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Earning Her Stripes (Worm AU fanfic)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, Jan 4, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Index
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    When Emma and Madison, with Sophia's help, decide to escalate their tormenting of Taylor to a whole new level, things are going to get interesting.
    And not in a good way.


    [A/N 1: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]
    [A/N 2: This is an AU; details will show up in the narrative.]
    [A/N 3: Taylor does not have a connection with Queen Administrator in this fic.]



    Part One: Three Vials (below)
    Part Two: Powering Up
    Part Three: Figuring Things Out
    Part Four: Preparations
    Part Five: The Real Thing
    Part Six: Tests Passed and Failed
    Part Seven: Making Progress
    Part Eight: Learning Process
    Part Nine: Unbreakable
    Part Ten: Revelations
    Part Eleven: Expanding Viewpoints
    Part Twelve: Troubles
    Part Thirteen: Talking It Out
    Part Fourteen: Adding Fuel to the Fire
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2022
  2. Threadmarks: Part One: Three Vials
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Earning Her Stripes

    Part One: Three Vials

    Early August, 2010
    Barnes Household
    Emma


    “So what’s going on?” asked Madison. “You didn’t give me any details. Just told me to come right over.”

    Emma shrugged. “I have no idea. Sophia called me up and said there was something really interesting I should know about. So I decided to bring you in on it.”

    “Ooh, okay.” Madison’s face lit up. “Is it about Taylor? Has Sophia found out that all the shit we’ve been saying about her is true? That would be amazing.”

    “Dunno. Sophia didn’t say much, just that she needed to show it to me.” She looked around at a knock on the front door. “That should be her now.” Heading over to the door, she opened it. It was, indeed, Sophia.

    “Come on in.” Emma stepped back to allow her other best friend to enter. “What’s this all about?”

    Sophia waited until Emma had closed the door, then looked around. She held a backpack carefully in her hands. “Is your family home?”

    This was getting stranger by the second. “No,” Emma said. “Anne said she’d be staying over at a friend’s place, and Mom and Dad are at the Augustus Country Club. They always stay late there. Why? If this is about Taylor, we’ve still got a month to figure out what we’re going to be doing to her once school lets back in.” She didn’t think it was about Taylor, but it was always good to cover that base.

    Sophia shook her head. “Forget Hebert. This is more important.” While Emma was still wrapping her head around that statement, the black girl went over to the TV and turned it on. A Slaughterhouse Nine retrospective was playing, reviewing some of the infamous gang’s worst atrocities. They’d been going downhill for the last ten years, trying harder and harder to get back into the public eye. When Jack Slash got his head blown off by a twelve-gauge shotgun in the course of an ill-advised home invasion in 2005, it had spelled the beginning of the end. Now, despite the name, the gang rarely had more than five members at a time, and they never attacked big cities at all.

    Ignoring the screen, Sophia put her backpack on the sofa and delved into it. To Emma’s confusion, she came up with three cloth-wrapped bundles. One at a time, she unrolled the wrappings until she was holding three glass tubes, plugged with black rubber corks. Each one held a metallic liquid which reflected and refracted the light in weird ways as Sophia held them up to the light.

    “Whoa …” breathed Emma. “What are they?” She stared at the tiny vials, fascinated despite herself.

    “I honestly have no fucking idea,” Sophia replied. “All I know is that there was some kind of cape fight between a bunch of people I’ve never seen before. The fight moved around a bit, and I saw a dead guy holding a case, so I took a chance and grabbed it. The case had these in it.”

    “And they didn’t realise you had them?” Emma considered that to be the high priority.

    “By the time they started looking, I was well away from the action, and the PRT was on the way, so they had to bolt.” Sophia shrugged. “They never saw me, and they got no fuckin’ idea who I am.”

    “Where’s the case now?” asked Madison, frowning slightly. “It might be important.”

    “Fuck ‘important’,” retorted Sophia. “Something like this, there’s almost certainly a tracking beacon involved. Soon as I got the case open, I dumped it. Along with the canisters these things were in. Just in case.”

    “You should maybe have left them in the canisters,” Emma suggested diffidently. “They look kind of fragile.”

    “Yeah, no shit.” Sophia made a rude noise with her lips. “I accidentally lost two already when they broke against each other. But I’ve been keeping the rest of them wrapped up and separate from each other since then, so they’re good. I just don’t know what they are, or why those assholes were fighting over them. They’ve gotta be valuable somehow, right?”

    Emma knew where she was coming from. Independent vigilantes had it the worst of all capes. Sophia had to maintain her costume and her gear all on her own dime, while the Protectorate got paid a wage to go out there and wear costumes for the government, and supervillains literally stole money with their powers. The only break she got was that knocking over a drug house meant she could walk away with some of the money and the cops would look the other way, so long as she didn’t get too greedy. Technically speaking, selling something she found at the scene of a cape battle could be seen as the same? Maybe?

    “I think so,” Madison said slowly. “I think I know what they are. And we’re not going to be able to sell them. Or at least, the people who are likely to pay the most aren’t the kind of people we want having them.”

    “You’re not making any sense,” Sophia said impatiently. “What the fuck do I care what kind of people they are, so long as they can pony up the cash?”

    “I might be wrong.” Madison didn’t sound like she thought she was wrong. “But I like reading the tinfoil-hat boards; you know that. And this stuff, these vials … they look awfully like what Cauldron vials are supposed to look like.”

    Emma burst out laughing. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” she managed after about thirty seconds. “You’re saying these are powers in a can? That’s bullshit. You have to know that’s bullshit. There’s no such thing.” She’d read the same pages Madison was alluding to, though she hadn’t gone as far down the rabbit hole. The whole ‘Cauldron’ conspiracy theory, especially the concept that they gave out ‘powers in a can’ to people who were particularly deserving, or whoever paid them a small fortune (the stories varied) was deeply appealing. Which was why she distrusted it so thoroughly. Nothing in this world was too good to be true.

    “But what if it’s true?” asked Madison. “From what you’re saying, people were ready to kill for them.” She eyed the tubes that Sophia was holding. “I’m pretty sure that’s not the new Fugly Bob’s secret sauce formula there.”

    “Well, if they are powers in a can …” Emma stopped. She’d been about to say, ‘how much can we get for them’, but another thought intruded. “… can anyone drink one?”

    “What, you want powers?” Sophia raised her eyebrows. “Who said I’d let you drink any of them, anyway? My fuckin’ vials, I do what I want with them. Maybe I’ll sell ’em to the highest bidder.”

    “Who will almost certainly turn out to be a supervillain,” Emma pointed out. “Do we really need three more supervillains in Brockton Bay? Wouldn’t you rather have a partner to help kick the bad guys’ asses?”

    Sophia seemed to be considering that. “What happened to Miss ‘screw the vigilante life, it’s too much work’?”

    “We could be a team!” argued Emma, ignoring her words. “Don’t tell me you couldn’t have done with backup from time to time!” She turned to Madison. “If I drank one, you’d drink one too, right?”

    Madison blinked. “I … guess? Whoa, shit, we really could, couldn’t we?” She shook her head. “It’s just so weird, talking about the idea of just having powers, you know?”

    “Yeah, we could.” Emma’s grin was getting wider all the time. “If we’re drinking two of them, who do we give the third vial to?”

    “Julia?” suggested Madison. “She’s pretty cool. Backs me up in Mr G’s class when we’re screwing with Taylor.”

    Sophia shook her head. “Fuck Julia,” she said bluntly. “She’s a fuckin’ wimp.”

    Emma frowned. The more she thought about it, the less anyone she knew was actually worthy of having powers. Except for her and Madison and Sophia, of course; and Sophia was already a parahuman. “Well, we can’t just leave it sitting on the shelf. What if it’s got a use-by date?” She eyed the vials. “Maybe we could split the last one between us?”

    Madison shook her head violently. “No, that’s a bad idea. I read on the boards that mixing vials is a prime way to end up as a Case Fifty-Two. One of the bad ones. Like, no arms and your head’s where your butt’s supposed to be.”

    “Yeah, and how do they know this?” Emma tried to feel as sceptical as she sounded. “Did they try it?”

    “Maybe.” Madison glared challengingly at her. “Where do you think they come from, anyway?”

    “For fuck’s sake, nobody’s going to be mixing any fucking vials!” Sophia made a cut-off motion with her free hand. “Try to think of someone who’d be good to bring on board, and who wouldn’t fuck off and do their own thing with their powers once they had them. The last thing we want is someone pulling a Legend.”

    That was a very important point. The Protectorate—the core Protectorate—had become the Triumvirate after an extremely public falling-out between the four main heroes. The reason for Legend’s defection from their ranks had never been made public, just the fact of it; the Triumvirate weren’t talking, and Legend wasn’t making himself available for interviews.

    Which meant that if Emma was going to be giving someone permission to have super-powers, they needed to know who was in charge. There was no sense in giving someone power if she couldn’t give them orders once they had that power. She tried to think of someone in her circle who wasn’t a total drip, who could also be a useful asset.

    Madison’s eyes opened wide. “Holy shit,” she murmured. “I just had the best idea of what to do with the last vial.”

    Emma raised her eyebrows slightly. Madison’s plans tended to be a little on the elaborate side, but they were usually worthwhile once she and Sophia pruned the deadwood away. “Shoot.”

    A manic grin split Madison’s face. “We give it to Taylor.”

    Sophia wiggled her little finger in her ear. “Just for a moment, I thought I heard you say we should give the fuckin’ thing to Hebert. And I know you didn’t say that.”

    Emma frowned. “I heard it too. What the hell, Mads?”

    “No, no, no, listen!” Madison was so excited, she was jiggling in place. “Not right now. We keep one aside, and me and you each drink one. We get used to our powers, and get proper costumes, and Sophia shows us how to be heroes, and we make a name for ourselves.” She gestured at herself and Emma and Sophia. “I mean, whatever powers we get, we should make a pretty rockin’ team, yeah?”

    “Okay …” Emma tilted her head slightly. “Still waiting for the explanation about the bit where we give Taylor one though.”

    “Yeah.” Sophia snorted. “Hope you weren’t thinking you’d be inviting her on to our team. She’s so fuckin’ lame she’d get negative powers.” She paused, looking thoughtful. “Unless you wanted to make her do all sorts of twisted shit so she could prove she’s worth letting on to the team? That could be worth a laugh.”

    “Yeah,” giggled Emma. “Tell her if she wants to join the team, she’s gotta Sharpie a swastika on to Lung’s left butt cheek. And get photos.”

    “That’d be funny as shit,” Madison admitted. “But I got an even better idea.”

    Emma looked at her. “I’m listening.”

    “So we’ve got powers and costumes, and we’re a proper hero team, right?” Madison made a come-on gesture to the other two.

    “Right,” agreed Sophia. “So what’s next?”

    Madison showed her teeth. “What’s next is that we jump her on the first day of school in September. We force-feed her the vial then shove her in her locker. We’re wearing most of our costumes under our clothes already, right? Soon as we’ve done that, we go change the rest of the way. By the time the stuff takes effect and she gets her powers, she’ll be panicking. Everything I’ve ever read says that if you get powers while you’re in a panic, you lash out. So she lashes out, and breaks stuff, and maybe even hurts people. And that’s when we come swooping in.”

    Sophia’s eyes had opened wide, and Emma’s were not far behind. “Holy shit.” Emma’s voice was reverent. “That’s absolute genius. We’d be the big damn heroes.”

    Carefully laying the vials down beside the backpack, Sophia smacked her fist into her palm. “Three on one? We’ll kick her fuckin’ ass. And we don’t even have to be careful about it.”

    “And the best bit is, she’s instantly outed.” Madison beamed at the other two, pleased at their approval. “Nowhere she can run and hide. We can kick her around all day until the PRT shows up, then we hand her over. She either escapes or she goes to juvey. If she escapes, we get to hunt her down, kick the shit out of her all over again, and hand her over to the PRT. Rinse and repeat.”

    “What if she just does her time and gets out?” Emma felt she had to raise the probability.

    Sophia shrugged. “Then we frame her for something, kick the shit out of her—because we’ll be the fuckin’ heroes and she’ll be the villain, so who’ll believe her?—and send her straight back. Every time she gets out, we put her back, ’til they throw her in the fuckin’ Birdcage. Win-win.”

    The more Emma thought about it, the fewer problems she could see. She shook her head. “I have to hand it to you, Mads. You’ve absolutely outdone yourself this time.” She offered her fist; blushing pink with pleasure, Madison bumped it.

    “Hey, before we break our arms patting ourselves on the back, we need to work out the logistics of this,” Sophia broke in. “When are we gonna do it, where are we gonna do it, and what are you two gonna do for costumes?”

    Emma rubbed her hands together briskly. “As soon as possible for the ‘when’. We want to be established heroes before school starts. I’ll leave the ‘where’ up to you, Sophia. You’re the professional vigilante.” She smiled sweetly. “And as for paying for costumes, all I’ll have to do is bat my eyelashes and ask Dad for an advance on my allowance so I can have up-to-date outfits for school. I figure I’ll be able to cover you and me both, Mads.”

    “Maybe we should wait to see what powers we get before we start talking costumes,” Madison advised her seriously. “It would suck if you paid up front for a totally rockin’ outfit, then got flame powers and had to start from scratch with something that’s fireproof.”

    “Good point.” Emma studied the vials on the sofa. One looked silver with a green tinge, one was gold with a blue tinge, and one was muddy grey with flecks of black and white. In her own mind, she decided that she was going to take the gold and blue one. “So, the first step is powers. Seeing what we get, and figuring out how to use them.”

    Sophia nodded. “Powers and power training.”

    Madison grinned widely. “We’re gonna have powers!”

    She held up her hand; Emma high-fived her.


    End of Part One
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2022
  3. Rentoba

    Rentoba Shocked Panda

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    This can only end well. For us. The Trio and Taylor are looking to have a bad time.
     
    LordGoliath512, Scopas and Ack like this.
  4. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    This is the sort of plan that only stupid bullies would ever come up with.

    It's slightly over the top, but, I can see it.


    It's going to be a glorious mess.
     
  5. Biigoh

    Biigoh Tanuki Moderator

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    This is interesting... to see how the bullying goes.
     
    Ack likes this.
  6. Threadmarks: Part Two: Powering Up
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Earning Her Stripes

    Part Two: Powering Up

    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]


    Three Days Later

    "Captain's Hill?" complained Madison. "Why Captain's Hill?" She cracked a yawn.

    "And why four in the morning?" Emma added. "Do you know the last time I woke up this early? Never, that's when." She huddled into her jacket, looking around the deserted parking lot. Even the taillights of the cab that had brought her and Madison up there had vanished down the road.

    "One, it's deserted," Sophia informed them crisply. "Two, it's not like anyone's gonna be just wandering around the corner. We need privacy for this sort of thing."

    "So why not just do it in my bedroom?" Emma rolled her eyes. "We're plenty private in there."

    "And what if your powers involve bursting into flames, or exploding ice spikes everywhere, or turning into a fifty foot water monster?" Sophia gestured at the empty parking lot. "Here, nobody will notice. In your room, I think your dad would notice."

    "Oh. Yeah." Emma grimaced. "Good point." She plucked at her jacket sleeve. "So should I take this off before I take the vial?"

    "Probably," Madison noted. "I think maybe we should take them one at a time, too. I read this one thing, two people got vials and drank them standing next to each other, and they became one person." She tried to lower her voice for effect, but this just made her sound even cuter.

    This time, Sophia rolled her eyes. "That's ten ton of bullshit in a five ton truck. Great stories, never happen in real life. But maybe you should take them one at a time, so I only have to watch one of you at a time."

    "Okay, sure." Emma looked at her petite friend. "You want to go first, Mads, or me?"

    Madison snorted. "Taking them was your idea. You go first."

    All of a sudden, Emma was a lot less certain about her great idea. But she saw Sophia and Madison both watching her, and she knew there was no way she could back out now. Taking her jacket off to reveal the sweats Sophia had advised they both wear, she kicked off her sneakers as well. The gravel of the parking lot was harsh on her sock-clad feet. She handed her jacket to Madison, who took it.

    Sophia brought out the vials and held them so that Emma could see them. Emma reached out and took the one she'd chosen before, the gold and blue one, then began to work the cork free.

    "Not yet, not yet," Sophia said hastily. "Give us a chance to get to the picnic area, in case you do something that makes a crater. I'll call out when we're ready."

    "Okay, then." Emma waited, trying to shift her feet so the gravel didn't dig so sharply into them, shivering slightly in the pre-dawn chill. She saw her sneakers still sitting next to her, and kicked them so they skittered some yards away. If she did something damaging, she didn't want to lose them as well.

    In the distance, Sophia and Madison ducked down behind a brick barbecue, and she heard Sophia call out. "Ready!"

    Okay, then. She took a deep breath. I'm doing this to be strong. To show Taylor who's the strongest. Nobody's ever going to make me feel helpless again. Her hands were shaking as she shook the vial vigorously, then worked the cork out; the air was so still that the tiny pop sounded loud in her ears. A deep breath, to calm her nerves. This didn't work, so she took another one. The vial was still in her hand, open. The contents both beckoned and repelled her.

    Abruptly, convulsively, she closed her eyes, then put the vial to her lips. Opening her mouth, feeling the cool glass on her lower lip, she tilted the vial back. The stuff inside slithered into her mouth, and she had to repress the urge to gag, to spit it out again. It was horrible. But she had to drink it. This was the most important thing she would ever do with her life. Her eyes were already closed, but she clenched them so hard they hurt, then she swallowed the concoction.

    It burned all the way down.

    Shuddering, eyes still closed, she lowered the vial from her mouth. Nothing seemed to be happening, aside from a slight roiling in her guts. She didn't feel like she was erupting in flames or turning into rock. Tentatively opening her eyes, she looked down at her hands, one of which held the vial and the other the rubber cork. The vial was definitely empty; the foul taste in her mouth and throat verified that she'd swallowed the contents.

    "Maybe it was—" She didn't get any farther, as the roiling sensation exploded into heat that blasted through every part of her body. She was burning; she was melting. The absolute conviction that she was dying impressed itself on her brain. Why the fuck did I drink some stupid fucking stuff from a test tube?

    Gradually, she came back to herself. Her breathing was harsh, but at least she was breathing. She was also lying down. Opening her eyes, she looked around. It was still the same parking lot, but from a viewpoint a lot closer to the ground. Nothing seemed to be on fire, which seemed like a minor miracle to her. Then she looked down at her arm. She was still wearing her sweats, which indicated that she probably hadn't burst into flame after all, despite everything her nerve endings had been telling her.

    As she hoisted herself to a sitting position, she heard footsteps, and looked around to see Madison and Sophia cautiously approaching. "Well, that was no fun," she said out loud. Then she realised she'd pulled a perfect crunch, which she'd never done before.

    "Okay, so what are your powers?" asked Sophia. "Can you fly? Run fast? Turn invisible?"

    "Hm. Not sure." Emma flipped the vial into the air and held up the cork, skinny end upward. The vial went end for end twice, then dropped on to the cork, a perfect hit. Gathering her legs under her, she kicked off and pulled a backflip from a seated position that landed her on her feet. Lifting her sweats, she studied her stomach. "But whatever my powers are, they come with killer abs."

    Madison's jaw dropped, and Emma could tell Sophia was struggling not to react with disbelief as well.

    "What?" she asked. "I feel really fit now, but that's about it. Is fitness a super-power?"

    "It is, the way you're using it," Sophia said dryly. "Wanna put your sneakers back on so Madison can take her vial?"

    "Oh, yeah. Good point." Emma strolled over to where she'd kicked her shoes. On the way, she noticed that the gravel wasn't really bothering her anymore. On a whim, she flicked the sneakers up with her toes, then hacky-sacked them into her free hand. It was no more effort than pulling a handkerchief from her pocket.

    "Damn, that's gonna take some getting used to." Sophia shook her head. "Let's go give Mads her privacy."

    Side by side, they headed over to the barbecue. Emma could feel every piece of gravel underfoot, but none of them caused her pain.

    They reached the barbecue and crouched down behind it. Emma took the time to shrug into her jacket, despite the fact that she no longer felt any particular chill from the morning air. "Okay!" Sophia called out to the petite brunette. Raising her head, Emma watched as her friend drank the vial down. Remembering her own dose, she thought the term 'vile' might be more apropos. In the event, Madison didn't spit it out or vomit it up, though from her body language, Emma thought either one might have been a near thing.

    There was no flame, no explosion. Sophia and Emma could've watched the whole thing from two yards away. All Madison did was fall down and convulse a little.

    "Did I do that?" asked Emma quietly.

    "More or less, yeah." Sophia stood up and dusted her hands off. "Well, time to go see how the runt handles having powers."

    Emma rolled her eyes as she stood up as well. "After that comment, I'd laugh if she grew fifty feet tall."

    "Hey, you're basically Jackie Chan on steroids. Anything's possible."

    "Yeah, right." Emma jabbed Sophia in the ribs with her elbow.

    "What the—" Sophia tried to retaliate, but Emma nudged the elbow aside with a grace and dexterity she'd never had before. On her second attempt, Emma did exactly the same thing; when she tried a third time, Emma let her succeed. "Hah! Gotcha!"

    "Yup." They'd gotten to where Madison was beginning to sit up, looking groggy. "Hey, Mads. How you feeling?"

    "Like shit." Madison made it halfway to her feet, then collapsed on to her butt again. "How come you were standing and walking like straight away? My head feels like a football that's just been kicked into orbit."

    "Just lucky, I guess." Emma extended a hand downward and grasped Madison's wrist. "Let's get you up." With a surge of strength that surprised even her, she hoisted Madison to a semblance of standing.

    "Whoa!" yelped Madison in surprise. "Geez, warn a girl, why don't you?" Reaching up, she prodded Emma's arm. "Holy shit, you're ripped."

    "Comes with the killer abs, I guess." Emma smirked. "So, what powers did you get? Just be warned, if you can fly, I will hate you forever."

    Madison shook her head. "No, I can't fly." Standing more steadily now, she looked at her hands. Her fingers twitched. "I just want to build stuff."

    "Stuff?" Sophia looked at her alertly. "What kind of stuff?"

    "Power armour. Guns. Machines. Vehicles. Stuff." Madison smiled, showing her teeth. "I want to build everything."

    Emma and Sophia looked at each other over the top of Madison's head. "Tinker," they chorused.


    End of Part Two
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  7. Threadmarks: Part Three: Figuring Things Out
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Earning Her Stripes

    Part Three: Figuring Things Out

    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]

    The Next Day
    Barnes Household


    Madison had never been one for drawing before, but now it seemed to be second nature. And she could do it almost anywhere, even when what she was lying on was rising and falling at a metronomic pace. Or rather, who she was lying on.

    “Two seventy-four,” panted Emma. “Two seventy-five, two seventy-left, two seventy-seven …” Wearing a tank top and sweat pants, she steadily cranked out the push-ups, just slowly enough that she could keep an audible count. Every five push-ups, she switched from one hand to the other, with no noticeable reduction in the rate. Madison barely paid attention to the changes. Lying full-length on Emma’s back, she held a sketch-pad up above her head with one hand, the pencil in her other hand flickering over the paper.

    The bedroom door opened and Sophia strolled in, drinking from a can of soda. “How’s my two apprentices doing?” she asked with a grin.

    “—seventy-eight, two seventy-nine, two eighty, two eighty-right, two eighty-two …”

    “I’ve got my initial furnace designed and ready to go,” Madison reported. “Plus the requirements for my first set of armour. Plus a big gun.”

    “Big gun?” Sophia raised her eyebrows. “How big?”

    Madison sat up on Emma’s back, crossing her legs as she restabilised her weight over the small of Emma’s back. The redhead didn’t seem to mind, or even notice. “Variable yield. At max power, it’ll splatter Lung all over the landscape.”

    “—ninety-nine, three hundred.” Emma paused. “Mads, get off.”

    “Okay, Ems.” Obediently, Madison stood up, and Emma bounced to her feet. Apart from a faint sheen of sweat, she didn’t even look like she’d been exercising. Madison couldn’t even tell if she was breathing hard.

    “Three hundred,” Emma reported to Sophia. “To be honest, I don’t think push-ups are even doing anything for me. It was like walking down a set of stairs. Slowly.”

    But Sophia wasn’t listening. She stared at Madison, the soda-can half raised. “Are you sure?” she asked at last. “Won’t that, uh, put holes in buildings and stuff?”

    “And stuff, yeah. It would probably dig a crater out of Captain’s Hill if we fired it in that direction, or clear out the Boat Graveyard once and for all.” Madison tapped her chin with the pencil. “Probably a bad idea, with all the shrapnel we’d get. I think I’ll keep max power under wraps for the time being. But yeah, first I need to build the tools to build the tools. So I need to construct my furnace first.”

    “Furnace?” Sophia gestured with the can. “Can’t you just … you know, build power armour?”

    “Out of what?” Madison rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I’m a Tinker. But even Tinkers need something to work with, and I refuse to construct stuff that’ll fall apart in five minutes. What I need is a refinery, but the first step is my furnace.”

    “Okay, then, what do we need for a furnace?”

    Madison shrugged. “Three cars. One for parts, two for materials. I should have the furnace done in a day, and the parts made for my second furnace in another day.”

    Sophia seemed to be having trouble working this out. “Why do you need two furnaces? Why can’t you just use one? We’ve only got three weeks until school opens. You two need to be established heroes by then.”

    “Because I do!” Madison’s voice rose. Turning, she stomped out of the room. She needed a soda in the worst way, and having Sophia question what was so obvious really got up in her grille.

    <><>​

    Emma watched Sophia’s expression as Madison left the room. If she had to guess, Sophia was pissed that her attempts to come across as the master of everything parahuman were falling flatter than a pancake on Lord Street at rush hour. The vigilante had even tried to keep up with Emma when she started the push-ups, but had dropped out after the first forty, claiming that she had to be free to mentor both of them at the same time.

    “What’s with her?” Sophia asked. “She’s gonna be a cape, you’d think she could handle a little pressure.”

    “You’re not a Tinker. I’m not a Tinker. We’re not qualified to decide how she does shit.” Emma shrugged. “But push-ups aren’t doing much except bore me to tears. What else should I be doing?”

    Sophia got a nasty grin on her face. “Well, I might not know what a Tinker needs to be doing, but your powers are a lot more physical. I know physical. Do you remember any of those self-defense lessons I gave you that one time?”

    It sounded to Emma like Sophia was looking to get some satisfaction by physically overbearing her. That was actually fine by her; if nothing else, she’d learn how to fight properly. There was no percentage in trying to learn from someone who wasn’t trying to push her past her limits, after all. “Not much of them,” she admitted. Sophia hadn’t been a very patient teacher. To be fair, Emma hadn’t been a very apt pupil. Well, this was about to change.

    “Fine. We’ll start from scratch. When are your folks due home again?”

    “Sometime this evening,” Emma said. “Dad said he was going to be meeting with associates again at the Augustus Country Club.” She rolled her eyes. “Which means drinks until late.”

    “Excellent.” Sophia angled her head toward the door. “Let’s go down to the living room.”

    “Sure thing.” Emma strolled out to where the stairs led down to the living room; on an impulse, she jumped up on the bannister and rode it all the way down sidesaddle, slipping off just before she would’ve hit the stair-post at the end. To her personal pride, she only took two steps to regain her balance.

    “Rule number one!” called out Sophia from the top of the stairs. “If you grandstand during a battle like that, you’ll get your ass handed to you. Don’t do it!” She leaped off the top step and turned to shadow, gliding down almost weightlessly. When she turned solid at the bottom, she gave Emma a glare. “I can try to teach you, but if you won’t learn, it’s not my fault.”

    “No grandstanding. Got it.” Emma decided not to point out that she hadn’t been grandstanding, that it had been just as easy as walking down normally. She supposed that balancing on the rail and skating down barefoot would’ve been grandstanding. Almost as easy, but grandstanding all the same.

    “Good.” Sophia moved into the open part of the living room, then turned to face Emma. “Okay, now I want you to try to hit me.” She settled into a vaguely defensive posture, though Emma could tell she was set up to deliver a stinging jab in response to any missed attacks.

    “Um, shouldn’t you be showing me how to throw a punch first?” Emma thought she had a good idea of it, but she was also well aware of the concept of ‘don’t know how much you don’t know’.

    Sophia rolled her eyes. “Right. Yeah. Okay.” She stepped up alongside Emma and took hold of her hand. Roughly, she folded Emma’s fingers into a fist, with the thumb on the outside. “Okay, this is how your fist should look. And this is how it should go.” Moving exaggeratedly slowly, she threw a couple of punches from the shoulder. “Got it?”

    “Got it.” Emma nodded, though she was fairly sure nobody else but her could have learned anything from the rough and ready lesson plan. She closed her hands into the fists Sophia had showed her, then resettled them into something that felt more natural. “What’s next?”

    Going back into her defensive stance, Sophia beckoned with one hand. “Try to hit me.”

    “Okay.” Emma could see several holes in Sophia’s defences, but she knew the whole purpose of the exercise was so that Sophia could demonstrate how to block a punch and retaliate. So she threw a half-speed blow at a point where she knew Sophia could knock it aside.

    “Shit!” Sophia yelped and stepped back, the punch barely avoided. There was no question of a return jab. “Emma, it’s not smart to go all-out from the word go. You’ve got to pace yourself in a fight.”

    “Oh, okay. Sorry. Um, maybe you should show me what I’m doing wrong.” Emma was confused. Sophia knew how to fight. She’d seen her fight before. I didn’t try to hit her that hard … did I?

    “Okay, then.” Sophia huffed out a breath, her eyes slitted in anger. “I’m just gonna hit you lightly, and you figure out how to block me, okay?” Her bunched shoulders called her a liar. At least the first one was going to sting, a lot. Maybe the first five or six, until Emma had learned her place.

    “Okay.” Emma brought her hands up in front of her, ready to do her best at defending against Sophia actively trying to hit her. “Ready.”

    The first blow came in so telegraphed that Emma almost let it hit, sure it was a feint covering for a sneak attack waiting in the wings. At the last moment, she gave up looking for the sneak blow, and brushed the punch aside. No sneak attack came; it seemed that the ‘feint’ had been the real attack. Was Sophia trying to fake her out by disguising her punches as ineffectual jabs? No matter. Sophia had told her to defend herself.

    “Lucky,” grunted Sophia. “Let’s see how you do with this one.”

    She launched a few more punches, and Emma pushed them aside, all the while waiting for the real volley of blows. None came. Sophia swung at her again and again, but the punches were so easy to avoid or evade that she stopped bothering using both arms to defend herself. Using just her left hand and arm, she pushed aside or blocked a dozen more punches. Her eye fell on Madison, who was standing in the kitchen doorway drinking a cold soda from the fridge; immediately, she felt thirsty herself.

    “I want a soda,” she said.

    “You don’t get a soda until you show me you can throw a proper punch,” gritted Sophia, still attacking her.

    Emma sighed and slipped two blows. Letting a third one glide over her shoulder, she straightened her left arm into a crisp backfist. Sophia’s eyes widened an instant before the knuckles connected with her jaw; Emma felt the impact all the way up to her shoulder. It was a good thing the carpet was soft, because Sophia landed flat out on the floor a moment later.

    Madison wandered over and stood looking down at her. “I think that was good enough,” she decided, and took a drink from her soda. “But she’s gonna be pissed when she comes to.”

    Heading into the kitchen, Emma opened the fridge and got a soda. “She did tell me to show her I could throw a punch.”

    “True.”

    Emma watched Sophia shake her head groggily and sit up. “Hey, Sophia, You okay?”

    Sophia felt her jaw and glared at her. “Shut up.”

    Emma sipped from her soda. “Okay.”


    End of Part Three
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  8. Tentaclecat

    Tentaclecat The Queen of Tentacles and Depravity

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    So Madison basically got Eden's version of Leet Shard. Interesting take, I pity Leet more than usual now.
     
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  9. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    Tinker shard, don't know it's focus just yet.

    I'm wondering about Emma's powers. I wonder where the limits are
     
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  10. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    I could keep you guessing, but I may as well nail it down now.

    Madison: Tinker, specialising in tech that's about twice as bulky as normal but far more durable. When she builds a car, it can pass for a main battle tank. Her main battle tank analogues could beat the crap out of a Bolo. On the downside (sort of) she can't build stuff that's small or discreet. If she built a wristwatch, she'd need two hands to pick it up. It might not keep perfect time, but it would keep working even if she used it to beat Lung into a coma.

    Emma: Her power keeps her body tuned up to the absolute maximum of perfection. She does martial arts and acrobatics (and basically any melee or thrown weapon use) at a conceptual level; whatever the most effective way to do something is, she does it that way. She adapts her current fighting style to whatever she's facing, and her reactions are fast enough to match off against her opponents' moves even before said moves are completed. Basically, it's like she's been trained in every martial art ever, and has the perfect counter to every move that's made against her.
     
  11. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    So, if Emma went up against, say, Velocity, could she keep up? Is her strength massively super human?
    Are we talking the level of, say, Olympic athletes?


    Over all, pretty interesting powersets.


    Now that I'm thinking about it, Sophia's going to have issues. She's not more powerful than her friends, now.

    Not sure how she'd take that.

    And, Emma's been driven by her fear for quite a while. Will that persist, in the face of physical power?


    Interesting indeed.
     
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  12. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    No and no. She can maintain a higher than normal level of reaction speed than normal people (basically, what high-end athletes can maintain briefly, she can keep up indefinitely). She's stronger than normal, but no stronger than the absolute human maximum for someone of her height and build.

    If she was facing Velocity and he wasn't using his powers, she could get the drop on him before he thought to activate them, but once he had them up and running, he could literally run rings around her.

    Olympic athletes wish they could be her.

    In two words? Not well.

    You may notice that she's a lot more chill now.
     
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  13. KarmaFalcon

    KarmaFalcon Getting sticky.

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    So... Sophia just helped create female Uber and Leet then. Intriguing
     
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  14. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Uber and Leet wish they were that good.
     
  15. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Well, this is fairly hilarious. Clearly, those vials were some of the better ones Cauldron has made. Are you aiming for triumvirate-tier powers, or one step below?

    Madison at least is clearly promising a gun that'll get her a Blaster 8 sub-rating the moment she fires it at full power, and that's apparently not the best she can do by a long shot.

    Emma... well, it'll come down to authorial fiat, but she looks to have a combat thinker level of 'Contessa's power prefers to fetch a gun first'
     
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  16. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Contessa would bring a sniper rifle.
     
  17. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    I can see this story going two ways:

    A) They go through with their plan and (try to?) force Taylor into Villainy after giving her a top-tier power
    B) While trying to establish a heroic reputation they realize they're in over their heads and need a bigger team and Emma persuades Sophia that she hasn't quite burned her bridges yet and Taylor could make a valuable fourth member

    edit:
    C) They get caught stealing three cars for Madison (because scrap cars won't do it), branded villains, and the plot goes off the rails
     
  18. Threadmarks: Part Four: Preparations
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Earning Her Stripes

    Part Four: Preparations

    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]



    Three Days Later
    An Abandoned Warehouse
    Emma Barnes


    Madison lowered her goggles and hefted the device she called the Cutter. “Cutting! Stand clear!”

    Emma wasn’t quite sure what principle the thing worked on, except that it ran off of regular building power. About the size and shape of a dust buster, though a lot heavier, it narrowed to a point at the business end. Holding it to metal and pressing the trigger caused a neat cut in the metal. Apart from that, there was no outward sign anything was happening; no sparks, no noise, no heat, nothing. The main reason Emma was careful to stand clear was that there was no way to tell if it was cutting until the cut actually happened.

    “Standing clear,” she replied, ready to assist Madison with wrestling slices of metal bound for the ever-hungry mouth of her furnace. As her friend touched the Cutter to the engine block of the third derelict car they’d found, Emma glanced over toward the furnace, making sure it was still doing what it was supposed to. Raw heat emanated from its open mouth, from the bubbling metal inside. She wasn’t certain how the bits and pieces of the car Madison had constructed the furnace from were able to contain the molten metal, but there it was.

    Getting hold of the cars themselves had been simultaneously the easiest and most strenuous job. Sophia had been able to locate cars that had been stolen and dumped, broken down or just abandoned on the side of the road. Madison’s Tinker abilities let her get them running (or at least rolling) long enough to deliver them to an empty building on the edge of Merchants territory, where they were ready for the next stage.

    After exerting herself all night (and in some cases, pushing cars for several blocks at a time), Emma had crashed for two hours then woken up fresh and ready to go again. Madison had been out for the entire day, and Sophia hadn't woken up until late afternoon.

    On the second night, Madison had constructed the Cutter, then demolished one car to make the furnace. This night, they were feeding bits of the other two cars into it. Sophia hadn’t shown up at all, which made Emma wonder if she was starting to get bored with the whole project. She’d spent the previous evening lecturing Madison on how the Tinkers she’d heard of did stuff, until Madison snapped and yelled at her. Then she’d gone off in a huff, saying that there were muggers out there who hadn’t been beaten up yet.

    I hope she’s still on board with everything. My powers are so awesome; I can’t wait to kick the shit out of Taylor with them.

    Another slice of the engine block dropped free, leaving a smooth mirrored surface, and Madison moved the Cutter away. “Cutter off.”

    “Cool.” Emma moved in and dragged the chunk of steel and whatever else off to the side, to join the other pieces. They were due to go into the furnace to make ready for the second pour, after the first one had been completed.

    “Okay, that’s enough for now.” Madison wiped her forehead with the back of her heavily gloved arm, and carefully set the Cutter down. As an added precaution, she unplugged it from the extension cord. “Time for the first pour.”

    “And this will be the second furnace, right?” Emma thought this was the case, but she wanted to be sure.

    “Yup. This one’ll be made of good steel, and I’ll be able to make more good steel stuff from it without ruining it.”

    “Ruining it?” Emma frowned. “So what we’re doing now is ruining this furnace?”

    “Oh, yeah.” Madison leaned up and tapped a gauge. “One more good pour after this one, and it’ll be ready for retirement. Well, recycling.”

    “So what’s ‘good steel’, anyway?” asked Emma as she followed Madison on an inspection tour of the moulds that had already been laid out.

    “It’s my name for it. Dunno what it’s really called. You’ve got to put just the right materials in at the right moment, and let it stay at a certain heat for a certain time. If you pour just at the right moment, it’ll come out a whole lot stronger and more durable than ordinary steel.” Madison shrugged. “Otherwise, what’s the point?”

    “Makes total sense to me,” Emma agreed, mentally adjusting her definition of the phrase ‘total sense’. “So, what do you want me to do?”

    “Make sure nobody comes in at the wrong time and disrupts the pour,” Madison said, heading back to the furnace. “And stay well back. It’s gonna get real hot in here.”

    “Okay.” Emma ran toward a shipping container that sat nearby in the warehouse. Jumping lightly into the air, she kicked off from one of the door hinges and vaulted on top with an ease that she never would’ve come close to equalling before. As far as she could tell, her eyesight was a bit better than it had been before, but not superhuman; just smoothed out to maximum human capacity. She’d asked Madison about the chances of having night-sight goggles made, and her friend had sketched out a helmet that would’ve weighed about twenty pounds. The design contained built-in goggles capable of emitting a microwave beam capable of frying bugs at ten paces, but Emma decided the weight would be too much. From her sketches, Madison could build a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, ‘miniaturised’ didn’t exist as a descriptor for any of it.

    Another question she’d asked was why Madison hadn’t just used the shipping containers themselves for the furnace. Madison had looked at her as if she’d asked why the sky wasn’t green and explained that shipping containers didn’t have the materials that she needed.

    Moving with a level of precision that Emma had never seen in her friend before she’d gotten her powers, Madison went to the side of the furnace and pulled a lever. As liquid metal spilled white-hot down a channel into the first of the moulds, Emma felt the wave of heat hit her from across the room. What it must be like for Madison, she had no idea. Keeping one eye on the entrances, she watched with a level of fascination as the petite brunette managed the pour, moving levers and adjusting dials as though she’d been training for this all her life. One after another, the moulds filled exactly to the brim with molten ‘good steel’, whatever that really was.

    “What the hell’s going on here?”

    The harsh voice cut into her musings, and she snapped her attention around to the side door about ten yards from the end of the shipping container. They’d closed the door, but there had been no way to lock it; or rather, Madison hadn’t felt like constructing a lock for it right then. Besides, the metal wall beside the door was so rusty and full of holes that a moderately determined kick would smash it in.

    Pulling the bandanna she was wearing up to cover the lower part of her face, Emma moved to get a view of the door. It was now open, and people were now entering. She could tell that there were five of them and, while the lighting in the warehouse was uncertain to say the best, they looked a lot like Merchants to her. Well, crap.

    “The fuck?” The leader of this group, or maybe the least stoned, pointed at where Madison was still working on getting the pour just right. “Someone Tinkering here and not fuckin’ working for us? How the shit is that fair?”

    Emma sighed and jumped down from the shipping container, absorbing the impact with a casual flexing of her knees. “Walk away, boys,” she advised them, doing her best to pitch her voice for maximum intimidation. That was something she was still learning from Sophia, though the black girl had given up on teaching her anything about fighting. “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

    “Shit!” The lead Merchant stopped and pulled a pistol from his waistband. The others brandished pipes or knives. “Cape!”

    “She’s not a fuckin’ cape,” jeered another Merchant. “She’s just a wannabe. If she had powers, we woulda seen ’em by now.”

    “Oh, yeah.” The gang member brought up the pistol but before he could point it at Emma, she was in motion. Dashing forward with a level of explosive acceleration that not even Sophia would’ve been able to match in her best day at track, she closed with the guy before he was properly aware that she was in his face.

    All five began to move, but with a sluggish inevitability that let her plot out her moves more than a second into the future. Her reactions were already fast; with the chance to plan her actions in advance, she was even faster. Lunging forward into a jump just before the pistol would have come into line, she grabbed his wrist with one hand and his pistol with the other. A twist in midair let her wrap one leg around his neck, the unexpected weight sending him stumbling backward as he flailed for balance.

    Digging her thumb into the correct pressure point released the pistol into her hand. As the Merchant began to collapse backward, she threw her newly acquired weapon at the head of gang member number two, who was carrying a pipe. Landing on her feet as gang member number one fell heavily on to his back, she drove her elbow into the jaw of number three. Then she caught the pistol as it rebounded off the head of number two and kicked the falling pipe (also from number two) so that it smacked hard into the jaw of number four; one of the knife guys.

    The second knife guy (and fifth gang member) stood staring, right up until the pistol (Emma really liked its throwing balance) smacked him between the eyes and dropped him to the ground. As part of the throwing motion, Emma spun around and delivered a back kick to the jaw of the first guy, who was just starting to sit up and look around. He promptly slumped to the ground again. With a satisfied hm, she reached up and back, just in time to catch the firearm as it bounced back off the fifth gang member’s skull and into her hand.

    “What’s going on over there?” called out Madison. “Is there a problem?”

    “No, no problem.” Emma sighed in irritation as she looked down at the feebly twitching gang members. “Just a pest control issue. Do we have any zip-ties?”

    A shadowy form came through the wall, then reformed as Sophia in her Shadow Stalker costume, performing a dramatic diving roll. She came to her feet, crossbow out and pointed at the downed gang members. “Don’t move!” she shouted. “I’ve got you … oh.” Walking closer, she stared at the five guys. “Holy shit, uh, girl. Was this all you?”

    “I guess?” Emma said with a shrug. “It wasn’t really challenging. More like solving a kid’s math puzzle, you know? I knew all the answers, I just had to figure out how to make it happen in the shortest possible time.” She frowned as she looked Sophia over. “I have to say, it’s amazingly coincidental, you bursting in just after some Merchants show up here.”

    “I was tracking them,” Sophia said, almost defensively. “I didn’t want to bust them if they weren’t doing anything wrong. Soon as I knew they’d gone in, I came in after them.”

    Really. Emma wondered how much of that was truth, and how much was Sophia trying to grandstand a little within their burgeoning team. Since getting powers of her own, she’d become a lot more cynical about superheroes in general. But it probably wasn’t worth calling Sophia on her bullshit, so she changed the subject by hefting the pistol in her hand. “I’ve never even used one of these things. Should I start? I mean, I don’t want to get crossbows and step all over your shtick.” She remembered the abortive attempt by Sophia to tutor her in using a crossbow. After six bullseyes in a row, including the one where she’d bounced the arrow off the wall to get it into the target just to see if she could, Sophia had declared the whole thing bullshit and refused her access to the crossbow again.

    “No, you shouldn’t.” From the sour tone of Sophia’s voice, she was remembering the same thing. “Heroes carrying guns sends the wrong message, unless you’re Miss Militia, and the PRT gets really antsy. Maybe get one of those big-ass compound bows that look like someone’s construction project. I figure you could do stuff with arrows that would make ’em all swear blind you were carrying around Tinkertech.”

    “Yeah, but then I’d be lumbered with a big fragile bit of gear, or I’d have to get an actual Tinker to make me one that could collapse into a small space.” Madison, she already knew, was not the right person to ask about something like that. A bow capable of taking out a Mack truck with one arrow; sure. One that could also collapse to hang off her hip? Not so much.

    “Pfft, yeah, nope.” Sophia shook her head as she bent over the gang members, zip-tying their limbs together. “I still can’t see why she can’t build one like that for you, though. I mean, if Armsmaster can …”

    “Because she’s not Armsmaster.” Emma wondered if her friend would ever get it. “Her Tinker stuff is always bulky, because it’s too tough to … waiiiit a minute.” The epiphany that broke across her mind almost blinded her. “Hey, M, could you build a bow that I could also use as a melee weapon?”

    Madison looked around at the shouted query. “A bow? I guess. But it wouldn’t be a very good one. Not if you also wanted to hit people with it. Why?”

    Emma waved the pistol. “Because ranged weapons would be a good idea? I’m currently limited to what I can punch and what I can throw.”

    “Huh.” Madison seemed to think about that. “Can you throw stuff that can bounce back to you? If I made it so it wouldn’t break?”

    “Sure.” Emma tossed up the pistol and caught it again. “Why?”

    Madison’s grin gleamed in the dying glow of molten metal. “Let me get back to you on that.”


    End of Part Four
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2022
  19. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Cheshirek4t and Ack like this.
  20. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Though if I was Emma I'd still want a (hidden) hold-out weapon with an inscription that reads something like 'in case of Lung'.

    Something that'll put even a tough Brute or Changer down hard if need be.
     
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  21. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Nice.

    Emma would catch it and throw it at the floor for a groin hit. :p

    That's called "Madison's Power Armour". :p
     
  22. Automatonation

    Automatonation Not too sore, are you?

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    So Emma is Marvel/DC peak human, huh. Neat idea.

    I do find it interesting that Sophia seems to feel utterly out-classed and irrelevant in the face of her friend's new powers. Emma is better at physical stuff than she could ever be, and makes it look effortless, and Madison is so outside her frame of reference it's ridiculous. Sophia isn't much of a thinker, definitely not a Thinker, and Madison seems to have a brain beyond the tinkering.

    I'm also interested to see how Emma's new body-reading ability will react to Taylor. She already seems to be seeing through Sophia's particular brand of bullshit.
     
  23. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    She's just more cynical, plus she's less emotionally dependent on Sophia now.
     
  24. Cailin

    Cailin Our Lady of Escalation

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    Is this a side effect of her powers making difficult things "easy" for her now?
     
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  25. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    More than a little, yes.

    Also, she's less terrified of the world as a whole.
     
  26. nobody3702

    nobody3702 Making the rounds.

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    So Madison is basicly anti-Armsmaster. Instead of making small and efficient stuff, she makes stuff that is oversized, requiers a lot of energy, but is extremly powerful.
     
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  27. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Basically, yes.

    And very, very durable.

    Her tech doesn't have any hidden weak points. It just keeps working until it's literally disassembled.
     
  28. nobody3702

    nobody3702 Making the rounds.

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    Or until an ustoppable force hammers throught it.
     
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  29. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Which is one way to disassemble it :p
     
  30. BengelHa

    BengelHa Know what you're doing yet?

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    So Sophia ended up with Captain Em-merica and a hulkbuster tinker. Now I'm wondering if she's going to burn them badly enough that they recruit Taylor instead.
     
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