Lorden turned to face Whitney as Elenia fell to the floor. Whitney directed the tasers at Lorden but he had already released a huge swathe of fire. He felt the temperature in the cramped underground room soar as the fire blazed violently from his hands.
But he had to keep Control. Oakstaff hadn't taught him for three weeks for nothing. He brought the attack to an abrupt end, expecting to see nothing but a congealed crisp where Whitney had been.
She was still standing. And the plasma guns were red hot.
And at once, Lorden felt a stabbing similar to Elenia's mind attacks. And now Lorden knew where Elenia had been getting her practice -
- Whitney was slowly breaking down his defences, the defence he had thrown up in front of her attack was crumbling like a steel wall before a battering ram -
Then something twigged in Lorden's panicked mind -
"Hey! You're supposed to be on our side!"
And suddenly Lorden was not scared, but angry.
He had been angry the night he had killed two CTOs in the back alleys of the RedLamp district ...
Anger unlocked his powers.
And suddenly, Whitney's attack was like a candle in a rainstorm. He destroyed it with the ease of blowing it out. Whitney was defenceless before his rage.
And Lorden dived into Whitney's consciousness.
He'd expected to see the complex web of thoughts, memories and emotions he had sometimes seen behind Elenia's defences - but instead he saw an infinite labyrinth of 1s and 0s. Streams of dots and dashes blazed into his head, beeping, flashing, effervescing, blinding him with reams of information -
- and the data was orbitiing a sphere of convalescing magic, that was at once solid, liquid, gaseous, opaque, transparent -
- seeking an escape from the binary bedlam, Lorden opened up the sphere, became enveloped by it - saw the true nature of the magic, the real identity of its originator -
- and Lorden suddenly rushed backwards out of Whitney's consciousness, the sphere reforming, the digital threads spinning into darkness, and Lorden opened his eyes.
Before Whitney had time to react, Lorden flicked the tasers out of her hands. She tried to retaliate again, but Lorden was too fast. He focused all his energy at the sphere of magic, in which he could see Dagger's face.
Whitney's body fell like a marionette, the shell of the girl she once had been. Lorden's breathing was heavy. The electric blue fire had died from Whitney's eyes like a spent plasma bulb.
Lorden turned to Elenia. She was still alive - he could see her breathing. To double-check, he pressed his fingers to her wrist. There was still a pulse.
But he couldn't stay here. If Dagger had turned traitor, Ceridwen was in trouble. There was a strange ache on his chest, though - seeing Elenia lying on the floor, vulnerable and defenceless, a single strand of hair resting delicately on her cheek -
It was time to go and save Ceridwen, and sort out this terrible mess ...