- Issue #85 – The Ballad of Bad Lass
- Issue #86 – Those Not Forgotten
- Issue #87 – Descendants… In Space
- Issue #88 – Tome of Battle
- Issue #89 – All That Glitters
- Issue #90 – Just Us Sidekicks
- Issue #91 – Rock and Roll Lifestyle
- Descendants Special #8 – The Heart of Rock ‘N Roll
- Issue #92 – Homage
- Issue #93 – Day of Recovery
- Issue #94 – The Knight, The Witch and the Gadgeteer (FaerieQuest Part 1)
- Issue #95 – Into The Woods (FaerieQuest Part 2)
All That Glitters (Part 5)
“This… is weird.” Facsimile took in everything around them with an expression of consternation on her face.
“More weird than when you woke up in the body of your alternate universe twin and fought a corrupted alien collective in a medieval magitech world?” Codex also looked around. The waiting area of the MPD’s third precinct, cyber division wasn’t anything special; just a cleared out spaced among the desks and work spaces.
Just a couple of ancient faux leather couches, a coffee machine, and a water cooler. Cyber division specialists moved around them or worked at their desks, casting the occasional glance in their direction.
“All that is to be expected in our line of work though. This…” Facsimile gestured around at the couches, desks and the coffee maker which might have been older than the two of them combined. “Come one: two superheroes sitting patiently waiting for paperwork and stuff to get done? It’s weird.”
Codex tilted her head because she knew her visor hid the raised eyebrow she wanted to give the younger heroine. “And you expected all that, and going into space, or all of the actual weirdness we’ve been part of?”
“Less ‘expected’, more ‘hoped’,” Facsimile shrugged. After a beat, she added, “Not so much hope with the yellow world monster stuff because that was way too Lovecraft for me, but space? Everything a girl can dream of.”
“You’re a very strange girl sometimes.”
“Tell me you don’t love it,” Facsimile challenged.
Approaching footsteps stopped Codex from replying. She looked up to find Detective Rogers coming down the aisles between the workstations, followed by a thin man with a wide jaw that made him look something like a bulldog in the face.
Subtly gesturing for Facsimile to do the same, she rose to her feet.
“Sorry for the wait,” said Detective Rogers, “The warrant judge is very busy and there’s no jumping to the front of the line.” She stopped when she reached the waiting area, allowing the man following her to come up beside her. “I’d like you to meet Gordon Frakes, he’s the cyber on this case.”
Codex nodded to Frakes, then returned her gaze to Detective Rogers. “I’m sorry, but why do we need warrants or cyber officers? I was under the impression that you could just ask for the seller information from the site. There’s no client privilege in this case.”
It was Frakes who gave her answer. “If only it was that simple,” he said, “Most of these sites are run off servers in other countries, accessed via remote proxies. It’s not because they deal in anything illegal, it’s so they can make it extra difficult to find their customers who do because they don’t want to catch even a whiff of liability. We can ask—and we do—but they can drag their feet for weeks or even stonewall behind international privacy laws.”
He then retrieved the tablet he’d been holding under his arm. “And that’s why the Good Lord saw it in his infinite wisdom to create hack-warrants. If the company itself has a presence in the US, we can get legal clearance to hack in and retrieve information like so.” Turning the tablet around so it was oriented correctly for Codex to see, he offered it to her.
“That’s… a tad scary. Especially since I didn’t know this existed.”
“No one advertises it.”
Detective Rogers’s palmtop rang and she held up a finger to excuse herself.
“I’m not sure I’m a fan.” Codex commented, looking over the tablet at Frakes.
The man held up his hands defensively. “It’s warrant-only and we can only receive, not send, so it isn’t like we’re doing this to random citizens or uploading viruses.”
“Yes,” said Codex, “but you’re a city police department. A major city, granted, but a city PD nonetheless. What do you suppose the CIA, FBI, NSA, or any of the other agencies are doing with this?”
“It’s really not in my scope of operation.” Frakes said flatly. “Anyway, your seller’s name is Monica Collins. She’s used the site before to receive goods, so we have an address on file: Apartment 1233, the Velasco Building, 134 State Drive. I already did the rundown: she’s sixteen, and a student at Carver High.”
Codex nodded slowly. “That’s one of three or more.”
“Make that two.” Detective Rogers returned to the conversation, putting her palmtop back into her pocket. “Codex, Facsimile, if you’d come with me? Robbery just had a walk-in wanting to confess. Seeing as how they might be our paralyzer, I thought it might be a good idea to bring the two of you in to provide back-up.”
“Are we calling this baddie Paralyzer?” Facsimile piped up, “because that’s a pretty badass supervillain name.”
Detective Rogers gave her a sidelong look. “We try not to name serial criminals. Every time the media gives some killer a name, it just inspires copycats that want some of the attention.”
“They’re already calling them ‘Glitter Thief’ on the news. At least mine isn’t lame.”
Before things could go any further, Codex raised her free hand. “Anyway.” The single word was a statement that told Facsimile that it was time to drop it. “Detective, lead on. Afterward, I expect we’ll be going to visit Monica Collins?”
Facsimile pouted, mumbling something about Codex getting to argue with Frakes, but she didn’t push the name debate. When Detective Rogers gestured for them to come with her, she did without another word.
And it was much more difficult when they came out of the elevator and she saw the pair sitting on the long, wooden bench across from the precinct’s front desk.
The girl was around fifteen or sixteen with long curly hair that she almost wound up sitting on. Thin and gawky, she kept her eyes down but always searching as if she was scoping out the best play to flee. Nonetheless, she didn’t fidget, just occasionally looked over at the man beside her.
He was the reason Facsimile was having a hard time keeping her mouth shut. If James bond was Hispanic and allowed to age even after more than a hundred years on the silver screen, he would be a dead ringer for the man sitting next to the girl. Expensive suit, perfect posture, and an expression that said he belonged exactly where he was because he decided it just made her run up to him and ask if he was a spy—or possibly someone’s alter ego.
She quickly ran down all the heroes she knew and started theory-crafting. Maybe he was Umbrage fro Chicago. Or Infinity—wait, no. Everyone knew Infinity was a blonde dude named John Harding—maybe Barn Owl? Or maybe Lisa had a grandfather she didn’t know about and who looked absolutely nothing like her.
The man who was almost certainly a spy or superhero rose when he saw the trio emerge from the elevator. “Detective Rogers, I presume? And of course Mayfield’s own guardians need no introduction. I am Javier Rivera, and this is my granddaughter, Perdita Cardinál.”
The Detective shook the hand he proffered. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Rivera.”
“Please, call me Javier; I am not yet that old, Detective.”
“Javier,” Detective Rogers corrected. “I understand that your granddaughter is here to turn herself in?”
“Why?” Facsimile pipped up, earning herself a look from all the other adult present.
But Javier only laughed lightly. “I suppose that is a very good question. However, when I found out what she did, my strong moral fiber demanded the justice be done, whether it involve my own flesh and blood or not. However, I always prefer such moments become valuable lessons on character, responsibility and yes, humility. To that end, I had a very serious conversation with Perdita and impressed upon her that it was her choice: have me call the police, or that I would accompany her to turn herself in and plead her case on her behalf.” He turned toward his granddaughter and held out his hand. “Perdita?”
When the girl finally looked up and it became fully apparent that there really were two superheroes there, she leapt to her feet and grabbed Javier’s arm instead of his hand, clinging to it. “I-I didn’t know they’d be here.”
Javier patted the arm wrapped around his and gave a little sigh. “This is why I always stress that you must use your powers ethically and responsibly, nieta. Dangerous powers used for nefarious means requires that the authorities have no choice but to escalate as well.”
“Then you’re the one with the paralyzing ability?” Codex asked. “Are you a descendant? Are your accomplices descendants as well?”
“Y-yeah…” Perdita said in a small voice. “..and no. I’m the only one with powers. Please don’t make me tell on them? They’ll hate me forever!”
Stooping down a little, Detective Rogers addressed Perdita directly. “Things will go a lot easier for you if you told us who they were. You committed some very serious crimes here.”
“But surely her turning herself in will be a point in her favor, yes?” asked Javier, “And, of course, returning all of the stolen items. I will even personally pay for any repairs to the businesses involved.”
Detective Rogers straightened up. “Some of the charged might be waived by the injured parties, but that doesn’t change that using her powers on almost a dozen people the way she did amounts to assault. There will be charges, and there’s a real possibility that the DA will want to try her as an adult. You’re going to want a lawyer in her even before she signs her confession.”
Immediately, Perdita burst into tears and glommed onto Javier’s side. The older man cast a distraught eye toward Codex. “She… has had a hard time as of late: her mother lost her job and with it the lifestyle she is accustomed to, she has been pressured by her friends, and convinced to use her powers for evil. Is there nothing you can do to help Miss Codex?”
Without allowing her head to move in that direction, Codex looked down at Perdita. She knew crocodile tears when she saw them, but also doubted the girl had ever seen the inside of juvvie. There were other ways to rehabilitate the kid besides incarceration though.
“I’ll speak with some people, see if some of her sentence can be converted into mandatory power training at the Liedecker Institute and therapy sessions. But that doesn’t change that she cost many people days of their lives with all the hardships and terrified families that entails. Not to mention the resources at the hospital. Your granddaughter owes society a debt and she’s going to need to pay it somehow.”
Javier nodded slowly. “Yes. I understand. As I told Perdita: she must be prepared to face all the consequences of her actions.”
Two hours earlier.
“You can’t be serious, Grandpa Javi.”
“Oh, I am most serious. In order to remove yourself from scrutiny now, you will have to make them think you learned your lesson.”
The girl was practically vibrating in her seat, trying to keep from shouting. “But if I turn myself in, I’ll go to prison.”
“No.” Javier almost laughed at her expression. “You will go to juvenile hall. By turning yourself in and appearing suitably remorseful, you will prevent yourself from being tried as an adult. That means you will do eighteen months at most.”
“That’s still…” she began, but Javier shook his head.
“Secondly, you will plea bargain: your friends’ identities and the return of all stolen good for a reduced sentence.” Perdita started to protest, but he cut her off sharply. “Yes. You can. What is more important to you: the fickle friendship of two teenage girls, or a life of freedom: doing whatever you please without consequence? I am offering that to you, my Perdita, but only if you listen to me and do exactly as I say.”
After some thought, Perdita huffed and nodded.
“Good. These things will make you appear remorseful and that you have learned your lesson. That shall keep people from thinking too deeply when you are released within days with only a handful of community service hours to complete.”
“How do you know that’s going to happen?”
Javier smiled knowingly. “Ah, you see I have this job I must do…”
One Week Later…
“Mister Mendel, thank you for coming.” The words came out slurred and the speaker was rocking slowly on his heels, holding onto his wife’s arm a little too hard. “And Mr. Deeds. and his…” He trailed off and visibly had to pull his eyes away from Dexter Deeds’ date’s cleavage. He cleared his throat. “Luf…lovely date.”
“Uh… we’ve met, Your Honor. Mary Northbrooke?” Deed’s date and the Mayfield Scribe’s most popular reporter extended her hand cautiously.
His Honorable Mayor Cole Thomas, wobbled a bit on his feet, but managed to shake her hand. “I’m so sorry. It’s… It’s nice seeing you again. You have to excuse me, I’m feeling a little… not good all of a sudden.” He winced at hearing what his mouth had deemed a good idea to say out loud. “M-my apologies.”
Dexter Deeds and Lester Mendel shared a look, then excused themselves to go mingle with the other guests of the gala.
“Cole.” Anna Thomas hissed at her husband. “What is wrong with you? A-are you drunk?”
“’course not,” came the slurred response, making her grind her teeth. “What? I’m not. I having had a drink in two days.” That ‘days’ came out as ‘daaaaaysh’ didn’t help his case.
Anna’s fists clenched. “There are cameras everywhere. You staring at Northbrooke’s chest is going to the trending on SpeakOut in twenty minutes if we’re lucky. We need to get you some air and some coffee.”
“’not drunk!” That came out a little too loud and it drew the attention of the last person Anna wanted to see him like this—more than even the whole of the voting public.
“You alright there, Cole?” Vincent Liedecker, one of the Mayor’s biggest backers, moved up to her husband’s other side, patting him on the back. “You’re lookin’ a little green around the gills.”
Cole held his head, wishing the world would stop swaying under his feet. “Don’t know. Maybe food poisoning.”
“Yeah, that’s what I used ta call it in m’ college days,” Liedecker joked. “Anna? Maybe we oughta get him outta here.”
As the two maneuvered the mayor away from his public, Javier watched from across the ballroom and sipped champagne.
“You do good work,” said a woman with long, dark hair that he instantly noted was a wig. He knew who she was purely by reputation: a slowly changing reputation. A few years ago, he never would have imagined the Vorpal being the right hand of anyone, let alone one of the most successful crime lords on the east coast. Nor had he expected to ever actually see her face.
“I always do. The change in my payment… your employer found it acceptable?”
Vorpal nodded. “More than acceptable. Your granddaughter will be free by the end of the gala thanks to a judge having a change of heart. By this time next week, her record will be expunged.”
“Excellent. My thanks.”
She smirked and picked up her own champagne flute. “Don’t thank me: thank the future Mayor of Mayfield.”
End Issue #89