A Change of Pace – Chapter 52

<I’m missing something,> Hunter’s exasperated sigh blended with the continuous hum of the HCP library’s DVA server. <But what?>

                After his stint in Chicago, Hunter had passed up the new information he’d learned while investigating the sniper’s nest; and privately whispered to a few close friends what he really thought happened. The result was exactly what he’d expected. The DVA officials had been pissed. The first reason was because of the miscalculation of the new supervillain’s knowledge. They were already searching for leaks, both human and electronic, even though Hunter stated he didn’t think that was the source. They also didn’t like Wraith’s escalation. She’d gone from small time robberies, to big time robberies, to assassinations all in a few months. They had more people looking into possible targets, including an entire class of HCP freshmen.

Wraith had the DVA scared. She knew things she shouldn’t know, she was powerful, she was killing humans, and they were no closer to finding her than they were when this all started. The whole situation caught them totally by surprise. The supervillain had jumped from nuisance to enemy number one in a heartbeat. There was already talk of getting her on the DVA’s Super Most Wanted List. That would put her up there with Globe, Armsman, Hellgate, and Raze to name a few of the big ones.

Personally, Hunter thought they were overreacting, so he was trying to do something about it. <Ok, let’s go over the connections.> He’d done this a dozen times already. <The Fence in Sing Sing bought stolen diamonds from Wraith. Ricky was the connection who recommended the Fence to Wraith. Wraith gets word Ricky got caught and she puts two in his head.> The last one is the one that bothered Hunter.

It wasn’t too far of a stretch to think Wraith was keeping an eye on her contacts, but Ricky wasn’t anything more than a middleman. Wraith wouldn’t have shown her face or given her name to a nobody like him. She’d probably done that whole deal over text. Chicago P.D. was looking into the phone they took off Ricky, but it was proving tougher to crack than expected.

<There’s a missing link there,> Hunter knew he was right, he just didn’t know what it was, and a few days sitting in the cool server room hadn’t helped.

The Chicago P.D. was looking into the case, but Hunter doubted they’d find anything. Wraith had swept the board clean when she killed Ricky. The only lead they had was the phone.

Hunter pushed all the thoughts of the Ricky-Wraith web of conspiracy to the back of his mind. He’d been obsessing over it for over a day now and he was getting nowhere. The screensaver on the desktop in front of him engaged, and he quickly moved the mouse so that he wouldn’t have to go through the log in procedure again. He only had guest credentials for the HCP, and that made the process even more time consuming.

<I need a break,> Hunter got up to stretch his legs.

The HCP library was empty, but that was just how he liked it. The space hadn’t changed much since he was a student over twenty years ago. There were a few new hallways shooting off the main one, but other than that everything was the same. He walked down the length of library to one of the first aisles. He turned down it, and walked halfway down. He used to know this spot by memory, but time and rearranged books left him spending a few minutes to find it.

<It’s still here,> he smiled under his African mask.

Underneath one of the wooden shelves Hunter felt the texture change where he’d dug his knife into it long ago. He remembered the moment like it was yesterday. He’d been a starry-eyed freshman, new to the HCP, and on a date with prettiest girl in the program. He’d dragged her down here after their date, pulled her into the aisle, and kissed her for the first time. That had been the first time Henry had kissed Sophia, and the unofficial beginning of the Hero duo Seraphim and Hunter. To commemorate the occasion he’d carved a heart with their initials into the wood.

It all seemed cliché now, but it was romantic, spontaneous, and literally left its mark at the time. Every time Sophia and he decided to come by the alma mater they made sure to visit this place. He ran his hand over the carved wood one last time before walked back into the server room. It was great to reminisce, but not when he was on the job. He made sure the door was locked before he sat back down at the computer. He did allow himself to relax in one way. He took off his mask and placed it next to the keyboard. He could still do all of this work as Henry instead of Hunter.

There was nothing Henry could do to speed up what was going on in Chicago, so his current mission to was to put the DVA at ease. He needed to prove to them that there wasn’t some sort of leak in the department. He was ninety percent sure that Wraith’s knowledge came from someone in the villain community, someone who knew the countermeasures the DVA could leverage to hunt teleporters. If Henry could give the DVA something plausible they could stop their witch-hunt and allocate their resources more appropriately.

<It’s a lot tougher than it sounds,> he’d had to explain it all to Ox when he’d teleported them in to help.

It wasn’t as simple as Wraith’s parents being villains who had the information. Sure she could have two villainous parents, but her parents could also be Heroes or high level DVA. It could be a mix of all of those, or none at all. Maybe she just had a really good mentor and was completely guessing at the countermeasures. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. Thankfully, they had a supercomputer to help sort through all the hay.

The list that had been spit out was still way too long for Henry’s peace of mind. Even worse was having to go into all of the DVA files on each of these people to try and find some sort of connection. The logical place to start was with Wraith’s on-record abilities. She’d shown she could teleport and had some type of darkness manipulation of aftereffect. Days of crossing names off the list showed that even that didn’t narrow it down too much.

Henry took a deep breath and shook his whole body to get his mind back in the game. He typed in the next name on his list. <Amelie Noel,> the name tickled Henry’s memory, but he couldn’t remember exactly why.

Henry pulled up her file, and sighed when DECEASED was printed in bold red letters at the top. Apparently, Amelie Noel had been murdered nearly two decades ago. The file was short and not full of too much detail because Amelie was neither Hero nor villain. She was just an ordinary Super who’d been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There were two Jpegs attached to the file. Henry clicked on the first, and a picture of the woman appeared. She looked happy in the picture. She was dressed in scrubs, and it looked like she was in a hospital. Little kids were gathered around her, and they looked excited. The woman herself was very pretty, but she looked soft. Henry was used to being surrounded by hard, warrior women. This woman clearly wasn’t that. He studied her face for longer than was necessary; not because it was attractive, which it was, but because it triggered something in his memory. She had big, warm chocolate eyes that spoke of nothing but kindness; and delicate features.

Henry couldn’t put his finger on it, but he filed it away in the back of his mind. He clicked on the next Jpeg and grimaced at the image. He’d seen a lot in his years as a Hero, but this photo was particularly gruesome. The full-of-life chocolate eyes from the previous picture were dead and lifeless as they stared up at the camera. Blood was everywhere. She was dressed in an evening gown instead of scrubs, but you could hardly tell. Her whole stomach was torn open like she’d been attacked by a rabid wolf. Henry was pretty sure he could see the white of her spine through the gore.

Henry minimized the images and dug into the file itself. Amelie Noel was a respected member of her local community. She wasn’t a nurse like Henry first thought, but she did work at a hospital. She was employed as an entertainer. Amelie’s power was that she created puppets out of shadow. She would then control the shadow constructs as they performed for the children. Her power was minor, and wouldn’t have gotten her admission into an HCP. It had only been filtered because it was a shadow based power, and anything like that was worth looking into.

Henry continued reading and more blood drained from his face. Amelie had been nine months pregnant when she’d been murdered. The mother had died and it looked like whatever killed her ate the baby. The case was still open, but the local police’s working theory was a Powered shifter was responsible. There was one registered a few towns over who became a creature that was capable of inflicting the type of damage seen on Amelie’s corpse.

Judging by the limited information at his disposal, Henry couldn’t disagree with the local authority’s theory. The shifter had a history of losing control and hurting people; although no evidence had been found that put him at the scene of the murder. Henry clicked on another link to see what DVA investigation said, and felt his eye narrow as he began to read.

The DVA attachment in her file wasn’t for her murder, but what she was doing before the murder. The hospital reported that she was acting weird whenever she was asked about the baby. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for a woman’s hormones to be off during pregnancy, but it seemed it was affecting her work performance. Normally this wasn’t a DVA matter, but it was a small town hospital and someone probably owed someone a favor; so an agent came to do some routine surveillance. None of this would have even made it into the file if the agent hadn’t shown up dead the next day. He’d been burned to death. Since then the DVA had taken an interest in Amelie Noel, but a few months later she was dead and the case was closed.

Henry didn’t buy it. There was something more to this story. DVA agents didn’t get killed in small town Georgia out of the blue, and if that wasn’t suspicious enough the woman they were investigating ends up eviscerated a few months later. The whole thing stunk; and then there was the mental itch he was feeling in the back of his skull. There was something familiar about the woman.

The sound of the doorknob turning snapped Henry out of his thought process. Quick as a viper he snatched his mask from the tabletop and placed it over his face. The only people who had access to this room were HCP faculty, but that didn’t mean he wanted them to know who he was. It would be really simple for them to pull out old yearbooks and identify him and then his whole family.

“Hello, Professor Livingston,” Hunter nodded his masked head in her direction. “Can I help you?”

“Just thought you should know that Angela’s final has started. If you’re interested I can take you down to the viewing room,” Hunter read between the lines.

Professor Livingston wasn’t one of her daughter’s instructors, but as a telepath she probably had some insight into Angela’s life. The gentle probing told him that it might be a good idea to check it out. Normally, Hunter would have declined. There was too much work he needed to do, and until he gave the DVA something they’d continue to hunt through their ranks for a traitor he didn’t believe existed. All while Wraith continued to rampage with her motives still unknown.

“Ok,” Hunter replied. He’d been at this research for days, and he really did need a short break. The key word being short.

He saved his progress, signed off, and shut down the system before following Professor Livingston down to the arena’s viewing room. Stepping into the giant space brought back a lot of pleasant and painful memories of his own Battleball experiences. A quick look around showed that a lot had changed since he’d competed in the West Private tradition, but some things stayed the same. He looked over at one of the screens just in time to see one of Angela’s male roommates get blasted through a wall.

<At least the boy was still in it enough to grab the ball. That’ll get him a few extra points,> Hunter thought as the woman who’d blasted him through the wall finished him off.

Hunter had barely turned away before the boy was back in the infirmary section of the viewing room.

“Glad you could join us, Hunter,” the Dean approached and shook his hand. “We’ve got food and pleasant conversation going on over there. You can talk to some of the students if you want, but I’d wager a guess they’ll be a little intimidated. Otherwise enjoy the show.”

“Can I see what Angela has accomplished so far?” the Dean pointed at a screen he could use.

Hunter watched with fatherly pride as he watched his daughter take out several opponents. The ambush she’d sprung didn’t work as well as it could have, and there were some flaws in her techniques, but overall it was a pretty good showing for her first Battleball. He’d have to relay the information to Sophia.

“Damn this should be good,” Hunter walked over to Coach Meyers. Truthfully, he wasn’t the biggest fan of Reaper; but he couldn’t argue her accomplishments.

“What will be good?” he asked, receiving a raised eyebrow from the alternative Coach Meyers.

Meyers pointed to two converging dots on the screen she was monitoring. “That’s Martin,” she nodded to Hunter. “And that’s Cook,” the two dots were nearly on top of each other.

“Damn, that will be good,” McMillian whistled. “Your daughter is number one and Cook is number two,” the speedster explained for Hunter’s benefit.

“They haven’t fought since the ranking matches, so this fight will determine who takes home the number one ranking for the first semester.

<This will be good,> Hunter thought to himself as he turned to watch the leading freshman square off. <You can do it, Angela.>

 

***

 

Flying was a double-edged sword in this large arena. It allowed Angela to do quick reconnaissance, and was a rapid form of attack if she needed it. For some reason humans forgot to look up for threats, and it seemed the evolutionary flaw had translated to Supers. Since defeating Perez, and losing Stephanie, Angela had successfully taken out two more of her classmates.

They’d been short fights. She dived bombed one, caught him totally by surprise, picked him up, and threatened to drop him from the top of the arena if he didn’t surrender. She’d surprised the other one by going through the wall she was hiding behind. Getting hit with the rubble, and getting hip checked by Angela knocked her out cold. Both of the Supers she’d defeated had been in the middle of the rankings, so they’d been worth a decent amount of points. Still, she hadn’t come up across any high ranking classmates yet. She knew she needed more points, and that was the way to get them.

Angela swooped around a corner keeping her eyes peeled for any of her classmates. She was flying parallel with the tops of the nearest buildings. It was high enough that she’d have time to react to any attack she spotted, but she wasn’t too high that she called unwanted attention to herself. It was a good middle of the road tactic, but it had its flaws; chiefly, reacting to an attack she couldn’t see coming.

That was the problem with flying. It made you an obvious target.

The force hit her in the side mid-flap. It wasn’t the most powerful thing she’d ever felt, but it was more than enough to throw her wildly off course; wildly being through the front wall of the nearest building. Angela was able to tuck her wings and get her arms up to protect her head before she went through the exterior. Brick and mortar exploded inward as she plowed through the wall. There wasn’t anyone inside, so no one saw her unflatteringly smack through random furniture and skid to a halt against an interior wall.

<Unpleasant,> Angela grunted, doing a quick damage assessment.

A quick check showed she hadn’t hurt anything vital. She rotated all her major joints to make sure she still had full range of motion. She summoned an energy weapons to ensure she hadn’t suffered some mental damage, and double checked her wings. A few bronze feathers were missing, but after taking a surprise telekinetic blast, and getting up close and personal with a wall, a few missing feathers was nothing to worry about. She didn’t even have to suppress any pain.

Her mind didn’t have to go through the possibilities of who might have attacked her. There was only one person who could have hit her with enough force that she couldn’t see coming.

<Jason,> Angela wasn’t sure if he heard her mentally calling him out. <This will be worth a lot of points.> She kept that part to herself.

Angela suspected a good half of her class would heave barreled head first out of the same hole they’d put in the side of the building. A hole Jason was undoubtedly planning to put another more powerful blast into if he saw her. So Angela did the opposite. Instead of rushing into conflict she calmly walked over to the door marked stairs and walked down to the lobby of the four story building. She then found a back door to exit through and hopefully catch the classes number two ranked student by surprise.

Angela pulled open the door and came face to face with the enemy, but not the one she was expecting. Standing in the doorway, hand extended to reach for a doorknob that was no longer there was a hulking mass of bone and muscle. It looked like some demon from the deepest pit of hell. Bones at the elbow and knees jutted out into deadly spikes. Other spikes arrayed the creature’s body, along with gleaming muscles. The creature was swollen in size from the bones and muscles overlapping again and again to protect the beast’s vulnerable core

Angela hesitated for a crucial half-second, and that was enough time for Alex Webb, the number four ranked freshman to attack. All those muscles meant layer upon layer of fast twitch muscle fibers. Alex sprung the attack like a tightly coiled spring. The hand he’d been reaching for the door with curled into a fist and shot up into the bottom of Angela’s jaw. If Jason didn’t know where Angela was, the resounding CRACK that echoed through the building gave away her location.

The uppercut lifted Angela off her feet and chipped just about every tooth in her mouth. It was embarrassing, and Angela wasn’t going to like the footage from the ball hanging next to her.

<The ball!> while Angela was still recovering from her brain getting jostled around like a pinball, Alex was lunging for the ball.

Alex’s enhanced body might make him fast and stronger than most of the senior class, but he wasn’t in the same weight class as Angela. Alex’s lunge put him in a compromising position. Moving in a blurr that indicated she’d gotten much faster in the past few months; Angela pivoted, summoned an energy mace, and swung the medieval weapon into the diving man’s gut.

Alex’s fingertips were inches from his target when he was thrown backwards by the powerful blow. It worked in his favor that Angela didn’t have enough room to maneuver. A more powerful shot would have knocked him out of the final.

Alex’s head and shoulder struck the doorway, and took another chunk out of the building as he went flying through it and into the outer wall of the neighboring building. Instead of being made of brick, this building had a stone exterior. A mini avalanche of pebbles and larger stones cascaded down onto Alex from the force of the impact.

Angela advanced, ready to grab the orb and finish off the powerful opponent, but Alex was quick to counter. A boney arm shot up and pointed at Angela like a weapon. Angela knew what was coming, and knew it wouldn’t be pretty. She unfurled her wings and blasted off the ground like a rocket seconds before Alex could fire a full forearm of bone-darts into her. She heard Alex curse as the powerful blast of air stirred up the rubble from the destruction, and partially obscured her from sight.

<Loop back around and come at him from a different angle,> Angela outlined her battle plan and executed.

Once she cleared the top of the building she did a wide loop and plunged back down toward the earth. At the last second she pulled out of the dive, and rocketed toward Alex like a missile. The Super saw her coming out of the corner of his eye, and reacted quickly. He didn’t have anywhere to run in the small alley, so his only option was to attack. He brought both of his arms like dual machine guns and unloaded everything he had on her.

Alex’s counter didn’t surprise her this time. When Angela saw the man’s arms coming up she formed a large circular shield in front of herself. She looked like an angelic battering-ram as she streaked toward her target, but she didn’t come through the attack unscathed.

Angela grunted in pain as she felt multiple bone-darts cut through portions of her wings that weren’t protected by the shield. She flexed her mind, and the shield got bigger, but the damage was already done. Thankfully, she was moving fast enough that it didn’t matter.

Angela hit Alex hard enough that a concussive BOOM shattered nearby windows. The creature of bone and muscle that surrounded Alex’ frail normal form crumpled under the kinetic energy release from the attack. Angela’s own arms shuddered dangerously.

Alex ended up bent in half over the top of her shield. Large amounts of bone and muscle exploded away from his body with the force of the hit. Angela saw his eyes roll back up into his head as she continued into the street, so she spread her wings to cut her forward momentum. A stab of pain rampaged though her whole upper body as her injured wings protested the instructions her brain was giving them. She stopped herself, but it was a graceless landing. Alex peeled off the front of her shield, and traveled a few more feet before slamming into the pavement.

Angela grimaced at the sight of the broken creature, but she pushed the thought out of her mind. She engaged her power, and the pain joined the unsettling sensation. She stood up straight and tall, walked over the Alex’s unconscious form, and snatched the ball from where it was hovering right above him.

<That should be worth something,> she took a deep breath to get her adrenaline under control. There was still a lot left in the final, she couldn’t wear herself down emotionally before she’d defeated the rest of her class. There were bound to be more tough battles ahead of her.

Professor McMillian appeared in a blur, but was only there for half a second. He grabbed Alex’s body and was gone without a word. It was different that their first encounter when she took out Derrick Masters, at least he’d given her a few words of encouragement. That got her mind turning, but she didn’t have to wait long to figure out what was going on.

An invisible force smashed into her back like a freight train; far more powerful than the one that had sent her through the side of the building. Her already injured wings screamed in protest as they were crushed by the power of the blast. Angela didn’t know how far the blast carried her, but it sent her through more than one wall before one was strong enough to stop her forward momentum.

<Must…get…up,> Angela thought once her mind was clear enough to think again.

She quickly checked herself and knew things weren’t good. Pain was coming from everywhere. The telekinetic blast had broken and torn things on her back, while the multiple trips through solid objects had injured her front. Angela’s angelic shifted form was tough, but even it had limits. She engaged her power and pushed off as much pain as she could. It cleared her mind and got her moving, but things still hurt. There was just too much not working to get rid of the agony.

She started to pick her way out of the debris she’d created, and she counted six walls she’d traveled through before finally making it back to the street. Even then there was still a hundred foot gap between her and the man who’d so badly injured her.

Jason Cook, despite a semester of training under Coach Meyers, still looked conflicted about what he’d done. Angela could see it in his face, even from a hundred yards, and she saw the internal struggle. She needed to use it to her advantage. She quickly developed a plan.

Instead of standing tall to fight him, Angela fell to her knees and then down onto her face. She didn’t pull any punches in her acting. She felt her cheek and nose protest as they hit that ground hard, but she didn’t move. This was a risky maneuver. Jason could always just blast her a few times from range and really defeat her. She was banking against that.

She heard footsteps rapidly approaching, but they stopped a good distance away. Angela knew Jason suspected she was doing exactly what she was. If memory served her correctly, which wasn’t a guarantee at the moment, he’d used the same tactic on her during their first match. She needed to sell it.

<This will hurt,> Angela mentally braced herself.

Slowly and deliberately Angela moved her arms so it looked like she was trying to hoist herself back up off the ground. She made it seem sluggish and awkward, like anyone who’d been seriously injured but was still trying to fight. Her acting worked well enough.

The blast that slammed into Angela’s back, and drove her face forcefully back into the ground, was much weaker than the initial strike before her fight with Alex. It still hurt as more damage was done to her ruined back and wings, but it served its purpose. Angela lay as still as possible as Jason’s footsteps cautiously drew closer.

She debated whether or not to let him have the ball before she launched her attack. It would lure him into a false sense of security, but she wasn’t sure it was worth it. The ball would probably award her more points if she attacked before he got a hold of it.

Angela strained her senses, searching for the right moment to spring her trap. She could feel Jason drawing nearer, but he was still moving cautiously. She made sure her mind wasn’t acting normal; which wasn’t too hard. All she had to do was let down her guard and focus on the pain. She knew Jason was weak telepathically, so it all it would take was a thin surface level of pain to convince him that she was just trying to stay conscious.

It worked. Angela felt Jason approach closer until he was basically on top of her. It was now or never.

Angela’s whole body protested as she moved as fast as she could. She sat up and twisted, throwing one of injured wings at Jason. She didn’t like to advertise it, but her wings could cut through flesh. The attack almost worked, but the wing crashed into a barrier a few inches off his skin. Pain nearly overwhelmed Angela’s mind, but she fought through it. Pushing more and more of it into the nook in her mind her power offered.

Jason stumbled backwards, caught off-guard and off balance. With more room to work with Angela adjusted her position, summoned her energy spear, and threw everything she had in a sweeping blow to his legs.

Jason hadn’t recovered yet, and the blow caught him at the knees. Angela felt the blow fall short as the advanced mind’s shield stopped the attack, but something must have gotten through. Jason screamed in pain. The spear was stopped short but the kinetic energy from the blow still sent Jason flipping ass over feet, and crashing to the ground. His scream turned to a growl as he struggled to get to his feet.

<Now!> Angela saw the opening and struggled to take it.

She hurried to her knees as fast as possible, which still felt agonizingly slow, and banished her spear. The maul, her favorite close combat weapon reappeared in its place. The spacing wasn’t optimal, but it was the best she could hope for. Angela raised the maul above her head and brought it down for a crushing blow on the still struggling Jason.

A foot before the maul struck home, and most likely would have shattered Jason’s defense and whatever limbs were caught in its way, Jason fired off his own attack. It was an attack born from panic and a will to keep on living. The powerful invisible battering ram smashed into Angela. Her maul was thrown aside and her body was picked up and tossed into the air. Angela hardly registered it.

<So close,> she felt oddly detached as her shifter body flew up twenty feet and then came crashing back to the ground.

Angela landed in a heap on her back. All the wind was knocked out of her, and despite her body’s desire, she wasn’t able to draw in anymore. She was broken everywhere. Jason wasn’t faring much better, but Angela didn’t see it. Her vision was blurring. Her body shuddered and she coughed up a chunk of ethereal ichor. Her body started to shut down despite her brain’s promptings to keep going.

<Maybe a little rest will be good,> Angela’s mind tried to rationalize what was happening. <I’ll recharge and then develop a new plan of attack.>

That was the last thought before Angela’s head rolled back onto the ground and unconsciousness claimed her.

 

***

 

Hunter watched the multiple battles and couldn’t help but be disappointed in the result. <Sloppy,> he thought as McMillian blurred away and returned with his daughter.

Being blasted unconscious had already caused her to shift back to her human form; which made her look like she was peacefully sleeping. Hunter stared at her for a couple of seconds while his parental worry warred with a Hero’s disappointment.

“That wasn’t too bad,” Professor Meyers walked up next to him. “She took down nearly half a dozen people by herself and used solid tactical judgement while doing it.”

“She was sloppy,” Hunter retorted, replaying the footage. “She let her guard down here.”

Meyers nodded at the moment after Angela had defeated Alex Webb, but then got caught from behind by Cook’s full blast. “I said she wasn’t too bad, not that she was perfect.”

“We’ve trained her to be the best,” Hunter felt the Hero’s disappointment winning the war against his fatherly instincts. “That was a mediocre showing. I doubt she’ll even retain the top rank after that.”

“Probably not,” Meyers’ shrug curled Hunter’s lip, but he bit his tongue. “But this is first semester freshman year; a lot is going to happen to her before she gets to graduation. If she gets to it at all.”

Hunter clenched his fist at the last statement, pushing down the rage. There was no way the daughter of Seraphim and Hunter was not going to be a Hero. “Please tell my daughter that I stopped by to see her. I will contact her later.” The Hero had no reason to stick around now.

Daisy watched Hunter go, and had to refrain from putting her fist up his ass to dislodge whatever was stuck way up in there. He was being overly tough on his eighteen year old kid, and she knew enough about Angela to know it was going to play hell with the young girl’s self-esteem.

<It’s none of your business,> Daisy took a breath and turned her attention away from the departing Hero and back to the screens. <I do need to talk to her about letting her guard down.> Daisy made a note on a pad of paper for the shifter’s end of semester meeting.

“That flying battering ram move she did was pretty awesome,” Craig was back. “I’ll have to put it on my highlight reel.

“Your what?” Daisy took her eyes off the screen to look at her partner.

“You don’t know?” a mischievous smile was plastered on the speedster’s face. “I take the best moments from the year and put together a highlight reel for the end of year party. It’s a mix of best hits, bloopers, and ‘you got knocked the fuck out’ moments. It’s the highlight of the party if I may say so myself.”

Daisy had no trouble believing Craig believed that. It might actually be the best part of the night. Despite knowing it was wrong, Daisy couldn’t wait to see it.

That anticipation vanished when the lights went out.

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