Kals opened her mouth and began to say, “I’d like th—“ but then she stopped. “You know what? I know I told you about techniques your buzzer doesn’t block and that you fixed them, but if she knows techniques that I don’t, I should probably take Katuk.”
I nodded, “Yeah. She probably doesn’t have experience with Xiniti.”
Katuk added, “We hear frequencies that you don’t and our brains are different enough that few Dominators can manipulate us.”
Plus, though neither of us said it, Katuk’s armor was most likely years ahead of mine.
Mindstryke regarded the two of them and then said, “That sounds wise. If Kals is okay with it, I can pass on what she sees and hears to the Rocket and Night Cat.”
Kals raised an eyebrow, “Are you sure you won’t pass on her attempts to take me over?”
Mindstryke shook his head, “I’d be worried about that if I were using clairvoyance, but if Kals isn’t affected, we’re fine.”
Glancing over at Colette, who was still watching, Kals said, “You’re going to be okay. She shouldn’t be able to do anything to me. Between my mom and my teachers, I’ve been training to fight since I was born.”
She walked over to the door, which appeared to open into a chamber large enough for two people—a kind of airlock.
Mindstryke tapped a rectangular device on his belt and the metal door slid down into the ground. Kals and Katuk walked inside as the outside door slid up. I could hear the inside door slide down through Kals’ ears and see it through her eyes.
Mindstryke had been thoughtful enough to filter out any thought except for the ones where Kals deliberately addressed the group.
Katuk stepped in ahead of her, keeping to her right, but seemingly ready to step in front of Kals if the situation demanded.
Colette glanced at Katuk and then over at Kals. Her eyes looked down at Kals’ body or more likely her armor. It wasn’t strange as costumes for supers went, but anyone who’d been to space would recognize the detailed ornamentation around her collar and sleeves as Ascendancy designs.
Colette’s eyes narrowed.
To be fair, Katuk’s presence was more than a small hint that off-world origins were a possibility, but Ascendancy designs on a woman guarded by one of the Xiniti? That would make anyone with a basic understanding of our galaxy’s political situation ask questions.
From the blank expression on Colette’s face, I guessed that she had a few. That guess was confirmed by the first thing she said.
“Who are you and what’s he doing here?” Colette didn’t seem to know who she was the most worried about—Katuk or Kals. She kept her eyes on Kals, but they flickered toward Katuk every time she moved.
Stepping backward to stand with her back to the wall, Colette asked, “What do you want from me?”
Next to me, Haley said, “I can’t understand anything.”
That’s the moment I realized that Colette had been speaking in Ascendancy, a language descended from whatever tribe of humans the Abominators first kidnapped. I’d spoken it with my implant’s help often enough that I no longer noticed.
“Colette wants to know who Kals is,” I said.
“I didn’t understand that either,” Haley said, her voice getting louder.
“Sorry,” I began, deliberately using English. I was about to translate except then Kals spoke.
“I’m Kalsekafora of the Akri lineage, the third set of Dominators. Both my mother and father attended the College of Mind and Will in the Citizens’ School. So did I.”
I wouldn’t have known what that meant without my implant, but Colette did because she grimaced and her muscles tensed.
I told Haley, “Kals just told her she went to a good college.”
Haley raised her left eyebrow, “That’s all? Because Colette’s preparing to fight for her life.”
It wasn’t all, but it was all I could get out. The College of Mind and Will taught the Human Ascendancy’s greatest Dominators how to convert, control, and rule the Human Ascendancy. In the context of the Human Ascendancy, Kals had just told Colette that she’d attended the Ascendancy’s equivalent of Harvard crossed with a military academy. Plus, she was a legacy and old, old money.
I knew also that her parents had rebelled against the Ascendancy, that both of them were dead, and that while she’d learned a lot from her parents, she hadn’t gotten to finish her school’s program.
Kals continued, “We don’t have to fight. Tell me what I need to know and I’ll leave you alone.”
Staring at Kals, Colette started talking, her voice low, but intense, “You don’t know what you’re stepping into. You people are all the same. I’m sure you’ve been trained well, but you don’t understand this place. We on Earth have taken our own path. I don’t know whether you’re working with the Xiniti or manipulating one of them, but it doesn’t matter. Go home. You might hear about what we’re doing here someday, but if you do, you can join us then.”