The Magene gave men and women the power to distort reality to their whims. Only those known as Anchors had the power to block the effects of the Magene. Some Anchors became bounty hunters of the supernormal. On July 6, 1998, every single person on Earth with even a hint of the Magene disappeared from the very fabric of reality, leaving the Earth to powerful Anchors who would shape the next generation of supernormals as they wished...
"Jessa Dumont, may you be introduced to Lorenzo Archangeli," said Marx. He must have been in his sixties, yet he remained one of the fittest men Jessa had ever met. Devlin Marx was the founder of the Conclave, and perhaps one of the wealthiest men in the world. When he approached her two years ago about working for the Conclave, she might have tried seducing him but for the fact that she could not Read him at all. Neither could she Read the Archangeli fellow. Jessa was used to Reading true malice or benevolence at a glance, but the fact that she could not Read the Anchors who worked for the Conclave unnerved her. If an Anchor decided to harm her, her psychic talents would not forewarn her. Yet the Conclave owed its existence to Anchors like them, not Readers like her. She was just new 'meat' technology that had recently come of age, a tool for the Conclave to use. If not for the money, she would not be here among the Anchors.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Archangeli," said Jessa. The name was a mouthful; Jessa filed him under Jelly for short.
"Please, call me Lorenzo," said the short, stocky Italian. Jessa found Jelly plain; so undistinguished that she would not be able to describe him at all if she were not staring right at him. Neither could she distinguish him by his aura... he had none.
"Thank you for coming so soon. The matter is grave, and Conclave requires both your talents to deal with the situation," said Marx.
"Always at your beck and call, sir," said Archangeli. "At your humble service."
"Oh, cut the smarm, Jelly," said Jessa, the nickname rolling off her tongue unintentionally. "What's the assignment this time, Marx? My job is to finger sociopathic supernormal pre-teens...or is it?"
If the aggressively-normal Lorenzo Archangeli was bothered by Jessa's corruption of his name, it didn't show on his face.
"And an excellent job you do of that. You're the most powerful Reader we have, yet your skills extend far beyond simple identification of potential threats. Conclave has an assignment of utmost importance that might make use of your psychic powers, and Lorenzo is our best Fetter. Three of the Fenris Wolves have become unleashed in as many days, their Fetters hunted down and murdered systematically. This has caused each Fenris Wolf to suddenly gain access to their tremendous power, guided by their potential for great evil. Someone knows about Conclave, and is destroying our Fetters to create villains of nefarious power. I need my best Reader and most versatile Fetter to track down and neutralize the freed Fenris Wolves, and to uncover the hidden enemy."
"That we will, that we will. Which Wolves were unleashed?" asked Lorenzo with preternatural calm. "Which agents slaughtered?"
"Angeline Croft, weather powers, codename Dryspell," answered Devlin. "When Fettered she could conjure no more than a breeze. Yet this pyromaniac in London could now make England tinder-dry. Fetter Jacoby was drowned, a silver ankh found about his neck. Fetter Smythe lost her head at the Tower of London, an ankh in her clenched fist.
"Yvan and Claudette Viau, a pair of powerful twins. We believe them to be mages, untrained yet possessed of great raw power. Both are sadistic terrorists working in Quebec. They were already difficult to Fetter, and now they have been unchained. Codenames Telamon and Caryatid," said Devlin. "Fetter Davidson was electrocuted, an ankh burnt into his flesh. Fetter Lascarides was stabbed to death with a sharp steel ankh."
Jessa choked on her champagne. "Two wild mages! There's no bleedin' way I can deal with these maniacs with just Jelly to help!" shouted Jessa. "You should march in with all of your Anchors and stop them! What do you need me for?"
"I suspect Mr. Marx intends for you to track them, Miss," said Lorenzo. Jessa wanted to stuff Jelly's head into the aquarium he was standing next to. What a toady!
"Yeah, right. The two of us against two mages and a pyro. I'd do it for a cool ten mil, no less," said Jessa sarcastically.
"Done," said Devlin.
"Oh?" said Jessa and Lorenzo simultaneously in surprise.
"I would devote all my fortunes to maintain Conclave's goal. No evil shall escape Conclave, nor corrupt us from within," said Devlin. He pressed a button on the desk, and a panel in the wall opened to reveal an arsenal of weapons and gadgets. "And you won't be going alone," said Devlin, reaching for a black crossbow with a golden Eye of Horus. "I'm coming with you."
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