1. Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. A note about the current Ukraine situation: Discussion of it is still prohibited as per Rule 8
    Dismiss Notice
  7. The rules regarding NSFW links have been updated. See here for details.
    Dismiss Notice

Abaddon Born(e)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Leecifer, Jun 28, 2021.

Loading...
  1. Threadmarks: Spoiler 5.7
    Leecifer

    Leecifer (Fan)Fiction Writer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    172,214
    Spoiler 5.7

    I took a second to process Panacea’s revelation. “Okay, I’m going to neither confirm nor deny that, but why do you think so?”

    “Someone showed me the video, and I know how injured you were. You’d already healed some, but you had electrical burns on your legs, more one than the other, just like the video, and that’s in addition to your bullet impact shaped contusions, though they were already healing, hairline fractures in your arms and legs, bruised organs, and on top of that half your ribs were broken!” she declared, working herself up, as I held her at arm’s length. “Why didn’t you tell me? What were you thinking getting into a fight like that!?”

    I nodded. “Yeah, that’d do it.” I considered the difficulties of having this conversation in a restaurant, and made a snap decision, starting to fly towards home base. “I’m making dinner.”

    “That’s not an answer!” she contested, glaring at me.

    “No,” I rebuked, as I thought my meaning had been clear. “It’s what I’m going to do while I give you the answer.” That it let me consider my answer on the way back was also a plus.

    Landing and walking into the base, mind spinning, I considered the hard sell, the entire ‘I need you to join if I’m going to tell you my secrets’ gambit. No, I decided, as even thinking on how I’d do so left a bad taste in my mouth. Honesty and trust it was, but first, “Burgers work?” I asked her, checking the fridge.

    “Fine,” she agreed, impatient.

    I considered taking my time getting ready, finding her lack of patience childish, but maybe I shouldn’t tease her right now. A few minutes later they were sizzling away and we both had a glass of water. I turned, leaning against the counter. “Okay, before we start, I won’t lie to you, but if you tell people what I tell you, it will turn out badly.”

    I saw her eyes narrow, and guessed her thoughts, “Panacea, you should know by now that I wouldn’t threaten you. I won’t be doing anything bad, but Boardwalk had to fight his way out of the Rig after he saved the lives of Vista, Gallant, and countless cops because they were going to throw him in a holding cell, and who knows what would’ve happened to him after that. If they find out where he is, let alone if you effectively unmask him, I’m not sure what they’ll do, but from what I’ve seen, it won’t be good.”

    She struggled with herself, finally stating, “Heroes wouldn’t do that Vejovis.”

    “So you’re calling me a liar. Nice Panacea. Nice.” I waved away her protest, grabbing a laptop and accessing the base’s intranet, getting the cleaned-up copy of the Armsmaster confrontation Quinn had sent me. Putting it down in front of her I pressed play as I finished making dinner, refusing to answer any more questions. Plating the burgers as the video finished, I slid hers in front of her as I sat down. “So. Heroes wouldn’t do that, but what makes you think the Protectorate are heroes? I sent the director of the local PRT this video, as well as the video I have of the Bay Central Bank fight, if you want to see it, and absolutely nothing has happened. Armsmaster is still officially the head of the Brockton Protectorate,” and hadn’t that been a shocker when I looked it up this afternoon, “and while it’s stopped them from going after us, officially, over his actions, The Lady, Bug hasn’t received so much as a single apology for being attacked by the then leader of the government-backed ‘hero’ team. You’re a hero Panacea, would you really put yourself on the same level as him?

    I ate my burger, hurt and angry. I knew breaking Panacea’s years of conditioning from Brandish was going to be difficult, but I seemed to have made almost no progress whatsoever. She stared at her meal, not touching it. What, I thought, my food’s not good enough because I’m not a perfect hero like you think you are? The sheer pettiness of that statement broke the mental line I was on. No, that’s unfair. She’s being unfair too, but that’s no reason to- “I’m sorry,” she said quietly, interrupting my thoughts. “You’ve never lied. I wish you had actually, but you haven’t.”

    I put my burger down, pleasantly surprised, but masking my thoughts. “Alright then. You have questions? I have answers, but as you said, I won’t lie, even if you’d prefer me to.”

    “You’re Boardwalk.” It wasn’t a question. I waited until she gave me an annoyed look, realizing it as well. “How?”

    I shrugged, switching out costumes and personas. “How do ya think Panny?”

    She blinked, nonplussed. “You’re. . . a shapeshifter?” she guessed.

    I chuckled, popping off the mask and putting it down, smirking. “Only the threads, try again.”

    Her brow furrowed, “Multiple personalities?”

    I dropped the Persona, laughing. “Not everything is powers Panacea, it’s just acting.”

    “But you had different powers!” she protested.

    I turned my hand to Shadow, poking it insubstantially through hers. “I have quite a few powers.”

    She rejected my statement, declaring, “But no one has more than three!”

    I turned my other hand to Light, “I do, Break does, I think there’s a villain named Circus that does as well. And let’s not even get started on the Triumvirate.” I didn’t know their exact powers, but to be that strong they had to be multi-‘talented’.

    “Are you a Tinker? Is your power linked to your costume? Different suits have different powers, and they are your power?” she queried, trying to find a way for me to confirm to her worldview.

    I blinked. I hadn’t thought of that, and it would make an excellent cover story if I needed one. Unfortunately, I’d made a commitment to stay honest, even if I was the only one that’d know I broke it. Shaking my head, I shifted my costume to my civilian garb, dismissing and summoning the Light and Shadow, before doing the same thing as Vejovis.

    “Are you like Eidolon? You can only do three at once?” she tried plaintively, trying to understand what I was doing in the context of what she knew to be fact.

    I winced. “Please don’t compare me to that idiotic glory hound,” I responded, keeping Light and Shadow going as I levitated off the ground, Glory Girl Style, while manifesting a speed zone that moved my chair back.

    She looked at me, before shaking her head. “How-No, I don’t want to know. So you’re both. Why?”

    “Deniability,” I replied, motioning towards her dinner. “Eat before it gets cold.” Sitting down on a layer of air I continued, smirking at her noise of frustration as I did so. “I’m a Hero, but as we’ve seen, those who claim the title abuse it, and there are those who would seek to stop me, either because they have evil intentions, or because they are scared of the darkness in their own hearts. They think of what they would do if given the same power and see the same intentions in all others, ignoring that by acknowledging and controlling that darkness one can overcome it, instead of running from it like a scared child. The fears manifest in different permutations, but it all stems from those two sources.”

    “Because of that I needed two identities,” I waved, one hand in Vejovis’ white cloth glove, one in Boardwalk’s black studded leather. “One to be the hero who helps those in need and is allowed to do so, and one to be the hero who walks in the shadows to fight villains in ways that those with villainous tendencies have made socially unacceptable. Hookwolf, Oni Lee, and others have unequivocally killed enough civilians that, if they were tried for their crimes in our justice system, as our laws say they should be, their prison terms would be in the triple or quadruple digits. Honestly, those two should have been tried in abstentia, as much as I dislike the concept, and the only reason they wouldn’t have a death sentence is that New England is extraordinarily far left on the political divide. In a fair world, they would have kill orders on them, though after last night’s fight Oni Lee might, but I’m not holding my breath.”

    “If Vejovis went after them half as hard as they go after unpowered people, there’d be cries for his head. Of note is that villains go easier on heroes, since they know the kind of response say, killing a Ward would provoke, but if some unpowered kid pulls a knife, let alone a gun on Hookwolf, and didn’t back down, he’d kill them, but the media here cares nothing for those people. Normal people fighting villains? There are quite a few in positions of power that have effectively made such a thing laughable, borderline unthinkable,” I nearly spat, “and if someone in their desperation makes a final stand and dies, they’re just considered stupid. If they make a stand and Trigger though, that gets attention, because now they matter, and they’d probably survive as fighting someone with unknown powers is a risky proposition, causing their would-be killers to back off until they’re sure they could still defeat their victims. “

    I subsumed myself in Shadow, letting the Light shine from beneath. “Boardwalk though, he’ll never be accepted as a hero, and that’s just as how he likes it, even though he is one. He wouldn’t be a crazed vigilante, doing the ‘all criminals deserve one thing, death’ bullshit, but he’d be willing to match his foe’s level of violence. He’d capture the Undersiders, maybe rough them up a bit, but after Skidmark tries to shoot him in the head with a pistol, Boardwalk might capture him, might permanently maim him, or might just kill him depending on the circumstances. Vejovis has no such options at present, and thus can be caught up by the ‘surrender or I’ll kill this hostage’ scenario. Boardwalk would just kill the bastard, and try to save the innocents, but if they die, he’ll disgustedly state that their deaths are on the people who killed them, not the people they were being used to leverage, and anyone who claims otherwise is a fuckin’ moron.

    Panacea replied after a moment of thought, “I couldn’t do that.”

    Yet. “I’m not asking you to,” I assured her instead, letting go of the power and sitting there in my Vejovis guise, sans mask, “and if I felt like I had to, and you said no, I wouldn’t force you to.”

    She sighed. “What happened last night? I saw the video, but that was just the fight, not what led to it.” I got her a coffee as I covered the lead-up, leaving out the part about recruiting Purity, knowing how much that would further derail the conversation. I finished with my escape, and sat back, waiting for her response.

    “Thank you,” she finally said, continuing at my confused look. “For saving Gallant and Vista. Vicky was-, I’m not sure how she’d take it if he died. You didn’t have to, and with what you said about Boardwalk, you, I don’t know, had to go against what he was supposed to do when you did it, but thank you for doing it anyways.”

    I nodded, “Dean and Missy are Heroes, and saving heroes is my mission, not that of any identity I might use to further that end. I was willing to throw away the work I’d put in building Boardwalk’s identity to make that happen, and would again, if needed.”

    She started to smile, before a frown crossed her features. “Wait, is Vejovis another identity?”

    I shifted to civies as I smiled. “In public, yes, but when we’re just hanging out, I’m just me, Lee Elric, the man who will save the world, no matter what I’m wearing.”

    She blinked at me, not sure how to respond. “That’s. . . nice?” she tried. “How? That’s, the whole world? How are you going to do that yourself?”

    I shook my head. “Not by myself, no. That’s why I’m trying to find and help true heroes, people I can trust to have my back, people like you. It’s why I’m recruiting for my team, and the only reason I haven’t asked you yet is because there were things you needed to figure out before it would be even fair to ask. That being said, the offer is open once you’re sure it’s what you want. As for how?” I shrugged. “I’ll get by, with a little help from my friends.”


    <AB>


    Dropping Panacea off back at her house, as Vejovis, we didn’t talk, her sister having called her as we left the base and Panacea reassuring the other girl that she was fine, and we’d eaten dinner someplace a bit out of the way, and how did she know that she’d not just gone out like normal anyways? I was tempted to listen in, but that would’ve been rude, and didn’t seem like something that was mission critical. Hanging up she informed me, blushing, “Apparently there’s a blog about us.”

    I shrugged. “We’re healers, and that gets attention. There’s like, what, a dozen of us in the world that are as open-ended as we are? It’s a rare but incredibly valuable power. Heck healing, or the appearance of, is one of the things that a lot of religions are built on.”

    She shook her head, turning a beet red. “No. I mean it’s about us.

    It took a second before I understood what she meant, and I tried not to blush in turn. “They are aware that you’re a minor, and I’m obviously not, correct?” I inquired dryly.

    She took a breath, matching my tone as we landed, “They don’t seem to care.”

    I facepalmed. “Perverts, the lot of them. Wait, how does Glory Girl know about them.”

    That is something that I’d like to know,” the healer agreed, sighing as she looked at her house, where her sister was once again unsubtly watching us from a window. “Thank you again for being honest,” she said turning to face me. “And sorry, it’s, it’s hard to believe the Protectorate would do that when. . .”

    “The media is all about how great they are?” I asked. “Yeah propaganda is insidious like that. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first to accuse someone of lying instead of believing a harsh truth, and I doubt you’ll be the last. No hard feelings. See you tomorrow for healing?”

    She nodded, smirking, “Only if you get enough rest! I’ll be checking!”

    I waved her off, laughing, “Fine mom, I’ll get to bed at a descent hour. See you then!” Flying back with a wave towards Glory Girl, I headed to home base to try my hand at Space Warping. Considering it came with a sensory component, I knew I couldn’t use it anytime soon, as Vista would be able to sense my work if she came in range. The uses for it I’d copied from seeing Vista in action last night were automatic, as was par for the course with replicating uses of a power I’d directly seen, and reshaping the twists only took a few seconds. The long tunnel formation she’d used to get us to the rig was also useful, if cumbersome, and I worked on shrinking it from a passage leading north, far out of the city, into something a bit more useful.

    After only a few hours my alarm went off, and I grudgingly headed to bed for three hours of meditation. I’d figure out the specifics of it soon, and hopefully I’d only need a couple hours every week of rest if I wasn’t constantly fighting, but for now better too much than too little.

    This time instead of just relaxing into near-unconsciousness I focused on my power, trying to relax into it and focus around it, to catch the details hiding under the vague sense of energy. After a while I started to gain the sense of it. Fire, burning deep within, flickering against unseen wind, but before I got more than just a general impression my alarm went off, prompting me to get breakfast and head to meet up with Taylor for another morning of bomb clearance.

    The officer leading the team, who introduced himself as Officer Garnett, was much more respectful, though he was confused on one point. “I was reviewing your previous day’s work Vejovis, and I don’t see the underlying method to your coverage.”

    I shrugged, “We were given no instructions other than, ‘go find bombs’, so I warned the people around us, then we did.”

    Garnett looked at me for a moment before swearing under his breath, “Fucking Galston,” and looking at his phone. “We’ll start by clearing the City Hall, and we’ll work from there on clearing Downtown. Rivers, Beltran, I want you at the one and eleven of the perimeter of the swarm, warning people.” He turned to look back at me as two of the officers jogged off. “We had complaints, now I know why. If you would?”

    From there we moved on as we had before until we found the third device, this one booby trapped to go off if you opened it up, if I was understanding the mechanisms inside well enough. Pointing it out got Garnett swearing, prompting me to offer the use of our beetles. “You can do that?” he asked incredulously.

    I nodded, as did Taylor. “I informed the previous fellow before we started. Grumpy chap, never got his name.” Turning to my partner I motioned in front of us. “Lady Bug, you’re better with detail work, do you think you could create a model of the device?”

    She shrugged, “Sure.” Waving a hand in front of herself insects gathered, forming the inverse of the shape that we could see, the gnats holding in place unnaturally to create the structure. I looked at it, and realized that to someone who couldn’t sense insects, all it looked like was cube of bugs. Grabbing the top layer and sending them back into the greater swarm, I pointed out the pull line now suspended in the air.

    Garnett hesitated before crouching down to get a better look at it, the gnats we used small enough that they were almost impossible to pick out individually from a distance, the entire thing a seemingly solid grey mass. Taking a flashlight, he shone it in and around the model, highlighting the structure. Calling for their expert on his comms, he soon had Dragon helping him, using a camera to see the structure of what we’d made. After a minute, he pointed out a strand of insects near the bottom. “This one, can you cut it?”

    “The red one?” Taylor asked, “Sure.” She grabbed a few cockroaches from a nearby restaurant and had them chew through it. “Want me to open it and see if it worked?”

    He double checked that the rest of his team had cleared the area before nodding. “If you can.” She gathered the swarm and pushed the inside open, the hinge swinging smoothly, pulling the wire in the process. Nothing happened. We waited a few minutes, and still nothing. He sent one of his troopers over, shaking his head when I asked incredulously why they didn’t send a drone, responding, “I was informed that these were not technically bombs, and thus we had no need for such.”

    He laughed at Taylor’s indignant, “That’s stupid!”, nodding in agreement. The squaddie he sent, a woman by the name, or codename, Peterson came back after a moment, what looked like a Tinkertech scanner in hand, reporting that it was dead.

    Officer Garnett nodded, “This makes our job much easier. Thank you.”

    ‘Do you want to be helpful, or be safe?’ I wrote with bugs in the vent of the building to our left.

    Taylor looked at Garnett, before writing ‘Helpful’, adding a moment later, ‘He’s not a jerk’.

    “If it helps, we can split up, though I insist we stay in Comm contact,” I said tapping my ear while spelling ‘which for us is the range of your control Lady Bug’. “Ours are short range, but we can cover more ground that way.”

    The commanding officer nodded, calling up the PRT for a few more helping hands, sending most of his current team with Taylor. With that we spent the next few hours clearing half of downtown in its entirety and by the time we called it quits we had over fifty devices defused, with only a handful of detonations, and no casualties. I did have to support a building that had a load bearing wall turned to gas with my strength for ten minutes until the PRT was able to get some supports to prop it up. It might’ve been longer, but after five minutes I claimed that I was tiring, and didn’t know how much longer I could hold it, my strength ‘failing’ as they set up the supports, which got the lead out of the people doing so.

    Dropping Taylor off, I confirmed that the Truce was meeting tomorrow at Somer’s Rock, but she didn’t know when other than “After 4”. Making it in time to meet Panacea, I noticed that Glory Girl, looking oddly nervous, wanted to say something to me. Holding up a hand and pointing upwards, lifting high into the air, she followed suit, the two of us coming to stop several hundred feet up. I stopped the wind when she came level with me, and I wrapped us in a sound bubble. “Okay, we won’t be overheard. What’s up Glory Girl?”

    “Amy said you could get in touch with the guy from that fight, Boardwalk?” I nodded. “Can you tell him thanks? For saving D-Gallant. After what you said that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I, I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to him.” She held herself as if cold, eyes cast downward.

    I floated towards her, putting a hand on her shoulder. Her head snapped up, looking at me, warily, but without hosility. “Glory Girl, Dean is a Hero who deserves the title. I, or those who may be under my employ, would go out of their way to save him and people like him. Even if it means I, or he,” I corrected, “have to let Oni Lee get away to do so.”

    She just nodded, eyes bright. Letting the sound bubble slowly disperse, and releasing my hold on the wind, I nodded back before I dropped down, slowing my fall right before I hit the ground, Panacea waiting.
     
  2. bloodyparty

    bloodyparty Getting sticky.

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2019
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    197
    Good chapter, thanks for the update!
     
    Jarudazuigu likes this.
  3. Mandabar

    Mandabar Can someone show me where the happy button is?

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    926
    So I recently started reading your works, and I saw this was one of yours. Never read it but did hear about it so that is a thing. Should I be reading it here though? I see it's way under sized compared to the FF.net version. Is it a different version/rewrite or something?
     
    SixthRanger likes this.
  4. Leecifer

    Leecifer (Fan)Fiction Writer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    172,214
    I'm cleaning it up as I post it, making sure there's no continuity errors, etc. If you want the full million+ word story all at once ff.net's the place to go, but I've learned an absolute ton about writing since I started it, so this version will be a better read.
     
  5. Mandabar

    Mandabar Can someone show me where the happy button is?

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    926
    I figured it might be something along the lines of an edit pass. Thanks!
     
  6. Threadmarks: Spoiler 5.8
    Leecifer

    Leecifer (Fan)Fiction Writer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    172,214
    Spoiler 5.8

    Panacea didn’t make small talk as we healed, though when someone mentioned my mornings’ activities I did get a raised eyebrow. “I got a few hours sleep. It’ll be enough for now!” I defended, to the laughs of the people we were healing. Afterwards we had a quiet dinner out, during which Panacea visibly noticed, and was aggravated by, the people paying attention to us. Being under the spotlight killed her interest in conversation, and I couldn’t help but ponder, did she really not notice the attention she had before?

    On the way home she finally asked what her sister wanted to talk to me about. “She was under the impression I was in contact with Boardwalk and wanted to send her thanks,” I explained. “I told her that, given the PRT is actively looking for him, people who may or may not be working with me would always go out of their way to save heroes like her boyfriend.”

    “Oh,” she responded looking relieved. “Good.”

    I gave her a questioning look, but she didn’t elaborate.

    “I didn’t ask before, but Vista and Gallant, you’ve healed them, right?” I asked. I assumed the answer was yes, but it was better to confirm than work on bad info.

    She nodded. “They were in bad shape, but they’re fine now. Vista had some of the tendons in her arm severed and only had operationality of half the fingers on her left hand, Gallant had localized spinal damage from the electrical blast.” I felt a dropping sensation in my gut, had I paralyzed Gallant? “Thankfully the damage didn’t extend upwards. Since their brains were fine, I was able to heal them completely.” While relieved I subconsciously growled in anger at the situation, prompting her to ask “What?”

    I hesitated for a moment, before deciding to just go ahead and say it. “If they’d trained her to use her armor, that wouldn’t have happened. She was practically flailing out there. Without you she’d’ve been maimed for the rest of her life, because she was trying to be a hero when she should’ve been in middle school.” I didn’t bother to hide my sneer at the hypocrisy of the program meant to protect young parahumans actively putting them in danger, “It’s worse than if she was independent, because then she would’ve known she had no real support. Sorry,” I apologized automatically. “I’m not upset with you, it’s just. . .” I sighed, looking for the right words.

    “People who have accepted responsibility,” I put forward, thinking my way through the issue as I talked, “not have it thrust on them, or taken it because they’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation, but actively sought it, and are rewarded for it, but then don’t even try to do what they’ve promised to do, been paid to do, with gold and glory, that is behavior that is lower than even most who call themselves villains.”

    She didn’t have anything to say in response, so we finished our flight in silence. Dropping her off, I told her “I can’t heal with you tomorrow, and after that I can’t promise anything.”

    “Is it because I told Vicky tha-” she started, sounding hurt and guilty.

    “No, there’s a villain meeting that I’m attending.” I interrupted.

    She blinked. “What.”

    “Things’ve gotten bad enough that all the gangs and villain aligned groups are meetings to work together to take down the ABB. Kaiser, Faultline, The Undersiders, Coil, well probably his double but he’ll be there in spirit, and some others. The PRT, whose job it is to stop this, isn’t calling in the big guns, for whatever reason. Even though, as a national taxpayer funded organization that’s literally their jobs. New Wave’s just been keeping their heads down, right?” I checked.

    “I’m healing,” Amelia offered, “But, we’re not sure what to do.”

    “Take the fight to the ABB,” I offered simply, “But New Wave. . . they’re not really active that much, and this will be bad. So, since there’s no heroes that are willing to do what needs to be done, I’ll be there as well, under the banner of truce to help them stop the killing. They’ll do it to stop the Feds from taking over the entire city, I’ll do it to save people, but hey, common goals, different reasons.”

    She bit back her first response before nodding. “I. . . Okay. Be safe, okay?”

    I smiled, surprised that she’d accepted it at that, the eight probable conversational paths I’d predicted, from ‘that doesn’t excuse working with villains’ to ‘it’s too dangerous’, and my responses to each, fading, unused. “Don’t worry, if I needed to I could take them all on and escape. I’ll still be careful,” I added at her glare. Taking off I called down, “I’ll tell you what happens over dinner!”

    Getting home, I found Herb cooking for himself, having just gotten back from another Cauldron mission. “Beatin’ down some dumbass drug-dealers in a jungle somewhere. Might’ve been Peru,” he offered by way of explanation, and I had him clear his schedule tomorrow, his eyes lighting up when he realized it was time for the meeting at Somer’s Rock, one of the more useful stations of canon that we could twist to our advantage. “Fuck yeah, this is gonna be awesome!” he crowed.

    I nodded, myself worried a little at how it’d go, but fairly confident, “And we’re meeting up with our newest team-member tomorrow for lunch, before heading over.” I’d texted Purity, and while her grammar was atrocious she’d agreed to meet up with Break and me before the meeting, a meeting she hadn’t heard about this time around.

    He smiled slyly, “Finally corrupted Panacea, huh?”

    What? I thought, before glaring at him. “No, it’s not Panacea, and what do you mean corrupted?

    “Well, she’d be out consortin’ with villains an’ shit, something she’d never do before.” He frowned in confusion, “If it’s not Panacea, then who? Her sister?”

    No,” I snapped, suddenly feeling a lot less charitable. “I wouldn’t bring a kid to this! If I could I’d convince Taylor to sit it out in case it gets bad. No, they’re an adult, and that’s all I’m going to say! You’ll find out who they are when they meet us tomorrow.”

    I walked past him, ignoring his call of “Come on man, I didn’t mean nothin’ by it!”


    <AB>

    Meditation didn’t come easily, taking over an hour to even begin to center myself, trying to understand why I’d snapped at Herb. It wasn’t until I’d fully calmed and tried to think of something else that I realized that it wasn’t the corrupting Panacea comment as I’d originally thought, as that was him being his normal crude and incredibly inappropriate self. It was the suggestion that I’d bring her to the villain meeting.

    With how badly that had the possibility of going.

    It reminded me too much of the Protectorate fielding the Wards with insufficient training, unthinking of the possible dangers, and that was a parallel that offended me. If not only had Panacea joined, but had been combat trained, was comfortable with the use of violence, and was using her power to go full Guyver then hell yes I’d love to have that support, but as she was now? It would have been reckless to the point of negligence to bring her along. That wasn’t even considering that Glory Girl would’ve invariably tried to follow and sneak in, and that would’ve gone as well as a fireworks exhibition in a distillery.

    I’d barely dealt with that and found my center when my alarm went off, signaling the end of my three hours of meditation, which hadn’t even felt like one. Stretching as I got up, I did feel rested, though had I the time I might’ve reset the alarm for another few hours, but I had work to do. What I wanted to do was work on my Boardwalk set, but he needed to lay low for a few weeks, and the power testing I wanted to do had the possibility of being. . . explosive. Maybe if it was day I could risk it, but at night using Purity’s power would tell everyone where I was.

    Reviewing the battle again, watching the footage L33t had taken, now that I wasn’t on the edge of passing out from exhaustion, I still looked borderline precognitive, which would be good for the intimidation factor, but tactically I was a fucking mess. I had three powers in that persona, but for most of the fight I’d only used one. From the very first second, I’d been screwing up. Oni Lee behind me? Speed Zone his ass away. Hit the side of a building and needed an out? Drop a zone up the side and press myself into it while I flew, blasting off even faster. Purity’s speed combined with the acceleration of my Speed Zones should make me crazy fast, but I hadn’t thought of it. Actually, speaking of speed. . . I paused the video and headed to the workshop, building an ad hoc target as I muted the room and tried to pull the smallest blast I could. A pea size piece of light formed in the palm of my hand, shifting unstably, before shooting out in a rainbow line. Streaking across the workshop it impacted the target, blowing out a chunk of the wood.

    Walking over to the target and checking the damage, if I had to guess it was like someone had hit it with a blunt pick, the force blasting across a quarter inch diameter area. Walking back and layering Speed Zones down the inside of my middle and pointer fingers, I formed another tiny ball of Light, sending it down the track I’d created, feeling the slightest of kickbacks as it accelerated. The projectile moved more than twice as fast, digging a larger hole in the target, concentrating force without increasing area. Doubling up on the zones I tried again, the kickback noticeable, the trail lacking the bright greens of the previous shot. This shot punched a gouge out of the two-by-fours I’d used to make my target, and the time from firing to hit was almost instantaneous. Doubling up again, Zones shifting from cerulean to azure, I formed another, took aim, and fired.

    My hand was jerked back by the unexpected kick the at same time as the center of the target exploded, a hole punched through the two-by-four, sending shards of wood against the back wall. The trail lacked any greens whatsoever and had flown fast enough to possibly rival a pistol. I checked the clock. If I’d spent a single hour training like this beforehand, and half of that was just making the target, I would’ve had Oni Lee, shooting him too fast for him to realize what was happening. Mind you, I mused, pulling on Miss Militia’s power and creating a copy of the pistol I had in a holster on my back, unloading it on the target, it’s a moot point now.

    A flicker of light caught my eye and I actually looked at the gun in my hand. The 1911 I held was a slightly glowing blood red, the image of an Entity in purple inscribed on either side of the slide. Turning it into a revolver resulted in a similar problem, only the spiked snake was now coiling down the circular barrel.

    Cute.

    Taking out my real pistol and trying to get it to copy the hardware only resulted in getting my first result. Switching to a twenty-two, an assault rifle, a shotgun, and a sniper rifle in turn, each one had a similar coloration and design. Changing to melee weaponry, I had no better luck. Be it knife, machete, warhammer, or katana, each one had the exact same coloration and motif. Sighing, I changed back to a copy of my real pistol. As useful as it would be, this was a power that would never see the light of day.

    My costume’s emblazoned Entity was close enough to a Caduceus that it was overlooked, but with this it’d be a theme, and I’d start gaining more attention then I’d like. It also just looked unearthly, obviously something power-created, and I had enough powers from this city without being absolutely flagrant about it.

    Shooting both, real and projected pistol, guns akimbo style, was fun even if I would’ve missed most of the shots if I hadn’t cheated with Aerokinesis. As I was reloading my real weapon, though, I frowned.

    My pistol was enhanced with a Speed Zone, but it had the same kick as the projection. Pulling my projection to hand and opening the slide, inside the barrel sat a Speed Zone, just like my real weapon, which I could dismiss and reestablish independently. Setting the mystery of if her power was creating powered weapons, or if I was somehow subconsciously using my Speed Zones aside, I dismissed the power, only to have it change into a knife at my belt. I tried again, and it wavered, shimmering like it was underwater, straight lines twisting, before turning into a swiss army knife, the crest showing an Entity.

    I groaned, as just like my Arthropod Control, which I tended to leave on rather than deal with the hassle whenever I wanted to use it, Weaponry Projection didn’t want to be let go. Concentrating on it and forcing it down, back to wherever my power stored its copies, the weapon vanished in a puff of red and purple smoke.

    Wanting to practice, but not wanting to leave, and needing to clean up my mess, I decided to kill three birds with one superpower, taking a seat while I tried to use Aerokinesis to pick up and move the individual pieces in a pile with targeted gusts of wind, getting the gusts stronger and tighter as dawn crested the horizon.

    It was. . . suboptimal to say the least. Grumbling I cleaned up most of the mess by hand, made breakfast for the base, and ignored Herb’s begging for a clue about our new member. Just to get out of the house, er, base for a bit I dropped by PRT HQ, asking for officer Garnett and then working with his team to help them clear another chunk of Downtown. Overall, it just felt like killing time more than actual progress, but the people’s who’s lives I probably saved doing so helped stave off the encroaching feelings of wasting precious hours.


    <AB>


    Herb and I walked into the café in downtown, one that I’d actually cleared of a device that morning, in civilian garb. Herb wore his suit, sans mask and gauntlets, which were packed in a messenger bag at his side. I was in business casual, grey pants with a dark purple shirt, which seemed to give my skin a slightly different tone than my red and white costume.

    We were shown to our seat, our reservation under the name Anders, though I kept Herb from hearing that as he glanced around the place, and we ordered an appetizer and drinks while we waited. I kept an eye out, spotting the short almost mousy-looking woman as she was shown to our table, her power obvious to my Sight.

    I waved, smiling behind my sunglasses, and she started to wave back, smiling, before seeing Herb sitting next to me, looking for who I was waving at. She froze, before taking a breath and coming to sit next to us, smile now forced.

    “Please,” I said, “before we start, figure out what you want to eat. I’ll cover it as a business expense, as this is a team meeting.” She glanced at Herb before picking up her menu, hiding her face behind it.

    Herb looked between her and me, brow furrowing, before his eyes started to glow white for a second and he hissed, “You asshole, why didn’t you tell me?” she stiffened and I saw him panic, continuing, “You never said our new teammate was beautiful!”

    She further stiffened behind her menu, before relaxing slightly, putting it down. “I’m ready to order,” she informed me. Waving over our waiter we gave him our order, and I took out a small jar I’d faux-Tinkerteched. Pressing a button to turn on the LEDs, I wrapped us in a sound bubble while slightly muting the outside noises for theatrical effect.

    “Purity, first name Kayden, this is Break, first name Herb. Herb, Purity,” I introduced, pausing so that one of them would take the initiative and get the ball rolling and I could sort out our problems now instead of having it blow up at Somer’s Rock.

    Purity took the bait first, pointing at Herb. “You never said he was black!” she accused, realizing herself and glancing around, but no one so much as blinked an eye at her racist statement, having never heard it.

    I quirked an eyebrow, not commenting on her moment of weakness. “Should that matter? I thought you quit the E88 years ago.”

    Before she could respond Herb waved me off stating, “I’m, I’m, you, some white,” tripping over his words.

    I turned to gaze at him in disbelief, wondering if he was having a stroke, as Kayden look at him as well, more confused than offended. “Are you trying to do that crude ‘would you like some black in you’ line? If you are, you’ve got it turned around.”

    It took a second, but I understood, explaining, “No, he’s trying to say he’s half-black, half-white.”

    Purity, still confused, replied, “Oh, well that’s. . . better?”

    Herb nodded to this very racist statement. “Yeah, there’s um, cream in my tea?” he smiled encouragingly.

    I sighed, rubbing at my face at his pitiful display. “Coffee Herb, cream in your coffee is the phrase you’re looking for.”

    He froze, obviously mentally berating himself, “Yeah, yes, that. Um. You are amazing, you know that, right?”

    Purity just looked even more confused. “What?”

    “Sorry, yeah,” he winced again. “Wow, um, I lo-, no not that, yet, you’re special. That’s what I was looking for.”

    Looking to me for help, she asked helplessly, “I’m sorry, what?”

    “You know, stuff. And things,” he added.

    I needed to stop this train-wreck, for my sanity if nothing else. “Right, so ignoring my suddenly non-erudite friend, he was the one who was telling me about how you’d quit the Empire and that we should recruit you onto our team.” I said, embellishing a little to try to throw my partner a bone. “Apparently, he’s more nervous about this then I’d thought he’d be, but whatever.”

    “When you meet the sun,” Herb elucidated. “Course you’re nervous, it’s the bringer of life.” We both turned to look at him, as he bit his lip to stop himself from saying more.

    “Um,” I added, “How about you just let me talk for this bit?”

    “Yeah, sorry, just. . .” he trailed off, a wistful expression on his face.

    “So, how are you doing?” I asked her, turning to exclude him from the conversation until he got his shit together.

    Purity, obviously desperate to have some normality in this conversation quickly replied, “I’m doing fine. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?”

    Our food arrived, and I toggled the ‘device’ until he left, going over the general plan, and expected parties, finishing with, “If things go really bad, l want the two of you to fight your way out with those that don’t want to fight. As they are right now, I can hold out until you’re clear, then I could escape. I’d probably get hurt, but nothing that’s not fixable. You two being there would negate the threat though, as while I’d want you to get to safety, they might think you’d immediately join the fray.”

    Purity frowned, “No. If I’m on this team, I’ll fight with you!”

    I shook my head emphatically. “No. You get to safety in the air and blast our foes from afar or you don’t fight at all. You’ve got kids to take care of Kayden. We don’t.”

    “He’s right,” Herb said, looking her in the eye. “You’ve got people who need ya, and you need to be able to go back to them.”

    “Why go at all, if it’s going to be so dangerous?” she asked, not addressing what we’d just said, something I was beginning to believe was an endemic trait in Brockton Bay.

    “Kayden, you’re a hero, but I’m also trying to redeem those branded as villains who have accepted the appellation, even though it isn’t true. As far as I know Kaiser, Hookwolf, and Alabaster are irredeemable assholes, but can the same be said about everyone in the E88? Night and Fog are programmed by Gazelleshaft, or whatever they’re called, and I’d help them if I could, but I don’t have the resources to do so right now.”

    The woman was staring at me, unnerved, “How do you know that?”

    Smiling slightly, I merely stated, “I have my sources,” before I shook my head and continued, my speech. “Thing is, If I’m going to in the future, I’ll need bargaining chips to use on the PRT to get them to both leave me alone as an independent, and to accept that the ‘Villains’ I’m working with are really trying to redeem themselves. Their cooperation with helping to end a city-wide threat could open the door to doing so, let alone adding legitimacy to the truce being across the standard battle lines of heroes and villains, and not just the villains being villainous jerks. The fact that I’ll release a statement to the press afterwards will reaffirm that and add a sense of safety to the situation that this city desperately needs, since the government heroes haven’t said a god-damned thing other than claiming ‘we’re working on the issue.’”

    “We’re doing the best with what’s available to us,” Herb added, finding his eloquence. “but at the same time. . . actually, no, we’re just straight up doing the right thing!”

    “Exactly,” I agreed. “And if you can think of anyone in the E88 that might want to come to the side of the angels, or even could be convinced to turn over a new leaf, I’d be grateful. I know some of them, like Rune, weren’t there when you were, but maybe you could talk to them where I couldn’t.” I shrugged. “I’m not demanding results, just that you try your best.”

    Purity looked down at her lap, nodding. “I can do that. Yes, I’m in.” I saw Herb’s eyes light up with excitement and quickly silenced him as he mouthed ‘Group Hug!’, only to realize that he’d been muted, glaring at me accusatorily, mouthing ‘asshole!’
     
  7. Threadmarks: Spoiler 5.9
    Leecifer

    Leecifer (Fan)Fiction Writer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    172,214
    Spoiler 5.9

    “With how tense things might get, I need you to be professional,” I told my companions, now in costume as we approached Somer’s Rock.

    Purity frowned, offended, an expression that I could only read as my Power Sight dampened the Light from her power. “I don’t know what you think I’ll do, but I can be professional!”

    I blinked in surprise, pointing at the other member of our party, “What? No. I was talking to him.”

    “I know. If you need me to be professional, I’ll be professional,” Herb nodded sagely. I gave him a look. “No matter how much of a fuckin’ dumbass they are,” he amended. “I’ll try to swoon this wonderful morning sun another day.”

    “You do that,” I responded dryly, ignoring Purity’s somewhat uncomfortable “Um?” Walking in, the inside was as dingy as the outside, and I was glad my powers made me disease-proof. A large table was set in the center of the floor. Waving happily to the bartender, who scowled in return, I took a seat at one end of the table. The waitress walked over, pushing a notepad at me, on which I wrote down ‘cola’.

    Looking to the other members of my team Purity shook her head. “I don’t want anything. Thank you.”

    Herb smiled at Kayden, reaching into his bag, producing a bottle. “I brought water. Fiji.”

    She looked at him, surprised, before nodding, taking one as she visibly realized that he too could see her, giving him a tentative smile. The waitress plopped my drink in front of me, looking at me in confusion when I handed her a twenty and held up a hand when she moved to give me change. Her expression didn’t lighten, but it might’ve un-soured.

    Maybe.

    A little.

    A minute later the Undersiders walked in as a group, Grue and Tattletale at the front, both freezing when they saw us. Grue recovered first, moving with most of his team to take seats at a side table, starting to glance at Taylor before stopping himself. Tattletale didn’t move, staring at me before wincing, turning to look between Break and Purity. Kayden was keeping an eye on the teenagers while Herb tried to make small talk, both of them standing away from me, leaning against the bar. As Herb made a comment on how he wondered if Kaiser’s power to create blades was a comment on how he felt like he needed to compensate for something, and Purity tried not to smile, the Thinker loudly declared: “Bullshit. No. This is just Bullshit!”

    I smiled as Herb finally noticed the Undersiders, the man checking that no one else had showed up before giving them a smile and a wave. “No need to swear,” I gently but firmly rebuked.

    The purple-clad teen looked at me in outrage, motioning towards my teammates, “But! She’s-!”

    “Tattletale, she hasn’t been a member of the E88 in two years, that’s why she’s sitting next to her teammate, who happens to be African-American.” I looked at her, narrowing my eyes but unable to suppress a smirk. “Tattletale, are you a racist? Is this a tale that needs to be told? What would other people,” I looked significantly at Grue, “think about how your racial bigotry might affect your teammates. Do we need to be worried about Grue, or anyone else that’s covered in black? Does the red of my costume make you think I want to open a casino?”

    “You need to shut up,” She ground out, pointing at me, but making no move to get closer.

    I put a hand to my chest, sighing in mock sadness, my words carrying the hint of a threat, “Honestly, it’s you that needs to, little miss ‘Psychic’, or do we need to revisit what happens when you speak before you think?”

    Tattletale gave an inarticulate noise of ill-repressed rage before stomping over to her teammates, while Regent chuckled. I looked at Purity and nodding my head towards Taylor, indicating her as the person on our side and someone to protect if things went bad, and got an answering nod in return.

    A few minutes after that I heard the clanking of steel from outside. Sure enough, the metal man himself walked in, twin statuesque blondes on either arm, with a cool confidence which shattered as soon as he stepped through the doorway, armored in an interlocking lattice of blades, and saw who was waiting for him.

    My Power Sight Saw the Iron and Steel flames of his power as Metal Creation, with the same warp and weft that my power informed me meant the ability was Safety Locked, or Manton Limited in the local parlance, just as Vista’s power was. His face was mostly covered, but the parts that weren’t were red with rage as he saw Purity sitting next to and conversing with Herb, likely easily reading her repressed amusement and blatant dismissal of him. As he struggled with himself the blades of his costume grew slightly, causing the twins to let go, which was all my power needed to grab a copy of his power.

    The leader of the local Neo-Nazis stepped fully into the bar, turning away from my teammates, freezing once more as he saw me casually sitting, likely in the spot he had planned to take. Turning to the other end of the table he strode over in what I’m sure he thought was an imperious stride, but just looked like a metal peacock strutting to me. He sat smoothly at the foot of the table, trying to make it the new head, commenting, “I didn’t expect to see any heroes here,” making the word sound like a slur. The rest of the E88 contingent came in, all of them looking between Purity and Kaiser in confusion before settling in the seats behind him.

    “Oh, I’m sorry, I was under the impression that this was to discuss a truce, which is why I’m present, even if the Protectorate are too stupid to send a representative themselves,” I commented blandly.

    Kaiser looked like he tasted something sour, but only said, “I’m glad to see you were wise enough to answer my call,” causing Herb to laugh.

    He didn’t attempt any additional sophomoric power moves and sat there in silence, ordering a drink. Looking over the German Appreciation Club contingent, I Saw their powers. The twins in fantasy Valkyrie armor both had Personal Size Manipulation, which allowed them to grow themselves, and Projectile Size Manipulation to shrink incoming missiles, changing the strength of the affected item accordingly. An older man in a simple costume had a Friction Field paired with low level Personal Force Enhancement, the field smoothing and enhanced the motions of his allies while hindering his foes.

    Hookwolf had an alternate form, the name of the power not translating smoothly into English, giving him a core he could generate metal from, which he then controlled, and could stow his body into. With this versatile power he chose to make a wolf made of hooks, and nothing else. I looked at this waste of potential and was sadly unsurprised. No wonder Stormtiger and Cricket were his followers, all three had awesome uncapped powers they did nothing with.

    The last woman in their group was clad in a black cloak, hood, mask, bodysuit, and high heeled boots, leaving only her eyes exposed. Her power turned her into a #####, the word if it was a word, not registering in my mind, only getting the sense of screeching clicks and the sensation of feeling something on a sense I didn’t possess. The ##### form was limited to prevent identification, forcing her into a human form if observed. Her opposite number was dressed similarly, except male, lacking the heels, and was clad in greys. His was the power of Physical Dispersal, manifesting as a particulate cloud, along with a sub ability to convert matter into more particulates to heal himself. These two, who must be Night and Fog, didn’t seem to care much about what was going on.

    As Kaiser and I sat, and he did his best to ignore my presence, like a small child, a man in a full-body black & white costume strolled in who had no powers whatsoever. The costume’s only decoration was a white snake pattern that started around one ankle before wrapping up and around him as it seemed to coil- oh, I get it. Anyways, it coiled itself around his body, resting itself over the top of his face. I stared at the actor pretending to be Calvert, and hid a sigh of relief.

    I’d known Coil was going to send a double, but I had been worried that he’d equip his stand-in with a camera and comms, allowing him his usual shenanigans, but from the skin-tightness of his costume, to the point where I could see the man’s ribs, that wasn’t going to be an issue. The double looked between Kaiser and I unsure, before moving to take a position in the middle, probably trying to pull off the whole ‘Last Supper’ thing.

    Given the way the table had been set up, diagonally across the floor, it didn’t work.

    Not-Coil nodded to me, which I returned pleasantly, and to Kaiser, who gave the barest of nods in return, clearly annoyed that he’d been addressed second. I rolled my eyes. More positioning bullshit, I thought, though I could just barely hear Herb behind me, enhancing the sound to listen in as he quietly gave a blow-by-blow commentary to Purity on all the social dominance moves as they were made, his assessments pretty much in line with mine.

    Next to enter was a woman who looked to be about my age, wearing an interesting mix of armor and cloth, a welding mask on her head, but pushed up revealing her face, with a long black ponytail trailing behind. From a combat perspective, I could see the design choices. Her armor was practical, and her gloves looked weighted, which would help enhance any hand-to-hand combat she got into. The cloth, giving the illusion of a dress, was cut in a way that wouldn’t hamper movement, but possibly hide the positioning of her legs.

    The design would’ve been indecent had she not been wearing armored pants underneath, but it gave the entire thing a feminine appearance, which I appreciated. Her Blue and Red flames of Severance blazed around her, and peering at it further my Sight informed me she was limited to non-living matter as a safety precaution, just like Missy and Kaiser. Faultline stepped in, her team behind her, and she, just like everyone else, froze when she saw me.

    Actually, I realized, it wasn’t me she was staring at, but Herb. She gazed at him, eyes narrowed, before turning and walking to sit to the right of Kaiser, giving a half-hearted sneer at Tattletale. The four that followed her were interesting.

    First was obviously Newter, the Orange and Yellow Aura around him giving him Physical Enhancement as well as the ability to create Hallucinogenic Slime both based on the fire-bellied newt. Gregor the Snail had the Grey and Brown aura of Chemical Manipulation, limited to his own internal structure, as well as Physical Enhancement of his own, patterned off snails. I had to wonder if this was the Thinker Entity’s hand at play, making her powers take after themes found in our planet’s ecosystem, instead of the Warrior Entity’s more basic and blunt ‘Go fight stuff!’ approach, or if it were just coincidence.

    The other two were Scion Triggers, and following my theory weren’t animal aligned at all. The first wasa woman in a red and black fire suit, wearing an odd gas mask, who had the Yellow & White flames of Pyrophoric Chemical Projection, and the smaller blonde girl in a mask holding the first woman’s hand had Green and Blue flames that burned in fractal patterns that were hard to look directly at. The girl’s Pocket Dimension held tight around her, constantly rewriting reality around her feet but retracting as she moved. My power wanted to grasp onto it, almost drawn to it, but I held it back.

    As far as I was concerned, copying villain powers was fair game, but copying hero powers I didn’t need was something I wouldn’t do now that I had my identities set up. Faultline and her crew, despite their mercenary nature, where at least possibly heroes, so I’d afford them the benefit of the doubt for now. Looking at her, I noticed Labyrinth staring at me behind her mask, her secondary power of Dimensional Sensing a spotlight latching onto my costume. She started to walk towards me, but Spitfire herded her to the table Gregor & Newter had claimed, while the older woman shot me a hostile, questioning look as if I should explain myself.

    Next was someone who could only be Æonic, confidently striding in as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Thankfully his head wasn’t a clock, but instead a full-face helmet, the front white with a clock design, hands set to midnight, two dark spots where his eyes were, the sides of the helm textured to look like oak. He sported a full Victorian suit: Black jacket and pants, with a closed silk vest patterned with pocket watches, under a clean white shirt, a white jumpsuit under it covering his neck and hands. Seeing his power made my eyes water, the strength and intensity of the flames something that I’d only seen in Herb.

    The inferno his power made was Electric Blue and literally Sand, flashing into a new position every second exactly. Not only that, but he appeared to have four powers, which should’ve been impossible, whatever I told Panacea. He had a Temporal Bubble, which was what Boardwalk probably got caught in, Glimpse, which was detailed as combat precognition, Schrodinger, which was medium-scale quantum super-positioning, and-

    What. The. Fuck. My thought process crashed to a halt as the words “Peak Condition” flashed across my mind, a power I was very familiar with as it was the same power Herb and I had! I missed whatever he said to the villains gathered, casually sitting to my left, commenting in a voice that seemed oddly familiar, “Didn’t expect to see heroes here. Awesome.”

    “If it’s a truce to stop the city from getting blown up, I’m all for working with the other side,” I responded automatically, trying to process what I’d just seen. “The Protectorate would be here if they weren’t complete morons.” At my comment he turned to look at me sharply, before he shrugged, waving off the waitress. As he did so I shot a glance to Herb, who was also staring at him in thought, but shook his head at my look. Grue moved and sat to my right, looking between Æonic and myself. I shrugged back, not able to answer whatever his question might be.

    Before he could ask regardless I heard a familiar voice calling, “Sup Bitches! The Merchants are here so we can get this party fuckin’ started!” Standing in the doorway was Skidmark, and Squealer, along with what looked to be a goblin with pink skin. The Pink and Grey guttering flame of the goblin’s Adaptive Armoring was barely present, his Enhanced Malleable Physiology almost nonexistent. I looked at what must be Mush, and as I peered deeper into his power, I Saw that nowhere in his power was there the form-locking component that Gregor and Newt had. As far as I could tell, staring at the components of his power, he looked like that because he expected to look like that, and his power complied, which was just depressing.

    He caught me staring and shied away from my gaze, looking ashamed, and the sound of a chair hitting the ground broke my focus. The ‘track’-star pointing at Grue and demanding to know why he was there.

    Faultline, expression bored and neutral, though with an undercurrent of hidden attention, directed a hand towards the head of the Undersiders and responded, “His team hit the Brockton Bay Central Bank a week ago. You could just ask Vejovis. He failed to stop them.” I smiled broadly and nodded, which got odd looks from several of the capes. “They’ve gone up against Lung several times in the past and they’re still here, which is better than most. Not even counting the events of a week ago, Grue knows about the ABB and he can share that information,” her eyes flicked to Herb, before she focused back on Skidmark, “with the rest of us.”

    “What about this shit felcher?” Skidmark asked, pointing at Æonic, who just laughed. Again, I got a sense of Deja-vu, the sound just felt off.

    “I’ve hit ten of the angsty baby boy’s strongholds this week,” the boy, and it was a boy, bragged. “All you shits have done is hide in your hole and run away from your problems, but nothing new there. Bitch,” he taunted, his crude language at odds with his refined costume.

    “What’d you call me ya fucking knob gobbler!?” Skidmark demanded, fists going up.

    Æonic laughed again, shaking his head. “If I wanted I could take you pissant junkies down in less time it takes you to blink. But we’re here under truce, so I won’t.” With his power he could I realized, and I mentally commanded my costume to invisibly cover my exposed skin, just in case things went bad.

    Skidmark, with what few braincells he had left, pointed at me instead, trying his luck a third time demanding, “What about you! I know you shouldn’t be here ya scrotum-licking fudge-packing wanker!”

    On one level I wanted him to keep going, as he was getting increasingly inventive, but we needed to get down to business. To defeat, the Huns! my brain completed, which wasn’t exactly wrong. I smiled, making sure to show more teeth than was necessary.

    “We’re under truce, as Æonic said,” I replied, “and if we weren’t I would immediately try to take you down, as people who peddle drugs to children are just above rapists to me,” I commented pleasantly. “And if, by some miracle, I wasn’t able to subdue you, I’d just kill you, which is the far easier proposition. Though given that none of you have managed to pass through the revolving door that is our current legal system yet, I’d rather not.”

    I opened my arms, indicating those gathered. “But that’s not why we’re here, so take a seat like a civilized person, or slink out the door like a coward. Your choice.”

    As opposed to sitting next to the white supremacist, and just taking the very next seat down the table, which sat across from Coil, like I’d meant he should, Skidmark pushed over another chair, muttered about this being bullshit, and sat at a booth away from the rest of us. I rolled my eyes at the move, thinking, There was no reason for him to try kicking others out in the first place unless he wanted to start shit, or as a power move against Kaiser, which was just stupid as the man has the ego of a spoiled toddler. Now fecal-stain’s whining about racists. I bet if he were a woman she’d be bitching about ‘The Patriarchy’.

    As the waitress put the chairs back and took everyone’s orders, I sipped my watered-down soda and waited. Right as it looked like we were finally going to get started a smug voice called out “I’ll be taking a seat, I think.” Glancing over I saw a man in a red mask and top hat, the Eggplant Purple & Seafoam Green aura of Transposition surrounding him. As he walked in, his three companions followed him in, all clad head to toe in red and black.

    First of all, there was a girl with stylized sun decals. Her main power was Stellar Creation, with a secondary of Stellar Negation, capable of normalizing heat and radiation to earth normal levels within five feet of her if she tried, the Bright Yellow & Burnt Orange of her aura dimly extending in that range around her.

    The other man, whose costume was bulky and angular body armor, to the point he looked almost like an old video game character, possessed the Brown and Grey aura of Momentum Infusion, Safety Locked to inorganic matter, which I hadn’t seen in a Cauldron Cape before. Behind all of them was a six-armed gorilla, who didn’t appear to have any powers whatsoever.

    I knew it was Genesis, but my Power Sight, for better or worse, didn’t work on projections. Sadly, the fact that I couldn’t follow the trail of power from a projection back to the Master who created it meant that The Siberian wouldn’t be as easy to neutralize as I’d hoped. As I considered this, I didn’t pay attention to the byplay Trickster had with the man pretending to be Coil. It was even odds they were already in his employ, and this was all a show to announce their presence to the city and to explain why they were working with Coil at a later date.

    Not-Coil took the Gendo Ikari pose, which wasn’t nearly as effective without glasses, and spoke smoothly from behind interwoven fingers as if he were an actor reciting lines, which he probably was. “That should be everyone. Seems Lung won’t be coming, though I doubt any of us are surprised, given the subject of tonight’s discussion.”

    “The ABB,” Kaiser added completely unnecessarily, which, flexing my Acoustokinesis, I could hear Herb explaining to Purity that her ex-husband was doing so because: “God forbid someone else in the room talks without him getting the last word in.”

    “Over four hundred individuals confirmed dead, and well over a thousand hospitalized,” Not-Coil paused, voice losing a bit of his smoothness as he improvised, “And the death count being as low as it currently sits, as well as the populace not understanding the impact of how bad the situation could otherwise be, is solely due to the efforts of Vejovis, as well as Panacea.” I was still going to put a bullet in Coil’s brain, but this actor seemed like a nice enough dude, I mused, giving him a thumbs up.

    He nodded to me, continuing with his pre-prepared lines, “We have armed presences on the streets. Ongoing exchanges of gunfire between ABB members, the E88 defending themselves, and the combined forces of the police and military. They have raided our businesses and bombed places where they even think we might be operating. They have attempted to seize our territories, and there’s no indication they intend to stop anytime soon.”

    “It is inconvenient,” Kaiser added, and I could pick up a snort of laughter from Purity at Herb’s “Told you.”

    Faultline agreed with disgust, “They’re being reckless,” which wasn’t wrong. If they’d gone for some gains and then pulled back, they could’ve taken a bit more territory and waited for their next opportunity, using their explosives frugally. Instead they’d gone all or nothing, and it’s what would lead to their destruction as a power in the city, just as in canon.

    Not-Coil nodded to Faultline, “Which is the real concern. The ABB can’t sustain this. Something will give, they will self-destruct sooner or later, and they will cease to be an issue. Had things played out differently, we could look at this as a good thing. Our problem is that the actions of the ABB are drawing attention to our fair city. All of the new Triggers are also flocking to the Protectorate instead of taking more reasonable offers. As they are mostly minorities, and given the disposition of the most visible criminal power here, this is not unexpected.” Kaiser smiled unrepentantly. “All of the new Triggers, with one notable exception.” He nodded to Æonic who gave a careless shrug, gaining the surprised attention of those assembled. They assumed he was just hiding until now and seized on the opportunity, I realized. Not that he went from ‘I have powers’ to ‘I’m running a gang’ in a little less than a week.

    Not-Coil sighed dramatically, continuing as Kaiser tried to comment, talking over the man, a move which again caused Purity to suppress a laugh. “But it is worse than just an influx of bothersome heroes. Homeland Security and the military will soon establish a temporary presence to assist in maintaining order. Heroes will flock to the city to support the Protectorate in regaining control of matters. It will make business difficult. Then, the confrontation happened a few nights ago, which I’m sure you’ve all seen. The PRT are on high alert, and there are rumors that one of the Triumvirate will be coming if things don’t improve soon. Not only that, but we have ten days before martial law is declared.”

    I blinked at the deviation from Canon. This was new. “Bakuda is at the center of this,” Grue added, the two of us having discussed this, and how it would be better for everyone if they didn’t know that the Penumbral Defenders and the Undersiders were responsible for her death. “Lung is the leader, but this is her doing. She ‘recruited’ by orchestrating raids of people’s homes while they slept, subduing them, and implanting bombs in their heads. She then used those bombs to coerce her victims into kidnapping more. She had no less than three hundred in total, before something went wrong. Every single one of her soldiers knows that if they don’t obey, then as soon as Bakuda solves whatever went wrong, she can detonate the bombs. Any who haven’t fled are willing to put their lives on the line, because the alternatives are either certain death or watching their loved ones die for their failure. Taking her down, and whatever is controlling them, is our ultimate goal, but she claimed she’s rigged her bombs to go off the second her heart stops, so it’s a little more complicated than a simple assassination.”

    He grabbed something from his jacket, the details of what it was obscured by his darkness, and I resisted the urge to tap into his power to see it. Withdrawing a set of CD cases he continued, “She videotaped the ambush she pulled on my group a week ago and left it behind when she ran. I’ve made copies. Maybe you’ll find it useful for getting a better understanding of her.” Motioning for Taylor, she handed out a disk to everyone at the table before taking her place. Æeonic’s body language showed surprised amusement, Faultline looked approving, Trickster looked bored, Not-Coil showed nothing, and Kaiser accepted it like a king receiving tribute.

    “So,” Not-Coil said, cracking each knuckle on his right hand individually. That seems. . . odd. I observed. Does Coil do that and the actor copied him, is the actor embellishing, or was the actor told to do that, with Coil setting that up as something that Thomas Calvert doesn’t do so Coil can’t be him. “We’re in agreement?” the actor asked. “The ABB cannot be allowed to continue operating.”

    Everyone agreed in their own way. I half-considered giving an “Of course!” worthy of M. Bison, but simply nodded.

    “Then I suggest we establish a truce,” Not-Coil proposed. “Not just everyone here, but between ourselves and the law. I would contact authorities and let them know that, until this matter is cleared up, our groups will restrict our illegal activities to only what is absolutely essential to our businesses, and we will enforce the same for those doing business in our territories. That would let police forces and the military focus entirely on the ABB. There would be no violence, infighting between our groups, grabs for territory, thefts, or insults. We band together with those we can tolerate for guaranteed victory, and we ignore those we cannot cooperate with.”

    “Just saying my group won’t be getting directly involved in this without a reason,” Faultline spoke, ever the mercenary. If she fought me I’d try not to kill her people, but I had a feeling she was just angling to get paid. “We won’t be going after the ABB unless they get in my way or someone pays my rates. It’s the only workable policy when you’re a cape for hire. Also, just so we’re clear, if it’s the ABB paying, my team’s going to be on the other side of things.”

    “Unfortunate, but you and I can talk after this meeting is done. I’d prefer to keep matters simple,” Not-Coil immediately responded, magnanimously, before anyone else could get a word in, as he’d surely been told to, “You’re okay with the other terms?”

    “Keeping on the down-low, not kicking up a fuss with other groups? That’s status quo with my group anyways,” the woman nodded.

    The actor nodded. “Good. Kaiser?”

    “I think that is acceptable,” Kaiser agreed, head held high and not quite looking down his nose at us.

    “I was talking to my group about doing something not too different from what Coil just proposed,” Grue spoke, nodding a head towards me, “Yeah, we’re cool with it.”

    “Sure,” Trickster said, “not a problem. We’re in.”

    “I can spare some time,” Æonic quipped.

    Those assembled looked at me expectantly, though Kaiser was trying not to be obvious about it. I smiled, this time warmly. “If those with power wish to act as heroes, I will always help them.” I grabbed my business cards and tossed one to each of the leaders present, only cheating with air control a little to get them to stop in front of each person, placing a small stack in the center of the table. Kaiser didn’t pick his up, but one of the Valkyries did, and, while they pretended they weren’t interested, the rest disappeared up sleeves and into pockets as well.

    With that done, everyone shook hands with everyone else, Kaiser making a show of not shaking my hand, the little bitch. I made a point of walking over to Skidmark and shaking his hand, to his surprise, though I was glad my glove was self-cleaning.

    As we all took our seats once more, Not-Coil moved to close the meeting. “Then that’s our major piece of business concluded tonight. Anything else before we go our separate ways? Offers, announcements, grievances?”

    The E88’s uninspired guard dog decided to bark, “I’ve got a complaint.” Hookwolf waited until everyone’s attention was on him before continuing. Drama Queen. “My complaint’s with her,” he announced, looking towards the Undersiders, which considering that there was only a single guy at their table, didn’t help in the slightest. He probably wasn’t referring to Imp, who I couldn’t see drinking Alec’s soda, but still, that left three other girls.

    “What’s the issue?” Grue asked calmly, subconsciously producing more darkness.

    “The crazy one, Hellhound, she-”

    “Bitch,” Bitch interrupted him, establishing social dominance like a boss, “only the panty-ass heroes call me Hellhound. It’s Bitch.”

    “Don’t fucking care,” Hookwolf growled, probably only subconsciously aware of what just happened. “You attacked my business. Set your fucking dog on my customers. Lucky I wasn’t there, whore.”

    Really. Whore? That’s the best you got? I wondered, then chided myself, asking for originality from Hookwolf. The guy who named himself literally the thing he was. That would be like Kaiser calling himself Steelblade, or Purity saying her name was Lightblast.

    From Grue’s look he had no idea what Bitch was doing, another mark against his leadership skills. While Herb went off and did stuff all the time, he wasn’t my subordinate, as Grue obviously considered Bitch. “That’s the kind of risk you run, doing business in Brockton Bay,” Brian remarked. “Capes can and will get in your way, hero or villain.”

    Hookwolf glared at him. “It’s a matter of respect,” he said, like he would give anyone that wasn’t white the very thing he was asking for. “You want to fuck with my business, and we’re not at war? You let me know if you’ve got an issue, first. Let me decide if I want to move shop.”

    I cut off Bitch before she could escalate this. “Oh, does this mean you asked permission of all the other groups before you set them up in the first place? You get the respect you give Hookwolf.” I informed him, ignoring his growl. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t call it cute was I knew he’d lose his shit. “Besides, Snake-man just finished talking about how during the truce we’d strip down to the minimum of criminal activities. If you’re asking for complete compliance and cessation of activities, does this mean that you’ll stop harassing gays and minorities. Or the Merchants will stop selling drugs. The truce is on general crime. I won’t go out on patrol, but if I see you trying to make some strange fruit, I’m going to beat your shit in.”

    I looked around the room, addressing everyone, ignoring his schoolyard “I’d like to see you try.” “Individual capes are known for having some things they can’t abide,” I explained capturing their attention. “For me in particular, it’s rape. If the Wolf and the Bitch want to duke it out on their own, fine, but with the truce we won’t be bringing our teams to the fight each other, and let’s not pair up people that can’t work together. Now, given that we have about a week to get this done before this city is turned into even more of a war-zone than it already is, we should abide by the very terms of the agreement we just shook on. Everyone got that?”

    As most of those present nodded, Kaiser, who had been getting increasingly annoyed at how Not-Coil and I seemed to be running the meeting, ground out, “You’re not in charge here, hero.”

    I looked at him as if he were particularly thick. “Neither are you, dumbass. Hey Skidmark, you get the jist of the truce?”

    “Fuck you!” he called, but his response was lacking in the victimized anger he normally mainlined.

    “Not my type, but did you get it?” I volleyed back, smiling.

    “Fuck yes I got it you shit-sniffing hobo-wanker!” he called, sounding surly.

    I smiled wider, this was too fun. “See, even the meth-head got it. I’m sure your people will figure it out, being the superior race and all. Do we have anything else to talk about that wasn’t already covered by the truce?” No one said anything. “Good! When you guys, and gals, get ready to raid something, gimme a call. If I find something, I’ll try and get word to your organizations.” I beamed a sunny smile at everyone, standing up, the other leaders standing with me. Kaiser, probably not wanting to follow my lead or something, remained seated.

    Not-Coil walked over to Trickster, who’d joined the rest of the Travelers. For a second, I considered walking over and trying to pre-empt him, but I don’t have anywhere that could hold Noelle, much less help her, so that’d be something to take care of the future. Seeing Æonic beeline for the door, I followed him, Herb and Purity falling into step behind me. I needed to find out who he was, and why he was breaking what I had assumed were rules of the world the same way we were.

    “Hey, Æonic!” I called, encircling the four of us in a sound bubble, “I need to ask you something.”

    “Yeah, what is it?” he responded, turning around, and what was bothering me about him finally clicked.

    “Charlie?” I asked, narrowing my eyes. “Charlie Rycroft?

    “What the fuck!?” he sputtered as an accent I didn’t realize he had been faking dropped. “How the fuck do you know my name!?” my little brother demanded.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Interlude 5.x (Chuck)
    Leecifer

    Leecifer (Fan)Fiction Writer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    172,214
    Interlude 5.x (Chuck)

    Charlie Rycroft sighed as he got up, stretching. The injuries he’d picked up during his first night in Brockton Bay still hurt, even three days later, though popping a pill helped, and he had enough for the next month, easily. He busied himself around the apartment he’d rented deep in in E88 territory as Benjamin Franklin the 8th.

    Having to shill out almost a grand to avoid a background check had been painful, but he had a lot more, though he wasn’t going to be repeating the experience he’d gone through to get it if he could afford to.

    He laughed to himself at the pun.

    A quick shit, shower, but still no shave, dammnit, and he was ready to face the day. He was tempted to spend another day hiding out, but if he stayed inside for another hour with no one to talk to he was going to go nuts.

    Well, more nuts.

    He still had no idea how the hell he got here, and why the hell this world was so messed up. Sure, superpowered villains, but come on, no one thought to snipe? That was like, combat one-oh-one! Camping was the move of a total newb, but this game was rigged, so why the fuck not?

    Opening the drawer he’d stuck a small armory in, covered by a few t-shirts he’d picked up, he considered taking along a weapon. Go out without a weapon, or run the risk of getting harassed by the cops. Chuck snorted, grabbing an SMG, slinging its harness to be covered by his jacket. I’m in Nazi territory, the cops aren’t gonna do shit.

    Half an hour later, surrounded by skinheads, he couldn’t help to remark to himself, Well, I wasn’t wrong. “Who the fuck do ya think you are kid, carrying a piece in our city!” the lead baldy asked, shoving Chuck back, only for another to shove him forward back into the center.

    He was surprised that he wasn’t as scared as he should be. A part of that was the fact that he was six-foot-five, and the thug, might be six feet, so he had to look up to threaten him, but it was more the lack of firepower.

    The thugs somehow knew he was carrying, but they seemed to think it was pistol. A couple of the thugs had pistols, but other than that it was knives and sticks, making Chuck the heaviest armed person here, and ever since he’d gotten here, all the lessons on martial arts and marksmanship his brother had tried to teach him had just clicked.

    Pfft, I can take ‘em, some part of his mind observed, as the rest of his mind screamed ARE YOU HIGH! to that suicidally overconfident voice.

    “I don’t want any trouble,” he said instead, raising his hands to chest level, ready to grab his gun if he needed, but he really didn’t want to. This was the last safe, well, safe-ish part of the city, and he had a feeling that if he wanted answers, he had to stay here.

    Gunning down a bunch of the local gangsta’s would probably be the opposite of helpful.

    “Then give us your piece, and your money, and we might let you go. Be glad you aren’t a nigger.” The thug peered at him. “You’re not a Jew, are you?”

    Like I’d say yes if I was! Chuck thought, mind spinning to try to find a way to de-escalate the situation. Maybe if they think I’m part of their tribe or something?

    His face screwed up in disgust over what he was about to say, though he guessed he could sell it as disgust at them for what they were suggesting. “Do I look like a fuckin’ kike?” He just felt dirty saying that, but if it let him walk away? Fuck it.

    “Fine, give us your gun and your wallet and you can go,” the leader informed him, like he was doing him a favor, as if Chuck was just going to do that.

    Like I can believe that. Sure, just give up your gun and you’ll be safe. That always goes well! Shit, I need to go on the offensive. “Fuck you Dumbass, I thought this was E88 territory, and you’re shaking me down like I’m some fuckin Jap? That a tan, or are you just a particularly creamy ape?” he accused.

    Repressing his gag at his language, Chuck glared at the leader. As the other Nazi’s started looking at their leader thoughtfully, he had to congratulate himself, deciding to study that database of racial slurs was paying off, even if half of them made no sense.

    Like, Darky, yeah, they had dark skin. Unoriginal as fuck, but what did you expect from racists? Their powers of observation were literally skin-deep. Coon though, that made no sense. Racoons were just as white as they were black, if not more, though they were mostly grey.

    Did they think black people were really inventive, had a lot of dexterity, or maybe stole stuff from trash cans?

    As the leader started to sputter incoherently, one of the other Neo-Nazis was staring at Chuck in a way that worried him. Grabbing his phone, the thug held it up, looking between it and Chuck, before his eyes went wide. “Holy shit it’s him!” he yelled, showing the guys on either side of him, who looked at the phone before looking back at Chuck, happy about it.

    “Fuck, it is! That’s BadBoySlayer888!” one of them yelled, the phone getting passed around. Chuck repressed a wince. He did not want to get connected to that clusterfuck. The leader looked at the phone, before he looked at Chuck, impressed and a little scared.

    “Fuck, I’m sorry man, I didn’t know. Why didn’t you say you were one of us?” the asshole actually goddamned apologized.

    “I’m not!” Chuck said before he could help it. They looked confused, and some looked hurt, and what did hurt racists do? Nothing good, that’s for sure. He clarified, “I haven’t joined E88, but I don’t need to, to kill some fuckin’,” he paused, trying to think of a good one, “Ching Chong Chinks!”

    As the crowd roared in approval, he had to keep himself, from just grabbing the gun and opening fire on these pieces of human filth.

    What kind of person thinks what I just said is good!?

    Though he had his answer, fucking Nazis, and the almost worshipful ways a couple looked at him made him want to vomit. The worst part was the fact that the adulation was still adulation, and the approval made some part of him feel good, which just made the rest of him feel worse.

    “Ya mean you did that without anyone backin ya?” one of them asked, impressed. Chuck’s uncaring shrug just made them like him more.

    . . . Yay?


    <AB>


    The next afternoon Chuck was back in his room, trying to lay low.

    On the bright side, he now knew he was safe here. On the other side, he couldn’t walk more than three blocks without some asshole happily saying hello to him, which just made him feel worse every time it happened. For the third time that hour someone knocked on his door. Somehow they’d found where he’d lived, and kept dropping by to congratulate him for killing people for what they thought was the color of their skin.

    He didn’t grab a shotgun, mostly because he was worried he’d shoot the Darwin Award contestant who came to express their amazement at his disgusting act of racism. He growled as he opened the door; “Wha. . .” He trailed off, staring at the three distinctive Nazis in front of him. To the left was a guy dressed in only baggy pants with vanity chains like some emo teen and a tiger mask. To the right was a really fit blonde chick covered in scars with a metal cage over her head, mostly obscuring her face. Front and center though, was a greasy looking guy, also shirtless, wearing jeans, boots, and a metal wolf mask.

    From his research, especially focused now that he seemed to be skinhead catnip, Chuck recognized the E88’s heavy hitters, Stormtiger, Cricket, and Hookwolf. “Hi?” he squeaked.

    Hookwolf stared up at him, and Chuck realized that being taller than the crazed killer might not be a good thing. “Heard a bitch here said he was the one that made that video. You him?”

    Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit. “Yes?” Chuck hazarded, voice breaking a little.

    Stormtiger snorted. “Doesn’t sound like it.”

    “You show me proof, or I show you your heart,” Hookwolf informed the teen. There was a growl to his words, but almost a bored one.

    “Um, sure, gimme a sec?” Chuck asked stepping back, Hookwolf following before he had a chance to close the door. Not like that would help versus someone who could turn into a wolf made of hooks! Mind you, as far as names went, it was one of the stupidest goddamn things he’d ever fucking heard. Stahlhund, Kettensage, hell Direwolf would have been better, since his form was as big as one, and if you fought him you were in dire circumstances.

    He wasn’t going to tell the crazed killer that to his face though, but still, where’s the creativity? At least Stormtiger was a kind of tank AND he could kinda make storms. Sorta. He finished his critique as he found the blood-stained jacket and panda mask, hidden in the back of his closet. Bringing it out Hookwolf grabbed it, sniffing it before tossing it to Stormtiger, who did the same, nodding. Do they have super smelling or something?

    “What’s your power?” Hookwolf demanded.

    Chuck froze, thinking if he should lie, but then he’d have to show off, so it wasn’t worth it. He shrugged instead, trying to make his voice sound tough. “D-Don’t have any.” That got their attention, the two men glancing to Cricket, who nodded.

    And they can tell if I’m lying? Then why the fuck did they need my jacket!?

    All three looked at him, impressed. Well, probably. Their faces were covered. He hoped they were impressed. Chuck felt like he should say something. “Didn’t need powers, just shot ‘em and they died like,” he paused, about to say dogs, but that guy called himself a wolf so that might not work, “the yellow bastards they were.”

    “We could use people like you for the cause. Join, and we could get you healed and killing Coolies by tonight,” Hookwolf offered, a lazy interest in his voice, along with confidence that there was only one possible answer.

    Because, if he wanted to live, there was.

    Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck! Chuck panicked. They’re dragging me into this, and this feels like an offer I can’t refuse. Fuck. Think! Why did I choose a third-floor apartment? Can’t jump out a window. Not that it would help, dude turns into a wolf made out of hooks!

    He tried to figure out how to get out of this situation. Dudes look like they’re the ‘noble white warrior’ types, let’s go with that. Settling into that mindset, the response was obvious. “I’m honored, but I gotta ask, the healing, does it leave scars?” He knew it didn’t.

    The chick took out a fucking kama from her back, but instead of attacking him flipped it over, pressing the base to her throat, buzzing “No, it doesn’t”.

    Jackpot. “Then I’ll have to turn you down. I took these wounds in battle, and I want to feel them heal, and remember what I did wrong so I won’t make the same mistakes next time.” He doubled down, noticing the scars all three were almost proudly sporting. “And without scars, how will people know I am a warrior. I don’t exactly look like it yet.”

    They exchanged glances, and he hoped to god he hadn’t overplayed the part. “Take off your shirt.” Hookwolf demanded.

    Well, if they’re gonna kill me, doesn’t matter if I’m shirtless. He complied, Hookwolf almost negligently reaching down and ripping off the bandages as Chuck fought not to make a sound at the pain. The killer looked at his wounds before nodding.

    “Not bad. You’ll be fine to fight in two weeks. You’ll join then,” Hookwolf announced, sounding like he was smiling. With that he turned and stalked out the door, Stormtiger following him, trying to look bored just a little too hard.

    Cricket lingered, giving him a once over. “You’re out of shape,” she buzzed, “But I’ll get you fighting fit soon enough. Then we’ll have fun.

    She left as well, which was good as Charlie wasn’t sure if he should be offended because she called him fat, or, well, that almost sounded like flirting, and he had no idea how to take that.


    <AB>


    Chuck walked down the darkened street, frustrated, the panic that had been growing for the past few days at the back of his head making itself noted.

    He’d had two weeks to get the hell out of dodge, but as soon as he’d left the next morning, he’d noticed he’d picked up a tail. They were making sure he was around to join, or they’d probably kill him. To get away he needed to Randy Newman this bitch.

    Unfortunately, finding friends who weren’t Neo-Nazis was proving to be fucking impossible. This night he’d managed to shake his tail, heading downtown, going to a club to try to meet someone who could help. The first red flag should’ve been when the bouncer had stopped him from getting in line to get in, but instead of telling him to scram like the ones before, told him instead to go right inside.

    “What the hell, you’re letting a fifteen-year-old into the club?” one of the women in line had complained.

    Fuck you too! was his immediate response, but before he could say anything the bouncer shot back, “When you’ve killed half the people he has, you can bitch, bitch.” Fuck, that dude’s cool! Chuck thought, heading inside, not making the connection.

    Turns out, he found, the club was not somewhere to make friends. Between the bad lighting, the loud music, and the drunk people, friendly conversation wasn’t gonna happen. Most people wouldn’t give him the time of day. Those that would. . . well, while the offer to get blown in the bathroom was tempting, and he was still seventeen, not fifteen, but she only wanted to do it because of the entire killing Asians thing.

    He knew, because she nearly panted it, which killed the mood pretty fucking quickly.

    After two hours, and increasingly disturbing offers, he’d left and headed back to his apartment. It was the early hours of the morning, not even twilight, and the streets were pretty empty. He started to head to the crosswalk, but he noticed the power-box on the sidewalk was blinking. It stood out to him, because he’d never seen them have any light on them whatsoever. When it started beeping he started backing up. The ground rumbled, and he thought Fuck this, turning and running. A moment later he heard a deep grinding and ran faster, the ground shaking, the stone of the sidewalk starting to come apart.

    Leaping over part of the sidewalk that had split open, cracks appearing, he ran like hell as his footing started to loosen and disappear, the cars on the street sliding back the way he came, before a small thunderclap went off behind him, the force of whatever it was picking him up and tossing him down the street.

    Landing and rolling, burning off momentum in that weird way his body sometimes moved in this place, he sprang to his feet and looked back. Where used to be an intersection was a deep hole, Rubble, steel, and even some cars had been tossed in every direction, destroying the buildings closest to the blast and riddling everything around the site with debris. He heard a tinny ringing, but nothing else at first, his hearing slowly coming back as he started to hear the screams of people in the buildings, and from elsewhere in the city as he heard explosions, whooshes of flame, cracking noises, and a whole lot of other things.

    Deciding he wanted no part of this he took another street to go home. As he ran, he passed people coming out of their homes, looking around, and generally getting in his way. He ran out of breath after a couple blocks, stopping to pant as his chest hurt. As he bent over, he noticed a light under the parked car he was leaning against. It shown for a second, a brown light, and then started blinking.

    Blinking lights are never good, was his thought as he pushed himself to run again, pushing harder as it started fucking beeping. He yelled “Run!” as he fled, his legs felt leaden, but he pressed on, pushing past confused people and cursing his hatred of PE. It was only a second or two later that the beeping stopped and there was a great squelching sound.

    Turning to look as he leaned against a light post he saw the cars, walls, even the people that had stopped to stare behind him had lost all color three inches above the ground, the affected area having turned a dark brown, and looking to be made of the same material. The phenomena had spread out from the light in a hemisphere, and the asshole he’d had to push past a few feet back’s legs were affected, the man’s face scrunched up in confusion. The entire street seemed to freeze before it all collapsed, everything losing cohesion as the smell of mud hit his nose. The building nearest the, fuck, was that even a bomb? collapsed, stone and masonry collapsing into the street, splashing mud in every direction as the man started screaming, his bottom half liquid.

    As Chuck fell backwards something bounced by him. Reaching over to see what it was, the man’s screams of pain petering off to nothing, he brushed off the mud to find he was holding a woman’s foot, cut cleanly above the ankle and bleeding into the mud.

    Dropping it Chuck vomited, unable to handle what the fuck he was seeing. After a minute where he didn’t break down, just wanting to go back home, real home, to a place where there weren’t bombs that turned people to fucking wet dirt, he picked himself up, took a deep breath, and turned on his heel to go back to his fucking apartment. He spared a glance for the man, but he was dead, whether of shock or blood loss, he wasn’t sure, but it didn’t really matter now.

    Deciding that apparently the streets were a fucking deathtrap. He started taking alleys, another building collapsing into the mud behind him.

    That seemed to work, and he was two blocks away from safety when he tripped on something that he couldn’t see, a beeping coming from right beside him.

    “Fuck me!” Chuck swore as he bolted, pushing everything he had to get away as he heard a soft foomp and gravity turned sideways. Lunging to the side he clung onto a dumpster, he looked down at a black sphere hanging twenty feet in the air in the middle of the alley, pulling everything to it. The loose trash was drawn in, a trashcan bouncing off his head, making him see stars as he held on.

    After a second, the pull increased, and the dumpster started to slide backwards, towards the fucking singularity. Climbing to its top, side, whatever, Chuck jumped to hold onto a pipe attached to the side of the building, the dumpster picking up speed before it lifted off, crushing with a horrible sound as it fit itself into the basketball sized sphere.

    The metal beneath his hands started to bend, bolts popping loose as Chuck climbed to the right, up, away. Part of the pipe gave way, tearing and falling into the sphere, the mooring coming loose faster than he could climb as he heard breaking masonry and screaming. The pipe finally gave, and he flew back, flailing arms catching hard on a fire escape, which shuddered and started to groan and deform. His arms were on fire and his entire body felt heavy, his legs feeling like someone was squeezing them all over.

    The fire-escape tore itself out of what was left of the wall while he tried to climb it, not even getting more than a few feet away. As he was pulling back towards the hole in space, feeling his body squeezed, knowing he was going to die, the bomb cut out, and he was sent flying, landing on the concrete alley floor, and skidding as he heard something thunk like a dropped anvil, only worse.

    He laid on the ground, laughing, and crying, and just so done with this fucking place.

    Shakily getting to his feet, his legs felt like they were one massive bruise, but he could still walk. Gingerly stepping towards where the sphere had been he saw a tiny circular hole in the ground, maybe the size of a golfball, the concrete around it shattered. Taking out his phone he shone a light, and it went deep, farther than his light could carry. Finally looking around he saw the walls had been ripped away, as had been everything inside that wasn’t tied down. He heard sobbing, and the groans of the building on either side and decided that he didn’t want to stay there any longer than was necessary.

    The universe does things in threes, Chuck reassured himself. That’s three. I’m safe. I just need to go back to the apartment and go to sleep.

    Getting home, he pushed his way towards the front door. People were in the streets, moving everywhere. On one level that was fucking stupid, but apparently staying home could make you just as dead.

    He didn’t want to think of what happened to people that had been in the mud-ed buildings.

    Chuck entered his apartment building, cursing the fact that it was on the third fucking floor with every step, legs throbbing in pain in time with his heartbeat, lifting his pants slightly showing his flesh already turning dark, everything bruised. Fumbling with his keys, he opened the door, wearily locking it behind him.

    Stumbling in, he relaxed, glad to be home. Finally.

    He sat down at his desk, turning on his laptop to find out what the fuck was happening. Taking a deep breath, he was interrupted as his phone rang. He started to check his cell, only to realize the sound was coming from his bed. He let his landline ring, they could leave a fucking message, only to freeze as he realized he didn’t have one.

    Turning to look, he saw a black box sitting on his bed, the source of the sound. A holographic display appeared over the box, stating:


    For: BadBoySlayer888, The best of hugs!

    From: Bakuda, The best part of the ABB!
    Then the box started screeching. A horrible tearing, angry not-noise that dragged nails across the chalkboard of his sanity. From the box emerged. . . His brain refused to see exactly what they were, just going: It’s a Tentacle. Let’s call it a Tentacle, and nothing else. The Tentacles reached out from the box, grasping at everything. One raked across the wall, dark blue fungus springing up wherever it touched. Another Tentacle grasped onto his pillow, wrenching it back into the box, which wasn’t a box anymore. Yes it is! his mind told him. But if obviously wasn’t, it was a- It’s a BOX, just like those are Tentacles. He started to get up, to run, to get out, but his bed was between him and the door, as the Tentacles reached out towards him, questing, screeching, Staring.

    I should have just gotten eaten by that fucking black hole was his last thought, as certain death reached out to grasp him.


    <AB>


    Charlie found himself floating in space, but not outer space. He hung, bodiless, in a place with no beginning or end. Prismatic clouds drifted all around, twisting, and changing, but in a kinda peaceful way. Am I dead? Did it get me? Is this, well, it isn’t hell, is this Purgatory? Not having to run for his life was nice, but in an hour or two, this was going to get boring fast.

    After a minute, or maybe an eon, he had no frame of reference, something in the distance moved, the clouds flying past him away from it, or he moved towards it, again, no way to tell how. Something happened, and he reached a break in the mist. It was an open column in the clouds, and he passed over a mountain range that encircled a lake, the hole in the fog extending eternally upwards over it. Either he was tiny, or the mountain range was fucking huge because it took a while. Eventually, he passed it and flew out over the lake, which was glowing, full of shifting blues and greens, with hints of reds, yellows, and every other color in it, including ones that he’d never seen before, and couldn’t think of words to describe.

    He flew on, formless, looking around without eyes, until he reached the center, slowing to a stop. He waited, for an immeasurable age, and felt more than saw something moving. The mountain range started to move, spinning and shifting. As the largest mountain moved, rising into the air his mind reorganized what he was seeing, and if he still had breath, it would’ve caught in his throat. The mountains, the coils of a spiked snake so big he couldn’t understand, shifted, a head, the size of a moon, a planet, the sun, the goddamned solar system, rose to stare at him.

    Jörmungandr? He thought, getting a sense of bemused negation from everywhere at once.

    As it stared, something absolutely tiny detached itself from its head, so miniscule he could barely make it out. It moved towards him, slowly, with painstaking care. As it inched towards him it grew, slowly, from something the size of a speck of dust, to a blue stone he could hold in his hand, to something as big as he was. It grew, larger and larger, as it slowly moved towards him, only he realized it wasn’t taking its time, it was rocketing towards him so fast it was blueshifting. As it came closer he felt the air around him shaking, his vision blotting out before the crystal big enough to kill the dinosaurs, and growing.

    He wanted to scream, to run, to escape, to laugh hysterically this ridiculous amount of overkill but he couldn’t move, just float in this prismatic hell as a snake the size of the universe killed him with a rock big enough to destroy the sun! Just as the crystal, shifting from blue to a prismatic riot of multicolored death, was about to impact him, the world was consumed in flames of Neon Blue and Sand, and he felt a sense of amusement, mixed with Anticipation.


    <AB>



    The flames cleared, and he froze, a Tentacle an inch away from his face, but completely still. The screeching had stopped, and everything in the room was unmoving. Sliding away from it from where he’d fallen, he got to his feet, feeling good. Far better than he had any right to.

    Glancing out the window, he saw a distant bolt of lightning reaching up from the city into the sky, but heard no sound. Walking over to his window he looked out and saw that everything, and everyone, out in the street was frozen in place.

    A bit of movement caught his eyes and he saw people at the end of the street milling about fearfully as they stared at the frozen people. One guy was actively pulling at his arm, held in the air in front of him, which was completely motionless.

    Holy shit. Did I stop time? Looking at the Tentacles, hanging in the air, he grabbed a wooden spoon and approached one of the limbs, poking it. Immediately the spoon started to sprout blue mushrooms. Jumping back and letting go of the utensil. It hung in the air where he dropped it, fungal growth halted.

    Okay, What I’m holding still has time. Good.

    He stared at the Tentacles.

    . . . I’m fuckin’ leaving.

    He wasn’t sure how long this was going to last, so, ducking around and under the things that tried to kill him, he made a circuit of the room, packing as much as he could. Between two duffle bags and a backpack, he stuffed them full of money, weapons, and the things he didn’t want to leave behind like his laptop. It only took a few minutes according to his phone, which had no signal. Bags packed, he looked at the Tentacles and they Stared hatefully back. Shuddering, he unlocked the door, leaving, and locking it behind him, knowing there was no way he was getting his security deposit back.

    Climbing down the stairs two at a time, he was almost at the front door when the sound came back, making him jump. The screeching was back, and if anything, it sounded angrier, if that was possible. Running out the front door he looked up, seeing long, thick Tentacles, teeth gnashing in rage as they whipped out the window of his room, growing quickly.

    People outside were stumbling, looking up, standing still while screaming in fear, and generally doing everything you weren’t supposed to do in the horror movie tonight had become. Chuck ran as the Tentacles flailed, gabbing a woman who shrieked out in pain so hard he thought her voice was going to snap. Another Tentacle flailed down, and he dodged it, only for a third to grab him around the arm and he knew why she was screaming, for he was as well. His nerves blazed in fire as he was dragged upwards, inwards, the Tentacle tearing and worming its way in him, devouring him as it pulled him back to his room and the BOX which opened its swirling Maw and-

    He stumbled, arms flailing, as the third Tentacle missed him, grabbing an old man as he screamed with a pain Chuck knew. Blinking, heart hammering, he started to run, only for another Tentacle to wrap around his throat, devouring its way up into his brain, eating his thoughts, his mind, his soul-

    Falling on his ass the Tentacle whipped by, grabbing a metal pole and ripping it from the ground, wires sparking as fungus started to sprout along the paint, but not the rusted metal. Getting up, he swayed, but started to move again, dodging one Tentacle as it whipped by. They were going after him! He dodged a second and a third, only for a fourth to spear through his chest, Devouring-

    With a force of will he broke from that reality, vision, future, twisting out of the way of the spearing Tentacle. I get it! I’m leaving! Running out of range of their growing limbs, running faster than he believed was possible, passing between people and vaulting over cars, the thing’s SCREECHING reached a fever pitch before cutting out, leaving only the blessed sounds of explosions, chaos, and screaming.

    He needed to get somewhere safe, as he’d gotten his second wind, and then some, but didn’t know how long it would last. As for safety, that hotel he’d stayed at his first night seemed to be something straight out of John Wick, and if anyplace had checked for bombs, it would be there. He jogged in that direction, breaking into a bounding run, body light as he practically loped along, heading downtown.

    Downtown was, if anything, worse and in a fit of why the fuck not he turned down an alley, taking a few steps up a wall before jumping onto a fire escape, swiftly climbing to the top. Running across the rooftop he reached the edge, following his instincts and pushing off as hard as he could he took a flying leap, near effortlessly crossing the thirty feet of street, foot smoothly landing on the ledge of the building as he continued on with a laugh and a smile.

    After what he’d just survived, this was nothing.


    <AB>


    He’d checked in, though they hadn’t recognized him. The fact that he was grinning like a madman probably didn’t help. He couldn’t help it, this was the best he’d ever felt in his life! It was no wonder people got addicted to near-death experiences if this was the payoff! Humming to himself he checked in, dropped his bags on his bed, and stretched, bouncing on the balls of his feet, bursting with energy. Taking a deep breath, he centered himself, heading into the bathroom to clean off some of the mud, concrete dust, ash, and general grime from his face.

    Washing it off, the water turning brown and red as it ran off him, he finally calmed. Looking into the mirror though, his heartrate spiked. He wasn’t, well, him! The face that looked back at him appeared to be chiseled from stone, jawline sharp enough to cut steel, and not an ounce of fat to be seen.

    Holy shit! I’m a Chad!

    Stripping his shirt, which he realized was practically painted on, having to rip it to take it off, his gut was gone, replaced with. . . is it a six pack if there’s eight? No wonder he was feeling good, apparently Super Space Snake Scales were like ultra-steroids.

    That or some of the drugs he’d taken had been steroids.

    And had taken a week to kick in.

    Without exercising.

    Is it bad that Super Space Snake Scales are the more likely answer?

    Shaking his head, he sat down, shirtless, at the room’s desk, taking out his laptop and turning it on to try to find out what the hell was going on.

    He took out his phone to try to do the same thing.

    He put his face in hands, exhaling at the ridiculousness of all of this.

    He checked out his muscles, because honestly, he’d never had muscles like this before.

    He stretched his arms out, releasing the last of the tension.

    He looked outside, seeing his reflection in the window.

    All six of him.

    He was sitting in his chair, but he looked like something out of the Matrix, one of him leaning forward and looking up news sites, which had no idea what was going on, doing the same on his phone to similar results, feeling his muscles which felt solid in a way that he hadn’t expected, putting his head in his hands, stretching, and looking out the window, all of him merging into each other like he was noclipping. The other five of him stopped what they were doing and turned to look at his reflections, merging into a single him.

    What. The. Fuck.

    He heard a chiming sound, three of him looking around for it in different directions, the sound coming from nowhere and everywhere at once.

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” he demanded, ready for the next bomb, but nothing happened.

    There was the sound of the chime again, and he heard someone female exhaling. ‘Installation complete!’ the voice, sounding somewhat British, informed him. ‘Good evening Sir!

    “Um, who are you?” he asked the air.

    I am your A.I!’ it responded cheerfully, a window opening in the air showing an attractive woman in black rimmed glasses, business attire, dark red hair contrasting with her bright green eyes and pale skin.

    Turning his head moved the window, and moving his hand in front of his eyes showed it was not actually in the air, but somehow overlaid on his vision. “You’re a computer program?” he asked, disbelievingly.

    The woman laughed good naturedly, covering her mouth as she did. “Oh, no. I am an Abaddon Intelligence. Where are my manners? Introductions are needed. I am temporal shard, designation: Centauri, here to assist my user in the Primary’s mission. In particular the destruction of Entity, designation: The Warrior!
     
  9. Yuhabahha

    Yuhabahha Horni!

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2019
    Messages:
    887
    Likes Received:
    25,848
    Huh, what do you know. It was literally yesterday that I decided to catch up...all the way to 272, (seemed like a good spot to stop and once again wait for chapters to pile up:D)

    And on the one hand, yes! Vejovis does seem to be powering up into what I thought, on the other...holy shit the dude's been through a lot...

    And,
    It's good to finally know why Abaddon is a mite different to the rest of his species. He encountered a technomagic civilization, one with gods straight out of high end final fantasy, and learned humility/patience/ 'there is always a bigger fish' etc and in turn they taught him negentropy. Although from his internal thoughts the dude did seem to be a cut above the rest even before.

    And hell, it explains why he made Lee into his 'baby', everyone's favorite space-whale seems to be a researcher at heart. And after learning/acquiring a bit of morals, I suspect he even stopped looking down on the poor five/four/three-dimensionaly constrained species as his lessers as much. So sure, why not 'reproduce' in an unusual manner and have his 'child' start as a mere 'host', a hybrid from a certain point of view, and see where it goes.

    Although if that's indeed the case, and I'm not missing the barn entirely, then good job Lee!

    For you are already showing that the utterly inhuman space whale --and in a few paragraphs at that-- is more 'human' and humble than his 'son' at this point. After all, Vejovis is unconsciously already deeming most everyone as lesser, compared to even the baby entity that he is, and those without shards...eww cardboards. Undoubtedly in time he will catch it and correct it, you/'him' seem way to introspective to miss it for long...if he gets the chance to chill, plus he has Taylor after his ass, making sure he is relatively fine and not about to fall apart again.

    But the question, what with his new 'sister' and 'niece' (plus whatever other bull is on the horizon), is will he get the time to chill?:sneaky:

    Oh, and good choice on music, wealth and taste indeed...
     
    OwlEyes, zeebza, Jarudazuigu and 2 others like this.
Loading...