“People are going to die, Colonel. Not just a handful,” Gladiator, the leader of PowerTrip, said. She’d broken her long silence full of shaking and sweating. The Colonel looked serene flying the two of them to a violent confrontation with a mob thousands strong. She was at peace in danger. A stone in a storm.
“Five minutes. Thara, call me War God in public, and Faith when we’re not.”
“Okay, Col—Faith,” Gladiator said.
“You’ve got a good plan. The best plan still has casualties. Ugly ones. No matter what you choose. That’s command.” The Colonel’s eyes sparkled.
Gladiator could take an M1 tank shell to her chest and get back up. War God was the most perfect warrior Gladiator had ever seen, yet a stray bullet that missed her brown and maroon Kevlar costume could kill her. She couldn’t let the Colonel die fighting a mob of savages turned on them by a fanatic.
War God put their plane, the Arrow, down a few blocks from the CitiBank at 34th Avenue and 3rd Street. Zealot, the leader of the Infernals, had dared PowerTrip to stop her emptying the vault for the adoring crowd. A classic Infernals publicity bid.
“I’ve never killed innocent people before. I have to today. Zealot will just turn them on each other if we don’t force our way through them to take her out,” Gladiator said, as if speaking a single phrase.
“So stop trying to deal so hard. Let go. All your plan does is make you ready to improvise. You’re fine.”
“Have you ever frozen, Colonel?”
“Faith, and yes. So what? You get to try again with a rewired brain. Your pain and anxiety is your brain rewiring. Okay?”
“Okay,” Gladiator said. She kept shaking. But the Colonel relied on her.
At the next intersection they reached a crowd of many thousands, glaring at them; Zealot in her red, white, and blue costume pointing at them, cursing them. The people moved like an animal, sprinting at them both. Gladiator reacted so sluggishly, couldn’t think through the plan.
“War God, get into an alley and draw a crowd into a choke point. I’m going to push through anyone left to Zealot and end her,” Gladiator said.
War god smiled and nodded. A mob howling for The Colonel’s limbs, shooting at her, and just Kevlar between her and flying bricks and bullets. Faith smiled.