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Spring 2022 

 

Jean had heard plenty about agents of the US government; even met a few during her settling into this dimension. This one was female, which was a trifle unusual. Her hair cut short and black, her eyes hidden behind sunglasses, her body wrapped in a suit and tie - well that wasn't so unusual. Once she'd shown her US government ID to the fox woman, demonstrating her bona fides as a member of the organization called the "United States Secret Service" 'Ashley Tran' said "Do you mind if I come in?" 

 

Well she's definitely a bipedal fox. Ashley remembered her meeting with the Copycat of Ani-Earth back when she was in high school and decided she wasn't going to cast judgement on this dimensional refugee. What the hell; being here had to be like a little slice of madness all the time. Well it's about to get even crazier. 

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Standing in secondhand shorts and camisole Jean regarded the agent at her door with curiosity. She hadn’t arrived with luggage, but the people here at the tower had been kind enough to scrounge up some extra clothes to hold her over. She really needed to go get her own clothes now that she had received her stipend from the government along with a new ID. 

Her head tilted slightly as she eyed the badge and her tail slowly swayed behind her. She had seen a lot of badges back in her world and the differences were minor as far as she could tell. Since she had taken up residence a seemingly endless parade of agents and government reps has come and gone, asking questions that more often then not repeated themselves. But this was the first time one arrived alone.

One ear twitched as her inhuman eyes shifted from the badge to the woman. She didn’t bother to hide it as she looked the agent over like she was cataloging her appearance, this sometimes unsettled previous visitors. Short hair, sunglasses inside, minimal makeup, her build under the suit. All trademarks of a field agent she thought.

“I assume if you’ve made it this far into the facility, your credentials are either valid or an exceptional forgery. Either way, you’ve made an effort to find me so the least I can do is hear you out.”

She said matter-of-factly but gave Agent Tran a nod and a friendly smile, though this too some people found odd on her muzzle. She stepped aside and motioned her in. The room was sparse to say the least. Basic furnishings but no real decor. Jean had only been in the tower a short time and still hadn’t quite started to ‘settled in’. A loaner laptop and papers littering the small dinner table were the most obvious indication that someone was using the room.

“Can I offer you a drink? Coffee? Tea?Water?”

She asked then thought for a moment.

“There are some soft drinks in the cabinet. I don’t drink them myself, but they were already in the fridge so I moved them.”

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"Sweet tea would be lovely, if you have it," said Tran politely. "Otherwise I'm fine." Ashley was from the South, and had learned years ago to specify between actual tea and boiled leaf water. She walked around the room, peering out the window and what few decorations were in the room. 

 

"I know coming here must have been a rough transition," she said sympathetically. "I've visited dimensions where the people...well, didn't look like me." She made a little dismissive wave with her left hand. "I can't imagine what it would be like to live among strangers full-time." Real strangers, she mused as she considered what the transition must have really been like, more than any community on Earth. 

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“Sorry.”

Jean apologized.

“I’m afraid I don’t have sweet tea.”
 

On 5/6/2022 at 8:53 PM, Avenger Assembled said:

"I know coming here must have been a rough transition," she said sympathetically. "I've visited dimensions where the people...well, didn't look like me." She made a little dismissive wave with her left hand. "I can't imagine what it would be like to live among strangers full-time."


“It’s not the first time I’ve visited another world. As I told some of you’re colleagues, I passed through a number of worlds before landing here.”

She moved to the dining table. As she took a seat she motioned towards the chair catty corner to her.

“No need for formalities, unless you prefer to stand.”

Jean offered before picking up her previous topic.

“Even back home I ventured into other worlds several times. Once, during one excursion to a highly magical world, I found myself temporarily merged with my armor. Now that was rough.”

She gave Ashley a smile hoping her little anecdote would put the agent more at ease.

“To be honest the differences between my world and this one are simultaneously minor and major. Half the people I knew, never existed here, but my social security number matched a girl with my name who died several years ago.”

Jean stopped herself.

“I apologize, I’m being rude. You’re not here to listen to my problems and I should not have spoken like that.”

He manages a friendly smile again.

“What can I help you with?”

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Ashley smiled faintly in return. "I've had some experiences with other dimensions myself. I know what a culture shock it can be. There's actually another dimension out there where I'm told that I am the Raven, if you can believe that." She grinned, projecting the idea of just how ridiculous that was. She took a seat, then removed her dark glasses so she could look Predator in the eye. "But you've done well for yourself despite that. I know you haven't been here long, but you've had a chance to make a name in the super community. I understand you received an invitation to what people in the mask community are calling the Hades Gala?" 

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Jean was still brushing up on the heroes of this world. She wasn’t sure if this world’s Raven was anything like the one from her own. She decided to just nod at Ashley’s mention of a possible alternate version of herself. After all, there were alternates of her own she would rather not dwell on.

 

Her attention shifted to the pile of papers. Reaching out, she brushed several papers aside and slid a familiar envelope from the pile.

“As a matter of fact, I have.”

She said, tapping it with the tip of one slender finger.

“I have been contemplating it’s possible implications, as well as possible ramifications of either accepting or declining it.”

Jean tilted her head to regard Ashley again and raised an eyebrow.

“If a member of the Secret Service has come to me in regards to it, should I assume there is some concerns surrounding it?”

She asked inquisitively.

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"Hades has invaded Earth, tried to corrupt its champions, and at least once he tried teaming up with Baron Samedi to raise an army of the undead. He's what the US government calls a League-class threat. We know we don't have the power to fight him directly, so when he stages something, we sit back and direct the metahumans at him." Well that was leaving a few things out, but there was no reason to discuss the Titan missiles that were targeted at Freedom City and similar points of interest. Just in case. "And he's immortal, so this so-called 'reform' isn't going to last even if it's genuine." Ashley smiled thinly. "He's had fifty years to tell us who he is. As far as attending the gala, I'm fairly sure most of the metas attending are going to keep an eye out for whatever trap Hades is going to spring."

 

Ashley spread her hands and said, "Cards on the table. The United States government wants more than just the Freedom League's say-so that people are keeping an eye on Hades. They want to make sure that we have someone on the inside; and that honor falls to yours truly. But if I show up stag, that's going to look suspicious - and it's not really the kind of party even I can infiltrate. But if I show up with a date, a metahuman everyone recognizes, that gives me more freedom of action. So..." She hesitated only briefly before saying, "I'm asking you to volunteer to come with me to the Hades Gala. Uh, don't worry, this is just for work," she added, blushing faintly, "I...well, my girlfriend isn't going to be in town for the party....anyway, this is something that could have some lasting benefits for you. Working with the US government isn't exactly respectable among some metahumans, but it's something that can work to your advantage. Now, and in the future. You're going to be living here for a while, right?" 

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To the best Ashley could tell, Jean’s express was serious as the agent expounded on their ongoing discord with the mythical entity. She nodded as she listened intently, her ears perked forward. Her tail the only thing betraying her calm exterior as it swayed in a more agitated manner.

“I… see.”

She said slowly. Her attention seeming to shift to a spot somewhere in between them. Her mind was already beginning to contemplate the matter, but her attention snapped back immediately when Ashley continued.

“Understandable.”

Jean commented as Ashley hesitated briefly, curious how this would involve her. When Ashley fumbled through her invitation, Jean couldn’t help my give the agent a reassuring smile. She leaned back, one arm crossing the other she tapped side of her shirt muzzle thoughtfully. She didn’t say anything for a moment as she weighed the options before her. Her eyes searched Ashley’s in that moment, as if gauging the agent. When she finally spoke, her tone was even and matter-of-fact.

“Using me as a distraction while you assess the motives and actions of the event’s host unobstructed.”

She watched Ashley for a moment, then a smile spread across her muzzle and she gave a quick nod.

“A tactic I can approve of. I would be honored to assist you mission.”

She chuckled and added with a small grin.

”And if necessary, reassure your partner that it was strictly work related.” 

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"Excellent," said Ashley, her sunglasses in her hand as she smiled at the fox-woman. "I'm going to wear mostly black with a feline theme to match what used to be my costumed identity; so keep that in mind when you're assembling your own outfit. We don't want to show up wearing the same thing," she added. "Even if it's just us girls going out on the town. I think if anyone asks how we met, we should stick to the truth - I met you through my government work and invited you out to the Hades Gala so that we wouldn't have to go stag. That, uh, means going out to a couples event solo," she added, wondering if the term had a very different meaning in Jean's home dimension. "You won't have to pretend anything more than friendship, since several people who'll be there know I'm with someone." 

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Jean returned Ashley’s smile.

“Of course, just a work associate being friendly and attempting to make the new arrival feel welcomed.”

She chuckled, but didn’t stop her guest as she explained her use of the word ‘stag’.

“Fear not, I can keep a professional manner.”

Reaching back she picked up the envelope and withdrew the card inside.

“I suppose that means I should take the time to make myself presentable. I wouldn’t want to embarrass my kind escort. I’m afraid my armor is hardly considered ‘formal attire’.”

Jean chuckled again before she stood and offered her hand to Ashley.

“Again, I apologize for not having any iced tea. I’ll endeavor to rectify that before another visitor requests it.”

She smiled again and gave the woman a small nod.

“I’m sure you’re a busy agent. I look forward to working with you.”

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