Chapter 7: Team Dynamics
Disclaimer: If you recognize it from the movie, I don't own it.
Warnings: OC character (kind of) - I've given Freeze Girl a name and a character
Pairing: Warren/OC, Will/Layla, Zach/Majenta
Summary: Handling a problem
Author's Note: First posted at FF.net
Chapter 1 - MELINDA
Chapter 2 - THE STRONGHOLDS
Chapter 3 - MONDAY
Chapter 4 - DETENTE
Chapter 5 - INTERLUDE
Chapter 6 - JUST A DANCE
Melinda glared at him, throwing her hands up in the air.
"So sue me."
The group of friends quickly barricaded themselves behind a couple of overturned tables and watched for a few moments as the mob of students ran about in the room. The limited number of exits had everyone in a panic, and the gunman started focusing on the teachers. Warren nodded.
"He's trying to go after the biggest threats first. Who is this guy?"
Everyone turned to Ethan, who pushed his glasses up on his nose.
"I think its Gatillero. He can use any kind of gun – even if he has never seen it before. He disappeared fifteen years ago – everyone thought he had finally lost a shoot out. Usually, he sticks with robbing banks and stores. This isn't his type of action."
Maj shook her head.
"You mean, it wasn't – he was on mine and Will's list. Maybe he's changed his ways due to someone or something getting to him…"
"Yeah, maybe this dude is, I don't know, testing the waters or something?"
Layla frowned, narrowing her eyes.
"Testing for what though? It hasn't been that long since Homecoming…what could they be thinking?"
The four of them started talking while Melinda and Warren stared for a moment. Simultaneously, they shook their heads and moved to keep watch. This really was not the time. However, before either of them could say something sarcastic, Will broke in.
Everyone turned to him as he tore a cover off a nearby ventilation shaft. Melinda could hear Maj muttering.
"Again with the vents…"
Turning back to the group, Will started issuing orders.
"Maj, Ethan, and Zach – you three need to get out of here. Maj, you're the calmest, so you get out and go call for help. Call my folks and the NBS – they're more likely to listen to you. Ethan and Zach – you two go help funnel all of these people out of the school. Get them to the buses so Ron and the others can get them out of here. Move."
Without arguing, the three of them headed out while Will joined Warren, Melinda, and Layla at the barricade. The number of people in the gym was dwindling as people were either stunned or managed to get out. However, the teachers were all down, so Gatillero started focusing on the older or larger students. Will's eyes darted around the room while the others kept an eye on the villain. Warren inclined his head to the side.
"So, flyboy, what are we doing?"
A corner of Will's mouth curled up in a slight grin.
"I just noticed – all of the creepy vines and trees they used? They are actual plants. Layla, when I give the signal, use the vines to grab his weaponry, okay? You have to be quick – I don't want him getting them back or hanging on to them."
"Melinda, Warren – I'm going to move over to the other corner. When Layla grabs his stuff, you two attack with all your might. I'll come in at the same time from the other side and above. Please try not to fry or freeze me. It might not do any damage, but it still hurts like hell."
They nodded and moved back into position as Will snuck around. Melinda gave a tiny sniff and the other two looked at her. She smiled.
"I like Will and everything, but really, who would have thought that he could actually know how to sneak around? Doesn't that seem wrong for him some how?"
They both smirked, the expression looking a little strange on Layla's face.
I think we're a bad influence on her.
The three of them watched as the gunman continued taking out students. He lingered over each shot, playing with the students as they continued to bunch at the exits. Warren began muttering softly.
"What the hell is wrong with them? Get behind something. Duck. Fight back. Some of them can even fly. What are they thinking?
Before Melinda could say anything, Layla straightened.
"There's Will – he's ready."
Melinda had not seen any kind of a sign, but she was willing to go along with her, trusting in Layla's long-time friendship with the guy.
"All right then, girl, disarm the bad guy."
"Go to work, Hippie."
The energy level around Layla peaked, and Melinda could feel it – like electricity across her skin. The vines and plants that had been placed around the room to give a haunted, eerie feeling suddenly came alive. Gatillero's face contorted comically as the flora snatched his weapons away. Even as he snarled and moved to get them back, Warren and Melinda darted around the barricade to unleash everything they had.
The combined attack of fire and ice forced him back, but the man refused to go down. As their first assault died away, it became obvious he was wearing some kind of armor – and still had weapons. He brought his guns up to bear, and they dove behind columns for some cover. Layla peered around the table barricade at Melinda.
"Did we know he wore armor?"
Melinda shook her head, but gave a small smile.
"He was on Maj's list, not mine."
She looked over at Warren.
"Why do all of the bad guys wear armor?"
He slanted an exasperated glance at her, but she smirked at him.
"Aren't we supposed to bemoan the obvious advantage the bad guy has? I'm pretty sure I read that in the Superhero handbook."
"It should be Superperson handbook, and . . . there's really a handbook?"
"They've got a handbook for everything. I'll wager they decide to throw it out in our case."
A sudden thudding noise drew their attention back to the main floor just in time to see the gunman go flying across the room and into a wall. Hitting it with a distinct crunch, he slid to the floor.
Apparently too focused on us to watch for Will. I love it when a plan comes together.
Will motioned for them to approach the man from different directions. Spreading out, they advanced across the floor with caution in every step. That much they had learned from Royal Pain – down did not mean out.
However, Gatillero was not getting up for a while. The guys made sure to keep an eye on him while Layla darted out into the hallway to check on the others. Melinda began to check on the stunned party-goers. Some of them were beginning to show signs of life. She sighed in relief – the damage could have been much worse. What kind of attack was this anyway?
I do NOT believe I'm thinking this, but maybe Zach was right? Maybe this was some kind of test. Could Queen Gwen and her lackeys have been their only inside information? Was that why this attack by a long-vanished villain?
Layla ran back in with Maj, Ethan, and Zach. They had retrieved a pair of dampers from Principal Powers' office to help contain Gatillero. Melinda wandered back over to them as Will looked around. He frowned, taking in the slowly stirring figures and the ones peering in the doorways. With a snort, he turned to his group.
"So, the important question is – did we pass or fail?"
Melinda and Ethan nodded, with Warren only a moment behind. Ethan explained to the others.
"This had to have been a test, just like Zach suggested. There is no other viable option to explain the pure randomness of this attack. There was no gain, permanent or temporary, unless they were merely seeking to determine the progress or lack thereof…"
"The attack was made to see if the school had made any changes to security."
"Why didn't he just say that?"
Maj elbowed him in the side.
"He did – he just used a lot more words."
"Yeah, he can talk."
Everyone stared at him for a moment. Melinda bit her lip, but as she saw Layla and Maj both trying to hide their amusement, she just started giggling. That set the other two girls off. As they continued, slowing down only to break up once more when they caught each other's eye, Ethan and Zach just traded confused glances. Warren smirked and shrugged in Will's direction. Will grinned and shook his head.
"Don't get me started."
Finally, the girls managed to calm down and contain their laughter. The people around them began to climb shakily to their feet, and look around. Principal Powers and Boomer spotted the group with the downed villain and started over. Maj rolled her eyes.
Before the teachers had even reached them, however, another voice called through the gym.
Heads turned to see The Commander and Jetstream striding into the room. They came straight to the group and started looking them over. Melinda could not blame them for checking on Will first, but she found it impressive that their concern spread over all seven of them, including Warren. Once they had ascertained that not only were all seven kids really all right, but that they had also been responsible for taking down the bad guy, she could see the relief in both of them spreading across their faces. It felt strange – she knew Vedette cared for her, but no one had been so CONCERNED for her in a long time. She smiled at Jetstream as the woman touched her hair and looked at her in concern.
"Melinda, are you sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine. A little annoyed about this evening, but fine."
Jetstream raised an eyebrow and her face grew cold as she turned to the approaching teachers. That single look stopped them in their tracks. The Commander came up beside his wife and folded his arms over his chest. As Principal Powers started to say something, his glare silenced her. Jetstream planted her fists on her hips and stared at them, every inch a hero and a mother.
"Yes, about this evening…"
Uh, oh, Mama's not happy….