Paragon City Stories: Darkness, Digitized
Hosted and Narrated by TIMESHADOW
Act I, Scene 1
Place: Pocket D
The thumping base of the interdimensional nightclub, Pocket D, reverberates from the walls. Strobe lights in a myriad of colors criss-cross the dance floor as party goers gyrate to the digitized tones of an electronic dance track. Outside the massive bay windows, the sky is locked in a pale shade of pink that makes it impossible to tell the time and keeps the party going twenty four hours a day. The club’s founder, DJ Zero, occupies his usual place on the raised platform in the center of the club.
But none of that interests you. You’re here for a meeting. As you make your way around the edge of the crowd you see what might be the strangest thing that’s ever crossed your path. A Rikti Monkey in a miniature tuxedo, complete with cummerbund and bow tie, hops toward you and gesticulates wildly with its spindly arms.
You stare at the creature as it continues to wave and point in your direction, all the while chittering in some unintelligible attempt at communication. After a moment it turns and begins to hop away in the opposite direction. You’re prepared to simply let it go when it stops, turns and motions for you to follow.
Thoroughly confused but also curious, you keep pace with the strange little thing as it leads you away from the dance floor and up to the club’s second level. It takes a moment to screech at a passing bartender before continuing on its way. The man dismisses what you can only assume to be some sort of rebuke with a simple wave over his shoulder.
Eventually you arrive at an innocuous looking door. The Rikti Monkey stands aside and motions for you to enter. Hesitantly, you push the door open and find a mahogany skinned man with dreadlocks sitting on a trendy looking couch. He’s accompanied by a svelte brunette in a slinky blue mini dress and expensive looking high heels. The two are chatting amicably but stop as they notice you standing in the doorway.
“Spasibo, lyubov’ moya” Devereaux says and pats the beautiful woman on the knee. Taking the hint, she smiles and gets up to leave the room. He takes a moment to admire the swish of her hips as she goes before turning to address the new arrivals.
“Hey-“ he starts to say but comes up short. Paige and Linuial are largely unchanged; the young prodigy looks like a typical sleep deprived college student and the seemingly immortal healer wears her usual airy smile. It’s the pair that comes in behind them that gives him cause for concern.
“So…where’s Tahq and who are these two?” he asks, raising an eyebrow and casting a suspicious glance in the direction of the hooded woman and what appears to be a bipedal cheetah. “I never would’ve pegged either of you for being into furries.”
The tiny blonde woman nods politely in the direction of the Praetorian. “Greetings, Xavier, I was a bit surprised to receive your message…it’s been, what, six months? More? You appear to be doing well.”
She steps to one side, and indicates the tawny-gold woman behind her with a slight wave of her hand. “This is Bubastis. Basti, Xavier Devereaux, Praetorian ex-patriot and professional scoundrel.” She laughs softly.
Her expression sobers. “Xavier, if I may, I’d like to speak with you privately, after your business is taken care of. I got the impression that it was rather…serious.” She selects a position on one of the couches and seats herself.
Bubastis is even tinier than Linuial. She appears to be an odd collection of several species of “big cat”, complete with a slightly flattened cheetah face and a golden lion’s mane. Her golden eyes never blink. Her skin is covered with tawny-gold fur, spangled with various spot patterns in different locations…a tiger-striped tail twitches nervously. Her hands are her most human-appearing feature, other than the golden fur, and scimitar-shaped claws curving from the place human nails would appear, up, forward, and over the ends of her fingertips. Those claws end in razor-sharp points.
She looks around the room, at the people, then walks over and perches on the edge of a chair. Her head and eyes move tablely, perusing everything around her.
Focusing on the Praetorian, she mimics Linuial’s nod. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Xavier Devereaux,” she intones, speaking slowly and distinctly.
Nyghtshade looks around at the group gathered in the corner of the upstairs lounge, and dips her head in greeting. “Evenin’,” she says quietly. “Azuria suggested Ah might want to meet with you all tonight. She felt it was important. Mah registered name’s Nyghtshade.”
She cuts a sideways glance at the cheetah girl, but does not react to the ‘furries’ comment, instead returning her attention to Devereaux, to whom the small blonde woman seems to have deferred.
Paige walks up to Xavier to hug him, but she is rebuffed… “Oh, right, nightclub. Ladies man. Got it.”
“Anyway, voicemail. Push the button and listen.” Paige offers her phone to Xavier, who takes it, then looks at it carefully as if it is an exotic rodent he’s handling for the first time. It’s in a green and white case with dangling charms in the corner hanging off of the case, complete with rubbed-off foundation caked in the corner of the screen. Yup, girl phone.
“Hi, guys… I tried calling Dev’s phone, but the voicemail was full. Anyway, PulseFire has found a break in her investigation of the Praetorian PPD officer who killed her mother. Huge break. She needs me to come help her, so I’m not able to come to Pocket D… later on if you need help, give me a call, and I’ll see what I can do. But right now, yeah, we’re playing a post-teenage wrecking crew in Imperial City. I’ll let you know how it went.”
“Does that answer one of your questions?” Paige asks taking the phone back. “I don’t think Tahquitz knows how text messaging works, I’ve texted him countless times and never get an answer.”
Nyght remains standing, taking in the fact that some of the group is clearly already acquainted, and awaiting an invitation to join them.
Paige sees the woman in purple, and smiles. “We haven’t been introduced… I’m Paige, I go to college full-time… I do this stuff on the side. Azuria? Tahquitz mentioned her a few times, mostly good, some bad… He said he gave her nightmares once or something.”
“It’s kind of hot in here, you’re not sweltering in that hood and gloves?” Paige asks.
“A pleashoah to meet you, Paige. And Ah’m comfortable enough,” Nyght replies with a smile. But she does push back her hood, revealing long auburn locks, and a heart-shaped face, very pale complected, with red lips and streaks of dramatically red eyeliner.
“Mind if Ah join you all?”
“Sure!” Paige says, sliding down the couch to give her room to sit. “Linuial! It’s good to see you! You look amazing!” Paige grins to her, “And I didn’t get your name… Bub- Buba?” she looks at the humanoid cat… “You look fearful, I don’t want to get it wrong,” she chuckles nervously.
Devereaux hands the phone back to Paige and sighs. “Can’t say I blame him for chasing a girl. Still, it’d be nice to have the extra firepower.”
He turns an appraising gaze on Bubastis. “Genetic hybrid, right? Rough job. I guess the splicing tech here’s not as good as the stuff we have back home. Looks like you can do some damage with those claws though. Maybe I can leave the Night Widow at home this time.” He punctuates the words with a smirk. “Good to meet you.”
“As for you,” he addresses the young woman in the deep purple outfit. “I take it you’re some kinda caster. Or is it mage? I’m never sure what you magic types prefer to be called. You may as well c’mon in and get comfortable.”
Reaching into a travel bag tucked away next to the couch he’s sitting on, he retrieves a handful of manila folders. “We’ll talk, Linuial, but you’re right. This isn’t a social call. We’ve got business to discuss.”
Nyght acknowledges the invitation with a smile, and settles a bit primly beside Paige on the couch. “Oh, Ah’m not a mage,” she corrects Devereaux. “Ah don’t do magic, Ah just kind of… am magic. Now.” She pauses, then conscientiously corrects herself. “OK, Ah can do one magic spell, just a little one foah changin’ from costume to clothes and back. But not very helpful in a fight.”
“If yo’ah askin’ what Ah can do in a fight, though, let’s just say Ah have some mental abilities, ways to stun or confuse foes so that they turn on one anotheh instead of me or mah teammates. And Ah can… um… draw energy from them, and share it with teammates, to heal or increase theah own energy, or speed up theah reflexes, that kind of thing. And most times, if Ah need to, Ah can make it pretty hard foah people to see me.”
She pauses, looking around the group, before carefully adding, “And there’s telepathy. Ah can do that, if yo’ah in line-of-sight. But not without yo’ah permission. Ah don’t intrude on friends.”
“You’re in good company,” Devereaux says telepathically, his mental voice filled with ironic laughter.
“One problem. You said Azuria sent you. I didn’t tell anyone at M.A.G.I. about this. So how exactly did Azuria know where we’d be and what made her think you’d be the right kind of hero to get in on the action?”
“Why, she’s a Seer,” Nyght replies, as if it were obvious. “You know, visions? She isn’t big on sharin’ details, but when she tells you yo’ah needed somewheah, you can be pretty shoah it’s important. She told me she’d seen that Ah’d be needed heah. So, heah Ah am.”
“Mystics…” Devereaux replies exasperatedly. “Well, you’re already here and I’m not one to turn down free help. If M.A.G.I’s top soothsayer’s willing to vouch for you, you must be halfway decent. Welcome to the team.”
“Fair warning, things tend to get a little weird whenever we hang out,” he adds with another smirk. “Here, you’ll need one of these. That goes for all of you.” He lays the folders out on the table in front of him.
“Uh…does she read or…” he motions toward Bubastis but the question is directed squarely at Linuial.
“Thank you, but I’ve only received six months of training. Reading wasn’t considered to be essential, as yet…it was thought I needed expanded verbal English first. I hope to learn to read in the future.”
Turning to Paige, Bubastis continues. “You may call me Basti, if you like. Why do you think I look afraid?” Her feline facial anatomy lacks the requisite muscles and nerves to change her expression, but she refrains from explaining.
A teasing if conspiratorial smile on her face, the blonde woman raises an eyebrow in Devereaux’s direction.
“Basti can speak for herself, as you can see,” she prompts.
She reaches for a folder. “If it’s needed, I can fill her in later.”
Nyghtshade reaches for a folder as well, and sits back, flipping it open to examine the documents inside.
“So I see,” Devereaux replies without taking his eyes off Bubastis. After a moment, he shakes his head, picks up the nearest folder, and flips it open.
“A week ago, I was contacted to take on some…extralegal work here in Paragon. Crey Corporation’s been developing an advanced neural network computer. Leaving out the technical jargon, it’s a hell of a lot more powerful than the stuff DARPA uses to keep tabs on terrorists.”
“The client wanted the research data and any schematics I could recover. Fairly standard op. At least it was until I saw these.” With a flick of the wrist, he tosses four enlarged photographs onto the table. One is a candid shot of Paige studying in the Paragon University library. The second is a covert photo of Linuial as she leads her supergroup in an effort to rescue the victims of a building fire in Steel Canyon. In the third picture, Tahquitz walks hand in hand with his girlfriend, PulseFire.
But it’s the fourth photo that cuts to the point. It showcases a sealed bag marked “Evidence.” Inside it is a harlequin mask bedecked with slate gray scales. Jagged markings the color of blood adorn the forehead and chin.
“For you newbies, this is some of the evidence the PPD collected after the last time Paige, Linuial, and I were all thrown together. It’s a mask worn by a Seneschal in the Carnival of Vengeance. In case you’re not familiar with ‘em, they’re a Praetorian group that did a merger with the Carnival of Shadows a few months ago. We found out they were murdering people who had doppelgangers here on Primal Earth in order to take control of their assets.”
He holds his hands apart and shrugs his shoulders in a gesture of not knowing. “I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘So? What’s one got to do with the other?’ Take a look at the fifth page. Those are some research notes I managed to procure from a guy who’s got reason to dislike the Countess. It seems the friendly scientists over at Crey are basing their new technology on the mental network the Carnival uses to keep tabs on its members.”
Linuial’s brows knit into an uncharacteristic frown. She shakes her head.
“Xavier…you are saying that these photos were taken by someone other than yourself? Can you tell us who sent you these photos? Obviously, they have some interest in all four of us…and that could mean anyone who was present at the Mayor’s emergency meeting. It almost feels like…a warning. And I tend to take those kinds of things very seriously.”
Devereaux steeples his fingers in front of his face.
“That’s the problem. In my line of work confidentiality is at a premium. I do research on my clients for insurance in case things go sideways but I can’t always pinpoint who they are. This is one of those.”
The blonde woman flips through her file again, still frowning.
“A client who has a reason to conceal their identity, and who has been essentially stalking 3 of us…I don’t see a photo of you, Xavier, if they have one they obviously didn’t feel the need to send it to you…and who knows exactly how it is that we four met. Anyone in City Hall that night could have taken that photo of the Vengeance mask, it wouldn’t have had to be an invited attendee, it sat out in the hall before it was brought into the meeting room…but they would have had to have gotten past the PPD guard at the electronically locked door to the entry. So…it must have been someone cleared by PPD. If not an attendee, then City Hall service personnel, or PPD itself. That’s still a very large number of people.” She shakes her head. “I don’t like this, Xavier.”
After a moment, she continues. “You say Crey is using Carnival technology…but which Carnival? All of them? Can we at least narrow it down that much?”
“Not quite,” Devereaux corrects Linuial.
“There’s nothing to suggest that Crey actually has the mask. It looks like the computer imitates the Carnival’s mental link by drawing on the resources and processing power from other machines. I’m not sure how much you know about network architecture but from what I can tell, it’s essentially a suped up botnet. There’s a central unit that can draw on the satellite systems just like the Carnival leadership can leech off the minds of their subordinates.”
He takes a moment to ponder Linuial’s question before continuing. “We took a lot of prisoners that day on the Cutlass Isles. If Crey wanted a Shadows mask, they could’ve gotten one. We have to assume this project’s based on Vengeance.”
“So…” Nyghtshade speaks up, “yo’ah suggestin’ Crey has found a way to mechanically duplicate what was a magical process, to draw in minds and link them to a central, what, operator? And to what end? If it weah a way to communicate and organize heroes to respond betteh to a crisis… well, theah’s already plenty of technology to do that. If it’s to, well, at the risk of bein’ dramatic, to enslave people as the Carnival did and force them to serve anotheh, that’s tech we need to find and put an end to, yes?”
“As foah the pictures of the mask, and of several of you… why take those pictures? If the Carnival of Vengeance felt you are dopplegangehs heah of people in Praetoria, then what might you have that they want? Or… what might you have in common, foah them to take as an asset, or defeat as a threat?”
“And that’s just assumin’ we’ah dealin’ with Carnival at all. Maybe we’ah dealin’ with Crey instead? Assumin’ they do have tech based on Carnival mental magics, Ah’m guessin’ they might not want someone interferin’ with it.”
“Just speculation, of course.”
Shaking his head at Nyghtshade’s speculation, Devereaux responds.
“Nothing quite so sinister as that. What we’re dealing with is a computer that has the power to draw on the resources of any number of other machines. PCs, smart phones, maybe even the processing units in cars. Think about what that kind of thing could do if, say, someone wanted to decrypt nuclear launch codes. A process that should take weeks, it could do in a few minutes. Knowing my usual clients, that’s a quality they’d find very attractive.”
“And that says nothing about the potential for theft. With a tool like that, you could download the entire Social Security registry in the time it takes to brew a cup of coffee. Whoever controlled it would literally have the world at their fingertips.”
“Watch, document, coerce and control… What Crey does best.” Paige said.
“I’m not following their exploits actively, but I’ve seen the documentaries on them over the years, and no amount of press releases, TV statements, and sound bites can wave away the ‘doctored’ footage of chemical spills, biological waste, and hidden cemetaries of illegal cloning operations. I don’t doubt for a second it’s for less than honorable purposes,” Paige said, “Granted, I’m not a cause-head or social justice warrior, but after reaching a certain size, moral relativism stops becoming an excuse for a corporation.”
Linuial closes the folder and lays it aside, then stares into the distance for a moment before she speaks. “What you are describing is achievable today with ordinary technology. Cyber criminals around the world have long had the ability to build ‘zombie’ networks out of home and business computers using root kits and Trojans. They often use them for DOS attacks…’denial of service’, for the uninitiated.” She smiles in Bubastis’s direction. “There wouldn’t be any need for Crey to borrow Carnie technology, unless they were building something far superior…or their goal was far more dangerous…and long term.”
“I’m going to be honest, my milieu is psychology, not technology.”
“I’m not going to be much help on the actual problem, but I can say this in wholehearted agreement with the rest of those photographed here: I don’t like being watched,” Paige said, “I want to know who got these images and why.”
The blonde woman shakes her head, turns to Devereaux. “We have a lot of questions, and darned few answers, nor do I see a lot in the way of leads. Crey, and someone who has apparently been stalking a select group of people with only one thing in common: The Carnival of Vengeance in Primal Earth. Knowing you, you obviously have a plan, or at least a starting point. I know you also prefer to work alone. You didn’t call us here to share some warm and fuzzy memories.
“Care to share the rest of it with us? I have a feeling that time may not be on our side.”
Nyght has leaned back against the couch, relaxing slightly as she follows the conversations back and forth. She nods at Paige & Linuial’s assessment of Crey motives, and waits for Devereaux’s response to the Linuial’s question.
“You’re right on both counts, Blondie. To put it plainly, we’re gonna do the job.”
Devereaux pauses for a moment to take a sip from a glass of whiskey poised on the edge of the table. “Nothing better than a good single malt”
“My contact on this is a cyber security officer. According to him, Crey keeps anything this big encrypted with a discontinuous algorithm. To access the data we’ll need two seperate encryption keys. Fortunately, I know where they are. So we get them, get into the network hub, and destroy it along with anything that could let Crey’s scientists rebuild the thing.”
Linuial nods. “Pretty much what I expected. I’ve already made arrangements…my SG will cover my absence. Since you obviously had a serious need for my particular talents, I am at your disposal for the foreseeable future. I assume the rest will need to make their own preparations. Just tell me where to meet with you, and when. I’ll be there.”
She pauses. “Before you leave, Xavier, I do need a few minutes with you in private.”
She gets up, crosses to the bar, and returns with a gin and tonic, and settles into the sofa.
“I can destroy things for sure,” Paige says, as she picks up her empty plastic bottle of ParaCola, “Cover your ears…” she says telepathically to everyone as she throws the bottle up into the air and rubs her wrists together, then watches the bottle drop harmlessly onto the ground as no sound emanated from her skin contact.
“What gives? I was going to pulse that bottle open,” she looks around, then a bouncer waves at Paige to catch her attention, then wags his finger as he then points at a sign bolted to the wall: “WARNING: ACTIVE POWER SUPPRESSION IS IN EFFECT. - NO FIREARMS, KNIVES OR OTHER WEAPONS ALLOWED. - FAILURE TO COMPLY RESULTS IN DIMENSIONAL EJECTION.”
“Sorry, I’ve never been here before…” she calls out to the bouncer, before shrinking back into the couch, twisting the hard kevlar armband around her wrist that has the same thing written in three languages: “no hay bebidas - juvenil, pas de boissons pour les mineurs, Serve No Drinks - MINOR”. She can only remove it on the way out as the bouncer outside has a tool to disengage it… after she passes a breathalyzer test.
The bouncer walks forward to Paige, then leans down to pick up the bottle, tossing it into recycling. He then heads back to the door and returns to watching everyone.
Nyght directs a sympathetic smile to Paige, with a nod toward the Bouncer. “House Rules at the ‘D’, Shugah. DJ Zero’s firm on the whole no-powers-in-the-D thing, and really, with all kinds of heroes and villains mixed up in heah, can’t you just imagine the carnage that could break out if his ban wasn’t in play?”
She turns to Devereaux. “Ah’m glad to help you all out in any way Ah can. Ah’ll just step out of the D to make mah arrangements with mah own SG, let them know Ah’m workin’ with yoah team for a while.”
She pauses, and fishes a small notepad and pen out of a pouch on the side of her belt, a pouch crammed with small medi-porters. She writes out a number on a slip from the pad and offers it to Devereaux.
“Ah’ll give you all some privacy, since Liniual needs to talk with you, Mr. Devereaux. Heah’s mah numbeh. You can call me when yo’ah ready to gatheh and get goin’ on yoah plan.”
“Likewise. I’ll do some homework on Crey myself. But first, I’m going to check this place out… Basti, Nyghtshade, a pleasure to meet you both. Lin, Dev, you know how to find me… Good to see the two of you again!”
Paige gathers her things and looks around at the club past the VIP Room… “It’s so… big.”
“It’s just Devereaux. I don’t stand on ceremony with people I could potentially get killed with later.” He smiles and tucks the slip of paper into a pocket. “I’ll see you both before too long.”
Once Nyghtshade and Paige have gone, he takes another, longer pull on his drink before addressing Linuial. “Y’know we’ve never had much luck with these little private chats. Knowing you, you’re either gonna give a sermon or say something cryptic and try to pass it off as casual commentary. So, which is it?”
“I have no interest in saving your soul, as you put it,” she smiles briefly. “You’re on your own with that one.”
The uncharacteristic frown returns. “Xavier, I’m going to ask you to allow Bubastis to join this team, but before you agree, I need to fill you in on some facts about her. You’re not easily frightened, and I’m hoping that will be enough.”
She pulls a folded sheet of paper from a pocket, unfolds it, back-folds the creases, and stares at it, then glances at Bubastis, who is still sitting quietly, alert to her surroundings.
“The project that created Basti was operated in secret, as they were completely ignoring several international treaties on human DNA experimentation. The very fact of its existence has been assigned Top Secret classification; I have to inform you of it, but I must also request that you not reveal anything I’m about to tell you to anyone else. Ever.
“PPD received an anonymous tip, and Starfire was one of the SGs pulled in for the raid on the facility, about a week after the Carnival of Vengeance incident; the facility was a full-scale fenced campus with several buildings. After hearing about the raid, the tipster identified himself and…well…perhaps it would be just as well if you just read the summary for yourself.”
She hands the creased paper to Devereaux.
(Paragon Police Department
Raid on African Biodiversity Products, Inc.
(Excerpted from final report from G.I.F.T.): “All nine adult males (lion-tiger-leopard-cheetah-human hybrid experimental subjects) were found to be both lethal and intractable. Husbandry personnel reported that none of the hybrids had ever been allowed out of their cages from the age of six months, for fear of personnel injury. All were trained to respond to verbal command by two trainers. When one of those trainers were brought in, they were able to successfully induce the males to retreat to the back of their cages, but upon approach to the cage door by any personnel other than the trainer, the males would throw themselves bodily at the door in an attempt to surprise and overcome them, and achieve freedom.
“Extensive interviews with ABP personnel, from handlers to trainers to the genetics staff, clearly indicate that no alteration in behavior can be expected by any known means, other than keeping them heavily sedated for the rest of their lives. The alternatives would be custodial care in confinement until natural death occurs, or termination.
“Re: the male involved in the injuries to Police Captain Sandling during the raid; as the male broke both his forearms and his lower jaw against his cage bars during the attack, leaving him unable to feed, and no personnel can effectively treat the hybrid’s devastating injuries, the decision was made to euthanize the hybrid for humane reasons.
“The four female hybrids and the two juvenile males in the so-called “dormitory” were found to be only slightly more tractable than the adult males.
“The female with two infants, and the gravid female, were equally difficult to assess, let alone handle.
“One female in the breeding department was found to be of a comparatively quiet demeanor. It was discovered that the anonymous tip had been called in by a caretaker who had been fired two years earlier, and who apparently had a crisis of conscience. He requested to be allowed to enter the facility, and pointed out this one female as being potentially salvageable. His demonstrations of interaction with the female, designated Breeder Three, were taken into consideration in the final disposition of the live hybrids.
“Final tally: nine adult males, two juvenile males, four adult females, one gravid female, and one female with two cubs, along with seventeen embryos and two cubs ‘in training’ were eventually euthanized, this being considered to be the best possible outcome for all involved. No effort was made to establish citizenship, as this was considered to be a futile pursuit, and possibly deleterious to the well-being of the subjects.
“Only the hybrid designated “Breeder Three” was removed from PPD custody, and turned over to Hero Affairs under supervision by G.I.F.T. for further investigation, being made legally a “Ward of the State”. Further consideration of citizenship is being postponed until full assessment of the hybrid’s personality and capabilities can be finalized, as well as potential for harm.
“In light of the internal ABP designation ‘The Bubastis Project’, ‘Breeder Three’ has been redesignated ‘Bubastis’. All further documentation is to reflect this change.”
Devereaux reads the document carefully. He pauses several times to assess the information before moving on until he reaches the bottom of the page.
“Illegal genetic experiments, a daring raid on a secret facility, and a lone survivor. It’s all very dramatic but I’m not sure what this has to do with the team. Are you telling me I need to worry about her trying to claw my face off? If that’s what you’re getting at, don’t worry. I’m a telepath and a Dominator at that. Control is kinda my thing. Besides, she seems docile enough.”
To illustrate the point, he raises a hand toward Bubastis. “Did you want a drink? I’m sure they’ve got milk in this place somewhere. Or, if you prefer, there’s plenty of booze lying around.”
“I…” She visibly hesitates. “…no, thank you. Perhaps another time.”
“I was hoping you would say that. This would be Basti’s first mission. We won’t know how she will handle herself under the stress of battle until she has actual field experience. I’ll be her mentor, and I will be responsible for anything…unexpected…that happens, which I hope will be nothing, of course.” Her expression brightens as worry drops away.
“This first mission is key to proving that she can be trusted enough to actually work for Hero Corps, and possibly even attain citizenship.” She laughs, once again regaining her usual demeanor. “Thank you for giving her…giving us…a chance.”
She finishes her drink, collects the creased sheet of paper, gathers Bubastis by eye, and turns to go. “Call me when the team is ready.”
“Without Tahq we’re down one in the heavy hitter department. As long as she can fight we’ll get along just fine. Anything beyond that is your business.”
He drains the dregs from his glass and reaches down for his travel bag. “I’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to move forward. For now, I’m gonna go enjoy the festivities.”
Slinging the bag over one shoulder, he nods to Linuial and Bubastis in turn. “Do svidanya.”
The meeting concluded, your team disperses to make their own preparations. Unbeknownst to the club crawlers mobbing the dance floor, you are all about to embark on yet another adventure. The course it will take remains unclear but one thing is certain. As always, danger will be around every bend.