Chapter 16

Chapter 16:

Campus Events


The world slowly blurred its way into focus in front of the young man's eyes, taking on a recognized configuration; the ceiling of the infirmary. Moving his eyes to try and look around brought another stab of pain. Blinking brought pain. God damn, I think even my hair is hurting right now.

"You going to keep laying there and feeling sorry for yourself or are you going to pick your ass up?" The harsh voice asking the question was far more familiar to the young man than the layout of the infirmary's ceiling, and pain was pushed aside long enough for seeking eyes to make out the shape of a large bald man standing a bit past the foot of the bed.

"Wor.. king... on... it..." The words felt funny as they made their way around the injured man's tongue, and he closed his eyes. Head injury, fix that first. This is first year crap, start at the top and work your way down. FOCUS. Why the hell did I tell the healers that I wanted the extra practice at fixing myself up again?

About ten seconds later, Max Thompson opened his eyes again and sat up in the infirmary bed. All traces of his injuries, save a few patches of drying blood on his skin, had vanished. "So, I guess this means I lost. Fuck."

"Yep." The Combat Instructor's tone was even harsher than usual. "You managed to do a fan-fucking-tastic job of seizing the win and then pissing it away. What the hell were you thinking with that damned 'victory stroll' at the end?"

"I was thinking there was no possible way a second year could beat me, especially as broken as she was at that point." The brown haired youth's tone was much calmer than the muscular Instructor had been expecting, drawing a questioning look in response. "I learned something, that's what the HCP is for, right?" A brief smirk appeared on the younger man's face. "Did you really think they were going to let me back in after kicking me out once if I couldn't handle getting beaten? I did something stupid, I've learned something from it, time to apologize to Vicki and move on with my final year in the program."

"Just like that?" The gravelly voice was heavily laden with disbelief. "And what the hell does McCormick have to do with this fight?"

"Not 'just like that' I guess. I'm probably going to drown my sorrows and beat my head against a wall for awhile first. And Vicki has been giving me grief for underestimating the sophomores, since I tried to prove her wrong and didn't I owe her an apology and probably two or three steak dinners if I want her to ever leave me in peace." Max shrugged with a glimmer of a smile again visible as the idea of taking the second ranked senior out for several expensive dinners was not exactly an unappealing prospect. “But in the end she won, I lost. I'd ask for a rematch bu-...”

Wrong.” The single syllable interrupting the third ranked senior drew a blank look from the young man. “You lost. She ALSO lost. Nobody won that match.”

That is BULLSHIT, Rachd. I was unconscious til about a minute ago. I don't care how far out of it she was when she took me out, she EARNED that win.”

She was unconscious too.”

Then she went out after I did and she still wins the fight.” James Rachd actually chuckled softly at the earnestness with which Max defended an opponent's victory. Particularly as he had spent a goodly amount of time over the past few weeks denigrating that same person to anyone who would listen.

One, that's not how things work here. Official or unofficial match, if you can't stand up and declare you won at the end then it's a draw at best.” The Close Combat Professor held up a forestalling hand before his student could object, and continued. “Two, by your standard YOU won the match. Technically Jacobson was unconscious first. Want to contest your loss now?”

Max sat very still for several minutes as he processed the information his Instructor had just given him. Something seemed to click into place in the young man's head, and he stood and strode quickly through the infirmary; a somewhat curious looking James Rachd trailing behind him. It wasn't difficult to figure out where his opponent was being treated, seeing as there was only one other room with the occupied light illuminated. Max noted the presence of what had to be all, or nearly all, of both Overton's sophomore AND senior HCP classes sitting in the waiting area, but he didn't approach them yet. Instead Max walked directly to the other treatment room door and entered without bothering to knock, eliciting several gasps from the crowd and spurring a few of the healer students on duty to chase him into the room.

Once across the threshold the senior was greeted by the alert gaze of his opponent, the sophomore was already sitting upright on the bed while Dr Saxena and a VERY tall black female worked on her injuries. Max ignored the protests from both the doctor and the healers following him as he walked over to stand directly in front of the injured blonde. Amelia Jacobson simply smiled confidently at him and waited to see what he would do next. Max returned the smile and extended his right hand slowly.

Good fight.”



Dean Jilles suppressed a sigh at the smell that wafted out of the conference room as she made her entrance. It would be nice to have one staff meeting involving a match review where Dani didn't bring popcorn. She didn't bother suppressing the second sigh as she noted the in-progress review was currently a looped slow-motion replay of Amelia Jacobson breaking Max Thompson's hand with her face. After seeing the complete sequence play through at the slower speed the Dean realized why this particular moment in the fight was being examined; the briefly unnatural angles of the senior's arm indicated that more than his hand had been damaged in that exchange. Christ, it looks like she broke every bone in his arm. Shoulder is at least dislocated. “As much as some of us enjoy watching extremely powerful Supers beating each other up, I believe there was a specific reason this meeting was called for?”

The HCP staff quickly turned their attention towards the Dean as she spoke, the air in the room changing from recreational to professional in a second. “Dr Bertram, I believe this was your meeting call? Please enlighten the rest of us as to what it is about this match that requires the attention of ALL the senior HCP staff.”

The HCP psychologist stood as the Dean spoke, glancing once around the room to make certain he had everyone's attention before he began. A somewhat wasted gesture as the Instructors were already fully intrigued, it was rare for the chief HCP counselor to call for a full staff conference after all. “I'll get directly to the point then. It's my recommendation at this time to temporarily pull Ms Jacobson from all combat related drills and exercises.”

Still no.” The immediate response from the Combat Instructor indicated to the room that this was a conversation the two men had had in private prior to the meeting being called. “I have no issue with extra monitoring, but I am not pulling Jacobson without a hell of a lot better reason than what you've got, Lane.”

And what do you have, Dr Bertram?” The quick interjection from the Subtlety Instructor managed to interrupt the counselor before Rachd's dismissal could start an argument.

Ms Jacobson lost consciousness during her fight with Mr Thompson, prior to rendering Mr Thompson unconscious herself.” There were a few surprised expressions around the table as obviously not all the Instructors had heard this information yet.

You're sure she just didn't hit a deeper level of her resistance ability and finally start blocking you out as well?” The question from the aged Focus Instructor had a trace of smugness in it. Laurence Vree hadn't been pleased when the top ranked sophomore's power negating ability had advanced to the point where telepaths could no longer pick up anything, but the more empathic Lane still had little difficulty getting a read from the girl.

It's faintly possible, but seeing as how I was still reading the girl I seriously doubt it. The odds that her power would advance in exactly the right way to make my ability pick her up as unconscious and not just a blank spot like the telepaths have been getting?” From the grin on the psychologist's face, it seemed this was ANOTHER old conversation he'd had before with an Instructor. The Dean found herself sighing again.

Not to disregard your advice out of hand, Dr Bertram, but this would hardly be the first time we've had a student manage one final burst of activity as they went under.” The Dean felt there was something she was missing here, but also knew that if she didn't attempt to keep the discussion steered on track the meeting could last for hours. Who'd ever have thought an empath would enjoy arguing so much?

The problem, Dean Jilles, is that Ms Jacobson didn't lose consciousness while she was throwing the fight ending barrage of strikes. The young woman lost consciousness roughly FIVE MINUTES before the fight ended.”

Most of the gathered staff stared blankly at the standing counselor for several seconds as if waiting for a punchline. The notable exception, one James Rachd, simply leaned back in his chair and looked unimpressed.

You already knew this, Jim?” Anthony Banning was the first of the previously uninformed faculty to find words again. “And you don't think it merits anything more than extra monitoring?”

Not like it hasn't happened before.” The casual dismissal from the muscular Instructor drew the incredulous looks his way instead, save for the Dean who felt the puzzle click together in her head with an almost audible snap.

You're talking about the finals last year, when Ms Jacobson attempted to leave the infirmary to take the traditional final, with the rest of the class, while injured?”

You said it yourself, right? She was basically out cold on her feet and still off trying to take the test. It didn't warrant pulling her out of training then, it shouldn't now.”

We need to know if this is some trauma induced form of somnambulism or another facet of her ability!” The balding psychologist was practically shouting at the room now. “Until we know exactly what's going on we have no way of being sure that Ms Jacobson won't kill herself OR one of the other students while in such a state!”

She stopped as soon as Thompson was out.” The Combat Instructor was obviously unmoved by Lane's outburst. “And we know she's doing it now, we can monitor and work around it.” Rachd wore a grim smile as he delivered his final line. “And I'm not particularly worried about her getting killed by accident at this point. List of things that can do that on PURPOSE is getting shorter every day.”

Several discussions started around the room; Dr Saxena, Hai, Elena, and Anthony seemed unified in wanting more details while Laurence and Dani seemed far more fascinated by the idea of the top ranked sophomore as a truly unstoppable Super. James chose not to contribute any more to the discussion, and Lane simply glared at the Combat Instructor while occasionally answering direct questions from one of the others. After several minutes the Dean slammed a hand, accompanied with enough telekinetic force to make for an impressive *BANG*, into the table to get a moment of silence.

As startling and troubling as this news is Lane, I'm afraid I have to agree with James for two reasons.” The counselor opened his mouth to object, or would have if it were not held shut by some invisible force as Kathryn prevented the man from interrupting. “Firstly, even as strange as this situation is, we don't have any proof that a genuine danger DOES exist. Any more than it does for the norms of HCP training. It would be incredibly unfair to pull Ms Jacobson from the majority of her training for this, as it would make her advancement through the program infinitely more difficult. I think this young woman has had enough ordeals in her lifetime without us manufacturing more.

Secondly, politics. And I cannot stress how much I HATE that politics has to play a role in how we handle our students, but ignoring it won't fix anything. Even if we all assume that Mr Weaver is wholly on the level with his newly expressed desire to support the HCP as a retaliation for political manipulations directed against him, there's no way we could spin pulling the top ranked student of the Oversight class out of the majority of her training and not having it come back to bite us a thousand times. The issues will be fully documented and Ms Jacobson's future trainings and matches will be more closely monitored, but we are not going to look like we're afraid of the challenge a student's unique issues present to our program. Questions?”

There was a weight in the petite woman's tone that told the room the final word had been added for politeness more than any desire to entertain actual questions at this point. The room was quiet for a moment longer when the Weapons Instructor broke the silence.

Do we tell Amelia about it?”



The slightly overweight girl sighed as she and her small group of volunteers came upon yet another profanity filled piece of graffiti marring a University building. The non-dangerous Supers and Powereds attending the college had quickly learned to stay in groups with the RoH thugs wandering the town and looking for easy targets. As a result, the hate group had switched mostly to defacing anything they could get near without getting caught. Particularly around areas of the campus rumored to hold the fabled entrances to the Overton Hero Certification Program.

All right guys, we got two days to get all the haunted house stuff set up for the local kids that come here for Halloween. And we are NOT going to be explaining what ANY of those words mean to an eight year old. Let's get to work!” Andrea Chandler was already moving forward as she spoke the words, a spray bottle full of graffiti remover in one gloved hand and a scouring pad in the other. The heavily built young woman had almost reached the wall when a rock whipped past her head to bounce off the bricks in front of her, drawing a shriek from the startled girl and profanity from several of the volunteers.

The group of four students turned to see six athletically built young men, all wearing matching white shirts with a bold, black 'RoH' stenciled across the front. “Hey freak bitch! Who told you that you could mess with our art?” The speaker was by far the tallest of the group, a hispanic man wearing a vicious smile as he looked around at the suddenly frightened cleaning crew.

Andrea Chandler felt something inside herself snap. The assault in town earlier in the year, the constant stream of insults and threats from thugs like this one, it was too much for the young woman. With a growling sound like something one would expect from a feral animal, the overweight brown haired girl charged at the group's ring leader, shedding her gloves as she ran.

The muscular youth's smile widened as the much smaller girl charged towards him, and he stepped forward to meet her with a hard punch to her midsection. The force of the blow rendered Andrea breathless and gasping, but it also brought her tormenter's face low enough for her to easily reach. Without hesitation or waiting to recover her breath, the young brunette jabbed at the man's eyes with both hands.

The RoH leader fell back screaming in terror a moment later, his vision lost in a cloud of opaque colors that quickly faded to a uniform black. “What the fuck did you do to me, freak?”

Blind... eyes don't... work when... full of ink.” Andrea was still gasping to get her breath back from the punch, but she dragged a finger along the edge of her jacket as she spoke. Her uncontrollable ability dyed the lapel a variety of bright colors as she did so, and she offered her own predatory smile, a look that was almost manic, at the fear she now saw in the other five men. “Who else wants me to be the last thing they ever see?”

The continued hesitation from the supremacist thugs was all the motivation the other three members of the volunteer cleaning crew needed. Five athletic young men, all trained in basic hand to hand combat, were mobbed by the enraged students. The campus volunteer groups knew all the horror stories that had been happening around the University since Rights of Humanity had decided to come to Overton. Everyone had been pushed right up to their breaking points, and seeing the physically unassuming POWERED girl take down the group's leader and intimidate the others was the tipping point. Cleaning chemicals were employed as makeshift pepper spray, buckets were used as bludgeons, and a girl who'd been pitied for something she'd been born with all her life turned her curse into the most powerful weapon in the fight.

By the time Campus Security arrived on the scene, one of the RoH thugs had fled, three were on the ground crying and blind, and the other two were in various states of semi-consciousness; the five detained members all guarded closely by the somewhat crazed looking volunteer crew. The oldest of the three arriving security officers began laughing as he took in the scene.

I think this will be the first time I've ever been looking forward to hearing the students' answers to: 'What happened here?'”



Scott Jameson kept stealing brief glances at his girlfriend and trying very hard not to laugh. A wasted gesture when one is dating a telepath, but some social interactions had become too ingrained to break easily. The auburn haired girl finally slapped him in the back of the head after his fifth or sixth rapid glance which seemed to break down the dam and Scott began to laugh hysterically.

It's not THAT funny.” Catalina Blake mock-glared at the short, sandy haired boy in his 'mad scientist's assistant' costume. Catalina's own 'sexy mad scientist' costume had its effect slightly ruined by the cone shaped hat that had been deposited on her head by an irately cheerful HCP Counselor earlier.

The hat simply bore the words, 'Time Out.' Along with the hat had been delivered a lecture on the psychological damage the young telepath was inflicting on the freshman HCP students who were daring the already terrifying illusory maze being kept up alternatingly by the abilities of Kyle Sawara from the sophomore class and Jessica Lienne from the junior class. And considering that every student wanting to gain entrance to the semi-famed HCP Halloween party in the first place had to brave the maze, seeing as how the sophomore class had decided to set it up at the entrance, the counselor had forbidden Catalina from any projective telepathy outside of her normal 'speech.' On unspecified punishment to be enforced by Professor Reyes. The auburn haired girl had immediately agreed to 'be good.'

It really kinda IS that funny, Cat. I mean, you got to laugh at me for getting taken out in less than 30 seconds in my first team match with the seniors, I think this is just the good Lord's way of providing me with some recompense.”

I wasn't aware that you believed the Lord ever did anything to you EXCEPT mess with you?” The taller girl's mental tone was playful as she took a sip from her punch glass. “And I wasn't laughing at you getting taken out, I was laughing at the way you were bemoaning it for over an hour straight.”

And why shouldn't I complain? Everything I worked for, the gift you gave me when you went digging through Ty's crazy brain so that I could figure out how to get my power to do what I should have been able to do with it all along, and my first real chance to prove myself and I get dropped in the opening seconds. Hell, I've been taken out in practically ALL of our team exercises so far.”

There's a reason for that, and you'd see it if you'd ever turn that tactical side you've got towards yourself instead of always thinking for your teammates.”


Scott, you're probably the hardest hitter in the class. Hell, you might be the hardest hitter at Overton, Instructors included. And because you wanted to show off, EVERYONE knows it. You aren't a tank, Scott. You're the glass cannon, but most of the class is sure that you could take out Ames. AMES, Scott. But instead of setting up and taking shots, you have this problem where you try to be the hero all the time.”

“That is kind of what they're training us for here, no?” The sandy haired boy didn't seem to follow where his girlfriend was leading the conversation, and the telepath looked trapped somewhere between exasperation and a fit of giggling as a result.

Yes, but you have to be the kind of hero that YOU are. When you got taken out in the senior match, what were you doing?”

I was moving to intercept Vicki when she rushed us before we were ready.”

And why did you do that? Erin and Eloise are incredibly hard to pin down, and Zach's at least as good as you are at close engagement. Why didn't you fly out away from the assault and counterattack?”

“Well, I...”

I love that you always want to be the one in the front, protecting people. It's a great thing about you, Scott. But for God's sake, start fighting as smart as we all KNOW you're capable of. Take your own strategic advice instead of just giving it to your team. And your competition.” The last words came with a knowing smile and a soft kiss.

So you're saying you don't want any more tactical advice?” Scott managed such a perfectly sincere, confused tone that the telepath actually did a double take before she caught on.

You're getting better at this, Mr Jameson. I'll have to come up with something special to reward your progress with. And something even MORE special to punish your insolence!” Catalina's voice was still playful as she spoke, but there was a very serious promise in her expression as she headed away from her boyfriend towards the refreshment table. The auburn haired girl's soft brown eyes never once broke contact with Scott's own gaze as she threaded her way effortlessly through the growing crowd of partying Supers.

Lord, if you tell me that ALL the times you've been fucking with me is just payback for setting me up with her, I'm calling it the best deal ever.”



Have to admit, you guys did good work.” Collin didn't even flinch at the whispered words suddenly coming from right next to his ear, and simply turned to scan the area around himself for the source.

He didn't jump Sam, you owe me twenty bucks!” The exclamation from a purple haired girl in a Japanese schoolgirl sailor-uniform allowed the second ranked sophomore to zero in on the three approaching third year students.

He jumped a little bit.” The protest from the tall brown haired junior who seemed to have foregone a costume seemed a bit less than wholehearted.

No, he really didn't.” The almost sinister female voice coming from directly behind the junior trio caused Sam to start in shock as he found himself in the unfamiliar position of spinning to search for the source of a disembodied voice.

Erin Casse faded into opaqueness directly in front of the rapidly scanning junior, a wide grin on her face. “Boo.”

Alright, I probably deserved that.”

Definitely.” The other two juniors were almost perfectly synchronized with their response.

So what can we do for 'ourselves from the future?'” Collin managed to keep a mostly straight face as he used the purple haired junior's description. “Everything's pretty well wound down, only a few of the freshmen are scarred for life, and Antoin is making the rounds to insure that no one suffers any alcohol poisoning, or even any particularly notable hangovers.”

Val came to complain that you guys upstaged us.” The completely deadpan remark from the black haired junior wearing, of all the bizarre sights seen on a Halloween, a fairy princess costume drew smiles from the sophomores and a glare from the short purple haired girl.

I did NOT come to complain about them upstaging us. I came to complain that they stole our class illusionist for their entry maze and tell them that it is ENTIRELY unfair. We were going to use Jess!”

We just did what you recommended; we delegated. You can't really blame us that you guys never thought to delegate up as well as down.” Erin's tone was conciliatory, but her expression was far from it.

We also had another concern, not really related to the party.” Sam's re-entrance to the conversation bore a much more serious demeanor than the previous banter, and the mood between the five HCP students quickly adjusted in that direction.

Problems?” The question from Collin indicated that this idea did not at all surprise the muscular sophomore.

More like potential for problems. Why is half the sophomore class going to the Wildcards games?” Sam's tone remained serious, but the expressions on the other two juniors changed to show more exasperation.

Christ Sam, this is about your conspiracy theory? Give it a rest.” The conviction with which Val spoke seemed to imply a long running argument between the two involving the aforementioned 'conspiracy theory.'

My girlfriend likes non-Super athletics, she invited me, her teammates, and her teammates' boyfriends where applicable to go out and catch the Saturday game a few weeks ago. We had fun playing at being normal college students for a few hours, and decided to go again. A few more people got invited every time I guess.” Collin shrugged as he answered the question, actually relieved that the older boy's concern was over something so minor and, judging from the reactions of his friends, pretty safe to dismiss.

It's just a little... look, these two clowns are probably right,” a pair of irritated elbows were drawn by the word 'clowns' coming from the boy who constantly used his sound manipulating abilities to prank the unsuspecting, “but you've got to at least agree that it looks weird to have that large a chunk of students who are all THAT athletic, but not in any college sports, to be sitting together at the game. Somebody might figure something out, right?” The unspoken portion of the speech was almost clearly audible to both the sophomores; someone out there was supposed to have a complete, or nearly so, HCP roster at this point after all.

Collin glanced at Erin as if seeking advice, but the tall girl simply shrugged in response. “I'm not part of the new HCP football fanclub, so I don't really have any input here. I'd assume as long as you guys aren't having Ames benchpress the bleachers during halftime that you won't stand out THAT much. There's a couple thousand people to blend in with after all.”

That's not much of a problem. Ames and Ramòn have generally snuck off somewhere by halftime.”

Look, my position as the class conspiracy nut aside,” Sam inserted himself back into the conversation with a bit of force as he saw it spiraling away from his point, “it's still a lot of HCP students from the Oversight class in one public place at the same time. Just be careful, right?” Both sophomores nodded an affirmative, and the brown haired youth seemed to accept that.

Again, great job with the party. Maybe too good considering next year it's going to be YOU pushing the freshmen into your position.” Kevin turned to head away with a wave as he spoke. “You might have given the poor kids an act that's too tough to follow.”

Remember, be care-...” Sam's reminder was abruptly cut off as he was dragged away by his two friends to an insistent demand.

And where's my twenty, Sam?” Valerie simply waved at the two sophomores as she assisted Kevin in dragging the taller brown haired boy off.

We'll, that was interesting. Not as interesting as the last meeting though.” Collin spoke quietly to the tall girl next to him as they waved at the departing juniors. “Although that brings us to the final stage of the party...”

Yeah, good luck with the clean up Collin.” Erin smirked at the surprised look the muscular redhead threw her way. “I spent half the night playing phantom coat check, so rope someone else into helping get things put back together.” The girl's smile took on a slightly wicked caste. “And don't forget, Dani put up those notes that everything needs to be back in order by the end of the weekend. Enjoy!”

Collin groaned at the abandonment, and shivered slightly at the reminder of the overly cheerful Weapons Instructor's involvement in cleanup motivation. Then the young man pulled out his cell to send a text to his girlfriend, and went in search of stragglers to 'volunteer.'



Sir, you need to hear this.” FBI Special Agent Marcus Hughes held an emotionless expression through sheer force of will as one of his analysts approached urgently uttering five words that ALWAYS spelled trouble in his experience.

Marcus reached to take the proffered headset without a word and nodded to the nervous looking analyst as he held it up to his ear. The familiar voice of one Clarence Dane, president of Rights of Humanity, began playing. “All of our arrangements are finalized then? We've made sure that there will be sufficient media coverage without sending anyone directly to the area?” The brown haired Special Agent's eyes narrowed. This definitely sounded like something his team should have picked up on before now.

Several different voices answered affirmatively to the questions asked by Clarence, and Marcus made a cut off motion to get the analyst to pause the playback. “We have names and files on everyone else on this recording?”

Yes sir, I believe so.” Marcus made a conscious effort to relax and try to convey some measure of comforting emotion, as the rookie analyst's voice was heavily laden with anxiety, and the younger man's hands were actually shaking slightly.

Get everyone up and on those voices then, and double up on Clarence.” The veteran counter-terrorism specialist tried to offer a reassuring smile to the younger man as he spoke. “Start the playback again.”

The analyst complied, then began sending a series of text messages from the oversized smartphone he carried at a speed that drew a very brief look of startlement from Marcus. That look was completely subsumed by a different kind of surprise at the next words from the RoH president from the recording. “Very well then, our asset has received the full million dollar payment and his references are outstanding. We may consider ourselves one major step closer to opening this country's eyes to the horrors they unleash upon themselves by bending knee to the freaks of nature they call 'Super.'”

Marcus barely kept himself from destroying the headset as the recording continued, only cheers and other sounds of celebration audible as the segment the analyst had prepped for him ran to its end. “You've heard this?”

The younger agent looked nervous again, but seemed to be handling it better now that he'd been given instructions. He responded with a simple nod.

Start making phone calls. I need you to get a hold of all the local law enforcement offices and probably the mayor. I'll handle getting backup and going up the ladder to figure out how the fuck someone missed a high-priority surveillance target coming up with a million dollar payout without the people in the field getting a single heads up.”

What about the University, sir?” The simple question caught Marcus almost completely off guard, forcing the Special Agent to adopt a serious contemplative expression.

No,” the decision seemed not to sit well at all with the counter-terrorism specialist. “We got too many specific briefings reminding us that the HCP on campus puts Overton University STRICTLY under DVA jurisdiction. We don't go in there unless invited.” Marcus checked his watch and noted that it was nearly 11:00pm already. Almost midnight over in DC. “Make sure to call ALL our liaison personnel on this one though, need to make sure the DVA is taking this as seriously as we are if they're going to insist on us staying hands off the campus.”

Marcus turned to head into the small closet that his team had converted into a Records Room for the current case as his analyst began making the requested phone calls immediately, ignoring the late hour. What the hell did we miss? Why is RoH taking the lead on something that absolutely SCREAMS 'attack' when they have two HLM cells transplanted to the city? And since when does Clarence Dane hire from outside his own organization? The questions were all troubling Marcus deeply as he clicked on the light and woke up the computer attached to the neatly organized drives that catalogued each day of surveillance and analysis his team had conducted since arriving in Texas several weeks prior. Too many missing pieces, and too many actions out of character. There has got to be SOMETHING in here that makes some sense of it.

The Special Agent found himself repeating the last two sentences in his head, over and over, as he began working through the mountain of data. He didn't look up as his team's senior analyst, Tristan Mores, entered and plugged in a laptop to begin his own search. Nor when his lead field agent, Kathy Lane, entered bearing a large thermos of coffee and her own laptop to commence a search as well.  The arrival of his two senior-most team members simply reminded Marcus to pause his search long enough to send off a half dozen 'URGENT' marked emails to his immediate superiors and the nearest FBI Crisis Response Team leads.  With that chore done all three of the veteran agents worked wordlessly and tirelessly as they had reached the same conclusion; they needed to find what they had missed before something VERY bad happened.