Simple Choices: Part 11

Kayla laughed, “You haven’t spent half the time talking to him that I have. At least he’s respectful to you. He thinks I’m some kind of no name peon.”

I couldn’t imagine what he said to her that made the way Major Justice treated me seem respectful.

She looked down at her phone, “Oh, and he’s gone. I guess he wanted to sneer at me one more time before they attacked.”

Cassie’s eyes narrowed, “You didn’t tell me he was being nasty to you.”

Raising her left hand, Kayla said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not like he’s the first. Some of the older supers see a 22 year old girl on the comm and assume I have to be an intern. The better ones are like C—genuinely good to me. There aren’t a lot of jerks.”

Meeting Kayla’s eyes, Cassie said, “I’m going to punch that guy into next week.”

With a shake of her head, Kayla said, “Don’t. That’s what I didn’t want. It’s already tense between us and him. I don’t want to make this worse.”

Adam let out a breath, giving a snort, “Too late now. If the Nine gave him an order, he’ll find a way to justify it. It doesn’t matter what we do.”

“It does matter,” Daniel’s quiet voice cut through the silence. “Unless the Nine have stripped him of any decision making ability in this situation, he can still decide how hard he’s going to go. If we can lower the tension, it will still be better.”

Giving a shake of his head, Adam said, “I doubt it. If the Nine got their hooks into me, no matter how little it was, they got a lot more into them. Fairies can sneak into anything. From what I’ve been told, the Nine have the Coffeeshop Illuminati under their thumb and it’s not one person, it’s everybody. They’ve got a bunch of the small teams and solo heroes and from what I’ve seen, I’d be surprised if they didn’t have a few of the Defender units completely sewn up—which means not only access to Defender intelligence databases, but the ability to feed information into those databases.

“I don’t think anybody knows how deep the rabbit hole goes when it comes to their influence even on supers.”

Kals frowned at Adam, “Take it from someone who knows more than you do about how controlling your assets works. You want to give them as much freedom as you can. If they notice they’re being controlled, it’s possible to fight it. When they don’t know you’re controlling them, they only think about how best to do it.”

Staring at her, Adam said, “You’ve done a lot of that?”

The corners of Kals’ mouth widened, “I was trained at the best schools the Human Ascendancy has to offer motivators before we went into hiding. The Human Ascendancy is a cesspit of intrigue and backstabbing. I know how to govern a planet and how to destabilize a government, how to organize a planet’s breeding program and how to destroy one, how to infiltrate a rival faction, and more. You’re lucky I’m on your side—or at least on Nick’s.”

Haley looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

I didn’t know whether she was responding to Kals’ obviously high opinion of herself or the fact that she’d named me in particular. Probably both.

I shrugged. We’d talk about it later if it mattered to her.

Smiling at Kals, Jaclyn said, “I’d like to think you’re on my side too.”

Kals laughed, “Forever. I owe all of you—Cassie, Marcus, Katuk, and even Tiger.”

The dog had curled up next to the concrete wall of the locker room. He looked up when she mentioned his name.

Looking around, Adam had to guess that he didn’t know the whole story. He didn’t try to get it either, “Look, all I’m saying is that the Nine are going to use their tools to go all out against you. Expect a scorched earth policy from every direction. I’m not going to argue specifics. We need to figure how we’re going to hold them off and how we’re going to win. I expect to be at war by tomorrow at the latest.”

Daniel nodded, “He’s right about that. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but it’ll be soon.”

Without knowing even what I’d say, I began to open my mouth and then my phone rang, showing Stephanie as the caller.

I stood up, walking away from the break area as the conversation continued without me as I took the call.

Breathing heavily, Stephanie said, “We’ve got our marching orders. I’m grabbing my go bag from my room. I don’t know where I’m going to be tomorrow, but Bullet just made a speech about how the Nine have infiltrated all corners of society and how sometimes it’s our duty to fight even if we have to fight friends. We’re going to save the country, ourselves, and even those we’re fighting—which means that if we’re not fighting you, I don’t know where we’re going.”

I couldn’t argue with her logic—especially since it was the exact opposite of the actual situation, “Crap. Do you know who’s involved?”

“All of us,” Stephanie said, “but I’m sure you guessed that. All of Major Justice’s friends in the Defenders for sure because Bullet mentioned them. I don’t know who else, but Bullet mentioned that we have support in the super community—big guns. He didn’t give any details.”

“Huh,” I tried to think of anything worth asking. She’d covered when (now), who (all of Major Justice’s friends plus a mystery supporter), and what (an attack). How and where they’d attack probably hadn’t been revealed yet.

“That sucks,” I added.

“It does suck,” Stephanie replied. “It also plays the jade flute, inhales the oyster, and eats the chicken.”

“I’m forever in awe of your command of sexual euphemisms,” I told her, hoping that meant that there was no possibility that she’d been turned.

“I do what I can,” she said, the amusement disappearing from her voice. “I think we can all use a laugh or two right now, but… I have to go. Good luck. Check your security systems. Bullet didn’t tell us where we were going, but he said he knew the way in.”

The call ended, leaving me standing about ten feet from the rest of the team’s conversation with Adam.

I stood there for the moment, wondering which version of the anti-voice buzzer Stephanie was using. I’d reconnected with her after my trip to Hideaway, which meant that she had to have the most recent design.

She should be safe.

3 thoughts on “Simple Choices: Part 11”

  1. You’re lucky I’m one your side or at least on Nick’s.”
    one => on

    because they Bullet mentioned them

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