I take a deep breath, pull myself to my feet, and step outside the universe.
That's the moment when pretty much everything goes wrong.
One of the Target's guards jerks as if shocked, her body twisting in my erstwhile direction, gun already raised.
She points the barrel towards exactly where I would have been had I not warped just half a second earlier. All eyes turn to her, weapons suddenly at the ready.
From my space within the void, I swear.
'Well, there goes the element of surprise. Why'd they have to bring a power sensor?'
Fine. I'll just have to kill her first. I reorient my re-entry point.
A quick in and out. Cut her throat, then leave.
It's just as I try to step back in that David catches fire. Literally. His whole body, on fire. It lights up the whole place, the boundaries of the shadows pushing back some sixty, seventy feet.
I step back into the world at least fifty feet from the woman I meant to kill.
Then she aims her gun at me.
"I can ex-"
She pulls the trigger.
I jerk out of the way by reflex, my eyes squeezing shut as I wait for the agony to bloom in my chest. Nothing comes.
'Did I just dodge a bullet?'
I glance at the wall behind me.
'I just dodged a fucking bullet.'
I look back towards the crowd, and that's when David's haymaker cracks me in the jaw.
David's a big guy. I'm kinda not. I'm pretty sure even a regular haymaker from him would lay me out pretty good; but then there's the fact that he's wearing a super suit.
My body impacts against a door a short way away from him. It must have been a hell of a punch, because the impact causes the frame to shatter off its hinges.
I land in a sprawl in the lobby of some random ass apartment complex, half aware that he's already coming after me. My jaw aches.
With a small groan, I push myself to the side, into the shadows that David's fire are casting through the open doorway, and pull myself back into the void.
'Okay. Lesson learned.' I think to myself, massaging my jaw as I watch my erstwhile sexual partner barrel through the doorway. 'He's basically my kryptonite. Stay the hell away.'
Easy enough to do.
David's light has pushed my boundaries back outside the building, forcing me out into the area surrounding the target.
Come to think of it, this might actually be good. I have some distance from David now. If I act fast-
I step back into reality a bare three feet from the power sensor.
She swings around to bring her gun to bear on me, and it's slow. Really slow; like someone put a cooldown order on time itself.
I raise one of my knives to block her, and watch, slightly stunned, as my blade slices through the gun-barrel like butter.
I can work with this.
No need to kill her, now. She has another weapon at her hip. I slice that one in half, too. She moves to strike me, but I'm already gone.
I step towards the Target. He's close now. Only twenty feet, at most. But the power sensor wasn't the only one with a gun. There are more of them now; his other guard. People in the crowd.
I step under the first few shots, sidestep a third, and maybe get just a little overconfident in trying to parry the fourth bullet with a knife.
The attempt earns me a searing pain as it grazes across my right shoulder. I wince.
'This would be so much easier with a shield.'
I feel the handle in my left hand shift. I catch a glimpse of a small, medieval-style buckler sitting in my grip. I bat the next bullet out of the air with a sigh.
'No. I need something bigger. A riot shield.'
I hear a yell from somewhere far behind me as I use the shield to simply stride through the hail of bullets. David's voice. I can see the light growing brighter on the floor around me.
I should really hurry.
I reach the target, moving the shield to cut him and myself off from the majority of the crowd, and mumble an apology as I ready my knife.
He has a hand at his wrist, a finger pressing a button on a watch a lot like mine.
I move to stab.
There is a pulse.
My hand impacts against my target's chest in a pathetic sort of punch.
I have half a second to wonder where my knife went, before the back of his hand connects with my cheek, sending me sprawling.
"Don't shoot," The target murmurs. "I was hoping to get a wave-suit for my work. I'd rather no one caused it any harm."
The inside of my cheek is bleeding. Something tore a hole in the mask's mouth section. Who turned off my bullet time?
I push myself upright, stumbling slightly as I find my feet. It's a shame, really. Even after over a decade's worth of training, I can barely take a hit.
'Then again,' says a wry voice inside my head. 'The point of the training was so I wouldn't have to.'
Hovis raises his fists, an eager grin on his face.
'Great. Another fist fight with someone twice my size. Story of my life.'
He comes at me with a boxer's stance, throwing a pair of quick jabs at my face with his fists.
I sway to the side, duck behind him, and drive my foot up between his legs with all the force my smaller form can muster.
Every gonad possessing being within sight shares a collective wince. The Target buckles. I catch a glimpse of David charging across the space between us, no longer on fire.
I guess his suit must have lost power too. Then, I note several of the people around me raising their guns.
I throw myself down on top of Mr. Hovis. No one fires. Well, that's one problem solved. Now I'm just stuck in a grapple with a man significantly stronger than me.
A man I also just kicked in the balls.
It doesn't last long. I might be nimble, and he might still be moving stiffly from the pain, but he's still stronger, larger, and heavier than me. In just a couple seconds, he has me pinned.
Maybe I would have lasted longer, but I was never really trying for a win.
He gets me on the ground, his hands around my throat. My fingers find his watch. I press the button that made the pulse.
Suddenly, the world slows down again.
I'm still being suffocated, of course, but that's okay. I still have a hand free, and he won't be able to choke me once I've stabbed him in the throat.
I summon my blade, watching as, oh so slowly, his face begins to register my impending win. I give him a weak grin as I cut the watch loose from his wrist, then thrust my knife towards his neck.
There is a bellow loud enough to shake the pillars of the Earth, before David's once more burning form tackles the man aside.
My knife hits David in the face as he moves past me, and for a moment, I panic. But it glances off his cheek, drawing nothing more than a thin line of blood towards his ear.
'Right. Enhanced durability. Gotta get me some of that.'
He and the boss roll to a stop a short distance away.
I pull myself up into a crouch, shoving the anti-power watch into a pocket of my jeans, and holding my knife at the ready.
Guns at the ready again. I summon my riot shield. This would all be so much easier if I wasn't trying to keep casualties to a minimum.
"Next time someone shoots," I say, forcing the words out nice and slow to make sure they can understand me. "I stab them in the freaking face."
The threat works, for the moment, at least.
David pulls himself to his feet, his movements not nearly as slowed as the others, and gives me a glare.
Then, his eyes go wide.
"Wait," he asks, incredulous. "Is that- Dude! What the hell are you doing here!?"
I give him a weak shrug.
"I told you I was starting a new job."
"As an Agent!?" he shouts. "What the fuck, man? I thought you were sweet!"
Okay. That stings.
"Look," I sigh. "Just let me kill your boss, then I'll be out of your hair, okay?"
"Fat chance," he says, shifting himself in between me and the man in question, the flames across his form growing a touch brighter as he moves. "Sorry. You're cute.
But the job comes first, and I'm not gonna let you near him. Just walk away. Please."
I let out a long, aggravated sigh. I can see Hovis climbing to his feet behind David's back, holding his chest in protection of what is probably several broken ribs.
David being here makes this almost impossible.
I might have the advantage in terms of raw speed, but my one time boytoy isn't exactly slow, and unlike me, he can probably punch through solid walls.
The only thing I can think of is trying to draw him away from the target, then doubling back to finish the job.
But, if David has any sense to him, then he knows that sticking to the boss like glue is all he needs to do.
'God, this would be so much simpler if I had a gun.'
I look down. So does David. Where I once held a knife, I appear to now be holding a jet black copy of a Rueger 54. The first gun my father trained me with.
Hovis tries to run. I shoot him in the head.
David watches his employer fall, and takes a step forward, fury etched into every line of him. I let the riot shield go, and manifest another gun, aiming both of them towards him.
"Please don't," I say quietly. "I'm only here to end a single life today."
"Your knife didn't do much," he answers. "What makes you think a gun would be any different."
"... Fair point," I admit. "I probably can't beat you right now." I shift my aim towards the crowd. "But I'm a good shot, and I'm pretty sure I can kill half the people here before you catch me.
No one moves.
In the end, David swears.
"Just go," he growls. "I've got a big enough mess to clean up already."
I take a step back. Then another. No one follows. I turn around, and break into a run. I don't stop until I reach the edge of the concrete plate, just throwing myself bodily into the void.
That was way too fucking close.