Title: Shield & Crocus
Aging superhero First Sentinel finally has a chance to overthrow the oligarchs who have ruled his city for fifty years, but it means making a bargain with his oldest enemy, a gangster who has schemed her way to the top. His team takes the offer, plotting a mission to destroy the Rebirth Engine, a machine that wracks the city with magical storms. If the team cannot turn the oligarchs against one another, they will hunt his team down and crush their rebellion.
Wonlar’s apartment was a carefully constructed ruse. Papers, schematics and yet more papers covered the floor, spotted with yard-high stacks of books, delicate arrangements of spare parts, and sealed bottles of reagents. Bookshelves filled the walls from floor to ceiling along three sides of the apartment, broken only by a closet, the hall to the bedrooms and the opening to the kitchen. Over the last twenty years, the apartment had settled into Wonlar’s image: scholarly, brilliant, and scattered.
That was the intent. His neighbors wouldn’t expect that Wonlar Gonyu Pacsa, absent-minded artificer and handyman could also be First Sentinel, leader of the Shields of Audec-Hal, the only major force standing against the rule of the oligarchs. If they thought he was barely organized enough to keep track of whose oven he had to fix by Monday and mumbled to himself incoherently, they wouldn’t ask questions about why he was up at all hours and never seemed to be around for parties.
Wonlar stood above a table, squinting to focus on the job at hand. He was approaching his seventy-first birthday, but he looked no older than any other Ikanollo. He had the same square jaw, the same high forehead, sun-yellow skin and dark brown hair. For other races, cadence and personality were most of what set Ikanollo apart, since each man looked like every other, each woman a perfect copy of one another in features and build.
Favoring his left leg, Wonlar stepped over a short pile of books on rare reagents.