southernisms: (Siobhan)
[personal profile] southernisms
Due to bad weather in New York, we were forced to land in Paragon City, instead. The largest city in America (apparently Paragon City and New York constantly fought for that title), we would be spending the night here at the airline’s expense, then flown down to New York the next day. Having felt that merely arriving in America was enough, I chose to cancel the rest of the flight, deciding that I’d settle here instead. Here was where I would make my initial start, and regardless of wherever I ended up, it would be this place -- in the city they nicknamed the Birthplace of Tomorrow -- that I would begin my own tomorrows.

For a short moment, I thought about the possibilities of what I could do for a living. I had enough of an education to qualify for a law degree, and with my pardon, I could feasibly get a job as an attorney here in the States, after I’d brushed up on American law. Or maybe I could open up my own martial arts studio and begin teaching a limited version of the System to students here; Paragon needed a lot of rebuilding and its residents needed to be as tough as anyone who ever lived in Belfast proper. Or maybe I could attend a college here and find a new way of life.

However, a bullet came buzzing past me, ending that short dream. I realise now that the shot had been a stray one, but tell that to someone who’s spent nearly all her life around the arts and reality of war. Dropping my bag, I leapt off the railing and into the middle of a fight between thugs dressed in gray and white, and members of the Paragon City Police, all caught in a battle that was badly outnumbered for the police. Acting on my instincts, I immediately attacked the hooligans – a group I would later find out was a local mob called the Skulls. Within minutes, save for one, they were all downed by my talents, much to the awe of the police and the crowd that had drawn around the battle.

As I slammed the last one to the floor, I knocked off his mask in the progress, and he got a good look at me as well. Lo and behold, it was my old 'friend', Jimmy McTaggart, one of the finest snipers we’d ever had in my IRA team. He, meanwhile, took one look at me and spat out more from shock than anger, "So the Black Witch has become a turncoat, eh? Somehow I knew you would."

I was insulted by his words: how many times had I saved his worthless hide, and now for him to insult me like that? I would have laid a punch across his face, had it not been for a voice behind me: "Black Witch, huh? Getting so hard to keep track of you supertypes around here."

I turned to face a police officer with a thick, barely understandable accent and who struck me not as much a wallflower as his fellow police. Handing me a pair of handcuffs to use on Jimmy, the officer added, "Well, it seems you two are old friends. Care to tell me something about him while we’re down at the station, Ms. Black Witch? I’ll need you to fill out some reports."

Hours later, the officer and I sat for some coffee at a café not too far from his precinct. As I filled out the report, I explained a few things: one, I was not one of those overdressed, flighty 'superheroes' – I’d heard about those skylarks and how they’d run around London 'righting the wrongs' dressed like they were going to a costume party. That sort of life was not for me. Secondly, I’d explained that I had just arrived on the plane from London, and that I was new to the area; I had no idea that Jimmy was tied to the Skulls. That came as a surprise to them, since they revealed to me that a great many former IRA members were moving to Paragon to joining groups like the Skulls or Hellions. Finally, I told them I’d be in town for a few days and if they needed me for further questions, I’d give them a contact number as soon as I checked in to my hotel. I was halfway out the door when the officer from earlier came in, carrying my luggage – I’d forgotten it at the airport – as well as offering to drive me to the hotel and asking if I wanted to stop for coffee first. It didn’t seem like he was chatting up to me, but rather a thanks for the rescue, so I accepted.

And a manner of surprise it was. His name turned out to be Paco DeCristobal, and like me, he had been a former 'combatant' who had moved to America in search of a better life. Also like me, had also been given a pardon by his government; in his case, he’d been a hard-core Marxist insurgent in Columbia, rotting in prison until the Ritki had come. He moved to Paragon because his sister had a job here as a maid. He’d joined the police force, since the Police required the services of just about anyone who hadn’t been arrested for a capital crime; Paco had never killed anyone, so he met the criteria. He asked me what I was going to be doing in town.

"Certainly not superheroing," I replied with a laugh. "I don’t mind helping out the local constabulary, but I’m not about to dress in neon long-johns and call myself Karate Girl…or Black Witch, for that matter. And unlike you, I have taken lives, so being an officer is out for me."

"Well," Paco answered, "Maybe you’ll want to check out being an adventurer, instead."

"What’s that?"

"Well, it’s the same official position as a superhero, only you don’t have to go by a code name. While it means you don’t have a costume to hide behind, you don’t have to worry about running around in tights, either. You get the same medical benefits and such, but you don’t get access to the special privacy screening registered superheroes do. But considering what you’ve told me about yourself anyway, you don’t want to hide. You want people to know who you are so that your political enemies can’t touch you."

He took a sip of his coffee before continuing. "I know the feeling. I joined the police because I couldn’t dress like a superhero, and I can’t be an adventurer because it will put my sister’s family at risk. But as for you, you’ve got no problems on that end. And if you want, I have a contact at Freedom Corps over in Atlas Plaza who can help you get started."

Something about Paco’s words echoed in me, making me think that this was the way to go, that I came to Paragon for a reason. Plus, considering Paco and I came from similar backgrounds, he wouldn’t steer me wrong, and it would be good to have a friend I could trust after a long time without one. I took the name down of his contact, and told him I would go register the next day at Atlas Plaza as an official adventurer, not as the Black Witch of Belfast, but as even bigger force to contend with.

So, here I am in Paragon City, finally on the side of the angels, and ready to fight the good fight once again. And this time, upon the memories of my parents, and with the advice of my 'uncle' back in Liverpool, and my friends and contacts here, I’ll end the IRA’s 'contribution' to pure thuggery and crime. And if I have to take down the Skulls, Hellions or anyone else as well, so be it...the world will be a better place without them anyway, God and all the saints from Mary on down as my witnesses.

February 2017

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