“Creed. This is a little unexpected.”
“I apologize,” Cameron said, voice altered by one of Creed’s modifiers to sound deeper, distinctively masculine, almost menacing. “I would have attempted to give you a warning beforehand but I didn’t want to tip off my enemies. You understand, I’m sure.”
“Of course I do but it doesn’t stop this,” he stopped to wave his hand at her sitting in his chair, in his office. “From being unexpected and rude.”
Cameron slid off the chair, hoping it looked smooth and confident. All the padding and what was practically stilts she wore to make herself look like Creed, a grown man, and not like the teenage girl she was made it hard to move properly. She had stared at herself in the mirror for at least ten minutes to ensure the padding wasn’t noticeable under the lightweight body armor.
Park remained where he stood at the entrance, his gaze cold. “What do you want, Creed?”
Kevin Park was the CEO of UltimateTech Industries. It gave him power, different from the kind she had.
“I want what I’ve always wanted, Mr. Park.”
“Which is harder to achieve with your organization taken over. Is that why you’re here? You want my help in getting it back?”
Cameron shook her head. This was the part she was worried about. “I may no longer lead them but that organization is mine, it always has been. It’s apparent from the name. I won’t have any issue in reclaiming it. No, I want your assistance in a different matter. The Automatons.”
He laughed, a short sound. “You want me to help you destroy them? Have you gone insane? There’s a greater chance of me helping to stop you.”
“You’re a smart man, Mr. Park, of that I have no doubt. You pick the winning side, the side that will benefit you the most. That would be my side. The Automatons have worked for you in the past, they’re useful to you. Imagine how much more useful they’ll be when they’re fully under your control? If enough damage is dealt, they’ll have no choice but to accept your helping hand and that hand would come with costs.”
Confidence was key. With people like Creed, they assumed confidence meant competence.
Park glanced away for a second, considering it. “Not if they discover I helped you.”
Cameron stood straight as a rod. Creed didn’t fidget. “I would be discrete.”
“What kind of help are we talking here?” Park asked as he walked to his desk, closing the distance between them until Park was within arm’s reach.
“All the information you have on them, location of their bases or storage facilities, things like that. Information on their leader, Missile, would be particularly useful to me.”
Park smiled. “For that, I’m going to need something from you, Creed. Just in case what you’re doing doesn’t work out. You understand, I’m sure.”
She was glad the mask hid her scowl. The real Creed had a lot to offer but Cameron didn’t. “Of course, I do. Name your price Mr. Park and I’ll see what I can do.”
“I’ll give you everything if you do two favors for me, first. You know of my daughter. She’s become rebellious and while that’s not unexpected for a teenager, it’s a pain in my side. It’s not good publicity if she’s out partying all night with random boys she met on the street,” Park said. The last sentence was soaked with disdain.
Creed would be able to handle it. His power made him exceptionally good at dealing with people, changing them, manipulating them. He could have anyone eating out of his hand given time. Turning Park’s kid from a party girl to the president of the chess club wouldn’t make Creed break a sweat.
“Your other favor?” Cameron asked.
“I want you to track down Phantom and convince him to work for me again. He’s been a useful employee I’m finding hard to replace.”
If only he needed help stealing something, that she could do pretty well.
Fuck, this was probably the only deal she’d get.
“I don’t suppose you’ll be so kind as to tell me where I can find these two, Phantom in particular.”
He shrugged. “Consider this a test, Creed. If you’re incapable of handling this on your own, there’s no way you’ll be able to do any real damage to the Automatons which also means we have no reason to be talking to each other at all.”
Damn. She restrained the urge to punch him in the face. As satisfying as it would be to beat the answers out of him it would be better if she didn’t make anymore enemies than she had to, especially when she wasn’t ruining her reputation but Creed’s. Park was probably one of those bastards that got stubborn when things turned violent. “If that’s all, I see no problem with this,” Cameron said, sticking out her hand for him to shake.
He shook it, his grip surprisingly weak. “Once you’re done, come to my office again. Otherwise, I don’t want to see you again.”
“That’s fair. I’ll be seeing you soon but Mr. Park, if you attempt to betray me you can expect retaliation.”
Park laughed and it was genuine. “I got the message loud and clear when you got into my office without anybody noticing, Creed.”
That hadn’t been her intention but whatever, she’d take what she could get. She nodded at him and opened up the window. Climbing out the window wasn’t nearly as cool and stylish an exit she had planned. Cameron was just glad she couldn’t actually see or hear Park laughing his ass off.
There wasn’t a balcony or any sort of landing under the window. A fall from this height was certain death, no question about it. It was exhilarating, falling faster and faster, wind whipping around her. She relished in it for a moment then teleported to the rooftop of a building still below her. She stood on the roof, all the momentum built up gone. It was disorientating to go from falling to standing perfectly still. It was like getting off a drop on a rollercoaster, before it deliberately slowed down.
Cameron teleported again and again until she arrived at Creed’s old safe house.
She took off the costume and the stupid, ridiculous padding, definitely not looking forward to having to wear that again when she did those favors for Park.
Which she could start tomorrow. As fun as tracking down Phantom and talking rich teenage girls out of enjoying cool social activities like parties and boys was she had a party to attend later tonight. She told Ian she would go so she would. The least she could do considering how cool he had been lately.
There weren’t a whole lot of people in this world she trusted to have her back no matter what. Only the worse kind of people would betray that sort of loyalty. As cruel and vicious she could be at times that was a line she wouldn’t cross.
Cameron had a few hours to kill before she had to go get ready. Might as well go look up Park’s daughter, see what she looked like.
Who knew, maybe she’d see this girl at the party she was going to later. From what Ian told her, it sounded like it was the party to go to this weekend, the one that blew all the others out of the water. Anyone who was anyone was going and not going was the equivalent of social suicide and blah blah blah. Cameron may have stopped reading and responding to his texts when he went on a tangent about the party and how big of a deal it was that she went.
It was easy, the girl – Vanessa Park – was on several social media websites and wasn’t the least bit concerned with privacy. All her profiles were public including the many pictures she took of herself, alone and with friends. Most had some filter on it to make herself look more attractive but she was a pretty girl regardless.
Living in the digital age was real useful when Cameron needed to be a creep.
Vanessa’s profile was a jackpot of information. She frequently posted about her life, for example, what she planned to do tonight. Obviously she was going out, it was a Saturday night after all. She didn’t say it outright but apparently one party just wasn’t satisfying for her. Vanessa was going to be hitting up a number of parties with her pals. If this party Ian wanted her to go to was even half as great as he made it out to be then Vanessa would stop by. It was an opportunity to get in good with her and being liked by her put Cameron in a better position to manipulate her.
Too bad Phantom wasn’t one of those idiots that uploaded pictures of themselves in costume, mask off, to their social media website of choice. That mistake had sent far more young criminals to jail than one would have expected with the news coverage each incident received.
People were stupid sometimes, powers or not. Well, unless they had a superpower that made them smarter. Those superpowers were rare though, apparently, or they got them at birth.
After scrolling through several of Vanessa’s profiles and copying and pasting some of the more useful posts onto a separate document, Cameron drove home and got dressed in the proper attire for an event like this.
A top that showed off the right amount of cleavage, a leather jacket because it was cold out, and skinny jeans. All the exercise she got gave her nice legs, might as well show them off a little.
Klein was fortunately not home. He would have definitely asked if he saw her walking out the door and he wouldn’t have a problem with her attending a party but habits were hard to break out of. When asked a question by someone from this side of her life, sometimes a lie came out of her mouth before she had a chance to think about it. It was instinctive, as natural as using her power. They were small lies, inconsequential, most of the time. She lied about her favorite color once and now she was stuck with a green costume.
Moments like those made her wish she could travel back in time instead of traveling through space.
Ian was going to meet up with her at the party, as per usual. He and some of his boys would be there along with a bunch of other teenagers she probably didn’t know at all or well.
The party was in full swing by the time Cameron got there. A few kids stood on the front lawn, red plastic cups in hand, chatting but the majority were inside. The sound of loud music with a fast beat could be heard way before Cameron opened the door.
She checked her phone before she walked in.
Ian was going to be late. No surprise there. On a whim, she decided to look at Vanessa’s profile again. There were a couple of new posts, one of which was a picture she took of herself posing in front of the mirror, lips puckered, long black hair done in curls. Vanessa was apparently feeling very helpful today because her latest posts all had location services on which gave Cameron a handy dandy map of where Vanessa was if she tapped the tiny icon in the corner of the post.
Vanessa wasn’t here. According to the map, Vanessa had been in the middle of the street seven minutes ago, dangerously close to where Ian and his gang hung out.
Random boys she met on the street.
Everyone had different tastes when it came to what they counted as attractive, but Ian usually counted for most girls and some guys. He was also the kind of guy who would flirt with a girl that looked like Vanessa if he saw her.
Oh god, no.