The Story’s Just Beginning.
“Kacerkodas,” I called cheerfully, stepping through the eight-foot hole I had created moments before. “Or is it good afternoon? Ah, your times are so funny…or I have jetlag, I believe.”
One hand rose to wipe away the stream of blood that ran from my nose; while the other conducted the two guards picking themselves up out of the rubble against either wall. Stepping through the debris with a careful gait, I directed the bars of the cramped little cell apart with a screech of protesting metal. Cowering in the cage like the little fledgling he was; was none other than Finch.
“Hello, little bird,” I smiled at him, twiddling my fingers in his general direction. “I am sorry to be so disruptive, but I have come to collect you.” Green eyes fixated themselves on me; bulging and red in their whites. I inclined my head politely and stepped aside; giving him ample opportunity to exit. “Of course, if you would be so kind as to come with me—”
I paused. Alright. Telekinetically dismantling the police station had gone to plan. Disabling the guards, even easier.
I had not anticipated the rebuttal he gave me. Perhaps my English failed me—but a negative, however it is worded, is usually obvious in tone alone.
“No?” I said softly, just to make sure. Finch stared me down; two green lights in the darkness indicating “go”. He wished to stay there. How intriguing.
“I fear you will find my courtesy extends only to giving you the chance to comply,” I responded, widening my smile. With a jerk of my chin, he rose against his will, stumbling slowly forward like a…how do you Americans put it? A zombie. Funny word, I like it.
“Now you deal with noncompliance,” I noted pleasantly. He started to pipe up and I mimed zipping his mouth shut for him. “Ah-ah. I have no need for you to speak. Now come.” I turned on my heel, tossed my hair out of my face, and stepped around one of the battered guards, dropping more ceiling on him as I sidled out of the broken building.
“I’m just saying, Allen,” Paolo was insisting, adjusting his pale blue scrubs as he strode along beside me. “It would be great! You could cover me, what I can do?”
“And what can you do, P-Paolo?” I asked wearily, nursing my fourth cup of coffee and silently wishing I could vanish into the steam of it. “Ch-charm every woman you meet, perhaps?”
“And every man, but I was born with that talent.” I shut my eyes and kicked myself for letting him have that one.
“Then please, enli—” I changed my mind about that particular word and stumbled briefly into silence, deigning to cover it with a prolonged sip of coffee. “…educate me on w-what it is, exactly, that y-you can do.”
“Okay,” said Paolo eagerly, taking a step back with a flourish of his henna-lined arms. He rolled back one imaginary sleeve, then the other, and I felt my patience beginning to thin still further. “It’s a very neat power.” I raised my eyebrows and withheld commentary. Paolo closed his eyes and performed a very graceful movement with his hands. Nothing appeared to happen, so he whipped one hand back. I felt the breeze of the gesture tickle my face.
“…Very impressive,” I noted dryly, sipping on another mouthful of coffee. “You c-can fan people very well.” Paolo looked crushed, holding up his hands in self-defense.
“Wait, Allen, it doesn’t work every time, let me see if I can—”
Whatever it was he “could” or “could not” have done, however, was put on hold as the side of the building nearest us exploded with a burst of bricks and mortar. Paolo reacted faster than I did, snagging me by the waist and throwing me to one side. The coffee went flying as we both struck the asphalt. People passing by were screaming, and I watched from my new point of view as several pairs of shoes went flying by; everyone was running and my ears were ringing…
“Are you hurt?” Paolo shouted in my ear. I jolted away from him and scrabbled upright, touching the place that ached on my forehead. “Shit, Allen!”
“It’s a f-flesh wound,” I reassured him, brushing blood off of my brow and hastily getting out of the way of the retreating crowds. “Please tell me that w-wasn’t your ‘power’, Paolo.” The boy shook his head and I exhaled shakily. That much was good. Little blessings…
“People are so amusing, are they not, Finch?” A droll voice rolled out of the seething smoke and curled its tendrils around my ears. Jerking my head to one side, I saw a man in a three piece suit emerge from the rubble of the explosion’s aftermath. Unfamiliar to me, but unforgettable—not many people had a face so subtly gleeful in the wake of such chaos, nor did they wander out of said chaos wearing what appeared to be Christian Dior.
“See how they run,” the man added, squeezing one arm around the frightened-looking boy by his side. His other arm gestured lazily, and half the sidewalk in front of him ripped up, zipping away to slam into the backs of a few retreating civilians. I started to lunge to my feet, but Paolo yanked me back down by the back of the shirt behind a mail box. Breathing harshly, I cinched my eyes shut and held my breath as the man edged nearer.
“Like cockroaches before exposed light,” the quiet, unconcerned voice crisped overhead. “…all except one.”
The voice had turned away. I chanced a glance upward and Paolo hissed a warning, but I didn’t listen. Peering around the side of the post box after the two figures, I saw one young man standing at the end of the street, fiddling with his iPod.
“Russell,” I groaned, sinking back out of sight and holding my bloodied brow. “For the love of a-all things unexplained…” Paolo tossed me a look and shushed me with a finger to his lips, then to mine. I got the distinct whiff of curry and nearly gagged, shoving his hand away. Under better circumstances, perhaps it would’ve been vaguely amusing, but at the moment, I was finding it hard to laugh at the stereotype there.
We both watched, however, as Ludo strode towards the other man—leaving the smaller one he was with rooted to the spot by some means or another. He had begun to tremble; the smaller of the two, and tears were coursing silently down his face. He couldn’t seem to make a sound—and I instantly pitied him. Perhaps he was a hostage—what else could he be? Certainly not an accomplice. I began looking around for something to grab; perhaps my phone, if I could find it, to notify the police…
“You there,” the aggressor called loudly from the end of the street. “Excuse me! Hallo, perhaps you could be noticing the dilemma of—” The man cut himself short, then sighed irritably. “I really hate headphones.” He lifted a hand to perform a gesture—likely one to take said headphones from Russell—when he was suddenly blasted back by a wave of amber light, flung headlong into the street, and rolled a few feet further before going temporarily still.
Immediately, the young man the assailant had been with staggered; freed of whatever bonds the first had placed on him. He swung around, green eyes wide, and we locked gazes for a moment—
Before he suddenly shot heavenwards like an unleashed rocket, arms thrust down sharply by his sides and a sound like a gunshot following him. My mouth dropped open.
Goodness knows, I had seen many things in this baffling little city, but never once had I ever dreamed I’d see someone else fly. And literally…fly. He zipped around a corner of a highrise and vanished. Paolo, equally agape beside me, slowly lifted a hand to shade his eyes before lunging to his feet and rolling out into view of the men in the street.
“Paolo!” I whispered. “C-come back here, right this ii-instant!” He waved me away with a confident smile, suddenly coming into his own. Feeling simultaneously miffed and abandoned (not to mention, as usual, useless), I sank back behind the mailbox and watched as the suited figure rose.
“You damaged my Dior,” said the foreign man grudgingly. “This will not end well for y—” Russell proved he still wasn’t listening by firing off a sharp bolt of blue light, turning on his heel, and conjuring more blasts from…nowhere. From sound, I presumed, from what he had explained. The headphones in his ears, subtle and silent from our end, were likely blasting with something either…
Oh, how was I to know? All I know is that he battered and bludgeoned the taller man with lights until the suited figure had all but ran directly backwards into Paolo. By then he had begun deflecting the blows from Russell, firing the lights back at him, but he wasn’t prepared for an apparent tag team.
“Hello,” said Paolo cheerfully as the man swung around to face him, somewhat annoyed—more than startled or worried. “Do you come here often? They really need to redo the street.”
“You—” was all the assailant managed to get out before he was airborne—and not in the same way as the flying boy from before. Paolo had pivoted on his heel and directed him heavenwards on a column of spinning air, lazily twitching his fingers in the same movement as the wind that bore the other man aloft. Bouncing him once or twice (much to the hollering and garbled swearing of the prior), my med student calmly tipped him into a dumpster—one that was whipped shut with a clang of sound and a bright red flash of light.
Russell finally removed his headphones and paused, looking around at the rubble and the now-silent, smoking street. Somewhere in the distance, sirens began to wail. I felt every bone in my body turn to jelly when I realized the dark-suited man was not going to emerge from the dumpster anytime soon. Apparently, they’d knocked him out. Or worse. At this particular juncture, I didn’t honestly care.
“Well,” said Russell finally. “What the ruddy hell was that about?”
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"Just the Basics", © 2011
Hallo there. Ludo von Hausen. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. Stopping in town on business turned out to be the greatest mistake of my career. Perhaps you know what I speak of...? That legendary April 1st day...