The Source hit Amadeus in the chest and they both toppled down the stairs. Slamming into the ground on his back he tried to throw the creature off, but suddenly it seemed to weigh more than its small size implied.
Already the Source had started to grow, its body shuddering as bones cracked and lengthened. Amadeus’ eyes sparked and lightning struck the creature in the chest, blasting the thing off. It rolled away and scrabbled up on all fours. It flung its head back and released a howl of rage as it struggled to its feet, spine cracking and lengthening. Already it was the size of a large dog.
Amadeus lunged towards the step but the Source opened its mouth and a blast of searing energy struck him, making him howl. Getting up Amadeus raised his hands and grasped the creature’s flailing claws as it jumped at him.
“Alexis,” Adelaide called from the top of the stairs, “get up here!”
Nodding up at her, Alexis rushed over to where Lydia was lying, still prone after having been punched by Amadeus. Reaching down he helped her to her feet and together they ran for the stairs, keeping out of the way of the wild wrestling match taking place at the bottom.
The Source roared, its teeth snapping down inches from Amadeus’ head. He winced and punched at it, snapping its head back. Grabbing it around the throat he started to struggle to get it into a headlock.
At the top of the stairs Francis stared down at the fight below nervously.
“I don’t think we’ve thought this through,” he mumbled, “what if it kills him? Can it kill him?”
“Then it’ll be doing my job for me,” the Knight smiled, “in which case I’ll be gone.”
Turning she walked off briskly into the store behind them. Before she could vanish between the shelves, a cricket bat struck her on the back of the head and she fell forward. Grabbing her by the back of her jacket Francis and Adelaide pulled her back to the top of the stairs.
“Don’t think you’re going anywhere,” Francis said, “I’ve half a mind to throw you to that thing myself.”
At the bottom, the Source was smashing Amadeus into the ground repeatedly. Its hands had grown gigantic curving claws that wrapped around his body, and he flailed weakly against its grasp, his punches having little effect as they connected with its head.
“A less than pleasant fate” The Knight gritted her teeth and watched the creature below apprehensively. She didn’t struggle, but her whole body was tensed, like a predator preparing to lash out. “What have I done to deserve that?”
“Apart from murdering a bunch of innocents, you mean?” Adelaide glared at her.
“No super-human is innocent,” the Knight said, “they’re all just criminals waiting to happen.”
“How can you say that?” Adelaide said, “what have super-humans ever done to you?”
“You have no idea,” the Knight half smiled, “I’ve seen the evils those with power are capable of. It’s why I came back to here in the first place. To protect you, my little sister. I realise now that it’s too late. I’ll be moving on.”
“You’ll be answering for your crimes,” Adelaide said. Looking over at Francis she saw that he was staring at her, “yes, she’s my sister, but I absolutely don’t agree with her.”
“No,” Francis shook his head, “I know. It’s cool. It’s just… surprising.”
“It was for me too,” Adelaide looked back at the Knight, “I don’t know what messed up rubbish your dad poured into your ear, but you make me sick and you’re going to jail for a long time.”
The Knight’s expression suddenly clouded. Opening her mouth she stopped herself, closed it and was silent for a second. When she spoke her voice was quiet.
“You think my father hated super-humans?” She said, “Hah. Nothing could be further from the truth. He loved the damned things.”
Francis, Adelaide, Lydia and Alexis all looked straight at the Knight, stunned. She saw their expressions and smiled.
“That got your attention, didn’t it?” The Knight said, “Oh yes, he loved super-humans. That’s why our mother divorced him, you know. She said he cared more about them than he ever cared about her. He did, too. Always trying to help them, always trying to reform the criminal ones and stand up for the innocent ones. Down at the help centre twenty four seven.”
Stopping for breath the Knight raised herself to her feet. Francis and Adelaide didn’t even bother to pull her back down. Her hand fell to the handle of her pistol and she looked around at them.
“They killed him, in the end,” she said, “two ‘reformed’ gang members he’d helped get back on their feet. The super-human gangs in the cities are something else, I tell you. There’s only one law for them, power. Oh, the two kids he ‘rescued’ seemed scared, they seemed like they were only in it because of peer pressure, but in the end their power got the better of them. I vowed when they killed him that I would stop all the deaths that I could. When the lives of many are on the line, what are one or two fatalities?”
There was a silence. The Knight snorted and looked back down the stairs. Her eyes shimmered with what might have been tears.
Before Adelaide or any of the others could say anything more there was a roar from below.
The Source had become huge. It towered a head taller than the shelves against which it smashed the limp body of Amadeus. Its fangs, which curved out over its lips, were bared in a grimace of wrath as it swung its arm wildly.
“How the hell did it get that big?” Francis said, “I think letting that thing go might have been a bit of a mistake.”
“Well it’s done the job,” Adelaide said, trying not to look at the rag-doll like body of Amadeus.
Rearing its head and howling once more, the Source threw Amadeus to the ground. He moaned loudly as he hit the floor and there was a collective sigh of relief from the top of the stairs. Bending down the Source sniffed at the body. Then it turned around and looked up. A growl emanated from the back of its throat. It was looking right at them.
“I think I might have noticed another problem with the plan,” Francis said quietly.