Phenomenal Cosmic Power
Checkmate 3.3

Sometimes, I just had to stay with Dinah all day. The odds worked better that way, for whatever reason, and I wasn't about to risk it. Today was one such day. Taylor had left my apartment with a lot to think about last time, so I was giving her a little space, and the Dallon sisters were coming to visit this evening.

I was a little anxious, actually. Vicky had taken me aside after that one day out. Turns out, she had figured out Lisa was an Undersider and had left me with an "I hope you know what you're doing." She apparently hadn't twigged on Taylor, though... but given how much Taylor's personality shifted when she put the mask on, maybe that wasn't so surprising.

"Hey!" I said, waving them in. "How've you two been?"

"Pretty good," Vicky said half-heartedly as they entered my apartment.

I quirked an eyebrow. Vicky was, I'd learned, an exhausting friend to have, and she was the passionate sort. Personally, I'd much rather surf the internet or read a good book in my free time... which I had precious little of these days, between befriending Taylor, plotting against Coil, patrolling, and trying to befriend Amy (who wasn't being very cooperative on that front, I might add). "Half-hearted" wasn't how I'd normally describe her approach to... well, anything, really.

"Something wrong?" I prodded.

Amy answered for her. "Carol's going to be heading out of town soon," she said. "Don't know when she'll be back."

I blinked. "Really?" I asked. "Why?" I couldn't recall anything like this in canon.

"Yeah," Vicky said. "Remember what you told us about Canary?" I nodded, and she continued, "Well, it kind of came up at home, so Mom did some digging, and now, she's on the warpath. She's been on the phone pretty much nonstop the last week, and she's volunteered to take Canary's case pro bono."

"'Pro bono'?" I asked with a frown. "I would think Canary could afford it."

"Pro bono," Vicky confirmed. "And yeah, she could, if they hadn't frozen her accounts."

"They froze her accounts?" I hadn't known that. And now I was starting to sound like a parrot.

"Yeah," Vicky said, her face twisting in disgust. "Most of her money came from her music, and she's under investigation for using her Master power to illegally boost sales. Which is bullshit, because they went ahead and moved forward with trying her on all the other charges while that investigation is still open."

I could see her point. How could you even begin to prove such an accusation in a court of law? And while the investigation remained open, the assets would remain frozen, preventing her from hiring the best legal representation she could actually afford.

"Anyway," Vicky continued, arms crossed, "with Mom out of town, Dad's going to need us at home more."

I blinked as I processed that. Oh. Yeah. Right. Clinical depression.

"I understand," I said with a nod. And I did. Family came first. Well, mostly. Unless the family you're talking about is your Nazi supervillain half-brother.

I considered the ramifications of this. I suppose it meant I'd be getting to know the Pelhams better. Leaning back, I mused aloud, "On the other hand, maybe we could visit Amy, instead? Help her out in the hospital? I mean, I do have a healing power, after all."

They stared at me.


"I'd forgotten about that power," Vicky admitted. She shook her head. "You sure you don't want to join New Wave? PHO's already half-convinced you're a long-lost sister as it is."



"You're an Alexandria package who can throw energy blasts, make energy constructs, and heal," Amy pointed out, a hint of weariness in her voice; I guess this must have been a popular topic. "That covers just about every power New Wave has except Carol's Breaker state and Vicky's aura. And arguably, your telepathy could be considered a variation of Vicky's aura."

"Some people are already calling you 'the Trump that ate New Wave,'" Dinah chimed in. "Ninety-eight percent chance that'll start trending nationwide if you publicly confirm your healing power. There weren't that many witnesses to when you healed me, no one recorded it, and you haven't used it since, so it's just rumor right now."


Just because I had to stay with Dinah all day didn't mean we had to stay in all day, though. We ended up heading out for dinner, some Italian restaurant on the boardwalk called San Giorgio. Vicky's suggestion. It was a bit high-end for my taste, but we did get a private booth. The food was pretty rich.

Probably the most pragmatic benefit of befriending Vicky was the line it gave me into the PRT's activities behind the scenes. Via Gallant, I suspected, but I didn't know for sure. Apparently, something had set the director off, and she'd started a massive security review of all ENE personnel, even before the fiasco with Shadow Stalker. And that had her doubling down hard, going through everyone's background with a fine-toothed comb.

Good. If Coil's moles in the PRT could be linked to Coil, they would no longer be useful to him. More, if they could be linked to Thomas Calvert, that would put his civilian identity under scrutiny he couldn't afford. He had to be feeling the pressure.

The situation with the gangs was decidedly grimmer. With Lung and Bakuda in custody, the ABB was vulnerable, and the city's cape scene was holding its collective breath. No one had made a move yet, but it was only a matter of time before someone - probably the Empire - tried to carve out a piece of ABB turf for themselves.

But as chatty as Vicky was, Amy remained quiet throughout the meal, resisting every effort I made to coax her into getting involved in the conversation. She seemed to resent me. Probably because of Vicky. For her part, Vicky just rolled her eyes and shook her head after my first couple of attempts to include Amy.

Dinah, on the other hand, looked far too amused for comfort. Finally, as we split the check, Dinah tugged on my sleeve and whined quietly, "I need to use the bathroom."

"Sure," I said as I sidled out of the booth.

As I moved to follow her, she stopped and glared at me. "I can go twenty feet by myself," she said.


"Oh, whoops!" Vicky said. I looked over and saw her with a dollop of marinara sauce on her shirt. "I'll go with her. I need to clean my shirt anyway."

I looked at Dinah, then to Vicky, then back to Dinah. Finally, I relented. "All right. Fine," I said, sitting back down.

After a few minutes, I frowned and looked at Amy. "We've been maneuvered, haven't we?"

"Yep," she agreed.

Were they trying to hook us up? Granted, technically, I did swing that way, and I knew Amy did, but it seemed kind of out of the blue.

"Listen, Callie," she said after another long moment, "I know you're trying to be nice, but don't bother. You don't stand a chance with her anyway; she's straight."

Wait, what?

It took me a moment to parse what she'd said, but when I did, I found myself staring at her. "You think I'm hitting on your sister?"

She rolled her eyes. "I'm not blind," she said. "I can tell you're attracted to her."

I snorted. "Who wouldn't be?" I immediately winced at my choice of words, despite how valid the question was. Blonde, buxom, energetic... none of those described my usual preferences, but the trifecta meant Vicky most definitely qualified for the Power Girl exception. I shook my head. "I mean, she has that aura of hers, after all. Anyway, no, I'm not trying to get in your sister's pants, and I'm not trying to butter her up by being nice to you. I just thought you could use a friend."

"Uh huh," she said skeptically. "Riiight."

"Amy," I said patiently, "I can't imagine the stress you must be under, but I think I have a pretty good idea."

"Then why did you volunteer to join me?" she retorted.

"A burden shared is a burden halved," I explained with a shrug, "and I've got a strong back."