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    Scott headed back to the office after his conversation with Needle. People booed as he flew overhead; he waved back. With Javelin more or less at a standstill until the man showed up again, he shifted to another project, brought up the New York state map and found Poughkeepsie, the address jotted down in the notes Needle had given him. No phone; according to the state records it was an abandoned industrial complex.
    "Ah, the classics never change," he murmured.
    "What is it, disused factory?" Muse inquired, presumeably out of professional interest.
    "Abandoned industrial complex, actually."
    "Even better, large tools."
    "Unlisted phone, but somehow nobody's moved in."
    Sphinx was back at work, spoke without taking his eyes off the screen. "Check local moving companies, that sort of thing, see if they've made any deliveries to the building in the last couple years. If it's disused, nothing should show up, but if they have equipment there they must have moved it somehow."
    "Thank you," Scott chirped.
    "Do you want to know what the next set of lottery numbers is going to be?"
    He settled down and went to work.

    Sunday morning. Lucky headed for church early. Few people were there.
    "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession."
    She had spoken with this priest before. He maintained his calm thoughout; he knew her, after all. She read no antipathy from his silence as she recounted the past two weeks.
    "Beyond fingering wooden beads, what can I do?" she asked after he had assigned her penance.
    "You have already started yourself on the path to forgiveness and restitution. Do not step off the path because the path has become difficult."
    "I won't," she vowed. "I just wish I knew what to say to them. To Winters, in particular."
    "Get in touch with her when she is calmer," he advised. "She will either listen to you, or she will not."
    "Thank you, Father."
    She left the confessional and knelt in a pew, praying, until Mass began. No one said anything to her directly, but she could hear the whispers in the back of the church. She ignored them, kept her eyes closed.
    Afterward she headed for Chandler's. Halfway there she noted that she was being followed. She stopped at the first convenience store on her route and picked up a pack of cigarettes. Made the watchers, in a rather nice sports car. Two normal-looking guys driving, not ones she recognized. When she left, it was a different car—a rebuilt VW bug. So this was an organized, professional effort.
    She turned a sharp corner, sped down an alley and with a few more twists, as far as they were concerned she had disappeared from the face of the earth.
    She continued on her way, keeping a better eye out now, saw nobody else. Stopped and checked the bike for tracking devices. Nothing. She parked a block away and walked the rest of the distance.
    "I'm being followed," she announced as the door closed behind her. "I lost him. I can't stay here."
    "All right, where you going to go?"
    "Where everybody else is."
    "Makes sense, may as well provide them with a unified target." He seemed grumpy.
    "If you need me..."
    "You'll know." Promethean's candle burned normally now. "Oh, here. When things start to look bad, light that." He handed her another candle. "Keep it in the palm of your hand, just let the wax drip down. Don't throw it away, it'll be hot, just deal with it.When it looks like there's no other way out, do that."
    "Thank you." She didn't ask any questions, and headed for K. Robeson Enterprises.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson