Reboot 5.2/1.2

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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.

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When the Chips Are Down 1.6

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His name described him pretty much perfectly, Violet Knight looked like some medieval knight in violet armor, with a big, badass sword in his hands. A sword he used to cut off one of Blondie’s arms.

Cameron whistled, impressed. Were heroes allowed to be that hardcore? She might have come over to the light side sooner if she knew they didn’t all need to act like the perfect little angels the news made them out to be.

Violet Knight jumped back and away from Blondie, who was clutching an already regenerating stump. “You need to get out of here. Out of the store, far away from here,” he spoke urgently.

She knew better to stick around and ask questions when people were in the middle of executing their plan, delaying might fuck everything up. She gave him a nod before teleporting out when she got a good look at a spot outside the store. The second she appeared outside, she teleported again for good measure. She turned to look back at the store, curious. Hopefully their plan consisted of something more than dropping down from the ceiling and cutting off his arms, she expected more from Ionic. Inventor types like her usually didn’t get an intelligence boost from their powers, despite gaining the ability to do super-science, but after she hyped up her skills with that little speech about earning her position as top superhero in town, Cameron expected Ionic to live up to that.

The inside of the store gained a crimson tint, becoming more red than pink. Cameron couldn’t see much from this distance, just red and violet silhouettes.

“What’s going on in there?” Cameron asked. “You guys kicking his ass?”

“Yeah, what the hell is going on over there?” Droid chimed in.

No response.

Well, she couldn’t hear or see anyone screaming in pain, she wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or not. “Hey, Droid, you saw me do everything they asked of me, right? And that it was totally not my fault if those two got themselves killed, right?”

“Can’t see much of an- Oh fuuuuuuuuuuuck.” Cameron was still close enough to the food court to hear the thud.

Cameron snickered. A shame she couldn’t record him falling down from the ceiling, swearing the entire way down, it’d probably get tons of views on the internet, maybe earn a few bucks from it.

“We have him subdued, more or less. If you can pick yourself up, Droid, the more eyes watching him the better. You too, Teleporter. And nice work,” Ionic said.

The tint was gone, returning the store to its normal shade of pink. She teleported to the front of the store, where Ionic stood between Violet Knight and Blondie, both covered from the neck down in sticky rope. Sticky rope was used whenever conventional bindings wouldn’t hold up to the strain people with super strength could put them under. They stuck to you and the harder you tried to escape, the tighter it constricts.

“What happened here?” Cameron asked, nudging Violet Knight with the tip of her boot. He moved his head in her direction, glaring under that helmet of his probably.

“My plan,” Ionic said, a hint of triumphant in her synthesized voice. “I set up a forcefield to trap him inside, had Violet Knight hold him down while I dropped a load of sticky rope on the both of them.” She indicated Blondie with a wave of her hand. “He seems to have fallen unconscious, it’s likely he overused his power and exhausted himself.”

“Wonder why he did all this, with how he was acting I didn’t feel like there was any real purpose to it,” Violet Knight mused.

Cameron frowned, remembering what he said before Violet Knight cut off his arm. She turned on her super-vision. That girl with the pigtails was nowhere in sight. Like she was never here. “You guys didn’t happen to see a little girl with him, did you? Pigtails?”

“No,” Violet Knight said, Ionic shook her head. “Why?”

This was the sort of thing she’d usually ignore if she didn’t receive a note earlier in the day from Creed, telling her to keep her eyes open. Super-vision had a habit of making her see strange things, things she couldn’t make sense of. Superpowers weren’t perfect, there were stories on the news all the time about people being driven insane by them, people dying because they couldn’t properly control their abilities.

“I saw her standing beside him, and when I brought it up, he freaked out,” Cameron admitted.

“Weird.”

Ionic pulled out a knife from her belt and cut through the rope around Violet Knight. The edge of the blade had a blue glow, the same shade as the blue on her costume.

The silence that came after was interrupted when Ionic spoke up. “You mentioned earlier your power doesn’t work so well when used against a superhuman?”

“Yeah, I can’t teleport them unless they consciously don’t resist.” It wasn’t too different from trying to turn on her super-vision, trying to stop a natural instinct, one they weren’t really aware of doing.

“It wouldn’t work then, if they’re unconscious?”

“It wouldn’t.”

“Damn. Transporting him would have been a lot easier if you were capable of teleporting him there.” She paused. “Trucks will be arriving in two minutes to take him away.”

He was still on the ground, out like a light or pretending to be. Cameron couldn’t tell for sure with the amount of sticky rope on him, but his arm had completely regenerated. Those shock collars they had that knocked you out if you tried to use your powers wouldn’t work as well for him as it did when they used it on her. They were flawed anyway, if Cameron had really wanted to, she could have teleported it off before it could zap her.

Droid entered the store with his armor looking a little more banged up than the last time Cameron saw him. “Enjoy your fall?” she asked.

“It was fantastic,” Droid answered with forced cheerfulness. He pressed the heel of his boot against Blondie’s nose. “Looks like he’s out cold.” He pushed a little harder. Blondie didn’t react.

“Stop. He’s tied up, defenseless, there’s no need to rough him up anymore than he already is,” Ionic said, meeting his eyes, or close enough to it since they were both wearing helmets.

Droid scoffed. “Maniacs like him are the reason why there’s only a handful of us left in this damn city.” Still, he stepped away from their captive and deliberately looked away. It reminded Cameron of a comment Ionic had made the other day, about Droid being unfit for leadership and how they kept him around as a figurehead. One of the main reasons for his popularity inside and out of Avocet city was because of an incident that happened awhile ago, resulting in the death of half of heroes in the city. Everybody loved a good tragedy, a reason to come together, something to talk about, and they adored the survivors of tragedies even more.

Standing around, without anything to distract her, the pain from getting slammed into the wall twice made itself known. Her costume had softened the hits, but it didn’t provide the sort of protection Ionic, Droid, and Violet Knight’s costumes no doubt did.

Blondie didn’t move an inch in the minutes it took for agents to arrive with special equipment to restrain him. Couldn’t tell for sure, but he didn’t look like he was breathing. Ionic had knelt down and checked his pulse, finding it weak but definitely there. The agents sealed him inside a metal box, with small holes for air. Droid and Violet Knight carried it to the trucks and the rest of them followed, in case he woke up and caused trouble. Once he was safely loaded up into the truck, they hopped into another truck that trailed behind the other, waiting, watching.

Nothing happened, Blondie was still unconscious when they got to HQ and moved him to a cell. Ionic and Violet Knight went with the agents to the cells, while Droid wandered off to do his own thing.

Cameron was escorted to medical, after Droid mentioned how hard she got hit. She would have preferred to have just been allowed to go to her room with a bottle of painkillers. Doctors were never her favorite people, an old habit ingrained from childhood by daddy dearest.

Well, at least he was easy on the eyes. A few more inches and he’d be a shoe in for tall, dark, and handsome doctor in some soap opera set in a hospital.

“You seem to be alright,” Dr. Klein said, his eyes on the clipboard in his hands, after she went through a bunch of tests. “I can give you something for the pain, I guess, maybe see if you qualify for special medication. Otherwise, you can go back to your room, get some rest or do homework, avoid physical activity. Putting some ice on it wouldn’t hurt either.”

“Special medication?” she asked, zipping her costume back up.

“Inventor made, they speed up healing. We try not to use them too often, we’re not sure on the long term effects if there are any.”

“Don’t think it’s that bad,” Cameron said.

Dr. Klein shrugged. “You’ll be the one dealing with it. Hang on a sec.” He walked over to a cabinet on the far side of the room and searched the shelves.

“Are you close to being finished?”

Cameron jumped a little, very glad that Dr. Klein wasn’t facing her when it happened. She’d have to bury herself into a hole six feet deep if someone saw her get startled so easily. She forgot there were speakers in here, along with many other rooms in the building so Agent Hayes could quickly and easily get in contact with people.

“She’s done, Agent Hayes, I’m just grabbing something for her,” Dr. Klein called out, loud enough to be easily picked up by the microphones.

“Good, I want to have a quick conversation with her in her room. Tell her to come immediately, I don’t have much time to waste.”

“He does realize I’m right here and can hear every word he’s saying, right?” Cameron said.

Dr. Klein crossed the room and handed her a bottle of over the counter painkillers. “You do realize he’s kind of an asshole, right?”

“Learned that on my first day.” She smiled, hopping off the bed she was sitting on. She gave him a wave goodbye before pulling on her helmet and going straight to her room. The idea of Hayes being in her room made her skin crawl.

He had made himself comfortable in her computer chair, idly tapping his fingers against the edge of her desk. “Hello Cameron, I’ve heard you were a big help today.”

“And?” She took off the helmet and put on the bed, beside her backpack and the clothes she was wearing earlier, someone must have brought them to her room from the car.

“You’ve heard of the tragedy, haven’t you? That left me with half a team, most of them children. Not many heroes wanted to transfer here after we fucked up that badly. I do the best I can with what I have, regardless. We managed well so far but it’s been quiet and I have it on good authority that it won’t stay that way for long. Anymore screw ups and I’m liable to be out of a job. Today’s not as bad as it could have been, but it wasn’t good either. See my predicament?”

He didn’t wait for her to respond.

“Start packing up your things, we’ll be moving you to the fourth floor by the end of the week. Welcome to the team, Cameron.”

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