Chapter 34:

It's Elementary

Half-Paid Heroes

Jamie made sure to put some force into her attack, but as the gust subsided, he seemed unfazed by it. It had definitely blown into him, though - his hair was messed up. The shawl was blown away.

Wait, did he say "Central Security"? she wondered, her eyes darting about, trying to analyse what he could do before he could act upon it.
A deep laugh broke into her thoughts, startling her. "Unlike you, I don't really know what element matches up against what. I'm still fairly new at this job, after all."

Jeremiah's face appeared before Jamie as the thuds of his running finally reached her ears. His left hand - in a fist - swung upwards, not quite connecting with her torso...and the floor rumbled momentarily before a geyser of water appeared from nowhere, sending her to the ceiling.

"I can't believe I followed you to this company," Jeremiah mumbled into her ear as her body came hurtling back down...
In another room, Alex was observing how the walls shook. The tremor seemed to be concentrated towards the bottom of the wall, but the source didn't seem to be from the ground itself. It was so similar to the giant robot attack, in fact, that she deduced it was something on the bottom floor that had done it.

However, even as Heart Wisdom kept their presence secret with a shield, Alex couldn't help getting the feeling they were being watched.

"Hope, I think this might be your specialty," Passion muttered as Chris shuffled to a halt, having reached the edge of where the shield could protect her. Thus, Heart Hope reached out with a shadow tendril and swept it behind where the four of them were standing.

The hidden figure was...Kirikagura?!

Nour stepped forward out of habit once she spotted he was nursing his left shoulder. She was holding out the healing paraphernalia she often had to use after the Company's large battles, but like Alex, she wasn't acting in case their boss had been tailing them as a trap.

There was something in Kirikagura's eyes, though, that made the deputy (Alex) believe that this was not a trap. She couldn't really explain it, she just knew.

"Nour, go ahead." Alex's words were concise as the healer got to work.

This takes me back, she thought, remembering Ross all of a sudden and how useful he was as a healer...
"What made you think this was a profitable idea for a company?" the newest recruit at the time, Ross McAllister, declared as he held out his right arm, twirled it around in circles a few times and let a nearby pot plant follow the path he'd made for it. (Alex wasn't sure at the time if it was basil or was named Basil, but nonetheless Ross's plant was some way or another.) "'Waiting for opponents while your company bleeds from all the property damage you cause' isn't a particularly exciting endeavour."

Ross had potential and he had been smart - probably too smart for his own good - but he was far too apathetic towards his powers and far too skeptical in his superiors. Those two factors in a person were fine individually, but together they would be a person's downfall.

Just as Alex was about to tell him the company was Kirikagura's idea, Jamie stopped at the door. A few steel barbs were stuck in her calves, and she was only able to move because of a pair of airblasts allowing for movement without using her legs.

Without needing to be prompted, Ross commanded the plant to grow and affix itself to the barbs and then, with a teasing finger over his lips, he yanked them all out to the tune of Jamie's screams. Using the grown sections of the plant, Ross plugged each injury and the flesh around it healed at a supernatural rate. The parts of the plant that had been used were absorbed into the body in a way that looked bizarre every time Alex witnessed it.

"You seem rather apprehensive of the men you deal with," Ross interrupted her silence, with those green eyes of his looking through her as if stating something like this out of the blue was no big deal. "You're my senior so I won't press you, but...what made you this way?"

Strange strangled noises stopped him from musing any further. For the second time in her life, Alex had broken down with messy, loud sobs.
---- Author's Note ----
I never thought I'd get a chance to discuss more of Ross's backstory, but now I like him a lot more. I'd been planning for a while to have him appear again (in the real timeline, of course) just to bring things full circle, but exactly when he will appear is a mystery...

Gerry Hines