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Chapter: 19

Haruo groaned inwardly as he scratched at his large gut as he watched the workers he was in charge of load the latest shipment of Guardian Spheres for transportation.

"We need new Spheres and we needed them yesterday," she said. He grimaced, remembering the pleasant conversation he had with the secretary of the Troy division of PlanPol as she filed the order with him. What a bitch. As if it's my fault that they didn't get their replacements the very second a third of their force was destroyed. We're only people here. We move as fast as we can and as soon as we get the word. What does she expect? None of us are psychics.

He grimaced again. He was tempted to tell the secretary that the next time she called, railing on him about not doing the impossible.

If she really wanted that, maybe she ought to hire some heroi to do the job for her. Like maybe some of those teleporters. Oh wait. That's right. They're fucking illegal!

His employees unfortunately didn't share in his aggravation, as the number being asked for packing and loading was not such that it required them to work overtime. Things would get done in due time and then PlanPol would have their numbers restored to optimum operation levels. Really, it was mainly the travel time that took the longest.

Of course, people who always demanded that work be turned in the very second it's asked for never seemed to get that things took time, even with the directive to just "get it done". Haruo supposed that the secretary had her reasons for acting that way. After all, Troy, like most cities, tended to be sitting on a powder keg with their high number of heroi population. There was a fear that so much as the slightest slipup could cause that powder keg to explode and then everything would become unraveled.

The Old World never seems to have that problem, Haruo mused, turning away from his office window to pick up a news magazine, the Weekly Globe, and start thumbing through it. Well, except for old Rome…

The sudden explosion of his window as a sonic force shattered it caused him to fall out of his chair with a shout of surprise. Glass rained down on him and he covered himself with his hands to protect his face from their razor sharp edges. Before he could even begin wondering just what had happened, the sound of screams and metal being destroyed followed the explosion, giving him a pretty good idea that whatever was going on, it was by far not good.

Climbing to his feet as rapidly as he could, paying no mind to the glass that sliced at his hands, he staggered over to the broken window to see what was going on, a question already forming on his lips…

…just in time to see the torn off front of their truck flying right at him.

"Shit," Haruo muttered a mere second before the truck impacted his office, burying him beneath its weight. A powerful, animalistic howl blanketed all other noise as a dark shadow spread out across the opening in the factory's garage door.

###

Teruo placed a finger against Michael's cheek and poked at him. In response, the agent grunted and shifted his position on the couch. Other than that, he didn't react. Teruo smiled and nodded to himself.

He's asleep, he thought quietly to himself. Took him long enough. Now I can move out. This should keep him out until I get back. I hope it does anyway, otherwise I'm going to be in serious trouble when I get back.

Snatching up his book bag, he headed out the door and went into the garage, pulling out his bicycle. Climbing on it, he looked around before taking off. He felt so awkward and slow, pumping the pedals, but at the moment he lacked any other form of transportation.

My jet pack would have been nice if it hadn't been confiscated, he scowled. He had a slew of other inventions as well, like the anti-gravity devices that he wanted to attach to his shoes to provide him with a more efficient method of traveling, but unfortunately he lacked the materials—not to mention the fuel source—to make it viable. So until he solved that problem, he was stuck with the crude and simple method of travel by peddling around and relying on gravity to do its job in the right places.

At least it's mostly downhill just getting there, he mused, the wind starting to muss with his green and white dyed hair.

Still, the sheer amount of time it would take to get to where he needed to go annoyed him a great deal.

Oh well. My genius is just going to have to deal with it until I'm old enough to build my own nuclear reactors. For now, I just need to focus on how to solve my current puzzle. He chuckled as the road started to dip downward. He was going to have to thank Kitsune again for his hacking abilities. The Meta Foundation's new satellite system had helped him a great deal. He grinned, feeling a touch of excitement. All I have to do now is use my own breed of magic.

###

Kira lay on her bed, reading one of her favorite books—a fictional piece titled Troy's Avengers—but unfortunately finding herself unable to become terribly interested in it. Frustrated, she closed the book up and tossed it to the side in an ungraceful manner and turning her head over the small tubular device lying on her nightstand. She felt Sparky's body pressing against her leg and she reached over to scratch at his fur.

She didn't feel better for the animal's presence, but for a brief moment she could at least distract herself from the strange sense of foreboding that had crept up on her since her meeting with Malcolm the other day. She glanced at the tubular device on her nightstand again. It was an old design of the Companion Device, decommissioned but still recent enough to connect with any of the newer models and fill in the gaps during shortages in the production lines.

All I need to do is activate it when I'm near Beth, and it will take care of the rest, she thought to herself. She sighed and turned her head. Something felt off, but she couldn't place it. Is it because she… Kira paused. It, she corrected herself, didn't file a report about when Jamie used his powers? That's not normal for a Companion to do. Not normal at all. What would Malcolm's virus do if I activated it when it's acting like that?

Still, this was what it took to get to her goal. The meeting with Bishop had fallen through after all and for whatever reason he had tapped Jamie to take his place. She narrowed her eyes. Why did Bishop activate that kid? He hasn't done anything except jump across the street and break his ribs like an idiot. I can already do that. Well, minus the breaking ribs part since I'm practically invulnerable.

She was tempted to get into her 'costume', such as it was, and go pick a fight with Jamie, if only so that she could get a better idea of what his power range was and what he could do. Was he an Alpha or a Beta? The distance he jumped makes me think of something a bit further down the road, but powers seem to change quickly when they're growing. I remember there was a time when I lost my ability to fly for a couple weeks. That wasn't fun. She grimaced, remembering the day she found out the hard way. Invulnerability was fun, but that hadn't stopped her nerves from doing their job then either. That had fluctuated as well.

She sighed and swung her legs over the side of her bed. No, she wasn't going to start anything with Jamie. Fighting would only complicate things. In spite of her misgivings, she was going to have to be patient. Picking up the old Companion Module, she pocketed it and grabbed Sparky's leash.

"Want to go for a walk?" she asked, but for once the puppy just sat there and looked at her, big, dark eyes looking awfully pitiful, as if to say, "Do I have to?"

"No, I guess you don't," she said simply, hanging up the leash. "But I do. See you later, Sparks."

Stepping outside, she found herself grateful that her mother had gone in to work today. Given the amount of money that she made now, she could afford to choose when to work and who she worked for, and often than not she chose to stay home to work on her clothing designs. Her going in today gave Kira the rare opportunity to blow off some steam with her powers.

Skies are clear, she thought. Closing her eyes, she concentrated briefly, and a dim light flared around her lithe form. With a light tap on the ground with her foot, she floated into the air, and a small smile crossed her features as she felt the familiar sensation of levitation. Almost at once, she felt her anxieties melt away.

Okay, she thought. Let's get go…

"So how long have you been able to do this?"

Kira's eyes snapped open to find Amanda floating in front of her, arms folded beneath her breasts and a very displeased look on her face. Kira jerked backward, putting some distance between herself and the woman as her mind tried frantically to make sense of what was happening.

"Mom! Wha…?

"On the ground," Amanda stated firmly, her eyebrows narrowing ever so slightly. "Right now. You and I are going to have a talk."

Kira hesitated for a bit, her heart beating a furious drumbeat in her chest, but she acquiesced to her mother's order…for now. The two floated down to the ground together, and their feet soon touched the ground.

"What are you doing here?" Kira demanded, her surprise starting to give way to anger.

"I'll be asking the questions here, young lady. How long have you had your powers?"

Kira ground her teeth together, feeling heat rise in her chest. "A while," she replied vaguely.

"Should I take a while to mean since that incident with your friend?" Amanda eyed her daughter carefully, taking note of every subtle nuance in her daughter's reaction.

"Jamie has nothing to do…"

"I wasn't talking about him. I heard you say a while, and as near as I can tell, Jamie was quite recent. His powers are still developing after all. I know the signs. I'm far too old to not recognize them."

"You didn't catch mine," Kira shot back, stepping to the side.

"I didn't," Amanda admitted. "I haven't been very attentive as a parent since Ran disappeared."

"You haven't been much of a parent at all," Kira seethed. "You didn't even look for her!"

Amanda narrowed her eyes. "And whatever gave you that impression?"

Kira balked at that, but only for a moment.

"You… What? Have you been talking to PlanPol? Trying to get them to look for…for a heroi?! Mom! Those people don't give a damn about us! They…"

A sharp gust of wind blasted over Kira, and at once her mother was standing directly in front of her, eyes leveled on her and arms still folded over her chest. Kira staggered back, once again surprised. She hadn't even moved!

"Watch your language, young lady," Amanda warned in a soft, but firm tone. Kira swallowed unconsciously, seeing a fire stir to life in her mother's eyes.

Gathering the tattered remnants of her concentration, her F.S. Field flared around her body and an angry cockiness descended over her.

"Oh yeah? Or you'll do what?"

For one moment, Kira entertained the insane thought that she was going to end up fighting her mother. A thrill of emotion shivered through her body, and she found herself unpleasantly taken with the thought. All her anger and frustration…could it at last find release? After all this time?

"How long, Kira?" Amanda asked again, this time in a tone the girl had never heard before. There was no longer the undertones of mere anger, but the far off approach of what Kira could only describe as a hurricane looking for only the slightest excuse to cut loose.

Does she feel the same way? Kira felt her hands clench and unclench like the valves in her heart, beating in time with its rhythm. It seemed as though the storm was about to burst.

Summoning as much control over herself as she could, Kira backed away.

"I don't have to tell you anything, Mom," she said. "You'd rather sell yourself out to PlanPol or whoever it is that you're working with rather than doing anything yourself. Ran was my sister and you didn't do anything!"

"Kira…"

"Forget it! I'm out of here!" With that, Kira leapt into the air, taking flight…only to be stopped as a hand snagged her by the foot and brought her crashing to the ground on her stomach. It wasn't a hard impact—though she wouldn't have felt it anyway if it had been the opposite—but it definitely got her attention. Coughing up dust billowing up from the force of her impact, she rolled over, glaring venomously at her mother, only to stare in stupefied wonder as she found that the woman didn't so much as appear to have moved so much as an inch.

"You're not leaving, Kira," she said simply, her expression stern. "Not until you answer my question. How long have you had your powers?"

Growling, Kira got to her feet and again tried to take to the air again, but once more that hand was back, snatching at her ankle and yanking sharply. This time though, Kira was ready. Her F.S. Field flaring, she pulled her leg free. Smiling triumphantly down at her mother—now she was there beneath her, eyes blazing—and prepared to take off again.

Quite unexpectedly though, her mother grabbed her by the front of her shirt and left arm. Pulling again, she brought her daughter slamming to the ground, this time creating a sizeable dent from the impact. Kira's eyes went wide as she felt the wind go out of her lungs, and she lay there, curled up in a ball, gasping for air. Her mind was white with shock and anger. Her mother…

"Kira," came Amanda's firm voice, yet for a wonder it had acquired a more gentle tone to it. Kira's eyes flashed as the woman knelt down beside her, bringing a soft hand on her head. Something snapped inside the girl just then. Rolling to her feet, her F.S. Field flared with even greater intensity and, throwing as much strength into her arms as she could, she spread her hands against her mother's chest and shoved her. Now it was Amanda's turn for her eyes to go wide with surprise as she was propelled through the wall of their house, smashing through it and disappearing into the depths of their home until she exploded out through the other side.

Her anger cooling, Kira stood there for a moment, completely and totally taken aback by her own actions. Did I…? Did I just…? Clenching her eyes shut, her mind recoiling over what she had just done, she pushed up off the ground and…

"I said you are not leaving until you answer my question," came Amanda's voice as she suddenly appeared in front of her.

"Wha…?" was Kira's flummoxed response as she flew at the woman. Amanda shifted slightly and braced herself while Kira brought her arms up to protect herself from the impact that was sure to follow. She was going too fast to change course! She…

"Guh!" Kira gagged, breath once again leaving her lungs as Amanda's fist imbedded itself in her solar plexus. Dark spots flooded her vision and her entire body went limp, falling into her mother's awaiting arms.

Amanda held her now unconscious daughter in her arms for a moment, gently patting her back with a pained expression. Dropping down to the ground, she brought her into the broken house and entered the living room—having escaped the damage from her being blasted through the house. Laying her across the couch, she brushed aside her daughter's bangs and sighed heavily.

"There's going to be no hiding this," Amanda mused, looking at the damage to the house. "I've done all I can and now…" She shook her head. "Oh Kira. You take after your father too much." A low chuckle emerged from her lips as she took in her daughter's pale face. "And me too it seems."

Her expression became serious just then as she heard the barking of Kira's dog from her room. Getting up to comfort the animal, she cast one last look over her shoulder at her still sleeping daughter.

"We're going to have quite a bit to talk about when you come around…"

###

Looking out over Troy from the PlanPol main office building Mallory leaned against the ladder leading up to the building's transmitters, calmly smoking a cigarette. Taking a deep drag, she held the smoke in her mouth, tasting it for a moment before blowing it out smoothly.

Ah, she thought, closing her eyes, basking in the sunlight.

The day had been far too busy from her point of view, at least for the various agents that were having to deal with the latest crisis. She didn't envy them one bit. The loss of man-power—or more accurately the loss of mechanical power—was forcing PlanPol's Troy division to send more of their biological agents into the field to pick up the slack. She could almost feel the frustration and exhaustion from her coworkers. It wasn't bad yet, but there was a clear difference in how they felt now versus their normal operational standards.

A lot of our work depends on the Guardian Spheres, she thought, taking another drag on her cigarette. Hope nothing bad happens while we're waiting for reinforcements.

A shadow fell over her just then, and Mallory opened her eyes to find a dark-haired man wearing what appeared to be a tattered, black-leather jacket. Pale lips curled upward into a dead-like smile, but they did not reach his eyes, whose irises were colored a disturbing silver.

"Who…?" she began before the man raised a gloved hand. White light stabbed outward from his palm, and a blinding pain screamed across her vision.

###

A/N: This chapter was a bit of a struggle, primarily with Kira's scene with her mother as I wasn't certain which direction I wanted to go with it. I knew that I wanted to have them confront each other, but the 'how' was the problem, as I didn't want to have Amanda appear abusive or Kira to be too over the top. This has given me a great deal to think about concerning heroi culture and how parents might respond to their 'overly powered children', especially when they're going through puberty. What does one do when a child is capable of leveling a city block on their own and invulnerable to armor-piercing tank rounds? Any thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

-Crazyeight

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