Cora put her arms around me. Even though I’d lost most of my shapeshifting when my powers changed, I still kept some abilities. Abilities my sister now had, alongside the power to know how to fight and kill anything. How long until she points that power at me?
“Cecelia, we should go.” She was still new; she didn’t realize she no longer needed to be afraid of anything. “They’re scary and my power says we can’t beat them. We need to leave the city.”
My fate-sense agreed with her. Nine out of ten possible choices led to our deaths, usually at the hands of the werewolves or the super creepy Esper. It was like navigating a hurricane while trying keep a candle from going out. Still, the call of Fate drew me forward. “This is Fate, Cora. You can sense the dance, can’t you?”
“Sort of.” She clenched a little harder, trembling, but it was fading as she dipped into her power. “It’s not as clear for me, you know that.”
My one advantage over you, Sister. “That’s because you’re not looking hard enough. You’re too caught up in what you see, try looking for what you don’t see.” I pointed at the glowing girl in the sky, hoping from one building to the next, and the steel covered man she carried. “What don’t you see?”
She looked, dipping into the strings of chance and possibility. Her power was so elegant and beautiful in its singular purpose. I was getting turned on just from watching. “I don’t see anything. There’s no way for us to win that fight.”
Disappointment cooled my excitement. She found half the answer I wanted. “I don’t see anything, either.” It wasn’t the girl that stood out, despite her glow, but the man she carried. The calm in the midst of the storm, his bladed armor slicing the threads of Fate with the same ease it could human flesh. “He’s invisible to Fate.”
“Is that even possible?” Cora tugged my arm.
“No, nothing escapes Fate. That’s why we have to face them. It is its own form of Fate.” It wasn’t just that the boy had power, he had a power that should have been impossible. “He’s my mirror, you see. I craft my flesh, he crafts steel. I dance with Fate, and he defies it entirely.” He offends me. He has a power over me like no one since… “You see it as clearly as I do, right?” There is no world in which both of us are allowed to exist. “It’s our Destiny to fight each other.”
“But you might die.” Cora bit the back of my neck. “Wouldn’t it be more fun to just leave and let them search for us forever? We could watch and laugh from Canada. I don’t want you to die.”
The idea was tempting, but the idea of letting that boy survive was intolerable. I preferred death to allowing him to live in the same world as I. “Alone I probably would, but with you-” I could hear the hammering of her heart. “We’re sisters forever, not even death can separate us.” Her heart calmed, and knew her answer before she spoke.
“Okay. If it gets bad, my power says we can still outrun them.”
Not an option, not while he lives. “I can get us to them without a problem.” He might have been invisible, but the girl was nothing special. I followed the strings as best I could, brief glimpses at a time. I didn’t have the power to alter them or create new possible futures the way my power’s prior owner did. All I could do was grab hold of a path follow until I reached the destination.
If Cora ever learned how pathetic this new power was, how little it did, she might leave me. I was weaker now than before, and my sister so much stronger. At least her new power could do something. My only real advantage as being able to see where others twisted the threads of Fate to their own ends. Except that boy.
It took us the better part of an hour, ducking through alleys and taking advantage of our speed. They knew we were shapeshifters, so they relied on Espers and Trackers. They hoped to take away our mobility, and so staying mobile was our best weapon.
The targets went into a parking garage through one of… whatever those openings parking garages used were called. Much as I loathed to admit I didn’t already know, I looked at Cora and asked the question. “Did they realize we’re following them?”
“I think they’re taking a break to have some fun.” Cora’s voice trembled a bit. Paths bloomed where Cora and I could have some fun of our own; she always was a voyeur. “And now that we’re closer, I think the guy was hurt before. Sorta like what I saw from Starfall. It’s weird, I don’t know where it comes from.”
Like Starfall? Is it damage caused by twisting Fate? Still, I can use that. Just knowing he could be wounded made me feel a thousand times better. “You’re the best, sis.” I trailed a hand up between her thighs. “Let’s get closer.” I hoped that after we dealt with the boy whose power defied Fate, I’d have some fun with his girlfriend. I wouldn’t allow him to live long enough for Cora to enjoy.
They were holding each other when we got up the stairs. Both still clothed, but it they weren’t the first supers to do it with their costumes on. It quickly became clear they weren’t going to do more than just hold each other, however. I picked that moment to step out.
“Running off to have a quicky in the middle of a mission?” They jumped, turning toward us. Violent, bloody paths opened up from the girl. She hates us. We can use that, too. “Got room for two more?”
“C- Daybreak! Stop!” The boy shouted, but the girl was already rushing us, sword drawn.
She screamed something, but the crackle of energy made her voice impossible to understand. I dipped away, pushing my power into speed. It was easy to avoid her attacks; she was all power, no finesse. Each path was simple to grab, every move easy to predict. The frustration was there was no way to hit her back. She is stronger than us.
“You can fight her alone,” I said to Cora. She couldn’t win, but she wouldn’t lose either. Pushing more power into my legs, I dived under one of the girl’s amateurish attacks and right for the steel covered boy.
Where she was unskilled and stupid, he was just slow. Faster than anyone in hundreds of pounds of metal should have been, but both human and injured. Against me, he may as well have been a statue.
I kicked him in the neck, since it was the most likely place to be vulnerable. My foot collided not with joints and mesh, or even liquid metal, but with solid, unbending steel. Spines sprouted under my foot, but I was already rolling away. I jumped forward again, pretending to aim a claw for his genitals. In predictable male fashion, blades formed to protect him there, but that left him vulnerable to the claws on my toes.
I kicked right under his armpit, and my enhanced hearing caught the crunch of shattered bone. Unfortunately, it was my bones. Pain exploded from my foot before I turned it off. Cutting off my sense of pain meant I was slower than I should have been. Against anyone else, it would be a problem, but metal-boy wasn’t good enough to take advantage.
I flipped backwards on my hands, only to have to jump sideways when he swung a ten foot long saber at me. Sparks flew where the blade hit the concrete. I sensed it coming through enhanced hearing, rather than my new power.
I can beat him, I’m smarter and stronger and more skilled and better in every way, but he’s impossible to hurt. “It’s not fair!” It wasn’t until I heard my voice echo through the garage that I realized I’d said it out loud.
“Welcome to life.” Metal-boy’s words were joined with another slash of his weapon, which had shifted to be something closer to a spiked bat. It was easy to avoid, but the second blade that popped out of his left hand almost caught my shoulder. “Hold still. It won’t. Be your problem. Anymore.”
His breathing was pained. If I keep this up, maybe he’ll do me a favor and pass out from earlier injuries. I can kill him then, while he’s vulnerable, just like… “No!”
I launched forward, attacking with instinct and speed, too close for him to use those weapons of his. I had to have hit him a dozen times, but every one was stopped by his armor.
There are no flaws, no weaknesses. I don’t have the power to get through, and my senses aren’t giving me a path to victory. I jumped back, sparing a glance at Cora. She wasn’t having much better luck than I was. The girl had a weakness, a limit to how much damage her shield could take. But Cora and I didn’t have the power to get break through.
We’re not good enough. We killed Him, and we’re still not good enough! I felt the pressure around me, of storm of power waiting for me, and all I had to do was open the gates.
“Cecelia, what are you doing?” I barely noticed Cora’s voice, or metal-boy’s attacks; I could evade those in my sleep. I needed a power that could get through this metal, and hurt the man underneath. I needed a way to hurt him, or at least hold him in place long enough to break him.
I will not let them win, I will not allow myself be weak. “I am not a coward.” I broke the dam, allowing myself to be swallowed in my power, no matter what it cost me.
The threads changed, dancing in chaos as I defied Fate’s will, and it selected the punishment for my hubris. I would pay for what I did, it was inevitable, but it would not happen today.
Orange light danced across my fingertips. Fate roiled in confusion as my new power and punishment locked in place; Cora had followed my lead.
Hopefully this time her power isn’t better than mine.
I jumped forward, and where I struck the metal, orange lightning danced across his armor only to vanish into the ground. I have electricity attacks.
It was a solution, at least. I was faster, too, my muscles answering to thought-generated electricity rather than waiting for signals from my brain. I could be stronger, if I wanted, but using that strength would destroy my body.
Cora went after her target while I tore into mine. Purple light radiated around her, creating flecks of ice on her body. Armor plates of frozen water protected her, and now I could see Cora’s power was again stronger than my own.
My lightning only slowed the boy down. Electricity always took the easy route, and metal is easier than human bodies, so the energy was going around instead of through him. My power was normal energy, and energy could be controlled.
Meanwhile, my sister’s power drained all heat from what she touched. If she used it on the boy, it would cut through his armor like he was naked. Against the girl with her forcefield, it would take longer, but it would get through her defense in a few minutes.
The girl screamed, dropping to the ground and holding her leg. Or it could take seconds. My Fate-threads were confused; it never should have been that quick. Cora’s combat senses are stronger than they were, she found a weak spot to strike.
She is so much stronger than I am, now.
I screamed as I hit the boy with everything I could. My maximum power, whatever that measured out to be, poured into his metal. He stumbled, but was still not harmed by the attack. Why can’t I hurt him?! I paid the price, I’m supposed to be strong enough now! That’s how it works! Then I felt the flow of his metal infused with my electricity.
I smiled, while my fingers sank into the metal. I could feel his panic and fear as I peeled away the armor, shaped it with my power. That’s how I can beat him. My power was less obvious than Cora’s but it gave me what I needed. I thanked the source of my powers as I felt into the very mind of the boy. I could claim my victory with a simple pulse to stop his heart, but that was not what I craved.
My hands full of the boy’s liquid metal, I yanked back, extracting a beautiful spear of solid steel. Its liquid state lost now that it no longer touched the rest of his metal. So that’s his weakness, he’s limited to touch range.
So am I, but I have ways around that. I raised the spear even while pumping electricity into it. Fear radiated from the boy. He thinks I’m going to kill him. And I will, but not yet.
I turned to face the girl, now struggling to fend off Cora. One leg was useless, her sword nearly frozen, and barely enough power left to stay in the air. She wouldn’t last much longer with or without me, but the kill had to be mine. The boy panicked, realizing what I was about to do. I followed the threads of Fate, allowing me to throw the spear with perfect skill and accuracy. Either the electricity would cook her, or she’d live long enough for the metal to pierce her heart-
Oh god! What have I done!?
The threads of Fate danced around the girl, highlighting her beauty and her death. She’s dead. She’s going to die. I killed her. I didn’t even register the blade that stabbed through my side; the physical pain meant nothing to the emotional.
I reached out at the spear that left my fingertips somewhere between an instant and an eternity ago. I can’t stop it. I can’t save her. Please, if there’s anything resembling a God out there, don’t let her die.
Through my tears, I watched the spear explode into the liquid metal I pulled it from. How? The strands of fate retreated, reshaping themselves as they tried to answer the impossible. Before they could decide, the electricity charged metal splashed all over the girl.
The garage exploded with all the fury of the most powerful lightning strikes. My eardrums exploded, and I only stopped moving because I slammed into a concrete pillar hard enough to break most of the bones in my body.
I pieced myself back together, healing my ears and eyes before focusing on the rest of my injuries. Cora, too, was busy healing. I could see the girl, wounded but alive. Instead of cooking her like that much electricity should have, it restored her shield to full strength and beyond. I never felt such relief before in my life.
I rushed toward Cora, putting my hand on her shoulder. “We’re running.”
She looked at me. “But, they’re vulnerable, we-”
“No!” I couldn’t allow them to die, not now. I sought a believable excuse. “Everyone in the city heard that explosion! We need to run!”
Cora nodded. She followed me out of the parking garage window. A five story fall was nothing either of us had to fear. It was painful, but only ten seconds of healing and we were running faster than any human, or most wild animals, could ever hope to move.
“Cecelia? What’s wrong? You feel scared.”
Scared? Is that what I’m feeling? No, I’m not scared, I can’t be. “Just rattled is all. We’ll be back for them after I figure out what happened.”
“Okay, I’m just worried is all.”
I smiled; she was sweet in a crybaby sort of way. “Don’t worry about me. I’m the older sister. I protect you, remember?” Even if you’re stronger than me now.
“Right.” I wasn’t sure if she was telling the truth, or using her power to fake it. My senses weren’t good enough to tell, anymore.
Around us, the sound of yipping and howls started.
I pushed electricity into my fingertips. “Besides, I don’t think our fun’s done for the night.” I shivered as Cora’s power dropped the temperature around us to well below freezing.