Fitz worked fast. By the time I had a couple of bags of frozen veggies thawing in the sink and managed to collect myself enough to log on, he had five audio pickups and two omicron sensors deployed about the Norberg Mansion. Even better, Hamony’s private server – the one hosting her suit’s control software – was cloned on an accessible box for my perusal.
I should have hired a guy years ago.
Analysis of the Norbergs’ files would have to wait, though, because Whisper wanted to speak again, at my earliest convenience. She had adapted quite adroitly to the use of anonymous accounts and layering encryption. According to her message, she’d made significant progress in winning allies to the effort to take down Liberty.
When I entered the video conference number she had sent me, and the code key, it resolved to the same room where I had once watched Refraxx de-stress by levitating a set of steel balls. The balls in question (or ones very much like them) were spread across a large glass coffee table in front of the sleek furniture that framed the space.
The young, uncovered face of Lakki offered me a weak smile from a wing back chair orbiting the larger couch. Two women, one sharply dressed up and the other down, shared the couch. I placed Enki first (‘Bahar,’ from the party.) The smaller, lighter-skinned woman’s identity, I didn’t immediately place; she had a stern bearing that I associated with professionals.
The identity of the man in the other wing back chair was as easy as the first. Flawless Form’s lavender skin was impossible to miss, and he didn’t wear a mask even when in costume. His cream buttoned-down shirt and dark slacks matched the smaller woman on the couch in level of formality, and that’s what allowed me to place the latter.
Whisper, Enki, Flawless Form, and Bronze Scarab, all out of costume. Definitely not whom I had expected.
The moments passed in silence as I identified them. Finally, Bahar, the woman I knew as Enki, spoke. “Is he on? I see his symbol there.” When Lakki nodded, she said. “Delphic?”
“This is Delphic,” I answered. “Lakki, these are the people you wanted me to speak with?”
The young Indian-American woman swallowed, nodding. “I’ve told them. They are willing to help.”
“Good ol’ Harm needs to be taken down a peg,” quipped Bahar. “Happy to oblige.”
Her inclusion was what was surprising me. Along with Orange Nimbus, it was Enki’s power that was applied in Liberty’s ‘enhanced interrogations.’ I had assumed she would be one of the Team leader’s allies.
“Miss Bahar,” I typed and sent in my Delphic voice, “how did you come to hear about our endeavor?”
“You’re asking why I’m on board with this, when I’m mascot for Team Torture?” The woman’s name and features were Persian, but her demeanor and speech patterns were pure New Yorker. “I don’t lose any sleep over what I do to those scumbags, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with getting a hero killed.” She glanced at Lakki. “Zee was a good guy, and loyal. If Harmony set him up… she needs to answer for that.”
“I’m still unclear on how we think that’s going to happen,” Flawless Form added calmly. “If there were… records?… Delphic would have them, right?”
“I have not found any,” I agreed, “but some may exist in places I haven’t been able to look.”
“If we’re thinking she hired the Kowalczyks, she may have done it through Norberg Capital,” Lakki pointed out.
“Could she do that without Kelda knowing?” Bronze Scarab inquired. The younger sister was the one who actually controlled the legitimate business.
“I think so,” Lakki nodded. “Harmony is given a lot of money to invest in speculative research, with very little oversight. She could easily move funds around through the NC accounts without raising suspicion.”
Enki added, “It’s just as likely that Kelda is in on it. She backs up Harmony on anything related to supers.”
“Which leads us to the real question,” Flawless From repeated. “What are we going to do about it?”
The four supers collectively turned to look at my icon on the video conference display, and waited for me to speak. Since I had no better answer than anyone else, the silence stretched out.
Finally, I typed a response. “I will see how secure the Norberg Capital systems are. In the meantime, just keep on the alert for any information that might be of help.”
“And be vigilant,” Flawless Form added, “regarding your mission assignments. I plan to demand backup if any mission looks like it has the potential for us to be ambushed or outnumbered.”
“I’m grounded for the time being,” Lakki agreed, “so keep me in mind if you want unofficial support on anything. Zee’s parents are roping me in to planning the funeral,” an exchange of sympathetic looks around the room, “which is quickly becoming the social event of the season.”
“Delphic,” Bronze Scarab said, “were you invited to the wake tomorrow?”
“I was not. This is for Refraxx?”
She nodded. “Just some beers and a chance for people to speak in-costume. Liberty says the city will have a larger memorial service at some point, but we…” she grimaced “… need something now.”
“I’ll dial in. Thank you for letting me know.”
Flawless Form asked, “Are we speaking with anyone else about this situation?”
“I intend to approach Spinner about it,” I sent.
“Ooh,” Enki shook her head. “I wouldn’t. He’s friendly enough but very by-the-book as far as super stuff goes. And he’s worked with Liberty a lot.”
“I have worked with Spinner a fair amount myself,” I had Delphic respond, “and we have spoken specifically about his disapproval of Lady Liberty’s policies. I don’t agree with your assessment.”
“We certainly have to be cautious,” Whisper acknowledged, and a small buzzing sound started. “If we mistakenly… oh!” She held up her vibrating phone. “It’s Spinner. Or Bernard, rather; it’s on my civilian line.”
“That’s suspicious timing,” Flawless Form said.
Lakki held up her phone as though it might detonate in her hand. “Should I answer it?” There were reluctant nods around the room, and she held a finger to her lips, signalling for silence, before accepting the call.
“Hi Bernard,” Lakki said. “Did you make it back to Boston okay?”
“Hey, ah, yeah. I… um… is, ah, Delphic on the line?” The voice was Spinner’s, but it was transparently perplexed.
Everyone looked at each other in alarm for just a moment, before Lakki’s face broke into a belabored smile. “Tommy had you make the call?”
“Got it in one. So Delphic is on the line?”
Whisper shook her head, something the super on speaker clearly wouldn’t see. “What’s this about, Bernard?”
There was a slight pause before he spoke again. “Tommy said it was best if you explain it, but that you shouldn’t argue about me. I’ll be a hundred percent on… your side? Whatever that means. Him too, apparently.”
“Who’s Tommy?” Flawless Form asked quietly. I was glad he posed the question so I wouldn’t have to.
“4cast,” Enki whispered.
That made sense. The teenager was a powerful precognitive, although the details weren’t well understood. Spinner made it clear he trusted 4cast implicitly, so it fit that he would make the call on the younger super’s say so.
“Does that mean,” Lakki asked, “that Tommy has some help for us? Maybe a lead?”
“Not that he mentioned to me.” Spinner sounded more confident as it became clear that she knew what he was calling about. “So, does that mean you’re going to fill me in, about this thing I apparently agree with?”
Whisper shrugged, and looked at the camera. I wished I could shrug back.
“Hello?” Spinner goaded after several heartbeats of silence.
“Okay,” I finally typed and sent. “Let’s bring him on board.”
After all, if there was some deception going on, it was clear that they knew enough to scuttle our plans either way.
We might as well pretend that we knew what we were doing.