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Better Living Through Chemistry [IC]


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Friday, January 13th

11:23 PM

It was cold on the rooftops. The weather crew had said that there would likely be snow over the MLK Day weekend, but Cannonade hoped that it would at least hold out until he was done patrolling. It wasn't that he minded the cold - ever since he'd come into his powers, it wasn't like it really affected him much. But the snow would be crap for his visibility, and while he could take a lot, he didn't want to risk the embarrassment of slipping on an icy patch and landing headfirst in an alley while trying to stop a crime.

So instead, he focused on the night. He'd grabbed a cup of coffee from the Dunkin' Donuts down the street, and was enjoying the few stars that were shining through the city lights when the yelling started.

"Help! Help me, please!"

He was on the ground in less than a second, running towards the source of the noise - College Row. Unlike the rest of Lincoln, made of old townhouses and brick and mortar apartment buildings, this block was made up of small, cottage-style houses that served as boarding houses for students at Freedom College. He soon found the source of the screams - a woman had run out of one of the houses, and was crouched over on the sidewalk, gasping for breath. Cannonade looked up to the house - he could see smoke building up in all the windows. A house fire, most likely.

"Who's inside?" he asked as he reached for the woman. She looked up at him, and Cannonade took a step back. The skin on her face was shifting like pizza dough, and her other arm, the one she was trying to use for support, was flopping like rubber. At first he thought she was melting, but then the skin on her face retracted, and the arm grew more solid.

Not melting. Stretching.

"Steve, Amy, Gary," she said, trying to hold it together, "and Ms. Johnson. Please, help me. There's something in that smoke --"

Her words were cut off as every window in the house exploded outwards in a shower of glass shards. Cannonade was in front of her before the glass touched the ground, taking the brunt of the shards as they crashed around him.

"Stay here. I'll get 'em out."

Why do I have that deja vu feeling...?

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Catalyst drove towards the smoke almost as soon as she saw it, which was pretty much immediately. Smoke was a big red flag anywhere, she was surprised there weren't any sirens blaring yet. The white van arrived up next to the building to get covered with the shattered glass coming down. Safely in the car hopped out of the car and took a good look at the smoke. It didn't look like fire smoke, and didn't smell like it either, she scanned the exterior with her infared, and it definitely wasn't hot enough to be a fire. The blast though, it had enough force to take out the windows, a smoke bomb wouldn't have enough power on it's own. So, an explosion of some sort that caused more smoke then fire.


She said it out loud as she pulled out her pistols from the drivers side and adjusted her mask. Smoke was no match for her goggles, so she ran into the building and started searching for the cause and any people shaped heat signitures on her infared.

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The infrared confirmed that there was no fire inside the building - the only signatures she had were five people. One was crouched down upstairs, as if trying to remain very, very still. Another was running down the stairs, while two were moving around one of the downstairs rooms. The fifth was approaching the same room as the two runners.

By the time Cannonade was in the house, the smoke had already started to thin a little. He still had to feel around in some areas, but at least he could find his way most of the time. He also realized the smoke was most definitely not from fire. He'd been in front of raging bonfires before - the incident with the fire elemental on the Boardwalk was one case - and this smoke didn't have that kind of pepper-like burn as the others. It was... cleaner, almost.

"Anyone in here?" he asked.

"Get away!" came the response from inside. A man's voice. Cannonade caught glimpses of him through the smoke - he was clad in pajama pants and a tank top. He had his hands over his eyes, like he was trying to block out some horrible sight; another shape, a shadow, moved through the smoke. "Please, you have to get out of here!"

"Yeah, well so do you," he said, reaching for the guy. He grabbed him by the arm and pulled back. "Come with me, and --"

The man's hand left his eye for one second... and Cannonade went flying up into the air, slamming into the timbers of the ceiling hard enough to fracture several. Before he could even process it, he was back on the ground, wincing in pain. He felt the other figure dance by him, and felt something wash over him - incredible, biting cold.

Looks like the girl out front wasn't the worst of them.

Meanwhile, Catalyst found herself face-to-face with the girl coming down the stairs. She was in just a bathrobe, but it looked like she'd been strongly affected by whatever was in the smoke - her skin was turning blue. She was bracing the bannister and looking down, like she was trying to be as careful as she could while running at top speed. She looked up at Catalyst, and Catalyst could see the lightning roiling in her eyes.

"Help me!" she yelled. "Please help me!"

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Catalyst put away her pistols in the hostler and absently pulled the edge of her blue rubber gloves as she walked over and put a hand on the girls shoulder,

"Easy now, calm down, you're okay."

She let out a breath,

"You're experiencing a sudden mutation, the potiential for mutations is much more common then most people think, but usually requires a trigger like a life threatening situation. Please, remain calm and tell me what has happened. The more I understand about the situation the better I can help you, and anybody else that may be affected."

She appeared calm, but only because goggles and a mask covered her worried expression. She was only lucky her gloves insulated her to an extent, but she would not fair well if she got a direct bolt from any unintentional discharge from this scared girl.

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"I... I was up studying for the new semester," the lightning girl said as sparks trailed onto the carpet, causing little patches of it to smolder. "I heard glass breaking downstairs, and... then the screaming started. I think it was Gary and Ms. Johnson - the landlady - they were downstairs, and... I tried to run, but the hall was full of smoke, and then my eyes started burning. I thought they were just tearing up, but... then I heard the lights exploding." The lights in her eyes began to flare as emotion seized her. "You have to help me. Please. I don't know how long I can hold it in."

Catalyst couldn't see much through the smoke, though she could see that it was thinning out pretty much everywhere - except in the den, where it hung dense and thick.

Meanwhile, in the dining room, the man who'd tossed Cannonade up like a rag doll was trying to keep his eyes on the floor... but even then, the wood was splintering under his glare. "Please," he said, "you don't want to be here. It's getting worse."

"Yeah, so better I'm here than some paramedic getting slammed about," he said. The young man looked up at that, and Cannonade immediately felt like someone had dropped an anvil in his pants. He struggled against the tide of gravity, pushing forward. "Look, it's your eyes, huh? There's gotta be something here we can wrap around 'em. I'll get you out of here, don't worry."

Cannonade was almost to the young man when the other figure - a woman in her early 40s, clad in bathrobe and slippers - tripped on something in the fog. She let out a sudden exhalation - and with it, a small blizzard. Cannonade was able to weather the storm, but the young man, lightly dressed as he was, was left still and shivering.

"Oh, no! Steve! I'm sorry, I'm --"

With every word the panicked woman said, the temperature dropped by 2 degrees. "Come with me, ma'am," Cannonade said, reaching for the woman -- but she danced out of his grip, and even then, he felt like he'd just dipped a toe in arctic waters. "You need help."

"Don't you think we know? Please, just get out! You could get hurt!"

"Better me than anyone else. At least I'm built for it."

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Catalyst glanced through the fog and saw there was more, but there was a problem in front of her she needed to address immediately,

"You're creating an excess discharge right, that you're trying to hold in. Follow me, we'll find a way to channel the excess."

She led the woman outside and found the nearest manhole a few feet away,


Walking over she kneeled down and pulled it up with a huff, she got out a flashlight and flickered it through,

"Alright all clear."

She placed the manhole back down then looked at the woman,

"Place your hands here and focus your energy on the manhole. The steel and concrete should conduct and insulate the lightning until it completely grounds out it's charge underground. Worse that can happen is a little charring of the metal in the sewer but there's no workers down there so you should be fine."

She took a couple of steps back to give the woman some room for any offshoots.

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The girl nodded to Catalyst, and let loose. A bolt of lightning surged into the steel leading into the sewer, potentially lethal electricity grounding harmlessly into the system. The light faded from her eyes, and she fell to her knees before the hole. "Good," she gasped. "I think... I'm good... for now."

Back in the house, Cannonade was taking steps to avoid the older woman with the air of frostbite about her. "Look, I'm pretty good with cold," he said. "I could probably hike through a snowstorm in my boxers. You, though, you look like you need some help." It was true; the cold the woman was giving off was palpable, and given how she was shivering, she was feeling it somewhere deep down. "You need some heat? I could light a fire for ya --"

"I've tried!" She pointed to the gas oven, which was covered in a fine rime of frost. "The fire just keeps going out! It won't stop! It just keeps getting -- "

As she flung her hands to show just how bad it was, a burst of superchilled air flung out from her fingers, hitting Cannonade right in the face. He shook it off, though his helmet now felt like a mini-fridge. As he blinked away the blast of cold, he noticed that the other guy was shaking off his frost-induced stupor, and trying to wrench his eyes open by reflex. Before he could, however, Cannonade was across the floor, wrapping his hands around his eyes.

"Look, I know this ain't the most sensitive thing," he said, "but I just need to make sure you're not going to rip anything up or down until we get something on you. Okay?"

The gravity controller nodded, and Cannonade started slowly working him through the rooms of the house, looking for something he could use to fashion a blindfold. This isn't gonna last forever, though. Where can I put him? I put him somewhere open and empty, he could fly off and come down the hard way. I put a roof over his head, he could bring it down on him. Maybe if I get one of those trampolines from the fire department...

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Catalyst smiled before running over to the van and grabbing something from the rack and a blanket. She drapped the blanket over the woman's shoulder,

"You should get out of the street. If you feel the build up increasing again you can run over to the manhole. That's my van over there, if you're thirsty or hungry there is a small fridge in the back with snacks and drinks. Don't touch anything else in though, alright."

She gave the woman a squeeze on the shoulder before she sprinted inside the building and up to the stairs. The figures of heat had moved, one mass was probably two, one holding the other still or something. Either way when she got on the scene she felt a shiver as the stairway got cold and she went through the door.

The scene wasn't welcoming but she could understand enough not to jump to conclusions. Anyway, the man holding the other man wasn't hurting him, just holding him, also he was wearing a strange helmet. Heroes usually have some strangeness like that to their costume. She approached slowly, didn't reach for her weapons, instead reached into her pocket and approached the man,

"He's had a sudden mutation right? Having trouble controlling his powers. I had something similar downstairs, but from the look of things I don't think he's going to calm down on his own, may I?"

She didn't wait for much of an answer, she held a small bottle of something and removed the top holding it under the carried person's nose. The fumes went up and hopefully put the person into a nice comfortable sleep.

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Cannonade tried his hardest to plug his nose while the woman in the tailored hazmat suit ran the pungent-smelling liquid under the student's nose. The student reeled at the first whiff, and once the liquid had time to breathe, he was sleeping like a baby. Cannonade released his grip on the sleeping man as he looked up into the woman's eyes. "Yeah," he said. "Looks like the building got hit. You ran into someone else, huh? Besides the rubber girl? She said there were four others. Must be one still upstairs --"

"I c-c-can't keep it in!"

Cannonade turned back towards the landlady. She looked like she was two steps away from becoming a popsicle. "P-please! H-h-help me!"

What the hell can I do? he thought. Do I look like Firebug? He tried to think back to when he was first getting used to his powers - the broken furniture, the holes in the walls, and so on. He still remembered when his breath had come in, and how he'd had to make sure to take tiny breaths a lot in order not to --

There we go. He looked back at the newcomer, judged that her suit was thick enough to withstand some cold, and turned back to the landlady. "Just let it go! Spread it as thin as you can!"

The landlady nodded -- or shivered, it wasn't like he could tell at this point -- and the temperature dropped twenty degrees. Whatever moisture was left in the apartment fell into thick snowflakes, blowing through at high speed. Cannonade could hardly see the landlady, and could barely hear anything over the sudden wind. But that didn't matter. He took in a deep breath, and let it out. There was a hurricane to fight the snowstorm, and the snowstorm lost. The snow collided in one big pile against the back wall, leaving just the landlady - who now looked a good deal warmer, but definitely not well off.

"B... better," she said, "but I can still f-feel it."

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She gave a sigh as the man relaxed in his arms. When the woman seemed like she needed an outlet and the man she had yet to fully idenitfy breathed in she decidely placed herself behind the large man when he blew the small snowstorm into the far wall.

"Alright, I didn't meet the rubber girl myself. My suggestion would that you take the boy outside for now."

Catalyst turned and faced the woman,

"You should go as well. I have a van out front, in the back is a coffee machine, perhaps making a nice brew of something warm to drink will help you settle the cold a little bit. Decaf is what I'd suggest, I've got five different flavors of bags, at least one of them is decaf I'm sure. Plus, a larger less confined area would be better for another expansive expression of your powers certainly couldn't hurt. You're not doing the buildings structure any favors with the rapid temperature change."

She scanned up higher with her infared to find a heat signiture on a higher floor,

"I'm Catalyst by the way. So, I'll go on ahead to take a look then."

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'Cannonade," he said. He looked back to the landlady, and then gestured to the door. "You heard her advice. Out to the van." Cannonade picked up the unconscious student one-handed, with the landlady following close behind. When he got outside, he found the stretching girl had settled on the lawn, and while she wasn't entirely in the right shape, she seemed appreciative that the others were out of the house. He tried to keep his eyes off the girl shooting lightning into a manhole -- If I stop to ask, do I really wanna stick around for the whole answer? -- and brought the others to the van.

He laid out the student on the least cluttered part of the floor, then started working the coffee pot. It took him a while to find the decaf, and it wasn't helping that he could feel the chill building behind him. Fortunately, the touch of snowflakes against the nape of his neck told him that the landlady - Ms. Johnson, the girl had picked up from the last example, and just decided to generate extremely localized blizzards rather than anything more damaging. Once the snow had settled down, he ran out with the cup of decaf and offered it to her.

"T-thank you," she said. She took a sip, and Cannonade could hear the crackle of liquid flash freezing. Still, enough of it had gone down on the first gulp that Ms. Johnson was sighing with some relief - though by now, she was more chewing the coffee than drinking it. "This is g-gonna affect my morning routine s-somewhat," she said.

"Don't worry," he said. He pulled out his cell phone and started dialing 911. "I'm sure the hospitals have gotta deal with cases like this all the time. They've probably got counselors who can help ya get this under control."

Meanwhile, upstairs the smoke was at its thinnest, barely vapors that didn't do anything to block sight. Not that Catalyst needed to worry about smoke thickness, anyway. She tracked the heat signature to a bedroom that looked like it had undergone improvised shelling. The bed was broken, the floor bore deep craters, and the ceiling was cracked and fractured in several places. In the middle of the room stood a muscular young man in boxers who was curled up in the fetal position. He was whispering to himself, almost a mantra.

"Don't move don't move don't move don't move..."

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Catalyst looked at the young man and approached slowly as she avoided tripping over the debree. It didn't take more then a second to realize what had happened, but it was still a delicate situation. She kneeled down a few feet away from him just out of arms lengh.

"You afraid sweetheart?"

She made her voice as sweet as she could manage, as she moved around to look him the eyes,

"That's alright, it is scary what's happened to you and the others in this building. But what your doing isn't going to help. No, we need to leave now. So can you stand up, I'm sure if your careful you want hurt anything else. Once we get outside, you can sit down, maybe have some coffee, then we can get you to people that can help."

She said that but there was a fundemental problem in the access force of his steps. Maybe if she could absorb the shock. Now that was an idea. Reaching into her pocket she switched her cartridge and shot across the floor in a line. With a little bit of pushing on her part it made a white foaming path from the center of the room to the door.

"Here we go then, this is called PB foam, it's a very rigid insulation foam. This is my own special blend, so it's even more rigid, and can take any impact you may cause while walking. So would you please stand up so we can go?"

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The student slowly worked himself to his feet, then tenderly stepped on the PB foam. It cracked instantly, and he went soaring up - but only half a foot. He came back down on another patch of foam, barely denting it this time. It was a matter of bunny hops the rest of the way, and Catalyst had to do some careful planning to make sure he could take the stairs without landing on his head. The vapor was starting to clear, growing so thin it was hard to tell it had been there in the first place. In a matter of minutes, he was out of the house, able to leap without fear of hitting his head on the ceiling.

Cannonade watched as the new guy cleared the street in a single bound. Yeah, I remember that, he thought, looking back to Catalyst. "I think that's it," he said. "Saw a lot of smoke when I came in. We got any idea what caused this?"

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She watched the young man push off getting some air and managing not to break anything like the street lamps or power lines. She turned towards Cannonade,

"I have several theories, none of which I can solidly support without evidence. The only certain thing is that this is not a natural occurance. Now that the building's empty, I'm going to do a proper search for the source. Could you be so kind as to keep an eye on everyone out here while I'm gone, at least until further help arrives."

She gave him a smile which was hidden by her mask as she headed into the building.

It was clear for most of the floors, but she found near the second one in the living room was in fact a canister. It took her a few seconds to look it over to have her eyebrows at the top of her head and a frown on her face. As well as a stray thought towards the fact that she was glad she was wearing a gas mask, the other thoughts though were much more focused on the word engraved, Nomotox. A company? Or was that the compound name. She was going to find out after she examined it properly, but not before she got a safe storage for it, she didn't care how little was in it, this was dangerous stuff, she wasn't going to take it out into the street without the cartridge secure. She ran down towards the street and headed towards her van looking through to find a proper storage container for the chemical.

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Catalyst was able to find a container under the lab table that was made specifically for preserving sublimated chemicals. She delicately placed the canister within, closed the lid, then activated the airtight seal. The box was clear, allowing for a cursory examination of the canister. It was somewhat dented, and definitely didn't look like it had come fresh from a medical supplies clinic. The thing looked like it had gotten plenty of use - proper sanitation, as there were no lasting stains, but definitely a heavy workout over the years.

When he had a moment, Cannonade leaned in and took a look at the canister. "Nometix," he said. "Why does that sound familiar...?"

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"Because it's a chemical company,"

She motioned for him to follow as she went into the small van. Sitting on the small stool she opened the laptop that was held down by a special case and clicked a few keys with relative quickness to do an internet search. She brought up the first article to come with Nometix which was about there most recent event,

"They were one of many companys unable to cope with the recession even after getting a bail out. So they filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the plant in Freedom closed immediately afterwards."

She spun towards him and pointed to that canister,

"That canister bearing that companies name contained and released a potent mutagen into a civilian structure. While any powers they got may of been latent mutations that may or may not of occured later and life, this trigger forced them into there current states. This supports a lot of theories I have been having since I first entered that building, and the company name supports a mean for this theory, the motive I can narrow down to a few possibilities, most likely though this was an experiment. A percise and planned experiment with what was to see the results of exposing unwilling human subjects to what was probably a previously untested mutagen. While we are fortunate that the other results of said experiment could of been more severe in concequences for those living there this outcome creates the fact that someone may now have the means to produce powerful metahumans with simple airation in an enclosed area."

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Oh, yeah, this is starting to sound real familiar. But where's the profit in it?

Cannonade heard the sirens approaching, and waited as the ambulances approached. These ones, unlike the usual Freedom City detail, shared the size and integrity of SWAT vans - they were often called out for power eruptions or other medical emergencies that required a wide variety of treatment, or protection from the potential "side effects." The paramedics got out, surveilled the various residents, and got to work. They'd apparently seen a lot like this. Six medics took the stretching woman to the van - two to man the stretcher, four to ensure the limbs didn't slip off and drag along the ground. The paramedics helped the others in soon after, taking care to address their conditions and minimize any possible damage.

"We can take them off to St. Aloysius for examination," said the lead paramedic to Cannonade. "Any idea what caused it?"

"Chemical weapon," he said. "I've got someone who can get a sample to you. She thinks it either triggered something that was already in 'em, or gave it to 'em flat-out."

"Latter's more likely," said the paramedic, "given that it hit everyone in the building. All five of them having the same latent meta condition is a bit much."

"Yeah, that's definitely not a good thing." He turned to Catalyst. "Guessing you know where this Nometix place is?"

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Catalyst looked at the paramedic before she picked up the canister,

"One moment, just got to get a sample to get a proper look at."

She opened the containment thing carefully, it was still smoking slightly so she just used a swab to get the condinsated chemical before closing it and handing it off. She set the swab on small piece of glass then looked over at Cannonade,

"Got an address and a GPS, and it has yet actually to be sold. So either the company itself is still using it, or there is a squatter using it as an outpost for his own experiments. Either way, we should end this quickly. Anyway, you think you can drive, I want a little bit to look at the mutagen up close and possibly see if I can't make a catalyst to change it into something harmless. Whoever did this likely has more, either for his own personal use or to possibly mass produce and sell. This sort of chemical agent would make a fortune on the black market."

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"Yeah, I can take the wheel," Cannonade said, hoping he really could with a rig like this. He slipped into the driver's seat; last time he'd driven was the road trip to Boston for his little brother's college tour. A van was something he hadn't exactly handled before -- but it can't be that different, can it?

He turned the car on, adjusted the seat for his bulk, and took to the road. He drove a bit below the legal limit, in case any of Catalyst's equipment was hypersensitive or her experiment required stable conditions. He thought about calling back to her - asking how long she'd been out heroing, how she'd gotten in the game, and all that small talk for when capes met for the first time. But as she was busy conducting experiments with a hazardous chemical, he kept his mouth shut and his eyes on the road. There was a time and a place for everything.

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Catalyst moved around got a few things running. Absolutely everything was nailed down, though a bit bumpy she could steady things just fine as she examined and wrote down observations about the mutagen with one hand.

"When did your powers appear anyway? Invunerability right? You aren't wearing armor, that shirts too tight to conceal a vest. Increased strengh too to explain the lunge capacity it took to blow away the snow storm. That's very impressive."

She spoke over the scribbling of her pencil, her mind focused but also curious about this Cannonade. She usually didn't get time to ask questions about those she worked with, they were always gone so fast once the work was done.

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Cannonade was pretty impressed by how quickly Catalyst had been able to deduce his powerset. The lungs probably had been a dead give away, though. "About..." He counted down the months in his head. "...a year and a half ago. A bit longer than that, now that I think about it."

Holy crap, has it really been that long? Weird how you lose track of this stuff...

"I gotta say, I understand where some of those guys were coming from. When my powers came in, it was kinda hard to keep it all under control. Lost more than a few couches in the first few days." He turned to Catalyst, studying her while she kept her eyes on the chemistry tables. "Guessing you're more of a self-made woman, huh."

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She didn't look up as she continued to jot down notes on the pad.

"I've only been around for a few months myself. As for being self made, I really can't be sure if that's the case. There are a lot of reasons and circumstances that have me doing the things I do. But yeah, I fronted for the van and everything."

Had to do something with the settlement money,

"Everything I had took a lot of testing as well, lots of working long nights to get the formula right and eventually making several batches of the same thing in different concentrations. Like my smoke paintballs, the original concentration can the span of a mile with this thick fog. It's a good thing it only lasts about a minute, otherwise someone might of gotten hurt when I first confirmed that."

She spun on the chair and pulled something from one of the cabnets not having to reach far in the closed space. She pulled out two or three bottles with various scientific name and started getting out other instruments,

"I feel very sorry for those four, they never chose this. Someone just decided to play Russian Roulette with their DNA, and we have yet to know the true scope of the damage. So many uncontrollable factors, it's why I'd hope this was only a trigger. A sudden change without pre-existing dormancy of mutation like this so many things could happen accidents, autoimmune diseases, excess stress on the structure alone could cause heart failure like many other substances known to create similar effects."

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Cannonade meditated on that. It was so easy to remember that his own powers had been custom-made, tailored to fit his grandfather's genome. Odds were any sort of "mass-produced" super serum might have resulted in complications somewhere down the line. He was starting to hope that Catalyst was right - that this mutagen had awakened something deep within the people in the boarding house, rather than just playing merry hell with their DNA in the hopes that it would do something wonderful. "Remember reading a theory somewhere," he said, "that there's that potential deep in everyone, which is why some of us get it from accidents, chemicals, or other kinda slip-ups. Mutants have just got it closer to the surface. 'Course, could be like those people who all think they're the reincarnation of Cleopatra."

Then again, what's worse? The idea that these guys were the first target... or that he had a bunch of "botches" that led to him getting it right? Let's just hope he was a lucky bastard and this is some kind of catalyst...

The van rounded the corner, and the deserted Nometix building loomed into sight as Cannonade pulled up on the block. "Looks like we're here," he said. "So, kick down the door? Or is surveillance more your thing?"

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"Theories are theories because no one is sure. It's possible though, like magic, like alternate dimensions, it's as of current science outside the scope of our understanding. Hopefully there'll be something definite someday, but for now, let's stop this whoever it is from conducting more genetic experiments."

Turning back to the desk she started to uncap the chemicals and measure out percise amounts,

"Anyway, we don't need much surveillance."

She put in some powdered stuff into a flask with a light liquid and pulled a hotplate out from under the desk, she turned it on and let it sit on it before looking over and tapping her goggles with a blue gloved finger.

"These are infared, I can scan the building for heat readings from the outside. But we have to wait until this is done, I'm going to load up my paintballs with the catalyst. If whoever's responsibles in there tries to do something like use it on themselves or anybody else I can stop it on the spot."

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Catalyst's infrared was able to pierce the walls of the building. It was clear that electricity was still running to the building; even though the lights weren't on outside, she could see the heat of klieg lights that were likely drawing power off of a hack to the grid. She picked up five heat signatures in the building. Four were stable, coming from individuals who were lying reclined above the floor, as if in hospital beds or on gurneys. The fifth was standing among them, walking back and forth. Judging by his posture and how he was moving, he was pushing something around.

"Sounds like a plan," Cannonade said. "Fewer people this thing screws up, the better."

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