Nanowrimo – FS Vigilance Chapter 2

Let’s hope this keeps up… more from my Nanowrimo novel…

Chapter 2

Cori woke up the next morning and wished that she could have the day off. Her head hurt badly enough that it made her eyes ache. “I really overdid it yesterday with the fire. Maybe coffee and a hot shower will help.”

She rolled out of bed and telekinetically grabbed her yoga mat and unfurled it. “Morning practice first.”

After several sun salutations, the headache faded. By the time she got to the scorpion pose that she liked, it was gone completely. As she rolled up the mat, she contemplated her powers.

Using the telepathy always exhausted her, but she felt better after doing yoga. Maybe it was just a matter of readjusting her mind. Telepathy was reaching out, but perhaps concentrating on her muscles, her breathing and her body was like bringing her mind back home. It seemed like a reasonable concept.

Cori looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was a mess, she had rings around her eyes and she was glistening with perspiration. She didn’t look much like Rigel of Freedom Squad, although she had to admit that they shared the same abs. That was something at least.

After a hot shower, she changed into her costume. The psychoactive material obeyed her mental commands. She absolutely loved it. Her costume was her favorite toy. She especially enjoyed adjusting the star patterns on it to see if anyone would notice. Nightstar, Solaria and Starlight always did, Ion and Snowfall were both about 50-50, and Protector and Rockslide never seemed to be aware of it. She thought Velocity noticed, but he seemed too nervous to bring it up. He also kept calling her ma’am.

Her communicator beeped.

“G’day, this is Rigel.”

“Greetings, Rigel,” came the flat tones of Starlight, the team’s resident alien. “I have an urgent call for you from the Mayor. Would you like to speak to him?”

“Yes, Starlight. Put him through.”

After a brief pause, Rigel heard the Mayor.  “Rigel, are you awake yet?”

“Yes, sir, of course. In costume and ready to go.”

“Good, because I’ve got people asking what you were doing standing around yesterday and nearly collapsing during the apartment fire while your team did all the work.”

“Sir, I was telepathically coordinating their actions and psychically scanning for people trapped inside.”

“Well, that’s not the perception, so I need you at a press conference at city hall now.”

“Understood.”

The Mayor hung up.

Rigel rolled her eyes and sighed. She glanced over at her bed and wished once again that she could have the day off. She activated her communicator.

“Solaria and Protector, I need you both to come with me to city hall. Press conference time.”

“Great,” responded Solaria. “Saves me from Protector’s torturous workout routine. If we meet you on the roof, can we fly instead of taking the Freedom Van?”

“Sure, if Protector doesn’t mind.”

“I’m fine with that, Rigel.”

It felt strange to Cori referring to everyone by their codenames, but they had all agreed that over communicators it was best. Still, she liked using real names. It made her feel more connected to her team.

Flying didn’t take long, and Rigel enjoyed soaring over the city. People in the streets looked up and a few of them clapped.

“I never get tired of that,” said Solaria. “I love seeing people cheering for us. It makes all the tough stuff worthwhile.”

Cori smiled. Solaria was right. That was why they were here – to protect people, and as long as she remembered that, the little things would be easy, including press conferences.

Unfortunately, there weren’t nearly as many cheers when they landed at city hall. Instead, there were several of the Mayor’s PR staff ushering them inside, and even one woman who insisted on brushing Cori’s hair and asking her if she needed makeup.

Within a few moments, Cori was seated at a table next to a podium with an army of cameras and recording devices facing her, along with a legion of reporters and bloggers.

She no longer felt confident. She glanced over at Protector.  He swallowed hard and blinked at the lights shining at him, looking far more nervous than she felt. Past Protector, Solaria was beaming and waving. She even made a little ‘call me’ gesture with her hand at the crowd.

“Maybe Solaria needs to handle our PR,” mumbled Cori to herself.

“Good morning, Rigel,” said the Mayor quietly as he walked behind her seat to take his position at the podium.

Cori wasn’t sure that she liked the way he sounded.

As always, the Mayor placed his hands on the podium and instantly took control of the room. From his tailored suit, to his square jaw down to the American flag pin on his label, he played the part of politician perfectly.

“President,” Rigel whispered to herself. “He looks like he’s the President of the United States.”

“But he’s not,” whispered Alex, who suddenly seemed to be the Protector once again.

Cori smiled to Alex, and then heard the Mayor say, “So, to answer your questions about last night’s valiant rescue, allow me to present Freedom Squad’s team leader, Rigel.”

The introduction had caught her by surprise. She had assumed that he would have spent more time talking. He passed her as she made her way to the podium and its microphone.

“Just answer their questions honestly,” he whispered.

She put her white-gloved hands on the side of the podium and stared out at the vast ocean of media.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m glad to see everyone. Um… I’ll be happy to answer your questions. Starting with…”

She saw a man with glasses who seemed fairly mild-mannered with the way he half-raised his hand. She pointed to him.

He stood and pushed up his glasses slightly. “Yes, Rigel, I’m Joe Michaels from the Superior City Sentinel. Last night while your team and local firefighters were risking their lives in that inferno, you appeared to be standing at a safe distance rubbing your temples. Can you explain what you were doing?”

“Riiight. Well, I was coordinating my team’s activities telepathically while mentally scanning the building for anyone who was trapped. It took a lot of concentration, as I needed to locate the people in trouble while maintaining the psychic back and forth with my team so we wouldn’t do anything that might hinder the firefighters.”

“Are you saying that you were reading people’s minds and trying to listen in to their thoughts?”

“No, well, yes, but… listen, I wasn’t doing anything to pry into their lives, just detecting surface thoughts. I was trying to save them. I don’t go around just reading people’s minds.”

An older woman wearing glasses spoke up. “Do you use your telepathy to read thoughts? Are you checking to make sure there’s no criminal intent in the people around you?”

“Yes, I can read thoughts, but I have to concentrate. And I don’t go spying on people’s thoughts. Besides just because you think of doing something illegal doesn’t make you a criminal. I’m sure we all have thoughts that we regret.”

“What about mind control? Do you control the minds of your teammates?” asked someone else.

Rigel’s head hurt.

“No, I don’t think so. I mean it’s certainly possible but I don’t practice mind control.”

“Wait, does that mean you control the minds of your teammates?”

The Mayor was suddenly standing beside her. “Excuse me, Rigel.”

“Wait,” said Rigel. “Please, sir. Please everyone. Let me explain. As I was saying, not that I go around reading people’s thoughts, but I’m concerned with actions, not thoughts. And as far as actions go, I thought we were here to discuss how the fire department and paramedics saved dozens of people’s lives with the assistance of Freedom Squad.”

“I have another question. Why don’t you use your telepathy to help the local police department? Are superheroes only worried about superpowered crime?”

“Rigel,” said the Mayor. “It’s time for me to take control of this.”

Instead of moving away from the podium, Rigel spoke into the microphone. “We are concerned with all crime, but the authorities best prepared to deal with ordinary criminals are your local police. They know your neighborhoods. If they need our assistance, they contact us, and we support them. Our powers…”

Cori stopped herself. She was going to say something about her team’s powers having the potential to cause property damage or seriously injure a normal human, but she knew that was the wrong thing to say. She cleared her throat.

“I’m sorry if some of you have concerns, but I promise you all that Freedom Squad will do its absolute best to protect the residents of this city and uphold her laws. Thank you.”

With that, she surrendered the podium to the Mayor. Her eyes stung, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to cry tears of frustration or plain rage. Her head hurt. There were so many thoughts aimed at her, that she felt as if an angry mob was trying to pound its way through her skull. From a psychic aspect, that was probably exactly what was happening.

The PR people shuffled Rigel, Protector and Solaria outside. The mental cacophony lessened.

“Let’s get back to Freedom Squad Headquarters,” Rigel said. “Maybe once we get there, I can figure out how to handle the press.”

“It’s okay,” said Protector, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

Thanks, Alex.

Solaria looked at Rigel and furrowed her forehead. “You haven’t ever, have you?”

“Haven’t ever what?”

Solaria shook her head. “I was just wondering if you ever had a reason to try and control any of us or read our thoughts or something. You didn’t do it during our interviews or tryouts, did you?”

Cori’s heart nearly stopped. “No. I wouldn’t. No. I’ve read your thoughts to talk to you telepathically, but I’d only do something like that if you were in trouble or unable to talk or both.”

“I knew that. I’m sorry, Rigel. I was just thinking. It’s creepy what you could do.”

“Yes, it is.”

Protector spoke. “And that’s what makes the difference between Rigel and someone like the Ace of Spades.”

Solaria shrugged. “Yeah, I guess we all know that. Sorry again. Race you both back to base.” With a burst of flame, Solaria streaked into the air.

Alex, you don’t think that I would…

“I trust you.”

Rigel placed her hand over Protector’s. “Thank you. It was a bad morning, but everything’s going to be okay.”

“Absolutely. Now, let’s catch up to Solaria.”

Cori smiled as she telekinetically lifted herself and Protector into the air.

Agent Erica Sampson watched them fly away. She pulled out her phone. “The files were right. Rigel may be the team leader, but the first one we need to eliminate is the Protector. Make sure our operative gets into position. We’ll see how well he can fight in the dark.”

A slight pang of guilt ran through her as she disconnected the call. She understood the threat these being represented and why the government needed to have a way to stop them, but there was something odd about using a plan created by a super-villain to do it.

Of course, according to the files, the Ace of Spades never considered himself a super-villain.

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Posted on November 3, 2014, in Freedom Squad, NaNoWriMo and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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