The Knight ran, Francis bumping and jolting wildly up and down on her back as they headed around the Source.
It turned with them, swiping with its free claw and roaring. One swish of knifelike fingers came so close it passed through Francis’ head and he yelped in surprise and horror. Feeling him begin to slip through her the Knight grunted in irritation and, with a shrug of her shoulders, hoisted him back into position.
“Thanks,” he gasped.
Reaching a rack of basketballs on wheels, the Knight planted one foot on the top and launched herself up so that she was standing on it. Running across she leapt off, landed, and lashed out behind her with her foot, sending the rack hurtling into the Source’s legs. It bellowed with consternation and the Knight continued to circle around behind it while it was distracted.
“Get ready,” she said.
“Right,” Francis replied.
The Source started to turn and the Knight ran, arms pumping, breath coming in gasps, towards its back. When they were close she reached behind her, grabbed Francis by the waist and, as she jumped upwards, pushed him into the air. Flying upwards, Francis’ good leg connected with the Knight’s shoulder and he pushed himself further and further into the air, coming down heavily on the Source’s back.
The Knight stopped running and gasped in pain, rubbing her shoulder. Then the hand of the Source swung around and smashed into her face. Tumbling back, she was lost to darkness.
Francis had his hands rapped around the Source’s neck and he clung on for dear life. He caught sight of Adelaide, gripped in its massive hand.
“Alright,” she shouted across, “what’s the plan?”
“Stupid,” he said, “really, really stupid.”
“Do it,” she grinned maniacally at him.
The Source roared and reached behind itself with its free arm to try and tear Francis off. He squeezed his eyes shut, but it couldn’t quite reach him. With a massive effort he managed to pull himself up so he was close to its ear.
“Hey there big guy,” he whispered.
The Source had been about to unleash another howl of rage, but it stopped.
“Recognise my voice?” Francis said, “I’m the guy who gave you my blood. There’s a good giant death monster.”
He looked up and saw Adelaide’s expression.
“It’s in the tone,” he hissed, “I think.”
The Source’s arms fell slack. Adelaide fell from its grasp and hit the ground. Getting up she dashed for her cricket bat and stepped back over to the Source, holding it at the ready.
“Come on,” Francis said, “shhhh. Let’s… uh… sleep now.”
The Source’s head nodded. It suddenly seemed to be shrinking, its bones cracking and snapping and getting smaller. Francis felt its shoulder blades recede as it slowly shrunk.
“That’s good,” he said, keeping his tone calm, “feeling very sleepy. Let’s return to tiny little adorable weird-y monster as opposed to giant killer weird-y monster, okay?”
Continuing to shrink the Source went from the size of a horse, to a human, to a sheep, to a large dog and finally to its ordinary toddler sized form. Its claws retracted, its crackling eyes lessened their intensity. It started to snore.
No longer held up by the Source’s bulk Francis stumbled and fell to his knees. Adelaide rushed over and helped pick him up, supporting him on her shoulder.
“That was amazing,” she said, “you totally… calmed that thing down. I knew you could do it.”
“Thanks,” Francis murmured. His whole body felt suddenly light and immaterial, as though he didn’t have any substance. He’d been using his power too much. On the plus side, he’d done some things he didn’t even think he could do. On the minus side, he felt like he was about to deflate.
There was a pounding of footsteps and Lydia and Alexis ran back down the aisle towards them. They were followed by Lee, Price and Julian. Seeing the Source, lying on the ground in a huddle, they skidded to a stop. The little creature let out a snoring sound.
“You did it!” Alexis said, “How? We were getting help, that thing was huge!”
“Francis exercised his connection with it,” Adelaide said, “I… played a supervisory role in proceedings that was extremely important.”
There was a groan from the floor. The Knight struggled to her feet. Immediately Julian and Price started and moved towards her. She raised her hands.
“Save it,” she muttered, “I’ll turn myself in.”
“Don’t look at me like that,” the Knight scowled, “I just… realised I’ve been stupid. That’s all.” Looking at Francis she gave him a curt nod, “you’re not wrong kid and… you’re probably not a criminal, either.”
Francis looked at her, unsure of what to say.
“You’re doing the right thing,” Adelaide met the Knight’s eyes, “I’m sorry about your dad, but really the things you did…”
“Don’t get self-righteous with me,” the Knight scowled, “many of the people I killed really were criminals. But I think I might have been a little overzealous once or twice. I don’t expect your forgiveness or your understanding. I’m just glad you’re alive, sister.”
Adelaide nodded and said nothing.
“Hey wait a second,” Lee had spotted the body of Amadeus on the floor, “we beat him too? Do you guys know what that means?”
“We just won our first fight,” Lee said, “with a combination of wit, skill and distraction tactics we actually managed to get through a battle without our general incompetency and lack of fighting ability getting in the way. That’s amazing!”
Contemplating this for a few moments, Adelaide nodded.
“He’s right,” she grinned at Francis, Lydia and Lee, “we actually did it. Our team saved the day!”
“Well spare the happily ever after,” Price examined their surroundings, stepping over to the prone Amadeus he sat him up and handcuffed him, “trust me, there is going to be one hell of a cleanup around here. The police may get involved.”
“I told you,” Francis groaned, “didn’t I tell you? We save the world and now we get done for property damage.”