4:28 PM EDT, Saturday, August 15th

Brockton Bay

We didn't go right away, of course. But Sam practically refused to leave until she'd extracted a promise that within a week we would. Apparently my current, very comfortable wardrobe of blacks and greys wasn't suitable for my complexion. I'd just shrugged and gone along with it, honestly. The less I stood out in a new school in a bad way, the better, honestly.

It was weird. She just barely skirted the edge of being pushy, but it seemed a bit...nice, I guess, to have someone care that much. Artemis, even though she was practically a big sister as far as I was concerned, wasn't exactly someone to ask about stuff like clothes. M'gann was way too caught up in her odd ideas about pop culture, and Zatanna...well, Zatanna wasn't around enough and hadn't been since she quit Kaldur's team. Not exactly a lot of options.

So, yeah. After Sam had gotten her promise, it was up to me to unpack.

After I deal with the basic stuff, like glasses and silverware, I leave Mom's stuff- mostly a few boxes of clothes- untouched, and focus instead on my own share of the load. I'm mostly just glad the furniture got moved in beforehand. Trying to move a bed or couch would've probably near-killed me, even with Sam helping.

I smile as I set a life-sized bronze mouse on the top shelf of the bookcase, having to stand on tiptoe to reach it. Garfield had gone through a clockwork phase at one point, and that had been one of the results. I mostly kept it unwound for one reason- it tended to act like a wild mouse as well as move like one, and while it had never bitten me it was a lot less nice to everyone else. Even the person who'd made it, funnily enough.

Most of the other things that went on the top shelf were more sentimental- rocks with fossils in them, a few trophies from martial arts competitions, and a very large curved knife that I'd gotten from Io on my second visit to Themyscira. I still wasn't sure I wanted to use the thing. I knew how, but I preferred something less likely to kill someone.

Uncle Legion had done that, sure...but he'd fought far worse people than I'd likely be dealing with.

The other three shelves get filled with books. Reading was a lot easier than speaking for me, and I guess it showed. Most of it was historical stuff and dense reading, but I had my guilty pleasures in the form of two giant collected volumes of The Walking Dead, and enough fantasy to take up half of one of the shelves besides.

A real pity they never got the show running…

The door to the apartment opens.

"Cass?" Mom asks, her voice distinctive even without my power to dissect every element of it. "You here?"

"Setting up," I call back. "Yours still needs to be." I put down the book I'd been shelving, walking back out into the apartment proper.

Mom's in her 'Diana' getup, a charcoal grey suit and slacks, hair up in a bun. A little intimidating and also just average enough people would tend to overlook her in a crowd, even with her figure. Probably why I can't hear the press outside the building anymore, too, if she'd slipped away and changed before coming here.

She smiles when she sees me, and I smile back.

"You work fast."

I shrug. "Had help."

"One of the neighbors?"

A nod. "Name's Sam. She was...nice."

Mom arches an eyebrow. "Making new friends already, I see."

Not really sure if she counts as a friend yet, but I nod anyway. "Same school, apparently. Might go shopping, later."

"I don't suppose I need to tell you to stay safe."


"Good." Mom picks up her stack of boxes and heads into the larger bedroom. While she does that, I grab a glass and fill it with water, following her into the room. Mom blinks as I hand her the glass.

"Thank you," she says, not questioning how I knew she needed the hydration.

She drains the glass, then chuckles to herself. "You know, when my mother decided to start making contact with Man's World again, I didn't think it would involve so many speeches. At least Orin's in the same boat."

I have to smile at that. Uncle Legion would probably find it hilarious how much work he'd made for Mom and Aquaman by opening up magic to the public.

I head back to my room before Mom can keep grousing, and finish shelving the last of my books before getting out my laptop. It's a gift from Uncle Morah, and it probably would drive a tech geek insane with envy, but all I know is it's never slowed down and I'm eighty percent sure he snuck an AI onto the thing when I wasn't looking with how things arrange themselves on the screen depending on what I use. I crack my knuckles as it boots up.

Time to do research.

Google reveals quite a lot very quickly.

The major organization in town is the local Mob. They're almost a parody of themselves- guys in suits, leg-breakers, capos and consiglieres and all the other Italian bullshit. Nobody's sure if they've got any metahumans or magical power on their side, mostly because they're old, wealthy, and quiet. Rumor has it money laundering and illegal gambling are their big deals.

There's two up-and-comers. One's obvious, the other is a bit more difficult and one I can only ferret out because Mom's let me access part of the League's files. The obvious one is what everyone calls the Cartel. Their business is, again, obvious- drug shipping, helped along by the growing sea trade. The reason they're obvious?

Well, their alleged boss calls himself 'Snowflame' and is fond of riding a motorcycle while screaming the word 'cocaine' at the top of his lungs whenever he has to break some legs, so it'd be more difficult not to notice him.

The secretive one is the one that scares me. It's nothing more than rumors and whispers right now, but if Papa Midnight really is starting to expand from New York into Brockton...people would have a lot to worry about.

And so would I.

7:05 PM EDT

Hall of Justice

While a few good-sized chunks of the Hall- like the displays, and a few of the unsecure common rooms- could be viewed by tourists, a lot of it was deep underground. Like the training rooms.

I tap my foot impatiently, power activated, watching the echoes bounce off the walls as I think it over.

Uncle Legion's gift...it was impressive, to say the least. But the way he'd designed it...I'd read the notes he'd attached, and the ones First had added as he'd improved on the thing over the years. It...scared me, a little. I'd admit that.

Still. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained. And there was no way Uncle Legion, or First, would design something that would actually be harmful. Well, harmful to me.

Decision made, I headed for the locker, carrying the black duffle with me.

Once inside, and when I'm sure the door is closed and I'm alone, I unzip the duffle bag, taking out a solid, heavily reinforced black box and several pieces of metal, before shucking off the outer layers of my clothes. The overly air-conditioned room raises goosebumps.

Let's get this over with.

The metal bits are easy enough- odd little gauntlets, only reaching down to the first knuckle, and a set of sabatons, as well as a neck torc, all of it the same dark grey metal. The other pieces I leave be, before opening the box. A glass container, heavily padded and filled with black goop, is the only thing in there. I twist off the top, and activate my power, directing sound into it as First had instructed.

The black liquid bubbles, then leaps into my waiting hands, pattering on the gauntlets and using them as a point to gain traction, spreading across my body rapidly. It's almost uncomfortably warm, but that sensation fades quickly as it spreads up my bare arms, solidifying quickly into recognizable armor. In a few seconds, it covers my entire body, metal included, only stopping at the neck where the torc rests. Alright. Next bit. Breastplate, layered shoulder armor, and a pair of curved pieces I fit behind my transfigured ears. The goop grabs on to the first two, covering them and making them the same black color as the rest of me, but it doesn't move up to the earpieces. And it won't until I order it to.

Huh. For all that First talked about it, I really don't feel any different, with it on.

I flick a finger into one of the lockers, absent-mindedly.

It sinks at least an inch deep, tearing right through the thin metal, and I stare. Then I grin.

I'm still not sure why Uncle Legion named this thing Arata, and why he only did that in the development notes rather than the finished bits he put together. But if it can do that, it definitely deserves a name. Names have power, now more than ever.

I pack everything else back into the duffle bag and head back out into the training room, walking towards the heavy weights.

Time to see just what my uncle had in mind for my inheritance.