Lovebug let out an unhappy mumble as she rolled away from the noise, grabbing a pillow to pull over her ears as she did.
Amy blinked, not quite believing what she just saw. "Hey. HEY! You don't get to just ignore me!" She realized she wasn't being rational, but after all the sleep she'd lost over the past week, she didn't have a lot of patience, particularly since the source of so many of her worries was right in front of her.
"How about I field your questions for now, Amy? Or do you prefer Panacea?"
Amy turned and glared at the blond, though her glare lessened as she saw her face. No longer hidden by her hair, the streaks of blood from her eyes and nose were obvious, and she could see one that must have come from her ear run down all the way to the collar of her scrubs.
The blond, Tattletale, Amy recalled, raised an eyebrow.
"Why don't you start talking, and I'll go wash my face. I owe you for the whole 'saving-me-from-a-stupidly-lethal-disease', and I figure that's worth at least a few answers."
Matching actions to words, Tattletale got up and ducked into the tiny bathroom. Amy could hear the water running as she tried to get everything straight in her head.
"Start with the obvious ones and work your way out from there. It's not like we can leave until you give us the all-clear in here anyhow." Tattletale's voice came from the bathroom, and she followed it out, wiping her hands and face with a towel that she threw in the garbage on her way back to her chair.
"Um, ok, how about why bank robbing? Aside from being cliche, isn't it not worth it? How much cash can they possibly have on site?" Amy threw out the question as she started thinking about what she wanted to know.
Tattletale shrugged. "My cut was over 25 grand for less than an hour's work, plus about three days prep time. NEPEA-5 makes it hard to find legitimate work, and I'd rather take federally insured money than pickpocket from random people on the street. Which is what I was doing before I joined the Undersiders."
Amy gave an absent nod as she thought about what to ask next. She opened her mouth and then paused, staring straight at the blond. Tattletale raised an eyebrow and twisted her mouth into a sardonic grin.
"You're distracting me! AGAIN! I don't care about your life's story, I want answers! From YOU!" As she raised her voice, Amy strode over to the bed and yanked the pillow away from Lovebug. The brunette tried to curl into a ball, but Amy was having none of it. She dragged the girl up so she was sitting on the bed.
"I've been having NIGHTMARES about being carried off and made into some sort of villain pleasure slave for a WEEK! I don't care how you feel! You're not even hurting anymore, I fixed everything! So TALK!"
Lovebug moaned and dropper her face into her hands as Tattletale snickered from behind Amy. The healer was about to turn and shout at the obnoxious blond when Lovebug threw herself back onto the bed.
"I was just trying to distract you! I didn't want to deal with Glory Girl flying to the rescue! None of us have anything that could so much as muss her hair! And my dad always made us watch old movies, and the name thing popped into my head, andIwasntflirting!"
The bug villainess kept talking faster and faster, until the last few words shot out of her mouth as one jumbled mess, her face warming to a rosy hue.
"What." The flat 'what' is an understated skill. Properly used, it can not only hint at terrifying menace, but also destroy any resolve in a target. And while Amy Dallon was not yet a master, she did have a superb natural talent.
She advanced on the hapless Lovebug, filled with righteous anger. "Are you telling me that you managed to cost me a week's sleep, mess up my family dynamic, and make me question my sexuality as. A. Distraction?" At this point, Amy was straddling the lanky brunette, gripping her shirt in her white-knuckled fists, her face only inches away from the blood-encrusted blush on Lovebug's.
The girl below her peered through slitted eyelids as she tried to flinch back, and nodded. Amy growled, but before she could do any more, she was interrupted by a wolf-whistle. She turned back to Tattletale, murder in her eyes, only to realize the blond was doing everything in her power not to fall out of her chair laughing!
"Now THIS is a show! *gasp* I wish I *giggle* had popcorn to go with it! *snort* No, don't stop! *giggle* I wish I *gasp* had a handful of singles!"
Puzzled, Amy turned back, only to find herself literally nose-to-nose with a suddenly pale Lovebug. She stared into her wide, grey eyes for a moment, before letting out a squawk and pushing herself away. This, of course, resulted in Amy falling off the bed, and hitting the floor with a thump, as Lovebug was pushed further into the thin mattress.
"Ow." both Lovebug and Amy spoke simultaneously, causing Amy to look up at the bed with a glare.
"Before you murder my partner in undoubtedly horrific ways, you may want to consider two things."
Amy turned her glare towards the obnoxious blond. "And what would that be?"
"First, your moment of oversharing aside, isn't it better that you didn't get caught in the middle of a massive cape battle that had the potential to not only wreck the bank, but only had to deal with being mildly embarrassed and trapped in an office for ten minutes? Would you really have preferred your sister, who has a well deserved reputation for, shall we say, collateral damage? show up and possibly bring the whole building down?"
Amy's glare lost a degree of heat. "She threatened everyone in the bank with lethal poison."
"No I didn't." Came a voice from the bed.
"I am an expert on poisons, as well as infectious diseases, and I'm absolutely certain that black widow venom is lethal." Amy replied dryly.
"I milked them beforehand. I wanted a credible threat, but no accidents."
Amy's jaw dropped. "You can't milk spiders for venom! That's impossible!"
The blond chimed in. "Powers are bullshit. Are you ready for the second thing?"
"The-what-just go ahead." Amy felt the beginnings of a headache building.
"Her name is Cicada, not Lovebug. Ask Clockblocker if you don't believe me."
"...what does that have to do with anything?"
The obnoxious blond with the obnoxious grin gave a very obnoxious shrug. "Not much, you were just using the wrong name, and I felt it important you know better."
Standing up, the blond pulled Cicada off of the bed, and pushed her toward the washroom before extending her hand to Amy. Amy gave her a long look, before taking the offered hand and pulling herself up. She kept her grip for a long moment, trying to unnerve the girl, but her green eyes never even twitched. Amy let go and stepped away, wrapping her arms around herself.
"Sorry for giving you a hard time. I really was hoping we'd manage to get done before you realized who we were. Stressing you out, while entertaining, isn't on my to-do list."
"Fuck off." Amy admitted her retort wasn't all that great, but she was tired.
"We will, as soon as you lift the quarantine. And we owe you one. Not for the healing, call it a marker to even the scales."
"Fine, turn yourselves in."
Amy could actually HEAR the smirk in the annoying blond's voice. "Not that big a marker. And while you may not want a villain to owe you one, consider it a favor owed by a pair of girls who just happen to be parahuman."
"Whatever. I'm clearing you. Just go." Amy was too tired to deal with this crap. Loveb-no, Cicada scooted past her to the door with a whispered "sorry" as the intercom crackled to life.
"Panacea, if you're done in there, Armsmaster is here and wants to speak with your patients."
Turning towards the blond with a victorious grin, Amy snarked "I guess you're turning yourselves in anyhow."
The grin was matched with a vulpine one. "Care to make a wager?"
Amy staggered into the hallway where she'd left her sister, only to see Victoria standing there, staring at the wall blankly.
"Vicky, are you ok?"
Her sister snapped out of it and looked at her. "I was, I, Aunt Sarah showed up."
Amy paled, the talks over the past week going through her head.
"She, I, I panicked and asked about her being the queen of the Azores."
Amy covered her mouth, terrified of what her aunt said.
"She didn't know what I was talking about. I kept explaining, and, and..."
Vicky stopped, and resumed her staring off into space.
"I didn't know dad was a prankster. Apparently, before his depression really set in, he was constantly pulling practical jokes."
Amy's jaw dropped. Words completely failed her.
"And we can't even be mad at him, since this is a really good sign for him fighting his depression. Having the motivation to get Crystal involved, and spin out the whole story to mess with us took more effort than almost anything else he's started this year. Aunt Sarah woke Crystal, and there's at least three weeks worth of stories and plans. She pulled in Eric, and dad even faked a tourism web-page."
Amy held her hands up.
"Nope. Not dealing. My brain is officially shut down. Home, sleep, deal with it in the morning."
Cicada and Tattletale walked into the re-purposed conference room to see the hulking form of Armsmaster standing there. Cicada was nervous, but Tattletale's whispered instructions to stay quiet and let her do the talking helped. The thinker was good at talking, so this should be easy for her, right?
"Lovebug, Tattletale, please sit down." Armsmaster's voice caused a flare of resentment with Taylor as she thought back to their previous two interactions, not helped by the smugness she could hear.
"Actually, Armsy, it's Cicada and Tattletale, but thanks anyway." Tattletale slid into one of the chairs as Cicada tentatively sat down, not loving the direction this was going.
Before Armsmaster could retort, Tattletale continued.
"We are both really tired, what with the nearly dying twice and the late hour and all, is there any way we could do this tomorrow? Y'know, saunter over to PRT HQ after some brunch and give our statement then?"
Cicada stared at Tattletale with wide eyes, shocked at her friend's tone.
Armsmaster suppressed a grimace. "As you're both under arrest right now, no, that won't be possible."
He looked as though he was about to continue when Tattletale interrupted.
"Well, in that case, I guess I'll have to tell you everything."
And she did. Starting with confessing that they were members of the criminal gang The Undersiders, and following with details of the bank job, the jewelery store robbery, the ambush of the Wards, and the encounter with Bakuda and the ABB. She left nothing out, aside from personal identities and what they'd talked about with Panacea earlier.
Throughout the entire talk, Cicada kept quiet, thanks to Tattletale's grip on her leg that tightened every time she was about to interrupt, but kept growing paler and paler. This was quite obvious, since her costume had been confiscated and incinerated, leaving her in scrubs and a domino mask.
Armsmaster looked very satisfied when Tattletale concluded, and busied himself checking that his recording gear had worked. Naturally, it had.
"That was an unexpected pleasure to hear. Now, if that's everything-"
"Actually, there are three more things. First, I called my lawyer before the Hazmat team showed up. Since I knew the PRT would stonewall them, he met with representatives of the military and three-letter agencies to fill them in as to what happened tonight. We have a bet as to whether anyone brings up the Presidential Medal of Freedom after hearing about tonight, but I doubt we'll actually get it. Second, I am the older of the two of us at 16, and third, and lastly, Hazmat didn't arrest us, they transported us, which means no-one read us our Miranda Rights."
With those words Tattletale leaned back with her hands behind her head, her vulpine grin fixed mockingly across her face. Armsmaster, on the other hand, looked like he'd eaten a whole tree full of lemons, skins and all.
"I believe that makes this entire interview fruit of a poisonous tree. Not to mention the legal troubles you could have from detaining a pair of minors without allowing us access to council or notifying our guardians."
Forcibly relaxing his jaw, Armsmaster spoke.
"Fine. You're not under arrest. What is it that you want?"
"Given that all of our belongings have been incinerated? Let's start with cab fare."
PRT headquarters, after sunrise
"...and that's the end of my report. In my defense, I was informed that they were picked up by the police, and it was a reasonable assumption they had been read their rights, and waived notification of parents, as is common among parahuman youth gangs."
Piggot sighed. "With the information her lawyer gave the press, they would have walked anyhow. I'm still giving you a reprimand for not checking."
"I accept that, Director, as I was entirely at fault. I doubt I would have got anything from them regardless, but it was a simple mistake to avoid."
"As for the rest, it went as well as it could have. Bakuda shut down before she managed to inflict mass casualties and the ABB leadership either arrested or dead. Of course, now we have to worry about what that blasted thinker is going to do with this kind of good publicity."
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest non-military honor that can be awarded in the United States.
Fruit of a poisoned tree is the doctrine that illegally obtained evidence cannot be used in court. In the United States, this is generally involving 4th amendment cases, but, as Tattletale pointed out, it can also apply to interrogation of minors and failure to notify the accused of their rights to an attorney, and the right to avoid self-incrimination. I am not a lawyer, so I don't know if I applied it correctly in this case, but for the purposes of this story, any errors can be explained as differences with Earth Bet law. I don't recommend using this tactic to get out of trouble with the law.
This is all happening on the same night as the ambush of the Wards, so no-one knows about Taylor being called Cicada yet.
shugokage, erik, Rasengalia: Thank you
Kaiya Azure: She's got the memo now, Bakuda is both arrogant and crazy, and I'll put that in the potential quotes file, thanks.
Draco Victorious: I chose a different direction, but I'm glad you like the genre.
TigerCat: Well, I had to leave it somewhere.
GreatAzureDragon: It's Tattletale, Kid Win just doesn't remember that. And thanks, happy to prove you wrong.