Season Content notes: fictional bigotry
Ho’neheso frowned as she listened to the transmission. Her ‘games’ with Wu had taught her to break security from the inside. No one in her father’s organization was better. But from the outside, she was a lot weaker. So there were a lot of reasons her bug might have gone silent just then.
The calling card she had given Joan all those months ago didn’t have any bugs or trackers on it. Ho’neheso had known better than to try. But she hadn’t needed to. Even before Wu had collected Ho’neheso from the park, the first night she’d met Joan, hir teams had been tracking her. It hadn’t taken them long to find her public information. Nothing in it had tripped any red flags, though. Ho’neheso had done a deeper scan herself but hadn’t had any hint of Joan’s involvement with her Dad’s enemies until Joan herself admitted it.
Still, knowing who Joan was had made it possible — not easy, but possible — to eventually track her down. Arranging the bugs in their hideout had been harder — especially without Wu finding out.
Ho’neheso hadn’t wanted Wu or her Dad knowing that Joan was an enemy. When her conscience started bugging her, she reminded herself that it was traditional for the Evil Overlord’s daughter to have a crush on the Hero. (There were several notes about it on her Dad’s Evil Overlord List.)
And if her Dad insisted on being the Evil Overlord, that made Joan the Hero, right?
Her conscience hadn’t given her much trouble, though. For over six months, Joan and her friends hadn’t said anything about the rebellion. There’d been nothing Ho’neheso could have reported except that Joan and her friends didn’t like Ma’evoto. Which made them no different than the majority of the world. (Ho’neheso thought. According to Wu, her Dad’s approval numbers were going up. But not by that much.)
Except now she had heard something. She’d heard them plotting to attack General Cheung and blame it on her Dad. Right before the transmission cut out.
If Joan and her friends had found the bugs, they would have shut the bugs down before talking about killing General Cheung. Right?
And if they hadn’t shut down the bugs something else had. Or someone.
Someone like one of Wu’s strike teams. Or Gene’s action teams. Which meant Wu already knew everything, and Joan and her friends were… Ho’neheso swallowed and rubbed at the blue triangle in the center of her shirt. It had been Joan who’d helped her be okay with being a girl. She owed Joan.
And if it wasn’t her Dad’s people? If it was someone else?
Then Joan might be in real trouble.
Ho’neheso swallowed again and picked up her comm. She wanted check on her friend, but she couldn’t. She wouldn’t make it even halfway through Wu’s security without time to prepare. But Wu and her Dad had told her she could come to them with anything. No matter what.
And if they could, they would make it right.
They hadn’t let her down yet.
“Wu? I need you to help a friend.”
Lerato was pissed. Over 20 days trying to track down this rebel team, and every lead came up dead. She’d known better than to think it would be easy, especially with the sparse information higher had been able to pass on to them. But she was pissed. Jolene had pinned her down and was rubbing her shoulders, trying to get her to relax, but it wasn’t helping.
“We know they are in this city–”
“Just how hard can it be to find a group of people with a technomage and a skeletal cyborg in a city of 1 billion people? They can’t be that–”
The phone rang.
Ani jumped to check the number. “Unknown.” She shrugged and answered it, activating a tracking app as she did. “Hello?”
“This is The Dragon. The code is braid, Chicago, 1400, Donagh was framed.”
Ani’s eyes got wider and wider as the voice spoke. When it finished, she choked out, “Acknowledged.”
“The team you were supposed to track has been found. You are receiving an anonymous SMS message with their address now. Something is happening. Your team needs to get down there, see what is going on, make sure that team is safe, and, if necessary, keep them out of police custody or the hospital.
“We need that team alive and as well as possible. I am taking a personal interest in this matter and will call later for an update.”
“Yes, mx. We’re moving now!”
The phone clicked, but already Jolene and Lerato were on their feet. “What’s going on?”
“I’ll explain on the way,” Ani said. “That was The Dragon.”
“Fuck.” The Dragon did not make direct calls to the cell-based action teams. The breach of security alone…
The team was up and running in under ten minutes. They didn’t know what was going on, but it had to be important.
In hir office in the World Government building, Wu sighed and turned to Ho’neheso. “I’ve done what I can. I wish you had come to your Dad or me before this, but… I understand why you didn’t.”
Ho’neheso glomped on hir and squeezed. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Wu shook hir head. “Don’t thank me yet, daughter-of-my-heart. I’ve trained you better than that.”
Ho’neheso stared at hir a moment, then looked away. “You already knew about them, just not where to find them. You had a team assigned to them.” She swallowed. “What are you going to do to them?”
The door opened, Ma’evoto stuck his head in. “Wu, I got your alert. Everything okay?”
“For now, my friend. But it seems your daughter has much to tell us about a friend of hers. This one has a team investigating now.”
“Alright,” Ma’evoto said with a sigh. “Can it at least wait until dinner?”
“This one believes so. And Ho’neheso? You will get the answer to your question — or as much as we can give you — then.”
She did not like that answer, but there wasn’t much she could do about it.
When the lights went out, the team all reached for weapons. Or, in Joan’s case, her tablet. Ahnold took the lead, heading for the stairs. “The door is stuck,” he said. “I can break it. I don’t hear anyone.”
Joan finished sketching her spell into the tablet, then cursed as it fizzled before her eyes. “Someone’s got a mage ward on this place. A good one.”
“We’re under attack,” Amal said. “Get to the escape tunnel.”
As a group, they turned and moved to the back of the basement. The escape tunnel was an actual tunnel leading to their neighbor’s basement laundry room. The tunnel exit was hidden behind the washer machine and a light illusion. They’d never expected to need it, but Amal insisted — just in case.
With Ahnold bringing up the rear, they started moving through the tunnel — just as the explosion brought their house down
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