“Hold on,” I said to Shay. “You’re telling me this is peach…pie?”
“Uh, yeah,” she answered, sounding confused. “Have you somehow never heard of fruit pies?”
“Guess not,” I said, taking a bite of “Silver Reef’s Famous Peach Pie.” “Holy shit,” I said, chewing the pie. “This is incredible!”
Shay smiled, staring at my mouth.
“Glad you like it,” she said, handing me a napkin. “Why do you love peaches so much anyway? I mean they’re sweet, but I don’t think they’re anything special.”
Before answering, I wiped some whipped cream off my face.
“Before meeting you guys, my diet basically consisted of bar food, stuff I found in dumpsters,” Hearing that part kind of grossed Shay out if her facial expression was anything to go by. “And, well, peaches. Whenever I finished a job, whether it was hunting down a serial killer or cutting off the dick of a rapist,” Surprisingly, that part didn’t seem to gross her out. “I’d reward myself with a peach. Not sure why to be honest. Just got one one day and I was hooked.”
The last few days had been amazing. Sure there was the killer robot and the horrifying imagery of Olivia in dominatrix gear, but Shay…she got got me. When I’d met Eve, I was attracted to her, but at this point I think that was just hormones. But Shay got me. She wasn’t super hot like Eve or the hookers I used to sleep with, but that didn’t matter.
She was a better fighter than me. She was super smart. She had the same positivity about her that Carter did. And boy did she have one Hell of a wild side.
“That makes sense I guess,” Shay said, looking at her watch. That was another cool thing about Shay. She was the only person I knew under 30 who still wore a watch. She knew it drew odd looks from people she hung out with, but she didn’t give a shit. “Alright, Joey should be getting here a few minutes. I’ll fill you both in on what I’ve got.”
“Remind me why you agreed to make that oaf your sidekick?” I asked.
Before she answered, she took a bite of the pie, more whipped cream ending up on her spoon than anything else.
“He was gonna go solo if I didn’t bring him on board. I couldn’t let him get himself killed. Figure I may as well make him think he’s being useful.” She licked some whipped cream off of her lips. “Besides, he may not be super skilled, but I’d still put my money on him over the average thug in a brawl.”
“You haven’t actually told me many stories of crimes you’ve stopped,” I said. “Come to think of it, what do you “got?”
Shay came in close and gestured for me to follow suit.
“I’ll get into the details later,” Shay whispered. “But I’m gathering evidence to take down Andrew Davenport.”
“Raina’s dad?” I asked. “What’s he got to do with anything?”
“Fuck it, Carter won’t listen, I need to tell someone now or I’m gonna lose it,” she said softly. “Way back, from before the Guardianship even got started to the time when all the super heroes disappeared, most of the non-super villain crime in Bluejay City could be tracked back to a company called Saxon Dynamics. Its founder, Genevieve Saxon, was a super villain called Syringe, who, in addition to running the criminal underworld of Bluejay, also orchestrated horrific disasters which would result in her company’s stock going up, and made the attacks look like they were performed by terrorists.”
I wonder if she ever blew up any orphanages.
“What does any of that have to do with Andrew?” I asked.
“I think he’s been using the same business model since he took over Panda corp,” Shay answered. “Back when I was a cop, I noticed a lot of peculiar stories that didn’t really add up. Plus, remember how a few months ago there was talk about China lifting its ban on parents who didn’t both have powers having more than kid? Right before the vote, a camp where a lot of China’s non-powered military stayed was attacked by an unknown paramilitary group, and all of China’s soldiers were murdered. Now I couldn’t find any information on who it was, but Genevieve’s successor at Saxon Dynamics also utilized that tactic.”
“Why do you think Andrew’s behind that?” I asked.
“Because a large percentage of Panda corp’s labor is done in China, and most of the super wealthy investors are old, racist, Demigods, who prefer to invest in companies which mostly employ people with powers.”
Even though she was whispering, Shay’s excitement about this was clear. And frankly, I got why. Andrew had been in charge of Panda corp for as long as Raina had been alive. If he really had been orchestrating things like these for 14 years, than he could be responsible for possibly tens of thousands of deaths.
Still, I never went after someone until I was 100% positive that they were guilty.
“Do you have any more links between him and other deaths?” I asked.
“Tons,” she answered, speaking louder.
“Look, Shay, I’m with you, you know that, but where are you getting this information from? If it was as simple as watching the news or doing an online search, you wouldn’t be the first person to be making this connection.”
“Exactly!” she practically shouted. “Panda corp has been covering these things up. I only know what I know because over the course of the last few months, I’ve spent a few nights sneaking into Panda corp’s HQ and looking at Andrew’s files.” She slammed her hands down. “I’ve been suspicious of him for awhile. I wouldn’t have done this otherwise.” Then, she put her hands on top of mine. “I know I’m right about this, Malcolm. You’ve got to help me bring him to justice.”
Shay continued to impress me. I’d seen what Panda corp’s security looked like, and it was super tight. There were security cameras everywhere, guards ranged from being armed with sidearm’s to assault rifles, and from what Eve had told me, the really important stuff was stored in rooms which also held nerve gas canisters.
Raina loved her dad, but she had a bigger problem with evil crime lords than I did. If this was all true, there was no way Raina knew about any of it. It would hurt her to see her only living parent go to prison, or if I had my way, get a bullet through his brain, but who knows how many lives would be saved with him being out of the picture?
“I’m in,” I said.
“Good, she said, slowly sliding her hands off mine. “I knew I could count on you.”
Over the course of the next few minutes, we ate the rest of the peach pie, and talked about less serious things like our favorite beers, and our mutual hatred of hipsters. Eve had been the one to inform me of their existence, and I’d been slightly more disappointed in the world ever since.
Once the pie was mostly finished, Shay scraped up the leftover crumbs and cream with her soon, and rammed it into my mouth.
“Bang,” she said with wide eyes.
I knew she wasn’t coming on to me. She didn’t like me that way…yet. Still, it was nice. She didn’t just like Malcolm, super hero and her brother’s best friend. She liked Bang, crazy ass killer of bad guys.
“Hey guys,” Joey said, entering the diner. “Ready to head out?” He asked gleefully before whispering, “On patrol?!”
Shay and I both sighed, getting up.
“…So Joey, can I count on you?” Shay asked, having just finished telling him what she’d told me.
“Of course!” Joey shouted, which was rather unfortunate for my ears since we were in a car. “Wherever Panda is needed, Captain K.O. will follow.”
“Glad to have you on board,” Shay said, making a sharp left turn. “I tell ya, the three of us are gonna bring this rich bastard down.”
“Hell yeah we are,” Joey said, reaching over to the passenger seat to give me a fist bump.
“Yeah, go team,” I said with no enthusiasm, giving Joey the fist bump he desired.
“Now remember, Raina and Olivia hear nothing about this. Obviously Carter hasn’t said anything, but Raina might mention it to her “Daddy” as a joke, and you guys may be cool with Olivia, but Andrew is still the one who bought her out of prison.” After a few moments, she continued. “Actually, Malcolm, don’t tell Eve anything either. Her and Olivia tell each other everything.”
“Got it,” I said. “So this is your case. What’s the plan?”
“He’s the richest man in the world. Not a low level mob boss, not a hit man, no. He’s got spies and guards everywhere, and despite all evidence to the contrary, I think he’s got a power. Honestly, between the three of us, we could probably set up a situation in which we could assassinate him.” Shay stopped short at a red light. “But we’re not going to do that. Unless our lives are put directly at risk, we do this by the book. You guys got that?”
She was asking both of us, but I knew the question was meant for me. Yeah, I wanted to kill the fucker, and if any of my sisters were here, they’d probably be telling me to ignore what Shay was saying.
But I needed this. I needed her. So for now at least, I was going to do this her way.
Joey and I both nodded.
“So all that stuff you told us,” Joey said. “That’s evidence. Circumstantial, yeah, but still a start. Did you get any of it a on a drive?”
Shay shook her head.
“Couldn’t be sure there didn’t have a way of tracking files which had been downloaded. I took enough risks just getting in and out of there each night.”
The light turned green and Shay continued driving.
“We need to catch him in the act,” I said. “He’s not the type to get his hands dirty, so maybe we hide a camera in his office.”
“No way,” Shay said. “His men are skilled and plentiful. They’d find the camera and track it back to us within a week.”
“I’ve got an idea,” Joey proclaimed. “We confront him directly, get him to monologue about his plans, and get it all on a tape recorder.”
Joey was really enthusiastic about his plan, a big grin on his face.
“Joey…” Shay started.
“I’ve got this,” I interrupted. What I wanted to say was “Joey this isn’t a fucking movie,” but I said something that wouldn’t make me sound like an ass instead. “Bro,” it hurt me just using that word. “Andrew is a business man. A good one too. He’s too sly to fall for something like that.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
Shay’s phone started ringing, her ring tone having been changed to a heavy metal song I didn’t recognize with the lyrics, And she died, and I cried, and the universe was fried. Fuck the galaxy, this was not her destiny!
Before answering the phone, Shay pulled a headset out of the glove compartment and plugged it into her phone. She’d shown it to me before, it being her method of disguising her voice.
“Hello Captain Troyan,” Shay said. “This is Panda.”
Shay put her pointer finger to her lips, telling us to be quiet, and she put Troyan on speaker.
“Hello Panda. I know you’ve had criticisms on how I run my precinct, but there is an enormous fire at the David Michael Memorial Apartment Building, and the fire department don’t think they’ll be able to get everything out. Please, I’m begging you to help.”
Criticisms huh? The asshole deserved more than that, the way he always kept the police from getting involved with super villains.
“No begging necessary, Captain. I’m on my way.”
Shay hung up and put her phone away.
“Buckle up boys,” she said. “That building’s pretty far from here, and I’ve got no problem speeding.”
And within five seconds, she went from going 20 mph to 80.
I dug it.