1. 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
  2. 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
  3. For a trial period of one week, allowed avatar size has been increased to 256kb, up from 51.2kb. During this time, if the forum seems to be loading slow, drop by the topic in the Announcements & Rules sub to let me know.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. QQ will be down for upgrades starting at 2030 EDT. Please be prepared and save any work.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. A small reminder that our moderators can't change usernames. You need to directly contact an admin for that, and tehelgee is the jobless one so bug him about it.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. To the many new members following Mr Zoat to our forum, I would suggest a quick read of our Rules. Don't worry, it's not a long post. Pay special attention to Rule 8. We are deadly serious about it.
    Dismiss Notice

BROB'd: World One: Worm

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Wolfboy, Jan 28, 2019.

Tags:
Loading...
  1. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2017
    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    605
    Author's note: When I started writing this story i had certain plans, plans that allowed me to continue writing this even when forcibly kept from a keyboard. that said, There are mounds of mistakes and fannon all through the story. I even made some of the same mistakes Wildblow apparently did, especially where geography was concerned. That said, instead of doing a rewrite of it and starting basically from scratch with the same premise, i ran with it, and boy is it taking off. So here for your enjoyment, is my story Bored Random Omnipresent Bastard. (note this is the singular, not the plural that is the story down in the NSFW threads. but that is all I will say on that aspect, for now.)

    BROB’d
    Arc One: Shadows
    Soundtrack: Danger Days: The true lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
    Prologue: You pushed what?
    “Peace is a funny thing.” I thought as I sat inspecting my pistol in the hallway outside a series of bedroom doors. “As much as we say we want it, it never makes for good stories, and really makes for a boring life.” Sitting there inspecting the .45 caliber semi-automatic for dirt and wear was something to do while waiting to be summoned into the princess’s presence, something to keep my hands and mind somewhat busy.

    “James,” I heard the voice to my left and looked to find a young Japanese male standing there, his head and upper body stuck out the doorway. “The princess and prince would like to see you now.” He finished before holding the door open for me. I nodded as I stood up and let the slide go forward sliding a magazine into the well before entering the bedroom the young man had stepped out of.

    “So this is the mysterious man with the strange weapons that saved my love and my best friend in one simple act.” I heard a voice say to my left as I stepped from the doorway into the bedroom and the door closed behind me. “No, not only saved them but ensured their safety while they left Albion and made their way here. He has the look of a seasoned warrior Wales and I’m sure that like any seasoned arms-man he has spent whatever idle time he has had to endure ensuring the function of those weapons.” The person speaking was a young woman of maybe fifteen or sixteen years, short, wine dark burgundy hair and fine of feature I recognized her as Princess Henrietta of Tristain. To one side of the princess there stood a blond young man of approximately the same age wearing a new suit of clothes courtesy of the tailor that had left a few minutes before I had been summoned. Prince Wales Tudor was supposed to be dead at this point of the story, not alive and either able to continue his romantic relationship with the Princess or end it in person rather than a crappy letter.

    To the other side of the princess stood three young women who also appeared to be around the same age. The first was a strawberry blond with a glare for both me and Saito. This was the person whose room this was one Louise Valliere. She was known as Louise the Zero because all her spells seemed to fail. Unknown to her, this was not because she was a screw up but a void mage, someone who stood outside their understood fields of magic. The next one in line was taller and significantly more buxom with a head of long flame red hair named Kirche. The fire mage was eying me appreciatively but I had no intention of sticking around long enough to find out if it would be a legitimate offer or not. Like fire, she was fickle and would turn her brazen attention anywhere the wind of the moment blew it. The last one was named Tabitha, a quiet blue haired book worm who I actually like the most of all Louise’s companions. Silent and competent she was the only one of the group I would be willing to take with me on the next jaunt if anyone here went with me.

    “You are correct your highness,” I replied dropping to one knee. “The weapons I carry are generally more advanced than what you would find around your world though no less destructive than magic you wield.”

    “An interesting thing that,“ Henrietta temporized. “Louise tells me that when you showed up it was in the nick of time to save Wales, and that you were able to disarm and then kill Viscount Wardes from a distance of several feet with only two uses of your weapon. Tell me, how did you come to have such weapons and how did you arrive in Albion?” she asked.

    “Well your highness,” I replied looking up at the young woman. “That is a story long and involved. If you would allow the rest of us seats and perhaps have snacks and something to drink sent up, I will start telling you. Though if you are familiar with the tale it will sound something like that of A Thousand and One Arabian nights, and while it won’t take as long, will take more than one evening to tell.”

    She looked at me for a moment and nodded, “Louise, if you would have Saito arrange the chairs, food and drink, I think we shall have an interesting tale told to us.” The strawberry blond simply shot Sato a look causing the young man beside me to bow in the Japanese style and scamper out of the room.

    Dropping from one knee to sitting cross legged on the floor I looked at the assembled personages, “Sato already knows the beginning,” I said weighing their reactions. “He and I technically come from roughly the same universe, our technology is the same and I bet if you checked his world history against mine you would find it effectively the same with only minor quibbles of who was at fault for what as opposed to major changes like the difference between Halkegenia and our Earth. Because of this he recognizes my technology and has an understanding of their principles. That said let me tell you a story.”

    From all the Bored Random Omnipresent Being stories that I have read on various forums, all the stories seem to occur when something untoward happens to the storyteller, either that or they are the something untoward that happens. Strangely enough that wasn’t the case with me; I was having a nice relaxing day off on the edge of the beach when suddenly three bodies flew over my head off the boardwalk and into the sand below. Now while I say three bodies I don’t mean three corpses but three people, first one that had apparently been running and then two that appeared to be police by the “PD” labeled jacket one was wearing and the badges I saw on their belts after they rose from the sand.

    The action wasn’t one that the local police usually took, they being much more relaxed and easy going as opposed to these more energetic officers. As I watched I saw the runner rise and start forward only to sprawl in the sand once more causing me to wince. One of the pair must have gotten ahold of his ankle because the next words I heard came from the officers. “No more running Murphy,” one of them huffed out as they both got to their knees and crawled up to handcuff the man. Once they were done cuffing him they stood him up between them and started back my direction while mirandizing him. Me, I was a good citizen and vacated my seat on the stairs to allow them to take him back up on the boardwalk. It wasn’t until I sat back down that I saw it sitting half buried in the sand where the runner had fallen. I stood back up and collected the item which looked to be a simple truck key fob with all the identifying marks removed and the buttons replaced with rhinestones.

    Now I know curiosity killed the cat, but I was more canid than that so after a couple moments of thought and inspecting it I took the fob out into the parking lot on the other side of the boardwalk to try and find its vehicle. The fob had three rhinestone buttons, one red, one green and one blue, now red was generally the alert button on all the fobs I had seen, and while it would let me find the vehicle the fob belonged to rather quickly, it was also highly annoying. That left me with the choice of green or blue. While blue had no general color coding where American vehicles were concerned green usually meant go, which I figured that the person who had done this to the fob meant as an “unlock” for the doors, thus I pushed the green rhinestone and suddenly found the world spinning and myself falling.

    Waking I felt my cheek laying against cold tile, “Good cool tile,” I mumbled and then suddenly sat up wide awake. Tile, I should be feeling hot asphalt. The October day that I had been spending out at the beach while relatively cool had been clear skied none the less and the asphalt of the parking lot had been extremely warm. The parking lot that I expected to see was not where I was however; no I was in a room that appeared to be a ten foot cube with a singular TV on a wall mount with a Post It note stuck to it. No way in, and no obvious way out, and the walls ceiling and floor all covered in six inch tile. Other than the TV and its wall mount the room was empty and without any obvious lighting, though the light in the room was sufficient to read comfortably by. Standing up I moved over to the TV and read the Post It, “Push me” was written on the note as it sat over the power button on the flat screen, so since I had nothing better to do I did so hoping for some kind of explanation. I wasn’t disappointed.

    “Greeting creature,” the shadow on the screen said a couple of minutes after I pushed the power button on the flat screen. “Since you’re seeing this you have obviously awakened in a strange and different place and found my note. I thank you for not panicking messily, a few have and it takes days to clean the room after such. I am currently looking over the data from your mind to be able to explain the situation to you in a way that you get a full understanding before you have to make a decision. Unlike some of my brethren I prefer my subjects to be fully informed of what they are deciding and to actually volunteer for their trip. This is a habit my kin find this distressingly naive and hope I grow out of, but I find that I get more enjoyment out of watching the antics of others who are playing for their own reasons rather than being forced into the situations. Consider me much like the chicken strapped in to watch the multitude of televisions at the beginning of the TV show “Robot Chicken”. I see all, I hear all and I know it all at once. Quite frankly after a while it gets quite boring, so my people pull someone out of their universe and either let them skip merrily from one universe to another causing whatever changes and butterflies they might, or drop them for the entirety of a series into universe that they know by heart to either get them around the hurdles the characters find themselves in or else, and this is usually the case with fan fiction writers like yourself, to fix the universe of the problems as they see it.”

    “Because of this,” it continued after a moment’s pause,” someone else that exists outside the temporal existence that is Us has put together a force to collect those dimension jumpers and either return them to their own universe or drop them somewhere they will not be monkeying around with the “canon” events of any given universe because they “Know” what is going on. This is how you ended up here in fact as the device whose button you pushed was the runner’s key to dimensional jumping. It will be what you use to choose to leave this place, but I’ll get to that in a minute.”

    “If you choose to continue on the key for you will be a pass phrase that will allow you to drop into the next world on your list. Whenever you enter a world, the phrase will enter your mind, all you have to do to leave the world is speak the phrase. Now, as to whether to stay or go, oh such marvelous stuff in your mind, if you choose to go back to where you came from and not go any further, then you should push the red button on the device. Doing so will make you wake where you left from with absolutely no memory of what occurred here. However, if you wish to stay and see how deep the rabbit hole goes, push the blue button and your adventure will begin. Be warned however, once you start the trip you must survive to see it through to the end, and please make things interesting for me, I get so terribly bored here.”

    With that the screen went blank and I reached up, pressing the power button to shut it off again. I had to make a decision, one that would be life changing, or simply put me back where I had come from. I had joined the Marines years before because I wanted to get out and see the world, that hadn’t happened, I was relegated to a reserve base in Texas and never went anywhere after that. When I was discharged I found myself lacking funds and ended up like most of my peers returning to home to find a job that I could survive on. Now, with the economy turning to drek, that was fast becoming something rarer than hen’s teeth. Summer was over, and with it my part time job as a bouncer at one of the beach clubs would be done in short order leaving me to try and find either a permanent job or another seasonal one until the process repeated itself. Then again I could simply drop myself into any number of worlds at random, worlds that, if I was reading between the lines right would be ones that I at least knew the ins and outs of. As I sat there contemplating the situation I looked at the “fob” the red button would send me home with no memories of this place, but the blue one would drop me into unknown, or at least semi-known dangers. With a sigh I pushed the blue button.

    World One: A Tinkers Damn or The Cluster Frag of Taylor Hebert
    Chapter one
    If you know, or at least suspect that the floor is going to drop out from underneath you when you do something in particular, you can at least anticipate it so as to ease your landing. I wasn’t expecting it and so I found myself on my ass in the dank filth of a city alleyway. I’m not a city person by nature and avoid them when I can so I didn’t immediately recognize this particular city. Of course, I was looking at an alleyway, not the skyline so it wasn’t going to be something particularly memorable anyway until I picked myself up and looked around. Thus, I put thought to action and pulled myself to my feet before heading toward the open end of the alley. A quick look around told me I was definitely in the wrong area of town for my lack of weaponry. Gang tags covered all the buildings in the area and the general rundown appearance of the buildings themselves said it all, slum. Alright maybe not slums but basically the wrong side of the tracks as my mother would say.

    An animalistic roar and a loud crash jerked my attention upwards in a snap. I was already on yellow alert and thus a bit twitchy and the sight that I saw above me didn’t do anything to ease that tension. In fact it sent me diving back into the alley that I had just walked out of to dodge the falling mass of meat and bone that landed where I had been standing just a moment before. Picking myself up from the alley floor once more I realized with just a glance at the fight where I was. “Brockton Bay,” I muttered under my breath, “this is bloody fragging marvelous.”

    For those of you reading this that hasn’t read the “Worm” serial this was a universe of more realistic superheroes and one of the darker “super” worlds in the multi-verse. First of all forget everything you know about superheroes from either Marvel or DC. In the Worm-verse anyone and anyone can end up with a super power of some kind, either by purchasing it in great secrecy and at great expense from an organization called “Cauldron” or by having a traumatic event so tragic that you throw out all hope but that one grip of power, the shear belief that the only thing that can save you is a super power. In this universe the heroes tended to be self righteous, self important hypocrites with delusions of adequacy while the villains tended to run toward either needy people who couldn’t do anything else with their powers, (most were simply not marketable) or so over the top to either evil or ridiculousness that you were happy when they were taken care of one way or the other. The lead villains of this piece were the first type of villain, they had enough care, virtues and extenuating circumstances that you couldn’t help but love them and their quirky ways, but because they were not registered heroes and had few qualms about doing what needed to be done they were labeled villains. This world even had a special prison for the supers that in this world were called para-humans, the Birdcage, a place of final rest so to speak for a system that extremely rarely used the death penalty when judicious use of it would save them so much trouble.

    No, the death penalty was reserved for those that had absolutely no redeeming qualities, the End-bringers, and the Slaughterhouse Nine were examples of this level of villain. The Nine were sociopaths; each para-human specialized in their talents and powers to cover various fields of mayhem and destruction. The End-bringers though, they were almost alien in existence. Three entities that covered the four main elements of nature and unknown to him were the creation of a particularly distraught second-string hero’s mind.

    This was the world I now found myself in, with the turn of a phrase I could leave them to continue on their path to their own destruction, or I could stay and try and fix what they screwed up, and as I stood there in the mouth of an alleyway watching two enlarged dogs tear chunks of meat from a poisoned and blinded man-dragon while the three of them fought I wondered if I could make a difference. The trick to making a difference in this world would be to first catch the attention of someone with power, and then turn that into a play that would remove the major driving force that screwed the entire situation for the main character, all while saving the lead villains who actually honestly deserved a chance at happiness.

    My thoughts and contemplations were interrupted by a whistle from above and the dogs leaping from building to building to regain the roof where their mistress awaited. “Screw it,” I muttered to myself before exiting the alleyway once more. The little shadowy figure on the TV wants to be entertained and those girls each deserve a chance at happiness, not the hell they get. I can play myself off as a precog when Armsmaster shows up, and then get the ball rolling with what’s in my head.

    My mind was awash in thoughts and plans as I approached the dragon form of the gang leader Lung. He was already healing from the damage Hellhound’s dogs had dealt to him, the pepper spray in his eyes however was still causing them to be swollen shut and I knew that if he was tranquilized he would lose his regenerative ability and need someone to come in and heal his man bits where the brown recluse spiders had swarmed and bitten him. “Necrotizing tissue is such a bitch isn’t it asshole.” I said looking down at him his response was a moan and what I could only guess was something nasty in some Chinese dialect. Slowly I could hear a motorcycle’s thumping engine growing closer with each passing moment, it wasn’t approaching fast because the rider was alone and didn’t want to end up in the crossfire I was sure. The fight had of course caught the local PRT and Protectorate’s attention and Armsmaster was the one to investigate. My being in this world wouldn’t change that, what happened afterwards however would cause butterflies as big as jetliners probably both to the good and the bad. Finally a single headlight appeared and came down the street, and I stood behind the fallen gang leader as I watched the local head of the Protectorate arrive.

    **
    The Docks, ABB Territory, 0300
    Armsmaster looked around as he put the motorcycle’s kickstand down. Lung was laying on the pavement of the street battered and almost unconscious, a single unmasked male standing over him. The man didn’t have a mark on him, his clothes were not torn or even singed yet the notorious gang leader that at times even gave him pause was on the ground and out of any fight. “You do this?” he asked the man as he pulled out a syringe and a bottle of tranquilizers.

    “No,” the man answered, “and I wouldn’t sedate him just yet, not unless you want to be answering a lot of questions about why his man bits along with other various and sundry parts of him are rotting off. He’s been bitten by quite a few Brown Recluses and Black Widows, and if you knock him out for transport he’s going to lose his regenerative ability which is holding the poison at bay for the moment.”

    Armsmaster stopped at this declaration. If what the man said was true then the gang leader was in for a lot of pain and suffering over the next few days unless they could get Panacea, one of New Wave’s “heroes” to come in and heal him. Shrugging he put away the syringe and the bottle of sedative, if what the man said was the truth then it would be an interesting time, if he was lying, then there would proof of it and they could dismiss the strange person as a kook. “Very well sir, why don’t you tell me who you are and who did this while the containment foam sets up on our friend here.” With that Armsmaster had the man step back and set a containment foam grenade off on the gang leader while calling in a pickup team from the PRT. Turning to the man again he asked, “So who are you and who did this?”

    The man chuckled, “I am no one of consequence really, but call me Wolf since you must call me something. Most of the damage to Lung the important damage anyway was done by a rather nice young lady who is waiting for you up on that rooftop.” He said pointing to a building where the perimeter wall around the flat roof had a hole in it about the size of the gang leader plus something else. “The rest of t he damage was done by a couple of Hellhound’s massed up dogs. The young lady is in a bit of a quandary at the moment, not sure if she wants to join the wards or not. She does however earnestly want to be a hero, so be nice. When you’ve finished talking with her she’s going to want to leave and think things over more, let her and we’ll discuss things more then.”

    Armsmaster was a bit surprised and somewhat put out by the man’s attitude. There was no fear there, not of the Protectorate, nor the PRT, not even the fact that he could be targeted by the ABB for retaliation seemed to worry him. “You know something, things you’re not telling me.” The man simply smiled in response. “I am going to assume that you will be waiting for me when I return from talking with the young lady in question?” the man continued to smile and nodded in response, “Then I will do as you suggest now, but we will discuss it more when I return.” Armsmaster finished trying to sound menacing. Again the man nodded and walked over to the motorcycle to look it over. At this Armsmaster shook his head in disbelief before heading towards the indicated building.

    PRT HQ, 0645
    When I returned from speaking with the girl the man was waiting for me and informed me of several things which are also in my written report. Foremost in those are Lung’s escape situation and our own security.” Armsmaster said finishing his verbal report for select members of the PRT and the local Protectorate capes. “My personal conclusion is that he is probably a minor to middling precog though I am not sure how far or how accurate he might be.”

    “Thoughts people?” Emily Piggot, the local PRT director growled out. The director was here hours before she would normally have come in and was not in a particularly good mood for it.

    “So he told you that we have leaks in our security,” Miss Militia said half in comment. “Did he specify who or what they are?” she asked.

    “Somewhat,” Armsmaster answered. “What he told me was that while he could tell me the majority of the specifics surrounding Lung’s escape he couldn’t tell me who specifically the ABB plant amongst the guards was. That there will be an attempt, on that matter I believe him, but I don’t know if his specifics have any basis in fact. That Coil has co-opted our security camera feeds and has a person inside the PRT as well I also question, but not quite enough to dismiss out of hand. He’s playing things quite close to the vest at the moment and if what he says is true about our security holes I can understand why. He did have a request for you director Piggot.”

    The director of the local PRT looked at the head of the local protectorate forces with a raised eyebrow. “And what is his request Colin?” she asked.

    “That you join him for either lunch or dinner today at Fugly Bob’s, ”Armsmaster answered,“ your choice of when and that he’ll buy

    In the silence that filled the room you could have heard a pin drop on its point from across the length of the room while being half deaf. Armsmaster was surprised when the director nodded slightly. “Did he say why?” she asked.

    “He said something that didn’t make much sense,” Armsmaster replied, “something about you needing a good meal on your stomach if you decided to go with his plan.”

    In the next moment Emily Piggot did something that Armsmaster had before that moment had been flat out physically impossible, the woman started to chuckle before nodding at the Protectorate team leader and speaking. “That is a very interesting idea, we’ll do lunch then, I haven’t had a Fugly Bob’s burger in years.”
    Chapter 1.2
    1200 hours Fugly Bob’s
    I looked up from where I was reading when three people sat down at the table. One man and two women pretty much had me surrounded as I sat with my back in a corner, the man next to me, the two women opposite effectively pinning me in place. “Colin, Hannah, Director.” I stated simply. The two capes started, Piggot smiled.

    “You seem to be an interesting man Mister Wolf.” Emily Piggot said, a smile crossing her face slightly. “Now you said you would buy lunch, so why don’t we order and then we can get down to business.”

    I nodded and waved at the young lady that was the waitress for our area. When she got to us I asked her, “Ma’am could you get us four Fugly Bob’s, I want mine medium with tomatoes, pickles, onions and a dab of ketchup, cola to drink.” I listened as the rest of them ordered their burgers, Miss Militia surprising me by going the same route as I did, adding lettuce as well to maximize the veggies with a diet soda to drink. Armsmaster was apparently a burn it to a cinder well done man, and cheese it with minimum veggies and a coffee, while director Piggot told the waitress to make it “Bloody rare and load it up with everything and a regular soda.” This apparently wasn’t something she did on a regular basis as the two capes looked at her in astonishment, the waitress simply nodded, jotted down the order before striding off to put it in.

    “Now,” Piggot said once the waitress was out of earshot. “Since you’re paying I suppose we should at least hear you out, but I want details on who our leaks are, so spill.”

    “Well you’re not going to believe it but your biggest one is Coil sitting right in your headquarters.” I stated plainly. “He’s given the Undersiders outside access to your security cameras all through the facility. Specifically he’s had their thinker, call sign Tattletale, watching you all go through your day to find out what little tidbits he can use against you. They know for instance that you director run on a very tight schedule but not as to why, on the other hand I do know that it’s because each night you have to go home and hook yourself up for dialysis because your kidneys were practically destroyed during the abortive attempt on Nilbog all those years ago.

    Apparently the information that I had just dropped on the table must have been some kind of “burn before reading” information because the two capes turned to stare at the director in shock as she glared death at me. “Sorry,” I apologized, “I figured with their position in the system that they would already know why you are unavailable certain hours of the day.” The apology apparently worked at least some because the death glare turned down a couple of notches.

    “So what can you give us Mr. Wolf?” Piggot asked.
    “Just about everyone’s secret identities,” I answered, “as well as their plots, plans, and how they were supposed to play out.”

    “So effectively everyone’s dirty laundry,” Miss Militia said.

    “Pretty much,” I replied, “also, I can give you a run down on some of their powers.”

    “I want a name Mr. Wolf.” Piggot stated simply. “The name that Coil is hiding under in my offices.”

    “And you shall have it director,” I responded. “As with anything however there will be a price to pay and I want to have your assurance that you will agree to my price before I give you the name.

    “I knew it,” Armsmaster growled, “a mercenary intel asset is no asset at all. What is your price you bastard.”

    I knew he was talking money, I smiled because I wasn’t; I think the smile unsettled him some. “Colin what I’m offering is effectively priceless, especially since I’m offereing to do all the dirty work that you, the Protectorate, and the PRT are either unable or unwilling to do. All I ask for is five slots on the Wards, as a team, with pardons for all activities prior to joining.” This caused the three of them all quirked an eyebrow at me in question. “Oh, did I forget to mention it? I intend to bring the Undersiders into the Wards program as an independent team.” Piggot smirked at that, while Armsmaster shook his head and Miss Militia’s jaw simply dropped.

    “I imagine that you’ll be telling us that you can get the ABB and the Merchants to stop selling drugs as well.” Armsmaster said, his thoughts of what I was saying apparent as the tone of his voice.

    My head turned to look at him squarely, “Colin, I could, and I stress, could do that.” I said, “However neither you, nor the Protectorate, nor the PRT, nor really even the police would abide by my methods however.” The cold, grim tone of my voice left no question as to what my methods would be. At that point I took a minute to compose myself and put the monster back in its cage, hopefully for the last time that day. “The Undersiders are going to need some leeway in how they operate also, but with their help I’m sure they will be a severe asset in cleaning up this city.”

    Piggot’s eyes narrowed as she scrutinized my being, reading everything from my expressions to my body language and wording. “Give me his name Mr. Wolf,” she said, “and Rachel Lindt, as well as her companions will all have a free pass.”

    Out of the corner of my eye I spotted our waitress approaching with a platter full of food, probably our orders, so just before she arrived I spoke those two words that I knew would either cause them to explode in denial, or drop them into catatonic silence, “Thomas Calvert.”

    Emily Piggot sat there stunned at what the character “Wolf” had laid out before her and the two protectorate capes. Thomas Calvert, her own second in command was Coil, her first thought was to laugh in his face and deny it, but the man’s insistence, the shear belief in what he was saying made her hesitate, and in that moment she remembered the story Calvert had told her in the infirmary after the battle with Nilbog. Apparently seeing himself die, and then having the chance to change it broke him. A moment later the waitress left, her burger and fries sat before her looking so good, yet now having realized the truth, she felt her desire to eat simply disappear. “How do you want to handle Coil Mr Wolf?” she asked.

    Wolf looked up from his own burger and smiled, which sent a shiver down Emily Piggot’s spine. This man was a predator plain and simple, and his solution was just as simple and probably as effective and efficient as what he had planned for the Merchants and the ABB. “It is going to take a two pronged assault to get him director, because of his power, which I call split decision, he can take both paths in a situation and see how either turns out before actually making his decision. I believe he is routinely splitting his day so as to spend it at both the PRT offices and in his underground facility. Because of that heightened level of paranoia we’re going to have to hit both of him at the same time just to ensure he doesn’t have a way of cancelling out the effected timeline. I need to have choice on who is on the strike team however.”

    “Why is that?” Miss Militia asked.

    “Because some capes, those like you Hannah, are naturally evolved, you hit that low point in your life.” I answered, “Others were made.”

    Colin stopped mid chew at what Wolf had just said and fought the urge to simply swallow hard. There had been rumors for years of an organization that could provide a person with powers, and would to anyone who could meet their price. Unfortunately all they had up until this point had been rumors, half heard stories that no one seemed to know the source of. Furthermore what Wolf had just effectively told them was that this group had people in the Protectorate and in Brockton Bay on his team. Slowly he managed to force himself to finish chewing the mouthful of bun and burned beef before swallowing it and washing it down with a drink from his coffee cup. “Who are they and which of my people answer to them?” he asked once his mouth was finally clear.

    Again Wolf turned his head to face Colin before replying. “The group’s name is Cauldron, supposed to reference something out of Celtic or Gaelic mythology. As for who on your team belongs to them, Battery for certain, and Triumph got his powers from them but I don’t know if he calls them master or not. They don’t let word really get out about them, if you get power from them it’s because they heard you were looking and have a very good psych profile along with a lot of money. They are however responsible for a lot of both good and evil in this world.” At that point Piggot’s eyes raised a questioning look. “They were the people who came up with the idea for the Protectorate in the first place, they created the Triumphirate. Unfortunately they also are responsible for Shatterbird, Siberian, and the load of Case 53’s.” I finished

    “How are they responsible for the Protectorate?” Hannah asked.

    Wolf sighed. “I don’t know all the particulars, but I imagine it went something akin to when any other major special interest group wants something done in D.C. They probably paid a whole bunch of congress critters and senators a shit ton of money to pass the law that started the Protectorate and the Wards. There are two women in charge really, ones a normal known as Doctor Mother, the other is a type of precog named Contessa. Contessa’s ability is known as “Path to Victory” and it lets her see how she can win against any opponent. Doctor Mother uses her both as a precog viewer and as a wetwork specialist. I’ll save why for a later debrief.”

    “Why?” Piggot asked him before taking another mouthful of burger.

    Wolf looked at the last couple of bites of his burger and the fries on his plate before dropping the burger on the plate and pushing it slightly away from him. “Look,” he said. “I know you want to know everything, and I’ll tell you all I know, let Dragon go full neural interface to pull things I don’t know I know from my brain. The problem here is that we’re getting to far afield from the main point of this meeting. I still have to make contact with both New Wave and the Undersiders to get them in on this little shindig. Hell getting them to agree to the deal is going to be fun in of itself.”

    Piggot smiled a little at that, as the meeting had gone on she had started grazing on her fries before attacking her burger in earnest. Now she was about half way through the monstrosity of a hamburger and didn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. “Suggestions for the team Mr. Wolf?”

    Wolf obviously suppressed another sigh before answering. “Dauntless should be ok, as should Velocity, Battery and Triumph might be ok, their bosses might just let their little experiment in parahuman feudalism die without trying anything but I wouldn’t count on it. Honestly though I don’t think you’re going to need that many capes though, just Colin and Hannah with a squad of PRT to catch him up with we decide to go after him.” At this point Wolf smiled, again that feral, nasty smile. “I honestly expect him to end the reality that you catch him in and try to fight it out with me and the team I put together. That said, there was one other issue to discuss and it goes back to you director.”

    Emily Piggot looked up as finished off the last fries on her plate and quirked an eyebrow in question. “How would you like to have that curvy twenty something body back along with your kidneys?” he asked.

    Twenty minutes later I was walking away from Fugly Bob’s, the bill paid, and a bunch of planning and explaining why certain plans wouldn’t work, done. I had two hours until my appointment downtown with Brandish— the five hundred dollar retainer paid in advance to gain a fifteen minute slot in the cape lawyer’s busy schedule. I had given Piggot and Armsmaster my phone number before leaving, asking the latter to have Dragon contact me so that I could talk to her.
    I wasn’t going to drop any hints of what Dragon was where they could hear until she was ready for them to know. There was two good bits of probable good news, the first being that the Protectorate was going to concentrate on the ABB section of town in search of Bakuda, hopefully with a shoot-on-site order. The other thing that would hopefully short-circuit a certain villainess’ bombing escapade was that as soon as Panacea was done with him, Lung was to be moved to the Birdcage. Hopefully the fact that the incarceration and movement was happening so fast would keep Bakuda from trying to arrange a breakout.
    As I walked toward the bus stop I started going over my finances mentally, it’s one of the few gifts I actually have that’s of any real use: being able to run a constant string of calculations in my head. The only other thing I could really do is remember what any given tactical situation was and where I was in relation to the situation between the two so I could usually do Fire Control Duty in my head and was hell on wheels with a sniper rifle after the first shot. That first shot however took forever to line up and still usually missed at the ranges I usually worked at. That was part of the reason one of the things I had done that morning, besides find an apartment, was procure a Colt 1911A1 and a hundred round box of ammunition for it. Food, cookware, some thrift store furnishings and clothing as well as getting the utilities turned on in the apartment took almost four thousand dollars of the five thousand I had in my bank account. Thankfully I had found out over the past ten hours that not only did I have a paper trail in this world but that “Bobby”, the entity that had given me the ability to jump realities, would be providing me funding once a month for basics. Of course, if I wanted more I would have to get employment, but with what I could offer in each setting, that might not be as big a problem as it should be. I mean, hell, here I could probably get the PRT or the Protectorate to pay me as a consultant once things started panning out.
    As I passed through a crowd of people heading up the boardwalk I noticed that I had picked up a tail: shorter than my stocky, five foot seven inch frame, petite, and blonde. I adjusted my course and the fact that she was following me was confirmed as she altered her course to match. “So,” I thought, “Tattletale wishes to speak with me. Maybe enlisting the Undersiders won’t be as difficult as I imagined.”
    In response, I turned down an alley between two of the Boardwalk’s stores and walked in about ten feet before turning around, just in time to catch the blonde stepping into the alley. “Hello, Lisa,” I said. “Or should I call you Sarah since that is the name you were born with?”
    The shocked look on the girls face passed in an instant before she responded. “You must be Wolf,” she said. “The way Coil spoke of you I figured you would be bigger, more menacing, and have an actual power instead of a pseudo thinker/precog rating.”
    The sneer was almost palpable in the teen thinker’s voice; I, however, had been considering the conversation since she had popped up in my sphere of awareness. “At least I don’t have a bastard practically holding a gun to my head to force me to work for him. Though I can and will relieve you of that problem if you decide to work with me.”
    One of her shapely little eyebrows rose in question so I decided I might as well make the pitch. If she flat out refused to take it to her team, I wouldn’t be out anything but letting the villain know I was gunning for him. That was probably something Coil had already figured out though, which was probably why Tattletale was here.
    Her head cocked to one side, “You know about that, huh,” she half asked. “But then again, you know a lot of things don’t you. Things that rate that precog rating, and your brain does seem to work at an accelerated rate when considering tactical situations, especially in the moment. Not a general, but a lieutenant dealing the initial counterstroke to your opponents strike at you.”
    “Don’t count me out on preplanning young one,” I said with a grin. “I also see the problems in other people’s plans and would probably rate pretty high on the brown pants factor of most non-combat types. That said, do you think your team would be willing to change employers?”
    “It would depend,” she answered. “We would have to vote on it, and it would probably depend on what they were asking us to do and what they were paying us for doing it.”
    I nodded, mercenary to the core; that was the Undersiders. Each had their own reasons for joining: Rachel to have the funds to protect her dogs, Lisa because she was forced into it, Brian to put back money so that he could afford to adopt his sister, and “Alec” to have fun. I wonder if taking out Coil at this point was really good for them or not. “Well the first down payment is a full blanket pardon for all activities before coming to work for me. That was what I was just arranging with Piggot.”
    “Yeah, right,” the teenager sneered. “The only way Miss Piggy would let us have a complete pardon would be if…” and her voice trailed off as her thinker power put two and two together. “No fucking way,” she said. “You convinced her to let us join the Wards?”
    “As an independent team,” I responded smiling. “You won’t be officially associated with the Wards until everything is cleaned up in the Bay area, and officially you’ll be working for me. That said, I’ll act more as a control and coordinator than the team leader. That’s something I’ll leave to the team. I know how well you operate, especially once the bug girl joins.”
    Lisa quirked the eyebrow again. “You’re sure she’s going to accept the offer?” she asked and I nodded. “Does she get the same blanket immunity as the rest of us?” Again I nodded. “Let me talk it over with the rest of the team and we’ll let you know one way or the other. “
    “That’s all I ever wanted Lisa.” I responded with a smile on my face. “You have a friend in me if you want it, though the bug girl is going to be a bigger one, or at least a more direct one. Now I have to go see about some legal representation for myself and for the team.”
    “Who are you going to see?” she asked and I smirked as I walked past her and turned the corner out of the alleyway.
    “Victoria Dallon’s mother.” I said and disappeared into the crowd.

    Interlude: Contessa and Doctor Mother.
    Cauldron Headquarters 1300
    Contessa moaned in relief as her cheek lay against the cool porcelain of the toilet in her private quarters. The last six hours had been a hell of nothing but disorienting visions and the stomach churning nausea that they seemed to bring on. Finally though the world had stopped spinning along with the various timelines that branched out from her existence. Her head was still swimming, but she thought the gut tearing nausea was over for good. She was still to unsteady to stand so she crawled back to, and into her bed. Reaching onto the bedside table she picked up the phone that sat there and hit the autodial. “Doctor,” she said the weariness evident in her voice. “We have a problem,” the person on the other end of the call must have asked a question because she answered. “Someone dug up the box and opened it; Shrodinger’s cat is on the loose.” That said Contessa hung up the phone and passed out from exhaustion.
    Doctor Mother looked at the phone in her hand as if it was a small poisonous snake. The phrase that Contessa had just said to her was a reference to a quantum physics thought experiment that was meant to let her know that their organization’s very existence was about to become public knowledge and that there was nothing they could do about it. Her first thought and action was to call Alexandria to let her know that the cat was out of the bag, but after that the question was what did the need to do. Her first thought was a full evacuation to another world, followed by setting off the charges to destroy everything before having Doormaker open a doorway between the control center and a black hole. She didn’t however, because they didn’t know how bad the situation was going to be yet. Instead she turned to the two other workers in the control center and told them, “Drop messages to all customers and contacts that the cat is out of the bag and that we are shutting down operations until further notice.” She received nods from the two before leaving to check on Contessa.

    **
    “Mr Wolf, Mrs. Dallon will see you now.” I looked up from the E-reader I had been reading from at the voice of the personal assistant before tucking it away in my long coat’s inner pocket and heading toward the door that the PA stood beside. As I walked in, I could see the mighty mother and lawyer standing to meet me

    “Mister Wolf, I’m Carol Dallon, how may my firm and I be of assistance.” She asked.

    As the assistant directed me to a “client’s chair” I started to speak, “First of all Mrs. Dallon let me thank you for agreeing to meet with me on such short notice, I know your time is valuable.” At this she nodded as we both took our seats, “I would have been less circumspect on the phone if I was already a client but until you have accepted funds I know confidentiality doesn’t quite apply.”

    “That has changed as of now however, so how about we discuss what you’re paying us for Mr. Wolf.” Carol Dallon replied.

    “Yes ma’am it has,” I responded. “Thankfully, the aspect of this is not so much a legal one as it is something of a habit of mine to get a parent’s permission for a child to do something before I ask the child in question to do that thing.” I stated, at this Carol Dallon quirked an eyebrow so I continued. “Later today Amy is scheduled to go to the PRT building to heal the damage done to Lung by numerous Brown Recluses.” I continued, “While she’s there Director Piggot is going to ask for some specific healing to be done to herself including the basic return to her 30 year old form instead of her current overweight one. While I know Amy has a significant lack of desire to do what she considers cosmetic repairs, I would ask you to ask her to go ahead and do this, both as a favor to the PRT in general and Director Piggot specifically.” As I spoke, I reached into my coat’s inner pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. “As quid pro quo, I retrieved from the director the name of someone who might be of assistance with your husband and his, problem.”

    At mention of her husband’s issues Carol leaned forward over her desk and growled, “What do you know and how do you know it?”

    “Mrs. Dallon, currently the PRT has me rated as a minor precognitive thinker." I answered and one of her eyebrows twitched. "What I know is a particular timeline that occurred in this world and what I’m doing to collapse that timeline and basically give your world a better ending."

    "And this has what to do with what Director Piggot is going to ask my daughter Amy?" Carol Dallon ground out.

    "To do that I need Emily Piggot whole and healthy and not only with all her bodily parts but with the physical ability to use them in the field, at her current size that is untenable.” I responded and then sighed.

    Pinching the bridge of my nose I continued, “Currently you have trust issues that you’ve had since before the day you and your sister manifested your powers and your husband suffers from clinical depression that practically handicaps him outside of combat situations. Your sister and her husband are more stable as both a couple and as heroes, but are tied up with politics and leadership roles as the head of New Wave, and both couples children, while fairly well balanced, face their own demons without the assistance of their parents. On top of that you have laid a heavy and unrelenting burden on Amy. While giving her very little to work with for support structure. So little in fact that she feels her only support is Victoria which has led to certain problems of its own. I know she’s Marquis’s daughter, but she needs some support and trust for gods’ sake, she may be his blood, but you raised her and raised her well despite how you’ve treated her.” This pulled the woman’s approaching tirade up short. No one likes being called on the carpet for their private lives, and few deserved it, but the way Amy was treated and what happened as a result was something that I had a possibility and a personal requirement to stop.

    "I've never mistreated Amy." she responded through clenched teeth. "But let us for the sake of argument suppose I had, what would you suggest I do Mister Wolf.” The cape lawyer asked seething. The blood had drained from her face either from the personal fury at what I was saying or the realization of how right I was. I really didn’t care which it was.

    “In a few weeks the school year will be over,” I answered. “When it is take a small vacation, go to New Orleans, go see the person whose name is on that piece of paper, she can regress the damage to its beginning but not cure it. After that get him some actual counseling and medical treatment and the whole lot of you take a vacation. In the interim, let Amy know who her biological father is and why he was such a bad person, show her the case files. She only has some vague memories of a person she called Daddy. Who read her stories, played with her, and tucked her in; she doesn’t know the Marquis that you did. Also remember, she’s more the young woman you raised, and not so much the daughter of that villain that you took her from. Finally I’m going to ask that you support her in her decisions. If she decides that she wants to quit New Wave and join the Wards or some other team, back her to the hilt. I doubt that she will, she loves you and your family. You’ve raised her, she’s one of you, not by blood but by sweat and tears she’s your daughter. Hold her, love her, and appreciate her.” My peace said, I rose, “Again I ask that you call her and ask, ask mind you, that she comply with the director’s request. When all is said and done, I think everyone will be happy with the outcome. Have a nice day Mrs. Dallon.”

    With that I walked to the door but as I reached the entryway and reached for the door handle however, I was stopped by one last bit of information that I needed to tell her. "Mrs. Dallon, I have but one last thing to tell you." I stated before I turned around.

    "What?" she asked with more heat than I suspected she intended.

    "Leviathan is going to strike sometime in the middle of next month." I stated in a flat tone. "Your husband must not be there or else he will suffer irreparable brain damage."

    With that information passed on I turned once more for the door handle, yet four simple words stopped me once more. Well it wasn't so much the words as the tone of the “One minute Mister Wolf.” That Carol Dallon ground out. Standing at the door I did another abrupt about face before cocking my head to the side in a questioning glance. “Please, come back and sit down, it appears we have more to talk about than simply what you wished to say, please, sit down.”

    “Excuse me, Director?” Emily Piggot looked up from her desk at the voice and smiled at Thomas Calvert who had just knocked on her door. “You wished to see me ma’am?”
    “Yes Thomas I did,” she responded standing up and stepping around her desk. “Due to some of the information we received today I need you to start making evacuation plans for the city.”
    “Evacuation plans?” Calvert asked quirking an eyebrow. “What is the information if I may ask,” he continued.
    “Leviathan will be hitting Brockton Bay on the 15th of next month.” Piggot responded, before crooking a finger to get him to come over. “These are the projected damage areas for his rampage, including a new lake downtown when he supposedly pulls the aquifer to the surface.”
    Calvert looked and grumbled before asking, “How accurate is the information ma’am, I mean, I didn’t think Endbringer attacks could be predicted?”
    “Normally no, they can’t,” she responded and looked up at him. “But the new Thinker, Mister Wolf, knows a particular timeline and knows that for a short period of time that certain things will remain unchanged in that timeline no matter what actions he takes. “ The look that she shot him said nothing but could have said volumes, “He has given a list of crimes and perpetrators including a bank robbery that the Undersiders will perform, as well as a kidnapping that Coil’s men will pull off.
    “Yes ma’am, I’ll get right on that evacuation plan.” Calvert responded and turned to walk out.
    “Thomas wait,” Piggot called out causing Calvert to turn around once more. “Take the annotated map,” she said tapping the piece of paper on her desk before picking it up and waving it towards him. “It shows what the damage levels are at which locations throughout the city.”
    “Yes ma’am,” he responded before stepping back in and taking the map. As he left he saw Armsmaster and Miss Militia about to enter, only for them to step aside and allow him to exit. As he walked away he could hear them start to discuss something about Shadow Stalker until the door closed.
    “Really director,” Miss Militia said with a sigh. “It was rather smart of them, her friend’s father paying for the phone as part of their family plan, but really stupid not to clear the texts after their actions.” She finished.
    “The locker incident,” Armsmaster cut in. “aligns with certain texts. The preplanning, the actual act and the aftermath, as well as the other incidents Wolf mentioned all have relevant texts.”
    “So she’s provably guilty.” Piggot asked looking at both of them, they nodded. “Then go get her, I’m going to be the one to tell her the news.” The two capes simply nodded and laying the phone and a printout of the relevant texts on her desk for her perusal, left to pick up Shadow Stalker from the holding cells.
    **
    Sophia Hess screamed like a caged mountain lion at the walls of the holding cell. She had been texted on her PRT issue phone that Piggy had wanted to see her immediately after school if not sooner, so she had ditched her last class which was just study hall and headed in early. Even before she had reached the office she had been set upon by Miss Militia and Armsmaster who had cuffed her with electrical circuit cuffs especially made for her and stuffed her in this cell. Her stuff had been taken and she was sure gone through which meant that they knew she had an extra phone, but there wasn’t anything in her probation about not having a personal phone separate from her issue one. The question was what were they holding her on? It was the eighth time through the thought cycle when the cell door opened and Miss Militia gestured for her to get up and leave the cell.
    “So,” she said as Miss Militia and Armsmaster flanked her and escorted her to the elevator. “Are one of you going to tell me what this is all about?” Her voice was completely smooth, but the way she held herself spoke volumes about the attitude she was carrying.
    “No,” Armsmaster replied stone faced as they entered the elevator. Once they had turned around Miss Militia pushed the button for the floor they needed to go to.
    The doors closed and they started to rise, so she asked another question. “Am I going to get my stuff back?”
    “I don’t know,” Miss Militia responded cooly, “depends on what the Director says.”
    A moment later the doors to the elevator opened once more and the three of them stepped out and walked straight to Director Piggots office where the director was waiting and calmly said, “Close the door.”
    “What are we going to do with you Sophia,” Emily Piggot asked the teen standing in front of her. “Assault, Battery, Theft, Destruction of Private Property, and Emotional Abuse of a minor, some of those with the use of your power I’m sure.” At this point the director looked directly at the teen whose surly attitude had fallen away to an ashen face. “I can send you back to juvie to await your trial, or I can send you back to our own holding cells for the same duration. The problem is that we are expecting an Endbringer attack in roughly a month’s time and your abilities there would be helpful. I don’t expect you would be willing to help if we were to do something like that. So what we are going to do is leave you with two anklets. One will be to suppress your power, the other will be a GPS locator and whoever is on watch will have the specific duty of keeping an eye on you. You will go to school, and to home, nowhere else. If you need to go to the store, you call in on the issue phone and clear it with the watch and then it’s straight to the store and back home. Also, you don’t get the “personal phone” back, its evidence.”
    Sophia’s jaw had steadily dropped as Piggot had told her how things were going to change. “How, how did this happen?” she asked under her breath. “She was just a weak little nothing, there was no.” Abruptly she stopped, and glared at the surrounding adults. “Fine, if that’s the way it’s going to be then whatever. Put your damn anklets on Piggy,” she hissed and the director’s eyebrows raised a fraction of an inch. “Put them on and let me out of here. I won’t stay somewhere I’m not welcome.”
    Piggot looked to Miss Militia and nodded and then turned back to the paperwork on her desk while the two adults led the teen out of her office.
    **
    “He’s offering us what?” Brian asked, his tone showing his disbelief openly.
    Lisa looked at the rest of the Undersiders as she explained again. “We are being offered full immunity for all previous bad acts.”
    “And for that we betray our current employer, and help this new one remove him as an issue from the city.” Brian responded. “I don’t know where I could really stand on that.” He looked to Rachel and Alec, “What about you two?”
    “Absolutely full pardons for everything, all the deaths,” Alec asked. Lisa nodded in response, “Rachel being able to walk in the open without worry about being recognized and arrested?” Again Lisa nodded, “That sounds like a good deal to me, as long as we get to keep having fun.” Rachel just nodded her agreement.
    “How did he do it?” Brian asked suspiciously. “Something like that requires at least a director to sign off on I’m sure, if not the Chief Director’s approval.”
    “Well before I talked to him he was having lunch with Director Piggot and I’ve been watching things since then and she has very quietly pushed through the pardons on all our cape names.” Lisa responded. “As far as the upper echelons are concerned we are now, potentially, an affiliated sub-group of the Protectorate.”
    “What do you mean a sub-group?” Alec asked.
    “You know how the Protectorate funds various other cape groups around the world,” the three other teens nodded in response. “Those are considered affiliated sub-groups, the fact that we were considered a group of villains until a few hours ago will be forgotten except that we will probably be used as a training aid around the world. You wanted fun Alec, imagine pulling heists around the world and being paid to do it by the people we are robbing. Having the PRT and Protectorate at your back, helping to get you your sister Brian, and enough money to set up shelters and pay people to take care of your dogs Rachel. The final point, being able to do it all in the open and be ordinary people again.” The rest of the group sat in thought, digesting what she had just finished telling them. Surprisingly it was Rachel that broke the silence.

    “The long and short of it Dad is that I want to be a hero.” At those words Daniel Hebert stared hard across the desk at the man that his daughter had brought to speak with him. The words hurt because he knew how much his daughter needed something like this in her life, but he could not get the danger that it represented out of his mind since her demonstration of controlling a pair of spiders in front of his own eyes.

    “I understand that you want to be a hero Taylor,” Daniel said with a sigh. “My problem is that this is so dangerous. I would rather you not be working as a hero at all, but I imagine that is not going to dissuade you in the least.” He looked at his daughter who blatantly shook her head in the negative. “That said there must be a safer way.”

    “Mr. Hebert,” the man she had brought into his office at the dockworkers union building spoke up catching his attention. His daughter had introduced him as Wolf, it sounded like a cape name though the man wore no mask. “The normal thing would be for your daughter to join the local Wards team or convince her to keep her head down. As you’ve seen the latter isn’t going to happen, as to the former, well the director and I are concerned about some issues between her and one particular member of the Wards.”

    “What kind of issues?” Daniel asked.

    Wolf sighed, “One of them is one of the girls that has been bullying Taylor since she started high school.” The flat tone of the response told Daniel exactly what the man thought of the bullying. “This makes both the director and myself believe that there will probably be issues. She is probably dealing with the girl in question as we speak however there might be other issues with the local Wards team as a result of this. There are also some security issues there that I can’t discuss that my team will not have to deal with.”

    “Alright, I understand the why,” Daniel stated almost as flatly as Wolf had commented on the bullying campaign and its members. “I want to talk to the director myself somehow,” Daniel continued. “I want to hear what she has to say on the matter for my own self.” Wolf just seemed to nod and pulling out a small notebook wrote something down before ripping the page out and handing it to him.

    “Call the public switchboard and ask to speak to director Piggot.” Wolf said calmly. “They will ask for a priority code, when they do give them this sequence. They will connect you directly to the director.”
    ***
    Emily Piggot smiled as she hung up the phone from talking with Daniel Hebert. Wolf was as good as his word, approaching both the Undersiders and a previously unknown cape that Armsmaster had met the night before when the girl had beat down Lung using only insects. Chuckling to herself, Emily stood and stretched her newly repaired body. Another thing that Wolf had been right about, she felt wonderful now that her body closer to what it should be if Ellisburg had never happened. One kidney replaced and the other repaired from a combination of concussive damage to the organ itself as well as years of compensating for being the only kidney. She had never been petite by any stretch of the imagination; however she was no longer three hundred pounds. In addition to cutting away the weight to a more manageable level and fixing her kidneys so that she no longer had to deal with a dialysis machine on a nightly basis, Amy Dallon had fixed her knees so now she could run to lower or at least maintain the weight where it was.
    Wolf had also been the one to tell Armsmaster about the damage to Lung from the insects. This kept the man from administering the tranquilizer that had been prepared for the brute. Panacea had healed the remaining necrosis so that Armsmaster, Miss Militia and two squads of PRT troops could transport the gang leader to the Birdcage for his imprisonment. Yes, the stranger was proving as good as his word on all fronts, and now because of that she and the remaining members of the protectorate would be spending all night planning to take on the ABB before Bakuda’s bombing spree started.
    ***
    Daniel hung up the phone. The PRT director had verified Wolf’s story in a vague and slightly unsettling way, but had not gone into the specifics of what was going on due to “Operational Security Issues”. That had not settled Danny’s anxiety any about the situation, but the fact that yes there was a full pardon and a position in the Wards waiting for Taylor once this was done was reassuring. “We are currently verifying everything that Wolf has told us but so far it has all played out to the letter. The incidents at the school do involve a current ward and are currently being addressed. If it continues before we have the ability to move the person in question away, Wolf will inform me and it will be the last incident at that point.”

    The fact that the man was managing to protect his daughter from the bullies that had made the last year and a half hell for his daughter was a mark in the good column as far as Danny was concerned as well. The questions now were why Wolf was doing this and whether his daughter would open up about what exactly had been going on at school and who was behind it. “I’m still not quite sure about this,” Danny said after a minute of looking at them both in thought. “But I might be willing to allow it once I understand two things.”

    “Ask,” Wolf said leaning forward in his seat. “I may not be able to answer your questions, or you may not believe the answers but I will try.”

    Danny smiled a little at the man’s openness, “For you Mr. Wolf, the question is why. Why intervene in my daughter’s behalf. For you Taylor, I want to know who has been bullying you.” Wolf smiled and Taylor grimaced, but it was Wolf who spoke first.

    “Mr. Hebert, the fact of the matter is despite how I look now, despite what strength I have gained over the years, during my time in high school I was the proverbial ninety-eight pound weakling. In fact the year that I graduated I weighed maybe one hundred and twenty-five pounds.” Wolf said in response. “Add to that, that since I was in elementary school I was the predominant target for the school bullies because of a few issues that made me an easy target for them. The difference here is that I went to a southern, and yes, redneck school. This meant that yes, while you would get in trouble for fighting; responding to the verbal and physical abuse in a physical way was expected. The teachers did nothing, until things became a bit of a brawl and then punished,” a word that Wolf seemed to sneer while doing finger quotes, “both parties for the fight but not the abuse. Adding to this discouragement, my mother had always told me to walk away, not to fight unless I absolutely had no other choice. This became public knowledge somehow and was something that emboldened the bullies to push me far enough to anger me and yes even drive me to tears of frustration but they would not swing. They didn’t have to, they caused enough pain to get their jollies and wouldn’t get in trouble because of who their parents were.”

    At this point Wolf sighed and looked to the ceiling of Danny’s office. “Taylor’s problem is similar in a way,” the man continued. “If she uses her power she is branded as a villain, the school system up here is death on any kind of violence between students, and her tormentors either have personal power, or have family that act as a powerful threat to either her or the school.”

    Danny nodded; the man had a light but distinct southern accent and the scarred knuckles of someone who had used them in the past on a regular basis. The fact that his daughter’s plight mirrored the man’s own youth explained well enough why the man was helping her, so he turned his attention to his daughter and said one word. “Who?”
    Interlude: Panacea
    Medical Officers Log
    Date: 4-12-2011
    Amy Dallon (unranked) reporting

    Amy stopped and looked at the entry into her digital log before deleting it. It was too pretentious by half and the fact of the matter was that she just didn’t like it. Starting over again;

    Medical Journal entry
    4-12-2011
    I was contacted today by my mother to attend two cases at the PRT headquarters. The first was the brute/changer Lung who had apparently run afoul of several dozen black widows and brown recluses. The black widow venom was mostly out of his system due to his regeneration, but the flesh necrosis from the brown recluse venom was taking its toll on his body since he couldn’t get angry to increase his regeneration. From what I have been told he had gotten in a fight with a new cape, an insect master, who hit him with everything she could pull in. The damage was intense and extensive but easy for my power to heal. Afterwards he was loaded in an unmarked van and transported elsewhere. I was told he was being taken out of the city before any breakout attempt could be performed.

    The second case was a little more, touchy. The local PRT Director was dealing with a case of long term renal failure due to injuries sustained on the job as well as the result of several years of forced inactivity and inability to maintain fitness standards. Her kidneys were easily repaired and the excess body mass along with the inherent joint damage that comes along with it.

    Amy leaned back in her desk chair and looked at the medical texts that lined the shelves in her room. According to her mother, she would be going on sabbatical from Brockton Bay General Hospital as of the end of the week, and at the end of the month the entire family would be going to New Orleans to see if one of the Protectorate healers down there could do something about her father’s depression. Amy figured it would be a good chance to learn something new as well as decompress in the month her mother planned on them spending down there. Sighing Amy spun herself in her desk chair, she couldn’t remember the last time her family had taken a vacation together, and things had always been busy for them. Being one of the top parahuman groups in the bay area, New Wave always had their hands full dealing with criminals and they always showed up to Endbringer attacks. Now however things had changed, something had changed where her mother was concerned and it concerned Amy. She didn’t know what it was yet but she had about three weeks to find out before they were supposed to leave town.

    Interlude: Dreams and nightmares

    Brian could hear the screaming, his mother was fighting with her newest boyfriend, again and it scared him. He was scared because he couldn’t fight this one, he wasn’t big enough he wasn’t strong enough, but to protect Aisha, who the fight was about he would. Suddenly the screaming stopped, then there was a crash, almost immediately followed by another, and then suddenly the new boyfriend was in his room, or more accurately he was imbedded in the far wall from where he had entered the room while flying bonelessly through the previous walls.

    Taylor’s eyes opened and once again, she was back in the locker. It was the same thing each time, she was stuck in the locker, and she wasn’t able to get out. She knew intellectually that it was a nightmare, but in the heat of the moment, she wasn’t able to remember that and immediately started screaming. Suddenly the locker’s door was ripped off its hinges and light flooded in, a shadowy hand sat there offering to help her out of the locker.

    She wasn’t going to make it, her brother had just slipped the noose around his neck and there was no way Sarah was going to reach him before it snapped his neck again. She was just passing through the doorway as he kicked the stool out from under himself and as the rope started to grow taunt to take the light of life from his eyes a silver and blue streak flashed through the air above his head, parting the rope and leaving a quivering blade with a blue hilt stuck in the wall while her brother collapsed alive to the floor.
     
    udkudk and knight1 like this.
  2. moonmoon

    moonmoon Getting some practice in, huh?

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2018
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    6
    very interesting, i wanna read more boss!!
     
  3. johnworm1984

    johnworm1984 Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2017
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    724
    You say this is a rewrite but this is extremely close to the one you have over on SV. Way closer than 'starting from scratch with the same premise'. Is it going to start diverging at some point?
     
  4. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2017
    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    605
    No, you misread that. I said instead of rewriting it i am running with it. Basically posting here will be the same as SV with only minor corrections
     
  5. johnworm1984

    johnworm1984 Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2017
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    724
    Huh, you're right. No clue how I misread that. My bad. With this being on QQ, will it have lewds added or like you said just SV's with minor corrections?
     
  6. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2017
    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    605
    Since this is in the sew section it will pretty much be identical to SV, however, it will at the appropriate point have the links to the NSFW section for the Lewds for those who want them
     
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 2
    Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2017
    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    605
    Chapter 2
    “Taylor”

    “Run like deer, die like sheep, or fight like wolves,” Wolf told the Undersiders as they gathered round the stovetop island in the kitchenette of their lair. “The first two states default to civilians for the most part because they have those choices when facing parahumans. If, when shit starts to go down they do the first, they stand a good chance of living, if they stand their ground they stand a good chance of accomplishing the second, the third is where we come in.” I watched as the man flipped the pancakes in one pan before turning the bacon in another while watching a pair of eggs fry in a third. I wasn’t surprised at the appetite that he was cooking for, when I had come out for my morning run he had been there waiting to join me. He set a relatively easy pace till they reached the boardwalk where he moved both of us up to sprints showing how much faster his longer legs could carry him. I simply sprinted to Brian’s location while he did sprints between the two of us until I arrived. Afterwards we bought drinks, coffee for the rest of the team, tea for me and orange juice and a soda for him before going to the loft to cook breakfast. It was as he cooked for us all, whatever we wanted, that he lectured us about the next few days.

    “When a wolf fights, it’s always a struggle for survival;” he continued talking while now filling plates with our breakfasts. “There is never any quarter asked, nor any given, and they almost always attack as a group. Their attacks are distractingly in sync with each other, one grabbing the prey’s attention while another comes in and attacks a weak point. This is how I fight, and it is how you will learn to fight.”

    “That goes against everything the PRT wants and teaches as well as half the unwritten rules.” Lisa responded to which Wolf quirked an eyebrow at the thinker. “And you don’t give a damn what they want, you just want to keep people safe,” at this point a hint of wonder entered her voice. “You want to keep us safe, but why?”

    I watched as Wolf smirked sliding the girl her plate of pancakes and grits, “Because you guys are my pack now,” he answered. “And while we will try to bring our targets in alive I am much more concerned about the five of you making it back to base in one piece at the end of the night. To that effort I’ve requisitioned a number of containment foam grenades and bean bag rounds as well as six AR15/M16’s with under barrel grenade launchers. While I don’t like the base rifle, it’s fairly light, easy to learn on, and I can either maintain them myself with a minimum amount of time or teach you to maintain them yourselves with about the same amount of time. After that we move to sidearms,” at this point he sighed and looked at the five pseudo-villians. “Personally I prefer a forty five caliber, but that said I doubt Lisa or Taylor could handle the recoil of one, Alec even would be iffy, so we’ll be using nine millimeter pistols for sidearms. Ammo for both the rifle and pistol are going to be standard ball however, so I don’t want you taking the safety off of them unless it is absolutely necessary. Again the important thing is for you to come home at the end of the day.”

    “So you’re basically training us to be mercs as well as parahumans so we don’t have to rely on our powers.” Brian stated sounding a little angry. “Why would we want to do that, it only makes us more dangerous to civilians?”

    “It also makes us more useful to him and to ourselves.” Lisa answered thoughtfully. “What he’s doing is showing the world that the unwritten rules as well as the PR battle that the PRT wages around the world is essentially useless. We won’t be faces in the news; we won’t be people that have families that our enemies can respond against. We’ll be shadows that make accomplishments and then disappear only to be seen when we surface again with another victory.”

    Wolf simply nodded, “That however is all for another day,” he said. “For today we have a checklist of things to do to ensure that Coil ends up on the wrong path and finds himself either dead or captured.”

    “So what’s the plan?” Alec asked.

    “Rachel, you go about your normal day,” Wolf said looking at the girl. “You’re the most noticeable and we need someone keeping Coil’s mercs occupied while the rest of us get other things done.” Rachel nodded so Wolf continued. “Just go about your normal day and keep your cell phone on and on you, Lisa might have to text you a meet point later on or you might have to haul ass to help Brian and Alec.” The girl nodded again and finishing her breakfast which was heavy on the meat and eggs before she dumped the plate in the sink and headed out. “Alec, you and Brian have recon to do at a school so try to disappear either into the crowds or use an adjoining rooftop, Lisa will get you the address and a picture but I need you to keep an eye on one Dinah Alcott. She’s the Mayor’s niece and a precog that Coil wants to forcibly recruit. He might go for her early since his plans have been leaked and then discussed in front of him at the PRT. He might decide it’s too dangerous, but then again he might decide to take her with a different group than his mercs so keep your eyes open.”

    “Picture and address of both her home and her school are waiting for you in the printer guys,” Lisa responded as a hum and rattle started under the TV. Putting away her phone she looked at Brian and Alec, “Please try and spot Coil’s mercenaries before they spot you,” she asked before turning back to Wolf and continuing, “I suppose I’m on command, comms and control, is there anything else you want me to be doing?”

    “I want a one command cut out setup so that everyone of Coil’s plants and personnel can be locked out of the communications setup he has, and I need the address of his base.” Wolf answered. “Taylor and I are pulling recon mapping out the base and prepping for possible problems. If Coil calls today to get you to do either a job downtown or else a kidnapping agree to it after letting him sweat for about twenty minutes while you “talk to the team” if it’s the bank robbery, or a jewelry store I have a way to cover for it, if it’s the kidnapping, he’ll really never know what hit him.” Lisa nodded and jotted down an address on a napkin before finishing off her coffee and heading toward her laptop. “Taylor,” he said and I nodded. “We’re going to scout every entrance and exit, along with the layout of Coil’s base,” at this point he smiled. “I want spiders jamming every weapon he has in that place along with a mass of wasps and bees on hand to help the assault. I’m going to have people covering every exit this place has even if I have to recruit Faultline’s crew to do it.

    “So are we going in costume or not?” I asked dropping my plate in the sink, watching as he polished off a third egg along with half of the bacon, three pancakes and a bowl full of grits with butter, salt and pepper on them. He washed it down with the last of his orange juice before answering. “Costume under street clothes, mask in a bag of some sorts. I don’t think we’ll run into trouble, but best to go prepared,” he finished. I nodded and then ran off to get dressed. This was going to be an interesting day regardless of what happened.
    --

    “There it is.” I heard Wolf mutter as we walked past a high-rise office building in the downtown area. Looking I didn’t see anything that screamed secret base or hidden evil mastermind. “Any place I should focus my search?” I asked.

    “Look at ground level and below, see if you can find air access shafts that go down when they should all go up.” Wolf answered, “I nodded and started to focus on my bugs as Wolf guided me toward a park about a block away.

    “Found it,” I muttered. “I’ve got four openings on ground level, one in the elevator shaft, one in the sub-basement, and two into the parking garage.” Suddenly I lost contact with a lot of the bugs that were in the entrance that was hidden in an air shaft that went into the parking garage. Stopping them from sinking any lower I kept the rest of them from dropping into the cold and lack of oxygen. “Something is wrong with one of the entrances.” I said quietly as we sat on a park bench. “Bugs are hitting a cold layer that has absolutely no oxygen.”

    “Interesting,” Wolf said. “Note it and move the bugs to working something else. I get the distinct feeling that we’re working on a short clock here.”

    “Right,” I answered and moved the remainder of the bugs out and down the adjoining airshaft that actually fed air into the underground facility. Mapping out the base was going to be tedious work, but necessary if we were to meet our objectives.

    --

    Alec looked around at the middle school’s front area noting the various vehicles as they came and went. Up the street a panel van from Brockton Bay Electric and Gas was sitting alongside the curb and a set of cones were out around an adjacent manhole cover showing that someone was down working in the junction. “Grue,” he said looking at his stakeout partner who was laid out on the rooftop appearing to take a nap. “I don’t like the look of that panel van over there.”

    “What about it do you not like about it Regent,” his partner asked continuing to lay there and soak up the sun.

    “I don’t know,” Regent responded. “It just seems a little to conveniently placed considering we are trying to foil a kidnapping.” Grue grunted in response.

    --

    Lisa stared at the multiple windows on the big screen TV as she used it in place of her laptop’s screen. The remote keyboard and mouse also allowed her to work from the comfort of the couch while leaving the main piece of electronic hardware sitting hardwired into the screen. The laptop was her cold unit, bought under an assumed name from a generic store for cash and before today it had never been online, indeed it had never even been turned on except to load a single install CD with the programs for hacking the backdoors into the PRT and protectorate bases as well as the city’s CCTV system. All their phones had been replaced with burner phones and fresh Bluetooth units so plugging her phone into her laptop she pulled up the dialing program and started calling the others. “Alright people, let’s get this party started,” she muttered to herself.

    --
    -Wolf-
    “So what was it like?” The question itself caught me off guard as I sat on the bench watching the bugs draw out floor plans that included, indeed even specifically referenced the ventilation system. I answered with a questioning grunt so Taylor repeated herself, even going so far as to clarify the question. “When you fought back against your bullies what was it like?”

    I sighed and took my eyes off both the bugs that were drawing in the dirt and the grid paper that I was using to diagram the floors. “When I fought it was rarely about defending myself, at least not primarily.” I answered. “Defending others was my excuse to beat the hell out of the bullies because it was the same people that picked on me. That got me some respect and out of quite a bit of trouble early on, but unfortunately it simply caused the bullies to fixate on me.” I returned my attention to the diagrams on both the ground and the paper in my lap as I continued speaking. “After a while of that it got to the point that my mother got a bait long after I had reached my boiling point and told both me and the school in no uncertain terms that the next time one of their special snowflakes did anything to me that I had her express permission to beat the ever-loving hell out of the little bastards. It worked because when the one that seemed to get the most enjoyment out of the whole thing decided to pick a fight I stepped up and bloodied his mouth and nose.” At this point I looked over at her and smiled, “this did wonders for my self-esteem so when I transferred schools a couple of years later and a senior decided he was going to shove me into the schools decorative fish pond, I threw him in instead.” At this point I smiled both at the memory and the grin that the story produced on the teen’s face. “That got me a bit of respect and no one really picked on me from that point on. Marine Corps, oh there was the usual slight bit of hazing and inter-service rivalry with the sailors that I went through the same schools with, but that was more the old sibling rivalry that Brian could probably relate to better than you.”

    “I don’t know,” Taylor qualified with a grin. “I grew up over at Emma’s house almost as much as she was at mine, her sisters were practically mine, so I understand picking between siblings.”

    “Point,” I conceded. “Still, the point is that each time I stood up to them it improved my self-esteem, which in turn made it easier for me to stand up to them again later.” I smiled that feral smile again, “beating the hell out of them was just a fringe benefit. Now, what time is it?”

    “About half past one,” Taylor answered, “maybe a little after that, why?”

    “Because I think it will be today,” I answered. “Lisa talk to me, what’s happening?”

    “Alec and Brian are on sight and Rachel is in position about three blocks away walking the trio waiting for school to let out so they can keep an eye on the target as she goes home.” Lisa answered. “I have all but a couple of Coil’s Trojans either blocked, spoofed or destroyed and am sitting on the alert button for the Wards, Protectorate, and PRT so I can alert them as soon as something happens. At that point I’m blowing Coil completely out of the system and locking out all of his access, at which point he’ll know he’s been outed and things will hit the fan.”

    “Good call,” I answered. “Taylor and I are going to find a copy shop or something so that I can get these floor maps we’ve been working on scanned and uploaded to you so we can start planning our assault. I want everyone on the same page when it comes to taking him out. That way we can hopefully avoid any friendly fire incidents.”

    “Understood,” Lisa replied as I got up and wiped the floor plans from the playground sand box. “I’ll keep a watch on things till,” at that point she stopped her attention going elsewhere until a final word summed up the situation nicely. “Shit!”
    --
    Dinah:
    Kids boiled around me as we were released from the confines of school. Looking around I noticed a person on the roof of the building across the street as well as the city maintenance van down the street packing up. My power was throwing conflicting numbers at me about if they would attempt to take me again today, in short I couldn’t tell what was about to happen. This is the effect of two capes powers interfering with one another, the question was whose power was messing with mine.

    Crossing the street and starting toward home, I gripped the bridge of my nose as a wave of pain passed through my head. The headaches that using my power brought on were bad enough, but having to abuse the ability by asking the same question multiple times during the day was making this headache one for the record books, not that it was a large record currently. As I walked I noticed the van that had been up the street from the school pass by me and stop at the corner, just as I felt reality start to fuzz.
    The van door slammed open and one of the two men inside jumped out heading straight for me. My response was to run down the alley parallel to the cross street. Suddenly the man chasing me stumbled into the dumpster that half-filled the alley. It didn’t stop him though, I could hear him pick himself up and come after me again. Moments later he was right behind me again and again I heard him fall. Looking ahead I saw two figures standing there watching, one was talking on his phone while the other seemed focused on the man behind me. The man chasing me was right behind me again and then the man watching made a gesture and the man behind me fell again.
    This caused me to ask the question again. Asking my powers for the safest route home had to be done specifically because it couldn’t give me a straight answer. Before I left the school I had asked and found that walking would be safer than riding the bus even though it was a decent walk home. Asking the same question now my power indicated that the greatest chance of safety lay in turning and running down the alley I was drawing abreast of, so I started running down the alley. Behind me I heard the van accelerate away from the corner and while it took me a minute to reach the far end of the alley I didn’t find it waiting at this corner like I expected. “So little one, need some help?” hearing the voice I turned slowly to face behind me and the two capes that stood there waiting. Surprisingly my power was telling me that safety was with them, so I answered the question, “Yes.”
    --
    Calvert/Coil-
    I ended that timeline and worked at my desk for a few minutes before I split it again. In the first one I stayed at my desk and continued to do paperwork. As an assistant director at the PRT there was a lot of paperwork and the prospect of an Endbringer coming to town was increasing that tenfold. In the second timeline I stood up and walked out my door and straight into the barrel of a PRT issue foam sprayer. “Assistant Director Thomas Calvert you are under arrest.” It didn’t take a second before I was still sitting at my desk and opening a file folder for a .exe file that would wipe any and all existence of me from the system. Unfortunately it was that instant that the door to my office decided to swing open allowing two PRT troopers to enter wearing foam sprayers and immediately start demanding what was probably my surrender.

    As Coil I ended my entire PRT timeline, and then ended the timeline where I had stayed at home that day as a team assaulted my residence. The thing was, even if I had been barred from the building and my normal access had been rescinded I could still access the program that would erase my existence from the PRT’s files. Navigating my computer’s access to the PRT’s database through the various backdoors that I had installed in their systems I tried to do just that when suddenly I found my access revoked here as well. Suddenly the PRT system started to back trace me and then it was a race to disconnect myself from the various proxy servers that I used to access the PRT servers before they could trace me back to my base in Brockton Bay.

    “Damn you Tattletale,” I muttered before putting the base on high alert.
    --

    Meanwhile back at the PRT
    Emily Piggot looked at the empty office that usually housed her assistant director, “He’s in the wind Wolf,” she said into the cell phone in her hand. “I can try and get a kill order, but I doubt that there’s a court that would authorize it.”

    “I understand director,” the voice on the other end replied. “My team currently has his target, and he’s probably trying to figure a way to pick up Tattletale so he can torture her to death and not end that timeline.” Emily was suddenly distracted by an internal messenger running up to her out of breath and handing her a sheet of paper so she missed whatever it was that Wolf had said next.

    Looking at the pages contents she started to swear as she started walking back toward her office. Once she trailed off the voice asked her, “What’s wrong?”

    “Bakuda and Oni-Lee just broke Lung out from his transport to the Birdcage.” She answered and was treated to a solid minute of invective in three different languages.

    “How bad was the damage?” Wolf asked.

    “Thankfully not too bad,” Emily responded sighing and pinching the bridge of her nose as she leaned against her office door closing it. “Report has a total loss of the first transport van to a shaped charge land mine, but the driver survived the vehicle’s backwards flip and he was the only one on board. The second one had Miss Militia in it and she swerved off road to avoid the flying truck only to lose the tires on one side to punji stick pits in the ditch. Armsmaster was in the third and went to the other side of the one lane road where there was a pop-up pike wall that the truck hit killing its engine. Then Oni-Lee popped over to the backs of the surviving transports and popped the locks with shaped charges before extracting Lung from the one he was inside.”

    “Damn,” Wolf grumbled over the phone line, “I miss working with professionals like that. What was the total time from initiation to extraction?” he asked.

    “Less than thirty seconds,” Emily answered with a grumble of agreement at Wolf’s comment as she sat down behind her desk. “The damn van that hit the mine hadn’t even settled yet when they took off.”

    “Total injuries?” Wolf asked.

    “Just the driver had anything significant, and that was a fractured wrist and a concussion,” she answered. “The guards in the back of the trailing transport were strapped in as were Miss Militia and Armsmaster.” At that point Wolf chuckled, “What’s so funny?” she asked.

    “Now I can actually see if I can’t cut a deal with a dragon.” He answered, “We’re going to need him when Levi shows up, and he might be useful against Crawler when the Nine show up after that.”

    At that Emily swallowed hard, “You mean to tell me that the Slaughterhouse Nine are supposed to come back to my city and you hadn’t informed me yet?”

    “Yeah sorry about that,” Wolf replied. “I’ll tell you what, Saturday me and my team will show up in civs for a debrief and general breakdown of what I know. I know Armsy wants to know everything I do, as do all of you, but this is in house only right now, only outsider I want there is Dragon.”

    “Why not the Triumvirate, or the PRT Directors from around the country?” Emily asked honestly curious.

    “Do you remember what I told Armsy about people and their questionable loyalties?” he asked her in response.

    Thinking for a minute Emily remembered what he said about Triumph and Battery and how he couldn’t quite trust them because they had gotten there powers from a shady group instead of triggering normally. “Yes,” she answered.

    “Another tidbit is that Director Costa Brown who is actually Alexandria, works for them and got her powers that way.”
    --
    Dinah

    The two capes had led her to a slightly run down warehouse near the docks and inside to an upstairs office that had been turned into a loft. “Lisa, we’re back,” the larger one of the two called out.

    “Good,” a female voice called out from above, “Wolf and Taylor should be back soon,” and just behind them the door opened allowing three dogs and an older teen to walk in. The girl was coiling three leashes in her hand as she entered and looked at the two capes and herself. “And here is Rachel, so as soon as Wolf and Taylor get back we can start planning how to take down Coil.”

    “So we’re really going to take him down?” The smaller of the two asked as they led me up the stairs.

    “Yes, and not quickly enough in my book.” The female voice replied as I reached the top of the stairs. Looking around I saw a blonde sitting on a large couch in front of a big screen TV and laptop seeming to manage a half dozen sub screens all at one. “Hey Dinah, why don’t you come over here and have a seat,” she said patting the couch next to her. “Grue, we need to start prepping for a debriefing with the PRT on Saturday, Wolf said to have you write up a quick report on what you and Regent observed today.” The larger of the two capes grunted before grabbing the smaller one by the arm and heading over to a small dinner table that was stuck back in a corner.

    “What about me?” I asked after sitting down on the couch. Looking at the screens I could see they were feeds from various cameras throughout a pair of different buildings.

    “Well if you don’t mind helping me, I’m trying to pick out Coil’s moles in both the PRT and Protectorate bases,” she answered. “My name is Lisa,” she continued, “Tattletale when I’m in costume. Brian, aka Grue is the beefcake over there while Alec is the fop known as Regent.”

    “Hey, I resemble that remark,” the smaller of the two capes that had rescued me replied while the other just grinned slightly.

    “That means the other one is Rachel Lindt, aka Hellhound,” I responded only to be cut off as the butch looking girl responded.

    “Bitch,” she said in a soft but forceful voice, “I prefer Bitch.”

    “Ok, but I don’t think that anyone is going to be comfortable calling you that,” I answered. “Not to mention it’s also considered a bad word for kids to be using.” Bitch only grunted in a tone that I took to mean that she didn’t really care about that. “How about Cerberus? That was Hades’ three headed dog that guarded the gates of hell,” I asked. She grunted in response which I took to mean she would think about it.

    Turning back to Tattletale and what she was doing I started paying close attention to the people on the screens. “How would Coil get in touch with his people?” I asked.

    “As far as I know he would call them from a cell phone,” Tattletale answered.

    “Do you have the number he would call from?” I asked.

    She stopped and thought for a minute, “Possibly, it could be in my phone,” she answered.

    “Know any good hackers?” I asked.
    --
    Leet
    “You would not believe who just called asking for a favor,” I heard Steve say as he reentered the lair. I looked up from the wiring harness I was soldering and quirked an eyebrow in question. “Tattletale, she wants me to try and hack a phone for its contents.”

    “Does she have the phone or is it a remote hack?” I asked turning back to my work. The wiring for the control surfaces wasn’t going to fix itself and if we ever wanted our fighters to work I was going to have to either make my power work with me or find a work around for it. “And how much is she able to pay because hacking ain’t cheap.”

    “Three thousand for the attempt,” he said pulling one of my more successful portable rigs off of a shelf. “Remote, and she said she might be able to swing more depending on what I get out of it, but three thousand as a base.”

    I grunted in response, the amount sounded about right but for safety’s sake Steve was going to go off site to do the hack. “Want someone watching your back?” I asked.
    --
    Interlude: Lung
    While this was not the first time I awoke to an explosion, it was the first time I had done so while encased in containment foam. I could feel the transport van that I was in shift to the right and start to bounce as it hit the shoulder. Suddenly the whole van dropped into holes and I felt the vehicle shake as the tires exploded all around. Looking around I saw that they had cleared away enough foam that I could see and hear clearly, but I wasn’t able to move much and I couldn’t escalate my ability. A few seconds later there was a flash in the direction of what had to be the back door and then I was looking at Oni Lee. “One second,” he said and then we were gone from the truck and amongst trees.
    A few teleports later we were well clear of the PRT’s probable response and then I was being coated in chemicals to dissolve the containment foam. The tinker who had invented this foam was smart in that the chemical make-up didn’t dissolve under a single common chemical or molecule like acetone or gasoline. No, it took a particular recipe for the containment foam to dissolve. Unfortunately for the PRT someone had managed to figure out and would sell to whomever had the money to pay and Bakuda or Oni Lee one had apparently purchased the recipe for his breakout.

    “Thank you both,” I said once I was clean and dressed once more. “Both of you will be rewarded greatly for this. Now however we must return to what is ours and maintain our claim against those that would take what is ours.”

    “And what of the one who did this great Lung?” Bakuda asked.

    “Do we know who was responsible?” I asked. “If so I wish to speak to her under truce.”

    “Her, master?” Oni Lee said as he opened the door to the van that they had brought to take us home. “All the Protectorate said was that a previously unknown Vigilante cape who wished to remain nameless.”

    I grunted, and then responded. “We will ask then, and keep an eye open.” And with that I slipped into silence as we headed back toward Brockton Bay, it could have been a rather effeminate male, but the scent of the shampoo from her hair said female.

    **
    Saturday, April 15, 2011
    PRT Headquarters 1200

    We had shown up for the 0800 tour of the PRT building and the Ward’s areas and until we reached one of the secure conference rooms there had been nothing to tell the poor tour guide that anything was different than it normally would be. When the directory told her to “Bring her tour group in,” however, the tour guide was flabbergasted but obeyed. That she was immediately told to go outside herself simply floored her though.

    “Mister Wolf,” Director Emily Piggot said nodding to me as we me and my group entered. I was taken by surprise at this point as the five other members of our tour group entered as well. “Sarah, Neil, Crystal, Carol, Mark,” the others of the group all nodded to the director as they came in and took a seat. I wanted to hit myself for not recognizing Carol Dallon amongst the group. After the Undersiders took seats between the two groups of adults I looked to the PRT’s end of the table.

    “Miss Militia, Armsmaster, it’s good to see that Lung’s jailbreak caused you no lasting harm,” I said first addressing one of the elephants in the room. “Director Piggot thank you for gathering the people for this meeting and providing the place for it. How secure is this room?” I asked.

    “Probably not as secure as I would like.” The PRT official answered. “Do you have a way of making it more secure?” she asked.

    I nodded and then looked to the Undersiders, “Fry’em,” was all I said before turning back to the other three people at the PRT’s end of the table. “While that’s being dealt with, Clockblocker, Vista, Deputy Director?”


    “Rennick,” the man answered.

    I nodded, “Deputy Director Rennick, thank you for your attendance as well.” A subtle knock from the bottom side of the meeting table signaled that any listening devices in the room or able to listen to the room had been disabled. “New Wave, thank you for also showing up. I’ve explained a good bit to Brandish, Armsmaster, Miss Militia and Director Piggot, but now you will all get the full briefing which will take a few hours at least, and that is just to hit the broad strokes.”

    Hours later I looked around the secure conference room at the faces of the people in the meeting. All of them had a look of shock on their face at what I had just finished telling them. The knowledge that their entire world was a work of fiction to me was, I was sure, disconcerting. That I was able to tell them things that they didn’t think anyone else knew was even scarier. That I knew these things assured their attention while I told them the sordid tale that was Worm.

    “So what you are telling us is that effectively everything we’ve been doing has been useless.” Sarah Pelham said from one end of the table.
    “Not totally but in regards to the Endbringers, somewhat,” I answered glancing at the leader of New Wave. “Part of the problem is that they, like the Siberian are projections of their creator. Unlike the Siberian, Eidelon doesn’t know he controls them since they are working off his subconscious mind to find a “worthy adversary”. At this point I looked up at the ceiling, “though honestly I don’t know for certain if it’s supposed to be for him or for Scion.”

    “How much of this is likely to still occur now that you have shown up and interfered.” Director Piggot asked. Looking over toward her I could see the worry etched on the leaner face she now sported.

    “It depends on what we act on and how we act on it,” I replied a look of consideration on my face. “If we do nothing other than what we’ve already done, then things will likely move parallel to what they originally did to a degree. Oh, Coil won’t get Dinah, and the Undersiders will have a price on their heads if they stay out on the street, but those are things we can handle ourselves. On the other hand, my plan calls for some serious breaking of the canon storyline, starting with the criminals.

    “Can I say something here?” Clockblocker asked, a look of utter shock and wonder on his now uncovered face. When I nodded he continued, I had a feeling about what he was about to say.

    “This is complete and utter,” he started.

    “Bullshit?” I finished for him. “Dennis, I told an all-powerful being that I would be his entertainment simply because I was bored to tears with my life as it was. No prep time, no control over where I went just that I could choose when I left to jump into the next world. And before you ask, yeah if this world is going to go completely to hell why haven’t I left yet? It’s simple enough, because with all that I know I can make a difference. There are hundreds of stories out there where people are just dropped into this world, having the knowledge of the storyline or not. Anyone who wants to make a difference, they have two options, throw their entire knowledge out on the internet and get labeled a kook, or go to the PRT. This was which way I chose, though co-opting the Undersiders is doing yet another good deed that at least lends toward what my original purpose here is. Which is to entertain.”

    “What is your next step Mister Wolf?” Sarah Pelham asked from their end of the conference table.
    **
    Sommer’s Rock
    Lung looked around the bar known as Sommer’s Rock and shook his head. Four tables had been pushed together in the center of the room with eight chairs set two to each corner. Walking around the tables he found a card with an eastern style dragon embossed on it in front of one of the seats. The seat immediately around the corner from it had a stylized image of a ninja, looking over at his lieutenant Lung smirked behind his mask. “They were smart enough to anticipate who I would bring with me,” he commented.

    “So the dragon beat me here,” a voice said from behind him causing the gang leader to turn around. Behind him he watched as Kaiser walked through the bar’s door looking around. “It would be unseemly to be seen entering after one such as you.”

    “Yet one cannot necessarily control the flow of traffic,” the dragon of the bay responded taking his seat as the steel nazi took in the table that Lung had just himself been looking at. “Such is the way of the world. Did you call for this meeting Kaiser?”

    “No Lung, I assumed you did,” Kaiser responded finding his seat as well as one marked for one of his followers.

    “Interesting,” Lung replied. “If you didn’t and I didn’t, and I doubt Skidmark did,” the look the two gang leaders shared told the other how likely each felt that was, “then who pray-tell called this meeting?”

    “That would be me,” a third, female voice answered causing the two villains to turn toward the bar and the door to the back of the bar. Walking from the back area of the bar a muscular woman with a decidedly butch appearance stalked forward in a recognizable uniform.

    “And why would the PRT want to meet with the three biggest gangs in the city under truce.” Kaiser commented. “You know you couldn’t get away with just arresting us.”

    “Of course I couldn’t Kaiser,” the woman responded. “There are however other reasons to call a meeting, namely introducing you to a new cape in town and getting you to possibly listen to him.”

    “And why would we consider doing that Miss?” Kaiser asked causing the woman to smirk.

    “Because Max,” she paused a moment as Kaiser’s eyes bugged out slightly. “He knows all of our dirty little secrets.”

    “What is your name madam?” Lung asked as he stood while the woman stood behind a chair. He had seen the embossment on that placard but Kaiser had not.

    “Emily Piggot,” the woman said with a smile as she looked at the two villains, “Director of the Brockton Bay PRT.” The pair of them looked at the woman not seeing the muscular woman in front of them but the obese director they had known before looking at each other and nodding.

    “I see,” Lung said slowly. “I take he has confided these secrets in you, the PRT and the Protectorate?”

    “Some,” Piggot answered. “One of the first things he told us was the, length to which your people would go in freeing you Mr. Oshi. You seem to command a good deal of loyalty.”

    “And for that I thank them most graciously,” Lung answered. “This person, I assume he wishes to speak with us, else we would not be here. Do you know why?”

    “Because I want you in on the plan to kill an Endbringer.” I answered walking through the door from the back. “I know almost everything about the players in Brockton Bay,” I continued. “Those that can be helpful and those that are going to do nothing but be a pain in our collective arse. We are however needing to wait for one more….” My sentence was cut short by the door to the bar slamming open and a voice slurring out, “We be here Biatch.”

    Collectively six pairs of eyes tracked Skidmark and Squealer as they stumbled through the door and over to the table. “And finally the last two people are here,” I stated flatly. “Gentlemen, Ladies, I’m going to ask someone to step out of the back and deal with the inebriation of our final members here so that we can get down to business if that is amenable to you?”

    “No, I would rather he be left the way he is right now,” Squealer said depositing the drunken Skidmark into his chair. “That way the adults can speak while the children have their fun.”

    Taking my seat I smiled at Squealer before speaking, “By all means then, sit dear lady, I take it you are sober for this meeting?”

    “Unfortunately yes,” she answered. “Though I’m probably the one you most needed to talk to anyway correct?”

    “In a word, yes.” I answered, “It is likely going to break some rules,” a snort from Piggot made the comment of likely a definite yes. “But I’m going to need all the tinkers working together on a kill vehicle to hit Leviathan with when he arrives here next month.”

    “How do you know an Endbringer is coming next month, I don’t think any thinker has been able to predict them yet,” Kreig asked from his seat next to Kaiser. Then man had almost vanished next to Kaiser even with his World War Two Nazi Dress uniform.

    “No thinker can, but then again, I’m not a thinker.” I answered. “Call me what you will, time traveler, dimensional refugee, I don’t care, but I know what’s about to happen, and I have an idea on how to deal with the problems, and turn you each a nice profit in the interim.” This caused all of them to eyeball me like I was a side of beef and they hadn’t had anything to eat for a month.

    “So what is your plan,” Lung asked. “It obviously involves all of us working together,” a look at the table’s occupants made him add, “or at least us getting along and not attacking each other.”

    “In short yes,” I answered. “But the other part is that each of your groups is going to have to drop something’s that are fairly profitable and shift your attention to other avenues of acquiring money.” Looking at the three groups I could see I had their attention. “Borders as they are now do not move,” I continued looking each of them in the eye and receiving a nod. “No forced prostitution,” Lung cocked his head at that so I explained. “There are plenty of women out there that are willing to pay for the protection to ply their trade, use that.” The dragon cape nodded thoughtfully, “protection rackets should protect against actual damage and theft. If someone that is under your protection is robbed, find the thief and deal with them without killing them. Make them happy to be handed over to the police, but don’t tax the system permanently.” Kaiser nodded at this as did Lung. “And while the ABB get the seaward smuggling turf and the Empire gets the landward smuggling turf, the Merchants get passage on both to bring in their supplies and distribute their product out of the city. There is a list of things that are heavy and supremely damaging drugs that I want you to stop selling.” At that Squeeler nodded in understanding, “Just as I want the animal fights to stop.” Kaiser twitched at that so I gave him an out for his most profitable vice, “You can maintain human and parahuman pit fights but only with willing fighters, animals don’t get to choose, and I would hate to have to go on a raid against an ally’s facility because one of my people found it, distasteful.” The slow nod from Kaiser seemed to mean he understood, I sure hoped so, “I’m not saying we’re going to eliminate crime in the city; that would be impossible. Instead, we shall organize the crime so that no one has to fight, and the streets are safer, gentler than they have been in the recent past.”

    “And what of the independents, the new faces that show up?” Kaiser asked causing Lung to nod.

    “Yes, the Undersiders, Uber and Leet, and Coil, what of them,” Lung added?

    “The Undersiders are now working for me instead of Coil, and Coil is on our hit list for him to either end up in custody, dead or at the very least out of town.” The three gang leaders nodded, “the problem is his power makes him a slippery shit to chase down. Uber and Leet I am going to go talk to in the next few days and recruit them to the tinker projects which will take them out of town and off the screen as far as the Bay is concerned.”

    “And what do you and the PRT get out of this?” Squealer asked.

    “A quiet city.” Piggot answered shortly and then paused a second before explaining. “Look, none of you like this idea, hell I don’t either, but the idea is to bring something of a golden age of organized crime to the area, at least for the next two months. In that time we plan to deal with Coil, the Teeth, an Endbringer and the Slaughterhouse Nine. All of which will probably require help from all of you of one type of another. Wolf has told me his plan, using one of Bakuda’s time stop devices to pin Leviathan in place while a kinetic kill vehicle is launched and hits him out on the barrier before he can get into the bay itself.”

    “But as much as I hope for that to work, or at least help, I don’t expect it to. Fighting Levi is going to be a pain, but I expect having the Rage dragon of Kyushu on our side will help while we attack its weak spot will give us an edge.” The last bit was said while making air quotes and held their attention long enough for what I had said to sink in. It was Lung that broke the surprised silence of the group.

    “It has a weak spot?” the Dragon asked incredulously.
     
    udkudk and moonmoon like this.
  8. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,395
    Likes Received:
    42,364
    Interesting, but one problem I've spotted.

    Coil has two timelines.

    If he's in his base in one and his office in the other, he can't drop the office one and then restart another one in his office.

    Likewise, if he drops the base one and starts a second one in his office, he can't revert back to his base.

    So what basically happens is that he walks out his office door, gets foamed and drops that timeline. This makes his sole timeline the one in his base. If he splits at this point, both timelines are in his base.
     
  9. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2017
    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    605
    Ack

    I said something to this when originally posted in SV/SB that boils down to there being no real way for two timelines to be enough to pull off all of his shenanigans, so here he gets more.

    In the first thread someone pointed out that he had a body double to play as Culvert so that common security measures like annual MRI scans wouldn't catch him. Here, he just plays ring around the rosy with them until they give up and then uses his power to deep six the paperwork.
     
Loading...