SynopsisWhat if every case of corporate whistle-blowing or domestic terrorism was actually part of an elaborate cover-up – excuses fabricated to obscure the acts of people with incredible powers?
And, what if those people were all around you – your best friend and your co-workers? What if you were one, too?
These are the questions Nathan Padell must consider as he crosses the country with an exhausted carful of fugitives seeking exoneration and answers. What began as a search for his missing adopted sister Ella resulted in his photograph blasted across every news station as a wanted criminal.
Each of Nathan’s companions wields a special ability that defies explanation, but with enemies confronting them at every turn who can he trust? Evan, the best friend who kept this all a secret for years? Blaire, the glib young woman who takes her amazing powers for granted? James, a cocksure leader protecting deadly family secret? Or, the mysterious Cassandra, who seems to know the answers to all of his questions before he asks them?
Nathan might not have the time to decide. Every step of his search leads him further into web of deceit around Ella’s disappearance and the mystery of The Septet – a super-powered team whose followers seem to have only one mission: to recruit Nathan … by force, if necessary!
ExcerptNathan peered in confusion from the unassuming Cassandra, still standing next to the stereo, back to James, who had slung his tanks over one shoulder and fitted his nozzles onto one hand.
“Jo, lay down cover. Evan, follow my solution in. Nathan, just... do something helpful.”
Then, things began happening very quickly.
The curtains suddenly swelled with light as Joanna amplified the rays of sun streaming through. She did not have much to work with – all she was able to do was make the room a bit less dim. Taking note of this, Cassandra pushed a button on her iPod and then ducked behind the sofa.
The room was filled with a huge guitar chord, and then a voice that was instantly familiar to Nathan.
Martina's voice began to sing. It was a cover of “Moonage Daydream” from their Sophomore year of college.
“I'm an alligator!”
Nathan was paralyzed by the unexpected sound of Martina's voice, still standing in James's field of vision. James pushed him aside with his free hand and fired a solution from one of the nozzles in his palm.
A faint scent of ether filled the room as the droplets in the air resolved into a solid stream of liquid that splashed down behind the couch.
Nathan's voice sang, “I'm a momma poppa coming for you!”
Somewhere behind Nathan, Joanna fumbled with a light switch on the wall, though nothing seemed to turn on. He heard her swear beneath her breath.
“James, I've got nothing.”
Cassandra was already out from behind the couch, moving right towards a doorway on the wall, sunglasses over her eyes.
Evan had circled wide right when she ducked behind the couch, and now he faced off against her, standing between her and the door.
“Favoring your ribs?” Cassandra asked, with some concern in her voice.
Evan paused for a second, and in that moment Cassandra ducked into the side he was favoring and tapped him with something she was holding in her previously hidden hand, sending him stumbling backwards.
In the meantime, James had directed his stream of ether up off the floor and aimed it at Cassandra's head like a liquid arrow. It might have connected a moment sooner, but Cassandra had wrapped herself around the floundering Evan as if they were about to tango, and she spun him to absorb the ether with the back of his shirt.
Martina's alto rang out, “I'm a space invader.”
Cassandra continued the twirl, dropping a now sopping Evan through the doorway and pulling the door closed before moving back towards the middle of the room.
“Nathan, anything!” James commanded as he let another stream of liquid loose from his palm.
Nathan had been under the spell of Martina's voice as he dumbly watched the action. Casting about for a projectile that would be familiar enough to take hold of with his mind, he settled for one of the shorter piles of hard drives on the coffee table.
The new volley of liquid landed on the floor with a sizzle as James somehow missed Cassandra, standing there in plain site.
Nathan's voice belted from the speakers, “I'll be a rockin' rollin' bitch for you!”
At the same time, Nathan sent the first of the hard drives winging through the air to connect with Cassandra's temple.
Instead of ducking away from it, Cassandra swiftly closed the distance between them. Wary of whatever she had used to disable Evan, Nathan let the hard drive skitter across the floor and took a step backwards – bumping into Joanna, who lost her footing in the pile of baggage she and Evan had set down next to the door to engage in the fight.
Cassandra continued her advance, until she was practically on top of Nathan, who went down in a tangle of limbs with Joanna.
“Keep your mouth shut,” Martina commanded over the speakers.
Cassandra's back was now to James, and he reached out with both hands to catch her in a headlock. He seemed to have the advantage on her, but at the last possible moment she shifted her weight to the side and somehow tossed James over her shoulder onto the tangle of Nathan and Joanna. The weight of James's muscular frame slammed down on the pair of them, pinning them to the ground.
“You're squawking like a pink monkey bird,” Nathan and Martina sang in harmony, “and I'm busting up my brain for the words.”
Their guitars descended towards the chorus. Twenty three seconds had elapsed since the beginning of the skirmish. Evan emerged cautiously from the adjoining room while James, Nathan, and Joanna disentangled themselves.
Cassandra stood, carefully balanced, on one arm of the couch. She was screwing a lightbulb into a fixture on the ceiling.
“If the four of you couldn't lay a hand on a single unarmed woman in her own apartment before this classic Bowie chorus got underway,” she said, arms outstretched above her head to give the bulb another twist, “then you're no match for the Strategy wonks they're going to be sending after you.”
The lightbulb lit and Cassandra nimbly slipped down to take a seat on the couch, legs casually crossed, with one foot tapping along to the music.