Chapter 2

“Are you sure you don’t want to be in your armor? I think it’s a little dangerous of you to meet someone like Lilith without it.” Janice said, and Chris rolled his eyes, looking at his girlfriend with a wry smile. She was wearing her suit for when she was out performing heroics, so he supposed he should refer to her as Nightsinger, but he couldn’t quite manage it anymore.

“If someone with access to Shadowmind’s AI wanted to kill me, they’d kill me and be done with it. I’ll remind you that I’ve always been a relatively small fish compared to the big players. Heck, my successes against your team were always due to me knowing not to let you hit me, as well as running away when I was outmatched.” Chris pointed out, adjusting his shirt slightly and nodding in satisfaction. “If she’s inclined to attack me directly, you’ll be able to beat her. If she isn’t attacking me, it won’t matter either way.”

“Relying on me to rescue you again?” Janice asked, arching an eyebrow at him skeptically. “I thought the guy was the one who was supposed to do that, not the girl.”

“Maybe, but you can snap this guy like a twig.” Chris retorted, grinning at her, then admitted. “Besides, I really doubt she’ll do anything to me. She just barely got pardoned, and do you really think she wants another death sentence?”

“No, not really.” Janiced admitted, a frown flickering across her face. “All of the things we’ve heard, though… I don’t know what to think about her. Sure, what you mentioned she’s approaching you for sounds reasonable, but I’m still uneasy.”

Chris nodded, his smile fading slightly as he considered Lilith and the last six months, then shrugged.

“You aren’t wrong.” He admitted, a little concern washing through him, which he quickly suppressed. “Still, if she’s being on the level, this could do a good job in helping my reputation. There are a lot of people who don’t like my choice to go legit.”

Janice hesitated, opening her mouth, then shut it and nodded, speaking softly. “True. Just don’t fall for her, hm?”

Amusement rushed through Chris at that, and he laughed, retorting again. “I’m more concerned about her stealing you. Remember, she’s in a relationship with two women!”

Janice’s worry turned to annoyance in an instant, and Chris didn’t manage to duck in time as she swatted the back of his head.

“You take that back!” Janice demanded angrily, while Chris couldn’t suppress his chortling.


The door to the warehouse’s office space swung open silently, Lilith noticed, and she saw a couple of signs that it had been recently replaced, mostly because it didn’t have a faint dusting of dried salt on the walls like the rest of the building. It was also rather thick, making her think the change had been for security reasons.

“Right this way! The boss should be in his office with Nightsinger.” George said cheerfully, holding the door open for Lilith, and she stepped through, glancing around the office.

“Thank you.” Lilith said, examining the desk in the front closely, then everything else. It looked like it’d been recently remodeled, so she added. “You haven’t been attacked, have you? It looks like the door and everything in here has been replaced.”

“Attacked? Oh, no, of course not. Sure, it’s a possibility, but we haven’t had anything like that.” George quickly corrected, a lopsided smile on his face. “We did remodel, though. The old office wasn’t as secure, and was designed not to draw suspicion. Now we can use all the boss’s tech in the office, so… why not, right? I doubt the security here is up to the standards of your house, but it’s pretty solid.”

“Fair. I doubt anyone designed the warehouse to survive a nuclear strike.” Lilith replied dryly. “Circe can be a touch paranoid at times.”

“It isn’t paranoia. It’s called planning, after all the trouble you’ve managed to get into over the past year.” Circe interjected in a primly proper tone.

George whistled, closing the door and heading toward the back as he spoke, obviously unaware of Circe’s comment. “A nuke? Well, that’d take some tech to stop, yeah… I can hardly imagine the engineering that went into it. Anyway, I’d love to chat more, but we’re here, and I’ve got to make sure the factory’s ready for your visit.”

The man knocked on a door at the end of the hallway and called out. “Your guest is here, boss! You decent in there?”

“Decent is a relative term with him.” A woman said sharply. “If you’re asking if she can come in, the answer is yes.”

Laughing, George opened the door and nodded to Lilith, grinning as he said. “See you in a bit! Don’t worry, the boss doesn’t bite.”

“I didn’t think he would. I’ll see you soon, George.” Lilith replied politely, nodding to him, then stepped through the door into the modern but sterile-looking office. It didn’t seem like the sort of place where anyone spent much time, which helped her focus on the two people in the office.

To the left of the desk was Nightsinger, and Lilith examined her curiously. The heroine had wavy brown hair pulled back in a pony tail, a half-mask that revealed hazel eyes, and a beautiful face. Her athletic but full figure was also shown off by the black catsuit she wore, though Lilith could tell there were strategically placed armor plates in it, showing that the heroine wasn’t relying purely on her superhuman toughness. She also had her arms folded in front of her, which made Lilith suspect the heroine didn’t trust her.

Whispering Darkness was behind the desk, and he was dramatically different from Nightsinger, as he wasn’t in his villain outfit, slightly to Lilith’s surprise. He wore slacks and a light blue button-down shirt, while he looked relatively normal, if slightly on the tall, thin side for most men she’d seen. He had short, sandy blond hair, and behind a set of rectangular glasses were blue eyes. He was almost startlingly normal, which made Lilith smile a little more, especially since he didn’t seem as guarded as Nightsinger.

“Hello Nightsinger, Whispering Darkness. It’s a pleasure to meet each of you.” Lilith said politely, inclining her head to them as she closed the door behind her. “As I’m sure you and most of the planet are aware at this point, I’m Lilith Carpenter.”

That prompted a wry grin from Whispering Darkness, and Nightsinger blinked at Lilith.

“True, just about everyone does know that.” Nightsinger said, her tone slightly biting. “That being the case, you’re not going to try to get my boyfriend in trouble again, are you? It’s hard enough for him to fix his reputation as it is.”That wasn’t the best way for things to start, Lilith reflected.

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