With midterms finished, the day of the reveal came. I was quite antsy during prayer to recharge the collar that morning, and the usual soft music I listen to when I’m studying didn’t help much either. It wasn’t until the full moon rose over the horizon that I calmed my nerves and reminded myself I wasn’t alone. Agent Brenner would be busting her for her crimes, and I was going to be there if things got out of hand.
It wasn’t until the bus came when I got a call from him on the contact phone to go over the final plan. I could barely hear him, but I did recognize the parts that we’d already talked about and promised him I’d show. I’m glad he didn’t know what my real face looked like, or else I’m sure that I would have gotten a visit in class one day. I definitely did not want that to happen.
The reveal was supposed to be at Entech’s offices, but was moved to a conference center close to there because of the expected attendance level exceeded fire code, or so their website had declared. Honestly, I was glad that the change was made, as it would allow me to slip off and change partway through the presentation. As I got off the bus, I noticed the hawk again, sitting in a tree leading to the center, but ignored him in favor of steeling my nerves. There was a crowd gathered with their tickets to be let into the building, and thankfully I’d gotten mine before midterms had started. While I knew my mother would hate me using my trust fund to go to an event to bust a crime ring, it was necessary.
Once I finally got in, I noted the nearest bathrooms to the auditorium entrance before I took my seat. The place was almost packed once the presentation began, and many were dressed in formal attire. I chose to go a little more low key, as I was there for the bust and not the refreshments afterwards. The MC droned on a bit about the history of the company, what lead them to greatness, and then introduced Innis.
Once she took the podium, she started a speech about how she came to the company and leading them to even greater technological heights. The big reveal was one of a serum of nanobots in suspension, that had the potential to heal internal damage and help skin to regrow after being burned severely. I’ll admit, the tech did intrigue me. However, after seeing the pictures, I just couldn’t get as excited as the rest of the crowd.
It was at that point that I took my leave to the bathroom and transformed into my super identity. I went looking for the AV booth and found that one of Agent Brenner’s men was already behind the monitors. He told me not to worry about the presentation of the audio and to go queue up for the Q&A line. I stepped over the knocked out Entech booth guy on my way out.
It took a while to get up to my turn on the mic, with various people asking various questions or joking a bit, but as soon as I came forward, I got straight to the point.
“Excuse me, Ms. Innis, but for all your boasting of this tech, I didn’t feel like you had your heart in it. Perhaps your baby lies in your side business?” I asked and my tail swished.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She responded.
“Oh, I think you do. The one that involves trafficking women, girls and some men in the sex slave trade that stretches from here to Cabo. I know, I’ve got proof and have busted some of those locations here in the city,” I sneered.
“I’m sorry, but I think you have the wrong person.”
“Oh, I’m sure I have the right one. Hit it, AV dude.”
The audio file played over the speaker, loud and clear, of Innis talking to a human trafficker from San Diego and making a deal with him. She referred to the women being talked about in a very incriminating way and told him that she’d pay a couple of thousand for the lot, but they’d earn back more than twice that in their run up in Portland.
Innis’ eyes went wide, and then livid. “How did you-I mean that must be doctored to sound like me!”
“I don’t have the equipment to doctor audio files, and before a month ago, I hadn’t heard your voice before. Give up while we’re at this point, so at least you’ll have some dignity in your fall.”
“Why you bitch! You’re the one that my right hand warned me about!”
She was just about to step in front of the podium, when Agent Brenner stepped onto stage. “Claire Innis, FBI. We’re here to arrest you on charges of conspiracy, human trafficking, kidnapping, distribution of child pornography, and prostitution by proxy.” He flashed his badge. “Now I’d rather you come quietly, as Miss Senet-Ra said, than have to pursue more extreme measures.”
I smirked smugly at what I thought was her being cornered. It turned out that not only was she not cornered, she could both flip me off and run in heels at the same time. I was stunned for a second as Agent Brenner missed with his taser and she made for backstage. I made my way up to the stage to chase after her.
When I got backstage, I noticed several FBI agents knocked out and Brenner cursing his luck. When he noticed me, he said “Well this could’ve been better. She busted through my team, then ran out the back door. Do you happen to know where she’s headed?”
“No, but I have an idea. What would you do if you’ve been implicated in a big crime ring, but only certain pieces of evidence have been brought against you publicly that you know of?”
He thought for a minute. “I’d go destroy what other evidence there is and make my accuser look like a fool, which would make any judge throw the case out.”
“Exactly.” I said and started for the back door. “Meet me at Entech when you can. I’m gonna try and stop her.”
With that, I was racing in boots across several city blocks to get to the Entech building. Innis had a several minute head start, and not once did I spot her on the street. I was glad that I had block heels by the hill, else I would have had to slow my pace some. Running in a miniskirt however presented some other problems, namely a guy that catcalled me as I reached the top of the hill. Annoying bastard.
Once I got to the triple five, I saw that the glass front door was smashed in. Inside, I found an FBI agent knocked out cold against the cold marble floor and the gate before the security area raised. Another agent was knocked out close to the elevators. As I waited for the elevator to come down, I checked his pulse. It was slow, but steady.
That elevator ride felt like an eternity. Entech’s offices were near the top of the high rise, and with as amped as I was to take care of it, I got fidgety and started to chase my tail. Yes, that’s right, I did a dog thing, even though I’m a catgirl in magical form. All it did was make me dizzy though, so I stumbled a bit out of the elevator when the door opened to the corridor.
Shaking it off, I noticed a pair of feet sticking out of Entech’s office door. Apparently Innis had knocked out the agent there and he was now acting as a door block. I stepped over him and thought about how could she knock out all these guys. Even if she were a bodybuilder, she’d be exhausted by the pace, plus she was in her 40s by my age guess. If she had a taser, I would’ve spotted spent pin cartridges on my way up there, and the agents would still be conscious.
While I wondered this, I saw several agents knocked out along a war path to her office, save for one. He had his service pistol in his hand and was bloodied to a pulp. He was still slightly conscious, and moaning in pain.
“She was so fast…” he said as I got within view, “I didn’t have time to fire.”
I nodded. “I’ll get the bitch, you wait here.”
Unsurprisingly, the door to her office was locked. It took me a couple of kicks to break it down, but when I entered the room, there she stood at the desk, her hands bloodied. She was doing exactly as I thought she was going to do, deleting evidence on the laptop.
Innis turned to face me. “You’re too late, I’ve already begun the wipe.”
“Oh really? I thought your background was in business.” I said and pulled my staff from its resting position.
“I still know some IT,” She leered. “You had a little helper in here a few weeks ago during that tour that I took my leave from to meet with some Japanese business associates.”
“Oh, you mean the yakuza that were courting your favor? Wait…” I looked back and up and saw the camera node.
“Yes, we caught her on camera. Nice touch telling her to wear gloves. I could run her face through recognition software, but I have a bigger catch to take my frustrations out on. You.” She jumped up on the desk, still in heels. “The one who sent my assets in the city to shit and got the FBI on my ass. I’ll beat every last penny of it out of your cheerleader hide.”
She launched herself at me and I parried her. Unflustered by it, she charged at me again, getting in a body blow and knocking me into the desk. I reeled a bit, but was able to get a jab in with the staff as she closed the distance. This off put her for a few seconds as I got into a more ready stance, but before I could throw a Ra’s Wrath, she was on me and the staff.
“Carlos told me about your strange abilities, so I have come prepared,” she said as she struggled with me. “The serum we unveiled has much more uses than medicine and antiaging. The bots can be programmed to do anything, really, including enhancing the body to levels of a super for a short period of time.” She punched the glass by my head as I dodged it, fracturing the window. I threw a side blow, but she shrugged it off, knocked my supporting hand loose and pinned me to the glass. “Here, let me give you a demonstration, ya fucking pussy!” She then repeatedly body blew me until the glass behind me could stand no more, then hit me right out of the building.
I could see her flip me off and turn around to go back to the desk before the office was out of my view. I knew that the Aegis couldn’t take the damage from a fall that high, so as I braced myself for what might be my end, I heard a voice say “Use Nut’s Embrace! It’s Nut, Akhyt if you don’t remember it!”
I figured it was better than falling to my death, so I tried it. “Nut, Akhyt!” I said, my arms spread wide. Suddenly, I wasn’t falling anymore. In fact, I had stopped two stories above being street pizza. The spell’s operation came flowing to my mind then, and I charged back up the air I’d lost.
Once I got within a few stories, I slowed my pace some. The blows she’d delivered hurt, even though they were softened by the Aegis. I gave myself a few seconds of rest before appearing at the broken window. That scum would get what was coming to her, even if I had to bust her eardrums to do it.
“You know, it’s impolite to throw people out of tall buildings,” I said once I reached the window, “Most would consider that murder. With me, however, you’ll get attempted murder on that list of charges lined up already.” I landed back in the office, looking very peeved.
“How did you–”
“What can I say? I’m magical.”
“I’ll kill you this time, for sure.”
“We’ll see about that.”
She threw a kick at me, but missed and I tagged her on the thigh with the staff. At this range, I knew I wouldn’t miss. “Roar, Sekhmet-Mut!” I shook the staff head and made her back off, her ears bleeding from the sonic attack. She then rolled under the cone and tackled me to the wall.
“The bots will heal that in no time,” She said. “With it, I’m immortal!”
I hit her with a kick to the groin. Now, it may not be as effective as hitting a guy with it, but it still hurts. That was enough to slip out of her grasp, but not enough to keep her from dodging the next couple of staff strikes I put at her. I did get one in, but she parried me, knocked the staff out of my hand and me to the ground.
“I win, you fucking pussy,” She said and stood over me. “Have fun in hell!” She started to wind up for a big punch, but then I heard a cry of a hawk and her stumbling backwards. “What the?! Get off me, you stupid bird!”
I opened my eyes to see that same hawk trying to rake her eyes out. “What the in the name of the Duat are you doing girl? Get up and finish her off!” I heard the same voice again from the fall.
I did a flip to get up, called my staff to me, but a compulsion ran through my head. Stowing my staff, I drew up a Ra’s Wrath, but let it grow in power for a bit before releasing it. “For the crime against Ma’at of creating more isfet in the world, Ra’s Eyes bring his wrath upon you. Iryet Ra, aha!” As soon as I let go of the spell, the hawk was knocked out of the way, onto the cancel button of the laptop, and the blast hit Innis dead center, knocking her into the wall and unconscious. It also knocked the wind out of me. I was glad that the fight was over though.
The hawk hopped onto the desk. “That’s the poorest performance of a collar wielder I have seen since they made the damn thing!” It said in a too big for his body voice. “You should have had her in chains even before the window broke, and damned if you didn’t know the basic spell to fly already. The collar should have taught you that when you first transformed!”
“What the…you can talk?” I said, still out of breath.
“Yes, don’t tell me humans have lost the ability to talk to animals, or at least know to read their behavior,” He said. “It’d be on a long list of things that have changed in the past 2500 years. Like people that worship the Netjeru on this continent. It took me weeks of trying to hide in those metal bird-like things to even get here! Then when I finally find you, you were sneaking around like a thief and not a proud warrior.”
I couldn’t believe it, I was getting lectured by a talking hawk. “Well, who are you supposed to be then?”
He sighed. “Didn’t they tell you anything? I’m the guardian of the collar, but I’ve been stuck as the guide for the collar wearers until the death of Padibast, when they decided to seal me in that statue. I was one of the Shemsu-Heru, the army division before I was given the duty.”
“Okay, snarky hawk, whatever you say.” I could feel the irritation in me rising.
“My name isn’t ‘snarky hawk’. Call me by one of my Lord’s places, Edfu.”
I spotted Agent Brenner coming into the office. “Wow, you really did a number on this place.”
“More like she punched me a lot and then threw me out the window before I knocked her unconscious. The agents are her doing.” I nodded to Innis’ slumped form.
“I hope you were able to save the data.”
“I haven’t checked it yet, but a hawk did land on it.” Edfu gave me a nonplussed look.
“I’ll have our guys check it out.” His phone went off. After a minute of disdainful looks, he hung up. “The SRA are on their way. You better get out of here before I have to officially detain you for your involvement.”
I nodded, then cast Nut’s Embrace again. “You coming?” I said to Edfu and flew out the window. He followed wing and we weaved through the San Francisco skyline.
We were almost home when I mused “You know, this would have made getting around the city a whole lot easier. I’d love to not have to take the bus to get around.”
Edfu scoffed. “The collar’s power is only to be used in the name of ma’at. It is not a tool of convenience.”
“Says one who has natural wings.”
“I didn’t choose this form, it just saves energy.”
“Whatever. I guess I have to get a bird set-up next week. For now, I’m bushed.” I said as I landed on the balcony, which I forgot to lock the door to. “You’ll have to sleep out here in the interim. Please don’t shit on my neighbors plants again, they were pissed about it.”
“You humans and your bathroom rituals. Fine, I’ll use the flowerbeds.”
With that, I went into the apartment, powered down, showered, and passed out. Thus ends my origin story, but Edfu and I still have many stories to tell. By the way, the next day he both shit on the plants and left a dead mouse on their patio furniture as compensation. I had one hell of a time apologizing and had to try to bring him up to speed on human culture of our era. Figures I’d get stuck with a netjeri that hadn’t socialized since the Late period.