1.6

One, two, three

It had been almost a week since she arrived in Brockton Bay.

Four, five, six

One more day til she had to decide whether or not to join the Protectorate.

Seven, eight, nine

A week since she d-died.

Ten, eleven, twelve

She wanted to join, she did. It sounded good. Be a hero, help protect people, it sounded just like being a Huntress.

Sounded like.

Pyrrha couldn't shake the feeling that the Protectorate and PRT weren't as good as they seemed. She had experience with illusions, hell, she practically was one herself as the Invincible Girl. Pyrrha knew that idyllic heroism wasn't a thing. All there was, was action.

Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen.

She racked the bar above her, sitting up, and taking a large swig of the water bottle she had next to her. The PRT had a rather comprehensive gym, though few people other than her were in it at the moment.

She spent the week keeping in shape and learning as much about the world as she could. With every little tidbit she found about her current predicament, the PRT and Protectorate both gained and lost a point.

A news report about Protectorate heroes stopping a gang fight? Point for.

Comments about how they didn't do much, and that the media gave them too much credit? Point against.

The Wards, the junior superhero team, visiting a local high school? Point for.

Learning about how the community outreach they do is scheduled to a T and part of their requirements for being in the Wards? Point against.

It went like that for a while. Everything she found seemed to be good but with a little 'but' attached to it. Pyrrha could live with the 'but'. If they were a well-intentioned group, that was tied a little bit to not be perfect, she could deal with that. She just couldn't tell if there was more to it.

She talked to Miss Militia about the Protectorate after her spar with Armsmaster, which didn't really help. For all that Miss Militia seemed angry about her being recruited right away, the older woman seemed to adore the group. Everything she said seemed to come directly out of the press reports she'd found online. The Protectorate was great. The Protectorate was just. The Heroes would save the day.

And that meeting. It reminded her so much of the meeting she had with Ozpin about becoming the Maiden, even down to how they stood. You had the leader at the desk, sitting across from you, with a seat that lifted them higher than you. You had the stern second in command standing at attention just behind and to the side of the leader. You even had the roguish person in the back, 'apart' from the group.

Pyrrha had died once for making a decision with haste, she couldn't bear to do so again.

But was she being too paranoid? Was the Protectorate what they seemed to be?

She was about to sigh, when a young voice spoke up behind her.

"So, you're the one who kicked Armsmaster's ass."

XXX

Sophia was curious.

When they were getting briefed on Pyrrha Nikos, she wasn't really paying attention. I mean, sure, from a different dimension, that was kinda cool, but Sophia didn't really care. She hadn't joined yet, and she was 18 anyways, nothing for her to worry about.

She asked Miss Militia if she could hold her own in a fight, and that's when she learned that Pyrrha Nikos kicked Armsmaster's ass in 20 seconds flat.

Then, she was interested.

Sophia respected strength, plain and simple. And Armsmaster was the strongest out of everyone in the goddamn building. Well, not technically both buildings, 'cause the Wards got moved to the PRT building after some bullshit with Piggy, and the Protectorate was still on the Rig, but still. She respected Armsmaster's strength. Even if he was a raging asshole.

If she could just dominate Armsmaster like that, and she was only 18. Maybe, just maybe, she could be someone like her.

And so, she arrived at the PRT building half an hour earlier than usual, donned her costume, and went out to find her.

After checking the room she was given, to no avail, she checked the next place a potential predator might be. The gym. It was usually where Sophia herself ended up after a boring console shift, or a long day at school. She wasn't the biggest fan of pumping iron, but she made use of the strength and conditioning programs the PRT offered the Wards.

She walked into the gym, spotting a woman with bright red hair over on the bench press machine, steadily pushing through a set, and racking the bar. Damn, that was good form. Even though she didn't lift, she could respect some goo-Holy shit was that 300 pounds?!

Sophia recognized the large 100 pound weights, that she hadn't seen anyone use beyond a squat or dead-lift, with another 25 on each side of the 50 pound bar. Oh, hell yes, she was gonna talk to this chick.

"So, you're the one who kicked Armsmaster's ass," she called out in a complimentary tone as she stepped up. Sophia had a knowing smile on her face, as Pyrrha turned around.

Her faced brightened as she noticed her costume. "Oh, hello there! You're Shadow Stalker, yes? Of the Wards?"

Sophia rolled her eyes. Did she seriously not know who sh-wait, right, from a different dimension. Forgot about that.

She realized she'd been just standing there for a minute, not saying anything, and she jumped back to respond, "Oh, uh, yeah, that's me."

Pyrrha stood up, and Sophia realized just how much taller she was and just how ripped she was. Did this girl fight giant bears for a living or something, cause god-damn she was built.

"I would shake your hand," Pyrrha started, "but unfortunately mine are a little dirty right now."

Sophia looked down at the aforementioned appendages, seeing the calloused and roughened fingers beneath the layers of lifting chalk and sweat. She started salivating, those were the hands of a hunter.

Suddenly, her mouth was a little dry. She coughed lightly, "So, uh, you're gonna be joining up, yeah?"

Pyrrha pursed her lips, "I'm not sure yet, I still haven't decided whether or not it is a good fit for myself."

Oh shit, she needed to get her to join the team. As long as she had someone like her waiting in the Protectorate, she could bear the next two years of dealing with the fuckin' kids.

"Ah," she started, shrugging in an attempt to seem nonchalant, "for, uh, for what it's worth, I think you should do it."

The two stood in silence for a moment. Sophia, feeling the awkwardness of the situation, started to leave, "I'm just gon-"

"What do you think of the program."

-And spun directly back as Pyrrha interrupted her. She was staring directly at her with vibrant green eyes, questioning. No, interrogating. Damn, this girl was definitely a predator.

Her costume suddenly felt very hot, and she tried harder to seem relaxed. "Eh, the other Wards are kinda annoying, and Piggy's a bitch-"

"Who?"

"Oh, uh," Sophia stopped lamely, "Director Piggot."

Pyrrha's eyes narrowed a little, her tone growing accusing, "You should show the Director more respect."

Sophia nearly choked. Respect? Piggy? Was this predator nothing but some-some goody two shoes? The fuck was she seeing before? No, no, it couldn't be that. It had to be some military shit. Blind respect for authority. Yeah, that was it.

"Yeah, right, uh, Director Piggot's a, um, yeah." She shook her head, desperate to change the subject and make a good impression on Pyrrha. "But, uh, at the end of the day, we do get the bad guys, so it's not that bad.

"And besides," she added, "They are the ones in charge and they're public, so none of that shady bullshit that you get with villains."

Pyrrha seemed to think about that for a moment, before responding. "I...thank you, Shadow Stalker. You helped me come to a decision." She stepped around her, patting her shoulder, ignoring the fact that her hands were rather dirty. "Thanks."

Pyrrha walked out of the gym, and Sophia let out a breath she had been holding, her heartbeat racing. Fuck that girl was intense. She looked like she could have killed her 20 different ways with a fucking spoon. Goddamn.

Sophia shook herself off, and went back to the Wards room.

AN: Oooh, someone's got a bit of a crush. Sophia is a weird person, both fiercely independent and lonely as all hell. Trying to do unreliable narrator is hard, hopefully that was visible. Pyrrha's not that scary, Sophia just sees life similarly to Rachel with body language and shit.