Day 4 Nanowrimo – Freedom Squad (a little late)

Chapter 4

Daniel Hunter was awake when Cori’s call reached him. “Hello, Cori,” he said.

“Are you on an encrypted line?” she asked.

“Do superheroes have any unencrypted lines?” he replied with a chuckle.

“True. Okay, what do you know about Defiance?” she asked. Cori felt a twisting worry in her stomach. She paced around her room, walking back and forth at the end of her bed. As much as she tried to reassure herself that Daniel was a technical genius and a former superhero, all she could think was that he was over forty and a normal human. “You should probably be wearing one of your Poltergeist suits.”

“I’m fine, Cori, and I’m not worried. You should do some of your yoga. It’ll help relax you.”

“I’m ignoring the yoga suggestion for now. Seriously, Homeland Security warned me that Defiance might go after you.”

“If he does, I’ll let you know. Listen, Cori, I knew Bill, I mean Defiance. He was a good hero, a little hot-headed, but he was a good hero.”

Cori paused. Her father had always said that Daniel Hunter was an excellent judge of character. There was also something strange in Daniel’s tone, almost melancholy.

“Daniel, what happened to Defiance?”

It was Daniel’s turn to pause. Cori wished that she had the video-conferencing feature activated. She wanted to see Daniel’s expression.

“He made a terrible mistake. He attacked a group of cosplayers, and he couldn’t accept what had happened. I suspect Psionicist tried to use some type of mind control on him, and Bill didn’t take it well. In the end, he surrendered. He just knelt over Psionicist’s body mumbling the same thing over and over.”

“What was he saying?”

Daniel sighed. “He kept saying, ‘He was the Ace of Spades,” like it was a mantra. I think he was trying to convince himself. I had to do it.”

“Daniel, who is the Ace of Spades?”

Daniel cleared his throat and forced a sad chuckle. “Cori, there is no Ace of Spades. There’s no such thing. He’s a myth, a fairy tale, a story that criminals tell to scare each other. When things go wrong, crime lords blame the Ace of Spades. He’s solo operatives, like the hero Argent, or other criminal organizations who disrupt plans and cause issues that criminal organizations don’t anticipate. He’s a bogeyman that master criminals blame for their own failings.”

“Wait,” said Cori, “I thought he was a criminal, not a hero. Why would he be something that criminals would be concerned with? And what is the myth that criminals like to tell each other? Who do they believe he is?”

Cori kept thinking about Agent King. Stacy believed in the Ace of Spades. She had wanted Rigel to know that she believed in the Ace of Spades.

Cori reminded herself that she needed to get used to thinking of herself as Rigel and not mentally refer to herself in the third person.

“Slow down, Cori. First, if he existed, which he doesn’t, he is definitely supposed to be a criminal. Criminals fear competition more than they fear heroes. Most of us obey laws – villains don’t. As far as the myth, it can be convoluted, but generally, he’s supposed to be a genius, usually a hacker and/or engineer who either was arrested as a youth or forcibly recruited by a major criminal organization, something like Dr. Inferno’s cults. As the story goes, he learned everything he could from the criminals he associated with until he was ready to break out on his own. He then used his abilities to steal, scavenge, salvage and take over operations built by other criminals. He’s reputedly untraceable, a phantom, a nearly virtual entity with resources now on the scale of a major corporation or small country. Think of him as a ‘shadow government’ or other conspiracy theory organization in the form of a single individual.”

“Someone like that would be incredibly dangerous,” she said.

“That’s true, except for one thing,” said Daniel.

“What?” asked Cori.

“He doesn’t exist,” stated Daniel.

“Right. I know. I’m just trying to understand what Defiance might be thinking and what he might do,” she said. She didn’t like lying to Daniel, but if the Ace of Spades did exist, he might be able to monitor her communicator or Daniel’s line, even if it had been encrypted by Poltergeist.

She glanced around her room, noting the various security cameras and thinking about the number of security scanners that ran throughout Freedom Squad Headquarters. What if someone could use them to watch her?

“Daniel, could we get together for lunch sometime? I miss you. We could even meet somewhere as Poltergeist and Rigel.”

“Sure,” he said, “but no costumes. I’m retired. Send something to my scheduler.”

“Will do. Thanks, Daniel.”

“Cori, one last thing,” he said, “be careful.”

“No worries,” she said with a smile that she didn’t feel. “Bye, Daniel.’

“Bye, Cori.”

She sat down on her bed, debating about whether to mentally command her costume to shift into something more relaxing. Her head still hurt.

“Off,” she said aloud, letting the costume flow off of her. She needed to sleep.

She climbed into bed, lay down on her pillow and closed her eyes. As she drifted off, she imagined that somewhere the Ace of Spades might be real and be watching.  As she cautioned herself not to be paranoid, she slipped into a restless sleep.

Posted on November 8, 2013, in Freedom Squad, HeroNet Files, NaNoWriMo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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