Chapter 134 – Reporting From St. Louis
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Stacy spun her hand in a hurry-up gesture at her cameraman as they plunged into the mass of bodies milling about Gateway Arch Memorial Park. The authorities had not yet managed to set up barricades, so she intended to take full advantage of the window that provided her. She eyed each individual in the crowd, trying to picture how an interview with them would present. This segment would make the national news. If she played it up in the right way, it might make it into the history books. That nobody Tara McKinney had become a star news anchor after interviewing Stateira Cassandane and Mike Dombroski, so Stacy had high hopes for her career if this went well. She just needed to get her interviews before the freshly arrived police and federal agents forced her out of the area.

"This one," Stacy called back to Brad as she swerved in front of a large black man. Brad fiddled with the camera and gave her the thumbs-up. "Hello, could you tell me what is happening here?" Didn't introduce myself. Crap. Now my name won't be part of the clip.

The man beamed at the camera. "Hey there, America. This is Lawrence Jones. I was a volunteer for the Angmari Fleet from the San Francisco recruitment drive. I've been on the Angelship for the past few months working in a sewage plant. They used mind control so we wouldn't complain or try to escape, but it wasn't all bad." The man patted his belly. "I actually lost a lot of weight eating healthy."

Stacy's smile grew ever more fake as the man's effeminate mannerisms detracted from the serious vibe she had planned. "Why did the Angmari bring you back?"

"There is some politics happening up there, let me tell you. Half of the Angmari are pretty much a cult who worships Torrent Hafnym. That man can do no wrong according to his people. The other half are freaking out because they don't have enough talents to last the trip to another solar system. They finally decided to attune all of us Americans, or as they like to call us, English, so that hopefully some of us will stay and help out the Fleet. From what I hear, barely anyone decided to stay after being treated like we were."

The interview may have just been salvaged. "So you are saying that everyone the Angmari brought down here has been attuned to precursor and can use talents?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm . . . . How do you know about precursor?"

"An Angmari dissenter has formed an independent army dedicated to the protection of the Earth and begun attuning and training the armed forces of the planet."

"Whoa," Larence said. "I don't know if that's such a great idea."

"There have been several terrorist attacks by groups with access to the talents," Stacy said. "The Earth Defense Army has been instrumental in defending America against those."

From the corner of her eye, Stacy saw a brown-skinned man retreating from the wall of police. He glanced around with frantic desperation before making eye contact with Lawrence, who harrumphed quite loudly. "What's your name, reporter lady?"

"Stacy Young."

"Do me a favor, Stacy Young? That boy over there? His name is Diego Soto. He's a bit concerned about the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is on the scene, if you get my meaning. Could you get his name out there so that he doesn't disappear into detention or get deported? Diego is a paragon and a good kid, so he deserves a break."

"I would love to talk to him," Stacy said. Paragon. She couldn't be sure of how many paragons were on American soil, but she suspected they could be counted on one hand.

Lawrence bellowed and waved at the kid. "Hey, Diego, get over here and talk to the reporter!"

Diego approached warily, eyes darting back towards the slowly advancing line of law enforcement officers.

Lawrence patted the kid on the shoulder. "You're the only paragon, right, Diego?"

"I think so. No one else in my group attuned to all the talents."

"What do you plan on doing with your power?" Stacy held the microphone towards his face, eager for whatever his answer would be.

"I don't know," Diego said, "I just want to be left alone."

"Would you be interested in joining the US armed forces? Or perhaps the EDA?"

"Umm . . . I don't think so. And I don't even know what the EDA is."

"The Earth Defense Army is an organization that defends the planet from threats using the talents. Some of their members stopped a terrorist attack in New York City and caught the Empire State Building."

Diego blinked at the camera. "Caught? You mean it was falling over?"

"It was uprooted and thrown like a spear," Stacy said.

Diego's mouth opened and closed a few times. "I've got to go."

As the brown-skinned kid ran away, Lawrence turned a flat expression towards the camera. "There is no stage presence in that one."

Stacy only had to hide her expression of dismay for a moment before she was distracted by the descent of another Angmari shuttle.

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