A story of the past
Milton gasped. “You want to destroy the machine! I told you I need to stu—”
Stevenson’s sigh cut the older man off. When he spoke Stevenson was calm, conciliatory. “With a knife, we can cut power conduits. Without power it shuts down and you can go touch it.”
El watched Stevenson. He had never heard him this agreeable toward the older man.
Milton was thoughtful. “Yes, I suppose that would work.” His gaze became even more distant. He smiled and began bouncing on his feet. “Yes, yes, I know how we can do it.”
Stevenson waited for a moment, but the other man didn’t add anything. “Milton, I left my mind reading machine in my other pants. Draw what you’re thinking.”
“Right.” Milton crouched and traced lines in the dust. They meant nothing to El, but Stevenson crouched and after a moment nodded.
“I see where you’re going with this.” He added lines and in short order what they were drawing spread over two square meters.
He left them to go check on the soldiers.
“How are they?” He asked Leech.
“Nervous, excited. Freya went and took a look outside. She said that it’s actual soldiers doing the fighting now.” The lion grinned. “Living people mean I finally get to be useful.”
El chuckled and patted his shoulder. “You’re more than your power.”
The lion snorted. “Without it I’m just like the bunch of them. One soldier among many.”
El put a hand on the back of the lion’s neck and pulled him close. “Hey, don’t talk like that. Power or not, you’re nothing like them. You’re my friend and our brother, remember that.” He kissed the lion.
Leech sighed. “I am so going to need some sort of release in not too long.”
“Then it’s a good thing the fighting is getting closer. By the sound of it you won’t have too long to wait. Combat is a good replacement for sex.”
Leech made a face. “It’s a decent replacement, at best.”
El smiled. “You still get your release. Where’s Vee?”
El walked around the room, talking to the soldiers, offering encouragement. He also kept an eye on Stevenson and Milton who were now accumulating part for their machine.
He found the bull walking back and forth behind the line of nervous soldiers there, speaking softly to one or another.
El caressed the bull’s shoulder.
Vee turned and smiled. “Hey.” They shared a quick kiss. “How are the Crazies holding up?”
“Stevenson has managed to get Milton to work on a project with him.”
“He what?” the bull looked beyond El. The two humans were now assembling components.
“What are they making?”
“Something that will take down the forcefield, or so Stevenson said.”
“And you think they can pull it off?”
“Considering what each is capable of doing individually, I have no doubt they can build something really amazing together. Something that could probably level this city. That’s my worry, how much collateral damage are they going to cause and how close to us will it land. But if it means shutting down the forcefield, I’ll deal with that when it happens.
El pressed himself against the bull and took comfort in the hug. He allowed himself to forget that soon they would be fighting for their lives and simply enjoy the moment.
When he pushed away he looked up into the bulls eyes. “I need you to position yourself someplace you can keep an eye on me. I’m going to have to provide the air for their machine and I think Milton might become a problem. If it gets to that I need you to take him out.”
“Just unconscious. He’s still an ally, if an unstable one.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep watch.” The bull bent down and kissed him again. This time the kiss was full of passion, and El gripped Vee’s neck as he kissed him back. When they broke apart they looked into each other eyes and those looks promised a night to match the passion the kiss they’d just shared.
El would have taken that night right now, not caring if there was an audience, but he was conscious of the message it would send to the other soldiers. He was the leader, it was his responsibility to set an example, even if that meant not taking comfort under his lover’s body right now.
“When this is over,” Vee whispered the promise and El nodded. He’d have to be satisfied with that for the moment.
He walked around the room, talking with the soldiers who needed it. There was barely enough of them to cover all the openings, but it was important that no matter where the enemy came from there be a welcome comity for them.
He did three slow circuits before Stevenson called him, and by now the gunfire sounded like they were right outside the building.
The machine the two Crazies had built looked like a giant funnel with controls on each side. The large side was on pointing away from the generator, with the narrow one pointing at it.
“You stand here,” Milton indicated. “You’re going to push as much air as you can in there.” He indicated the large opening.
“Once you start, don’t stop,” Stevenson added. “Any drop in pressure could throw this off.”
El nodded. “Just tell me when to start.”
El pushed all the air in, creating a whirlwind in the room, the corridors and throughout the floor as he drew more and more air in.
“Ten percent,” Milton said.
In the distance windows broke, moments later his back was pelted with shards. He didn’t feel any pain so his armor took it.
The gunfire was much closer now. Just outside the building. He could sense them now, even if his attention was on moving all this air.
“Fifty!” Milton had to scream over the wind. “Sixty! Seventy-five!
El was panting. He could feel his soldiers retreating closer to them, enemies pursuing them. None of the scientist at the Freak Lab had ever pushed him this hard.
The gunfire erupted at eh edge of the room, barely audible over the torrent of wind.
“One hundred percent! Go!”