“Cecil, who was clapping. I was glad that he seemed to be approving of my nomination.
Thus, after officially placing the crown upon Rona’s head and telling Cecil that he would be her advisor from now on, I stayed for a little longer to
watch the interaction between Rona and her new people as they mingled and introduced themselves. And then I felt that my job here was done.
We could finally return to The Shade.
e n
W e waited with Eli for the next half hour, and once he’d finished editing the footage, he transferred it to a thumb drive along with the unedited reel
and placed it in a backpack. Then we returned to the Sanctuary to see how much progress Corrine and Dr. Finnegan—and Shayla, who had
joined them—had made in creating more of the antidote. We didn’t need a lot initially, just one backpack’s worth of tubes.
The witches and the scientist had it already prepared and distributed into tubes when we showed up. Corrine placed them in Eli’s backpack, along
with syringes.
“Aisha is figuring out some storage solutions for the antidote,” Corrine said, “while Dr. Finnegan works to create more with Safi. So if you’re
ready, let’s fetch Lawrence.”
We headed to my daughter’s room in the hospital, where we found Lawrence sitting with her. Lawrence hadn’t attended the meeting in the Dome,
so I explained to him our plan now and asked if he would come with us. Given that he had such an intimate connection with the IBSI, his presence
was important to our plan, so I was relieved when he agreed to come… Though I hadn’t exactly expected him to refuse. He was doing this for his
mother as much as for the rest of the world.
I kissed my daughter’s cheeks and hugged her goodbye before we left her alone, taking Lawrence to the Port. Standing on the jetty, we went over
what we had discussed in the Great Dome earlier to make sure we were all on the same page, and then we departed by magic.
Once our feet touched the ground again, we were standing on a long, broad street at the foot of a gray-tinted glass building that spanned thirteen
floors. We were in a protected residential area of Chicago, the other side of the wall that marked the boundary of Bloodless territory.
This building was Chicago’s primary broadcasting station—one of America’s primary stations, too, and probably the most heavily influenced by
the IBSI’s agenda. It was only a few miles away from the IBSI’s headquarters itself. Lights glowed in the windows on most floors. Leaving the
others, I thinned myself and entered the plush reception room in search of a map of the building. It wasn’t difficult to find. I found one pinned up
against the wall opposite the reception desk.
I soon verified that the tenth floor was where we needed to head. I returned to my companions and informed them, before the witches transported
us up through the building.
We arrived outside of an elevator, which led us to the entrance of a glass-walled room that spanned the entire floor. It was filled with people milling
about, scattered desks, phones and computers, and at the far end were cameras and other recording equipment, along with a studio setup.
Nobody had noticed us yet and nobody would… until it was too late.
I gripped the handle of the door and pushed it wide open for us to step inside.
The noise of the door drew eyes in our direction but before anyone could react, Shayla and Corrine sent paralyzing curses bounding about the
room, until everyone had been frozen in their positions.
We moved deeper inside, gazing around at everybody’s stunned faces—they were particularly shocked to see Lawrence.
“We mean you no harm,” I spoke up, “but we have something to show you. Something that you all must watch.”
Eli withdrew the thumb drive from his backpack while my eyes settled on a large screen that extended across an entire wall.
“Would somebody set up this screen for us?” I asked, lifting up the thumb drive.
Corrine lifted the spell from one of the men standing near us, and as he regained control over his limbs, he immediately darted for the door. I ran
after him and grabbed him, holding him back.
“Please,” I told him firmly.”