5.4 Escalation

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Paris, France – Sunday, the 10th of June, 2012. 05:30 PM.
Sarina raised the gun and adjusted her grip the way Ace had told her to: left hand sliding over the fingers of the right to push back against the recoil. For the lesson, he had given her the smallest caliber semiautomatic pistol from his stash. Still, as someone who had absolutely no experience with firearms, even this small-caliber gun felt heavy and unwieldy in her hands.

She had a feeling she was doing something wrong, but couldn’t figure out where she was deviating from Ace’s instructions. It had seemed so easy when he’d demonstrated it to her. But now that she was trying to repeat the steps on her own, she had a hunch that was forgetting something important.

At least I’ve got the safety right, Sarina mused. I checked it three times.

“Um, like this?” she asked, narrowing her eyes as she stared down the front sight. Her target was a green bottle that Ace had placed about ten meters in front of her, on the back wall of his Paris townhouse’s small gravel backyard. She had to hit the bottle this time. All her previous attempts were lodged into the fieldstone in an erratic spatter around it, or else wedged in the abandoned construction zone beyond the wall.

Ace lifted the hearing protection muff off one of her ears. “You look like you’re preparing to throw bread crumbs to pigeons,” he commented, clearly amused. Then he brought a hand up to gently adjust her fingers. “Finger on the trigger now. Use the fleshy midsection, not the tip.”

Sarina carefully positioned her index finger on the trigger guard. She remembered to draw in a breath and hold it, but the front sight still swayed more than it should have.

“You’re squeezing the grip too hard, Wondergirl. Just try to relax a little.”

At this rate, it’s going to be dark before I do everything right. 

Sarina forced herself to relax her hand slightly. The gun was feeling heavier and heavier with each passing second. If you don’t let me shoot soon, I’m going to drop it, she thought.

“Looking fine,” Ace finally said. “Go.”

Sarina took another deep breath and pulled the trigger. The force of the recoil spread through her hands and up her arms, forcing them upwards. Even with the hearing protection, the thunderous bang made her wince. She knew that Sunny’s aura probably prevented anyone beyond the yard walls from hearing the shots, but half of her still expected the neighbors to call the police or something.

This time the bottle shattered, exploding into a satisfying shower of tiny green shards. Sarina couldn’t help but smile as she lowered the gun and brought the muffs down around her neck.

“Good job,” Ace said, giving her a light clap on the back. He nodded at the weapon. “Next time we’re about to head into a tight spot, I’ll let you carry it.”

“Okay, thanks,” Sarina said. She turned the pistol in her hands and offering the grip to Ace. “I really don’t want to use my power anymore.”

He raised his eyebrows as he accepted the weapon. “But knowing you, you don’t wanna shoot anyone either. Right?” he said weightily.

Sarina broke eye contact. “No, I don’t. But I don’t want to be a burden, either.”

She knew he had a point, though. Would she be able to pull the trigger when it came right down to it? She wasn’t sure. All she knew was that she needed a reasonable alternative to using her power. She’d had enough of that raw anger taking control of her thoughts and actions. She never wanted to lose herself like that again.

The scariest part was that, in a way, it had felt good to let that anger overtake her. Amazing, actually. She had been on top of the world, looking down on everyone else without fear or regret. She had a feeling that if she wasn’t careful, she might get addicted to that surge of superiority in the same way she had once gotten hooked on coke.

“Bull dust,” Ace said, ejecting the magazine from the gun and racking back the slide. “You’re not a burden, girl. You already saved our butts back in Lyon, and that’s gotta count for something.”

Before she could respond, Sarina heard footsteps on the gravel behind them. When Sarina turned, she saw Jasper coming towards them in a colorful summer shirt and a pair of Bermuda shorts. He was carrying two tall glasses of what looked to be iced tea. Condensation dripped down the sides of the glasses in the early evening heat.

“Don’t shoot the waiter,” he joked, raising the glasses in front of his face in a gesture of surrender.

“I didn’t know I’d hired some help, Pommie,” Ace said. He flashed a toothy grin as he reached for a glass. “Just don’t expect to get paid.”

“Don’t worry, artists are used to not getting paid,” Jasper replied lightheartedly. He held out the second glass to Sarina. “Iced tea’s your favorite, right?”

“Yeah, it is,” Sarina said, accepting the glass gratefully. Her throat was suddenly parched. “How’d you know?”

Jasper gave a huge grin. “Pure deduction. It’s the Swiss national drink, isn’t it?”

“You never cease to amaze me with all the random things you know,” Sarina said, laughing.

“I didn’t know it an hour ago. I did some research,” Jasper admitted.

She flashed him an appreciative smile over the rim of her glass before taking a sip. As far as she could tell, Jasper had used just the right amount of peppermint and mixed it with a different type of tea that she didn’t recognize. Fruit tea? Rosehip? Not nearly enough sugar, she decided. But it’s sweet of him to make the effort.

“Mind if I steal her away for a while, Ace?” Jasper was saying.

“Go ahead, mate,” Ace said as he tucked the unloaded practice weapon into his waistband. “I’m knackered anyway. See you kiddies at dinnertime.” With that, he turned and sauntered back into his small townhouse, his footsteps sounding on the gravel as he went.

“Did you finish composing powered tracks for the others?” Sarina asked Jasper just as Ace stepped into the house and slid the patio door shut behind him.

“I worked on them all afternoon,” he told her. “Ace’s is almost done, but I want to make sure it’s right before I let him have it.”

The pair started walking around the perimeter of Ace’s small yard as they talked, passing piles of equipment and spare parts that surely belonged to Tess. Before long, they were circling back towards the house.

“Do you want to sit inside?” Jasper asked her, shooting her a little glance. “You must be hot — you’ve been out here for hours.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Sarina agreed as they neared the back door. She relished the idea of her bare feet on the cool porcelain floor tiles.

“Great. Just so long as you’re not bothered by Snow and Sunny watching cartoons,” Jasper said as he reached for the patio door handle.

“Snow watches TV?” Sarina asked, taken aback. She couldn’t quite imagine the white-haired girl doing anything but picking flowers and staring holes into space.

“Well, I don’t know if she follows the plot, exactly,” Jasper conceded as he pulled open the patio door. “But cartoons seem to make her happy. Maybe she likes the animation or something.”

Sarina could hear the TV blaring. She stepped into the cool house and Jasper closed the door behind them. The high-pitched voices that drifted from the living room let her know that some sort of hero cartoon was on the playbill.

“Funny that cartoon heroes are still so popular,” Jasper commented a behind her. “More popular than the real ones, if you think about it.”

“Maybe because cartoon heroes never do anything wrong,” Sarina said. They’re never put in impossible situations, she added silently.

“My dad loves the comic book heroes,” she said instead, speaking in almost a whisper as she followed Jasper towards the living room. “My adopted dad, I mean.”

“What’s that?” Jasper asked her.

“Oh, nothing,” she mumbled, averting her eyes to cast a quick glance over the room.

Sunny lounged in the armchair with the gaudy parrot-print upholstery. His eyes were glued to the plasma TV screen, where a costumed were-lizard flung rainbow colored laser beams at a giant robot. The kid was stuffing himself with potato chips from a family-sized bag, seemingly undisturbed by the crumbs that littered the sand colored carpet.

I just vacuumed a couple of hours ago, Sarina thought. She puffed up her cheeks in silent exasperation.

In contrast, Snow was perched on the leather accent chair as primly as a queen in church, her knees drawn together and her hands folded in her lap. Her white hair spilled over the front of her impossibly clean, multilayered white silk dress. If Snow hadn’t blinked, she could have been mistaken for a porcelain doll seated in a shop window.

“If anyone wants some ice tea, there’s some in the kitchen,” Jasper said as he settled down on the padded red couch beside Sunny’s armchair.

“Shh!” Sunny hushed him, never taking his eyes off the screen.

Sarina smiled at the boy’s enthusiasm and settled down on the sofa beside Jasper, leaving a cushion of space in between.

“That was sweet of you, Jasper. Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a nice guy?” she asked.

Contrary to the reaction she’d expected, a wounded look passed over his face.

So you’re a nice guy, Sarina thought. What’s wrong with that? I don’t get it. She bit down on her bottom lip. Did I say something wrong? 

After a few awkward seconds, Jasper’s mouth twisted into a semblance of a smile. “Yeah, I get told that all the time, actually,” he said. “Thank you, Jasper. That’s so nice of you, Jasper. Goodbye, Jasper.” He sighed. “I’m the nice guy who’d drive a girl he likes to a date with her boyfriend.”

“Ouch,” Sunny commented dryly from his seat. He promptly offered the supersized bag of potato chips to Jasper.

“No, thanks,” Jasper said, waving away the proffered chips.

“Well, I know who Sarina likes,” Sunny piped up, the cartoon program forgotten. “Radiant! Even though he’s a total superjerk.”

Sarina felt her face flush even though it was ten degrees cooler in the house than it was outside.

“Not that I do like him or anything, but I wouldn’t exactly call him a superjerk,” she said. Somehow, she was sounding more defensive than she’d intended.

“What would you call a guy who kills Shanti, abandons the Covenant, and dumps his girlfriend?” Sunny said, reaching into the chip bag again.

She didn’t have an answer for that. “Well, it doesn’t matter, because I don’t like him,” she lied.

Sunny made an exaggerated show of stifling a laugh. “Yeah, right. You said he was hot!”

Sarina felt the corners of her mouth pulling downwards. “I don’t remember saying that,” she countered uncomfortably.

It did sound like something she might have said a week ago, back before the Nameless had convinced her that she was about to receive the same treatment that Shanti had. Admittedly, even murderous jerks could be attractive, but that wasn’t the point.

“Oh. You must have whispered it in your dreams, then,” Sunny said, eyebrows wriggling suggestively.

Is he really spying on me when I sleep? Sarina wondered, alarmed.

“Hey, Sun, lay off,” Jasper said, coming to her rescue when he noticed her discomfort.

“And quit listening to me when I sleep,” Sarina added, trying unsuccessfully to sound threatening.

The kid flashed a roguish smirk. “I never said I did.”

Jasper seized the opportunity to change the subject. “Hey, Sun, would you mind if I switched the channel for a minute?” he asked, nodding towards the TV.

“Go for it,” Sunny said, holding out the remote. “I’ve already seen this episode. Dr. Mayday presses the wrong button and everything blows up.”

“Snow, would you mind?” Jasper said, glancing past Sarina to the white-haired girl.

It took Snow a few seconds to emerge from her daze. “Yes, is fine,” she finally whispered, an alabaster lock spilling across her shoulder as she turned her head. “I almost sleep.”

The cartoon voices cut off as Jasper changed channels, replaced by a severe newscaster’s monotone. Sarina turned her attention to the screen and saw video footage of a one-storey wooden building with smashed-in windows. The camera zoomed in on a sign above the door that read “Café Bistro Charles.”

“The Wardens were dining in a local Quebecois restaurant when a group of local youths confronted them at about nine-forty in the evening, local time,” the newsreader droned. “According to witnesses, the Canadian youths were not comfortable with the Evolved presence in their town and tried to convince the Wardens to leave . . .”

Sarina felt her hand fly to her mouth. Ace was right, she realized. The relations between Evolved and normal people are getting worse.

“. . . during the ensuing conflict, Noire unleashed her Darkshaper shadow and the situation escalated, very nearly ending in tragedy,” the newscaster’s voice continued. “Fortunate circumstances and the intervention of the local police prevented the worst . . .”

“Wow,” Sunny commented from his seat. “Aren’t the Wardens heroes?”

“Yeah. They’re the American hero team,” Sarina said.

Jasper wordlessly set the remote down on the coffee table.

His face says it all, she thought. He’s just as worried as I am.

Sunny popped another potato chip into his mouth. “With heroes like those, the world doesn’t need villains,” he crunched.

Sarina tensed. His words hit too close to home for comfort.

“Maybe it’s not their fault,” she ventured. “Some people just get bad powers, but they still try to do good with them.” Her own words stirred a sense of unease in her, and it took her a moment to realize why. Goodnight, bitch, she’d thought before she’d pulled the trigger on Mindbender. She remembered the anger that had filled her. The uncontrollable fury.

Something the Princess had said to Sarina at the Sun King’s court still mystified her. Angel, the tiny Visionary had called her. But now that Sarina knew her power was anything but angelic, the name felt undeserved and mocked her with its irony. If powers could be so closely linked with evil deeds, she definitely wanted nothing to do with hers anymore.

“If you guys could have any power, what would you pick?” Sunny asked, pulling her off the trainwreck of thought she’d been on.

“The same,” Jasper said. “It fits me, I guess. I just hope it’ll be able to do some good.” He spoke the words flatly, without a trace of his usual humor. Something was clearly bothering him.

Still, Sarina would have preferred his power over hers. She didn’t know a thing about music composition, but she would have been willing to learn. It had to beat having her mind overpowered by something – or someone – that felt borderline evil.

“What about you, Sarina?” Sunny prompted, gazing into the empty chip bag with a frown on his face.

“I’d like Shanti’s power,” she replied without hesitation. “Maybe with added teleportation so I could go wherever people needed healing, whenever they needed it.”

Sarina caught Sunny and Jasper exchanging a sidelong glance. A furrow appeared on Jasper’s brow.

“What?” Sarina said, feeling increasingly self-conscious as the strange vibe continued. “Was it something I said?”

But her words just hung in the air. On the TV screen, the newscaster continued with a special feature on the Wardens’ latest addition, outlining Mascot’s background as an antisocial athlete with a boxing fetish.

“Seriously, what is it?” she pressed, her hand going up to tuck the white strands of hair behind her ear. She could tell that something was up, some kind of understanding they didn’t want to share with her. It was really starting to frustrate her.

“Nothing,” Sunny said, overly cheerful.

Sarina considered confronting them, but reached for the remote control instead. No more drama, she reminded herself as she pushed the ‘up’ button on the remote. The channel changed to a local weather forecast.

Nobody said anything as the minutes passed.

“ . . . partly cloudy with a thirty percent chance of showers in Paris . . .” the weatherwoman trilled in French. “But the sun should come out by Tuesday . . .”

Where’s Tess?” Sarina asked, finally breaking the silence.

“In the garage,” Sunny informed her.

“Working on the car?” she guessed.

“That, plus our TV transmission for Tuesday. Our Techie’s been working non-stop since she woke up.”

“Do you think we’ll be able to see the transmission first, before we go hijack a TV studio with it?” Sarina asked.

She had already decided that she’d probably go along with the plan so long as no one got hurt — and provided that Jasper still thought it was a good idea, too. But she still had some doubts. Knowing what kind of message the Nameless planned to broadcast to TV screens worldwide would go a long way towards putting her unease to rest. How exactly are they planning to prevent the UNEOA from spreading lies about powers, anyways? she wondered, unsure.

“We’re all going to watch it tonight when she’s done,” Sunny informed.

“Good, because I’m curious as well,” Jasper said. “Taking over the airwaves is a pretty big deal, after all.”

“Almost as serious as Britain’s Got Talent,” Sunny joked slyly.

“Hey,” Jasper feigned a serious tone. “I almost went on that show. My sister signed me up without asking.”

“Seriously?” Sarina blurted, unable to conceal her surprise.

“That’s hilarious!” Sunny guffawed. “I’m just trying to picture it now.” He launched into a reenactment of a mock death scene worthy of any Shakespearian stage. Chip crumbs went flying everywhere with each tortured death throe.

“I didn’t show up for the audition or anything,” Jasper replied defensively. “I told my sister I’d lost my voice.”

“Seriously, you can sing?” Sarina asked. “You never mentioned that.”

“You never asked.”

“How am I supposed to ask you anything when you’re constantly zoning out with your earphones in?” Sarina asked, only half joking.

“Fair enough,” Jasper said. “But yes, I do sing. I’m only mediocre at best, though. But I am a better guitar player than most, if I were to toot my own horn. Maybe I’ll show you sometime.”

She offered a smile. “I’d like that.”

He rewarded her with one of his own, along with a roguish sparkle in his eyes that she hadn’t realized had been missing until just now.

At that point, Snow put an abrupt end to the discussion. She started to sing. Three heads turned in unison, staring at the white-haired girl with shocked expressions on their faces.

Sarina didn’t understand the lyrics. Considering the girl’s heritage, she assumed it was some Asian language — Chinese or Japanese, maybe. But the melody was undeniably lovely, and Snow’s clear bell voice carried the dulcet tones across the room, rising and falling in a soothing lull.

No one interrupted. Just like the others, Sarina found herself watching and listening with a sense of wonder, too bewildered to even think of anything to say.

Sunny was the first to find words after the impromptu song had ended. “Just… what was that?” he asked.

“Sleeping song for little boy,” Snow informed them with wistful eyes.

“You had a little boy?” Jasper asked, twisting in his seat. “You mean like a younger brother? Or a son?”

“Yes, son,” came the answer. And nothing else. Snow turned away from them then, showing her cheek with its single dark teardrop tattoo.

She looks too young to be a mother, Sarina thought. She can’t be much older than I am. 

Sarina stared at the girl, knowing that Snow had zoned out and left them again. Perhaps she was paying homage to the ghosts of her past. It wasn’t the first time Snow had come out of hibernation to speak to the rest of the team, but she’d never talked about herself before. Not once.

Sarina turned away and fixed her eyes on Sunny. “How did you guys find her?” she asked, whispering even though she knew that Snow’s mind was far away. “She didn’t just walk up and ask to join you guys, did she?”

The boy’s eyes never left Snow. “We found her while we were driving through Denmark,” Sunny said. “Well, actually, I found her. She’d tried to erase herself. Just enough so that no one would notice her, like usual. But I did.” He jerked a thumb at himself, lifting his chin proudly. “I noticed her when no one else did.”

“What was she doing?” Sarina asked, eager to picture their first meeting in her head. She had often wished she could be the mysterious girl’s friend, but Snow had never opened up to her.

“She was sitting on a curb in a parking lot, crying,” Sunny said, meeting her eyes now. “We’d just finished some shopping and were on the way back to the car when I saw her. I had to convince the others she was actually there. They thought I was making shit up.”

“You? Making stuff up?” Jasper joked dryly.

“Don’t be an ass,” Sunny complained, but he couldn’t help but smile. “Want to know how I got her attention?”

“How?” Sarina asked.

“I just gave her a sandwich,” Sunny said simply. “Turns out she had forgotten to eat for a while. You know the first thing she said to me? You nice boy.” Sunny grinned at the recollection, but all the teenage arrogance was gone from his tone. He was sounding genuinely gentle now.

“So we’re both nice guys, huh?” Jasper joked lamely.

“Hey, I don’t mind,” Sunny grinned. “Once she figured out we had food and a warm place to sleep, she agreed to come with us.”

“And Ace didn’t mind?” Sarina asked, somewhat surprised. I’m not running a charity, mate, she recalled Ace saying.

Sunny shook his head. “He suspected that she was a Revoker, and that’s probably why he agreed. Since Revokers are hard to come by and all.”

“Any idea where she came from?” Jasper asked. “She must have family somewhere.”

Sunny shrugged. “Who knows? We hacked into the Danish missing persons database, but there were no Asian chicks on the list.”

“So no one even noticed she was gone?” Sarina murmured, a sad feeling rising in her chest.

“Ace suspects she had ties to some criminal organization or something,” Sunny said, wiggling his eyebrows as if that would be the coolest thing ever. “Very James Bond.”

“But surely the Covenant noticed she was gone?” Sarina pressed.

Sunny shrugged again. “Far as Tess can tell, she was never listed in any database as an Evolved.”

“Never?” Jasper asked incredulously.

“Nope,” Sunny said. He reached for the empty chip bag and gazing longingly inside.

I wish the Covenant had never found out that I’d got powers, Sarina thought wistfully. If she could have stayed undercover from the start, the UNEOA would never have slapped her with an execution order.

“That’s strange,” Jasper mused. “I wonder if that ties in with the lack of a missing person report.”

Sunny leaned forward, lowering his voice to a mysterious hush. “Her transition must have been really fucked up. That’s probably why she turned all white and quiet.”

The words remained hanging in the air for a moment before the silence was broken by a small, distant voice. “Was all red,” Snow said.

Sarina, Sunny, and Jasper turned their heads to stare at her in unison. Her almond eyes were open and her fingers traced the lace hem of her doll-like dress.

“Oh, you’re awake,” Sarina mumbled, suddenly remembering that the girl was there and feeling guilty at the same time. “We were just . . . um . . .”

Just talking about you while you were sitting right there.

“Is okay,” Snow said. “Is white now. Is better.” She lowered her eyes. “White better than red.”

“No shit,” Sunny said, eyes going wide.

Sarina couldn’t help but stare at Snow, waiting for her to offer something more. But nothing came. I hope she’s not talking about blood, she thought. Oh, god, what if Snow killed someone?

Jasper must have been thinking along the same lines. “Maybe she means she had red hair and a red dress or something?” he suggested.

“Maybe,” Sunny agreed. “Yeah, that must be it. Snow’s too nice to go all Kill Bill on anyone. She’s like a fairytale princess lost in a garden or something.”

Maybe that’s exactly what she is. A fairytale princess cursed by an evil sorceress, Sarina mused. She was too old to believe in fairytales, but then again – there was magic in the world now, and she recalled reading about a rogue Evolved who could ‘curse’ people with bad luck. A woman with some strange Egyptian name.

At any rate, Sarina could tell that something terrible must have happened to Snow. She wished she could help. She just didn’t how.

As if he’d sensed the mood in the room darkening, Jasper reached for the remote and turned up the television’s volume. By now, the French newscast had proceeded to the end of a mundane weather forecast. Jasper changed the channel.

“. . . in his latest blog update last Saturday, Mr. Hawkins discussed the possibility of an end-time scenario,” a newswoman’s voice read. “In this scenario, Evolved would be tasked with fighting one another to determine which of them will have the power to change the world.”

Evolved fighting one another? What on earth? Sarina recoiled in confusion. She turned her head, looking to Jasper for answers. But his attention was fully on the screen. He turned the volume up a couple more notches.

“The notion that this plan is, in fact, on the UNEOA’s agenda is being heavily disputed by a majority of Pulse researchers, but it has certainly succeeded in provoking discussion. We expect to find out more at the world news conference on Tuesday . . .”

“That actually sounds pretty cool,” Sunny said, leaning forward in his seat. “Kind of like… Highlander! There can only be one and all that.”

Jasper fixed the boy with a stoic glare. “It sounds pretty awful to me,” he replied flatly. “I like my head attached to my shoulders, thank you very much. Besides, I can’t even swing a golf club, let alone a sword.”

Sarina forced herself to try to think logically. What would David say about it all? she wondered.  

“Those bloggers will publish anything just to get attention,” she heard herself say. “The more absurd, the better. It sounds like a bad movie plot.”

“Hey, Highlander is a great movie!” Ace protested.

Sarina turned so see their group leader standing in his bedroom doorway, which was just off the living room. He was rubbing his hand through his hair, looking slightly agitated. He must have been standing there just long enough to hear their last few exchanges.

“Hey, boss. How was the nap?” Sunny asked, not turning around to take notice of Ace’s stony face.

Ace crossed the living space in three long strides, then shooed Sunny out of the tropical-print armchair. Sunny vacated it begrudgingly, then squeezed onto the red couch beside Sarina.

“Is something wrong?” Sarina asked quietly as Ace let his weight fall down into his favorite chair.

Ace didn’t say anything for a moment. He just sat there, squeezing his cell phone in one hand. “I just got a call from some friends,” he said after a while. “Something just happened in the States, something big, so we’d better lay low for a while.”

“What is it?” Jasper asked.

I hope that guy’s stupid blog posting didn’t turn out to be true, Sarina thought. She’d had enough fighting to the death to last a lifetime.

Ace let out a heavy breath. “Well, if there’s any truth to the rumors, there’s some new monster over in the Americas. Something so powerful that it’s got the Covenant pissing its pants.”

Maybe that was made up by some blogger too, Sarina mused, failing to convince herself. She didn’t know which friends had called Ace, but this definitely wasn’t the sort of thing to spread rumors about unless it was true.

“Something as bad as the Sleepwalker?” Jasper asked.

“Worse,” Ace replied. “Those off-grid guys over in North and South America didn’t just go under the radar like us; turns out they got eaten by some . . . monstrous thing they’re calling Legion.”

“Now I’m really glad I don’t live in the States,” Sunny joked, but his humor fell flat.

“Don’t speak too soon,” Ace cautioned him. “It looks like it might be on its way to Europe. Maybe it’s already here.”

“So let me get this straight,” Jasper interjected. “The Covenant knows about this thing, but they haven’t killed it yet?”

“The Covenant’s got their heads so far up their arses that they haven’t even found Legion yet,” Ace said gravely.

Sarina’s glance fell on Sunny. Had the boy overheard Ace’s phone conversation and not said anything to them? Come to think of it, Sunny never did divulge what Ace talked about in hush-hush tones on his cell phone. Maybe the kid can keep some stuff to himself after all, Sarina deduced.

Jasper glanced sidelong at Sarina. “Maybe we should wait this out and forget about heading to Liverpool on Tuesday,” he suggested.

“No way. The plan’s not changing,” Ace said. “We’ll be fine in the city as long as we stay indoors or in the car. That’s what Gentleman said, and he’s never lied to me before.”

“Well, maybe Sarina should stay here,” Jasper suggested to Ace. “I mean, she’s not using her powers anymore, and —”

Sarina cut him off.  “No way I’m staying here alone. If you guys are going, I’m going too.”

She wasn’t going to abandon these guys now, when there was some superpowered monster on its way to Europe.


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5 thoughts on “5.4 Escalation

    • > Maybe this one will shed some light on why Sunny keeps picking on Radiant at every opportunity.
      I still think he dislikes him because he’s crushing on Dancer and he’s jealous 🙂

      “You had a boy?” Jasper asked, twisting on his seat.

      “Yes,” came the answer. And nothing else. Snow turned her cheek, the single dark teardrop tattoo that adorned it standing out against her pale skin.

      She looks too young to be having kids, Sarina thought. She can’t be much older than me.

      “Was all red,” Snow commented with a distant voice, fingers tracing the lace hem of her dress. “Is white now. Is better.”

      Urgh… that sounds an awful lot like a messy abortion… if we add in the facial tattoo and the “purity” theme a possible scenario is forced prostitution.

      Eh, tragic heroines are often good characters, and the possible dichotomy is interesting. Storywise, it might be good for her in the long run to have sort of a family to depend on and protect.

  1. Is it because Radiant stole his name? Its not the same, but it means the same thing and sounds cooler. I would be soooo pissed.

    There is also the part where he killed the chick who was saving everyone and everything.

  2. This is the chapter I’ve been waiting for, superpowered characters hanging out in a mundain situation just hanging out and talking. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to do character development, it alows us to see them interact with each other under normal cercumstances and lets us really know the characters. It also alows the characters to ask each other questions that we the audiance have been asking without it seeming contrived or like an exposition dump.

    I’m really liking Snow right now, she seem nice but also mysterious. As for Sunny, first he hates Radiant, then he’s bad talking Noire too. Why does he hate characters that I love! I can understand hating Radiant for the Shanti incident, but those jerks in the bar deserved Mr. Black, Noire is alright in my book.

    If that therory about Evolved fighting each other Highlander style turns out to be true I’m going to laugh, especially because of Sarina saying it sounded like a bad story shed stop reading after half a page concidering she’s in one.

    Anyway, this is one of your best chapters and should be in your top five. Also, when are you going to complete the cast page and/or get a TVTropes page for this story?

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