When the Chips Are Down 1.2

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Cameron surprised herself by not leaving the second she got the chance to.

The only reason she suffered through the interviews, the training, school, and all the restrictions was because of the note Creed had left taped to the window. Stay put and get ready. Whatever he was planning, all of this, her being a superhero, it was a part of it. She trusted him, maybe more than she should have, especially given his powers.

It took three months for her to go through all the training and be deemed ready for fieldwork. In those three months, Cameron had a lot of time to herself, locked away in her room with nothing but a computer. It gave her a chance to think about her life, how she got here. Too much time. Talking with Agent Brown, the woman responsible for convincing Agent Hayes, the guy in charge of every superhero in the city, to let her become a hero instead of sending her to jail, was bad enough but some of the things she said, Cameron couldn’t help but wonder about in her spare time.

She was a nice lady though, much better than Agent Hayes.

Agent Brown stood beside her today, dressed in a black business suit with a pencil skirt, her long dark hair in a professional bun. Hayes was in charge of the local heroes but Agent Brown was an expert in handling them, making sure they were taken care of mentally and physically. From what Cameron heard, she had an excellent track record when it came to young superhumans and agents from other cities often came to her for advice, sometimes even sending their troubled young heroes to her.

“This isn’t something you should be worried about,” Brown said, as the elevator moved toward the fourth floor. “It’s a test run, see how well you do out in the field, working with a team member. It won’t be very exciting.”

Cameron smirked. Worried was the last word she’d use to describe how she felt right now. Apathetic didn’t quite fit, either.  She didn’t care whether she did well or not on this outing because she didn’t care about this superhero crap. She was kind of excited to get the opportunity to fight again, though, when they finally gave her superhero status. It was one of the things she had liked about being a criminal, the excitement and danger. “I can take care of myself.”

The elevator stopped, and the doors slid open. Standing around in front of the elevator was the team member assigned to go with her, Ionic. Agent Brown had told her a little about Ionic before they got into the elevator. Under that smooth black helmet was apparently a teenage girl around Cameron’s age. She lived in the building like Cameron did, for a reason Agent Brown didn’t feel like sharing, and she was an inventor, an odd type of superhuman who appeared to make highly advanced pieces of technology but the things they built could break the laws of physics. People liked to argue whether they did ‘real’ science or not. Even if Agent Brown hadn’t told her that, Cameron would have been able to guess from the costume Ionic wore. The girl looked like a grey, black, and blue robot. Unlike the helmet, the rest of it wasn’t as smooth, Cameron could see the seams, where pieces of the armor connected with each other. It was mostly grey, with the helmet, boots, belt, and gauntlets in black. Two fingers of the gauntlets, the middles ones, were a glowing sky blue, tracing a line from the fingertips to her shoulders.

On the front of her armor, above the chest glowed a blue circle ringed with smaller circles.

Very cliche, having your emblem on the chest.

Cameron’s own costume was just a black bodysuit, not skintight, a matching black helmet, and utility belt. They were apparently in the process of making her an actual costume while the PR team thought of a good name. They told her she could come up with names and they’d consider it but honestly, Cameron sucked ass at names and she didn’t have the patience to sit around, trying to think of a name that sounded cool, fit her, and wasn’t taken. Too much work.

They stepped out of the elevator and walked up to Ionic. Agent Brown smiled. “Ionic, meet Cameron, you can call her Teleporter during the mission.”

“Teleporter?” Cameron said. “I can see why you’re not on the PR team.”

“It works though, doesn’t it?” Agent Brown said, still smiling. “You’ve both been informed about the mission today. Are there any questions, before you go?”

An agent had given Cameron a packet with everything she needed to know about what they were doing today. The person they were after, the rules they expected her to follow, and there were very clear instructions on what to do if the situation got too much for her to handle. Cameron had scoffed when she read that part. They really had no idea what she had to deal with, while she worked for the True Gods, one of the most powerful supervillain organizations in North America. Then again, they didn’t know about that, her being a member of the True Gods. If they did, well, Cameron supposed she would have been occupying another jail cell, far away from young, impressionable superheroes like Ionic.

“No,” Ionic said, voice altered by some device in her helmet, it made her seem even more like a robot. Cameron shook her head.

“Okay. Follow Ionic’s lead, Cameron, she’s the one with experience. Good luck.”

Cameron frowned. More experience being a superhero, definitely, but when it came down to combat experience, Cameron doubted Ionic had more. While she had passed her combat exam with flying colors, she heard it was rare for teenagers to actually pass the exams, unless they were one of those ultra-strong powers. Ultra-strong powers were superhumans who had superpowers at a level far beyond their peers, there used to only be a handful of them but more and more of them were popping up every year. A continuation of the trend, each generation of superhumans, on average, was stronger than the last. One of the major reasons why teenagers were even allowed to be superheroes. Inventor types like Ionic, while versatile, never reached the level of power that ultra-strong superhumans did. Ionic obviously passed her exam, which meant Ionic had to be somewhat decent in a fight but Cameron had learned from other villains, they weren’t the type to coddle you.

Without a word, Ionic started walking. Cameron followed.

This was her first time being on the fourth floor, an entire floor reserved for the local superheroes to use as their base of operations. There weren’t that many of them, these days.

They passed a lounge with a nice looking TV, a kitchen, and a dozen rooms with closed doors on their way to another elevator. This elevator took them directly to a special parking garage separate from the one non-powered agents used. Superheroes kept their vehicles and inventions too big to store in their equipment rooms here. Ionic led her to a row of four differently colored motorcycles.

“I’ve been told you can drive a motorcycle?” Ionic said.

This guy she was… friends with had taught her. “Yeah,” she answered. “I officially got my license about a month ago.”

Ionic climbed onto a motorcycle that shared the same colors as her armor. “Which one do you want?” Cameron didn’t know a whole lot about motorcycles but she liked how the black and yellow one looked, she pointed to it. Ionic didn’t move a muscle but the engine of the motorcycle Cameron picked suddenly revved up. “Stay behind me, don’t get lost.”

Lost? What the hell was that supposed to mean? Cameron knew exactly where they were headed to, it was in the packet, Ionic had to know that. Ionic’s voice modifier changed her tone, turning it into an even monotone, not something Cameron could use to figure out if it was a joke or not. That girl didn’t seem like the joking type, anyway. Either way, Cameron did what she was told, even if she didn’t like it, and let Ionic lead them out of the garage and onto the street. There would come a time when she’d be calling the shots, soon hopefully.

When they stopped at a red light, some people reached for their phones, a few aimed it at them, taking a picture. They were both in full costumes, and Ionic had been around long enough for people to recognize her. No one tried to follow them, this would look like a routine patrol to them, nothing noteworthy.

They reached their destination, a warehouse on the edge of town.

The mission was simple, with very little chance of things becoming interesting. They were here to help track down the Detective, notorious information gatherer. She was apparently somewhere in the city, and an informant swore they met her outside this warehouse. The packet included loads of information on the Detective, while skirting around the issue of why the SAA wanted her. It was obvious, though. Either she got her hands on information they definitely did not want leaking to the public or she knew something they wanted to know. The Detective was a hard person to get a hold of, and she didn’t like working with the government unless it was absolutely necessary.

Agents had already come and interviewed the people who worked at the warehouse that might have seen her, finding very little. They thought two superheroes – or one superhero and one criminal-turned-superhero – might be more approachable than a bunch of guys in suits. That, and Ionic had a lot of fancy gadgets that might help.

“We’re going to take a look around,” Ionic said. “I’ll be scanning our surroundings with my equipment.” She pulled two black metal spheres the size of a tennis ball out of a pouch on her belt, the same symbol on her chest adorned both of them. The symbols glowed blue and hovered in the air when she let go of them.  They went in opposite directions around the warehouse. “Alright, follow me. Let me do the talking, but observe. Combat skills aren’t the only ones you’ll need for this job.”

Well, wasn’t that familiar. Creed had said something similar once, after recruiting her. Cameron shrugged and gestured toward the door to the warehouse. “After you then, captain.”

“I am your commander officer, here, on this mission, as well as when we get back to base. It’s an unofficial position, but Agent Hayes has made me the leader of our city’s team of superheroes.”

Cameron quirked an eyebrow, then remembered she was wearing a helmet. “Yeah? I wasn’t told that. Aren’t you kind of young for that? They never let kids be the leader.”

“It’s why my position is unofficial. The man, who in the eyes of the public, is in charge is unfit. For many reasons. Keep my position in mind, Teleporter, because I wouldn’t have it if I wasn’t capable.”

Even without a tone to read, Cameron got the message loud and clear. It was her way of telling Cameron not to mess with her or give any attitude, to show a little respect instead. She got the feeling respect was important to Ionic.

Cameron gave her a sloppy salute.

Without another word, they entered the warehouse.

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6 thoughts on “When the Chips Are Down 1.2

  1. Typos

    The only reason she suffered through the interviews, the training, school, and all the restrictions were(was?) because of the note Creed had left taped to the window.

    while she worked for the True Gods, one of the most powerful supervillian(supervillain?) organizations in North America.

  2. “assigned to go with her. Ionic.” -> The period seems odd to me here. Try a colon or a comma. A colon would probably be too formal, but a comma might work better.

    “see the lines where” -> “lines” is not overly descriptive. It’s a pretty bland word. Try something more visually distinct such as “seams”

    “above the chest, was a glowing blue circle with a bunch of smaller blue circles around it.” -> This description could be better. Avoid “was,” and “bunch.” They’re bland and indescriptive and a waste of wordcount. Try something more along the lines of “above the chest glowed a blue circle ringed with smaller circles.” See what changing those words did for it? It’s shorter AND more descriptive at the same time.

    “Ultra-strong” -> Ugh. I don’t like this term. Please tell me this isn’t the official designation? It feels too juvenile. Try saying it out loud… There’s a reason most people use designations like “Paragon tier” or “Nightmare class” or “S-Class” for the big guys, because saying “Oh no, he’s ultra-strong!” and expecting it to be taken seriously just makes me feel silly.

    “There weren’t that many of them, these days.” -> You said in the previous paragraph that there are more powerful metahumans every year. Why aren’t there also more heroes? Demographically that makes little sense. If there were more villains, more people would be driven to heroics. One possible reason is regulations, but there’s no mention of that.

    Overall, this is pretty good, despite the above issues. They’re mostly description problems, which are decently easy to fix, so nothing to worry about. One note, you did a really good job of establishing Ionic’s personality despite the monotone.

    • Thanks for the tips. Description has never been one of my strong suits.

      And no, ultra-strong isn’t the official term. They’re called Ultras but some people, like Cameron, refer to them as ultra-strong because, like you said, it makes them seem kind of silly.

      Re:“There weren’t that many of them, these days.” point
      That line isn’t talking about superheroes as a whole but the superhero population within the city. The reason for it is mentioned a little later on.

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