Sunday, September 4
The sun beating down on the back of your neck is less oppressive than you would have expected in Philadelphia or even Brockton Bay. Most of your time here in Canada has been with you staying in a factory with your various allies, but if Vancouver's summers and autumns are anything like Toronto's weather today, you might have to spend more time out in the fresh air.
Winter, on the other hand? You will be perfectly fine indoors back home, thank you very much.
The Toronto PRT director continues to drone on, and it is only the sea of cameras flashing in front of you that keeps you from rolling your eyes. Dragon, just as she said she would, started off this press conference with the announcement that several of Grey Boy's bubbles had been disrupted and their prisoners freed, an announcement that you know is redundant if the flurry of thread updates on PHO is anything to go by. That Dragon and Tim were the ones responsible, however, is not as well-known.
Her explanation about the partnership between Dragontech and the PRT led in turn to her handing off of the bubble-popper to the director, which in its own turn led to his long and still lengthening speech for something that should have been a simple thank-you followed by questions. Hence your boredom. Your eyes flick from him and the silvery sphere floating next to him that is projecting Dragon's digital avatar towards the Toronto Protectorate capes and agents standing on the other side of the steps that lead into the local PRT office, their members flanking their man in charge just as your team stand behind Dragon. Their faces are frozen in perfectly bland masks that scream their own disinterest.
You bring your gaze back to the Arcana. Kayleigh is the only one who wears a smile, but her attention is on the crowd as a whole. Sarah must have received the same training as her Canadian counterparts while she was in New York, and Laura…
Something about her looks different, and you narrow your eyes until you realize with a shock what the reason is. She is sound asleep and just still standing upright!
«Can you believe the nerve of her?» you ask Missy.
«Huh? What are you talking about?»
You nod your head in Laura's direction, and you see Missy's mouth quirk in a smile when she sees the posture of the white-clad knight. Now that your attention is focused on her, however, your own smile falls as you realize something is also off about your resident summoner-ninja. Her armored prosthetic arm hangs straight downwards, and when her body turned slightly so she could better look at Laura her arm remained in the same rigid position instead of shifting like it normally would. «What's up with your arm?»
Her head whips back towards you. «My arm? Uh, nothing. Nothing at all. Don't worry about it.» You do not even bother challenging her on her obvious lie, and your silence is prodding enough. Her eyes shift downwards, unable to stay locked with yours. «It's not actually there. This is just my Barrier Jacket making a copy to look good.»
«Missy! You should have told me you got in a fight or something!» She squirms in the face of your sudden burst of worry, and you sigh long through your nose. «Does Tim know at least, so he can fix it?»
Her embarrassment does not lessen any, which makes you even more worried. «Oh yeah, he knows. I didn't get in a fight or anything. I, uh, finally talked him into taking off the last little bit of my arm on Friday?» You blink, not sure what to say to that, so she hastily continues, «He said he was working on getting my civilian arm ready tonight so I can get back to school tomorrow.» She frowns. «I'm not sure how confident I am about that, to be entirely honest. Have you talked to him lately?»
Missy shrugs her right shoulder a little. «Something's going on with him. When I was telling him what I wanted, he seemed almost… absent minded, I guess? He didn't even question or argue against any of the modifications I suggested, which was odd all on its own. I asked him what else he was working on, and he just grinned like a crazy person and didn't answer me.»
That only makes you more concerned rather than less, but your conversation is interrupted when you realize that the director has finally stopped talking and opened the floor to questions. "—responsible for opening up the other bubbles that have been disrupted over the last month?" asks someone you do not recognize.
"Shipwright and his companions are some of the Tinkers I mentioned earlier," Dragon replies easily. "As I said, they have been instrumental in developing this technology."
"Kristen Hill, from Wired," another of the reporters says at the same time as she is raising her hand above her head. "Does your reasoning for giving up this 'bubble-popper' have anything to do with needing to prioritize the final development of the computer system you demonstrated?"
"I have many irons in many different fires," comes Dragon's answer. "This exchange with the PRT has less to do with not having time or interest and more to do with them being better set up to both free and provide support to all the victims Grey Boy left behind."
Another man raises his own hand. "Randolph Willingham, the Inquirer. The capes of the Toronto Protectorate I can understand being here." His hand falls to point a single finger at you and your team. "I might as well be the person to ask the question we're all thinking. Who are they?"
Dragon's projection sphere turns towards you, and you take a breath in and out to steady your nerves. You both knew someone would ask, and Dragon had talked you through a number of situations that might arise. Now it is time to put them to the test.
"I wondered who would ask first," Dragon says before turning back towards the clustered reporters. "I would like to introduce you to the Arcana. They are a team of independent heroines. Some of you may or may not recognize them as the team that eliminated the Simurgh family of the Fallen."
It is clear that nobody had put two and two together on that score, but as soon as those words leave her mouth all the cameras are pointed in your direction and flashing nonstop.
"Calamity Witch, their leader, and I have been communicating for the last several months. We have run a few joint operations in that time, the assault on the Fallen compound being one of them. After further discussion, we agreed that continued collaboration is in both of our interests. They will therefore be working alongside me for the foreseeable future."
"So they're new members of the Guild?" somebody shouts from the back of the room.
Dragon shakes her head, and you can see her small smirk through the holographic screen. "Not exactly. The Arcana have taken a contract to work under me directly as a corporate team in the employ of Dragontech, LLC. Further information will be forthcoming as it becomes worthwhile to reveal to the public."
Her smirk expands into a full-grown grin. "But to be honest? I think the results will speak for themselves."
This has taken a long while to come out. RL is hammering me hard for a variety of reasons, so I'm not sure when the next chapter of ANYTHING is coming out. While there will be delays, you can at least count on the fact that I will never abandon a story without explicitly saying so in a separate update.
Silently Watches out.