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Dreams of Tomorrow (Worm/Supergirl)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Rapidfyrez, Jan 11, 2021.

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  1. Threadmarks: Arrival 1.1
    Rapidfyrez

    Rapidfyrez Getting sticky.

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    Arrival 1.1
    I woke up falling from several thousand feet in the air and on fire. That was a new one.

    Adrenaline surged and I jerked out of my stupor in a flailing tangle of limbs. My mind raced as I desperately tried to understand what was going on, how I had wound up like this, and most importantly, how I was going to survive it. The wind roared in my ears even as I swung around to face the rapidly approaching ground. I spread my arms and legs and practically halted as air slammed into my larger surface area.

    My head jerked forward and as if a switch had been flipped, memories came rushing back to me. My name was Kara Zor-El, I was one of the last Kryptonians alive, and I had superpowers that let me fly and protected me from harm. So falling from the sky while on fire wasn’t exactly as life-threatening as it might otherwise have been. Somehow, this didn’t ease the pounding terror in my chest.

    No lie, I was more than a bit scared and distressed at the whole situation; any rational person would be. But, I had been knocked out of the sky on more occasions than I would like to admit. I knew what to do, I’d done it a million times before.

    There was a… feeling, a sense of weightlessness that I felt whenever I took flight. Like that feeling you get when a roller coaster drops, but with none of the anxiety. My cousin, Kal-El, described the feeling as joy made manifest, which sounded like that human story of Peter Pan to me. That didn’t make it any less accurate though.

    I focused on that feeling, let it bubble up and fill my every being, and smirked with satisfaction. My descent quickly slowed to a stop until I hung suspended in the air by invisible wires. The rapid slowing had done little to soothe the flames chewing at the edge of my clothes, so I spent a few minutes patting those out until I was left steaming and covered in a fine layer of soot.

    The edges of the long blue sleeves were singed, the fabric of my top several shades darker now. My chest insignia, a red stylized S against a background of gold had lost its sheen, and my red skirt and boots were totally ruined now.

    Dang, that was my favorite costume too. I didn’t even want to imagine what that fire had done to my blonde hair.

    My powers seemed to be working fine though, which was good. I wouldn’t have to worry about cratering the poor city below me with my impact. I scanned the cityscape spread out before me, trying to get a feel for where I was. The geography was unfamiliar, but I recognized the architecture. Glimmering skyscrapers rose high into the air, well maintained streets, and a large crowded freeway leading in and out of the city. I was vaguely reminded of Metropolis, but the architecture lacked what many called the ‘neo-sci-fi’ aesthetic the city had adopted in recent years. Judging by the large body of water on one side of the city and the sun, I was possibly on the East Coast, though I couldn’t be sure.

    This did little to narrow down the list of potential locations.

    A particularly tall skyscraper caught my eye, and I descended towards its roof with practiced grace. I scanned its roof as it rose up to meet me and saw no sign of anyone standing atop it. What few cameras my microscopic vision picked up were angled around the helicopter pad itself, so I would be afforded a little privacy while I gathered my senses. It was as good a landing spot as any, and I’d be less likely to worry people here than I would in the streets below. Even after years of living with metahumans, seeing someone fall out of the sky would still startle the average person.

    When I touched down, I was surprised when one of my legs gave out and I fell on one knee, only barely catching myself with my hand to avoid face planting. The concrete of the landing pad was hot against my hand, and scraped at my skin, but I felt no pain from it. My powers were working fine, but there was an ever present exhaustion hanging from my shoulders, as though I’d just gone ten rounds with Darkseid and gotten up for round eleven. As gravity pulled at me, my joints ached and my muscles protested my every move; it was only the warm glow of the sun that countered this fatigue, and I lifted my head to its rays and soaked in its energy even as my mind continued to race. Though my body was worn, my mind felt fresh and well rested, if confused.

    Was it a failed assasination attempt?

    An indirect missile assault wasn’t exactly an unheard of idea. In fact, that sounded exactly like something that Luthor would try to pull, though his scheming was usually reserved for my cousin. I put a hand to my chest at the thought of my cousin, tracing a line over the symbol plastered across it. To the average human, it might have looked like a stylized S, but to me it was more than that. One of the last signs of my people, a symbol that literally stood for hope, and one of the few connections between myself and my cousin beyond our blood.

    My cousin.

    Kal-El, Superman. Some called him the greatest hero on Earth, the Man of Tomorrow. I knew him as the last of my family, my guide on Earth, and a total dork. If something had happened, he would show up to help me. Even when I didn’t want or need his help, he had a habit of showing up anyway just to check on me. He was annoying like that.

    I shook my head, there would be a time for reminiscing later, until I had a better idea of my situation. First, I had to see if there were any more follow up attacks to look out for. Given that I had been given time to land and recover my senses without being pummeled, I felt I was safe, but it never hurt to check. A quick skyward glance showed nothing more than a jetliner flying overhead. Focusing my expansive hearing, I heard nothing out of the ordinary either, just the sounds of the city at work.

    That meant it was time for step two of my ‘figure out what in Rao’s name was going on’ plan. Figure out what city I was in, and that was easy enough to solve. I could, of course, have flown to the city limits and found a sign for an answer, but the easier option was to simply ask the people on the streets below.

    A quick push of my legs and I easily leaped from the roof and gently fell to the streets below. I made sure to control my descent, even as the wind caught at my skirt and cape, brushing some of the ash from it. A few people on the streets came to a stop and gawked as I landed in the middle of the sidewalk in front of them and put on a friendly smile.

    “Hi there,” I waved, “Sorry for bothering you, but can anyone tell me what city I’m in? I’m a little lost and would like to know where I wound up.”

    One of them, a thin woman with short hair, managed to find her voice, “H-Houston, miss. Houston, Texas.”

    That broke the spell, and the street exploded into the sort of chaos that was inevitable in situations like these. I was immediately barraged with a series of blunt and fast questions so fast I was at risk of a concussion from them hitting me over the head with them.

    “Are you a new member of the Protectorate!?”

    “What’s Eidolon like?”

    “Have you ever fought an Endbringer?”

    “What’s your name?”

    I took a few steps back, maintaining my friendly smile and answering their questions as they came.

    “No.”

    “Can’t say.”

    “Maybe?”

    “Supergirl.”

    At the same time, my mind raced. Their questions and confusion at the sight of me raised a possibility that I had not considered; but I needed proof first. I excused myself from their questions as quickly as I could, and took off into the air to the crowd's disappointment. I slowly picked up speed as I went, the horizon turning into a blur of glass and steel and concrete before the early morning horizon replaced them. Once I was comfortably sure I was a safe distance away, I let loose and shattered the sound barrier in an instant.

    When I had first arrived on Earth, I had practiced and learned how to navigate my new home as quickly as possible, first by map and then by following the Earth’s magnetic sphere. When I was traveling between cities this made it easier for me to keep an idea of where I was in relation to North and South. Once I got close enough to a city, I could usually find their exact location thanks to their radio waves. Electromagnetic vision was one of my lesser known but certainly no less useful abilities.

    Combined with the incredible super speed of my flight, it was no challenge crossing vast distances that to a normal person would take hours or days to cross in a car. The landscape rushed by miles beneath me, nothing but a blur of greens and browns. Mountains passed as tiny and small as ant hills, and cities sprawled before me like gray blots on the land before quickly vanishing. Faster and faster I flew forward to Metropolis.

    My suspicions were confirmed as I came to where I knew the city should be. I had flown to it hundreds of times, I knew where Metropolis was and what the surrounding area looked like. Yet I found no sign of the city; not the Daily Planet, not STAR Labs, and no sign of my cousin. The land itself where the city would be was barren, nonexistent.

    I felt a bubble of anxiety at the back of my throat. I couldn’t accept the obvious truth in front of me, not yet. I needed more proof, to test my theory more thoroughly before coming to a conclusion. That thought in mind, I rocketed across the Continental United States, faster than any aircraft built by man. For nearly an hour I searched every corner of the country, and came to a frustrating conclusion. Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, Coast City, and even Star City had no presence here on Earth. Correction, no presence on this Earth. I was in an alternate dimension, an alternate Earth of some kind.

    I reeled at this conclusion while hanging in the upper Mesosphere and watching the planet slowly spin beneath me. This was not the first time (and knowing my luck, far from the last) that I had been sent to an alternate Earth. Barry Allen, the Flash, could visit them whenever he wished and I had been to more than my fair share of them. But I had always had a way home in the form of Barry. Without him I was, well, stuck waiting for rescue, which didn’t sit well with me. Rao knew Kal would never let me live this down when they did finally find me, and that was a conversation neither of us would enjoy.

    This was going nowhere, so I assembled my thoughts again and focused on what I knew so far: I was stuck on an alternate Earth, my cousin and I did not exist here, meta humans did seem to exist, and I had no way of knowing if my friends and family back home knew I was missing. I reached into the utility belt wrapped around my skirt and checked for whatever supplies I might have had on me. An emergency Kryptonian shelter crystal, a watchtower communicator, emergency sonic emitters, several hundred dollars in emergency cash, the glasses I wore when in my secret identity, and some very basic first aid supplies. Not much to work with aside from that crystal, the cash especially was going to be useless on an alternate Earth.

    I folded my arms and rubbed my chin. More information was what I needed about this Earth before I could really do anything. No way was I going to just fly about blindly until I came across something useful. Well, um, not anymore anyway. To quote a certain pointy eared jerk, I needed to gather more intel before I made my next move.

    So with that in mind, I descended back to the Earth and towards a different city. It was probably safer to lay low away from Houston. I knew nothing about this Protectorate or Eidolon that those people had mentioned, and didn’t want to make them angry on accident if I could avoid it.
    Instead I descended on a small northeastern city, a fair bit north of Boston. Compared to Houston, this city showed its age. Most of its buildings, barring a few obvious recent additions, were at least two or three decades old, blocky and plain compared to their sleek modern counterparts. It was built along the coast, a large bay opening up to the ocean, though a graveyard of abandoned cargo ships blocked off most of it. There was a very modern and beautifully designed oil rig that rested at the mouth of the bay, and peering at it with my electromagnetic vision, I could see odd energies dancing around it. If I were a betting girl, that was probably where the local super geniuses and meta humans had set up shop. Common rule of alternate Earth’s, if there are metahumans, there are always super geniuses.

    As I scanned the city, I felt an acute sense of deja vu that took me a moment to place, and then it hit me. This city reminded me far too much of Gotham. The odd mix of modern and old buildings, the obviously abandoned industry, and the painfully obvious disconnect between the upper and lower class neighborhoods were all too common to Batman’s home city. Maybe there was a possibility that we did have counterparts in this world, simply under different names. It was possible I had jumped to conclusions; I needed to be sure though.

    It wasn’t hard finding a local charity that had free clothes for the homeless or less fortunate. In my current situation I couldn’t afford to be picky, so with a bit of super speed I swiped some plain shirts and pants that fit me well enough and changed into them. It wasn’t the perfect disguise, but thankfully I had the key advantage of not existing on this planet. Add a ratty old hoody and the holotech in my glasses that changed my hair color, and no one would ever connect Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, with mild-mannered Linda Danvers.

    I changed in a nearby alley faster than the human eye could see, and slipped out onto the sidewalk. My disguise was more than just old clothes and a visit to the hair stylist however; I made sure to pull the hood up over my head, and jammed my hands into its pockets as I walked. Finally, I kept my head down and my eyes pointed at the ground. Human or kryptonian, this body language was as unassuming and unlike my usual self as was possible outside of physically changing my face. There was no way anyone would connect me to my secret identity now, which meant I could move about the city in peace without drawing stares.

    My first stop was a local library; I needed to catch up on as much history as I could on the state of affairs in this alternate Earth before I did something stupid or offended someone important. My little survey of the US showed at least this wasn’t one of those alternate Earth’s where the Russians had won the Cold War or the Nazi’s had conquered the world, but that didn’t narrow things down by much. I needed more information.

    There were several local library’s in this city, and thankfully the one I found was as unassuming as I was. It was built practically which is to say plainly. A brick edifice with a large metal roof that extended into an awning over the front entrance with the words ‘Brockton Bay Public Library’ printed along its side. I pushed open a pair of clear glass doors and stepped inside, ignoring the shattered window next to them covered only by a paper sheet and duct tape. Judging by the fraying, it had been in such a state for a few months at least. The fact that even a library was in such poor condition, did not say great things about the state of this city.

    Inside was, at the very least, clean and presentable. The entrance opened into a reception desk placed before a wall that broke off into two directions, one labelled ‘fiction’ and the other ‘non fiction’. The lady at the front desk barely paid me any attention, as did the few folk inside. I made sure not to draw attention to myself as I hung a right towards the non-fiction section and went looking for the history books.

    There were computers behind the reception wall between the two halves of the library, but when I needed to learn something quickly, a normal human computer couldn’t possibly keep up with my speed. Even with books I had to be careful about tearing and not setting the pages on fire, but as long as I was careful, it was faster than a computer by quite the margin.

    I found the history section tucked away in a corner of the library, and set to work. Under different circumstances I would have checked out the most interesting books and read them somewhere more private. That wasn’t really an option since I didn’t have my library card on me… and didn’t exist in this universe. So I settled for skim reading instead, flipping through pages at a frightening rate.

    Learning more about this world, this Earth, was more than just pure pragmatism. I was genuinely interested in where I had ended up, the people that lived here and the culture that had developed. The one regret I had about staying on Earth as Supergirl was that I was unable to explore the rest of the galaxy at will. More than anything, I wanted to catalogue and record and to see life moving in action. Problem always had been that I couldn’t stay out of a problem if I thought I could help. But maybe that wasn’t the case here, maybe this Earth I could sit by as a passive observer. Sit and learn as the world moved by under its own power and I waited for my family and friends to find me.
    I was far too optimistic.

    Monsters and maniacs, persecution and plagues, with every turn of the page my heart broke just a little more. For the innocents caught under the foot of those that would abuse their power, for those that tried and failed to fight in their defense, and for the remaining few that could only sit and watch as their own world was consumed in fire.

    My home, my Earth, was not a peaceful place, not by a country mile, as Kal would say. But there was a sense of slow and steady progress, a sense that things could get better and would. When evil rose, good met its challenge head on. With each book I finished in that library, I felt the opposite was true on this alternate Earth. Here, there was no hope for a better future. Only a hope that the next day wouldn’t be their last.

    Admittedly, I may have been a bit overdramatic. My own unique situation, combined with the obvious bias that arises from reading a stream of bad news likely blinded me to any positive alternatives. At the same time though, when one reads history and finds only pain and suffering, perhaps that says as much about the world as it does about the outlook someone would develop from reading that.

    Regardless of hindsight, at the time I felt my composure fail me as I read. The latest book shook in my hands and I expended some actual effort to keep from accidentally ripping it from my tremors. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and to pull my perspective back in line. This was after all, not a time for reckless action.

    That was when my enhanced hearing, which I had wrangled and kept under control for most of my impromptu history lesson, escaped my control and heard a lone voice amongst the sea of traffic and life that was a common city. A voice calling out, no, screaming one word.

    “Help me! Please, won’t anybody help me for the love of god!”

    The book slammed shut with an audible thud, and I was out of the library before it finished resting back on the shelf, trailing papers and dust in my wake. Down the nearest alley I went, leaving a trail of old clothes in my wake. Linda Danvers could not help today, but Supergirl could!

    Up, up and away I went, taking to the sky in a single bound and rising high above the city. The wind tore at my cape and hair with the ferocity only a coastal city could manage, blinding me. Up above the city, above Brockton Bay, I could hear a cacophony of crimes being carried out. With my enhanced senses I could focus on them with inhuman speed and precision.

    At the opposite end of the city, a couple was being harassed by a pair of muggers, calling help from the nearby street. I was relieved to see several civilians do just that, chasing the men off before they could hurt anyone else. Farther away, I saw a shootout coming to a close, a police officer arresting a pair of looters that had attacked a Chinese antiques shop. Along the coast, a shoplifter ran from an electronics store, only for a kid in a grey uniform covered in clocks to freeze him in time with a touch. I saw this repeat several times across the city. Though for every crime committed, someone was there to stop it, there was a staggering volume of them that weren’t.

    So many, no one could hear the lone girl screaming for a savior in the dingy halls of an old high school. I focused on her, on this girl and her cries for help, and picked out her near exact location. A high school bordering the decrepit and abandoned side of the city, aged and nearly forgotten like many of the buildings near it. The air shuddered as I took off like a shot and headed straight for Winslow High.

    I made sure not to burst through the front doors of the school, as the halls were crowded with students making their way to the next period. Everyone stopped and all eyes snapped to me when I flung the doors open and strode inside. I kept focused on why I was here, barely paying the stares any mind as students parted before me.

    The inside of Winslow was as dilapidated and rotten as the outside. Mismatching lockers, poorly cleaned floors, walls covered in the decay of time and apathy. A cursory glance of my x-ray vision showed at least thirteen students with knives hidden on their persons, and nearly twice as many carrying some sort of illegal drug in their backpacks. If I were to guess, I imagined that Winslow was likely a breeding ground for the local gangs, a pool filled with a steady supply of fresh recruits. I filed that detail away as I strode toward through the halls.

    I smelled the victim before I actually saw her, a putrid stench that made my stomach churn. It came from a locker surrounded by a small crowd of students; most of them were silent, a few were chuckling and taking video footage. I took a deep breath and repressed my urge to tell them off. You didn’t need super hearing to hear the poor girl locked inside the locker begging for help.

    “Step aside please,” I said as I approached. A few students turned with words of protest on their lips. Those protests died when they saw me in full costume, and they hurriedly stepped aside.

    The lockered shuddered again as the girl trapped inside banged frantically against the door. “Please, let me out!”

    I put a hand on the locker door and peered through its slits to see a pair of panicked brown eyes behind it. My heart went out to the poor girl, even as I reached for the lock keeping her trapped.

    “Everything’s going to be alright now, miss. Just calm down and I’ll have you out of there no problem.” I kept my voice as calm as I spoke. The entire time, I made sure not to break eye contact with the girl.

    “Please…” she whimpered.

    With a snap of metal, I ripped off the lock and opened the door. A deluge of rotting food, feminine hygiene products and other material I didn’t want to name came flooding out onto the floor and my boots. Along with the skinny frame of a terrified teenage girl, shaking like a leaf as she fell into my arms.

    I held her gently, ignoring the filth covering us both and gently eased her onto the floor away from the filth. My voice remained calm as I crooned to her, “It’s okay, you’re free now. No one else is going to hurt you, miss.”

    She was tall and skinny, her pale skin covered in the filthy that had filled her locker. A pair of broken glasses rested on her nose, though thankfully her eyes looked unharmed. I could not say the same about the rest of her. A cursory scan with my x-ray and microscopic vision showed that she was already showing signs of infection along her wounds. Both knees were covered in deep, skin shearing scrapes padded with muck of her prison, and bruising along the knee-caps. One palm of her hand had a deep long cut along it, letting blood dribble down her forearm, and she had torn off the fingernails on both hands in her attempt to get free. This did not stop her from desperately grabbing at my offered hand and holding on with a death grip.

    Her large brown eyes never left my face, even as she silently started mouthing the words ‘thank you’ over and over again. I smiled reassuringly at her, “You’re going to be okay, miss.”

    Then, I looked up at the students standing around us wide eyed with shock, and my gentle calm was replaced with seething tranquil fury. I jabbed a finger at the first person I saw, a short girl with a slim frame and brown hair.

    “You, call an ambulance. This girl needs medical attention as soon as possible, and a school nurse isn’t going to cut it.” I directed my gaze to the tall red-head standing beside her, “And you, inform the school staff of what happened here. Got it?”

    I used the Kal voice when I spoke to them, that firm tone of authority used in disaster situations. I had seen him put ruly generals in line, inspire hurricane victims, and turn lowly criminals onto a better path with that voice. Hopefully, my imitation had a similar effect. At the very least, the girls did as I said. The red head jumped when I ordered her and scurried off down the halls with what I assumed was her friend in close pursuit. The short girl pulled out a phone and made the call.

    With that handled, I turned my expression to the rest of students, “Don’t the rest of you have classes to go to? Unless one of you has a first-aid kit on you, get going. The situation is handled.”

    The crowd slowly dispersed, not before students started taking pictures of course, leaving me alone with the girl. I turned my attention fully back to her; poor thing’s trembling had only gotten worse since I freed her.

    “T-th-thank…” she croaked, before I shushed her.

    “Easy now, don’t strain yourself.” I said.

    Her lips trembled as she spoke, “Th-thank y-yo-you.”

    I smiled softly, “I was just passing by. Happy to help.”

    Her grip somehow tightened further on my hand; if I weren’t invulnerable, she might have broken something. “Please don’t go.” she begged.

    I put a gentle hand on her shoulder, “Miss, I’m not going anywhere.”

    “T-Taylor.” the girl stuttered, “Muh-my name i-is Taylor.”

    “You can call me Supergirl, and I’m not going anywhere, Taylor.” I promised her.

    -S-

    The paramedics arrived about ten minutes after I rescued Taylor from her locker. Given what I had seen so far, I was thankful they showed up at all. I stayed with the girl the entire time, even when the school principal briefly came out to see what was going on. The stern looking woman had made a lot of noise about finding the culprit responsible for what had happened, but I had very strong doubts about that; so did Taylor, if the expression on her face during that time was anything to go by.

    The principal thanked me for my service, which was the extent of our conversation before the paramedics arrived and moved Taylor onto a stretcher and wheeled her out to the ambulance. I followed behind for Taylor’s piece of mind; the poor girl was understandably rattled by the entire experience. A friendly face would probably do wonders for her.

    As they were about to lift her into the ambulance, she stopped them, “Wait… can Supergirl come?”

    The two EMTs looked at each other and then me. The thicker built of the two said, “Supergirl, eh? You working with New Wave or something?”

    “Something like that” I shrugged. No need to cause a stir.

    The man shrugged, “Eh, it's fine by me. This one should be fine once Panacea gets a look at her anyway. Hop in, super-chick.”

    I did as offered and sat by Taylor while keeping out of the way of EMT’s while they cleaned at her more obvious injuries. She smiled weakly at me and I returned the gesture as the ambulance rumbled to life and jerked forward.

    “Sorry...about your outfit.” she wheezed once we got moving.

    I looked down at my suit, now stained an ugly brown, and shrugged, “A couple dozen rounds in the washing machine should clean it fine. Besides, getting you out of that locker was a little more important, I think.”

    A funny look crossed her face while the EMT said, “If ya get any stains from it, some baking soda, warm water, and a good ol’toothbrush scrubbing should get it right out. Take it from me, best way to get a stain like that out.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.” I said, smiling again.

    Taylor winced as they started cleaning at the worst of her wounds, so I leaned forward with my hands on my knees and said, “So, Taylor. Do you have any hobbies?”

    She looked at me like I’d grown a second head. But if she was more confused by me instead of thinking about what she had just gone through, that was a net positive in my mind.

    “I...I like to read.” she said quietly. Admittedly everything she was saying was quiet; she had screamed her throat bloody and raw when she was trapped, and I had given up getting her to stop talking a while ago.

    I rested my chin on my hand, “Really? Read anything interesting lately? I could use some new material.”

    There it was, tiny and cautious, but a spark of genuine interest and excitement flickered in Taylor's eyes. “Well… ever read the Perry Johnson series?”
    -S-

    Thankfully, the local hospital was in far better condition than Winslow High was. It wasn’t a particularly noteworthy building, but at least it didn’t look like it was going to collapse in on itself at the slightest breeze. I was beginning to think that Brockton Bay wasn’t exactly the best city on Earth Bet.

    Despite this, the hospital wasn’t too crowded, and Taylor was cleaned and bandaged to the best of the staff's abilities. I was surprised when they didn’t stitch up their injuries, but from what I heard and saw when we reached the hospital, it apparently wasn’t necessary. There was a girl that volunteered at the hospital called Panacea, who’s power apparently let her heal any ailment in the body barring brain related injuries and illnesses. It seemed a little… Lazy to just bandage Taylors wounds and wait for this one hero to solve the issue, but given how frantic hospital work could be, I wasn’t too surprised at it either.

    The hospital staff were kind enough to let me borrow the staff showers and lend me some temporary scrubs while my costume was put through one of their industrial washers. Like the EMT’s, they seemed to assume I was a new member of the superhero team New Wave. I didn’t want to cause a scene, so I didn’t correct them while also remembering to apologize to the team if they found out about this.

    Once I was cleaned up, I asked for directions to Taylors room and made my way there. I found the girl in bed, her face a picture of ease if not peace. She did perk up when I walked inside though.

    I gestured at the scrubs I was wearing, “It’s a new costume, what do you think? It should strike terror into criminals, right?”

    Taylor laughed and immediately started coughing, “God, d-don’t make me laugh. It hurts to laugh.” she croaked.

    “Sorry, I was trying to lighten the mood. You’ve had a rough day.”

    “It could’ve been worse,” she sighed. “Thank you. Again.”

    I took a seat by her bed and smiled, “And you’re welcome. Again.”

    Taylor leaned back into her bed, “But… you have to have better things to do. I’m safe now, you can… leave, now.”

    Her lips were drawn tight as she said it. I shook my head, “My costume is in the wash for the next… forty minutes? I can stick around for a bit. At least until your parents get here.”

    Taylor opened her mouth and worked her jaw for a few seconds, but said nothing. Eventually she closed it and rested her head on the pillows with a more peaceful expression on her face. That piece didn’t last long though.

    The door opened and a mousy girl with frizzy brown hair and a face splattered with freckles walked in. She was dressed plainly, with a white robe worn over her clothes; a medics cross was on the chest and back and a scarf hung loosely around her neck. She paused when she saw me, “Oh, hello nurse.”

    The girl was about Taylor’s age, and had large bags under her eyes; she looked exhausted. I stood up from my chair and smoothed out my outfit, “Not a nurse, sorry. Just borrowing some spare clothes while my costume is in the wash.”

    Her eyes went wide at that, “Oh, so you’re the girl the doctors were talking about, claiming to be with New Wave.”

    I winced at that, “Sorry, everyone just assumed I was, and I didn’t want to cause a scene while Miss Hebert here needed medical attention.”

    “Hm, I bet.” the girl said, and took a deep breath to compose herself. Then she offered me a hand, “I’m Panacea, I’m with New Wave.”

    I took the offered hand and shook it, “Supergirl, I’m with… me, I guess.”

    Panacea flinched for when she shook my hand, but it was brief; my hands were a bit chilly from my shower earlier, so I shrugged it off. When I released her hand, she tapped her fingers together, “So-”

    “Where’s the chick claiming she’s with New Wave?” a voice demanded from outside.

    Panacea’s face fell and she pinched her nose, “Oh god, why…”

    I looked at the door with a wary expression, the voice sounded… oddly familiar, the tone that is. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but the inflection reminded me of my early days on Earth.

    “If they’re running around making random claims, that’s so uncool.” the voice continued, and the door opened, “I’ve got half a mind to- okay, what?”

    The girl that walked in looked disturbingly similar to me. I had met alternate counterparts before, but this girl was just different enough that the resemblance was uncanny. Her nose was a bit straighter than mine, her skin darker, and she was several inches shorter than me, but otherwise she looked like she could be my younger sister. Suddenly everyone’s confusion that I was with New Wave made a little more sense.

    Taylor said what I was thinking, “This day is just getting weirder and weirder.”

    Panacea’s head snapped up, “Right, patient! Sorry miss.” and rushed by me to tend to Taylor.

    The blonde girl tapped my shoulder and I turned back to her. She had a sheepish expression on her face, “So, not my best introduction, can we try again?”

    I smiled and held out my hand, “I’m Supergirl, you?”

    There was an expression of recognition on her face as she shook my hand, “Glory Girl. Or Victoria Dallon, either or; I don’t really ‘do’ the whole secret identity thing.”

    “Subtlety isn’t her strong suit.” Panacea said dryly from behind us.

    “That’s your job, sis!” said Glory Girl, her face in a relaxed grin now.

    Sister’s huh? I didn’t actually know too many super teams that had siblings or families in them back on my Earth. My relationship with Kal notwithstanding of course. I wondered if New Wave was a family organization, and added a note to my ever growing pile to do more research on the local scene in Brockton Bay.

    Glory Girl looked back at me, hands on her hips and her expression serious again, “So real talk, what’s the deal with claiming you’re with New Wave?”

    I shrugged, “Heat of the moment. The EMT’s assumed I was with you for...obvious reasons I guess. I didn’t know who you guys were, but I didn’t want to cause a fuss while Taylor still needed to see a doctor?”

    Her expression softened at that, “Right, I heard about that. Something about a locker prank gone wrong?”

    “Some monster trapped her in a locker full of rotting trash and used feminine products. That’s why I’m cosplaying as a nurse; it got all over my costume when I let her out.” I explained.

    Glory Girl looked past me at Taylor. I followed her gaze and was pleasantly surprised to see that she was already looking significantly better. Her skin had taken a healthier color and her hands were free of their bandages and good as new. Taylor was experimentally flexing them and looking at them with an expression of awe.

    “I am sorry, Miss Hebert,” Panacea said, “But I can’t actually release you until your parents get here to sign you out. Its standard procedure for minors.”

    Taylors expression deflated, “My dad should be here soon, assuming the school called him.”

    I walked up next to her bed rubbing my chin, “What’s your dad look like, Taylor?”

    She paused for a moment before describing him to me, “Tall and skinny like me, thin head of brown, wide eyes and glasses like me. Probably dressed for office work; he’s with the dock workers union.”

    I scanned around the room in the general direction of where Winslow High was located. Finding someone at random in a city was next to impossible, even with super speed. But if I could narrow it down to a specific area, finding someone wasn’t too hard…

    “Ah, there he is. He’s at Winslow right now, screaming his head off at your principal. I’d give him another twenty minutes before he gets here.” I turned back to see all three girls openly gawking at me.

    Right, that could be weird to some people if they didn’t know about my super senses. I tapped the side of my eye and said, “I have super senses. X-ray and Microscopic vision, super hearing, etc. I figured your dad was either on his way here or at the school, so that made it easy to narrow things down.”

    Yet more gawking; Glory Girl was the first to shake herself of it, and clamped a hand on my shoulder, “Dibs. I call dibs.”

    I stared at her, “Dibs?”

    “Dibs.” Glory Girl replied solemnly, before breaking out into a grin and explaining. “You totally have to join New Wave. You run around without hiding your secret identity, you have a crazy cool power, and you’re a matching blonde. You’d be a perfect fit.”
    Panacea sighed, which seemed like something she did a lot around her sister, “Vicky, you can’t just claim dibs on someone.”

    “Then consider it an invitation to New Wave.” Glory Girl said, “We’re always looking for new members.”

    I gently pulled her hand off my shoulder, “I appreciate the offer, I really do. But I’d like to weigh my options before I joined any team.”

    “Fair enough I guess,” Glory Girl said, “You should at least meet the rest of New Wave though.”

    “Probably,” I agreed, and added, “But not until Taylor’s father gets here. I promised I’d stick around until her dad got here.”

    I smiled at Taylor, “And I have a habit of keeping my promises.”

    It was a night and day difference, how quickly the girl had turned around since I rescued her. While she had withdrawn into herself when Glory Girl had arrived, she looked so much healthier and stable than she had been. It wasn’t a fair comparison of course, but it made me happy to see my efforts hadn’t gone to waste.

    “You don’t have to stick around.” she said softly.

    “Yeah, but my clothes are in the wash, I’ve got time to kill.” I grabbed another chair from the wall and brought it beside the hospital bed, “Besides, you haven’t finished telling me about that Perry Johnson series.”

    Panacea perked up, “Isn’t that the book series that puts Norse mythology in the modern day?”

    “Oh boy, here we go.” Glory Girl playfully rolled her eyes before grabbing a chair and sitting down.

    Already, Taylor and Panacea had launched into a conversation discussing the merits of the series and its accuracy to the myths it was based on. I couldn’t help but smile as the conversation took off.

    It was only a small step, but it was a step in the right direction.
     
  2. Threadmarks: Arrival 1.2
    Rapidfyrez

    Rapidfyrez Getting sticky.

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    Arrival 1.2

    Mr. Hebert bore more than a passing resemblance to his daughter. Tall, thin, and wide eyed, and filled with that same frantic energy that Taylor seemed to possess. Of course, that was probably a result of the unfortunate circumstances that the poor girl had found herself in. It was hard to blame the man when he practically burst into the hospital room, demanding to see his daughter.

    I don’t think he quite expected to see her sitting in a hospital bed, surrounded by three superheroes with a smile on her face. A smile that faltered a little when she saw her father. I made a note to keep an eye on the man.

    “Taylor, you’re… oh thank God you’re okay.” the man sighed. Glory Girl and Panacea skirted away from Taylor and let her father run up and wrap her up in a tight hug.

    The girl didn’t seem afraid of her father's physical presence at least. She seemed more surprised by it than anything else. That was… better, but only marginally. After a moment's embrace, her father pulled back and brushed a string of hair out of Taylors face with his thumb.

    “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here sooner, the principal called about what happened, but didn’t tell me they had already taken you to the hospital until I got there.” There was an angry tone in his voice, and I didn’t blame him, though I was hardly surprised. Winslow didn’t come across as a safe and sane establishment.

    “It’s okay dad.” Taylor said; her voice had softened significantly from the giggling mess she had been minutes earlier when talking with the three of us.

    Mr. Hebert shook his head, “No, no it’s not. You were in trouble and I wasn’t here to…” his jaw tightened and he shook his head, before changing the subject, “I brought you a change of clothes. And I managed to convince those idiots at your school to give you until the first half of next week off to recover. There’s going to be an investigation into this, so if you know anything about who could’ve done this…”

    Taylors face twisted into one of loathing and spite, “I know exactly who did it, and I know for a fact that nothing we do will get them in trouble for what they did.”

    Her father’s face grew concerned, “Taylor, that’s not true-”

    “Yes it is!” Taylor yelled, “I’ve been dealing with them for two years. Every time I’ve talked to the staff it’s been the same answer, ‘we’ll look into it Miss Hebert, don’t you worry’. And then nothing happens and they come after me even fiercer than before, it’s… it’s not worth the trouble dad.”

    Poor girl looked like she was on the edge of tears.

    I put a hand on Taylor’s shoulder, unable to stand in the background any longer. She looked up at me with surprise. I smiled and said, “You have to keep trying, though. What they did today, if I hadn’t been there Taylor, you could’ve been seriously injured or worse. The people that did that to you might not get the justice they deserve even if you cooperate and report them. But if you sit back and do nothing, then you’re guaranteeing they won’t. You need to draw a line somewhere, or else they’ll keep doing this until you really do break.”

    Her expression grew more cynical, “That’s easy to say when you’re not the one that’s been dealing with it.”

    “I’ve been where you are,” I put a hand to my chest in a gesture of honesty, “I know how it feels to be alone. To be in a crowded hallway and feel like the only person in the world. But, you’re not alone. You have your family, and you have your friends to stand by you.”

    Taylor frowned, “What friends?”

    I shrugged, “I like to think I count.”

    “We’ve known each other for an hour, maybe two.”

    “I work fast,” I smiled.

    The girl looked unconvinced. Glory Girl poked her head into our conversation and added, “Frankly speaking, anyone that can get Amy talking for more than five minutes is a-okay in my book.”

    She turned to Mr. Hebert and handed him a business card, “This is the number to my mom’s legal office. Technically I’m not supposed to give these out without permission, and she’s a real estate lawyer. Buuuuut, she could probably refer you to someone with a bit more of a handle on these things. Cause, personally speaking, this whole situation smells like a load of bullshit.”

    Mr. Hebert looked at the card in his hands with wide eyes, an echo of Taylor’s own stunned expression. The girl looked like she was about to burst into tears as she looked between Glory Girl, her father, and then me. I put on my comfort smile for her again, which seemed to ease her a little.

    To be honest, I was doing even more for Taylor than I normally did for people I rescued. Her story of being alone and tormented by her peers resonated with me on a personal level, and I liked her giddiness when she started talking about something she was interested in. More than that, I think a small part of me was desperate. I was alone in a world I barely knew with no idea if my family or friends had even the slightest inkling of what had happened to me. Maybe I had latched onto Taylor because in some way, I needed her as much as she needed me; because it was pretty obvious that the girl hadn’t experienced genuine human decency in a very long time.

    “I…” Mr. Hebert choked on his own voice, “I don’t know what to say, thank you Glory Girl, and...um, I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve actually been introduced?”

    I offered him my hand and smiled, “Supergirl, sir. Costume is in the wash right now, I don’t normally run around in nurses scrubs.”

    There was a moment of faint recognition in his eyes at my name and I felt more than a bit of dread. Please, please please, don’t let this be one of those worlds where my own Earth existed as stories and comic books. Those were always such a pain to deal with; also seriously, why was it always comic books?

    Thankfully, if that was the case, Mr. Hebert didn’t choose to comment on it. He managed a gracious nod, shook my hand and said, “Thank you, Supergirl, for helping my daughter. I know it doesn’t mean much, but if you ever need anything from me - and I mean anything - I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen.”

    I placed my other hand over his and said, “Mr. Hebert, helping your daughter was reward enough.”

    As kind as his offer was, I never did what I did for reward or praise. Those were nice for sure, and it was good to know people appreciated my efforts. But I had helped Taylor because she was in trouble and no one else was. No one I saved owed me anything on my Earth, and that wasn’t going to change on Earth Bet.

    Mr. Hebert’s voice seemed to die in his throat, but he managed a shaky nod. I released his hands and stood up. Taylor was looking at me with an expression I could only describe as dumbfounded awe and joy. Glory Girl grinned and gave me a thumbs up, though her sister was leaning against the wall behind her with arms folded and staring at the floor. Her eyes were distant; she was obviously on another planet at the moment.

    That was probably as good a cue as any for us to leave. Best to let father and daughter talk in private, and give Taylor time to rest. I straightened up and said as much while smoothing out my temporary outfit.

    Taylor’s face quickly turned into an expression of near-panic, “No wait! You don’t have to go yet.”

    “You need time to rest, Taylor.” I told her, “And I have my own business I need to take care of, unfortunately.”

    She bit her lower lip, “Okay, but… what if they do something like that to me again? What if there’s trouble and I need your help?”

    “She’s a cape, not a babysitter.” Panacea said with a surprising amount of venom. Glory Girl, Taylor, and I both looked at her with surprise. That didn’t fit the girly cheerfully arguing the merits of norse mythology with Taylor ten minutes ago.

    She seemed to realize what she said and hurriedly corrected it, “I mean, we have a lot on our plates, and I imagine Supergirl isn’t any different. There are other people out there that will need help.”

    Taylor’s face fell and she looked down at her hands, “Right, right… sorry.”

    I rubbed my chin, looking between her and Panacea and said, “Hold that thought for one second.”

    They had time to register what I said before I rushed out of the hospital room to the laundry hamper. It took only a second to find a nurse with my costume in hand heading towards Taylor’s room. I stopped for a brief moment to thank her, grabbed my costume, and rushed back down the hall at super speed, changing as I went. This all took about five seconds, give or take.

    Everyone jumped when I reappeared in the room in full costume. I brushed a few wrinkles out of my skirt and said, “Sorry about that, I needed to pick up my costume for this.”

    I reached into my belt and fished out one of the emergency sonic emitters. It was a little smaller than a pinky nail, and twice as thick as a quarter. Unlike my belt it’s outer case was made of shiny chrome steel that shimmered in the light; my family crest was emblazoned on one size, but it was otherwise without marking. I walked over to Taylor, and offered it to her.

    “What…?” she started to say.

    “If you’re ever in trouble, squeeze the symbol here and the opposite side once to turn it on, squeeze it twice to turn it off.” I explained, “It will emit a sound that only I can hear. If you’re in trouble and do that, no matter where I am, I’ll know you need help and get to you as fast as I can.”

    “Holy crap, she’s a thinker, a tinker, and a mover at least,” I heard Glory Girl whisper, probably thinking it was quiet enough for me not to hear it. Panacea didn’t respond beyond a grunt.

    Taylor stared at the tiny sonic emitter, and then at me, “And you’re just… giving this to me?”

    I shrugged, “Not everyone is safe once they’ve been saved. Sometimes they have stalkers, abusive family members, or a serious bullying problem that might not be dealt with. So if you ever need me, now you know how to contact me.”

    She wrapped her fist tightly around the emitter with a death grip, and managed a smile, “I think a phone number or something would’ve been fine too. But thank you.”

    I gave her one final friendly pat on the shoulder, “You look like a good kid, Taylor. Don’t let those jerks at your school tear you down.”

    “Y-yeah…” She nodded frantically, “I mean yes, of course!”

    I said my goodbyes, wished her the best of luck, and left with Glory Girl and Panacea on my tail. In my heart of hearts, I truly hoped she got justice for her treatment. Maybe the crimes against her weren’t the worst, not by a longshot, but that didn’t invalidate what had been done to her either. Though for both our sakes, I hoped she never had to use that sonic emitter. More than anything, I wanted to be right in my belief that the courts and authorities would handle this with the dignity and respect that such institutions were supposed to present. People weren’t perfect, but just because we were on a different Earth didn’t mean human decency went out the window.

    Glory Girl shook me from my thoughts when we reached the hospital lobby, walking up alongside me with her hands folded behind her head and a curious eye on me. “So… where in the heck did you come from?”

    Right, now that Taylor was dealt with, it was time for the fun questions. I had hoped I could avoid that particular train altogether, but that had been wishful thinking from the start. Well, at the very least I had some experience about convincing cover stories to conceal my actual identity.

    “I was in the neighborhood, thought I’d help out the best way I could,” I explained, which was the truth.

    The blonde and her sister stopped and looked at me expectantly. Glory Girl said, “Yeah, but I meant where did you actually come from? I like to think I know a thing or two about capes; the message boards would’ve gone insane with a cape like you running around.”

    Message boards?

    I shelved that thought for later and said, “Is this really the best place to talk about this?” gesturing at the hospital lobby. It had thankfully thinned out since I arrived with Taylor, but the few patients and staff that remained were not so subtly watching the three of us with obvious curiosity.

    Panacea noticed this too and tugged on her sisters sleeve, “This really isn’t the time, Vicky.”

    Glory Girl looked around and shrugged, “Fair enough.” she looked back at me, “We were gonna catch lunch after this. If ya tag along and answer my question, I’ll buy.” she sang.

    Food sounded good; yes yes, I didn’t need to eat, but that didn’t mean I had acquired a sudden revulsion to all things edible as a result. A nice meal with girls that I at least had a passing acquaintance with wouldn’t be the end of the world. And it would give me some time to work out the details of my story to tell. The one thing I knew for sure was that I had to keep my extra-dimensional origins a secret for now.

    “Alright, deal.” I said, “But I’m holding you to that last bit. I’m broke.”

    We walked outside, and Glory Girl wrapped an arm around Panacea’s waist, “Alright, I know this great place down by the Boardwalk, you’ll love it. Should be a quick fli….”

    Her words trailed off as I slowly lifted into the air, my cape floating behind me. I couldn’t resist a small smile at her surprised expression. “Well? Lead the way, please.”

    -S-

    The Boardwalk was a total tourist trap set up in such a way that no one could see the graveyard of ships north of it. Only the no doubt reassuring sight of the Protectorate Headquarters and the ocean beyond it were visible from the Boardwalk. It was built along a surprisingly clean beach, with a casual paradise aesthetic. Wooden walkways, seafoam green buildings, etc. It all looked very safe and picturesque.

    If you ignored the obvious and heavily armed guards that were stationed at every other store. Perhaps the tourists were able to overlook it, but I usually preferred to eat my lunch without armed security looking over my shoulder. As a result, I felt a bit on edge even while Glory Girl and Panacea seemed oblivious to the facade.

    Or maybe they had lived with it for so long it seemed normal to them. I wasn’t sure which was worse, honestly.

    Glory Girl kept her word about lunch, and had taken us to a nice (and criminally overpriced) seafood restaurant with an open deck for us to eat on. With the promise from Glory Girl that we could get anything we wanted on the menu, I was currently nibbling on a grilled halibut that made my body shiver with delight. One thing Earth 100% had over Krytpon, was that they were much better cooks than we ever were. I am not ashamed to admit that.

    The girls ate a bit lighter, clearly impatient to wait for me to finish before they (and by they, I mean Glory Girl) could start drilling me with questions. I was in no rush though, as I focused on my meal while keeping my ears open. Thankfully for the moment, Brockton Bay sounded peaceful, so I was able to relax.

    That didn’t last long. Glory Girl looked about ready to explode with questions, bouncing her leg up and down while pretending to be interested in her glazed salmon fillet. I decided to take pity on the girl, set my silverware down, and wiped my mouth with a napkin. A quick look around showed that a lot of the clientele were making no attempt to hide their interest in the three of us.

    Me primarily, as I was the only one still in costume. Panacea had shed her robe and put it in her bag by her feet. Glory Girl was wearing a pretty long sleeved red shirt with jeans and a comfy looking pair of boots. Her blonde hair was in a ponytail and her grey hoodie was slung over the back of her chair. It was a little big for her, so I was willing to bet it was probably a boyfriend’s. And then there was me, still dressed in full costume with my cape hanging over the edge of my chair and my skirt unfortunately scorched. We were quite a sight.

    Yet the ogling still wasn’t as bad as that time when I stopped for donuts with Swamp Thing. Leaf bikinis did not make for a suitable costume replacement. Oh the papers had had fun with that one.

    I shook away that memory and smiled at Glory Girl, “So, I think I promised you some answers?”

    She grinned, “Yeah you did. So spill girl. What brings you to Brockton Bay? You don’t have the accent, and you’re way too nice. Why are you here, of all places?”

    I leaned back in my chair and folded my hands in my laps, “I was passing by. If I’m completely honest, my memory is a little… fuzzy. Inconsistent memory loss of some kind. I woke up a few cities over, did some flying around and was passing through Brockton Bay when I heard Taylor calling for help. I think I might stick around for a bit and help clean up if I can.”

    “You have amnesia?” Glory Girl turned and asked Panacea, “Do you think she might be a case 53?”

    I cocked my head to the side, “A what?”

    “Capes that wake up with their powers and no memory of how they got them;” Panacea explained, “usually branded with a stylized Omega symbol branded on them somewhere. They can look pretty weird sometimes. There’s a kid in Boston made entirely of metal and no idea why.”

    Great Rao, that sounded awful! I was lucky to have Kal to support me on Earth when I got my powers, and the memory of my home to remind me of who I was. I couldn’t imagine what my life would’ve been like if I had landed on Earth with no memory of my past or idea of why I had powers.

    Panacea looked at me and then her sister, biting her lower lip as she did, “I’m pretty sure she’s not a Case 53 though, Vicky.”

    “She coulda been a dude before she got her powers.” Glory Girl offered.

    I shuddered and waved my hands frantically back and forth, “No, no no. My memory is fuzzy in certain areas, but I know who I am, and can remember my home and family just fine. I’m just missing more recent memories.”

    Glory Girl looked both disappointed and relieved at the same time, “Ah. Well at least you’ve got family to go back to then, right?”

    I sank into my seat and didn’t meet her eyes. It wasn’t her fault of course, she didn’t know that I was technically an orphan. People made that mistake all the time, typically assuming Kal was my father, so I rarely held it against them. That didn’t mean that thinking about what I lost didn’t darken my mood a little. Which must have been obvious to Glory Girl, as she winced and started apologizing.

    “Sorry, I…”

    “It was a few years ago.” I sighed and shrugged, “Besides, you didn’t know. But, I am alone here. No home, and more than a bit lost. I’m mostly just trying to figure things out right now.”

    Glory Girl suddenly perked up, an obvious idea in mind, “If you don’t have anywhere to stay, we’ve got a guest room at home. I’m sure mom would be fine with letting you stick around for a bit.”

    “Oh no, that’s not necessary Glory Girl,” I protested, “You’ve already spent so much money on me with this lunch; I don’t want to be a bother.”

    “It’s no big deal,” she waved away my concern, “Besides, we have room to spare, and it’s always safer for heroes to stick together than go it alone. It would be awful if something happened to you out there.”

    She seemed genuinely concerned, which made me pause and lean back in my chair while rubbing my chin. On the one hand, if I wanted to clean up Brockton Bay, staying with other heroes would be the safest option. They could defend themselves and knew the risks inherent in crime fighting. Plus it would be a chance to learn more about the city itself, who its power players were, and who was standing against them.

    On the other hand, I didn’t really need a home. Even ignoring the fact that I didn’t need food or water to survive, the crystal in my belt was more than capable of providing a home for me. Yes, I called it an emergency shelter, but that was downselling the truth. After I arrived on Earth, Kal had spent months studying Kryptonian technology and hand crafting me a home near identical to his Fortress of Solitude. If for whatever reason I felt unwanted or uncomfortable in the human world, that crystal was to make a home for me where I could retire safely away from humanity. I had been touched by the thoughtfulness and effort of the gift, even if by the time I received it, I had already made my share of friends and started to slowly settle into my new home. So the crystal had sat in my belt, waiting for the day when I might need it.

    Being stranded on an alternate Earth certainly fit the bill, but I couldn’t exactly tell all that to Glory Girl. As Kal himself had said, a Fortress of Solitude did not’ remain so for long if everyone knew about it.

    I sighed and shook my head. As I was about to speak though, my thoughts were interrupted by gunshots. Loud and clear, even for those in the cafe to hear, maybe a mile away from the Boardwalk, two at most. I quickly pinpointed the source of the noise, a van filled with four men currently fleeing from a warehouse with two cop cars following behind it and on a course for the more populated areas of the city.

    “We’ll talk later, duty calls,” I said to Glory Girl, and took off into the air while she sputtered and shoved her chair out of the way.

    I had already left her far behind by the time she took off the ground and was soaring over the chase in progress. The sirens blared as the cops started pulling up on the van, only for the rear doors to burst open. Two men hung out the back, submachine guns in hand and opened fire on the windshield of the nearest cop car. That wasn’t going to fly.

    I zipped down as fast as I safely could in the city. While Barry Allen might be able to zoom around his city at the speed of sound, Kal and I had to be more careful. Without the speedforce, we risked causing serious damage when we broke the sound barrier in city limits. Everything up to that point though was fair game.

    The world slowed as I put myself between the car and the stream of bullets, curving my body in so they wouldn’t bounce off and hit an innocent bystander. Hot lead harmlessly bounced off my stomach and chest onto the street rapidly passing by below. The crooks in the back of the van had no time to react before I flew up to them and ripped their guns from their hands.

    “I’ll just take these off your hands, boys.” and shoved them both back into the open van and slammed the doors shut.

    The van started to swerve as my appearance had startled the driver; that was an easy problem to fix. I looped up through the air and under the vehicle, so close to the ground the asphalt threatened to scrape at my nose. I braced my hands against the undercarriage to get a good grip, and heaved. I heard startled yells in both english, japanese and chinese as we took up off the ground.

    I could feel the van shake as they began to panic and look for an escape option. As we rose into the air, slowing to a crawl as we did, I spotted an empty parking lot in front of an abandoned office, one of many in the city no doubt. The perfect place to set these boys down.

    “Alright!” I called out so they could hear me through the van’s now rapidly revving engine, “Thank you for flying with Supergirl Airlines, please remain seated until the vehicle has come to a complete halt!”

    They responded with a colorful cacophony of curses, including some new ones in mandarin I had never heard before. I ignored them and descended to the parking lot. The moment my feet touched the ground, the engine stopped revving. There was a loud banng as the vans weight shifted and doors were flung open and men started jumping out as fast as they could.

    The sudden shift in balance made me take one step forward to catch it, the van leaning forward as four men fell out of the vehicle and scrambled away from me with looks of terror on their faces. I rolled my eyes and gently set the van down in the parking lot and dusted my hands off. Then I turned after the fleeing men.

    They were fleeing in pairs, one to the north of the city, the other to the south. Some crooks never learned.

    I zipped forward, faster than a speeding bullet, and appeared before the northern pair with my arms folded and a disappointed look on my face, “You know, committing a felony is bad enough. Running after you’ve committed it just makes things worse; if I were you, I’d give it a rest and quit while you’re ahead.”

    Both men, notably of asian descent, seemed to think better of fighting the girl that had just casually lifted a van into the air like it was a plaything, and raised their arms in surrender. I took them back to the van and secured them to the door handle with a pair of zip ties they helpfully had waiting for me in the back of their van.

    Then I zipped after the southern pair, in the same pose as before. I didn’t get to say a word before one of them pulled a black hilted switchblade from his pocket and stabbed at my neck with it. That went as well as you’d expect.

    The blade bent in on itself and the man's hand bounced away; I brushed at my neck and sighed, “Maybe some prison time might do some good for your critical thinking skills, friend.”

    I grabbed both men and returned to the van to tie them up. I was pleasantly surprised to see the police officers had caught up with me. They were scratching their heads at the van and two captured crooks, obviously trying to make sense of what just happened.

    “Afternoon officers,” I made my presence known with a friendly greeting.

    The two officers whirled around, hands on their sidearms. They seemed relieved when they saw me with the two criminals in hand. I descended from the sky with both men offered to the officers.

    “Sorry for the sudden interruption, but I was in the neighborhood and thought I might lend a hand.” I explained.

    One of the two officers nodded at me, “You have our thanks, Miss. You saved our lives back there.”

    They cuffed both men while another pair of officers undid the zipties I had used to secure the other two crooks. One of the men kicked at the officers shin and scrambled away in a final last ditch escape. I sighed, looked ahead of him, and shot a short blast of heat vision. Nothing that would cause damage to the parking lot, but it was bright and showy enough to send up some sparks and make the man halt in his tracks.

    Everyone stopped and looked at me, especially the crook. I looked at him, and jerked my head towards the officer he had kicked. With slow reluctance, the man stood up and walked up to the officer, hands extended in surrender.

    “Holy crap, you work fast.” I heard from above, and looked up.

    Glory Girl floated a good ten feet above us with a bewildered expression. I met it with a smile, “Like I said, I can handle myself.”
     
  3. Threadmarks: Arrival 1.3
    Rapidfyrez

    Rapidfyrez Getting sticky.

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    Arrival 1.3

    “You’re stalling.” Glory Girl accused me.

    “I’m not stalling. This is important.” I insisted.

    “You are literally rescuing a cat from a tree. You’re stalling.”

    I gently plucked the orange coated tabby cat, Frillie, from the tree and cradled him in my arms. He immediately nuzzled into my chest and started purring as I descended from the tree to his waiting owner. The older woman let out a noise of delight as I handed her cat back to her.

    “Oh bless you, miss. My husband would have had a heart attack if he thought Frillie went missing again.”

    I smiled, “Happy to help ma’am, just keep a closer eye on him. I might not be nearby the next time he decides to make his home in a tree.”

    The woman poked at Frillies nose, “Oh I’m never taking my eyes off this naughty kitty again, no I’m not! Take care of yourself, and god bless you miss.”

    “You as well.” I waved my goodbye and lifted back up into the air to float alongside Glory Girl.

    The young heroine was giving me a look of disbelief. I shrugged and smiled, “We were passing, no one else was helping her, what was the harm?”

    Glory Girl looked up at the sky and covered her face, “Where do they make people like you?”

    “Do you really want the answer to that?” I asked.

    “No.” Glory Girl sighed, “Come on, we really should get going. It’s been three hours since I dropped Amy off at home, you can’t stall forever.”

    With some persistence, Glory Girl had convinced me to at least stop by her home for the day and talk with her mother. She insisted that her mom would be more than willing to let me at least spend the night, since I had nowhere else to stay, and that it wasn’t a bother. I eventually decided there was no real harm in it and had agreed.

    Several hours later, we had yet to actually make it to the Dallon household. We passed several crimes in progress on our way to the house: six attempted muggings, five cases of attempted grand theft auto, two retail robberies, and one tabby in a tree. After mugging number three, Glory Girl had decided to go on and drop her sister off at home and to come back for me after.

    And she had, in full costume too. Personally, I quite liked the look, it fit her.

    It was a long one piece dress that ended mid-thigh, with an over the shoulder cape, knee high boots and a golden tiara with spikes radiating from it. Beautiful golden trim ran along the seams, really pulling the whole look together. It was certainly better than my current costume. Not that I disliked my look of course, but the singing had not come out in the wash and this was one of my cheaper costumes. I might have hastily thrown it on before whatever it was threw me to this Earth, and replacing it with one of higher quality was high on my list of personal priorities.

    What was I talking about? Oh right, Glory Girl and her house.

    “There’s nothing wrong helping out when and where you can.” I insisted.

    “Remind me to get you a girl scout sash for your community service badge,” Glory Girl laughed as we flew over the city towards her home. Joke was on her, I already had a full sash at home; Kal thought it was a good way for me to get to know Earth and its people.

    Thankfully I didn’t have to put up with Glory Girl’s ribbing for very long, the Dallon household was only a few blocks away from where I had rescued Frillie. They lived in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Brockton Bay, no surprise, and their house was surprisingly modest for it. A meticulously cared-for lawn, well maintained cream colored siding, and a clear driveway with a garage currently closed. I could hear the tv playing inside, but no real conversation.

    A thought for why occurred to me as we landed in the driveway. “Glory Girl, I’ve been meaning to ask. You and your sister are about...what, fifteen, sixteen?”

    She shrugged as we walked to the front door, “About, why?”

    “Today is a school day isn’t it? Why were the two of you at the hospital instead of in class?”

    Glory Girl snorted, “Is it really that big a deal? Ames gets called out of class if there’s something nasty, and we usually get the rest of the day off if we’re lucky.”

    I pursed my lips together before speaking, “Huh. That’s very brave of your sister, sacrificing her time like that.”

    “Eh, well,” Glory Girl stopped at the door and wiggled her hand in a ‘kind of’ gesture, “It was Amy’s idea to volunteer at the hospital after hours. They suggested the emergency calls.”

    “I see.”

    I decided not to comment on that. The tired look in Amy’s eyes and her overall withdrawn demeanor made a little more sense though, if what Glory Girl said was true. It was one thing to willingly spend your time helping others like I did. When that help became a job that could rip you out of your life at any minute, it could suddenly become a lot more exhausting. Poor girl.

    “Anyway, welcome to the Dallon home!” Glory Girl announced, opening the door with a flourish of her hand. “Please wipe your feet at the door.”

    I was already doing so as I stepped inside.

    Inside was about as nice as it was outside. Spotless furnishings and floorings and clean bright light that left little in the way of natural shadow inside. The front door opened into the kitchen and dining room, both separated from one another by a granite topped island and cabinets hanging from the ceiling. The living room was furnished with dark leather couches and a decent sized television that was running the news at the moment, with a very familiar logo displayed on screen.

    ‘Mysterious new cape spotted in Brockton Bay alongside New Waves Glory Girl. Alliance of convenience, or newest member?’ was all I read before the TV was shut off. Which brought my attention back to the two occupants sitting at the dining room table looking at us expectantly. The first I noticed was a man in good shape with short hair and faint beard stubble. His build and face reminded me vaguely of Kal, though he had brown eyes compared to my cousin’s blue, and had a slimmer overall build.

    The second made me pause for a moment. For a brief second, I thought my own mother was sitting in the kitchen, dressed in human clothes in a human house. The sheer ridiculousness of that idea almost froze my brain before it became obvious the woman sitting next to the man was not my mother. She bore many similarities, but the differences were stark when I noticed them. She wore no laugh lines along her face, no intrinsic joy that made her eyes glow with Rao’s warmth. Only a serious expression, and very tired eyes.

    Focus, I mentally scolded myself and put on my friendliest smile, while Glory Girl began to introduce me. “So mom, dad, I know it’s a little short notice, but this is Supergirl.”

    “Amy explained to us,” her mother said, in a firm tone. Her expression softened slightly as she stood up from the table along with her husband. They were about even height, two or three inches taller than their daughter.

    I held out my hand as they approached, “Sorry for making you wait, we ran into some minor trouble on the way here. Criminals, thieves, the usual.”

    For a moment, I thought neither of them would shake my hand. This worry was quickly tossed aside as Glory Girl’s mother shook my hand with a surprisingly friendly face, “Of course, if there were people that needed your help, that takes priority. Sorry if I’m a bit frosty, I had a long day at the office, and only got home a short while ago. I’m Carol, Carol Dallon, and this is my husband Mark.”

    “A pleasure,” the man, Mark, shook my hand next and smiled.

    I returned it, “The pleasure is mine. Your daughters have given me a very worm welcome to your city.”

    “I’d expect nothing less,” Carol said, giving me the once over. “Amy mentioned something about amnesia? Are you by chance-?”

    “Not a case 53,” I shook my head, “Just a case of dissociative amnesia, I think.”

    Glory Girl put her hands on my shoulder and peered from behind my head and said in a playfully quiet voice, “Mom, she doesn’t have anywhere to go. She’s all alone.”

    I nudged her in the ribs and she giggled while Carol rubbed her chin in a manner similar to her daughter. “Yes, Amy mentioned that too. You have no relatives that you know of, no name besides your cape identity?”

    “Well,” I sucked in a breath, “I know my name, and I know all my relatives are… gone. I just can’t remember anything recent. How I wound up here, my powers and costume, and random events and day to day things.”

    Which was true, of course. Save for the power thing, my memories did feel spotty in certain areas, inconsistent. Given my career choice this wasn’t a surprise, but it was annoying every time it happened.

    “Head injuries are...difficult.” Mark sighed, his eyes distant for a moment before returning to the present, “But they can be manageable under the right circumstances.”

    I nodded, “As time goes on, I’ve felt some of them return. Hopefully I’ll remember everything I forgot in the next few days.”

    “And in the meantime, you’ll need a place to stay.” Carol said, still eyeing me.

    I started to protest, “Well, not exactly-”

    Carol interrupted me with a raised hand, “You’ve fought alongside my daughter, you have no family of your own, and if I had to guess your costume is your only set of clothes. It would be criminal of me to not open our home to you, at least for a few days.”
    Behind me I heard a whispered, ‘Yes’ which was probably followed by a fist pump. Carol glanced skyward for a moment and then motioned to the dining room table, “If you don’t mind taking a seat Supergirl, we can discuss a few details, and maybe figure out just where you came from.”

    Oh if she only knew, I thought.

    I said, “Of course… though I do have two questions that have been bugging me.”

    Carol returned to her seat at the table and said, “Ask away.”

    “Where’s Panacea?” I asked as I took a seat at the far end of the table so the Dallons could sit together.

    Carol's expression faltered before returning to its friendly shape, “Upstairs catching up on homework.”

    Made sense, I would want that work out of the way as quickly as possible too, if only so I could enjoy my weekend. With how exhausted the poor girl looked, I wouldn’t be surprised if she clocked out once she was done and no one saw her until mid noon tomorrow. I nodded my understanding of this and folded my hands together as I settled into my seat.

    “The other question is something that’s been on my mind since I met your daughters. I was under the impression that most superheroes wore masks to hide their secret identities. But none of you seem to do that.”

    Glory Girl raised a brow, “Supergirl, you don’t wear a mask either you know.”

    I conceded her point with a nod, “Yes, but I haven’t told any of you my actual name, and for all you know, maybe I’m using my powers to disguise my face.”

    That didn’t get the amused reaction I was expecting. Everyone at the table grew visibly more concerned at my little joke. Mark folded his hands together, Glory Girl tensed, and Carol gripped the edge of the table tightly. Obviously I had stepped on a nerve of some kind. I quickly back tracked, raising my hands defensively as I said, “That was a joke. The most I can do is vibrate my face so fast it looks like a blur.”

    I did so immediately as an example, vibrating the individual molecules fast enough to give my face the appearance of a news censor. Mark and Glory Girl relaxed and Carol released her grip on the table. Crisis averted, thank goodness.

    “Sorry Supes,” Glory Girl said, “Master/Stranger powers put everyone on edge.”

    I raised a brow, “What powers?”

    “We’ll explain later,” Carol cut off before her daughter could explain. Glory Girl bit her lower lip and nodded, letting her mother continue.

    Carol turned back to me, and took a breath, “Our team, our family, is part of an organization called New Wave. We believe in full accountability for capes, both legal and social, in our day to day lives. So we don’t wear masks, and we don’t have secret identities. We have code names we use when providing services to the public, but we otherwise make no distinction between the two in our day to day lives. Carol Dallon is accountable for the actions of Brandish, and vice versa. That is why no one in my family wears a mask or hides our secret identities.”

    Oh Rao, there were so many ways that could backfire on someone. That was my first thought when Carol finished explaining. I could appreciate the ideal, and it was obvious the Dallons were committed to it. But I had seen what happened when heroes' identities were exposed, either to their enemies or the public. I wondered, idly, if the Dallons had lost friends and family from their stance. How many innocents had been targeted specifically because of their open identities?

    Such thoughts were short lived though. I was in no position to judge them for their choices, I had only been on the world for a few hours so far. Maybe things worked differently on Earth Bet than they did back home, I couldn’t know yet.

    “I understand,” I said aloud, “That definitely explains a lot.”

    Carol smiled a more genuine smile, “Of course. It also relates to what I was going to ask you. I understand that secret identities can be a touchy subject for other capes, so if you wish to keep yours to yourself, we will respect that. But if we knew your name, Supergirl, we might be able to find out more about you. Maybe find out the truth about your memory loss.”

    I watched Carol carefully as she made her suggestion. There was no way I was going to tell her my actual true identity. Even ignoring how little I knew about this world, a name like Kara Zor-El was clearly not human. It would either tip them off to my alien origin, or make them think I was insane. I would need an alias for them, if I was to share anything with them at all.

    The Dallons did not seem like terrible people, in fact they seemed like a good, if stern, folk. Glory Girl (or Vicky I supposed) was outgoing and friendly to a fault and had gone out of her way to help Taylor and her father when she didn’t need to. Amy actively volunteered at hospitals to the point of exhaustion, and regardless of their apparent strictness, Carol and her husband seemed to hold a genuine belief in accountability for superheroes. I might not agree with the method, but I could respect their determination. But that raised the question, did that mean I could trust them?

    Yes, of course I could. They were a well off suburban family trying to do their part to help the world how they could. They had offered their friendship and home to me, so of course I could at the very least return some of that same courtesy.
    So I took in a deep breath, and said, “Well, given my current circumstances, you make a fair point. Call me Karen, Karen Starr.”

    -S-

    “...And based on recent Empire activity, it appears that Kaiser is currently falling back on the defensive. More than likely, he’s trying to bait Lung and the ABB into an attack so they can paint themselves as victims.” Armsmaster closed the file and put it back on Director Piggot’s desk, “That’s this week's report on Empire activity.”

    Emily Piggot, Director of the PRT ENE forces, arranged the folder with the others already on her desk and resisted the urge to sigh. With the end of the holiday season and the weather rapidly warming, gang activity was bound for the inevitable resurgence, as it always did this time of year. So far things had remained stable, but it was a peace - if it could even be called such - that wouldn’t last. All they could do was prepare for where it led.

    In that regard, she was thankful for Armsmaster. The power-armored tinker’s role as leader of the Protectorate may not be perfect, but his insistent readiness was an asset she was not willing to throw away so easily. Maybe he chafed with his fellow capes at times, but his skills at preparation were far and above any of the others, and she valued his analytical abilities greatly.

    The Director set the files aside, “Right then, we’ll inform the police of our analysis and see if we can’t get them to increase patrols along ABB territory. It’ll be a tricky balance though, we don’t want the people to think we’re favoring one side over the other.”

    The problem in dealing with two gangs who were primarily racially motivated, was how easy it was for either one to accuse the authorities of ‘oppressing’ them. The reality was they just wanted to stop them from holding shootouts in the street.

    “We could do an even split.” Armsmaster suggested, his exposed lower face turning into a frown, “Split police forces on both sides, pair them with Protectorate forces. It will send a message while keeping my team prepared for the worst.”

    “If Kaiser is trying to bait Lung into an assault, we’ll need more Parahuman muscle in ABB territory.” Piggot sighed and rubbed her temples; she could feel a headache coming on.

    “Christ, this would be easier if we had an actual brute we could rely on. Aegis is a good kid, but he barely lasts a minute against a real brute. Can we see if New Wave would be willing to join our patrols again?” she asked.

    Armsmaster nodded, “We likely could, though the younger members will be difficult to enlist with school starting up again.”

    “Of course.” Piggot resisted the urge to curse and leaned back in her chair, which creaked in protest against her ponderous weight.

    “There is a new option ma’am.” Armsmaster said.

    She raised a brow and motioned for him to continue. Armsmaster tapped the side of his helmet and several images flashed on her computer screen, of a cape she hadn’t seen before. A tall young woman, bearing a surprising resemblance to Glory Girl. She was taller and clearly older, and her costume was darker, but it was unmistakable.

    “New Wave has added someone to their ranks?” she asked.

    Armsmaster shook his head, “These were taken earlier today. The cape calls herself ‘Supergirl’. Standard Alexandria Package, so far seen easily able to lift a minimum of three tons, unaffected by standard firearms, able to match flight speed with Glory Girl, and possesses a form of laser or energy beam she can project from her eyes, along with general enhanced speed and the potential reflexes to match. One report mentions she managed to catch the bullets from five seconds of full auto fire directed at her. Current unofficial rankings put her at at least a brute 6, mover 7, blaster 3, and a potential striker 1. She seems to emit a field similar to Glory Girl that protects her costume and lets her lift heavier objects with little regard for physics and positioning.”

    “Do we have any official statements from her or New Wave?” Piggot asked, leaning forward with renewed interest. The one thing her team had been missing was a cape with brute leanings, everyone else had more specialized and ‘unique’ power sets that made it difficult for them to counter some of the firepower the gangs could bring to bear. A parahuman on this level could easily tip things in the favor of the PRT. Or against them, if the situation wasn't handled properly.

    “Sadly, no.” Armsmaster admitted. “Police have talked with her, and aside from near universal praise on how polite she is, she has not given any official statements except a desire to help where she is needed. The last report says she was seen at the Dallon household. I could go and talk to her about joining the Protectorate.”

    Immediately, Piggot shook her head no, “That’s not necessary, though I like your thinking Armsmaster. No, if Supergirl is willing to work with the police and New Wave, we shouldn’t push too hard. New Wave works well with us and if she is a new member, they won’t appreciate us trying to take her for ourselves. Make sure the rest of your team knows to give her the usual talk about joining if they run into her, but emphasize to them not to force it. The last thing we need is to make an enemy out of someone who’s actively trying to help us. Do send me the reports though, and keep me posted on anything else you find out. With those kind of ratings, we should keep a close eye on her, and make sure she understands we're on the same side. The last thing we need is to alienate her from working with us in the future.”

    Armsmaster typed something into the computer built into his armor, “Sent ma’am.”

    Her computer pinged with a dozen files containing police reports, news outlines, sightings, and analysis of her abilities in action. Once she finished discussing the weekly reports with Armsmaster, she would look through them more thoroughly, that was the entire point of these reports after all. To highlight events and persons of notice in the city so Piggot could best decide where to focus PRT resources.

    Armsmaster lowered his arm, “Now, if you’re read, we can move onto merchant activity.

    Piggot sighed heavily, “Lovely.”
     
  4. Threadmarks: Arrival 1.4
    Rapidfyrez

    Rapidfyrez Getting sticky.

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    Arrival 1.4


    Karren Starr was a name I made up on the spot, a sudden fit of paranoia I couldn’t quite explain. I still wasn’t sure whether or not this was a universe where I and my friends and family were fictionalized or not. Danny Hebert's reaction to me had suggested the former, but neither Carol nor Victoria nor Mark had questioned me on it. Ultimately, I had decided to err on the side of caution rather than take an unnecessary risk in an unfamiliar world. Thankfully, no one dwelled on the name for very long, as the Dallons were quick to grill me on everything else with an almost gleeful abandon.

    Though she definitely held strict standards, Carol didn’t push too hard on the personal questions. Most of what she asked were simple questions, where I was from, why I was in Brockton, how long did I plan on staying, etc. I kept my answers simple and brief, answering as truthfully as I could without giving away everything. But while Carol was certainly more restrained in her questioning, her husband and Victoria were… not.

    An hour after Carol had finished questioning me, I was in Vicky’s room still answering her questions about my powers, while trying on some of her clothes. Since I had nothing to wear aside from my costume, she had happily offered me a look through her closet for temporary clothes.

    I was totally jealous of her closet.

    It was a full walk in with rows of skirts, blouses, dresses and a library’s worth of shoes. Even with super speed it would take me hours to go through everything Victoria had at her disposal. I was of course, in total heaven, and it was a lovely distraction from all of her questions about my powers.

    “I can buy that you’re some sort of jack of all trades grab bag of powers, but I draw the line at super-ventriloquism.” Vicky said. She was lying on her bed, feet leaning on the wall behind the head of her bed with her arms lazily splayed out around her.

    “No offense, but that is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.”

    “Victoria, you should be kinder to our guest,” Carol’s voice chided from the doorway.

    The girl jerked up and looked at the doorway to see it empty, and me stepping out of her closet with a smug grin on my face. “After all, we wouldn’t want to be rude, would we?” I continued, in a perfect imitation of her mothers voice.

    Victoria closed her hanging jaw and looked at the sun dress I was wearing with a critical eye. It was a cute little number, a soft yellow with lines of white along the waist and the shoulder straps. Add a pair of flats and a wide brimmed hat and it would be perfect for a casual stroll down the boardwalk. I smiled and did a little twirl in it, sending the hem spinning, “It’s a little shorter than I’m comfortable with, but I think I can make it work.” I said.

    “Oh yes, absolutely. You work that dress girl.” Victoria slid off the bed and walked up to me, “And you haven’t even seen the best part, look!”

    She slid her hands into two sleeves on either side of the dress and grinned, “It has pockets!”

    I put my hands on Victoria's shoulders with a serious expression on my face, “Vicky. Can I marry you? I don’t love you or anything, but I want your closet.”

    And then we both melted into a fit of laughter in giggles. It wasn’t often I got to ‘girl-out’ over pretty dresses with others. Kal was as stereotypically male as they came, Starfire’s idea of appropriate clothing was running in a bikini, and Barbara, bless her heart, was too serious to really enjoy it beyond having a critical eye for what I wore. Vicky was a nice change of pace, to say the least.

    “Excuse me,” a small voice interrupted our giggle fit, and after we got our laughter under control, we both looked up to see Amy peering through the doorway.

    Victoria broke into a scattered chuckle before she reigned it in and addressed her sister, “H-hey Ames. We being a bit loud?”

    “Try extremely.” she said dryly.

    “Sorry Amy,” I apologized and pushed myself up to my feet, smoothing the dress as I did. “I didn’t mean to disturb you. I should be about finished now anyway.”

    She grunted and disappeared back down the hall. We both heard her door shut loudly a moment later. Victoria winced and said, “Sorry, Karren. I forgot about Amy’s class project.”

    I shrugged, “It’s okay. I should have enough for tonight and tomorrow anyway, just to get by anyway. Thanks for sharing.”

    “Oh I have more clothes than I know what to do with, and you couldn’t go running around in tights all day.” Victoria said.

    She looked back at the door and sighed, “I should… probably go talk to Amy though. It looks like something is bothering her.”

    I nodded and gathered the folded clothes I’d selected, “I have more than enough for now anyway. I’ll head downstairs and leave you two to it.”

    We parted ways at the door, me heading downstairs and Victoria heading for her sister’s room. I made a point to ignore their conversation to the best of my abilities. It wasn’t polite to eavesdrop on friends after all. Besides, it looked like those two needed to have a talk face to face, and I didn’t want to intrude anymore than I already had.

    Carol had already shown me to their guest room, located to the left of the living room past the stairs at the far end of the hall right next to a spare closet. It wasn’t as large or as well furnished as any of the family's rooms, but it was very nice for a guest room. Enough space for a full size mattress, a nightstand and its own closet.

    I quickly hung my borrowed clothes in the closet in the blink of an eye, and headed back into the kitchen for a drink. I was surprised to run into Mark in the kitchen; Mark and a slice of cake he was trying very hard to look like he was not eating in secret. He paused mid bite, and looked at me sheepishly.

    “Hello, Karren.” he said as straight faced as he could. At the same time he very casually threw the slice back into the fridge, and smiled innocently.

    I looked at the fridge and let a sly smile cross my lips, “Dieting, Mr. Dallon?”

    He patted his stomach affectionately; he didn’t seem out of shape to me, but the standards for the average person and the standards for a superhero were different. “I promised Carol I’d get below 180 and stay there. But…”

    The look of longing on his face when he turned back to the fridge was almost comical. I chuckled and went to grab a glass. As I filled it with water from the fridge I said, “Your secret is safe with me, Mr. Dallon. A little cake won’t kill you.”

    “A little white lie never hurt anyone.” He agreed, and reached back into the fridge for his cake. “Makes everyones lives a little easier.”

    I took a sip, the water not as refreshing as I’d hoped. A frown formed on my face and I sighed, “Yeah, a little easier… Thank you again for your hospitality, Mr. Dallon.”

    He ‘mph’d’ back at me, his mouth full of cake, and I chuckled as I returned back to my room. I didn’t make it back, Victoria intercepted me at the stairs. Bounding down them two at a time, she stopped and leaned on the railing, a large smile on her face.

    “So, Karren, I got a question for ya.”

    I raised a brow at her, “And what might that be?”

    Victoria was always a little bubbly but she was way more animated than I had ever seen before, practically jumping from foot to foot, “Okay, so I know I just lent you a bunch of spare clothes, but I talked with mom-”

    “I thought you were talking with your sister?” I asked.

    She rolled her hand, “Work in progress, I’ve got it. Anyway, I talked with mom, and I was able to convince her to give us a budget. So, how would you like to go shopping tomorrow with me, Amy, and a friend or two of mine?”

    I didn’t have to think long on that. I loved shopping, loved seeing all the stores, trying on new clothes, browsing, chatting with friends. The entire experience was an absolute blast. The only reason I hesitated at all was for a brief debate on if it was worth my time given my current situation. If something more important came up, we could always shop later; the mall wasn’t going anywhere.

    “Victoria, I’d love to go shopping with you.”

    She clapped her hands, “Yay! I’ll go and call-”

    Amy’s voice sounded from her room, “No you won’t, you have homework first!”

    Her sister deflated and her face twisted into a playful scowl, “Stupid homework, stupid school.”

    I laughed, “Finish your homework. I don’t think your friends are going anywhere.”

    She stuck her tongue out at me, and I thumbed my nose at her in retort. We went our separate ways laughing, and I collapsed back on my bed in the guest room. After a moment, I flopped back onto my bed and stared up at the ceiling.

    The Dallon household was quiet when Victoria wasn’t talking. I could hear the TV running in the living room where Mark was, the scratch of pen on paper in Amy’s room, Carol on a business call in her room, and Victoria plopping into her desk chair in front of her home computer. It was surprising to me to learn that on Earth Bet, computers were so much more commonplace, and that everyone had their own personal phones. On Krypton this was standard, but my Earth was a bit behind the curve. It was impressive to say the least.

    I was stalling for time; my interview with the Dallon family had taken some time, but now I was free of obligation. I rolled over on the bed and glanced at the clock, five thirty seven. Rao I was going to get bored so fast. I never took much interest in television beyond cheesy movies with friends, and I didn’t have my art supplies here. I could see what they had to read, but that would only occupy me for a few minutes at most.

    My eyes flickered to the window, and I let my hearing run free to chase the many sounds of the city. Brockton Bay was busy as any city of its size would be, and its reputation as a city of crime wasn’t an unfair one. When I had first arrived, the city had been in what I now recognized as a slump of activity. Night was falling now, and while it was arguable that the most heinous crimes were more likely to occur in the day when everyone was at work, petty crime had a habit of skyrocketing at night in my experience.

    A gust of wind filled my room as I changed back into my costume and opened the bedroom window. I set a foot on the window sill and paused; I wasn’t required to inform anyone here of my comings or goings, but I was a guest in their house and leaving without saying anything would be rude.

    I left a note explaining where I went on the bed in plain view, and flew off into the evening sky. There was trouble afoot, and I was more than happy to foil it.
    -S-

    The Docks, the epicenter of Brockton Bay’s problems. Like most coastal cities, Brockton Bay had depended on shipping and trade as its primary form of income. Commercial hubs were completely dependent on safety and transportation to maintain a constant flow of income. With no real industry to speak of, Brockton Bay had not been prepared for when the shipping industry died. When the endbringer, the Leviathan, began terrorizing coastal cities, shipping became a more dangerous venture. Ports that were seen as less vital were no longer risked, and so cities like Brockton Bay were left to wither on the vine.

    With no jobs came economic depression, and with economic depression came desperation. Honest working men and women turned to crime to support themselves, and the city fell into a decline. Those that didn’t or couldn’t leave had stayed and begun carving the city into gang territory in a bid to survive. All of this could be traced back to the Docks.

    Ruined warehouses, abandoned offices, homeless shanty towns, and a graveyard of ships told the truth that some were trying to deny. Brockton Bay was dying, living its final moments as the world threatened to abandon it all together. It would take nothing short of a miracle to pull this city back from the brink.

    I frowned as I flew over the Docks, high enough that no one without super sight could see me. Some said my cousin and I could work miracles, but the truth was that we were just trying to help. To save this city would require more than just punching the bad guys in the face, unfortunately. But, that was a good first step in the right direction.

    A scream, short and quickly stifled, stirred me from my thoughts. I swept my gaze across the Docks, focusing my senses on the source. Unsurprisingly, even with super hearing that frankly defied the laws of physics, it could be difficult picking out a single voice in a city of tens of thousands. My hearing gave me a general idea of where the scream came from, my sight helped me peer through the urban forest below, and my intuition helped me determine if I had found the men I was looking for.

    It was a skill I had mastered with years of practice now; in less than a minute, I had managed to zero in on a group of men gathered by a large semi-truck with a cargo container strapped to its trailer. Their movements were fast and frantic, and one of them was yelling angrily at the rest, scolding them in a language I recognized as Mandarin. At the bare minimum, they were likely members of the ABB, one of the two major gangs in the city. That alone warranted an investigation.

    I dipped forward into a dive, plunging from the sky toward the ground with a frightening speed. The wind tore at my hair and my cape, whistling angrily in my ears as I picked up speed. Brockton Bay rose up to catch me, a hand of a thousand fingers reaching out to me. By now my speed was so great that if I hit the ground, I’d crater a city block.

    My arms flashed out, my cape billowed against the air, and the wind hissed at my sudden stop in momentum. The night was silent once again, and I descended the last three inches until my feet were on solid ground. I leaned on the edge of the old office parapet and peered down at the scene unfolding before me.

    It was an old dock, rarely used. A series of small boats were pulled alongside it, with spotlights pointed at the parking lot. Nearly two dozen men swarmed the lot, half securing the cargo to the truck, the other half armed with rifles and standing as security. They were dressed in dark colors mostly, with makeshift tactical gear on the security guards and safety gear on the workers. All of them were of an asian ethnicity.

    Everything I read and had been told pointed to this being an ABB operation; the gang exclusively recruited only asian individuals into its ranks. I was surprised by the number of men at work as I had been under the impression that at most, the ABB had maybe sixty members to its name. It was perhaps possible these were initiates, temporary members, outside ‘assistance’, or even folks that were forced into work.

    I was unable to see inside the cargo container itself, it was lined with some kind of lead plating which was concerning. But, I could hear the cargo. I heard voices inside yelling in panic, a few slamming against its corrugated walls. When they did, one of the guards would kick the wall and yell out a few choice curses in Chinese. ABB or not, it seemed obvious to me that whatever they were up to, it was far from legal.

    “Time to get to work, Kara.” I murmured to myself, and jumped the parapet and landed softly in front of the building.

    I cleared my throat, my Mandarin was a little rusty, and said, <So, what’s in the box boys?>

    A dozen guns swiveled towards me along with twenty four eyes; some things transcended universes, evidently. I sighed and held up my hands in a gesture of peace, <It’s just a simple question, friends.>

    I heard a radio crackle, one of the guards spoke quietly to the man in charge, in Japanese surprisingly, <That’s the cape that’s been causing havoc all day. What do we do?>

    Their leader, a short stout fellow standing on top of the cargo container, tensed at the question, and answered in a whisper, <Call Lung, and try to slow her down until he gets here.>

    <That’s a great idea!> I interrupted in Japanese, <Call him down, he and I can have a nice chat once I’m done with you guys. Now come on, are you going to make this easy on yourselves, or->

    Six of them opened fire on me, not appreciating my banter; fair enough. Even though they were using high powered weapons (at least compared to what most of the crooks I’d dealt with that day were using) any rounds I didn’t catch bounced harmlessly off my skin. The ricochet’s I snatched out of the air just as easily. When the gunfire slowly ceased, I held out both hands and let the spent ammo shower to the ground. There were murmurs of shock; the unarmed men were slowly moving away from me while the guards lowered their rifles in amazement.

    <I’d really consider you’re next step carefully fellas.> I dusted my hands off and put them on my hips, <Actually, here, let me make it easier for you.>

    A flash of my heat vision, and the barrels of a dozen rifles melted into slag in a flash of steam and sparks. Most of the men dropped their weapons in shock; they were the ones I went after first. The air shuddered as I rushed forward in the blink of an eye. I ripped rifles from hands, tripped up those trying to flee, and tied them all up with a nice bow. Literally, I stole a few of the straps from the truck and used it to secure the crooks in bundles of three or four men each.

    I tightened the last rope with a satisfying tug. My new captives bombarded me with a surprising number of curses in half a dozen languages, when they weren’t panicking at how quickly I had rounded them up. There was a reason crime like this didn’t exist in Metropolis anymore. Men with guns were to us like a child with a water gun was to an adult.

    But these weren’t children, I had to remind myself, these were men. Though I may mock them and tease them, it was for their cruelty and malice towards others, never for their weakness. That was the most important lesson Kal had imparted to me when he taught me how to be Supergirl, I think. That to mock a man for their weakness made you a bully, a villain. Mocking a man for his evil however, could steal away his power; only fear and terror made the evil truly powerful, and if you laughed in their faces, what more could they do to you?

    <Aryan whore!> the leader spat at me, his voice dripping with venom.

    I rolled my eyes, <It’s a good thing I’m shifting you all off to prison. That should give you plenty of time to come up with more creative insults, friend.>

    More insults followed, but I ignored them and floated back over to the cargo container. It had fallen worryingly silent when I arrived, but I could hear soft whispers inside. Hostages or victims perhaps, leverage for the gang to extend its reach over the city. Despicable, but not surprising.

    I ran a finger along the door, found a good point for leverage, and slowly peeled the door open with a low groan of protest from the metal. The harsh dock light filled the interior of the cargo container, alighting a chorus of surprise from inside. I nearly froze as the container's contents were revealed to me.

    Packed as tight as they could fit were women, dozens of them. Asian, caucasian, afircan-american, the ethnicity didn’t matter. The common thread between every captive, they were female and they were young. Some wore battered clothes, some wore none, some were clad in rags; all of them were covered in their own filth, an odor that made my eyes water. Dozens of sets of hallowed eyes looked up at me, lost and confused. Some of them were barely ten years old.

    Metal groaned and I realized I had crushed the edge of the container in my grip. I released it and set my jaw. I felt my entire body tremble as I knelt on one knee before the women, forcing a friendly smile on my face.

    “How many of you can walk?” I asked.

    Silence at first, and no reply. An aching emptiness filled only by the distant sounds of Brockton Bay that sounded so very far away at the moment. A sob broke it, relief that quickly began to sweep through the captives. I had to cover my to hold back my own; it did nothing to hide my tears.

    -S-

    Thirty-three.

    That’s how many victims were locked in that cargo container.

    Many of them were covered in cuts and bruises, some fighting infection; thankfully there were few with broken bones, and I was able to lead them out into the clear night air without too much trouble. I put them opposite their former captors on the other side of the truck. There was no guarantee that the sight of the men wouldn’t have provoked some of the women to rage. There was no guarantee that I would’ve tried to stop them.

    I borrowed one of the guards phones and dialed the police. Several ambulances and half a dozen cruisers and a prison transport arrived in ten minutes. By then I had tended to the worst of the wounded with basic first aid, and some life was returning to the captives. I talked gently with all of them, trying to ease their minds and confirm that yes, they were safe now. The oldest of the captives was in her late twenties.

    The youngest was nine.

    When the first responders arrived, I took a minute to myself to collect my nerves. I stood at the edge of the dock, watching the waves roll up against its concrete edifice. The noise was soothing and let me clear my thoughts, a welcome relief. My temples throbbed, an unfortunate side effect of when I got angry, which didn’t help me cool my temper.

    I had seen evil, I had seen cruelty. I had watched madmen try to destroy the world, tyrants try to subvert the freedoms of the people, and monsters spread destruction for the sake of it. But there was something about the small scale and the very human nature of the crime that made me sick. The idea that anyone could… that they’d even consider it.

    My body tensed, and I took a deep breath. I had to remind myself, these men were no longer a threat. The police would deal with them, they wouldn’t hurt anyone else now. Their threat was dealt with. I could rest easy knowing their victims were free the injustice inflicted on them. There was no reason to get angry, it wouldn’t fix anything.

    <Lung’s gonna be pissed.> even from the other side of the dock, I heard the criminals talking amongst each other as the cops arrested them.

    <It’s a setback.> assured their leader, <But once he hears what happened, he’ll bust us out. We’ll be back in business in no time. Maybe with new merchandise too.>

    But sometimes, anger feels really good.

    The air shook, and suddenly the man found me looming over him. His face was illuminated by the red of my heat vision, twisted in surprise and fear. I grabbed him by the shirt, lifting him until his feet dangled helplessly in the air. One quick blast is all it would take, a flash of red light and he and all of his monsters in crime would be so much ash in the wind. It would be so easy. I was vaguely aware of surprised shouting from the police, shouts of surprise by my sudden appearance.

    Another deep breath, and the red light faded. I pulled the man closer until he was inches from my face, and demanded, <Lung. Where is he?>

    -S-



    <You never disappoint, Lung.> was the praise from Handa Nao.

    Lung barely paid the Yakuza representative any attention, focused more on the iron in his hands, and the bumping and shifting of the van. Other gangs may take a chance to travel in unnecessary style, ostentatious displays of wealth and power. Lung was content with a refurbished white van; outwardly a hideous thing, inside meticulously maintained. A cleverly disguised one way mirror cut the driver cabin off from the rest of the van while allowing the passengers to see the road outside. The rear of the van had been refitted into a clean semi-traditional kaigijitsu.

    It was important to hold onto the heritage of their ancestors, thought Lung. Though his path had taken him far, he never forgot where he had come from or what he sought to do. It was why the praise of men like Handa meant so little to him. A man like him was a sycophant, interested purely in his personal power while holding the illusion of respect before him.

    Lung was under no illusions; he was not a good person. But he did not present himself as such. His actions and words reflected who he was, and what he would do. A man like Handa would offer one hand in a gesture of peace while using the other to hide a knife behind his back. But, he was useful to Lungs own purposes.

    Feeling fire ripple across his hands, Lung gripped the rod of iron in his hands and squeezed. He took pleasure in using his abilities like this. Building, working with his hands eased the dragon in his soul. It kept his temper in line, and kept his mind sharp. Few knew it, but many of the blades those in the ABB favored, he had forged. Frankly, he would have preferred to stay at one of his many safe houses that night, quietly working away the night on a new blade.

    But no, he had to talk with Handa.

    <Do you have what I asked for?> he asked bluntly.

    Handa’s personable smile faded at Lungs tone, but he maintained his illusion of respect. The briefcase at his side found its way to his hands, and he opened it up to reveal a manilla envelope,. <Everything we have on recent Yanban movements. Their numbers, their operations. Everything the Yakuza know.>

    The cost had been high, to get such information. It had been a worthwhile cost; never again would he choke under the yolk of the Chinese. Lung set aside the now flattened chunk of iron and took the envelope from Handa. A movement from the driver’s cabin caught Lung’s attention.

    He thumped a hand against the mirror, and grunted, <Oni-Lee. What is it?>

    <I thought I saw something. It was just a street light flickering.>

    Lung frowned at that. As a warrior, Oni-Lee was excellent, brutal and merciless. He had been of great help to Lung, and his loyalty was a rare thing. But his intuition was lacking and had grown more so once he had entered Lung’s service.

    <Keep alert. Report anything out of the ordinary.> Lung ordered. Better to be safe than sorry, that was how he had survived in this city for so long.

    He sat back down in his seat, and picked up the folder, <Apologies. Where were we?>

    The words left his mouth, and the entire van flipped. There was no warning no buildup. One moment, Lung was ready to continue his conversation, the next the entire world began spinning, his entire existence a series of spinning images and screaming metal as the van flipped on its side end over end. Without a seatbelt on, Lung was flung loosely about the cabin, feeling something crack as he was. The lights remained on for the first spin, by the second they flickered and by the third he was shrouded in darkness.

    Then, he was no longer in the car. He was flying, soaring across the empty street, and landed on the sidewalk in a heap. His body ached, his legs moved slowly to his command, and he was all but certain his ribs were broken. In the late city night, there was little light; he had intentionally set their meeting in the docks to avoid prying eyes. Now he could barely see, save for the street lamps that illuminated the empty streets.

    Lung managed to get his arms under himself and pushed up into a pained sitting position. The van lay on its side resting against a street lamp, utterly ruined. One side had been torn clean open and Lung saw no sign of neither Handa nor Oni-Lee. The latter he knew would have taken action the moment they were attacked; he didn’t care about the former.

    The only question now was who in Brockton Bay would be stupid enough to attack him, and how soon could he rip them to pieces for this brazen insult. Already he could feel the fire racing through his veins, sealing shut cuts and scrapes and soothing the pain in his bones. Lung forced himself to his feet, ignoring the flare of pain in his side. Fire rippled along his left hand, dripping onto the street.

    A noise from above caught his attention and he whirled toward it, his now clawed hand filled with fire. He stopped himself at the last second; Handa Nao hung from the street lamp, bound by rope and a rag stuffed in his mouth. He appeared unscratched, and was wriggling hopelessly against his bindings. Had the Protectorate sent Assault and Velocity after him? Velocity had great speed but his ability to influence the world was limited; this couldn’t be his work. New Wave had no one with that level of speed or subtlety, so who…

    His answer fell from the sky atop the ruins of the van, flattening it in an instant. A woman in blue and red with golden rose from the wreckage, her eyes burning with fire and Oni-Lee held tightly in one hand. She stepped up onto a flattened tire, her gaze centered on Lung, unaware that Oni-Lee’s body was disintegrating.

    Lung felt a grin form behind his now ruined metal mask, “You have made a great mistake tonight, girl.”

    Her scowl deepened, and her hand shot out like a serpent to her side. Oni-Lee materialized beside her, grenades in hand, just in time for her hand to wrap tightly around his eyes. She forced him to the ground with the same ease of a parent disciplining a rowdy child, and Lung saw his chance.

    While she forced Oni-Lee down against his protests, Lung ran in the opposite direction toward the nearest alley. He needed time, time to build up his strength against an opponent like this. Though he was powerful, it took time to light his fire, time his opponent didn’t seem intent on giving him. Once his strength was sufficient, he could free Oni-Lee and the two of them would tear this newcomer apart.

    Lung turned the corner into the alley, and ran face first into the woman. He rebounded off her as if he had ran into a concrete wall, nearly falling on his ass. His feet shuffled back and he remained standing, letting fire race up his arms. The woman floated a foot off the ground, arms crossed and face thoroughly unamused. She would not give him the time he needed; which meant he’d have to fight for time.

    He lunged, claws burning and slashed at her; his first scraped harmlessly off her midsection, the next she dodged. A third never came, as she clocked him across the jaw. His mask shattered across the pavement, and Lung saw stars in his eyes as he reeled sideways across the alley. He saw doubles as the woman landed on the pavement and walked towards him.

    “You’ll regret this.” growled Lung, running a hand across his bloodied chin. The sight of his own blood sent him raging.

    Scales began to ripple across his flesh, muscle bulked and bones groaned under the strain of his power. He wrapped his hands around the womans throat, pushing her back into the nearby wall so hard it cracked. A snarl bubbled up from his chest through newly formed fangs as fire dribbled from his mouth.

    “You’ve awoken a dragon. You’ve sealed your fate.” he rumbled.

    The woman grabbed both his hands, and slowly pried them off her. Lung’s snarl turned into a noise of confusion as she easily pulled his arms off her. His arms shook against hers, all his current strength nothing to her. Her expression was one of anger, but not one of challenge.

    “I’m not afraid of fairy tales.” she said simply, and slammed her head against his eyes.

    Stars flashed in Lung’s eyes, and she released his hands. Lung grabbed at his bleeding forehead, the cut already beginning to seal shut, when the woman punched him once in the gut. He vomited fire and bile onto the alley floor, doubling over and cradling his stomach. The strength in his legs failed and he fell to his knees, now more confused than angry.

    Who was this woman, where had she come from?

    He looked up at her to see her pulling back her fist, “You’re not hurting anyone, ever again.” she declared.

    And everything went black.
    -S-

    Armsmaster’s already frayed mood was ruined when he stepped out of the elevator into the parking lot and saw that the media had managed to sneak its way inside. Worse, Kate Lockwell had managed to find her way inside again. She had no camera man with her this time, just a miniature camera apparatus strapped to her shoulder as she rushed towards him.

    He had been looking forward to his patrol, a chance to test the new transmission on his bike and use his compression cage. The night was clear, the city sounded peaceful and the lot was relatively empty. Late night shifts were his personal favorites, and a chance to not deal with Dauntless was one he had been eager to take.

    Now he had to deal with Brockton Bay’s local ‘intrepid reporter’ who lacked enough sense to realize her employers were taking advantage of her. This was the last thing he needed; maybe he’d call Dragon after on patrol, share some of his new ideas for the nano-thorn with her. Until then though, he’d have to deal with her.

    “Armsmaster! A moment of your time please.” she asked, pointing her microphone at him.

    “I’m busy, Miss Lockwell. I don’t have time to answer questions.” he replied bluntly.

    She was a relatively short woman compared to him, and had to jog next to him to match his long stride.”Nonsense, I think anyone can manage to answer at least one or two questions.”

    “I have no time to answer questions you might ask.” Armsmaster amended.

    “Huh, so you’re saying the Protectorate is actively avoiding speaking to the people now? Is that right?” she asked, a smirk on her face.

    Armsmaster was about ready to whirl on her and read her the riot act, again, when a voice interrupted the two of them. “Excuse me! Is this the Protectorate Headquarters?”

    Kate’s eyes went wide as dinner plates, and when Armsmaster looked up in the direction of the voice, he felt his jaw hang open. Floating about ten feet above the lot was the new cape that had made her appearance earlier today. In one hand she held a bound and gagged Oni-Lee with his eyes covered by a cloth. In the other, was an unconscious Lung, bound with strips of metal that looked like they’d been peeled off of a van.

    Armsmaster felt himself go speechless for the first time in a very long time. Supergirl looked around when she got no answer and held up Lung, “Cause, I took down Lung but I’m not sure when he’ll wake back up and I figured you guys might have a prison cell to hold him or something. I’d rather not have to punch his lights out every time he wakes up; even with a healing factor, that’s not good for the brain.”

    Finally, Armsmaster found his voice, “Y-yes. Yes this is the Protectorate Headquarters, we can hold Lung

    She looked relieved, “Oh good. He’s a lot heavier than he looks, I would’ve gotten tired holding him all night.”

    Armsmaster watched as she landed and set Lung and Oni-Lee at his feet. She dusted her hands off on her skirt and offered one to him while wearing a friendly smile, “Hi! I’m Supergirl, I’m new in town.” He slowly took it and was surprised at how gentle her grip was; most brutes had a stern handshake, intentional or not.

    “I’m...Armsmaster. I’m head of the local ENE Protectorate. I… we had heard about your activities earlier today, but how did you…?”

    It was inconceivable; Lung had fought off the entire Protectorate on multiple occasions. When not fighting he was a ghost, near impossible to locate unless he wanted to be found. Armsmaster had spent too many sleepless nights devising strategies to find and capture him, only to be foiled by unforseen complications. How had this newcomer managed to do in one night what he hadn’t accomplished in years!? Despite himself, Armsmaster felt his jaw.

    “I busted a… trade.” She explained, a dark tone in her voice. “After, I talked with one of his crooks and found out he was in a meeting with a Yakuza representative. Once I found that out, it was easy enough to scan the Docks with my super hearing and x-ray vision until I found him driving around. I made sure to take him out as quick as possible; I didn’t want things to escalate.”

    Noting the explanation of some of her powers, Armsmaster nodded and knelt next to Lung. On his left gauntlet, a tranquilizer dart popped out from his wrist and he injected it in Lung’s arm.

    “That will keep him out cold for the next hour or so,” he explained. The man thought back to his conversation with Director Piggot and added, “If you have a minute, Supergirl, I’d like to talk to you about joining the Protectorate.”

    The young woman shook her head, the light flashing along her golden hair, and smiled, “No thank you Armsmaster. I’m flattered by the offer, but I prefer to work with the government, not for it. If you guys ever need help dealing with any scumbags though, I’m more than happy to help.”

    Armsmaster nodded and frowned. Anyone smart enough and strong enough to take Lung out was probably confident enough in their own abilities to see the Protectorate as superfluous. At least she wasn’t dismissing them out of hand though; they could work with that.
    With a twist of his wrist, a slip of paper ejected from his right gauntlet, and he handed it to Supergirl, “My number, if you change your mind.”

    She put it in her belt and nodded, “Thank you, I’ll hold onto it just in case. Thanks for taking Lung off my hands though, I hope he doesn’t give you any trouble.”

    The air swirled softly around her feet as she lifted off the ground and saluted. Right as she was about the fly off though, Kate suddenly found her voice and said, “W-wait! Hold on!”

    Supergirl stopped and looked at her, a golden brow raised in question. Kate smoothed her skirt and stepped forward, “Kate Lockwell, Brockton Bay News Network. Do you have a moment to answer some questions, Supergirl?”

    Armsmaster contacted a few officers inside the headquarters and made no attempt to warn Supergirl about the BBNN. He had more important issues to focus on, like locking up Oni-Lee and Lung. Besides, if she was capable of handling herself as well as she seemed to, she could handle a little negative press. That was what he told himself anyway, as Supergirl landed and began answering Kate’s questions in earnest.


    A/N: Crossposting this story from SB because why not. Let me know your thoughts and if there are any formatting issues that stick out. Thanks!
     
  5. Tranquil Zebra

    Tranquil Zebra Equid of Peerless Tranquility

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    Nice! Might be a little light on responses if you are crossposting, but I thought I'd trawl through some of Creative Writing on QQ as well, so here you go.

    Minor niggle, plural means the suffix "-s" without ', and I think I saw "nazi's" somewhere in there where it should have been "nazis". Usually, I read texts I write back to myself and expand the contractions and try to turn the genitive around ("apples of or belonging to Bob" instead of "Bob's apples") to ensure everything is in its proper place and makes sense.
     
  6. Grimmouse197

    Grimmouse197 I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Nice to see this story here ......
     
  7. Thorfaxdragonkin

    Thorfaxdragonkin Getting out there.

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    Very nice to see something other than the typical Taylor becomes Supergirl trope that has become so damn common look forward to more chapters
     
    Gryphalcon likes this.
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