Zombie 02 (Forlorn)
Katherine Hana Li spin_kick_snap
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Ex-Los Angeles, Friday Evening
After decontamination and quarantine, Gorgon headed over to Roddenberry, where Stealth had claimed the entirety of the executive fourth floor for herself. A lot of people had grumbled when she had, thinking it was some kind of status thing, but Gorgon knew better. It was central, with the best sight lines, and already wired for mass communication. Stealth had a lot more to worry about than her status among a bunch of survivors.

He rapped on a polished door and walked in. There was a large table people once sat at and discussed syndicated television shows and DVD box sets. Now all the chairs were gone and it was covered with maps and reports from across the lot. She'd moved over two dozen screens into the room, showing every street and every entrance to the Mount. Gorgon wandered over to look at them; there were far fewer people out than normal, even taking into account that it was winter.


Stealth
"Still quiet?" Stealth stood in the shadows of the open door behind Gorgon. As always, she wore her full uniform, even the mask. Her face was a tight, black surface of vague features, hidden even further by the shapeless charcoal hood shrouding her head. Stealth knew of at least three separate bets around the Mount over whether or not anyone here had ever seen her face.

Gorgon
"Yeah. Looks like everybody is still lying low after your little show this morning."

One of the major issues on the Mount was the lack of privacy. The major stages and sets had been turned into mass housing, with two dozen families living in each one. That forced proximity led to fights, and this morning, two of those fights had ended in deaths. Stealth had thrown the murders over the fence at the North Gower Gate.

The screams hadn't lasted, but Gorgon was pretty sure the lesson would.

Stealth
"Probably," Stealth agreed without inflection, crossing over to the other side of the table to face him. "But it's your little slow that I'm more interested in talking about."

Gorgon
"Heard about that, did you?"

Not that Gorgon was surprised. Why else would she wanted to have talked to him? The real question was whether George had narc'd him out or if she'd just been eavesdropping.

Stealth
"Both, actually," she said and then allowed some amusement to show in her voice as his head came up in surprise. "It's not particularly difficult to tell what you are thinking, even with your eyes covered. I first heard about it when Lady Bee radioed St. George to inform him that you were going off on your own. After what I calculated would be a suitable amount of time had passed, I radioed him as well for a status update."

Gorgon
Of course she had. That whole explanation was such classic her. He crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow. Sure, it was hidden behind his goggles, but hadn't she just said she could read him anyway?

"And?"

Stealth
"And I want to know if you've run out your passive death wish yet or if we should just let you commit suicide by ex," Stealth asked mildly, as if they were discussing the weather.

Gorgon
Stealth's bluntness made Gorgon choke a bit and his brief coughing spurt at least bought him a few extra seconds to think. "So, that's what you think I've been doing?" he asked when he could speak again, trying to match her in casual.

He wasn't successful.

Stealth
"That's what we both know what you've been doing," Stealth told him. "You forget how long I watched you, Gorgon. You were always cocksure and full of bravado, but never like this. This new idiot recklessness only surfaced after Banzai died." She eyed him through her mask. "We could discuss the Kübler-Ross stages of grief, but that's not really what you're looking for."

Gorgon
"Oh?" Gorgon asked, feeling off-balance by Stealth's calm dissection. "What am I looking for, then?"

Stealth
"Purpose," she said. "You've lost yours and without it, you have nothing."

Gorgon
And see? This was why he didn't talk to Stealth much.

"I didn't have a purpose for years and it wasn't a problem," he told her, hoping he didn't sound as defensive as he felt. "I made it as a Hollywood agent and was doing just fine."

Stealth
"No, you buried yourself in work, in meaningless relationships based solely on sexual gratification, and stupid, macho activities, like the trip to Greece that resulted in your powers." Stealth sounded like she was reciting a lesson for a very thick-headed child. "It wasn't until you became a hero that you stopped coasting and started living."

Gorgon
Fuck. She had him there. Even his mother had commented on it, just a few weeks before the end, telling him she liked the changes she was seeing. Of course, she thought it had to do with a screenplay he was writing, which had been his go-to excuse for why he wasn't available at night anymore.

The last thing his mother had said to him was that she was proud of him, and she hadn't even known the real reason why.

"So?" he asked, voice harsh as he pushed those thoughts away. "Hate to break it to you, Stealth, but I'm not really a super-hero. Not anymore. My powers don't work on exes."

Stealth
"But they work on people," she said, and let him connect the dots on his own.

Gorgon
"This is about this morning," he realized. "The fights. The deaths."

Stealth
"The fights that never should have gotten far enough to become deaths," Stealth agreed. "And not only that. People are growing restless, antsy. They no longer fear for their lives and so little annoyances have time to fester. There have also been thefts, assaults, burglaries, and one case of arson. There are almost five thousand people in the Mount now; close to a thousand of them are packed into an area smaller than a city block. The Mount needs a superhero policing them more than ever."

Gorgon
"Not a superhero," he said softly. "A sheriff."

Stealth
Stealth slid something across the table at him. It glimmered in the light. "I thought you might see it that way."

Gorgon
Gorgon picked it up and examined it. A six-pointed sheriff's badge, dug up from some prop bin or another. With hands that trembled ever-so-slightly, he affixed it to the lapel of his duster. "Kinda miss patrolling. And the Mount has plenty of land to patrol. Streets. Halls. Farms. That kind of thing," he noted.

Stealth
"Indeed." She held out her gloved hand. "And no one to do it if you keep flinging yourself into buildings filled with exes."

Gorgon
"Guess you're right," he said, then nodded towards one of the screens. The big guy he'd noticed coming in a few weeks ago was skulking around the mushroom farm, where several bushels were sitting unattended. As they watched, his hands shot out and he started filling his pockets with mushrooms. "Looks like I'll be too busy to do much scavenging anyway."

Stealth
Their conversation over, at least as far as she was concerned, Stealth nodded, both in agreement and as an unsubtle hint for him to see his way out.

Gorgon
He headed for the door, then paused in the doorway. "Just once last thing," he said. "Pass it around the guards on duty?" He waited for her nod of acknowledgement before saying, "Any of them spots Banzai, they get me," he said. "And if anybody takes her out, I make what you did this morning look like babytown frolics."

And then he was gone. He had a criminal to apprehend, after all.


[NFI, NFB, OOC is love. Bits taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, Chapter Nine]