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"Sorry, princess. No can do." He said, pushing her hand off his shoulder and facing her. "What are you gonna do when you get there, huh? It's not like you can fight them. You certainly won't be able to get your friend to fight them." He said. Melissa planted her foot down and stared into his eyes. "I don't know what I'll do, but I have faith." She said. "Faith?!" He asked. She continued to stare at him. "I believe there's still good in you. You can help! Be redeemed." She said, an idea forming in her head. "I might not be able to, but YOU can." She said. He threw up his hands. "Here we go..." He said. "No, really!" She said. "You want to put your hopes in me now?! Be my friend now? Ever since I first met you, you treated me like I was a disease!" He said. Melissa felt as if his words were stabbing her heart. "You tried to get out of hanging out! Avoided talking to me! I genuinely needed help getting around the school, you know that?" He said, crossing his arms. "I'm sorry. I was a jerk! I thought you were some sort of weirdo!" She said, then cringed because her point still wasn't getting across. "What? A weirdo? A creep? A thug? Let me tell you, nothing new there...." He said, kicking the ground. He sounded defeated.
Liam kicked the dirt. That's all he'll ever be, huh? A low life... She wasn't wrong though. He did watch her a couple of times for reports. Tried to get closer to her. Nothing worked...She was always suspicious. Why is she willing to trust him now? For the past few weeks, Manipular had been controlling him. Speaking through him, acting through him, even controlling his thoughts. He almost had total control. Something kept him from it though. Liam didn't know what but something in him gave him the strength to resist. "You care about her...." Phoenix's voice rang in his head. He looked back up at Melissa. She was staring down at the ground. Tears in her eyes. She looked at a loss for words. Probably worried about Blaze Boy and her friends. He reached out his hand but decided against it, letting it fall back to his side. "How would I defeat Manipular anyway?" He asked, making her look up at him. "With the help of Flight! And Hunter!" She said. "I'll even try to help!" She said. He let out another humorless laugh and turned to stare at the town. Smoke and fire. Sirens were wailing loudly. "You forgive me?" He asked, an eyebrow raised. Melissa nodded furiously. "Do you forgive ME?!" She asked. He blinked in shock. That was a first. People only ever expected him to apologize.
Melissa stared up at him. He looked shocked. He closed his eyes and laughed. "Fine. If you want to do this then let's do this." He said holding out a hand. "But don't expect a lot." He said. She grabbed her hand and he picked her up. "I recommend closing your eyes. It'll be less disorienting." He said. Suddenly wind practically pressed her into Liam as he ran. Her hair was flying back, and her eyes pretty much felt like they were glued shut. He eventually slowed down, then stopped. Melissa felt dizzy. Liam set her down and helped her steady. She looked and saw Samantha on the ground, and Flight struggling to get to Manipular as Melissa's mom got in her way. He had control of her. "Where's Hunter?!" She exclaimed, looking around and trying to see through the fire. "That's gonna have to wait." Liam said, taking off past her and towards Manipular. Melissa shook her head. "Sam! Sam!" She said, rushing over to her friend on the ground. She looked fine, just asleep like before. "Wake up! Don't make me slap you!" She half-joked. "Am I really gonna have to slap you?...." She asked, staring down at her friend. "I don't think slapping will be necessary..." Melissa looked over her shoulder. "MR. GREEN!" she said, jumping up. He had a hand over one of his arms. "Strong Claw took care of AfterShock. Others are on their way. Also, you can call me Robert. Mr. Green makes me feel so old..." He said. He bent down and used his ability to lift Samantha and lean her up against a nearby building. "Now, to get you out of here." He said. "NO! I have to find Hunter! That lady, his mom! She took him!" She said. Mr. Green stared down at her, then glanced over at Liam and Flight still fighting Manipular. "I think it's best if you stay here, Melissa." He said. Melissa looked over, making eye contact with Liam. Liam looked over at Mr. Green, then back to her. He gave her a thumbs up and mouthed "I got this." Melissa turned back to Mr. Green. "Robert. I need to go find him." She said firmly. Mr. Green sighed. "Okay then." He said. Slowly her feet lifted off of the ground. Mr. Green held onto her elbow as they rose up. Melissa tried not to freak out as she watched the ground grow further and further away from her. "My guess is that they're over there." Mr. Green said, nodding over at the school. A large bout of fire shot up into the air. "R-right." She said, making the mistake of looking down. "I've got you." Mr. Green said as they floated over all the buildings. Melissa nodded, swallowing loudly. They landed a building away from the school. "What exactly are you planning to do?" Mr. Green asked. "I guess we'll see." She said. She should barely make out the figure of Hunter and his mom through the fire. "Okay..." She said. "What?" Mr. Green asked. Melissa took off into the flames, jumping over debris and through the smoke. SLAM. "Melissa?! What are you doing here?! You need to leave!" Hunter said, grabbing hold of her arms. "Me? How did you even get here!?" She asked. "I was taken here by some flying super that works for my mom." He said. "We need to get back to the base, we need to-" She was cut off by Phoenix. "Awww, isn't that sweet." She said, her shoes clacking against the pavement. Both teens turned. "Your girlfriend was worried about you, how cute." She said. "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to tell her to scat because we have places to go." She said, brown eyes dark. "I'm not going anywhere with you." Hunter yelled. A large plume of fire whirled past their heads. Hunter pulled Melissa out of the way. "I said, you're coming with me." His mom growled. The fire in her hands was bluer than Hunter's. Didn't that mean it was hotter? "No, he's not." Melissa said, staring his mom, jaw firmly set. The mother's lip curled back. "You should know to stay on your boyfriends' mother's good side." She said, raising her hands. Hunter tried to run in front of her as his mother threw fire at them. Melissa closed her eyes and felt nothing. No heat. No burning. She opened her eyes. The fire seemed to roll off of her. Hunter looked all around. The fire kept coming but it didn't even touch them. Melissa grabbed his hand. "Remember the story in the Bible? When the men were in the furnace?" She asked. Hunter blinked at her. "Yeah..." He said. "The fire didn't burn them..." The fire died down and his mother stared at them, shocked. "What?!" She exclaimed, looking at them. A bright light turned on and aimed at them. "This is Strong Claw of the H.O.F. Moriah Gardens, stand down!" A radio voice said from a helicopter above them. His mother looked back and them and let out a frustrated yell. "That was...." Mr. Green trailed off as he made his way towards them. Men in suits dropped down from ropes and ran to detain Phoenix. Hunter stared at Melissa still shocked. Melissa let out a sigh of relief and smiled at him. "I think it's over." She said smiling. Hunter smiled back and embraced her. "Yeah...."