And so the game begins. My wings shift, and I accelerate, feeling the wing stroke the scales. I effortlessly twist and dive around the buildings, avoiding the now more and more frequent gunshots, muffled by the screw-on silencers. I plummet downwards, seeing the red-brick walls rush to meet me as I fall, and suddenly there are buildings looming all around me. Before I can hit the alley floor, I let my wings snap out again and speed off, the bricks no more than a blur as I fly straight and fast- parallel to the grubby tarmac floor.
I round a corner, now flying down the backstreets of a council estate and I dive low, low enough to touch the ground before accelerating upwards. Now that I am back in sight, the gun shots start again, getting dangerously close. I panic. How are they keeping track of me? I recheck my surroundings, making sure to not keep still in the air, and spot the warehouse again. Cas should be almost there by now. Shouldn’t he? A few more minutes.
Deciding to up the game, I fly faster, in tight dizzying circles, repeatedly plummeting and rising in different areas, using the plain brick buildings as an ocean, constantly dipping in and out of the waves. It felt good, to fly like this. I know I should be scared, but adrenaline was pounding my blood so hard there was no room for fear. There was just my wings, the way they sliced through the sky like a chainsaw through chocolate. There was nothing but this.
It was time. This was going to be the hard bit. I twisted in mid-air, looking at the roof of the hairdressers below me, and sped off towards the main road, ducking in low towards the buildings, careful not to be seen by anyone. I danced this way and that, making sure my attackers could still keep me in sight. I was leading them in a particular direction, I was leading them to the warehouse, only a street away. They had seen us, they had to die. I was frightening how that had become a reality for us.
The warehouse loomed in front of me, abandoned yet intimidating, and I dropped to the floor, pulling my wings in close to my body, folding them to my back. The doors were shut, but they weren’t locked. When I got them open, a large bare room welcomed me. There was a very old rug in one corner, surrounded by very old take-out cartons, empty packets of cigarettes, and beer bottles. The leftovers of some squatters home. Everything was covered in a layer of dust. It was also empty in the way that Cas wasn’t here yet.
That was better, somehow.
I looked up at the corrugated metal ceiling, the fading logo of a washing machine company imprinted on the far wall, and tracked a pipe that stretch across the width of the room, above the door. Perfect. I shut the doors behind me, plunging the room into semi-darkness, and stretched my wings wide, launching myself up to the pipe. I perched there, letting my breathing slow, but keeping my eyes focused, not sure if it was going to be Cas or the members of TJP coming in though the doors below me.
When the doors creaked open, I knew it was immediately not Cas. I knew that because it was a gun that had pushed the door open, and a gun that preceded its owner into the building. I waited, crouched in the shadows, watching the two heads move further into the room, looking around.
I leapt from the pipe, falling like a stone, too fast for their bullets, and slammed the doors shut, pressing my palm that was burning with adrenaline against the metal, feeling the two doors melt together, just a bit. I leapt back into the air, not giving the attackers time to adjust to the change of light before sending a spike of fire at where I assumed they were. I missed, just. One of them- the lighter haired, older one, fell to the floor, rubbing the flames off his clothes.
The other one shot more bullets at me, which I dodged, sending a stream of fire down towards them. The older one was scrambling to his feet, but he had to dive to the side to miss the next jet of flames, so I aimed for the other one, throwing a kitchen knife at him. It buried itself in his right arm, and his gun clattered to the floor. I held my hands up to shoot another stream of flames at him, when I heard the bang. The older one was standing in the corner, a gun in his hand, and I could fell blinding pain spreading through me from my left wing.
I plummeted downwards, twisting and writhing, frantically beating my other wing to stop myself braking all my bones. I landed heavily, and felt a fresh pulse of pain coming from the perfect hole in the black membrane in my left wing, the dark blood nearly invisible. I struggled to my feet, but I wondered if I had enough energy in me to force out some more fire, and wondering if it was even worth it, seeing as the man had his gun in his hands, and he was pointing it at me, and his friend was on his feet, grimacing and clutching his arm, but alive, ready to fight.
No. I would go down, fighting, or not at all.
I dove to the side as the bullet passed by, ignoring the impact of my landing. I had another knife on my belt, I could fight.
I let out a sting of flame, not very powerful, but enough to make the attackers dive to the side. My wing was shuddering and shaking, and I was seeing red in the corners of my vision. Why did it hurt this much? Why was I reacting as badly as this? The membrane of my wings was thin, made of tightly strung muscle, divided with flexible, strong bones.
That was it. One of those strong, agile bones, bones that could bend with me, twisting however I waned, had been hit. And it had shattered.
I couldn’t throw a knife, but I could fire a gun. It was the coward’s weapon, after all.
I wrapped my hands around the weapon I had dismissed earlier, feeling the cold, dead weight of it in my hands. Coward.
I raised it on the blurry figures, scrambling to their feet, surrounded by the flames that had found something to burn, some litter or sack, and flicked the safety off. It would be six. Six people dead because of me.
The doors flew open, the smelted metal cracking, and in the doorway was Cas, hoody and messy hair, and a gun in his hands. The attackers spun around, blinking in the light as the sunset behind him that set fire to his features. He shot.