(Murder World, Day 8)
Cammi is doing her rounds, creeping her way through the snow-covered landscape to check on the others without been seen. The late attacks started four nights in, she thinks to herself. She missed the first one by a dozen meters and the second by just a few minutes. There has been no killing yet but they’ll get there. Arcade was right about that much. She knows that people are stupid and selfish. Kids are like people… only worse. For now, their hunter is just testing their defenses and scaring up paranoia in the camps.
She watches Chase and Nico who have a fire going. Chase tells Nico that something was stalking him in the woods. He felt ‘em closing in so he took off back to camp. Nico asks if he’s okay. “No,” he replies. “I got piss all over myself.” Cammi then looks in on the Braddock Academy kids and finds Apex and Nara arguing. Elsewhere, Hazmat sleeps as X-23 patrols the campsite.
Cammi knows she was out there last night, or him, she wonders. Whoever it is, she’d have seen them. It’s just her luck she’s smart enough to sit out Wolverita’s watch. There are at least four camps to choose from and the next one is Juston’s. He works on his Sentinel as usual and tells it he has a good feeling about tonight. He just needs to reboot its A.I. one more time. Cammi thinks that she could have posted up at any one of them, but it probably wasn’t much fun hiding in the woods like a coward. Tonight’s the night to make up for it, especially with “Timmy Tool Belt” spending his whole watch with his head stuck up his robot’s…
As she thinks about it, Juston says hello to his Sentinel. It doesn’t answer so he tries again. When the Sentinel does speak it offers a warning. “Hostile approaching.” Juston shines his torch into the darkness and asks who’s there. Do they really want to sneak up a guy with a Sentinel like that? Up in the trees, Cammi is also keen to discover who else is there. She shouts out but is annoyed that they’ve come via in the one angle she cannot see. She needs to get a better view. She leaps from the tree and closes in on Juston’s camp but stops in her tracks when she sees the Sentinel folding in in itself.
Metal twists and turns and loudly tears apart as the machine seems to implode. Cammi still can’t see who’s doing it, but she can’t think about it too long as the Sentinel begins to fall in her direction. “Oh ****,” she cries as she fires up her rocket boots and rockets to safety. She lands with a thump in the snow and picks herself up. She soon realizes that the assailant has spotted her. She can’t deal with that kind of firepower, not out there. She makes her way into the woods but leaves a trail of footprints.
Darkhawk has no trouble tracking her. He follows the trail into a clearing where he sees a small fire burning. Out of nowhere, Cammi rockets towards him shouting, “Die!” She keeps shooting as she approaches Darkhawk but he erects a forcefield, which easily deflects her shots. As she lands, her gun appears to run out of ammo. Darkhawk drops his defenses and tells her that her assault was impressive.
(The Peak, orbital headquarters of S.W.O.R.D. - Earth’s premier defense against extraterrestrial threat… before Murder World)
Cammi is in an interview room, head down, seated opposite Abigail Brand. Abigail introduces herself and informs her that she runs the place. She’s been told that Cammi isn’t very talkative which is fine. She loves to listen to herself. She tells Cammi that her men took a DNA sample when they brought her in yesterday. That DNA had a lot of surprising things to say. It turns out Cammi isn’t a mutant or a cyborg; her genes aren’t radioactive and she hasn’t been possessed, supercharged or artificially enhanced in any way. Her money was on her being a Pygmy Badoon wearing some kind of fancy tween-skin suit. But, no…
She tells her that, according to her report, she is a hopelessly average thirteen-year-old human girl called Camille Benally or Cammi for short. She disappeared from Coot’s Bluff, Alaska, during an E.T. incident two years ago. But, she adds, there are a few things her very talkative DNA can’t explain. Abigail brings up images on a screen beside them which shows Cammi doing a Zero G handstand in open space while siphoning fuel from the power cells of a Shi’Ar War Hawk. She laughs as she plays the moment when Cammi realized her friends cut and run, stole her little ship and left her at the mercy of a warrior race of infamously brutal bird people. Lucky for her, that it was S.W.O.R.D. who showed up and not the Shi’ar.
She reminds Cammi that she paid back that good fortune by shattering the forearm of her best field agent and nearly killing the neon green rookie who somehow managed to subdue her. She has stacks of footage spread out over the last eighteen months documenting the impressive intergalactic criminal record of a tiny little space bandit who turns out to be… her. Cammi remains taciturn as Abigail informs her that she woke up this morning looking forward to shedding light on the mystery of little Cammi, Earth Girl. But, there she sits with her miniature poker face - silent and unflappable. Lucky for her they have spectacular computers. One of them found some interesting footage. It seems that before she embarked on this inexplicable crime spree, she used to pal around with a few guys who more than once saved the entire universe. A video pops up of her running with Starlord, Nova and Drax the Destroyer. Does she want to talk about how she became the littlest space pirate? “Maybe you could tell me more about…” Cammi looks upset as she watches the footage. “Drax…” she replies.
Darkhawk aims his own weapons at Cammi, who responds by telling him he is Chris Powell, otherwise known as Darkhawk. She asks what he wants. He asks if she isn’t worried but she replies that, no disrespect, but she’s seen vids of what his armor can do and it’s pretty badass, but he’s already blasted her once and it’s obviously set on stun. So, why is he there? Chris’ armor disappears and he informs Cammi that someone is attacking the camps at night. Cammi knows that they hit the iron giant. Did he think that maybe she did it and he followed her tracks from the woods? Well, she adds, she didn’t. If she had the power to wad up a Sentinel and throw it through the air, their little scuffle just now would have been way cooler.
Chris grins and replies that their main priority is getting them all out of this place before anyone else gets hurt. He’s had no luck yet, but it will get a lot smoother if people don’t willingly jump down Arcade’s rabbit hole. The goal tonight was catching their stalker and scaring him straight. He tells Cammi that there were three sets of prints out there. One went into the woods and two came into the snow. He picked hers. Is there any chance she’d want to split up and help him figure out where the other two lead?
Cammi pauses a moment and asks if he doesn’t think he’s a little long in the tooth for Arcade’s teenybopper blood? He came up with Nova and the New Warriors. He has to be in his twenties. Chris laughs again and says he’s ancient. That’s what he gets for being more popular when he was younger. Once a teenage super hero, always a teenage super hero, no matter how often he edits Wikipedia.
Cammi turns and begins to walk away. “Waldorf,” she says. Chris asks what Waldorf means. Cammi informs him that it’s a hotel and the disarm command for all the incinerator mines they’ve been standing in. Chris is surprised. She rigged her own camp with explosives? Cammi tells him it isn’t her camp. It’s the trap she lured him into. She sleeps in the trees. She adds that she’ll take the snow tracks and he can take the woods. She’ll meet him back there at dawn and they’ll compare notes.
She heads off into the snow-covered lands which seem endless. As she begins to think that there’s nothing to find, she sees something beneath her. Before she can react, X-23 bursts through the snow and knocks her to the ground. She’s on Cammi in an instant and she raises her fist, claws extended ready to strike. Fortunately for Cammi, X-23 realizes that she isn’t the person she is after. Her scent isn’t right. She gets off her and apologizes before disappearing into the wilderness.
As Cammi sits before Abigail Brand, arms folded and with a disgruntled look on her face, Abigail tells her that she’s impressed. She was impressed before they dragged her in there and her poker face is scary good. But, the fact is, she is wanted in seven different star systems. Intergalactic extradition being what it is, she has options. She could give her six cycles in a Badoon labor camp or donate her body to Kree science, which is a three-year program. She could hand her over to the Shi’ar. The list goes on. Or… as S.W.O.R.D. is an Earth-system organization, it would be fairly easy to ‘lose’ a thirteen-year-old human girl planet-side. All she has to do is talk to her. Cammi replies, “Fine. I’ll talk. Just please don’t send me home.”
Abigail asks if she’s telling her she doesn’t want a full pardon back to Earth? Cammi says no. Abigail asks if she’d prefer alien torture prison? Cammi replies yes. Abigail then wonders why she would prefer that. Before Cammi can respond, Arcade uses his power to teleport her out of there to Murder World.
Cammi gets up following Laura’s attack and calls herself stupid. Stupid, weak and slow. She’s a silly little girl who doesn’t deserve any respect. She fires her weapon skywards and screams in frustration. She then removes her outfit and assumes a press-up position in the snow, fists clenched. As she pushes she repeats the words to herself. Stupid. Weak. Slow. Watching are Apex and Death Locket. Apex finds her behavior odd but she’s soon seen enough and they leave.
As Darkhawk treks through the forest, he hears a noise from behind a tree. He tells whoever it is that, if they’re gonna make that much noise, they might as well cut the crap and show their cards. But, he warns them, “I’m all in.” He stands in readiness as his suit opens up and prepares all his considerable weaponry for battle. Unfortunately, he isn’t prepared for the stranger’s assault. His weapons turn in on themselves and are torn from their housings. The amulet he wears in his chest is then forcibly ripped out and taken into the trees, leaving Chris Powell lying in the grass, unconscious.