That bitch’s paralyzing-whatever-shriek had nothing on Boris’s punishments, where you had to stand as fast as lightning after being flogged, or else you’d just get flogged again. Kai was up and running by the time Hillary’s cry had ended. He latched a hand onto the short wall outlining the roof’s edge and used his momentum to fling his legs out into the space. He swung down, catching himself on a window ledge, then jumped again and landed on his feet.
The white girl broke off mid-note with an ‘eep!’ from her position huddled behind an A/C unit. Before she could so much as breathe he had her head under his arm and her other arm twisted back behind her back.
“Thought I would let it slide if you fixed up some scratches, eh?” He tugged on the arm, making her yip with pain before pulling her along by her captured head out of the alley and to the chaos which had become the front of the coffee shop. He nearly got bowled over by the fleeing veranda sitters. Luckily, even when panicked, his glare had a way of getting others to avoid him.
The girl didn’t fight him. He didn’t think she dared.
He stopped where Kenny and Hillary crouched over a kneeling Ray. Drigger wobbled a few feet in front of him.
“Ray? Ray! Come on, speak to me!”
Kai gracelessly flung the girl besides Ray. She didn’t quite manage to get her other arm around her in time to catch her and stumbled into Hillary, who yelped in surprise.
“What the—Kai!” She righted herself and the buggy clothed assailant. “Oh my gosh, are you—”
She stopped mid-sentence as Kai whipped out what could only be a heavy duty zip-tie and yanked the girl’s hands about her. Kenny somehow found his voice at this point.
“What in the world are you doing?”
Kai didn’t respond. He just pinched her wrists together with one hand and tugged the zip-tie close with practiced fingers. Once more, she didn’t fight him, nor did she raise her head.
“You brought your car, Hillary?” he asked. Maybe she’d actually be useful in all of this.
“So you can truss back a tied up girl, like hell!”
“If you’d just wait a moment before getting violent—”
“Chief,” said Kai in that tone he knew his team always obeyed. “I need you to take her picture and do a search.” Kai was already searching her pockets, but so far he already figured there wouldn’t be anything in there.
“Ray’s not gone!”
Kai froze. So did Hillary. Just as the two turned their attention to him to stare, Ray groaned and shook his head.
“Ugh, my ears…my head…”
Kai snapped his eyes to the wobbling, but still spinning Beyblade in the street. Now that he was taking a closer look at the blade, there was barely any yellow in the middle, which there would have been if the blades bit had gone blank.
“I think she’s done something to him because he still won’t respond to us, but he’s still here!” said Kenny, his hands wrapped tight on Ray’s shoulder and arm.
And almost as though to prove what he said, Ray mumbled, “Chief, you’re hurting me. Wha-what’s going on?”
“I just meant to stun him, make it seem like I took his soul,” said the girl, so quietly she could hardly be heard above the sudden blare of distant sirens. “I just—I just vibrated his bones a bit. I-I did it once before and the guy recovered after a few minutes, though the ears—the ear bones are so small and work off of vibration—”
Hillary gasped. “You made him deaf?!”
“No!” she cried. “No, no! I mean—at least I don’t think—no!”
Kai finished checking her baggy, ratty cargo pant pockets and stood. Despite the relief that that prickled along his back, the cold hard plate that had fallen into place the moment he heard Hillary scream didn’t leave. It wasn’t over yet.
“We need to get out of here,” he said, tugging the girl to his feet. “Cops are coming.”
Kenny blanched. “The cops?!”
He looked at Hillary. “Car.”
“Cut her loose first,” she said, fisting her hands onto her hips as she always did whenever she became immovable.
Grunting in irritation, he yanked out his pocket knife and slid the blade between her wrists. He was just a bit too careless and grazed a bit of the skin before he pushed her into Hillary.
“We need her to get the others’ souls out,” he said, just in case Kenny had missed that part, and he had to speed things up. “Now move!” He snatched up Drigger, then grabbed Ray’s arm and yanked his belligerent friend up to his feet.
Kai just about never yelled at Hillary or Kenny, and his reward for his restraint was their flinching into action. Holding tight to the girl’s wrist, Hillary pulled her across the street to where her old coupe clunker of a car waited. Kenny didn’t even wait for Kai to pull back the passenger seat in order to wriggle in, he just scrambled over the center console and landed with a thump against the seat. Hillary was a bit more patient as she pulled back the driver’s seat one handed and ushered the girl in.
“I’m sorry about this,” she said.
Kai had already handed in a very confused and dazed Ray besides Kenny and sat himself in the passenger seat. The sirens were getting louder. “Hillary!”
“Gah!” She finally dropped into the driver’s seat and closed her door. She shoved the key in and the old car started with a choke and grumble. “I can only move so fast. You don’t have to be an asshole about it.”
But they were moving, and that’s what mattered. Kai glanced into the rearview mirror at the crowded back seat.
“Chief, how’s Ray?”
Poor, rattled Kenny sort of flopped about before registering which of the two people he was squashed between Kai was asking about. He waved his hand in front of Ray’s face, catching his attention.
“Can you hear me, Ray?”
Kai watched as Ray slowly blinked, a hand to his head. Then he swore. “What’s wrong with my ears?!”
“Jeeze! Can we please not yell in the car?” shouted Hillary.
“I don’t think he could hear you,” started Kenny, but was interrupted half way through by Ray once more demanding what had happened to his ears in an ever higher pitched voice.
“Could you have thought of any better way to be helpful besides breaking him?” asked Kai, turning his head around to glare at the frumpy, hooded girl. She cringed even further back into the corner.
“I-I-I can o-only do so many things, it was the only thing I could—they might just taking a bit longer to recover, but-”
Ray had gotten a hold of Kenny, still oblivious to how loud his voice was. “Chief! Chief, why can’t I hear you? Am I crazy? This has to be a bad dream!”
Kai let out a quick sigh from his nose and whapped Ray on the knee. “Calm. Down.” He said, slowly in hopes Ray could catch the words as he mouthed them.
“Ok, is someone going to tell me where we’re going?” asked Hillary.
Kai broke across Kenny. “Take a left after the next light, then go back south until I tell you to turn.”
“What’s wrong with the dojo?” asked Kenny. “We-we’re not l-like on the run or-or something-!”
“The trouble with the cops will be minimal, but still a waste of time,” like explaining these things to you, Kai thought. “We’re going to need some time to plan our next move. So,” he looked back to the girl and clicked his fingers to get her attention, as she had gone to hiding her face against her shoulder. “Where are the orbs with Dragoon and Draciel?”
“I-I can take you there. It’s just a house—”
“Will you release the bit beasts and our friend’s souls? Can you?”
“Of course!” she squeaked, meeting his eye with something like alarm. “I really meant it when I said I meant no harm, but you need to start heading there now, because—”
She broke off with a sudden yelp and once more crumpled in on herself. Hillary jumped and the car swerved with a squeal of tires before she righted herself.
“Really!” she cried. “Enough with the yelling!”
“I think she’s in pain!” said Kenny, who had pulled away from the girl and seemed reluctant to touch her, even though that was unavoidable in close quarters. “Wait, can you guys hear that?”
How Kenny heard anything at all over the road noise of Hillary’s cheap car was astounding. “What’s wrong with her?”
Kenny tried pulling back her arms, but the moment he touched her the girl started to twitch and spasm, choking on her attempts to scream. Hillary made the turn at the light and the girl tipped over onto Kenny, who also yelped and jumped back onto a startled Ray.
“She shocked me—oh my god, she’s being electrocuted!”
“Then figure out how!” barked Kai.
“Shut up all of you!” shouted Hillary. “Or we’ll all crash and die!”
Kenny had fumbled into movement at Kai’s command. His hands shook as he pulled down the girl’s hood, revealing a large messy knot of curling white hair. Kai noticed the edge of the thick, plastic collar right as Kenny did.
“Here!” he practically threw his pocket knife at Kenny. It bounced between his hands before he got a good grip on it and went to flick it out, crying for Hillary to pull over just as he gave another shout.
“I can’t touch her!” he wailed. “Kai, I can’t—my muscles, they—the shock—”
The moment Hillary’s tires screeched to a halt in an abandoned parking lot, Kai was out and over the car. He threw open her door and Hillary got out of the way. Kai leaned in, swiped the knife from Kenny, and reached for the spasming girl who now had pink foam trickling out of the side of her mouth. Her eyes had rolled up into the back of her head.
The pain came instantly. He clamped his hand in the curve of her shoulder and his muscles locked up and buckled at once, but he forced them straight. He ignored the pain, felt it like punches and flecks of metal, wedged his blade beneath the collar and pulled.
He always kept his knife sharp enough to cut falling tissue paper. Still, it snapped off surprisingly easy.
Unbuckling his cramped up, burning fingers, he flung the collar onto Kenny’s lapped and grabbed her under the armpits to pull her out. Hillary fluttered about like a midwife readying to catch the baby, and as the girl slipped out she took hold of her head and cushioned it with her hands as he spread her out on the asphalt. Kai held his breath as he put his cheek to her mouth and his fingers to her wrist.
Sure enough, her lungs and heart had seized up.