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Chapter 2

Dearest Devika. I have succeeded where all others have failed. They called me mad, but I have confirmed the truth. The Power is alive. What we call magic is the means by which it feeds. It grants a piece of itself to some few of us, and as we exercise that connection through every manipulation of the physical world, the magic grows. Upon our death, that increase returns to the Power. It is a symbiotic parasite. Grown fat upon us, the process repeats, more Actives are created, the cycle continues. The Power itself has a certain measure of awareness. Aware? Yes. I do not know yet if it knows that I have stolen from it, and if so, how it will react to my petty thievery. As the Power is using us, I intend to use it. I beg your forgiveness for what I must now become.

—Anand Sivaram,

Personal correspondence discovered in

Hyderbad, India, 1912

New York City, New York

The librarian was frustrated. He had finally gotten through every single document, report, study, and book about magic in the entire rare books collection of the main branch, and though he’d found some interesting trains of thought to pursue, he was no closer to what he was searching for than when he’d arrived in New York. It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise. A sizable Stuyvesant grant had gotten him the title of Visiting Research Librarian under an assumed name and free access to the entire Library of Congress. After months in D.C. devouring every work on magic in the largest library in the world, he hadn’t found anything about the Enemy. Weeks spent at the extensive Carr Library, devoted exclusively to magic, at the University of Chicago had been just as fruitless.

His newfound title and more of Francis’ dough had gotten him a peek at all of the good stuff at the second largest library in the country. He knew full well that if New York didn’t pan out, the only other place that might have what he was looking for was in Europe, and he didn’t think he had time to learn French. The library he really wanted to hit was in Tokyo, but he didn’t think the Japanese would be particularly fond of him coming for a visit, since he’d recently sliced their First Iron Guard in half.

It had been stupid to get his hopes up here.

The idea was troublesome, but Jake Sullivan was beginning to think that maybe he was the expert. And that was just downright scary.

He’d started hitting various collections after he’d combed through all of the Grimnoir Society’s collected Rune Arcanium. The Society was proud of the information they’d collected over the years, and they’d kept the things that they thought particularly dangerous a secret. Once he’d taken the oath he’d been able to learn the collected spells of the Society, and though it had been educational, there was nothing there about what he was really worried about.

The Society didn’t know much about the Enemy either, and it seemed the elders thought he was crazy for even suggesting its existence. Sullivan knew something else was out there, searching for the Power, and it would find them eventually. They had to be ready. The Chairman had understood that. Why couldn’t anyone else?

Sullivan rubbed his tired eyes, shoved the latest useless research paper off to the side, and checked his watch. It was nearly closing time. Studying magic was hard work, but it beat breaking rocks. The library was quiet, as such places tended to be, but it was especially quiet tonight. February was late in the year for this much snow, but there had been a real cold snap over the last few days, and the city was blanketed in white. Everybody with any sense had already gone home.

“Hi. They told me you could help me.”

He hadn’t even heard her coming. Sullivan looked up to see a fancy mink coat with a pretty red head inside. “Pardon me, ma’am?”

“They said you were a librarian and that you could help me find something.” She had the build of a calendar girl, the voice of upper-crust Manhattan, and a face designed to turn men into easily malleable putty, and as she batted her big flirtatious eye lashes at him, he could tell that she was used to men usually doing what she asked, and quickly. “You don’t look like a librarian, though.”

That’s because he was a square-jawed, thick-armed, solemn block of a man that had obviously lived a high-mileage life. “I’m not that kind of librarian.”

“What kind are you then?”

“The kind that isn’t much help. You need to head that way,” he pointed down the stacks. “Ask the nice ladies at the big desk in the middle.”

“Oh, I’m sure you can be helpful if you want. You strike me like a real chivalrous type.”

Sullivan just wanted to be left alone. “Not really.”

“What’re you reading?” she asked, craning her head over his shoulder to read. “Oh . . . Powers? Are you an Active?”

“No,” he lied as he pushed the book away. “Just an interesting topic is all.”

“Too bad. I’m fascinated by Actives. Can you imagine being able to do such amazing things? Controlling weather, reading minds, changing gravity, healing the sick . . . Oh, how would it be?”

He gave a noncommittal grunt.

“You don’t seem very talkative. What’s your name?”

“Nobody important.”

“Well, nice to meet you, Mr. Important.”

Sullivan could feel a pounding headache coming on. It must have been the eyestrain from twelve hours of reading small print. “Sorry, lady. Been a long day. Place is about to close.” He paused to rub his temples. “If you want to find something you best hurry along.”

She regarded him curiously. Pretty girls weren’t used to getting the shove off like that. “Well then. Never mind. Good night.” She walked off, heels clicking against the marble floor. He hadn’t heard her come, but he heard her go.

Despite the sudden headache, Sullivan watched her appreciatively. There was a fine looking woman, perfectly friendly, just needing a hand, and he had to go and run her off in a rude fashion. Nobody had ever accused him of being overly friendly, or friendly at all for that matter, but he’d become even more withdrawn over the last year. That was to be expected. Anyone close to him was in danger. He was a marked man.

Delilah had died because of him. There was just no going back from something like that.

Ten minutes later Sullivan had gotten all the day’s books put back in place. There was no need to say any goodbyes to the staff. They didn’t know his real name anyway. Tomorrow he’d leave town. Days would pass before anyone even noticed the big quiet man was gone.

The front steps were slick with fresh snow. Pulling his fedora down tight, his scarf up over most of his face, and hunching his broad shoulders against the wind, Sullivan set out for home. He passed between the two big stone lions, Lennox and Astor, which were well known local landmarks. One of the mayoral candidates had suggested renaming them Patience and Fortitude, because since the economy had gone to hell and everybody was out of work, it was going to take patience and fortitude for New Yorkers to get out of this mess.

Little did all those New Yorkers realize that if it hadn’t been for the sacrifice of a bunch of brave unknown Actives, this whole part of the country would be nothing more than a big pile of ash. Bitter cold always put Sullivan in a melancholy mood.

The city got rougher and older only a few blocks from the library. He’d picked a rundown place to lay his head. New York had been especially hard hit over the last few years, so there had been plenty of vacancies to chose from. Folks in the rough parts of town paid less attention to each other, which was exactly what he wanted.

At least the snow covered the trash. The city looked clean, briefly, when it snowed. A group of bums were huddled around a burn barrel, hands extended for warmth; residents of the local Hoover Town. The vacant lots were filled with shacks and huts assembled out of junk and old tires. They looked over, but it was too cold and Sullivan was too physically intimidating to even bother pan-handling.

There was a scream from ahead. A woman, and it didn’t sound like she was playing around. The noise came from a nearby alley. The woman screamed again. There was a bang as a trash can fell over and then a man gave a rough laugh. “Help me! Somebody help me!” The cries echoed down the brick walls.

The bums just lowered their heads and stared at their fire. There were only a few cars on the street. The local businesses were all boarded up. He was on his own. There wasn’t even a decision to be made, since his nature was set in stone. Sullivan sighed and walked to the mouth of the alley.

There were six figures in the dark. One was obviously the victim, female, being held against the wall by the neck. The man holding her was nearly Sullivan’s size, and his four buddies were lined up behind. They liked to run in packs, numbers made them tough, these typical urban rats, always thin, hungry, and mean. One of them was tearing through the woman’s purse, looking for cash or anything they could trade for hooch or dope or whatever their game was.

It was dark, but light enough to fight. His magic was ready. He felt the Power built up inside his chest and used a tiny bit to see the nearby world as it really was. Everything was just matter, some of it was heavy, some light, but everything felt the tug of gravity, and gravity belonged to Jake Sullivan.

“Let her go.” He didn’t even raise his voice. He didn’t have to. Part of him wanted the fight. It had been awhile, and he hated men like these.

“Ain’t none of your business, buddy,” sneered the big one. He turned enough that Sullivan could see the gleam of a little knife in his off hand. “Keep on walking.”

He felt for the heavy spots that might indicate a weapon, but the only thing dense on these thugs were their thick heads. No guns. Blades, leather saps maybe, but those things were harder to pick out from the background matter. One solid pair of brass knuckles stood out like a beacon. Surprisingly, it felt like the woman might have a compact pistol hidden inside her coat, but she must not have been able to get to it in time, or maybe she’d lacked the nerve to pull it. The other possibility was that she was in on it, and this was all some elaborate attempt to rob him, but it didn’t feel that way. The big jerk with the knife was enjoying himself too much.

“You get one warning, then I hurt you.” Sullivan hadn’t even taken his hands out of his pockets. “You boys seem young and times are hard, so I’ll try not to kill you, but I can’t promise nothing.”

“You know who you’re talking at?” said the one with the purse.

“No, and frankly I don’t give a shit.”

“We run this—“ Not wanting to hear any nonsense about how their group of criminal losers was tougher than some other group of criminal losers, Sullivan reached out with his magic and Spiked. A bit of space broke and the gravity around the gang member changed direction. Left was now down, and the kid suddenly flew sideways into the brick. He crashed hard under the force of several extra gravities, bones creaking, and stuck there until Sullivan cut his Power. The kid fell into the snow in a shower of red dust.

“I warned you.”

“He’s a dirty wizard!” the big one shouted. “Get him!”

The rats charged, which forced Sullivan to take his hands out of his pockets. He easily dodged the first clumsy swing and slugged the hoodlum in the chest. Ribs cracked under Sullivan’s hardened fist. That one gasped and collapsed. The next attacker slowed, confused, as the pull of gravity changed. It must have felt like he was trying to push his way through molasses. Sullivan’s casual right hook broke the man’s jaw.

The last rat skidded to a stop and dropped his brass knuckles in the snow. “Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry!”

“Too late.” Sullivan reversed gravity and the hood fell ten feet into the air, screaming, before gravity returned to normal. Sullivan didn’t spike very hard though, so the man probably didn’t break too many bones when he hit the pavement.

The leader was the only one left standing. He let go of the woman and she sank to the ground, coughing. Sullivan looked down at her and as his eyes adjusted to the darkness was surprised to see it was the red head from the library.

“Filthy wizard. You stay back!” The thug raised his knife. “Your kind are evil.”

“You don’t find nothing ironic about saying that?” Sullivan walked toward him. “Bunch of men mugging some poor lady and you’re preaching to me about evil? Robbing better be all you had planned . . .”

“You wouldn’t be so tough without your magic.”

“Well, ain’t you lucky? I done used up all my magic on your crew,” Sullivan lied. He had plenty of Power still, but he didn’t need magic to handle the likes of this trash. “I’m fresh out. Try me.”

The boss thug bellowed and charged. Sullivan let the knife flash back and forth wildly. Sullivan had grown up poor in a tough town and was no stranger to back alley fights. He’d fought on docks, in rings, at war, and had gotten extremely good at avoiding shivs inside the brutal dog-eat-dog world of the Rockville State Penitentiary. This encounter barely qualified as exercise. He kept moving just ahead of the blade, and when there was the faintest glimmer of confidence from his adversary, Sullivan ruined his night.

He stepped past the swing and broke the thug’s nose with one fast jab. Sullivan was surprisingly quick for such a large man. Before his opponent could even cry out, Sullivan had grabbed his knife hand and twisted it back until wrist bones snapped. Then Sullivan kicked one of the thug’s knees backwards. He stepped back and let the man topple into the snow.

Sullivan paused to dust his coat off. Some nasal blood had splattered his sleeve. All of the gang were down, crying, whimpering, or unconscious. He’d broken something on each of them, so that was probably a sufficient lesson for the evening. Sullivan wasn’t even breathing hard.

The woman was standing up, so he stepped over the thug with the shattered knee and extended a hand. “They hurt you?”

She took his hand and he helped her up. “No. I’m fine. Just shaken up.”

“Let me see your neck.” He gently lifted her chin. It was difficult to see. “That’ll leave a bruise, there.”

“Just a boo-boo,” she insisted.

Sullivan let go and retrieved her purse. The goon that he’d Spiked into the wall cursed him, so Sullivan stepped on his fingers. That shut him up. “This ain’t the part of town for somebody like you.” He passed her purse over. “What’re you doing here?”

She didn’t answer his question. “I thought you said you were the kind of librarian that couldn’t help people?”

“I’m better at some things than others. Come on. It stinks in here. Let’s get you home.”

There was far more light on the street. He could see that the woman was holding together well. Her expensive coat had been stained by alley grime, but her attitude was firm. Not a crier, this one. Remarkably, there was a cab coming around the corner, which was fortunate timing, since he had no idea where the nearest telephone booth was. He waved at the cab.

The red head looked him square in the eye. “So, what you did back there . . . You’re a Heavy, I’m guessing?”

She did know a thing or two about magic. “I prefer Gravity Spiker. It’s more dignified.”

The cab stopped before them. “Who are you?”

“Just a guy who was in the right place at the right time.” His headache was coming back. He opened her door for her. “You got cab fare?”

“I do. Thanks.” She politely took his hand as he helped her in. “Thank you so much. Is there anything I can do for you? Do you need a lift?”

“I’m good. And listen, if you’re going to carry that piece, you’d better be ready to use it next time.”

“Oh, I will. I promise.” The woman smiled at him, and she had a dazzling smile. “Thanks. You’re a regular knight in shining armor.”

Sullivan closed her door. “Oh, you’ve got no idea.”

The cab pulled away. The driver peered into the center mirror to study his passenger.

“So, is that the Heavy?”

“That’s our boy,” she said before turning around and waving at Jake Sullivan out the back window. He was standing there, lighting a smoke, and raised one hand to wave awkwardly in response. She turned back around. “I’m positive.”

Her Power hadn’t been of much help earlier. Despite appearing to be a lout, he was too smart, and judging from the look on his face when she tried tipping the scales, he could feel the intrusion, so she’d been afraid to push. She’d needed to see his magic in action to be sure, and just like the files said, he was one dangerously powerful Heavy. She waited until they were around the corner before removing the red wig. Her primary concern during the attack was that it might have gotten knocked loose, and that would have looked suspicious. “Radio the others. We’ll pick him up tonight.”

Miami, Florida

Francis couldn’t believe his ears. He had made the policeman repeat himself, but the message stayed the same. Heinrich Koenig had been killed.

As a boy, armed only with his wits and Fade magic, Heinrich had survived on the streets of Dead City. He’d walked through the Berlin Wall, joined the Grimnoir, and been one of their bravest ever since. As a knight, he’d fought in dozens of battles, Soviets, Imperium, it didn’t matter, he had a special hatred for anyone that would use magic for evil. Heinrich feared nothing. No matter what the odds, no matter what they faced, Heinrich was always the first to volunteer. He was brash, fearless, and utterly loyal.

And dead.

Francis had to lean on the wall as the world dropped out from under him. His forearm was broken and his head hurt, but the physical injuries were nothing compared to the swift kick in the gut he’d just caught. He could afford a Healer, but from what he’d heard, both of the Healers in Florida had exhausted all of their magic trying to save as many lives as possible. He could wait. The policeman said that Heinrich had been on the steps when one of the magical blasts had gotten him. He had helped carry the injured president toward safety when he’d been struck down. The cop told him that Heinrich had died a hero.

“Tell me something I don’t know.” Francis flopped onto a bench to stare off into space. Dead. Holy shit, Heinrich is dead. He had to tell the others.

“Can I get you anything, Mr. Stuyvesant?” the policeman asked as he handed Francis a paper cup filled with water.

“Bottle of whiskey?”

“That’s illegal . . . Hell, I’ll see what I can do.”

They’d stuck him in a detective’s office. There was a name stenciled on the glass of the door. It was backwards and Francis was too tired to try to read it. “How much longer do I need to sit here?”

“There are some other federal men that still want to ask you questions.” The young officer turned to leave the room. He stopped on the way out, seemingly embarrassed. “You’re a hero too, sir. Everybody is saying that you killed that assassin. Chopped his head clean off.”

“I’m not feeling particularly heroic,” Francis muttered.

“Just unexpected is all. I mean with you being a rich guy and all. Getting your hands dirty and being brave like that,” the officer stammered. “And you’re even a . . . a . . .”

“An Active?”

The policeman lowered his eyes. “Yeah. Well, I guess you folks aren’t all bad, huh?” He retreated and closed the door behind him.

They had already questioned him repeatedly, what more did they want? Sure, he could have thrown his weight around and had an army of lawyers descend on the place if necessary, but he was still too numb. What was he going to tell the others? What was he going to tell Faye? She was really fond of Heinrich. And poor Dan. Heinrich was the closest friend Dan had, his partner on a multitude of missions, hell, even the best man at his wedding. Dan was going to take this hard.

Florida water always tasted vaguely swampy. Francis frowned at the cup, but no matter how hard he concentrated it wouldn’t magically transform into proper mind-numbing alcohol. He was only telekinetic. There was only one person that had ever had the kind of Power useful enough to turn water into wine.

A few minutes later the door opened again, only instead of another local officer it was a man in a shirt, tie, and shoulder holster. The tie was undone and there was a big black automatic in the holster. He was of average height but with a torso like a heavy-weight boxer, probably forty, with dark hair thinning on top, and thick, angry eyebrows. His chin was dark with stubble and his manner was cold. The stranger took in the stained remains of Francis’ expensive Italian suit and the cast around his arm. “You Francis Stuyvesant?” He didn’t offer to shake hands.

“And you are?”

He ignored the question and took a cigarette out of his shirt pocket. “Smoke?”

“No. Thank you. What’s going on?”

He pulled the curtain down over the glass door. “I ask the questions. If you try to get all indignant and do some don’t you know who I am rich asshole shtick, I’ll personally shoot you in the head and get it ruled a suicide.”

The stranger had said it so matter-of-factly that it took Francis’ tired mind a moment to realize that he’d just been threatened. Francis was not used to being threatened. “Who are you?”

The man struck a match with his thumb on the first try. “The UBF heir . . . In the flesh.” He lit his cigarette. “Why, lucky me. I’m just a poor old investigator for the OCI.”

“So what’s OCI?”

“Office of the Coordinator of Information.”

“Is that supposed to sound intimidating?”

“Naw,” the man chuckled. “It isn’t the name that’s intimidating. It’s what I’m authorized to do that’s intimidating. We take care of sensitive things. Like regulating magic, or questioning spoiled brats who suddenly became important because their rich grandpa kicked the bucket.”

Francis had cultivated the public persona of being a useless fop, good for little more than attending social functions. It helped when your enemies underestimated you. The UBF board had thought that he would be an easily controlled figurehead because of that public persona, and he’d used that to his advantage to end up with actual control of the company. Despite that, most of the papers still thought of him as more a topic for the society pages than the business section.

Apparently that’s what this mystery G-man believed about him as well, so there was no reason it couldn’t work to his advantage. Might as well run with it. Francis played indignant. “You can’t talk to me like that.”

“I can and I will. You can call me Mr. Crow. So tell me, Francis . . . You mind if I call you Francis?”

“That’s Mr. Stuyvesant to the likes of y—”

The man was quick. The fist slammed into the side of his head so hard that Francis was certain that if he hadn’t flinched his eyes closed before impact they would have popped out of his skull. The world wobbled and then the floor tile came up to meet him.

Nobody slapped around the upper crust. This wasn’t some collar off a crap-town speakeasy. Francis was somebody important. The surprise was worse than the pain. He knew how to take a punch, but he wasn’t as used to taking an insult. Something was very wrong.

“Let’s try that again.” Francis was dragged up by the shirt and placed on the bench.

The blow had staggered him, but he’d felt worse. Francis’ initial reaction was to use his Power. There were dozens of items scattered around the detective’s office that would look better stuck through the G-man’s ribs, but he needed to see what this was about first.

“Will you get a load of that bruise? You sure did get banged around during that attack, didn’t you, boyo? Let’s try this again.” Crow returned to his seat, perched on the edge of the desk. “Normally I only get to beat confessions out of darkies or bohunks. I never thought I’d get to beat a confession out of a rich kid. If only mom could see me now.”

“You can’t do this.”

“Yes. I. Can. State of emergency, OCI is now in charge of any investigations involving Actives. Things have changed. You just don’t know how much yet. So tell me, Francis, why is it that there have been two major acts of magical terrorism in the last year and you were a survivor of both?”

The Peace Ray had been aimed at his estate in Mar Pacifica because an Iron Guard wanted to blot a group of Grimnoir off the face of the Earth. Today? “Just lucky I guess.”

Crow casually backhanded him. Francis’ head snapped around.

“The assassin . . . Did you know him?”


“You sure?”

“I’ve never seen him before.”

“Maybe you’ve seen this?” Crow held out his hand. In it was a familiar gold ring with a black stone. A Grimnoir ring.

This was very bad. “I don’t know.”

All knights received one when they took the oath. It was spellbound with a few minor wards, the insides engraved with designs of Power. They were useful tools and a symbol of the office. Francis didn’t wear his in public. He was too famous, photographed too much, and the Society didn’t need the exposure. He always kept his ring nearby though . . . Was that his? Had they searched his luggage? Did this OCI know about the Society?

“What’s the ring for?”

“It’s just a trinket. I don’t know. Is that mine? Because I’ve got lots of rings.”

Crow held it up to the light. “There’s writing on the inside. Magic? Isn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Francis said evenly.

“Funny. This was on what was left of your dead German friend . . .” Crow set the Grimnoir ring on the desk, then reached into his pants pocket to take something out. He placed an identical ring next to the first. “This one was on the man you decapitated. Or was it the other way around? Did I get them mixed up? Hard to tell, since they’re identical, even down to the funny writing inside.”

The killer had a Grimnoir ring? Had the killer been a member of the Society? Impossible!

Crow got tired of waiting. “What? No reaction?”

“I’m not a jeweler.” Francis sniffed. “I’d like to talk to an attorney now. The lawsuits are going to be very impressive. I don’t know what your agency pays, but I hope you like soup lines. I’ve got butlers with a bigger salary than you.”

“Oh, I’m not in this for the money.” Crow shook his head sadly. “Tsk tsk, young Francis. I’m trying to have an honest conversation here and you’re trying to complicate matters with legal mumbo-jumbo.” He came off the desk in a flash. Francis barely had time to brace himself before Crow slugged him in the mouth. Francis saw stars. Crow stepped away, shaking his hand loose. “God, I love this job.”

That’s enough of that nonsense. The next time Crow got up, Francis was going to teach him a lesson in humility. There was a solid looking paperweight sitting on the desk. Bouncing it off his teeth at fifty miles an hour ought to do the trick. He lifted his head with a groan and looked the G-man square in the eyes. “I don’t know anything.”

“Your bodyguard had a weird thing on his chest, half tattoo, half scar. What was that?”

Since Jake Sullivan had worked out the kinks, Heinrich had volunteered to be bound to a Healing spell a few months back. It had been painful and dangerous, and a fat lot of good it had done him. It helped you recover faster, but too much damage at once and you still died just like anybody else would. “Beats me. I don’t know what my employees do off the clock.”

“I know you don’t have anything like that on you. I asked the doctor after he patched you up. But strangely enough, the man you gave the old guillotine treatment had something similar . . . Bigger and more complicated, but the same general idea. That strike you as odd?”

Francis’ response was a stony silence. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. Somebody had tried to kill the president and was pinning it on the Grimnoir.

The lack of response seemed to anger the man. “Was Zangara a loose end that needed tying? Was your job to kill your triggerman before he could talk? Was that why you were here, Francis, as clean up for your little magical plot?” Crow shouted, spittle flying from his lips. “You thought you could get away with it! You people always think you can get away with. Well, you aren’t better than anyone else. I got you, Francis. You helped try to kill the president.”

“That idea’s got holes an imbecile could drive a blimp through. You must have come up with it yourself. You’re quite the gumshoe.”

Crow came off the desk, hand curling into a fist. Francis concentrated on the heavy paperweight, reached for his Power, and—


Crow knocked him silly. Francis hit the tile and Crow kicked him in the face. Francis got his arms up to protect himself as Crow kicked him repeatedly. “You tried to use magic on me?” Crow stomped him hard, again and again. One shoe caught the cast and ground the freshly broken bones. Francis cried out and curled into a ball. The door flew open with a bang. Several Miami cops spilled into the room. Crow was roughly pulled away and dragged, shouting, from the room. “Magic won’t work on a OCI man, asshole. You better warn your friends.”

The cops were trying to help. Somebody asked him a question. His head was swimming and he couldn’t remember what his answer had been. His Power had failed him. For the first time in his life, when he’d reached for it, the magic hadn’t been there. They got him onto the bench. Somebody stuffed a towel against his nose to catch the blood. There was more commotion in the doorway. Francis recognized the man standing there waving a briefcase as a UBF attorney. How had his Power failed? Somehow he was on his feet, and weaving his way down the hall. The lawyer was talking to the police, rapid fire legalese flying faster than bullets. They were heading for the exit.

Crow had been backed into a corner and blocked off by two cops. His face was red. “Everything’s changed now, Francis. Your kind aren’t untouchable anymore.”

“This isn’t over!” Francis shouted back incoherently.

“We’re watching you.” The cops had to hold Crow back. “Hunting season’s coming! Opening day . . .” He stuck out his finger like a pretend gun. “Bang.”

They got him outside. He hadn’t realized how late it was. The darkness was a bit of a shock. He stumbled down the steps to a waiting car. Flashbulbs popped and photographs were taken. The attorney made sure that the press got plenty of shots. From how hot his face felt, he knew he had to look like a bad meatloaf. The driver came around and opened the door.

“Get us out of here. Snap to it,” Francis ordered. The attorney barely had time to climb in before they were rolling. “Give me your pen.”


Francis reached over and snatched a golden ink pen from the lawyer’s pocket. He held it in the palm of his hand and concentrated. The pen lifted, spun in a lazy circle just like he wanted it to, then fell back in place. His Power had returned. It felt perfectly normal, but when he’d tried it against the government man it was like his magic wasn’t even there.

He tossed the pen back to the surprised attorney. “Crow’s right,” he mumbled.

“Excuse me, sir?”

Francis stared out the window. “Everything has changed . . . Driver, get us to the airfield.”


The Miami PD detained Crow. Federal lawman or not, he had just assaulted a prisoner, and not just some prisoner off of the street, but an extremely important man, and the press knew. Heads were going to roll. The locals put calls in to contact Crow’s superiors, but rapidly discovered that his superiors were very difficult to reach. Crow waited long enough for the cops to not have a direct eye on him and then easily made his escape. There was no cell that could hold him if he didn’t feel like it. He even stopped long enough to pick up everything that had been confiscated: his fabricated identification papers, his .45, the Dymaxion nullifier, and his coat before walking right out the door.

Later, the police would finally get through to somebody at the mysterious Office of the Coordinator of Information, only to be told that they had no officer by the name of Crow. The US Attorney’s office would be stymied as well. Eventually the whole thing would go away like these things tended to do.

His men picked him up on the corner. The automobile barely even slowed as he got into the back. “Status?” he asked in greeting.

“The President is going to live, but he might still lose the use of his legs.”

“That’s unfortunate news.” Crow feigned sympathy rather well. “I don’t know if the country is ready for a cripple to be in charge. What about the prisoner?”

“He’s been secured, sedated, and sent with two Dymaxions to headquarters.”

“Good news. Where is Stuyvesant now?”

“Heading for the air station like you predicted.”

“Excellent.” Crow’s manner was completely different than when he’d been questioning Stuyvesant. Inside, he’d acted hot-headed, erratic, and violent. That had been necessary. He needed Stuyvesant rattled. Out here it was back to business, so Crow was collected and focused. Hot, cold, good, evil, friendly, vicious, it didn’t matter, they were just modes. He picked the one he wanted and wore it like a suit. It was all about whatever it took to get the job done.

The brazen assault on Stuyvesant would raise questions as to why an investigator had been so angry with the rich kid and supposed hero of the hour—even though Stuyvesant’s presence had been an unexpected development, and certainly not one to be wasted—but with the press there, rumors would begin to spread about Stuyvesant’s possible involvement. And all that would occur without the OCI having to say anything official at all.

“I rattled him. I want Stuyvesant’s every move watched. I want to know who he talks to, who he calls, who he meets, where he goes. I want to know how his breakfast tastes and I want to know the temperature of his bathwater. The second he meets someone else on the list, do the same to them.” He thought about it. “And I want two layers on that kid. Make one obvious but put our best men on the second. When Stuyvesant thinks he’s lost the first, that’s when he’ll make contact with his conspirators. Don’t underestimate him. He’s sharper than he looks. Most importantly watch out for that Traveler girl. The second she shows up to check on her boyfriend, I want her brought in.”

“Yes, Mr. Crow,” the OCI agents answered in unison.

Alive.” The girl was the most valuable one in the bunch. If they lost her, the boss would be very upset. “What else have we got?”

The driver spoke. “The situation in New York has improved. That mercenary girl found the Heavy. Our men will snatch him shortly.”

“No. I want a soft touch on that one. Play it easy. Check the reports. He’s worked with the Bureau a bunch. Find somebody he doesn’t hate, if there is such a thing, and use them to make contact. Borrow whoever we need to, but do not let the BI know what this is about.”

There was a serious professional rivalry developing between the new OCI and the entrenched Bureau of Investigation. J. Edgar Hoover thought that Active criminals should be treated like any other type of criminals. He saw OCI’s lumping of all undesirable Actives together as foolish. Hoover grumbled about violating civil liberties, but Crow figured he just didn’t want to lose clout.

“Let the Heavy take the call and see what that’s all about. Then we’ll take him down.” Crow didn’t use the word arrest, because from what he’d heard about the Heavy, it would be a bloodbath. “Nothing flashy. There’s no way we could take that one alive.”

They only knew who a handful of these people were. Stuyvesant was one, but he was just a kid. The Mover was like a tree. You could shake a tree to see what fell out. Sullivan? That son of a bitch had strolled through Second Somme. The Heavy was a rock. You shake a rock and it was liable to just roll over and squish you.

“How do you want us to handle it?”

“Wait until he’s done talking, then put a bullet in him . . . Make that lots of bullets. Don’t let our boys take any lip from the military intel types that are there either. Let the Heavy take the call, then pop him. I’ll fill out the paperwork.”

“Yes, Mr. Crow.”

Crow wasn’t his real name. He’d gone by dozens of names over the years, doing things outside the law for people too squeamish to do them through official channels. He’d worked for everyone from United Fruit to Woodrow Wilson, though this was the first time he had an entire government agency at his disposal. Plus the laws were actually on his side for once, or would be soon at least. Those were being written now.

No, Crow wasn’t his real name, but it was real enough to accomplish his current assignment.

Eliminate the Active group known as the Grimnoir Society.

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