The False Hearts cell called Eagle Crowned has been defeated. All six members are in holding cells, their interrogations proceeding apace.
Meanwhile, our Overed heroes are participating in school activities. With the Homecoming Formal only a few weeks away, they travel to Cougar Mountain State Park to take part in the Redwood Festival, celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. While viewing the great redwood called Endymion, Phaedra’s friend Asher collapses with an asthma attack—and he’s not the only one!
When the agents arrive at the hospital, they find roughly one in five or six students on the field trip have been afflicted with severe allergic responses, including Asher who is suffering from anaphylaxis. Some of the students also appear to be suffering toxic shock, and well over a hundred people from across Bellevue have been brought to the hospital suffering similar symptoms.
Edward calls headquarters to request that Leviathan use his position to begin an official investigation into the incident. Booger confirms that there is a Renegade connection when he uses his superhuman senses to analyze the pollen samples at the molecular level, determining that the pollen acts as a carrier for an active strain of the virus. Mysteriously, it begins to break down quickly, suggesting that the viral strain is weak for the moment.
A pair of bullies push around Charles in the halls. He’s unwilling to lash out at them, though he continues to use his powers to play mean-spirited pranks. Carrie takes offense at their treatment of her teammate, and uses her Balor powers to transport them back to Cougar Mountain—alone. She then suggests calling home and lying about a quarantine so that none of them have to go home overnight; Phaedra declines to lie, and Carrie seems surprised when Kunihiko tells her that he’ll call Tadashi soon.
Phaedra has to go home, leaving Kunihiko to watch over Asher. At the Waverly mansion, Nikolas’ mother Regina is meeting with Phaedra’s mother. Regina asks if Phaedra has seen her son, as he’s been missing for several weeks now. At first, she thought it was just another one of his tantrums, but now she’s really worried. Phaedra says she hasn’t heard from him, and Regina leaves in tears. Phaedra’s mother accuses her of lying and “running off” the first nice boy who’s been interested in her since she was “mutilated.” Phaedra seethes enough to smart off to her mother, which her mother takes offense at.
Kunihiko sees his cousin Hanako talking to an older woman, who Hanako calls “Mika-onee.” Kunihiko claims to not know her, which surprises Hanako; when he presses for more information, she tells him that she wished he would show as much interest in his own cousin as a stranger.
Edward has had to lie to Alex yet again about his reasons for staying out all night, and it’s clearly eating at him—as well as the revelation that his mother is trying to get hold of him for something “important.”
In the morning, Charles, Carrie, and Kunihiko head out to the state park to look for clues while Edward, Booger, and Phaedra make a visit to headquarters to ask some questions. It’s looking like this is a definite ploy by False Hearts, but do the captured cell members know anything about it?
Edward decides to single out Strong Root for information, since she seems like she has a vested interest in plants. The girl seems horrified by the idea that someone would tamper with plant life to make it produce Renegade spores, and under Edward’s pheromone compulsions, she lets slip that she heard something about a pharmaceutical lab that was connected to their organization. Investigation shows several companies that could fit the profile, including an allergy research lab outside Bellevue. Phaedra wants to talk to Sunday’s Child, but she can’t quite work herself up to doing it alone.
At the state park. the others almost literally run into Erik Dempsey, one of the two boys who were transported by Carrie to the woods, as he’s being chased down by a horrific gjaum monster. They leap out of the car and into battle, using their powers against the freakish thing, when it puts up a warding field to keep Erik from escaping. They manage to defeat it, and it starts undergoing the same rapid degradation as the Renegade spores from the hospital. Kunihiko wards Erik back into unconsciousness and they call in reinforcements.
When Edward and the others arrive, the teacher uses his Solaris powers to wipe Erik’s memory of the last several hours, though he can’t manage to wash away the entire last day. They send Erik off toward the CDC agents at the park’s entrance and decide to keep an eye out for Jack, the other missing boy, while they continue investigating.
Kunihiko notices some unusual radio signals in the area, and Booger’s heightened senses allow him to backtrack the gjaum to the point it attacked Erik. In a nearby waterfall, they find a mysterious device that seems to be taking air and water samples before transmitting the information back to a relay point. Continued investigation finds a hidden cell phone tower broadcasting packets of encrypted information. The traceback reveals that the information is going to a cell phone tower near Ballard Allergen Research, the lab that was under suspicion by the UGN.
Desperate for sleep and normal human contact, Edward decides to go home and grab some quick rest, allowing the students to investigate the lab on their own. He makes clear that they’re only to investigate the area, not to confront any forces that might be there. While the students agree, who knows what the future holds for the young Overed…
…to be continued…