Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Seventeen

Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

Sorry about the pause in posting this – I have very little excuse (Except pandemic) because I have like 7+ chapters ahead already written.

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Lina tried not to put too much weight on Jackson, but she felt like she had no energy at all left.  She tried to force her mind to work, to come up with something to say.  What had she been thinking about?

Physics.  Physics.

“When we – I need a book on Physics.  A good one.  And maybe I need to call our physics teacher.  Mine, I mean.  Or yours.  If they —”  She looked out.  To either side of the plaza, the wave had left broken buildings and scorched-looking places.  “If they survived?  Is this-“

BzzZzt.  Dean.  Dean, they say That was the first wave.  The second one shouldn’t hit for more than 12 hours, and then another 12 after that.  They don’t know how long before it wears itself out.”

“Direction?” Lina snapped. 

“Dispatch.  Which way will it go?”

Lina winced.  She had just barked out orders at a police officer. 

She had just saved a police officer’s life. 

She had just bound a police officer to herself. 

“Jackson?  How many…?”

“Twelve.  A good number, and fifteen is too, and you had us.  18 is too — not so much 20, though.  You need at least one more.”

“I need…” She was too tired to glare.  She tried anyway.

“Dean.  Bzzt.  Dean.  They say a 90 percent chance it keeps going in the same direction.”

“Tell— could you.  Could you ask them to ask the power plant — how much can they narrow it down in 10 hours? Because if I have to stop it at the plant,” she winced, “that’s going to be really hard, but if you guys, the emergency services, have, if you have,”  she was going to be sick.  “… you have 12 hours, say 10, to clear out everyone else from here, from this wedge that got hit?  Then we can stop this again, here, in 12 hours.  But they have to be sure, because otherwise we’re going to need a ride to the power plant and every non-Emergency-Services person you can get who is willing to lend me their power in a metaphysical and literal way and — Jackson, I haven’t — I haven’t pulled — haven’t —”  She flailed a hand, not having the words.  “I haven’t yet, have I?”

“Here.”  He pulled something out of the grocery cart, unwrapped it, and pressed it in her hand.  While she stared at it, he unearthed a soda.  “That first.  Everyone else,” he called out, “come get some food.  What just happened took energy, and we’re going to need it again in under 12 hours.  Come and get your food.  If you’re in contact with other people around the city, let’s share some information, okay?  We need to know everything we can.”

Officer Dean went back to talking into her radio.  Lina ate the whatever — she didn’t taste it — and downed the soda.  A moment later, she felt Dylan and Ethan near her. 

Dylan cautiously put his hand over hers.  “Remember how to disengage?”  His voice was more gentle than she’d ever heard it.

“Yeah, I — yeah.”  She looked at his hand on hers.  “Ready to be the guinea pig?”

“Can’t it be one of the new ones?” His whine had no real push behind it. He knew why not already. 

She told him anyway. “No, because you’ll come back even if I make it feel awful.”

“…Shit.  All right.”

This time, she found she could pull back much easier.  She pulled out of Dylan and left him only with a small grunt.  From there, it was easier — Ethan, and then the rest of this group of strangers. 

When she came to herself again, the cashier — Asok— was looking at her.  “You just saved our lives, didn’t you?”

“I’m pretty sure,” Dylan put in dryly, “she saved a lot more than just us.  Look at the way it’s burnt out to either side there — that was going to keep going.  Right up and around that hill and over it and straight on.”

“And she — and you — you stopped that?  How?”

Lina held out her hand and floated a small force-bubble on her palm.  “I make forcefields.  The more people lend me their power, the bigger I can make them.”

“I heard you talking to the — to the officer.  You think you can do more? Stop all of them?”

“I think I have to.  But I’m going to need a lot of help.  And rest.” She looked around.  “If you can rest—”

“I got this.”  Dylan stepped up on a car and shouted out.  “Hey!  Hey, that was just the first wave.    Hey!”  Most of the gathered people turned to look at him.  He offered a hand to Lina and she took it, stepping up on to the car next to him.  “This lady here, she just saved your lives and the lives of a lot more people, with your help.  But the thing it, that was just the beginning.  There’s going to be another wave like that in – in just under thirteen[go back and change] hours.  Okay?  Everyone listening?”

Everyone was listening.  Everyone was paying surprisingly rapt attention.  They all looked scared off their asses. 

Lina couldn’t fault them that; she was scared off her ass, too. 

“Right.  So the thing is, that means you all need to meet us back here in 11.5 hours.”  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked it.  “That’s going to be just after noon.  Call it Twelve fifteen.  If you need cab fare or, uh, there’s a Motel 6 right there, a place to stay for the night, I’m serious, just tell me and Ethan here.  And if you’re willing to come back or think you might be, get Ethan or Jackson’s numbers there,” he pointed.  “The four of us, we’ll get you set.  Get some food out of the cart there, ’cause you just ran a marathon with your mind.  I’m serious about all of that, so talk to Jackson, talk to Ethan, talk to me.  The lady that just saved the city is going to sit down here – and no pictures.  I’m serious.  Come on folks, just ’cause there’s one officer here doesn’t mean we want photos of people who happened to be around a grocery store at midnight, do we?”

He jumped down and helped Lina back down. 

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