Chapter 29

It was a scene of devastation.

Concrete slabs were fractured from the impact of forces they were never meant to endure. Furniture was overturned, shattered and scattered across the cold, silent room. Even in the dim emergency lighting, the wreckage was enough to terrify the sturdiest of warriors.

Amongst the debris, a shadow moved. At length, a hand emerged from beneath the rubble and a figure crawled to the surface, sobbing and confused.

One by one The Brotherhood unravelled themselves from the rubble that was once the Superhero League's headquarters and staggered to their feet. The enemy was gone, leaving them shattered by defeat.

O'Shay crept out from his hiding place, eyes darting this way and that. Hawk began dry-reaching in the corner while Brains fell back against the wall clasping his bleeding head. Simmi staggered through the mess dazed, calling out to Gill.

"Is everyone alright?" Gyan asked, throwing off an tabletop and scanning over the wreckage. One by one, scattered voices confirmed their presence.

"We're not all here," Gyan said when the roll call was over. "Gill? Vis? Jackhammer?! Can anyone see them?"

"There!" Brains screeched, pointing to a shadow half buried in the rubble. The Brotherhood converged, rapidly throwing the debris aside to uncover Gill, face down and motionless; the back of his t-shirt charcoaled from the fluoro lights he'd been thrown into.

"Give him air!" Gyan cried. He checked for a pulse then rolled Gill over. Two empty eyes stared up at him. Gyan fell backwards and Simmi screamed, shaking the limp body vigorously until Gyan pulled him away.

"Don't." Gyan whispered.

"Noooooo!!!" screamed Simmi. "You were supposed to protect us!"

Simmi pulled himself free and punched his teacher in the face. Gyan hit the ground, unprepared as Simmi landed a second blow to his face. Brains and Hawk dove into the furore, pulling Simmi off their tutor.

Simmi screamed again, piercing their hearts with the agony of his loss. They let the tears flow. The adventure of leaving school seemed a lifetime ago. Death had never been a part of the deal.

Gyan picked himself up from the floor, clutching his bleeding forehead. He fought back a wave of nausea.

"Simmi!" Gyan snapped. "Get a hold of yourself! There's still two of us missing. We have to find them before…"

"Jackhammer's gone," O'Shay sobbed. "They took him. He was unconscious and they carried him out…" His voice trailed off.

Gyan felt a jolt of panic. If Jackhammer was gone, where did that leave them? He couldn't let the students see his fear.

"Then that leaves Vis," he said matter-of-factly. "If he was invisible when he was knocked unconscious he may not be able to revert back again. He could be anywhere. We can grieve later, but right now we have to find Vis and fortify this place."

The troupe stared at him in disbelief. He could see the accusation in all their eyes, but he couldn't let his own grief show right now or he feared it would get the better of him.

"Now!" he shouted. "We save the living and mourn the dead later. Move!"

All except Simmi snapped into action, knowing the teacher was right. The dispersed across the room, moving cautiously through the rubble to find Vis. The room echoed with the sound of the debris underfoot and Simmi's uncontrollable sobs, but no one dared speak.

They shuffled through the room fearful of where they tread and what they would find. No one wanted to be the one to accidentally break Vis' neck by taking a wrong step. Their heads reeled. First Jackhammer and Gill, and now maybe Vis. A third loss would be too much to bear.

In this room alone there was enough wreckage to warrant foreign aid. From the furniture to the concrete floor, walls and roof, nothing had escaped ruin. Vis could be anywhere, unconscious or dead. And deep down in each of them, The Brotherhood they knew that they too should be dead. They were online alive because the ambush seemed to only be interested in Jackhammer. The last of the Superhero League was now in Seduction's evil grasp.

With Jackhammer gone, Gill dead, and Vis missing, none could see any hope beyond limping back to the school and its relative safety. Yet the fate of the world now rested in their own inexperienced, clueless, defeated hands. God help the world.

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