Song of the Earth

To Save the Sun

Once Will equips America and Daniel‘s party with communication devices that should function across temporal lines (at least, they work in the lab) it’s time for everyone else to get to their tasks.

Karasi rather earnestly explains to Will that it’s going to take her a while to get ready, stressing that there are differences between the Batini and Adept paradigms. “It’s not as fast as clicking the button on the mouse,” She says, clearly never having programmed a day in her life. She finds a place where she can whirl undistractedly for a little while, either in Will’s room or Alex’s or somewhere she can easily call them over when ready.

That leaves Will to do the work of spreading the word. He starts with the Spies’ Demise. The Virtual Adepts are only too happy to spread the word, each one becoming an acolyte of Will’s message, contacting their networks. He’s able to post on the internet, drawing sleepers into the cause. People contact him, post messages—I’m in Australia. I’m in Europe. I’m in Nigeria. Can I help? What about South America? How far down does the Network extend? What about Panama?

Alex too has his own contacts. There’s not a lot that is vulgar in this brave new world. Sunlight. Growing things. Communication and transportation, making Correspondence the most difficult sphere to work with. But the Hermetics, like the Adepts, are willing to take on the work of paradox. Many of their chantries have their own power systems separate from the technocratic grid—many more cabals have chosen to set up their chantries in their own Realms, insulating the Hermetics from the worst devastation. They wield Forces and may be the Traditions with the best available expertise to clear the atmosphere. First from Yorick, then across the country, then the hemisphere, Hermetic chantries begin spreading the word, corresponding with Alex, sending him any relevant texts they can find on Tecumseh’s work, on the Web of Faith. They organize volunteers to sift through the reading and send Alex only the most relevant in libraries and libraries of texts.

Sapphira organizes the local Verbena. They may be slower, but they contact other covens too. Given enough time, they may be able to contact all of the cabals on the continent. But even with the impressive progress they’ve made in several hours, the Network doesn’t become repowered.

Finally, later into the afternoon, Karasi is ready, wherever she is. Linda will also join them onhand so that someone can monitor the situation who is not actively in a ritual.

Will scoffs quietly when Karasi says that, but apparently he has manners enough not to shit talk her antiquated failure of a paradigm to her face. The best place for her to work might actually be the living room: half the cabal is away on other errands anyway, and those who are left can just steer clear. His room isn’t exactly quiet anyway, as various devices ding with notifications of incoming messages. Honestly he doesn’t know if people outside of North America can help, but he turns none of them away. They certainly can’t hurt.

He lends Linda whatever equipment she might need to help monitor them, joining Karasi in the living room. All Will has brought with him is his handheld, the only focus he’s ever needed. “Where do we start?”

Alex has found himself in the living room as well. Since Will’s chantry was renovated to remove any potential surveillance by Kate, the crawl space has become far too crowded for this kind of work. He’s set himself up in an open corner with a chair and a pile of newly arrived tomes to the right, as well as a smaller pile to the left of him, books he’s already poured over. He’s also prepared an almost complete circle on the floor with a (hopefully not permanent) marker, to be finished once the ritual begins. He looks up from his book at Will’s question. “Shall we create the lock first? No sense in address this issue about filling the Net if others still have the potential to drain it, yeah?”

“We will create the lock first,” Karasi says in the midst of her whirls, her tone much less questioning than it normally is. Her paradigm is so alien to at least Will it’s hard to tell she’s ready outside of the fact she just told them. The Darwushim extends both of her hands. “Take my hand, both of you.”

She’s not whirling at super-speed, but it’s not slow either. The Algerian has had years to perfect spinning like this, but there will be some awkwardness for either of them to step in and spin with her without stumbling over themselves.

Linda watches from a distance on the couch, shooting Will a short IM: Magick, 200 BC.

His handheld blips. Will glances at the screen, then exchanges a look with Linda, quirking his lips.

The Adept watches Karasi spin for a few seconds, in much the same way that a child might gauge when to leap into a jump rope. Fríða‘s paradigm was alien to him, too, but he and America still made it work. Trying to keep an open mind, he chooses his moment and steps forward, taking Karasi’s right hand.

Will isn’t particularly nimble at the best of times. He nearly trips over his own feet as he tries to get up to speed, a soft sound of consternation slipping past his lips. But as the Batini’s sense of space settles over him, he finds the right pace, which means now he can just focus on not feeling stupid. How do mystic Traditions not just get embarrassed all the time at how ridiculous they look?

Alex watches Will’s cautious attempt to join Karasi’s spinning with amusement, knowing full well he won’t be any more graceful. He gently places a ribbon in the spine of the book he is work through, to hold his place for when he can return to it. As he gets to his feet he carefully places it on the chair before approaching the twirling duo. He waits until he can catch Karasi’s free hand at a good angle, allowing it to dictate his movements once he grasps it.

It’s not exactly easy for Karasi to spin gracefully while holding two people’s hands, but even with their Correspondence-enhanced perception they don’t notice her fumble. She gets them into the pattern, trusting the Correspondence to keep them up. Then she lets go of Will’s hand, then Alex’s. Both mages are able to keep their footing, keep up the pattern of the spin with the gift of Karasi’s perception. It’s not like neither of them have ever had Correspondence perceptions before, but… not like this. And spinning without nausea, knowing you’re doing it completely, perfectly in synch with the others is kind of fun.

It’s not really possible for Will to access his tech right now, but Alex feels Karasi access Forces, like a nimbus of fire swirling around her and then spill out onto the others, breaking into mesmerizing patterns. It’s what she’s doing that he’s not completely sure—there are Hermetic rituals that use spinning as a focus, but the motions are more of a language to themselves, not endless repetition.

Abruptly Karasi stops spinning, leaving the other two to slow down and stop on their own. “There,” She begins. “I think I—” Her eyes roll up into the back of her head as the two Avengers come to a stop, and all three collapse, their bodies making a perfect equilateral triangle from head to toe to head (and in Karasi’s case, her fingertips making up the extra two inches to Alex’s foot).

Linda stares at the three sprawled out on the floor, insensate. “Goddamnit.” She exhales, and puts her eyes to her handheld.

Will finds himself in a broad golden grassland. It immediately reminds him of his home in Iowa. There may have been a city or four built on top of it, but this is what the land looked like, and still does in some places. Ahead of him, in the distance, he can see a river. The sun is high, the air is warm, with a cool breeze blowing off the river itself.

More importantly, he immediately recognizes that this is the Digital Web. Or… it operates like the Digital Web. Close enough to make no difference, but he’s in a place of power for his Tradition.

Karasi almost-recognizes the chaparral she finds herself in. Maybe not exactly the same, but the climate, the landscape reminds her of Algiers, where she was born. She sends a message to Alex through their shared wraith. I’m in shrubland. Warm, dry. Where are you? There’s something else about this place… She still has quite the view, but the rolling hillsides don’t allow her to view as much of the distance as Will can. She walks over a patch of wildflowers, kneeling to smell and touch them. “Amazing,” She says to herself. “It’s so… real.”

Alex finds himself neither in the Digital Web or the Web of Faith, but a place of power unique to him. In contrast to the wide-open vistas of Will and Karasi, he is in a deciduous temperate forest. It’s cooler here, and so verdant, as the densely-packed trees acquire new growth for spring. White flowers and other plants bloom on the forest floor, though there is a footpath laid out for him. Sunlight filters through the trees, and it’s hard to see very far at all, in this haze of green and gold. But Alex recognizes some truth even as he catches Karasi’s message.

This is Tecumseh’s Net.

Alex takes some time to absorb everything around him, both out of academic curiosity, as well as the simple fact that between the Chantry, London and Cincinnati, he hasn’t had much opportunity to experience such abundant life.

I’m in a forest, he sends back to Karasi. Deciduous. There is so much life here, it’s hard to believe a Master of Forces could have created it. He follows the footpath with his eyes as far as he can through the forest, before willing himself to walk it.

Will staggers, his brain still imagining that he spins. As his vision clears he turns in place again, more slowly, taking in the landscape. Drawing in a deep breath of the clear air, he responds to the instinct to check his handheld.

As the readings scroll past, too fast to read, a sense of rightness settles over him. He’s never entered any part of the Web that looks like this, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be it. Will trudged forward slowly, dividing his attention between his handheld and his surroundings, headed for the river.

I’m not so sure it’s Life. Alex, I think we’re in the Web of Faith. I mean I’ve never been in the Web of Faith, but it’s so similar it must be the same. The sensations from the ghost are too random to make much sense of, beyond the words Karasi is speaking to him.

There is an incompleteness to Alex’s landscape—and the others, as well. There are plants, fungi, moss, but no animals. Not that he can see. There are distant sounds that might be, but he’s unsure. Even so, the place is a verdant wonderland. He hears water in the distance.

Will reaches the river. There is a fork, and Will immediately reads that the water forms a natural boundary. Whatever is beyond, it’s not the Digital Web.

A message comes through the speakers on his device. Karasi. “Will, can you hear me?”

His eyes trace along the path of the river, and then beyond it to the opposite shore. Will frowns, wondering what over there is, but he’s drawn from his reverie by the crackling voice in his palm. “Yeah,” he replies, lifting it to his mouth like a walkie-talkie. “Are you with Alex? I’m pretty sure I’m in the Digital Web.”

I meant more that I wasn’t expecting the energies here to manifest in such a life-like form, Alex clarifies as he continues along the path, although, this is the world that Tecumseh created. I suppose he could shape it anyway he likes.

“No, I’m not with Alex.” Karasi’s cadence is a little slowed as she tries to listen to both men’s conversation at once. “But we’re talking through Ada. I believe I’m in the Web of Faith. Are you suggesting they’re the same thing?”

Will really needs ten, twenty minutes to study the readings he’s getting, but he has a pretty good sense they’re not. This Sector is huge. It also connects directly to what he’s sure is the Net(work), and perhaps a bit less directly, to another realm—and that one is where Karasi is located. This is as close as he can get to programming the Network while remaining in the Digital Web, without using any code that Kate contributed over the past year.

A message from Linda pops up on his screen. Will. Are you in the Web? She must know if she’s asking, but it’s not exactly a logical expectation for someone who collapsed.

As Alex heads down the path, he, too will find a natural barrier created by a river, though it looks someone different from the river in Will’s plains.

“No,” Will replies immediately, doing his best not to sound like the idea is absurd. “But if they’re both predicated upon Correspondence networks they’re probably related. Where’s Alex?”

He sits in the grass with his handheld, patiently poring over the readings he’s getting. “I think I can work from here. Whatever we’re supposed to be doing.” Yeah, he types back to Linda. My body’s still there, right?? Holistic projection is absolutely a thing in the Digital Web, but it’s usually the purview of Dreamspeakers or Glass Walkers. And it’s dangerous. Will only ever enters astrally.

Alex makes his way to the edge of the river. He kneels down on one knee, and dips his hand briefly into the water, pulling it up in a cup shape to watch the water drain through his fingers. I’ve come to a river. Are you anywhere near one? Any sign of Will?

Your body is here. Linda confirms. A_ll three of you are touching. I’m going to leave you that way._ Maybe it’s required for them to maintain the connection Karasi created to the VW, she doesn’t know.

Alex sees Nadira’s reflection in the water, and abruptly notices her beaming radiantly behind him. The last time his Avatar appeared as the dead Nephandus it held his hand onto a burner. He might be beginning to figure his Avatar takes this form when it wants to be nasty with him. “We created this place. This is ours.”

Yes, I’m talking to him now. Hang on. Karasi answers him. A moment later the voice changes from a voice in his head to an external voice in the wilderness. “I think we’re all here.” While Alex will hear both of them from all around, Will will hear them on his speakers. “Will was saying he’s in the Digital Web, and no, I’m not near a river.”

“He might be in the Digital Web,” Nadira says for Alex’s ears alone. “You’re in our Net.”

“I think… we can make any changes we want here. I can lock the Network from here.”

“So what do you want to do with this power you’ve lost?” Nadira asks Alex.

“You know what I want to do.” Alex replies to his avatar, slightly wary of her reaction. “I want to bring back the sun. I want to make it rain. We’ve created something here that is deeply destructive, and we’ve seen the result. I need to right that wrong, use the Net to fix what I broke.”

“That’s not surprising,” he then calls back to the voice in the wilderness, “Isn’t there a door between the Web and my Net?” He’s never really thought of the Net as his own, but it is a sort of heirloom, isn’t it? “You’re sure this lock will allow us to continue accessing its power? We have a lot of work to do. Does Will not need to be in the Net with us?”

“I think I’m in the Web of Faith, not the Network.” Karasi replies. “I think this is how it’s supposed to be. I was still able to reach both of you, and strengthen the connection between both of you.”

Nadira doesn’t reply to Alex’s remarks. She might still be pleased, she might be… waiting. Maybe she’s just here to stand over Alex’s shoulder so he works harder.

“I’m near a river. Whatever’s on the other side, it’s not the Digital Web. Maybe the water is a boundary between networks?” Will hypothesizes aloud for Karasi’s benefit.

He still isn’t trying to manipulate anything around him. He’s skimming through lines and lines of code, tapping here and there on his screen to seek greater detail on a given point. “We’ve got root access,” Will pipes up again. Realizing the term is likely lost on Karasi, he paraphrases, “Administrative access. Like superusers. Someone else tried to gain this level of clearance…” The boy is quiet as he reviews the information on screen. “Kate. Probably when she and I entered the Net via the Digital Web. I can scrape her code out to make sure she can’t build a backdoor.” He yanked all of her work out of the chantry, so he knows what to look for. Will gets to work on that. Better to start from a secure base.

“Once she’s cut off, we’ll begin.” Alex replies more as an acknowledgement of Will’s presence than anything else. Until everything is in place, Alex decides to play around with the Forces in the Net, attempting to stir up and control the flow of a breeze with a few words and gestures.

The landscape responds easily to Tecumseh’s will here, almost as if it were responding to thought and not a focus at all. It’s easy for Alex to escalate into both broader and more intricate workings than he is normally able to in the physical world, certainly not on his own without a time-consuming ritual.

Kate’s code here is much less artful than usual. Like them, she too was exploring what would work to affect the Network. Will is able to remove it with only a little difficulty. To be fair he’s always been a more talented programmer than Kate, and he’s better than her at this.

Once Will finishes, Karasi executes her ritual. There is a layer of consent required from both mages—Will receives a notification that user Karasi wants to close all further root access, and Alex senses her presence and Will’s, like bright golden lights, as Karasi attempts to form a circle of power with them.

Once they allow the change, each of them independently feels something. They are going to use the Net to fix the world. All of them knew they wanted to before but now they KNOW they will, they have to. In exchange for their access, this place has bound that need even deeper in their bones.

If Will became a Marauder, he would still strive to fix the weather. If Karasi was a Nephandus, she would still be helpless but to fix the world. If Kal murders everyone that Alex has ever known, he will never be able to kill himself, he will strive to fix what he broke as long as there is thought in his mind. No external force will break that power of stewardship, certainly now that they can perceive.

The Batini is silent a moment as she weighs the implications.

Will feels a smug satisfaction as he clears out every trace of Kate from this place. He won’t forgive her, even understanding now what she is; the hurt and betrayal is too fresh. She Awakened him. She shaped his view of the world around him so intimately that he will be finding her fingerprints for years to come, if they all live that long. And then she used him to try to destroy it. This is one place she cannot touch.

He responds without hesitation when Karasi’s notification pops up on his handheld. His screen dims while she completes the ritual, and Will looks up and away from it at the surrounding landscape. When his device chirps, he turns his attention back to it, skims through the information on the screen. As a technomancer, it’s harder for him to wrap his head around a feeling, but he’s able to tentatively probe his new relationship to this place with the use of his focus, comprehending it through the lens of Correspondence and parameters. There is no severing his connection to the Net now, or his duty to it. Maybe Tecumseh’s old vengeance spirits will finally be satisfied.

“That’s… something,” Will says quietly as they all let it sink in. “Maybe now it’ll be easier to refuel it?”

Alex basks in the sensation of the Net conforming to his will, without the limitations he experiences in the physical world. He asks for rain, thunder, to prepare the network, and himself, in some small way for a new purpose. He finds confidence as the feeling of duty washes over him. This will work. They will fix the world, an no one will be able to use his Net as a weapon again.

“I think it will,” Alex responds to Will’s disembodied voice. “We’ve given the Net a purpose as much as it has us.”

Thunder breaks across the sky, an almost gentle roll that goes on and on. Then the first bit of lightning forks through the sky. There is a resounding crash, and it begins to rain.

Will sees the droplets falling onto the river, first, disturbing the water in little ripples. Then he notices the rolling grey clouds in the sky—magick from the Network coming over into this Sector of the Digital Web, becoming the code for a storm. The water lands in his eyes, gentle now.

In the Web of Faith, Karasi stands at the crest of the hilltop where she can see the river rolling through the valley. It’s begun to rain, a heavy, wondrous storm that plasters her hair and clothing to her body, the droplets falling fat and hard to the ground. “It’s raining,” She sends to the others.

He can do this. Alex can change its purpose, and his. But it will be permanent. Specializing in a school of magick normally takes decades of study, as it did the first time with Tecumseh. If he decides to take a new course now, it will be his course for the rest of his natural life as Alex Cinna.

For once Alex’s constantly-disapproving Avatar looks really pleased with him. Sometime he wasn’t watching she transformed into his mother.

“I’ve called a storm.” Alex sends back, not entirely surprised that it’s affected the Web of Faith. It seems these three areas are more like geographical features of one plane than three distinct Horizons.

Alex embraces the new course without hesitation. Whatever the results, at least this is a path of his choosing.

“It’s raining here too.” Will types a quick message to Linda. It’s locked down, and it’s raining inside. Anything change yet out there?

“How do you think we’d use this place to trap Kal?” Will adds as an afterthought. “Are we literally talking about sealing him in here somehow?”

Oddly, Will gets a read response, like Linda has the window open, but no actual response. Linda takes her phone to the toilet, she wouldn’t step away at a time like this.

“That part I’m not sure,” Karasi admits. “We could always design it so its primary function was to trap Archmages but I think Alex has already set its purpose. Maybe… we got here. Can we bring others here and leave them? It could be a side-effect of the energy, structural integrity, without being its key purpose.”

“I am concerned about imprisoning him here, with so much power he could potentially access.” Alex responds quietly. “What if we instead created a separated network for him, infused with static resonance? Sort of like a holodeck paradise to keep him locked away safely.”

“Yeah, I definitely didn’t mean we should drop him off with unfettered access…” Will sounds distracted; he’s watching Linda’s IM window with rapidly growing unease. Johann has accessed their chantry before, and the three of them are totally vulnerable while they’re in here. “Guys, Linda stopped answering me.” He doesn’t send her any further messages in case someone else has her device. “Can either of you tell what’s going on back in the chantry? Maybe we should finish this discussion in our own bodies.”

“I can’t feel a thing,” Karasi says. “I’ll wake us up.” Their awakening is abrupt, but much less so than how they fell asleep—they come to sudden and groggy.

Will’s fears are realized. Linda stands with a dazed look in her eye, head tilted at an angle. As tall as she is, at 6’, Johann is taller, his massive frame towering over her. He holds one shoulder in his hand, and with the other a long, very thin blade in his hand resting at her ear. There is an unfocused look in his eye, he’s stoned, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous. “Don’t move, any of you, or I’ll finish the job Kate should’ve.” The little blade will lobotomize her as well as the Web crashing with her mind in it. “You’re fast, but not that fast.”

“Kal sent me to deliver a message.”

Will sits up as soon as he comes around, but he freezes there at the sound of Johann’s voice. His eyes fix on Linda, and his hand slides out to one side beside him, feeling for where he must have dropped his handheld. He stops looking for it when he spots Johann’s weapon. “So spit it out.”

Johann pauses to make sure none of them are going to try anything. His hand relaxes, the angle of the blade at her lobe, but not positioned into her ear canal now.

“Kal would like you to know that he is going to remove you, permanently, from the Tellurian within 24 hours. And not just you,” He gestures at the three of them with his off-hand, at Linda, “But anyone who has ever sheltered within this Chantry, every ”/wikis/daughters-of-mnemosyne" class=“wiki-page-link”> Daughter and Adept who has been co-conspirator. This is a courtesy to let you get your affairs in order first, including any shot at fixing the weather." He watches their reaction steadily.

Will’s jaw sets at that. It just means they have a tight deadline, that’s all. His fingers find his handheld at last. His cut-and-paste rote has been bound to a hotkey for over a year now; at the press of a button, Linda vanishes from Johann’s arms. He’s moved her upstairs. Hopefully Alex is feeling lucky and/or violent today.

Alex lies still as Johann delivers his message, his hand gently resting above is Raging Bull. He patiently observes the intruder as he speaks. He waits for the right moment, knowing that Will is already working out how to get Linda to safety.

As their helpless ally vanishes, two Latin words escape Alex’s mouth, “fortuna mecum.” At the same time his gun finds itself in his hand, trained on Johann. A bullet flies from the barrel as the last syllable of his luck charm escapes from Alex’s lips.

Just as he pulls the trigger Alex feels the paradox explode, all of it coming at once. The bullet travels past Johann, ricocheting on the wall as it travels to barely miss a mirror—that would’ve been seven years bad luck, Alex—and ricochet off the next wall. Karasi starts spinning even as the Paradox carries the bullet across the room, in an improbable, impossible course of events before bouncing off the ceiling to lodge itself in Alex’s right foot.

“This is what Kal’s up against. Amazing.” Johann replies sardonically.

Karasi pulled some energy off the passing bullet—though clearly not enough—that she uses to enhance her whirling, the air rippling from kinetic energy. Unfortunately outside of softening the impact of the bullet, Ahl-i-Batin are really not great at combat without a lot of preparation, and Karasi can’t whirl herself into a combat state before the Homunculus knows what’s going on. “I’ll leave you to it. Think of how you want to spend this time.”

In the sudden confusion, Will pushes himself up to his feet, only to flinch and duck at the bullet bouncing off half the walls in the room. There’s no time to assess Alex’s wound now – by this point isn’t he used to getting shot anyway? His handheld notifies him that Johann is attempting to bail out, and he responds by trying to swiftly put up a firewall around the room to keep the homonculus /in/. “Do you want to see ”/characters/aaron-spaulding" class=“wiki-content-link”>Aaron again?" If the correspondence effect doesn’t hold him, maybe Will can keep his attention instead.

How silly of Alex to forget that in the physical world, magic hates him. He inhales sharply through his teeth at the bullet strikes his foot. Of all the Avengers and honoraries in the room to get shot, it’s certainly best that the bullet went for him. His history of being killed by gunshots has made it much easier for him to bury the pain and focus on firing another round at Johann. No magic this time, just good old fashion aiming.

Johann holds out his hand, the bullet disappearing before it reaches him. “What?” He asks, most of his attention on Will. Yes, he’s aware that Karasi is spinning and Alex is firing a gun at him, but the Adept has his attention for about six seconds.

Will slides his thumb up his touch screen, trying to swiftly increase the strength of the correspondence firewall he’s creating. “It’s a yes or no question. What’s it worth to you?” In spite of the conversation he’s trying to carry on, he doesn’t call off his cabalmate. Shoot him, see if Will cares.

Alex does care, on the other hand. He doesn’t have unlimited ammo, nor does he feel the need to tempt paradox again just yet. He’ll see where Will is going. At the very least it will give Karasi time to prepare herself.

Aaron stares at Will for a moment, eyes narrowed. Then he grasps hold of the moment between them, Will’s temptation, and uses it to wrest the pair of them out of space and resettle them at a location he is choosing—just outside the chantry.

Gabrielle‘s old chantry is insulated enough it’s easy to forget the Earth is in the midst of a nuclear winter Will is not dressed for. The cold is so sharp, without any transition, it’s like been thrown into an icy lake, and on top of that it’s dark—the street must be having another power outage. “I’m tempted, not stupid.” Johann tells Will. “What do you know?”

Karasi abruptly stops whirling. “Where did they go?”

“Johann took Will outside,” Will’s computer answers. Gabe has some autonomy outside of Will.

“Meet you there,” Karasi says to Alex, whirling again.

Will inhales sharply at the burst of cold air, quickly scrambling to his feet to minimize contact with the frozen ground. His head turns, and he only relaxes a little bit when he recognizes the chantry off to one side. They didn’t go far. “Trade you,” he replies, his teeth already beginning to chatter. “Help us, and I’ll make it happen. You got Kal to do you a favour once before.”

“What do you want?” Johann demands. Even dressed as he is, he seems unaffected by the cold. His tone is untrusting, but he’s too interested in what Will has to say to pass it up.

“We might need to see him before he’s ready to see us,” Will says with a shrug. “You don’t have to do anything to him.” He isn’t even sure Johann can. “Just do what you can to get him to go where we want him.” Will doesn’t want to say much about their plans, but it can’t come as a surprise to Kal or Johann that the Avengers don’t plan to lie down and wait for their ends to come.

Johann snorts a little. “Okay.” The suggestion that Kal might not be ‘ready’ to face them might be enough to get him there in of itself. “I can give it a shot. And Aaron?”

“He’s not here yet.” Will can’t help but feel a prickle of mingled worry and annoyance that he hasn’t heard anything from the other half of his cabal. “Is Kal expecting you? You can wait if you want. I’ll tell Alex to stop trying to shoot you. Maybe we can have a more civil conversation than the last time you were here,” he adds mildly. “America and I weren’t very friendly.”

“You’re trying to draw Aaron out of the Passage.” Johann startles as he works it out. “Which means he sent Kate to close it.” He doesn’t wait for Will to say anymore, he vanishes, just as Will receives a message from Daniel, the first since they arrived at Vander Veer Park.



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