Rutherford 'Rusty' McMiller listened in on the conference room telephone. He was currently checked in at the Chicago Four Seasons hotel downtown, with the cover story of looking into Nova Corporation's interests in town. In reality, his goals were much larger than simple financial interests. In his secret identity as the energy manipulator 'Red Nova', he was one of the better known metahumans out there, and one of the few who had developed a working, albeit begrudging relationship with the authorities as someone who would help in meta-class crimes.

In the last year, Rusty had found and recruited a pair of other like-minded metahumans who joined both his civilian corporation and his Red Nova identity: A telepath named Nicole Baritolli and a fast, strong brawler named Eddie Bower, who had also been a victim of genetic experiments from the government. Between the three of them, they called themselves the Dark Saviors, and had established a presence on the East Coast. Over the last year, they had dealt with a number of metahuman criminals with varying degrees of success, and had developed into a confident and capable team.

"...wasn't much for me to do when I landed," Rusty said. "At least in terms of Onyx and his crew. The Central Metahuman Taskforce though has some disturbing hypotheses about the fifth meta that got away." As Rusty spoke, his laptop provided him video conferencing and additional information from his offices back East. A small device attached to the phone and laptop ensured that the information being exchanged would remain private.

"How sure are they that the fifth meta was associated with Onyx?" Nicole asked on the phone.

"Unknown at this time. But from what I could tell, it looked like that meta took Onyx and his team down all by herself. Whether she was an outsider or someone who turned on her own teammates, we're not sure. Either way, I took some readings from the battle scene. All four were in a deep trance and non-responsive. The stadium was almost a total wreck, but surprisingly no casualties and almost no panic, which suggests a really high-powered broadcast empath or telepath." He leaned forward. "Could you have done that Nicole?"

"15,000 kids?" There was a brief pause on the phone. "Not a chance. Even if I tried, I'd be totally wasted. There's no way I could do that and drop Onyx and his friends at the same time."

"The list doesn't end there," Rusty continued. "The air was lousy with ionized noble gases, and I found a substantial amount of molecular anomalies." He held up a crystal figurine of a grasshopper. "Unless Gadgeteer made a Nobel-Prize winning breakthrough on a gizmo we missed, our girl can also play with molecules."

"Are you sure there was only one meta? Most metas we've seen are one-trick ponies and can't really project power on that level without outside help," Eddie asked.

"Eyewitnesses and surveillance suggests only one," Rusty confirmed.

"Well, if we're dealing with only one, then that sounds like a really dangerous combination," Eddie said with a dark hiss. "Did you manage to at least get an ID on this girl?"

Rusty pressed a key on his laptop. The footage was grainy and dark, but Rusty had some highly advanced technologies for just this kind of job. The photos were washed through several enhancement filters, clearing up the pictures to almost photo studio quality. He then loaded a database copied from Farmer Village High yearbook and ran a comparison check.

"What makes you think she goes to this school?" Nicole asked.

"A hunch," Rusty replied. "The boy that got tossed by Onyx; she caught him when she first arrived at the scene and spent almost fifteen seconds talking with him before sending him to the police and ambulances."

"Well, he is a good-looking kid; maybe she wanted his phone number," Nicole said drolly as Eddie hissed and Rusty smiled with amusement. A beep sounded from the laptop, getting everyone's attention.

"Uh oh..." Rusty said as he read the file. The bright flashing red text caught his attention almost immediately.

"What?" Nicole asked.

"Our girl has a record: Her name's Angelina McGee; alias Clancy. She's a high-school freshman at this school. It says she's wanted by three federal task forces, but her file is covered with several SAP/SAR redacts. The only parts not redacted are the parts that say that her capture is considered highest priority."

"What's she wanted for?" Nicole asked. "And what the hell is a fourteen-year-old doing with Special-Access-Restricted redacts? Who wants her and what are they hiding?"

"That's the other kicker," Rusty said ominously. "The name on top of the file is none other than our pal General Garner."

There was a long quiet pause. "So let me get this straight," Eddie said coldly. "This girl can split a stadium in half, pacify the civilians, while kicking the crap out of four metahumans, and Garner wants her for reasons that don't get put on an official record. Do I have to say how much this stinks?"

"I'm more worried about this new girl than Garner," Nicole warned. "I really think you should postpone any confrontation until we get there to help you. If this girl's even a fraction as powerful as she looks, then you could find yourself outmatched in a fight."

"I'm not planning to fight," Rusty promised. "I'm just going to find her and try and determine her motives and what she was doing there."

"That sounds just fine and dandy," Eddie said sarcastically. "What makes you think she's going to play nice while you're busy interrogating her?"

"My natural wit and charm?" Rusty quipped before shrugging fatalistically. "And if that doesn't work, I guess you and Nicole can find us by following the smoking crater."

---

Robinson Park was a popular place for all types of people. The feature of the park was the lake in the middle of the grounds, which was surrounded by a jogging track and picnic grounds. Angelina looked on with despondency as she tossed a flat stone into the lake, watching it skip four times before it plopped into the water.

Madelyn shook her head and snorted. "There's, like, no way you did that fair and square."

Angelina sighed. "You're doubting me too?"

"Hey, I'm just kidding." Madelyn looked around, picked up a rock and managed to skip it three times before it dropped into the lake. She looked admiringly at Angelina's stylish outfit. "Well, at least you're dressing better these days."

"Like it? It's something I thought up."

"Aren't you cold in that miniskirt though?"

Angelina shrugged dejectedly. "I don't seem to get hot or cold these days."

Madelyn sighed. "You're still bummed, huh?"

"I trashed the stadium! I was a bigger threat to everyone than the creeps who held you all ransom!"

"You saved Pete's life!" Madelyn reminded her. "You probably saved my life and everyone else at the game! OK, you trashed a stadium," she conceded. "That can be fixed. But I think you're being too hard on yourself. It was your first time. You'll get better."

"I don't know; I don't think I'm ready. You know I don't even have a superhero name?"

"Oh, I've got that, like, so covered!" Madelyn assured Angelina. "Get ready for...Psi Girl!"

"You're joking," Angelina deadpanned.

"OK, OK, how about Mind Maid?"

"Maid? What am I, sixty?"

"Mezmera?"

"Taken."

"How about Mindshadow?" a new voice suggested.

Both Madelyn and Angelina turned towards one of the park benches. "You..." Angelina said with recognition.

"Who?" Madelyn asked.

"He says his name's Dennis Halbert. He said he was part of the Project that's after me. How do you keep finding me?"

"We were supposed to meet again here," Dennis explained ambiguously.

"What are you, like, brain-fried?" Madelyn asked derisively as she noted Dennis' distracted and foggy behavior.

"Actually that's not far from the truth I'm afraid," Dennis admitted. "The Project affected us all differently, mostly for the worse. For me, I can see the future."

"Really," Angelina said dubiously.

"Coming from someone who can do what you can, I would think you'd be more open to such abilities."

Madelyn and Angelina looked at each other and shrugged. "OK...so if you can tell the future, how come you aren't filthy rich or something?" Madelyn asked.

"It doesn't work that way," Dennis explained. "I see the future, but for me, it's already happened. I can't change the future. I just know what's going to happen."

"What did you mean by 'Mindshadow'?" Angelina asked.

"That was the name of the Project," Dennis said. "Project Mindshadow dates back almost twenty years. Its goal was to develop the technology to create high-order psionics of all types, in the hopes of developing a counterforce against the growing metahuman population. Your parents were part of that project."

"Yeah, I know about my parents being part of the Project," Angelina said tiredly.

"No you don't," Dennis said and shook his head. "The parents you knew didn't join the Project until several years later. Your real parents were part of the first wave of test subjects for the treatments."

"So...I was part of this Project?" Angelina asked.

"No," Dennis shook his head. "You were an accident." He saw Angelina give him a baneful look, and then added, "Not that kind of accident."

"Wait a minute," Madelyn said. "You're saying Angie's real parents got their powers from the government? So they could do anything she can? How the hell did the government ever manage to catch them then?"

"Unfortunately for them, they couldn't. None of us at Project Mindshadow had even a fraction of that kind of capability. As I said, Angie was an accident." He sighed sadly. "Your parents found each other while they were test subjects. One thing led to another..." He paused. "Once they had you, the Project took you away for experimentation. So they decided they wanted out."

"So where are they now?" Angelina asked.

Dennis shook his head. "The last time I saw them, you were only a month old."

"Look, this all sounds fascinating," Angelina said. "But seeing how I can't read you, how can I tell you aren't just selling me a load of crap? Or worse, trying to set me up?"

"Well, you could do what most people do and look things up yourself. Or you can just ask Red Nova when you see him later."

"She's gonna team up with Red Nova?" Madelyn asked hopefully.

"He's probably gonna arrest me for trashing the stadium," Angelina said.

"She goes with him," Dennis said vaguely.

"Oh yeah?" Angelina said willfully. "What if I don't? Won't that mess with your prediction?"

Dennis smiled. "You think you have that choice. From my perspective, it's already happened. But do what you want. Either way, we'll see each other again."

Madelyn and Angelina looked at each other as Dennis took his leave. "Is he for real?" Madelyn asked.

"His mind being closed is real," Angelina said with concern. "I don't know if he's telling the truth or not. He might be a plant from the government to try and lure me into an ambush."

---

Roger and Laura Packard sat and fidgeted in the doctor's office. A gruff stern man, Roger didn't like showing weakness. In his line of work, fear was just not an option. One of the Coast Guard's best Chief Petty Officers, he was one of the men who taught at the training facility in New London Connecticut many years ago. He earned a reputation of being able to whip crews into shape, which meant a lot of traveling, leaving his family behind for his career until recent years. Currently one of the senior enlisted men responsible for live-fire exercises around the Great Lakes, he was accustomed to facing tough choices. But like most men, what he hated most of all was the feeling of helplessness when facing the unknown. He steeled himself as the doctor returned from the examination room.

"So what's the prognosis doctor?" Roger asked.

Dr. Jim Davie shook his head. "I've never seen anything like it. Mrs. Packard, you say someone just touched you and you started feeling better?"

"She said it was acupressure or something like that."

Jim looked at a set of highly detailed X-rays again. "Well, even setting aside acupressure's dubious benefits, there's no way that explains these results. The good news is that there's no sign of your osteoarthritis. In fact, there's no sign that you've ever had arthritis or skeletal damage of any kind. Even your old injuries like the leg you broke last year don't show any signs of prior damage."

"Well, then what's the problem?" Laura asked.

"Well, not a problem, per say. But I would very much like to know the source of the change. If it's actually some kind of treatment that can be duplicated, then it could be a huge boon to a lot of people."

"Dr. Davie, could you give us a moment?" Roger asked.

Jim nodded and left the room. After they were alone, Roger turned to Laura. "She did something to you, didn't she?" he asked with an accusatory tone.

"Roger!"

"No, I'm serious! There's no other way to say it! Angie's got to be a meta of some kind!"

Laura shook her head. "I can't believe I'm hearing this! We've known Angie for years! She's probably spent more time at our home over the years than you did! Why do you have such a problem with her now? Maybe she can heal people with a touch! Is that such a bad thing?"

"Laura," Roger said, forcing himself to calm down, "in case you don't remember, Angie's parents were murdered. I've seen meta conflicts up close and they are never pretty. I also don't believe in coincidence. Whoever killed Angie's parents almost certainly had something to do with her being a meta. I don't want you or Maddie getting hurt."

Laura also calmed down. "Roger...I know that your heart is in the right place. You've always been there for us. But you don't know what it's like to be constantly in pain."

"Now wait just a minute..."

"No, let me finish. If Angie was trying to hide something from us, then all she had to do was nothing at all. She chose to heal me because she was trying to help. If you're asking me to turn my back on her because you're afraid of what might happen, then I just won't do that."

"And what about Maddie? What if she's at risk? For that matter, does she even know?"

"Maddie?" Laura sighed. "With all the time they spend together, I can't imagine that she doesn't know."

Roger folded his arms. "All right. We'll find out what Maddie knows first before we do anything. But we're going to have to do what's best for our family."

---

Daniel Nunez shook his head with frustration as he read the e-mail letter on his computer. What was going on he wondered. He was sure that he had filled the paperwork right. He sighed, and then printed the letter for his records. He needed to consult with his boss to figure out what was going on.

After getting the hard copy from the printer and filing it into the folder, he walked to one of the offices and knocked on the door.

"Enter," Mark Weinstein said.

"Mr. Weinstein, do you have a moment?"

"Sure Danny, what's going on?"

Daniel pulled out the folder and referred to some of the documentation. "I was wondering what was going on with the Clancy case. I filed a request for supplemental funding for an adoption and I'm getting turned down. What's the deal?"

Mark took the offered document and looked it over. "You don't have sufficient documentation to prove financial need."

"With all due respect sir, they only have one breadwinner, and he's not exactly a big shot exec. I've documented their mortgage information and cost of living index in the appropriate forms."

"Danny," Mark sighed. "Sometimes the bureaucracy just doesn't always make sense. There's probably a bean counter who's found that the Packards fall in that nether region between too little and too much money. The best thing you can do for this girl is probably try and look into other alternatives. If you want, I'm sure I could help you find another family who's more financially capable to handle the load."

"Sir, I'm not sure that's going to work. I spent time with Miss Clancy. I interviewed the Packards. They have a good relationship with one another. I...I don't think we're going to find another family that's going to care for her more than..."

"It's not always about caring Danny," Mark interrupted. "Sometimes it's more about just taking care of the big picture. You don't want to get hung up on one case. Just find another family and move the file out of your stack."

Daniel sighed. "If it's all right with you sir, I'd like to break the news to Miss Clancy myself."

Mark froze for a moment and looked at Daniel with a hard expression. "Danny, it'd really be better for you if you don't do that. I think you're getting too close to this case for your own good."

"Sir, I gave her my word that I'd do everything I could to help her. If I have to find her another place to live, I'd like for her to hear it from me directly."

"Danny, I know you think you're doing the right thing here, and no one appreciates your empathy for the kids than I do. But I really think the further you are from this girl, the safer it is for you."

Daniel looked at Mark with confusion. What the hell was Mark talking about? "Safer sir?"

Shit...! Mark cursed himself silently. "Sorry Danny, bad choice of words. I just meant that...I think that you're letting your emotions get in the way of your judgment. It's not that uncommon in this line of work." He sighed. "Listen, I'll take care of this situation. You just take care of your other cases. If anything breaks, I give you my word that I'll let you know immediately."

"Yes sir, thank you sir," Daniel said then turned around and left.

Mark waited until the door closed, then picked up the phone. "Mr. Raintree? Do you have an ETA on the plan to reacquire F67? I think we may have a problem..."

---

"Are you sure about this?"

Dr. Jim Davie pressed the "Send" on his email as he spoke on his speakerphone. "I know it looks unusual Dr. Hiller, but I've double-checked the results myself. The first set of x-rays was taken over a period of five years. Slow progression of Heberden and Bouchard nodes along the joints; pretty standard stuff. The second set of x-rays was the same patient taken yesterday."

"And the best they could give you was acupressure?" Dr. Hiller replied skeptically. Sure as hell that wasn't it; touchy-feely new-age crap couldn't cure a guilty conscience, let alone anything substantive like degenerative arthritis.

Jim shifted uncomfortably before answering; technically he was violating doctor-patient confidentiality sharing this with another physician without permission from his customer. If anyone asked questions though, he planned on arguing that he was merely consulting another colleague on a medical evaluation. "When I pressed for details, they asked for some privacy, so I'm guessing they're protecting someone close to them. Maybe one of their family members suddenly came across a magical curing potion?" he said flippantly.

"Or maybe one of them's a metahuman," Dr. Hiller replied ominously.

"A meta who can cure arthritis with a touch?" Jim paused for a moment as he pondered the ramifications. "Now that'd be a hell of a thing..." And something that would make the entire medical and pharmaceutical community take notice.

"Let's not exaggerate here," Dr. Hiller cautioned. "It's a little early to be calling this a cure. We'd have to perform tests...run trials...get government approvals. We have to evaluate whether this actually deals with the root cause of the patients' condition. For all we know, this 'treatment', whatever it is, might wear off in a few years as the patient ages. Five... ten years from now, your patient might be right back where she started with the onset of new symptoms."

Some of my patients would pay their entire life savings for five to ten years of fully restored mobility free from pain, Jim thought to himself. Hell, if news of this got out to the public, some people would do a lot more than just throw money around to get access to this 'treatment'... "Listen, before we start talking about doing test trials and applying for government patents, do you think we can keep a lid on this?"

"I'll do my best," Dr. Hiller offered. "But I suggest you try and find out whatever you can about this meta. Lab techs and nurses have a way of finding these kinds of things out. And if this leaks, then there's going to be hell to pay," because nothing was harder to stop than a desperate mob of people looking for a cure to the incurable.

---

Angelina struggled as other people's thoughts swam through her mind as she finished taking her latest customer's order at the BurgerMart counter. She could see Madelyn finishing up with band rehearsal and coming to the restaurant. Also in the background, she could hear Willie thinking up his next pickup lines, even though she had already turned him down for a date again, both during school and when she first started her work shift. Part of her wanted to go ahead and go on a date, then turn it into a disaster, but based on the fantasy images in Willie's mind, she wasn't even sure that would have worked. In any event, she wasn't sure she had the heart to abuse him that way. But she was running out of ideas on how to deal with it with mundane methods.

The next customer came up. Angelina entered the order in on autopilot, doing her best to try and ignore the sea of thoughts and emotions as they continuously flooded her mind. She sighed; throughout school the last few days, she was privy to every bit of gossip and rumors, both true and false. Just getting through the day, she again had to tap into Madelyn's mind to draw enough strength to maintain her sanity. Michael had admitted that he was at a loss with her telepathic powers, other than to suggest scheduling an appointment to an endocrinologist. Like I have the money for that. And even if I did, who could I trust to keep doctor-patient confidentiality under my circumstances?

Fortunately, the BurgerMart was its own building and not part of a mall food court, which meant fewer minds to deal with, which was about the only blessing her job offered her. Over the last couple days, her powers were making it more difficult to enjoy simple pleasures like eating. The same abilities that gave her an innate sense of molecules also made her aware of the chemical processes that went on inside people's bodies when they ate food. It was like watching an animated version of Upton Sinclair's novel "The Jungle". The mental imagery was causing her to lose her appetite, which was beginning to affect her health.

"Excuse me Miss?" the next customer said.

Angelina shook her head. "I'm sorry, welcome to BurgerMart, can I take your order?"

The man looked at her nametag and his eyes narrowed. "Yes, Angelina, is it?"

"I'm sorry, do I know you?"

The man shook his head. "No, just trying to be polite. Let's see... I'll have a number three medium combo with a Sprite, apple pie, and how about ten minutes of your time."

Angelina blinked then looked at the man more directly and tensed up. His mind's partially shielded, just like Mr. Halbert's. It would take some effort to get around it. Was he another member of the Project? She glanced around then listened for additional thoughts. No sign of any soldiers or government troops; he's probably alone. But what did he want? "Um... Mr. Cade?"

Gary Cade came over and looked at the situation. "Is there a problem sir?"

"No, no problem. I'd just like to have a brief private chat with your employee."

Gary smiled. You can look, but please don't touch, his thoughts said, which made Angelina roll her eyes. "Ah... I'm afraid we don't allow that kind of fraternization. It wouldn't be professional."

"I'm afraid you misunderstand Mr. Cade," the man said with a serious tone as he read the manager's nametag. "I'm here to discuss serious business with Angelina."

Gary's expression turned to one of concern. "What kind of business? Are you a cop or something? Is she in some kind of trouble?"

"Probably not, but I need to find out what she was doing a couple nights ago. As for who am I, the name's Rutherford McMiller."

Gary looked at the man with renewed respect. "The Rutherford McMiller? CEO of Nova Tech Corp?"

"The same. Now can I have a few minutes with Angelina? It's very important."

---

Rusty finished half his burger before taking a sip of soda. "Franchises were just terrible about making food taste the same from coast-to-coast. It just kills the incentive to travel and try food in different regions of the country. Don't you agree?"

Angelina blinked at the directed thought as Rusty silently congratulated himself for making her tip her hand so easily. "French fry?" he offered with a seemingly innocent smile.

"I see plenty of those all afternoon. Besides, you're not here to talk about food and travel," Angelina said softly as she looked downcast.

"Then what am I here to talk about? Normally, that's my cue to go ahead and tell you why I'm here, but I suspect you can already tell me that."

"You want to know if I was involved with the plot at the stadium."

"It probably would have paid a lot more than this place."

Angelina picked up a packet of ketchup, held it in her closed fingers, blew a puff into her fist, and then dropped the heavy yellow metal packet-shaped nugget in front of Rusty. "If I just wanted money, I wouldn't bother holding all those kids hostage."

Rusty looked the gold nugget over with intense interest. Jesus Christ... talk about the Midas Touch... he gasped to himself. Four to six ounces, he estimated, easily $2,200 or more. "Why on earth are you working here?"

Angelina shrugged. "Well, after I found out my parents were actually government agents who were murdered for not keeping me under their control, I'm kind of left with little choice if I want to support myself without resorting to cheating or stealing." She sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry; it's a long boring story. You probably didn't come all this way from New York to hear me unload my life's sob story on you."

Rusty looked at Angelina with quiet fascination. "I'd very much like to hear it."

Angelina paused. "Hold on, my friend Maddie's here."

"Hey Angie, you on your break?" Madelyn said as she walked into the restaurant. "Who's the hippie, another social worker?" "Not as good looking as the other one," she thought.

"No, nothing like that," Angelina said. "Mr. McMiller just wanted to know what happened at the stadium."

"Oh right... so, did Red Nova ever show up?" Madelyn asked frivolously.

"Maddie, meet Red Nova," Angelina said, gesturing at Rusty, who blanched slightly before regaining his composure. He made a mental note to talk to Angelina about being so blithe about secret identities.

"Get out..." Madelyn said with an impish expression, and then looked at Angelina's expression more carefully. "Oh God...he's here because I dissed his costume, isn't he?"

"It's got nothing to do with that." Rusty said. He then shrugged. "Besides, what's wrong with Red Nova's costume?"

"She thinks you need a cape," Angelina said quietly with a smile.

"Capes are, like, the thing to wear if you can, you know..." Madelyn said as she concluded by a sweeping expression of flight with her hand.

Rusty shook his head at the naivety. "Capes aren't always practical. In a fight, they get caught at the worst possible times. I even know at least one meta hero several years ago who got shot and killed because his cape got caught in a revolving door and he couldn't free himself."

"Eww... " Madelyn said with a wrinkled expression.

"Look Angelina, I'd very much like to talk about this further in private. When do you get off work?" Rusty asked.

"Another hour or so. I can't talk too long though. I've got a book report due tomorrow."

Rusty sighed sternly. "Maybe I'm not making myself clear. Angelina, I'm here to talk, but to put it bluntly, I also need to know what your motives are. Your book report can wait."

"Her motives?" Madelyn said. "She saved everyone at that game! What kind of motive are you looking for?"

Rusty turned to Madelyn. "Miss, I'm willing to listen to Angelina and give her the benefit of doubt. But there are some others who wouldn't. I really need her to come with me to discuss this matter in private."

Madelyn and Angelina looked at each other with mixed emotions. "Well, he did say you'd go with him," Madelyn said with a sotto voce.

Angelina sighed. It looked like there was no graceful way around it. "Can you take my books back home with you?"

"Sure. Go beat up a bank robber or something," Madelyn said with a wink.

---

"This way Agent Smith."

Jeffrey Smith retrieved his access card as the security personnel checked his biometric data. The Central Metahuman Facility was one of the very few prisons that had been hastily equipped to handle prisoners with superhuman capability. For most prisoners, it was a matter of keeping them isolated in extra-reinforced cells. A few however required around-the-clock surveillance and the threat of armed retaliation with heavy weapons to keep the prisoners in check. The expense of running this place was only one of the many consequences that the emergence of metahumans was having on society at large. But if the Project was successful, another way would soon be available, Smith told himself; one that would make better use of these living assets than just rotting in cells.

"Special Agent Smith, I'm Warden Farah," an older man introduced himself. "Not every day we get a visit from the FBI."

"Well, with so many children at risk by the incident, there's a lot of pressure to find out more about this case," Smith replied with feigned concern.

Farah motioned Smith through another set of security checkpoints. "We'll give you all the cooperation we can, but I'm not sure how much information the prisoners can provide. So far, all four of them have remained comatose. We've been able to keep them alive with intravenous feeding and hydration, but they haven't responded to any external stimuli."

"The Bureau believes that their ringleader turned on them when things started to go south. We're hoping that we can get one or more of them to flip in exchange for leniency."

The group of men came to a stop at the prison's medical wing. Smith looked through the observation glass with concern; if any of Onyx and his crew woke up, they could finger him as the man who sponsored the attack on the stadium. He was pretty confident that wouldn't happen though; after all, the word of a multiple felon against an agent of the FBI was a no-brainer. Even better, the Project had allies in the Bureau to ensure that his forged credentials would hold up to any challenge these malcontents could muster.

However, if things went according to plan, such unpleasantries wouldn't be necessary. The Project could use their special abilities and Smith was certain they would do anything to stay out of prison. Their scientific personnel hadn't planned on F67's telepathic sedation to be this long-lasting, but they were fairly certain that it would wear off eventually, given the proper stimulus. Once that happened, it was his job to quietly offer them a chance to even the score, if they were prepared to play ball with the big boys. With the right equipment and artificial genetic enhancements, Onyx and his group would make excellent raw material for the next phase of Project Mindshadow.