Dave didn’t get it. Had the Illusionist decided to help Lightblade after all? Or had she been in on it from the start? Figure it out later, he told himself. Lightblade had only been a few yards ahead of him. Dave moved cautiously forward, hands extended like he was trying to find Death.
“How could you?”
The Illusionist’s voice came from somewhere ahead and to the right. If Dave moved fast, he might be able to reach her.
“Yuna…” That was Lightblade’s voice, and he sounded uncomfortable.
Oh. Oh. Dave stopped. The Illusionist hadn’t cast this blackness to trap Dave; she’d cast it to trap Lightblade.
“What have you done?” she demanded. “Carl is dead, Mitch. So is that reporter. And you’re behind it?”
“That’s not… I didn’t want that to happen.”
“Then what did you want?” Her voice was getting closer to Lightblade’s. “What was worth betraying everything you ever taught me?”
Lightblade sighed. “You’re too young. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Then explain!” she roared. There was a thunk as flesh hit flesh, and Lightblade grunted. The Illusionist must be attacking. Could she see? Another thunk sounded, and the blackness vanished. Dave squinted through the sudden sunlight and spotted the Illusionist. She staggered back from Lightblade, clutching her jaw.
Dave rushed forward to help. It would only take a few seconds to reach them, but in a fight, that might as well have been hours. Lightblade threw a hook to finish her off, but the Illusionist grabbed his arm. She pulled forward, kicking his leg out from under him, and threw him face-first into the grass. No need to guess who her hand-to-hand instructor had been. She drove her foot down at his head, but he rolled out of the way and pushed up from the ground. As he got up, his head reached just the right level for her to deck him in the face.
Lightblade went down. Again. The Illusionist dove on him, and her punches didn’t stop. Fist after fist slammed into his face, and he stopped struggling after the first three or four. Dave put a hand on her shoulder.
Her head snapped around, and the rage on her face was almost enough to make Dave step back.
“You got him,” he said. “That’s enough.”
She was breathing heavily, and a few of her knuckles had split. She turned back to Lightblade, whose face was a bloody, bruised mess, head lolling to the side.
“Okay,” she said, still out of breath. “Yeah, okay.”
Dave offered a hand and helped her up.
The newspaper building was surrounded by flashing red and blue lights. Police cars mostly, but there were fire trucks and ambulances, too. Dave approached, holding one arm of a half-conscious, hand-cuffed Lightblade, while the Illusionist grasped the other. Moreen broke away from the crowd and had a group of agents whisk Lightblade away.
“Good work,” Moreen said. “Yuna, stick with Lightblade until they get him into a cell. He doesn’t look like he’s up to another escape attempt, but I’m not taking any chances.”
The Illusionist nodded and walked briskly after Lightblade and the agents. Her face was sallow, her mouth a tight line.
“I should go with her,” Dave said. “She’s still shaken up.”
“She can handle it,” Moreen said. “I need you to escort the Black Valentine to the hospital.”
Dave’s stomach did a little flip as he thought about Val’s bleeding wound. “Is she okay?”
“It’s just a graze. Doesn’t look life-threatening. But I had a chat with the paramedics, and apparently exatrin doesn’t react well with painkillers.”
“You’re going to take her off it?”
“Her last dose doesn’t wear off for another six hours, so they’re going to have to stitch her up without an anesthetic. She might not feel particularly cooperative when it’s all over, so make sure she doesn’t kill anybody.”
“Got it. But how much longer can we keep her in custody? The deal’s finished, isn’t it?”
“She’s our responsibility until the official paperwork comes through. I’ll call HQ for an update and let you know after I’ve sorted out this mess.” She waved vaguely behind her.
Dave didn’t envy her that job. Leaving her to deal with the mob of police and reporters, he found the ambulance where the Black Valentine was resting, spoke briefly to the paramedics, and climbed into the back.
“Hey.” The Black Valentine lay on a stretcher, bandages wrapped around her midsection. She lifted her head to get a better look at him. “Are you coming with me to the hospital? How very gentlemanly of you.”
“I’m coming to make sure you don’t cause any trouble.”
Her head flopped back down. “That’s less gentlemanly.”
Dave gazed at her, remembering the stab of ice in his gut when he’d realized she’d been shot. Had it only been a few seconds before he’d determined it was just a graze? It had felt like days.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” he said softly.
She didn’t reply, but her smile said more than words ever could.
This episode will be wrapping up next Monday. Lightblade’s down, but the yakuza’s still out there. And Val and Dave will be stuck in the hospital for a while.
In real life, I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving vacation. Hope to get some serious writing done. 🙂