Home 16-V

Miss You Most Of All.

A shower of concrete clattered and bounced off the floor as I withdrew my fist from the wall. A small cloud of dust poofed out at the same time, but a quick wave of my hand dispersed it before it could get to me. The hole itself was about 3 inches deep, and heavily compacted, but the area around it hadn't suffered the direct impact, and so it crumbled instead, like hard cheddar. That was annoying, so I stomped on the fragments and ground them down into dust. Then I hit the wall again, a few more times, leaving more indentations in a roughly circular pattern. I took a step back, frowning as I considered it, then stepped forward and kicked as hard as I could. The ensuing crater completely absorbed all the other smaller one I'd made, and sent cracks racing through the rest of the wall. The cloud of dust it produced was much larger, and some of settled on my bag where it was sitting, off to the side. My regular clothes were inside, but my goggles, scarf and poncho/cape thing on top, so they got a bit of dusting. I'd donned the basic trappings of the costume and bound my hair back into a bun, but I hadn't really needed the rest of it; I wasn't going anywhere, I was just trying to break some stuff.

The docks district of New Chicago had been a bad idea from the start. Sure, the old city had had a pretty decent shipping industry, bringing stuff in across the Great Lakes, but 9/11 kind of changed that. It wasn't that there wasn't any need for shipping: the supply and demand didn't just disappear. But even though New Chicago is on the complete opposite bank of Lake Michigan, far enough away that you can't even see Old Chicago a lot of the time, there was still a stigma. People don't really think rationally about things like radiation. So although the city planners, desperately accelerating plans they hadn't expected to use for another decade because of 9/11, had included a shipping industrial area to rival or surpass the old one, it got maybe one tenth of the use they'd projected it would have. So now a decent stretch of the harbourside, pretty much a good two-thirds of the western side of Ogontz Bay, was covered in abandoned warehouses, empty docks and emptier offices. Some still got use, obviously, but for the most part, it was a ghost town. I could see why the Outliers had set up shop here.

I'd not returned to the same warehouse I'd used last time, when I was first testing out my powers. It was probably paranoia, but better safe than sorry. Instead, I'd basically wandered around until I'd found one that had a bunch of stuff inside. And then I proceeded to destroy all of it.

There was a large metal shelving rack nearby, and, finished terrorising the wall, I stalked over to it, rubbing my hands together, shoulders clenched. To keep myself safe from debris, I'd left my real body sitting just outside the door, in the intermediary portion between inside and out. If I died because I accidentally hit myself with a piece of shrapnel, I'd never live it down.

Because I'd be dead.

I bent down and grabbed the bottom of the rack, still dense, and lifted. There was basically no resistance, but there was a loud screeching, warping sound, and the rack didn't move in the slightest. I looked down to find myself holding two handfuls of compressed metal, and two vertical trails of destruction through the rack. Well, that was just unsatisfying. I grabbed one of the vertical beams with both hands, about a meter in length, and pulled it off, leaving me with a crude spear. There was a large wooden crate on the other side of the room, so I hefted my new weapon, careful not to destroy it in my grip, and hurled it at the box. It blurred through the air in a blink, and the old, rotting wood shattered as it pierced it all the way through, sending fragments flying away. The spear itself got buried almost halfway into the concrete, glowing a little with heat.

I was breathing heavily. When had that happened? I didn't even need to breath. Stupid.

The contents of the crate had spilled out, little rubber bouncy balls, and I walked over and began methodically compacting each one to about the size of a marble. I had done about ten when a phone rang from inside my bag. Not mine, the burner Flatline had given me.

I pursed my lips, and walked over and answered it. “Hello?”

“Jesus flipping Christ,” swore the voice on the other end. “Are you going to kill me?”


“You sound like you've just killed someone, and I don't think it's a stretch to assume I'm next when you're talking like that.”

“Who is this?” I asked flatly.

“Wha- seriously? It's Kai. With the sunglasses?” Oh right. Mirror.

“What do you want?”

“Are you kidding me with this- I'm trying to help you, you mood-swinging psychopath. Christ! Did someone kill your family?”

“What do you have?” I asked, ignoring her waffling on.

“F*** me, lady, you really know how to show gratitude. I found your godd*mn supervillains, the least you can do is thank me.”

“What?! Where?!”

She rattled off an address. It was on the north side of town; pretty much as far away from me as it was possible to be. “Don't rush, though: they're gone now.”

Some of the anticipation bled out of me. “Where were they? What were they doing?”

She sucked in air through her teeth. “It's probably easier if I show you.”

“I'll be there in like an hour?” I said, immediately hurrying over to my bag.

“An hour?”

“I'm on the other side of town,” I snapped. “I don't exist at your convenience.”

“And I don't exist at yours, so rein in that attitude a couple of hundred degrees, or we’re going to have problems.”

“One hour,” I repeated, and hung up.

I reached down for my bag, but saw the goggles on top, and paused.

“...she does have a point, you know. This whole business is insanely stupid.”

I'm helping people, I snapped back. She'd see that if she pulled her head out of her own butt for just a second. 'ooh, look at me, I'm Sabah, and I'm so mysterious with all the secrets that I can't share with my best friend, even though she immediately told me everything about her big secret. Also, I'm way prettier than Hannah, and I'm going to subtly lord that over her forever’.

“You're being idiotic now, and you know it. Do you reallythink she's doing it to spite you? No, of course not, because that's dumb. And even putting that aside, she's still right. We're technically a criminal, and we just keep on digging this grave.”

I. Am. Helping. People.

“You're running around butting your nose in situations that people much more experienced and competent than you are having trouble handling.”

Comet asked me to help her. I'm doing this for a legal authority, and to help Kai.

“Do you even listen to yourself? You're changing the goalposts constantly. You're just trying to justify your own half-baked decisions any way possible.”

I leant down and picked up the bag and the stuff on top, moving it over to next to my real body. Yeah, well, you're an imaginary voice that's probably representative of all sorts of unhealthy mental issues.

“That's not a defense! That's not even a good-”

I poofed, suddenly back in my body, sitting on the floor, back against the wall. I stood up, donned the rest of my costume, and stalked out of the warehouse, leaving nothing behind but the devastation, and a lingering, almost but not quite quashed, feeling of uncertainty.

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