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When the battle was done and the commandos defeated, Citizen floated out of the warehouse with his precious cargo tucked beneath one arm. "I've got it, guys!" He had both the truncated Erde-Tronik drive and the gold boxy storage medium from Earth-Prime in the same big black case. It would be up to he and Gina over the next few months, (probably as what would incidentally count as his graduation project) to integrate the Troniks together successfully but for now the backup was complete and the City of the Future (as he still sometimes thought of it, the very old motto that Tronik had kept even after the Exodus) was safe from the National Socialists. Assuming they got out there in time! "Wow!" He wasn't so focused as to not be impressed when he saw the battle with his own eyes; the smoking helicopters, the fleeing commando, the crack Nazi strike team that Young Freedom had taken apart with all of the skill and power of a master artist painting a portrait. "Nice, you guys," he said with a grin before disappearing into the Wonder Bus. "Now let me get the systems in here rebooted..."

As the lights inside the Bus came back on, the other machines came out, Rogue in the lead in a humanoid body that looked like a human woman cast in the featureless nude, like something from a German Expressionist movie. With no explanation for the new shape, she cast her gaze from the scene of the battle to the heroes, back and forth, and for the first time seemed almost uncertain. "You did this. All of this, when you could have taken your Sharl and that city and..." She opened and closed mechanical hands before saying, decisively, "All right. All right, maybe you're right. Maybe there is another way to prosecute our war against the National Socialists." The group of robots behind her, which did not include her Sharl (who was in that system his counterpart was carrying) startled at that, but Rogue pressed on. "If you can fight the Nazis like this, teach them _fear_ without destroying them all, maybe we can try it ourselves. At least once, anyway. But you'd better take the Ragnorak with you. If we're not going to prune the humans back, it'll just look bad if we have it in our possession."

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"Okay, we need to find a safe, secure place to put it, and then destroy it. It's too dangerous to keep around for long." Mali said.

She was relieved to hear her say all of that. Knowing that this world wouldn't suffer some sort of apocalyptic plague was a relief. Didn't mean bad things weren't coming, just not as bad.

Then she turned to the others. "Okay, now what do we do?" She said. She was just there to help, not in charge of either planning or acting.

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Kristin regarded Rogue with a flat look. The change of tone from the Tronikian leader was heartening, the mere fact that she had clearly been contemplating genocidal tactics just a few minutes ago made it hard to trust her. With a shrug the telekinetic turned her gaze towards the crates of Ragnarok. "Are we properly equipped to move this stuff though?" she asked with concern. "I mean, it should be safe enough but there could be some pretty awful consequences if something goes wrong."

She glanced around her friends as they gathered near the Wonderbus. "I can probably contain the stuff if something happens before we can get it disposed of, but 'probably' is an awful large risk if we're taking it to populated areas..."

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Wraith hummed to herself, clearly pleased with her 'hunting' of the Nazis - with how the fight had turned out in general! - but recognizing that there were far more important things at hand. "If you can be ready to contain any accidents or leaks, I believe Ghost Girl and I would be best for the actual moving of the canisters. I very much doubt it can harm either of us. Perhaps the Wonderbus has somewhere that dangerous chemicals and the like can be placed? This seems like something it would make sense for a vehicle like it to have."

She blinked her three eyes as something occurred to her, and sounded awfully amused for a moment. "...for a certain kind of 'chemicals', perhaps, anyway."

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"It's going to be stable enough to be moved," Koshiro pointed out, "The Nazis were the ones who packed it in the first place, and they weren't going to risk wiping themselves out with it. We've got room for all of it on the bus, and we'll tie it down and seal the doors on the room with tape and plastic bags to be on the safe side. Once we're back on Prime, we can hand it over to whoever can deal with it, but the sooner we take that stuff out of the fight, the better."

He nodded at Rogue. "You're making the right choice," he told the rebel leader. "We've met some of the people who are fighting for the non-digital resistance, and they seem like good people. We'll tell them about you, that you're all on the same side. If you've got a bunch of bioslaughter weapons around, they wouldn't trust you, no more'n you'd trust people who fought with huge magnets and computer viruses. But if you all can work together, you'll win the war without any of that crap," he predicted.

Turning to his own team, he addressed Mali. "Hey Tiger, think we can get the bus actually inside the facility? The less distance we have to hand-carry the stuff, the better."

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Ghost Girl didn't actually breath in any conventional sense, but she didn't let that stop her from heaving a sigh of relief when the local version of Rogue decided to forgo her genocidal trump card. The translucent blue specter shimmered into view without warning next to the Tronik resistance's leader, offering the gynoid-inhabiting artificial intelligence a sunny smile of approval. "I think you're making the right call!" she congratulated sincerely. "If you're not better than the people you're fighting, you're not really winning at all, right? I'll make sure to put in a good word for you with the Canadians!"

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Crimson Tiger nodded to Papercut. "Not a problem." She dashed back outside and hopped into the Wonderbus. A bit of maneuvering later, and she backed it up closer to the containers. She hopped back out of the Wonderbus.

"There, now the horrific chemicals can be safely disposed of, without killing anyone." This had turned out better than she hoped it would. She was sure that someone knew someone that could dispose of the containers without any great risk. Still, the longer the stuff was around, the more unease she felt about it.

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While loading incredibly toxic biological weapons hadn't been on anyone's agenda for the trip, it wasn't long before the big storage refrigerator in the Wonderbus (which Bigfoot never really had explained) was carrying enough crates of Ragnorak to kill -"Oh, I wouldn't let it break," was Rogue's breezy explanation when asked how many people the virus samples could potentially kill on Earth-Prime in the event of an accident. With her silvery thumb on her chin as she stood outside the Wonderbus, she said, "Otherwise I'd be tempted to keep a few vials here just as a precaution in case the local humans do prove troublesome. But if they are as trustworthy as you kids, and if they are as willing to work with us for what we are...I'm sure we won't need it. We have other emergency measures."

"Well...let's just hope it doesn't come to that," said Sharl a little awkwardly, stepping out of the Bus once Erde-Tronik was secure. "In the meantime, we'll get our people safely to our world, and get the two Troniks together." He took her hand and shook it firmly, then bowed in that awkward Tronik way from the shoulders. "Whatever happens," he promised her, "we survive. We are the city pulled from the burning planet. We will overcome, and we will survive. And some day, our Tronik and yours will live together under the same skies...far away from any of this."

She nodded at that, and bowed back. "Take your words seriously, Sharl," she went on, speaking in English as a gesture of trust for the non-robots all around her. "And all of you," she added with a look at the rest of the team. "Tens of millions of our people go with you. Don't let us down." Raising her voice, she added, "My people are going to move out to try and make contact with those anti-National Socialist warriors you spoke of. If you have any business in this area, now's the time!"

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Koshiro wasn't the best choice to do any of the driving or the carrying, but he'd been ideally suited to help with the packing. All the crates in the refrigerator were cushioned with sturdy paper balloons from floor to ceiling, leaving not an inch of space for them to so much as shift during transit. With that done, he'd laid paper maché strips along the door to seal it tight against any possible leakage, then scattered the floor in the room beyond with little paper men figures, his equivalent of terra cotta warriors, ready to come alive and fight off any threat. Only then had he been ready to call it safe enough for the moment.

Once outside the bus again, he looked to Sharl. "We've got the copy of Tronik, we've got the bioweapons, we've struck a blow for the rebellion, Ghost Girl is going to put out the word with the Canadian team... do we have any other business that needs doing before we get the hell out of here?"

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Flying ahead of the Wonderbus, Ghost Girl remained in full albeit translucent view, scanning the road ahead for signs of the Canadian guerrillas. Ultimately they spotted her first, one of the scouts waving her over from behind a snow drift and directing her to Rebecca Stone's ad hoc outpost nearby. "Whooo wants to make friends with an army of seriously cheesed off, Nazi-hating computer people in unstoppable robot war bodies? 'Cause I'm betting it's you guys!" the phantom announced with two enthusiastic thumbs up. More soberly, she advised the commanding officer in a lowered tone, "Just, y'know, make sure to be nice to them 'cause their boss lady will seriously melt your face off. She has not had a whole lot of reasons to be in a good mood lately."

Kimber frowned for a moment, regarding Stone, her brow furrowing in an uncharacteristic moment of reflection. "Boy, outrageous déjà vu. I guess alternate dimensions are like that!" Saluting smartly, she nodded to the present soldiers. "Good work, all of you, and good luck! I've got a really good feeling that things are going to start getting better now!"

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"I believe that once Ghost Girl is done speaking to the Canadians, we will be done." Wraith had returned to human form, and her disguise, looking no more comfortable in it than she had the first time around. She tugged at the material for the twentieth time, frowning at it.

"It may be best to return home as soon as we can - the faster we are able to get Tronik and Ragnarok into good hands, the less likely it is that something may go wrong. I....I do not like leaving this place the way it is now, but I do not think we would be able to do much about it ourselves."

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It wasn't until all the partings had been said and they were all on the Wonderbus that Sharl actually put his head down on the panel before him and started laughing. "We did it! I can't believe we did it! All these months of work, and we pulled it off!" He hugged everybody, well, except Kimber, and mostly just clapped Koshiro on the arm before he took his seat in the 'pilot's' section, leaving Mali to actually drive the bus proper. "Don't worry, I'll let Mali actually drive the thing," he joked, before flipping the glowing toggle switches that opened up the new dimensional gateway. "So long, Erde! Hello, Freedom City!"

But, of course, it wasn't quite that easy. The muddy Missouri field they'd left behind faded out, but was replaced not with Freedom City but with whirling blue and white ripples, coiling back and forth against each other, that were hard to look at directly for too long. Sharl didn't look too worried, "It's fine, guys, don't worry, it's just some dimensional interference as a result of mu-axis slipping!" he called cheerfully over the vibrations that were now shaking the Bus. "It just means we can't go directly back to Americanatech! We'll have to put down at the secondary launch site, which just happens to be..."

He pressed a few more buttons and with one last rippling rumble, the dimensional vortex around them collapsed. Outside the windows of the Bus were the very familiar confines of Freedom City, and one corner of it in particular: Claremont Academy! It was a quiet-looking Tuesday in the middle of January, the campus quiet and peaceful around them as the doors hissed open with the faint creak of old hydraulics.

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Mali took a moment to reflect on what she had done as the wonderbus arrived. Her shoulders slumped a bit as the stress hit again. That had been a bit rough, but they'd pulled it off. People had been helped, a world had been saved. With luck, things would be different now for Erde. She hoped that their actions would eventually lead to that world being freed from the tyranny of the Nazi regime.

"That was something." She said with a smile. "We did some good, saved some people. And we got our hands on an incredibly dangerous biological weapon that I seriously hope gets destroyed soon."

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"We better go straight to Summers," Koshiro pointed out. "The less time we're in charge of all this nasty, the better. He'll be able to get the super hazmat team or whatever to come in and toss it all into the sun. I'd rather do that than try a cross-town drive to ArcheTech. Who knows what even a fender bender might end up doing?" He checked his watch, compared it to the clock tower on the church beyond the school's walls. "Looks like it's about 9:30, so we should be able to catch him in his office and maybe still make the tail end of breakfast. Good deal." He climbed out of the Wonderbus and stretched, glad to be back on safe, boring Prime.

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Citizen led the way through the oddly quiet halls of the administration building to Summers' office, where the headmaster greeted all the students with a grim look on his face. "Come, sit down." Summers' office was quiet and secure as always, the intimidating presence of the man himself among bric-a-brac and the artifacts of a long life well spent cast among bookshelves the only thing that wasn't comforting about the room. "Tell me everything. I need to know all the details of your mission." For his part, Sharl left nothing out as he told the story, still securely holding the Erde-Tronik's storage unit on his lap as he spoke. He was obviously eager to get out of there and get back to Miss A's laboratory, but he was a good student and trusted his headmaster. He grew more and more uncomfortable as he spoke, acutely conscious of Summers' narrowing eyes as he spoke about bioweapons and recovered Erde electronic consciousnesses.

"Maybe we bent the rules a little, but all in all it worked out for the best. Glace's people are going to try peaceful coexistence with the humans of Erde, and if they do hook up with the Canadians Kimber met, they'll be in a good position to fight Nazis without taking on the entire human race. We saved twenty-five million, eight hundred thousand and fifty Tronikians, too, which is certainly none too shabby." He smiled, growing more and more nervous as Summers glared at him. "And we pulled out a big stockpile of bioweapons, which will save thousands of lives in the long run on that planet. It, uh, it really went well..." He suddenly wished Miss A was there, and tried to contact her even as he spoke to Summers. "Sir, is everything okay?"

"No, I'm afraid it isn't," said Summers, almost baring his teeth at Sharl. "You see, while you were away, I learned some very interesting information. It seems that there are _infiltrators_ active in this dimension and in Erde, posing as superheroes but actually working as agents of the _Terminus_. I happened to learn of a plot just this morning by one of their agents to smuggle a biological weapon and electronic warfare agents directly into this very school, brought to me by someone I trust more than my life." Suddenly, Summers reached beneath his desk and came out, whisper-quick, with a big, lethal-looking sci-fi raygun that he pointed right at the city in Sharl's lap. Sharl's eyes went wide and his muscles tense as he recognized a magnetic blaster! "I don't know how you replaced my student, monster," Summers rasped, "but we'll find out under interrogation. As for your stockpile of computer viruses there, we don't need them." His finger began to tighten on the trigger.

All at once, Sharl moved like lightning, passing right through the Tronik unit on his way up. It fell back onto the seat, protected by his body from the gun. His eyes wide with panic, he yelled "No!" He shoved his hand through Summers' weapon and further on, deep into the old man's midsection. There was suddenly a great crackle of electricity in the air as sparks erupted from Summers's eyes, and with the scent of burning meat and electronics, he fell lifelessly and bonelessly to the floor as alarms began to blare.

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Mali stared, and, for a moment, couldn't think, and couldn't act. Then, something in her brain clicked. She was still very, very worried, scared even, but she was able to perceive some things that seemed...off, especially about Mr. Summers' actions. Considering what happened, Sharl was not entirely to blame.

"Oh, geez, oh, god...oh god..." She said, standing up and holding her head between her hands. She looked down at the body. She smelled burnt flesh, but...not that burnt. He wasn't bleeding or leaking any fluids. It looked very weird for a dead body. Not that she was a major expert, but having seen recently dead quite recently, he looked much different.

"What if that wasn't the real Mr. Summers?" She said, her head snapping back up. "Look at the body! Something's wrong. We've all seen dead bodies recently. They bleed, burnt flesh stinks really bad. Something weird is going on here...""

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"Sharl, no!" Koshiro was a moment too late to stop the holographic student from electrocuting the venerable old hero, but Summers' smoldering corpse hadn't even hit the floor before Papercut had Citizen's projector in his hands. He'd had a chance to look at it a few times and knew the basics of how it worked, so it didn't take too much work to smash the buttons that would shut it down. He knew Sharl would probably be able to make his way into the projectors in the walls, but this bought them a moment of time anyway.

"What do you mean, not real?" he demanded of Mali, shoving the device in his pocket. "You think there's any way an imposter could just walk in here and nobody would notice and stop him? Who the hell else would he be?" Still, it made him think of how Sharl and Summers had both acted. It had seemed like Sharl was going for the gun, but his hand passed through... that didn't make any sense! Walking around the desk, Koshiro knelt next to the body, trying to suppress his gag reflex and get a closer look.

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"Oh marmalade! Oh no! Ohnonononono..." If Kimber had still needed to breath she would have certainly be hyperventilating. Instead she shot several feet into the air, arms flailing and pulling at her face in acute distress in turn. The poltergeist's mind raced with panic for several moments while Koshiro took decisive action and Sharl winked out of existence. Sharl, who'd just killed Headmaster Summers. Headmaster Summers was dead and Sharl had killed him! He was--! "...nonononnh-- no? Wait. He's not dead. I mean, he is, but he didn't die!" she blurted out, rushing downward and forward toward the prone form to get a close look. "I'm not sensing any death, and it just happened, there should be a whole... deathy thing. I don't know! Aaah, you guys, what's going on?!"

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"....I do not believe he smells right," Wraith observed, worry in her voice, dropping human form entirely and becoming something like an oversized canine with a flat, three-eyed face. "He smells like burnt...human meat, but it is too...thin, too....you do not have the words! English is not a very good language for describing things that humans cannot sense. It is like meat wrapped around...I do not know."

She was apparently set on finding out, though with no small hesitation - a long blade grew out of her shoulder, snaking down on a tendril to cut with extreme care - if not great practice - into Summers as she muttered something in an alien language. "I do not know that much about human anatomy," she admitted, trying to sound a lot more sure about what she was doing than she felt, "but I do not believe your insides are supposed to look like thi--"

She cut off, halfway through what she was doing and with blade and claw resting on - and in - their ex-headmaster, and snapped her head toward the door. "Someone is coming."

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Bewildered by the sudden change of tone from mission debriefing to... something else, Kristin stood open-mouthed and confused as first Mali and then Indira moved to attend the fallen headmaster - or whatever that was - and Kimber pointed out the surprising lack of death in the room. The realization that it probably wasn't really the headmaster that Sharl had killed came as a great relief.

Wraith's warning that someone was approaching snapped her out of her confusion and her defenses flickered into life around her as she turned towards the door. "Someone is playing us," she noted as she braced for a potential attack. "And apparently it's no secret that we really brought a busload of bio-weapon here. We really have to make sure we get that locked down tight as quick as we can!"

She glanced around her teammates quickly. "Then maybe find out what the hell just happened?"

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Suddenly, Citizen re-appeared. Not from the deactivated emitter, but from the little rotating holographic display on Summers' desk that had once held a picture of the Lor homeworld. Six inches tall, Sharl's appearance might have been comical under any other circumstances. "-my god! You guys!" he yelled, waving his little hands frantically. "That shouldn't have hurt a human! That shouldn't have done anything to him! That kind of electromagnetic charge would only have hurt a machine, I don't..." He raised his head and yelled as if to thin air, "Miss A! Miss A! Miss A!" His eyes widened as he did so, and he said, "She's not...she's not answering, but...I'm tapped into the city's network. This whole city is going crazy! Heroes are fighting each other, they're...some of them are murdering people," he said, hand briefly over his mouth. "Papercut, turn my emitter back on!" he said urgently. "I have to get Tronik and we have to get out of here! We can't risk them _or_ the bioweapon getting cracked open in whatever this is! I don't even know if this is the right universe. We can come back and-"

Suddenly, the lights in the room flickered and went out; only sunlight, the exit lights, and the illumination from Sharl's teeny projector illuminating the room. "We've got to get out of here and back to the Wonderbus, now!"

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Koshiro looked from the hallway to the six inch tall Sharl, back to his other teammates. "Something really screwed up is going on around here. Let's take the back way." He moved swiftly towards the large window and found it locked with one of the school's typical automated locks. Reaching into his pocket, he drew out a set of slim paper tools and went to work. It was a bit more touchy than usual, but after a few moments, the window popped obediently open.

"Everybody get out, meet back at the bus," he told the others as he scooped Tronik up off the chair. "Citizen, you can get there in a second over the wifi network, you stay back and create a distraction." Drawing a paper airplane from his pocket, he tossed it out the window and jumped after it, landing on it midair and bringing it up to window level. "C'mon, Mali!"

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Kristin swung around towards the doorway and raised her hand towards a heavy-looking bookcase. She reached out with her telekinesis to push it in front of the doorway - and nothing happened. Confused, she looked back and forth between the bookcase and her hand for a moment, then recognized the sensation - the block on her powers felt exactly like the dampening cuffs she had encountered in her first ever doom-room exercise.

"Guys, there's power nullifiers or something on in here," she called to her teammates with a hint of alarm in her tone. "I can't use my telekinesis! We really need to go.."

The diminutive Australian strode quickly to the window with nothing more than a raised eyebrow at Koshiro's lockpicking skills. Concerned about whether her flight would be affected she stepped onto the ledge and took a firm grip with her hands, then swung herself out and down to hang of it. A moment later she was enveloped in green, and breathed a sigh of relief as she floated back up to window-level.

"Indira, need a ride?" she asked as she hovered in place.

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Even with the power cut, it was easy to tell the plan had gone sideways when there was a distinct lack of roars, yells, or reactions to the electrical nets set in the hallways outside the door, or the trapped areas. They hadn't left the office yet. He knew full well two of the evildoers wouldn't stick around for incoming authorities, and he sure as hell knew that with the power nullifiers up they wouldn't have a hope in heck of blowing out through the walls...

"...they took the window." Crow murmured. "They took the window." He said a tad more heatedly, letting out a curse in Old Gaelic as he turned to the other two. "Take up ambush positions alpha and beta. Switch to comm channel zero-one-three-three-seven, and pray they come down your lanes. Yell if you need backup, we'll be there in a heartbeat. Stick to the plan, we all go home okay."

The problem was his teleportation was only good for short hops; and he needed a target to wind-walk to - something he remembered, something he...



Mathair na trocaire. Either he was never going to live this down, or it would be the crowning achievement of that evil leaf-infested son-of-a-maple. Crow seized one of the net-guns and checked it carefully, nodding with satisfaction as he looked at the others. They couldn't read his eyes under that mask, but truly shades of every plan that had gone wrong with the others were making his expression a mix of cautious and...worried. "...be careful. Both of you."

Then he was gone.


On the Claremont quad, there was a very particular tree. In this particular tree, there was a branch. On that particular branch, a very particular student had consistently ended up hanging upside-down from an ankle whenever something had gone wrong - usually with an experiment, but other times with even the most basic of teleportations. As such, that very particular branch held a very particular space in that very particular student's heart. And mind. And memory.

One moment the branch was empty, the next an ankle found itself suspended from there, an ankle attached to a leg which was attached to a body which had arms attached to it which were holding up a shiny metal object; a tube with a targeter on the end. Upside-down and suspended, Crow had a clear shot towards the faculty building, and he could see over the rigged green two of Young Freedom slipping out the window. Koshiro and Glow. Secondaries. Not under control. But there was a problem. A really big problem.

The sight of a friend of his in front of that window slowed him down, just an ace - he knew Glow. More than just from a dossier - he knew Kristin was good people. Good People - capitals required. These were her friends, weren't they? She was helping them - even if she didn't know what was going on. And she was right in the way.

She's a friend! She's on their side. She doesn't know what's going on! She saw Summers get aced! We have defenses out here, they can hold them back; find out if they're being played! We can't take that risk. I don't care!

Silent as a wraith he pulled that net-gun up and leveled it, exhaling once, twice, then pulling the trigger. Almost in slow-motion, he could see the puff of steam from the barrel, and a trio of heavy metal magnets spinning out in a small sparking ball. The net-ball shot forward at top speed, clearing the distance in a heartbeat and slipping in just under Kristin's arm - and then suddenly Glow was confronted by a sparking and fizzing net of solid steel mesh, electricity an ace from her nose separating her and Indira.

He exhaled a third time, grim satisfaction on his face. And vanished from sight again.

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Wraith saw the incoming net barely in time to yank her claw back inside the room before it hit the window. On the one hand, it was a net, and thus not much of a barrier; on the other, it was clearly electrified, and she didn't know how much power was running through it. She could try to slip through, but it'd hurt, and if there was someone lying in wait out there....

If she'd had a lip to bite, she would have bit it as she cast her gaze around the room and finally back at Kristin, Kimber, and Sharl. "Go," she said, backing away from the window and flowing out into something a little thinner and more agile. "Do not wait for me. If I do not show up in good time, leave without me; I will catch up or you can find me in the forest."

Rather than give anyone time to argue she took off toward the nearest air vent, liquid metal body disappearing into the darkness behind the grate.

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