George didn’t really have the capacity to blink in his current form, but if he could he certainly would have done so in surprise. Blood flowed from the fresh bullet wound in Hershel’s right shoulder onto the dirty grey metal of George’s arm.
“Shit, Campbell, are you fucking blind? Not only did you try and shoot me with a bullet we both know wouldn’t hurt, but you missed and hit your friend.”
Hershel twitched violently for a few seconds before becoming still. George had just enough time to wonder if the boy had gone into shock when Hershel’s head flung forward and then smashed its back into George’s face. The world morphed into static as George was sent reeling through the sky and crashed to the ground, his grip and direction lost as he struggled to understand how his hostage had mustered enough strength to hurt him.
Had George been able to pay more attention he would have gotten an immediate answer to his question, for while it was Hershel Daniels that slipped from George’s grasp, it was Roy Daniels who crashed into the ground. Nick and Vince dashed to his side.
“Are you okay?” Vince asked.
Nick didn’t bother with a verbal query; he didn’t know how long this transformation would last without supplementation. So he pulled a silver flask from his pocket and slapped it into Roy’s left hand. The right arm was dangling uselessly, Hershel’s significant injuries all the more apparent on Roy’s muscular form.
Roy tore the top off the flask with his teeth and hurriedly gulped down the contents. He tossed it to his side and pulled himself up to a standing position. Glancing at the bullet wound in his arm, only then did he finally speak.
“You coated a bullet in whiskey?”
“Seemed like the fastest way to get it into your bloodstream,” Nick replied.
Roy gave him a curt nod, then looked at the metallic figure that was moving towards them once more. “I rang his bell pretty good, but we need to hurry if we want to keep him from flying off.”
Vince gestured to Roy’s arm. “What happened? Are you sure you can fight with that?”
A dark look passed over Roy’s face. “I’m dead fucking sure. If Hershel can be man enough to hold onto to that psycho’s neck while he snaps his bones then there’s no way I’m backing down.”
“The girls should be far enough away now, it might be prudent to retreat and heal,” Nick pointed out.
“To hell with that. Do you know what Hershel’s last thought was before I took over?” Roy asked, his eyes unwavering from his formerly airborne opponent.
“Do tell,” Nick sighed, already seeing where this was going.
“His last thought after being kidnapped, beaten, and taken hostage by someone he trusted was ‘Sorry about the arm’.” The knuckles on Roy’s left hand cracked with a thunder that left lightning envious. “No way I’m letting my little brother show me up like that. I owe that tin man son-of-a-bitch. I owe him hard.”
“I’ll fight with you,” Vince said, stepping next to him. Roy stayed focused on the steadily approaching target, but Vince spared a glance over at Nick.
“In for a dime, in for a dollar,” Nick replied, taking a few steps back but raising his weapons. He was under no impression that he’d be able to make any more difference in wounding George, but perhaps a well-timed shot could prove a distraction. At this point it was all he had left.
“Just for reference, how resistant to fire are you?” Vince asked Roy with the little time that remained.
“No idea,” Roy replied. “But I bet we’re about to find out.”
* * *
The knock on the Melbrook door was quickly followed by its forceful opening. Seconds later Dean Blaine, along with a petite elderly woman and a medium-sized man with jet-black hair, entered the living room.
“You two had better have a damned good explanation,” Dean Blaine ranted. “First your students get outed by one of their classmates, then you contact me that two of them are missing and point me toward another student, this one who assures me the perpetrators were two of my staff. An accusation that would have been laughable if not for the fact that I am now unable to find either one of them. Now I come in here and find you both just sitting there, seemingly without a care in the world. So you’d both better tell me what is going on and where my students are and I mean now!”
Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport both sat still as early morning in response. Mr. Move, however, stepped forward to meet the dean.
“Dean Blaine, I can assure you that everything is well under control and you have nothing to worry about.”
Dean Blaine strode directly by Mr. Move and leaned in to yell more at the sitting men. “Are you two deaf? I said I want to know what’s going on.”
“Perhaps you would feel more at ease if you sat down and relaxed,” Mr. Move commanded. He was going to take hell for using his power on the dean, but it seemed unavoidable at the moment. However, things did not go as Mr. Move expected. Rather than hunkering down with the other two, Dean Blaine spun around and drove his fist into Mr. Move’s temple with a single fluid motion. Mr. Move tumbled to the floor, not accustomed to taking blows and certainly not from someone as experienced as Dean Blaine.
“I wasn’t talking to you, whoever you are,” Dean Blaine said to the now unconscious man. “I was talking to these two.”
‘These two’ were experiencing a tingle across their skin as they regained authority over their appendages. They exchanged a quick glance to confer that they were on the same page about coming clean with the dean and found that they, in fact, adamantly were. Before they could rise to a standing position, however, Dean Blain leaned in and placed a hand on each of their shoulders.
“Last chance, gentlemen. Where. Are. My. Students?”