“These are the charges?”
Seth sat next to his lawyer and couldn’t help but fidget. He was in a room he’d been in before. The cells to imprison Supers were just behind him, and until recently he’d been sitting in one of them. He hadn’t been allowed to leave the room when a Detective, the Assistant District Attorney, and his lawyer showed up. He’d been put in hand and leg cuffs, removed from the cell, and then cuffed to a table in the center of the room.
While he sat there uncomfortably in front of the stern-faced Detective and the ADA, his own lawyer looked completely calm and collected. He did this for a living, and even if this was the worst thing he’d seen, he made it took like any other day. He flipped through the document, calmly and carefully studying each page. Seth tried to peek at the thick stack of papers, but as he leaned over the chains tightened with an audible clink.
Everyone looked at him, so he eased back onto his seat.
A good ten minutes passed before his lawyer put down the papers and folded his hands on top of them. “Is this it?”
Seth couldn’t stop the grin from forming. The Detective looked like he was about to blow his lid, and the ADA just stared back at him professionally.
“What do you mean ‘is this it’? We’ve got that punk kid red handed, on the phone, with a terrorist. That’s conspiracy to commit terrorism right there, not to mention aiding and abetting a fugitive; hell, if we pushed hard enough we could probably get a treason charge with the stuff your client has access to.” The Detective spat out ‘your client’ like something putrid and rotting.
“Have you actually read the transcripts that the DVA recorded?” Seth’s lawyer flipped to several pages in the center of the document. “Feel free to peruse the smoking gun you so erroneously think you have.” He shoved the document toward the Detective, who suddenly didn’t look so confident. “My client actually gets her to admit to the murder of Mr. Morningstar, and then delves into the type of conversation a love sick young man has when struggled with the terrible reality of his relationship. At which point the DVA agents assaulted him.”
“Apprehended him during a criminal act through less-than-lethal means,” the ADA corrected. The woman had a shrewd look on her face. “This is not a trivial matter, Counselor” she continued. “This is not the first time the supervillain known as Wraith has contacted your client, and that establishes a pattern. You might be able to select a sympathetic jury, but you are forgetting about the person on the other side of that phone call. Wraith assisted terrorists in destroying a large chunk of this city. Anything to do with her being brought into a courtroom is going to be a piece of cake for me.”
“I’ll ask the case to be transferred to another jurisdiction. My client would not get a fair trial in Orlando.”
“Good luck with that.” The ADA scoffed.
The two lawyers sat glaring at each other for a moment. Seth’s in anger, and the ADA like a shark that smelled blood in the water.
“I need a moment to converse with my client.”
The ADA nodded and led the law enforcement contingent out of the room.
“Ok, so what’s the plan?” Seth turned to the well-paid man who’d been getting him out of trouble for years.
“The plan is to make a deal,” the lawyer stated. “Let me tell you why.” He forestalled the argumentative expression of Seth’s face. “The ADA and I have laid our cards on the table. First, they don’t have a lot on you. You instigated the phone call, so that’s a problem, and she’s right that you have a pattern of establishing contact with her. I can see them moving forward with aiding and abetting and conspiracy charges. All the other stuff, especially the treason threat, is them blowing smoke to scare you.”
“So, what does that mean?” Seth’s foot was tapping repeatedly on the floor which made the chains jingle.
“Like she said, if you get tried in Orlando I find it very unlikely you will get off scott free. At a minimum you’ll get charged as an accomplice, and if anything happens involving Wraith between now and the date of your trial they might try to hang that around your neck too.”
“We never talked about anything like that for fuck’s sake. I told her to stop killing people.” Seth fumed.
“I know, Seth.” The lawyer looked genuinely compassionate. “I’ll do what I can for you, but your best bet is to make a deal.”
<I don’t want to make a deal when I didn’t do anything wrong.> That’s what Seth was thinking, but deep down he knew he didn’t want to do anything to hurt Lilly. Despite everything she’d done, to him and others, turning on her felt like a betrayal.
“What type of deal would this be?” Seth considered it.
<There’s no harm in hearing them out.>
The lawyer got up and went to go get the ADA, they had a few words at the door, and when they got back to the table the ADA’s entire expression had changed. She didn’t look like a woman who had him by the balls. She looked more like a caring mother whose kid had just gotten in trouble for fighting at school.
“Mr. Abney,” her entire tone was different. “Thank you for hearing us out. I am authorized by the district attorney to enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement with you to capture the supervillain known as Wraith. Would you be interested in helping Orlando, Florida, and the United States of America in capturing a known terrorist?” The way she phrased the question backed Seth into a corner.
<Clever.> He hesitated before responding. <If I say no then they can put the Detective on the stand at my trial and he can tell everyone that I said no to help capture a known terrorist. If that doesn’t make me look guilty then nothing will.>
“What do you have in mind?” Seth evaded the question.
Seth’s lawyer stepped back in when the ADA handed over another stack of papers. He read them and explained them to Seth.
“They want to conduct a sting operation. They want you to wear a wire and get Wraith to appear at a specific time and place. This way they’ll be able to get multiple teleporters on sight to lock down the area, thereby eliminating her ability to escape. They will also have the Protectorate, DVA, and local police on scene to take her in peacefully.”
“If possible,” the ADA added quickly. “Our behavioral profile of Wraith suggests that she will not be taken lightly, but we always prefer the method that involves no loss of life or destruction of property.”
Seth took it all in and thought about it. The lawyers went back and forth about the details while he just sat there in thought. For both of them, it was already a foregone conclusion that he was going to agree.
<Who wouldn’t?> he thought. <Who wouldn’t save their own ass in a situation like this?>
It was about this time that Seth finally realized his quest to become a Hero was over. Even if he helped out the ADA to catch Lilly, he doubted any HCP would want someone with his record. It just wasn’t in the cards for him anymore, and if he was being honest with himself, he was happy. A weight lifted off his shoulders in that moment of realization. He was still a Super, he had some top-tier training, and a fantastic ability. He could do a lot of things in this world, but being a Hero wasn’t going to be one of them. It just wasn’t going to happen.
There was a lingering sense of failure in all of it, but he knew that would pass with time. They’d wipe his memories, he’d forget all of the people here, and he’d be able to move on. <Maybe they’ll be able to erase Lilly too.>
The thought popped into his head, and he immediately, violently rejected it. The viciousness of his own thoughts surprised him. He wanted to punch anyone who tried to do that to him right in their fat, stupid faces.
<Mason, Kyoshi, Becca, Angela, Anika,> he didn’t mind too much about the last two, but the first three had been good to him. <Izzy.> It surprised him when a weight slammed down on his chest.
He’d only known the freshman a few months, and he’d been a world-class jackass to her, but she’d had his back even when most of his friends had abandoned him.
“Seth.” His lawyer’s call brought him out of his thoughts.
He’d have to figure out things with all of his old friends later.
“I think we’ve come to an agreement.” He turned to the ADA. “Let me go over it with my client. If he has any questions I’ll ask you, and if we’re in agreement then I’ll call you back in to witness the signature.”
That was good enough for the ADA. For the second time, she led the law enforcement group out of the room.
“This is a good deal, Seth.” His lawyer immediately went into convincing mode. “All you have to do is get her to a certain place at a certain time, wear a wire to collect any additional information she’ll divulge, and that’s it. They’ll bump all of your charges down to misdemeanors. You’ll have some substantial fines, but it’s nothing your family can’t handle, and then some community service.” The lawyer pushed the document toward him. “In my professional, and considerable, opinion I’d sign this thing as soon as possible. Then I’ll get you out of here.”
“I…” Seth was interrupted by a loud popping noise. “What was…” there was another one.
It sounded like someone was shooting of fireworks in the distance. <Is that part of the funeral?>
The Detective answered the question by rushing into the room with his gun drawn.
“Step away from him.” He leveled his gun at Seth, and motioned for the lawyer to step away.
“What’s going on?” Fear crossed the lawyer’s face.
“There’s been an attack. He waved his hand to get the lawyer to step away from Seth. “You,” he directed Seth with the barrel of his gun. “Back in the cell now!”
“Jesus, ok.” Seth held up his hands. “Small problem, Genius.” He tried to stand and the restraints locked to the table barely allowed his ass to leave the chair.
“Shit!” The Detective cursed and called for backup.
That’s when they all heard the first person scream.
Morina didn’t creep. Creeping up the stairs like a common cat burglar only made a person look like they didn’t belong. Since there were cameras in the stairwell, and she didn’t want anyone to know she was coming, she needed to blend for as long as possible.
She’d made sure to clip the badge to the front of her pants when she took it off the detective she murdered and exsanguinated. She walked with one hand in her pocket, which pulled back the front of the ill-fitted blazer, so the golden glow of the badge was clearly visible to anyone looking.
She didn’t pass anyone until she was one floor below her target. An officer in dress uniform with a black ribbon across his badge was making his way down the stairs. Morina moved off to the side, but kept looking straight ahead. Her natural inclination was to look down and away to hide her face, but that would look suspicious. Instead, she looked confident, like she belonged, had a badge on her belt, and a gun on her hip so the policeman passed by her with nothing more than a nod. She returned it and kept on going barely able to contain her grin.
The door to the top floor didn’t look like the other ones she’d seen on her walk up. It looked thicker and more intimidating, but it didn’t matter. The keycard scanner was the same.
Morina swiped the card, the light turned green, and she stepped into the Protectorate HQ. She was less than impressed. She always imagined the nexus of Hero and DVA activity in the city to have more activity. Underneath the underwhelming emotion she knew this was a good thing. Less people meant fewer bodies she had to go through before she reached her target. Morina wasn’t some kick-ass secret agent like Wraith. She didn’t do large-scale battles.
A few DVA personnel turned their heads when she entered. She gave them a nod, they returned it, and went back to their work.
<Too easy.> What wasn’t as easy was remembering the layout she’d tried to commit to memory.
She could remember the slight variances in the blood of her victims spanning multiple years, but a building schematic was a challenge. If it wasn’t something she was obsessed with, she lacked the motivation to commit it to memory. She’d only tried because this was a favor to Wraith, and Wraith had saved her from that horrible prison.
<She rescued me and now I’m rescuing him.> They’d be even after this, and Morina would only stay on because she wanted to. If at all.
She thought she remembered where to go, and made a beeline for it. Halfway there, a group of people emerged; an older, balding man with a golden badge around his neck and a woman in a business suit. She could smell their scent and had to look away. The balding man’s blood was thick and pressurized. It wouldn’t be as tasty. The woman’s was cleaner, but still had that tight sensation to it. Both these people were stressed out and overworked.
<I can help with that.> She stopped at a desk and pretended to look for something while keeping an eye on the people.
“Can I help you?” One of the men was approaching her with a confused look on his face.
“No thanks,” she replied as she fiddled with files and picked up one. “I found it.”
“Can I see your ID please?” The man’s body was starting to tense, and she could feel his heart starting to pump faster in preparation.
She needed to do something to alleviate his suspicions and put him at ease. So, she turned and gave him a big smile. “Sure thing.”
She reached for her pocket, he tensed, but then she pulled out the swipe card she’d used to get in. “I’m just grabbing a file for a case I’m working on.” She held up the brown folder and smiled again.
It worked. The man relaxed and reached for the ID card. “Sorry about this, but it’s protocol.” He had to flip it over since she’d handed it to him upside down.
“No problem,” she kept the smile up until he looked down at the card.
That’s when she moved. The man’s eyes were still widening in surprise when she drove the pocketknife she’d sliced the dead detective’s wrists with into his gut. The blade wasn’t long, so it didn’t do a lot of damage, but what it did do was open the door for her power.
The man tried to scream in pain and warning, but his whole body seized up.
“You don’t look so good,” she brought over a chair and forced his body into it. “You should relax a little. All work and no play makes you suits dull boys.” She twisted the knife in his gut and pulled at his blood.
She savored it as she added it to her reserve just beneath her disguise. She didn’t pull it all, just enough so he passed out. There were so few people working that no one even noticed.
She was still good to go, but now she needed to move. An unconscious DVA agent wouldn’t go unnoticed for long, and she still needed to get the hell out of here. She took the folder with her and headed toward the door.
That’s when the first boom echoed throughout Orlando. Heads snapped up and eyes were drawn in the direction of the explosion, which just happened to be the opposite of where she was headed. The woman and Detective were waiting outside again, and the Detective rushed into the room leaving the woman alone and vulnerable.
Her eyes were drawn to the distance booms like the rest of the cops, but they slid onto Morina as she approached. “Officer, what…?”
She didn’t see the glint of steel flying forward because it was already covered in blood.
The knife cut into her one…two…three times and Morina felt her spirit sore with each stab. She was so overcome with the ecstasy of the kill that she forgot to cover the woman’s mouth. She screamed bloody murder, ironically before Morina forced her own blood into the woman’s throat to shut her up.
<Shit!> She continued past the choking woman and into the room.
“Hey! Help me get him in the cell.” The Detective had his gun trained on her target: Seth Abney.
Morina immediately saw what Wraith did in the man. He was tall and strong. His jawline was impressive, and his blood was rich, healthy, and had that special tang to it that Supers and Powereds always did. If he wasn’t Wraith’s special friend, she’d slit his wrists and bathe in his blood all day long.
“Roger!” Morina said the first thing that came to her mind, but the Detective believed it enough to turn his back on her.
She took the opportunity to drive the knife into his skull. His knees grew weak as the sharp steel punctured the bone and drove into the meatiness beneath. That gave her direct path to his brain. Blood slipped from her forearms into the open wound. The Detective was frozen with shock as she used the stolen blood to put pressure on his brain. The man seized violently and collapsed on the table top.
Seth Abney looked up at her in horror while the man in a suit sitting next to him jumped up and put as much distance between him and her as possible.
“Wraith says hello.” Morina smiled and began digging around in the comatose Detective’s pockets for the keys.
“Wraith?” Seth and the man huddling in the back corner said at the same time.
“Don’t go with her, Seth.” The man in the suit said as Morina found the keys. “If you leave here there is nothing I can do for you. If you stay, I can get you out of this.”
Indecision crossed Seth face, so Morina reached over the table and slapped him hard.
“I’ll tell you how this is going to go, pretty boy. I promised Wraith I’d free you, because what they have waiting for you is literal hell. You’re never going to get free of this. You’re on their list. They’re going to use you up, then fuck you over, then watch you get fucked by the system day after day after day, and then they’re going to point to you and tell the world how they caught the bad guy. Then they’re going to go behind their closed doors and laugh at your stupidity. They’re going to screw you, and you know it, all because you loved someone.” She nearly gagged when she said ‘loved’, but she knew that was what he needed to hear.
Morina didn’t admit that her small rant had more to do with herself than him. They’d fucked her and sent her off to rot all because they didn’t understand the pull of blood. The substance rippled underneath her clothing and she restrained from gasping with delight. She ended up putting a hand down on the table to steady herself, and it landed right on a stack of papers.
Seth reached for it, but his chains didn’t allow him to stretch that far.
“That’s what is going to get him out of this situation.” The suit in the corner, obviously a lawyer, stated. “I’m making sure he is being taken care of. He doesn’t need Wraith.”
“You were going to make a deal?” Morina’s tone dropped dangerously low as she picked up the stack of papers. “What were you going to agree to, Seth?”
“Nothing, I agreed to nothing,” Seth replied. “My lawyer was working on a deal, but I never saw it. They chained me up and put me in here like an animal. Please, let me out.” He raised his hands which clanged against the restraints when he couldn’t bring them above chest height.
“Seth, no.” The lawyer made his final plea.
It was his final one because red mist shot from Morina’s outstretched hand. It splattered all over his face and started to crawl into his nose and mouth. Now, all the lawyer could do was scream and claw at his face as the blood gradually asphyxiated him.
“Please,” Seth pleaded again, but he was unable to hide his revulsion from her.
Morina looked at the paper and then at Seth. <What would Wraith want?> It didn’t take her long to figure out. <Wraith would want to deal with this herself.>
Morina shoved the papers into her blazer pocket and found the correct key. She undid his feet first and then his hands. Seth shrugged out of the chains and rubbed his wrists. “My name is Morina, but you can call me the Blood Bitch.”
“Ok,” he didn’t look at the dead, twitching lawyer or the Detective with the knife sticking out of his head. “What’s the plan to get out of here, Blood Bitch?”
“You’re a manipulator aren’t you?” Morina asked.
“Yeah.” Seth raised an eyebrow.
“Then manipulate shit.” She deadpanned and headed for the door.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and your holiday season is off to an awesome start!
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