Holding Out For A Hero, Part Eight: The Right Tool For The Job

Previous Page
(March 4th)


April

“Completely insane,” Jack muttered under his breath. “Utterly, irrevocably mad.”

“I’m sorry, Nimble, I didn’t quite get that. Could you repeat?”

Jack adjusted his comm, looking around the dark hallway. “Nothing important, Piper. Just talking to myself.” He straightened his collar, smiling wryly. He’d vetoed a jumpsuit for himself, feeling that by the age of forty a man should not be wearing anything that form-fitting. Instead, he’d opted for a military-style suit in the team colors, with his Magister badge pinned just over his heart. There was some dirt from his descent with Blossom, but that was to be expected. He took a deep breath, feeling the smell of lilacs and gentle perfume filling his nose. “How are things?”

“Oh, just swell,” Invictus interrupted with a grunt. “Enjoying myself. Real vacation. Maybe one of you could get the hell up here and help?”

“Why, Invictus, I thought you were invincible?” Jack whispered, stealing down the hallway. Reaching a locked door, he knelt and pulled a pair of long metal pins from his pocket, working quickly and quietly.
“It’s still a pain.” Invictus snapped. “Where the hell are you people?”

“Calm down, Invictus. I’m enroute. Nimble, how are you doing?” Piper said soothingly.

“Getting close. Going silent.” Jack eased his comm off as he heard the soft click of the lock, straightening and sliding the door open. The smell of lilacs billowed out in a cloud, and he smiled. Evangel could hide the heart of her spell wherever she pleased – as long as it was echoing out through the building, it hardly mattered.

Silent as a shadow, Jack continued on his way, looking around. The walls in this area were lightly coated in glass, running in droplets sideways before shifting direction upwards, leaking through the ceiling towards the upper floors. The effect was striking, and somewhat discomforting. Jack watched as a droplet of liquid glass ran slowly along the wall, and then compared its progress with the scent filling the room. Unsurprisingly, as he backtracked along the teardrop’s path, the smell continued to grow more powerful.

This close, there were differences in the lilac, and Jack paused to breathe in deeply, letting his gift parse the information it was receiving. The slow, steady saffron-scent of active power, mixed with the slightly sour taste of power draining away from human dreams. The creeping way that the lilac worked itself into everything, leaving a trace of its power on every surface it touched, spreading its power and declaring ownership over the region it covered. The echoing scents as the glass reflected off itself, trapping the cherry-sweet taste of ambient magic between its layers and directing it back along its pathways towards its caster. All of these scents blended together into a thing of beauty, and Jack was impressed. It was a subtle, difficult spell with several layers, and every aspect of it was perfectly balanced and composed. Evangel was a monster, but she was also an artisan. It was almost a shame that he was going to have to destroy it – he would have loved to see it develop.

On the other hand, two souls were suffering for her art, and countless more were in danger. Really, it wasn’t a choice at all.

The door to the next room was coated over in glass, rigid and unmoving. Jack considered it for several seconds, and then reached into his pocket, pulling out a black, rectangular box not much larger than a matchbook. Setting it against the wall, he stepped back quickly as the smell of lilac swelled, and the glass pulsed and expanded. Within moments, the device was completely ensnared, coated in glass and sitting silently. Jack chuckled. “Hungry little spell, aren’t you? You should be careful.”

The study of the spell had been thorough – no transmission could safely pass through the glass once something was coated. A timer, on the other hand, was somewhat simpler. As Jack watched, the black box cracked open, disgorging tiny iron filings that settled into the glass as it hungrily flowed inside. There was a ripple, and cracks began to form. Jack ducked behind a cubicle wall as the glass shattered, exploding outwards to cover the room in a thin layer of shards. Quickly, as the glass began to creep back towards the door, he dashed forwards, throwing it open and stepping through. “This is Nimble. Tell Youssef his breakers work like a charm.”

Piper’s response was lost in static, and Jack kept walking quickly, studying the floor – covered in glass, it began to flow towards him as he entered what had been some bureaucrat’s office, but was now the heart of the building. There were fragments of iron in the soles of his boots, enough to slow the spell, but not enough to truly stop it – he would have to keep moving, or risk being covered. Glass also coated every wall, the ceiling, and the desk across from him.
In the centre of the desk, a spire of glass twitched upwards, two long strands spiralling around one another until they touched the ceiling and broke into a thousand parts, each one pushing through the small holes in the drywall surface. Beneath the spire, more glass flowed down, cascading over the floor to flow up the walls and out of the room. In the middle of the spire, deep within the glass, a single purple flower hung suspended, its petals folded in on itself. As he watched, they began to edge open, sending a new pulse of glass outwards with them, before collapsing back in on themselves after just a moment. The scent was unmistakable, and Jack circled it as much as he could before hitting the desk's wall, studying it closely. He tapped his comm, but the thick glass coating every surface was still interfering, and he shrugged, high-stepping to avoid thin tendrils creeping up the sides of his boots as he glanced at his watch. Just a few more moments, and then time to act.
He reached into the pockets of his suit once again. Iron might do against the manifestations of the spell, but it would be useless against the heart. A counter-charm, on the other hand, might just be successful. If it could be precisely primed, exquisitely designed, and tuned perfectly to counteract the baleful energies of the lilac heart, it could reverse the effects of the glass, pull it back to its source, and save the heroes powering it. It would take a true genius to manage a spell like that, someone attuned to every aspect of the magic they were opposing.

Jack didn't have that kind of time.

He pulled out a tiny bar of Semtex, quickly attaching a detonator cap to it and pressing it against the glass wall of the heart. Almost instantly, as the timer began to count down, each beat of the lilac sent glass spinning around the explosive. Jack didn't wait to see what would happen next. With glass nipping at his heels, he took off at a dead run.

“Completely insane,” he laughed, tapping his comm. “Fire in the hole!”


Next Page

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License