Part 66 – Battle of Wits.

“Why does it have to be like this,” Amadeus slowly got to his feet. Blood dripped off him onto the floor. It spattered his clothes, painting him a ghastly crimson. He turned toward Anna, who backed away hurriedly, wobbling under the weight of her wings.

“Why must you refuse glory?” Amadeus roared, springing forward. His fist connected with Anna’s wing which she had swept up to shield herself. The force of the blow sent her crashing into the gigantic plant pot. Her head smacked into it and she fell awkwardly across it, eyes closed. Amadeus stood over her and sighed.

“Everything has to be so difficult for you, doesn’t it?” He said, “You can’t just accept glory when you see it. Don’t you see? There are some things you just don’t question.”

“Well question this!” Came a voice from behind Amadeus. He turned and raised his hand, catching Adelaide’s fist in his palm. He grinned at her.

“Really Adelaide? I’m unimpressed you think that you could beat me a second time. Also, as opening lines go, that wasn’t really up to scratch.”

“Ever heard of a distraction?” Adelaide returned his grin, “team one, let’s do this.”

The tentacles which had been slowly coiling themselves around Amadeus’ face as he’d been talking suddenly surged up his nose and into his mouth. Julian grasped his shoulders and twisted him around so he could pour more and more squirming tentacles into him. Amadeus’ eyes rolled back. He didn’t even have a chance to scream.

“Eesh,” Adelaide nursed her hand, “that’s still creepy.”

Lee and Price hurried over. Lee moved next to Julian and placed his hands on Amadeus’ head, squeezing his eyes tight and concentrating like Adelaide had never seen him concentrate before. Price stood ready, fists raised. He looked at Adelaide.

“We’ve got this,” he grinned with confidence she knew he didn’t feel.

Nodding, Adelaide stepped over to Anna and tried to lift her up. She looked at Alexis. He was hunched next to the plant pot, trembling. Anna’s wings had snapped the cables that tied his hands when they’d broken her own.

“Come on,” she said, “let’s get out of here. The others are waiting.”

Alexis shook his head, wide eyed. He looked over at Price.

“I’m going to help them,” he said. Adelaide grunted in frustration and shook her head. Meeting his gaze, she glared at him. Eventually she shrugged.

“Fine,” she hissed.

Picking Anna up by the feet she began to drag her away.

“Because of course she had to get wings,” she murmured to herself, “freaking wings that are super heavy.”

Reaching down as she passed it she hefted the Source’s cage in one hand. The creature inside was still asleep, but it snorted as she picked it up and bared its teeth. Glancing back at Julian, Adelaide saw he still had Amadeus in his tentacle-y embrace. They stood perfectly still. She caught Price’s eye.

“How long do you think you can hold him off if he breaks out?” She asked. The whole shopping centre seemed eerily quiet. They stood in the eye of the storm.

“Not long enough,” he shrugged, “you saw him earlier. The second he gets out, we’re toast.”

Adelaide nodded and started to move off, dragging Anna as fast as she could.

“Wait a second,” Price held up a hand. Adelaide looked back at him. He smiled at her and scratched his chin, “listen… I’d just like to say I’m really impressed. This whole thing has got crazy, really not the environment for kids. Any sane Director would be having a health and safety related heart attack right now. I get that this is super patronising but… uh… I don’t know. You’re a great leader, Adelaide, and I’m pleased to serve under you, whether we win this or not, I’d like you to know that. I wasn’t sure I wasn’t making a stupid mistake when I created this whole team idea in the first place but… you spraying deodorant in my eyes kind of made up my mind.”

He looked like he was going to say something more. Adelaide shook her head to stop him.

“Dude,” she said, “I’m impressed with you too. You had the guts to try and make a real difference, to try and create a real solution. That’s super cool.”

Price looked like he was about to cry for a moment. Then he sniffed heavily and gave Adelaide a thumbs up.

“Go,” he said.

She went.

Inside Amadeus’ mind, things were a little less calm. Julian’s glowing thought form smashed into the floor. Blue fluid was leaking out of stumps where some of his tentacles had been torn out.

Amadeus’ thought-form stood over him. He was made of crystal, jagged at the edges. Here his eyes glowed with a blinding intensity. Lee tackled him from behind and they both went down, Lee’s glowing flames wreathing them both as they grappled.

“So this was your plan,” Amadeus gasped, throwing Lee off. Rolling over he smashed his wickedly sharp hand into Lee’s neck. Lee’s thought-form thrashed about wildly, impaled to the ground. His blue fires flickered, threatening to go out.

“Trying to face me on a battleground where I didn’t have an advantage,” Amadeus chuckled. Raising his other arm he brought it down into Lee’s stomach. With a groan the thought-form disintegrated.

“Don’t you see!” Amadeus looked up, “My mind is as sharp as my body is strong. The power that I wield is complete and perfect. I am perfect.”

“Nope,” Julian said from behind him, grasping him around the throat, “you’re still a moron.”

Amadeus spun and aimed and sent a fist of crystal hurtling towards Julian, who narrowly dodged. His tentacles coiled around the arm and, snapping his head back, Julian roared and pulled Amadeus off his feet, over his head and smashed him into the ground on the other side.

“Moron?” As soon as Julian released his grip, Amadeus leapt up, unscathed, “No, no. You are the fool. You are trapped in my consciousness. I have you at my power. My mind is faster than yours. I can compute hundreds of attacks before you can even think to raise a hand in defence.”

“Exactly,” Julian spread his arms wide, “this is your mind, moron. You’re right, you’re faster than me, you have the advantage. Know what that means?”

“What?” Amadeus narrowed his searing eyes, “What? What does it mean!”

“Well…” Julian shrugged, “ever heard of a distraction?”

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