A Change of Pace – Chapter 28

Daisy smiled as Kemps pulled Whitfield into a hug. The famous Hero guessed the loving act was partially to stop her from running over to Daisy or Abney, but she could still see the emotion emanating from both women. They were garnering quite a few looks for their public display of affection. Since the Sprout’s clientele was usually young and progressive; most of it was positive, which was good. Daisy didn’t want to have to bust some heads because people were being intolerant. Not that she could actually bust some heads even if she wanted to. The DVA review was still ongoing, and the last thing she wanted to do was hand them more ammunition against her.

By now Sprout was standing room only, so once Kemps and Whitfield had ordered they had to find a place to stand. Thankfully, Anika was able to pull the restless speedster to the opposite side of the shop from Daisy and Topher.

<Thanks,> Daisy sent the appreciative thought to Kemps, and got a nod in return.

“Sprout seems to be the place to be on Friday night,” Topher was watching as Kemps and Whitefield found a place to stand over by the poetry reading. “If I ever see them out and about I’ll try to keep an eye on them for you,” he turned back to her with a smile.

Daisy appreciated the sentiment, but it was unnecessary. “Good luck with that,” it was her first wicked smile of the night; which Topher took in stride with one of his own.

Things were going great. The food was good. The conversation had gotten a lot better, and even though she’d nearly been interrupted by her freshmen students, they were giving her some privacy.

<I think everything will be ok.>

                Daisy was in the middle of asking Topher who his favorite 90s boy band was when the lights went out. The danger sense that Daisy had spent years honing tingled slightly as she looked around the room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Some people were flustered; having spilled coffee, or gotten food on themselves without their sight to guide them. But there was nothing threatening about a ketchup stain. She turned her gaze to the windows and saw that the building across the street was also dark.

<It’s hot enough out,> Daisy concluded, chalking the outage up to the end of summer heat.

Topher seemed to think the same thing, because he turned his attention back to her. “So you were saying?”

“Everybody on the ground!” a man yelled from the middle of the room who hadn’t been there a moment ago.

The crash of a door being kicked down, and the sudden disorientation of the lights flashing back on, had everyone reeling; but not Daisy.

Daisy prepared to spring into action. She reached out with her ability, targeting the five man breach team that was pushing their way into the crowded coffee shop. She also targeted the man in the middle of the room, whose sudden appearance pegged him as a Super, and most likely a teleporter. His life thread was warm to her mental touch, and flickered around like a jackrabbit, making it difficult to get a hold of.

While she was mentally trying to wrangle the man’s life thread, she was physically rising from her chair to confront them. Topher was nearly on his feet as well, his hand going for his gun.

<No!> Daisy made a split second decision when she saw the black glint of Topher’s police issued sidearm being drawn. She also broke one of the cardinal rules. She put her own feelings ahead of the well-being of everyone else in the coffee shop.

Instead of jumping out of her seat to take out the criminal Super, Daisy spent crucial seconds grabbing Topher by the wrist and making sure he didn’t bring his weapon in sight of the breach team. The five-man, non-Super, team was fanning out with tactical precision. They were armed with AK-47s, body armor, and vests which looked like they had C4 strapped to them. Topher might have been able to get off one or two shot before they returned fire, and he might get lucky and hit them in their vulnerable heads, but that was a long shot.

Daisy selfishly didn’t want to see her date get riddled full of bullets right in front of her. The repercussions from that were a hell of a lot more dangerous than this robbery.

Those critical seconds were all it took for Daisy to lose the advantage. There was a grunt and scream of anger that announced more armed assailants entering through the employee’s only area behind them. They were now surrounded by armed men with automatic weapons, body armor, and bombs strapped to their chests. Daisy could probably drop them all with a little leeching, but their fingers were on the triggers, and the safeties were off. There was too much of a risk that someone would jerk and pull the trigger as they went down, or something would set the bombs off. Those were risks Daisy couldn’t take.

Daisy was also ashamed to admit that the DVA flashed through her mind. She was already on their shit list, and one more act of using her power without a certification might very well ensure she never got to be a Hero again. It was a stupid though to have when so many people were in danger, but she was only human.

“We’re secure,” one of the black suited, bomb toting, thugs informed the masked teleporter.

Daisy stared wide eyed at the leader. She couldn’t believe she’d missed it. <I know that villain!>

 

***

 

“So I’m guessing she’s a bit of a bitch,” Lilly watched the back of the dangerous blonde sitting one table away from her and Seth.

“That’s an understatement,” Seth mumbled, keeping his voice low. “But she can still kick both our asses, so I’d rather not talk about it.”

<Both our asses, I doubt it.> Lilly knew she was pretty bad ass herself when push came to shove. But the way Seth said it, made her reanalyze the situation. <Not a student…an instructor maybe,> her eyes widened a bit at the possibility.

HCPs, and HCP instructors, were right up there in the “do not, under any circumstances, fuck with them” category for villains. To be sitting less than a dozen feet away from a possible top tier Hero was exciting.

The blonde was definitely older than them, but not by more than half a decade. Lilly would be surprised if the woman was thirty. The potential instructor also wasn’t in what Lilly called “Hero shape”. Sure the blond was athletic, and other women would kill to have that body, but she didn’t have that cut, honed look Lilly saw on Heroes, and for that matter HCP students.

In Lilly’s mind, it didn’t quite add up, but the touch of fear in Seth’s voice forced her to at least consider the possibility. <What I wouldn’t give to fight an HCP instructor,> Lilly knew that was a suicidal thought, but to be a great villain you had to be a little nuts.

“Whatever you say sweet cheeks,” she was in the middle of wagging her eyebrows at her disgruntled date when the lights went out.

<What the…>

                “Everyone on the ground!” The voice made Lilly freeze, but only for a second. It was still embarrassing to freeze up like that; she was just used to being the one to tell everyone to freeze.

Seth didn’t see her embarrassed blush because she was already out of her seat and heading toward the employee’s only entrance. She didn’t feel bad about trying to make her escape. Seth was a big, powerful boy who could take care of himself. Unlike him, Lilly had to deal with not being able to use her full ability. If Seth showed his abilities, he’d just get expelled from the HCP, and likely get a medal for bravery. If she let her secret out, she’d end up in jail.

Lilly caught sight of armed, masked men kicking down the front door and leveling guns at everyone, so she was pretty sure this was a place she didn’t want to be right now.

The employee’s only entrance wasn’t a door. In keeping with the theme of the shop, the only thing that separated the employee area from the customers was a plain maroon curtain. The curtain reached from the bronze rod at the top all the way to the floor, so the space behind it was completely hidden. It caught Lilly totally by surprise when she ran face first into the advancing body of a very large man with a military grade shotgun.

<Son of a bitch,> Lilly grunted as she bounced off the man as he rushed forward.

“Get on the ground, bitch,” the man raised his shotgun to bring the butt crashing down on her head.

What happened next happened too fast for Lilly to react. Seth grabbed her from behind and threw her around, putting his body between her and the shotgun. She didn’t have any time to enjoy Seth’s body pressed tightly against hers before the weapon came crashing down on his back. Lilly turned in time to see his face screwed up in pain as he collapsed to the floor on top of her.

“Fucking kids,” the mercenary pointed the massive barrel of the weapon at her and Seth, while the rest of his team fanned out to round up the remaining patrons.

Lilly looked down at Seth’s injured body, and then up at the masked man with murder in her eyes. She screamed her rage at him from deep in her gut, and almost teleported him to a spot off the coast of Australia where she knew Great White sharks liked to hang out.

<No, that’s too quick a death for you,> the man kept his gun trained on Seth and Lilly, making a point that she shouldn’t do anything stupid.

The mercenary probably thought it worked, but it was more Lilly’s desire to remain anonymous, and the knowledge she really wouldn’t get hurt that saved his pathetic life. Her scream of anger had drawn the attention of the masked man leading the operation. Lilly’s chocolate eyes met familiar cold silver ones, and she was happy to see them widen in surprise.

She felt the expression she gave the leader expressed her thoughts perfectly. <What the fuck, Dad!>

 

***

 

Anika was standing with her back to a fireplace, which was probably never used, and her arms wrapped around Becca’s slender shoulders. She was about to place her chin on the smaller speedster’s head when the lights went out, and a guy yelled for everyone to get on the ground. Five men busted through the front door, and another five through the back; pistol whipping Seth in the back, and sending him falling on top of his date.

<Are you fucking kidding me?> Anika’s first reaction was to roll her eyes and look towards Coach Meyers. <This whole masked thug routine thing is getting old,> a quick look at Coach Meyers showed this wasn’t a drill.

Coach Meyers was stopping her date from drawing his gun and engaging the newcomers. Her face was serene, but all business. <Get down…anything…stupid,> the mental shout was garbled, but Anika got the gist.

This wasn’t some HCP trick to fuck with her head. This was real.

<Trapped…helpless…can’t fight back,> it was a testament to Dr. Johnson’s progress with Anika that she listened to Coach Meyers, and didn’t immediately spring into action. <Stop, think.>

                Anika did just that, and saw why that would have been a bad idea. A quick looked showed her the men were professionals on a mission, and they were ready to fire into the crowd if provoked. Their weapons were locked and loaded, and there was no way Anika could get to all of them before they started shooting up the place. Then there was the little issue of the bombs. Each one of them was rigged with enough C4 to level the building. A blast like that would probably kill everyone but Anika and maybe Coach Meyers. Anika didn’t know if Becca could outrun the blast.

<If Coach Meyers thought she could eliminate the threat without getting people killed she would have already done it,> Anika took a few deep breaths and gripped Becca’s hand firmly.

Her girlfriend was shaking slightly, but her eyes were darting around, assessing the situation, and developing a plan; just like Anika and Coach Meyers. Unfortunately, Anika couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t get a bunch of people killed. She wasn’t strong enough, fast enough, or trained enough to deal with this.

“We’re secure,” one of the masked infiltrators informed the guy who’d yelled for everyone to freeze.

Anika focused on him since he was undoubtedly the leader. Everything on the man was covered. He wasn’t showing a bit of skin, so it was hard to get more of a description than he was tall, 6’2” at least. His face was hidden by an outdated devil’s mask, under which Anika was barely able to make out silver eyes. Other than that she had nothing. She didn’t even remember the man being there before he yelled the command.

“Good,” the man’s voice was professional, and cultured, with no hint of a discernable accent. “Ladies and gentleman,” he addressed the frightened civilians. “I’m terribly sorry about the inconvenience. I just need to pick up a few items and I will be on my way.” Anika imagined he was smiling under the mask. “First, please place your cell phones, wallets, and any other valuables in the bag being passed around. Please don’t try and resist,” he added, with an exasperated sign when a teen didn’t want to give up her cellphone, and got punched in the jaw. “These men are very well trained, and running short on patience. Second, I would like you,” he pointed at half of the room. “To get up and stand in front of the door and windows. If you try to run you will be shot, along with the person on either side of you. So please, for you, and the sake of your fellow human beings, don’t be idiotic.” He waited for the people to comply. “Third, my good sir, please empty the register.”

The stoner was in shock, and had already pissed his pants, so he needed the help of one of the armed assailants to get it done.

“Excellent!” The masked leader flipped through the meager stack of bills, and tossed them into the bag as it passed by.

Anika dropped her wallet and cell phone into the bag when it was thrust at her. Becca did the same, but not without a little sleight of hand. They might be getting the phone and wallet, but they weren’t getting the sim card, credit cards, or money from Rebecca Whitfield. Anika was so proud of her girlfriend’s little act of defiance she almost kissed her.

“Lastly,” the leader continued, not having seen Becca’s trick. “I need you and you for insurance purposes.” He pointed at Seth’s date, and Anika.

“No!” Becca screamed. Anika’s grip on her shoulders was the only thing that kept her girlfriend from attacking the man.

“It’s ok, don’t worry about me,” Anika had no intention of being taken by the man. She’d never again be taken advantage of by any man.

<If I can just get close enough to him…>

“Oh…my…god, you’re Hellgate aren’t you,” the stereotypical blonde cheerleader, sorority girl voice that came out of Coach Meyer’s mouth nearly made Anika trip and fall.

It had the same effect on Hellgate, because he looked at her with a confused cock of his head.

“You are,” Coach Meyers clapped her hands like an excited child who was about to open Christmas presents. “OMG I’m your biggest fan…like…the biggest ever,” the last word came out in a high pitched scream that made Anika wince.

<She’s trying to buy time,> Anika got that much from the alternative instructor, but she didn’t see how that was going to help. There was still no good way out of here without getting a whole bunch of people killed. <If I can get close to him I might be able to take him out,> Anika was walking as slowly as possible towards Hellgate, hoping the actual Hero had a better plan.

“It would just be sooo awesome if I could get your autograph,” Anika’s jaw nearly dropped as Coach Meyers popped out the top of her breasts and thrust them at Hellgate.

If Anika had a moment to think about the absurd act, she would have seen the absolute brilliance in it. Men were hardwired to see boobs and think only one thought, and that thought had nothing to do with violence. By whipping out her considerable jugs, Coach Meyers had succeeded in throwing Hellgate for a loop, and letting his guard down.

The timing of a giant metal man crashing through the wall of the coffee shop was just a perfect coincidence.

 

***

 

<Come on, Come on,> Daisy felt tremendously exposed, and that wasn’t considering her half revealed tits she was basically poking Hellgate in the face with.

This half-baked, really stupid, plan was a Hail Mary in the best of circumstances. She’d signaled John, with the panic button given to all HCP instructors, the moment masked men kicked down the door. She just didn’t know how long it would take him to get here.

Daisy was surprised someone hadn’t tried to gun her down already. <Don’t mind me, just a bimbo fan girl,> Daisy chanted in her mind as a few seconds of exposure passed.

Then the wall exploded, and John stepped through.

<Thank fucking God!> the relief lasted only a second before all hell broke loose. And this place was literally going to turn into a burning hell if her students didn’t step up and use every ounce of training she’d drilled into their skulls.

<Step one, take down Hellgate.> In one fluid motion Daisy jumped, tucked herself back into her bra, and drop kicked Hellgate hard enough to send him flying over the counter. She didn’t put a lot of kinetic energy behind the kick because she didn’t want to kill him. <Well…,> if she was being honest with herself, she wouldn’t mind if Hellgate accidentally broke his neck during his fall. The supervillain mercenary had been killing people, and ruining lives, for decades. <He hasn’t been seen in years. Why come out of retirement now?> Daisy wanted that know why.

Hellgate hadn’t even finished toppling over the counter before he disappeared in a ring a fire. <Shit!> Daisy, already halfway to her feet, threw herself back on the ground; but not before the flame burned through her vest, shirt, and a chunk of skin on her back.

“Police, everyone on the ground!” Topher was in cop mode now, trying to restore some order to the madness, even though he had to dive away from the exploding flame. Unfortunately, revealing his presence also made him a target for the ten heavily armed men.

Luckily, and this had been a dangerous assumption on Daisy’s part, none of the men were religious zealots intent on blowing up a bunch of innocent people. They were mercenaries who just wanted to get paid, so they hadn’t detonated the bombs yet. They might even be just for show.

<Step two, three, four, and five; don’t get roasted alive by Hellgate’s fire, disarm the bombs, keep everyone’s secret identity intact, and take down the armed men. In whatever order I can get to them.>

                Steps three and four were the easiest one to do, and the two most likely to get her in trouble. She was making more dangerous assumptions, but there really wasn’t time to overthink it.

<Tough shit.> Daisy took a precious second to take a deep breath and concentrate. This aspect of her power wasn’t easy, and she didn’t know many other absorbers who could pull it off. Truthfully, she wasn’t sure she could do it in these hectic circumstances.

The other blonde who Hellgate was about to take hostage was screaming when Daisy released an EMP blast, closely followed by a wave of electricity stronger than as a police Taser. The EMP pulse burned out all the electronics in the room, including overloading the bombs’ triggers. With the bombs taken out of the equation, the voltage washed over the room as fast as a lightning strike, taking down anyone not strong enough, tough enough, or equipped to handle it.

Every single civilian dropped like a fly. Daisy felt bad about them all ending up on the ground, twitching, and drooling like babies. Anika remained standing, and was already attacking the nearest bad guy. Unfortunately, all the bad guys were still on their feet too; apparently, their clothing was insulated against electrical attacks.

One enemy was unloading his AK-47 into Anika’s chest. The bullets just crumpled against her body, and fell harmlessly to the floor. She’d probably have bruises tomorrow, but that didn’t matter now. The teenage Super’s left hook snapped the man’s head to the side, lifted him off his feet, clearly broke his jaw, and took him out of the fight. <One down.>

“Speedy, get the civilians out!” Daisy ordered, hoping Whitfield got the message.

The petite Super was stronger than the average human, so she’d survived Daisy’s super-taser attack. A violent cross breeze rampaged through the building as a blue blur flashed back and forth, transporting a person a second out of the shop. John, in his Iron Giant persona, was helping. He was far slower than the speedster, but he used his body to deflect bullets away from the unconscious humans; while working his way through the five man team trying to take him down. John’s metallic arm sweep caught one of the enemy gunmen who got too close, and sent the man flying across the shop to land in a heap by the employee entrance. <Two down.>

Whitfield was rapidly clearing the room, but the influx of oxygen wasn’t helping out Daisy. Hellgate’s departing ring of fire, devoured the wooden counter, and reared up to strike at Daisy. <Ah shit,> Daisy rolled as fire barreled towards her, bathing the ground in flame, which then rolled over her already scorched back. Daisy cried out in pain, found something solid, and pushed. She flew out of the sea of rolling fire, thankful that everyone in her path was already evacuated.

Daisy smashed into the fireplace, taking out a chunk of the stonework, and jumped to her feet. <Urrrrrrr,> she growled, fighting down the pain of the first degree burns on her back. Sanderson, or one of the students, could patch her up when she got back. Right now she needed to be a Hero.

Daisy slowed down her perception to gain a moment to catch her breath, and take in the situation. The flame was lashing out, like a scorpion’s tale slowly striking at multiple targets. One strike was aimed at Iron Giant, which was completely pointless. John’s shifted form could take a lot more punishment than those flames could offer. Daisy ignored that and turned to the next strike. This one was directed at Anika; again, Daisy wasn’t concerned. The young super’s durability was more than enough to compensate for the heat. Anika’s biggest problem was going to be the wardrobe malfunction that followed. She’d probably just end up with a sunburn. That left Becca; Hellgate’s other intended hostage, Seth, who she was surprised was still conscious, and the remaining bad guys. The mercenaries could roast alive for all she cared, so she focused on the students.

Even with Daisy’s heightened perception, Becca was nothing more than a blur. The speedster only slowed down long enough to not injure a civilian as she picked them up and carried them outside. The HCP training, and conditioning, was allowing the small girl to pick up people twice her weight, save them, and keep on going.

<I’ve got to give kudos to Craig when I get back,> Daisy was confident the speedster would be ok.

Next up was Seth, who was already on his feet, and running in slow motion towards the still screaming blonde. That’s when the bright idea hit Daisy, and she started running in their direction.

Time returned to normal, and the two Supers looked like they were both trying to save the damsel in distress.

“Abney, overpower the flames!” Daisy screamed at her most irritating student.

The elemental manipulator looked at her with anger. Saving his girlfriend was the only thing on the kid’s mind.

“I’ll grab her, you get the flames!” Luckily, Daisy reached the blonde first. She scooped her up in her arms and kept on running. “You’re the only one who can stop it,” Daisy added when Abney looked like he was going to follow her.

Truthfully, Seth wasn’t the only one who could stop the sentient flames, but he might be the only one who could stop it before it burned the whole shop down. Daisy told him that to give him the ego boost to do what she wanted, and it worked.

Abney only hesitated slightly before becoming a human torch, and launching himself at the ring of fire. Daisy got one last glimpse of Iron Giant and Anika leaping out of the destroyed front windows before she put her kinetically powered body through the wall and into the street.

Heroes were arriving on the scene now, and thankfully there were only a few spectators. Daisy recognized Galavant floating down towards her, but she waved him off. “Get me a perimeter around the shop!” she ordered, and if Galavant had any qualms about taking orders from her, he didn’t show it.

Making sure to keep her head down and away from any of the civilians watching, Daisy placed the blonde on the ground. She seemed calm and uninjured, another surprising survivor of her electrical attack. <Probably in shock,> Daisy turned away from her before speaking.

“Stay here and wait for the EMTs. Make sure to get checked out and give the police your statement,” Daisy didn’t wait for the teen’s response before diving back through the hole she’d created.

She burst back into the burning shop with absolutely no idea what to do. Seth was on top of the counter, wrestling with the ring of fire like it was an alligator trying to buck him off. Neither seemed to be making much headway against the other, and were only succeeding at burning more of the shop. The entire back wall, the counter, and the kitchen were engulfed in flames. Daisy hoped there weren’t any people still back there, because there was nothing she could do to help.

Iron Giant reappeared through the window, tossing Daisy a plain grey mask, mid-run, before he jumped onto the ring. The ring of fire visibly sagged under his tremendous weight before it split, becoming a thrashing snake-like inferno.

“Abney, use water!” Daisy ordered, while she scanned the rest of the shop for any survivors. A few of the masked mercenaries hadn’t made it, and by the look of them Daisy doubted they’d be able to ever figure out who they were. Daisy trusted the Heroes outside to round up the ones who were able to get out of the shop.

“I…can’t…do…both,” Seth growled, as he struggled against the flames trying to scourge him.

“Then disengage,” Daisy replied, anger leaking into her voice. “Iron Giant can hold it while you focus.”

Daisy couldn’t tell if the elemental manipulator was glaring at her or not, but after a few seconds he jumped away from the free-thinking flame. The inferno struggled valiantly at the potential opportunity, but it was no match for the strength of Iron Giant.

Once Abney was a safe distance away, he discarded the flame body, and began to concentrate. Daisy felt the slight shake as the water pressure built and encouraged the young super. “Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just drown the fucker.”

The water burst from the sink behind the inferno like some adolescent popped a huge pimple. It collided with what was left of the ring of fire, and produced a cloud of super-heated steam. Neither Abney nor John seemed to be affected by the steam, but the second it touched Daisy’s burned flesh she almost passed out in agony.

“I’m outta here,” she tried to keep her composure as much as possible around her student, but she was barely hanging on. Pain was now hitting her in waves, each one worse than the next.

Daisy barely managed to get out of the shop before falling on her face. “Fuck,” she groaned, as hands grabbed her and pulled her away from the building.

“Look at me, Reaper, look at me,” Daisy recognized Grace’s voice, saw her swirling blue and white costume, and felt her dragging her toward the flashing lights. “Stay with me.”

“This ain’t the first time I’ve nearly been burned alive,” Daisy tried to chuckle, but only succeeded in bringing on another wave of pain. “Get me a healer so I can get back to work.”

“You aren’t going anywhere, Ma’am,” happiness momentarily overwhelmed the pain at the sound of Topher’s voice. She assumed he’d been evacuated like all the other civilians, but she hadn’t seen Whitfield drag him out. Daisy was glad to see he wasn’t hurt.

“First date and already ordering me around, huh,” the pain returned like a wrecking ball, turning her smile into a wince.

“You just take it easy, Ma’am,” Topher placed his hand over Daisy’s, sending a wave of warmth through her. “And by the way,” he leaned in closer. “Best first date ever.” It was a bad joke, but she laughed anyway; which equaled more pain.

As far as Daisy knew everyone who mattered had made it out alive. That was a win in her book.

<And I’ve actually been on worst first dates,> Daisy smiled to herself before the cooling waves of Sanderson’s mist washed over her.

 

***

 

The watery mist washed over Lilly as a paramedic draped a blanket over her exposed shoulders. The fire department was here, and dousing what was left of the popular coffee shop with their high pressured hoses. The young supervillain could only imagine that Seth was the one to take out her father’s trademark ring of fire, but even her elemental stud wasn’t immune to smoke inhalation. Lilly had seen a seven foot man made of metal carry her naked boyfriend out of the shop moments before the fire engines arrived.

<Boyfriend, he’s not my boyfriend. Well…he is as far as my plan, and dad, are concerned, but he’s not a real boyfriend…is he?” Lilly argued the semantics in her mind to keep her distracted from her real concerns.

She still couldn’t believe her father, the famed Hellgate, had fallen for a women whipping out her boobs. <Men,> it seemed even her own father wasn’t immune to his gender’s stupidity. She also had trouble believing the blonde woman’s “tuck your boobs back into you shirt, and drop kick someone” move worked so well. After seeing the older Super in action, Lilly had no doubt she was an instructor. This offered a whole slew of opportunities now that Lilly had seen her face.

“How are you doing, Miss?” Lilly recognized the cop who the HCP instructor had been having coffee with, and immediately turned on the water works. “It’s ok, it’s ok,” he tried to console her.

“I…was…j…just having dinned….a….and then everything h…happened,” Lilly sobbed.

<I deserve a fucking Oscar,> she thought as she kept up her wrecked emotional state while the cop took her statement.

“Did you see anything else?”

“I…I saw a blonde w…woman pull out her b…boobies before I blacked out for a second,” Lilly wiped the snot that was flowing freely from her nose. “When I woke up e…everything was on f…fire. I s…screamed, and b…before I knew it, I…I was outside.” Lilly sniffled for extra effect.

“It’s all going to be ok,” the cop put a comforting hand on Lilly’s blanketed shoulder. “I just need your name, address, and contact information so we can get a hold of you.”

“M..m…my purse,” Lilly complained, hoping she’d be able to get it back tonight.

“It is going to be logged as evidence, but you will get it back as soon as we are finished with it,” the cop jotted down the information Lilly gave him, before offering her a ride back to her dorm.

“N…no thanks,” Lilly pretended to finally get a hold of herself. “I could use a little fresh air,” the cop left her his card before walking off.

<Officer Christopher Phillips,> she slipped the business card into her bra for safe keeping.

Not getting her purse back was only a minor issue. The phone in it was a burner, but she could easily explain it as an extra phone she used in case she lost her real one. In the modern age it wasn’t uncommon to have multiple devices. The gun was going to be a little harder to explain, but it was all legitimately registered under Elizabeth Aretino. If they looked into her, everything would check out. All the way down to a legal birth certificate. As far as the systems were concerned Liz was a real person. The problems only came if they dug a bit deeper.

<Thank you, Mika,> she needed to remember to pay him a visit, and a tip, for all the groundwork he’d set.

No one stopped Lilly was she walked away from the scene. She’d make sure to give Seth a call later, and give him all the praise she could. She would make him sound like her knight in shining armor, pretend to be infatuated, and promise him a special reward for his heroics. Lilly felt the emotions behind her, albeit nefarious plan, quite genuine. Seth had put himself in between her and that shotgun. Lilly didn’t know anyone else that would do that for her, except her father. Who would have then proceeded to utterly destroy the man who tried to hurt her. It was probably best that the henchman resembled a roasted marshmallow now.

<Seth,> her mind was so fixed on the guy who’d saved her from a nasty concussion, that she didn’t see the person waiting for her in the darkness.

“What the…” Lilly was caught off guard as another body smashed into her, knocking her to the ground, and ripping her skirt.

The outfit was already ruined thanks to her father’s firework display, but it was the principle behind the additional destruction that pissed her off.

Lilly looked up to see another woman towering over her, but she didn’t recognize her. She had black hair, with a pinched face that was otherwise attractive. She was wearing the type of outfit Lilly had specifically avoided for her date, because it was what a two cent hooker would wear on a street corner. The mysterious woman would have fit in at any fraternity party, but would have occupied the roll of the girl blowing every frat boy in sight.

As the other woman leered down at Lilly, the teleporter could tell her gaze was a bit unfocussed. But the drunken haze the woman seemed to be in didn’t hide the loathing in her eyes.

“Stay away from my Seth, slut,” she spat a loogie into Lilly’s hair. “This ass, this pussy, and this mouth are his. So keep your flabby ass away from him.”

Lilly had to laugh at the last part. Neither of them had flabby asses in the slightest, but Lilly was far more attractive, in shape, and curvaceous than her attacker.

The other woman didn’t like Lilly laughing at her, and with a snarl she aimed a kick at the villain; bad idea. With a surprising amount of grace for a woman in a skirt, Lilly rolled away and lashed out with one of her stilettos. The heeled shoe made contact with the side of the woman’s knee with a sickening crunch. The woman went down like sack of potatoes with her knee bending in the wrong direction.

<Need to do this quick,> Lilly wasn’t too far from the shop, and people would hear the other woman’s screams of pain, and come running.

To buy herself some more time, Lilly got to get feet and stuck her other stiletto heel in the woman’s mouth. Then she got down right in the woman’s whimpering face.

“You listen here you little sack of shit,” Lilly found the blob of flem in her hair and flung it back in the woman’s face. “Your Seth is now my Seth. He is now the personal property of all of this,” she ran her hand provocatively down her body. “I’m going to do things with him you could never imagine, and I will make him happier than you’d be capable of in your wildest dreams.” Lilly had to give the other woman credit, she struggled a bit during the monologue.

“If you ever get back, I need you to remember how effortlessly I’m able to deal with you,” the woman’s eyes widened in confusion just before she vanished in a puff of darkness.

Lilly got back to her feet, and started walking like nothing had happened. “Nobody ruins my skirt,” she spoke to no one in particular; wondering if the woman she’d just teleported to the Serengeti would die from wildebeest stampede or hunting lionesses.

<Don’t care,> Lilly was whistling a tune by the time she got to her secure teleportation location.

She had one more person to yell at tonight.

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