Lords of Chaos, Part Six: Musing

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(July 27th)

“How have you been?” There was a small gaggle of reporters around the arrival area of General Mitchell, but Karen Greene pushed through them easily as she led the way for her guests, pulling a suitcase in each hand. She grinned at Amber, glancing around. “Sorry about the press. They probably think there’s some big deal going on.” Glancing over at them, she gave a good bellow. “Can’t a girl meet some old teammates in peace?”

“Could you comment on…”

“No.” Rolling her eyes, Karen pushed through the crowd. The Champions followed close behind, with the Sayleen just behind them. Jhim gave a comforting squeeze of the shoulder to his companion, Shinn Zuki, who was looking more than a little intimidated at the focus being paid to her.

“Scuse me. No comment. Not interested.” Sighing, Lucky glanced over to Karen, who shrugged helplessly. A moment later, they were all piling into her van, which barely fit the six of them plus their luggage. Lucky, having grabbed the front seat, turned to his host. “What’s going on out there, Karen?”

Karen’s eyes were fixed to the road, where a portly man on the hood was in the process of trying to write out a question and plaster it to the windshield, his coat catching in the wind as he smiled down at the group and held up a pen hopefully. “Bloody vultures. They caught wind that there were Sayleen heroes coming down, and decided that it must have something to do with us.” She glanced apologetically in her rearview mirror. “I tried to get here quietly, but that’s pretty much impossible lately. Ever since our teams split last November, it’s been nothing but tabloids.”

“How’s that going?” Amber couldn’t help asking, leaning forwards as Karen gave up and started the car. The reporter finally rolled off, yelling something about the people’s right to entertainment. “Both your teams are going pretty strong, but…”

“I could throttle Lucy.” Karen glowered at the street. “I know we weren’t the best of friends, but all those years together…”

“Two years.” Amber interjected. Karen ignored her in favour of pressing on.

“We were the Trio, Amber. La Brea, Strategos, and Timebender. And now she’s on Mistral’s side, deliberately trying to ruin me.” She glared at the road. “Joe’s an idiot, he can’t help it, and Blindsight has no reason to side with me, but Lucy…” She broke off and sighed. “Where did I go so wrong? I really thought they’d have given up by now.”

In the back, Zuki spoke up softly. “Perhaps they it is a manner of honour?” Karen glanced back at her, and she promptly shrank back in on herself. “Perhaps not. I am not really versed in the situation.”

After an uncomfortable moment, Karen shrugged at the young Sayleen psychic. “Mistral might feel that way. I didn’t think Lucy did.” She sighed. “It might not be so bad if Kane didn’t keep handing our asses to us. At least he’s doing the same to Mistral’s crew, or I’d be about ready to throw in the towel.”

“How are the newbies working out?” Lucky asked delicately.

“Great, usually. Bloodline’s a master at nonlethal force, and Stormfront provides cover. Most enemies, we can handle no problem. But Kane…” She shook her head. “I dunno. He’s found himself more magic lately.”

“Always hated dealing with magic.” Amber said. “One of the things I liked most about Ecchs – he almost never touches the stuff.”

“Um…” Nadia said worriedly. Everyone except Karen, who was busy swerving around a slow-moving tractor-trailer, looked at her. “I was just thinking. The Oligarchs used to have magical support, back when they were Fear Force. They never got more, as far as we know. Now they’re coming here…”

The van was silent. Lucky and Karen looked at each other. Lucky said, “Is Malleus still the same as he used to be?”

“You mean, barely onside the Accords? Yeah. He gets cited sometimes.” Karen frowned at the road ahead. “The Oligarchs might be able to recruit him, if they wanted to.”

“He’s tough enough.” Jhim said. “And they’ve seemed weirdly focused on helping people who are old enemies the Champions.” He looked up at Lucky. “You used to be on his team. Are there bad feelings there?”

There was another awkward silence. Lucky looked down at the dashboard. Karen turned her focus very deliberately to the road, and Amber winced. Finally, Lucky said, “Bad feelings? Yes. I would say that. I might go so far as to say murderous intent, in fact.”

“Really? You never mentioned that.” Nadia said.

“I don’t like to talk about it.” The edge in his voice forestalled any more questions. “Let’s just say that he would qualify as an old enemy, and leave it at that.”

“So, there’s our lead. If Dragonfly’s been seen here, there could be a connection.” Amber resumed smoothly.

Karen grinned. “You haven’t been here half an hour, and you’re already on the track.”

Amber smugly leaned back in her seat. “What can I say? We’re just that good.”

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