For those who missed it, there was a Thursday update. See the prior chapter.
Sveta was smiling, her face more relaxed than it had been when she had been challenging Byron and I. Things were balanced out. Kenzie was content enough.
Yet somehow, with whatever effect Goddess was supposed to have, more people in the room were upset than content. Me. Natalie.
Amy. I didn’t want to think about or focus on Amy. I didn’t want to think about the fact that she was here, invading my space yet again. I could still recognize that she wasn’t happy with the current dynamic.
For all the advice, the good advice, that Tristan was supposed to calm down and focus his efforts on our number one enemies here, he was as angry as I’d ever seen him. He’d taken off the bulk of his armor before switching out to Byron, and I had a full view of his face and neck. I could see his eyes.
He turned those eyes toward me. The look was dark, the tilt of his head and the overhead lights casting the sockets in shadow, with the shadows branching out through the lines along the nose and between the eyebrows. His fist was clenched.
A study in contrasts. In the moment before he had disappeared, Byron had looked okay. Less tense than I’d known him to be in a long time.
“Enough,” Goddess told him. “I can’t stand infighting.”
He didn’t back down, and he didn’t break eye contact.
“I’ve talked to some of my contacts. They claim they’re ready. Tell me what you’ve done.”
“We had a skirmish with Teacher,” I said. “The team that helped us with that should sit this one out. They’re depleted and as eager as they are, they’re also inexperienced. Tiredness combined with being spent is a recipe for disaster.”
“You have others?”
“Plenty of others,” I told her.
“When you said ‘the team that helped us’, who was ‘us’. Everyone went?”
“Capricorn and myself,” I said. “Capricorn blue, to be specific.”
She looked at Tristan. Seeing him still staring me down, she touched his shoulder. He turned away from me to look at her.
“They ran into a cape,” Tristan said. “Set powers and interdimensional doors on fire.”
“I know her. Teacher will send her after me sometimes.”
“She’s the prison pharmacist. She’ll be there.”
Goddess didn’t seem to be too bothered by that.
“Where’s Cryptid?” Kenzie asked.
“Assisting me. He’s with the team that’s looking for the girl who has my power.”
“Oh, cool. He’ll be good at that.”
“Can you give us more information on that?” I asked. “I’ve studied powers in the past.”
“On the day of the final confrontation against the alien, I was pulled away from my world. Many of my lieutenants and parahuman inhabitants of my world were as well. When everything ended, Several of my lieutenants slipped from my reach. I’ve found all but one. The craven bitch was one of the five others who got powers when I did.”
“One of your other enemies has mentioned your background, and that you… somehow took the powers from the group,” I said.
“Tattletale? Yes. She’s similar to the woman with the fire. She shows up at very inconvenient times. Sometimes because she’s an unwitting pawn moved by Teacher. Right now she’s busy keeping her area of this mega-city from collapsing. A cursed place, Amy says.”
I flinched at the name. I’d almost been able to pretend she wasn’t here.
“It’s probably because of the fact that she’s busy that Teacher is doing what he’s doing now,” Amy said.
“I want to ask, why are you here, Amy?” Sveta asked.
“Um. I’m kind of uniquely situated to get a lot of this. I knew Teacher, I knew Valkyrie, I’ve talked to Tattletale a few times, I had a sense of what was happening with Gold Morning before some others.”
I folded my arms.
“What I was asking is why are you here?” Sveta said. “In this headquarters.”
“Because I wanted to make sure that everyone is okay.”
“Your being here makes things less okay,” Sveta said. “I’m speaking for your sister here, because I’m sure she’s trying to avoid causing issues.”
My arms still folded, I nodded emphatically, my eyes averted to the ground.
“You’re causing problems,” Sveta said.
“I’m trying to take care of everyone, including the people important to me.”
“Enough of this,” Goddess spoke, her voice sharp.
Sveta shut up. Amy went silent.
“Antares,” Goddess said. “My power testing labs are very good and thorough. I can’t imagine you have any new information for me.”
“Can I ask what her power is? I might not know things that are better than what you learned from your labs, but I keep track of capes, as much as it’s possible, with clandestine groups and cults coming out of the woodwork.”
“A power battery. She has five very minor powers, scraps of powers, but she has the ability to charge one, extending its range out dramatically in a straight line, usable once every long while.”
“And with this power back, you’d extend your range?”
“In a sense,” she said. She made eye contact, and there was something searching in her gaze. “Not straight lines.”
“Including the brainwashing?” Natalie asked.
“Nothing is washed,” Goddess said, her voice hard. “It is aligned.”
Natalie nodded, ducking her head down.
Her answer to Natalie’s question hadn’t been a no.
“If you’re done interrogating me, tell me about the prison.”
“I lensed the energy the gates put out to throw Teacher’s attempts to get in or out out of whack. Teacher’s pawns are stupid-”
“They lack volition,” I said.
“And they’re gullible, which means they’re stupid. We tricked them into talking to each other and we have most of them identified.”
“Including the people in charge that Teacher got to,” Tristan said.
He didn’t look any calmer. It was an uncharacteristically cold kind of anger, though, one that left his voice level even as it stood out across his face, neck, and arms.
I could sympathize, on a level, but my anger wasn’t hot or cold. It just felt sick. It carried forward from the sick feeling that had come from being at odds with Sveta. I was thankful that she was defending me and that she wasn’t causing issues, because I wasn’t sure if I could have managed if she didn’t have my back right now.
“We control the access for now,” Kenzie said. “He’s trying to figure it out, but… I’m looking at data, and it looks like he keeps trying to open the portals a hundred feet below the prison. The energy diffuses out into the ground. He did four tries almost right away, and… it’s been a little while since then. He made one try, still down there. I think he might be out of energy.”
“Good,” Goddess said. She smiled. “Good work.”
Kenzie’s legs kicked, as she wiggled.
“Get ready. We’ll go now,” Goddess said.
“We have one more play that’s in the works,” I said. “An ally is going to make a move, and we should watch what happens so we know where people are.”
“Get ready in the meantime, then.”
I met Tristan’s eyes briefly as he turned toward the corner where he’d left his armor. Still angry, in an inexplicable way.
There was too much to keep a handle on, and telling myself master-stranger protocols felt like it was about as substantial as shouting ‘Santa is real!’ when I knew he wasn’t- and Byron had been compromised.
My option now was Natalie, who I could maybe trust but couldn’t rely on, because so much of this cape stuff went over her head.
Or… or Amy. Who maybe knew the cape stuff, but who I couldn’t ever trust.
Natalie. I couldn’t reach out to her now.
And the others… compromised, by the rules and guidelines stipulated in black and white, outlined in tests that tens of thousands of PRT employees had to take and perfect, even the desk jockeys.
I checked my phone. My phone was safe, covering distant territory. No messages had been sent by Rain or Ashley before all communications had been shut off. I looked at the monitors- also safe.
People were heading toward the cafeteria, and in that group, I could see Crystalclear and Rain. It was good. Coalbelcher was in the group with some of his lieutenants. Less good.
In her apartment, Ashley stood with her back to the kitchen counter, her head bowed, her arms folded. The Damsel, for lack of a better description, sat on a chair, one arm draped over the back, the other along the table, by the laptop that was now closed. It wasn’t much use to them, now that the internet was cut off as well.
Another screen showed the video feed from Ashley’s eye-cam. Once we were inside, if for any reason she wasn’t still in her apartment, then chances were good that we’d have to deduce her location.
Goddess walked over to look at the screens. Kenzie, organizing her stuff and unplugging things from the computer, looked up.
Amy moved in my peripheral vision. I shifted my stance. My aura was on and off in such a short period of time it barely rippled past my skin.
She wasn’t focusing on me. She’d taken a step toward Sveta, who was attaching her armor, her mask on the table next to her.
“Hello,” the small creature on Amy’s shoulder said, voice high. A few people glanced over.
“Hello,” Sveta said, before returning to what she was doing. She kept Amy in the corner of her eye.
“Dot, meet Tress,” Amy said. “My mother told me a lot about her, and I make- made small talk with her boyfriend when I ran into him at the Wardens headquarters.”
“You have a machine body, and you don’t smell much like flesh or blood.”
“Be polite,” Amy said.
“It’s good!” Dot exclaimed. “So special, to have something made like that. A lot of love and care.”
“There was,” Sveta said. “The most important person in the world had to work hard to make it even possible, and someone had to study very hard to learn how to make it, and that’s a kind of love too.”
Lookout, helmet on, gear gathered, approached to get a better look at Dot. I opened my mouth to express a warning, but Lookout stepped back as Amy turned to look at her.
Good, I thought.
Dot didn’t seem to care, instead adjusting her perch on Amy’s shoulder.
“My Red Queen does good work with a lot of love too,” Dot said.
“I’ve seen the work she does,” Sveta said.
I could feel a weight pressing in on me. Amy looking my way made it worse.
Tristan, on the other end of the room, was getting his armor on. He watched intently, still silent, but for a few of the strategic comments he’d dropped for Goddess.
“Natalie,” I said. I was desperate for an out. “Can we talk organization?”
“Please,” she said.
“We can step outside,” I said, “If you don’t mind your jacket getting wet. Give these guys some elbow room.”
“Stay inside,” Goddess said.
There went that plan.
Why did this have to be so hard? One person standing in the center of the room while her squirrel-like companion made small talk was harder to deal with than just about anything.
“My Red Queen has fixed a few of my kind. Big ones, weird ones. She could fix you. She can make you just as wonderful in shape and strong enough you don’t need the body.”
“Don’t volunteer me,” Amy said. “Things are more complicated than that.”
“But you can! You can make her any shape at all, and then she won’t need that machine anymore! Then I can take a hand or take an arm! It’s all so colorful!”
“That’s enough. I’m sorry, Sveta.”
Sveta didn’t respond, only giving Amy a cold look that, ten minutes ago, she’d been directing at me.
“But I want-” Dot started. Amy brought up a hand, and stroked Dot like Dot was a cat. I saw the contact, and revulsion gripped my entire body.
Natalie looked between Amy and me, and then stepped closer to me, hand moving as if she was going to touch me. I flinched, and she stopped.
I nodded, and she touched my upper arm, just below the ornamentation of spires there. She moved between Amy and me, blocking my view, and the gratitude that rolled through me could have stopped a moving vehicle.
I hated feeling weak and powerless in front of people like this- in front of Lookout, who couldn’t understand. In front of Sveta, Tristan, and Goddess.
I looked away, tried to swallow and it got stuck, caught somewhere between up and down, in a position that paralyzed, too ominous for me to figure out how to breathe again. I really truly felt like forcing it would leave me either choking, if I moved one way, or outright coughing out a mouthful of vomit.
Fuck her. Fuck her for being here. Fuck her for intruding, for not getting it. Fuck her for her selfishness.
In anger, disgust receded. I could swallow, the motion hard enough it hurt.
“What’s going on?” Natalie whispered. “This is Goddess’ mind control effect? And you’re resisting it?”
“I’m not resisting it,” I murmured. “Every iota of my being is telling me that it’s not a problem, it’s minor, I’m making the sensible calls. But Byron said I’m affected.”
“Byron is-” she turned to look in Tristan’s direction.
“He’s affected now. Swansong and Precipice too.”
“Oh,” she said. “What do I do?”
“If you ask me, we ride this out, treat Teacher as the bigger threat, and we deal with that first. We resolve the prison situation and we let Goddess go rule her world as she sees fit. If she asks, we go with, we switch our focus… a lot could be done if we do our part there and use that work and accomplishments there to help Gimel.”
“And if she says she wants to destroy Gimel?”
“My first instinct would be to evacuate everyone and then destroy it.”
“And if she didn’t want to evacuate? Kill everyone?”
“I couldn’t do that,” I said.
“Just like in the video, then,” Natalie said.
She’d seen Byron fighting me, had apparently heard the audio.
“I can get away and call people,” she murmured. “The Wardens?”
“I think you trying would set off her danger sense,” I said. And as I said it, I turned my head.
Goddess stood by the computer terminal. Lookout was standing by her again, chattering away. Goddess wasn’t listening, though. She was watching Natalie and I.
“Be safe,” I said. “We’ll figure something out.”
I was pretty sure I was lying.
“Do you know master-stranger protocols?” I asked her, my voice a dire whisper.
As expected, she shook her head.
“You’re not compromised. If you say to do something, anything, I’m going to put my trust in you. Byron might. I don’t know.”
Natalie opened her mouth to reply. She was interrupted by a change in the lighting. A whole wall of projected images flicked over to being a single image from a surveillance camera. It was in color, and the sky on the other side was lit by hues ranging from blue to pink and orange. The shadows of the people in the image were long.
Rain was a step behind Crystalclear.
On another wall, in another panel of projected image, Ashley had moved to the balcony. Damsel stood beside her, claws wrapped around the railing. Others were watching too.
“Audio,” Tristan said.
“…this with full knowledge of the consequences,” Crystalclear said. He’d been close to the head of the group of prisoners that were going to the cafeteria to eat, and now he stopped, arms out to the sides. Guards were moving to flank, weapons drawn.
“Don’t be stupid, Crystalclear. Your record is good, you haven’t had problems yet!”
“Yeh, don’t be stupid,” Coalbelcher’s voice was accented, with nasal intonation that didn’t fit him. “I was looking forward to my dinner, and I get cranky when something or someone gets in the way of that.”
“I have it on good authority that this prison is under attack as we speak. Part of that attack involves the drugs they intend to hand out at the cafeteria. I’m asking you to put a lockdown in effect and put everything on hold, medication included.”
“I’m seconding this,” Rain said.
“You’re delaying our dinner, boys?” Coalbelcher asked.
“Yes sir, sorry sir,” Rain said.
“Stand down, everyone else, kneel! I don’t want funny business!”
The other prisoners in Rain and Crystalclear’s group were dropping to their knees.
“If a few hours pass and nothing happens, feel free to come after us, Coal, but we’re pretty sure on this,” Crystalclear said.
“Us,” Rain said. “Put me out there, feel free.”
“Sorry,” Crystalclear added.
“I’m going to make you sorry if these guards don’t. Getting between me and my motherfucking meal.” Coalbelcher growled. From a distance, through the speaker, it sounded more like a child trying to sound menacing. I wondered if he was more dangerous-sounding in person, backed by reputation, in a Brando-as-Godfather way.
“Down on the ground!” a guard called, indicating Crystalclear.
“I’m already kneeling.”
“Chin to dirt!”
“Again, requesting facility-wide lockdown.”
“Chin to the fucking dirt!”
“Figured it wouldn’t work,” Rain said.
Crystalclear dropped, hands at the back of his head.
“We’re going to cuff you, and then we’re going to take you two back-”
Lookout hit keys. Our view shifted to surveillance camera footage of the cafeteria. The detonation had wrecked the door and surrounding brickwork.
“By the look and sound of that, it seems like Crystalclear’s power,” I said, my voice quieter than I’d meant it to be.
“At least they don’t realize it’s him,” Sveta said.
“Yeah. They had to take the guy who can grow explosive crystals on his head and send them through solid surfaces face-first against the ground, huh?”
The guards were focusing on getting the prisoners away from the site of the blast. Crystalclear and Rain were pulled to their feet. They didn’t seem to realize that it had been Crystalclear. It was possible they knew what he did on paper, but recognizing it in the field was something else entirely.
“Over there,” Rain said, turning his head.
Crystalclear stumbled as he turned partially around, while the guard had a hand at the back of his prison-issue jacket. As part of the stumble, he brought his leg back and kicked, scuffing the ground.
A moment’s delay, and- an explosion, off-screen.
“Can you get that for us, Lookout?”
Amy had moved closer to me in her effort to see what was going on in the video. Natalie positioned herself, guarding me. Sveta, too, had moved to another point.
Goddess was watching but not intervening. I knew she meant well, but…
Lookout’s voice cut through my thoughts. “Going back ten seconds. Play.”
Video footage. People running from the cafeteria. One of them was the pharmacist, marked with an icon over her head, courtesy of Lookout’s tech.
Crystalclear had to have put a crystal in his shoe, because he’d sent something forward when he’d scuffed the dirt with his toe. The explosion was the usual Crystalclear sort, but as it hit the pharmacist, she flinched, reacting, and the explosion unfolded into something more dramatic, with rolling waves of purple flame.
The shoe-crystal would’ve been his plan for if they hadn’t had him put his head to the ground.
The smoke was clearing away. Our pharmacist was fine in the wake of it. Of fucking course.
“That’s our cue,” Tristan said. “We’ll have to trust they’ve got this figured out. Rain and Crystal know what the pharmacist can do.”
Goddess turned toward the door. With a power, she bid it to open. Wind and flecks of moisture came in, beading the first few feet of floorboards. As she approached, however, wind and rain stopped.
The group headed for the fire escape, Goddess lifting herself up to the railing, then floating down. Tristan was behind her.
My thoughts were on Crystalclear and Rain, on the pharmacist, and how we’d travel to get there. To my right, a supporting hand reached for my shoulder.
It was a colorful hand in my peripheral vision. My first thought was that it was Sveta. Then, after processing color, that Natalie had pulled on gloves.
A hand of mostly red, black secondary, with lines of gold running through it for highlights.
I hadn’t even fully processed the thought, or the warning shout of, “No!” before I was flying. Forcefield out- I swung to strike her pre-emptively, before she could make contact.
The swing came at a downward angle. Floorboards became splinters, and I could hear Lookout shriek off to the side. I saw Amy’s eyes wide, her stumbling steps back as the floor shifted subtly under her feet. Dot went from under her jacket to her shoulder, then bounded off.
Floating, I had no reason to move a hair. I’d spent so long trying to avoid thinking about her, trying to find my equilibrium, to deal. Even swallowing or breathing could be made hard. Wearing skin could be hard, when the idea of her was close.
But if I didn’t move a hair, if I was a statue, all bridled fury and potential energy, I could stare her down, and hope that there was something that I could convey here.
My aura was still active. I was probably disturbing the neighbors. Just like with the swallowing, I couldn’t bring myself to do more than hold it in uncomfortable, bad-for-me limbo.
“Victoria,” Sveta said.
“Sorry about the floorboards,” I said. I didn’t look, but it was hard to miss, even in peripheral vision. “That’s probably the security deposit and then some.”
Amy’s lips parted. Anger flared in my chest. She got out just the two and a half words, “I’ll pay-”
I flew in, Wretch up. She hurled herself back and away, and it was like she was moving in slow motion. My flight was faster than her running.
Something connected with my forcefield. With it, the paradigm shifted. I couldn’t be close, couldn’t risk being touched. I changed the direction of my flight, placing myself near the wall.
It had been Sveta. As I turned around, she was reeling in her arm.
Amy had to circumnavigate the hole I’d put in the floor to get to the door. Dot jumped from Lookout’s arms to Amy’s shoulder as she passed.
“You’ll be happier if you stop here,” Sveta said. “We have a mission.”
Do what’s lawful, do what’s right, when neither are clear, reach out for help.
The law and right aren’t in the prison right now. They needed help.
“Okay,” I said. “Absolutely.”
I headed for the door. Sveta reached out, extending an arm to my shoulder. I stopped.
“Give her a second to leave. Some distance will be good,” Sveta said.
“She won’t leave,” I said. “Because leaving would be the right thing to do. I have to make her.”
Sveta’s expression shifted, a frown.
“Sorry, Lookout,” I said. “I probably spooked you.”
She laughed. I imagined a smile on her face, on the other side of her mask.
I floated past the hole and through the door. I had to lower my head a little so I didn’t get a faceful of freezing rain.
On the ground beside the fire escape, Amy stood beside Goddess. She hadn’t left.
“Sorry, Natalie,” I said, as I passed her. She was standing on the uppermost stair that wasn’t the landing at the top of the fire escape.
“No,” she said, her voice small. “I get it.”
I wondered if she actually did, now.
Goddess was staring me down, looking utterly unbothered, beyond maybe some impatience about getting to the prison. Amy stood a little ways back, in her civilian clothes, her jacket’s hood up, her eyes not visible.
And I was- I was shaking, like the cold had gotten to me.
It hadn’t, but close enough.
As I drew nearer, I brought the Wretch out. I let the rain outline it.
Goddess didn’t flinch. Amy- I saw Amy take a step back. She said something I couldn’t make out over the drum of the rain.
I flew around the pair- put myself in front of her, instead. I touched down on the surface of the parking lot, and the Wretch scratched at it, scrabbled at it with multiple fingernails of a multitude of hands.
She turned away, and I put myself in her field of view again, my expression like stone because anything else would have broken in a second. My fists were clenched, and I was acutely aware of the burn… yet I didn’t feel pain. Even the old bullet wound in my upper arm didn’t hurt in this moment, which made me realize it usually did, just a bit. A tightness that wasn’t there in this moment.
Because I didn’t feel pain, I felt like I could do this. I could manage this because that almost-contact had shocked my system and my senses were altered in the now. That allowed me to show Amy. I could show Goddess because I trusted her. The others- they knew or they’d seen.
Well. Maybe they’d seen, but it might have taken the damage to the floorboards to show them.
Adrenaline surged through me to impel, drive me forward, in a moment I was stiller than even a person standing could be. A person that stood needed to make micro-adjustments to their position, to keep their balance. Weight shifted from foot to foot.
Not so, for me. I could have been a corpse.
I saw moisture on her face that wasn’t rain. Like the two and a half words she’d spoken, it was almost enough to provoke me again. I felt outrage, seeing that.
I knew I wasn’t being rational. I knew I was in shock.
Like with the master-stranger protocols, I had to recognize where I was, and what I needed to do. Things divorced from instinct, biological impulses, and baser needs, like fight or flight.
“Did you get your closure?” Goddess asked.
Amy turned her head to look at the woman, and I could see her eyes. Bewildered, haunted. Hurt.
Amy wasn’t under Goddess’ influence. She was a lieutenant who had connections to key players like Tattletale, Marquis, and Teacher.
I’d seen those eyes before too. Around the edges of memories that had been wiped away.
“Amy,” Goddess said.
Amy wasn’t up to speaking any more than I was.
“Go to Cryptid. You’re useless to me here.”
Amy nodded slowly. She backed away.
I had no idea if she planned to catch a ride somehow, run, walk, or do something else. I didn’t really care. She was leaving. She was gone.
She’d tried to touch me.
What to call it when someone I wasn’t prepared to forgive did something unforgivable?
I wasn’t sure. But I could cuss at myself in my head, for letting things get this far, for letting my guard down. A ‘fool me once…’ thing.
As the rush lost its hold on me, the shaking got a bit worse.
“Natalie,” Tristan said. “Can you lock up? Tress has trouble with things like keys, I don’t think Lookout keeps keys readily available- she has other things to do with her belt pouches.”
“Yeah,” Lookout said. “It’s in my satchel.”
The satchel was more like a fanny pack, worn at the back, strap extending diagonally over the right shoulder and around the left side of her ribcage.
“And I don’t want to go up and down the stairs in armor,” Tristan said.
“Okay,” Natalie said. Tristan threw his keys to her- a small object thrown in the dark. By his accuracy more than anything, Natalie caught the keys.
And just like that, things were close to normal again. The shaking in my hands didn’t quite go away.
I saw Goddess raise one hand. The surface of the parking lot cracked, and in the lighting, streetlights and lights from the nearby building hitting the icy ground at an angle, it made the shift in the ground and the breaks in the ground stand out that much more.
She used her telekinesis to lift up a disc of ground from the parking lot, and as she did it, it was clear that the telekinesis had its own shape to it. Something geometric.
I’d have to keep that in mind, like I had to keep Sveta’s suit or Lookout’s facial expressions in mind. Quirks and weaknesses.
Tristan approached. I could still see glimmers of that earlier anger. I wasn’t sure exactly what was coming of it, though. To be that angry and- what? No focus? Was he burning it off or eating that anger and digesting it into some other form?
It was too many question marks in a row, coinciding with the shaking of my hands. I hated feeling weak. I liked being the declarative sort, the one who could list off bullet points and elaborate on them, not get caught up in wonderings and doubts.
“I get it,” Tristan spoke. His voice wasn’t his usual. “The sibling thing. Wrestling with… with wrongs.”
I nodded. I could believe it.
“Difference is, I was the wrongdoer,” he said. “The blood was on my hands.”
He held out a gauntleted hand, where it could catch the light. Amy had tattoos. Tristan had metal that had been tinted orange-red, with a wash that let the tint collect in crevices and cracks.
“I’m going to need you to keep me in check,” Tristan said.
“There aren’t many things that get to me, but we managed to press a few of those buttons tonight,” Tristan murmured. “The last few times I felt like this, I did things I wasn’t proud of.”
“Keep me from doing something stupid, and I’ll have your back. Yeah?”
Goddess lifted up her disc. With a gesture, she picked up Lookout by the satchel, then deposited her on the disc. Sveta accepted a hand of help from Tristan and I.
While we waited for Natalie, Tristan stood with his eyes on the group. Quiet, he stated a simple pass phrase.
“Yes,” I said, barely audible.
“Okay. I think I remember the rules. Who’s our person?”
“Natalie,” I whispered. “Until replaced.”
“Byron was affected.”
“I felt it. Yes.”
“Then the first untainted, trustworthy cape we can find. We should keep them unaffected where possible,” I whispered.
The disc was ready. Tristan stepped up onto it, and then he offered a hand to Natalie, lifting her up with no apparent difficulty at all.
The disc levitated- a chunk of ground fifteen feet across that rained a bit of gravel down on the ground far beneath.
I flew. Goddess landed at the midway point of the disc, and she lifted it, carrying herself with the rest.
Another thing to file away. She could lift herself, and she could lift a lot of weight, but in the here and now, she was using that power one at a time.
The rain didn’t let up, and being airborne didn’t help. There were less buildings to break up the flow of the wind, less sources of heat that could warm us up. My costume was covered in a thin sheet of ice before we were halfway to our destination.
Five minutes after that halfway point, my armor began to crack. The weight of the ice was its own downfall, and it came away in Victoria shapes, cascading down to empty streets below.
We reached the first portal and passed through.
The weather was different. The lighting from the now expired sunset, the sky bright even though it was night and it had been raining.
We approached the second portal in the airlock-like arrangement. Lookout deactivated the scrambler, and we had a clear shot through, the ability to see through the gate to the other side.
With that clear shot, we had a view as well.
The guards, their guns, and apparently prisoners that they’d released to assist them. Capes standing at the edges of the group of correctional officers, ready to back them up.
The wave of telekinetic force that reached out struck at them one by one. It had its own pattern, like a series of numbers that matched to the earlier pattern we’d seen. It swiped over guards and it disarmed them of their weapons.
A moment later, like a fractal pattern cracking the wall before the shape took its form -a pattern not too unlike Tristan and Byron’s power- Goddess tore an entire wall out of the side of the building. People who had been standing ready to defend this place now scrambled to get clear.
“We tear it all down before we leave,” Goddess said.