Friendly Fires

Featuring Diamond, Darkling, and Serena

Guest Stars: Lt. Mordecai Hammer, Sentry, Det. Terry Gear, Lyta Forrester

Cameo: Flashpoint

May 25, 2000, immediately after the arrest of Tusk

As Diamond climbed into the sedan, she continued her conversation.

"I only hope that when the media starts spouting off about this, they'll remember to mention that though it was mutants, and possibly metas, that attacked and kidnapped Blanchard, that it was mutants and metas that stopped them." A thoughtful, curious look crossed Diamond's face. "How much of the attack was shown on TV? I have no idea if the cameras were still working by the time I got there. And how's Tag? Was Dr. Jackson able to help him, or at least keep him stable until the paramedics arrived?"

Lt. Hammer picked up the CB Mike. "Unit 1M to Dispatch."

"*squack* Go Unit 1M *squack*"

"Request update on the 10-101 at Blanchard's address, over."

"*squack* "Unit 1M be advised that 10-101 is under control, Tag has been transferred to St. Andrews, Blanchard was dropped there only moments ago. Over *squack*"

"Unit 1M out."

Hammer raised an eyebrow at Diamond, "Looks like your friend made it."

"She's not really a friend," Diamond replied. "In fact, I'd never seen her before tonight. We worked together pretty well, even though she thought I was a naked loud-mouthed teenager with an attitude," she laughed. "She kept asking me if I was cold. As if I would go running around New London at this time of year starkers."

"It's really too bad about Tusk," Diamond continued. "It's so easy to prey upon adolescents and those just coming into their powers. People like Cory and other members of Genocide sure as hell don't make things any easier. I just wish there was something we could do to get society to believe that we're not all criminals and a dangerous menace. Some sort of organization or group to help kids like Tusk, whether they're mutants, metas or human. Keep them away from the gangs, and away from the Salvatori."

"That is just the problem. Kids like Jerimah need desperately to belong somewhere, to have someone say we care about you. So now we have the rumbling of an organization doing just that." Hammer frowned into the night.

"They say, we are just like you. We know, we understand, we are family. Normals are not like us, we are superior, we can do so much more. It is us against them. And kids like Jerimah jump at the chance, the chance to belong. And we… we have another headache."

He glanced at Diamond sideways, "I am just one man. If this 'Syndicate,' as they call themselves, ever get fully organized, I am way outnumbered…"

"Where did you get the idea that you're alone? If people like me didn't care about what's happening, we wouldn't be out there doing what we do. You obviously know what I'm up to, and the fact I've been focusing on the youth gangs. I know how easy it is to get seduced into the whole vicious circle."

"By the way," Diamond turned to look at the lieutenant, "what is this 'syndicate'?"

"We don't know too much about it. The only word on the street is that someone is gathering in obvious mutant/metas with basically those words. And NLPD has no one they can send undercover. If you find out anything about it I would love to know."

"No problem, Hammer. I wish I could help more. I can't exactly go undercover, can I? I'll keep my ears open on the streets, and I'll let you know if I find anything out. Tusk also mentioned a group called the Minions. Do you know anything about them?"

He lapsed into troubled silence until Diamond cleared her throat.

"The Minions have broken into the drug scene, concentrating more on the upper class of people, Barkley Island and the such. No one has seen them, talked to them or knows where they came from. Rumor has it that the Chessman has given them permission, so the criminal aspect is leaving them alone."

"That could mean big trouble, even if they're just targeting the rich," Diamond commented thoughtfully.

The car thundered over the New London Bridge, through Cookston, Port Albion and into Ucluelet as the two talked.

"Oh man," Diamond mused. "Remind me the next time I go diving through a portal to ask where it opens up first." She smiled. "I suppose I should be thankful I didn't end up in Timbuktu."

"And just because I'm not a cop doesn't mean I don't do what I can. I'd love the idea of a group people who work to help kids like Jerimah stay out of trouble, and learn that just because society right now considers us freaks and monsters, it doesn't mean we have to act like them." Diamond suddenly stopped, realizing she's beginning to get carried away. "Sorry about that, Hammer. I tend to get a bit vocal about this topic. It's just that I have always believed that with the right role models, and the right message being sent out, we can help the kids realize that the gangs aren't the answer, and that they're not alone. Hell, I'd be the first to volunteer."

"You sound just like Edward," Hammer grinned, "I am grateful to people of your and Sentry's calibre. Those who actually care and keep damage to a minimum. And I know how hard that can be."

"The thing that irritates me, is that society creates these meta-criminals and then expects the police to deal with them," Hammer observed dryly.

"Of course they do. The same way that they expect the police to deal with everything else, from drugs to gangs to guns. It's not their problem. If they're afraid of something, let the police look after it. That's why they pay taxes." Diamond shakes her head sadly. "I've had so many people ask me, from offenders to victims, why I do what I do. That I'm not the police, and even if I were, I sure as hell wouldn't get their respect. What can I tell them? That I enjoy what I do? I don't enjoy fighting thugs because they've committed a crime. I don't like having to have to rescue women from muggings, or judges from being kidnapped. We shouldn't have to be doing this at all, if society would only realize that they can prevent many of the problems, even before they started."

He frowned as the car pulled to a stop at one of the entrances to Penrith Square, "I have been talking to the Chief and the Mayor about this problem for some time now. The problem is that they can't understand why mutants and metas have to wear masks and such. I have been also been trying to have Edward help start a team, if presented right, with my endorsement, the major just might give the green light. Of course, you heard nothing about this from me." He gave Diamond a wink and a smile.

"Heard what?" Diamond replied innocently, belying the twinkle in her eye. "If, however, by some chance you do hear about a sanctioned group, or even an independent group, starting up, let me know. And about the masks, remind them about why the Secret Service is secret. When we're such high profile targets, extraordinary measures have to be taken to protect those who can't protect themselves."

Diamond grimaces. "Now wouldn't the fan club be thrilled with that. Man, they'd probably make me out to be the leader and founder of the whole thing. When I was taught about the price of power, no one said anything about acquiring a following like them."

Hammer laughs right out as Diamond climbs out of the car. "You should try dealing with mine." He waves as the car pulls away from the sidewalk.

Diamond sighed and walked the remaining distance to her home. Cutting through an alleyway, careful to look for bums and drunks, she reached inside and reversed the process that made her Diamond.

A hot bath, and thank God Josh took that massage class, Sara thought to herself as she climbed the last steps to the floor on which their apartment squatted. And why did we have to get an apartment in the same building as dancers who insist that elevators are the root of all evil?

As Sara opened the door, she noticed that the only light on was the kitchen one. She smiled softly, Josh had left her a message and gone to bed. The young couple had devised the code of the kitchen light on meant a message or food left for the one returning late.

Sara shut the front door behind her quietly, slipped the shoes off her feet, and padded softly to the kitchen. Her stomach growled, reminding her she didn't finish her pizza earlier. God, I'm a bottomless pit, Sara laughed to herself. Luckily the changing into Diamond and back seemed to help keep her girlish figure.

Sara went over to the kitchen table to see what Josh had left for her.

On the table beside the note was a plate with a sandwich wrapped and waiting beside an empty glass.

Sara unwrapped the sandwich and took a big bite out of it as she opened the fridge for a glass of apple juice. I wonder if he's remembered to take his cellular with him?

Sara grabbed the cordless phone, plopped herself down on the couch, turned on the TV to the local late news show and dialled Josh's cell which rang from the bedroom.

Muttering under her breath she then dialled the number to the Colours of the Wind Gallery. After a few rings, a male voice answered, a voice that Sara didn't recognize.

"Hello. Colors of the Wind Gallery."

"Hi. Who's this?" Sara asked, trying to remember if Josh mentioned hiring anyone recently.

"May I first ask whom I am speaking to?" the man asked.

Frowning, Sara glanced at the clock, 12:02 am. The gallery closed at 10 pm.

"This is Sara Mclintock. Would you mind telling me who you are and what you're doing at the gallery after hours? Where's Josh?" Sara started to become concerned. She got up off the couch and went over to check the answering machine, to see if there were any messages.

"This is Constable Harry Filk. There has been a break-in. Perhaps, Ms. Mclintock, you should come down here. The investigators have a few questions for you," the voice on the phone answered.

"Questions for me? Okay, I'll come down to the gallery. Is Josh there? Josh Blackburn? Can I talk to him please?" Sara walked quickly over into the bedroom and grabbed both her and Josh's cellular and a long, lightweight jacket.

"Yes, Mr. Blackburn is here ma'am, but I am afraid he is busy right now."

As Sara pulled up to the gallery, she saw two police cars with their lights flashing. A couple of constables were standing outside of police tape which was spread across the doorway. A young woman with short blonde hair, wearing jeans, a white shirt and black vest was ducking under the police tape and walked toward a blue Civic Honda. She was unloading a camera. Sara recognized her--Sam Carr, fellow photojournalist.

Sara put her camera in her purse, glad once again she always carried an oversize handbag, made sure her ID was handy, then got out of her car. She walked over to where the young woman was standing.

"What happened in there?" Sara asked, gesturing toward the gallery door, trying not to let on how concerned she was.

Sam looked up at Sara and grimaced. "It's a real mess. You have to see it to believe it. Makes you wonder what kinda sicko can do that."

Hurrying of over to the doors, Sara flashed her id and the constables waved her through. Sara took two steps and stopped. Paintings hung lopsided or littered the floor. Some had been spray painted and others had been slashed. Bits of pottery lay strewn on the floor, and the totems had been defaced. There were holes in some of the walls. Police were taking pictures and dusting.

Josh stood in the middle of it all talking to a very good looking man in his late 30's. Sara assumed that he was a plainclothes as he was writing as Josh spoke. Every few seconds, Josh stopped talking and just stared off into space.

"Oh my god," Sara whispered softly to herself. She went over to where Josh was standing, and gently put her hand on his arm, wanting to pull him into her arms and hold him, but not knowing what his temper was like.

"Josh," Sara breathed "I came as soon as I heard. Do they have any idea as to who did it, or why?" She shook her head. "I can't understand why someone would so maliciously break in and vandalize the gallery."

Josh looked at her blankly for a few seconds. Sara had seen the look before, on the faces of people who had lost loved ones or homes to fire. She had never seen him look like this before. From this viewpoint, she could see the inner showroom, where all the best artists' had pieces; it looked to have received the same treatment. She could see a police photographer and another officer taking notes as they stared at one of the walls. Yet she could not see what was on it.

"Ms. Sara Mclintock?" the plainclothes police officer asked. "Lieutenant Roman Polasky. Mr. Blackburn tells me that you live together, and are in a relationship. May I ask where you were around 11:00 pm?"

Sara could feel Josh tensing under her hand.

"I was across town, following up a lead that turned out to be a bust. Why? You surely don't think I had anything to do with this," Sara replied, a confused and concerned look covering her face, not to mention indignant. "I love this gallery almost as much as Josh does. Why the hell would I do this! What's going on here?" She looked at Josh, took his hand and gave it an attempt at a reassuring squeeze.

Josh squeezed back, Sara could tell that he was holding back his anger.

"Look miss, I have seen this before. A couple has a fight and then one destroys something that the other loves. I have seen expensive cars, houses, places of business, the works. This is my job, I have to cover all the bases. I suppose no one can vouch for you?"

"I doubt it. My contact didn't show, and I didn't see anyone else. Now, if you're done accusing me of destroying the dreams of Native artists and my love's life work, I'd like to have a few minutes alone with Josh," Sara stated shortly, starting to feel insulted and not just a bit angry.

"What's in the other room. Did the vandals spray something on the walls?" she said, trying to get a better look at the inner showroom.

"What makes you think there was more than one?" he asked.

"Well, with the security system on the gallery, there'd have to have been more than one to cause this much damage before the police arrived. That is how you found out about the break in, isn't it?" Sara asked.

The Lieutenant nodded shortly and then walked off to talk to one of the officers who was behind the desk.

"Bastard," Josh whispered. "I don't understand, Sara, why would anyone do this? Why would someone destroy Native work and then spray paint 'Wagon Burner' on the inner room? It makes no sense."

As Josh talked, a constable walked over to the Lieutenant. From where Sara was standing, she could hear the conversation.

"Sir, it seems we have a witness." The cop was young and looked nervous. "I don't know how reliable he'll be."

"Well, out with it, man."

"He says it was… well, he said… it was the Ghost of Geronimo."