The attack on Federal City was over before it had properly begun, and the city (town? village? quest hub?) inhabitants were celebrating - an option I’m not sure would have even (or ever) occurred to them a few hours ago. Charlotte - Ghost Girl - was the heroine of the day, despite looking more than a little grim whenever her eyes drifted in the direction of the downed enemy transports.
Jason was… somewhere, having a lively discussion with Rusty (and, presumably, Byron Quill, though I wasn’t sure how much he could contribute at the moment).
Achilles Chin was busy looking tired, stunned, and apprehended.
No one really seemed to know what to do with the slightly glowing girl with an aversion to chairs, or the scowling outsider who’d come topside with Jason Quill and seemed disinclined to either celebrate or surrender – it only seemed polite to go say hello.
(Or, at least, politeness was a useful pretext for staying close and keeping an eye on the well-armed international terrorist hyper-genius.)
She sensed me coming, despite the fact I was physically unable to give myself away with some unwanted noise. One moment, she was frowning at the pockmarked capitol building, the next she was facing me, two guns leveled at the middle of my forehead.
We stayed in that position for several seconds, both taking the other in, both totally calm. (She, after all, had all the weapons, while I happened to know she wasn’t pointing them anywhere dangerous.)
“Hello,” I said. “I’m --”
“Dressed like him.” Her eyes narrowed. “And a hard light projection.”
I rocked my head to the side in something like a shrug. “Not what I was going to say.”
“I don’t care what you were going to --” She tilted her head, inclining it forward a few degrees. “You sound like one of my dad’s assassin drones.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I wasn’t under the impression they were programmed for conversation.” It wasn’t what she’d meant. I knew what she meant - the propulsors on the drone shell gave off a soft whine at 23 kilohertz - but I also knew she shouldn’t be able to hear it.
“Adorable,” she muttered. “He built a bodyguard out of old parts and programmed it to flirt.”
My eyes narrowed. Not angry, exactly; just picking my way. “We built a shell out of old parts, to house my consciousness, the inception of which he had nothing to do with.” I let the corner of my mouth curl. “And I flirt because I like knowing who can keep up.”
Her eyes widened, less than a millimeter, and… she… blushed? Barely, but still.
The guns vanished, and she turned back toward the large building in the distance. “Can he?”
“Jason? It varies.” I turned the same direction. “Wildly.”
A quick, soft snort. “I remember.”
“Mmm,” I said in wordless agreement, watching her without looking her direction (one of the benefits of a hard light body with three hundred sixty degree visual scanning). Her faint smile faded, just the way his did whenever he thought about remembering for more than a moment. Of course.
I discarded any of a dozen things I might have said that would have done no good, or raised her defenses, then turned to leave. “You, on the other hand, seem to do just fine.” I called back, just loudly enough to carry. “That’s promising.”
It was… rewarding to see the look on her face.
Especially since she didn’t know I had.
author: Doyce T.