Chapter Two

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"Someone has breached the perimeter," Asprey announced, pulling a pair of binoculars down from his eyes.

Graff looked up from his book. "You make it sound like we're in the White House or something. It's probably a salesman or a Girl Scout. Get rid of them."

Asprey ignored his brother and peered back through the window, which faced the runway leading up to the massive hangar they called home. This was definitely no salesman or little girl. The woman was still far enough away that he couldn't make out all the details, but a smallish pair of jean shorts, bright teal cowboy boots, and a flowy white blouse didn't seem like standard attire for hawking Avon or vacuum cleaners.

"She's on foot," Asprey added, searching around for a parked car or bicycle. Located as they were at the end of an abandoned airport, the only other way to get to the hangar was by teleportation. They weren't exactly on the bus route. "Why would anyone walk all the way out here?"

Graff slammed the book in his lap that time. "I don't know, Asprey. Why don't you go out there and ask? I know it might seem foreign to you, but I'm actually working over here."

"Fine," Asprey returned. "I'll forcibly remove our visitor."

He set the binoculars aside and gently rotated his shoulder. It still hurt like a bitch—he'd gotten their younger sister, Tiffany, to pop it back in two nights ago, but she'd been less of the ministering angel he'd been hoping for and more like a gleeful spectator.

"Man up, big brother," she'd said as he lay on the ground and she lifted his arm over his head. Bones and joints weren't supposed to go that way, he was sure of it. "According to Graff, the woman could have done a lot worse to you. He said she went easy. I bet she thought you were cute."

"Laugh it up, Tiffany," he'd replied. "It's easy for you to judge from the safety of your Internet cocoon back here at the lair."

At least he thought that was what he'd said. His memories were rendered slightly hazy, what with the bone-searing pain and all. He might have just been screaming.

And now he had to hold his arm at a weird angle for days, moving around like a baby bird and praying there'd be no call for any sudden movements. Experience and multiple dislocations had taught him to avoid a sling—sucking it up and getting back to life were the best ways to make the recovery period ten times shorter, since the muscles grew too stiff otherwise.

"Need some help?" Tiffany didn't glance up from her computer, which was set up along the far wall of the hangar on a long, faux-wood table like the kind housed in school cafeterias. "I'm just about done with this code."

"Sure," Asprey said. "Why don't we put you in charge of security? You can intimidate all incomers with your stature and overalls."

That got her to look up. Tiffany promptly stuck out her tongue. "I can't help that I'm short. And it's called a romper."

He laughed. "I can't remember the last time you did anything even approaching romping." For as long as he could recall, Tiffany had been attached to technology like her USB cord was some kind of umbilicus. She had the translucent skin tone and caffeine addiction to prove it.

"Can you please stop being an idiot for five minutes and go take care of our problem?" Graff asked.

"I was about to." Asprey used his stiff movements to exaggerate a swagger. "Do you think I should do slick mobster or Texas Ranger?" When Graff didn't answer right away, Asprey swiveled on one leg and pretended to pull a gun out of a holster. "Texas Ranger, I think. That thar woman won't be able to resist the ol' Asprey charm."

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