Chapter 34

                Vince had learned a tremendous amount about electricity since he first wrecked a ranged training room freshman year. He’d learned how to direct it, how much it took to knock out a human, how to ramp up his attacks carefully against a fellow Super, and most importantly he’d learned just how useful it was to keep stored. None of that changed the basic truth Vince had uncovered the first time he tried to consciously fire it at a target, however. Electricity, at least when wielded by a Super, wanted to spread, to hit everything. Normally, he used the techniques he’d developed to suppress that tendency, but in moments like this, it was that very trait that made electricity such a useful energy.

                “Everybody down!” Violet and Roy hit the ground, and while Chad was still out of sight, Vince trusted him to do the same. With Sims gathered around him in every direction, Vince let loose a payload of stolen lightning. He didn’t bother directing it beyond aiming a few bolts at the nearest targets. Instead, he simply let the energy do what it naturally wanted to: course through everything conductive it could reach.

                Blinding arcs of blue-white energy burst from his body, slamming into the nearest Sims then flowing outward, hitting the ones by them, and the next nearest, and so on. Vince kept up the output as the bolts leapt from Sim to Sim, like a spider web of light connecting them to the center. Fast as it came, the lightning quickly died, as the technique rapidly exhausted Vince’s supply of electricity. The whole process took at most ten seconds, and when it ended they were still surrounded by Sims, although ones with a fair bit of smoke rising from their bodies.

                It had not, however, been a vain effort, as two of the Sims fell to the ground, and the rest of those directly surrounding Vince moved with sluggish, uncertain motions. One powerful bolt might be able to bring down a single Sim, but Vince had succeeded in stunning far more. It wouldn’t be enough to stop them all, of course, but that had never been the goal of the attack. All Vince wanted was to create opportunity, and in that regard he’d certainly succeeded.

                “Hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em fast!” Roy yelled, leaping up from the ground, bat in hand. He swung the weapon so fast that it was a blur as it smashed through the nearest Sim’s legs, sending the robot flying into the air as everything below its knees became scrap. Roy didn’t hesitate, striking at the next Sim’s same area. For him, hitting without killing in a situation like this was hard, bordering on impossible. If it were just Roy in the fray, then maybe he could depend on his endurance to see him through, but with friends depending on him he didn’t have the luxury of taking his time. So, he leaned on the tried and true strongman technique of going for the legs. It took away an opponent’s mobility, probably wouldn’t kill them unless they went into shock, and had the added benefit of inflicting too much pain for those with mental abilities to focus.

                Nearby, a spiked chain whizzed through the air, wrapping around a nearby Sim’s chest. No sooner had it made a single loop than the chain stopped soaring and dropped, its density increasing several hundred fold in moments. That weight came crashing down onto the Sim’s shoulder, driving it to the ground and leaving it prone as Violet bounded over to finish the job. She dropped ultra-dense fists on its knees and elbows, leaving it helpless on the ground as she pulled her weapon, now light as air again, free.

                Another Sim went flying upward, arcing over their heads and then bouncing off one of the buildings, knocking loose some debris as it slid limply to the ground. It landed only a few feet from Will and a group of civilian bots, all of whom stared at the battered Sim in surprise and worry.

                “Dial it back, Vince!” Roy yelled over his shoulder.

                “Sorry!” Vince dodged an attack from one of the Sims with massive, armored fists. Kinetic energy was harder to wield in battle than some of his other abilities. It wasn’t just punching, where the strength in one’s muscles gave feedback to how much force a blow would have. No, this was throwing a punch, then adding a bunch of extra energy right at the end. It hadn’t been an issue when he was smashing through Sims in a warehouse, but in more delicate surroundings he had to be careful how much he used. Unlike most strongmen, he hadn’t gotten a lifetime of practice with such power.

                The big Sim threw another punch, one Vince easily slid to the side of. Unfortunately, this put him directly in the path of a second Sim that had been lying in wait. It struck at him with burning metal hands, no doubt meant to melt the very flesh from his bones. Vince took a quick step back, easily feeling the wave of heat from the flaming fingers and pulling it in. In a blink, the fire flowed from the Sim to his own outstretched hand, leaving his opponent flameless and confused.

                It was almost nothing, just the sound of clanking of metal that was a bit too close, that gave Vince the sliver of warning. Even three months prior, it would have been too late, but Hank’s “sniper” training hadn’t just been a way to dirty Vince’s clothes day after day. No, all those shoves to the ground had been honing his reflexes, specifically the ones related to kinetic absorption. On pure instinct, Vince readied for the blow, and when it slammed into his back the tremendous power of his attacker flowed into him, rather than shattering his spine.

                Spinning around, Vince saw the large Sim, fist still extended, staring at the man who its sensors probably said should be down in a bloody heap. It was stunned, and not in the same way as those who’d taken the brunt of the electrical blast. Vince was not one to squander an opportunity, so he leapt forward, placing a hand against its hip and angling the shot downward.

                “Thanks for the charge, but I brought plenty of my own.” The kinetic blast shattered the Sim’s equivalent of a pelvis, along with a healthy chunk of its left leg, and sent it sprawling to the ground. It skidded along, knocking out the feet of several Sim’s behind it and sending them tumbling about. As they fell, Vince caught sight of something he’d missed before, a blur in a white uniform darting around between the mechanical enemies.

                Chad was moving like a gymnast’s ghost, flipping around and staying completely out of every Sims’ grasp. Wherever he went, his arms and legs slashed, taking out artificial spines and tendons with surgical precision. He didn’t stop every Sim he encountered, but he at least slowed them down. And he certainly drew their attention, which was the heart of their job, after all.

                “Might want to step it up,” Roy called from behind Vince. “You’re score is only three, and I’ve seen Chad take down two just while he was near us, and that’s without even factoring in how many he’s crippled.”

                “We’re not competing,” Vince replied.

                “Sure we’re not. We’re just doing the best job we can. Which still means, you should step it up.” Roy turned away, kicking off the floor and tackling another of the larger Sims. He sent it to the ground, where it raised its powerful arms in defense, only for them to begin shattering under the blows of Roy’s bat.

                Vince scanned the area and found the one whose fire he’d drained. Certainly, they weren’t competing or keeping score, that would probably be looked at as distasteful. But, it still seemed at least prudent to fully neutralize a Sim he’d already fought. Especially before anyone else could add it to their tally.