Enki’s punch didn’t toss Ryan into the air. It lobbed Ryan, sending him a twisting arc that tumbled him end over end floating through the air with the grace of a drunken chicken. This flight took him up and way until his motion was arrested by a brief but solid interruption in the form of the gas station wall.
Ryan’s everything hurt. The wall of the gas station wasn’t drywall but solid concrete, and Ryan had felt it break behind him. Ryan was keenly aware that if he had still been fully human, that blow would have killed him, as opposed to scrambling his brains.
The shock should have at least cleared Ryan’s vision, but instead, the clouds at the edge grew stronger, thicker. Tendrils of it started creeping further into his line of sight.
“No. Not now. I won’t-”
“You won’t do shit.” Enki had crossed the distance and again had Ryan by the hair. “You won’t do any fucking thing, you hear me?”
He tossed Ryan upwards by the hair. Ryan had never before considered the pain of being tossed thirty feet into the air by a massive hand grasping him by the hair, but it was a unique experience he would be in no hurry to repeat.
What was in a hurry, however, was gravity, tugging Ryan back to the ground. His reunion with the Earth was cut short, however, by Enki’s foot – a kick which sent Ryan tumbling across the pavement until he skidded to a stop at Crystal’s feet.
Their eyes met, both of them filled with pain. Crystal’s didn’t perfectly mirror Ryan’s, however – his were full of fear, hers with a blend of fear and rage.
Before they could share any words, however, Ryan was sliding along the ground, pulled by an invisible force towards Enki. He scrabbled at the ground uselessly with his fingers.
Think, Ryan, damn it. Enki was toying with him, dragging him slowly. Once he got ahold of Ryan again, he’d toss him or punch him again and Ryan didn’t know how much longer he could hold back that darkness in his eyes. He needed an edge, he needed to…
One hand stopped scrabbling at the ground. This has to work.
“I’m gonna slap your face in, son. I’m going to fucking rip your throat oooooOOF – ” and it was Enki’s turn to get an unexpected one way trip into the air. Ryan lowered his foot from where it had connected with Enki’s gut.
Squeezing the nanoverse had cleared his vision some, but putting that much power into the kick had the black tendrils already starting to resume their path across his vision.
Enki was getting up from the small crater he had landed in. “Whoo boy. You got a spark there. Some of that good old fucking gumption. Course, you’re still Nascent. Can’t have a whole lot of fucking juice. Gotta be running on empty, really. So go ahead, boy. Hit me with your best shot.”
Ryan rose to his feet and extended his hand. The storm still roiled above, building with potential. He began to twist his hands, the right one modifying variables, adjusting positive and negative charges until –
With everything that would come later, if he survived, Ryan would do some amazing things, see some incredible things. But nothing would ever compare to the rush of the first time he hurled a lightning bolt from the heavens and struck Enki with 500 of mother nature’s very best megajoules of electricity.
The light seared his retinas, the thunderclap obliterated his vision. Enki vanished behind that flash and that rumble as the world exploded. If he screamed, Ryan couldn’t hear it, twisting his left hand rapidly back and forth.
Enki came bursting out of the light, slamming a fist into Ryan that sent him flying back into the gas station.
“Damn, boy, you’ve got a bit of a fucking punch.” Enki approached slow and heavy. His skin and hair were singed. “I felt that, I really did. But it doesn’t change a single thing. Not one single fucking thing. I’ve been drawing power off my nanoverse since humans first crawled out of the mud. I was one of the first.” He was right next to Ryan, and crouched down, nearly spitting in his face. “Do you really, honestly, fucking think you could fight me, could outlast me?”
Ryan let out a pained chuckle. “I didn’t…need to outlast you. I just needed to hold you long enough…to free her.”
Enki’s beady eyes contained a glimmer of something besides the murderous rage he’d felt before. Just a glimmer, but seeing the fear in those tiny eyes was immensely satisfying.
It was even more satisfying seeing that fear turn to shock as a foot connected with the side of Enki’s head, driving it into the wall.
Crystal reached down with a blood-soaked arm, grabbing Ryan and helping him to his feet. “Good bloody show, love. I just knocked his senses out, though. We gotta move before he wakes up, yeah?” Ryan nodded, and they rushed back to the door. Crystal was limping from the wounds in her legs, and Ryan was gasping with pain. Behind them Enki bellowed with rage, pulling his head out of the wall with immense, groaning effort.
The door was still open, and the pair dove through. It slammed behind them and began to vanish.
“We made it. Bloody hell, we made it…oh no, not again.”
Ryan heard Crystal’s voice, but it didn’t matter. The irrefutable fact of their safety sung like a song in Ryan’s thoughts, and the effort to hold back those black tendrils was finally overwhelming. For the third time, he passed out.