Beep beep -Really, you’re one of those bitches that just leaves a dude hanging?-
The guy I’d stood up has been texting me these kinda lines for a couple of days. Honestly, they’ve erased any guilt I had for my rude move. Yeah, it was terrible of me to leave him at a restaurant with no explanation for my absence, but wasn’t texting me nasty names and harassing my inbox for days on end a little much?
Beep beep -Your little Speedster has figured out your plan for Tower Bridge. Need new instructions ASAP-
Okay well THAT text is a way bigger problem.
I was loving my new arrangement with LeAnne and her friends, or as I liked to refer to them, the Eights of Diamonds. Because there… were… eight of them. At least in the little squad that was helping me out. I didn’t inquire too much into the rest of their connections or organization or however they knew each other… them wanting to help me and be my kickass henchwomen for the time being in exchange for a percentage of our occasional spoils and my uncle’s scone recipe was good enough for me. I have a full time job, a full time cover life, and a mother that expects me to make it to Taco Tuesdays with her and my uncle, I don’t have time to lay charges 2am myself!
I sent a memo to my boss on my laptop that yes, the Peterson contract was written up and ready for the customer, then switched to my alter phone to be the boss for a minute:
To the dude: -hey, fuck off. Clearly this didn’t work out. Sorry and shut up.-
To Rory, one of my favorite in the Eights: -Alright, still got the equipment? Let’s keep the plan but move to Trafalgar Square. It won’t be as pretty, but has the same kinda pedestrian traffic. I’ll send you a new layout in a minute. Also, tell Frida I need her to make a house call, I’ll forward the lad’s number.-
It was becoming so routine: Wake up, workout, sign in to my real work, while simultaneously answering a few texts from the Eight, and a few fellow villainous gossipers, on a burner phone. Change from slacks into what I’d started to call my “regalia”, but what was really my constantly under-construction catsuit, and hit the town.
Literally. Hit the town. Last week we hit up a small government treasury building (where it turned out they were hiding some jewels! So pretty!) and although I really had planned on Conley stopping us, he only managed to wrangle about half of our plunder back from us before our escape. The week before that we destroyed a train station, and he did make sure there were no casualties, so that was his win. I thought that one was a classic that would make him look great- saving innocents from a runway train is so Wild West! Even if this time it was subway. The destroyed tracks did put the schedule off since though so… whoops.
And it only took like a couple glasses of wine and one or two muffins every single day to stuff down the concerns and small mental fractures that tried to reemerge. Which was fine, because the workouts I was having to do to keep fit enough to survive my encounters with Conley, not to mention the encounters themselves, burned off so much, I was basically a garbage disposal when it came to food. Beach bod? More like criminal’s abdominals.
So it was getting easier to clock out at work and clock into work. It was not getting easier to get across town in business hour traffic, so I needed to talk to the Eights what they thought about me getting a bigger place and making my home and my workspace the same spot somehow. Like Batman. Wow, it was just really nice to have someone to talk to about this kind of stuff.
Oof, that was a guilt punch in the stomach. I still needed to call Jacob back.
His voicemail from a few days ago had been so sweet, even if it was a bit… condescending? But he wouldn’t even know why it was.
“Hey hun, just calling to check in, you ran off rather pale an’ I want to make sure you’re alright. We got the kid back on his feet. Then off his feet witha couple pints to get him over the videos he was sore over. Though between you and me, I thought some’the dances quite catchy, hehha. Kill ya if you tell ‘im! I know it was a bit much for ya, but you did great. If I don’t hear from ya soon I’mma hunt ya down and take ya out for the night- we’re all too spun up these days. So just gimme a ring and let me know you’re alright, alright? Alright.”
Alright, Jacob. I couldn’t hear his voice right now. It would be filled with that countryside warmth that felt like soup in my soul and I need steel in my bones this evening. He’d want a genuine answer when he asked how I was. And, well, I’d already turned on my “Badass Bitch” playlist, so that would just throw me off. Instead, at a red light I sent him a text.
Hey J- Sorry I’ve been MIA. (Man I was apologizing a lot. Gotta stop that.) Been looking after my uncle after the fire w/ mom plus work stuff = been busy. Would love to get drinks soon with evbody. 2night maybe?
Two birds with one stone: answered a friend and made an alibi. If she was making plans for tonight, surely she couldn’t be the woman standing on Nelson’s Tower, a high beam of granite, threatening a hero across the square, right?
But she was. And here he comes, decked out in his new boots, too, isn’t that nice? I knew they were new because it was I that pointed out he needed a whole new concept after Mattis complained Conley’s run through just the inside of another set of kicks. When his order came in, we’d painted them a metallic steal, so when he ran it looked like steam coming off the asphalt. Even from across the square, I was proud of our work.
In the midst of the dusk, he looked radiant against the sunset. I’d given a small leak to a Twitter conspirator, and that’s all it took to bring the cameras running- I hoped the press was catching him against the rusting glow.
Still, I struck at him with my needled spear-gun.
“Let’s see you hustle, steam-boy!” I called out, “You’re fast, but are you clever?!” I teased, pulling the strings on several charges left throughout the square. As they went off, a little relief went through me, the Eight had setup just as instructed, and these explosions were beautiful.
He did so well! Dashing across the space to save both patron and press. I had to remind myself to be proud later, there was still work to be done.
“You’re no queen!” He chocked through the smoke as he sped a civilian to safety, “You’re just a fool!”
Okay, ‘You’re just a jester’ would have been a much better line, but Conley had never really paid attention during our English classes. Note to self: casually encourage a book club.
He bolted like lightening across the space, bounced atop the Art Gallery’s dome- lunging for me.
If I’d been another villain, perhaps I’d been caught in this frozen moment. But I’d helped him train. I knew his timing. I knew to dodge before I saw him.
So I let go of the small wire that had been holding me aloft.
I saw his eyes widen. In fear for me? In fury that I’d slipped away? These are the problems with adoring your enemy. You kinda want them to like you.
In the dark, Vivi bungeed from a nearby art fixture, grabbing me mid-air and like a city-struck Tarzan, swooped me into the shade of one of the buildings.
“‘Steam-boy’. I liked that, Diamond. Classic emasculation.”
“Thank you, Vivi,” I took a deep breath, pretending that a fall from 169 feet was totally cool and no big deal, “And he went with ‘fool’ he’s gotta step up his game.”
But speaking of fools…
Oh my god. So much light. Too much light.
Somewhere, a bell was ringing.
No. No, I was ringing?
My ears, my ears were ringing.
“Dimond, get DOWN!”
Blackness. Then Vivi’s hazel eyes.
“We have to get out of here.”
Another? No, that wasn’t.. oh the darkness was coming back.
“Vivi, my suit collar, there’s a… a purple button… hit… hit”‘
“Hit the purple button?”
Oh black and blue swirlies were so very inviting and so warm…
“Diamond, please I swear to god don’t die, Almighty Bastet please bless her, here we go-“
The naloxone released quickly from the tube inside my collar.
As I breathed the gas in deeply, I prayed to whoever was listening, that this would work.
The deep blackness was covering over me.
And then, stars.
Oh- oh wait. Those were actual stars. My eyes were open! AW SHIT MY EYES WERE OPEN.
“Oh my gods, you’re alive.”
I sat up, too quickly. Stars again, but I spit them out. “Vivi, who the fuck hit me?!”
“There’s a lout up there top strutting in front of the cameras,” she gestured towards the open hole above us. We were in a green-brown darkness, and it stunk. I realized Vivi had pulled us into the sewers beneath the square.
“He’s not trying to capture me?”
“Nah, he came out of nowhere and popped you out of my grasp. Then just as you were getting your footing he popped you again into the shadows of that damn rooster statue thing. I took the chance to pull you down here. He’s still up there crowing in front of the press.”
“Sir Steam?” I was still trying to wrap my slowly-swelling head around it.
“Nooo, no some other fella, in all blue. Too shiny if you ask me. All pomp.”
I started to stand out of the muck, “Can’t have that, let’s go.”
She grabbed my arm, “Diamond! Your face is already changing colors! I can’t rightly let you go out like that.”
I patted her hand, “I’ve got a couple more minutes of this drug in my veins. Just call LeAnne, tell her to give me three minutes, then get me out, okay?”
She gave me a very motherly look for a second, shook her face free of it, and then nodded, “Three minutes, then its all troops on deck.”
“It’s a deal.”
I pulled myself slowly out of the drain, still crouching in the shadows of first evening. Sure enough, as Vivi said, there was a broad figure in some royal blue spandex parading himself in front of a semicircle of press. Royal blue. So overused these days. I was mad already.
“This so-called Queen of Diamonds needs to know there’s no crown for her here!” The reporters laughed obnoxiously at the hero’s stupid joke, “My buddy Sir Steam was doing a great job putting out her smaller tantrums, but now that she seems to want to play with the big boys, I’m here to help out.” He put an arm around Conley’s neck and pulled him close.
Mmmm nope. That wouldn’t do at all.
The hairs on my neck and arms stood up, as if the night was much cooler than it had been a minute ago. I had never even danced with Mary Jane, and here I was now putting my life in the hands of EMT level drug, so that was fun. My shock-induced self wanted to examine the science of it. But the villain in me reeeeeally needed to put this douche in his place.
Oh good, I still had my poison-dart gun. I pulled it from my thigh strap. Aimed it, cursed my arm for shaking, aimed it again.
“I think the thing these young heroes are missing is- OW!”
The Royal Blue Douche turned in my direction, forcing Conley, who was still under his arm to do the same. Aw shit, was that the slow acting poison?
The press was not pleased: “AHHH SHE’S STILL HERE!” Cue the running and hiding.
Okay, I was not that scary. In fact, I worked very hard to make my ensemble aesthetically pleasing. So, ya know, rude.
I focused on the approaching hero. Ah okay, so he was much closer than I thought. Maybe planning while still in shock wasn’t a great idea.
Stand up or gadget to higher spot? Stand up or gadget to higher spot?! My eyes un-blurred for a second and I got a good look at how big Royal Blue Douche was. Oh yeah, going up. I rock climbed back up the National Gallery wall while calling in LeAnne.
“Hey I need an exit.”
Her reply came in quick: “No exit plans for druggies.”
I rolled my eyes, “Oh shut up, I’m not going in like Uncle Julian used to. I needed to LIVE, LeAnne.”
Only static came back in my earpiece.
“LEANNE. You gonna hang me out to dry because I wanted to survive?!”
“I promised your uncle no drugs.”
I stopped halfway up the dome, even knowing that there was definitely a genetically enhanced superhuman on my tail, maybe two. “I’m sorry, you told Uncle Julian how much about what?”
“No, no I didn’t tell him anything, just that I was looking after you, and that there were no drugs.”
“LEANNE I’MMA SWAT YOU. I’M ON THE TOP OF A FUCKING BUILDING YOU GET ME AN EXIT PLAN RIGHT THE HELL NOW AND WE WILL DISCUSS THIS AT A LATER DATE.”
“FINE. I’m reading it out now- He just goes by The Executive.”
“Gross.” I kept climbing. There were defiantly large rocks being thrown at my head. Did he mind not ruining the building? Heroes were weird.
“Mostly strength, some earth-compatible components.”
“I NOTICED!” I said as I dodged another onslaught of asphalt hail, “An exit strategy, LeAnne, an EXIT!”
“Well why did you even re-enter?!”
“Because he was mocking Conley!”
“Who the hell is Conley!?”
Oh, that’s right. The one secret I hadn’t, couldn’t share with the Eight.
“A, um, a reporter, that I leak my stuff to.”
“Girl, you gotta get your emotions under control. Listen, I’ve got something cooking now- keep heading that direction. Dianna has a mirrored flyaway net, you’re gonna jump towards it, it’s gonna look like you just disappear, then y’all will shed your outfits, and back here on backroads.”
“Fine, fine,” I launched another needled arrow at the Royal Blue Dou- The Executive, hitting him square in the chest. He barely flinched. Sir Steam came up on his left and I shot one at him too, on his right calf, and it took him down.
“DIAMOND THREE,” I heard Dianna call. That was my warning. I moved quickly in that direction, with The Executive growling obscenities closely behind me.
“DIAMOND TWO,” Get to the spot, get to the spot, The Executive’s speed didn’t matter much, because he was so strong he could launch himself off the roof and was gaining yards on me pretty quickly.
“DIAMOND ONE- GO!” Dianna called, and with every last bit of shivering energy left in my body, I threw myself off the building with the faith that her net would catch me, turning to shoot off one last flame into the night sky.
Because diamonds shine.
“I can’t answer it.”
LeAnne leaned against Uncle Julian’s counter giving me a low-lidded look, “So another voicemail will be easier to handle?”
I glared at her, and she winked at me, deliberately pouring more Pinot Noir into my glass while Vivi sewed my left temple back together.
“You’ve got one more ring, my sweet,” she purred.
“I can see,” I carefully sipped from the glass, “why Uncle Julien loved you so.”
I started to lift the the phone to my ear, but even that hurt my shoulder and I hissed.
“We’re just gonna ask anyway, might as well,” Rory reached over to the phone for the speaker button.
“Jesus. I texted you back. And then aga’n, and aga’n! Got me worried after what went down at the sqaure- did you see?!”
“Yes, yes I saw.”
“Conley’s been off his rockers. He’s asking for ya. And I need ya, doll. I can’na handle him with out you. This new hero has him in knots. The Executive Asshole. And you had me in knots. I thought maybe the Queen had killed you with her damn fireworks. I’m sorry if I was too much the other nigh’, if I was- “
“No, Jacob, you were fine. I just needed air, it was,” I looked up at LeAnne, expecting her to just nod, but instead she raised her brows at me, “Look, can we get that drink sometime soon? I do need it like you said.”
“Yeah! I’m heading over to Mattis’s now with some bottles. Conley is getting debriefed with some fancy ass heroes ‘parently an’ then is headed there too. Meet me there?”
The ladies around me all rolled their eyes, “Men.” LeAnne mouthed.
“Well, I guess- OW!”
Vivi tugged her thread a little unnecessarily tight to remind me I was in no shape to see anyone tonight…
“Hey you alright there?”
“Yeah,” I gritted out, “I um, it’s not a great time tonight, J. I uh-“
In unison all the women began pointing at their uterus. Blessedly Vivi did not follow suit, or I may have lost an eyebrow. I quickly made the cut it out motion across my throat. I would NOT use such a cliche’ lie with such a good friend.
“-I’ve got a text from Uncle Julien. He and mom are starting to fuss being cooped up with each other. I’ll check in on them and then head over, alright?”
I received some approving head nods from the Eight and a “Sounds like a plan, hun.” from Jacob.
“That’s one gentleman taken care of,” I said to our small crowd, “now what are we going to do about this new guy? Where they hell did he come from?
“Looks like he’s one of the bigger guns,” Gertrude called from the couch where she’d been typing away on her laptop, “He’s got a bit of a history.” She turned the laptop towards us so we could see the multiple articles blasting titles the likes of: ‘The Executive Does It Again!’ ‘The Executive takes Down the Howling Hoods!!’ ‘City Makes The Executive Honory Major!’
“Well shit,” I spat, hoping they couldn’t hear the small vein of fear in my voice. Seeing the face that had gotten so close to obliterating my own beaming and championed across site after site was just… mildly unnerving. “Why has he shown up here to play with me?”
“I believe, my young Queen,” LeAnne patted my shoulder and smirked slightly, “the world is noticing just how good you are at being bad.”
Abscond (verb): Leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection of or arrest for an unlawful action such as theft.
Ya know? I just enjoying writing the Queen of Diamonds! Even if she is going through some turmoil- maybe especially because she is. She has so many roads she could take, and several directions she’s being pulled in, with lots of influencers around her.
But at least it’s nice to have your talents noticed, right? 😉
I’m kind of learning her as I go, and I think that’s part of why she’s so fun to write. She wants to keep with her original motivations, but then new stakes and new temptations are arising. Haven’t we all experienced that occasionally? Sure, we’re not firing off laser guns to get it done (…hopefully) but I think we’ve all started a race with one finish line, and halfway through, realized the goal we want now is over a different hill.
Those are my rambling thoughts for the day with my little villain royalty. Happy racing, happy reading!