SG&The Broker: Making Sense Out Of Thin Air

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Abductorenmadrid
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SG&The Broker: Making Sense Out Of Thin Air

Post by Abductorenmadrid »

Hi all,

I have been writing SG& The Broker stories for a few years now, my first few entries stumbling on to the scene late June and early July of 2014. Since then my cast of characters has slowly grown. SG has accumulated allies and enemies at an equal rate and while there is a central plot line developing I can appreciate that anyone coming in cold to the series will not have a clue what is going on.

This then is a short story aimed at doing three things. For those who have no experience of the series but are interested it might just be enough to clue you in on the main characters and their relationship to each other. For those who have read some but not all of the series then may it serve as means to catch up without having to read everything that has happened. And, if by some miracle there are a silent few who know my story well, then, there is a little bit near the end that will show there is hope yet for two of our heroines.

If you like what you see here and fancy checking back on previous stories then you will find them here in their respective reading order under the SG& The Broker section.

And so, I give you - SG&The Broker: Making Sense Out Of Thin Air - and as always - comments are always welcome!

= = = = = = = = = = =




Selena Walsh, The Broker, blinked, her dazed mind trying to make sense of her surroundings. Only twenty minutes before she had been calmly reassuring her travel companion, Lucy Wuan, that she was just being paranoid about the flight they were on. Promptly after that the oxygen masks had dropped, proving Lucy was right to be concerned. That was small comfort to Lucy though and despite Selena's protests the Asian mercenary had set off to do the impossible and break into the cockpit to save everyone.

Now the last semblance of Selena's rational cognitive reasoning was fading. Selena still had enough left in her though to know that the limited emergency oxygen supply was dwindling and yet the aircraft she was on had failed to take any sort of corrective action. Lucy was out of sight now having battled with the worsening conditions to descend from business class to the deck below which held coach class and the flight deck. Could Lucy do anything to save everyone on board or was the flight doomed with everyone dying of hypoxia?

What could Selena have done to avoid all this? Where did she go wrong? How could she have done any better? To Selena her thoughts ran at high speed but for an observer safe from the perilously poor state of the atmosphere within the plane they would easily see she was adrift, her mental processes running at a crawl. Regret made a fleeting appearance in Selena's mind, her drunken like thoughts swirling around what could have been.

If only...

Selena blinked again, her eyelids shuttering out the aircraft interior, the plush business class seats vanishing from view along with the flat screens and moulded plastic surrounds. Cast into darkness her mind imagined a new reality and conjured up a scene to satisfy her dazed desires.

= = = = =

“Hey, stay with us,” Selena heard just before a friendly nudge caused her eyes to open again.

“What? Oh... sorry ...” Selena managed to say groggily only to hear the sound of collective light laughter in reply.

“It's been a long day,” said a male voice.

Selena's eyes focused on her companions and she seemingly understood where she was, picking up where she thought she had left off. Sat around the coffee table on the comfy U shaped sofa the group bathed in the flickering warm light of a large stove. The odour of food hung in the air and a glance to one side confirmed to Selena that the full feeling in her belly could be blamed on the carcass of the large turkey that sat on the long dining table beyond. In a far corner a Christmas tree stood basking in its own colourful glow, an island of festive cheer in the darkened room.

Selena realised that she was curled up, lying on her side, her torso resting on someone else and she immediately sensed it was Kara, or Supergirl as she was known to the world at large, who had one arm resting on her. Even now despite all they had gone through together it was strange seeing the alien super-powered heroine out of uniform. Absent was her crimson and blue costume, a long black dress in its place.

Opposite Selena and Kara sat Lucy Wuan, the distinctive Asian mercenary who was lent forward, knees slightly splayed holding her beer bottle between them. Her eyes looked intently into the flickering flames while her good friend Detective Lisa Kozny gently massaged her shoulder. Kozny took a sip of beer with her free hand, her eyes reflecting the light of the flames as she watched the gentle giant, McGee, pluck another handful of nuts from a bowl on the table. Selena couldn't help but smile thinking on how his FBI career had flourished in the time she had known him.

Next to McGee was the young university student and relative newcomer to the group, Laura Granger. The freckle faced red head bit into a triangular piece of dense-looking fruit cake while her partner Neyra watched on wide-eyed. Neyra's dark skin and short black spiral hair was subtly illuminated by the light of the fire which did more than enough to reveal her exasperated expression as she watched her young lover devour the cake.

“How many slices of that have you eaten?” McGee scoffed as he watched Laura eat.

“Ummm, this is my …..second piece...” Laura replied with feigned innocence between mouthfuls.

McGee's eyebrows rose, his expression revealing his doubt to everyone else in the room.

“Third? Maybe?” Laura continued with a blush.

“How many?” Selena asked dryly, her eyes narrowing on the knowledgeable McGee. McGee, blessed with the ability to see into the memories of others, had no doubt seen the truth in Laura's mind before she had even made up her low ball figure.

“Four,” McGee said confidently with a grin, his body recoiling away from Laura slightly in fear of retaliation from the young red head.

“McGee!” Laura protested, her mouth left open in mock horror to McGee's mental intrusion. McGee was generally well principled about whose minds he peered into but given the Christmas cheer his guard had dropped, accidentally letting in Laura’s playful lie.

“It's only cake!” Selena said, rolling her eyes. If McGee had been prying into more personal aspects of peoples' lives she would have had no hesitation in making him regret it.

“Where the hell do you put it all anyway? I so much as look at the doughnuts the uni's bring into the bullpen and I put on a pound,” Detective Kozny protested only to have Laura giggle in reply.

“That's not the half of it. I counted her calorie intake once and quickly realised why our grocery bill is insane whenever she gets busy wearing the mask,” Neyra said flatly as she leaned back on the sofa.

“Hey, I can't help it, you have no idea how much it takes to hold myself to a wall. And where do you think all my webs come from? Thin air?!” Laura said as she set her plate down, the few remaining crumbs the only evidence of what had once been there.

“She does have a point,” Lucy said as she drew her beer to her lips. Lucy, who had been Laura's sparring partner for some time, had become acutely aware of the red-head's strengths and weaknesses and how her energy balance was so important.

“I guess I should be grateful Kara is solar powered or else our budget would truly be in trouble,” Selena said sarcastically.

“It would have to be more than our Christmas turkey dinner if she wasn't. The calories you must burn through must be insane, Kara,” Neyra said as she looked over at the fair skinned blond at Selena's side.

“I guess. I've never really thought about it like that but I can imagine others have. Maybe like the two scientists, Schneider and Matthews?” Kara said with a frown as she looked to Selena for confirmation.

Selena nodded gently and glanced at McGee who gave her a sideways glance back. The pair instinctively recalled how they had dealt with Schneider and Matthews, though back then their agendas were somewhat different.

“When are you going to tell us about the stuff that you’ve been through before we met you all? I know Neyra and I are still fairly new to this group but after what we have done together surely you can start to tell us something?” Laura said as she plucked up her spent glass and looked back at the dining table which was partially obscured in the darkness.

There were a few glances between the others which Neyra noticed but could not read. Selena on the other hand could understand the unspoken conversation. Between them all there were gaps in their knowledge, even some secrets. Maybe, just maybe, this was the time to finally give them up. Each of them were becoming reliant on the others now, especially as it seemed that new threats were becoming more aware of their group. Who knew what little piece of information might matter when the time came?

Laura was oblivious to the cat she had cast amongst the pigeons. Her senses were built around the defence of her own self and so the mix of feelings she had stirred up between others was left undetected by her. Walking into the shadows surrounding the dining table Laura filled her glass with cola from a bottle which she carried back with her, along with her glass and sat herself back down next to Neyra.


“Laura, you have to understand, our coming together, it's not as straightforward as you might think. It wasn't as easy as it was for you and Neyra getting together at any rate,” Selena began to explain.

“You're kidding, right?” Neyra began in disbelief.

“Bad example, Selena” scoffed McGee as he picked a nut from the palm of his hand and tossed into his mouth.

“You know what I mean,” Selena replied, her eyes narrowing on McGee a moment, like he should know better.

Laura groaned. “But that's the point, WE don't! Come on, you've got to give us something. How did you all meet, where, when, why?” Laura asked enthusiastically before picking up her glass of cola and taking a swig.

There was a long pause punctuated only by the crackling of the stove fire and the dancing flames and Selena turned her head and locked her eyes on Kara who gave a reluctant nod in reply. It was going to be difficult touching on some memories that had only just begun to get healed with time but perhaps their new friends were ready to hear it all.

“How to start?” Selena began, taking a deep breath in apprehension.

“Well, I guess the beginning would be with me, you and McGee,” Kara said after a moment's thought.

“We are really doing this, huh?” McGee said with surprise.

Neyra and Laura exchanged glances of excitement realising that they were going to finally get to fully enter the inner circle that they knew was there but could never see into.

“Yes, I guess. But, you two, if you so much as tell anyone outside this group anything I will have Kara microwave your brains until they pour out your eye sockets, understand?” Selena said, her glare falling on Laura and Neyra.

Kara shook her head very lightly with a wink to her young friends, unseen by Selena. Laura and Neyra's eyes widened with amusement at the duality of the pair of women in front of them and Selena snapped her head around to see Kara look innocently back at her in surprise.

Selena's eyes narrowed in disapproval, “Hmmmm!”

“Sure, Selena, that's a no brainer,” Laura answered, distracting Selena. Shifting in her seat, you could tell the young red head was anticipating the tale to come.

“OK then, you want to know, so prepare to be disappointed by our story,” Selena stated bluntly as she returned her gaze to the pair of newcomers to the team.

“Hey! Disappointed? But I am in the first bit!” McGee protested

“Me too!” Kara followed on with a feigned scowl.

“Fine, you tell it,” Selena said, her index finger making a brief gesture at McGee before her hand drifted to the table and gathered up her wine glass.

THE ORIGINAL THREE

“OK, I've got this. So, back when I was just a newbie with the FBI I had this case come up where I had an opportunity to shine. See, there was this heist, only it wasn't any normal type of robbery and the get-away was, well, way beyond normal,” McGee began, a peanut or two getting devoured as he began the tale.

Kara nodded and continued on, drawing Laura and Neyra's focused attention.

“It just so happened I was there at the time. It was chaos. When I spoke to the police to find out what was going on they told me there was some hacker messing with the city's infrastructure. The traffic lights were all on red, and in places the streets were flooded with water. The police were getting phantom call outs on their in-car computer systems, and someone was playing havoc with the power grid.”

“And who...” Laura began.

Selena rolled her eyes and put up her hand, “Me, dummy. ME. I did it!”

Laura's eyes darted from side to side as she took in the new information and as the next question formed in her mind Selena cut in before she could speak.

“I imagine you want to know why....” Selena said flatly as she took another sip of wine.

McGee scoffed, “Of course she does. You should have seen it, Laura. My supervisor and I were in the observation room when a handcuffed Selena enters the interrogation room beyond the mirrored glass, escorted by...”

“By me!” piped up Kara with the raising of a finger. “The authorities had a rough idea where Selena was and had asked me to use my X-ray vision to find her. She was working from sort of automated sewer-system control room and had tapped into the city's computer network from there. Once I had ripped the security doors off their hinges and apprehended her it was a simple matter of flying her back to the FBI field office.”



“Selena looked like a scrawny rebellious student type... with her greasy red hair, bad fashion choices and .....” McGee continued, telling his tale fondly.

“CAREFUL! But yes, Kara dragged me in, finding me at my computer doing my thing. At the time I thought it was the worst day of my life. How wrong I was,” scowled Selena.

“All he means is you were younger then, a little younger than Laura is now I guess,” Kara said, thinking she was being helpful.

Laura bit her lip at the comparison, wary of Selena's ire. She was quite aware of being thought of as the 'younger sister' that Selena never had. McGee, who was sat close by, recalled his moment of deja vu when he had seen Laura the first time. Red haired, mental wall raised, she and Selena had been in some ways very alike, but fortunately Laura had been spared the errors that had almost ruined Selena's life.

“Anyway, the point was, Selena had been covering for the thieves' get-away, hacking the city network and helping them escape. On its own that was bad enough but there were … complications,” McGee explained, his phrasing drawing a frown of curiosity from Laura.

“It's okay, McGee,” Selena said, her mood becoming sombre for a moment, “The complication he is trying to side step is that the people I was helping shot dead a police officer during their escape. I didn't know. I was on the other side of the city sat at my computer when it happened,”

“You remember what I taught you, Laura? If you are helping commit a crime you and your conspirators are collectively responsible for whatever happens. To the system Selena may as well have shot the officer herself, it makes no difference she was not even there,” Lisa explained.

“But why were you helping them in the first place?” Laura asked in dismay.

McGee let out a sigh, “And THAT was the most frustrating thing. You know I can see into peoples' heads, see the truth, the lies. And inside Selena's head I could see she had been blackmailed by a gang who held her boyfriend hostage,” McGee said.

“The trouble was he wasn't real,” Selena said bitterly.

Laura looked between McGee and Selena. How could this boyfriend not be real if McGee could read Selena and see him?

McGee did not need his powers to see Laura's confusion and began to explain what Selena had meant.

“She means figuratively. It was only later that I learned why this boyfriend was so hard to find. He was in on it with the gang. They had learned that Selena could hack and so the Casanova of the group dated her, only to then pretend to be kidnapped. She did what any loyal partner would and obeyed his captors in order to get him back safe. Only he never came back. All the law enforcement agencies involved investigated what might have happened to this guy but as time went on it seemed that perhaps he did not even exist at all,” McGee continued.

“I didn't know then that McGee could see into my memories as I recalled them but I sensed he believed in me. But the problem was he couldn't prove what he knew. The police and the FBI became more and more certain that I had made up the story about my boyfriend and decided I must have been a part of the gang” Selena said, her eyes meeting Laura's a moment.

“So what happened to them. Did you catch them?” Laura asked hopefully.

“Hmmm, we will get back to them in a moment. But in the meantime I was in a lot of trouble and a life in jail looked likely. But, help came from an unexpected source, didn't it...” Selena said, a playful elbow ineffectually nudging into Kara's side.

“I just suggested that with your skills there might be a way to put you to good use instead of throwing your life on the scrapheap. I have no power over the legal system, no authority, no say, but evidently someone must have paid some attention to what my alter-ego had said,” Kara answered, a playful pat dislodging Selena's elbow.

“What happened?” Laura asked, her glance passing between Kara and Selena. It seemed obvious from their jostling that this had been something important at the time.
“Well thanks to Kara's suggestion I was spared prison provided I pleaded guilty, which I did. The deal meant I was conscripted into the military to be part of some spec-ops support team,” Selena explained, rolling her eyes at the memory.

“Wow,” Laura managed, her mouth left gaping.

“Oh please, it wasn't great. I had gone from being a carefree, pizza-eating, geek girl to a boot camp pain-toy for some drill-sergeant in the blink of an eye. They ran us into the ground in that place. I was taught how to resist interrogation, how to shoot, how to fight, how to survive. And then when I was ready I was put with a unit. I won't tell you where they put us, suffice to say it was hot, populated by camels and featured lots of oil,” Selena went on.

“And I guess it was while she was out there doing that, I caught up with her toxic boyfriend,” McGee cut in, noting how Selena's tone had become a little bitter.

“Finally! Did you arrest him?” Laura asked enthusiastically.

“You've got to remember kid, what I see in my head, it's never going to be admissible. My gift is my secret. Only the people in this room know what I can do and that's exactly how I want to keep it. If I was going to be able to do anything it was going to be unofficial which is just as well because trying to make a legal case against this guy was going to be tough. For a start we could barely prove he had existed, let alone that he had a connection to Selena. It was only because I could see his face in Selena's memories that I got to him in the first place. No, the only thing I thought I could do to put things right was to take away what mattered to him … his money!” McGee said with a grin.

“McGee read his mind like a book and used that information to clean out his accounts. The icing on the cake though was his video taped confession. ” Selena said proudly.

“But it was too little too late to help you, the damage was already done,” McGee said apologetically.

“So, what happened while you were in the Middle East? And why aren’t you still there now? Or with your unit some other place?” Neyra asked. It was obvious to her that the government was not going to just say a thank you for Selena's service and let her go.

“My tour in the Middle East ended after the support team I was part of was mostly wiped out. One night we were co-ordinating a raid being conducted by special forces on what was thought to be a secret nuclear enrichment facility. However it was all a vicious trap. The team raiding the facility were ambushed and the rest of us at the support base were attacked. I escaped, just, but.... ” Selena paused, her gaze turning to the fire as she seemed to recall something.

Selena’s thoughts first dwelt on two men she had helped on her radio before the support base fell into enemy hands and then her own difficult escape.

“Selena got away, but to do so meant entering the desert, something that left its mark on her,” Kara added, her hand rubbing Selena's arm affectionately.

“There was a lot more to it than that, but yes, I survived, what was left of me at least. They told me the level of burns I had received from the desert would have killed most people but for some reason I managed to hang on,” Selena said, her mood rising from Kara's attention.

“God, I am so sorry,” Neyra said with concern. It was probably the first time she had felt much in the way of sympathy for Selena. Until that moment the stern red head had seemed to be the figurehead monster of the group, but now that perception was changing.

“Doesn't anything good happen for you?” Laura asked hopefully.

“Then? No. Having escaped, I was taken into custody by the army. A patrol had found me and not knowing who I was other than a US citizen I was thought to be a sympathiser for the enemy. It was a few months until my identity was sorted out and by then, well, the guards there had already taken turns having fun with the freak,” Selena explained.

“Freak? I don't understand ….” Neyra said with a frown.

“When the desert sun had finished with Selena during her escape she… well... the burns… they were pretty extensive,” McGee said.

“But, you look ...” Neyra began, the right words failing to come.

“Normal? Yes, I imagine I do now but trust me, I looked like a cross between DeadPool and a pepperoni pizza. With the operation abroad blown I was told my deal with the army was over and I had to serve out my remaining time in Leavenworth,” Selena explained.

“Military prison,” McGee said, reading Laura's inquisitive expression.

“Except, they made a mistake. They forgot what they had turned me into, and before they knew it I managed to break out of my cell and regain my freedom,” Selena said, saluting her companions with her wine glass before she took a sip.

“Wait, you mean you're like, wanted?” Laura said, a little shocked. Sure she understood that Selena was a little bit of a rogue but to find out she was a fugitive, and with the company she was in? Laura was aghast.
“Kara, how the hell does that work? And Lisa, you're a cop! Or you McGee, you're FBI!” Neyra followed on in surprise.

“Hey, trust me, the FBI, the CIA and the NSA are in bed with a lot, lot worse. Not to say that Selena was a saint after she first escaped,” McGee said, quick to quell Neyra and Laura's concerns.

“What do you mean?” Kara asked, her interest raised by McGee's comment. Evidently the FBI man knew some things that the superheroine was unaware of.

“Well, at first she came to see me about unfinished business with her boyfriend,” McGee said.

“Ah yes, you said you would get back to my vanishing boyfriend eventually,” Selena said dryly.

McGee nodded before glancing back at Laura, “So, there I was thinking Selena was gone from my life and then one day out of the blue she appears at my place. To be honest I thought I was a dead man.”

“I was … upset,” Selena said, carefully choosing her words.

McGee scoffed, “Well, whatever, what I think helped was I had prepared for the moment. The taped confession from her fake boyfriend and details of where I had hid Selena's share of the money that I had sucked out of his accounts.”

“Selena's share? What did you do with the rest?” Detective Kozny said, sitting up. Until then McGee had been super clean so …

“Relax will you?” McGee snapped back, “The cop who was killed, his widow got the lion's share. It's gone to their kids' college fund. The money that was stolen was insured and had already been paid out anyway.”

“Ah,” conceded Kozny.

“I made very good use of the money that McGee gifted me. I think he hoped I would use it to make a clean start but instead I sought my revenge. You see I blamed Kara for what had happened to me and invested all my energy in getting back at her. I used the money to fund a brilliant materials physicist called Professor Schneider and his protege, Molly Matthews. It was money worth spending too, the toys they provided proving most effective,” Selena said.

“So the money came from you?!” Kara exclaimed, looking McGee in the eye.

“Trust me, it was one of my biggest regrets realising what I had done, what SHE had done,” McGee said gruffly. It was water under the bridge for him but the discomfort was there for all to see.

“What did you do?!” Laura demanded, almost a little angrily.

“The toys that I had Schneider and Matthews create, they were designed to turn Kara off,” Selena said bluntly.

“Off? But...” Laura said, dumbfounded. To her Kara was unbreakable, unstoppable even. It was unthinkable that she could be rendered powerless.

“Laura, why do you think it was so important to me that I have Lisa and Lucy teach you how to fight, be smart, to help you figure out your limits? We are ... well I can't say human, but, beneath it all we may as well be and be it by science or nature we can be taken down,” Kara explained.

“When Selena had told me she had plans of revenge against Kara I was relieved. I thought it was a fool's errand. An impossibility. But she figured it out with those two scientists and before I knew it she came back to me to confess what she had done,” McGee continued, his hand dunking into the bowl of peanuts again.

“But what had you done, Selena?” Laura demanded.

“You have to remember I was a little ...” Selena began a little apologetically.

“She was mad. Very mad.” McGee added.

“Guys! Kara, what happened?” Laura blurted.

Kara raised a calming hand in Laura's direction, “In the end it was nothing that I couldn't take. Nothing that SHE hadn't been able to take. Every unpleasant moment of her escape, she made me go through. Every cruel game of her prison guards too. I think the worst though was seeing that taped confession McGee had extracted and realising that this boyfriend had been real all along. Overall it was a cold, clinical and frightening experience and yet enlightening too,” Kara explained.

“I was going to leave Kara to wallow in the prison I made for her but somehow we came to a new understanding. During my time brooding over the idea of revenge I had a friend introduced me to a tiny triangular piece of some cutting edge material. It could heal my skin, superficially at least and so with a suit that I had .. well … ” Selena said, pausing to sip some wine.

“BORROWED” Kara reminded Selena forcefully. Selena had in reality stolen it, but Kara had insisted that once she was done with it the precious experimental material was to be given back.

“Very well, yes, borrowed, I was well on the mend. But the deeper nerve damage I had sustained was still pretty severe. As far as I knew nothing was ever going to help fix that,” Selena continued, flexing her empty hand a moment and catching sight of the tiny triangular patch of slightly off-coloured skin. The patch was where she had tested a sample of the skin repairing material before 'borrowing' a full suit's worth of it.

“I realised that with some effort I might be able to fix Selena's damaged nerves and so we made our bargain. She let me go, knowing that I was bound to my word to help her recover,” Kara said with a faint smile.

“And what did you get out of it?” Neyra pressed, drawing a glance from Laura at her side.

Kara's gaze settled on Neyra, “Me? I guess you can't appreciate it but Selena had the one thing I really, really needed. A way to turn myself off. To finally have silence and not hear every little thing. Or have to respond to this or that, be a hero, be seen to be doing the right thing or say the right words,” Kara said, her tone trying to convey what a relief it was to be able to escape her burden. In reality though she held on to the secret she and Selena hid, that to be turned off was in fact a turn on, the benefits of being vulnerable bringing new pleasures she had never been able to experience before.

“So, Kara and I had a deal, much to McGee's relief I am sure,” Selena said, her eyes seeking the big man's confirmation.

“Relief? I guess, but not before I came this close to beating the hell out of you when I learned what you had done. But it's over now,” McGee said, drawing a line under the matter in his mind.

“But, Schneider and Matthews. If they have figured out how to shut Kara down isn't that a problem?!” Laura asked nervously.

Selena looked at the young red head, surprised at her insight, “Yes, so to insure against that I had McGee wipe their memories of their discoveries. To this day I keep tabs on their respective careers, just to make sure they do not come together and accidentally reproduce their work.”

Leaning forward McGee poured a whisky into his glass and picked a few more peanuts from the bowl, the sound of the crackling stove filling the momentary silence.

“And the fake boyfriend? Did you ever find him yourself? Or was what McGee had done enough?” Laura asked.

Selena let out the shortest of laughs hearing Laura's question, “Yes. I found him and the rest of the gang, and no, I didn't kill them if you are wondering but they probably would have wished I did. They had turned to running drugs, what they thought was a step up from their thievery. When I figured out how they ran their operation I threw a spanner in the works. I hacked the port database where they were shipping their poison and switched containers. When their buyer discovered they did not get what they paid for … well … the last I heard they all had black bags over their heads and had been taken who knows where,” Selena said, her tone a little cold as she recollected the gang's fate.

“Ouch,” Neyra said, agog.

“Yes, ouch,” Selena replied, her eyes looking back wickedly over the rim of her glass, sparkling in unison with the dancing flames of the fire.

THE DISGRACED COP

Lucy rose from her position on the sofa and moved to the stove. Cautiously opening the door the mercenary used a poker and evened out the hot bed of glowing wood before adding more fuel. The embers fizzed and sparked as they greeted the fresh air and Lucy closed the stove door again, containing the crackling fire before returning to her seat.

“OK, so, that's how you three met, but, what about Lisa and Lucy?” Laura asked as she poured herself more cola.

Lisa and Lucy glanced at each other for a second trying to figure out who was next, the pair having entered Selena’s world at nearly the same time.

“I think it was me next, and to be fair I wasn't really at my best at the time. God, that airport job sucked, I hated it but it paid the bills,” Lisa began.

“Airport job? But I thought you had always been with the NYPD?” Laura said, cocking her head with confusion.

Kozny shook her head which hung low as she gazed into her beer, “I had been until some asshole set me up. The department thought I had stolen union funds and I got kicked out. They couldn't prove I had the money but with the pressure from the union and internal affairs I had to go. Somehow, I don't know how, I landed some TSA job at an airport,” Lisa explained before putting the beer bottle to her lips and taking a gulp.

Selena nodded. “And it was her job at the airport that caused our worlds to collide. I had been contracted to get Kara past security and on to a rather exclusive flight in order to be interrogated by a mercenary group called 'The Resolution',” Selena explained.
Kara nodded as she remembered the mercenaries. Never knowing their names she had labelled them quite simply by their appearance. There was ‘Crew-Cut’ the leader, the burly ‘Mr Africa’, the ice cool ‘Mr Nordic’, the charismatic Mr Hispania, and lastly Lucy Wuan who at that time she only thought of as ‘Miss Asia’.
Kara smiled, continuing the story, “My mission was to give them false information which had been implanted into my memory by McGee.”
“But why do it on a plane?” Laura asked Selena with a frown.
“To control the environment. I had turned Kara off in order for the interrogation to work and I was not going to leave her safety to chance. On a plane there could be no guns and no outside interference. It would be just us and The Resolution,” Selena explained.

“I can't believe you would have just let this happen Lisa? What was the deal?” Neyra asked with a frown.

Lisa glanced at Selena like it was her responsibility to answer and so she did. “For the mission to succeed Kara had to think this interrogation was against her will. When I began to figure out how to get a reluctant Kara aboard the plane unhindered I came across Lisa's plight. And so our bargain was that if she helped me, I would help her. For me, finding out where those stolen union funds had gone was child play,” Selena responded.

“Sure, but you didn't have to … well …. you know, lie to me about who Kara really was. I was really horrible to her!” Lisa said with embarrassment.

“What happened?” Neyra asked, her dark eyes switching between Kara, Selena and Lisa.

Selena smirked, “With her memories altered I knew Kara was going to be uncooperative and I needed Lisa to want to make her board the plane. So I told Lisa a lie that would make sure that she would be complicit in getting Kara through,”

“You told her I was a child murderer and I was being taken away to have who knows what done to me!” Kara said with mock disdain.

“Yes, I suppose I did. Well, whatever, it worked. Lisa ensured Kara was delivered onto the plane and then the real work began,” Selena continued, her eyes spying the next bottle of wine to open.

“After that I thought my part was over. I would have to wait and see if Selena would keep her side of our bargain and help get me my badge back with the NYPD,” Lisa explained before rising from the sofa.

MERCENARY ATTITUDE

The detective moved away into the darkened room, the others tracking where she was going, only to greet her with “aaahs” and “hmmmms' as she returned with a box of mince pies. Kneeling in front of the glowing fire Lisa reverently opened the box and placed the foiled treats on top of the hot stove to warm through. Job done Lisa spun around and took her place again by Lucy's side and picked up her beer bottle.

“So, where were we?” Lisa asked.

“You had helped Selena get Kara onto the plane to get interrogated by 'The Resolution',” Laura said, eager to continue the story.

“That's right, and that was where I met Lucy for the first time,” Kara said with a smile.

“You were there too?” Laura asked excitedly, her head swivelling to face the Asian mercenary.

Lucy nodded her head, her face revealing her disbelief that at the time she had been on the other side of things.

“Yes, she was there, but she wasn't helping us, she was working for 'The Resolution'” Selena said with a sly grin, wiping Laura's enthusiastic smile from her face.

“Oh!” Laura replied in surprise.

Lucy sighed a moment as she recalled how she and her colleagues had been set up. “Once we were in the air and away we prepared Kara for the interrogation. We knew she had somehow been turned off so we could work on getting her to talk. She seemed completely powerless and unable to escape the restraints she was in. It was my job to verify if the information she was giving us was true or not,” Lucy said, a smile and a nod towards Kara seemingly acknowledging the cunning trick that was subsequently played on her.

Kara saw Lucy's admiration for her, though Kara felt she was getting a little more credit than was due. “The trouble for Lucy was I believed everything I was telling her. Because McGee had implanted these false memories in my head I thought it was all real. And because of that Lucy gave the green light to her colleagues once they were done with me. It wasn't that I tricked her or anything really, it was just, well, I had tricked myself.”

“Oh stop before I am sick. The plan was brilliant if I don't mind saying and 'The Resolution' bought the lie. The result was that their employer's plan was thwarted and ...” Selena continued, her eyes tracking the wine bottle as McGee prepared to uncork it for her.

“... and I was nearly killed for it!” Lucy cut back in.

“I guess your team felt more than upset that you let them down,” Neyra said.

“Loyalty only lasts so long as the pay-checks do when you are in that line of work. When our paymasters realised we had done a bad job they decided one of us had to be made an example of. With little warning the others in 'The Resolution' turned on me. Luckily I managed to use one of my former friends as a bullet sponge in order to escape. He was wearing a vest, but I think I heard a few bones crack when he took the hits” Lucy said calmly.

“Holy crap!” Laura exclaimed.

“So, Lucy was on the run from 'The Resolution', who put a bounty on her head. Rumour got around Lucy was wanted and soon everyone she had ever wronged was trying to get in on the act, knowing her cover was blown. And then of course there was me,” Selena said with a smile.

“Eventually I was captured by a bounty hunter. Selena had told him exactly what would get my attention and I bought it. The bounty hunter tricked me into thinking I would have a chance at getting back at Selena for having turned my colleagues against me. But instead it was a trap and the next thing I know he is deciding which bidder he is going to sell me to!”

“Sell!?” Neyra exclaimed, her African-American heritage no doubt behind her disdain.

“That sucks!” Laura followed on.

“In more ways than you can imagine. Anyway, in debt to Selena's tip in how to catch me he sells me to her. She may not have bid the most but for whatever reason this guy decided she was his preferred choice,” Lucy said, gesturing at Selena with her beer bottle.

“But you're not …. like ….. property or anything? Are you?” Laura frowned at Lucy. “Is she?” Laura asked suddenly, turning to face Selena. The thought that Selena might be treating her respected mentor like a thing was uncomfortable for the often naïve red head.

Selena's eyes burned mischievously, her gaze aimed at Lucy while she thought on the question. Nothing had held Lucy to her in her service, no blackmail, no chains, nothing. Perhaps it was the sense of belonging that held her with them now, but before, in the earliest days it was something else … something ….

“No, but, when you are dealing with someone of honour, you know how they view their debt and believe it or not she owed me. I was investing in her, giving her something that was much better than what she had had before, or was going to have on the run without us,” Selena said confidently.

“That is true,” Lucy said, eyes down in thought, “but to get that I needed a fresh start. Little did I know that soon I would be reborn again, in Hawaii.”

“Oh yes, Hawaii” McGee scoffed.

“Oh Hawaii! How could we forget?!” Selena suddenly remembered.

“What happened in Hawaii?” Laura asked, sitting up again in interest.

“THIS happened,” Lucy said as she tugged at the chain necklace about her neck and revealing the metal splat of a bullet hanging from it.

“Oh, this is what that is all about…” Laura said, eyes widening as she took in the sight of the necklace that Lucy always seemed to wear.

“No sooner had I bought Lucy from the bounty hunter, I discovered one of 'The Resolution' members had taken poor McGee hostage. Somehow ‘The Resolution’ figured out that McGee and I were linked. Apparently I was as much in their crosshairs as Lucy was after Kara had successfully ruined their plans. After all it was me who had provided them Kara, promising them she had the information they needed to obtain. Luckily I had something that they wanted, Lucy, so I tempted them with a swap to get me off the hook,” Selena explained.

Laura was about to protest when Lucy put her finger to her lips and hushed her protégé with a smile and a wink. Lucy’s unspoken message was that Selena never intended to just give Lucy to ‘The Resolution’ for them to execute her.

“And boy was I glad for that! They had been threatening to use a clothes iron to rearrange my face until you offered to trade me for Lucy,” scoffed McGee.

“Oh my god, what happened?” Laura asked. Obviously everything turned out fine but for a moment the young red head was concerned for her cherished mentor and the loveable McGee.

“It was no surprise that the man holding McGee had set up an ambush for the prisoner exchange. He held me responsible for Kara's lies, and Lucy for her inability to see through them. So they had a sniper team in place to kill us all. What they had not counted on was that we had Kara with us,” Selena beamed.

“With my speed I knew I could catch whatever their sniper fired at the others. All I had to do was be fast enough not to get seen. If they saw me they might not have believed Lucy had been killed.” Kara added.

“I was rigged with a blood pack ahead of the exchange, just in case, and when the inevitable happened I went down covered in fake blood and Kara caught the bullet intended for me in mid-flight. We all escaped from that ambush and I came back to New York to start my new life as Lucy Wuan, the identity that Selena created for me. This is the bullet that killed the old me back in Hawaii,” Lucy said proudly, nodding to Kara in gratitude as she tucked the bullet back inside her top.

Lisa and Lucy turned to each other and clinked their beer bottles together in some sort of celebration, the closing of that chapter in their story representing some key moment in their lives.

Lisa Kozny took a swig of her beer and thought on what came next. “By then Selena had kept her side of the bargain we had made,” Lisa said, reminding Laura that having helped get Kara through security at the airport Selena was to help get her badge back at the NYPD in return.
“The people responsible for stealing the union money were caught and I was reinstated as a detective. Selena showed me she could make a difference and by helping me do my job I could help her do her thing in return, reaching at people the law couldn't touch,”

“And that was what Selena had in mind for me too. Lisa wears the badge and I make sure that she stays clean. It's me that does the more clandestine work. Between us we make sure the bad guys pay,” Lucy explained.

“And in more ways than one. Bad guys get caught, do time, and I turn their corrupt money into money for charity, less our expenses of course. For us to have access to the criminals who move among the one-percent we need someone who can fit in. That’s why we need to create the illusion of Lucy’s trust-fund, party girl lifestyle,” Selena said before finally getting her top up of wine from McGee.

“So that's why you are in New York together now,” Neyra said, realising now how things fitted together.

“Wow,” Laura mouthed, rocking back into the sofa as she processed all that she had learned.

“So, like I warned you, if you were expecting a happy- clappy-parade of perfection this was not the right story for you. Kara I tortured, Lucy I bought, but I guess at least Lisa got a fair trade. McGee however has always looked out for me,” Selena explained, returning to her opening comment about their shared story.


“How we came together might not have been ideal but we have done some real good together,” Kara said trying to put a more positive spin on Selena's gloomy outlook.

Lisa turned her head to the stove, her senses alerted by something and knelt down in front of the glowing fire again.

“Hmmm, perfect!” she said as the aroma of mince pies filled her nostrils. “Who wants some?”


THE FIRST BIG ADVENTURE

The group had tucked into their mince pies and now the table was covered in plates that had tell tale crumbs and drops of cream left on them.

“So, keep going, what happened next?” Laura asked, eager to know more.

Selena sighed knowing that Laura wasn't going to let go, but as they had started she may as well continue. “We did the usual things I guess. Between me, Lucy and Lisa, we would keep the high end criminals in New York on their toes, at times pointing McGee in the right direction when we needed to and Kara continued rescuing children from burning orphanages, the usual do-good stuff. And then came the Sandersons.”

“The Sandersons? That was with the oil rig, right?” Laura asked excitedly. She had been there and seen the actual place though she suspected she was about to learn a lot more about the story behind it all.

“How did that begin…?” Selena said in thought.

“That was probably with me, right? And the day trader, Reeves I think,” Lisa said.

“I thought the start was back in the eighties,” Kara said innocently.

“The eighties? Old!” scoffed Laura only to hear laughed disapproval of her comment.

“Hey!” McGee protested causing Laura's neck to wind down to her shoulders in retreat.

Kara though was not offended, probably because she was untouched by the effect of age. She had been active on the planet since the sixties and her early 20-something appearance had remained constant all that time. In their first encounter Kara would have appeared older than Selena but now that appearance was very much reversed. Even Laura's apparent age was gradually catching up with Kara's now and before she would know it even she would have the outward appearance of being older. The eighties to Kara merely represented a chapter in her life and that was all.

“Yes, the eighties. I was asked to try and stop this asteroid thing from crashing to Earth. It wasn't going to destroy the world or anything but a small city could easily be wiped out if this thing hit. So, I took to space and went to take out this rock... only ...” Kara paused as she recalled the unsettling moment.

“The rock contained what we think was a crystal housing the mind of someone we later came to know as Vel. When Kara destroyed the crystal it set off a whole chain of unforeseen events. Some of the crystal burned up as it entered the atmosphere while some dust fragments got embedded in the solar panels of an orbiting satellite that had been nearby,” Selena continued.
“We don't understand the mechanism yet but somehow the particles that burned up on entry transmitted the mind of Vel and what we just call his monster into the Sandersons, Bobby and Kimberly,” Kara said, resuming where Selena had stopped.

“So, back then they were just kids at the time?” Laura asked.

“Yes, that’s right. Bobby seemed to fall under the influence of Vel the most, the alien mind seemingly being that of a genius. Many perceived Bobby's business success to have been based merely on luck but in reality it was Vel's ability to see and predict patterns that was helping him. Bobby grew a financial empire from using his acquired otherworldly skills until the Sanderson Corporation became a household name,” Lucy explained as she popped two beer bottles open, sliding one towards Lisa by her side.


Lisa raised the bottle in her hand, “But there was a price, along with Vel's mind there was also one belonging to some kind of monster and it was Kimberly who became its host. While Bobby and Kimberly acted as individuals Vel and the monster hidden within them seemed to have this subtle interplay. Kimberly would kill and Bobby would be granted business success. Bobby would strike a deal and Kimberly would kill again, it was a horrible vicious circle,” Lisa said before taking a swig of beer.

“Did they know that they were being controlled? Couldn’t they resist?” Laura asked.

“For Bobby the influence Vel had over him was so subtle he said he did not know a thing until near the end. But for Kimberly, the monster’s control was seemingly total,” Kara responded.

“But they caught Kimberly, right? She was awaiting trial,” Neyra recalled.

“That's right, but while she was there locked up Bobby was not doing so well. With the vicious cycle broken the monster couldn't kill and the genius of Vel faltered, leading the Sanderson Corporation to struggle. It was then, Bobby claims, he finally started hearing his sister in his head,” Selena explained.

“But wait, Lisa, you said something about some trader guy, Reeves? Who was he and how does he figure into all this?” Laura asked, wondering how all the threads pulled together.

Lucy caught Laura's eye knowing it was her turn to speak.“It turned out that Bobby's right hand man, Mike Loughlan had figured out this odd link between Bobby and his sister. He didn't want to sound crazy though so he tried to do things on his own. By intentionally sabotaging deals or betting against Bobby it kind of messed with Kimberly's fortunes and it was that which got her captured. On the side Loughlan was using Reeves to set up share deals to make money. But it wasn’t for personal gain, he was using his trades to help fund the support group for Kimberly's victims. Things went wrong however when Loughlan arranged an accident to happen on that oil rig you mentioned. Sanderson Corporation was in need of good news for that project. A financial bet made against them would have been worth a lot of money once the accident occurred,”

“I remember that in the news, and Kara even took Laura there once. The oil rig is a wreck after the accident, so what happened?” Neyra asked.

“Reeves was murdered before he could place the bet. I was the detective assigned to the case and in the end it had been nothing more than a random killing, a mugging gone wrong,” said Lisa. “Reeves had died defending a piece of paper, instructions from Loughlan to set up a trade that he had yet to make. And so when the rig blew the share account gained nothing. All I had to go on was that scrap of paper and some pencilled scrawl that had been in Reeves's hand but eventually Lucy and I traced it back to Loughlan,” Lisa explained as she recalled the case.

“With the rig blown up Sanderson Corporation was in trouble. To reverse his fortunes Bobby did what the torturing voices he began hearing told him to do. Break Kimberly out. With Kimberly free and her brother owning a remote and vacated fire-damaged oil rig he moved her there to keep her in hiding,” Selena said, sips of wine bookending her words.

“But you found her, right, Kara?” Laura asked, prompting Kara to shake her head.

Selena raised her glass for attention, “I had been asked by Lisa to use my own set of skills and investigate Reeves' suspicious share deals and the oil rig accident. While I was doing that I saw a glimpse of one of 'The Resolution' in a photo of survivors from the accident. I recognised him from Kara’s interrogation on the plane. It was because of that I thought there was something special about the Sanderson oil rig so I asked Kara to go check it out,”

“And boy was THAT a trap!” Kara said with a groan.

“A trap?” Neyra asked.

Kara nodded, “Do you remember that crystal, the one that held the mind of Vel? When I had shot it out of the sky thirty years ago I discovered that I had quite an allergy to it. Unfortunately for me it was Molly Matthews, working for Sanderson Corporation, that had just found more of that same crystal. It had been embedded into the solar array of a satellite which the Corporation had coincidentally retrieved and brought back down to Earth.”

“I did tell you, Schneider and Matthews are quite capable scientists, especially when working together. Although this was far from the toys they had made for me Molly quickly understood that the crystalline material she had found might have some interaction with Kara's abilities,” Selena explained.

Kara picked up the tale, “Somehow Matthews' discovery made it to the top boss, Bobby. We think some combination of Kimberly, Bobby, Vel and the monster understood how important the crystal was and so they hatched a plan. Bobby couldn't stand all the killing required for his business success yet Kimberly needed someone to toy with, so they decided who better to use than me? With the right balance of sun and that crystal Kimberly could get away with using me and never kill me, and with her satisfied, Vel and Bobby could dominate the financial world,”

“Oh my god, so when Selena sent you there to find out what ‘The Resolution’ people had been up to...” Laura began before covering her mouth as the scenario sunk in.

“Yes, Kimberly was already waiting for me with the crystals that her brother gave her. Somehow she knew I would come. And by the time I had arrived she had already prepared her trap,” Kara continued.

“As the rest of us began to figure out what was happening, the financial chaos got into full flow and Bobby was making a killing from it. Luckily I know someone with a long-range helicopter based in Iceland. Lucy and I went there then flew on to the rig in the North Sea to rescue Kara,” Selena said.

“In the meantime Kimberly was using me like an etch-a-sketch or a pin cushion. She kept saying she wanted to make me pretty. She was known as the body-mod killer, usually marking her victims with tattoos and piercings before finally killing them,” Kara explained sombrely as she saw Laura listen wide-eyed.

“And it was the monster's glee at all that torture that fuelled Bobby's success. The only way to stop the chaos was to stop the monster and that meant saving Kara. As we were only two and we had no idea how many people might be helping Kimberly we needed a good plan, and it was Lucy who saved the day,” Selena conceded.

“What did you do?” Laura asked excitedly.

“Lucy remembered a little trick that we had played on her. Remember how we planted a lie inside Kara's head to fool 'The Resolution'? Well Lucy tricked Kara to lie again, this time to Kimberly,” Selena explained, her tone set to tease Kara just gently.

“Oh come on, that's not fair!” Kara protested.

“It was a cruel deception, sorry Kara,” Lucy apologised.

“What happened?” Laura asked in surprise.

“The idea was that as I helped Kara to escape I would tell her that Selena had injured herself boarding the rig and was up on a higher deck. If I got Kara out unhindered, fine. But if anything were to go wrong ….” Lucy paused.

“Something went wrong,” quipped Selena, rolling her eyes.

“Bound and suspended upside down Kimberly began to work me over, it was torture,” Lucy said with a wink at Kara.

Laura looked between the pair with confusion not understanding causing Selena to scoff in amusement.

“What Lucy means is, it was torture for Kara!” Selena said with a smirk.

“How was I to know? I couldn't see?! All I could hear was Lucy gurgling up blood and Kimberly punching her,” Kara pouted.

“So of course I had put on a good show and Kara being Kara she sought to save me and told Kimberly about Selena being hurt. Trusting Kara's word Kimberly stormed off to get Selena. In the meantime all I had to do was escape, while hanging upside down, chained up, in the dark,” Lucy said, her cadence as she listed what she had to do reminding her that things had not been that straightforward.

“Once Lucy got me free and clear from those crystals I began to recover fast. By the time we got to Selena though, Kimberly had taken her hostage. Only by getting some of my strength back was I able to finally get Kimberly under control and then that was the end of that,” Kara said.

“I hit that woman with several Taser guns and she just walked them off like they were nothing. If it wasn't for respecting what I assumed would be your wish to keep Kimberly alive I would have just shot her,” Selena said defensively.

“But it was worth it, right? After figuring out I could force the alien minds out of Kimberly and her brother and back into some of those crystals they were normal again. They are alive and well and with witness protection now. That's got to be better than just killing the host?” Kara asked.

“Well if it was one of us I'd hope you would try fixing us before thinking to kill us,” Neyra said in support.

“That is a little closer to home than you realise. After all we only met you and Laura because we thought Laura might have had a case of Vel syndrome herself,” McGee reminded the group.


ARACHNOPHOBIA

“Pah, if I had some of that genius guy in my head I'd like to think I would be even more use than I am now,” Laura said dismissively.

“The trouble is it looks like you don't get to choose what blend of Vel and monster you end up with. That's why you had to be checked out carefully and you have no idea how much trouble THAT caused,” Selena said casting an accusing look at McGee.

“Yeah, yeah, everyone's a critic. I'm sorry kid but it was like I said. After these guys managed to fix Kimberly and Bobby we were on the lookout for anyone else who might be affected by those crystals and when I came across you, well, I had to say something. We thought you might be another psycho genius. Or maybe you were a product of what went on in that facility you were kept in,” McGee responded.

“See, everyone's life was so much simpler before YOU came along,” joked Neyra.

“Hey it's not my fault. One minute all I had to worry about was my lecture schedule and the next minute my body starts going on the fritz! I thought I was done with all that after puberty. The next thing I know I start sticking to stuff, or it all starts sticking to me. And as for the whole web thing ...” Laura explained, glancing down at her wrists.

“Just as Laura and I both started getting a handle on what was happening to her we were abducted. When we woke up in that underground facility we found we were with over a hundred other women. I can't believe our captors went through all that trouble to try and figure which one of us was YOU!” Neyra said ending with a playful prod of a finger into Laura's side.

“Yeah, I was no fan of the tests either you know,” Laura said defensively, “I know it sucked for everyone else failing the tests over and over again but for me, knowing I could avoid a shock but having to pretend I was no different than anyone else, that was frustrating,” Laura said, turning her head to face Neyra.

“Wow, they really were desperate to find you,” Lisa said. The case of the abducted women was far from New York and had been well off of her radar when it came up.

“Yeah, but they had already narrowed their search to about a dozen of us based on our date of birth. All the others we figured were some sort of control group for the experiments. Knowing they were so close to figuring out who I was, that was scary stuff,” Laura explained, her head turning to others around her as she spoke.

“But we got out, baby, we got out,” Neyra said affectionately.

“But not before...” Laura said sadly.

“Hey kid, don't dwell on that. That freak doctor got what was coming to him,” McGee said bluntly, downing the last of his drink which he chased down with another peanut. He had seen Laura's memories of what the doctor running the experiments had sought to do to her.

“McGee is right. Unlike you that man was free to choose his path, and he chose unwisely,” Lucy said, her wise eyes gazing intently at her young student.


“I only wish I could have read you from the start, it would have made our introduction much more... well …nicer,” McGee followed on.

“Yes, Kara. What a mess you made of that! See what you get from keeping secrets from me, the pair of you,” Selena said with narrowing eyes which she aimed squarely back at McGee.

“I guess the mess you are talking about is your first little confrontation on the roof?” Neyra checked, glancing between Kara and Laura.

“After you escaped the facility, yes. McGee had picked up that Laura was … different, when he was observing her giving her statement to the police. Worrying she might be another person infected by Vel he asked that I check her out,” Kara confirmed.

Laura turned to face Kara “A short while after things had died down with the police, I had gone out one night to see what other things I could do. By then I was confident with webs and climbing but my senses were still developing. Suddenly out of nowhere Supergirl came right for me!” Laura added.

“I landed on the roof where she was. I guess I just wanted to use my heat vision, just gently, to test if she glowed like Bobby and Kimberly had done while they were infected. So, I went to grab her and ...” Kara began.

“And I shot her in the face! With a web! Splat! I mean, I guess I didn't want to but, my instincts, my reflexes … I was just figuring it all out, and it just happened.” Laura blurted.

McGee covered his eyes in mock horror.

“So, you can imagine after the whole disaster I had dealing with Kimberly I overreacted a little and stepped up my game,” Kara explained.

“The next thing I know Kara is going all 'lazer eyes' melting that web off her face and I decide to run. So, I fire a web off across the street and am swinging away to safety when I got shot. She put a slice through my suit and me!” Laura said, tracing a line across herself with her finger.

“Poor Laura, all I remember was she was trembling and telling me she had shot you in the face with a web, like it was the end of the world or something. Luckily Laura heals up fast, Kara didn't leave a mark. Though I guess to have a scar from being zapped by Supergirl is a cool war-wound to have,” Neyra explained, recalling the events of that fateful evening.

“I'm sorry I was a little heavy handed but to be suddenly be surprised by what Laura could to, it was a bit of a shock. In the end though all I could do was admire how Laura managed to get away from me,” Kara said quietly.

Neyra watched on as Kara spoke, reading the heroine's expression. Laura had retold the tale a few times about what had transpired during the roof-top confrontation with Kara, the all powerful alien, but this was the first time Neyra got a feel for the events from the opposing perspective. What a horrible mistake it had all been, born of paranoia, but if anything it made Neyra respectful of Kara's humility and what Laura had achieved in the face of unwinnable odds.

“Let’s just mark this one up as what not do when meeting potentially infected people, eh? This was no one's fault. We are all learning.” McGee chimed in noticing the others voices getting louder.

“Oh well, at least I didn't get kidnapped again …. oh wait … I DID, didn't I!” Neyra said sarcastically.

“After Kara's botched attempt at trying to figure out what Laura was we had little choice,” Selena said, her disappointed expression only intensifying as she noticed her wineglass was empty.

"Sorry Laura but I had already done some homework, the team knew you and Neyra were close from the time leading up to being in that facility together. It was just a case of snatching Neyra to get your attention," Lucy explained.

Neyra glanced up at Lucy a moment, unseen by Laura. Selena understood what the tiny moment of anxiety was about though. After a brief time Neyra had sold Laura out, trusting that the mysterious Asian was telling the truth and that their intentions were good. Selena reasoned that tiny part of the story may have been left unsaid to Laura.

“You were lucky, at least they only wanted to use you as bait! You should have seen this lot come bailing out of a van in masks and tactical gear,” Laura said to Neyra with a laugh. At the time it had been no laughing matter. At the time all Laura knew was Neyra had been abducted and probably by the team of black clad mercenaries she was facing off against.

“Neyra made for good bait but we were a rubbish trap,” Lisa said in a deadpan tone.

“True, know your enemy, a wise man once said. But evidently we did not know very much,” Lucy said sagely.

“I swear, I told you everything I knew at the time. The webs and the climbing ...” Neyra shrugged.

“It's okay, Neyra. I did warn them that there seemed to be more than just that. But no, I had to be kept out of things. Just as Lucy makes sure Lisa doesn't have to risk the integrity of her badge Selena wanted to make sure that if anything did go wrong I could still come in, hands clean if Laura was going to get brought into the group, ” Kara explained.

Lisa scoffed. “Thanks, Selena. We outnumber her, you said. She's inexperienced, you said. We have Kara, you said!” Lisa began, her head bobbing side to side with each bullet point, her voice trying to mimic Selena's.

“Not this again!” Selena rolled her eyes, “Laura beat us ALL up, okay? You're just upset because you were the only one who got punched in the face...a lot ...” she smirked.

“WHERE IS SHE?!” Lucy growled, mimicking Christian Bale as Batman interrogating the Joker. It was the same question that Laura had demanded of Lisa in a bid to recover Neyra. Lucy could mock now but the others recalled how she had reacted seeing Laura's alter-ego Spydra lay into Lisa, a reaction not often seen in the cool headed mercenary.

Laura, mid swig of cola nearly had it explode up her nose in response to Lucy's imitation Batman.

“But I was punched on every syllable! Anyway, at least I didn't get tagged by a Taser” Lisa retorted with a playful nudge into Lucy's side.

Laura reacted, remembering that moment in the fight. “That was a cheap shot, trying to shoot me in the back, it was just instinct to dodge it.”

“Yes, I confess, I ended up accidentally shooting Lucy with my Taser. Well played you,” Selena said with a mocking tone, “I will just have to be content fast forwarding past that inconvenient memory to the bits I actually enjoyed!” Selena's eyes flashed wickedly back at Laura, the two red heads coming to an unspoken understanding.

Laura's smirk vanished as she remembered the rest. Eventually captured in the trap, her batteries forced to run flat, Selena and the gang had broken the young red head down. McGee finally was able to enter Laura's mind and see whatever it was she had been hiding. The threat of Vel was not there, but the slaying of the evil doctor was, something she was easily forgiven for. With her secret uncovered it was finally possible to consider drawing Laura and Neyra into the group.

“Oh you liar, you didn't enjoy it at all,” Kara said dismissively, and she was right. Despite Selena's wicked nature the breaking of Laura had not been pleasurable for her.

“Fine, take that from me then but it worked out in the end, didn't it? We figured out what was going on with Bug Girl and you got your wish, she's on the team. You're welcome!” Selena said, her eyes gesturing to McGee to top up her glass that was sat on the table.

“Bug Girl?” Laura gasped at the playful stab of Selena's words.

“Ignore her, Laura, we are really proud of you. You've come on really well,” Kara said, her tone changing away from the playful sarcasm and protestations from before and more towards her natural self.

“Thank you, but it's because of you all, you have been great teachers,” Laura blushed.

“And you did great in that test we set up,” Lisa added, referring to what Laura had thought was her first real mission as Spydra.

“Jeezus that test. I can't watch a movie now without having to check the ceiling for you looking down on me! Scared the hell out of me,” McGee jested with a belly laugh to follow.

The test was conducted in secret, Laura and Neyra unknowing that it represented a milestone in the fledgling heroine's training. The hired security knew it was a test but had no idea what Spydra's objective was, they just had to protect a building and its assets. Unfortunately everything got complicated by an unforeseen interplay between Spydra's senses and McGee who was there acting the role of V.I.P for the security team to protect. McGee had been watching a movie the moment Spydra had appeared directly over his head, crawling on the ceiling.

“Even today the people I paid to pretend to be McGee's goons ask me who you were. You did impress,” Selena conceded.

“Yes, that Russian, the ex-special forces man, he was quite sore the next day,” McGee added with a chuckle.

The collective smiles were sustained for a moment then slowly faded.





REALITY CHECK


“So, I wonder what the future holds?” Selena said after a brief pause. Her eyes, slightly unfocused on her wineglass, set it down onto the table with a hint of a clatter and a hiccup. The wineglass tipped over and fell, cracking the stem and woozily Selena recognised something was wrong.


“Oh but you are in the future now, you're just trying to make sense of it all,” Kara said, giving Selena a gentle squeeze.

“What?” Selena said with a hiccup.

“Don't you remember? The monster is back and inside Molly Matthews,” Lucy said with a frown.

“Oh yes, I forgot, she hacked all those databases, trying to figure out who we are,” Selena said, followed by another hiccup which she tried to contain with her hand over her mouth. Focusing hard Selena recalled how she had learned that the US government data infrastructure had been attacked. Sensing an opportunity to make some money she had sought to find out who the attacker had been.

“But, you hacked her back to find out what else she has been up to, right?” Lucy reminded the red headed hacker.

“Oh yes. She plans to use a tech demo..... the President will be there …the President will be ...in danger,” Selena remembered in her daze.

“Oh come on, do you really think Molly is really going after the President?” Lucy scoffed, taking another mouthful of beer.

“Even I can see through that,” Neyra added, tossing her head gently provoking her tight spiralled hair to bounce slightly before coming to rest.

“THINK, Selena. You're smart,” McGee said encouragingly.

Selena blinked, her heavy eyelids threatening to close again before she forced herself to hold on.

“Wow, she is not getting it at all, is she?” Laura said cheekily.

“Ever since you picked up on that hack job on all those databases you've known the monster has been looking specifically for you and the others,” Neyra explained.

“But … we stayed … one step …. ahead...” Selena managed to say.

“No, Selena. Molly has steered you into this trap on the plane!” Neyra continued.

“But .. I ...” Selena said sluggishly, her head shaking in disagreement.

“Selena. The new girl's right. I told you The Resolution came to my apartment. It may have been to get Lisa, or me, we don’t know. But even though we survived that you and I are on this plane … in Molly’s trap! Surely you must understand why!” Lucy said warmly, trying to coax Selena to see the answer.

“Supergirl? Molly is trying to keep us away from her?” Selena frowned dizzily.

“YES. Now you are getting it,” Laura smiled, sipping more cola.

“Don't you see, the President, that tech demo; it’s just like the oil rig. It’s another trap that you have sent me to. But this time, you and Lucy cannot come to rescue me. ” Kara said with a sigh.

“But what does Molly want with Supergirl …?” Selena asked anxiously, becoming a little more alert.

“To go to all this trouble I suspect the monster must have more in mind than just simple revenge,” McGee cautioned Selena.

“Oh god … what … have ...I … done?!” Selena exclaimed.

“It is not your fault. Vel is a genius, Molly is ambitious. Add a dose of monster into the mix and you get a powerful adversary,” Lucy said wisely.

“That's the same Molly you said you would keep tabs on, right? To make sure she doesn't remember how to shut Kara down?” teased Laura.

“Hush, Selena doesn't need thoughts like that right now,” Lucy cut in, raising her index finger to her lips.

“I need to know what Molly wants with Supergirl,” Selena said.

“Perhaps the tech-demo holds the key to discovering that answer,” Lucy said after thinking a moment.

There was a silent pause as Selena first contemplated Supergirl’s fate before thinking on how she and Lucy were going to escape their doomed flight. The plane was slowly killing them both along with all the other people on board.

“Lucy … the cockpit … you'll never make it ...” Selena said weakly as she remembered seeing Lucy leaving her seat on the plane.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. We both know I am never going to break into the cockpit. It's impossible. So… I guess there must be a better reason I have gone,” Lucy said with a shrug.

“A pilot … one of the pilots must be in on Molly’s plan,” Selena wondered aloud.

“Well, if Bobby and Kimberly were somehow locked together by Vel and the monster …” McGee began.

“Two … could there be just two infected people at any one time?” Selena asked herself.

“Now that is a good theory. Imagine if Molly’s partner is in the cockpit right now,” Laura said cheerily.

“Lucy ...it wasn’t just paranoia …she really knows something… maybe something about the pilot …” frowned Selena, her drunken voice holding a hint of hope in her tone.

“Perhaps she does, if you are lucky. Because if she doesn’t figure a way to get you to descend soon you and everyone else on that plane will be dead,” Lisa said with a wink before taking another swig of beer.

“Lisa, we still … have you ...in New York” Selena said, her wobbly head managing to look back across the table towards the detective.

“Do you? Well let's hope so. The last you heard about me 'The Resolution' came to kill me. If you're lucky they've not sent more to try and finish the job,” Lisa said.

Selena did remember. Detective Kozny had been targeted by the mercenary group but had been saved by Lucy just in the nick of time. That thought alone was enough to elevate Selena’s heart rate. With a sense of desperation Selena looked to see who might be able to save the day, her gaze falling on Neyra who planted a kiss on Laura's cheek.

“You two. The monster ... it’s not looking for you” Selena thought aloud.

Laura smiled back at Selena, “It doesn't look like it, does it? I think the monster only knows about last season’s winners and we weren't with you back then,” Laura said as Neyra began to toy with her hair.

“Doesn't know …” Selena exclaimed drowsily.

Selena suddenly felt a little relief knowing that Laura, one of the team’s most valuable assets, was off the monster’s radar, at least for now.

“That's right. But there is something else too that neither you or the monster knows,” Kara added, wrapping Selena in to her embrace.

“What.... what is that?” Selena asked, her head flopping back onto Kara's shoulder.
“I came to you for help, remember? The President has come up with a plan to help me in our fight against the monster, the ‘Infinity Plan’. I wanted you to run it for me but you refused. So who did I choose instead? Who could it be?” Kara teased.

“The Infinity plan… I don't know. McGee said no… Lucy, perhaps. I doubt Lisa would. Laura … not a chance … Neyra? What would she know? She’s just an artist …” Selena said, her head flopping over.

“Well, with any luck they aren't dead, dying or captured,” Kara said, her voice revealing her concern.

“Tell me, who has it?” uttered Selena weakly, her eyes almost drooping closed.

“You should know why I can't” Kara replied in a whisper, planting a kiss on Selena's head.

“Please...” Selena begged with a whimper.

“She can't because she never told you in the real world. All THIS is just in your head, stuff you know, your version of the truth,” McGee said, saluting Selena with his refilled shot glass.

“No... please” Selena managed before her eyes fell closed.


= = = = = = = = = = =

Selena sat slumped in her business class seat, the yellow drop down oxygen mask covering her face, her open glazed eyes staring ahead. Around her some of the other passengers were blacked out, a member of the cabin crew among their number. In front of Selena the in-flight entertainment system had been set to show the journey’s progress, a line arcing across a map tracing their route.
To one side of the plane icon on the map the flight data flickered with each update. External temperature -71C, Course 060, Speed 900km/h, Altitude 13000m....… 13000m …. 13000m …. 13000m …..12980m …. 12960m .... 12940m ......12920m …..

Lucy?!

The End
My avatar courtesy of https://www.deviantart.com/sleepy-comics

My current story is Supergirl V Reign


This is all the stuff I've done here but don't tell anyone about this!
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