Home > Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5)(3)

Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5)(3)
Brandon Sanderson

Must have ducked into one of the side streets. I edged up to the one we’d just passed and peeked in. A shadow moved down it, away from me. I waited until it moved around the next corner, then followed at a dash. At the corner, I crouched and peeked in the direction the shadow had gone.

The man from before, in the jeans and wearing no socks, stood there looking back and forth.

Then there were two of him.

The twin figures pulled away, each heading in a different direction. They wore the same clothing, had the same gait, the same tattoos and jewelry. It was like two shadows that had overlapped had broken apart.

Oh, sparks. I pulled back around the corner, muted my mobile so the only sound it made would come through my earpiece, then held it up.

“Tia, Abraham,” I whispered. “We have a big problem.”

2

“Ah,” Tia said in my ear, “I’ve found it.”

I nodded. I was trailing one of the copies of the man. He’d already split twice more, sending clones in different directions. I didn’t think he’d spotted me yet.

“Mitosis,” Tia said, reading from my notes. “Originally named Lawrence Robert—an unusual Epic with, so far as has been identified, a unique power: he can split into an unknown number of copies of himself. You say here he was once a guitarist in an old rock band.”

“Yeah,” I said. “He still has the same look.”

“Is that how you spotted him?” Abraham said in my ear.

“Maybe.” I wasn’t certain. For the longest time, I’d been sure I could identify an Epic, even when they hadn’t manifested any powers. There was something about the way they walked, the way they carried themselves.

That had been before I’d failed to spot not only Megan, but Prof as well.

“You categorize him as a High Epic?” Tia asked.

“Yeah,” I said softly, watching a version of Mitosis idle on the street corner, inspecting the people who passed. “I remember some of this. He’s going to be tough to kill, guys. If even one of his clones survives, he survives.”

“The clones can split as well?” Abraham asked.

“They aren’t really clones,” Tia said. I heard papers shuffling on her line as she looked through my notes. “They’re all versions of him, but there’s no ‘prime’ individual. David, are you sure about this information?”

“Most of my information is partially hearsay,” I admitted. “I’ve tried to be certain where I can, but anything I write should be at least a little suspect.”

“Well, it says here that the clones are all connected. If one is killed, the others will know it. They have to recombine to gain one another’s memories, though, so that’s something. And what’s this? The more copies he makes …”

“The dumber they all get,” I finished, remembering now. “When he’s one individual, he’s pretty smart, but each clone he adds brings down the IQ of all of them.”

“Sounds like a weakness,” Abraham said over the line.

“He also hates music,” I said. “Just after becoming an Epic, he went around destroying the music departments of stores. He’s known to immediately kill anyone he sees walking around wearing headphones or earbuds.”

“Another potential weakness?” Abraham said over the line.

“Yeah,” I said, “but even if one of those works, we still have to get each and every copy. That’s the big problem. Even if we manage to kill every Mitosis we can find, he’s bound to have a few versions of himself scattered out there, in hiding.”

“Sparks,” Tia said. “Like rats on a ship.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Or glitter in soup.”

Tia and Abraham fell silent.

“Have you ever tried to get all of the glitter out of your soup?” I demanded. “It’s really, really hard.”

“Why would there be glitter in my soup in the first place?” Abraham asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe the other boys dumped it in there. Does it matter? Look, Tia, is there anything else in the notes?”

“That’s all you have,” Tia said. “I’ll contact the other lorists and see if anyone has anything more. David, continue observation. Abraham, make your way back to the government offices and quietly put them on lockdown. Get the mayor and her cabinet into the safe cells.”

“You going to call Prof?” I asked softly.

“I’ll let him know,” she replied, “but he’s hours away, even if we send a copter for him. David. Don’t do anything stupid.”

“When have I done anything stupid?” I demanded.

The other two grew silent again.

“Just try to curb your natural eagerness,” Tia said. “At least until we have a plan.”

A plan. The Reckoners loved to plan. They’d spend months setting up the perfect trap for an Epic. It had worked just fine when they’d been a shadowy force of aggressors, striking, then fading away.

But that wasn’t the case anymore. We had something we had to defend now.

“Tia,” I said, “we might not have time for that. Mitosis is here today; we can’t spend months deciding how to bring him down.”

“Jon isn’t near,” Tia said. “That means no jackets, no tensors, no harmsway.”

That was the truth. Prof’s Epic powers were the source of those abilities, which had saved my life many times in the past. But if he got too far away, the powers stopped working for those he’d gifted them to.

“Maybe he won’t attack,” Abraham said, puffing slightly as he spoke into the line. He was probably jogging as he made for the government building. “He could just be scouting. Or perhaps he is not antagonistic. It is possible that an Epic merely wants a nice place to live and will not cause problems.”

“He’s been using his powers,” I said. “You know what that means.”

We all did, now. Prof and Megan had proven it. If Epics used their powers, it corrupted them. The only reason Prof and Edmund didn’t go evil was because they didn’t use their powers directly. Giving them away filtered the ability somehow, purified it. At least, that was what we thought.

“Well,” Abraham said, “maybe—”

“Wait,” I said.

Down the way, Mitosis strode out onto the steel street, then reached back to take out a handgun he’d had tucked into the waistband of his jeans. Large-caliber magnum—far from the best of guns. It was a weapon for someone who had seen too many old movies about cops with big egos. It could still kill, of course. A magnum could do to a person’s head what a street could do to a watermelon dropped from a helicopter. My breath caught.

“I’m here,” Mitosis shouted, “for the one they call Steelslayer, the child who supposedly killed Steelheart. For every five minutes it takes him to reveal himself, I will execute a member of this population.”

3

“Well,” Abraham said over the line, “guess that answers that.”

“His clones are saying it all over the city,” Tia said. “The same words from all of them.” I cursed, ducking back into my alley, gripping my rifle tight and sweating.

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