Confrontation II: The Reckoning
[A/N: These epilogues beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]
Epilogue One: After Action
Director Piggot's Office
"I'm going to be absolutely honest with the three of you." Emily sat and looked over her desk at the three Wards facing her. Each showed signs of the events of the last few hours; their costumes were damaged here and there, and the way they held themselves indicated a few aches and pains.
Clockblocker nodded. "Yes, ma'am, I know we screwed up, but I'm team lead. It was my fault."
Emily raised her eyebrows. "Might I suggest you wait until you've heard what I had to say?" Mentally, though, she awarded him marks for responsibility.
"Yes, ma'am. Sorry, ma'am."
She nodded to acknowledge his words. "Shadow Stalker, you were a problem child even before the event with Buzz." She didn't have to elaborate which event that was. "But you weren't quite enough of a problem, or more accurately we didn't know the extent of your problematic behaviour, so you got to skate on that one. Afterward … well, Buzz was the only reason you got any kind of a pass from me after that. Clockblocker, you were a problem of a different kind. Starting with your name, then going on with your attitude. You were a goof-off and a discipline problem. Buzz, you wanted to be a hero, but after your initial fight with Lung, I thought you were going to be far too tentative to make it." She slapped her hands on the desk. "But you all managed to surprise me."
The Wards before her didn't quite dare to comment on her statement. Their masks hid their faces, but she could still read the wtf did she just say? in their body language.
"Clockblocker, you've shaped up as a leader." Her tone was crisp, professional. "Buzz, you've shown you can take the initiative and make hard choices. Shadow Stalker, you've gone a very very long way toward redeeming yourself. You and Buzz are the most effective hero partnership in the city, aside from perhaps Assault and Battery. The three of you also work well together. Today, you showed that in spades."
Again, silence fell, broken only by Clockblocker's hesitant voice. "Uh, Director …?"
Emily didn't smile very much, except under special situations. This was such a situation. "Today, you saw a situation coming, reacted to it, and saved many lives. You made the Wards, and thus the PRT, look good. I am very proud of you."
This time, Clockblocker knew what to say. "Thank you, ma'am." One at a time, Buzz and Shadow Stalker echoed his sentiment.
"You're welcome." Emily waved vaguely at the door. "You can go now. I've still got your mess to clear up."
"Yes, ma'am." Clockblocker led the way to the door. "Thank you, ma'am."
Now for the sting in the tail. "Oh, and Shadow Stalker?"
The black girl froze halfway out the door. "Uh, yes, uh, ma'am?"
"If Grue ever shows an interest in joining the Wards, I would not be opposed to the idea." Emily dropped her eyes to the paperwork on her desk. "Close the door on your way out."
As the door clicked shut, she allowed herself a shark-like grin. That should keep them on their toes.
End of Epilogue One
Epilogue Two: Freedom
Mr Pitter stood next to Dinah on the walkway overlooking the assembled mercenaries.
"Tell them what you told me," he said.
Dinah cleared her throat. "Coil is gone," she said. "He won't be coming back here, ever. Also, anyone who's still here in exactly one week … dies."
As the mercenaries dispersed, Trickster came over to where they were standing. "You're serious about this."
"As serious as I can be," Dinah replied.
"Fuck." Trickster shook his head. "This is going to piss everyone off."
Mr Pitter shrugged helplessly. "I can't solve everyone's problems. I can barely solve my own."
As Trickster moved off, Mr Pitter looked at Dinah. "Come on," he said. "Let's go."
She nodded seriously. It was time to go home.
End of Epilogue Two
Epilogue Three: Awakening
Brockton Bay General Hospital
… beep … beep … beep … beep …
Amy didn't register the fact that she had a visitor. Two days now, and Vicky still wasn't responding. Her body was still healthy and her brain active, but she just wasn't waking up.
"Hey, Amy. Came as soon as we could."
A chair was pulled up alongside her, and someone sat down. When an arm went around her shoulders and pulled her close in a hug, she looked around in surprise. "What—?"
"Wow, you really were out to it." Buzz, with her scary bug mask replaced by a domino, grinned at her. Behind her, Shadow Stalker stood discreetly in the background, similarly remasked. "How long have you been here?"
"Since she got hurt." The words were jerked out of her. "I'm gonna stay here 'til she wakes up."
"Oh. Right." Buzz looked a little lost for what to do.
Not so Shadow Stalker. Rounding the bed, the dark-clad Ward grabbed Vicky's shoulder and shook her vigorously. "Hey! Dumbass! Fenja bit the big one, so you can stop hiding in bed now! Wakey wakey!"
… beep … beepbeep … beepbeep …
Amy stared at Shadow Stalker then at the readout on the screen. "What did you do?"
"Took the initiative, duh." Shadow Stalker gestured at the now-stirring Vicky. "You're welcome."
Slowly, Vicky's eyes inched open. "Wha …?" she murmured. "Oh, hey, Ames. How long's it been?"
But Amy couldn't answer, as she was hugging her sister and crying too hard.
End of Epilogue Three
Epilogue Four: Curiosity and the Cat
Five Days Later
Outside Coil's Base
"Check it out," boasted Bradley. He led the way through the chain link gate and over to where a hatch was lying unlocked and open. "I found this when I was looking around for a hideout the other night."
Max looked askance at the sewer entrance, then sniffed fastidiously. "You have got to be kidding. I don't care if they are searching for us in every nook and cranny. We can locate a better place elsewhere."
"No, that's just for show. Wait'll you see what's down here." Bradley led the way down the steps, then along to where a barred gate had been just left swinging open. The smell was beginning to recede, which made Max look happier.
When they stepped through the final door into the massive underground base, Max's jaw honestly dropped. "Well, that's different," he finally managed.
"Oh, hell yes," agreed Brad. He pointed at a door along the top balcony. "That's someone's private office. Mine now. But there's a computer there, and you know I don't do those things."
Victor, his arm still in a sling, nodded. "I'll go have a look. Might be able to find out what happened here."
"You do that." Kaiser gestured to Menja, currently getting by with a crutch for assistance. "Go with him. See what you can find from any files. I want to know why this place was abandoned. James and I will see what else there is to be seen around here."
"Yes, sir." Menja hobbled after Victor, who courteously slowed his pace for her.
When they reached the appropriate door, Victor went in first, then gestured her in after he'd cleared the room. He seated himself at the high-end computer and pressed the button to turn it on.
While it was booting up, Menja looked around for any paper files, but came up blank. "Looks like whoever this is does everything electronically," she observed.
"It's a choice," he agreed. The computer beeped as a password prompt appeared on the screen. "Hmm … okay, let's see what happens when I do this." Instead of trying to guess at the passcode, he clicked on where it said, "Forgot your PIN?"
A small square of the screen in the upper right changed colour very slightly. Victor didn't notice.
The computer popped up a screen where he was led through various options for retrieving his PIN.
He was halfway through when the base self-destruct went off.
There were no survivors.
End of Epilogue Four
End of Confrontation II: The Reckoning
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