Cameron’s life was a bunch of failures stacked on top of each other, sixteen years high. The kind of failure resulting in a freak like Gladwell out for your blood? She hadn’t managed to fuck up that badly, yet, and she hoped she never would.
No one knew when the first person with powers was born but it wasn’t until the 70’s that it became too hard for the government to cover it up anymore. Clairvoyants and people with weak telekinesis were one thing, but hiding a growing population of people who could smash tanks or do some other flashy trick required a much more powerful government, or a lot of delusion on the public’s part. Ever since the common person realized anyone walking down the street could potentially have the ability to tear them apart with a single thought and there wasn’t a damned thing they would be able to do about it, they’ve been scared out of their minds. Superhumans started wearing colorful tights to put them at ease, remind them heroes like the ones they read in comics or saw on TV were real. They had people protecting them, nothing for them to be frightened of.
The Gladwells of the world reminded them they had plenty to be afraid of.
Unlike many, Gladwell didn’t wear a mask to hide herself, didn’t bother with social conventions in general. She did what she wanted, when she wanted, how she wanted.
“How the hell did you do that, Ian?” Cameron asked. “Jesus, you should have come to me sooner.”
Ian sighed. “I went out of town with the guys, to New York. Us being there messed with some dude’s, the master of something, plan. Gladwell wasn’t happy about that so she sent that guy, the one who wrecked the mall.”
Cameron would never understand the appeal of any name with master in it, they sounded lame more than half the time. “Guess that explains why he didn’t have a costume. You sure Gladwell sent him? He seemed, I don’t know, just generally crazy, not like he had an agenda.”
“I’m sure, Gladwell left a message for me at one of our garages.”
“You don’t have to worry about him though, he’s been unconscious since the attack.”
“Yeah, but him failing is what’s brought Gladwell to Avocet. I’d rather deal with him than her.”
“You know for sure she’s in town? She’s not getting some lackey to do all her dirty work for her, pretending she’s actually here to screw with you?”
He nodded but didn’t elaborate.
How was she going to explain to Agent Hayes how she got this information? She wasn’t supposed to associate with people from her criminal past and no one outside that world would know Gladwell was coming. Hell, maybe he already knew. The conversation they had about a week ago came back to her, he said he had it on good authority things wouldn’t stay quiet for long in their city. He probably had a precog on his payroll, someone she hadn’t met.
“Fuck. Think I should leave town, try to get her to go somewhere else. Somewhere with more heroes.”
“She knows you live in Avocet City, anyone with an internet connection does. She’s going to tear apart this city until she finds you, Ian.” Telling Gladwell where Ian was would end all of this, before it got a chance to get ugly. Cameron wasn’t a good person, she knew this. If it came down between Ian and people she had never met before, would likely never meet, well, fuck those people. What did they ever do for her? They weren’t there when she needed protection from her dad, weren’t there to deal with the aftermath. “You should go. Gladwell’s not invincible, the SAA can handle her.”
He shook his head, scowling. “All the shit she’s going to do to Avocet, that’s my fault. I’m going to make her pay for it, someday.”
Cameron checked the time, and sighed. “Right, I should go. If you decide to leave, tell me before you do. Be careful out there, Ian, because I really don’t own funeral clothes and I really don’t want to.”
“I’ll try not to inflict funeral clothes on you,” Ian said, smiling. “Don’t do any crazy shit either, Cameron.”
She left, wondering whether what she was about to do counted as crazy shit.
The smart thing to do would be to go back to HQ, staying out late on one of her first nights of freedom might arouse suspicion, make them question if she was actually responsible enough to handle the freedom.
Before she met Creed, she worked as a thief. She started small, a couple of bills out of someone’s wallet, jewelry, watches, then she began going into people’s houses. Whenever she got comfortable, she went to the next level, upped the challenge. With a power like hers, it didn’t take long before she stole gear from superheroes and villains. Ian had connections she used to sell off her stolen goods, and she made a ton of cash from it. That came to an end when she stole from the wrong person and they went after her. Cameron had a stash of equipment she didn’t sell, some because they were useful, some because it looked cool and she wanted to keep it as a trophy. It was all safely stored in the tiny apartment she lived in before getting caught by the heroes while out doing an errand for Creed and forced to live at their HQ.
Her place wasn’t far from Ian’s so she walked. The landlord never asked why a teenage girl was living by herself, not as long as he got his money. Cameron hadn’t wanted the SAA to know about this place so she hadn’t seen it in months. She got Sarah to stop by and pay the rent. She wasn’t worried about anyone breaking in, the security system she bought was high-end, no ordinary burglar would be able to get past it.
The stairs creaked as she stepped on them, loud enough to hear throughout the building. She went to the third floor, stopping in front of apartment 3B. The walls were a mottled green, the doors more of a military green. It gave it a very dirty, grimy feel despite being clean.
She always kept the key on her person, didn’t feel safe leaving it where it might get stolen. Cameron unlocked the door, using the key combined with the thumbprint scanner hidden on the doorknob. The apartment had an open layout, no walls separating the kitchen and living room. There was only bedroom, the bathroom right beside it. The place was surprisingly tidy, with all her books on the shelf in the living room by the window, no garbage laying around, the kitchen counter shined under a thin layer of dust. Sarah. This had to be Sarah’s work, that girl couldn’t stand seeing things out of order or dirty.
Other than being a lot cleaner than when she left, it looked to be the same, all her things were still here. She teleported the coffee table and the rug under it out of the way, moving them to the kitchen where there was space. Hidden by the table and rug was a metal safe, lodged into the floor. Opening it required a bit of work, punching in the code, waiting for it to scan her thumbprint, saying the password into the microphone. The safe door automatically swung open revealing its contents, one of them being her old costume.
It wasn’t flashy or eye-catching, the opposite, really. Black from head to toe, it consisted of a bodysuit, a jacket, and a motorcycle helmet.
Good, it was still here.
Tomorrow, she decided. Tomorrow night, she’d grab some equipment from her safe and go out to confront Gladwell. Cameron wasn’t sure how much Hayes knew and she couldn’t ask without getting in trouble. So she’d make it obvious what was going on, make a ruckus, get the local heroes to come and see Gladwell in town. That had the bonus of catching Gladwell off guard, she probably wouldn’t expect them to find out about her so soon and being forced to leave whatever base she managed to set up.
First, she’d need to figure out where Gladwell was staying. She had some experience tracking down supervillain bases, one time she found a lair and took a pair of laser swords and a shield from Hoplite, a vigilante who died in the same event that killed half of Avocet’s superheroes. She didn’t have the opportunity to go around looking, not with a curfew, one she was breaking right now by still being out.
Tomorrow might be too optimistic. Still, this was good, knowing what to do and how to accomplish it. Having things to do, a goal, it kept her grounded, knowing she wasn’t just floating through life. Once Gladwell was dealt with, she could devote herself to the task Creed gave her.
She left the costume out of the safe, placing it in a neat pile on the couch, for easy access when she came by tomorrow. A quick search of the closet in her bedroom got her one of the many burner phones she owned.
hey C, it’s CP, need to call in that favor. how fast can you find someone for me? contact me asap