When Kara finally got back to 17, Lancaster Road, she was still thinking about what Ryan had told her. That might have been why she didn’t notice the entire place milling with PRADA agents at first. She got out of her car to take a closer look. The great metal doors of the building had been busted open and the Gothic archway looked damaged. Sparks were flying around inside the building, gentle flashes as broken lights and equipment tried to keep illuminated. Almost in a daze, Kara walked towards the entry wordlessly. Fred caught up with her, walking through the rubble.
“Where have you been, Ms. Freeson? We tried to get through to you.”
Kara didn’t respond, her eyes still on the broken doors.
Fred’s voice coaxed a response out of her.
“I was at Forensics. Underground. I was …busy with something. What happened here?” The shock in her voice was evident. Fred had the feeling he was listening to an automaton.
“We’ve been attacked.”
“What had the nerve to attack PRADA headquarters?!”
Kara knew she might not want to know the answer to that.
“We don’t know…It…it got away. But it caused a lot of damage before it left.”
Something in Fred’s tone brought Kara back to her senses.
“Is my father okay?”
Fred didn’t meet her eyes, but he continued to talk.
“Nobody’s really been killed, except the… We’re not really sure about your father, he’s okay, unconscious, but okay, we think.”
“What happened to him? And who’s been killed?”
Fred hesitated for a minute, before saying, “Look, come on inside. This could take a while.”
Kara was struck by the level of destruction inside the PRADA building. Several rooms looked like they had turned to debris. Files, computers, servers, cabinets, holding stations all lay strewn on the floor, in several mangled pieces. PRADA agents were lying on the floor as well, some of them buried under the rubble, rescue agents escorting others out in blankets and on stretchers. And here and there, she saw the black leather uniform of a Spirit Soldier lying prostrate on the ground.
“My God! What could do this?”
“It gets worse. Whatever it was, it knew exactly where our Spirit Soldier controller units were. Those were what it destroyed first. Our surveillance was killed too; the cameras seem to have malfunctioned. We’re still trying to retrieve some of the data that was directly beamed to storage. Every Spirit Soldier that came within striking distance of it, dropped dead.”
“Dead? It killed the Spirit Soldiers?!”
“We don’t even know how. There were no signs of violence on their bodies. Almost no eyewitnesses. Most of our agents never even knew what happened.”
“You don’t even know how it killed them?!” Kara’s voice was almost screeching with incredulosity.
Fred replied uneasily, “No…but I have a theory. There’s only two ways to kill a Spirit Soldier. The first is to completely disintegrate the body, or in some way to stop all its bodily functions.”
Kara had heard that phrase earlier tonight, and she knew there had to be a connection.
“The other is a little more complex. We need to attack the spirit. Overload a Spirit Soldier beyond Critical Spirit Mass. It would cause instant expulsion of the Dark Energy, a spirit-bleeding so to speak.”
“A bullet wound made of Dark Energy?!” Kara asked, barely able to continue walking while processing all this information.
“Something like that. My guess is that these Spirit Soldiers had more Dark Energy injected into them somehow, exceeding their Critical Spirit Mass. That would explain a lot of things.”
“But Fred,” Kara’s eyebrows scrunched together as she thought of something. “No one even knows Dark Energy exists, let alone how to use it.”
“Exactly, all the more reason to think this was an inside job.”
Kara’s eyes widened as realisation dawned on her.