23 - Just Visiting

The prison guard escorted Cataclysm down the hall, walking behind her so he could watch her movements. "You know the rules?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "Not my first trip."

He showed her into the visitation room where Pyro was already seated at a table. Pyro smiled at her approach and they exchanged a fist bump before Cataclysm sat down and asked, "How've you been?"

"Okay I guess. How about you? Been a long time."

"Yeah, sorry about that. That Canadian business took longer than I thought."

"Oh?" said Pyro with a questioning look.

Cataclysm hesitated. She didn't like talking about her escapades in here. It turned out that the Michigan Department of Corrections frowned upon unregistered metahumans with criminal records visiting inmates. The warden had agreed to overlook Cataclysm's prior convictions after a recommendation from Witchcraft, but if they ever found out about her powers then even one of the Champions wasn't likely to convince them to let her visit the prison.

On the other hand she didn't like locking Pyro out like that. It wasn't fair to her. So Cataclysm leaned in and said softly, "The plane crash was caused by some ice demon with a long name. LEAF is keeping it quiet for now to avoid a public panic. At least one big villain was involved. I really can't say more though."

Pyro looked disappointed but settled for saying, "You'll have to tell me the whole story someday. You know you were on the news when you were gone, right?"

Cataclysm frowned. "No I didn't."

"They didn't know it was you, just some unnamed fire super. You couldn't make out your face through all the flames. But I knew. You were blasting your way into an ARGENT building and someone got some cell phone video they sent to the TV station. ARGENT refused to comment to either cops or press saying it was an internal matter."

It was getting harder for Cataclysm to stay out of the public eye. She had taken to going around in street clothes when she wasn't beating people up, since her usual look drew too much attention. It wasn't the kind of full-fledged secret identity other supers had but it protected her privacy a little bit. "That was before I left for Canada. ARGENT had been hired to expand Stronghold and they were trying to sell copies of the prison schematics to VIPER."

"Oh, that part wasn't on the news. But I guess they wouldn't want that to get out." She nodded approvingly. "Cool."

Cataclysm had stayed out of Westside since taking down Hi Pan. Other than a run-in with Poe when he came after her, she hadn't involved herself with gang business. There wasn't any internal conflict going after global threats like VIPER or PSI and she had started to feel better about what she was doing.

Their extended whispering session had drawn more attention from the guards than she liked, so Cataclysm leaned back and said, "How have things been for you?"

Pyro got the hint and also settled back in her chair. "Okay. I'm still trying to stay out of trouble. I don't want to do my full five years here. And I don't want to get kicked out of the auto mechanics program. So I hold my temper."

Cataclysm smiled. "I'm glad."

"I still haven't decided what I'm doing when I get out of here," Pyro said a little defensively.

"I know. But at least you're giving yourself choices."

"I guess," she said grudgingly. "I just...I just don’t want to turn my back on them."

"You don't have to. I haven't. Maybe I'm not really one of them anymore but I'm still, I don’t know, a friend of the gang I guess you could say."

Pyro shrugged and Cataclysm dropped it. She knew better than to push. The silence stretched out between them until Pyro finally said, "Look, if you're going to ask then ask. The guards already interrogated all us Maniacs. You might as well ask, too."

Cataclysm opened her mouth to ask what she was talking about but stopped herself. "I wasn't going to ask," she said. "You're in level 2 security. She's in level 4. Hell she spends half her time in lockdown anyhow. I doubt you've said two words to her in the eight months you’ve been here. You have no reason to know anything about Zoe's escape."

Pyro seemed unsatisfied with the answer. "And if I had known? Would you ask?"

Cataclysm thought about that. "I don't know," she admitted. "I'm glad I didn't have to make that call." She grinned at Pyro. "If I'd asked, would you have answered?"

Pyro snorted but returned the grin. "Same here. Glad I didn't have to make that call. Probably though. I mean this shit between you two isn't about her breaking the law. It's personal. So yeah I'd probably have told you."

Cataclysm said, "I have gone down and kicked around a few Maniacs to see if they know anything but she hasn't shown up there either."

"Have you found out anything at all?"

Cataclysm shook her head. "Probably only what you know. Some nut job in powered armor flew in, blasted directly into her cell, snatched her and flew away. No trace of either has been found. It doesn't make any sense. Zoe doesn't know anyone like that. Honestly I think they grabbed the wrong person. Once she started screeching at him, he dropped her into the St. Clair."

"Yeah, I guess," Pyro said uncertainly. Neither woman really believed that's what had happened. "I guess I'm not really surprised she didn't go back to the Maniacs."

"Oh?"

"She's stayed away from the Maniacs in here. Kept to herself. From what I've heard she's changed. Not in a good way. Something really snapped in her." Pyro looked at her. "If she's out there, she's going to kill you. You know that."

Cataclysm shrugged. "She'll try. I've faced worse."

Pyro shook her head. "I don't think you have."