He’s a murdering chud,” Zil was yelling.“What do you want to do? Lynch him?” Astrid demanded.That stopped the flow for a second as kids tried to figure out what “lynch” meant. But Zil quickly recovered.“I saw him do it. He used his powers to kill Harry.”“I was trying to stop you from smashing my head in!” Hunter shouted.“You’re a lying mutant freak!”“They think they can do anything they want,” another voice shouted.Astrid said, as calmly as she could while still pitching her voice to be heard, “We are not going down that path, people, dividing up between freaks and normals.”“They already did it!” Zil cried. “It’s the freaks acting all special and like their farts don’t stink.”That earned a laugh.“And now they’re starting to kill us,” Zil cried.Angry cheers.Edilio squared his shoulders and stepped into the crowd. He went first to Hank, the kid with the shotgun. He tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Give me that thing.”“No way,” Hank said. But he didn’t seem too certain.“You want to have that thing fire by accident and blow someone’s face off?” Edilio held his hand out. “Give it to me, man.”Zil rounded on Edilio. “You going to make Hunter give up his weapon? Huh? He’s got powers, man, and that’s okay, but the normals can’t have any weapon? How are we supposed to defend ourselves from the freaks?”“Man, give it a rest, huh?” Edilio said. He was doing his best to sound more weary than angry or scared. Things were already bad enough. “Zil, you want to be responsible if that gauge goes off and kills Astrid? You want to maybe give that some thought?”Zil blinked. But he said, “Dude, I’m not scared of Sam.”“Sam won’t be your problem, I will be,” Edilio snapped, losing patience. “Anything happens to her, I’ll take you down before Sam ever gets the chance.”Zil snorted derisively. “Ah, good little boy, Edilio, kissing up to the chuds. I got news for you, dilly dilly, you’re a lowly normal, just like me and the rest of us."“I’m going to let that go,” Edilio said evenly, striving to regain his cool, trying to sound calm and in control, even though he could hardly take his eyes off the twin barrels of the shotgun. “But now I’m taking that shotgun.”“No way!” Hank cried, and the next thing was an explosion so loud, Edilio thought a bomb had gone off. The muzzle flash blinded him, like camera flash going off in his face.Someone yelled in pain.Edilio staggered back, squeezed his eyes shut, trying to adjust. When he opened them again the shotgun was on the ground and the boy who’d accidentally fired it was holding his bruised hand, obviously shocked.Zil bent to grab the gun. Edilio took two steps forward and kicked Zil in the face. As Zil fell back Edilio made a grab for the shotgun. He never saw the blow that turned his knees to water and filled his head with stars.He fell like a sack of bricks, but even as he fell he lurched forward to cover the shotgun.Astrid screamed and launched herself down the stairs to protect Edilio.Antoine, the one who had hit Edilio, was raising his bat to hit Edilio again, but on the back swing he caught Astrid in the face.Antoine cursed, suddenly fearful. Zil yelled, “No, no, no!”There was a sudden rush of running feet. Down the walkway, into the street, echoing down the block.