“You okay?” she asked.
Sam nodded, trying to catch their breath.
“She’s… not human,” they gasped. “Jeannette.”
“I’m inclined to agree,” Frederica replied. “Let’s go see Magh and—”
Sam shook their head.
“No,” they said. “Not alien. Something… else.”
“How can you tell?” Frederica asked.
“I… felt it.” Sam took a deep breath and stood up straight. “That woman is not human, not alien, not even alive. She’s a machine. A goddamn robot.”
“Trust me, I’m having as hard a time wrapping my head around it as you are,” Sam said. “But I know what I felt. Underneath the skin, Jeanette’s made of metal.”
“Shit,” Frederica muttered. “So—”
Her phone rang. Nila’s number. She answered it.
“Please tell me you got out of there,” Nila said.
“Yeah, we’re safe,” Frederica said. “Where are you?”
“At a bus stop down the street,” Nila said. “Trying to act casual.”
“We’ll be right there.”
Frederica turned away from Sam and gestured for them to climb onto her back. Then she flew down to a bus shelter a block from Alois Electronics. The building was on lockdown, heavy steel shutters blocking the entrance, but there was no sign of police.
“Okay, what the hell happened?” Nila asked.
As they walked briskly away, Frederica and Sam filled Nila in on what the hell happened. She was quiet for a while afterward, thinking things over.
“Thermal vision,” she said finally.
“What?” Frederica asked.
“That’s probably how she saw you,” Nila said. “She picked up your heat signatures on infrared. This tech is years ahead of anything I’ve seen. There’s a few robot superheroes and supervillains out there but nothing as lifelike as you’re describing.”