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Chapter 10

I was in an alley. The apartments were clearly in the poorer sections of town, like I'd seen Rugal in when I'd entered his memories. A Kabletech soldier stood in front of me, his gun pointed at my head. 2 soldiers stood behind him, both of their guns pointed at me in case I made a false move. I'd acted way too fast: I should have read the mind of the guy in the flat more thoroughly and found out why he was there in the first place. I'd walked into a trap. I slowly put my hands in the air. I couldn't fight my way out of this. I'd just have to talk.

"I'm guessing you're lower down the chain of command" I said, keeping my voice as calm as possible, even though my heart was beating faster than ever.

The soldier at the front cocked his head slightly. "And why's that, little girl?"

"You don't seem completely brainwashed."

"I don't need to be. Kable pays me. I can pay the rent and keep my wife and kids happy. That's all I care about."

Damn Kable for preying on innocent men like this.

"Do you know why you were sent looking for me?"

The guy at the front shrugged. "Does it matter? Kable gives me a job. I do it."

"Huh." I said. "Good work, James. Good work."

Although I couldn't see his expression behind the black visor that covered every Kable Enforcement officer, I knew he was confused, and even a little bit terrified.

"How did you know that?" he asked.

"Same way I know everything else about you. You're wife's name is Lucy, and you have two kids called Natalie and Joshua, who are 5 and 6 years old. I like the girl's name, by the way."

"Where the heck did you learn this?"

"Just now, actually. You joined Kable Enforcement because you were fired from your last job and you're low on money. And...oh, that's interesting."

His trigger finger was shaking slightly, the gun pointing slightly towards my chest. I couldn't see his face, but just reading his mind I could tell how scared he was. I didn't want to do this, but I has no choice.

"Your daughter has the power gene," I said. "One of the few humans to have one."

Saying the words, acting like I was absolutely willing to tear this man's life apart, was horrible. I didn't want to do this. I wanted to tell him it would be ok. But, however I felt about it, it worked; the other two soldiers were now focused on James and not me.

"James," the one on the right said. "Kable's going to laugh up a storm when he hears this."

"Guys, please," James said, his voice cracking up slightly. "I'm just trying to help my family."

"You're helping monsters," the soldier on the left said. It was only now I realised that she was female.

James spun his gun round to point at the female soldier. Both of them pointed their guns at each other's heads, with the other soldier also pointing at James.

"What did you call my daughter?" James asked the female soldier, anger rising in his voice.

"A monster. There's no harm in speaking the truth."

"It's not true," I said. "It's just an alternative fact."

The female soldier fell to the ground, unconscious. The other two soldiers looked confused before the soldier who was still pointing his gun at James crumpled to the floor too.

"Huh," I said. "That was easier than I thought."

James looked at me, utterly terrified

"Y-you did this?"

"I wiped their memories about your daughter...or at least, I tried. I've never done it before, so there's no guarantee."

"T-thanks, I guess."

"You're welcome," I said. Then James fell to the floor, snoring.

I looked both ways down the alley and checked if there were any other soldiers in the area. It was guaranteed there would be: they wouldn't put three men up against someone with superpowers. I couldn't see anyone. I used my telepathy, trying to see if anyone was in the area.

Then I looked up.

2 snipers were on the roofs, but I couldn't see them. If I moved, they'd shoot me. If I took one of them out, the other would shoot me, and I hadn't practiced on using my powers on multiple people. I was stuck. More soldiers were coming down the alley. I couldn't win this. I put my hands in the air again.

Then the soldiers started shouting as a wall of ice rose up in font of them.

I was about as stunned as they were. I could here shouting from the other side of the wall. No, not shouting...screams. The sound of bullets came from above me: the snipers had changed their target to the new arrival. I got one of the snipers to shoot their partner in the shoulder before making him sit cross-legged on the roof. I turned back to the wall. The screams had stopped. There was just silence.

Then something came through the wall. Not by destroying it, though: they literally floated through it like a ghost. Water rose out of the wall, forming together into a vague, blocky shape that was vaguely humanoid. It was made of solid blocks of ice and had sharp icicles for hands, with a cone shaped head with piercing white eyes.

"Hello," the creature said. "I be Ice. I am present to save you."

Chapter 11

I looked at Ice skeptically. He was tall even for human standards, and was at least twice my height. I couldn't tell whether he felt living or artificial. He lacked emotion, and yet his appearance felt comforting in the same way any Mobian's would. What scared me most, though, was that I couldn't read his mind.

"I be Ice?" I repeated. "Are you a frozen pirate?"

"I will have to addition pirate to my grammar," Ice said. "What is pirate?"

"It...what pirate means isn't important right now. Who are you?"

"I have already mentioned you. I be Ice. I am here to save you."

"Great...why?" A surge of hope shot up inside me. "Did mum send you?"

"No," he said. The feeling of hope drooped. "I came here of my own accordion."

I had to bite back a laugh. Now was not the time to be complaining about grammar.

"Why did you come here?" I asked again.

"I saw Kabletech. They are evil. I destroyed them."

"Guess we both have similar views then. My friends were captured by Kabletech. Do you know where they might be?"

Ice nodded. "Kabletech Tower. It has multiple celings underneath it for weapons creation and other, unlegal acts. I've been in there already first."

"So how do we get in?"

I felt like if Ice could smile, he would be doing it now. "I'll show you where us get there."

We started walking off down the side of the alley that wasn't blocked by a wall of ice. As we walked off, James let out a massive snore. Ice spun around like he'd heard a bullet go off, and I only stopped moving when I noticed he had too.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"One of them's still alive." Ice said. His voice was devoid of emotion and his eyes had turned red.

I felt my insides turn cold. "Of course he's still alive. Why would I kill him?"

"He tried to kill you."

"He wouldn't have killed me. He would have captured me and taken me to Kable, but he wouldn't have killed me."

"He's still fighting for Kable. He might have killed. He might kill in the future. Why give them the chance?"

"He doesn't have a choice. His family's low on money. He has a wife and kids he needs to provide for. You want to harm them as well?"

Ice looked away from James, his eyes returning to their normal colour.

"I apologise," he said. "I didn't know he had descendants."

"That's...fine," I said. We kept on walking down the alley. I knew I needed Ice's help. The situation was desperate and his arrival was a massive stroke of luck. Yet after this, I kept glancing at the alley until it had disappeared from view. I couldn't help but question myself what was beyond the wall of ice.

Seeing how I'd been unconscious for 2 days and just had to fight my way out of an alley, my throat was dry and I was ravenously hungry. I didn't have any money (the wallet containing my small amount of pocket money was currently frozen), but the presence of an ice monster by my side managed to secure me a bottle of water and a burger from a fast food restaurant. I wolfed it down hungrily, even if it didn't fully satisfy me.

"I've never understand why you eat things," Ice said. I just decided it was easier to pretend I hadn't heard him than teach him human anatomy.

Ice told me that we'd meet at around 8 o'clock in the morning, which gave us a lot trying to reach Kabletech Tower. We had to go by back alleys and weird roots to get there, though, as Ice insisted he had to remain hidden as much as possible, which made a lot of sense considering we were both on Kable Enforcement's most wanted list. Although I knew it was in the city, I'd never actually been to Kabletech Tower before, so I let Ice lead the way. I asked about what Kabletech did there, but Ice just kept saying they did "bad things". So much for clarity.

The tower itself was a modernised building, either having been destroyed during the Black Arms invasion or just having been upgraded recently. The building was covered in glass, and near the top the Kabletech symbol, two adjoined Ks in a diamond shape, stood out in bright crimson. We weren't going up, though.

We ended up coming out of an alley to the left of the tower. For all their money, Kabletech had to follow the same grid referencing rules as the rest of the buildings in the city.

"How do we get in?" I asked.

"We goes bellow," Ice said.

"I need to teach you better English."

The ground underneath Ice began to freeze up, the concrete becoming a solid block of ice. Then Ice stepped back and the frozen ground opened up, revealing a perfectly formed square hole. Ice went round the hole and I got on his back, seeing there was no way I'd survive the jump without breaking my legs again. Ice jumped down and smashed apart on landing before reforming a second later. Although it was jarring, I wasn't hurt.

"That's pretty clever of you," I said, getting off Ice's back and trying to keep steady on the slippery ice.

"Thanks," Ice said. He walked over the edge of the pit under the tower, freezing the wall and opening it up in the same way he opened the pit. We both walked in as he closed the wall of ice behind us.

"Welcome to Kabletech," Ice said.

Chapter 12

We'd come out at a three way crossroads, with a corridor in front of us and 2 to the sides. The lower floors were clearly nothing like the building they were beneath: the walls were dark grey and dusty, and light was provided by flickering filament bulbs hanging from the ceiling at regular intervals. Corridors sprang up at regular intervals, forming what I could only assume was a criss-crossing grid pattern. A few doors were placed in the walls here and there.

"Shame," I said. "I expected something grander."

"Do you have any knowledge where your friends might be positioned?" Ice asked.

"I don't know, I only just got here!"

"Do you have any way to working it out?"

"I...can try and use my telepathy to check if they're here, I guess."

"Good. Do that."

"And what are you going to do?"

"Play as a diversion."

Ice rushed off down the corridor in front and turned to the right. So I was on my own in a building I had never been in before where everyone wanted to kidnap me. Great.

I walked off down the hallway to my left, trying to be as stealthy as I could. Every time I got near a corner I used my telepathy to check if anyone was there. Guards did sometimes turn up, but I just used my powers to stop them seeing me. Or at leat, I think I did. I'm not exactly accustomed to stealth, so I've never really thought about using my powers that way. Still, they don't notice me, so I suppose that's something.

I'm not sure how long I was down there. There was no big map saying "you are here", so I never knew where I was. The facility was huge and everywhere looked the same. As time wore on, I became increasingly desperate, using my telepathy all the time and caring less about getting the guards out of the way. Then I turned a corner and he was there.

Kable the Fox.

The red fox was in his traditional black suit, with a green shirt, black tie, and green trainers. His hands were in his suit pockets, and I had a feeling there was a gun there. Four Kable Enforcement guards stood their in their black riot armour, aiming at me with rifles. Kable did a small wave like he was greeting an old friend.

"Hey," he said. "Nice to meet you. I'm Kable the Fox, as you probably know."

"I'd guessed," I replied. I looked around, trying to find a way out of the situation. I was on the middle of a crossroads, so I could potentially go either left or right. How long would it take for Kable's guards to react, though?

"Smart girl," he said. "What the heck are you doing in my offices?"

"I'm an intern," I said instinctively.

"We don't take interns at your age."

"How do you know what my age is?"

"You're 15 years old, 3'5 tall, 33kg."

"How...how do you know that?"

"I tried to kidnap you. How wouldn't I know these things?"

I sighed. "How did you find out I was here?"

"CCTV. Cameras don't have minds, Natalie. You can't Jedi mind trick them. Speaking of mind tricks, thanks for finding out that stuff about James."

I froze. "You heard that?"

"The snipers did, and we have body cam footage as well. Seriously, thanks. We've already arranged for his daughter to be kidnapped and we'll fire him soon afterwards. I really appreciate your help. We need all the power gene carriers we can get."

He wasn't lying. I'd just condemned a girl to a life of imprisonment, or possibly something worse, and more than likely ruined a man's life. He was trying to play me, though. I knew he was.

"You won't break me that easy," I said, trying to sound as strong as possible.

"Oh, really?" Kable replied, a smile forming on his face that reminded me of Rugal's one in the memory i'd seen "How about if I told you I knew Ice is here as well, trying to be a diversion? What if I told you what he's really done?"

"I know about his twisted morality. He nearly killed an innocent man with a family because he wore your uniform."

"Maybe it would have been better for him if he had died?"

I fell silent, but Kable continued.

"So I kidnap his daughter and fire him. So, what happens there? Alcoholism? I'm teetotal, but I've heard humans have a habit of drinking the stuff when things get bad. Maybe he won't ever get another job? Maybe he'll just starve?"

"Stop," I whispered.

"Or perhaps his wife will leave him? That would be interesting. His life dissolving around him...all because a little girl wanted to run away."

"Please...stop."

"The girl who had a chance to stop his nightmare of a life. Who could have just ended it while he still had hope left in him. But no: she chose to let him live. To tear his life down piece by piece. What would he do then?"

"Shut up, you son of a bitch!"

Kable let out a small chuckle.

"I'm yours to command, my dear."

"If you call me that again, I'll disable your higher mental functions and comatose you for the rest of your life."

"Fiery. I like it. I reckon Valo would like you. Although, if you do try to do that, you will get shot. I don't want that."

"But you'll destroy a man's life to torment me?"

"He doesn't have any use. But you...you're interesting. What's your last name?"

"Walker," I said almost immediately. I knew it wasn't my last name legally, but it's always what I called myself.

"No it's not," Kable corrected me, and to be fair he was actually right. "I mean your actual last name. Your father's."

"It's...wait, you know anyway, don't you?"

"Yep. It's just more dramatic if I ask you."

"Cut the dramatic stuff, already. Why do you want to know?"

"Your family name is...interesting. I never knew he had children, you know. Well, I knew they existed, but they all just disappeared off the radar after a while."

"What the heck are you talking about?"

"Your family...your father's side...has a strange history."

"I've never met him."

"Huh, really? Well, you're no use to me then."

"Really? You're not going to tell me your evil plan?"

"I'm not a Bond villain. And anyway, you have telep..."

"Ok, thanks."

I turned to the left and bolted down the corridor. I could already hear Kable shouting after me.

"Wait...you stupid girl! I know what you've done!...What are you the Ginyu Force? Get her!"

I heard boots behind me, and I knew Kable was clever enough to know what I had done. While he was ranting about my family (was he seriously telling the truth anyway?), I'd found where he was holding the others and the most efficient route there using my telepathy. I couldn't think or fight my way out of this: I just had to get there before the guards.

I turned a few corners before I reached a door locked with a passcode. Luckily, that was in Kable's mind, too, and I managed to get into the room and lock the door behind me.

I jumped in shock and nearly used my powers when I saw Ice was already there.

"They're coming," I said, trying to catch my breath. "Kable knew we were here all along. We don't have much time."

Ice nodded. We were in a long room with several purple glowing pods lining the walls. I couldn't see what was inside them, but I already had a pretty good idea. I pushed gently on the pod. There was a sound like a gas canister being opened and the split in half lengthways. There was a huge gush of something like dry ice as Johnathon Persona fell out of the pod onto the ground.

"Well..." he mumbled. "That was...the worst nap I've ever had."

"You ok?" I asked as I helped the hedgehog up.

"I haven't had my medicine in a few days, but otherwise I'm ok," John said as he stood up. "How did you get in?"

"I had some help" I said, pointing at Ice.

The atmosphere in the room changed immediately. John's eyes were suddenly filled with hatred. I could feel the temperature cooling: Ice was doing something.

"You..." John mumbled, the anger in his voice overriding everything else. I watched as his purple fur turned grey, the stripe on his arm turning red. Liquid metal started crawling out of his hands, moulding into massive swords. Then I realised this was the first time I'd seen his power in action.

"John, please," Ice said, getting into a fighting stance. "We don't have time for this."

"You..." John repeated, his colour completely changed. Then he flew towards Ice, the swords raised.

"I'LL KILL YOU!"

Chapter 13

Ice's arms turned into curved blades and parried the huge swords, knocking John back. He landed feet first on the door that I'd entered the room from before jumping off it and swinging his right sword at Ice. Ice went to block the sword, but John used his momentum to swing his left sword instead. Within seconds, the sword's metal had turned brittle and shattered against Ice's body. John crashed into Ice, having clearly expected the blade to cut right through him, and fell onto the floor.

"What the heck are you doing?" I shouted. "We've got Kable Enforcement on our tail and the rest of my friends to save!"

"I know" John growled, standing up as a new sword formed in his hand. "You don't understand, Natalie. You don't know what this monster has done. He's killed countless people for his demented justice. I'll kill him if it's the last thing I do!"

I tried to use my telepathy on John, try and stop him in some way. I was answered by a million voices. I let our a cry of agony and fell to the floor. My head was on fire. Vision was swimming in and out. Ears were ringing. I could hear John and Ice fighting each other again, but it felt like it was a million miles away. I lay on the floor, unable to stand, head spinning, trying to collect my thoughts in this mental whirlwind that had suddenly hit me.

"What...did you do?" I asked. I knew I wouldn't hear an answer, not because John wouldn't give one, but because the ringing in my ears would stop be hearing it. I tried to stand up and was instantly hit by dizziness and nausea, before falling back onto the hard ground again. I had to stop them, but I had no chance until I recovered, which could be ages. However, there was one thing I could do.

I tried to use the pod next to me to pull myself up. I pushed on the purple window and immediately fell to the floor again. The pod opened and I was dimly aware of Rugal falling out.

"Uh..." the Polar Bear mumbled. "Where...Natalie?" He said suddenly, looking at me in surprise. "What's going on? Where are we? And what happened to you?"

"I...I dunno," I replied, trying desperately to keep myself conscious. "Look...could you stop John and Ice fighting while I recover?"

"John and...oh, crap," Rugal said, suddenly noticing the fight. "Well, I'll try, but there's no guarantee."

Rugal ran over as I sat there. I tried to pull myself up on one of the pods. The nausea had subsided, but the dizziness was still there and everything else felt like it was getting worse. I had a plan to stop them, but considering my current condition it was absolutely crazy. Hopefully Rugal would buy me enough time to recover.

I swear I fell unconscious again for a second, but I managed to stay on my feet. After what I thought was a few moments, I stumbled towards the fight, nearly falling over. I had no idea what's going on, but I found a patch of grey that looked something like John's head and touched it.

I fell forwards and enter his mind. If his power was multiple personalities, maybe I could disable it somehow.

Everything I felt before was gone. I'd never thought I'd feel good about feeling like a ghost, but I guess there are worse things. I was in a bleak wasteland with nothing but rock and dead plants everywhere. Right in front of me was a massive pile of chains, at least my height. Tangled within it were 3 hedgehogs: one was purple with a grey stripe on his arm; the John I knew from the Powers Club. The other two were a red hedgehog with a blue stripe, and a blue hedgehog with a purple stripe. Standing on top of the chains was the grey hedgehog currently fighting Ice. The chains seemed to shift round his feet, like they were a coiled snake preparing to drag him down.

"DIE YOU BASTARD!" the Hedgehog shouted at no one. "DIE!"

"Well, you're a charming guy, aren't you?" I said as I climbed up the pile of chains. The other 3 hedgehogs looked at me, but the grey hedgehog kept focused on the sky. I suppose he had other things on his mind.

As soon as I started to climb the chains, they coiled around me, crushing my arms and legs. The red hedgehog smiled, the purple one looked concerned and the blue one looked positively terrified.

"Fight it, Natalie" the purple one said. "The last thing I need is more personas"

I tried to fight through the chains, but they were much stronger than I was. They dragged me down, choking me. Then I remembered that I was a telepath in someone's brain and told the chains to go away. They abided, and I climbed quickly and easily to the top. The grey hedgehog still hadn't seen me, but I guess he didn't seeing he was in control. I commanded the chains to drag him down and they abided, coiling around the hedgehog and dragging him down.

"NO!" he shouted. "I'M NOT DONE YET!"

"Natalie," the purple John said. "As a recommendation, you might want the blue guy."

"Why..."

"I know my own brain best."

I shrugged and released the blue hedgehog from his chains. Then I roll back into the real world before being hit by everything I felt before and falling over.

Although my vision hadn't cleared, I saw a big blue blob where John was. He seemed to be talking to Ice and Rugal, but they weren't fighting anymore.

"C'mon guys," I mumbled. "We don't have much time."

Chapter 14

I sat there for a while as my senses cleared slightly. Rugal, Ice and the now blue John opened up the pods. Most of them were empty, but two of them contained Angel and Carl. I was relieved to see Angel again, not only because I'd wanted to see her the most, but because it meant my vision had cleared. I still felt dizzy, but I was at the very least able to walk without help.

"Hey, Angel," I said, standing up with a little help from the open pod.

"Hey Natalie," the fox replied "What have I missed?"

"My mum turned out to be a badass, I survived jumping out of a ten story flat and me and an ice monster launched a raid on Kabletech."

"Wow. Wait, Kabletech?" Angel said, sounding extremely sceptical. "The people who make water pumps in Mazuri and stuff?"

"The very same."

"How long were we out for?" Rugal asked.

"Two days," I replied. Everyone looked at me absolutely shocked, except obviously Ice.

"Two days?" Rugal said, looking shocked. "You left us down here for two days?"

"Sorry, but I kinda think jumping out of a window of a ten story building is a good excuse for not coming sooner."

"Two days is better than the other guy expected," John said. "He thought we'd be stuck down here for weeks. It's lucky you ran into Ice when you did."

Ice nodded. "Kabletech's doing a thing. Us need to find out what the thing is and prevent it."

"Er...no offence," Rugal said. "But shouldn't we be getting out of here?"

"We may need an alternative to getting out," I said. "Kable's guards are coming...I'm honestly surprised they took so long."

Carl mumbled something about plot armour and Angel looked around, obviously trying to find an alternate way out.

"Luckily," John said, "We have a guy who can turn walls into solid ice, so that's sorted. And as for getting out of here..." John looked at Rugal. "No. There's people to save here. More people than you. The other guy might have wanted you to just get out, but I don't."

"To be fair," Angel said "Rugal has a point. We're not heroes. I mean, you guys are, but we're not. We're just a bunch of teenagers. John, you saw what we did against that Wraith guy. I was the only one who could touch him, purely because I could react so fast."

"Angel..."

"To be honest," I said "Angel's right. I've only just got to grips with my powers and i'm just here because I got lucky. How are we supposed to help?"

"You supported me in breaking into Kabletech Shower," Ice said.

Everyone burst out laughing.

"I meant, Kabletech Tower," Ice said, not seeming flustered at all. "You managed to find out where everyone was on your own. You're beyond capable."

"Plus, we could do with Carl's powers," John said. "Kabletech has almost certainly put what they're doing on a mainframe."

Carl nodded, although he looked nervous.

"If you're dragging Carl along with you, I'm in" Rugal said, almost before John could finish talking. "I owe him. Big time."

Rugal quickly glanced at me. His eyes said it all: he wanted a chance to make up for what he'd done in the past.

"Well, I guess we don't have a choice then," Angel said. "Natalie? You in?"

I was silent for a moment, then groaned.

"Fine," I said. "You'll need me to get past the guards. But if I fall over, you carry me."

"Sure," Angel said, smiling. The others were completely stone faced to this remark.

Rugal and John lifted one of the open pods away from the wall and Ice froze it before breaking it down. I used my telepathy to check who was there: all of Kable's guards were round the door. I held up a finger to my lips to tell them to be quiet. None of us were exactly ninjas, even if I'd spent the past day in alleys and Kable Enforcement. Ice and John were the stealthiest, which was weird considering Ice's massive frame.

I did what I did before, using my telepathy to stop people seeing us. Unlike last time, however, we had Carl to disable the cameras, and even if Kable did appear before us, we could probably fight our way out anyway. The problem was, we had to find somewhere Carl could hack the mainframe, and then we needed to find a way out. Every time I asked Ice or John about escaping, they just said something like "I have a pretty good idea". The two led the way though the building, despite being at each other's throats a few minutes ago. Hopefully they didn't screw the entire thing up.

We found a door that was being guarded. I used my telepathy and found they were guarding a computer of some kind, which we obviously needed. Rugal and Angel dealt with the guards as I put in the passcode i'd extracted from the guard's minds to unlock the door.

"You'd think they'd have keycards or something..." Carl said as he walked into the room. The walls were lined with computer banks and wires, and a huge screen was on the far wall with an equally large keyboard.

"Evil corporations need large computers," John said. "It's a law of the universe."

Carl put his glowing hands above the keyboard and code started to scroll down the screen. Rugal and Angel entered the room last and closed the door behind them.

"We're going to have to run quickly," Ice said. "Kable may have not seen us before, but he will seen us now."

"How are we getting out?" I asked. I couldn't read Ice's mind and trying to use my telepathy on John's would just be painful.

"Kable has a private helicopter on the roof," John said. "Carl can hack that and we can get out."

"Are you kidding? Can't we just do the same thing we did to come in?"

"They'll foresee it coming," Ice said. "And I believe that we'll need a quick mode of transport."

Carl moved away from the computer, which had seemingly shut down. He was muttering something I couldn't hear, which was starting to feel like his normal state of being.

"What did you find?" Angel asked.

"Well...uh..." Carl stuttered. He looked utterly bewildered.

"Tell us before I break into your head," I said.

"Well...er...do you know about power genes?"

"I've heard of them, but I don't know anything about them"

"They're an additional chromosome in the body of some Mobians and humans that gives them powers, like us. Very little research has been done on them, and most of that research has been destroyed."

"And?"

"Kable is experimenting on them. He's trying to extract them from people, figuring out how to replicate them...all sorts of stuff."

"But that's good, isn't it?" Rugal asked. "I mean, sure, he's kidnapping people to do it, but he's doing useful scientific research."

"He's trying to build an army," Carl said. "Think about it: if he can find a way of injecting people with Power Genes and give them super powers, he can monopolise the weapons market...and maybe the drugs market to."

Even I could see the inherent problem with that. People everywhere might get power genes, and some of them are going to be the bad guys.

"So how do we stop this?" I asked.

"Kable has a facility near Sunset where he's holding the people he kidnapped," Carl replied "If we can take it down, we can halt whatever he's doing, or at least slow it down."

"Great," Angel said. "Well, everyone, let's get a private helicopter and fly to Sunset!"

At that point, John shushed us and told us to listen. I didn't need telepathy to work out who was coming.

"So how do we get out of this one?" I asked.

"Not the easy way," Ice said as he barged down the door and the gunfire started.

Chapter 15

There was exactly 32 soldiers on the other side of the door. I'd done a quick count of minds when John told me when they were coming. However, I hadn't expected them to have flamethrowers.

Seconds after Ice left the room, he was doused in flame and had begun to melt. I used my powers to put one of the flamethrower users to sleep, but before I could do anything else my concentration was broken by a storm of bullets flying into the room as the soldiers stepped on the watery remains of what was once Ice. John raised his hands and suddenly lightening flew out of his hands, jumping between the soldiers. Angel dived into the crowd and the other flamethrower was on the floor within seconds. While the other soldiers were looking around trying to find the lightening fast Mobian in their midst, I made another one of them start doing Yoga and Rugal had joined the fray, fists blazing.

"Rugal!" I shouted, running after him and Angel. "Could you cool down Ice enough to bring him back?"

"Yeah, sure," he said. The air around us cooled to the point where I started shivering and an ice block appeared in the puddle. Seconds later, the puddle froze over and ice spikes formed out of it, stabbing the rest of the soldiers.

"ICE!" John shouted, running out of the room pursued by Carl. "No killing!"

The ice spikes retracted and the puddle cracked, breaking up before Ice regrew his body.

"Apologies," he replied. "I forgot I have to follow uneffective justice."

"Sarcasm?" John said, surprised. "From you of all people?"

"Lets just get out of here before we all die," Carl said, clearly worried.

"Thank you captain optimist," Angel said, her cocky smirk back after being locked away for so long.

"Lead the way," I said to John. He sprinted off down one of the crossroads and we followed him as fast as we could. We didn't bother with stealth anymore: any guards were instantly rendered unconscious or electrocuted. I was relatively athletic, but even I found it hard to keep up with Ice and John.

"Hey...Ice," I huffed. "Mind if we...slow down?"

"Yes," Ice said without looking at me. I assumed that we wouldn't be stopping and shut up.

Pretty soon we arrived at an elevator and we all piled in as Carl shut the doors with his powers.

"You sure this is a good idea?" Rugal asked. "I mean, it's their elevator."

"Kable won't let them shoot one of his own elevators." John said "They cost too much."

I felt the elevator rising.

"Where are we going?" Carl asked.

"Floor 200" John replied.

"But...there's no 200 on the dial."

"Exactly."

Carl nodded as his hands continued to glow. I looked round. Everyone was breathing hard except Ice, who didn't have to breath anyway. Angel was sat down on the floor, breathing harder than most of us, her hands trembling.

"You ok?" I asked her.

"Yeah, yeah" she said quickly "I'm fine. Just...just out of breath."

"I thought you did sprinting?"

"Well...I've been locked away in a tube thing for 2 days."

"But so was Rugal and he..."

"Heads up," Carl interrupted "We're there."

The doors slid open. We were in a long room with a glass window running along the side. On the other side of the window was the roof of Kabletech Tower and a helicopter pad with a helicopter on it. The room must have taken up half of the roof, and the helipad took up the other half. The room had a dark red carpet, and at one end of the room was a sofa and a few chairs surrounding a glass table currently supporting a coffee mug and a copy of Anna Karenina. Above it on the wall was a TV currently showing Kabletech's stocks and beside it was a framed copy of a Superman comic. On the other side of the room was a desk filled with papers and, sitting in the leather chair on the other side, was Kable the Fox.

"We meet again, Miss Walker," he said, "Or should I say, Miss-"

"Cut the crap," Rugal said. "We're getting out of here, so do you want to stop us or what?"

"Obviously" Kable said before drawing a pistol and firing it straight at Carl. Before the bullet could land, Angel stepped in and flicked the bullet away, the tiny shard of metal falling to the ground with a plink. She was still shaking slightly, and was breathing deeply, but she looked better than she had in the elevator.

"Huh," Kable said, surprised. "You really are that fast."

Kable fired his pistol rapidly, unloading the full clip onto Angel, who deflected everything. When Kable ran out of bullets, Angel collapsed to the floor, seemingly exhausted and clutching her stomach.

"Not now," she mumbled. "Not now."

"Something feels wrong here," John muttered. "Kable's not usually this upfront. He's a chessmaster. There's no way he would go up against us alone."

I checked Kable's mind. That's when I found out there was nothing there.

"It's a hologram," I said.

"Of course it's a hologram," the false Kable said. "It's a trap, you idiots."

Chapter 16

Seconds later, we were in the middle of a crossfire. Two Kable Enforcement guards got up from under Kable's desk, four from behind the sofa and chairs at the other end of the room. Multiple ropes fell down from outside and more guards slid down and ran through the door, followed by another 4 from the helicopter. John, Ice and Rugal were in there immediately, and I joined in soon after, disabling the guards behind the desk as the hologram of Kable sat there unmoving. Angel was still on the floor, breathing heavily, and Carl had dived for cover behind the desk with the hologram and the snoring guards.

I reached down to help Angel up just as a bullet whizzed past my left shoulder. Angel grabbed me hand and I pulled her up. Before I could ask her anything, she started attacking the Kable Enforcement officers with a flurry of kicks and punches. She seemed to be slightly slower than before, but then again, so was everyone. We were all tired after running round the basement, and if we didn't have Ice onboard we wouldn't stand a chance. A bullet cut through the fur on my right leg, and although the scar was probably small, it felt like having a hot iron pushed into my leg and I fell over. The guards tried to follow up, but an ice wall formed between me and them and I half ran half crawled over to where Carl was hiding.

"We need to get to the helicopter!" Carl shouted from where he was hiding.

"Can you get it over here?" I asked.

"Not safely. The blades would cut us to shreds."

"Great. So the plan is fight out way out?"

"Knowing us, that's not a bad idea."

The ice wall came down and I looked over the desk. Most of the guards were down, but a few lone soldiers were still shooting, and it was guaranteed more were on the way. Everyone was exhausted, although Angel looked much better than she was a few minutes ago and her smile had returned, even if it was a bit forced.

"C'mon," John said. He looked much better for wear than the others. "We need to get to the helicopter." He looked at me. "Are there any more guards on the way?"

I did a quick check with my powers: I couldn't sense any minds other than the people in the room.

"If they are, they're not here yet," I said. "We should get out of here while we still can."

We walked out of the room onto the helipad. The glass of Kable's room wasn't shattered, so it was most likely bulletproof, which meant the helicopter hadn't been affected by the attack. There was no one there, but we were all on edge: John's hands were crackling with electricity and Rugal's hands were still on fire. I couldn't sense anyone nearby except us.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my leg and fell too the floor. I'd been shot in my right leg. We all looked round too see a huge metal walker climb over the side of the tower. It had four huge legs that were so big they were almost shields to the sleek 1 man cockpit in the centre of the legs. Behind the cockpit, an articulate tail rose up with several machine guns on the end of it.

"What is that?" I asked

"A Scorpion Dust walker," John replied. "You guys get to the helicopter. Me and Ice will hold this thing off. And no, Carl, we don't need your powers. You're more useful with the others. Now MOVE!"

As soon as he had finished, the machine guns started firing. A wall of ice came up between us and the walker before any could reach us. Rugal pulled me up and I realised the others were already at the helicopter. Walking with a bullet in my leg was agonising, but by some combination of adrenaline and sheer willpower I made it to the helicopter just as the ice wall broke. The door closed and I looked out of the window as John's lightning knocked bullets out of the air. Rugal and I were on the backseat of the helicopter, Carl was in the pilot seat and Angel was in the front passenger seat.

"Can you fly this thing?" Angel asked Carl.

"No" Carl said "I can use my powers, though."

"That's...kinda what I meant," Angel mumbled.

I heard the helicopter blades spin above us as we were lifted into the air. I watched as more Kabletech guards poured out of Kable's room, the holographic Kable still sitting there stock still. It was a tough challenge, but I knew John and Ice knew what they were doing.

None of the guard were aiming for us in the helicopter. They were focusing on Ice and John. I guess they were trying to shoot the people who actually knew what they were doing. We were all breathing heavily. The sun was setting on the horizon. We were silent for a while, with nothing but the rotating blades above us, which were astonishingly quiet for a helicopter. Then Rugal spoke.

"I guess I owe you all an apology."

I spun round in surprise, Angel glanced calmly round her shoulder and Carl didn't even turn, his face cloaked in shadow, although he was definitely affected by the statement somehow.

"Carl, Natalie...I know i've scared you with what I've done. Hell, I scared myself. I'm trying to change. My past...hasn't been great. I've done some bad things. But I want you to know that I'm sorry."

"What did you do?" I asked, calmly. "Don't answer me if you don't want to, but it would be easier to understand if you explained."

"If you knew, you wouldn't be my friend anymore."

"I know plenty, and I'm still here."

Rugal was silent for a moment.

"My parents betted in a fight club," Rugal started, slowly. "It had been run since the 1800s, promising fights between people with amazing powers. It was called Disaster Club."

He glanced at me before he continued.

"When they found out we had power genes, my parents wanted me and my brother to fight there, partly so we could make money, partly for their own amusement. I was 10 when I started training. my brother was 13 when he had his first fight. He was brutally beaten and lost his eye, even though club rules went against it. Due to his power, sparks replaced where his eye should be, so we started calling him Thundereye. After about a year of fights, he suddenly snapped. He suddenly enjoyed inflicting pain, talking about it like it was some kind of drug. I started fighting at 12 and I was ok at first. I didn't have my eye gouged out or go mad or anything, but I started to change. I became meaner, laughing at other people's expense. I created my own mask to hide behind. Then, when I was 13...Thundereye killed my parents."

My hands went to my mouth in shock and Angel looked equally horrified. Carl still didn't turn.

"I don't know what happened to him. He didn't enjoy anything other than inflicting pain anymore. My brother had disappeared, and Thunderye stood in his place. We fought, obviously. I lost, but I managed to outsmart him and escaped before he could kill me too. I spent the next year on the streets. That's when...that's when I attacked Carl. I bullied him as well. I...I don't know why. I just wanted too throw my anger at something, I wanted to rage against the world for making my life a bundle of crap. I did some horrible things back then, and I'm not proud of it. The worst thing was I started to enjoy what I was doing, just enjoying mindless violence. I started to become...more like my brother."

I could tell it hurt him to admit it.

"Then I heard about Sonic. I don't know why, but I've always felt Sonic's past life must have been crap to make him be who he is today. I wanted to be like him. A hero. I let an orphanage take me in. I started going to school, even if I had barely any prior education. I tried to make up for what I had done. And then I met you guys. The first real friends I've had since my parents died. And if you can't forgive me for what i've done, I understand."

We were silent for a moment.

"I forgive you," Carl said. He hadn't turned around and his head was still down, and although I couldn't see him my powers told me he was crying. We were silent for a moment. Then Angel started talking.

"We're here."

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