Arc 2 Welcome to Brockton Bay birds !
Chapter 1

The sound of Liz rumbling in my ear and the sudden cool air on my skin woke me up the next day.

"m'go way iz." I barely managed to mumble, before pulling the sheet on me again.

I yelped when she grabbed me by the legs and pulled me out of the bed, before licking my face energetically.

"Stop ! stop ! I'm up !" I could clearly see the mischief inside of her eyes, with a last lick on the face she walked on the bed and laid down in it barring me all possibility of returning to my worlds of fluffy dreams.

Ass.

I looked around my bedroom, it was still very much in a mess of wire, metal plate and piles of boxes. I couldn't even begin to clean up because Skylight needed to finish working on the walls ... He would probably have launched his drone to work will I was sleeping but Osprey dissuaded him when I returned from my nocturnal excursion.

So an hour later I was outside, Ythel having literally kidnaped me after breakfast to "breath some oxygen will the boys are playing with their toys".

we were walking in silence alongside a busy street of the commercial district with Ythel at my side.

Brockton bay was a relatively nice city but, you could see the sign of recession all around, with closed shop and abandoned building here and here but, in the vicinity of our base camp and around the city center it was something you saw here and here but not that common. It was apparently worse near the old dock, completely abandoned after the emergence of Leviathan and the death of most sea-based economy Ythel explained to me after we passed yet another empty building.

We were both in our 'civilian' guise, Ythel having the appearance of a young woman with red hair and nice curve in a blue robe, will I, with my black dyed hair and sunglasses, was in blue jeans with a black jacket.

At first, I was fine, the day was young and the city was still slow to come out of its sleep, people were few and far between. I was taking a good amount of girly pleasure doing some window-shopping.

That, however, didn't last long, more and more people were out on the streets, more and more people who could see me. And I was VERY aware that people were looking at me.

When I was in the temple I passed most of my time around people that didn't look at me like I was a freak and a murderer and I mostly used the armor to go around, it was part of the training and it also makes me feels safe. I don't feel safe now.

Walking around, in broad daylight, in the middle of a human city, full of people who will probably shoot me on sight if they know who I am, what I've done. I feel naked, vulnerable, in danger.

The PRT and Protectorate were still out for my hide. I had to glance around looking for suspicious people, capes, and escape road, it's difficult when I couldn't see SHIT !

I started to breath quicker, my vision becoming less clear and tunneling. I was paralyzed in the middle of the street, my brain in overload.

I have to run, to hide, I can't stay here !

I nearly screamed at the top of my lung when Ythel gently took my hand in hers, thumb stroking the back of mine.

"Take a deep breath, you're okay, I'm with you, nothing will happen to you, do you understand?"

She speaks quickly but, softly, never letting go of my hand nor her smile like she's talking with her best friend about something exciting.

"If you walk around having a panic attack people will notice it and not the sort of attention we want or need, so calm yourself."

"But, what if..." I began but, she didn't let me finish.

"Nothing, They can't find us by how we look and how we act, your hair are dyed and don't have any feathers anymore. And if shit happens, your DNA is similar but not exactly the same of old Paige thanks to the Chozo. NOBODY can't prove shit against you if you don't use your power."

She continues to smile and her eyes reflect a mix of concern for me and about me.

"A journey in life is a journey to dompt death and its servant, fear."

Osprey voice echoed in my mind, I clung to it, eyes closed.

"But fear is something useful." I hear myself saying

I could feel the wind at the top of the cliff behind the temple, the warm of the sun on my face. I am seated next to him, overlooking the valley.

"Of course but, most creature holds it as a tool to survive. When it is nothing more than an obstacle to overcome on the road leading to death. He who overcome is fear, overcome is death and can walk the Beyond."

Deepening my breath, letting my heartbeat drop, the tension in my muscle disappearing second after second.

"The Beyond ?"

"Besides, it's not like we are preparing an alien invasion, right ?"

The voice of Ythel broke my concentration, and I looked at her, blinking. She began to laugh, letting go of my hand she slapped me in the back.

"Gods you should see your face !"

I smiled at her, all trace of panic disappearing.

"You have never been taught not to interfere in the middle of a meditation ?"

"I always sucked at those things, I'm an action girl !" She stroked a heroic pose, barely keeping her laugh at bay, will I simply raised an eyebrow at her antic.

More at ease, I glanced around. A few people looked at us funnily but most simply continued minding their own business. Great Paige, first day home and you panic over ... nothing ! What a fucking great day.

"I have trouble imagining you in the thick of things you know." I said without even looking at her.

"Oh dear, you're so naïve and innocent." she patted my cheek and pinched it playfully making me yelp.

After that, she didn't comment anymore on the subject, and since I was less tense we continued our walk deeper in the commercials streets in the direction of the Boardwalk.

I didn't have another panic attack after that, even when walking in the middle of crowded streets, thanks to Ythel presence and Osprey meditation techniques, but, I still felt oppress by them.

Around noon she wanted to eat in a restaurant she knows on the Broadwalk.

That's how we find ourself sitting at a terrace overlooking the busy street.

We passed command a while ago and were waiting for our meal passing the time by discussing Jovian culture and galactic politic.

At first, I was nervous to spoke about that in the middle of a restaurant, when she saw that she simply brushed my concern of by stating that it was her newest role-playing games and flashing me a wry smile.

"So if I follow you, you renamed your world, Jovia XII ? For convenience purpose ?" I asked surprised, waving my hand around, she nodded simply.

Whoa, I can't see us doing that, I mean Mars is Mars and always will be Mars right ? Well, I can, at least, see the need to rename the Sun something else than just Sun...

"Not our world, well not really, we simply renamed the system and every planet in it. Look at it that way, having multiple names inside a single system is pretty stupid notably when you begin to have multiple systems to govern. It's bothersome for the administration and people so, in the end, we have done like what other races have done, we renamed our sun Jovia I and planet were renamed in an ascending order. But, we let moons with their old traditional name since they are considered part of the world they orbit around in our planetary management."

She explained will sipping her ice tea.

"So if we begin to also use that system, Earth is actually Earth IV ?"

"Yep, it's pretty straight forward but, it's not like you will go around saying "I'm for Earth IV" For one people don't care wich world exactly you came from, system is generally sufficient, and two if you just say Earth people will presume it's the main world of the system, you only use the number when you want to specify wich rock your speaking about. Oh, thank you miss."

The waitress arrived with our respective meal. My mouth was watering at the glorious sight of my fish and fries and I dug into it like there was no tomorrow. Ythel simply laughed at me when she saw that before trying to eat despite her giggles.

"So what's Jovia like ?" I asked curiously when I finally find the time to speak between eating and breathing. Those fries were heavenly.

"It's a giant, hot and humid swamp." Apparently my surprise showed on my face since she continued with a raised eyebrow. "What ? Did you expect something that looked like here ?" She made a vague gesture with her hand. "Jovia is a swamp at eighty percent, there are other things of course, like mountain and plain but mostly it's a swamp. Camouflage was the best tool to survive in there. But I would not recommend visiting it as a tourist, even today it's still a dangerous place."

"I already dislike Florida, I don't think I will ever go willingly there, that's just not to my taste." She laughed at that.

We didn't really speak much after that, too focused on eating, to do much else.

From time to time I glanced at the street below, trying not to freak out, it was really animated. Hundreds of people walking around minding their own business. Unaware of our presence, wich I was thankful for, and it's significance.

It was also less symptomatic of a dying city at the verge of internal collapse and unlawfulness that was depicted by what I know and what Ythel report said.

Here restaurants were full and shops bustling with activity.

I could spot cape tourist from a mile away with how they looked around hoping to see the faintest trace of the local heroes.

Police cars were also more present, every five minutes or so a patrol passed by.

Walls were not tagged and windows not broken, there were no empty building and no closed shop.

Road and street were well maintained and if I presumed rightly the light probably all worked.

Captain hills was not as pristine than the center of the town, or as damaged than the docks but was showing sign of the recession none the less.

The sound of people cheering made me turn my head in the direction of the sound.

People were gathering next to a pair of motorbikes, probably a woman in green and black costume was waiting on one will waving her hand at the crowd. Not even two minutes later men with a bright red costume walked out of a Starbucks.

People were cheering them, taking photos and autographs.

"That's Assault in red, and Battery in green, local protectorate." Her voice drastically changed, probably her native language, since the translator necklace began to translate inside my mind. "He have control over kinetic force, the harder you hit him, the harder he kicks back and she can alter her own biology, in a very limited fashion, to do things out of the leagues of normal humans. Very similar to a Jovian. They work very well in tandem and have a bags full of tricks. Dangerous in close combat."

I nodded and a small, tiny, enormous amount of nostalgia and anger made its way into my guts, six months ago it was I who was cheered by my fans, and now ...

I couldn't keep my sneer to myself.

"We move ?" I asked turning to look at Ythel.

"We move." She said, a smile on her face.

The walk back to the base was uneventful and kinda boring. The city doesn't have any things to see except its cape population, of that two third are not the most photogenic kind.

I was actually glad to return to the base and very probably to my bed if Liz has stopped napping in it.

I at least know that I lowered my defense and stopped really paying attention, so focused on the feeling of security the proximity of Liz and Osprey could give me.

So when the "Welcome to Brockton Bay party" jumped on us when we entered a secondary and narrow alley to take a "shortcut", Ythel words, I was kinda surprised.

"What two beautiful ladies like you are doing in those dangerous streets ?"

They were five of them, two in front and three in our back. The guy how just spoke had a knife in his right hand and was bald, on his left a guy with a crowbar and a leather jacket. The three behind us used various kind of brass knuckles, from the classic to one with small blades.

"Oh dear ..." I heard Ythel whisper.

They were no escape from this situation, my heartbeat skyrocketed.

"You could us some protection you know we never know how dangerous streets can be even at this hour, against some fees, of course, and maybe more if, well, we appreciate each other." He looked at us like two pieces of meat.

"Well dear, I love having multiple dancing partners and actually..." Ythel gives him a once over, smiling. "... your kinda my type."

the others guys cheered at the exchange and get a little closer to us.

"Like we have found our jackpot, right Berry ?" said the guys with the crowbar.

"Paige, could you occupied those three boys will I relieve those two others, big boys ?" I looked at her with complete disbelief, She was going to let us sell our body to those thugs, I was on the verge of another panic attack.

Then I saw her eyes and my panic subsided.

"Of course, I could use some company too." I respond while taking a position, I hoped, suggestive.

They mostly dropped their guard and got into arms length smiling and cheering each other on those bitches in heat they just find, Berry even having is left hand on Ythel hips.

He never saw the seven-inch blade that appeared in her hand.