55: PANDEMONIUM

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[ BACK TO RISK ]

Time snapped back in a manner not dissimilar to that of an elastic band, smoke actually beginning to smolder from Gambler's very being as she screeched, "I want them dead, now!"

My brow flickered in the briefest moment of confusion, Rebel's hand withdrawing with Gambler's knife. He flipped it in his hand, giving himself a better grip on the handle, as both of our eyes shifted from Charlie to the rest of the room. All of the UN leaders were standing, and there was a line of security guards standing on the outskirts ... as their weapons lifted and all pointed toward us, I realized that Desmond had not known all of the elements to their plan.

That all happened in a handful of seconds, the brief silence shattered by over a dozen guns firing simultaneously. Most of the UN leaders screamed, and all of them took cover beneath the table as the bullets flew.

The moment I'd heard gunfire, I'd responded as I had in the warehouse. A telekinetic shield formed between my people and the rest of the room, one hand clenched to a fist in the effort of maintaining it. The bullets collided with the invisible wall with dull pops, their flattening and falling the only indicator that any sort of barrier stood between us.

"You can't hold it," Rebel said, his shoulder brushing against mine firmly in effort to draw my attention up to him. "Imitate and Desmond are on the other side somewhere."

The Kinetic agents hadn't stopped firing, most of them moving toward us. A crowding tactic, it occurred to me distantly, and for that moment my gaze flickered over to where Aim and Gambler stood. Though Gambler was still fuming, Aim had a smug look on his face, and I knew why.

"You can't hold it," Rebel repeated, this time reaching down and taking my clenched fist into his larger hand. "Risk," he said sternly, urgently, only now causing me to make eye contact with him. My jaw was clenched so hard it nearly hurt, but I made steady eye contact, his emerald eyes searching mine carefully. "We both know that if you hold the shield you can't do other fighting. Either way you'll be distracted."

"They know that," I retorted with teeth clenched, my head jerking toward our enemies.

"Yeah," Rage remarked from behind us. "They do."

Rebel and I both looked back to him. He radiated an almost eerie sense of calm, though his eyes were razor sharp -- and not focused on either of us. He was looking beyond, at both Aim and Gambler. He looked like a cat contemplating when the best time would be to pounce. "But they seem to have forgotten that you two aren't the only ones here," Rage continued, his gaze briefly focusing on Rebel and I. "Do me a favor, would you?"

I arched a brow in silent inquiry.

"Try not to forget that, too," Rage said bluntly, his attention already having returned to the Kinetic.

In my periphery I could see an amused smile tug at Rebel's lips, and when I looked at him full on the smile was growing. It was the devious kind, the kind that once it touched his eyes it seemed to ignite them. He grinned down at me. "Well?"

I rolled my eyes, my attention darting over to the rest of the room, where the Kinetic agents had come as close as they could to the shield, effectively keeping Aim and Gambler from my line of sight. A silent sigh escaped me, before I looked back up at Rebel, this time with renewed determination. "If I get shot again because of you, you're going to owe me coffee for a year."

Rebel's grin grew ever wider, and behind us Snag let out a nearly manic laugh. "As if they're even gonna get close!" she crooned.

"Deal," Rebel agreed with a short nod.

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