Julie lays on the couch and stares up at the ceiling, seemingly in a trance.
But then some keys jingle, the front door opens, and her head snaps up to look at Delta and Esther walking into the house.
She stands up and hugs them both as tight as she can.
“My two favorite girls in the world,” Julie says.
“What’s that smell?” Delta asks.
Julie lets go and clasps her hands together. She opens her mouth, as if to say something, but then closes it again.
Esther immediately runs into the home office and shouts, “The computer! Oh no!”
“The computer?” Delta asks. “Oh no.”
The smoldering wreckage of their PC, and Delta’s budget-minded shout.
“Did everything get backed up? Are we gonna be okay on that? Can we even afford a new desktop? Oh my—”
“Honey, it’s alright,” Julie says.
Esther looks up at Julie? “I wonder if Mama’s activated her system now...”
Delta stares at Julie incredulously, and then Julie bends over to pick her daughter up.
“Let’s go put the girl to bed. I’ll tuck you in right.” She takes Esther into her room, passes the crib they still haven’t gotten rid of, and puts her under the covers of their bed. “Goodnight, little baby.”
“I’m a baby,” Esther says softly, just seconds before she passes out and begins to snore.
Then Julie goes back into the living room, where Delta looks on her with a mix of different emotions.
“I met Francis today,” she tells Julie. “He didn’t want to help. Not sure if he had anything, though, anyway. But now he hates me, so, oops.”
“I never did like him,” Julie says.
“Yeah, I know.” Delta puts her hands on her hips. “Want to explain the computer to me?”
“I think it worked,” Julie says. “Something worked. I... I have powers.”
“Oh, so you torched the computer on purpose.”
“No. But I still did it anyway. A [Fireball] or something like that.”
“Well, shit.” Delta smiles. “I was so upset after how things with Francis turned out, but you went and figured it out all on your own. I really am the useless one here.”
“You’re not useless. You’re the only thing that keeps me alive.” Julie put her arm around Delta’s waist and pulled her up close. “If anything were to happen to you, I would destroy every single thing around me until I fulfilled my vengeance.”
“That’s... I’m not sure if I should swoon from that line, but I am.”
“I love you,” Delta says.
They move in to kiss again—
But then the loud sound of a newspaper page turning startles them both into action.
In the kitchen, sitting at the table with her legs crossed, is an elderly Asian woman with a very dissatisfied expression, reading the daily paper.
“Pearls Before Swine isn’t as good as it used to be,” the woman says. She folds the newspaper and sets it down on the table. “I wondered when you would notice me.”
Julie steps in front of Delta. “Get out of here.”
“I will,” she says, “but with the three of you.” The woman stands up and speaks in an older form of Japanese—one that makes Julie’s face twitch. A large fireball appears, hovering above the woman’s palm—and then poofs away in a wisp. “I’m Master Keitou,” she says. “And you three are in imminent danger.”
“Um, why?” Delta asks. “This is more Mystix shit, isn’t it?”
“I sensed the massive power surge earlier today,” Master Keitou says. “I ignored it last time, and that was a mistake. This time, I will correct my mistakes.”
At this moment, the front door opens and two people in dark suits and sunglasses enter, one of them clutching their ear.
“I thought Eryk Solbourne would be the hero to save us all,” the woman continues, “but it seems Julie Rafati here might be the one to take the mantle. Do you want to reach S-Rank, Julie?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You will, but only if you come with us, immediately. Otherwise, the U.S. government is going to find you, too. And I can promise they won’t play nice. Do you understand what I mean?”
“Yeah,” Julie says.
Delta gulps audibly. “Crap. We’ll have to wake the baby.”