Jackson was watching her intently. She pressed her thumb to Dylan’s forehead and felt her power in her hands, the way the force flowed through and out of them, the blue tingly light that seemed to come from somewhere deep inside of her.
Dylan stumbled slightly and blinked at her. When she pulled back her hand, there was a faint glowing blue light on his forehead.
“And the neck,” Jackson urged. “Same thing. Back of the neck.”
“Not the neck,” Dylan protested. Even as he was complaining, though, he was kneeling.
“Dude-” Ethan began.
“Look, we’re under someone’s thumb either way,” Dylan muttered. “Just go with it. She saved our lives.” He finished kneeling – proposal style, one knee down – and lowered his head.
“She was trying to choke you to death a day ago!” Ethan took another step back.
“Yeah, well, I figure we pissed her off.” Dylan still hadn’t moved.
“You’re nuts, man.” Ethan took another step back. “You can’t – do you have any idea?”
“Ethan, you bloody idiot, if you shut up, nobody will have any idea. We owe her something, yeah? Get on your knees before she lets the mob have you.”
Lina found it interesting that they thought she’d do that – because that got Ethan on his knees.
She also found it interesting that Dylan somehow thought she wouldn’t ask, or that Jackson either wouldn’t know or wouldn’t tell her, but that was – well, that was in a minute.
She could hear the mob, and she was worried they were going to get even worse soon. She didn’t see anything like police here, not even the internal security force.
She took a breath and pressed her thumb to Ethan’s forehead. The magic within her seemed to surge forward. He made a little noise as the glow seemed to encompass his whole head. The moment she moved her hand, he dropped his head like his friend.
“Might want to hurry,” Jackson murmured. She didn’t want to rush this, but she pressed her left hand – not her thumb, it didn’t seem right, but her four fingertips – to the back of Dylan’s neck. “You came to me,” she murmured, “and I give you my shield as it shields me.”
What? Well, the words could be worse. Her shield seemed to wrap around his neck and all the way down his shoulders. She only pulled away when Jackson murmured, a little more urgently, “Lina.”
“You can wait for me,” Ethan put in. “I don’t mind, I mean, I’m patient.”
She wrapped her hand around the back of his neck and pushed her power into it. “Your blood comes to me and I claim it as my own.”
Where had she even gotten those words? Where was any of this coming from?
She looked up, and all of a sudden the sound came rushing back like someone had opened a door. There were people, a roiling mass of people like they had forgotten where each one of them began and ended, and they were tumbling towards the four of them like they were going to plow right over them, up the hill, stepping on other people, clawing their way up like somehow they, Lina, Jackson, them, had the answers to escape.
Lina threw her hands in front of her and pushed a force-shield out without even thinking about it. People surged up the cliffside and bounced right into her shield, stumbling backwards.
That wasn’t going to work, either. She didn’t want to kill people. Frowning, biting her lip, she pushed another shield out over the cliff so that people couldn’t fall down or come up, and then began putting shields between people.
This was hard work. She had to do it all by touch, using the senses of her shields; even if she had wanted to get to the edge of the cliff and look at the mob, Jackson’s hand was on her shoulder and she didn’t know if she could get there if she wanted to.
She heard them talking – Jackson, Caleb, Ethan – like vibrations from a long ways away, but she didn’t have any attention to spare for them. She slipped shields between people like she was untangling one of her brothers’ toys.
Her brothers. There were kids in that mess. She had to stop them before they hurt someone else. She had to-
Someone pressed something to her lips. Without thinking, Lina ate.
Sweet sugar-and-butter hit her tongue. She chewed, swallowed, pushed her shield again, chewed, swallowed.
Someone took her hand and put it somewhere. She didn’t know what was going on; she couldn’t see anything. All she could feel was her shield, and she kept moving it outward, wrapping people in shields, pushing them apart. It was like video game, like Snakes, get your shield into every nook without touching it to itself, repeat, repeat —Want more?