I’m Already Dead.
Tumbling through the air, vision blurry and spinning, unable to even tell which way is up, is not a good state for sensible decision-making. Case in point: I somehow reached the conclusion that going sideways would be better than down, and used my power on myself.
For a second, it was like nothing had changed. Then I hit the ground, shoulder first, tumbling for a few very painful meters before my legs caught on something and jerked me to a violent stop.
The fact that every part of my body hurt isn’t really news at this point, so let’s just brush over all the aching and complaining and crying and skip to me being back on my feet again. I leant against the cause of my abrupt stop, which turned out to be a large concrete pillar, and got my bearings.
The building turned out to be a parking lot, which was a relief. Wonder how well this guy will handle having a car chucked at him. It was mostly empty, only a few vehicles scattered around, sedans and hatchbacks. Based on the view, I was on the top level of the structure. The view, and the hole in the roof in front of me that opened up to the night sky.
Carefully, I stepped up to the edge of the hole. It was a large, uneven circle, cut off at one side by the building’s end. In one or two spots, the bases of pillars were still standing, with obvious markings of being torn apart by the meat man. Looked like he’d taken out the pillars below us, and let gravity do the rest. He’d probably gotten a few when we tossed him through here the first time.
The ground near my feet began to crumble a little, and I took a hasty step backwards. No more falls for me today, thank you. Even the one-story fall it looked like it would be might well kill me. The holes had formed in a sort of inverted pyramid of gaps, growing smaller as they went down. A few cars had been caught in it, and now lay wrecked at the bottom, one sticking straight up in the air as it was propped up by others.
On the different tiers, I could see the other Outliers, in various states of dis- and array. Including mine and the ground, there were five levels, and they were all pretty much evenly distributed between them, with me at the top, and no sign of Void. Or the meat-tornado, actually, which wasn’t good.
“Sound off!” I yelled down at them, voice raspy and hoarse. Slowly, responses began coming back, as they picked themselves up and dusted off. Freefall was the best off, obviously, and it looked like Ricochet and I were tying for worst. “Where’s Void?”
The vertical car shook and groaned, and then slowly lifted into the air. It hung there for a second, then was sent unceremoniously flipping away, where it crashed into a wall and fell to the ground with some unfortunate crunching noises.
Void waved up at me from where the car had been. “Right here,” she yelled.
“Did you just toss a fucking car?!” I demanded incredulously.
“You’ve seen me do much more impressive things,” she tossed back. This had looked… different, though. Normally, when she threw things around, they had that odd, floaty quality to them, because she’d lightened them with her power. That car, on the other hand, had looked anything but light.
“Oh, now you’ve gotten me curious.” Like before, the voice seemed to emanate from thin air, without any concrete source. Unlike before, his actual body/form was nowhere to be seen.
“Can anyone see him?” I barked out, as everyone spun around, trying to identify where the noise was coming from. I checked over both my shoulders, but there was nothing.
“So, do I get to see some of these very impressive things that you’ve done?”
“He’s playing Predator!” Void yelled, ignoring him. “Everyone pair up, watch each other’s backs.”
I looked around again. Slight flaw with that plan.
She remained where she was as everyone else moved, scanning the room. “You know,” she called out, “you’re acting very inconsistently.”
The low chuckle that filled the air made my chest vibrate and my teeth ache. “Only to you. When you can see the patterns, when you have been visited, as I have, then everything is completely clear.”
Over my earpiece, barely louder than a whisper, I could hear Foresight’s voice. “I can’t see him anywhere.”
“Even now,” Meaty Chunks continued, “they continue to harangue me, hound me. Try and turn me from this path. But, ah. How could I?”
“Pretty easily, I’d say,” Void replied, sounding perfectly calm. Dammit, he had to be somewhere. There were significant patches of darkness further down, where the light from the hole in the roof wasn’t reaching. Could he be hiding in one of those? I don’t know how he’d hide from Foresight, but it had been anything goes with this guy already.
Hey, now would be a pretty good time to have that funky weird power-color vision back, if you don’t mind. Predictably, I got no response, and my vision stayed resolutely normal.
“So what’s the ‘pattern’ of this? Running away, until you’re suddenly not.”
“I was never running away.” Ribbon let out a loud shout, and a hammer of fabric smashed down on the pavement in front of her, but if she’d seen something, it was already gone. “Merely restaging the situation to better suit my needs.”
“Oh, I dunno,” Void replied casually. “Looked a lot like running away to me.”
That laugh again, louder. Gah, it was like standing next to subwoofers, but without the actual noise. “Well, then. Perhaps this will convince you.”
There was a flicker of movement behind her, and she spun, fist lashing out. It found nothing but empty air. A distraction. An instant later, the same flicker happened next to Tide and Ribbon, but this time, Tide went staggering forward, crying out as a spray of crimson flecks flew away from her. She was immediately surrounded in a shield of fabric by Ribbon, but he was gone already.
“Shields u-” Void began to say, but then he barrelled in out of nowhere, knocking her backwards and through the rubble. For a second, his real form stood there in his place, staring up at us all.
Then the carnage began.
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