"Did you know that there are more like four billion people on the planet, not two?" Luna asked, the moment Taylor walked into her hospital lair. Taylor didn't miss a beat.

"Yep," she said, faking nonchalance, "I just thought I'd humour you since you're the unstable clone."

Luna stared at her for a few seconds.

"No you didn't you fucking liar."

Taylor muffled a laugh, albeit poorly, and Luna shook her head.

"Unbelievable. My own predecessor."

"Look at it this way," Taylor said consolingly, "Even if we can't count, at least you aren't too gullible."

"Any port in a storm. What brings you here, Taylor?"

Taylor walked past Luna, nodding to Alastor as she went and getting a wave in return.

"Tattletale's agreed to look for Heartbreaker for us, and I did a favour for Miss Militia in exchange for access to the PRT's Nilbog files, so that's two of our targets in progress. Came to see how things are going for you."

"Ah," Luna said, "Well, I've got a couple of ideas for eliminating Mama Mathers, but I wanted you to take a look at them. So-"

Taylor stopped dead as she walked into Luna's workshop and-slash-or surgery and saw the man on the surgical bed in the centre.

"Luna," she said, finding her voice commendably level, "Why is there a comatose man in your workshop?"


Taylor didn't put her head in her hands, but it was a close-run thing.

"Alright, don't get crazy on me," Luna said, fairly hypocritically in Taylor's opinion, "But that, over there, is the key to my anti-Mathers plan. This is Test Subject Number Two, who obligingly provided the test bed for awakening the latent Psyker potential in human subjects! And he was my first success, even!"

As she spoke Luna walked over to the man and slapped him on the chest, beaming. Taylor stared at her.

"Luna. Luna. That isn't a success. That man's mind is like a cored apple. Which was then stomped on. I cannot even begin to explain how much of a not-success it is."

Luna waved a hand.


Test Subject Number Two drooled on himself a bit.

"Semantics? Luna, semantics would be if he'd developed a speech impediment. Look at him."

"I mean, technically he's developed a speech impediment. It's just overwritten by all the other impediments."

Taylor shouldn't have laughed, but she did. Luna grinned victoriously.

"Knew it. You don't really care about him, do you?"

"No, obviously, but it's good to discourage this sort of thing. You know how it is, first it's human experimentation on criminals and before you know it you're creating offences against nature and calling them Fluffy."

"The sad thing is, that's a valid concern. I wasn't planning on doing anything like that to him, though. I've got another plan in mind."

"I temper my sense of basic decency in expectation. Come on then, out with it."

Luna gave her a side-eye, pouting dramatically.

"Everyone's a critic. Alright. Mama Mathers, who we want to take out because otherwise the Fallen will continue to be a problem. So we want to kill this batshit cult leader: problem. No-one knows where she is, and she's got some sort of illusion powers. Why exactly the PRT haven't found her compound and dropped a nuke on it…"

Alastor, who was leaning against the wall and staring at a steel-skinned hand in frustration, looked up at that.

"Her powers work on Thinkers," he said, "So finding her compound out in the woods is hard. Very hard. And even if you do find her, the compound's full of the Family. When it includes children, dropping a big enough bomb would be pretty bad for PR."

"Sounds like a them problem," Luna muttered. Taylor, still eyeing Alastor, shrugged.

"He's got a point. Blowing up a bunch of kids to maybe get one person isn't going to go well for anyone, and if her powers can affect Thinkers who're just looking for her a stealth approach might not work. So what's your plan?"

"Powers like that only work when someone's awake," Luna said, "So we need to put her out. But happily we've got this nice man, completely willing to do whatever it takes."

Taylor looked down at the man, still drooling, and prodded at his mind with a thought. Yes, there might be something there.

"Mental reconstructive surgery is a new one," she admitted, "With inbuilt brainwashing, I assume?"

"Of course. Every child wants one for Christmas. So we have a perfect infiltrator. He just needs to get out of here and back to the Mathers, which is where we'll have to be a bit tricky. Once there, Mama will want to talk to him because of course she will, he's seen what we're doing. And once he's confirmed that she's in front of him…boom."

"I think that runs into the same problem as the nuke. Too much collateral damage."

Luna rolled her eyes and made a mocking noise.

"Collateral damage," she said, pitching her voice in mockery of Taylor. It didn't really work, mostly because they sounded almost exactly the same, but she still got her point across.

"If you're really going to be squeamish about this," she continued, having gotten that out of her system, "I was thinking of not using an explosive. Sleeping gas, instead. Mathers can't use her powers because she's unconscious and we get to sweep the area and kill anyone we think is a problem."

There was a brief pause.

"That's a good idea," Taylor said, "Actually. It's a great idea, because you're right. We want to make sure we get everyone."

"Ah, more heads on spikes," Alastor said quietly, although it seemed more anticipatory than disapproving.

"It's my favourite," Luna agreed, "I've started a trend so I'm gonna keep to it. But yeah. Sleeping gas bomb. We can brainwash him to say a trigger word or make a trigger motion and wire the bomb into him."

Grisly, but practical. The Emperor made a suggestion that Taylor listened to before she relayed it to the other two.

"Why bother with a bomb? Especially a gas bomb. He's a psyker, technically. We can pattern a psyker attack into him that'll knock out everyone within a square mile who's not strong enough to resist."

Luna scratched her chin, thinking.

"You know, you've got a point. Sleeping gas is fine, but that would be a lot quicker. Less likely to miss someone, too."

"We can still put the bomb in," Taylor added, "Just in case. I don't want to risk Mathers somehow staying conscious."

"Worried, Taylor?" Luna asked, "You didn't have much trouble with Valefor."

"I didn't mean to face Valefor – I got lucky. His power was pretty much overriding my nervous system, in a way, so I could Biomance my way out of it. I don't know if Mathers works the same way, and I don't want to take the chance. I don't think we want to risk me getting caught up in an illusion and going berserk."

"Not sure what kind of illusion could do that," Luna commented, and Taylor pressed a sliver of power out to her – a lingering memory. Luna tilted her head a fraction as she accepted it and Taylor saw the following wince as the hoarse-throated scream of 'Horus!' echoed around her skull, a whispering memory of a thousand howling voices.

"Yeah, fair enough," Luna said, "Save going in ourselves and grabbing Mathers while she's still awake for a last resort."

"Feel like it shouldn't be a resort at all, but alright. I take it that you're going to be carrying out horrible experiments on this guy from now on, then?"

"Got it in one," Luna said, giving Taylor a thumbs-up, "Actually, it's useful that you're here. I'm doing this, but there are still some Fallen out in the city. So, you want to make yourself useful…"

"I can go and do the grunt work?" Taylor asked. Luna beamed at her.

"It's so nice of you to volunteer."

"Snake," Taylor said, although without rancour. Alastor, who had gone back to frowning intently at his fingers, looked up.

"How are you going to hide that you're working together if you're rampaging around the city?"

Taylor smiled.

"Just like this," she said. A snap of her fingers and the Warp brushed over her, wrapping her in a blanket of illusion. Dark hair turned blonde, dark eyes blue, her teeth sharpening until she stood there, the image of Luna to anyone without the power to look past her disguise. Luna squinted at her as Alastor stared.

"Nice illusion," her clone said, "I can barely see through it."

"The Notice-Me-Not's given me practice," Taylor explained, "I'll need to borrow your cloak. Harder to hide something that'll be moving independently like my coat."

"I've got a spare," Luna said, already leaning down and prodding at Subject Two with the look of a mad scientist creeping over her features. Taylor waited for a moment, realising that Luna was already too engrossed to say anything else, and sighed.

"You know where Luna's room is, right?" she said, looking at Alastor. He gave Luna a slightly concerned look before nodding.

"Yeah, I'll…I'll take you there."

Taylor followed Alastor through corridors, idly wondering if Luna had somewhere else to go in mind or if she simply intended to redecorate. The place was in surprisingly decent repair, although unless she missed her guess it hadn't been abandoned for long. If she focused she could feel the lingering energies of the place: death left a mark, when there was enough of it. Not too much, here, nothing like she might feel in an older and more haunted building, but still enough. Perhaps Luna found it comforting, to know that she could draw on the latent memories of the building to turn against an attacker.

"Would have been useful to work this out before we ended up fighting," Taylor said, "Luna and I could have used our scrap as an excuse for the man escaping."

"It would have been convenient," Alastor agreed, "Maybe we can set something else up. If you're good at illusions, perhaps…if we can convince the Fallen that he's being moved somewhere and that he knows something, we can stage a rescue?"

"Yeah, something like that," Taylor said, "Dropping him off in the city's gonna be too suspicious. Could maybe pretend that he went on the booze-up of his life and he's only just recovered, but having him 'rescued' seems more likely. How paranoid is Mama Mathers, do you know?"

"Fairly paranoid," Alastor said, "But probably not so much that she wouldn't meet with him. She's powerful, that sort of thing breeds confidence."

"We can but hope."

A few more steps and Taylor glanced at Alastor, who was frowning again.

"You've got a question," she said, "You might as well ask it now."

A deep sigh from the man next to her.

"It's creepy when you do that," he said, "Luna too. But yeah, I've got a question. What gave it away? Mind-reading?"

"Mostly the way you kept glaring at your hand, actually. You seem to have an instinctive grasp on the whole flesh to steel thing, but I'm guessing that's not your problem."

"Perceptive," Alastor said, and then he sighed again.

"It's just…I didn't want to ask Luna. It sounds stupid, doesn't it? But I couldn't help but think…I joined her because I felt like I was wasting my potential serving as my father's second in command, like I could be more. And then, when she trusted me – when she trusted me enough to make me one of her Lieutenants, when she trusted me enough that I was one of the first people she granted these powers to, I was…I was touched, you know?"

"Loyalty is a funny thing," Taylor agreed. Alastor nodded fervently – she saw the rapid motion of his head in her peripheral vision.

"Right. She clearly has faith in me to achieve great things. And I feel like, like I'm letting her down. When I can't do something that she makes seem so easy."

"Luna and I make a lot of things seem easy. It comes with the power level – being able to brute-force things puts in a lot of work. What's your problem, Alastor?"

Alastor walked a few more steps before he spoke.

"It's…alright, this is going to sound stupid. But Cynthia and I have been experimenting, with our powers, and we can't…get them to work."

Taylor, who had both felt and seen Alastor using the Warp, was a little baffled. Luckily he seemed to notice and elaborated on his problem.

"We can both access the Warp," he explained, "And use some power. It's just that – look, maybe an example would help. You can throw fireballs, right?"

"Not just fireballs, but yeah. Basically. You having trouble?"

Alastor nodded.

"I can't get them to stay together," he said, "Whereas Cynthia can manage a fireball easily, but she can't do the skin to metal thing that I can. It's like there's some sort of…I don't know, some sort of mental block? We just can't get it to work."

So Luna had brought two almost entirely untrained Psykers to confront Taylor? Well, that sounded like them. In fairness, Taylor was fairly sure that Cynthia and Alastor had been there mostly to prove that Luna's plan would work. And it had worked, hadn't it?

"Alright," she said, foregoing any jokes, "Show me?"

"Show you?"

"Try and make a fireball. I can see your problem better when you're doing it, and if you want me to help fix it it's gonna be quickest this way."

Alastor let out a long, slow breath as they both stopped walking, holding out a hand. Taylor watched his fingers, eyes flicking to his face for a moment – sweat was already starting to bead on his brow. He was trying too hard, she thought, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling at the feeling of someone else drawing on the Warp. It answered slowly, reluctantly but it was answering, power pooling invisibly in his palm. Taylor watched thoughtfully: slow, but he wasn't actually doing anything wrong so far.

"Gather the power," Alastor said softly, "And then ignite it."

His face screwed up with effort – definitely trying too hard, Taylor thought she might be able to see the problem – and a spark flashed in his palm, catching. The pool of power flashed into burning, boiling light and Alastor winced, fingers shuffling, and Taylor felt the moment he lost control and let it go. Alright.

"I think I see the problem," Taylor said, "Cynthia doesn't have the issue, you said?"

Alastor shook his head.

"She can make fire, but not do what I do," he repeated, lifting up an arm and turning it to steel to demonstrate. Taylor watched the way the Warp energy threaded through his flesh, solidifying and coiling into strength, and nodded.

"You see it, don't you? It's not a common problem with Psykers in my home universe, but it used to be, among the first Psykers."

'Thinking too hard about it.'

"Cynthia had fire powers before, right?" Taylor checked, continuing when Alastor nodded, "Yeah, I see the problem."

She paused, not sure how to say it without sounding condescending. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if she wasn't generally the way she was, she reflected. A little humility might do her good.

The Emperor snorted in the back of her head and she suppressed a grin. Yeah, right.

"Okay," she said, "Conjuring fire one-oh-one. First and most important: forget the fire triangle. Spark? Comes from the Warp. Fuel? Comes from the Warp. Oxygen? Yeah you guessed it, comes from the Warp. This is magic, no science involved."

Taylor flicked her hand, fingers spread, and flame blossomed in her palm, burning purple-white. Alastor flinched back and then shook his head, leaning in.

"You were calling the power out and then using it as fuel," Taylor explained, "That works. It's just temperamental. This isn't real fire: it's Warp-Flame, born of the Immaterium. Don't call the power out and then light it: call the power and bring it forth as flame."

She focused for an instant and the fire in her hand twisted, warped, turned to a crackling orb of electricity, and then to a swirling, miniature snowstorm.

"Once it leaves your control the rules of reality reassert themselves. But so long as you have the strength to keep it under power? That energy takes whatever form you want."

She shrugged.

"It's wasteful to change it like I just did, though – much easier to stick to whatever you first form. Given that you aren't as strong as I am – or as Luna is – it might take a little longer. Think of fire."

Taylor watched Alastor frown before he closed his eyes, probably searching his memory. She tapped a finger against her thigh, thinking, before she put a little more effort into the warp-flame in her hand, making it act a little more like real fire, and held it just a little closer to Alastor. The heat on his skin, the crackling warmth, even the smell – it would all help.

Fire licked around Alastor's fingers, the greenish tint betraying supernatural origins, and his eyes snapped open. She felt the flare of disbelief when he saw it, cracking across his mind like a bolt of lightning and breaking his concentration, and the flame went out.

His face fell.

"Good," Taylor said, shaking her hand and letting her fireball gutter out. Alastor looked at her, incredulous.


Taylor nodded, patting Alastor on the shoulder and starting to walk again.

"The Warp is…funny. It's difficult, and it relies a lot on mindset. You conjured the flame, yes, but the moment you actually saw it? You doubted. You couldn't believe it. You knew it couldn't be true, and so…it wasn't."

Taylor reached up, rapping her knuckles gently against her temple.

"Your head knows that it's possible for you to use these strange new powers, that you can call fire from nowhere. Your heart is less convinced. Only practice will help with that."

"You sound like you're speaking from experience."

"Hmm, well, let's just say that it takes time for some techniques to come together," Taylor said, intentionally vague. If she had to guess she'd say that Alastor definitely knew there was something strange about Psyker powers, compared to his old Parahuman abilities, but the longer he waited to ask the longer she could put off the admittedly insane sounding explanation.

"Well, I guess it makes sense. So Cynthia's problem is the same?"

"The same, but with a different technique," Taylor agreed, "I'm pretty sure that if the two of you were trying to properly use telekinesis you'd both struggle. Maybe we should work on that, actually, extremely versatile ability."

"You use it most of the time, right? Wasn't that what you used against, well, Leviathan?"

Taylor nodded.

"First attack I ever used was a telekinetic shove," she said, reminiscing, "Nostalgia factor. And also, like I said, extremely useful."

"Do you mind if I ask…why did you use telekinesis against Leviathan? Why not fire, or lightning? It seems like those would be the most obvious choice."

Ah. Taylor waved a hand.

"Mm. Alright. There is a reason, just let me think how to word it."

Taylor shifted words around in her head, trying to find what she wanted to say, until she just shrugged and went with her gut.

"Mostly it's just not practical," she said, "Because once that warp-flame or whatever is out of my control, it reverts to being regular fire. So let's say I push it far enough that I think it can harm Levi: fire can melt concrete, or whatever. I wind up. I pitch it. The moment it hits Levi it goes back to being regular fire, meaning that anyone in the general vicinity not fireproof is at risk of getting charbroiled. It splashes everywhere, it's a mess. And if Levi's fireproof, well, it's a wasted attack. A physical attack's not as effective in a best case scenario, because it doesn't involved Levi becoming a melted lump, but in a worst case he's still gonna take some damage."

Taylor paused.

"Truth be told, I'm not sure I could even conjure fire hot enough to burn down Leviathan. He's tough."

"I don't think we could at the moment, even if we were fully prepared and used all our strength" the Emperor supplied, for her ears only, "And even if we could we'd need to write off the country we're in at the time as collateral. Maybe the entire continent, depending on how the atmosphere and climate take the sudden presence of a very small sun. And it would take a long time to gather the power."

'Agreed. It's a bit out of reach right now, even with the strength we've gotten up to.'

"Unfortunately. There are ways to enhance Psyker power, such as some rituals…Ahzek Ahriman, I heard, once managed to tear a sun from reality with the use of the correct ritual. Powerful as he is, that is quite outside his usual capabilities. That was using the strength of the Ruinous Powers, though, and I have little experience with sorcery or, well, ritual magic. I have never needed it, and sorcery is a fools game."

'Yeah, I don't think we'll be carrying out sacrifices or whatever to pump ourselves up any time soon. I've a few ideas for attacks that are a little more focused, though, they might help us more than more raw power.'

"All of the Endbringers are tough," Alastor said, sounding slightly nervous, "Luna thinks we can defeat them, though."

Taylor shrugged.

"I did some damage to Leviathan myself. Her theory is sound: a number of Psykers, working together, could probably cripple or destroy an Endbringer. The problem is keeping them safe. It'll have to be Luna or I, probably…we're the strongest."

"But anyone could do it, in theory?"

"In theory."

Alastor went quiet again, probably thinking about that, and they walked on until Alastor paused outside of a door and gestured to it.

"This is Luna's room," he said, "I forgot to ask her for a key. I don't know what's in there."

Taylor leaned a hand against the door, pushing gently. A deadbolt, she thought. Clever of her.

"It doesn't have a key," she said, "You see that hole drilled into the side?"

Alastor nodded and Taylor drew her hand back slightly.


Taylor let telekinetic tendrils flow from her hand, through the drilled hole, and wrapped them around the bolt. A single pull and it slid back, the door opening easily under her next push.

"Not impossible to get into, but surprisingly effective," Taylor said, "And no risk of losing the key. Either that or she was just bored."

"That makes a worrying amount of sense," Alastor admitted, "But still. It's not really safe, you know?"

Taylor shrugged, pushing her way into the room and looking around. About what she'd expected: an unmade bed, a desk with a single novel sitting on it, a wardrobe. Little personal. Nothing important.

"Everything important will be in her workshop," Taylor said, "You ever been in there alone?"

She glanced around in time to see Alastor frown in thought, brow wrinkling.

"Thought not. That'll be better protected, I'd expect. Probably better then my own, to be honest. She's a little more vicious than I am, as I'm sure you've noticed."

"I had an inkling," Alastor said, watching as Taylor opened the wardrobe and pulled out a cloak. She ran her fingers over the material, skin scraping against cloth, and listened for his next words.

"Your workshop, in Brockton Bay? It's not protected?"

"Oh. No, it's protected. Just with a little more subtlety. It's in the basement of a house on my street, one that's been abandoned for a while: I made sure to hide the sale documents, so no-one will be wandering in looking to buy it. Before I left I made sure to add some more protections that just hiding it, as well: carved some runes into the doorways and windows that'll make people look the other way. Not perfect, but it'll ward off even someone curious. It needs moved somewhere safer, really, but for the moment there's not much there that could be dangerous."

"That sounds risky, if people know that you have a workshop."

Taylor shrugged again, sweeping the cloak around to get a feel for how it would sit. The fabric caught on her wings, tangling, and she sighed in exasperation.

"This is why I don't wear a cloak," she murmured, concentrating on her wings. They shifted just slightly out of step with reality, becoming immaterial, and she extricated the cloak with another swirling motion, bringing it back in front of her.

"My workshop wouldn't provide much to anyone who breaks in. The only things worth taking are the armour printer, which only makes the most basic armour unless you know what to put in, and probably the power armour. Good luck getting that to work without being a Psyker. My notebooks with the notes that might actually be useful are hidden and encoded."

She folded the cloak over her arm.

"I'll have to look into getting a larger workshop. Better protected. But for the moment, it'll do."

For a moment Taylor shifted her illusion, trying to work out if she could get away with an illusory cloak. It interrupted the veil she'd laid over her power, probably flashing blinding bright for an instant before she reined it back in.


Alastor didn't reply: he was staring at her, with a look far too close to awe for Taylor's liking plastered on his face. She gave it a couple of heartbeats before lifting a hand and snapping her fingers in front of his eyes.

Alastor started.

"Oh! Sorry, staring. It's just, it's a lot more intense up close. Even brighter than what you looked like when I first saw you. Just after Luna had finished her work on me. Like…like when you go outside on the night of a full moon, everything washed in silver. A silver sun in a starless sky."

Ah. Poetic, yes, but also concerning.

"You saw my Warp presence before I veiled it," Taylor said and Alastor nodded slowly.


There was still an almost religious awe in his tone and it made Taylor's stomach twist uncomfortably. No. Not again.

"It's just a power thing," she said, "If Luna ever really shows off she'll look similar. But using it as a manipulation tool is very much in line with her."

Alastor shrugged, looking unconvinced.

"I suppose."


"Give it time. You'll see, once you come into your own power, that it's not so impressive. Now, do you know what Fallen we need to deal with? Or do you want to go and check with Luna?"

A desperate lie, but it worked: Alastor slowly blinked and then shook his head, clearing away whatever vision he'd seen. Taylor breathed a silent sigh of relief.

'I'll have to be more careful with that in the future. That was too close to starting a cult all on my own.'

"Very much so. Interesting that you shine silver, though. And ironic, given the usual colour of Lunar light. I wonder if a successor of yours would seem bronze?"

Taylor didn't reply to that, focusing on Alastor as he considered her question.

"Better to check with Luna," he said, "She shares a lot but she doesn't share everything, and she's got a tendency to go wandering off on her own. Wouldn't want to mess with something she's set up, would we?"

Taylor made a show of thinking, tapping a finger against her chin, and Alastor buried a laugh in a cough – he was only mostly successful.

"Nah, you're right," Taylor conceded as they set off again, "She knows what she's doing better than I do. Or she does here, at least."

They continued to retrace their steps and Taylor looked around thoughtfully, surprised by how quiet it was. She remarked on it and Alastor waved his hands in an indecisive gesture – Taylor noticed white-green flame dripping from one finger, taking the sign of practice as a good omen.

"There aren't that many of us," he admitted, "Just the few members of the Wards who Luna's managed to rescue and me. Some of the other Fallen have joined us, but she keeps them away – I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't trust them, because she wants to make sure that anyone coming after her can't get all of them, or if – well, if she's using them as bait."

Could be all three. In fact, it was likely to be all three: more efficient that way. Taylor nodded thoughtfully.

"I know she wanted to grow a legitimate group," Taylor said, carefully avoiding the cult word, "But right now that's going to be difficult. She's a murderer and she hasn't been subtle about it, so she needs to be powerful before she takes any risks like that. Give it time and people will forget, and then she can start recruiting more openly."

"You make it sound like you aren't involved."

Taylor grinned slyly.

"Well, as far as anyone knows…"

Alastor made a quiet noise of realisation and Taylor turned her head to him, tilting it in question. Alastor pointed up.

"That's it."

"That's what?"

"That's Luna's plan! Or it could be, at least. No-one knows that you're involved in all of this, only that Luna is. But if you were to kill Luna publicly and then take her place, telling everyone that you were going to put right what she did wrong – and with your illusions it wouldn't be impossible to fake Luna's death."

Taylor, stomach sinking, pointed at him.

"Don't you put that evil on me."

Alastor raised his hands innocently.

"I'm just saying," he said, "It's great propaganda. The hero finally defeats her evil doppelganger, but can't find it in herself to execute or imprison the people lured in by the hope the clone offered? It's a good story."

"But a bad idea," Taylor grumbled, "Fucking Luna. If she'd managed to restrain herself from getting her serial killer boy scout badge not a day after being born we wouldn't be having this problem."

Alastor hummed.

"Three people, at least. Who were those? She mentioned them, but didn't say a lot more."

Taylor sighed.

"Alright. Three people, not counting the other clones that she killed because the law doesn't, even if they're just as much people as the three she killed."

More than Emma, Taylor uncharitably thought but didn't say.

"First was Regent, from what I hear. She ambushed the Undersiders, beat Gru to a pulp, killed Regent, used Tattletale to lead her to the Protectorate. She might have killed some PRT troopers before that, even, but I can't be sure. So. She's killed Regent, which she'd probably get away with because, you know."

"The PRT and Protectorate's opposition to killing unimportant villains is mostly lip-service?"

"That, yeah. But then she continues. A couple of Wards have gotten into the Docks, they're rallying the Protectorate troopers and trying to set up some sort of command post, and in comes Luna. She's not alone, but she's the most dangerous: she's got physical augments, her powers are functional and controlled, she's not sane but she isn't crazed. A fight ensues. Most of the Wards and Protectorate members there get hospitalised, Browbeat gets his fucking brain chewed out by a horde of insects and if I hadn't arrived on time Vista would have died from a chunk of steel bar through a lung."

Taylor paused to take a deep breath, scowling.

"So that's two. Luna and I fight. Somewhere along the line Shadow Stalker eats shit and gets put into a coma. I ram the broken remains of my staff through Luna's heart and leave her for dead because, you know, there's a rampaging monster cloning people and I didn't exactly expect someone who's sans heart to get back up. And yet."

"She got back up. Did you miss?"

Taylor shook her head, smiling grimly.

"She and I don't die easy. I'm still not sure how she didn't die properly, how she healed, but…she did. And what did she do? She got up, walked away and cut the heart out of my childhood best friend."

She could feel Alastor staring at her.

"That's not really fair," Taylor admitted, "I know why she did it. See, Emma and I had a bit of a falling out. I went to summer camp one year, a year or two ago, and when I came back Emma had a new bestie and I was surplus. Less than surplus. Anyway, that escalated until she and her besties filled my locker with garbage and shoved me into it. I blew off the door with a telekinetic shove, walked home and got over it. Luna thinks – or thought – that revenge is best served hot."

Silence, while Alastor considered that. Taylor was the one to break it.

"You can maybe understand, then, why I was surprised to see Luna so sane. I'd expected it, once I realised that she was hunting the Fallen with considerably more restraint than she showed that bloody night, but I still expected her to be more unstable. Makes you wonder about me, doesn't it?"

"I wasn't," Alastor grumbled, "But I am now."

"If it helps, I'm pretty sure that the clones just came out brain-damaged," Taylor said, "All of them were murderous. Bit of a flawed power set, really."

"You think so? An apparently endless supply of murderously violent, unhinged clones seems fairly perfect to me. That's basically the power set that Nilbog has and he took over a whole town and drove out the PRT when they tried to stop him."

"Limited though. Nilbog got his city, but he doesn't have anything else and he never will have. Same thing with Echidna: would you really want to spend the rest of your life hiding in your fortified town with only drooling psychotics for company? I'm not even sure the clones could speak properly. Mine couldn't."

"A less kind man would make a joke about that," Alastor said and Taylor laughed.

"I'm sure some people have made comments on it," she said, "Not in my hearing though. I must have a reputation."

"I can believe it. Seems like most of the petty criminals in the city have cleared out: just too dangerous these days."

"Dangerous? I didn't know Luna was going after the regular criminals. Seems pointless, if she is."

Alastor, to Taylor's secret relief, shook his head.

"No, she isn't. But the Fallen aren't opposed to enlisting them, and in a fight she's not going to hold back. They're all afraid of being used as cannon fodder, and I can't say that I blame them. Half expected to get a visit from the Protectorate already, but I guess they're waiting to see who wins. Probably hope they can make some gains by taking out the victor."

A nice, neat explanation, Taylor thought. Maybe too neat. The Protectorate, from what she knew, didn't like to eliminate all organised crime: not since the aftermath of the Boston Games, where the power vacuum had resulted in a bloody gang war. Maybe they were waiting, trying to work out if it would be better to leave Luna in control or if they'd prefer to go back to the Fallen status quo.

"Well, the longer we have to entrench ourselves the better," Alastor continued, "If they haven't objected to the heads on spikes yet, might be that they don't think they can."

A show of weakness on the part of the Protectorate. Then again, having a number of Wards kidnapped and not wiping the perpetrators off the face of the earth was a much larger show of weakness, wasn't it? The Protectorate walked a fine line, for all the power that came from individual prowess. If public opinion turned against them, they'd likely fold.

'Already plotting a way to overthrow a government agency. Luna must be a bad influence on me.'

"Yes, I've never overthrown any legal body," The Emperor agreed, like the liar he was.

Taylor didn't even do him the courtesy of replying, instead rolling her eyes and pushing through the last door to Luna's lab. A tingle of power ran across her skin as she entered, so light that she might not have noticed it if she hadn't been paying attention. Rune-bound security measures, she thought, very subtle ones.

"Luna!" she called. Luna, still bent over her latest victim, looked up slowly.

"Yyyep?" she said, elongating the y as her brain refocused. Taylor chose not to comment on it.

"I've got your cloak," she said, "But I thought, before I go out and start killing people at random, maybe I should ask if Luna has some proper targets."

Luna squinted at her.

"Really? Boring," she said, "But yeah, alright. There are some people who I actually want dead. Fallen, too, so your fragile conscience won't be troubled."

A normal person would probably have been troubled by killing anyone, Taylor reflected, but it was a little too late to try and make that argument. Luna seemed to realise what she was thinking, because she grinned knowingly.

"There are three three-person cells that've sneaked into the city," Luna said, "I want one left, so they can 'rescue' our friend here. The other two? I want them dead. Made an example of."

"Heads on spikes?"

"Heads on spikes," Luna agreed, "You know me so well, Mo – Taylor."

"You're predictable, you mean. Six heads. Six spikes. Or do you want to switch it up? I'm sure there's a bridge somewhere to hang them from."

Luna looked intrigued.

"Stringing people up by their ankles would make a statement," she mused, "Throats cut and hanging like butchered meat."

"How enthusiastic you are. Easier to kill them, first, although I'll want one or two to interrogate. I can do that while we're there."

Luna shrugged.

"Whatever you want. Just remember that if you want to hang them from a high spot you'll need them in one piece. Or almost one piece."

She scratched at her chin with a hand – there was blood on her fingers, Taylor noticed. She glanced over at Test Subject Two and saw blood oozing from his nose. Part of her, the more human part, winced. The guy was a nutcase cultist, she reassured herself. He probably didn't deserve gentle treatment. Besides, Luna had shattered his mind in her experiments: there was nothing left to suffer, not really.

The justifications felt hollow, somehow.

"Cynthia has the list of cells. She'll be able to tell you more, but if you're going out as me you'll have to work harder on your disguise. Your wings are a bit of a giveaway, Taylor."

"How little faith you have in me."

Taylor flexed her wings, concentrating, and the two appendages broke apart, scattering into a rainbow dust that dissipated in the air. Luna made an appreciative noise.

"Did you do that whole rainbow effect intentionally?" she asked. Taylor shrugged.

"I think it gives the whole think some extra panache. I'll have to layer in an illusion to hide them, as well: if I start using the Warp in any real capacity they'll come back."

To demonstrate she lifted a hand and called a blazing orb of fire into existence, just pushing herself over the limit required, and her wings burst from her back, ethereal feathers becoming real as they sliced through the air. Alastor jerked back, but Luna just nodded.

"Very impressive," she agreed, walking around Taylor to get a better view. Taylor let the fire in her hand go out, sensing Alastor's own curiosity. He must have felt it, the Warp energy pouring forth and coalescing into her wings, even if he didn't yet understand it.

"By the way," Luna said, "Have you noticed that your wings are going grey? Even the red is dulling slightly. You aren't sick, are you?"

Taylor gave her a sardonic look: Luna, unrepentant, smiled back. Alastor shuffled.

"You…aren't sick, are you?"

"I'm not sure I can get sick," Taylor murmured, before speaking more loudly.

"You remember what I said, about the Warp being funny and reacting to little things?"

Alastor nodded, frowning. Taylor wobbled a hand in the air before jabbing backwards, gesturing at her wings with a thumb.

"This is the same thing. These wings aren't biological."

Luna stepped closer, looking at Taylor's wings with a thoughtful expression.

"Pure Warp energy, drawn out and crystallised," she said, "Maintained in the real world because they've become part of you, part of your self-expression. They're remarkable, really."

Luna looked over her own shoulder, contemplation written over her face, and Taylor focused again on Alastor.

"Right. These didn't come about intentionally, for all that I can maintain them: they're a result of an overflow of Warp energy that's become second nature to me. They're red because – well, I don't really know. Because I like red. Because I was furious when they manifested and red is the colour of rage. Because I was remembering blood, bright in artificial light. Who knows. But they're red."

"So why didn't they stay red?" Luna asked softly.

"Why didn't they stay red?" Taylor repeated, "Who knows? Because I matured as a person, got over some of my anger. Because my favourite colour has changed. Because when I look back on blood bright in artificial light I feel regret, rather than rage. Because I can't stand being called the Red Angel, and I want to change it enough that my powers are subconsciously reacting."

Taylor smiled at Alastor, a grim curve of her lips.

"No-one knows everything, Alastor. We still have to guess. But at least it makes life interesting, right?."

Two probing darts of power struck her wings, one close to her back where the red was strongest and one towards the tip, where it had greyed. Taylor, who had felt the energy gathering, merely growled in irritation and flicked a lash of power towards Luna's outstretched hand, grinning smugly at the way Luna jerked her hand back.

"Ow," her clone said, "I was just testing the strength of the feathers."


Luna made an obscene gesture in her general direction before a smirk overtook her brief pout.

"You know," she said, "If your wings do turn completely grey, they won't drop the nicknames. They'll just find another one. What about the Lord of Iron – no, the Iron Lady?"

"It's not too late for us to be enemies."

Luna snickered as Taylor stepped away, her wings folding behind her.

"I think the angel nickname will stay, unfortunately. Unless they take inspiration from the Aquila."

"The Steel Hawk? Eh. The Cobalt Eagle, if you try a little more blue…the Iron Angel? Oh, I like that last one."

"You would," Taylor, who would be quite happy to simply remain Circaetus, grumbled.

"You've taken my sense of fashion," Luna said, clearly baiting her, "Why not my naming suggestions too?"

Taylor ignored her. Luna, unruffled by something she must have expected, looked over to Alastor.

"Alastor, can you go and talk to Cynthia? I need a word with Taylor, in private."

Alastor's eyes flicked between the two of them, assessing, before he nodded.

"Of course."

Luna waited until Alastor had walked through the door and left – Taylor felt the candle flicker of his Warp presence walking away – before she leaned on the work table and looked Taylor in the eye.

"You know, I can feel you judging me," she said, "For this."

She waggled her bloody fingers in the air demonstratively and patted the chest of her test subject with the other. Taylor shrugged.

"Can you blame me?"

Luna sniffed, lip curling in the beginning of a sneer.

"I don't see why you'd care. He's Fallen, and not one of the more pleasant members. You think that, when the Wards were captured and handed out, he refrained from sampling the goods?"

Taylor wasn't a stranger to callousness or crudity, but there were enough of both in that statement that she looked more closely at Luna. There was a fear there, she realised, well-hidden but present, making Luna even harsher than usual. Taylor didn't draw attention to her realisation.

"While I do see the satisfaction in using rapists for medical experimentation, it seems like a dangerous precedent. Even we aren't infallible."

"Not with that attitude," Luna said, her apparently nonchalant grin carefully shaped to reveal most of her fangs, razor sharp and gleaming white. Taylor was unimpressed.

"I'm not telling you to stop," she said, "I'm telling you to be careful. A couple of rapists and murderers vanish or whatever, no-one will care. If you start setting up human experimentation facilities, there's going to be a problem."

And the problem, Taylor left unsaid, would be called Taylor Hebert. Luna would understand.

"Point taken," Luna said. She drummed her fingers on the workbench, her smile dimming.

"Actually, that's something I wanted to talk to you about," she said. Taylor folded her arms, waiting.

"I'm listening."

"Do you remember Canary?" Luna asked, out of the blue. Wrong-footed, Taylor blinked and didn't immediately reply: Luna didn't seem to need one.

"Of course you do. Canary, unjustly condemned to the Birdcage, broken out by the Undersiders, mind control voice. You remember her. Do you remember, those months ago, telling yourself that if it came down to it – if the Protectorate told you to bring Canary in or stop associating with them – that you'd sacrifice Canary for that connection?"

Taylor felt her neck burn hot with shame at the memory. Yes, it was unprincipled – no. More than that, it was cowardly. But, in the end, Canary's life and liberty…it mattered less than the resources the Protectorate could provide t the time. Luna nodded, seemingly satisfied.

"Yes, you remember. I remember, too. Whatever happened to dear Canary?"

"If she had any sense she'll have repaid her debt to Tattletale and found somewhere nice and quiet to live the rest of her life in peace and obscurity."

Another laugh, those white teeth gleaming, the snap of Luna's mouth closing before she spoke again.

"Of course she would have," Luna said, darkly amused, "That would be convenient, wouldn't it? You'd never have to confront that decision you made, because Canary simply vanished."

Taylor shook her head, breathing deep and letting the irritation at what Luna was saying – the truth that Luna was telling her – wind its way into her bones and melt away. While Luna was clearly saying it in the most annoying way possible, she was right. Lashing out here wouldn't be anything other than childish.

"Say what you mean."

"Playing dumb doesn't suit you, Taylor. You know what I mean: we can't keep this partnership hidden forever. Someone will find out, and then the PRT and the Protectorate will find out, and what then? You've gotten away with Canary because she really isn't that important and she's got no connection to you. But me? When you're working with me?"

Taylor almost said that it might never be revealed in time to matter, but it sounded weak even in her head.

"Assuming they decide to stray into headhunting," she said instead, "They usually don't."

"Not that you know of," Luna said, "But for me, I expect they'll make an exception. Especially if they somehow learn what we're trying to do: that we're trying to take away their monopoly on power. You think they'll let that happen?"

No. No, Taylor didn't. Whatever plan the PRT had for preventing the end of the world, whatever plan Cauldron had, because secret groups like that never boded well, it definitely didn't include Taylor and Luna's plan. Which led to what Luna was asking.

"You've been working with them so far," Luna continued, "Doing your own thing when you want to, because in the end it all benefits them. They've let you think that you're still separate, that you aren't as much one of their assets as all the Heroes and Wards. Why push it, when you're willing to mostly stay in line? Oh, I'm sure if they knew for certain about Oni Lee and Coil they'd have to act, but so long as they can pretend they don't it's all fine, isn't it."

"I'm under no illusions that they think they're using me," Taylor said, keeping her tone mild with an effort, "I just don't care, so long as they don't get in my way. Allies of convenience. It just happens that our objectives tend to line up."

Luna paused at that, nodding slowly.

"Alright," she said, "I get that. I know that. But you've made friends. You have connections. Are you willing to throw that all away?"

"Say what you mean," Taylor repeated. Luna shook her head.

"You've been walking a line, Taylor. You're Protectorate affiliated, despite working with Tattletale and now me. The Protectorate have let it go, because it's all benefitted them. But as things get more important – when it becomes clear that what I'm doing will threaten the Protectorate and PRT – they're going to move against me. They'll want you to stay with them, remain at the head of the charge. Their resources will remain open to you, so long as you pay the price. And what will you do, if they demand my head as that price? If they tell you – if they give you an ultimatum? If they tell you that you're with them or you're against them, what will you do?"

"You know what I'll do," Taylor said. Luna shook her head.

"That's what I'm afraid of, Taylor. Come on. Tell me. Say it aloud, so I know – so I know who you'll choose."

So I know you'll choose them, Luna didn't say. Taylor heard it anyway, and sighed.

"You really want me to say it?"

"I really want you to say it."

"Alright. Fine. If the Protectorate and PRT find out that we're working together, and if they come to me and tell me that I can bring you in or I can join you in a Villain classification, then I'd better work on my monologuing. Because I'm not bringing you in."

Taylor saw it, then, the flash of vulnerability on Luna's face, the flicker of disbelief through her pale eyes. It sent a flicker of hurt through her heart – did Luna really think that Taylor's word was worth so little? Taylor had said she would help Luna's plan. She wasn't going to turn her back on it.

"You'd stand with me," Luna said softly, "But not Canary?"

Taylor huffed out a breath, shaking her head.

"You know why."

"But I want you to say it."

Taylor looked away from Luna's gaze, shaking her head. A shared trait, then: pushing too far. Asking too many questions. Needing to know too much. But this was a fair question.

"Alright. Alright, fine. I'll stand with you because you're useful. Because you can actually do something to help me. Canary's sentence wasn't just, but because the PRT are more useful than she is I'd sacrifice her! Are you happy, Luna? Are you happy to make me admit that my morals are so fucking shoddy?"

"No," Luna said softly, "I'm not."

And, the worst thing was, Taylor believed her.

"I told you I would help," Taylor continued, more softly now, "That I thought your plan was the best option. And I will, and I do. Hopefully it'll never come to it. But if it does, I won't betray you."

"Let us hope she feels the same way."

'We'll burn that bridge if we come to it.'

"Keep that sword of yours to hand."

"You're too trusting," Luna said, "You never know what could go wrong."

Taylor threw both hands in the air, exasperated.

"Make your mind up!" she snapped, "Do you want me ready to betray you or not?"

"I want you to be careful," Luna said, intense, "I won't betray you, not now. Not if I can help it. But Horus and Fulgrim would never have betrayed the Imperium, would they?"

Taylor's retort died on her tongue as the memory of Horus flashed across her mind, contorted and bloated with Ruinous Power. She shook it off, but only with effort: even here, so very far away, some things lingered. Luna smiled.

"Of course, the Ruinous Powers aren't here to turn me," she said, more cheerfully, "But there are plenty of mind-control abilities about so let's not get too confident, yeah?"

Taylor scoffed, but quietly.

"You're paranoid."

Luna didn't reply, just smiling still. Taylor shook her head.

"Speaking of paranoia…what weapon are you planning to use? It'll make it less convincing if I use a weapon you're never seen with afterwards."

Luna shrugged.

"I was thinking of a warhammer. Because, you know…"

"It's yet another unsubtle Horus reference?"

Luna looked wounded, but it was unconvincing. Taylor shook her head but the terrible joke added some much needed levity back into the room, lightening her spirits. Still, she had something to find out.

"The joke's overused, Luna. Which weapon?"

Luna folded her arms, tilting her chin up in thought.

"I don't know. Not a glaive, like you – it just doesn't feel right. Probably not a warhammer or mace, either, but I'd prefer a hand weapon to a polearm."

"Axe? Sword?"

"Yes, one of the two. I'll need to learn how to forge before I make myself one, though. It wasn't a skill you had before I was cloned, so I don't remember it. You've got a sword. Use that, and I'll make one later to sell the illusion. Unless you'd like to lend me yours?"

"Don't push your luck."

If Taylor had to say something nice about Wichita, it was that it was warmer than Brockton. It was welcome, honestly: Luna's hooded cloak, while arguably aesthetically superior to Taylor's preferred coat, was less functional in terms of keeping off rain and wind. More of a cape, really, not wide enough to wrap around Taylor even when her wings weren't involved. Alastor, still acting as Taylor's minder, was wearing a long coat: he'd replaced his own cloak at some point. Taylor would probably smugly remark on it to Luna later, depending on how she was feeling.

"So these guys," she said, "You know them?"

"I know one of them," Alastor corrected, hands in his pockets, "Jeffrey. He's not Triggered, but my father had high hopes of him. No relation of mine. The other two are Mathers, I think."

Well, that was something. Taylor would have felt awkward killing one of Alastor's family. Or close family, at least. A nephew, or something.

"Can you tell how many of them there are?" she asked. The information had apparently come from one of Luna's converts who was pretending to remain with the Fallen: Cynthia and Luna seemed convinced that it was reliable, but it didn't hurt to check. Alastor frowned.

"I…think so. I just look through the Warp, and see them?"

Taylor nodded, taking a second to veil herself more thoroughly: as close as she was, if she wasn't careful she'd be blinding. She saw Alastor squint before his eyes gained a faint sheen that reflected the kaleidoscope colours of the Immaterium. A slow blink.

"Three," he said softly, "I can see them. But they're faint…"

"The weaker the Psyker, the fainter they shine in the Warp," Taylor told him. He nodded slowly, looking further, his gaze becoming even less focused and Taylor jolted him with her elbow. He snapped straight, drawing in a suddenly alarmed breath and looking at her.

"Be careful," she said, "It's easy to get lost in that sight. Keep a close grip."

Alastor let his gasped air out slowly, nodding.

"I will," he said, "Three then. The information was good. Can you get them from out here, or do we have to go in?"

Taylor thought about it, wondering how much to reveal. It probably didn't matter, she decided.

"Direct attacks need a clear line of sight – or something like it, at least. If I threw a telekinetic shove, for example, it'd need to take down the wall first. There are more esoteric techniques, but there's no need for those here. We'll go straight in, and I'll hide us both."

She was already cloaked in her illusion of Luna, hair colour and eye colour and razor fangs and her armour black instead of white, but she now extended her strength over them both, hiding them in her Notice-Me-Not technique. She saw Alastor looking at it, a hand moving as though to pluck the insubstantial threads that made it up.

"Half illusion, half mind-control," she explained, "Anyone who sees us just won't believe their eyes. Even works on cameras, if you put enough power into it."

"One of those more esoteric techniques, I suppose?"

"Very much so. Come on."

They broke from their hiding place in an alleyway, walking across the street to the house door. Taylor leaned down towards the lock while Alastor kept watch – it wasn't needed, but she appreciated the thought. Taylor pressed a hand to the lock, worming telekinetic tendrils in and turning, twisting.

The lock clicked.

Taylor rose to her full height as she gently opened the door and stepped quietly inside, peering through the Warp to locate her three targets. A breath, slow and careful, and Taylor reminded herself that Luna wouldn't spare them. That, to maintain the illusion, she simply had to kill them. She couldn't find it in herself to care. They were gathered in a small kitchen, talking, and Taylor drew their attention with a psychic ping as she walked in, her stride not faltering, the kitchen large enough to give her arm room.

Taylor drew her blade as she stepped in, a rising slash with her sword as she moved. It cut flesh like butter, hip to shoulder, and the first Fallen came apart in a welter of blood. She stopped her cut, reversed it into a thrust that pinned the second Fallen to the wall with the sword through his chest, leaving the sword in his body as she flicked a hand at the last Fallen. He slammed into the wall from the telekinetic shove, pinned there by the weight of her power.

'So very easy. If I were a better person, I wouldn't find this so easy.'

"Why not? There's nothing sacred about life, and these are criminals. Cultists. Scum. They deserve the blade."

'That's certainly an opinion.'

"That isn't a disagreement."

Taylor was across the space between herself and the last man before he'd finished bouncing off the wall, closing a hand around his jaw and pressing him hard back. She was taller than he was, and so had to use her grip on his face to force him to look up.

"Look me in the eyes," she said gently, "And show me all you know."

It wasn't much of a contest of wills. The man was afraid, he was hurt, he was a cultist trained not to think for himself and Taylor broke his flimsy resistance with ease, shattering his mind and digging through the fragments. Names, places, bases, favourite foods and preferred colours filtered out before they could cloud the information, who the man was discarded in favour of what he knew. It was a brutal sort of thing, really, but effective. What was left of the man was weak, lost and Taylor snuffed out the fading embers of his life with barely a thought. He sagged into her arms and she lowered the corpse to the ground, a brief parade of memories flashing through her mind.

Reaching out for his mother, chubby infant arms. School, a college. A stupid, edgy group put together for the laugh, taken over by real believers. The spiral into fanaticism and debauchery, all of it ending here, at her hand.

Nothing sacred about life.

"He wasn't a Mathers," Taylor said, "He was a Crowley."

"A Crowley?" Alastor asked, "What the hell was one of them doing here? They couldn't stand Father."

"It's not for him. Power vacuum's forming, and they'd like to take a chance on it. He saw the meeting they held with what's left of the McVeay leadership – Mathers and Crowley, I mean."

Alastor tapped the hilt of her sword, pursing his lips in thought.

"What did they say?"

Taylor lifted a hand, as though holding a book in front of her.

"And in return for their liberation, surviving members of the McVeay family will swear fealty and loyalty to the Mathers and Crowley families," Taylor quoted, shaking her head in bemusement, "I'll be honest, I didn't have the resurgence of feudalism on my bingo card for this year."

"The time will come," Alastor said, as though quoting something himself, "When the Endbringers have done their work and wickedness is broken, that the Warriors of God shall return to Heaven and leave this sinful world in the hands of His chosen. And those Chosen will take up the future of mankind, and carry it forth, and they will be the ones who choose the righteous path for all men to tread. Those survivors of the holy cleansing will look to the symbols of their God in rightful fear and adoration, and they will follow those who have cleaved to his word: and those will be the strong."

Taylor raised both eyebrows at him and he shrugged, self-conscious.

"Something someone who visited my Father a long while ago said. A preacher, I suppose. I hardly remembered it until you talked about feudalism."

Feudalism. Hmm. There was something there, something at the corner of her mind. The basic, boring, pop-history version where it was the rule of the strong. And who was stronger than high tier Parahumans? Come to think of it, the Triumvirate were some of the most powerful Parahumans. Some of the most powerful individuals on the planet, and presumably part of Cauldron. A hidden group, no doubt with resources.

"The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights."

'The strong will rule, and the weak will serve. And when the time comes…that's an alarming thought.'

But she didn't say any of it, because wild conspiracies wouldn't help anyone now. Still. Best to keep an eye out, just in case.

"Good old Alexander," Taylor said instead, "'But who shall inherit your empire?'"

Alastor narrowed his eyes at her, presumably knowing the other part of the quote but not yet saying it, and Taylor smiled.

"The strongest."

Next chapter will be March, probably, back on a bimonthly schedule. As always reviews are appreciated, and I'll see you in the next chapter.