“Fucking GJ…” Shego hissed in anger.
“Hey, isn’t that—no, it can’t be,” said Drakken.
“Who?” Shego asked; she would actually prefer Drakken just focus on driving rather than seeing things. And then she spotted the car. “Mego?” she said when she caught sight of the driver.
“Hey, does he work for GJ now?” the scientist asked.
Shego looked down and didn’t answer. She hated to admit it, but Drakken was right; her brother worked for GJ. She’d prefer not to be reminded of that, though.
She had never trusted GJ from the first moment they marched into the Lost Grounds, making all sorts of promises that too many stupid people in her opinion gave into. Her brother was at the top of the list when it came to stupid people believing in that GJ had to say when they came into Middleton. They were looking for Alter-users and rounding them up by the truck full with talk of steady work, arranged housing, and even respect. Such things sounded great to the ears of people who didn’t ask for their powers or the hate and fear that came long with those powers. And then, of course, there was the vow of learning how to use those Alter powers as best they could. Fucking idiots jumped at that without even asking what the fuck GJ was and, yes, her dumbass brother was at the front of the line.
Mego tried to convince her to go with him when he signed up for GJ, hoping to learn how to use his Alter power. She had turned her back to him and began walking into the vast unknown that was Middleton. As she departed, she informed her moronic brother that she mastered her meteor powers on her own, so she would do the same with her Alter powers. She didn’t need anybody’s fucking help. Those were her last words to her brother. She saw him every now and then, but they never spoke and he wisely never chased after her.
“Soo…What? What do we do now?” asked Drakken. He was not sure what she might want to do because they saw her brother.
Shego looked up. “…Just…just take me home, Drak. Joss is probably worrying the fuck out of her head about me by now, anyways…”
Drakken halted his car by a big tree not too far from a small home. Shego hopped out and started toward the house. She noticed that Drakken was following her, which she expected. They entered the tiny house; it only had three rooms and the biggest one was only fourteen feet by fourteen feet. She silently closed the door and then grabbed Drakken before he could do anything stupid.
“Be really quiet,” she whispered harshly.
“I’m always quiet,” he insisted in a semi-loud tone.
“Shego? Mister Drakken?” called a small voice.
“Damn it, Drakken! I told you to be quiet!” Shego hissed.
“I was quiet!” he defended himself.
Shego turned her emerald gaze to the corner of the main room of the house. She watched as her roommate sat up from the thin straw mattress that was the best bed she’d ever slept on. She frowned. A scolding was coming her way, unless she acted fast. “Joss, go back to sleep.”
“Shego, where have you been?” Joss rubbed her eyes as she climbed to her feet and trotted over to the two adults.
“I was just out.”
The raven-haired female did not respond. She didn’t like lying to Joss. Hell, Joss was pretty the only person she was ever honest with, for the most part. Joss worried about her when she went out fighting, so she tended to sneak away to go battle. She did not want to stress the little girl out; the kid was only twelve. She didn’t need that.
“It could’ve been worse,” Drakken commented.
“How so?” demanded Joss, her ears perked by Drakken’s offhand remark.
“Why can’t you just keep your big mouth shut?” Shego snapped.
“What? I didn’t say anything!”
Shego sighed. The dolt never understood she was trying to save Joss from knowing what she did in her spare time. Such a fucking idiot…
“What happened?” Joss demanded once again.
Joss looked at Drakken. “Mister Drakken, what happened?”
Shego glared at him. Joss, in turn, looked at the tall man in the way a 12-year old always makes one feel horrifyingly guilty. Drakken bit his lip. He was always in the middle of things! “Oh, Hey! Look at the time…” He glanced at his naked wrist, slowly attempting to inch out the door.
“Yeah, you’d better get out!” yelled Shego
“No, Mister Drakken! Tell me what happened!” Joss whined.
“Wha…Wha…But…” Drakken whimpered. Why did he deal with these two scary females? Why did he always make the mistake of going in the house after he and Shego went out? He was supposed to be a genius, yet he continuously made the same mistakes over and over again.
“Tell me!” Joss commanded.
“Drakken, you’d better not…” Shego growled.
“I already know y’all been out there fightin’. What have I told you ‘bout that, Shego? You shouldn’t be fightin’. There’s plenty to do around here! Good, honest work!” Joss huffed.
“This is good honest work.”
“No it ain’t! You actin’ like a brute, Shego! That ain’t never good!” the girl stated in a firm tone.
“Keeps food in your mouth, don’t it?” Shego countered. “Speaking of food , you make dinner, kid?”
“In the kitchen. But, don’t you go changin’ the subject! You know you ain’t doin’ good work, and it don’t matter what it does. It ain’t right!”
“A lot of things ain’t right, kid,” the pale woman pointed out, making fun of her little roommate with the use of the word “ain’t.”
“You’re better than this!” Joss argued.
“Obviously, I’m not. You know how I am, kid. Don’t try to put me on a high pedestal or anything. I fight. That’s it,” Shego declared in somewhat angry pride.
The emerald-eyed female was a fighter, a brawler for the most part. Yeah, she knew all sorts of martial arts, but for a long while, she had just been into power hits because of her Alter powers. She went into battles looking to overpower her opponents rather than finesse her way around them or being defensive. She wished Joss would stop making such a fuss about things.
“Um…can I have something to eat? All that talk of GJ on the way over made me hungry.” Drakken commented.
“GJ?” Joss hollered loud enough for their neighbors to hear, and their neighbors lived about a half a mile away.
“Drakken!” Shego snarled, igniting the green plasma energy in her hands, a talent that she’d had long before she became an Alter-user.
“What did I do?” the scientist cowered and covered his head with his hands. Oh, why did he hang out with two frightening females? Why?
“I’m gonna kill you!” Shego declared, but just as she was about to plasma-blast him all the way to Go City, Joss grabbed her.
“Don’t try to change the subject!” The younger female kept a firm grip on Shego’s arm, preventing her from slaying the scientist in their company.
“Stop saving him!”
“What happened with GJ? Did you almost get arrested?” Joss inquired.
“Nothing happened,” Shego insisted.
“Something happened. You almost got arrested because of all that fighting you do? Is it that you want? To get locked up? You know the penalties for Alters that break the law!” said the twelve-year-old, concern flowing in her voice.
“Nothing happened, Joss.”
“Shego, if you get arrested…We’d both be alone. I wouldn’t know what happened to you…” Joss muttered sorrowfully, looking down.
“Joss…” Shego sighed, powering down her hands.
Drakken sighed. Joss was like his undeclared angel, because every time he managed to anger Shego to the point where he knew violence was coming his way, Joss stepped in and halted the raven-haired woman from doing him any damage.
Shego kneeled down at Joss. The girl was close to tears. The kid worried way too much in Shego’s opinion. She knew why Joss was so touchy, but the girl needed to have more faith in her. “Joss, you know I’m never going to leave you, kid,” the older woman stated, pulling her into a short hug to be reassuring.
The preteen sniffled. “You could get arrested if you keep on fighting. You should just do honest work and GJ wouldn’t be able to bother you!”
“Kid, I’m not going to get arrested. No one can beat me, you know that.” Shego made a fist to emphasize her strength.
“There’s only one of you. And GJ’s a whole organization.” the child pointed out.
“C’mon, Joss… You worry too much, kid. Now, where’s this food you were going on about?” the pale woman inquired.
“I told you! It’s in the kitchen.”
“All right. I’m eating. You go back to sleep. I’m sure you put in a good day of honest work.” Shego tried to smile, but only got halfway.
“Okay. Mister Drakken, you can have some food too,” Joss informed him. She always fed Drakken because she knew he lived alone, and she was willing to bet he could not cook to save his life.
Shego and Drakken stepped away into the other room while Joss returned to the corner of the main room. There was a closet at the back of the room and she pulled out a pillow along with a blanket. She placed both on the floor and then unfolded the other thin mattress they kept in the closet. She prepared the bed next to hers and then lay down in her own bed.
The two adults roamed the kitchen, eating dinner, which wasn’t much. It was a light stew, but it was a good meal as far as anyone in the Lost Grounds would be concerned. In a place where everything from meat to vegetables to spices were rare, they were thankful for almost anything to eat. The pair had simple, thin sandwiches with the stew to help fill them up, all made by Joss. They drank water because juice, like everything else, was hard to come across.
The little house had running water thanks to the blue genius; it seemed the loudmouth was good for something other than driving past the places where Shego was supposed to fight someone. He was also the one who put in the wiring around the place, which explained why the ladies tended to get shocked every now and then when they went to flip a switch. Shego supposed that it was all right as long as Joss was not electrocuted at some point; Shego herself could take a massive shock to her system and it would only piss her off.
“You know, Joss makes the best stew,” Drakken commented.
The moss-hued Alter nodded in agreement; little Joss did make some of the best stew. The kid cooked well with limited resources. Hell, the preteen did a lot of things well with limited resources.
“So, Shego, what are we going to do about money?” the cerulean inventor asked with his mouth full of stew and sandwich.
“Hope like hell a new job comes up before we starve to death,” she replied and she was being quite serious.
“Well, we could always work in the fields like Joss,” he suggested.
“What do you know about working in a field?” she inquired.
Drakken was silent. Yeah, he knew about as much as working in a field as Shego did – roughly, nothing. They were not farmers or farm hands, and they did not know a plow from a hoe. Neither knew where to begin with field work. She could only wonder how Joss made it through all that work, but sometimes she considered it might have something to do with the time before she knew Joss.
They finished their meal and Drakken left; well, actually, Shego pretty much threw him out since he never knew when to leave. She listened to his unique engine as he pulled off and made his way back to his hovel. She went to take a shower in the last room of the house.
Their bathroom was pretty much a box. They had a toilet along with a small sink, and no bathtub. The only place to bathe was a shower, and the hot water only lasted ten minutes. It was a bother for Shego on days like today where she could use a long, hot shower.
She shed her clothes and started the water to wash away the grime of the day. She sighed as the warm water rained down on her pale skin. She couldn’t believe she’d nearly been arrested. Nothing like that had ever happened. She always took care of business and was gone before GJ showed up. Why had they shown up so quickly?
Shego was not sure how GJ got to the battlegrounds as quickly as they did, but she chalked up to the fact that she heard they were getting better technology every day. She guessed that the advanced technology might have had something to do how quickly they tracked. If that was the case, she was going to have to start doing things with even more haste than she already did.
She frowned. She wished GJ would learn to mind their own business. They were not welcomed in the Lost Grounds and they knew that, so they needed to leave Middleton alone. No one asked for their help. No one needed their help. No one wanted their help. Yet, they were always coming in and acting better than everyone else while being all self-righteous.
It irked her tremendously. GJ felt like they had the right to police native Alters. An Upperton based law enforcement agency had no right to police the people of Middleton or subject the people to their laws, but, obviously, GJ had other ideas. They pushed into the Lost Grounds, arresting Alters for…well, just about anything as far as Shego could tell. She’d heard Alters were usually arrested for “causing a disturbance,” which was anything from fighting to shouting in the street. Then there was the “abuse of power” charge, which was another vague one; hell, if she used her Alter to pick her nose, she could probably be arrested under it. As far as she was concerned, all the so-called Alter laws were excuses to pick up Alter-users so the normal people in Upperton could feel safe and dandy. No fucking way it made the non-Alter people of Middleton feel safe.
The company that GJ was born from, WEE, bastards went around collecting “native criminals” like GJ collected native Alters. She’d heard plenty of tales of GJ agents who, under orders from WEE, took over villages in the Lost Grounds, turning the normal natives into their slaves while the Alters were shipped off to jail. Even worse, were the rumors that the Alters were shipped off to Go City, the headquarters of WEE.
She could not figure out why WEE would be collecting Alter-users, so she didn’t believe the rumor. She’d also never witnessed natives being used as slaves, but she wouldn’t put it past those bastards from the mainland. Fuck, she wouldn’t put any evil past bastards who tried to impose their will in the Lost Grounds while considering the natives to be little more than savages. People who didn’t respect the Lost Grounds had no right to be in the Lost Grounds.
Her thoughts were halted as she felt the water cooling down, which let her know it was about time to wash up and get out. She finished her business in the shower before she was hit by ice water and she tossed on a long tee-shirt as pajamas. She went back out into the main room and slid into her bed, which Joss had prepared for her. She smiled. Joss always readied her bed for her.
Shego glanced at the little kid that she shared a house with. Joss was knocked out. The pale woman wondered why it seemed that Joss was a heavy-sleeper when she was in the house, but whenever she was attempting to sneak in, the sound of a feather hitting the floor seemed to wake the auburn-haired girl. She supposed when she was not around Joss was in a guarded sleep, but felt that it was all right to drift into a deeper sleep once Shego was around. It was…well, it was a form of a compliment, if one really thought about it.
The green-skinned woman hardly ever went into a deep sleep. Even before she was living in a lawless town, she was a light sleeper. It was just how she was. She knew that night she was not going to get much sleep, what happened earlier was bothering her too much for her to sleep. She couldn’t believe that little redheaded GJ bitch had defeated her Fire-Shell Bullets. Her moves usually went through anything, yet that bitch stopped her moves with a thin shield from four pink ping-pong balls. Inconceivable. She’d been defeated by an Alter power for a 4-year-old. She could still see that smug bitch staring at her as if she was the scum of the Earth. Damn uppity GJ agents… How could some prim kid get the better of her so easily? It was like that redheaded tramp wasn’t even trying to fight. She barely lifted a finger. It was so surreal.
Shego quietly growled. She’d never been defeated in an Alter fight; she hadn’t been defeated in a fight period in over a decade. She bet that she could take the little girl out if she fought her hand-to-hand, but that didn’t really matter. Her Alter should’ve overcome that girl’s, just like it overcame every other Alter. Her power was unbeatable. Yet, four goddamn ping-pong balls had soundly halted them. If I see her again, I will win… Shego silently vowed. There was no way that she was going to lose to anyone twice.
The emerald-eyed woman continued to think about her battle with Kim through out the night. She examined the whole thing in her mind, trying to see if she’d missed a hole in the girl’s tight defense. That thin aegis seemed to be perfect, as she remembered it. No force or fire from her had done anything, except for her last bullet which had caused the shield to spark. She wasn’t even sure if that meant anything; all she knew was that the powers clashing had blown her backwards in the end, and hadn’t done shit to the redhead.
She wondered if the sparks meant her last attack had bothered the shield. If the sparks were a sign of weakness, it meant that girl could be defeated. She would try harder when she took on Kim again. The girl was not a goddess, even if she stood before her thinking she was. No one was invincible. Just gotta take the redhead more seriously.
As the sun crept up into the sky, Shego rose from her bed. She went to go put on her clothes and grabbed an apple for breakfast; she had to eat something for a morning meal or Joss would scold her until she was bluer than Drakken. She exited the house long before Joss rose; she always left before Joss woke up because she did not want to be bothered with talk about going to do “good, honest work.” She used to stick around and wake up with Joss, only to skip out on the work plan long before they got to the fields. Joss still persisted, even though it seemed more than obvious that Shego had no plans to do what the preteen considered real work.
Shego walked down the dirt road near their home while munching on her apple; most of the roads in Middleton were dirt roads. There was a river nearby that she was making her way to. Most of the people in the village that she lived near knew that she lounged on a hill by the river and they often told Joss that was where the girl could find her when Joss was searching for her for whatever reasons. Shego would have found another relaxing spot, but it seemed too bothersome; she would rather Joss know where to find her anyway because one day she could need help or have important news.
Joss glanced at the door as Shego left. Typically, she would’ve tried to stop Shego from leaving the house. She always told people that Shego would be coming to work with her and she liked trying to make that the truth. But, that morning, she could tell that it was best to just let the older woman go. Something was bothering the pale woman, and Shego had to work through that.
Joss crawled out of bed and got dressed. She folded up her blanket and Shego’s blanket. The older woman always left her bed just sitting out on the floor. The auburn-haired girl put the blankets and pillows up in the top of the closet. She turned her attention to their thin mattresses and folded up the little pallets, placing them in the closet too. With that done, she marched to the kitchen, took an apple for breakfast, and left for work. She would get lunch there.
The preteen walked the road through the nearby village and to the fields. The fields where were the community grew most of the vegetables they ate. Since it was a community effort, everyone got a fair share of what they grew. Sometimes, they didn’t come up with much to split, but they always divided things as best they could.
“Hi, everybody!” Joss greeted the other workers.
“Hey, Joss,” the others waved back.
Joss was the youngest person that they had working with them. They were all impressed with her responsible nature and overall hard work ethic. She was so much better than other girl that she lived with, they all thought.
“So, Joss, where’s your kid?” a woman asked her. The others chuckled. Many of the villagers called Shego Joss’ child, because Shego seemed to be Joss’ responsibility instead of the other way around.
“She wasn’t feeling too well today.”
“Yeah, right. She doesn’t seem to feeling well any day,” another woman remarked.
Joss only smiled. She did not see the point in defending Shego. No one would bother to listen. They’d all made up their minds about her pale roommate. If they didn’t think Shego was nothing more than a brute that thought only with her Alter powers, they thought that she was a lazy good-for-nothing that leeched on all of Joss’ hard work. Shego was neither of those, but there was no way for her to convince people of such things.
As Joss went to get to work, she hoped that Shego was all right. For the brief moments that she had saw the green-skinned female that morning, it seemed like something was really bothering her. Joss wondered if maybe it was because she’d yelled at Shego last night, but she doubted it. She always yelled at Shego. She bet that it had something to do with GJ, since Drakken had mentioned them…
Shego was still thinking about her encounter with that redhead Alter-user from GJ. She could still see those cold olive-eyed staring at her, judging her, calling her weak without saying a word. I’ll show you who’s weak next time we meet, you holier-than-thou bitch, she silently vowed. It was about the only thing that she could think about, and she just kept repeating it to herself.
Other than thoughts of destroying that GJ Alter, sporadically Shego worried about money. She had not been paid for the job last night. It had pretty much been a waste of her time, aside for meeting that Alter. She needed money, or just something to barter with to make sure she and Joss wouldn’t starve to death. Sure, Joss got vegetables from her job, but they needed meat sometimes. Not to mention clothes, soap, juice or milk; if they came across any, new blankets for when it got cold, and even the occasional luxury item. Honest work did not get those items, being a fist-for-hire did. She had to earn in order for her and Joss to stay afloat, no matter what everyone else said. Joss depended on her.
And sadly, so did Drakken somewhat, since he got a small cut of the profits. Drakken got her jobs, so she gave him a percent of what she earned. Other than the money he received from her, he made due fixing whatever electronic or mechanical objects people brought to him. He was a somewhat important person in the Lost Grounds, since there were not many with his talents. Almost anyone with an education of some kind had fled to Upperton long ago.
Middleton still made due with what it had. The people were hard working, and many of them were sincere and friendly people who would eagerly help each other out no matter what. They got along with what they had, which was why they resented GJ and WEE encroaching into their area. They were not children. They could govern and police themselves. Shego smirked. Maybe she could beat that GJ bitch by just proving that point to her…