Part 1

1. Kate Charles

Derek looks around expressionlessly. He hasn’t said a word since we entered the place; it’s not the one I had intended to buy. That shyster showed me 221 Riverside, a lovely old fixer-upper next to the park by the old rail bridge. This is 122 Riverside, a half-destroyed warehouse on the edge of the old rail yard. That explains why the price was so reasonable.

Finally his gaze alights on me. “I love it, Honey.”

“What!?!”

“I said, I love it Honey. You’ve made an excellent choice.”

“But this isn’t the property I wanted! It isn’t even habitable by human beings!”

“You’re right of course, Dear. It will take some fixing up. But we’ll be fine.”

“Fine? Fine? What’s got into you, Derek?”

“When we married, it was ‘for better or for worse’, correct? Right now this looks like one of the ‘for worse’ moments, but we’re still together. You and me together, we can do anything.”

“Derek, we have no money to fix it up! It’s two weeks to the end of the month, and that’s when we have to give up our apartment! Where are we going to live?”

“We’ll find someplace, Kate. Everything will be fine.”

I burst into tears. My husband, ever the optimist. Why can’t he see just how bad things are? He holds me until I cry myself out.

“Are you all right now, Kate? I know this doesn’t seem very good, but let’s take a look around. Maybe there’s a bright side.”

Yeah. Maybe the building will collapse and kill us quickly. A half-hour’s searching turns up precisely one feature not visible from the street: a basement. Be still my beating heart. But Derek is acting like a kid in a playground.

“See Kate, the freight elevator still works!”

“How, Derek? This building hasn’t had electricity since the 90’s!”

“It obviously has some kind of internal generator. You know what that means: free electricity!”

“You could fall into a pile of shit and come up smelling like a rose, couldn’t you Derek?”

But he’s right, of course. Somehow this place still has power. I wonder what’s next.

Derek finds a hidden door in the basement. A short flight of stairs leads down to a small landing with a steel door and a high-tech handprint lock. Derek is grinning from ear to ear now.

“It’s still here! Jackpot!”

“What are you talking about, Derek? What’s still here?”

“You know how I told you my father died when I was ten and I grew up in an orphanage? Well, Dad was the Insidious Doctor Plasma. This is his old lair. I had to find a way to get the land without alerting the Justice Sentinels. That’s why I steered that real-estate swindler at you.”

The door opens to his handprint and he leads me inside. The first thing we see is an anteroom with a low table and a couple of teardrop chairs seeking refuge from the 1990’s. And the robot. It’s made of white plastic and chrome about the same size and shape as a linebacker and has the word ‘One’ written on its chest like a name badge. It appears to be watching us until I realize it’s not responding to our movement.

“Plasbot One here hasn’t worked since Lightning Lady zapped him. Burned out his power supply and every piece of electronics in him. The later models had better shielding. Dad kept him as a conversation piece. Isn’t he great?”

“Like we need a robot.” I’m a little more interested in the large-screen plasma TV on the opposite wall; it’s showing a nature scene, which is actually a nice touch.

Derek points out two sliding doors, one in either side wall. “To the right is the super villain lair and to the left is the living quarters. Which would you like to see first, Kate?”

“I’m not a super villain, Derek. Let’s see the living quarters.”

The main room of the living quarters is about double the size of our old apartment. It’s a big ell shape combining living room, dining room, and home theatre, all done up in an ultra-modern style that’s still classic today. I can’t help but whistle in appreciation. Derek looks around like this is totally normal.

“There’s three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, an exercise room with a pool, and a trophy room. Which would you like to see first?”

“Whoa, tiger. I’m still being impressed by this room.” I take a few minutes to just drink in the view, then finally let him continue the tour.

The kitchen is full-sized and includes a breakfast nook. Everything gleams like new. I steel myself to open the fridge: hopefully whatever was left in there 13 years ago has grown up and moved away. To my surprise it’s empty and clean. “Your Dad didn’t keep a lot of food around, did he Derek?”

“Oh no, the robots probably cleaned it out. We had domestic robots to do that sort of thing. Kind of like Number One in the entry, only not so imposing. I guess they’re all shut down at the moment. It looks like one of our first priorities is going to be to get food.”

Okay, get food I can handle.

Derek continues the tour with the bedrooms; one is a little boy’s room and another looks like a monk’s cell in a monastery. The third one, the master, looks like a cross between a 1960’s seraglio and a torture chamber.

“What the …?”

“This was my Mom’s room. Dad slept in the little one with the basic furniture. When Mom got taken out he kept the room preserved pending her return.”

“Who was your Mom, the Marquise de Sade?”

Derek chuckles at that. “No, she went by Mistress O’Payne. When I was seven she got turned into an infant by the Cosmic Ego. Dad said it was the best thing that ever happened to her.”

“Where is she now?”

“I don’t know. Dad wouldn’t tell me; he even erased it from the computer so I couldn’t find out. He said if she came back she’d come back, and if not she deserved a new life.”

“What did she do? Aside from S&M, that is.”

“She could affect people’s emotions by touching them. Nothing complex, but she could trigger intense bouts of the gut reactions: pain, terror, ecstasy, rage, that sort of thing. Very few people could resist her power, and then only partially. Ego said she was the most powerful super out there; that’s why he wanted to change her.”

“That’s sad. But given the time frame, that means there’s now a 16-year old girl out there with a dominatrix fetish and the power to control people’s emotions.”

“Probably not the fetish, dear. At least not until she discovers her powers. But what worries me is what’ll happen if she remembers this place and comes around for a visit.”

“Well, we’re not sleeping in the monk’s room or the kid’s room. Should we clear out some of the fetish furniture before tonight, or can you sleep with it in the room?”

“I can sleep with it, love. We can redecorate at our leisure.”

The bathrooms are flat-out weird. Rather than wallpaper or drywall, the walls are done up with mirrors. It feels a little creepy the first time I use the toilet, but the thought of showering with Derek in there is kind of a turn on.

The exercise room is more like a full gym with every piece of training equipment the 90’s had to offer, plus a few things I don’t recognize. Derek assures me they’re for training super powers. And there’s an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The only thing missing is a change room.

“Well, there were just the three of us living here. I probably saw some stuff kids shouldn’t see, but it was normal as far as I was concerned.”

“We’re putting in showers and change rooms.”

“Certainly, Kate. Anything for you.”

If the exercise room is a wonder, the trophy room is a shock. The Insidious Doctor Plasma and Mistress O’Payne both had long enough careers that they collected things. There’s a car in here, along with various weapons and super-gadgets. It’s pretty obvious which gadgets belong to whom. My eyes are repeatedly drawn to the Sacred Shaft of Kirrac-Nor; it’s one part scary and two parts fascinating. It had to be Mom’s, and it’s pretty obvious how it’s supposed to be used.

After the tour we sit down and relax in the living room; I can tour the lair later. This place is giving me lots of ideas, and only some of them are about decorating.

2. Leandra Moon

All my life I’ve had vivid dreams. Dreams about people who want me. Some of them want to hold me, others want to hurt me. Some want to lock me in a cage, others want to put me on a throne. I’ve gotten used to people following me in my dreams; it doesn’t scare me anymore. Unfortunately, tonight I’m being followed and it’s not in a dream.

I ended up staying late after school for music practice. Miss Jamieson says I’m a natural on the keyboard, and she’s helping me learn everything I can about music. Also, after everyone else has gone home she lets me practice rock instead of classical. She’s fun to be with and we sometimes lose track of time. At least my parents understand and keep some dinner waiting for me.

The walk home from school is kind of spooky at the best of times. It’s right next to a park full of willow trees that rustle even when there’s no detectable wind. And most of the streetlights in the park are out, too. I think the trees smash the bulbs when nobody is looking. It’s twilight: too dark to see clearly, but enough to tell that somebody is following me.

There’ve been a couple of stories going around recently about girls being assaulted in the park, so I’m doubly nervous. I decide to pick up the pace, and the shadow I’ve noticed behind me speeds up too. I can’t really see him, but he seems to be gaining on me. The rustling of the trees drowns out all but the loudest sounds, so the only time I can tell where he is is when I look back. Doing that just makes me more nervous.

I’m just past halfway through when I look back and don’t see the shadow. That’s it. I can’t take it; I start running flat out toward the welcome pool of radiance from the streetlight at the far end of the park. About five steps later I slam into someone.

“Whoa! Leandra, what’s up? Are you okay?”

It’s Jake. Jake Howe, from the football team. He’s a big sports hero and just about every girl in the school wants to go out with him. I’m one of the exceptions. I can’t tell whether his presence here is reassuring or scary.

“Jake? I’m okay, I just got spooked. I thought someone was following me.”

“Someone was: me. I saw you leaving the school and thought you might like an escort through Spooky Park.”

“And then I’d get all girly frightened and cuddle up close so you can grope me? Get real, Jake.”

“Leandra, Leandra. You know I like you. You’ve got such lovely auburn hair.”

“I’ll cut it off and send it to you.”

“And those fiery green eyes.”

“Somebody get me some eyeball pluckers.”

“And those beautiful firm …”

“I’ll have a mastectomy. Just stay away from me, Jake.” I try to push past him, but he’s not letting go. Instead he backs me up against one of the willows. I try to shimmy out but his grip is so firm I can’t budge.

“Come on, Leandra, just one kiss. Or better still, hike up that skirt and let me nail you to this tree.”

“No effing way, Jake! Even if I hadn’t promised my parents I’d stay a virgin until after marriage, there’s no way I’d lose it to the biggest male slut in the school!”

My words are more bluster than substance. He has me totally pinned. And the worst part is that my traitorous body is reacting. I’m starting to feel warm and part of me just wants to wrap my legs around him and …

“No!” I shout it more at myself than him. “Get off me!”

My knee comes up of its own accord. Good knee. He screams in pain and grabs his crotch. I knew hitting guys in the nuts hurt, but I never dreamed it would be so effective. While he lies on the ground writhing in pain I run all the way home.

3. Doug

I run down to the lair and get the Monitor fired up. Usually the Cosmic Ego does this stuff while I’m asleep, but tonight he’s popped into my mind early. I brush aside the chocolate wrappers that litter the workstation. No wonder I’m not losing weight as fast as I should be.

An Event! It’s been a couple of years since we had one. Looks like Capital City, which makes sense. That’s where the heroes are all packed together like sardines. That’s where things are bad.

“Douglas, hurry! I have to know what’s happening!”

“Don’t boil your ectoplasm, C.E. This thing takes time to focus.”

“Douglas, I chose you because you’re the best!”

“I am the best! But it takes concentration to focus the Omnicam! Leave me be!”

I work at it, manipulating the view from the ultimate virtual camera. Spy satellites plus local cams plus some special sensors I designed that are now a “safety feature” in streetlights around the country. Everybody assumes C.E. is omniscient; he’s not. He’s got me. I have the whole country under surveillance, except for parts of Montana and Alaska.

It takes a couple of moments for the image to stabilize. The girl’s in a gray zone with limited surveillance, but we’ve still got her. She’s running like a mad thing, terrified for her life. If she wasn’t younger than my son I’d say she was pretty hot. But then I look closer and the familiarity is there. Even after sixteen years I can still recognize her. “Ego, is that Mistress O’Payne?”

“The one and only. Her power has just manifested again for the first time. We’re going to be watching her tonight.”

“Oh, great. You know I’m still in trouble with Rhonda after the locker room incident.”

“That was two years ago, Douglas. And how was I supposed to know that was where the aliens would invade?”

“Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m turning over the body now. Don’t eat so damned many chocolates! I’m trying to lose weight.” I leave him a ration of three, but I know he’s not going to stick to it.

“But dark chocolate is sooo gooood.”

4. Leandra Moon

I burst in the door and run to my mother’s arms. She’s not my biological mom, but that’s okay. Her and Dad adopted me when I was, like, six months old.

“Leandra, what’s wrong? You look scared for your life!”

“It was horrible! I was walking through the park and Jake from the football team pinned me to a tree and tried to … to …” I can’t even finish.

“Oh my God! Are you all right? What did he do to you?”

“Nothing. I kneed him in the ghoolies like you taught me to. But he was going to …”

“And he went down?”

I nod.

“Where is he now?”

“Lying on the ground howling. At least that’s how I left him.”

“It’s all right dear, you’re safe now. Everything will be fine. I’ll just heat your dinner up and you can get some food in you. That’ll help you calm down.”

She starts the microwave and 75 seconds later there’s a plate of spaghetti in front of me. Mom leaves the room with that look, so I know there’s an interesting conversation with Dad coming. I eat as quietly as I can so I can hear them.

“Peter, you’re going to have to talk to Gary. It’s about Jake.”

“Jake? What about him? Did someone catch him throwing footballs into the next state again?”

“No dear, he tried to molest Leandra on her way home from school tonight.”

“He what? But I was there when Gary told him not to go near her.”

“Apparently Jake listens as well as any teenaged boy. He’s going to need some more powerful discipline I think.”

“Is Leandra okay?”

“Just scared. She, uh, used women’s self-defence on him.”

“And it worked? Jake’s invulnerable, just like his dad. Maybe even more. Unless …”

“That’s what I think. Leandra’s starting to manifest her powers.”

“Okay, Ann, I’ll talk to Gary. I think things are going to get complicated soon.”

Powers? I am totally shocked. Am I some kind of super hero? What kind of powers do I have? Will I be able to join the Justice Sentinels? Maybe I can fly! That would be so cool! But they knew about it and didn’t tell me. Is something wrong? Maybe I turn into some kind of monster. That would be awful! Unless I could use it in a rock show. Then it would be cool!

But this is something they haven’t talked to me about; probably something they’re ashamed of. It must be pretty serious; after all, Mom was pretty explicit in the sex talk a few years ago, and she’d seemed nervous then. If something about this is actually scaring her, it’s probably pretty harsh.

I was adopted. Maybe my parents were super heroes who died defending the earth. No, that wouldn’t scare Mom. Maybe my parents were super villains! Maybe they’re afraid I’ll go running off to join somebody on a crime spree. But now I’m jumping to conclusions. This calls for research. I’ll hit the internet and find out who was who when I was born. That’ll give me someplace to start. I finish off my food and head to my room on a mission.

I figure I’ll have to search online for hours, but I’m wrong. Ten minutes after starting I have a picture of my mother. She’s a super-slut in extremis, but it kind of looks good on her. No wonder Mom advised me to stay away from sex. Mistress O’Payne; even the name is a cheap pun. But there’s no mistaking it. She has the same auburn hair as me, the same green eyes, the same … frontal development. And dressed like that there’d be no shortage of guys willing to get her pregnant.

I print off the picture and go find Mom. Maybe with this as leverage I can get some answers.

“Mom, who is this?”

It sends a tingle up my spine when she turns white.

“Leandra dear, there’s something we’ve been trying to find a way to tell you, but …”

“She’s my mother, isn’t she?”

She relaxes. I guess she’s relieved now that the secret’s out.

“Actually dear, it’s not that simple. We don’t know who your biological parents are, but we know Mistress O’Payne is very closely related to you. The Justice Guardians found you on one of their adventures, and we volunteered to help them out by raising you.”

“You mean Lightning Lady and the Phantasm did.”

“No dear, I mean your father and I.”

“Mom, I used to play dress-up in your closet. Do you think I wouldn’t find the hidden compartment? Do you think I wouldn’t notice that none of the other kids’ parents would go to PTA meetings when you and Dad did, Or that the news would then report that some super-villain had been stomped? I’m not stupid.”

She sighed. “I guess I can’t exactly hide it from you, can I? Yes, I’m Lightning Lady, and your father is the Phantasm. The Justice Guardians rescued you from the ruins of Mistress O’Payne’s House of Tantalizing Tortures sixteen years ago. We couldn’t find your parents, so we raised you as our own.”

“And I have super powers?”

“We suspected you might. What happened with Jake tonight proved it. He’s Guardsman’s son, and he inherited his father’s super-strength and invulnerability. You shouldn’t have been able to even make him flinch.”

“So I have powers too? What kind?”

“If you’re like Mistress O’Payne, and the family resemblance is pretty strong so there’s a good chance, then you can inflict agonizing pain with a touch. Assuming you want to; it’s not likely to happen accidentally, since there’s a psychic component to the power.”

“So I can give people super-owies? That’s it?”

“It’s more handy than you think. Look what happened to Jake. His skin can stop a bullet, but he folded up after you kneed him. He shouldn’t even have felt it. And there are other facets to your power as well.”

“Other facets? What else can I do?”

“Well, it’s not just pain you can amplify. You can also amplify fear, happiness, unease, contentment, any of the visceral emotions. But you have to touch someone to do it.”

“That is so cool! Thanks Mom!” I give her a big hug, wishing all the happiness I’m feeling right now on her. That’s a good use for my power.

Her face gets a really funny look and her eyes roll upward. She’s having some kind of seizure! She starts breathing in little tiny gasps and her heart races. I could swear somebody’s zapping her repeatedly in the lower back with a taser the way she’s twitching. Her hands grab the couch in a death-grip and she goes stiff everywhere. After one long moan she collapses and starts breathing heavily.

“I think … it’s time we … had the second … part of that … sex talk.”

“There’s a second part?”

She pauses for a couple of moments to catch her breath.

“Yeah. I told you about all the risks so you’d know what you were getting into. Do you mean to say you haven’t tried anything?”

“No, you guys said not to. Was this one of the times I was supposed to rebel?”

“Yeah. You were supposed to explore your sexuality behind our backs. That’s how it’s done.”

“So all that self-control?”

“Is more than I had at your age. You really haven’t done anything? Not even kissing?”

“I didn’t want to be tempted. Okay, so what just happened to you?”

“It’s time to tell you about orgasms, Dear.”

5. Derek Charles

It takes us a couple of days to move our stuff over. We get our clothes and some personal effects, but decide to leave the furniture for Mrs. Walsh. With a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease the place is ready in no time. Now she can rent it out as furnished, which means more money. I even suggest she rent it out for short-term executive housing, which she likes even better. As we take the last load down I find I can’t help but whistle a happy tune.

“Why so cheery, Derek?”

“Well, Beloved, I think Mrs. Walsh is going to take my suggestion and make the place into an executive suite. She likes the money.”

“Why should we care? It’s not our home anymore.”

“I found a few things in the lair and installed them in the apartment. Mind control devices, actually. Each person who sleeps in the main bedroom for more than one or two nights will become pliable to our commands. We can build an army of thralls.”

“Thralls with money, Dear.”

“Precisely. Then we can call them up and bleed them dry.”

“I have another idea. Would you like to hear it, Derek?”

“Of course, Love. We are partners. Equal partners in everything.”

“Rather than bleed them dry we can just milk them a bit when we need some cash. They stay rich, and we have a regular supply of income. Sort of like having an extra bank account.”

“Brilliant Kate! You always were the practical one; that’s what I love about you.”

“Of course, Derek.” She smiles and squeezes my hand.

6. Leandra Moon

I approach the school with new confidence. It’s not that I know more about sex today (I do; as usual, Mom’s talk was really detailed), it’s the fact that I know I have super powers. There’s something about being able to mop the floor with anyone in the building, including the super-jock who hides his powers, that makes it a lot easier to face the horrors of high school.

Kids are staring at me as I come in, and some of them are whispering. It’s not hard to figure out why. I find Jake by his locker with a bunch of friends, talking about last night and how he made me scream for more.

“Jake Howe!”

“Leandra, it’s so nice to see you again. I was just telling people about how we…”

“Put a sock in it, Jake, you know that didn’t happen except in your imagination.”

“Says you. I say you put out like a nympho. Who do you think people are going to believe?”

I stride up until I’m about a foot from him. He’s two inches taller than me and like double my weight. He takes my shoulders in an iron grip and leans in close. “Try it again, girl. I’m ready for you this time.”

“Paws off, Jake!” My knee comes up again, and he goes down again. Psychic damage isn’t stopped by a cup, no matter how invulnerable it is. I put my foot on his head. “Better look up my skirt now, Jake, it’s the only way you’re ever going to get a chance.” As I storm away I have to suppress a smile as the muttering starts. I’m the girl that took Jake Howe down a peg.

7. Kate Charles

I’m admiring myself from all angles in the bathroom when Derek gets home from work. The door’s not closed so he looks in. His jaw drops open, his eyes just about pop out of his head and I can see another reaction starting.

“Kate, that looks … “

“Nice?”

“No, sort of the opposite of nice.”

“Nasty?”

“That’s not quite right either. I never really paid attention to Mom’s super-suit as a kid. Now it’s … well, it’s a little warm in here.”

“Only a little?”

“Okay, a lot.”

“Good boy. Now take off those bulky clothes, come over here and kneel in front of me, and tell me in exquisite detail how you’re feeling at this moment.”

I don’t see how Mistress O’Payne needed powers to defeat anyone. I’m really beginning to like her.

8. Jake Howe

“Dad, you don’t understand!” I slam the door on the way out. I’d asked him about Leandra and how she’d managed to hurt me. He told me everyone has his Achilles’ heel, and that she was mine. Then he told me to stop thinking with my short hairs and to stay clear of her. Again.

The problem is she’s just so effing gorgeous. I practically get a woody when she walks in the room. No, let’s face it. I do get a woody when she walks in the room. All the other girls are like groupies, but she’s the real thing. Even when I’m flattening some poor linebacker on the field I wish she were watching me.

But it’s even worse if she is watching. She’s come to a total of one game this semester, and I spent so much time trying to impress her that Dad gave me a full dressing down afterwards. He said I was starting to look too super. How do I look too super? What’s the point of having these powers if I have to keep them secret?

I fly up about 500 feet to get some space. It’s not my fault my Dad’s the Guardsman, and that I inherited his powers to the enth. He can leap half a mile, I can fly. His skin is bulletproof; I held a stick of dynamite while it went off. At least Mom didn’t ask about the shirt. He’s seen me stop a locomotive with my bare hands; I didn’t tell him I can pick it up and throw it without breaking a sweat. Why did I get cursed with all this awesomeness?

And then there’s Leandra. Other girls have hoofed me in the groin before and I barely noticed. I mean, I do get the hint. A physical attack is a sure sign that no means no, and I’m no rapist. But Leandra does it and I’m on the ground wishing my parts would fall off. Twice! Is this some Samson and Delilah thing? God, I think I’m in love.

But I can’t think about her. Whenever I do I get so pumped up I can’t control my powers; they just sort of come on at maximum. The last time I saw her walking by at practice and threw a pass that Hawk tracked to Newfoundland before losing it. That’s the kind of stunt thinking about Leandra makes me pull. Being sixteen sucks!

I swoop down to ground level and jog. I have to get to practice, and not look ‘too super’ doing it. Whatever the hell that means.

9. Kate Charles

“Kate dearest?”

“Yes, Derek?”

“Are you happy with our lives? I mean, are you truly happy?”

“Of course I am. Why do you ask, Honey?” In fact, I think moving here was the best decision we’ve ever made. Even though Derek was a bit sneaky in making me think it had been some kind of horrible mistake, I’ve already forgiven him.

“Well, living in the old place has brought back a lot of fond childhood memories. It’s also got me thinking. Maybe I should give up my job at the shipping company.”

“Give up? What’s wrong, Honey?”

“Well, business is way down at the moment because of the recession, and Jefferson’s asked the junior managers to nominate a sacrificial lamb. The one who takes the layoff will get a package, but Stephen’s just had a second daughter and Mary’s husband left her. We’re going to meet about it tomorrow to make the final decision.”

“But Derek, are you sure we can manage? I mean, since I was let go by the ad agency my income’s been nil. Without your paycheque we’ll have no income at all.”

“I don’t know, Dear, I could make a few phone calls …”

We share a hearty laugh. This will be the first real test of the mind-control devices installed in the old apartment. We could take a little bit from each of the four executives that have stayed there so far, maybe a hundred thousand each. That should hold us for a while.

“Are you sure we want to go down this road, Derek? A life of crime isn’t something you can simply give up when it suits you. There’s police and such.”

“Don’t worry, Kate, I’m not going to make the same mistakes Dad did. I won’t be dressing up in a silly costume and threatening to blow up the city or anything. Just a quick transfer of funds from their secret offshore bank accounts to our secret offshore bank account.”

“I suppose, Derek. But don’t be too quick to disregard the costume thing. I think you’d look pretty good in spandex. And just thinking of the potential danger is getting me aroused. Maybe I could put your Mom’s costume on again and you could take me prisoner.”

“Anything for you, Kate. Anything.”

10. Hawk

I look at the readout. I’ve been watching this property for a while; I watch every property that runs a high risk of being involved in a crime. There’s nothing special about 122 Riverside, except that it had a reputation as a clandestine meeting place for drug deals from 2000 to 2003. And it has some history; that’s where Plasma died. A yuppie couple, Derek and Katherine Charles, purchased it recently. They’ve never come onto my radar before.

The background check indicates that Derek was a runaway who got put into the system back in Y2K; nobody found any parents and the kid said they were dead. They took him at his word and he was raised by the State. He recently got laid off by Advanced Imports due to the economic slowdown. Looks like he took a bullet so his two co-managers could keep their jobs. Bravo him.

Katherine was raised in the city by her father. Mother was caught in the crossfire between the Sentinels and Earthshaker when Kathy was thirteen. She was a bit of a wild teenager, but settled down around age twenty. She worked at an ad agency until she was fired based on a particularly raunchy ad campaign for baby crackers. I check out some of the mock-ups. Heh.

Their bank accounts check out, except that she gets weekly transfers from the Caymans. A lot of people do business that way. It’s not my job to rout out tax evaders. The only red flag is that they’ve dropped off the grid. I’ll keep my eyes open, but I don’t expect much. Priority five.

Now this one’s a problem. Leandra Moon has manifested her powers. Took down Guardsman’s boy. Twice. Serves the little prick right, but we’d better be damned sure her memory isn’t coming back. My tap on her internet connection shows that she did some searching on the old fights, and pretty quickly found herself. What could we expect, though? O’Payne may have been a sadistic bitch, but she was never stupid.

The e-mail from Lightning Lady this morning clarifies things a bit. She knows about her powers and thinks she’s O’Payne’s daughter. Good. As long as she doesn’t try to find mommy and notice the holes in the story. I still don’t know why that asshole Ego decided to give her a second chance, or why the Sentinels went along with it. Monitoring her moves up to Priority two, effective immediately. I draft a quick e-mail to Peregrine, telling her to get closer. You know what they say: keep your friends close.

Contents - [ Part 1 ] - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9

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