General changes: Almost every chapter has seen very minor changes, such as alterations of dialogue to make it seem more natural. Replaced a lot of “lie detector” references with “Truthsayer” since it was about midway through this book where I stole the shit out of the term.
Also caught, like, a hundred typos none of you told me about. Wow. Me is no good grammerer.
Specific additions to chapters in bold below, most made with the intent of showcasing the nature of Pairbonds more clearly. Some just to add a bit to scenes I found lacking the first time. Most of the heavy additions come in the Granny chapters, as would be expected.
With this, I’ve given myself the full refresher on In Triplicate, and am prepared to work on the sequel. Expect the first chapter of the new book to go up Monday.
My mother came to the rescue, stepping past me. “I’m so glad you could make it.” She gave Starfall a polite hug, and once again I found myself jealous of my mother, if for a rather different reason. “This is my daughter.”
Starfall smiled at me. “Chloe, right? Your mother’s told me so much about you that I feel like I know you already.”
I suspect Mom left out a few critical details. I nodded, glad my mouth was too dry to speak; anything I said would just make me sound like an idiot.
The thought wasn’t mine, but I felt it inside my mind. I almost dismissed it as a flight of fancy, but then light danced across my fingertips before fading. I can have Power.
I just stared at my once again mundane hand. I couldn’t have it for nothing; the ability to change the world like that was never free. If I wanted to be more, then I would have to sacrifice for it.
I took a slow breath, trusting the new sensations running through my body while trying to ignore the sense of foreboding of what I’d just done. I was always a bit of a supers geek; I knew that there was always a loss associated with powers to offset the gains. It wasn’t a question of if I’d pay, only how much.
“You’re the idealistic type, I get it.” Allen looked back at the vehicle waiting for him. “Grew up on those fairy tales of adventure and glory, of saving the world with your power and strength of character. Take my decades of experience for what it’s worth: that’s all bullshit. If you’re smart, you’ll go home and live the rest of your life without using your powers even once. Make your difference in the world by writing large checks to worthy causes. I promise it will do more good, and you’ll be happier for it.”
“What’s his opinion?” I flipped through the reports sent by our stand-in, as well as another from the driver. I could see Mike’s edits already on the reports, highlighting important details. The impersonator refused to give more details than the obvious, and that the girl was there to talk to Starfall. Having worked with him before, I anticipated his professionalism. No doubt I’d hire him again in the near future, as a means of distancing Chloe from this new Imbued.
The female Imbued, estimated at approximately thirteen to fifteen years old with light hair, came from the direction of our home. Chloe’s slight build worked in her favor in that regard, and it seems she radiated a neon-blue light that made identifying her features impossible. Still, the conclusion that it was Chloe was obvious to anyone with the right knowledge.
“We’ll make it through this, Amanda,” Mike said. Gravity warped around me, a brief taste of our power interaction to make me feel better and sharpen my power for the coming trials. Mike’s emotions blended with mine, strengthening my own resolve as I strengthened his. Together we can do anything. “She’s our daughter.”
I smiled and accepted. He was every bit as worried as I was. Maybe more; much as I loved my husband, he still had some old fashioned ideas about girls needing more coddling and protection than boys despite his ability to see into my very soul through our Pairbond.
I pressed back against that bond, pouring my mind and soul into Mike as he did the same to me. Once upon a time, I’d have been horrified by such perfect, unbreakable intimacy. Now, terror was the idea of losing it. Followed by the fear of losing my only daughter.
She’s our daughter, love will get us through. She’ll hate us for the betrayal. She’ll find out eventually, at least we stand a chance to control the fallout this way. Which thoughts were mine, and which were Mike’s was as impossible to discern as it was irrelevant. We’d long ago ceased to think of ourselves as individuals rather than two sides to the same whole.
“I am a hero.” My mind, free within Mike’s power, rushed through thousands of possibilities, countless currents in the river of time which would lead me to the resolution I sought. There was always one true, perfect answer to every scenario, I just needed to find it before it was too late.
Chloe is worth everything. “Guess I’m just feeling my age.” True enough, I was no longer the child I’d been when Mike and I discovered our powers were so good together. It had been a whirlwind ‘romance’ as we fought while discussing our respective philosophies until we came to a consensus that our beliefs aligned. I knew now it was our Pairbond evolving, subtly manipulating us into a position that let us be together forever. The first truly happy thing to come of my powers.
Granny chuckled and shook her head. “Child, the Loa do not care for our oaths. They lay down their Law and it will be obeyed heedless of us creatures chained to flesh and history. Granny gives her promise that there will be no penalty, save that your refusal means the Greenwitch shall no longer aid you.”
I grieved for every word she spoke as it damned me further. It’s my fault, I’m so headstrong and stubborn. If I’d just been less pushy, maybe Dom and I could have had something. Now it’s impossible. I’m stuck with a monster.
“How powerful are these bonds?” I’d learned enough about Domenic’s voice through his armor to recognize a moment of introspection. “I get they’re false emotions, an Infiltrator effect of sorts. Can they be blocked?”
Greenwitch’s raspy laughter reminded me of a horrid chain smoker. “One right question, one flawed belief, and a wrong question. Perhaps the Dawn-Child will give you the answer you seek. She can tell you what you already know better than Granny or Greenwitch.”
Curse you, you evil sadistic fossil. She’d taken from me even the option to lie to myself. I looked at Domenic. “Strong enough to make me… attracted to you. Even right now, a little bit.” Forgive me.
“We have no choice in the matter at all? We’re forced to feel what we felt by these Loa?” The faded reflection of our temporary bond gave me insight into the part which disgusted him most, the violation, not just of our flesh, but of our minds.
“You cannot deny who and what you are, Thrice-Blessed.” Granny hobbled a little closer to me as she spoke. “We gave ourselves to the Loa, offered our souls as their temples. They give us the strength to defy the laws of this world, but we follow other laws in their stead.
What a fancy way of saying we made our beds, and now have to get fucked in them. I stared at the mud below me, feeling as if somehow I dirtied it with my wallowing.
“Then there’s nothing we can do,” Domenic said. I wanted to yell at him for how cavalier he was. “But how do we fight her? Pairbonds mean our powers react to each other, but we couldn’t do anything before. She took control of my metal and almost killed Chloe.”
“Where’s your sister?” Metal-boy’s voice echoed through the building, as unnatural as the blank spot his presence created in Fate itself. Through the lens of his partner’s emotions, I could understand the strength behind the steel wall, not of his flesh which was average at best, but of will and wisdom far exceeding our years.
Glow-girl focused on me, reading my emotions with the same sloppy skill as I was reading hers. She tensed, her confidence rising as she began to realize I knew the story ended in their favor. “She’s telling the truth.” They have some sort of plan.
They’re good, better than I expected. How? Adapting. Two of us. Them! Two of them! Where before I had only the pressure of Chloe’s mind inside me, now Domenic was making his presence known. With her, it was at range, with him it’s touch. Is that why it’s so much stronger?
She feels bad? How do I react? Under normal circumstances, I’d have told the psycho to burn in hell, but it’s harder to dismiss someone’s feelings when you’re feeling them, too. I wanted to hug her, but she was still the bitch who murdered my mother. I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Several others in the crowd looked away, and a few didn’t. “Oh, as if you’ve never met a Tank who’s had a wardrobe malfunction before.” It was the most common problem for us. Better than the alternative of having our flesh burned off in addition to our clothes like a non-Tank faced, but still a problem.
I fell sideways through air at max speeds without fear of dropping from the sky. The benefits of my part of the Pairbond with Hunter; she recharged me faster than I could drain the battery, while my power allowed her electricity to imitate my shield’s defensive properties. Domenic’s benefit was in easier to control metals that she could use to some extent as well.
She gets the greatest benefits from this combination, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that everything comes with a loss. What does she lose?