Sam followed on Fred's heels as he jogged outside and leaped skyward. Three kinetics, almost certainly ignited, versus the two of them, decidedly un-ignited.
Of course, she was more than just a kinetic. Sam spun to the side, putting space between her and Fred, and gave a meme blast. All three kinetics flew backwards, putting space between them. No one fell out of the air like a fool. Their buddy had probably gotten them used to enduring the touch of a noetic. Well, she had spent almost two weeks corona wrestling with Michael Frickin' Dombroski, catcher of frickin' buildings. Maybe she hadn't won a single time, but she had learned a lot of tricks. Or maybe half-learned a lot of tricks.
Sam spiraled through the loop dimension to get upwise of the closest kinetic and he dropped like a rock. She smiled. Like a screaming rock. He caught himself before he was halfway to the street and began to ascend once more. She would have to keep him in her corona range next time. Diving towards him in physical space, Sam repeated her simple trick, spiraling upwise and displacing his kinetic talent. She seized his body with the edge of her corona and slammed him into one of the pillars of the lower level of the convention center. As he rebounded, a gory circle remained behind like the remnants of a bug on a car windshield.
Above, Whittaker raced along the rooftops further downtown, his body dropping at intervals, no doubt from the pressure of his stronger opponents.
Sam flew closer to street level, rising slowly to meet them from behind and below. The kinetic in the rear smacked her with his corona, coming in faster than she could react. Sam squeezed out as much gravitas as she could muster from the hole in the center of her mind and welded it to her body, hardening herself with a pattern encoding unbreakable bones, skin, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments . . . .
She hit the top of a box truck and rolled, her forward momentum cartwheeling her over the cab, onto concrete, and beneath a city bus.
Heart thundering, Sam ran her hands over her face and head. She felt like she had been smacked around by her drunk mother for a few hours, but nothing seemed broken. She rolled to the side to get out from under the bus and a foreign corona slammed into her. Sam concentrated on protecting her brain with a hardening pattern she hadn't quite perfected yet. The kinetic beating within her skull rattled her head around like she had been possessed, but it failed to damage any of the internal structures.
Boots thudded to the ground beside her head as a force continued to pin her and shake her as if she were having seizures. "Why is this not working?"
Sam slapped her hand towards one of the legs and visualized a simple teleotic pattern representing breaking. Her palm connected and the enemy corona released her. Sam rolled to her side in time to see the man collapsing onto his butt, mouth open as he sucked in a heavy breath, eyes fixated on the unnatural bend of his shin where a jagged piece of tibia had stabbed free to reach open air.
He had just finished his intake of breath when Sam closed a fist of kinetic talent over his brain stem. Sam stumbled to her feet and looked into the air. She couldn't see Whittaker or his pursuer any longer.
Faces peeked out of windows and shop doors to look at her. "Hey, EDA girl, you OK?"
Sam continued to look upwards as she turned on her heels. "Where did the last one go?"
"Maybe he ran off," said the voice.
"Or maybe he's killing one of my soldiers." Sam pushed herself up once more, fighting against the exhaustion that threatened to overwhelm her. She really needed to practice clearing precursor residue more regularly. She didn't have time to be tired. Not when Fred faced off against a kinetic stronger than him. Unlike her, Fred had no other talents to rely upon. He would be helpless on his own.
A corona blazed past a street away, heading in the opposite direction. Probably the enemy kinetic, intent on taking out more of her people. Sam lifted further into the air to crest a building and follow behind, lips pressed together in worry as she felt the fierce corona of an ignited kinetic. She drew as much power as possible as the form swooped around to come back at her.
Sam prepared herself to emit another meme blast. And slap with another teleotic breaking pattern. And corona wrestle for everything she was worth.
The breath she had been holding slipped free.
Fred Whittaker coasted to a stop before her, immense corona washing over her. "Where is the other bastard?"
"Dead," Sam said.
"Mine too. He slammed head first into an overpass at what had to be a hundred miles an hour."
"Didn't feel much like fighting with a handicap. Did we get them all?"
"I think so."
"Let's get back to base then. We should probably stay at full alert until Ski gets back. He is going to be happy as hell he recruited my old ass for his army."