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Chapter 30 – Tinker v Blinker

“Miss Murder? Kill her.”

His voice cut off, the connection clearly dropped. Suddenly, it was just the two of us again. That wasn’t as comforting as it could have been.

Had to think quick. I was fresh out of secret weapons, or weapons of any kind. I’d even taken my gloves off. My opponent could blink, and she knew more ways to kill a person than I knew people. It wasn’t a great match-up.

There was a kevlar weave in my clothing that would probably protect against most knife attacks, it was probably even bulletproof. My skin didn’t have that same advantage, and my face and neck were exposed. Far too vulnerable.

My skeleton was difficult to break, and unless she teleported me off the side of a skyscraper I doubted she could hurt me that way. Small comfort.

No super-strength or super-speed. No accelerated healing. Just me and my tough bones. Not a lot to work with.

Miss Murder was fast, I knew that much. Maybe hyperkinetic? Nothing like Zoe or Sabrina, but it felt like something

When she’d teleported me, I’d glimpsed something else about her power. It wasn’t just teleportation. She could actually deconstruct her body, turning it temporarily incorporeal. Could she use that defensively? Probably. That would make her difficult to hurt, even more difficult to contain.

Despite what I’d said, I had no intention of killing her. Cathartic as that might have been, I doubted I’d be able to live with myself. The Celestial was right. I wasn’t a killer.

What else did I know about her? As deadly as she was, she only used a knife. No guns. Her bare hands would have been just as deadly, though, had to keep that in mind. Still, if I could keep my distance, I’d be mostly safe. That’d be helpful if she wasn’t also a teleporter.

She blinked, appearing in front of me, slashing with the knife. I was fast enough to throw up my arms as I leapt away from her, and thankfully, the knife did not cut through. I had some protection, at least.

She didn’t give me more than a second’s reprieve before coming at me again, teleporting behind me, nearly catching me off guard. She was relentless, never staying in the same spot for more than a second, never attacking from the same direction twice. There was no strategy on my part keeping me alive, only reflexes.

Still, I was learning. Nothing useful, but any information could become useful in the right circumstances. If I could stay in one piece for long enough, I could find a way to use it.

There are a lot of ways teleportation is theoretically possible. Deconstruction at the molecular level, followed by reconstruction at the destination. Creating a copy at the destination and transferring consciousness, before terminating the original. Freezing time, moving from A to B before resuming it. She wasn’t doing any of that.

She grabbed me, cutting off my train of thought, and the world faded to black around me. When it snapped back, we were nearly ten metres in the air. She let go, blinking back down to the ground, letting me fall.

I hit the ground hard, landing on my hands and knees, the shock reverberating through my body, but I managed to stay in one piece, no significant damage. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the point of it. She took advantage of the temporary stunned state, dragging the blade of her knife across my throat.

Before she could get it in too deep, I let my body slump to the side, sliding off the edge of the knife. She managed to draw blood, but the wound wasn’t enough to cause any serious harm. I got lucky.

She grabbed me again, teleporting me up to about the same height as before. I felt the same distortion, confirming my suspicions from earlier. Her teleportation worked by folding two spaces in three-dimensional space together. Did she know that? Did she realised the implications of that?

I dropped again, the ground rushing up to meet me. This time, I was more prepared, and knowing what my body was capable of, I twisted, landing on my feet, my legs absorbing the impact. Before Miss Murder could assault me again, I threw myself to the side, less than a second before her knife slashed through the spot I landed.

Fuck, she was fast. Faster than I was, and blinking didn’t seem to be tiring her out at all. That actually made sense. The amount of energy required to do what she was doing would be phenomenal, way more than her body could possibly have access to. Which meant she was drawing it from somewhere else.

I wanted to know how she was doing that, more than anything, but it wasn’t the time. Even if I could figure it out, maybe even figure out how to cut her off from it, chances of me being able to do it in the middle of a fight more infinitesimal. Not a helpful line of thinking.

She teleported me again, this time directly over an antenna. I cried out as the sharp point drove into me, but it couldn’t get through my jacket. It was going to leave a killer bruise, though.

I needed a way to stop her without killing her. That was going to be difficult. I’d need to hurt her, badly, but not in a way she couldn’t recover from. Enough that she’d have to stop fighting, that she’d give up and leave. I wouldn’t be able to do that without perfect timing, and I’d need to surprise her.

She slashed at me, and I raised my arms to protect my face. As I did, I saw her body shimmer and fade to shadow, and the blade past right through my arm, solidifying again just in time to cut my cheek open, spilling blood out everywhere.

Fuck. She was smarter than I was giving her credit for. Stupid of me, I’d always known she was clever. I was going to lose if I didn’t come up with something, and fast.

Needed to be reckless. I looked around, saw a window. Good enough. I ran for it, and she didn’t try to stop me. I hurled myself through it, letting my protected shoulder take the brunt of the impact, glass shattering around me.

I landed painfully as a cascade of glass shards rained around me. Miss Murder materialised in front of me, still pristine. Not for much longer, though.

I grabbed a shard of glass large enough to be used as a knife and charged at her. The first time, she blinked away. I staggered forwards, only slightly exaggerating it.

The second time I charged, she simply turned to shadow, letting me pass through, then turned and slashing at the back of my head. It only barely missed. Fuck.

My grip on the glass was too tight, cutting through the skin on my palm. I swapped it to the other hand. The cut was deep enough that I could see the bone, or rather, the synthetic exoskeleton covering it. It stung, but I could handle a little pain.

I charged again, and just like last time, she turned to shadow. This time, I thrust my hand in, the one with the cut open palm, with a hand gesture that would normally have provided a surge of power to the glove I usually wore.

In the middle of her shadowy form, the electrical energy burst forth, spreading out, filling her. She twitched, staggering backwards, forced back into her physical form. I didn’t have long.

I kicked her, knocking her to the floor. As she hit the ground, I fell on her, using my weight to drive the shard of glass into her stomach. She convulsed, then turned to shadow, rolling away from me. The glass shard stayed behind.

She stood up, clutching her stomach, blood dripping from the open wound. It was bad, worse than I’d intended. Damn it. Still, she’d have access to top-notch medical care. She’d be fine, so long as she left in time to get it looked at.

The glare she gave me could only be described as withering, but then she vanished, teleporting away. I waited a few seconds, on the off chance she had some final sneak attack planned, then slumped to the ground, my arm twitching. That electrical surge had hurt me almost as much as it had hurt her.

My breathing was heavy, my throat hoarse, my body ached. It didn’t matter. I survived. I’d won, and next time, I’d be prepared.

Now to find out of Zoe and Sabrina had been as successful.

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