Breed Book 4, Part 49


“I’m telling you we have time to stop at Starbucks,” Ben said, stepping over the first in a line of concentric temporary barriers erected outside of the White House.

“No, remember, they had a bigoted barrista that called Mira ‘ISIS,’” Sonya said, doing a hand stand atop the barrier then landing on the other side on her feet. “We’re boycotting.”

“Then McDonalds. For flapjacks. Or did they say something offensive about Cris’ pancake ass?”

“I’m telling him you said that.”

“We don’t have time,” Rui interjected, rolling over the barrier, “because we don’t know when exactly Raif’s going to make his move. If we aren’t in place, all we’re going to do is show up looking like the second wave of an assault.”

“I’m not sure I usually completely understood what you go through with him,” Sonya said, stroking Rui’s arm.

“He’s not my babysitter,” Ben objected.

“And yet he’s constantly stuck cleaning out your drawers,” she replied. “Can a lady get a hand.” Rui and Ben exchanged a glance, grinned, then gave a very understated golf clap. “You two deserve each other.”

“I’m choosing to take that as a compliment,” Ben said. Rui bent down on one knee, laced his fingers and held them out to Sonya. “Sure, just because my shoulder’s eight inches higher than yours, I’m the one who has to get stepped on.”

“It’s also at least as broad as a staircase, if that helps.” Ben put out his hands as Sonya stepped first on Rui’s hands, then on Ben’s, and finally used his shoulder to roll over the top of the stacked barriers surrounding the White House. “You good here?”

“I’ll manage.”

“You remember enough of the plan?”

“I’ll get by. Take care.”

“You, too. Give me thirty alligators. I’m going to try something… strange.”

Ben nodded, and turned towards the barrier. He could feel eyes on him before he even heard the sounds of rustling cloth or the clinking of military gear as federal agents surrounded him. “On your knees, hands laced behind your head. You are being arrested for trespassing on federal property.”

Ben turned, slowly raising his arms. None of the men were wearing identifying insignia, or even recognizable uniforms. “I’m pretty sure this is a public sidewalk,” Ben said, “and that somewhere inside this pillow fort of a bunker is the People’s House.” The ground shook hard enough the circle of men around him lost their balance and fell. “Now,” he turned, and slashed his arms at the barrier, which crumbled as the earth beneath it shook violently.

Ben heard the clack of a safety sliding off behind him. “Would have swore that was more than thirty al-” the agent yelled as hot plasma struck his gun, and dropped it onto the pavement. Ben stepped through the hole in the barrier, then commenced shaking the ground until the entire thing crumbled behind him.

Rui landed beside him on the lawn, jogging to kill the last of his momentum. “So what was this strange thing you just had to do while feds tried to use me for target practice?” Ben asked.

“I turned gaseous, then shoved my atoms as far apart as I could. I was vapor, but also functionally invisible. Meant I didn’t have to go as far to take to the air without raising alarms, but coalescing enough to become a plasma was harder than I thought. Took an extra couple seconds.”

Sonya ran at them. “I think we’ve got their attention.” A string of Secret Service agents were running at them across the White House lawn.

“And our getaway?” Rui asked.

“Well, I can’t control my boomlets, just give them a rough timer before they go, so there was a degree of guesswork. But if my count is right-” the first of them exploded from underneath the lawn, knocking an agent onto his back amidst a shower of dirt and grass. “This isn’t going to seem kind in the moment, but,” she flung an explosive, with as fragile a field around it as she could. It landed beside the agent, and knocked him away, just as a larger explosion tore a foot-deep hole in the lawn where his face had been.

“Right,” Rui said. “Let’s scram, before things get too heavy.”

“McDonalds?” Ben asked.

“We can stop there,” Rui said. “But if Rox has to call us back in for support, we drop everything. Even if that means you don’t get to finish your pancakes.” “Duh,” Ben said. “That’s why they have the little to-go boxes.”

Breed Book 4, Part 48


“This kind of sucks,” Violet said, watching various supplies be carried out of the med tent. “I mean, I didn’t expect CHOP to live forever, but this is more whimper than- um, shit. Not to minimize the way we’ve lost some people. But you expect clashes with the cops lit dramatically with Molatovs and trash can fires, refracting around the fog from smoke grenades. Epic drama. Not anticlimactic notices from the city and the police to vacate before the skull-cracking starts.”

“Hey, a majority of the city council has already agreed to cut the SPD’s budget in half. That’s huge.”

“I guess,” Violet said thoughtfully. “But I wanted to thank you, both of you. It might have been better if we’d been able to catch the assholes involved in the shootings, but that the two of you chased them off was a close second- and already way more dangerous than I ever would have been comfortable asking you to be involved in. But you two have really helped, in ways I wasn’t sure a couple of out-of-towners would, you know?”

“Sure,” Demi said.

“I was kind of wondering if you might want to stick around. For a few days, at least, just make sure things really are going back to normal- relatively safe, I mean.” She tugged on her cloth face mask. “I get the feeling we’re a ways away from normal.”

“I think we would,” Demi said, “but we were staying here.” She pointed at the abandoned precinct building. “And with the cops retaking it, I don’t think they’d be keen on having roomies.”

“I could, uh, I could put you up in my place, just for a few nights. It’s nothing fancy- one of you would have to sleep on the couch, if that wouldn’t be a problem with Mai. I mean, if you don’t mind cuddling close, we might all fit on my queen, but.”

“Couch is fine,” Mayumi said.

“And you’re okay with us, uh,” Violet blushed. “I wouldn’t want to, um, intrude.”

“Oh,” Demi said, and stifled a laugh. “We are not- we’re just close friends.”

“Well,” Violet said, turning an even brighter red, “then I guess that changes the nature of my offer, a little. I mean, if you want to just lie side by side I can absolutely try to be a gentlewoman and keep my hands to myself, but I can’t promise not to drool on you. Oh. Crap. I meant that in a sexy way, not in a waking up in one of your grandmother’s slack-jawed dribble puddles. From the mouth! Oh my god,” she muttered, “I’m making this so much worse.” Then she stood bolt upright. “Oh. Ew. And I’m not saying you have to fool around with me to stay, either. That’s gross. God. I will just give you my keys,” she reached into her pocket, “and I’ll text you the address. If you need anything, I’ll be trying to hold onto a rock at the bottom of the river.” When Violet tried to hand Demi her keys, Demi caught her hand and held it. “Oh,” Violet said, and swallowed.

“It’s okay, Vi,” Demi said. “We’re all a little… worked up. It’s been a stressful few days, for everybody, and, at least so far, your flusteredness is more adorable than restraining-order worthy; and if you had been offering, it wouldn’t exactly be the first survival sex I’ve been offered. And I’m happy to stay, at least for a night. After that we can talk. And if Mayumi needs to leave before me, she can always take the car.”

“Think I’ll stay too,” Mayumi said. “Though I’m not much of a cuddler.”

“Not much of a lesbian, either,” Demi said. “Doesn’t often talk about men, but when you get enough of the right kinds of liquor in her, wow. The absolute pornography that drips from that woman’s mouth.” Mayumi stared death at her. “But it’s oddly beautiful, too; I swear, if I wasn’t already very bi, I would have been afterwards. It was the spoken word equivalent of a steamy sex scene.”

“I think that’s an experiment worth trying. I’ve got a moderately impressive- for a mostly poor community college girl- liquor collection, a lovingly used copy of Dirty Dancing– I think we could have a hell of a night. I have warm sake- crap, I hope that didn’t sound racist- I just like warm sake.”

Mayumi continued to glare, slowly turning it from Demi to Vi. “You monsters,” she muttered, before turning down the street.

“I hope I didn’t offend her,” Violet said.

“I don’t think so,” Demi said. “Last time she did that, she came back two hours later with a bottle of the most exquisite alcohol. The label was torn, and I think the bottom had a little dried blood on it. I couldn’t tell you if she bought it, or beat a man to death for-slash-with it, but whatever it was, wherever she got it, it was worth it.”

“You two really seem like the fun kind of weird.”

“You’re just saying that because you want into my pants.”

“They do seem like they’re some very fun pants. But seriously, there’s no pressure. If it’s just a platonic evening with friends, that’s totally fine. How do you feel about pizza?”

Demi rubbed her belly. “I’ve been known to eat more than I should.”


“Let me treat,” Demi said. “You’re already putting us up, and potentially sharing some of your booze. Just aim me at the best pizza that’s in our general path.”

“It’s a date.”

Breed Book 4, Part 47


“Okay, so, you want the good news?” Mahmoud asked.

“Bah,” Rui yelped, startled. “You’ve been so quiet and broody I forgot you were here.”

“I just thought he was planning to sew himself some Batman footy pajamas and go rid the night of low-level, poverty-centric crime, ignoring the good he could do with his billions of dollars to attack the systemic roots of same,” Ben said.

“That’s a little too close to home,” Rui said.

“Nah, man, I didn’t mean you. You’re rich by my standards, by which you could afford a fun size bag of Funions for every meal.”

“And the insulin ffor the diabetes inevitably following that diet,” Sonya added.

“I know,” Rui said. “I just like Batman.”

“Oh, sure.”

“Ahem,” Rox said. “And since I am clearly the only person in the room capable of answering deceptively simple but actually weighty questions, yes, I’ll take the good news first.”

“Raif is scrambling. Losing his gun, losing Mira, he had a meltdown. Their usual care and planning went out the window, so I was able to track them via their phones.”

“Or, alternately,” Anita said, “they didn’t think we had a technopath and weren’t being as cautious as we thought this whole time.”

“But wouldn’t the Feds have caught them?” Sonya asked. “Drump has been practically salivating at the prospect of setting up a gallows on the White House lawn- a guillotine would be too French- to execute the first proper Breed terrorist he could catch. I imagine he’d insist on pulling the lever himself.”

“Yeah, but they’re really bad at, well, everything,” Anita said. “The subtext of hiring the ‘best people’ was that the thing they would be best at was bringing the largest sacks of money to shove into the President’s trousers.”

“I may go into an asexual coma,” Rui said, shuddering. “All those white men, the President’s trousers, so many sacks…”

“It’s okay,” Ben soothed, rubbing his back, “just breathe through it.”

“Just keep going,” Rox said. “If we have to catch them up later we will.”

“Once I had their phones I could switch on their mics remotely- same shit the NSA does. And, well, I stored a recording in the cloud.” All of their phones began playing the message on speaker in unison.

“We don’t have the manpower,” a voice said on the recording. “Without Mira-”

“Well we don’t have her,” Raif said angrily. “Either the authorities have her, or her friends do. Either way, she’s off the board. But we can still make this work.”

“Not without mass casualties,” a woman piped in.

“That was her idea anyway,” Raif said, with a wave of his hand. “I always wanted to make a fucking statement, to wit: we’re the new dominant species.”

“Still,” the first voice broke back in, “with this timetable we can’t reconfigure-”

“We’re dumping the old timetable. The mission’s been compromised, and every second we give those little dropouts makes it more likely they find a way to screw us up. So we don’t give them that shot- we take ours. So everybody get some rest, because come the morning, we’re going to war with a man who declared war on us at the start of his fucking campaign.”

“Jesus,” Rui said.

“Yeah,” Rox said. “We’re going to have to try and sleep in shifts, difficult as that’s likely to end up being. Because in the morning we’re going to have to save someone who probably doesn’t deserve the effort.”

Breed Book 4, Part 46

Author’s Note: I think I’m moving now to a regular weekdays posting schedule, rather than 6 days a week. It was too hard to stay ahead of the updates; on the bright side, I now have an outline that carries through to the ending. Hopefully no further delays.


Ryan was practically glowing as he flipped through the channels on the television. “What did you do?” Stephen asked.

“What do you mean?”

“The last time I saw you this giddy was when you sent incriminating emails from a white supremacist to the authorities. So what did you do?”

“Okay, now, you’re going to laugh at at least part of this. You know I’ve gotten into K-Pop, right?” Stephen smiled. “Screw you. Anyway, through that fandom, I found out about… well, this.”

He stopped changing channels as a sad, defeated Drump walked from his helicopter towards camera. The man, his suit, his ‘hair’, every inch of him was dejected, deflated, and sullen. “So you made a bigot man unhappy. Sounds like a good use of your time and talents. That sounds, but isn’t, sarcastic; deserves at least a little golf clap.”

“It’s not just that. His team were crowing about a million ticket requests to his Tulsa rally- which shouldn’t have been happening anyway in the middle of a pandemic, right?”

“I don’t see the K-Pop connection,” Stephen said.

“I’m getting there. The fandom realized they were operating things entirely based around online reservations, and started gaming them. I brought on the technopaths on campus to help, and-” as if on cue, the chyron at the bottom of the screen stated that fewer than 2600 people attended the rally in the 20,000 seat venue.”

“Did you do that?”

“The chyron? No, that was just good timing. But the humbling of a short-sighted bigot? I helped.”

“Shit,” Stephen said.

“Yeah. Turns out, K-Pop isn’t just about great music- it’s got an awesome fandom. Without them, the rally probably would have been a success, or at least less of an unmitigated disaster. Want me to put some K-Pop on?”

“No,” Stephen said. “But I will make fun of you forty percent less for listening to it from now on.”

“Sounds like a win to me,” Ryan said, leaning back in his chair.

Breed Book 4, Part 45


“My favorite plans are the ones I don’t get a say in,” Rui said.

“You can have input into the plan,” Rox said. “But I’m taking the hemming and hawing off your plates. I promise you I get it; I think if it were just me I’d be having the same internal conversation. But it’s not. I have a responsibility to all of you. And we have a responsibility to every other kid who’s growing up like us, who may not be in a position to defend themselves when the shit storm hits if one of us kills a President- even one as monumentally stupid, ignorant, lazy and incompetent as this one.”

“You forgot gross,” Sonya added. “Not a fat-phobic thing, but his whole predatory vibe; he can’t even stop horn-dogging at his daughter in public.”

“And greedy,” Ben said.

“And cowardly,” Anita added.

“And delusional,” Cris said.

“And bigoted,” Rui said.

“I think that was covered in ‘ignorant,’” Rox said.

“I know, but I don’t think it covered the depth of his bigotry. He doesn’t dog-whistle; he puts his MLA to a dog’s ringpiece and screams through it at the top of his lungs. I’m sure it’s also some kind of animal cruelty.”

“The point here is that this isn’t going to come hardest down on adults who can defend themselves. It’s going to hit kids. There’s more Breed kids being born every day; the next generation will be at least double the size of ours. Which means there’s going to be even more of them in vulnerable situations. Besides, I think he’s going to lose in November, and that is going to rip open that hole he’s tried to fill with boasts about crowd size and tearing down the first black President’s legacy. His entire administration has been him trying to prove he was better than a black guy- the one who got reelected. It’ll break him, and no one deserves that ego blow as much as this guy.”

“What if he doesn’t?” Anita asked. “What if there are just enough crooked Republicans out there to rig it for him, and the Democrats cave, again, and let baby have the bottle he stole.”

“Even then,” Rox said, “there’s a difference between a very public execution by a Breed who wants the world to know we can take down Presidents, and Anita sneaking into the White House November 4th and making it look like a heart attack.”

“You’re joking, right?” Sonya asked.

“Merely noting there’s a difference, primarily in the safety of our people. In both cases, I have to use the talents and privilege I have to stand up for people who can’t, for whatever reason. But we also have a duty, to the next generation, to be an example of how to make it in this world. If we can, we’ll leave them a better world, but if we can’t, we at least have to show them how they can leave one for the generation after them.”

“I’m still not sure I like it,” Anita said.

“November 5th work better with your schedule?” Sonya asked.

“I mean that separating him from his guard, that opens up new chinks in their armor to exploit, and puts all of our eggs in the one basket.”

“Maybe,” Rox agreed. “But they aren’t going to work with us. If we had weeks, maybe months, we could do a softer approach, prove that we could breach their security and then try to convince them that we want to strengthen it. But we don’t have the time. We don’t know when Raif’s plan is going down, just that it’s soon. Even without Mira, I think he’ll plow ahead. But that means improvisation, and desperation. That means his people are going to be angrier, and we need to be extra careful. And we don’t have to remove the Secret Service, we just need to be able to operate independent of them. Because I get the feeling they’re not going to get the nuance that some of us are on their side. The absolute last thing we want is to be caught between them and Raif, with both sides shooting at us.”

Breed Book 4, Part 44


“Fox news has obtained exclusive footage of an attempted Breed terrorist break-out at Gauntanamo,” said a doughy man, barely audible over the volume of his bow-tie. In a shaky phone video, Rui could be seen strafing overhead, setting buildings on fire. The focus shifted jerkily to Ben, who knocked down a prison wall, causing mostly brown men to scurry out of a building. “Anonymous sources claim no terrorists were released as a part of this action, and further claimed that all of the Breed terrorists, a phrase which to this reporter, feels redundant, were all either captured or killed in the assault. Officials at the Pentagon and White House refused to comment on the basis of national security.”

“Pucker Carlson can exclusively eat dicks,” Drake said. “In fact, that might explain his disposition.”

“Okay, but what does any of that tell you?” Mikaela asked.

“That Fox news somehow gets more bigoted and cranky with every passing day in parallel with their target demo?” Iago asked.

“That Fox’s elderly viewership must be getting easier to fool in direct correlation with how intellectually lazy and sloppy they get?” Tucker asked.

“I think I could bag on them all day,” Drake said, “but suspect you had a real point.”

“Yep. Release of a shaky hand-shot footage means that this wasn’t an official release; the government wanted to keep it quiet. They probably knew it was a loser- at best they look incompetent for the break-in succeeding. Two, we know nobody died, so whoever leaked this knew that the story was a dog, and had to spice it up by making the military response look more capable.”

“Then why release anything?” Iago asked.

“Because they’re just that bigoted,” Tucker said. “They got their butts handed to them by people their Dear Leader told them are their inferiors. They couldn’t prove their worth, so they need to use the story to stick it to us, instead.”

“You sound pretty damn sure.”

“I’m not reading any minds from half a world away. But I’ve known the type. It doesn’t matter if it’s rational. Their fragile ego demands satisfaction, even if it’s them who ends up bleeding for it.”

“This could get people killed,” Mikaela said.

“That’s always the hope, isn’t it?” Tucker asked. “It’s stochastic terrorism. The more hate they pump into the atmosphere, the more likely someone will take them seriously and attack a pizza parlor for harboring a pedophile ring, or attack women for having the audacity not to date literally any incel who pisses on her shoes, or shoot up a campus for Breed students for existing. And it doesn’t matter if it’s not one-to-one, either, in fact, that’s preferable. That way right-wing nutjobs can incite random violence as a business model on Fox, without ever being tied to any particular incident. But the fear for those of us who are on their radar is real, and persistent. They get to use fear as a weapon, but get to deny it as polite discourse.”

“You sound kind of like you want to burn down a news station.”

“Only one? I guess I’m better at hiding my anger than I realized.”

Breed Book 4, Part 43


“Oh, fuck my head,” Cris said, groaning on the couch.

“That is exactly what it feels like,” Sonya said. “Did somebody fuck my head last night? And just skip the foreplay, gentility or even a pretense of civility.”

“You have no idea how many of my buttons you’re pushing right now,” Anita said without removing her face from the seat of a recliner. “Most prominently the one marked ‘blinding white-hot migraine.’”

“Close,” Laren said, stretching in the doorway, her skin glistening under a dewy layer of perspiration, “but I think the culprit was grain alcohol.”

“Would someone put me out of my misery and shoot her?” Anita asked.

“Okay,” Rui said, groaning, “I get why she isn’t hung-over,” he pointed at Rox (or at least one of her) as she walked in behind Laren, “even if I kind of hate her in this moment. But you had nearly as much to drink as Tso. And I’m pretty sure even half of what he did to that poor, unsuspecting toilet violated the Geneva Conventions.”

“I hate myself for asking,” Sonya said, preemptively wincing, “but you’re bifurcating based on orifices, aren’t you…”

“I’m more preoccupied with the fact that not only did they escape last night unscathed, but they went for a run this morning,” Cris said. “By the way, I can help with hangovers. Upset stomachs will have to wait until I’ve got something non-fermented in my stomach, first.”

“But I have rumblies in my tumblies,” Ben said, though it was hard to make out over the gurgling in his belly.

“Rui,” Rox said, clapping to a chorus of groans, “get Ben back in the bathroom, or you’re going to have to help him burn his underwear.”

“I can’t imagine why I would have dreamed it, so I think we did that last night already- though I can’t remember why,” Rui managed to get to his feet, swaying noticeably.

“Cris, your first job this morning is getting everyone fighting fit. We’re going to war this morning, every last one of us. Because fuck the entire concept of a moral taint, and Tso I swear to god if you chortle-”

“Heh,” Ben chuckled to himself, “immoral taint.”

“Why did I invite that on us? Anyway, we’re not wimpy philosophers. We eat moral quandaries for breakfast, but also bagels, which we grabbed on our run.” She lifted a small bag for emphasis. “To wit: this is only a conundrum if you focus on our culpability, whether or not we need to feel bad about ourselves. Well, we’re already a dangerously self-loathing bunch, so I’m less worried, there. The rest of us, though? All the poor fucking kids back at the school, or the even less fortunate ones who haven’t made it there yet, or even can’t? If we let this shit happen, it hurts them, maybe in ways it will take their entire lifetimes to walk back.

“But beyond the fact that I know you’re all tough enough to handle the difficult question: you don’t have to. Because I am dictating. It’s the right thing to do, for the most fucked up of reasons- because it will make life harder for our friends and families if we don’t. But I’m taking it out of your hands. I’m telling you to suck it up and do it. Blame me for it if you need to- hate me for it even. But know that we’re helping a lot of people who couldn’t help themselves. Even if, given half the chance, I’d light the bigoted prick on fire myself.”

“What does being given half a chance to light someone on fire look like?” Ben wondered aloud, leaning so far on Rui’s shoulder they both looked ready to topple.

“I think them falling asleep when you’ve got ready access to matches and maybe lighter fluid,” Sonya offered.

“What if we feel really strongly about not helping?” Rui asked.

“You leave,” Rox said. “Maybe even join Raif. But I don’t think any of you will do that. Because you know I’m right. And even if you can’t know, completely, you know it’s better to think I could be, and have that cover, than to place that kind of bet without it.”

Breed Book 4, Part 42


“Fuck statues,” Mayumi said.

“This is going to be one of those conversations where I’m stuck being the white person, isn’t it?” Demi asked.

“Aren’t you always a white person?”

“Yeah, but sometimes I get stuck being the token white person. Which sucks, given that I’m a Breed like you, too, subject to the same discrimination. When those assholes stormed the campus with guns, they’d have shot me as readily as any of you. Okay… probably they’d have shot not-white-passing minorities first, because of compounding bigotries, but you know what I mean.”

“I do. I take it from your reaction you think statues are a loaded topic.”

“Isn’t everything these days? But really, I just… I like statues. There’s something to their use in art and architecture that speaks to me, on a primal level. I’m not saying I’m for keeping around monuments to Confederates or Nazis or eugenecists or whatever. I think whether or not we tear down the ones to slave owners who were also pivotal national figures is probably a longer conversation, but also likely an evolving one. Like, I’m from Washington state, originally, the eastern side, outside Walla Walla. At some point we may well have to decide to rename the state, because, while Washington did some good things in his life, he had slaves- he had slaves’ teeth. There’s a rot, at the sole of our nation’s founding, and I get that we might have to core out some things we might actually miss before we can truly heal from that.”

“Then what’s the problem, since you seem to be arguing both sides at this point?”

“I think what it comes down to is our history is complicated, because our history makers were complicated. Jefferson, Washington- if it were as simple as tossing the ones who were problematic, that might be one thing, but with that approach eventually our history would be just as incomplete as Washington’s smile without stolen teeth. And ultimately I’m not sure how that should work. Because we can’t just pare back our history until it’s beautiful and idyllic; that would be erasing hundreds of years of pain that is, frankly, not ours to forgive or forget. I mean, fuck Confederates, and their racist-baiting, ahistorical participation trophy monuments. Tear those down, today, no question. But there are more complicated conversations to be had about the rest, and how we handle it, and I don’t feel bad for acknowledging that.”

“I agree, history is complicated,” Mayumi began. “But statues aren’t complicated. They are a celebration, a commemoration; we can keep our complicated past without putting those figures literally up on a pedestal. I was born in Japan. Raised… somewhat internationally, but that was home for a long time. And we had a complicated history, too. We did things to the Chinese that would make some Nazis blush, and all too often our way of dealing with it was pretending like it didn’t happen. But it did- I know because that ‘research’ was built on in what they eventually did to me; that fucked me up, for a long time. The only way to deal with a complicated history is to accept its complications, and what those imply about you, and your country, and everything else you think you know about the world. It sucks, it hurts, but it’s the only right way forward.”

“I don’t know,” Demi said.

“Okay, think about it this way. The public square belongs to everyone, right?”


“Now, let’s say the Italians and Greeks in Bellingham band together to sponsor a stature for a public park of Hercules. Hercules was a hero, of course, but also a rapist, on a truly mythic scale. Now, someone who was assaulted might be hurt by them being allowed to put up a statue celebrating a rapist, right? I hope it doesn’t feel like I’m weaponizing your past, because I promise that’s the farthest from what I want to be doing.”

“It’s okay,” Demi said gently. “And I take your point. The public square has to be for everyone; we can’t pick and choose who should just suck it up, or it’s not really a public space- it’s a public space for the privileged and the few.”

”Right. Of course, there’s a complication. Because there’s people who even to this day would object to a statue to Martin Luther King, Jr. – racists, mostly, but they exist. John McCain voted against an MLK holiday not that long ago- and remember he was a relative moderate in his party. And you’re right. For some of these complicated figures, it’s a conversation, and not a simple one. King can’t be where we draw the line on statues, or there will be only statues of him. But to finally give context to what I blurted out at the beginning, if it comes down to a person not feeling welcome in a public space because of who they are, and tearing down a monument to an old, dead, white person whose bigotry is no longer acceptable- fuck the statue. I side with the living, feeling person every time.” “Oh. Well, yeah. When you put it like that, yeah. I don’t like statues enough to want anyone to suffer for them- and the kind of person who does is the last person who should be making that decision. Fuck statues, and fuck anyone who cares more about an image in bronze or stone than a flesh and blood person.”

Breed Book 4, Part 41


“She won’t tell us anything?” Cris asked.

“Only that she won’t tell us anything,” Sonya said with a shrug.

“This is a real big fucking problem,” Laren said.

“I know,” Anita said sloppily. “You’ve barely touched your Mai Tai.”

Laren jabbed it three times. “Happy?”

“That is the most you’ve turned me on since I met you,” Anita said.

“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time. I’ve heard through channels that they’re panicking. They can feel the election slipping through their grasp by normal means, so they’re pushing for less conventional solutions. The kind that are really bad for democracy, liberty, and all of you.”

“They’ve agreed to my armistice plan?” Ben asked. “The one where instead of forty acres and a mule we get forty acres of chili dogs?”

“That would be really bad for all of us,” Cris agreed. “Really bad for the cholesterol, in particular.”

“Somehow worse,” Laren said. “A grab bag of feds are going to be deployed to put a stop to the BLM protests; you may have heard about their test-run in Washington already. The plan is to have them wear nondescript uniforms with no identifying marks whatsoever, so they have extreme deniability- up to and including denying feds were ever even there. Using privately purchased armor and gear, so even that can’t give them away.”

“And leaving the door open for non-government militia types to cosplay as feds,” Rox said, as the true horror of the idea dawned on her. “Protestors won’t know the difference, won’t have a chance in hell of fingering either the cop or the supremacist responsible for violence. This is a license for fascism, given to fed and neo-nazi alike.”

“That’s pretty much the sum of it,” Laren said.

“Anything that can be done?” Rui asked.

“Pray? Plan B is, of course, do nothing.”

“I know I tend to be the slow man, here, but I don’t think doing nothing has gotten us much traction,” Ben said.

“She means it literally,” Anita said. “As in don’t stop Raif. Let him kill a President.”

“I don’t think you have nearly enough Mai Tai for this conversation,” Ben said.

“Exactly how much liquor do you think you need to get drunk?” Anita asked.

“I think he recognizes, correctly, that we’re going to need a hell of a lot more if we’re really thinking about what it sounds like we’re thinking about.”

“No,” Cris said. “We aren’t thinking about it.”

“That’s one vote against,” Rui said. “Anyone else want to wade prematurely into this quagmire?”

“I’m not laying out moral absolutism,” Cris said. “I’m saying I’ve known all of you for too long to think this is seriously on the table. But if you’re going to force me to, fine, I’ll quote at you: ‘The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’”

“Yeah, but that quote is at best sexist,” Sonya said.

“Actually, John Stewart Mill was pretty feminist; in the 19th century he talked about how women were essentially slaves- and was also an abolitionist.”

“But what if both are evil?” Rui asked. “If refusing to act, and allowing something evil to happen to an evil man is wrong, but so is helping him, in the knowledge he will use his continued existence to mete out continued harm to others, including innocent people… what is the right thing to do?”

“Drink,” Rox said.

“If we drink every time Rui says something straddling the line between wise and up his own ass, we’re all dying of alcohol poisoning,” Sonya said. “Tonight.”

“No. I mean, for tonight, we drink. Tomorrow, everyone decides for themselves. We can do a secret ballot, we can just show or don’t. I don’t think I can dictate how we do this. But it needs to be done, whatever the outcome. But for tonight? I know I for one need to stop being so goddamned sober, or the weight of all of this is going to crush me.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Laren said, and downed her Mai Tai in two quick gulps.

“Second time,” Anita said, “and this blows away the first.”

“Am I going to have to mace you?”

“Only if we’re skipping the foreplay,” Anita said, punctuating it with two quick pumps of her eyebrows.

Breed Book 4, Part 40


“The trench coat was a stupid idea,” Mayumi said.

“It matches my fedora,” Demi said, dipping it at the shorter woman.

“Also stupid.”

“It also does this,” Demi spun in a circle, trailing the coat in her wake.

“Wow,” Mayumi said. “Now I’m sold.”


“No. Now I’m beginning to think you’re stupid.”

Without warning, rain began to pound down on them from the perpetually dark sky.

“Not so stupid now,” she said, flipping up her collar to help direct the rain from the brim of her hat down the outside of the coat.

Mayumi removed a small umbrella from a belt loop, extended it then held it over her head; it handily caught the rain and directed it away from her. “Plus,” she said, taking a breath, “mine cost a lot less, is far less conspicuous, and won’t make it all but impossible to defend myself if we get attacked.”

Demi scowled. “You used to be fun.”

“That is a filthy assault on my character and I will not have it. I bite my thumb at you.”

“Okay, that’s a pretty fun response. I can’t stay mad at you.”

“Especially not when we have an emergency to respond to,” Mayumi said.

“How-” Demi stopped, as her phone started to buzz, “did you do that?”

“I grew a new organ that’s sensitive to EMF changes.”

“You did that while I was picking out a trench coat, didn’t you?”

“Most of it. Some of it bled over into us eating hot dogs.”

“Maybe I am wasting my life.”

“The message?”

“Right. It’s a map. And I’m just now realizing I don’t know Seattle. At all.”

“Here,” Mayumi said, taking her phone. “I… may have run an op or two out of Seattle.”

“I hate how much more effortlessly cooler than me you are,” Demi said.

“Now you see why I don’t need a trench coat. Come on. It’s moving. We need to run.”

Mayumi started sprinting. Demi was struggling, trying to keep hold of both her coat and her hat, then flung both to the wind and chased after her. “Not a word,” Demi said, as she matched Mayumi’s speed. “Though I bet that looked cool.”

“There,” Mayumi said, hydroplaning to a stop.

“Wait,” Demi said, trying to come to a rest beside her, skidding over a curb and landing in a large puddle at the edge of a street. “You know, even though I was already soaked, that still sucked.”

“That black car,” Mayumi said.

“The one that looks worryingly like an undercover police car?”

“It’s a Crown Victoria, yeah,” Mayumi said. “Regular plate, though; not that long ago Washington got wise to the fact that having a plate that didn’t need tags gave the game away. But they’re accelerating. Can you stop them?”

“This is a shit-load of water and a not completely empty street between us and them.”

“It’s a yes or no question,” Mayumi said.

“I like to think of it as pass/fail.” Demi clawed at the air, and electricity leaped from a powerline above the car through its engine block.

“Holy shit,” Mayumi said.

“I guess, to answer your question as asked, no, I couldn’t hit it from here. But I didn’t have to.”

“Wasn’t what I was holy shitting,” Mayumi said, showing her the map. “Their cell disrupter is down. And we’ve got wifi. Here.” Mayumi tossed her back their phone. “I’m going to try and keep them from getting away.”

“But didn’t I-” the car squealed loudly from a block away, but the engine restarted. “Shit.”

“Call the cops,” Mayumi called, barely audible over the torrent of rain.

“Yeah, yeah,” Demi said, slowing down enough to dial the phone.

“911,” the dispatcher began, “what’s the nature of your emergency?”

“I just saw a black Crown Vic that I think was part of the shootings in and around Capitol Hill the past few days.”

“What makes you think they were part of the shootings in Capitol Hill?” the dispatcher asked.

“They had a gun?”

“Are you asking me?”

“Pretty sure it was a gun. Pointed it out a window at pedestrians.”

“But didn’t fire?”

“Is that what the Seattle police do? Wait for gunfire before responding?”

The dispatcher sighed. “Please stay on the line until officers arrive on the scene.”

Mayumi put her hand through the front passenger window. An instant later, a hand clad all in black, including gloves, pushed through the hole holding a boxy, blued semi-automatic. The gunman tried to push the weapon into her, but she pulled the arm down, smashing it into jagged daggers of glass. She pushed the arm until it hyperextended at the elbow and went limp, dropping the gun in the street as she and the car continued.

The driver peeled right, clipping her with the side of the car and scraping her along a pole as they passed. “You okay?” Demi asked, standing over her.

“Don’t let them get away,” Mayumi gasped, struggling to her feet. “I’ll survive.”

Demi didn’t hear it, and was already running. The car leapt the curb, trying to take a hard right, losing traction in the rain. It was enough of a slowdown for Demi to smack into the side of the car, her momentum knocking it onto two wheels before it slapped loudly back down on four.

She grabbed the door by the frame just beneath the window and torqued, hoping to pull the car off its path. Instead the door tore clean off its hinge, leading her to stagger backwards as the car sped away. “Well, crap,” she muttered. Then she had an idea, and started to spin again, released the door in an arc. It had been years since she threw discus, but it flew true, crashing through the rear window of the car and rocking the car as it turned down another side street.

“Hell of a throw,” Mayumi said breathlessly.

“You sound awful,” Demi said.

“Still forcing my ribs back out through my lungs. Which hurts more than I remembered.”

“We didn’t catch them,” Demi said.

“No. But I don’t think they’re coming back.”

“Not without a tank, at least.”

“Do the Seattle police have a tank?” Mayumi asked.

“That question’s going to keep me up at night for a whole host of reasons.”