Chapter 228

               Globe stood as Clarissa entered the room; he’d been waiting to hear what the result would be. No sooner had she caught sight of him than she shook her head, causing an unexpected swell of relief to bloom in Globe’s chest. “He didn’t do it?”

               “That, or he found another way to dump the body. Given what we’d offered though, it seems like a good bet that Crispin is still alive and kicking. Probably under a battalion of DVA custody.”

               Despite all the ways he knew it could go wrong, all the potential pitfalls someone like Crispin staying alive left open, Globe smiled. It was comforting to know that the Blaine he’d spent so many years training with, the Blaine he’d trusted to educate his son, was still in there. Sparing Crispin couldn’t have been easy, the temptation had been hard enough for Globe, and he didn’t bear the weight of loss or responsibility that Blaine surely did. Yet he’d done it all the same, and it wasn’t hard to find joy in knowing that his old friend hadn’t been taken over by his darker urges.

               “We left it in his hands and he made his choice. All we can do now is respect that and hope the DVA proves me wrong,” Globe said. “If nothing else, I’m hoping Captain Starlight has seen enough to know the danger of working with someone so toxic and he’ll keep Crispin locked away in the darkest, deepest cell they have.”

               “Maybe. But even he isn’t going to be able to uncover every snake in his midst. Not without help, anyway.” Clarissa pulled out her phone and swiped over to a calendar app. Every entry on it was blank, but it still displayed a timeline of the upcoming weeks, and that was all she really needed to see. “George has been saying he’s close for a while now. If there’s any way you can push him along, this is a good opportunity. We’ve got someone at the top willing to listen to us. If we can find the proof and start things rolling soon, before anyone with split loyalty can cozy up to Graham, we might actually have a shot at getting the truth out there.”

               “The most we can do for George is support him,” Globe replied. “He’s been working tirelessly, but the task is supposed to be impossible. Getting it done, even in a matter of years, is an astounding feat. Hopefully this present, and all the work that comes with it, will at least buy us some breathing room. If we can stop worrying about being found for a few weeks, George can focus on cracking the encryption. Maybe that will lead to the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.”

               Clarissa looked dubious at his optimism; an expression Globe was well-accustomed to seeing. For most of their time together, she’d been the realistic counter-weight to his idealist nature. Working together, the two of them had always been a little faster, a little smarter, and a lot better than they were alone.

               “You think it will go that well? My money says once Crispin tells the DVA he was captured by Globe it’s going to set off all kinds of alarm bells across the department. They’re going to want to know why you captured a fellow fugitive, and they’re definitely going to be hassling Blaine about why we dropped Crispin off at his door.”

               “It occurred to me that might be an issue.” Globe thought back to when he’d had his hands on the monster who’d attacked Lander. There was a technique he took little joy in knowing, and less in using, but this had been one of the few occasions where he deemed it necessary. Besides, not killing Crispin outright had taken a lot of self-control, there was only so much left to stay his hand on other methods. “I made sure our involvement won’t come up, at least not to anyone other than Blaine and Graham.”

               “Oh? And what did you do to ensure that?” Clarissa asked.

               “Let’s just say that Crispin can’t tell something he doesn’t know in the first place.”

*             *             *

               Graham read the report once more, noting every detail and filing them away for further consideration when he had some free time. There wasn’t a lot there, not aside from the main thrust of the report. It didn’t surprise him, not really. No one stayed on the run as long as Globe had without learning to cover his tracks. More than anything, it filled Graham with a sense of loss. If everything Blaine said was true and Globe was innocent, then they’d been robbed of one hell of an asset. The fact that this little stunt probably didn’t even scratch the surface of what he could do made it all the more galling that he was stuck in the role of an enemy, rather than the ally he wanted to be.

               “So he got wiped, huh?”

               “Sort of.” The agent sitting in Graham’s office, the man who’d delivered the report, squirmed in his chair. “It’s not like what we see when Emerald Hydra handles an HCP failure or anything like that. It’s more like, and I’m quoting our medical team so forgive the speculation, but it’s as though someone destroyed the neural pathways in his brain where the last few weeks of memories were stored, then immediately healed them to prevent lasting brain damage.”

               “Wouldn’t that bring back the memories?” Graham asked. Things had gotten so complicated as more and more powers came along. He missed the old days, when strong punches and big blasts were the chief threats to worry about.

               “No, sir. The tissue is fixed, but the arrangement of electrical impulses we think of as memory was lost. It’s a hard wipe, not even someone like Hallow could repair it since all of the actual damage has already been healed. There’s nothing physical to fix. He’s got no idea how he wound up in Dean Blaine’s home, every telepath on staff is confirming that.” More squirming. This guy was going to have to learn to spit things out or end up reassigned. Graham didn’t have time for dawdlers. “On the note of Dean Blaine, sir, Crispin’s account of how he was treated upon discovery is a little worrying. Perhaps we should order a psych evaluation for Blaine.”

               “Dean Blaine has one of the most educated, experienced psychiatrists in the world at his school, one who specializes in Heroes and the burdens they face. I assure you, he’s in good hands. As for the rough treatment, he didn’t do anything that can’t be healed. Given what Crispin did to Blaine’s campus, and the body count his attack left behind, I’d say Blaine was a picture of control. Most men I know would have done far worse. And I should add that Crispin’s capture, every detail including who found him and the condition he was in, has been deemed extremely classified until we learn more. So I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about Blaine, and I certainly wouldn’t turn those concerns into gossip if I were you. Clear?”

               The agent was settling down a little, despite Graham’s firm tone. “Perfectly so, sir. If I may be so bold as to ask, do you have any theories about what happened?”

               “Plenty.” Graham didn’t consider this a lie, because while he might know who delivered Crispin to them he still had no idea how Globe had pulled it off. The man was wily, powerful, and dangerous. And hopefully, on their side. “But for now all I care about is putting the capture to good use. Are we ready to move on the remaining Sons of Progress?”

               “A task force is assembled and will deploy within the hour. If we hit the chief targets at once, we can get them all before they know we’re coming.”

               Graham set the report down and rose from his desk. As the head of the DVA, this wasn’t the sort of thing he planned to sit in his office and wait to hear results on. He was too old to be in the field, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t still be in on the action. “Take me to the room where they’re coordinating everything. I want to watch this go down with my own eyes. It’s about time these bastards paid the bill for what they’ve done.”