Lina wasn’t sure she recognized herself anymore. She sounded like some rich woman, telling people they had to do what she wanted. Looking at this exec – she was pretty sure that was a very expensive suit – as if she’d personally disappointed Lina.
Either the force shield or the tone of voice, maybe both, made the woman falter. “You can’t be here. The plant is undergoing routine maintenance-”
“It’s a little late for that lie, don’t you think?” Ethan sounded surprisingly smooth. And sharp. “After what happened to the West Side. We came from there, by the way.”
Dylan picked up from him. “What did your extrapolations say should have happened? Because we can tell you exactly where the surge stopped. And why.” He tilted his head at Lina.
The woman went ashen. “Listen, kids,” she managed. Lina was impressed. “For safety and legal reasons, we’re going to have to ask you and your, ah, field trip – Senator?”
“I believe the woman has told you that she needs to be here.” Senator Whistler was amazing. Lina suddenly wanted to be her when she grew up. “And I believe we all know the time frame we’re working under. So either tell us which way we’re blocking so we can be most effective, or get out of our way so we can circle the plant. Now.”
“Blocking?” The woman raised her eyebrows. “You-” She looked down at the force shield. “You think you can hold off a power plant explosion with a little magic trick?”
“No.” Lina snapped it out. She was going to get panicked or angry, so damnit, it was going to have to be anger. “No, I already did hold off one power plant explosion. So tell me which way I’m blocking right now.”
She considered a threat, decided it made her think less of herself to even think it, and instead waited.
The woman huffed. “If you are harmed in any way, our corporation nor none of our daughter corporations are in any way liable…”
“Except the part where you let your plant blow in the first place, yadda, yadda, yes, I understand. Now. We’re running out of time.”
“Yes, we are, and you really ought to clear out right now… but you’re not going to, are you?” The woman shook her head, pulled out her phone, and tabbed through – three thumb-print authorizations, Lina noted – until she was showing them a simulation.
“Jackson,” Lina snapped out.
Who was she? What was she becoming? Did she even know anymore?
Jackson looked at the simulation, nodded, then hissed softly. “Show me again,” he demanded.
The woman did so.
“I’m going to say one more time, this is crazy. You need to leave.”
“Got it.” Jackson nodded crisply. “Ma’am, if you can stick around – safely – and show us the rest of that simulation, it will save time later. For now -” He looked at Lina, bowed slightly, and gestured. “I’m ready to get us set up for you.”
“Then let’s do it.”
They hadn’t needed The Fathers. She found herself in more than a little shock over that. They hadn’t needed The Fathers, they hadn’t needed – anything but themselves.