63

“Well, this is new.”

“Can’t say I was expecting this.”

“Tell me, tell me, where do you keep your heart,” Gaslight murmured. The landscape and temporary structures warped around her becoming smaller. The structures fractured as she passed, an unfortunate soldier discovered that the effect extended to organics as he futilely shot at her.

“Oh, that’s nasty.”

“Are you negating our abilities around you?”

“You shouldn’t be able to do that.”

“Is your heart made of crystal or stone, is it made of the final drop of blood,” Gaslight continued.

“Are you listening to us?”

“She isn’t even, reacting. Maybe this one is deaf?”

The two voices continued to debate whether or not Gaslight was deaf or just ignoring them, as she made steady progress to the center of the dome. There were more and more soldiers, each proving as useless as the last in slowing her down.

“This is unfortunate.”

“Yeah, she is seriously boosted haven’t seen one of us like this before.”

“What about that world that got subsumed?”

“That one was even more boosted than this one. This one seems stable, and a she.”

“What’s up with that?”

“Probably Alecia.”

“Stop trying to kill the girl in the dress, it’s useless. Honestly, I would think these people would catch on.”

“What do you mean, these people?” Gaslight asked.

“Oh hey, she’s paying attention.”

“And talks to us to make a bad joke.”

“I just want your hearts.”

“All the heart talk is getting creepy, and this is coming from someone who’s power is to be creepy.”

“Yeah.”

“There are two of you, but I only want one heart,” Gaslight said, “bring me one and I’ll let you go.”

“Fuck you,” the two voices said in unison.

“You do realize you’re headed the wrong way right?” The first voice asked.

“Yeah, it’s not like we have to hang out in the center of our power effects. But you do, don’t you?” The second asked, “you get mobility in exchange but get stuck at the center.”

“The little birds cheep, about which they do not know.”

“I’m starting the suspect she might not all be there in the head,” the first said.

“Brain implants? She has the scars, and this world’s Alecia is a villain.” the second suggested.

“Cheep. Cheep, cheep, the birds tweet certain they are the most beautiful in the cage. Not realizing there are better hearts than theirs.” Gaslight came to a stop before the central building. “At the center you may not be, but the heart is the center of all.”

“She’s targeting the portal.”

“So? It can’t be shut down on this end if she goes through she’ll be stripped of her field. She can’t even stop them from getting their rods upstairs.”

“Silly birdies, don’t even realize the cat has come to take their home.” Gaslight started pushing her ability to expand her field; it was a new level of difficult. Normally it was like filling a balloon, having to push out. Now it was like filling a balloon underwater; it pushed back.

“You can’t just take our territory, there are two of us working together. It might work close to your skin, but any range and we’re stronger.”

“The birdie denied,” Gaslight replied.

“She appears capable of overwhelming us, brother; we should kill her now.”

“They raged,” Gaslight added.

“She’s certainly annoying enough.”

The two boys moved from their positions on the perimeter to Gaslight in just two steps. Forgoing all banter on arrival they attacked with broad swords.

She twisted around the first blade and blocked the second with her cane. After that they danced, she would move around their strikes or redirect them. They would push forcing her back with each swing. Clearly unused to fighting together she was able to use their pushing to create a tide between them

Pulling the boys in closer together until the began getting in each others way, and they would pull back.  Pull and push over and over again, the same steps repeated with increasing precision.

Gaslight stopped, plunged her blade into one of the boy’s knee and blocked the blade of the other with the cane’s sheath that she had moved to her other hand.

“Ambidextrous bitch.” With a twist of the blade, there was a pop as the boy’s knee dislocated. He fell screaming; it was a physical thing a rolling distortion. It broke around Gaslight and the other boy, but nothing else was fortunate.

Buildings shattered, tanks stopped moving, and soldiers dropped dead, the lucky ones lost their lunch. The central building collapsed to rubble, revealing an empty interior. The space having been taken up by a massive glistening circular portal.

Gaslight and the second boy didn’t pay attention. She went from defensive to offensive. Hold down the blade with her sheath, strike with her blade. Dodge around his sword, strike at his extended arm. Again and again they clashed flecks of blood dripping off both of them as they moved.

She blocked with the hilt of her blade, striking out with the sheath. His elbow shattered, he screamed; it propagated outward as he dropped his sword. Gaslight pressed forward flicking her blade across his neck as she shattered his knee with the sheath.

As he died, she replaced his place in the partnership, holding the dome steady and impenetrable. That much power pressed on her mind, whispering in her thoughts, fears that no longer mattered.

Well not entirely, but they were fears that didn’t hold quite as much weight as they use to. “Oh shut up, and stop fucking with my head,” she muttered. Approaching the still living boy she sheathed her sword cane. “Can you move? Or do I have to drag you?”

“Why?”

“Because it’s time for phase three silly. What you didn’t think we did all this just to win did you?”

“What?”

Gaslight grabbed him by his bad leg and started dragging him towards the portal. Taking care to drag him over as much rubble as possible. “At first I thought she was crazy, not like me crazy of course, but still something about her isn’t right. Then she started explaining, and it made sense, people just don’t have enough fun in this world.”

She stopped in front of the portal, on the other side she could see several hundred men aiming guns at them. Standing dead center was Sophia or at least a version of her. “I didn’t know you guys had a Sophia on your side,” Gaslight said to the boy.

“Picked her up in the last world, use to run the place.”

“Good, that will make this easier.” Gaslight drew her sword and placed the tip at the boy’s neck, looking Sophia in the eye as she did so. Sophia said something, and the portal became opaque. “Portal closed, phase four.”

“But it’s still here.”

“Yeah it is on this end, you didn’t think we would just let you guys run now did you?” She killed him before he could answer.

“I should feel worse about this, must be the painkillers.”

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