When the Chips Are Down 1.4

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Other than being a place of learning, school provided a place for Cameron to meet up with some of her old partners in crime without someone in authority breathing down her neck, watching.

She had passed all their interrogations, where they sat her down, strapped a lie detector on her, and asked a bunch of questions. To be extra sure, they brought in this woman who could ‘see’ emotions. She wasn’t really sure how she managed to make it through all of that, maybe Creed had pulled some strings or something. After, they considered her safe enough to rejoin the rest of society. They didn’t think she was evil or anything anymore, but they were still being careful, not letting her out of HQ much unless there was a solid reason, like school. The SAA got her enrolled back into Augustine High, the school she went to before she ran away, many of her friends went there too.

It was actually really nice hanging out with them, even if it was within a school building. She missed the freedom, being able to go and do whatever she wanted, no rules she had to follow, no Agent Hayes. The man had a stick up his ass, maybe more than one. It’d explain why he cared so much about the font she used for reports.

Sarah was already sitting down at their lunch table in the cafeteria, eating all by her lonesome, by the time Cameron arrived. It was kind of funny, when they were freshmen, Sarah had been surrounded by friends almost constantly while Cameron was the loner. Oh, how things could change.

“You’re late,” she commented, curious.

“Had some business related stuff I had to deal with,” Cameron said, as she sat down.

“Can I ask or is it top secret?” Sarah asked. She had the privilege of being the only civilian that knew about Cameron’s criminal activities, and her current not-so criminal activities.

Cameron handed her a folded up piece of paper she kept in her jacket pocket. Someone had been waiting in front of the locker to give it to her.

Sarah frowned. “What’s this supposed to mean?”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Cameron admitted. The message was short, and incredibly vague. Keep your eyes wide open today. What was the point in being so cryptic? It was like the least efficient way of communicating. She stuffed the note back into her pocket. There had to be something more to this note, maybe the rest of the message was written in invisible ink.

“It could be future stuff, those things are always vague, right?”

Cameron groaned. “I hate future stuff.”

Working with precogs was always frustrating. They were vague and cryptic a lot of the time, fearful that saying too much would change the future in a bad way, if things weren’t completely horrible. Telling someone they were going to win a fight might make them lose it if they got cocky because of it.

Keep your eyes wide open today.

Oh. Eyes. He was probably talking about that, her perception power. She rarely used it, it had a habit of overwhelming her if she lost focus, and it was hard to focus on it while teleporting things. Worth a try.

She took a deep breath. Turning it on was tons harder than turning it off. It was like trying to fall forward, resisting the body’s natural instinct to throw out your arms. There were a few false starts but then, everything became crisp, clearer than it was before. With her power on, she could see past illusions or invisibility, maybe other things. She did a quick scan of the cafeteria. Nothing out of the ordinary. She sighed, turning it off. It’d be too tiring to keep it on the whole day.

“Are you working tonight?” Cameron asked, retrieving a sandwich from her backpack.

Sarah looked down at the pasta she ate. “I’m almost always working.”

“So it’s cool if I stop by during your break?”

“If you want.” She smiled.

Visiting Sarah at work gave her an excuse to leave HQ, eat some decent food, and Sarah seemed to appreciate it. She liked to complain how between school and working she didn’t have much time left over for hanging out with friends. One of the reasons why she didn’t have that many friends these days.

She had finished her sandwich when her phone rang, the SAA issued phone. First time they’ve called her at school. The screen flashed red, which meant it was an emergency, and it had be pretty bad if they wanted her to help out.

Cameron slid her thumb across the screen, answering the call. “Yo, what’s up?”

“You need to come immediately, a car will arrive in a minute to pick you up, and give you a ride. Someone will call and get you out of class,” some woman said, Cameron didn’t recognize her voice.

Was the note supposed to warn her about this? “What’s going on?”

“Someone’s rampaging, the agent picking you up will explain the rest. Be prepared to meet them at the front of your school.” She hung up.

Sarah gave her a concerned look. “Hey, is everything okay?”

“Depends on who you ask,” Cameron said. This was, by far, the most exciting news she’d heard in the last three months. She couldn’t stop herself from grinning, she had been getting pretty restless. Nothing made you feel more alive than putting your life on the line. “Looks like I gotta go. I’ll see you later, if shit doesn’t get in the way.”

“Be careful, Cam.” She sounded distinctly uncomfortable.

Cameron grabbed her bag and left, going straight to the front of the school to wait for her ride. They wouldn’t need to send someone if they just gave me a damn car to drive, she thought. She had been trying to convince Agent Hayes for awhile now but he refused to listen to her. A beige minivan stopped in front of her, the same car they used to drop her off in the morning. They left the second she hopped in.

The agent driving looked to be in his thirties, red hair cut short, and fit like most agents were. “We have a situation at Starry Sky mall. There’s a currently unknown superhuman tearing through the mall, destroying everything he can see. As far as we can tell, he’s super strong and durable, and he has some kind of suction power. We already have heroes engaging him but they’re not doing as well as we like.” He gestured to the back of the van. “Your temporary costume is there, along with some basic equipment like a stun gun and a baton. You need to get dressed.”

“Well, guess it’s a good thing I’m not modest,” she said, dryly. She climbed into the back where her costume and utility belt were carefully placed on the backseat. She stripped down to her underwear and put her costume on, taking a minute to examine some of the stuff in the pouches on her belt. Aside from the gun and baton, there were handcuffs, sticky rope, a few packets of first aid stuff, and a spare mask. “Is that all you have to tell me? If it is, I’m going to go, I’m pretty sure I’ll get there faster by teleporting.”

“One more thing,” he said, tapping two fingers against his temple. “Do that on your helmet three times to turn on comms, twice if you want to talk, do it again if you want to turn it off.”

She tapped her helmet three times.

“-act him, there are still civilians in this part of the mall,” Ionic ordered.

“I’m trying! He keeps pulling me around, I can’t land a good hit, or any hit. If someone could get him to stay still for a minute, I could put him down,” a voice, young and male, responded.

“Give me a sec,” a deeper male voice said.

She glanced out the window, at a empty sidewalk. Using her power was like second nature, requiring very little of her attention. One second she was in the car, in the next she was standing on the sidewalk, no sensation of motion, the only indication of her being teleported was the tingling feeling she got from using her powers. She adjusted quickly, looking ahead to find another empty spot to teleport herself into. Distance didn’t matter as long as she could see where she was going. Ten, maybe twenty, seconds later she reached the entrance to the mall and found it completely trashed.

The Starry Sky mall had always been the cool place to hang out, with its many stores and the movie theater attached to it. Cameron had a lot of fond memories here, shopping, spending time away from home. To see it like this, ruined, large gaping holes in the walls, merchandise strewing the floors, it wasn’t… a good feeling.

More motivation to do what needed to be done.

She tapped the helmet twice. “Yo, Teleporter here, ready to defend our fair city.”

“Food court.” That would be Ionic, sounding almost out of breath.

Two teleports, and she was there. The food court was clear except for the blond man, standing in the center of the food court.

Her boots slid against the floors, stopping only when she hit the wall, hard enough she knew she’d have a nasty bruise tomorrow. Trying to get off the wall, it was like pushing against the current. Tables and chairs were pressed against the wall all around her, along with takeout bags and garbage cans. Some kind of suction power.

“Nice of you join us,” the deep voice said. “Sorry, should have given you more of a warning. As you can see, everything gets pulled to that wall over there. He can pull off the same effect on any object he touches.”

With everything attracted to the wall, Cameron got a very good look at the blond man responsible for all this. He was tall, not particularly attractive, and his clothes were torn and stained with blood to the point he was practically naked. He turned his head, glancing in her direction. He had a dazed look in his eyes and he was muttering something to himself.

“So what’s the plan?” Cameron murmured. “And what’s he saying?”

“Well, my plan involves somehow getting myself unstuck from the ceiling. As for what he’s saying, well, the man is clearly missing a few screws. Something about a devil, not anything important. Ionic?”

“Violet Knight and I are working on it. Stall for time, Teleporter.”

The weapons she brought probably wouldn’t be much help. She wouldn’t even be able to fight here in the food court if she got slammed into the wall every time she teleported away from it.

“How much time do you need?”

“A couple of minutes, maybe,” it was the other voice again, Violet Knight she assumed.

She moved her head, lining up her shot. The chair to her left vanished, appearing beside the blond guy. His power quickly took hold of it, drawing it toward the wall, knocking him off his feet in the process. And then he was up, on his feet again, staring right at her. The dazed look was still there but now it was joined by wide smirk, his teeth tinged red.

Smirks like those she saw often enough on the faces of Creed’s most brutal enforcers. It reminded her of the note, sitting in the van with the rest of her stuff. Keep your eyes wide open today.

She activated her perception power, and it came much easier than when she tried it earlier.

Hovering in the air beside him, whispering in his ears, was a girl, in a yellow dress, blonde hair, the same shade as the man, done in pigtails.

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