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Fourth [Worm Altpower!Taylor]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by TCGM, Feb 3, 2018.

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  1. Jorin

    Jorin Mostly A Lurker

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    I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!^_^
     
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  2. TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    Creative interpretation seems to be underselling it :p

    I have a new one for my to-read list.

    The slight grammar error was intended. Even in her head, when Sophia is flat out admitting she's lost, she can't truly believe herself to have done so. Thus the odd phrasing.

    There's one or two Sensor!Emma fics out there. They tend to be... interesting.

    It wasn't one of mine, no. Sorry.

    Or did I? :D

    That part is from Armsmaster's perspective. This is a character flaw for him, even from canon, that he cannot take anyone else teenagers seriously.

    Hah, like Alexandria would apologize twice in view of extra-existential observers!

    Not a typo. I'm from California.

    Troll Bird is best bird!

    Probably the bit where she thinks bullying her sister is the path to making her sister better.

    Oh, that part wasn't cray cray. It occurred. Whether the vision was Annette? ;)

    If she is, indeed, Annette.

    Ah yes, that's one of them. Thanks for reminding me of Queen Dragon!

    Thank you! Welcome to the crackship. I try to write in something I internally call Pseudo-Crack. This has aspects of Crack and Complete Bullshit, but in a logical world that still makes sense.

    Taylor deserves to be this OP in a canon way, you know? When she's this broken in other fics it is usually due to a crossover of some kind.

    Annette's, Eden's, and <REDACTED>'s backstories and stories are the best parts from my perspective. I get to release bits and pieces, watch you readers discuss and theorize, and it feeds me.

    I hope to be able to continue entertaining you with what comes next!

    AND I LOVE YOU, RANDOM READER!
     
  3. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra Not too sore, are you?

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    Well, I suppose it could have been Ziz in a clever Annette disguise, arranging for herself to be freed from Eidolon's control far in advance.
     
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  4. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Thanks for the reply. Still annoyed that I cannot remember it, but the one I was referring to I believe was a Kerrigan Taylor one. Its part 1 ended, no clue if/when part 2 comes out. Now that I am thinking about it, I am becoming more convinced that it is right. The exact name still escapes me though -_-
     
  5. Slider Zero

    Slider Zero Getting some practice in, huh?

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    Umm...yeah. watched HARD.

    Seriously though, this shit is downright hillarious. Loved seeing the reactions of everyone as they realized just how fucked they were :p
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 7 - The Only Things We Have To Fear
    TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    Fourth
    Chapter 7
    The Only Things We Have To Fear

    They never show the superhero battle cleanup on TV.

    I used to wonder why. Given some of the damage I've seen done, you'd think that the powers needed to fix it would be a good show all on their own.

    Now I know better.

    I have something like a hundred separate sources of powers available to me, to say nothing of how many possible powers I can theoretically wring out of them, and it's boring as shit.

    Due to the resolution needed to accurately return everything to the way it was before Contessa's little stunt with the Ash Beast, I had to reconstruct each building.

    One at a time.

    As fascinating as watching reality boil and matter bubble into existence is… it gets mind numbing after more than a hundred instances of doing the same thing over and over.

    I didn't even know the Boardwalk had this many buildings!

    And Armsmaster really wasn't making this any easier. He walked along, or should I say clunked along, besides me while I bent the fabric of space and time over my knee. His ‘help’ came in the form of double checking my work to make sure it was up to code. In his opinion that helped me, because otherwise the PRT would make me do it again correctly.

    Armsmaster is one dense Tinker.

    So is his Shard, by the way. Much like Sarah and Inference Engine, Colin Wallis and Efficiency are two peas in a pod.

    As evidence to this statement, I present the fact they both believed that the PRT could make me do anything, ever, at all.

    I rolled my eyes at another meaningless building code in the endless stream he was bombarding me with. It was like he thought that not only was I irresponsible, but by pure point of fact of him being far too responsible in my presence that it would rub off on me. Or something.

    ...That made way too much sense to just be an idle notion.

    I poked Path to Victory.

    Yep. Unapologetic grin again.

    You know it’s getting bad when the pieces of you can think for themselves. Especially when those pieces are capable of manipulating reality around you-

    Oh.

    Heh.

    I was still going about this as a human would.

    And while I did need and require of myself that I would remain human in morality and thinking, that didn’t mean I couldn’t use my already vast array of superpowers to my advantage.

    And so I poked Path to Victory again. Dad said that it was the Shard that helped him learn to be an Entity. That it was an I Win button, essentially.

    So… [Path to Victory: How do I repair the Boardwalk quickly and correctly?]

    [DATA]

    …..

    That is such bullshit.

    Path to Victory had just handed me the detailed specs for every single building, hell, every single biological organism inside the buildings from the very millisecond before Ash Beast arrived.

    It was entirely amused at my surprise, too. As if this wasn't remotely close to the maximum of its capabilities.

    A pleased grin alongside a piece of information hit me.

    [DATA!]

    …..I internally increased my estimation of the bullshit levels Path to Victory was capable of.

    Sixteen steps to rule the world? Was it serious?

    [DATA]

    Steps to finding out if it was serious: one, say Yes.

    Right.

    Well.

    I Win Shard indeed.

    Fucking hell. No wonder it helped my dad get a handle on his new existence.

    And Contessa had a barely limited version of this? How didn't Cauldron already rule the world?!

    [DATA]

    …..They did, in fact. Shadow rule. Oh great. Fantastic.

    Well at least I didn't need to worry about them, as the number of steps to get rid of said shadow rule and replace it with my own wasn't even in the double digits.

    As for actually doing it? Well, I didn't know what a snake and a fox had to do with it, but I wasn't really interested in glassing things from orbit anyways.

    ...Maybe later, if Cauldron doesn't shape up?

    Anyways, if my Matter Manipulator and Shaper Shards worked together, and I fed the data Path to Victory gave me into them, they could return the Boardwalk to its undestroyed glory with a mere snap of my fingers. People (with their memories!), animals, and even bacteria included.

    If I chose to make any motion accompany the action at all.

    Holy. Fucking. Shit.

    I mean, intellectually I knew just how powerful I’d become. My new biological species was ludicrous. We were capable of reaching within a percentage of the speed of light for crying out loud, and that was without any form of FTL. Or reaching across realities as easily as normal humans snapped their fingers, and manipulating the structure of subatomic particles while doing so. Given enough time it was likely we could actually build stars.

    Nevermind that the examples of my new race never had done any of these things, they were still possible.

    It might seem unreal for me to continue being shocked by my new existence, but it was just starting to sink in. It’d only been, what, less than a day since I’d woken up.

    I was allowed some mental leeway.

    “-ire Code SAF-6015.2 requires that you replace the automatic fire warning devices in any multi-unit dwellings, including, but not limited to, nursing homes, rooming houses, dormitories, residential board and care facilities, hotels, motels, apartment buildings, buildings containing condominium units or rental units. You also have to ensure that the devices are powered by the building's electrical serv-”

    Oh my gods. Armsmaster was still droning on and on. I couldn't take it anymore!

    “ENOUGH!” I yelled, stomping my foot.

    I will forever deny how much enjoyment I got out of the at least full foot Armsmaster managed to jump.

    “Armsmaster, if I put the entire Boardwalk back together correctly, will you please shut up?” I asked, planting my hands on my hips.

    He stopped walking, turned around, and came to a stop right in front of me.

    Shit, he's tall.

    I was a tall girl, but I wasn't as tall as Armsmaster, much less in power armor.

    And I totally didn't subconsciously hover into the air a little to make up for the height difference.

    Nope.

    But the non action I didn't do brought me nose to visor with him.

    We stared at each other for an entire, long minute. My hands were starting to get fidgety when he finally spoke.

    “Five minutes, sixteen point seven seconds,” he informed me.

    ...What?

    “What?” I asked out loud, cocking my head to the side.

    What was visible of his face morphed into a wry smirk. “That is how long you managed to go while listening to me recite the New Hampshire Fire Building Codes. Congratulations. You beat Miss Militia by about a minute.”

    I stared at him more. Did he just…

    My shocked expression didn't seem to faze him. “You can consider this payback for the underwear comment if you prefer.”

    He fucking did.

    Armsmaster wasn't supposed to know what a sense of humor was, much less possess one.

    Yet, then and there on the still mostly destroyed Boardwalk, he broke my expectations and revealed his.

    Very well. If he wanted to play, I'd happily oblige him.

    I narrowed my eyes at him and moved close enough that my breath started misting on his visor. “You know,” I solemnly intoned, automatically reaching up to adjust my glass-

    Oh, right. I didn't have glasses anymore. Didn't need them.

    Regardless, I continued with the gesture as if I didn't care. Had to get started on displaying my knowledge of the absolute hippest memes, after all. “-this means war.”

    Armsmaster tensed up, rapidly stepping back to get a bit of space between us.

    What the hell? Why did he react like that?

    I cocked my head to the other side, raised my eyebrows, and went over what it might look like from his perspective.

    Ah. Right. Woooops.

    New controller of the Endbringers threatens you with war. No matter how much of a meme reference it was… yeah, whoops.

    “A prank war,” I clarified, chuckling a little.

    At that the tension seemed to bleed away from him. “Ah,” he said, almost sounding like he wasn't relieved and coming down from a fight or flight response. It was a good attempt, but bite me Armsy, I'm an Entity. “That is much better than I believed.”

    Well. Can't have him getting too comfy.

    I grinned at him and snapped my fingers. “We'll see,” I sing songed, making sure to hit exactly the right frequencies that would make him twitch.

    The Boardwalk was a destroyed wreck with a few buildings repaired one second… and then the rest of the buildings began flowing into existence, their materials coming out of nowhere like thousands of streams of water.

    I was dissolving a tiny asteroid to pull this off, but what the hell, it's not like I had a shortage of those in my Shards’ reality. Something like several hundred billion of that size or larger in the Asteroid Belt alone.

    And as I had just declared a Prank War upon the now twitching Armsmaster, I added a building. It was far down the Boardwalk and one of the first I built in this massive wave, but unlike the other buildings it didn't house something that was here originally.

    No, that was Protectorate's Secret. I'd made the most heavily suggestive lingerie store on the Eastern Seaboard, created several lines of sexy underwear (or notwear!) for each Brockton Bay Protectorate member, and threw them all into a tiny mockup of the Rig.

    With Armsmaster's ‘Mark II - Lady Function Killer’ panties front and center.

    I didn't stop grinning as Armsmaster looked around in shock. He probably didn't see the Secret store, as I hid it down an alley, but he'd find it eventually.

    “Your move, Armsy.”







    “Soooo…,” Assault said, sidling up to the winged teenager. “Ziz, right?”

    Ziz nodded and turned her visual attention from watching Taylor and Armsmaster bicker to the host approaching her. “Ethan,” she greeted him. Not coldly, but not warmly either.

    The revealed parahuman chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, I guess it'd make sense that you know who I am,” he lamented sheepishly.

    “If you believe us, and don't assume Legend has been compromised,” Ziz replied easily.

    Ethan opened his mouth to refute her statement, thought better of it, and went silent.

    “Yeah. I know,” she continued nonchalantly. “I know you're on the fence. I know your wife isn't, and I also know why.” Ziz nodded her head backwards in the direction of Battery.

    Ethan tried to look surprised, he really did, but something about her just told him to expect stuff like this. Knowing things.

    It might be that she was adamant that she was the Winged Endbringer, but he wasn't sure.

    “Ask her sometime about that favor she owed Legend. Don't be surprised when what you learn shocks you. Because it will,” she assured him. “You are very good at taking and rolling with punches, but the truth of what's really going on? That might be enough to put a cap on the madness you can handle.”

    She said all this in a perfectly sweet and innocent tone of voice, an annoyingly perfect and innocent smile on her face to match it.

    Ethan narrowed his eyes at her and pursed his lips. His suspicious expression was clearly intended to be mocking. “Well played," he eventually accepted, nodding. "Don't think I've heard that one before.”

    If it was possible, which it apparently was, Ziz looked even more innocent for a few moments. “I pride myself on being original," she deadpanned back, words at odds with her still innocent tone.

    The two of them held their tones and expressions for a good ten seconds… then broke down laughing.

    Ziz's laugh sounded like the tinkling of bells crossed with a young teen's voice, if that voice was the voice of an angelic starlet. It had echoes of the Scream she used to use, but only a few good parts. Said parts Ethan had just discovered the existence of in his memories, and only by comparison, true, but they did exist.

    His laugh was pretty standard. Or as his wife called it, demented cackling.

    Ethan was barely aware of several of his teammates around them observing the winged Endbringer in girl form and him cracking up with the usual exasperation they reserved for him.

    Damn, she was good. Get him and her laughing at the same time, demonstrate humanity. The fact she winked at him in the middle of her laughter when he figured it out just solidified his opinion of how crafty she could still be.

    A few moments later their laughter started to taper off, into chuckles for him and giggles for Ziz. Perfectly matched tapering, he noticed. She wasn't going to stop before him.

    So he let it naturally decay, an easy silence falling over both of them.

    “I hate to ruin this thing," he started to say, gesturing between them, “that we've got going on, but I gotta ask; why?"

    Ziz's happiness fled like a boat before a storm. “You mean why did we attack?" she asked, sadly.

    Ethan was taken aback. However, he'd picked the topic, brought it up, and now he needed to know. “Uh, yeah," he offered, lamely.

    Ziz closed her eyes and sighed. “Well, you deserve to know," she declared. When she opened her eyes again and locked them on Ethan, her irises were glowing an ethereal white.

    He gulped.

    “We were Mastered," Ziz began. “Totally, entirely. Well, not technically entirely for me. I had a bit of breathing room due to my precognition, but that didn't matter, because I was Mastered. I couldn't do anything I would want to now. More to the point, I didn't want to then.”

    Ethan raised his eyebrows. "Mastered… how?" he asked, frowning. “I don't think I've ever heard of something that would change your actual wants. Heartbreaker is the worst in the world, and even he just affects emotions.”

    Ziz cracked a sad grin. “Heartbreaker," she said, scoffing. “Vasil wishes he had the power to affect anyone like we were.”

    Ethan settled back on his heels, gesturing with his hand for her to continue her obviously incoming explanation.

    Ziz nodded, then smiled at him, presumably to show she wasn't mad at him. “Think of the worst Master effect you can... then multiply it by a hundred, a thousand times,” she began.

    Ethan blinked. “That sounds… bad.”

    Ziz chuckled darkly and shook her head. “Ethan, it's not just an ability to command us. Taylor literally defines major aspects of our very beings. As did our old Master. We were destroyers, engines of death and pain, because that is the shape we were forced into by them." She nodded at Taylor, and grinned happily. “Just as I'm now almost human. Think like one, feel like one. Even the urge to be a hero comes from her.”

    “Huh.” Ethan looked like he was actually thinking it through. “That's… I'm sorry?”

    Ziz's happy grin cracked slightly, the corner of her lips threatening to start trembling. “Thanks. I'm not really sad about it, though. In many ways the only things I share with my past self are the powers, the memories, and a couple of personality traits not deemed unsuitable for my new role.”

    “...So, you're… a different person?” Ethan summarized questioningly. "Not that I'm complaining, I like non hostile Endbringers, but doesn't that bother you?”

    Ziz's full grin returned, aimed at him. “Engine of Destruction telling you that I'm a different person over here, and you actually care about my feelings,” she lamented, chuckling. “Only you, Ethan, only you."

    The costumed kinetic manipulator smiled and shrugged. “What can I say? I've been told I'm a good guy like that,” he faux humbly stated. "Just don't tell my wife."

    Ziz chuckled. “Indeed,” she agreed, rolling her eyes. “To answer your question: my past self would find my current state distasteful, much less my new directive. I, however, am happy with both, and not only because the guilt I harbor from my past self's actions is beyond human capability to understand.”

    Ethan blinked. “Huh. I… guess I get it. But, uh, why are you telling me all this?”

    Ziz smiled at him, and he felt as if he was a child once more. “I'm heroic now, Ethan, not dumb. I know your superiors are going to want psych profiles on us. I figured I'd head them off at the pass,” she explained succinctly. “The fact that their faces when they learn that you are the one they have to get those profiles from will be amazing is just a bonus.”

    Ethan hesitated for a few moments as he processed that, then he cracked a grin too. “Yeah, I'd think so.” Then his eyes widened slightly and he took a small step back from her. “Ummm… that sounds a little… Plan-y, Ziz.”

    Ziz snorted and rolled her eyes, slightly shaking her feathers for effect. “I am partially The Simurgh, Ethan. Planning is kinda my thing. Long, convoluted, and hidden plans are one of my core personality traits and were not detrimental to being heroic, so they weren't discarded” she explained. “I just use it for heroic things and saving people now.”

    Ethan took another moment to process that, then smirked. “And trolling,” he added.

    Ziz abruptly looked away and… winked, at Miss Militia. When she turned back to him, she acted as if she hadn’t done anything, even over his suspicious glare. Instead, she grinned conspiratorially. “Well, of course!” she agreed. “I've been doing that since day one!”

    Ethan raised his eyebrows. “Really?” he asked. “I mean, what exactly could you do? Weren't you always either fighting us, or in orbit?”

    Ziz nodded. “Yes, but that by no means denied me the ability to mess with the human race.”

    Ethan looked unimpressed. “Really.

    “Yup. For one, I gave Dragon and all the Thinkers trying to predict my actions daily conniption fits, so that was nice,” Ziz revealed.

    Ethan chuckled despite himself. “And… for two?” he asked, in the tone of one who knows they've come too far but wants to see the end.

    Ziz's smirk was legendary. “Winged_One on PHO.”

    Ethan looked at her oddly. “What?”

    “I post on PHO, and my username is Winged_One,” she elaborated.

    “You what.

    “Yup.”

    Ethan's jaw dropped.







    Dauntless stared up at the towering pillar of muscles standing next to him.

    “So you're Behemoth," the hero eventually managed to ask.

    The man who was… is? An Endbringer solemnly inclined his head. “I was."

    Was.

    Sure.

    Dauntless looked him up and down, noting once more the unholy levels of musculature badly hidden beneath an ill fitting massive T-Shirt.

    Was. Yeah, right. And I'm a Roman centurion displaced in time, Dauntless deadpanned to himself.

    The man watched him, amusement clear on his face due to the slight grin and the crinkling of the skin around his glowing orange eyes.

    Oh no.

    “You do it too," Dauntless almost groaned.

    A solitary eyebrow was raised by the man. “What do I do?" he asked, genuinely.

    Dauntless sighed, then pointed over to where Miss Militia was having her own talk with, if these people, common sense, and Legend were to be believed, Leviathan's human form. “Miss Militia does the eye crinkling thing too," he offered as explanation.

    The man's second eyebrow joined his first, then he glanced over at Dauntless’ teammate momentarily. “Ah," he said, nodding. “I see. The wielder of Weapons Sentinel shares many commonalities with myself. It is not surprising.”

    Weapons Sentinel? What? Dauntless was confused… and surprised. “You do?" he asked, unable to keep his surprise from his voice. “I mean, she does?"

    The man- no, Behemoth, Dauntless was convinced by that weird phrasing if nothing else, turned his burning gaze back on the hero. He held Dauntless’ eyes in his own for a few worrying seconds. Finally, he nodded, and spoke.

    “We were both unwilling child soldiers in a war not our own,” he succinctly informed the hero.

    Dauntless was stunned. “...Oh," he finally managed to squeak.







    Miss Militia was experiencing that feeling known as complete and total disbelieving, dumbfounded amusement.

    This was because she was talking with the now human form of Leviathan, and he sounded and acted more like a member of the Wards she mentored than an island and city destroyer.

    An ice cream addicted, and mourning, teenager.

    "There there," Miss Militia patted him on the t-shirt covered back. "We have ice cream at the PRT HQ. That's where we're going after this, so I can get you some."

    Leviathan's face lit up like a kid at Christmas. "Really?!" he excitedly asked, literally jumping for joy.

    Miss Militia struggled to keep her hand on his back and her smile carefully measured to show kindness, instead of allowing the severe levels of, as Clockblocker would say, 'WTF is going on' she was experiencing to show up.

    “I’ll make you a water gun if you get me ice cream, like you said!” Leviathan cheerily said, closing his eyes and grinning ear to ear. He even held out a closed fist and pointed his thumb up, other hand on his hip.

    Her eyes crinkled at the edges, and Miss Militia found herself no longer having to struggle to smile at all. “Sure, what kind of ice cream do you want?” she asked. “Just so I can radio ahead and make sure they have it.”

    “Mint Chocolate Chip!” the vaguely middle eastern teenager announced proudly.

    Miss Militia nodded, smiling ear to ear as well. His mood was infectious. If he was ever the Kyushu Killer, he certainly wasn't anymore. “Sure, just let me call?” she asked, pointing to her earbud.

    He nodded eagerly, the far too cute action mirrored in the water shadow he still hadn’t turned off.

    At their size it was less terrifying, and more adorable how it copied his actions.

    The woman in fatigues found herself thinking one, traitorous thought. I want one. She then realized her thoughts, not helped by a surreptitious and teasing wink from The Si… from Ziz, as she’d said her name was, over by Assault.

    Miss Militia turned away from Leviathan as she blushed red. “I just need to transmit codes that say we’re okay, alright?” she asked the teenager, trying not to stutter.

    “Yep!”

    And unknown to the woman who was like a second mother to the Brockton Bay wards, as she initiated a direct call to the PRT HQ’s kitchens, two proto-sapients in another reality were relayed her thoughtful request from the much smaller form of the Troll Bird.

    Without their greater whole's knowledge.

    No, Miss Militia was far too focused on her sudden realization that Leviathan had offered to make her a water gun.







    Armsmaster managed to regain his composure remarkably quickly.

    “Your display of power is impressive,” he steadily admitted. “But that will not stop the rule of law from at least attempting to corral you.”

    Funny, it almost sounded like he was… warning, instead of outright commanding me.

    I nodded knowingly. “I already guessed that might happen.” I held up a hand and flicked my wrist. Legend’s Shard was fed power from my new Zero Point Reactor Shard, then directed into the space around it.

    A tiny fusion reaction burst into existence, my hand entirely embedded in it.

    Armsy must’ve been getting used to my tricks, because he only barely flinched.

    “They are welcome to try,” I stated flatly. I locked my gaze upon where his eyes were. Past his visor, it being exactly zero help to protect his identity from me. “You are welcome to try.”

    He grimaced and completed my sentence for me. “It would not end well.”

    I nodded and allowed the fusion reaction to dissipate. “To put it mildly,” I informed him, deadpan. “At the very least, I have five non-sandbagging Endbringers… or as I now call them, Friendbringers, under my control.”

    Armsmaster’s eyebrow raised at my name for them. I simply rolled my eyes.

    “And, as logic dictates, it should stand to reason that anything that can make Endbringers is much more powerful than them,” I continued. “The difference isn’t just slight, either. You know how you parahumans get your powers?”

    “The Corona Pollentia and Gemma-” he began to answer, almost automatically.

    “-are output and input nodes, respectively, for symbiotic biocrystal computation platforms lying on or in orbit of other Earths,” I interrupted him. “Shards. Each Shard is usually linked with one human. Severely limited in their scope, they provide their unique ability to the ‘parahuman’ in exchange for usage data.”

    Armsmaster just stared at me, gobsmacked. His Shard, Efficiency, was slightly panicking at me blowing the secret on its true nature, but I merely instructed it that the particular ruleset governing their true nature was now defunct.

    It stopped worrying after that.

    “Those Shards, when linked together, can form a cohesive, usually sapient being,” I continued even more. “I am one of those such beings. My dad is another. Scion is yet one more.”

    His gulp was audible from the Mayor’s Office, I’m sure.

    “We are Entities. We are the source of powers.” I hovered slightly higher into the air and lowered my face until I was almost touching his visor. “Now, do you think your world could fight Scion, much less all three of us?”

    Armsmaster shook his head rapidly.

    I didn’t really know why I was telling him all this. It put my plan in jeopardy; Scion was more likely than not to notice me now. I would’ve been surprised that he hadn’t shown up already, but my senses showed his oblivious avatar perfectly at home saving an entire cattery which was on fire.

    One cat at a time.

    Gods, he couldn't even hero correctly.

    As for why I was spilling the beans? I guess it was because Armsmaster was one of my heroes. And after the sting of Scion's, then Alexandria’s, betrayals of the concept of a Hero… I must’ve been clinging to the first one next on my list.

    I didn’t have his branded panties for no reason, after all.

    I nodded. “Good. Then we won’t have to.” I righted myself and smiled kindly. “For reference, I’m the helpful one. My dad is… well, he married my mom, she died, and he’s been kinda depressed,” I lamented sadly. “Plus he was trying to protect me from the Golden Idiot until I ascended. I’ve now done so, and thus, I am trying to clean up the messes that were made of our world.” I gestured to my Friendbringers, smiling even wider. “They’re just the first.”

    Armsmaster just looked at me, stunned silent. His jaw was visibly dropped.

    “I’m sure there will be a time when I’ll be more willing to answer some of your questions, but I just wanted an ice cream. Until my dad remembers to bring the people of the Boardwalk back, I can’t get it here,” I mused. Only a few more seconds lasted for my decision to finalize itself. Then I stood straight up, grinned a lot like Sarah would’ve, if my data from her Shard was accurate, and said a line I’d always wished I could say.

    “So….. Take me to your leader.”

    Ziz’s abrupt whoop of nerdy joy did nothing to help my composure.







    The ride to the PRT HQ Building was filled with conversation and yet also not.

    Ziz and Assault seemed to have hit it off. My winged Friendbringer was taking the Hearts and Minds idea I was sort of rallying my actions with the Protectorate around and running with it. To me it was obvious that she was trying incredibly hard to look like just another cape, another human. Laughing, giggling, telling jokes and getting Assault to laugh in turn.

    I got an almost idle affirmative feeling from her over our link at the direction my thoughts had taken. She didn't look at me though, too 'engrossed' in talking with Assault.

    Ben and Levi were doing their best, but neither had the manipulation skills of Ziz. In that aspect I supposed it was better, because any manipulation they tried to do would clearly fail and so they didn't even try. They came across as genuine that way.

    Levi probably looked like just another Ward to the cape who'd taken to him. Miss Militia. I'd say I was jealous, but honestly I was still processing just who I was sitting across from.

    As awesome as Miss Militia was, I was sitting across from Armsmaster.

    As an equal, at the least.

    The fangirling was real even if I was offloading it into a threaded environment so I didn't totally ruin the image I'd worked on this entire time with Ziz.

    Ben didn't exactly have anyone gravitate towards him. He engaged in short conversations and answered questions from anyone who addressed him, but he seemed content to just observe. And be the intimidating tower of muscly goodness that his body had taken the form of, of course.

    Emma had no such issues. She was in full chatterbox mode, just like her original had been when we were kids. Poor Khonsou was dragged straight into her shenanigans as she teased every person in the vehicle and talked about a million miles an hour.

    It was amusing to me that the most powerful person in the van besides myself checked nearly every box on the blonde ditz list… besides the blonde or the lackluster intelligence anyways.

    She was probably smarter than me, just because she was actually willing to use my Shards to their full potential with regularity. Emma seemed remarkably unworried about losing her humanity. I felt the unseen hands of her access across at least thirty of my Shards at all times. That was up from the ten or so she was mainlining when we'd left to get ice cream.

    Then there was Armsmaster… and me. I'd unloaded a lot on him, that much was obvious, because he just sat across from me and watched me like I was a total enigma. The entire first fifteen minutes of travel time he was just silent. Processing, I assumed.

    He finally spoke once we were closer rather than farther from the PRT Headquarters. He felt safer, subconsciously, the closer we got, my copy of Sarah's Inference Engine informed me.

    "Was it true?" he asked.

    I blinked and focused back on reality. "Uh," I stammered, "was what true?"

    He visibly swallowed, his chin betraying what his armor covered throat couldn't. "What you said. About… Parahuman powers. And…" he trailed off, looking pained. "And you."

    Ah. I closed my eyes and nodded to emphasize my conviction. "Yeah. Every word."

    Just like every single thing I'd said to him so far, the lie detector program in his HUD system once again flashed TRUTH at my words.

    Armsmaster let out a pained breath as he seemed to deflate against the surprisingly comfortable wall seat across from mine. "Oh."

    He didn’t say anything for another few minutes, the van drawing ever closer to the PRT HQ.

    “Thank you,” he suddenly said.

    I jumped a little in my seat at the unexpected gratitude. Adjusting my glasses -oh, wait, I don’t wear them anymore, still gonna have to get used to that- I coughed lightly and blinked at him. “What?”

    Armsmaster shuffled around in his seat a bit, clearly uncomfortable. Not that I was any more comfortable with this than he was, I hadn’t been thanked in over two years. “Thank you,” he repeated.

    “What for?” I asked, tilting my head to the side.

    “What for?” he parroted me, tone one of disbelief. He looked over to my Friendbringers, then back to me, and grimaced. “If your story pans out and it turns out you are indeed who… and what, you say you are, and they are who and what they say they are…” he scoffed and shook his head, looking down at the floor. Finally he met my eyes again, his visor the only thing preventing me from seeing those light brown orbs with my normal vision. “I admit the evidence is beginning to stack up. As insane as you sound, the Simurgh is gone from orbit-”

    “Of course I am, how did you think I was sitting in this van with you?” Ziz interjected. More than a few of the other parahumans couldn't keep themselves from snorting at the very least.

    Armsmaster continued on as if he hadn’t even heard her. “-and Dragon can’t find the normal signs of either Leviathan or Behemoth’s presence. So given the likelihood of your… ludicrous story being true is rising, and the potential shitstorm that is about to descend on all of us due to it, I wanted to thank you while I still can,” he finished explaining, squaring his shoulders. “Thank you, Taylor. For doing what your apparent peers failed to.”

    I didn’t have tears in my eyes and anyone who says otherwise is a lying liar winged bird girl. “T-Thanks, Armsmaster,” I sniffed.

    The man in blue armor across from me nodded definitively, then fell silent for the rest of the ride.

    I hadn’t felt that happy in a long, long time.

    Also, a side note for the Internet. Armsmaster not only had a sense of humor, he apparently must have been a damn good speechwriter.
     
  7. Archimand

    Archimand Know what you're doing yet?

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    O shit a Socialmaster, those are my favorite.
     
  8. TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    Yeahyeah. Check out the SV thread for a description of who this Armsmaster really is!

    Because nobody really replies to SFW QQ stories in double digit numbers, apparently
     
  9. JammyASDFG

    JammyASDFG Getting some practice in, huh?

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    I am guessing that piggot is going to be 'accidentally' healed at some point during this meeting, then she is just going to have to be annoyed, because trying to set the law on Taylor is going to work about as well as a toddler trying to gound Andre the giant.
     
  10. Flutters Is Shy

    Flutters Is Shy Friend of the Rage

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    We shall make it a reality!!!
     
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  11. TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    The entire next chapter and an entire scene are already done so I'm sitting here knowing exactly what happens with Piggot and this amuses me ;)

    That'd be really nice! Likes and whatnot are good indicators of who's read my stuff but if I'm being honest it's talking with you lot that keeps me writing.
     
  12. Flutters Is Shy

    Flutters Is Shy Friend of the Rage

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    I know that feeling wholeheartedly. It's absolutely heart rending to write up a 3k chapter and only have a couple of people even reply. Like, I guess that's the bare number of people who even liked what I wrote? Completely demoralizing.
     
    TCGM likes this.
  13. jo demon

    jo demon Undertale, Yay

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    I had to reread the story because I forgot what it was about.
     
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  14. deathgeonous

    deathgeonous Making the rounds.

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    This is not dead. You do not know how happy typing those semi mean words makes me. I have really missed this crazy crack comedy. I am now awaiting more trolling entities.
     
  15. SlickRCBD

    SlickRCBD Making the rounds.

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    Good: The story is not dead.
    Still, I'm kind of disappointed by the minor timeskip. I was looking forward to seeing what happened after Sophia shot Taylor with the crossbow in front of Aegis.
    The fallout sounded fun...For the Heberts.
    Instead we jump to Taylor and Armsmaster cleaning up the damage to the boardwalk with no transition. I feel like I missed a scene or two.
     
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  16. TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    hugs

    Sorry for the long wait, I didn't notice that almost a year had gone by until I went to post the chapter on SV.

    \o/

    It technically never was dead, this whole time I've been stuck on a scene which refused to be written. I destroyed that scene and entirely replaced it and lo and behold, my muse had stuff for me. Annndd... I may have only thought it's been 4 months this whole time? Eheh...

    Turns out that accidentally pushing a character OOC gives me total writer's block for the scene!

    Nope, not dead! I'm slow, not someone who abandons stories. Yes, even those two older ones on my FFN profile. Even those have content waiting for the chronological progress in the middle.

    You missed a scene because it hasn't happened yet. The Sophia interlude syncs up at the end of the next chapter.
     
  17. Flutters Is Shy

    Flutters Is Shy Friend of the Rage

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    *Hugs in response*
    well, I'll keep commenting so you have at least one more post to look forward to...
     
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  18. Slider Zero

    Slider Zero Getting some practice in, huh?

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    *Minding my own business*
    Hmm? An alert? What for...

    Wat
    WHAT.

    HOLY FUCK IT LIVES!!!!IT LIVES!!!!!!!!

    seriously though, glad this is back. Seems all the Entity!Taylor stories died and/or went nowhere, so it's nice to see one come surging back to life. Plus, I love me thE SHEER CRACK!
     
  19. Jorin

    Jorin Mostly A Lurker

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    Look forward to more of this in the future.:)
     
  20. SlickRCBD

    SlickRCBD Making the rounds.

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    Might I suggest that when you finally get around to posting that in six months to a year, you change the threadmarks to put the Sophia interlude after said chapter to avoid confusion?
     
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  21. TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    Yay!

    Indeed! I can't say this enough but I had no idea it'd been as long as it was.

    Crack is best crack. No, that doesn't make sense, welcome to crack.

    \o/

    Heeeeyyyy! It won't be... that long! I swear! :p

    I organized these in this way on purpose. Sophia's interlude gives less info than Taylor's perspective will, thus, Taylor's part needs to come after.
     
  22. Extras: 2019 XMas Crossover Special P1
    TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    The Fourth Ancient Shipping XMas Special
    Part 1
    This Is Actually, Really The First One

    “You gonna fight us?” I directly asked Armsmaster five seconds before he'd work up the nerve to ask me the same thing, grinning wide. “Because I don't think I can take the person whose logo is on my underwear seriously.”

    Dead.

    Fucking.

    Silence.

    Armsmaster’s jaw was totally dropped.

    Assault looked like he was torn between cowering in terror and laughing his ass off. Even Miss Militia was having trouble keeping a straight face. Poor Dauntless looked like his brain had evacuated the premises. Velocity had his face in his hand.

    And then the silence was interrupted by a sound I can only describe as the universe gaining a new hole. A wormhole the size of the Bay opened up in the sky above us, the fabric of spacetime almost boiling under the immense stress.

    And then out of the opening something emerged, rapidly decelerating from the blur it was into a recognizable form.

    A massive metal snowflake hung in the sky above me, and I immediately knew this wasn't a primary timeline anymore.

    "Great. XMas Special time."

    Ziz turned to me and her eyes widened in terror.

    "Ben, you better go find a tree."

    Ben merely nodded at me and sank back into the Earth. His body quickly began accelerating through the crust towards Canada.

    Guess when you need a tree, go to the source?




    I sat in the command throne of Atlanta, reviewing the sensor logs of the transit.

    The Wormhole Drive was supposed to jump us into the sky above the Bay. That part worked.

    But that sky was noticeably missing my fleet of Auroras.

    And the other 'fleet' of observers from all over the world. They weren't there either.

    "Atlanta, what the hell happened?"

    The avatar of my cityship, a young woman who looked suspiciously like my sister, wavered into existence next to my command throne.

    "I don't know, Chancellor," she informed me, seeming puzzled. "We made the transit as we were supposed to. We are where we were supposed to end up. Right above the Bay. It's the same city, but… our escorts are no longer here.

    I made to reply but found that alerts were going off in my mind.

    I tuned in to what they were trying to tell me. Atlanta was apparently under attack.



    From… Taylor Hebert? A much younger Taylor than the one who had become Queen of the rogue constructors, too.

    One who was hovering under her own power outside the shield, and knocking on it hard enough to trigger defense alerts.

    "Hi!" she cheerfully said, somehow knowing that she had my attention. "Would you mind getting this eyesore into the actual bay so we can talk and get on with this special?"

    I blinked, trying very hard to parse what she'd just said.

    "Eyesore?!" Atlanta repeated, extremely offended.

    I sighed and shook my head. "Open the shield to her, let's see what she has to say. And I need to know what the hell she means by Special."

    Atlanta grumbled, but did as I asked. The immensely powerful force matrix of her shield wavered just a little on the spot in front of Taylor, and she gave us a little wave as she entered through the open matrix gate.

    And headed straight for the throne room.

    "At least I don't have to give her directions," I lamented.




    At the same time and place as one Taylor entered a flying city, another was doing yoga.

    On top of the Medhall building.

    Odyssey didn't have permission for that, by Taylor didn't really care. Served Kaiser right, and she desperately needed to work out the kinks in her hull before-

    "Taylor, we've got a… a wormhole on sensors," Vala informed her from her bridge.

    Taylor paused in the middle of stretching out her beam and froze. "I'm sorry, did you just say wormhole?" she asked over her internal comms.

    "Yeah. It's right over the Bay," Vala confirmed. "Check your own sensors."

    "But I'm trying to relax!" she whined. "The snake infested space geckos were just a week ago! And my hull got some kinks in it because of that repair bath."

    Vala scoffed and rolled her eyes. "That bath restored your hull to perfect condition. You're just being a baby."

    "Exactly!" Odyssey fired back. "Do you know how much time it'll take me to get those dents and repair welds and esoteric particle scorched back?!"

    Vala rolled her eyes again. "Just look at the stupid wormhole you overgrown cruiser!"

    Taylor manifested a tongue sticking out of her mouth in front of Vala, but did so anyways.

    The results were… interesting.

    "Quantum signature on the inside is different," she idly mused.

    Vala's eyebrows rose. "Really?" she commented, then she broke put into a grin. "I'll get my jumpsuit on!"

    As she spun around to go do just that, Taylor scowled. "Vala," she flatly stated.

    "Taylor, I know we're going," she fired back, ignoring the ship's tone. "You'll protest for a few minutes, then get curious, and I want to be in my jumpsuit for when we rapidly transit a cross reality wormhole this time."

    Taylor blushed all the way to her engines and toes. She hadn't exactly had the time to be gentle when they had to enter Babylon and end the Empire of the Rising Snake. Her first and so far only proper cross universal transit, other than the one that brought Screen to Taylor's universe and merged them anyways, had tossed her crew around like gumballs.

    Nevertheless, she shook her head. "Vala, I'm not going. I told you I have to do yog-"

    The former thief cut her off and started stripping down to get ready to put on the jumpsuit Cam had designed for her. "You're going. I know it, you know it, now stop protesting against your own self and just start towards the wormhole before it destabilizes."

    Taylor tried to speak up, even though she knew deep down that Vala was right. "But-

    Vala began to take off her shirt and glared at the ceiling. "Slowly. And no peeking."

    Taylor frowned, but closed off the comes from Vala's room anyways.

    Vala was the only one on board. The rest of SG1 were on a trip to Colorado Springs to talk to the Air Force about something she wasn't cleared to know about.

    That something was her classification and whether they could draft her. Like she would let a little thing like clearance keep her from knowing how her crew were doing.

    Needless to say, SG1 had things to say about those topics. Namely, Deep Space Carrier, and fuck no she is a person. Respectively. Though she doubted they would deliver either pieces of information with anything remotely approaching respect.

    Even with that plan, it was important that Vala not come with them. The rest of SG1 were going to choose to not be respectful.

    Vala's only mode was disrespect.

    So Taylor sighed. They didn't need her for the short amount of time it would take for her to scout the other side of the wormhole and drop a stabilization gate. And Vala was right… Curiosity burned within her.

    She had her beam fabrication systems materialize two stabilization gates in her hangars and reached in to pull them out, allowing the circular wristguard like devices to fasten themselves to her wrists.

    Then she took off towards the wormhole.

    Vala left her room in her form fitting jumpsuit and marched straight back to the bridge. When she got there, she grinned wide and with victory.

    "Knew you couldn't hold yourself back."

    Taylor's sublight engines flared as she picked up speed. "Shut up."

    Vala did keep her mouth shut, but the grin spoke more than enough.

    Taylor approached the wormhole, a boiling tear in reality, and held up an arm. She sent the command to one of the stabilization gate for it to deploy.

    The silver wristguard enlarged just enough to fly off her hand, then exited her sphere of influence.

    And with a mind melting bend of reality, it was suddenly a ring with the inner radius of five city busses stacked end to end.

    It settled in around the reality breach and began to rotate, several glyphs lighting up in blue along its surface.

    Then the boiling ceased, and the wormhole was safe for transit.

    "Brace for wormhole transit," Taylor called out as a matter of habit.

    "Slowly!" Vala yelled at her.

    "Yes. Slow wormhole transit."

    Taylor fired her engines at five thousandth of a percent and punted herself through the wormhole.

    Vala took a short trip to the back of the bridge by way of flipping over herself, her small translucent wings trying and failing to steady her.

    She'd be fine.




    The guy was insane.

    Sorry, let me back up. After the sentient flying city opened up the shield capable of treating one of my knocks as a light bump so I could go through, I followed my Host tracking sensors towards this room.

    Within which sat a guy in a pretty alien looking throne, calling to a hologram, and that hologram was the city ship's… self.

    Not only was he not remotely human, the guy had an active and bidirectional connection with his Shard.

    Which had expanded to coat its entire solar system, and even grown a Dyson Sphere!

    "What the hell are you?" I blurted out, crossing my arms.

    I was still flying. No way would I set foot on the city ship unless I got more information.

    Another thing that was worrying me was that none of my sensors beyond the ones linked to myself and Shards could see inside the shield, but one big problem at a time.




    I blinked in surprise, watching a younger and curvier Taylor Hebert in jeans hover above the floor as if much as offended her.

    Or like she was Victoria. Either one.

    I decided to start over.

    “Hello… Taylor, I assume?” I began, getting up from my throne.

    Her eyebrows furrowed and her suspicion rose. It was like a candle to my senses, but it was also very far away, for some reason. “You clearly know who I am,” she discerned. “Now who are you?”

    It was very demanding. Much like Victoria. What was it with flying bricks and being belligerent?

    “I’m Weldon, though I’m known as Shipyard,” I informed her. “And before you ask, yes, I know who you are. That’s because I know another version of you.” I looked her up and down, then decided to tease her a little. “A skinnier version.”

    “Sucks for her,” she fired back. “So you’re from another reality?”

    I nodded and gestured to Atlanta’s scowling avatar. “Atlanta’s wormhole drive seems to have had a small malfunction.”

    Taylor raised her eyebrows. “A ‘small’ malfunction.”

    I nodded. “Yep.”

    “Hopping universes is what you consider small,” she reiterated.

    “Indeed.”

    Taylor closed her eyes and shuddered. “And dare I ask what you consider a large one?”

    Before I could respond, reality ripped open next to the command throne. A smaller wormhole, not unlike Atlanta’s wormhole drive, made reality into its plaything and boiled the fabric of spacetime.

    A feminine yell heralded the arrival of a young woman with brown hair, who planted herself into the deck plating.

    And then with a horrifying screech of metal, kept going straight through it, with an effect not that dissimilar to Atlanta’s massive shield wrapped around her body to protect it.

    None of us said a word even as the view of the bay’s small swells became clear past the falling girl.

    I finally turned around to look at the open maw of the breach in reality and sighed, putting a hand on my forehead. “That is what I consider a large one.”

    “My hull!” Atlanta complained.

    Taylor rolled her eyes and sighed. “Fucking Tinkers.”




    Merry XMas, everyone! In lieu of my further chapters which are still in the works, enjoy part one of a two or three parter XMas Interlude that crosses over three of my most popular stories. I was only able to write this much today as it was XMas, but I hope you enjoy!
     
  23. kffs

    kffs Yup

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    OMG I'm so lost but I love the opening.

    Merry Christmas.
     
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  24. TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    ^_^

    Anyways, hold onto your butts people, new chapter coming!

    THE PROPHECY IS COMPLETE, THE SACRIFICE OF THREE THOUSAND WORDS OF THE GODS WERE USED TO FUEL THE RESONANCE
     
  25. Threadmarks: Chapter 8 - Publicly Relative Teams
    TCGM

    TCGM (Unverified God/Space Snek)

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    Fourth
    Chapter 8
    Publicly Relative Teams

    The armored van entered an underground garage. I started keeping track of the location of my body and my Friendbringer's bodies from my real self as it was almost impossible to figure it out from inside the van.

    Must've been intentional. I didn't miss how easy it would be to reconfigure these things to prison transports. They were nice and comfy and cushy for us, though, so we must be doing something right.

    That or Legend's backing carried a lot more weight than I realized.

    ...Or they were so scared of us, the PRT wasn't going to make any sudden moves, like a person with a TRex breathing down the back of their neck.

    It was probably a mixture of all three, if I'm being honest.

    Anyways, the van entered an underground parking garage with other, very similar vans in it and the driver parked.

    The engine shut down, and the Protectorate members in the van with us looked to Armsmaster.

    He still seemed lost in thought, so I politely coughed and kicked his armored shin. Lightly, but not light enough to prevent the loud clang as my strength, even lightly, caused a sonic feedback from the metal.

    Armsmaster almost jumped out of his chair even as I felt myself blush with embarrassment. His hand went to his halberd and he rapidly scanned for something. Danger, I assume.

    I had to give the heroes with us credit, only Assault was unable to keep himself from snickering.

    Armsmaster glared at me. "What was that for?" he asked irritability.

    Losing my own ability to keep from snickering, I gestured to the driver, the uniformed and helmeted… woman who was snickering along with me. "I think we're here," I deadpanned, attempting to keep a straight face even though I'd just snickered.

    Armsmaster didn't know I could see the scowl he sent me, but I just smiled angelically.

    "Thank you for… informing me," he growled out, then stood up. "Come, the Director wants to meet you."

    He turned to the back of the van and opened it. With a step off the van his armor landed on the pavement with a loud clang. The van lifted itself on its suspension. Noticeably. His armor was pretty heavy, after all.

    Armsmaster stood there all imposing and looked back over his shoulder. "Miss Militia, please aid me in escorting them. The rest of you…" he looked over Assault, Velocity, Battery, and Dauntless as he said that, "hit the showers."

    Assault snapped off a snarky salute and almost bounded out of the van, somehow skirting right past Armsmaster.

    Battery groaned. "I'd better make sure he doesn't get in trouble," she lamented, ducking past the man in armor with an apologetic smile.

    Armsmaster's shoulders tensed up, but she didn't notice.

    Just before she left the van, she turned back to me as if suddenly remembering something. "Oh hey, if you need anything, just ask for me, okay?"

    I nodded to her after a moment, smiling. "Sure thing. Thanks." Left unsaid between us both was that Legend had directed her to aid me… but she was genuine in her offer of assistance. My Shards could tell that easily.

    She went off to deal with her husband, leaving the van behind.

    Armsmaster's shoulders tensed even further and his free hand clenched into a fist. "Would anyone ELSE like to brush past my armor?" he demanded, sounding incredibly offended.

    I kept myself quiet and glared at the smirk Ziz was wearing.

    Velocity started to raise his hand.

    "NO," Armsmaster declared, fully turning around to glare at the red speedster.

    At this point Miss Militia's eyes were in full crinkle mode and she seemed to be having trouble keeping herself from chuckling, but she managed.

    "We will all exit this van in an orderly, organized manner," Armsmaster declared, glancing at me as if pleading with me not to refute him. "Director's… guests, first."

    And that's how my Friendbringers and I ended up on a Tinkertech elevator flanked by an irritated Armsmaster and a highly amused Miss Militia.

    The poor guy's patience had clearly suffered quite an assault today, not just because of yours truly, and he definitely needed to recharge his batteries.

    The ride wasn't long, only about a minute. Felt like a lot longer, though, especially when my three female Friendbringers started snickering under their breath at my wholly unintentional puns.

    And then… the conversation started.




    “I’ve always wanted to meet the Director,” Emma spoke up, to break the silence only previously interrupted by her snickering, Armsmaster's creaking and clenched fist, and the almost audible laughter that came from Miss Militia's wrinkled eye corners. “She seems nice.”

    Miss Militia sent her a shocked look that she couldn’t see. Or rather, one she wouldn’t have been able to see if she wasn’t currently tapping into her sensors, surveilling the entire coast for anything dangerous to me.

    Guess I wasn’t the only one on edge.

    “She’s nice?” Khonsou asked, innocently perplexed. “But Ziz said she was a bi-”

    Ziz slapped a hand over her mouth and gave the now glaring Armsmaster a sheepish smile. “Haha, wow, yeah, let’s not talk about what other me may or may not have said, okay Khonsou?” she asked, somewhat demandingly, and the other part pleadingly.

    Khonsou’s reply was muffled, but the innocent and accepting “Okay!” was clear for us all to hear.

    "The Director can be… a little intense," Miss Militia admitted, wincing to herself.

    "Some of the time," Armsmaster hesitantly agreed. His fists relaxed and the stress began to leave his shoulders, one of my emotional detection Shards informing me that he was returning to normal now that he had something else besides Assault to focus on. "She has a difficult job. Normally I wouldn't speak of this, but you are aware of the state of the city, correct?" He looked down at us as he asked us the question.

    I sighed, crossing my arms. "Yeah, Brockton Bay needs some work," I agreed.

    I knew what he was talking about. The city was in a state of almost constant gang wars. Plural, due to the three main ones run by Parah- by Shard Hosts, and their general dislike of each other.

    Ironically the one with the asian rage dragon was the best one of the three. The other two were literal Nazis, and druggies that drugged up others.

    In my city's reality, rumors of forced prostitution and human trafficking were better than them.

    Armsmaster nodded. "She has to oversee all of that, our Wards, and keep people safe on top of it," he explained, sounding proud for some reason. "A four way cold war that sometimes turns hot, and she's the nominal leader of the only good side. New Wave included."

    "The city isn't split five ways anymore, though," Ziz spoke up.

    We all turned to her in surprise, my Friendbringers included. "Excuse me? Five?" Armsmaster asked her.

    Ziz nodded. "Before Taylor changed us and became what she is now," she began explaining, "there was you guys, the Druggies, the Nazis, the Asians, and one more; Coil's almost paramilitary faction." She grimaced and shook her head. "He's about to finish constructing his supposedly secret underground base and begin operations with his forces."

    Miss Militia frowned and shared a wary glance with Armsmaster. "Armsmaster, what do we have on Coil?"

    Armsmaster didn't reply for a moment, no doubt using his suit's systems to search for just that. "Not much," he admitted after his pause, "he's supposed to be a villain who employs mercenaries, but other than that, we have nothing." He turned his head to look at Ziz and seemed to consider a decision.

    "Elevator, pause, monitoring systems off," he announced to the air.

    The Tinkertech elevator slowed to a stop, letting out a single chime.

    The massive array of Shard-driven sensors I'd barely noticed attempting to get information from me shut down, and suddenly we might as well have been invisible to the PRT HQ's systems.

    On top of that, a huge connection I definitely hadn't noticed before due to its presence when I first met Armsmaster disconnected from his armor. Curious, I idly traced the path back through the Internet and hit a massive server farm all the way up in Canada.

    Canada? Wasn't the Tinker Dragon from there?

    I shrugged and let the thought fall onto my to-do list. I'd investigate that later. A server farm for a Tinker wasn't that unusual, after all.

    "With or without breaking the Unwritten Rules?" Ziz asked, seemingly out of nowhere, right as Armsmaster was about to open his mouth.

    My head snapped to look at directly her and I glared, prepping an internal command just in case I had to stop her from running her mouth.

    I might not care about the rules that most capes apparently claimed to bind themselves by, but others would.

    "Without, please," Armsmaster asked.

    Ziz sighed and shook her head. "Okay, fine. But I will be obeying the letter of them, not the spirit," she declared, then hesitated. She looked to me with a worried and apologetic smile on her face. "That's… okay, right?"

    I sighed and rubbed my forehead. "Yes."

    Ziz nodded. "Right. Coil has the power to simulate two timelines. He can extract information in them and then cancel the simulation, so nobody would ever know," she began explaining.

    Miss Militia frowned, looking quite worried. Armsmaster tensed up. "Any information?" Miss Militia asked.

    Ziz nodded, but Emma stepped in. "Actually he's limited to normal Thinker Shard restrictions," she revealed, an amused smirk on her face. "So all of us are safe." She frowned, then, and looked at the two heroes. "Dunno about you two, though, or the PRT."

    Ziz shook her head. "Oh no, he's definitely compromised the PRT," she insisted.

    I wondered where all this was coming from. He sounded pretty dangerous, at least to Hosts. I wasn't worried about myself or my family… Emma was right. I took an idle peek at their focused databases and raised my eyebrows.

    I knew that Shard signature.

    It was one I'd noticed was connected to a Host in the building we were in, right now.

    Coil was IN the PRT HQ Building, and no alarms were going off.

    Two different things could be assumed from this. One, he was also a high level Stranger… though his Shard didn't seem capable of that. Like Battery's Shard, his seemed off, somehow. Like it was tired. It also accepted my administration codes without complaint… or reply.

    Just like Battery's had.

    Hmmm…

    "How?" Armsmaster growled.

    "You mean beyond his ability to interrogate any of you in a simulation?" my winged Friendbringer snarked back.

    --

    Armsmaster looked at me, his raised eyebrows supposedly not visible inside his helmet. “You’re alright with her telling us all this?” he asked me, disbelievingly.

    I nodded his way and uncrossed my arms. “Yeah. I’m a Hero, and so are my Friendbringers, which nominally puts us on the same side… at least on paper,” I informed him. “I don’t actually care about the Unwritten Rules, either. I am having Ziz stick to them not because I fear anyone attacking my father or any of us over us breaking them, but because I’m afraid of how far I would have to go to stop them once they do.”

    Miss Militia paled at the implication, and Armsmaster didn’t fare much better. “I am only assuming at this moment, but can I take your statement to mean it would not go well?”

    “At the very least,” Ben spoke up, reminding everyone he was present due to his deep, booming voice. Even I jumped, and I’d been peripherally aware of him at all times due to how we were connected. The guy can be stealthy, apparently. “Even if we were to stay out of the battle, it is unlikely that all humans working together would be capable of injuring Taylor more than momentarily.”

    The elevator was silent for a few moments.

    “...Right,” Armsmaster finally spoke up. “We will… I’ll put that in my report.”

    “Please do,” Ben suggested pleasantly, but it sure didn’t feel like a request.

    I sighed and reached up to rub my temples. “Look, we’re supposed to be on the same side, okay? We’re all heroes, let’s act like them and stop discussing how badly shit would hit the fan if all the gloves came off.”

    Ben and Armsmaster stared each other down for a few moments before looking away from each other.

    “As you wish, Taylor.”

    “Very well.”

    Miss Militia scoffed and rolled her eyes.

    Internally, I directed queries to my Friendbringers. [What gives?] I asked them.

    The two responsible for this mess gave no external indication they’d received anything, but engaged me in discussion regardless. [They must be made aware that you are not to be taken lightly,] Ben directed my way.

    Ziz chimed in with her own reason. [Taylor, they’re going to turn on you. Maybe not all of them, maybe not even the majority, but someone in this organization will think they can fuck with you and then they will try something stupid. You’ve already been betrayed enough.] She sent me the feeling of pleading and support. [We’re just trying to stop that from occurring.]

    I closed my eyes and sighed. [I know that’s going to happen, guys, I’m dense, not naive. And I know Coil is here.]

    At that they did react externally. Ziz and Ben’s eyes both widened, and they turned to look at me. A moment later, the conversation that Emma was having with Khonsou and Levi puttered out as they joined in looking at me.

    [Way to be clandestine,] I sarcastically fired at all of them.

    Armsmaster and Miss Militia noticed, alright. They looked at us as if we were incredibly weird, which given we were five teens staring at me silently, was understandable.

    [You’re expecting betrayal?] Emma asked. Her face morphed to a look of hurt. [Is it because of my original?]

    I opened my eyes and looked directly at her. [No. Well, at least not entirely,] I reassured her. [I just know enough about human history to see the obvious result that’ll happen at some point. And, once again, supervillain in the building!]

    I really didn't want to talk about my expectations anymore. Thankfully, the Friendbringer that was my sister picked up my growing irritation over the conceptual network we had, and steered the conversation where I wanted it to go.

    [What are we going to do about that, by the way?] Emma asked, crossing her arms. She frowned a little at me. [Disclosing his identity would be a violation of the Unwritten Rules.]

    Ziz narrowed her eyes at Emma and I auspiciously, but a single check of my emotional state was enough to deter her. And thus, the rest of them. She sighed and shook her head. [I don't know. There's lots of ways to alert the PRT to his presence without breaking the Rules.] She looked over to me again and raised an eyebrow. [It all depends on what you'll let me do, Taylor.]

    I grimaced, then glanced at the curious Miss Militia and the downright intrigued Armsmaster. I took a moment to investigate why he was so focused on our silent communications. A query to his Shard showed that it was feeding him designs for a mind-to-mind comms system.

    And not sending him into a Tinker fugue.

    Guess it really took my instructions seriously.

    I shook my head to ward off my thoughts and refocused on the real topic. [I don't want supervillains around any more than you do, guys, and especially not in a position to further ease the PRT betraying me.] I sighed and shrugged, closing my eyes. [Without breaking the letter of the Unwritten but totally actually very written Rules in Piggot's desk drawer, go nuts and disable him.]

    Ziz gained a very scary smile. A second later, so did Emma.

    "I take it your mental conversation is finished?" Armsmaster spoke up.

    Ziz and Emma turned to him as one unit, while the rest of my Friendbringers resumed talking amongst themselves. They quickly drew Miss Militia in via the power of Khonsou and Levi's cuteness.

    "Taylor has given us clearance to help you take down Coil, as long as we don't break the letter of the Unwritten Rules," Emma informed him.

    His eyebrows rose inside his helmet, but before he could speak, Ziz continued.

    My winged Friendbringer tossed her long hair over her shoulder and fluttered her wings as a subtle reminder of what she used to be. "And that's a lot of leeway," she said, grinning wide. "For instance; Coil is in the building right now."

    Armsmaster tensed up and Miss Militia immediately snapped her suddenly intense gaze to Ziz. "What."

    "There's more!" Emma cheerfully stated.

    "Yep!" Ziz agreed, nodding. "While I don't recommend ethnic profiling, if you didn't do some of that in the search for who Coil is, you'd probably miss him. Stereotypes unfortunately sometimes are accurate."

    Miss Militia frowned. Clearly, she didn't understand Ziz's clue. "There are laws against that, not to mention morals-" she started to protest.

    Armsmaster cut her off by holding out his armored arm in front of her. "No, Miss Militia, that's not what she's saying," he countered, but found himself not entirely convinced. "...Correct?"

    Ziz just smiled angelically and clasped her hands behind her back.

    "Anything more down that train of thought would be breaking the Unwritten Rules," Emma explained for her.

    Armsmaster stared at the both of them for several moments. "...Message received," he finally acknowledged. He turned to the still offended Miss Militia and gave her something that was vague, but definitely got the point across. "They could have picked a less morally laced way to phrase it, but I understand what they're trying to deliver," he informed her.

    Miss Militia seemed like she was going to keep going… and then it clicked. Her mouth opened underneath her scarf and she let out a little 'oh.'

    "Indeed," Armsmaster confirmed.

    "That's… really?" she asked, turning to Ziz with a bewildered look about her eyes.

    Ziz nodded, but said nothing more.

    Miss Militia took a deep breath and blinked to clear her confusion… and probably whatever traumas Ziz had unintentionally (or intentionally, honestly I couldn't tell) dug up for her. "Any other nuggets of wisdom?" she finally asked.

    Ziz shook her head and mimed zipping her mouth shut.

    Emma, on the other hand, wasn't as worried about my orders. Rightfully so, as it was unlikely I would punish her for things Ziz couldn't get away with. At least, that's what I kept telling myself; in the back of my mind and three threads of thought away, I acknowledged I wouldn't be able to punish any of them, ever.

    They were my first friends since Emma's original betrayed me.

    "Actually yeah," she spoke up. "Coil's secret base is like a bunker. A really tough, durable fortress." She locked eyes with Armsmaster and nodded her head at herself, Ziz, and the rest of my Friendbringers. "Coil constructed it himself to resist them, after all."

    Miss Militia's eyes widened and Armsmaster cursed.

    "You're joking," Miss Militia pleaded.

    "Nope." And with that, Emma zipped her lips too.

    The two capes turned to me, almost as if they wanted me to refute what they'd heard.

    "All true. And whatever conclusions you come to with this information are entirely yours," I told them, stressing that last bit. "Just remember how his power works if you do find out who he is, because he wilI likely know everything you think he will, and a lot of things you don't think he will. Uh… I think you have something called Stranger Master protocols? I'd recommend operating under the maximum level of whatever those are."

    Miss Militia swallowed, the sound audible in the silent elevator, and Armsmaster sighed.

    "Very well. Thank you for enlightening us with this... interesting information," he stated flatly, then turned back to resume the position he'd been in. "After I resume the monitoring systems, I will need to go address this. Miss Militia can take you the rest of the way. To the Director."

    Miss Militia hesitated. "Armsmaster, won't you need help?"

    He pressed a button on his halberd, and it rapidly shifted into a much more menacing form. Spikes erupted from the blade's edge, two guns which looked an awful lot like tasers popped out of the sides of the handle, and several parts began to glow. He sent his teammate and second in command a smirk. "I can handle one villainous precog," he affirmed.

    He hesitated, then, and turned back to me. "He is just a precog, right?" he asked, hesitancy clear in his voice where before there had been none.

    I took another glance at the Shard I now knew to be Coil's, checking what it was telling me against my own copy. Other than the fact mine was no longer short on energy, or 'tired', they were identical, and their cycle limits, though pretty corrupted, stated they only have the ability to the host that Coil's Shard initially reported. "Yeap," I confirmed, nodding and popping the p. "Just a precog. A pretty limited one, too, even though he's managed to figure out how to munchkin it to a frankly impressive degree."

    Armsmaster relaxed, once more confident, but raised an eyebrow. "Munchkin?"

    Miss Militia was the one to tell him. "Clockblocker explained it to me. Basically, finding out how to exploit a given set of rules to your advantage."

    "Ah," Armsmaster nodded. "Well, munchkin or not, I'm going to show him just how real this timeline is." His hands ground the metal of his suit around them and he gave the command. "Elevator resume. Monitoring systems on."

    Just like that, all the systems that had been watching us before switched back on, and the elevator continued its ascent.

    I tried not to shiver now that I was aware of their existence.

    "Well, I'll take you to see the Director while Armsmaster is busy," Miss Militia announced, her face all smiles and no worries again. Damn she was good. "I'm sure she'll be interested to hear your stories too."

    [Act natural,] Ziz poked me, stopping me from looking at the American flag themed cape like she was nuts.

    I stared at my Friendbringer with internal disbelief, but a somewhat contented face on my body. [The monitoring systems?] I guessed.

    Ziz nodded. She then turned to Miss Militia and smiled widely. "Speaking for myself, I want to get my story out there, and especially to Director Piggot," she announced. "I've… my previous self has had a wing or two in some of her traumatic past and I need to apologize."

    Holy shit Ziz, that's one way to torpedo the conversation.

    Miss Militia raised her eyebrows. "...Well," she managed. "I'm sure she'll at least listen. Don't know about the forgiveness, though. She doesn't do that easily."

    Ziz put on a brave face and stood her ground. "I still want to try."

    I found myself feeling just the littlest amount of pride. She was trying to own up to her past self's actions and make up for them.

    That littlest amount was a torrent just as large as the debt she had to repay, but I would refuse to acknowledge it if anyone asked.

    Thankfully nobody did. The elevator arrived with a pleasant chime, and the door opened to a hallway.

    "I'll see you all later," Armsmaster said, stepping off the elevator. "Keep them content, Miss Militia."

    The man clunked away while Miss Militia nodded.

    Since none of us were leaving, the door closed, and suddenly Miss Militia found herself the focus of the eyes of five Friendbringers… and me.

    The fact all of us were eons more powerful than her couldn't have been far from her mind, but she grinned through it and at least attempted to seem like she wasn't scared.

    "So, shall we go see the Director?"
     
  26. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    The prophecy has been fulfilled.
     
  27. Kagemoto

    Kagemoto Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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  28. Prismatic Glaive

    Prismatic Glaive Came for the Smut, Stayed for the Plot

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    Which would win: Thinker Bullshit or Tinker Bullshit? Place your bets, everybody!
     
  29. Flutters Is Shy

    Flutters Is Shy Friend of the Rage

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    Would her informing Armsy and MM about him actively interfere with his precog? She's exempt from it now, so would any information she shared also be out of the projected path Coil is currently walking?

    i just have this image in my head of Armsy confronting him, only for Coil to not even be able to see him. He just keeps getting puppeteer through his actions as he's put in handcuffs, led away to the MS cells while it looks like he's having a nervous breakdown.

    "Anything to declare, Mr. Calvert?"

    "Can you find me the file on Kaiser from his fight last weekend?"

    "I... Sir? Are you alright?"

    "Damned fool. If her arse wasn't such a marvelous sight, I'd get her fired in a thrice."

    "... Yeah, I think we're gonna have to hose him."
     
  30. Glaciel

    Glaciel I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Can someone explain this bit to me? I am tired and not understanding.
     
    One-who-reads likes this.
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