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Phoenix's replacement is weirder than he was. Did I mention freeze weapons?



April 9 and 10, 1987

It's been two months since Phoenix left. Two months since anyone has tried to kill me in a personal sort of way.
    A week after the second attempt on me, I broke my lease and moved into our base in the harbor. It just didn't make any sense to keep it, not when I didn't know if or when they might try again. My room here is tiny—actually a converted storage closet, but since I hardly spent any time here before I didn't see any reason for a larger one—but I don't have a whole lot of stuff. I gave most of "my" furniture to Goodwill. All that's here is the stereo, the bookcase with its collection of dogeared paperbacks, old physics texts and a couple of new ones on things like biochemistry which I haven't given a lot of attention to yet, clothes and a few odds and ends. One framed print of the space shuttle taking off. Looking at how little there is, I'm amazed that it never occurred to me earlier that my life wasn't entirely natural. There's just enough there to establish an impression.
    The box marked "evidence" is under the bed. The rest of it... is just there. It doesn't mean anything, and I keep wondering where it really came from.
    My memory is like being in possession of a stranger's photo albumns. There's hundreds of pictures in there, a complete chronology, labeled with downright obsessive care. Names, dates, places. But I don't really know them.
    God, but I'm messed up. On my off shift I lie in the dark, Newton purring comfortably at the foot of the bed, and review those few minutes of real memory. Useless. No one knows anything about Zed, his face has no records attached that I've been able to find. I shouldn't have been so surprised, or so disappointed, I suppose—this is the League, they're not exactly amateurs when it comes to covering their tracks. Perhaps they've decided that I won't be a problem after all, or have realized that if they only stay still, I have no way to find them.
    I don't think about it much lately, or anything else. With only two of us, there's more than enough work, although things have been quieter lately than they were—no supervillains worthy of the name, no gods coming up from uneasy graves. Lucky and I don't see much of each other. Just as well, since we've begun to get on each other's nerves. I suppose she's worried about me, unable to understand that more than anything else right now I need to be left alone while I come to terms with my life. We've got it down to a pattern now. She spends a few days being solicitous. I ignore her for a while and when she doesn't get the hint finally just tell her to leave me alone. She sulks for a week or so, and then we repeat.
    At least Newton seems content to be here, prowling the limited land area of the island like a much larger carnivore.
    I feel very alone. Knowing that I have eight identical sisters out there in the world somewhere (nine if you count poor Tempest) doesn't help any. I owe my existence to criminal intent. I owe my awareness of that fact to the murder of an innocent woman. I harbor a gut conviction that these people are up to something, but I don't know what or how to stop it. My dreams aren't a whole lot of fun. I hate feeling helpless like this, vulnerable and not knowing what to do, so I work until I'm too tired to think. I don't feel any better, but at least I'm getting something done.
    Such has been the status quo since we defeated the Wolf God. Phoenix was on a plane to Tokyo two days later, over Ellis' objections and with a determined set to his jaw. Dawn went with him, of course, and a call went out for a replacement right away. A week ago, we finally got one in the form of Albert Gabriel Smith—mesmerist, francophile, and one snappy dresser. He's not much to look at, being a couple inches shorter than I am, and the top hat and tails look a bit out of place beside Lucky's and my pragmatic dress—and everyplace else. He claims it's "only what a gentleman ought to wear." I haven't gotten to know him well at all yet, but he has a marked tendency to lecture. I'll put up with that gladly for the sake of what he adds; real investigative training, for one thing, and subtly impressive power. We were all out together one night, getting used to being a threesome, when we ran across a gang up to no good. A few of them refused to do the sensible thing. Albert looked into a man's eyes for a moment; the punk screamed, began jerking convulsively, and in a moment had literally been terrified into unconsciousness by whatever illusion Albert had put before his mind. Not an ability for the squeamish; as a team, our powers tend toward brutal application.
    Today's was a fine morning, not quite spring yet, everyone was at base. I was being charming as usual and Lucky had gone off to be annoyed with me at a distance when the phone rang. Bank robbery in progress downtown, and a strange cloud was present. We scrambled. Lucky took the boat and I ferried Albert, who i slight enough for me to handle easily and who doesn't care for the way she drives. The officer on the scene described a fairly standard operation: two men in trench coats had walked in a few minutes ago. One of them zapped the surveillance system with a bolt of electricity, the other released a heavy mist that cloaked all further happenings. Most of the people were still inside.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson