Chapter 7

    Angela rode through town with her heavy leather jacket off. Yes the bikini top drew eyes, but the sun just felt too good to cover up. She could understand why Lady Godiva would do what she did if the sun felt like this to her. Not that Dawn Evangelina Walker, would ever do something like that on her bike, road rash would be a bitch, plus hot metal, and sharp edges and all that. But still the sun filled her with energy and riding at city speeds of no more than twenty to thirty miles per hour made the heavy leather coat seemed like over kill.


    On a whim, Angela rode through the nearly empty L.U. campus looking at the various buildings wondering what it would have been like to go to normal skills as a kid. Instead of being home schooled by momma. She wondered what challenges she'd have faced and friends she could have made. She didn't often indulge in the what if game anymore. It had been almost an obsession as a lonely child. Now that she was for all intents and purposes out on her own, on a quest of sorts, she tried to focus more on the now. She just wished her brother wouldn't have picked such seedy places to stay, or made such unsavory characters acquaintances of his. That cat in Albuquerque who offered to tell her about Darius's whereabouts wouldn't be walking up right for awhile after she blasted his junk with a light infused punch. She might dress skimpy on occasion out of necessity, but she would be treated like a lady damn it.


    She stopped long enough to shrug back into her jacket, but didn't zip it up and rolled the power on and sped out of the parking lot, headed towards the less savory areas of town. Her brother usually only stopped drifting when he was broke, so he'd be in whatever rat nest was most affordable. She'd check with the campus maintenance department tomorrow to see if there was a Darius Jericho Walker working for them, or someone that matched his description. She knew he liked physical labor and since the campus was undoubtedly the largest employer nearby it'd be a logical start. Then she'd cruise by the local bike shops, machine shops, and bars looking for his stainless steel cafe racer style motorcycle. She couldn't explain it but she felt she was close.



    Thomas saw the black haired girl wearing the white leather pants and the white bikini top long before he realized she was on a black beast of a motor cycle. His heart skipped a beat, He was going to have to come to this school. If only because the girls were unbelievable! Crimson the older guy that ran his MMO guild told a story over StratChat, the VoIP client the guild used to communicate in game about his collage days. Crim as he was known was a full on character, and perhaps the coolest gaming nerd around. I didn't mention what collage I was thinking of, but he was full of stories of where he met “the wif..” as he called her. Seemed he was right.


    Anyhow Thomas roamed the campus having stepped in out of the deep shadow of an old oak. Dressed in what he hoped was sloppy student casual. While students were mostly absent from campus during spring break he was hoping if he looked enough the part no one would notice or question him. Getting in and out of places unnoticed was sort of his stock and trade right now, since he'd yet to harness any offensive ability out of his power yet. So getting caught snooping would really look bad for him.



    Thomas was already caught, he never saw the small old woman watching him with a smirk. If he had he wouldn't of clicked to the fact that she was a telepath vastly more powerful, and skilled than Skylar at reading minds. He'd of thought, “I must remind her of her grandson..”. The old lady pulled a new smart phone from her hand bag and keyed a fast pre-programed text. Every camera on campus was now following Thomas, and feeding the images to facial recognition software even as he strolled. It was fortunate that he wasn't planning on invading the underground at least not yet. Or he'd of found armed guards with nasty tasers waiting for him. No today was just basic familiarization, and reconnoitering of the area. The lady wasn't too worried, the boy wasn't the first young super trying to jump the gun, and if he got too egar well a nasty scare would do the boy some good.



    Thomas saw Dairus working with another man on replacing a metal door. The old one rested against the wall bent nearly in to at the long access. He kept his head down and kept walking. He'd already warned Skylar who seemed like the most approachable of the two, and since Darius wasn't HCP there wasn't anything he could glean from the man about the program. Better to just roam about and see if he could pick up any hints about where access to the underground was, any normal access routes. If he could clock a few HCP students he'd have a shot at working his way into information. Problem was he wasn't exactly sure what he should be looking for. If Skylar in her full on amazon glory wasn't HCP material who was?



    People heard, “super” and they thought heroes. Darius knew the truth was that even with the limited population of supers, there was far many more people with powers than ever became heroes. Often the people with powers were just as flawed as or even more flawed than regular folks. Case in point the young super in the accounting program that found out his girlfriend was cheating on him with a physical education major.


    He was much stronger than the average human and in a fit of despair he murdered a fire exit door. The girl was obviously not worth it. And the physed guy would be fat and bloated with a beer belly in ten years. While the accountant would probably be signing his minimum wage checks. But still it was sort of comforting to know that life was fucked up for everyone at times. It was one of things that kept Darius sane, the fact that it wasn't personal life crapped on everyone, maybe not equally but everyone got a share.


    He balanced the weight of the door while Ned, the guy he'd been assigned to help jimmied the pins into the hinges of the replacement door.



    Skylar, came around the corner of  some dorm or other. She wasn't sure exactly which one this was, as she didn't have any friends in it. However her telepathy said that Darius was working around here fixing a door? She needed to pass on the kids warning, she thought that maybe this had something to do with why Darius was a drifter. After all that talk about his troubles having a habit of following him she was almost sure it did.


    She stopped to admire the man working. She didn't know what she liked about the guy? He was fit, and strong, he could handle himself well in a fight. But he wasn't her typical choice. She liked pretty, and Darius wasn't pretty, he was scruffy at best, and had sort of a rogue's charm. Maybe it was because he didn't fixate on her? She was more than a little vane, and used to being the center of most male's and quite a few female's attention and Darius while he thought she was attractive he didn't seem all that interested in her. No that wasn't true the tenor of his thoughts were more a long the lines of he shouldn't be interested in her for her own good. He sort of buried his attraction, refusing to acknowledge it even to himself. Save for a few slips.


    For Skylar O'shaughnessy there was nothing more attractive than the unattainable challenge. She knew it. She accepted it. She even knew that the vanity wasn't the most attractive side of her personality. But she'd grown up hearing how boy's and later mens' minds gushed about her. Especially in eighth grade when she really started shedding the skinny boy look and getting curves. She wasn't perfect, she could admit that. She was arrogant, vain, often times tempestuous, but no one could ever claim she didn't know what she wanted. Darius would simply have to accept it eventually.


    She started forward to tell him about the message Thomas delivered, and to lay some ground work for future plans.



    James laid on the service walk of a water tower roughly three quarters of a mile from campus. His eye to the scope of his .308 rifle. He'd used a laser to mark the range at just under three quarters of a mile call it 1,200 meters. James usually liked to work up close and be more sure of his kill. That was part of the satisfaction he derived from his calling. But this was Lander, Lander posed problems even for James Carswell. Even on holidays you didn't know what cape or cape wannabe would be haunting the campus. So distance was his friend, distance and a fast get away.


    He sighted in on the scruffy guy doing basic maintanance. He got a good sight picture, took a deep breath, relaxed, aimed, slack, and then squeezed just as a red head bobbed into his scope. It was too late, the bullet was on the way and James saw, the girls shoulder take the shot aimed at the Walker boys heart. Maybe he'd get him through her. He couldn't wait around to see. He didn't work the action on his rifle ejecting the brass because he didn't want to risk dropping it. Instead he slung rifle and all over his shoulder and slid over the side the of the service walk. Sliding down the rope he was already clipped to.


    Once on the ground he whipped out his lighter from his pocket and touched the flame to the rope. It burst into a cloud of smoke and flames vaporizing in less than three seconds. He stowed his rifle in the hidden compartment in his SUV and drove off in less that two minutes after his shot. He knew he didn't get his mark. He knew he'd have to try again, and this time his mark knew he was coming.



    Just as she'd bounded up to Darius in her best, “perky” all American girl act. Skylar felt a crushing blow to her shoulder that spun her off balance, and a sharp distant crack. Someone shot her. Someone had actually fucking shot her. Damn it stung like a mother. “Son of a bastard whore spawned ..” the curses flowed freely even as she grabbed Darius by the belt buckle and jerked him down. Clothes might tear free, but a thick leather belt was sturdy.


    “Get down you ass..” someone is shooting. She didn't say that she'd been shot.


    “Skylar your shoulder..” He trailed off..


    “I know.. It's fine..” She winced as she worked it around.. “I don't think it penetrated, but it dinged the hell out of me.” They crawled past the new door and into the Hall. A guy with the name patch “Ned” sewn to the breast of a faded gray work shirt already had his phone out calling campus police.


    Skylar moaned internally, there went her secret. Normal girls don't stop rifle rounds. Hell normal girls generally don't even slow high velocity rifle rounds down all that much. And finally normal girls don't walk away from high velocity rifle rounds with nothing more than sharp ache in the shoulder and a pissy mood.



    Angela heard the sharp crack of a rifle report. Having grown up in the deep south their isn't anything sounds quite like it. She planted her left foot on the ground rolled the throttle and spun the bike around and raced back towards the campus. She didn't know why she just felt she had to.




    Thomas's head whipped up and he dived into the nearest shadow. Quickly he turned his mind loose parsing the information coming in he often imagined this is what it must be like for blood hounds or powerful telepaths finding the right information to track. Till he heard the sound of a familiar voice cursing. It was Skylar and she was in pain. He let the images roll through his mind and he didn't find a shooter anywhere near by though, so the shot was a pretty distance. He saw Skylar was okay, and that there was nothing he could do for her. So he decided to shadow them, literally, to keep watch just in case. When he noticed the black beast of a motorcycle whip in with the gorgeous girl on it. She parked a good distance from the scene right on the edge of his observable range.

    Thomas found this interesting. In truth he found her interesting so he slipped closer to her than in side the shadow of her bike to watch. He'd find out if she was a morbid observer or if she was a part of this mess.