Underdogs 5

Last episode, an organization including a multiplier and a portal-maker broke two bank robbers out of custody under Jade Tiger’s nose. The portal-maker disappeared her pet tiger and her teammate, Mushroom Man. Jonathan is Jade’s support staff.

“Okay, let’s try the next fragment.”

For the past several days, Jade has been implanting copied fragments of the duplicator’s mind into Jonathan’s. It’s clumsy work, since she doesn’t understand the fragments she’s dealing with. She reads cat minds, not human ones, so the process is analogous to an English speaker copying a page full of Mandarin Chinese. Her hope is that Jonathan’s brain will assimilate the information and he’ll be able to give them some clues.

So far, nothing has worked. Even after a full night’s sleep, the fragments wouldn’t take.

An orange striped tabby cat jumps up onto Jonathan’s shoulder, claws retracted. Jade closes her eyes and focuses.

“Aaahh. Ah! There it goes.”

“What’s up?” asks Katherine.

“Headache. Do we have any milk?”

“No, sorry. Maybe this is a good sign? It’s the first time you’ve felt anything.”

“Maybe a sign that Jade actually messed something up in here this time. And I’ve felt it before. This is just the first time it’s—ergh—worth mentioning. Reiterate for me the reasons we can’t go to a human telepath and get him to read the fragments, please? Losing a bit of resolve here.”

“We go to an approved telepath and BoSHA’s going to find out that Hobbes makes Jade a universal telepath. We go to an unapproved telepath and, if BoSHA finds out, they’ll censure us, wonder why we couldn’t go to a legitimate telepath, and probably figure out the Hobbes makes Jade a universal telepath. That would be bad because—”

“Shut it. Into a hard part,” says Jade.

“Thanks anyway,” says Jonathan, then winces.

“I said, shut it!” Jade twitches. “Redo,” she murmurs.

They’re all silent for several more minutes, until Jade relaxes slightly and opens her eyes.

“Well, I don’t feel any different,” says Jonathan.

“Go home. Go to bed. Sleep. It won’t take, but we might as well try. This is all so futile!” She practically spits the last words.

“Listen, we’re going to—”

“Reassurances you can’t back up don’t help.”

“Whatever. See you later.”

 

“Are you sure that it’s okay for her to leave defunct mind fragments rattling around in there?” Katherine and Jonathan are walking back to campus from Jade’s headquarters.

“Yeah,” replies Jonathan. “They don’t really do anything, and eventually they ‘decohere’ or something.” He sighs. “You know, Jade’s right. Even if we do get some information from this whole process, how likely is it that it’s going to be helpful information? And even if we find him, how does that help us find Mushroom Man and Hobbes?”

“I’ve said it before: we probably aren’t going to have to find them. They’re smart. They can find their way back.”

“It just feels wrong leaving them out there all alone. You know what? I bumped into Rhapsody Abbot the other day, and he said we could contact him if we need any help. I think I’ll call him.”

 

“Hi, Abbot home. What’s up?” The voice on the other end of the phone is female.

“Uh, Hi. I’m Jonathan, an acquaintance of Rhapsody’s. Can I speak with him?”

“Nope. Hasn’t been here in a few days. Try his dorm room.”

“I suppose? Thanks anyway.”

“Hold up a sec.” It’s slightly muffled, but he can still hear her yelling across her house: “Mark! Someone’s asking about Rhapsody!” Speaking into the phone again, she says “My brother wants to talk to you. My other brother does. Mark wants to. He the smart one?”

“I know which is which. I’ll talk to him.”

“Hi, Johnny. Have you seen Rhapsody recently? He’s dropped off the face of the Earth. Also, if you need it, I might be able to provide help looking for Hobbes and Mushroom Man.”

“Well, I saw Rhapsody a few days ago. We passed in the street and started to talk when he heard something and went off to chase someone down.”

“That has to be Legion.” Mark sighs. “I knew it.”

“Legion… is that a multiplier?”

“Yes. I saw your incident report, and yes, Legion is the multiplier from the breakout that Jade tried to stop a few days ago, so our goals are aligned. He’s also a member of a dangerous ring of kidnappers and terrorists, and I feel sure that Rhapsody has been kidnapped by them for getting too close to the truth.”

Jonathan blinks. “That’s… wow. That’s horrible. We’re at your disposal if you need any help.”

“In fact, I do. I would much appreciate it if you could arrange a meeting between Jade and me tomorrow afternoon at four o’clock.”


At BoSHA headquarters in Washington D.C., an agent walks into his supervisor’s office.

“There was a break in last night at a BoSHA station in Oklahoma. Apparently an invincible tiger literally ripped its way into the facility, scoured the building for something, and left without taking anything.”

“Bizarre. We’re sure this isn’t another instance of the staff just covering up for an office party that went off the rails?”

“Uhhh… yes. We’re certain. The damage is extensive and consistent with their story, and we have security footage.”

“Just checking.”

“Understood. Anyway, we let Technomancer check out the computers and he managed to get some info. It took a bit to understand this, but the computers may have been manipulated telepathically.”

“That’s possible?

“Apparently. The tiger hacked our systems and got into the secure database.”

The supervisor swears. “What did he find?”

“Well, at first he just scanned our registry for criminals with the ability to make wormholes but… but then he found out about the Tunguska program. And about the Warmongers.”

The supervisor puts his hand on his face. “That’s not good. What has this tiger done with the information?”

“Nothing, yet. We’re trying to find out who this tiger could be, and what it might be up too, but frankly, we’re clueless. But whatever it is, I agree: it cannot be good for us.”

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