When Daisy thought “clandestine meeting with a secret agent” this wasn’t what came to mind. Orlando at its core was a tourist and college town. With Disney World a stone’s throw away, along with three big schools, it was a city that never really slept. The bars were open late to grab the college kids and that meant that restaurants had to be open late too.
The address Night had told Daisy to meet her at was a pretty nice restaurant. Nice enough that the hostess gave Daisy a judgmental look when she walked in wearing athletic clothes. She wanted to be loose, comfortable, and ready to throw down if need be. She didn’t give a shit if she met the dress code.
“I’m meeting someone.” Was all she could tell the hostess, which didn’t help with the judgmental looks.
“Ms. Meyers?” The hostess asked hesitantly after a second. Daisy nodded, and the young woman’s demeanor completely changed. “Welcome!” Her face brightened to what must earn her nice fat tips from the men at this fancy establishment. “I’ve got you in a private room in the back. Please follow me.”
Daisy didn’t let her confusion show as the hostess grabbed two menus and led the way to the back. The private room had two booths and a big square table in the center. It could easily fit thirty people for an anniversary or birthday party, but with just one person it felt like a waste. The hostess placed the menu at one of the booths and Daisy took a seat.
“Your server will be right with you, Ms. Meyers.”
Daisy didn’t reply. Her mind was busy studying the room. There were only two entrances – which meant two exits. One was the way she’d entered and the other was a door back to the kitchen. It made sense to have a route straight to the food if you were serving a party. If shit went sideways, that was the way she was getting out of here, and she bet that was how Night was going to enter. Covert agents didn’t tend to enter through the front door.
She also took note of the shadows in the room. Night’s power had to do with darkness, so it only made sense to keep an eye on that. Daisy would bet her entire yearly salary that Night was listening in right now.
Five minutes turned into ten and then fifteen as Daisy waited patiently. A cute-as-a-button waitress came to take Daisy’s order but all she got was a water. She’d just eaten and had no plans to have a second dinner.
“Are you sure you don’t at least want an appetizer, Ma’am.” The waitress pushed, turning up the charm in the hopes of actually making some money tonight.
“I’m fine thank you.” Daisy replied, her eyes still glued on the entrances.
The waitress left again and the clock ticked on as Daisy waited. After nearly half an hour, Daisy started to wonder if this was some type of setup. Her kinetic abilities were activated, so she gathered two orbs of electricity beneath the table in case she was ambushed. They would have the combined effect of a flash strong enough to temporarily blind the enemy while still knocking them on their ass. That would give her the time she needed to finish them or run. She was on good terms with the DVA since the attack on the city and she didn’t want to ruin all the goodwill just yet.
“I’m fine. Please just…” Daisy stopped mid retort as she noted the difference between the new voice and the voice of the waitress.
She didn’t jump up and get into a fighting stance because that would make her look bad. She did dial up the power on the orbs if the new arrival tried anything. The new woman taking a seat across from Daisy looked to be in her fifties or sixties, which matched how old Night would be. Her raven black hair had a couple of silver strands in it, which highlighted the cold glint in her eye and a face that didn’t give anything away. Her features were distinctly Asian, and her outfit was a mixture of her traditional culture and modern American. It looked expensive too, way more expensive then something Daisy could buy on her teaching salary.
She also wasn’t alone. Two big, bulky men covered in tattoos had entered with her. Each took up a position near the two entrances. Anyone who wanted to enter the room would have to go through them first, and they had bulges in their blazers that said anyone trying to force their way in would lead to something ugly.
Night studied Daisy in the few seconds the seasoned Hero took in her new surroundings. “You really don’t remember me.”
Daisy was sure she imagined it, but she thought she heard a hint of sadness in the tone.
“Mastermind really did a number on you.” That sadness was gone and replaced by a shake of the head. “I still don’t understand why you wanted to forget all that we did. The secrets that we know are one of a kind.”
“A secret is best if its only kept by one person. The more people that know, the dicier it gets, and in my experience, that usually ends up with people missing body parts.” That got Daisy a small smile from her old acquaintance.
“That’s a conversation for another day. It is not why I’m here.” The neutral expression snapped back into place. “I’m here because your actions are hurting my organization. It is costing me considerable capital to stay one step ahead of a consortium of our old nemeses. They are motivated, well-funded, and for some reason have detailed accounts of our actions since leaving Uncle Sam’s service. My question to you is: who the fuck did you piss off and how do we make them happy again?”
“That’s a long list of people. Take your pick.” Daisy smirked.
Night didn’t think that was funny. “It would have been someone recent. A person doesn’t just drop considerable resources to track down a retired elite team just for kicks. There has to be a catalyst event. Something you did to piss someone off.”
“I’ve been pretty low key recently. Other than the attack on the city I’ve only run into a few petty criminals. If you’re saying someone is paying big money for these assholes to hunt us down then there is no way it’s them.”
“You were here during the attack?” Night changed her line of questioning. “Did you kill someone you weren’t supposed to? Or did you not kill someone you should have? Blood feuds tend to be the best fuel for this type of revenge.
“Well I tried to kill…” Daisy’s thoughts came to a grinding halt. “Oh shit.”
“Who did you try to kill?” Night leaned forward, excitement finally creeping into her stoic features.
“Seif al-Din and I fought. I busted him up a bit, but he kicked my ass pretty good. Then he basically stated he wanted to put a baby in me to make a race of superior Supers. I told him to fuck off, and that’s about where I lost consciousness.”
“His organization would have the resources to connect with, hire, and finance the people hunting us. He is our most likely candidate.” Night sat back with a pensive look on her face.
“So, al-Din is trying to kill me…again.” Daisy rolled her eyes and took a deep breath. “Just great.”
“Maybe not.” Night’s gaze shifted and she looked like she was seeing through Daisy. It only lasted a few seconds before her eyes snapped back to the present.
“You said his plan is on a master Super race with your reaping and his regenerative properties. That’s something that wouldn’t just happen with a one-time romp in the sack. To get a child with both the parents’ abilities would take serious scientific interference.” Night scratched her chin. “How a Super gets which power is still unknown. Some children inherit their parents’ ability, an aspect of it, or they get something totally new. Neither of your parents had anything close to your reaping ability, so there is no guarantee that a coupling of you and al-Din would result in what he wants without large scale intervention.”
“I’d need an intervention if I ever got together with that psycho.” Daisy mumbled.
“What that means is that al-Din isn’t trying to kill you. He’s trying to capture you.”
“He wants to make me his baby making, experimental sex slave! Fuck that!” The disgust on Daisy’s face actually made Night chuckle. It was a weird sound.
“It makes sense. He’s gathering intelligence on you by finding your old colleagues, interrogating them, and then eliminating them. It also takes out your potential allies, and is probably a bonus for the people chasing you. Our team injured them or their cause in one way or another over the years. Sometimes the best payment for a mercenary team is sweet revenge.”
“You sound like you know a bit about that.” Daisy was picking up a few things from the way Night spoke.
Night didn’t reply. She just smiled. A look that made her previously neutral expression look downright dangerous.
<What the hell does she do now?> She made a mental note to ask Mastermind when she went back down to the HCP.
“This has been very enlightening.” Unexpectedly, Night got to her feet. “We should talk again in the future.” She handed Daisy a midnight-black business card. On the back was a number in red and nothing else. “Call if you wish.”
She moved toward the door to the kitchen and her guards closed ranks around her.
“What the fuck? Wait!” Daisy got up to follow, but when she pushed through the door they were gone.
“Fucking teleporters.” She mumbled when a quick search showed they had vanished into thin air.
When she went back to the room the waitress was standing there looking a little pissed. She thought Daisy had dined and dashed without actually dining. Daisy threw a twenty on the table for her and left. She waited until she was out of the building until she pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number. It went to voicemail which was expected. Mastermind was closing in on a hundred and it was way past his bedtime.
“You won’t believe what just happened. Call me.” She left a short message and walked to her car, staying alert as she did.
Apparently, people were looking to kill her friends and kidnap her. If she was being honest with herself, it wasn’t the most nefarious thing people had planned for her throughout her career. As far as timing went it sucked ass. Things were finally getting good with her life, and now someone wanted to take that all away again.
<Typical.> She was used to it by now so it didn’t take long for her to go from upset to ready to kick ass to keep that from happening. <The best defense is a good offense.> She’d also been around long enough to know she couldn’t sit on her ass and wait for the enemy to show up.
She needed to take the fight to them, screw up their plans, and take care of the problem. Currently, that was a bit of a problem, but she might be able to fix that. She made another call.
“Hello.” Despite the early hour John sounded like he’d been awake for hours. Being a Hero on call for decades developed certain habits.
John was silent as he waited for the other shoe to drop.
“We need to talk about my Hero certification.”
Lilly was frustrated; physically, emotionally, and sexually. She’d just busted out of prison only to end up in another one. This one was on a tropical island with just about every amenity you could ever desire, but it was still a prison. She was constantly being told what to do and what not to do by Armsman. Deep down she knew he was doing it for her own good, but that didn’t hold much weight in her mind. Not being able to do something because “I told you so” had gotten old when she was five.
<No one tells a teleporter to stay put.>
Then there was Mika. The little technopath was censoring the data she was getting. He still had a lot of the same assets in place from when he’d been running surveillance last spring, so he was still able to get tons of data on Seth and the old crew. He just wasn’t sharing all the juicy bits.
Lilly grumbled to herself as she got into the prone firing position. She got comfortable and squeezed the rifle into her shoulder. It was a foreign feeling after going so long without shooting. The rifle was already grouped and zeroed so all she had to do was get it on target. She picked one close as a confidence boost.
<One hundred yards.> The recoil of the rifle slammed into her shoulder and she saw a hole appear in the shoulder area.
She moved to two hundred, then three hundred, and only missed when she got to four hundred. It was ok if she was rusty. She wasn’t great with the long shots, and she’d only killed that mafioso bonehead from five hundred yards. She wasn’t that off her game.
<But I am.> She felt the frustration still there and simmering.
Armsman was off to the mainland running some sort of errand. Mika was in his fortress of geekitude doing god only knew what. All of that left Lilly to her own devices, and since she was never really one to pass up an opportunity she seized the moment.
A flash of comforting darkness appeared in the tropical paradise and when it dissipated she was gone. She reappeared in a dank and dusty bunker that really needed to be aired out.
“Ahhhh,” Lilly breathed it in and nearly choked.
Despite all the searches and seizures the DVA had done with her assets, they still hadn’t found her weapons arsenal. This place was locked up tighter than a tick’s ass.
<Just a few things to hold me over.> She mused as she searched the place for what she wanted.
The weapons she’d set aside for the Orlando operation were still on the table all these months later. The only thing missing was the electromagnetic rifle. The DVA had confiscated that bad boy. There were still plenty of other weapons for her to choose from, but she kept it light. She wasn’t going to lay siege to a city again. She grabbed a dainty .22 pistol. It wouldn’t do a whole lot of damage, but it would create a small distraction if she needed to make a quick exit. She also picked up a couple of knives and hid them in a few easy to reach places on her body. That was all she needed for today. She stopped by the entrance and grabbed a baseball cap and some big aviator glasses. They were enough to disguise her identity from a stranger. If people took a closer look, then that’s what the guns and knives were for.
As a spur of the moment decision she grabbed a wig and tucked her blond hair into it. Eventually, she’d need to get back to her natural brunette color, but for today she was going to be a red head. A look in the mirror told her she only vaguely resembled the notorious Supervillain Wraith.
Another explosion of blackness took her to one of her lesser known teleportation points in the city of Orlando. It was by the coffee place Sprout, and she’d only used it to send a raging bitch to Africa that one time.
<I wonder what happened to her?> she mused. <Probably eaten by lions.> She smiled and started walking.
The problem was that she didn’t know where any of her old friends were. That was the stuff Mika censored. Not that they would call her a friend anymore. She couldn’t go back to Townhouse 117. Not only because they didn’t live there anymore, but also because the DVA definitely had eyes on the place. That was the reason she didn’t jump into her usual alley down the street. She was pretty sure Hunter had tracked her through that one.
So she started walking. The weather was better than the island. It wasn’t sweltering heat, and with the college in full swing she was easily able to blend in with the rest of the student population. When a girl wasn’t looking, Lilly swiped her backpack to complete the collegiate image. She made sure to double check and ensure the girl’s cell phone wasn’t in her bag. She wasn’t going to lead Heroes to her again through a technological lapse in judgment.
As she walked memories started to creep to the surface. <We kissed over there. Held hands as we walked this path, and I’m pretty sure we fucked under that tree right there.> After so long in confinement, seeing these old things was hitting her harder than she thought. <This was a bad idea.>
She headed away from the school with no real destination in mind. She just couldn’t be around that place right now. She knew how she was when she got too emotional. She’d probably act out and start an active shooter incident if someone looked at her sideways, and that wouldn’t be good for her cover.
She walked for another hour before giving up on trying to figure out where everyone lived now. Instead, she aimlessly wandered with the masses away from the school. It would take her too long to get to the city, but she could still get away from West. She followed the shores of the lake West sat next to and finally sat down on one of the beaches the school had built.
She felt exhausted from the trip down memory lane, and plopped down into the sandy goodness.
<What do I really want?> She finally asked herself. <Yeah, I want to see him again, but what does that really mean. Do I want one final trip to pound town? Do I want to pick things up where they left off? Do I want to end it on my terms? What the hell is wrong with me?> She finally cut the thought process off before she became the whiner she detested.
She still remembered their last conversation. She remembered when that asshat Mr. Morningstar had manipulated him into that room. She remembered how the old bastard had hurt him and her with the big reveal. She remembered how he’d done it with a straight face and a smile. She knew he thought he was doing Seth a favor by showing off their capture of her, but all he’d done was sign his own death warrant. The old man was right up there on the list next to Hunter for people she needed to kill.
<Stop pussyfooting around this and just do something.> She forced herself to look past their last talk. She pulled out a disposable cell from her pocket and dialed a number from memory.
Seth’s voice was exactly how she remembered it, and it made her freeze. The tortured look on his face blazed in her mind.
“Hello?” He asked again.
When she didn’t answer he hung up.
<Great.> She released the death grip she had on the phone and thought about burying her head in the sand. <Come on Lilly. You’re better than this.>
She dialed the number again.
“H…” was as far as she got this time.
“What? You’re breaking up.”
“Hi.” She sounded like she was being strangled.
“Who is this? I don’t recognize the number.”
<Wow. Great job me. I’ve become a complete moron around him.>
“Stop calling this number or I’m calling the cops.”
“Is this you Izzy?”
The question felt like he took a hot branding iron to her heart.
“No.” That word came out loud, clear, and strong before she hit the end button.
Lilly knew what she needed to do now. The conversation had been a wakeup call for her. She needed to find out more about who this Izzy was. She needed to gather intelligence. She needed to know the girl’s life better than her own, so when the perfect moment came she could end that life and remove the threat.
Because Izzy was a threat.
The pain Lilly felt when Seth said Izzy’s name was all the proof she needed. She still loved him, and she needed to end every other bitch that even thought about getting close to him.
A standard ringtone interrupted her murderous thoughts. She looked down at the phone, saw Seth’s number, and immediately answered it.
<Great. Now I’m able to talk.>
She hung up immediately, threw the phone into the water, and teleported away in a blast of darkness. She put half a dozen jumps, and multiple continents between her and that phone call so that no Heroes could follow her.
<Stupid…stupid…stupid…> She’d panicked. <I need to get my shit together.>
She was still brainstorming ways to do that when she walked back into Armsman’s underground home far far away from Orlando. Her uncle as back and by the look on his face she could tell he knew exactly where she’d been.
He didn’t have to say anything. All he had to do was stare at her. The look on his face screamed STUPID GIRL, but she just shrugged it off and headed for Mika.
“The DVA is shitting a chicken and crawling all over every place you’ve ever been.” He replied. He kept his eyes on the screens. His way of saying he was pissed too. “You probably also screwed over Seth Abney. The DVA picked him up right after your call. You had to have known they were monitoring his cell?”
“Goodnight, Mika.” She wasn’t in the mood to discuss this.
She’d try to see the guy that she loved, and instead she’d failed to say more than a few complete words to him. To make matters worse, she’d alerted the DVA to her continued interest in the area. If her father was conscious he would have kicked her ass for being so stupid.
Suddenly, her prison sentence in a tropical paradise wasn’t looking so bad.
<Whatever.> She thought rebelliously as she locked the door to her room and collapsed on her bed. <I’ll do whatever the fuck I want to.>