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Countdown: Part III

posted Nov 2, 2018, 4:38 AM by Jeffrey Wolf   [ updated Nov 2, 2018, 4:39 AM ]

By: Katherine Alder, Staff Writer

Posted November 2nd, 2018

After I agreed to the mission, Captain Evans drove me back to my house, where the power dampening cuffs were removed.  I wasn’t allowed to leave my house which was guarded by a team of task force minions, and they kept a power dampener on my house at all times.  I was instructed to wait until they had collected the rest of the team and were ready for us to begin. I closed all my drapes and locked my doors, trying to ignore the constant vigilance of the guards. I listened to the news coverage from the bank incident, the Task Force obviously had something to do with it, because they were naming me specifically, solidifying the idea of my guilt in people’s minds. I change my appearance often so no one had an accurate or consistent description of me, making it hard to identify me.  The Task Force, however, keeps closer tabs on me and generally knows where I live.

“Countdown strikes again,”

“Mutant, time-traveling, villain is back on her path of crime.”

“Was the Task Force wrong to grant her mercy? Her recent actions say yes.”

“Countdown’s second chance blows up in their faces.”

I listened to the description they had of me on one station, “A the bank on Maple Street was robbed yesterday. Two of the three subjects have been arrested. The third suspect is a woman who is considered armed and dangerous. They don’t appear to have been working together. The woman shot and wounded one of the robbers and absconded with the money. She has red hair and brown eyes.  She was approximately 5’9” and 130 pounds with no visible tattoos. She was last seen wearing jeans and a red cardigan.” the news anchor narrated the events from yesterday and gave a description of me.  Apparently the would be thieves forgot I was wearing high heeled boots. Time to reinvent myself.

I washed off my makeup and removed my brown contact lenses.  I put on a pair of glasses with dark hipster frames and rummaged around my bathroom for some hair dye.  I had rather liked the red, but it was time for a change. I found a box of dark brown perfect for blending in.  I considered colorful streaks to go for a more modern style, but I decided against it because colorful hair draws too much attention. I pulled the shower curtain out of the way so I would get dye on it, or rather wouldn’t get more dye on it. The white curtain was speckled with a myriad of different colors of dye. I pulled on a pair of cheap plastic gloves and mixed the two chemicals together, watching as the color in the bottle changed.  I combed it through my hair carefully, to avoid staining my skin. Then I waited. Twenty minutes later my phone started vibrating across the counter startling me slightly and turned it off. I started the water. The gloves made it slightly harder to check the temperature for some reason. The water went from ice to practically boiling after a moment. When I finally got the water to right temperature I rinsed out the dye the water, tinted brown, escaped down the drain.  I plugged in my old hair dryer. I don’t even know why I bothered to use it. It took forever to dry my hair, but once I was done, I started to cut it. I cut off a few inches leaving it just above my shoulders in layers. I quickly changed into a pair of skinny jeans, a white t-shirt and a flannel with the sleeves rolled up to show off the tattoos on my arms. I looked nothing like the description the police had.

It took them about a week to finally contact me.  I had nothing to do but think. The more I thought about it the more suspicious the whole thing seemed. The robbery happening the very moment I walked in the bank?  Coincidence perhaps, but they needed me to commit a crime for their plan to function. Though I did break the law somewhat often, I decided to continue on, and go through with the mission, ignoring my suspicions.  The reward outweighed the cost.

After ending the call with Jordan and Axel, I did my make up before I left, more to waste time than anything else. When I finally opened the door, Captain Evans was waiting for me irritatedly. He cuffed me, and pushed me toward the police car, I got in the back seat, while he picked up the power dampener they had pointed at my house for the last week.  He threw it in the trunk and started the car. We drove off in the opposite direction of both Grand-River and Headquarters: the two places I had expected to be going. Once again, I tuned out the conversation between Evans and his partner. Instead I focused on memorizing the route. We pulled into the remnants of the parking lot in a derelict abandoned factory. He parked the car, got out, and led me around the back.  There, Jordan, Axel, and three other people, presumably the team I’d be working with, waited.

“You’re late,” Axel accused.

“Yes well I wouldn’t be if I could use my powers,” I answered.

“We both know you would have tried to run if I had allowed that,” he replied.

“No, actually I wouldn’t have. You made sure I couldn’t do that. Love the news coverage by the way,” I said.

“You shouldn’t have robbed a bank.”

“Oh my god, it was already being robbed. At least I return most of the money. They should have better security,” I defended.

“Than why would you rob them?  You should have helped them,” he scolded.

“I did.  I stopped the other robbers,” I responded.

“It doesn’t help if you stop one set of robbers only to rob them yourself,” he sighed.

“Yeah, but they had guns and were threatening people. Also, they were insufferably stupid.  I think that is the bigger crime,” I replied, then added, “Though an argument can be made for my stupidity due to a lack of forethought that got me into this situation.”

“Do I actually have to work with this criminal? How can I trust her?” A man asked, he had been standing in the original group. I had forgotten they were still standing there.

“Trust me? That would be a mistake,” I replied.

“See!” he exclaimed.

“You need her for the mission or she wouldn’t be here she’d be in a jail cell. You have to work with her or leave, Jackson,” Jordan interjected.

He ran his fingers through his blonde hair and sighed before brusquely saying, “Fine.”

“Now that that is settled, we brought you here to discuss the mission details,” Jordan said.

“When do we start,” I asked.

“If you would let me finish.” She said, then added, “If you are going to succeed you need to work as a team and be able to trust each other.”

“Yeah I don’t do the whole trust thing,” I replied.

She ignored me and continued, “You will have to train together, and practice the mission before we send you out there, and on top of that, you don’t have a lot of time.  We are gathering information and building your fake identities to get you into the weapons dealer, but the rest is up to you. You will fail without teamwork.”

“About that-” I started.

She cut me off, “Am I understood.”

The others all agreed I didn’t respond. Instead I took the time to look at the ‘team.’  There was Jackson, a girl with purple hair cut short, she was taller than me by a few inches, and another guy, he was standing with his arms crossed watching the events unfold.

“Am I understood, Morozov,” she repeated.

“I heard you the first time,” I replied.

She sighed and said, “You will all be staying at the headquarters where you can be supervised.”

“Why are we being supervised? She is the only one who might run off,” Jackson complained, his hands clenched in fists.

“Technically, I am the only one who can’t run away. If I do, they can have me arrested. You are here by choice, so you are the true flight risk,” I pointed out.

Jackson started to respond but Axel stopped him, “Enough you will all be under constant surveillance and no amount of arguing will change this. Now let’s go.”

I mumbled, “Big brother is watching,” under my breath as I walked back to the car.