Okay, that was it. She wasn’t going to try to pretend to be anything but herself.
“Richard.” She waited until he looked at her. “Look, I’m sorry that your sister is dead, but all of this vague bullshit needs to stop. Just tell me what you’re trying to do, and maybe I can help.”
Richard shook his head. “No, you abandoned me when I needed you, and I won’t risk it again.”
She had a feeling Richard was a lost cause, but she couldn’t leave it there. “You were the one who let me down, Richard. I went to you for help, and what did you do? You tried to force me to stay by going after Adella. If you can’t see how wrong that was, especially after what happened after my skills placement, then I feel sorry for you.”
Richard raised an eyebrow. “Sorry for me? You’re the one I feel sorry for.”
Before she could reply, he picked her up and tossed her overboard.
Her first thought was that she was going to die without ever seeing her sister, Marco, or her team ever again. But as the shock of hitting the water faded, Cam started swimming upwards and made it to the surface.
She used the last of her strength to reach the side of the small, inflatable boat sitting next to Richard’s boat, and she crawled in. As she lay panting on the floor of the boat, Richard d
escended from the foot of the stairs and sat in front of the motor.
She glared at him. “Thanks for trying to kill me, asshole.”
“I knew you’d make it. Now, shut up. Your mouth will likely piss off the people on that boat, you really don’t want to do that. The Collector’s people make the Fed League recruits look like spoiled children.”
She wondered who this “Collector” was, but considering a good third of the Fed League recruits from back in the day had been a little crazy, Richard’s words worried her a little.
Richard started the motor and headed for the large boat in the distance.
Gio sat with Evans in a well-organized office, waiting for Liang to show up for their meeting.
There was nothing in the room that revealed anything about Liang or what he did here—just a few art pictures on the walls, office supplies on a mostly bare desk, and a locked filing cabinet. Liang was either extremely careful, or extremely tidy.
Evans started drumming his fingers on the arm of his chair, and Gio took a good look at the researcher. After several hours of sleep, he looked a little less like a corpse and was functioning somewhat normally again. He’d even trimmed his close-cut beard and put on a set of fresh clothes. At least for now, his self-pity act seemed to have disappeared.
The door opened and Liang walked inside. “Evening, gentlemen. Did you find your room to your liking?”
Gio didn’t want to waste time on small talk, but it was necessary, as he’d learned from watching his father over the years. He forced down his impatience and said, “Yes, everything was fine. The facility is quite modern.”
Liang nodded. “Some overseers resist change, but technology has its uses.” He sat down in the chair behind the desk. “The people in Hong Kong rarely tell us anything that doesn’t deal with the mentally disabled. So, tell me more about these Feiru with strange abilities, and why you chose this facility as a possible site for these special cases.”
They’d decided earlier that Evans would be better at explaining this—albeit with a few exclusions—so Gio nodded for the scientist to go ahead.
Evans said, “While all first-born children of Feiru mothers gain their abilities through chemicals absorbed while in their mothers’ wombs—chemicals all Feiru females are born with, but don’t regenerate after the first pregnancy—it is my belief that other abilities exist among the Feiru as a result of genetics and a different type of chemical change.”
“Well, all I have at the moment is a hypothesis, but my hypothesis is that latent abilities appear in groups, often around the same time. An hour ago, I was able to confirm three other cases, which all manifested in the last few weeks.”
Liang folded his hands over his slightly round stomach. “Were all of these people working in other AMT facilities?”
Evans shook his head. “So far, only one AMT employee has shown signs of a latent ability.”
“Okay, so if the AMT or exposure to first-borns doesn’t trigger a change, then what does?”
“I still need to conduct a series of tests to prove it, but I think the change is triggered by something invisible, possibly a chemical reaction in the air.”
Gio had first heard this hypothesis about thirty minutes ago. And while it made sense to him—after all, first-borns controlled elemental energy particles in the air to do their “magic”—it would take a little bit of faith to accept such a radical idea.
Liang looked at Evans, then to Gio, and back again. “So you would gather these Feiru with strange abilities, place them in my empty wing, and conduct tests on the sources of their power?” Gio and Evans both nodded. “That’s all fine and well, but how will you contain these abilities? I have no idea what these ‘latent abilities’ entail, and I’m not about to have my compound explode or whatever else they can do to destroy it.”
Gio spoke up. “Before bringing them in large numbers, I’d like to have one or two with milder abilities brought here and tested by Dr. Evans. That way he can find a way to contain their abilities, much like how the elemental dampers stop elemental magic.” Gio paused, but since Liang looked unconvinced, he added, “Of course, you would approve or deny any new entrants into your compound before they would be brought here.”