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Confrontation II: the Reckoning (Worm fanfic) COMPLETE

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, Jul 26, 2015.

  1. Threadmarks: Index

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    While embarking on therapy-mandated activities, Taylor and Sophia literally run into someone on the Boardwalk. There will be far-reaching consequences.

    1) This story is set in the Wormverse, which is owned by Wildbow. Thanks for letting me use it.
    2) I will follow canon as closely as I can. If I find something that canon does not cover, then I will make stuff up. If canon then refutes me, then I will revise. Do not bother me with fanon; corrections require citations.
    3) I welcome criticism of my works, but if you tell me that something is wrong, I also expect an explanation of what is wrong, and a suggestion of how to fix it. Note that I do not promise to follow any given suggestion.

    This is a sequel to Confrontation.

    Part One: An Unexpected Encounter (below)
    Part Two: Conflict Resolution
    Part Three: Repercussions
    Part Four: When Right ... is Wrong ... is Right Again
    Part Five: Bonding Time
    Part Six: At Long Last
    Part Seven: The New Normal
    Part Eight: All In
    Part Nine: All Out
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
    cedeelbe, Dragonin, Trilonias and 3 others like this.
  2. Threadmarks: Part One: An Unexpected Encounter

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Confrontation II: the Reckoning

    Part One: An Unexpected Encounter

    “I understand, Taylor, that Sophia has revealed to you the essence of why your previous best friend turned on you.” It was almost a statement, almost a question. Taylor found herself almost drawn into a response. Mrs Yamada was very good at this.

    “Uh, yes, she did,” she agreed. Glancing across to where Sophia sat, she went on. “It's got to do with the ABB attacking Emma and her father, where Emma was traumatised. Sophia got to her when she was vulnerable and convinced her of her bullshit way-of-life philosophy -”

    “Hey, it's not all bullshit,” protested Sophia. “It's about the strong and the weak.” She paused, and added as an afterthought, “and you're pretty damn strong yourself. You want to say it doesn't exist, you want to give away your power, never use it again?”

    “If I was just using my powers to hurt people, I'd deserve to lose them, yeah,” retorted Taylor.

    “I was using mine to help people.” Sophia's tone was defensive.

    “Okay, everyone take a breath,” Mrs Yamada's voice cut through the gathering tension. “Taylor, Sophia, I want you to do a mental exercise for me. Can you do that?”

    “Yes, Mrs Yamada,” Taylor responded. Sophia just nodded; the 'bullshit way-of-life philosophy' comment seemed to have hit a nerve.

    “Good. All right, Taylor, I want you to think of five situations in which a strong-versus-weak philosophy would be a good idea. Sophia, I want you to think of five situations where it would be a bad idea.”

    Each of them looked startled and somewhat discomfited. “But I don't believe that,” protested Taylor, about one second before Sophia could express almost exactly the same sentiment.

    “So stretch your mind. Try to imagine a situation where what you currently believe doesn't apply.” She looked at both of them. “Taylor?”

    Taylor blinked. “Oh, uh, in a beehive. If bees are hatched weak or malformed, they are destroyed before they can weaken the rest of the hive.”

    “Very good. Sophia?”

    Sophia's forehead was sheened with sweat. “Uh, shit. Sorry. Um. Parents and kids. Parents are supposed to support and educate their kids, not just treat them any old how.”

    “Also good,” Jessica praised her. “Tell you what, we're getting close to time, so I'll leave the rest of them for your next joint session. But in the meantime, I've got a homework assignment for the two of you.”

    “Homework?” Taylor didn't like the sound of that.

    “I thought this was therapy, not school,” Sophia objected.

    “If you don't learn from therapy, it does nothing for you,” Mrs Yamada pointed out. “This is a joint activity for the both of you.”

    “Okay,” Taylor responded cautiously. “What is it?”


    “This is the worst idea in the world.” Sophia leaned on the Boardwalk rail, her feet unsteady under her, for good reason.

    Taylor finished fastening her own roller-blades and stood up. Unsteadily, she set herself in motion, wobbled over to Sophia, and grabbed the rail beside her. “Apparently Mrs Yamada didn't think so.”

    “But roller-blades?” Sophia's voice rose. “Somehow she knew that neither one of us knows how to rollerblade.”

    “So we're supposed to figure it out, and teach each other. I guess that was the 'joint' part of 'joint activity'.”

    "But I've never used roller-blades before," groused Sophia.

    "Well, nor have I."

    "Well, you're staying up a lot better than me, which is totally unfair."

    "Oh, I used to go ice skating with Emma when we were kids. She was always better at it than me, but I could stay upright at least."

    There was a pause before Sophia spoke next. "Uh, about Emma ... "

    Taylor stood upright and let go of the rail. "What about Emma?" Her voice was noticeably colder.

    "I, uh, I'm sorry for giving her the idea to bully you."

    "After the three of you bullied me for so long."

    Sophia winced at the cutting tone. "Yeah, well, it's not something that's easy to stop. But for what it's worth, I am sorry."

    "Mainly because you got caught."

    She didn't bother denying it. "But also because of what I did. And because now I know what an idiot I was. You could have killed me a dozen times over once you got your powers. There's weak and there's strong, and then there's stupid. That was me."

    “And still you did it.”

    “Yeah, well, I'm saying sorry, okay?”

    Taylor moved away from the rail, brow furrowed in concentration. “Still doesn't give me the why of it.”

    “I told you why!”

    “No, you told me why you told Emma your philosophy, so she could be strong. Doesn't explain why you picked on me. Give me your hand.”

    Sophia extended a hand; Taylor took it. “You were there. Emma needed to compare herself, to be able to prove to herself that she was getting stronger.” She let herself be guided away from the rail.

    “Put your feet like mine. Your weight farther forward. So how long have you been in the Empire Eighty-Eight?”

    Sophia jerked her head around to stare at Taylor. The motion destroyed her already-precarious balance; her feet went out from under her, and she landed hard on her butt. Taylor nearly went over too, but managed to skate in a half-circle and retain her equilibrium. She looked down at Sophia, still gripping her hand. “You okay?”

    “You did that on purpose!” Sophia glared up at her.

    “Well, I didn't mean to make you fall over, but you have to admit, it was kind of funny.” Taylor's mouth quirked, but she didn't laugh out loud, as much as she wanted to.

    “What the fuck did you mean, calling me a Nazi?” demanded Sophia, trying to get her feet under her.

    Taylor braced herself, centring her weight over the skates. “Well, that's what you were doing. Back in World War Two, the Nazis needed to get the people on side, so they invented a common enemy that had been there all the time.” She paused, and grunted as Sophia came to her feet.

    “You're talking about the Jews.” Sophia stared at her. “That's why they hated them, why they killed them?”

    “Sure.” Taylor shifted her weight, moved around Sophia a little. “Watch your feet. See how I move mine? Move yours the same way. The Jews and other minorities were an easy target; a lot of people already disliked them. They just made it official. You made me your target so that Emma could have someone to look down on, to make herself feel better.”

    “Fuck.” Sophia moved her feet carefully. Her natural athleticism, and years of experience of rooftop-running, were coming to her rescue; she seemed to be moving more easily now. “And the Nazis did this shit first?”

    “It's what they do,” Taylor told her bluntly. “So how does it feel to be a Nazi?”

    Sophia glared. “Stop calling me a Nazi!”

    Taylor glared back. “Then stop being one!”

    There was a long pause, then Sophia ventured, “I don't hate Jews.”

    “It's not about race hatred,” Taylor explained patiently. “It's about setting yourself up as being better than others. Master race bullshit. Strong versus weak. Predator versus prey. Ubermensch versus subhumans. All part of the same bullshit package.”

    They began to move off down the Boardwalk, Sophia still a little unsteady, while Taylor moved with much more confidence.

    “So why race?”

    Taylor looked around; Sophia was watching her feet carefully. “Sorry?”

    “Why race?” asked Sophia again. “Why use that as a point to attack them on?”

    “It's a visible thing. They look different, therefore they are different. It's a short step from 'different' to 'wrong'.”

    “And that's how I was treating you. Like they used to treat people like me.”

    “And how the Empire wants to keep doing even today, yeah.”

    She turned her head to look at Taylor; for the first time ever, her eyes were full of pain. “Shit, Taylor, I -”

    “Look out!”


    The collision could have been avoided, even at the last moment, but Sophia misjudged and went right instead of left. The young man in her path went the same way; they went down in a tangle of limbs. Taylor nearly had a collision of her own, but she leaned one way, the teenage girl in front of her leaned the other, and they brushed past each other.

    Taylor skated in a circle and came back. “Geez, I'm sorry,” she exclaimed. “Are you guys okay?”

    The two on the ground were still trying to get themselves sorted out; the other girl, instead of helping, was pointing and cackling with mirth. “Holy shit, that was awesome!”

    “Shut up, Aisha,” her male companion retorted, pushing himself to a seated position. “How about you help, instead of laughing?”

    He was, Taylor belatedly realised, quite muscular. Very muscular indeed. Sophia looked up into his face. “Hi,” she murmured winsomely. “I'm Sophia.” Taylor blinked; she had never heard Sophia use that tone before.

    “Uh, hi,” he replied. “Brian. You okay?”

    “Oh, uh, my ankle's a bit sore,” she prevaricated. “Not sure if I'll be able to stand on it.”

    “Well, let's have a look at it, then,” he stated. Not moving from where he was, he took her ankle and started probing it with what looked like strong, capable hands. Taylor felt a stab of jealousy; no-one ever offered to check my ankle for injury when I fell over. Especially not a hunk like that.

    “Hi,” the girl announced herself, extending a hand. “Aisha. That big lunk's my brother Brian.”

    “Taylor. That's Sophia.” Taylor shook the girl's hand; she and her brother were both at least as dark-skinned as Sophia herself, but Aisha sported a purple streak through her hair. She also wore a microscopic top, denim shorts, and luridly-coloured tights; not too bad for the Boardwalk, but Taylor suspected that this was her daily wear anywhere she went.

    Breaking into Taylor's thoughts, Aisha tilted her head at where Brian was still checking out Sophia's ankle, their heads close together. When she spoke, her voice was low enough that neither Brian nor Sophia caught it. “Smooth.”

    So she'd seen it too. Twisted ankle, my ass. “Him or her?”

    Aisha smirked. “Yes.”

    Okay, yeah, her I like.

    “Well, it doesn't look damaged, and there's no swelling that I can detect,” Brian decided, although Taylor noticed that he didn't take his hands off of Sophia's ankle. “But you might want to take the weight off of it for a while.”

    “Help me to a bench?” asked Sophia, giving him the puppy-dog eyes treatment.

    “Sure, okay.” He wriggled out from under her, and helped her to her feet, making it look effortless. They made the trek across to one of the benches that dotted the Boardwalk, and she let him assist her in sitting down. “Here, I'll help you get these off.” He bent over the fastenings on the roller-blades. “They'll just be in the way, and you probably don't want to be on them for the rest of the day.”

    “Thanks,” Sophia told him, her gratitude sounding genuine. “I didn't want to come out rollerblading, seeing that I've only just really started to learn how, but Taylor insisted, and we're besties, so I can't really say no to her … “

    Taylor's eyes opened with with outrage. It wasn't my idea! But she couldn't really say as much in front of the brother and sister, not without raising more questions. So she controlled the reaction, although she wasn't certain that Aisha hadn't caught it.

    Brian looked up at her after removing the second set of roller-blades. “I get that you're friends and all,” he noted, mild censure in his voice, “but maybe you shouldn't push Sophia too fast on this sort of thing. You're obviously better at it than she is, and you can see how easy it is to get hurt if you're not careful.”

    Oh, how right you are, Taylor wanted to say, but didn't. Just for a moment, while the other two were looking away from her, Sophia grinned at Taylor then stuck her tongue out at her. This time, Taylor controlled her expression of outrage, and instead forced contrition into her voice and features.

    “Yeah, sorry. It's obvious that Sophia needs a lot more work on this sort of thing before she's going to get anywhere.” Hah, see how you like that.

    Taylor had seen Sophia Hess on the running track; she had a sort of grim determination to her. A drive to win, that had stood her in good stead, time and again. Of course, Taylor had been secretly cheering on the other contestants in the races, given her personal history with Sophia, but she was well aware of the girl's competitive streak. So she noted the glint in Sophia's eye when she shot that barb. Let's see if that gets you on your feet again.

    But instead, Sophia changed the subject. “Thanks for the save, Brian. I'm sure things would've turned out a lot worse than they did if I hadn't run into you. So are you and your sister just hanging out down here on the Boardwalk, or were you going anywhere in particular?”

    Taylor counted herself as being socially oblivious in most cases, but even she could spot the subtext here; wherever you're going, could I come along too? She wasn't entirely certain whether it was to do with procuring an excuse to avoid the rollerblading, to spend more time with the eminently hunky Brian, or a combination of the two.

    I have to admit, he does make for some very nice eye candy. Mind you, if he was feeling up my ankle like he was with hers, I'd probably spontaneously combust on the spot.

    Brian didn't answer immediately, and Taylor hoped that the reply would be in the negative; they really had to get back to working on their rollerblading and their issues. As nice as Brian was to look at, he would ultimately be a distraction and an impediment to free conversation.

    Unexpectedly, it was Aisha who replied. “Hey, yeah, why not. Big bro was gonna take me to see a movie. He can take one of you two, or even both. I'll just go do my own thing.”

    She started to move away; Brian cleared his throat. “Aisha.”

    “What?” She was still walking away, but more slowly.

    “Get back here.” His tone was mild, but there was steel under it.

    “You're no fun.” Her clothing contained nothing with flounces on it, but she managed to flounce back to them anyway. “Come on, bro. You've got a couple of real live girls to talk to. You don't need me as well.”

    “Dad said to keep an eye on you and don't let you wander off.”

    “Dad can go bite my -”

    “Dad being willing to take you in is the only reason you're not at Mom's.”

    Taylor glanced at Sophia; she was obviously listening to everything, just as Taylor was, and was probably equally lost. Sophia cleared her throat. “Uh, Brian?”

    Startled, he glanced at her. “Uh, sorry, family argument. Shouldn't have aired that in front of you.”

    “You hear one family argument, you've heard them all,” she pointed out. “I'd love to see a movie with you.” A sly glance in Taylor's direction. “Taylor can watch Aisha if they don't want to come along.”

    Nice try. I wonder what Brian would think of me putting your tracker bracelet back on to leave you with him. The bracelet, temporarily removed for the purposes of rollerblading, currently resided in Taylor's pocket.

    “Sorry, no can do. We're sticking together on this one. Just remember that we've got that homework to get done after you've had your movie date, Sophia. Mrs Yamada's pretty strict.”

    From the sour look that flashed across Sophia's face, she'd made her point. Sophia could duck out of therapy-mandated activities for so long, but not forever. Taylor would get her back up on roller-blades, and would finish that talk with her.

    “Hey!” protested Aisha. “What about me? Don't I get a say in this?”

    “Yeah, you do,” Brian told her. “You get to come into the movies with us, or you get to go home to Dad's. Your choice.”

    The younger girl grimaced. “You suck.”

    “Doubtless. Your choice?”

    Aisha rolled her eyes. “Fine. Let's go to the movies.”

    “Look, if you don't want to go to the movies with us -” began Taylor.

    “Nah, nah,” Aisha assured her. “It's not you, it's him. You got a big brother?”

    “No,” Taylor told her.

    “I do,” Sophia put in.

    “Then you know what I mean,” Aisha told Sophia. “Big brothers can be such douches, you know? Always sticking their noses in.”

    “Oh, don't I know it,” sighed Sophia; Taylor couldn't tell if she was serious or not. “Other people's big brothers are just fine though.” She shot Brian a mischievous grin.

    Aisha rolled her eyes again. “Wow, come on, let's get to the movies already. I'm getting diabetes here.”

    “Shush, Aisha,” Brian ordered, ignoring her raised middle finger. “Sophia, how does your ankle feel?”

    “Better.” She rose and gingerly tested it. “Still a bit tender, but I can walk on it.”

    “Great. You got shoes?”

    “In my backpack.” She indicated the pack that she wore, almost a twin to the one that Taylor had on. It was how they'd gotten the 'blades to the Boardwalk in the first place.

    Taylor had an idea. “Hey, Aisha, can you rollerblade?”

    “A bit, why?”

    Taylor turned to Sophia. “Can Aisha use your blades? We can get some exercise in while you two slowpokes are trudging to the movies.”

    Sophia barely hesitated before handing them over. “Don't break them. Or better yet, do break them. I'm beginning to hate the sight of them.”

    “Yeah, yeah, good try,” Taylor told her. Sophia wrinkled her nose at her.

    The roller-blades fit Aisha reasonably well; she was obviously as rusty as Taylor had been when she first got back on to them, but within moments was moving easily. “Okay, this is cool,” she admitted, sweeping around in a curve and getting back to them.

    “Let me guess,” Sophia challenged. “You used to go ice-skating when you were a kid?”

    “Nah,” Brian replied. “We had a roller rink near our place for years before it shut down.”

    “Is it just me, or does everyone but me know how to rollerblade?”

    Sophia's question was probably rhetorical, but Brian answered her anyway. “I don't know how, either.”

    Aisha grinned. “But he does know kung fu.”

    “What, really?” asked Taylor, startled. He is built, and moves like he can take care of himself, but an actual martial artist?

    “Not really,” he replied. “Not one of the official styles, anyway. I'm more of a mixed martial arts fan. I basically take what I need from different styles.”

    “That's how Bruce Lee did it,” Sophia noted. “I dabble a bit myself. Maybe we can spar, sometime.”

    “When your ankle's better,” he pointed out. “Movie first, sparring later?”

    “Movie first, sparring later,” she agreed.

    “Is that what they're calling it these days?” jibed Aisha. Sophia took a moment to get it; her jaw dropped in shock. Taylor grinned and gave Aisha a high-five.

    “Aisha, enough. Okay, we should get going if we're going to get there in time,” Brian noted.


    They made their way down the Boardwalk; Brian and Sophia walked side by side, chatting, while Taylor and Aisha skated up and down. Taylor found that while she was the faster, due to her longer legs, Aisha was quicker on the turns, and more agile overall.

    When they got to the movie theatre, Taylor stored her roller-blades in her backpack, replacing them with the sandals she had been carrying; Aisha handed the borrowed 'blades back over to Sophia. The movie turned out to be an Earth Aleph action thriller, depicting dubious-looking aliens and square-jawed human protagonists. Taylor sat between Sophia and Aisha, with Brian on the other side of Sophia; Aisha finished her own popcorn, stole some of Taylor's to throw at Sophia and Brian, and snarked about the movie the whole way through. Taylor laughed so hard that she missed most of the plot points, but she didn't care.

    This is what I've been missing. This is fun.


    The sun was getting low over Captain's Hill when they emerged into the open air once more.

    “So yeah, that was good,” Sophia told Brian. “Wanna do it again sometime?”

    He nodded. “Yeah, I'd like that. Aisha?”

    The younger girl considered that. “Sure. You guys are cool to hang with. I guess I could bring myself to stand your company some more.” She nodded at Taylor's backpack. “Especially if you bring roller-blades.”

    “Yeah, well, I've got to get you back to Dad's soon, so we've got to get going.”

    “Wait.” Sophia pulled out her phone. “Get your number?”

    “Good idea.” Brian got his out as well.

    “I'll get it too, just in case.” Taylor got her Wards phone out, thankful that it wasn't outwardly different from a standard phone.

    Numbers were exchanged; Taylor got Aisha's number as well. As abrasive and sarcastic as the girl could be, she was also fun to be around. And her home life is obviously not the best.

    “Well, we'll see you around,” Brian observed, starting off up the Boardwalk. Aisha, walking backward beside him, grinned, stuck her tongue out, crossed her eyes, and waved.

    “See you later,” Taylor responded, trying not to laugh at Aisha's antics. Once the other two were lost in the crowd, she turned to Sophia. “Twisted ankle, huh?”

    Sophia grinned unrepentantly. “Got me off the roller-blades and into a movie with a good-looking guy, didn't it?”

    “Yeah, well, you know we're gonna have to get back on to the roller-blades, right?”

    “Can we do it tomorrow?” Sophia indicated the westering sun. “Bit late today.”

    “That's fine, but we can still talk about what we were talking about before you ran into Brian.”

    “Actually, I wanted to talk about Brian,” Sophia suggested. “Would you have problems with me seeing him again?”

    “I -” Taylor stopped. “I couldn't let you go on a date on your own, not without talking to Ms Bright. But I can come along.”

    Sophia sighed, aggravated. “Damn probation. And he's such a nice guy, too. I got along with him really well.”

    “I could see that,” Taylor agreed. “He is nice. And his sister's a hoot.”

    That raised a chuckle, despite Sophia's attempts to stifle it. “Yeah, she is. There's this line about a beautiful friendship in some movie or other -”

    “Casablanca,” Taylor supplied. “'I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship'. I've watched it with Dad a dozen times.”

    “Yeah, that's the one.” Sophia smiled; a genuine smile. “The beginning of a beautiful friendship. That sounds about right.”

    And Taylor couldn't help but wonder if she was right.

    End of Part One

    Part Two
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    Mr Zoat, Pezz, Cmdr_Anax and 51 others like this.
  3. Jack of Olives

    Jack of Olives Knows just enough to be dangerous.

    Apr 27, 2014
    Likes Received:
    I'm really enjoying the interaction between Taylor and Sophia; you write them really well. :)

    Also, I couldn't stop laughing throughout that whole scene after Sophia ran into Brian. :D
    Audhumbla, Chase92, Chojomeka and 2 others like this.
  4. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

    Aug 29, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Personally I think that the current state of Africa in the Worm multiverse is the greatest argument against Sophia's philosophy.

    It's all a bunch of conflicting parahuman warlords after all and the inevitable result if anyone builds a straight-up 'might is right' society.
  5. edale

    edale Versed in the lewd.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Same. Even on the parts that weren't funny. Gotta love OOC knowledge.

    So first you have Sophia hate Taylor in civilian ID, and like her in cape ID.

    Now you have Sophia hate Brian in cape ID, and like him in civilian ID.

    Also, with how much you keep shaking Sophia's world... I look forward to when it all comes crashing down.
  6. Biigoh

    Biigoh Tanuki Moderator

    Feb 19, 2013
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    Oh Sophia... :3
    mauke, Chase92, Chojomeka and 3 others like this.
  7. Angush

    Angush I have no idea what I'm doing

    Feb 28, 2015
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    I think I enjoyed that chapter more than I ever enjoyed any part of the original Confrontation. Well done.
    Snake/Eater, Asheram and Ack like this.
  8. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Sophia goes to Dinah: "How is it with me and Taylor in one month's time? I'm still kicking her ass?"
    Dinah: "No, actually. She's kicked your ass, and you're learning to get along with each other."
    Sophia: <<<oo>>>
    Sophia: " ... okay ... how about Grue? Do I kill him yet?"
    Dinah: "No, actually. You're dating him."
    Sophia: <<<<<<oo>>>>>>>
    Dinah: "Sophia? Are you all right? Why are you in foetal position?"
    mjgh5000, Fayt, Zackarix and 13 others like this.
  9. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

    Feb 5, 2015
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    The irony... Sophia's hitting on her worst rival when masked. Nice twist there!
  10. Asheram

    Asheram Know what you're doing yet?

    Jun 29, 2015
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    I quote Taylor
  11. Slayer Anderson

    Slayer Anderson Orthodox Heretic

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Sophia's trying to date Brian.

    Taylor and Sophia are on their way to becoming friends...

    ...I think this is appropriate here:

    Oh, and I've watched another Ack fic, but there's nothing weird about that.:D
    mauke, Prince Charon, Chase92 and 2 others like this.
  12. Zege

    Zege It's Magic, I ain't gotta explain shit.

    Jan 9, 2015
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    I will be watching this most carefully.
    Ack likes this.
  13. Chojomeka

    Chojomeka Kimochi~

    Jul 29, 2014
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    Holy shit! Sophia's learned! Praise be!
    Ack likes this.
  14. mantis

    mantis Getting sticky.

    Oct 14, 2014
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    An Ack fic where Sophia isn't forcibly disappeared, burned alive, beaten into a coma, or gang-raped? Say it ain't so!
    I kid, I kid. Lookin' good so far!
    Divabot and pepperjack like this.
  15. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    I've never forcibly disappeared, burned alive or had Sophia beaten into a coma.

    The last, I admit, has kinda happened :oops:

    In Decline and Fall of Sophia Hess, she was captured and subsequently raped by Tinker!Greg Veder, before being rescued on the point of death by Lisa and Aisha. She and Aisha became a couple (because porn logic) and she joined the Undersiders (rebranded as 'Spectre').

    In Breaking of Shadow Stalker, she was captured, then subjected to sexual slavery by the Undersiders, who broke her so thoroughly that she actively cooperated in abducting the other Bitches. And everyone fucked happily ever after.

    Don't judge, okay? That was kind of my early work. And Shadow Stalker is kind of an easy target.

    Most of the time, she's just been found out and turfed into Juvey.

    In HCtBB, she was on the way to the Cage, when she second-triggered, turned into a vampiric shadow monster, and ended up being evaporated by way too much bright light. And that was my nicest fic :p

    Then there was OMT, where Sparx!Emma beat the living crap out of her before she ended up in juvey.

    All Alone, where ... well, we haven't yet seen what's going to happen. But Emma's dead, so butterflies abound.

    She's still extant in I, Panacea. Right up until the reveal.

    And in Recoil ... well, she hasn't been born yet :p

    On the lighter side, there's Advent of a Hero, where she and Taylor become a couple. And, of course, Confrontation and this one.
    ShadowStepper1300 likes this.
  16. Snake/Eater

    Snake/Eater Myth Maker of the North

    Jan 11, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Omg i just realized you have turned Taylor and Sophia in to a modern day Laverne & Shirley,I guess that makes Brian or Aisha the Fonz.
  17. mantis

    mantis Getting sticky.

    Oct 14, 2014
    Likes Received:
    The forced disappearance was referring to the many times she just seems to "disappear" into juvie.
    The beating into a coma was a slight exaggeration on Emma beating her up completely without contest.
    The burning alive was a reference to HCTBB.
    To be honest, that was the one which I liked the least. Like hey, everyone's good, even psychotic neo-nazi mass-murderers, and can be redeemed if you show them kindness... lol except Sophia, kill the bitch. Like seriously WTF. I get that Sophia is nasty. But we're discussing a story with neo-nazi mass-murderers as mentioned, the world's greatest power in the hands of a psychopathic, power-hungry womanchild, a crew of superpowered criminals whose only motivation is to kill as many people as they possibly can before they themselves are killed, and the worst parts of humanity in general. And you save the worst torments for a friggin' bully.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  18. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Most fics are just out to get Sophia out of the way so the real plot can begin.
    In HCtBB, Sophia had tred to murder Hope and was on the way to the 'Cage. After she second triggered, she murdered quite a few people, and was going to murder more. I made her from a minor problem to a major one, so she had a major death. She was never reasonable in canon, so I wrote her that way, especially when she second-triggered.

    As for Emma's smackdown of Sophia, Sophia was kind of stunned from being zapped.

    And then the Nine ... let's see. Crawler was torn apart by wild dogs, Manton was killed by venomous bugs, then resurrected only to have his brain rewired by Amy. Burnscar also chose to have her brain rewired, as an alternative to death. Shatterbird was held down and decapitated by Hookwolf, Cherish was killed by Shadow Stalker (which was pretty horrible in itself), Mannequin was carved to death by Taylor using the nano-branch knife, Bonesaw was eventually rehabilitated, and Jack Slash was held down so that Miss Militia could put one in the back of his head.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
    ShadowStepper1300 likes this.
  19. doomlord9

    doomlord9 Experienced.

    Jan 15, 2014
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    You obviously haven't watched enough anime because smashing in someone's face is the best way to start a life-long friendship.

    I mean, it's so obvious I can't see why anyone would think it could be anything else.
  20. edale

    edale Versed in the lewd.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Ah, good ol' Therapy-no-Justu... Works every time.:D
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
    Ack and doomlord9 like this.
  21. Threadmarks: Part Two: Conflict Resolution

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Confrontation II: the Reckoning

    Part Two: Conflict Resolution

    Sophia eyed the office door sourly. It was in no way ostentatious; the plaque that read DEPUTY DIRECTOR was, if anything, a little understated. This did nothing to make her any happier.

    "Do you have to report this?" It wasn't the first time she'd asked the question, or even the second.

    "No." Taylor turned to look directly at her. "We do."

    "Why? I mean that seriously. What they don't know won't hurt them."

    "And what they find out later can hurt you, quite a lot." Taylor indicated Sophia's booted ankle, currently free of the tracker bracelet, given that she was in costume. "I don't know how sophisticated the tracker is, or how closely they're following it. All they need to throw you back in juvey is just one reason, and not even a good one. If they realise that we spent part of yesterday at the movies instead of rollerblading, that's a good enough reason. So we get in first."

    "But I never ditched you," protested Sophia. "You were right there, keeping an eye on me."

    "For which they only have my word," pointed out Taylor. "If you had indeed ditched me, they can breach you for it, and you go to juvey. On the other hand, if I'd let you talk me into going to the movies, that makes me look like a less than adequate parole officer; they take you off my hands, and you go to juvey. You can see where I'm going with this."

    "But won't just telling them have the same effect?"

    "Nope." Taylor favoured her with a grin. "If we tell before we're found out, we get to tell it our way."

    "Oh." Sophia blinked. "I never thought of admitting to it as being a way to get out of trouble. I'm used to just not being caught, I guess."

    "So how's that working out for you, exactly?" Taylor's grin grew just a little razor-edged.

    Sophia wrinkled her nose. "Twice. I was caught twice."

    "But it was those two times that mattered, yeah?" The grin became a smirk.

    Taylor was right, of course; the two times that Sophia had been caught in her breakages of the rules were the significant ones. The first had been an incriminating arrow left nailing a nearly-dead gang member to a wall; that near-murder had led the PRT to issue an arrest warrant for her.

    It had been a shocking and salutary lesson for Sophia, previously secure in her personal conviction that nobody could catch her if she didn't allow them to. With almost insulting ease, the PRT had tracked her down, hemmed her in, and taken her prisoner. Almost as shocking had been her unmasking at their hands; however, they had not made the information public, or even threatened to. In less than a day, she had gone from being strong and untouchable to just another teen undergoing the less-than-tender mercies of the juvenile justice system.

    The second time she had been caught had been, of course, at the hands of Taylor herself. In their civilian lives they had been bitter enemies, an enmity pursued more strenuously from Sophia's side than Taylor's. In light of what she knew now, Sophia had reason to give thanks for Taylor not opting to declare all-out war upon Sophia and her fellow bullies. Such a conflict would have been as short-lived as it was unequal, and Taylor would have almost certainly come out the victor.

    This time, she had been more stunned than surprised; first by the revelation that Buzz was the despised Hebert, and second by the fact that Taylor was standing by her, rather than letting her be thrown to the wolves.

    All of this had driven a very deep wedge into her system of beliefs, most especially strength versus weakness, and her ability to spot either one. Her self-confidence had also taken a hit; one she was sure she would recover from, but in the meantime she found it better to defer to Taylor's judgement. Scratch that: Buzz's judgement.

    “You suck,” muttered Sophia. Taylor's smirk merely intensified. She raised her hand and rapped briskly upon the Deputy Director's door.


    “Come in.”

    Deputy Director Renick watched the door open; Buzz came in first, followed by Shadow Stalker. Clasping his hands in front of him, he looked them over; neither one seemed particularly upset, which was a good sign. “Please, sit down.” They did so. “You wanted to see me?”

    “Yes, sir,” Buzz replied. “I'd like to report an incident that happened yesterday while we were down at the Boardwalk, rollerblading.” She waited expectantly.

    Renick paused. “Ah, yes,” he replied. “I believe I recall that. Mrs Yamada required you to do that as part of therapy. So what is it that you would like to report?”

    Buzz took a breath. “Basically, that we didn't spend the whole time roller-blading. Sophia suffered a collision, and hurt her ankle, so she couldn't keep going. So we … well, we went to the movies.”

    Renick pursed his lips. “The movies.”

    Buzz nodded. “Yes, sir.”

    “And Shadow Stalker was in your sight the whole time?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “And did you make any progress on your issues with each other?” As Buzz went to answer, he held up his hand. “I'd like to hear this one from Shadow Stalker.”

    “Oh, uh, yeah,” replied the other girl. “We talked a bit. She said some stuff that hurt, but it was true anyway.”

    “Is it something you can repeat to me, or would you rather keep it for Mrs Yamada?” asked Renick carefully.

    The two girls glanced at each other, and Buzz shrugged slightly. Shadow Stalker nodded, and turned back to Renick. “She told me I was being a Nazi,” she admitted. “That hurt, a lot.”

    “A Nazi?” asked Renick, somewhat taken aback. He turned to Buzz. “Did you really?”

    “Well, actually, I asked her how long she'd been in the Empire Eighty-Eight,” Buzz admitted. “But it's the same thing, I guess.”

    “But … why?”

    “Because of the way I used to do stuff to her, before I knew she was Buzz,” Shadow Stalker clarified. “I like feeling strong, and Emma wanted to feel strong, so I picked her to push down so we could feel stronger. She says it's how the Nazis did things, and she's smarter than me so I guess she'd know.”


    “Hm.” Renick rubbed his chin. “I suppose it was kind of the way they worked, yes.” He looked at Sophia. “How did you react when she told you this?”

    “What do you think? I was pissed. But then she told me what she meant by it, and yeah, I wasn't happy, but she wasn't wrong either.” Her mask hid her expression, but her tone of voice was less than thrilled. “That sort of shit hurts. Especially when it's true.”

    “Well, I'm not going to try to analyse that,” the Deputy Director assured her. “It's not my job. But I am pleased to hear that you are making some progress. Which doesn't mean that I'm overly happy about you going to see a movie when you should be roller-blading, but it is good that you're reporting it to me.” He paused. “You weren't limping when you came in, so I presume that it wasn't anything serious?”

    “Not so much, no,” Sophia agreed.

    “But it did put her off her feet for an hour or so,” Taylor noted, “so we could either sit around outside or … well, movie. By the time it finished, it was getting dark, so we went home.”

    Renick nodded. “Well, all right. I can accept that.” His eyes glinted. “Just be aware that I will be noting this down. So I suggest that you not make a habit of it.”

    “No, sir,” Taylor agreed. “Thank you, sir.” She had an uncomfortable feeling that he knew, or had guessed, more than she was admitting about what had happened.

    “Was there anything else?” he asked.

    “Uh, no, sir.” Taylor shook her head. “We're good to go.”

    “Good to hear. I'm rostering you on to patrol with Clockblocker. The three of you are reasonably competent, but do not forget that he's in charge.” Renick looked over his glasses at them. “Understood?”

    This time, Sophia answered first. “Yeah, we got it.” Taylor followed on with her own answer in the affirmative.

    “And don't stop off to go to the movies, hmm?” This last was delivered with a wry smile.

    Taylor and Sophia escaped from his office, carefully closing the door behind them. As they moved off down the corridor, Sophia turned to Taylor. “He knew, didn't he? Did you tell him?”

    “Hey, I said nothing,” Taylor replied, holding her hands up. “If I was gonna spill the beans, I would've done it in front of you. You know me.”

    “Yeah, I guess I do.” Sophia moved on down the corridor. “How the hell did he figure it out then? Or do you think he was having us watched?”

    “Nah, it's simpler than that,” Taylor decided, matching her pace. “He's been here for years. He's been in charge of the Wards all this time. Do you think there's anything that he hasn't caught them – us – doing at some time or another?”

    “Huh.” Sophia's voice sounded as though she were thinking hard about this. “I guess you're right.”

    “Uh huh.” Behind her mask, Taylor grinned. “So, was I right about telling him before he found out for sure?”

    “You still suck.” But Sophia didn't sound angry.

    “Right, sure. Says you.” Taylor indicated the elevator. “Renick said that we were rostered on with Clockblocker. So, let's go find Clockblocker.”


    It was relatively quiet in the Wards' base; Kid Win was covering the monitor console, and Vista was soundly beating Aegis at ping-pong in the game area. Dennis sat at one of the tables with Buzz and Shadow Stalker.

    He looked from one girl to the other. Great. What did I do to deserve this? Shadow Stalker was hot and all, but it didn't mean that he liked her. Nobody in the Wards did, not really. Except Buzz. Which he still couldn't understand. Especially after what had happened.

    “Okay,” he began, then cleared his throat. “Okay. I get it that we're going on patrol, and I'm in charge. That's fine. I just want to make one thing absolutely clear from the start.”

    Buzz tilted her head slightly. Her costume was almost the opposite of his; dark grey and black instead of white, creepy yellow goggle lenses instead of a faceplate, insect mandibles instead of clock faces. I still think it would make a great supervillain costume. How could you make something like this and not realise what it was going to look like before you were finished?

    “Sure,” she responded. “What is it?”

    He waited a moment, until he realised that Shadow Stalker wasn't going to add her two cents. “Uh, I just wanted to make sure that both of you knew that you're not allowed to kill each other while we're out there. Attack the bad guys all you like, but not each other. Is that clear?”

    “Oh, that?” asked Buzz. “We're past that, right, Shadow Stalker?”

    “Yeah,” the cloaked ex-vigilante agreed, addressing Dennis. “She broke my jaw, so we're all good now. Besides, I'd be a moron to try to attack her. Seriously, do you have any idea how good she is with her bugs?”

    “Uh, pretty good?” he ventured. “I was there when we rescued you and Browbeat from Stormtiger.”

    “Pfft.” She waved that off. “That was her playing minor league. She's stepped up her game since then.”

    “Shadow Stalker … “ That was Buzz, not sounding particularly pleased.

    “Until you've seen her doing bugpocalypse, you ain't seen nothing.” Shadow Stalker dusted off her hands in a satisfied manner.

    “Uh … bugpocalypse?” That really doesn't sound good. He looked at Buzz. “What's, uh, bugpocalypse?”

    Buzz gestured off-handedly. “It's Shadow Stalker's stupid name for one of our tactics.”

    “It's not a stupid name,” Shadow Stalker protested. “It's a great name. And it describes it perfectly.”

    “And what is it, exactly?” Is this how Miss Piggy feels when she has to deal with me all the time?

    “Oh, uh, I cover people with bugs, then Shadow Stalker takes them down.”

    Shadow Stalker snorted. “More like, she puts bugs everywhere people don't want bugs to go.” Her chuckle sounded positively evil. “Imagine every time a bug's walked across the back of your neck. Now imagine about a million of them, all smart. All knowing exactly where to go to give you the biggest squick-out in history. Knowing exactly where to crawl, where to bite. All over you. That's what she does.”

    Dennis could, unfortunately, imagine it. He repressed a shudder. “O … kay. I see. Well then. This is non-lethal, right?”

    “Oh, sure,” answered Buzz promptly. “I tell spiders not to bite, and I've got epi-pens in case someone's allergic to wasps or bees.”

    “Mind you,” Shadow Stalker chimed in, “with the bigger and nastier ones, like Lung, she doesn't have to hold back.” She looked at Buzz. “Is it really true that so many spiders bit him on the junk that it fell off?”

    “No!” The word popped out hastily. “Because, uh, Panacea was there. He didn't lose, uh, anything important.” Her voice dropped, and Dennis was almost certain that she muttered, “Thank god.”

    Yeah, I wouldn't want Lung that pissed at me, either. He didn't want to even imagine how angry the ABB leader would get after losing that part of his anatomy. “Uh, okay, no more discussion over that sort of thing. Buzz, please check with me before unleashing your, uh, bugpocalypse.”

    “Sure, I can do that,” the bug-themed cape agreed.

    “Good. Let's go.”


    On my mark. Three. Two. One. Mark.”

    At the word 'Mark', Sophia turned insubstantial and dropped through the roof of the convenience store; her specialised lenses let her see where the electrical cables were, and thus avoid them.

    Within, the would-be robbers were already embroiled in a swarm of bugs, assailing them from all directions. A few bugs zipped through her shadow form as she dropped to the floor, but nowhere near as many as were already crawling over the men. She would have winced as she saw the bugs getting under the balaclavas that the robbers were wearing, but the sight was too satisfying, especially as they were too distracted by that to pay much attention to her.

    Which was their bad luck; she nailed two with tranq arrows, and began to reload, but the last two robbers decided to make a bolt for it. “Two down, one heading front, one heading back!”

    That was for Clockblocker's benefit, Buzz was covering the front door, but her bugs would give her a heads-up long before they got there.

    Roger.” That was Clockblocker.

    Got it.” Buzz's voice.

    She took the time to secure the ones that she had put down; the tranq arrows didn't necessarily work as well as advertised, when it came to heavier than normal opponents, or thick clothing.

    Mine's down,” Buzz reported before she was finished; behind her mask she smirked.

    Got mine, too,” Clockblocker noted.

    “Lawn ornament, yeah?” asked Sophia. “Need help securing him?”

    No, I'm fine. I've called the police.”

    “Okay. I'll be out at the front.”

    By the time she got there, Buzz's guy was down on the ground, his wrists neatly secured behind his back. He no longer wore the mass of bugs that had been swarming him as he attempted to escape, but she fancied that he was still twitching in delayed reaction.

    “All good out here?” Sophia asked cheerfully.

    “Sure,” Buzz replied, the insects in the area mimicking her voice to add a buzzing undertone to it. It sounded extremely creepy, and very badass.

    Sophia leaned against the wall, putting her expended arrows away, and reloading her crossbows with fresh cartridges. “We do make an awesome team, don't we?”

    Buzz sighed. “Listen. We're not friends any more. We're teammates, and yes, we do make a good team, but there's a lot between us that needs to be worked out. I'm willing to work with you, and I've got your back, but … I'm going to need more time, and a lot more talking, before we can start getting back to where we were before. Okay?”

    Sophia compressed her lips behind her mask. “ … yeah, okay. Sorry for bothering you.”

    “Hey. I'm not mad, and you're not bothering me.” Buzz put a hand on her arm. “We do kick ass. And I'm sorry too, for snapping at you.”

    “Wait.” Sophia blinked. “Did you just apologise to me?”

    Buzz tilted her head. “What if I did?”

    “No-one apologises to me. It feels weird.”

    “Maybe that's because you don't often apologise to other people,” Buzz pointed out.

    “Huh. You might be right. You're about the only one I've ever felt like saying sorry to.”

    Clockblocker came strolling out through the front entrance of the convenience store. “Shouldn't you be saving that sort of conversation for the therapy?”

    Sophia stared at him suspiciously. “How did you even know we're having therapy?”

    “Because, for my sins, I'm currently leader of the Wards here in Brockton Bay,” replied the white-clad teen with a sigh. “And because I'm that, I was briefed in on your situation. Including the therapy. And just by the way, I do agree; you two do make a damned effective team. And you haven't tried to kill each other even once, which I will be putting into my report on this patrol.”

    “Great, thanks,” Sophia retorted sarcastically. “We get a report all to ourselves.”

    “Hey, it's for your own good,” Clockblocker pointed out. “The more it's documented that you're actually getting out there and making a difference, rather than causing a problem, the better it looks for you all round.”

    “Still not sure if I like it,” Sophia told him. “Buzz, what do you think?”

    “Sorry, what?” Buzz looked around. “I was thinking about something.”

    “What about?” asked Sophia.

    “This guy. He's ABB.” She indicated the red and green logo on the back of the jacket. “The rest are too, right?”

    “Yeah,” Clockblocker agreed. “Why's that?”

    “Well, Lung's in custody and Bakuda's in another dimension. The ABB's been hit pretty hard, cape-wise, over the last week or so.” Buzz's voice was thoughtful. “You'd think they'd keep their heads down for a while, instead of getting out and robbing places like this, wouldn't you?”

    “Yeah, I -” began Clockblocker, but he was rudely interrupted by the sudden appearance of a demon-masked figure, in the middle of the group.

    Sophia had just enough time to register who it was – Oni Lee! FUCK! - before she was clawing her crossbows off of her belt. Buzz had been facing away from both Sophia and Clockblocker, turning toward the older teen, when it happened; with a sick feeling, Sophia saw a gleaming blade swing in a short arc, terminating between Buzz's shoulderblades.

    At the same time, the demonic apparition released something from its left hand, something that bounced on the concrete of the parking lot with a metallic clattering noise. A piece of metal, released almost in the instant that it had been dropped, sprang away from the metal ovoid and skittered across the concrete on its own trajectory.

    Sophia brought up her crossbows and triggered both of them; the arrows flew straight and true, impacting in Oni Lee's centre mass. He started to fall, just as Buzz and Clockblocker were falling. The former was lurching forward because of the knife between her shoulderblades, while the latter was … diving on the grenade? Why doesn't he just freeze the fucking thing?

    Time, which had seemed to be slowed to a crawl, abruptly sped up again. Sophia went to shadow form, just before the grenade exploded. The detonation was muffled, hidden under Clockblocker's form. He can't freeze himself … even if he's frozen his costume, that's gotta hurt.

    Buzz was on the ground; Oni Lee's body, likewise, crumbled to ash. Sophia returned to solid form. “Buzz!” Oh god, he stabbed her in the back.

    Abruptly, bugs converged at a point behind Sophia; the sound of bugpocalypse was familiar enough to her that she went to dive forward. But something caught her cloak, and a sharp pain shot through her shoulder. She went to shadow once more, freeing herself and turning at the same time. He was behind her, the tip of his blade reddened with her blood. As she watched, bugs converged on him from all over.

    And then, even as she hastened to reload her crossbows – not an easy task in shadow, but still possible – the grenade that he had dropped, the one that she hadn't even seen or heard, went off.

    She was flung backward, still in shadow form, as the concussion and the shrapnel ripped through her, tattering her semi-immaterial substance. Losing consciousness would be a bad thing, she knew, and so she hung on desperately to her awareness.

    Sophia wanted to throw up, but she was pretty sure that such an act was physically impossible in her shadow form. Groggily, she watched Oni Lee reappear once more, this time right next to Buzz, even as his previous form, shredded by the grenade blast, crumbled away.

    He's going to make sure of her.

    The fuck he is.

    Shifting to solid form hurt, physically. She felt bruised all over, even in places where bruises should not be able to form. Unable to stand, she fell to one knee, but triggered her crossbow anyway. The arrow hit him in the back, a clean shot; he stumbled, but something clattered on the concrete before him. Two things. The knife and … another fucking grenade.

    “Oh, come on!” Even as she screamed the protest, she dived forward, pushing off with her good leg and going to shadow on the way. Only a few seconds of life remained for Buzz; her armour was good, but not that damned good.

    Oni Lee had fallen forward over Buzz, but that wasn't Sophia's biggest problem. That was the grenade, which had rolled right up next to Buzz, as if it knew its intended target. It'll gut her like a fish. No fucking way.

    Sophia's straining fingers touched the grenade, pulling it into the shadow realm with her, and then shoving it down, as hard as she could. It disappeared into the ground, even as she lifted a little in reaction. The timer must have been right on activation when she pulled her hand back; her arm wasn't all the way out of the ground when the grenade exploded. The slab that Buzz was lying on lifted and cracked slightly, but there was no other effect.

    Moving hurt, even in the shadow form. Doing anything hurt. Even as Oni Lee's body crumbled to ash – again – she was rolling to her feet, scanning around for the next attack. There. Standing off a little way, aiming what looked like an automatic pistol at Buzz. Firing. He wasn't a great shot, not assisted by the bugs already swarming him. Each flat crack was accompanied by a spurt of concrete dust; the shots were getting closer. More and more bugs were arriving by the second, which was about the only reason he hadn't hit either of them yet. But he was still trying.

    Well, fuck you. Sophia went solid once more, forcing herself to stay upright, shooting her other crossbow at Lee. She was a better shot than him; the arrow took him in the throat. But she hadn't taken into account the other aspect of his power; even as she loosed the arrow, the arm went around her neck from behind.

    One in front, falling; one behind, a fresh version. She forced herself into shadow form once more, to slip the hold; she hadn't seen the blade, but she was sure that it had been close to her vitals. But there was exactly zero time for her to congratulate herself, because Buzz was the target.

    Still in shadow form, Sophia twisted; there was the blade, all right. Ignoring her, Oni Lee drove the gleaming knife down toward Buzz. His initial strike point, Sophia saw, had been the carapace that Buzz wore over her upper back; she saw the gouge in it, but the point hadn't carried through. Now, however, he was aiming at Buzz's lower back, putting all his weight behind it. Kidney or spine. Either could be fatal.

    Without warning, Buzz rolled, her arm flashing around, up under the carapace; the knife point hit concrete. Sophia went solid, just as Lee appeared again, on the other side of Buzz, standing over the body of the ABB thug that Buzz had taken down just minutes before. The kneeling Oni Lee was still active, and he had a knife at the ready; she kneed him in the side of the head, staggering him. Thumbing the activation on her crossbow, she brought another arrow into line, shooting it at the new arrival – just as a third one appeared next to the second.

    The one that she had kneed slashed backward with his knife, opening a gash on what she had laughably called her 'good' leg; she cried out, but refused to go down, refused to go shadow. But then he began to crumble to ash, as the second one fell back with the arrow pumping tranquilliser into him. The third one finished pulling his pistol and pointed it at her face. And then a fourth one appeared beside the third one, also pulling his pistol.

    In the normal run of things, Sophia would have simply gone to shadow form and let them waste all the bullets they wanted. But they had Buzz, probably still dazed from the close-in grenade blast, at their mercy; Sophia was pretty sure that her costume would not stand up to bullets, even if it worked against knives.

    Buzz sat up quite suddenly; the one pointing a pistol at Sophia, trying to make sure of his aim in the midst of the howling storm of insects that had descended upon them, received a stream of pepper spray all over the eye-holes of his mask. He stumbled backward, but the other one slanted his weapon down toward Buzz. He couldn't miss … but he never fired.

    For a long moment, Sophia couldn't figure it out … and then she saw Clockblocker's hand grasping Oni Lee's heel. He came out of freeze, just in time. Thank fuck for that.

    She looked around as the third Lee crumbled, alert for the next attack, the next Oni Lee to pop up. Long moments passed; nothing happened, except that more bugs arrived to join the giant swarm now orbiting the parking lot.

    “Holy shit,” she muttered. “You got him.”

    “No,” Buzz told her. “We got him.”

    “Ow,” supplied Clockblocker, as he got up painfully. “Ow. Ow. Ow. Close up explosions are no fun.”

    Sophia found it painful to laugh, but chuckled anyway. “Yeah,” she wheezed. “Got that, thanks.”

    “So what was that about anyway?” asked Buzz. “Why was he trying so hard to kill me?”

    “My guess? Lung and Bakuda,” Clockblocker pointed out. “You were there for both those incidents.” He placed a hand on Oni Lee's shoulder, gripping it tightly. “Tranquilliser arrow?”

    Numbly, Sophia pulled one out and handed it to Buzz, who handed it on to Clockblocker. “You think we can actually keep him prisoner?”

    “I dunno,” Clockblocker admitted. “But I'm sure as hell not letting him go.”

    “Amen to that,” Buzz agreed. “Amen to that.”

    End of Part Two

    Part Three
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
    Mr Zoat, Pezz, Scopas and 52 others like this.
  22. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

    Feb 5, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Dramatic chapter - good action, very tense, desperate even, that's a terrifying Oni Lee we rarely see.
    Scopas, inverted_helix and Ack like this.
  23. Chojomeka

    Chojomeka Kimochi~

    Jul 29, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Hot Damn! Sophia's showing her hero side here :D
    Ack likes this.
  24. nobodez

    nobodez Bringer of Context

    Jul 3, 2015
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    Yeah, I must say, you write a really good Oni Lee. That guy's got a really dangerous power and he's sick enough to use it to the best effect.

    Also, Awesome Clockblocker hero moment.
    Ack likes this.
  25. Monkey D. Funky

    Monkey D. Funky Getting sticky.

    Aug 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Confrontation II: the Reckoning finally updates? Of course it's on the day I wasn't able to check it. Nice chapter! Hopefully, folks'll get excited and the rest will come quicker.
    Ack likes this.
  26. Threadmarks: Part Three: Repercussions

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    Confrontation II: The Reckoning

    Part Three: Repercussions

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Sophia had been in life-or-death situations before, but they had rarely been about her life or death, and they'd never involved someone she actually cared about. This situation was different; it hit her harder, on a more visceral level. If Buzz had actually died … she didn't know how she would handle that. Even after the bug controller had broken her jaw, there was still nobody else in the Wards with whom she could connect nearly half as well.

    What she couldn't figure out was how Buzz could be taking it so calmly. The bug controller was standing off to the side a little; if Sophia knew her, there would be bugs spreading out over her entire range, locating each and every person in that area.

    “No other gang activity nearby,” Buzz stated. Her voice was quiet, but the bugs around her repeated the sounds, so that her statement reached both Sophia and Clockblocker easily enough. “It all looks quiet.”

    “Good,” Clockblocker replied, not looking away from Oni Lee. He had the tip of the tranq arrow up against the time-frozen villain's arm, applying almost enough pressure to break the vial and release the sedative. “Shadow Stalker, call this in. Buzz, back off. Get out of sight.”

    Sophia could see the sense in that. She was less sure about Clockblocker's chances if Oni Lee managed to start teleporting before her team leader managed to freeze him again.

    “No.” Buzz shook her head. “I'm not leaving you.”

    “That wasn't a request.” There was a tone to Clockblocker's voice that Shadow Stalker had rarely heard before. Normally, the white-clad Ward was never serious, making jokes at the most inappropriate of times. Sophia was even pretty sure she'd caught him looking at her butt more than once. But now, he actually sounded like a leader, like someone who knew what they were talking about. “I'm ordering you to clear the area.”

    “Clock's got a point,” Sophia agreed. “And whether you're over there out of sight or right next to us, you can still bugpocalypse Lee all you like.” She pointed at the pistol. “Your armour's good, but it's not that good.”

    “Okay, sure,” Buzz replied reluctantly, starting to move away. “Can you at least jam it up or something?”

    “It's frozen, like the rest of him.” But Sophia was looking at the pistol, with ideas forming in her head. “But if I had some duct tape …”

    “What, like this?” Sophia looked around as Buzz asked the question, to see a roll of tape arcing toward her. “That help?”

    Behind her mask, Sophia grinned as she caught it. “Is there anything you don't carry back there?”

    “Still working on the kitchen sink.” Buzz paused. “Sure you don't need a hand?”

    Sophia gestured. “Go. We got this.” Turning toward the still-frozen Oni Lee, she pulled a length of tape free. “Now … let's see.”


    Oni Lee blinked. Things had suddenly gone dark. What happened? He had been fighting with the bug girl and Shadow Stalker. Despite their desperate resistance, he'd had the bug girl in his sights. Reflexively, he squeezed the trigger; nothing happened. Something was stopping it from completing its backward motion.

    Something stung his arm and he lashed out instinctively; his elbow hit nothing but air. Why can't I see anything? Reaching toward his face, he realised that his fingers were bound together with some kind of tough material, hampering both his range of movement and his sense of touch. His mask, he discovered a moment later, was somehow fastened to his head. He tried to drop the useless gun, but it would not leave his grip; he couldn't even open his hand.

    With the one hand, wrapped in the heavy, clinging material, he clawed at his mask, trying to pull it away from his face. That was when he discovered that there was some kind of binding wrapped around the mask and all the way around his head. It was also covering the eye-holes of the mask, rendering him effectively blind.

    A cold sensation spread through his body from the point where he had felt the sting. Lassitude overcame him; he fought against it, but found himself dropping to his knees. As consciousness faded away, he thought he heard the sound of an approaching vehicle, but he couldn't quite place it.


    Armsmaster climbed off the motorcycle and looked across at a crumpled tarp which had a pair of feet sticking out from under it. Three more mooks in ABB colours, their hands bound behind their backs, were lined up along the front of the building, but his attention was on the apparent corpse. “What happened to him?”

    It was Clockblocker who answered. “Oni Lee was tossing around grenades. One of them caught that guy. The rest were inside or out back.”

    Armsmaster nodded. “Ah.” Collateral damage, although unfortunate, was a fact of life when dealing with hardened criminals. The fact that Lee had taken out one of his own men when trying to kill Buzz was unfortunate, but viewed in the light of cold hard reality, it could have been much worse. “So Lee is sedated?”

    “Yes, sir.” Clockblocker held up a tranq arrow; Armsmaster could tell from the empty reservoir that it had been expended. “I don't know how long it'll last.”

    Armsmaster looked down at the unconscious villain. “Did you give him the full dose?”

    “Yes, sir,” Clockblocker affirmed. “I wanted him asleep just as fast as possible.”

    “I can't fault your logic,” the Protectorate hero agreed. He rubbed his chin. “I have to say, I had thought I'd seen every use there was for duct tape, but this is a new one on me. Whose idea?”

    “Shadow Stalker's,” Clockblocker said. “Buzz supplied the roll.”

    “Yeah,” the cloaked Ward added. “But I think I owe her a new one.” She held up a forlorn-looking cardboard tube; Armsmaster recognised the type immediately. “I kind of used it all.”

    Armsmaster nodded slowly. She hadn't gone easy with it, that was for certain. Both of Lee's hands had been swathed in the tough, sticky tape, with a solid wad of it pushed behind the trigger of the pistol he was holding. More held the villain's mask to his face, while yet more again had been wrapped around the bandoleers of knives and grenades that he carried, to ensure that he would not be able to make use of them.

    “Well done,” he agreed. “I'll give him another dose of sedative, just to make sure he stays under, then get him back to headquarters. We'll deal with the duct tape once we get him back there.” He looked around. “Where's Buzz?”

    “Over here,” the bug controller called out, rounding the corner of the convenience store. “Clockblocker made me get out of sight, in case Lee got loose again.”

    “Good thinking.” Armsmaster gave the white-clad Ward a measured nod. “From what you say, he was going all-out to kill her. Any idea why?”

    Clockblocker shrugged. “Just that she was there when Lung was taken down, and when Bakuda was sent elsewhere. Maybe he was trying to make a statement?”

    “If he wants to make a statement, he'll make a statement all right,” Armsmaster said grimly. “Multiple counts of attempted murder on a Ward? That's a Birdcage offence, right there.”

    “Uh, I don't know much about it, but isn't it a three-strikes thing?” Buzz's voice was diffident. “I mean, you've gotta do something pretty heinous to get sent there, right?”

    “Wait, you're arguing against him going to the Birdcage?” Shadow Stalker stared at her. “The asshole tried to kill you. Repeatedly.”

    “Yeah,” agreed Clockblocker. “What she said.”

    Armsmaster noted with grim amusement the startled glance that the two Wards shared. That's probably the first thing they've agreed on since Shadow Stalker joined the team.

    Buzz shook her head. “No, I'm not saying he shouldn't go,” she said. “Just that … well, I don't know how it works, I guess.”

    “To be honest, the three-strikes rule is more complex than the public generally understands,” the older hero explained. “For a start, not all crimes even register as a 'strike'. Crimes where nobody gets hurt tend to be overlooked altogether. Rob a convenience store three times? You don't even make the radar. Particularly violent or flashy crimes – anything that catches the public eye, really – are what make the 'strikes', and a really nasty one might count as two or even three strikes at once.”

    “Wait, wait.” Clockblocker interrupted. “So you're saying that if someone committed lots of low-level crimes, so long as they kept their head down, they'd be in no danger of going to the Birdcage?”

    “Unless they started hurting or killing people, certainly,” agreed Armsmaster. “Then all their prior crimes would suddenly add up. Premeditated murder's a big one.”

    Shadow Stalker looked around at that one. “So if I get this right, the PRT can basically handwave three strikes whenever they feel like it?”

    “If the PRT feels that the offence merits it, they will strongly advise the judiciary to push for the Birdcage, yes,” Armsmaster told her. “That sort of leeway does exist, although we don't tend to use it all that much. The potential for abuse is huge, so they almost always go for lesser sentences. Except for, as Buzz put it, particularly heinous crimes.”

    Shadow Stalker hadn't finished. “So … what if one villain decided to off another one? Would he be likely to be Birdcaged?”

    “Unlikely. The villain's prior record would have to be taken into account. Gavel, for instance. You've heard of him?”

    “Australian villain,” Clockblocker supplied. “Used to target other villains. Saw himself as a hero. This was sort of before the unwritten rules really came into effect, so he used to go after family members and friends to draw out the villains.”

    “Exactly.” Armsmaster gave the Ward an approving nod. “It's more the targeting civilians that got him put into the Birdcage, but murdering villains was also a factor. The murder part, not the villains. Going after heroes, on the other hand …” He gestured at Lee. “This attempt today … well, if it had been more of a one-off thing, then yes, it would just be one strike. But this wasn't a single random attack. He went after you with malice aforethought. The PRT has a very firm policy regarding anyone specifically targeting a Protectorate cape for murder.” He indicated the body under the tarp. “Plus, there's a case for murder right there. And he has prior offences. We've just never been able to lay hands on him before.”

    “Huh.” Buzz's voice was thoughtful. “I guess that kind of makes sense, then.”

    “Exactly.” Armsmaster put his hand on her shoulder. “How are you bearing up? Want to finish your patrol off now? You've just been through a pretty traumatic experience.”

    Buzz laughed a little shakily. “What, as compared to Lung nearly killing me, or falling to my near-death? I'm still walking, I've got all my hair, and I've got no major injuries. I call this a win.”

    “Actually, sir,” Clockblocker put in, “I think I'll call the patrol off for today. This was a rough fight for all of us. Besides, we've got reports to write up.”

    “That's understandable,” Armsmaster allowed. “I'll get a van to come pick you up. The police will be by soon to get the surviving perps.”


    Taylor found herself leaning against the wall as Armsmaster bundled Oni Lee into a cage that he had erected on the back of his motorcycle. Shadow Stalker leaned beside her, arms folded.

    “How are you doing?” the dark-clad Ward asked quietly. “And don't bullshit me. How are you really doing?”

    “I, uh, I guess I'll survive,” Taylor said, equally quietly. “I didn't get hurt this time, thankfully.”

    “That's not what I'm talking about, and you know it.” Shadow Stalker's voice was impatient. “You're tough. I already know that. You don't have to put on a show for me and Clockblocker. Are you all right, or not?”

    “It's not like it was with Lung.” Taylor found the words spilling from her mouth. “Or with Bakuda. Those times, I was just in the way. Wrong place at the wrong time. This time, he wanted me dead. He wanted me dead.” She could feel herself beginning to shake, just a little. “I'm still trying to get my head around that.”

    “Hey.” Sophia turned toward her. “It's easy to explain. He's a douche and a sore loser. You messed with the ABB so he tried to mess with you. But we messed with him harder.”

    Taylor tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “I'm just glad that you were there. You saved my life. Again.”

    “Yeah, well, you're my partner. Nobody messes with my partner.”

    Without quite knowing how she did it, Taylor found herself hugging Sophia. “Thanks. Thank you. For being there. For saving me.”

    “Hey.” Shadow Stalker was obviously just a little uncomfortable with hugging, but she didn't push Taylor away. “You saved my ass too. I saw you pepper-spray that one copy. He was about to shoot me.” Slowly, her arms crept around Taylor.

    “Yeah, well, like you said, partners, right?” Taylor could feel her shakes beginning to recede. “You don't get out of probation that easily.”

    Sophia snorted with amusement. “And straight back to juvey? No thanks. But to be honest, I wasn't even thinking about that. I just wasn't gonna let that dirtbag hurt you. You know how I hate to lose.”

    Taylor let her head rest against Shadow Stalker's for a moment. “Well, thanks. I mean it.”

    The other girl sighed. “And there you go again, making me feel all emotional and crap. And you don't even like me. Not that I blame you.”

    “Well, that's changing as of right now.” Taylor gave her an extra squeeze. “You put your life on the line for me, even knowing how I felt about you. So I think it's time I cut you just a little slack.”

    “Hey, don't go getting all soft on me now, Buzz,” Shadow Stalker warned her.

    Taylor chuckled. “Too late. I'm gonna be asking for permission for us to go to the movies. And to invite friends along, if you want.”

    Shadow Stalker stepped back for a moment. “Wait, you mean -”

    “Yup.” Taylor nodded. “We can invite tall, dark and hunky along. If you really want to, that is.” Deep in her heart, she felt a pang. I'd love to take him to the movies on my own. But then I'd be backstabbing Shadow Stalker. I'd be no better than her. A half-smile. Besides, Aisha's a lot of fun to be around, and there's nothing stopping me from admiring the eye candy anyway.

    “I …” Sophia stopped. “I … holy shit. Are you serious? You're not serious. You are serious.” There was wonder in her voice.

    Taylor nodded. “Never been more serious in my life.”

    “What are we being serious about now?” asked Clockblocker, strolling over to where they stood. Armsmaster had taken Oni Lee away; they were alone in the parking lot, save for the unfortunate ABB casualty and the live mooks. “If it's girl talk, let me know and I'll go watch the mooks for a bit.”

    “It's all good,” Taylor assured him. “This is just a personal thing. I'm going to be asking permission to take her to the movies. And maybe bring a date along.”

    Clockblocker looked from one to the other. “That's really nice of you, Buzz. But hang on a second. If you bring a date along, won't Shadow Stalker kind of cramp your style?”

    Taylor ignored Sophia's sudden coughing fit. “No, the date isn't for me. It's for her.”

    “Okay, now I'm more confused than ever,” Clockblocker confessed, turning to face Shadow Stalker. “There's a guy your age who isn't terrified to ask you out on a date?”

    Taylor winced, fully expecting Shadow Stalker to blow up on the spot. Oh boy, here it comes. But instead of punching or insulting him, her reply was almost sweet. “Yup. And he's a really nice guy.” Taylor watched her step up until she was face to face with Clockblocker; interestingly enough, the two Wards were almost exactly the same height. “So you can keep dreaming.”

    “I, uh, sorry I said anything.” Clockblocker paused. “But I'll vouch for you if they ask me. You did good today. Really good.”

    “Thanks.” Taylor raised her voice slightly, turning his attention away from Shadow Stalker. “I appreciate it. We appreciate it.” She lifted her chin. “Now, uh, if you don't mind, I would actually like to have some girl talk with her?”

    He took the hint; giving her a sketchy salute, he backed off to where the mooks were still waiting to be picked up.

    “What?” Sophia murmured, once he was out of earshot. “Did you think I was gonna deck him or something?”

    “The thought crossed my mind, yeah,” Taylor said. “That, or call him an asshole.”

    Shadow Stalker snorted softly. “Almost did,” she admitted. “Decided at the last moment that it wouldn't be a smart idea to call my team leader names until after he's written his after-action report.”

    Taylor chuckled. “Is it me, or are you actually learning tact?”

    A rude noise emanated from behind the scowling-woman mask. “Wash your mouth out.”

    Taylor grinned. After learning that one important fact, she had felt that she would never be able to connect with Shadow Stalker on the same easy level that they'd had before. Now, she was hopeful; it would be a long while before she was truly comfortable with the new situation, but it seemed that Sophia was making the effort as well.

    I trust her with my life. Now I just have to learn how to trust her with my friendship again.


    That Evening

    “So let me get this straight.” Unconsciously, Deputy Director Renick squared off the papers in front of him with his fingertips. “You want to go to the movies again instead of roller-blading, and you want to allow Shadow Stalker to ask along a date?” His eyebrows rose on the last word as he looked significantly at the two teenage girls before him.

    “I'll also be roller-blading, to get there and back,” Taylor pointed out helpfully. “I was thinking we could meet the others at the movies.”

    “Others.” His tone was dry. “So this is a date for you also, Buzz?”

    “Uh, no, not really. The boy Sophia wants to go out with has a sister. We're pretty good friends.” She seemed about to say more, but shut her mouth firmly instead.

    “Indeed. And where did you meet these people?” He watched their faces. “Down at the Boardwalk last time, for instance? Did you perhaps go to the movies with them?”

    Sophia opened her mouth, but Taylor nudged her; she closed her mouth again. “Uh, yes, sir,” the bug controller admitted. “It really was an accident. Sophia literally ran into him and hurt her ankle.”

    Renick closed his eyes, pressing his fingertips to his forehead for a moment. “And why, exactly, did you not report the fact that your trip to the movies was actually in the company of others?”

    “Because at that time it was a one-off, sir.” Buzz's voice was earnest. “I didn't know if I'd even be thinking about asking permission to do it again. And I didn't want to prejudice Sophia's progress reports.”

    “Indeed.” His dry tone made them both wilt just a little. “And what, exactly, makes you think that I would be inclined to sign off on a repeat performance? Especially given that you weren't totally forthcoming with me, the first time around?”

    Buzz took a deep breath. “Sir, we did tell you that we went to the movies. We're not going behind your back on this one. And I do think that it's helping my relationship with Shadow Stalker. We are getting things worked out.”

    “Hm.” Renick picked up the report before him. For once, Clockblocker had deviated from his normally irritating habit of extreme brevity. The glowing language virtually leaped off the page as he described Shadow Stalker's desperate attempts to prevent Oni Lee from murdering Buzz. Trapped in his own time-frozen costume, the leader of the Wards had been an involuntary spectator for most of the fight. By his account, Shadow Stalker had been wounded twice – her bandaged shoulder and leg attested to that – and had still managed to keep Lee's clones off of Buzz just long enough for the tide to turn.

    The two girls watched him as he straightened the papers once more and placed them back on his desk. Interestingly enough, it was Shadow Stalker who seemed impassive, while Buzz was more tense. He let them sweat just a little longer before speaking.

    “On the other hand, this report is a prime example of what we're trying to encourage in the Wards,” he began. “You backed one another up, you saved each others' lives, and you worked together. I cannot overstate how much I approve of this. Shadow Stalker, you're a probationary Ward twice over now; however, despite all expectations to the contrary, you have justified Buzz's trust in the most definitive way possible. Buzz, I have to admit that I had misgivings when it came to partnering you with Shadow Stalker again, but by all indications it seems to be working out better than I ever expected.”

    Stunned silence met him as he stopped speaking. Both girls were staring at him as if he had grown a second head. He couldn't really blame them; the glowing praise, preceded as it was by the dressing-down of moments before, had to have caught them on the back foot.

    “Uh, so what does that mean, uh, sir?” To his mild surprise, it was Shadow Stalker who spoke. He would have bet money that Buzz had told Sophia to stay quiet and let her do the talking.

    “Well, for one thing,” Renick informed Shadow Stalker, “it means that Clockblocker has put your name up for a commendation. I am inclined to support this. For another, however you're doing it, your partnership seems to be working out well. I will expect a positive report from Mrs Yamada, the next time you see her, but for now I'm going to sign off on this movie date of yours. This time.”

    Shadow Stalker did not leap out of her chair to hug Buzz, but he suspected that was because she was too stunned to think coherently.

    Buzz, on the other hand, had a response ready. “Thank you, sir,” she said. “Thank you. A lot.” She grinned at Shadow Stalker. “I'll definitely keep an eye on her.”

    “I'll be expecting you to,” Renick told her austerely. “Shadow Stalker, I believe that your leg needs a little time to mend before you'll be able to roller-blade again, but I fully expect you to discuss your issues anyway. Is that clear?”

    Recovering from her surprise, Shadow Stalker looked less than pleased at that, but Buzz once again nudged her. “Uh, yes, uh, sir,” the probationary Ward replied, a little reluctantly. “We'll do that too.”

    Renick smiled. “Good. Then we understand each other.”


    “Holy crap, how did you even pull that off?” Sophia limped alongside Buzz as they headed down the corridor toward the entrance to the Wards' base. Both had masked up again after leaving Renick's office. “I thought we were grounded for sure.”

    Buzz shrugged. “Remember how I insisted on telling them about the movies the first time? This meant that Renick already knew about them, so it wasn't just one more surprise for him to handle.”

    “Yeah, but … shit.” Sophia shook her head as she stopped at the retinal scanner. “I'm used to being put on punishment duty, not being told 'sure, you can go on a date'.” She leaned over and let the scanner examine her eye. A buzzer sounded; a few moments later, the doors slid aside.

    “Well, part of it's gotta be Clockblocker's report,” Buzz pointed out. “And there's the man of the hour himself.” She moved over to where Clockblocker was chatting with Kid Win at the console. “Hey, Clock.”

    “Hey, Buzz.” He turned to face her. “So how'd it go?”

    “It went great.” She hugged him. “Thanks for the nice things you said about Shadow Stalker. She totally deserved them.”

    “Yeah, she did,” he replied. “Which is why I said them.” He looked over as Sophia approached. “I just want to say, you and me, we never really got along, but I think you and Buzz make a great team. You really stepped up.” He held out his hand. “I'll go on patrol with you any time.”

    Slowly, Sophia shook it. She wasn't sure how she felt about him hugging Buzz – she's my friend, dammit – but it was an overture. “Yeah, thanks,” she said awkwardly. “Jumping on that grenade like that, that was kinda badass too.”

    He shrugged. “I wear a full-body costume for a reason. But it wasn't a great move, because it put me out of the fight for a bit. How's your leg and your shoulder?”

    “Eh, had worse.” She shrugged, very carefully. “I've been stitched up. Should be fine in a few days.”

    “Clock was just telling me about the fight,” put in Kid Win. “Did you really put a grenade underground?”

    “Only thing I could think of doing,” Sophia confirmed. “The bastard was handing them out like party favours.”

    The Tinker nodded at her. “He's scary like that. Good job keeping him off Buzz. Sounds like he really had it in for her.”

    “Yeah, well, here's hoping he really goes to the Birdcage, like Armsmaster said,” Buzz added. “That's something I don't ever want to go through again.”

    Clockblocker slapped her on the shoulder. “You and me both. It's just a good thing that Shadow Stalker was there too.”

    And for the first time in a long time, with the three of them looking at her in obvious approval, Sophia found herself blushing.


    Winslow High School
    Wednesday Morning, April 27, 2011

    "Hey, Sophia, wait up!"

    Sophia looked around to see Emma approaching, with Madison right behind her. Oh great. She's still pissed about my statement. A quick glance around showed that Taylor was nowhere in sight - she didn't need that particular can of worms opening itself right now - so she turned to face the redhead. "What do you want, Emma?"

    "Geez, what got up your ass?" retorted Emma. "All I did was ask for one little tiny favour on Monday and you just stomped off. And if I didn't know better, I'd think you were avoiding me all yesterday."

    I was, because I don't know how to handle this situation. "I wasn't. I was just ... busy." Sophia didn't say any more, because Madison wasn't in on her secret identity.

    "Yeah, well, Dad's been looking at the legal side of things for the last couple of days." Emma rolled her eyes, apparently over her upset with Sophia. "I need to let off some steam."

    Madison nodded. "Yeah. So, anyone seen Hebert? I've got the urge to go pull a massive prank on her."

    Shit, that didn't take long. Sophia shook her head. "No, I don't think so. Not today, anyway."

    “What do you mean, not today? She's been getting away from us for days now,” Emma protested. “It's like she's got a sixth sense about what we're going to do. We need to get our heads back in the game if we're gonna get her.”

    Sophia repressed a grimace. I'm treading a fine line here. If I let Emma know why Buzz is off limits, I risk outing her. “Listen. I got in the shit a couple days ago, same as you. Big time. Really big time. So they're gonna be watching me extra close.”

    “What do you mean, got in the shit big time?” piped up Madison. “Who's watching you?”

    Oh, for fuck's sake. She's not supposed to know. “Blackwell and the teachers,” lied Sophia. “They're on some kind of kick, and I'm in their cross-hairs. If I pull anything at all, I might lose my spot on the track team. Shit, I might even get expelled.” Not that I'd even think of doing anything now. Even if she wasn't my partner, Buzz is way too fucking scary to mess with.

    “What did you get caught doing?" insisted Madison. “I didn't hear about anything. You seemed okay on Friday.” She tilted her head. "Is this something to do with that thing that's happening with Emma?"

    Emma and Sophia glanced at each other. Sophia could see the redhead wondering if their problems were indeed related. "Uh, no," she replied. "They didn't say anything to me about Emma at all. Anyway, can we just drop it?"

    "Yeah, that's probably a good idea." Emma seemed to have the idea that Sophia's problems were to do with the Wards, so she was doing her best to cover for Sophia. "Better leave it, Mads."

    “Okay, fine.” Madison didn't pout, but it was a near thing. “Be that way.” She shrugged. “Anyway, there's always after school. Once we're off school grounds, Blackwell can kiss my ass.”

    “After school sounds fine to me,” Emma agreed. “We'll get her before she gets on the bus. What do you think, Sophia?”

    Sophia wanted to beat her head against a wall. After school is when we're meeting Brian for the date. Fuck, were we always so fixated on tormenting Taylor like this? “ Uh, there's this thing I gotta do. Can't make it, sorry.”

    Once more, she saw Emma come to the conclusion that it had to do with the Wards. Madison, of course, was oblivious. “For fuck's sake, really? You blew us off on Monday and Tuesday and now today, too. What's going on?”

    Sophia gritted her teeth. Time to be the bully again. Shoving Madison against the wall, she ignored the shorter girl's shocked expression as she hissed, “What's going on is none of your fucking business. So just butt out, okay?”

    “Sophia -” began Emma.

    “Stay out of this, Emma,” ordered Sophia. “This is between me and Madison. I -”

    “Miss Hess! Let Miss Clements go at once!”

    It was Mr Gladly's voice. Sophia sighed as she released her hold on Madison and stepped back. Now they start paying fucking attention.

    End of Part Three

    Part Four
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
    Pezz, Scopas, Cmdr_Anax and 36 others like this.
  27. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

    Feb 5, 2015
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    Good chapter. I love the reactions all around, especially Oni Lee's. And Sophia trying to deal with Emma and Madison is priceless :)
    fireball900, Ack and Prince Charon like this.
  28. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

    Feb 20, 2014
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    That last scene makes me wonder if Sophia and Emma are going to cut Madison loose, soon. She's being pretty aggressive, but lacks the power to back it up.

    Also, kind of counting down to when Emma or Madison catches Sophia hanging out with Taylor. While it's certainly plausible that they won't get caught, it's also very plausible that they would, and it would make for an interesting scene or arch.
    MaddTitan, Chase92, Ack and 2 others like this.
  29. Firedon

    Firedon Experienced.

    May 17, 2015
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    Well, it was a good think she had.

    Pretty nice chapter. Yeah, Buzz'll likely carry even more duct tape around now. And now Sophia can look on the trio's action sorta from the outside, yay!
    Ack likes this.
  30. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    Yeah, I've gotten a lot of feedback over that typo. Will be fixing :p