Note: The next update is a whopper, more like 3-5 updates in one; as such it might be late, but I’m hoping to have it up no later than Monday (and hoping further to have built up a cushion this weekend, too).
Stacey counted down from five on the fingers of one hand, then picked up a bullhorn. “This gathering is unlawful, and has been hereby designated a riot. Anyone remaining will be dealt with harshly, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Law-abiding, human citizens are encouraged to leave the premises in an orderly fashion; those remaining will receive the same treatment, regardless of status.” Stacey threw the bullhorn over his head, where it was caught by a subordinate, and started to swagger forward. The police line followed his lead, inching towards the protestors.
“Defensive use only,” Mikaela reiterated loudly, and Tucker broadcast the thought to the entire crowd.
Every twelfth man in the advancing line fell back a few paces, shifting to raise grenade launchers that had hung from slings, and fired. The grenades didn’t exit the guns, and instead stayed within the barrels, where they started to leak tear gas into the police line. “Masks!” Stacey yelled, and they quickly covered their faces with protective gear.
“Nice work, EMKs,” Mikaela said.
“Batons,” Stacey yelled, pulling his off his belt. He was within striking distance of the students’ line.
“Defenders!” Mikaela yelled, with Tucker amplifying it telepathically.
Mayumi stepped from between them, with Demi on her side, part of a front line extending the length of the protest. Some of the Breed now standing between in the way of the advancing federal agents carried improvised shields or barriers, some made from trashcan lids, others formed from ice; one of the EMKs had built his out of a stop sign, with the lettering pointed at the feds. The big man Mayumi called earlier brought his baton down on her shoulder, and it shattered into splinters. “Metal bones,” she said, staring up at him angrily.
Stacey swung at Demi, who ducked, then snatched the baton from him and broke it in half in her hands. She handed both pieces back to him, and he hit her on either side of the head with each piece. She glared at him as lightning struck the street a block away. “Tougher than you look,” he said.
“Funny,” she said, “I was thinking the opposite; you act a lot tougher than you are, and your insecurities are definitely justified. Probably inadequacies, too.”
Stacey screamed, reeled back to throw a punch; Mayumi stepped into it, and his wrist made a wet snapping noise when his hand hit her head. “Says she’s got metal bones,” the big man said to Stacey.
A defender on the other side of Mayumi took a beanbag round to the chest, and fell to the street, hacking up blood. “This isn’t working,” Demi said. “Their sadism more than matches any potential shame that might curb it.”
“What do you think?” Mikaela asked Tucker, ducking a chunk of Stacey’s broken baton hurtling through the air.
“It’s a powder keg,” Tucker said. “The students and their family want to hit back; it’s infectious– it’s all I can do not to crawl over Mayumi and start kicking. And the feds are itching for any excuse to take the gloves the rest of the way off. Seriously, you look at the wrong one of them cross-eyed and they’re going to start firing rubber bullets at point blank range- Christ, and they’ve been practicing aiming for the head with them. Can I turn a few of them off? I probably can turn them back on again when it’s over.”
“That might just give them the excuse they need,” Mikaela said, as another defender down the line fell under a barrage from a baton. “But we’re getting overwhelmed here. This is bad; we don’t have the numbers to passively resist, and our defenders are getting beaten to shit. Your brother?”
“Still not answering his phone, which could mean nothing, because he regularly either forgets to charge it or leaves the ringer off, or could mean the cavalry never made it into the country.”
“Same. Except he’s marginally better about answering his phone, usually.”
“Can you reach out to them telepathically?”
“Generally, no. Trying to find one head a hundred miles north is… it’s more like a bunch of piles of spilled toothpicks, rather than a haystack. But not while coordinating a peaceful- duck.”
Mikaela didn’t move fast enough, and caught Stacey’s elbow in the face. Blood streamed down her face from both nostrils. “I can beef up the numbers,” Mikaela said.
“They aren’t exactly expendable,” Tucker said.
“Yeah,” she said, sniffing to suck back in some of the blood, “but they don’t know that.”