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Status Report

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January 2019 

A room in the basement of 950 H St NW #7800, Washington, DC


"No, the Dangers weren't really a surprise. They're socially engaged, experienced beyond their years, they like to talk about themselves-" Agent Ashley George shrugged slightly, speaking without malice as she described her impression of the Claremont class of 2020. "Whatever their powers and personal stories, they're typical teenage examples of members of the Danger Family." She was keeping calm because everyone else was calm, even though she was giving her usual report to a man who wasn't her typical supervisor in a room that wasn't usually where she gave her reports. Security checked out though. And he's not AEGIS. His ID hadn't looked AEGIS, anyway. 


"And the construct?" Ashley blinked and focused her attention on Agent Johnson, who with his shaved head, slightly ruddy complexion, and linebacker's build, could have been one of fifty guys in the building. He had fifty pounds and eight inches on her, but she'd been trained how to deal with guys like that. Johnson's voice was mild as he studied her across her handwritten report, analog record-keeping being a safer way of managing Project Juliett Charlie in an era of cyberkinetics and superhackers. 


"Mr. Lanchester is far less frightening than he appears," said Ashley, keeping her tone mild. She didn't sound much like Watchdog now. "His public backstory checks out as far as I've been able to determine, and he's never confessed any dark secrets to me or to Juliett Charlie. He's a kind young man whose main interests are Dungeons and Dragons and other fantasy roleplaying games. I think he can safely be downgraded to Foxtrot status." Johnson locked eyes with her, peering through round-rimmed glasses that looked old-fashioned after a half-year among sixteen-year-olds. 


"Agent George, would you say you've come to...bond with your fellow students?" 

"Respectfully, sir, they are Juliett Charlie's fellow students, not mine." She did let a little bit of heat creep into her voice there. It was hard not to. "I would say I'm continuing to do my best to evaluate them as potential threats to Juliett Charlie specifically and to national security in general. Many of them are uncomfortable with the Watchdog persona - but then, that was the idea." She smiled tightly. "Juliett Charlie is bonding with them within acceptable levels." 


"Mm. Speaking of national security...tell me about the White Lion." 


"I have met the White Lion during my time among the Freedom City meta community," said Agent George, her voice cool and dry as the winds outside the Cahill family's home in western Oklahoma. "I don't think she's a threat to national security."


"Nonetheless, the White Lion is a powerful, experienced metahuman and heir to the throne of one of America's most powerful rivals. If you have information about her personality or her whereabouts in Freedom City, don't you think it's your responsibility to share that information with this agency?" 


"I think that would be a violation of the agreement that makes our relationship with Juliett Charlie's school possible, Agent Johnson," said Ashley, her hands flat on the table before her. "And a breach with the metahuman community would be disastrous given Juliett's current-" She fell silent as Johnson rose to his feet and began moving around the room, first checking the door locks, then turning off the room's cassette audio recorder. By the time he'd turned back to her, Ashley was on her feet too. 


"Are you aware for the penalty for falsifying federal documents, Agent George?" Johnson inquired, looking daggers at his erstwhile colleague. He was big, and knew how to use his size, glowering at her from a distance without actually getting in her face. 


Being intimately aware of the consequences of that crime, Ashley stared at the other agent before saying, "If you have an accusation to make, Agent Johnson, I decline to answer until I consult with an agency attorney. And I believe you know the consequences of that kind of exposure, sir.


"When you applied to join the Meta Program you claimed that you had never used your powers except in self-defense - that you had never been active as a vigilante. Isn't that right, Agent George?" 


"As I am not under arrest, I decline to answer, Agent Johnson," George fired back, her hands curled lightly at her sides. "I don't know your story, Agent, but I do know that you are aware of the consequences for national security if Juliett Charlie's security is compromised." And with that, she turned and walked out of the office. As this was technically her day off, there was nothing to stop her from hailing a cab and returning to her apartment. (Though she almost expected to be arrested as she walked out the front door.) 


She waited until she was home before she vomited into her living room wastebasket. 


How long can you keep this up? And a few minutes later the phone rang and it was her mother about her younger sister's pregnancy, and Ashley put on a smile as she talked on the phone so her mom wouldn't worry, and when it was done she slumped back into the overstuffed armchair that was the biggest piece of furniture in her one-bedroom apartment in Silver Springs. 


Her investigation the next day revealed that Supervisory Agent Fred Johnson had been officially at his desk in Baltimore all through the time and date of their meeting. She had never been more relieved to be back in Freedom City. 

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