Cyber reached up with his other hand to steady his aim.
SMS’s bravery faltered, and he closed his eyes. If Cyber didn’t kill him soon, he thought the anticipation might do it first.
Then: crack-crack-crack! Gunshots, followed by another burst of fire: crack-crack-crack-crack!
SMS’s eyes flew open. He wasn’t dead! The gunshots had come from behind him. So who was—
A blur of movement caught his peripheral vision and Pavelec slammed into him, throwing him against a stack of pallets. The pile collapsed around him, and SMS raised his arms to protect himself. He heard more gunfire, shouting, and uproar. Crawling out from under the pallets he saw Britney Taylor standing just inside the back doorway, cradling her submachine gun. She must have snuck in through the door invisibly, while everyone was preoccupied with Innis, Pavelec, and Olivia.
A bullet pinged off the concrete floor near SMS and he ducked back into cover. Through the slats in the pallets he saw Innis’s specials scattering for cover in every direction. Something, someone, was bouncing back and forth across the open area, leaping high in the air and darting around obstacles at incredible speed. It was Pavelec! How was she…? Olivia, SMS realized. That final touch to her forehead must have carried the transfer of those abilities, the super speed and mass control they had mentioned.
SMS watched as Pavelec zipped across the open space, bullets trailing behind her. She was moving faster than Innis’s specials could adjust their aim. She grabbed one man by the shirt collar and tossed him out from behind cover, and Taylor raked him with bullets from the other side of the warehouse. Pavelec instantly turned to her next target—it was Gus, the guy with bulletproof elbows, SMS saw. Pavelec sprung into the air, apparently by using her newfound ability to control her own mass, and when she was six feet above Gus she reversed her mass and came slamming down on top of him, driving him into the concrete floor, which cracked under the impact. Not much a pair of bulletproof elbows could do against that…
Pavelec soared from target to target, dodging, weaving, rushing, but despite her frenzied activity and Taylor’s supporting fire, the numbers were stacked too heavily against them. SMS saw Pavelec slip on a sheet of ice that had sprung up under her feet and smack into an invisible wall. She was momentarily dazed, and one of her opponents took advantage of the reprieve to aim a shot at Taylor, hitting her in the leg. The pink-haired cop cried out and disappeared from sight.
Pavelec had almost recovered her balance when Brenda Bailey came sprinting out of cover and dove towards her in a flying tackle, a feline snarl contorting her features. But by the time she hit Pavelec she was frozen, locked in position, and both women tumbled to the floor.
Pavelec wiggled out from under the frozen Bailey, blood dripping from a cut on her face. SMS stood up behind the pile of fallen pallets. All of Innis’s specials—the ones who hadn’t already been incapacitated by Pavelec—were either standing immobile or lying rigid on the floor, depending on what state of balance they had been in when their muscles seized. Baldwin stepped out from behind one of the steel crates, hands raised and fingers splayed.
“I’ve got them,” he said, “but I can’t hold them all for long, and there are a lot more outside. You’d better get out of here, Mia.”
Pavelec nodded and spun around. She saw SMS and stopped. “I don’t know what you’re after or what side you’re on at this point,” she said, “but right now if you’re an enemy of Innis I’m inclined to let you live. Next time I see you, I may feel differently.”
“Take the truck and go!” shouted Baldwin. “You’ve got seconds, not minutes.”
“I don’t need the truck anymore,” said Pavelec, wiping her sleeve across her bleeding lip. She looked at Olivia’s corpse and growled in frustration. “Rrragh! I didn’t want this. Not yet. I wasn’t ready.” She balled her fists and aimed a kick at Bailey’s frozen body. Then, in the blink of an eye, she flung herself out the back exit and was gone.
SMS realized it was time he did the same. He didn’t want to be around when Baldwin had to let go. He took a few steps towards the exit, then stopped and looked around. Wait. Where was Innis?
There he was, by the front entrance, sprawled on the floor. He had apparently been in mid-step when Baldwin got him. SMS ran over and began going through Innis’s pockets, searching for the notebook. Where was it?
“Get out of here if you want to live!” shouted Baldwin. SMS looked up. Beads of sweat were breaking out on Baldwin’s forehead, and his arms were shaking violently. “Go, man! Go!”
SMS stood to take his advice, and then he saw it. The notebook was lying open beside the entrance door, where it had slid out of Innis’s grasp after he fell. SMS scrambled frantically over Innis, snatched up the notebook, and sprinted for the back exit.
Just before he reached the door he heard Baldwin roar in agony. He looked back over his shoulder and saw Baldwin drop his arms to his sides and collapse onto his knees.
Bailey shook her head and pushed herself to her feet. “Neat trick,” she said, rubbing life back into her arms. She leaned down, grabbed a nearby gun off the floor, stood over Baldwin, and put a bullet through his head.
SMS saw Innis stand and look around for his notebook. As if in slow motion, Innis turned and saw SMS standing by the back door. Their eyes locked for a split second, and then SMS turned to run. Bullets smacked into the doorway around him as he plunged into the night.
Two bodies were lying against the outside wall of the warehouse. They were the men Innis had sent to take care of Taylor when he’d first arrived. Taylor had obviously gotten the better of them somehow. A few metres away SMS saw the truck Pavelec had been planning to escape in. Were the keys inside? He rushed over and yanked the driver door open.
Someone’s hand slapped down on SMS’s shoulder and he nearly had a heart attack. When he looked down he couldn’t see the hand, though he could feel it. Just behind him he saw a pair of floating eyes. It was Taylor. She allowed the rest of herself to kaleidoscope back into visibility.
“Slide in,” Taylor ordered, shoving him into the truck and through to the passenger seat, then climbing in after. She produced the keys from her pocket and cranked the truck’s engine. Blood was seeping out of her leg onto the seat.
Pumping the gas, she peeled out towards the road. SMS saw a few specials pile out of the warehouse through the back door, Innis and Bailey among them. Several of them raised their guns and fired. SMS and Taylor dropped their heads as bullets shattered the windshield and tore up the rear seat.