“Jemima?” Sayia called out down the dark, echoing corridor. It was the kind of corridor you’d see in a torture movie, the kind where unsuspecting teens have to fight some strange, masked kidnapper to escape. The roof was just a little bit too low, pipes stretched along the tops of the walls to vent… something and the lights that cast flickering circular spotlights onto the floor were ever so slightly too far apart, leaving you to walk in darkness just long enough to feel a chill run down your spine before you found brightness again. Sayia had decided a month or so ago that his frame that didn’t help. He was tall sure, but even he was used to ceilings that didn’t make him feel like he needed to duck. He knew Jemima and her cohorts had chosen this part of the sewers deliberately. The thought of creepy, twisting concrete corridors and the villains you may find down them was enough to put most people off bothering the Evisceration, but he didn’t scare so easily. He knew more about these people than they did about each other. Both as a lawyer and a Hero much of his time was spent reading files; know your enemy was a phrase he often swore by and it was true, information was power in Paragon City. You could knock a kingpin villain off their throne just by knowing something about them no one else did. Whenever he was about to encounter the Evisceration he’d run through the basics in his head to kick start the memories of everything he’d read about them, just in case he needed it.
He rounded the corner and came face to face with the young girl known ‘affectionately’ as Miss D and one of his in head recitals automatically started. Miss Directed. Real name: unknown. Known aliases: Miss D, Missy D, Alice. Known villain group affiliations: The Evisceration. Known associates: Sister Sever, Dark Pain Lord, Vera-Ellen. Threat Level: 50. Known powers: psychic, telekinetic. Suspected projector. Suspected necromancer. Distinguishing features: scarring across the entire body suggesting extreme physical abuse as a child. Sayia blinked. Miss D’s head was tilted and she was staring at him with cold, dark, dead eyes. He could tell she knew what he was reciting in her head. Out of every villain he’d met, Miss D was the only one who frightened him; genuinely frightened him to his core. She was unstable and had no moral compass whatsoever. No one knew for sure the extent of her powers. All he knew was that every time he encountered her he could feel something in his stomach. It was like being hollow. It was as if just looking at her drained you. The hairs on the back of his neck started to stand up on end and then the whispering started. The rumour that was most abundant with Miss D was that every person she’d killed followed her. The more superstitious believed that she can drain souls and those souls stay with her. He didn’t believe that was true. The whispering could be a cruel trick created by a powerful psychic mind. On the other hand, he could be wrong. In the maddening moments he allowed himself to listen to the whispers, he could tell each one had a different voice. When Miss D was sedate, as she seemed to be now, the voices seemed to cast out warnings, tell him to leave, to run for his life. Some even told him to kill the girl who couldn’t be much older than 16. But when she was angry, or under Sever’s command, the voices would change as if she controlled them. They would scream about what she was going to do to the person in her sights, sending vicious messages of violence and death as if they were heralding that person’s fate. Sayia moved his eyes to meet Miss D’s and there was silence.
“…what do you want…?” a soft, female whisper crept into his ear, though Miss Directed’s lips didn’t move.
“GO AWAY!” another screamed; older, more masculine
Sayia cleared his throat “I’m not here to try to hurt you. You know that.” He tried to keep his voice calm
There was a long pause, even the whispers stopped; before a single voice cut through his mind “You hurt me” He knew that one. The voice he was certain only he and Jemima had ever heard.
“Miss D…” he changed his mind “…Alice. I need to speak to Jemima. It’s…”
“You. Hurt. Me.” Miss D’s eyes darkened
“It was an accident.” he didn’t realise, but he was starting to hold his hands out defensively in front of himself
“You wanted to kill me”
“…I didn’t. I didn’t mean for you to get hurt” His voice started to waver as she took a single step forward. Or did she? Christ, she was like the kid out of that Japanese film that scared the crap out of him, though he’d never admit it.
“You. Hit me. You put your hands on me. You wanted to kill me.”
Jesus Christ how the hell did she get so close?! His mind screamed at him. She’d been fifty metres ahead hadn’t she? Now she was standing under the same spotlight as him, staring straight up as though she’d been there all the time “…Alice. It was an accident. I know you can see that. I know you can.” All of sudden he was on a rooftop. It was raining. He was chasing Jemima’s purple flash as she darted across the concrete. He reached out to stop her and there was Miss Directed. She blocked him from getting any further; a black hooded figure as still as a statue. He couldn’t stop himself. His hand connected with her and she crashed to one side. Her head hit the breezeblock edge of an air conditioning unit. Blood started to run down her face from her hairline. Blood? He didn’t remember the blood. Sayia reached forward, leaning down to cup her face with both hands. She was out cold. Hurt, but still breathing. Now was his chance. His hands started to squeeze her head. He lifted it very slowly, revelling in the opportunity and then started to bash it over and over on the concrete edge behind it. He used every ounce of strength. On the third hit he felt the crack. On the fourth he felt the splintering of bone. Then it was like pounding meat; soft and growing softer by the moment. Her face was impacting as her skull gave way, one eye bulging as the cheekbone shattered under it. He was smiling. God it felt so good. He’d never felt anything so good!
“STOP!” A voice rung down the corridor. Sayia stumbled backwards into the wall and gasped for breath. He stared down at his hands. They were violently shaking; so badly he couldn’t’ even bend his fingers.
“…that didn’t happen…” He swallowed, trying to cut out the sound of his heartbeat thundering in his ears “…that didn’t… happen…” Somehow he looked up at Miss Directed. He was met by the smallest of smiles. The kind a cat would wear after catching the juiciest of pigeons. Then he caught sight of Jemima. He’d never been so grateful to see her. She slipped her hand onto Miss Directed’s shoulder and suddenly she seemed to calm and grow meek. He watched as the girl, mentally younger than her physical age, that could be the only explanation for her being able to be so cruel, curled into Jemima, seeking her protection. Jemima looked down at her and gently stroked her hair as a mother would.
“…you gotta keep control of that kid…” Sayia tried to smile. He tried to make light of it.
Jemima’s violet eyes moved to him “I’m sorry. She’s still upset.”
“…I got that” A nervous laugh escaped his lips.
“Go on” Jemima cooed to Miss Directed “Go get some sleep. You need your strength.
The girl looked up at her, nodded and then slowly made her way along the corridor as if nothing had happened; as if she was no different to any other.
As soon as she was out of sight Sayia exhaled, rested his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.
“I’m sorry. I’ve asked her not to do that while we’re here.” Jemima nodded very slowly “She’s a good kid…” her words were cut off by the laugh Sayia couldn’t stop coming out.
“If that’s a good kid, I don’t ever want to see a bad one.”
Jemima’s expression hardened “She has been through more than any person should have to endure.”
“Coming from you that’s…”
“Coming from me, that means it’s about as bad as it gets.” Jemima stared him down, coldly “Think what you want about me. You know what I’ve done. You know there’s worse you’ve never been able to prove. I can choose to do awful things. She can’t.”
Sayia went to speak, but chose not to.
“She doesn’t understand anything but fear. She only feels safe when people are frightened of her or if I’m there…”
“I know.” Sayia nodded very slowly and looked to Jemima “You know I believe you when you say you keep her in line…”
“I know you don’t understand.”
Sayia sighed “I don’t understand. You’re right. I don’t understand why if you can stop her when you want, you don’t just stop her…”
Jemima took a long, deep breath “Because we see things differently. The people you see as victims, I see as the problem.”
He didn’t want to get into a debate. Meta rights were something he and Jemima saw rather differently and he didn’t want to risk losing her commitment to his cause. “I didn’t come here to fight.”
By the look on his face, she knew he was telling the truth “What do you want then?”
Sayia took a moment to choose his words so he wouldn’t cause panic if he was being overheard “You, me, Tara… we need to talk. It’s important.” He didn’t blink as he spoke, to make sure she understood just how important it was.
Jemima looked away for a moment and then back to his eyes “I’ll be there.”
Continued in Chapter 3 here