The rooftop of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building is designated a Sky Commando refit and refuel center, and the rooftop has been reinforced with a landing pad and chassis support lattice. Alishia Webb lands easily, hitting the pad dead center, and waits as a mesh of steel beams and ruggedized cabling close around the sides and back of the Sky Commando chassis, hooking into it to run an automated diagnostic and set up what resupply is needed. Then she opens the front and steps out as her tactical armor detaches from the inside.
For a moment she feels exposed, standing outside the chassis, wearing only her tactical armor. The armor is vastly superior to the armor in use in traditional police forces—or even in standing armies—but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Sky Commando chassis. It’s hard not to feel invulnerable in it.
Which is stupid, she reminds herself. What happened to David could happen to you, too.
Jason Kline sighs, pushes his laptop away, and rests his forehead against the edge of the table. He stares down at the taupe-colored rug and wonders what color it was when they first moved in. He’s certain the rug has been replaced at least twice since they set up here, but he doesn’t remember it happening and he can’t remember the previous colors.
The official meeting is ending. The real meeting is about to begin.
The official meeting, where Robert Thorpe revealed to all present that someone was creating a virus specifically engineered to kill metahumans, and where David Bernard revealed that they were going to use magic to simultaneously infect every male on the planet with it, ends with scientists milling about in a buzz of tense, excited conversation. None of them will sleep tonight: most won’t even bother going home to try. They will, instead, be organizing ad hoc meetings of their own, where they’ll brainstorm the best ways to approach the problem.
Robert's office has been transformed into a miniature auditorium.
Rows of chairs fill the first two-thirds of the room—six chairs on each side with an aisle down the middle—and Jenny recognizes almost none of the people sitting in them. She vaguely remembers the faces of one or two of the people who were present at their arrival, and she catches a glimpse of Alihmah Mahmoud, the president of Thorpe Industries, sitting in the very last row. Everyone else is wearing a Thorpe Institute badge. The first row is reserved for her and her companions: Twelve chairs, each with a nametag. Curveball. Zero. Regiment. Red Shift. Street Ronin. Vigilante. Scrapper Jack. Dr. Artemis LaFleur. David Bernard. Alan Grant. Lijuan Hu. Peter Travers. At present, the only chairs that aren't filled are Vigilante's, Jack's, LaFleur's, and Bernard's. Jenny remembers something about David being in the infirmary for some reason.