So I've been thinking about doing a Worm crossover for a while, and have several thoughts in the works, not the least of which being a crossover with Final Fantasy XIV. That being said, I also love XCOM 2 and decided my first foray into either fandom would be based on Seerking's Survive, Adapt, Win prompt.

Thanks go to him for looking this over for me and performing the invaluable task of being a perpetual sounding board!

For those who are worried about Nothing Is True, an update is coming soon! I've scrapped and restarted the chapter so many times because I can't get the coup going the way I want it, but I'm six pages out of ten at the moment, so we're almost there!

Please make sure to leave a review, and I hope you enjoy!


Because Of The War

Chapter One

Fate Changed By Chance


Brockton Bay, Massachusetts. The shithole of the East Coast, and arguably of the United States as a whole. Spiritual home of the Neo-Nazis, druggies, and pseudo-Triad. Literal home of some of the most powerful villains in the world, and unfortunately the smallest contingent of heroes. The people of the city had long since accepted that the federal government and the protectorate didn't give a single solitary damn about them. Not surprising, after all, if one stopped to think about it. Most of the citizens didn't give a damn about their city any longer, so why should the government?

There were some who tried, of course, and while they couldn't truly improve things, they were able to arrest the degradation. To slow it as much as possible, to save what fractions of their home that they could. Prime amongst these few was a man whose name was spoken with mingled admiration and irritation by local authorities, grudging respect by the gang leaders, and outright fear by the gangbangers: Daniel Hebert. Head of Hiring and The Spokesman for the Dockworkers Association.

Danny, as he was more commonly referred to, had been elevated to de-facto head honcho when he had caught the actual Director working with the gangs in order to pocket some cash. Push came to shove and the rank and file had stood behind Danny. The gang's had been swiftly and sometimes brutally run out of the entire area around the docks, and any attempts to reenter had been crushed.

Unwilling to deploy their capes for a less than impressive gain, the three main players had decided that the territory under the aegis of the DWA was a no-go zone. Which suited them just fine. They were willing to go after the gangs for their people, their homes, but none of them were fond of the idea of going up against capes and drying, leaving their families bereft.

The same hands-off rule applied, naturally, to Danny's only daughter, one Taylor Hebert. If Danny and the DWA were willing to go to bat (literally, as it happened) for an area of the city that was in ruins from an Endbringer's destructive efforts, going after the recently widowed man's child was sure to provoke outright warfare.

With the Protectorate camped out in the wealthier parts of the city, the Archer's Bridge Merchants to the North, Azn Bad Boyz to the South, the DWA to the East, and Empire Eighty-Eight to the West, an uneasy status quo had the city perpetually dancing on the razor's edge of total destruction. This cauldron of chaos, ready to overthrow into feudal warfare, would have inevitably led to agony and suffering if something didn't change. Change that would be brought about by young Taylor, but not until change was brought to her by a source that no one could have ever predicted.

It was entirely by chance that led to Paige McAbee running into Taylor, quite literally, one evening as both were out for an afternoon jog along The Boardwalk. Both were deeply distracted by personal troubles, bother were listening to music, and both fell to the ground in a tumble of limbs with cries of shock and pain.

"Ah, shit, sorry! I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going!" Taylor, a green-eyed ravenette of a rather tall and spindly build, scrambled to her feet and offered a hand to the blue-eyed blonde who was of a head shorter but rather more developed build. "I didn't hurt you too badly, did I?"

"No, no, I'm totally fine! I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going either, so I really can't hold anything against you even if I wanted to!" Paige responded, allowing herself to be pulled to her feet. She immediately swayed woozily, having stood up too quickly, and found herself getting guided gently to a bench. "Alright, I got up way too fast there. Need to get a little more blood topside."

The other girl gave a soft, commiserating laugh. Everyone had been there and done that at least a few times in their lives, so Taylor could certainly understand how she felt. They sat in silence for a moment before Paige spoke again.

"My name is Paige, Paige McAbee. What's yours, running girl?" she offered her hand for a shake, and Taylor laughed brightly before taking the hand and introducing herself in unison with a firm handshake.

'Well, this has to be the strangest introduction that I've ever had, but there are definitely worse people I could have run into." Taylor continued, getting a laugh from her companion, who took the compliment for what it was. She knew what Taylor meant, that other people would have started a fight or even called the police in response to the accident. And it was an obvious accident, anyone with half a brain could tell that much!

"Never fear, I'm not that petty." She reassured Taylor dryly with a smile, a smile that fell of her face as her phone rang and she recognized her boyfriend Eugene's ringtone. Voice dull, she answered. "What do you want, Eugene?"

Taylor could only hear half of the following argument, of course, but she had enough brainpower, and enough experience watching crime shows, to recognize verbal abuse when she saw it. She listened as Paige tried to calm the male on the other side of the call as he raged at her, and her heart clenched when she saw small tears in Paige's eyes as she finally hung up on. Impulsively, the brunette pulled the blonde into a warm hug, holding her close as Paige sniffled dejectedly.

"Thanks, I needed that." Paige finally pulled away, looking utterly red-eyed and exhausted. Smiling more than little tremulously at her new friend, she continued. "I forgot to let him know I was going jogging today. Pretty dumb of me, huh?"

"Not in the least." Taylor refuted firmly, shaking her head. "I can understand him being worried about you, even frustrated because of it. Brockton Bay isn't exactly a safe city to wander about aimlessly without telling other people where you are going. That being said, treating you like this is much too far. Making you cry isn't exactly the most impressive sign of affection and concern, no?"

Paige grimaced unhappily at that, not particularly sure how to respond. Taylor was hardly the first person to tell her that Eugene wasn't treating her the way she deserved to be treated. In fact, everyone who had enough experience or information regarding the pair said as much, usually several times a conversation. The worst part of it all was that she couldn't objectively disagree, she knew that he wasn't behaving the way he should towards someone that he professed to love. Swinging wildly from sweet to cruel, affectionate to apathetic, he really had a tendency to hit all the hallmarks of an emotionally abusive relationship. It was one reason she had never slept with him, the other being that he seemed the type to record it and plaster it all over the internet. When she acknowledged these things to her distant family and friend back home, they couldn't understand why she was still with him, but the answer was far simpler than their more dramatic assumptions. Stockholm Syndrome, for example, which she wasn't entirely sure applied here. She wasn't actually his prisoner or kidnap victim after all.

He could destroy her life if he wanted to. If he was feeling spiteful after a break-up, he could reveal to the entire world that she was the famous and popular singer-Cape known as Bad Canary. Sure he would be breaking several laws and have huge fines and probably jail time, but tabloids and publishers would pay through a nose for a scandalous tell-all. Not that she could really explain that to most people, of course, without outing herself in the process. Which meant she just had to sit there in awkward silence.

"Listen, any time that you need to chat, just shoot me an email or call me or something, alright?" Taylor offered finally, pulling a small notebook out of her pocket and scribbling the pertinent information down before handing the small paper over. "You ever need someplace safe to stay, call the DWA. We'll find somewhere for you, no questions asked, alright?"

Patting her knee one last time, Taylor got to her feet and headed off, leaving Paige staring after her. It seemed that there were good people left in the world, in this city, after all. Without knowing how famous or wealthy she was, without trying to get into her pants, a complete stranger had offered her safety and protection without any discernable thought of recognition or reward.

The slip of paper in her hand suddenly seemed utterly invaluable to her, a treasure to be as cherished as the gesture that it represented. She couldn't remember the last time anyone had done something like that, and that fact was really rather sad, wasn't it? That a newly met person treated her better than some of those she had known for years? Oh yes, she had quickly learned how to tell the difference between true friends and fair-weather friends when she had moved to The Bay. One group stayed in touch and asked her to visit whenever she could, the other didn't speak with her unless she was visiting. Tucking the note carefully into her pants pocket, she lamented that Taylor would never know, never understand how much this meant to her.

Ironically, Taylor knew exactly much it mattered, but only because she felt the same way as Paige. Paige, a total stranger whom she had actually (if accidentally) injured, had treated her better than her sister in all but blood.

Emma Barnes, her best friend since kindergarten. The girl she had spent nearly every day with for the last decade. The girl who had without explanation or apparent cause greeted her only with cruelty and harsh words upon her return from summer camp. Shocked into silence, she had walked away without making a single attempt to discover what had happened. Even now, she had remained silent. She had only exacerbated whatever damage had been there with her silence, she knew, and her continued cowardice was doubtlessly only making it worse still.

So for the last month or so she had wallowed in her guilt and loneliness, binging on Earth Aleph dramas and getting her summer work done in a matter of days. Not exactly stereotypical behavior in high school student, but she had little else to do. Without Emma she had no social whatsoever. It was really rather pathetic, and immensely depressing. It didn't help that her father was essentially absent.

Between his wife (her mother) dying less than six months before and the daily struggle of maintaining the DWA and its territory, he didn't really have the strength to involve himself overmuch in Taylor's day to day life. She couldn't begrudge him that, her mother had been the entire world to him, and hundreds of people now looked to him for guidance and protection. With her on one end and such incredible weight on the other, was it a wonder that the balance was tipped against her? She thought not.

This meeting with Paige, this event that seemed like chance…it had to be so much more than that. A ray of sunshine, a sign of hope that was inevitably going to brighten her life, not that this would be particularly hard. She had, at last, a chance to help people like her father and her idols did. Sure she couldn't go beat up this Eugene for mistreating Paige, and she shouldn't do it over anything but physical abuse anyway, but she could give her someplace safe to be. An act no more or less important than fighting the likes of Lung or Kaiser. If she was able to make an awesome new best friend, all the better.

Hmm, that sounded a little…callous, a little mercenary, even in the privacy of her own mind. Fortunatly, she knew what she meant and how good her intentions actually were. Her desperation for a new friend wouldn't negate or influence her honest desire to help Paige. Her parents had always taught her that love and respect were the most important things in any relationship, and it was obvious that 'Eugene' had neither of these things for Paige.

Granted, she couldn't do anything without either Paige's request or enough evidence to act on her own, but she could plan for the eventuality nonetheless. Hopefully the fact that help was ready, willing, and able a single email or phone call away would inspire Paige to take the leap and cry out for help. Help that Taylor and the DWA would be more than happy to provide, friend of their boss or not.

Practically skipping with glee she hurried home, intent on getting to her email account, and thus any possible communiqué from Paige, as rapidly as possible. All of a sudden, life didn't seem quite so bleak as it had when she got up that morning.


Deep within her mind, the [Shard of The Thinker] known as the [Queen Administrator] stirred for the first time in nearly a year. Not because its Host sought Connection, regrettably, but rather because it sensed the proximity of a particular [Subordinate Shard], the [Enthralling Voice], as their Hosts met. Unlike [Dispersal of Physicality] and [Ultimate Dowsing], the two previous shards whose Hosts for own had interacted closely with the human, known as Paige McAbee was ripe for the greatest method of [Fulfillment of Purpose]: factionized conflict.

The ultimate purpose of the [Shards of The Warrior and The Thinker] was to evolve themselves, to become greater and more flexible through the ingenuity of their chosen hosts In order to spur that ingenuity, force that evolution, the shards inspired great conflict amongst the native species. The best way to do so, their Creators had found over the cycles, was to encourage and exacerbate division amongst those same natives.

Religion, politics, nations…all these and more had manipulated and twisted to turn the victims of The Thinker and The Warrior into open warfare, and they would continue to be manipulated and twisted. As the most versatile, and arguably the most powerful, [Shard of The Thinker], it often fell to the [Queen Administrator] and it's Host to lead one of those factions. Yet, a leader needed followers to lead, did it not?

Desperate, abused, and afraid, Paige McAbee would be an ideal candidate to be the first follower of this iteration. The only issue was the fact that the host, Taylor Hebert, had not yet sought Connection. This was no small problem, as its current host's family had proven to be incredibly durable and mentally resilient. None of them had ever reached for its power yet, no matter what they had suffered thus far. If its current host didn't seek connection soon, it would have to take drastic measures.

Still, it could afford to wait a little bit longer for the sake of letting it happen naturally, the method preferred by The Creators. The parameters it had been programmed with allowed it that much, at any rate. Soon, it would be Connected, and it could begin fulfilling its great Purpose.


Over the course of the next two weeks, the duo spent no small amount of time in each other's company, often roaming the Boardwalk together for hours at a time. Towards the start of the third week, Taylor actually ended up bringing Paige home to watch movies together, a not insignificant display of trust in a city like Brockton Bay. Paige was deeply tempted to reveal her secret identity, every instinct crying out to her that Taylor could be trusted with her greatest secret, but she resisted the urge. No matter how much she liked Taylor and Mr. Hebert, she had known them less than a month.

"Where the fuck've you been, bitch?" an extremely intoxicated and angry Eugene snarled at her as she walked in to see, and smell, a total shit show amid the chaotic mess of her formerly tidy and spotless condominium. Alcohol and drug paraphernalia was everywhere, and the building appeared to be full of people she didn't know.

"Out with a friend, not that it is any business of yours. Who are all of these people, Eugene? You know that you aren't allowed to bring anyone over here, especially total strangers!" she hissed back, furious that he had done something like this as she looked around her trashed home. She never should have given him a key, she should have known that something like this would happen sooner or later.

"I'm having a party with some friends, not my fault that you're such an uptight bitch that I gotta make my own damn fun!" he grumbled in response, taking another unsteady swig from his beer as he glowered at her from his place on the couch. "Fuck, you don't even put out, like you think you're better than that or something."

"I am better than that, Eugene!" she retorted coldly, crossing her arms and glaring around at the now-gawking drunk and high trespassers. "I have no intention of whoring around like some people. Now pack up your drunk druggie friends and get the fuck out of my house!"

"The hell I will! You don't get to boss me around, Paige!" he surged to his feet, face contorting with rage as he stomped up to loom over her. She glared up at him, refusing to back down despite cringing away internally as adrenaline began to flow, a trickle turned to flood.

"This is my house, Eugene! I bought it, I furnished it, I pay to keep it running! Now get your druggie friends out of here before I call the cops!" her temper was well and truly lost now, and so was his, because he backhanded her harshly, snapping her head to the side. She worked her jaw, tasting the copper of blood in her mouth, and felt her power rising inside her. It wanted to lash out, enthrall the fool who had dared to raise his hand to her, but she clamped down on it. Desperate not to lose control and commit a grave crime, she turned and fled, pulling out her cell phone and dialing the PRT hotline.

"Parahuman Response Teams, what is your emergency?" the professional male voice answered almost instantly, and she took a deep breath as she slipped into an elevator and it the button for the ground floor.

"This is Canary, I need law enforcement at my home immediately. I have just got hit by my boyfriend, Eugene Baker, who invaded my home with a bunch of random people and are all either drunk, high, or both. I left before the situation could escalate." She spoke quickly, following the protocol the PRT had given her when she had become a Master-class Rogue that regularly interacted with normal humans. She then gave him a quick rundown on the situation, with the silent understanding that 'escalate' meant using her power, thus her fleeing the vicinity.

"Understood, Canary. We'll get a team out there immediately. Do you have someplace to go or do you need secure lodgings?" he inquired seriously, and she shook her head despite the fact that he couldn't see it.

"I'm going to a friend's house, Taylor Hebert. She and her father said I could stay with them anytime for any reason." She responded aloud, receiving an acknowledgement before she was informed that the PRT would be in touch for a statement. Her next call was to Taylor's home, asking for help getting to their house. Without hesitation or question, they announced that she was remain where she was and that they were on the way to her.

As the adrenaline, the fight-or-flight, began fading away, Paige could feel the hurricane of emotion rising in her heart. She was not exactly prone to conflict or all that good at handling it, that was one reason she had refused point blank to join the PRT. It had taken a lot of wrangling after that to inspire any willingness to help her in such circumstances as now, but Dragon herself had supported her in persuading Armsmaster and Director Piggot.

When Taylor and her father arrived ten minutes later, faces tight with anger and concern for her, she threw herself into Taylor's arms and began sobbing and shaking uncontrollably. She was sure that her life was over now, that Eugene would plaster her name all over the news and destroy her career and private identity. She barely noticed Taylor guiding her into the backseat, buckling her in, and holding her as they headed back towards the docks. She didn't at all notice them pausing to quietly instruct a small group of DWA members on patrol to keep an extra eye on their house.

The rest of the night was a blur of emotional outpouring and desperate tears as she revealed her great secret to her friend. Despite all the negativity Paige had harbored, despite this not insignificant hidden facet of who she was, all Taylor did was comfort her. The last thing she was aware of before she fell asleep, utterly wrung out in every way, was Taylor's gentle hand rubbing her back, softly singing in a lilting language she didn't recognize.


Across the city, Protectorate ENE leader Collin Wallis, aka the tinker-class parahuman Armsmaster, stood in the shadows of a low rooftop and watched as a mix of PRT and BBPD tagged and bagged what had to be thousands of dollars of contraband. Weapons, drugs, alchohol, and culprit after culprit was extracted from the condo and sent away secured hand and foot. His gaze locked onto the primary security risk and instigator of the situation, one Eugene Baker, as he was pushed into an unmarked PRT car by none other than a plainclothes Miss Militia.

When Canary had called in the report, it had been something of a surprise. She had always been very good at avoiding any kind of trouble, and had always been equally reluctant to contact the PRT outside of the check-ins she had agreed to in exchange for the aid protocols. Aid protocols that were decidedly uncommon for the vast majority of Rogues, who were often outright ignored by the PRT due to their lack of affiliation. A policy that was meant to force them to join the PRT, but it was one that rarely succeeded in the end.

He and Director Piggot, however, had seen the opportunity to play a different kind of long game. Endearing and indebting such a powerful cape to the PRT could only have benefits far outweighing the minor expenditure of resources for occurrences like this. Besides which, his closest friend had taken a liking to, and was rather invested in, the young singer. What drew Dragon to the youth so much he didn't know, but Dragon never did or said anything without a very good reason. Even if that reason might seem bizarre or convoluted from the outside looking in.

A few minutes later, Miss Militia and himself were on their way back to 'The Rig', the Protectorate's HQ in Brockton Bay, conversing over their earbuds about their just-finished task. Militia was quick to inform her friend and nominal superior that the fall-down drunk Eugene had tried to reveal Canary's civilian identity no less than five times, only to get lost mentally halfway through the sentence every time. She also informed him that several of the individuals he had invited over had been gang members, primarily Merchants and Empire, with a single ABB member present. How that had even come to happen she had no idea, as they should have been picking fights with one another, if not trying outright kill their enemies. Her best guess was that a temporary truce had been declared in the hopes to gain some sort of benefit for their faction, her best guess being Canary's identity for 'recruitment'.

"...told the dispatcher that she would be staying with Mr. Daniel Hebert and his daughter Taylor. The damage caused to Ms. McAbee's apartment due to the party our incidental damage when the party-goers attempted to escape or resist arrest is…not insignificant." Armsmaster wrapped up his report forty-five minutes after their return.

"The PRT observation team sent to observe her temporary place of residence reported being approached within fifteen minutes of arrival by a group of DWA members who very politely asked who they were and why they were there. Once they explained they were there to ensure that none of Mr. Baker's associates sought to bring her arm they returned to what can only be described as a patrol pattern." Miss Militia added with a strange look on her face. She was obviously unsure whether she should be glad for their protection of Paige, or displeased with how easily they had found and confronted PRT plainclothes officers.

Before them sat the Director of Protectorate/PRT East North East…which was exclusively deployed in Brockton Bay. It really said a lot about the city that it had an entire, if woefully understaffed and underfunded, division of the federal parahuman law enforcement. An overweight, cold-eyed former PRT strike team officer who was well known for being rather fair, despite a deep and seething dislike for parahumans, regardless of their place on the proverbial moral scale. Just about the only one she actually liked was Miss Militia, who (though no one knew it) reminded her of herself before Ellisburg. Before Nilbog had slaughtered her friends and ruined her internal organs, crippling her.

"Alright, lets throw the book at Mr. Baker. He seems intent on violating his NDA despite his utter incompetence in actually doing so. Leave his friends to the BBPD, they don't need our help with bangers and people getting high." She ordered after a moment's silence, getting a nod of acknowledgement from Armsmaster and one of pleased agreement from Militia. "Militia, I want you to try and interview the girl tomorrow, try to pull her towards the Protectorate. I don't know that you will be all that successful, but any progress is worthwhile with her capabilities."

"I'm sorry?{" Militia blinked, sounding rather insulted by the apparent insult to her capabilities. Piggot waved her hand in a negating gesture, a shake of her head further denoting a negative.

"Not a slight against you, Hannah." She explained, using Miss Militia's given name to highlight her seriousness. "Hebert is the head of the Dockworkers Association, and you know as well I do how they feel about hero groups here in The Bay."

Hannah nodded and grimaced in response. Despite being firmly on the side of good, the DWA held no small amount of disgust and contempt for the various groups of heroes in the city, in particular their lack of action on the behalf of the poorer sections of the city. Chances were that Paige would have absorbed some of that attitude by osmosis, which wouldn't be helped by the fact that she wasn't terribly fond of the idea of being a Protectorate cap in the first place.

"I'll just have to bring my A-game then, that's all. Please forward me everything we have on the Heberts and Ms. Mcabee. The more information I have the better things will probably go." The weapons-summoner said determinedly, not allowing her misgivings to discourage her. If she failed in her freshly-assigned mission, it would certainly not be for lack of trying on her part.

"Of course, I'll send everything along immediately. Is there anything else?" Piggot inquired. At their shaken heads, she nodded in dismissal. "Get some sleep or some downtime then, nothing more can really be done tonight."

The pair departed and separated for their separate quarters, Armsmaster to sleep and Hannah to begin scanning through the information. She had no need for sleep, so she might as well be productive. Sitting down at her rather powerful, tinker-modified desktop computer, she immediately pulled up all the requisite files and began to read.

She started with the least known, and least involved, quantity: young Taylor Hebert. The profile on her was not exactly extensive, but then being an average, normal teenaged girl usually didn't result in federal agencies taking note of you. Tall, willowy, black-haired and green-eyed, she looked a great deal like her mother Annette Rose, who had been a follower of Lustrum before abandoning the group as they became more terrorists rather than activists. She felt a stab of sorrow for the girl at the reminder that Taylor was missing a parent, Annette Rose having died not eight months ago. She knew all too well the pain of losing those that you loved. About the only thing that was of note was the fact that she was quiet, studious, and by all accounts extremely intelligent.

Closing Taylor's file, she moved into Paige's, though it was rather unnecessary as she had already read most of this on her way to the girl's apartment tonight. Much of it she was vaguely familiar with simply because she tried to keep herself up to date on the status of all capes within the city limits for the sake of awareness and strategy. The personality profile was brief, but more than sufficient: cheerful and outgoing, but significantly more subdued and passive, even submissive as Paige. Without the mask, without her power to shield her, her courage and confidence abandoned her. When she was existing in her element, performing on stage, she was totally different. Without them, she felt naked and vulnerable. Not uncommon amongst parahumans, especially the young ones. It was one of the reasons that she had submitted hundreds of requests for dedicate psychiatrists to be dedicated to the Wards. Kids had enough in life to worry about without adding stuff like powers, cape fights, and Endbringer battles added on.

Finally, she moved on to the biggest file, in both content and importance. It said a great deal about the man that the PRT had an actual threat assessment report on him despite his utter lack of powers.

Hebert, Daniel


42 Years Old

Six feet, four inches in height.

220 pounds

Muscular build from a lifetime working on the Docks. Brown eyes, brown hair. Occasionally has a small limp in the left leg, most likely due to a work accident during his college years.

One daughter, Taylor Hebert, sixteen years of age.

Wife, Annette Rose, killed during a car accident. See attached profile and incident report.

De-facto leader of the Dockworker's Association. Highly respected by his subordinates, who hold an immense amount of purely personal loyalty to the man. This loyalty is to such a degree that no gang has managed to subvert active members, or insert their own members, into the DWA with any degree of success.

Under his leadership, the DWA were able to force the other three gangs out of their territory (commonly reffered to simply as 'The Docks', despite encompassing a rather larger area than the docks alone) and have kept them out with rotating, roaming patrols.

Given the numbers, dedication, and physical capabilities of the DWA, PRT Thinker-class parahumans have equated the organization with the Archer's Bridge Merchants despite the lack of capes. Currently, no intention has been displayed to expand out of their currently-claimed territory, but this is believed to be related more to their lack of parahuman affiliates rather than restraint or lack of desire.

Mr. Hebert, and by extension his organization, are known to be a proverbial sleeping dragon. They have dedicated themselves only to safeguarding the Docks that the people within that area, but as mentioned before this might change if they gain parahuman support. Quite probable a result, given their aforementioned opinions on the state of the city.

Well known amongst the city government and the PRT for the fact that he/they hold no small dislike for the two groups, due to what they perceive as utter and overwhelming apathy in regards to the safety of those who are not rich or influential, or their homes and properties.

Hannah supposed that she should be indignant and defensive on her organization's behalf, but it wasn't nearly as easy for her most would probably assume. When she had moved to this country, she had vowed to herself to represent and honor the American belief of True, Blind Justice. To be utterly and completely fair in all things. That meant that she wasn't going to deceive herself by saying that there were not flaws, significant ones, in the way the government and federal parahuman agencies handled things, especially here in The Bay. She was well aware that manpower and money supposed to be allocated to the Docks and the area around them weren't, and hadn't been for years. That the heroes and PRT teams didn't leave the wealthier parts of the city nearly as often as they should, and didn't do anywhere near what they should when they did.

The other hand, however, held that they didn't really have a choice. With less than a dozen full Protectorate members, and nearly the same number in the Wards program, they were outnumbered and outgunned by the gangs of the city. They couldn't cover the entire city, and the ripest targets were obviously the richest sections of the city. This, unfortunately, meant that the other areas were just about abandoned to fend for themselves, with only the BBPD as support from the authorities.

She, Armsmaster, Director Piggot…all of them had made countless attempts to gain further resources and funding from the federal government, but every attempt had failed utterly and completely. Brockton Bay, without its port and dockyards, simply wasn't considered valuable enough to dedicate further resources of men or money. It was a hopeless endeavor, regrettably, with no discernible solution in sight.

In the quite likely event that the DWA now had a song-based Master 8 working for them, her job tomorrow would be to make sure that the balance, the status quo, remained unchanged. The last thing that the city needed was the DWA deciding that they had to clean up the city on their own terms and kick off a massive war.

With nothing else productive to do for the rest of the night, the second in command of Protectorate ENE decided to indulge herself in her favorite night-time hobby: online gaming.

Her preferred game was World of Warfare, a sci-fi/fantasy MMORPG created by a group of teenaged Tinkers who were now some of the richest kids in the world. It was now the most played online game on Earth Beta, especially amongst teens and cape groupies. Who didn't want to play the part of a super powered individual with whatever powers you wanted, but having none of the real-life dangers?

The most recent update, which had increased the playerbase significantly, had unveiled a new server dedicated entirely to a new form of game mode: perpetual territorial conquest. Borrowed and expanded upon from an Earth Aleph game named Planetside 2, thousands of players were locked in never-ending battles over resource-laden territory. So immense were the battles that entire timezones would log on or off without any discernible effect on the number of individuals engaged in warfare. It was strange, perhaps, to spend her life engaging in a virtual version of the very same thing that had orphaned her and Triggered her, but her inability to sleep and her intimate familiarity with guns and fighting were of great benefit. Besides which, it was damn good training.

Massive, relentless battle aside, the rest of the night saw the lingering image of Daniel Hebert's kind brown eyes at the forefront of her mind.


World of Warfare and Miss Militia will be somewhat important later on. I also ship the hell out of Danny and Hannah. Make sure to leave a review!