Chapter Fifty-Three – Generic Desires for the Future
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Stray Cat Strut (A cyberpunk system apocalypse!) - Ongoing
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Sporemageddon (A fantasy story about a mushroom lover exploding the industrial revolution!) - Ongoing

Chapter Fifty-Three - Generic Desires for the Future

The interview was going great so far, Emily thought.

Michel seemed like a friendly enough man, and at least his questions weren’t as probing as Handshake’s had been. So far, most of the questions were... kind of silly.

What sort of hobbies did they have? What did the girls do for fun? Any embarrassing stories? He asked her opinion on a few topics, but they were mostly safe topics, never touching politics or things that people had strong opinions on.

Emily answered what she could, and politely asked Michel to ask another question when they came to something whose answer would be problematic. The journalist seemed to catch on quickly to what was and wasn’t acceptable to ask.

“So, if you don’t mind, we can move onto more... I guess you could call them generic questions,” Michel said.

Emily nodded then took a sip from her drink. She’d only ordered a soda and Michel had ordered some cheese sticks and more garlic bread. She wasn’t sure if she would even be hungry for anything else after nibbling on a few. “I don’t mind generic questions,” she said.

“Wonderful. In that case, do you have any goals as a heroine? Any big ambitions? Eauclaire is a small city, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to stay here if they intend to build a big heroic career.” He chuckled.

Emily considered the question, then decided to answer honestly. For the most part. “I think that Eauclaire being a quiet place is fine. I wouldn’t want it to be any more active than it is, really. I... you know how there are lots of cartoons and movies about heroes?”

“Of course.”

“I never understood the heroes in those. They were always so flashy and... public. I guess I don’t have the temperament or the willingness to be the centre of attention that way.”

“You’re more quiet,” Michel said.

Emily nodded. “Exactly. I guess being that bright makes sense when you have overwhelming power on your side, but I always thought that you could get a lot more done by being quiet. Sure, taking out a villain in a big brawl in the streets is impressive, but there’s a lot less collateral damage if you knock them out while they’re going to the bathroom at three in the morning on a weekend. Um. For example, I mean.”

“Yes of course,” he said. He gave her a quick smile, then cleared his throat. “So, how does that reflect on your goals then?”

“Oh,” she said, a bit embarrassed by the tangent. “Well, I mostly plan on making Eauclaire my city. To make it a place where me and my companions can stay safe. If it was up to me, there wouldn’t be any big flashy fights in the streets. Any villain or hero that isn’t good at heroics would learn that Eauclaire isn’t a place where they can get away with their usual antics.”

“Because you’d stop them,” he filled in.

She shook her head. “Not necessarily me,” she said, meaning that she hoped that other heroes would take up that same attitude. “I think there are a few cities like that.”

“Oh, I can think of a few, yes. But those are generally the cities where either a single very powerful hero lives there, or where the headquarters of a heroic organisation is based.”

“Yes, a place like that,” Emily said. “Peaceful and quiet and safe.”

“Which you intend to enforce with your army of preteen superheroes.”

Emily blinked. “No, of course not. That would be... awful. At most we’d just use the threat that having so many heroes on our side brings, but not... you know, actually putting the girls in danger.”

“Right, of course,” he said. “Um, onto the next question then?”

“Sure, I don’t mind--” Emily paused as something vibrated against her side. She slapped her hand down on her phone, then squeezed it out of her pocket. She had a call from Sam. “I’m sorry, give me a moment?”

“Sure, sure,” he said.

Emily stood up and answered the call right away. “Hello?” Sam wouldn’t call her for no reason. If she wanted to let Emily know about something that wasn’t urgent, she’d probably just text. Emily had spoken to Sam about how much she disliked talking over the phone already, and Sam was surprisingly respectful about it.

“Heya, Boss,” Sam said. “How’s the interview going?”

“Fine. What’s wrong?”

“Well we have a bit of a situation developing here, and I think you might want to come over to address this yourself. Only if you can leave your interview. It’s not urgent-urgent, it’s just kind of very inconvenient.”

“What’s going on?” Emily asked.

“I was going around with the girls, doing our thing.” Which meant setting up the protection racket. “And then Glamazon showed up out of nowhere and started trailing after us.”

“Does she know what you were doing? Is she causing trouble? How are my sisters?”

“Fine, fine,” Sam said quickly. “Uh, and no, I don’t think so. This is my first chance to get away from her to call. Trinity is keeping her distracted. We gave up on the mission and have just been patrolling around.”

Emily nodded. That was smart. Heroic patrols were a pretty normal, if boring, part of being a hero. “Alright, where are you now?”

“We’re heading north-wards, I think closer to where you are now.” Sam rattled off a street name.

“That’s not too far,” Emily agreed. Five, maybe six blocks away. “Alright, I’m going to join you. Make sure the girls don’t say anything she doesn’t need to know.”

“I’m working on that, yeah. Thanks, Boss. See you soon.”

The line went dead and Emily walked back to the booth she was sharing with Michel. “I’m sorry, Michel, something has come up and, well, I’m needed.”

“Oh, that’s fine,” he said. “We were drawing to a close anyway. Did you want to take any of this with you?” he gestured to the table and the leftovers. She almost said no, then reconsidered. “Alright then, I’ll get everything into a baggie. Is it urgent? A villain, maybe?”

“It’s nothing like that,” she said. “Just... some problems while on patrol.”

“Oh, the rest of your team was out?” he asked.

“Just a normal, routine patrol around the safer parts of the city. They’re with... a friend and can call for help. But they’ve run across something that I need to help with.”

“Alright then, I hope that works out for you.”

Emily nodded, then stepped back as a waiter appeared and efficiently shoved the garlic bread into a brown paper bag. Emily accepted it with a nod and a smile. “Thank you for the interview. I hope you have enough for a good article.”

“Oh, I’m sure I do. Thank you! Maybe next time I can convince you to let me interview one of your companions?”

“Possibly!” Emily said. She thanked the journalist a few more times, then walked out of the restaurant with some urgency. She was even able to ignore all the looks she was getting from the customers. They probably didn’t see that many masks moving past with a doggy bag tucked to their side.

Emily took a minute to get her bearings, then took off down the street at a quick walk. Didn't want to jog and arrive at whatever scene her sisters had created out of breath and sweaty.

Then again... maybe being a bit dishevelled would be worth arriving a minute or two earlier, she thought as she picked up the pace.

The few people she crossed looked on either startled or with something close to panic. A mask running down the street was usually a pretty bad sign. The only problem was they didn’t know if they should be running away from where she was going or towards it.

Emily slowed her jog down half a block later, a hand pressed into her side where she’d developed a nasty stitch. Gritting her teeth, she focused on just walking quickly instead.

A block passed, then another, and then, finally, she saw her sisters up ahead.

Teddy was leading the way, with a Trinity just behind her. Behind them, Athena was walking along next to a familiar figure. Glamazon, in her bright costume with all of the sparkling gems fitted into it. Sam was coming up in the rear with another Trinity.

“Boss!” Teddy shouted. She jogged ahead and crashed into Emily with a crushing hug. “You’re back! We found a hero and she won’t stop following us. Can we beat her up?”

Fortunately, they were far enough that Emily doubted Glamazon could hear that comment. “Not yet,” she said. That earned her a worrisome smile from Teddy.

“Hey, Boss,” Glamazon said with a small wave after Emily’s other sisters came and said hi. “Been a while.”

“Yes, it has, hasn’t it?” Emily asked.

She smiled, but it was mostly just a show of teeth. It was time to figure out what Glamazon wanted.

***

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