When I turned to head downstairs, she followed.

I guess that means ‘thank you’.

Best you’re gonna get for now, yeah.

We were greeted by the others in the kitchen.  There was just enough time to grab and prepare our burgers before the others arrived.  Grue, Tattletale, Imp, Regent and Shatterbird.

One of these is not like the others.

They turned down the offer of food, and together, we ventured back upstairs.

There’s a lot of up and down those stairs today, huh.

Watch out for the stairs.

With everyone gathered in my headquarters, I handed out the costumes.  Like Bitch’s, the other costumes were in various stages of completion, primarily with minor details missing or askew.  I ate while the others tried it all on.

Aw, we’re not getting extended first reactions for them?

It’d take a while, maybe, but it’d be fun.

Lisa’s costume was virtually the same.  The complicated aspect had been maintaining the crisp differences in color without any bleeding of black into lavender or vice versa.  There’d also been the issue of getting the mask to fit her face well.  I’d accomplished the former by making the black and lavender pieces separately and attaching them to a gossamer-thin sub-layer when I was done.

Well, her costume was pretty neat to begin with, so I can’t complain.

We had the boys and Shatterbird turn away while Lisa and Aisha changed at one end of the room.  The mask was a failure, it didn’t sit right around the eyes, but I was left with an idea of what to do.

You could, of course, have sent them back down the stairs, or even up the stairs, but I suppose this works, and raises fewer questions from Rachel’s minions.

“Let’s not give her the opportunity.  Regent, how fast can you seize control?”

Wasn’t it very variant, like for example 15 minutes to four hours?

“A few hours.”

“Start now.”

were doing it man

were making this hapen

Regent headed off to get changed.

“That leaves our unexpected guest,” Coil said.  “Cherish.”

Yeah, how do you deal with her? I mentioned a cell earlier, but they didn’t know they’d be bringing her, so they wouldn’t be able to set one up customized for her, unless they set up for each member who might get captured (which would be a lot of overnight work).

Regent hadn’t yet escaped earshot.  He turned back to us.  “She’ll have a trap on her.  Small explosive looped around her neck with a lock and a deadman’s switch.”

Oh, right! That might be an issue.

“Thank you,” Coil said.  “Tattletale?  See to it at the first opportunity.”

“Not a problem.”

At least if they didn’t have miss all-knowing over here to solve it for them. 🙂

“Isn’t that like asking someone to not think of a blue elephant?  They’re going to think about a blue elephant.”


I told you she’s a good audience surrogate!

“I stress, only a small percentage of people experience enough stress that they undergo any physical change.”  The Doctor removed the stopper from the top of the vial and carefully handed it over, not letting go until she was sure Jamie had a firm grip.

were doing this man

Jamie held the vial for several long moments.  “Now?”

“When you’re ready.”

Jamie tossed it back like she’d seen people throw back shots of hard liquor.

were making this HAPEN

She coughed as it coated the inside of her throat, her saliva doing little to nothing to help it down.  The Doctor reached out, and Jamie handed her the vial.

Might be time to step back, Doc.

“Big man,” I called out, “You feel proud with that knife of yours?”

You should try giving him a basketball to show off with instead. It might turn out to be crazy what kind of dunks this guy has.

He turned towards me, “Fuck you!  I’m not scared of bugs.”

Oh, you should be.

Lung didn’t seem to be scared of bugs either, and look what that got him. A rotting crotch is what.

I stepped down from the back of the truck.  People backed away, but the man held his ground.  As I got closer, I saw how his eyes were too wide, and he chewed his lip like it was trying to get away from him.

Symptoms of drug use?

“You a member of the Merchants?” I asked.

“Fuck you!” he snarled.

Sounds like a yes to me.

She tackled me, keeping the fabric between us, and my baton slipped from my grasp as her weight slammed into the trunk of my body.


The cloth of her cloak caught on my right hand and face.  An angular arm with too many joints seized my right leg, another two latched onto my right arm and neck, respectively.

I wonder which arm will disappear if someone looks at her.

Her grip and proximity to me held the cloth in place, kept her obscured.  I was hefted high into the air with a speed that dizzied me.

Well, this ain’t good.

She dropped me, making me grunt as I landed.  Above me, my bugs touched her very human body.

Looks like someone’s looking again. Or did the cloak stop obscuring her?

I struggled to pull the cloth free, but it caught.  After a few seconds of ineffectually trying to remove the cloak from myself and see what was happening, I was almost frantic.  I brought my own bugs down on top of myself to get a better sense of what was happening.

Not the latter, at least.

What’s the benefit of putting her bugs on top of herself? Is she going to look through them?

Hooks.  The black fabric of the cloak was woven with black-painted hooks at regular intervals.  She’d worn that layer facing the outside.

Damn. The cloak isn’t just something she wears so she can hide herself like she just did, it’s specifically made to be hard and harmful to take off when she does that to you.

“You’re boring people, you know,” I heard Tattletale’s voice, and felt a fractional relief.  I focused on pulling the hooks free.

Ooh, go Tattle!

Not that many were caught on the fabric, but there were some caught on the textured exterior of my armor, others on the straps that held my armor in place, a couple in my hair. 

Good thing the armor covers all skin.