Home 2.4

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Picking up the phone now, with Tom and Agent Brown standing right next to her, wasn’t an option. So she waited until they got back to HQ and she headed to her room, hoping Creed left a message or something.

He did.

It was a short message, giving her a progress report of his search of the city. His subordinates found a couple of places that Gladwell might be hiding in, though they didn’t venture inside to find out for sure, afraid she’d spot them and kill them. Creed didn’t want to start a conflict between his organization and Gladwell, and he’d be forced to if Gladwell killed any of his men. They were still looking for more possible hideouts, he estimated he’d narrow it down to two or three by tomorrow evening. She had been hoping he would somehow manage to get it done by tonight but tomorrow wasn’t bad. Ian could stay out of trouble for that long.

The extra time did give her a chance to figure out the little details of her plan, like how she was going to get the SAA to come investigate. Initiating a big fight that would cause a ton of property damage didn’t seem like a good idea and it was always a pain in the ass for everyone involved.

Or she could just not be an idiot and forward the information to the SAA. Right, why didn’t she think about that earlier? If Agent Hayes knew Gladwell was in town from his precog, he would be more inclined to believe and act on it. If he didn’t, Cameron could always go ahead with her current plan. Cameron liked her challenges but there were limits, stuff she wouldn’t even consider. Messing with Gladwell wasn’t past her limits but it was pretty damn close, too close for anyone’s comfort.

That was a problem for tomorrow, when she received the info.

For now, Cameron was hungry. The heroes’ floor had its own kitchen, shared by everyone who had access to it. The fridge was almost always fully stocked with only a few items clearly marked as belonging to someone. After meeting Tom earlier today, she now knew T.H was him, which left A.N. Cameron was betting A.N was Ionic. She tossed a steak TV dinner into the microwave and sat down on the kitchen counter as she waited.

“Sit in a chair, not the counter.”

She looked up from the bird game she was playing on her phone. “Ionic?”

“Or Allison Nakamura, I’ll respond to either.”

True to Agent Brown’s word, Ionic or Allison, was young, fourteen or fifteen at the most. Her long dark hair was tied in a ponytail and from the sweat and clothes she wore, she probably just came from the gym. A few inches shorter than Cameron but today wasn’t a special occasion; Allison worked out often and had the muscles to prove it.

“Hmm.” She tapped her finger against her chin as she thought. “I think I’m going to call you A, I when in costume.”

Allison shook her head, unamused. “AI. Funny.”

“I thought so.” She grinned. The microwave beeped. She hopped off the counter and popped open the microwave to retrieve her dinner. Allison rummaged through the fridge, pulling out ingredients for her own dinner. Athletic, smart, and knew how to cook, Allison had it all, it seemed. Cameron grabbed a fork and was careful to grip the edges of the box, so she wouldn’t burn her fingers. “See you later.”

“Tomorrow,” Allison said before Cameron could head to her room. “We’ll be seeing each other tomorrow, during the training session we have scheduled.”

Training session tomorrow, that sounded vaguely familiar. Cameron probably hadn’t been listening when Agent Brown told her. Allison glanced away from the contents of the fridge to Cameron’s face. “No one told you?”

“Maybe. I don’t remember.”

Allison sighed, closing the fridge. “We have one training session every week, sometimes more. It’s four to seven. You’ll arrive at the gym on time. There’s no need to wear your costume, either. It’ll be mostly CQC practice.”

This wasn’t ideal. She didn’t want to be all worn out when she went to deal with Gladwell. “I’m going to guess it’s not optional.”

“It’s not. You’ll be there.”

“Aye aye captain,” she said, forcing a smile on her face. First order of business, she’d need to text Creed and get him to send Hayes the info the moment he got enough. Second order of business, dinner. Allison was taking out a knife and a cutting board when Cameron went to her room. She grabbed the burner phone from the pocket of a leather jacket hidden in a stack of dirty clothes. With the message sent, she ate her crappy microwavable meal, wondering what Allison was cooking in the kitchen. You’d think she would have learned how to cook already, with her mom being absent for most of her life and Dad being hopeless in the kitchen.

What were they both doing now? Dead, their bodies buried in a ditch somewhere, or alive, doing whatever they wanted?

The thought of them being happy made her angry. After leaving her, at two different points in her life, with no goodbye and all the shit she went through because of it, they didn’t deserve to be happy. They should be twice as miserable as she ever was or burning in hell. Those were the only two outcomes she’d accept.

Cameron arrived four minutes late to training and she received a glare from Allison. Allison should have been happy Cameron showed up at all. Honestly, Cameron spent a lot of time debating about whether she should go or not.

There were two other people with her, a girl about Allison’s age with brown hair a shade or two lighter than Cameron’s own, and a lanky teenage boy holding a sword. The boy had to be Violet Knight. They were all just standing around, waiting.

“We doing this training thing or what?” Cameron asked.

Allison shook her head. “Agent Hayes told us not to start yet, he needs to speak to us first.”

The girl came up to her, smiling, hand outstretched. The preppy type. “Hi, I’m Kate, it’s nice to meet you,” she said, perky.

“I’m Cameron, but I’m betting you already knew that. Nice to meet you too,” Cameron said without even ten percent of the cheer in Kate’s voice. She made sure her voice was loud enough for Violet Knight to hear from where he stood. “And that’s VK, over there?”

He nodded. “It’s Matt.”

“Glad to see you all got introductions out of the way,” Agent Hayes said. She whirled around and saw him striding over to them, holding a yellow folder. “I just received this packet and if it’s true then we’re all going in to be in a lot of trouble.” He met Cameron’s eyes. “Though you may already know about this.”

She could feel her heart rate spike. Experience let her keep her expression even, indifferent. “Know what?”

“I had a few of our agents working on this since we got it.” He tapped the folder. “They’re fast workers, and get even faster with Foresight helping to guide them. Her target, as far as we can tell, are the Speed Fiends and you’ve been known to associate with them.”

Luckily, plausible deniability was still on her side. “They helped me out, once or twice. We’re not friends but in a city like Avocet, with all the big crime groups running around, we little guys like to stick together, you know? Whose this ‘she’ you’re talking about, anyway?”

Hayes broke their little staring contest and turned to address the others. “Gladwell.”

Remembering that she shouldn’t already know this, Cameron tried to look shocked, like anyone would be upon hearing a scary fucker like Gladwell was in the same city as you. “Shit,” she added, to help sell the act.

Kate’s eyes were as wide as saucers and Matt had nearly dropped his sword when Hayes spoke.

Allison didn’t even bat an eyelash.

“What else do we know about the situation?” she asked, going straight to business.

Hayes handed Allison the folder. “We know the Speed Fiends were spotted in New York, around the same time as Gladwell. They could have gotten into an disagreement and now she’s here to get her revenge. I’m assuming you all know the details of her powers and her general personality?”

“Hard not to,” Matt said. The news loved to talk about Gladwell, the havoc she wreaked made entertaining if sometimes tragic headlines.

“Included in the folder is a list of places Gladwell might be hiding in. With my more mundane operatives lacking in the innate protection you all have to powers, I’ll have you three go check out it instead,” Agent Hayes said, deliberately not looking at Kate as he said the last part. Maybe she was like Tom, someone who came here to learn how to control their abilities, not be a superhero.

The frown on her face told Cameron otherwise.

Allison finished reading and passed the folder to Matt. “You are not to engage Gladwell if you find her,” he continued. “This is strictly recon, understand? She’s dangerous and I’d like to have a plan before we even attempt to capture her.” The barest hint of a smile was on his face. Catching Gladwell would take him right out of the doghouse and put him first in line for a promotion. For once, he and Cameron were on the same page. There would be no other way to stop Gladwell from going after Ian. “Go, get suited up. Cameron, you’ll find your official costume has been completed and delivered to your room.”

Matt and Allison rushed out the second Hayes gave the order. “If it doesn’t look badass I want my money back,” Cameron said to Hayes, as she moved to follow them.

“Hey, um, Cameron?” Kate said. She stopped and turned to face her. “We should hang out, sometime. When you’re free.”

“Uh, sure,” Cameron replied. It wasn’t very often people she barely knew asked her to hang out, especially people well aware of Cameron’s criminal history. She hurried out, wouldn’t want Matt and Allison to leave without her.

As promised, a brand new costume was laid out on her bed with a note on top of it. Boots sat at the foot of her bed. She picked up the note and fully admired the costume. It reminded Cameron of Droid’s outfit, with its forest green jacket over a body armor. The body armor was black with green lines over the chest and arms, and it actually looked like body armor, not like skintight spandex that some superheroes wore. There were a pair of gloves laying on the side, beside a utility belt. She picked up the black helmet with her right hand as her eyes moved over to the note she held in her left.

Three words: Welcome, Point Blank.

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