(April Lane notes in her latest Public Sentiment from the end of this episode there is a wide disparity in some of the answers. Responders gave extremely negative responses to “Do you think talents should be registered, and Do you feel comfortable with talents.” However, they were rather positive on the question “Do you appreciate the contributions talents make to society,” specifically noting the actions of people like “The Masked Muscle” Norman and Bai)
Norman and Cazimir proceed to San Antonio to investigate the missing talents, while Adam stays in Chicago to get his turf in order. He begins to help out various twitter followers to build up a ring of contacts, and has a few install some basic equipment in a storage facility he is renting to become his “secret base.” With the super computer he requested as his favor from Damien Xerxes things begin to come together. He also stops by a gym, where the proprietor asks him to shill in exchange for a free membership. The owner also introduces him to Pablo “Prince of Punch” Perez, an ex-MMA fighter with a sarcastic attitude and a mocking attitude towards Adam.
In San Antonio Caz and Norman go to the hospital and speak to Luis Mercado, the talent that escaped the facility where the missing talents are taken. Luis is suspicious of the characters’ intentions, but Caz gets him to open up and he tells them the few things he remembers from his drug induced incarceration. There were a number of other talents at the facility, and a cat that walked through walls and objects. He couldn’t be sure, it seems like a dream. There was one name he heard over and over though – Doctor Medows. They ask Luis where he was picked up, and he tells them the area. That night they head out to see what they can find.
In Chicago, Adam spends some time with Ai, talking about her encounter with Jean Mougey. Ai is struggling to reconcile her desire to get back to work and live a normal life, with the thrill she experienced in her running combat with the ice talent. She finally asks Adam if he ever finds Mougey to let her know – she wants to be involved in taking her down. The next day, Adam hears a report over his police scanner. An ice talent in robbing Fifth Third Bank on Cermak. He dons his costume and speed off down the street (wrecking quite a bit of public property on the way). When he arrives the police have cordoned off the area. The chief officer on the scene, Lieutenant Samuels, makes it clear that The Masked Muscle “had better not sneak in and try to deal with this talent that might get his men killed if they go in instead.” Adam takes the hint and leaps to action.
Inside, he first encounters a new sidekick Jean has found – Mike Finch. He wears noise cancelling head phones and anytime he thinks of and sings lyrics he gains the ability described! He powers up with Indestructible, then tells Adam “I’m burning for You!” when they grapple. Finally, Adam rips off Mike’s headphones and has an idea. He sings his own lyrics “Take my Breath Away” and Mike begins to choke and pass out. That problem solved, he runs back to the vault to find Jean with a number of hostages, loading up money. She revels in her power and tells Adam “Why wouldn’t I take all this money when I can.” Adam prioritizes the hostages, and after a brief fight Jean blasts out the back wall and runs away.
Back in San Antonio, Caz and Norman narrow down the search to a gas station or a shipping company on the south side. When they see a cat walk through the metal of a chain link fence coming from the shipping company, they know they have the right place. Caz as Anubis drops Norman off on top of the roof and the speedster sneaks in through the cooling vents. Some no-neck military types are guarding the top floor, but Norman knocks them out without a sweat, and the two find a high-tech elevator to the basement. Anubis can barely fit in the elevator, and as they descend the base goes into alert mode! The door opens on the bottom floor and twenty soldiers are waiting with guns trained. They open fire without question, but not before Norman is already zooming around the room, trying to take guns.
The bullets ricochet off Anubis harmlessly, and he throws soldiers around like rag dolls. In only a few moments they have taken care of the enemies, and the base goes into deeper lockdown! Blast doors begin to segment the basement, but Norman runs under them and finds the security room in an instant. He stops the lockdown and he and Cazimir find the main operating room, where Doctor Medows has a number of unconscious talents. She insists they leave, and tell her she has every right to be working here – it is authorized by the US government. The commanding officer at the base, Captain Lance, also makes an appearance and under interrogation reveals his boss to be Major Tarkanen.
They free the talents and find a last talent restrained in a liquid filled tube. Doctor Medows says that they have experimented on this talent and he is essentially a human bomb. They can’t let him out of stasis or thousands could die. They wake him (Mario Ramirez Yarto) up anyway, and Norman runs him out to the desert, where he gives off an explosion like a nuclear bomb.
They notify the authorities, and Norman asks Damien to pick up Mario and take him somewhere safe. The business magnate is all to happy to comply. While the experiments are halted for now, and friendly media like CBS and April Lane paint the true horror of the facility with the help of video from Anubis, the government line is that this facility was used to help talents with powers too dangerous for society. They point out that the “nuclear explosion” in the desert was an example of such a menace, and it is being “mischaracterized.” A few are smart enough to see through this, but many are scared and believe the rhetoric.
Adam gets a call from Ai who says she saw a news report that Jean is attacking a bank. Adam apologizes and says the fun is already over. She says that is ok, she was on her way to help but her line suddenly goes dead. Adam runs to try to find her, but it turns out she just incinerated her cell phone in a spat of anger at missing her “rival.” Adam promises not to leave her out again. Ai says it can be their first date if he manages to track Jean down.
The characters regroup and head back to their homes to tie up loose ends. Caz reconciles with Kristin, but she explains that he has changed – when she sees him in the mirror it is like a stranger coming up behind her. She will have to try and start over, and Caz agrees. Norman speaks to his family and James, and tells them it isn’t safe for him to come home. He comes to the hard decision to work with Damien Xerxes. He meets with Damien and lays down his ground rules, and they retire to discuss the future.
After that Adam and Caz both get a text asking to meet at the St. Louis airport, the Starbucks beyond gate 3. used to this sort of thing they decide to do it and find Alicia Evans waiting for them. She says she doesn’t have much time, as she is on layover to DC. It has come to her attention that Norman has decided to work with Damien and she thinks this would be an incredibly bad idea. While she believes in the work of XSpace, she doesn’t believe Damien is responsible when it comes to talents and their new powers. She also tells them that he has kept a number of very important things from them. First, that they were entered into the contest for Lachesis before they entered. Second, that the Baikal story is one of many that he gives – the real news is that Damien actually has a full ship on site, a ship that had the Atropos engine inside of it! He has a number of plans he keeps obfuscated that she has begun to worry about.
However her warnings fall on deaf ears, and pointing out that she is asking for nothing in return for this information she departs.
Norman, back in Orlando, has a surprise visitor sitting in his chair at home when he arrives. Agent Skiles is there and gives another long speech about protecting the nation, and the ideals that go beyond any constitutional authority. He tells Norman that there is a faction in the government, militant and fanatic, that wishes to overthrow the current administration and take power. Another deep state entity like the one Skiles works for. He doesn’t know the exact extent of their plans, but he has narrowed it down to a General Krieger who works out of Fort McNair. Norman asks why Skiles is telling him, and why he needs the talents to do his dirty work, extremely pertinent questions. However, Skiles plays coy. Despite his misgivings, Norman feels he has to share it with the rest of the party. They ask Damien to use the computer in the Life Boat and they hack into Krieger’s and the McNair databases. After a quick search, it becomes clear that there is indeed a shadowy group in the government working on something called “Project Charlemagne.” The proof of its ‘extra-governmentality’ is in it’s extreme level of restriction. The only people allowed to go to the location of the project on the base are Mike Pence, Senator Burr, General Krieger, and NSA Chief Rogers. They search all of these people’s computers as well, finding various hints at nefarious activities perhaps, but nothing conclusive. There is also evidence that Medows, Lance, and Tarkanen are subordinates who are seeking a talent that can be weaponized by the group. Finally, one last person has super-user access to the Project – a civilian contractor that is not mentioned by name in the records. Burr and Krieger have a meeting together in the capitol square, and Anubis and Adam plan to eavesdrop.
What is Project Charlemagne? Why does Skiles want them to investigate? What is going on with Evans and Xerxes? Find out in the next episode!