The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing. It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so. To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce. Please enjoy Phil Phorce, Episode 7.
Quirk tackled Phoenix to the ground as the sphere whizzed over his head. He scrambled behind one of the several mounds scattered through the room, blowing on his fingertips. Her skin had been hot to the touch.
Phoenix joined him behind the mound. “You didn’t have to tackle me,” she hissed. “I was dodging.”
“You’re welcome,” muttered Quirk, digging a packet of spheres out of his pocket. “Any of these look familiar?”
“The last one is to counteract against the pillars,” said Phoenix, pointing to the opaque blue sphere at the bottom. “You use it on yourself.”
“I’ve been avoiding them anyway,” said Quirk, glancing at the metal pillar to his right. It didn’t touch the ceiling— it was made out of the transporter metal the Blanks commonly used, meant to separate a person’s molecules and reassemble them somewhere else. The blue sphere must keep the molecules from separating.
“I think the red one immobilizes.” She dug into her pocket, but came out empty-handed. “I must have lost my instructions.”
“You got instructions? All I got were the spheres.” Quirk pulled the red sphere out of the packet and looked at it. “If this one only immobilizes, I have to use two spheres against my opponent. Immobilization won’t take them out.”
“No, but it would take them out of play long enough for you to use them as cover or something,” said Phoenix. “Hurry up and decide. The other team is getting closer.”
Quirk leaned out from behind the mound, but jerked back as a sphere flew past his face. It splattered orange on the floor.
“We have to attack,” said Phoenix. “Give me a sphere.”
“Which is exactly why we can’t keep defending. Give me a sphere.”
“Don’t waste them,” said Quirk, giving her two spheres. “These four are all I have left.”
Phoenix grabbed them and ran for the next mound over, flinging a sphere. Quirk turned to run in the opposite direction and came face to face with Percival. Without thinking, he smashed his red sphere into Percival’s neck, then shoved the immobile Vice-Phil backward into the transporter pillar. He vanished, leaving only a pile of dust behind.
Unable to celebrate his victory, Quirk ran for another mound. The only sphere he had left was the blue one. It would protect him if he touched a transporter pillar, but it wouldn’t last long, and he couldn’t use it to attack. That was the good thing about people dying in battle— at least they left behind bodies to salvage. All of Quirk’s fallen teammates had taken their extra spheres with them as they left the room. He should have grabbed Percival’s spheres before pushing him into the pillar.
If he could catch a sphere, though… Quirk shook his head. That would be nearly impossible to manage without it splattering over him and exerting whatever power it had. He needed another plan.
He needed to rob someone.
He popped up from behind the mound and looked around. Phoenix was huddled behind her mound as spheres flew by— the other team seemed to have an endless supply. As if to prove the point, Sebase ducked out from behind a mound and threw a sphere at Quirk. He dropped back behind the mound. The sphere flew overhead and splattered green on the transporter pillar that had removed Percival from the fight.
Quirk frowned. Something was happening to the pillar. The green liquid seemed to act like acid, chewing away at the pillar as if it were melting butter. A piece of metal began to peel away from the pillar, but hardened as soon as it broke contact with the liquid. Quirk looked at the strip of metal and looked down at his last blue sphere. He grinned.
A few moments later, with blue liquid smeared all over his hand, he dodged between mounds, moving toward the place he had last seen Sebase. In his wet hand was the strip of metal, as long as his forearm and flat. It had come away easily from the pillar.
Ducking behind a mound to avoid a sphere, he crouched there for a moment. Phoenix was still pinned behind her mound, but if he could get to the other team, she could be free. He ran out again and made it to another mound. On the other side, Sebase crouched. Quirk grinned and launched himself around the mound, already swinging with his metal. Caught by surprise, Sebase flung his arm up, and with it a sphere. The metal hit the sphere midair, splattering it, just before it hit Sebase’s arm. He vanished, and Quirk ran for the next mound.
The next man— a Blank— saw him coming and threw a sphere, but Quirk batted it away with his piece of metal. The spheres didn’t vanish as he hit them, but the the metal was flat enough that it deflected the drops of liquid away from him. Seeming to panic, the Blank took out a sphere and fumbled it, accidentally smashing it against his own skin.
No, not by accident. This sphere was blue.
Quirk swung the piece of metal, aiming for a spot of skin that hadn’t been touched by blue liquid, but the Blank blocked it, the liquid counteracting the power of the metal. The Blank grabbed it, twisting it out of Quirk’s grip and throwing it across the room. Quirk threw himself around the nearest mound, berating himself for failing to collect unused spheres from Sebase before he had taken him out of play. He had nothing left.
He glanced around. His dodge behind the mound hadn’t gotten him out of safety— it had brought him into view of the other members of the opposing team. Phooey. One of them flung a red sphere at him.
A ball of fire came out of nowhere and consumed the sphere mid-flight. Phoenix stood, out in the open, hand outstretched and smoking.
Immediately a voice came over the loudspeaker, echoing through the room. “Game over. Winner: Green Team. The Red Team breaks the rules, and thus forfeits the match.”
“Oh, come on!” Phoenix raised her arms in disbelief. “How did we break the rules?”
“I don’t think fireballs are allowed,” said Quirk, wiping his hand free of blue liquid.
“They let you walk and run and stuff,” said Phoenix. “Those are your natural abilities. Why can’t I use my natural abilities?”
“Because they’re unique,” said Jordan, entering through the single door at the end of the room. He was followed by all the team members who had been taken out of play, Percival among them. “That would be like allowing you to bring your own catapult to the next match.”
“I was seriously considering that,” said Percival. “It was a good match, though.”
“It’s amazing what you’ve managed to do with soap,” said Quirk. “I didn’t recognize any of those from the Dyslex stuff we collected.”
Jordan shook his head. “We engineered all new kinds. It’s actually quite useful, and the matches are fun.”
“I like the transporter pillars, too,” said Quirk. “Very handy.”
Percival rubbed his neck where he had hit the pillar. “That process actually hurts a lot.”
“Not nearly as much as it used to.” Jordan led them through the door into the viewing room, where Isaac and Feiron sat with Steve.
Phoenix grabbed a towel from a rack near the door and wiped off soap splatters. “I want a rematch.”
“Definitely,” said Percival, grinning at Quirk.
“Not today,” said Quirk. “We have to get going. What time is it?”
Percival glanced at his watch and grimaced. “We’re late. We should have gone half an hour ago.”
“We have mirrors here,” said Jordan. “You can use those.”
Quirk nodded. “Isaac, Feiron, it’s time we got going.” He walked over to them and touched Isaac on the shoulder. “Isaac, are you sure you want to do this?”
“You mean, am I sure I want to go home to see my family for the first time in a year?” asked Isaac.
“Well, yes,” said Quirk. “I guess when you put it that way, there’s no question.”
“There never was.”
Quirk swallowed hard. “Let’s go, then.”
“One thing,” said Isaac. “I don’t… I don’t want all the Phils to go.” The last words came out in a rush, as if he wasn’t sure about them.
Quirk turned. “Why not? They’ll be helpful.”
“My own reasons,” said Isaac.
“Okay,” said Percival, giving Quirk a look. “Who do you want to go?”
“Myself, Feiron, Percival, and… Quirk.”
“But— you can’t!” said Phoenix. “We all want to help.”
“My own reasons,” repeated Isaac.
Phoenix turned to Percival. “Think of the drawings on your apartment walls when you get back. Think of your fish, chopped up for a sushi dinner. This will not end well.”
Percival looked at Quirk. Quirk sighed. “Phoenix, this is Isaac’s thing. If he wants it, we have to give it to him.” He nodded at Isaac, even though the prince couldn’t see him. “Four people it is. Let’s get going.”