CHAPTER TWO: HADDOCK
The hospital was silent. Okay, well, not really - there were beeps and clicks and the low chatter of nurses and the crying of families. So that wasn’t really silent at all, but in Johnathan’s room, it felt like everything was muffled by a layer of cotton. Or gauze.
It was never a good sign when the doctor’s most reassuring comment was, “At least he’s alive.” It was probably worse when his second most helpful comment was, “They’re making great strides in prosthetics these days.”
Levi seemed borderline comatose, clinging to Johnathan’s hand like it was going to dissolve if he let go. Cyrus and Hayden shared a look, then made the joint decision to step into the hall.
“This is horrible,” Hayden muttered immediately. “Johnathan’s going to be devastated.”
“Yeah,” Cyrus agreed. There wasn’t much to do but agree.
“We need to do something.” There was an edge to Hayden’s tone that made Cyrus look up. He was surprised by the sudden fire in his eyes. “When Johnathan wakes up and is mad as hell, we should have Trump’s head on a platter to show him.”
Cyrus blinked. “Hayden, you’re not seriously talking about…” he lowered his voice, glancing around, “going after the dictator?”
“We have to do something,” Hayden repeated.
“But not that,” Cyrus said. “It’s not feasible. It’s reckless. It’s stupid.”
“Then what do you suggest?” Hayden snapped a bit more sharply than he intended.
Cyrus glanced towards Johnathan’s room. “That we focus on being there for our friend. Come on, Hayden - there’s no way we’d be able to pull of any sort of revenge against the guy who just made himself one of the most powerful people in the world.”
Hayden was about to reply when his cell phone rang. He pulled it out, answered it. Cyrus could hear the person on the other line - Char - say, “Hayden - you won’t believe what is happening right now. How fast can you get across town?”
Across town, there was a meeting taking place in a one-bedroom apartment above an extinct laundromat. It was an odd affair, consisting of five girls at a tiny card table, two on one side, two on the other, one pacing in circles. Some Ritz crackers were hastily thrown on a paper plate, and there was a little blob of peanut butter. For a long minute, no one spoke.
“Okay, I’ve got to get this straight,” the girl with the long black hair said, leaning forward. “You guys want my sister to infiltrate Trump’s organization and pass all his secrets along to you so that you can take him down?” She waited for correction, but there was none. “That’s a horrible plan. Don’t you think they have safeguards in place for that?” she demanded. “This is putting Mari in a crazy amount of danger.”
Prodigy eyed her coldly. “I don’t remember inviting you to this meeting.”
“She has a point, though,” Mari spoke up. “And I invited her.”
“Look, you’ll be perfectly fine,” Fever placated. “We’ll send someone along as your ‘assistant’.” She did the finger quotes. “Someone with powers - they’ll protect you.”
“Oh, that’s another thing,” Char said. “What’s with these superpowers? That sounds like a load of BS.”
The other three girls exchanged looks. “They’re not,” Raven promised.
Char leaned back, crossed her arms. “Then let’s see some. What’s your power?” she asked Prodigy.
Prodigy gave a thin lipped smile. “If I wield it correctly, you’ll never need to know.”
“Uh huh.” Char looked unconvinced. “How about you?” she asked Raven. “Judging by your name, I’m guessing you turn into a bird?”
Raven shifted in her seat, looking anywhere but at Char. “No, I, uh… Um, I can’t just-“
“It’s really cool,” Prodigy jumped in. “But only for extreme circumstances; it’s not the sort of thing that you just use flippantly, you know?”
“But what is it?” Char demanded. She raised a brow. “You have to admit, you’re making a pretty poor case right now.”
Raven and Prodigy exchanged a glance. “Ravens are the harbingers of death,” Prodigy explained, her tone empty. “Death is not something to be used for display purposes, agreed?”
Char swallowed, nodding. “Fine,” she said. “Please tell me yours is something interesting and non-lethal, then?”
Fever, the last of the Movellians at the table, shrugged. “Give me your hand.”
After a brief hesitation, Char complied. Fever took Char’s slender hand in her own, and the others watched, waiting. In only a few seconds, Char began to shiver, shudders racking her body. Then, she went still as sweat started beading at her temples. Fever let go, and Char gave a final shake before straightening. “Okay. Okay,” she muttered, wiping her brow.
“It works on objects too,” Fever announced as she casually incinerated a Ritz cracker, then froze the peanut butter.
“Uh…” Mari began, speaking up for one of the first times since this impromptu meeting was convened. “This is all kind of crazy.”
“Yeah, a little,” Prodigy agreed. “But are you in?”
“You promise to keep her safe?” Char asked.
Mari and Char looked at each other. Char gave a half shrug. Mari brushed a bit of brown hair out of her eye, then gave a shaky nod. “Okay. What do I have to do?”
“Just take the job. Act normal,” Raven said. “Spread whatever propaganda they tell you to, and add whatever subliminal messages we tell you to. At this point, we need to recruit as many people as possible.”
“Don’t you have more… what do you call yourselves - you people with powers?” Char asked.
“Okay, don’t you have more of them?”
“We do,” Prodigy answered. “Many more, in fact, but having normal people is very helpful. After all, if we were to overthrow Trump without gaining the public’s support, where would we be in the aftermath?”
Char conceded the point. “So you need as much help as you can get, then? No matter who it’s from?”
“Yes,” Prodigy answered.
“I’ll be right back,” she declared. “I need to make a call.”
After she was gone, Prodigy turned to Raven. “Why don’t you run back to the base, make sure everything’s going okay, then bring back Mari’s new assistant? Might as well get things started early.”
“Sure,” Raven agreed. “Who are we using?”
Prodigy smiled. “I know the perfect one for the job.”
The underground bunker was an interesting place by any account, and it was certainly made more interesting by the arrival of Oscar Wilde. Jess’s fangirl-ness was contagious, and within hours, everyone was fawning over Oscar. Myrah held up to Jess’s powers only long enough to dart in, hand her a note directing her to take Oscar to the most isolated chamber of the compound and beg her to get to work. Jess gleefully complied, and with them gone, everyone else returned to normal.
Well, more or less normal. Was normal even a thing amongst the Movellians?
Myrah strode into the conference room looking every bit like a confident leader. She surveyed the people gathered at the oval table. They looked every bit like the confused, easily distracted army that they were. Things were exactly as expected.
“Okay, guys, welcome to the briefing,” Myrah said. “I’ve drawn you a diagram to illustrate my talking points,” she said, gesturing to the chalkboard behind her. On it were a bunch of squiggly lines in various colored chalk, an upward pointing arrow, and the word, “HADDOCK.” She looked around, saying, “So, let’s begin.”
There were a few times when Myrah wished her powers were fun and ostentatious like Silver Lightning’s or Sparrow’s, but having people stop talking and give you their entire, undivided attention the moment you opened your mouth definitely had its advantages. Leadership, for one.
“Okay, so here’s the plan. Mari is going to take over as Trump’s head PR person, she’s going to schedule a ‘press conference’ for him to win over the American public with his scripted speech, but none of the press are going to know about this. We’re going to be the press. All of us, disguised as journalists and news crews with Danielle’s help.” She looked around. These people were teenagers, for the most part. It would be a stretch, but it could work. “Then we’ll surround him with ‘questions’ and when Lia gives the signal, we’ll attack. Throw everything we have at him and his guards. Understood?”
They all nodded. “Any questions?” Myrah prompted.
“Yeah, like…” Snow Potato began, “not everyone’s powers are super helpful in a fight? Like I don’t really want the sky falling on me while I’m trying to fight Trump, you know.” She glanced pointedly at Fallen Skie, who glared in return.
“Well I’m sure summoning snow potatoes to throw at Trump is going to do a whole lot of good,” Skie snapped, crossing her arms.
“Hey,” Myrah said, making them both shut up. “No fighting amongst ourselves. Skie can localize her powers, and she and Lightning can take out all of Trump’s security and back up while the rest of us deal with him and his immediate bodyguards, okay? Is that a compromise?”
“Fine,” they both muttered, exchanging looks.
“Great,” Myrah breathed. “Any other questions?”
“Yeah,” came the distant echoey sound drifting from the mouth of Larry, who was scratching behind his ear like a dog. “Am I going to be released from the stomach of the beast for this battle?”
Myrah paused. “I kind of thought you’d stay in there, May, and control La- the beast. Didn’t you say you’d found a way to kind of steer him?”
“Yeah, but… come on,” May protested. “Surely I can-“
“Any more questions?” Myrah interrupted. There was silence. “No? Okay, looks like we’re good.”
Just as she said that, Raven rushed into the room. “Has anyone seen Diego?” she asked, breathless.
“Yeah, he’s in my room,” Lia replied. “You need him?”
“Yeah,” Raven said. “Just let me catch my-“
Lia cut her off, “It’s okay, I’ll have him come to you.” She closed her eyes, concentrated, and in a few seconds, Diego came padding in, his tail held high.
“You called?” he asked in that smooth, disconcerting voice of his.
Lia jerked her head towards Raven, who told him, “Prodigy needs you.”
Diego’s smile looked half pleased, half like he was about to go for Raven’s throat. “At last. Let’s go, shall we?”
Raven nodded, then waved to Myrah and the rest of the room. “I’d like to stay, guys, but I think Cyden are coming, and there’s no way I’m missing them. See you!”
“Cyden?” Myrah echoed after she was gone. She looked around at the room, all eyes on her. “If any of you dares tell Jess Cyden are involved in this, you’re dead. Got it?”
They all nodded.
After all, they knew full well what Cyden were walking into.
Cyrus and Hayden, on the other hand, hadn’t the slightest idea.