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A Darklight Burning Brightly
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 11:46
Baltimore, Maryland, Alt 459 ft
People talk about having choices all the time, or doing the 'right thing', I keep trying not to go off on their pointy little heads, looking back on it all I never really had choice until all my choices had been made for me. I'm pretty much over that now but I still find myself thinking about that in the oddest times, like now.
Another bolt of energy just missed me as I swerved, the 'hero' behind me let loose another bolt of solid light that came closer this time all the while yammering out what I thought was standard Heroic Idiot Speech Number 2, otherwise known as the 'Halt Evildoer and fight me fairly so I can make some more stupid poses and speeches.', I think this idiot was LazerHawk, or was it Sun Hawk, no wait Light Bird, hmm Lazer Bird?
The worse part was I'd already thought of half dozen ways to stop the Photon Pigeon behind me, ranging from humane to murderous with a few stops at humorous along the way. Only thing keeping me from turning around and KFC'ing this idiot was the fact I'm not a supervillian, my mother was, I just inherited her baggage. Mom's baggage is not the carry-on baggage, hell it's not a steamer trunk of baggage, it's a fucking shipping container, hell it's a ship's worth of containers worth of baggage. It was at that point that one of those 'no choice' choices happened, I 'knew' that Captain Chicken Brain was about let loose again and that I could dodge, but that fucking idiot hadn't bothered to check his line of sight this time, if I dodged, in front of me was very nice industrial park, with a very nice tank farm. I'd like to say I did the heroic thing and took the shot like 'proper' hero but mostly running through my mind was two things, one, how could this moron be be this stupid, and second, I had waited too long to dodge and this was going to hurt.
I have no clear memory of the next few seconds, if you want the details I'd suggest YouTube, some idiot was filming this on his cellphone. I'm sorry but if you see two superpowered types fighting in the air near a tank farm filled full of gas, with one of them firing big honking lasers and you are using that phone to film the fight and not dialing 911 while attempting to break the land speed record away from the fight, you wont get sympathy from me, you'll get a do-it-yourself castration kit so you can save the human race the horror of you passing your genes on. Ok you want the details, I'll admit I've seen the vid, the Dynamic Dodo smacked me good, I dropped into the parking lot where the trucks were parked, right through a tanker truck and about four feet into the pavement. A few things saved my life at that point, mostly my force field, also I'm a lot tougher than I look. It has nothing to do with fact I seem to have, ahem, 'developed' the classic super babe body and therefore have extra 'padding' to absorb the impact as my roommate keeps saying. Like she's one to talk about extra padding...no I'm not jealous trust me on that one.
Anyways a bit latter most the world stops doing some kind of improve tap dance on my head, my body cuts in at that point to inform me that in no uncertain terms that payment for that stunt will be due shortly with compound interest if not compound fractures when my brain reboots. I become aware of several ugly things, one I'm in the tangled wreckage of tanker truck, two the crater that I'm currently lying in is full of fuel, three the idiot that shot me is hovering nearby, doing some kind of victory speech, Christ didn't this idiot ever shut up, I thought only supervillians had Diedrick's Syndrome. So in the middle of his garble about the forces of justice, truth and stupidity he notices me getting up painfully from the wreckage.
“And the Golden Raspberry for horrible monologue and total stupidity goes to the idiot floating in front of me.” I said through clenched teeth to avoid screaming from the pain, then I swear the idiot looked behind him to see who I was talking about!
In sober retrospect maybe taunting him while standing up to your thighs in gasoline wasn't my best move, because as soon as he figured out I was talking about him Laser Brain spun back and opened fire. I 'saw' the energy gather just before he shot, it gave me enough time to seriously gather my concentration to slam up the toughest shield I could. The fuel didn't explode it just caught fire VERY fast, once I was sure that roast teen aged super chick was not going to happen I started drawing power from fire into my shield, then into me to keep me alive and breathing, still good with no bad effects like burning flesh, I then pulled more power and sent it into my body. Various hurts started to fade, then a massive spike of pain flared from my shoulder and that was that, now back at 100%. I'm sure Mom would have been able to do all that without even worrying, hell she'd gone more than a few rounds with Lady Astarte and her crew back in the 80's, but while I have most of her abilities I don't have her skill or raw power, yet.
So I'm back in fighting shape but in a burning tanker truck park, with storage tanks all around, first priority stop the fires, second stop this idiot from destroying the city trying to stop me since I haven't done anything wrong other than be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Step one, I reached out feeling the energy around me and pulled it in towards me. I rarely do this, it's not one of my usual tricks, but it does give quite the buzz, like your first few beers, uh, not that I know what that is like, I'm still 16, way to young to be drinking. Anyways that snuffed the fires fast, I kept at it draining, pulling the heat out as well to prevent flare ups. While I did that Laser Something's jaw was dropping.
“You can't do that I defeated you!” He said.
I made a mental note that he said 'defeated' not arrested, stopped or any other more sensible word choices, so he's talker and nut job great.
“Look Laser Brain let's stop this before you do something I can't fix, I surrender, take me in...” My attempt a being reasonable ended in mid concession.
“YOU ARE TRYING TO TRICK ME YOU FOUL MONSTER!” With that bit of incredible delusional deduction he opened fire again.
This time I was better prepared for him, I thrust my hand out, wisps of dark energy coming from it, as I concentrated on the space the beam that he was firing on me and watched as the beam scattered away before even getting close. That didn't have my hoped for effect, all that made him do was fire more shots at me all the while screaming various 'heroic' cliches.
“Stop this you idiot I'm trying to surrender here, arrest me you...” at that point I missed blocking one of his shots and staggered as the beam of coherent light slammed into me and bounced me off of the lip of crater I was still standing in. Not fun, Laser Brain seeing an advantage got off several more shots, they hurt a lot, energy is easier for me to handle but his shots were a type of solid energy that was giving me fits. I drew on the energy from the distant hot spots from the fire to keep healing as I spat out mouthful of blood and hoped I didn't break anything that I can't repair.
Rather than buy into his cliché superhero vs. supervillian delusion by trying to come up with something witty to say I just returned fire in very restrained way. I concentrated and formed a bubble of dark matter around him, there that should keep him out of my way...
Trying to describe the pain as this guy blew through my creation is like trying to describe a migraine to someone that never had one. A bolt of pure pain tore through my skull, I tried to keep from screaming but the scream tore it's way past my teeth. I dropped to my knees trying stay conscious the pain was slowly fading, just about the same time as Laser Strike fired into me. My last thought before darkness clubbed me down was, I knew I'd remember his name sooner or later.
Ok I was alive, that is always nice to wake up to. I opened my eyes, off white tile, institutional standard, smell of chemicals, ok wild guess hospital, I hate hospitals there is nothing worse than being in a hospital. Then I noticed a few other things, nothing felt normal, ok you say you are in hospital things shouldn't be normal, but that was the thing I felt normal, for the first time since I 'inherited' my mom's powers I felt normal normal, well mostly, there where a few things that still felt off. Second was the very fancy restraints, very fancy high tech restraints. Third was the two heavily armed and armored figures, wearing the black version of the MCO battle dress with very large guns pointing in my direction.
Ok this takes waking up in hospital to a new low I thought, “Hello? Can someone tell me what is going on?” I said. Nothing. A few other attempts at communication failed, the Sphinx was more talkative, uh, the Sphinx in Egypt, not the superhero down in Memphis. Time passed, then time went around the block and passed me again. I amused myself by counting the holes in the ceiling tiles, that didn't help much.
Finally the door clanked open, metal high security door in the MCO and it clanks open? The maintenance section must be another fan of bad cliches. The man that stepped in was bland, bit above average height, medium build, brown hair couldn't see his eyes because even inside a building he was wearing sunglasses, dark blue suit, red tie.
“Ok you must be Agent Jones since you definitely aren't Will Smith, how about letting me out of here.”
His expression didn't change much just hint of a scowl, “You aren't funny mutant. You attacked bank with your team, then when a local vigilante showed up you attacked a petroleum storage site to cover your escape. We are calling it a terrorist act, so understand you have no rights, so get used to it and keep your mouth shut freak.”
I was quiet for few seconds trying to process the utter madness of his statement. “Ok that is ridiculous, I was at the bank yes, but to make withdrawal, a legal withdrawal from my own accounts when the bank was attacked. I did nothing except following the robbers orders until Laser Strike attacked the bank and he then attacked me, so yes I ran at that point to get my ass out of the line of fire, and to keep the casualties to minimum. Laser Strike pursued me and wasn't being too careful about his aim. I took a shot from him rather than have that shot go into the tank farm. Then while I'm laying there he opens fire and ignites the wreckage, I snuff that to prevent it from spreading, all the while trying to surrender.” I snapped back with some heat.
The MCO goon gave a hint of a smile, “Even if you are correct in every detail, that matters how? It is our version of events that is the public record, you and your version will never see the light of day.”
That chilled me, this guy was talking about killing me, all of sudden all the crazy conspiracy stories about the MCO rushed to the forefront of my brain. No way was I going to be dumped in some MCO death camp while this bastard gloated...Wait a minute...The fear in my brain receded a bit as logic and common sense began to return.
“Nice try Agent 'Jones', scare the poor frightened girl into attempting to escape, then have her shot in the process, that way no awkward questions get asked. If you really had everything neatly tied up, why did I even wake up? You could have kept me unconscious until someone blew my brains out or 'accidently' gave wrong dose of anesthetic to the prisoner.” I gave 'Jones' a wicked grin, and made buzzing sound, “We are sorry your application for the MCO Senior Gestapo position has been rejected due to you being outwitted by 16 year old.”
I like to think I got some kind of reaction from him, he had a really good poker face. All he did was just make motion to the two stormtroopers and they all left. Just like that they left. They left me all alone in that room. I found out afterwards that I was in that room for six days after I woke up. The lights in the room would turn off and on in random pattern, like wise food and the, ahem, facilities would be provided at random times. I think they were also using sonics on the room because I was very quickly going crazy. Well I like to think was sonics or drugs, but at the end of it I was basket case, and it was my own mind that was making me crazy. Those six days felt 6 months by the end of it I was so strung out I would done anything to make stop.
The lights went on and two of the MCO goons marched in, grabbed me and half dragged me out, they didn't respond to my babbling or pleas they just dragged me into large shower stall. There was two more troopers waiting for me to arrive, one of just cut the johnny shirt that was the only clothing I had off of me and turned a fire hose on me, the other two cleaned me up with floor brushes and somekind of harsh soap.
One of them spoke, “See you guys can train a mutie freak,” He hit me in the stomach with the handle of brush he was holding, “Just like any other stray bitch you have show 'em who's boss.” With that he stepped forward, “Hold her up, get her arms.” Two of his buddies held me up by my arms. My toes couldn't even touch the concrete floor, he held the floor brush in front of my face, his thumb running over the stiff bristles, “We have to get you cleaned up freak, make you look all nice an pretty, don't want you looking looking nasty, can't have you telling any wild stories about us, not that anyone would believe you freak, but orders are orders.” He made several sniffing sounds, “You really stink mutie, we're going to fix that.” With that he forced the brush between my legs and scoured my groin, the more I screamed and tried to twist away the more he attacked me with it, when he was done he tossed me against the far wall and turned the fire hose on me. He just laughed as I huddled under the painful spray and yelled to his friends, “She must like it, she's all wet and begging boys.” The others just laughed at his joke.
“She, it, whatever looks at little rough around the edges.” This was one of the others, the first time he'd spoke since this began.
The leader responded, “Your right, but we can get her fixed up fast. Mutie's file says that she can absorb energy, helps her heal.” He turned and spoke to one of the ones in the back, “Go get her medical supplies.” One of them left quickly. While they waited for the other guy to return they amused themselves with the odd kick, they quickly got bored when all I did was just curl up and whimper. The whimpers turned to screams when the 'medical' supplies arrived, a car battery charger and jumper cables. I found out over the next hour that I still could absorb energy to heal, not much, and the extra energy HURT.
The phone rang.
John Bane looked at it with no expression on his face, picked it up on the third ring, “Yes?” His voice lacked expression just like his face.
“Yes sir, I see, I will resolve the situation.” he paused looking at the collage of horror in front on him. “Of course sir, I'll be leaving in approximately 5 minutes. Any other instructions sir? Very good sir.” The phone was placed carefully back in it's cradle, as Bane quietly rose from his seat, quickly leaving the room he walked briskly to the elevator and past it, opening the stairwell door he took the stairs two at a time up to the ground floor. Exiting the building and reaching his personal vehicle he was on the road to his destination in 4 minutes 43 seconds he noted.
He didn't care about the looks that he got on his way out, it wasn't relevant to his assignment, but everyone that worked with him knew 'that' look and quietly wondered what dire event had stirred the monster from his lair. They didn't feel pity or concern for the object of their boss's attention, if someone was a target that needed that level of attention they deserved their fate and then some. Some may spared a moment of sympathy for anyone standing between their boss and his target.
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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I just curled up on the bed, the pain from my 'shower' had faded, at least the physical pain. The mental pain was still there, I wondered if I can go that again, God I hoped not. Unlike most of my peers I had no illusions about violence and death, what happened to my sister Val, and my Mom had cured that, but I was disturbed, no shaken to my core about how easy it was to break me. I had always thought that I was made out stronger stuff. I wasn't, how much of my bravado was ignorance or my relying on my abilities to keep me safe? I never wanted any of this, it was always Val that dreamed of this life, so why me? I tried to hold back the tears, then I tried to stop sobbing, then I tried not to totally meltdown, I failed.
Right in the middle of my meltdown the door opened and Agent 'Jones' walked in with his goon squad. “Get up mutie.” He snarled at me, when I didn't move he motioned to his men and they hauled me off of the cot I was curled up on. Both of them hit me few times, when I just huddled on the floor a few kicks where swiftly delivered, one boot crashed into my face breaking my nose, all I could do was just lie there and hope it ended.
“Shit Tingley now we have to fix that thing up.” Snarled 'Jones'. He stepped out of the room for few minutes coming back with what looked like beefed-up cattle prod I just whimpered and tried to get away, two of the guards slammed me against the wall and pinned me there while 'Jones' applied the prod to my face.
“Take your medicine mutie.” Was all he said as he repeatedly struck me in face. It hurt much worse than my sessions with the battery charger earlier, and it seemed to last forever. Finally it stopped but I just laid on the floor and tried make the world go away, no such luck. 'Jones' men grabbed me upright and dragged me out the room, my toes not even touching the floor. A few twists and turns led to a standard interview/interrogation room in a distant way I noticed the smell of new paint and bleach. My hand cuffs were locked to the table and someone did something to the collar device that I guessed was effecting my powers. The room kinda faded out bit as I just grew more tired, all I wanted was to be left alone, why doesn't this stop, I just want it to stop. I saw some more people enter the room in a distant way, two of them had fancy suits that screamed 'lawyer' but it was again a distant thing I just couldn't seem to care, even when they talked to me it was so hard to focus on the words, I just nodded along when they nodded, and muttered something then they left me alone, I liked that, it was good to be alone, the room seemed to get dimmer. I just wish all the world would go away and leave me alone...
Everything leaped back into focus, the dimness didn't retreat it fled and the crushing mental fatigue disappeared like a slimy politician's promise. For just the briefest of seconds I felt normal, well superchick normal. From behind me I heard a panicked curse and felt someone grab the collar around my throat, things just quickly faded back dim and uninteresting, I tried to fight it, tried to hold on to that 'normal' feeling.
“What's wrong?” I heard 'Jones' snarl.
“Dunno somekind of feedback almost blew the damper...” the voice behind me kept tugging on the collar.
'Jones' and two of his men stepped back and drew guns, as they pointed their guns at me I idly wondered why I wasn't afraid. 'Jones' looked almost as scared as I should be, the two guards that I could see both had full helmets so I couldn't see their expressions, however their body language was shouting out how on edge they were. All for me I wondered, why? It was so hard to think. Like my thoughts were heavy weights that I could barely move. The voice behind me continued working on the collar.
“Is it working alright now?”, 'Jones' asked, any other time I would have enjoyed how he almost squeaked out the words.
“Hmm...Yeah it's solid I don't why it nearly blew.” I'll gave him the nickname Geeky Goon in my head, as I thought that I realized it was becoming easier to think again. Geeky kept on speaking, “I'm going to turn it down a bit, maybe half power instead of 75 percent...” More tugging at the collar around my throat.
“Why?” Snarled 'Jones' “We want this freak on ice until everything is lined up,” he looked at me with hate in his eyes, “and I hate smart mouth bitches.”
“Commander this didn't happen until we turned it up, maybe it's overloading at the top end.” Geeky sounded smart, might have to give him a better nickname I thought, as Geeky continued to speak, “I'd have to take it apart to test it, and do you really want to take the damper off? Somehow with little Miss Mass Destruction here and knowing what her mother could do I bet you want to play it safe.”
I wish I could laugh at the expression on COMMANDER 'Jones' face, oh what hell I thought, so I did. A giggle snuck it's way past my lips, “Oh this is rich, big bad MCO Commander scared of a little wordplay, can't handle a little witty banter? I wonder what else is extra small huh Jones?” as I smirked in the direction of his crotch. I laughed openly at the look on his face, right up until he hauled me out of chair and tried to throw me into wall, with my handcuffs attached table that stopped that, but he kept trying while yelling in my face, if fact he kept trying until one of my shoulders popped out it's socket.
I didn't like that much so I screamed, the way only a teenage girl can scream, but inside I was gloating. I had the upper hand, only for few seconds but everyone in this room knew it. That was good so I decided my to pass out while I was ahead on points.
Of course when I woke up back in my cell is when they brought in the cattle prods for another round of MCO Mutant Medicare, a few kicks some whimpers, a few broken fingers where one of Goons had stomped on my hands, then they shocked me back to health. Food arrived next, and lights out. I guessed it would be back to random day/night cycle, and feeding times, as long as Hygiene Patrol stayed away I could deal, I think, just don't cry I told myself. Ok now how get out of here, blasting my way out would be fun but not possible unless I could get this collar off. If I got my powers back the only choices about leaving would be how much property damage to do on the way out. Of course that would get me in the supervillan side of things fast, not something I wanted, I saw first hand what veteran supervillan like Mom and her friends went through up close and personal. That lifestyle choice was at the bottom of the list, but on the list, call it Plan V, for Villian cue maniacal laughter.
At the opposite side of the coin would be Plan A, where the MCO comes to it's senses lets me and ever other mutant they've done this to go free with large amounts of money, money, and more money and then 'Jones' and his gang get tossed in jail with various cellmates that are very affectionate when the lights go out.
Well Plan A is less likely than Plan V, which is good because Plan A never works. Plan B? Nah, Plan B doesn't work either, it'll look like it's working until you are lulled into a false sense of security, then WHAM, so much stuff is blowing up in your face you are left wondering if you are an extra in a Micheal Bay film.
So start on Plan C, so what's Plan C you ask yourself? Well self I'm glad you asked.
Self answered back, 'So quit stalling' Self said.
I must make a mental note to hire a better class of Self, this one is to damm pushy. Well since you asked, Plan C would be to get rescued, but how? No family left alive, a few friends none of which are likely to be double secret Ninja Agents for a Top Secret spy agency that uses teenagers to carry out secret missions all over globe. Make another mental note if, no WHEN, I get out of this invest in a better class of friends with useful abilities. Yeah right like that will ever happen, like maybe there's a school that trains kids in superhero 101 and that they will accept me. As if.
Mom might have left some contingency plans in place since she was, go on say it, I told myself, dead like Val. You know instructions with her Syndicate buddies, to rescue me from MCO gulag land if that happened, or maybe Dr Diabolik would help out since Mom did such a good job henching for him back in '80s. Hell why not wish for Lord Paramount to ride the rescue because Mom was so good in bed I grumbled, well that last bit was slightly more likely than Dr Diabolik owning Mom one. I remember Val asking Mom why she slept with so many supervillans, Mom answered that she had certain needs, like able lift at least two tons, high level regen or invulnerability, amazing stamina, large disposable income, and villains understood why you might have leave in middle of the night with gunships chasing you. That was my Mom, the queen of Too Much Information, I thought Val was going to die of embarrassment, hell I nearly did and Val was made of much stronger stuff than me. And no I will NOT tell you, or anyone on the planet what Mom called Lord Paramount in bed. There are things mankind is not ready for, that nickname is 3 of them. Ok enough stalling.
Plan D? Overpower a goon and escape like a normal person, problem goons come in pairs, must be a 2-for-1 thing when you buy them. I couldn't overpower one, much less two. And there's the cameras and all that stuff, I'm a 'normal' teenage girl with no powers and no weapons. My name isn't Sara Connors or Ripley so that's out. Maybe seduce a guard? Yeah I don't think THAT will happen, eww, just eww, and even if I could keep my lunch down, he's still bigger, stronger, and trained in combat, so unless one of these guards is into bondage games where he's the sub that will just not work. And I think I squiked myself.
Plan E, trust the system… ugh… well they have to drag me in front of someone sooner or later a judge, a DA or some such, just tell my side of this and hope for mercy from the system. Yeah I'm sure that will work. No kid of any supervillan anywhere that has had to deal with Johnny Law has had anything good to say about the system.
By the time I reached Plan E I decided on my next course action, sleep, funny you think being unconscious would be more restful…
Bane finished with the contents of the latest folder in front of him. A scowl slowly formed, to anyone that knew Bane that level of expression on his face when he was working would have them screaming about DEFCON-1 and the need for really deep bunkers because the feces had definitely impacted the rotating impeller at high velocity. Despite the expression on his face nothing seemed to touch his cold blue eyes.
When Bane had shown up in Baltimore unannounced at the local office the agent in charge had quickly made a safe house available for Bane to use, there was no brown nosing or anything like that involved, the local head agent knew that if Bane worked out the office where everyone else was working by the end of the week half his staff would be on sick leave with various stress induced medical problems. Bane was just that nerve racking even when he was helping you. The head agent just shuddered, far better to keep Bane far away. Bane knew that, he was aware of his reputation among the more in the know agents, it just didn't bother him. He was working.
The safe house was a nice suburban home close to the police station and hospital. That was not by chance. A room in the basement had just about any piece of covert surveillance you might need, across the hall were several high end computers that had interesting access to other computers, none of that was in use, the interrogation room was.
The only occupant had turned the table into a carefully organized collection of folders, the walls where nearly covered with pictures and other documents, scenes from the bank robbery over a week ago covered the north wall, the fight at the refinery covered the east wall, the south was covered with any information on Laser Strike. The west wall, where the scowl was directed, contained everything Bane found out about the local MCO and the relations the MCO had with local agencies. The folders on the table sorted in perfectly aligned stacks had various seals of local, state and federal agencies and the contents of those folders that once held secrets were now laid bare under Bane's gaze.
A several patterns had emerged, which lead to a nasty end shape. That shape had formed another pattern into which certain names and personality types fitted perfectly, and the final pattern once all the information was slotted into it, was offensive…
Bane's expression faded away until nothing was left on his face, but even then he counted to ten before calling his superior. In all things you must professional, dispassionate, you must never let the monster rule, is what ran though his mind as the phone on the other end rang.
Bane was patient, at 0223 in morning he noted to himself his boss would need more time than usual to reach his private phone. On the eighteenth ring the phone was picked up.
“Sir it is worse than you thought. We are involved, but only in a very limited way through inaction, the DHS however is up to necks in this as are several local agencies. These other agencies all colluded to cover each others tracks and bury the event. As result of these actions the person of special interest ended up with the MCO. All these agencies have one thing in common, people who have been adversely effected by mutant events and are ambitious, several have political aspirations and seem to be getting under table backing from a group of concerned citizens that helped make people aware of the mutant problem, that private group is a client for a lobby group that has the Knights of Purity as their biggest client.” Bane patiently waited while his boss processed the information.
“Sir?” Only silence came over the phone.
“I understand sir, unless you tell me otherwise in the next 10 seconds I will proceed as I see fit in accordance with the oaths I've sworn to uphold.” Bane counted down slowly, precisely. There was no reply, no call to halt.
“Yes sir I understand completely, have a pleasant night.” Bane carefully hung up, his mind ticking over various actions and counter actions the enemy could make. He smiled, but it never reached his eyes.
On the other end far away an old man felt much older, “Thank God he's on our side.” He dropped the phone suddenly like it turned into live venomous serpent. He wouldn't be going back to sleep this night.
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
Please Log in to join the conversation.
The day had started badly for a lot people. It wasn't getting better.
Agents from the FBI had in the middle of the night shown up at various agencies in the Baltimore area with warrants, certain employes of those agencies had been woken up in the early morning hours, politely but firmly told they needed to accompany these agents, they were advised of their rights. It strongly suggested that cooperation would be the best approach. A few grabbed at that lifeline.
Several very carefully picked reporters had received tips from 'high level but confidential sources' of corruption, collusion, civil rights violations and the like. These carefully picked reporters had several things in common, the most common was a bit idealism and multiple awards for investigative journalism. They fell on the story like a vulture on a three day old corpse.
The head of the MCO in Baltimore had been woken at 7 in the morning by several panicked calls from colleagues and friends, he had been carefully not briefed on a certain operation that never existed anywhere but on paper. Just a hypothetical study he had been told. He picked up his cell and called a number and ordered that the hypothetical study be canceled until next financial quarter.
The head of the Advanced Studies and Planning Group had called his site commander and ordered them to start closing up the site, but he didn't give the emergency code, they had enough time to shut down properly he thought. On the heels of that thought came the sound of his door crashing open, the last thing he saw for awhile was the image of a stun grenade.
Commander Weems aka 'Jones' hung up the phone, he wasn't enjoying his morning, and he such high hopes for working out his frustrations on that little mutie bitch today. Still orders are orders, so he called his subordinates and told them to start shutting down the site. With any luck he'd be free later to help dispose of the muties. Still Weems thought better take no chances, with that thought he started preparing his bug-out bag.
Donald Meadows, known more famously as 'Laser Strike' looked over at the FBI agent sitting next to him in the van, the Agent's eyes were closed, to all appearances the Agent was resting, relaxed, just taking a break. Any one of a thousand men in a dark suit and average looks and short dark hair, at rest he was unremarkable, maybe fitter than most with an outdoors tan.
Bane's eyes snapped open, “Lets roll.”
Meadows, or Laser Strike, followed Agent Bane into an office building near the docks. It was small building only five stories with a large garage attached, most of the back lot was fenced in with high solid fence. A few people tried to stop them, those that didn't respect the white and gold clad superhero with wings made out of solid light advancing on them, those sterner souls wilted under Agent Bane gaze or demanding tone. In a few minutes all organized opposition had been shattered and was in full retreat. They were shown to an interview room given chairs and told that the subject and the site's commander would be with shortly. The MCO agent that escorted them almost fled the room in haste to get away from the eyes of the FBI agent.
Commander Weems didn't want to hear it, now, right now, in the middle of a shutdown some Fed had shown up for dog and pony show, and, and worse yet he'd come in the front door with the unit's number one asset! He'd asked for that mutant by name and number! Weems racked his brain trying to recall if any FBI agents where part of the unit, he was drawing blank but he didn't know that many names and even less faces outside of his own little unit. Need To Know his boss had told him. Dammit. He could call his boss, BUT the protocols for shutdown meant that he could receive calls but not make them unless everything was going tits-up and he needed to warn everyone involved. Weems let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, yeah this was bad timing, epic bad timing, but the Fed was with their asset, and knew enough to ask for the mutie by name and case number. So no need to panic, get Fed what he wants and pull up stakes, he and the boys would be reassigned overseas to a country with no extradition, then it would be a quick resignation from the MCO and transfer to the Knights of Purity. A bump in salary, new toys, and no questions asked when he needed to get rough with someone. That was what he was promised, and if they tried to burn him, well he had backups and copies of every bit info he could get his hands on. Blackmail if needed or hand it over to the cops for slap on the wrist.
The tech-head at his door was looking at him, “Franks get the mutie, and turn that damper up as high as you think it's safe. We want her nice and docile. Then get back to making a third set of backups on the critical data.” Weems snarled, “Move soldier!” when Franks didn't move fast enough. He moved plenty fast then Weems noticed. He picked up the phone on his desk and ordered a team to bring the mutie to the interview room once Franks finished making the adjustment to the damper. What else needed to be done, his go-bag was ready, the documents he needed to out of the country were in his breast pocket. He opened up his briefcase and making sure no one was watching, he placed a large HD backup drive from his desk drawer in it. Time to get this shit over with he thought, then I am so outta here.
Bane waited patiently reading the file the MCO had on the girl, it was surprisingly thin, the MID card was the most useful but even that was more guesswork than fact. Of interest was the red border, yet she'd never been convicted of any crime that he could find.
Ratings: Man: 4c; Warp: 4gb;ee;lb;ve; Ex: 4; En:3 unknown
Techniques: Flight, Force Field, Energy Absorber, able to use absorbed energy to boost other abilities
Weak vs: Magick and Psi effects, energy draining attacks, feedback from having constructs destroyed, powers seem dependent on a manifested circlet
Backup/Team Affiliation: Member of the Syndicate, extensive supervillan contacts ref# AD 6709-00821-003
EXTREME CAUTION DFA AUTHORIZED
That was impossible Bane thought, no one issues DFA on a minor, and card was flagged as Red, for convicted criminal. The reference gave it way it was old, AD 6709 meant it was created when she was arrested/detained in July1967, this was her mother's card, the original Darklight, the entries quickly copied to a new card. Bane flipped card over noting her name on the form, Kory(sp?) R. (unknown) Cummings.
So who are you Kory R Cummings?
The door opened at that point two guards showing Kory Cummings in, she looked a lot like her mother Bane noted, taller than average maybe 5'7” or 5'8” maybe 120-125 normally. Dark red hair hung down over shoulders to her mid back, he got glimpse of her wide eyes, noting the dark purple color. Her face had that mix of 'girl next door' and 'heartbreak hottie'. As for rest of her, long legs check, great figure, the usual for 90% of superhuman community. In other words depending on your sexual orientation a source of lust or jealously. But not now, now she looked like a victim, Bane had seen the look in her eyes before, this girl had been abused, violently. Her eyes he noted, slightly out of focus, drugged maybe?
His gaze swept over the two guards with the girl, no with Kory he corrected himself, she was real no longer an image, or hypothetical person she had a name, a presence. The guards he noted had standard MCO light armor with full helmets, shock sticks, mace the usual but they had pistols as well. That was a no-no Bane thought if you get a desperate enough prisoner they might make…
His train of though derailed when he saw the third man entering carrying a briefcase and a worried expression.
* * * *
It felt like I had barely been asleep for a few seconds before the lights switched on, two goons and Geeky rushed in, well not rush but they weren't taking their time. I was still blinking the sleep from my eyes when Geeky hauled me upright and started fiddling with the collar again. As before it felt like world was getting dimmer and my thoughts began to slow, I tried to fight it, I tried to focus on something or than that strange nothingness that was growing in my head. It didn't feel as bad as yesterday, maybe, I'm getting immune to this thing. One of the other Goons grabbed and shook me. He was saying something about getting changed, I found that really funny since I'd already changed. I'd like to have laughed or cried but it was just so hard to think to feel.
Things faded then got clear as Geeky kept fiddling with the collar, finally stopping after what seemed like a couple of minutes.
“Come on get dressed.” One of the Guard Goons pointed at bundle of clothing that arrived while I had been zoned out. I looked at the clothes, a standard orange jumpsuit, some slippers, and some cheap underwear. I guess I took to long because one of them shoved me.
“Hurry up freak,” he snarled, “Or we'll have another shower party.”
Those words, they sent a bolt of pure cold fear through me, I flashed back to that horrible assault in the shower, the pain, the humiliation, the feeling of helplessness, just as fast the fear was gone replaced with a white hot rage. The tidal waves of conflicting emotions crashed into the center where I stood battering me. I could feel all those emotions trying to claw their way out at once, all I could do was shake, I felt like if I let go of these I'd never be able stop, I'd be washed away with this incredible emotional pressure and never be able to bottle these feelings back up again. I just stood there trying not to breakdown, not give in.
Screw 'em I thought as I pulled the johnny shirt off and changed quickly, or tried to, Of course the slippers were too big by far, and the underwear was way too small. Seeing the smirks on the Goons I quickly figured out it wasn't an accident. Once done they roughly handcuffed me and did quick half march half drag. Coming up behind me I noticed 'Jones' looking a bit rushed carrying a briefcase.
I was pushed into the room, to my horror Laser Strike was there, standing against the opposite wall, it was him, white armored bodysuit, gold gauntlets and heavy boots, a white helmet with a gold half visor finished the costume, it should look tacky but somehow he pulled it off. His backpack flight harness showed, but the solid light 'wings' weren’t evidence. He looked the same but somehow was more heroic and less like a psycho.
The guy sitting at the table just screamed 'suit', short dark hair, weathered face with an outdoors type tan, he was sitting like he was at attention reading some folder when I stumbled in, his eyes flicked to me and quickly and intently checked me out. It was creepy, but not the perv creepy that I usually get. His eyes were light blue…
I blinked and caught my breath, I'd seen people that looked like that, usually they worked with Mom on various jobs, very dangerous people. His nerve wracking stare slid off me to the doorway as 'Jones' entered, I saw the expression on his face go from blank to furious as he snarled a name.
It was very tense few seconds.
The Goon squad went for their guns, Laser Strike charged up and prepared to blast away in my direction so I just did the smart thing dove under the table. I couldn't see what going over my head but nothing violent or explosive seemed to happening, so far so good. The guy in the suit looked under the table, smiled and spoke.
“Miss Cummings, if you would please have seat.”
I got up tried to gather my dignity, failed, and looked for a chair the only one in the that was available was beside the Suit. Since Laser Strike was still powered up and ready to fire no one objected. As I sat down I noticed that Agent 'Jones' looked very unwell.
The Suit spoke again, “The rest of you can have a seat as well if you can find one.” There were no other chairs in the room.
“Well we can make due with just these two chairs I guess, Laser Strike are you ok where you are?”
“No problem.” The suddenly sane superhero said.
I was looking over my shoulder at Laser Strike, I could swear that he was trying not laugh.
“I think I should introduce myself to the lady, manners are important.” He turned to face me but never ignoring the trio of MCO agents, “I'm Special Agent in Charge John Bane with the FBI. The gentleman behind me who with a few seconds of effort could level this compound if he so wished goes by name Laser Strike, he's a local superhero, quite active in the community, and member in good standing with the local superhero team the Baltimore Battalion.”
My jaw dropped, Laser Strike the nutjob that landed me in this mess could not be the same as the guy the Suit, no, Agent Bane described. Agent Bane's head turned to face Agent 'Jones' who looked increasingly like he was trying to will his heart to stop.
“This is Andrew Weems,” he motioned to 'Jones', “Captain, US Army,” the temperature in room dropped, “You should be in Leavenworth Weems, awaiting your date with noose. Why are you still free and polluting my country?”
Weems swallowed and seemed regain some bravado. “Bane those charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. There was no proof that I did anything wrong.”
Agent Bane's right hand twitched, “No proof? I suppose those young girls in the back of your Hum-vee in Fallujah could have been screaming for joy? Maybe just maybe they where so excited that they also tore their own clothes and tossed them out of the Hum-vee. Yes I suppose you could argue that,” The sarcasm and hatred in Agent Bane's voice could have been used as a chemical weapon, “But that is not what happened is it?”
“Yeah well Bane, face it there was no way a US court would convict me, a decorated officer over a bunch of Aye-Rab bitches.” Weems responded.
Ugh just when I thought this Weems guy couldn't be any more repulsive, he just keeps driving for a new low. Then my spirits which had been rising sank like the Titanic when Agent Bane replied.
“You are right, and the past is not relevant to the current situation that needs to be resolved, which is why I'm here. I'm here to clean up this mess.” Weems expression had shifted to disbelief and hope before settling for an arrogant sneer. The two Goons relaxed sensing the sudden change in their boss's attitude.
“Andrew Weems you are under arrest...” I lost the rest of the speech I felt like I was going to pass out, I put my head in my hands and started to cry. I couldn't believe it, there was a light at the end off the tunnel and it wasn't an oncoming train this was over, finally over. I finally looked up as Agent Bane finished his speech, “...do you understand your rights as they have been explained to you?”
Weems didn't look like a man who had just been arrested, he looked like he had just remembered he had a hole card left to play. Weems turned to Laser Strike and pointing at Bane and myself and screamed, “Laser Strike stop those two villainous scoundrels!!”
Laser Strike spoke, “I'm sorry the Laser Strike you want is unavailable. So sit down and shut up or I turn you into a grease stain, and you two,” speaking to the Goons “Stay very still don't move and I might forget how pissed off I am.”
I swear at this point with all sudden reversals, fakes, and wild mood swings half my blood must have been adrenaline. I had no idea at this point what was going on, if Champion had suddenly danced through the doorway in drag it would have been almost normal.
“Miss Cummings, I need to talk to about something very important, and I need to make something very clear.” said Agent Bane “We need to get you out of that damper device,” he ignored the panicked sounds coming from the MCO agents, I felt surge of something inside me at the thought of having my powers back. “However I am aware that once we do that you can easily take your revenge on these...men. I ask you not to do that, let the system deal with them. For several reasons. The most important is that I don't want just Weems, I want his backers.” He paused. “The second reason is you'd be breaking the law, I'd have to stop you, or at least try, and Laser Strike can stop you.” That point made sense, considering how he had stopped me before…
“Hold on! Why is he being so nice and reasonable? The first time he saw me he started screaming and shooting and doing his damnedest to kill me! What is going on here?!?” I tried to throttle back the rising hysterical tone in my voice.
Laser Strike replied, “Um this is the first time I met you Miss Cummings, you see...”
I interrupted him, “What you're going to say that the Laser Strike that attacked me is your evil clone?” He started to reply but I just going. “No wait better yet he is your long lost twin brother kidnapped by evil gypsies and you are both heirs to some magical kingdom and he's trying to blacken your sterling reputation so he will inherit!”
When he was certain that I had stopped, “More like my good clone.” Seeing that had shut me up he continued, “Two years ago several key members of the Baltimore Battalion were replaced with clones by one of our enemies, we stopped her, and most the clones just wore out or died if you will. Three of them are still alive and my clone is one of them. While he's ok physically as far as I know, mentally the memory patterns in his head are degrading badly, but his 'programming' to be an ideal superhero is still there. All his 'core' memories that make him, well, that make him think he's me are fading away, his recent memories are still razor sharp and that damm programming to be an ideal superhero is still there he just is losing what that means.” Laser Strike sighed, “I feel sorry for him, as his mind goes he knows he has to good but doesn't know what good is anymore.”
I stopped and thought about that, “Oh, OH.” Damm that was bad like really bad, like trapped in hell bad. “Wait a minute!” My gaze snapped to Weems, “Why did he think that you were, you know, the other Laser Strike...” A lightbulb went off in my head, “These guys have a way to control, or at least aim your clone at people they want.”
Agent Bane spoke up at this point, “Correct, the incidents involving Laser Strike over the past year nearly doubled, yet his, the real Laser Strike's, incarceration and court appearances had actually decreased. It seems in back rooms of the District Attorney Office the word is out that a case involving Laser Strike is likely to blow up in a bad way, in fact Laser Strike may be unstable and you can't rely on him in a trial.” Giving me a second to make sure I was following, “Once I looked into the incidence involving you and Laser Strike, I saw a pattern, in certain situations Laser Strike displayed wanton disregard for proper procedure, and a total disregard for collateral damage. There was a lack of paperwork from various agencies that should have been involved in every one of these incidents. All the agencies that should have been involved weren't, and ones that shouldn't where. In your case DHS grabbed the case from the Baltimore Police Department and FBI which should have been involved with the robbery of a Federal Bank, claiming the attack on the oil transfer station was an act of terror. Once the transfer into DHS custody further investigation showed that it wasn't a terrorist incident but since a Mutant was involved and since the other agencies had seeded jurisdiction...”
I interrupted, “The MCO right, they get them instead.”
Agent Bane looked annoyed at my interruption, and stared at me, I gulped and shut up. “Mostly correct but some are turned over to Weems' little group. It seems Weems took over this operation and added a few refinements of his own. Such as human trafficking, selling his prisoners to various third parties, or exchanging them for favors. Weems knew if he skimmed his prisoners carefully his superiors wouldn't know or even look to close since it was a covert operation. No one at the top wants to know too much about covert operations, makes it easier to lie convincingly on the stand.” He looked at me, “Weems and his accomplices are in a bad place, they betrayed their superiors. So if we take that damper off what will you do?”
I looked at Agent Bane, I looked at Laser Strike, I looked at Weems and his MCO buddies. I wanted them dead, so dead that there would body parts raining down on the city. I wanted to make them scream and beg, I wanted to make them feel helpless, “If I kill these fuckers, does that make your job harder?” I asked trying not to sound to eager.
“Take the damm collar off, I'm not going to kill them.”
I felt Laser Strike move around behind me, I saw flash out of the corner of my eye, smelled burning metal and the damm collar fell of.
I could feel my powers returning so fast I swayed. All my aches just vanished.
It felt good, no it felt awesome. It felt so right like world had sudden become more of everything.
I stood grabbing the table, tore it out of the floor flipping it over as I stalked towards Weems and his scum, I enjoyed the looks on their face as my power flooded to my fingertips, wisps of black and purple energy trailed from my fingertips. I grabbed Weems and hauled him off the ground where he had fallen when I tossed the table, holding him in front of my face I snarled at him, “I. AM. LEAVING. ASSHOLE. PLEASE. OBJECT.” I dropped Weems, and I left that room sideswiping and destroying half the room's doorway as I stalked out.
I stopped my tracks at the main doors to this place as what seemed like a small army of heavily armed men leveled various guns in my direction, I only got as far slamming up the most powerful shield I could before I heard Agent Bane yelling the group of men to stand down. At that time I noticed that everyone looking at me was wearing a patch with the letters 'FBI'. It was just to much, I started laughing, then crying. Agent Bane came out and starting giving orders, and more FBI guys showed up, it seems while Laser Strike and Agent Bane had been arresting Weems, the rest of the FBI were arresting everyone else in the compound.
A FBI agent had at Bane's order, escorted me outside and I was sitting on the bumper of one of the armored SWAT trunks, just enjoying the felling of being outside, the heady mix of smog and harbor, smelled like heaven, I was just beginning to think about my other problems in my life when someone came over. I looked up as Laser Strike came over after Weems and people had been loaded up and removed so I was looking the wrong way when Laser Fake dropped from the sky, struck a pose proclaiming at the top of his lungs, “Stop villians I won't let you...” At this point I guess he saw me as I spun around when I heard that voice behind me. “You, you foul creature I will defeat you again and again!”
It was one of those perfect 'I hate my life moments'. Laser Fake opened fire, I concentrated and pulled apart his solid light beams, just like old times I thought. I hoped Laser Strike would do something as I lifted off the ground gaining altitude so that if I missed blocking Laser Fake's shots they wouldn't hit anything breakable, like bystanders, buildings etc. Laser Fake was firing blast from his gauntlets like a machine gun, no longer trying to hit me with one big massive blast, smart on his part, much harder for me block the shots, about half of his little bolts missed me cleanly, I was able block most of the remaining shots but about 1 in 20 where slipping through, this was not good. I splitting my focus on keeping my shields up, diffracting and absorbing the shots, and flying, I was totally on the defensive. Worse yet I had the odd feeling that Laser Fake hadn't tried anything fancy. Then something fancy came my way, a massive explosion just happened, no warning, no power build up, I tried to block the blast and was rewarded with total failure. I spun through the air clipped something and ended up in the cab of a FBI SWAT truck. Having a really good force field saved my ass but being shot through armor plate and bullet proof glass hurt. As I dug myself out of the wreckage I saw the two Lasers had decided to go mano-a-mano and where busy punching each other as hard as they could, which was pretty useless since both wore armored suits. I briefly wondered which was which but I noticed one constantly talking so that solved that pesky targeting problem.
What to do I wondered, I've only been doing superpowered stuff for around a month, I'd never been interested the Cape and Cowl thing and played little attention to what Mom said about what she could do, my sister Val had been the one that was interested in that stuff. What the hell it seemed a theme, when in doubt blast away. Since I was trying not to hit anyone but Fake Strike, I missed both of them by at least ten feet, my second shot was closer I suppose, maybe. Fake Strike noticed me after the second shot, I knew what was coming, this time I could feel it. Yup another big explosion, this time I was better prepared for the blast, it only knocked back a few feet. It was the second, then third blast that flipped me off my feet and brought me crashing down on the hood of a car parked out front. I was stunned and staring up into the sky when an FBI agent reached up from behind the car and dragged me out sight. He kept moving half dragging me, which was good plan because the car I had landed on blew up. I took as much of the blast as I could, then more agents came out cover behind another SWAT van and dragged both of us back behind the van where a group of agents had huddled.
The agent that had grabbed me had few cuts but nothing too serious but he was even more out of it than I was judging ny look on his face. One of the agents was staring at me with shocked look on his face, he then pulled off his bullet proof vest and tried shoving it towards me. I didn't need it so I pushed it back towards him, he shook his head and shoved towards my chest, it was uncomfortable when the body armor was pressed against my chest and felt…
I looked down at myself and yelped.
Wardrobe Malfuntion, two words that can mean so much.
Sometime during those last explosions the prisoner jumpsuit I was wearing was hit by some of the blast that must leaked through my defenses., the result was obvious to anyone around me, the front of the jumpsuit was missing from neck to just above my, um, crotch. Oh my Gawd. I needed something to wear something, anything that would cover me and not get destroyed how did all these other female superheroes do it, how did my Mom do it for so long?! Why me? Why does this keep happening to me? Why can't I be more like Val, or my Mom!? As those thoughts ran around on the broken hamster wheel of my brain and swear I could hear my sister Val's voice yelling at me to get up and do something, to stop whining about being having these powers, stop rejecting Mom's legacy and own it. You know what she was right, my Mom was a pain in the ass, not the best role model, would never win any parenting awards, but she never gave up. Sure she sucked the mundane things but she never gave up, her cooking was always a disaster, she could terminally embarrass me and my sister within ten minutes of waking up, but I knew she loved me, and she never took any crap from any cape. I had her powers, but I also had her legacy, and Darklight would smash this...this clone that was three cans short of six pack of lite beer, and I was worried about losing to him? Mom had gone toe-to-toe with her nemesis Lady Astarte over the years and this guy was no Laady Ass-Tarty.
I'm not Corey Cummings anymore, I'm Darklight.
With that thought I created something to wear, this Laser Fake would get no free peep show from me, at the same time I set up the strongest set of shields around me I could. I rose up over the SWAT truck that had provided cover and moved away someplace clear of bystanders and agents. The front of the building that I had been held in was gone, blown to pieces by the fight, the two Strikes had gone back to hand-to-hand fighting. Seeing that blast damage, wrecked cars and armored vans, the craters in the parking lot, the bodies and ... bits of bodies. I realized that Laser Strike, by going hand-to-hand was trying to keep the damage that his insane clone could do down.
Ok what would Mom...I gave myself a mental slap to the back of the head, wrong question what would I, Darklight, do? I loved my Mom but she wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, lots of power and control but when in doubt she'd brute force her way through any problem. I didn't have her experience, I didn't have my sister Val's over top energy and good luck, but I have my brain, I was the smart one in the family, so fight smart. Mom's power's didn't come with manual, or even FAQ card, but that also meant I wasn't tied down by Mom's preconception of what possible, for the first five years of her career Mom just created things from what she called 'dark matter' and hit things, but Mom could do a lot more, so could I, but for old times sake…
“Hey Laser Strike, QUACK, QUACK...”, both Strikes looked my way, but one of them dived away and started flying while the other started yapping, he didn't get far into his speech as I created a massive cylinder and threw it him, “...DUCK!” As the improvised battering ram hit, knocking him further into the rubble of the ruined building I called out, “To slow Laser Fake, much too slow for a real hero!”
With that I started creating more cylinders in the air dropping them into the rubble and hopefully on his head. As I was doing that, I side-slipped about 100 feet from where he last saw me, a good thing I did that as a massive blast of light went skyward, looking the size and power of blast I was suddenly worried for any low orbiting spacecraft. Following the massive blast Fake Strike shot up from the wreckage heading roughly towards where he last saw me. Which meant I was on his side with a clear shot at him, I took it, beams of what Mom called 'dark energy' shot from my finger tips most missed but a couple of shots after I corrected my aim, hit, it didn't do much damage, in fact there seemed to be a shimmer around Fake Strike which I took for a force field. As he turned towards me I shot straight up turning to keep my left side at him, with all his attention me the real Laser Strike, accept no substitutions had a perfect back shot, he took it. Laser Strike's shot was a tight beam, focused and on target. Bellowing with rage Fake Strike spun and fired back, multiple shots scattered in a spray over the area that the back shot had came from. Which set him up for me to shot him in the back, which I did. Bellowing in rage he spun firing a huge arc of light that just missed me as I accelerated upwards again, this time I kept going, zig-zaging like mad.
I formed all around me a haze of fine particles of this 'dark matter', and then dove for the ground as fast as I could, Fake Strike fired at me just missing, as I altered course heading for him, at the last instant I rolled and swerved pulsing the haze outwards as we passed, Fake Strike ran into the cloud I felt little spikes of pain as he destroyed the fine particles by colliding with them, because the manifested particles where so fine, and unlike the last time he destroyed my construct, I made no effort to keep them intact the mental feedback was no worse a 'pins and needles' feeling. He wasn't so lucky with our combined speeds it was like getting sandblasted by tornado, I could feel when his force field went down, then the particles hit his body armor and more important his exposed flesh.
His flight path went erratic his hands reaching for his face, his body armor looked like he had gone swimming in razor blades and the solid light wings were flickering so his flight gear was damaged I had no better shot then right now as I thrust my right hand at him, all energy I had been holding ready to fly, I hesitated, was this murder? Did I have that right? Should I? Could I? As I was trying to make up my mind a blast of light tore apart the clone, the remains disappearing in that terrifyingly intense beam. Nothing was left. I just hovered there looking were he had been, maybe there was a wisp of smoke I couldn't tell. Laser Strike flew up to me and held his position about a couple of arm lengths away. We both looked at each other, there didn't seem to anything to say but as we looked at each other we did an awful lot communicating. 'Strike finally spoke, “Um that's quite a costume Darklight.”
Startled I looked at myself, I'd never seen what I had come up with. When I realized what I was wearing I blushed to my toes. I'd copied Mom's costume, black and deep purple were the colors. It started off with black elbow length fingerless gloves with purple cuffs, black thigh high open toed stiletto heeled boots with cutouts encased my legs, purple laces seemed to hold them together, my body was covered with could best described as black with purple trim high cut thong type leotard that was like a second skin with a deep 'V' with the point of the 'V' stopping below my navel.
OH MY GAWD!
Why Mom did you have flaunt everything!? Then I remembered when Val asked the same question once, and Mom's response 'When you look better at 50 then you looked at 20 kiddo you'll want to rub everyone's nose it.' Yup that was my Mom. God I miss you so much…
The rest was equal parts horrifying and boring, I tried to help clean up the scene but I kinda started to lose it at all the bodies, my mind kept multiplying the number of bodies and body parts, the agent, Homer Johnston, that had saved me was mostly fine and I was glad for that. The MCO showed up and tried to toss their weight around, that Bane guy was having none of it, I don't what said to the head MCO agent but the guy looked like he wanted to die after a few minutes after ten minutes he was in full retreat. Agent Johnston called it the 'Bane Effect'.
After the ambulances had left and the CSI guys showed up the real torture began. Lawyers. More lawyers, statements, more statements. I got some details from Agent Johnston and Bane, it seems the damper they where using on me illegal because it worked on a person's brain disrupting brain activity. Side effects other than permanent brain damage if used for any extended length of time included a fugue state like major depression with extreme disassociation. When I was on that thing some tame lawyers talked to me and I signed a confession and waved my rights. That got fixed fast. Some of Weems' gang confessed they had used it on several other mutants to make them more compliant. That caused a nasty uproar. It seems the FBI would be looking over MCO operations for the last 5 years for 'evidence of any wrongdoing' or violations of civil rights. It was about a month of this before my part started to wind down, the other lawyers, agents and like had found other things to chew on. Which I liked.
The new head of the local MCO came by to apologize. Well he tried to apologize, the lawyer with him kept interrupting anytime he tried. The new director finally lost his temper and tossed the lawyer and apologized in private. I really didn't want to like him but he was good guy.
The downside is that I had more time to myself, as a key witness I was kept in a safe house that the FBI had in the area, but I had more time to think. I had nightmares a lot, a FBI shrink interviewed me, it was kinda a bust. The shrink was nice but we just came from two different worlds, there was so much that I needed to talk about, like what happened to my Mom, how I got her powers and what I was doing in Baltimore and then all stuff when I was held by Weems and his gang. I finnaly asked if I could talk to Agent Bane again. He showed the next day.
I was trying to watch TV when he came in. We said 'hello' that kinda thing, finally I explained the problem I was having with my FBI shrink and how we didn't click, and I had bunch of stuff I wanted to talk about but couldn't and I was wondering if he could help me with my problems. He just looked at me and then said;
“Of course I will, what do you want to talk about first? How you switched genders?” It was in such a matter of fact tone that I didn't realized that somehow he'd figured out my biggest secret. He just waited patiently while I tried to gather my wits. I just stared at him he had a gentle smile on his face, but it never reached his eyes I noticed.
Swallowing I tried to figure out what to say, “Well here's how my story begins...”
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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Thinking about things from the benefit of hindsight I'm realizing the thing is I don't know how my story begins, with Mom's long career in supervillainy, or with me and my sister, or when I was attacked?
Well I'll try to hit the high points, my Mom's name was Amanda Cummings aka Darklight, she started off small in the 60's got busted a few times then wised up and started working with others like her. She must have been doing something right because she got name as a solid player. Soon other villains where trying to recruit her, so she could start being picky.
I remember her telling us, well my sister Val, some of her rules to live by;
'Cash up front it's hard to get the boss to sign paychecks if he's in jail'
'Never work for anyone crazier than you'
'Sleeping with boss can be fun, and if you do it right you get to learn all the secret escape passages'
'If your orders from the boss bothers your conscience, it means he's not playing you enough'
'While evil wizard types can be fun to work for, getting paid in rare, hard to fence items isn't'
'Always keep your escape insurance paid up'
'When the boss says in a fight that he's invincible, run'
I keep mentioning my big sister Val, short for Valerie. Well Val was a big part of my life until she died, in fact Val was my best friend. Growing up with single parent that's a professional super villain, we learned to rely on each other. Mom when she was around tried to be a good parent, she mostly failed in that regard, I don't think she made one parent teacher conference, birthdays, Christmas and holidays where celebrated on a 'well here we all are' timetable. We rarely lived more than a year in one place but for all of that I never really felt like deprived of anything.
Then Val died. Sturmbannführer Arnold Faust, a WWII Nazi sorcerer that somehow was still alive and kicking kidnapped Val to force Mom to work for him. This Faust guy had kidnapped other loved ones of various heroes and villains, it turned into a big fight over some WWII occult weapon, a necromantic capacitor from a death camp, Mom said, that Faust was going to use to raise an occult 4th Reich or some such. The heroes and a few villains stopped Faust and got almost all the hostages out, Val wasn't one of them. We never even found her body for the funeral.
Her death nearly killed Mom, I didn't do to well either. One of results of that mess is Mom cut way back on the whole super-villain thing and tried to be a full time Mom to me. After six months of that we where both at our breaking point, less said about the almost massacre on Black Friday over the last copy of the collectors edition of 'Sex and City' the better, Mom just couldn't do normal. The compromise is that she went back to the life as a black mask, but working for reputable masterminds, I got a new home, and new identity with some very competent security types from the Syndicate. That was about the time I turned 14. The 'normal' life lasted for almost two years, I suppose that's were my story begins, when normal stopped.
Up until things went badly wrong I had been living a relatively normal life, Mom had rented a Syndicate safehouse for me and my bodyguards in a well off area of Virginia. I'm not going to say where it was other than it had nice view of the ocean with private dock. Rich folks tend to mind their own business so no one payed any attention after the initial welcome to the neighbourhood, if people did ask all I would say is my mother worked for the government overseas. That was enough nine times out of ten, the other time my bodyguards would deal with it. I never knew their names, I just called them Abe, Bob, Chuck and Dave, they went along with it, we were pretty relaxed about the whole thing, but out in public they would do the whole MIB look. They were a good bunch, Abe and Bob were like a combination of foster father and big brother to me, Chuck was the one that taught me how to make IED's which got me into model rocketry which was a blast, no pun intended. Dave and I never clicked but he wasn't a bad guy just too professional for my liking.
It was the end of April and I was in a bad mood, two, not one, but two pop quizzes had set the tone for the morning, lunch was ruined by a run in with the jock squad and I was calling the day on account of lack of interest. So I did what any self respecting teenager in my position would do, I cut class. Now the school I was going to boasted a secure campus, private security all that jazz. The school was for the lower end of the Washington elite, which meant in theory that the Spawns of Suburbia once locked into the zoo were supposed to not be able to get out until the parents or the parent's flunkies came and got them. In practice what it meant was Mr. George the security guard on the west entrance, would let kid slip out for a hundred dollars, call you a cab, and wipe the security footage. Heading downtown I figured I'd find something interesting to do. So what did I do, yup went to the mall.
I'd been wandering for about an hour trying to find something that would spark my interest, the only thing that came close was GEO, but once again I passed. Something about how everyone that played GEO would rave about it just made me rebel even harder against buying it, and how the game profiled you to tailor your experience just creeped me out, I really did not want my various neuroses and quirks dragged out and played with. Dammit those are mine to deal with, so I use repression and denial to deal with my problems so what? Doesn't every teenager?
As I was starting to notice my turn towards dark and depressing again I heard something that made me wish for some way to stop all my vital functions.
“HEY CARROT-TOP!!” Shouted a particularly identifiable voice. Wincing and turning to face the bane of my existence I noted that the gang was here.
Jason, Tyler, Owen, Stephan (never Steve), Andrew and Randal. A more annoying collection of the hazards of letting the nouveaux-riche breed without some form of control on them I've never encountered. All of them hung out together, wore the same 'trendy' outfits and waved their parents money and status in everyone's face. They collectively thought of themselves as the as the big men on campus since they were part of the school's champion lacrosse team. Ordinarily I tried to steer clear of the village idiots, as individuals they'd be considered mostly harmless, but in a group they had a hive mind that increased their base cunning and intelligence to dangerous levels.
Jason in the lead moved quickly towards me with that friendly smile that showed of how much his parents had spent on dental work. From a distance and if you didn't know him you might be taken in, not me that smile was as fake as his mother's tits, and had all the warmth of...well something cold blooded and predatory but served no useful purpose.
They all crowded around me with Jason taking the lead, “So Carrot-top cutting class again?”
I could see the wheels turning, slowly but they turned, thinking 'how can I get Corey in trouble?' again. It was an old game that Jason only won because he cheated, if his gang didn't back him up word for word you could expect his mother to get involved screeching at the top of her voice that her darling Jason was the victim. It was depressing how well it worked.
Jason knew how much I hated the nickname 'Carrot-top' and was waiting for a response, I was tempted to give him my best verbal counter attack but I didn't want to be waiting around with until one of them figured out what I said.
“Aren't you cutting as well?” Good I thought keep it simple and not too many words with more than three syllables and maybe they try to find someone else to bug.
“Naw,” Drawled Tyler, Jason must have needed to rest his brain. “Coach gave us a pass since there was a special afternoon assembly.”
This was news to me, “About what? Couldn't have been important or they'd make big deal out of it.”
“It was some presentation from the MCO and the Knights of Purity about the mutant thing.” Jason answered, his brain had recovered faster than normal.
His stupidity must be contagious because what he said just registered, “Wait the MCO and the KoP? Together? What the hell?”
Randall was almost bouncing up and down, “Yeah it's great the city is thinking of hiring the Knights to help with the mutant problem. BAM-BAM-BLAM,” he made gun motions with his hands as he spoke, “and it'll be raining mutie bits everywhere.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, “What mutant problem? Unless you are still trying say that the Goths must be mutants because they look different!” Randall flushed with anger, the Goth thing still bothered him, just because one of the Goth girls in school had shot him down when he asked her out, he had tried to spread the mutant accusation around. THAT had backfired hugely when somehow Randall had confused 'looking different' with 'being a mutant' by the time he was done shooting himself in the foot he'd somehow managed to offend everyone that was of a visible minority or just didn't look sufficiently WASP'ish.
“Uh why are you sticking up for 'em, you a mutie lover?”, there was Tyler speaking up and dumbing down at the same time.
“Me? Yeah right, I'm just nervous about a bunch of guys running around with enough firepower to shred a building if they screw up. Sure the Knights have done some good work but I just don't like the idea of a private military running around.” Considering who my Mom was, I really didn't like the idea. “If the whole 'mutant problem',” Making air quotes as I said it, “Is as bad as H1, the Knights, hell even the MCO say then why aren't the KoP and the Goodkinds selling the gear direct to the police, why aren't the police screaming for better gear, huh? Because the Goodkinds make more money keeping everyone scared so no one questions how much they charge for protection, just like the Mob.”
Tyler and Randall both tried to answer that with all the style they could manage, which was pretty much, 'Ugh you wrong, me right'. I needed to wrap this up fast before any of the stupid transferred to me, that was when Owen spoke up.
“Whoa check out that chick.” Pointing towards the escalators with all the grace he could manage, which meant he didn't drool on his shoes. Even among this bunch Owen was pretty far down the evolutionary ladder. His one barely acceptable trait is that he could always find the hottest girl anywhere, this was balanced by his ability to repulse any girl after talking to them for more than a few minutes. Still if he noticed a girl it was worth taking a look…
Whoa. Ok that needs a second look. Whoa.
I've never been hung up on Asian girls like some of my classmates, but this girl was smoking hot. The first thing I noticed was her hair, silver with blue highlights I mean it obviously a dye job but it was a damm good one, she wore mirrored wraparound sunglasses but what I could see of her face was a near perfect heart shape, her mouth was maybe a little too large but that could have been the makeup. The rest of her was shapely but not to shapely, not too much up top but not too little, she wore a school uniform, dark blazer with a crest I couldn't make out, under the blazer a white blouse showed with the collar undone, a plaid skirt that was too short to be allowed at any school I knew of showed off her amazing legs, oddly she was wearing ballet flats. After a few seconds a few other details intruded, her head was bobbing to some tune she was listening to, and her hands were in the blazer's pockets.
I'll admit she was so hot that for few seconds I just stared, my brain had short circuited and my glands went into overdrive. She looked up as one of the other guys made some comment, gave a cheerful smile and a nod walking towards us, almost skipping. She took her hands out of her pockets, a few seconds later the screaming started.
Before the screams began, I was thinking the jacket she was wearing, the sleeves where too long because I couldn't see her hands, then out of the sleeves came a mass of flesh colored tentacles, in the blink of an eye the tentacles stretched out over twenty feet and wrapped themselves around the heads of Jason and his crew and then ripped the flesh off of their faces, two them had enough left of the ruin of their faces to scream, this girl, she just frowned at the noise, the tentacles on her left arm wrapped around Jason's body and flung his screaming form out into the atrium as he arced down to ground floor to hit about forty feet away. The tentacles from her right arm snapped forward the tips seeming to form needle like points as they impaled Owen and then tore his stomach open to spill his guts all over the dying bodies of his friends.
Now I'd like to tell you that I did something heroic and brave, or at least smart. I didn't, I just stood there frozen with fear, it was like my body was frozen while my brain was running at a thousand miles an hour screaming 'run', 'scream', 'attack' all at the same time. About the most I was able to accomplish was not pissing myself when those tentacles reached out and grabbed me, then pulled towards her to be slung over her shoulder with those tentacles wrapping around my wrists and feet. Absently some part of my gibbering brain noted that she had a great ass.
Now other people in the mall had noticed and they were screaming and pointing. As if that was a signal she stepped out of her shoes and started to run, by the time she had taken few steps it felt like I was moving at freeway speeds I couldn't see where we were going, but I could see the damage in our wake, whoever this girl was she moved in a straight line with no concern for little things like other people, more substantial obstacles she just leaped over without breaking stride, on the landing my gut was driven into her shoulder so hard it nearly broke me in half. As soon as I had that thought she jumped, hitting the glass frontage at the mall's main entrance, we went through it without showing down, landing about fifty feet from the mall entrance on the roof of an SUV, I don't have any clear memories of the next few seconds the landing had driven all the air from my lungs. By the time I figured out how to breathe again this girl was throwing me into the back of a van. I landed on something that was both hard and soft with pointy bits sticking into me, it grunted and rolled off to get a good look at whoever I landed on.
I had managed to land on this hot busty blonde, even more shocking was what she was wearing, or maybe not wearing. Instead of some nice normal clothes all that this chick had on was a collection of bondage gear which did nothing to preserve her modesty, her legs had some kind of spiked leather bands that chained her calves to her thighs, a collection of straps and spikes wound around her torso, short chains locked her elbows to her waist, wide leather cuffs tied her wrists together, but wait that wasn't all she had ball gag, and her eyes were covered by a leather blindfold. She wiggled around moaning something I couldn't make out. I was worried that I'd hurt her when I was tossed in the van.
The cute Asian tentacle monster had closed the van's door and had scrambled to the passenger seat up front and addressed the empty driver's seat, speaking for the first time. Her voice was one of those 'Tee-Hee' voices you hear in Japanese cartoons.
“Tina get back here with the boy.” For all the cuteness in her voice it had no emotional content like she was reading a script.
The van suddenly accelerated almost tossing me back on top of the bondage babe, the Asian looked over her shoulder at me and spoke in that flat tone, “I so look forward to meeting you face to face Mr. Cummings. Now do not move or try to escape and things will be...pleasant, yes pleasant.”
'Also turn over the GizTech panic button in your wallet.'
I didn't hear that with my ears the voice just echoed in my mind, crap I thought they brought a mind reader, this is oh so not good. Maybe I can...
'Don't try to activate it when you take it out of your wallet.'
Dammit whoever this is they are reading my mind, just stay calm, the security guards back at home will figure out that you've been grabbed. Also with bloody mess at the mall maybe the cops will call the KoP to deal with it...urk...when I thought that, all of a sudden I could the mind reader actively rummaging through my memories. Then the girl upfront twitched and muttered something I couldn't hear.
“Ahhh!” With that I woke up of one of the oddest dreams I've had. As I opened my eyes I saw that it wasn't a dream, I was in small strange room lying on what seemed to be a hospital bed. My school uniform was spotted with blood from the attack at the shopping mall. I jumped off the bed and went to the door and tried it, locked of course. Checking the room was useless other than the bed, an empty closet and door which led to small bathroom it was completely empty. Everything was painted an off white, no windows just small air vents in the ceiling. This was definitely not Club Ritz, and why was I here? You'd think as the child of a supervillain I'd be used to this, couldn't be further from the truth. Nearly everyone on both sides of the cape and cowl crowd follows the informal rule 'no family members', the ones that don't respect that rule tend to have accidents, fatal or otherwise. Which meant I was in the hands of a nutter, or someone who is powerful that they think the rules don't apply to them, not a good situation.
After about an hour of being bored, the door unlocked, and in strolled a new face. He was about average in height, his hair was cut so close to his scalp that I couldn't tell the color, his eyes were a pale greyish color. He was almost normal looking. What he was wearing threw me for second, military style combat stuff in black, the kind with all those pockets, and combat boots. Uneasily I noticed that most of the pockets had stuff in them and the stuff I could make out seemed to be medical equipment. What really set me off was the bio-hazard patches on the shoulders. With that I recognized him.
“Biowar.” That was his name, now at least I knew how much trouble I was in, which is to say a lot. Biowar was a nutter, a mad scientist type of the biological bent. He'd started out offering upgrades to other villain’s powers or giving the villain's mooks various abilities, usually some kind of super soldier upgrade. Then all of a sudden he popped up in Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the mid 90's. Everywhere he showed up something scary would happen, a rare disease outbreak, a sudden rampaging superhuman threat, or something even stranger. He was a superhuman bio-terrorist in the purest sense of terror, he seemingly had no agenda other than cause havoc. He made global notice when he bio-bombed a town in Kosovo, in the next 48 hours everyone in that town developed synesthesia. Since then he'd been linked human trafficking for experimentation and several other crimes.
At the mention of his codename he scowled and spoke, “A name given to me by those who do not understand my work, those little minds so wrapped up in ethics and morals. What use are ethics, has anyone even seen an ethic? Or held one? Ethics are what those little people use to slow us, to hobble us while those little people scramble around trying in vain to understand our greatness. They will never understand what I am doing, but soon I will...” With effort showing his face he stopped his tirade, “I digress, my apologies for my outburst I've been under a great deal pressure with my work, my work, no my Magnum Opus.” With that he fixed a grin on his face that he probably thought was friendly and reassuring, it wasn't, that expression on his face would scare a shark out of the water.
Stay calm, I thought, and don't make eye contact, do not provoke the crazy mad scientist. “S-s-so what do I call you?” I noticed my voice had crept up an octave or two. A little voice in the back of my head suggested 'Mr. Biowar', the little voice was then dragged off, shot and buried in a shallow grave by my sense of self preservation.
The grin on Biowar's face disappeared, “You don't know? I thought a man of my greatness and stature would be known world wide.” A disturbing glint appeared in his eyes, “Those...those little minds, they took away my greatness, my recognition didn't they? Answer me! You must know me!”
Shit I'm dead, “Uh I'm not really into medical journals, I'm more of space enthusiast, speaking of space what do you think about life under the ice of Europa? Most people don't think it's possible but those things in the ocean near underwater volcanoes are living, even thriving there so it's not impossible, right?” That stopped him, I could see the mental transmission behind his eyes shift gears. Pro tip on dealing with mad science types keep them thinking, it'll keep you alive and in one piece longer, or so I've been told. Well it worked this time, Biowar started talking about odd life forms and what kind of life could be in the solar system, after a few minutes it was all over my head. Time for step two.
“Uh I'm sorry you're losing me here. I'm not as knowledgeable in biology as you, oh you were going to tell me your name.” He stopped in mid lecture mode.
“I was? Right I knew that, Alexander Price.”
“Would that be Doctor? Or Professor? Or are your titles just that not important to you?” Thank gawd I'd seen my Mom handle some of her teammates that where, um, quirky. Ok completely bugfuck nuts.
With that Biowar lit up, a smile that was less creepy showed, “Manners! Manners! And in one so young, oh yes, call me Professor Price I insist.” In other words do it or else the dissection tools might appear I thought. “Now if only your mother had your manners we would have gotten along much better, did I tell you I met your mother?”
“Uh no, you didn't is she here now?” Please, please let this be one of Mom's jobs. I knew that hope was a long-shot, since Val died, Mom had only worked with her regulars, and there was no way, no how, she'd work for this guy, ok well maybe she would, but it would be for ALOT of money. Still if he knew who I was, Mom must've at least trusted him more than a little, maybe they'd worked together in past, I could hope.
“No unfortunately, but you are and that is what I need. Did your mother mention how she got her abilities?” Biowar's attitude shifted from creepy to intense in a blink of an eye. “She must have, or you must have asked at one time? Where was your scientific curiosity young man?”
“Uh, well she'd got her powers in her late teens, and when she'd been arrested for the first time she was classified as a mutant...” That was as far as I got.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Biowar waved his hands dismissively, “That is what you'd expect, so you never look closer. Just like everyone else. But not me!” He looked at me, “Why for instance in the beginning of her life as Darklight did she think that her powers came from that ridiculous circlet she used to wear?”
I gave the rote response, “It's called the 'Dumbo Effect' the person in question believes an item gives the ability, so they lose the ability when they lose the item, a psychological crutch..” Again he cut me off.
“Yes, yes but there are those that transcend the 'Dumbo Effect' and overcome the limits of their own mind such as your mother, but what if they are wrong and that item did give them power, then changed them over time until the power was in them. My grand idea is that such items are the cause of the mutant Meta-Gene expression, once the Meta-Gene entered our biology from these items it was then bred throughout the population until we achieved a genetic critical mass. If we could understand how the process began we could control and direct the expression of the mutant gene complex and manifestation!” The look on his face was intense, almost hypnotic.
With that thought I realized something, I was paying too much attention to this guy, and I was too calm, something was wrong with me. I should be freaking out not calmly discussing this guy's grand theory of everything.
'You are more aware than most, and you are right.' Came that mental voice again. I jumped a little with that, the psychic must have been reading my mind and influencing my thoughts, keeping me calm and relaxed. A moment later Biowar frowned.
“Ah you are aware of my associate?”, He looked me over like he was studying a sample that just did something unexpected. “Oh well it was a bit of a longshot anyway. Still come with me and I'll get started.”
“No I'm not...gleep!” My body started moving on it's own like I'd been shoved aside, no matter how hard I struggled I just couldn't do anything about it. Dammit this was some serious power this psychic was tossing around.
'You have no idea, now stop trying to fight me or I'll get creative on you.'
With that threat hanging over me I stopped fighting, instead I started singing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody in my head. When that failed to get a response I gave up. Besides looking around seemed more useful, I don't know how I could figure out to escape with someone reading my mind but you never know. Out side of my room was a narrow hallway. Every ten feet seemed to have door identical to mine with a keypad/cardreader setup, the end of the hallway on both ends had a much more sturdy looking door with the same security setup. Biowar led the way to the end of the hallway, keyed and swiped a card and door opened, really thick door I noticed. The door opened to a small room, very small about size of an elevator, another security door arranged opposite the first was the only feature in the room. Some kind of airlock/security door I guessed. When the other door opened I got an idea how secure this place. Pass the section I had been in, this area looked like navy ship, grey narrow walls, pipes and stuff running overhead, and from what I could see instead of doors there where hatches like you see on ships. Not good. If I was on a ship, and had been sleeping until I woke up normally we could be out to sea and in international waters. That would really screw things up even more.
'Don't worry about a rescue no one is even looking for you.'
Fuck you, I thought, I don't mean to brag but when Mom comes looking for me you'll be lucky if she kills you quickly, you don't pull this shit on family.
'Mommy's not coming for you boy, she's got a case of the deads.' No way I thought, she can't be. 'Oh yeah she's really dead, Darklight might have been this big tough bitch, but a little mind control and she was happy to slice own throat for me once the boss was done with her.' No, I screamed back in my head, you're lying!
'Sorry but I don't lie, but if you don't believe me then here.' With that I was suddenly in my Mom's head, I could feel her confusion, her rage and fear as she tried to resist the psychic control. I 'saw' Biowar and the bondage blonde from the van staring at me, no her, then Mom's hand reached for a scalpel and cut her own throat, slowly as she fought back with no success while Biowar watched, talking all the time. I could see the spray of blood, taste the blood in my mouth, no her mouth. I felt her fading away, her fear for me and her love. Her shame and regret that Mom hadn't been able to save Val when my daughter, no sister, was kidnapped and died. Her regret that she had been a failure as a parent, her shame that she was a villain rather that someone her kids could be proud of. I could feel her fighting to hold on as I, no Mom, started to fade away, Mom just faded away...I could feel something at the end maybe surprise?
When it was over I was still walking behind Biowar, tears where running down my face. I wanted to touch my throat to see if it was still intact but I still had no control over my body.
'See I told you I don't lie. Aww little boy misses his mommy, don't worry once the boss is done with you I'll have my fun then kill you.' If rage could be used as weapon this place I was in would ground zero. I tried to use that rage to fight back against this voice but nothing worked. My body still wouldn't obey my commands.
I continued following Biowar, after a few turns we ended up in large room that was set up as medical station, hospital beds, surgical gear and the like warred for pride of place with something out a lab you'd see in a movie, strange cabinets and lab gear with a workbench tried to take over what little space there was. I laid down on one of the beds and just stayed there while Biowar rummaged through various drawers, inside my head I was raging against the psychic that was keeping me prisoner in my own body, if I could just get free somehow.
'If somehow a weakling like you got free, so what? What could you do, mommy couldn't stop us and she was considered a powerhouse, you? You're a pathetic nobody, a lab rat.' I am not a lab rat I screamed back in my head.
Biowar turned from his lab gear and approached me with his hands full of what I could only assume were medical devices, that crazy grin on his face showing again, he stopped and looked closer at me, the grin fading away. He reached for my face peering into my eyes, then he placed his hand on my forehead, he then turned and grabbed a thermometer and stuffed it into my mouth. He kept checking my eyes, he looked at the thermometer. The look on his face was equal mix of surprise and glee, the look of kid at Christmas that found more loot than expected. About that time all muscles seized up, I could feel my body arcing like bow being drawn back until only my heels and back of my head touched the bed, my jaw clamped shut so hard I swear my teeth were cracking. All of a sudden my body collapsed as my muscles relaxed to my relief, as I sagged on the bed, I could sweat pouring out of pores, then my heart started to race, at the same time I couldn't catch my breath. It felt like something seemed to explode in my chest then everything went black.
I slowly woke up, as I became more aware, even before opening my eyes, that something was wrong, I could feel straps on my wrists and feet. Something was pinching me in both arms and there was something wrong with my crotch, I tried to shift in bed to get more comfortable and my chest moved in an odd way. My eyes shot open, what the hell was going on!
I was back in that same room I woke up in just after I was kidnapped. Now how ever there was more medical gear I could see two I.V. stands with various bags draining into tubes that must have been inserted into my arms. Monitor equipment beeped in the corner, the beeps coming faster as my heart rate sped up in fear of what I might find, as my memory of my body didn't seem to match what I was now feeling, Speaking of feeling there was something I was feeling coming from my right, like a warm light shinning on me but the light was accompanied by a 'sound' I didn't know what that was.
“Please don't hurt me.” Came a voice from the foot of my bed. A voice I recognized from the mall, and a shape moved into my line of sight, it was the cute tentacle monster from the mall, the one that had grabbed me. She was now wearing jeans and a long sleeved blouse, with short flesh colored tentacles instead of hands, those tentacles just moved back and forth twisting and stretching. She no longer had those mirrored glasses and I could see her eyes, they were completely black, no whites showing at all.
“Don't hurt you, what about you hurting me?” I said, or tried to, my mouth was so dry all that came out was something between a rasp and gurgle.
“Wait don't try to talk, let me get you a drink first ok?” It was odd I noticed in the van she'd been monotone, like a robot, but now she sounded human, well in a perky bubbly kind of human way that just made me think she'd be hated by anyone who liked to sleep in. She didn't move, instead bundle of tentacles that was her left hand stretched out and grabbed pitcher of water, poured a glass and brought it over to me. At the same time with her other 'hand' she was undoing the restraints on my arms. Just before she finished undoing the straps on my arms she spoke again. “Just lie down and drink this first, then I'll try explain what happened, and what is happening ok?” She offered the glass to me straw first.
The water was so good. My mouth was so dry I felt like I didn't swallow it, it was just absorbed by the tissues in my mouth. The second pull on the straw was almost as good as the first, the third went down the wrong pipe and I started coughing. I tried to bring my hands up to cover my mouth, note tried, my hands ran into something unexpected, well two somethings, and they were attached to my chest. I grabbed those things in disbelief, they couldn't be...they were...boobs!
I froze, my mind just wouldn't process what my body was telling it, I was a guy not a girl, this can't be right. The monitor gear just kept beeping faster and faster racing with my heart rate, this can't be, that thought was running around in my head on it's own little wheel picking up speed and going nowhere...
The girl tossed the glass of water in my face, the shock of that, plus the sputtering from some going up my nose snapped me out of the panic attack that was developing. As soon as I got my breath back I asked in a reasonable fashion and tone for the situation I was in.
“WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME!” My voice had changed I noted, even considering that I was screeching like, I dunno, something that screeches really loud, it was higher pitched that it should be. My arms I noted continued the trend of looking more girly. I wanted to check down there to see if the change was 100% but I couldn't, it was like as long as I didn't check I could keep believing that I was still, you know, male, however the odd feelings from my crotch kept mocking me. My own personal waterboarder had retreated during my freakout, looking like she wanted to run really fast, which I supposed might have been amusing considering how much she scared me.
She held up her hands, well tentacles, in what might be taken as a calming gesture if that person had, well, hands. “I didn't do anything to you, please believe me, well I didn't do anything to you after I kinda kidnapped you, and uh, I guess hurt your friends...” She trailed off as she thought about what she said, and realized how unlikely it was to helpful in calming me down. She looked around nervously then back at me. “Just please, I need you to calm down, I'll tell you what you want to know.”
“I AM CALM!” If anything my voice sounded higher, I thought I was about to pass out as my vision dimmed, then I noticed it was the lights in the room that were growing dim. The monitor I was still hooked up gave a surprised 'Beeep-blat' tone and died.
“Please you have to calm down before something bad happens.” She was looking close to panic as she said that, edging against the wall towards the door.
I noticed then that my right hand was gripping the railing of the bed so hard that it had crumpled and half broke off, and wisps of some kind of blackish-purple haze had started to form around my fingertips. You'd think that would be lower on my list of priorities than changing sex but it derailed me for the moment from what had been done to me.
“Ok that's good just keep calm please, please, please.” I looked at the girl as she said that, I was starting to piece together why she was so worried. Then I nearly jumped out of my skin as the damm heart monitor started up with series of warning tones and the lights seemed to brighten. As I started to get up she rushed towards me with a look of concern on her face. “Don't try to sit up or get out of bed or just give me a few minutes.” At my questioning look she continued, “Umm you've been unconscious for a week and a half so we had to umm, wire you up, you know so you could eat and, uhmm,” She blushed and then in a smaller voice, “You know we had to down there...” As she glanced at my crotch and blushed some more. I'll spare you the details of catheter removal, suffice to say it was confirmed that yes, I was now completely female all over. Dammit.
By the time I had been fully 'unplugged' my fear and anger had been reduced to manageable levels, so the chance of me doing something violent had been reduced from levels 'near certainty' to 'maybe in the future' levels. I also found out that my roommate/nurse was named Norika, which sounded better than Cute Asian Tentacle Monster.
“So, uh, Corey when you where in the lab, you started to manifest and you weren't having an easy manifestation,” at my look she gulped and continued, “You had a burnout, that's when the...umm, body doesn't react well to the mutation, or when you stress your powers too much.” Seeing that I was following her tale, “So, umm, well, uhh, you died, a few times...”
I interrupted at that point, “I died!”
“A few times, uh, yeah a heart attack then,” Her face screwed up as she was remembering, “You had systemic organ failure, some kind of immune system thing were your immune system tried to kill you, you were lucky that this happened here, he saved you everytime.”
“Biowar saved me? Why? How? Did he turn me into a girl?”
She got that nervous look on her face, like I would explode or something, “Yeah he did, I don't know why, maybe he saw it as a challenge. He gets like that, something happens that interferes with his plans or catches his interest, something triggers him and he's, like umm, obsessive. As for how, well umm, from what I've been told, you started attacking your own cells when you manifested, the Doc he figured out that you were 'healing' wrong, like your BIT was corrupted. So he found a way to 'clean' your body, somehow he changed your DNA to a new type that your mutation wouldn't try to attack.” The speech was delivered like she had been practising. “The thing is the DNA he used was your mothers to create the new DNA that wasn't under attack by your mutation.”
Shit. Mom, I'd forgotten about her, and how she was killed by these...people. My sense of self pity over being turned into a girl faded as my temper grew, again idly I noticed how the room got darker and the machines grew erratic before failing.
“Please stop, please. You have stop!” She said again sounding even more desperate. “If you don't stop you'll kill us all!”
Now that stopped me, “What are you talking about? How am I going to kill you?” What was she talking about I wondered. Then I remembered, me crushing the bed's railings, the dark energy coming from my hand, the word 'manifested' and all. It all lead in one direction, I was a mutant as well as a girl, the next leap came quickly, I had power, that meant I wasn't helpless anymore. Good. While this was running through my head she continued to speak.
“When you get worked up, or need to heal you seem to draw energy into you, that's dangerous for all of us onboard. You could damage the engines, or the reactor. In fact you nearly did do that several times when you had, umm, you know.” At my look she continued, “When you had your burnout attacks, you drained energy around you, each attack you drained more power, until you were draining direct from the reactor...”
“Reactor! What reactor!” Was that the source of the that invisible sun thing I'd been feeling since I woke up?
Norika with an uneasy look at my outburst continued, “So, uh, the last time you nearly caused the reactor to melt down. That was a couple of days ago, I think it was when you stopped, uh, you know, changing, the reactor is what's powering this sub.”
Sub? I was on a nuclear submarine? Crap that would make escaping alot harder if not impossible, but on those sub movies they always have escape stuff, maybe I could get to one of those, I mean how hard could it be, you just swim up right.
“Before you think of trying to escape,” I tried to look innocent like idea had never occurred to me. “Everyone on board has an implant Biowar designed to keep you from escaping,” Ok, new plan I thought, remove implant then escape. “He implanted a biodegradable capsule that will dissolve in a certain amount of time unless you get a booster shot to repair the capsule's coating.” Her face took on a resigned look, “Inside the capsule is a tailored virus that will kill you, it's incurable, and infectious. If you escape the virus will kill you and many other people. You'll die slowly, but if you get back to Biowar fast enough he might cure you.”
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. That sounds clever and ruthless at the same time, just like Biowar's rep. Still if I could find someway to remove the capsule.
She continued speaking while I was thinking of elaborate plans to get out of here, “My best advice for you is just do what he says and try to keep out of his way, you don't want him seeing you and getting ideas for a new experiment.” She looked depressed as she said that, “Also keep, or try to keep out of Tina's way. She's the blonde that was wearing the kinky stuff in the back of the van, and the voice in your head. She's a massive bitch and loves to hurt people.”
“Shouldn't she be wearing dom gear then?”
“She would like to, but her powers only work when she's restrained, if she can't talk she can use telepathy, can't move she can use telekinesis, the more she's tied up the more powerful she is. She can also do a few other things, scary things. Don't let her get into your head if you can.” Norika looked nervous when she said that. “She will love to hurt you, break you, basically anything that she finds amusing, the sicker the better.”
I quickly added two plus two and jumped to the obvious answer, “Let me guess, personal experience?”
Norika just looked at the floor, wrapping her tentacles around her, after a few seconds she nodded not even speaking. That scared me more than anything else, if just thinking about it freaked her out that much I could be in big trouble with the heads of the nuthouse. Speaking of which, “Where are those two? You'd think they'd be bragging about how helpless I am. Usually mad science types,” I noticed Norika wince at the 'mad science' comment, she really was on edge. “never pass up a chance to brag about their work, and this Tina you'd mentioned, you'd think she'd be in my head gloating.”
“The Doc and Tina went ashore yesterday with some of the men, he's likely doing one of his experiments. I don't know where we are, but I'm guessing South America. Or maybe Africa. We have run of the sub except for critical areas, the bridge, engineering, and weapons. Oh and stay out of the Doc's labs, he might think you are volunteering for his latest project if sees you in the labs.”
“Ok stay away from the labs, etc. How did a nutcase like Biowar get his hands on an armed nuclear sub, or the crew to run it? Is someone backing him?” How deep was the shit I was now in.
“He stole it from the Syndicate with most of the crew, it's an old transport sub I've been told.”
I boggled at that, Biowar was ripping off the Syndicate!? He's crazy, like death wish crazy. There is no way the Syndicate would take that, they'd hunt him down like a mad dog and make an example of him to discourage anyone else from even thinking about ripping off the Syndicate. Sure supervillains rip each other off all the time that's to be expected in the biz, at least from Mom's stories. But the Syndicate is well, needed, they do all the little and big things that black masks need to function, to have Syndicate turn on you would mean, no reputable black market, no honest fences, no clearing house for henchmen, no escape insurance. How was this guy still alive?
While I was thinking this I realized that Norika had asked me something that I'd completely missed, “Sorry what did you say?”
She was looking at me with a slightly embarrassed look, “Uh I asked you if you wanted a shower, you know to get clean.”
With that I looked down at myself and took a sniff of my armpit, “I smell that bad? I didn't notice anything.”
“Well...we are on a sub with recycled air and smells. And I thought it'd would good for you to well get to know the new you at the same time.”
I took the hint, besides some 'me' time with the new 'me' might be what I need to start getting a handle on things. Once I have a handle on things and it is securely attached I can then use the handle to beat Biowar and his pet psycho to death. I owe it to Mom to make sure that these freaks get what's coming to them, with interest.
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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I had alot to think about, in a short time I had been kidnapped, become a mutant, died at least three times, changed sex, my mother had been killed and I relived it in her head or my head, been told I was a prisoner on a submarine, the only person who seems to have any redeeming qualities is one of my kidnappers, oh and apparently I smell.
Any way you look at it I had alot to process before I could do anything to change my situation, which in turn lead to my first really deep thought. How many people have their existential moments in a bathroom? My second deep thought was along the lines of does wondering if you're having an existential moment count as an existential moment? Which lead to my third realization that I was chickening out about what I needed to do next, which lead me to doing the most difficult thing I've done to date. Looking in the mirror.
The bathroom I was in was ridiculously small, with just me in there it was overcrowded, I'd have move sidewise to get by the toilet to reach the standup shower, it was just little bit larger than closet however it did mirror over the sink.
The image in the mirror was a total stranger, definitely a girl as if that hadn't been made obvious earlier, she, I, was smoking hot. The first thing I noticed were my eyes, they had changed color to a deep purple, in fact they seemed to glow faintly like a UV light. My hair had become a long wavy dark red, except for the very ends where my old curly orange looking hair came back, ok one plus to this I thought, no one will be calling me Carrot-top again. A laugh at my own joke tried escape but I held it in, I had the feeling that if I relaxed my control over my emotions, I'd never get them under control again. Concentrate I told myself do not fall apart now, ok back, checking myself out, my face was completely new, cute nose, high cheek bones, full lips, small chin made my face look stunning, like film star good. Nothing of the male me remained. Dammit. Something about my new face bothered me a bit, well bothered me more than a bit, but my new look bugged me, my reflection was somehow familiar but I couldn't place it.
Continuing my survey of this brave new world I looked down, yup there they where, just hanging around waiting for me to notice them, I slid out of the hospital gown to get a good look, the first of many good looks but somehow having my own private porn channel was less fun than I thought, it might of had something to do being the star and crew of said porn channel but I had a lack of enthusiasm for getting to second base, to say nothing of the idea of being the groundskeeper for the whole friggin stadium. Ok shower time, and not happy sudsy shower time with a sound track and closeup shots it really was a get clean and get to know the new me. Depressingly I was soft in the right places, curvy were I was supposed to be, if I had been born a girl.
I still found myself looking at my reflection after towelling off, trying to put my finger on the feeling that the face in the mirror was familiar to me. I mean I couldn't see any of the old me except for the old orange hair at the end of my new hair growth...
Wait a minute.
I looked, really looked and started doing some mental math when it hit me, my new face was a blend of my Mom's features and my sister's, that was what I was seeing. Hell now that I'd made the jump it was so obvious. I remembered that Norika had said Biowar had used Mom's DNA to cure my burnout. She was a mutant, that meant I had a chance of being a mutant even before all this crap had happened, but he'd 'fixed' me with Mom's...
Mom could absorb energy, she was super strong, I could absorb energy and crush a steel railing. She could make things out of thin air that she called dark matter, so could I? I held my hands in front of me and looked at the space between them, and concentrated. Nothing happened. Dammit why didn't I pay more attention to Mom when she talked about using her powers. I know why because teenagers as a rule find anything their parents do, boring.
So I tried again, no luck, I kept thinking it should work but maybe I don't know how it works. How would Mom do it I wondered? Well she wouldn't over think it she'd just do it. So just do it...
A globe of utter black matter appeared in my hand, I jumped and lost focus and it just vanished, but I tried again, this time trying to feel my way to the result instead of thinking about it and wondering if it would work. With a few minutes of work I could feel what I was doing, how a strange kind of mental twist and poof the dark matter just appeared. I then tried to make something other than a globe, it was difficult but I could do it. Unlike Mom I couldn't seem to make any complicated shapes, or anything with moving parts, but simple shapes I could pull off. From there I worked on changing the shapes after I created them, harder but possible. I don't know how long I was doing this but as I came out of my haze somehow I had left the bathroom and found myself sitting cross legged on my bed. I looked at what I had just 'made', a mace with a spiked ball on the end. I swung it around a bit, it felt weightless in my hand but I could easily imagine the damage I could do with this, and who I'd like to beat with this...
Pro tip, maniacal laughter is good for the soul.
I got about an hour total of trying things that Mom could do to see if I could do the same, I also got head trauma by proving that flying indoors with a steel ceiling is a bad idea. As I was laying on the bed feeling amazed at how fast I seemed to be recovering from my experiment at flying, when I heard an odd sound, a 'thwap-tap' kinda thing coming from the door. |It took a few seconds to figure out that someone, likely a certain someone with no bones in her tentacles was knocking, I was on the verge of saying come in when a few things intruded. The big thing was I was a girl, and naked except for a towel that was not up to the task of keeping me covered, a few seconds of panic and then grabbing a sheet from my hospital bed to preserve decency if not modesty and I felt ready. “Come in!”
Norika entered at my response carrying an overstuffed bag with her, upon seeing me she gave a weak grin and held up the bag, “I thought you could use some clothes and other, stuff you know. Uh you...” She trailed off looking at something, “What happened to your head? Are you ok? Let me see!”
I flinched badly as she reached out towards me from inside the doorway her tentacle/fingers stretching towards my head, she froze at my reaction to her. Reacting to the hurt look on her face I motioned for her to continue.
“Corey I'm sorry I didn't mean to scare you. It's just...” Norika broke off her exam of my head to hug herself in her tentacles as she looked more and more miserable, “I'll leave ok?”
Being turned into a girl didn't make me suddenly immune to my 'damsel in distress' reflex I noticed as my mouth continued acting on reflex. “Wait, um, sorry I didn't, no you didn't scare me that bad, shit, what I mean is it's ok, you just surprised me.” I wound down my babbling before I really said something stupid. Great I thought a hot girl can still make me sound like an idiot, and I'm a hot girl now, so when I'm talking to myself does that mean I need to sound like a brain dead idiot?
“You sure?” She still wouldn't meet my eyes but maybe, just maybe, she looked a little less tense.
“Sure, no, but come in any way.” She stepped in closer at that, “I'll even let you look at my head and I'll try not to freak out ok?” This time knowing what was coming I tried not twitch too badly as she poked and prodded.
“Ok nothing to serious, but I wouldn't try jumping on the bed any more unless you like concussions,” Norika said as she finished. “And I brought you some clothes and things, we don't have alot selection but it'll be better than nothing.”
Norika was right, not alot of selection, and it was better than nothing, nothing being naked, or a too small towel or a bedsheet. My introduction to the mysteries of woman's clothing left me wanting to run and hide, were to start? Well with a multicolored metallic stretchy thing called a sports top, not a bra, not a sports bra, not a top, but a sports top, I guess the difference is important somehow, don't ask me I'm still learning. Matching pants that were not pants, but more of that same stuff the SPORTS TOP was made from which on me looked painted on, a thin coat of paint at that. To try to recover some dignity, as if, I had choice of two T-shirts that stopped just before reaching my belly button, the first had a picture of Lady Astarte with 'Girl Power' on it in a basic black, the other was a pink off the shoulder one that had 'Wet & Wild' plastered on it in white with a heart over the 'i' of course, or as I liked to think of it a cruel choice. No way in hell would I be caught dead wearing anything to do with Lady Astarte, so 'Wet & Wild' won. Some beaded beach sandals won the footwear contest due to the fact that they were flat and not flip-flops, no way was I going to try anything with a heel, and I hate, no loathe, the sound of flip-flops. Which were my other two choices.
As I headed for the door with all the enthusiasm I could muster, Norika stopped me informing me that my hair was a mess and needed to 'dealt with'. I thought 'dealt with' would involve a pair of trimmers, nope. She had brought a selection of hair care items that I was then assaulted with, my old orange ends were removed quickly and my new deep red hair evened off, then combed out. I thought if we ever got out of this mess I'm sure Norika could make a fortune as a hair stylist. Her left 'hand' was holding two combs, and two brushes and a pair of scissors, her right 'hand' the individual tentacles had increased in number at the same time thinned down, little needle like claws had formed at the tips and worked out the tangles without any pulling or tugging. All of this work resulted in a what I was told was a simple french braid, simple yeah right, nothing about being turned into a girl had been simple.
It was at this time that I realized something, Norika somehow in my mind had moved from the 'enemy' category into the 'friend' category with no stops in between, this startled me to say the least. Growing up with a supervillain as a parent had left it's mark on me and my sister, we got very good at keeping secrets, lying, and being very careful on who we trusted. Moving around every few years just added to level of healthy paranoia, I could count on one hand the number of good friends I had over the years, and even those I wouldn't call trusted. Everyone that I met once I was old enough to understand what the stakes were had to be considered someone that could betray me and my family with a simple phone call. Yet this total stranger who was working for the SOB that killed my Mom had somehow gotten past my lifetime of caution with a few hours of being nice to me.
This was not good, option one is Stockholm Syndrome, were the victim starts to identify with his or her captors. Option two, female bonding...ack, nope, no how, no way.
After a few panicked seconds of thought I came to the realization that it might be both, since Val had died two years ago I'd been alone, no one my age that I could trust. Now being kidnapped and turned into version 2.0 of Darklight, having my sex changed and being tossed into a life and death situation it made sense that I would cling to the person that showed the littlest bit of kindness. I really hoped I wasn't making friends with Norika because somehow I was going to escape this place, it would be hard, but escaping with someone else would be harder. I really didn't want to make a friend, a real friend and then leave them behind, but that is something being the son of a supervillain teaches you, extra baggage slows you down and people are alot of extra baggage. So that means that I shouldn't think of her as a friend, but rather a decoy, something to be used to make my escape easier.
“So Corey you want to look around first, or get something to eat,” I was going to say look around when my stomach woke up at the mention of food with a loud snarl. I could feel my face heat up at the sudden mirth on her face. “Ok I guess we are going to eat first.” My stomach agreed with a second growl.
As we walked towards food I got my first taste of being sexy girl in public, every guy we met along the way stared, none of them were anyway subtle about it. Worse were the times we had pass crewmen in those narrow hallways, there wasn't enough room for two people so we had to turn sideways and squeeze past, which of course led to all kinds of 'accidental' gropes. I would have turned and ran or freaked out and attacked someone if Norika wasn't with me, she also got a fair share of gropes as well and shot me look after the first couple that somehow managed convey 'Men are pigs' with 'I'm so sorry for this' on some communication wavelength I never noticed before.
We finally made it to the ship's kitchen, along the way Norika told me a little about the sub, it had been a Devil Ray class Syndicate Transport/Assault sub before Biowar hijacked it over two years ago, of the original crew of 165 only 84 remained. The other crew members had chosen death before dishonor, or had fallen prey to Biowar's experiments.
The kitchen was empty, a collection tables bolted to the floor with bench seating, however the smell of food(!) stopped my curiosity. Grabbing a plate I loaded it up buffet style, I was one my third refill when I noticed that taste was less than good, bland, dry, greasy and overcooked were better terms. Still it did quiet my stomach.
“Yeah the food sucks, but at least there is enough of it.” Norika spoke quietly while slowly eating some sandwiches. “It got bad after the last cook was 'volunteered' to help out with an experiment that the Boss wanted to try out.” She looked around making sure we where alone, “Sorry about the grope fest in the hallway, but you better get used to it. Counting you, there are seven women on the sub, so we are outnumbered twelve to one, and most of these guys haven't, umm, been with a woman for months.” Another look around, “So be careful, try to go in pairs anywhere, do not let yourself get trapped alone with most of these guys. If you have to fight back do it but do not hurt anyone badly.”
“Screw that if anyone tries anything with me I'll kill the fucker.” To say I was panicked at the thought was a bit of an understatement.
“Corey you can't do that,” She looked at me directly, deadly serious, “This sub has half the crew it needs, we can't afford to kill someone, or even seriously hurt them. Hurt the wrong guy and all of sudden he can't do his job, like the cook, except it could be someone in the reactor room or the water plant that's not around, then we die of thirst or the reactor blows up.”
“It can't be that bad?”
“It can, do you know anything about ships?” At the shake of my head she got a grim look, “I grew up on Maui, I've been around boats all my life, they always need to fixed up or something breaks worse. A big ship like this, well...it needs alot of work. Since Biowar stole the ship the crew haven't been able to get the parts needed to keep it running in perfect condition. So alot jury-rigging goes on.”
This was so not good I thought I've been shanghaied on board the USS Duct Tape. With that I looked around, I mean really looked. The kitchen looked ok, a bit worn maybe a bit grimy but not like it was going catch fire or explode. Still she was the expert.
“Ok Norika, if things are that bad why isn't everyone planning to stop Biowar and end this cruise before the wheels fall off?”
“Remember Tina? She randomly scans everyone onboard and if she finds someone thinking about an escape or killing the Boss, she rats them out, then the Boss has a new lab rat. Or the other crew members find out and stop the escape because they don't think it'll work.” Norika looked at something that I couldn't see. “Like I said it's easier to just go along, certainly less painful.”
I was lying in my bed later staring at the ceiling with Norika's words about 'going along' running in my head. It would be the safer option, trading risk for safety in the near future, however acting now meant taking a big chance, I didn't know anything useful really, like which way to land if I did get to the surface. On the plus side escaping now meant no psychic bitch playing mind games with me or reading my mind at the right time and serving me up to Biowar. Even if I did escape the implant would kill unless I got it out, but removing it should be possible, downside leaving Norika behind, I might be able to escape, but escaping with her in tow very unlikely. Still if I could convince her to try to escape I could use her as a distraction for my escape.
As a salve to my conscience I told myself after I got away I could do something to help her, like tell the Syndicate about the sub. Right and just maybe the Syndicate would rescue everyone onboard instead of turning this sub into a square mile of plasma. Fuck it, I told myself, save yourself if you can, you're not some hero that gets everyone else killed. With that I went to sleep.
Morning came and with it a new discovery about my powers, it seems I have force field, how did I discover that you ask? A cold shower, I staggered into the bathroom that morning still waking up and gave myself an ice cold shower by accident. Either the water on this sub is colder than I'm used to or I've become more sensitive to temperature, anyways there I was soaking wet and screaming 'COLD' when it happened I remember trying to get away from the spray, when that failed I tried to block the spray with my hands and all of sudden the water hit something before it hit me, at the same time the light dimmed like I was wearing sunglasses. I don't really know how explain what I was seeing, it reminded me of a heat shimmer but made out of shadow. When I checked myself out in the mirror my reflection seemed darker like a TV image with brightness turned down.
That was so cool, and something that my Mom didn't have as far as I knew, she could do a force field but I'd never saw her do this, or look like this. That made me wonder, if I have her powers why aren't they the same as hers? Still that was something useful, very useful in fact. I experimented with my latest trick and found out the hard way that I could pull energy out of things and into my force field, however pulling heat out of hot water in a shower is BAD idea, I ended up creating T-Shirt made of ice, REALLY cold ice, and I was wearing it! At the rate I'm going I might have all kinds of really cool and useful powers but I'll kill myself figuring them out. Anyways after an extra long HOT shower I found myself staring at my lack of choice in clothes and cursing my fate, I had the choice of that skin tight multicolored outfit from yesterday, or three dresses. Dammed if you do dammed if you don't, story of life.
Still that third dress looked pretty good, it was a sundress, they all were, but it had a pattern of a nebula, lots of blacks, blues, purples and shades of pink, I just thought it looked real nice, something about the mix of colors appealed to me on top of the space theme. I picked it up and looked at it again, closer this time. It was the same as all the others, but for some reason this dress appealed to me. Which of course led to my badly damaged male ego tossing a fit of epic proportions. Nope no dress for me I'll wear what I wore yesterday, it might be embarrassingly tight and bright but at least it was pants I'd be wearing. That was a gesture to my previous maleness. What was going on in my head, I worried. Would I suddenly find myself obsessing over shopping and going to the can in groups next?
That made up my mind, I was going to escape somehow I couldn't stay here. Which lead me to my next choice if I escaped I had to worry about the virus implant, so if I escape I have to get somewhere that can help me. Which means I need to know where we are roughly so I can then know where to go, and that would be any place with an internet connection with that I could access my bank account and Mom's, reach out to her friends for help that kinda thing. Karedonia would be perfect for my plans, plus I'd like to see Biowar try any shit with Gizmatic. Hell I'd pay real money to see that, on second thought no I don't want Biowar to get beat by Gizmatic, I want to beat him, and by beat him, I mean beat him until he's chunky salsa.
So how the hell do I get off a submarine? Somehow I don't think it's as easy as opening a door and holding my breath as I swim up. Best thing would be for the sub to be on the surface then I can just fly away. So how to get the sub on the surface? Poking a hole in the side was one idea, but that means water coming in as I want to go out, not a good idea, what if I make a hole that's too big, I'd find out what drowning feels like. How do you...Damm I love late night TV. Ever see an old movie called 'Hunt for Red October'? There's a point in the movie were the main character asks almost the same question and that's my answer, I almost dance for joy but settle for pumping my fist, I'm on a nuclear sub! That's how I'm going to get off, head for the reactor and mess with it, or even threaten to mess with it and they'll surface. Then once we are on the surface I'm so outta here. Nothing can stop me now I exulted as I exited my room/jail cell for the last time.
I got lost, twice. Stop laughing. It's not funny, let's see how you navigate around a sub with no map and only a vague feeling of where to go.
Anyways third time was the charm, straight ahead behind the door that I was standing in front of was the reactor, I could 'feel' it. I reached out for the door and turned the wheel thing to open it and stepped inside. I didn't know what to expect of a reactor room, lots of blinking lights, a glowy thing in the middle of the room that sort of thing I guess. What I got was something that looked like a huge hot water heater having tentacle sex with smaller water heater, seriously there were so many pipes, cables and things my eyes sorta glazed over trying to follow them. Tucked to the sides of the room were control consoles I guessed, I mean they had to be something right? It was only then that I noticed the crew, eight guys had all turned towards me.
Since I've been turned into a girl I've sorta gotten used to the looks, being checked out that kind of thing, but that moment in the sub was the first time that it was really driven home. They didn't see me, they saw their fantasy standing there, it was worse for me because I knew as a former guy what I'd be thinking if I saw a girl that looked like me. All of sudden I wasn't me, a person with some really big problems, I was thing to possessed by these guys. That's why I froze, nothing to do with fear, not that I wasn't scared of the idea of fighting 8 guys, but that moment drove home to me how much things had changed, how much I'd lost. Somehow the powers that I gained as well didn't seem to be such a fair trade.
Okay maybe a little to do with fear. Just a little.
The leader of this group spoke up, “Hey baby looking for something?” He delivered that line with a leer that repulsed me. The expression on his face was mirrored by the rest.
What would my Mom do in this situation? Well judging by her stories, flirt outrageously with all of them and then when they were off guard beat them senseless, all without a flicker of concern. Well I've already failed the concern bit, so how about the violence?
“Just leave and I won't hurt you.” I reply, wishing that my voice was a little more, well masculine, and didn't sound like a nervous cheerleader in a slasher film.
The leader of this bunch just laughed and started to walk towards me sneering, “Or what girle? You'll scream? That's okay I like screamers.” He was big I noticed much bigger than me, his blonde hair was in a messy ponytail with a thin beard, his outfit of a loose jumpsuit added to the biker vibe, with the sleeves ripped off showing a collection of tattoos on his arms.
Taking a deep breath I created a slightly bigger version of the mace I had practised creating yesterday. That stopped them from advancing any more, but much to my surprise they all started laughing and pointing at me. The leader and his men all stepped back to various places and grabbed various big metal tools then started advancing again.
“You have some kinda dumb crazy bitch to pick a fight with a bunch stokers.” The leader advanced much more carefully swinging what looked like a four foot socket wrench. “If you put away that little toy, we'll just hurt you a little before we get to the fun stuff.” He said with a grin as he slowly shuffled closer. His gang moved around all the crazy piping with an easy grace, everyone I noticed now had some kind of weapon, mostly big and heavy tools, who the hell makes wrenches as big as the person carrying them!
Well fortune favours the bold and all that, so I stepped up to the leader and swung. I stared in shock as he blocked with his huge socket wrench and my mace slid down the bar and away, as I froze in surprise he swung the handle up cracking me in the face. It hurt a lot, and I staggered back with my eyes watering from the pain. He whipped the tool around blindingly fast cracking my arm, I dropped my mace as my arm went numb to my elbow, as I did that the mace just vanished. That was when one of the leader's buddies that somehow snuck up on me and hit me in the back of the knees, which lead to me going ass backwards to land hard on this metal grating that was the floor in this room.
This was seriously fucked up. In the space of few seconds I'd been beaten up by a bunch of thugs with big tools, dammit I'm the one with the powers and I'm on the ground in pain? What the hell? I try getting up only to have a rather large boot heel come slamming down into my gut driving all the air out of my lungs. “Stay down girly, or we'll get nasty.” Said someone in the back of the pack. How the hell did this happen?
Easy, I thought, I was damm overconfident, too many stories of mutants walking all over the law and military just kinda makes you discount the average Joe. I then remembered my bodyguards and how deadly competent they could be, so why didn't I think about that before I ended up here? This would have never happened to my Mom. Ok, take two I think and try not to screw it up this time. First things first, the various hurts inflicted on me, I can sorta feel a draw from one of the big hot water tank things in the room, so I guess that's the reactor. With that I concentrate on it and do that 'reach out and pull thing' I did in the shower this morning, might as well try to jumpstart my healing if I can...
I've tried to describe what it felt like several times, I can't really do it justice, it was not just one thing it was everything. A sort of runners high I guess is the closest I can compare it to, but with added special sauce. It was like the power in that reactor was the beautiful scene, song, taste with a perfect massage all in one. All my hurts just faded away so fast I almost passed out from the lack of pain and the rush of pleasure.
“Oh wow...” I moaned, “...that is so good.” I was so blissed out that I never saw the odd looks I was getting from the gang of guys that had just beaten me, ok time for take two, revenge of the teenage mutant this time with a much higher SFX budget.
I have force field, so use it dummy, I told myself. When activated my force field everything around me dimmed slightly as before that was the same, what was different was how it felt with energy I was pulling from the reactor. Before the energy that I absorbed seemed to go right into me and was used up, this time I could feel it stopping at my force field and staying there waiting for me to use it, like my force field was some kind of battery that was filling up, and I hadn't reached my limit yet. I could feel that energy wrapped around me, hugging me in a warm embrace, just begging to be used. There was still more energy in the reactor that I hadn't grabbed yet, so I raised my arms towards it, and pulled with my power. Wisps of what looked like black and purple smoke reached out from the reactor, the wrapped around my hands, even more power from the reactor came with it. With more power I drained the euphoria I was feeling increased.
I was still lying on the metal grating that was the floor in here, I didn't want to be any more so I lifted off of the floor floating into a 'standing' position still facing my new best friend, the reactor. It was so nice the more power I pulled out, the more the reactor produced and the more I could pull out like an endless feedback loop. I was giggling from the feelings of the power when I noticed one of the guys was hitting me with that big wrench again, but his blows were being blocked by my force field. Still I owed him for that cheap shot earlier, with that thought I did something to him, with a gesture he accelerated away from me hitting several pipes before crashing into the wall of the room with a meaty thud accompanied by the sounds of breaking bones. The others in the reactor room at this backed off all of a sudden no longer looking confident. I didn't know how I did that but I 'knew' what I did, my attacker fallen away from me with a force greater than the force holding him down, I had twisted gravity.
I laughed at that like a maniac, that was something new, something that Mom had never done and I did it. Me. I held out my hands and tried to recreate the feeling I had felt when I 'shoved' my attacker away. It was easy, I could almost see the changes in the gravity as I twisted it so 'down' was the back of the room. The remaining collection of thugs fell away with panicked shouts, the shouts turned to screams of pain as they and any loose object slammed into what was now the floor to them with bone breaking force. I found that even more funny, and I kept laughing as I returned my attention to the reactor. As I did various lights in the room turned red and an alarm started to blare almost right over my head, a super shrill and rapid 'Dee-oh' sound that if I wasn't hovering in mid air would have made me jump through the roof. At same time I felt a surge come from the reactor that just seemed to build and build until it stopped and I could feel the power in the reactor die off.
A few moments later the floor started to tip downwards, I guess my plan had worked they were surfacing! In your face Biowar I'm getting out of here! I'm not trapped in this sub anymore!
Now the harsh reality of my hasty plan reared up and bit me of the ass, where was the door off of this thing? As I was having this thought the floor kinda heaved and returned to level, I hoped that meant we where on the surface or I'd be finding out if I could breathe water. With that I turned a flew down the hallway I had just come from looking for something that might be a way off. I found it the way I found most things as of late by almost ramming my head into a hatch on the ceiling in a little alcove. Yeah, freedom at last I thought, as I opened the hatch expecting to see daylight. Instead I was in a little room with all kinds of Scuba looking gear, shit I thought, please don't let this be storage locker. Looking around I could see no way out of this room until I looked up. A big hatch on the ceiling! Yes! I'm outta here I thought. Opening that hatch lead to a small tube with yet another hatch and from there I was free!
At that point I should have just flown away at high speed laughing, but instead I just looked at that big huge blue sky with a few puffy white clouds, the far horizon where the water and sky met, it was so damm beautiful and air just smelled better. I looked around this time taking in other sights and sounds, seeing a collection of heads appearing at this streamlined tower thing towards the front of the sub.
The sub itself was in the shape of a flattened tear drop, which is what gave the class it's name of Devil Ray. Inside the teardrop shape one would find 5 pressure hulls laid side by side, the two outer hulls were stuffed with weapons and sensors, the two inner hulls had the engines, living quarters in one, and Biowar's lab in the other inner hull, and two hanger bays. The main hull that had the reactor, critical machinery, the bridge and command gear, another hanger bay, and more weapons. Why am I telling you all of this, well remember I mentioned weapons?
Someone on the tower was looking at me yelling something which I couldn't make out, then a PA speaker cut on in mid threat, “...go below or we will kill you!” I didn't know who this guy was, maybe the Captain but I gave the most elegant reply I could think of, the finger, both of them, while screaming “FUCK YOU!” Again I should have just shut up and flown away, it seems telling the Captain of a ship to 'fuck off' is a bad idea. One of those heads on the sub's tower yelled something, and all of the people up there ducked.
Two hatches on the sides of the sub popped open and from each came up an odd turret. The turret had a big machine gun looking thing, beside that gun was a box with six(!) missiles, on top of the turret was big back capsule with various lenses. Both turrets swung amazingly fast and pointed in my direction.
“This is your last chance, surrender!” The voice thundered from the tower in front of me.
I still had my force field up which saved my life because the asshole who ran this sub had a hair trigger, with almost no delay after that demand the gun to my left opened up, shells slammed into my shield that I had still had up. My shield held but I nearly didn't, the shells exploded off of my shield and scared me so badly I nearly lost my focus and dropped my force field. The gun fell silent after a second or two, which I was certain had been hours from my point of view. Alarmingly I could feel that energy I had stolen from the reactor fading away, I worried that that meant I wouldn't be able to hold off a second shot from the guns I wracked my brain trying to think how I was going to deal with this. Maybe I could...YES! A stream of dark energy poured from hands towards the turret pointed at me, missing the turret by 10 feet. Correcting my aim I kept firing back, my second shot hit, a muted flash came from the turret as bits of the metal that made up the device flew back from the point that I hit it.
The reason why the flash from my strike was muted was a much bigger flash as something blew up a moment later, which turned the turret into scrap metal flying free at high speed. The blast from that staggered me back, almost making me slip and fall on the slick hull as a few fragments pinged off of my shields. I stood there slackjawed in amazement at the damage I did before turning around and destroying the other turret with another blast from my hands, no large bang this time, but it looked wrecked when I stopped shooting. Giving the finger again to the tower, I took flight, finally I was getting out of here.
I was maybe 200 feet in air and climbing when I saw a series small hatches pop open all over the top of the sub, a much larger hatch was slowly opening forward of the bridge tower. As I wondered what the hell this meant two puffs of smoke came from the smaller hatches which became dots surrounded by flame rising towards me. The damm sub had missiles. With that thought I poured on the speed trying to out race them. I discovered something new, I can't fly faster than supersonic missiles, by the time I picked a direction and started to accelerate the missiles had reached me.
The missiles didn't hit me they just came close and exploded filling the air with clouds of metal fragments, no problem, the shockwaves from the explosions tossed me like a ragdoll, spinning me every which way. By the time I recovered my senses I was almost in the ocean, I did something like when I twisted gravity in the reactor room but only to myself, which flung me upwards at extreme speed. So fast that my vision started to black out before I recovered, by now I was a fair distance away from the sub and falling back towards the water. Pulling out of my dive I skimmed the surface of the ocean this time zig-zagging as I fled, stay low I thought, they'll have a harder time hitting you. With that I half rolled so I could look behind me at the sub.
“You have to be kidding me!” I screamed as I saw two more missiles launch from the sub, forward of the sub's tower the larger hatch had stopped opening, I couldn't make out what happening there but I was fairly sure it wasn't good. I kept zig-zagging to avoid the missiles but they where just too fast for me. This time the shockwaves spun me around and into the water, I did a skipping stone impersonation and came to my senses only when I started choking a mouthful of seawater. I hurt all over like I had pulled, well everything, as I tried to gather my wits as I bobbed in the ocean I saw what was behind the big hatch on the front of sub.
Taking off with a howl was a Syndicate gunship, it looked like a fat attack helicopter in a bluish grey paint but with short wings on top that ended in bulky engine pods in place of a rotor. Despite it's brute ugly design it had a kind of character, the kind of character you expect from slasher horror film but still. I just floated there admiring the gunship as it headed towards me...Ugh! I just finished that thought when my brain finished it's reboot, and I realized how much trouble I was in.
I gathered my wits and pulled up the strongest force field I could concentrating on nothing else as gunship accelerated towards me, weapon pods opened up on the sides with various guns and missiles now showing. The guns started firing churning the water in a double line towards me, then the shells slammed into me, my shield held but I could feel the strain, the shells when they hit me had exploded, driving me below the water. I surfaced spitting and choking, trying to clear my eyes to see where the gunship was and if it was making another attack on me. What was that gunship shooting? I'd taken shots from the sub's guns with no problem other than nearly being scared to death, literally. It was like I was running on...oh shit!!
Now that I was thinking, and thinking clearly, I realized something very important all that energy I had drained from the reactor was gone, I'd used it all, now all I had was my own power. No big boost. I was just superhuman rather than super-superhuman, dammit. I need to get out of here I thought now that it's fair fight. Mom always said never fight a fair fight unless you cheat. I took flight looking for the gunship, I saw it maybe mile off turning around for another attack on me, a quick look behind me showed the sub just floating there, at least it wasn't shooting at me. No just the gunship was shooting at me. Yeah lucky me.
The gunship finished it's turn, slowing down as it did, almost hovering. Two missiles fired from the gunship, accelerating towards me, not as fast as the missile that the sub had fired, but still quick. I didn't want to get hit, even with my shield up, so I tried something Mom did I tried to create a wall of 'dark matter' between me and the missiles, Mom had been able to create her constructs at a distance time to find out if I could. It took more effort but I was able to do it, the missiles crashed into a wall blackness in front of me that was about the size of a billboard, and I could feel the impact on my construct. It was like a pressure on my mind that spiked to a solid headache then faded. I had done it stopped the attack, however I had also blocked my sight of the gunship, so the next missile that was fired on an angle towards me came as a complete surprise as is appeared on my left avoiding my wall of darkness, it surprised me even more when it turned mid-flight and raced towards me.
I had time to think 'SHIT' and try to reach out and absorb the energy of explosion that I knew was coming. The missile exploded twice, a small explosion, then a much larger fireball followed. I felt the energy from the explosion start to drain into my shield as the fireball started to fade, then the shockwave hit. It was like getting hit by pillow, swung by an angry giant, I remember spinning through the air and hitting the water. I had absorbed just enough energy to keep from being killing but the blast knocked the air and the brains out of me for few seconds. So I practised drowning for the next few moments, fighting my way to the surface and trying to get a breath that wasn't salt water kept me occupied on the immediate present.
When I was able to look around my heart sank, the last blast had tossed me most of the way back to the sub, various people on the deck of the sub and in that control tower were pointing at me and shouting. Dammit I was doing it again wasn't I, thinking with my powers not my brain, what the hell would Mom do in this situation? She'd act, not float in the water waiting to be killed. I took a quick mental inventory check, my force field seemed ok but I was again running without any extra power, I'd used up what I had absorbed from the explosion staying alive. So I just have the basics, no extra 'ompf', I looked for and spotted the gunship lining up parallel to the sub for another run at me.
Can't get away I thought, too slow to escape from the gunship much less the sub missiles, if I get away from the gunship the sub will missile me to death. The two of them had me pinned between each other. Seeing the gunship starting it's attack run I created dome over me to take the hits I was sure was coming. Again I could feel the hits, not as strong as the missiles, and more rapid so I guessed it was firing it's guns at me when it stopped shooting I stopped holding the dome in place and it faded away, I then took flight on the tail of the gunship. The gunship had slowed beginning a tight turn no doubt planning on another attack on me, before it complete the turn I was on it's tail firing blast after blast into the tail of the craft. Considering how easy it was to wreck the turrets on the sub, I was disappointed when my blasts just seemed to scar the skin of the craft wrecking parts of the surface but doing no serious damage.
Realizing that I was on the gunship's tail the pilot reacted, I saw the engine pods tilt and twist as the craft almost pivoted in mid-air and then started moving backwards while the nose tipped up the guns now pointing at me. The shells from the cannons missed me, firing too low to hit, I pulled up going over the gunship so close I could see the pilot and gunner in the cockpit, the gunner staring up at me as I just missed colliding with the top of the gunship. I kept firing blast after blast at the gunship, none of my shots seemed to hit anything vital, just blasting chunks the skin off. This was not going to work, the gunship had some type of armored hull and it could take hit after hit from me. So far I'd been lucky with what had been thrown my way, but my luck wouldn't hold as long as the armour of the gunship. I chewed myself out in my head while trying to think of someway to win, Mom would never get into this situation, she'd just smash the gunship, cripple the sub and fly off to enjoy a night on the town without breaking a sweat. Me? I'm so far over my head I'm halfway to China.
While I was thinking that the gunship did another tight pivot by angling it's engine pods, the gunner snapped a few quick bursts that came close but didn't hit, the gunship continued it's pivot and started backing up giving me a clear shot at the undamaged side I hadn't been able to hit before. This was bad, the crew of the gunship was starting to fight better the longer we fought. I needed to do something clever to win this fight, and I wasn't feeling to clever. I turned and shot for the sub figuring that I'd best likely to be shot at if the sub was in the line of fire, my desperate move paid off as the gunship and I kept manoeuvring but it couldn't fire at without risking the sub. At this rate the fight would be won on who ran out of gas first, me or the gunship.
At this I had one of those light bulb moments. Gas, fuel, air. If I could...
I shot towards the gunship twisting and turning to avoid any shots hoping that the pilot would try to hold steady to give his gunner a better shot at the hard target, he did. I might not need the gunship to hold still but it might help, as I climbed I turned towards on of the engine pods. By now I was close enough I could see where I hit the wing and pod previously doing no damage. This time would be different. I reached out and created a globe of dark matter covering the air intake of the engine pod, the engine made what I can only describe as huge farting sound and flame spewed from the exhaust as the fuel starved for air in the engine ignited as it hit the hot metal of the engine's nozzle. The engine could take that abuse, but loosing the thrust all of sudden on one side caught the pilot by surprise, the gunship flipped in mid air, out of control and cartwheeled crashing into the ocean below us.
I stared in shock amazed that my crazy idea had worked, and at how fast the gunship had crashed, the raft's wing had broken off but the main body was slowly bobbing in the waves. I spun to face the sub, the people on the deck were all staring at me with looks of shock. That's when I saw Norika, she had just appeared on the top of the tower and jumped over the heads of the men in the control tower of the sub. She was running towards me with a hopeful look on her face, with look of someone who suddenly has hope. To her I was her hero, here to rescue her from the hell that was Biowar and his bondage obsessed mind raping girlfriend, what she couldn't see was from another hatch some of the sub's crew had started setting up some kind of weapon on the deck.
I just hovered there, I could be the superhero, rush in and fight my way to Norika and maybe save her. Or I could run saving myself. It was no choice, I wasn't going to be a superhero, all superheroes do is get people killed. I flipped over and dove for the surface of ocean racing away from the sub as fast as I could go, so fast that my eyes filled with tears from the speed. It was the speed, just the speed that made my eyes water I told myself as I ran away from a friend.
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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It was at this point in my story that I had to take a break, my throat was dry from all the talking I did, so I went in the kitchen to get a drink. It had nothing to do with the fact that I didn't want to cry in front of Agent Bane. I didn't even want to cry in front myself dammit.
When I could trust my voice again I spoke, “Did you want anything.” I called from the kitchen, just to buy a little more time to get myself under control.
“No thank you.” Was Agent Bane's response. Dammit time to face the music I thought.
As I returned to the main room I noticed that Bane was still in the same place he'd been since we'd started this whole conversation. That was kinda freaky, he was so still like he was a robot or a statue or something, he caught me looking at him as I was thinking that. A corner of his mouth twitched in what might have been a grin on anyone else, and he shifted slightly.
“No Kory I'm not a robot, and I'm just as human as you, perhaps more or less depending on what scale you use.”
I'll admit I jumped at bit at that, what the hell, how did he know what I was thinking? Crap he's a mind reader...
“Also I don't read minds so no need to worry about that.” I opened my mouth to speak but he continued, “All I am is just very good at noticing things and seeing patterns, and using that to anticipate and predict behavior and actions. The answer to your next question is 'no', I'm not a mutant. Just highly talented and trained.”
I'll admit that so far he was right, that was going to be my next question. After a few seconds I unfroze and went back to the couch I had been sitting on. I just looked at Bane my mind buzzing with questions, “Ok thanks for sharing I guess, but...” He interrupted.
“Why did I tell you Kory? Trust. You needed to trust me more than you already do, so I told you something of myself to encourage you to continue to open up. The next part of your story will likely involve things you don't want to talk about, for personal reasons as well as you've been brought up to regard myself and any member of Law Enforcement as a threat.” He might have smiled at that, but his eyes never left my face. “If I had been raised as you and your sister had been I'd have the same reaction.” He paused, “That was me expressing empathy for your situation, again to make you more comfortable opening up to me about your recent events. Why am I telling you this? You are smart and wary, you would reach the conclusion that I manipulated you likely after I left but before you went to sleep tonight, that would have damaged our relationship, making more difficult for you to trust me. Which will be important later.”
I just sat there staring at Bane. This was really unnerving, like a stage magician telling you how the trick was done, but you still couldn't figure it out. “So what am I going to do next smart guy?” I'll admit I was feeling very exposed and defensive. This Bane guy didn't even acknowledge my attitude, it was like it never mattered to him, he just responded with same tone and expression.
“That is your choice, no matter how much you want someone to make that choice for you I'll not influence your action no more than I already have. However I will answer questions and provide information so you can make an informed choice. So to set your mind at ease anything about your arrangements in Karedonia will not be reported to my superiors unless such information pertains to an active case, or an upcoming crime that involves significant damage or loss of life. Or if in the course of informing me I believe lack of action on my part could result in significant harm to yourself.” As I was thinking about what he said he continued, “I do have degrees in Criminal Law and Psychology, normal and abnormal. That was your next line of inquiry, and no you cannot retain my services to invoke client or patient confidentiality.”
This was bloody freaky, I would have felt more comfortable if he had been a robot or a mutant. But still he had been honest with me rather than hiding all this...wait a minute. “Ok what aren't you telling me!?”
“A great many things, which are not relevant at this moment in time.” He shifted slightly, I noticed that he was back in the same position he was when I went into the kitchen. Had he even blinked I wondered, I was almost certain he did but...Ok time to go back to my ever so great origin story, it was less disturbing than this conversation. Just change a few names and things around to protect the guilty.
When people talk about Karedonia depending on who they are various images pop up in your head. Massive engineering project and Wonder of the Modern Age, shinning example of how a supervillain can turn over a new leaf, hellhole of human rights abuses, the place to do cutting edge research, newest resort hot spot in the world, wretched hive of scum and villainy, the money laundering capital of the world (a fact much in dispute among other tax havens), pioneer in deep earth mining, a brave social experiment...etc etc. Basically Karedonia is a bit of everything to everyone. What they don't talk about is how to find it. Most people don't need to worry about that bit, they just board a plane and it's pilot's problem, or a boat and it's the captain's problem, or have their minions take of it. You get the idea.
My problem was a bit different, gawd that sounds like my new theme for my life, I didn't know where I was. The ocean doesn't have street signs, or clearly labelled highway markers. When I stopped running and took the time to look around all I could see was, water, sky and clouds. I found the sun, but without knowing if it's coming up or going down I couldn't figure if I was facing east or west. Now I was somewhere warm, so the poles are out, and it's unlikely I'm in the Pacific. Which was as far as I could get. My next thought was get some altitude so I could see farther, find a landmass I could recognize and work from there.
So I started climbing, as I was doing that my brain was ticking over trying to remember what I read about navigation, while I could recall those books they all had one thing in common, tools and charts which I didn't have. I suppose I could just pick a direction and set off, but with my luck I'd end up in Iceland before I found Karedonia.
So I was climbing past the clouds looking around when I saw something on the horizon that might be land, so I started heading that way. That's when I saw something, a wake from a ship, that's even better I thought. A short time later I'd caught up with the ship, which turned out to be cargo ship of some kind. My luck was changing I thought, not only did the most of crew speak English but after bit of conversation which involved me telling them over and over again that I wasn't going attack them, rob them, and the like they gave me some good news. That thing I saw on the horizon, it was land, Puerto Rico in fact. Which meant that Karedonia was THAT way, and not half way around the world. A quick 'thank you' and I was on my way.
Since Karedonia is one of the larger islands in the Caribbean, yay for Gizmatic's ego compensation, I imagined I'd have an easy time hitting it. All I needed to do was fly in straight line until I saw land, how hard can that be? Go ahead laugh, get it out your system, at least I didn't end up on Iceland. I'd been flying for a few minutes when it hit me, I'd broken the guy code, I'd stopped and asked for directions! This girl thing is insidious.
Also the flying in a straight line thing is harder than it looks, mostly because there is nothing to do, it's like being on long car trip with no music, games, and no distractions. I have no idea how long I flew but I soon saw a mountain rising which I hope was Mt. Wilkins, again yay for Gizmatic compensating for something, as I drew closer the rest of the island appeared and I began to make out signs of buildings. I was really tempted to pour on the speed but good manners and a healthy sense of self preservation caused me to slow down.
Good manners are important, especially when dealing with supervillains, while most supervillains think nothing of robbery, murder, kidnapping and jaywalking, those same supervillains will always call ahead when visiting each other or make some kind of arrangement like only flying in such a way and such a pattern. Why you ask? Well if you do burst in on Lord Darkity-Dark all unexpected you have only yourself to blame when the defenses blow a you-shaped hole in reality and the sad truth is most supervillains have the trigger discipline of a ferret on meth. So...be polite.
Once I thought I was close enough to land I stopped flying forwards and just hovered there waiting. I didn't have to wait long, something that looked like the bigger, nastier version of those Hunter-Killer drones from the Terminator movies showed up and pointed a very large collection of weaponry at me, to my amusement I noticed after a few seconds it had very stylish paint job, white, blue, black, with the crest of Karedonia on the nose of the drone, on the sides neatly lettered were the words 'Royal Karedonian Coast Guard'. I started laughing, only Gizmatic would put enough weapons on his Coast Guard to re-fight the Battle of the Pacific...
It should come as no surprise that Karedonia has one of the best health systems in the Caribbean, at least the most efficient, I mean it has robot cops, why not have robotic health professionals? As soon I was escorted to the local police station to explain what I was doing, and got as far as explaining about the bio-weapon implant, I was then quickly hauled to a local hospital, poked, prodded, scanned and had the implant removed by a cross between a robotic surgical team and a bomb disposal unit overseen by several human doctors. I have to say they seemed almost bored by the whole thing, like it was something they'd done so many times before that it was routine to them. It wasn't boring for me, I was awake the whole time they cracked open my chest to pull Biowar's implant out of my lung. It seems that absorbing energy to heal really fast when I'm unconscious is a bad thing when robot doctors are working on you. Something to worry about for the future.
I'd fully healed up by the time they wheeled me out the door, someone had thoughtfully installed a huge battery in the wheelchair I was being pushed around in, so my post-op recovery was all of ten minutes. I was in and out so fast even with finishing my statement to the cops, that I never got to try the hospital food. Which was too bad, I've heard the robo-chiefs at Wilkins' Royal Hospital are amazing. So I'm standing on the street corner wondering what to do now when a big official looking car pulls up and asks me, by name, to get inside. Yes the car asked, robo-drivers of course. I've been to Karedonia twice before, I've always liked it, as a bit of science nerd myself it's nice to see someone using tech to make things better, rather than stuff their pockets, not that Gizmatic doesn't make fair bit coin while being a nice tyrant.
Clean streets, clean buildings, tasteful graffiti that was painted on officially allowed walls, people walking around with purpose and a smile, a Dalek cop on every street corner, Karedonia might not be paradise, but it tries damm hard. Just don't go looking too deep and find the human experiment labs, open air blackest of black markets, the cutting edge drug refineries etc. Which to be fair you can find in any country in the world if you look hard enough, however in Karedonia you can find those businesses in the phone book, is that corrupt or honest? I don't know but useful.
The car whisked me to my destination efficiently, I could have really used more, alot more time to just deal with what had happened. I'd been going on pure survival mode, now that I was safe, I could just feel everything that I'd been refusing to deal with trying to claw it's way out of me. I really, really could use...a friend, but I'd abandoned her back on that sub, that was on me. I really wanted to, I dunno do something, scream, cry, hit something, I was so aware of how much on the edge I was. It seems I could do crisis just fine, it was the tranquil times that I couldn't handle.
“Miss we have arrived, please exit the vehicle please.” The car spoke. “Someone will meet you inside.”
I had been lost in thought that I hadn't noticed that the car had been stopped for a few minutes. Startled and grateful for the interruption of my oncoming mental breakdown, I got out and looked around. The building was huge by the local standards and severe looking, concrete and steel, with small windows and a heavy security presence. As I stood wondering what to do a small mountain walked up to me.
This person was HUGE, I had to look way up to see his face, he was easily nine feet tall and almost as wide, hugely muscled, his darkly colored face had a collection tribal tattoos that added to the intimidating look, on seeing me he gave me a close lipped smile that was intended to friendly. He was dressed in business casual style adjusted for the Caribbean, which meant that his case the suit had enough material to make several sails out of.
“Ah Miss Cummings I presume?” I had to blink at the sound of his voice, James Earl Jones would be jealous of this guy voice, he had an accent that I couldn't place.
“Um yes.” I answered weakly. Damm this guy had presence in spades.
“My name is William Copper, I represent the Syndicate in this matter.” The name rang a faint bell but I couldn't place it. He stopped and looked down at me, effectively placing me in the shade of his huge mass.
“Uh, pleased to meet you.” I held my hand, and his huge mitt engulfed mine, he was aware of his strength and gave my a gentle shake.
“And I you as well my dear,” Damm his voice was amazing, the smile faded from his face as he continued to speak, “If you are who you claim to be, then this shall be over quickly. I must warn you, that if this is some sort of confidence scheme, it will not end well for yourself.” With that he smiled showing his mouthful of teeth, teeth that had more than a passing resemblance to a shark's teeth.
I stepped back at the smile, it really was unnerving, once the shock had faded I remembered just who this guy was. With that I hovered up to his eye level, “I am Amanda Cummings' child, her...” I stumbled of the next bit almost saying 'son', “...daughter and only living heir,” I paused certain in my guess of his identity, “So let's proceed King Carnivore.”
He blinked when I said his name, and the smile became more natural, much less of a threat. King Carnivore was a nasty supervillain back in the 80s, he worked in the South Pacific as a pirate lord. Very strong and tough, claws, teeth, breathe water, but what made him a bite above the rest was his connection to a shark god of some-kind, he could use that connection to feed on parts of the soul of his defeated enemies and gain some of their power. He also would feed on his victim's bodies sometimes. He was supposed to have been killed by a team of Japanese heroes when he went all eco-warrior and attacked a Japanese whaling fleet.
He laughed, a big rolling laugh, “I haven't heard that name in almost twenty years, but let us continue this discussion inside, over refreshments or a lite lunch if you...” My stomach reacted at the word 'lunch' loudly announcing it's intention to massacre anything food-like, I blushed in embarrassment. “...ah, hearty lunch it is then. No need to take care of legal matters on an empty stomach.” He lead me inside the building and to a fancy cafeteria where I tried to match his appetite, I failed badly. At least the table was intact after we both finished.
Over the remains of a table full of food we engaged in some small talk, he told me after healing from his last public fight he changed jobs. Got a law degree and found that defeating his enemies in a courtroom almost as satisfying as tearing off a limb and eating it, and his spiritual patron considered winning a fight in a court to count as defeating his enemies, so he got to eat part of their souls and gain some of their power, which he went on to explain gave his legal skills quite the boost. That was how he rose to level of Syndicate Assistant Legal Attache to the realm of Karedonia so fast, he also confided that he made an obscene amount of money, much more than he ever made as a black mask.
The subtext of the conversation was obvious, King Carnivore was no more, William Copper was a company man who enjoyed his job for the Syndicate, and made enough money that he couldn't be bribed. So this upcoming business concerning my Mom's inheritance was going to be completely above board, or else I might end up being a snack for this lawyer. A point that was driven home when Mr. Copper, with an apologetic look to me, began to dislodge some remnants of the meal that had been stuck in his teeth by using a steak-knife as a toothpick, the steak-knife lost badly. Once he was finished he gestured for me to follow him to deal with business.
I was just following along when I realized this was it, Mom was dead, not only in my head but to rest of the world. She'd just be a footnote in some file and forgotten, a life of fifty years as a supervillain, two kids, everything she was, gone. Here I was just treating this as a chore to be done, I hadn't even said goodbye to her, not even in my own mind. What was wrong with me?
Mr. Copper looked over his shoulder when he noticed I had stopped following, I can't imagine what he saw on my face but he understood and hustled me to a nearby washroom. I hit the door running, scaring a woman in front of the mirror as I bolted for a stall. I just sat there for I don't know how long, tears running down my face, shaking as all the stuff that happened to me just tried to spill out. After a bit someone tapped on the door and spoke.
“Hey, kid you going to be all right?” The voice was soft, with an Aussie accent, and sounded concerned.
I snuffled a bit, then blew my nose, “Umm, y-yes.” I nearly came apart again, I could handle being attacked, kidnapped and the like, but some sympathy nearly makes me fall apart, how screwed up am I?
“Bullshit.” The concern was still there but with more than a touch of disbelief, the voice continued. “Look I don't what happened but...”
I interrupted, “My Mom died, and I have to do her will.”
“Shit, I mean crap. A...Look I'm sorry, I just, well look kid...”
“Name's Corey.” I interrupted again.
“Ann. Listen kid...Corey, I'd like to say I know what your feeling, but that's bullshit, no one does but you. How you deal with loss isn't important, as long as you deal with it. You have to find your own method, if it's bottling everything up until you're all alone to break down, that's good. If you go out and party your ass off, drink until you can't remember who died and how that guy got in your bed the next day, it's ok.” That last bit was dealt with bone dry wit, so much so that small chuckle escaped. On the heels of the chuckle came a half sob. The voice, Ann, continued to speak, “Whatever you do, do it as long as you really feel better in the end. Don't play a part that you think you supposed to play, in the end it's you that matters not everyone else around you.”
“Voice of experience?” I replied when she'd finished.
“Yeah, and remember that experience is what you get after you really need it. All I'll say is that I wish someone had given me this advice 10 years and a 100 bad choices ago.”
I giggled at that, I wish I could have said laughed or chuckled but it sounded like a giggle. I wiped my face one last time and slowly left the stall. Ann the person I'd been talking to was a tough looking woman, short blonde hair wearing combats and body armor. She gave a half smile when she saw me and spoke, “Pleased ta meet ya. You look like shit.” She dragged me over to the sink, “Get yourself cleaned up and face the world Kory.” With that I started to clean my face off, blowing my nose and that. Ann continued to speak, “Your lucky you're so young, if I went on a crying jag like you did, I'd be fixing this old face up with so much war paint that it could stop small calibre bullets.” When she saw my weak grin she continued, “There we go, feeling better?”
I thought about it and realized that I did feel better, more something. I gave a nod and a smile, she just motioned to the door and said, “You first, you've got a lawyer waiting, never keep a lawyer waiting they have friends in low and infernal places.”
Taking her advice I left before the lawyer in question sent a strike team to find me. Mr Copper was waiting outside patiently, and quick look at my face seemed to satisfy him and we proceeded to his office. Which was impressive, since it was sized for him, the marble desk could have been used as a foundation for a small home and the chair was equally large built to his size and weight out of chromed I-beams. Law books covered one wall, on his desk was a high end PC with huge keyboard made out of more shinny metal, and a few newspapers. Slightly unnerving was the wall behind him, it being a floor to ceiling fish tank with a few sharks swimming in it and looking at me with disturbing intentness and intelligence, at least they had no frickin' laser beams attached to their heads I was glad to see.
“Miss Cummings?” His voice grabbed my attention. “I'm sorry for your loss, I should have said something sooner, but working for the Syndicate hardens one to loss, and we expect others to share that viewpoint.” I just nodded, I didn't trust my voice right now. “I've read the statement you gave the police when you arrived, I don't need much more from you to start the process of turning over Darklight's, aka Amanda Cummings, estate to yourself, at least the parts held in trust by the Syndicate.” He looked right at me all of sudden very serious, “However Darklight made no mention of a daughter named Corey, she did mention a son named Corey in her documents. Could you clear that up?”
He waited, looking at me.
I opened my mouth, but I couldn't say anything. How the hell could I have thought this would be easy, how could I tell someone what Biowar did to me?
“I...”, the shakes started as I spoke, “was changed by Biowar...” Stop shaking I screamed at myself, suck it up Mom wouldn't be scared and freaking out like this! You have to be as tough as her! “He did something to me that made me into...” I stopped, I couldn't go any farther.
“I know it's hard Corey but you need to say it, I can tell you that you are not the only person who has experienced such a radical change. I know of at least two people who are in your exact situation.” Mr. Copper looked at me with a neutral expression, “However unless you explain what happened to you, on the record I can't proceed. We need to confirm you are Darklight's... daughter. And yes I'm aware of how ridiculous it is that a criminal organization has to do this above board. In fact with all the 'missing and presumed dead', 'dead but came back to life', and all the other insanity that happens around the 'cape and cowl' that I've seen over the years I'm surprised the Syndicate's identity procedures are so relaxed.”
I was grateful for his long winded explanation, it gave me time to get myself back under control. Once I was sure I could continue, “Biowar had my mother killed, he then used her DNA to save me when I had a burnout.” Deep breath, keep going. “Because he used her DNA it made me...” I could feel the shakes starting, how would Copper react, revulsion, sympathy. I think I could handle anything but sympathy. “...it gave me, changed me into a girl as well as gave me powers like Mom's.” I couldn't tell what he was thinking.
“I see, thank you for telling me Corey. Now we just need to verify your claim and we can start the process of turning over to you your mother's assets the Syndicate has access to.”
“Verify? How can I do that?” This was not what I was expecting. “Do you want her password or something?”
“Hmm,” Mr. Copper gave me one of those shark tooth smiles, “That would be ideal, as I said our ID checks are relaxed.”
“Ok then, the password is swordfish, wait!” I interrupted as he started to type, “It's all one word.”
He resumed typing, the raised his eyebrow at me. “It's invalid.”
What the hell, that was her password, I know it is, what is... Dammit! “Uh did you type in just 'swordfish'?”
Copper looked at his screen, nodded at me. Out of the corner of my eye the sharks in the tank started to look hopeful that the next meal might be early. “Wait, wait, type in 'the password is swordfish' as one word, no spaces, the entire phrase. No caps, no funny symbols.” That got an odd look on his face, he started typing again. This time he smiled.
“It seems that it worked much better this time around. My apologizes for scaring you.” He chuckled, “Very clever and quite easy to remember.”
I swallowed my nerves still jumping, “Yeah, Mom had a thing for John Travolta ever since Pulp Fiction, and she loved movies where the bad guy wins.”
Copper let out a rich laugh at that, “I do as well, in fact I'd wager alot of us black mask types do,” He winked at me in an exaggerated manner, “I'll admit 'The Usual Suspects' to be one of my guilty pleasures.” The computer dinged drawing his attention to it. “Well it seems that Ms Cummings had quite a few assets entrusted to us. I'll let you examine the accounts in private, if you have any questions I'll be outside.” With that he motioned to his computer, and left me in private.
I wasted no time in checking the details showing, most of it was just normal Syndicate frontpage stuff that you'd see with any other investment company, if you ignored the details about shell companies, blackmarket stocks and bonds, exchange rates on narcotics and the like, used and overstock gear was always good for a laugh in the past, I mean 'low body count used death ray for sale' makes you wonder.
Not this time though, this time was...I froze up again, just staring at the screen. No matter how I did things from here on in my life was over as I knew it. It had been over ever since Biowar kidnapped me, but now it was like really real. No more Corey just trying to stay unnoticed and mark time until I graduated, no more goofing off. No more chilling with my bodyguards back home at the safe house, or bugging them to drive me to some meeting about whatever I was interested in, no more trying to bribe them into buying some beer for me to try. I hadn't even given them one thought what had happened to them? Where they looking for me or more likely trying to find deep hole to hide in imagining how Mom would react to my being kidnapped.
A quick search turned up several newspaper articles about my kidnapping, I was surprised to see that Jason was listed as alive but in critical condition, the attack at the mall was being blamed on mutant terrorists since several of the parents of the kids attacked had high level jobs. Nothing about me I noticed, in fact nothing about a kidnapping at all. That was all kinds of wrong, that meant that someone was keeping quiet about the one kid that was grabbed, Mom had gotten good fake IDs for us, but how good? Did the cops figure who I was, and then figure out who Mom was? If the local cops had found out the Feds and the MCO wouldn't be far behind.
'Home Invasion Turns Tragic' was the next article I read, it seems some gang broke into my house and killed everyone in it, 5 bodies found. Shit. Abe, Bob, Chuck, Dave, my bodyguards but who was the fifth? Oh crap, Jamie our part time housekeeper...shit she must have shown up early or something and...shit she had family and kids! Dammit! Why do the good people always end up dying, why is it the fuckers responsible get away with it? I just kinda curled up in the huge chair for few minutes trying not to react or even act. One more bit of crap in this shit sandwich that's my life.
Eventually I started going through Mom's records, there was alot more than I thought there would be, Mom had always bitched and moaned about the price of everything and she was damm mercenary. I don't know what I expected, but what I got was an eyeopener. Mom was rich, not rich-rich, but certainly in the retire and live comfortably bracket. This made no sense, Mom had issues with balancing a checkbook, what the hell was she doing with multiple bank accounts and investments? Why didn't I know about any of this stuff? Then there was a section called 'physical assets' with a bunch of ID numbers. This was getting way over my head.
Fortunately I had a lawyer outside the door that would help...wait a minute why does he want to help? I could feel Mom's mercenary gene kick in, how much money will his help cost me, and can I afford the price? No one does anything out of the goodness of their heart unless they have one hand on your wallet and the other hand with knife ready to stab you. With that firmly in mind it was now time to call for help.
Help arrived, in the form of some aggressive negotiation we, meaning me, settled for Mr. Copper helping me for the paltry sum of $1000 an hour, plus additional fees as needed if blah-blah-blah, honestly my eyes started to glaze over and my brain went somewhere else by that point. Mostly what I was thinking was, 'One grand per hour! Why don't more villains become lawyers if they want to make a killing?' maybe it says something about the legal business that supervillains find being a lawyer distasteful?
Anyways most of the afternoon was spent transferring access from various accounts to me, well not me, it was pointed out I had no legal identity right now, but to a company that I owned all the stock to, but was controlled by one William Copper, Esq. Until my legal identity was fixed of course, but leaving Mr. Copper running everything for exchange of a percentage of the profit the company and it's assets...ghaa!! My brain just starts to haze out at this point.
Mr. Copper did have a few good suggestions such as for a small fee, he could broker a deal to get me a real fake ID. He suggested just using my real name, but change the spelling to 'Kory', then his guy would do some computer magic and make 'Kory' real and 'Corey' fake. That way most of the paper trail would be real, so that would make the fake real ID really real, I think. I just nodded at the appropriate time and place, most of the talk about making false identities was over my head. My contributions were more personal, I asked Mr. Copper to create a fake life insurance policy for my former housekeeper Jamie's family. It was only money after all. Funny I never thought much about all the other fake IDs I'd lived with in the past, it was just 'let's move, here is your new ID' usually the move would be in the middle of the night with just a couple of backpacks type of move.
This ID would be me, from now on until...well whatever. Mr Copper's idea for using 'Kory' instead of 'Corey' made sense if anything went wrong I could just say that somewhere someone made a mistake with how my name was spelled. I briefly considered keeping 'Ryan' for my middle name but changed that to 'Renee'. I made a few changes to Kory Renee Cummings past mostly attending several private schools that had most of their students existing only on paper, the schools and stuff like that existed just for the purpose of making fake histories real. I was told that 90 percent of the new ID would be done inside of a week.
Late afternoon I was starting to suffer from writer’s cramp from signing so much paperwork, my brain and my eyes had stopped speaking to each other due to excessive legal document overload. I was so relieved to have Mr Copper call an end to the torture only to be told that more paperwork would be forthcoming in the next few weeks. Even more good news was that I had money now, a temporary bank card in my name so I could buy stuff. Like a hotel room, a private hotel room, and real clothes not this skin tight sportswear stuff, a real bed to sleep in...
I just couldn't do it. It was sometime after midnight and I wasn't in the arms of Morpheus, I wasn't even in my fancy hotel room I was lurking near a beach bar listening to the lousy music and looking at the people just having fun. I couldn't sleep, every time tried I'd just lurch awake in a panic at something.
After nearly waking up screaming several times I just gave up. I tried watching TV but that was bust as well, as there was nothing on TV that I could watch without freaking out about. It was like all my normal reactions weren't there anymore, everything that effected me was too much or not at all. I gave up trying to read I just couldn't relax by myself, every noise, or something at the corner of my eye just freaked me out. With people around me I could keep it together but even then I was so aware of them, it was like I had all my mental defenses up in public, I could cope in public. By myself with just myself, I couldn't keep my cool, all the shit that happened to me and my family just overwhelmed me.
What was I going to do? I was a mess, unfortunately I was a hot mess. I was so glad right now I was in Karedonia, anywhere else looking like I did I would have been hit on constantly but not here, a hot girl looking like me tells a guy to leave her alone so she can mope and be all depressed they leave her alone. The fact that I was sitting on a public bench 10 feet from a Dalek robocop might have helped get my message across. Death rays promote politeness I guess.
I needed help was the depressing conclusion I had reached sometime in the early morning but I had no one I could turn to, everyone was dead that could help me, or a captive of Biowar. I had no friends that I could turn to...wait a second I had no friends that could help me...but maybe just maybe, Mom, Darklight had some friends that I could turn to. It was the start of May, so maybe just maybe I did have someone I could turn to. A quick email back at the hotel from Mom's Syndicate account to another Syndicate account confirmed what I hoped. The Four Furies were using the villa that Mom had a timeshare in. I quickly sent an email to the leader of the Four Furies that I was in trouble and I needed to stop by at the villa that alot of shit had happened.
I quickly ordered a robocab to drive to the villa. It was a bit of drive but I was able to keep myself under control for the trip out there. Mostly by worrying what the hell I was going to say when I got there, and if I could talk fast enough to keep from getting killed when a girl showed up rather than the old me. I think I've mentioned that supervillains do not like surprises. This was going to a surprise to everyone involved, I just worried about living through the next hour.
Which is where I ended up at the villa which we stayed at a few times back in happier times. Mom had gotten a sweetheart deal and referral on the place in her more active days as Darklight, it wasn't one of big high end villas that you might see on Karedonia, it only had 2 and a half floors, beach access, completely furnished, gym/spa thing, fourteen foot high reinforced concrete fence, automatic defense systems you know the usual. The high end villas had better defenses more room and separate cabins for minions. This was really just a getaway retreat for people in the biz to seriously relax. I, Mom and I hadn't been back since Val died. Val had loved it here the only way you get her out of the ocean and off the beach was with explosives, and even then she'd whine for week after. When I went through Mom's accounts at the lawyer's I been surprised to see she'd still been keeping up with payments on the place.
One of the groups that Mom was into the timeshare with was a group called the Four Furies, a bunch of supervillainesses, or would that be female supervillains, that had a standing offer to Mom to make the team the 'Five Furies', I know Mom was seriously thinking about it before Val, well you know. In fact Mom trusted them enough to leave us kids with them while she pulled a few jobs, or had to run hard and fast from the law. So if she could trust them with her kids lives, soit follows I should be able to trust them to help me right? Besides if worse came to worse I had money now so bribery was always an option.
The downside was that I looked nothing like the brat that they had agreed to watch four years ago, and I doubted I could prove it fast enough that if it devolved into suspicion and violence. The upside is that the leader of the bunch was 'HeadCase' and she had some mind powers, I really did not want someone in my head again, EVER, but I might just have to let her read my mind to prove my identity. So that was the plan and here I was, just standing around instead of doing something. Dammit why couldn't I be more like Mom or Val? I meant in attitude not in the whole girl thing. I was doing it again wasn't I? Just freaking out and getting nothing done, I could cut and run, find some nice hole in ground with all the comforts I needed and only stick my head outside every now and then.
Or I could do what Mom would do which is man up and move forward at high speed and get this shit done. With that I rang the bell. Don't be scared I kept telling myself. It wasn't really working, I started to shake from nerves as I waited. The sun was just starting to rise so I hoped they wouldn't be too pissed off at this total stranger walking them up this early. It was just then that I noticed something. That something was a cold edge pressed against my throat, the knife was trembling like it was trying to slice my neck but whoever was holding it was keeping the blade in check.
Well this was not going good, but the good news is that I knew the person holding the knife. Only one of the Four Furies had a thing for knives and slashy pointy things so while I was feeling nervous, okay, near panicked, but again it was like with my life in danger I felt better than I did at rest, best of all I knew I was going to safe a few minutes.
“Relax Warbride, I just need to talk to HeadCase.” I tried to keep the panic out of my voice. “She can help me explain what's going on ok?”
“Who is Warbride?” A voice I did not know replied, the voice was a girl's, sounding quite amused.
Shit. Oh shit.
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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“... and that's story.” I babbled looking at three women in front of me, the fourth person was still behind me holding a knife to my throat. However I was now inside the villa and not much had changed in the main room since I was last here, the entertainment center was newer and larger, oh and someone had put down some canvas that I was standing on. Which explained why I had told my story so fast and in such high pitched voice that likely all the dogs nearby had run for the hills.
I knew only two of the people in front of me. The person that I directed the majority of my attention to was H|eadCase the leader of the Four Furies, she in turn was staring intently at me and I couldn't tell what she was thinking.
HeadCase, also known a few years back as Aunt Savannah, or as Savannah Roarke to the police, was a fit mid 30s looking woman with a few noticeable differences. HeadCase had gotten into the black mask biz when her ex-boyfriend talked her into joining up with some mad scientist type. His pitch to her was to work for the mad science guy and get some superpowers, then go on a rampage knocking over banks and retire to the good life. Yeah like that has ever worked.
HeadCase got a brain boost but it had side effects, nearly lethal side effects. Her brain started growing larger, but her skull didn't, the solution was to remove the top and back of her skull to give brain room to grow. A larger dome of some kind of transparent metal replaced the old bone and scalp. As result she was damn smart while having some psychic abilities. She lost her left arm somehow, but had built herself an awesome replacement cyberarm that looked like it was made of some golden metal. Her spine had also been replaced when some hero type nearly killed her, but that was much more low key, just a few scars and a couple nerve ports if I remembered right. She had few other improvements tucked away inside her body I think. HeadCase herself looked mostly average, fitter than most people her age, which I think she said is 29 and holding. Right now her green eyes were locked onto me and she was wearing a suit of light body armor with more than a few weapons hanging off of her combat harness and some large high tech looking backpack. Usually she's a sweetheart, she has that whole southern charm thing going, unless you piss her off then nine kinds of hell will come your way. Oh her last name is pronounced like 'Row-Ar-k' any other way means you a damn Yankee. Fair warning.
Standing next to her was Lady Dee, the other member I knew from before. What can I tell you about Lady Dee, well she's the group's spellslinger and a damn good one. Oh and back when I was male she was the number one reason I entered puberty at an accelerated rate, she looks like one of those sexy demon chicks, but turned up to eleven. Tall but very curvy, white hair with purple streaks this time, glowing blue eyes, cute twisted horns, fangs, bat wings, the devils tail, oh and wicked nails that can cut body armor. She was barely dressed in a chain mail bikini thing with magickal jewelry everywhere. Lady Dee has been around for a long time, since the 50's at least from some of the stuff she's said around me in the past but only started being noticed since the 80's. She should be the leader of the Four Furies but she can't be bothered with the headache since it would interfere with her number one priority which would be living the life of debauchery. Lady Dee knows she has a rep as a very bad girl and keeps trying to live down to it with all her might, when not on the job she prefers to be called DeeDee. Which is not her cup size, that would be more like 'EE' if she ever wore a bra.
Which brings me to someone new, this person was standing of to the side just staring at me. She was maybe seven feet tall and built like an Amazon, one that looked like a shiny metal statue that had been stuffed with explosives and frozen in time just as the blast happened. Her metallic body had hundreds of cracks with some kind of energy glowing from the cracks, as if she was about finish blowing up any second. She had a mirror black visor/facemask thing going on that hid most of her face, the rest of her outfit was very normal, board shorts and t-shirt both with burn marks all over them. I had no idea who she was, no matter how hard I racked my brain I couldn't place her. Still if she was part of the Furies she had to be in the same class as HeadCase and Lady Dee, which meant do not piss her off unless you wanted to find out the answer about that whole 'life after death thing'.
The two members I expected to see here where Warbride a kickass redhead, who claimed to be an avatar of a goddess of war, and having seen her shoot and practice with her swords I didn't call bullshit on that. The other was De@thAmp, a lightning blaster that had a serious heavy metal theme going on and that took militant feminism to heart. I was sorta glad De@thAmp wasn't here to be honest, she could be a problem when she started ranting and raging, because it was short jump to real Rager incident that wrecks the local environment.
I just kept my attention on HeadCase hoping to look scared, which was easy to do with knife at my throat and the drop cloth I was standing on, and hopeful, if I could figure out how to do those puppy dog eyes thing I would've tried that as well.
“Ok...'Kory' let's say I believe you enough not to have you killed and rolled up and dropped in the ocean right now,” The implications about it happening later went unsaid, “Convince me not do it latter.” Ok forget implications, we are still in the open threats stage of this meet and greet. Not good.
“Uh...well you and Mom were friends and you know me I was just hoping that I could...” The voice behind me holding the knife interrupted at that point.
“Bored, please let us kill her, it's been ages,” The girls voice sounded both cheerful and creepy at the same time. “We''ll help clean up the blood this time, and we won't even lick any of it up, please, please.” Ok now MAJOR creepy voice continued with a bit of a pleading whine.
“No Loli, don't kill anyone until I tell you, that's the deal you made.” HeadCase's reply sounded slightly amused but mostly exasperated. She then focused back to me and motioned me to continue speaking.
I really didn't know what to say at this point, nothing had gone the way I'd imagined. “I need...help. I don't have anyone else to help me. Everyone else that...well they are all dead, you're the closest thing I've got to family that might help me.” Dammit I could feel the tears starting up again, I wanted to be strong a tough like my Mom, she'd never get into a situation like this, why is everything I do always going wrong.
“Ohhh she's in pain she is. Please, please let us put her out of her misery. We''ll be quick just like we were with Daddy.” The voice behind me ended with a giggle at that.
“No means no!” HeadCase snapped. “Gawddammit if you can't control yourself then get out of here Loli, and keep going because if you...”
“Meanie!!” Yelled the voice behind me, it took every ounce of control not move and open my own throat on that knife. “Everybody's mean to us!” With that last whine the presence and the knife at my throat disappeared. I collapsed to my knees, superhuman strength or not my legs were like rubber at that point from relief.
“Well... that went better than I expected.” That seductive purr came from Lady Dee. “What do you think Polly?” The last was directed to the slow motion exploding statue that was now the closest person to me. Polly just nodded and wiggled her fingers, it took me a few seconds to realize that she was using sign language. I just looked between the three people while trying not to break down, scream or do anything that might make the situation worse. So far making things worse seemed to be my most powerful ability.
“Ok 'Kory',” I could hear the doubt at my name from HeadCase, “Now that we are not in danger of using up our free housekeeping service and body disposal coupons,” Lady Dee snickered at that and Polly\s shoulders' shook slightly. “You must've thought a bit about this, so what is your plan.”
“Uh,” I really didn't want to do this but... “Have you scan my head to prove my story?” I hated how doubtful I sounded, “After that well, throw myself on your mercy was about as far as I got at this time.”
“Come on Savannah, the poor kid is about to pass out or pee herself from fear, stop making her twist in the wind.” That was from Lady Dee, which was nice of her to say. “If she is Amanda’s son,” She paused giving me a once over look that made me feel even more exposed. “Er, daughter now, we should help her, besides that outfit doesn't do thing for her. I can't wait to take shopping I know this place with some sexy little bikinis that would look great on her.”
Ack, no bad demon chick. “Uh no! I don't want a bikini...”
Lady Dee cut me off with wicked smile and spoke, “Great, someone else who's not afraid to go topless AND bottomless. You go girl! You and I are going to have soo much fun together!” The last was delivered with very suggestive bounce and shimmy that did things various parts of her body that made me aware of my body's new parts dammit and lack of my old parts. The big metal woman lost it at this point laughing silently wrapping her arms around her stomach, from the cracks in her metal skin, more energy seemed to be leaking out, HeadCase just tried not to face palm, which didn't work.
“OK that's it! Who all is in charge of this gang of comics!!” HeadCase yelled, “Dee out! Go find Loli and make sure she's behaving herself!” Lady Dee pouted at that last command and swayed towards the door, “Dee! Put on some damm clothes on and don't freak the norms! We are on vacation! Best behaviour and try to think with something other than your uterus!!”
“No promises boss lady.” With that Lady Dee's form shimmered and became human looking, still drop dead sexy, but much less likely to cause a riot or an orgy. Her outfit changed was well into a too small bikini then an almost transparent robe formed on top of that, with a wicked giggle she left.
“Polly just what the hell with all the finger waving? Is your damn visor on the fritz AGAIN?!” Polly stopped silently laughing after few seconds then nodded. “Ok Polly,” HeadCase took a deep calming breath, “Give it here, I'll get it working right again.” The cracked metal statue reluctantly handed it over, and then carefully sat down on the floor. From the was she moved after the visor was removed I guessed she was blind without it. HeadCase just poked at the visor for few seconds muttering to herself.
For my part I just stayed very still, this was not what I was expecting. My last encounter with the Four Furies had left an impression of a bunch of highly trained and competent black masks. This was almost the complete opposite. What the hell?
HeadCase sighed and carefully handed the visor back to Polly who carefully put it back on. “I need more time Polly and some extra bits to fix the visor proper, sorry. The next time it starts going bad tell me. Please tell me.”
“I'm...sorry...but you know wh-what it means to meee.” The metal statue spoke, well I guess the visor/facemask spoke for her. The voice wavered and stuttered badly then smoothed out but in a slower tempo. “I didn't-t-t want to be more trouble.”
HeadCase just let her breath out slowly and tried to slump into a nearby couch only stop with a muttered curse as the high tech backpack dug into her back. “Again, Polly you are not trouble, your visor is not trouble, I like fixing things, it relaxes me. So for upteenth time tell me. Now for you,” With that HeadCase fixed me with glare, and tapped her brain case. “You sure you want me to scan you? It won't be pleasant.” I just nodded at that, I didn't want to speak, really, it had nothing to do with how dry my mouth had suddenly went at the idea of having someone else in my head.
All of a sudden something happened, my only other experience with mind stuff had been that bitch Tina onboard Biowar's sub, which was freaky for the utter lack of sensation. This was freaky because of the sensation. It was like my head was full of buzzing bees, thousands of them, and I could feel the bugs crawling around inside my head. It was as if parts of my mind attracted them, I could feel whatever this was settling on certain areas of my mind and leaving others alone. The pressure in my head spiked as if too many of these things were forcing themselves into spaces too small to fit.
It then got worse.
I started reliving my life at fast forward, the bad parts and the good parts, of course there were more bad parts than good parts or at least that was the way it felt. Every now and then the memories would slow down and linger or an image or a sensation. Other bad memories were replayed, how every time I just got to the point of liking where I was living and thinking of making friends, we'd have to move. I got to relive Mom telling me Val died because of that bitch Lady Astarte. Mom being forced to cut her own throat and what she felt again first and second hand with the memory of her memory. The look Norika's face as I ran away and left her. My more recent memories on Biowar's sub seemed to last the longest and had the most detail.
Gawd help me I didn't want to see this stuff, I didn't want to remember it but I couldn't stop thinking it, reliving it.
The memories stopped and I became aware of my self, my throat hurt I guess I had been screaming and I was curled up into ball on my side. My face was wet from the tears that were streaming down my face and every muscle in my body ached. No matter how bad I felt physically, my mind hurt worse, all the stuff I thought I had put behind me was back at full intensity right then and there all I wanted was to just curl up until the universe went away and left me alone.
Dimly I heard someone calling my name from a distance.
I came violently awake with smell of something vile under my nose that burned. I started awake trying to cough and sneeze at the same time, which lead to something I can only call hiccough fit. Someone was holding me up in a sitting position. Once things became clearer I realized that the person holding me was HeadCase and she was saying over and over that it was ok and that I was safe. In her embrace at that moment I could with little effort believe that things would be alright. It had been along time since I had hug of any kind from anyone, since Val's funeral I think.
As I looked around I noticed that Polly was standing close looking like she wanted to give a hug as well, but with both arms missing that would be hard to do. I just froze looking at the jagged stumps that bled some kind of slow moving explosion, before my eyes the metal seemed to be regrowing. I don't know how long that took, maybe a minute or two but her arms reformed like nothing had happened.
As I looked away I realized that something big had happened, most of the room was trashed, heavy furniture had been flung towards the walls, and in some cases into the walls. Smaller stuff had been shattered into fine debris, the entertainment center was had become an off center modern art display, a clear ring around me showed were the floor had warped and rippled. The ripple pattern was broken in a two places, places that I remembered HeadCase and Polly standing when the brain scan had begun. What the hell had I done?
“Are you ok?” I asked towards Polly. Had I blown her arms off? I was scared by the thought I could killed these two without even knowing what I did.
“Y-y-yes I think so.” Her voice was a little more distorted that I remembered. “You scared me.”
I tried to smile back at her, I doubted I succeeded. “I think I scared me to. What happened?”
It was HeadCase that responded with a tone I remembered from my time down here when she was 'Aunt Savannah' and taking care of me years ago, “You happened.”
“I told you Kory, that it wouldn't be pleasant. I might have,” She looked around at the damage and then down at me. “Um, underestimated things a bit.” HeadCase gave me a reassuring squeeze. “I kinda, sorta didn't expect this. I know you told me what happened but,” She paused still holding me, “Well I might hazard a guess that you needed to let off a bit of steam.”
“So I am me then, at least that's been proven right, because I don't wanna do this again.” I also didn't want to move I felt so tired and drained and it was so good just not have to worry about something or have to do ten different things right now.
“You think you can get up?” HeadCase asked.
I groaned at the unreasonable request but stood up, I felt a little lightheaded but other than that ok. “Uh sure, so uh, what now?” I asked the two. Polly just shrugged and motioned to HeadCase.
“Now, well how about a nice long soaking bath, some food and clean clothes any of that sounds good to you?” At the mention of food my stomach woke up with a vengeance, not only was it loud but painfully empty.
Something like a snicker came from Polly and HeadCase groaned and spoke in a joking tone, “Great we get rid of De@thAmp and her bottomless pit of an appetite so our food bill is now something with only four zeroes and then we go and adopt a stray that sounds like she's hungry enough to eat...” Whatever she was about to say was cut off as my stomach made a loud snarl at the word eat. Blinking at the sound HeadCase then in more serious tone, “Ok, ok I can take a hint food, then freshen up, and then fashion.” She headed for what I remembered was the kitchen with me trailing after her. Things were finally going my way.
Polly's, aka Fragment, fist which looked cute I suppose if you were into that whole shattered metal look was coming for my head, since I liked my head I did what I could to avoid having my face beat in. I made sure my shields were up as I created a disk of dark matter between us. Over the past two weeks alot of trial error had shown me a few things about my powers. Whatever this dark matter stuff was, it was really tough, but when it was destroyed I felt it. I mean I really felt it, the bigger the construct that I made, the bigger the feedback I felt when something trashed the construct. I could keep reinforcing my creations but again that had a price to pay, usually in pain when the thing I made and had then reinforced blew up. More curiously if I tried to 'layer' my creation with my force field the feedback effect was less when it blew, but was harder to maintain, but much tougher. That little trick had made me overconfident until I realized that with force field protecting my construction my ass was much less protected. I learned that the phrase 'trade-offs' in the superpowers biz is also a curse word.
Fragment hit my disc of darkness, trademark pending, I braced myself pouring power into it to hold up. It wasn't as bad as I feared and I gave myself a split second congratulate myself. That was a mistake, in that hesitation Fragment's forearm exploded in a blast of concentrated force and shrapnel. I tried to block the blast and barely did so, but was flung back about ten feet to land on my ass, the sandy beach cushioned the impact but I was certain of some interesting bruises later and sand up my ass right now. Lying there half stunned I saw Fragment charging towards me, her arm reforming as I watched.
That was Polly's thing, I learned a bit about her, and I found myself really liking her but boy oh boy had she gotten screwed on the whole superpower thing. It seemed she had been in the US Army up until she was 'killed' by a roadside bomb. Badly hurt somebody had 'volunteered' her for some super secret soldier program. She lived but her physical body was transformed into a living explosion, she could form a metal shell to contain her energy but with the shell was up she could interact with the world without destroying things but she had no external senses except for touch. No sight, hearing, smell or taste, with no lungs or vocal cords she couldn't talk, Polly described it as life in prison in a sensory deprivation tank. She didn't say how she got away and ended up with the Four Furies, but HeadCase had helped with the senses thing and the ability to speak.
Polly was quite honest about the fact that she was only going to be Fragment and working as a supervillain until she could get even with bastards that did this to her and find a cure. Until then she was the team's super strong, super tough, self propelled artillery.
Being on the defensive is one thing, having to defend or get trampled a human artillery shell is an other. I needed to change things up, I carefully pulled some heat energy out of the area around me for a quick boost, I say carefully because the second time I tried that trick I created a circle of ice and frozen sand with me in the center with my feet stuck to it. Not fun, going from low 90's to minus OH MY GAWD in a split second in a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet.
I used some of that quick boost of power to set my force field up, then I spiked the local gravity, the sand around Fragment flattened as for a second as localized gravity around her went to five gees. Fragment could take that I knew, I saw her stagger then recover from the extra gravity. I grinned as I reversed the force to negative five gees, and because she was bracing the wrong way, Fragment shot up-up and away heading for the ocean.
That gave me second of breathing space, which used breathing. Stupid. I should have used the second to do something useful. Lady Dee grinning from ear to ear, and back to wearing her skimpy version of Red Sonja's chainmail bikini outfit, unloaded on me from about a third of football field away. Streamers of multicolored magic poured from her left hand that was outstretched towards me, with her right hand she was making all kinds little motions that seemed to be causing the streams of magic power to twist turn heading towards me from many different angles. It was an impressive magickal Macross Missile Massacre heading my way.
At the sight of what was heading for me, two weeks ago I would've panicked and cowered behind my defenses, a week ago I would have tried to run away or fly away from the storm heading towards me while panicking and cowering behind my defenses. Now weeks later I knew a few things that made this less scary, still impressive but less scary.
Magick is not what everyone thinks it is, and it is what everyone thinks it is. Confused? Yeah me too. Here is an example, you can use magick to make a fire attack by creating magical fire and attacking with it, or use magick to create fire and magically propel it towards your target. See the difference? Some fire effects are magickal stop the magick you stop the effect. Or the fire is real but shaped by magick, stop the effect the fire remains but no longer under control of the mage. Lady Dee spent sometime trying explain the difference to me talking about evocation, conjuration, summoning and will and intent. I didn't get any of it until HeadCase explained it, real world stuff manipulated by magick vs. magick effects imitating real world energies. I still didn't get all of it but what it meant to an energy absorber like me is that if magick makes something like real out of magical energy I could effect the real energies. I think, maybe.
I reached out feeling for the 'real world' energy in all those steamers of energy and once I could feel them I 'pulled' the power out of the magical framework that shaped them. Steamers of my own erupted from my hands and eyes, looking like black and purple tendrils of mist, and countered the attacks heading towards me. The power flooded into me giving me a tremendous rush like when I was back on Biowar's sub draining the nuclear reactor. It felt so wonderful, just like before, I took the power I stole from Lady Dee's attacks and fed that power back through me taking down even more of Dee's attacks which gave me even more power and a bigger rush.
I could see the 'oh shit' look on Lady Dee's face when she realized that I had stopped her cold. This time nothing would stop me, no fancy tricks, no sneaky spells this time I was going...
What sounded like a whole choir of hundred ton bullfrogs went off near my right ear.
The sound was bad, the effect was much worse, the ground started swaying and spinning, my insides tried to go in several different directions, worse my concentration was totally wrecked as I staggered around finally falling down on the beach, which my sense of balance insisted was bobbing up and down as if in a huge storm. All I could do was huddle there trying to keep my defenses up as Lady Dee unleashed a second massive wave of magickal attacks. Just before I turned into ground zero the attacks exploded tens of feet away from me.
As I lay there with my ears ringing, guts churning and brains scrambled, I regarded up at the sky that might have spinning and loudly said, “Sonics are cheating!” I carefully sat up, swallowing a few times to keep my lunch down.
HeadCase over on my right was about six feet away by now, her golden cyberarm was in the process of transforming back into a 'normal' hand, the sonic disruptor folding up into her forearm. She looked down at me in mock disgust as she finished walking up, “What part about 'villain' don't you understand?”
My head was recovering quickly, “But you said this time you'd be playing the role of the good guys! Cops don't sonics!” I snapped back.
Lady Dee responded as HeadCase started to fiddle with her cyberarm with a look of annoyance as one of the fingers refused to straighten out. “The good guys cheat, just as much as the bad guys. Sure sonics aren't supposed to used except in dire situations.” As she spoke she sat down next to me, her tail and wings absorbed into her body. “The cops, both State and Feds, have used all kinds of weapons they aren't supposed to use in the past. The MCO hah, well half the time they just seem to toss the rulebook out the window and go in guns blazing. Don't get me started on the Knights of Purity, what kind of idiot uses a plasma cannon in an urban area, much less missile launchers or auto-cannons that can shoot through multiple buildings!”
She shivered at some image only she could see. “We can't control what other people do, but we can try to keep it civil. Only use the force you have to use to get the job done. Leave the body counts for sickos and nutjobs, it's far better to count cash than bodies.” She rolled her eyes at that last bit and glared in the direction of the fourth member of the team that wasn't involved in beating me up, uh training me to use my powers.
I'd finally gotten to meet the mysterious Loli who scared the crap out of me when we first met. Loli, aka The Murder Moppet, in her working clothes minus her six inch boots stood maybe 5 foot nothing, pale white skin, straight black hair that hung down to her butt which usually had a few ribbons in it, her eyes were black and red with a slight fold that hinted at what might be some oriental blood. Her working clothes were a black and red gothic Lolita outfit, with a ruffled miniskirt, lace stockings and gloves added to effect. She had a pair of what looked like antique straight razors that she preferred to use, she also talked to the razors carrying on creepy conversations with the blades. Even more disturbing was Murder Moppet's habit of calling herself and her razors by the collective 'we', I had no idea what her powers were, she could move so fast it was like she was there and gone, I'd seen her slice body armour, my force field and just about anything else with those razors. She was even more scary then when I'd first met her, she was a nutter into blood, pain and bodies. But she had good taste in music.
The subject of Lady Dee's glare was halfway up the beach putting more sunscreen on while sitting under the shadow of a huge black umbrella. Yeah creepy at rest, scary in motion and terrifying when the razors came out. In her case, yeah I could see why the so-called 'good guys' would break the rules. Hell if I was a cop in charge of dealing with Loli...well nuking from orbit was good place to start.
HeadCase looked up from flexing the fingers on her metal arm. “And what did we learn this afternoon Kory?”
“That cheaters win.”
“Besides that.” She gave a glare at Lady Dee who was giggling at my answer.
“Don't get distracted or fixated on one target...” I stopped mid sentence, “Sonova! You played me! Right from the start you planed this!”
“You played yourself Kory. You know you get...ah, giddy when you absorb and hold too much energy. You might as well been doing jello shots while doing calculus and tap dancing when you started draining all those attacks.” HeadCase reached over and gently smacked me on the back of the head. “Know how your powers work, but more important how others can work you and your powers. Now I'm heading in, there is too much sun out here for my easily sunburned frontal lobes.”
As I walked towards the villa with the other two, Fragment trudged out of the water and gave me a 'look' before joining us I guess she didn't like the swim I sent her on. HeadCase, well all of them minus Loli, had been a huge help over the past two weeks. It wasn't just training me how to use my new powers, or the basics in being a teenage girl. No it was more basic, all of them in one way or an other had had some bad shit happen to them in the past and dealt with it and had slowly helped me deal with what had happened to me and what I did afterwards on the sub. I was better. I kept telling myself that, over and over, usually when I woke up in the middle of the night having some sort of nightmare. Sometimes instead of me telling myself, it was one of the others that was holding me trying to keep me from freaking out and wrecking a room again. That at least hadn't happened in the past few days.
It bugged me that I was so emotional now, I must've cried, screamed, broke down more times in the past two weeks than I had in my entire life. On the plus side I had also had more emotional highs then I remembered in a long time. Then I'd remember how screwed up my life was and how I was now a girl, a mutant, and my only family was dead, and then I'd be off on the next emotional roller coaster. Still I was making progress, I no longer freaked out when my own reflection sneaked up on me without warning me first. I could put on as well as take off a bra. See progress.
After a workout like that I headed for the kitchen once I was inside, HeadCase seeing where I was going started moaning about the food bill again. I cheerfully flipped her off while assaulting the helpless fridge, two frozen pizzas in the oven later and I was slapping together a few sandwiches while eating the leftover salad from lunch. Polly was watching me like a hawk, she had no sense of taste, or any way to eat food but she tried to eat vicariously through her teammates. Lady Dee was staring in mock horror at the sight of my quick raid on the kitchen.
“Kory are you sure you didn't make deal with a demon of gluttony?” She asked for the umpteenth time.
“Not that I know of. 'Sides the whole ooga-booga thing is your area...damn it!” I broke off as I noticed something serious. Raising my voice so HeadCase would hear my distress, “HEY! We are out of milk...”
“Drink water Kory, I'm not going to raid a dairy farm and steal a herd of cows to keep you in milk. 'Sides you'd end up eating the cows” Was her reply from out front. “And no you cannot drink the beer, you drunk on power while being drunk for real is just scary.”
“I didn't finish! We are also out of ice cream!!” This was serious. In this household deserts, just or otherwise, were a deadly serious matter. As I had found out.
HeadCase let out a screech and came running, “My butterscotch pecan!! Someone is going to die!!”
The mirth on Lady Dee's face at her teammate’s antics faded as the horror sank in, “My death by chocolate!!” At that she started cursing in some strange language that made my ears twitch.
Fragment had gotten out of the way as the two senior members of the team charged the fridge, while looking at the other two she motioned me over to the sink. Looking over the sink and dishes piled there I also noticed what had caught Polly's eye.
“Uh...”, was as far as I got as the senior member's heads turned and glared at me. “I didn't do it! Honest!”
“Who else then? Name one other person here who eats like a starving mongol horde at a Chinese buffet.” Lady Dee snarled in my direction.
I pointed at the sink, “Uh, maybe you should ask who ate all the ice cream using a Nightmare Before Christmas bowl?”
I let out an 'Eep' of fear as an all to familiar voice spoke from the patio entrance, “We wanted something nice and cold, no one wanted to go to the store with us, isn't that right.” Loli, The Murder Moppet had appeared with no warning as usual. She did that alot, I think she was trying to kill me by scaring me to death. What was even more freaky is the was the way she never seemed to use doors at all, she would just be there then not. She had one of her razor's in her hand and was talking to it, rather than the team.
My usual approach to dealing with Loli was to try not to piss myself when she appeared behind me out of nowhere, nod and leave the room, but with two pizzas cooking and my stomach about to start gnawing on my lungs I was kinda trapped.
Polly spoke first trying to bring this latest boundary violation to a diplomatic end. “Loli...you c-c-could've asked, you just can't take anything you want from your teammates.”
“All to busy for us, you just want to play with the new pet.” The last was said looking at me. Great stuck in the middle again. “All you do now is play with the pet.” I started to bristle at the last bit, scared or not of her there was no way I was going let her talk about me like I wasn't there, or even human. “Clean up after the pet.” Loli as she was saying that flipped open on of her straight razors and was running the blade over her body like some kind of steel caress. “Not supposed to have pets, not allowed to have pets Daddy said.” Loli did a kinda spin while talking, “Daddy made kitty go away, go away for good. Loli made Daddy go away. Loli and her friends make pet go away.” She stopped spinning in place staring right at me while drawing her thumb across the razor. “Go away pet.”
I just stared back at her, I didn't know what to do. Was this a threat, a joke, or was she just trying to scare me off? If it was the last, it was working.
“Loli get out.” That was from Lady Dee, spoken in totally serious tone. I'd never heard Lady Dee speak in such an even and flat tone, ever since I'd known her she'd was been this fun loving never take anything serious type. Now it was like a stranger had taken over her body and was issuing threats.
“Kory is our guest, she is under my protection while she is with us. You will treat her as a guest or you will be not welcome here, ever again...” Lady Dee voice trailed off as she realized she was speaking to empty air, right in front of us Loli was gone, no flicker, no 'bamf', no special effects at all.
I let out a breath I didn't know I had been holding, then spun in place expecting Loli to be behind me with those damn razors and her creepy grin. I sat down at the kitchen counter still half expecting violence and jumpy with fear and adrenaline. Polly carefully sat down on the chair next to me and gave me a hug. Lady Dee came over and gave my hands a reassuring squeeze.
Once I was certain that my voice wouldn't be shaking and heartbeat was down to normal I spoke up. “I think I'd better get going soon. I'm causing problems by overstaying my welcome.”
The others all rushed to talk at once. “No stay.”, “You don't have to leave.”, “You're a guest and a friend.” Was the meat of the comments directed my way.
“I better, Loli keeps acting worse the longer I'm here, and having to take care of a mutant teenager is cramping your style.” I really didn't want to leave, I felt safe, really safe here. “I'm grateful for the help but I'm not one of you.”
“That's only because we haven't asked. We'd love to have you Kory, you've got potential but...” That was from HeadCase who had come over to stand next to me.
“But no kids, and I'm sorry Kory you still have some growing up to do.” Lady Dee broke in and finished for HeadCase. “You still have future, choices, we don't have that. One way or another it's life of a black mask for us.” She smiled, “Grow up but not to fast, live a little, finish school look at your options, if then you decide you want to live this life we'll welcome you with open arms. That offer we made your Mom to join us, it's open to you as well.”
Dee gave herself a shake and her eyes widened in shock at what she just said registered, “Unholy Crap! Kory you have to leave right now, you are making me a responsible adult! I'm going to be wearing panties and a bra next! I'll be doomed to a life of,” She hissed this word with venom, “Respectability! I'll be doing the missionary position once a week only and liking it! Keeping my legs crossed!” She made the sign of an inverted cross at me and cringed, “Away with you, you, unspeakable foul temptress of all things wholesome!”
We all looked in shock at her then we collapsed laughing.
It was well into the evening and I had just begun packing for the fifth time when someone knocked on the door frame. I looked up as Lady Dee sashayed in looking completely human for a change, she had changed into really short miniskirt, like really, really short and some kind of barely there halter top. She sat down on the bed and leaned back, arching her back thrusting her chest out, and giving me a spectacular view, as she saw me looking she licked her lips slowly. “Like what you see Kory?” At my silence she gave a wicked grin and with a slow languid motion she pulled her top off completely exposing her breasts. “Is it better now Kory? I think so, how about you? Do you want me to take it all off for you?”
“Aw come on I'm feeling so over dressed right now with all these clothes on.” As she was saying that she slipped her shoes off. “I really want to do this Kory. Don't you want to do this? I think you want to do this.” She said as she leaned back on her elbows, with a look that was somehow nine parts pure sex and one part innocent.
I was so confused, shocked, you name it. Mostly I was scared of what I was feeling, and what I wasn't feeling. If I was still the old me I wouldn't have hesitated for second, I'd doing my best to get her clothes and mine off as fast as possible. But now, I was just so, I dunno.
The wicked look vanished off her face in split second, “Relax Kory, I'm not going to bite, not even a nibble. I'd like to think I still have some self control, no matter how scrumptious a tart you would be.”
I groped around for someplace to sit and ended up leaning against the dresser. Which was about as far as I could get from the bed and it's occupant without diving out the window.
“Sorry about that Kory but I really wanted to rub your face into something.” At my panicked look at that sentence she continued, “Maybe that wasn't the best word choice.” She giggled as she said that.
“Ya think.” My witty banter was so lacking.
“I'm serious Kory, you need to know something, something that you've been avoiding. You are a girl now.” She sat up and patted the bed next her. “Come on sit down, your wicked step-sister slash aunt has to tell you something.” At my reluctance to sit next to her she spoke in serious manner, “I swear on my Power that I will not do anything you do not want to do, and my intentions are honest for the purpose of this upcoming conversation.”
With that I slowly went over and sat next to Dee. I looked over at her and spoke, “Uh could you like get dressed? Like..” She cut me off.
“Nope! It's just us girls here, no reason to be all modest and that. 'Sides you've seen plenty of boobies right? They are hard to avoid.” With that she poked me in the chest. “But you still have some growing to do, so they get harder to avoid. And that's my point.”
“Uh?” I think preferred her when she was trying to seduce me, or kill me by embarrassment.
“It's story time with me, I'm going to tell you a very important story. Like any good story this will have a meaning, and a moral. There will be however a lack of morals since it's my story.” She giggled at that.
“A long time ago...” She noticed me rolling my eyes at that. “No one loves tradition anymore. You kids. Ok the quick and dirty version. Hmm. Ok I was a man, now I'm not obviously.” She snickered as my jaw dropped, “Oh so now you want details.”
I kept staring at her in disbelief, no way no how could Lady Dee have been a guy. I mean she was...
“I was a very powerful sorcerer, but old and like most old evil sorcerers very much afraid of dying. To avoid that fate I researched many a way to cheat death, however all the easy ways, and I use 'easy' with a bit of sarcasm, had problems. Mostly the ways to cheat death could be undone, or came with some hefty drawbacks. Vampirism for example. Also I wanted more power, much more power. I came up with a plan, I knew I was going to hell when I died, so I sped things up and brought hell to me. I summoned a nasty demoness, a powerful one. With alot of work bound her to my will and then raped her.” She looked over at me, “Shocked? I am a villain after all. I wasn't done yet, I made sure the demon had a child, and when that little bundle joy was born and tore her way out of her mother's womb that most of mommy's power went to the baby. I didn't expect the baby to be female.” Lady Dee stared at the ceiling and sighed, “You think as smart as I was that possibility would have occurred to me, but no I was a genius. A total idiot but still a genius. I had planned to move my mind, or spirit whichever you prefer into the child. With the demon's power I'd live for a very long time, and have more power at my fingertips.”
“Uh what happened? I mean I know what happened you're here and you are you but...” I foundered at this point.
“Well my health was very poor by the time the child was born, so I carried on with my plan. I waited until the time and stars where right, did various horrible things and moved my mind into this body while sacrificing the child's spirit. That was 1927. What does this have to do with you? While I spent the 18 years in denial that I was female, I refused to accept that this,” She motioned to herself, “Was me. As a result I had a very miserable second...hmm...adolescence. I was thinking I guess if I refused to be female I'd somehow be male. That didn't work, all I that I was during those years was a miserable bitch to everyone, including myself.”
“Finally Kory I had real eyeopener about myself. I had to accept that I was the new me the female me. I had accept everything that came with it. I wasn't going back.” She turned to look at me, “Your not going back either Kory.” She plowed on overriding my silent objections. “You are a girl now, not a guy, not a girl temporarily until this gets fixed. You need to accept it or it'll make you miserable for a long time until you can't ignore it anymore.” She lifted a hand to me to keep me from interrupting her. “It doesn't matter what side of the street you walk on Kory, hell work on both sides if you want. I'm here to tell you that guys and girls, well you can have fun with both if you want to, but the person you chose will be jumping in the sack with you, as you are now. Make sure you can live with them wanting Kory, the smoking hot redhead with the great rack.” She watched me think about what she said.
“So what happened to you? What was your eye opener?” That wasn't what I wanted to ask but it seemed like something to say.
Lady Dee looked away for a long time, a distant look on her face. “It was May 8th 1945, VE day.” At my blank look she just stared, “VE day? Victory in Europe? The official end of Hitler's Germany? You do know who Hitler is right?”
I couldn't resist if I had tried, “Oh yeah that guy! Was emperor or something during WWI right?” At the look of shock on her face I tried to keep the joke going, “No wait that's wrong, uh, it was Stalin that ran Germany in WWI right, no wait Stalin was WWII Germany I think, I dunno it's all ancient history.”
Dee just stared at me her face frozen in disbelief. I couldn't hold back any longer and I started snickering, then giggling finally laughing out loud. “Revenge is mine!” I gasped out after a moment of mirth had passed.
Lady Dee just stared at me pouting. “Ok you got me Kory. Dammit because of that damn oath I can't even get even with you for that by tickling you until you have a near death experience. Poo!”
We both just sat giggling every few seconds until I went, “VE Day?”
“Right, well I was in New York when it happened, everyone was just, happy. It had been a bad war, even worse than most people know. I've done horrible things, but compared to what some of THEM did I'm a fucking angel.” She shivered, “Anyways everyone just stopped and celebrated. I got caught up in the moment and had fun, drank WAY too much, danced with some guys. Woke up the next day in strange hotel room with two complete strangers. Once I stopped freaking out and could think clearly again, in sober hindsight I had to admit I enjoyed myself. The sex was great, I didn't realize how tightly wound up I was until later.” She was silent. “It wasn't a 'snap' moment but it made me aware of how much my denial of my situation had become self-loathing. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I made. I still regret what I did then,” At my look she quickly added, “Not the sex, or the drinking. No I regret that I was so in denial that I was a woman that rather than just accept and move on I tore those two men apart with my bare hands and tortured their souls. They didn't deserve what I did to them.” She looked me in the eyes totally serious, “This is important Kory, you need to be you, not the old you of a month ago. That 'Corey' is gone, do not let him haunt you and make you miserable, don't live your new life by what he was or wasn't.”
She just sat there looking so unlike her usual party girl self that I was worried for her. I don't know why put I felt she needed it and maybe so did I, so I pulled her into a fierce hug. “I'll try if you will Dee.”
She smiled at my response, “So I think the serious part of this conversation is over don't you?” She grinned at my nod. “So Kory...” She trailed off in a thoughtful tone as a wicked look came over her face, “Just say the word and I'll go get my collection of double headed dildos and we'll have some fun.” She raised her voice as I bolted for the door, “I've even got one with six speed vibrate function! I'll let you be on top for as long as you want! Come back Kory don't make me chase you!”
As I dove over the stair case flying for the downstairs patio doors I could hear her laughing from my room yelling, “NO REVENGE IS MINE!!”
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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I was nervous. I'll admit that. Maybe even a little bit frightened. This was my first time breaking the law, well breaking the law with intent. If everything went right and according to plan I'd be a criminal, of the international variety. It sounds impressive doesn't?
It's not. Having to sneak into my country of birth because I'd been kidnapped sounds slightly odd. As a mutant it was illegal for me to travel internationally without a MID. Sure I could have walked into a US embassy and told them what happened to me but that would mean trusting the system to behave in a rational matter. Then you add the MCO into the mix.
As my lawyer had pointed out when I got my newly altered ID the longer I could avoid being noticed and having to test how good a fake it was, the better it would be. Fake IDs are best when not used but allowed to cook for few years. My new ID was so fresh you could smell it. Worse yet I was a minor, that was a whole other problem, but I had a solution, the Syndicate. I know I mention them alot but they have lots of experience getting shit done and not getting caught. The last bit is very important to me.
So I logged into the local Syndicate travel agent site and made the arrangements and paid the fee, and that was that. Then I went shopping.
In my opinion I already had enough clothes to last until I graduated from university. All members of the Four Furies had taken me shopping several times. Fragment and HeadCase had mostly manged to keep Lady Dee's tendency to buy clothes that followed the philosophy 'less is more' out of my wardrobe. Of course what those three considered simple and practical did not match my idea. I was even more shocked when I told that I'd need to shop for clothes when I got settled. Which lead to very long discussion about fashion, makeup, and colors etc. Is there a spreadsheet for this stuff somewhere, please?
One of things I really wanted, no needed, was a phone. So I got a top of line phone, then got another, then finally I broke down and got what I really wanted, a BlackBerry. Then a quick detour to certain shop to install some new hardware and software and presto a BlackestBerry, which is how I ended up reading my now really secure email in the Royal Karedonia International Airport that contained detailed, in only the way a lawyer could detail, travel instructions and plans. The usual stuff was there, who to bribe and how much, which agents would be on the take and when those agents would be at work, secure lodgings that sort of thing. I had really debated getting Escape Insurance just in case, but in the end since I wasn't planning a life of crime I passed.
Another email was from Polly, she and rest of Furies had gotten a job working out of the country, a bodyguard gig, which meant henching for the big boss. Good for them, henching is good paying work, and usually safer as the heroes are busy gunning for number one and willing to let the flunkies cut and run. She left me a secure email address so that I could drop them a word if I needed to. Reading between the lines it sounded like the vacation was over what with Loli acting out everyone wanted to get back to work and back into the old routine. Maybe going back to work would settle Loli down was Polly's hope. Yeah right, after meeting her I understood Mom's rule about never working with crazies.
While waiting for my flight I amused myself by watching the tourists, the veterans that had been here before they didn't even blink at the weapon counter where you could pick up your death rays that didn't fit in the overhead compartments. The Dalek robo-cops caused quite a few double takes, one little girl had a nervous breakdown at the sight of the scary metal monsters, I guessed that family was from the UK. Americans just don't freak that bad at the sight of a robot killing machine that look like salt and pepper shakers. I nearly pee'd myself laughing when a blue and pink Dalek rolled over and started scolding the normal security Daleks for scaring the little girl. The girl ended up riding around the lobby on the 'friendly' Dalek screaming with joy as they chased down the 'mean' Daleks.
“It's good PR when you think about it.” That came from some dude sitting across from me in the terminal. I gave him a good look. No I wasn't checking him out. He was obviously in the biz, not many people travel in black and red Gothic plate armour with all kinds of mystic glowing symbols. The woman with him was playing up the 'evil sorceress' with the creepy staff, cloak, black steel corset, high double split skirt, her evil image was slightly wrecked by the 'Modern Bride' magazine she was looking through with dreamy smile.
All of us looked up as the little girl let out squeal of disappointment as her parents dragged her away from the Daleks that where now her 'bestest friends ever', the woman covered up a giggle at the antics of the little girl.
At my look and raised eyebrow he popped the helm off of his armour gave me a friendly nod before introducing himself, “Lord Butcher and my wife Lady Pain.” He was blonde and massively handsome, which went well with Lady Pain's dark hair and dark temptress looks. Both looked like they should be just getting out of university and trying to figure out how to pay back the student loans.
I responded, “Kory.” With a nod a friendly smile. By using just my mundane name I was telling him that I wasn't in the biz actively, but that I knew the rules.
“Are you alone dear?” That was from Lady Pain. She must've seen something in my face to that question because her face became more sympathetic. “I'm sorry I didn't mean to pry.”
“Uh yeah I was down here to take care of some family business, real estate stuff.” In the world of black masks 'real estate' means buying the farm, family business meant it was personal.
Lady Pain gave me a concerned look, “Call me Glenda dear. I hope things improve for you.”
I nodded in response, by offering her normal name Glenda was saying this would be a friendly conversation, between normal people, not parties in the biz. Anyways I quickly changed the subject before I got all weepy. “What did you mean by good PR Lord Butcher?”
Lord Butcher was about to respond when he noticed the glare Glenda was giving him. “Please call me Alric my dear.” At my smile and nod he continued. “Gizmatic knows if his setup here scares kids, it'll upset the parents, and he's trying reform himself so he wants people to have happy memories. A gang of scary robots humiliated for scaring a child? By another robot, that's pure gold. Also while here she'd be more likely to respond in a positive way to the cops out there if needed.” He gave a wave to the rest of Karedonia.
“Or maybe Gizmatic has a soft spot for kids?” I said.
We all looked at each other and went 'Naaw' at the same time. Glenda started to giggle at that and I found myself joining her. It was a good icebreaker, too good. I found myself pulled into her orbit while they waited for their wyverns to clear customs. I was told you just can't leave tame wyverns at home alone or they get all depressed at being abandoned, go off their feed and won't spit caustic poison for weeks after. Who knew?
The two of them had come here to see about having a big formal wedding sometime next year. Alaric had promised Glenda a big fancy wedding, dress, cake, reception the whole nine yards when they got married on the run 2 years ago. Right now it was still in the planning stage Glenda told me over discussing dresses. They needed to know how much it would cost before planning the robberies to pay for it all. Supervillain romance is kinda sweet in a felony way I guess. From there I was pulled in to discussing wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, guest lists, the whole nine yards.
I tried to pass of my total ignorance in all things wedding related as 'never really thought about it' and 'it's your special day I don't want to ruin it with a bad idea' those lines worked best, honesty I just had to go along with her ideas and nod. Although I did suggest white leather, lace and silver jewelry for the wedding dress, with black leather, lace and black steel chains for the bridesmaids. That wasn't really my idea, I just imagined what Lady Dee would suggest and added more material to the dresses. I should've kept my mouth shut because Glenda LOVED! the idea and was then talking about silver barbed wire for the jewelry with rubies to look like drops of blood. Alaric was muttering needing two years to steal enough to pay for it all.
Me? I ended up getting an invite to the wedding, sharing contact info, the whole thing. I had to remind Glenda that I was a little too young for the bachelorette party, but that didn't work, I was told since I was old enough to be charged as an adult, I should be treated as one and besides what cop would try to raid a bachelorette party with 40 plus supervillainesses (is that a word?) all of them in high spirits and drunk. I then tried begging off as I wasn't a black mask, nor did I plan to be, that was shot down by the statement that I was 'close enough' and I had year to get my career started if that really worried me, Glenda even offered to set me up with a few easy jobs. I got away only when my flight was called.
I was shown to my seat and I just sat there, my head spinning. Glenda, Lady Pain, had just opened up to me like we were old friends and I responded. It was like with Norika back on the sub. I mean we didn't share anything vital, no access codes to our lairs that kinda thing, but it was nice. As I guy I would have never just done what she did, I'd just sit there and maybe grunt if someone asked me something. You know the whole 'silent but cool' guy thing.
It has to different for female supervillains, it can't always be like this. As I sat there I thought about my Mom and her friends, it was I guess sorta the same thing. When Mom had been really active in the biz she had alot of friends, when I was younger I remember them dropping by and just hanging out, no warning, no plan, why? Was this another female thing? Would I have to become this overly giddy extrovert?
Or was it because there are fewer female supervillains? Was the fact that you were a woman AND a black mask make you part of this really secret sisterhood society? It made a kinda sense I thought, like being a woman in the military, no matter who, or where, you knew that this other woman in the skin tight leather and whips was one of you, and had to deal with all the crazy cape stuff plus the usual crap. I remembered De@thAmp always bitching about her lightning powers ruining her nails, who else but another villainess would get that. Well a superhero would maybe, but I can't see the hero and villain sharing makeup tips in back of a police wagon. Something to think about, and worry about later. I had more immediate worries.
I was worried about the flight, Mr Copper my lawyer, had arranged everything he said. Not to worry he said once you are on the plane everything will be fine. Just keep flying and making my connections.
I'll tell you a secret to traveling without getting hassled. Get hassled by professionals only, and travel first class. Which was why I was in a first class seat on El Al, the Israeli national airline. El Al has the most paranoid security for a commercial airline. Period. They don't even let other countries agents search the luggage of an El Al passenger without a security agent from El Al present. That makes it very hard for a cop on the take to plant something in your luggage. Or for the MCO to 'find' something that you didn't pack.
So I wasn't worried about getting to where I was going I was worried about being on a plane with only one small meal for the entire flight. This could be bad, very bad.
It wasn't as bad as I feared. I wasn't using any of my powers so that dropped my food requirements down to the high end of normal. I tried to sleep as much as I could. Then race for the restaurant at my stops, gorge myself and repeat.
To get from Karedonia to my destination of Baltimore took me 26 hours of connections, delays, running to make those connections. Next time I'll mail myself Fed-Ex. However my trail was now completely muddied, no way, no how would anyone be able to track my travels. Some fancy contact lenses to hide my UV colored eyes and I walked through the Baltimore airport at the height of it's operation.
Another tip, do not try to arrive at slow times. You stand out, also try to be in a line with people that are causing problems, families with loud bratty children and bitchy moms are a great for this. After a nightmare like that all you have to do is be pleasant, maybe express some sympathy, and keep it short and so will the TSA goons. It worked like a charm, I was disappointed that I didn't have to bribe anyone.
A short cab ride later and I was staying at small hotel in downtown Baltimore that had an under the counter deal with the local super crooks. I was here. I was alone. But I had stuff I needed to do, like eat, real food in real portions, not portions that would starve an anorexic supermodel with a meth habit.
I spent the remainder of the week doing the tourist teen thing. It was so good to back in the USA, where MickeyD's and Burger Thing ruled. I'd never been to Baltimore before in my life but it still felt right in an odd way that Karedonia, no matter how much I liked it, didn't. As for why I spent a week doing nothing, that was because I could. I was still shakey at times, in a crowd, alone in my room, sometimes I'd feel the panic, fear and rage coming back but it was better. Keep telling myself that.
Also I had to get used to being a hot girl in public, I'm used to not being noticed as the old male me. The new female me stood out, no matter how much I dressed down. Which was not good in this kind of situation, you end up wondering, then worrying, then nearly panicking as you feel all these eyes on you. I had to keep reminding myself that being watched did not mean being watched by the cops, the feds, MCO etc.
One of my reasons for coming back to here, to Baltimore, was Mom had listed in her accounts a company called Secure Storage, and how much she was paying them a year. Which was a lot of cash. I'd never heard of them and I was wondering just what was in storage. I had visions of gold, jewels, that sort of thing. Which is how I ended up waiting in a very posh lobby of some high rise business bored out of my skull as I kept waiting, and waiting, and still waiting. After harassing the receptionist for the umpteenth time I was again told that someone would be with me 'shortly'. I timed them, almost an hour. That's shortly? Maybe on a geologic scale, but not to a teenager, to us the word shortly means 'why not ten minutes ago? I have stuff to do.'
Also I was not impressed with the guy they sent to talk to me, average height, brown, brown, power suit and nose in the air. After two seconds of watching him I filed him as 'smarmy bastard', which he confirmed by undressing me with his eyes as he walked over. I'll admit I was very casually dressed for this place what with jeans and tee-shirt, a backpack and ballcap rounded things out. But still.
“Yes young lady how can I help you?” He didn't sneer, quite but it was close.
“By being here sooner would be nice.” That made him blink. Teens for all our bravo, in this situation wouldn't be so aggressive. But what the hell, he had pissed me off by making me wait, undressing me with his eyes, and by not even looking at my face, just my breasts. Asshole. Which reminds me I need to apologize to a few girls at my former schools somehow, someway. Karma is a bitch I realize that now that I am one the women that are ogled by sleazy guys.
“Also you could try to look me in the eye, I realize that a little boy like you has a boobie fixation but try to act professional, or at least wipe the drool off of your chin,” There was a sound like a quickly strangled laugh that came from the receptionist. “Or is that your thing? Playing power games with teenage girls.” I watched as his face reddened. More with anger than embarrassment.
“You little...” He got himself under control before he said something that he would've regretted. “Get out or I'll call security.”
“Go ahead. Call them. I'll make a big scene, and take my accounts elsewhere. And file a complaint with your boss.” I tried to do the glare thing that I'd seen my Mom do. By the look on his face I wasn't as impressive as she was. “I called ahead, was told just drop in anytime, I confirmed that someone would meet me that would be able to help, and the people that run the company send you. Not a good impression.”
He got redder, looking over his shoulder at the receptionist he snapped, “Call security now!”
“Jonathan what seems to be the problem here?”
I manged not to start as a voice spoke behind me. I turned to look and found myself looking at a short man, olive complexion, dark curly hair with a short beard looked at me with an amused look. I thought he looked like that 'Mr. Monk' guy in an expensive suit.
Jonathan snapped back at the new guy, “Getting rid of a trespasser...Eli.”
“Really? I believe the young lady said she called ahead and was invited to drop whenever it is convenient to her. So Jonathan, obviously if she was invited logically she can not be a trespasser. Even is she is a trifle blunt, maybe even bordering on rude that is no reason to have her removed from the premises.” The smarmy bastard looked like was going to say something, but instead muttered something and stalked off.
“I'm sorry about that my dear, but Jonathan does have one thing going for him that keeps him employed here no matter how big an ass he makes of himself.” At my look he dryly responded, “His father.” At that comment the poor receptionist had another coughing fit.
Eli Bajada as he introduced himself quickly restored my faith in the organization, telling me that his company provided secure off site storage for anything anyone could want stored. Once he verified my account numbers, and called my lawyer to verify me he was quite happy to show me to Mom's treasure trove. He even mentioned that all items that they secured were insured and a standing bounty in seven figure range was offered for anyone that robbed them. Per head. If the head was still attached to a breathing body it was then only worth a six figure bounty. So far Eli told me no one had tried to rob them and gotten away clean. With that kinda of reward offered no wonder. All in all he delivered a sales pitch without making it seem like a sales pitch.
Which led me to a big vault door with all kinds of magickal symbols on it, hatches in the room implied that heavy weapons could pop out at any moment. One key turn later and I was entering a long combination hoping that I wrote down the numbers correctly. Nothing exploded, shot me or stuff like that so at Eli's nod I opened the vault door.
I don't know what I expected but a doorway made of darkness wasn't one of them. Eli told me that the vault was linked magicaklly to the doorway and I should go inside. When I wanted to leave just leave by the door marked exit.
The area that I ended up in was normal, an extra wide hallway with an exit door at the end. There was a total of three doors leading off of the hall. The first room was just normal, it was like a bank vault with safety deposit boxes. I checked out a few I'll admit, the most normal thing was more than a few rolls of gold coins, Krugerrands I think. The others contained some jewelry none of which I recognized, just that they looked fancy. I had no idea how much money was in this vault, so I just settled for the lump sum of 'lots'. A few other of boxes had odd items or gizmos in them, more stuff I didn't recognize again, well Mom did have packrat tendencies, just like me, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.
The room across from the first one was much larger and half filled with wine bottles, I've got no idea why. I mean sure Mom drank but not this much. Who the hell needs hundreds if not thousands of bottles of wine anyway? It was strange it was like I was getting to see part of my Mom that I didn't know existed, it just didn't fit the mental image of her that I had, I had no way to process it.
There was only one door left, I wondered what could behind it, rare art? Superweapons? At this point nothing would surprise me.
I got surprised. And not in a good way.
The last room was a perfect match for my dead sister's room, all her furniture, her stuffed toys, clothes all of it laid out exactly the same as when Val died. She even saved Val's posters. The only things that were different I numbly noted was at her desk, Val's diary was opened as if someone was reading it and been interrupted. Next to the diary was a woman's large leather shoulder bag, I looked inside it wondering what else I might find. A laptop, some Cds, and several leather notebooks, and bunch of rather normal stuff.
Val's diary drew my attention next, it was open to a page with a date a few days before she was kidnapped. The writing was faded and smudged but I could still read it. I didn't want to but I just had to read it. It was so Val, complaining about this and that, worrying if we'd have to leave town on the run before some big dance that she was going to with someone named Brad, a guy that Mom hated. She complained about her bratty brother that wouldn't leave her alone. It ended with a reminder to herself to get a birthday present for Mom, to make up for some fight they had...
I had to stop, something was wrong with my eyes, I couldn't focus. I found my face wet with tears that I never noticed until just now. A few tears had dropped onto the pages of Val's diary, smearing the ink in a couple of places.
I felt a cold shiver run down my back. How many times had Mom done the exact same thing? Alot looking at the smudges on the page. I flipped through the rest of the diary seeing the odd smudge from Mom's tears on other pages.
I don't know how long I sat there but I felt stiff, and emotionally wrecked when I got up. I stood up heading for the door carrying the diary with me but I had to stop. I couldn't take it with me it belonged here, with Mom and Val. I carefully put it back exactly where I'd first seen it.
I carefully left that room. By the time I hit the door marked 'Exit' I was running at full speed as if all the demons in hell were on my heels. I ran all the way back to the hotel I was staying at and barely got out of bed for most of the weekend.
The signage I was staring at was just what I needed to shake my leftover blues. It appealed to my sense of the absurd.
'Honest Akbar's New Like Secondhand Emporium', 'Not Shallow Discounts On Anything', 'Nothing Is Worth Something To You'
The shop in question was a large warehouse that from the look of the place had last been renovated during the Vietnam war. Boards replaced the glass windows, the boards were protected by steel shutters that had started rusting and never been replaced and had finally just frozen in place. I couldn't tell what color the paint was due to the mindblowing amount of graffiti, all in all the place looked like something you'd send SWAT in after the CDC gave an all clear.
Inside wasn't much better, anything and everything was crammed in here the isles were dangerously narrow with racks of material almost touching the ceiling. You ended up with the feeling that if so much as bumped anything you'd be buried alive for all time. What looked like the end of counter poked out from somewhere on my left.
As I approached the counter I saw my first sign human life in the store. The guy at the counter looked so out of place I did a double take when I saw him. Huge but not hugely muscled, crew cut blonde hair, he wore a neat green tee shirt with khaki combat pants.
“Hello?” This was not what I was expecting.
“Yes how can I help you?” He had a faint accent that I couldn't place, maybe German?
“Uh, I'm looking for a Mr. Akbar, I need to see if he can fill an order for me. There might be a small problem with shipping he might be able to resolve.” The guy blinked at that, and gave me a hard look.
“I can help you Miss.” He smiled at that, “I handle all the orders here, we are a family business.”
“You don't look like an Akbar, no offense. Half brother?”
He didn't take offense at that, just blinked and smiled a little more and replied, “Mr Akbar is my cousin. So it's all in the family.” He looked at something under the counter. “We are clean. Are you the client?”
I nodded, “So who came up with little speech there? Very Mission Impossible. Um, you know what never mind. Take me to your leader.”
With that he led me to a door marked 'Employee Only' and down a flight of stairs. The basement was more of the same stuffed with anything you could think of, I even saw what looked like an old Army Jeep up on blocks.
The boss of this little business was in the very back in a chain link cage, inside the cage several sofas and chairs were arranged against the walls and occupied with several tough looking types built like the guy I'd just met. Only with guns. I looked at the guns hard, it was not good sign, open display of weapons meant this would not the friendly meeting I hoped it would be. Which bothered me because all the arrangements had already been made before I had left Karedonia. Which meant the arrangements had been changed without telling me.
The biggest guy, and he was big in every sense of the word, he looked like the offspring of beer keg and an extra hairy gorilla, gave me a fake smile. “You are the client, yes?” His eyes gleamed as he looked me over, was he expecting to shake me down because I was a girl, or a kid, or was it both I wondered.
“You must be Akbar, what's with the hardware? We had a deal.” Everyone had guns, that was good it meant they depended on them. I wasn't bulletproof without my shields up but I could get them up damn fast.
“There is a new deal, your...agent didn't give us all the information. The job has a much higher fee because of that, and the higher risks.”
“Bullshit. We gave you everything you needed to do the job. And paid in full plus twenty percent for speed.” Ok this was looking like a shakedown. Unexpected, although Akbar wasn't Syndicate he was a trusted, ok maybe not trusted, but a reliable third party.
“The deal did not include weapons. We were told nothing dangerous. Now the Feds are involved.”
“What the hell...” That made no sense...shit! “Oh crap. I know what happened.” All of sudden this made more sense, alot more sense. This was just a big screwup. Like everything else in my life.
Akbar and his goons looked unimpressed by my sudden realization. But he motioned me to continue to explain.
“This so dumb. Ok the property that I wanted you to recover is evidence in a crime. A home invasion,” My old home to be picky but they didn't need to know that. “There was a boy that lived there that had an odd hobby...”
Akbar interrupted, “Shooting down airplanes?” he asked sarcastically . He blinked at my response.
“Close, but no. This boy was into sport rocketry, he made and flew his own home built rockets.” I just knew what was coming next.
“He played with toy rockets?” Akbar laughed, after a few seconds so did his men.
Yup, there it is, tell anyone you are into rocketry as a hobby and it's big laugh, the space cadet jokes start flying and they are never, ever, forgotten.
“If by toy you mean break the sound barrier, and reach six kilometers in altitude.” Ok I had help building that one rocket, and chute didn't work, but I still I was damn proud of it. That stopped the laughing at least. “I'll bet the cops saw the tools, chemicals and rockets and panicked and called the Feds.”
Akbar just sat there staring at me, after a minute he looked to his goon squad and nodded. Then guns didn't go away but the goons seemed to relax a bit. I didn't relax, it was a start in the right direction, but I was still expecting, I dunno something. This Akbar character was just giving me a bad vibe.
“If that is as you say Miss?” Yeah like I was going to give this guy my name, hmm maybe...
“Call me Darklight.”
Akbar chuckled, “You must be very stupid or brave girl, there is already a Darklight, and you are not her.”
I just gave him a thin smile, and brought up my force field. As I did that I removed the contacts that covered my glowing purple slash UV eyes. The I created some wisps of power from my finger tips. I really hoped I could keep my voice under control for this part.
“The original Darklight won't object to my use of her name. Since she's dead.” The implication that I claimed the name over Mom's dead body was there, and it would give me some cred with these creeps. “If you don't believe me, well go ahead and shoot. I'll laugh, then kill anyone that tried to shoot me, get a full refund from you Akbar, and have you blacklisted in the biz. I'll kill your rep and leave you alive with everyone knowing you are a ripoff artist that chickens out at the first sign of trouble.”
One of the goons took a chance and went for his gun. Dammit. I didn't want to hurt anyone but maybe a little violence now would keep the ultraviolence from happening. Using that thought as a half assed hope and a prayer I twisted gravity and slammed the trigger happy goon into the concrete wall. Something might have broken in his body I couldn't be sure but I had to play out this scene. “That was five Gees worth of gravity, want to try for 50 Gees? It'll make a mess.” Pure bluff on my part, so far five Gees and a hair was my limit.
Akbar's goons all had their guns out and pointed at me but Akbar was yelling for them not to shoot. After few seconds they slowly put the guns away, I dropped Mr. Trigger Happy as gently as I could. Ok I've beaten them all with a stick, now the carrot. “You are right Akbar.” He blinked at that. “If the Feds are involved that does make your job harder. For that I apologize. I thought at first this was a simple shakedown since I'm just a kid in everyone's eyes.”
He grunted at that, then shrugged, “I may have been a little heavy handed myself. Can we start over?”
“No.” He started at that and began to speak but I kept talking, “What I can do is up the amount we agreed on by an extra ten grand. That's a hard number I'm afraid, my fiances are not as...liquid as I'd like. I'd like to haggle with you but that's my limit right now.”
He looked at me, good luck reading my face with my force field making it seem I was wrapped in dark fog, and slowly nodded. “It is not ideal. It is harder to get evidence from the Feds storage. Not impossible but it will cost more in bribes. That is the problem. It lowers my margins even with an extra ten thousand, and if there are any problems I'll be working at a loss in this case.” He frowned. “There are always problems. I'm sorry Miss, uh Darklight, I will have pass on the job, I will refund the fee minus expenses already incurred...” He stopped has I held up my hand. The goons looked nervous at that, so I tried to smile in an easy manner. I really wanted to keep this friendly.
“What about this instead, I'll get you the extra ten grand, then you do the job, you hold on to the stuff until I can move some assets around. Then I give you another ten grand when I get the stuff back and I release the balance of the fee from escrow? It takes you a little longer to get paid, but you'll end up with an extra twenty grand all totaled.” This was going to hurt my wallet. Alot. On the bright side I would have an excuse not to go shopping for clothes for the next few months. Putting off a trip to the female hell of shopping that was waiting for me seemed like a good idea.
“Twenty grand extra, hmm, yes I can do that. Even if I need to spend more money than I planned it will still leave me with tidy profit. How soon can you get the extra money?”
“That might be a problem. I might have issues with my ID that I'd have to use to access the money in the States. The extra 10 grand, very likely today. The other 10 grand? Next month at the earliest. I have to be careful using my ID for any transaction that the Feds might track.” Also I had no idea if I could even get a bank to give me my money as money. Damn being a kid is harder than it looks. Hell with the way my life was going lately it might be easier just rob a bank than do it honestly. How's that for irony?
Akbar just leaned back and looked at me, then looked over to his man that I had slammed against the wall. “How about this I'll start the job, when you have the money pay me in cash. I turn over the property, you release the escrow codes once you verify that the items have been recovered?” He stood and held out his hand to me. “Deal? We both give up something to get something.”
I had brief moment of paranoia, did he want to shake my hand so I'd drop my force field so his men could shoot me? The odd thing about being a crook is you have to be honest and trust people. I dropped my shields and went to shake his hand. |He surprised me by kissing my hand instead. What the hell! I had a brief 'OMG he's gay! Does he think I'm gay!?' moment before I remembered that I was now a girl. Still it was good that I was frozen in shock or I would have snatched my my hand back so fast I'd have likely ripped Akbar's arm off.
Still he likely noticed my surprise at the gesture. “That was unexpected, my good sir.” I said in a fake 'posh' accent. Thank gawd for all those roleplaying LARP games that I messed with a few years ago. He just grinned I had the feeling he knew I was startled and was covering, still yet another nail in the freaky column that's my life. My life now. Why did this shit have to happen to me? Or more accurately why does this shit keep happening to me? Did I inherit Mom's karma as well as her powers?
Anyways I got out of there without being shot, or having to injure or kill anyone, uh anyone else. Making my way back to my hotel, once there I emailed Mr. Copper about what happened and the new arrangements that I'd made with Akbar. I didn't expect a response anytime soon, I knew I wasn't one of his priority clients, but at least I could get the first part of the money. If the bank freaked at the idea of teenager withdrawing ten grand I could sic my lawyer on them. If they got really bitchy I could use some of Mom's stash of gold coins I guess. Akbar didn't seem like the type to turn down gold.
So Plan A, go begging to get my own money so I could pay to get my old stuff back, and Mom's stuff. Once I've got it back figure out what to keep and what I can toss. Then ship the stuff I wanted to someplace while I tried to figure out where I could live. Going to school didn't appeal to me, let's face it when you are the son, uh, daughter of a supervillain, all school is boring, just a place to lay low and blend in with the masses.
I could go back to Karedonia, kick back there for a few years then join up with the Four Furies, I could take up Lady Pain on her offer to get me started as supervillain. That life really didn't appeal to me, I suspected I'd be good at it based on how much I already knew about the black mask lifestyle, but the downsides to that life are pretty big as well. Being a mutant as well as the...child... of a supervillain made a normal future near impossible, hating mutants was one of the few acceptable prejudices that existed right now and that wasn't going away anytime soon I figured. So even if I got a normal life one slip up and I'm outed as a mutant then bad things happen.
Dammit. Ok let the future worry about the future, for now I have to worry about needing to convince a bank to let me have my own money. Bank robbery sounds better and easier the longer I think about this.
Charter Holdings Bank
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 11:31
Like most people my age my interactions with a bank were limited to ATM withdrawals and handing the mail to the parent. The idea of going out of your way to place in the real world is a little odd. I have been in banks likely more than my peers, but in those cases it was stay away from the guards, avoid the security cameras and don't attract attention while Mom cleaned out her safe deposit box. After those visits it was time to burn the old IDs and collect the new IDs and get used to a new last name. That was the extent of my banking experience.
So it was purely by habit that I wore a ballcap, sunglasses, and kept my head down and avoided looking at the renta-cops. Yeah that looks suspicious but I had a foolproof disguise. I was a girl, with a cellphone, all I had to do was look like I was texting and no one questioned why I never looked up and made eye contact. Ear phones made it look like I was listening to music so no one tried to talk to me, and if they did I could ignore them without looking like I was ignoring. Just another kid lost in her own world. Play to people's preconceptions and stereotypes and they'll file you with all the others like that which makes you blend in their memories. It's harder as a girl I noticed, I seemed to attach attention no matter what I did. I don't know why I thought it would be easy, nothing about this life changing experience has been easy.
Still I was in the homestretch, that was a good thing right?
What sounded like a fleet of racecars raced around the bank, I turned to look wondering what the hell was making that sound as I turned a blur raced in the bank shot around to all the security guards and knocked them every which way blurring around the lobby. Before the last guard hit the floor the blur had zipped back to the main doors, closed the doors and chained them up. Then raced to the center of the lobby. Stopping to speak.
The robber resolved into a tall man dressed in a red and white bodysuit that looked like a high end version of motorcycle racing gear. Heavy silvery metal gauntlets and boots, a helmet made out the same metal with a half visor completed the basics. Strapped to this guy's legs he had what looked like some kind of high tech batons.
Everyone in bank that wasn't groaning in pain just stared at this guy, which he didn't like because he gave another burst of near gibberish. “MovemovemovepeoplejustdowhatIsaynoworelse!!” Barely second past before he spoke again. “Doitnowwhatareyouallstupidwhyaren'tyoulisteningtome!!”
Well crap, isn't this just perfect I thought. Why me, why is always me, does someone up there get a kick out of screwing with my life? I was thinking the last thing I need is for the cops to show and this turns into a hostage situation, with cameras, reporters and all that crap. I had to get this situation under control if only to get this guy out of here so I could get out of here myself.
I yelled at the crook, “You are talking to fast we don't understand you! Speak slower!” That didn't help much as the guy blurred towards me and I found myself slammed into a chair thirty feet from where I'd been standing. My back and neck hurt like hell from that sudden acceleration, if I had been a normal human I'd suspect I'd be in traction for weeks after that.
“ListenfasterbitchI'minchargeyoudoasIsaynotIdoasyousay.” With that he whipped out one of those batons and rammed it into my stomach. It hurt, the physical blow at least. The electrical zap effect not so much, I just absorbed it used it fix my back and neck. I did remember at least to keep curled up in the chair as this idiot zipped over to the main group of people. This just keeps getting better and better, where are the rational crooks when you need them?
Welp this was really fucked up I thought to myself, between the moans of the injured security guards, the screams and whimpers of the customers and the high speed babel of the robber not much had been accomplished since he'd tossed me into the chair. On the plus side I had a nice view of the plaza that fronted the bank. On the downside I had great view of the cops showing up. Only a couple of cars but the rest of doughnut brigade couldn't be far behind. Which meant SWAT trucks, command trucks, and brass. Brass that would likely want to talk to the press to make sure the press knew who was responsible for bringing 'deadly rampage under control' and 'making the city safe' and get seen doing crap so when they ran for elected office they'd have cred with the law and order vote. I'm sure there good cops out there just I've never seen any.
Still if motor mouth could get his act together and finish robbing the place, the cops would be chasing him, which would draw away the media, allowing me to slink off somewhere and try again. Sigh. If I'm going help this idiot to get away with his robbery could I at least get paid for it? Ten percent isn't much to ask for right?
“Hey Skidmark! Better give up the cops are here!” He blurred over to window, zipped back to me and smacked me a good one on the side of my face and screamed next to my ear.
“NonononocopsIsaidnocopsbastards!” With that he raced out of sight for second and was back before I could do anything. He zipped and forth, pacing I think then grabbed a guard, raced towards the doors and tossed the guard through the glass. The guard looked in a bad way from his job as a battering ram, Skidmark that was my name for this joker, kept on going smashing into the cops sending them flying and wrecking the cars. He then zipped around the plaza randomly wrecking shit and in less than thirty seconds the whole front of the bank looked like a war zone. I did see something interesting when he was wrecking the place objects near him acted oddly. I don't know what that meant but something to keep in mind. I'd hoped he just run off but no luck he zipped back into the bank again. What surprised me is two the civilians from the crowd ran towards the bank.
When they got to the bank they ran in after Skidmark, one pulled up a bandana to cover his face while pulling out a stubby submachine gun, the other just started handcuffing people with those plastic handcuffs he started pulling from a backpack. The guy with the cuffs looked pissed, I'm guessing Skidmark had jumped the gun, and these two where supposed to already be in the bank when this went down.
Well things got worse again. Out of nowhere a big MCO dropship had landed and was now just sitting on the edge of the plaza. A turret at the nose of the dropship covered the bank. Skidmark nearly had a full on meltdown at the sight of the MCO and was ranting and raging at them. He sounded like a cross between Alvin the Chipmunk and an angry mosquito. The guy with the gun just cursed and started emptying the tellers cash drawers.
This was getting bad, Skidmark was no longer in robbery mode from what I can tell. Which meant this would become a hostage situation. Usually the longer the hostage situation went on the better. More chances for a soft landing. With Skidmark longer wasn't an option, he was hyper, and had little idea of the passage of time. Playing a long game with him wouldn't work, he'd get bored, frustrated and paranoid at everything taking so long. Also he acted so fast he didn't seem to have second thoughts, dealing with this fruitloop by the book would be like dealing with a kid with ADHD on a sugar rush. His two flunkies were unknowns but they'd likely follow in Skidmark's wake. The guy with the handcuffs was acting like he knew what he was doing, but he didn't have a mask. That worried me, he knew what he was doing but didn't care about being ID'd or caught.
I noticed the MCO goon squad was setting up all around the plaza, the cops didn't look like they enjoyed the MCO barking orders and bossing the cops around. Double plus not good. The cops would worry about the people in the bank, the MCO would be fixated on the mutant in the bank, if another mutant, say me, was noticed well I'd be assumed to be with Skidmark and crew in the MCO's eyes, or collateral damage. Right now the MCO had numbers and firepower which meant that might made right and they were running the show. If this robbery went on longer the police would have more presence and they'd be in charge.
So how to make this go slowly when dealing with a hyper active speedster type? I had no idea, I could get his attention but every time I did he smacked me around. He didn't really hurt me. Much, but he or his lackeys might start wondering why I could take a beating so well. Worse the MCO or the cops might see him pounding on me a decide to save the hostage by attacking. That would turn this into a major bloodbath, fighting speedsters is no joke to anyone, they can do alot of damage without even trying too hard. The hardest thing to do in this situation would be to do nothing but that was the best play I thought, just wait out the crazy.
I just waited and watched for a few moments hoping against hope for sudden outbreak of common sense. More cops had showed up, some of them looked competent and heavily armed, so I guessed SWAT was here. Good maybe they'd turf the MCO and resolve this whole situation in a calm and peaceful manner. Yeah right. Still if the MCO backed down it might calm Skidmark down, the speed freak really seemed to be bugged by the MCO. Did they have a history?
I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye coming in from the edge of the police/MCO lines. I had just enough time to go 'huh' before the main doors exploded. I ducked as I could hear pieces of the door's frame ricocheting around the bank's lobby, standing in the doorway was, wait for it, yes a superhero. Now things are really screwed.
I have a low opinion of superheroes, very low. Some of it comes from having a Mom that's a supervillain, family first and all that. Mostly because the heroes seem to get a pass from everyone else. Hero stops villain in the process wrecks several buildings. Does the hero get blamed? No. Everything is the villains fault. Hero can't the save the hostage? Villains fault even if the hero screwed up big time. Hell most of hero types believe their own press about how cool they are. I have more respect for corrupt cops than your average hero. At least with dirty cops you know what expect, and dirty cops have standards. Where as most hero types the standard is 'Do you have a funny suit and name that wont get you sued?'
The figure that just did the dumb dynamic entry was familiar to me in a vague way, I'd seen him somewhere on TV lately, LaserHawk maybe, no that wasn't it or was it. The idiot was standing in the ruined doorway making some kind of speech while posing! He did look impressive, white costume with gold trim that had an body armor vibe, gold gauntlets and boots, I could see he had some kind of golden frame that looked like the outline of wings on his back, the spaces in the wings were filled with what looked like solid light. A white helmet covered his head with gold tinted half visor blocking his face.
And he seemed not to give a shit about the damage he just did, and I'm not talking about the bank. The metal and glass from his entry had mostly hit the lobby decor, but several people had been cut up by shrapnel and were now screaming. I was more concerned with a security guard that was now near me, she was looking at a piece of glass that had hit her just below her vest on her left side. She was muttering something as she tried to grab the glass shard, I just stared frozen as she half pulled it out of her before passing out, the blood from the wound started spreading faster.
The smart thing would be just stay out of the way, maybe below a desk nearby, wait for the two idiots to finish beating on each other and give my statement to the cops and slip away. Since all this shit has happened to me it feels like I haven't done one smart thing. Why start now? I dove from the chair I was still in, my enhanced strength let me cover the fifteen feet or so to the security guard in one quick move. I got there the same time another security guard rolled over to her. His hands were bound up by those plastic hand cuff things I noticed.
“Hands!” I shouted to him, he didn't get it so I reached out to him and grabbed his hands, he tried to twist out of my grip, his eyes widened in shock when he realized how strong I was. His eyes just kept getting bigger as I ripped the cuffs apart freeing him. “Can you help her?” I shouted. He got over his shock fast I'll give him that.
“Yeah! Help me get this vest off...” He went back to shock as I ripped the vest apart. Then went to work.
While I was helping the fight had gone badly. The hero couldn't hit Skidmark, he was just fast but kept trying, firing blast after blast of what looked like more of the solid light stuff that made up his flight gear. The bank's lobby was suffering from being used as a backstop. Both these idiots were yammering away while dodging, blasting and in Skidmark's case throwing things at high speed. One of Skidmark's flunkies was down I noticed, the one with the cuffs was moving slowly, it looked like he was having a hard time doing anything. That left the guy with a gun.
It's always the one you lose track off that does the most damage, that was one of the lessons I'd learned from training with the Four Furies in Karedonia.
Sure enough gun-flunky popped up down at the end of the counter and emptied the clip in the general direction of the bank, I have no idea what the gun was but it sprayed alot of bullets in a few seconds. Most of his shots missed, a few didn't, two more people dropped, one yelling and screaming, the other just lay there. Not good.
The hero type blasted the counter with a blast of solid light wrecking the surface. He missed the gun-flunky by inches as the gun-flunky scrambled to reload. Skidmark took the second of distraction to hammer the hero, LightStrike maybe something like that, with a blur of punches that staggered the hero, Skidmark kept the beating going knocking the hero around the bank.
I saw the guy with a gun pop up again, I really didn't want to do it but I really didn't want this nut to spray the bank again. Cursing my luck I brought up my force field at the same I englobed his gun arm with a blob of my dark matter. It didn't stop him from firing, I could feel the first few bullets hit my construct as they left the barrel. Then I felt a bigger blast and dropped the construct.
The gun had blown up inside the globe I'd, all the force and chunks of metal had been contained in the construct. Gun flunky's hand was now hamburger with metal chunks, he just stared at it then started screaming. Skidmark must've seen this because he broke off hammering the hero, zipped by me and hammered me hard. I've take a few hits, ok more than few hits, but this was bad. I don't know how many times he struck me but towards the end I was flying out through the window seeing stars.
I just lay there stunned for a few seconds trying to gather my wits. As I got to my feet hoping the ringing in my head would fade I noticed that I was the center of attention for the cops and MCO oh so not good, what was worse is I knew I was being filmed. So much for keeping a low profile dammit. I hoped the cops grabbed me, that was the best chance I now had.
“Surrender villain!!” A voice trumpeted behind me just full of truth, justice and self righteousness. Crap, crap, crap I thought, this cannot happening. I turned to see the hero exiting the ruined bank with a grim look on his face and an arm outstretched towards me.
Shit! I started to raise my hands, at the same time I brought up the strongest shield I could. “I'm not...!” Was as far as I got before he opened fire.
His blast was powerful, stronger than anything I'd stopped before, it was like it was sandblasting my defenses, eroding them. I poured more of my power into it as I was driven to my knees. I started to drain the energy in the beam, reinforcing my shields, even that was hard. The light beam that this guy was using it was like it was energy one instant then not in the next. Still I got enough energy from the attack to keep from frying.
I gasped with relief as the terrible pressure cut off.
“You will not escape me villain!” He advanced towards me reading another blast. “You will not escape justice!”
On that perfect line I did the first smart thing I did since this nightmare began I ran.
Friday, July 13th, 2007 4:12
“That's pretty much it Agent Bane, you know the rest.” This time I had kept an eye on him, he didn't move during the story. He did blink however. That didn't make me feel any better. He still bothered me on some level.
“I noticed you changed a few details Kory. Nothing too major and nothing I need to involve myself in. Don't worry we all need the illusion of secrets, and I have no interest in destroying your illusions.”
“Gee thanks. I think. So what now? Am I going to be arrested?”
“Very likely, the MCO locally might be too worried to make such a move, however more senior members of the MCO are beginning to make moves in that direction. Likely criminal charges will be used to discredit you as a witness against Weems.” Bane's eyes never left my face although I had the feeling he was seeing something else. “If your testimony can be discredited then Weems may avoid charges himself, which means he won't turn on his bosses. He already has a dream team of lawyers working for him.” Bane's expression turned grim, “The irony is you might be the best witness for the defense.”
I was shocked that sick freak was going to get away with all the shit. “No fucking way. How the hell could this...ARGH! This is why I never trust the system!” I might go to jail but Weems would go free? My head spun thinking about it.
“Kory you are right, never trust a system, but trust the people that work for the system. Do you trust me Kory?” Bane's eyes had locked on mine, it was looking into two pools of still blue water.
I froze just looking at him. I thought about it hard.
I nodded slowly.
“Excellent, then we have much to do then. You likely won't like some of what I need you to do, but if you do what I say I give you my word that I'll get Weems.”
“Ok what do I have to do?” I braced myself for the other shoe.
“We are going to start with sending you to school I think.”
“Oh?” I was relieved, “That doesn't sound too bad, should be easy.” A cold chill ran up my spine at the almost grin on Agent Bane's face.
Many people hear voices when no-one is there.
Some are called 'mad' and shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.
Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing.
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