His voice was loud, strained, but carrying an unmistakeable note of defiance.

"Hey Shitcrumb! Easy—"

Samuel hit pause on the recording, and then rewind. Frame by frame, the TV played the lightning strike in reverse. The masked, dark-haired figure on the screen rose back to life, arms falling back in, feet finding ground. He paused it again.

"You're sure," he said for the third time.

Anita rolled her eyes, expression otherwise unchanging.


She nodded. As if to punctuate his statement, she turned around the tablet in her hands, showing him a thread from the Parahumans Online forum, zoomed in to the point that only two posts were visible. He leaned in to read.

► Forgotten Creator

Replied on July 28th, 2011:

Guy who sacrifices himself for teammate at 1:16 confirmed as Regent, member of the Brockton Bay villain group 'the Undersiders', ex-teammate of Weaver. Girl is Imp, also in the Undersiders. Can't find anything about her online except she's probably a stranger, but Regent is a founding member of the Undersiders, held territory in the city and also fought Leviathan. Master 8.

► Ne

Replied on July 28th, 2011:

Damn, a master against an Endbringer? Respect to him for showing up. Weaver at least has her thinker rating.

"Regent," he repeated aloud, rereading the post.

Anita turned the tablet back around, tapped it once, and showed it to him again. The PHO wiki, Regent's entry. He skimmed the sparse article and multitude of comments, paying particular attention to dates and powers information. Regent was listed as having the ability to cause involuntary movements with an unknown upper limit. There were unsubstantiated rumours that he could take control of people's entire bodies. According to Brockton Bay locals, he'd done it to Shatterbird.

"Fuck," Samuel said again, more quietly. Anita lowered the tablet and gave him a triumphant look. "Yeah," he conceded, "I'm sold."

She smirked, and he felt a quick prickle from her power. His feeling of dismay was sapped away. It cleared his head a little, enabled him to think more about what to do next. That wasn't why she'd done it. He didn't mention it, but when his eyes met hers, she pulled a worried face – a little overdone, eyes too wide, bottom lip jutting out – and pointed up to where the master bedroom was on the top floor.

He nodded. She understood the problem. He could hear himself now: hey dad, we found Jean-Paul! He became a successful criminal and controlled part of a city. Also, he's dead.

His thoughts touched involuntarily on Vivienne and another prickle from Anita drained the feeling away like the plughole in a bath. In the corner of his eye, he saw her lick her lips, tasting what she had taken from him. Fear, with a kind of quiet regret. Nobody else would make the same mistake she had, when she had told their father that Cherie was dead.

"Don't talk about this to anyone," he said.

She stuck her tongue out, giving him a caustic look. Do I ever?

He elbowed her in the ribs. "You know what I mean."

[AN: Welcome to my second ever published work on FF! It's been over two years since I've actually logged back in here. I hope you'll stick with me as this one's actually going to be multiple chapters, probably around 20, which I'll try to release twice a week. Thank you for your attention! ~Lewis]