Blades & Barriers: Chapter 28

                Barrier was halfway through his hot dog, which was nearly tolerable when drowned out by enough ketchup and mustard, when Dispatch’s voice suddenly rang in his ear.

                “Barrier and Bloodfyre, we have confirmed Super conflict taking place in Port Valins. Most of your team is already there, and your DVA rep will be appearing in several seconds to transport you. Please prepare for teleportation.”

                Bloodfyre never missed a moment, dropping the rest of his food into a nearby trash can and dismissing the red energy around his left arm. “Barrier, can you do a partial removal of your shield?”

                “Sorry, but no, it’s all or nothing.”

                “Danny needs physical contact to transport someone, so I want you to drop it as soon as he appears and then bring it back the moment we’re back on solid ground. He knows not to drop us into a hot zone before we’re ready, but the landscape of a battlefield is always shifting.”

                “Barrier, Unseelie has requested a team connection through the comms, do you accept?” Dispatch asked.

                For a second, Barrier started to nod, then realized she couldn’t see him. “Yes Dispatch, I accept.”

                A slight click echoed through his ear, and then the next sound Barrier heard was Unseelie’s voice. “Alright, looks like we’ve got the other two on the comms. Barrier and Bloodfyre, this is going to be suppression work. We’ve got two start-up gangs vying for control, and they let themselves end up in a full-blown brawl. Most of the Supers have records, so Dispatch has confirmed that all known Supers are in the Standard class. So far confirmed we have a low-end advanced mind, a strongman, some people throwing energy, and a few shifters. That said, there are a couple of gang members we don’t know the full abilities of, so be ready to adapt as needed. Barrier, stay with your teacher and do as he says. If I need to pull you off of him, then I’ll tell you, otherwise you two work as a unit.”

                The air nearby rippled as Danny suddenly appeared. He looked tired, sweat dripping down his face and staining the collar of his shirt. That said, the man never hesitated, reaching for Bloodfyre and Barrier, who remembered just in time to drop his shield. Without a word, Danny leapt them through space, dropping the bottom out of Barrier’s stomach. A new scene snapped into reality around them and for the second time in two days Barrier vomited, although this instance had nothing to do with Panic. He still remembered to put his shield back up, however. The last thing he wanted was to be caught vulnerable in such a position. It was a quick release, and when it was done he felt better. Barrier turned back to find that Danny was already gone, and Bloodfyre was checking their position.

                While they could hear the sounds of battle from nearby, Danny had dropped them off behind a stack of shipping containers. It allowed them a few precious moments to assess the current layout of the battlefield before they were fully in the fray. Bloodfyre peeked around the corner for several seconds, then turned back to Barrier.

                “Looks like mostly Standard class out here. I can see two of the shifters and it sounds like someone is throwing energy. Remember: on Standard class we only kill if absolutely necessary. They were smart at least, they picked an isolated area so we won’t have to kill them if they risk endangering civilians. Your best bet is to go for the legs, take out their mobility and their concentration in one go. I’m leading the charge, you’re watching my back, making sure no one tries to flank me or plays possum and then goes for a shot from behind. I’m going to be working quick, so keep up. Are you okay?”

                “I’m good.” And that was, surprisingly, the truth. Everything they’d been doing since arrival had been new for Barrier, which made it imposing and scary, but battle was a different beast. He knew how to fight. It was what he’d worked at, excelled at, and even if Angela had shaken his confidence he still had faith in his training. With no civilians around to worry about, this was like the simulated combat scenarios he’d drilled countless times. Mistakes might be made, he wasn’t so arrogant as to think he was perfect, but Barrier was back on familiar ground.

                “Glad to hear it. Stay on-”

                The crunch of metal was the only warning they had before one of the higher up shipping containers came tumbling forward on a crash course for where they were standing. Barrier snapped into movement on pure reflex, lifting his shield’s arms while expanding his hands as wide as he could in the limited time. It wasn’t enough for him to be unharmed, he had to catch a wide enough section to protect Bloodfyre as well. The metal came slamming down onto the two translucent blue palms of his expanded shield, halting the container before it could hit either them or the concrete. Barrier glanced over at Bloodfyre, only to discover that his teacher was burning brightly with red energy, so intense that the concrete beneath his feet was eroding and the part of the shipping container overhead was beginning to disintegrate.

                “Nice reflexes,” Bloodfyre said. “Can you set that thing down?”

                “Sure.” Barrier tilted his hands slightly, sending the container sliding off to the other side of them where it crashed heavily to the ground. “What was that?”

                “Advanced mind. Probably heard us planning to enter the fight and tried to stop us before we even got a shot. Partly our fault for standing still so long in the first place. Come on, let’s move. The plan doesn’t change, although if you see anybody using telekinesis let me know. I always feel a lot better when an enemy with the power to read minds is off the battlefield.”

                “Won’t the advanced mind know we’re looking for them?”

                “Probably, but that doesn’t change anything for us. We have to stop all the criminal Supers, which means deep down they all know we’re coming for them.” Bloodfyre dashed forward, out of the containers, and Barrier hurried to keep up. “Unseelie, we are on the field. Where do you need us?”

                “Panic has most of the ones inside the warehouse affected; Hammerspace and Charon are picking them off. I could use a little help thinning the herd out by the docks though.”

                Bloodfyre adjusted his position slightly, and Barrier followed the lead. “We’re on our way, Unseelie. Make sure to leave enough of them so we can properly train the rookie.”