“The fights already over?”
Gadreel sounded disappointed as she stood atop a highrise next to her mentor, sheets of rain crashing harmlessly against their incredibly durable forms. They’d been rushing over to Styx and Spectrum’s location before stopping as Dispatch gave them a sudden update.
<Yes. The situation has been contained with only one aggressor fatality.> Dispatch replied.
“Who did it?” Gadreel found herself asking before she could really think about the question.
<Samshiel was the one to land the lethal strike.>
“Thank you, Dispatch.” Obsidian Wraith said, her voice holding the cadence of tinkling glass in her shifted form. Her crystal cloud form was currently packed into a humanoid shape that fit her all-black shifter costume, her own communicator less of an earpiece and more like a bug that latched onto one of the shards that made up her ‘head’. “Come on, Gadreel. We’ve still got Crusader and Simikiel to back us up so we’ll continue our patrol.”
“Fine by me.” Gadreel said before joining her mentor as she took off in the direction of a more sparsely populated area of the famous burrow. With a minor effort of will she angled and increased the repulsion energy suffusing her body to push her up and forward through the air. She settled along beside Obsidian Wraith as they gradually climbed higher. She knew she could outpace her mentor in terms of raw speed but wasn’t allowed to flight too far ahead of her during patrols for obvious reasons.
Even if she really wanted to.
“I thought you’d be worried about Samshiel after that news.” Obsidian Wraith said idlly, needing to raise her voice a bit over the sound of the freezing, autumn shower.
“Nah.” Gadreel replied in a lazy tone as they weaved through buildings. “I’ve known him for years, I know what he’s about. I’m more worried about when Styx has to make that choice; he’s softer than he likes other people to think.”
Obsidian Wraith chuckled then, an oddly pleasant, chiming sound in her shard form. “Heh, I think you should concern yourself with both. From the sounds of how that fight went; Maria is going to give them their first serious grilling.”
“Great.” Gadreel said, her tone sarcastic. “I can’t wait for when, on top of handling a fight in a controversial manner for the first time, I get to hear the dulcet tones of Maria chewing me out.”
“Get used to it, kid. It’s how she keeps us on our toes.” Then after a moment of thought Obsidian Wraith added. “And it keeps the ego in check.”
Gadreel bristle a bit at the word “kid” and couldn’t resist taking a verbal jab at her mentor. “This ‘kid’ can still fly circles around you” She said, punctuating her point by carefully pulsing her repulsion to fly a literal circle around Obsidian Wraith while easily maintaining speed.
“All that speed won’t do jack if I get my hands on you, and we both know who wins there.” Obsidian Wraith’s tone was a bit of a playful reprimand, though she did make sure to steer them clear of any buildings during their antics.
Gadreel was about to shoot another taunt back at her before something caught her eye as they flew over a park; small flashes of light.
Both Heroes stopped to hover and look down at the strange display. A small, loose circle of people with actual cameras surrounded what seemed to be an octagonal, yellow plane that looked large enough to be the roof of a house. But most eye-catching part of it all was the series of red dots and dashes that rolled across the surface, each one disappearing like an image that reached the edge of a screen
Gadreel then paid attention to the sequence; three dots, three dashes, and then three dots again in one continuous stream. And then she got it.
“Ah, it’s an ‘SOS’ signal!” Gadreel exclaimed and started to fly down, before pulling up short and looking back at her mentor. “Should we go check it out?”
“Alright.” Obsidian Wraith nodded. “Just keep on your toes.”
Obsidian Wraith mentally directed the shards she was composed of to collectively shoot down while Gadreel simply lessened the repulsion she was using until she hit the ground with a wet squelch of impact.
As soon she saw who was under this strange energy shield, Gadreel couldn’t help from blurting out. “Senator Burton?”
“Hello, Gadreel. It’s a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. Likewise, to you Obsidian Wraith.” The dark-haired senator said, with a genuine smile that was accentuated by laugh lines. “And I assume you already know who this is.” The senator said before gesturing towards the plain looking woman standing off to the side; Senator Laurel Decker.
“Fancy meeting you two here.” Obsidian Wraith replied, tone suspicious.
“Nice to meet you too ma’ams- or, uh-“ Gadreel started to say before stammering near the end.
“It’s quite alright.” Robert said while waving a hand. “And it is most definitely “ma’am” today, my power switched me this morning already.”
Gadreel breathed a sigh of relief. “That makes things so much easier.” Then she thought for a moment and glanced around at the smattering of paparazzi surrounding the scene despite the heavy weather. “What are you two doing here anyways?”
“Our reason for being out in such dreadful weather is due to Lauren’s ambition.” Robert replied and waved for her friend to step forward.
Lauren cleared her throat before speaking, her expressing smoothly transitioning from neutral to friendly, though she lacked Robert’s laugh lines. “Why don’t you two step under here first though? It seems rude to talk to you while you’re getting soaked.”
Both Heroes stepped under the disk of energy and were surprised by how, on top of blocking the rain, what the plane covered was warmed considerably. It felt like a warm summer day under it’s protection compared to the freezing rain and wind outside.
“So, what do you need?” Obsidian Wraith prompted.
“Nothing you need to give me, per say.” Laurel started. “I just needed to offer Gadreel a business opportunity on short notice and decided to bring a friend along to help out.”
“You want to make me an offer?” Gadreel asked, a little bit of incredulity slipping into her tone. She wouldn’t admit it in public; but she knew she wasn’t as good with a crowd as Greg or as eye-catching as Shane and his shadows. It was pretty much a fact of life that, outside exceptions like Titan, most strongman Heroes rarely became exceptionally popular.
“Yes.” Laurel answered simply. “I contacted a Super to tell me where you’d be today and called in another favor to get this little…” She seemed to search for the right word before settling on. “Filter set up.”
“You tracked us?” Obsidian Wraith asked.
“Nothing so invasive as a bug.” Laurel assured them. “And there’s nothing illegal about finding out where a Hero will go during their patrol.”
“So, what’s the offer?” Gadreel asked, folding her arms across her chest. She was fairly sure what it was based on the sudden offer Shane had gotten yesterday, but it would be rude to give a preemptive answer.
“The same one I gave to Styx, which he no doubt told you about.” Laurel said, her smile almost twisting into smirk. “I’d like to take you on a tour of my local PEERS company, Riptide LLC.”
Gadreel nodded begrudgingly in acquiescent, it was indeed the same offer Shane had been given; an invitation to tour through the same company his girlfriend worked out of. There wasn’t anything especially wrong with the offer, but the fact that she was getting the exact same one was strange enough to not automatically accept.
She looked over to her mentor, but Obsidian Wraith simply had her “arms” folded and stood by silently, apparently content to let her handle this for now.
“I don’t know if the team can afford to. The team’s been pretty busy lately and I’m not sure we can spend so much time on such a casual event.” Gadreel said, very careful to say “spend” instead of “waste” time. As much as this seemed suspicious, potentially offending a very influential senator seemed like it wasn’t worth the risk.
“If you’re waiting for a more ‘peaceful’ time to indulge the social side of your job then you might be waiting for your entire career. I know Hero work better than most; it’s never really what anyone would call peaceful.” Laurel seemed entirely unaffected by her suspicion, expression remaining cherry and open.
Gadreel didn’t back off though, a little bit of stubbornness slipping in at Laurel trying to sound like an authority on her job while her mentor stood not five feet away. “No, but things could definitely be less chaotic than right now. And anyways, it’s just a tour, it’s not exactly a pressing matter.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure.” The older woman replied. “Opportunities don’t stick around forever. Besides; wouldn’t you like to gain a little more political experience? Most Heroes aren’t really taught how to deal with politicians and have to scramble after their internships to learn how to deal with the locals. I can give you a personal tour that leads to more than just a little good publicity.”
Gadreel kept her teeth from grinding in frustration. This bitc- difficult woman, was answering around her questions instead of addressing them directly. Honestly she just wanted this to end and couldn’t figure out a way of calling her out on it without escalating things beyond a polite negotiation.
It was a good thing then that her mentor held no such qualms.
“It isn’t a focus in their training because it isn’t something they especially need to learn.” Obsidian Wraith said bluntly and clearly while stepping forward to stand beside her intern. “Heroes only need to deal with politicians if we feel like giving them a perfunctory greeting or because when we need to arrest one that gets involved with Super crime.”
Gadreel was very grateful then that her cowl included one-way see-throughout coverings for her eyes as she frantically glanced between senator Laurel and Obsidian Wraith. Laurel had shifted her footing ever so subtly to face the older Hero now, her smile unchanged. (Though if Gadreel were more talented at reading facial expressions, she would have noticed it was more strained than before.) She really hadn’t wanted this to turn into a heated argument, but she knew her mentor well enough to know that if she didn’t think of something quick things would only get worse. And if she were being honest; she was a little afraid to speak up again.
It was a good thing then that Senator Robert Burton held no such qualms.
“I apologize for my friend’s behavior.” She said, stepping forward and capturing everyone’s attention. “She can be rather dogged when she has her mind set on a worthy goal. How about we come to a compromise on this. Knowing Laurel, she’s already got things ready for if you say yes.” Robert looked at Laurel expectantly then.
The younger senator nodded in agreement. “Yes, the preparations I have in place should be viable for another two weeks.”
“Alright.” Robert said firmly. “Then we can give Gadreel two weeks to make her decision.”
Gadreel glanced at her mentor before also nodding her acceptance. “I’m willing to think on it if that’s the case. And if it’s all the same to you guys; I think it’s time to we got back to patrol.” Really, Gadreel would have jumped at any reason to escape this situation, this one just happened to be actually justifiable.
Though as she turned and floated to go, out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of Laurel’s expression flicker to something other than demure politeness as she looked at Robert. It was one of raw need; her smile had become a bit more genuinely wide, almost lazy, and her pupils had dilated more than a little.
But before she could get a closer look the curtain of rain fell over her, obscuring her vision.
“You two be careful.” Obsidian Wraith said before flying up to join her intern. “This city hasn’t exactly been safe or peaceful for anyone in the past months.” Even in her shard form, the inflection she put on the word ‘peaceful’ was obvious and clearly directed towards Laurel.
Twisting her expression into quite the opposite of what Gadreel had caught a glimpse of.