Chapter 4 - Canary Interlude

Light flickered across my eyes as I awoke. Tasting my own tongue, I groggily sat up.

"Hey you, you're finally awake. We're just about to cross the border, you know," a woman said.

I was surrounded on all sides in gleaming metal, having not seen the sun in days. The transport I was in hummed as we traveled into Canada on the way to the Birdcage. The end of the line.

"Hey birdie, you look kinda familiar. Hmmm oh! You're Bad Canary aren't ya?" I glanced over at the other prisoner, a dark haired woman about my age, maybe a bit younger. I didn't want to talk, and even if I did, I couldn't. Stupid mask covering my mouth.

"You are! Oh man, I am a big fan of your work. I'm Bakuda, the greatest bomb maker on Earth," she held out her hands as if to shake, even though they were handcuffed and covered in a large tinker tech gauntlet. Even if they were free, I wouldn't want to shake her hands. The blood on them must have been unimaginable. At least, that would have been my assumption.

She leaned back against the wall, humming a jaunty tune, Didn't she get what was happening? Where we were going? I huffed and turned to the side. There was banal elevator music playing, and I tried to make up lyrics to it, knowing it would be the last music I'd ever hear.

At least it wasn't one of my songs.

"Hey can I monologue to you? I haven't made a good monologue in weeks. Damn suits wouldn't let me at my trial. Had me gagged like you, which was lame. I don't even have a voice controlled power, they just thought I was annoying," she barked out a laugh.

"Well I'm gonna monologue whether you want it or not. So I dunno if you've heard my tale, hard to know what news gets to ya out in jail. Well, I'll fill you in. I was once a star student at corn' uni, but some bad decisions and an existential crisis later, and I found myself on the laser end of good ol' Leggy, who didn't take too kindly to my uh, advanced extortion techniques. Luckily I had an escape plan, which was to explode myself and land far away. It failed because lasers. So then, as luck would have it, I was recruited-slash-kidnapped by this dragon fella, Lung, who brought me into his study group-slash-fundraiser.

"Except it wasn't a study group, it was a gang, but y'know, they fundraised themselves with drugs and human trafficking. Didn't care too much for that, but hey, I had a lab, not in jail, and not being chased by Laserman. I was living the good life. Then some kind of bullshit happened, Lung fought some kiddie gang, got captured by the Protecties, then almost died from some drug their Tinker pumped into him, and then they blamed me for it!" Bakuda raised her prison gauntlet in the air and flailed.

"Man, so then the boss was gone, and I had to consolidate power because Oni Lee wasn't gonna, and you know how it is with gangsters, they all want a bigger slice of the pie. Took some elbow grease, and I had to acquire some additional manpower because I had to make a big distraction so I could break Lung out of jail and explain myself. But then this PRT bigwig talked to him, making me out as some traitorous bitch, so that was no longer an option. But I still had to break him out, ya know? I had already planted the bombs and they were being slowly defused, and I couldn't just waste them."

Bakuda scratched her chin with her gauntlet, "So I was breaking out Lung, but he thinks I betrayed him, or would begin suspecting I was, probably at like the most inconvenient time too, and betray me before I betrayed him. So I had to betray him before he betrayed me for betraying him, but that was just playing into the big wig's hand. So I decided I had to make it impossible for us to betray each other by throwing everyone else against us. So I blew up a villain truce meeting, after I found this total snitch named Chenny."

She took a deep breath, "But then Chenny boy wouldn't stick to the script I gave him, even after I put my most miniaturized bomb in his head. He was supposed to turn everyone there against us and the PRT, get everyone against us but also fight the cops, creating enough chaos that we could take advantage of. I mean, Lung fought off all the heroes in the city once before, we were probably fine, with my support.

"At least we took out the crazy 88's healer. That's always the first step, take out the healer. 'Course the sniper I hired off of Craigslist got the shit beaten out of him by another sniper that just happened to also be there, but they apparently had the same target, so it all worked out in the end," Bakuda sighed, "Well we lost anyways, but hey, that's what I get for running into a protag. I could tell once I found out she beat Lung and joined the gang with the best name. I mean, bug powers and she still beat Lung? That's some bullshit right there."

She took a deep breath, "But I think I gave a good enough showing to be a fan favorite and get my own spinoff. I can't be going to prison now, my story's just getting started. After all, villain protagonists are in vogue," she gave a wide smile that put me on alert.

"So, just a bit of a heads up, things are going to get crazy, mmkay? So just stand still and don't hold your breath," that was when Bakuda slid out a paperclip hidden in her hair and put it on her gauntlets, "See, my new benefactors, unlike your old ones, actually care if I go to prison or not. Well, they're like yours, pragmatic to the core, but I'm useful. I'm going to help them rebuild their power base on the West Coast after they collapsed."

I raised an eyebrow. That sounded like a jailbreak was happening.

"'Course, I'm a bomb maker, I can only do so much. Taking control of people by putting explosives on them is only a good short term option. What their power base needs is manpower, loyal and hardworking and not acting under constant fear of death. Well, a constant fear is good, just not so much that they're sweating out of their shirts."

She had taken the paperclip, and with her mouth, unlocked the cuffs, "So that's where you come in, birdie. Your little hypnosis trick can help us get off our feet. Beats going to prison, right?"

Was she serious? Really? This kind of pitch?

"Come on, don't give me that look. It's either me or nothing, you understand? Not like anyone else cares. Your asshole of an ex got you sent here, and so did the jury, the media, and half the public. Even your loyal fans blanched at the news, ya know. Not me though. I was one of your biggest supporters. Listened to every song and went to a couple concerts too. Never got a poster though, my wall back home was used for other stuff," she sighed, "If I had my powers back when your trial happened, I know I would've done something."

She only had her powers for such a short time. Who am I dealing with?

"Anyways, I won't force ya. I will set you free though, for all those times I illegally downloaded your music. The thing about containment foam is that it's a potent shock absorber, it takes in all of the kinetic force under a certain threshold," she took the reassembled gauntlet and held it up to the camera. That was when the confoam started spewing all over us.

"Just breathe normally and don't worry about what happens—" I couldn't hear her anymore. Everything was just blackness.

The ground shook. I felt a tingling sensation in my belly, the kind I only had when I was flying. Oh no.

I blacked out then, if only because this had to be a nightmare.

"Hey birdie, wake up. We're here."

My eyes fluttered open, "Bwuh?" Wait. I could speak!

"Took it off before you woke up. I've got a bag here with clothes, hair dye, and some fake IDs for you, if you want to leave," Bakuda smiled at me, "We're in French Canada now, I think. Smells French at least. My bomb should have thrown us as far as it could. Can't believe it worked as well as it did, I hoped Dragon didn't use Armsmaster's sweeper yet, and she didn't."

She stood up, wearing a blue baseball cap on her head and a red jacket over a green tee, looking completely not-insane.

Except she totally was. "You're mad."

I'm an idiot, first words out of my mouth in weeks and it's insulting the mad bomber who broke me out of prison.

She barked out a laugh, "'Course I am! A sane bomber's not even a bomber, ya know? Gotta be a little crazy to do my actual job."

I coughed a bit, "I- uh, thank you. But I don't think..."

"Don't worry about it. If you don't join up, I have a backup in mind."

French Canada. Wait, that would mean…

"No, I want to go with you," I blurted out. Heartbreaker, really? This was… No, it had to be me.

Her smile widened, "Well then. Welcome to the Elite, and I'm your new boss. Come on, we've gotta hike a few miles to the next city, then we can catch a bus back to the States."

A/N: I don't know how to write a Boston accent.

Bakuda's plan to escape was to place bombs underneath the path on the way to the Birdcage, trigger the shock absorbing containment foam sprayers to fill the entire chamber, then blast off far away. Also yes, there is an AU element here of the Elite being largely dismantled, due to the many many butterflies that have emerged over the past decade.

Also, I don't plan on writing any more chapters about these two, just know they're in the background doing things.