Seven Months Before Impact Day
After a month of solid training, planning and preparing, everything was finally ready. All the pieces were in place, and all that was left was to give the push that set it all off.
Things were tense with Liz for a while, but the friendship endured. I may not have wanted to date her, but she was precious to me, and I worked hard to make sure she knew that. We reconciled, and she and Aidan were entirely invested in my mission. They were so loyal; it almost broke my heart to think that wasn’t going to last much longer.
I didn’t want to use them, but there was no other way. The stakes were so much higher than anyone realised, and I couldn’t let sentiment get in the way of what needed to be done. Once it was done, they’d understand, surely. I could explain it all to them, and they’d forgive me. Together, I really believed we could save the city.
Besides, they both needed a push to become what I knew they could be. Liz might not have wanted to be a killer, but she was born to be a hero. She was the perfect sidekick, and once it was all done, I felt sure she’d embrace her destiny. She had too much potential to spend it on anything other than helping people.
And Aidan, he was incredible. I wasn’t sure if he even realised it, but his ability to manage information, contacts and plans was almost preternatural. With him helping with the planning and running of missions, it was all but guaranteed things would go smoothly. He was exactly what I needed.
Of course, Rachel continued to excel. Her brilliant mind continued to allow her to create more and more useful tools for me, and while I might not have been Batman, I sure was getting close. She was the only one who knew what I was really planning, the only reason any of it was possible. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime.
Sadie eventually came to terms with my new lifestyle, often coming with me to play lookout or just keep my company. Things weren’t necessarily great, but as she put it, at least they were interesting. It was more than I’d hoped for.
Wendy, for the most part, stayed out of our way. That was just fine. Every so often, I prodded her, asking her to help, to fight with me, because that’s what I needed her to believe I wanted. Every time, she refused, much to my relief. She gave no indication she knew what I was really planning.
“Alright, here’s what I’ve got,” Aidan said, as Liz, Rachel and I took our seats around the dining table in our new ‘secret’ base, an apartment owned by Liz’s parents that they never used. Some kind of emergency safehouse they didn’t mind loaning to her without asking questions. Aidan placed a laptop on the table, swivelling it so we could see the screen.
“Did you make a slideshow?” Liz asked, smirking at him.
“As a matter of fact, I did,” he retorted.
“You’re such a nerd.”
“Less flirting, more working,” I interrupted, and they both blushed.
“There are four major gangs in the city,” Aidan said. “Vengeance, The Clan, The Imperials, and The Stars.”
“I’ve never heard of the Stars,” Liz said.
“They’re new, and not really worth our time right now,” Aidan said. “Their activities are all pretty low-key, they don’t hold any territory, and they haven’t caused much trouble.”
“I didn’t even know they were distinct gangs,” I admitted. “I thought they were all just, kind of… Actually, I don’t know what I thought.”
“That much is obvious,” Aidan said critically. “You didn’t think, and that’s why you never made any headway. Honestly, without us, this was doomed from the start.”
“Well, that’s why you’re here,” I said sweetly. “So, what’s our next move?”
“We focus on Vengeance,” he said. “They’re the biggest, and most dangerous. Taking them down has the biggest impact, and sends the strongest message.”
“Lovely,” I said. “How do we take them down?”
“Well, like we discussed before, you need to get yourself ‘captured’ by them. Right now, they don’t know you’re not working alone. Rachel provides you with a tracking device, and Liz rescues you, taking one of their leaders at the same time, and we interrogate them.”
“I thought we were luring them out with fake military technology?” I asked.
“That’s for phase 2,” he said. “Just trust me, okay?”
“Always,” I lied.
“We’re going to convince them this is a much bigger operation than it is,” he explained. “That’s what you’ll tell them, when you get captured. And when Liz rescues you, it’ll confirm it. When I leak that we have some big-time hardware, they’ll pull out all the stops to get their hands on it.”
“Only, it’ll be a trap,” Rachel chimed in. “We let them take the device, use it to spy on them for a bit, then set it off, hopefully gassing some of their higher-up members, letting us swoop in, recover it, kidnap a bunch of them, and keep climbing that ladder.”
“Sounds solid to me,” I said. “Alright. Let’s do this thing.”
“Great. Rachel, you get Charlie ready. Liz, you and I have some last-minute planning to do.”
Aidan and Liz disappeared into the office, and Rachel and I made our way into the bedroom. She pulled out a sturdy black briefcase.
“More presents?” I asked.
“Not the fun kind,” she said, opening it. “For once, your immortality is actually working against us.”
“Your body rejects foreign objects too quickly,” she said. “I can’t just implant a sub-dermal tracking chip, it’d get pushed out within minutes. So I gotta plant it way deeper, and wrap it in something your body won’t reject, while somehow still be able to receive its signal.”
“Hey, if anyone can do it, I’m sure you can,” I said.
“Oh, I already figured it out,” she told me. “It just won’t be very comfortable for you.” It was only then I noticed there was a plastic sheet over the bed, and surrounding floor. “Take your top off and lie down.”
“What, no flirty quip this time?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Right now I’m more concerned with that scalpel you’re holding,” I said.
“Told you it wouldn’t be comfortable.”
I sighed, pulling off my top and lying down on the bed. She climbed on top of me, wrapped in a surgical smock and wearing gloves.
“At least talk me through what you’re doing,” I grumbled.
“If you want…”
“Alright. I’m going to cut open your chest, and drill into your collarbone, leaving a small gap for me to insert the chip. Bone won’t reject it the way flesh will, and it’ll be close to the surface.”
“I really wish anaesthetic worked on me,” I muttered.
“Me too, love.”
“Well, fair is fair. My body is yours. Cut me open.”
Next Week: Not Broody Enough To Be A Superhero