I haven't played the DLC for Control yet, seeing as it costs money that I can't spend at the moment, so I'll wait to see what happens in it before making it a part of this story. I wouldn't want the plot to be screwed up by any new revelations or powers. I will let the readers know if I decide to include it.

I've made loads of chapters in advance, and I'm doing my best to keep track of the plot. Let me know if something doesn't make sense.

The Bureau
Chapter 3: Documentation


Jesse jolted awake as she lashed out at the object blasting her ears with sound. It stopped with a loud crack, and she sat up quickly. Squinting at the weak sunlight streaming in through the window, she remembered where she was and what was going on. "Damn, so wasn't a dream." She sighed, glancing at her appearance. "I had hoped it would go back to normal with some sleep."

Polaris greeted her with a cheerful burst of happiness, while Taylor was still a ball of memories in her head, more akin to a database with numbed emotions than a complete personality. Yet somehow they were all connected within this body in a way that Jesse couldn't quite wrap her mind around. Getting out of bed with a groan, Jesse stretched a bit before getting into the bathroom for a shower.

It still unnerved her how different her appearance was than her old body was, yet at the same time comforting that she had bits of her own traits mixed in. From afar, the change wasn't apparent, but if someone knew what they were looking for, they might notice the way her eye shape was ever so slightly changed, and how her jawline was more defined. Heck, from the photos she had to refer to, it was like she aged up to be between Taylor's age and her's. 'I'm going to need to get back into shape now that I don't have the years of traveling and combat behind this body.' she noted as she observed the lack of apparent muscle she once had.

Shaking herself out of the inspection, Jesse went through her usual morning routine and got ready for the upcoming day exploring the city and researching what she could about her situation. She tried tying her longer than usual hair back into its usual style, but it wouldn't stick, so she left it alone. She wouldn't cut someone else's hair just because she wasn't used to the length.

Jesse curled a lip in disgust as she realized in three days she would need to go to school again, to a bullying situation she didn't know how to handle. She never had been in school for long past the age of around fifteen, since she was trying to locate her then-missing brother with Polaris' assistance. Before that, the authorities that caught her traveling alone insisted on her staying in school and a foster home, and going to 'therapy' for what had happened in her home town of Ordinary. She hadn't listened when they mentioned education, and the therapy was only accepted in order to get a free place to stay while traveling. She always got away when nobody was looking. It wasn't particularly difficult with an entity like Polaris in her mind.

Opening Taylor's closet once more to get dressed, Jesse eyed all the clothes with slight apprehension at the near identical dark hoodies and old jeans that probably were getting old, based on how faded they were. 'Even I had a sense of style when I was traveling on my own across the USA from place to place, but this closet is just a mess of sweatshirts and jeans meant to hide her appearance. I definitely need to buy some new clothes, to get Taylor used to not hiding in a crowd anymore, and for my sanity. I don't think I could wear these for weeks straight when I've been wearing business casual at the very least for the last year. Those bullies at school really did a number on her.'

"First, I'm going to the library. I don't know the password to Taylor's computer anyway, and I'll get a good view of the city. After that we're going somewhere to get you some new clothes." Jesse explained, feeling a little ridiculous talking to herself, even if she knew Taylor was still somewhat aware inside her mind with Polaris. She felt a sense of unease and embarrassment from Taylor.

"If I'm going to live in your body, I'm going to need to be comfortable eventually. Your bullies will be dealt with one way or another, so you might as well get used to this now." she said to Taylor, knowing she wouldn't get much of a response. It helped, in some twisted way, to talk to Taylor. Certainly better than ignoring her for ages at a time when she was still in there somewhere. There was a solution out there somewhere, so Jesse would do her best to help, seeing as she's the only one who can actually talk to Taylor.

In the end, she put on a relatively new hoodie that wasn't as dark as the rest, and a nicer pair of jeans that were somewhat like what she used to wear before she started wearing business suits in the Bureau. She left all of her Bureau gear where it was, the ID card going into the wallet and her Service Weapon folding into itself and then to whatever pocket space it rested in when not in use. Her vest would be noticeable under her jacket, and it was quite damaged from combat so it wouldn't help that much. If she stayed to the safe areas and was careful, she shouldn't encounter anyone. A quick skim of the wallet once more confirmed that there was an ID card for the high school, apparently called Winslow, a library card with the address on it, a card for the bus, and a few gift cards and coupons for various places that had likely been saved for when she needed to get something without spending actual money. I guess this will help make purchases without actually harming Taylor's funds.

Her- Taylor's Dad was already out of the house, a small note on the fridge citing that there was a small issue at work so he had to be there early. So he works on the weekends? I guess he needs the money. Jesse took down the note with a sigh, writing a messy reply that she was heading to the library for a bit. Hopefully it wasn't painfully obvious that her handwriting was completely different, and made a quick breakfast with what she could find before leaving the house and locking the door.

The bus was a short distance away, simple enough to find. Sitting down across from a sketchy looking teen in green and red who eyed the other passengers with a weird expression, she sighed and looked out the window, the city sounds increasing as she approached the tall buildings in the distance. The library was labeled on the bus map, thankfully enough, so the ride would only take twenty minutes.

The city itself was... dying, for lack of a better term. The clear divisions in quality of living and race was a breeding ground for hate and fear between all of the groups. Gang tags lined the alleyways, and she could spot some old shipwrecks in the distance towards what appeared to be the sea. Jesse did a double take as they crested a hill.

"What the..." she exclaimed softly as she gazed out at the softly glowing bubble out in the bay. It appeared to be covering an old oil rig, yet the oil rig itself was covered in modern buildings and small figures. Is that an altered world event? Some kind of area affected differently? Or an Altered Item in use? I've never seen a barrier like that before.

The civilians around her seemed to ignore the strange sight, so it was likely this was a common landmark. Another possibility was some kind of notice-me-not effect, but there were definitely the odd tourist or two that took pictures of it. The bubble left her view as the bus continued down the other side of the hill, entering a visibly cleaner area, likely the center of businesses in the city without entering the downtown itself. Glancing up to confirm it was her stop, Jesse slipped past the teen that was eyeing everyone strangely and made her way into the large library a block away.

Once inside, she relaxed muscles she didn't even know that she had been tensing, the strange unfamiliar atmosphere getting on her nerves. "I never thought I'd say it, but I miss the randomly shifting passageways of the Oldest House." At least she could be confident in the danger that laid ahead. Here there were civilians and criminals and whatever the hell that bubble in the Bay was. The fact nobody reacted to it meant that it was a common sight, or some effect she was immune to caused nobody to notice it.

Arriving on a computer that was available, Jesse blinked at the unfamiliar desktop that greeted her and the outdated hardware that the library provided. That's definitely not Microsoft or Apple. One more point in the alternate reality theory.

Thankfully the desktop still worked the same at a base level, and she found her way onto a search engine that seemed to be a variant of Bing? It was familiar, but definitely wasn't well designed. Likely new with how old (or recent?) the tech was.

"Alright, time to see what's going on here."

"What the hell." Jesse hissed, doing her best to not attract attention to herself. A man at a nearby table glanced at her with a displeased expression and was promptly ignored.

Sorry, she snarked silently, but any sane person would be having a small panic attack at what they just found out over the past few hours. This reality was on a train heading straight to the collapse of society. To summarize, the timeline divergence appeared to be back in 1982 when a golden man appeared in the sky. The issue was, that event was after the formation of the Bureau, which to her knowledge was some time before 1952. Doctor Emily Pope, the head of the Bureau's research department, had tried to educate Jesse on every major event in the Bureau's history, but not all of it stuck. Despite being the Director, it wasn't like I had time to learn the entire history lesson while I was busy fighting the Hiss. Sure, she learned a lot from Emily and the many papers lying around, but many unimportant things were left alone.

Anyway, there was some golden man known as Scion that showed up and apparently cause people to get superpowers. Legitimate, spandex wearing, straight out of comics, sometimes laser blasting, genuine superheroes. Now, how much of this was some kind of Altered Event and how much was something else, she couldn't tell from the documents online. Weird powers? Sure, probably an Altered Item. Villains? She could handle that, and likely could handle most of the smaller ones without issue as long as she was careful. What she couldn't handle were the apocalyptic beings wreaking havoc across the planet.

The first one she was aware of happened to be the Simurgh, the fifteen foot angelic creature that could mind control people and cause long term domino effects that disrupted society as a whole. In some ways it was uncannily like the Hiss, and with the ability to manipulate this 'Tinkertech' against the 'Tinkers', it also reminded her of an entity she had encountered in the Astral Plane. The other Endbringers looked like some kind of creatures that crossed over a Threshold to this reality. Despite the theories that they were new superheroes with powers that got out of control, or some kind of supervillain behind the scenes created them from scratch, somehow she knew something was familiar about them. A sensation from Polaris, or something about the way the Endbringers were moving in the limited footage reminded her of the Astral Plane and the other realms it connected to. Thankfully, there was no disease Endbringer, or else she'd bet her gun that it would be the Mold all over again.

Essentially, there were so many similarities to things she had encountered that this was far more than a simple coincidence. The whole issue with the Hiss was that if it escaped, it would spread across the planet with nothing that could stop it, which was why the Bureau was on lockdown when Jesse had first arrived there. If the Simurgh was anything like the Hiss, and had the apparent future sight that it was supposed to have, it was so much worse than the Hiss had been. Thankfully, as far as anyone could tell, there were limits to the Endbringers. Unbelievably powerful, but there were limits. Leviathan would leave after a certain amount of damage had been dealt to him or to the area. Behemoth after he had destroyed a specific target, as nobody had actually done much harm to the thing before. The Simurgh would leave after achieving whatever she was trying to do, as no damage had really ever hit her unless she wanted it to. Nobody could confirm or deny what her plans were, but many of them had run years into the future from the time she appeared.

Jesse realized she was breathing a little heavily, and took a moment to bask in Polaris' presence, calming down and focusing on the screen before her. Why am I freaking out so much? I don't know for sure that I'm stuck here to deal with this mess. I should be able to contact the Bureau if I get help from this PRT group. All this adrenaline has got to be some side affect of being in this body. I'm just a little out of it. After a few moments of breathing to calm herself, she pulled up a new screen. Okay, so deal with the existential crisis and my new teenage emotions later, focus on what's next.

The better news was that there is a superhero presence across the country, focusing on countering villains to the best of their ability and dealing with any supe-Parahuman fallout. They had to be the Bureau's equivalent on this Earth, so they were her best bet to getting home. On the other hand, revealing herself could end badly. She definitely didn't get her powers the same way as most people did here, and the amount of information about the Bureau she'd have to reveal just to explain her powers was ridiculous. A good chunk of it was classified, and she knew for a fact that if anyone unclassified found out about some specific info, it would quite literally harm their mind. A few of the previous Directors had actually set some kind of instant punishment on whoever did that. Thank god she was better than most of them. Maybe she should look into that more once she got back...

Speaking of, a search on 'Other worlds' or 'Dimension Travel' resulted in her reading up on Professor Haywire, a villain that made a portal of some sort to an alternate Earth that hadn't had the same events happen? It was very vaguely described, likely in an attempt to prevent investigation and cover any accidents that may have occurred during that time. Thankfully knowledge of the other Earth was well known, being called Earth Aleph. Likely a parallel to Alpha and Beta, due to the other Earth possibly being the original timeline where no capes appeared on the scene.

PHO, or Parahumans Online was something that she wished the Bureau had implemented back when the internet was made. As technology as her original planet improved technologically, the chance of the Bureau being found out increased in risk. If the Bureau had actually tried to stay up to date with technology, they may have been able to hold off the Hiss, or more easily locate new Altered Items. They also never replaced the rest of the tech in the Bureau with fully up to date tech. Even the labs used pre 1990 tech, something Darling had insisted on for the reasoning that the Altered Items remained stable when in the presence of the technology, and an update would result in possible changes to how they'd have to store things. Keycards and the Director's office had the most up to date tech as far as she was aware. Thankfully the Oldest House was immune to even satellite detection as far as she was aware, but they couldn't hide forever without getting some upgrades.

On the other hand, the lack of new tech prevented outsiders from hacking in or accessing online files. It certainly explained the paperwork everywhere and mail tube system. It was something to consider once she returned and started bringing the Bureau to its former glory.

Looking over the state of her current location didn't look great. From a statistical standpoint, the heroes were overwhelmed at least three to one if every independent and villain were to turn on them. However, there appeared to be a sort of unspoken agreement not to simply kill one another. Obviously normal people weren't included, as the disconcertingly large amount of civilian deaths both in and out of superhero life caught her attention immediately. It wasn't like one or two people with guns were as dangerous as someone like this 'Hookwolf' or 'Lung' going on a rampage. That simply wasn't as important to the heroes, or the Protectorate as they were called.

Despite all that, it was a miracle they hadn't actually locked up any major villain in jail for good in at least a few years, or even cleared out the weaker gangs like the Archer's Bridge Merchants. Plenty of independents, and ex-villains from other locations, sure, but within the Bay the last major capture was Marquis back when there had been a bunch of issues with progressive groups trying to unmask themselves and be held accountable. After that, groups only changed due to voluntary leave, or being gradually evicted by another gang.

It was plain to see that any major change in the political climate between gangs would result in a clash for the territory between the remaining gangs. The PRT was so hesitant to interfere that it was painfully obvious.

No. It was something to consider later, and not her jurisdiction, let alone her own Earth. She'd let them continue as they were, even if it was inefficient.

It wasn't like she planned on getting involved with the gangs directly any time soon. They were normal people, regardless of their morals. Fighting the Hiss was one thing, knowing there was no way to save the people that had twisted into those creatures, but these were people with lives, and a family outside of their job. Heck, a good portion simply were in it to guarantee safety within their neighborhood. She had passed through enough similar situations when she was traveling the country as a teenager, no need to start anything soon. Her eyes ached as they stared at the screen once more. What time is it?

Blinking at the clock on the computer, she yawned to herself. 11:38? It's almost lunchtime. I should head to Taylor's house and get some food after I buy some things. I'll need to figure out what to do with her father. I shouldn't leave him in the dark about this, especially if I'll be contacting the PRT.

The woman at the front desk smiled at her as Jesse walked by. "Oh, excuse me honey?" the woman called.

"Can I, help you?" Jesse asked uncertainly.

"I couldn't help but notice how interested you were in the Protectorate earlier." the woman said.

Was she spying on me? I didn't even notice her. Or are old people just really quiet like Ahti was? I never did find out too much about that crazy janitor. "Oh, well..." Jesse hesitated. It's not like I can just tell her I've only heard about all of this today for the first time. "It's a... school project."

The woman furrowed her brow slightly. "You have a project right after the break ended? I don't remember the teachers doing that when I was in school."

Damn, I should have considered that. I don't even know about anything coming up either, so I should avoid saying anything that gives me away. "I go to Winslow, and one of the newer teachers assigned it." Jesse replied, smiling slightly back.

The woman nodded, nodding understandingly as she reached for something behind the desk. "Winslow... I can't believe that school is still running after all these years." the woman said, reminiscing for a moment. "Well, if you're interested in getting more info about the Protectorate, there will be a meet and greet interview with the Wards and one of the actual Protectorate members tomorrow if you're interested?" She explained, holding out a blue flyer from a small stack behind the desk.

Jesse blinked. It would be best to meet them in person. I might even be able to talk with them about my issue and get this solved quickly. "Thanks. I appreciate it." she said, taking the flyer from the woman. "Have a nice day... Molly." she finished, glancing at the name tag the woman wore. She walked a few paces away before pausing and glancing back. "You wouldn't happen to know a good place to shop around here?"

The Boardwalk seemed to one of the better places to shop, according to Molly, the area's enforcers protecting it from other gangs. Though the men could be considered a gang of their own with how many she spotted along the beachfront. The stores lacked any large brand names or chain stores that she recognized, but managed to find some shops that Taylor had coupons for in her wallet, and one or two thrift shops with good deals. At the very least she was able to procure a blue jacket with denim-like material, similar to what she once wore before the Bureau for a decently cheap price. A few more picks of t-shirts and long sleeve clothes that weren't designed to hide herself and she left the store.

Taking a seat on a bench in the near afternoon sun, she sighed as she stared out at the water near the Boardwalk. She honestly hadn't been near a large body of water in years, let alone swam in it, since her traveling and the whole Hiss situation, there was rarely any down time to go anywhere for that.

So seeing the water span for miles and miles towards the horizon with the glistening bubble of the Protectorate Rig in the center was a rare sight. Not the most unique sight she'd ever seen -not much compared to the Astral Plane or the sky of the Blackrock Quarry- but still a beautiful one. Jesse sighed in contentment. Maybe now she could finally relax and lessen the headache that had been bothering her the whole day. The Hiss were gone, and now she didn't have to deal with them again.

Of course, that's when this reality caught up to her.

"Hebert!" a voice said from a few feet away from her. Jesse glanced over to see two girls walking up to her, expressions a mix of glee and something unreadable. Taylor flinched in the back of her head. What now? She grumbled internally.

The pair was led by a redhead girl, her expression just making Jesse want to slap her. Something niggled in the back of her mind when she looked at the girl, but something drew her attention to the dark skinned girl right next to the redhead. Polaris surged forward, warning Jesse about... something.

"Hebert." The glowing girl said again, looking down at her expectantly. Jesse furrowed her brows as she refocused on the feeling, which now was barely noticeable if she wasn't paying attention. Maybe it was nothing?

So these girls knew her? Wait, were these the ones from the notebook? She grit her teeth in anger, remembering the tight space, the overwhelming stench, and the sheer amount of time Taylor must have been in there before Jesse had taken the wheel. In her anger, something clicked. Then her view changed as Polaris helped her see.

Jesse's eyes widened as she stared at the girl. Golden glowing light seemed to be infused into the girl's body, fading in and out as the girl smiled at her toothily. Like the Hiss, but not. Like Polaris, but not. It pulsed and she-


Jesse blinked as the meaningless jumble of sound and chaos reached her. Polaris roiled in disgust. The girl seemed unaware.

What the hell is that.

I had a lot of trouble figuring out an end to this chapter. I have numerous plot points I'd like to reach, but the path to getting there has loads of possibilities. I went through like twenty iterations, like going straight to the PRT, talking to gangs to get an idea of the area, not telling Danny, or even just ditching the city and going to New York to see if the Bureau's building was there on Earth Bet. This one felt like the best scenario that made the most sense, plus there's conflict!