The younger Banks had just woken up when we returned to the infirmary. Savage helped himself to one of the cots that lined the edge of the room while the rest of us approached them.
“Now, it will likely take some time to fully heal,” Dr. Mind said Robert and Adrian Banks. “The brain is like a muscle- if you exercise it in a particular way, it will be stronger at that task in the future. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s a good way to think about it.”
Robert had a glazed look in his eyes. “I understand. But why am I here? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That may be the case, but if you look at what you’ve done these last few months, it should be clear that you weren’t entirely yourself.”
“But I-” Rob paused, eyes widening. “Oh god. Brandon.”
“Brandon Lim, the Upright Man?” Jamisson interjected. “He’s in Collswell Meta-Max. Did you know him?”
“I- I did. It’s my fault. It should never have gotten that bad.”
“It’s not your fault,” Adrian reassured his son.
“No, it is. Even before, I said they could use their powers to take down the metahuman gangs. I had no idea how far Brandon would go.” His voice cracked.
Yes it fucking was your fault, I thought, the flash of anger surprising me. If you hadn’t egged him on, none of those people would have been killed by Masquerade, and the Wardens of Justice wouldn’t have broken up. We would have actual heroes to rely on for support. I started to pace silently behind Jamisson to let out some frustration. Hold on, their powers, plural?
“What about Temple?”
Rob Banks froze, then said quietly, “I’d like to speak to my lawyer.”
Goddammit! Our last chance to get information on Temple was falling apart before my eyes.
Jamisson swore under his breath, quietly enough that only I could have heard it. He leaned in and spoke quickly. “Listen, there’s no judicial precedent for crimes committed under the influence of mind control because we do our very best not to set one. The very moment we acknowledge the existence of metahumans with this kind of ability, we can kiss public sentiment goodbye.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “So the department usually kills them with snipers and quietly buries them along with the paperwork.”
Wait, what? I stopped pacing. The two Banks’ eyes widened. But then why aren’t there any heroes with that kind of power?
“That’s unconstitutional,” Adrian said.
“I’m told there’s some convoluted legal explanation for why it’s not, but I happen to agree. In this case, though, it works in our favor.” He spoke to the younger Banks, “If you help us stop him, your crimes will be buried along with him. We’ll never press changes.”
“Even if-” Rob started, then hesitated and started again. “He’s not the one you want to stop.”
Dr. Mind was quick to interject, “It may take you some time to adjust, but Temple is a supervillain. You must understand that.”
“I get it, I do, but if he doesn’t stop the Astrologer, it would mean the end of everything.”
“The Astrologer,” Jamisson said. “That would be Randolph Ermen?”
Rob Banks looked up sharply. “Yeah. You know about him?”
“We found out about him after the Tide of Sky event. We were investigating rumors of a power enhancer and found a name- Randwulf. ITAB had someone matching the description on file. He’s suspected of illegal metahuman experimentation.”
“That sounds right,” Rob nodded. “Except for one thing. From what Temple said, he’s not a power enhancer. He’s a precog. He can see how the world will end.”
No one spoke for a moment.
“I don’t buy it. The tech we found looked tinker-made,” I said.
“It was probably tinker-designed, but if he was a tinker we would have seen more evidence. One piece of advanced tech does not a tinker make. Trust me on this one,” Dr. Mind said.
“The pecog angle does fit with our description of him. One of the theories behind precognition psychosis is seeing some horribly traumatic possibility in the future and going to extreme lengths to prevent it,” Jamisson said. “We’ve seen some evidence of that ourselves with Phenomena, and Upright Man targeting Legion.”
“He’s not trying to prevent it. He’s trying to cause it,” Robert said. “I don’t know why, that’s just what Temple said.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I said. Something seemed wrong about what he was saying. He had to be hiding something.
“Look, I’m fucking tired. I don’t… I don’t understand what happened, but I want to just try to put my life back together okay?” He looked down,
“What aren’t you telling us?” I shouted, teleporting in close to him to punctuate the question. Adrian stood and positioned himself protectively between me and his son.
“Shadow! Take a walk,” Jamisson barked, pointing to the door.
I whipped around to face him. “Do you know how many people have died because of what he’s done? We’re about to let him walk even though he won’t help us find Temple because what, he’s the mayor’s son?”
Rob Banks cut in. “I can’t help you find Temple because he’s always moving. He’s never had a fixed location. If you want to find him, find the Astr- find Randolph, but I’m done being someone’s pawn.”
Rob Banks stood and walked towards the door.
Adrian Banks leaned towards me and said, “You’re toeing the line, son.”
“Not a registered hero, sir,” I sniped back.
He turned and followed his son out of the room. Jamisson turned towards me, but Dr. Mind cut him off.
“Shadow, what was that?” Dr. Mind said.
“He’s hiding something,” I said. “I thought I might be able to get something more out of him,” I ad libbed, struggling to force my voice calm. An idea occurred to me as I tried to cover for my lapse in control. “We know Temple made the Nullifier schematics public, but Laztech could only reverse-engineer it because the Upright Man stole it. Was that Rob Banks, or was that Temple?”
Jamisson furrowed his brow at me. I continued, “Either way, I need to talk to the Upright Man. The best way to fight a precog is with a precog.”
Jamisson appeared to come to a decision. “Dr. Mind, see if you can get access to the street cameras and run your facial recognition algorithm against Randolph Ermen. Shadow, we’re going to visit a friend in prison.”