Based on the web serial "Worm" by wildbow.


Setting Sights


"I, Miss Militia, do solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the director appointed over me, according to the regulations of the PRTCJ."

There were polite applause, but only that. The spectre of Miss Militia's predecessor hung over the room.

Like his replacement, Colin had been one of the original Wards, and had risen on merit to head the Protectorate East-North-East. He'd always been the utmost professional, hungry to prove himself. Piggot once respected that. But he'd headed Brockton Bay for a long time, almost as long as she herself had been Director, and had no prospect of rising higher. Piggot at least had the luxury of not having a young pup like Dauntless nipping at her heels.

Perhaps that's why the capes under Armsmaster's command had been dismayed but not totally surprised this last week. Lung's death in custody might have been premeditated murder or it might have been simple negligence on his part, but either way Colin's career was over. The Protectorate would stick him in a lab somewhere under 'voluntary' house arrest and milk his intellect for what it was worth.

There wouldn't be a trial or much of an investigation - too much scandal - and that suited Piggot just fine.

As Miss Militia worked the room, accepting token congratulations, the Director's eyes slid over to her newest Ward. Taylor Hebert didn't seem to know how to hold herself. Guilt? It was hard to imagine. She had certainly been horrified to learn about Lung's death, but that might have been due to the idea of Armsmaster using her, a rookie hero, as a patsy.

Still, Piggot thought to herself, better inside the tent pissing out.

The other Wards were all accounted for. Aegis was quietly talking with Clockblocker and Gallant. Kid Win wrote on the tablet in his hands, doubtlessly composing weapons designed to cause ever-bigger paperwork headaches for Piggot. Browbeat was flirting with someone from accounting. Vista looked bored, and it unsettled Piggot to see the girl emoting at all.

You'd hardly know that the group lost one of their own, but then Shadow Stalker had never played well with her teammates. Her own mother had taken the revelations of her poor school conduct badly, as well as the allegations Piggot had let slip about her daughter using lethal force against some criminals in violation of her parole. Piggot had been firm about there being no hard evidence, certainly nothing she could get a warrant for, but that had only seemed to spur the elder Hess to toss her daughter's bedroom.

Poor woman. She'd been in tears when she had called back, with news about those bolts she'd found.

Good to have another unstable element removed, though. It would also go a long way to selling Weaver on the worth of the PRT as an institution. She and the Wards could bond over putting a big win under their belts, like stamping out a minor crime gang or two.

Maybe the Undersiders.

But perhaps that particular pleasure could wait a little while.

Bakuda should be her first priority, Piggot reminded herself. Keep the city from descending into a vicious cycle of chaos that would draw Leviathan in next month. Also, prevent Dinah Alcott's kidnapping. And then? Piggot had a hunch that there'd be a tip-off about a certain local crime lord and his relationship to a prominent PRT official, and it wouldn't do to have some rat bastard parahuman traitor torch the Constitution for the sake of his own personal ambition.

In the long term, something would need to be done about Cauldron fifth columnists like Director Costa-Brown. Miss Hebert's recruitment was one step to a possible final solution there. Then there was the Slaughterhouse Nine. Whatever Jack Slash had done, he had sent Scion himself into a murderous rampage. Word had barely come in about the annihilation of the United Kingdom before that golden light had shone on New York City, where Piggot had been stationed, and the whole world had caught fire.

Emily Piggot didn't know how she came to be here in the past. It wasn't because she triggered. A brain scan had proved that, thank God. What she did know was that she had been given this second chance for a reason: as long as she drew breath, humans would run Brockton Bay, not self-righteous freaks who wanted to drag the United States into medieval times.

In a world that would have gone mad, it took a sane person to set things right.