Jordan sat quietly in the swank bedroom of the parents’ of her “ex” (?) boyfriend. An odd place for one to sit and contemplate but she had few options. She couldn’t go home, it was swarming with police. Couldn’t go to her dad, police were also no doubt questioning him about her. And couldn’t go to the one person she trusted most because she was… dead. Jordan swallowed hard as the word echoed in her mind, still difficult to believe. It all seemed so ridiculous and yet too real at the same time. She heard the door open behind her but didn’t react.
“Hey.” The speaker moved further into the room when they got no response, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder. She turned her head to face him, noting the stricken expression on Kurt's face.
“Hey.” She solemnly replied and returned to her brooding.
“I, uh, came to check on you. How are the ribs feeling?”
“Sore. Broken. How should they feel? How should I feel?” At the sound of her opening up to him, Kurt came around the bed to kneel in front of her, trying to catch her eye. When she wouldn’t comply he reached up and gently turned her face toward him like he had done so many times before.
“None of this your fault. You can’t keep blaming yourself. You’ll go crazy if you dwell on the ‘what-ifs’.”
“What if this plan doesn’t work? What if I can’t fix it? What if she’s really gone?” At the mention of more failure, more loss, her composure crumbled and she slid off the bed into his arms. Kurt didn’t say any more, he just gently rocked her as the bitter tears stained his shirt.
Detective Robin Vasquez was lost. Utterly and totally bewildered. She had just fought with her captain and lost badly in front of nearly a dozen of her colleagues. Some had teased, others gave her a wide berth fearing to be labeled incompetent by association. Vasquez knew she wasn’t incompetent, she was too easily moved by the plight of others. She couldn’t just send Firebird away for crimes no one had proved she committed and that is where she lost perspective. It wasn’t her place to decide if Firebird was guilty or not. For all she knew, the surrender, even the fight leading up to it had all been a ruse.
She shook her head angrily. Nobody she knew would take a beating like that willingly; and to what to end? The only other explanation was a derivative of the base fear that most people had of mutants and super-beings. What if they weren’t in control of their immense power? What if, the only time Impact was acting of her own free will was when she tried to free Firebird? Though her remains were currently in the morgue, there was no guarantee that it would provide any answers to her strange behavior. If she had been an unwilling pawn up to that point, how sad that she escaped only to die a few hours later trying to make things right.
The notion that someone or something would be able to control a being as powerful as Impact was frightening. Someone with that kind of power would be nearly unstoppable. They would be free to commit crimes without consequence, secure in the knowledge that their pawns would take the fall. When one puppet was captured, they simply would acquire another with no feasible way to tie the two together. To the untrained eye it would seem like a series of random events.
“But, if you had that kind of power, why risk being caught by committing petty crimes? Assault, destruction of property; that’s kid stuff!” She became instantly self-aware when she realized she was talking out loud. She calmly got up, walked to her door…and slammed it deliberately hard for effect. “Now, where was I?” She drew a small mind map of the leads thus far, starting with the mysterious tip that gave them Firebird’s civilian identity.
“It’s gotta start there. I just need motive.” Lost in thought, chewing on her pen, the answer came to her. It was so painfully obvious. This wasn’t about material gain, not entirely, this was personal. Someone who knew Firebird and Impact also knew Jordan and Nona. Clearly, the person doing this had something against them; maybe it was their heroics? Their revenge was coming along nicely with Nona dead, Jordan devastated and run into hiding. “Almost the perfect crime.”
Vasquez knew she had her work cut out for her. Most of the department would be reluctant to help her since she was now squarely on the Captains bad side. She would have to enlist the rebels of the department: Sykes and Buckler. The two were forensic geniuses and dealers of exclusive information. Stroke their egos the right way and you could have Bill Gates ATM codes. Vasquez wasn’t looking forward to asking them for help. Since joining the force she was more into blunt force than flattery.
“It doesn’t matter,” she berated herself. “ I can’t do it alone. I have to find this person before the 11:59 do. I doubt they would offer him ‘three hots and a cot’.”
No, she knew at this point an eye for an eye was all they were willing to give. If their betrayer knew the team before he crossed them, he wasn’t exercising a great deal of caution. From the paces he put Impact through, his brashness could only mean one thing. He knew how to defeat them. It didn’t matter if they figured out who he was because he would be ready for them. He wanted them to come, dared them to. Vasquez gathered her things quickly and headed to the precincts basement. She couldn’t let Firebird find her foe. Her whole team could be killed, leaving the city easy prey for someone far more sinister.