“I can't believe that Blossom was built by that guy,” Roland muttered, looming at the back of the group with Catherine and Yousef. Ahead, Doctor Wydemere was listening intently as Oliver discussed -albeit without specifics – some of the less-classified tools in the Magisters' lab, while Blossom stood ramrod straight with a smile plastered on her mask, staying within a few steps of the doctor. “How did we not know that?”
“I knew that,” Yousef said, shrugging. Roland and Catherine turned to stare at him, and he wilted slightly. “I mean, it was sort of obvious, right? There aren't that many techno-necromancers in the United States to begin with, and most of her absorptive technology is based on Atlantean psychic designs, which was always Doctor Wydemere's specialty. She's really amazing.” He broke off. “I mean, her work is. I mean… is there a sensitive way to say that, I don't even know.”
“Why didn't you say anything?!” Roland hissed. “For God's sake, man, I was standing right there badmouthing the guy with Blossom, like, five feet away from me!”
“I was trying to,” Yousef said. “But I didn't want to interrupt.”
“Next time, interrupt!” Roland said.
“I don't understand why this wasn't in her files,” Catherine said, watching Doctor Wydemere suspiciously.
“That's simple enough,” Jack said with a smile, walking up on the group from behind. “I think we can all agree that Doctor Wydemere is a rather controversial figure. If you knew that one of his creations was to be on your team, with no other information, how would you have reacted?”
“Poorly,” Catherine admitted. “I'd have assumed that anything like that would be a loose cannon.”
“Exactly. But now we've all known her for a few months, and I think we can all agree that she's far from that.” Jack smiled. “I might even go as far as saying she's the most emotionally stable member of our group – no offense, I hope.”
“None taken,” Roland said, nodding. “The kid's a little weird sometimes, but she is reliable.”
Catherine considered that for a moment. “Does anyone else find it worrisome that the necrotic cybernetic golem is our most stable member?”
Yousef raised his hand. “Would you want a necrotic cybernetic golem to [i]not[/i] be your most stable member?”
“Point,” Catherine said. “I suppose the Director had reasons to keep this from us. But still…”
“It's a pattern,” Jack said as the front line of the procession reached the briefing room. Yousef ducked into the room ahead of the others, as Catherine nodded.
“Always,” she said with a wry smile. “I guess I should be used to it by now.” She walked into the briefing room, dropping her case on the table beside her. “So, could someone explain why we've called Doctor Wydemere away from his teaching duties? Not that I don't appreciate the help, Doctor, but I wasn't aware that investigation was one of your specialties.”
“It's not,” Doctor Wydemere confirmed, studying the last of the data as Meredith and Jason looked on. “But necromancy is, and I'm afraid that you've missed a few fundamental issues with your own analyses.”
“Really? I thought we'd covered everything,” Yousef said dejectedly.
“You did – from a scientific perspective.” Jason shook the stack of papers in his hand, and set them to one side. “Empirically, your methods were flawless. You looked for connections between the dead, evaluated any points of interest that would connect to a temporal, allegiance-based, or casual connection between the stolen corpses, and correctly deduced Doctor Croyden's goals. However, I have two rather large advantages over the lot of you. The first is that I knew Olivia extremely well, during our academy days. We were extremely close, once upon a time.”
“Lovely,” Roland muttered under his breath. “No conflicts of interest there.”
If Doctor Wydemere heard him, he didn't pay any attention. “Olivia is a pure necromancer, unlike myself. She doesn't have any grasp of pseudoscience, and is quite unable to harness psychic technology or any of the myriad tricks I've used over the years to improve myself. It's not surprising that she went rogue – necromancers are on the fringe at the best of times, as my own history attests.” He coughed, looking at the flat looks he was receiving from everyone except for Director Henry and Clover, both of whom were listening with interest, and continued. “Regardless. Your mistake was assuming that there was an empirical pattern to the crimes. Doctor Croyden is not an empiricist. The pattern is purely narrative.”
“Narrative law,” Blossom groaned softly. “Not again.”
Doctor Wydemere turned his glare on her. “I've told you to study it, Blossom, it's a critical aspect of your own nature.”
“I know, but it's just so hard.” Blossom complained.
Catherine coughed. “You were saying, Doctor?”
“Ah. Yes. Ahem.” Doctor Wydemere straightened his tie, looking around the room. “Doctor Croyden is not building a set of minions, she is building a single one. The ultimate criminal, if you will. And with that in mind, the actual skill of the deceased and state of the body is completely meaningless. It is the attached legends that she's looking for. So far, she has picked several of the best fighters in legend, along with two people renowned for their ability to evade detection and pass unnoticed – in one case, a legend that grew only after his death. The parts are there for a truly exceptional agent, provided that she has the means of animating him, and more importantly, provided that she can link them together.”
Jack looked up slowly. “She's gotten six bodies already. If she's merging them together, and using a single point as the lynchpin, it'll have to be the next one she goes after.”
“Quite,” Wydemere said with a slight nod. “And if she wants the resulting construct not to result in a Frankensteinian disaster, the controlling intelligence needs to be one whose legend is beyond reproach. The most powerful criminal organizer that she can gain access to. Controlling that legend is simple enough, for a skilled necromancer. The danger is always that other aspects will surface and shatter the connection. So. If you can determine what the most famous criminal mastermind of the American twentieth century is, you can determine exactly who she's going after.”
“Rex Mundi!” Roland said.
Wydemere's smile slipped away. “First, he is not dead. Secondly, he is located somewhere that Doctor Croyden cannot possibly get at him. And third, and I realize now that I should have led with this because you clearly don't understand in-depth narrative law, the corpse will have to be one of a non-powered individual. Powered beings have their own narrative fields, and only an idiotic necromancer would try to merge one with anything else. Olivia is not idiotic. She is creating a super, not reviving one.”
“Oh.” Roland said, crestfallen. “Right. So. Most famous crime boss in history…”
The entire room spoke at the same moment. “Al Capone.”
“Precisely,” Jason said triumphantly. “Sunday night, when the moon is at its darkest, Olivia will raid Cook County, Illinois, to defile Capone's grave and make off with his brain. If you intend to stop her, you will have to do it then.”