It's baaaaack.

Find the full chapter list for The Man Who Made Monsters and links to related stories here.

Braedon Chandler tapped the ash from his cigarette, reread the email, and thought, Prometheus activity in Chicago and D.C. now. My, my, the good doctor is getting greedy again.

Seymour was conducting a new experiment. Braedon couldn’t ignore the kids he rescued from the last research installation. The increase in the number of missing kids. The sudden Prometheus sightings all over the place. He couldn’t ignore that.

He had a fleeting thought of panic. A thing that had nagged and gnawed at the corners of his mind. Supernaturally gifted children. Wes was practically still a child. Drinking age didn’t mean a damn thing. The brain was still developing well into the twenties and Seymour was always particularly interested in living minds, in finding the source of power in supernatural people.

No. No, he wouldn’t have found Wes without Braedon knowing. He would have held it over Braedon’s head. Or one of Wes’ little entourage would have survived to seek his help in saving him. No, that couldn’t be it. Wes was just being a stubborn little bastard. Par for the course, really.

He set his tablet down and buzzed his secretary. “Yes, Mr. Chandler?”

“Call the hospital,” he said. “Check in on Mr. Cross and let me know how he’s doing. And tell Miss Greer to give him a bonus. The usual for this sort of thing.”

“Yes, Mr. Chandler.”

Braedon switched the intercom off and sat back in his chair. He felt restless. Achingly restless. He could feel his fingers twitch, feel the longing to beat something into submission. To wrap his hands around Seymour’s throat as he ought to have done decades ago and squeeze the life from him. It had been a failure in judgment. The last dregs of youthful mercy.

He drew in a deep, slow, calming breath.

Then, in an impulsive fit he knew he’d regret later, he dialed her number. He waited to hear her voice on the line. Waited for her answer. Wondered if she would answer.

“What do you want?” she asked without preamble.

“Hello to you, too, Claire,” he said. “Have your heard from our son?”

“I heard about what happened,” she said. “Were you hurt?”

“No.” He didn’t delude himself. She didn’t really care. “Have you heard from our son?”

“No, I haven’t,” she said bitterly. “He knows better.”

That could have been an act. His beautiful, cold wife was such a good little actress.

“I don’t-” He cut himself off. He knew he would say something stupid if he didn’t measure his words carefully. “I will not go looking for him. I only wish to know if he is alright. He’s my son, too.”

Claire laughed a bitter, hollow laugh. “When have you cared for him as more than the body that will fill your seat when someone finally kills you?”

“You say that like it’s wrong,” Braedon snapped. “A man’s children are his legacy. A surviving symbol of who he was and what he taught them. How else would you have me view my son?”

“Then he’s a lie,” she snapped back at him. “He’s nothing like you.”

Then the line was dead and she was gone.

Braedon closed his eyes again, tightly, until the light behind his lids faded entirely into flat, brown-black nothing. He took another deep, slow breath. Then he stood and strode out, past his secretary, barking, “Text me how Mr. Cross is doing and then you can go home.”

“Sir!” she called. “If you’ll wait a moment, I’ll have the car brought around and call for your guar-”

“No. I’m going to see Rand.”

He felt the silence fall and swell behind him and knew she would call his guards anyway, on the sly, hoping he would never guess that she had done so. But they would know better than to follow too close.

Rand would have something to say about Seymour, and Braedon only needed something to start with to find the good doctor. His fingers twitched again at the thought of wrapping around the arrogant little prick’s throat.

The fact that getting Rand’s help came with a price…

Well, he would cross that bridge when he came to it.

Wes stared down at the people below through a hole in the floor. The building was under renovation. Construction equipment and tools and plywood littered the place, and everything was covered in a fine layer of dust, as though it hadn’t been worked on in a while.

“How much longer is this going to take?” The man was tall, with a rounded face and vivid blue eyes, and Wes recognized him instantly, though he had to keep it to himself. Foster, he thought. Son of a bastard.

There were six Hunters below. He recognized most of them, even if he couldn’t remember their names but he knew exactly who Seth Foster was, and his stomach twisted and rolled. He kept his expression as close to neutral as he could and thanked his lucky stars for the dim lighting that kept them hidden in the shadows.

Seth Foster. He wasn’t just any Hunter; Foster was second-in-command to the local General. He was the second most powerful Hunter in the McRae territory and he was in some shithole of a building trading children to a bunch of guys in slick suits. Wes knew the guys in slick suits weren’t Hunters. He couldn’t sense it the same way the others could, but he was pretty sure they were human.

The leader of the guys in the slick suits was short and balding. He was tapping away on his phone, not bothering to look at Foster. “As long as it takes Cole to verify that the children are all gifted. You sold us inferior stock last time and Dr. Seymour was displeased.”

Wes’ twisting, rolling stomach filled with acid. He had hoped that this was something different. Hunters weren’t supposed to do this. Hunters didn’t sell kids. They didn’t hurt innocent people. They hunted monsters. Sure, they didn’t hunt all monsters all the time. Some monsters were allowed to get away with doing monstery things, as long as they weren’t overtly harmful monstery things. Plenty of the more organized races of monsters liked secrecy as much as Hunters did and didn’t allow any shenanigans that might make normal people notice them. But Hunters sure as hell never helped monsters do monstery things.

He could feel Brigid like a tightly coiled spring beside him, and he felt her shudder but when he glanced at her, he saw it wasn’t a shudder of fear. It was a shudder of rage and revulsion. He put a hand on hers, tight for an instant, and mouthed, “Wait.”

She peered at him questioningly but he only looked back down through the hole in the floor, her lips pressed into a tight, white slash of flesh.

Foster snorted. “They were all gifted. Maybe Seymour isn’t as bright as he claims.”

Balding Slick Suit snapped, “You’re a fucking liar, Foster. Quality has been going down a long time.”

Wes felt Brigid move again and Wes tightened his hand again, but she wasn’t going anywhere. She thought she understood why he wasn’t ready to move yet. He let her think it was just to get more information.

It was a gamble. Balding Slick Suit might say Foster’s name. Brigid might investigate. She might find out he was a Hunter. She’d find out anyway, in the end, because she’d remember what he looked like. But Wes wanted time to sort it out. He needed time.

I should call Dad.

Fuck no. I can’t call Dad.

Dad would love to know about this.

But I’m really not that desperate to get back into his good graces.

You could deliver this territory to him.

No. That’s the last thing anyone needs.

Wait, just wait--wait, and watch, and see what the hell happens from here.

Click here to move on.