Price Threefold, Chapter 30- Cecelia

RegretGuiltHesitation. Chloe looked at Domenic, begging forgiveness for something Dom didn’t blame her for.

After a little while, he continued. “We suspect he, Starfall, or someone working for them killed my mother.” HateDisgustUncertain. “It’s the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence, but if my powers are a Mark of Cain, it would explain a lot. However, I’ve also checked and found no registered heroes or villains from that era which had any sort of metal control powers. Marks are supposed to take after their original, right?”

UncertainHope. Chloe spoke, despite her pain. “Usually, but not always. Maybe it’s because you rejected the first offer?” Now she took the moment to look at me. “That’s also when we got healed, and had our rematch.” SheepishUncomfortable. “I, uh, guess you know the rest.”

I kept my ears on the sirens and dipped into my Fate-sense, to give me some idea when the cops would show up. We had another minute at most, no more.

“Well, that’s quite the story.” I stood and stretched my arms behind my back, hard enough that it hurt a little. My thoughts went to my own father, the bastard. And then I killed him. “You know, work a bit of bestiality and some mind control in there, and we’d have ourselves the making of an excellent opera.” It was a line I heard from a gangster movie I’d seen a thousand times as a kid.

IndignationSurprise. Domenic looked at Chloe, who was about to cry from the story. SupportLongingFocus. He turned his attention back to me. “You don’t seem bothered by any of this.”

I’ve been through a whole lot worse. “Am I supposed to be? All you told me is you didn’t get a choice in who your parents were. I get it, my own old man wasn’t father of the year material, either. The important part is that the scary villain gang we’ve been breaking one piece at a time won’t fight back. Sucks that they won’t be a challenge,” and the two of you won’t learn how to fight for real because of it “but these new guys might have sharper teeth.”

PainIncredulityHope. “Y-you still think we can take them?” I could feel Chloe pulling away from her own pain, both emotional and physical, wanting to become better. Good, that’s what you should focus on: how strong we are. SupportProtect.

We could have destroyed them, if you weren’t afraid. “Well, yeah.” I couldn’t understand why they didn’t see how strong we were. “I knew that even before finding out Fate has ordained you beat them.”

ConcernCaution. Chloe looked at Domenic, who pushed calming emotions back to her. I could feel them pass through me like I swallowed something warm.

“Fate is just another excuse, nothing more. Success comes from hard work and talent, not some vague mystical notion of predestination.” RejectionCertain. He stared me down, daring me to argue. “Still, what makes you think we’re so capable of beating Heritage? Even in this fight, Plasma almost…” he trailed off, afraid to admit what happened.

You’re both cowards and morons, that’s why. “She got hurt after getting ambushed by two powerful enemies. This isn’t some shitty show or game where you move on to scarier threats every new plot arc. In the real world, scouts are elite forces. They’re the strongest, best trained, scariest fuckers on the block, and we could have destroyed them all with” if you’d just fight for real “a bit of planning.”

UncertainAgreement. “I thought you said on the roof that they weren’t strong if they need guns.”

“Compared to us? They’re not.” What I said was true, and they knew it. “And who does Heritage have that’s a challenge to us? Salamander went down like a bitch. Myriad slowed you down for like a minute. Quash counters me, but either of you won’t have much trouble, and all I need is a Molotov and some idea how far up his power reaches. We can’t catch Echo, but she can’t hurt us, and neither can Saw. Parapet hides behind a wall, and all Survivalist does is teach people weapons that still can’t hurt us. They don’t even have a Gadgeteer! I might be scared of Stonewall, without our Pairbond boosts. All they have is a whole lotta nothin’.”

UnderstandingAcceptance HesitationUnsure. Chloe agreed with me, but Domenic was more stubborn as always. “Okay, so that’s a few good points, but I’m still not convinced.” I didn’t mind when he used that brain of his to come up with ways to help us win, but right now he was starting to annoy me.

Fine, let’s try a different approach. “I was wondering how Heritage could be as successful as they were. Most of them are only upper-mid tier who get by on rep and mundanes rather instead of real firepower. Having a billionaire backer and a Fate-controlling mole in the police explains how they got to where they are now. Thanks to Starfall, they got to enjoy being big fish in a small pond for a long time, but the floodgates are open now.”

Domenic looked around at all the bodies. DisgustHate. “Floodgates is one way to describe what happened tonight.”

Exactly! “This is them throwing everything they had into one battle against an unestablished group of outsiders, and they only survived because we did the hard part.” HateGuiltFailure. Oh, shit, I’m pushing too hard. Draw it back.

“Once we found the right targets we were able to take both teams at the same time. And if we didn’t show, Heritage would have lost. Or at least broke even until this,” I held up the blue sword  that had not so long ago been in my gut. “Wound up in Quash. Queen’s off the board, why fight the knights and pawns when you can remove the king?” I knew nothing about how chess worked, but that was a line from a war movie about failing to assassinate Hitler.

PainLossRegret UncertainFocus. Domenic reached over and placed his hand on Chloe’s shoulder. “We won’t be doing any king removal.” Damn. “But we’re going to keep hitting their organization by any legal means we can. We’ll do the same for the opportunists. Going after families is not an option.”

That’s a lot less fun than I wanted. ReliefSupport. But they won’t give me a choice in the matter, and we’re about half a second from getting caught. In two long steps, I had my arms around Chloe and hugged her as hard as I could. SurpriseConfusionComfort. UncertainTerritorial. Oh, now you’re jealous, not a couple nights ago when you were ready to plow me through the floor of your truck.

Before he could say anything, Eldritch dropped down through the ceiling. “This is the police! Stay where you are!” Just as planned.

A shimmering orange mist worked its way down through the ceiling. She was looking around us, as a good cop should before calling in the mundanes, which proved she had no superhuman senses at all, not even night vision.

“Hello, Eldritch,” Domenic said. “You can call the others in, we think the building’s clear.”

She turned back to us. “What happened here?” While she had no physical body to speak of, Eldritch’s body language was just like a normal person’s. DisquietConcern. I wondered if it might be a clue that she had some sort of weakness, but I had no idea what that weakness might be. She still wasn’t able to touch us, just like we couldn’t touch her.

ReluctantAvoid. I kept my head on Chloe’s shoulder, pretending to comfort her while letting Domenic handle the talking; he was best at it, anyway. “We were patrolling the city, looking for stashes of weapons or drugs like we always do, and we saw what looked like a deal going on.”

“Which you decided to drop in on rather than calling in to the cops?” Eldritch did not approve.

“Didn’t have time,” he said. I could tell by the hesitation in his emotions that he was looking for a way to phrase it which didn’t set off a truthsayer. “We landed on the roof to get a closer look and make the call, but it turns out this wasn’t a deal, it was a fight between Heritage and some other gang.” FailureDisgust. “We were trying to save lives.”

“Landed on the roof?” By now, footsteps and beams of light had started approaching the ramp to our level. Either Eldritch gave them an all-clear sign, or they came up without one. I quick dip into the Fate-threads showed she was ready to shout a warning if there was still danger. Plus something else I couldn’t put my finger on. “I was under the impression your tracking method could be used at a range of several miles. Why would you be so close in the first place?”

SuspicionCaution RelianceNow. Of course, I’m the Gadgeteer, this is my part of the show. I turned my head, but kept hold of Chloe. AnnoyedJealous. If I’d known Domenic would get this upset, I woulda done it sooner. “You’re surprised to learn it’s easier to find thousands of tons of metal in the middle of an empty ocean than it is to find a few pounds of metal shaped like guns in a city made of metal?”

Eldritch paused a moment, probably memorizing the new weakness I just told them about. “I would like to take you three to the station for further questioning about this incident.”

SuspicionFocus. “A-are we under arrest?” Chloe’s skin warmed as she used her power to distort her voice. She had to, to hide how bad the damage was.

“No, you’re not,” she said. “Now, while it’s against policy to reveal any detail of any police investigation to independent Imbued, I think it’s obvious an investigation will occur. We would like to get your statements on record before your memories start to fade. I don’t think I need to explain how important your testimony might be.”

FrustrationAcceptance HesitationTrapped. Dammit, looks like we don’t have much choice in the matter. Domenic looked back at us, though he kept his armor looking at Eldritch. “I guess we have an hour, but any longer and we’re risking identities.” ApologyNecessity.

“Your cooperation is appreciated.” Eldritch drifted back some, as a couple other Imbued officers approached. One was an older man in a police uniform whose presence distorted Fate in strange ways. The other wore armor that looked like it was made from glass that was used to cut open a rainbow. “This is Seraph, he’s new to our department.”

The armored man stepped forward. “It’s good to meet you.” His costume made me wonder for a second if he was like Domenic, but with glass instead of steel. I could use my Fate-sense on him, but I couldn’t test it too much. The gold and silver of his armor and the two sets of birdlike wings made it clear he was pretending he was an angel. I hated him the moment I set eyes on him.

EmbarrassedAwkward. I liked Domenic’s hell knight look so much better, but Domenic didn’t seem to feel the same.

“Good to meet you, too,” Domenic said. “From what we heard, this city is going to need more heroes soon. But we can go over that at the station.” CautionProceed. We’ll have to be real careful how much we share.

Seraph nodded. “Yes, that’s probably for the best. If you’ll follow me, we can take you to the precinct.”

Seraph led us out the door as several mundane cops stood ready to open fire if they had to. Stupid, if we wanted to fight, there’s nothing they could do to stop us. We were split up once we got to the station, no doubt so they could see if we were lying to them about anything.

The room didn’t look like what interrogation rooms like I’d seen in the movies; the walls weren’t drab concrete with a single cheap light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and the chairs weren’t metal. Instead, they stuck me in a room with a cheap folding table and cheap plastic chairs, painted in the same cheap white that everywhere seemed to use. They should paint these rooms blood red, that’d screw with the criminals’ heads. The only part that matched what I’d seen in movies was the giant one way glass that looked like a mirror. I tried to see through it, but no matter how I changed my eyes, it remained a mirror to me.

The table wasn’t strong enough to hold my weight even without my armor, and I wouldn’t give the chair the satisfaction of holding up my ass, so I leaned against one of the walls.

It didn’t take long before Seraph came in, without the wings. He stopped to look at me for a second. “Aren’t you going to sit?”

“I like standing better, thanks.” Let the truthsayers figure that one out.

Seraph waited for a moment, then took another step forward. “I understand, no matter how I streamline my suit, it’s still bulkier than I’d like. How’s yours work? I put support braces in mine to let me rest while standing.”

What’s this about? “Aren’t you suppose to be asking me questions about the fight?”

Seraph wore a full mask, so I couldn’t figure out what his expressions were. I couldn’t even smell him, so his costume had to be air tight as well. “You’re correct. Now, you said that you tracked the metal of the guns, but got there mere moments before the fighting started? Your partner, Ballast, called in the crime while you and Plasma went in to engage first? Why is that?”

“We’re the fast ones.” That has to be part of our records. “Comes with being the big, slow guy.” Not that Domenic was slow for someone carrying solid ton of steel with him, but compared to me and Chloe he may as well have been a snail.

Seraph waited a few more seconds, maybe he had a lie detector in his armor or something. “I actually wanted to ask you why you didn’t call it in with your suit. Don’t you have an on-board communicator?”

“No, I don’t have a communicator.” I then remembered I wasn’t supposed to tell them anything about how my armor worked except what was already known. Hmm, Chloe told the reporter guy some stuff. Something about how my power works. “I use electricity, not cell phones.”

The room was so quiet I could hear some muttering through the sound proofing. I dipped my Fate-sense, and could tell they were irritated by something. Was it something I said? I decided I had to say more so they stopped asking questions. “Look, cell phones break when I use my power, that’s just how it works. I bet I could break every one in this building with a single hit, if I wanted.” Now that Chloe and I had managed to recharge our batteries, we could break a whole lot more than just the phones.

“I hadn’t realized your Tech was so destructive,” Seraph said. “My apologies. My Methodology is in fluid dynamics. It shouldn’t take too much effort to rig a system that lets you insulate sensitive electronics from your equipment, if we work together. Perhaps include a video recording system as well, which would be much more convenient for future interrogations. Recordings are far more reliable than human memory.”

“Or I could just tell you what happened like I said I would.” What is this guy’s malfunction? “Ain’t like it takes superhuman memory to know which supervillain’s ass you just kicked.”

“I’m sorry, I appear to be annoying you.” No shit, Sherlock. “Your Tech is fascinating, its energy field looks more like a single uniform device than a mechanical system. How does it work?”

“Like nunya.”

“What’s nunya?”

“Nunya business.” Can not believe he walked into that. “If you wanna check out my armor, you’ll have to peel it off of me.”



One thought on “Price Threefold, Chapter 30- Cecelia

  1. A/N- In the original version of the story, this was a Domenic chapter. A long Domenic chapter that has now been split more or less in half and made a Cecelia chapter- Because I wanted to show Seraph some more, dammit! I like his personality… or at least like writing it…

    Also… Cecelia steals most of her best sounding lines from extremely violent movies. In my original vision that was the defunct version of Threefold was to reveal that tidbit AFTER the big reveal where I ended the original version, much like the D&D game and a few other things here and there were meant to be post skip. The goal was for that reveal to be the one that made people go ‘wait a minute’ and go back to reread the story with that new information in mind. Because I do try to do one or two of those every book.

    Anywho… Turns out, it may have been easier to write a new chapter entirely than to break up, check, and edit as much as this chapter required.

    On the plus side, the next chapter’s a Domenic chapter, so the ~800 words I cut off from the original shouldn’t need near as much editing.

    Liked by 1 person

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