7 Random Days in the Life of a Hero
Subject: Linda Scoven, Friday
The tall woman rose somewhat ungracefully from her bed in a somewhat cramped motel room she had called home for the night and glared at the far too flimsy curtains letting in a blinding amount of sunlight. After a few seconds to determine that her glare was not, in fact, powerful enough to dim the sun so that she could return to sleep, Linda yawned widely and stretched instead. A few twinges in the full body stretch served as quiet, yet insistent, reminders that she needed to visit a better quality healer at some point in the future to deal with some of the deeper injuries and scar tissue that had built up over the last 27 months. Shower better have hot water.
Linda flipped to room’s TV on to a news channel as she entered the dingy bathroom, a habit that she had picked up from the two year stint where she had pretended to be an entirely new Hero; the Lady Mayhem interning with the current Mayhem after bidding farewell to her previous identity. Carl Scoven, aka Mayhem, tended to operate as a roaming Hero, never staying in one area for too long. After the initial rush of the impulsive decision had worn off, Linda had been somewhat worried about what she’d gotten herself into. Then as she adjusted more to living out of suitcases and constantly being on the move, she’d found she enjoyed this type of Hero work FAR more than the kind that involved having to show up for press events and restaurant openings.
The shower did, thankfully, have an ample supply of hot water. Barely enough pressure to put out more than a trickle, but as hot as she wanted at least. A half step back into the main room was aborted as the light reminded her of the transparent curtains, and the tall woman opted to get at least partially dressed in the privacy of the tiny bathroom instead. Curtains are too thin, bathroom is tiny, towels are rough, and no water pressure in the shower. 1 star, would not stay here again. Linda smiled to herself at the travel review she wouldn’t be able to write. At least not without making a bunch of fake identity accounts on the websites, and for some reason the DVA frowns on Heroes having more than just the two identities.
Moderately dressed and with the dark brunette wig firmly in place concealing her naturally pink hair, Linda exited the bathroom and found herself staring at the tiny room service menu on the end table. Am I really lazy enough to think about ordering breakfast in a place like this? A few glances around the room provided the needed reminders. Close, but no, not quite that lazy.
The diner she had found wasn’t much better looking than the motel she’d stayed at, but the alternatives had been significantly less appealing. Fortunately, the gamble with this diner seemed to have paid off; the appearance was bad, but the food was excellent. Linda smiled at the somewhat wide-eyed look the teenage boy serving her had as he came to collect the empty plates from her table and refill her coffee. She was quite a bit larger than the average woman, but the physical requirements of Hero work kept her in excellent shape. The tall brunette had become somewhat accustomed to the looks of surprise she frequently drew at restaurants after devouring a meal that looked portioned more for a man a hundred pounds heavier than she was.
Sipping at her latest cup of coffee, Linda turned her eyes to the small TV mounted in the corner and tried to pay attention to the local news show that was playing. I’m in Mississippi now? Damn, I thought I was still in Arkansas. I made better time than I thought.
The local news was an incredibly boring affair, providing her with nothing of real use about the area except the name of the town she was currently on the outskirts of; Southhaven. Doesn’t look like there’s likely to be any need for a Hero in a sleepy little town like thi-… Linda’s found her train of thought cut off by the muffled sound of an explosion from somewhere out beyond the parking lot, followed almost immediately by the sound and presence of shattering glass as something tore through the diner windows a few feet away from her and continued through the building without seeming much slowed by the presence of the large wooden counter, or any of the three walls it passed through.
God dammit Linda, why the hell would you start thinking a thing like that? The tall woman dove quickly for cover after sparing one incredulous glance at the roughly three-foot hole that marked the passage of SOMETHING through the diner at a very high velocity. The room was quickly filling with dust and the screams of panicked diners, which fortunately combined to create enough of a distraction that the Hero had no difficulty making her way out the side door. Wait, did I just dine and dash? Dammit again. Linda felt a smirk creeping onto her face at that thought though. Now I just have to get to the bike and get a little ways out so I can come back as someone SLIGHTLY less civilian.
Fortune again seemed to be favoring the tall woman as she made her way carefully to her motorcycle and noted that she was FAR from the only person seeking their vehicle in order to flee. From somewhere a few blocks away and out of her line of sight, Linda heard several gunshots, followed by several MORE explosions from the same direction. What the hell is going on over there? The Hero pulled an earpiece from the concealed compartment just below the handlebars on her bike and pushed it into her ear as she peeled out of the parking lot.
“Dispatch, this is Lady Mayhem. There’s some kind of altercation on the outskirts of Southhaven, MI, involving either Supers or someone with some serious military hardware. I need any intel you can give me, I’m getting clear to change out of my civvies now.”
“Lady Mayhem, there are no reports of Variant activity of any kind coming from Southhaven. There are some 911 reports of shots fired in your vicinity, but nothing more than that as yet. I’ll keep you updated.” The calm response from the faintly accented voice both reassured and worried Linda.
If there’s no real reports, than whatever is going on JUST started, so there hasn’t been much time for a casualty count to build up. On the other hand, I’m going in blind. The motorcycle accelerated further and turned down a small side road, away from the rest of the fleeing traffic.
The motorcycle rushing through the outskirts of Southhaven looked very little like the one that had fled the diner a few minutes ago. A few carefully designed sliding panels and a change of clothes for the rider made all the difference. Linda had received three updates from Dispatch while changing and returning towards the scene of whatever was going on. The first was some additional 911 calls about the ‘cannon fire’ or whatever it was that was ripping holes through buildings. The second was that local law enforcement was apparently closer than she was, and already en route. The third update, coming as the altered bike and its rider sped past the wrecked diner, was more a lack of update; no information had gone out on the police band since the time when they SHOULD have arrived on the scene.
The Hero steeled herself for what she expected to find as she raced towards the sounds of gunshots intermingled with small explosions. When her bike pulled around the corner of a large furniture store and revealed the scene before her, she found herself stunned nearly to the point of falling off her bike as it skidded to a stop, entirely unsure of what to make of the scene before her.
In roughly the middle of the parking lot was a young man on his knees, hands raised, and tears streaming down his face as he sobbed uncontrollably. Make that ‘boy,’ he’s barely a teenager. Surrounding the crying boy at varying distances were several armed men, two of which were wearing Sheriff’s Deputy uniforms. Some of the men were screaming insults at the boy, the two deputies were yelling for him to surrender. As Linda attempted to make sense of the scene before her, one of the deputies fired a shot at the kneeling, sobbing boy. The situation made a lot more sense to the Hero as she saw the boy knocked off his knees by the shot, followed immediately by an explosion of force as something tore through the pavement AWAY from the kid and into the ground.
“Dispatch, this is Lady Mayhem. There’s an armed mob here that seems to have the Super more or less in custody, some kind of kinetic ricochet pow-…” The report was cutoff abruptly when one of the other men stepped forward to fire a rifle into the downed boy, drawing screams of pain and another explosion as the apparently redirected projectile blasted up and into the sky. Details that hadn’t made sense finally clicked for the Hero as the armed crowd continued screaming their hate at the sobbing child. “Cancel last report. Hate crime in progress, the victim is a Powered boy with an uncontrollable ricochet ability. Eleven armed men, including two deputies, are attempting to kill him at my location. Please get some REAL police out here.”
“Report updated and filed. DVA containment and medical team is on its way to deal with the Powered, state police contacted and first responders should arrive in approximately 10 minutes.” Linda nodded her head in acknowledgment of the update from Dispatch, having long ago given up on how the voice in all Heroes’ heads could interpret a nod through an earpiece, and dismounted her bike to begin striding angrily towards the mob.
“Gentlemen!” The harsh shout immediately drew the attention of the group, with several guns momentarily swinging in her direction before realization set in and the barrels were quickly pointed back at the downed boy. “You are all going to drop your weapons RIGHT NOW and sit here quietly until the state police arrive to take you into custody.” Linda felt herself nearly choke up when she saw the pathetically hopeful look directed her way from the Powered boy in response to her words
“Ma’am, we have this situation under control.” One of the deputies holstered his weapon and turned towards the Hero as he spoke, an attempt at a disarming smile plastered across his face. “I know it’s stepping on you folks’ toes a little when us locals deal with problems like this, but these good volunteers hav-…”
“Deputy,” the interruption from the Hero came out nearly as a snarl, “you and your partner are INCLUDED in the group that I am disarming. Drop your guns and wait patiently for the REAL police to arrive and arrest you. Unless you seriously think I’m going to walk away from your little attempt here to execute that kid?” Linda offered her own smile in response to the sudden look of shock that spread across the deputy’s face, though there was nothing friendly or ‘disarming’ in her expression.
“You have no jurisdiction or authority here!” The second deputy stepped up, not holstering his gun as he faced the tall woman with an equally angry glare. “This little freak is a THREAT to our town, and we are dealing with that threat WITHOUT ‘Heroes’ like you.”
“So you are NOT planning to disarm and wait for the proper authorities to take you into custody?” The tone of the question seemed to catch both deputies slightly off guard, sounding almost as if the Hero was reciting something from a book.
“Fuck off!” The response from the more belligerent of the two deputies was barely past his lips when the leather armored Hero was suddenly directly in front of him.
The tall brunette didn’t bother with any more words as the startled man tried to step back and bring his gun to bear. Instead she simply caught his arm and gave the tiniest of twists. Motion for this part goes THIS way, that part goes THAT way, this in the middle doesn’t move at all… The deputy screamed as his arm was effortlessly wrenched behind him. The multiple accompanying loud, wet, *CRACK* sounds indicating that it had been broken in multiple places. Before any of the other ten men could respond, the Hero followed up the arm twist with a headbutt, dropping the screaming man to the pavement, unconscious.
“Is anyone else NOT planning to disarm and wait to be arrested?” The tone of the question and the expression, barely visible around the mask worn by the Hero, were taken in by the rest of the mob.
There was barely a second of hesitation before the sound of firearms dropping to the pavement echoed through the parking lot and ten men raised their hands meekly in response.
“Lady Mayhem, this is Dispatch. Your supervising agent, Glenn Narow, is requesting to be patched through.” There was the barest trace of humor in the accented voice in the Hero’s ear. “He seems upset.”
“Dispatch, can you confirm with Agent Narow that he is, in fact, the same Glenn Narow that I already contacted to inform that any review of my recent ‘interaction’ with the Southhaven Sheriff’s Department would have to wait until AFTER I respond to the declared emergency in southern Memphis?” The brunette’s response came a little haltingly as her focus was primarily on navigating traffic at over 150mph as she sped towards her destination.
“Agent Narow has been informed, but he seems to think that it’s VERY important to speak with you immediately.”
Linda sighed and jerked her bike in an impossible maneuver to slide past a car and onto the exit ramp she’d been looking for. “Patch him through then, Dispatch. Please inform Agent Narow that he has about 90 seconds of my time before I become too busy to chat.”
“This is just a CHAT to you?” The irate voice coming from the earpiece was no longer familiar or female, and drew a second sigh from the rapidly speeding Hero as she worked her way through surface streets towards her goal.
“Yes, Agent Narow. THIS is just a chat. Until I have time to submit a full after-action report and it can be evaluated properly, anything we do discuss can’t be more official than that. Rules and regulations, you know.” A humorless smile formed on the young woman’s lips as she heard the sound of angrily grinding teeth from the other end of the connection. “You have about 70 seconds left, Glenn. Chat quickly.”
“Alright, you assaulted a uniformed law enforcement officer and detained a large group of NON-variants for arrest, including said law enforcement officer and his partner. While doing so you completely ignored the threat that ALL eleven men claim was being posed by a very dangerous Powered that was at the scene. Anything to add?” The angry tone had acquired a depth of sarcasm by the end of the supervising agent’s statement, the rhetorical question at the end was practically dropping with it.
“Is the ‘dangerous Powered’ in custody?” The completely calm response seemed to catch the DVA agent off guard.
“Ummm… well, yes, bu-…”
“And he’s a registered Powered, correct? DVA case file indicates what his ability is?”
“Also yes.” The irritation from the responses was slowly dwindling to be replaced by a note of curiosity. “Where are you going with this?”
“And of those eleven ‘model citizens’ that were simply ASSISTING the Southhaven Sheriff’s deputies, how many of them have criminal records involving Supers or Powereds?”
“I… don’t have that information.”
“You should look into it, Glenn. You should also check and see if there are any complaints, official or otherwise, into those two ‘law enforcement officers’ while you’re at it. It was fun chatting, but I have work to do now.”
“Now wait! What could possibly be more important to discuss right now then an incident that will have your certification pulled and possibly CRIMINAL charges filed against you?” Linda smirked at the change in tone from her supervising agent.
From ready to crucify me for going rogue to realizing he should be on my side in under two minutes. A new personal best. “There’s nothing more important to discuss right now, Glenn.” The Hero dismounted from her bike as she spoke and began running forward to the line of first responders working their way into the wreckage of what had once been an enormous building. “But some asshole truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tower crane in south Memphis, brought the whole thing down on Southhaven mall and trapped a few thousand people inside. Now if you’ll excuse me, Glenn, chatting time is over.”
Linda was glad to hear no further words from the DVA agent as Dispatch disconnected him to come back on the line. “I have you logged as on site, Lady Mayhem. The rescue workers have the east side of the mall listed as the highest priority right now. Fix It is already on scene providing emergency stabilization to victims pulled from the rubble, another three Heroes should be arriving in the next five minutes.”
“Thanks Dispatch. Please inform the rescue workers that I’m going straight into the east wing and they should be ready to pull out injured as I find them.”
David Smythe woke up to a feeling of agony burning through the right side of his body, and an extreme sense of disorientation. It was dark, the air smelled like smoke and dust, and it was difficult to breathe. An attempt to lift his head was stopped after a few inches when the back of his head contacted something solid and cold. Attempts to move the rest of his body brought a series of new, painful explosions to his senses, and he learned that his right arm and leg were completely pinned by something. As his eyes adjusted and his head cleared a little, he realized that he was pinned in a pile of debris, and there was someone shifting underneath him.
There was a crash, the ceiling was coming down. LACEY! Memories came flooding back to the man, who managed to crane around far enough to determine that the small figure pinned under his own body was, in fact, his eight year old daughter.
“Lacey… can you hear me sweetie? Can you move?” The words were hard to force out, his throat felt raw and his mouth was completely dry, but the figure under him responded immediately.
“Daddy? I’m scared. It’s hard to breathe.”
“I know sweetie, it’ll be okay. People are coming to help us, we’ll be alright.” The words were barely a whisper, but David tried to force as much cheer into them as he could muster. We survived whatever the initial collapse was, they’ll get people here quick. We’ll be alright.
The train of thought was nearly derailed as the rubble around him shifted, a seemingly unending stream of dust and small bits of debris was now raining down on the trapped man and his daughter, drawing a scream of fright from the latter.
“Is someone still down there? Make some noise so I can find you!” David nearly fainted with relief at the confident female voice coming from somewhere close by.
“We’re right… *cough* We’re here!” David cursed silently as he attempted to yell back to their would-be rescuer, but his voice could barely get above a whisper. Fortunately his daughter seemed to be not having the same problem.
“WE’RE OVER HERE! PLEASE COME HELP! MY DADDY IS TRAPPED!” The trapped man winced at the incredible volume Lacey managed to bellow out to the mystery voice with, but he smiled encouragingly at her.
Just as David was about to ask his daughter to yell again, a piece of debris in front of him shifted several feet to the side and simply froze in place. Behind it was revealed a tall woman in brown and red leather, caked in dust, wearing a mask. “That’s a nice set of lungs you have on you, kid. Good job.”
David smiled as he felt his daughter begin nearly hyperventilating at the excitement of being rescued by a REAL Hero, then his expression changed to one of shock as the woman place a hand on top of the concrete slab pinning him down. With no leverage or grip that he could see, he watched the woman lift a slab that had to weigh over a ton with as little effort as he would have lifted a pillow. “Can you crawl out, kid?”
Lacey immediately wriggled her way free and scooted over next to the Hero, then turned back to motion for her father to follow her. “Can you move, sir?” The question directed towards David was met with a tentative attempt that nearly resulted in him blacking out again.
“I… I’ll be fine. Just need to rest a minute. You can get my daughter out and I’ll be right behind you.” David locked eyes with the masked woman for a moment and prayed that she would understand what he was trying to do. Please, please save my daughter.
The Hero met his gaze with an inscrutable look, then shook her head minutely. “Sorry sir, but I’m afraid there’s no time to rest. I apologize in advance for the discomfort.” Before the injured man could even begin to wonder what she was going, a gloved hand had grasped his shirt and hauled him up over the woman’s shoulder like he was weightless.
No words that David had learned came close to describing the agony that shot through his body as he was moved. But somehow he fought through the pain and kept from blacking out again, even managing to offer what he hoped was an encouraging smile to his daughter.
“Alright kid, I got your dad, but I might need a hand free to move some stuff.” The Hero unclipped one of the lights she was wearing and passed it to the wide-eyed girl. “I might need you to help us see our way out, can you do that for me?”
There is no possible way I can ever thank this woman enough. David felt tears in his eyes NOT motivated by the agony he was experiencing as the Hero expertly shifted his daughter’s attention away from the terrifying situation and made her a part of the solution. His eight year old had just been given a mission by a Hero, and the girl was accepting her newly appointed duty with all of her attention.
The trip back out through the rubble was a blur to David as he was carried effortlessly on the woman’s back and could have taken anywhere from seconds to hours as far as he could tell. All he focused on was the form of his daughter, carefully shining a light wherever the Hero seemed to indicate, and trying to stay awake. Finally a piece of rubble was shifted and he saw daylight again. So did his daughter.
“We made it!” The excited shriek from the little girl was accompanied by a mad scramble towards the newly revealed exit, too quickly for the Hero to grab her without dropping her other rescuee.
“Wait kid!” David heard the woman cry out to his daughter, and he saw the rebar laced chunk of concrete shift and begin to fall towards the excitedly scampering girl. Then David saw the world blur past for a moment at an impossible speed and felt himself hit the ground, right next to his suddenly startled daughter.
Both looked up to see the costumed woman had stepped directly in front of the falling chunk of wreckage, and David felt his wavering focus snap back fully when he saw the crimson stained piece of metal jutting through his savior’s stomach.
“You can’t run ahead like that, kid.” It was completely impossible that the Hero could still be speaking calmly, but her impalement seemed to have had no more effect than to leave her slightly out of breath. “You have to stay close to me, okay?”
“You’re hurt…” Lacey’s voice was thick with grief, but before the girl could burst into tears the Hero made a dismissive noise and gave a casual wave.
“This?” A quick pass of her hand and the chunk of rebar protruding from her stomach dropped to the ground with a clang. A straightening of the woman’s stance sent the massive chunk of rubble crushing into the debris behind her as if it weighed nothing at all. “It takes a lot more than something like THAT to hurt someone like me. Now let’s get the rest of the way out of here, we’re almost there.” And as if nothing had happened, she scooped David back up over her shoulder and took Lacey by the hand to lead them both out into the light.
David blinked a few times as she suddenly found himself on a stretcher, another costumed man with an icon on his chest that looked like a pair of wrenches imprinted over a red first-aid cross. “Sorry I can’t do more than the basics, we’re pulling a lot of people out.”
David blinked again in shock as he realized he could now feel more than simple agony coming from his right side, the limbs having been put back together enough to appear human again at least. Next to him his daughter sat silently awestruck at having met not one, but TWO Heroes in the same day. David managed to smile weakly at the healing Hero that was still leaning over him, and lifted his head slightly to look for the woman that had pulled him and his daughter out of the wreckage. He spotted her, and felt his jaw drop as she was making her way back into the wreckage again. Protruding slightly from her back were three pieces of bloodstained rebar, clearly visible and yet no one seemed to be even TRYING to stop her.
“Why… why is she going back in? She’s hurt.” It was still difficult to get the words out, and David gratefully accepted a small cup of water that was pressed to his lips by an EMT that had arrived to wheel the stretcher down to a waiting ambulance.
The healer smiled widely in response. “Yea, I tried telling her that too. But Heroes, we’re kinda stupid like that. Until someone shows up to relieve us, we tend not to stand down for anything short of dying.”
As he and his daughter were loaded into an ambulance, David Smythe found himself wondering how many other people would find themselves with a debt of gratitude they would never be able to repay.
“That’s all of them?” Linda leaned gingerly against a concrete pillar, leaving a crimson stain on it as she did so, and waited for the confirmation to come in her ear.
“Two telepaths are on scene, Lady Mayhem. They’ve confirmed that there are no more survivors for you to dig out. Now report IMMEDIATELY to Fix It and get yourself treated before we have to add you to the casualty list.” The Hero smiled slightly at the authoritative tone Dispatch used in ordering her to seek medical attention.
Pretty similar to the tone she used half an hour ago really. And an hour before that. Am I really that stubborn?
“Yes, yes you are.” The voice from behind her gave the tall woman a brief moment of startlement, then she turned to see a rather petite Hero wearing a purple and gold costume. “And no, it doesn’t really count as rude when you were thinking it THAT loudly. Now let’s go see a man about you NOT bleeding to death.”
“I’m sorry, we haven’t been introduced?” Linda decided she liked this one. Much smaller, but the woman definitely felt like she was a few years older than the tall brunette.
“I’m Trance, you’re Lady Mayhem, and Dispatch sent me to take you to Fix It whether you want to go or not. Can we save the remaining pleasantries for AFTER you stop bleeding everywhere?” The tall woman chuckled softly at the exasperated tone directed her way by the shorter Hero.
Yep, definitely like this one. Linda accompanied the thought by winking at the purple clad Hero, then pushing herself off the wall to stagger off in the direction indicated by her new telepathic friend. “So Trance? I didn’t know you were still active. Weren’t you mostly an east coast Hero?”
“Semi-retired. I’m the Focus Instructor at Overton in my spare time.” The shorter woman fell into step with the taller, making it clear that she fully intended to escort Linda all the way to the healer. “I’m more than a little surprised you heard of me. I was never exactly a big news Hero.”
“Well you know, studying up on Heroes is kind of a hobby of mine. And you’ve actually been part of a couple of case studies on ho-…”
“Please don’t think you’ll be even in the first hundred people to make fun of the costume. I’ve been a semi-retired Instructor for as long as you’ve been a Hero, and I’ve been a Hero almost as long as you’ve been ALIVE. But please, regal me with your version of how you would have come up with a costume more immune to the changes of fashion over time than I did.”
“You know normally this would be where I would pretend innocently that I was going to make fun of something else?” Linda was smiling widely now as the pair rounded a corner and their destination came into sight, then began hurrying towards them.
“I am aware of that.”
“And now I can’t do that because you already knew exactly what I was going to make fun of, before I did it.”
“Also correct.” Trance was also wearing a smile now as the healer reached the pair of women.
“Just one question I have to ask then; gold embroidered Greek letters?”
Fix It paused for a moment, then opted to ignore the ongoing conversation as the safest course of action and settled in to start repairing what turned out to be a RIDICULOUS amount of internal injuries that tall brunette had suffered over the course of the three and a half hours of rescue work.
“It was the early 80’s. It SEEMED like a good idea at the time.” The completely deadpan tone drew laughter from both women, and a grin from the healer.
Always a good sign when your patient can still laugh after all.
The two women that walked through the door of the dive bar in Memphis could not have appeared much more different from each other had they tried. The only commonalities immediately visible were gender and that both had dark hair, though the shorter woman’s hair was nearly pure black while the taller’s was simply a dark brown. The tall woman wore sneakers, tattered jeans and a faded t-shirt, the shorter wore slacks, loafers, and a deep red blouse. Both were carrying on a quiet conversation and, in spite of their obviously differing appearances, seemed like years-long friends.
Every face in the bar turned a momentarily suspicious look at the newcomers as they made their way to a table, but a casual motion by both women immediately set the room back at ease. Both women had plucked matching tiny earpieces from within their ears, placed them momentarily on the table, then slipped them away to be pocketed.
“What’ll we be having today?” The large man that had offered a glare that could have sent a serial killer fleeing for his life when the two entered now approached the table with a cheerful and polite manner.
“Whiskey, top shelf. Bring the bottle.” The taller woman’s order was accepted without even a hint of hesitation and the man turned to look at her companion.
“Corrida Anejo. Might as well leave the bottle for that as well. And whatever’s good for a meal.” The second order also drew no sign of surprise from the man, though the taller woman raised a curious eyebrow in response.
“Tequila? I would not have pegged you for that.”
“Whereas I think EVERYONE would peg you as a whiskey girl.” Linda grinned at the shorter woman’s immediate comeback.
“Linda Scoven.” The tall brunette reached her hand across the table as she realized she hadn’t yet introduced herself to her new friend.
“I know.” The response from the telepath as she shook the proffered hand drew a rude gesture from the taller woman, followed by laughter from the shorter. “Kathryn Jilles.”
The two bottles arrived at the table as the women released their handshake, along with a pair of glasses that looked FAR too clean to have originated in a bar like this one. “Well then,” Linda spoke as she poured a generous portion of her whiskey and watched Kathryn do the same with her drink of choice. “To new friends!”
Glasses clinked, alcohol was consumed, and both women sighed contentedly for a moment. It was Kathryn that broke the moment. “It’s probably not the best idea to plan on emptying that bottle when you have a report and an official review waiting for you.”
Linda glared at the telepath for a moment, but when the older woman only smiled in response she gave up the glare to sigh instead. “This is REALLY not fair you know.”
“Of course it’s not fair. It also shouldn’t be THIS easy for me. You were Subtlety trained, yes?” Linda offered a mildly surprised look in response to that question. “You SHOULD be better at not letting me get anything useful from a casual scan like this, but you’re completely twisted up over something that happened before the mall. You… holy shit.” Kathryn paused and downed the rest of her drink before continuing. “You did that to a cop?”
“Sheriff’s deputy, and he REALLY deserved it.”
“Yeah, I’m getting some bits and pieces. Tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. Tell me the complete and VERY interesting story that I’m getting glimpses of and I will make sure that you have until tomorrow morning to sleep it off and get a PROPER report written for your inevitable appearance before a DVA review board. There’s about a hundred tricks I could teach you about these things after all.”
“Why?” The genuinely confused curiosity behind the question drew a bout of laughter from the smaller woman.
“I’m a powerful telepath that worked primarily on the east coast for over seventeen years. You know, the part of the country with the highest number of politicians per capita?” Kathryn nodded as she caught the realization dawning in the other woman’s mind. “I’ve probably been up before more DVA review boards than most Heroes could ever IMAGINE existing. Considering you seem to be following in your father’s footsteps, I figure I can afford to spend an evening listening to entertaining stories and sharing some of the tips about the minutiae of these things that I picked up over the years. Something tells me that you’ll need them.” The petite woman paused for a moment before she continued. “And to more directly answer your question of ‘Why?’ I would have to say because I think the world needs Heroes like you out on the street more than it needs them standing in front of a bunch of bureaucrats defending every action that might cause a blip in the PR.”
Linda considered the offer for a moment before replying. “This isn’t exactly the longest or most interesting story you know.”
“I’m sure you have some others you can tell me to pass the time. Hang out through enough of the bottle, and you might even get some less relevant and more interesting facts out of ME.”
The tall woman grinned at that thought as she refilled her glass. “Alright then, my day today started when I woke up in a shitty motel room in Mississippi…”