Gaslight and the guys in robes and holding still. I’ll take them down and come to help you Gaslight.”

“Affirmative Koi.” She could feel it, that itching was coming closer. The door opened he came out and the world went dark. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Well this is awkward,” he said. She knew he would be wearing a self-satisfied smile, as he hefted his machete.

The world might have been dark, but she could still perceive everything in her territory, that was easy. The light seemed to be an effect of synergy plunging the world into absolute darkness. She still had her control until it reached him, then it reverted to normal space. She could feel him trying as well to manipulate the world, not on the scale she was, and she reverted that back as well.

“You appear to have me at a disadvantage,” he said seemingly without a care. Moving slowly but catlike, knees bent circling where she would be. Her territory was larger so she could see farther, but that was only an advantage at a distance, and distance attacks wouldn’t work. “You seem shy, what’s your name?”

“Gaslight, you?”

“Gaslight huh? I like that; it’s a good name for someone like you odd choice of costume thought.” He charged her raised his machete and hacked at her left shoulder. She blocked with her umbrella, the lace and struts were cut through, the solid core was unharmed.  He raced past not seeming to mind his failure. “I go by Loki; I know dude is dead, but it’s a good name.”

The itching was annoying, a scratching on the back of her mind. Now like an open would she knew it’s cause, and what she wanted to do about it. He was nullifying her enhanced strength just as she was nullifying his. He was a bit stronger physical, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome by skill.

She twisted a latch on the handle of her umbrella causing the outer casing to shoot off. He batted it aside nonchalantly, and she was left behind with a sword. He was stronger, he had a heavier weapon, she had a longer weapon, she had a lighter weapon. Most of all, she had an itch that demanded a scratch.

“I think I’m going to kill you.”

“I was planning on the same.”

“I think I’m going to like it.”

“We think rather alike, odd that.”

“I’m going to enjoy this.”

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