Breed Book 4, Last Parts

That was a ride. First book I’ve been posting as I was writing it in quite some time; others, often NaNos, I started posting concurrently, but got far enough ahead that I was midway through the next book when the ending went up. They were also posted by a helper, so… I at least didn’t feel the same connection to it. But enough of my gas-baggery, onto the many afterwords…

Afterword: On Policing

This has been a strange fucking story to write, and I will cop right now- no pun intended- to being an imperfect messenger for it. I’m white- perhaps apocryphally white passing according to some murmured family lore- and definitely have experienced privilege in my dealings with police. Just earlier this year, I dealt with cops in a circumstance where they showed grace, and a degree of restraint; through my own naivete I put my family in harm’s way, in a way that very well could have had deadly ramifications. It shouldn’t have, mind you. I’m not singling out those cops as the exception, as an example of good cops. They all should act that way, all the time. That the behavior isn’t the norm in all circumstances is frankly more damning than anything I could say. I’ve protested recently, and the cops around here have been polite, and indulgent. Again, this is how it should be, and not just when they’re dealing with a white guy.

When I started this, honestly, I didn’t know where it would go, not the story and not the movement. But now, three months on, I know how it should end. Because we can’t go back to the way that it was, not as a society, not without dipping our hands in buckets of the blood of innocent people of color and saying we’re content as it drips from our fingers. I don’t want that. Cops shouldn’t want that. And I get that there are inherent, systemic issues that we have to deal with. Cultural issues in the ways we train police, in the culture of policing, things that go back to the way that American policing ties in with slave patrols, and America’s original racist sins. I want, I hope, and I wish I could pray for this to be a turning point, for this to be a pivotal moment in our history books we look back on and can say we made a difference. I know we’re not going to solve racism, probably not even solve the problems where race and policing intersect. But this can be the beginning of change. Cops are Americans first. Some just need to be reminded of that. Others may need to stop being cops entirely. And that could be painful, I get that. But not nearly as fucking painful as what we have been doing, as a society, to people of color for generations. It has to stop. We have to stop it. All of us.

Afterword 2: Vote Blue

If you like functioning democracies in which votes actually count, regardless of who casts them, vote blue. If you’re a Republican who still has a soul or at least cares about people who aren’t white Christians, vote blue. If you’re not eager to die in a pandemic most countries have handled with comparative ease, don’t want leadership who refers to Nazis and bigots as “fine people” or are otherwise tired of your kids or grandkids giving you crap at Thanksgiving, vote blue.

If you like voter suppression and intimidation and outright theft, if you’re pro-bigotry and hate- wait, why did you even read this book? I’ve been poking you in the eyes for literally thousands of words now. I did not consent to being part of your sub-dom fantasy, you filthy little maggot (okay, now I’m a little into it). But stop jerking off, stop being a jerk-off, and vote fucking blue. This is it, people, the one for all of the marbles. Either we recognize that our country is on the precipice and pull back, and try to undo the untold damage to our democracy, or we tumble onto history’s ash-pile with Rome and all of the other failed democracies.

Lives depend on it. Rights depend on it. The pursuit of happiness depends on it. Vote blue, or fuck the hell off. And I mean for-fucking-ever. And this goes for you, too, mom.- maybe doubly so, since you still owe me for telling me to leave my disabled wife with no fucking support.

Afterword 3: Maybe the real one possibly, that will be published with the book

Mahmoud was supposed to die. Okay, that’s not true; Mahmoud didn’t exist. Then, when some poor kid got harassed by a bunch of ignorants at his school, he did, but he didn’t quite fit in the story, so I figured I’d kill him at the climax of the first book. Not because I was indifferent, but because I was adapting unused scripts into a novel and he wasn’t in those scripts- plus it made it hurt more, upped the toll of doing the right thing for all of them. And then I had a thought- really, a way to twist the knife- was to let everyone think he was dead, but keep him alive. And in a fucking cage. Now, this was years before we started putting children in cages; I wasn’t looking for a parallel to an unthinkable situation. No, I was just a sadist looking for ways to make some characters hurt; all authors are sadists, by the way. Our livelihood is torturing imaginary people, and finding ways to make it interesting; to be fair, we also love the characters we torture, so it’s also masochistic. Authors are monsters, in case you weren’t aware.

But something happened in the interim. Some of it was four years of soul-crushing misery, watching what I had grown up believing to be good people turn their backs on the suffering of others, usually because they weren’t the same color. My faith in humanity has been shredded these last few years; my belief that the world can be a good place, that our species is worth fighting for, have been tested.

I expected Mahmoud’s return to be an important moment in the story, but I wasn’t prepared for how it made me feel. When I freed Mahmoud, I cried. Like a baby, at times. Singular, masculine tears, at others. Schoolgirl after her first lost love tears another. But I cried for him. Not as a tribute to my own plotting or drafting, but because I’ve spent four years feeling trapped, caged. And, hopefully not getting ahead of myself here, I feel like I’ve been set free, that for the first time in a long time I feel a glimmer of hope. It started as an angry little ember, but, fanning it for sixty chapters, it’s grown as the possibility that we might actually effect change has grown.

Anyone who’s watched me for some time will know my productivity went from fairly crazy to nearly nonexistent the last few years. And maybe I don’t get to go back to the productivity I’ve enjoyed at other points in my career. But hopefully I don’t go back to the complete and utter lockdown, creatively and emotionally, that I’ve experienced off and on the last four years, either. Thank you, to everyone reading, for braving this apocalypse with me.  You are not alone in this maelstrom of madness, and we can, and will, get through it together.

Afterword 4: I promise this is the last one for now:

I’m going to keep going. If you’ve been paying attention, there’s a book 1, 2 & 4, but not a 3. I’m going to come back here in a week from Monday and start posting it, I’m thinking probably four days a week, Monday through Thursday. I’m going to use next week to make a dent on the outline, so I’m not flying by the seat of my pants as much as I did during book 4, which hopefully, in combination with a 4 day posting schedule, will mean that I don’t have the same kinds of delays I had with this book. And if I can get enough of a head start, I might even start posting more frequently again. And if that all goes smoothly, I’m still midway through an Old Ventures sequel that could really use a damn ending (and dovetails nicely with book 3, by the way).


For George Floyd. He deserved better than to be a martyr. Collectively, we failed him, and so many others, before and since. All we can do now is try and make sure his death doesn’t become another in a long line that we didn’t give a damn about. Stay angry. Stay loud. Help America become the country it always dreamed it was; help us build the world that George Floyd and so many others deserved but were denied.

Update 4/20/21: With his murderer facing real consequences, we’ve taken a hesitant first step. But White Supremacy in this country is a wall, and it took all of us a year pulling for all we were worth to pull loose one brick. That might sound demoralizing, and today, that wall still stands. But it’s weaker today than yesterday. In time, with work, we can pull the whole damn thing down. Have courage. Have faith. We can see this through.

Breed Book 4, Part 64: Epilogue

Sixty-Four: Epilogue

Rui leapt through the air spinning halfway around, catching the frisbee and landing with a flourish. “We want to make it interesting?” Rui asked, throwing the disc towards Ben.

“Strip frisbee?” Ben asked, catching it in one hand, then shook his head. “Somebody’s definitely ending up with a discus where they don’t want one.” He threw towards Sonya, but it was intercepted by Mahmoud.

“I’m pretty sure he was asking if you wanted to play Ultimate Frisbee, as a for old time’s sake kind of thing,” Mahmoud said.

“Yeah,” Rui agreed.

“Cause I think of most of you as family-ish,” Ben said. “I don’t think I’d want to see half of you naked if I could. I’m completely sure there are some of you I don’t want to see even half-naked.”

“Do you mean the male half?” Mahmoud asked. “The male half of the male half, if you want to get specific.”

“I guess I do. Still. I have complicated, semi-familial feelings pointed towards the others.”

“So like your cousin who you wanted so see naked but then not touch or anything.”

“No, I said she took her clothes off in front of me when we were kids, and I didn’t know any better. And I’m pretty sure I told you that in confidence.”

“Yeah,” Sonya said, receiving the frisbee, “you’ve told that story to literally all of us in confidence.”

“It does seem less confidential, the more people you tell it to,” Rox said, catching the disc on one finger. “Can I- I just want to say something.”

“Profound,” Sonya said.

“Moving,” Cris said.

“They’re just going to keep doing this, so you should just forge ahead,” Mira said, leaning her elbows on Rox’s shoulders.

“You’re right,” Rox said. “It’s really special, being back here with all of you. A part of me wasn’t sure any of us would ever make it back here- let alone all of us. And we all contributed to that, maybe none moreso than Mahmoud.”

“Thanks,” Mahmoud said. “But we can’t stay Not yet, anyway.”

“Why not?” Anita asked. “Other than the obvious, in that I’m too old to go here, and they probably aren’t going to rehire me, now that the whole mercenary/assassin cat is out of the bag.”

“I mean none of us. Because there’s something we have to do first. You found me because Linc found me, right? It’s taken me a while to piece together why, but I think I know why he tracked me down, specifically. His ability- it’s less impressive and at the same time maybe more, than appears at first blush. Winding back time sounds great- but it’s a really inefficient way to do things. It would require, well, reversing everything- including the momentum of all matter in the universe begun at the big bang-  would take double the kinetic energy of the universe, triple, probably, since you first have to push things back, then you have to get them moving in the same direction they were before again. But moving information is basically free. He was sending enough of his consciousness back into his own skull to feel like he reset time, but it was really just a memory dump, which he could transmit across fourth dimensional space back into his own head.”

“But why you?”

“Because I’m a technopath. And we all work a little differently, but I’m really good with systems analysis; and I think I’ve figured out a way to help him. Because if it were just information, he’d be dead and there’s no going back from being dead. So I think he’s had a… a stalking horse. A version of himself that’s outside, looking in. It can’t go back into his physical body like it used to and reset, hence his deterioration since. But if there’s enough of the physical information there, maybe we could use that to rebuild him. It’s solving maybe 20% of the science needed for Star Trek teleportation, or maybe 60% of the science needed for medical grade human cloning.”

“There’s a but, right?” Rox said.

“The but is that it might kill him. But not doing this is also killing him, so we really don’t have anything to lose. But that’s the other reason I pushed so hard for us to get our old lives back. We couldn’t do this on the road, or remotely. We need a stable base of operations, and ideally access to some of the best technology and the most gifted minds on the planet, all of which are here. Our only shot to do this right was staging it from here. The school, and more importantly the students, represent everything we need to bring him home, too. And especially, especially today, that means more to me than anything. So I,” he stopped, sniffling, “I need to thank you guys for bringing me home, kicking and screaming though I was, at times. And I hope you know, all of you, that it wouldn’t be home without all of you. That’s why I want your help bringing Linc home, too.”

“We’re all in, obviously, in case that wasn’t assumed.”

“That’s good,” Mahmoud said. “Because to do this, and do it quick, we’re going to break a bunch of international laws. Don’t get used to not being fugitives, is what I’m saying.”

“He’d do it for us,” Sonya said.

“He got into this because he was doing the same for us,” Rui said.

“And I look damn good on a wanted poster,” Ben added.

“Yeah,” Cris said, “you didn’t need to ask. Of course we’re all in.”

“Good,” Mahmoud said, with a glint in his eye.

That’s the end of this book. I’ll have an update tomorrow on the story I’ll start posting in about a week, as well as the dedication and afterword(s). So if you, like me, can’t get the sound of my voice out of your head, by all means, come back.

Breed Book 4, Part 63


“That was you, wasn’t it? The last-minute call from the Oval Office?” Mikaela asked. Mahmoud looked slyly from side to side, his expression partially obscured by a hand-sewn mask covering the his nose and mouth. “You know you averted a massacre, right?”

The field sprawling between the furthest dorms and the lecture halls was dotted with Breed students, playing while trying their best to socially distance. Nearest to them were Mahmoud’s closest friends, leisurely tossing a frisbee back and forth. “All I did was what I felt was right in the moment. It’s all any of us can do.”

“Yeah,” she said, patting him on the back. “I remember the first time I met you. It was my first time in a helicopter.”

“Mine, too.”

“We were both just scared kids. I still feel like that, most days.”

“Me, too. Maybe that’s not on us, though; I think anyone who can live through what we all have been through these last few years, and regard it with jaded eyes, like yeah, I completely expected this, was totally prepared to handle this… that’s not normal. None of this has been normal. It’s a superhuman feat just to survive it this long and maintain some semblance of dignity, sanity and humanity.”

“I maintain that the superhuman feat was convincing federal troops that Drump had asked them to stop stomping in the heads of his betters- which for the record is nearly all sentient life on the planet. And securing pardons for your friends.”

“Well, if you’re saying I’m a super guy, I will demurely accept the compliment,” he said with a laugh.

“How’s it feel?” she asked. “To finally be home?”

“You have no idea.”

“No,” Mikaela said. “I can scarcely imagine what you’ve been through- what any of you have been through. Made me sick, knowing you were out there, doing things I could scarcely imagine to make the world a better place. It was worse, thinking you’d been killed, that you were all in that kind of danger.”

“Part of the reason we could be out there, though, was knowing the rest of you were here, keeping the home fires lit. It’s kind of easy to be an impulsive young freedom fighter, when you know there’s something back home worth fighting for- people who need you out on the front line.”

“Yeah,” Mikaela said with a swallow. “I think I get that better, now, having been to some of these protests. Not that they’re our first, but… I think both sides have been fighting harder this year. I think that’s because we all recognize it’s a tipping point. This is going to be a different country, in part because of the change we’re all helping bring about, right now. And the other side… they fought like hell not to change. This was their last chance to hold back the future, and they knew it.” Mikaela took a swig from her drink. “But you should go. You’re home. All of you. For the first time in way too long.”

Years,” he said.

“So what the hell are you doing talking to me?” He latched onto her and squeezed.

“Because you’re part of what made this home to me. You and Tucker welcomed me here, when half the world wanted me thrown in a hole, and the other couldn’t stop staring at me. You helped me feel normal, in a world where that was in really short supply. So thank you. For that. For taking care of things while we were gone. For making sure it still felt like home when we got back.”

“It’s good to have you back,” Mikaela said. “Home hasn’t felt the same without you. Now go,” she said, squeezing him before taking a step back. “You’re not the only person on my dance card.”

“Ahem,” Tucker said from behind him.

“Right,” he said, and nodded. He grabbed Tucker and said, “Thanks, Tuck.” He let go, and walked hastily away.

“That was…” Tucker trailed off. “I thought I was going to have to train the hose on him. Or a spatula. He looked like he might never let you go.”

“Poor guy’s been through… a lot doesn’t really cover it.”

“No,” Tucker said, his voice haunted. “I really do try not to pry, but… it felt like he was pushing it at me, thinking hard about it, when he hugged me. Not that he wanted to freak me out, but… I think he’s still having a hard time telling people just what he went through.”

“He also said a lot of nice things, about us, before you got here.”

“Oh, he said them to me, too, just mentally. You’d be surprised, honestly, how much you can get across when you don’t have to use language to do it; we had as much of a conversation as you did, just faster.”

“Good,” Mikaela said. “You deserve to hear good things about what we’ve accomplished, too.” Mikaela stared at the group of returned runaways, throwing their frisbee. “I wanted to talk. I know we didn’t have time, yesterday. It feels so much longer ago than yesterday.”

“We’re all on pandemic time,” Tucker said. “This last year’s taken an eon. And,” he poked his tongue into his cheek while he thought about his next words, “You don’t have to worry. I didn’t get the wrong idea. And I already know you didn’t.”

Mikaela frowned. “I’m going to need you to say shit out loud, because I don’t read minds.”

“The locket,” Tucker said. “I know how it looks, that I’ve been wearing it around. And I know you… pined for me, for a long time.”

“I’m not-”

Tucker held up his hand. “It’s okay. There’s no explanation needed. I missed the hell out of you, too; I think that’s why I was such a dick to you for a while. Because you were my best friend, too. When we stopped being together, that was hard for both of us. But losing our best friends, too- I don’t think I ever really understood how profound that pain was, for either of us, until you brought it up. And I realized what I did with that pain sucked; you didn’t deserve that, and I had no right to take things out on you.”

“We thought we were going to die when I said that; I’m a little surprised it inspired this much soul-searching.”

“I know, but… that was an important moment for me. I’d never really contemplated dying in other than in a distant sense, and it became a very real, very near possibility that day. I went from being afraid to die, to having a reason to fight to live. It gave us… I’m not saying we were completely back to being friends like we had been, but it built a bridge to where we could be. You’ve always been important to me, but since then, I’ve really been able to explore that. And I don’t mean romantically. I mean you’re my best friend. Always have been, really, since we met. And even when we weren’t really talking, it was still true- we were just both cut off from it. So yes, of course, obviously I love you, just not in the same way as I used to.”

“Thank God.”

“Hurts that you’re that relieved, a little,” Tucker said with a grin that distorted his face mask.

“Yeah, well, a lot of the pain we’ve been through the last few years was entirely because one of us wanted to move on while the other was stuck. Not even so you’d know how I felt would I wish that on you.”

“Besides- you already know I know how you felt,” Tucker said.

“That, too. But mostly… I don’t want to lose you again. We’ve been through that once, and it sucked worse than anything else I’ve been through- personally, I mean. So of course I love you, too, but I don’t ever want to be in a relationship with you again. God. I think I’m still a little traumatized from it.”

“Feel better? Now that we’re both on the same page, and it’s all out in the open?”

“Mostly,” Mikaela sighed. “It’s still kind of strange. Basically my entire emotionally mature life has had us as this huge, sometimes great sometimes awful fixture.”

“Always will be,” Tucker said. “Our relationship was really formative for both of us. I love who we are, now, but we wouldn’t be the awesome people we are today without that, including the pain and the crappy stuff. And I’m not trying to justify your anguish, or white-wash it, but I feel really lucky to be here with you right now, like this, and I know how fragile life can be. It wasn’t a given that we’d mend things, especially not with me passive-aggressively attacking you because I was hurting. I got really, really lucky,” he said, and rested his head on her shoulder.

“Get a room you two,” Iago said, sitting in the grass beside his brother.

“You didn’t think that through, did you?” Drake asked, sitting with his legs crossed.

“No,” he admitted, “and ew.”

“Does he ever, though?” Demi asked, dropping to one knee opposite Drake.

“Never intentionally,” Mayumi said, laying on her stomach.

“I’ve missed this,” Iago said. “All of us together, just relaxing, breathing for a moment in the sun… while all of you gang up on me.”

“You know we pick on people in direct correlation to how much we care about them,” Tucker said.

“Really?” he asked.

“No. You’re just a really easy mark. We do love you, though. In direct proportion to how simple you can be. So we really, really love you.”

“I wished I was adopted. To another family. On a different continent.”

“I think you’d have found us anyway,” Mikaela said. “You’re part of what makes this home for all of us. I don’t think there’s a world out there where we don’t all find one another.”

“In a different universe,” he added.

“About that,” Mikaela said, biting her lip.

“One cutoff from any interdimensional/extra-universal travel.”

“Uh oh,” Drake said. “He’s getting science fictional. We might have really hurt him this time.”

Iago sighed. “Nah. I can’t imagine being happy with any other group of knobs like I am here.”

Breed Book 4, Part 62


“It’s off, for the moment,” Ryan said with a gasp, collapsing back in his wheelchair. “And not a second too soon.”

“Oh?” Mikaela asked.

“Yeah. Because we just intercepted a message from the Attorney General. He was instructing Stacey to start using live rounds.”

“Jesus,” Tucker whispered.

“We stopped it over the phone, and over their radios. We’re playing whack-a-mole with their digital signals, but the message will get through; it’s really only a matter of time before we miss one channel. Then we’ll be back at an invading federal army willing to use kids and their parents for live-fire target practice. Then it’s kill or be killed, fucked as that sounds.”

“And what did you mean by, ‘for the moment?’” Tucker asked.

“Yeah. This device is more sophisticated than the one that they used at the campus. For one, it’s hard-wired into the power-grid, so without taking that down or disconnecting it, it’s going to have continuous power. Two, it’s not supposed to turn off electronically, so it will keep trying to fire itself back up until the physical keys used to turn it on are all inserted and turned- it’s similar to the old nuclear setup.”

“How long can you buy us?”

“Best-case scenario, taking turns tag-teaming it? Hours. But if the feds start encroaching, or worse, shooting, all bets really are off. I meant what I said, it’s kill or be killed, and I’m not sure they’ll let us leave even if we try to.”

“What can we do?”

“I don’t think we have a lot of options,” Mikaela said. “But I’m not going to let them turn us into the monsters they say we are; I won’t let them make us murderers.”

“You sound like you’ve got an idea.”

“Not a great one,” Mikaela said. “Same one as before, really. I pull out as many dupes as I can, and we get everyone behind me. I can buy time. They’ll get their body count, and maybe America will finally stop letting them treat us like-”

“Puerto Ricans.”

“I was going to say second-class citizens, but I guess that’s kind of a crowded field right now in this country.”

“I’m not sure how to feel about you creating a huge pile of dead Mikaelas,” Tucker said. “No; that’s not true. I don’t like it. But I don’t know if I could handle it if you were one of them.”

Mikaela cupped his cheek. “I am one of them- and they’re a lot of me.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I do. But right now we don’t get to have a tearful maybe-goodbye. Because I need to concentrate on timing this right; and you need to coordinate everyone to get back, and start filing away. We may only get the one shot at this. And I don’t-”

“Wait,” Ryan said, holding up his hand. The federal agents, to a man, stopped what they were doing. They set their weapons at their feet, turned, and left. The sole exception was Stacey, who paused a moment, speaking into his phone, before setting down his sidearm and walking away. 

“What happened?” Mikaela asked.

“Play it back for me,” Tucker said, “and I’ll broadcast it to our people. Give me a sec.” “This is Tucker,” Mikaela felt the thought, a warm sensation in the back of her head. “The feds were just given an order to stand down. It came directly from the Oval Office.”

Breed Book 4, Part 61


“Looks like you’ve lost your tanks,” Rox said, as the two remaining tanks opened and their crews crawled out, “and since the helicopter’s down I’m going to assume Oleg’s out, too.”

Raif rolled forward, knocking Rox flat on her back, and standing, drawing a holdout pistol from an ankle holster. “You aren’t winning; you understand that, right? All you’ve done is make us look weak. We look like the world’s crappiest tin-pot can push us around, get away with it, and then have us scurry over one another to lick his boots. You’re guaranteeing that he isn’t the last bigot to try something like this. All you’re doing is sending your own people to the gas chamber.”

“My own people?” Rox asked incredulously. “Who the fuck do you think you are? Because you’re sure as hell no one I’m laying claim to. I have wasted my youth trying to blunt the damage of extremist monsters like you. My friends have sweat, and bled, and nearly died to keep you from making life harder for people like us. You are the opposite of our people- and maybe you don’t understand this, but you’re worse than people like Drump- because you enable them to do what they want to us. You make the mild, moderate middle so terrified of us they cheer when he puts Breed kids in camps. But I agree. We haven’t won anything. But maybe, we lost less than we were going to, and I think that’s the best outcome that was on the table, thanks to people like you.”

“I have you dead to rights. And I’ve been working on something, though I don’t honestly know if it will work. I’ve always been able to strengthen other Breed abilities. I spent some time, working with Mira, and I think I figured out how to do the opposite, how to dial them back. I don’t want to kill you. But I will shoot you; I’m betting man enough to try it, if you don’t let me through.”

“You’d never make it. There’s an all but literal army between you and Drump.”

“That’s the difference between us; I was a soldier, and I will complete my mission, even if I have to lay down my life. But you want to try your luck, I can live with giving you a bullet.”

“Something men like you don’t ever seem to understand is there are kinds of luck you make yourself,” Rox said, and on instinct his finger began to curl around the trigger.

He heard the snap of a twig behind him and started to turn. A hand caught his arm just below shoulder, then another grabbed his forearm just below the elbow and twisted. He cried out in pain, and the next moment was lying on the ground, his arm twisted in an unnatural direction. “You broke my fucking arm.”

“And I’ll break the other if you don’t stand down,” Mira said.

“Oh, Mira,” he whimpered, “never could remember to keep your eye on the prize.” He rolled, firing from the hip.

The bullet struck her between the eyes, knocking her off her feet. Raif took off towards the White House as Rox ran to her, and rolled her over. She looked pristine, save for a bleeding hole in her forehead. “Goddamnit,” Rox yelled, pounding her fists into Mira’s limp torso.

“Ow,” Mira moaned. She touched her finger to the wound in her forehead. “Damnit, I bet that leaves a mark.” With the blood smeared away, the wound was visible as a small gash.

“I thought,” Rox said, having to stop to take in a jagged breath. “I know,” she said with a smile. “But right now I’ve got a bullet’s worth of kinetic energy to give back to that son of a bitch.” She leapt to her feet, taking increasingly longer steps as she gained speed far past regular human top speed, closing the distance with Raif in no time at all. At the last instant she leaned her shoulder forward, carrying all of her remaining momentum into him through it. He flew a dozen feet, landing face first in the grass, plowing a trench with his mouth. “You stay on the ground this time,” she said, “or this time I’ll put you under it.”

Breed Book 4, Part 60


“What’s the plan?” Demi asked, as a police baton bounced painfully off her skin. “Tuck?” she glanced back, and realized Mikaela and Tucker were gone. “Mai?” she asked, turning back towards the fed line.

“The plan is crumbling,” Mayumi said, holding both hands over her eye, but she couldn’t hold it tight enough to keep blood from seeping out between her fingers.

“You can’t heal that?” Demi asked.

“No. Like before, as the school, when that militia took over. You can’t feel it?”

Demi held up her hand, and electricity arced between her fingers. “I didn’t feel it,” Demi said, “not then or now.”

“That’s curious,” Mayumi said, “but it’s also a mystery for another time. This is going badly. We’re being routed. Either we change the dynamics, or people are going to die.”

“I could change them,” Demi said. “I could electrocute them ten at a time, relatively safely- you know, as safely as you can electrocute someone.”

“I somehow think killing a few feds will make things worse.”

“You two look like you could use some help,” Laren said, touching Demi’s shoulder.

“See,” Drake said, “I told you it wasn’t just me. Everyone’s abilities are off again.”

“I know,” Iago said, “I’ve just been sitting on that erectile dysfunction joke since the last time it happened.”

“I think there’s a joke in there about you sitting on something erectile- but I’m too preoccupied to figure it out.”

“You guys,” Demi said, scooping Drake up.

“That your phone in your pocket, or you just happy to see me?” Drake asked.

“I’m too much of a classy lady to tell you to push my buttons and find out,” she said, putting him down.

“We figured you needed an army,” Laren said, motioning to a whole new group of protestors filing out of buses. “Turns out Drump’s been recruiting and radicalizing one for you for years.”

“So these were the refugees they broke out of Gitmo. I thought we just smuggled them out of his grasp…” Demi said.

“We needed to buy a little time. We got them student visas, and have them set up as official students at your newly expanded school; it’s going to function as an academy with on-site housing, and courses for students from kindergarten through whatever college courses it offers- with talks about expanding into doctorate programs.”

“That’s… that’s huge.”

“They’re the future. It’s our job- the closest we have to a sacred duty- to safeguard them. I’m just pissed off at how long it took for enough people to stand up to get it done. You three,” she pointed to Drake, Iago and Mayumi, “coordinate, we need to reinforce the line and push them back.” She held back while they walked towards the gathered refugees. “Saw your zapper’s still zapping,” Laren said discreetly to Demi. “I think we can use that. The feds are using earpieces. That means power supplies. If you can fry those remotely, they stop being a unified occupying force, and become a bunch of lonely fascists alone in a sea of people- fascists we can isolate and contain.”

“That’s… an idea,” Demi said. “Might result in some burns.”

“Anything this side of fatal seems more than warranted, under the circumstances.” A fed tried to hit Laren with a baton, and she rammed her shoulder into his chest, then rolled him over her back, stripping him of his radio and the baton at the same time. She handed the radio to Demi, who keyed the radio and raised it toward the sky. Lightning fell from the clouds, passing through the radio, and into her hand.

The sound and feedback traveled through the radios, causing officers to tear their earpieces out, some screaming. Several radios burst into flames and had to be removed.

“That’s our opening,” Laren yelled, shoving forward. She was immediately flanked by Iago, Drake and Mayumi, with a line of refugees stepping in front of the beaten protestors.

Stacey raised a sidearm at Laren. “Not one more goddamned step!” he yelled.

Demi grabbed his arm at the wrist, and pushed the gun into the air. “Drop it,” she said, “or I roast all the skin off that hand.”

“Bull-” she sent a jolt of electricity into his arm, and his finger squeezed around the trigger.

Breed Book 4, Part 59


The Oval Office had been deathly still since Rox and Anita left. Mahmoud had shut down every electronic in the room, just in case there were any hidden panic buttons or bugs that might cause troubles- but also, because he needed the quiet, to be able to think. “I’ve been wondering, since I got here, if you recognized me,” Mahmoud asked.

“Should I?” Drump asked, the question dripping with contempt.

Mahmoud chuckled quietly. “You know? Yeah.” He turned, glaring at him. “Because I sure as hell remember you. Remember you calling for me to be put in Guantanamo, or deported. All because the racists at my school couldn’t tell the difference between a time piece and a bomb. I was one of the three racist pillars that began your Presidential run: Obama birtherism, Mexicans all being rapists, and me.”

“Oh. You’re that kid,” he said dismissively.

“And I’m not saying you should remember my face, but when condemning a child, I think it’s only fair you remember them. Then again, you’ve condemned a lot of children on your watch, haven’t you? First there were the camps, where kids got emotionally and sometimes physically abused. Then when the virus hit, your genocidal brown shirts started moving them around, just to make sure more of them got sick and spread it through the camps. Then you deported them anyway, and disappeared the Breed kids to Gitmo, because apparently the concentration camps just weren’t cruel enough for you.” Mahmoud slammed his gun onto the corner of the Resolute Desk.  

“You threw me in the deepest, darkest scariest hole you could. You treated me like a monster, and I’d be lying if I told you didn’t want to become one, to breath fire and snarl when I finally got loose. But that would make it easy on you. You’d get to justify your fear, and hate.” Mahmoud pulled up his shirt, revealing the scar from his feeding tube. “I stopped eating in Guantanamo. I lost all hope I’d ever leave that place. I just wanted to die. It wasn’t,” he breathed out raggedly. “I wasn’t doing it for change, or to get access to lawyers, or win back rights for my fellow detainees. Maybe that could have happened, too, but I was done. And they couldn’t even give me that freedom, to give up, so they violated my body to force me to stay alive.

“I was wrong, by the way. I’m breathing free air again, and I kick myself every time I realize I nearly lost that. No. I nearly let you take that away from me. You can’t hold a man’s head underwater and then blame him when he succumbs to drowning. That would have been a tragedy. But understand, I’m only here because of the heroic defiance of people like my friends out there. Whether you live or die today depends on people you have persecuted standing between you and harm. If your stochastic terrorism had hurt even one of the people defending you here today, it would all fall apart. You’d have killed yourself, and have no one to blame for it- though I imagine you’d try anyway.”

“Are you going to save me? Or did you come all this way just to watch me die?”

Mahmoud sighed. “I saved you before I started talking.” He closed his eyes, and the television came back on, and the phone started ringing. The muted television showed the two disabled tanks on the White House lawn. “I know you don’t apologize, and I’m not looking for you to be sorry. Maybe after this you’ll see people like me as more human than you did. We’re more human- and more decent– than you ever learned to pretend to be. But you’ll forgive me if I’m not holding my breath.”

“Get the fuck out of my office.”

“Don’t get comfortable. It won’t be yours for much longer.” He started towards the door. “Oh, and my friends and I are going to need pardons.”

“Like hell. You won’t make it off the lawn before my people grab you. I hope this was worth it, to lose your freedom all over again.” “You don’t understand,” Mahmoud said, turning around. “I have everything. The contents of your computers here. At your tower. In Florida. And the one Putin’s keeping for you; not smart keeping a back door into it in the Oval Office. And I don’t just have your tax returns, I have every skeleton you ever committed to paper, which is more than enough to find the rest. You help my friends, I might even wait until after the election to release it all. You know with one phone call I could get a much better deal, five months removed, from the next administration. Besides, you’ve pardoned far shadier people- and these ones just saved your fucking life. You owe them.”

Breed Book 4, Part 58


“You think this will work?” Tucker asked, nervously eyeing the advancing federal force.

“This is a metro area,” Mikaela said with a smirk. “Do you have any idea how many reflective surfaces there are? I could pull ten thousand dupes without having to think hard about it.” Mikaela reached out for her reflection in a nearby car’s side mirror. Her reflection didn’t reach back. Mikaela turned to Tucker. “You still wear that locket I gave you.”


“It wasn’t a question, and I don’t have time to be delicate.” Mikaela felt around his collar, and fished out the chain, with a locket attached. She opened it, revealing a mirror on one side. She couldn’t pull a duplicate out of the locket’s reflection, either. “My ability isn’t working.”

Tucker closed his eyes. “Mine either,” Tucker said, frowning. “I thought I was just caught up, in the moment, when you grabbed me, but the world went dark for me, too.”

“For all of us, or nearly all,” Stephen said, tapping on Mikaela’s shoulder. “Come with me.” He turned back towards the crowd, and started wading through. Huddled in a small alleyway were several students Mikaela recognized, including Ryan. They were standing in a makeshift circle, all with their eyes closed, struggling to concentrate. It reminded her of her physics class, where the instructor brought a device that passed enough current to painfully seize the hand of everyone in a circle. She couldn’t remember what the lesson had been, only that it hurt, and quickly became an endurance test.  

“Hey,” Ryan said, opening his eyes for a moment before closing them again, his lip twitching with effort.

“What is this?” Tucker asked.

“I’m not a technopath,” Stephen said, “so this is all second-hand, but apparently they’ve been working to reverse engineer the device the militia used on the campus, the one that shut down our abilities.”

“And definitely came from the Federal government in the first place,” Tucker said.

“Yeah. Part of what they were studying was whether or not they could counteract the device, especially remotely. Resisting its influence, essentially.”

“And the verdict?” Mikaela asked.

 “Bit of a mixed bag,” Ryan said, opening his eyes. “We’ve been able to keep it from completely shutting down our abilities, but it’s like tensing a muscle- you can’t do it indefinitely, and it gets harder with each passing second to keep it up.”

“Can you shut it down?” Mikaela asked.

“I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s like I’m already fighting every cell in my body. I don’t just taste blood, I smell it, see it,” a bloody tear wept from his eye. “Trying to disable it remotely might kill us.”

“Faster than they will?” Tucker asked, pointing at the police line, now stampeding towards them through the vulnerable protestors as their defensive lines crumpled. The loud report of a gunshot rang over even the yelps of pain and the cacophony of the protestors and the rioting federal agents.

“We’ll try,” Ryan said. “But you might want to start working up a plan B, for if we all start stroking out.”

Breed Book 4, Part 57

Note: Shows what yesterday me knew. The instant I posted about struggling to finish this monster chapter… it came together. So here it is, on time. I’m as surprised by that as you are.


“Nita?” Rox called out from behind cover. “We seem to be missing some of our playmates. If Oleg’s here-”

“Then there’s a good chance that the rest are skulking around, yeah. Give me some cover while I flip through the drafts.” She closed her eyes, as Sonya threw a timed bomb near to Raif to keep him off balance. “Shit, they’re-”

“Behind you,” Juana said, dropping out of one of the trees, close enough Rox felt the movement of the air she displaced. Rox drop to one knee, then rolled to the next tree in the stand as Juana fired several shots from an energy gun in her wake.

“Appreciate the not-very-early warning,” Rox said, diving at Juana, hitting her in the hip and knocking both of them into a tree. Juana slid around the tree to avoid several shots from Anita, who kneeled beside Rox.

“No problem. But you need to take Raif.” Anita grabbed her head and forced it down, behind a root as a bullet struck where she’d been. “There’s too much open ground between him and us; any of the rest of us get shot in the face if we try to make it. I can handle the spook.”

“The spook?” Rox asked.

“Oh, right, sorry, skipping ahead. I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. But she’s going to keep me tied up for the duration. And you’ll have to keep an eye on Ben, or he’s going to make a mistake he won’t be able to live with.”

“I hate when you start in with this cryptic bullshit.”

“Yeah, well, bitch to the assholes who mutilated me that I can’t see far enough into the future with enough clarity for your liking. But do it tomorrow, when we’re not in the middle of a fucking gunfight.”

The sound of the cannon on the tank firing shook Rox out of the conversation. She glanced in the direction of the three tanks, and saw that the two Oleg had struck had fired on the third tank, severely damaging its armor. “Sonya,” she yelled, “can you run interference? Rui looks like he could use a hand.”

*             *             *

“Sure,” Sonya said, sprinting across the open field, “I’ve always wanted to race at a pair of tanks, hoping Secret Service agents wouldn’t shoot me in the back.” She spun in mid-air, flinging a timed explosive in the direction of Raif, landing facing the tank and beginning to run again.

As she approached, she noticed the nearest tank’s turret turning towards her. At first she assumed it was just a coincidence, that it couldn’t be tracking her, but it overshot the stand of trees, and the Secret Service, and was getting ever closer to sighting her in. “Oh, well that’s just dickish,” she said, diving out of the way. She wondered, as she fell towards the nicely manicured grass whether the tank were using any kind of an explosive shell, in which case it wouldn’t matter if it missed, because close enough would still catch her with fire and shrapnel; at least then her last word would be ‘dickish.’

She landed hard, rolling savagely as she heard the tank’s shell fire. She seemed to keep going, and for a moment she wondered if the shell’s explosion had thrown her. Finally she came to a stop, and when she opened her eyes she could see the nearly clear sky, populated by a handful of small, puffy clouds. “Looked like that hurt,” Rui said, offering her his hand.

“I thought you were fighting the guy in the helicopter,” she said.

“Was,” he said, shrugging. “But I was having a bit of a problem; if I’m tangible, he can zap me; if I’m not I can’t hit him. I needed something to help me break the impasse.”

“Wait,” she realized as she took his hand that he was already transmuting his arm into a plasma again, and used it to swing her ballistically at the helicopter. As she reached the top of the arc and felt gravity tugging at her again, she realized the landing gear was in front of her and swiped to grab it. “Not cool!” she yelled, hanging from the bottom of the helicopter by one hand.

“Sorry about that,” Rui said, floating next to her. “I was worried you’d catch a bullet if I was trying to fly you slow-mo up here.”

“And if I hadn’t caught myself?”

“I’d have caught you eventually… just further down the arc.”

“You’re going to wake up with so many boomlets in your pants,” she said, as he helped her up onto the landing gear. “We have a plan?”

“You go left, I’ll go right. And remember that there’s a pilot or two in there; so try not to violently crash the thing.”

“I’m also on the thing,” she said.

“All the more reason not to violently crash it, I’d think,” he said, and flew around to the other side. Sonya crept along the landing gear, aware of how precariously she was balanced. When she reached the cockpit door, she leaned across. Oleg was standing in the middle of the cockpit, between two pilots strapped into their seats; he was distracted, between controlling the helicopter and the two tanks, and didn’t see her, or Rui smiling at her from the opposite window. He pantomimed a three, then started holding up one finger, then two, and on the third, he opened his door wide. A column of electricity emanating from Oleg slapped him in the chest, and he fell.

Sonya opened her door, tossed in a boomlet, and slammed it shut. Oleg turned slowly, trying to figure out what was happening. Just as he saw her, the boomlet’s field dissipated, and the anti-matter inside reacted violently with the matter in the air. The explosion knocked Oleg into the back wall of the cockpit, where he slumped.

Sonya opened the door, and poked the nearest pilot. He was unconscious, at least, still smoking from where Oleg electrocuted him. “Uh,” she jabbed the copilot, who was similarly nonresponsive. “This is going to be a problem,” she said, looking at the complex panel of controls, and the gas gauge hovering near the red line.

“Don’t know how to fly?” Rui asked, entering the far door. He sat on the copilot’s lap and took the stick, easing the helicopter slowly down. “I… may have cajoled our pilot to show me how to.”

“Your family had a pilot?”

“Still does, so far as I know.”

One of the tanks fired again, this time the round penetrated the armor of the tank enough to stop its treads from moving. “Um, that shouldn’t be happening, right?” Sonya asked.

Rui lifted up Oleg’s hand then dropped it, and it clanged loudly on the metal floor. “Well… he’s not conscious… but maybe part of his unconscious is still in charge of the tanks?”

“Either way,” Sonya said, “we need to get the personnel out of there before they get hurt.”


*             *             *

Anita wiped blood from her mouth. “I know who you are, why you’re here, and I can state unequivocally we don’t have to do this,” Anita said, putting up her hands.

“And if I’ve been looking forward to this since the last time I kicked your ass?”

“I’d say that sounds like an odd, internally-inconsistent revision of history; if you kicked my ass, why would you care if you got to kick it again? Sounds more like a revenge fantasy, but you need something to venge, which doesn’t make sense unless you lost. But if you’ve been fantasizing about me kicking your ass all over again, I’m happy to indulge you; might even have a set of stilettos that would make the kicking more pleasurable for you, if that’s part of your kink.”

“You’re a horrible woman, you know that?”

“Given the company you’ve been keeping, Juana, I think the lady doth protest too much.”

“Plus, this time, you’re gunshot. Kind of gives me an unfair advantage; on the other hand, I never really planned to fight fair, anyway.”

 “Me, neither,” Anita said, backing around the tree.

“Running alrea-” Juana stopped, as a bullet impacted her shoulder, pushing her back into a tree hard enough to knock the wind from her lungs. “Fuck,” she said, sliding down the tree and sprawling.

“Hit you in the armor,” Anita said, “but there, now we’re both gunshot. Now, I assume you’ve been briefed on what I do. So you could take my word for it that you lose this fight, all over again, and all you get to show for it are a couple of the not sexy kind of scars.”

“That’s wrong; all scars are sexy.”

“I’m mostly inclined to agree, but I’m not usually a taste-maker.”

“And I know you well enough to know you’d bluff if you weren’t going to win this fight, so your ‘insight’ is worthless to me.”

“Okay,” Anita said, removing the Kabar she wore at her hip from its sheath. “If you’re inclined to do this, we can do this. But I’ll tell you how your first attack is going to go; I’m going to stab your through the forearm, in the space between the radius and ulna; I could cause you permanent disability just by twisting it, but things are going well for us, so I don’t think I have to. I’ll leave it where it is, because the serrated back of my knife,” she held it up for Juana to see, “would shred the absolute shit out of your arm if I did. You’d think that would give you an edge, right? It won’t.”

Juana advanced, forming her pistol into a long Bowie knife. She feinted, first left, then right, then reeled back to slip the knife in Anita’s guts, only to throw the knife at the last second into her off-hand for a thrust from above her head. Anita caught the strike with her hand, then buried her Kabar in Juana’s forearm. Then she kneed her in the thigh, putting her off-balance enough to roll her over her shoulder, landing painfully on her back on the ground.

“I’d stay down,” Anita said. “You only end up with another cut. Oh, yeah, and then one of the Secret Service shoots you. This one misses the vest. I’d give you even odds of bleeding out, though that’s always hard to know. Apparently whatever message you tried to pass them through discreet channels didn’t find them- or the agent who shoots you is as bigoted as his boss and doesn’t care who you really are.”

“You really are a cunt,” Juana said, nursing her arm as she dropped her blade.

“I know; my mom always told me that was one of my better qualities.” 

Juana narrowed her eyes. “Did you just manipulate me? Make me use a knife, psychologically hint at how and why you’d win to nudge me into getting there?”

“Huh. I don’t think that’s how my ability works,” Anita said. “But it’s an interesting theory. No. I’m pretty sure you just didn’t listen to reason because you’re stubborn. You can lead a horse to water, but sometimes you can’t stop a donkey from stabbing itself in the dick.”

“I am so depressed right now that I lost to you.”

“Most tend to be. I try not to be insulted by it.”  

*             *             *

Rox waited until Raif’s rifle clacked on an empty chamber. He was overwhelmed, coordinating a fight against them and the Secret Service, all while trying to remember how to be a soldier and use is ability to amp up his comrade’s abilities. He reloaded quick, but the Secret Service kept him pinned enough he didn’t see Rox circling around until it was too late. He tried to spin, aiming the barrel at her, but she was already too close, and blocked the movement of his arm, so all he could do was fire a few rounds near over her shoulder.

She raised her knee, and he moved his leg to protect his groin, only to find too late that it was a feint, and she drove her raised foot into the knee where he was holding all of his weight. It popped out, and he howled in pain, dropping his rifle into the dirt. He tried to stand, but couldn’t put weight on it. “You remembered,” he said from the ground, a hint of tenderness in his voice.

“Because I’m not a sociopath. Though back then, I thought I was learning about my friend’s limitations, not a foe’s weakness.”

He managed to get himself propped against a tree, with his knee at least in the right position. “I never wanted us to be enemies.”

“Then maybe you need to reexamine your life choices,” she said. “Like declaring war on the dominant species on the planet. Even if we were the victors, there’d be so many people dead- on both sides; there’s no winning a genocidal war, you absolute prick.” She leaned in close. “And know, if anything happens to my friends today, it will not matter what hole they toss you in. I will fucking come for you, and they will never find all the fucking pieces of you.”

He grabbed her hair, but she wrapped her forearm around his throat, cutting off air through his windpipe. “You are such a predictable asshole,” she said.

*             *             *

Ben heard the noise, the one from his brother’s last message to him. It wasn’t the first time he heard it outside of the message; that sound haunted his dreams, and any moment he let himself focus too much on what happened to his home. But this wasn’t in his head. This was real, vibrating through the air.

He was running towards it before he ever realized- past a swarm of Secret Service agents who were more focused on the tanks they’d lost control of than him. The noise was coming from the far side of the lawn, around back of the White House- but coming towards him, fast. At the last-minute he stepped to the side, and managed to latch on as the source of the noise flew past. The noise was louder, hanging onto the spindly man’s back, enough that Ben had to forcibly calm the movement of its waves through the air to keep it from deafening him.

Even with Ben in tow, they were still gaining speed, heading towards the rest of the fight. Ben knew he needed to slow, and clocked the man in the head. That threw him off-balance, and the pair of them went rolling through the grass, coming to the stop against one of the tanks.

Ben’s world was spinning. He never expected to hear that sound again- both wanted it more than anything and was terrified of what he’d do if he did. And here the source was, stunned and at his feet.

“You,” the man said, although now that he was moving slower, Ben could see he likely wasn’t older than seventeen, “you look familiar. I think I might have met your brother.” Ben kicked the boy across the face. “Certainly kick like him,” he said. There was something in his voice he recognized from childhood that reminded him of a childhood friend.

Ben covered his face with his hand and said, “You’re deaf, aren’t you?” He didn’t respond, didn’t even seem to acknowledge the words. Ben removed his hand, and repeated it, and he nodded. An instant later, and he was standing behind Ben, and he heard the noise again, this time too loud and fast for him to mitigate. He felt it in his skull, in all of his bones, like he was being microwaved. 

“It’s harmonics,” the other man said. “Breed physiology is ever so slightly different from vanilla human. To a human, this would hurt, excruciatingly, but not do any lasting damage. To a Breed, at this intensity, it can be fatal. I don’t want it to be; I don’t want to fight at all. I just want to put things right again.” 

Ben was dizzy; there were moments until he passed out from the pain. He concentrated, trying to isolate the phase. He’d done it before as a party trick, but never attempted anything like this in a fight. Suddenly the tone was gone, that sound that had haunted him barely perceptible, like music heard through a wall. “I canceled out the tone you use,” Ben said, “using an antiphase wave of the same amplitude.” He punched the other man in the face. “So while you contemplate your powerlessness, why don’t you tell me why you killed everyone in my home town.” Ben hit him again, his lip burst from the impact, blood trickling down his pale skin.

“I’m Colby,” he said. He was trembling; they both were, and only some of it was related to their abilities. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that… Raif said- I was supposed to scare them, maybe hurt them, just a little, get them to see that the broader struggle was their struggle, too- that just because they were relatively safe and comfortable on the reservation didn’t mean that they could sit this out. I’d never tried to use my power on more than one person at a time, and when Raif boosted me… it caused a chain reaction. I was horrified, when your brother died; it was like I lit a fuse, and after it burnt through him, it started in on the next person. I tried to stop it, but I couldn’t. I just had to sit and watch as they died, one after another.”

Ben hit him again, and again. “You killed everyone I grew up with. Everyone who knew me as a kid. I don’t care if it was a fucking accident. Because this sure as hell won’t be.” He grabbed onto Colby’s head and squeezed. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, but everything in him told him to push, put his thumbs through his eyes, his fingers through his windpipe and shake the hole thing until his scrambled brains dribbled out of his ears.  

*             *             *

“He’ll kill him,” Raif said around Rox’s forearm against his trachea.

“Not sure we’ve had a Native American genocide of the kind this century; seems like he’s got it coming.”

Raif swallowed around her arm, then let out a wounded sigh. “It was my fault. I didn’t tell him I was going to augment his attack on the tribe. He was a scared kid, kind that will go out of his way not to hurt flies, let alone a human being; I didn’t think he was going to push it far enough, really scare them like we needed. I though I had to push him. I didn’t realize what would happen.”

“I’m not Mira; I’m a lot less inclined to give you anything close to a pass.”

“I’m not asking for me. Colby doesn’t deserve to die for my mistake. He’s a kid. You were all kids. I’ve done a piss-poor job or protecting you. I don’t want his death on my head, too.”

“Goddamnit.” Rox drew her gun.

“I can make the shot if you can’t,” he said.

“Quiet, or I’ll put a round in you first,’ she said. She tossed the pistol over her shoulder without glancing back to aim, and it struck Ben in the side.

“Ow!” he yelled. “What the fuck?”

“I’m pretty sure he’s down, dickhead,” Rox yelled back.

Ben looked at Colby, limp in his hands, and recoiled.

“Ow,” Colby moaned from the grass.

“Oh, thank God,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Wasn’t expecting that response,” Colby whimpered.

“I’m not saying I’ve given up completely on the idea of killing you- just that I’d feel bad if it was an accident.”

“I’m sorry,” Colby whispered.

“Yeah, well, maybe if my brother were here, he’d accept that. He was always the better man. It’s your fault you’re stuck with me.”

Breed Book 4, Part 56

Note: The next update is a whopper, more like 3-5 updates in one; as such it might be late, but I’m hoping to have it up no later than Monday (and hoping further to have built up a cushion this weekend, too).


Stacey counted down from five on the fingers of one hand, then picked up a bullhorn. “This gathering is unlawful, and has been hereby designated a riot. Anyone remaining will be dealt with harshly, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Law-abiding, human citizens are encouraged to leave the premises in an orderly fashion; those remaining will receive the same treatment, regardless of status.” Stacey threw the bullhorn over his head, where it was caught by a subordinate, and started to swagger forward. The police line followed his lead, inching towards the protestors.

“Defensive use only,” Mikaela reiterated loudly, and Tucker broadcast the thought to the entire crowd.

Every twelfth man in the advancing line fell back a few paces, shifting to raise grenade launchers that had hung from slings, and fired. The grenades didn’t exit the guns, and instead stayed within the barrels, where they started to leak tear gas into the police line. “Masks!” Stacey yelled, and they quickly covered their faces with protective gear.

“Nice work, EMKs,” Mikaela said.

“Batons,” Stacey yelled, pulling his off his belt. He was within striking distance of the students’ line.

“Defenders!” Mikaela yelled, with Tucker amplifying it telepathically.

Mayumi stepped from between them, with Demi on her side, part of a front line extending the length of the protest. Some of the Breed now standing between in the way of the advancing federal agents carried improvised shields or barriers, some made from trashcan lids, others formed from ice; one of the EMKs had built his out of a stop sign, with the lettering pointed at the feds. The big man Mayumi called earlier brought his baton down on her shoulder, and it shattered into splinters. “Metal bones,” she said, staring up at him angrily.

Stacey swung at Demi, who ducked, then snatched the baton from him and broke it in half in her hands. She handed both pieces back to him, and he hit her on either side of the head with each piece. She glared at him as lightning struck the street a block away. “Tougher than you look,” he said.

“Funny,” she said, “I was thinking the opposite; you act a lot tougher than you are, and your insecurities are definitely justified. Probably inadequacies, too.”

Stacey screamed, reeled back to throw a punch; Mayumi stepped into it, and his wrist made a wet snapping noise when his hand hit her head. “Says she’s got metal bones,” the big man said to Stacey.

A defender on the other side of Mayumi took a beanbag round to the chest, and fell to the street, hacking up blood. “This isn’t working,” Demi said. “Their sadism more than matches any potential shame that might curb it.”

“What do you think?” Mikaela asked Tucker, ducking a chunk of Stacey’s broken baton hurtling through the air.

“It’s a powder keg,” Tucker said. “The students and their family want to hit back; it’s infectious– it’s all I can do not to crawl over Mayumi and start kicking. And the feds are itching for any excuse to take the gloves the rest of the way off. Seriously, you look at the wrong one of them cross-eyed and they’re going to start firing rubber bullets at point blank range- Christ, and they’ve been practicing aiming for the head with them. Can I turn a few of them off? I probably can turn them back on again when it’s over.”

“That might just give them the excuse they need,” Mikaela said, as another defender down the line fell under a barrage from a baton. “But we’re getting overwhelmed here. This is bad; we don’t have the numbers to passively resist, and our defenders are getting beaten to shit. Your brother?”

“Still not answering his phone, which could mean nothing, because he regularly either forgets to charge it or leaves the ringer off, or could mean the cavalry never made it into the country.”


“Same. Except he’s marginally better about answering his phone, usually.”

“Can you reach out to them telepathically?”

“Generally, no. Trying to find one head a hundred miles north is… it’s more like a bunch of piles of spilled toothpicks, rather than a haystack. But not while coordinating a peaceful- duck.”

Mikaela didn’t move fast enough, and caught Stacey’s elbow in the face. Blood streamed down her face from both nostrils. “I can beef up the numbers,” Mikaela said.

“They aren’t exactly expendable,” Tucker said.

“Yeah,” she said, sniffing to suck back in some of the blood, “but they don’t know that.”