“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 5

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Dave’s gaze darted from the hostages to the exit and the gunmen in the space of a second. He had to get these people out of here.

“Shit,” Moreen said, indicating she’d gotten the message, too.

The jerk with the mohawk thinks his boss won’t set them off now that they’ve gotten the Prophet Kid, the Black Valentine said telepathically. The other guy—the one who should’ve been a juggler—thinks he’ll blow the place just for kicks. He strikes me as the smarter of the two.

“Their boss,” said Moreen, “Pretty Boy Jeffries. He’s here?”

According to these two, he’s on the top floor, but he’s out of my range. I can’t sense him. The other gunman is bringing the Prophet Kid to him now. Once he checks that the kid doesn’t have any visions of their getaway plan failing, he’ll signal the others, and they’ll make their escape. They have a helicopter, by the way.

Moreen pinched the bridge of her nose. “Of course they do.”

“We don’t have much time,” Dave said in a low voice. “Do they have any other men left besides the two down here and the one who took the Prophet Kid?”

The Black Valentine closed her eyes again, her eyebrows scrunching together. If they do, the ones down here don’t know about it.           

“Okay,” Dave said, “Then our biggest problem is that walkie-talkie. We don’t want Four-Arms over there to warn Jeffries when we make our move.”

“Agreed,” Moreen said. “Valentine, I’m guessing you can do something about that?”

She raised her eyebrows theatrically. “Is a DSA agent suggesting I use mind-control on an unwilling victim?”

“I’m asking if you can stop him from using his walkie-talkie. How you interpret that is up to you.”

The Black Valentine smirked. “Oh, I can stop him. But I won’t be able to focus on anything else while I’m doing it.”

“Then I’ll handle the one with the mohawk,” Dave said.

Moreen glanced at him. “He’s pretty far away. You sure you can get him before he starts shooting?”

“I can get him.”

“Fine, I’ll watch your back.”

Dave looked at the Black Valentine. “Tell me when you’re ready.”

The supervillain stared at Four-Arms, a faraway look in her dark brown eyes. This was it. Dave’s stomach felt like it had been shot up in a rocket as he waited for a sign. Four-Arms was tapping his foot impatiently, his lower two arms folded while the upper two kept hold of his gun and walkie-talkie. Then his foot stopped tapping. He stared blankly ahead.

“He’s mine,” said the Black Valentine. “Make your move.”

Mohawk Guy hadn’t noticed anything wrong with his friend yet. He stood near the exit—and that was the issue: there were half a dozen yards between him and Dave, and super-strength worked best in punching distance. But he could throw things. Put enough force behind it, and even the most innocuous projectile could do serious damage.

Like a pink plastic tiara.

Dave threw it. He had a split-second to pray don’t miss, don’t miss, don’t miss. Then the tiara collided with the gunman’s shoulder. The plastic shattered on impact, and the gunman shouted an f-bomb that echoed off the lobby walls. Dave was already on his feet and running. Two seconds: the gunman stumbled back. Three seconds: the gunman’s eyes widened as he spotted Dave charging towards him. Four seconds: the gunman swung his gun in Dave’s—and the hostages’—direction, and Dave reached out his hand. Five seconds: Dave smacked the gun from the man’s grasp.

The gunman dropped to his knees, screaming and clutching his hand. Bones were broken; Dave must have hit him too hard. Dave glanced at Four-Arms, but the man was still staring ahead, no indication that he’d noticed anything wrong. Dave looked to the crowd. “Everybody okay?”

Moreen was up before anyone had a chance to answer. “Everyone on your feet,” she ordered. “Stay calm and get ready to move.”

Dave jogged to the entrance, pushed open the glass doors, and stepped out into the hot sun. The police let out a collective sigh of relief when they saw it was White Knight.

“Who’s in charge?” Dave called out.

A middle-aged man in a bulletproof vest stepped out from behind a police car. Dave hurried up to him.

“The hostages are coming out,” Dave said, “But we haven’t completely neutralized the Monstro Gang, and there are bombs in the building. I need you to get everyone in the surrounding area clear.”

“Understood.”

Dave thanked him and hustled back inside. The hostages were lined up by the door, and when Dave nodded at Moreen, she ordered them out. A few volunteers (or draftees, knowing Moreen) were even dragging the unconscious and semi-conscious gang members to safety. Soon Dave and Moreen were the only people in the lobby besides the statue-like Four-Arms and the Black Valentine sitting cross-legged on the floor. Dave approached her cautiously, not wanting to break her concentration.

“You need to get out of here, too,” he said. “This place could blow any second now.”

“I just need a little longer,” the Black Valentine said, not opening her eyes. “I’m convincing him that the room’s supposed to be empty, that’s he guarding the entrance and not the hostages. Once I do that, I won’t have to stay in his head anymore.”

“If Jeffries looks out a window upstairs, he could already know the hostages are gone,” Moreen pointed out.

Dave nodded, his focus still on the Black Valentine. “Don’t risk it,” he told her. “If you can’t finish in the next minute, cut and run.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Frowning, Dave turned to Moreen, who was checking the condition of the weapons she’d taken back from the gunmen. “I’m going to find the Prophet Kid,” he said.

Moreen slipped her taser into the holster on her belt but kept her Glock in hand. “You mean we’re going to.”

“If you’re in here when the bomb—”

“I don’t know exactly what you’re about to say,” Moreen said dangerously, “But it sounds like it’s going to be stupid and patronizing, so think carefully before you finish.”

Dave thought carefully.

“Let’s go.”

Next

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Kristen’s Corner

Smart choice, Dave. Smart choice. 😉

See how nicely everyone can work together when there’s a bomb threat hanging over their heads? We’ll see how long this truce lasts.

The next update will be Monday, August 1st.

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