|Date posted||13 December 2012|
The chapter follows Defiant as he investigates and talks with Dragon about the possible goals of the Slaughterhouse Nine. Examining Dragon's archived code, he realizes she is a parahuman Tinker. She mentions a problem with Cauldron.
Armsmaster - now Defiant and still adjusting to his cybernetic limbs - is pursuing the trail of the Slaughterhouse Nine who have killed twenty two people in a small town hospital. He visits the crime scene with the local Sheriff and Dragon surreptitiously coaches him through the conversation with her, figuring out the extent of what had happened. At the end of the talk, the Sheriff asks him to execute the Slaughterhouse Nine and Defiant claims that he "damn well try."
Back in the Uther, Defiant and Dragon talk. Defiant hypotheses an account of Hookwolf's murder of the people in the hospital, something which makes Dragon uncomfortable due to his encounter with Mannequin. He claims he doesn't need Dragon to keep a closer eye on him. Officially, however, Armsmaster is still a prisoner of the Protectorate.
With Dragon still encountering issues in her code, Defiant offers to do some further work - although he expresses concern about the fact that he might do permanent damage to her. However, given that they will only have a short time before battle, he elects to perform work on his leg, integrating more technology into it. As he works, he reflects that Dragon is amusing and that the pair understand each other on a shared appreciation of efficiency and intensity. He will monitor her code for problems, just as she will monitor him for the flaws that Mannequin had hoped to make use of.
When Defiant begins to work on Dragon's code, she expresses concern about his further self-alterations and the pair almost come to a verbal fight until Defiant elects to be silent. Silently, he reflects that he regrets his actions in Brockton Bay - with both Leviathan and Skitter - but he would do them all over again.
As they reach Enfield, Defiant finds something in Dragon's code. While Dragon thinks it might be some sort of dangerous safeguard, Defiant runs a comparison against old data and comes to a startling conclusion.
Dragon is a parahuman.
When Defiant raises the point of making a note of this, just in case both of them perish against the Nine, Dragon freezes his computer system and asks him if he trusts her. When Defiant says that he does, Dragon resolves that the information should not be put where the PRT can get at it as the information risks drawing him into a new fight, with an enemy that is just as powerful as the Slaughterhouse Nine and the Endbringers.
Cauldron. When they're finished with the Slaughterhouse Nine, Dragon tells Defiant, he should ask her about Cauldron.
- Detective work rarely actually works this way but whatever.