by Hydrargentium

In the time between when Hourglass’s heart finished its double-thump beat and started a new one, seven things happened. Moving through a world held in what seemed like a single instance, she fought to deal with them all.

Two of the gunmen squeezed the trigger on their weapons. It was obvious what they were doing — she’d watched them raise the rifles in tandem, in the moments before she changed time. Hurrying over to each one, she shoved hard on the barrels, aiming them skyward, and then yanked crooked fingers away from triggers. It was too late to do anything about the bullets already firing in their chambers, but she could stop them from shooting any more into the sky.

The squad leader had just raised his phone to his ear, and was about to yell something, probably about having found her and Rex, and needing reinforcements. It was easy enough to poke the device out of his grip, press it to the pavement, and stomp it to useless pieces.

Two more of the gunmen were swinging around to aim at Rex, and, giggling mischievously, she grabbed a knife from one of them, sliced their belts, and yanked their pants down around their ankles. They wouldn’t be doing anything but falling over after that.

The last squad member had pulled out a grenade, with a finger just barely hooked into the pin’s ring. Extra-carefully, she pushed the ring away from the finger, and then wiggled the grenade out of his grasp. Not sure what to do with it, she decided to just hold onto it.

In the back of her head, she could feel the buzzing that meant her time was running out. Taking a quick look around, she saw nothing else that needed her attention, so she ran over to take up position behind the squad leader, ready to strike him with her baton the moment he started to move again.

The seventh thing was the bomb, hidden in the crate they had just passed as they came around the corner into the alley. Triggered wirelessly by an electric eye device Rex had failed to notice as they passed it, its five second timer display switched from 02 to 01.