Dave stared at the blinking cursor on his computer screen, which had been in the same spot for several minutes. Incident reports were never fun to write, but this one took the prize for being the worst. He tried to think of a way to type “Then I threw a plastic tiara at the suspect” that wouldn’t make his supervisor call him over for a very long and loud talking-to. He replaced “plastic tiara” with “projectile.” Yes, that sounded much more professional.
“Dude, is your nose broken? Can you even get a broken nose?”
Dave turned from the computer, feeling his eyeballs relax immediately after leaving the screen (he really should have paused for a break earlier), and found himself looking at Harris Holt. Better known as Supersonic to the world, Harris was tall and thin with wiry muscles and a runner’s build, which was appropriate given how he could outrun most cars. Not that most people would recognize him as a famous superhero right now. Like Dave, he wore slacks and a button-down shirt. If the DSA made them wear their costumes to the office, they’d have all quit by now.
“It’s probably just bruised,” Dave said. “The doctor’s going to check for fractures in a few days once the swelling goes down.”
“And you’ve got to wear that mummy bandage until then?”
It was a narrow, rectangular bandage that went across the bridge of his nose. Dave resisted the urge to reach up and touch it. “Dr. Ortiz said it was small and unobtrusive.”
“Yeah, she was lying, man.” The sentence faded into a laugh, and then Harris looked sharply to the right. “Hey, there he is.” Continue reading
Jean-Baptiste Dupree spent maybe half an hour in the car. Eddy had on a radio station that played rock from the 50s and 60s, and he didn’t talk. JB had thought the Black Valentine talked too much, but now he wished she was there to fill the silence. When Eddy stopped the car, he got out and had a muffled conversation with someone before telling JB to get out, too.
They climbed up metal stairs and entered something that JB figured out was an airplane when the cabin pressurized. It must have been a private one, because there didn’t seem to be anyone else on it besides the pilot. It figured the Black Valentine had a private plane. She’d probably robbed enough banks to own a whole fleet of planes. Eddy spoke again, his gravelly voice asking if JB wanted anything to eat or drink. JB ended up with a Sprite and a bag of Doritos, which were the highlight of the boring, quiet flight. They landed about two hours later, got into another car, and maybe an hour after that, stopped at what JB assumed was their destination.
JB smelled pine trees before they went inside. Then Eddy led him through twisting hallways, across thick carpet and smooth wood before finally grunting “sit” and pushing him down onto a soft couch.
“Jean-Baptiste Dupree,” said a voice as dry and brittle as an old book. “We meet at last. So you’re the one that all this fuss has been about?” Continue reading
Once the rescue workers had cleared away as much of the rubble as they could, Dave pushed himself up, shrugging off the final slab of concrete from his back. It landed on the rest of the debris with a loud thud, and Dave fell into a sitting position beside it. It took a lot of self-control to keep his back straight and not just lie down in the middle of the disaster zone. His arms felt like silly string, his back and legs as stiff as a corpse with rigor mortis. Then there was his nose, which was throbbing so strongly he was starting to worry it was broken.
The workers clapped and cheered. Dave would have to thank each of them personally once he was actually able to stand up. Then another pair of hands started clapping, slow and deliberate. The Black Valentine had sat up, posed atop the rubble like a model in a photo shoot, never mind that she was covered in gray dust. It sat in her hair like powder and stuck to her clapping hands, hiding her deep burgundy nail polish. Dave looked down and found it covered him, too. His uniform could no longer be called white by any definition of the word.
“Well, look who’s not dead,” Moreen said.
She was standing on the rubble to Dave’s right, sleeves rolled up and hands scraped and dirty.
Dave returned her grin. “I’m surprised, too.”
“I knew we’d be fine,” said Val—the Black Valentine. When Dave gave her a look, she winked at him.
“Which reminds me.” Moreen signaled a couple of police officers behind her and led them across the rubble to the Black Valentine. “Valentina Belmonte, you’re under arrest.” Continue reading