Chapter 36:


Half-Paid Heroes

Eventually, the small group of Company members approached the penthouse, panting and dishevelled. They had mowed through wave after wave of employees without rest for at least a day, and even powers couldn't possibly last that long without recuperation...

However, what met their eyes in the warm light of the setting sun was not Despair, but a relocated Ross and...

"Martin!" Chris cried, detransforming as she banged on the reinforced panels of glass that separated her from her brother and her former coworker. "Please! Come home!"

"I'm afraid I can't, not while I'm here at least," her brother admitted after what appeared to be a measured pause, his voice muted through the glass. "I've seen too much."

"By that, does he mean skill grafting?" Wisdom muttered, noting his necklace seemed damaged by a sharp tool. Likewise, Ross had a dangling emerald earring hanging from his right earlobe (one which no one aside from Martin had set eyes upon before) that had suffered some damage from the same weapon, although it was quite hard to see.

Just then, the intruding group grew silent as the sound of footsteps came through the hallway leading to the room with the reinforced glass. Then, a whooshing noise signalled the entire hallway becoming brighter than the sun. It was basically a smoke bomb, but with light.
The next thing Chris knew, the group she'd arrived with was now in the room with the reinforced glass. Despair sat in the hallway (her appearance making her look like a petulant princess) at what appeared to be a plastic table and chair from a cafeteria, disinterestedly poking at a fold-up box of Chinese takeaway with a spork as a brunette and Jamie observed.

"Odagaki's away on business right now. How did you let the intruders get through, Jeremiah?" As expected of a personality with Ella's business-like demeanour, Despair's interrogation style was poker-faced and efficient. 

The one called 'Jeremiah' - the brunette - gave a laugh that sounded like he was choking and gestured towards Jamie with a sweep of one arm.

Before Chris could hear anything else though, Ross brought attention to himself with incessant gawking. Suddenly remembering what had happened when they'd last met, she cut it off with some blunt truths from under her breath: "My appearance when you first met me was a one-off thing."

Ross silently conceded defeat by turning to observe what was happening in front of them...