Arrival 1.4

Karren Starr was a name I made up on the spot, a sudden fit of paranoia I couldn't quite explain. I still wasn't sure whether or not this was a universe where I and my friends and family were fictionalized or not. Danny Hebert's reaction to me had suggested the former, but neither Carol nor Victoria nor Mark had questioned me on it. Ultimately, I had decided to err on the side of caution rather than take an unnecessary risk in an unfamiliar world. Thankfully, no one dwelled on the name for very long, as the Dallons were quick to grill me on everything else with an almost gleeful I wasn't sure why. Linda Danver's was a perfectly acceptable name and the odds of two people having the same name on a planet of seven billion people were particularly high. The decision was 100% spur of the moment, but I didn't dwell on it for long. Carol and the Dallons spent plenty of time grilling me after I gave my name.

Though she definitely held strict standards, Carol didn't push too hard on the personal questions. Most of what she asked were simple questions, where I was from, why I was in Brockton, how long did I plan on staying, etc. I kept my answers simple and brief, answering as truthfully as I could without giving away everything. But while Carol was certainly more restrained in her questioning, her husband and Victoria were… not.

An hour after Carol had finished questioning me, I was in Vicky's room still answering her questions about my powers, while trying on some of her clothes. Since I had nothing to wear aside from my costume, she had happily offered me a look through her closet for temporary clothes.

I was totally jealous of her closet.

It was a full walk in with rows of skirts, blouses, dresses and a library's worth of shoes. Even with super speed it would take me hours to go through everything Victoria had at her disposal. I was of course, in total heaven, and it was a lovely distraction from all of her questions about my powers.

"I can buy that you're some sort of jack of all trades grab bag of powers, but I draw the line at super-ventriloquism." Vicky said. She was lying on her bed, feet leaning on the wall behind the head of her bed with her arms lazily splayed out around her.

"No offense, but that is the dumbest shit I've ever heard."

"Victoria, you should be kinder to our guest," Carol's voice chided from the doorway.

The girl jerked up and looked at the doorway to see it empty, and me stepping out of her closet with a smug grin on my face. "After all, we wouldn't want to be rude, would we?" I continued, in a perfect imitation of her mothers voice.

Victoria closed her hanging jaw and looked at the sun dress I was wearing with a critical eye. It was a cute little number, a soft yellow with lines of white along the waist and the shoulder straps. Add a pair of flats and a wide brimmed hat and it would be perfect for a casual stroll down the boardwalk. I smiled and did a little twirl in it, sending the hem spinning, "It's a little shorter than I'm comfortable with, but I think I can make it work." I said.

"Oh yes, absolutely. You work that dress girl." Victoria slid off the bed and walked up to me, "And you haven't even seen the best part, look!"

She slid her hands into two sleeves on either side of the dress and grinned, "It has pockets!"

I put my hands on Victoria's shoulders with a serious expression on my face, "Vicky. Can I marry you? I don't love you or anything, but I want your closet."

And then we both melted into a fit of laughter in giggles. It wasn't often I got to 'girl-out' over pretty dresses with others. Kal was as stereotypically male as they came, Starfire's idea of appropriate clothing was running in a bikini, and Barbara, bless her heart, was too serious to really enjoy it beyond having a critical eye for what I wore. Vicky was a nice change of pace, to say the least.

"Excuse me," a small voice interrupted our giggle fit, and after we got our laughter under control, we both looked up to see Amy peering through the doorway.

Victoria broke into a scattered chuckle before she reigned it in and addressed her sister, "H-hey Ames. We being a bit loud?"

"Try extremely." she said dryly.

"Sorry Amy," I apologized and pushed myself up to my feet, smoothing the dress as I did. "I didn't mean to disturb you. I should be about finished now anyway now."

She grunted and disappeared back down the hall. We both heard her door shut loudly a moment later. Victoria winced and said, "Sorry, Karren. I forgot about Amy's class project."

I shrugged, "It's okay. I should have enough for tonight and tomorrow anyway, just to get by anyway. Thanks for sharing."

"Oh I have more clothes than I know what to do with, and you couldn't go running around in tights all day." Victoria said.

She looked back at the door and sighed, "I should… probably go talk to Amy though. It looks like something is bothering her."

I nodded and gathered the folded clothes I'd selected, "I have more than enough for now anyway. I'll head downstairs and leave you two to it."

We parted ways at the door, me heading downstairs and Victoria heading for her sister's room. I made a point to ignore their conversation to the best of my abilities. It wasn't polite to eavesdrop on friends after all. Besides, it looked like those two needed to have a talk face to face, and I didn't want to intrude anymore than I already had.

Carol had already shown me to theirmy guest room, located to the left of the living room past the stairs at the far end of the hall right next to a spare closet. It wasn't as large or as well furnished as any of the family's rooms, but it was very nice for a guest room. Enough space for a full size mattress, a nightstand and its own closet.

I quickly hung my borrowed clothes in the closet in the blink of an eye, and headed back into the kitchen for a drink. I was surprised to run into Mark in the kitchen; Mark and a slice of cake he was trying very hard to look like he was not eating in secret. He paused mid bite, and looked at me sheepishly.

"Hello, Karren." he said as straight faced as he could. At the same time he very casually threw the slice back into the fridge, and smiled innocently.

I looked at the fridge and let a sly smile cross my lips, "Dieting, Mr. Dallon?"

He patted his stomach affectionately; he didn't seem out of shape to me, but the standards for the average person and the standards for a superhero were different. "I promised Carol I'd get below 180 and stay there. But…"

The look of longing on his face when he turned back to the fridge was almost comical. I chuckled and went to grab a glass. As I filled it with water from the fridge I said, "Your secret is safe with me, Mr. Dallon. A little cake won't kill you."

"A little white lie never hurt anyone." He agreed, and reached back into the fridge for his cake. "Makes everyones lives a little easier."

I took a sip, the water not as refreshing as I'd hoped. A frown formed on my face and I sighed, "Yeah, a little easier… Thank you again for your hospitality, Mr. Dallon."

He 'mph'd' back at me, his mouth full of cake, and I chuckled as I returned back to my room. I didn't make it back, Victoria intercepted me at the stairs. Bounding down them two at a time, she stopped and leaned on the railing, a large smile on her face.

"So, Karren, I got a question for ya."

I raised a brow at her, "And what might that be?"

Victoria was always a little bubbly but she was way more animated than I had ever seen before, practically jumping from foot to foot, "Okay, so I know I just lent you a bunch of spare clothes, but I talked with mom-"

"I thought you were talking with your sister?" I asked.

She rolled her hand, "Work in progress, I've got it. Anyway, I talked with mom, and I was able to convince her to give us a budget. So, how would you like to go shopping tomorrow with me, Amy, and a friend or two of mine?"

I didn't have to think long on that. I loved shopping, loved seeing all the stores, trying on new clothes, browsing, chatting with friends. The entire experience was an absolute blast. The only reason I hesitated at all was for a brief debate on if it was worth my time given my current situation. If something more important came up, we could always shop later; the mall wasn't going anywhere.

"Victoria, I'd love to go shopping with you."

She clapped her hands, "Yay! I'll go and call-"

Amy's voice sounded from her room, "No you won't, you have homework first!"

Her sister deflated and her face twisted into a playful scowl, "Stupid homework, stupid school."

I laughed, "Finish your homework. I don't think your friends are going anywhere."

She stuck her tongue out at me, and I thumbed my nose at her in retort. We went our separate ways laughing, and I collapsed back on my bed in the guest room. After a moment, I flopped back onto my bed and stared up at the ceiling.

The Dallon household was quiet when Victoria wasn't talking. I could hear the TV running in the living room where Mark was, the scratch of pen on paper in Amy's room, Carol on a business call in her room, and Victoria plopping into her desk chair in front of her home computer. It was surprising to me to learn that on Earth Bet, computers were so much more commonplace, and that everyone had their own personal phones. On Krypton this was standard, but my Earth was a bit behind the curve. It was impressive to say the least.

I was stalling for time; my interview with the Dallon family had taken some time, but now I was free of obligation. I rolled over on the bed and glanced at the clock, five thirty seven. Rao I was going to get bored so fast. I never took much interest in television beyond cheesy movies with friends, and I didn't have my art supplies here. I could see what they had to read, but that would only occupy me for a few minutes at most.

My eyes flickered to the window, and I let my hearing run free to chase the many sounds of the city. Brockton Bay was busy as any city of its size would be, and its reputation as a city of crime wasn't an unfair one. When I had first arrived, the city had been in what I now recognized as a slump of activity. Night was falling now, and while it was arguable that the most heinous crimes were more likely to occur in the day when everyone was at work, petty crime had a habit of skyrocketing at night in my experience.

A gust of wind filled my room as I changed back into my costume and opened the bedroom window. I set a foot on the window sill and paused; I wasn't required to inform anyone here of my comings or goings, but I was a guest in their house and leaving without saying anything would be rude.

I left a note explaining where I went on the bed in plain view, and flew off into the evening sky. There was trouble afoot, and I was more than happy to foil it.

-S-

The Docks, the epicenter of Brockton Bay's problems. Like most coastal cities, Brockton Bay had depended on shipping and trade as its primary form of income. Commercial hubs were completely dependent on safety and transportation to maintain a constant flow of income. With no real industry to speak of, Brockton Bay had not been prepared for when the shipping industry died. When the endbringer, the Leviathan, began terrorizing coastal cities, shipping became a more dangerous venture. Ports that were seen as less vital were no longer risked, and so cities like Brockton Bay were left to wither on the vine.

With no jobs, came economic depression, and with economic depression came desperation. Honest working men and women turned to crime to support themselves, and the city fell into a decline. Those that didn't or couldn't leave had stayed and begun carving the city into gang territory in a bid to survive. All of this could be traced back to the Docks.

Ruined warehouses, abandoned offices, homeless shanty towns, and a graveyard of ships told the truth that some were trying to deny. Brockton Bay was dying, living its final moments as the world threatened to abandon it all together. It would take nothing short of a miracle to pull this city back from the brink.

I frowned as I flew over the Docks, high enough that no one without super sight could see me. Some said my cousin and I could work miracles, but the truth was that we were just trying to help. To save this city would require more than just punching the bad guys in the face, unfortunately. But, that was a good first step in the right direction.

A scream, short and quickly stifled, stirred me from my thoughts. I swept my gaze across the Docks, focusing my senses on the source. Unsurprisingly, even with super hearing that frankly defied the laws of physics, it could be difficult picking out a single voice in a city of tens of thousands. My hearing gave me a general idea of where the scream came from, my sight helped me peer through the urban forest below, and my intuition helped me determine if I had found the men I was looking for.

It was a skill I had mastered with years of practice now; in less than a minute, I had managed to zero in on a group of men gathered by a large semi-truck with a cargo container strapped to its trailer. Their movements were fast and frantic, and one of them was yelling angrily at the rest, scolding them in a language I recognized as Mandarin. At the bare minimum, they were likely members of the ABB, one of the two major gangs in the city. That alone warranted an investigation.

I dipped forward into a dive, plunging from the sky toward the ground with a frightening speed. The wind tore at my hair and my cape, whistling angrily in my ears as I picked up speed. Brockton Bay rose up to catch me, a hand of a thousand fingers reaching out to me. By now my speed was so great that if I hit the ground, I'd crater a city block.

My arms flashed out, my cape billowed against the air, and the wind hissed at my sudden stop in momentum. The night was silent once again, and I descended the last three inches until my feet were on solid ground. I leaned on the edge of the old office parapet and peered down at the scene unfolding before me.

It was an old dock, rarely used. A series of small boats were pulled alongside it, with spotlights pointed at the parking lot. Nearly two dozen men swarmed the lot, half securing the cargo to the truck, the other half armed with rifles and standing as security. They were dressed in dark colors mostly, with makeshift tactical gear on the security guards and safety gear on the workers. All of them were of an Asian ethnicity.

Everything I read and had been told pointed to this being an ABB operation; the gang exclusively recruited only Asian individuals into its ranks. I was surprised by the number of men at work as I had been under the impression that at most, the ABB had maybe sixty members to its name. It was perhaps possible these were initiates, temporary members, outside 'assistance', or even folks that were forced into work.

I was unable to see inside the cargo container itself, it was lined with some kind of lead plating which was concerning. But, I could hear the cargo. I heard voices inside yelling in panic, a few slamming against its corrugated walls. When they did, one of the guards would kick the wall and yell out a few choice curses in Chinese. ABB or not, it seemed obvious to me that whatever they were up to, it was far from legal.

"Time to get to work, Kara." I murmured to myself, and jumped the parapet and landed softly in front of the building.

I cleared my throat, my Mandarin was a little rusty, and said, So, what's in the box boys?

A dozen guns swiveled towards me along with twenty four eyes; some things transcended universes, evidently. I sighed and held up my hands in a gesture of peace, It's just a simple question, friends.

I heard a radio crackle, one of the guards spoke quietly to the man in charge, in Japanese surprisingly, That's the cape that's been causing havoc all day. What do we do?

Their leader, a short stout fellow standing on top of the cargo container, tensed at the question, and answered in a whisper, Call Lung, and try to slow her down until he gets here.

That's a great idea! I interrupted in Japanese, Call him down, he and I can have a nice chat once I'm done with you guys. Now come on, are you going to make this easy on yourselves, or-

Six of them opened fire on me, not appreciating my banter; fair enough. Even though they were using high powered weapons (at least compared to what most of the crooks I'd dealt with that day were using) any rounds I didn't catch bounced harmlessly off my skin. The ricochet's I snatched out of the air just as easily. When the gunfire slowly ceased, I held out both hands and let the spent ammo shower to the ground. There were murmurs of shock; the unarmed men were slowly moving away from me while the guards lowered their rifles in amazement.

I'd really consider you're next step carefully fellas. I dusted my hands off and put them on my hips, Actually, here, let me make it easier for you.

A flash of my heat vision, and the barrels of a dozen rifles melted into slag in a flash of steam and sparks. Most of the men dropped their weapons in shock; they were the ones I went after first. The air shuddered as I rushed forward in the blink of an eye. I ripped rifles from hands, tripped up those trying to flee, and tied them all up with a nice bow. Literally, I stole a few of the straps from the truck and used it to secure the crooks in bundles of three or four men each.

I tightened the last rope with a satisfying tug. My new captives bombarded me with a surprising number of curses in half a dozen languages, when they weren't panicking at how quickly I had rounded them up. There was a reason crime like this didn't exist in Metropolis anymore. Men with guns were to us like a child with a water gun was to an adult.

But these weren't children, I had to remind myself, these were men. Though I may mock them and tease them, it was for their cruelty and malice towards others, never for their weakness. That was the most important lesson Kal had imparted to me when he taught me how to be Supergirl, I think. That to mock a man for their weakness made you a bully, a villain. Mocking a man for his evil however, could steal away his power; only fear and terror made the evil truly powerful, and if you laughed in their faces, what more could they do to you?

Aryan whore! the leader spat at me, his voice dripping with venom.

I rolled my eyes, It's a good thing I'm shifting you all off to prison. That should give you plenty of time to come up with more creative insults, friend.

More insults followed, but I ignored them and floated back over to the cargo container. It had fallen worryingly silent when I arrived, but I could hear soft whispers inside. Hostages or victims perhaps, leverage for the gang to extend its reach over the city. Despicable, but not surprising.

I ran a finger along the door, found a good point for leverage, and slowly peeled the door open with a low groan of protest from the metal. The harsh dock light filled the interior of the cargo container, alighting a chorus of surprise from inside. I nearly froze as the container's contents were revealed to me.

Packed as tight as they could fit were women, dozens of them. Asian, Caucasian, African-American, the ethnicity didn't matter. The common thread between every captive, they were female and they were young. Some wore battered clothes, some wore none, some were clad in rags; all of them were covered in their own filth, an odor that made my eyes water. Dozens of sets of hallowed eyes looked up at me, lost and confused. Some of them were barely ten years old.

Metal groaned and I realized I had crushed the edge of the container in my grip. I released it and set my jaw. I felt my entire body tremble as I knelt on one knee before the women, forcing a friendly smile on my face.

"How many of you can walk?" I asked.

Silence at first, and no reply. An aching emptiness filled only by the distant sounds of Brockton Bay that sounded so very far away at the moment. A sob broke it, relief that quickly began to sweep through the captives. I had to cover my to hold back my own; it did nothing to hide my tears.

-S-

Thirty-three.

That's how many victims were locked in that cargo container.

Many of them were covered in cuts and bruises, some fighting infection; thankfully there were few with broken bones, and I was able to lead them out into the clear night air without too much trouble. I put them opposite their former captors on the other side of the truck. There was no guarantee that the sight of the men wouldn't have provoked some of the women to rage. There was no guarantee that I would've tried to stop them.

I borrowed one of the guards phones and dialed the police. Several ambulances and half a dozen cruisers and a prison transport arrived in ten minutes. By then I had tended to the worst of the wounded with basic first aid, and some life was returning to the captives. I talked gently with all of them, trying to ease their minds and confirm that yes, they were safe now. The oldest of the captives was in her late twenties.

The youngest was nine.

When the first responders arrived, I took a minute to myself to collect my nerves. I stood at the edge of the dock, watching the waves roll up against its concrete edifice. The noise was soothing and let me clear my thoughts, a welcome relief. My temples throbbed, an unfortunate side effect of when I got angry, which didn't help me cool my temper.

I had seen evil, I had seen cruelty. I had watched madmen try to destroy the world, tyrants try to subvert the freedoms of the people, and monsters spread destruction for the sake of it. But there was something about the small scale and the very human nature of the crime that made me sick. The idea that anyone could… that they'd even consider it.

My body tensed, and I took a deep breath. I had to remind myself, these men were no longer a threat. The police would deal with them, they wouldn't hurt anyone else now. Their threat was dealt with. I could rest easy knowing their victims were free the injustice inflicted on them. There was no reason to get angry, it wouldn't fix anything.

Lung's gonna be pissed. even from the other side of the dock, I heard the criminals talking amongst each other as the cops arrested them.

It's a setback. assured their leader, But once he hears what happened, he'll bust us out. We'll be back in business in no time. Maybe with new merchandise too.

But sometimes, anger feels really good.

The air shook, and suddenly the man found me looming over him. His face was illuminated by the red of my heat vision, twisted in surprise and fear. I grabbed him by the shirt, lifting him until his feet dangled helplessly in the air. One quick blast is all it would take, a flash of red light and he and all of his monsters in crime would be so much ash in the wind. It would be so easy. I was vaguely aware of surprised shouting from the police, shouts of surprise by my sudden appearance.

Another deep breath, and the red light faded. I pulled the man closer until he was inches from my face, and demanded, Lung. Where is he?

-S-

You never disappoint, Lung. was the praise from Handa Nao.

Lung barely paid the Yakuza representative any attention, focused more on the iron in his hands, and the bumping and shifting of the van. Other gangs may take a chance to travel in unnecessary style, ostentatious displays of wealth and power. Lung was content with a refurbished white van; outwardly a hideous thing, inside meticulously maintained. A cleverly disguised one way mirror cut the driver cabin off from the rest of the van while allowing the passengers to see the road outside. The rear of the van had been refitted into a clean semi-traditional kaigijitsu.

It was important to hold onto the heritage of their ancestors, thought Lung. Though his path had taken him far, he never forgot where he had come from or what he sought to do. It was why the praise of men like Handa meant so little to him. A man like him was a sycophant, interested purely in his personal power while holding the illusion of respect before him.

Lung was under no illusions; he was not a good person. But he did not present himself as such. His actions and words reflected who he was, and what he would do. A man like Handa would offer one hand in a gesture of peace while using the other to hide a knife behind his back. But, he was useful to Lungs own purposes.

Feeling fire ripple across his hands, Lung gripped the rod of iron in his hands and squeezed. He took pleasure in using his abilities like this. Building, working with his hands eased the dragon in his soul. It kept his temper in line, and kept his mind sharp. Few knew it, but many of the blades those in the ABB favored, he had forged. Frankly, he would have preferred to stay at one of his many safe houses that night, quietly working away the night on a new blade.

But no, he had to talk with Handa.

Do you have what I asked for? he asked bluntly.

Handa's personable smile faded at Lungs tone, but he maintained his illusion of respect. The briefcase at his side found its way to his hands, and he opened it up to reveal a manilla envelope. Everything we have on recent Yanban movements. Their numbers, their operations. Everything the Yakuza know.

The cost had been high, to get such information. It had been a worthwhile cost; never again would he choke under the yolk of the Chinese. Lung set aside the now flattened chunk of iron and took the envelope from Handa. A movement from the driver's cabin caught Lung's attention.

He thumped a hand against the mirror, and grunted, Oni-Lee. What is it?

I thought I saw something. It was just a street light flickering.

Lung frowned at that. As a warrior, Oni-Lee was excellent, brutal and merciless. He had been of great help to Lung, and his loyalty was a rare thing. But his intuition was lacking and had grown more so once he had entered Lung's service.

Keep alert. Report anything out of the ordinary. Lung ordered. Better to be safe than sorry, that was how he had survived in this city for so long.

He sat back down in his seat, and picked up the folder, Apologies. Where were we?

The words left his mouth, and the entire van flipped. There was no warning no buildup. One moment, Lung was ready to continue his conversation, the next the entire world began spinning, his entire existence a series of spinning images and screaming metal as the van flipped on its side end over end. Without a seatbelt on, Lung was flung loosely about the cabin, feeling something crack as he was. The lights remained on for the first spin, by the second they flickered and by the third he was shrouded in darkness.

Then, he was no longer in the car. He was flying, soaring across the empty street, and landed on the sidewalk in a heap. His body ached, his legs moved slowly to his command, and he was all but certain his ribs were broken. In the late city night, there was little light; he had intentionally set their meeting in the docks to avoid prying eyes. Now he could barely see, save for the street lamps that illuminated the empty streets.

Lung managed to get his arms under himself and pushed up into a pained sitting position. The van lay on its side resting against a street lamp, utterly ruined. One side had been torn clean open and Lung saw no sign of neither Handa nor Oni-Lee. The latter he knew would have taken action the moment they were attacked; he didn't care about the former.

The only question now was who in Brockton Bay would be stupid enough to attack him, and how soon could he rip them to pieces for this brazen insult. Already he could feel the fire racing through his veins, sealing shut cuts and scrapes and soothing the pain in his bones. Lung forced himself to his feet, ignoring the flare of pain in his side. Fire rippled along his left hand, dripping onto the street.

A noise from above caught his attention and he whirled toward it, his now clawed hand filled with fire. He stopped himself at the last second; Handa Nao hung from the street lamp, bound by rope and a rag stuffed in his mouth. He appeared unscratched, and was wriggling hopelessly against his bindings. Had the Protectorate sent Assault and Velocity after him? Velocity had great speed but his ability to influence the world was limited; this couldn't be his work. New Wave had no one with that level of speed or subtlety, so who…

His answer fell from the sky atop the ruins of the van, flattening it in an instant. A woman in blue and red with golden rose from the wreckage, her eyes burning with fire and Oni-Lee held tightly in one hand. She stepped up onto a flattened tire, her gaze centered on Lung, unaware that Oni-Lee's body was disintegrating.

Lung felt a grin form behind his now ruined metal mask, "You have made a great mistake tonight, girl."

Her scowl deepened, and her hand shot out like a serpent to her side. Oni-Lee materialized beside her, grenades in hand, just in time for her hand to wrap tightly around his eyes. She forced him to the ground with the same ease of a parent disciplining a rowdy child, and Lung saw his chance.

While she forced Oni-Lee down against his protests, Lung ran in the opposite direction toward the nearest alley. He needed time, time to build up his strength against an opponent like this. Though he was powerful, it took time to light his fire, time his opponent didn't seem intent on giving him. Once his strength was sufficient, he could free Oni-Lee and the two of them would tear this newcomer apart.

Lung turned the corner into the alley, and ran face first into the woman. He rebounded off her as if he had ran into a concrete wall, nearly falling on his ass. His feet shuffled back and he remained standing, letting fire race up his arms. The woman floated a foot off the ground, arms crossed and face thoroughly unamused. She would not give him the time he needed; which meant he'd have to fight for time.

He lunged, claws burning and slashed at her; his first scraped harmlessly off her midsection, the next she dodged. A third never came, as she clocked him across the jaw. His mask shattered across the pavement, and Lung saw stars in his eyes as he reeled sideways across the alley. He saw doubles as the woman landed on the pavement and walked towards him.

"You'll regret this." growled Lung, running a hand across his bloodied chin. The sight of his own blood sent him raging.

Scales began to ripple across his flesh, muscle bulked and bones groaned under the strain of his power. He wrapped his hands around the womans throat, pushing her back into the nearby wall so hard it cracked. A snarl bubbled up from his chest through newly formed fangs as fire dribbled from his mouth.

"You've awoken a dragon. You've sealed your fate." he rumbled.

The woman grabbed both his hands, and slowly pried them off her. Lung's snarl turned into a noise of confusion as she easily pulled his arms off her. His arms shook against hers, all his current strength nothing to her. Her expression was one of anger, but not one of challenge.

"I'm not afraid of fairy tales." she said simply, and slammed her head against his eyes.

Stars flashed in Lung's eyes, and she released his hands. Lung grabbed at his bleeding forehead, the cut already beginning to seal shut, when the woman punched him once in the gut. He vomited fire and bile onto the alley floor, doubling over and cradling his stomach. The strength in his legs failed and he fell to his knees, now more confused than angry.

Who was this woman, where had she come from?

He looked up at her to see her pulling back her fist, "You're not hurting anyone, ever again." she declared.

And everything went black.

-S-

Armsmaster's already frayed mood was ruined when he stepped out of the elevator into the parking lot and saw that the media had managed to sneak its way inside. Worse, Kate Lockwell had managed to find her way inside again. She had no camera man with her this time, just a miniature camera apparatus strapped to her shoulder as she rushed towards him.

He had been looking forward to his patrol, a chance to test the new transmission on his bike and use his compression cage. The night was clear, the city sounded peaceful and the lot was relatively empty. Late night shifts were his personal favorites, and a chance to not deal with Dauntless was one he had been eager to take.

Now he had to deal with Brockton Bay's local 'intrepid reporter' who lacked enough sense to realize her employers were taking advantage of her. This was the last thing he needed; maybe he'd call Dragon after on patrol, share some of his new ideas for the nano-thorn with her. Until then though, he'd have to deal with her.

"Armsmaster! A moment of your time please." she asked, pointing her microphone at him.

"I'm busy, Miss Lockwell. I don't have time to answer questions." he replied bluntly.

She was a relatively short woman compared to him, and had to jog next to him to match his long stride."Nonsense, I think anyone can manage to answer at least one or two questions."

"I have no time to answer questions you might ask." Armsmaster amended.

"Huh, so you're saying the Protectorate is actively avoiding speaking to the people now? Is that right?" she asked, a smirk on her face.

Armsmaster was about ready to whirl on her and read her the riot act, again, when a voice interrupted the two of them. "Excuse me! Is this the Protectorate Headquarters?"

Kate's eyes went wide as dinner plates, and when Armsmaster looked up in the direction of the voice, he felt his jaw hang open. Floating about ten feet above the lot was the new cape that had made her appearance earlier today. In one hand she held a bound and gagged Oni-Lee with his eyes covered by a cloth. In the other, was an unconscious Lung, bound with strips of metal that looked like they'd been peeled off of a van.

Armsmaster felt himself go speechless for the first time in a very long time. Supergirl looked around when she got no answer and held up Lung, "Cause, I took down Lung but I'm not sure when he'll wake back up and I figured you guys might have a prison cell to hold him or something. I'd rather not have to punch his lights out every time he wakes up; even with a healing factor, that's not good for the brain."

Finally, Armsmaster found his voice, "Y-yes. Yes this is the Protectorate Headquarters, we can hold Lung

She looked relieved, "Oh good. He's a lot heavier than he looks, I would've gotten tired holding him all night."

Armsmaster watched as she landed and set Lung and Oni-Lee at his feet. She dusted her hands off on her skirt and offered one to him while wearing a friendly smile, "Hi! I'm Supergirl, I'm new in town." He slowly took it and was surprised at how gentle her grip was; most brutes had a stern handshake, intentional or not.

"I'm...Armsmaster. I'm head of the local ENE Protectorate. I… we had heard about your activities earlier today, but how did you…?"

It was inconceivable; Lung had fought off the entire Protectorate on multiple occasions. When not fighting he was a ghost, near impossible to locate unless he wanted to be found. Armsmaster had spent too many sleepless nights devising strategies to find and capture him, only to be foiled by unforseen complications. How had this newcomer managed to do in one night what he hadn't accomplished in years!? Despite himself, Armsmaster felt his jaw.

"I busted a… trade." She explained, a dark tone in her voice. "After, I talked with one of his crooks and found out he was in a meeting with a Yakuza representative. Once I found that out, it was easy enough to scan the Docks with my super hearing and x-ray vision until I found him driving around. I made sure to take him out as quick as possible; I didn't want things to escalate."

Noting the explanation of some of her powers, Armsmaster nodded and knelt next to Lung. On his left gauntlet, a tranquilizer dart popped out from his wrist and he injected it in Lung's arm.

"That will keep him out cold for the next hour or so," he explained. The man thought back to his conversation with Director Piggot and added, "If you have a minute, Supergirl, I'd like to talk to you about joining the Protectorate."

The young woman shook her head, the light flashing along her golden hair, and smiled, "No thank you Armsmaster. I'm flattered by the offer, but I prefer to work with the government, not for it. If you guys ever need help dealing with any scumbags though, I'm more than happy to help."

Armsmaster nodded and frowned. Anyone smart enough and strong enough to take Lung out was probably confident enough in their own abilities to see the Protectorate as superfluous. At least she wasn't dismissing them out of hand though; they could work with that.
With a twist of his wrist, a slip of paper ejected from his right gauntlet, and he handed it to Supergirl, "My number, if you change your mind."

She put it in her belt and nodded, "Thank you, I'll hold onto it just in case. Thanks for taking Lung off my hands though, I hope he doesn't give you any trouble."

The air swirled softly around her feet as she lifted off the ground and saluted. Right as she was about the fly off though, Kate suddenly found her voice and said, "W-wait! Hold on!"

Supergirl stopped and looked at her, a golden brow raised in question. Kate smoothed her skirt and stepped forward, "Kate Lockwell, Brockton Bay News Network. Do you have a moment to answer some questions, Supergirl?"

Armsmaster contacted a few officers inside the headquarters and made no attempt to warn Supergirl about the BBNN. He had more important issues to focus on, like locking up Oni-Lee and Lung. Besides, if she was capable of handling herself as well as she seemed to, she could handle a little negative press. That was what he told himself anyway, as Supergirl landed and began answering Kate's questions in earnest.


A/N: Man, this chapter took forever to write. I kept rewriting bits, changing the direction of the plot, etc. My initial plan had not involved taking Lung down yet, but I realized that I was trying to follow the original script too closely. So I'm letting things diverge further and further and hopefully for the better. Editor will look over the chapter over the next few days and hopefully the next chapter will go up sooner rather than later.

I hope this one was worth the wait. Please leave your thoughts and comments below along with any constructive criticism. Otherwise, I'll see you guys next time!