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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Reboot 5.1/1.1

Author’s Note: So, this need a little bit of an introduction before you read this update. The beginning of Knave has always made me cringe because of how terrible it is in a lot of respects and it’s hard to build a serial on a weak foundation. I had planned to rewrite it but reading it over again, it needs something more than a rewrite to fix. Which brings us to the title, Reboot. This is essentially a reboot but I’m not quite sure if I want to start all over again.

The next arc will basically be a rebooted version of Knave, if you and I both prefer this version to the original, then it’ll become the ‘canon’ version and I’ll continue this version and we’ll all quietly forget the other one exists. If this new version doesn’t work out, we’ll pretend this arc happens in an alternate universe and quietly go back to the version of Cameron and pal you’re already familiar with.

Very sorry for the suddenness of this but I think it’s necessary and perfect timing, story-wise, with the end of the arc and the introduction of alternate universes. Your feedback will be especially appreciated, now more than ever.

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It was too nice of a day to spend it chasing after supervillains.

Cameron stood on the rooftop of UltimateTech Industries’ corporate headquarters, the tallest building in Avocet. She was so close to the edge a strong enough gust might send her falling to her death.

It did give her a very nice view of the ongoing chase happening down below. A bright red blur sped through the empty streets. In the air following the blur’s trail was a ship, a tiny bird-like thing, a sphere in the center, two wings sticking out of it, and a sharp, pointed beak on the front. You’d think something so stupid looking might at least be fast to make up for it but the ship wasn’t even close to catching up to the blur, and Cameron was being charitable here.

“Point Blank, do you have eyes on the target?” Agent Hayes said, speaking on comms.

He was the boss, the Man, the agent in charge of coordinating Avocet’s superheroes. Her boss.

She tapped the side of her helmet three times with her first two fingers. “Yeah, I see him,” she said. “You’re sucking really hard right now Ionic.”

Ionic, the pilot of the ship, didn’t bother to reply.

“Can you take him out?” Agent Hayes questioned, harsh and demanding.

Her eyes tracked the blur in spite of the speed it moved at. It was pretty easy to do once she had time to get a feel for how fast it was going then she could predict where it would be fairly accurately. It came with her intuitive knowledge of an object’s position, as long as she could see it with her own eyes.

“If I can’t, we’re kind of fucked aren’t we?”

“That’s not an answer.”

Cameron smirked, hidden by the helmet she wore, and he wouldn’t be able to see it anyway, sitting in his office at the base, watching and listening.

She drew her laser gun from its holster. There was no scope attached. With her thumb, she turned the dial on the side to three. That would be enough power to hurt their little blur without killing him even if she got him in the head but it would do some damage.

She took aim.

“I’ll give it a shot,” Cameron said.

No one reacted to her stellar pun, not even a small chuckle or an acknowledgement. Geez, what was the point of being a superhero if no one appreciated a good joke?

If she wanted to, Cameron was pretty damn sure she could knock him off his ride, stopping him dead in his tracks. She didn’t want to.

Cameron pulled the trigger and a laser beam faster than the human eye could see came out of the barrel. The blur spun in place before righting itself and going on its merry way, at about half the speed. Still too fast for Ionic in her ship to compete with.

The blur slid out of the area they had blocked off, escaping into traffic.

It was too dangerous for them to try and capture him now. Forcing him to stop by hitting the other wheel of his motorcycle would send him crashing into another vehicle and at the speed he was going, it wouldn’t bode well for whoever was in the car. They would be the ones who got blamed too. As dangerous as it might seem, a motorcycle driving down the streets faster than some jets, its driver took care to not damage property or cause any harm at all.

He was still breaking the law and people wanted him caught and arrested but they would be quick to turn on their superpowered civil servants.

“Damn,” Cameron said.

“Ionic, Point Blank, come back to base. Go immediately to the debriefing room, the rest of the team will be waiting for you there,” Agent Hayes ordered, sounding tired.

“Roger,”Ionic replied and Cameron saw her ship turn and fly in the opposite direction. They had worked together for long enough now for Ionic to know Cameron never wanted a ride back unless she physically was unable to get there on her own. Ships were great and all but they took too long to get where they were going for Cameron’s liking.

From where she stood, Cameron could practically see everything if she looked hard enough, including the people down on the streets going about their business. It took her a second to spot the SAA, short for Superhuman Affairs Agency, base. It was situated downtown, surrounded by shops and restaurants with superhero themes. It was a tourist hotspot, the entire city was.

She teleported, appearing on top of the base in an instant. There was a helipad on the roof for ships and other flying vehicles to safely land on and a door leading down to the rest of the building.

She hopped off the pad and walked to the door. The tiny LED light beside it turned from red to green as she approached. Her costume automatically sent a signal to the door to unlock it or something. Ionic was the main science person, not her.

It’d take Ionic a couple of minutes to get here. She would have teleported Ionic and the ship straight to base and save them all time if her power worked on other superhumans.

Cameron strolled down the stairs and to the debriefing room. The top floors of the building were reserved for superheroes, lower level agents weren’t allowed up here for security reasons. Some of them had secret identities to protect.

The debriefing room consisted of a long rectangular table, far more chairs than there were superheroes in the city, a big screen TV on the wall playing the news, and potted plants in every corner. Agent Hayes sat at one end, silent, glaring at the TV across from him. Not all of Cameron’s teammates were here, they were rarely all gathered together. If there was no need for them to be here, they didn’t come.

Other than Agent Hayes, Tyler and Kate were here, sitting on opposite sides of the table, both of them surrounded by empty chairs. Tyler was a precog, he had told Agent Hayes their speedy friend would be taking another ride around town today and Agent Hayes had decided today was the perfect time to try and take him in. Kate was the team’s other science person, she had helped Ionic build the ship.

They were in civvies. They didn’t need costumes, considering they both weren’t field agents.

Cameron sat down beside Kate and took off her helmet. She rested her feet on the table and leaned back in the chair. Agent Hayes was too distracted by other things to yell at her.

They waited in silence.

Ionic came in and claimed the seat on the other end of the table.

“That was horrible,” Agent Hayes said, shaking his head. “This was our second attempt at capturing one of them and we failed again. From what we can tell so far, the Speed Fiends are just a bunch of thrill seekers. A gang of stupid teenagers and we fail. All we needed to do was capture one and convince them to tell us who their leader is, the one using his power to make them move so fast.”

We’re kind of a gang of stupid teenagers,” Cameron said.

Avocet’s superhero team was made up of almost exclusively teenagers. Their adult members hadn’t been as lucky as they were. Well, it wasn’t luck, exactly. Each generation of superhumans were more powerful than the last. The older members simply were as strong as they were.

“We’ll do better next time, sir,” Ionic said, her voice was altered by her helmet, making it sound more mechanical, more robot than human. “We’ll upgrade the ship.”

“I have some ideas of what we can do to improve,” Kate chimed in.

Agent Hayes sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “That’s fine. You’re all dismissed, don’t forget to write up your reports.”

Ionic was the first person out the door. In a rush to finish her report and get back to working on the ship, no doubt. Kate followed. It wasn’t easy trying to keep up with Ionic’s work ethic. The girl literally had no life outside of superheroing.

Tyler and Agent Hayes were still sitting when Cameron left.

Tyler hardly ever talked to anyone on the team but he and Agent Hayes got along swimmingly, she assumed from all the time they seemed to spend in each other’s company.

Agent Hayes was desperate for a win. All the deaths on his team looked terrible on his record and she bet that if he didn’t shape up soon he would have to go looking for a new job. It was hard to score a win when their opponents, the Speed Fiends excepted, were so well organized while they had never bounced back from the events that led to the death of their older, more experienced members. Cameron hadn’t been a superhero back then but some of the others had and they talked about it maybe once or twice in the entire time Cameron had been with the SAA. It was a touchy subject for them.

Avocet had two major villain groups, the Automatons and Creed’s organization. It didn’t have a name for whatever reason. The Automatons and Creed were peaceful, as far as criminals went, and stopped other villains from setting up shop here. They were basically matched when it came to strength so the city was equally divided in half. Their team wasn’t good enough to take out either one at this point and they weren’t a big enough problem to call in backup from other cities.

Cameron went to her room, located on the same floor as the debriefing room. It was decently sized, mostly undecorated, and furnished with nothing but a bed, a nightstand, and a mannequin for her to hang her costume up on. At one point, during her early days of being a superhero, Cameron had lived in this room but now it served the purpose it was supposed to, she took naps here sometimes if she was dead tired after training or a mission and stored her costume and weapons here.

She changed into some clothes she had left in the closet.

Other than the report and mandatory training sessions, Cameron was free to do whatever she wanted with her time unless called upon to do a mission. Very rarely did superheroes go on patrol because the chances of actually stumbling on a crime worthy of their powers was pretty damn low. The police could handle muggings and getting cats out of trees. Superheroes only tended to go on patrol to let the public see them out and about, so they felt safe and protected.

Her car was parked in a special section of the garage, only superheroes or high level agents were allowed access. It had a secret tunnel that led to a parking garage down the street so heroes could enter and leave the building without having their identities compromised.

It was kind of a pain in the ass for Cameron. It added an extra five minutes whenever Cameron was coming or going.

It probably meant she was going to be late in meeting up with her friend, Ian.

Of course he didn’t have to attend debriefings.

They had scheduled this ahead of time, she was going to meet with him at this cheap burger joint on the other side of town. Ian was strapped for cash most of the time and he definitely wouldn’t be able to afford anything too expensive now that she damaged his motorcycle with her laser gun earlier.

Cameron smirked. Ian was going to be pissed.

And the glare he gave her as she slid into the other side of the booth confirmed her suspicions.

“That’s the last time I ever do you any favors,” he huffed, running a hand through his dark, messy curls.

Cameron was still smirking. “Had to make it look good, you know? Don’t want them to start thinking I suck ass.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Ian said. “You’ve whined about what happens if they do before. Can we go back to talking about the motorcycle?

She rolled her eyes. “I’ll pay for it, but first, I’m going to need another favor from you.”

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The Hunt Is On 3.3

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“Boy or girl?”

Ian ran a hand through his messy dark hair and smirked. “Girl.”

“I’ll pass then,” Cameron said. Ian shrugged and moved to close the door, eager to return to the girl waiting in his bedroom. “Oh, and wrap it before you tap it.” He rolled his eyes and shut the door in her face. She smiled as she left. Some things never changed. Ian never had problem convincing someone to hop into his bed, male or female, and he used his skills often. Nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone involved was willing. It’d only be wrong if, somehow, he unknowingly seduced Gladwell and was having sex with her right now. She was a known shapeshifter. That would be funny in a messed up romantic comedy way.

It left her with nothing to do, though, unless she decided to change her mind about the threesome thing, which seemed kind of hard to do properly.

A walk sounded nice, help clear her head and get some exercise while she was at it. Being a superhero demanded you stay in shape and there were actually people who enforced it. It did come with its benefits, one of them was having someone to clean your costume for you. Getting blood out of her old uniform had been a pain the ass but now, the second she took it off, someone had come to collect and clean her costume for her. There hadn’t been much to clean, she only got a little of Gladwell’s blood on her costume after stabbing her with Matt’s sword.

Cameron stopped, pausing to take in her surroundings. She hadn’t been paying attention to where she was going, letting her feet lead her wherever they wanted to go. Very odd, that they’d take her here. It was the Italian restaurant they searched the other day, when she, Allison and Matt went looking for Gladwell. Maybe it wasn’t so odd. Everything that happened after had made her forget about the phone call she overheard. She couldn’t put the feeling to words now, but it had felt so important then.

She walked away.

She checked her phone, the screen displaying the latest status update. They hadn’t found Gladwell yet, unsurprisingly. Matt had also come down with a cold and would be unable to help if Agent Camelo decided to include them in the search. It was a little ominous he got sick so soon after their encounter with Gladwell. His armor had protected him though, not a single drop of his blood was spilled, no skin ripped off of him, and he was a superhuman, nothing less than her taking a sizable chunk out of him would create a strong enough connection to hurt him.

It occurred to her she never asked him what his powers were. She knew he had super strength and durability, his sword was incredibly deadly too. Matt wasn’t the first Knight either. Cameron read his Wikipedia page, there had been many Knights before him, each were distinguishable by the different colors of their armors but all of them had the same powers, the same weapon. Of course super strength and durability were far from being rare. It didn’t explain the super sharp sword, though. A hand-me-down?

“Hey, wait up!”

Cameron stopped and turned to look behind her. Running to catch up with her was someone familiar, though he had changed since she last saw him, his hair was cut shorter and his brown skin a touch lighter than she remembered. He was nineteen, three years older than her and was dressed casually in a red hoodie and jeans.

“Michael,” she said, when he caught up.

“What? No hug?” he said, smiling.

“When have I ever given you a hug?”

“Call me optimistic but I still hope you might reconsider your no hug policy,” Michael said.

“If I do, it definitely won’t be for you. What are you even doing here?”

He stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Business, having a chat with a restaurant owner, no big deal yet. I’d say more but I wouldn’t want to get arrested.” He winked. Michael thought he was charming and funny. She didn’t share his opinion.

“So you heard about my new gig,” Cameron said. Unsurprising, really. Michael was Michael, the next generation of True God leaders. Testament, the leader and founder of the True Gods, handpicked anyone with a leadership position in his organization and the people he picked tended to be the ones he personally found and recruited. Creed told her Testament got him when he was still a kid, raised him to become the man he was today. Creed resented him for being controlling and manipulating him, very ironic considering Creed’s superpower.

Michael and her met when he came to Avocet for a year to learn from Creed. Testament was seemingly unaware of Creed’s real feelings and thought of him as a son and one of his best and brightest. If anything were to happen to Testament, Creed would no doubt be chosen as his successor.

Of course, Testament had proven himself to be hard to get rid of. She hoped Creed knew what he was doing with his take over plan.

“Shouldn’t you be out looking for you know who? Unless that’s what you’re doing now.”

“Is you know who the reason you’re in Avocet?” she asked, avoiding his question. There was a pretty significant chance she and him would end up on opposing sides, when Creed finally made his move.

“I shouldn’t say. You understand,” Michael said, still smiling.

“I do. Tell C I said hi when you see him.”

“Sure. I better get going, see you around, Cameron.” He turned and walked away, back in the direction of the Italian restaurant she passed earlier.

Testament preferred to pick them young because it was easier for him to get their trust, to make them loyal to him. He gave them what their parents didn’t, gave them what they needed, attention and affection.

In a lot of ways, Creed really was suited to be Testament’s successor. He already had that technique mastered. Michael and her weren’t much different, two kids screwed by their parents, taken in and given purpose by someone with dubious intentions. Loyal, too loyal. It might take nothing short of death for him to accept and work for Testament’s killer.

It would really suck if and when she had to kill him.

Allison found her immediately when Cameron returned to HQ, the timing of it was a little too good just like it had been when Allison sent her that text the other day, asking her to come to Allison’s workshop. There were cameras stationed all over the SAA building except on the superhero floor, for obvious reasons. Some inventors knew nothing about computers or science despite doing things that looked suspiciously like science while others were very knowledgeable. Cameron had no clue why and didn’t really care but maybe Allison fell under the latter category, the knowledgeable inventors, and she used her special skills to gain access to the SAA’s cameras.

Cameron sat on a stool as Allison worked on the forcefield generator, taking it apart piece by piece, sometimes asking Cameron to use her perception power on one of the pieces and explain what she saw as best she could.

She couldn’t think of a subtle way to ask Allison about the camera thing. Fuck it. “Did you hack the SAA so you can spy on people with the cameras?”

“People aren’t as careful with their passwords as they should be,” Allison said, not looking away from her work.

“So, you didn’t use your master computer skills to crack it?”

“I saw no point in doing that when it’s easier to get access a different way.”

“Is that legal?”

“Let’s just say I prefer it if you keep it to yourself and I’ll continue to ignore your late night excursions.”

Cameron whistled, impressed. Allison was, surprisingly, shaping up to not be the by the books type. That made her life easier. This camera thing, it was leverage and it made Allison suspicious. Creed had asked her to observe her teammates closely, watch for sketchy behavior. Testament had spies within the SAA and even if he didn’t know a thing about Creed’s plans, having a spy in Avocet to help out his favorite in case anything happened was a plausible idea. If he did know, he could use the same spy to make trouble for Creed.

“Here, look at this.” Allison held up a rusty cog the size of her palm. The forcefield generator Allison was dismantling looked like a car engine. Did engines normally have cogs in them?

She was getting distracted. She turned super-vision on. At first, there was no difference except the cog looked sharper, clearer. That was only the surface level of her power, with that invisibility and illusions were nothing. She ventured a little deeper, slow and steady, any faster and it might go out of control. It was always a pain to deal with when that happened. She kept going, deeper and deeper, until she saw it, the images. The images overlapped the cog yet she was able to see both clearly. There were so many different images, many of them animated, packed together in such a small object, it was hard to make sense of it all. All inventor made devices were like that, most things didn’t have as many images.

She looked through the images. There was one that was pure black for two seconds before it flared a brilliant white, constantly repeating. Another was a medieval knight’s shield, motionless. Some of these images had to have originated from the generator, as a whole, and not just the cog. She tried to look harder, find the images that clung tighter to the cog in Allison’s hand. The flashing one definitely belonged to the cog and there was another, one with motion and sound. In that one, something slammed into something else, causing a sickening crunch.

“Okay, there’s… one that’s just darkness until it turns white and the other one is supposed to represent collusion, I think,” Cameron said.

Allison nodded then lowered the cog, placing it on the table beside a bunch of other parts.

Cameron shut off her power quickly, to preserve her energy. She pulled out her phone and played a game while Allison continued to work.

An hour later, Cameron was nearly knocked off her chair. She looked up angrily from her phone. The culprit floated in the air, a round ball surrounded by a red tinted air, a forcefield.

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The Hunt Is On 3.2

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Cameron doubted Agent Brown had wanted them to spend their day off in Allison’s workshop, building a better, faster forcefield generator. They were in there working until almost three in the morning. Allison really wanted it done as soon as possible and had no problems staying up late. Cameron had no problems staying up either. It was her power that stopped them from doing anymore work, it used too much energy. Cameron couldn’t have kept it up any longer unless she wanted to knock herself out from overusing her power. They might have gotten more work done if Kate had been there too help, she was an inventor too after all, but Kate had to go home while Cameron was meeting with Agent Camelo. Unlike the two of them, Kate had a life outside of being a superhero.

A good way to replenish energy was to eat, whether that was actually true or just something people said because it sounded like it could be true, Cameron didn’t know. There were still a lot of unknowns when it came to superpowers. Allison had a mini-fridge, stocked with food, so she wouldn’t have to leave if she got hungry. Cameron snorted when she explained her reasoning. “Do you ever, like, take a break? You know, go out and have fun?”

“I consider this fun,” Allison said, as she crouched down to grab a pair of water bottle and sandwiches.

She grabbed hers then sat on a stool near a mostly empty workbench. “Yeah, but what about broadening your horizons?” When that didn’t get any reaction from Allison, Cameron said, “Are you trying to tell me Agent Brown never gave you that speech?”

“To be fair, only one of us here is a known criminal,” Allison said, before taking a bite out of her sandwich.

Cameron unwrapped hers. “Known criminal, sure but who knows what you get up to behind closed doors? You have plenty of free time too, since you don’t go to school.”

“Who told you I didn’t?”

She waited until she bit, chewed, and swallowed before opening her mouth to reply. “Educated guess. Am I wrong?”

“No, you’re not. I hear I’m not missing much.”

“Well, that depends I guess. If you’re a certain type of person, school is lots of fun,” Cameron said. If you were popular and had a ton of friends, that is. It was hard to imagine Allison fitting in well at any of the public high schools in the city. Maybe at Lalonde, the school only allowed the best and brightest to attend. She had actually gotten accepted there, and went for a week until she realized it really wasn’t her kind of place and transferred to Augustine. Everyone had been a little too preppy and intense about their education for her tastes. The workload at Augustine was a lot easier to manage, too. If her dad had been around, he wouldn’t have let her transfer. He was a hardass when it came to school.

Hanging out with Kate, meeting with Agent Camelo, and working with Allison had helped keep her mind off of her dad, who was probably still in town. She briefly considered trying to find him, let him know how much it hurt when he left, maybe do more than simply letting him know.

No, doing that would be counterproductive. She wanted to move on, forget about it, not throw herself back into it the first chance she got. It was the reason she never went looking for her parents or asked Creed to use his resources to track them down for her. As satisfying as it might be for her to punch Dad in the face, it’d probably be more painful for her, just seeing him.

Cameron finished her sandwich and teleported the plastic wrap above the garbage can in the corner. It floated down, joining the rest of the trash.

“Do you always use your powers like that?” Allison asked, frowning.

“Like what?”

“For things you could easily accomplish without them.”

It didn’t really cross her mind to stand up, walk over to the garbage can, and toss it in there. “Yeah. Why? You have a problem with it?”

“No, I don’t. I was just curious, my – the place I grew up, they were very much against using powers frivolously.”

Cameron wondered what Allison was about to say. Her home? She felt like there was a story there but she doubted Allison would tell her if she asked. “A lot of people are,” Cameron said. “They’re scared. It reminds them what we’re capable of, when pushed too far.”

Allison smiled briefly at that. She rolled her plastic wrap into a ball and threw it into the trash with remarkable accuracy. “It’s late, you should go to bed.”

She glanced over at a holographic screen displayed in front of one of the walls. Along with the date, weather, news, and stock market information, it had a clock in the corner. “I guess it is. I’ll see you later.” Cameron rose from seat.

“Goodnight, Cameron.”

She left. The halls were unsurprisingly empty at this time of night. Even if she went straight to bed, she’d still be dead tired, too tired for school. They wouldn’t expect her to go to school, right? Not with Gladwell still on the loose somewhere in the city, doing who knows what. Then again, maybe Agent Camelo didn’t intend to include them in the search at all. He had said he thought all of three of them should be given time to rest but didn’t specify how long and he brought up the point of them being teenagers still. Teenagers were allowed to be superheroes but that didn’t mean their bosses had to treat them the same as their adult peers.

As long as Gladwell was taken care of, Cameron didn’t care. Doing what she had done yesterday – or the day before yesterday, now – was more than enough. She had done her share. Agent Camelo and his crew could handle the rest and then Ian would be safe. Everybody wins, except for Gladwell but who the hell wanted Gladwell to win?

Well, maybe somebody did. Cameron wasn’t as connected to Avocet’s criminal underworld like she used to be. The two biggest players in town wouldn’t want Gladwell to stick around, Creed and the Automatons needed Avocet to stay peaceful, fewer tourists would come if they thought Avocet was unstable. All the other criminals tended to follow their lead most of the time, unless they spotted a good opportunity. Gladwell coming and instantly getting everyone’s attention was a pretty good opportunity. People would be too busy dealing with Gladwell to deal with them.

Cameron reached her bedroom. She changed into her pajamas and hopped into bed.

She woke up hours later, heart hammering away in her chest, memories of dark, impossibly cold smoke smothering her still vivid in her mind. The nightmares were getting better, until recently.

She told herself she wouldn’t let it bother her, wouldn’t let him being back change anything. If it was that easy to ignore your problems, it wouldn’t be considered a problem.

Since she was up, might as well go get ready. She checked her work phone first. The phone periodically received status updates about the general state of the city. Most of the time, it said things were all good. This wasn’t most of the time. Apparently Agent Camelo’s team were already out there searching, along with Droid and Spy, a member of the team she hadn’t gotten a chance to meet yet. Every other hero was to remain on standby.

Oh god, she only got four hours of sleep.

After she was done getting ready, Cameron grabbed her backpack and slung it over her shoulder. Normally, an agent would drop her off at school, usually one of the low-level ones, sometimes Agent Brown did it. The agent in question typically sent her a text telling her where and when to meet them in the parking lot. She hadn’t received any messages which meant they didn’t expect her to go. Cameron wasn’t planning on going but if anyone passed her in the halls, saw her with her backpack on, they probably wouldn’t ask any questions.

Cameron left the SAA building through the back door, which led to an alley behind the building, sandwiched between the building and a coffee shop. Teleporting out the window would have been faster but might have ruined the whole secret identity thing. Personally, she didn’t care all that much. The SAA was pretty big on maintaining secret identities, so whatever, she’d take the long way.

Once she got to the sidewalks, she went to a bus stop across the street from the coffee shop. She had to wait ten minutes for the bus to arrive and from experience, she knew it’d take twenty minutes to get to her stop after getting on. The SAA had plenty of cars in their garage that just sat there, collecting dust. They were willing to put her out in the field, endangering not only her life but the lives of her teammates, but letting her use one of their cars was too much responsibility for her to handle, apparently.

Those twenty minutes passed by slowly. She played a game on her phone but it still felt like it took forever for the bus to get there. It was a bit of walk from the bus stop to her destination but it was way better than taking the bus. At least when she was walking, she was moving, being active.

Ian’s apartment building was awful, as always. She knocked on his door. The sounds of shuffling and bed sheet ruffling could be heard from the inside of the apartment. Ian opened the door just enough to poke part of his upper half out the door – his naked upper half. If Cameron had to guess, his lower half was just as naked. “You have someone over,” Cameron said, a statement.

“Yeah, so either scram or come join.”

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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

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“Thank you for meeting me. They didn’t give you any trouble, did they?”

Cameron slid into the other side of the booth. Creed had a laptop set up in front of him and a cup of hot coffee placed beside it. He had said the words casually, but she knew the importance of making sure she wasn’t being followed. “No trouble,” Cameron said. “They’ve been a lot more willing to let me go do stuff now that I’m officially on the team. Still on probation though, obviously. Can’t rock the boat too hard.”

Creed nodded, looking back down at the screen of his laptop and started to type. “Yes, that’s why I chose here to meet. A lot less suspicious to meet somewhere public, a simple conversation between lawyer and client. If anyone asks, you have more than enough evidence to back up your claim.” He took a sip of coffee, putting it back exactly where it was when he was done. Cameron’s powers also came with a good sense of position, so when she said exactly, she meant exactly. She always thought it was weird how he could do that. “Would you like anything?”

“I would, if some big shot lawyer would be willing to pay for a poor high school student.”

He paused in his typing to give her a look. “I thought it went without saying that I’d take care of the bill. If it needs to be said then, yes, Cameron, I’ll pay for whatever you want to order.”

“Cool,” she said, smiling. She waved over a waitress, who had been looking at them from the other side of the counter. She ordered a plate of fries and chicken fingers, and a glass of orange soda. When the waitress left, Cameron turned back to Creed, who was working away on his laptop still. “So, what do you want to talk about?” The place was loud enough between the music playing and people talking that they didn’t have to worry about being overheard as long as they talked normally.

“The future, and I do apologize for not giving you my full attention, I’m very busy. It’s hard to manage the workload of two demanding, full-time jobs.”

“You’re going to tell me what exactly I’m doing wearing a white hat?”

“Not exactly, not yet, anyway. Combined with my precogs interfering, not telling you until it’s necessary will throw off any precogs watching your future. What I can tell you, however, is that I’ve been planning a takeover for awhile now.”

She sat up straighter in her seat. “Seriously? Hasn’t the guy running the TG’s been there for ages? Bad and good guys have teamed up but still haven’t managed to kick him off his throne.”

“Yes, I know he’s powerful, I know how loyal many of his followers are to him. I’ve been with them for long enough to know how they operate, how he operates. This is a plan years in the making, Cameron. Taking my time to put all the pieces in the proper place. I highly doubt I’ll get a second chance at this, if I fail.”

“Okay, I’ll trust that you know what you’re doing, you being the mastermind and all. I’m one of these pieces?”

He gave her a nod. “You’ll have to forgive me for arranging your capture, it was necessary. As far as pieces go, you’re fairly important.”

“This is what you meant, right? When I first joined up with you and you asked me what I was willing to do.”

“And you answered that you’d do whatever, as long as I don’t fuck you over. I don’t want to pressure you into this, if you’re unwilling I’m more than capable of making new arrangements to get you out of where you are now. I can find someone else to fill your role, although I do prefer you. You can back out at anytime.”

She wondered if he said that knowing she was going to agree and go along with his plan to take over the True Gods. Not because she was some puppet, incapable of thinking for herself, but he knew the kind of person she was. Without him, she’d probably be dead right now. That wasn’t a minor thing and she hated leaving debts unpaid. “Well, I guess as long as you’re not fucking me over, I’m in,” Cameron said, lightly.

Their conversation paused as the waitress came by and dropped off her meal and drink, resuming when she was gone.

“I will be sending you your escape package soon, regardless. In case anything were to ever happen to me, I wouldn’t want you to be trapped in my plan.”

She dipped a fry into ketchup. “What do you even want me to do?”

He had looked up from his laptop screen and met her eyes. “For now? Nothing. Continue doing what you’ve been doing, get their trust, be as good a superhero as you’re capable of being. Within reason, of course, no need to suddenly become a girl scout. And lastly, most importantly, keep your eyes open, watch your teammates and other heroes closely for suspicious behavior. I’m certain our opponent has spies within the SAA, I’d like to find out who is and isn’t one.”

“You planted a spy for the purpose of looking for spies. That’s – wait, the note you sent me. Is that what you were talking about?”

Creed dipped his head in a nod, returning his attention back to the screen. “Yes. Care to explain your surprise?”

“Nothing, I guess. Thought you meant something else, something I saw the day I got the note. It was probably, well, I don’t know. Shared hallucination, maybe,” Cameron said dismissively before shoving a couple of fries in her mouth.

“If you think it’s nothing, then it’s nothing. If you change your mind, I am here to talk, no matter when. I owe you for helping me with this, I’ll make time.”

His tone was so nonchalant, so matter-of-fact. Not the bombshell she felt like it was. She drank some orange soda to cover the big smile she could feel about to form on her face. She’d feel really dumb if he saw it.

“I’m pretty sure it’s nothing.”

“Then it is.”

They fell into a comfortable silence as Creed worked and she ate.

“Agent Hayes has been treating you well, I hope? I can cause a lot of trouble for him, he’s already standing on shaky ground, been for awhile now.”

That was tempting, very tempting. Cameron sighed. “He’s annoying but not that bad. That offer is still on the table if I change my mind?”

“Of course, Cameron. I’m at your service.”

She was still getting used to the new room. It was bigger than her old one, which was nice, and she didn’t have to hear agents running back and forth, at all hours of the day. The only people on this floor were superheroes like herself, most lived offsite but they still had rooms. She hadn’t actually seen any of her new teammates since she moved all her stuff into the room last night. Cameron had thought she would at least see Ionic, since she lived in the building too.

Maybe Ionic didn’t go to school? It’d explain why Cameron didn’t see her up this morning. Maybe she already graduated.

Something she had to ask about if she found a good opportunity. As far as spies went, Ionic was pretty suspicious given her connections to those crooks at the Wrench. A good place to start all this spy hunting shit.

She was in the middle of writing an essay when her phone rang, the incredibly catchy song she had as her ringtone too loud to ignore. She found where she had tossed it and slid her thumb across the screen to accept the call. “Hello?”

“Hey, heard from Sarah they’ve loosened the leash a little. Need to talk to you. Think you can sneak out and meet?” Ian, sounding oddly desperate.

Fuck English class.

“I can sneak out of anywhere.”

“Meet me at my apartment, see you in a few.” He hung up.

Ian had the dubious honor of being the one who convinced her to run away when she had been stuck in a facility for troubled super-teens, basically a group home for young superhumans. Not that she was hard to convince, she hated it there. He also ran a motorcycle gang, the Speed Fiends, they mostly drove around town at insane speeds, sometimes committing crimes. They were in it for the thrills, and with Ian’s power backing them up, it was nothing but.

Cameron grabbed a jacket, before moving to her window, and teleporting herself to the sidewalk across the street. Ian lived in a dingy apartment in the bad side of town, the kind of place where people didn’t call the cops or ask questions. She was pretty familiar with the area, she grew up in the neighborhood and came back after she had run away.

He opened the door after the second knock. Ian embodied the classic bad boy, messy black hair, a leather jacket, and it was obvious he worked out. He smirked. “That was fast, bet you rushed here, so excited to see me.” She rolled her eyes and pushed past him to get inside his apartment. Looked the same as always, his clothes were thrown everywhere, dirty dishes and empty takeout boxes took up space on tables and chairs. It’d probably be an absolute mess if Sarah didn’t come by occasionally to clean the place up.

Ian laid down on the couch, leaving Cameron to sit on the other couch. His small TV played some action movie on low volume.

“How much freedom are they giving you?” Ian asked, failing to sound disinterested.

“They took off my tracker yesterday, I’m going to take that to mean I can go wherever I want. Pretty sure they’re not following me around either.”

“Took you three months to earn their trust, huh? Are you sure about them taking off your tracker? I don’t want your new pals to know where I live.”

Cameron shrugged. “I talked to Creed last night, he checked to make sure.” She gave him a long, hard look but he kept his gaze fixed on the television screen. “What the hell is going on, anyway?”

“Honestly, I fucked up and now some scary fuckers are after me. I’ve been trying to get them to back off but they’re persistent.” He sighed. “There’s not a lot the guys can do to help. They’re just ordinary guys, not like you and me. Besides, you’ve got experience with this kind of shit.”

“Wait, you’re not seriously talking about that one time I got kidnapped and almost killed after I pissed off the wrong people? That definitely does not make me an expert in dealing with scary fuckers. I had to get bailed out by Creed.” It was how they met, actually. Their first time meeting and Creed saved her life.

Ian turned to meet her eyes. “You’re all I got, Cameron. I don’t have a lot of friends who can help.”

Who could say no to a face like that?

“So, these scary fuckers, they got names?” Cameron asked, casually.

“I feel like I should get you to agree to help me before I tell you. Don’t want to scare you away.”

Cameron scoffed. “I don’t scare easily.”

He broke their eye contact and stared at his feet. “It’s Gladwell.”

She stared at him for a moment, waiting for Ian to admit this was one of his lame ass jokes. He didn’t. “…Yeah, you know what? Forget what I just said.”

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