Nanowrimo – FS Vigilance – Chapter 9
Still working on getting everything posted from November…
It had been mere hours since Rigel, Nightstar and Ion had been left defeated in front of the Superior City 1st National Bank, but Agent Sampson had orders to arrange for things to get even worse. She sat in a coffee shop waiting to be contacted.
A girl with a rainbow Mohawk in a tank top and jeans that were too tight for her sauntered over. “Mom, you forgot your cell phone,” she said, rolling her eyes. She plunked a bright pink phone down on the table in front of Agent Sampson, made a huffing noise and walked out.
Erica picked up the phone. “Teenagers…” she said to no one in particular.
Remarkably, no one in the coffee shop was paying much attention to her. They had all looked when the girl came in, but now, they were trying to focus on other things, as if they had never paid attention to her at all. Mercenary supervillains obviously had some practice doing this sort of thing.
A text displayed on the phone. “Meet me on the North Street Circle at the fountain. You have three minutes and 39 seconds to get there, but the light will be in your favor.”
Erica stood. She thought she could make it. She stood, took her coffee and walked out. She tapped her earpiece.
“Moving to the North Street Circle fountain. Keep me covered.” She kept a reasonable, but quick pace along the sidewalks. There were a lot of people on the street, including a musician strumming a guitar at the corner. She tried to watch everything.
“Excuse me,” said an older heavyset woman. “Have you been saved?”
The lady shoved a pamphlet covered in crosses at Erica.
“Thanks. I’ll take a look,” said Erica, grabbing it. She didn’t have time to argue.
“Jesus bless you, sister.”
Erica was already crossing the street. For all she knew, the woman worked for her contact and the pamphlet contained secret information, so she held onto it.
Finally, she reached the North Street Circle fountain. It had been three minutes and 18 seconds.
The phone rang.
“Hello, where are you?” Erica asked.
“I ask the questions. You answer truthfully. Don’t hesitate or any chance of working with us is lost. Understand?”
“Very good. First question: do you work for the United States government?”
“Yes.” She looked around at the nearby buildings, wondering if a sniper was somewhere on top of one of them. She didn’t want to answer the questions, but she knew that dealing with someone like Legionnaire, she had better answer truthfully.
“Second question: why are you trying to destroy Freedom Squad?”
Erica nearly hesitated, but she remembered the instructions. No hesitation. “It’s part of a government experiment. I don’t know any other details.”
“Nice answer, and even reasonable.”
“Final question: where is the Ace of Spades?”
Erica swallowed. No hesitation, she reminded herself. “He’s in the Tesseract.”
Erica waited. The call disconnected.
She tapped her earpiece. “They hung up. I think I lost them. Please tell me that someone has eyes on me. Any sign of them?”
“Ma’am, we haven’t seen anything. Wait…”
Smoke poured from the cell phone. Erica dropped it. The smoke kept billowing out, far more than she believed could be possible. Before she could do anything else, a pair of hands grabbed her and then there was darkness everywhere.
Someone shoved her forward. She looked around and found herself in her room with cinderblock walls and pipes overhead. The floor was concrete, cracked, stained and dirty. A wooden table was to her right and at the table sat a number of costumed individuals. To her left there was a large piece of machinery. And then she realized the machinery was moving. She took a step back.
“The Steel Colossus is quite impressive, isn’t he?”
Erica struggled to keep her composure. “I answered your questions correctly and honestly.”
A man in a very high-tech looking suit of armor arrayed with a variety of weapons, including wrist-launchers, a pistol, and what appeared to be an energy rifle on his back, walked over to her.
“I’m Legionnaire. You did tell the truth, and that is why we are talking. I assume you know the other members of The Devastators.”
“Yes, I do. I recognize Steel Colossus, Blasphemy, Icestorm, and Bloodhawk, but where is the Pantera?”
“Keeping watch. So, the government is willing to drop all charges against us? I’d prefer a presidential pardon for each member of my team.”
“The president isn’t involved in any of this. I can’t get you a presidential pardon. But, I can not only have the charges dropped, but make sure you’re well paid for your services. One condition. No members of Freedom Squad get killed.”
Legionnaire crossed his arms over his chest he studied Erica through his helmet. She imagined readouts displaying on the inside of the helmet, describing her entire background and monitoring her vitals.
“Freedom Squad has a mentalist, an alien, and according to rumor, a speedster. Each of them is going to cost you extra. So, you have one Protector, two Snowfall, three Solaria, four Rockslide, five Ion, six Nightstar, seven Starlight, eight Rigel, nine Velocity, plus three bonus for the difficulties with Rigel, Starlight, and Velocity. By my count, that makes 12. I’d say 3 million a piece and we make sure they are defeated multiple times, while you pay less than you’d spend on a Defense Department tank. Are we agreed?”
“You want charges dropped and $36 million?”
“Exactly.” Legionnaire paced slowly over to the Steel Colossus.
“I believe we have an agreement. I’ll give you a drop off point, and I’ll expect to have charges dropped for half of my team. You pick which ones. I’ll off also expect $6 million wired to these accounts and an additional 10 million after the first successful defeat of Freedom Squad.”
“I can get you the money now, but you’ll have to trust that will get the charges dropped.”
“You do realize that you work for the least trustworthy group in the world. Ask any American Indian.”
“It will take time to get legal documents together. I know you can understand that.”
“Let’s go for 18 million up front.”
Legionnaire nodded “I believe our business here is done. Good night, Agent Sampson.”
Something sprang at Erica from the darkness. Within a moment, it had grabbed her around the throat and she couldn’t breathe. Everything went dark.
She woke up in a taxi. “Hey, lady, are you okay?”
Erica put her fingers to her temples. Then, she checked for her badge and her wallet. Both were there. “I’m fine. I’ll be getting out. How much do I owe you?”
“You don’t owe me anything. The guy gave me a bunch of bills, told me to drive you to wherever you wanted to go. He asked me to circle the city once or twice until you woke up, but I got tired of waiting. And a little worried too. Do you need to go to a hospital?”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you.”
Erica got out of the taxi and looked around. She was somewhere near Freedom Squad Headquarters. She shook her head. It was appropriate somehow.