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The Amy Dilemma – Chapter 6 – Peace In Our Time

Written by circes_cup :: [Sunday, 15 June 2014 19:18] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 15 June 2014 22:52]

The Amy Dilemma – Chapter 6 – Peace In Our Time

Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. No semblance between the characters described here and real individuals – living or dead – is implied or intended.

The morning chirping of birds went unnoticed by Dave Gordon as his eyes remained transfixed on the kitchen counter’s TV.

“They kidnapped the President’s son,” the former Agent explained as Amy finally appeared downstairs. “Right from the ski lodge where he was staying with friends – Secret Service all over the place somehow they still managed to abduct him.

Amy brushed her rebellious hair back with her fingers. The sky blue of her eyes assessed him. “Who is ‘they’?”

“Bad guys. Probably the New Utopians: well funded supremacists that have an ax to grind with the Administration.”

“How long have you been watching this?”

“Three hours,” Dave replied. “The news broke at six a.m.”

Amy receded back up the stairs, shouting over her shoulder as she went. “You’ve been listening to the same information over and over again for three hours?”

“Basically, yes.”

Now, she was hopping back down the stairs, trying to get a pair of jeans over her legs as she went. “You want to get back in the action, don’t you?”

Weren’t fifteen-year-old’s supposed to be clueless, Dave lamented? “Yes, I suppose I do want to get back in. If I had still been working for the Agency, I would have been the first to get the phone call. I would have been at that scene now.”

“Let’s go, then,” she said, fastening the waist of her jeans.


“Let’s go and check it out. We can watch from a distance. You can teach me all about law enforcement and proper procedure and stuff.”

Former Agent Gordon hesitated. “You’re doing this only to keep me from moping about the house and staring wistfully at crime scenes on TV.”

Amy didn’t answer. She just smiled and threw him his car keys.

The condo was right on the edge of the ski slopes, so the sightlines were good. Crime scene borders had been established. Areas for the media and the public had been designated. Amy and Dave stood behind the police tape. Dave shivered at the chill winter wind that hurled itself down the ski slopes and through the seams of his wool jacket. Amy was in blue jeans and a thin, periwinkle-colored camisole. The top left her shoulders exposed to the brutal cold, but she didn’t seem to notice it.

Amy’s interest in curing Dave’s malaise had brought out the maturity in her. The frail teenage girl he had carried up the stairs last night was gone. In her place was a young woman, beautiful in her serenity as she took in her surroundings.

“This may sound like a stupid question, dad. But why is it so important to recover President Pressler’s son? When other people are abducted, the police come to look for them. But OTHER people don’t get THIS.” She waved an arm at the platoon of investigators that scurried below.

“That’s not a stupid question, Amy. Jacob Pressler is important because, with him abducted, the President’s judgement could be impaired. The President could be blackmailed into compromising the country’s interests in exchange for the recovery of his son.”

“Oh, so this isn’t about one person. This is a national security thing.”

Dave nodded.

She looked at the scene below. “OK, so, show me the ropes. What are they doing now?”

“Collecting evidence. The five black vans are not for people to ride in. They are mostly full of equipment.”

“What’s that thing he’s carrying in?”

“It’s equipment, for dusting for fingerprints.”

“How do you think the bad guys got him out of here without anybody noticing? I mean, it’s the President’s son.”

“I have no idea,” he replied. “We know that one of the Secret Service guards was taken out with a taser. So, that explains how they got him out of the condo. But how they secreted him out of the ski resort complex is beyond me. The abduction was reported almost as soon as it happened. Given the snow depth, it’s almost impossible to haul someone out on foot. And authorities immediately sealed off the only vehicle exit to the ski resort.”

She remained silent for a moment. The frigid wind whipped her richly colored hair away from her face. Unbothered by the temperature, her cheeks were red with youthful vigor.

“The police tape is annoying me,” she said. “They ran it around trees and ski poles all sloppy-like.”

“It’s an emergency, Amy. They didn’t take time to turn the tape on the perimeter into an art project. They’re professionals under great pressure. Not everybody has time to arrange things just so, as you always would.”

“If I went down there and fixed it myself, would that be totally ratchet of me?” she lamented.

He responded with a bewildered look.

“Rude,” she explained, rolling her eyes.

“Yes, it would be rude and disruptive to mess with their police tape, and you shouldn’t do it.”

“But everything is so out of order. It’s annoying the crap out of me. I mean, what about the vans? They didn’t park them straight.”

“Again, Amy, it’s an emergency. You’re being, how do you kids call it …”

“Anal retentive,” she replied happily, as if it were a virtue rather than a fault. “And what about the license plates on those vans? Four of them have letters in one shade of blue, but the fifth has letters in a slightly lighter shade. And the ‘G’ in ‘U.S. Government’ is shaped slightly differently as well.”

Former Agent Gordon peered through his binoculars. Any oddities in the license plate were lost upon him, just another reminder of how frighteningly precise the girl’s vision was. It made him feel inadequate. “Amy, I thought you came to learn from me, but instead you’re just using this as a venue for your anal retentiveness.”

She pouted at that.

The evidence vans were pulling away now, at a high rate of speed. “They are going straight to the airport,” Dave explained, “so that they can fly the evidence back to Quantico and start the analysis. Time is of the essence: with every passing hour, their chances of recovering Jacob diminish significantly.”

“There’s something weird about that van with screwy license plate,” Amy persisted. “It riding lower on its suspension as well.”

Dave peered through his binoculars. Now that she mentions it, he thought, that is indeed a little bit odd. Evidence vans never haul that kind of weight. He picked up his phone and called an old friend from his days at the Bureau – a guy who was now involved in crime scene investigation at the Secret Service. “Gary, it’s Dave Gordon … yea, I know this is a busy day for you … very quick question: how many evidence vans did you send to the Telluride crime scene?… uh huh … uh huh … So, four vans, then. What’s strange is that I am seeing five.”

It hit former Agent Gordon like a ton of bricks. That fifth van was a fake. The crooks and their captive haven’t left the complex at all. They had sat there, parked right in the middle of the crime scene, surrounded by an army of Secret Service officers, for three hours, their victim likely bound and gagged inside. Everybody had been so preoccupied with the collection of evidence that they hadn’t bothered to question the presence of an extra vehicle on a scene with dozens of police cars. And now these crooks were making their getaway, a simple drive out of the complex under the protection of the very Secret Service that was looking for them!

He turned to explain this to his daughter, but was met with only a gust of wind. She was streaking into the distance – a blur in the sky pointed directly at the fifth van.

She had figured it out before he did.

The commander of the mercenaries couldn’t believe it was actually coming together. The President’s son and two of his guards lay bound and gagged on the floor of the van behind him. In front, the four legitimate government vehicles were racing toward the airport. He had simply to follow them, peeling off only at the last minute for the helicopter that awaited him. In the back of his van, with the captives, were nearly two dozen of thugs armed to the teeth, packed in there like sardines.

He laughed to himself: it had almost been too easy.

He was still laughing when he first saw the blond girl in the side view mirror. She was running to catch up to the van. And her pace was out of this world. He checked the speedometer: 75 mph. And yet she had gone from a speck to a looming presence in no time. How fast was she moving? 100? 150?

He didn’t have time to answer the question for himself. He felt a slight thud, as if someone had jumped on the bumper, then heard the SNAP of a door being forcibly opened, and felt the rush of cold air. Somehow, she had opened the back door.

“You DO have him!” she shouted.

Then, she disappeared from view for a moment before her body came crashing down on the hood. He jammed on the brakes to throw her off, but somehow she stayed fixed on the hood. She thrust her arms downward, into the hood, smashing through it like it was a cracker. She looked up at him through the windshield before raising her arms. A SCREECH announced the tearing of the engine from its mounting. She held it in her hand as if it weighed nothing, and then tossed it into the woods.

He felt the van grind to a halt, the pedals suddenly unresponsive.

Flattening her hands on the top of the hood, she launched into a handspring that landed her back behind the van on foot. The RAT TAT TAT of his men’s guns filled the air. The mercenary commander exited the driver’s seat and circled around the side of the van. He watched as she grabbed two of his men by the nape of the neck and slammed them together with vicious force. CRACK went their bones as they collided.

Acting on instinct alone, he trained his automatic pistol on her: BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM. He watched the bullets impact her skin and bounce off. He watched them collide with her clothing, causing it to rustle slightly, but not tear. He watched her head turn toward him, the sky blue of her eyes dispassionate and business-like.

He would never learn that he was facing down a being called an Enhanced Female. He would never learn that she was bulletproof, faster than human vision, with the strength of a million.

He would never learn these things because, half a second after she turned her attention to him, his world went black.

Former Agent Gordon regretted his lack of a training regimen more than ever as he panted and wheezed up the mountain road. Extensive roadblocks erected after the abduction had prevented him from driving easily about the resort complex. He ultimately had to abandon the car and run.

By the time he got there, everything was quiet. The van was torn to shreds. A massive gash had been opened in the front section of the vehicle: only empty space and torn tubes remained where the engine should have been. The back doors of the vehicle had been torn off as well, and even part of the wall had been torn away. About two dozen well armed men lay on the ground, some of the groaning and clutching twisted body parts, others not moving at all. In the middle of it all stood his daughter, not at all winded, without a scratch on her. And in her arms was the teenage boy, unconscious, a red rectangle on his mouth where the duct tape had been.

“Are you OK?” he asked.

She nodded. Something in her eyes suggested that she was touched by the question.

That perplexed Dave, but this was no time for reflection. “Is he OK?” Dave asked, looking at the boy suspended in her powerful arms.

She nodded again. “Sleeping it off. His breath smells like chloroform.”

Of course, Dave thought. Of course they would use chloroform to keep their victim subdued while they hid for several hours at the scene. “How in the world do you know what chloroform is?”

“Books,” she replied simply, as if reference tomes like Jane’s Chem-Bio Handbook were on every teenager’s reading list.

She had been studying this stuff, he suddenly realized, trying to acclimate to her new role in the world. He had underestimated her – again.

Sirens could be heard in the distance, growing louder. The Secret Service was only now catching on to what his fifteen-year-old had figured out twenty minutes ago.

Dave surveyed the scene, littered with broken, struggling, and lifeless bodies. “Some of these men perished in the confrontation with you. Are you ok – emotionally? I did nothing to prepare you for something like this.”

She nodded, and then tossed her head back to get the wisps of strawberry blond hair off of her freckled face. “I did what I had to do. It was a national security emergency.”

Wow. Spoken like not like a girl, Dave thought, but like an Admiral.

“But Dad, there IS one thing you didn’t prepare me for,” she said as the sound of the approaching sirens intensified.

“What’s that?”

She looked down at the unconscious boy in her arms. “You didn’t tell me how cute he was.”

Jacob Pressler opened his eyes to find them staring at a cheap, acoustic tile ceiling. He was alive, he decided. Neither heaven, nor hell, would have a cheap, acoustic tile ceiling. Only a hospital would have that.

With a slowly growing feeling of elation, he was soon met by a solemn parade of important people – first the doctors that checked his health; then the head of the Secret Service apologizing for whatever lapse had allowed his security breach; then somebody else who informed him that his two Secret Service guards were alive; then his father and mother, known to everybody else as the President and First Lady. With his family, he spoke for a while.

“There’s one more person with whom we would like you to speak,” his father said in his usual oratorical precision. His father opened the door. “This is the one who saved you. We’ll give you a few minutes alone.”

Through the door walked the most stunning vision of teenage beauty he had ever seen. Her perfectly balanced complexion, high cheekbones, full lips – he could have stared at her face alone for hours, set aside the rest of her, which was equally magnificent. She was wearing an evergreen-colored surplice dress hemmed at the mid-thigh. It was classy and yet flattering as well. She was the type of girl you could show off to your mother, or to your fraternity brothers, with equal amounts of pride.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Fine,” he replied. But he was so nervous, his voice cracked. It had been five years since his voice had cracked. Why now? Why in front of HER?

She fiddled uncomfortably with the ends of her strawberry blond locks.

“Um, thank you, I guess,” he offered, stupidly. He meant to say that ‘thank you’ could never be enough. But it came out like he was ungrateful. Stupid, stupid, stupid – his mind screamed. TALK to her!

“Sure,” she whispered.

His mind froze. Trying to get words out was like trying to blow peanut butter through a straw.

Her face lost some of its color. And the corners of her mouth flattened in defeat. “You’re like, really important. So I shouldn’t take any more of your time.”

“Thank you,” he said. No, that’s idiotic, his mind screamed! You made it sound like you want her to leave!

And indeed, she was stepping towards the door, he realized. You imbecile!

“Wait!” he asked, too brusquely.

But it stopped her.

“When will I see you again? I mean, can I see you again? I mean, if you want to be seen again. Not like, seen, like, you know, seen on the street. But seen by me. I mean, talked to by me. Or we talk to each other.” Idiot, idiot, idiot, his mind screamed.

But she smiled – and it sent a tsunami of warmth across him. He tried to steady himself before he remembered that he was already lying down.

“Are you sure you want to see me again?” She approached the hospital bed, and placed one hand upon it, as if she were about to deliver terrible news. “I’m one of the Enhanced Females. You’ve heard of us, yes, even though it’s classified?”

Jacob nodded. His father had talked about them before.

“I can pick up a freight train like it’s a toy. I can run ten times faster than the fastest vehicle on earth. But it doesn’t matter because I can also fly ten times faster than the fastest plane. I can beat the best Olympic athletes. In Every. Single. Sport. I could level this whole hospital in a minute. I could kill you now and not a single court in the world would have the guts to prosecute me. Most guys find that intimidating.”

Jacob, whose head and lips had been nearly paralyzed to this point, somehow rallied. She didn’t care if acted cool, he realized. She wanted him to make a decision about what he needed, and explain it to her. He could do that, he realized, as his mind began to rise to the occasion. And in that moment, his was no longer a clumsy seventeen-year-old boy, but the son of a President – the progeny of a great orator.

“Intimidating?” he asked. “I was just conscious enough to remember you tearing that van apart. You moved like some sort of ballerina – fluid and perfectly balanced – but so awesomely powerful.”

She fiddled with her hair, bashfully.

“Your abilities, which are like, epic, happen to be combined with the fact that you may well be the most beautiful girl ever to walk the earth. So, yes, you’re a little intimidating. But I’ll have to get over that, if I ever want the privilege – the extreme privilege – of seeing you again.”

Her smiled broadened from the neat and courteous to the sloppy and happy. “Like a movie or something?”

“Not a movie,” he replied. “Something where I can stare shamelessly at your face. A picnic. With extra picnic baskets for the Secret Service.”

She giggled. “You won’t need the Secret Service when you’re with me. I’m more effective than all of them – combined,” she related, quietly. “Can you get used to that?”

“Only a fool wouldn’t. If I want to date an exceptional girl, I need to somehow adapt to her exceptional nature. If I can’t, you should dump me and move on.”

She giggled. “I think this is where you’re supposed to ask for my phone number.”

“Sorry, I was too busy being intimidated.”

That made her laugh, a musical, heartwarming sound.

Jacob let the momentum of the moment carry him into the big question. “Can I please get your number, Amy?”

Of course, the room had paper, but no pens. A pen could be used to stab the Presidential progeny, or some such thing, so the room had been cleared of them – as well as anything else that was useful.

He watched her remarkable eyes search the room and land on the steel serving tray that rested by his thigh. Her finger traced easy gouges in the tray, the steel buckling away from her index finger the way soil buckles away from the plough.

After that, she left, offering only a flirtatious giggle and a wave before opening the door.

She had saved his life, and now seemed willing to enrich it greatly with her presence. For three hours after she left, Jacob traced his fingers over and over through the steel plate, trying to figure out how he would hold his own in such a lopsided relationship. But at the same time, he took assurance from the gouges that this was – despite all rational expectations to the contrary – real.

Dave Gordon shifted uncomfortably in his folding chair, but tried not to show it. His adoptive daughter, sitting next to him, seemed more at ease, crossing her legs primly and centering her attention on the President with a disinterested, almost meditative gaze. She looked striking in her white pants suit and turquoise button-down blouse. And it was important to be so well composed: Amy had become quite the media darling since she had started dating the President’s son, and cameras were trained on her constantly. Attendance at speeches had become almost a weekly obligation for her.

Rumors abounded that his daughter was Enhanced, but the media kept it at just that – rumors. The NSA had frantically covered up the most dramatic of her exploits. And the Denver-area broadcast journalists that had watched their trucks become lawn decorations had shown little interest in telling the world that the rumors were very much true.

“… and opportunities for peace with our enemies, at what rare moments they emerge, must be swiftly seized,” droned the President.

It was a pivotal moment, to be sure. A the New Utopia terrorist network had been conducting increasingly deadly attacks on the United States for several years now. And then one day, without warning, an olive branch was extended. They wanted to end the hostilities. The President seized the opportunity. Terms were quickly drafted – some clemency from us, they surrender their arms – and voila! Peace had been achieved, and President Garrett Pressler instantly had a platform on which to run for re-election. It was an abrupt, bewildering turn of events, Dave thought to himself.

Even if the speech was a bore, the venue certainly was not. A fresh spring breeze warmed them as the waters of the river lapped at the edges of the newly planted grove of trees. The trees had been given by the President’s former adversaries, a sign of their new peace. And today was the dedication.

“That dude from media over there is reporting me as ‘a potentially troubled girl with a checkered past’,” Amy announced in a whisper. “He’s saying something about bad grades in school too.”

That was the problem with superhuman ears, Dave realized. “Ignore them. Go make a lot of money and you can buy their media company someday.”

“Sounds outlandish. Let me guess: you got that from another one of the short stories you read.”

“I’m taking my parenting advice wherever I can get it.”

“I don’t have to buy their company. I can get revenge right now. Watch.”

Amy pointed two fingers at a fire hydrant next to the reporter. She brought her fingers together, like she was trying to pinch salt. One hundred yards away, the fire hydrant collapsed until it was thick as a baseball bat. Water was everywhere, soaking the reporter, the camera, and the truck, and all its equipment.

“How …” Dave began to ask. He had never seen her do anything like that before.

She crossed her arms defiantly. “Not telling.”

He gave her a scolding look, as if to say that all fathers have a right to know about how their daughters crush fire hydrants.

“OK, fine, I used physics. In class we were talking about Newton’s stuff, right? And they kept going back to this thing: for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. So, if you’re an astronaut floating outside the space shuttle, and you push on it, then you BOTH move – the shuttle AND you, in opposite directions. That’s how it SHOULD work.”

“Okay …”

“So when I throw a large boulder, sure, the boulder can go flying forwards, but I should go flying backwards at the same time, right?”

“Equal and opposite reaction,” Dave considered.

“Right. But I’m not flying backwards. It’s like I’m anchored to the ground somehow. So I figured there must be some other force that I am creating, without even knowing it. Not a flying force, but something more flexible – something that can point in any direction.”

Dave squinted at the water gushing out of the fire hydrant. “You used a high school Physics lesson to figure out that you possessed a force that nobody else realized you had?”

She crossed her arms again, her smug smile rocking up and down again as she nodded.

Dave shook his head in amazement. The fact that she was studying somehow seemed more of surprise than her unending parade of abilities.

“I’ve been practicing a little, and I think I’m learning to control it. The force seems to be a projection of the strength of my muscles: so it’s not a separate strength, just a different way of using what I already have.”

Hearing a revelation like this felt like someone had poured that fire hydrant water right on top of the circuit board of Dave’s brain. All the connections had to be re-established. The implications – he couldn’t even begin to process. He needed space to think. “I guess we should listen to the President’s speech,” he suggested.

“It’s BORING,” Amy replied.

“Amy, we’re sitting in the front row. Three members of Congress offered to change their votes on key bills in order to get a seat this close to the cameras. We are witnessing a huge, historical moment.”

Amy flattened her smile in response. “I dunno,” she whispered. “After so many terrorist attacks, this peace ceremony came out of nowhere. It feels weird. In history class, we were talking about Wilt Chamberlain, how he jumped at peace too early. He came back from a single meeting with just a letter and said ‘This is peace in our time’ – and totally missed what Hitler was getting ready to do.”

“Neville,” Dave replied. “It’s Neville Chamberlain.”

She frowned. “That’s not my point.”

As the President’s, speech droned on, Amy’s attention seemed to sag. It was an hour-long speech just to dedicate a grove of trees. A fifteen-year-old could only stand that for so long, Dave suspected. And after that, the treaty and declaration would be ceremonially signed with twenty-five different pens, ensuring that his girl would be thoroughly bored to tears before this was over.

“That’s funny.” Amy’s eyes closed momentarily, is if to concentrate. And then they popped open. “I’m picking up the sound of fifty-nine Secret Service earpieces.”

The enormity of her skill never ceased being a hard adjustment for Dave.

“Weird thing is, twenty two of them are on a DIFFERENT conversation – talking about different stuff, using different code words. It’s as if one conversation involves the Secret Service, and another involves somebody else.”

“Amy, just because you sleuthed out one mystery doesn’t mean you have to be constantly finding new things to worry about. Try to enjoy the ceremony. We’re under the most intense security anywhere in the world.”

But she was ignoring him. “And there’s something else. The tree that the President is dedicating – the leaves on that one have a millimeter of brown on the edges. But the other trees are completely green. There’s something screwy about that tree.”

The difference between wariness and paranoia is a thin line, Dave thought to himself.

She squinted. “The trunk of that tree is a different temperature too. It’s warmer than the others.”

“Where are you going with this?”

She opened her eyes slightly. “The chatter is intensifying. Something is about to happen.”

“Garret,” she said, using the President’s first name, as if the interruption alone wasn’t insubordination enough. “You need to get down from the podium. Something is wrong.”

“Young lady,” the President hissed, his hand over the microphone. “You are interrupting a ceremony of global importance. It is YOU that need to leave the podium – now.”

“I’m telling you, I can sense things that you can’t. I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t like this. Walk off with me, now.”

Dave made a step toward the podium himself. “Amy, please, this is humiliating –”

But he never finished his sentence. Somewhere in the middle of his statement, he heard a CLICK – coming from the tree, of all places. In the strange way that your life might flash before your eyes before death, Dave’s mind had a flash of intense insight packed into a moment. Bombs go click. Something in the tree went click. The tree was dying. Maybe a bomb had been packed inside the trunk of the tree, disrupting it’s internal workings, leading the leaves to die. Maybe so much explosive had been packed in the eight-inch-trunk that it had changed the plant’s temperature. Maybe the wood of the tree would make a perfect casing – fragmenting into hundreds of limb-severing splinters when the explosive detonated.

Amy, apparently, heard the CLICK too. In the space of a second, she punched the President in the stomach, buckling him over. Then, she threw her body over him like a human shawl as a monstrous WHUMP filled the air. The tree exploded in a blinding blast, wood splinters flying everywhere.

People standing near the podium – guards and some officials – were cut down like wheat before a scythe. Dave’s view of the tree happened to have been blocked by a press attache, who took the entirety of the shrapnel that would otherwise have chopped into Dave.

As Dave struggled to regain his senses, his girl swung into action. She stomped a foot on the floor next to the podium – smashing a hole in the riser with a loud CRUNCH. She then pushed the President into the hole, as if she were sinking a billiard ball into a pocket.

With the President safely hidden, she turned and scanned the crowd. Dave saw her eyes and felt the blood drain from his face. There was a dead seriousness in there. She was getting ready for combat.

The twenty-two earpiece conversations that had been out of place quickly became twenty two fearsome-looking assassins with automatic weapons pointing straight at the President’s family in the podium area. In the same moment, the twenty-five chrome pens that had been carefully laid out for the signing got swept up into the hands of his daughter.

As the automatic weapons of her adversaries began to fire, Amy’s arm became a blur. She hurtled the pens desperately at the gunmen.

One of the gunman was about ten feet from Dave. Dave Gordon dove for the gunman with the reckless courage of a man who is not accustomed to thinking of himself as a parent. But before Dave could tackle the assassin, he heard a WHOOP in his ear and saw the assassin’s head explode. Amy’s weapon of the moment, one of the silly ballpoint pens, had hit the gunman with terrifying force and speed. In the hands of his daughter, even office supplies were deadly ammunition. He looked around to see the assassins – all twenty-odd of them, crumpling to the ground.

Former Agent Gordon would have been forgiven for thinking that the worst was over. Most terrorist attacks were simple, unitary actions. But not the New Utopians – they were a different breed. They planned their attacks in multiple layers – assault after assault after assault. And they often tried to purchase American-made armaments on the black market. For example, several years ago, the US had sold dozens of guided, surface-to-surface rockets to a supposed ally in the Middle East, only to later wonder whether those rockets had disappeared.

Well, now the US had an opportunity to see them again.

As the gunman crumpled to the ground, Dave Gordon heard a screaming sound overhead. The President’s motorcade, which was quickly being mobilized to get him out of there, went up in a series of deafening WHUMPs. Dave looked at the the sky above him and saw perhaps a dozen more black dots screaming toward the ceremony site.

It was death – from every direction. He was in the middle of saying a little prayer when a strawberry blonde blur answered it. The speed of her flight knocked him off his feet. She streaked across the sky at a pace his eyes couldn’t comprehend.

Her precision was unreal. CRACK, CRACK CRACK went the sounds of her fists against the metal casings of the missiles. Rocket after speeding rocket was ripped out of the sky, transforming from a streaking black dots to a falling piles of scrap metal.

The ceremony site was at the end of long peninsula, and the folly of this location only now become apparent to Dave. Pickup trucks full of mercenaries went zooming into view. They far outnumbered the good guys. And they cut off they only land retreat. Simultaneously, a handful of zodiac rafts sped around a bend in the river, just beyond the docks where the barges were docked. The assault would be coming from there as well. The bad guys far outnumbered the good. It would only be a matter of time before one member slipped past the President’s diminishing defenses and killed him.

Amy re-alighted on the podium. The President stuck his head out of the hole in the flooring, as if we was somehow going to take charge of the response.

“I got this,” she informed him. “You need to stay out of the way.” Placing a foot on his head, Dave’s fifteen-year-old girl pressed the leader of the free world back into the hole.

Assailants were bearing down on the ceremony site from all directions. Many in the audience were covered in blood from the action that had already transpired. Many were screaming, crying, scrambling. It was chaos – enough to bewilder any situation commander.

Dave saw his girl turn her attention back toward the river. As she did, he caught a good view of her face. Although Dave’s life was in danger, he couldn’t help feeling for Amy too. This girl’s adoptive father, her boyfriend, and the leader of her country were all within twenty feet of each other – all in the crosshairs of a horrific assault. Her entire life – nearly everyone that cared about her – hung in the balance. He had thought, after the countless banal arguments around the house, that he had seen his daughter angry before.

He hadn’t.

He had also thought, after seeing her countless feats of strength in the past, that he had seen the worst she could dish out.

He hadn’t.

As he looked at her face, the dramatic blue of her eyes cooled into a deep, merciless fury. She clenched her jaw, balled her fists, and in a WHOOSH, she was back in the air. Dave didn’t find her again until he noticed the small mountain of gravel. Two hundred feet across, it was supposed to be sitting outside the quarry. Instead, it was flying through the air.

His little girl was underneath it, her arms extended as if she were conducting a symphony. That telekinetic skill, he realized – she was already using it!

Once over the river, she hurtled the mountain of gravel rock downward with punishing force, producing a huge WHUMP. Dave felt his insides tremble from the vibration of the impact. It sent up a tidal wave of water, capsizing the entire approaching fleet of terrorist speedboats in an instant.

Then, she pointed her arm downward urgently. A portion of this submerged pile of gravel re-appeared from the water, perhaps several tons of it, and floated up to her. He saw his girl spread the fingers of one hand wide, and the gravel rocketed away from her. She had fired it downward, in a cone-shaped pattern, at the terrorists treading water below. The gravel hit the water at bullet speed, like grapeshot, turning several acres of river a zone of death.

Moments later, Dave saw the barge: 500 feet long, and a monster of a vessel. It had been docked on the barge piers near the gravel pit, and cleared of occupants for the President’s speech. Dave noticed it now because it wasn’t sitting at the piers anymore. It, too, was flying, and his girl was again underneath it. Her muscles showed only the slightest of strain, as if she were lifting a heavy textbook and not countless tons of rock and steel.

On the land side, some of the pickup trucks full of thugs were now among the innocent crowd. Three trucks had already stopped, their occupants had hopped out and were now on foot among the screaming crowds. A dozen more were only moments away.

Dave felt a shadow pass over him quickly, and he instantly covered his ears. Amy had thrown the barge, hard, and right at the dozen trucks that were still approaching. The barge passed only a dozen feet over Dave’s terrified head before it hit the ground.

The vessel impacted the earth with a bone-jarring BOOM. Dave was carried off his feet and spun in the air by the immensity of the impact. He came down in in a jumble, and looked up only in time to see a wave of earth rolling towards him, as if he was floating on an ocean of soil. Liquefaction, Dave realized – it’s what is supposed to happen in earthquakes, not on Sunday afternoons with your daughter.

Amy had thrown that barge at a low angle. Rather than embed itself in the earth, the object skidded and rolled. He could only imagine the sheer terror those thugs felt – in the moments before they died – to see this thing annihilating everything in its path before it got to them, too.

There were still about three dozen thugs dispersed amongst the crowds, shooting at Jacob, the First Lady, and the spot in which the President was hidden. Secret Service were falling right and left. Dave stumbled that direction, perhaps to tackle one of bad guys, when another shadow crossed his vision.

Looking above, Amy had telekinetically levitated dozens of refrigerator-sized rocks from the quarry. If half a quarry’s worth of rocks were a strain on her muscles, she didn’t show it. She splayed her fingers wide, like a pianist preparing to play. The rocks began to hurtle to earth at terrifying speed.

Dave had one gunman a half dozen paces to his left, and one the same distance to his right. In an instant, his world turned into an apocalyptic hell as boulders rained down near him with terrifying, artillery-like force. Dave could only dive for cover, bury his head in his arms, and pray. His eardrums shuddered from the noise. His insides quivered at the reverberations. His face felt the stinging impact of flying dirt, and then a strange liquid warmth. It turned out to be flying droplets of blood from the targets of Amy’s barrage. The rocks came down on them with such extreme power that Dave for a moment wondered whether he was still alive at all.

But then, things went quiet. And before long, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder – and saw the cuff of Amy’s white pantsuit.

He opened his eyes and sat upright on the ground. The area looked not like earth, but like an image returned by some distant planetary rover. The land was littered with craters – as well as an enormous barge. Assailants everywhere lay dead. But Jacob was alive. And so was the President, the First Lady, and hundreds of others who would otherwise have perished.

Amy sat next to her father, her striking white pants suit now covered in dirt and torn anywhere it had not contacted her skin. She glowered at her clasped hands.

“You in one piece?” her father asked her.

She shook her head, a grim look on her freckled face as she turned to him. “I broke a fingernail.”

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