Disclaimer: I do not own worm or its characters. Those belong to Wildbow.
What If Emma's Mom Found Out About The Bullying
September 10, 2010
Downtown Brockton Bay
The mini van that Sophia Hess was riding in arrived at PRT HQ in Downtown Brockton Bay very quickly. It entered the secure garage and the driver parked the car. Sophia quickly got out and fast walked to the elevators. The driver was close behind and got on the elevator with Sophia.
The elevator went to the floor for the Wards and Sophia walked out and made here way to the Wards common room. After scanning here retina the door buzzed to give her teammates a warning then unlocked and she opened the door to enter.
Sophia walked into the Wards common room to see several of her teammates. Team leader Triumph was at the table working on a laptop. Vista was on the couch playing Super Mario Kart, and Kin Win was on the console station.
Sophia didn't say a word, she just blew by everyone and went into her room to change into her costume.
No one said anything, they could see that Sophia was pissed off about something.
Once Sophia had slammed the door to her room Vista paused her game, made a scoffing sound and chortled, "Looks like someone pissed in Sophia's food. That or she's mad that she missed out on that battle today."
Triumph chidingly said, "Vista, please don't.
Vista rolled her eyes. "I'm just saying she's in one of her moods. You saw her right?"
Triumph instructed, "Look, just keep things civil. We don't anymore drama."
Vista snarked, "Too late for that, you know she's going to be chomping for a fight."
Triumph was about to say something when the door to Sophia's room opened and Sophia emerged wearing her Shadow Stalker costume minus her mask although that was in her hand. She still had an angry expression on her face.
Sophia walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water. She opened it and took a drink, setting the bottle on the table that Triumph was working on. She looked around the room and asked. "So, where is everyone else?"
Triumph looked over to Sophia from the laptop he was working on and replied, "Gallant and Aegis are patrolling the Boardwalk and a few blocks that are nearby. Clockblocker is with his dad."
Sophia took another drink of water then asked, "So when are we going out there to kick some ass?"
Triumph shook his head, "The Director is keeping us here on stand by in case the gangs make an attack elsewhere."
Sophia angrily tossed her mask on the couch narrowly missing Vista who excitedly yelled, "Hey! Watch it!"
Sophia turned her head to look at Vista and snarled, "Shut up, it wasn't even near you!", even though it was a close call. The mask had missed Vista by inches.
Triumph gave Sophia a look and said, "Sophia, you almost hit Vista with your mask. You should apologize."
Sophia rolled her eyes and made a scoffing sound.
Triumph removed his mask to glare at Sophia. "Apologize." Sophia stared at Triumph. Then Triumph said, "Now."
Sophia rolled her eyes. Then she turned her head to look at Vista again who had paused her video game and was glaring at Sophia. Sophia sarcastically said "Sorry"
Vista continued to glare at Sophia. The young girl finally snarked, "If that's the best you can do, you suck."
Sophia started to move towards Vista. "Listen here you little sh-", she took two steps then found herself looking through warped space and the distance between her and Vista was fifty feet away.
Triumph stood up, grabbed Sophia and spun her around to face him. Looking at Vista then to Sophia he said, "Alright, that's enough! Sophia, you're on report. I gave you a chance and you blew it. Now, sit there." He pointed at a chair that was on the other side of him at the table.
Vista returned the room to normal. With a smirk she crowed, "Ha! Suck it Sophia!"
Before Sophia could move Triumph put his hand on Sophia's shoulder to keep her from moving. Triumph looked over and pointed the other hand at Vista. "Knock it off, don't make me put you on report as well." Turning back to look at Sophia, "I told you to sit down. Now."
Sophia glared at Triumph. She gave Vista a glare then resumed glaring at Triumph. Triumph moved closer into Sophia's space. "You are already on report, you want me to add to it, keep it up. We could be called up at any time so we need to be a team. Last thing we need is to be fighting among ourselves."
Sophia kept glaring at Triumph then moved over and sat down in the chair. She folded her arms across her chest and sulked, mumbling curses under her breath.
Triumph sat down in his chair and returned to working on the laptop while vista had since resumed playing her video game. Kid Win had ignored the situation since he was dealing with a minor incident that Aegis and Gallant dealing with the problem.
Director Emily Piggot's Office
While the incident with Sophia was happening in the Wards Common area, a meeting was happening in the Director's office to discuss and debrief the battle that had taken place earlier in the afternoon. It had taken more than an hour to arrest and transport the captured gang members to jail and another hour and a half to clean up the battlefield scene. Things had calmed down but there were tensions still in the area. Assault, Battery, and Dauntless were out doing a visible patrol with PRT Trooper as well as BBPD trying to project a law and order presence in the area. The Wards Aegis and Gallant were patrolling the Boardwalk with another squad of PRT Troopers nearby to reassure the tourists and businesses that everything was alright
Emily Piggott, the Director of the PRT-ENE winced as another stabbing pain struck. She picked up some papers and made a show of organizing them. Sitting in her office were Armsmaster, Velocity, and Miss Militia. Emily wanted Dauntless here but she needed to project force out in the streets so Dauntless would have to debrief the Director later.
Looking at the clock and knowing that her day was going to be longer than she hoped for she growled, "Alright, lets get this after action debrief session underway. Armsmaster, go ahead."
Two hours later Emily was satisfied as best as she could be given the current situation. "Alright, good work all of you. Miss Militia, well done on destroying that tank monstrosity. Armsmaster, the thing has been towed to the garage, you and Kid Win can study it tomorrow after it's been deemed safe. I expect your written reports with your findings no later tan Saturday evening. While we may not have captured any Capes, both the Empire and Merchants lost some manpower. Velocity, you can go. I still need to talk to Armsmaster and Miss Militia."
The Mover cape saluted and said his goodbyes then left her office. The Director let out a sigh. "Armsmaster, Miss Militia, let's take a twenty minute break. Go get some coffee or something."
The two heroes stood, saluted and left her office. Emily stood up slowly and painfully. She slowly stretched herself to try and relieve the stiffness and the pain. Grabbing her cane, she slowly walked around her office to get some circulation going. Then she went to a table against the wall where he wall monitor was at. She opened the mini fridge underneath the table, took two bottles of water out. Then she opened her coffee maker and started to prepare coffee. Soon the device was brewing the magic beverage that she really should cut the amount she drank but if she couldn't drink liquor, she wasn't going to give up this beverage for anything. She resumed walking around the office as she waited fore the coffee maker to finish.
Time passed, her coffee cup was full after getting a quick refill when she drank half of her initial cup after it was prepared. She also had taken out some cheese and was eating that to satisfy her hunger. Dinner would be later, there was work to be done.
Word had come in that Assault had returned after it appeared that thing had calmed down some more and that the gangs were not interested in restarting hostilities.
A little more than twenty minutes had passed now Armsmaster, Assault, and Miss Militia were in the Director's office. The three Protectorate heroes sat down in front of Director Piggot's desk. She greeted everyone, organized some papers, and brought out her notepad flipping it to a blank page. Emily tapped some keys on her keyboard. "Dragon, are you ready?"
The CGI avatar appeared on the wall monitor nearest to the desk. "Yes, Director.", she said, nodding her head as she did so.
The Director pushed a button on her desk and there was an audible noise as the room was secured from eavesdropping and outside monitoring. She said, "Alright, let's get started. Dragon, why don't you begin with what you've found?"
The Canadian Tinker acknowledged, "Yes ma'am. Thanks to the search warrants I was able to go through the financial records of the PRT account for Winslow High School, Agent Henderson's financial records, as well as Principal Carrie Blackwell. As you can see here," spreadsheets appeared on the wall monitor as her video avatar shrank to the bottom left corner. Columns were highlighted. "Starting with the first disbursement of monies to Winslow High School, there are irregularities as monies were withdrawn from the PRT Winslow account and monies appearing in the bank accounts of Agent Henderson and Carrie Blackwell."
More spreadsheets were displayed by Dragon and they showed as money was withdrawn from the PRT account over time and appeared in the bank accounts of Agent Henderson and Principal Blackwell. "Additionally, thanks to Miss Militia's initiative we have hard copies of the account books from the school. These have been analyzed by forensic accounting personnel as well as myself. There can be no other conclusion, there is embezzlement taking place since May of this year."
Director Piggot was taking notes. She put her pen down and rubbed the temples of her head with her index and middle fingers. The heroes were scowling as they followed Dragon's accounting trail. Emily took a drink of coffee to try and keep herself from exploding in rage.
Assault looked at the amounts on the screen then pointed out, "Uh, call me Captain Obvious but there's money missing. Like a lot of money missing."
Dragon nodded here head while resuming her presentation. "Yes, that's correct. With Agent Henderson arrested, a search warrant was executed on her residence and additional evidence was located as well as evidence that she has a safe deposit box at Brockton Bay Central Bank, a bank she does not have any accounts at. A search warrant will be needed to access the safe deposit box." Pictures of the evidence seized at Agent Henderson's home were displayed. This included several bundles of cash totaling $25,000, her personal computer, brand new burner phones, as well as luxury items, that had been purchased with the embezzled money.
Dragon continued, "Agent Henderson's work area was searched and her computer was seized and a burner phone was hidden in her desk drawer. Thanks to Armsmaster, we have accessed both her work computer and the burner phone."
More pictures appeared, these were text messages sent between Agent Henderson and Principal Blackwell on their respective cell phones. "Looking at the text messages on Agent Henderson's work mobile phone we see that initially Principal Blackwell complained about Sophia to Agent Henderson regarding her behavior and a meeting was arranged between the two but after that, nothing major is discussed between the two over their respective cell phones. However, the text messages on Agent Henderson's burner phone are quite telling. The phone number that Agent Henderson was texting and calling is also a burner phone. It is a strong assumption that she was calling and texting Principal Blackwell's burner phone."
The logs displaying the text messages showed a series of texts between Agent Henderson and the other burner phone that was most likely to be Blackwell's burner phone. They didn't refer to each other by name. But one of the first text messages between the two was that Agent Henderson was not to be contacted unless it was absolutely urgent regarding Sophia. Any problems were to be made to go away or buried. All reports on Sophia Hess were sent to Agent Henderson were to be generic and favorable on Sophia's behalf.
The text messages made it clear that Agent Henderson and Principal Blackwell covered up any incidents where Sophia misbehaved. This was backed up by the fact that many of Agent Henderson's reports as well as reports from Principal Blackwell were a simple copy/past job where the only logged change was a changing of the date on the reports.
Director Piggot grunted in disgust. "Do we have Blackwell under surveillance?"
Miss Militia replied, "Yes, ma'am. We have a dedicated team watching her as well as taps on her phones."
Emily was about to speak, when Miss Militia cleared her throat to indicate she had something else to say. Emily gestured for her to continue.
Nodding her head in thanks, Miss Militia continued, "I believe that Principal Blackwell's secretary, Heather Williams is also involved in the embezzlement scheme and not just from the PRT account but from the school's general funds. When I questioned about who in the office staff has access to the accounts I was informed that Miss Williams has access."
With a growl initially from learning of more corruption and partially from the pain she constantly was under snarled, "Shit. We will need more than your beliefs and suspicions but she can be brought in for questioning."
Miss Militia replied, "She does have a 2010 Buick Enclave in the faculty parking lot. It still had the paper plates and it was parked close to the Principal's car in view of the only working camera in the parking lot."
Arching an eyebrow, Emily wrote down the name in her notes. "Let's see how much heat she can stand, bring her in for questioning when we arrest Blackwell. Perhaps we can get probable cause if she slips up during questioning."
Confirmations were given by the three heroes. Then Emily looked at the wall monitor and ordered, "Dragon, use the burner phone from Agent Henderson to send a text to what we believe to be Blackwell's burner phone. Let her know that everything's fine, that the gang fight from today has changed priorities and she has it under control."
Dragon acknowledged the order, nodding her head. "Yes, Director. There have been many texts asking Agent Henderson about what is going on."
With a sigh Emily looked at the text messages that the other burner had sent. Taking a few minutes, the heroes and the director planned a response to the text message and Dragon sent it.
Unsurprisingly, there was a response from the other burner phone via text. They were upset over what happened at Winslow earlier in the day and wanted a meeting.
Texts were sent saying that a face to face meeting was not possible since all hands were on deck due to the earlier gang battle. Another text was sent telling the person to remain calm and that they could meet Monday afternoon which seemed to placate the other person.
"Well, that's done. Let's dot the I's and cross the T's so we can arrest the Principal ASAP. I want her in handcuffs by Monday. If we have to, we can arrest her at the school on Monday morning. But, if it looks like she's making a run for it, the surveillance team an arrest her on the spot."
Emily wrote some notes on her notepad then looked at the heroes. "As for Agent Henderson, she is to be transported to Concord tomorrow directly into Federal holding and the US Attorney will file charges on Monday morning. Now let's move on the next topic: Sophia Hess. Assault, you had her under observation, report please."
The red clad hero took a drink of water then got started. "Dragon, could you please bring up the pictures I sent?"
The pictures he had taken while he was at Winslow High School undercover appeared on the screen. Dragon's avatar was still present on the bottom of the screen. Assault thanked Dragon then began. He knew how serious this was, the Director was not in a mood for his humor so he got right to it. "Alright, as you can see, these pictures here were from the beginning and early part of the day. Apparently, by the third class of the day word had spread through the school and many of her targets had taken to be elsewhere, but as you can see", more pictures appeared showing Sophia physically abusing different students. "She still was able to get more shots in. Additionally, her gym teacher made her run laps after she caught Sophia throwing the ball too hard at students during a dodge ball game. I was able to learn that she has a favorite person she likes to abuse, a girl named Taylor Hebert who has been absent yesterday and today."
Miss Militia chimed in, "Taylor Hebert? That name matches in Sophia's file with the name of her primary accuser. Eighteen complaints since Fall 2009 from a T. Hebert. Complaints that were ignored or swept under the rug. Furthermore, her father pulled her from the school yesterday."
Everyone took note of that, Emily writing the name down. She also took a look at Sophia's file from school that Miss Militia had turned in and had since been scanned and digitized.
As she was reviewing Sophia's school file, Assault spoke. "I also overheard that Sophia was upset that her best friend was also absent and not answering her texts or emails, a girl named Emma Barnes."
Miss Militia chimed in again. "That name is in Sophia's file as well. It's either E.B. or E. Barnes. Her father pulled her from Winslow yesterday as well. That's two students who've been pulled out of that school, both on the same day. That cannot be a coincidence. I wonder...could one of those parents be the tipster?"
Emily placed her pen down and looked at Miss Militia. "The identity of the tipster is not relevant at this time. Tipsters are guaranteed anonymity. I don't give a damn about that tipster right now. What we have right in front of us is more important, evidence of corruption by one of our own, corruption at one of our schools, and a Probationary Ward violating the terms of her plea deal. We have to handle this before this shows up on the six o'clock news." She looked at Assault, You have anything else to add?"
Assault nodded his head, tapped his phone and more pictures appeared. "First, there's these shots of expired and empty fire extinguishers I searched the head custodian's office and found that the certifications for the extinguishers are fake." Pictures of the falsified documents were on display. "But, we are here for the main event. Here we go." More pictures were displayed. "Using Armsie's scanning thingamajig", Armsmaster bristled at his highly advanced tech being called a thingamajig. Assault grinned but kept on going. "I was able to find these." The pictures showed the scanner's findings: crossbow bolts, barbed tipped ones that Sophia was not supposed to be in possession of. "These bolts here were under the floor of her locker. I removed them after school when no one was around. As you can see, these have barb tips and have blood on them. There was a quiver of non lethal bolts hidden in the wall behind her locker along with her official costume as well as a couple more lethal bolts. The bolts in the floor have been turned in and the lab boys and girls say the blood is recent, maybe a few days to a week old at most."
Emily clenched her teeth while Armsmaster frowned and Miss Militia sighed.
Assault continued, "I searched her PE locker but there was nothing there, but there was a storage closet nearby. So, using Armsie's scanner I found these items."
A tap on his phone and another picture appeared on the wall monitor. It was a variant of Shadow Stalker's old vigilante costume hidden in one of the walls along with a crossbow and a half empty quiver of lethal crossbow bolts.
Assault added, "I'm going to guess that she was going to clean those bolts that were hiding in her locker but hadn't gotten to it yet."
Emily snarled, "Get a team over to the school and get those contraband items out of there and fix every thing up so it looks like we were never there. Dragon, could you please review any police incident reports and look for anything that might match wounds from a crossbow?"
Dragon acknowledged the request and replied, "I will create a search algorithm and begin looking Director Piggot."
The Director asked, "Is that all Assault?"
Assault gave a chirpy "Yep!" in response. The pictures on the wall disappeared.
Emily gestured to Armsmaster. "Alright, you said you made some disturbing findings. Go ahead." She picked up her coffee which was rapidly getting cold and finished it off.
Armsmaster got to business. "Ma'am, I took it upon myself to do a search on any and all complaints against Shadow Stalker submitted by Triumph and the other Wards and have found fourteen complaints since her forced induction in May." Emily frowned and muttered an epithet under her breath that Armsmaster didn't react to, he just continued. "Each of these complaints was spaced out enough that they were not given full attention from the fact that she was constantly on report, that different Wards were complaining about her behavior, attitude, and actions."
With a brief pause he continued, "I apologize that I failed to see the pattern. I became complacent. With that being said, I took it upon myself to take a look at Shadow Stalker's activities."
The wall monitor switched to a two dimensional overhead map of the city. Red dots appeared on specific points in the Docks and Trainyard along with green lines and blue lines.
Armsmaster stood up and walked to the wall monitor. Dragon, who was still present for the meeting smiled at her friend. Armsmaster cleared his throat then began by pointing at the blue lines. "After Triumph submitted a report that Shadow Stalker had left her assigned patrol partners of Vista and Aegis from June 18, 2010, I took it upon myself to place hidden trackers on Shadow Stalkers equipment. I only looked at this data when someone submitted a complaint and only of the specific incident in question. Only until last night did I compile all the tracking data from June until yesterday. The data takes into account that she was at Alexandria's boot camp for three weeks in July. The blue lines indicate her official patrol movements and I've also highlighted those blue lines where she was reported to have left her teammates to go on her own." Those blue lines were highlighted with a neon red color around the blue lines to show when she left her assigned patrol area.
"The green lines show her movements on nights she is supposed to be home or not on a sanctioned and scheduled patrol. This is another failure on Agent Henderson's part in not ensuring Shadow Stalker was doing vigilante activity. As you can see these green lines show that she constantly returned to these locations in the Docks and Trainyard area. I conducted a search and found these buildings to be abandoned and I found her hiding spots. Velocity was with me when we searched and made our findings."
More pictures were displayed showing what looked to be a "Go bag" that had cash, clothes, a fake ID and other items. There were more crossbow bolts, all lethal that were still in their packaging. Another picture showed a small stash of drugs, possibly cocaine or heroin, as well as marijuana. Another picture showed more cash and two guns, a 9mm pistol and a .22 caliber revolver.
Emily's frown turned into a scowl. She clenched her teeth in anger. "How much cash was in that go bag?"
"That go bag had $20,000. The second location had $6,000.", replied Armsmaster.
Emily had enough. "I want a team dispatched to Sophia's apartment and they are to use that scanner of yours Armsmaster to go through every part of that place. As for Shadow Stalker, she's benched. She is to be on Console duty only. Find out if there are any new bodies that this girl is responsible for. If there are, we will file new charges. Good job all of you. Dismissed."
The Hebert House
Taylor had returned home from the library a little before 6pm. Right away she got busy fixing dinner. She pulled the ground meat out of the refrigerator and started cooking it. She pulled out the box of taco shells as well as the lettuce, and shredded cheese as the meat was cooking.
The young girl was very happy as she cooked. It was a productive day studying and she was looking forward to going to Arcadia on Monday even though she had to take tests.
As Taylor was slicing the lettuce for the tacos she heard her father's truck pull up and park in the driveway. A few seconds later she heard her dad open the door and his voice called out, "Taylor, I'm home!"
Turning her head towards the doorway of the kitchen so he could hear her she called out, "I'm in the kitchen!"
Walking into the kitchen was a tired Danny Hebert. He smiled upon seeing his daughter and saw the spread of food that was being worked on.
With the smile still on his face he gave Taylor ruffle on her head. "Got started without me, eh? That's okay. What can I do to help?"
Taylor squawked then gave his hand a playful swat as he grabbed some cheese to snack on. "Those are for the tacos!"
Chewing with a smile he finally said, "I know."
Taylor pointed at the refrigerator. "Could you get the guacamole? We'll need that for the chips."
Danny went to the refrigerator and did as he was bid. Then he washed up and started getting the taco shells ready as Taylor was almost done cooking the ground beef.
Soon Taylor was done, the tacos were assembled, nacho chips were in a bowl with guacamole on the side for dipping. Taylor took note that her father was not drinking a beer with dinner, but a coke just like her.
Both father and daughter talked bout their day. Taylor recounted what she had worked on in studying, mostly math and science as those where her grades were weakest because of Emma and Sophia and the new girl Madison that had joined in the torment in the spring of her freshman year.
Danny talked about his day. Due to the gang battle he was able to get a good sized group of dock workers hired to do the clean up so it was a good thing that his people had work.
"Taylor, I talked with Kurt and he and Lacey will be coming over this weekend. Probably on Sunday to watch some football."
Taylor smiled. "That's good. It'll be nice to see Uncle Kurt and Aunt Lacey. But only if Lacey brings one of her amazing cakes."
Danny arched an eyebrow. "Oh really? She has to bring a cake? Is this a decree from The Owl That Is Little?" Danny chortled at the end.
Taylor gave her dad a look then she tilted her head high and said in a snooty voice, "Yes, consider this a decree. I was thinking...a 7up cake would be nice."
In mock solemness Danny said "I shall inform Lacey of The Owl That Is Little's decree." Then he added in a normal tone, "I have to go in tomorrow I'll tell her then."
Taylor said, "Well I'll be at the library studying tomorrow anyway."
The two finished dinner and Danny shooed Taylor out of the kitchen so he could do the dishes and he had her go to the living room and pull out a movie for the two to watch. Taylor sat on the couch and her dad joined her there and she leaned up against him and father and daughter enjoyed their time together watching Galaxy Quest 2.
The Barnes House
Dinner was over and Emma was busy washing the dishes while her dad was putting the leftover food into containers. Her mother had poured a glass of wine and was watching her husband put the food away.
As father and daughter were doing their tasks, there was a call of "Anybody home?", coming from the front of the house.
Everyone knew it was Anne, the eldest child and they heard Zoe let out a squeal of joy at the voice and she rushed to the front room to greet her daughter.
"Aaaaannnnniiiiiieeeeee!", cried out Zoe.
Emma rolled her eyes and scoffed. Alan finished his task but didn't put the food in the refrigerator yet.
"Keep washing the dishes.", Alan instructed as he walked out of the kitchen to go greet his oldest child.
Emma didn't say anything, she just continued to scrub one of the cooking pans vigorously but she rolled her eyes again and mumbled sarcastic comments under her breath after her dad walked out of the room.
Alan walked into the living room to see his wife Zoe hugging their daughter Anne. She released Anne from the hug and Alan opened his arms out to hug his daughter who happily moved in and father and daughter hugged.
Pleasantries exchanged, Alan asked, "You got here early. We just finished dinner but we have plenty left over, would you like to eat?"
With a smile Anne replied, "Well I am a starving college student. I could eat."
Both parents chuckled and led their daughter into the kitchen where Anne saw Emma washing the last of the dishes. Anne moved quickly and hugged her sister from behind.
"Hey squirt! I'm home!", Anne happily said. She tickled her sister's ribs as she let go, causing Emma to shriek and in retaliation she used the extended nozzle from the kitchen sink to hit her sister in the face with a stream of water.
Anne squawked at getting hit in the face. She cried out, "Why you litt-", Anne reached out towards Emma but was stopped by her dad. He told Anne to go wash up. Anne left, promising vengeance.
Alan and Zoe admonished Emma, then he took the container of food and a cleaned bowl then served out a portion of the beef stroganoff for Anne then reheated it a little since it wasn't too cold. By the time Anne returned from the bathroom Emma had finished washing the dishes and the food for Anne was waiting on the table.
Emma left the kitchen to go to the living room. Alan gave Anne a side hug then left to go to the living room as well. Anne sat down to eat while Zoe sat across from her.
Anne took her first bites of the beef stroganoff and moaned happily. "God, mom this is good. I miss this." She spooned more of the delicious dish into her mouth and hungrily ate.
Zoe chuckled and with a smile said, "Glad you like it. It makes me happy when you enjoy my cooking, although Emma did help."
Anne stopped chewing. Then she looked at the dish with scrutiny. Then she put her hand to her forehead followed by putting her hand to her neck. Zoe took a sip of her wine and arched an eyebrow.
"I don't feel weird, so I guess she didn't poison it.", Anne resumed eating.
Zoe replied with, "Ha...ha...ha."
Anne finished her bite then giggled, "Sorry, couldn't resist. So, what is it you wanted to tell me?"
Zoe's expression changed from happiness to serious and she said, "We will tell you later, after you eat. But for now, tell me how school has been."
Zoe and Anne talked while Anne ate. Anne asked for seconds and the two continued to chit chat.
After Anne's dinner mom and daughter left the kitchen to go to the living room. The two saw Alan and Emma watching a show on Food Network that had the host going to different places, finding tasty food to try and eat as well as partake in crazy food challenges. Right now the star of the show was attempting a 12 Ghost Pepper Wings challenge that looked like the Wings were winning as the host was fighting to finish the third wing.
Alan turned to Zoe and gestured to the TV. "Maybe we should tell this guy about Fugly Bob's and have him try to beat the Challenger."
Anne and Zoe chuckled but Emma didn't react, she just sat on the couch sulking, arms crossed across her chest
Anne turned her head to see her sister and asked, "Geez Ems who pissed in your corn flakes today?"
Emma glared at her sister but didn't say anything. Alan stood up from his recliner and left the room. Zoe placed her hand on Anne's shoulder then gestured to Anne to follow. As they were walking to the hallway that led to the office Alan emerged with a thin book in his hand. Anne saw the book and recognized it. She turned around and followed her dad back to the living room. She watched as her dad tossed the book onto Emma's lap and Anne's thoughts as to what the book was were confirmed but it also confused her. Ann wondered why her dad was giving Emma "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" for Emma to read.
Emma looked confused as she picked up the book.
Alan pointed at the book saying, "I told you the other night to read that. So start reading and you might want to take notes." Alan picked up the TV remote and turned off the television. Anne looked confused as she looked at her sister and her dad.
Alan gestured for Anne to follow before he could say anything. The two went to his office and Anne noticed that her dad still had the TV remote in his hand. Looking confused still, Anne saw her mom adjusting the wall monitor to show Emma in the living room, her arms down against her sides, her head tilted back to look up at the ceiling. Alan shook his head.
Anne closed the office door at her mom's request then she asked, "Mom, dad what is going on here?"
Zoe replied, "Before we get started do you have your cell phone with you? Did you bring your laptop?"
Anne was still confused as she replied, "Yeah, I have my phone in my pocket and my laptop is back at my dorm."
Zoe looked relieved. "Good. If you think Emma might know your unlock code, change it. Also change any of your passwords to any accounts or devices you have to keep her from trying to access them under your name."
Anne's confusion continued as Alan said, "Emma's grounded. No phone or TV, no computer, no internet. We will strictly control her computer use for school purposes going forward. Additionally we're putting her modeling career on hold for now."
Anne expressed surprise but before she could say anything Alan resumed, "Your mom and I have pulled Emma out of Winslow and transferred her to Immaculatta where she will start on Monday"
Anne was even more surprised. She sat down on the chair by her mom's desk to steady herself. Alan looked at the wall monitor and saw that Emma still had not started reading the book. He excused himself and left the room.
Zoe was still standing but she moved to her office chair and sat down, spinning her chair around to face her daughter. Both of them heard Alan yell out Emma's name. The two saw Emma jump out of the couch and saw Alan repeatedly point his index finger at Emma as he was speaking to her.
Anne asked, "Why is dad making Emma read "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?"
Zoe replied, "He is trying to get Emma to remember what friendship means as she has betrayed everything that we have taught her, she has betrayed friendship itself."
Zoe was looking at her daughter then she took a deep breath then said, "Alan and I have told Emma that her friendship with Sophia is over. Alan told Sophia to stay away from Emma and the rest of us going forward earlier this afternoon. So, if she tries to talk to you, tell her to go away and you let us know. If she fails to do as Alan asks, he will file for a court order."
Anne was shocked and surprised by these announcements from her mom. Alan returned to the office, closing the door behind him. Everyone looked at the monitor on the wall and Emma was sitting on the couch again this time she had the book open. However, if she was really reading the book it was unknown. Anne was trying to process this while Anne grabbed a chair from the front of his desk and moved it over so he could be closer to Zoe and Anne.
Anne brought her hands to her face and slid them down slowly. She looked at her parents asking, "Mom, dad, what the hell?"
Zoe let out a breath then took the lead and spoke, "Honey, it's not easy to say this but I found out that your sister has been lying to your father and I for just over a year. Her story of Taylor breaking their friendship last year was not true. The truth is Emma ended their friendship shortly after she met Sophia. In fact, the day when Taylor returned from camp she came to visit Emma and that's when Emma ended their friendship."
Anne's eyes went wide. "She didn't!"
Both parents nodded their heads sadly. Before Anne could ask the question she wanted Zoe continued, "It gets worse, at the beginning of the school year last year she and Sophia started bullying Taylor. Emma, Sophia, and her other friends have been torturing the poor girl emotionally and physically ever since."
Anne couldn't believe it. Emma and Taylor had been closer to each other and called each their sister. Emma and Taylor had a better sisterly relationship with each other than she had with Emma. It just didn't make any sense!
Alan growled, "It's all Sophia's fault, she started feeding Emma some bullshit philosophy of life that makes absolutely no sense and goes against everything your mom and I taught her. She has betrayed her best friend, our goddaughter." Alan's voice softened as he expressed sadness, "Your mom was right and now we have taken these steps to fix things. Emma is going to start seeing a therapist as well."
Alan sighed, "To try and make amends, I was able to pull strings and pull Taylor from Winslow and get her into Arcadia. Danny got the papers and took care of that, she starts Monday."
Anne looked at her parents in a perplexed expression. "Mom, how did this happen? How did you and dad find out all of this?"
Zoe took a drink of her wine, took a deep breath and began the story of running into Danny and Taylor at the grocery store and how everything had been revealed.
In the end, Anne was left feeling emotionally crushed. She was also extremely pissed. She had never really like Sophia as there was something about the girl that rubbed her the wrong way.
Now Anne moved with purpose to her sister's bedroom. Emma had said she had finished the book and Alan had surprised by actually quizzing Emma about the book. Emma's lie was quickly discovered and she was sent to her room.
Anne walked into Emma's room where she saw her sister sitting at her desk writing something. Emma turned, saw Anne and Emma's face widened in surprise. Emma turned back to her desk and tried to hide what she was writing but Anne moved quickly and grabbed the paper out of Emma's hand.
Emma reached out to try and take it back screeching, "Give that back! It's mine!"
Anne held Emma off and looked at the paper. It was a goodbye note. Emma seemed to be planning on running away from home. Anne's fury was magnified. She shoved the paper into a pocket then grabbed her sister on both arms, picking her up from the chair and shoved Emma onto the bed. Emma fell back onto the bed, quickly propping her self up with her elbows. Emma glared at Anne as Anne glared at Emma.
Emma scooted forward, continuing to glare at Anne and sat up. With no warning and with incredible speed Anne slapped Emma on the cheek hard. Emma was surprised from the strike and was processing that she'd been slapped when Anne slapped her again on the other cheek.
"Traitor! Backstabber! You have no idea how bad I want to kick your ass from one of the house to the other!"
With a growl Emma leaped from the bed to try and tackle her sister but Anne had started taking self defense classes when she was in eleventh grade and she still was taking them. This was Brockton Bay after all. With ease Anne evaded her sister's pitiful attempt to tackle her and Emma landed in a heap by her dresser drawer.
Alan's voice called out from downstairs. "Hey! Knock that off! Don't make me come up there!"
Emma got up and tried to hit her sister. Anne dodged it easily and countered with another slap to Emma's face. Anne quickly turned her head to say, "Sorry! Emma tripped!"
Emma growled again, muttering "Bitch.", then she tried rushing Anne again but Anne grabbed her and executed a judo toss to put Emma back onto the bed.
Emma rolled over and sat up to see a closed fist right in front of her face. Anne's close fist.
Anne snarled, "You are going to sit there and we are going to talk or I swear to you sister I will give you an ass kicking so bad that mom and dad are going to have to take us both to the hospital so they can pull my foot out of your ass."
Emma stared at her sister's closed fist in her face then looked at her sister. Anne's face was in a harsh and furious expression.
Emma relaxed, letting out an explosive sigh. She rolled her eyes. "Fine. Gee-sus Anne when did you get those moves?"
Anne pulled her arm back to her side, releasing her fist but flexing her fingers as she did so. "Been taking self defense classes since before Junior year and I still take classes, this is Brockton Bay after all. Which is why kicking your ass would be no challenge. At all.'
As Anne was speaking she grabbed the chair from Emma's desk and put it in front of the bed flipping it so that the back was facing Emma. She sat down on the chair bringing her arms to rest across the back of the chair.
Staring directly into her sister's eyes Anne began, "Why Emma? Why would you betray your best friend, the girl you called sister? You two were closer together than you and I and we're bound by blood. Right now I'm ashamed and disgusted with you. So I want to know why. You tell me why you did it Emma."
With defiance Emma said, "Fuck you. There's your answer. Now get the fuck out of my room."
Anne shook her head. "Man, mom and dad were right, that bitch fucked your head up good. What makes her so damn special that you'd take her words as gospel so damn quick? You barely knew each other! Are you and her lovers?"
Emma expressed surprise and disbelief but she remained silent while she glared at Anne defiantly. Anne leaned forward, glaring into Emma's eyes "So, not lovers then. You know I thought for sure you and Taylor would start dating soon enough." Shaking her head Anne resumed, "Pretty sure that will never happen now, guess I'm out ten bucks." Emma's glare changed to a surprised expression briefly before returning to a glare, giving her sister a look that if looks could kill Ann would have dropped dead. Anne resumed without a care, "So if you and Sophia aren't lovers, why would you listen to her? You didn't know her for that long." Anne looked up to the ceiling and pondered that question, repeating it aloud again.
Anne looked at her sister again with an expression of inspiration. "Maybe she Mastered you! Holy shit! That's it! If she Mastered you that makes all kinds of sense!"
Emma shook her head exclaiming, "She didn't Master me! Sophia's not a Master!"
Anne gave Emma a questioning look, "How would you know? She turned you from a kind, caring girl into a queen bitch, the kind you used to make fun of when we watched movies together. I saw the texts and emails Emma, not all of them, but more than enough. We should get you screened for Mastering just to be safe."
Emma tried to get up but Anne pointed her index finger at her sister, glaring at her. Emma scooted back on the bed, returning to her sitting position. Emma hissed, "Sophia didn't Master me dammit, she just told me...taught me how the world really works, that I should cut out everything that was weak in my life. So I did."
Anne glowered at her sister, exclaiming, "There it is!" She pointed at Emma saying. "Bullshit alert!" Anne made a red alert sound effect a couple of times.
Anne kept her finger pointed at Emma, keeping her angry expression on her face as she continued, "What made you think Sophia knows a damn thing about life? She's fifteen years old, just like you! Both of you don't know shit about anything! Hell, I know I don't know a lot of shit but I DO know that whatever bullshit Sophia's been feeding you is absolutely crrrraaaaazzzzzzyyyyyyy! Both of you need therapy to get your heads fixed."
Emma bristled and growled when Anne said "therapy", muttering, "I do not need therapy."
Anne kept talking, "It's a good thing mom and dad are going to make you see a therapist."
Emma growled again.
Scoffing, Anne rolled her eyes. "Predators? Prey? What is that pile of crap? You and her watch too much National Geographic TV or something?"
Emma shouted, "Sophia's just telling it like it is, you're either a wolf or a sheep!"
Anne shouted back, "This isn't the Dawn of Man! This is not the middle ages where you go out hunting for food just so you can eat and survive! You are not a wolf or a shark, nor are you a predator Emma, it's the twenty first century!"
Running a hand through her own wavy red hair Anne continued to glare at her sister. "Alright Emma, tell me this. Are mom and dad predators? Am I a predator?"
Emma blinked a few times. She was quiet for a minute. Anne snapped her fingers in front of Emma's face. "It's not that hard of a question Emma. I thought you would know that answer to that question instantly."
Emma snapped, "Shut up! I was thinking!"
Anne fired back, "You shouldn't need to think anyway since you're the one that believes in this bullshit about people being predators or prey! So, answer me already! Are mom and dad predators or prey? Am I a predator or prey?"
Emma snarked, "You're a sheep." She had that smirk on her face that she showed when tormenting Taylor.
She was not prepared for the punch to the face.
Emma howled and fell backwards on her bed grabbing her nose that started bleeding.
Alan's voice called out from downstairs. "What the hell is going on up there?!"
Anne was silent. She wanted to see what her sister was going to do. If her sister tattled, it would blow up her philosophy right in the face.
"Whatcha gonna do, Emma? You gonna tell dad?", asked Anne quietly.
Emma sat up holding her nose with one hand while glowering at her sister. She moved from the bed to grab a bunch of tissues to stem the bleeding from her nose.
That was when their dad appeared at the door. He took a look at Emma then at Anne. "I asked a question, what the hell is going on? Emma, you're bleeding. Are you alright? What happened?"
Emma waved her non bloody hand in a gesture of nonchalance while keeping her other hand with the tissues applying pressure to her bloody nose. "It's okay, my nose just started bleeding."
Alan looked at Emma again. Then he looked at Anne. Emma was staring daggers at her sister while Anne was looking too innocent. It reminded him of when his girls were much younger and for an instant he saw Anne at age ten and Emma at age seven and the two were doing the exact same thing. Blinking, the image vanished and his girls were back to their proper ages.
Alan asked, "Is everything alright?"
Emma glanced at her sister then looked at her dad. "Everything's fine."
Alan had a sense that something was going on, he looked at Anne and Emma and remembered that sometimes the two used to fight when they were kids.
Alan raised his right hand and pointed at both girls. "Listen, I don't want the two of you fighting. So, whatever happened, whatever this is, it stops now. You understand?"
Both girls in perfect synchronization simultaneously said, "Yes, dad."
Nodding his head Alan said, "Good. Don't make me come back up here." Then he turned and left.
After he was gone Anne looked at her sister and folder her arms across her chest. "I'm surprised you didn't say anything. You still think I'm a sheep?"
Emma snarled, "Believe me, I'll get even for this. You are such a sheep. One sucker punch doesn't count."
Anne took a step forward, raising her arm with fist clenched. "You sure about that? I seem to recall slapping you in the face a few times and throwing you around the room earlier. You wanna test that philosophy of your right now "survivor"?"
Emma backed away to stand right in front of her desk. Anne kept moving forward saying, "If you truly believe in Sophia's bullshit, let me remind you of a simple fact of life, there's always a bigger predator out there Emma. When it comes to you and me, I Am The Bigger One."
Anne was in Emma's personal space now. Like a drill instructor, her face was inches away when she said those last words. Staring into Emma's eyes for a long time, Emma blinked first. That was enough for Anne to step back and move away. She gestured to the open door. "Go clean yourself up."
Emma left her room to go to the bathroom to wash up.
Anne paced the room as she waited for her sister to return. A few minutes later Emma returned all cleaned up. She took the chair and sat down.
Anne half sat on the edge of Emma's desk. "If I see Sophia, I am going to kick her ass. I'm half tempted to go to her apartment and punch her in the face right now."
Anne rolled her eyes and scoffed, "Sophia could kick your ass easy, shes strong." Then with a concerned expression Emma added, "I'm serious Anne, you don't know how dangerous she is. She could hurt you."
Anne's eyes widened then narrowed. "Sophia can go fuck herself. Seriously." Anne pulled the note Emma had been writing out of her pocket then took another look at the note that Emma had been writing when she took it from her sister. "Looking at this," she held up the note in her hand, it was creased, crumpled, and wrinkled due to their struggle earlier. "you really, really need help. I mean it was obvious to me that you needed help after hearing mom and dad tell me everything you've done to Taylor. Now here you are writing a note telling mom and dad you're running away from home." She shook the note in her hand. "This right here proves you aren't a predator after all." Anne chuckled at first then broke into laughter.
Emma glared at her sister then she went pale when Anne commented, "Would a predator run away."
Anne's laughter subsided then she asked, "Like, what would you do? Where would you go? What would you do for cash? Do you have any cash? You know mom and dad would cancel your cards, right? There goes your bank account. Do you think you would just go over and live at Sophia's apartment? Her mom's working two, three jobs just to keep her three kids fed, clothed, and a roof over their heads. What makes you think her mom would take you in? Do you really think Sophia would help you out? Or would she be a "predator", call you weak and tell you to fuck off? If that plan of yours didn't work, what would you do? How long do you think you'd last out there before you end up getting picked up by one of those ABB's human trafficking scumbags?"
Emma was angry as Anne questioned her plan to escape from home but her eyes went wide when she said that Sophia might tell her to go away and there was a panicked look on her face when Anne said "ABB".
Anne saw this and exclaimed, "It's clear you haven't thought this over. Seriously Emma you're fifteen but you're thinking and acting like you're seven years old!"
Anne started pacing the room, raising her arms in exasperation as she continued, "I just don't understand Emma! I was right outside this room while you were comforting Taylor after she had lost her mom. I heard you telling her how strong he was and just like this", Anne stopped pacing and snapped her fingers in front of Emma and resumed, "you just..changed just because you met somebody new!"
Emma defiantly retorted, "I grew up! Taylor didn't. I gave her so many chances to prove to me that she was strong, but all she did was show me how weak she was."
Anne folded her arms across her chest. "Emma, you ever stop to think that the reason she didn't fight back...that she didn't punch out your teeth and kick your ass is not because she was weak, but because she still hoped that the person she knew you used to be would wake up and stop being such a traitorous backstabbing bitch?"
Emma leaned backwards, eyes blinking rapidly. "Wh-wha-what?"
Anne rolled her eyes, "You may have been using Sophia as a guard and attack dog Emma, but Taylor's a Dockworker's daughter. Uncle Danny and his friends taught Taylor how to fight. Remember when she punched that kid in the nose back in sixth grade? She did that for you. So yeah...you know that Taylor could have broken your nose, given you black eyes, knocked out your teeth or worse but she didn't because she wouldn't stoop to your level and she still had some feelings for you. That she hoped you would just stop and realize what your were doing was wrong."
Emma blinked. She was looking at her sister but it seemed as if Emma wasn't really seeing. Anne let out a sigh as she looked at the ceiling then she looked at her sister and sighed again. "Emma, I have decided that since you are such a traitor to friendship that I have to step up. I will be Taylor's friend. I will be the friend that you should have been."
Emma scoffed and snorted. "That's a good one. Like she'll want anything to do with you. You're in college, it's not like you're gonna be around anyway."
Anne looked determined. "We will see. I'm going to make the effort, to prove you wrong. I will be true to her and be the best friend I can be. I will be there for Taylor unlike you."
Anne left her sister's room and went downstairs to talk to her mom and dad about the note Emma had been writing. She also decided that she was going to spend the night in her old room and possibly stay until Sunday night before going back to college.
Emma found herself back in the office once more after being told by her mom to get her ass downstairs at once.
Her dad was scowling, her mom looked furious and Anne's face expressed sadness.
Alan picked up the note that Anne had taken from Emma and looked at his youngest daughter at first in anger then in sadness.
Alan ran a hand through his hair and sighed, "Your sister brought this to your mom and I. Is this want you want to do? You want to leave this family?"
Emma shook her head. "No, I'm sorry mom and dad."
With a stern expression her dad asked, "What are you sorry for?"
"For that", Emma pointed at the note in Alan's hand.
Her mom asked, "Is that it?"
"Why Emma?", asked Alan.
"I...I...don't know.", Emma shrugged.
Zoe sighed, "Emma, we are trying to help you. What we are doing is for your own good."
Emma was silent, her head bowed down but she mumbled something.
Alan asked, "What was that?"
Emma was silent.
Zoe reached out to touch Emma under her chin to lift up Emma's head. "Sweetie, we care about you, we love you. But this...this isn't you. This isn't who you are. This is why you need help, Emma."
Emma couldn't look at her mom. Her eyes looked down as her mom held up her head.
"Are you really sorry for writing that note Emma?", asked Zoe.
Emma just nodded her head.
Zoe sighed. "I think we're done talking about this for tonight. Let's all go to the living room and watch something together. Anne, go make the popcorn, Alan will get drinks for us all and I'll pick the movie. I'm feeling like we all need a laugh, so we'll go with a comedy."
Alan and Anne went to the kitchen and Zoe took Emma with her to the living room. Emma took her usual spot on the couch while Zoe went through their movies to pick out something. Alan returned to the living room with drinks for everyone, a soda for Emma, a glass of wine for Zoe as well as a soda and a beer for himself. Anne walked in with two huge bowls of popcorn and a soda for himself. Alan took his recliner seat while Anne sat on the couch next to Emma. Zoe had the movie ready to go.
Alan asked, "So, what are we watching honey?"
Zoe said with a smile, "Decided to go old school tonight. An Earth Aleph import and great comedy movie, Airplane!"
Anne cheered. "Haven't seen that in a while, good call mom!"
Alan smirked and in dramatic fashion said, "Surely you're not serious!"
Zoe replied with a straight face, "I am serious and don't call me Shirley." With that she pressed the Play button on the remote and the movie began to play. Family drama could go on hold for the rest of the night.
Director Emily Piggot's Office
It was past 9pm when Sophia Hess, in her Shadow Stalker costume without here weapons reported to Director Piggot's office. She had taken over the Console station from Kid Win and had been on duty for the last few hours. After her shift Miss Militia came to the Wards room and was ordered to the Director's office. Miss Militia escorted Sophia, opened the door to let Sophia in first. Miss Militia followed behind, closing the door.
Waiting inside is Director Piggot and Armsmaster who was standing near the front of the desk facing Shadow Stalker and Miss Militia. Shadow Stalker paused for a brief second before moving forward to stand in front of the desk.
The Director glared at Shadow Stalker for several seconds then said, "Armsmaster, go ahead."
In a very fast and smooth motion the Protectorate hero placed a bracelet on Shadow Stalker's left wrist, the audible click letting everyone know it was in place. Shadow Stalker brought her left arm up to look at the bracelet and excitedly said, "What the fuck is this shit?! Take this off of me!"
Armsmaster stated, "This bracelet will keep you from using your powers and shock you should you attempt to do so. It will stay on until the Director tells me to remove it."
Shadow Stalker was clearly angry snarling, "For what fucking reas-"
Director Piggot cut her off. Her tone was ice cold and hard. The temperature seemed to drop right where Shadow Stalker was standing. "Sit down. Shut up. Listen carefully."
Sophia sat down. Director Piggot made a gesture of taking the mask off. Sophia hesitated at first but she did take her mask off. She was glaring angrily at Director Piggot.
Director Piggot snarled, "Keep that up and Ill snatch one of your eyes out its socket."
Sophia blinked and leaned back to sit fully in the chair as if to put distance between her and the Director. Before she could say anything Director Piggot started talking, "Let's start talking about why you have a new piece of jewelry on your wrist. A tip was phoned in to our Tip Line. The caller claimed that a Ward was abusing students at Winslow." Emily paused briefly and Armsmaster, Miss Militia, and Emily studied Sophia to see her reaction. Sophia flinched slightly and she blinked her eyes quickly. Emily and the others took note.
"As you know, when we get a tip we have to investigate so I sent someone to Winslow to investigate and ask the faculty and staff. I also sent someone to watch you all day." Emily took what she had been holding back, pulling papers out of a folder then spread the in front of Sophia. The papers were photos of Sophia abusing students that Assault had sent the Director earlier in the day.
Sophia blanched then she looked angry. "What the fuck is this shit, spying on me?!"
Emily narrowed her eyes and she snapped, "You're on probation, you don't have a right to privacy!" She pulled more photos and spread them in front of Sophia. "We found these beneath your lockers." Pictures of barbed tipped crossbow bolts were shown, some with dried blood. "We're testing the blood, checking the morgue, and looking for police reports that match the wound patterns of your signature weapons."
Looking directly into Sophia's eyes. "Have you killed anyone since your plea bargain was struck and you were placed under my watch?"
Sophia was defiant but she withered under the glare the Director giving her. She could feel the heat as if Emily Piggot actually had laser beam eyes.
Sophia calmly said, "No. I haven't killed anyone...not since...not since you caught me."
Sophia was sweating now. Visible beads appeared on her forehead and she started bouncing one of her legs up and down in a rapid motion.
The Director took the pictures off he desk, putting them in the folder she pulled them from. Then she pulled more photos out and spread them around. Pointing at the first picture which was Sophia's backpack and the burner cell phone inside she began. "Your backpack was searched and we found this burner phone inside. Armsmaster and Dragon are still in the process of gaining access to it. But, you give me the PIN, this will go a long way in helping your case."
Emily slid a sheet of paper with a pen. After a few seconds Sophia took the pen and wrote down some numbers then slid the paper back to the Director who took the paper, looked at it and set it aside.
Emily took more pictures out, pointed at one of the pictures, then resumed speaking, "A search warrant was carried out on your home. We found a go bag containing $10,000 with a fake ID as well as lethal ammunition for your crossbow that you had hidden in the walls and ceiling of your bedroom."
Emily pointed at another couple pictures. "We found your hiding spots in the Docks and Trainyard which you had hidden another go back with $20,000 cash as well as another fake ID along with more lethal ammunition for your crossbow at the docks location then in your Trainyard location you stashed $6,000 along with drugs and two guns. You can try and deny it, but your fingerprints and your DNA are all over the items and the rooms you were using."
"While you were being observed at school, I told you earlier that I sent someone else to speak with your principal. That sorry excuse for a principal has been covering up your violent acts against other students, not doing her goddamn job in making sure you toed the fucking line and report your actions like she was supposed to. I've got your school file, she's kept every complaint filed against you but she did a piss poor job in clearing you, it wouldn't stand under serious scrutiny, especially when I have these pictures of you abusing students. I've got you red handed Sophia. You're done."
Sophia was visibly agitated. She got her bouncing leg under control, the sweat on her face was visible to Director Piggot as well as Armsmaster and Miss Militia.
Sophia asked in a sassy tone, "Alright, you got me. What now?"
Emily snarled, "As of now you're benched. No patrols until further notice, and you will be on Console duty for the foreseeable future. I'm confining you to this location until further notice. I've already notified your mother that you will be here through the weekend. Don't try to leave, that bracelet will shock you should you take one step outside the building." Emily pointed at the bracelet on Sophia's wrist. "You can stay in your room and continue to have access to the Wards room, the gym, and the cafeteria. We still have some investigating to do. Your future is up in the air at the moment. I will have to forward all of our findings to the Brockton Bay District Attorney's office. You may or may not be going to jail, but your current plea deal is null and void from this moment."
The Director looked at Miss Militia. "Militia, make sure that Miss Hess no longer has access to her weapons or any weapons for that matter upon her return to her room."
Miss Militia replied, "I took the liberty of having her room as well as the Wards common area searched and scanned while we have been meeting here. I will forward the report to you as I receive it."
Emily gave an approving smile. "Good job, Miss Militia." Then she looked at Sophia again. "Now, I have some questions for you about your PRT liaison, Agent Loretta Henderson. Has Agent Henderson given you or your mother any money?"
Sophia looked surprised then let out a bark of a laugh. "That's a good one. No."
The Director pressed, "You need to be honest."
Sophia brought up both her arms then dropped them back down in exasperation. "Okay, she gives me $20 once in a while so I could buy lunch or get a smoothie from my favorite juice store."
"How often was that?", asked the Director.
Sophia replied, "Six or seven times maybe, I wasn't keeping count."
"She never gave you more than that?"
Arms folded, looking serious Sophia replied, "No."
Director Emily Piggot looked at Armsmaster and Miss Militia, the two heroes giving subtle nods of their heads and Emily gave a satisfied look. "Sophia, did Principal Blackwell or Agent Henderson assign you any law enforcement activity at Winslow?"
Sophia gave another bark of a laugh. "Hell no."
Director Piggot pressed, "You didn't do any work at the school? Identify gang shotcallers, locate any of their stashes on site? Find out what the different gangs were doing or planning at the school?"
Sophia rolled her eyes, "Look, going to Winslow, you learn who's in which gang very fast. As for the shotcallers, those are upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, mostly seniors though and you don't want to f- um, I mean mess with them. They don't mess around. They have guns and are not afraid to use them." The Director and the heroes didn't seem to be surprised. "Shocking I know." She said that last sentence sarcastically. "Do I know who the shotcallers are at that school? Yes, have I told anyone? I told my bitch of a probation officer way back in May, she didn't do anything with it, so I decided not to give her anything unless she asked me for it. She never did. As for Blackwell, she didn't give a shit either, I know for a fact she never called the cops about it."
Emily stared at Sophia. She jotted down what Sophia had said onto her notepad. Then she opened a drawer, pulled out a large notepad and slid it over to Sophia. "You can start with writing the names of those gang shotcallers. Give me Empire, ABB names first. Merchants, you can give me later. This information will be vetted and verified, but should it be accurate, your cooperation will help your case."
Sophia looked at the notepad then she looked at the Director. After several seconds Sophia said, "You know what? I think I'm done. Lawyer."
Emily arched an eyebrow. "Is that the way you want to play it?"
Sophia nodded. "Yeah, I'm done. Lawyer."
"Very well. Miss Militia, please take Miss Hess down to holding."
Sophia blinked. "Wait! You said I could stay in my room!"
Emily paused in putting papers and photos away. "You want to go to your room? You need to cooperate. No cooperation, you get what Agent Henderson is currently enjoying, a six by eight cell. While she gets to go to Concord and sit in a federal facility, you will get transported to Parahuman juvenile hall first thing in the morning."
Sophia glared at Director Piggot. Emily was not phased. Miss Militia had grabbed Sophia's arm and was pulling her up out her seat when Sophia who was still glaring at Piggot pulled her arm out of Miss Militia's grasp and said, "Wait! Wait! Nevermind! I'll cooperate!"
Miss Militia was trying to grab Sophia again but Director Piggot held up her hand so she stopped. Armsmaster had pulled his halberd out but hadn't extended it and paused as well.
Emily said, "Are you rescinding your request for a lawyer of your own choice?"
Sophia sat back down in the chair glaring at Miss Militia, Armsmaster then at Director Piggot. "Yes! I'll cooperate. I don't want a lawyer."
Sliding the notepad again to Sophia Emily said, "Shotcaller names first."
Sophia picked up the pen that was on the notepad and started writing names of Winslow High School seniors and juniors that she knew were the leaders of the various factions at the school. It didn't take her very long. When she finished, she passed the notepad back over to the Director. She looked at the names and she took note that Sophia had separated them into the different gangs, she had a header for each gang then names under the header as well as the grade they were in. In total it was just under a dozen names, four Empire, four ABB, three Merchants.
Emily tapped the paper. "You swear to me that this information is true?"
"It's the truth. Those names are legit.", replied Sophia.
Emily tore off the page, giving it to Armsmaster. "Run these names through the database. They should be in the system already. Then we can inform BBPD about these young men and see if they'll do anything about it."
Armsmaster gave a salute replying with a "Yes, ma'am." He then turned and left the room.
Emily flipped her notepad to another page and looked at her problematic Ward. "Now, let's talk about Emma Barnes. Who is she?"
Folding her arms across her chest Sophia huffed then replied, "She's my best friend."
Emily wrote her response down. "How long have you known her?"
Another huff. "Since summer of last year."
The director wrote that down too. "How did the two of you meet?"
Sophia took a breath. The she asked a question, "Why do you want to know?"
Emily put her pen down. "You said you were going to cooperate. Are you ceasing your cooperation?"
Sophia shook her head. "No. I just want to know why you want to know about Emma."
With a direct look Emily replied, "Your friend's name is all over your school file. She's covered for you multiple times when complaints were filed against you. Most of those complaints are from one student, a Taylor Hebert but there are some other names like Charlotte, Sierra, and Greg. Emma's name is on each of those complaints where she has covered for you in the piss poor investigation your principal has conducted. So, I am taking your life apart. I want to know everything. So once again, how did the two of you meet?"
Sophia took a moment then she said, "Fine. We met out on the street when we ran into each other. I thought she looked like someone I should get to know. She had nice clothes….well, they were nicer than mine anyway."
Emily was looking at Sophia as she spoke. She jotted down Sophia's reply onto her notepad. Then she looked up at Sophia again and asked, "Does she know your secret identity?"
Again Sophia didn't answer right away. Director Piggot flipped some pages from her notepad then looked at Sophia. "She testified on your behalf during your trial. I also note that her father did as well. Then there's the fact that you were picked up by PRT transport just outside Alan Barnes's law office."
Sophia nodded her head slowly. "Yeah, she knows my secret."
Looking quite stern Emily asked, "You never told anyone here at the PRT or the Protectorate about this? Does her father know as well?"
Sophia replied, "She's my best friend, I trust her. As for her dad...he knows too."
"You should have told Armsmaster, or Miss Militia, or myself. If they had been captured and tortured, you and your family could have been in danger. We will be talking to Mister Barnes and his family and get any of them who know your secret to sign DNA's."
Jotting something down Emily asked, "Is there anyone else who knows your secret identity, someone else at school?"
Sophia shook her head.
Miss Militia had backed off but was standing nearby in case she had to act once more. The director moved on to asking more questions and Sophia would answer them. Finally after more than an hour and a half of questioning Sophia was escorted to her room and reminded of her new restrictions. Kid Win, Aegis, and Gallant had gone home. Vista was watching a movie with Triumph, the Earth Aleph version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Both teenagers were not wearing their masks given the lateness of the day.
Leaving Sophia's room, Miss Militia said, "Rory, please come with me to the Director's office. Missy, are you staying the night?"
Miss Militia gave a curt nod. "Very well. This information will be given out later and must remain confidential. You are to speak of it to no one. Sophia is under suspension. That is all I am telling you. Rory will be getting briefed right now and he will tell all the Wards what you are cleared to know tomorrow. Good night Missy."
Missy sat there shocked. She couldn't believe what she heard. Rory gave Missy a reassuring pat on the shoulder then put on his mask and left with Miss Militia.
Missy looked at the closed door to Sophia's room then resumed the movie. It was at the point of the film where the ghost pirates were walking on the ocean floor to take over the British warship. A couple of minutes later, Sophia emerged from her room, went to the refrigerator, pulled out some items then went to her room and closed the door again. Missy tried to say something to Sophia but she didn't know what to say and Sophia did not stay out for very long to give her a chance to.
Triumph was now in Director Emily Piggot's office. She told him to sit down, which he did.
With a sigh, the Director said, "As of this moment, Sophia's on suspension. I will allow her to be on Console duty, but that is it. Make sure she has no access to any weapons, especially Kid Win's pistols. Armsmaster has her wearing a bracelet that he devised that neutralizes her power, it will shock her if she tries to use her power as well as if she tries to leave the building."
Triumph was shocked, he could only nod his head in understanding before he could finally speak, "I...I understand Director Piggot."
With a nod of her own the Director resumed, "It would appear that we we overestimated our success in bringing Shadow Stalker into the Wards. But then, her liaison officer was a corrupt piece of shit hiding many of her misdeeds. We ignored the warning sings as well. The numerous complaints you and your fellow Wards had submitted just were not looked at as a larger problem. As Director, you have my apology and my assurance that it will not happen again. Armsmaster will speak with you later. But, for now let me be clear on this subject. While Sophia is indeed under suspension, her plea deal has been rendered null and void. We are still investigating and will turn everything over to the DA's office shortly as well as informing the Chief Director about this situation. Sophia could end up going to jail, or a new deal could be negotiated. As I said, it's up in the air."
Pointing her finger at Triumph, she continued, "You are to only tell the Wards that Sophia's under suspension until further notice and that you cannot comment any further. If any of them have questions, they are to come to Armsmaster, Miss Militia, or myself. Until a decision is made, she has access to her room, the Wards common room, the gym, and the cafeteria. I cannot stress this enough, she is to have no access to any Wards equipment or weapons."
Triumph nodded in understanding. "Yes, Director."
Emily gave a sigh, "Very well, we will discuss things further once a decision is finalized. You're dismissed Triumph, and good night."
Standing up, the young hero gave a salute and said, "Yes, ma'am."
The young hero left the office.
Looking up at Miss Militia, Emily Piggot said, "This has been a hell of a day. Unless you have anything you want to say, you're dismissed."
Miss Militia sighed, "I'm informing you that I will visit and speak with Mister Barnes and Mister Hebert about Sophia tomorrow morning. I'll go undercover as a detective."
Emily quietly looked at Miss Militia then replied, "Approved. We need all the information we can get. Good night."
With a salute, the heroine left the office. The director sighed and stood up slowly. Stabbing pain in her back and legs struck causing her to hiss in agony. Finally taking a couple of breaths, she quietly said under her breath, "What a fucking day."
The director secured her computer and her desk, then she walked out of her office, securing that as well. She was going to go get a real meal and return to her office to finish up her work for the day. Or maybe she would just go home, she'd decide after she ate.
Author's Note: So, I hoped to have this chapter out sooner and I was working on this for a while on my tablet, and um...more than half of what I wrote went kablooey. It was gone. Vanished. Disappeared. So, I had to rewrite everything. From memory. Notes were gone too. Still trying to figure that out. Oh well.
Looks like I've vastly underestimated my story length. Look at this chapter, more than 13,000 words! I had hoped to write up the final chapter and epilogue with this chapter but looks like I have more story to tell. Maybe, the next chapter will be the last. I guess it will end when my muse tells me it can end. (I'm blaming The Simurgh. It's always a Simurgh plot.)