Miles away, as Cylee and Mitzi were releasing a few dozen mice into an alley, Wes was waking up.

For a few moments he lay there, eyes still closed, and mind clear. These moments were rare, but when they happened he treasured them. Any second now IT would realize he was awake and would take over. Wes wondered if he was really this person, the calm, grounded person, or that person, the one that everyone knew as “Wes” these days. He knew it didn’t really matter, either way, when he got out of bed, he’d be under “IT’s influence and he’d be that guy. In his mind, when his mind was clear like this, he was “Wes” and that person was “Watt”.

He opened his eyes and felt IT slam into his consciousness like a red hot tide. Fury, at once flaming hot and also tightly focused, flooded his mind. All quiet woolgathering was over. This is who he was, a being of purpose, cunning, and unstoppable energy. He dismissed the idle, weak thoughts he’d had while waking up.

A notice popped up in his HUD. “Cassandra calling…”

He answered, vocally. “Yes, General Vance?”

“We’ve located Zero. It’s definitely her. So far she seems compliant but we may need you to assist of things start to go otherwise. Start brushing up on her combat techniques. See if you can figure out ways to constrain her without injury. Not your style, I know, but it might be necessary this time.”

“Very well. Anything else?”

“Not at the moment. Stay where we can find you. Vance out.”

Wes got out of bed, ran a hand through his curly brown hair and began his stretches for the morning. Zero was back, huh. A new note of jealousy worked itself into the heavy metal rock opera that was the permanent accompaniment of Wes’ thoughts. Zero had always been their leader, back in the PEF days. But then, back then, they’d just been soldiers. Now Wes had IT, and Zero didn’t. Also it seemed like one of the scientists had told him that IT was a super-version of something they had injected into Zero.

Also, she had that knife. He’d remember that, and be sure to tie her wrists with something she couldn’t cut.

This was going to be fun.