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In which it's Lucky's turn to have a bad day, and it's a doozy.



April 10 and 11, 1987

The day looked as if it would continue quietly (you can insert the moderately ominous soundtrack here, if you like). Much of this entry has been extensively reconstructed from various eyewitness reports, but I think I've got the order of events correct. This journal is becoming something of an obsession for me, I think. I wonder if anyone will ever read it.
    Antisocial as usual, I went back out to patrol, conducting leisurely sweeps over the city. Flying is great; aside from the sheer physical pleasure, it takes enough concentration that I find myself effectively distracted from brooding. The air was fairly warm, the sky overcast, as if we might be in for a shower soon. At one point I felt quite suddenly certain that I was being watched, paused to survey the city below and the airspace around me and saw nothing, but I spent the next several hours in a distinctly unsettled frame of mind.
    In the meantime, Albert Gabriel Smith descended upon the local public access cable office to see about getting his show off the ground, and was immediately forced to deal with the most bewildering mire of paperwork a super-hero has ever faced, all the while diligently explaining to anyone who would stand still how much benefit his techniques could confer upon those would listen.
    Lucky, having gone through the papers and crossed out all mentions of her own name with a black marker, went to her gym and killed a few punching bags. Still mysteriously out of sorts, she proceeded from there to the Ratskeller, presumeably to drown her sorrows.
    INH, having been left rather unexpectedly alone at base, explored the place in short order. A curious being, it unlocked Phoenix's room to see what might be in it and promptly found his extensive comic collection. It wound up in the rec room, TV and radio going, reading comics and presumably enjoying itself as it absorbed cultural referents at high speed, albeit rather specialized and peculiar ones. The phone rang. After a while the ringing stopped. My voice recited our usual message, then a new voice started to speak.
    "Hello? Hello, is anyone really there? Pick up, please. Pick up pick up pick up pick up pick up.... There's no one there." All of this was rather fascinating. It happened a few times over the next couple of hours.
    And a gorgeous blonde with legs that went all the way up to her badge entered the county lockup and flashed her ID to the stunned desk sergeant. "I need to speak with Paul Owen."
    "Uh. Sure. Have a seat, I'll get him." He managed to rip his gaze away from those crossed legs long enough to get on the phone. "He's in conference room 3."
    "Thank you," she murmured, tik-takked down the hall, opened the door, seated herself and opened her briefcase. On the other side of the thick Plexiglas Power Line faced her calmly. "Well, Owen, you've certainly gotten yourself into a bit of trouble."
    "Looks like it," he agreed equably.
    She touched a point on her neck; the blonde hologram faded to reveal TECH's Skyfox. She pulled a gun out of the briefcase and fired at the glass, shattering it. She handed Power Line a set of wings and a small device. Alarms were going off around them. They flew straight through the ceiling.
    A busy day for everyone. Or so it was related to us when we gathered at the scene in response to Reilly's call—"we" meaning myself and Albert, since Lucky had descended into one of her unfathomable moods. When Reilly asked who was watching the robot, she retorted that she wasn't a baby-sitter and hung up on him. He's not real happy about that. The escaping pair had flown straight up, as far any witnesses were able to tell us, with no further clues as to where they had gone. We found no properties other than the abandoned chemical plant listed under any name we could think to associate with TECH, no sign of where they might have gone to ground. This was getting more than slightly frustrating, not to mention making us look bad. Albert returned to base while I swung by the chemical plant just to make sure we hadn't missed anything.
    It was surrounded by police tape and crawling with investigators and people from environmental services. I headed back for base, listened with what I hoped was an expression of polite calm while Albert admitted to accidentally erasing the answering machine tape (he's not very comfortable with technology). INH chimed in with its own puzzlement about the ringing device; at least its ignorance was understandable. It remembered what the messages had been. Nothing important, although Sterling had called looking for Phoenix and a guy had said something about doing some "technical upgrades" to the base equipment—about time. I showed INH how the phone works and suggested a bit acidly that Albert might want to watch, too. He got huffy and retreated to his room.
    Things settled down again. We had no way of finding TECH, so our only course seemed to be to wait until they showed themselves again. I watched INH watch TV and read comics, curious about it, nagged by some thought which refused to come near enough for identification. A news program came on, and I listened with less than half my attention until I heard them mention Lucky. I watched, then, with mounting disbelief, a live shot of the crime scene where it appeared my teammate had very nearly been killed a short while back.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson