Page 5

“This just got interesting,” Milo said, and Silas grimaced at his tablet. Twelve 911 calls had just gone out, not one of the agents-in-training on site thinking to block them. Even as he watched, three more flashed up. They had five, maybe six minutes. Going to jail would get them a failing grade as well.

“Give me the box and we all get out of here!” Beth shouted, and Karen pushed out from the cowering people. Heidi had reached the door and was working on the lock. She was small and clever, and Silas began to wonder if the all-woman team would make it out.

“As if,” Karen snarled, and then more screaming as she shot at Beth from across the dance floor, scoring on her legs. Beth dropped, paralyzed from the knees down.

The music cut off, and then Allen was on Karen, knocking her out with a front kick. “You kicked her?” Heidi exclaimed, outraged as Allen’s hand rose with the chocolate.

“Summer!” he shouted, throwing it as Heidi slammed a roundhouse into his arm. The chocolate went spinning, and Beth, still somewhat functioning in her half-paralyzed slick-suit, crawled across the dance floor after it, groaning when Summer reached it first.

“Circle out, Allen!” Summer called, but Allen was down, having taken a light beam right to the chest. Pissed, she pointed at Heidi, then at Karen. Ripping open the box of chocolate, she jammed the four pieces in her mouth as she went to help Allen.

Outraged and red-faced, Karen began firing. Summer dove for the protection of the tables, her slick-suit on her right leg going white as she was nicked by a beam. “That’s not fair!” Karen shouted, and Silas rose, his hands spread wide in helplessness as he stood before the monitors, not believing the chaos.

But the thunderous boom of a rifle in close quarters brought Karen up short.

Silas froze, scanning the monitors. A bouncer had gotten to the gun cabinet, a smoking rifle in his hand and bits of ceiling still falling down at his feet.

“No one move!” echoed through the walls, the sound of someone crying suddenly obvious.

“Shit.” Swallowing his gum, Silas bolted to the door, only to be yanked back by Milo’s hand encircling his bicep.

“Sit down.”

“That’s a real gun!” Silas pointed into the club, and Milo flicked his coat aside.

“So is this one,” he said, showing a Glock. “Sit,” he said again. “They should’ve planned for this. Let it play. If they can’t get out of this, they deserve to fail.”

“Fail! What about dying?”

But Milo shook his head in warning, his thin lips pulled back in a sneer. “Sit. Down.”

The dangerous gleam in the professor’s eye was a grim reminder that every one of their instructors had once been an active agent. Silas sat, his big hands clenched. Milo’s assistant was wide-eyed but useless. Summer was out there, her leg paralyzed by his technology. His eyes shifted to his tablet.

The sudden wail of sirens pulled Professor Milo’s attention away, and Silas lunged, toggling the slick-suits’ paralyzation off in one swipe.

“You stupid man!” Milo shouted, and then Silas reeled, his ears ringing when Milo smacked him.

“This isn’t a game!” Silas roared, and he rose in fear when another shot rang out, then another. Beth screamed in pain, then Ethan in anger. Both their data streams spiked.

“Summer!” Silas went for the door, but was brought down as Milo grabbed him about the knees. Silas hit the floor hard, stunned, when another shot rang out. Summer’s cry of outrage cut through him, stopping his heart. Someone else had been shot. Allen or Summer?

“No one shoots my partner!” Summer shouted.

It’s not her.

And then his tablet came alive when someone grabbed ahold of time and yanked it firmly backward.

Silas breathed in blue sparkles, watching the incoming data flow across the screen as it gathered information about the shifting localized gravity, Doppler particles, and the minute shift of light that defined a drafter’s reach. Ethan could draft more than a minute into the past, but he could only physically affect a circular block. Heidi had never exceeded ten seconds, but her reach was a breathtaking mile across. This one had the tight wavelength of Summer, and he suddenly found himself back at the desk instead of flat on the floor.

Milo was bright-eyed with threat. “Think about this, Silas,” he intoned, the retired agent able to recognize the draft as easily as he.

“Every day of my life,” Silas said, and with no more thought, he rabbit-punched the professor.

The man dropped like a stone. Silas turned, again shutting down the slick-suits’ paralyzation. They’d gone back twenty seconds, but every one of them would remember what had happened until time caught up and the drafters forgot. They wouldn’t get shot again.

Suit coat furling, Silas bolted out of the small back room. The smell of spent gunpowder hit him and he recoiled. Allen was standing in the middle of the dance floor, hands raised, as the bouncer aimed the rifle at him, muzzle shaking.

“It’s okay,” Allen said calmly, and Silas exhaled in relief. Summer was safe behind Allen. Ethan and Beth were to one side, Heidi and Karen to the other, protecting the cowering people by the back door. “We’re all okay. Stand down. It was just a little game.”

But the gun went off. Shocked, the bouncer dropped the rifle, shouting, “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it!”

Allen fell. Behind him, Summer jerked at the sudden warmth spraying her, her eyes wide in horror as Allen hit the floor with the sodden sound of a wet bag.

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