The elevator doors opened to The Association’s rooftop and the trio of conspirators were met by at least four guards, three well-built men and a short, but capable looking Tuvan woman, The Czech, and The Administrator. This was more of a crowd than Hamid had expected. He had listened in on all their plans. They would only change them if… his eyes widened, they knew about the bug! He held his composure as well as he could. Perhaps it was just because The Administrator decided to see them off.
The three walked towards the helicopter whose blades were already starting to spin, kicking up a breeze around the three guards. The scent in the air told that rain had been falling just minutes ago. They were almost to the copter when The Administrator beckoned Hamid to him.
“Dr. Hamid,” the older gentleman said, “The Czech is taking your place. You’ll be going later with Anya. After all, we can’t have two belligerent numbskulls in the same copter can we?” The Administrator chuckled humorously.
Aleksei and Mashka shared a worried glance, now unsure of what to do next.
'We’re done for, the plan is done for.' Hamid thought to himself. 'All of us put together are no match for The Czech.' He saw the bald man’s cold eyes meet his, a smile played on his lips.
The Administrator turned to Hamid, “Oh I have some unfortunate news,” he said sympathetically, “Dr. Katharina Roth met a sad end. She told us she knew you well.” he paused, calmly adding, “And your motives.” The Administrator laid a comforting hand on Hamid’s shoulder. Then he dropped the façade, lowering his voice dangerously, “We will deal with you later.”
The siblings were pushed towards the copter by two of the agents. Both of their minds were racing, trying to escape the situation.
'If Hamid’s not going with us, this is not going to work,' Aleksei thought as he approached the aircraft, 'I don’t know how to fly a helicopter! We should bail, but how?'
Cautiously Aleksei and then Mashka climbed the ramp to the passenger seats, their hair whipped around in the wind from the roaring chopper blades. It was Mashka who made the first move, pretending to trip and fall forward. One of the guards tried to catch her, but Aleksei lashed out backwards with his foot, over his sister’s head, catching the otherwise considerate guard in his chin. This was followed by Mashka’s elbow to the unfortunate man’s gut. Aleksei jumped down. The other guard almost grabbed him by the shoulder but he avoided him with a back-flip, which he repeated four times, to afford him some distance.
Mashka stood still, staring blankly at the man bent over from her strike. He coughed and blood spattered on the cement. Her eyes widened, realising how easily she had struck with such force.
Aleksei had expected her to take the chance to run. “What’s wrong Mashka?” he yelled over the noise.
“She’s unsure of her position it seems.” The Administrator replied, his voice somehow piercing the din and offering a charming smile.
Mashka shook her head, “I can’t Aleksei. What if--, what if we belong here?”
Aleksei’s mouth dropped in shock, then he retorted, “What do you mean belong!?”
“You may not know this, Aleksei,” she said, “but bit by bit I’ve been losing to this thing inside me, and I am scared! I can’t risk being unable to control it, otherwise I am going to hurt someone, maybe even you! If I stay with them, that won’t ever happen. I could find a purpose, perhaps even change the world.”
Aleksei’s answer overflowed with pain, “Mashka... they are Soviets! Don't you remember what they did, the blood covering their hands!?"
Despite his shock over his sister, Aleksei had been discretely covering the entire roof with a thin layer of vapour, allowing him to monitor any movements. He was trying to figure out the best way of escape and how to bring Mashka back to reality. Then he saw her nod, her face out of view of the others, giving a reassuring look just to him. He relaxed inwardly; it was a diversion to delay their captors.
Sweat poured down Dr. Hamid’s face and dripping from his chin.
One of the guards discreetly stepped behind him putting his gun to his back. “You’re going to come with me to a quiet place.”
The doctor knew he was about to meet death. He allowed himself to be led a short distance, then turned and attacked the guard, knocking the gun from his hand. He dove behind one of the large roof vents as the other agents opened fire.
Mashka took advantage of the distraction and ran towards Aleksei. But an agent got in the way, so she dodged behind one of the vents.
Aleksei noticed The Czech turn towards Hamid. He thrust his hand forward causing some of his fog to shoot out like an extension of his arm. As it moved, it increased in size by pulling water up from the wet rooftop. The Czech raised his gun. Aleksei knew he would not make it in time. The bullet passed through the vent and exited the other side, piercing the back of the doctor’s skull, killing him instantly.
The Czech was hit full force by Aleksei’s serpent, which knocked him off his feet, throwing him until he hit another vent, leaving a sizeable dent. The other agents quickly aimed their guns at Aleksei. He dropped to the floor and evaporated the puddles around him, then rolled behind a vent. He felt the shots fired through the fog and sensed their trajectories, tracing them back to their sources. He used his arm to push another snake of fog forward. It flew out of the fog screen and tackled one of the agents who had fired, hitting his gut like a rampaging boar.
Aleksei noted how even with the helicopter producing a vortex, he was able to have his clouds punch through the wind and hit his mark accurately.
Mashka waited for the right moment to move. A part of the vent she was using as shelter, turned black. Through it, The Czech’s hand grabbed her arm and pulled her into the darkness. The feeling of being pulled through and coming out the other side, she would never forget. It was as if she was riding a train through a tunnel, but she had felt the metal around and inside her. When she emerged, The Czech held her arm behind her back and began guiding her to the helicopter. She looked at Hamid’s lifeless body, rivulets of blood making lines across his face.
“You killed him!” She gasped in shock. She had not seen where the first shot had hit.
“Da,” he retorted, “You’ll get used to it soon enough.”
Another stream struck from the fog. The other agents dodged out of its way as it approached The Czech. Like a hungry eel seeking prey, jerking and slithering, as if it found the path of least resistance though the air currents. The man flung Mashka around to be a shield. The stream abruptly stopped when Aleksei noticed he was holding Mashka. It swirled angrily, but remained still, bent upwards like a cobra.
“Get rid of the fog!” The Czech yelled to the pilot. The engine went into full gear lifting the helicopter from the ground, and tilting back to blow away the white blanket which covered half the roof.
His cover was blown away, leaving Aleksei exposed. Then he remembered what Hamid had said regarding the propellers. Rolling on his back, keeping within the last remaining cover, he guided the fog in a large arch, following the cyclonic airflow created by the chopper. The cloud reached the blades and Aleksei caused it to condense as quickly as possible. Ice started to build up on the blades. Within moments, the weight of the ice caused the propeller to slow and the aircraft fell three meters to the ground, lost balance, and tipped over.
“You brat!” one of the agents yelled as he raised his gun.
Mashka noticed him and when the Czech's grip loosened she tore away to charged, giving the agent a swift kick to the back.
“Do not shoot at my brother!” she screamed in fury and pain, as her body went through its transformation. Every muscle screamed as they were released from a vice-like restraint.
Another agent grabbed her from behind, putting her into a choke hold. But his attempts were useless as she grabbed his arms and threw him over her. He tumbled through the air until he smashed into one of the vents.
The female agent, who had been guarding The Administrator when the chaos began, raised her weapon, but The Administrator called out, “Hold your fire! We must not hurt the girl!” he ordered, “Use tranquilizers.”
Mashka, in response, ran to the edge of the roof. Turning her back to the edge, she screamed, “Get one step closer and I jump!”
Everyone stared in stunned silence. The cloudy sky broke, and for a moment, only the drumming of the raindrops brought life to the rooftop.
When The Administrator had called for tranquilizers, Mashka realised that she was the main reason for this situation. Therefore, she was her only bargaining piece. Now, she was wondering what she would do next. 'What am I doing? Jump? Seriously Mashka?' She scolded herself. Looking to both sides, she saw there were no ladders in her proximity, something she could have facilitated if she had thought ahead. 'What do I do now?'
Aleksei shook his head, silently pleading for her not to do it.
“Listen dear,” The Administrator said charmingly, “there’s no need to do this. This is all a misunderstanding. My men were just jumpy. It’s not too late to just let this all go.”
Aleksei stared, pleading at his sister. 'Our freedom is not worth this… it’s not worth loosing you.'
Mashka felt the urge to follow the suggestion. The Administrator could make himself seem so kind and benevolent. But then she glanced aside and saw the stream of blood being washed away from the doctor’s body. The Czech had pulled the gun on him so quickly, and gave no mercy. She realised The Czech was exactly what she would be if she went with them. It is indeed hopeless, she thought.
She hugged herself tightly and leaned backwards. Everyone else could only watch as she began to fall. Aleksei saw Mashka close her eyes in surrender and disappear over the edge.
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Even though it's only October, I find myself looking back at the year and thinking about how much of an adventure it has been. A game launched, a career secured, a webfiction serialised, and independence gained. Now I just need to lose the stress weight.