The girl was barely old enough to drive but she thought that was probably a good thing. If she’d been older, she might have been too used to driving on the other side of the road to pass the driving test last month. She’d have to walk home from her new school.
She didn’t feel safe walking here, not like she had back home. It was… it… the city just felt wrong. Everything was so big, and dirty, and everyone talked funny. And the Knights- Monarch’s name! They weren’t Knights here, they were Empowered. These people let anyone have powers! She’d seen them on TV, in movies… How could anyone feel safe in a place like this?
She’d seen one flying above her school!
Everything here… it made her feel small, weak.
The light turned red so the girl came to a stop. There was a black man standing on the corner. She’d never even seen a black man back home. Why did Dad have to take that job? Why wouldn’t Mom let the girl live with her instead of coming here?
Oh, he was… he was making some kind of sign with his hand. Was it-? She’d heard about gangs. Was he making a gang sign at her? He said something but she couldn’t hear it, too far away and her window was up.
The girl wanted to ignore the light, just take her foot off the brake and go. But there was traffic, she’d get hit if she did.
He looked like he was shouting now.
She made a noise, deep in her throat. It was stupid to be so frightened. She knew that. The man was walking closer again, coming around to her side of the car, but he didn’t look angry. She wasn’t used to black people but everyone knew that they were just the same as everyone else. Keridwyn took a deep breath and closed her eyes, tried to calm down, imagined herself as someone bigger, stronger, better.
Walt reached up and gave a tap on the poor girl’s window. He didn’t want to bother her -she looked like she was having a rough day- but her headlight was out and she needed to know. It wasn’t safe to drive around like that in the dark and it looked like it might rain later. He gave a startled yelp and fell back on his ass when her car exploded.
He looked up in, fear and wonder written on his face. Standing in the burning wreck that used to be a car was an enormous figure, red scaled and wreathed in flame.
“WHAT IN THE MONARCH’S NAME JUST HAPPENED?” it said.
Walt couldn’t stop himself from laughing. For all its great size and fearsome demeanor, the- the dragon still sounded like a little girl. Though of course, it was a very loud one.
The woman had a car, purchased with the signing bonus from her new job. Despite that, she’d chosen to walk home and to detour through one of the rougher areas on the way. She did this for a simple reason: her job was surprisingly boring.
Training had been everything she was expecting and more. Tough, challenging, even exciting at times. Most of all, there’d been others she could test herself against, people as strong as her. maybe they were strong in another way but that was still something she could respect.
There had been two that were different. One, a girl, had stood out right from the start. She’d been the type who’d stand out in any crowd. Not just because of her strength, that was actually a little weird, it was her personality that really set her apart. She’d inspired everyone around her, made them want to be better. The other… there’d been something wrong about him.
Kerry had been terrified of him, once she’d understood what he was. he’d hidden at first, playing down what he could do until the very end. That could have been an insult, like saying he didn’t respect the others enough to really try. When she’d seen what he was truly capable of, put it together with the way he moved, the way he talked, the way he… well, everything, that put it in a different light.
Kerry had caught a glimpse of the real Jason Grim and it terrified her. he didn’t care about anyone or anything, not even himself, not really. The man was a monster under the skin. Worse, Kerry knew he was a threat she’d be helpless against. He made her feel small, weak. She hated that.
Still, regardless of anything else, training hadn’t been boring. Her new post definitely was. As far as she could tell, she was the strongest Empowered in the city. her most common assignment, so far, had been transport. She’d carried other people, people deemed better suited, into fights and watched them take care of business without doing anything herself.
Kerry got that she was the newbie. She got that it was usually better to let someone with a power less prone to collateral damage take the lead. Even so, that still left her bored. That’s why she was walking through gang territory at three in the morning, carrying an oversized purse and wearing shorts and a tank top.
She’d almost given up when she heard the swish-click of a butterfly knife.
“Hey there Red, whatcha doin?” Three of them, two black and one, was he Japanese? Weird, you didn’t see many of them, much less wearing the bright green that meant membership in the Wasteland Boys. “You lookin for a good time?”
Kerry closed her eyes. She knew this was stupid. Her altered form was safe from guns and knives but her regular one wasn’t. She opened her eyes and looked down at the gangbangers from her new height. “YES, YES I AM.” She pulled back her lips -yes, she knew reptiles didn’t have lips but dragons did, dammit- and gave them what could generously be called a smile.
Hard to be sure right now, but Kerry thought the one on the left might have literally shat himself in fear. This might have been stupid, but it was totally worth it.