Chapter 57: Dragon
I fired behind me down the hall, sending the Hunters ducking around the corner. All of them except Chen. He just kept coming.
I turned another corner and set out at a full run for the castle. Emerging from the halls, I stopped in an open area where the Three Chasms stretched out between me and the castle. The Hunters were almost on top of me, Chen at their head.
I gathered the courage and ran hard for the first chasm. Chen wasn’t far behind. A supernatural burst of speed and strength sent me diving across the chasm head first. Twisting my body around, I drew my weapons and shot back at the Hunters who jumped the chasm behind me. My body continued to twist until I faced forward again. I hit the ground in a roll and came up on my feet sprinting.
As I reached the next chasm, I burst speed once more and leapt, spinning around to fire. The remaining Hunters fell. All except Chen. I hit the ground, rolled to my feet, and raced for the third chasm—the one too large for me to jump.
Ahead, just before the chasm, lay a knee-high wall of jagged rock that served as a small barrier. I burst my speed well before the chasm and prepared to jump. Just before my feet pushed off the ground, I separated and jumped with my spirit body.
The extra burst of momentum from the separation propelled my spirit body through the open air to the other side. Behind me, my temporal body hit the ground and smashed into the ridged wall, keeping it from tumbling into the chasm. I felt a dull pain transfer from my physical body to this body. That was going to hurt later.
I hit the other side and kept running. A grunt sounded behind me as Chen barely made the jump, hanging just off the edge of the chasm behind me. How was that even possible without powers?
He pulled himself up and continued the chase.
I made it to the giant castle wall and went right through it in my spirit body. Chen would have to take one of the gates and find his way to the keep to catch me. That’d buy me some time.
I ran straight for the heart of the castle—the throne room.
Wall after wall thrust me into darkness for slivers of a second each time, then back into the fiber-optic-lit halls. At the keep doors, I willed myself solid and pushed them open, making a path for the Formula One car.
I climbed in, flipped off the kill switch, and hit the start button. The engine roared to life, echoing through the colossal chamber. It wouldn’t take Chen long to find me with the engine blaring through the halls.
I slammed it into gear and dumped the clutch. Tires spun, heated, and grabbed the stone floor, launching me forward. I shot out of the keep, flying through the dragon’s ribcage.
Ahead of me, Chen stood in the middle of the dragon’s mouth, blocking my path. He wore an eerie smile like he knew something I didn’t. I pushed the accelerator, expecting him to move.
He didn’t budge. He wanted me to rush him.
I was about to slam on the brakes when the monk who’d healed me burst out of black smoke and crashed into Chen, taking him down.
I stayed on the gas.
“Move!” I yelled, as if they could hear me in my spirit form. They were about to get mowed down.
The monk looked only a little better than when Ian and I had left him. Chen hammered him, then sent him shooting through the air with a stout kick. The monk disappeared mid-air, then reappeared, retaining his momentum, and slammed into Chen, plastering him against the wall of the dragon’s mouth.
Another second and I’d kill both of them at that speed.
The monk hooked onto Chen. The second the race came in contact with his leg, the two disappeared into black smoke.
I shot out the dragon’s mouth and turned north toward the chasms.
A ramp-like stretch ran along the third chasm’s edge, parallel to it. Jesse and Reilly were going to be ticked if I lost their car down the chasm pulling a crazy stunt like I was about to.
The speedometer crested a hundred miles an hour as my tires hit the ramp. I punched the button that flattened the car’s aerodynamic spoilers, minimizing downforce, then launched over the chasm at an angle. The car sailed through the air toward the other side. As the four tires slammed down, the back right one missed the ledge. Momentum popped it up over the rock, jarring the car for a split second. I hit the button again for downforce and the car stuck back to the ground, regaining control.
I locked up the brakes and let go of solidity causing my spirit body to fly from the car and slam into my physical body. Darkness overtook me for a moment as my two forms reconnected. When my eyes snapped open, all I saw was a race car sliding sideways toward me. I gasped and threw my arms out in front of me.
A second later, the car came to a stop inches from my outstretched arms. I let out a relieved breath.
Aches and pains coursed through me as I stood. I pulled off the steering wheel to squeeze into the car, then put it back on.
I slammed it into gear and raced out the far edge of the chasms, back toward the halls of the Old City.
Sliding through the first turn, the car kicked out its rear end. The tires grabbed, reining it in, and the car accelerated forward.
Soon, I was careening down the longest hall in the Old City—the rounded tunnel.
Up ahead, a group of Hunters blocked the way. Their weapons flashed, and bullets tore through the car’s carbon-fiber body. I released the steering wheel, pulled my guns, and let loose a flurry of bullets. A few Hunters dropped as my shots hit their kevlar vests, and several of the others fell into defensive positions.
I was coming up on them fast, so I holstered my guns and hit the gas, easing the steering wheel to the right. The car climbed up the curved wall of the tunnel. 109 mph would stick me to the ceiling with the car’s aerodynamic downforce. I was doing 117.
I slipped an incendiary grenade from my belt and pulled its pin as the car centered at the top of the tunnel. The grenade dropped, then seconds later, my car passed over the Hunters. In my rear view mirror, the grenade exploded as it ripped through the men, throwing them down the hall in flames.
I pulled the wheel right and walked the car down the wall until it found the ground again, and slid through the next turn. Ian wouldn’t be far away…unless he was dead.