A few months back I would not have been able to travel more than a meter with that trick, but now I can do nearly a hundred. Enough to get me away from the immediate area, then it's all up to White Fox and Crease to keep Victory for catching me. Catching us really, as while I looked to be alone that whole time, the team had been just up the road and ready to step in if things went south.
White Fox, also known as my friend Dahlia, is a master of visual manipulation. She can make nearly anyone see whatever she wants and her skills as a designer shine when called upon to create negative space where bodies actually occupy. Crease, aka Krane, then goes one better, being able to manifest things into the physical world, seemingly by folding space itself into the form of that object. I have no idea how it works, but it works. Remember the peacock? Yeah he can even make living creatures.
When they work together one can craft the illusion and the other can build that illusion into reality. They are the best teammates a girl can have. This is particularly true when on the run from one of the most powerful Super Heroes in the world. My last encounter with Victory had been totally one sided: Not only can she fly, is super strong, nearly or maybe fully indestructible, but most insidiously she gets in your head and makes you think it's a good idea to surrender. I have felt it and lasted maybe half a second before I realized how right she was and that my best course was to just give her everything she wanted, which I then did. It's terrifying.
So it's a really good idea to not be found.
My jump lands me within arms length of White Fox, who immediately grabs my hand and pulls me into her illusion. Physical contact helps. Crease then folds the air, putting the final touches on preparation he has been doing for the last hour, and the illusion of our absence from the world becomes real. Yeah, not only can he create nothing into reality, he can remove reality into nothingness. Or at least displace if for a time. Just like that Peacock, that probably terrorized the Cafe for about 5 minutes before it popped back into whatever dimension he called it out of.
What he is doing now is far harder and the stakes a bit higher.
“I should be asking you, not me getting kicked around.”
“Yeah.. I admit I was fishing for it.” I get a smile at that, but probably should not be distracting him.
“Stop distracting him!” See?
“But how are you?”
Dahlia is not asking about the kicking. They know I have a hard time after doing any major work with my Power. Frankly, I am in a bit of trouble and it's been getting worse in proportion to my increased faculty. The more I use it, the less my mind is connected to my body. You know how some people have the experience of floating above their own body, looking down? Well that happens to me… a lot, and it's happening right now. The more Power I use the worse it gets, and one day I may push it too far and just never make it back.
“Stable enough. But better if I am done for a while.”
“Let us do what we came for. You relax.”
Yeah, hard to relax when Victory comes to a stop not ten meters from our blind. Why is she stopping? Can she sense something? It should be impossible as we are literally in a pocket dimension outside of known space and time. But we can see out, so it’s not a completely closed system. Victory is gorgeous in her way, not classically beautiful but with so much confidence that no matter the room, she is the most important thing in it and she draws everyone to her.
Like flies to shit.
“Why is she stopping?” I am getting a bit worried.
“Not sure, maybe something I missed. Or maybe she can sense the fold. This would have been a lot easier is she sent someone else.”
It is true. Why would Victory come herself for such a small incursion. She is the leader of the Guardians of Democracy, Chairman of GenRite’s board, and possibly the most personally powerful single individual in the world. Our little operation was sufficient to warrant the b-squad, but not her. Something really important must be in that facility.
Meanwhile she has not moved. There is no way that she has not noticed something. But what could it be? Could she see the fold in space? Was she just so far above that even that could not stop her?
“I know you are here.”
We are so screwed.
“Come out and all will be well. It's better to just tell me what happened, and we can work out a solution.”
We can only hope that the thin curtain between us can protect us from her Power. I don’t feel any different, but that is part of how horrible it really is: she convinces you that it's all your own idea.
“Krane, can you cut us off completely?” I whisper.
“I can. But not sure we would ever make it back.”
“I’ll go out.”
“Not happening Violette. We can do this,” White Fox presses my hand harder.
“She doesn't know you are here. If I go, you can escape.”
“Stop thinking like a Hero - and be quiet! If we can hear her…..”
That shuts me up fast. At the point she is so close I can see her eyes flashing in the dark, piercing as her body turns lazily in the air. I am not the only one with extra sharp senses, not by a long shot. Whatever I can do, there is a strong possibility Victory can do it better. In some ways, why do we even bother trying to fight her? Eventually, she will find us so we might as well just give up now.
“We should just surrender.”
“Sssshhh. What are you talking about Violette?” Dahlia grabs both my arms now, “Never mind, just be still and be quiet.”
The renewed physical contact helps me clear my head. This is not me, I can’t trust my own thoughts. The best action when I cannot trust myself is to listen to those I trust. But do I really trust Dahlia and Krane? I have only known them a few months, and they once were part of the Guardian Academy. So was I. But I was there only a week, they grew up at the Academy. They could be plants to expose our whole operation.
Why is she restraining me if she is my friend? I start to push against her. This was for her own good, why could she not understand this?
“Krane! We have a problem!”
“I can’t - it’s all I can do to keep us here.”
As he says this the curtain disperses and there is Victory, staring straight at us like she knew where we had been all along. Dahlia releases and I feel so much better. This is right. Before I was wrong.
I tell Victory that I am sorry to have hidden from her, that I was not being fair to her or to myself by my own actions. I keep babbling on like this for a long time, until Victory tells me it's all ok, I am forgiven, and flies off into the night.
Later of course I know what has happened. Dahlia saved me, saved us all, but painted an illusion of my surrender, tricking my own befuddled mind into believing I was doing exactly what Victory wanted. I must have spewed out such a pile of bullshit to her but it worked. The real Victory moved on and in a few minutes my mind reordered itself to find we were still behind the curtain, and Dahlia still holding my hand.
I hate her. But which I mean Victory, obviously not Dahlia. Dahlia really is my friend, and my teammate, and I trust her. I hate Victory in that she can change my whole self, make me doubt everything and become someone I am not, in an instant, and at her whim. I hate her not only because she can do it, but because she does do it. What I would not give to put her mind under my thumb and see how she likes it.
“Hey, that is why we are a team right/”
“Someday I will make her regret that.”
“We need to go,” Krane still whispering
Our ride is about a kilometer down the road in a strip mall parking lot and we don’t dally. Seven minutes later we are relaxing in the back of a minivan while one of Robo’s Henchmen drives us to the nearest Transport hub. I don’t even catch his name, too tired to be polite. We all have school tomorrow and all we want to do now is get home and crash. So much so that we all end up at Krane’s place, as it's far larger than mine. They get the bed, I get the couch. It's the usual set up as they practically live together anyway.
The morning is gloriously bright, and I hate it. Krane makes us coffee and then has to make more after my third cup. I am sweating too much and shaking and I beg off class and Dahlia puts me in their bed. I wish it was just the flu, but I know what it is and it's been getting worse the more I use my Power. I lay in bed and my mind starts to build little blocks in the air, over and over and over I am building tiny blocks and I cannot stop. I can see them and I hate them but I just keep building them. My mind is going so fast but my body can’t move and the blocks are crushing me there are so many.
I want to scream and I probably do but I don’t remember. Later Dahlia tells me I had a 104 degree fever and they nearly called an ambulance but the ice packs cooled me down. It’s already night again and I spend most of that night, fever reduced, watching myself sleep. I don’t even have time to consider that Dahlia and Krane are probably crammed on the couch for the night. Looking at myself I wonder what terrible dreams she must be having to whimper and thrash like that. I tell her, just like I always do, every day and every moment what is happening. It's how we keep connected, her and I.