So that was what Eld Fen looked like without his Gift. Seeing a face on the man wasn't entirely surprising considering the nullifier. Hearing him introduce himself by an unfamiliar name and casually agree to the maniac's terms before he even heard them... that was surprising."Fen--what are you d--what are you doing?"
he asked, his voice cracking in disbelief.
Toby lowered his gun a few inches, but did not put it away as he listened with growing contempt. Perhaps he should have given some real thought to their position and their options, here. But Rei was dead. And he really, really didn't like Sweet Johnny. "Go to hell. How about this counter-offer: --"
he started through a clenched jaw.
And then, well. Toby obviously should have kept a tighter grip on Hel.
But it was Specter who seemed to have demolished any possibility of resolving this peacefully.
Whatever the mercenary's intentions, Specter might have just gotten Toby, for one, killed. He already felt blind without his Gift. Now the smoke meant he was actually blind, standing only feet away from Johnny's dangerous ride. Both the young woman Hel had taken a stab at, the man who used to be Eld Fen, and Bellataire himself stood in Toby's path if he headed directly toward the ranch house. Plus the man claimed to have a nuclear weapon and his flippant laughter about the death of Rei seemed to suggest he that despite his "job offer," he didn't value their lives so highly that he wouldn't use it.
Then again...Toby didn't see many Wanderers taking this man up on his deal. So maybe getting straight to a fight was for the best.
...Minus the smoke.
That just wasn't helping Toby right now at all.
His sightless stumble to try to find a less tactically damning position collided him with the sycophant who used to be Eld Fen.
The citrus shell of Johnny's nullification field made Spire feel momentarily pleased for no good reason he could determine, since Mina and Dawn weren't exactly making his day the best with their puppy-guarding the prisoner and declaring her a no-kill zone.
Then he felt strange, the way a headcold makes one's focus muddy.
Dawn's paranoia wasn't unfounded. Among Spire's first thoughts upon hearing that Dawn could not read his mind anymore was a flood of half-concocted violent intentions he generally kept from his surface thoughts unless he knew the little mind-reading freak was sleeping.
How liberating. If this phenomenon was the prelude to a fight of some kind, maybe he should kill her. She didn't make the pedestal for his least favorite Wanderers, but her Gift made her a nuisance, and Spire certainly wouldn't dislike slicing open her throat and holding her face dowm while she squirmed and bled out...
...Damn. He really needed someone appropriate to kill.
No. She was useful at the end of the day.
But there were probably more important issues to worry about.
He experimented. He looked at Oren and tried to force a backlash of her Gift. Previously this had scrambled her brains complete with paychic nosebleed. Now, nothing. If they had all lost their abilities, they were pitifully vulnerable.
Spire's lingering meant he heard Johnny on the loudspeaker on his way up the stairs, and didn't make it outside until the air was thick with smoke.
Hel was not someone who took to unwarranted physical contact very well, even when she was in an entirely even emotional state. She didn't like being grabbed without her approval, and certainly didn't like being scooped up and carried off, even when she was otherwise completely calm.
At that moment, Hel was not calm. She had already passed alarm and into panic, and being snatched up by a stranger was enough to throw her entirely over the edge. The girl screamed and struggled, doing her very best to bite, scratch and hit any surface she was presented with. "I'm- not going BACK!"
she cried, possibly the loudest vocalizing she'd ever done in the presence of the Wanderers.
And that was bound to attract attention.
Spire didn't have enough context to know that the person who grabbed Hel meant to help her. He had no reason not to take her cries of "I'm not going back" at face value. Naturally, given what scraps he had heard through the loudspeaker, he assumed the person who had scooped up his pseudo-daughter wanted to sell her back to Erubesco.
So, naturally, he followed the sound until he could see Specter's silhouette like a--well, like a specter. Circling around behind the man, Spire whipped the tooth of a short guthook blade into the mercenary's back. Unless Specter did something unexpected, the horizontal slash would pare the muscle between ribs, but not deeper, coming to rest with the hook perilously close to the spinal cord. His other hand gripped a tight handful of Specter's collar for leverage."Unless you have a strong desire to be a paraplegic, I recommend putting her down, gently,
said Spire with a calm smile.
(Collab with @vitofthevoid