Aislinn gasped. Dylan's hand rested on his weapon, his jaw twitching with anger, but he remained motionless.
Li stepped back and shuffled to the end of the counter. The leader continued to aim the shotgun at his back. "That's right. Fuck off, you old bastard. We've got some business to finish up here."
Aislinn watched his finger move to pull the trigger. A blinding white anger surged through and around her body like an electrical current. The vortex increased until all she could hear was a spectral wind. Her eyes flashed. "Don't," she started to say with a voice that was hers but wasn't.
The leader ignored her and continued to press the trigger.
Dylan turned and stared in astonishment as her eyes rolled until only the whites showed. Her head sagged and she slipped into a trance-like state. Suddenly, an infernal glow emanated from the canvas bag slung over her shoulder. The energy channeled into her body and distorted the air around her. It writhed and shimmied toward the thug aimed at the shotgun and enveloped the weapon. A sizzling noise rose as it transformed into a molten blob and dripped gelatinously onto the wooden floor. Steam hissed, the wood buckling from the intense heat. The thug screamed in agony and uselessly tried to extricate his seared hand from the molten metal.
"What the fuck's going on here?" one of the others shouted. He waved his pistol at Aislinn and moved threateningly toward her.
Dylan tried once again to reach for his weapon, but the thug covering him jammed his pistol against his head. "Don't move," he said, "or the bitch eats it."
Aislinn's body convulsed, her eyes continued to roll back. Her hair haloed around her as static electricity charged the air. The energy swirled around her body, its wraith-like form lurching toward the advancing thug and hurling him like a missile through the glass door. It shattered explosively, showering the snow with vicious shards. The remaining three thugs backed in terror toward the door.
The leader lurched drunkenly toward Dylan and Aislinn, his eyes glazed with pain and hate. He clung to his wounded hand, the flesh raw and oozing. "What the hell's the matter with you?" he shouted to the others. "Take the bitch! Just make sure you don't mess her up too much!" He pointed at Dylan. "We don't need him."
Aislinn groaned. The energy flared and spun like a vortex from her body. A pungent odor of ozone filled the air. Vials exploded. Bottles fell off the violently rattling shelves. The small shop trembled under her power. All the weapons glowed and transformed into molten masses. The thugs screamed as they struggled to rub the scalding metal from their hands. Despite their agony, they advanced like mindless automatons, a steady stream of obscenities spewing from their mouths.