Chapter 121

                In that moment, Roy would have traded his left arm for Mary’s power to include the sending of thoughts as well as the reading of them. The more they could communicate without Professor Cole overhearing them, the better off they would be. As it was, all they could do was keep the verbal parts as limited as possible and trust one another to figure things out on the fly. On the upside, over three years of living, training, and meeting challenges alongside one another meant that he, Mary, and Vince all had a level of understanding and trust that they’d never have managed with mere fellow students. He just hoped it would be enough. On the upside, at least he wasn’t dealing with this on his own.

                Professor Cole uses precision above all else, manipulating so many pseudo-limbs has to take a good amount of concentration. So first we need to take away her power to make such calculated strikes.

                “Vince, get the lights!” Roy was racing forward as he listened to Hershel’s voice, with no time to spare so much as a glance to see if Vince got the message. “And just roll with whatever comes next.”

                Two more steps, and suddenly the room went pitch black. Well, that was one stroke of luck; Vince had understood Roy’s request and started absorbing all the light around them. Roy kept running, ignoring the darkness and staying on track toward the last place he’d seen Professor Cole.

                “Interesting. You think taking my sight will give you an advantage?” Professor Cole didn’t seem worried in the slightest, if anything she was a bit amused. “But none of you can see either, and if you didn’t notice, you’re making more than enough noise for me to find you.”

                With no other distractions, Roy could hear the rustle of those damned cloth tendrils snapping through the air, set on a direct course with him. Still, he didn’t slow down. He kept right on going, even as they drew closer. Then, just when impact seemed unavoidable, Roy felt a familiar pressure grip his chest and jerk him upward. His shoulder brushed the ceiling briefly before he dropped a few inches, soaring along just below the top of the room.

                “What in the… you can’t fly.” It was the first time Roy could recall hearing Professor Cole audibly sound confused, and while it didn’t last long he still took a great deal of pleasure in the moment. “Of course, Mary is lifting you up.”

                “She’s doing a lot more than that.” Roy was jerked to the side as soon as he spoke, Mary not wanting to give away his position.

                Good job, Mary. Now that Professor Cole is blinded and you’ve got the advantage on mobility, press the attack.

                No sooner had Hershel’s voice echoed through Roy’s head than his body was thrust forward, right toward the room’s center. He was more object than warrior at this point, but as he soared past the tendrils, too quick to be caught in the darkness, he didn’t mind one bit. Finally, he felt like they were getting traction, and that sentiment was confirmed as his foot collided with something that felt like a shoulder. Only Mary’s firm grip kept him from spinning about as he was hoisted upward once more.

                “A crude, rudimentary technique, but I suppose I have to say it’s effective. All the more so, since it seems Mary is still maintaining a shield around herself.” The clanging from the other end of the room made it clear that Professor Cole had tried to nip this problem at its source, but Roy knew it would take more than a half effort from her to break through one of Mary’s telekinetic barriers. While she might not have Alex’s control, Mary had more power than she knew what to do with.

                “Not bad, but let’s see how you fare when you lack a clear target as well.” From all around, noise began to fill the room, clattering and clanging as different object struck concrete in every conceivable direction.

                She’s making too much noise to track her location audibly, and I’d bet she’s skilled enough to keep her mind blank so Mary can’t read it. Think Vince has figured things out yet?

                “Pretty sure we’ll find out soon.” Roy braced himself as the grip on his chest swung him around. Occasionally he’d hit a tendril, but between the speed and surprise there was no time for any of Professor Cole’s cloth limbs to ensnare him. At first, he seemed to be moving nowhere, just idly circling about. It was only after several seconds that Roy realized he was picking up speed. Mary was turning up his momentum as high as she could, determined to make the surprise attack count for all it was worth.

                We should call this tactic the Roycking ball. Get it, like a wrecking ball?

                “It’s a good thing you’re smart, because you suck like hell at naming things,” Roy muttered. The speed was turning up more and more, faster by the second. After one more rotation around the room, his direction changed, sending him on a crash course with what appeared to be empty darkness. Mary knew better, however. Within seconds Roy’s torso collided with Professor Cole’s body. He wasn’t there for longer than a few heartbeats before Mary jerked him away again, but it was enough to feel their teacher stumble. They’d scored a real blow, one her cloth armor couldn’t totally stop. Not much in the grand scheme of things, yet a huge achievement so far as Roy was concerned.

                “The hell? I’ve kept my mind empty, there’s no way you should have been able to pin down my location. You’re both working totally blind.”

                But Vince isn’t. He’s drawing all the light in the room, including what our bodies are putting out, and so long as he can sense the sources Mary can read his thoughts and get our locations.

                “It was a good idea; no one’s begrudging you that. The question is, will this work?” Roy was amazed at how far they’d come, however there was still a high hurdle left to clear for Hershel’s plan to prove successful.

                No clue. Not much we can do at this point either way. Mary, bring us in again as soon as you can.

                On cue, Roy began to plummet downward once more. This time it was his knee that struck the professor. The next time around, he caught her with his hip. Three hits in rapid succession was a hell of a streak, one that Roy would have gladly seen continue into the double digits. Unfortunately, when Mary swung him around for the next attack, Professor Cole was waiting.

                It felt like Roy had been tossed into a spider web made of cloth, the instant he drew near dozens of tendrils closed around him. None got a perfect grip, but between the lot of them his momentum was lost entirely and Roy became stuck in place.

                “Your tactic was good, however using the same trick over and over will give your enemy the chance to adapt to it,” Professor Cole said. “You were never going to beat me with this tactic.”

                “Yeah, we know,” Roy shot back. “That’s why it wasn’t my job to beat you. I just had to keep you occupied.”

                In a blinding flash light returned to the room. Roy blinked past the pain, determined to see for himself if their gambit had paid off or not. As his eyes adjusted, he could just make out the silver-haired form of Vince Reynolds, his fist pressed firmly against Professor Cole’s ribs.

                “I believe the term you used was ‘hypothetical deathblow’,” Vince said. “Which means we win.”