4-2

Exposure: 4-2

“Good morning, Agent Verus.”

Shaun looked at the young man on the security desk, with neatly parted brown hair and a scar over his left eyebrow. His badge said his name was Adam, and a second passed before it processed in Shaun’s mind what was just said. He glanced off to the side, chuckling under his breath subtly.

“Took me a second. Morning.” Shaun said, nodding his head.

“It takes time to get used to it.” Adam smiled, running a keycard through a scanner before hooking it into a lanyard and handing it to Shaun. Shaun held it in his hands and studied it for a second, glancing over the small purple gem in the corner above his portrait and reading the text.

NATIONAL FARSIDE UNIT

AGENT

ID: 19628 / VERUS

SHAUN LARSON

Shaun looked up to Adam and returned the smile. “I can imagine. It’s growing on me. The more I hear it, the more I like it.”

He slide the lanyard’s chord over his neck and nodded again, giving Adam a wave as he walked off. Two other men who were next in line walked to the desk, and Adam repeated the process to verify and allow them secure access.

Shaun didn’t waste any time. His first visit was to a vending machine to grab a bottle of cold water. Once he had something to drink, he begun his journey for morning handover.

As Shaun turned the corner to go to the final corridor, he found Visionary already waiting for him in the middle of the walkway. Her hands held behind her back and her mask over her face, Shaun could still tell she was smiling through it.

“Oh. Hey Visionary.” Shaun stopped walking, raising his eyebrows.

“Good morning, Verus.” Visionary said, bowing her head politely.

Shaun smiled, putting a hand on his hip. “Did you come out here just to call me Verus? Because the guy at the desk, what’s his name, beat you to it.”

“Not entirely. There’s another reason.” Visionary said. “Morning handover will be delayed for a few minutes. There’s something you’ll need to do first.”

“Oh, right. What’s that?”

Visionary’s smile widened. “Suit up.”

Shaun frowned for a second before his eyes widened. “It’s here?”

She nodded. “It’s in the equipment room, ready for you to wear.”

“That came quickly. I thought it was gonna be another day at least.”

“Sooner than we all thought. Go and get changed and we can have morning handover. See you there, Verus.”

Visionary didn’t lose that smile, even as she turned away and walked down the corridor. Shaun waited until she opened the door and went inside before he let out a sigh, brushing some hair out of his face.

“Let’s go face the music, then.” He spoke out loud, before going back from whence he came. Down the corridor, taking himself to the equipment room.

Shaun stared at the door, wondering how he felt about this. It definitely wasn’t trepidation or fear he felt. He wasn’t even worried if it didn’t fit properly or made him look ridiculous, as he’d come to peace with the decisions being made about that. The closest thing that he could call it was a change he was uncertain about, or a change that he found tough to accept. Not for any particular reason, other than change was just not in his nature. It could be the feelings of dislike and animosity for being considered a ‘superhero’ of all things, having attained his new armour. As far as he felt though, he was able to push those thoughts aside like any other nagging voice in his head.

He disregarded those feelings and pushed open the door, stepping inside.

The costume was hanging directly in front of him, hung up in several sections on steel coat hangers, with his boots on the bench beneath the legs, beside some black clothes that’d already been folded. A paper note was left on top of them, and he stepped forward to pluck it up and read the contents.

To Verus:

I knew I’d win you over in the end! This suit is absolutely darling and I’m sure you’ll love it. No need to thank me though. Just have a few selfies with me in your inauguration ceremony and we’ll call it even.

It shouldn’t ride up too much, but wear some clothes underneath just in case. I ‘d recommend some black silk; a shirt and some trousers. Coincidentally, I’ve left some here for you. Hope the measurements are right! Now go and show it off to the rest of the world.

Kisses,

The Designer.

P.S. Instructions on the back.

The note left a smile on his face and turned it over, briefly spying the instructions that detailed what to put on in what order. He looked at the outfit and let out a sharp whistle, surprised at how impressed he was with it, leaving the paper on top of the black clothes. He took one of the boots in his hand and lifted it up without issue, thought looked at it curiously.

“They weren’t kidding when they said this’d be heavy.”

To prove his point to himself, he released it. It hit the ground with a lifeless thud, barely even moving once the sole had hit the floor. The changing room sounded like somebody had dropped a car tire instead of a boot, and Shaun picked it up again.

He stripped down his normal clothes first and moved the note, and put on the black clothes that had been left for him. They were snug, form fitting without being too tight nor too lose, and he was curious how the Designer was this accurate with the fitting process. Donning the rest of the armour took time, not only because it was more intricate than putting on a shirt and some jeans, but because Shaun wanted to make sure it was done absolutely right, and to memorise the order without having to keep the instructions with him every morning.

Once he was fully garbed, he tested the flexibility. He hadn’t much appreciation for the art of armour making or even clothes, but he could notice all the work that’d gone into his suit. Stretching his legs and bending his knees made him aware of how his knee-length boots cut off just before the knees, so they didn’t dig into the tendons on the back of his thigh. Bracers on his arm didn’t interfere with his wrists rolling, and the design was confined to the forearms, so they wouldn’t get in the way of his hands or elbows. Even the triangular design that peaked near the back of his hand bent with his wrist, like segments of dragon scales adapted to his movement. The under-armour of his chest and the jacket felt like any other, but was made with mobility in mind. Despite the material, Shaun hadn’t noticed any deficit with the range his arms could move as he rolled shoulders about and stretched them.

He pulled up the covering and tugged up the hood, and saw the rim in his peripheral vision, but otherwise didn’t notice it beyond a slight dampening of the noise around him that covering his ears would naturally do. He even stretched his jaw to be thorough, and could honestly not fault anything he felt so far.

Shaun walked over to the full body mirror near some of the lockers and studied his form, the aesthetics of the design. His eyes traced the lapels of his jacket that slid behind his neck. The raised triangle of fabric that almost looked like a cloak on his chest and the shield placed over where it met. The brick-like pattern in a single section down the middle of his abdomen. All these little features that he remembered in detail, noticing them in the order that the Designer had presented to him and others before.

He never thought he’d feel a little excited, almost proud when he saw himself. He even stood more upright, as if to emphasise his form, nodding at himself as he turned around. The one thing he noticed that he didn’t see before was a belt, with several secure pouches for essential components of his job. He could assume what went where, like handcuffs and even rifles, but the space was minimal; designed knowing that he didn’t need weapons, only the pure essentials.

Shaun made sure to put his clothes away in his locker, and folded the note to tuck it in his jean pocket, before he departed.

He left the changing room, expecting Visionary. Spectre stood there as well, helmet underneath her arm and her hip cocked out to the side. She let out a sharp wolf whistle between grins, and Shaun’s features were all but covered, except for the slight frown now on his face.

“When did you get here?” He asked, folding his arms.

“’bout five minutes ago. What were you doing in there, making your suit?”

Cocking an eyebrow, Verus put a hand on his hip, pointing at her. “That’s hilarious. They should call you the Comedian instead of Spectre.”

“Maybe they should.” She said, blurring the line between mock jest and serious. “I’m pretty goddamn funny.”

“A riot.” Shaun replied with. “What do you think?”

He spread his arms out and turned slightly on the spot, and allowed himself to be studied by the pair for seconds.

“You look great.” Visionary smiled through her mask.

Spectre nodded as well. “Lookin’ good.” She glanced down to her own suit. “Feels weird being the whiter one for a change.”

Verus took a second to register what she said and looked at his suit, then to Spectre’s unmasked face.

“Don’t think too hard on it, shield boy.” She began to walk past him and patted him on the shoulder with her free hand. “Now you’re dolled up, we’ve got handover to get to.”

Visionary stepped to be beside Verus as they watched Spectre walk ahead of them leading them to the room where they had handover. They both began to walk, only a dozen or so feet from her. Verus leaned in towards Visionary, his voice already hushed by his mask and further hushed by his tone.

“Who made her the leader?”

Visionary didn’t look at him, but Verus knew he had her attention.

“I think she did.” She turned to him after she spoke, with a quaint smile behind her mask. Verus shrugged, tugging down his own mask and hood to reveal his face.

“It would have been nice if Tether was here to see me. I’m sure he’d love it.”

“We’ll send him a picture later.”

“Yeah, sure.” Verus said, trailing off into his own thoughts for a moment.

They had all assembled in the handover room, and Visionary took out two sheets of paper. She glanced at Verus, who elected not to say anything this time; he knew if she looked at him, she was making him know that she was looking at him. She spoke though as if that small mental exchange never happened.

“Let’s commence the handover.” Visionary said, with a curt nod, as she read off the first piece of paper. “Today’s planner is a little different. I’ve been preparing you for today, and we’ll be getting ready to go on patrol as soon as we’re done here. We’re going to be the Recon team for an operation to remove an Eldritch that’s currently on the border of Cheshire and Greater Manchester.”

Visionary puts the second piece of paper on the table. They were greeted with a picture, a high definition picture of the Eldritch in question.

It appeared quadrupedal, long enough to just about dwarf a sperm whale. Its skin, a pale brown with hues of blue, appeared to ooze down its body and limbs and gave it an impression that its flesh was closer to water than a solid consistency. A flat head-like appendage was surrounded by a flap of thick skin, a mane that formed behind to make a crest of spines extending out as long as one of its limbs. It had no hands nor feet on the end of its appendages, just fleshy stumps that moulded around the floor. Spikes covered along the body, numerous enough to add some texture, and enough of these clustered around the beast’s mouth that if you were far away enough, it could be mistaken for having a mouth.

Verus and Spectre looked over it, and the latter pointed at the picture as she spoke.

“It doesn’t have eyes. That’s fucked.”

“Yeah, little bit weird, but that’s Eldritch for you.” Verus said, with a nod.

“It’s trending over social media right now. The Eldritch doesn’t appear hostile, so people have taken a lot of pictures of themselves with it. We’ve given it a codename.” Visionary paused for a second. “Pudding.”

“Pudding.” Verus reiterated, deadpan.

“Pudding.” Visionary said with a nod. It was easier for her mask to cover up her smile.

Spectre and Verus were both amused, but Spectre was more open about showing it with a giggle under her breath. “Who gets to name these things? Like, pudding, for real?”

“It came up in a meeting that I was a part of, that we need to call it a name. We wanted something that wasn’t threatening, so people wouldn’t consider it dangerous.”

“So you were one of the people that named this thing ‘pudding’?” Verus asked.

Visionary glanced to the side, smile growing wider still. “I may have suggested the name.”

You named it pudding.” Verus stated this time, pointing to her.

“It was an official decision, but I may have been the one to suggest it.” She nodded, and carried on before the other two could continue. “Regardless of the name, I’m going to briefly discuss the operation we’re going to undertake to remove the Eldritch and escort it to a more secure facility. The area has been sealed off from the public, so we’re going to be leading the Reconnaissance Team that will go in first to determine if the Eldritch is hostile. Once we’ve ascertained if it’s safe to approach or not, we’ll call in the Containment Team. If it’s safe, we’ll use our Containment Team to move the Eldritch into a transportation lorry and take it to a secure facility.”

“And if it’s not?” Spectre spoke up.

“We hope we can contain it before it causes any damage. We’re in luck that it’s hasn’t moved from the location where we found it. It’s in a field in Wilmslow, called Bruntwood Park. This may require us to fight the Eldritch, in which case we have Verus and several other agents on standby, near the location. It shouldn’t come to that, but we’re prepared in case it does. This is why we’re doing whatever we can to keep it calm and not do anything that may agitate it from its docile state.”

There was nods all around.

“I’d also like to make a small point that this will be the first public appearance that the both of you make. I don’t need to tell you this, because I know you two will do fine, but remember that you represent the NFU.” She nods. “If any journalists or reporters ask you about this, just inform them that we’ll be discussing this operation in an official press conference and that they may ask their questions there, but until then we won’t be making any comments.”

“What about people?” Spectre asked. “You know this is going on Youtube and Facebook. Do we tell them ‘no comment’ too?”

Visionary thought for a second. “If they ask about you, try to be discreet but friendly. You can talk about yourselves, but not the operation.”

With a shrug, Spectre nodded and agreed.

“All other details will be discussed in transit and when we equip ourselves. We don’t know how long this operation will take, so we’ll discuss what we do with the rest of the day once we reconvene. We’ll have lunch before then, so there’s no rush. This is your first operation after all, and there’s a potentially greater risk involved. I want you two to relax once this is done.”

Verus glanced at Spectre and they shared a look before they both nodded.

“If there’s no further questions regarding the operation?” Visionary posed, but neither Verus nor Spectre had anything further to add, so shook their heads. “In that case, best of luck today, agents.”

With a smile, Visionary took the picture of the Eldritch with her and folded the paper into her pocket. One by one they left the handover room, and made their way to the equipment room to begin equipping themselves.

Whether they were truly ready, Visionary wasn’t sure but she hadn’t let either of them become aware of any doubts. Instead, she put her faith in their hands unwittingly, knowing what sort of task she has entrusted with them. To her, it felt more like she’s thrust it upon them, and she silently prayed that they could handle the undertaking.

“We’re here.”

The black BMW pulled down a road in the middle of Bruntwood part and came to a stop, just where a pathway on their left began to open into the main body of the field. To their right, a lake was obscured by a barrier of dense trees and a stone fence, and before them on their left was an old lamp-post of rusted copper and several wood blocks that reached just to the top of the car’s tires. The midday sun was in the pale, bright sky, and offered little warmth for the cold winter weather that the sun was betraying.

Verus had his mask and hood down, as well as his window on the back left seat of the vehicle, arm resting in the open gap to relax. Spectre’s helmet was on her lap, and Visionary never removed her mask. The driver, a middle aged gentleman with blonde, parted hair, nodded to the agents before stopping just before where the field is blocked by a tunnel of trees. Behind them, a single NFU van followed them. Beyond that, several men of a Containment team were helping to guide a lorry reverse down this road, as this only came from an arterial road; it lead to a skate park further inside, and had one road to get in and out of.

As the driver pulled up on the handbreak, Verus raised his head.

“We’ve got pudding.”

Visionary was already looking, but Spectre wasn’t. She turned and looked out the window, staring at the grotesque monument of the Eldritch lazing in the park. Even from here, they could make out the details from where they sat, as well as several men and women of a Containment Team trying to escort members of the general public away, as safely as possible.

“I thought they yellow taped this area off.” Verus asked, pulling up his mask and adjusting his hood to be comfortable.

“It is.” Spectre said, putting on her helmet. “You think some people are gonna let that stop them getting their next profile picture with an Eldritch behind them?”

“Anything for a good selfie, I guess.” Verus said, turning to Visionary once he spoke. “We good to go?”

Visionary nodded, turning on her comms for a moment. “C-Teams, this is R-Team One, Agent Visionary here. Radio Check, over.”

After a few seconds, the members of the Recon Team heard the returned broadcasts.

R-Team One, this is C-Team One. I read you five by five. Over.”

R-Team One, this is C-Team Two. Roger, Agent Visionary. Over.”

R-Team One, C-Team Three. Loud and Clear. Over.”

Once confirmed, Visionary nodded. Verus and Spectre nodded back, and left the vehicle. It drove further up the road, and once they all stood on the grass, the NFU van came beside them. The side door was pushed open and several NFU agents carrying rifles started to clamber out of the vehicle. There was little haste in their decision to leave and once outside, they began to talk amongst themselves.

The man, whose voice was familiar from the broadcast he just said, spoke to Visionary.

“The other teams will wait for our signal if things turn south. We’ll wait here meanwhile.”

With one final nod, Visionary turned and walked in the direction of the Eldritch. Verus and Spectre followed. The NFU agents that were escorting the public away were clearer now, and they were no older than Verus was. They weren’t behind held, nor bound in handcuffs or any other ill treatment. They eventually crossed paths and they stopped, with the Fargraced agents to their side and the Containment Team blocking their way back to the Eldritch.

“Are you guys Agents?” One girl asked, with shoulder length ginger hair and a red plaid shirt on.

Verus turned to Visionary for confirmation, and she nodded. She continued walking and Spectre followed, leaving Verus to talk. He squinted slightly as he watched her walk away but turned to them, and looked to each of them in turn.

The one with ginger hair to her shoulder was in between a boy in a t-shirt with a city skyline on it, and grey skinny jeans, and his hair was short on the sides and long on top. The other was a girl with dyed black hair, box frame glasses, a nose ring and a black band shirt with “Glass Movie Show” written on the front, and denim shorts with leggings underneath.

Verus was certain that he’d never heard of this band before.

“Yeah. I’m Verus. That was Visionary and Spectre.” Verus turned to the people in question, who were approaching the Eldritch and talking amongst themselves. “You should go. We’re about to move this thing.”

“Can we have a picture with you?” The girl in the band shirt asked. Verus turned his head as if to look at Visionary but she wasn’t at his side, so he thought about it for a second.

“Maybe. If you’re still around when we’re done.”

“Awesome.” She replied. “That’d be cool.”

Verus watched the way she looked at him, and he could recognise how she saw him despite not willing to admit it; she looked at him with some admiration. It made him think about what he was going to say, amongst other things.

“For now, you should get out of here. Just to be safe. Like, it’s probably not gonna do anything, but just in case, y’know?”

The three looked at Verus and nodded slowly, though as scant seconds passed he realised they weren’t moving, and just looking at him. He shot a glance to the side and awkwardly waved in the direction of the footpath.

“C’mon, go.”

After reiterating, the three nodded hastily, and the NFU containment team continued to escort them away. Verus turned his attention back to the Eldritch and broke into a jog, hustling over to reconvene.

Verus stood beside Visionary, with Spectre on the other side. They stared at the Eldritch, which was certainly moving; the flesh and skin seemed to hold a shape, but was malleable and sinking with the force of gravity. What could be said was its head was turning around, bristling the spines that made its mouth. For moments, they studied the beast, dwarfed by its size and growing less threatened with each second.

“…so what’s it actually doing?” Verus asked, turning to Visionary. “Is the pudding doing anything?”

“Nothing, by the looks of it. It’s just lying here.” Visionary squinted, eyes darting back and forth with unnaturally quick tugs that always returned to the centre of her vision.

They were a foot away from the Eldritch, and Spectre with her folded arms raised her head slightly. “Not even gonna put up a fight. Am I the only one a bit disappointed by that?”

Verus took a step forward. “Probably a good thing if it isn’t.”

Visionary turned her head as Verus reached his hand out, and she managed to make him pause before his fingers and the Eldritch connected. “Verus, be careful. You may agitate-”

As she spoke, Verus pushed his hand to the surface of its skin. There was a brief moment of pause from everyone, until nobody responded. Not even the Eldritch responded, and merely carried on with idle movements.

The flesh beneath his palm felt just organic enough to be considered real. Like a thick, leathery balloon full of custard or ooze, his hand sunk an inch at least into its flesh before he pulled it out, like a child retreats their hand from an open flame.

“That’s so gross. Holy crap, that feels so weird.”

“Well, it ain’t doing much.” Spectre said, bringing her arms down to her side. “Total let down. What now?”

Visionary raised her finger to her ear. “C-Teams one, two and three. This is R-Team. Eldritch is very docile, unresponsive to any external stimuli. Begin removal procedure. Over.”

The three teams confirmed and after a minute, men and women of the containment teams began to approach. Each team had eight members total that had their weapons holstered. One of the teams carried a large, dark grey tarp that required four of them to carry the rolled up mass of material. The other teams began to haul some large steel cables with them, though none of them seemed long enough to reach the lorry that the third team was preparing; lowering down a ramp and setting up cables to secure the Eldritch once it had been relocated.

One of the members of the containment squad, nodded once preparations were made. The roll of tarp was beside the Eldritch, with cables hooked securely into the sides. She was female, judging by her voice as she spoke.

“Team one, lift the Eldritch. Team two will begin to roll the tarp underneath.”

Containment Team one nodded compliantly and began to make their way into position, and went to reach for the Eldritch. As their hands went to grasp into the flesh, they found themselves engulfed up to the wrists before many of them forcefully yanked themselves out. The remaining two that were brave enough to hold steady concentrated for a second, before removing their own hands.

“We’re unable to… grab the Eldritch, ma’am.” He turned to her, then back to the Eldritch. “We just sink into it.”

One of the men nearby was trying once more, and failed to hold the Eldritch without his hands sinking into it. The Eldritch’s flesh made a low rumbling noise from whenever something was pressed against it; a slow, deep sloshing noise as it undulated after they applied force to it.

Verus, Visionary and Spectre were watching and Verus began to rub the side of his eye with his finger. “This isn’t going good. It’s not even fighting us and we’re losing to it.”

After several attempts, the female Containment team leader started to clap her hands loudly, in order to get everyone’s attention. Everyone stopped, and turned to face her.

“This isn’t going to work. Moving onto the second plan. Prepare to slide the tarp underneath the Eldritch by force.”

The containment teams began to remobilise and approached the Eldritch differently. Whilst two people began to roll the tarp out flat so it would lie beside the Eldritch, it became clear that the tarp had several holes with metal hoops put inside them, for the others to snap the hooks on the end of the metal cables with. One hole in each corner, two holes on each side. They only hooked the holes closest to it, and the ones on the two inner cables hooked the other end into the same hole.

They unfolded these loops of cables and began to move to the front and back of the Eldritch, and began to feed the circle of cable underneath, tugging and pulling so that it eventually encircled it. As they tugged and pushed, the flexible nature of the Eldritch allowed them to sink it underneath, and once it was in position, they called over. Two other members of the containment team unhooked it, then took the hook and lobbed it over, landing on the field in a straight line underneath the Eldritch. As the corner cables were hooked and more simply ran underneath with less resistance, everyone reconvened.

“You can’t just call it the ‘Eldritch’ any more.” Verus said, putting a hand on his hip. “It’s called Pudding. You need to be respectful that it has a name.”

Spectre let out a snerk under her breath and even Visionary was smiling, though she nudged Verus in the side and said his name, and he shook his head.

“Okay, okay. Just saying, y’know.”

It was hard to tell if the containment team leader found it amusing, with her helmet obscuring her face from view, but the tone of her voice sounded slightly more animate when she spoke.

“Everyone, around. Six on each cable.”

The leader joined the other members of the containment teams as they moved around and begun to take a cable each, divided with six people on three cables and five on another, until she joined with them. The agents walked around as well, watching with curious intent, staying out of their way for the time being. She made certain that everyone had a firm grip before counting down to three, and on three they all began to heave.

As their combined strength pulled on the cables, it immediately looked as if they weren’t achieving anything. A few seconds passed and the cable began to pull from underneath the Eldritch; a gruellingly slow struggle that tensed and trembled the cable under their struggle. A total of five seconds of this passed before Verus spoke, cutting through the tension in the air.

“Do you guys just want me to do this?” They turned their attention to him, and slackened on their pulling for the time being. “I’m just standing here anyway. Might as well be useful.”

The leader looked to Visionary, then gave a sharp nod. The rest of the containment squad understood and released the cables to the ground, stepping back. Verus rolled his shoulders as he walked from the first cable, picking it up and holding it underneath his arm, to the second, where he held it with the first. He put the other two cables underneath his other arm and walked backwards until they were fully tensed, and continued to walk. What was a struggle for them to cope with the weight of the Eldritch didn’t seem to phase Verus, who simply walked without resistance nor struggle, until the tarp was fully underneath the Eldritch.

Verus let go of the cables and turned to the containment squads, giving them a sharp nod. “I’ll pull it over to the truck as well. Can you hook it up for me?”

The leader nodded. “Containment Teams, prepare the Eldritch for Verus to move it.”

Visionary watched with a smile on her face, with Spectre standing next to her. By now, the younger agent was busying herself by looking elsewhere, enjoying the sights of the park on a sunny, yet cold morning. Whatever Visionary was thinking was interrupted by a rumble coming from Visionary’s belt. A second to register what it was, and she took her phone off her belt to spy the name or number of the individual calling her.

A call from Grandmaster made her raise an eyebrow and she took a step away from the Eldritch, as the containment teams finished hooking the cables for Verus to begin dragging it back, and turned her back. A low shudder became the background noise for the phone call, as Verus began to escort the Eldritch to the lorry.

“Hello?”

Visionary, Grandmaster here. I’d normally have a chit-chat, but I need you back in HQ once you’re done with the Pudding, ASAP.”

Visionary’s face contorted with concern, taking another step away and lowering her voice. “Is it urgent?”

Urgent in a sense that once you get back, you need to see this. How soon can you head off?”

She glanced over her shoulder. Verus has manoeuvred the Eldritch around, and was beginning to slide it up the ramp of the van.

“A few minutes. Pudding is secure. I’ll meet you in your office?”

Yeah. My office, right.”

The phone died with a click, an uncharacteristic cut-off from grandmaster that had her concerned.

She turned her attention to Spectre, who was at a side angle. Once Visionary made it clear she was paying attention to her, she turned to face her properly.

“We’re needed back at headquarters. Our work here is done.”

Spectre nodded. “I’ll grab Superboy.”

Visionary began to walk back to the black BMW as Spectre went over to the truck, and Visionary glanced once at her phone before clipping it back to her belt. One set of worries faded, another had arisen, and all of it was still hidden behind her mask. She could only begin to imagine as Verus and Spectre finally joined her in the vehicle, occupying the back seats. She turned to the driver with a curt nod.

“To Headquarters, please.”