1:03 PM MDT, Thursday, August 13th, 2015


The place had changed a lot. It had grown less quiet, mostly. Ruins and rumors really didn't stop people from trying to rebuild when there was something to offer, and, well, Uncle Morah had a lot to offer. Even more than he'd started with. Challengerville was bustling again, mostly research groups and laboratories, with all the amenities of civilization growing up around those profitable places filled with people who needed to eat and amuse themselves just like anyone else.

It was annoying, really. I'd gotten used to this being a quiet place. Not that anything was actually quiet when I used my power.

Still, even with the town in the background, the Mountain itself had remained untouched. The Mountain, and the memorial on it. A trail had gradually been worn into the ground by the few who'd come to see it, but the difficulty of the hike for most- not me, though, Mom's fitness regimen saw to that- kept a lot of them away. The place was deserted.

Good. This was private.

The duffle bag on my back clanks slightly as I set it down in front of the solid block of granite that marked the site. All it takes a moment's thought, and my ears shiver and morph into the batlike form they took when my power activated. Sound spills out, to my eyes visible as a riot of not-color and wild hues.

I hated talking, even after years of tutoring to undo the damage my...what was the thing Mom called him? Ah, right...sperm donor had done to me. It just seemed...off. Inefficient. It was a lot easier to have my power talk for me.

"Hey, uncle," I whisper through my power, bending sound to my will so nobody could hear.

How long had it been since I'd last taken the time to do this? Two years? Three? Too long.

"It's...it's been a while. But...I'm ready. I talked it over with Mom. We're working it out, but identity isn't really an issue. I'm a bit too public for that. Even if nobody knows I have powers...well, I'm still her kid. People would notice me. But we've got a reason for me to move to the town she picked out and nobody will think too much of it. I don't have powers like hers at all, anyway."

I settle back against the marble, and drum my fingers on the duffle bag for a moment.

"I'm still working on the name, but I've got a plan. And I talked to First. So...thank you, for that gift. I guess you kinda knew what I was going to be doing, and what I'd like. It's like you."

I let silence rest for several minutes as I think it over.

"A lot's changed. I don't think you'd recognize the country, by now. Everything you did, heck, everything Dr. Destiny did...it was kind of a wake-up call. The League's bigger...and it's got competition, too. Manchester and the November Five just started up in England last year, and they're not the first. I hope he'll do okay. After Uncle Morah helped with his sister, he's been less of a jerk, but he's still...well, he's a bit like you on the bad days. Prickly."

I couldn't talk like this normally. Too many words, too much effort to keep my brain straight in the process of saying them. But with my power, I just have to think.

"I'll be okay. Mom's been training me. And I think...well, someone has to do it. Cops can't be everywhere. Not even the MIT. And with what you've left for me...I'll be fine."

I smile.

"Better than fine, really."

3:18 PM EDT, Saturday, August 15th

Captain's Hill Apartment Complex

I was regretting asking Mom to not help with moving in. Sure, the fact that her not being here also meant the press wasn't here was a good thing, but I sure felt I could use some super-strength right now. I didn't have that much to move, but it was still frustrating to get done.

Right across the street a new Themysciran women's shelter was being opened, and that was keeping most of the people staring in that direction. The apartment was in Mom's name and she was supposed to live there, about fifteen minutes of her own flight away from the Theymsciran Embassy, but we both knew she'd probably keep doing what she'd been doing for years- working at the Embassy and sleeping on a cot in the back room, or on the Watchtower. Being a hero didn't leave a lot of time for home comforts.

Didn't bother me much, most times. She gave me space when I needed it, and unless the world was actually, literally on fire she'd come spend time with me whenever I needed that instead. Still. Her help would've been great at the moment.

I growl something Ferdinand the Minotaur had once begged me to never repeat in front of Mom under my breath as I finally manage to dig my key out of my pocket while balancing a heavy couple of boxes on my hip with my other arm. Come on…

"Hey, you moving in?"


One of the boxes goes flying as I jump at the voice right behind, spinning around. It thuds to the carpeted floor heavily as I try to get my heart rate back under control and look over the girl who'd startled me at the same time.

Caucasian, light brown hair and enough freckles to last a lifetime. About my age, judging from her height, and smiling like she's amused by something.

"You going to keep staring, or what?" she asks. "I can do this all day."

Oh. I'm not blushing as I turn back and finally open the door, then look at her again with a raised eyebrow.

"I'm Sam. And you are…?"

"Cass," I say in my normal voice. "Just moving in."


"No. Mom's busy, though."

"Oh, cool. Need a hand?"

I consider for a moment, then nod, using the one box I'd managed to keep a hold of to keep the door open. Both of them were filled with books anyway, it's not like they'd suffer for it.

The apartment's pretty nice, all told. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a big living room/kitchen/dining room combination out front, everything in it new. Especially the iron carved in runes on the window frames. That was what really made Mom decide to let me live here- this city was, for all its usual staying-under-the-radar-ness, pretty fast to catch up to magic being a thing rather than just something people like Zatara did for profit and hero work. And that meant keeping some things out.

Sam chatters a lot as we work. I keep quiet, mostly, answering questions. I'm not trying to be rude, it's just...tiring, to even think of saying as much as she has in the past few minutes. She doesn't seem to mind, and I get a lot of information out of her.

We're going to the same school- some middle-of-the-road place named after a local civil servant- and my guess was right about us being the same age. She promises to show me around, since I don't know anyone.

It's...nice. Normal.

With her helping and with me not having that much in the first place, we finish really early. Once I've set the last box down, I roll my shoulders, loosening stressed muscles, and then turn back to her. "So. What's there to do for fun around here?"

Sam considers it. "In Brockton Bay? Probably the Boardwalk."

Sounds like a plan to me.