In the seconds it had taken her to deal with the blindfold, Marquis had trapped Lady Photon, binding her in a column of dense bone that had likely sprung around her from the floor or ceiling.

Once he gets a good amount of bone going, this power is really strong.

From the glow that was emanating through the barrier, she was apparently trying to use lasers to cut her way out.  She was strong enough to do it in one shot, but she couldn’t do that without risking shooting a teammate if the shot continued through.

Ahh, right.

That left Marquis to duel with Manpower, striking the hero over and over with a massive scythe of bone that extended out from his wrist.

Bones and scythes? Classic combination.

Not usually like this, though.

Manpower was strong, and he was durable thanks to his electromagnetic shield – sparks flew as the scythe hit home over and over.  Even so, the hero didn’t try to fight back.

Why? To avoid punching Marquis through a wall? Or maybe to avoid shattering more of the bones?

It took her only a moment to realize why.  Each swing of the scythe was calculated so that if the movement followed through, it would strike either the crippled Flashbang or Lightstar.

Oh! Devious.

Well, only in a sense.  They still hadn’t touched him, and two of their members were out of commission.  Three, if she counted Fleur being occupied with a wounded Lightstar in her arms.

I think I’ve decided. Fleur Delacour is the better fit so far.

But the fact remained that Marquis wasn’t pushing his advantage.  The way his power worked and his very personality meant he was exceptional when it came to turning one advantage into another.  Or turning one advantage into three.  It was in his very nature to trounce his enemies, to grind them into the ground without an iota of mercy or fair play.

Damn. So much for honor.

Was he distracted?

If he was, it was barely slowing him down.  She felt something clutch her from behind, covering her eyes.

s k e l e t o n   h a n d s


When she tried to tear it free, she found it hard, unyielding.

Is it a full bone covering?

She dropped into her ball form and then back into her human form, taking only a second to break free of the binding.  She caught the offending article in one hand before it could hit the ground.

It was a blindfold of solid bone, but it had been a skull of some sort beforehand.  Probably something that had sat on a bookshelf behind her.  Stupid to overlook it.

Neat trick on both sides!

“Seems like we should take every advantage we can,” Manpower said.

“If you’re talking purely about increasing your odds of victory, yes.  But should you?  No, you really shouldn’t.”

Trying to play the moral card here?

This isn’t his usual behavior, Brandish thought.  His power let him manipulate bone.  If it was his own, he could make it grow or shrink, reshape it and multiply it.   It made him, in many respects, a competent shapeshifter.

So if it’s not his, the power’s more limited?

His abilities with the bones of others were limited to a simple reshaping, and there was a nuance in that the longer his own bone was separated from his body, the less able he was to manipulate it.

That makes sense. After a certain time, it might be hard to justify it still being his bone to his power.

Parabiologically speaking, it may have to do with bacteria on/in his bones or something like that, which die after a while exposed to the air.

Every second he was wasting talking was a second that the bone splinters he’d spread over the area would be less useful to him.  He was putting himself at a disadvantage.

Clearly there’s something at stake that he cares about, hmm?

He’s going to burrow, Brandish thought.  He’d done it often enough in the past, disappearing underground the second he’d dropped out of sight, then attacking through the ground, floor or rooftop.

So what you’re telling me is that Marowak knows Dig.

“Careful!” she shouted.

Lady Photon spent the rest of the energy she’d gathered in her hands, spraying another spray of lasers at Marquis’ shield.

That makes it sound like she needs charging, like Purity or Battery.

Then, as they’d practiced, she prepared to use her forcefield to shield Flashbang, Fleur and Lightstar.  Brandish and Manpower could defend themselves.

I suppose Brandish could use the morph ball, and Manpower is, well, Manpower.

A barrier of bone plates erupted around one corner of the room, rising just in time to keep some of Lady Photon’s salvo from striking a closet door.  Marquis emerged from the floor a short distance away, driving a spike of bone up through the ground and then deconstructing it to reveal himself.

That probably looks pretty cool.

“What are you protecting?” Lady Photon asked.

*waves hand in air* Ooh, ooh, I know!

“I’d tell you, but you wouldn’t believe me.”  He glanced around, “I don’t suppose we could change venues?  I’ll be good if you are.”

“Let’s not wake up my daughter.”

Lightstar was the next to go down, as one splinter that had embedded in a bookshelf branched out to pierce his shoulder.  Fleur caught him before he could land on top of more of the bone needles.

Hmm. Do I joke about Fleur-de-Lis from MLP or Fleur Delacour from Harry Potter…

Brandish shifted her footing, and the slivers of bone that scattered the ground around her shifted, some reshaping into starbursts of ultrafine needle points, waiting for her to step on them.  She knew from experience that they would penetrate the soles of her boots.

It really seems like Marquis was the kind of villain you should probably try to fight from a range.

Lady Photon fired a spray of laser blasts in Marquis’ general direction, tearing into bookshelves, antique furniture and the rack of wine bottles.

Yeah, like, this is exactly what I’m talking about. His power is well suited for near combat and setting traps close by. These lasers and the like are the attacks you should probably be focusing on.

Marquis created a shield of bone to protect himself, expanding its dimensions until it was taller and wider than he was.

Even if he can do this.

To be fair, I suppose that would leave it all up to one or a few members of the team, with the rest being largely unable to act.

Manpower and Brandish charged.  They didn’t get two steps before Marquis turned himself into a sea urchin, bone spears no thicker than a needle extending out of every pore, some extending twelve or fifteen feet.

Pfft. Well, that’s certainly a tactic.

Brandish planted her heel on the ground to arrest her forward movement and activated her power.  In an instant, her body was condensed into a point, surrounded by a layered, spherical force field.  It meant she didn’t fall on her rear end, and she could pick a more appropriate posture as she snapped back into her human shape.

That’s a nice little trick with her morph ball power.

Manpower wasn’t so adroit.  He managed to stop himself, slamming one foot through the mahogany floor to give himself something to brace against, but it was too late to keep him from running into the spears of bone.


Shards snapped against his skin and went flying.

Better than them going in, at least.

Lady Photon opened her mouth to shout a warning, but it was too late.  Flashbang fell to one knee as a shard bounced off the ground near him, reshaping into a form that could slash across the top of his foot.

Ah, fuck, he doesn’t need to be connected to the pieces to control them, they just need to be his.

Brandish caught only a glimpse of the wound, primarily blood.  She didn’t see anything resembling bone, but Marquis apparently did.

Wait, can he control other people’s bones if he has line of sight?

There was a sound like firecrackers going off, and Flashbang screamed.

Yikes. How many bones just broke in there?

The needles retracted.  Marquis rolled his shoulders, as if loosening his muscles.  “Broke your foot?  How clumsy.”

Related to the way I feel about arrogance in fiction, I also have a love/hate relationship with characters who talk like this.

He’s toeing the line.

“Stand down,” Brandish ordered.

“Now why would I want to do that?”

So, who do we have here? Sounds like a prick.

It sounds like something Coil or Jack would say, but there are plenty others who might. Maybe Kaiser.

Marquis asked.

Oh! Ohhh. That makes sense, given who we just talked about.

Niiice. I’m down for this.

“I’ve won every time your team has challenged me, this situation isn’t so different.”

Are you sure? Because I have a major suspicion that this is the all-female challenge that got you arrested.

“You have nowhere to run.  We’ve got you where you live,” Manpower spoke.


So we’ve got “in his house” checked off, but not “all female”, unless Manpower has been hiding something from us. Did someone lie here? Except wasn’t it Dragon’s narration that told us about Marquis’ arrest?

“I have plenty of places to run,” Marquis replied, shrugging.  “It’s just a house, I won’t lose any sleep over leaving it behind.  It’s an expensive house, I’ll admit, but that little detail loses much of its meaning when you’re as ridiculously wealthy as I am.”


I do like Marquis, even if he is a bit of a prick.

The Brockton Bay Brigade closed in on the man who stood by his leather armchair, wearing a black silk bathrobe.  He held his ground.

Oh hey, I forgot about the old name.

“If you’ll allow me to finish my wine-” he started, bending down to reach for the wine glass that sat beside the armchair.

I have a strange relationship with arrogance in fiction. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. This is the former case.

That said, there may very well be a gun hidden somewhere near that wine glass.

“I’m not so optimistic,” Carol commented.  She sighed again.  “I would have liked to be part of that negotiation.”

“We didn’t know where you were.  But let’s not fight again.  The important thing is that Tattletale pointed us in the right direction.  We think we know where your daughters are.”

Fantastic. Thanks, Lisa! 🙂

Daughters?  Plural?

Carol couldn’t put a name to the feeling that had just sucker-punched her.

If you’re conflicted because you only want Victoria back, so help me cod…

“Give me thirty seconds to change,” she said, standing from her chair.

Time to move out! And… back to the past again? Or are we just skipping ahead to her going out to find her daughters?

Probably the former.

Meanwhile, in the present, what’s going on there?

There was a knock on the door.  She looked up.

It was Lady Photon.  Sarah.

Hiya, Photon Mom. Hopefully you’re feeling better in this time. 🙂

“What are you doing here?  I’ve been looking all over.”

Where’s “here”? Still the office?

“I needed a few minutes to myself to think.  Get grounded.”

Sounds like it. Maybe.

Lady Photon gave her a sympathetic look.  She hated that look.

“Why did you want me?”

“We found Tattletale.  In a fashion.  We made contact with her and struck a deal.”


Is Tattletale planning to help them find Amy and Victoria?

Carol didn’t like the sound of that, but she wouldn’t say that out loud.  It would bother her sister, start something.  “What was she asking and what was she offering?”

“She wanted a two-week ceasefire.  The Undersiders won’t give any heroes or civilians any trouble, and we ignore them in exchange.”

Oh, that’s interesting. Sounds like a good idea for the Undersiders, so they can conduct their sneaky business against Coil without heroic interference.

“That gives them time to consolidate, get a firmer hold on the city.”

“Maybe.  I talked to Miss Militia about it, and she doesn’t think they’ll accomplish anything meaningful in that span of time.  The Undersiders have their hands full with white supremacists and some leftover Merchants, the Protectorate and Wards aren’t part of the ceasefire and they’ll be putting pressure on the Undersiders as well.”

So it’s specifically with New Wave, then. Makes sense, I suppose, given that Carol has been looking for them.