Gestalt had been on a hundred ops. They were experts in the field. Highest success rate in the whole of the Checquy . When it came to competing with Vultures over targets they very rarely lost. Having multiple bodies gave them an advantage few could understand much less accept.
The target had a defensive EVA. They excelled at evasion almost as much as Gestalt excelled at apprehension. It was two days of tracking before Gestalt noticed that the Vultures had caught wind of the target. Their op moved into high gear. Competing with the Lugat’s lackeys just as much as they were competing with the target’s EVA.
They met her in an alley in London’s West End behind a theatre. Two on either side to limit her escape routes. They held up empty hands as they moved toward her. She was younger than they’d thought. The first sighting put her around fifteen or sixteen, but the girl wasn’t more than twelve. She looked terrified.
“You don’t have total control over it right now, do you?” Gestalt used Eliza to talk to her. Girl’s typically felt safer around other girls. “Molecular relocation is a hand gift when you can use it at will, but I suspect you can’t do that yet.”
“I can !” She backed up against the alley wall, looking between them fearfully.
“If you can, why haven’t you used it yet?”
The girl didn’t answer. Her eyes darted around for any sort of exit. Gestalt had her boxed in.
“Come in with us. We can take you somewhere with other kids just like you. Somewhere they can teach you how to control your EVA. So that you can use it whenever you need it.”
They’d focused entirely on the target. A rookie mistake . They should’ve dedicated a couple pairs of eyes to the alley entrances. The sound of the gunfire was enough to give the girl what she needed to use her EVA. They divided their attention. Two bodies looked for the target while the other two looked for the source of the gunfire.
They moved for the Vulture holding the gun, but two more were running back down the alley. They were just starting to move after them when a distinct pain became noticeable. With each heartbeat, the pain grew more intense until it was crippling. They couldn’t figure out which body was the source right away. Four hands went to the spot on their back where the pain was worst. Only one came away with blood.
They knew they needed to call it in. They should grab their phones, but they were in such pain that their thoughts had blurred. They managed to pull one of their phones from their pocket and dialed the first number they saw.
“Gestalt? Have you got her?” Myfanwy’s voice came through the line clear as a bell. A ray of sunshine in the heart of a storm.
“Agent down,” they managed through clenched teeth. “Medic.” They let out a whimper of pain. They couldn’t really feel their Teddy body just then. That was scary.
“Are you okay?” Myfanwy shouted something at Ingrid Gestalt couldn’t make out through the rush of blood in their ears as they tried to get a sense of their Teddy body. “Gestalt, talk to me!”
They moved to their body and began what emergency medical treatment they could remember. They took Alex’s tracksuit jacket and used it to staunch the bleeding. There was no exit wound which meant the bullet was still inside them. They’d been shot before, but not like this. Not where it counted.
Their compartmentalization was shot. They couldn’t drive themselves back to the office. They climbed into the ambulance with the medics and rode back to the office in silence, working hard to overcome the panic that was coming with their inability to feel their body.
Teddy was taken back to surgery as soon as they reached the Checquy . They needed to stay with him, but no one understood that. Their lack of comprehension had never infuriated Gestalt quite as much as it did in that moment. They couldn’t feel themselves . The only comfort they’d had in the last hour had been the ability to see and hear their body breathing.
They stood in the waiting room, pacing. Trying desperately to find their injured body. Trying to figure out if they were alive or dead. And if they were dead, did that mean they’d have this pain in them for the rest of their lives?
Alex was the only body sitting. There was a slightly stronger link between the twin bodies. They thought if they concentrated hard enough, they could find Teddy again. Myfanwy sat beside them on the uncomfortable couch in the waiting room and grabbed their hand in both of hers immediately. It was a relief. To feel something in every body that wasn’t excruciating pain it was like heroin. It allowed a moment of peace where they could breathe steadily with each of their bodies.
“What can I do?” She squeezed their hand between hers. “Anything you need. I want to help.”
What they needed was for the doctors to let them into the OR with their body. They needed their Teddy body to wake up and live. They needed things that Myfanwy had no way to give them. She stared up at them with her big, blue eyes. She was scared, too.
“Hold me?” They should have been embarrassed at the simpering way they begged. They were in too much pain to care.
Myfanwy’s hands released theirs and she pulled them to her chest. Her hands rubbed up and down Alex’s back. Each pass over the spot the bullet had struck Teddy lessened the pain in their three conscious bodies. They clung to her like a child clung to its mother. They should have felt stupid. Silly. They only felt safe.
The surgery took five hours. They put them on a morphine drip and set them up in a private room. Myfanwy stayed with them the first night. And the second. On the third day, feeling returned to that body and they opened their eyes again. Relief ran deep. Even the slight ache was a comfort. They were alive.