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Avenger Assembled

Departure

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During the events of New Arrival

 

"So...so what is he?" Judy demanded. "Some kind of demon walking around like a person?" She hadn't taken Ashley's news about what sort of powers her scanner had detected in Tyler well at all, and was now pacing the room with a nervous energy she'd hardly ever seen from the younger girl. 

"I don't know," said Ashley, shaking her head. This conversation, now back in their dorm room, had started badly and was going worse. "All I know is that he triggered the Damien alarms. Probably not a full demon, just someone infused with demonic power." 

 

"That's just..." Judy paced the room, clutching the cross around her neck for a moment, then looking to the bust of Jesus on her desk to give her strength. "Does that really make someone evil?" 

"I don't know," Ashley admitted unhappily, "I don't think they'd knowingly admit an evil student, but I'm under orders to keep you away from anything infernal or alien at Claremont." 

"Ah still don't understand it," she said, turning to Ashley as she stood by her neat little row of books. "People here know demons are real! They get inside people and do things! They've seen them do terrible things - we even learn about it in class! Why don't people go to church all the time? Why do they let 'em just walk around among them like they're nothing?" 

 

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! flashed in Ashley's head for a moment before she replied, "...because they fought them and they won. When you've seen Fleur de Joie tie a demon up and throw it in a flowerpot enough times, they're not nearly as frightening."  She spread her hands a little, trying to think of what to say. "It's not that they don't take faith seriously, it's that they've never needed it to fight demons. And when you add that to invaders from the Terminus, or monsters from under the sea, eventually it becomes background noise here in Freedom City. I don't necessarily like it, but it is what it is." 

 

"But they've been invaded a bunch of times, right? Every time somebody bad shows up from somewhere else, they're usually coming here." 

 

"Yeah, and I think fewer of those things would have happened if they were a little more careful about who they let in here," admitted Ashley. "But they have a pretty good track record about trusting people. Even demons." 

"Ah thought it was all made up," Judy admitted quietly. "Ah mean, Ah knew it was all for a good reason, to make sure people behaved how they should, but Ah mean..." She was silent for a moment. "Ah believe that Hell is real, and that sinners will have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death," she said. "But when Ah was growing up, my momma told me that God hated Halloween, and that demons had fooled grownups into thinking they were doing something nice, when they were really just teaching their kids to sin. And that's...that's crazy!" she exclaimed, spreading her hands wide. "But now that Ah know demons are real, Ah just don't know what to think anymore."  

 

Secret Service Agent Ashley George, who was definitely not Judith Claudia Cahill's older sister in real life, was silent about that for a long time, long enough that she was worried that the girl was going to slip away. She wanted to have a few words with the First Lady, and entertained herself with imagining what that would be like for several seconds. "You know," she finally said quietly, "I am not your mother, Jaycee." She usually didn't call the girl that even in private, but she knew it was the way Judy talked about herself in her head. "I can't actually tell you what to do. If you want to make friends with that boy, or talk to other people on campus, or do things your parents wouldn't approve of, I can't stop you. It's my job to keep you safe, not my job to make your decisions for you." 

 

"But you'd have to tell them, wouldn't you?" asked Judy as she looked over at her guardian. "If Ah was doing something they didn't like?" 


"Well, if you were getting drunk and crashing the Dawg, I might have to say something," said Ashley with a thin smile. "But if you want to talk to someone who has power from some other dimension, I'm not going to stop you. Personally I think superheroes are too forgiving," she admitted. "Everybody wants to be the good-hearted Centurion type, they forget what happens to normal people when they let their guard down. But I also think that if somebody made it to Claremont, especially if they're walking around safe with another student, that means something." 

 

"But what about your orders?" 

 

"I must have misread the scanner," she said with an easy shrug. "One bad read isn't a reason to shut someone out entirely. And if something does happen, well, we'll deal with that when it happens." Because if he does try and kill you, I will give up my life to make sure that doesn't happen, so that'll be the end of that. "Just don't try and date him, okay?" 

 

Judy burst out laughing at that. "Ah...don't think that'll happen, Ashley. Ah'll be lucky if he wants to talk to me. But Ah can at least apologize. Apologizing is good even if the other person doesn't forgive you." 

 

 

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