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Coming to America (IC)

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Cassandra woke up to the light streaming in past the plastic sheeting. It didn't make for a very good window, and was an even worse door, but it was free. She changed into her spare tanktop and pants, pushed the sheeting aside, and stepped out of her makeshift dwelling. She took a moment to admire her new home. It was amazing what you could do with corrugated steel when you can bend it with your bare hands. The place wasn't much to look at but it was free. Well, almost free.

She stretched as she took a walk around the scrapyard grounds. Metal cots made for stiff muscles and none of the available padding was something that she would be willing to sleep on. After going around the perimeter, she noted that the fence was intact and there weren't any big pieces of scrap missing that she could see. She unlocked the gate and pushed it open as a red pickup drove in. She smiled as a short man with coke bottle glasses hopped out of the driver's seat.

"Good morning, Marco! Everything fine. I go to work!" Cassandra exclaimed cheerfully.

The man pushed up his glasses and grunted something that sounded vaguely affirmative. Cassandra walked along the waterfront towards the shipping yard. Flying was faster, but this was her favorite time of day and she was in no hurry. She enjoyed the sights and sometimes even the smells of the docks waking up. Cassandra had lived next to the water for as long as she could remember and found that she always missed it whenever she went too far away.

She walked up to the small office space cut out of a warehouse with a red and green sign. She reached into the clear plastic organizer and found a small stack of papers with drawings and numbers on it. Reading English was still beyond her but she could match the numbers on the sheet to shipping containers, and the drawings showed her where to move them. She waved to the group of warehouse workers who were lighting up their first cigarette before work and approached the wall of stacked shipping containers nearby. She matched the symbols on the paper to the white stenciled ones on the paper, then referenced it to the drawings.

Once she memorized the route, she tucked the papers away and focused on strengthening her muscles. Cassandra relished in the feeling of strength, then slowly rose above the ground. The familiar red-orange flare sprang up around her as she freed herself from gravity's hold. Cassandra grabbed the container and slowly guided it to its allocated space. She checked her papers and moved on to the next container on the list.

Several hours later she dropped the papers back at the office and collected a small amount of cash. Cassandra pocketed the bills and walked inland off the docks. She navigated the nearby alleys until she found a dimly lit building with neon signs in the windows. She walked past the heavily reinforced door and sat down at the bar.

"Hello, Cassie. Hungry?" an elder woman asked with a kind smile.

"Always, Josie."Cassandra replied.

"It's been slow day, shouldn't be too long." Josie said as she patted Cassandra's hands, then trundled off to the kitchen.

Cassandra turned on her stool to face the bar while she waited. Josie's was quiet at the moment, but shift change was still a few hours away. The place was always busy, but much quieter of late. Josie attributed that to Cassandra putting a 250 pound stevedore who couldn't keep his hands to himself through her door. While Cassandra fretted over how to pay for the damage, Josie decided to pay her in food and booze to spend time at her place. The number of fights immediately plummeted and Josie considered that worth the price of a new door.

Cassandra settled in to what she hoped would be a quiet night.

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Whilst it was good to be above the cloud sometime you needed to keep you feet on the ground, lest you forgot why you were a hero in the first place. In the past people might have become reporter to get the drop on things going down now in an age of social media it was easy to get news of crimes and disasters in minutes. Instead Dancia use it to keep her connected with people those stories of hope and fears kept her fighting the good fight.


She been down on the docks for a couple of days now tracking down a mysterious woman whose feats of low level heroics had caused a buzz down in section of town. Finally she’d managed to track down this place thanks to a large man with wandering eyes, and possibly hands, that she’d like to have been able to throw into the sun, or at least the nearest body of water to clean the city just a little bit.


She’d managed to negotiate her way inside and made her way to the best source of information, the barkeeper.


“Hello there I’m Dancia Devon’s I’m a reporter with the Ledger.” she flashed her press pass “I’m trying to find out about a rumored super type operating in these parts, i was hoping to get an interview with them.”

In areas like this people tended to keep things to themselves, but she hoped it might evoke a reaction in someone here. With her super senses she payed attention to everything going on in the bar.

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"And just what would you be wanting with that person?" Josie asked turning a critical eye on the newcomer in her bar. "Not everyone wants to be on the news."


"Is OK, Josie." Cassandra interrupted.


Josie bit off whatever she was about to say and took a single step back, her frown and sidelong looks indicating she intended to eavesdrop on the conversation.


"Am thinking you are looking for me," she said giving the woman an appraising look.


Cassandra leaned back on her stool, allowing Dancia to see her worn tanktop, military surplus BDU's, and heavily used second-hand boots. This bar was probably the only place her wardrobe allowed her to blend in to a crowd.



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Dancia picked out the most expensive drink she could see and counted out a couple of notes, unfortunately she probably wouldn’t be able to claim this as expenses.


“Get yourself something as well.” she wasn’t gauche enough to offer a bribe “Do you want anything?”


She slipped onto the stool next to Cassandra and offered a hand to the other woman with a friendly smile.

“I don’t know if you caught my name earlier but I’m Dancia. Don’t worry I have no agenda other than to find out a little about you. You’ve made quite an impact to the people of this area.”

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She pointed Josie to a bottle on the top shelf. Dancia immediately recognized it as a cheap but brand name whiskey.


"Thank you. I do not seem to feel the effects of such drinks, but flavors are nice."


Cassandra grasped Dancia's hand with a carefully measured grip.


"Pleased to meet." She shrugs off Dancia's comments. 


"I break a few things and get lucky. Now I have jobs."


Cassandra nodded to Josie as she brought two whiskeys in relatively clean glasses. She took an appreciative sip, "Much better than my old home."




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“Never underestimate how important the little things are to helping people, it’s not all flying around battling monster.” Dancia gave the Cassandra a serious look as she spoke.


She fished her phone out of her bag, covered in a case showing a rather grumpy looking orange cat.


“Do you mind if I record our conversation, I promise that you’ll have full refusal on anything I publish. It’ll most probably be for our website rather than the paper anyway, I don’t often get my articles published in print. Still working my way up the rankings.”

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Seeing Cassandra looking at her phone Dancia flipped to show the image on the case.


“Oh that’s my cat, Centurion, he was a little grumpy that day. A little unprofessional I know but I wasn’t quite expecting to catch up with you so soon. Just my lucky day I guess.”


Living in Freedom City did sometime blind you to just how weird things could get sometime, plus it was the kind of thing Dancia dealt with almost everyday so for her Giant monsters were just another Wednesday.

“We haven’t had a Kaiju attack since I’ve moved to Freedom City, but we’ve had a few invasion over the last few years. Couple of months ago we had a bunch of Deep Ones turn up, though it’s not like an everyday occurrence.”

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"Cats always grumpy. Er, but I'm sure yours is very nice." Cassandra had the good grace to look embarrassed as she realized she just insulted her new friend's pet. She changed the subject quickly.


"I do not know these words. But I never had chance to punch monster before... You have questions for me?"

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“Well he’s a grumpy bundle of claws,teeth and fur, and that's on a good day! But he’s can also be a lovable bundle of fur, it’s good to look after something sometimes.”


The general light pater was always a good sign, it put the person at ease and helped to get good, and truthful answers. A less scrupulous interviewer would use that to gain scandalous information, but Dancia was more interested in the real truth of the thing.

“Okay let’s start with one that you’ll probably want to think about, what do you want to know as? We can avoid using you real at all, though only if that’s what you want. I hear that a lot of heroes like having a little somethings that there’s and there’s only.

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Cassandra gave Dancia a grateful look for letting the comment pass. Her expression became much more serious with the next question.


She nodded, "Names important. When I first wake up, they call me 31." She tugs the strap of her tanktop down slightly so that Dancia can clearly see the tattoo under her collarbone. "31A" in plain, block script.


"Was long time before I knew they were using this mark to tell me who I was. Then I pick my own name: Cassandra Alkaev. Is good name. I don't need another."

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What were the chances of her meeting a new hero who’s only identity was an identifying number? She remember so well waking up with no real memory of who she was except for this tantalising number that she eventually adopted as her superhero identity. A fine well to remember the men and women she eventually remember fighting alongside.

“I agree that names are very important.” Dancia gave a nod of understanding “I’ve heard that some heroes like to keep a name to themselves, a little bit that is always themselves. To share among family and friends.” she leant in close to  emphasise her point “It’s up to you of cause but I’d suggest you keep Cassandra to yourself.”

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Cassandra frowns as she mulls over what Dancia said. 


"I do not understand. But I not understand many things here. I think you are honest person. If you think that is best, I think on it."


Cassandra drains the rest of her whiskey and signals to Josie for another. From her nearby eavesdropping distance, the mother hen quickly refills it and looks inquisitively at Dancia with the bottle poised to pour.


"But I not have family. When I wake up, is just me. No one knows me. No records." 


She raises her glass to Josie, "I have make friends here. So not all bad."

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Dancia had a similiar experience from Cassandra in that when she came to Freedom City she had no one, though until recently she didn’t know why or what exactly she’d lost. It was a chance to share her experience in the matter with someone else, though she wasn’t quite ready to reveal her other identity.


“There’s an idea over here that family doesn’t have to be the people you related to but the people you build around you. It looks like you’ve already built some friendships here, just be careful as there are people who will try to use you and your abilities for harm.”


She paused and adjusted her glasses to refocus her attention.

“Sorry this is meant to be an interview, not a lecture,let’s get one with this shall we?”

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Cassandra shakes her head, "Is strange. People very different here. Sometime so different..."


She looks lost for a moment, peering into her drink.


"But this good different. Is better way to be, I think." Her nostrils flare briefly at Dancia's next statement, "No one uses me. Never."


She smiles, "No apologies. Is not just in-ter-view. Is talking with friends and drinks. Friends have no secrets. Ask your questions."

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Dancia gave a genuine friendly smile to Cassandra, it was nice that she considered her a friend already.


“That’s very sweet of you, but just be careful there are unfortunately some people out there who will try and use you for there own ends. Just be sure who you can trust before you give that trust away.”


She paused and checked how long they’d been talking before settling down the business in hand.


“So let’s start with the basic’s. Can you tell me a little about you past? Where you come from, any family stuff like that.”

She suspected that it might be as simple a question for Cassandra as it would for most people.

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Cassandra nods, then focuses on Dancia's questions. She stares straight ahead as she answers.


"Can tell you what I know. I come from Vladivostok. My life start by the docks there three year ago. Was confused. Scared. I only understand Russian, no English. No clothes. Have to fight many people who try hurt me. Was like... animal."


She takes a deep breath, then a swallow of her whiskey and continues.


"Not everyone bad. I find people that need help. I help them and they teach me things about the world. But I was selfish. Not really helping them. Was saving myself. Vladivostok is hard place. I take work when I find it there. Is not always good work. Sometimes fight for money. Sometimes hurt people just to collect monies. So I leave. "


She pauses again, then looks directly at Dancia, "Things very different here. They tell me am ILL-EAGLE immigrant. But do not send me to prison. Just tell me not make trouble. Am criminal now, yes? But still have better life here than in Russia. Have jobs to be proud of. Have people to care of. Responsibilities. But you did not ask about that. You ask about family. If I had family before, I do not know them. Do not remember anyone. I have only what I make now."

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Dancia couldn’t help but see the parallels between her own experience that the two of them shared, not that she could really say anything whilst playing the mild mannered reporter. She might swing by and visit her as Triakosia the next time she was flying over the area.


“A lot of people come to Freedom City looking for a new start, especially superheroes.” she paused the recording for a second and looked at Cassandra

“I know some people with contact with the Freedom League...” however tempting it was she hadn’t set herself up as Triakosia’s official reporter “... They would help set up with an identity and a home, maybe help you discover the scope of you powers and maybe something of you origins. Though I’m not going to run straight to INS and rat you out at the first chance I get, you’ll have you privacy if that’s what you desire. ”

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  • 3 weeks later...

Cassandra chuckles, "Where is private?" 


She gestures around the bar, "Anyone can find me. Am done hiding. Have jobs, have place to sleep. Someone want to take that away, they can find me. Someone wants to hurt these people who help me, they can try. They maybe not like what they find."


She shakes her heard, then looks back to Dancia.


"Am always wanting to listen to help. I think you are person who likes to help people. If you say these people can help, I listen."

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  • 3 weeks later...


Dancia had to be honest one of the best things she could do was help new heroes get settled into the crazy world they ended up living in. She’d been helped immensely when she’d first arrived and she wasn’t to make sure she gave back as much as possible, it was something she should do more really.


“One advantage of Freedom City being a city of heroes is that it’s got one of the best support systems for said heroes. No one should really fall between the crack in a city like this, unless they want of cause.”

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Cassandra considers her new friend for another moment. 


"Can tell you think is important. You tell me where to go, I go. Now my turn for question. What make you care? People different here. Can tell most are good when you give them a chance. But you care about a stranger. Just meet me and can tell you want to help. Even good people not care like that. So what make you care?"

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  • 2 weeks later...


Maybe all the parallels had made her to invested and sloppy in her questions, but she really should have spotted that she was maybe pushing a bit to much. One of the main rules of a good interview was that you kept an eye on the other person and only push as far as felt you could without unnerving that person. WIncing a little as well as chastising herself for such a mistake, something even more important when being a superhero.


“Well not that you can tell but I’m not from Freedom City, like you I come from somewhere far away.” it somehow sounded better that I’m from another dimension.


“When I first got here I got a lot of help from some very good people, who helped me get settled in this city. So I thought I’d play it on as they say and help someone else who needed it.”


It wasn’t a lie per se, but it was definitely a very selective version of the truth.

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