Based on the web serial "Worm" by wildbow.


Mother of Exiles


It had been a simple plan. The Brockton Bay Brigade needed warm bodies, namely female ones, to take down the Marquis. A little cooperation from the Protectorate might warm the local heroes to the idea of eventually signing onto the city's new PRT branch, especially if all the credit for the collar were to go to the Brigade.

Hannah was raised to be a good soldier. So, she volunteered.

"Are you cold? I can get you another blanket."

Amelia shook her head.

She offered the six year-old a reassuring smile. That the child's eyes kept sliding down to MAC-10s holstered on Hannah's hips suggested it did not entirely work.

"Do you want to... to pray before you go to sleep?"

Hannah's adoptive parents had taught her to do that each night, even if she herself did not sleep, and it had become a lifetime habit. Faith anchored her on the bad days. Brockton Bay had many of those. This child had certainly just experienced one.

"My daddy never taught me that."

No surprise there.

She didn't want to get the girl out of bed to kneel, not after tucking her in, especially with how cold the plate metal of her unfinished bedroom here at PHQ was.

Construction hadn't finished yet, and living quarters were a low priority. Hannah herself was the only Protectorate member who lived on-base. Unmarried and rarely needing sleep, it had previously suited her needs. Now, she would need to look into buying a house so she'd have some place to take her new daughter home to.

"Prayer," Hannah explained, "is when we close our eyes and talk to God. We thank Him for all the good in our lives, and ask Him to give us the strength to deal with things that make us sad."

"Oh."

"It's okay. You don't have to close your eyes."

"Can I pray for God to give me my daddy?"

"Sweetie, your daddy can't come back. He has to go far away. Remember? He told you that I'll be taking care of you from now on."

Amelia suddenly looked like she was going to cry again.

"But you can pray that he stays safe."

"O-okay."

Hannah shifted in her seat. The prospect of being stuck at her desk for the next few hours wasn't a comfortable one, but she didn't want to risk leaving the girl unguarded. The Marquis had many enemies, and already they were moving against his territory. If Hannah lapsed in her duty, then Amelia would be a casualty in a war she didn't even comprehend, just because of who she was.

"You know," Hannah began, "I was only a little older than you when my mommy and daddy went away."

"Really?"

"Have you ever heard of a place called Turkey?"

"Like Thanksgiving."

Hannah smiled. "Yes. Like Thanksgiving."

Amelia returned the smile. Weakly. But it was something.

"There was a war. They were-" murdered "-trying to keep me safe, so they sent me to a far away land called the United States of America. A man called The Colonel and his wife took me in, and they became my new mommy and daddy."

"Did you ever see your real parents again?"

"They're all my real parents. It doesn't matter where you came from, when you're family. That's true for you and me. We're family now."

"So... you're my mommy?"

"If you want. Or I can be Aunt Hannah, or just 'Hannah'. Whatever makes you happiest, Amelia."

The six year old was quiet for a long time.

"Can I think about it?"

Hannah nodded. "Take as long as you need."

"Okay."

They sat there together, in the dim and sparsely furnished cabin, listening to the far-off sound of construction on the converted oil rig. Slowly, slowly, Amelia's eyelids closed. Her breathing grew shallow.

The child slept.

And Hannah kept vigil, guns handy.