Rematch: Part 21

Daniel nodded, “That’s what I was thinking too. It has to be them. The only question is whether someone hired them to do it or whether they’re doing it on their own. If no one’s hiring them, that’s worse.”

Yoselin turned around, “And why do you think that?”

I knew why, but he answered first, “Because if they did it themselves, they’ll care what happened, and I’m not sure we’re ready to go up against the Dominators. If the Nine hired them, the Nine might care, but they’ll have to hire the Dominators for them to care. We’ve gone up against the Nine successfully a couple of times now. We might be able to do it again.”

From the front, Cassie said, “Three times if you count the time Red Hex, Troll, and I fought them.”

Yoselin shrugged, holding out her hands, “Whether the Nine hired them or not, I’m not sure there’s a difference between the Dominators and the Nine. My father thinks that the Dominators only let the Nine think they’re independent.”

I thought about it, “That kind of makes sense.”

Turning to meet Yoselin’s eyes, Daniel said, “I hope you’re wrong, but Nick’s right. Crap.”

We all sat for a little while in silence watching the moon and ocean in the darkness outside. Then Daniel said, “Cap, turn us around and make a loop around the island. I just thought of something. I’ll tell you where to go once we get closer.”

The jet whipped around in a turn quick enough to put us into one of those UFO videos and we hurtled toward the island. Streetlights and spotlights illuminated its hotels and the arena. Though I half-expected to, I couldn’t see the Grey Giant.

Past the arena, where the city turned from tourist attractions into a suburb that might have existed anywhere, I saw another light. This one wasn’t large, but I recognized the red flames for what they were.

“That way,” Daniel pointed toward the flames.

Fire trucks poured water on one house, a large one with a five-car garage. Burnt black with flames coming out of every window, and one wall that had fallen inward, I felt comfortable guessing that no one would live there again.

Daniel pointed his thumb toward where Len Jones slept in a chair, “His house. I was thinking that even though we’d burned his records, we might find something here that would give us a clue who messed with his head.”

“Heading out of here,” Cassie aimed the jet leftward and we headed out toward the water again. Another turn sent us north toward Florida, but not over the island. We didn’t know they had missiles or flying supers, but knowing they had alien tech meant that it was better not to stick around to find out the hard way.

Then Cassie glanced over at Yoselin, “Where should I drop you off? Cuba’s not far. How close do we need to get before you can fly the rest of the way?”

Twisting around to look back at Daniel and me before she answered, “If it all the same to you, I’d like to stay with you until you’re done with this. I know it might be politically challenging for you, but I can clear it with my supervisors.”

She looked from Cassie and back to me again, “My father worked with the original Rocket and is friends with the Rhino. I’d like you to trust me as much as they did him.”

I looked over at Daniel, “Are we going to go after this? My understanding was that we’re done after we hand Armory over. I’m not sure if the Feds would even want us involved. They’re willing to hide behind us, but I don’t think they’re looking for help.”

From the front, Cassie laughed, “Yeah. I’ve got a feeling we’d be hearing the words ‘national security’ a lot from Lim and his people.”

“Good point,” Daniel gave Len a look. The guy was still sleeping, “but there’s something else we need to consider. We know the Nine have infiltrated the FBI. I don’t know whether Lim rooted them out or not, but even if he found a few agents, there might be more. I’m not sure I want us to go after either the Nine or the Dominators, but I’m not sure the Feds can do it themselves without tipping off the people they’re investigating.”

I looked at Len Jones who was still sleeping, a little drool dripping from his mouth. It was possible that Len hadn’t turned mercenary on his own. He’d been pushed, meaning he was as much a victim as any of the people killed by powered armor he’d sold to the highest bidder.

I looked over at Daniel, feeling him read my chain of thought, but adding for everyone else’s benefit, “It seems like we have to look into it. If we hand him over to the Feds and do nothing, then the guy will probably go to jail for stuff someone made him do.”

Daniel looked over at Yoselin, “Are you sure you want to stick around for this? I have a bad feeling it’s going to get messy.”

6 thoughts on “Rematch: Part 21”

  1. I find it fascinating that we’re this far into the series and the Dominators have been referenced over and over again… but you’ve _never_ given us the as-yow-know-Bob breakdown regarding what Nick actually knows about them. We know that they’re a group of supervillains(?) who use varying forms of mind control, but you’ve never named a specific known member (“ah yes, used to call himself the Mad Hatter”) or explained when the group is believed to have been formed, who the known members are, what their goals are believed to be, or anything like that. They’re nearly as much an unknown property as the first time they were mentioned. All we really know for sure is that absolutely everyone seems terrified of them.

    1. I feel it’s been made pretty clear that Nick doesn’t know who any members of the dominators are, and it’s likely that nobody in power does either, considering Nick’s connections. The closest to meeting a member we’ve gotten was when one of the vampires in Detroit claimed to have done work for the dominators in the past, but IIRC he was pretty clearly a freelancer (which is *not* something I’d expect the dominators to use based on what we know of them, thus making that guy a particularly interesting data point).

      We know they are exceptional at covering their tracks, that we can assume they almost certainly have agents high up in every government and probably other powerful organizations, including probably several heroes (if they aren’t on a team that regularly interacts with telepaths there’s a risk they’re compromised until cleared by a telepath, and not every telepath will necessarily notice the signs of dominator influence, even if specifically looking for it, and the ones who would notice might not always think to check for it).

      I think we won’t see much concrete from the dominators until they start directly messing with the league directly. I think it would be interesting if a trusted member was found to have been compromised for a while and didn’t know it (dominator MO), and Daniel didn’t notice because it was someone he doesn’t see regularly and thus hasn’t checked for dominator influence in a long while, and that’s what causes the league to start actively going down that rabbit hole, but that’s probably endgame type stuff, and what likely will kick off the stuff with the artificers that we are kinda assuming will be the finale.

  2. We know they exist throughout human space. The rebels on Hideaway had heard of them. They are likely a creation of the Abominators. There may well be an Abominator still among them. The interesting question is whether its a brand name at this point, or whether its a single group that operates from earth and the ex-Abominator empires and has a single over-arching goal or plan.
    In theory they could be a tool of a member of the Live faction. They would be quite useful to gradually take control over populations and harness them to a singular purpose, such as fighting against the destroy faction. And they don’t seem to wantonly create the sort of chaos that the objects left by the destroy faction do.

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