I was angry with Anna--but not because she hadn't told me about Philip. The whole Synap thing had thrown me off; the notion that she was so desperate to have powers that she'd take some sort of weird chemical that could have killed her...
Well, maybe I wasn't one to talk.
I checked up on Anna to make sure she was okay near the end of the day. Then I got her to come with me back to my house.
"Sumerset'll pick me up," I told her. "We can talk to him then."
She wasn't thrilled about that idea.
We hadn't even settled into the backseat of the Tank before I launched right into it.
"There's a psychic at school," I told Sumerset. "He's been trying to pressure Anna into giving him some sort of drug. Synap, it's called."
"Mmm." Sumerset didn't sound surprised.
"So, right. What do we do?" I asked.
Sumerset started up the car. "Hey, Anna."
Anna was doing her best to shrivel up into a tiny speck in the backseat. "Um, yes?"
"Last night, when you called Sue. You told her to turn on the TV. Why?"
I turned to Anna, then back to Sumerset. "What's this got to do with anything?"
"Let me work, kid."
"I--I saw the prison break on TV," she said. "I thought it was important."
"Couple of class 3 criminals breaking out of prison--nothing new. It happens," Sumerset said. "No reason to be concerned, or to call Sue. Not unless you happen to know that the prison in question is also where they kept Scourge."
Anna got very quiet.
"Of course you couldn't have known that," Sumerset said. "That's a highly classified bit of trivia right there. Not many folks have access to it."
Now I was staring at Anna. "...what's going on?"
Anna didn't say anything--she just stared at her shoes. Meanwhile, Sumerset picked up the slack: "Did some research on little Miss Spencer. I can see why she's so tight-lipped. Her parents are interesting folks."
I reached out to touch her shoulder. She pulled away.
"Father's a plumber," Sumerset said. "Navy man. Seems like a decent fella, kind of guy I'd have a beer with. Her mom, though... Ho boy."
"No one's supposed to know about that," Anna said, her voice low and defensive.
"She's under Federal protection now," he said. "Was a gearhead back in the day."
"Gearhead?" I asked.
"Nickname they give for someone who ain't a power, but can fight like one on account of their gear," Sumerset said. "Pretty rare, on account of the government reproducing all the tech they get ahold of. Every so often though--you'll see a piece of machinery they can't replicate, or someone'll manage to make something and keep it a secret for a good long while. In Anna's case, her mom got ahold of a set of gloves..."
"I was going to tell you," Anna said, interrupting. She turned to me, wringing her hands together. "I just--"
"Jeez, Anna," I said. "Why all the secrecy? My mom was a cape--what, you thought I wouldn't trust you because yours was too?"
"Her mom wasn't a cape," Sumerset said.
"Her mom was a super-villain," he said.
For a while, I just gaped at the back of Sumerset's head. And then, ever so slowly, I turned back to Anna.
"Yeah," she said, looking back down at her feet again. "She was a mercenary. Did a lot of--did a lot of bad things. My dad, he never wanted me to have anything to do with her. But she sends me things, every so often. We still talk online."
"She ain't supposed to talk to you," Sumerset said. "Ain't supposed to talk to anyone. Federal protection program explicitly forbids any communication with relatives."
"Well, she does," Anna said, her voice climbing. "And she's never done me any wrong!"
"She's done plenty wrong to others," he said.
"Sumerset," I said. "Lay off, okay?"
"This is need-to-fucking-know information, Sue. You know what her mother could do to you if she found out who you are? If Anna blabbed--"
"I wouldn't do that!" Anna said.
I put my hand on Anna's shoulder. It seemed to calm her down. She looked to me, her eyes pleading. "Sue--I wouldn't--you believe me, right? I would never tell anyone about you, or any of this stuff."
"I know, Anna," I said.
Sumerset cleared his throat. "Right," he said. "Okay. Just so we're clear. Information like this? It's shit you need to tell us. Keeping secrets like this doesn't do anyone any favors."
"Okay," Anna said, her voice meek.
"What are we going to do about Philip?" I asked.
"You're gonna tell me everything that happened," he said. "Then we'll contact the authorities and get that dealt with. But meanwhile, we've got another fish to fry."
"Epoch contacted me," he said. "They want to meet the Skull. In person."