Carl Foxman knew that he was dumb as bricks. His father said it all the time. His mother never said he was wrong. Carl knew that Allen was probably thinking it all the time. Cadence always said good-naturedly, “Come on, Carl. Everyone’s a little stupid” making Carl think that the fact maybe wasn’t so bad. Fortuna plainly said he was an idiot. Ricardo said he had smarts in other areas. But Francis always told him “You’re smart, Carl. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t.”
Even so, Carl had an inkling that he probably wouldn’t make heads-or-tails of what Omicron was going to say next.
“What happened to you…” Omicron began, addressing Francis. “You have to have knowledge of what you call the Anima-Vitae Hypothesis.”
“Vitae is a cycle. Vitae has the capabilities of coding memories from the brain. Vitae is equivalent to the soul,” Alice explained beat-by-beat. “I’ll hold my suspension of disbelief. Continue.”
Omicron’s eyes narrowed, and she lifted her head slightly like she was rearing for a fight. Finally, she elaborated, “Our resistors are similar to your proto-conductors. They’re capable of storing vitae. In much, much larger amounts than your proto-conductors.” She glowered. “But they’re not used as weapons. Instead, they store—”
“—an entire person’s vitae… And, in light of the Hypothesis, an entire person’s memories and soul,” Francis finished before he stiffened and frowned. He looked as confused as Carl felt about his knowledge.
Carl shared a look with Allen but said nothing.
Omicron nodded at Francis before she continued:
“Yes… there are several conditions that follow its usage. Firstly, the vitae being stored in the resistor must be processed so that it will return only to the resistor and not to the vitae cycle when the person it was used on dies. The process is beyond me as I am now, but it’s how our vitae becomes white. Whitening of vitae tends to cause congenital analgesia.”
“The hell’s that?” Carl grimaced.
“Loss of sensitivity to pain,” Francis answered, not even looking in Carl’s direction.
Omicron looked away from him.
“The second condition is that only the vitae that was initially stored in the resistor is capable of returning to that particular resistor. In other words, no new vitae can be added.”
Carl didn’t get it. Not really. Some of the executives looked baffled too. But Cadence, Francis, and Alice looked pale. Paler than normal.
“The third condition is that in order for the highest success of vitae being passed onto another person, that person’s vitae must be leaving their body for the vitae cycle itself. This allows the vitae stored in a resistor to enter that person without complications and interference, and when that person ‘comes back’ they will have full access to the memories given to them by the resistor.”
Vitae leaving the body…? When a person ‘came back’...?
“Of course, residual memories stored in the brain can still cause some interference but the lack of that person’s original vitae makes it difficult to ‘access’ in a sense.” Omicron locked eyes with Francis again. “We call the entire process ‘initiation’.”
This Carl understood, and he took a threatening step forward as he grabbed the woman by the scruff. “Are you saying that Francis was kil—”
“But that doesn’t always happen. It didn’t happen with you, Francis. You were very far away from death’s doors when you were initiated,” Omicron said softly, not even bothered by Carl’s grip. “What happened to you was a mistake. Whoever’s taken our resistors must’ve used one on you. You were stabbed with a resistor on that night. But don’t worry. I wasn’t initiated properly either, and I’m okay.”
Allen signaled for Carl to release the woman. Carl complied, shoving her back down in the chair.
“So the dichotomy between Francis’s vitae and Theta’s vitae…” Alice nodded, placing a hand beneath her chin. “If we’re speaking as if the Hypothesis is true… then the dichotomy of memories may have caused a dissociation leading to the formation of two separately operating identities. Seeing as how Theta was not aware of Francis’s allergy, and Francis was not aware of Theta’s existence and actions up to this point, I’m assuming that they aren’t able to communicate with one another.”
Carl didn’t like how nonchalant Alice was being about his brother’s issue.
“It’s rare that it happens like that,” Omicron elaborated. “It only happens when there’s a serious disconnect between the two. For example, I still retain my identity both as Charite Haussmann and as Omicron…” She glanced to the side. “Although you could say I’m a rare case of improper initiation turning out in a balanced way.”
Alice’s eyes narrowed. “So Iris McKillop….”
“Iota is too influenced by McKillop’s vitae and memories,” Omicron replied. “Iota isn’t violent, but McKillop’s psychosis pushes Iota as you can see. Another example of that would be Pi who was incorrectly initiated into Franz Ersatz at the Capricornian-Aquarian border. Ersatz was a very… nationalistic and passionate person, and Pi became the same… Tau, Gamma, and Omega are the only ones who have been initiated properly.”
‘Gamma’? Who the hell was that? Carl was too pissed to even think about that right now. He just wanted to nail Omicron in the face.
“It’s an accident every single time the initiation is improper,” Omicron continued. “We’re not like them. It’s not our intention to steal away an entire person’s life. We wait until they’ve naturally met their end before we reach out. That’s why there’s so few of us operating at a time.”
“The hell are you trying to sound like a saint for?!” Carl growled.
Fortuna placed a hand on his shoulder, stopping him from lunging at Omicron again.
“So long story short,” Fortuna drew, releasing Carl from her hold, “your resistors store your memories—your souls, what have you—and you take over people whenever you use them.” Her eyes narrowed. “You’re disgusting.”
“The modified conductors you sell fuel wars and death. You end lives before they’ve naturally ended,” Omicron returned. “To me, you’re the disgusting ones.”
“Am I correct in my assessment that since resistors do not accept new vitae, you are not capable of storing ‘additional memories’— for the lack of a better word— in them?” Alice pressed. “You're stuck in the same state as you were in when you initially stored your vitae in these resistors.” Her eyes narrowed. “And if you’re using conductors—even if you replenish your vitae reserves through consumption of nutrients—since you usually don’t have the original person’s vitae, you’re slowly burning up your own vitae. Since no vitae can be added when you ‘return’ to the resistor then that means that you’re losing vitae and memories every time the resistor is used.”
“Theta was right,” Omicron noted with a chuckle. “You are a bright girl.”
“You’re whittling away, and you’re laughing.” Alice frowned. “All for what? In retaliation for what happened to Ophiuchus at the end of the war? That’s ludicrous.”
The atmosphere in the room changed suddenly, and a coldness pressed down on the heat that was building at the back of Carl’s neck.
Omicron looked at Alice and seemed to be looking down at her despite the fact that she was sitting below her.
“How long do you think we’ve existed, little girl?” Omicron asked. “You think something comes into existence exactly when people ‘discover’ it? ELPIS has existed long before it started making headlines in your newspapers.”
Alice frowned, and her shoulders tensed. “You’re saying that you—”
“Ophiuchus was a country founded in a time of peace. There were no enforcers needed to define what peace was. That very idea is what’s ludicrous.” Omicron shifted her gaze to Francis. “I know this because as Omicron my father was one of the founding members of Ophiuchus. I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.”
Alice’s eyes narrowed, expression tightening. “You’re delusional.”
“You look scared, peacekeeper,” Omicron noted. “But you’re a child in all of this, so that’s understandable. I actually think you’re quite brave.”
Alice remained silent. Carl kept looking to Allen for what to do next, but Allen remained as stony-faced as ever.
“Rest assured,” Omicron continued, “there are only twenty-six resistors in existence at the moment. There are—were—only twenty-six of us ELPIS leaders. The other lower members of ELPIS—most don’t have any idea of what the truth about us is. And, well, all twenty-six of us have different viewpoints on what to do with those members. But those are opinions and not fact, and I don’t want to bore you with politics.”
“That’s… absolutely ridiculous,” Alice finally said, pinching the bridge of her nose. She paused, lowered her hand. “And what about Izsak. Wtorek Izsak.” Her eyes were sharp. “Is he...”
“That would be Gamma,” Omicron said evenly.
Alice’s eyes widened a fraction. “You mentioned that name earlier. So that means that the initiation was...”
Omicron studied her face before she frowned sympathetically. “So you were familiar with that peacekeeper then. I’m sorry.”
For a brief flash of a second, Cadence paled out of the corner of Carl’s eye. When he looked at her, however, she simply looked perplexed causing him to wonder if he was just seeing things.
Alice’s expression did not change. “And was it one of you who did it?”
“No,” Omicron answered evenly, “it wasn't.”
Alice fell into silence afterwards. Since she was the one asking the leading questions and seemed to be the only one who knew what all this ‘vitae’ stuff was about, the silence stretched on.
Finally Francis cleared his throat and asked, “Is there any way to reverse this?” He gestured to his abdomen. If he was disturbed by anything he’d heard, he wasn’t showing it.
Omicron’s gaze softened as she laid eyes on Francis, and she slowly shook her head. “I’m sorry... But it’s alright. Eventually the distinction between your two vitae will fade away.” Her voice was gentle. “I’m sure you’ve already noticed it. Having knowledge you haven’t gained in your personal lifetime. Remembering things that have never happened to you. The same thing is happening to Theta. You will bleed into each other, and—”
That was enough.
Letting out a roar of fury, Carl grabbed the woman and threw her down onto the floor chair and all. “You. Bastard!” He cracked a fist against her face. “How! Dare!” Again. “You act so. Damn. Casual!” Thud, thud, thud. “After what you! Did to my! Brother!”
A gentle hand on the shoulder gave Carl pause. He turned. It was Francis, who was expressionless. But his eyes. They were almost angry.
“Enough, Carl.” Before Carl could even form a coherent thought, Francis brushed past him and righted Omicron’s chair. “Being violent won’t solve anything.”
The executives began to whisper amongst themselves which pissed Carl off more but Carl conceded and rubbed his knuckles with a grimace. Omicron merely jerked her head to get some of her hair out of her face and spat blood to the side.
Allen wordlessly pulled a packet of v-cigarettes from his pocket and tapped Carl and then Francis on the side of the arm with it before shaking two v-cigs out. Carl plucked one, ignited it with a flick, and took a drag. Francis glanced at the box, hesitating.
“Ya always were a womanizer even though ya keep saying that you’ll be a bachelor for life,” came a bite followed by a chortle. Cadence. She had been chatting at the peacekeeper for whatever reason after Carl had started his beating and had now stepped in front of them.
Francis chuckled musically, pulled out the v-cig, lit it, took a drag.
Cadence was smart, Carl thought. She always knew what to say.
“Cadence,” Allen addressed her suddenly with a nod, “Francis didn’t have a clue about what’s been goin’ on here which is understandable. But by the sound of it, it seems like Cavallo doesn’t have a clue that its ELPIS that’s after us meaning you didn’t tell him.”
Carl glanced between them in confusion.
Francis paused and stared at Cadence. “Cadence, you were here before?” He lowered his v-cig. “When?”
“I…” Cadence averted her gaze. It was the first time he’d ever seen her looking so ashamed. “When Allen, Carl, and Fortuna disappeared the first time, I got taken with them. But I disguised myself and managed ta slip out.”
Fortuna snapped to attention. “Cadence, are you serious right now? You were here with us? And you didn’t tell Cavallo what happened here? The Campanas?”
Francis’s brows knit. “You knew they were being held captive by ELPIS, and you didn’t tell me?”
“I… I’m sorry, Francis,” Cadence stammered. “I… I honestly didn’t know what ta make of it when I saw you actin’ like ya had no idea what was goin’ on. I didn’t know who you were. And Tau—the commissario—knew that I was hidin’ right off the bat, and he threatened me to keep quiet and Alma—”
“Dammit, Cadence!” Carl snapped, grabbing her by the scruff. “The hell’s the matter with you?!
“I didn’t know what ta do!” Cadence snapped back. “I didn’t know what was goin’ on. I’m sorry, okay? What was I supposed ta do?”
“So we’ve really fallen right into their plan…” Francis surmised. He shook his head and took a puff of his v-cig. “Don’t get too worked up, Carl, Fortuna.” He nodded at Cadence. “It’s alright, Cadence. On a personal level, I understand where you’re coming from. On a strictly professional level, on the other hand—”
“It’s alright?” Fortuna parroted. “What about this is ‘alright’? Cadence, you had the perfect opportunity to get us out of this mess—”
“No offense, Fortuna, but how is that the perfect opportunity?” Cadence interjected. “I had no idea— and still don’t have an idea—of where this place is, and Tau had his eye on me. What if something happened to Alma?”
Francis sighed, took a drag.
“Alma?” Fortuna frowned. “Again?”
“Why are ya surprised?” Cadence asked. “I mean you were practically usin’ her ta make me investigate Francis, Allen, and Carl.”
“I knew it!” Carl growled, jabbing a finger in Fortuna’s direction. “You really did send Cadence after us! What—you can’t even trust us?”
Fortuna frowned. “How do you expect me to react? You were against my engagement to Ambrose from the very beginning. How is that not suspicious? And I needed your support!”
“Well, it’s good that you sent Cadence on ‘em seein’ what’s happened to Francis,” an executive interjected.
“Shut up!” Fortuna and Carl snapped in unison at the executive, both sending him vehement glowers.
Allen took a drag of his v-cig.
The entire ordeal reminded Carl of the old days when they were younger:
Allen would throw a bone out. Cadence would play with it. Carl himself’d bite it. Francis would try to de-escalate and Fortuna would get pissed at Francis for de-escalating because she’d think he was being sly. Nico would cry and try to get them to stop fighting. Cadence would somehow reap the rewards.
It had been their routine for years but since they hadn’t come together in a while, Carl had nearly forgotten about it.
“That is unacceptable, Morello,” Agape stated, arms crossed as she glowered down at Cadence from her glasses. “You are an associate of the Romano Family. You’re poor decisions have—”
Suddenly, Francis gripped his abdomen with one hand and rubbed his temple with the other. Carl had seen his brother go through these motions before. Francis had been going through them ever since the night he was stabbed. During those bouts of pain, he’d down the doctor’s painkillers and saunter off to bed. Some days, he wouldn’t show face for hours after.
Carl released Cadence immediately. “Shit, Francis, you need your meds?”
Cadence placed a hand on his arm. “Carl, I don’t think that’s what’s happenin’.”
“I believe you are about to switch, Francis,” Alice said. She’d finally come out of whatever silent daze she’d entered earlier and turned to Francis all calm-like. She held her hand out placatingly—to the executives, not to Francis. “Don’t panic.”
Francis stiffened immediately, and he chuckled although he was clearly not amused. “Well, Miss Kingsley, it’s difficult not to panic when you say that…” He trailed off, eyes becoming distant.
“Cadence,” Allen said warningly.
Nodding, Cadence snapped her fingers and disappeared in a flash of copper. Carl shot a quick look back at Omicron but the woman’s gaze was focused solely on Francis.
“Shit, Francis,” Carl stammered, turning to his brother and gripping him on the shoulder. “You need to fight it or something! Don’t just give i—”
Francis slapped his hand away and shoved him back. Carl did a double-take, glancing back at the others. The executives and Agape skirted backwards nervously, while Allen and Fortuna remained firmly planted in place. When Carl snapped his attention back to his younger brother, Francis was no longer rubbing his temple. He wasn’t gripping his stomach either. Carl stared.
Theta stared back at him. Carl didn’t really know how he knew it wasn’t Francis anymore. He just did.
The ELPIS leader took a swift scan of the room, inspected the v-cig in his hands, frowned with mild disgust, sighed. “I see.”
Without addressing any of them, he unignited the v-cig with a flick of his wrist, placed it down on the game board as he walked past it, and reached Omicron’s side. He placed a hand on the woman’s cheek before undoing her bindings.
“Which one did this to you?” Theta asked once she was free. “Are you alright?”
“It’s not a big deal.” Omicron rolled her neck as she rubbed her wrists. Her gaze flicked to the area where Cadence had disappeared but didn’t say anything else.
“Where is her conductor?” Theta pressed, extending his hand out and waiting.
Carl grimaced, pulled the clunky thing out from his pocket, turned it over in his hand. Instead of tossing it to Theta, however, Carl walked right up to him and dropped it into Theta’s waiting palm.
“Oh, you’re much braver than before,” Theta noted, handing the conductor to Omicron.
“Never ‘fraid to begin with,” Carl grunted. “Be stupid to be afraid of my younger brother.”
“I see.” Disinterest. “You’re a bit too loose-lipped, Omicron.”
Omicron slipped her conductor on with a shrug. “Sorry, darling, you know I love to talk.”
Carl’s gut twisted.
A beat of silence.
Suddenly one of the executives stepped forward, brushing past Carl. “Wait, if all you’re saying is true. You ELPIS leaders are... You’re basically immortal.”
Theta sighed. Omicron cleared her throat.
“No,” Theta corrected, looking back or the executive, “this is the opposite of immortality. This isn’t even living. We are very much dead. The moment we bleached our vitae, we died. Every time we use our conductors, we burn away at the original vitae that was stored in our resistors. That vitae does not return to the cycle. Eventually, we will burn away completely and become nothingness.”
“Vitae cycle?” The executive scoffed. “Who cares about that?” He closed the distance between them and grabbed hold of Theta’s arm. “Hell, if that’s the case then sign me right up. I have the connections. I can make this organization big!”
Carl started forward without thinking, prying the executive from Theta and shoving the bastard to the ground. Omicron, meanwhile, pulled Theta backwards and stepped in front of him with a set frown. For a brief moment, Carl made eye contact with the woman.
Theta brushed past Omicron and stared down at the executive. “You want to join ELPIS?”
The executive swallowed.
“Let me show you what we plan to do here,” Theta drew, “and if you can stomach it then perhaps you show promise.”
Theta sank down to a crouch and placed his gloved hand onto the floor. It was painted entirely black, Carl realized. And in an instant, that blackness beneath them became engulfed in tangerine light and a cold wind rushed at them from below. A weightlessness tickled Carl’s stomach before the light faded and Carl was left in darkness.
It took just a second for Carl to realize that they were all outside.
The starless night sky unfolded above him, and for the first time in weeks Carl was able to breathe in fresh air. Shitty tasting and smelling fresh air, but fresh air nonetheless. The wind was harsh, cold, biting.
Carl stumbled forward in the dark—and nearly stumbled off of a ledge and plummeted down into the open air below. Allen caught him by the arm and pulled him up right.
They were standing on the tip of one the spires of the Dioscuri bridge. The v-train station was just below them and just below that were the glittering night lights of the city. From the surface of the bridge, the lights and people had looked like ants. From the tip of this spire though, they looked like specks of dust.
“This city is too entrenched in corruption…”
Theta’s voice was carried by the howling winds, and Carl turned to find his brother standing on the very edge of spire. He was facing the city and pointing outwards with a book. The book was open with its spine facing up.
“Sometimes there are no other options. Some things cannot be salvaged.”
Theta flipped the book over so that its pages now faced the sky. He balanced the book carefully, holding it so that the city that stretched out before them was held on its pages.
“We will take the modified conductors we’ve taken from you and your warehouses and take them to the vitae reservoirs. We’ll fill the city with them.”
He slowly closed the book as a smile took the corner of his lips.
“And this city will sink by them.”
He turned to them, to the executive who was still on the ground.
“And while we will save the children who have been taken advantage of due to these conductors, you will be set at the center stage. We will see this to the end even if we have to sink ourselves. Are you willing to make that sacrifice, Mr. Etoile?”
“T-That’s insane,” the executive stammered
There was another flash of tangerine light from beneath Carl’s feet, followed by another rush of cold air, and then he was back in that windowless room. All of them were— though Carl had no idea if Cadence managed to escape or if she was still with them.
But as Carl counted heads, he realized there were two extras with them not including Cadence. A man and a woman were sitting at the game table which was now stacked high with the open pastry boxes. The commissario and Omega.
“What the hell is going on here?!” the commissario snapped, leaping to his feet when he saw them. He jabbed a finger in Carl’s direction. “Why are they out of their restraints?!”
Omega flipped her hair, plucked a nut pastry from the box, and began to nibble on it. “It looks like they went on a fun trip together, doesn’t it?
“We ran into some technicalities as people call it nowadays, but everything is fine now,” Omicron explained. She studied Theta’s face. “We should take you to Lambda.” She said glancing in Allen’s direction. “You had an allergy attack. I’m not sure how long the epinephrine will last.”
“You look like you’re in poorer shape than I am,” Theta responded.
“Then we can both go,” Omicron said lightheartedly.
“Wait a minute,” Tau snapped, gesturing wildly to Carl and those who stood beside him. “What about them?”
Omicron lifted her conductor and flicked her hand in their direction. The ropes scattered on the floor which were doused with her blood from her beating earlier glowed white and flew towards Carl and the others. In an instant, they were back in their chairs just as bound as before. No, it was tighter now. Back to square one.
“Before we go, I would like to finish the initiation,” Theta said. “Now that the details are known.”
Omicron and Tau froze.
Carl didn’t like the sound of that either.
“Theta,” Tau said, “are you sure? I mean, you have Francis’s face and eventually, you’ll have some of his memories. We could still use that. His position. Or at least—”
“Shall I have it put in a place where it can’t be seen then? Like yours?” Theta asked.
Tau grimaced. “That’s not what I…”
“I understand where you’re coming from, Tau. And I understand your reasoning,” Theta said gently, “but I don’t want to have a place where I can return to. A reason to hesitate.”
Omicron placed a hand on his shoulder, and her expression folded. “Are you really sure...?”
Theta sank down to one knee in front of her in response.
“Where would you like it?”
Theta smiled. “I thought we already decided where ours would be. You were the one who suggested it.”
Omicron returned the expression. “I was just seeing if you still remembered.”
“You’re a ridiculous person.” Theta sighed before placing a hand over his chest and bowing his head.
The room’s atmosphere changed suddenly, and Carl almost felt as if he was in one of his executive meetings. Formal, reverent, professional. Ceremonial.
Omicron asked Theta something in a language that Carl couldn’t understand. Theta responded back in that same language as he lifted his head. Omicron held out her ungloved hand to Tau. The commissario walked over to her, pulled out a knife from his belt, and cut into her palm. Unflinchingly, Omicron dipped her gloved finger into the blood that began to pool in her hand. She then began to trace something with her finger onto the right side of his face which was turned away from Carl.
Instantly, Carl realized what was happening. He didn’t know jack about vitae and still didn’t know jack about ELPIS, but he still had enough smarts to put two and two together.
Carl struggled against his bindings, but he already knew it was too late.
Omicron’s gloved hand hovered over the right half of Theta’s face and a pale white glow began to emit from it. When the light faded, Omicron lowered her hand and Theta rose to a stand. The two stared at each, exchanged a couple more words in that language, before both inclining their heads.
Tau wiped his blade clean and slipped it back into his belt. Omega gave a small, cheery clap from where she sat in her chair, and Tau followed suit.
“It looks good,” Omega hummed. “Congratulations!”
Theta turned towards Omega. And Carl no longer felt angry. He just felt sick.
A white snake tattoo divided by a slew of foreign letters consumed the right side of his brother’s face.
“Omega,” Theta said, placing a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “I have a new warehouse location I would like you to place your mediums in and use my proto-conductor at.”
Omega did a loose salute. “You know you can always rely on me, Theta.”
Theta seemed to tighten her grip on Omega’s shoulder. “You should be careful when you go outside without traveling with my gates. The peacekeeper with the suitcase is in the city now.”
Omega saluted again.
Theta chuckled, musical.
After exchanging a couple more words with the other ELPIS leaders, Theta and Omicron left in a flash of pale tangerine side-by-side. Omega shoved the rest of the pastries into her mouth before she too flipped a proto-conductor in hand and disappeared into a portal she opened with it.
“See you next time, Tau,” Omega sang before she disappeared. “Enjoy the extra guest!”
And that left Tau, the bastard commissario, formerly Vincente Giustizia, sitting at the game board table. He glowered at them.
“You certainly chose a poor host didn’t you, Tau,” Agape finally said tersely. “Though I have to admit that this is an improvement.”
Tau arched a brow. “So they told you.” He clicked his tongue and shook his head as he loosened his tie. “Vincente Giustizia was stabbed in an alleyway outside of the Casa several months ago. By one of your workers, Agape Rosario. He bled out two blocks away from the hospital which was where Lambda used my resistor on him.”
“Bastard deserved it,” Carl grumbled. Francis didn’t.
“I agree,” Tau said. “Which is why I didn’t press charges against that Blanca Murio, though I’m sure she had enough of a punishment when she saw me up and walking.” Abruptly he snapped to attention and began to jab a finger at them. “And you bastards aren’t any better!”
And thus began another lengthy tirade. One that Carl didn’t really tune into. Instead, his mind drifted to Francis. They could fix this somehow, right? Undo it. There had to be a way.
“She’s here, isn’t she?” Tau abruptly asked, after taking five minutes to recollect himself. “Omega is a Manipulator, and she’s very good at manipulating items that can serve as observational mediums.” He scanned the room. “I’m talking to you, Morello. ‘Extra guest’.”
There was a beat of silence.
“I don’t give a damn about how you got in here, Morello, but the only way you’re getting out of here is through me,” Tau snapped, arms on hips. He patted his suit coat pocket. “I have proto-conductor stored with Theta’s vitae here, and I sure as hell know you don’t have one—”
There was a shimmer of copper right beside the commissario, and he leaped backwards as Cadence appeared there.
“So ya’ve got that Omega doll under your wing for your mutiny spiel?” Cadence popped.
“Why are you back here, Morello?” Tau snapped, straightening his tie and pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “And it’s not a damn mutiny spiel.” He recollected himself again and turned to her with narrowed eyes. “What I give a damn about is whether you have information about Omicron and the Campanas. If you don’t then you and your Alma—”
“All I know is what their product is,” Cadence said evenly.
“I don’t know much about Theta and Omicron or about their relationship,” Cadence explained, “but the product is probably why Omicron’s tryna handle the Campanas herself down under.”
“Just get to the damned point, you short, yapping, ginger raccoon.”
“You’re gettin’ really good with your insults,” Cadence noted before she held up her hands placatingly and elaborated. “Their sellin’ Specialists…” She grimaced, lowering hands which indicated to Carl that it wasn’t going to be pretty. “Specialist children. Probably orphans or kids whose parents sold ‘em—”
Tau slapped a hand over her mouth. He placed a finger to his lips and waited for Cadence to nod before he detached himself. “You’re one hundred percent sure about this?”
Cadence nodded, eyes wide.
Carl grimaced. The Campanas were bastards through and through. He knew he wasn’t a good man. He knew he wasn’t a smart man. But even he knew that selling children was a one-way ticket to hell.
The commissario looked like he was about to keel over. He pressed one hand to his mouth and one hand to his forehead. “No, no, no. Damn.” He sank into the chair beside the makeshift table and bit his fist. “You’re disgusting…. All of you. I hope when this city sinks into that damn bay, all of you drown in the damn ocean.” He shook his head. “If Theta finds out in this condition then…”
He rose to a stand, shoved Cadence aside, and paced over to them. “If any of you value your damned lives, you better keep your mouths shut. If you think you’re suffering enough punishment now then you’re in for a big damned surprised.” He whipped around to Cadence. “And you—”
Cadence had made it over to the wall and was now spinning an item in her hands. It looked like the proto-conductor they were using to open portals.
Tau’s hand immediately went to his suit pocket. His eyes widened. “You—”
Cadence twirled the proto-conductor in-between her fingers and tapped it against the wall. Tau made it to the wall just in time for Cadence to slip through the portal she’d made there. The portal closed as soon as she stepped through it leaving Tau to crash against the wall.