True Deception, Chapter 16

“Finally, I’ve got you cornered!” A hologram of Birsha leered over one of five men in fine suits! My anxiety went into overdrive at this sight! Not only were we outnumbered, but we had our arch enemy’s presence directly before us! And unfortunately, she was completely right- we had nowhere to run! The only way out of this dire predicament was to defeat the adversaries blocking our path, and that didn’t seem too likely since two of us had no magical powers, and the other two had a scant amount left, which rendered them nearly as incapable of contending with these goons as the rest of us! Birsha stared at Violet and I like a bird of prey ready to close in on a particularly appetizing morsel, and I did my best to put on a brave face, but somehow, I think she could see right through my façade! After a moment of savoring her perceived victory, Birsha went on, “You two have caused me enough trouble; it’ll be satisfying to watch you go!” I gave her my best scowl before turning to Violet, whose wheels were spinning fast in this instance! I sincerely hoped she could come up with a valid way for us to defend ourselves because I couldn’t come up with anything! Birsha’s attention shifted to Nicole and Jeremy, and she brusquely addressed them, “I’m surprised at you guys! Up until now, you’ve been valuable assets to my empire!”

            “Actually Boss, they’ve been real secretive lately,” the thug whose watch held her image corrected her mistaken assumption. “They’ve been doing a lot of sneaking around lately; I knew they were up to something!”

            Birsha frigidly inquired to Jeremy and Nicole, “So, you’re not happy with the lofty position I’ve given you, and you’d rather risk your careers and your lives to help a couple of dissidents wreak havoc on my realm?”

            Jeremy bravely replied to her, “This isn’t your kingdom! But your reign is coming to an end! The people you oppress aren’t gonna stand for your brutality anymore, and they’re already rising up to take you down! You don’t have much longer now, and you know it!”

            “Silence!” one of the rough men behind Birsha raised his arm and prepared to jinx Jeremy.

            “Not yet!” Birsha commanded, so he gave Jeremy a dirty look as heeded her word. “They still could be of great use to us! Let’s give them one more chance. If they value their lives, they will comply!”

            Nicole’s expression bore no hint of any desire to obey Birsha’s order, and she folded her arms as she asked her, “What did you have in mind?”

            Birsha doled out a sinister answer, “Kill them!”

            Jeremy and Nicole glanced to us in alarm, and then Nicole refused her request, “No way! We’d never do that!”

            “You have to prove your loyalty to our alliance,” Birsha coldly stated. “If you don’t do it, you’ll die with them!”

            “I’ll die if I do!” Jeremy countered. “My life force is almost tapped out, and I’m not using the last bit of my power to-!”

            One of Birsha’s cronies interrupted him, “We can remedy that!” He conjured a gun out of thin air and then made it zoom over to Jeremy, who eyeballed it like it was a grenade ready to explode.

            Eventually, Jeremy decided to pick it up, and his head hung low as he cocked it. I didn’t believe he would really go through with it, but I prepared myself to dodge his bullets if he did. Nicole’s eyes widened immensely, and she shrieked, “Jeremy, don’t!”

            “I have to!” Jeremy raised his weapon up, and for a second, my insides ached at the thought of this betrayal from someone I considered to be an ally, but then suddenly, he changed his trajectory towards Birsha’s team and…

            “Ha! It’s not loaded!” One of the associates taunted Jeremy as he tried to fire. His peers all snickered at his error, and Jeremy’s face fell as he realized the significance of this move.

            When the laughter died down, Birsha assessed, “They made their choice. Kill them all!”

            Birsha’s picture dealt us one last sneer before it disappeared. For a minute, we all stood there in silence. Slowly, the head of the pack raised his hand to initiate combat, and right as his trajectory blasted out…

            I spotted some metal trash cans out of the corner of my eye, and prior to the point where his spell could hit us, I grabbed Violet and pulled her to the ground with me! I didn’t know whether or not the soup kitchen’s receptacles contained any silver, but I figured that, at the very least, it would provide us some cover. Violet must have judged them to be the protective metal that we needed since she handed me a lid once we had recovered from our tumble, and as we shielded ourselves, we could see hexes flying in all different directions! Nicole hid behind a dumpster on the other side of the alley, and as she wracked her brain on what to do, we saw that Jeremy was firing magic right back at them! It horrified me at first, but then I reasoned that he must have had more life force than he previously projected. I altered my focus in aiming my cover so that their projectiles bounced back to them, and the ones that landed on their torsos got redirected to our way again! They were obviously wearing silver mail underneath their clothes, so I aimed my lid so that it would nail my target in the head. It was successful! Violet took one of them down this way too, and Jeremy got one as well as he continued to effectively guard Nicole. For a brief stretch, I dared to let optimism of our impending win fill my senses, but then…

            Jeremy fell to the floor writhing in pain! My heart dropped completely as we watched him clutching his chest, and it sickened me to see the two remaining guerillas delighting in his demise! Those pricks averted their intentions to finishing him off, and when Violet and I rose up to protect him from these attacks, they fired rounds out at us and forced us to stay in our place! We helplessly witnessed Jeremy struggling to roll around and avoid their impact, and just when we feared we might lose him…

            Nicole summoned all of her strength and pushed the dumpster towards those snakes! She successfully pinned down one of them, and while the other one got distracted by this abruptness, I flung my lid at his skull! My pitch didn’t know him out, but I managed to give poor Jeremy a break from their wrath! I grabbed another cover to dispense that blow again, but he eked out another spell, so we ducked behind the garbage bins again. He advanced towards us, and we were prepared to ambush him…

            The ringleader of that gang unceremoniously collapsed to the concrete in the exact instance that two police officers ran into the alley and yelled, “Freeze!”

            “They attacked me!” the wretch on the cement pathetically wailed. “All we wanted to do was volunteer, and they got us! They got us all!”

            “That’s… That’s not…!” Jeremy attempted to argue against the accusations that this scoundrel cast out, but he hardly had the energy to even open his mouth! From between the cracks of the bins that Violet and I hid behind, we could see him struggling to stay conscious, and I dearly hoped that the two officers would send an ambulance over here immediately so they could get him medical treatment before it was too late!

            To my dismay, the police’s eyes darted between the gun on the pavement and the weapon’s proximity to Nicole’s position, and their conclusion was fairly obvious! Nicole fretfully defended herself, “This isn’t what it looks like! We-!”

            One officer barked, “Hands behind your back!”

            “No!” Jeremy feebly uttered out. “She…!”

            “It’s fine,” Nicole assured him. “I’ll have my day in court, and I intend to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!”

            She glared at the miscreant on the alleyway floor, who let a snivel that sounded so wimpy that the other policeman felt compelled to check on him. “Are you alright, sir?”

            He moaned, “I’ll be okay, but my friends won’t be! They’re all gone, aren’t they?”

            The three dirtbags who had got impacted by deadly hexes had been reduced to a pile of dust, but the one crook that Nicole bludgeoned had simply gotten incapacitated. The officer who had attended to the weasel on the ground went over to the man’s accomplice and used his fingers to test for a pulse. “Dispatch, this is Sergeant Dallan. We’re gonna need an ambulance at-.”

            “Two ambulances!” Nicole indicated to Jeremy, who remained floored and in a great deal of agony.

            “Yes, two ambulances,” Sergeant Dallan at last acknowledged. “And a crime scene team too. Please be advised that the alley is too narrow for our vehicles to land. Oh, and we have one ready for transport.”

            That reprobate bolted straight up upon hearing that last part. “One? There should be three going to jail!”

            The policewoman who held Nicole queried, “What do you mean? There’s three sets of remains, two injured parties, and you. Who else-?”

            “There’s two more people who were here!” he insisted. “They must be hiding behind the trash cans! You need to get them! They’re wanted felons, they need to be captured!”

            “Okay, okay!” Sergeant Dallan seemed a little thrown off by the venom that abruptly appeared in his vocabulary, but it didn’t dissuade him from investigating his claim. He drew out his firearm, pointed it at the garbage containers, and directed, “If anyone’s hiding behind those refuse bins, you need to come out with your hands up now!” Neither Violet nor I had any inclination to obey this order, but we were more cornered than ever now! We couldn’t budge an inch without giving away our presence, and yet if we were to remain in this stance, it would be inevitable that we would get caught! “This is your second warning! If we find you back there, you will pay the consequences!” I could sense Violet gearing up to use her powers against him, which filled me with dread! It anguished me to envision her depleting the last iota of the life force within her and succumbing to the fate that Jeremy was presently enduring! “You have until the count of three, and then I’m coming in! One…” I beseeched the universe to send us any alternative than the two terrible options that we had on our plate prior to our short time running out! “Two…” No solution got offered, so this was it! I anticipated absolute doom to rain down on us…

            Sergeant Dallan never got to three! Jeremy pointed his palms in our direction, and a tremendous force collided into Violet and me! We got enveloped in an electric cloud as we momentarily hovered in this air! We caught a glimpse of the two officers and Nicole’s shocked visages in addition to the hoodlum’s distraught over what he assumed was a loss for himself, and while the latter was certainly satisfying to see, I grew numb when I beheld Jeremy lying motionless on the surface underneath us! I ached to inspect his well-being, but in the blink of an eye, we got sucked into what felt like a whirlpool behind us, and the alleyway disappeared from our vision!

            Violet and I zipped through what I could only guess was the clouds, and as we zigzagged through this strange atmosphere, I wondered if Jeremy had killed us in merciful way to spare us from the torture that Sergeant Dallan would have administered on Violet and me or if he had intended to transport us somewhere on Earth. If he had meant to cast us away from there, there, then where were we going? I sincerely longed for this experience to come to a halt, but I flinched at the thought of what outcome we would have to go through once we did! Would it hurt? Would we discover ourselves somewhere safe or not? Would we meet someone waiting for us on the other side? I had so many questions that I needed answers to, but simultaneously, I also didn’t want to know any of it! Our movements arbitrarily stopped, and I mentally readied myself for the worst…

            We landed on a hard terrain, and for a minute, all I could do was reorient myself! I waited for the world to quit spinning, and I inwardly mandated my organs not to allow my body to vomit! The scenery ultimately settled down, and my queasiness began to somewhat subside. I craned my neck up a little, and I espied Violet next to me as her skin started to lose its greenish tinge. She sounded pretty strained as she relayed to me, “We made it!”

            “Made it where?” I retorted as I attempted to accumulate the fortitude to pick myself up.

            “No idea!” Violet let out a groan as she lifted herself up into a sitting position. “But we’re still alive, which is more than I can say for Jeremy!”

            A lump rose up in my throat after that assessment. “Do you think… Are you sure that…?”

            Violet glumly proclaimed, “A spell that potent takes a lot of power. I seriously doubt he would have any life force left after that!”

            “Oh no!” I bemoaned as I say myself up. That effort nearly took my breath away, so I gave myself a period to recover so that I could stand up as soon as possible. As I reflected on Jeremy’s noble deed, I asserted, “He gave up his life to send us here! It must be important then! So, where could he have-?”

            “Who’s there?” a mysterious male’s voice called out to us…

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