“The report on this Andy Kitz guy that Sindi sent is fascinating. He’s the typical ‘obsessed over supers’ nerd it seems. Nothing unusual in his resume, minor jobs, part-time journalist, lame blogger. But the cherry on top is that he is weirdly enough creator of this SuperHub thingy. Do you think Joaquin was Superhubbing himself to see where’s he on the freak-o-meter of powers?”
Silas’s chuckle was dry. He apparently thought of himself as a kindred spirit. Anne held her tongue as Silas amused himself with talk that Anne didn’t register but kept her red leather gloved hands firm on the steering wheel. She refused to show weakness in front of Globe’s lackey.
When they arrived, there was no sign of Massey. She hoped he came, saw and left. The old dog was smart enough to steer clear of FBI agents, all of them Globe’s men. She was glad the presence of the taskforce cut out any sidewalk viewers. For once, they would be free of the conspiracy hounds jockeying for attention that for some reason Globe refused to keep at bay. The crime scene was all theirs to investigate.
* * *
Kristoph opened his eyes and sighed. He breathed in the smell of the Canadian forest. A low-hanging fog blanketed the serene winter landscape. Pain radiated from his wrist. He looked down but could find nothing wrong with the troublesome joint. He tried to push away from the tree, but he was unable to move. A flush rose on his cheeks. The wooded scene before him was oddly familiar. A little girl in a pink dress skipped through the woods, singing a silly song.
“Too cold,” he croaked, and a shiver ran down his spine.
The little girl in the distance stopped singing and skipping and stared at him. Kristoph blinked, and then the girl was kneeling in front of him. There was something about her eyes that made Kristoph shiver again.
“No chance of reign,” the girl declared.
Kristoph blinked. Her words were eerily familiar.
“Mister Puss doesn’t like the fog,” she declared. “Too many clouds against his fur.”
Kristoph cringed as the fog slowly dissipated. He knew what he’d see would still his soul.
The little girl smiled a lopsided grin and tilted her head to the side.
He saw in his mind’s eye the devastation of Seattle burned to the ground. Broken skyscrapers like missing teeth rotted from the inside out. Bodies were everywhere. He tried to lift his arm to block the torrent of sticky red rain, but like the rest of his body, his arms refused his commands. He knew the sight should scare him, but the corner of his mouth quirked up. He was disappointed when the fog lifted, and all he saw was the Canadian wilderness.
“That simply won’t do,” the girl declared. A murder of crows cawed overhead. He looked up and saw their black sightless eyes. The scent of death from them burned on his nostrils. He tried to hold his breath, but the stench was so overpowering, he was helpless to do anything about it.
“Please…” he croaked, the smell forced its way into his mouth. He gagged and tried to vomit, but he felt as if something forced his lungs to expand. The pain in his wrist flared and his eyes felt heavy.
“Sleep,” the little girl commanded.
Kristoph fought against it, but sleep overruled his commands. The last thing he had heard before sweet oblivion embraced him was the little girl.
“Soon,” she said, and Kristoph’s world was darkness.
* * *
“I’m telling you the kid was fast and strong like he wasn’t human. He threw Fields down the stairs and knocked me back inside the fucking furnace to burn. It was like some sort of nightmare, Ma and Fields moving is a kind of sleepy slow motion. Fields and I both landed punches, I even shot him in the leg, but he just kept going. I swear if I get my hands on him…”
Anne’s anger resurfaced and drove her hand fast to the agent’s throat. Her fingers were slender, but her gloved hand dug at the soft part of his double chin. She tightened her grip. “You shot at him?!”
“Major Globe didn’t’ issue specific orders! Batiste said the kid had to be dealt with and the stolen documents secured. We didn’t know who he was! Our mission was to observe, learn and act when given the signal but the whole place started to fill with smoke and…”
Anne released him and the agent slumped to his knees, panting. None of his colleagues moved to offer him a hand. Their eyes were stoic; indifferent to the scene.
“When did you call Major Globe?”
Silas narrowed his eyes at her but if he had intentions of interrupting her he remained silent.
“Just after I dragged the other guy out of the apartment. Did we screw up?”
Anne ignored his inquiry.
“Where did Joaquin go?”
“I don’t know. He managed to escape in a shitbox Civic. Fields followed him. I couldn’t keep up.”
“Did Fields call back?”
The man shook his head.
“Track your partner’s GPS and call me when you have results.”
Silas caught up with her, his movements fluid and cat-like in real time just as they had been in the reverse of his power.
“You think Massey got ahold of Joaquin?”
Anne entertained the possibility for a heartbeat, but her instinct drove her elsewhere. Searching for Joaquin would be a precious time wasted. Talking to Andy, however… In a time where no lies or tricks would work, Anne had to speak the truth.
“No, he would have gone to the hospital. He has a witness there, and so do we.”
Next: Puppet Army