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Heroes World: Book 3 - Armistice (Chapter 7)

Aiden meets the Patriot's
Billy isn't one to dwell on the past, but training a protégé of sorts has her thinking. Her life has changed a lot in recent years. When she thought her mentor dead, she was on her own. Those days were simple but fun to her. Her meager way of life then is far different from today. Being the head of security for a multi-million dollar company has its perks. Flying a luxury sky-car was a dream back then, but now...

"Wow." Aiden says, his skin crawling with excitement.

Aiden takes a sloppy left turn still getting use to the handling of their new sky-car. The 2058 Jaguar F-type is a monster of a machine. Billy figured the duo could travel in style, a small reward for Aiden's hard work.

"Don't piss yourself." Billy says jokingly.
The young man grins white knuckling the steering wheel. Wanting to push the sky-car to its limits he decided to exit the safer but boring sky-lanes for the older road highways.

"I gotta say boss, I'm enjoying the perks of this Hero thing." Aiden says taking a hard right, revving the engines.
"Just get us there safely." She responds with a smile.

Today the duo is traversing the back roads of upstate New York. They are traveling to see some of Billy's friends and to continue Aiden's training. She is pleased that her trainee seems to be enjoying himself. She wonders if she was once the same way. It feels weird for her to be in this position, being the teacher instead of the student. Even more, it is strange for her to be spying on her former teacher.

Avery, I hope you're not doing what I think you are.

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Holding a small data-pad Billy thumbs through holo-files of Gresham's allocation documents. Normally Billy would be digging through financials and intel on a major crime lord, black market trafficker or brutal 'juiced-up' killer, but not today. Today she is investigating someone very close to her.

She doesn't know for sure if Avery is doing anything wrong. Just because they haven't spoken in weeks doesn't mean he is up to something bad. Right now it's just more of a hunch.

Its probably nothing ... she tells herself a moment before a bell chimes as a file finishes downloading.

Some data populates, springing up additional holo-screens. She compares them with the travel itineraries of Lennox's campaign tour.

She closes a tab of Lennox speaking at a rally in Delaware yesterday, however she knows that it was not the real Noah Lennox talking. James Heller has gotten comfortable in his role of impersonating Noah, adding little flares of his own personality to the Senator.

The fact that Avery needed James to step in for the Noah Lennox role isn't strange. That was their goal all the while; let someone else be the spokesperson 'Noah Lennox' while Avery and Billy suited up and discreetly dealt with the criminal elite. But what is strange is one of Lennox's upcoming destinations.

Next week the Vice President-elect will meet with some foreign dignitaries from China. One of which is a person with some unsavory ties. Sammo Hung is a former ambassador of the Kowloon region, a man that lost his position because of his connection with the Triads. Again, a dirty politician is not something strange or shocking. But when Billy received a billing notification for a large transaction, she had to take note.

Viitaz Core was a shell corporation out of the northern Kowloon region. The company was a front for the Chinese Triads, or more specifically Lord Yaozu's Triads.

The company was almost shut down when Interpol realized of its connection with Yaozu, but now the Viitaz Core seems to be thriving. Gresham-Belmont purchased a large share the company, and to Billy's surprise she sees that Noah Lennox orchestrated the deal. Furthermore he will meet with this crooked ambassador.

Avery what are you doing meeting with the Triads?

"Looks like we are here." Aiden says breaking Billy's deep thought.
They drive off the highway and down a low dirt road. Billy closes her data-pad putting her investigation on hold.

She doesn't know what Avery is up to, but she will find out.

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The young Hero in training steps out of the sky-car and is unimpressed by what he sees. The Jahn's estate is the home of the iconic Patriots and it is far from lavish. The area looks unkempt; tall grass, foggy windows shrouded in foliage. Aiden can't hide his disappointment.
"Don't be fooled by its looks. Its meant to be serviceable... not fashionable." KS says leading the way with Ratchet floating not far behind.

The two heroes have come the Jahn's estate to extend Aiden's training. Here he will receive the best instruction on combating powered deviants.

"Kid Supreme." The monotone voice of Azimuth says meeting the Heroes outside the front door of the estate. The Patriot's doctor greets Billy with an awkward hug.

"I like the new look." Billy says taking a step back.

Since most of her body is pure energy, Azimuth's physical form can look unnerving. In the past she donned an uncanny latex-like skin over her body. However today a softer more natural shell has been adapted to her. Despite the improvements, Aiden is still caught off guard. He tries not to stare, not wanting to be rude.

"Yes, most people are pleased with my new outfit, thanks to your company Gresham-Bellmont." Azimuth responds inviting her guest inside.

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Azimuth gives the duo a small tour of the estate, flatly retelling this place's long history. Aiden follows along finding it all interesting. The lives of these 'masked' heroes are something that still mystifies him. At times he is amazed how Billy can do this. He is furthered awestruck when they reach the trophy room.

Large holo-banners display each of the Heroes, present and past. The original Ms. Colossal stands besides Kronos and Quick Shot.

"Those three started a movement. During turbulent times they courageously took the law into their hands." Billy says with a proud smile.

Fallen comrades are displayed on the opposite wall, heroes like Shadow Star and Ballistik. Azimuth says a few respectful words in their remembrance. Aiden is moved by everything he sees and hears. Seeing the images of these people, hearing tales of their bravery and self-sacrifice inspires him.

"We're not all dead and gone." A voice from behind says. The three turn to see the other members of the Patriots have arrived.
"There is still plenty of us around so don't get all teary eyed." Their leader Jess D says with a grin.

The current lineup of the Patriots enter the room, greeting their visitors. Aiden finally comes face to face with Jess D, Argus, Arrancar, FlashVolt and Claymore.
The room fills with small talk as the Cadet's size up the new kid. But everyone pauses when Billy approaches Jess D.

The two women stoically stare at one another in a tense mood. The last time they saw each other wasn't on the best of terms.

"Billy." Jess D mutters with scorn.
"Ms. Colossal." Billy replies in like manner. She tries to be serious, keeping up their inside joke.
Jess chuckles breaking the mood reaching out to embrace her. Billy laughs also allowing everyone to breathe easy. These two could never stay mad at each other for long.

"So this is the recruit?" Jess D asks once she lays eyes on Aiden. "He's younger than I thought. He does look like Campbell...except for the drug dealing." She adds with a smile.
Aiden frowns in frustration, knowing that this is only the beginning of his harmless hazing by these Heroes.

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"You'll love the Gulag, the sims are waay swag!" FlashVolt says referring to the teams training room.

Arrancar is quick to correct her. "Actually... the Gulag's training droids have a sophisticated algorithm matrix for replicating dangerous combat scenarios." He adds.

"That means the robots learn your moves." Argus butts in; giving Aiden a glimpse into the group's dynamics.
The younger Patriot's are all too eager to show Aiden the ropes, instantly accepting him. The group stands in the kitchen area catching up.

"I see the Cadet's have grown."
"Oh...they aren't Cadet's anymore. I graduated them; it was time they earn their stripes." Jess proudly says. Billy chuckles.

"We just got back from Iceland...helping out with refugee efforts."
Jess mentions changing the tone of the conversation. Both heroines recall what happened in Iceland. Alina Veselov, the daughter of Terminus almost destroyed the small country. Over half of the Nordic island nation is underwater, leaving thousands without a home.

"All that time we thought Terminus was the threat...but it was his kid."
"That's part of the reason we are hear. We lost track of her after Mexico, but there have been multiple sightings. Seems she is on the move. I was wondering... are you up for a manhunt?" Billy asks.
Jess D nods having planned to do something similar. She knew that Alina Veselov needed to be found and arrested. "Great minds think alike huh."

"Hey...where's the big guy?" Billy asks just now noticing that the Patriot's leader Kronos is not here.
Jess's shoulder's droop, not wanting to talk about it.

"He's.... taking some time off. Left me holding the bag."

Billy is surprised; Kronos was never one to quit. He was the shining example to everyone, a die-hard champion of justice. She thinks of how Avery has done the same to her, leaving her to continue the fight. It was only a couple months ago that Billy was again working with her former teacher. But now she has a student of her own.

"I guess it's the next generation turn. Wow...times have changed..." Billy mutters.

"Looks like we are the leaders of the new school." Jess says throwing an arm around Billy's neck.

"....and our first act will be catching Alina. But my... student isn't ready, he still needs some work." Billy says observing the young Heroes.

"Don't worry...Argus would love to train him." Jess says volunteering him.

"Hey!" Claymore finally speaks up, having overhead the women's conversation. "Y'all aren't going to leave me here with these brats!" He yelps upsetting the younger heroes.

The group laugh finally having a moment of peace, they are unaware that the peace will not last long.

Arrancar turns his attention to one of his data-mechs as it hovers in. It reports on some breaking news, news that will affect all the heroes. Everyone's mood sombers a little as Arrancar checks the message.

A holo-screen pops up from his armband CPU. He reads it with a look of horror.

"Its... Curtis....something happened to Draekon."
By
Published: 12/17/2016
Bouquets and Brickbats
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