"Target approaching 5th St," came the whisper in her mind.

She stopped and looked up at the corner street sign. 5th Street. Her blood ran cold. She shook her head and kept moving, pulling her coat up around her ears and up onto her head to block out the rain and the voices.

Three blocks until she reaches us.

Now she was afraid. She had to shut her imagination up and get home. But home was three blocks away. She stopped and fiddled with something in her pocket, trying to pick up stray thoughts. But there was nothing, only the relentless pounding of the rain on the concrete.

Heart rate accelerating, she turned left and headed two blocks away. And there it was. She could almost hear their confusion as if they were standing right next to her. Target has… changed course, came the thought. At the next corner she turned back the way she had come. What is going on, why isn't she going home? She bent to tie her shoe, waiting for the inevitable. What did the boss say her power was again? She tensed the muscles in her legs.

Shit! Mind-reader!

But by then she was gone, tearing down the street at a break-neck pace, hood flying back off her head, hair slicked to her neck.

She's on to us!

Shit, gotta catch her!

not paid enough for this.

Her pursuer's thoughts exploded in her head and she tried to block them out. She turned down the 6th Street alley, sneakers splashing water up her ankles. Hurdling a trash can she heard, almost caught up, and blew around the corner and ghetto hopped the fence. Seconds later she heard a man curse as he encountered the links.


She dove to the side as the soldier sailed past. She lashed out a leg and took his knees out and kept moving. She skirted Tenth Street when she caught a sly thought about a trap. She had to fight her way past two more soldiers on 11th. Luckily, they telegraphed their fighting strategies as she flew past, leaving a broken wrist and a torn ankle ligament in her wake.

But by the time she rounded the corner, she was surrounded and they were starting to figure out not to think their motions out loud, or at least, not as loud. But thankfully they were untrained at blocking their thoughts. Her movements were a blur as she turned to block strikes and blows.

She couldn't block everything; she was only one person on ten. But no guns were blazing, no knives stabbing towards her which made it easier to move. She could focus solely on the fists coming at her face. But it also made her blood run cold because no heavy weaponry mean that this wasn't an eliminate mission. Clearly they didn't want her dead. It was a capture and take down mission. She refused to go back in a cage. She'd have to escape which meant taking them out or breaking free. It didn't look very likely that that was going to happen.

But she needed to focus now as a fist caught her cheekbone. The thoughts were jumbled and rushing at her.

Focus on taking her down!

All at one, our thoughts will overwhelm her.

Left hook to the chin to drop her.

Take knees out.

Finish this!

The last one came from one of the first voices so she suspected that was the leader of this operation. She stepped out of the way of the left hook and jumped the sweep kick but caught a punch to her right temple and a roundhouse kick to the stomach. It doubled her up just long enough to have another kick take out the backs of her knees, sending her to the ground. Then they were on her like a pack of wolves.

Two of them twisted her arms behind her back while a third clamped handcuffs down on her wrists. She head-butted one of them and got a blow to the stomach from another soldier for her efforts. On her knees with her hands bound, there wasn't much she could do to stop it.

"You little bitch!" the man she'd head-butted shrieked. His hook caught her jaw. As he reared for another punch an authorative voice boomed, "STOP!"

A shadow approached her. She could only faintly see the person coming at her since one of her eyes was swelling up. Dizzy as she was, she decided looking at the ground was probably the best idea. Two shiny black shoes stopped in front of her. A hand grasped her chin and pulled her face up, forcing her to look at him.

She found herself looking at a dark-skinned man with an eye patch and a stern expression. "She's the one," he said and let her chin go. "Let's get out of here, people before the neighbors wake up."

He turned and started to walk away, trench coat swishing and dripping with rain. She heard him think, now that was too easy. And she grinned to herself as the soldiers hauled her to her feet. As soon as the soles of her sneakers touched the pavement she moved.

Using the men holding her as leverage, she shot her body down and back. There were twin pops as her shoulders dislocated and she pulled her hands in front of her body. She wiggled her shoulders as if stretching as gave her neck a pop, giving the befuddled strangers a grin worthy of the trickster god himself. Everything became a weapon then. The dumpster was an obstacle, the fire ladder a deterrent, the water a method to blind opponents. To men quickly learned to stay away from her legs as she lashed out. An elbow to the gut, fingers in soft tissue, heel to the stomach. She was a blur. But it wasn't enough and she knew it. She just wanted to give them a fight.

The white hot spark of pain in her shoulder and the echoing discharge of gunpowder was the first indication that she wasn't going to get out in one piece. She staggered, vision blurring as the soldiers moved away from her. The dark-skinned man held the gun level, wisps of smoke curling off the barrel. She reached her hands to her shoulder and pulled out the dart, blood pouring down her arm. Her vision was swimming and she hissed in pain as the dart fell from her fingers, dripping the neurotoxin that was now pumping through her veins.

"Do not make me shoot another, miss," he said quietly. She gave him a glare and ran. The second dart missed her, as did the third. But by then the toxin had slowed her movements just enough that the fourth dart pierced her thigh and she staggered, falling to her knees. She viciously yanked the dart out with a snarl.

No, she pleaded silently, no, not again.

"Bring her," the man said. Head swimming, she was barely able to throw a punch as two soldiers lifted her under her arms. Weakly, she tried to kick. No, no, no! she thought and flailed in her guard's arms.

One of the soldiers crossed her fading line of vision. The man she'd head-butted smiled at her with a sadistic gleam in his eye. " Sweet dreams, sweetheart," he sneered and slammed his fist into her face.