Jump to content
EternalPhoenix

Stardust Soldiers

Recommended Posts

Janurary 3, 2016. Freedom City. Southside. In front of the Main Terminal of Jordan International Airport. 10:00 AM.

 

Francisca Rivera was nervous. She wasn’t late. That she knew. Therefore, the person she was here for was. She was UN Security, it was her first time in charge, and she was assigned to a high value target. UN diplomat Kenzie Zhang was one of the most accomplished negotiators in the world. Her work (and that of her subordinates) had kept Indonesia from tearing itself apart a few years ago. Not to mention her continuing work keeping North Korea from doing anything…drastic. She was the go to person when violence threatened Southeast and East Asia. Rivera was a little star struck, but she was a professional. That was not why she was nervous. Due to budget cuts, the UN hadn’t given her a full security team. This was not why she was nervous, either. She’d made do with worse. It was the replacement for her unsupplied agents. His name was Edge, and he was an American superhero who also worked for the UN. His presence by itself didn’t make her nervous. It was what it meant. The higher ups didn’t deploy supers lightly, especially since there weren’t many working for the UN. Something was going to happen, and it was going to be bad for her and her team. She’d expressed this to Edge, but he seemed rather unconcerned. She sighed. No help for it. Her team, limited as it was, had secured the area as best they could. Edge had brought a partner, and she had lent on a hand on that front. There was nothing left to do but wait for Ms. Zhang to come out. Her current security team was even more shorthanded than Rivera’s, and had been on the clock almost 24/7 for the past three days. Rivera just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

 

Her name was Brigitte. Today she had curly blonde hair (a wig) and blue eyes (contacts). She’d been training for this ever since she could remember. She was the fifth graduate of Project Stardust, and justifiably proud of graduating earlier than the other four. This was her first assignment. The director was right. People looked at her differently. They didn’t see her as a threat. Nobody looked at her twice as she was scouting for a good spot to take the shot. But she’d found a good spot, and squeezed into it. The cameras didn’t see her approach. Her escape route was clear. The only thing left was to wait for her target, line up the scope as she’d been trained, and pull the trigger. But her target was late. It made Brigitte uneasy. Maybe something was wrong. Had one or both of the other two been captured? Should she run? Was it already too late to run? She looked around through her scope. No, everything was fine. Her target was just delayed. That happened to planes sometimes. She munched a few small cookies and waited.

Edited by EternalPhoenix

Share this post


Link to post

Their UN security clearance had gotten Edge and Monsoon both past the gate security, leaving the two costumed heroes to wait by the airport's Champions franchise for the arrival of Kenzie Zhang. Mark had taken the lead in dealing with the other UNISON agents, leaving Monsoon to watch the crowd with her usual interest in the doings of human beings. "Someone would have to be crazy to make a hit here in Freedom City," Mark was assuring Agent Rivera. "But that doesn't necessarily mean anything," he admitted. "Between SHADOW clones, and OVERTHROW fanatics, and those T-Baby supremacists, there are a lot of crazy people out there." It was impossible for Mark to be discreet, especially in costume, so he was being interrupted occasionally to shake hands or sign autographs as people passed by. He was, after all, the most famous superhuman in the employ of the United Nations. 

 

For her part, Nina was trying to avoid provocation - this was Mark's work, after all, and important work it was. Having lived most of her life around security and security personnel, this was familiar territory. "When I first came to this country, Edge was my sole escort," she commented to Francisca, "and he helped me survive an attempt on my life by interdimensional Nazis. You couldn't be in better hands. And if anyone shows their faces in anger, we will teach them the price of laying hands on one who would bring peace." 

Share this post


Link to post

Kenzie Zhang finally put in her appearance, striding quickly through airport security. She had four exhausting looking security agents surrounding her and a pair of harried looking assistants. Rivera stepped forward to meet them. “Al-Rabadi. Good to see you. Ready for a break?” Al-Rabadi gestured to his team, who paused.

 

“Gave this one to you, Rivera? Sometimes I wonder if they’re sadists. You know I’m shorthanded, right? That’s because half my team’s scattered around Asia in hospitals. Wainwright might even be dead by now, I don’t know. Didn’t they tell you anything?”

 

Rivera’s eyes widened. “Said I’d get intel from you. I got the feeling things were happening too fast. I was at home in bed two hours ago.”

 

Al-Rabadi gave a wry smile. “Too fast is one way to put it. This is what’s left of Ms. Zhang’s negotiation team.There used to be twelve of them. Three dead, the rest injured enough they had to be left behind. Between steel arrows falling from a clear sky, blaster fire from the clouds themselves, and the follow up attacks we’re pressed to our limits. Had to call in super help.” He addressed Edge. “Nice to meet you, finally. Tariq Al-Rabadi. Rivera’s one of the best, but I’m glad you’re here. Had a couple of local supers lend a hand during the Hawaii stopover. DeCosta went down, but we got out of there thanks to them. She’ll need all the support you can give her and then some.” And back to Rivera. “The lady’s all yours. You have no idea how much I’m craving a warm bed right now. Good luck to you.”

 

This was it. The handover between teams. Brigitte’s fellow graduates had thinned the group out quite a bit. Only one person left who mattered. She took aim at the older Asian woman. She didn’t know her target’s name or occupation. It wasn’t important. Nerves shook made her hands shake a little. This was her first assignment, after all. There was a difference between firing on the range and out in the field. That’s what the other two had said. She hadn’t believed them, but now she knew it was true. She took a deep breath and calmed her nerves as she’d been trained. The director thought of everything. Ready, she looked through the scope and lined up the sights on her target (named Kenzie Zhang, not that Brigitte knew that). Put the dot in the middle on the bridge of the nose, and gently squeeze the trigger.

Edited by EternalPhoenix

Share this post


Link to post

Monsoon studied the oncoming diplomats for a moment before a sudden instinct took over. She wasn't sure what it was - a legacy of the years she'd spent under security herself, the months of experience she'd gained as a superheroine, or maybe just the unique insights that seemed to kick in when she was around Mark. "Down!" she called, before she stepped forward and shoved the air, a tight whirlwind of hydrokinetic diamagnetism erupting from the palm of her hand as the would-be metahuman security knocked Kenzie Zhang on her butt. A moment later, a concrete support pillar nearby cracked as a mysterious object smashed into it at high speed, digging out a crater in the stone. Gun! 

Share this post


Link to post

Neither Rivera nor Al-Rabadi understood exactly what had just happened. Edge’s partner Monsoon had just attacked Ms. Zhang? Had they made a drastic miscalculation? Those thoughts had barely begun to form when the crack of bullet meeting pillar jolted them out. She’d seen-or sensed-something amiss and acted. Rivera drew her weapon and snapped orders. The UN diplomat was immediately closely surrounded by the taller bodies of Rivera’s team and hustled away as fast as she could move. “Anybody see where that came from?”

 

Al-Rabadi, his accumulated fatigue slowing him, drew his weapon and shook his head. “No sound, no muzzle flash. If there were more shots coming we’d be hit by now. Go, Rivera. Get her out of here. We’ll catch up in a while.” He looked around before settling on Edge and Monsoon. “I’m exhausted, and most heroes see things better than I can anyway. My team will organize locking down the exits with airport security.” As he spoke, they were already moving. “I’ll contact the local authorities. Can you find the shooter?”

 

Brigitte was in a panic. She missed! She never missed in training! She did everything right! The director was going to be so mad! However, there was no time for that. The airport would be locked down in a hurry. She had to get out. The director would be even madder if Brigitte got caught. She had a plan, a backup plan, and her backpack’s arsenal. It would be fine. Probably. She got loose of her perch and glanced around. Satisfied no one was looking; she slid to the ground and collapsed her rifle back into its slot in her backpack. One last glance assured her that Plan B was still up there against the ceiling, and she pulled the tiny radio transmitter out of her skirt pocket. She didn’t want to use it, but it the director said to be ready for anything. She hurried to an exit. There was a security man there, but her backpack was above suspicion. That, and with a shake of her blonde curls and one bat of her blue eyes he’d be convinced she was harmless.

Share this post


Link to post

"You think you can run from me, assassin!?" demanded Monsoon, leaping over the heads of bystanders only to land smoothly on her feet, chasing after the pretty blonde with intent, scimitar flying into her hand. Edge immediately backed Monsoon's play, running after her with his cape streaming in the breeze behind him. He didn't dare use his powers in the middle of the airport, not when one wrong move on his part could bring about catastrophe. He wasn't sure what Monsoon had seen or what had clued her into the assassination attempt, exactly, but he trusted her implicitly - especially in matters of state. 

 

Instead he added a helpful comment. "Hey, you'd better stop running! I can turn your shoes to superglue and stick you to the floor, which is really embarrassing, and Monsoon can drag you around by your blood, which hurts! And then there are the guys back there with guns. You'd better knock it off, lady."

Share this post


Link to post

The pretty blonde glanced back, saw her pursuers, and absolutely panicked. Now that the heroes had a good look at the assassin, she was…oddly short. Under five feet, for sure. And small. Wouldn’t have weighed 100 pounds soaking wet with a brick in each pocket. She broke into a sprint, as fast as her little legs would carry her. There was a small object in her hand, which she appeared to press a button on. A moment later, a large explosion shattered a concrete pillar behind everyone. UN security had already removed everyone from the blast’s immediate area, but it was a load bearing pillar. The ceiling groaned, and a look at it would reveal that it too had suffered damage from the blast.

Share this post


Link to post

"Crap!" Edge stopped dead in his tracks, and actually took a knee, slapping the ground as a thick layer of concrete rushed from his fingers and spread over the ground, passing harmlessly under the feet of passersby and fleeing civilians as it crawled up the pillars in a slow grey, oozing tide that gradually concealed itself into solidity - a mass thick enough and heavy enough, with ongoing support from the reality warper, to hold up the ceiling. Mark had acted instinctively, but well - the barrier would prevent any further bombs from going off as well as keep the roof itself from caving in. 

 

For her part, Nina was having less luck - she'd tried to catch the fleeing child with a lasso of hydrokinetic power, but the latter had skipped her way out of it with alarming speed despite what had otherwise been a solid hit. I'll knock her down if it looks like she's going to escape, thought Monsoon as she took a chance and leaped directly in front of Brigitte, trying to block her way. But I'll not strike someone so small unless there's no other choice. 

 

"You there, halt! You're beaten!" 

Share this post


Link to post

There was a virtually inaudible click, and the girl pulled out a canister from the bottom of her backpack. She pushed a button on it and dropped it. Impenetrable smoke poured out of it, blinding everyone in a larger radius than the explosion. Curiously, their sense of smell was also deadened. Small footsteps echoed around Nina. The girl was running again.

 

Brigitte had, of course, memorized the layout of the entrance terminal. Since UN and airport security had helpfully cleared most of the civilians out, she didn’t have to worry about running into anyone. This was bad! It was really, really bad! Not only had she missed her target, she’d been spotted! This was a good chance, though. In the smoke cloud she pulled off her wig and slipped out the contacts. Her jacket was reversible and she was wearing shorts under the skirt. A few quick motions and she was someone else, with her prior appearance (except for the jacket, of course) on the floor. No help for the shoes, not right now. That door should be right…about…BANG. Ouch. She’d smacked into it full force and bounced onto her butt. Crap. Did she even have a Plan D? And oh, man her face hurt. Nevermind, get out the door. And don’t cry. The director hates it when she cries.

Share this post


Link to post

Wretched child! How dare she make a mockery of Monsoon! The thoughts helped Nina blow off steam, if nothing else. Taking a chance, she darted forward through the smoke cloud and actually burst through the doors, pushing her own body mass through the door to make it spin open. Only to find herself floating above a sidewalk and parking lot full of fleeing civilians, any number of which could have been the assassin. That was a child, she thought, her mental voice sick, given the opportunity to reason when her hunting mood was off. Who would send a child to do killing work? 

 

Down below, as the smoke cloud faded, Edge joined Monsoon, though on the ground rather than in the air. He didn't bother asking if Monsoon had caught the assassin - if she had, Nina would be dangling the would-be killer in the air like a fish. "I've got the building held up," he called to her, "but there may be more bombs in there. I'm going to go ahead and try and get Zhang to where she's going, if you can help them clean up in there." 

 

Muttering a curse, Monsoon landed on the sidewalk next to Mark. "Did you see that? That was a child!" she declared, anger simmering in her voice. "I tell you this truly, I admire this woman Zhang for the depravity of the enemies she had made." 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Monsoon’s shouting had allowed Al-Rabadi to find the two heroes with ease. “ I think the American slang is…preaching to the choir?” With more time, they could see the veteran agent had significant gray in his hair. “Unfortunately, it’s not as uncommon as you might think. No one suspects children, after all. And they have little sense of her own mortality, compared to an adult. And equally unfortunately, that would not be the first child soldier I’ve had to…deal with.” He looked even older as he said that. Then he shook his head. “At any rate, Rivera’s taken Ms. Zhang to the Federal Building via armored car. I’m headed there myself, to be debriefed before I get some well earned time off. You two need a lift?”

 

Brigitte had lost them. She pedaled her bicycle, on the way back to her safehouse. She breathed easy. Well, easier. She had failed to take out her target. The director would be mad. But there were two superheroes there. The others didn’t have to deal with superheroes! And they had powers to help them! She didn’t have powers, just her backpack and her training. Oh, well. Maybe the director would let her try again later. She did everything the way she was trained, after all. She just hoped the others wouldn’t hear about this. They’d never let her hear the end of it.

Share this post


Link to post

Edge provided the transportation to the Federal Building, and reassurance to the still-tense Monsoon as they appeared in a spectacular flash of light on the building's steps. "There was no way you could have known she could have pulled out all those gadgets," he told her as they waited for the armored car with anticipation. They'd brought al-Rabadi along with him, and they were listening to radio dispatches from the car as it made its way through Freedom City traffic. "We did what we were supposed to do - we showed the bad guys that there are people out there fighting for peace, and we did it as loudly and spectacularly as possible." He nodded, adding confidently, "And when they try again, and this time they probably will, we'll be ready to stop them - and save those kids from whatever bad guy is using them for his own twisted ends." 

Share this post


Link to post

The armored car arrived at the Federal Building without further incident. The heroes, UN agents, and those they would protect were separated for debriefing. It took only but so long, and so Edge and Monsoon were waiting in a small staff lunchroom when both Al-Rabadi and Rivera came in. Neither one seemed particularly happy and in fact were involved in a spirited discussion. “Francisca, as much as I don’t like it, this isn’t my call. They need someone in the field. We’re the only two available and I need rest.”

 

Rivera was frowning, clearly quite displeased. “I’ve earned my own team, Tariq. They can’t just take it from me for no reason. We didn’t fail. In fact, it was as much of a success as you achieved getting her here.”

 

Al-Rabadi folded his arms. “It’s not a demotion, habibti. You will receive what you have earn after this is over. In the meantime, like everyone else, we do what we must.” He turned and walked out.

 

Rivera sighed and turned to Edge and Monsoon. “All right, then. Looks like I’m your liaison with UN Security. I am to assist you in any way that I can. I’ve been briefed on everything Al-Rabadi knows. So, any questions? You will be able to see Ms. Zhang, if you wish.

Share this post


Link to post

Monsoon frowned, her eyes following al-Rabadi as he left, but said nothing as Edge replied to Rivera. "Yes, let's meet with her. Maybe she can give us a better idea of who exactly might want to kill her. What's her next assignment?" he asked, taking a guess. "Maybe it's a case of people trying to stop her from doing something more, rather than what she's already done." 

 

"Agent," said Monsoon as she smartly walked along between the two men, "are you certain of the operational security of your own organization? Someone must surely have penetrated UNISON to know this much information about your movements." She frowned, then added, "And they must have penetrated it at the beginning of her assignment in Asia if the chase has lasted so long. Where was she deployed last?" she asked in suspicious inquiry. 

Share this post


Link to post

Rivera was quick to answer Edge. “That is going to be my job. A meeting in New York between China and India. Ms. Zhang’s kept the details of the dispute to herself, however. She’s kept a good many secrets over the years, or so goes the rumor mill. al-Rabadi says it’s nuclear related, and I’d believe him. He has a nose for these things. After that she’ll be testifying in The Hague. A renegade Malaysian general is on trial for crimes against humanity. Couldn’t be him, though. That is a man without a friend in the world. What he did…” Rivera shuddered involuntarily. “I’d rather not think about it. He’s only on trial because Ms. Zhang talked half of Asia out of just shooting him.

 

Next, she spoke to Monsoon. “My team is rock solid. I’ve known them for years. al-Rabadi as well. He vouches for his team in the same way I do for mine. However, there is room for infiltration. Communications staff aren’t under either of our direct supervision. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and various airport personnel certainly aren’t. And that includes local law enforcement and military officials.” She pulled out her smartphone and flipped through it. “Last two stops on the itinerary were…Indonesia and a dull spot in between Japan and Russia. Japan and Russia are having a sea rights dispute, but she left them talking and on good terms. Indonesia’s…complicated. The rebel faction from a few years ago hasn’t fully disbanded, and the government isn’t holding up their end of the deal Ms. Zhang brokered back then. It’s contained, for now, but one spark and there will be more violence.” She returned her phone to her hip. “Honestly, I have a lot of respect for her. Most negotiators we have would have just let the civil war happen by now. Anything else? Ms. Zhang is borrowing an office up ahead for the duration of her stay.”

Share this post


Link to post

"I heard about that," said Edge with a nod. "I was in the cleanup team that fixed what happened to the Sarawak coast." He reached down and lightly squeezed Nina's hand at the memory - getting a firm squeeze back from her in return. "Let's go meet with her," he said, walking along just ahead of Monsoon as they headed into the office to greet the famous Kenzie Zhang. Once inside, Mark took her hand and shook it firmly, seeming to click 'on' and light up the room with a formidable personal presence that rivaled that of the diplomat herself. 

 

"Greetings, Ms. Zhang. I'm Edge, this is my colleague Monsoon - I'm sorry your journey here was so difficult. Is there anything we can do for you?" 

Share this post


Link to post

Kenzie Zhang was an East Asian woman in her 50s. In fact Edge, through his UN work, would know that she was the daughter of a Hong Kong policeman and a British ex-pat. She was brilliant, wise, and charismatic in equal measure. Both heroes, with a look, could tell why so many listened to her when no one else would. There was also something about her. Most civilians, even if they were high ranking, tended to display a bit of deference and awe when in the presence of well known professional heroes like Edge. Ms. Zhang displayed not a bit of that, instead shaking his hand like…like she was a colleague, instead of someone he was protecting. There was a moment where both heroes thought they felt something brush across their senses, but then it was gone.

 

Above all else, Ms. Zhang looked tired and vaguely sad. “Can you bring back the dead? If not there isn’t much I need from you. Keira had been with me for ten years. The connections, the knowledge…I’m not as young as I was. She was the future. My successor. Now she’s a corpse. And that says nothing about the damage to my staff. Wu and Kazuya had wives. Children.” She stopped and took a breath. “I’m sorry. Ironically, I’m not feeling very diplomatic at the moment.” She took a deep breath. Let it out. Her negotiator’s mask slid firmly into place. “What can I do for you? My assistants are making the calls I don’t need to personally make, so I don’t have much to do for the moment. Although I do have a lunch date with Freedom’s mayor later.”

Edited by EternalPhoenix

Share this post


Link to post

"No, it's all right," Edge told her reassuringly, his own reflected heartbreak clear in his eyes. "I'm so sorry for what's happened to you. I promise that we'll be sticking with you every step of the way here in Freedom CIty - and we'll do everything in our power to find out who's been doing these terrible things to your people." 

 

"And our power is vast," agreed Monsoon, a sharp promise in her own voice. 

 

"Just pretend we're not here," said the man in shiny blue and gold as he and the woman in dark blue and off-white nodded her head. "Where are you having lunch?"

Share this post


Link to post

Zhang tilted her head, an expression of mild surprise on her face. “Tariq didn’t tell you?” Her expression shifted, to one of mild disgust. “Of course he didn’t. He doesn’t believe me.” She sighed slightly. “I suppose I did tell him that it was impossible, after all. And my opinion hasn’t changed in the past few days since then.” She took her smartphone off her belt with her right hand. “Encrypted GPS signal, not to worry. I’m not an idiot.” She worked the touchscreen with her thumb for a few moments. “Ah, right. We’ve both heard good things about this restaurant in the West End. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The Southern Queen?

 

Rivera held up a hand. “Wait. al-Rabadi didn’t tell me about that, and if he didn’t tell me these two certainly don’t know. Anything could be important, even if it is impossible.”

 

Zhang looked slightly upset for a second. “Well, all right. I trust his judgement, but I hear good things about you, Rivera.” The younger woman looked pleased at that comment before Zhang went on. “People don’t believe it anymore, but there was a time when I was young and had more energy than I knew what to do with. My senior year of high school was fairly light, as I had most of my credits for that year already. I decided to fill my time constructively, by fighting crime.” She smiled. “I’m not what I was, but for a few years I made a small difference in my corner of the world. Of course, it hurt my grades a little, but I figured saving lives was a little more important. Honestly, I’m still doing the same job today, just without the costume and much less danger of being shot or blown up. Usually.”

 

Rivera was quite surprised. “Ma’am, that’s not anywhere in your file. Why would something so important be left out?”

 

Zhang smiled again. “You’re young. There once was a thing called respecting the mask. After all, it wasn’t Mackenzie Zhang who did those things. It was…oh, my…I can’t remember the name I used. Oh, there it is. Translated from Chinese, it means Forethought.” She looked pleased with herself for remembering. “The reason I said something to Tariq was one of the reasons I retired early. The other being I realized I could do more as a diplomat that a superhero.” She looked at Edge and Monsoon. “Of course, I was never nearly as powerful or talented as either of you. The other reason I retired early is, well…” She brought her left arm and tapped on it with her right hand. It made a hollow, wooden sound. “Vellai Muyal, or White Rabbit, cost me my arm. Of course, she died that night. So I suppose that wasn’t the most even of trades. Not that she didn’t try to make it one. You know how it goes. Enemies for a while, then the final confrontation.”

 

The professional negotiator’s mask slipped, and she looked every bit of her age for a few short moments. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to take so long to get to the point. The memories are still sharp and unpleasant and I…nevermind. She was an assassin, and among the best at her profession. I…thwarted her, a few times, so she decided to find out who I was and get rid of me. It did not go as she planned.” She paused, and the mask slipped one more time. She spoke in a very small voice. “It didn’t go as I planned, either.” She took a moment to compose herself. “She was dead. I saw her injuries before I passed out. I couldn’t feel her mind anymore. People don’t survive both of those. Yet, somehow, that girl with the cloud knew who I used to be. I heard her. She called me by a name I haven’t used in literally decades, and said the White Rabbit never forgets her debts. Tariq says it can’t be, but I…I don’t know.”

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh man, an old archnemesis! Those are the worst," said Mark with great confidence. "Don't worry, we'll get her - and her whole organization, too. It just might take a while." He hmmed, thinking this situation over carefully, the rusty gears in his head slowly grinding together. "We need to find who she is," he finally said. "Who she is in terms of being a supervillain, I mean. It's not like she's just a lone gunman brooding somewhere - she must have an organization if she's capable of doing this, an organization with a lot of power and a lot of very bad people." 

 

"Where did all this happen?" Monsoon inquired of Zhang. 

Share this post


Link to post

Zhang shrugged helplessly. “It was over thirty years ago, Edge. I’m a diplomat now, not an intelligence agent. Back then she was independent, working for whoever could find her and survive the request. Back then I’m sure she had the money and the contacts to pull something like this off, but again it was over thirty years ago.” She touched her chin with her right hand. “Hmm. Tariq might know. He was an intelligence agent in the region for many years. If there’s something to know, he should know it. He should be at the local AEGIS base. He says he sleeps better in a barracks than a hotel room, and he might run into a few old friends if he’s lucky.” She glanced at a wall clock. “I have to meet the mayor shortly. You said you were coming along?”

Share this post


Link to post

"Sounds like we'd better split up," commented Edge. He knew Nina would behave herself during a serious situation like this, so he didn't make any comments about not bending the city to her will while they were apart. 

 

"I'll speak with Tariq," said Monsoon with a nod. "You should go see the Mayor, darling." Between the two of them, Edge was a better bodyguard - even if he had to admit that was mostly a matter of luck. 

 

"Need me to pop you over there?" asked Edge, for whom a city's worth of distance was no concern at all. He'd never actually been to Freedom's AEGIS base, true, but he was eternally confident that a little luck would get the two of them there without any trouble. 

 

"No, I'll fly. Good luck," she commented to Edge and Zheng, giving the former a peck on the cheek, before making her way to the roof of the building and beginning an acrobatic journey from rooftop to rooftop above the city. 

 

"Are we ready?" inquired Edge of his host. "I am when you are." 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Monsoon was gone quite quickly. Rivera had to run to catch her, and only managed it on the roof. “Monsoon!” When the heroine turned around, she flashed a smile. “Ms. Zhang rarely works with AEGIS, so she wouldn’t know. I’ve been there a few times, working with UNISON. 23rd floor. Whole thing is theirs. Take the elevator, though. Stairs are locked from that side.” She looked vaguely uncomfortable relating the last line. “Want me to tag along? AEGIS and local LEOs are handling security for Ms. Zhang in Freedom, and I am supposed to liaising with the two of you, anyway. Or I could just go with Edge. Your choice.”

 

Zhang shrugged. “Just let me gather a few things.” She shrugged on her coat from a nearby rack. One of assistants lent a hand and then she shooed both of them away. She picked up her purse and slung in over her left shoulder. “That should about do it. We weren’t going to discuss work, anyway. Apparently he’s a fan of mine. We were going to meet in City Hall, and then head out. Did you have a better plan, Edge?”

Share this post


Link to post

Monsoon agreed, rising from her position on the roof where she'd been crouching for her initial leap across the rooftops, and headed back downstairs ahead of Rivera. Privately she thought that Edge was more likely to need a minder than she was; but she was doing her best to make nice with the Freedom City law enforcement personnel. "Thank you," she instead said politely. "I'm sure you'll be a great help. Tell me," she said before they got there, "you must know Agent Tariq's career very well." 

 

-

 

"Nope, I'm good!" said Edge with a reassuring smile. A moment later, the two of them disappeared in a noisy flash of light and sound - reappearing with a blue-white zap on the front steps of Freedom City's City Hall. As people took out their phones to snap pictures of the superhero and his escort, Mark waved as he led the way inside the building. "Don't worry," he reassured the diplomat, "they're not gonna get us here. People usually think I must have some kind of master plan, so they start looking for that, and boom, that's when I get 'em!" 

Share this post


Link to post

Rivera looked thoughtful. “I don’t know if I’d say that much.” They walked back into the building and towards the elevators within. “He’s taught me a lot of things I would have never learned in Interpol. Nobody with my security clearance can see his file. And nobody higher will talk about where he came from. Only thing I know is that before he joined UN Security he was an intelligence agent stationed in Asia.” She flashed a impish grin, finally cracking the display of utter professionalism she’d been using up until this point. “Though, UNISON didn’t exactly recruit me for my combat skills. I’m not the Raven as far as detective skills go, but I do better than most.” They stepped onto the elevator, and Rivera pushed the button. “Funny thing. Tariq is in his late forties at least, but Tariq al-Rabadi only started existing 25 years ago. Before that, somebody moved heaven and earth to bury who he used to be.”

 

They arrived on the 23rd floor and stepped off the elevator. “I asked why his past was such a secret once, too. He said, and I quote, ‘Everyone has things in their past they’d like to forget. I simply have a few more than most.’ He looked…well, old when he said that.“ The reception desk was ahead, but Rivera paused. “Don’t get me wrong, though. I trust him with my life. Whoever he was, that person is long gone.” She stepped over to the reception deck. “Buenos dias, Estelle. You remember Tariq al-Rabadi, don’t you? Is he here?”

 

*************

 

Her name was Zara, and disguising herself was impossible. Her hair was a shade of light blue, her skin the chocolate brown of someone from Southeast Asia. Which, as a matter of fact, was exactly where she was from. It had not been easy to get here. Her poor English had proven a severe handicap. She was supposed to have been support for Brigitte, backup in case things didn’t go as planned. Not that the girl had known. The Director kept many secrets. However, a teenage girl who spoke little English and was obviously a bit lost had proven to be an irresistible lure to the do gooder hearts of several bystanders and, in the end, a pair of police officers. Fortunately enough, she’d been able to bluff her way out of a well meaning meeting with Immigration. And Yumiko’s information was good. The target appeared in a flash of light in front of the eatery. Brigitte was here, as well. The girl had lost her nerve before, but Zara’s appearance had put her at ease. Shortly they would assault this…Southern Queen, as Brigitte had pronounced it, and put an end to the target the flashy way, as they had been doing across Asia. She pulled out her bow and knocked an shining blue arrow that quite literally hadn’t existed a moment before. She shot the side of the building, and instantly several city blocks were turned from the mild winter Freedom was experiencing to one straight out of the Arctic Circle.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...