The Story


30 years ago brought the first superhumans, regular people given great power seemingly at random.

15 years ago brought the paranormals, stranger and often weaker in their abilities, but far more numerous.

Today, the world holds its breath...

Or at least, it should.

Most people, though, are just trying to get on with their lives; some successfully, some less so. It's a sensible goal, but it's a bit hard to achieve when shadowy conspiracies and worldwide N.G.O.s are turning your city into a proxy battleground over world-shattering secrets. 

It's bad enough when you've just woken up with superpowers and terrorists are holding your school hostage. It's even worse if you're an illegal vigilante stuck in the middle of the whole Charlie Foxtrot after a supervillain raid drops vital information in your lap. 

For Hannah Eiling-Kingsford and Flint Perez, life is about to get a lot harder to get on with.

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Outliers is a superhero story. Okay, so not so much superhero as vaguely superhero-ish. It's about two teenagers dealing with, among other things, new powers, psycho exes, mysterious datapads and a giant, secret war between the foremost powers-that-be, over information that could forever change the world.

Again.

You know, normal teenage stuff.


Outliers updates Thursdays and Sundays at midnight AEST.

New 25-V

HANNAH
See You In The Aftermath.

Green Cloak’s body had disappeared.

“We realized shortly after you and Thrust set off,” Comet explained. She stood with obvious stiffness, one arm in a sling, and her costume still bore obvious patches where it had taken damage. She was upright and mobile, though, which was either impressive or worrying. I hadn’t decided which.

“Could the others have taken her body?” I asked. We were standing on a rooftop, the next evening. I’d received the location in a text from a blocked number, and had to sneak out once my parents were asleep so they didn’t see me breaking my enforced bedrest. Considering how walking up the stairs to get there had been a half-hour’s effort with frequent breaks, they may have been onto something.

“Possibly,” Comet conceded, “but… it does not exactly seem characteristic of either of the groups she was associated with, does it?”

“No,” I agreed with a sigh, “I guess it doesn’t.” I leant back against a wall. “Is it wrong that I kind of just wish she’d died?”

“Yes, it is. But… I understand what you mean. It would certainly make things easier.”

We were both silent for a moment as we looked out at the lake. “So,” I asked hesitantly after a moment. “What… what happens now?”

It took Comet a few moments to answer. “To tell the truth, I am not entirely sure. The entire Tower is in chaos with the loss of Paladin. Everyone is scrambling, and I’m being told very little about anything. Most are desperately trying to find out more about that datapad, to little avail.”

“What happened to it?”

“A recovery team found the remnants of it on the roof of an office building that had suffered heavy structural damage, along with a pile of decaying meat that they are fairly certain is the remains of… that man.” I didn’t have to ask who she was talking about.

“The Outliers?”

She nodded. “Most likely. Given the rest of the circumstances, we have just let them be for now. Bigger fish to fry.”

“And… me?”

She took a long, slow breath, and turned to face me. “In case it needs to be said, we owe you a great debt. You did what needed to be done, and saved a lot of lives by doing so.” I felt the flush in my cheeks, and turned my head away, pretending to cough to hide it. “However, you are still an unregistered super, who violated multiple laws.”

I froze. “Are you going to arrest me?”

“No. Again, though, it would make things much simpler. It just places me in an uncomfortable situation. I believe I have a solution, though. If you were to join the Guardians-”

“No!” The word shot out before I could stop myself, and I clapped a hand over my mouth in shock. “I mean- I’m honoured, really. But I just… I’m not… I…” I gritted my teeth. “It’s complicated,” I landed on at last. “I’m sorry.”

“To be honest,” Comet replied, slightly wryly, “I suppose I should’ve seen this coming. Then perhaps, for now, a continuation of our current relationship? You help us when we need it, and in return, certain wheels get… greased.”

I opened my mouth to- No, she doesn’t need to know. “I think that might be for the best,” I said instead. “I’ve got to admit, I wouldn’t have expected this much… rule-bending from you.”

“Neither would I,” she admitted. “One of the uncomfortable realities of authority.”

We lapsed into silence again. An unspoken question hung in the air between us.

“...it was quick,” I said at last, softly. “I don’t think she...”

“Thank you,” Comet replied, equally soft. “I’m… I’m glad to hear that."

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New 25-IV

FLINT
Listen, Honestly, I’ll Live.

I stopped just outside the parking garage, leaning against the wall and panting heavily. The walk over had been exhausting and painful, limping slowly with hands clutched around my ribs. The few people I'd passed on the way had averted their eyes, or even crossed to the other side of the road. Honestly, I was so covered in dust that they probably couldn't tell I was costumed, but I’m black, so. I was telling myself that stopping was just to recover before heading inside, but truth be told, I was scared of what I'd find in there.

Images bubbled up before I could stop them. The spray of blood as Lis collapsed, Talie impaled through the chest, my dad, in the instant before he slammed the door closed, fire roiling behind him-

I squashed them with a growl, no longer panting entirely from exhaustion. No wallowing, Flint. You're gonna go in there, and face up to whatever happened like a-

“Man, you really did it, didn't you?” My head snapped up, to find Void standing there. Her helmet was off, and her cape was wrapped around her midsection like a bandage, blood seeping through in a few places.  “That's a barely-victorious Flint pose if I've ever seen one.”

I leant back slowly against the wall, covering my eyes with one hand. “Great. I'm going crazy now. I knew it'd happen sooner or later, but I hoped I'd have a little more-”

A hand fell on my shoulder, and I froze. Slowly, I uncovered my eyes to find her standing in front of me, a tired smile on her face. “You're not crazy, Flint,” she said, voice full of good humor. “It's me.”

I slapped her hand away, shoving her back. “No,” I growled. “Void is dead. You're dead!”

She raised an eyebrow. “Flint. On the rooftop, before the first meeting, you told me not to condescend you, and I said you looked like you escaped from the Karate Kid reboot.”

I froze. “...Talie?” I asked, voice wavering.

She gave a thumbs up. “Got it in one… sort of.”

“I saw you die,” I said flatly. “A corpse with a great big hole in its chest.”

She laughed, looking a little confused. “Well, obviously not. Are you sure?”

“I didn't imagine it,” I snapped, without much conviction. Had I really… no, I was sure I’d seen it. I hadn’t been addled at all. But here she was, standing in front of me. “I didn’t.”

“Look, I don’t know what to tell you, Flint. He hit me pretty bad, knocked me down.” She gestured at the makeshift cape-bandage. “I’d take this thing off and show you, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only thing keeping me in one piece right now.”

“Yeah,” I muttered, “I know that feeling.” I made a decision. “I’m still sure of what I saw. But… that’s not the most important thing right now. I… I’m glad you’re okay, Talie.”

“Likewise.” She limped over and leant against the wall next to me. “As is everyone else, mostly. Lis’s knee is torn up pretty bad, and Jess was bleeding pretty badly for a bit there, but everyone’s stable and alive.”

It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I sagged into the wall. “Thank god,” I said quietly.

“Let’s be real, though, he could’ve killed all of us. Did you figure out why?”

“Honestly, I ended the whole thing more confused about him than I started out. Guess it’ll just be one of those things we never know.”

She shrugged. “Eh. I’m not too shaken up.”

“Yeah, me neither. Fuck that guy, and fuck his cryptic bullshit.”

I raised my stump, and Talie bumped it gently.

“You are gonna have to explain that, though," she said, glancing down at it.

"Trust me; you should see the other guy."

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New 25-III

HANNAH
Crazy Random Happenstance.

In the end, Kai ended up carrying me all the way home. I would’ve protested, but I really didn’t have any other options. Besides, I figured it wouldn't be too bad. Mom usually ended up working Saturday nights, and Dad had said he had a meeting.

So it came as no small surprise when we rounded the corner and found my house lit up like a christmas tree.

“D*mn,” Kai said, either not noticing or ignoring my sudden reticence. “This is a nice neighbourhood.”

“Uh, yeah,” I stammered. “Listen, I can make it from here. Thanks so much for all your help-” I disentangled myself from her, took one step and immediately fell flat on my face.

“Sure you can,” Kai said dryly as she hauled me back onto my feet. “Which one’s yours?”

I groaned, half in pain and half in defeat. “Fourth on the right.”

The door opened almost immediately after the bell, to reveal my dad standing there. He froze, eyes darting between Kai and I. I opened my mouth to say something, but before I could, he enveloped me in a crushing hug.

“dad,” i choked out. “Air.”

“Sorry, sorry.” He released me, stepping back. “We were just so worried-”

“David, who’s- HANNAH!”

“No!” I cried before I could stop myself. “No hugging,” I repeated, calmer. “Please. I’m very sore.”

Mom stopped halfway to me, slowly lowering her outstretched arms. “Oh. Of course.” I couldn’t quite read her expression.

We were hustled inside and into the kitchen. Kai tried to protest, but we were still entangled, and it got lost in the rush. She ended up sitting next to me on one of the kitchen stools, holding a steaming mug of tea and looking slightly bemused.

“What happened?” Mom demanded immediately. “Why weren’t you answering your phone?”

“We’re so glad you’re safe,” Dad added.

“We were so worried! How did you get hurt?!”

“We're so glad you're safe,” Dad repeated, glancing at Mom.

She backed off slightly. “Yes, of course. So glad.” Her glare still said how dare you, though.

“We, uh. Uh.” I glanced down at my own mug, trying to hide my face. I’d been too out of it to think of coming up with a story. “I was, er. It was-”

“We at the station,” Kai interjected smoothly, “when that… when it happened.” She sounded perfectly convincing as she lied. “Hannah got hurt in rush, but the whole area was in chaos. We thought it would be safer to get away rather than try and get to the hospital.”

My dad nodded, a bit teary. Mom looked less convinced. “And what were you doing at the station? And why didn’t we know you were there?”

I couldn’t muster up the energy to try and respond. “Sorry,” I muttered, head down.

“We’re just glad you’re okay,” Dad reassured me.

“And who are you?” Mom turned on Kai, who seemed a bit surprised by the sudden attention. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“Uh, my name’s Kai, ma’am.” Good call with the ma’am. “I’m, uh. I’m Hannah’s… friend.”

“That’s odd,” Mom replied suspiciously, “I don’t remember Hannah ever mentioning you be-”

Dad cut her off, laying a hand on her shoulder. “She’s Hannah’s friend, Sam,” he said with a slight grin. Oh no. “It’s very nice to meet you, Kai. Thank you for bringing our daughter home safe.”

“Uh,” she muttered, shrinking in her seat like she was trying to melt into it. “No problem.”

-----

“You didn’t have to do that,” I said quietly. Kai had made up an excuse about needing to go, and we stood on the front porch. “You didn’t have to do… any of this, I guess.”

She shrugged, a little awkwardly, hands in pockets. “Yeah, I guess I didn’t.”

“Well, uh. Thanks.”

Was she intentionally avoiding eye contact? “No problem.”

“Also,” I added, wincing slightly, “I think my parents think we were, uh. You know.”

She was definitely doing it deliberately. “What?”

I coughed. “You know.”

“This?” And then she kissed me.

It was… it was…

Well, it was private.

She drew back, leaving me standing there, gaping slightly. “I’ll, uh, call you.”

All I could do as she walked off into the night was mumble agreement. 

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New 25-II

FLINT
All The Times That You Beat Me Unconscious.

I clawed my way back up out of the darkness, and shot upright with a gasp.

I spun around frantically, heart pounding as adrenaline rushed through my system. Where was he, I needed to-

I froze, then sucked in a deep, slow breath. Calm, Flint. It’s over.

It’s over.

“Holy shit, I survived,” I said out loud. On some level, I honestly hadn’t expected to. Which was… worrying.

I hadn’t been out for more than a few minutes, I was pretty sure. The moon overhead was in pretty much the same place, and the all the blood had only just begun to congeal. That was good; if I’d been unconscious for longer than that it was probably a pretty good sign of lasting brain damage.

I let myself flop back onto the ground, and immediately regretted it as the motion made my ribs flare with pain. Oh right, I’m seriously injured. As if the thought had flicked a switch, awareness of all the places my body was fucked up came rushing back, including some I hadn’t been aware of before then. For example, my legs ached like a bitch, probably from the fall, and… I flicked my tongue around a bit inside my mouth experimentally. Yep, one of my teeth was wiggling around. Fuck me, that was gonna be hard to explain away.

I sighed, staring up at the stars. I really should get up and destroy the datapad, I thought tiredly. I should do that right now.

I continued to lie there.

Until, that is, the corpse next to me began to move.

“NO!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, shooting awkwardly to my feet. It was shaking and shivering, jolting around, and the fragments of head lying on the ground were too. “NO! YOU CAN NOT! I AM SO FUCKING DONE WITH ALL YOUR GODDAMN BULLSHIT-”

With a wet, gristly noise, the body came apart. The fragments that had previously spun in a vortex fell limply onto the ground, forming a bizarre pile of skin, meat and bone. I stared at it for a second, then sagged. Okay, so. Weird and gross, but better than the alternative. I resolved to come back with Lis and set fire to the pile, just in case.

I was about to turn towards the datapad, when a glimmer in the pile caught my eye. I frowned, turning back. Was that-

White crystals rose slowly out of the meat, streaming together, and then Edith reformed from them and dropped down to the ground.

I stared at her, frozen in shock. “H- you- how?!” I stammered.

She ignored me, straightening up and looking around. She must have shifted just before getting… absorbed, I guessed. It couldn’t have been pleasant or easy; she was so emaciated now that I was pretty sure I could actually see the white of her bones through her skin.

“Where is it?” she said flatly.

I glanced around, and spotted it in the corner of my eye, almost directly behind me. My body must’ve been blocking it from her. “Edith,” I said slowly. “It’s not going to help.”

“Where,” she repeated, “Is. It.”

“E,” I said softly. She froze. “It’s too dangerous. You know that. You can’t even look at the fucking thing without turning into an M.C. Escher painting.”

“You seemed to have managed.”

“Exceptional circumstances.” Ones that I was still pretty fuzzy on. “And trust me, you really don’t want to try and replicate them.”

“So what do you want me to do, then? Just… give up?

Yes. “No. But, just. Drop this one. Find another lead.”

“I have spent a year and a half looking, and this has been the only one. But sure, I’ll just find another one under a rock.”

“Edith, it’s not a lead, it’s a weapon.” I clenched my fists. “I want her to be found too, you know that, right? But this… no-one can have it. It’s too dangerous.”

“I won’t use it.”

“You don’t have to. Someone else just has to hear you have it, and come and take it. Like we did when we set this whole mess off in the first place.”

“It would be worth it.”

“...would Eve agree?” I asked softly.

It was like I’d punched her in the gut. For a second, I almost thought she was going to collapse. Then the moment passed, and she recovered. She growled wordlessly at me, then disintegrated into a stream of salt and disappeared over the edge of the building.

I sighed, limped over to where the datapad lay, and carefully and methodically smashed it into a thousand tiny pieces.

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New 25-I

HANNAH
Not A Good Sound.

In the space between losing one body and ending up back in the other, I saw something. Only for a moment, only just the briefest flicker, but I still comprehended what it was.

It was me.

Or, not. Not quite. It looked like me, almost, but it- she, was made entirely up of strands of light, twisted together to form the shape of a person, like a hologram. The strands were every color I could imagine, and some I couldn’t, of varying thicknesses and opacities. The other me hung in a void of white, one hand reached out towards me, an expression of worry on her face. Instinctively, I reached out to grasp her hand-

And I woke up.

It wasn't as violent as before, when I'd been forced. I didn't slam back into the body so much as I was dropped. My senses returned, wind and exhaust and cold and blood, and then the pain came a second later. My head throbbed incessantly, and when I tried opening my eyes, my vision was almost entirely white, and swimming around the edges. There was still some blood in my mouth, and my lungs and stomach were as raw and painful. I coughed weakly, which only made the pain worse, and another splash of blood flew up into my mouth, making me gag. Some of it dribbled out of the corner of my mouth, and I tried to reach up and wipe it away.

My arm twitched slightly from where it lay at my side, but that was it. I frowned, and tried again. This time it jerked up a little further, but it was like the energy I was using away was bleeding away before it got to my arm. I tried moving my other limbs in turn, and got the same result. Even moving my head forward took a monumental amount of effort. Standing up, or even sitting up, was out of the question. I guess the internal beating wasn't the only consequence, I thought, too drained to be anything but wry.

I wasn't breathing properly either, I realized, which might explain why my vision was so faded. I concentrated on my lungs, putting as much effort as I could into every inhalation and exhalation, and slowly my brain started to come back into focus. I hadn't even realized the effect it had been having on me until it went away. What would've happened if I hadn't? Would I have continued to lie there, slowly asphyxiating without knowing? What a way to go, especially after everything I'd already-

The memories I'd temporarily managed to forget about came rushing back, and I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to banish the gory images from my mind, and failing miserably. Visions of blood, of body parts scattered across the pavement, filled my mind, and i lost control of my breathing again, devolving into short, panicked-

“Holy sh*t!”

I jerked my head up, which in my current state translated to raising it slightly. A second attempt managed to lift it far enough to see a pair of legs in front of me.

“Wisp?” a familiar voice asked. “Uh… Hannah? Are you…?”

After a couple of goes, I got my mouth moving in vaguely the right manner. “Hey Kai,” I slurred tiredly.

“Jesus,” she muttered, hunkering down into my field of view. Her face was covered in scratches, and a bruise was beginning to form on her cheekbone. One of the lenses on her sunglasses was cracked, and I could see a little bit of her eye through it. “What happened? To you, and, uh, in general.”

“Long story,” I murmured. “Really long, really awful story.”

“I’ll bet.” She rocked back a little. “Can you stand?”

I tried to laugh, but just sort of coughed instead. A little more blood trickled out of the corner of my mouth.

“...I’ll take that as a no.” She moved beside me and slipped one arm under mine and around my torso. I could barely feel it. “Come on, up.” She hauled me onto my feet, sending my head spinning, and she held me up as I recovered. “Let’s get you to a hospital.”

“No!” The force of the words surprised me as much as it did. “No,” I repeated, more calmly. “I don’t… it’s not a good idea.”

She looked me up and down, the implicit message obvious. But, thankfully, she didn’t protest. “Let’s get you to a train station, then."

"Er," I said as we began to limp off into the night. "About that."

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Speak 24-Vignette


I Am Sick.

One year and eight months ago, or thereabouts.

“Edith?” Flint asked hesitantly. He went to place a hand on her shoulder, but paused as she flinched away.

“...sorry,” she said after a moment.

“It’s okay,” he replied carefully. “Are you…”

She stared off into nothing, and didn’t reply.

“If you two are done with yer little cry-fest, I could use some help over here,” Lisette called irritatedly from the other side of the room. She was currently dragging the corpse on of the twins over to one corner of the room, where she’d already moved the halves of other one and Schism.

Flint ignored her, turning back to Edith. “E, I…” he trailed off, words failing him. His mind was still reeling; he’d gone from never seeing anyone die to four within the space of a minute. And that wasn’t even getting into who’d done the killing. And to whom it had been done. “Edith,” he repeated after a second. “I… what’s next? What happens now?”

For a second, he wasn’t sure she’d even heard her. Then, slowly, she let out a long breath, and seemed to… return to her body, he supposed. He wasn’t sure where she’d been, but he doubted it was pleasant. “I don’t know,” she said hoarsely, almost too quiet for him to hear. “I really don’t know.”

He put his hand on her shoulder again, and this time she didn’t jerk away.

“I’m… this was supposed to be it, you know?” she said quietly. He opened his mouth to reply, then realized it wasn’t really a question, and closed it again. “I was supposed to… she was supposed to…” she choked on the words for a second. “...she was supposed to be here. Everything that happened, everything I went through - everything I did. It was going to be worth it. For her. But now…” She made a vague gesture with one hand, and Flint tried not to flinch at the blood staining her skin. “I’m lost.”

“Sometimes…” he tried hesitantly, “life doesn’t work like that.”

He realized even before finishing that it was the wrong thing to say.

She spun on him, knocking his hand away. “Why not?!” she demanded, and he realized she was crying, eyes swollen and red. “Why can’t it?! Why should I have to go through all this, why should I have to suffer? Why should I have to kill and lie and fight my own mother, and then find out the whole reason I’ve been doing it is completely useless!” She was yelling by the end of it, and she shoved him violently back.

“Edith-” he began to say, but she cut him off.

She’s gone!” she screamed. “My. Sister. Is. Gone. She’s probably being… sold for parts in some third-world country, or- or-” her fists clenched, and blood started dripping from them. “...and I failed,” she finished, all the anger draining out of her as quickly as it had come. “I failed, Flint. It’s my fault she’s gone.”

“Edith, that’s not-”

“YO!” They both jumped, and turned to see Lisette waving at them, looking irritated. “Can I please get a hand here?”

“Give us a minute!” he replied. “Edith,” he continued, turning back, “this isn’t your-” But she was already moving, brushing past him and stalking over to where the other girl stood. Sighing, he followed.

Lisette had finished moving the corpses into their corner, where they lay in a limp pile on top of one another. A pool of blood had started to form underneath them, and a nauseating smell was beginning to drift over to them. Flint gagged involuntarily, but apart from a grimace on the latter’s part, neither Lisette nor Edith seemed particularly effective. Lisette was standing with her foot on the chest of Crusade, casually pointing a pistol at his head like it was the most natural thing in the world. Flint had seen people more tense while waiting for a bus, and, not for the first time, worried about the woman he’d gotten mixed up with.

“There’s no bounty on this one,” she said to Edith as they arrived, “so I personally don’ give a rat’s arse what happens to him. I can shoot him if ya want, but I’ll be wanting the fifty cents for the bullet.”

“We can’t kill him!” Flint protested. “Look at him!” The man in question was still unconscious, head lolled to one side and a string of drool stretching to the ground. “I can’t believe you’d-”

“Off,” Edith said quietly, waving a hand. Lisette shrugged, but acquiesced, stepping away, but keeping the gun drawn.

“Thank you,” Flint said, obviously relieved. “Can we-”

Edith stomped on Crusade’s stomach, hard. The Cabalist jerked upwards, choking, eyes slamming open.

“The fuck?!” Flint yelled involuntarily.

Ignoring him, she kept her foot on his stomach, and leant down close. One of her hands wrapped around his throat, not squeezing, but definitely considering it.

“Randall,” she said. Her voice was… empty. Like a robot. “You saw what happened to my mother. Either you give me a better answer, or the same thing happens to you. But this time, I won’t make it quick. You’ll probably bleed out before I finish cutting, to be honest. I’m not too concerned. The end result is the same.”

“Edith,” Flint said, staring at her in horror, “what the fuck.”

“So,” she continued, ignoring him. “What happened to Eve. Who did my mother sell her to. And how can I find them.” She drew back the hand around his throat, and it suddenly turned into a whirling blade of salt. “Think fast.”

“I don’t know!” he blurted out immediately, eyes wide and shaking. “I never met them, it was all-”

The salt blade grew closer, and he cried out as blood flew from his neck. “Wrong answer,” Edith said dispassionately.

“...they never gave a name,” he said hurriedly. “A man just… appeared in here. Said they’d been watching us, that they could offer us power, if we gave them… people.”

“Any people?”

“N-no. They had to have powers, or be closely related to someone who did. That’s why-”

“When was the last time he was here.”

“A-a few months ago.”

“Did he say how he found you.”

“N-no.”

“What did he look like.”

“L-large. Tall, white. Had a beard, bald, wore a suit.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Randall,” she said, and cut his head off.

Flint stared at her in muted shock as she stood up, dusting her hands off. “E-edith, wh-”

She spun on him. “You know what kind of person he was! What kind of things he did! He didn’t deserve to be alive any more.”

Lisette nodded, seeming impressed. “Checks out fer me.”

“What was the point!” he yelled. “So many people had already died, why did there have to be one more?!”

“So that there were no witnesses,” she said grimly.

“W-what?” he stammered, caught off-balance.

“This person thought the Cabal could work for them. Serve their purpose. My mother is gone, but the Cabal doesn’t have to be.”

Realization dawned on him. “Edith, no. No no no no no, you can’t.”

“It’s the only way, Flint.” The words sounded like she was pleading, but as she met his eyes, he found them completely empty. “It’s the only lead I have.”

“Edith, you’d have to- you just said, everything you’ve done-”

“Will be worth nothing if I don’t find her,” she shot back. “If I stop here, everything I’ve done will be for nothing.” Something, some unreadable expression, shone through on her face for a moment, only to disappear again. “...I can’t do that, Flint.”

“So, what,” he demanded, “you’re going to become your mother? Take over? You’re sixteen, Edith. And half the Cabal are dead, anyway!”

“I’ll make it work,” she snapped. “By any means necessary.”

Flint looked down at the corpse of Crusade, and then at the pile in the corner, and a shiver ran down his spine. “Edith,” he tried again, “please. This isn’t right. This isn’t going to solve anything. Let’s just… let’s just go. Let’s leave this fucking building and never come back, let’s go home and get all the blood off and put this entire thing behind us. Please.

She stared at him. “...no,” she said at least, so impossibly tired. “I can’t. I’m sorry, Flint. I need to do this. This blood,” she raised her stained hands, “isn’t ever coming off. I might as well get some use out of it.”

She turned and began walking away. “Edith!” he called after her. “I’ll… I’ll report you! To the Tower, I’ll tell them about-”

“No,” she said sadly, without turning around. “You won’t.”

He watched her leave, and wished she was wrong.

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