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Mutants & Masterminds: Legacy - Training Daze


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The girl’s small frame was knocked back as the bullet slammed into her sternum. With an ‘ooph!’ the child hit the ground ass-first, fighting for air. “Serene?” she heard the shooter ask; after a moment he leaned over her, frowning. “Blink twice if you can hear me.”

With effort, Serene blinked twice – and only twice. Once she saw that Watchman had seen that sign, she slumped to the floor, scrunching her face in pain. Her hands rose to press against her now-sore chest, where the Kevlar had stopped the bullet. “Anything broken?” her father demanded to know. When she didn’t answer, he repeated the question, his voice becoming a bit sterner.

“No,” she rasped, rolling onto one elbow and pushing her body up. Watchman didn’t help her; she didn’t expect him to help her. He was training her to not need his help – or anyone’s help. If she remained prone, he’d just assume she was too hurt to continue and punish her later if he learned otherwise. “Jus’ hurts.”

“It just hurts,” he corrected her, his eyes chilly as he gazed down at her.

“It just hurts,” she dutifully repeated as she gained her feet.

Her father studied her for a long moment. Serene stood up straighter. At eight, she was tall for her age, all bones and skin. Watchman had told her that he could see the graceful athleticism she’d grow into, but Serene felt all gangly and awkward. The body armor she was wearing didn’t help; it pulled at her muscles and made her feel self-conscious every time she moved. Her dark, wavy hair was drawn back from her face by an elastic band; her skin was naturally tinted toward brown, like Watchman’s. The coltish girl looked like any other eight-year-old, save for her unnatural beauty. It was the heritage of her mother and Serene hated it. She wondered if her father was staring at it right now, hating it too.

After what her mother had done to him, Serene was surprised her father could stand having her around. She loved him all the more for that reason, that he was strong enough to tolerate her despite the woman that tainted her.

“Six laps,” he barked suddenly; without question, Serene turned and started to run the obstacle course. It was one her father had built for her. His was too hard, yet, but he believed she’d grow into it. And Serene was going to make sure she did, for her father. For now, she was hard-pressed to climb the vertical wall or swing over the chasm, never mind dodging lasers or robotic-arm pinchers. She was sweating before she’d done the first lap, her feet thudding in and out of the padded circles on the ground.

As she approached Watchman, he was looking at something on his HUD – Serene could see the blue hologram hovering before his eyes. She was too far away to see what it was, but she could hear DawnStar’s voice on the microphone. Her eyes flicked over her father, noting things a human child never would have noticed, like the tension in his posture or the way he stood. She slowed her run, knowing that something bad was happening.

“Serene.” Her father’s voice was thick with tension, his vocals confirming what she’d already seen. “Stop running, go to your room and clean up. We’re going to the Legacy Headquarters. Your mother has been captured.”


Serene hadn’t wanted to get cleaned up. She didn’t want to go to Legacy HQ and see her mother. She wanted nothing to do with Amore. But her father wasn’t offering a suggestion; he had his command voice going. Still, it was a long shuttle ride and halfway up, she found her voice. “Father? Why are we going to see her?”

“Because she’s your mother,” he told her sternly, his jaw stern even against the black of his cowl. “I think you’d want to see her.”

“I don’t,” Serene said, thrusting out her little jaw. “Father, she’s a bad guy.” Serene had heard about bad guys all her life. They hurt people and were mean; bad guys were fundamentally flawed by their badness. Who wanted to be a jerk? She was training so that when she was big, she could stop them, like her father did. She didn’t appreciate being reminded that she was half-bad guy.

“You haven’t seen her since you were five,” Watchman grunted, making a minute adjustment to the shuttle’s controls. “Given your cognitive development, you should barely remember her.”

Serene crossed her arms, snorting in a huff. “I can see vids of her anytime I want to see her, which I don’t.”

“Serene, do not cross your arms,” Watchman lectured, reaching out to pull her arm down. “You know why.”

Serene gulped as she was physically corrected, trying to hide a wince. “Yes, Father. That kind of change in posture indicated a defensive instinct, and that will be seen as weak.”

Watchman nodded in approval before continuing, “I’m sorry you don’t want to see her. She is your mother and you will see her.”

Serene resisted the urge to make a face. Her father had told her many times that telegraphing her emotions gave others an upper hand over her. Keep your face smooth, blank. Serene was silenced but not satisfied; that frustration prompted her find a way to ask the question she really wanted to have answered. “Permission to ask why?”

“Why I’m insisting?” Serene nodded once, sharply; it was a habit she’d learned from him. “I’m insisting because as much as you don’t want to be like her, she is your mother, and you should know her.” He glanced at her, his goggles blocking her gaze. “I think you’ll understand, when you’re older.”

Serene turned and looked out the window, scowling. When she was older? That was forever from now!


Serene had vague memories of her mother; she’d seen vids and holos of her since that time. She knew her mother was beautiful, absolutely gorgeous and graceful. She’d heard people talking when she didn’t know they were listening, and she’d seen commentators on the vids talking about her. She already understood that some men would love to be in her father’s position. She knew that some women wanted to be her mother. Serene thought it was stupid. Her mother was a bad guy. Why did everyone talk about her in such adoring terms? Even the men her mother had stolen from said nice things about her and took advantage of interviews to ask her to contact them again. People lined up to be hurt by her mother, and Serene didn’t understand.

She had a better idea when she saw her mother for the first time.

Red Amazon had captured her. The tall woman arrived not long after Watchman and Serene did, her shuttle settling down next to the one they’d brought up. Despite her decision to not want to see her mother, Serene found herself leaning forward a little in anticipation. Seeing the crimson boots of Amazon was a jolt of frustration but Serene remained quiet.

Then she saw the bare feet and legs of the orange jumpsuit right behind Amazon. Serene set her face into hard lines and waited for more of her mother to be revealed. The manacled hands and slim waist were next, followed by a generous bosom and graceful shoulders. And last, the face that would Helen of Troy feel inadequate – Amore.

Serene stared at her, seeing the similarities and differences immediately. Her mother was perfect beyond perfection but there was no mistake: they were related by blood. Serene could never be as pretty as her mother, but that made her happy. She didn’t want to be like her mother in anyway.

Amore stopped suddenly, her red eyes on Watchman. Serene felt the slightest shift in her father’s stance as her mother’s eyes rested on him. “James,” she said, her voice soft. Serene frowned and tilted her head a touch, confused. Her mother and father were both giving off strange signals, their bodies entering into a subtle dance that was full of context and subcontext. Though young, Serene’s maternal genetics had given her an instinctive grasp of the subtleties of body language. She just didn’t have the experience to understand what her parents were silently saying to one another.

Unsettled by what she was seeing, Serene stepped closer to her father. Her movement made him look down and Amore followed his gaze. “Serene,” she breathed, hope lighting up her face. Her mother moved forward suddenly; Serene stepped back without realizing she was doing it. Her expression was wary; her mother’s collapsed into sorrow at that look. “Baby…”

“I’ve seen her, Father.” Serene looked up at Watchman. “Can I go now?”

For some reason, her father looked at Amore before answering. “Yes, I said you should see her,” he replied. “You don’t have to do anything more. Kay?” Dawn Star straightened, looking at Watchman. “Can Serene play with Karra for a while?”

“Of course,” DawnStar said, smiling at Serene. Though she was acting cheery, Serene could tell that she was angry and sad, and her body language kept trying to dance with Father’s but his wouldn’t join with hers. But DawnStar seemed to know that and she just accepted it. It made Serene sad and she didn’t know why. “She’s probably in her room, doing homework. Will you help her?”

“Yes, of course. Thank you, DawnStar,” Serene said and went to find her friend, troubled by the adults being weird.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Serene woke up, passing from sleep to wakefulness in an instant. Something was wrong, not that she could pinpoint what that was. She knew it was likely Father, testing her again. She shifted on the bed, slipping her hand under her pillow and wrapping her hand around the collapsed baton under her pillow. She wasn’t worried about hitting Father when he finally grabbed her; she never actually hit him. But he’d still expect her to swing and try.

Ready for him now, the pre-teen kept her muscles relaxed and loose. The noise from the party downstairs was a soothing lullaby of white noise, but she resisted sleep. Part of her wanted to slip out of bed to see the party, but she knew that Father would just stop her. Maybe if she accounted well for herself, Father would let her sneak up into the balcony and take a peek at the party. Until he jumped her and started the training exercise, all she could do was wait.

Soft music was filtering up through the floor; without letting it distract her from the presence in her room, Serene pressed her ear to her pillow. Though she couldn’t hear the details of the song, she could hear the low notes, like a thrum of sound. She smiled, even as she was aware of Father circling the room in near-perfect silence. But to her, the sounds were loud and tale-tee. He must be going easy on me…

The music stopped for a moment; Serene sighed through her nose. In the silence, her father paused and Serene noted that he was using the sounds of the party to cover his own movements. The distant rumble of applause rose, making Serene frown. Why were people clapping? They only did that when someone made an announcement. And the only person doing that tonight was Father. But he was here…

With a gasp, she twisted out of bed, snapping her baton out. The person in her room was already in motion, taking advantage of the noise from below to charge her bed. Though she couldn’t see much about him or her, Serene did see the cloth in their hand. That was a really bad sign and even as Serene went into fighting mode, her mind was cataloguing what the cloth might mean. The most obvious answer was chloroform.

Her attacker was already too close and Serene reversed her hand, holding the baton upside down. She let her assailant run himself into the handle, even as her training took over and she found herself just reacting. The handle made a hard noise against his throat. Armored!

Serene changed tactics; there were only some areas of the body that could be armored. Most of them covered the important vital organs, such as the throat, torso, the groin and the meat of the legs and arms. However, there were a few places that couldn’t be armored well without sacrificing mobility. Serene attempted to aim for those now; the inside of the elbows, the wrists and the back of the knees. The girl used her greater mobility to get around and behind her assailant, striking at those areas as she could.

For a few moments, she was doing really well. Her attacker couldn’t get his hands on her; he was avoiding hurting her. Serene on the other hand, really wanted to hurt him. It gave her an advantage, one she pressed readily enough when she got behind him and got a solid hit on the back of his knee. He collapsed with a muffled cry.

A thud followed by a hissing noise brought a new component into the battle. Serene spun but in the darkness of the room, she couldn’t see the source. She lunged for the door – whatever that was, it was bad news.

A hand caught her by the arm; Serene spun and delivered a punishing blow with the baton – one that was turned aside by the armored forearm. It didn’t even affect the bruising grip on her arm and she was turned and thrust deeper into the room. Serene stumbled and caught herself, but she already detected a sweet smell in the air. Jerking back, Serene tried to make for the door, but she was moving more sideways then forward. The cloying sweet smell made her choke and there was a growing disconnect with her body. In fact, Serene found herself unable to do anything other than pitch head-first into the carpet and drool.


“-too hot. I don’t like this.”

Serene was floating somewhere. Her body was rocking back and forth, like a boat on the ocean. The rumble of the party downstairs sounded wrong, too rough. Her bed was hard and cold, her sheets rough. And her room smelled funny, like cigarettes.

“What do you want me to do?”

And strange people were talking. Serene wedged her eyes open, sure that something was wrong. She was lying in a blanket on the floor of a cargo vehicle. Someone, the first person she’d heard speaking, was kneeling next to her.

“We can’t let her die! She’s worthless if she’s dead. If she’s sick, we need medicine for her.”

Serene distantly wondered if she were that ‘her’. It was hard to think; her brain felt like it was made of cotton. It didn’t match her body, which felt like an over-heated, limp noodle. A cold hand pressed to her face.

“She’s definitely running a fever.”


Serene nosed against the hand; it felt so cool and pleasant that she couldn’t stop herself.

“And she’s awake.”


“Hot,” she grumbled, pushing at the blanket.

“Shh, you wanna leave that on. You’ll get chills.”

Serene stared up at the voice; all she saw was a black blur. Forcing her eyes to focus, she realized he was wearing a mask. Green eyes framed by black eyeholes peered down at her with worry.

“Kidnapper,” she mumbled. Why was he looking at her like that if he’d taken her hostage.

“Uh, yeah. Just rest, we’ll get you some flu… Oh, shit, I don’t think this is the flu.”


Serene tried to close her eyes, but her captor thumbed her lids back. A bright light pierced her eyes; Serene whimpered and tried to push the hand away without success. She was so tired.

“Her eyes… they’re… bleeding. Shit man, her eyes are bleeding so bad they’re making the brown red. I think we caused brain damage! We weren’t supposed to hurt her!”

“Aw, shit! Shitshitshit!

“Bad words,” Serene mumbled, glad that they’d stopped messing with her eyes. Something terrible was happening but she really couldn’t care.

“And she’s got some rash or welts on her face and neck. Oh, man…”

“Chris will know what to do. Let’s just get back to the base and he’ll know what to do.”


Someone was carrying her. Serene felt like she floating in strong arms. “Father?” she whispered, shivering as cold sank into her bones. “I’m cold.”

“She’s delusional. Not good. Not good!” The arms around her tightened. “And she’s shaking like a leaf.”

“Get her inside.” Serene tried to focus, but things were a blur. She was aware that she was being carried into a building but she couldn’t wrap her mind around anything else.

“You got her?” This was a new voice. Serene tried to see, but the blanket was over her face and moving it was too much effort.

“Yeah, but she’s sick. She’s running a fever, she bleeding in her eyes and she has some kind of rash on her face.”

“Sounds bad…” Serene moaned.

“No shit. Lemme see,” the new voice ordered. Someone peeled back her eyelids again. “Shit. Shit. Alright, just make her comfortable. I’m going to call Dorian.”

“We’re going to ransom a sick girl?” This was from the man holding her; Serene could feel his words vibrate through her whole being.

“Hell, yes. We’ve done the crime, we’re getting the money for it. You’re in charge of keeping her safe, El.” Chris waved her away and Serene could hear him dialing.

“Hey.” El, the one holding her. “You thirsty? Hungry?”

“Cold,” Serene sighed.

“Sure, lemme get you some blankets.” Ten minutes later, Serene was bundled up in several blankets on the couch. She felt her shivers slowly abate. “Comfy?”

“No. I wanna go home,” she whispered.

Though the young man was still masked, she could tell he was very uncomfortable. “Soon, Serene, ok?”

“You’re El.” She was trying to remember to find out all she could about them, but she felt so strange and wrong.

“Elliot, yeah.” He frowned at her. “We’re not going to hurt you.”

“Forty percent of all stereotypical kidnappings end in the child’s death.”

Elliot stared at her. “You just… happen to know that?”

“Are you going to sexually assault me? Forty-six percent of all non-family abductions result-”

“My god! Serene, no, you’re like… twelve!” The guy was truly horrified at the thought, which was a relief. “Can we stop with the terrible statistics?”

“Need something else to think about,” she sighed. “My dad’s worried. You’re not a very good bad guy.”

“This is my first time.” Elliot sighed. “Is it that obvious?”

“Yeah. You’re talking to me, getting to know me. You called me by name. I’m a person to you. When Chris decides to kill me, you’re going to have a problem with it, now.” Big brown eyes bleeding to red stared up at him, dulled with pain and fever.

“Chris isn’t…” Elliot trailed off. “Here, let me look at your neck.” Serene let him pull back the blanket; she wanted to fight, but she didn’t have the strength to do so. “Wow, that’s really… I think I’ve seen that before. But I don’t remember where. Are they… glowing?”

“No,” Serene whispered as her muddled mind put together the clues: her eyes going red and the glowing marks on her face and neck. Both of those were trademarks of her alien mother.

“Yeah, they are,” Elliot replied. “I… I think I smell… roses?”

Serene felt tears rise in her eyes. “No…”

Elliot was staring at her; in a sudden gesture, he pulled his mask off. She already knew he had green eyes; now she saw that he had sandy-blonde hair and a goatee. He had a square face that was merely masculine instead of blocky. He was in his mid-twenties, at least. He was cute, in a way that Serene was just starting to appreciate in boys and girls. He reached out and cupped her cheek, looking dazed. “Serene… I…” He pulled his hand away, conflict in his eyes. “I want…”

“I want to go home,” she whispered.

He leaned over suddenly and kissed her, his lips pressing to hers. Serene gasped and pulled back from the kiss, breaking it as she tried to burrow into the couch. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I... Something came over me. You’re so… beautiful, Serene.”

Serene had seen that sick expression in men’s eyes before. She’d watched dozens of vids of her mother’s victims, and they all had that same look in their eyes. Even Elliot’s body language had changed, trying to dance with hers. She’d gained enough experience to know what that meant. Moments ago, Elliot had been horrified at the thought of having intercourse with her. Now, his body announced his desire to exactly that. But it was more than sex or a kiss. It was devotion, utter and complete. And Serene was so tired and sick that she did the one thing she thought she’d never do. She used it.

“Elliot, please,” she whispered, letting her body lie to him, letting it fall into the dance with his. She reached out and grasped the collar of his coat; his goatee tickled her thumb as she begged, “Get me home. I need to go home. Call my father. Please.” Hating herself, she put her hand on his face, her eyes beseeching him to help her. His face felt so rough, raspy with stubble from a five o’clock shadow.

He looked grim, his face naturally too pleasant to sustain such negative expressions. “Alright. Here’s my communicator. It’s charged. Call your dad, before Chris comes.”

Serene cradled the device in her hands for a moment before sitting up, the blankets pooling around her. Too late, she was aware that she was in her nightgown and that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to wear in front of Elliot. Still, she focused on syncing to her father’s communicator.

“Hello?” Watchman’s gruff voice over the line was the best thing she’d heard all night.


“Serene, where are you?”

Serene looked at Elliot hopefully, biting her lip in silent entreaty. Looking guilty, her new ‘friend’ said, “We’re at the Luna Bay Space Elevator Complex, in Chicago. We’re in Warehouse B-6011.”

“Did you get that, Father?” Serene asked.

“Yes, I did. Who is that?” In the background, she heard DawnStar muttering something.

“His name is Elliot, and he’s helping me,” Serene said, smiling at Elliot. He grinned and offered her his hand; she took it, even though it was a lie. His big fingers laced with hers, making her skin tingle weirdly. It felt wrong, so exciting but she knew it was wrong. It wasn’t even about his age; it was because she was making him like this, like her.

“The Legacy League will be there in less than two minutes. Are you safe?” Serene heard the unmistakable whine of one of the Legacy shuttles powering up behind his voice.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Dorian. I’ll protect Serene,” Elliot offered, squeezing her hand softly.

There was a beat of silence. “Serene?” her father asked and even over the line, she heard the question.

“Yes,” she said. Her eyes, still mixed brown-and-red, locked with Elliot’s as she said. “I think it’s like Mother.”

She heard her father’s intake of breath. “Hold tight. It’s less than ninety seconds now.”

Serene looked at Elliot. “We really should take cover.”

Her protector picked her up and carried her behind the couch; hand-in-hand, they waited for the cavalry.


“Elliot’s going to jail, right?” Serene asked. She huddled in on herself, hugging her arms to her torso.

Watchman stared at her for a moment. “Serene, are you sure that he didn’t do anything else I need to know about?”

“I told you everything.” Serene had revealed it all, each uncomfortable moment. She had never lied to her father and wasn’t going to start now.

“He is going to jail.” Watchman was silent for a moment. “At least a few years.”

“And me?” Her eyes were fully red now; that knowledge made it hard to meet his eyes.

Watchman was quiet for a moment. “You’ll need to talk to her. She’ll have information for you. It’s information you need, so I expect that you’ll treat this as something that must be done.”

Serene was quiet for a long moment. Father had never forced her to see Amore, though he told her whenever her mother asked after her. But now, he was ordering her to do this. And for once, Serene knew that it was necessary, even if distasteful. She merely nodded her agreement.


The monitor went dark and the room’s single occupant leaned back in his chair. Everything had gone according to plan. Serene Dorian had reacted to the stress of being kidnapped exactly as predicted. She would probably never have the raw power of her mother, but she had shown so much potential today.

And that was enough to leave him all smiles.

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