Avalanche – Snippet 03
Wordlessly, John and Sera both withdrew to the doorway. They both knew that they had to be extra vigilant, especially now. John was the first to speak. “I wasn’t lying in there; she’s our first priority. We’re in the best position to protect her, and she’s important; Vic is a force multiplier, and having her active keeps more of our people alive.”
Sera nodded, and glints of gold began to form deep her eyes. “She cannot watch here and there at the same time. We must be the watchers here.”
John held his hands out, palm up. “Tell me what to do, darlin’. I’m with you all the way.”
“Remember how it felt, to know what our foes were about to do? Be that, again. Then stretch out your wings, and feel the wind of now uplift them, until you can see all of the city…” She placed her hands atop his, and he allowed her senses to guide his.
John felt things go still around the two of them. Time slowed down, and the world around them became dim for a moment. Then it was as if the world was moving and they weren’t connected to it anymore; in a few instants, the seasons changed a thousand times, the sun and moon had risen and set in a strobe, and then everything snapped back like a rubber-band to the NOW. John watched as Vickie’s apartment was at first frozen, and then started to vibrate, like a film going off reel. It was jarring when it settled back, as if nothing had happened. Slowly, blurred and ghostly versions of himself and Sera started walking through the apartment, going in different directions. First, there were just two. Then four. Then eight. Then sixteen. The blurred copies kept multiplying until it looked like there were superfast streams of motion moving through the entire apartment.
They are our possibilities. He knew without actually knowing that it was Sera’s voice, guiding him. Slowly, his comprehension of the scene expanded outward from the apartment; first to the floor they were on, then to the building, then the block, and so on until he had the entire city in his mind. He knew that Sera was seeing the same thing he was, in perfect clarity. It looked like rivers of golden and blue light running between the buildings and on the streets; he realized that those rivers were comprised of the lives and possible futures of everyone that lived in Atlanta. Very gradually, at certain intersections of the rivers and eddies, he saw…mires. Spots where futures ended, cut short or drastically altered. With a gasp that took place in neither time nor space, he realized that those were people dying from violence, or otherwise being harmed. Or, rather, that they would be.
He also started to feel all of the emotions of those people, their lives, their futures. Even the emotions of those that would die. John felt all of it welling up in him, threatening to spill over; he felt like a kettle, ready to boil over, like the top of his head was going to pop off, it was too much. He felt his own panic behind it all, all the love, pain, death, life, hate, joy, anger, jealousy, sadness, it was everything and all at once—
Peace, be still, he heard in his heart, and it was as if there was a “volume” control and she had turned it down. He could still feel all these things, but now they were like a sort of dissonant music playing in the background. He settled, and felt himself calming down. He felt shaken; it was like brushing too close with madness, losing his sense of self and succumbing to…whatever all of that had been. Breathing without breathing, he regained his composure. Now he could see the potentials, without being drawn in with them, focusing on the individual threads. It wasn’t quite omniscience; he imagined, off-handedly in the back of his mind, that it must be somewhat like what Gamayun could do. He also knew that they couldn’t do this forever; it was taxing, extending their senses out this far, and they wouldn’t be able to maintain it forever.
I could, once. But he didn’t sense regret or loss behind Sera’s thought, only a feeling of that was then, this is now. He felt her doing something he could only think of as…sorting. Like someone going through a basket of colored threads and looking for the ones that ended in a particular color. And sensed then that she was not finding what she was looking for.
I am looking for great danger, she answered the unspoken question. It is not here, not now, not here soon, but–
John felt himself returning to a certain point, a certain place…it was there in Vickie’s apartment, and now. Not something soon to come, but something happening. It was as if he and Sera had returned from a fugue state; their heads snapped as one to stare at one of Vickie’s monitors; it was glowing brightly in gold and blue, standing out against everything else. Then the effect ended, and they were fully back in the present.
“Somethin’ is happenin’, right now, Vic.” He and Sera both strode towards Vickie’s battle-station, on either side of her chair.
“There,” Sera said, pointing at the monitor. It was the one with Molotok’s Overwatch feed. He had just run out from a hallway that terminated onto the entrance to a landing pad, cantilevered over empty space. The view was beautiful…save for over a dozen Supernauts in their bulky armor, armed with arm-mounted machine guns and flamethrowers. At the very end of the landing pad stood Worker’s Champion, cradling a box. As one, they all seemed to turn to face Molotok. There were a few tense seconds of silence.
Moji called something out in Russian. What came in John’s ears was the usual Russian gibberish–but somehow, through his connection with Sera, he understood the sense of it. “You have blood-crimes to repay, Uncle. If you surrender, I’ll make sure you don’t suffer. It is better than what anyone else will offer you for betraying your family, country, your world…your very comrades. I will not make the offer a second time, as it is more than you deserve already.”
“It is an offer you cannot deliver, boy.” Worker’s Champion’s face was utterly devoid of anything approaching emotion; even his delivery was carefully modulated, betraying not the slightest hint of what he might be really thinking or feeling. “If only you understood—“
“Fuck you! Understand? Others may want to understand why you are a traitor. I do not. I only see an enemy of my people. I kill my people’s enemies; it is what good soldiers do, you swine. Spare me your words, and die like a goddamned Russian!”
Worker’s Champion nodded once, still stony-faced and cold. “So be it.” With that, all of the Supernauts raised their weapons. They would have been better off if they had turned their machine guns, grenade launchers, and flamethrowers on themselves. Molotok didn’t even bother to dodge their attacks; he marched determinedly from one Supernaut soldier, to another. Explosions went off around and even on his body, detonating harmlessly. Bullets bounced away and ricocheted in oblique angles from his body, sometimes going back towards the Supernauts that had fired the rounds. And the superheated napalm that struck Molotok simply dripped off of him. Looking through the Overwatch camera that was from his point of view, and from the ones that were hovering in the vicinity, he looked like a wrathful god come to exact vengeance.
He was an expert at Systema and several other martial arts; he didn’t use any of his expertise as he fought the Supernauts. He would just walk up to one, grab the armored soldier by his limbs, and rip him apart. Sometimes he would take the Supernaut’s head off with a backhanded strike, other times pulling an arm and a leg off and casting them aside casually, or splitting a soldier in half like a man pulling apart a wishbone. It was awful and awesome, in the unceremonious brutality of it all. The final Supernaut was quivering in place; he had expended all of his munitions, and his arm mounted machine guns, grenade launchers, and flamethrowers all clicked and hissed empty. Pulling a bayonet from his boot, Molotok calmly walked up to the armored soldier, grabbing him by the back of his helmet before pulling his head onto the bayonet. The soldier gave a final startled shriek before falling to the ground, still twitching with the grip of the bayonet sticking out from his helmet’s eyeslit.