|Date posted||9 June 2012|
Newter drops down from the ceiling of the mall, landing behind the girl who is carrying the vial over to Scrub's friend. She attempts to stir up a whirlwind of surrounding debris around her, but Newter quickly incapacitates her by touching her on the forehead with his hand and collects the vial she was carrying. Newter charges towards the stage where the rest of the vials are, and a large portion of the crowd vacates the middle of the room to follow him to the stage. Taylor sees this as a good opportunity to rescue Bryce, and Lisa orders Brooks and Minor to accompany Taylor.
On the stage, Skidmark uses his power to send Newter flying back through a metal railing and into the crowd. As Taylor and the soldiers make their way towards the numerous people who have been left on the floor in the wake of the brawl, Labyrinth's power begins to influence more of the mall. The exits have already been cut off, but the walls begin to further change, and stone walls burst from the floor to form a maze. Stone poles come down from the roof and provide access to the floor via sliding for Faultline, Gregor the Snail and a red haired woman Taylor doesn't recognise. Trainwreck snaps the pole the unknown woman is sliding down and then kicks a section of it out from underneath her when she manages to balance on it, sending her into the midst of Labyrinth's maze. Labyrinth attempts to elevate the case of vials up to the roof on the pillar of stone, but Skidmark pushes the case off the pillar in response. Meanwhile the woman with red hair has made an exceedingly quick escape from the maze and fires a shot that ricochets off various parts of Trainwreck's suit to seemingly reach and wound him.
With Labyrinth modifying the battlefield more with every moment passing, Taylor decides she cannot afford to take the long route of traversing the maze normally. Minor gives her and Brooks a lift to get over a wall, with Taylor explaining she can give him directions through arrows drawn with her bugs. Reaching an archway that leads out into an open area, Taylor watches Faultline cut through the legs of Trainwreck's suit and then make a dash with the other woman towards some stairs Labyrinth has raised to lead up to the stage. Taylor uses Trainwreck's affiliation to Coil to get him to subtly remove a wall that is blocking the way to Bryce and Taylor uses her bugs to search the bodies for people fitting Bryce's body type.
Fortunately, the first person Taylor decides to check turns out to be Bryce, however his hand has seemingly been caught by one of Scrub's blasts. Brooks begins tending to him, while Taylor watches 'Thomas', the only other surviving member of Bryce's new 'family', as the man slowly bleeds out from a severe slash across his upper arm and back. Taylor beings rationalising reasons to leave the man for dead, but eventually decides that she should own up to the fact she is consciously allowing him to die a painful death. She considers it the only way the 'family' could be made to suffer as Sierra requested, since the mother and daughter were killed instantly by Scrub's blasts.
Gregor the Snail engages Trainwreck in combat, passing through Labyrinth's walls using the same mechanism Labyrinth granted Skitter during the fight against Oni Lee. Meanwhile Mush is attempting to pull together a body from the surrounding trash, but is struggling to find enough due to Labyrinth having removed most of it from the battlefield. Taylor detects through her bugs that Lisa's group is close, and directs her group to a wall that they begin climbing over. Reaching the top of the wall, Taylor is able to see Faultline tricking one Merchant into a pitfall-style trap and the red haired woman casually striding up to Scrub. Despite unleashing his power in full force around him, none of the flashes hit her and she throws him off the twenty foot drop from the platform.
With some difficulty, the soldiers and Taylor manage to haul the unconscious Bryce over the wall and down to Lisa's group. Brooks and Taylor help pull Minor up and Taylor decides to wait for him to descend before moving herself. In the fighting, Faultline dispatches a merchant with a gun into a hole and Mush collapses under Gregor's slime. Realising he has lost, Skidmark sends the case of vials flying into the air as an act of spite, using his power on the inside to push the sheets of paper out of it so they scatter in the air. At Lisa's request, Taylor manages to use bugs to push a few of the sheets of paper towards her vantage point atop the wall where she grabs them before jumping down. Lisa points out that on one corner of the mall there is a shop that Labyrinth's power has not affected, since Labyrinth herself is on the roof at the other end of the mall. The group is able to make their way into the shop and break out through an emergency exit. Once they have made some distance away from the mall they lie Bryce down and call for a car so he can be transported to get proper medical attention.
Lisa and Taylor begin reading through the papers. They detail a contract with an organisation called Cauldron, who sell powers. Lisa's power informs her that the cost of powers, in the document listed as being in the range of millions of dollars, correlates with the strength and uniqueness of them. The documents also make mention of a Nemesis Program as another potential extra cost, and have some mentions of services clients must make to Cauldron, 'Deviations', and 'Subjects' who may hunt down those who break the terms of the deal.
Newter, hanging from the wall above, announces his presence by explaining that 'Subjects' is Cauldrons name for those the PRT refer to as Case 53s. He goes on to say that himself, Gregor and Shamrock were all test subjects and Shamrock was intended to be part of the one-in-five of test subjects that are retained and brainwashed to work for Cauldron as contract enforcement. Newter and Gregor had their memories removed and were released as a part of the nemesis program, although Newter doesn't yet know what it is. He explains that he followed the group after deciding Jaw reminded him of other mercenaries but was surprised to find they had taken the papers, and asks who they are. Deciding that Charlotte had already seen enough clues to work it out anyway, Taylor reveals her identity as Skitter to Newter by clustering bugs on the paper. She explains they weren't intending to get in the way of Faultline's Crew and will turn over the papers they have. Lisa offers to help cooperate on figuring the contents of the papers out and gives Newter her phone number, after which he leaves. Taylor looks at a visibly terrified Charlotte and feels dread at having to navigate the social situation with the civilians.
- First introduction to the Nemesis program.