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Chapter 5

Five… Four… Three… Two… One.”

The moment the countdown elapsed, the four ballista guns launched their missiles into the air; the projectiles flying with a grace and accuracy that could only have been AI-guided. They soared through the air for some seconds before beginning their descent right towards Adolf.

“You may want to take cover for this one,” Dennis said to Megan who immediately huddled closer as he pressed the screen of his wristwatch and commanded, “Blast protection,” and immediately, what looked like a force field covered the both of them.

With bated breaths, Megan watched Adolf stare down the missiles coming towards him, like he could just will them away with his mind if he wanted. But just as they were a few metres from him, he wrapped his wings around himself in such a manner that no part of his body was left on the outside.

The first missile collided explosively into the wings, then the second, the third, and the fourth; all of them generating enough force to create a crack in the solid ground; and even in the safety of the force field, Megan and Dennis felt the aftershocks of the explosions when they passed through.

The shocks were the only things that would result from the missiles strikes though, as Megan herself soon discovered to her utmost surprise when she looked up to see Adolf unfurl his wings after the attack and he was totally unhurt. Natural wings definitely can't do that, she thought.

Meanwhile, Adolf was smiling unabashedly where he floated. He looked towards where Megan and Dennis stood and winked at them like they could see it- they didn't, by the way- before charging forward to meet the guns with a smirk that seemed to say, “My turn.”

“Drones, activate attack sequences,” the AI commanded when it sensed Adolf move and the drones immediately swarmed around him in a such a way that it would be difficult for him to move in any direction without coming against more than two of them at a time.

“Open fire,” it commanded and they did.

Adolf held a wing in front of himself as a shield to deflect the bullet and used the other to guide himself towards the ground in a glide.

Watching the attack, Megan observed that whenever Adolf’s wings were hit, the contact spark would morph into a rainbow wave that travelled through the length of the wings to lodge at their edges. Okay, there's definitely nothing natural about those wings, she concluded without a doubt.

“What exactly are Adolf's wings?” she asked Dennis.

“Bionics,” he replied. “Heavy titanium plates infused with a defensive-offensive technology that even the Army hasn’t begun to conceive of its existence yet. They’re trillions of dollars in worth and thousands of tons in weight.”

And somehow, a shadowy division of an even more shadowy covert department of the UN decided to give them to a teenager to play with, Megan added in her head, the thought perplexing her.

But speaking of which, she asked, “How in the world is he able to carry the wings then if they weigh as much as you said?”

“His real power, of course.” He pointed up for her to watch.

Megan looked just then and saw that after a while of the drone assault, Adolf’s wings had begun to glow very bright as the rainbow waves weren't just at the edges now but running erratic throughout the surfaces.

And then, he released them.

The release had actually started in his muscles. Adolf had tensed them in such a way that they somehow created a visible strain on the wings themselves, causing all the waves to congregate at one point; and then, he relaxed, and with an explosion, the waves shot out of the wings into the drones; visibly frying them on the spot.

EMP, Megan realized. The wings were equipped with an EMP which the shots by the drones fuelled until they reached a critical point when Adolf then shot them at the drones. Wow! Sci-fi knowledge to the rescue, she marvelled at her own quick deduction of the process.

But EMP aside, Megan realised that the "real power" Dennis was talking about hadn't been showcase yet, at least now in a manner that she understood. Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait very long for a proper explanation.

As soon as the drones were down, Adolf started towards the ballista guns just as he had thought to do initially. Sensing his approach, the guns began to pulsate with a blue light blinking rhythmically at their sides, and Megan knew that the AI was prepping them for another missile assault.

However, the assault wasn't to succeed as Adolf got to the first ballista gun closest to him a few seconds before it could be ready and yanked it effortlessly off the pillars like it weighed nothing to hurl it into the second closest to him; the two ending up in a fiery heap.

Superstrength, she realised then what Dennis had been tying to make her understand before; Adolf's real power was his incredible strength that made him able to carry the wings the size of a very large truck and use them in whatever way he wanted.

Megan saw him with new eyes as she watched him slice through the third ballista gun with his wings on his way to the fourth.

Anyway, the AI seemed to learn that the current sequence of action would lead to Adolf’s success and it made a move that Megan was sure as hell was pure improvisation.

Thing is, on seeing him come, the target system on the ballista gun locked in on him and released a pulse energy that although didn’t do any damage was still enough to knock him several yards backwards; gifting it those precious few seconds it needed to complete the missile reload.

Then, the AI made a public announcement like the first time. “Missile will launch in...”

With the countdown started, Megan had thought that Adolf would choose to shield himself like she had seen him do the first time, but what she saw was a determined stance as he stretched his wings as far as it would let him, even forcing the very edges to their fullest length; and then, he flapped.

The force generated by the sheer mass of the wings was so much that it propelled him forwards with a loud whoosh; the tech in the wings going on to work to give him more focus in his thrust towards the gun.

The countdown continued. Five… Four… Three… Two… One…

The moment the missile launched, Adolf brought his right wing in front of him and met the missile and its explosion; and still the force was enough to keep him going forward regardless. He made the fist as he approached the ballista gun and it; splitting it into two right down the middle.

It was then the AI finally rested. “All opponents destroyed. Training sequence completed,” it announced and the ground around the space opened up to admit the drones and the pillars with the guns.

“So, how did I do?” Adolf asked when he landed before Megan and Dennis, his wings furling to retract into a thin silver line in his back that had made her thought they disappeared before.

Well, that explains the bionics, she thought and smiled to herself.

“You did great, Adolf,” Dennis remarked and went for a fist bump with him.

But he turned to face her too, awaiting her response. For some reason, he's eager to hear from me too, she realised.

“You did great, Adolf,” Megan finally said after a while, smiling and nodding her approval.

Truth be told, she didn’t have an idea in what way she should be assessing him; nor was she an expert to, obviously. But he wanted her appraisal so she gave it.

“But Adolf, you’re very strong,” she said after, going for what was actually on her mind since she witnessed what he did. “How are you that strong?”

“It's actually because-”

Whatever response Adolf wanted to give died in his throat when he looked to Dennis and met a stern glare. “This isn’t the place nor the time,” he said, the statement undoubtedly for Megan.

Not one to be bullied into silence though, Megan made to start an argument on where and when exactly the right place and time would be, but no sooner had she poised her lips to form the words that dust was suddenly raised around her and she felt a momentary electrical tingle on her skin as something whizzed past her.

“Looks like the party was started without me,” a voice came from the dust and she looked up to see a girl also around the same age as Jay and Adolf.

The girl was mixed race; Japanese-American, if Megan’s deduction was correct. She styled her hair in a purple bob and wore a black leather jacket and jeans with black leather boots. Her whole outfit was adorned from top to sole with bead-like crystals that shimmered a shade of purple just like her hair’s whenever she moved.

So, there's the next part of the tour, Megan knew immediately; a speedster.

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