Breed Book 4, Part 39


“So what are we doing?” Ben asked, hiding behind a parked car to avoid a burst of gunfire.

“We’re keeping Mr. Statutory Rapist away from Rox and Mira,” Rui said, carefully not to give Raif a shot.. “Well, you’re keeping me from doing that by asking inane questions because you slept through the part where we planned it, then ignored me while I went over the plan because you were enraptured with a chilli cheese burrito.”

“I remember the burrito,” Ben said wistfully.

“I’m going to haunt you when you inevitably get me killed,” Rui said.

“Not as much as that burrito will,” Anita said over a walkie. “I know you two are supposed to be bait, on account of losing the coin toss, but I meant more distraction than fish in a barrel.”

“How did we end up as bait again?” Ben asked.

“Because I let you flip the coin.”

“That wasn’t it.”

“You also picked tails even though I’ve never seen you flip anything but heads.”

“I’m due a tails. Statistically.” Another volley of fire struck the front of the car near Ben. “I think I may be forming a plan. Lean left,” Ben said. “Give him a hot foot. Draw just enough attention for me to knock him on his ass.”

“And if he shoots me?”

“Then I’m sure he’ll get me next, and you can kick my ass in Heaven.”

“I’m very amused you think we’re both getting in…” Rui said. He saw a tree a few feet from Raif, and pushed a wave of heated air towards it, lighting several low-hanging branches.

“I said a hot foot-” Rui leaned out again, even as Raif peppered the car with rounds. Rui pushed plasma along the ground, flash-frying a puddle into steam and catching Raif’s right sneaker. “I should boss you around more often,” Ben said, sending a shockwave through the asphalt. With Raif distracted, the movement beneath his feet made him stumble.

“So we’re doing our part,” Rui said into the walkie. “Where’s-” he was cut-off, as the cars to either side of Raif were lifted off the ground by small explosions. Immediately, gunfire chased Raif away from his vehicle into an alleyway. “Showoffs,” Rui said into the walkie. “I should probably,” Rui kicked off the ground, his entire body and his clothes becoming a heated a plasma.

“Negative,” Anita said over the walkie Ben was holding. “Just heard from Rox. She’s got Mira to agree to sit this one out. And if we follow Raif we’ve got a better chance of catching a bullet from D.C.’s finest/most racist than of ending the evening with Mai Tais. So I say we skip straight to the Mai Tais instead.”

“Which one was a Mai Tai?” Rui asked, landing and transmuting back into a solid.

“How do you not know that?” Sonya asked, crouching beside him.

“Because I left Brazil when I was thirteen, and even then it’s not like we all spend our lives on the beaches

“Why not?”

“Because it’s a real, functional country. Okay, so, not right this second, it’s not, because of how badly we’ve dealt with the pandemic, but neither is this one.”

“Ouch,” Sonya said, “but fair.”

“And it’s got rum in it,” Ben said. “And cure-a-cow-”

“Curaçao,” Sonya corrected.

“Along with almond and lime.”

“That does sound good,” Rui said. “Or maybe I’ve just been shot at a lot tonight- and a lot recently, come to think of it- so maybe I just really need a fucking drink.”

“You fugitives aren’t old enough to drink,” Anita said, disarming the alarm on their van.

“I still don’t understand why we got that,” Rui said. “The alarm is worth more than the van you installed it in.”

“Ah, but if we hadn’t gotten it, the van would have either been stolen or used as a communal toilet by a group of homeless people last week. Either way, well worth the hundred whatever bucks.”

“I’m not sure you could get the smell of urine even more strongly caked into that upholstery.”

“It’s not just that it was a urine smell, it’s really unhealthy urine. I don’t know the whole story, but infections that went years without treatment, probably some late-stage liver failure; can I say, as a Canadian, fuck your for-profit healthcare system.”

“Not mine,” Rui said, “Brazilian.”

“I mean, I technically have citizenship both in the tribe and in the US, but I’ve always considered the tribe more

“I still count it,” Anita said. “And you?”

“Yeah,” Sonya said, half scowling. “I’ve got no excuse, other than I voted for Bernie when I had the chance.”

“Regardless, this greedy system is bad and you should feel bad.”

“I do.”

“Me, too,” Ben said. “Half-bad, at least.”

“Anyway, I’m doing you a massive favor sparing you, even if I already had to smell it and still kind of can. It’s all I can do not to jam a hot poker up my nose.”

“All the way?” Rui asked. “Or just into the sinuses?”

“Either way, it would just become the last smell I could remember, which somehow makes it more vivid. So I need that drink at least as much as the rest of you.”

“So,” Ben said, swallowing. “I hate to have a one-track mind, here, but Mira? You didn’t say she was coming with us.”

“I didn’t get all the details, but it sounds like she’s still fence-sitting, though this time she’s sitting on the fence from the sidelines, which sounds like an upgrade. Ride the terrorist pine is preferable than actually being in the game-”

“Unless that’s a euphemism,” Sonya interjected. “Sorry, Ben.”

Sirens made Anita cock her head to the side. “All right, they’re playing our exit music.” She got into the driver’s seat, and the rest filed into the van.  

“So, it kind of feels like we only slowed them down,” Rui said as she started the engine.

“Well, the good news is he’ll ditch the gun. He’ll have to, to get through the police cordon. Bad news is we have to ditch ours, too- mine, I guess.” She threw her pistol into a bush as they passed. “But we should have an easier time replacing handguns; less regulations, more per capita than assault rifles. Unless he decides to go old school, pick up a long gun. But that changes the game; if he’s sniping there’s really only a handful of models that will get the job done- especially against a group of prepared, organized defenders like the Secret Service. I mean, if he were a professional I might be sweating, but I’ve seen his service record. He’s an acceptable shot, but he’s not even a designated marksman. It was probably always a baby blanket, anyhow.”

“So we’ve maybe got our friend out of a collision path with treason,” Sonya said.

“But otherwise left their assassination plot in progress,” Rui said.

“Half of us deserves a drink, the other half needs one.”

“I have a solution,” Ben said. “We’re all drinking for two tonight.” “Sometimes even a stopped clock. First round of doubles is on Tso.”

Breed Book 4, Part 38


 “Welcome to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, formerly CHAZ. You can call me Violet.”

“That’s a pretty name,” Demi said, stepping over a pile of cardboard that had been used to mark off the edges of a mural, and was covered in paint splatters.  

“I was named after my aunt. Fox rotted her brain; cancer rotted the rest of her after.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“I wish I could be. But she died right before Drump was elected, and definitely would have voted for him. It’s kind of hard not to see it as her body stopping her from doing something inhumanly cruel- one last little kindness my old aunt did for me, before my new aunt decided to start calling me all the slurs they inundated her with under the pretense of ‘news.’ You two are from Bellingham, right?”

“I’m not sure how you know that,” Demi said.

“Well, you I recognize from your Instagram; Demi, right? Her I remember from some viral video of that militia that stormed your school. She beat one of those rednecks within an inch of his inbred life.”

“Not to be argumentative,” Demi said, “but she was holding back.”

“That doesn’t surprise me, or take anything away from the absolutely brutal way you realigned his entire belief system; any delusions about being part of any kind of master race are surely dashed now. Not that I would have trusted my own obsessive indexing of internet video as definitive; our geeks had you profiled before you crossed the border into the CHOP. I just remembered both of your digital fingerprints enough to volunteer to talk to you, to put a friendly face forward when we made our ask.”

“What do you need?” Mayumi asked.

“There’s been a series of shootings, the first couple in CHOP, the last just outside it- but close enough to it for everyone to pretend otherwise. The shootings have shaken the entire CHOP; some want us to invite the cops back in; the others just want all of us to pack it in- the mayor included. We want the shootings to stop. CHOP is probably on borrowed time, anyway, but we want it to end on our terms, not because someone’s taking advantage. And Mayumi, we believe, though haven’t been able to verity it, is former military. Not exactly a cop, but likely the closest facsimile likely to walk through our doors in the next few days.”

“Seattle’s not a small city,” Mayumi started. “Even the area around Capitol Hill is more than the two of us can cover.”

“For that we might have a solution. The last victim was a technopath. We think he was singled out because he noticed a cell phone dead zone- that they’re using a blocker. Kills cell phones, wifi.”

“I don’t think either of us can track that,” Demi said.

“No, but we’ve got a couple of technopaths in the CHOP. And they can call you.”

“Unless we’re already in the dead zone.”

“No, even then. See, this,” Vi handed her a walkie, “isn’t going to be hit by the scrambler. It’s been customized, amplified. Would probably work from Portland with a large enough battery.”

“Maine, or Oregon?”


“What do you think, Mai?” Demi asked. “Why not? It’s been days since I last got shot.”

Breed Book 4, Part 37


“Hey,” Rox said, giving a slight wave of her hand.

Mira dropped the can of lighter fluid on the sidewalk. Flames and smoke were billowing out of the Target, swirling around the Starbucks inside the entryway behind her. “Fuck are you doing here?”

“I would ask you, but I think the answer’s kind of the same: I followed the smoke. So why’d you set a Target on fire?”

Mira held out a half-crushed Starbucks coffee cup. Scrawled on the side was the word “ISIS.” “Technically,” Mira said, throwing the cup down, “I only set fire to the Starbucks inside the Target.”

“Noted. We might want to,” Rox nodded away.

“Yeah,” Mira said, and they started walking together, out of the shopping center parking lot. “How did you find me?”

A cop car blared by with its lights and sirens on. “Same way they didn’t,” Rox said. “Mahmoud got me close enough my ability did the rest.”

“You and your god-damned luck,” Mira said. “Wait, Mahmoud? He’s alive?” Her voice crackled with energy.

“We found him in Guantanamo, when we were breaking out the people the Drump Administration stole from the concentration camps.”

“Jesus, that’s fucked up.”

“Yeah. So. I hear you’re here to kill a President.”

“Mikaela told,” Mira said, her voice hollow.

“Wasn’t that what you wanted?” Rox asked, confused.

Mira said. “Yeah. But also ‘no.’ Aren’t you pissed? They find out the virus kills minorities, then they try to reopen the country. We exposed that family separation was a discriminatory shell game meant to find Breed, and they just spirit them away. I spent my whole life trying not to scare white people. Not to dress in ways that would make them uncomfortable, or wear my hair or groom myself in ways that would give them cause to discriminate against me. And it never worked. It was never enough. And it was always, somehow, my fault. I don’t agree with everything Raif’s done. I don’t know if I agree with any of it. But we were doing something. We weren’t just taking it, just letting ourselves and other people get hurt, over and over again. There’s a shelf-life on this shit; I think a part of me wants out before it kills me, or I do something I can’t forgive myself for. But the rest of me really wanted Mikaela to get it. To understand, maybe even respect it, a little- even if she couldn’t agree on the means, at least see that we were doing the same as her, the same as you, just trying to do good by our community.”

“Maybe she wants exactly what you want: a way out for you that isn’t a body bag. Maybe she sees that you want to do the right thing, you just need someone you care about and respect to talk some sense into you.”

“Yeah, but where would we find such a paragon of human virtue?” Mira asked, grinning.

“You don’t have to do this. Whatever this is. We’d take you back, in a second. And we’re fugitives, too, accused of shit at least as bad.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t actually do most of it.”

“Maybe,” Rox said. “But I don’t care. Ben doesn’t care. Rui won’t care. Cris might care, but his Christian ass will have to forgive you or burn in hellfire. We love you. All of us. And our hearts bleed every day knowing you’re out there, hurt, and separated from us. Come home- even if our home is now kind of a traveling circus.”

“Is Ben the elephant? I swear, that man shits like an elephant.”

“You’re the one who slept with him. And this is already way more than I wanted to know about your relationship.”

“What if there’s no going back?” Mira asked.

“I ask myself that every day. And I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to have normal lives again. We may not even be safe going back to the school. But… I can think of a worse group of people to be stuck in exile with.”

“I’ll think about it,” Mira said, “with a caveat. I can’t help you. I meant what I told Mikaela. I’m not sure this should be stopped. I’m out. I’ve been thinking about telling Raif that since Florida. But I can’t help you stop them; it would solve so much. I don’t think I could live with myself if I intervened on that… bigot’s behalf.”

“I have a counter-offer: you come back with me. You can stay as neutral as you need to, but while you’re thinking about it? Come back with me. See your friends. It would do all of them so much good to know you’re okay- to see it.”

“Because that would make the decision for me. If I went back, I could never leave. And I don’t want to be love-bombed, no matter how genuinely. I have to make this choice myself. But I hope… I hope I can take you up on it. The hardest thing about all of this was knowing you were all still out there, still okay, and that I couldn’t be with you. I just hope I can live with that choice.”

Breed Book 4, Part 36


“I feel weird about this,” the young woman said, pausing in the dormitory hall. 

“It’s Aishah, right?” Tucker asked.


“This is weird,” Tucker said, smiling. “You were kidnapped by your government, thrown in a black site prison, and rescued by people that same rogue government have labeled terrorists. And now you’re helping your fellow kidnappees settle into a college dorm where none of you were previously enrolled. It’s just weird, top to bottom.”

“That is,” Aishah agreed. “But it’s not what I meant.”

“You’ll have to excuse Tucker; he’s not a mind-reader,” Mikaela said with a snort.

“You are, aren’t you?” Aishah asked. He nodded, looking deflated. “It’s weird because I don’t like attention. I shrink when people look at me, and now I’ve got hundreds of refugees looking to me like I’m some kind of leader. Just because that strange woman handed me a gun in Guantanamo.”

“That is weird,” Mikaela said, with a smile. “But also… mostly not. Anita knows things, about all of us. She can see… versions of the future, I guess, you could call them- though she calls them drafts. She’s possibly nuts, too. But what she saw, in you, was important; the way you handled yourself made other people see it, too. And even if right now it feels uncomfortable, other people need to keep seeing in you what they saw that day. At leas for a little bit.”

“I know,” she said, staring out one of the dorm windows, at a group of students throwing a frisbee in the field several stories below. “We’ve all been ripped, from our homes, from our families, from our lives. I can see they just need some normalcy. I’m just not sure I can give it to them.”

“We’re here, to help,” Tucker said. “And if you want to transition out of a leadership role, we’ll help with that.”

“I’m not sure,” Aishah said. “Just because I don’t like it, that doesn’t mean I can shirk it, you know?”  

“Definitely,” Mikaela said.

“So I guess, you were giving me a tour.”

“Right,” Tucker started walking again. “Most of you missed the onslaught of the virus; so memes about not being able to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer will be Greek to you. On the plus side, we have ample supply of both for you, here. Some of the technopaths retrofitted our HVAC systems, so that every dorm room has its own air supply.”

“It makes most of the buildings from the outside look like they’re being devoured by mutant robot squids, but it provides as much safety as we can have, without having to send vulnerable students home,” Mikaela said. “Some did go home, but this school stayed at least somewhat open, because they knew that a lot of the people here are here because they had nowhere else to go.”

“The cafeteria is staffed by student volunteers, all closely monitored; our best interventions are still tech-based, though some of the other telepaths have been trying to telepathically isolate the virus; it’s challenging, because it’s a needle in a haystack. Viral thought is… primitive. Most telepaths can’t even communicate with animals, and the further back down the evolutionary ladder the less simple it is. Other volunteers deliver the food. People with accelerated immune systems or other abilities that make infection or spread less likely are encouraged to pitch in, but everybody has to decide for themselves. And at least so far, we’ve been doing a really good job of sustaining ourselves while keeping quarantine.”

“Any infections?”

“A couple. Traced back to a delivery truck. Guy was a super-spreader, personally responsible for like a hundred cases in a week from here to Seattle. But they were isolated, given the best care available, and recovered. Currently no infections at the school, but we’re staying vigilant, anyway.”

“Oh?” Aishah asked.

“Not sure if you heard about the militia that invaded the school. Well, after those ‘very fine people’ were pardoned by the President, one of them sent a box of infected items to our Dean. It was flagged by staff, and turned over to the authorities, but…”

“Shitheads will weaponize this,” Aishah said.

“Yeah,” Tucker said.

“Are we safe here?” Aishah asked, fear trembling in her voice.

“We’ve had our fair share of problems,” Mikaela said softly. “But this is also the largest concentration of Breed in the world. I think we could more than hold our own against anything short of a full government inva-“ Mikaela stopped when she recognized the tears welling in Aishah’s eyes. “Oh, God, I’m sorry.” She reached out, and Aishah latched onto her with surprising speed.

“I don’t want to be afraid,” Aishah said raggedly.

“But you were taken once, and of course you’re worried about it,” Mikaela said. “I think, right now, they couldn’t get away with storming the school. The optics of it, especially during a pandemic…”

“We also have contingencies,” Tucker said. “We can’t get everyone out; there are volunteers, among the students and most of the staff, to stay and buy time for the rest to escape. That’s one of the reasons we’re this far north- so we can flee across the border if necessary.”

Aisha sniffled, before straightening. “How do you volunteer?”

“Are you sure that’s something you want to do?” Tucker asked.

“Last time, I didn’t raise my fists. I told myself I had to be a model minority, not make a fuss, that it would only end in them doing worse to more of us. Then they put us in cages, and when they couldn’t keep us there any longer, they spirited us out of the country to Guantanamo. We aren’t human to them, and no amount of acting good, and right and submissive can change that. I won’t do that again. If there is a next time, I need to go down swinging.”

“Okay,” Tucker said. “Then we’ll need a few things. We need to know what your ability is; usually, we see it as polite not to ask until someone’s ready to talk about it, but for this we need to know, because we have to set you up with an advisor, to train. Because we do have to restrain ourselves, or we’ll validate a lot of their fears about us. And ultimately, we don’t want to hurt anyone. This is defensive. So we want to be as good as we can be at causing exactly the amount of damage we intend to.”

Breed Book 4, Part 35

Note: Sorry about the posting gap. Had some familial friction that is, hopefully, resolved now.


“So I have a hit,” Mahmoud said, trying to flatten out a dollar so the vending machine would take it.

“Then why are you grimacing?” Rox asked, taking the dollar from him. It went in without any trouble. “And couldn’t you have just told it to give you a snack for free?”

“I could, but I’d feel bad,” he said punching in the number for a bag of pretzels. “Plus this way you get to show off.”

“And try to avoid the question,” she said. “But fail.”

“Right. The grimace. It’s a combination, really. Because I think I’ve found Mira. But she’s almost in D.C. And the reason I found her is that she got flagged buying a gun.”

“Well that’s ominous.”

“Right? And to make matters worse, it wasn’t the kind of flag that kept her from getting the gun- they just sent law enforcement after her later. It meant that she got away clean. On the plus side, I don’t think they intended to get flagged, so they had to leave town quick- means she’s still carrying the phone she bought with the card that got flagged. I’m shielding it from law enforcement- at least in theory- they haven’t so much as pinged a cell tower for it.”

“You keep saying ‘they,’” Rox said.

“She was with someone, according to the preliminary reports. Older, latinx, male. Douche beard.”

“Raif. That complicates things.”

“Oh? Seems like one more mouth to feed a fist to- and we do seem to have a pretty healthy fist to fool ratio.”

“He spikes powers. He’s a walking performance-enhancing drug. Mira on her own I think we could stop. But with him all bets are off. Though it explains the guns.”

“It does?”

“Mira wouldn’t need them. She could probably storm the White House on foot; she redirects energy used against her, so every shot the Secret Service took, every punch they threw, she’d give them back. She could just wade through that carnage. But he’s a leech. One with firearms experience, courtesy of the Army. He wants to be there, either as back-up, or because he wants to take the shot himself. It’s an extra degree of suck, too, because the rest of his entourage likely aren’t far behind. We might be in over our heads. Can you stop a gun?”

“Like a gun, gun?”

“As opposed to what?”

“No. Technopaths control electronics, the more digital the more control we have. Some of us can hear other machines, like that van sounds like it’s on its last legs- but all old cars kind of do. Just like old people that way, I guess. My great uncle, from like age 50 when he had a heart attack, was convinced he wouldn’t live another year. Just turned 92. His sister was the same; heart attack a year to the day after his, died before I was even born. But unless a car has a digital brain, I can’t actually know much, let alone control it or shut it down.”

“What can you do?”

“Well, if they’re using any kind of an electronic scope, I can fuck with that. If they’ve got a phone I can take control of it.”

“But that’s provided we can figure out what phone he’s carrying, right?”


“So we need to get our asses back on the road, then.


Breed Book 4, Part 34


“I’m so glad Mikaela lent us her car,” Demi said, checking her blindspot before changing lanes. “Her car doesn’t smell like the interior is all ashtray, the lights all light, and it starts, too.”

“I’m not sure you’re describing your car as anything other than a very big, impractical paperweight,” Mayumi said.

“Hey, it’s an ashtray and a paperweight,” Demi said with a smile. “I slept in a Honda like this one for a while, though it wasn’t mine. And when the owner found out, he kind of treated me like I was a family of raccoons. Though to be fair it was 1 in the morning and I did not have my face on.”  

“This after you left home?”

“I prefer ‘fled,’ even if it sounds a tad melodramatic.”

“I’m here, if you want to talk about that.”

“Not yet,” Demi said. “Maybe not ever. A part of me kind of likes it where I left it- and that’s why I left. Speaking of… any idea what we’re going to do when we hit Seattle?”

“I’ve got some money. Didn’t even remember it until last year. Should set us up in a decent-ish apartment.”

“I more meant-“

“I know. But I don’t know. I kind of imagine there’s going to be protests for a while. And I also imagine the cops aren’t going to be cowed for long. Some of them are going to have to crack skulls, just to not feel as powerless as they did that night.”

“And we aren’t going to let them, right?”

“Wasn’t planning to. But- we have to tread cautiously. Nothing broken. Nobody dripping blood, if we can help it. We can’t give them the PR win they so desperately want. But a move I think we both can pull off, grab a riot helmet by the strap and back and tear it off, then break it apart like an egg. That’ll take the fight out of them real quick.”

“I like that. And it’s even going out of our way not to hurt them, just to show them if we wanted to, we could. And it shows we aren’t the violent monsters that, well, they are.”

“The big question really is where do we need to be to be most effective as a buffer,” Mayumi said. “Not all protests are created equal, after all.” “And not all protestors can’t handle themselves as well as we can.”

Breed Book 4, Part 33


“I still think we should rent a nicer car,” Rui said. “This van smell’s like Tso’s smelliest part.”

“His feet?” Sonya asked.

“I’m thinking butt,” Anita said, “and I’m now very invested in what he meant.”

“This is not the conversation I want to be happening right now,” Ben said, covering his head with a jacket.

“You don’t hear Mahmoud complaining,” Rox said.

He leaned in from the front passenger seat. “I’m going to be your go-to for a while, aren’t I?” Mahmoud asked, wincing.

“Sorry,” she said. “It’s kind of the elephant in the room. I’m trying not to notice the smell, but it’s a fucking elephant.”

“I think the smell might be Tso’s taint; at least I hope it is, otherwise something died in this car, and it’s really soaked the smell in.”

“Any progress?”

“So, given that there’s a pandemic still raging, I guess Drump’s schedule is kind of no duh,” Mahmoud said. “But he’s on lock down at the White House. I’ve got their emails, too, so it’s something he’s constantly griping about, but so far they’ve managed to keep him from trying to roam wild- though God knows how long that will keep. He’s essentially wild cattle- the moment someone leaves his pen open he’s going to go stand in the nearest road and just dare the next virus that happens along to fucking hit him.” 

“So where does that leave us?”

“Well, nowhere good. Though fortunately, it also leaves Mira up the same shitty creek. They can’t pick him off in a convoy, or getting off a plane or a helicopter. They’ve got to storm Fort Dumb as Rocks. Bricks, rather.”

“Good save,” Sonya said.

“I did also notice that, um, his staff are pretty dumb. I mean, you’d have to be, to work there, but still. Not only are they using unsecured, easily hackable phones, but they spend a just inordinate amount of times on their phones, jotting mean-spirited missives about each other. Each other apparently includes more than you’d think about the security details. I think I see a few vulnerabilities we could exploit- or that Mira and her group might try to exploit- assuming they’ve got either a mildly talented hacker or a kindergarten technopath.”

“Loose dips sinks ships,” Anita said, before turning to Sonya. “Not you, no offense.”

“I wouldn’t have taken offense until now.”

“That’s great work,” Rox said. “I mean Mahmoud. Anita, you’re going behind Tso in the bathroom order.”

“Oh, come on. It wasn’t that mean.”

“Maybe,” Rui said, “but you did follow it up with an additional mean thing. Sort of hurts your case.”

“He treats burrito-eating like a competitive sport.”

“Sounds like sour grapes from someone who keeps losing,” Ben said without emerging from his jacket tent.

“I also feel like you probably should have seen this coming,” Rox said.

“Damnit,” Anita said.

Breed Book 4, Part 32


“I’m still not sure about this,” Mikaela said.

“This about me driving a bus, or?” Tucker trailed off while taking a turn too wide, jumping the curb and nearly smacking into a stop sign.

“Also that, yeah,” Mikaela said. “But more the us meeting clandestinely smuggled quasi-refugees.”  

“To be fair, what ABC did was more human trafficking than smuggling, and it’s more like we rescued them from kidnappers.”

“That certainly sounds more heroic. I guess I also assumed Bellingham’s airport would be more… podunk. It’s a tiny town. Why does it have a massive airport- an international airport? And apparently the third biggest in the state. I was expecting a single airstrip, with one of those old-fashioned windsocks, and probably a bored cow doing the air traffic controlling.”

“It’s the proximity to Vancouver. It gets a lot of traffic from there, because it’s cheaper than flying out of their international airport.”

“Guess that makes sense. You know where we’re going?”

“The Dean just pinged me. He’s walking them through the front doors.”

“I hate telepaths.”

“We dated for a long time… oh, right. That’s why.”

“Not the only reason,” Mikaela smiled slyly. “But it’s probably controlling.”

Tucker pulled the bus to a stop in front of the airport’s revolving front door, and the Dean stepped inside. “I told you I could manage the bus,” Tucker said.

“I wouldn’t brag too much; I can feel the anxiety dripping off Mikaela without poking into her head.”

“How’d it go?” Mikaeala asked, as a stream of young people, mostly children, flowed past them into the seats.

“It was a little depressingly simple to walk them through the airport.”

“In fairness, you can make security and anyone else see whatever you need them to- including nothing.”

“Still. There are a lot more telepaths around today than there were. It’s only a matter of time before someone abuses the privilege for more sinister means.”

“That depends,” Mikaela said, “if you’re counting the government using them against the rest of us. We know they’ve been pressing technopaths to work for the NSA. Why not recruit telepaths into the FBI?”

“That’s a chilling thought,” he said. “Though not as chilling as the thought of letting Tucker drive us all back to the school. You’re a passenger for the trip home.”

“Aw, man,” Tucker said. “I read that raccoon I hit; didn’t have a family, and I’m pretty sure he wanted to die.”

“That’s not funny,” Kean said.

“It was, a little,” Mikaela said, stifling a laugh.

Breed Book 4, Part 31


Mahmoud was concentrating, navigating the cell towers in search of any clues.  

“Mikaela said she was using burners, if that helps,” Rox said.

“Only if she bought up all the burner phones on the East Coast, and she even is on the East Coast,” he said, trying to maintain his concentration. “But Mikaela also said she was cautious, bordering on paranoid. I’ve found four phones she used once in the last nine months, no connection, other than a lack of connection. Each purchased on a different credit card, some fake, some stolen, from different chains, in different states at different times of day. The one constant is that they either didn’t have surveillance equipment or it wasn’t functioning that day, as best I can piece together through maintenance records. Worse, the phones were always purchased at the least minute, before she burned an identity and left town, so even if I discovered a pattern, it would lead us to where she had been, not either where she is or is going to.”

“Well we know where she’s going, but that-”

“Do we, though?” he asked. “Because statistically there’s almost even odds that he’ll be in New York or Florida, rather than in D.C.”

“Shit,” Rox said. “We need to start thinking like a terrorist.”

“Start?” Anita asked.

“Bugs?” Rox asked.

“You’re clear,” Mahmoud said. “No one’s mics are on.”

“If we were going to attack a President, how would we approach it?”

“Depends,” Anita said. “You just want him gone, or you want to make a statement?”


“I could slip into the White House undetected, inject him with an agent to paralyze his vocal chords, force him at gunpoint to slash his wrists on the assumption that they can probably save him from that, but not a bullet. You want a statement, you attack the White House, you topple him in his castle in broad daylight with his guards on high alert.”

“That’s… actually a fair point,” Rui said, “if meandering. But I don’t think anything they’ve done to this point suggests they think they can siege the White House. Not even in a quick, smash and shoot style raid.”

“Unless they’ve powered up,” Rox said. “We know part of what they’ve been doing globetrotting is recruiting. If they got their hands on a heavy hitter, all bets would be off.”

“True,” Ben said, “but then, if they did recruit a heavy hitter, we probably couldn’t do much to even slow them down.”

“So I guess we’re left with the choice between assuming we’re fucked, or guessing they keep on the subtler track they’ve been on.”

“Or plan C,” Rox said. We pick our target, and hope we’re right. And to cover our bases, we call the Secret Service to tell them there’s an imminent threat. It’s halfway to a hail Mary, but half a loaf is better than starving.”

“I still say my plan is solid,” Anita said. “I can slip in. I’ve cased the place every few years when I swing through Washington. They’ll never even know I was there.”

“We’re trying to thwart an assassination, not do one,” Sonya said.

Right,” Anita said. “I forgot we’re in the boring draft.” Ben’s head swiveled towards her. “You have no idea how kinky alternate you gets,” she told him.

“So any other insights, then?” Rox asked. Anita’s face lit up, and Rox put up her hand, “Insights not about anyone’s alternet reality sex lives.”

“Pooh,” Anita said. “The problem is they’re doing the exact same kind of guessing game as we are. Probably. Unless this is one of the timelines where… heh, yeah. I have insight. You know how nobody in this administration even bothers using appropriate channels, they’re all on public email and using unsecured phones? Mahmoud.”

“Shit,” he said. “Feel dumb I didn’t think of that- of course, I’ve missed most of what she’s talking about, because I’ve been trapped in an information-free hole. But still, his schedule is on an unsecure phone. Or twelve. Jesus. It wouldn’t even take a skilled technopath to crack this. I’ve got his schedule. Access to his taxes. Bank records. I really think we should have a talk about selectively leaking some of this before November…”

“For now,” Rox said, “we’ve got an idea of where their target will be, and the timeframe, so it should be fairly simple to figure out some approaches.”

Breed Book 4, Part 30


“I kind of feel like we should have stayed,” Demi said, as Seattle shrunk in their rear window.

“I get the sentiment,” Mikaela said, “but I need a shower. And a change of underpants. And outerpants, for that matter.”

“I reverse them,” Iago said, “Then it’s like I’m wearing a whole new pair.”

“He better not be back there with his underpants on the outside,” Tucker said, “or I’m burning the upholstery.”

“There are other ways to agitate for change,” Drake said. “Marching in Seattle isn’t the only one.”

“Maybe not. But you can’t tell me that wasn’t… something,” Demi said, her voice light.

“Oh, it definitely was,” Tucker said, glancing at her in the rearview mirror. “But you can’t get caught up chasing that feeling, either. Sometimes change is marching through the streets of your podunk little college town, protesting police some nonlethal discrimination on a Tuesday. It’s the little, seemingly insignificant shit along with the big, important shit.”

“That’s profound shit,” Mikaela said.

“Oh, bite my brother’s inside-out underpants.”

“Not even with your teeth.”


“I think I’m going to go back,” Mayumi said. “You’re right, that change is cumulative, and what happens in smaller towns impacts the bigger picture, too- but this is different. Because Seattle is the biggest city close to the school, itself he biggest collection of Breed- it’s a flashpoint. I think the cops and the city know it, too- I think that’s part of why their response was so aggressive so quickly. It got there in basically every city, but it added fuel. I need to be here, right now.”

“I think I’m going to come, too,” Demi said.

“I can’t,” Mikaela said. “The Breed Rox liberated from Cuba are already in the air, on their way to Bellingham. I promised I’d watch over them.”

“That’s okay,” Mayumi said. “I don’t think this is an either or thing. I think both are important, and necessary. Just because I feel like I need to go back, doesn’t mean anyone else should feel compelled to. Plus, I, too, need a change of underpants, too.”