Spacer East to West 74
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     "For years you Guia-lo, whites, you—outsiders —have been dictating policies to our people. The Italians putting the tongs down, taking them over with the World Crime League. It's not happening again. This is ours. And they'll know not to send anyone else in to try and fight us. We're not going anywhere, but this place is ours."
     I decided not to attempt to appeal to our common ancestry. This guy's a nut. He's upset because other ethnically-based criminal groups aren't giving his a fair shake?
     Lucky started to say something, but he interrupted.
     "And don't try to say, 'Well you could have just told us that and we would have made the police get out of your way.'"
     "Why don't you just negotiate for treaty rights?"
     I was probably giving her the same look No-Name was at that point.
     "We're a criminal organization."
     "There's bootlegging on Indian reservations," she shrugged, or attempted to in her chains. "No really, I mean you have to know that once we're gone they'll bring in a few teams from some other states and hunt you down. So—"
     "You are pawns. But your elimination will keep anyone else from moving in before we can consolidate our authority."
     "That's so naive."
     He glared at her, smiling just the same. "Well then, I'll take my young, naive, foolish self out of here while your infinitely more experienced person..." He gestured eloquently at our combined predicament.
     "We will meet again," she assured him. "Be it in this plane or in hell."
     "There are many hells, it will take you a while to search. Good day, Revolution."
     "Way to spit in his eye, Lucky," I muttered as he left. The door slammed behind him with a reverberating thud. Perfect.
     "Needle, would you mind putting a TK shield around me while I break these chains?"
     "I'm a little more worried about Hans at the moment."
     Her chain dropped another link, bringing her head to floor level. I tested my powers. I could work within my own aura, but not beyond it; something was interfering. Namely, those two long, somewhat ironic needles jammed into the back of my neck. I brought my shield to life just in time to bounce off a sword-edge—which gave me some added momentum, swinging me harder against the other side of the cage. The weights were far too heavy for me to try to maneuver myself, they must have weighed nearly a ton. F=ma. This was really going to start hurting in a couple of minutes.
     Hans twisted in his chains, trying to get some purchase to work himself free. The water actually helped, making him a little slippery. Lucky, too, was engaged in testing her bonds. A series of cracking sounds echoed through the room as several of the links shattered and started to slip. She got a hand free, arched herself to move and froze as the chains slipped again.
     "Lucky, please don't make me catch you right now—"
     One needle fell loose, though it required a disproportionately exhausting effort. Promethean had loosed one hand from its bonds and was working on his own punctures as the water closed over his forehead; he curled himself up and kept working. The chains slipped as he did so, and the water flow increased fivefold.
     "Don't move, Lucky," I urged her, figuring that Hans had a better grip on his own predicament. "Stay very still." I went to work on the second needle.
     Promethean threw a blast of plasma at the shackles binding his legs; that was the last thing I saw from that direction for a while as the tube erupted in steam and the water started coming down in serious force.
     Lucky, ignoring me, made a desperate arching twist and threw herself through the air. The brittle chains shattered in her hands and she fell, vanished into the dark gap just as the second needle fell loose. I reached out hopelessly for her familiar outline as a sword whisked against my skin, too sharp to hurt when it cut me.
     Then Promethean's prison shattered beneath the pressure of the superheated water. Glass shards bounced off my shield. To my own surprise I found Lucky arched desperately over the gears, hanging on by fingertips and a ghost of a foothold. I put a shield over her as the water began to flow over her skin, and yanked her up a few yards.
     "Next time I tell you not to move, don't fucking move!" I yelled, sensed my focus slip that all-important fraction. I wasn't going to be able to hold her and hold off the blades at the same time, I realized, and closed my eyes. Promethean's precisely placed blast didn't even singe me as he blew out the side of the cage before I could be julienned, then the other side as I swung back around. A few more and I was loose. He caught me on the way down; Lucky used her considerable strength in removing the weights, much to my relief.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson