“I’m telling you we have time to stop at Starbucks,” Ben said, stepping over the first in a line of concentric temporary barriers erected outside of the White House.
“No, remember, they had a bigoted barrista that called Mira ‘ISIS,’” Sonya said, doing a hand stand atop the barrier then landing on the other side on her feet. “We’re boycotting.”
“Then McDonalds. For flapjacks. Or did they say something offensive about Cris’ pancake ass?”
“I’m telling him you said that.”
“We don’t have time,” Rui interjected, rolling over the barrier, “because we don’t know when exactly Raif’s going to make his move. If we aren’t in place, all we’re going to do is show up looking like the second wave of an assault.”
“I’m not sure I usually completely understood what you go through with him,” Sonya said, stroking Rui’s arm.
“He’s not my babysitter,” Ben objected.
“And yet he’s constantly stuck cleaning out your drawers,” she replied. “Can a lady get a hand.” Rui and Ben exchanged a glance, grinned, then gave a very understated golf clap. “You two deserve each other.”
“I’m choosing to take that as a compliment,” Ben said. Rui bent down on one knee, laced his fingers and held them out to Sonya. “Sure, just because my shoulder’s eight inches higher than yours, I’m the one who has to get stepped on.”
“It’s also at least as broad as a staircase, if that helps.” Ben put out his hands as Sonya stepped first on Rui’s hands, then on Ben’s, and finally used his shoulder to roll over the top of the stacked barriers surrounding the White House. “You good here?”
“You remember enough of the plan?”
“I’ll get by. Take care.”
“You, too. Give me thirty alligators. I’m going to try something… strange.”
Ben nodded, and turned towards the barrier. He could feel eyes on him before he even heard the sounds of rustling cloth or the clinking of military gear as federal agents surrounded him. “On your knees, hands laced behind your head. You are being arrested for trespassing on federal property.”
Ben turned, slowly raising his arms. None of the men were wearing identifying insignia, or even recognizable uniforms. “I’m pretty sure this is a public sidewalk,” Ben said, “and that somewhere inside this pillow fort of a bunker is the People’s House.” The ground shook hard enough the circle of men around him lost their balance and fell. “Now,” he turned, and slashed his arms at the barrier, which crumbled as the earth beneath it shook violently.
Ben heard the clack of a safety sliding off behind him. “Would have swore that was more than thirty al-” the agent yelled as hot plasma struck his gun, and dropped it onto the pavement. Ben stepped through the hole in the barrier, then commenced shaking the ground until the entire thing crumbled behind him.
Rui landed beside him on the lawn, jogging to kill the last of his momentum. “So what was this strange thing you just had to do while feds tried to use me for target practice?” Ben asked.
“I turned gaseous, then shoved my atoms as far apart as I could. I was vapor, but also functionally invisible. Meant I didn’t have to go as far to take to the air without raising alarms, but coalescing enough to become a plasma was harder than I thought. Took an extra couple seconds.”
Sonya ran at them. “I think we’ve got their attention.” A string of Secret Service agents were running at them across the White House lawn.
“And our getaway?” Rui asked.
“Well, I can’t control my boomlets, just give them a rough timer before they go, so there was a degree of guesswork. But if my count is right-” the first of them exploded from underneath the lawn, knocking an agent onto his back amidst a shower of dirt and grass. “This isn’t going to seem kind in the moment, but,” she flung an explosive, with as fragile a field around it as she could. It landed beside the agent, and knocked him away, just as a larger explosion tore a foot-deep hole in the lawn where his face had been.
“Right,” Rui said. “Let’s scram, before things get too heavy.”
“McDonalds?” Ben asked.
“We can stop there,” Rui said. “But if Rox has to call us back in for support, we drop everything. Even if that means you don’t get to finish your pancakes.” “Duh,” Ben said. “That’s why they have the little to-go boxes.”