Mind Thrown/Like Confetti


colette_icon.gif erling_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif sibyl3_icon.gif tavisha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Mind Thrown/Like Confetti
Synopsis Colette and Gillian do not take kindly to their friend being locked in a cage for the past several years.
Date July 10, 2017

Ruins of Staten Island

Erling Olsen’s ‘offices’ are situated on the canal just off the main drag of the Rookery, above a Vietnamese restaurant that pours steam out its foggy windows and does not ever seem to close. The smell of flash-fried meat clings to the building like a savory perfume made of charcoal and fat drippings, mixed with spices and the faint but distinct smell of discarded fish parts left to rot in the adjacent alley dumpster.

It isn’t altogether unpleasant. On the other side of the glass, the restaurant’s cramped interior is crowded with people gathered around small tables covered in an array of mismatched plates and pots. Colette and Gillian can hear the overlapping conversations and clinking dishware from outside on the street, but they can also see a clear pathway through the restaurant to the stairwell next to the kitchen that leads upstairs to Erling’s suite on the second floor.

The flickering neon lights affixed to the building’s exterior reflect in the puddles of yesterday’s rainwater gathering on the sidewalk where the group is standing. It’s a warm evening and the fireflies are out early, winking in the air and where they alight on tree branches or in the tangled curtains of ivy hanging off buildings both inhabited and not. Still, as the sun sets, the temperature is going to cool, and Sibyl has brought along her cardigan for later. Her hands fit easily in the oversized pockets as she cranes her neck to look up at the roof.

None of them can see the pigeon coops from the street, but they know they’re there. Tavisha’s cage, too. “So,” she says to no one person or (hawk) in particular, “how do you shake somebody down?” Colette’s words, for the record. Not hers.

Three Hours Earlier

Gillian’s Brownstone

Standing around the now clear breakfast table, Colette swipes through old maps of Staten Island on her phone, comparing it with Tavisha’s indication of where Erling's operation is based. Her other hand is splayed over the table, fingers curling and flexing, as a ghostly display of finger-painted buildings made from neon colors is painted in the air.

“This is the restaurant,” Colette indicates, turning a blocky structure a vibrant neon pink color. “These streets are our best bets for surveillance. We’ll want to know if Erling is along and what our exits are.”

Blind eyes angle to Gillian, and Colette fixes her with a look that is just a touch nervous. Not for either of them — they've survived worse together — but for their younger companion. “Sibyl,” Colette lets her attention drift to the younger girl. “I'm going to need you to work with me to get eyes on Erling once we’re at the building. I can see around corners, but I'll need you to find out if Erling is alone. I'll scout out the kitchen, you check his apartment remotely with your clairvoyance and share with me what you're seeing.”

To Gillian, Colette reaches out and sets a hand on her shoulder. “I'm just need you to be my eyes on the street level, ok? Sibyl and I are gonna be sitting ducks while we check out the inside. We’ll worry about the bigger stuff once we’re upstairs.”

Tracing a finger in the air, Colette paints a red line down the street and through the building. “As soon as we have eyes on Erling, I can bring us all in unseen. Sibyl and I can help guide Gillian, since the absence of light won't blind either of us.”

“Tavisha?” Colette turns to the bird. “If Erling can do what— if he can talk to birds, he's going to be able to sense when you're near. You'll give us away, unless you're already reporting to him. I want you to deliver him a fake report, buy us some time. We won't leave you up there.”


Staten Island

“Depends on how many teeth you want them to have when you're done.” Avi’s words for the record, not Colette's, even though she did deliver them. Out of her father’s old jacket, Colette has zippered up a black motorcycle jacket, collar upturned to her chin. It makes her silhouette bulkier than she really is.

“Everybody knows what they've gotta do,” Colette explains, looking down at her phone as though she's checking something on it. “Let's make it happen.” Her focus changes, and Colette twists refracted light in hair-fine follicles to snake her vision into the kitchen, looking for a safe way up.

Perhaps as a precaution, Gillian wears a set of sunglasses. She also handed Sibyl a pair of them. Hopefully they didn’t need the other half of her protect your senses package, she has an earplug in one ear, and a second one ready if it looks like they will need to resort to guns over stealth. A pair also given to Sibyl.

With the one who has military training in charge, she follows the instruction, hoping she won’t need to touch the gun she has at her waist. She’s not sure she could use it without her hand shaking, anyway— A sharp nod of the explanation— She knows her part. She’s willing to play it. Even if she can’t boost their abilities from that distance.

“Happy hunting,” she says in response, finding a place to casually keep an eye from on the ground level.

One minute.

This simple message fluttered through each woman (and girl)'s minds — approximately one minute ago. Tavisha had explained that while he didn't have a concrete grasp on the intricacies and extensions of Olsen's power, he wasn't going to chance it by communicating with them once in range.

Countdown sixty seconds, and if you look up at the right time, you'll see the goshawk fall from the sky and disappear over the edge of the building's rooftop. He lands atop the coop, pigeons fluttering with nerves.


They won't leave him up here. This thought like a cast anchor, keeping him from becoming completely unmoored with the fear that they will, and a valiant attempt at concealing his own roiling anxiety. Erling never did may a lot of attention to his feelings, god only knows. Maybe he won't start now.

“He’s in the stairwell,” Sibyl reports. She wears the sunglasses Gillian gave her high on her forehead instead of her face to better appreciate the twinkling fireflies. The last time she was on Staten Island feels like a lifetime ago, even though the papers at the orphanage list her last permanent residence as the old Eltingville Blocks compound. When you’re small, the years just speed by. Every storefront window is a distraction. Her head swims in the smells and sounds of the adjacent market, which calls to her like some sort of dissonant siren’s song.

She wants to explore, to feel the textures of frayed silk and leather under her fingertips and roll pieces of rock hard fruit between her palms, freeing the natural oils from their skins. There are pieces of jewelry hanging from hooks and laid out on moth-eaten velvet that wink and flirt with her when the lamplight hits their displays just right. Nearby, a florist wraps wilted winter blooms in brown paper bouquets.

Focus. She needs to focus. “He’s in the stairwell,” she says again. “Erling. Going up to the roof, now.” Her psychic feelers map out the building’s interior based on little flickers of imagery. What she did not tell Colette back at the townhome is that using her ability makes her afraid. As she jigsaws these pieces of information into a bigger, more complete picture, she mentally pushes back against the knot she can feel forming in the pit of her stomach.

“There’s another man,” she adds. “Big. Maybe a bodyguard. He’s— doing things in the bathroom with a magazine, I think.”

Above, Erling emerges from the stairwell and onto the roof. He’s wearing a business suit that looks like it’s the uglier twin of the one Tavisha saw him wearing the previous night — or it’s the same one, only slept-in. His hair — usually styled to make it so he #wokeuplikethis — comes off a little unkempt, too. His shoes crunch over gravel and wispy pigeon feathers as he moves toward the coop Tavisha has claimed, adjusting his lapels with his fingers in a nervous but practiced fidget.

Avian telepathy goes both ways. If Tavisha listens for it, he can hear his captor’s anxiety rattling around in the back of his mind like the pigeons are fluttering in their cage. Whatever happened last night has him spooked. “You find Demsky?” he asks.

Down on the street, Colette rests with her back against the wall, blind eyes focused down on the lit screen of her phone even as she concentrates on the weaving and bending of light from one location directly to her. “There's… five cooks in the kitchen,” she says softly to Sibyl and Gillian. “Really tight space. I don't think I can squeeze all of us through there.”

Her brows furrow, head tilting to the side. An errant thumb tap makes the phone use more believable. “Fire escape’s been torn off the wall, I don't see— ” Colette hesitates, thinking about Erling’s position. “Hold on.” She looks down at her phone, snarls, and starts walking away from Sibyl and Gillian like she read something frustrating.

Then, stopping across the street one building down from the restaurant she begins furiously texting again. Brows furrowed. A text message pops up on Gillian’s phone.

Lite Brite: Checking the other building. It's close enough that I could jump across to Erling. Hold there.

Her eyes wander, texting becomes a pantomime, and Colette searches the next building for a quick approach to the roof. She has no idea the name Gillian has her under in her phone.

From where she’s trying to blend into the surroundings, Gillian lets her fingers dance across the keys, surprised that the cell phone service reaches here and that the message went through at all. And grateful. It went better than trying to do flashy hand signals, or something.

Crunch Berry: Holding.

It’s such a simple text. If only she knew that Colette had chosen an equally embarrassing nickname for her. Perhaps because the color of her ability once reminded the younger girl of those little purple crunch berries. She doesn’t bother to write more, in case the poor woman needs to actually do something crazy like jump across. She shifts her eyes back to the street, looking out for trucks, cars, motorcycles, or general foot traffic.

I found Demsky.

Tavisha's hawk face, at least, gives nothing away — just fixed ferocity, angling a look at Erling with hidden curiousity. She was hiding out in Queens, near the East River. Caught a ride out on a boat, and she got past Montauk before I had to turn back.

He rustles his feathers. Looks like she made the smart call. Do you want the name of the boat?


Erling’s fingers flex. He balls them into two fists, then stretches them back again, working the tension from his joints. “Doesn’t matter.”

That’s a bad sign.

Below, Colette locates a rickety access ladder that leads to the roof of the adjacent building. A quick tug on the lowest rung has bolts juddering and metal creaking in a low, off-kilter way that has Sibyl flicking a concerned look in her direction. No one else seems to notice, or hear; inside the restaurant, someone has started singing a bawdy drinking song in a language that Gillian neither understands nor recognizes, but as more and more voices join in on the next chorus, it covers the sound of Colette’s precarious ascent.

On the roof, Erling crosses to the shed and fishes out his key to Tavisha’s cage. “Client’s dead.” He loops his fingers in the mesh, swinging open the door. “In you go.”

Halfway up the ladder, Colette loops her arm around one of the rungs and withdraws her cell phone. She taps a short message, directed down to Gillian’s line. It occurs to Gillian as she’s receiving the call that they’re far afield from the Safe Zone cell tower. Yet Gillian’s phone has full bars of service.

Lite Brite: Might need you in range for amplification. I’ll distract sterling you and sibyl come up behind me.

Sterling? Oh, Erling. Autocorrect, right.

Phone tucked away, Colette begins to ripple and distort like a heat mirage as she moves up the rest of the way on the ladder under the cover of the raucous noise below. As she disappears completely, she hauls herself up onto the adjacent roof, moving slowly so as to not cause a visible distortion Erling might notice. Sensing the distance between the buildings, Colette creeps away from the roof’s edge, turns to face where Erling is.

Seeing the cage open, Colette’s stomach sinks. She’d promised Tavisha no one would stay a prisoner, and that’s starting to fall apart already. Focused, Colette bends the light around her, uses it to peer over the edge of the roof and check on Gillian and Sibyl’s position. Then, after she’s certain they’re on the move, she pushes up from her crouch into a sprint.

Booted feet clap noisily on the rooftop, enough to be heard over the singing below. When Colette reaches the edge of the rooftop she plants a foot on the edge, masonry cracking and crumbling under the stomp, and then springs across the gap as little more than a distorted blur of a heat mirage. She lands hard on the opposite side, shimmering into view like someone falling out of a mirage, stays on one knee, brows lowered and blind eyes fixed on Erling.

Sounds like Greek to her. Or that’s what she’d say if someone asked. She actually couldn’t tell Greek from Russian or Yiddish or any other strange language, so she’s just going with the classic quote. The second text makes Gillian nod and start to move, hoping that the singing has those inside distracted so she can make her way to the ladder and climb up, tucking the phone away after a quick Emoji thumbs up is sent back.

She’ll ask how they have cellphone service later— or maybe she won’t. She’s sure Wolfhound has their ways.

Trying to be as quiet as possible, she uses the ladder that was dropped down, to get closer and closer. Augmentation range is not a bad distance, but she wants to be sure she recognizes her targets before she does anything. That little ball of energy in everyone might feel somewhat unique, but she doesn’t want to send her energy into the bad guy by accident.

As Erling swings the cage open, that anxiety he can sense within Tavisha only spikes up, which is not out of the ordinary. Less within the ordinary is the fact that this spike in anxiety is not swiftly accompanied by obedience, as if the thing he is anxious about is not avoiding punishment so much as


something else, evidently. Talons hooked into cage, Tavisha ducks his head, and twitches his attention to the movement that is Colette's invisible leap between buildings, and her solid appearance tumbling out of the air.

He quickly leaps into the air himself, noisy, clumsy flaps beating the air until he lands on another cage, further from Erling's possible reach.

“The fuck do you think you’re doing?” Erling asks, which is more of a threat than it is an actual question. Tavisha feels his intent darkening the space between them like a stormcloud. “Don’t make me come over there, ‘visha. Swear to God, I don’t have time for your flighty caged bird Disney bullshit.”

The pigeons can sense the telepath’s mood worsen, but also— something else. Their prey instincts warn them of Colette’s approach when she’s still stalking lithe and catlike on the opposite roof; an anxious flutter moves through the flock, reaching a crescendo at the same time the young woman’s boots hit the gravel with an explosive sound that propels the pigeons into the air.

Wings batter against the mesh walls of their coops. Bodies bang into roofs and glance harmlessly off again. They jockey for a way out, but their brains are too primitive to recognize that there isn’t one.

Erling pivots to face the source of the commotion and his eyebrows jolt up in surprise. A hand goes to the sidearm he keeps holstered under his suit jacket. If he encountered Colette anywhere other than Staten Island, he might hesitate to draw it. Time moves differently here, however, and does not afford him the luxury of assessing a threat before he points a pistol at it.

He flicks off the safety with his thumb in the same motion that has his arm swinging up to level the weapon with the Wolfhound operative’s center of mass.

Get the hell off my roof.

Neither Erling nor the pigeons has taken notice of Gillian or Sibyl yet, but they will as soon as Gillian crests the top of the ladder.

Blind eyes narrow, Colette’s already concentrating when he’s going for the gun. Fingers clench, can’t be flashy out in the open, but a gunshot could draw unwanted attention. Weighing the options, she vies for speed rather than stealth. Light from the street concentrates in a band that forms in mid air, crackles with an electric quality and then sears across the back of Erling’s hand. It’s a low intensity burn, the light levels here aren’t enough to even cut flesh so much as elicit the hot touch reflex of splayed fingers and release.

The gun falls to the gravel, the tendril of concentrated light flickers away. Colette’s shoulders rise and fall slowly as a warm summer breeze blows across the rooftop. “Someone hired you,” Colette states flatly, “to tail someone who hunts down war criminals for an occupation.” She breathes in again, hands trembling from adrenaline, clenched into fists to steady them.

“Well,” Colette jerks her shoulders up into a shrug as she takes long strides toward Erling. “You found me.” Blind eyes assess the cage, Tavisha, the pigeons, back to Erling. She’s counting on Gillian to make sure she doesn’t wind up like the soldiers on Pollepel Island here.

In order to do what Colette wants, Gillian’s going to need to be a lot closer. Her range for augmentation isn’t bad, so once she gets high enough to see Tavisha, she sends energy into that little spark that makes up his ability. She hope it's enough for him to keep control, to fight, but for the other side of the equation…

She actually has to pull herself up onto the roof, bring herself closer. She no longer needs to touch him, but she knows it will bring her into the line of potential fire. A second band of energy starts to flow toward Lite Brite as her eyes start to take on that faint purple glow within her irises.

But with those two threads of energy, she focuses on getting closer to one of those sparks she’s not pushing energy into.

It's hard to describe what it is that happens when Gillian's ability seeks his own out, because it's something different than a rush of adrenaline or a warm tingle. With Tavisha in this state, he feels as though it encompasses everything he is, and that everything he is grows stronger as a result. He feels with more objectivity the conditions of his own vessel, the burn mark that stretches and pulls his skin around his wing, the shiver of individual feathers.

And he feels the stormcloud of Erling's insidious influence that's wrapped around his brain, and he feels it begin to abate. Not just due to the man's distraction, but as if simply willing it away with a thought were enough to burn it back with brilliant light.

Around them, in the cages, panicked pigeons settle. They find places to perch.

They go very still.

And at the edges of Erling's mind, fog is beginning to creep in.

Erling takes two measured steps backwards, his hip bumping up against one of the pigeon coops. He raises a hand to his temple and presses its heel against his skull. “Get out— ” he snarls at Tavisha, attention divided between the hawk that is not a hawk, and the Wolfhound operative staring him down from the opposite side of the roof.

Gillian— ” Sibyl starts at the same time, a panicked hitch in her voice, but the warning comes an instant too late. An arm hooks around Gillian’s neck and pulls her into someone’s chest. She feels gunmetal in the cavity of her ear and warm breath on the top of her head.

A voice says, “Hands above your head, Demsky,” and Colette recognizes it before she turns around. He’s tall and thick with a square, handsome face and a swoop of dark hair slicked back over an equally square forehead that’s rumpled in an expression of vague, almost offhanded concern for the other man leaning against the pigeon coop.

That’s probably Erling’s bodyguard.

“Good to see you again,” he adds. His hand not gripping the pistol nestled against Gillian’s head grips Sibyl by the scruff, dangling her a foot above the ground like a naughty kitten with its claws out. She takes a swipe at him, but he holds fast.

“Could you maybe not slice up my next paycheck? I really don’t wanna be killing anyone today.”


Slowly, Colette turns to the sound of a familiar voice. Dark brows crease, and Colette keeps herself in profile to both Erling — who has other problems to contend with — and “Limerick?” Blind eyes slip narrow, and one of Colette’s brows twitches. She raises her hands, expression subtly shifting as it does. She gives a brief look to Gillian, mindful, then another to Sibyl and back to the bodyguard.

“You know I tried to find you,” Colette offers in a smaller voice, “but you went and dropped off the face of the fucking earth.” Which, inevitably, flushes out into the septic tank that is Staten Island. “But, we’ve got a strong guy with bad hair now, so…” the description more for Gillian’s sake than the conversation with an old acquaintance.

Head tilting to the side slightly, Colette poses a straightforward question. “Precisely how do you prefer this ends? Professionally speaking.”

The arm doesn’t worry Gillian too much, but the gun does. Her hand has already gone up, as if to grab onto the aforementioned arm that’s pulled her against a heavy set chest, but she doesn’t reach the rest of the way when that weapon comes down. She looks toward the goshawk, that tiny little spark she can sense and keeps pushing energy there. The bird needs to maintain control of himself, as far as she’s concerned. They’d promised.

If he can fly away, she would also be fine with that— she owes the man he’d used to be. In more ways than she can count.

Her hand shakes a little, but she grips it tight as she lowers it, making sure to do it slowly and keep the hand in sight. Not that she would be reaching for a weapon anyway— not that she needs a weapon to be dangerous. She knows Colette doesn’t— and if he knows the Wolfhound, he should know that too.

“Is he paying you enough?” she asks, her voice more controlled than her hand would make one think.

That fog settles in Erling's mind, an obscuring force seems to muffle his attunement to the pigeons all around him, to the goshawk nearby. He can see, and hear, and think — more or less — on his own volition.

But he remembers more than he should. He looks at Gillian and he sees her somewhere else, on a pier, cigarette smoke and black hair. He sees Colette, and he sees her a little younger, more flesh on her bones, a wide open smile with glowing discs of light hovered above her hands. Associated feelings — love, perhaps — that do not belong to him release into his system like a drug.

You can do better than that, Erling, is Tavisha's voice, in his mind. Goading, suddenly. Richer in timbre. Louder. Make me.

The goshawk on the pigeon coop is very still, concentrating, wind ruffling its finer feathers. All of its effort pours itself into the connection between himself and the telepath, barely registering the presence of a fourth human body, but he manages to reach towards Gillian in a way that feels like a psychic brush against her brain, one that politely requests: more.

Tavisha wants a fight, and so Tavisha will get a fight.

Limerick looks past Colette to his employer, frowning. “Olsen?” he asks. “Are you drunk?” If he was, he probably wouldn’t hold it against him; Gillian can smell tequila on the bodyguard’s breath, and the stale bite of old coffee beneath his aftershave, so he’s in no position to criticize Erling for his vices.

Hazel eyes flick back to Colette. “Professionally speaking,” he starts, but he doesn’t get any further than that. Erling throws open the pigeon coop and the flock streams out onto the roof as one, filling the air with the cacophonous thunder of wings and a deafening murmur of bird voices. Colette and Gillian are momentarily transported back to the smoky ruins of Pollepel Island as the resulting whirlwind tugs at their hair and ripples through their clothes.

Erling is shouting something that sounds like GET OUT OF MY HEAD, which might make sense to everyone on the roof except for Limerick, who releases Gillian and shoves her to the floor of the roof. Sibyl is discarded in a similar fashion, freeing his hands to swat at the birds that swoop too close to his face. A pigeon explodes on impact with the back of his hand and later Gillian will be able to reflect on the amount of restraint Erling’s superpowered bodyguard must have exercised with her and Sibyl.

Now she has other things to think about.

Like what she and Colette are going to do next. In the chaos, Erling has already opened three more coops, tripling the number of birds in the air, which are forming a funnel around the roof that blacks out the sun and plunges her world into darkness. She can make out Sibyl’s shape crouched a few feet away and the shuddery hiccup of her shoulders as she hyperventilates, her arms held up to protect her face and head from the cyclone spinning around them.

Fuck!,” Colette hisses from the ground, crouched away from the maelstrom of birds. Though only pigeons, the fear in her is so palpable. The birds on Pollepel Island were just terns and gulls, but they still picked soldiers apart and to the bone. “Gillian, downer! Erling!” Colette calls out, realizing the battle of wills going on. As much as she trusts Tavisha to be the smarter of the duel, diminishing Erling’s power has the same counterbalance as strengthening Tavisha’s and ensures they aren’t eaten alive.

There’s precious little can do against the flock of birds, other than survive them. This is Tavisha’s battle now, and it happens on a plane far beyond her own. The more pressing matter is the big idiot that got in the way. As she stands, Colette zigs to the side, snatching Erling’s gun from the floor and tucking it into the back of her pants. She ripples, then, into a heat haze shimmer of invisibility. This time she sprints the opposite direction, running back to where she was. When she reaches the other end of the roof, arms crossed over her face to shield herself from the birds, she soars over the gap between the buildings and drops into a roll back on the adjacent building.

Coming visible as she lands, Colette looks up and around, moving to Sibyl to make sure she’s okay, one hand on the small of her back as she tries to shield the girl from the birds. “Lim,” Colette’s tone is firm, “Erling’s on his way out whether we like it or not! Trust me on this one! But if I don’t stop these fucking birds we’re going to get picked-a-fucking-part regardless of what side we’re on!”

Dark brows raise, blind eyes square on Limerick. Come on, man all but said with her eyes amid the chaos.

The shoving to the floor of the roof had been met with a grunt, but as Gillian watches that bird splatter, she realizes just how little force he’d used against her. He could have sent her through the floor, she imagines. But he did not. Orders come from two directions. But she already knew what she needed to do. She uses her new found freedom to scramble up enough to crawl closer to Erling, while still trying to avoid a tornado of birds. She’s been through one of those already, she’d rather not again.

Once she’s close enough, she stops.

Arm outstretched in front of her, she reaches out to that little knot of energy and pulls on it. An arc of lightning suddenly stretches between them, starting with him and pulling into Gillian. Not red. Purple. A crackling violet bolt that draws energy out, into her. At the same time, she’d sending all that energy she draws toward the bird, toward Tavisha. All of it. It doesn’t come in the form of a bolt of lightning, it doesn’t need to. She’s starting to glow slightly, where her skin is visible. And so might the goshawk that contains a piece of a man she once loved.

Strange violet light seems to emanate out between the ragged feathers of the goshawk, its scrawny neck, the patches of down missing from his own breast and back when his mind had wandered far enough. His mind isn't wandering at all, in this moment, as power suddenly fills the psychic space he occupies, and making him become.

Become more than just a mote of human consciousness drifting in this vessel, in any vessel. Making him become more like Tavisha, and all of his dimensions, his memories, the facets of personality that only a human brain can generate to its fullness. Making him become, for a moment, more than only Tavisha, but also like Gabriel Gray. Like Sylar.

The world around him seems to fade out of consciousness as he withdraws from the tattered body of the bird he is in. He sees Erling's mind, a nexus connected to the flock, channeling rage and fear, and he launches himself towards it with careless killer instinct. The goshawk leaps off the cage, flaps its wings, rises, and its larger shape in the midst of the pigeon tornado is immediately swarmed. Blood spatters, feathers, fly, and Colette and Gillian can only look on in horror and apprehension as the shape of the goshawk is torn completely asunder, until it's nothing left but what pieces have landed on the ground, broken and bloody.

And then they watch as Erling collapses, like a puppet with its strings cut.

On a plane of existence only made possible through this strange fusion of ability, Erling's vision warps. One moment, he is staring out through his own eyes, paralysed, feeling the presence of another like a weight within his mind, and then suddenly he sees

too much

mind thrown

into the air like


split apart

dispersed amongst the flock, all under his control if only he could make sense of possessing hundreds of little winged bodies. Their coordinated viciousness breaks down, some slamming into the ground, others tumbling out of sight, some still managing to claw at what human flesh they find.

Tavisha, meanwhile, curls human fingers, heart pounding.

As the pigeons disperse, peeling off into the crooked alleys of Staten Island, leafy trees and the open sky above their heads, Sibyl clings to Colette, her face buried in the older woman’s shoulder. Small hands clutch fistfuls of her shirt between white-knuckled fingers. The teen’s entire body is quaking, and although Colette can’t hear it above the roar of buffeting wings until they’ve faded, she makes a low, strangled keening noise at the back of her throat.

She’s right to be afraid, of course.

Limerick breaks eye contact with Colette only to look up as the sound is ebbing. He can see orange sky and mottled purple clouds. Feathers float down like enormous, bloody clumps of snow.

The last pigeon careens away, vanishing over the lip of an adjacent building with a wild snap of its wings and a call that none of them have ever heard a bird make before. It sounds a little like a human scream.

Erling is gone. Tavisha stands in his place, in his place, all broad shoulders and proud cheekbones.

What the fuck,” is all Colette can manage to say, looking at Limerick for a moment as if he might somehow have the answers to this that she doesn't. Heart pounding in her chest, Colette wraps one arm around Sibyl protectively, hand at the back of her head and fingers gently in her hair and against her scalp.

There's a moment of uncertainty, of silence broken up only by the discordant noise of the market on the street below. Blind eyes regard Gillian next, as if uncertain what further explanation the augmentor can afford that is beyond a litany of profanity barely contained by Colette’s clenched teeth.

This is an impossibility, one that Colette has witnessed with pounding heart and surging adrenaline. A warm breeze blows across the rooftop, and the silence is broken by Colette exhaling a single, uncertain question to the wind.


With so much of her energy poured out into that little ball of energy inside a bird, GIllian’s not going to be able to get up off the floor anytime soon. Her hand has dropped and she stopped glowing, but she can feel that little knot of energy that she’d been pushing energy from still. It kept her from screaming out when the bird exploded. She looks exhausted, which is exactly what she happens to be.

Almost all of her energy went into that. She won’t be able to give much to anyone else for a while now. “I think it is,” she offers, eyes shifting to meet Colette’s white ones. She thinks so. Hopes so. Not quite what she might have wanted to happen, but it’s better than the alternative.

Better than all that’s left being a pile of blood and feathers. Better than nothing being left at all.

Getting up is slow going. Muscles twitch, lungs constrict, heart pounds, head swims, and so Erling Olsen — by all appearances — is late to look up. First, to Gillian, blue eyes holding very intent focus, as fierce as any goshawk, before that stare switches to Colette with predatory suddenness, and maybe there's a moment in reading fear or anger out of his body language, his expression, that would lead them to believe that the bird telepath still is as he appears.

But only a moment. Getting to his feet, clutching his clothes, and then looking back down at his hands again. Wiggling his fingers. Touching his chest, looking down the distance of his body, to where neat shoes set on the ground.

And he starts laughing.


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