Precipice 12.7

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Conglomerate Shelter, somewhere beneath the Pacific Ocean – Tuesday, the 19th of June 2012. 07:09 AM.
 
 
“It’s changing you,” Ryan observed. He settled back in his chair, glancing at Chris’s face as though he wasn’t sure he wanted to be looking at her.

“What is?” Chris asked. She sat on the cot across from Ryan, leaning back against the cold metal wall. She welcomed the chill that crept up her skin. It gave her an opportunity to feel something other than restless anxiety.

“This place. It’s getting to you, messing with your head, and you don’t even notice.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” It was a deliberate lie, an invitation for Ryan to have an actual conversation with her. Or at least something more than the one-word exchanges that had defined their coexistence for the past twenty-four hours.

“You just told me how you dumped two dead bodies into a shredder-hole in the ground. Two people, tortured to death by our captors. And all you care about is the sound of the ocean coming from somewhere below?” Ryan raised his voice a notch. While there was no anger in it, there was an emotion there, but it was one that Chris could not place.

There was a moment where she thought he was going to jump off his chair, grab her by the shoulders, and shake her. Part of her wished he did exactly that – showed her he cared. He didn’t, though.

“They were already dead. I couldn’t do anything for them,” Chris argued. “I do care about people I can help. About you. About the guy next door who’s probably going to die next if he doesn’t compose some power-boosting tracks for the villains. About the family of six that’s trapped here, and everyone back home. It’s just….”

She paused there, trying to find the right word. Something to get her point across to Ryan without setting off any villain alerts.

He finished before she could. “Priorities. Yeah. I understand. To a point.” His tone softened, and he leaned forward in his chair, now looking straight at her. “But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re turning into someone I don’t recognize. I don’t know what to make of it.”

Are you afraid I’m going to become a villain after all? No, that couldn’t be true. Ryan had been her best friend for most of her teenage years. He, of all people, should know better than to assume she’d turn to the dark side. Chris swallowed the question. His doubt stung, but she’d be damned if she let him know. He had given her no insight into how he felt, hadn’t asked for her help or support.

“You already didn’t recognize me when I was a Warden,” she said instead, hating the way her voice wobbled. “I stopped a gigantic robot from turning Seattle into a battlefield. I went chasing after Legion, then dealt with the villain attack on New York until I broke my arm and everyone insisted I should take it easy for a while. You never responded to any of my text messages.”

I’m so sorry about Helen, she wanted to add, but the words dissolved in her mouth and her eyes began to burn before she could pull her mind away from those damn text messages. She wasn’t going to cry in front of Ryan. If she wasn’t his pillar of support, then who was going to be the strong one?

He said nothing. His features softened, though, and his eyes broke contact with hers, giving her a moment to compose herself. She was grateful for it.

“I know I should have been proud of you,” he finally said. “You were charging ahead, making the best of your situation. I wasn’t as strong as you were. I was in a bad place.”

Chris wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Opening herself to the anger she’d been holding back for weeks helped keep the tears at bay. “Don’t give me the ‘I didn’t want to drag you down’ speech, okay? A good luck was all I needed.”

After another moment of awkward silence, Ryan rose from his chair, walked over to the cot, and settled down beside her. Too stunned to speak or anticipate his intention, Chris leaned into the wall at her back – the reassuring, predictable coldness of it – until he slipped his arms around her and pulled her against his chest.

He’s so warm was her first, dazed thought. He was skinnier than she remembered, and the rough stubble of his jaw scratched her cheek in a pleasant way. As his warmth seeped into her, her eyes misted over. Stupid tears rolled down her face. But Chris didn’t care anymore. She was happy to simply relish in the realization that Ryan didn’t hate her.

“Do you have a plan?” he whispered after a long moment of silence.

“No,” she whispered back, avoiding eye contact with the tiny camera lens that was embedded in the wall at the head end of the cot.

At the same time, she slipped her left hand into the two inches of space that separated Ryan’s stomach from her hip. Yes, she drew in big letters, using his chest as a notepad.

“That’s alright. Let’s just see what happens and make the best of it.” His fingers went up to her back, slipped underneath her hoodie, and drew a question mark onto her skin.

“I looked around a bit, but of course they didn’t give me an opportunity to leave the high security area. Figuring out that the dead get flushed into the sea was my biggest discovery.” Chris dropped her voice to a low whisper, as if she was actually trying to make their conversation a private one. Of course, she was, but her voice took no part in it.

Her finger trailed across Ryan’s stomach to leave a different message. Data, she wrote. After a brief pause to let him form the connections between the big, crooked letters, she added Lark.

She wasn’t sure if he understood. Probably not, but they couldn’t discuss details right now. And as much as she wanted to tell him how her power had almost worked during her tussle with Rampage, that subject was also taboo until she discovered a better means of private communication than finger messages scribbled on skin.

“You’ll figure something out,” he whispered back. His hand gently pressed against her back before adding another sequence of words: I TRUST U.

The words – or maybe it was the touch of his fingers and the warmth of his breath – made Chris’s heart flip in her chest, forcing her to pull back before Ryan picked up any cues from her body. She knew the difference between a friendly, supportive embrace and something more, and this didn’t classify as ‘something more’. There never had been and never would be something more. And considering the situation she and Ryan were in, her non-existent love life wasn’t exactly a priority.

Help the Oracle and ask her for advice, Chris instructed herself. Protect her. Investigate the mysterious door. Data. And Lark. She recited the three names – Oracle, Lark, Data – in her mind until her pulse slowed and her face no longer felt flushed.

Ryan’s arms fell away from her. “I mean it,” he said.

Chris could tell he was trying to sound reassuring, but, to her, he sounded like he was someplace far away. “I know,” she managed to say.

Before either of them could resume the conversation, Gentleman’s chipper voice resounded over the wall-mounted intercom near the door. “You little lovebirds are a delight to watch. Would ‘right now’ be a bad time to remind you of your promise?”

Chris tensed on reflex. Yes, it was a bad time. She had no power to resist the summoning, though. Gentleman knew this as well as she did.

She quickly reached for Ryan’s hand, squeezing it as she gave her response. “No. What’s going to happen next? More Power Zero injections?” She glanced to the window, relieved to discover that none of the villains were waiting for her on the other side.

Ryan’s expression darkened. His fingers tightened around hers, seeking reassurance.

“Oh, no,” Gentleman’s voice replied. “Not this time. We’re going to improvise and deviate from the script tonight. Are you excited?”

“Yeah,” Chris lied. Her heart was thrumming in her chest again, though for different reasons. She couldn’t help but wonder whether Gentleman’s script change included a gruesome death scene, featuring the disposable heroine. It was comforting to know that apparently, she’d get to keep her powers. At least she wasn’t going to die as a helpless victim tonight.

“Very well, then. Raise your eyes and behold your costume, delivered straight to your suite!”

Chris frowned in confusion. I’m going to wear a costume?

She looked up. Above the center of her cell, a section of steely ceiling retracted, revealing a hatch as wide as the length of her forearm. Something dark and baggy fell through, crashing onto the vacated folding table with a harsh thud. After delivering the package, the hatch closed seamlessly.

Gentleman’s cheerful announcement made it easy for Chris to process what she was looking at. The ‘gift’ on the table was indeed a costume, the kind of outfit a villain might pick out for a nighttime mission in hostile territory. It consisted of a Kevlar-reinforced black leather bodysuit, complete with boots, gloves and a full face helmet whose visor modeled a grinning red devil’s face. The costume’s purpose was clear enough.

No one’s going to recognize the bear mascot among the wolves.

“What happens after I put this on?” Chris asked.

“You will, of course, be relocated,” Gentleman informed. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you will be working with my crew, or that your friend here will pay the price if you make trouble for any of them.”

“Chris,” Ryan whispered. Chris felt his hand close around her wrist,  but she ignored it. She had a hunch as to what he was about to say, and she couldn’t afford to listen. She had to do this. She couldn’t allow him to change her mind.

“Fine,” she said. “How about some privacy so I can change?”

“Your wish is my command,” Gentleman warbled. “You would do well not to keep us waiting, however.”

“Chris. Listen to me,” Ryan went on, louder this time.

“I won’t,” Chris said, unsure as to whom she was responding to. Her throat was suddenly raw. She stood and made a step towards the table with the costume on it, but Ryan’s fingers held her wrist in an iron grip, holding her back.

She lowered her eyes in dismay. “You know I have to do this.”

He tugged on her arm, forcing her to turn back and face him. His eyes were clear and wide, but overly bright.  “I’m not going to talk you out of it,” he said. There was a pause, a moment of trepidation before he pulled her closer, his lips right by her ear. He lowered his voice to a whisper that was scarcely audible.

“If the choice ever comes between me and everyone else, I don’t want you to hesitate.”

The words she’d prepared for him died in her mouth. After what felt like an eternity, Chris managed a small nod. It was all she could do to keep herself from crying again.

 

+++

 

Chris soon discovered that her black devil costume served more purposes than identity concealment. The helmet and chest piece had been reinforced with strands of Kevlar, and a cursory inspection of the multilayered material revealed suspicious lengths of wire and other hard, heavy parts that seemed mechanical in nature.

Are they going to blow me up if I don’t play along? The thought should have been shocking to Chris, but it didn’t come as a surprise, and she couldn’t even find the energy to get riled up over it. She hadn’t been injected with Power Zero. Naturally, the villains wanted some kind of reassurance that she wasn’t going to turn on them.

As if Ryan’s life wasn’t enough of a motivator.

Chris changed into the black costume in silence, decidedly avoiding Ryan’s clouded gaze. The reinforced leather was stiffer and heavier than the outdoors sports garb Chris was accustomed to, but after some trial and error she managed to squeeze herself into the nearly skintight outfit. Fortunately for her sanity, she didn’t need to strip down further than her tank top and biker shorts. The reinforced leather was uncomfortably heavy, but flexible enough as to not hinder movement. She supposed she’d be able to run short distances in it if she had to.

For Ryan’s benefit, she decided not to mention the wire stuffing. He looked stressed enough as it was.

In silent agreement, they skipped any goodbye. Poignant goodbyes in books and movies always seemed to invite tragedy, and Chris wanted to go into this mission with a memory of the Ryan she’d experienced minutes before. The skin on her back tingled, remembering the message he’d left there.

I TRUST U.

Chris jerked her costume’s front zipper upward. “I’m ready,” she declared, facing the intercom.

The reaction was immediate. The steely-gray walls, the window and the intercom dissolved, leaving her momentarily disoriented. When her brain was ready to piece her new surroundings together, she found herself in a square room that was much smaller than the one she’d just left behind. There was no window. Smooth metal walls fenced her in on all sides; Chris could have touched them all by extending her elbows. The only door was a rectangular gash in the wall to her left, barely visible in the dim yellow light cast by a single light bulb.

There was a large wall-mounted screen right ahead of her. As she was staring at it, it flickered on to display a still image of the UN’s lightning bolt emblem. Chris didn’t ask about it; she raised the one question that was burning in her gut right that moment.

“Who was swapped into the cell with Ryan in place of me?”

The answer came from the screen, though the voice wasn’t Gentleman’s. It was cool and articulate, without a trace of fake enthusiasm. “One of the guardsmen. He’ll be keeping your spot until after the mission.”

Chris recognized the voice. It belonged to King, the villain who’d spoken up in her defense when the others had discussed her punishment for failing to please. She wasn’t so naïve as to believe he’d done it out of the kindness of his heart, but the fact that he was addressing her now gave her hope that she’d be tackling this mission with someone who wasn’t a total nutcase.

“I want to see Ryan before we get started,” she said. “Make sure he’s okay.”

“If you insist.”

The UN logo vanished from the screen. As prompted, the screen showed her a top-down view of her cell as seen by one ceiling-mounted cameras. Ryan sat on the cot with his head down, his face concealed by wavy strands of tousled brown hair, and his fingers knotted together between his knees.. The chair across from him was now occupied by a man in full body armor. The guard held a cigarette with one hand and a machine gun with the other, keeping the barrel trained at Ryan’s chest.

Chris rubbed her face with her fingers. “Alright. Tell me how this is going to go down,” she forced herself to say.

“Our mission takes place in an underground complex in the Middle East,” King explained with an instructor’s patience. “We have already infiltrated the upper levels. Our goal is to reach the bottom, where Sanctuary and the Oracle have been kept for the past three weeks.”

“So we’re going to a prison,” Chris suggested. Once again, she couldn’t bring herself to be shocked. All of her emotions were expended elsewhere.

“The UN would never describe it as such,” King said. “And the lower levels are quite comfortable, I’m told. But yes, there was a point in time when the UN’s Small Assembly meant to contain and study dangerous Evolved whose powers had been warped to abnormal levels by drug abuse. The Sleepwalker was their first target, but could never be contained.”

Right. He exists in his own reality, unaffected by any power, attack or trap. Chris refrained from pointing out the obvious and waited for King to finish his introductory speech.

“You might remember the shadow-spawning abomination who transitioned in Prague. He was reportedly high on LSD when he gained his powers, and the Covenant almost couldn’t stop him. The UN claimed that he was executed on the spot, but the truth is that he died here, in this facility. Naturally, the authorities you used to fight for never bothered telling anyone else about this. Not even their own heroes.”

Chris could no longer curb her impatience. “What’s the point of telling me, then? The Shadowspawner is dead, and we won’t be fighting the Sleepwalker down there. Who are we fighting?” If there was any risk of innocents getting caught up in the crossfire, she wanted to know now.

“I’m filling you in because one of the captives isn’t dead. The agents in charge of the facility are about to realize we’re on our way in, and when they do, they’re going to order Sanctuary to retract his peace aura. Expect them to use every weapon in their arsenal against you. Including their captive.”

You. Not us. Chris clenched her jaw at the villain’s word choice, knowing that couldn’t expect the UN’s security to recognize her as a heroine. It was doubtful that she’d have the time or opportunity to explain her situation. And there was something else that was bothering her.

“Who is this captive, exactly?” she asked.

“Null. I don’t expect you to recognize the name.”

“I don’t,” Chris admitted.

“His name is a reflection of the fact that he never had one. Not as an Evolved, at any rate. Null gained his powers while passed out after a drug overdose; he was subdued and disappeared before the public became aware of him. He spawns physical reflections of other people’s emotions that are quite attached to their host – and often deadly. I should add that his range covers the entire facility, and that he doesn’t require line of sight. He is being kept in cryostasis.”

“And you believe they’re going to wake him up.”

“That’s a possibility, yes.”

“Who’s going in there with me?” Chris asked.

Even after Ryan’s image was long gone, she kept staring at blank screen in apathy-induced stupor, wondering which of Gentleman’s villains had pissed their boss off so much that he was willing to risk their lives in there. The head of the Conglomerate had to be aware of how her powers worked; Data was the ghost in the machine, capable of pulling every bit of hero information from every server including any American hero database. The Wardens therapist and the DoD had been aware of how Chris’s powers worked. If she hated someone, the forcefield she projected onto them would offer the protection value of a wet paper bag.

“I’ll be leading the mission,” King said, seemingly unfazed.

He was the one Conglomerate member whose powers Chris hadn’t been able to identify. She had seen him levitate above his chair, and that was it. His unwavering confidence convinced her to place him into the ‘big shot who could most likely solo this mission’ category. And because he had spoken up in her defense, she couldn’t even bring herself to hate him.

“Anyone else?” she asked.

“Yes,” came the answer. “Magpie and Rampage.”

And with that, the screen flickered back to life, now showing two heavily armed and armored guards in a hallway. Before Chris could blink, one of them vanished from view. A tall male clad in a black leather costume with a demon mask appeared in his place.

“It’s go time,” King said.
 

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13 thoughts on “Precipice 12.7

  1. The guest post on Corpies was a great success! 4.5K views over 3 days, and many visitors binged through a large number of chapters. However, all those views made me feel a little self-conscious about the still unedited arcs. I wish I could wave my magic wand and transform them all into the kind of reading experience I want them to be, but time is so frustratingly short and progress is so slow.

    That said, any comments (and especially complaints) you have can and will shape the story. Frustrated that a particular issue still isn’t resolved? Let me know! WIsh the story was headed in a different direction? Tell me! I’ll stay true to my vision, but your personal reading experience really can help me improve the story. And I want it to be awesome. That’s why I keep writing and editing; to provide the best possible reading experience.

    In other news, R.J. Ross (author of the Cape High series) has asked me if I’d like to participate in a superheroine anthology written by female authors. That’s still far in the future (I guess it will be published at the end of the year), but I’m very excited about it. My anthology controbution will showcase a side character who was mentioned once in the serial, but never got any story time: Wisp, a young Lightshaper in charge of a kiddie gang.

  2. I have enjoyed what you’ve written, so far, very much. I haven’t been able to “put it down”, as they say. I’ve been reading it constantly; only stopping to sleep. I almost wish I hadn’t found it yet, so I’d be able to keep reading until the end, when I did, without stopping.

    I am a bit disappointed to have been left hanging concerning the remaining Nameless, especially Snow. I REALLY don’t want her to be dead. She has opened up a little bit with Emily around, but she seems to have so much more character development to do before she can say a permanent goodbye.
    Speaking of dead characters, so many deaths have been very sad, but bring the story along so it’s understandable. If you kill Chris, Sarina, or Emily… I don’t think I’d be able to keep reading. I’m way too attached. I cry when they cry! Snow is just a little less significant, as well as Dj & Sunny. I really would have a hard time letting them go. The rest of the cast are of varying degrees of significance, but even the best of them can be traded for a good storyline… if it’s worth it.
    I’d like to get more of Athena’s humanity appearing, and the depths of her expanded abilities. Going to space and plugging in has GOT to seem worth it beyond a few decent robotics.
    Getting to know Radiant, I don’t feel how his personality would allow for him killing such an obviously good person like Shanti, without an EXTREMELY good reason. It would make sense if someone else actually killed her, and he took the blame to prevent some additional deaths or wars. Otherwise, I can’t see it.
    Samael is a well made character. I keep expecting his detractors to call him a “Villain, with a Hero tag”, or similar. He seems too quick to kill despite the “re-roll” of the powers, so his logic is off a bit… but that is an acceptable ‘personality trait’ for someone so self-serving.
    I am quite eager to find out how this ‘whole picture’ arc comes out in the end.

    The only editing/proofreading issues that deter from the story, and don’t easily get ignored, is the sudden use of “Sara” replacing “Sarina”. Its use didn’t start smoothly, and felt like a repeated error.

    Loving the story, and can’t wait to read more.

    • Between you and me… I sometimes cry when my characters cry, too (shh! please don’t tell anyone!). I even cried in Samael’s interlude, so hard that I had to take a break for a bit. Transfering that emotion through the words means a lot to me, and I’m glad I succeeded.

      As I re-read and edit my older chapters, I keep discovering passages that just don’t work. The writing is flat and one-dimensional, and details that should have been addressed were never mentioned. For instance, I recently added something to arc 3 that addresses the question of why Radiant carried out that execution order. If he hadn’t done it, Samael would have been happy to do it in his stead. Radiant agreed because he thought Shanti deserved someone who respected her, someone who would look her in the eye and calmly answer her questions instead of just murdering her on sight. I don’t know if I ever updated the web serial version of that chapter. I… might have forgotten. But I’m glad you mentioned it! I’ll go find my updated chapter and copy it into WordPress.

      Regarding Sarina / Sara… yep, I should either explain that or stick with one version. It’s one of those things that just kind of happened in my head, and I kind of forgot to explain on paper. I’ll look into getting it fixed before the third ebook.

      Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you next Sunday! 🙂

    • Tadaa! Chapter 3.1 has been updated. Here’s the passage I added:

      “I respect your space, Andrey, but I also know when you need to talk. Believe it or not, I can relate to how you are feeling.”

      No, you can’t. You weren’t there. You didn’t look into her eyes. Andrey could have asked one of his teammates to do the job. He knew all too well how much Samael had wanted to go, but Shanti had deserved better. Someone who spoke to her, someone who would listen to her. Someone who cared about her.

  3. Heya Chrysalis!

    I am one of those new readers from Corpies and like Pachilles I could not stop reading.

    First things first, you are an excellent author and this story stands out as one of the best “super hero” stories I have read. I wish I could go back in time and give you a confidence boost but I am extremely grateful that you stuck with your writing.

    Things I Liked
    The word “gritty realism” gets attached to a lot of stories these days without really being meaningful but I think this fully applies in the best way to your story. The fact that you killed off major powers with sniper shots is exactly what would happen in reality. The governments and their reactions are also very well done. They are not bastions of good or brilliant plans but they are also not cartoonishly evil or corrupt. You also do a great job of portraying a wide range of ages with your teenagers actually acting their age in many cases.

    Each of your main characters has both awesome parts and flaws that keep them grounded. In a multi PoV story it is always a good test to see if I ever get annoyed when it switches to a PoV. In this case that never happened which is a rare occurrence for me.

    I love the setting of imperfect powers that get recycled in various strange ways. It is very hard to come up with unique and still entertaining powers but I think you pulled this off great.

    I also like how for most of the story there is not some big bad evil plot for the heroes to stop, just lots of smaller issues that pop up. The fact that what looks to be the main big bad (Legion/Penance) was encountered as part of a glorified PR op cracks me up.

    Things I Want To See More Of

    1. Snow
    2. Kid
    3. An interlude of some random transition caused by all the people getting killed currently. I love your origin stories! Perhaps someone who already is connected to the heroes but in a very off screen manner, like a janitor or accountant)

    Questions

    1. I do not understand how Paladin was not able to nullify the power that caused his armor to explode. As we did not get to see this from his PoV I can only assume there must be some kind of active nullification required on his part. It still seems like more characters would question how it happened (like perhaps Overdrive).

    2. Queenie was able to track hundreds of people around the world so I would think that she would know the location of Gentleman’s base. Perhaps she just never shared it with anyone before she died? For that matter it seems like she would have been able to track Data easily. I must have missed something that explained how he was able to stay hidden. All I can recall is how Data kept the group off of the news.

    3. I was completely lost as to why Athena put a backdoor into the UN. The best I could tell it was in exchange for help in passing their test, yet that was also unexplained. She went from “no knowledge of any of this” to “no problem”. I also do not understand how Gentleman was able to keep her support after he overthrew Data (the details of how he pulled that off would make a good side story).

    4. Why in the world did Dancer keep attacking after she realized she was hit with the drug? She knew it was said to take away powers yet she pressed the attack anyhow. It did not feel in character for her (she even warped in Snow in that state).

    5. The tech manufacturing capabilities of the various heroes but especially Data and Athena are a mystery to me. Why are they not able to just create thousands of drones? Is it a general limitation of their power that they are not able to make any kind of factory or assembly line?

    6. Why does Dancer ever need a car? She would be able to move extremely quickly by rapidly teleporting. This is even more true once she realizes she can ignore gravity. I am not sure if this is just not something she thought of (as she does seem to worry about testing her power) or if she is unable to do so (she does not seem to get tired when she teleports people around).

    7. Why is Mascot scared of being hurt by a fall? The kinetic energy her shields can absorb is far beyond that generated by fall of a couple hundred feet.

    8. I assume this is a big mystery reveal later in the story but why did it take so long for powers to start recycling in a person already powered as opposed to picking a new person (we know for example that Shanti was not the first Eden)?

    9. Why did Legion know to teleport back to the cabin and attack the heroes? It feels like a completely unexplained coincidence in the story that none of the characters comment on.

    10. How are you so good at writing in English? I never would have guessed it was not your native language!

    Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to adding this to my weekly reading =)

    • Aw, thanks so much! You made my week. Would you maybe consider writing a review on WFG? The last one I got was a one-star, and most reviews were for an older version that doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve done sooo much editing over the past months. No pressure, though!

      I’d like to address your questions, without spoilers. I’ll add some of these to my list of things I need to address in the story in more detail. Thanks so much, I need comments like yours to keep improving the story!

      1) Unlike Snow, Paladin didn’t have a ‘personal’ power nullification sphere. That aspect of her Revoker power is quite unique to her. What happened to his armor… he didn’t see it coming.

      2) Both Gentleman and Data were ‘off grid’ ever since they went undercover – kind of like the Nameless, but for different reasons. Data was so ridiculously overpowered that he could create power nullification tech (as demonstrated with Chris’s prison cell in the Shelter).

      3) The backdoor was part of her deal with Data. He gave her what she needed to be accepted into the Covenant, she didn’t use his tech to shut him out and made access easy for him. He could have hacked his way in, anyway… only his own security system (that Athena used) could have shut him out. Regarding Gentleman… imagine what would have happened if anyone found out she had been collaborating with criminals all that time.

      4) The villains were baiting her with Jasper, so she felt she had to go no matter what, and she was on a time limit. She also didn’t realize right away that the injection was Power Zero. And she becomes maaaaybe a little overconfident when she’s angry… her power gives her something like a drug high, after all.

      5) Thousands of drones require materials to build, and some of those materials are hard to get in any quantity (and are expensive). Athena had a UN-sponsored budget, but had to get all material purchases approved. Other projects were considered more important than a thousand drones. The Conglomerate had literally infinite resources… which is how Data could (with AI-controlled automated production) builds such insane amounts of extremely advanced tech, all over the world, in a short amount of time.

      6) Dancer doesn’t need a car… but yanking her friends through reality over and over again would be a nightmare for them. The ‘landing’ isn’t always very soft, either. And Kid in particular dislikes being yanked around.

      7) Her forcefield doesn’t protect her from the kinetic energy (is that the right term?) assaulting her body after a several hundred foot fall. When she hyperspeed-charged into Mirage at the stadium, her forcefield collapsed and she broke her arm. Chris remembers that all too well… 🙂 When the car crashed into her after her transition, she wasn’t moving – she was in place, surrounded by a wall. But when she falls, she’s the one moving (the physics work differently than when she’s standing still).

      8) Big mystery reveal later in the story! It’s probably going to be part of the Pulse interlude or come just before / soon after.

      9) The ‘hunt for the serial killer’ was prominently featured on the news – as was the drama of the fight the Wardens got into in Grand Maronnier, less than an hour from that cabin.

      10) I’m not good at writing in English! I pretend… which is why I only manage to write 250-300 words per hour. 😄

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond, you rock! I will do my best to comment on each chapter from now on but please never feel obligated to reply. =)

        All Clear Now
        ——
        1) Makes sense, I assumed he must have some kind of active power. He seemed like a true hero though, I was sad to see him die 😦

        2) Dang, Data was awesome =) I wonder if Athena now has access to some of that, it would be a big help against legion.

        4) Ah yes her power does have some drawbacks, thinking about it now I can see how it would cause her to overestimate what she could do.

        7) Oooo! Ok yeah this is obvious now that you point it out. Her shield does not absorb momentum so when she hit Mirage or the ground the shield would stop the external force from going in (like with the car) but she would keep moving and slam into the suddenly stopped shield, breaking it and her, in the process. I wonder if she could survive a fall by going into slow time before she built up momentum.

        8) Yeah for big mysteries!

        9) Dang Canadian teenagers ruining things for everyone!

        10) You should see my German 😉

        Further Suggestions
        ——
        3) Right, so why did Data need any help? Did he just want to compromise Athena for some larger purpose? Obviously over time they became friends but I do not understand his initial motivations. If I remember right Athena did not really question the help either and her only reason was money. It seems like a huge risk to take for her at the time.

        5) May I suggest adding something to an Athena PoV chapter where she comments on this?

        6) If they were all in the air at the time then landings would be no big deal. It just seems like something she would bring up as a travel option even if the rest of the team would reject it.

        • I see what you mean. I’ll look into addressing those points in upcoming edits. Thanks again! ❤

          And yes, Data was the most powerful character in the whole setting. I’ll probably do a short story length interlude for him at some point.

        • I also came from drew’s site and i am binge reading all of it (xD), i also would like to give my personal opinion on point 4: first it wasn’t Dancer but Sarinna (Dancer slipped some things but wasn’t on overall control) and she was on a suicidal overconfidence state since her last arc, that is better shown when she counters all the extremely good points her brother came up with (she of course countered them in her head, because otherwise her brother would have destroyed her logic), also Sarinna has this bad habit of going one step ahead…and walking 2 backwards (or a full 100 meter dash in that arc), plus she lacks something big in my opinion: the desire to understand and master her power, the main thing the villains have for them is that most know how to use their powers better, i am ot sure why that is but i think is because they are neither afraid of them and use them more

    • And I just saw the message from Patreon… THANKS SO MUCH! I’ll make sure you get advance copies of all my ebooks long before they’re available on Amazon. 😀

  4. I really enjoy this. I came over from Drew’s site, and binged everything you had available.

    I am guessing that the mind effecting drugs open a person who is transitioning to an awareness of what happened during the missing minute.

    I am also interested that Gentleman seemed to be aware of the impending time loss, and that he made a comment about his upcoming review as a director. This in conjunction with Legion’s knowledge of people’s roles makes me feel that things were already scripted. This does allow for prophecy to be functional. The only wrench is that the existence of Aura suggests free agency. However her ability is also prophetic. Perhaps a structured improve? The way that power profiles recycle suggests that they are a role looking for the right performer. Maybe that has something to do with surges?

    • Yes, Legion knew the ‘true’ names of the power roles and was aware of what happened during the time loss. I’m glad you noticed and found it interesting. 😉 Legion was the ‘first’, after all… along with whoever had Shanti’s powers before Shanti transitioned.

      Some Evolved (and sometimes children with and without powers) have some partial memory of the time loss. Chris ‘almost’ remembered something when she shook Saint’s hand, for instance. Radiant almost remembered something when he saw the white on black drawing his nephew had made, or when Chris told him he had to be some kind of ‘beacon’ that draws the moths to him (chapter 7.5 I think it was)

      Gentleman’s memory is partial, as well – not nearly as clear and detailed as Legion’s was. Maybe he THINKS he remembers it exactly, but… well. Don’t trust Gentleman. 🙂

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