Video played on our laptop, a cartoon animation of a beautiful woman with black skin, dreadlocks, yellow stick-on nails, and a canary yellow boa in a tropical paradise. A skinny guy with rings of tribal tattoos on his arm and ‘DJ’ on his bicep sat with his arm around a curvy young woman in a bikini, with sharks tattooed at her sides.
Every character was stylized, to the point it could be hard to keep track.
“Who’s that?” I asked, pointing at a guy in the background. “Were we introduced to him?”
“We saw him in the background earlier. He was putting the gun on the jeep,” Rain said. Rain wore the trinket at his neck, which changed his appearance to the scruffier, dark-haired alternate look. He sat with a similarly disguised Sveta and me on a curved couch, his boots resting on his bag, which was on the quarter-circle shaped table in front of us. The couch and table setup were one of twenty-five, each arranged so it was a rotation from nearby tables and couches, placed in the lounge area of a larger building.
The building was something of a hybrid: a dining hall, library, social area, and market all in one. At this end of the greater building, the smells and noise of the food court were muted by an intervening bottleneck. On the floors above, I could see the bookshelves of the library. Individual chairs, beanbags, and study nooks were up there, away from the light conversation of the lounge floor.
Twenty-five tables on the ground floor, a crowd, and then two floors of library on three sides, a wall of thick glass on the fourth side. Circular lights high above us glowed blue, pumping out the UV light.
This was Lyme Center. When the last winter had rolled around, things had been bad. Suicides had peaked as the winter went long, and isolation had been a part of that. Being cold and hungry was one thing. Being cold, hungry, and alone? The inorganic way that so much of the Megalopolis had sprung up had led to whole groups and clusters of people in isolated pockets being left with no contact with other people. There had been places where people could gather that had been crammed with those seeking human contact from dawn until well after dark, and there had been places where there just hadn’t been anywhere to go and talk to other human beings that weren’t neighbors.
Lyme had been a tent city a month ago, and past the big windows of Lyme Center the construction was continuing well past sundown. Snow, bright yellow construction vehicles, and dark skeletons of pre-fabricated buildings being put together. No plumbing, not in the original sense, just fat tubes set into ditches just deep enough that gravel and dirt could be piled over top and packed down.
“What show?” a guy asked, leaning over the back of the couch. He looked twenty-five or so, and from his jacket and the bag he had slung over his shoulder, he had the look of a tent-city denizen who hadn’t quite let his guard down.
Not so different from a homeless person who kept everything they valued within arm’s reach.
“Blood Atoll,” Sveta said, adjusting her headphones so the one wasn’t covering her left ear.
“Never heard of it. Seeing people in bikinis is making me wish I was someplace warmer, I’m not sure I could stand to watch that.”
“Is it good?”
“We’re not far enough in to know,” Rain said. He hit the pause button. The scene had the woman with the boa looming over ‘Parker’, the youngest person in the house.
“I’m dying for something to watch. Is it in the catalogue?”
“Offworld French animation,” Rain said. “It might go in the catalogue if we can figure out how to convert the video file types.”
“That’s always a nightmare. But if you upload it straight, it can be emulated.”
I leaned back, “We talked to a few people about it and got different answers each time. Some people don’t like how messy it gets. If it sucks it might not even be worth the hassle.”
“Odd animation. Rotoscope?”
“Yeah,” I said.
An icon was flashing yellow on the laptop. Rain cycled out of the window and into another one. A simple video game, with two towns, each with a nine by nine grid on it, each icon on the grid having a series of buildings. Hospital, house, farm, carpenter’s, and police.
Rain centered the laptop across his knees, clicked on the house, cycling through images until a frowning old lady appeared, peering over the little fence. A series of red ‘-100’ and ‘-200’ popped up in neighboring zones.
Above the other town, a face like the one I’d seen drawn on Kenzie’s whiteboard popped up – a circular face with only eyes and mouth, brown skinned, black hair parted with two buns, contained within a speech balloon. Her eyes closed into half-circles, mouth wide in a smile that took up half of the circle. A thumbs-up icon followed.
I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I followed the logic of the coding system, but Rain seemed to. I could get the general sense of it though. In the other town, there was a police officer shouting at someone outside of the police station, curse words in the speech balloon.
I pointed at it. “She’s okay? No points lost?”
“Random event,” Rain said. “They’re fine. She’s still ahead by… seven quintillion points. Literally.”
I looked over my shoulder. There were police officers and people in patrol uniforms wandering Lyme Center. The nooks and reading areas were regularly visited.
In ‘our’ town, the police were just walking around their one-ninth of the grid.
The guy who had been watching our screen over our shoulders walked away. Rain finished typing out a message, fixed the orientation of the laptop, and resumed the video. He leaned back and took the ear bud from my hand, sitting closer as he put it in.
On the screen, ‘Parker’ was throwing a fit. The woman with the boa took it unflinching, until the first few objects were scooped up from the nearby cabinet and thrown.
We had two audio jacks plugged into the laptop. Sveta had a hair of headphones. Since I was sharing the ear-buds with Rain, I had audio only in the one ear, which was fine with me, since it let me keep an ear on our surroundings.
In my right ear, Parker’s swears matched up with the subtitles on the screen.
“Shit,” Sveta said, with a serious expression on the face she wore as camouflage.
The thrown objects marked the point it stopped being a teenager’s tantrum and became something else. The lady with the boa gripped the edge of the counter, staring Parker down. Others stood from their seats.
‘Fuck you and suck on frozen shit, you act like you’re all that, but you’re a mess! I can’t believe I actually looked up to you for a minute there!’
‘She gave you a place to live.’ This from D.J..
‘She gave me fucking slavery! I joined up to have fun! I wanted to drink and fucking actually do shit and instead I’m your bitch! I’m done!’
‘You can always leave,’ the girl with the shark tattoos running from armpit to waist said. ‘We won’t get in your way.’
‘Nicky might,’ D.J. said.
‘Nicky isn’t here,’ Shark girl said. ‘If you’re gonna leave, now’s good.’
Parker swayed on the spot, as if leaning hard enough to one side could be the motivation to go. She looked at the woman with the feather boa and then immediately looked away. ‘Can I collect my pay?’
The woman with the feather boa shook her head slowly.
‘If you leave, you leave all the money you’ve earned on the table,’ D.J. said.
Parker became visibly agitated at that.
“Walk away,” Sveta murmured under her breath.
“Do we intervene?” Sveta asked, quiet.
“What we’re watching is out of date,” I said. “We’re… six minutes behind on the broadcast, because we keep pausing.”
We were only free to pause because the other group was staying current. Rain skipped ahead, catching us up. Visual glitches muddled the screen. As it resolved, the squares and blocks of text falling away, Parker could be seen in the kitchen, cleaning up, downcast.
Rain flipped backward a bit, giving us one-frame glimpses of the outcome. Parker subdued, resuming her work in the kitchen. A few seconds before, we had Parker with a stricken expression on her face. A moment before that, ‘Nicky’ was at the door.
Played in the right order, ‘Nicky’ had come back, and the fight had gone out of Parker.
Of course, Parker was just a superimposed image. Nicky wasn’t a tanned blonde with cornrows at either side of her face. D.J. wasn’t a surfer dude, the girl with the shark bite tattoos wasn’t his side chick, and the woman with the boa wasn’t the silent leader of the group of pirates.
Love Lost had settled here in Lyme. We had some surveillance, but positioning ourselves was a task. Ninety percent of everything that wasn’t part of the old tent city was under construction. The other ten percent was like this – crowded, patrolled, and potentially monitored by moles and agents in league to Love Lost.
We’d tried to set up and operate out of the van, where our supplies were in easy reach and our team was together. We’d struggled to find a parking spot in the happy medium between being close enough to Love Lost to act, and far enough away to avoid attention. Within two minutes, we’d had police knocking on the door of the van. Every spot was pre-claimed or, as we’d been told, subject to the whims of the construction teams that were moving large amounts of material through.
Our attempt to get out of the van and set up somewhere as a team had been similarly stymied. With that, and after seeing just how closely monitored and claustrophobic the emerging community was here in Lyme, I was prepared to give Love Lost some credit.
She’d either been insanely lucky to stumble onto a location like this, or she’d had the sense to find it. I was betting on the latter.
Our only options had seemed to be setting up in the next area over, with a twenty minute travel time to get here if we needed to do something, or setting up close and dealing with constant hassle, with civilians peering over our shoulder and potentially reporting back to Love Lost.
Except Kenzie had had an idea. Old programs. One to superimpose images, and another that let her tech put the game together based on a description. We’d watched for ten minutes before the game popped up in a mostly working fashion.
“What do we know about her?” I asked. I reached forward and hit the arrow keys, since there wasn’t a lot happening on-screen. I stopped when we had an image on the woman with the canary feather boa on screen.
“Heavy question,” Rain said. “She’s angry, but I think most people picked up on that.”
“Silent,” Sveta said.
“Nearly silent,” Rain agreed, nodding. “She was law enforcement. Detective, I’m pretty sure. I saw a flashback where she won an award, her daughter was in the audience. So I think she was a pretty good one. I remember, uh, another flashback, she had a child, but her child died. Was killed. Senselessly.”
The sentences were more fragmented as he went. I saw him clench his fist, white-knuckled, before wrapping his other hand around it and cracking the knuckles manually, his eyes on the screen.
“And she turned into a… pirate?” I asked, mindful that people might overhear. “Using all of that expert knowledge from her past life?”
“Something like that,” Rain said. “The vicious anger is a running theme. Anger at the criminals, anger at her ex. She drank. She seems to avoid it now, which I find a bit surprising.”
“How was she with her child?” Sveta asked.
Rain resumed the video, then skipped forward and backward a bit, looking.
It was a point we’d paused the video before, when the guy with the overloaded pack had interrupted. The woman with the canary feather boa looming over ‘Parker’. With the scene, someone’s voice from the background was represented on screen with the subtitles. ‘…don’t want to step into the ring here, Colt honey.’
As the word ‘Colt’ came through the earbud, it was auto-changed to Parker on the screen, in the subtitles. Colt was the kid from Cedar Point who had been roped into joining Prancer’s group as a henchman. She’d apparently been there when Kenzie’s place had been raided and Natalie had been hurt.
Rain seemed to want the image to stand for itself. Our painted-over picture showed Love Lost leaning forward, staring down Colt. No words, only intimidation.
“Angry?” I suggested.
“Messy, I guess,” Rain said. “Does it matter how she was with her kid? Because I think she loved her child with all her being. Doesn’t that count for something?”
Sveta frowned. “I’m so tired of dealing with parents like K’s, Vic’s, and now this mess.”
“I can’t really comment,” Rain’s voice had dropped, almost like he was falling away, but his gaze was intently fixed on the face on the screen. “Nobody deserves to go through what she went through. What she’s going through, every minute of every day. She’s carrying that now, while she’s dealing with, uh, Parker.”
“Do you need to sit this one out?” I asked.
“Before, I had pretty strong feelings, but I could think about the big picture. Now that I’m closer, the feelings are bigger, and I think the feelings are winning. Ask me again later?”
That didn’t make the situation any easier. If Rain sat this one out, then we had Sveta and I as part of this group, and Swansong, Capricorn, and Lookout as part of the other group.
Love Lost had more capes than that, and she was entrenched in this area. This was her turf.
We could call others in, but they would face the same problem we did. There weren’t any good places for capes to lurk. Set up too far away, and response times would suffer. Get too close, and they could be spotted.
I had my phone. It wasn’t camouflaged like the feed on the laptop was, but I was reasonably sure that whatever I browsed would be dismissed as idle reading, provided I scrolled past images quickly enough.
I sent a message to Advance Guard. They had some people with mobility who could swoop in.
The icon on the screen flashed, indicating that the ‘game’ had updated.
It was the little Kenzie face in the speech balloon, with no smile. Eyes wide. An Ashley face was laughing with a hand in front of the mouth, the ‘ha ha ha’ floating away. Tristan’s face popped up, green and barfing a thin stream that pooled on the roof of the building below the speech bubble.
Rain went back to the video feed and caught us up to the present, where a faint arrow indicated what the other team was watching.
‘…between my teeth and cheek. For an hour, hunh? Whaddyasay?’ Sidepiece.
‘Why’d you have to say teeth like that? Teeth are ten kinds of fuck no.’ D.J.
‘Not even a nibble?’
‘Never a nibble! Never!’
‘I’ve known people who liked being nibbled on and nipped.’
‘You know fucked up people, Side.’
‘What if I tucked it somewhere safe and warm instead, hmmm? We could go catch a movie, and then I’ll give it back. How fun would that be?’
On the screen, Sidepiece cozied up to D.J. He seemed to accept the cozying, but said, ‘Safe and warm for you is an inch from nitroglycerin for me.’
Sidepiece made a sound that was about fifty percent snort, forty percent nasal snort overlapping the first, and ten percent laugh.
‘I’m attached to it,’ D.J. said.
‘Detach it. I want it to play with for a while. We could have so much fun.’
On the other window, Kenzie was marked as away, a candy emote over her head. Going to get snacks, while Sidepiece and D.J. potentially got R-rated? Tristan was with her.
Rain hit a key and the subtitles disappeared. I saw him glance back and looked out of the corner of my eye. A guy in a uniform that could have been a security guard or cop was standing off to the side, looking in our direction.
‘You’ll lose it.’
‘I’ve seen you lose your keys, your favorite top-‘
‘That shit was stolen, no fair.’
‘-your phone, twice, your banking card-‘
‘I was really drunk when I lost the card.’
‘But it grows back! And I didn’t lose it exactly, okay!? I had a snowfort pile going, y’know?’
‘What the fuck is a snowfort pile?’
‘What the kids do with snowballs, all stacked up neat and ready to throw? And then the ground shook and rattled the table, and it all blew. Ovaries are such cluster-fuckers, all loaded up with those eggs. I did pretty fuckin’ good finding as many of the pieces as I did.’
‘You lose shit, Side. Admit it!’
‘No! I had reasons and other shit going on! I’m not going to get carelessly drunk if you give me a toy to play with!’
‘That’s what you do every day! Toys and drugs and drunk!’
The two started play wrestling on the couch in their… I wasn’t sure if it was a headquarters or home. The tropical overlay did mask some essential details. There was a key to make the overlay drop away, but that risked letting bystanders see the feed.
Spright and Shortcut were on their way. Shortcut wasn’t my first choice, but I wasn’t about to look this horse in the mouth.
Colt was in the next room, though she might as well have been in the same room as the frisky pair, because the wall that separated kitchen from the living room space had a massive window in it that things could be passed through.
Love Lost was moving. On the screen, the lady with the feather boa was pulling on a light jacket. The camera zoomed in as she slid something up her sleeves, attaching it to her wrists.
“Going to battle,” I said.
Rain used his feet to pick up his bag, dropped it a bit, then got it on the second try, passing it to his hands.
Love Lost snapped her fingers. All activity on the ground floor stopped – which amounted to ‘Parker’, Sidepiece as the girl with the shark-bite tattoos, and D.J..
“Do you need us?” Sidepiece asked.
Love Lost indicated Colt.
“We’re going out?” Colt asked.
“Yeah,” Nicky said, as she came down the stairs. She grabbed her own top and hat. “It’s a meeting. Bring everything.”
“So long as it’s not washing dishes,” Colt said, sullen.
The scene on the screen shifted, the camera pulling away. It gave us an overhead view of the ‘Blood Atoll’ – a ring of beach with a pirate bay contained within. Other lenses on the camera began to pull up scenes and things of interest. One dominant picture was of the jeep beside Love Lost’s headquarters. A machine gun was mounted on top, covered with a tarp, an x-ray image showing the loose position of the gun.
I looked around to make sure nobody was staring at our screen, and reached over for the key combination, checking with Rain and Sveta that I was good to go. They did their own check before nodding.
Just a second.
The Atoll became Lyme, the dirt from where ground had been flattened out forming the ring around the exterior, construction ongoing, the layout of boat and beach became building and snow layered over dirt and rock.
The jeep with the machine gun was now a truck, and instead of a machine gun, it was something tinker-made. The tinker leaned against the side of the vehicle, smoking. He did wear a mask, soft with goggles built in, a spike of metal extending from the connecting piece between the two goggles, up the forehead, and arcing back over the head, giving a silver line to the part in his greasy, copper-colored hair. The mask didn’t cover his throat, and I could see the hair there, almost an unbroken line from neck to collarbone to chest hair. He wore a heavy flannel shirt, a workman’s jacket, winterized work gloves, and jeans. Low-key as tinkers went.
Other scenes showed our position. The hourglass-shaped Lyme Center had Kenzie, Swansong, and Tristan in the noisier area. On the other side of the bottleneck was us, marked with tinted dots. Yellow-white for me, green-blue for Sveta, and dark red for Rain.
Love Lost, Colt, and Nailbiter stepped outside, Nailbiter distorting into her narrow form to stab the upper half of her body into the backseat before the seat was even moved forward to let people back there. Her lower body was withdrawn in, narrowing and disappearing into the space. Colt climbed in normally, before pulling the seat back to its normal position to let Love Lost in.
There were graphical glitches as the program struggled to come up with ways to coordinate the very different vehicle types.
The tinker drove, with Love Lost in the front seat.
“We could intercept,” Sveta whispered, leaning in close. Rain leaned in to hear, and we had a huddle.
“Against an unknown gun? The four of them?” Rain whispered back.
“We have two Advance Guard guys on the way,” I whispered. “Spright and Shortcut.”
“Ew.” Sveta made a face. “Not my favorite person.”
“They’re quick enough to get involved when we need involved,” I said. Rather than use the laptop, I pulled out my phone. Time to make sure everyone was in the loop.
Tracking Love Lost’s group to unspecified meeting. They’re armed for a fight. Known violence in records, two of the four people en route are on our list of major threats to the city. AG sending two to assist. I punched the short description of our activities into my phone and sent the message.
Database back at headquarters notified. We were in the system, and other heroes knew what we were doing.
Capricorn, Lookout, and Swansong were ready.
Spright and Shortcut were at the very edges of Lyme.
Two more bases to cover. The first went into a much cruder queue. The icon switched rapidly between ‘sending’, ‘sent’, ‘queued’, and then ‘read’.
We got a message back. ‘What are their names’. No question mark.
Nailbiter and Love Lost.
‘Not going to say no. Be safe – Nat.’
My eyebrows went up. Was she back? Or did she decide to get involved?
The second to last wasn’t as smooth. The ‘loading’ symbol played over the final bar, which was simply labeled ‘Wardens’. The option grayed out, a line struck through it. Then it shifted. A crown icon.
A crown for a monarch? An emperor? It was uncomfortable, but I doubted Kenzie had put that much thought into things.
Doubly uncomfortable that they knew what we were doing now.
Citrine or one of her employees sent their reply. Permission given. Good, to meet the self-imposed requirement of a thumbs-up from the higher-ups. Negative, on so many levels, that the higher-ups were who they were.
“The others want to meet up. They’re heading our way, since we’re closer to the car,” Rain said.
“They’re packed up and moving already,” I said.
“All energy and forward momentum.” Rain smiled.
“What do you think?” I asked him. “Any doubts?”
He didn’t have an immediate response for me.
“It’s okay to say no.”
“I’m-” Rain started. A group of people walked right behind the couch, one of them holding a bag that brushed Rain’s head. Sveta’s head craned around a bit more than a head should, studying the people. She dismissed them as normal.
“I’m thinking of how Ashley apparently backed off, the other night. She said she didn’t want to do the one thing, she knew she was bad at it and it was bad for her.”
“I respect that. I’d want to do that if I was more sure about anything. I’m pretty sure the three of us that are left are going to kill each other.” The last few words were whispered.
“But?” I asked.
“But I also feel pretty sure that if I don’t stop her, she’s going to hurt other people. I know her pretty well by now.”
The other three members of the group were at the second floor stage, looking down. They started the walk around to the stairs.
“Should we pack up?” Rain asked, hand on the lid of the laptop.
“Wait,” Sveta said. “Look.”
It was the cartoon overlay of things, showing the truck. Heading to the Lyme Center.
At the back of the truck, the roof and side had been slid away, revealing the gun within. The gun was lighting up, crackling with electricity, and slowly swiveling. Aiming at the camera.
My head snapped around to Lookout. She was at the top of the stairs, oblivious. I raised a hand, trying to get her attention.
“Shit,” Rain said.
She was too enamored with Ashley, chattering up a storm. Tristan had a hand out to make sure she wasn’t going to fall down the stairs, but he wasn’t looking at us either.
Phone out, I started to type. I knew it would be too slow.
“Powers?” I whispered.
Rain shook his head. At the same time, Sveta stood up. Her fingers, appearing like skin with the projector image that was on her, fumbled for and found her anchor necklace. She worked at the dial on the back.
“Sveta?” I asked.
“Please work,” she said, one hand gripping the wrist of her other arm.
The hand of that arm flickered and moved in a slightly out-of-sync way, before closing into a fist.
Above Sveta, I saw a line flash out, briefly appearing. One tendril, loosed to reach out. Aimed not at any person, but at- at the metal of the railing closest to our heads. It struck with a force that made a sharp ‘tang’ noise, followed by a duller echo of the same sound.
Anyone that had looked or seen would have seen just the briefest instance of the tendril going out and in- and it looked like she’d arced it well overhead, using the cloak and prevention of her necklace’s setting.
Nobody was shouting ‘parahuman, parahuman, danger!’ – there were no shrieks. Only people on the stairwell and near the railing who looked concerned, like the metal might fail as something came loose.
And we had the group’s attention. I indicated the laptop, and Lookout whipped out her phone.
Quick enough to see, too late to do anything.
The lights in the Lyme Center flickered and dimmed for a moment. The laptop we’d been using went black. From the look of Lookout’s reaction, she’d just lost her phone.
She’d have lost her last good flying camera, too.
People were still reacting to the sudden motion and the sound. Slowly, they settled, looking a little less at ease than before. Heads periodically looked skyward, as if assuming that some wire or cable had ripped loose and then been reeled in.
No eyes on us.
“Relax,” I said. “Take it easy. We draw more attention to ourselves by freaking out.”
Lookout, on the stairs, was clearly upset, all but stamping her feet in impotent anger.
“She has an emotion sense,” Rain said. “If she comes here, she’ll sense our emotions.”
“All the more reason to relax, take it easy,” I said. “Everyone here is a bit emotional.”
“I can guarantee you that I’m in the top two percent here. I have some pretty strong regrets when it comes to how things happened.”
There was no more way to tell how far away Love Lost was. The camera and laptop were dead.
The other three were still near the top of the stairs. I motioned for them to hang back, and then turned my eyes and my attention to the tunnel that led from the second floor of this half of the hourglass-shaped Center to the second floor of the other half.
Make sure you have an escape route.
We had our stuff packed and ready to go, the escape routes in mind. Above us and to our left, Kenzie, Tristan, and a disguised Ashley were leaning against the railing, looking out over the lounge and social area. The center of the hourglass and the passage to the other side were right behind them.
Love Lost arrived in civilian clothes. Her tinker had stayed behind. She wore a coat with a velvety texture, ankle-length and tailored to fit her figure, drawing in at the waist and then drawing in slightly from the hips. Her winter boots had platform heels, and I could see traces of metal along the boots. Claws ready to deploy.
I had snacks in my bag that I’d saved in case we’d ended up doing an outdoor stakeout or surveillance from the van. I found a bag of chips and opened it, sharing out the contents.
“What are you doing?” Sveta asked.
“Acting normal,” I said. “Don’t stare.”
Rain bit down on a chip.
Love Lost, Colt, and Nailbiter were weaving their way across the floor. Love Lost whispered something to Nailbiter, with Colt in earshot. Immediately, the other two started peering over the crowd more intently.
They knew we were here. They’d planned for the camera- no doubt because they knew how we’d operated in Cedar Point. She’d studied what we brought to the table and recruited a counter to Lookout.
Does a detective’s awareness of their environment and an emotion-senser’s ability let her pick us out from a crowd with any effectiveness?
I was trusting no, extrapolating from how Dean had described things. I was trusting that if it came down to it and she did see us, then they wouldn’t try too hard to get us. This was their territory, and as much as they seemed willing to shit where they ate, I had to assume that they wouldn’t slaughter the people in their own neck of the woods.
“Why is this working?” Rain asked.
“Emotional soup. There might be enough people here that feel just as awful as you do.”
I looked out over the crowd. “Only takes five or six.”
Love Lost found the people she wanted to talk to. It was maybe the biggest collection of people in the lounge area. With twenty-five seats, they had members of their group split across five or six. Right beneath Kenzie, Tristan, and Ashley, who peered down from the second floor railing. It might have been the third floor on another building’s layout, but this center had been built tall, open, and grand, so it might feel less claustrophobic in the midst of a harsh, hungry winter.
The anti-parahuman citizens having a face to face meeting with Love Lost. Pretty clear that they knew what she was, because they seemed pretty stone-faced until Colt arrived, acting as an interpreter or representative.
“They might have faced the facts and realized where they stand,” I murmured, before turning my eyes back to my chip bag. “They’re anti-parahuman, but there’s a limit to what humans can do. They might be hiring help.”
Love Lost took a seat. Colt was doing the talking, of course. Nailbiter hung back. The enforcer in this situation.
“Why?” Rain asked. “Something big?”
“I’m focused less on what and more on who,” I whispered. “What the hell would they be up to, that they’re hiring the parahumans they hate so much, and they’re hiring the most violent and reckless of them?”