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F-ing Diabolical

A Chance Meeting


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Mags was glad this was the first time something like this had happened instead of when they first started with the Super Pals. To have even been seen by a member of The Seven while in close proximity to such a team, let alone being recognized as one of the team’s leaders, would have embarrassed them to no end. However, after becoming more attached to the team, Mags’ worries were quite the opposite. 

They looked around the room in Vought Tower where the group had been told to wait. Mags noted the stand that held the pull-down green screen for pictures with a few backdrop samples next to it and a table stocked with pens for autographs. It looked like it was more for private events where civilians could meet The Seven rather than a room that hosted actual meetings between licensed supes, not that anyone on the team other Mags and their co-leader were licensed. 

Mags looked at the rest of the team and saw a group of excited faces on people with suits that looked more like costumes. The group of them looked more like fans at a convention rather than supes, and, in truth, they were probably the closest someone could actually get to being a civilian while still having powers, and, like civilians, they had no idea what a lot of supes were like when the cameras were turned off. Mags wanted more than anything for things to stay that way.

There had been a Vought employee at the door of the room, seemingly waiting for an update that Starlight was on her way. A telltale hand moving up to the employee’s earpiece and the employee walked out of the door. Mags looked over at their team.

“Okay, don’t everyone swarm her at once. She’ll be here plenty of time to meet each of you.” They said standing up and waiting for Starlight to enter, hoping that Starlight wasn’t there kind of supe who had disappeared to far in her own ego or at least that they had caught her on a good day.

@MATT

Edited by John
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Starlight told herself that this was something that she could never get used to. The feeling of being in the spotlight, that she’d felt on her shoulder ever since she’d gotten involved with the Seven. But here she was, waiting for a meet and greet with another team. ‘Super Pals’… something like that.

It seemed to her that there were new teams starting off every week, all Vought Sponsored in some way, she was sure. Nevertheless, she was happy to try to be there for the up and coming within the hero world. Hopefully she could set a good example for these who genuinely were trying to make a difference in the world with their powers. There were quite a few who genuinely didn’t….

Walking in the room, she smiled and waved to the assembled group, as she had been given a quick rundown of who everyone was before entering, by the vought employee. “Hello everyone, it’s good to meet you all. You’re the next generation of Supes, and you’re an inspiration to us all.” Yes, that was Vought inspired drivel, but she hoped that she was selling it with a sincere enough face.

She did want to help these people, and probably she was the best one in the Seven to do so. Everyone else was well….in any event it was probably better it was her doing this then the Deep. She would do her best to at least ensure that everyone had a good experience, not that she felt that she was being ‘on display’ so to speak. But she did do her best to shake hands, take photos, and sign autographs, as she looked them over. “So, it’s really great to meet all of you. Especially the newer generations of Supes. I know you all must have questions about what it’s like- being in the Seven,” she said, as she faced Mags.

Edited by MATT
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Mags watched Starlight as she entered the room and said what they could only assume was something someone at Vought had written for her to say for occasions like this. Having seen supes do press work on several occasions, Starlight seemed familiar in that it was definitely a bit forced. Then again, it was hard for Mags to hear anyone spout out obvious Vought rhetoric without it seeming insincere. Although, there was something different about her than most of the other supes they had seen. Maybe Starlight really was genuinely interested in meeting with the team. Mags would have to pay closer attention.

Mags grinned as Starlight turned to face them. “It’s great to meet you too Starlight. We’re all honored.” They said equally committed to their team enjoying the day as much as they could. “I’m Wild Thing, team leader, and my team definitely has some questions for you.” They said looking out at their team. Mags looked at one of their team members and nodded. 

“Aside from fighting crime and saving people, what do you like most about being in the Seven?” One of the team members asked.

It was a good question, and, while Mags had definitely heard rumors of what it was like with the Seven, but they had never really spoken with a member long enough to really ask a question like that and get a good answer.

@MATT

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Everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly, which was honestly the best thing that one could hope for when it came to one of these meet and greets. Starlight tried to put her best foot forward, as she would extend her hand out to shake. “I will try to answer as best as I can,” she said with a slight chuckle, her hand on her hips, as she considered the question. Well, that was not a loaded question at all for sure…

But she still had her public image to maintain, as she answered. “What I love most about being in the Seven is to be out there inspiring people, through our example.” It was a safe, corporate friendly answer, given that some of the Vought people were in the room as well. Indeed, it was an okayish answer, but she hoped that they’d accept it.

Overall, she thought maybe they could do with some expansion of that comment. “Having that team structure to support you is also very good, and what’s more important to me personally is how being in the Seven helps prepare you for being a better hero.” There…that was a backhanded compliment, but one she hoped the Vought people wouldn’t catch, as it only appeared complimentary on the surface. She nodded and smiled to Mags, wondering if they’d figure the tone.

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Mags had never met Starlight. She had joined the Seven well after Mags had left mainstream supe life, and, even when they hadn’t, the two of them travelled in vastly different circles. So, it had been a little difficult for Mags to get a bead on what was genuine and what was for Vought. The first part of her answer was definitely for Vought’s benefit. They guessed it was probably written by the same guy who did Homelander’s “You’re the real heroes,” line. It was all part of the job.

The second part of her answer did seem a bit…off script. Something about her wording when she said being part of a the team that “helps prepare” her to be a better hero, her tone too. Could she have read their file? Maybe their experiences haven’t been very different. “Well, this team definitely knows how being part of a team can make them better heroes…” Mags started, looking out at her team seeing the faces of people who were simply happy to be where they were before eventually returning to meet Starlight’s gaze. “myself included.” They nodded at Starlight in return.

“Who else has a question for Starlight?” Mags asked their team.

Another young supe eagerly raised a hand. “Can you tell us anything about what interviewing for the Seven was like?” Obviously a supe with hilariously big aspirations and a bit too unaware how unobtainable they were.

Mags looked at Starlight with a somewhat worried look. They knew exactly how astronomical the odds were that anyone on their team would ever end up in the Seven, but they didn’t want any of them to be aware of it, not at their age at least. Mags didn’t want any of them to get their hopes up either. Mags’ hoped, if anything, their expression conveyed that to Starlight, a plea for her not to get the supe’s hopes up but not to crush their spirit either.

A tall order, if there ever was one.

@MATT

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It was true that part of her speech was scripted, but so far Vought liked it that way. So long as it didn’t raise any fuss or eyebrows, the safe way was usually what they sprung for in these sorts of speeches. She smiled back at Mags and the others in a noncommittal, bland way, maybe such as the one reserved for celebrities when they met with the public.

She sighed, holding herself back as she remembered that time…well, she had no choice but to lie. Vought handlers everywhere, as she turned back to face the others. No doubt there were other ears than just these in here listening. “Interviewing for the Seven is like interviewing for any job really…but on a bigger scale. These are the top heroes in the world, and you really have to show them that you’re up to the task.”

She really was making this shit up as she went along, but she could sense the cameras eyes on her even now. Maybe that was enough to guarantee her safety. Maybe. She knew Homelander was still sort of ‘tight’ with Deep for now anyway. “The key to interviewing for the Seven, and for any hero team in general…build up your resume. Or your portfolio if you’re a solo hero. Get visibility by saving people, stopping bad guys, that sort of thing.” Rather generic advice maybe, but that would bail her out for now.

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Mags nodded along, a fairly standard answer for a question like that. It reminded them of when they were interviewing for their old team. They were happy with the way the meeting had been going so far. Sure, Starlight’s answers were probably more for Vought’s benefit than their team’s, but she was at least being professional about it. Mags was thankful it had been Starlight the team met, having heard rumors of why The Deep had been transferred to a different state.

“Alright, any other questions for Starlight? I think we have time for one more.” Mags said, glancing back over at the team. They watched as another team member raised their hand and began asking a question.

“Which of the Seven do you think you work with the best?” They asked. It was an innocent enough question about Starlight’s professional relationships with her teammates. Little did any of the Super Pals know, the team dynamics of the Seven were anything but simple. The question had piqued Mags’ interest as well. They had always been curious of what it was like to work as a part of the Seven. Given the wording of Starlight’s answer to the first question she was asked that day, Mags wondered whether or not her answer to this question would carry the same potential subtext.

@MATT

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It was surprisingly easy to go along with things like this…when potentially people were eavesdropping on her every word. Annie really hated how fake she had to be in public sometimes, but it was necessary to maintain the peace, fragile and false although it was. She nodded to the others as the assistant would ask if anyone had any other questions. That last one- she froze at it.

She quickly ran through the options, as she kept her fake smile plastered. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the assistant’s raised eyes, no doubt writing down whatever she picked. Ah hell, this was going to be a disaster wasn’t it? “I like to think that the Seven work best as a cohesive team, that we play upon each other’s strengths to try to bring all of us up at the same time,” she said finally.

It was a diplomatic, if safe answer, as she really didn’t want to risk anyone’s egos getting hurt. Well, not that she thought Maeve would care, but Deep and A-train…that might not ring so true, and she was sure that saying anything about Homelander right now was a very bad idea. At least, that was the vibe she got. Maybe it was better to be safe than sorry? She didn’t know, as she sighed. “I do believe that I am closest to Queen Maeve. Girls get it done, you know?” Ah hell, why not just sell the lie.

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It was definitely a more diplomatic answer. Mags could understand the need to maintain a degree of impartiality, especially in a team like the Seven. Supe teams were often mired with internal politics and favoritism from the leadership. Mags’ old team certainly was, and they had no reason to believe the Seven was any different.

“Well, Starlight. On behalf of the team I’d like to say thank you very much for meeting with us.” Mags said to Starlight before turning over to face their team. “Sit tight, everyone. We’ll be leaving in just a little bit.”

Mags had questions of their own for Starlight, ones they though were better asked away from the team. Walking over to Starlight, Mags leaned in and quietly asked, “Is there a place here we can talk? There’s actually something I’d like to ask you myself, if you have the time.” They said with a heavily implied “where no one else can listen in” in their tone. Mags hoped that Starlight would be able to answer a question that they had wondered since before they were transferred out of Detroit.

@MATT

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Starlight had plenty experience in being diplomatic, especially here, where being Diplomatic could be essential to her very survival. She smiled broadly, as it appeared the question and answer and meet and greet was almost over.  Even if she understood this was a contractual obligation, she did want to provide a memorable experience, and so far, everyone had behaved themselves pleasantly enough.

She was already preparing to wave goodbye, as she noticed one of the others walking towards her. Tensing for a second, she raised an eyebrow as she heard him out. This could be either creepy or something altogether different. Still, it was not as if Starlight was not able to handle herself, so she allowed him to speak his piece, see what he had to say. “Sure, there’s another room just adjacent-“

It was a room close enough she could call for assistance if needed, but again she was quite capable of defending herself. As she walked in, she looked around for a second, before she turned her head to him. Hands on her hips, she had a somewhat serious expression on her face. “Well. You have a few minutes. Say what you came to say.” Indeed, she was giving some bit of her time here on what may very well turn out to be nothing.

Edited by MATT
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Mags nodded as they followed Starlight into the adjacent room. They had little to no knowledge of the kind of surveillance system that Vought Tower had, but they had saw no reason to doubt Starlight’s judgement. It wasn’t long after they entered the room that the media-friendly demeanor faded away, leaving a supe with very little time to entertain nonsense.

“That first question, you said being part of the Seven helped you be a better hero. Would you be willing to elaborate on that?” Their request was direct and concise. There was no point in wasting time if Mags picked up on a subtext that wasn’t actually there.

“I don’t know if you read my file or anything, but if you were trying say what I think you were trying to say…you and I may have had similar experiences on supe teams.” It was a coin toss. Mags didn’t want to go into what happened too much if they didn’t have to. They decided to hold back until Starlight responded.

@MATT

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Starlight could be very serious when the need arose, and today was no different, as her brow furrowed. She listened to what he had to say… mulling it over. They were out of range of earshot of some parties…but not all, she knew well enough to know that. Still… she’d say as much, that she did think they were at least reasonably safe. “Yes…it did. Think of it as a learning experience. Trial by fire.”

That was one way to put it. She remembered her first experience with the Deep, and that had been enough for her. What made it worse was that had been how she had lost her innocent view of the world, seeing the world the way it was. She felt her eyes flicker up to meet his, as she thought back to his file. She did recall it, at least flipping through it.

“Look. I’ll give you this piece of advice that I wish someone had told me. Always make sure you know what’s going on around you at all times- even inside your team.” That was for sure, as she’d found that out the hard way. She could only hope that others did not have to go through the same thing that she did. It was a rough world out there though… she couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen- or couldn’t happen to anyone else.

 

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Posted (edited)

Trial by fire…it had quite been Mags’ experience. Theirs was definitely more of a slow burn, though the result was certainly dramatic. They nodded as they were given advice. In actuality, that advice would have proven more useful before they joined their old team. “Thanks, the team I was on before this definitely taught me the importance of staying vigilant, but I think if I ever decide to go back to serious supe work, I’ll be going solo. Right now, the only people I care about being a hero to are waiting for me back in that conference room.”

At the moment, the Super Pals were their only priority. In the few years since Mags was sent to Staten Island. The team had become what Mags had wished their first team would have been, like a second family. Living with them, leading them, it changed Mags. It has helped remind them what it was like to look out for someone beyond simply doing a job.

“It’s funny…some of those kids remind me so much of the kind of person I used to be before getting recruited to my old team. They want nothing more than to be on a team like I was, like you are, and all I want to do is keep them as far away from that shit as possible.” They looked away and signed, crossing their arms before looking back at Starlight.

“I’ll never forgive Vought for what I went through, but if any of those kids have to go through the same thing, I’d…” they stopped, as if to hold back what they would have said, remembering how many ears the walls probably have. “I’m afraid of what I might do.”

@MATT

Edited by John
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Mags seemed to be taking the advice in stride, which was good. Starlight sighed, as she nodded along. “If you’re going through with a team, it’s always better to be in front of a team you trust, and behind a team you don’t,” Starlight said, once again very carefully. Homelander- if he was listening, was probably too dumb to understand that one. At least she was hoping, for her own sake, as she heard his next piece.

“Then if that’s what you want to be, a role model, then explain to them upfront what the life is like. Don’t exaggerate it…or they’ll find out on their own.” Again that was more than blunt, but she figured that was something that most would learn sooner or later, what this life was really like. Some might think it was glamorous and exciting, and sometimes it was. However, sometimes it could also be a royal pain in the butt, and she knew that annoying that was to find out, when you couldn’t easily get out.

She turned, almost expecting to see someone from Vought come in just as he said this- they were both on the same page about this, she was glad to see at least. She wouldn’t say or do anything publicly, but she did feel a certain amount of sympathy for him. Vought did terrible things to people, she’d seen that firsthand. Maybe even she might say that she was the number one example of what they did…

Either way, she was determined to at least send the kid off with something. “Just…be careful. These are serious people, and they don’t screw around.” Her words were serious and frank now, no longer in the bubbly and Public relations type tone that she might have already gotten used to using with the public. But she wanted to be sure that this person got the message, because she wished someone had told her that when she started.

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