Ian laughed, light and free. Cameron admired that about him, his ability to shrug off anything with a grin. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy life, completely happy with his situation in life, damaged motorcycle excepted.
His motorcycle was his livelihood. It and his power to grant the ability to turn any vehicle the person drove into an insanely fast and durable machine and giving them the skill to handle driving it. Of his gang, the Speed Fiends, he was the only one with superpowers, the others were friends of his he asked to join if he thought they were cool.
“Is it going to be as exciting?” he asked, eager. “Some of the boys are getting restless.”
“This will be more dangerous, maybe stupidly so,” Cameron admitted.
“Buy me dinner and I’m all yours.” He grinned, waving a menu in the air to call over a server. One came within seconds, notepad and pen in hand. “Give me a number four with an extra helping of fries and a Pepsi.”
If only the rest of life’s troubles could be solved with twenty dollars.
The server scribbled something down on the pad of paper and turned to look at her. “Just give me the same thing but the normal amount of fries,” Cameron said.
He nodded and left without a word, returning with two glasses filled with their drink and ice, a fake smile plastered on his pimpled face. He went back to this station, warily watching and waiting for one of the many customers in the restaurant to call him over.
“How’s work, anyway?” Ian asked. Ice rattled as he played with his straw, stirring his drink.
She thought about the training sessions, the debriefings, the reports, the report she had to write for today’s outing, and school, couldn’t forget about school and all the work that entailed. Cameron sighed, all of a sudden feeling very much in need of a nap. “I really want to quit sometimes.”
Ian sucked on his straw, gulping down his drink. He didn’t say it out loud but she knew what he was thinking. They’ve had this conversation before and nothing he could say was going to change her mind. As much as it sucked sometimes, Cameron was committed to the mission. At the end of the day, it was the only thing that was hers. It kept her going when she had been exhausted, cold, lonely, hurt, when nothing seemed worth it anymore.
“You should come by soon, the boys like having you around,” Ian said, an obvious attempt at changing the subject. She appreciated it.
She rolled her eyes. “Of course they do, they’re teenage boys and I’m a teenage girl. Not rocket science.”
“They like you for other reasons than the girl thing.” He leered. “The girl thing’s a bonus.”
The server returned, carrying a plate in each hand and a bottle of ketchup tucked between his body and arm. He put their meals in front of them and smiled. “Enjoy.”
Combo number four was a nice, big bacon cheeseburger. It was covered in fat and grease, tasty if horrible for her health.
She took a bite out of it.
“You should definitely come to this party on the weekend,” Ian said, after swallowing a mouthful of food. “It won’t break your probation as long as you don’t get caught drinking, right?”
“As long as I don’t get caught yeah,” she agreed. It wouldn’t even be hard. The guardian the SAA set her up with, Henry Klein, was one of the least responsible parents ever. He was always out, either working at his job as one of the SAA’s doctors or hanging out with his friends. He gave her permission to go out and do wild, crazy teenage things as long as she didn’t need him to pick her up.
“So, you in?”
She chewed slowly, thinking. It had been awhile since she last went to a party. Before she had decided to let herself get caught by the SAA and they decided to make her a superhero rather than send her to jail, Cameron had gone to parties all the time.
“I’m in,” Cameron said. “Text me the details.”
They ate and talked until their plates were eaten clean and nothing but ice in their cups.
Cameron paid the bill and included a generous tip for their server.
They stood in the parking lot, him on another one of his motorcycles and she leaned on the door of her car. It was empty of other people, they were already inside waiting for or enjoying their meals.
“The favor?” he asked.
She reached into her jacket pocket and handed him a carefully folded piece of paper. On it were instructions she wrote out ahead of time, much easier than saying it loud and hoping he remembered it all. Ian stuffed into his jacket and pulled on his helmet. “Don’t forget about my motorcycle,” he said, stern.
“Yeah, yeah, I won’t.”
He nodded, satisfied, and drove off into the night. Cameron got into her car and went home.
She trusted him to get it done. Ian was good. If he wanted to, he and his gang might have become one of the few criminals in town not affiliated with Creed’s organization or the Automatons. With his power, they were powerful enough to be a pain to deal with and they didn’t scare away tourists or interfere with anyone else’s business. They wouldn’t bother to take him out and Ian had no interest in getting involved with them.
Klein lived in this nice apartment building on the rich side of town, a penthouse apartment. She was surrounded by doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and trust fund kids. Hell, Klein was two of those things. While his job as a doctor working for the SAA provided a good, steady income, it was mostly his parents’ wealth that let him afford his apartment. They had made an agreement with him. From what he told her, if he became a doctor and got a job, they would pay for basically anything he wanted. If he didn’t, he would have gotten disowned so it wasn’t much of a choice to make.
Sometimes it was hard for her to believe this was her life. Not long ago she was living on the streets, getting by with the money she stole from unsuspecting passersby. From rags to riches.
Cameron parked her car in the underground parking lot under the building and took the elevator up to her floor.
The apartment had a bachelor vibe to it, very high quality furniture, clothes occasionally strewn over chairs and wooden flooring, bookshelves with untouched books, and plants he always forgot to water. It was designed to impress, the arrangement was a little too good to have been done by anything less than a professional.
Klein was home, sitting on the couch with the TV on. He didn’t tear his eyes away from the screen. “Hey, Pierce, where’ve you been?”
“Eating dinner with a friend,” Cameron said, hanging her jacket in the closet by the door.
“Get anything for me?”
“Nope, order takeout or you know, actually cook something,” she replied on her way to her room. She shut the door and locked it.
The walls of her room were painted a light blue, not her choice. It was left over from when Klein’s little sister lived here years ago before she got her own place. Everything else was hers. Books she actually read, a desk she picked out, ironic superhero posters of herself and her teammates on the walls, and a closet full of clothes. All were belongings acquired within the last year. The few items from before were carefully hidden in her closet. Being a superhero was annoying at times but they paid well and Klein had no problems sharing his wealth with her either.
Cameron sat down at her desk and opened up her laptop. She had schoolwork to finish but that could wait until she finished her report. Agent Hayes got cranky when people didn’t hand in their reports on time. Considering he had the power to send her to jail, it was best not to get on his bad side.
It would be nearly impossible to accomplish the mission from the inside of a jail cell.
She leaned back in her chair and spun slowly, taking in her whole room. It was nice. Her life, as it was now, was good, everything she wanted when she was young. She had money, she was doing something important, and people knew her, her alter ego. It was still her anyway, just with a helmet to cover her face.
If she gave up the mission then this life could stay hers.
But it wouldn’t be a life she deserved if she had to give up the past to live it. She’d be betraying the younger version of herself, who suffered and endured because she knew one day she would get her revenge for the things taken from her.
A childhood stolen, a family torn apart, a father gone.
She walked over to her closet and shoved a pile of clothes she let build up on the floor, partly because she was too lazy to hang those up and partly because it provided a decent hiding spot. Underneath had been a shoebox, a little worn around the edges. She returned to her seat and popped it open.
A pocket photo album, Dad’s ring, Mom’s necklace, a wad of money wrapped with a rubber band, old cell phone, and a netbook, not connected to the internet.
The Automatons were made up of science guys. Inventors, a term for superhumans with the ability to build highly advanced technology, if you wanted to get technical. They had computers just lying around and didn’t mind if she took one for herself. The idea of not having access to a computer in this day and age was appalling to most of them.
Cameron had her laptop now, much bigger and nicer than the netbook, but the plans she started were all on the netbook. It was easier to keep them on the netbook and not contaminate her laptop with incriminating evidence. If they suspected anything, the SAA would go through her laptop first if they weren’t monitoring it already.
Besides, the netbook was already loaded with some neat encryption programs created by the Automatons.
Cameron flipped through the photo album. Pictures of smiling faces dominated nearly every one. They hadn’t been a happy family most of the time but these pictures gave them the appearance of one. It was their way. Even when they were poor they did what they could to hide it, spending money they didn’t have.
There was some clanks outside, pots and pans hitting each other as Klein looked for one the right size. A reminder she wasn’t alone.
She closed the box and put it in a new hiding spot, under another box on the shelf in her closet. Those were both decent places to hide things as long as nobody was looking. It wouldn’t hold up if anyone decided to search her room. She liked having them close. Hopefully she’d realize if anyone suspected she was working with supervillains.
Cameron wandered out of her room a few hours later and settled on the couch. Klein had gone back to his room, doing whatever single men did alone in their rooms with the door closed.
A couple clicks of the remote and the news was on.
In the background was an UltimateTech lab, three gaping holes in its side, glass shattered. Police and SAA cars surrounded it. A cop was putting tape around the area sealing it off. The reporter, an attractive blonde woman, stood a safe distance away.
“-iends but the authorities have not confirmed it.”
It was a little known fact that the Automatons worked with and for UltimateTech Industries when it suited them. Cameron knew for a fact the Automatons had sent some of their inventions to that lab in the past. There was a pretty good chance that was still true.
One Speed Fiend to trash this lab, three others to trash one of the Automatons bases.
With one of their bases destroyed, Creed’s organization would capitalize on that weaknessand attack, in a bid to end their stalemate and take over the city. Agent Hayes wouldn’t be able to help himself either and try to capture at least some Automatons or a few members of Creed’s organization while they were distracted fighting each other.
It wouldn’t be all out war on the streets, which was bad for everyone.
This wasn’t a perfect plan by any means but maybe, just maybe the leader of the Automatons would be taken down in the chaos by the SAA or Creed’s organization.
If things went really well, she’d get to do the honor.