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Month: March 2016

Bonus – There Are Plenty Of Dangerous People In The World

“Well, that was unexpected,” the Celestial said, breaking the silence between them. “I really had hoped she’d survive.”

Miss Murder looked up from her phone, looking up at him with a curious expression on her face. He shook his head.

“Veronica’s dead,” he explained.

Miss Murder’s spirit fell at the news. She’d never been close with Veronica, but she remembered her well enough. Before everything changed, Veronica had been a spirited, enthusiastic girl, passionate and loud. It hadn’t surprised Miss Murder at all to learn Veronica was still in the city, surviving against all odds. It also wasn’t surprising to learn she was dead, but it was disappointing.

No surprises there, she typed into her phone, showing her partner. He nodded.

“Charlie killed her,” he said.

That was surprising. Charlie was a lot of things, but a murderer? Without reason? That was something she hadn’t been prepared for. Had she really misjudged her old friend that much?

What? Why?

“No idea,” he said. “They were talking, and then Charlie just… attacked her. Poor girl never stood a chance.”

That made even less sense. Charlie was calculating, almost insidious in her scheming. She planned things ahead of time, and there was always a reason for everything she did.

What were they talking about?

“Couldn’t pick up the audio,” the Celestial said. “The only camera that caught them is too low resolution to lip-read. Dammit, this is going to bug me all night.”

She knew it was curiosity, and not compassion, that was eating at him. It was part of what made him so effective at what he did, and why her trust in him was slowly eroding.

Does this change anything?

“Nothing significant,” he said, looking wistfully out the window. She knew he was using his power, comparing possibilities and glimpses of the future. “If Sabrina finds out, it’ll push up her conflict with Charlie. That’s… hmm. That’s actually something we should try to prevent. If Sabrina isn’t strong enough when she faces Charlie, she might not get another chance, and there isn’t anyone else who can.”

That was a frightening notion. She had first-hand experience of just how dangerous Charlie was, but the idea that Sabrina was the only person with the potential to actually challenge Charlie, to be able to truly stop her?

Miss Murder couldn’t think of anyone less qualified to carry the fate of the city.

How do we keep her from finding out?

The Celestial thought for a moment, quietly brooding. When he looked up, she knew she wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

“We’ll claim credit. She’ll be furious, and come after us instead. We can set up some challenges for her, make sure she’s ready for Charlie.”

And if she gets all the way to us you?

“I suppose I’ll deal with that if it happens,” he said calmly. “For now, I need you to go to the body. It needs to look like you killed her.”

Her hunch was right. She didn’t like his plan. Not one bit.

You want me to mangle a dead body?

“It’s either that or tell Sabrina to her face that you murdered her best friend.” He paused, reading her expression. “I’m sorry.”

Shaking her head, Miss Murder stood, and began to dress for the outing. It was pointless arguing with him, and even if she didn’t like his plans, she knew there was merit to them, at least to his end game. He had the potential, and the resources, to make a real difference in the city, and she didn’t belief he was so morally bankrupt as to turn into the cartoonish supervillain he gave the impression of being.

Fully dressed, she looked out the window, staring at a nearby rooftop. An instant later, she was standing on the rooftop. She blinked again, and she was on the ground.

It took her only a few minutes to cross the city and find the rooftop where her partner had spotted Veronica’s corpse. It was a pitiful sight.

It annoyed her that Charlie had just left the body lying here. Nobody deserved that indignity.

She crouched down, inspecting the body. There was no visible damage, just a lack of vitality. If she hadn’t seen the footage, she’d easily have believed the girl had just suddenly stopped living. If only.

“You’re out late,” a familiar voice said, surprising her. She looked up to see Ami standing in the doorway that led back into the building. Ami saw the corpse, and frowned. “Oh. Oh, dear. What happened here?”

Miss Murder said nothing as Ami approached, also crouching beside the corpse. She didn’t touch the body, but Miss Murder knew all too well Ami didn’t need touch to maintain a physical awareness of what was happening around her.

“Neck broken. It was a quick death, that’s no accident. Probably a mercy killing.”

That surprised her. A mercy killing? That implied Veronica was in pain, or suffering in some way. What did Ami know that she didn’t?

Mercy killing? she typed into her phone.

“Oh, you didn’t know? She was infected,” Ami explained, and Miss Murder recoiled. “This is probably better than what was going to happen to her.”

It shouldn’t have surprised her that Veronica had gotten infected. The probability of it was extraordinarily high. It just seemed wrong, somehow.

It didn’t matter. She was here for a reason, a rather unpleasant one.

She looked at Ami, and hesitated. Even though it shouldn’t have made a difference, she felt self-conscious with Ami present. After a moment’s reflection, she typed out another message.

You probably don’t want to be here for this.

Ami read the message, and shrugged.

“Whatever you’re going to do, I’m sure I’ve seen worse.”

Left with no other option, she sighed, and gently gripped the hair at the back of Veronica’s head. She pulled out her knife, and ran it across Veronica’s throat, using enough pressure to cut through the trachea. It felt awful.

Ami frowned.

“Now why would you do a thing like that? Did this girl slight you in some way?”

More than ever, Miss Murder was frustrated with her inability to speak. She was slowly learning sign language, but it was difficult, and still relied on other people to be able to understand it. Typing or writing was stilted and inefficient, and it made her feel disconnected from the flow of dialogue.

Instead of the pages of explanation she wanted to offer, her response to Ami was a single word.


“You… didn’t enjoy that, did you?” Ami asked, her tone unexpectedly tender. It caught Miss Murder off guard. “I’m sorry.”

Perhaps there was a chance Ami could understand more than just what was said. Was that possible? The woman was decades older, and literally came from another world. Miss Murder hadn’t seriously considered the possibility of a deeper emotional connection.

We weren’t close, but she didn’t deserve death.

Ami considered the message for several seconds before saying anything.

“You’re taking the blame for someone.”


“I won’t ask why,” Ami said, and Miss Murder felt her shoulders sag with relief. She was too exhausted to even attempt answering that question.

Thank you.

The silence dragged out between them. Despite her job being done, she wasn’t in a hurry to return, and Ami didn’t seem to be in a rush to go anywhere either. In a weird way, it was almost pleasant.

“Are you recovering okay? After your fight with Rachel?” Ami asked, with genuine concern.

Miss Murder lifted up her shirt, revealing the ugly wound on her stomach, still raw and very painful. The memory of Rachel impaling her with a shard of glass was still very fresh. She’d recovered enough to move around without too much pain, but she was far from being ready for another fight.

“Brutal,” Ami muttered and Miss Murder noticed the way she almost instinctively reached out to touch it, before pulling her hand back. “She doesn’t hold back, does she? I’m rather hoping I never have to fight her, I’m half convinced she would kill me.”

Pulling her shirt down again, Miss Murder withdrew her phone and typed out another message.

The longer she has to create, the more dangerous she becomes.

Her partner seemed to have dismissed Rachel as a potential threat. He’d wanted to work with her, use her to help with Haylie, but she’d known Rachel would reject that offer. Now the Celestial seemed convinced he could just ignore the tinker, or kill her at a later date. Miss Murder was fairly certain Rachel was going to be the one that killed him.

“There are plenty of dangerous people in this world,” Ami said. “I’m honestly more worried about your partner.”

She really would have liked to agree with that. He was dangerous, and far too ambitious for her liking, and his ethics were questionable at best.

He’s manageable.

“I suppose,” Ami said, sounding a little annoyed. Another silence stretched out, and she wanted to say something, but she didn’t know what. She felt like she’d upset Ami, and for some reason, that bothered her.

Ami broke the silence, and when she spoke, it was with less confidence, less surety than was usual for her.

“I meant to say, I’m… I’m worried about you.”

Well that felt like a slap in the face. Miss Murder had made peace with the fact that she was perceived as a villain. It was just part of the price of working with the Celestial, and his Stars. It was the only way for her to achieve what she wanted, and there wasn’t anyone left whose opinion mattered to her. It took her by surprise that she cared about Ami’s perception of her.

You think I’m dangerous?

Ami looked at the message, confused. She didn’t say anything for several long seconds, clearly trying to compose her response. Miss Murder’s heart felt like it was made of lead.

“No,” Ami said eventually. “I meant that I’m… I’m worried for you.”

She… what? Miss Murder shook her head, trying to process that. Worried for her? As in, concerned for her safety?

She began typing out a response, thought better of it, and deleted it. After silent deliberation, she tried again, but changed her mind, and deleted that too. Several attempts later, she finally had a response she was comfortable with.

Me too.

“Why stay with him, then?” Ami asked, not even trying to disguise her disdain.

Because I need to know what he’s doing.

Also because if she ever left him, she knew he’d turn his resources towards destroying her. She knew far too much about what he was planning, what he could do, what he’d already done. There was no chance he’d let her live, and she didn’t quite have faith in her ability to survive his wrath.

She didn’t say that, though. She suspected that if she did, Ami would challenge it, would offer to protect her. She suspected that she’d probably accept that offer. She knew that she’d want to. She knew it woudn’t be enough.

“You know what his planning?” Ami asked.

Yes, she typed out in response, praying that Ami wouldn’t ask her to say it. She knew the Celestial couldn’t tell what she was saying, but she still knew better than to say anything out loud. One way or another, he’d find out.

“Be careful,” Ami said.


The two of them stood there, almost close enough to touch. Part of her wanted to, wanted to know what would happen, wanted to feel that connection.

“I…” Ami began, and Miss Murder’s nerve broke.

She blinked away, and didn’t stop blinking until she was back home, back where she was safe.

Back where she was alone.

Bonus – It Was The Same One

“I’m so sorry,” Charlie whispered, standing over Veronica’s body. She looked around, scanning the area, but saw nothing. Even still, she knew she wasn’t alone.

Part of her wanted to pick up Veronica’s corpse, to take it back with her. Maybe she could give it a proper burial, at the very least. It was infected, so she couldn’t send it back to Veronica’s family, but if she could preserve it for long enough for the infection to die out…

Part of her might have wanted that, but a bigger part of her just wanted to hit something. She and Veronica might never have been close, but they were friends. Veronica was someone she respected, someone who deserved better than she’d gotten. Her death was unfair, and there was nobody Charlie could punch in response. It sucked.

You can go. The words floated through her head, half whisper, half thought. Not her words. Nothing she could do about it. She left, walked off the side of the building, enjoying the rush of gravity as the ground raced up to meet her.

For nearly eighteen months, she’d dedicated her entire life to saving her city. First it was just the gangs, and she’d paid dearly for her efforts. Captured, tortured, punished over and over again for her naivety. She’d had to take more drastic measures, had needed more power, and she’d never forgive herself for the damage she’d caused in the pursuit of that.

It wasn’t enough. Instead of granting her the power to save the city, things had only gotten worse. Horrors from a whole other reality, people even more powerful than she was. Somehow, the gangs had gotten stronger. The military had moved in to clean up the mess, and they only made things worse. Nothing had worked out.

Still, she kept fighting. What else could she do? Giving up wasn’t in her nature, and too many people were relying on her, even if they didn’t realise it. Nobody else could do the things she did.

Eighteen months, and nothing had been as hard as killing Veronica. She hadn’t been ready for it, hadn’t expected it, and Veronica was innocent, so undeserving of death.

You didn’t have a choice, she tried to remind herself. The description Veronica had given her, she knew exactly who it was. The poor girl had seen a Reaper, she was already marked for death. It was the least Charlie could do to make it painless.

Doesn’t make it any easier.

Too angry to patrol the streets, she opted to return home instead. It wasn’t far, but she had to be careful, had to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Even the Celestial didn’t know where she disappeared to.

She stormed into the living area, a large space barely filled by the two couches and four bookshelves it contained. The younger girl on the couch looked up, concerned but not surprised.

“You’re home early,” she commented.

“Not in the mood, Sadie,” Charlie replied shortly.

“You weren’t watching Rachel again, were you? You know that’s kind of creepy, even for you.”

“It wasn’t Rachel,” Charlie snapped.

“Good,” Sadie replied. “You’re still way too obsessed with that girl. You broke up. Get over it.”

“We didn’t just break up- ugh, why am I talking to you about this?”

“Because you don’t have anyone else,” Sadie replied. “You’re stuck with me, just like I’m stuck with you. So tell me, why are you in such a foul mood?”

Charlie glared at the younger girl, but couldn’t maintain it. She let out a ragged breath, and slumped onto the other couch.

“I killed somebody.”

“You’ve killed before,” Sadie pointed out.

“Only when I had to,” Charlie argued.

“Did you have to this time?”

“No,” Charlie confessed. “But…”


“The Reaper was there,” Charlie said. “Veronica saw her. It was the same one.”

“Since when can Veronica see- oh. Oh. You killed Veronica. Fuck, Charlie. You killed her because she saw a Reaper? Seriously?”

“What was I supposed to do? Fight her again?”

“You beat her once,” Sadie said.

“No, I didn’t,” Charlie argued. “It wasn’t me. That thing isn’t me.”

“Probably for the best, anyway. Wouldn’t want poor Veronica getting stuck like me, eh?”

Charlie ignored the barb, staring up at the concrete ceiling. She loved Sadie with all her heart, but she didn’t like her one bit, these days. They were always at odds, always disagreeing, and Sadie had literally nothing better to do than to argue with her.

Just another in a long list of failures. Another reminder of a time she’d tried to make things better, and only fucked up worse.

Enough unproductive thinking, she scolded herself. She had a lot of work to do, and her mood wasn’t going to improve while she sank into the couch and sulked.

She hauled herself to her feet, making her way out of the room. To her surprise, Sadie followed her. The two of them walked in silence, navigating the maze of concrete corridors. Neither of them felt the cold, but it was impossible to feel warm in that environment.

Charlie opened a heavy metal door, tensing before walking through it. Sadie stood in the doorway, her mouth agape.

“Charlie, you can’t be serious,” she said, as the door slammed shut beside her. “This is barbaric.”

“It’s necessary,” Charlie replied coldly.

She approached the infected chained to the back wall of the room. It snarled at her, but lacked the energy to move much.

“Hey, buddy,” she said softly. “How’s it going? You feeling any better yet?”

Only another snarl in response. She shook her head, disappointed. It had been several weeks, and daily infusions of the chemical synthesised from her blood hadn’t changed anything.

“What are we doing wrong?” she asked, reaching out to them. They lashed out at her, weak and pathetic.

“What are you doing to it?” Sadie asked.

“Trying to save them,” Charlie said. “Using my immunity to try and undo the damage the infection has done. So far, it hasn’t achieved anything.”

“But… how? You’re not a scientist. You don’t know the first thing about this stuff.”

“No, I don’t,” Charlie agreed. “That’s why I made a deal.”

“With who?” Sadie asked. “What deal?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Charlie said. “They get to study my blood, and in return, they use that information to create something that can help people.”

“People have tried to study your blood before, remember? They didn’t find anything different about it.”

“I found someone who knew what to look for,” Charlie said. “They already helped create something which retards the process. Now we’re working on reversing it.”

“And what else are they going to find out about you, Charlie?” Sadie demanded. “What if they discover weaknesses? What if they figure out how to hurt you?”

Charlie laughed, startling the infected. It actually scurried a bit further away from her.

“God, I wish. Do you have any idea how boring it is, being like this? Nothing can kill me. Pain barely registers. It’s like everything is pointless. How am I supposed to get stronger if nothing ever challenges me? If there’s never any risk?”

“Why do you need to get stronger?” Sadie asked, with uncharacteristic aggression. “Why are you obsessed with being strong and powerful? Why can’t you use all that power to actually do something productive, instead of thinking about fighting all of the time?”

Charlie felt her jaw clench, and her hand curled into a fist, the nails digging into the skin of her palm. She took several seconds before she responded, breathing with forced patience.

“Because,” she said, her voice low, “this is the only thing I can do. Everything that’s happening out there is my fault, Sadie. I let monsters into the world, and for all my strength, all of my goddamned immortality, I can’t stop them. I can’t save everyone. This is all I have.”

The angrier she got, the more agitated the infected became. It began to roar alongside her, struggling against its chains.

“You’re wrong,” Sadie said, pressed up against the wall, as far away from both Charlie and the infected as she could get.

“No. Not wrong. Not this time.” Charlie stared at the infected, and once again, it cowered away from her. “I’m going to keep getting stronger, and I’m going to destroy everything that threatens this city.”

“Even Sabrina?”

Charlie hesitated. It was only for a second, but Sadie’s face made it clear she noticed.

“Even Sabrina,” Charlie said. Sadie’s disappointed expression cut, but she knew better than to try and explain anything to her sister.

Charlie’s phone rang, a distraction she was incredibly grateful for. Sadie left the room, making a disgusted noise. Charlie rolled her eyes and answered the phone.


“Having a bad day?” a male voice asked.

“Is there any other kind?” she replied, coldly. “What do you want?”

“I was hoping for an update,” he said. “I think I can infer, though.”

“So try something else,” she snapped. “We had a deal, Gabriel.”

“I promised my best effort, nothing more,” he replied.

“And if you want what I promised, you’ll step your best effort up,” she threatened.

“I don’t take orders.”

“I don’t care,” she said, and hung up on him.

Alone save for the infected, she slumped against the wall, sliding down to the floor. She willed the fury that was building up inside of her away, but as always, she was at its mercy. It took all of her self-control to keep from lashing out at anything nearby at times like this.

When she’d had Rachel around, everything had felt so much easier. Rachel stabilised her, grounded her, soothed the rage she was constantly at war with.

“I miss you,” she whispered, knowing nobody could hear.

Bonus – There’s Something I Need To Tell You

Six Months Before Impact Day

Sabrina sat down opposite Veronica, fidgeting nervously. For her part, Veronica pretended not to notice, something Sabrina was extremely grateful for. She’d been working up the courage to have this conversation for weeks, maybe longer.

There was nobody she trusted more than Veronica. Veronica was her best friend, her moral support, her confidant. Despite that, she was terrified. What if it came out wrong? What if Veronica was disgusted, or worse, what if she just dismissed it?

What if she refused to accept it?

Sabrina shook the doubts out of her head. Veronica was a good person, and nothing would change their friendship. She was even sure, pretty sure, that Veronica had been dropping hints, like she already knew, and wanted to make sure Sabrina could feel comfortable talking about it.

The café owner approached them, an exceedingly attractive woman who seemed to go out of her way to look frazzled and disorganised. She tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her ear as she smiled at the two girls.

“What can I get for you?”

“A mocha for me,” Veronica said, not missing a beat. “Thanks, Wendy.”

“Just a hot chocolate,” Sabrina said shyly, conscious of the way her voice sounded. Wendy just kept smiling, nodding cheerfully.

“Won’t be long.”

Sabrina watched Wendy leave, observing the strange way that Wendy gave the impression of being clumsy whilst maintaining an enviable grace.

“So that’s why you always insist on coming here,” Veronica said, a teasing note in her voice.


“You have a crush on Wendy,” she said, grinning. Sabrina blushed.

“I do not,” she replied, flustered.

“So you don’t think she’s attractive?”

Everyone thinks she’s attractive,” Sabrina said, trying to dodge the question. “She’s like, a real life version of the nerdy girl who gets a makeover and is suddenly the prettiest girl in school, except it was obvious all along how pretty she was because the actress was so pretty anyway and I’m really not helping my case here, am I?”

“Not one bit, but I’m enjoying it immensely,” Veronica said, grinning.

“She’s not my type,” Sabrina insisted. “And probably too old for me. Anyway, it’s super inappropriate to flirt with people whose job it is to be nice to you.”

“Fine, fine, you don’t have a crush on Wendy,” Veronica conceded. “You just think she’s attractive and you get flustered whenever she talks to you.”

“Hot chocolate?” Wendy said, placing it gently on the table in front of Sabrina, who made a tiny squeaking noise and shrank into her chair. Veronica laughed.

Once Wendy had placed down Veronica’s coffee and left again, Sabrina sat up straight, and glared at Veronica as fiercely as she could. Veronica only laughed harder.

Over Veronica’s shoulder, Sabrina caught someone staring. For a moment, she thought they were staring at her, but quickly realised it was Veronica, not her.

They seemed young, a kid of maybe ten or twelve, with deep purple eyes and long, lilac hair. She had soft white skin and a satisfied smile that seemed out of place on her young face.

Veronica followed Sabrina’s gaze, but the girl had already vanished. Confused, she turned back to Sabrina.

“You’re spacing out there, buddy. Something the matter?”

“No, it’s nothing,” Sabrina said, completely forgetting about the girl. “Well, I mean, there is…” She took a deep breath. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

“Oh! Well, sure, what’s up?”

Sabrina looked across the table at her best friend, feeling panic and peace wage war in her stomach. She’d rehearsed her next lines countless times, and she still wasn’t sure what to say.

“I, uh…”

There were so many ways she could begin. I’m a girl. I’m trans. I’m not the person you think I am. Hey, you know how I’ve never been any good at being a boy? For a long time, something in my life has felt wrong…

No matter what she said, it sounded wrong in her head. It was such a big thing, so important, yet so mundane at the same time. After all, nothing was really changing. Her name, her pronouns, maybe one day, the way that she looked. Nothing important, not to the friendship.

Veronica smiled at her, the sort of smile that’s mean to reassure you that everything’s okay. Sabrina smiled back.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” she said, and once she started, it was easy to keep going. “About who I am, and what I want. What makes me happy. And I realised something. My whole life, people have been expecting me to be someone I’m not. Someone I can never be. And I’ve tried, Veronica. I tried so hard to be that person, for so long.”

Another pause, another deep breath. Veronica didn’t say anything, didn’t stop smiling.

“There’s a lot that doesn’t feel right. The way that I look, it doesn’t match up with the way that I feel. The way people look at me, talk to me, if feels like they think I’m somebody else. The name that they use, it doesn’t feel like mine. It feels like an anchor, or a noose.”

Still no reaction from Veronica.

“You’re the first person I’ve talked to about this. The first person I’ve trusted. I mean, I’ve talked to people online, people with more experience, people who’ve been here before, but not like this. This is different, and I knew I had to tell you first. You’re my best friend, and I need you to know that I’m…”

She choked up, unable to say the last words, the most important words. Veronica hadn’t moved, hadn’t stopped smiling. She had no reason to be afraid, no reason to stop, but…

“It’s okay,” Veronica said. “You’re my best friend too, and I’m here for you, no matter what. I promise.”

“I… I think I’m a girl, Veronica,” Sabrina said, then immediately shook her head emphatically. “No, scratch that. I know I’m a girl.”

Veronica didn’t let the silence drag on. She reached across the table, taking Sabrina’s hand and squeezing it.

“Makes perfect sense to me,” she said warmly. “I do have one question for you, though.”


“What do I call you?” Veronica asked. Sabrina let out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding.

“Sabrina,” she said.

“I’m already changing it in my phone,” Veronica said. “And if you need any backup, telling anybody else, I will happily be there for you. In your own time, of course.”

“I wanna tell Ash,” Sabrina said. “I don’t know how she’ll take it, but she’s like family. And I could really use your help on that one.”

“Aw, you know she loves you,” Veronica reassured her. “But of course, I’ll help you however I can. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, though. She’s a smart kid.”

They both looked up as the café entrance chime rang. Three teenagers walked in, and Sabrina recognised two of them, though she couldn’t recall their names. Friends of Charlies, maybe.

Wendy intercepted them, making it look like she was just casually walking past them on her way to another table. They zeroed in on her.

“You’re Wendy, right?” a boy with fair skin, short blonde hair and quick grey eyes asked. Sabrina couldn’t see Wendy’s facial expression, but she noticed the woman’s body language tense up.

“That’s me,” she said, with flawless charm and warmth.

“We need your help,” the boy said, looking around conspiratorially. Sabrina very quickly stared down at her mug, hoping he wouldn’t notice her attention.

“You need help from a barista?” Wendy asked, cocking her head.

“Not exactly.”

“We’re looking for a different sort of help,” one of the girls added, beautiful and athletic with striking green eyes and soft Eurasian features.

The other girl, a sullen looking Latina girl, had distanced herself from the other two, but watched them carefully.

“Well, I only have the one kind available,” Wendy said patiently.

The boy drew an envelope out of his pocket, handing it to her.

“You might change your mind when you see this,” he said.

“What’s this?” Wendy asked, not taking it from him.

“Open it, and find out.”

“Okay…” She took the envelope, and extracted the letter deftly. If her body language was tense before, she was practically shaking with anger as she read it. “Ah. Oh, that clever little…”

“So?” the closer of the two girls asked.

“Back room,” Wendy replied sharply.

The four of them shuffled off together, and Sabrina and Veronica looked at each other. Veronica shrugged, and Sabrina nodded in a sort of vague agreement.

They paid their bill, and left the café. Veronica linked her arm through Sabrina’s, and the two of them began to walk, with no particular destination in mind.

Ahead of them, a young girl caught Sabrina’s eye. She was sitting atop a streetlamp, swinging her legs idly, her lilac hair fluttering gently in a breeze Sabrina couldn’t feel.

She stopped in her tracks, staring up at the girl. Veronica looked up at the same spot, but the girl was gone.

“What’s up?” Veronica asked. “You see something?”

“Huh? No,” Sabrina said. “Not sure why I stopped, sorry.”

“All good. Probably just your brain remembering something important, then forgetting it again. Happens to me all the time.”

“You’re probably right,” Sabrina said, smiling comfortably.

Chapter 36 – I Can’t Fight Her

“So, what’re you still doing in the city, anyway?” Charlie asked, after making sure I swallowed her pill.

I debated whether it was worth telling her. Could I trust her? Probably not. Would it hurt? It was difficult to tell. I doubted she would care, and I couldn’t see how she’d use the information against me, but I wouldn’t put it past her.

On the other hand, she knew Sabrina. They’d been friends once, too. Kind of, anyway. Maybe she’d be sympathetic. Maybe she’d even help. She certainly had a better chance of helping than anyone else, since she actually knew who Sabrina was.

I decided it was worth the risk. Only barely, but Charlie had just saved my life. Probably. If I couldn’t trust her after that, well, I didn’t like what that said about me as a person.

“I’m looking for Sabrina,” I told her. “She’s… missing. Didn’t get evacuated with everyone else. Can’t help but feel like she’s gotten involved, somehow.”

“You’re sure she’s still alive?”

It was an honest question, not designed to discourage or hurt me. If anything, it felt almost hopeful. Was she looking for Sabrina too? Had she at least thought about her?

“Honestly? No, I’m not sure. But until I know for sure, I can’t give up.”

“I admire that,” Charlie said, smiling. “Seriously. I mean, you’re going about it in completely the wrong way, and look what’s happened to you. Still, you’re brave. Sabrina’s lucky to have your loyalty.”

The wrong way? What did she think was the right way? She was aware I didn’t have super strength or anything like that, right? What else could I possibly have been doing?

I’d spoken to five of the most powerful individuals in the city. I’d survived speaking to five people who could kill me as easily as crossing the street. I’d evaded gangs and gathered data about their movements, made predictions and calculations and assessments, and found my way to the heart of the city. What more could I possibly have done?

But I knew the answer to that. Plenty. I didn’t know what, but I was no closer to finding Sabrina than when I started. I could pat myself on the back all I wanted, but it didn’t change the facts. I had no idea what I was doing.

“I need help,” I mumbled, before I could stop myself.

“Well now, that is an interesting idea,” Charlie said. “Help you find Sabrina? Sure. I can do that. And why not? I’d love to see her safe and sound, and as far away from this city as she can get.”

Just like that? No, there was more to what she was saying. I waited for the other shoe to drop.

“On the other hand, it’s risky. I already have plenty occupying my attention, and if I let myself get distracted, people could get hurt. Is Sabrina really worth that?”

“Yes,” I said, immediately.

“Then let me make you a deal,” she said. “I know exactly where Sabrina is. I can tell you that she’s alive, even. And I do believe you can save her.”

“So what do you want from me?”

“Let me tell you what I think,” she said, not answering my question. “I think you’re important. I don’t know how, or why, but I have a feeling. I mean, you’ve come this far, survived this long, that’s gotta mean something, right? You keep finding yourself in the right place at the right time, or at least, the most dramatic place.”

She began to pace, walking to and fro in front of me.

“Do you believe in destiny, Veronica?”


Of all the things I’d expected her to ask, that certainly wasn’t one of them. Destiny? Her, of all people, asking me about destiny?

I had a horrible image of her, as the Vigilante, leading a vengeful crusade against the world, believing it to be her destiny. That was how dictators and supervillains began, right?

“No,” I said, almost choking on the word. “No, I don’t believe in destiny.”

She smiled, surprising me.

“Me either. Stupid notion, honestly. Depressing, too. My achievements are my own, and so are my failures. Anyway. That’s good. Next question, do you believe in coincidence?”

“Um, yes?”

“Guess you gotta fall on one side or the other,” she agreed, nodding. “Not me, though. I mean, I’m sure some things are coincidence, but not this. Not you.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I just stood there silently, waiting for her to continue.

“So, Veronica. If your being here isn’t because of destiny, and it isn’t because of chance, then what is it? What are we left with?”

I stayed silent.

“Come on, you’re smarter than this,” she said impatiently. “But alright. Fine. Someone’s behind this. All of this. Someone wants you for something.”

“Why?” I asked, without thinking. “Why me?”

“Who knows?” She smiled, but it was a grim, humourless smile. “Veronica. How much do you know about the Celestial?”

“Not much,” I confessed.

“Did you know he’s superhuman?”

“No, but it doesn’t surprise me,” I said.

“He can see the future,” Charlie said. “Or rather, he can see the futures. Possibilities, branches, chances and coincidence. He can see which insignificant elements can become world-changing.”

As a power, that seemed overwhelming, and more than a little terrifying. What could you do against a power like that? It could see everything coming, plan for every attack. No wonder the Stars seemed unbeatable.

But how could you use a power like that? How could a human mind process that much information? How far ahead could he see? To what degree of detail? What did it look like? Could he control it, focus on specific events or people?

“You think he’s using me?” I asked, my mouth suddenly dry. “You think he knows I’m going to be important, somehow?”

Charlie just nodded. I took a step back. The look on her face scared me.

Over her shoulder, I saw someone else appear. It was completely silent. One second there was nothing, the next, she was just there, leaning against the wall.

She looked kind young, maybe the same age as me, with electric blue hair, a long black trench coat, and skin as pale as a full moon. Most eerily, the wind didn’t seem to affect her at all. She was completely static.

You’re not who I was expecting, I thought to myself, without understanding why.

Charlie noticed me staring, and whirled around, guard up. The blue-haired girl didn’t move, didn’t react. Charlie stared at her, right through her, then turned back to me.

“What’re you looking at?” she demanded.

Should I say anything?

“There’s someone there,” I said softly.

“Describe them to me.”

No hesitation, no scepticism. She believes me completely. Why?

“Young woman, blue hair, black coat,” I said. “You can’t see her?”

Charlie’s expression went completely blank. She took a deep breath, not bothering to turn around and try to look again.

“Fuck,” she said, almost too quietly for me to hear. “I didn’t want to do that. I really, really didn’t.”

“Charlie, what’s going on?” I asked, still watching the blue-haired girl, who hadn’t moved at all. Was she smiling at me?

“The Celestial’s predictions get disrupted around people like me,” Charlie said. “And if he thinks you’re important, worth preserving, then…”

The pieces fell into place in my head. If the Celestial wanted me alive, then she wanted me dead. And if she wanted me dead, there was nothing I could do about that. I couldn’t run from her.

“And the girl?” I asked, failing utterly to hide my growing terror.

“She can explain it better than I can,” Charlie said. “I really am sorry. I didn’t think killing you was going to be necessary, but if she’s here, the choice has already been made. Fuck.”

Who is she?” I asked again, panicking. I was looking around for somewhere to run, even knowing it was pointless.

“She’s Death,” Charlie said coldly. “I’m so sorry. I can’t fight her, not again.”


She moved, almost too fast for me to see. A blur of motion, and then…