7 Random Days in the Life of a Hero: Linda Scoven - Tuesday

7 Random Days in the Life of a Hero

Subject: Linda Scoven, Tuesday




The tall, dark haired woman sighed wearily as she slowly staggered down the well lit hall, past rows of numbered doors.  Eighteen hour day, no serious calls, but EVERYONE needed me to cover an area for them.  The memories of the day brought a scowl to the woman's face as she fumbled for the key to her apartment, the piece of metal somehow managing to be extra elusive within the light jacket she wore.

Giving up on the key, the woman brought her finger up to the lock and twisted her hand.  The sound of the deadbolt sliding unlocked was faintly audible as the woman remained mired in her own thoughts.  They could have at least remembe-...

"SURPRISE!"  The enthusiastic chorus that came immediately as the door swung open set the apartment's occupant literally leaping back across the hallway to hit the wall with a shriek of shock, followed immediately by a wave of laughter and catcalls at the high-strung response.

Linda Scoven maintained an angry glare in the face of that laughter for about 5 seconds, then she too broke down and began laughing at her own response.  "You BASTARDS.  You made me do all the busy work today, and made me think you all forgot?"

"How could we forget what YESTERDAY was?"  Another glare as the emphasized word reminded the brunette again of the ridiculously long hours she had just worked.  The short bald man that was positioned front and center in the crowd that had invaded the woman's apartment responded to the glare with an amused look.  "Now get in your apartment before you get all of us in trouble."

Grumbling, the brunette pushed off the wall and strode into her home.  The door swung softly shut behind her, at which point the volume in the room easily tripled as everyone began cheering again.  Linda spent a moment wondering how she was going to find the energy to survive the party her colleagues had apparently planned for her, when a gentle hand touched her shoulder and a flash of light left her with a renewed sense of energy as if she'd just awoken from a long and restful sleep.

"Glad you could make it, Reset."  Linda offered the shorter woman a grateful smile as she spoke.

"It's Maddie, Linda.  No uniforms, no silly names.  Now get in there and enjoy your graduation party!"

The tall brunette needed no further encouragement, as she now walked confidently through the crowd towards her abode's kitchen.  Waiting there was a dizzying array of foods, taking up so much space that Linda paused and began mentally pacing off the area she was standing in.

"Yes, it's bigger than normal."  The familiar voice of Ed, the Hero Fast Break, her mentor for the past two years came from just behind her.  "Distortion owed me a favor, so I had him make your place big enough to hold everyone that wanted to come.  That's also keeping the place soundproofed, in case you were wondering why your neighbors don't have the police beating down the door."  The speedster slid past his former intern as he spoke and snagged a platter of finger food to take back out to the main room.

"You guys shouldn't have done this, really."  Linda was surprised to feel wetness in her eyes as she realized how much she was going to miss all the friends from Street Level who had shown up tonight to see her off.

"You think we would let you go without a proper going away?  Have you learned NOTHING of value in the past two years?"

"Eat quickly, there's always going to be an emergency when food becomes available."  The deadpan response drew laughter from Ed, and several others close enough to hear it.  The laughter spread farther around the room as a small man leapt up onto the back of Linda's couch to turn the flippant remark into a toast.

After the noise had a chance to settle for a moment Linda continued the conversation.  "I was hoping for something a little more low key, you know NOT an all night bash when I have an interview at 8am."

"We know about your interview, it's taken care of!"

A hard look came over the tall woman's face, and the shorter man began verbally backpedaling as quickly as he could.  "Not like that, not like that!  We have Maddie, Reset, here!  She will be staying all night, so even if you choose to party until the sun comes up you will be fresh and alert when you go and make the biggest mistake of your short career as a Hero."

Linda's expression softened as Ed explained his meaning, though she completely ignored his attempt to bait her into another argument concerning the team she had chosen to apply for now that her internship was finished.  "Well in that case, why the hell am I still sober?"




"God, please, if you can hear me, kill me now."  The heartfelt prayer that met the sound of an alarm clock going off was met, not with divine murder, but a melodious chuckle.  Linda pulled her head up from the cushion it was nearly attached to and noted that she seemed to have left her hair behind.  The giggle turned into a gasp of surprise.

"Oh. My. God."  Reset, back in costume and simply waiting for the guest of honor to wake up so she could finish her last party duty held both hands up to her face to cover the smile and TRY to keep from bursting out laughing.  "You...  You have..."

"Yes, my natural hair color is pink.  Thank you."  The exhausted and hungover woman turned a glare towards her friend that could have burned a hole through solid steel.  "If you ever, EVER, tell anyone, they will never find your body."

"I don't think it's THAT bad."

"Never.  Find.  Body."  After carefully enunciating the three words, Linda raised her hands to massage her temples in an effort to alleviate the throbbing in her head.  "Now fix, please."

A flash of light later and Linda felt fully refreshed.  A quick glare managed to cut off another bout of laughter as she snatched her extremely expensive and realistic wig from where it had become wedged between the couch cushions and headed towards the shower.

"Good luck today, Linda!"  The taller woman sighed as she could still hear the barely suppressed laughter in the voice of the healer in her living room.

Leaning back out from the bathroom, Linda locked eyes with her friend for a long moment and repeated.  "Never.  Find.  Body."




20 minutes.  Five calls from THEM to make sure I knew when the interview was, and to get here early so I could get passed through security.  TWO of those calls yesterday.  And they keep me waiting in a lounge without so much as a cup of coffee for TWENTY MINUTES and they still haven't even TOLD me anything.  Gloved hands reached up and ran through shoulder length dark hair in frustration.  And no matter how this goes, I can't even bitch about it to my friends later because the 'I TOLD YOU SO' I'd get would probably kill me.  Or them.

"Trick Move?"  The speaker next to the impressive looking door that the Hero had gotten time to study in DETAIL relayed the question asked by a polite, masculine voice.

"That's me."  Linda winced inwardly as she tried, and failed, to completely conceal her irritation at being left to wait in the lobby for so long.

"We apologize for the delay.  Please, come in."  As she stood the tall woman tried to decide if she was more perturbed or less that the voice hadn't attempted to offer excuses or explanations over the speaker.

We'll go with 'less' as long as someone explains something in person.  Otherwise I think I'm going to owe Ed a VERY expensive bottle of scotch.  The door slid open revealing a short hallway composed entirely of steel panels, and another matching door at the far end.  Wow, when they said they needed a Subtlety Hero I wonder if they knew how bad.  This is the same security system as they have on the way in.  Anyone that can beat it once isn't going to be slowed down much needing to beat it twice.

The outer door slid silently shut as soon as Linda cleared the track, and the inner door opened before she'd made it halfway down the 15ft long corridor.  At least they aren't going to make me wait to get scanned AGAIN.

Clearing the over-designed entryway, the dark haired woman stopped to look around in surprise at the massive room she had entered.  The walls sloped gently up to a dome shaped ceiling at least fifty feet up, and the wall to her left contained the single largest television, I bet they call it a monitor, that the woman had ever seen; by an order of magnitude.

"I apologize again for the delay, Trick Move."  Linda turned and barely hid an expression of shock as she saw the man greeting her.  "There was an emergency call from Portland that required Paladin's expertise, and we had to scramble a bit to get a third senior member in to HQ for your interview.  I'm Star Fall by the way, you may have heard of me."  The grin that accompanied the end of the speech drew a slight blush from the female Hero.

Guess I didn't completely hide my surprise.  The man in front of her was one of the founding members of the Hero team Linda was interviewing to join, the Guardian Elite.  The brunette was a little surprised to realize that she stood the same height as the male Hero.  Even though the man had to be pushing 60 by now, he still looked as athletically fit as a fresh HCP graduate, and wore no real signs of age or wear in spite of the decades of hard service in his chosen vocation.

Linda blushed again as Star Fall turned slightly and adopted a pose similar to one seen on the cover of many comic books, and realized she'd been staring for longer than she'd intended.  "I'm sorry, sir. I really didn't expect to be meeting you today.  I've looked up to you for a long time."

"I shall see about getting some thicker boots, so that you may continue to look up to me."  The unexpected joke drew genuine laughter from the female Hero.

"I think you'd look silly in heels."  The response drew a brief chuckle from the older Hero before he turned and motioned the newcomer to follow him.

"We should get this interview out of the way and get you to work as quickly as possible.  To the board room!"  The tone of the final sentence, an almost perfect mimicry of all the over-dramatic catchphrase lines that Linda remembered from Hero movies and cartoons growing up drew another round of laughter from the woman as she followed.

As the two Heroes entered the room Linda was surprised again to discover that she would be interviewed by not one founding member of the team, but BOTH of them.  Though he wasn't wearing anything nearly as iconic as Star Fall's gleaming silvery costume, there couldn't be anyone else on the team over eight feet tall and composed seemingly of nothing but muscles layered on top of muscles.  If they do have a second strongman like that, they must dress them both the same and the media hasn't caught on yet.  The final interviewer awaiting Linda's arrival was also a bit of a surprise to the young Hero.  Blue Path, currently the team's ONLY female Hero, offered a smile of greeting that also seemed to contain notes of both pleading and apology.

"I believe you're familiar with your other interviewers, however to be complete please allow me to make proper introductions.  Trick Move, may I present the Heroes Blue Path and Conquistador, though since he's not masked he'll just be Scott for this meeting."

"A pleasure to meet you, Trick Mo-..."

Blue Path's welcome was cut short by a loud snort from the huge man.  "I still say this is idiotic, Star.  We already met the affirmative action quota with one set of tits on the team."

Suddenly Linda found herself working VERY hard to not do anything that would result in her losing her Hero status.  Like murder.  "I believe you may discover, Scott, that there isn't actually a LIMIT to the number of women that can be on a team."

"Just cause it ain't a rule doesn't mean it's a good idea."

"Yes Scott, your objections to having more female members join the Guardians have been noted and unanimously overruled by the other senior team members."  Linda noted and was somewhat thankful for the apologetic glance the silver-suited Hero threw at her as he made his way around the table and was out of the big man's line of sight.  "So with introductions out of the way, shall we get started?"

"Fine.  I vote 'No.'"  The interviewee wasn't even particularly shocked at the statement from the oversized misogynist at this point.

"Excellent, then you can get back to whatever you were doing with your morning before we had to call you in here for this, and Star Fall and I can actually CONDUCT the interview and see if Trick Move joins the team with a two out of three vote."  The exceedingly sweet, singsong tone Blue Path caused both Linda and Star Fall to chuckle slightly, growing into outright laughter as the Hero in blue and white continued with, "Goodbye!" and the enormous man disappeared in a flash of brilliant azure light.

"I would like to apologize for my old friend, Trick Move.  He's never seen the need to alter his thinking on anything, and I truly don't expect him to start any time soon.  If you think working with him is going to be an insurmountable problem then I'll hold no hard feelings if you want to call it here."  There was a pause, then the smile returned to his lips.  "If the next group you interview with asks what went wrong here, just say 'I met Conquistador' and they'll probably understand."

"If I stay, can you assure me that at some point in the future I will have an opportunity to be in combat training with him?"

"Yes."  Both older Heroes answered simultaneously, and Linda smiled and sat down at the table.  "So, this is the part where you ask questions, right?"

"It is at that."  Star Fall reached beneath the table and pulled a slim file folder from somewhere to place in front of him.  Opening it, he fanned a series of pages out in front of him.  "So based on our basic review when we received your letter of intent to join us, you're a Subtlety major Hero who just finished her internship with the speedster Fast Break working with the loosely organized 'team' known as Street Level.  You're a body control type physical Super, you tend not to cut loose until you take some hits, and your very first day on the job you had to face down a Manhattan level rogue.  Do I have all that correct?"

I thought Ed was unique.  Does NO ONE actually read the HCP files?  "Not entirely accurate, sir.  I refer to my ability as 'movement control' because no one has ever really been able to nail down more specifics than that.  It's only particularly reliable or powerful at very short range, hence I usually just use it as kind of a physical enhancement similar to what body control type Supers can do.  However,"  Linda placed her hand on the table and one of the pages slid across to her fingers as if summoned, then slowly spun around the edge of the table until it returned to its original place. "I can do some other things with it.

"Secondly, 'cutting loose' has nothing to do with escalations of my power."  The brunette took a deep breath as she paused and considered how to approach her inherited trait.  "Are you familiar with the Hero, Mayhem?"

"I think everyone is familiar with Mayhem."  Blue Path's answer came in a politely neutral tone, even as Star Fall's face indicated less pleasant emotions beside her.  "He's a 'wrecking ball' type Strongman, the more and faster he moves the stronger and more resilient he gets.  He also..."  The woman trailed off as she made the connection.

"Also what, Path?"  Star Fall seemed to be a bit slower on the uptake than his younger colleague, so Linda stepped in with the rest of the answer.

"Mayhem is my father.  We don't get along, but we have the same 'trait' that influences our powers.  Grandpa, the original Mayhem, had it too."

"Wait, you mean that's not just some bullshit story the press made up about the man?  He, and you, you really get stronger when you get hurt?"  Star Fall tried to keep his question neutral, but his incredulity bled through his tone plainly.

"It's real, and extensively documented in my HCP training file."  Linda paused and considered if she should continue.  He's been a Hero for almost forty years, and he's the founder of one of the oldest teams in the country.  He'd have access anyways.  "During those evaluations, the best estimates by the HCP staff and independent DVA personnel indicate that at a near death state, my ability scales all the way from its current rating of Standard up to an Armageddon level power."

Linda waited politely for the shock to wear off, as she was well aware that the rarity of Armageddon rated abilities was quite a conversational landmine to set off during an interview.

"I vote yes."  Both Linda and Star Fall turned in surprise at unhesitating statement from Blue Path.  "I would love to complete this interview and get a REAL idea of where your skills and abilities lie, but not matter what you say from this point on I'm going with yes."

"I think I actually have to agree with my overeager colleague.  Which makes it official, Trick Move.  Welcome to the Guardian Elite."

Linda wasn't sure if she could smile any wider than she had when the older female Hero had offered her unconditional vote.  Her face was definitely giving it an effort though.  "So I'm in, for real?"

"Yep.  I'm Sally by the way, in case you get tired of calling me Blue, or Path, or the combinations thereof."

"Richard."  The older man removed his mask as he spoke, showing off an unblemished face that looked at least thirty years younger than it was supposed to.

"So, if that means we're past the part where you guys question me, I think that makes this the part where I question you."  Linda waited a moment for both to nod before continuing.  "So let's talk about your so-called security system up front..."




"I'll be honest, I did NOT think there would be this many papers to sign."  Linda Scoven, aka Trick Move, stared at the depressingly large stack of forms she still had to get through.

"Every year the DVA PROMISES that they're going to digitize more of this, and every year I swear the list of required forms actually gets a little longer."  Sally Danton, aka Blue Path, commiserated with the young Hero as she slogged through the mountain of paperwork.

"On the plus side, you only have to fill all of this out once."

"What if I leave and join another team?"

"Consider all of those forms the incentive to stay on the team you picked, even with an asshole like Scott around."  Linda paused at that, then rubbed at her wrist to get some feeling back into it and resumed her work.

"Is there another stack we could do to get rid of him?"

"You REALLY think he'd still be here if that was an option?  Seriously, I cannot BEGIN to tell you how overjoyed I am to finally have another girl on the team.  I have been the token female for FAR too long."

"So," the taller brunette dropped the pen she was holding as she finished another series of triplicate pages and realized her 'done' stack was now just as tall as her 'left to do' stack.  "Let's take a break and go eat."

"Got any place in mind, and dress up or down?"

Linda started to answer, then paused as the second question tripped her thought process up.  In the two years she'd worked with Street Level it had never occurred to her to go out as a civilian.  Far too likely to get called in the middle of lunch, and end up without time to change into her suit.  I do NOT want to be one of those full time Heroes who goes without a mask and lives with the paparazzi 24/7.  "Dress up, in case we get a call.  And unless I miss my guess, I will bet there's a sandwich truck very nearby where I can get us a free lunch."

"Food truck?"  The younger Hero almost laughed at the extreme note of uncertainty in the older woman's voice.  Her laughter died when Sally continued.  "And don't worry about getting a call.  Honestly you're probably going to be bored out of your skull for the next few months at the very least.  Team rules say that new members and non-combat powers can't do any Super or Powered interdiction without a veteran member present.  You and I will probably be stuck on monitor duty for awhile, but we'll get to know each other REALLY well."

"Wait, why are you on monitor duty?  You're a senior member, right?"

"Non-combat power."

"Can't you force-teleport people in your line of sight?  How the hell is that a non-combat power?  It's practically unbeatable unless you're fighting another teleporter or a null."

"There's a long delay between when I can teleport the same target again, and even though Conquistador gets away with a TON of collateral they tell me I can't use cars and stuff as improvised weapons."

Linda stared at the older Hero for several long minutes, almost as if waiting to hear the punchline of a joke that never came.  Seeing her new friend beginning to wilt under the expectant stare, the younger woman closed her eyes and massaged her temples for a moment.  "All right, let me make sure I'm not as far off on a couple things as you guys were on MY powers before the interview.  You're a long range teleporter?"

"Technically medium range.  My maximum is 993 miles and 8 feet.  Trust me, I have TRIED to get that extra 7 miles to be classed as a long range."

"Right, and you can teleport yourself that distance, or someone else, or yourself AND someone else.  What's your mass limit?"

"I haven't narrowed down the exact mass limit or what it does to my range as precisely, but I have a pretty good upper range.  I teleported a full school bus out of the way of a brawl between Diamond Jack and Monstruo once.  It was exhausting, but I think I could have done it again if I had to."

Linda's mouth actually fell open in surprise at that reveal.  A school bus, full of kids, and herself.  "How far did you move the bus?"  The brunette mentally congratulated herself as her voice sounded perfectly steady to her own ears as she asked the question.

"Five miles, give or take?"

"All right, we need to see Star Fall before lunch.  He is the one we would see about getting any expensive additions approved for the HQ?"

"Um, yeah I guess.  But what do you think we need to add, other than about a million dollars worth of security?"

"8.7 million dollars worth of security upgrades, and trust me, you guys NEED them.  It still won't make this place HALF as secure as an HCP facility but it should make it up to the bare minimum for a publicly known Hero Team Headquarters.  And we need to put in some holding cells."

"We don't actually bring any captures back to HQ, Linda.  We turn them over in the field.  Too much of a security risk to have rogue Supers with access to our base."  Sally definitely sounded a little confused as to why SHE was the one explaining about security protocols of any kind to the younger Hero.  That confusion deepened when Linda nodded her agreement.

"Oh God, no.  The cells will need to be completely isolated from the facility once they're finished.  In fact they should be completely isolated from EVERYTHING so that only a teleporter can get in and out when they're done.  You can familiarize yourself with it during construction so you can get in later."

"Why would I need to... Please Linda, I am not following where you're going with this."

"We build cells designed to hold Supers, in a completely isolated bunker that you have familiarized yourself with.  Then in a fight, you can stick your opponent directly into the same kind of cell they'll be spending time in over at Sanderson when things wrap up."

Sally stopped following the taller brunette in front of her.  Linda turned to see the shorter blonde woman's mouth work open and closed a few times, but no words came out.  Finally, the older Hero found her voice again.  "You mean I... I could... I'll be combat certified.  I'll actually be able to..."

"Honestly I am extremely disappointed that you didn't think of this on your own."  Sally turned a hurt look to the younger woman in response to those words, but her attempt at angst was interrupted when Linda reached out and flicked her softly on the nose, leaving her finger pointing directly at the older Hero's forehead.  "So once we get this thing built you had damned well better go out there and make up for all the time you SHOULD have been singlehandedly making the world a safer place."

"Let's go talk to Richard.  NOW."  And the two women vanished in a flash of blue light.




"Oh.  My.  God.  I thought NOTHING could be more boring than all that paperwork."  Linda leaned back in the comfortable office chair she occupied, and tried not to growl at the quiet laughter coming from her earpiece.

"Honestly I don't know why some groups still insist on putting their own people on monitor duties.  Ready status I can understand, but I am MORE than capable of handling the monitoring myself."  The normally soothing, softly accented voice of Dispatch in her ear was having the opposite effect tonight, likely because she kept laughing in response to the mumbled complaints from the Heroes stuck on a redundant duty.

"Let's be fair, Dispatch." Linda turned to see her partner on monitor duty for the night, a thin wiry example of the male species that answered to the name of Jack, pour himself another cup of coffee as he spoke to the disembodied voice in all Heroes' heads.  "Groups like the Guardians didn't HAVE you when they first started up.  They were barely able to get reliable walkie-talkie type radios back then.  Give the last of the old guard a bit of a break for not fully embracing the future."

"I'm not objecting, Jack.  I'm simply pointing out that having you there is pointless and you could easily be doing something else."

"Nope.  I'm on probation again and the rookie is a rookie.  Also they have cameras in here."  Judging by the change in tone, the last reason was the REAL reason why the black haired man wasn't abandoning his post.

"Right, so remind me how long we're stuck here for?"

"Your relief shift arrive in another three hours, Trick Move."

"Thank you Dispatch.  And may I say that It's only a LITTLE bit creepy that it was you that answered that, instead of my teammate who really should know the schedule better."

"I will strive to be creepier next time."  The deadpan statement from the female voice drew laughter from both Heroes stuck on monitor duty, followed by a long silence.

"So, Diamond Jack's real name is Jack."


"Didn't feel like being creative?"

"Felt like being a smart ass instead."

"Oh?"  Linda found her attention immediately captured by the word after working two years with the members of Street Level, many of whom had LIVED by that gold standard.

"Full name is Jack Diamond."  The newest member of the Guardian Elite found herself staring in open mouthed shock at the wiry Hero's pure audacity with selecting his identity as he had.  "Best part?  No one that I know of has ever ONCE thought that Jack Diamond might be the Hero Diamond Jack.  Or if they have, they've kept it MIGHTY quiet."

Linda's incredulous stare lasted for several more seconds, before she broke down into hysterical laughter.  For the remainder of her time on monitor duty, the young Hero found herself unable to even look at her colleague without the fit of laughter returning.




I'm gonna miss this place.  The thought crept unbidden into the woman's mind as she unlocked the door to her one bedroom apartment.  I mean sure, it's got a crappy view, the rent sucks, and... Why am I gonna miss this place again?

"Hello, Linda."  The tall brunette tensed for a split second, before she recognized the voice.

"What the hell are you doing in my apartment?"  Recognition in this case didn't seem to diminish the 'Fight' reflex much.

"I'm sorry I fucked up so much.  I really am.  After tonight, tell me you want me gone forever and I will do my best to never be in front of you again."  The silhouetted figure near her couch reached over to turn on a lamp, since the woman in the doorway was making no move to provide illumination to the apartment.  He stood maybe an inch taller than the brunette, grey hair cropped down to a military like buzz cut.  The man wore an outfit that covered him head to toe in what looked like brown motorcycle leathers, interspersed with vibrant crimson slash marks that drew immediately to mind the image of actual slashing wounds.  The mask over the man's face continued the same color scheme.

"Say what you've come to say then."  Linda finally flicked on the overhead light and stepped fully inside to close the door behind her.

"The first thing I already said.  I am truly sorry for all the times I fucked up your life growing up.  I should have tried harder to be there, to be there when you needed me.  When your mom died..."

"Don't believe it for a second."  The cold tone stopped the man, but he seemed unsurprised by the venom in the words.  "You couldn't be bothered to visit her in the hospital for months, you couldn't be bothered to make it to the funeral.  Why should I believe you now?"

"How much time have you had for your friends, the ones who AREN'T doing what you do, since you graduated?  Two years, do you still talk to Becca?  Or that Myers kid, what was her name?"

"Sheila."  Linda's voice grew quieter as she tried to determine where the man was going with this.  "We kind of fell out of touch when I had to change my identity and switch schools because I fucked up the SI requirement."

"Which you did to save someone, right?"  He paused and waited for a nod before continuing.  "Even though you knew what it would cost, you HAD to help.  Didn't you?"

"What is your fucking point?"

"You've been out there now, for two years.  You've seen what can happen even when we're there, as fast as possible, in our best form.  I got... lost in it.  I couldn't see that I wasn't the only person trying to make things right, and I gave up too much time that should have been shared with you and your mom too.  I crossed a lot of lines."

Linda seemed to consider this for a long moment.  Years of rage at the man in front of her told her she should just throw him out now, that this was some kind of trick.  But he had NEVER been one for trickery.  Never once had he faced any challenge she had ever heard of ANY way other than head first.  "You said that was the first thing.  What else?"  Ultimately it was the tone that decided her.  In all the years she had known her father, he had never once sounded the way he did now.  He sounds afraid.

"I wanted... I NEEDED to say, even if you don't think much of my opinion, how proud I am of you.  Words can never be enough, but you're a great Hero, Linda.  Better than I ever was or will be."

The last words of her father's declaration stunned her.  She had never, EVER, heard the Hero known as Mayhem admit to someone being greater than him.  "You... You're dying?  Something awful, what is it?"

The older man looked up in surprise at the question, then began to laugh.  "I guess, yeah I really can see how you would think that.  I have always been an arrogant son of a bitch, haven't I?"

"You leave Grandma out of this.  She was a SAINT."  The old joke that had previously been shared between her father and mother brought a smile to the young woman's lips, and tears at more memories of a woman long passed.

"I'm not dying.  Or retiring, yet.  I just...  You're my daughter.  And I was stupid for ever thinking I wanted a son instead, and I was MORE stupid for telling you I wanted you to be the third Mayhem.  And I think it took turning on the news one day and seeing the report that a new Hero, Trick Move, went toe to toe with a Manhattan level Super on her first day out and WON.  That's what it took to hammer into my skull that my way wasn't the only way.  You know I'm Street Level too, right?"

"One of the founders, according to Ed."

"Really?  Not how I remember it, but anyways; I watched you.  I watched what you were doing and how you did it.  You got everything done, you saved more people than I could have, and you never once even had to cross into the grey areas to do it.  It took two years to completely sink in that I was wrong, all this time.  So I came here to hope I can get a second chance to be a dad."

"Nope."  The instant response would have been heartbreaking, except the old Hero saw a smile on his daughter's face.  "I don't need you to be 'daddy' anymore.  We're colleagues, and acquaintances.  And you can buy me a drink, as soon as you change out of that ridiculous leather costume."

Carl Scoven felt a deep, genuine smile crease his lips for the first time in a long time.  "Deal, even the costume part.  But one condition;  If I'm buying the drinks, you have to tell me an embarrassing story to go with each round."