Breed Book 4, Part 19


“So this is treason, then?” Cris asked timidly, staring out at the forebodingly black waters.

“I prefer to think of it as Rebellion,” Ben said, settling comfortably into the boat’s cushions.

“Yeah, but only because you want to be in Star Wars,” Rui said. “Dibs on Han Solo.”

“No, screw that. I can’t be Lando- not all people of color are the right color. And I refuse to be your Chewbacca.”

“Fine. I will Lando. But only because I appreciate a good cape.”

“Yeah,” Sonya said, “the whole idea of Rebels is kind of tainted, since confederate apologists romanticize their traitors as ‘Rebels.’”

“Fuck that,” Anita said. “Racists don’t get to ruin Star Wars.”

“Not for lack of trying,” Laren said.

“Yes,” Rox said softly to Cris. “The government is going to see this as treason. We will, if any of us remain off the list, be branded traitors, and terrorists. If caught, they’ll probably try to execute us.”

“That’s heavy,” Cris said.

“I think that’s why we were all trying to do a Star Wars thing,” Sonya said.

“Besides, that all only matters if we get caught,” Laren said. “And I’m here to make sure we don’t get caught. Most military and government computers are on the grid. Not necessarily the internet, but an intranet. Generally speaking, there’s some degree of wireless communication involved with overseas bases, because running cable through the ocean isn’t terribly secure, it’s expensive and can be fidgety as hell. They can’t use that, because the technopaths they’ve captured could also use that; hell, can you imagine a handful of technopaths in captivity taking over the military intranet? So they have to have a back-up, or connection, elsewhere. Not sure which it is, but I know where the fiberoptics go. We can snip them on our way in, which means that the only security footage or otherwise will be in their servers. I’m going to destroy them once the fireworks start.”

“I’m still not sold on bringing along G.I. Jane,” Anita said.

“Well I’m here, risking my freedom along with the rest of you. Because our government has done awful things. And right now, the only way to undo them, is to be a Rebel.”  

Breed Book 4, Part 18

Note: In book 3, the Bureau of Breed Affairs gets split into two agencies, with the outreach and support wing maintaining the traditional name, and a new, ICE-like enforcement division called ABC rising.


“Okay, so the plan,” Rox started, wincing, “such as it is, is to storm a U.S. Military base, one that is off-the-books in most regards, including how many personnel are there and what kinds of weapons they have stockpiled.”

“I might have some suggestions,” Laren said from the doorway.

“How did you-” Ben stopped, as she pulled a small device out of a flowerpot on a central table.

“I bug every room you stay in, because you don’t play well with others and you don’t share. Case in point, I have contacts, in the military, the CIA, and the NSA, all of which provided, even on a tight schedule, invaluable information.”

“And incalculable exposure.” Sonya said. “Even if you trust them today, what happens tomorrow after there’s been a pretty brazen attack on a base right after you asked for classified intel?”

“They have every reason to lie to cover their own asses, far more than to save mine. And I’m not friendly with the kind of people who like the idea of operating quasi black sites like Gitmo. More pressing, I’ve got a better reason to go than just one or two of your friends. Remember last year, when CBP disappeared all those Breed from their detention camps?“

“They took them to Disneyland?” Ben asked.

“I was going to say camping,” Rui said, “but his is better.”

“God,” Cris gasped, “they’re all in Gitmo.”

“Sure, most of them aren’t citizens, but a significant portion are, swept up by ICE and ABC racists and deported for not being able to ‘sufficiently’ prove their citizenship. Them we can drop at the school, the rest, might be better off in a country not currently overseen by a racist, oafish buffoon so preoccupied with being beaten by a black man in virtually every possible regard he can’t be hassled to actually do his fucking job- I mean the actual job, not making up mean nicknames or fomenting white and human supremacist insurrection on Twitter, or whatever the fuck ‘executive time’ means.”

“I kind of want to vote for her,” Anita said.

“Tough shit; I won’t be thirty five by January.”

“I didn’t specify ‘for President.’ I think you’d also make a very fetching dog catcher.”

“Ladies,” Rox said, glaring, “don’t make me separate you.”

“It’s fine,” Laren said. “Our rivalry is now mostly trading petty insults.”

“That and I spike literally everything she eats with laxatives. Some of the things she doesn’t eat, too, like toothpaste, her shampoo; I’m still working out the kinks of getting it into her deodorant.”

“I have no earthly idea if she’s kidding,” Sonya said.

“Haven’t had a problem yet,” Laren said. “But we’ve got more important things. Like freeing a bunch of refugees and citizens unlawfully kidnapped by our government.”

“I’m hoping that comes with some kind of insight, or at least an upgrade to our plan.”

“Yes. I’ve got a ship. It’s our best chance of slipping in, and I know the best path to get past their sensors. And how to get them looking the other way when we arrive.”

Breed Book 4, Part 17


“Thanks for taking my call,” Rox said.

“Well, technically, I’m not,” Ryan said, rolling his electronic chair absent-mindedly. “I’m talking to a telecom, trying to get me to switch my service. You’re talking to, okay, this is kind of genius, but your call is routed to the FBI tip line. Who watches the watchmen’s answering machine? That should buy us a few minutes of privacy. What do you need?”

“Lincoln’s phone. It was used to bounce a signal to me. I need to know where the phone physically is.”

“That’s all? It’s in Cuba.”

“You can’t narrow it down?”

“Nope. I can only tell you that much because I could trace the data packets to a particular cell tower. But I can’t triangulate because there’s literally one tower the phone’s in range of. The surrounding towers were all ripped out, courtesy of the U.S. Government.”

“He’s in Guantanamo.”

“Or the surrounding environs, yeah. I’d heard rumors, on the dark web, about the NSA stashing technopaths that wouldn’t play ball there. The rest they put to work; who better to spy than people who already naturally interact with data the way the NSA has spent year building systems to. But that’s why they removed the towers, to keep them from getting a message out. Of course, I thought it was bullshit, so much so that I didn’t think to check if the area around Gitmo was a dead zone, until right now.”

“Anything else you can tell me about the area, base included?”

“Why do you want to- no, I don’t want to know, nevermind. I’ll put my head together with a few of the other technopaths, see what we can scrounge up. We’ll send everything to your phone, just make sure you’re someplace with a good signal- over someone else’s wi-fi if you can manage it.”

“Got it. How,” she fumbled, because it had been a while since she’d made small-talk with anyone not in the next room, “how are things at home?”

“Everybody’s upset over the cops choking out Greg Lloyd. He was Breed. He was black. He died for being one or both of those things. Mikaela took a group down to Seattle to march in the protests.”

“And you didn’t go?”

“Protests aren’t renowned for their accessibility, or I’d probably be with them.” Ryan said. “I’ve also got lung nodules, so exposure to coronavirus and tear gas isn’t exactly a wise combination. You in-country?”

“Are we in the U.S.? Fuck me, I don’t even remember.”

“Might, if you’re in the U.S.; I’m not so hard up I’d expatriate just to get laid.”

“Not sure I’ll ever be that hard up.”

“Is it the chair?”

“No, it’s because you’re an unkempt dickhead into underage girls.”

“I’d have to take off my shoes to doublecheck, but I don’t think you’re underage. You’ve been on the road a while, now.”

“Oh my god, you’re right. That’s depressing.”

“Now you’re starting to hurt my feelings.”

“Not that you’re flirting with me, but that I was forgetting how old I am.”

“Well, that I can’t help with. We could probably build whole new identities for you and your friends, and make you minors again, if you wanted to come back to the school. But I’m not sure if that’s helping or hurting…”

“Just get me the info. And Ryan? Thanks. I know you’re out on a limb for us.”

“You know me, sucker for a pretty face.”

“Getting skeevy again. You haven’t seen me since I was fourteen.”

“No. I’ve seen you on TV pretty often, actually, and I’ve seen slash erased a lot of security footage of you. And pretty isn’t a statement of intent- nor is it fishing for reciprocation. Just take the compliment.”

“Okay. Take care.”


Breed Book 4, Part 16


Rox’s phone rang. It was dark, was all she could tell for sure, too late for civilized people to be calling. Which either meant someone uncivilized was calling, or something was very wrong. “Rox?” the voice on the phone was quieter, tinnier, younger.

“Linc?” she asked, looking at the ID.

“Just borrowing his signal, from whoever’s carrying his phone around,” the voice on the other end said. But he wasn’t speaking; it was a synthetic voice, robotic. “This is Mahmoud.”

“Bull. You died.”

“No,” the voice said, taking on a little of Mahmoud’s timbre as he remembered how to manipulate electronic signals to recreate a human voice. “That’s what they told you, so you wouldn’t look for me. It’s okay. It wouldn’t have been safe for you to. I wouldn’t want you to come, not even now.”

“Tough shit,” she said; “we don’t leave anyone behind.”

“You left me, and Mira, if I recall correctly.”

“That’s not fair. You split off, closed any avenues of pursuit. Mira… she made a choice to go with you. We thought… we hoped you’d meet us later. Christ. I still feel like I’m talking to a ghost.”

“You are. It’s okay. I’m gone. Just a ghost in the machine, now. I didn’t call to blame you. Don’t look for me. Just know that I don’t regret it. You got away. I got you away. Everything after was worth that. I’m so happy to hear your voice, to know you’re safe, to know it worked. Tell the others ‘bye.’” The line disconnected.

“Talking to yourself, boss?” Ben asked, rolling over, then falling off the couch. “Oh, right, we were trying to watch all the Star Wars back to back. Anybody make it?”

“My phone woke me up, so you’re asking the wrong person,” Rox said.

“I was going to,” Rui said, stirring from behind the couch, “but then Rise of Skywalker came on and I took a protest nap. Having that movie as the capper… it’s like eating your brussel sprouts, your broccoli, your liver and onions, your Salisbury steak and finding out your dessert is pickled garlic.”

“What’s wrong with Salisbury steak?” Ben mumbled, half asleep.

“It’s not steak, for one, it’s barely food, for two.”

“It’s breaded armpits, right? Seasoned with farts?” Sonya asked, yawning.

“Great,” Rox said, rolling her eyes, “the entire peanut gallery’s waking up.”    

Human armpits?” Rui asked.

“Is there any other kind?” Anita asked. “Animals arms don’t fall to their sides, hence, no pit.”

“What about monkeys and gorillas?” Ben asked.

“They hunch forward, so no pit.”

“I’m not sure I’m on board the declaration that it’s the crease of the arm that makes it a pit,” Cristobal said.

“My kingdom for a half-bright minion,” Rox muttered.

“Uh-oh, she’s calling us minions again,” Ben said.

“So either we’re in trouble,” Anita said, “or she’s hankering for a Despicable Me marathon again.”

“It means shut up for like thirty seconds. I just got a call.”

“Did it come from inside the house?” Ben asked.

“The next call will come from inside your colon if you do not shut up.”

“I’m pretty sure my colon would survive; your phone, not so much.”

“It was Mahmoud.”

“Ahmadinejad?” Rui asked. “What’s that old so and so been up to?”


“So, and at the risk of this sounding less serious than it is, exactly how many calls from dead people can she get before we start to worry?” Anita asked.

Rox handed her phone over to Rui. “I think we need to reexamine who we think of as dead,” Rox said.

He touched the screen, and saw the call ID. “Linc did just call her.”

“I thought she said it was Mahmoud,” Cris groaned, before falling back into a recliner. “This dream makes no sense.”

“This isn’t a dream,” Rox said. “And if I’m right, we might just have a chance to save both of them.” 

Breed Book 4, Part 15

Well, fudge. I started this not expecting I’d get to the 1/4 of a novel point while protests were still ongoing, an embarrassing failure of imagination, for a writer. Regular readers will notice I’ve struggled the last four years to finish even a first draft of anything; irregular readers will, too, provided they’ve maintained object permanence, and if not, hello for the first time you remember!

I’m going to try and keep going. I’ll admit, the steam went out of the balloon a bit after I got through the dramatic part of the protest. But fuck Yoda, try I will, to keep going. First up is the mirrored side of these first fourteen chapters, what Rox and her outlaws are up to while the rest of the gang protest. After that, we’ll roll into an assassination plot, probably going back to the usual back and forth. Not sure where this goes, honestly, but with luck I’ll ride the train all the way through to the end.

Without luck, I will be hit by a hearse dragging behind it a trailer full of open ladders and extra fragile mirrors, driven by a black cat; fingers crossed, everybody.


Mahmoud got drunk, once, when his ability first started to manifest. He thought he was insane. He could hear the toaster complaining about the brand of bagels they bought, knew the television wasn’t happy with the extension cord it was plugged into. His dad drank, to take the edge off, to take all the crap he dealt with in his day to day and cram it down deep enough he could still be a dad, still provide emotionally for his family. Mahmoud needed that, if only for an afternoon, one single, solitary afternoon where it didn’t feel like his brain was melting, when he didn’t have to be terrorized about the day when his family found out and had him committed. He puked his guts out, so comically his dad laughed at him rather than punish him further. But that afternoon, for the first time in a long time, he couldn’t hear the machines, couldn’t feel their… not exactly thoughts, but noise. Buzzing.

Being in Guantanimo was a lot like that. For one, they had him buried deep, in the ground, with thick concrete walls. This entire wing of the prison had been redesigned with technopaths like him in mind, because if they could get so much as a radio signal, they could communicate with the outside world, and tell them what, exactly, had been done to them. In Mahmoud’s case, an American minor was spirited away without any notification for his family; they believed he died during an attack on an NSA base compiling information on other Breed like him. His friends, too, believed he was gone. Otherwise, he liked to tell himself, at least when the drugs were starting to wear thin and he could think straight, they’d have come for him. It was a white lie he told himself, one that in his worse moments he struggled to believe. He’d known them only a few weeks, and yes, they broke into a government facility together, but they left him behind, to die. Okay, so, more he locked them out and himself in, and told them to go… but sometimes the worst voice in your head is your own.

The other way that Guantanimo was like being a drunk was the cocktail they kept in his IV, a steady drip of meds designed to keep him from thinking straight, so if say a plane flew too close, or a boat with a radio sailed nearby, he couldn’t hijack it. The drugs made his body feel like sludge, which at least made it harder to tell when he went to the bathroom. He didn’t have enough muscle control to hold anything in, so his body just periodically dropped his waste, but the drugs made it harder to know when it ran down his leg. It was a small mercy, the only kind that he got in this place.

Back before they started drugging him, he was on a hunger strike. Periodically, they’d force-feed him, hold him down and sedate him, then keep holding while they shoved a tube down his throat. It was the worst thing that had ever been done to him, and yet, it was better than surrender, better than letting win. Sometime after the drugs they installed a feeding tube in his side. Sure, it was another violation, but it felt gentler, somehow, maybe because it didn’t come with regular intervals of being brutalized by the guards; in fact, they’d beaten him less, since it was installed, because of the paperwork involved if it got infected.

His old life- really, his only life, because existing in this cell sure as hell didn’t qualify- felt like a dream, It was so distant. He remembered the warmth of the sun on his face, the smile of his friends, the tingle of new electronics he was hearing for the first time. Only the last one wasn’t a memory, and it wasn’t new.

He remembered a debate among technopaths at the school, one where they realized midway through that the debate was down to the fact that technopaths pick up on different things, but no two electronics are alike. Small, subtle differences in the soldering, imperfections in the molding and various other tiny introductions of chaos into production meant each was unique. Sure, if you got two from the same production line, on the same day, produced within minutes they might be close, in the same way siblings often bear a strong resemblance to one another. But he recognized this cell phone, even if he remembered hearing electronic chatter that it’s owner was dead.

That didn’t matter. A signal meant he could call out, meant he could tell his friends he was alive, meant… he could say goodbye. It was suicide, breaking into a U.S. base on Cuban soil. He couldn’t ask them to, couldn’t even tell them enough that they could attempt it. So far as they knew, he’d been dead this whole time. He was a ghost already. No point in making his friends ghosts, too. But it was nice, the thought that he could at least tell them what they meant, could hear them, one last time, before finally letting go.

Breed Book 4, Part 14


“It feels weird, getting Starbucks in Seattle,” Mikaela said, sitting in the corner booth opposite Mira. “Like we’re visiting mocha Mecca.”

“You’re awfully nonchalant about meeting a suspected terrorist in public,” Mira said quietly, “though everyone going around in masks is quite a boon to anonymity.”

“Oh, I’m very chalant, I’m just good at hiding it. And you’re a friend, questionable shit you’ve done to the side of it, and I guess I’m still hoping I can talk you back from the edge.”

“Why do I get the sense there’s an ‘and’ in there?” Mira asked, bemused.

Mikaela sighed, weighing her response with care. “I love our freinds, I love that they were there to support Breed lives and black lives in tandem. But, there are just things they can’t get. And I don’t even think it’s a complex my dad gave me, but at least once a day, I fixate on a black person murdered by police, or at least their indifference. Breonna Taylor, an EMT shot eight times while she slept in her bed. David McAtee, who fed police for free at his stand, but was still gunned down for being black and in the wrong place at the wrong time. God, I need to stop listing or we’ll be here literally all night, just from the names off the top of my head. But that’s why I was so glad you texted. Our friends are great, loving, caring people. But there are things, about the intersection of being what we all share and being black, that they just can’t understand, and that I can’t explain without becoming an angry black stereotype.”

“I am angry, though,” Mira said, her voice trembling. “And we have every right to be angry. We should not have to watch our brothers and sisters die like this. The only rational, human response is anger. But then again, my anger’s made me a terrorist.”

 “You’re not wrong. We do have a right to be angry. And maybe that’s just another way kyriarchy has kept us down, by making our righteous anger unacceptable. And I don’t think you’re a terrorist.”

“The U.S. government disagrees,” Mira said with a laugh. “Especially that orange prick in the White House. Which is kind of why I’m here.”

“Ooh, nice segue.”

“I took my minor in English Lit seriously,” Mira said, punctuating it with another laugh. “This feels nice, you know, normal, just having some coffee with a friend, no life or death consequences. So I feel awful I’m going to be the one to ruin it, but I really don’t know what to do. I know Drump didn’t kill Greg Lloyd, but he’s spent four years making the people who did or could feel safe, feel supported. Given aid and comfort to our enemies, called them very fine people. I’m angry, blindly angry, but even I was shocked when I heard the plan. Raif is going to try and kill him, and I don’t want to stop him. But I recognize, through my anger, that maybe I should. Maybe we should be stopped. And for a lot of reasons, some you’ve mentioned tonight, I wanted you to be the one to make that call. It’s not fair, maybe, to do that to you, but I trust you- even if that means trusting you to make sure I fail, if that’s what you think should happen.”

“God damn; you do not play around.”

“Yeah, for you, you have to get rid of a burner cell phone. Inconvenient, to be sure. But I go through a whole routine every time we meet like this, have to buy new clothes, steal a car, get new IDs, new phones. I don’t make contact for a simple chat.”

“Do you want to know what I decide?”

“Probably best I don’t. If you do decide to stop us, it won’t work if I’m working to neutralize you.”

“This is weird. You know this is weird, right? It’s like you’re working with me against you.”

“That’s kind of exactly how it is. And maybe I’m just worn out and tired, burnt out, looking for a way out.”

“The tell would be that you said ‘out’ like three times in that sentence; I took my mathematics minor seriously.”

“But I trust you to do the right thing, even if I’m not sure I know what that is anymore.” She slid out of the booth, scooping up her coffee on the way. “I hope I see you. Honestly. But I understand if this is a bridge too far for you.”

“Take care, Mira,” Mikaela replied. She waited as many alligators as she could count, though she kept losing track, before excitedly dialing her other burner. “Rox,” Mikaela said, “we have a serious fucking problem.”

Breed Book 4, Part 13


Mayumi watched cautiously as the police turned to leave. She’d been in enough skirmishes to know that when it looked like you’d won, when it felt like your opponent was giving you what you wanted, was when they were at their most dangerous; it was the instant when they were most likely to spin on their heels and put a knife in your guts. Even as they started to get in their cars to drive away, she felt an eerie sense of unease. “I hope it’s okay that I came,” a man said from behind her, making her start. “Oh. Sorry, shouldn’t have snuck up on you like that.” She recognized him even as she turned to see the man who’d shot her barely twenty-four hours earlier.   

“Officer Johnson.”

“Rob, if you’re comfortable with it,” he said, his eyes down, unable to meet her gaze. They flicked up, and then he smiled. “You didn’t expect me to come tonight.”

“Probably not ever,” she said, her voice warming. “You hope, when you make that kind of invitation, but you stop expecting things.”

“I get that. I’m not- this isn’t an excuse. But pulling that trigger- I’d never even pulled my service weapon before. My first reaction was to puff out my chest, double down on the othering rhetoric and make you an enemy worth being shot; inventing an elaborate lie about how you were Antifa, and how they were somehow terrorists, and you were going to do worse than I ever could, and… it scared me. You weren’t threatening me. You were barely even challenging my authority. I was out of line- no, I was so far over it I couldn’t even tell you how far back the line even was anymore.”

“You’re starting to sound less and less like a cop.”

“I’m not, anymore. I quit.”


“Technically, I guess I transferred, out of the police, and into the civilian side of government. I told them I didn’t honestly care where, or doing what. But I had to have a talk with the brass. Half were, rightly so, pissed about the shooting. The other half seemed upset I showed remorse over it. But by the end of talking to them, I think they were all just glad to be rid of me; they agreed to expedite my transfer.”

“That’s… congratulations, I guess.”

“It’s an odd circumstance,” he admitted. “I guess I just got tired of having that damage in my life, what it was doing, to me, and my family. What it was turning me into. And I will never be able to say either of these things enough, but I’m so, so sorry… and thank you. You gave me my second chance.”

“Everything okay?” Demi asked. Mayumi turned to see that Demi had brought their entire carpool with her. “We were watching, but we were getting antsy just watching him.”

“That’s… fair,” he said. “Christ, I’ve profiled people for so much less.”

“That’s unnerving,” Mikaela said.

“That’s how they get you; it all seems reasonable, in the moment. People who fit a certain profile commit terrorism, people who fit a different profile commit most violent crimes. It taints the way you think, the way you process, until you’re not just being more vigilant, but you’re looking for ways to fit facts into a narrative, even where it really doesn’t apply. I’m not defending profiling,” he put up his hands, “but it starts small, and so, so reasonable, and eventually you’re bending over backwards to find a reason to use excessive force on a protestor for making you feel less than. That’s why I’m on this side of the line- because it’s the right place to be.”

“Ahem,” Keane said, “hope I’m not interrupting.”

“It can keep,” Mayumi said.

“She’ll take some convincing, but I think the Mayor recognizes the right side of history; it’s just a matter of helping her build a bridge to it from where she feels trapped right now.”

Breed Book 4, Part 12


As the clouds parted and the lights came back on, there was suspense. It was possible the cops would be so threatened by the display they’d feel they had to respond with force- even in the face of their own certain extinction. But as the streetlights flickered back to life, they started kneeling.

Keane rolled over the temporary barricade the police had constructed, and walked slowly but purposefully towards the steps to Seattle’s police headquarters. There he was met by Mayor Raykin. She was shaking. “That was something,” she stuttered.

“That was Tuesday. These students came here with peace in their hearts; they aren’t here for conquest. What’s more, their asks are reasonable, even fair. But if you’re asking me if they’re inclined to come back again, six months from now, still full of youthful optimism and the milk of human kindness, the next time one of your officers murders someone? I wouldn’t wager lives on the question.”

“Nor would I,” she agreed. “In fact, I find myself suspiciously open to you, which begs the question: are you controlling my mind?”

“I don’t do that.”


“Don’t. Myself, and those behind me, we are capable of doing wonderful, extraordinary things. But just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should. We did not come here to meet violence with violence. We came because we will not be intimidated by violence. And perhaps, to remind you, and these officers, that while we may walk softly, there is no stick larger than the one wielded by the people. This is not a war you can win. Not through fear, or through violence. But it is a war you can stop. We want an end to bloodshed, not more carnage.”

The mayor swallowed, and grabbed a megaphone from a nearby officer. She keyed it and spoke. “Men and women of the Seattle Police Department, on your feet.” She closed her eyes, steeling herself. “Go home. You’re relieved of duty for the evening. You’re no longer needed here.”

A roar erupted from the protestors as the police started to file away, one by one.

Breed Book 4, Part 11


Tucker knew his plan was insane. Even with the Dean’s help, even with all of the telepaths working in tandem, it was still a ludicrous endeavor, uniting the consciousness of the entire protest. But even that was a cake-walk, compared to ensuring each person maintained their discreet identity, and could communicate one to one with everyone else. They were at the same time of one mind, and thousands.

And so long as he didn’t focus on any one person, Tucker could feel all of them at once. He could feel Mikaela’s love of her father, and his outpouring affection for her, a bright light even in a sea of roiling emotions, even as dozens of her duplicates filled out the ranks of the crowd. He could feel Mayumi and Demi’s increasing warmth, and the glow of Iago and Drake so high in the sky there were hidden by the clouds.

On the front flanks were those with the most bombastic abilities, especially the kinetics: hydro, pyro, electromagnetic. Demi was there, with Mayumi, feeding off one another’s energy while trying desperately not to set off the fireworks too soon.  

Not a hundred feet in front of them was the police line, which was also Tucker’s to monitor. If the cops panicked and started shooting, all bets were off. The electromagnetikinetics had never tried to deflect let alone stop bullets, so the telepaths had to be their early warning system. They had to push it as far as they could, but without igniting the police powder keg.

“Everybody ready?” Tucker asked, his voice trembling even in his own head.

He was barely prepared for the answer that came, forceful, defiant, joyful, liberating: “Yes.”

An instant later they vocalized, nearly ten thousand voices strong, “Our lives matter.” The words were punctuated by rolling thunder as the clouds overhead turned from gray to black, and all but blotted out the sky. An instant later, and a hundred lightning strikes at once pounded the protestors, caught harmlessly by the electrokinetics. The pyrokinetics stole heat from the lightning to singe the very air, building a dozen dragons each the size of a city bus that did battle in the sky for a moment before forming lines for one final charge, all discharging in a fireball that filled the air between the city blocks, stopping just shy of igniting the skyscrapers to either side, but remaining in midair, crackling menacingly. Finally, the clouds opened, dousing the fireball. The deluge continued, ending in a ceiling of water stories tall ten feet over the police line, and building until it was nearly as big as the skyscraper at their backs.

Suddenly the air heated, hot enough the moisture began to evaporate, only for it to coalesce in the shape of a spire at the corner of the block.

“Boys, the finale’s all yours,” Tucker said.  

“If this doesn’t work, don’t let anyone make any jokes about how I died on Iago’s giant ice dick,” Drake said.

“No promises.” The spire began to tip, racing towards the gathered police line. At that height and speed, Tucker couldn’t see him, but knew Drake was riding it down towards street level. When it was a dozen feet from impact, the spire disappeared. Thunder rolled again, and the lights in the city went out, only for lights on the buildings surrounding the protestors to flicker back on, the rooms’s lights spelling out, “Our lives matter.”

Breed Book 4, Part 10


“Thanks for calling me,” Irene said.

“We called like all but literally everyone,” Mikaela said.

“Yeah, well, everyone doesn’t always include me.”

“Other than literally,” Iago said, and Drake elbowed him. “Ow. I mean, we’re happy to have you.” He elbowed Drake back. “And that was for you. Because you don’t need a big, beefy man to look out for you patriarchally.”

“Quick,” Mikaela said, “nobody point the irony in that one out to him.”

“Damnit,” he said.

“It was a nice thought,” Irene said, “if confused and convoluted.”

“Though speaking of everyone,” Demi said, looking at a bus pulling up. Keane, their dean, was the first one out.

“We chartered a few buses. It’s not the entirety of the student body- I insisted anyone with conditions that might be exacerbated by viral exposure continue quarantine- but anyone who hadn’t gone home to shelter is here. What do we need?”

“Mostly bodies,” Mikaela said. “Last night, they thought they could intimidate us into silence. So tonight, we have to show them that we aren’t going away, that this problem isn’t getting swept back under the rug this time. They have to deal with us, and contend with the issues animating us.”

“I admire your restraint… but I’m not sure it gets the job done. This is about more than solidarity- every other city in the country has that down. But we represent the greatest congregation of Breed in the world. We need to draw this line unmistakably, and I may have an idea as to how.” Mikaela barely heard the last few words, because she was focusing through the crowd to a man exiting out an aging Taurus.

“Dad?” she asked. “I, I need a moment, okay?”

“By all means,” Tucker said. “We’ll hold down the fort. And probably have to expand the fort to fit all these new settlers.”

Mikaela made excellent time through the crowd, and didn’t question it until she was nearly halfway to her father. In subtle ways, the crowd was parting for her, or otherwise moving out of her way, like someone was coordinating them around her. Mikaela spun on her heels, and Tucker shrugged playfully.

“I’m not late, am I?” her father asked, jamming his car keys into a pocket.

“Dad. I wasn’t sure you’d come.”

“You texted. Of course, I came.”

“I didn’t mean-”

“You did. And it’s okay. I might not always have; but I would have at least called, tried to talk you out of it. But… you’re not going to be talked out of this.”

“No, dad.”

“I… I like what you’ve done with your hair.”

“Really?” she touched her textured hair self-consciously. Cutting her chemically-straightened locks was still recent enough she didn’t expect the feel. “I thought you’d hate it.”

He smiled. “I might have… but I saw your post about it. I know what went into that decision, what it means to you, and that it wasn’t made lightly. I meant it. I like it like this. You’re more… you; that makes you more beautiful.” He let out a ragged sigh. “I never wanted to deny you that. I thought I could keep you safe from a world that hurt me too often, takes too often. I… I never realized I was binding you with my hopes, that my expectations were another invisible chain. I hope it’s okay, that I’ve been reading your posts.”

“I posted publicly because I needed it said, even if I didn’t think you’d ever read it.” She sniffed. “It’s a little scary; I told myself you wouldn’t, which I think let me be more open, and more vulnerable. But you’re here. And I know you’ve been protecting me my whole life. And I made it to now, healthy and mostly happy, in part because of that. I know you did the best you could, and it’s natural to have some regrets; I wish I’d been more open with you earlier. But this?” she spun, gesturing to the crowd gathering around them, and the police line coalescing opposite the protestors. “None of this is your fault.”

“A little is,” he said with a shrug. “Every day, we get a little more complicit as we go. I wanted to protect you from all of this, from the world, and I was stubborn and naïve enough to think I was pulling it off. But I’ve been reading your other posts, too, the last few days, and you’re right. We don’t need to be protected. We need a better world. We deserve one. And it’s up to us to make it. So of course I came. Maybe if I’d come sooner, I could have actually protected you.” “Dad, this struggle is the work of generations, and possibly might never be done. So don’t worry about how long it took you to get to the right place, just be in that right place, with me.” She took his hand and squeezed. “Just, stay behind me. Because I have the sneaking suspicion things could get pretty crazy before the night is up.”