Home > Firefight (Reckoners #2)(2)

Firefight (Reckoners #2)(2)
Brandon Sanderson

Uh-oh …


I scrambled into the hall as the doorway exploded behind me. The blast threw me face-first into the wall, and I heard a crunch.

On one hand, I was relieved. The crunching sound meant that Prof was still alive—his Epic abilities granted me a protective field. On the other hand, an evil, angry killing machine was chasing me.

I pushed myself back from the wall and dashed down the metal hallway, which was lit by the mobile I wore strapped to my arm. Zip line, I thought, frantic. Which way? Right, I think.

“I found Prof,” Abraham’s voice said in my ear. “He’s encased in some kind of energy bubble. He looks frustrated.”

“Throw Kool-Aid on it,” I said, panting, dodging down a side hall as electric blasts ripped apart the hallway behind me. Sparks. She was furious.

“I’m aborting the mission,” Tia said. “Cody, swing down and pick up David.”

“Roger,” Cody said. A faint thumping sounded over his communication line—the sound of copter rotors.

“Tia, no!” I said, entering a room. I threw my rifle over my shoulder and grabbed a backpack full of water balloons.

“The plan is falling apart,” Tia said. “Prof is supposed to be point, David, not you. Besides, you just proved that the balloons don’t work.”

I pulled out a balloon and turned, then waited a heartbeat until electricity formed on one of the walls, announcing Sourcefield. She appeared a second later, and I hurled my balloon at her. She cursed and jumped to the side, and red splashed along the wall.

I turned and ran, shoving my way through a door into a bedroom, making for the balcony. “She’s afraid of the Kool-Aid, Tia,” I said. “My first balloon negated an energy blast. We have the weakness right.”

“She still stopped your bullet.”

True. I jumped out onto the balcony, looking up for the zip line.

It wasn’t there.

Tia cursed in my ear. “That’s what you were running for? The zip line’s two apartments over, you slontze.”

Sparks. In my defense, hallways and rooms all look very similar when everything’s made of steel.

The thumping copter was near now; Cody had almost arrived. Gritting my teeth, I leaped up onto the rail, then threw myself toward the next balcony over. I caught it by its railing, my rifle swinging over one shoulder, backpack on the other, and hauled myself up.

“David …,” Tia said.

“Primary trap point is still functioning?” I asked, climbing over a few lawn chairs that had been frozen in steel. I reached the other side of the balcony and jumped up onto the railing. “I’ll take your silence as a yes,” I said, and leaped across.

I hit hard, slamming into the steel railing of the next balcony over. I grabbed one of the bars and looked down—I was dangling twelve stories in the air. I shoved down my anxiety and, with effort, hauled myself up.

Behind me, Sourcefield peeked out onto the balcony I’d left. I had her scared. Which was good, but also bad. I needed her to be reckless for the next part of our plan. That meant provoking her, unfortunately.

I swung up onto the balcony, fished out a Kool-Aid balloon, and lobbed it in her direction. Then, without looking to see if the balloon hit, I jumped onto the railing and grabbed the zip line handle, then kicked off.

The balcony exploded.

Fortunately, the zip line was affixed to the roof, not the balcony itself, and the cable remained firm. Bits of molten metal zipped through the dark air around me as I dropped along the line, picking up speed. Turns out those things are a lot faster than they look. Skyscrapers passed me on either side in a blur. I felt like I was really falling.

I managed a shout—half panicked, half ecstatic—before everything lurched around me and I crashed into the ground, rolling on the street.

“Whoa,” I said, pushing myself up off the ground. The city spun like a lopsided top. My shoulder hurt, and although I’d heard a crunch as I hit, it hadn’t been loud. The protective field that Prof had granted me was running out. They could only take so much punishment before he had to renew them.

“David?” Tia said. “Sparks. Sourcefield cut the zip line with one of her shots. That’s why you fell at the end.”

“Balloon worked,” a new voice said over the line. Prof. He had a strong voice, rough but solid. “I’m out. Couldn’t report earlier; the energy bubble interfered with the signal.”

“Jon,” Tia said to him, “you weren’t supposed to fight her.”

“It happened,” Prof snapped. “David, you alive?”

“Kind of,” I said, stumbling to my feet and picking up the backpack, which had slipped off as I rolled. Red juice drink streamed from the bottom. “Not sure about my balloons, though. Looks like there might be a few casualties.”

Prof grunted. “Can you do this, David?”

“Yes,” I said firmly.

“Then run for the primary trap point.”

“Jon,” Tia said. “If you’re out—”

“Sourcefield ignored me,” Prof said. “It’s just like before, with Mitosis. They don’t want to fight me; they want you. We have to bring her down before she gets to the team. You remember the path, David?”

“Of course,” I said, searching for my rifle.

It lay broken nearby, cracked in half in the middle of the forestock. Sparks. Looked like I’d messed up the trigger guard too. I wouldn’t be firing that anytime soon. I checked my thigh holster and the handgun there. It seemed good. Well, as good as a handgun can be. I hate the things.

“Flashes in the windows of that apartment complex, moving down,” Cody said from the copter. “She’s teleporting along the outer wall, heading toward the ground. Chasing you, David.”

“I don’t like this,” Tia noted. “I think we should abort.”

“David thinks he can do this,” Prof said. “And I trust him.”

Despite the danger of the moment, I smiled. I hadn’t realized until joining the Reckoners just how lonely my life had been. Now, to hear words like those …

Well, it felt good. Really good.

“I’m bait,” I said over the line, positioning myself to wait for Sourcefield and searching in my backpack for unbroken balloons. I had two left. “Tia, get our troops into position.”

“Roger,” she said reluctantly.

I moved down the street. Lanterns hung from the old, useless street lamps nearby, giving me light. By it, I caught sight of some faces peeking through windows. The windows had no glass, just old-fashioned wooden shutters we’d cut and placed there.

In assassinating Steelheart, the Reckoners had basically declared all-out war on the Epics. Some people had fled Newcago, fearing retribution—but most people had stayed here, and many others had come. During the months since Steelheart’s fall, we’d almost doubled the population of Newcago.

I nodded to the people watching. I wouldn’t shoo them back to safety. We, the Reckoners, were their champions—but someday, these people would have to stand on their own against the Epics. I wanted them to watch.

“Cody, do you have a visual?” I asked into my mobile.

“No,” Cody said. “She should be coming any moment.…” The dark shadow of his copter passed overhead. Enforcement—Steelheart’s police force—was ours now. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Enforcement had done its best to kill me on several occasions. You didn’t just get over something like that.

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