THE BLACK CAT

Cassie sipped her rosé. Nearby, she heard the sound of repair crews working on the damage from last week's attack. There was much damage from that incident in property and personnel, thankfully, none fatal. Her circle had worked around the clock healing the wounded, and repairing damage, particularly that which risked exposure to Descharme's illegal dealings and other 'secrets'. Naturally, he wanted vengeance on those responsible. But who was responsible, and where could they be found? That was her job. There was no one better.

After today, she wished she wasn't.

The police files she obtained gave their identities. Three young girls who had escaped from a juvenile prison upstate weeks earlier. It did not explain how they obtained their power armors, or who they worked for. However, it was clear that the people who tried to coerce Desharme into joining their syndicate had something to do with it, and they were more of a threat than anticipated. Why they chose such a blatant method, which attracted the unwanted attention of the authorities, was unknown. As for finding their location, there was an unforeseen issue. The other day, she spent hours going through security footage of the three attackers, looking for anything that could aid in locating them. She had indeed found something, and intended to use it in a location spell.

CASSIE'S ROOM, THE OTHER DAY

The room was completely silent. She was preparing a detection ritual that would be used to find the attackers. This required something from the attackers themselves. Preferably something with their 'bodily fluids'.

After going through security footage at the time of the attack, she found such an item. It was a disgusting piece of gum one of them stuck under one of the slot machines.

She HATED gum!

With great reluctance, she added the 'ingredient', began the ritual, and waited. The spell would help her locate the attackers, while allowing her to observe their actions anonymously.

In front of her, a sphere of mist formed. She could make out distinct images. With a simple wave of her hand, the image became clearer. It focused on a young girl, probably in her late teens, with short dark hair, and a fierce complexion. She was running on a treadmill, wearing what appeared to be blue metallic armor. Moments later, she stopped and got off the treadmill. She then entered a wide area, possibly a loading dock, where two others were lounging around, dressed in light orange and bright red armor respectively. The one in orange had medium blond hair, and an almost cruel, pondering expression. She couldn't make out the features of the one in red, on account of her having her helmet on.

It was definitely them.

"Still pissed at Alrick?" said the blue one.

"The fucker humiliated me. No one does that."

"Maybe if we stuck to his plan…"

"BULLSHIT! I could have taken him…"

"No you couldn't! None of us can! You heard what he said! He has control of our armors!"

"Yeah! And why fight him at all? He got us out of Juvie!"

"And here we are, farting around somewhere downtown, when we could be hitting it big!"

Cassie smiled. It looks like she hit jackpot. They were in a warehouse somewhere downtown, and apparently working for someone called 'Alrick'. Behind them, she noticed a freight container with an ID number next to a triangular logo. A quick search online would no doubt reveal its owner, and location. Not only that, there appeared to be dissention in the ranks. Perhaps they could make use of that. It was then that she noticed the one in red was looking in her general direction, oblivious to the conversation the others were having.

"Um… guys?" Said the one known as Ruby Rush. The others continued with their argument. "GUYS!" she said, getting the others attention.

"What?" they said in unison."

"Look at this!" she said, pointing to where Cassie was viewing them.

They stared at where she pointing. "What are you talking about? There's nothing there!"

"What do you mean? I see it as plain as day! Someone's looking on us!"

This startled Cassie. She can see me? How?

"You're crazy! I don't see anything!" Said Moon Song. Amanda, however, noticed that Carla had her helmet on. She concentrated, then activated hers, and looked where her friend indicated.

"Hey! She's right! There IS someone spying on us! Activate your helmet!"

Moon Song followed suit, and saw the others were right. Someone was spying on them! But who?

With this Cassie dispersed the spell. This was unexpected. They had seen her! But how?

Back at the hideout, the girls pondered this development. Finally, Mandy spoke. "What… do you suppose that was?"

"You… don't suppose it was Alrick?"

"That wasn't him! It was some girl!"

"Should we let him know?"

"No. This is between us. If it comes up again, maybe we can learn something from it." Said Topaz Thunder. "We can figure out what to do then. Agreed?"

The others looked at each other, and nodded in agreement.

MOMENTS LATER

Cassie pondered this sudden turn of events. How did they see her? That should not have been POSSIBLE! Only those with magical ability would have been able to detect her, yet none of them had such a skill. She would have detected it otherwise!

Unless…

She remembered that one of them had her helmet on when she detected her, and encouraged the others to do the same. Before, they did not notice her spying on them. Could the answer be in those helmets? Or their respective armors? While she pondered this, another thought occurred to her. Hurriedly, she looked through some photo stills from the security cams. She paused on one where one of the girls was taken down by one of the supers who arrived on the scene. She noticed the armor she wore was similar to the others…

THE BLACK CAT. THE PRESENT

Cassie looked at the photo of Bianca's teammate. Turbo Jade. There HAD to be a relation of some sort. Currently, she had something in motion that would put it to the test.

Moments later, Trey entered the café, and approached her table. "Hey Cass. Descharmes wanted me to check up on you. Did you find anything?"

She sipped her wine, and answered. "They have a hideout downtown, a warehouse somewhere in the Barrows. I'm still trying to determine where." This was true. The other day, she found the logo from the container online and, through her connections, was in the process of cross referencing it with the serial number she saw. She expected a result this afternoon.

"He want's answers. The pack wants its vengeance!"

"I understand. Please understand that it takes time. In the meantime, did you get what I had asked for?"

He pulled a clear plastic bag from his coat. It was filled with dirty napkins, glasses, and paper towels. Some were labeled 'WonderWings'.

"You're certain it's hers?"

"Donna told me so herself. Even followed her into the break room."

"Thank you." He nodded and left. She looked at the bag. It should provide enough material from this 'Turbo Jade' for another detection spell, and put her theory to the test.

With precautions, of course.

LATER

Cassie started to prepare the spell with the materials provided. As a precaution, she wore an ivory face mask to avoid identification. She was also aware that Bianca, the only person likely to detect her, was at the hospital, visiting her teammate who was seriously hurt during the attack. The point of all this, of course, was to see if Turbo Jade could see her watching her, like the others.

Moments later, the young girl came into view. She was slumped on a bed, looking depressed. She was wearing her armor, but her helmet was deactivated, revealing her beautiful Hispanic complexion. Nearby, there was soft mewling. She looked in a direction out of Cassie's view, and started to smile. "Hey Senior Gato." She said softly. Immediately, a black cat leaped on her lap. She smiled, and stroked it lovingly.

At the homestead, Moonsox sat on Maria's lap while she petted him. She was a good girl. Someone who needed someone who could listen. And he was just that cat.

"I dunno. Evereythings just shit. First this armor, then that shit from last week, now my family may be in trouble… I just don't know." She looked at Moonsox balefully. "It must be great not having to deal with this this you lucky gato!"

He opened his eyes and pondered this. She had NO idea. As he mused, he saw something in the air. A sort of misty sphere. In it he could make out a mask like face. Immediately, he rose to attention, and gave a sharp screech, startling Maria.

"Wh… What…?"

Moonsox stared at the apparition, which only he could see. Back at Cassie's study, she quickly dissipated the spell. Bianca's familiar detected her. She had not considered this. He will no doubt report this to his mistress.

This was bad.

No doubt Bianca would consider this a violation of the treaties between Descharme's group and the council. And she would be considered clearly in the wrong.

Unless…

Bianca may try to reach her directly, before reporting to the council. It certainly was within her right. She could then let her know WHY she was eavesdropping. If her friend's armor could detect magic detection, she may want to know about it, and investigate further. She could probably also use the attack on the casino as a motive for her infiltration. In any matter, this may present a concern to both their circles.

Back at the homestead, Moonsox rushed out of Maria's room. Someone was spying on them. Bianca needed to know this!

"Wait! Come back!" said Maria.

A split second later, he vanished in thin air, and immediately appeared before Mistress Sylene.

Oh no, not this! Thought Moonsox.

"Report." She said in a casual tone.

He quickly bowed. "Mistress Sylene, this must be brief. Someone is trying to spy on Bianca. I witnessed the detection spell myself. I was about to find her and inform her of this when you summoned me!"

"What? Who would dare?"

"I couldn't tell. He, or she was wearing a mask."

Sylene pondered this. "Why were you not with my niece?"

"She's at the hospital visiting her teammate. The one called 'Windy' who was seriously injured at the casino. They… don't allow pets." He said dejectedly.

"I see. So she does not yet know."

"No, but like I said I was just about to inform her…"

"You have informed me. You have fulfilled your duty."

"But Mistress Sylene…"

"I am the head of our circle. If one of us are affected, we all are. As head, I will do with this as I please. Therefore you are relieved of this responsibility."

"Y… yes mistress."

"You are dismissed." He bowed, and winked away. Sylene then pondered this development.

So someone is spying on my niece.

Interesting.

IN-CROWD HOMESTEAD

As he winked back home, Moonsox pondered this turn of events. What is she up to?

"There you are!" It was Maria, who approached him after turning a corner. She looked at him sadly. "You naughty gato, running off like that." He gave a baleful look, and rubbed his side against her leg. Oh how he needed a hug.

And she gave him one.

THE BLACK CAT, LATER IN THE AFTERNOON

Quentin Green wished he were somewhere else.

He approached the Maître D', who led him to a private area where Cassie would be waiting for him. As they approached, He felt the papers, folded in a pocket inside his coat. He knew he should not be doing this at all.

But he had no choice.

Cassie was waiting for him. "Hello Mr. Green. Please be seated."

As he sat, she continued. "Did you get what we requested?"

He looked around nervously. Cassie smiled. "I assure you this dealing will be confidential."

"Yes of course. As long as… It's just that with the new security concerns…"

"I assure you your position will not be compromised. Now, the information we requested?"

He pulled out the papers from his coat, and handed it to her. "This is the tracking information for that freight container during the past three weeks, including its location as of this morning."

"And this would include its location during the period we specified?"

"It's all right there."

She looked at the paperwork, going through the lists until she found the date and time she cast the detection spell. The address listed the name of the shipping company, and the warehouse location. She had everything she needed.

"Thank you for this information. I will see to it that your debt to the casino will be cleared."

He looked at her and smiled nervously. "Thank you. Thank you very much." He started to leave, but not without facing her and thanking her again.

As he left the Black Cat, a sense of relief filled him.

He was free.

His gambling debt was gone!

As he walked towards the exit, the sounds of the casino mesmerized him. He looked around. He WAS just paid, and had a few hours to spare. He walked onto the floor, and headed to a blackjack table.

Why not.

Back at the Black Cat, Cassie examined the paperwork. Naturally, her circle would need to survey the area for any potential obstacles before the pack got their revenge.

But she felt they wouldn't be disappointed.

She hoped.