The following day, while on routine patrol, my earphone beeped with a direct message from Transcendant, one of the Tribunes of the group, who was on monitor duty that day. “Dyna,” he said, “we’ve got a hostage situation. Wells Fargo, corner of Fillmore and California. I ping you as being closest. Police are on site, but could maybe use you.”

“Roger that,” I said, turning to blast in that direction. “Four blocks away. Stay tuned.”

“Notifying them of your imminent arrival. Thanks.”

Seconds later, I touched down on the roof of the building. I stepped to the edge and looked down at the police, who were no doubt awaiting the arrival of a SWAT unit. I motioned to them that I was going in, then entered through one of the rooftop windows, quietly making my way down to the ground floor.

From my vantage point on the stairs, I could see the two would-be robbers. I’ve always wondered at the audacity of daytime bank robberies. Maybe they assume having hostages is their key to success, even though it’s usually the key to getting shot. There were several patrons and tellers sitting on the floor, with one of the gunmen standing over them. The other kept his hostage with him, who appeared to be one of the bank managers. I described the scene to Transcendant. “Thankfully,” I whispered, “he doesn’t have a gun held to the man. Just seems to be using him as a shield.”

“Do you have a shot?”

I ran the scenario in my head. A precise blast to take out the one holding the bank manager. Then, when the other turns to see me, I take him out. Quick and easy, no fatalities. Certainly better than letting the SWAT guys take them out permanently.

But then the fear hit. The fear, and the memory of killing Dr. Gray. What if this didn’t play out how I pictured it? What if I missed? What if I hit the manager, instead? What if my blast didn’t knock him out and he shot the guy? What if, in his panic, the other gunman shot another hostage? A cold chill filled my stomach.

“Dyna? Do you have a shot or not?”

I did. It was easy. Three seconds and all this would be over. “I’m… not sure.”

“Don’t take it unless you’re certain.”

I was sure. “Right.”

Outside, I saw the SWAT van pull to a stop. Heavily armed officers piled out. Some, I knew, would be coming in the same way I had. I had to act soon.

Below, the man holding the manager moved further away from the street, deeper into the room. If anything, this made things easier for me. There was no way I’d miss him.

“I have the shot,” I murmured.

“Excellent,” Transcendant said.

I raised my arm, pulling a perfect line. I had the shot. I did. Seconds ticked by. Energy built up, ready to be set free. But the pounding of my heart was practically heavy enough to throw off my aim.

Footsteps behind me. Quiet. Slow. SWAT.

Take the shot, I told myself. Take it now!

A gun clicked behind me.

* * *

I’m startled by the click of a SWAT officer’s gun. My blast erupts, thrown off by my surprise, and misses completely. Both robbers turn and begin firing on me, but are cut down by the SWAT team. Two dead, because of me.


I’m startled by the click of a SWAT officer’s gun. My blast erupts, given more energy by the adrenaline rush of surprise, and the robber goes down, entrails spraying from a hole through his midsection. The other robber turns and fires on me, but hits a SWAT officer before he’s cut down. Three dead, because of me.


I’m startled by the click of a SWAT officer’s gun. My blast erupts, thrown off by my surprise and given more energy by the adrenaline rush, and the bank manager’s head explodes. The officer fires upon the man holding the body and riddles him with bullets. The other gunman opens fire on me and the SWAT team. They return fire. A stray bullet strikes a hostage in the chest. The gunman takes out one of the officers before he’s shot through the head. Five dead, because of me.


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