Breed Book 4, Part 29

Note: Jesus Christ, we’re already back full circle. Well, like I said two weeks ago, I’m going to try and keep going, til the wheels come off. Might start taking Saturdays off, just so I can have a little more me time (by which I mean family time, and not literally me time- nothing gross should be inferred from this); I think I’ve been de facto doing that unintentionally because I keep getting caught up over the weekend and missing a posting. Also, just a note on continuity, I think the chapter with Mahmoud is going to be first, so 29 brings us back to Rox’s group, and we’ll be going back and forth going forward.


Rox couldn’t sleep. They drove all night to get over the border into Texas, but now that they were back in the US, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were being pursued.

Mahmoud felt it too. At least, that would explain the way his breath kept hitching, and the way he was twitching. He was sharing the other Queen bed with Rui and Ben, nearest the Queen she was sharing with Sonya and Anita. Suddenly, he sat bolt upright, screaming. The lights went off, the alarm, the television- every electronic in the room shut down at once. Rox was already on her feet, running to the window, and watched as a shockwave washed through the nearby city, killing every light in its path.

“Goddamnit,” Mahmoud muttered, standing beside her.

“I don’t blame you- I don’t. But you just lit a signal flare even the Drump Administration dummies could see from space. We can’t be here when they get here.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice dripping with self-loathing.

“Shut up.”

“Sorry. You don’t need my whining right now.”

“No. I mean shut up,” she grabbed him aggressively and his instinct told him to fight, to get away, hit her if he had to. His fists were balled, without even thinking about it; a wave of shame shook through him when he realized she was hugging him. “You have every right to be upset, to be traumatized. It’s going to take time for things to even approach a semblance of okay. So don’t take it out on yourself. I want to collapse into a weeping ball just thinking about what you’ve been through- and I know I can’t truly understand it without having lived through it. So if you need to freak out sometimes, if you need to cry, if you just need to be held,” she squeezed his ribs tighter for emphasis, “we’re all here for you- at least as best we can be. We’re all dealing with this open wound of a world, and we all have days and nights like the one you’re having. But the absolute last thing you need to do is apologize. We’ve been there. We are there. We’ll be there again tomorrow. But we’re here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to help.”

“Yeah,” Rui said, yawning, “what she said.”

“Shit,” Mahmoud said. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”

“If it makes you feel any better, Rox was the one who woke us up,” Ben said from beneath a pillow. “Just as well,” Rox said. “We need to be in the van in 5-” she was interrupted by Sonya, snoring loudly. “And somebody wake Sonya.”

Breed Book 4, Part 28


“What can I do to help?” Rox asked.

“I just spoke to Mira,” Mikaela said.

“You what?”

“We talked. Not the first time. She’s conflicted. Still more of who we knew than I, at least, might have thought. But that’s why she came to me. She wasn’t sure what to do, and wanted my help. So I’m helping. She needs to be stopped.”

“Agreed.” Rox thought a beat. “You mean something specific, don’t you?”

“They’re going to try to kill the President.”

“Of the school?” Rox asked.

“Of the country.”

“Oh.” She pondered a moment. “So?”

“Okay, I know what you mean. But if one of us kills him, we go from being that minority he oppressed for years because of his massive insecurities to that dangerous group who martyred him and need to be oppressed indefinitely to save society.”

“Oh, right,” Rox said, “because we live in a world where even when a rare good thing happens, the consequences render it actually bad.”

“You know the Secret Service is definitely listening into this call by now, right?”

“Yeah, but I’ve been off their Christmas card list for a while, anyway. But hopefully you have more to go on that that. Because otherwise I don’t see how we can actually help- especially since we can’t exactly move freely about in D.C.” 

“You can help because you know Mira., and that should get you close enough for your luck to take hold. If you can find her, you can stop this, Maybe even stop that bloated asshole from saying so many bigoted things about us.”

“Hah. Thanks I needed a laugh, after all of that. Oh, and do me a favor. There’s going to be a bunch of new students coming to the campus. Help them adjust- because it is going go be one hell of an adjustment. And take care of them. This can be an awful, lonely, shit-filled world. Don’t let them drown in it.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“You know if you don’t I’m coming home and kicking your ass, right?”

“Almost makes me want to half-ass it, just to get you home. You deserve that, you know? You were kids when you left. Nobody deserves to be exiled from their homes like this.”

“We’ve got each other. That’s almost the same thing.” “Yeah,” Mikaela said. “Almost.”

Breed Book 4, Part 27


“You have friends in Cuba?” Rox asked, wiping strawberry milkshake from her lips.

“The Bureau of Breed Affairs didn’t exist a decade ago. When it started, it started in a hurry, recruited from other U.S. Agencies.”

“You were a spook,” Anita said. “I knew there was a reason I didn’t like you.”

“Takes one to know one- or is that why you also hate yourself?” Laren asked.


“That’s a lousy reason to hate yourself,” Laren said, touching Anita shoulders. “You’re beautiful no matter what genitalia you have.”

“But the other refugees?” Rox pressed.

“The Cuban government was happy to take them, at least for now, just to show up the U.S. Gives them a black eye and a half; they didn’t just turn them away, no, they spirited them away to a black site, then lost them into the welcoming arms of the Cubans. Not that we can assume things will stay hunky dory. For now, the Cubans will keep them safe and happy because it fits their propaganda. But hopefully come November we can permanently settle them in the U.S. Though ironically, if we can get Cuba to give them permanent status here the US will welcome them as refugees with open arms.”

“And the Americans?” Sonya asked.

“Those we can take straight back to the states. I’ve arranged a flight directly into Bellingham. Two, actually- one into Seattle- that’s the one on the books, so if Drump does try to intervene, he’ll be at the wrong damn airport interdicting an empty plane. We’ll be going directly to the campus. They’ll be safer there, at least in the short-term. I called the Dean, and he’s offered to give them all honorary status at the school until they can figure out their next steps.”

“How you liking your shake?” Ben asked.

“Well,” Mahmoud said, stabbing his straw into it, “for the last year or so, I’ve eaten nothing but nutritional pastes, first force-fed, then eventually through a hole in my side.”


“But this tastes way better. Plus, it isn’t prison food.”

“How’s that taste?” Rui asked.

“You ever had a dream that felt like it lasted years, and when it took a turn you just felt this heavy, pervasive, suffocating dissatisfaction, like life wasn’t worth living anymore?”

“Yeah.” Rui said.

“And then you wake up. And everything awful- well, maybe not everything, but at least the worst of it, the shit you thought you couldn’t handle- it’s gone. And your life is back, and normal.” A tear slid down his cheek. “I still kind of can’t believe that I’m not going to wake up back in that cell. And that’s everything.”

Breed Book 4, Part 26


Ben was out of breathe, nearly doubled-over from the exertion of running to their position on the beach. “You want the good,” he paused to inhale jaggedly, “or the bad news?”

“Well, you’re here,” Rox said, “which means you aren’t trying to slow down the Army anymore. Can’t imagine what the good news even would be.”

“I finally stopped throwing up.”

“He’s lying,” Rui said, landing beside him. “He just ran out of things to throw up.”

“And I say that still counts.”

They heard the sound of a bullhorn keying, then a voice blared at them across the sand. “This is Colonel Samuel Peters of the United States Army. You are all under arrest. Lay face down, hands laced behind your head, and you have my guarantee none of you will be harmed.” The colonel and a handful of his executive staff stood at the front of a column of soldiers and armored vehicles.

“Rox?” Sonya asked.

She looked to her left, at the throng of refugees, most of them children, all of them looking worse for wear even after Cris had seen to their worst injuries, then to her right, and a contingent of American forces. As if to hammer home the contrast, a pair of tanks pulled up to either side of the colonel. “We can’t win,” Rox said. “But we can buy them time to get away. I’m going to do that. Anybody who doesn’t feel like facing down a tank, I’m sure they could use someone leading them away.”

“They’ll figure it out,” Ben said. “Because we’re not going anywhere.”

“Duh,” Sonya said.

“I was just going to fly away,” Rui said, “but Tombstone was always one of my favorite movies.”

“And here I was thinking I wasn’t going to get a chance to hurt anyone after what they did in that base…” Anita said, a disturbing grin growing on her face.

“Okay, we were having a moment until that,” Sonya said, wrinkling her nose. “That smile is really creeping me out.”

“Do we survive this?” Rox asked Anita.

“I was so excited,” Anita said, reaching for her holster, “I nearly forgot to- oh. Damnit.” Her hand dropped limply to her side.

“That bad?”

“No. Wait for it.”

“United States forces, you are hereby ordered to stand down by the sovereign nation of Cuba,” they heard, over a second, crappier bullhorn.

“Wait,” Ben said, “is that-”

“Yes, it’s her.” Anita said, scowling. Laren was marching across the sand with a handful of officers from the Cuban Army. She motioned for Rox and the rest to join them.

“Should I?” Mahmoud asked.

“Wouldn’t be a party without you,” Sonya said, motioning for him to follow.

As they approached, they could hear the Colonel yelling. “We have air support, numerical and technical superiority, and the full might of the U.S. Federal Government. You’ve got a bunch of prepubescents, half of which can barely stand up straight.”

Laren looked up at the sky as a drone buzzed them, then turned to Mahmoud. “I want that drone at my feet.” Rox tensed, uncertain he was up for it.

The drone turned to make another pass, but this time kept angling, until it was pointed at the ground. It struck land ten feet from them, digging a trench and throwing sand until it came to a stop just in front of Laren, who put her boot on its hull.

“Do you have any idea how much those cost?” the colonel bellowed. He turned to his men and ordered, “Arms at the ready.”

“Radios,” Laren said, “no permanent damage.”

Mahmoud pinched the air and twisted, and their radios shrieked in unison through the earpieces, loud enough to be heard even ten feet away. Soldiers fell to their knees, or dropped their weapons, before turning off their radios.   

“Now,” Laren said, stepping towards the colonel, “you gentlemen seem to have brought all manner of flyswatters to this thing, but what I think you even to this moment don’t get is this: you’re the flies. Tanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Mahmoud said, raising his arms.

“No way,” the colonel said.

The tanks rolled to an angle, blocking the colonel and his staff from Laren. Their turrets turned towards him and his men, backstopped by the opposite tank.

“Now, given that the U.S. is congenitally prone to swinging its dick around, regardless of the circumstances, even that might not be enough to dissuade you. But let me be clear, boys, we aren’t alone here. Nor are we invaders. We’re refugees, officially welcomed by the Cuban government. You might recognize our welcoming committee coming over that hill, a company from the Cuban military. They’re here, of course, with a dual mission, to welcome us, and to escort you back to your base, which you have clearly mistakenly wandered away from. Because if this isn’t an accident, it’s an armed incursion into sovereign Cuban territory. And that can’t possibly be what happened here.”

“What the fuck is the CIA even doing here?” the colonel gasped.

“I’m sure Langley is on the phone asking your superiors the opposite question as we speak. Now run along home, before we decide to keep your toys, or maybe leave them in Cuba for whoever might want them. Don’t forget your drone.”

Breed Book 4, Part 25


“You should have left me,” Mahmoud said, halfway to tears. He couldn’t be sure if it was because he was worried about his friends, or because for the first time in way too long he could feel the ocean breeze through his hair, feel the warmth of the sun on his skin.

“Obviously that wasn’t happening,” Rox said. “And if we’d known you were there, it wouldn’t have taken us this long to come for you. I’m sorry for that.”  

“I’m going to be sick,” he said, doubling over.

“Yeah, ocean’ll do that to you,” Sonya said, “and Ben.” Ben was still bent over the side of the ship, throwing up loudly. But he raised his middle finger back at her.

“No,” Mahmoud shook his head, “at the thought of anything happening to you. Any of you.”

“Even Ben?” Sonya asked.

“Well, we’ve had years of feeling sick over what happened to you, and I guarantee that would pale if we left you in that hole a second longer than we had to.”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Anita said, “but I need a minute. Mahmoud seems to be the most lucid of the technopaths. And I have to ask.”

“I can’t shut down their communications,” he said. “They have redundancies built in, which probably wouldn’t be enough, if I didn’t feel cross-eyed and stoned, and like I’ve spent years chained up in a basement having my nuts stomped in- wait…”

“Figured they weren’t going to make it easy to keep the genie in the bottle. I just wanted an update.”

“They can’t come for us by sea- seem to have had trouble with their shipyard. They’ve got drone support, but haven’t been able to get permission to go weapons hot; seems like even they don’t know how many of us are U.S. citizens. But they’re shadowing us from the coast, close enough they’ll hit the beach within minutes of when we do. And we may be lucky if the boats make it that far.”

“Why’s that?”

“They’re overloaded, and straining.”

“Damnit,” Rox said. “Rui?”

He jumped up from where he was sitting next to Ben, who was still vomiting loudly. “Yeah, boss?”

“I need you airborne. Start air-lifting people to the beach. Start with our people, Tso first. Disrupt the roads if you can. Sonya? ‘Nita. See if anybody else here can fly, teleport or otherwise move people to the beach. We need as much of a head start as we can get.”

“I thought we were home free once we hit the beach,” Anita said.

“Legally, yeah. But since when has that ever stopped the US Army?”

“Speaking of government folk, did we leave Laren behind? While that might be funny, I’d feel a little bad… that I didn’t get to throw a pie in her face before we left.”

“She said she made other arrangements.”

“And you were going to tell us when?” Anita asked.

“She only told me when we landed. It was go or no go, at that point. We were going. I didn’t figure you’d just want to wait for us. Besides, you’re the last person who can complain about compartmentalizing- unless you’re ready to lay all of your cards on the table.” “Fair point.”

Breed Book 4, Part 24


Cris was sweating like a hog. It wasn’t the climate; this was enough like Guatemala to feel homey, but he’d never put his ability through this kind of a workout before. He wasn’t sure where the upper limit of his healing ability was… but he could feel himself edging closer to it. Worse, he could see how the girl holding the guard at gunpoint was getting more anxious, and she was the only thing between the rest of them and an entire base of military personnel.

“Glad to see you’re still in one piece,” he nearly jumped at the words beside his ear. “Sorry,” Rox said, “didn’t mean to startle you.”

“She’s lying,” Anita said. “On the way over she would talk of nothing but.”

“That’s fine,” he said, standing. “But I know who to ask for help bleaching my underpants.”

“Bleach?” Sonya asked. “I’d just let Rui torch them.”

“I’m pretty sure that would just aerosolize-” Anita stopped herself, “nope, not following you down that rabbit hole.”

“I prefer ‘foxhole,’” Cris said. “Because I date foxes. Also, it lets me make jokes about everyone being gay in a foxhole.”

“How’re we doing?” Rox asked.

“Through the most serious. Some of these injuries… these people would have been maimed for life. They were just letting wounds fester. Leaving broken bones to mend unset. I’m livid, even though I’m too weak to properly express it.”

“Good, because our distraction literally flew the coop,” Sonya said.

“Was that literal?” Anita asked. “They flew, yes, but there was no coop.”

“You’re the fake English teacher,” Sonya said, punctuating it with a dismissive shrug.

“What about Mahmoud?” Rox asked.

“Haven’t seem him,” Cris said. “Maybe… he said he was a ‘ghost in the machine,’ right?  What if he uploaded a sliver of his consciousness, and that was what you were talking to,” as they started towards the exit.

Rox stopped. “Guys- guy, and dolls,” Rox started, “anybody try that door?” Barely visible in the wall was a seam.

“I didn’t even notice it before,” Anita said.

“Yeah,” Sonya said, “looks like a draft must have pulled it out, ever so subtly, so it’s noticeable. Can we safely assume that’s your luck working overtime?”

“I usually do,” Rox said. “But to be on the safe side, let me take point.” Rox got her fingernails into the edge of the door and pulled with all of her weight. Slowly, the door started to creak open.

“This is unsettling,” Cris said, his speech coming faster than usual. “Am I the only one unsettled?”

Hanging in the center of the room was Mahmoud. He had an IV hanging from the ceiling, spittle flowing freely from his slack jaw. His eyes were glassy, his entire body limp, dangling from what looked like a straight jacket chained to the ceiling.

“This is really gross,” Sonya said.

“Yeah,” Cris plugged his nose. “They just have him go where he’s hanging…”

“No,” she said, pulling an IV out of a slit in the jacket exposing his arm, “I mean he’s in a medically induced coma, or close to it, but there aren’t any monitors, no way for them to know if the cocktail of drugs they’re keeping him on is depressing his heartrate or keeping him from breathing. This is how you fucking kill people. It’s sick.”

Anita was shaking with rage. “You okay?” Rox asked, gently touching her arm. “This is bringing is bringing it back, isn’t it? What was done to you?”

“I really want to hurt someone. Can we make a quick stop to hurt some people?”

“Our priority needs to be getting these people out of harm’s way- making sure the people who did this can’t keep doing it. That okay?”

“Yeah,” Anita said, taking a deep breath. “That’s the right call. But if we see anyone on our way out, no promises I don’t cripple them.”

“We’ll try not to let that happen. “

“Not a, coma, ‘xactly,” Mahmoud mumbled through bubbles of spit and snot.

“Jesus,” Cris said.

“We’re here to take you home,” Rox said, speaking gently to him.

“You’re not here, at all. You’re just my, fucked-up, brain, fucking with me.”

“Nope.” She pinched his cheek. “We’re your friends. Finally breaking you out of this hellhole.”

A tear slid down his cheek. “No. You’re not. I have had this, this drug-induced hallucination- and this exact fight, more or less, before, and I’m not interested in whatever it is you’re selling- hope or just not wishing for the capacity to kill myself for five minutes.”

“Cris? You got one more detox in you?”

“I think I do. The problem is he ain’t the only technopath in here…” He motioned for her to follow him through a door in the corner. There were rows more of young men and women restrained just like Mahmoud.

“Fuck…” Rox said. “We gonna need a bigger boat?”

“I think we’ll fit, if just,” Sonya said.” Boat may not make it more than fifteen miles before sinking into the ocean, but that should put us squarely in Cuba.” 

“Nita, round up any stragglers. We’re going to need all the help we can get moving these people onto the ship. Sonya, go with her- make sure she doesn’t murder anybody.” She waited until they were out of earshot. “What can I do to help?” “I’m going to try and heal as many of them as I can, but I already feel like I’m going to pass out and piss myself. So stick close; I’m going to need all the luck I can get.”

Breed Book 4, Part 23


One of the inmates poked his head out of a hole in a crumbling wall. “Damnit,” Ben muttered, pointing both his hands at the wall, sending shockwaves through the ground. The wall collapsed the rest of the way, trapping the inmate under a pile of rubble.

Ben hadn’t worked this hard since he lived on the reservation with his brother. He wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. “I’m working too hard, here. I look best when I’m glistening, not drowning in my own tropical ball sweat.”

Rui landed beside him and clapped him on the back. “On the one hand, the U.S. Army is shooting at us. On the other, they apparently went to Stormtrooper School of Marskmanship, because they’ve been missing by a country mile.”

“I don’t know, man. If a dude was on fire and flying over my head… I wouldn’t want to shoot him. Because who’s to say shooting him does anything more than piss him off and get him to pay attention to you, specifically.”

“That’s a good point. I just figured they’d got lazy, living on a beach and sipping Mojitos.”

“Dude, Army men don’t sip Mojitos. They chug.”


“It’s green. That’s a manly color.”

“I’m really going to miss this,” Rui leapt back into the air, shooting flames at a fire team that had been trying to flank Ben moving through the tall grass along the hill, “when you inevitably get yourself shot.”

“Right, just because we decided to take a five mid-combat to banter doesn’t mean everyone else is honoring our time-out.” Ben spun, shaking the men off their feet, sending them rolling back down the hill they’d been climbing. One fired a wild shot over his head as he fell. “I kind of get the impression they think we aren’t on their side.”

“We aren’t.”

“Well, yeah, but it’s not like we’re on the other side, either.”

“The terrorists seem to have figured it all out quicker. Or maybe they’re just assuming anyone not explicitly with them is probably explicitly against them. Or maybe it’s just that I tried to set them on fire, and you collapsed a few walls on them.” He paused. “Terrorism suspects? I don’t know, maybe it’s not okay to just take the government’s word for it that they really deserve to be here. I mean… this government isn’t exactly renowned for its honesty.”

“Most of them have been here through more than one presidency,” Ben said, focusing on knocking a wall down to block some fleeing men.

“I’m Brazillian, dude; Drump might be objectively worse, but not by as much as some of you seem to think. The U.S. Government, whoever happens to be President, isn’t exactly a beacon of transparent and guile-free administration. Bipartisan, they get up to some shady shit. I’m not denying crap isn’t bad in Brazil, especially right now, but we don’t have nearly the kind of impact on the world stage, either.”

“That’s fair. And it’s certainly not like there weren’t some questionable detentions out of this camp, some released after a decade without charges.” The walkie on Ben’s belt squelched twice. “That’s our cue to get the hell out of Dodge.”

“Give me your hands.”

“Wait. I had a thought. Can you fly me over the compound?”      

“Like carry you by the hands, like we did to get here?”

“No, I need my hands free.”

“Ugh. By the armpits? Dude, you just got done describing the River of sweat trickling down you.”

“I did not make it nearly as homoerotic as you just did. And it’s just a little pitstank. It won’t kill you. Just make you nonviable with women for a few months- which seems like it will only extend your current streak.”

“All right. Fine. But let’s get it done, now, before I decide to just drop you.”

Rui lifted the both of them off the ground. “If I strain something, I’m drop-kicking you into the Caribbean.”

“I thought it was pronounced cuh-rib-ee-an.”

“If you’re a tourist, maybe.”

“So wait, when you said you were going to kick me in the Caribbean, did you mean into the body of water, or is ‘the Caribbean’ some kind of Brazilian slang I should definitely be made aware of?”

“If you keep this up I’m definitely going to kick you in the Caribbean.”

“Now I want an answer even more,” Ben said.

“Even as the cost of the question goes up.”

Rui swooped them both higher to avoid a bout of gunfire from a pocket of military personnel. Ben extended his shockwaves through his entire body, pushing them out towards the ground, shaking the soldiers and inmates off their feet. He kept going until a thunderbolt crack spread across the building.

“Uff, I’m pooped,” Ben said, his body going limp.

“So long as that’s not literal.”

“I know, if it is you’ll kick me in the Caribbean.” He exhaled. “But that might even be enough to get them to leave us out of the official story, if they can blame all the fuss on a natural disaster. Give them a massive chance to cover their asses.” “Yeah,” Rui said. “Cause the alternative only works if they can spin it so they’re the only thing standing between Karen Q.  Public and the dark, scary Breed threat. Doesn’t work so well when they get their asses handed to them.”

Breed Book 4, Part 22


“So what do you know about boats?” Sonya asked, walking along the dock flanked by small military watercraft.

“With any luck I know how to steal one?” Rox said.

“Piracy, then?”

“Sort of. My dad had a habit of losing his keys. And his car was a POS, anyway, so he’d just rub the wires together and… meant I learned to drive at a very young age.”

“And stole his car frequently?”

Rox shrugged. “Why do you ask?”

“Because I know just enough to know that these boats, here, are all short range. Probably GPSed, too, for that matter. They aren’t going to get us to either continent. Probably not even to any of the other islands.”

“You know boats?”

“My dad had a dream of owning a boat. Never happened, but he was enthusiastic about the idea. Some of it rubbed off on me.”

“I guess the important thing is that we make it to Cuban soil. This base gets treated like U.S. soil even though it’s in Cuba, but once we’re officially in Cuba, they U.S. can’t act officially without it being an act of international aggression. And especially insofar as most of these aren’t U.S. citizens, they really can’t claim that recapturing them makes any kind of sense. They aren’t a threat; in fact, they probably would have been hard-pressed to justify imprisoning them in Gitmo in the first-place, but try explaining to the world why you invaded a country to arrest refugees. And the citizens are an even bigger black eye; they were arrested without charge- without even a hint of a crime.”

“Well, these boats should get people to Cuba,” Sonya said. “But what’s the plan here?”

“I’ll walk you through hot-wiring a boat…”

“And then? We bringing the mountain to Mohammed, one handful at a time or- nevermind. Looks like Mohammed’s leading the flock here.” Anita was leading a parade of refugees towards them.

Rox was already beneath the ignition on the boat, slicing open wires. “Should give me just about enough time to make sure I still know how to do…” the boat “there we go.”   

“This is about half,” Anita said, arriving with a rowdy throng.

Half? Jesus,” Rox said.

“The rest are with Cris. He’s healing them as fast as he can; the rest volunteered to stay behind, help the wounded run if it came down to that.”

“Okay, let’s get these boats launched and in the water. As soon as that’s done we can go back up Cris. Do we think we have capacity enough on our boat to haul out the rest?”

“If this was half?” Sonya asked. “Not in open waters, but if we’re setting down on a different beach to figure out next moves, they should get us there.”

“Good,” Anita said. “Then I’m going to scuttle whatever boats we don’t take, make it harder for the Army to pursue.”

“That’s good thinking.”

“No,” Anita shook her head. “I’ve just seen what happens if I don’t. Bright side? You make a really pretty corpse. I’m a little jealous, actually.”

“You’re a really weird fucking lady.”

“That might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. That’s kind of fucked up.”

“Ladies,” Rox said, “we got a government to thwart. We can finish the tea party when we’re not trespassing on a military base.”

“I don’t know. Military bases do have the best tea.” “Then grab a handful of bags. We’ll drink it someplace we don’t have to worry about getting shot while we sip.”

Breed Book 4, Part 21


“Looks like our boys have kicked the hornets nest,” Anita said, pointing to smoke billowing from the other side of the base.

“I suddenly feel self-conscious that I’m playing for the girls team,” Cris said.

“Yeah, well, the power to heal isn’t exactly the kind of splashy, wet-your-pants showstopper we needed over there,” Rox said. “Sonya, do the honors.”

Sonya broke cover and conjured two balls of antimatter cocooned in a small field in each hand, and pressed them against the hinges of a door. She jogged back behind the corner of the building with the others. She counted down on her hand silently, and when she was down to one finger the fields dissipated, and the antimatter reacted explosively with the matter of the door, shredding the hinges.

Rox and Anita took either side of the door, “On three, two, three,” Rox said, and they lifted, and set the door down on the concrete. “How are we doing?”

“I’m not sure I like being treated as an early warning system,” Anita said, “but so far Rui and Ben are getting all the attention. Still, we should be quick.”

Rox led the way inside. “Luck’s holding,” she said. “Guards have all responded to the other end of the compound.”

“Yeah, about your whole ‘luck’ thing,” Sonya said, and Rox followed her down a side corridor, which was filled with cells.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat,” Anita said.

“Great,” Rox muttered. “Perfect. Anita, you and Cris work on getting these people to safety. Sonya, you’re with me.”

“Ahem, point of order, but I think the woman with lock-exploding powers should probably open the cells before leaving us high and dry,” Anita said.

Sonya started skipping down the first hall, sing-songing “Back, back everybody stand back,” as she passed, sticking boomlets to the cell doors as she passed, then the second hall, third, and a fourth.

As she skid to a stop back with the group, Cris said, “Now I’m going to have ‘Pop goes the weasel stuck in my head for-“ the first explosion cut him off, followed by a chain of them. “Nevermind, I’m just going to piss myself like a chihuahua on the Fourth of July.”

Rox and Sonya turned to leave, and it was another ten seconds of explosions before Cris could be heard. “I’m not sure I like all of us splitting up like this.”

“Why, you think we’re in a horror movie?” Anita laughed. “Well, we aren’t, in this timeline. Though believe me, some of the Breed timelines get awfully dark, think Skynet, but bigoted.”

“That’s not comforting. And I more meant that if anyone gets hurt, I can’t help them if there’s an army between us and them.” He opened the first cell door.

“Well, isn’t that shit?” Anita asked. Shrapnel from the lock had hit a small Breed girl in the side, and she was cowering in the corner, trying to hold her blood back in.

“That’s why I’m here,” Cris said, and brushed past her. “Triage the rest, getting healthy people ready to move. Those who need work get a healthy buddy outside their cells, so I can find them.”

“Sure,” Anita said, and nodded.

Cris turned back towards the wounded girl. “Hi. I know it hurts. My name’s Cris, and I can help.” He kneeled down to where she was shivering in a ball. “Hablo Ingles?”

“Si-si-si,” she stuttered out, then yelped “yes” too forcefully. 

“What’s your name?”

“Anna Maria,” she said, her breathing labored.

“Anna Maria, I’m going to need you to move your hand, so I can see the wound.”

“P-p-pressure,” she said.

“I’m going to heal your injury, but to do that, I have to move the metal, or it will just keep cutting you. To do that, you’ll have to move your hands.”

“Will, it, hurt?”

“Yes,” he said tenderly. “But only until it’s done. Then the pain will be gone. Understand?”

She nodded, and moved her hands, then she braced as he pinched the edge of a metal shard poking out of her side. “How old are you?”

She relaxed, for an instant, thinking, before saying, “Twelve-” the word ended in a gasp as he wrenched the metal out of her. Cris placed his hand on her side, and they both felt warmth where the wound and his hand met, until he removed it. “Better,” she said, taking in a rasping breath.     

“Good. You did very well, especially for someone only 12 years old. Join the others. We’re going to try and get you out of here.”


“We’re going to make you as safe as we can.” Cris helped her to her feet, and guided her outside of the cell. Already a dozen people, mostly children, were gathering near the exit. Anita was a third of the way down the first hall, and every other cell had a healthy person standing outside to tell him about the injured person inside.

“So far she’s the only one with shrapnel wounds. But there’s plenty more that are malnourished, may not be able to walk- and we may need to run before this thing is over.”

“Premonition?” he called.

“Intuition. Heal those you can. The fewer people we have to carry out, the better. Aw, fudge.” Anita turned, drawing her pistol, and fired. A man in black U.S. military gear rounded the corner, catching the round in the chest. “Apparently this one was in the can when the alarms went off.” Cris was already running to her at full speed, and slid into a kneel beside him. Blood was dribbling out of his shirt, which Cris tore from him. He was wearing a vest, now dented, and Cris moved it out of the way. There was a bruise already forming, and a small gash where the pressure of the bullet overwhelmed the strength of the skin. Cris put his hand over the wound and began to heal him. The guard started to reach for his sidearm.

“Ah ah,” Anita said. “Slide your dumb ass to the cells.” He complied, and she took the cuffs off his harness, and secured him to the bars. She took his gun and his radio. She walked to one prisoner, standing nearby. “Could you-” she tilted her head, “nevermind, you can join the others down the hall.” She walked to a teenaged girl, and handed her the radio and gun. “Can you stay here, until it’s time for all of us to go, to make sure he doesn’t try to move or make noise?” The girl nodded. 

Anita walked back over to the guard, staring daggers at all of the escaping prisoners. “My gun’s loaded with rubber bullets. They usually do the trick, so long as you’re not the kind of asshole who aims them at people’s faces. Yours… I’m assuming has live rounds. The girl with your gun, will shoot you, if you misbehave. The dude before would have just shot you on principle. Given your role in an ongoing human rights atrocity, I’m not sure giving the gun to the girl was the right call, but Cris would have been upset if I let you get shot. Repeatedly. About half the mag went into your junk.”

“I’m not thanking a freak like you,” he said.

“Well, I guess that proves he’s not a good one in a bad situation. I’ll level with you. I’ve already seen today happen. Whether you cooperate, whether you scream your fool head off for reinforcements, the results are the same. The only thing that changes is you bleed out, here, alone, with no one to hear your dying words. I’m not sure who Krysten is, or why you’re sorry, but if you die today, she’ll never hear them- certainly not from me. Or, you sit there, keep your mouth shut, you live.”

“I’ve seen your faces.”

“Striking, isn’t it? I’m already on commercial no fly lists. If the Feds ever did catch me, I’d be headed right back here. I’m not shy about my infamy. And while I don’t like you, for everything you’ve done and represent, if I wanted you dead, I’d put a bullet in you. Or maybe go to work on you with that knife in your boot…” she rolled up his pantleg, and removed it from an ankle sheath. It was serrated and gnarled, the kind of knife that wasn’t just meant to cut you, but to rend at the flesh and make healing take longer. “See, I know you’ve fantasized about sticking this in one of these children you guard. Justice would probably be sticking it in your guts and twisting it around.” She threw the knife down the hall. “But there’s a shitload of kids here today, and I’d hate to traumatize the fuck out of them. So I’d consider this a mulligan. Those kids, they’re not the monsters you think they are.” She leaned in close, and when he tried to headbutt her, she moved so he rammed himself into the butt of her gun. “But I am, because I’ve had exactly the same kind of training as you. I’m your fucking boogeyman. You hurt them, and I will find you. And your amateurish fantasies with the knife- I will teach you some things about real monsters.”

“You done?” Cris asked.

“I think we understand each other,” she said.

“Good. Because there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Breed Book 4, Part 20


“This feels wrong,” Rui said.

“Like getting an erection off Jessica Rabbit? I know she’s a cartoon, but…” Ben trailed off, staring at the horizon.

“No. Not hot wrong. Like… I know the government thinks of us as traitors, terrorists. But we’re about to seriously start setting fire to an American military base.”

“One that shouldn’t be in Cuba, one that’s in Cuba solely to violate civil rights in ways they couldn’t if it was in U.S. Territory. Besides, this is a rescue mission; if they hadn’t been kidnapping kids, we wouldn’t have to be here. We aren’t the villains, here.”

“Maybe,” Rui said. “But that doesn’t necessarily make us the heroes, either.”

“Meh,” Ben shrugged. “I’m doing what’s right, what feels right in my soul. What my brother would tell me was right, if awful people hadn’t murdered him. That just makes me ‘Ben.’ I can handle being just Ben.”

“I don’t also have to be Ben, do I?”

“Nah. Be Rui. Be somebody else, if that doesn’t feel like a good fit anymore. Just do it while distracting a shitload of American Gestapo, or they’ll throw us all in the Gulag.”

“You’re mixing your- whatever.”

“Besides, I don’t set shit on fire.”

“Yes, you ‘vibrate’ shit.”

“Don’t do that. Don’t belittle my ability. It’s petty.”

“Sorry, man. Just, I can fly, and I have near-microscopic control over my atomic structure. But it’s neat that you can shake stuff. You know, like a baby with a rattle.”

“I asked nice. When this is over, you and me are doing this.”

“Except that I can just turn into a gas, and, while being vibrated might be fun, it kind of loses it’s violence.”

“I hate you sometimes, you know that? Handsome, wealthy, great teeth. And you get a better power.”

“Unrequited love, personality issues. We all got our stuff, man. And vibrating things is far from the wimpiest ability we’ve seen.”


“You know what I mean.”

“I do. But since we agree yours is the less subtle ability, you should start off the festivities. And I’ll bring the house down after you pack the seats.”

Rui kicked off the ground, and transmuted his atoms into a gas, and then to a plasma. “Feels good to be back in the air.” Ben flipped him off. “Sorry, wasn’t poking more fun at your, ahem, ability.”

“Something tells me you were always this smarmy, even before you learned you could fly.”

“I prefer to think of it as confidence,” Rui swooped over him, spreading his arms and shooting jets of flame into several buildings in two straight lines.

“It looks like the DeLorean from Back to the Future was here,” Ben yelled.

“Right? I wasn’t even trying for that.” He swooped again, this time gaining altitude, burning a strip strategically along the waterline. He landed noiselessly behind Ben. “That should set off some alarms, and with any luck, the entire base will respond, when they think it’s a terrorist breakout plot.”

“Um,” Ben closed his eyes, “just had a pertinent thought. What if we do too good a job?”

“It’s probably a big ask- and I expect a slap is a more realistic result- but I say we ask for lapdances.”

“Noted. But I mean… there actually are terrorists inside this base. And we may have just created an opening for them to escape.” “Well… fudge. Looks like our mission just got a little extra complicated. Apparently, we’re going to be creating a distraction and making sure no terrorists escape. Because apparently the first terrifying problem just wasn’t fucking dramatic enough.”