Eighteen

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Eighteen

"Biologically speaking, there is a pull among Destined. Some describe it as a calling of souls. However, it's simply an evolutionary need to pass on traits and reproduce.

[Laughter from the class]

Ha-ha, I know,  I said "reproduce.""

-From Dr. Alicia McMaster's lecture on Ace Biology 102


Some people run to forget. They sprint until their muscles weaken, until their lungs turn to molten lava, until their breaths turn to sharp, heaving gasps to forget their daily lives. To semi-literally outrun their problems until another day when they've gathered themselves and their strength to face those problems head-on.

I am not one of them.

Running has been, for as long as I can remember, my way of clearing out the cobwebs in my mind. It is only during a hard run that I can take the time and lay out all the playing cards. To see what's in my hand. What I need. What other cards still lay on the board. And while my lower back is sweating and iron crawls up my throat, my mind is finally able to take the problem and rework it.

My current problem was this case. And definitely not Captain Wesley Brooks and his well of contradictions. Mr. I'm-strong-enough-to-make-the-hard-decisions-but-I-can't-possibly-give-you-what-you-asked-for-Aria-and-save-numerous-lives-that's-too-difficult.

Yeah. Wes was not a problem. Definitely not.

What bothered me most about this case was the random victim pool. In every other case I'd worked (which, honestly, wasn't too many before I went under) the victims were carefully chosen. Or the individual had a clear motive. Even if it was a standard mission Adrian Leonger sent us on they had a motive.

Sometimes Aces would meet their mates and, when their ability manifested into a physical power such as a rare form of telekinesis or pyrokinesis, they would use it as their chance to seek revenge on other Aces who'd wronged them.

I think a lot of people forget that Aces are ruled by emotions. While your Destined could help balance the general overflow of emotions, they weren't a permanent fix. If an Ace wasn't right in the head, Destined or not, they're still capable of using their gifts in a harmful way. Yet, damaging or not, each Ace had a goal, a motive as to why they'd chosen to wreak havoc on the public.

So what was the motive for this case?

The victim pool wasn't helping us answer any burning questions. In a normal case, we'd use the victims to draw similarities. Then use those similarities to figure out an "ideal target" and draw conclusions about why they'd been chosen.

Hard to do when everything in this case was random. Random victims. Random locations. Random drug combinations. Not even our techs or our lab guru's had been able to draw a solid line between them all.

I took another lap around the track, each step pounding into the grooved tread. My breaths had long since turned to gasps. I didn't stop.

What role did Musetunes play in the whole thing? It had to be significant, as we'd found that SD card at the latest crime scene. It didn't make sense. How did a website--especially one that wasn't even around when the victims first started showing up years and years ago--suddenly become a piece of the case?

And the drugs...they were all different. The only connecting link between each of our victims was the syringe found at the scene and the gruesome way they died.

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