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Going for a Walk (Hellsing Ultimate Abridged/Worm crossover)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by rocketmce, Oct 14, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: 4.7
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Grapplechain's armband beeped. Taylor blinked and looked at said armband, "that's bad, right?" She asked.

    He looked down and checked the device, humming to himself, "I gotta get out of here, most of us do. Five minutes left." He explained.

    Taylor nodded, "Alright, think you have enough time to carry some of the others out?" She asked as she looked up at group two's flyers flying down to lift capes up and out of the area.

    Unfortunately for a few of them, the Simurgh didn't seem to like it when people tried to get away from her. Pebbles going at the speed of sound ripped through armor, massive slabs of concrete crushed legs -- not even the capes themselves, just the legs, to keep them from escaping.

    Grapplechain grunted as he looked to one of the flyers that crashed to the ground, "Yeah, I think I can spare a few minutes. You have any ideas?" He asked.

    Taylor nodded, "Yeah, a few. You just take as many wounded as you can carry, I'll take care of the rest."

    The brute nodded, before running off to try and carry out some of the wounded combatants. Taylor looked around, spotting one of the parahumans on the ground, backed up against the wall trying to avoid a hail of rubble the Simurgh was sending their way.

    “Alucard, do you think my plan will work?” she asked, rolling her shoulders.

    “Hey, don’t look at me! The teleportations fine, but your technique is what’ll decide it all. Think you’re up for it?”

    “Eh, I’ll figure it out.”

    With that, she teleported. Black mist surrounded her, and her vision was gone for an instant before she could see again and found herself behind the cape who was trying to stay behind cover.

    “Hi! You ready to get out of here?” Taylor asked, startling the cape in question.

    The woman jumped, her head whipping around to face Taylor, “What- Oh! Who are you?” she asked, just before another of the Simurgh’s projectiles slammed into the pillar she was using as cover, keeping them from going anywhere.

    “I’m Carmilla, hero, regenerator, and teleporter. You’re part of group two, right?” Taylor asked.

    The woman nodded, “Yeah, Invigilata, plasma-based blaster. Sort of. You say you can get me out of here?” she asked.

    Taylor nodded, “Just hold on tight.” she said, before grasping Invigilata’s shoulder. Black mist enveloped the two of them, and they soon found themselves in the camp just outside the battle area. Many of the heroes were startled when Carmilla appeared and jumped to the side, though before anyone could ask what she was doing, Carmilla teleported back in.

    She repeated the process with a number of capes. Most of them were from group two, capes who were too injured to move, or like Invigilata were under heavy fire. When the timer finally finished, Taylor smiled when she didn’t hear any explosions. Soon enough, group four moved in, Parian among their number.

    “Hey, Parian!” Taylor said as she dodged a piece of rubble -- at least, her face dodged it, the concrete itself managed to find itself lodged in her left lung.

    Parian all but ignored Taylor, focusing on sending her stuffed animal’s toward the Simurgh. The other capes attacking managed to stay out of the way of the two hulking creations of thread and fluff, a Tiger and a Bear respectively. Each one was about the size of a semi-truck, and when the tiger pounced on the Simurgh, it’s size gave it an advantage. Pieces of metal and rebar sprung from the ground, impaling it, but it wasn’t enough to stop it as it kept moving forward and landed on the Endbringer, pinning her to the ground.

    The blasters took advantage of the opportunity, pelting the Simurgh with energy beams, bullets, and whatever else. Taylor even saw one of Brockton Bay’s own heroes, Armsmaster, taking advantage of the opening and unloading his Halberd’s gun function into the Simurgh’s face.

    Unfortunately, the opening didn’t last long. A fallen powerline snaked its way around the tiger’s throat, pulling it off the Endbringer before twisting sharply, decapitating the fluffy creation. The bear repeated the process, slamming into the Simurgh from behind, though it suffered from friendly fire when the Simurgh twisted around and threw the creation into one of the buildings where a pair of tinkers had been hiding.

    “Cartridge, Down, CD-4.”
    “Magazine, Deceased, CD-4.”


    Taylor grimaced as she surveyed the area, and almost didn’t notice the fallen cape to her right. Gunsmith, his name had been, a combat thinker who was able to accurately predict where projectiles would fly. He used such information to his advantage with the use of firearms, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to accurately predict the Simurgh hitting him in the face with a car.

    “Oooooh, shinies…”

    Taylor grinned and sprinted over to the cape’s corpse. On said corpse was a pair of silver revolvers, each one carrying six bullets. Several quick-reload clips were linked to the capes belt, so Taylor grabbed those as well.

    “We are SO going dark tower on this bitch!”

    Once the ammunition was hidden in her coat, Taylor spun around, spinning the chambers and looking directly at the Simurgh, “Okay then, let’s do this!”

    [-----]

    Parian grunted as she tried to pull her bear out of the building, the giant stuffed animal putting a strain on her power. She hoped she would be able to stall the Endbringer in order to let the other heroes get a shot at her, but it seemed she wasn’t going to let the same thing happen twice. As it was, Parian kept her focus on using the bear as cover for the other capes.

    She’d saved more than a few of the capes from death when the bear had jumped in front of the Simurgh’s improvised projectiles, and more than a few of those capes had thanked her. Parian was about to move her bear into position again when she heard Taylor’s -- at this point signature -- maniacal laugh. The blood-obsessed cape jumped out from behind cover, and started shooting at the Simurgh with a pair of revolvers that she had gotten from… somewhere, Parian wasn’t sure.

    Many of the bullets were blocked by pieces of rubble that the Simurgh had floating around her, and others were deflected using her telekinesis. None of them struck home, but soon enough the Simurgh retaliated. Shards of glass and metal flew toward Taylor, who seemed to ignore them entirely as they sank into her flesh.

    Parian cursed as she tried to maneuver the bear toward the Simurgh in hopes of dislodging her floating shield. It worked, partially, when the bear slammed into her back. Unfortunately, her back was also where her wings were, and said wings twisted and writhed, cutting her bear into unusable pieces.

    Fortunately, the sacrifice of her bear had provided an opening for the other capes. Brutes rushed forward, Brockton Bay’s own Glory Girl managing to land a hit on one of the Simurgh’s wings before getting batted away, a downed message soon following. Several of the less durable brutes were cut up by her wings, but when they were finally clear, the Blasters were able to lay into her without the worry of friendly fire.

    Taylor was also still participating, and remarkably her bullets actually seemed to be making a difference. She was shooting projectiles out of the air, landing hit’s on the Simurgh’s wings, slowing them down by milliseconds, and allowing capes to get clear of the area.

    Then, group three’s armbands beeped. Parian heard them, and she was sure Taylor heard them as well. Several capes from that group panicked and began running to the outskirts of the city. That wasn’t a wise decision, as the Endbringer took advantage of their haste and managed to kill or disable several of them.

    Parian tried to spot Taylor, and soon found that she was doing what she had been when group two had been told to evacuate; she was teleporting in and out, carrying capes away from the fight. Parian looked around and saw that one of the capes from group three was pinned under a flipped car next to her. She ran over and started unwinding the wire at her hip, hoping to lift the vehicle off of him.

    “Hey! Hey can you move?” she asked, her wire already wrapping around the vehicle.

    The cape grunted and shook his head, “No… can’t feel my legs…” he said.

    Parian nodded, and straining her power, she lifted the car. It was heavy, and even though her own muscles weren’t the ones lifting it, she felt the strain on the threads as they lifted the hunk of metal. Taking the initiative, she grabbed the cape by his shoulders and pulled, dragging his legs… what was left of his legs, out from underneath the car.

    She winced as she saw the state of his legs. His calves were a shredded mess, with his right foot still visible, but it was only hanging on by the barest sliver of flesh. The cape looked down at his legs and cursed.

    “That… is going to hurt when I get feeling back in them,” he muttered.

    His armband beeped. One minute left.

    Parian looked around and tried to find Taylor. She spotted her running around teleporting capes, black mist following in her wake. She was about to call out to her when Taylor when the black mist suddenly appeared in front of her. She yelped in surprise when she came face to face with Taylor’s manic grin.

    “Hey, you got someone for me?” she asked, gesturing to the cape on the ground.

    Parian nodded, “Yeah, he doesn’t look all that great, think you can teleport him out?”

    She could almost feel Taylor roll her eyes, “Yeah, I’ve been doing it all day, I think I can manage that.” she said, before stepping over to the cape and placing a hand on his shoulder.

    The armbands beeped again. Thirty seconds.

    “Guess I’d better hurry, I’ve still got one guy left,” Taylor said as she teleported out.

    Parian wound up her thread and turned to the Simurgh again. The white skin glistened in the sunlight, and Parian almost missed the sound of the alarm. It wasn’t an Endbringer alarm, it was too one-directional for that. She looked up in the direction and saw the zeppelin that had flown in earlier. It was burning.

    Several holes had punctured the hull, and Parian was able to make out the form of Eidolon on the bottom trying desperately to push the thing back into the air. Unfortunately, the Simurgh seemed to have other plans. Several pieces of metal flew up at the zeppelin at the behest of the Endbringers telekinesis, puncturing the hull even further and even ripping one of its engines off.

    Several flying capes panicked and tried to fly out of the way, succeeding in doing so but not being able to do much to help pull the zeppelin back into the air.

    Parian heard a cry of rage. She looked down to see Taylor racing toward the Simurgh -- no, she wasn’t racing toward her, she was chasing after a brute who was doing the same. Parian’s eyes widened as she saw what was happening.

    Before her eyes, the armbands of both capes and Taylor’s collar all detonated, showering the area in red fire. Parian’s eyes widened. The Simurgh had disappeared in the explosion and the area around the battlefield, with several capes scrambling out of the area. The zeppelin screeched as its hull crashed into the buildings causing glass and rubble to rain down onto everyone below.

    People screamed. Flames roared. And Taylor…

    Tears welled up in Parian’s eyes. No one, not even a regenerator could survive something like that.

    "Dragline, deceased, CD-7."
    "Carmilla, deceased, CD-7."


    “TAYLOR!!!”
     
  2. Threadmarks: 4.8
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    It’s cold.

    It’s dark.

    It’s quiet.

    “Hey, kiddo, you hear me?”

    A voice.

    It’s not quiet anymore.

    “Ok, look, shit’s fucked, so you’re gonna have to leave this one to me, kay?”

    It’s not cold anymore.

    It’s hot.

    “Yeah, that’d be the fire- YOW! Watch out for that stuff queeny! It hurts!”

    Queeny?

    “Oh yeah, that’s right! You never met her didja? Say hi queeny!”

    [Hi!]

    It’s so… Bright!

    [-----]

    Parian screamed. Everything was falling apart around her, the streets were on fire, dozens of capes lay on the ground, dead, their blood coating the streets. The zeppelin had crashed into the side of a building and was only kept in the air due to the fact that it had wedged itself in between two buildings, bits of burning metal falling from its husk as it hung a little less than a hundred feet in the air.

    The Endbringer’s scream drowned out her own. The psychic noise drowned out everything. Communication was almost impossible now, with Dragon’s network going haywire, and all the capes left alive screaming in pain.

    Group five and six had been sent in early, for all the good that it did.

    Any thinker that got close to the Simurgh was turned into a gibbering mess, and other capes were being bombarded with the scream, making it impossible to talk to one another over the noise.

    Parian looked up, tearing her eyes open, and trying to make sense of what was going on. Taylor was dead, her collar detonating and sending thermite spawned fire all over. The cape Dragline had seemed to want to make a last-ditch effort to do some form of damage to the Simurgh, running at her as his time ran out. Taylor had tried to rescue him, tried to teleport him out, but she was too slow.

    And now, the Simurgh, her skin blacked by smoke and charred where Taylor’s collar had hit directly, floated above the city square, her face expressionless even as the right half was still in flames.

    Dragline’s sacrifice had done nothing, and he’d doomed Taylor in the process.

    Parian grunted, dragging herself to her feet. Several capes, brutes, and flyers mostly, were circling the Simurgh, trying to get a hit in. Alexandria was there, hefting a huge metal girder in her hands and swinging it at the Simurgh. Several capes tried to get in close but were cut into pieces when the Simurgh’s wings moved too quickly for them to dodge.

    Parian wasn’t a brute, she couldn’t try to get close without fear of being cut up or smacked into a building. She wasn’t a mover, she couldn’t help get the injured capes out, couldn’t help get new capes in. She wasn’t a blaster, she couldn’t strike at the Simurgh from afar.

    But she was a shaker. A telekinetic, as limited as she was. An idea began to form in her mind.

    She looked down at the coil of thread at her hip. It was durable, more so than anything she’d ever used before, a gift from Tattletale after they’d taken down Coil. She’d used lesser thread to disable and incapacitate mooks… maybe, just maybe, she could do more with what she had now.

    She stretched out the thread, wrapping it around her hands, and several buildings and lamposts as anchors. The thin wire-like thread was almost invisible, gleaming red in the firelight. She looked at the Simurgh again, and going as fast as she could, she made the thread move forward.

    It wrapped around the Simurgh invisibly, keeping a loose hold, not even touching the Endbringer’s skin before the time was right. It wrapped around her arms, legs, chest, head, and even her wings, and when that was done, Parian wrapped it a second time, wrapping around more buildings and posts.

    While she was still preparing, more capes died. Flyers got too close and were cut apart by her wings. Brutes were tossed into the air and skewered by rebar sticking out of pieces of fallen rubble. Blasters had their own attacks used against them.

    Then, when everything was ready, Parian pulled. The strings tightened, and the Simurgh jerked, her legs being pulled together and her arms being tied to her sides. Her wings were pulled outward, the strings holding them in place. Parian felt the Endbringer struggling against the string's grip, the thread digging into the metal and concrete of the building’s supports, and Parian’s own hands feeling the strain of the thread.

    She grunted but held firm. She shouted, but couldn’t hear her own voice over the scream. Fortunately, her voice wasn’t needed, as the other capes noticed and started attacking. Blasters and Tinkers fired into the Simurgh without fear of missing, Brutes ran in and delivered massive punches to her body without having to worry about being batted away by her wings.

    Legend floated above, firing his lasers into her chest. Alexandria used a fallen lamppost as a spear, driving it into her back. Eidolon did the most damage, it seemed, throwing what looked like small black orbs at the Endbringer, each one eating into its flesh before evaporating.

    But while Parian’s strings were durable, they weren’t invincible. The blaster’s attacks weakened the strength of her thread, at times breaking it only for Parian to force it to tie back together. The Simurgh continued to struggle, pulling the wire even tighter.

    [Trajectory]

    Parian felt something wet cover her hands, and when she looked at them, she saw that the thread was digging into her hands, breaking the skin and drawing blood. Her hands ached, but she ignored it.

    [Destination]

    One of the Simurgh’s wings was torn off, a blaster’s attack shearing it off and freeing more of Parian’s thread. She used that to her advantage, repurposing the thread used to hold the wing in place to repair more damaged threads. Her arms ached, and she felt the blood dripping from her hands. She screamed in pain, in defiance, in agony.

    [Agreement]

    She felt her strings break. She watched in horror as the Simurgh broke free, her thread being sent flying, some of it tearing into the squishier capes. She felt her hands tear, the string ripping them to shreds, spraying blood all over her. Her forearms didn’t do any better. She fell backward, her back hitting the asphalt of the street she’d been standing on. Her breath left her, and when she looked up, she saw two worms, flying through the sky.

    [-----]

    The Simurgh had broken free. Her flesh was cut, bruised, torn, and shredded, all the result of one cape that had managed to hold her still long enough for the damage to be done.

    Eidolon wondered, had she not broken free, if they might have been able to kill the bitch. His powers, which had been cycling through dozens of blaster and shaker powers up to that point, were now giving him mover abilities. Teleportation. Flight. Super speed. His power, his agent, wanted him to leave.

    He rejected that idea, he rejected retreat. They were so close, so close to being able to beat one of the Endbringers? One of the things that had been a thorn in humanities side for over a decade? No, a retreat was the last thing Eidolon would do.

    His power finally seemed to give in, keeping flight with him but giving him a blaster power and a brute power, the latter hardening his skin to something akin to titanium while the former was a stream of red energy that cut into the Simurgh’s flesh. He saw Alexandria trying to get a hit on the Simurgh, only to get batted away by her freed wings. Legend continued to fire at her, but now his attacks were being intercepted or blocked.

    It was hell. Eidolon continued to attack, but even he realized that his attacks weren’t doing much. He landed, and tried to switch his flight to something more useful, but all he got was a master power that would allow him to control plant life. He kept trying, and almost missed the feeling of liquid rushing past his ankles. He looked down and almost choked.

    Blood. The streets were running red with it. He looked around, and saw dead capes being drained of their blood, he saw blood fall from the buildings, flowing out the windows down to the streets. The capes were screaming, Alexandria was screaming, everyone was panicking. Eidolon almost dreaded to think what the Simurgh would need with that much blood when he came to a startling realization.

    The blood wasn’t flowing toward the Simurgh, it was flowing past her.

    His eyes followed the flow of red liquid, and he gasped when he saw that underneath the crashed zeppelin, the blood had begun to flow up. His eyes followed it, and he noticed that the blood was flowing into the open chamber at the bottom of it, through broken windows and loose pipes.

    Again, his power gave him flight, and this time he didn’t change it.

    He flew up just as he saw trickles of blood flowing to different parts of the burning hulk, the engines, and guns most notably. He flew upward and toward the zeppelin, dodging telekinetically thrown projectiles as the Simurgh tried to halt him. He looked down at the Sirmurgh and noticed that she wasn’t looking where she was a moment ago. Now, her gaze was on the zeppelin and the blood flowing up into it.

    Eidolon sped up and soon found himself crashing through the front window and into the bridge. Bodies covered the floor, the crewmen piloting the thing. He spotted the corpse of the tinker that had built it, lying face-first against the console, one hand grasping a lever in a death-grip. He saw all of this in the time it took to blink, and that wasn’t what had drawn his attention.

    He looked forward and saw something he wasn’t sure was possible. A cape, because she had to be, was sitting in the captain’s chair, sipping from what looked like a wine glass. Where she’d gotten it, Eidolon had no idea, but he quickly noticed that the glass wasn’t filled with wine. The blood that even now he felt trickle against his feet was flowing up the chair, around her arm, and into the glass.

    “Who are you!?” Eidolon asked, surprised that he was able to hear his own voice over the Simurgh’s scream.

    He heard her laugh as she brought the glass away from her lips, “Well, I think you already know who I am, Eidolon. So why don’t I ask you a question instead?” she said, her fanged teeth gleaming in the firelight.

    Eidolon gulped but didn’t respond.

    “How many capes come to Endbringer fights, Eidolon? Hundreds? Thousands?”

    “Over a thousand, easily,” he answered. He didn’t know why. He should be getting back into the fight, ignoring the blood-drunk cape and fighting the Simurgh, but he couldn’t look away.

    The cape laughed, “Another question, then, how many of them die?”

    Eidolon didn’t answer, couldn’t answer, as the cape got up from her seat and walked past him, looking out the shattered window.

    “Well, Eidolon? How many?”

    Eidolon’s throat was dry, but he answered, “On a good day, a quarter of them. Sometimes that’s a few dozen. On bad days… we’ve lost hundreds.”

    “Do you know how many have died today?” she asked.

    Eidolon didn’t say anything, but he shook his head. She laughed again, the sound echoing in his mind, drowning out even the scream of the Simurgh.

    “Five-thousand-eight-hundred and forty-three people have died today Eidolon. Two-hundred and twelve of those were capes,” she explained, before taking a sip from the blood-filled glass again.

    Eidolon felt the zeppelin shake. A shiver ran down his spine.

    “Who are you?” he asked again.

    She laughed, “If you must know, while she is asleep, I am Queen Devourer.
     
  3. Threadmarks: 4.9
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    The zeppelin, which had only moments ago been a burning wreck, rose. Its engines roared as blood took the place of fuel and oil, loose plates of metal were held in place by impossible ropes of blood, guns turned and aimed, ammunition was loaded by various ghouls that staggered into place. It was a tapestry of blood and steel, and no one could take their eyes off it.

    The Simurgh all but halted her attack, her attention solely focused on the vehicle. Lesser capes stood awestruck at the sight, and even Legend and Alexandria hesitated in their assault on the Endbringer. All gazed up at the vehicle as it rose into the air, tearing its way out of the concrete and steel of the building’s holding it in the air. In but a moment, it was free of its shackles, floating in the air with its guns aimed downward.

    A moment later, the guns fired.

    Fire enveloped the Simurgh as the shells struck home, each one tearing into her flesh with fire and shrapnel. Capes ran out of the way in fear of being caught in the blast, all of them hiding behind cover or heading out of the city. It was chaos. It was beautiful.

    “What do you think, Eidolon?” Queen Devourer asked as she sipped from her glass.

    The world’s most powerful hero watched in awe and horror as the Simurgh tried to rise up out of the smoke, only to be nailed in the face by another shell. A handful of blasters had taken advantage of the distraction, of the chaos, but they were few in number and wouldn’t be able to do any significant damage.

    “I… I…” Eidolon couldn’t answer, all but unable to even comprehend what he was seeing, and it was only going to get worse.

    The guns halted, and the smoke cleared. The Simurgh was battered and burned, her wings torn to shreds and her skin marred black by fire and flame. Her feet touched the ground, the blood flowing through the streets covering her feet, staining them a deep red. All eyes were on the Simurgh, standing as still as she was. It felt like hours had passed, even though only a second could have gone by since the guns and ceased firing.

    A hand gripped the Simurgh’s ankle, drawing it’s way up out of the river of blood. Another followed, and another, and another, and soon whole bodies were climbing their way out of the blood to grasp the Simurgh’s legs. The Simurgh tried to rise, her wings spreading outward as she tried to fly out of the grip of the corpses beneath her. This action was halted when hooks and chains sprang up out of the blood, wrapping around anything they could.

    Climbing out of the blood, a monster made out of blades stood up, taking the rough shape of a wolf. Chains and hooks sprang from its shoulders, digging into the Simurgh’s back. Another cape crawled their way out of the blood, a brute, who ran forward and tackled the Simurgh. The false angle’s wings cut into the brute’s flesh but he ignored them. It was as if the pain was a long lost sensation, forgotten completely.

    The pattern was repeated. Dead capes climbed out of the blood and attacked the Simurgh while the corpses of those without powers climbed over each other to grasp at her, holding her in place.

    Eidolon wondered idly if they might have won, finally, if the cape in front of him might be the one to finally kill the Hopekiller. The scream redoubled, and he fell to the ground clutching his head. The Simurgh cried out in what had to be agony, her face contorting in a tortured expression, and with a blast of telekinetic energy, she through the hooks, chains, and consumed souls off of her. Her face wore an expression of anger, something that no one had ever seen before.

    Then, the sound came.

    It was a roar. A loud, terrible cacophony of sound that shook the very earth. Eidolon looked at the Queen and saw her smile, before turning to look at where her gaze was aimed.

    At the far end of the battle, stood a dragon. His body glowed red, his eyes lit aflame, and where he stood the blood river boiled. It roared again, the damned soul hungry for the flesh of the angel. It ran forward, its steps shaking the buildings around it before it slammed into the Simurgh, its claws digging into her flesh as she was slammed into a building. The dragon lifted the Endbringer up and slammed her into the ground, running forward and dragging her across the ground, leaving a small canyon in its wake.

    The Simurgh screamed again, but this only seemed to anger the dragon as it lifted her from the ground and threw her into the side of a building. The dragon didn’t stop there, as his chest glowed bright, his throat glowing white-hot. He opened his maw and a gout of white flame went forth, coating the Endbringer completely. The fire destroyed concrete and metal, burning it away completely. The Simurgh writhed and screamed, before setting off another blast of force, halting the fire and sending the dragon flying back into a building.

    The Simurgh glowed, her flesh burned and melted, her stark white skeleton visible beneath her liquid flesh. The Simurgh spread what remained of her wings, that being one large one coming from her back and a smaller one from her shoulder, and began to rise, quickly. Too quickly.

    She moved up faster than anyone had seen her do before, and it looked as though they might have been successful in driving her off.

    But the dragon roared again. His position was hunched, tortured as if his back was in pain. He roared, the sound echoing through the city, and in a shower of blood, two gigantic wings sprang forth from his back. The wings were the color blood, black veins visible in the thin membrane. The wings spread out, but unlike the Simurgh, the Dragon did not simply rise up. The wings flapped, the motion showering the area in blood and fire as it left the ground.

    It followed the Simurgh, it’s own rise defying gravity as it sped upward, gaining air on the Endbringer. It roared, and the Simurgh looked down, it’s face drawn into a cruel snarl. The Dragon opened it’s mouth and breathed fire onto the angel, coating it even as they continued to rise. A moment later, just as they reached the clouds, the dragon finally caught the hope killer. Its claws dug into the flesh of her legs, and in a swift motion, the Dragon ripped her out of the air and threw her back down. It swiftly followed her.

    The two spun as they fell, each one a partner in a dance of death, each one fighting with all they could muster. The Simurgh blasted the dragon with her telekinesis, only to be burned by his fire. The dragon clawed at her chest, only for his flesh to be shorn by her wings.

    They fell, and fell, and fell, getting ever closer to the ground as the battled. There would be those in future times that would speak of the battle, they would tell it as if it was a duel between gods, one of fire and the other of fate. But now, in the present, the two of them fell and crashed, their intermingled bodies slamming into the ground with such force as to shake the earth, causing the weaker buildings to collapse.

    Smoke and fog coated where they landed, making them invisible to all that watched. When the smoke cleared, it revealed the dragon standing over the angel’s body, a hole in her chest even as the dragon grasped a small, glowing orb in his hand. The dragon roared, his fist squeezing the orb with all its strength. Blasters rose from the rivers of blood, letting their attacks fly at the orb even as they tore at the dragon’s own flesh.

    With a mighty roar, the dragon lifted the orb in the air, the object glowing as beams of energy, gouts of flame, blasts of ice, and anything else that could be conceived was thrown at it. With the sound of a thunderclap, the orb cracked. The dragon roared, and with one final effort, crushed the orb in his hand, a shockwave following in its wake, shattering windows and screaming in the minds of all those living as it passed.

    Silence reigned. Capes, both living and dead fell silent. Those that rose from the blood collapsed into it, the dragon himself falling to his knees and doing the same. With deafening grace, the blood rolled through the streets, flowing up to the Zeppelin and, impossibly, into the queen’s glass.

    The Queen laughed as she drained the glass of its contents. She turned to Eidolon, her smile gleaming and viscous, “Well, Eidolon? Have you nothing to say?” she asked.

    The world’s strongest hero, the man who was nothing but had become great, collapsed to his knees. He stared at the destruction before him, the fallen buildings, the burning streets, and in the city square, at the heart of the battle, where all of this had started, sat the corpse of an Endbringer. Of the Hopekiller. Of the Simurgh.

    He said nothing. There was nothing he could say. There was nothing he could do. He turned his head to face the Queen Devourer, even as she smiled down at him.

    This is how you kill an Endbringer, Eidolon, This is how you give the world hope, this, High Priest, is how you start the beginnings of saving the world.” She said. She walked forward, holding out the empty glass out of the window of the bridge, “This, is how you start the beginning of the end.”

    The glass fell. The glass hit the ground. The glass shattered.

    And in that moment, the world realized what had happened. The Simurgh was dead.

    The people cheered, all around the world, their cries of jubilation rang out to the heavens. Man and women, young and old, poor and rich, all knew what had happened, all cheered in joy and vengeance.

    And yet, not one of them understood what the death of the Simurgh meant.
     
  4. щдуырук

    щдуырук Not too sore, are you?

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    Reminder: by WoG, Endbringer cores are pretty much indestructible by normal means, you need special power like Sting to hope to harm them.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  5. Sjach Decadere

    Sjach Decadere Getting out there.

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    Shard bullshit. Better yet, assume Queen Devourer hacked into Ziz (somehow) and half of it was for show.
     
  6. Morkail

    Morkail Getting sticky.

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    Um my brain hurts aren’t these all old chapters or did they all get a rewrite still great story.
     
    RomaniInfernius likes this.
  7. Doccer

    Doccer Know what you're doing yet?

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    with
     
    Autocorruptor likes this.
  8. Autocorruptor

    Autocorruptor “Correcting” Grammar

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    The story started on SB, but after a snafu with the mods and a minor rewrite to accommodate SB Site Rules, rocketmce decided to put the story on QQ. Although the story is available on SB if you want to read it there.
     
  9. Kefv1n

    Kefv1n Fat guy

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    Umu....
     
  10. Gryphalcon

    Gryphalcon Making the rounds.

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    And so Sabah takes the role of Walter.
    x3
    Let's hope she doesn't also become a power-jealous traitor.
     
    RomaniInfernius and Doccer like this.
  11. TriedgeThePK

    TriedgeThePK My arm is tired.

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    You mean a deluded horny cuck?
     
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  12. sssisss

    sssisss Getting sticky.

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    Eh, it's Alucard. "Because fuck you, that's how" is pretty much his MO.

    Well, lil' Queenie finally got to be a Real Girl for a bit. She is Halping! After all, she meedednto show Taylor (and everybody else) the nifty #lifehack Alucard taught her.

    This is only the beginning, though. Just wait until it is finally time for Taylor to Undo This Lock, and Send Her Out On A Moonlit Walk. Simurg? Pscht, barely knew urg!
     
  13. Threadmarks: Interlude 4: David
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    David stared at the picture of the woman… no, girl… again, no... cape?… no, none of those descriptors could quite capture what he was looking at. He wracked his mind for an answer, and he had found the descriptor that fit but couldn’t put into words.

    “Can someone please tell me what the hell happened?” Legend asked, cradling his head in his hands.

    Alexandria, who sat across from him, was digging her fingers into the table, “We just witnessed the death of an Endbringer. I’m pretty sure that’s fairly obvious.”

    Legend shook his head, “How? How does this happen? I- We’ve been fighting these things for almost twenty years now, and only now does someone come along who can kill the damn things.”

    David sighed, “It doesn’t matter how long it took, Keith, it only matters that it happened. What we need to focus on is what actually did happen. Am I the only one who actually heard her talk?”

    Alexandria shook her head, “A handful of capes came forward saying that they had fought with her during the Endbringer attack, and a few have stepped forward saying they know her. Grapplchain, an Independent Hero from Detroit, he said he was the one who threw her neck-deep into the Simurgh’s Tinker-tech. Dragon was apparently in contact with her at the start of the battle, but only briefly. More concerningly is Tattletale, a villain from Brockton bay.”

    “What so concerning about her?” Legend asked.

    “She claims to have spoken to her, and even have somewhat of a friendship with her. Along with this, she claims that the rogue known as Parian has a similar relationship with her. Unfortunately, the latter is currently unconscious due to severe injuries during the battle. Apparently she was the one who held the Simurgh in place with her thread-based telekinesis.” Alexandria continued.

    David nodded, “So we have two people who have spoken to her, and two that know her well enough to consider her a friend, but only one of them is able to talk. Has someone interviewed her yet?” he asked.

    “No, she’s still in the thinker tent recovering from a headache. Whether that was caused by the Simurgh’s death scream or not is yet to be determined.”

    That was yet another thing that had worried David. When the Simurgh was killed, in whatever way that had actually been accomplished, a loud scream had echoed for miles. Everyone heard it, and it was near impossible to stop people talking about it. He doubted it would get better as time passed. It had only been half an hour since the battle had ended, and Search and Rescue operations were still ongoing.

    That was yet another thing that they needed to consider; were they going to wall off Canberra, just like every other city hit by the Simurgh? It wasn’t something David personally felt comfortable with. They had just won a major victory, and if they had to section off the entire city? It would leave a bad taste in his mouth, and worse than that, the public would hate them for it.

    Speaking of the public… “How are we going to handle the PR for this anyway?” David asked.

    Legend sighed, “I’m honestly about to just hand it down to someone else, let them deal with it. Someone just killed an Endbringer, and while I doubt their identity is strictly known at this point, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people who would want to give her praise.”

    “Where is she, anyway?” Alexandria asked as she turned to David, “Last I saw, she landed the Zeppelin, tossed you out the window, and then teleported away.”

    “I’m not sure, honestly. My best guess is that she’s headed back to her home town, Brockton Bay.” David said.

    Alexandria nodded, humming in thought, “For now we need to keep our distance. She just killed an Endbringer, that’s going to earn her goodwill from a lot of people no matter how we spin it. If we said she was a bomb there would be people around the world lining up to try and cure her, precogs, masters, who knows who else.”

    David sighed, thinking about the conversation he’d had with the mysterious cape, “Now for the hard part. Who the hell is she exactly?”

    Alexandria hummed, “A good question. The reports from Brockton say her name is Taylor Hebert, acting as a vigilante by the name of Carmilla. She began her career in early January, wiping out the local gangs and almost joining the Protectorate. Unfortunately, it was discovered after a disastrous meeting with them that one of the wards was the one responsible for the girl’s trigger in the first place. Said ward is now serving time in juvenile detention, though she won’t be tried once she turns eighteen due to the fact that Taylor’s own act of revenge was deemed to serve as partial punishment.”

    Legend frowned, “What exactly did she do?”

    “According to the ward in question, Sophia Hess aka Shadow Stalker was forced to endure the same event that caused Ms. Hebert to trigger, with a handful of… additions. There are a few of us that suspect she may have second triggered from the event, but Ms. Hess has been hesitant to use her power in all but the most extreme of circumstances.” She explained.

    Legend winced, “I suppose that makes sense. But where does her supposed identity crisis come into play?”

    “When I was on the zeppelin with her, her speech patterns were way outside of normal for her, and she didn’t refer to herself as either Taylor or Carmilla. She called herself Queen Devourer.” David explained, “Honestly, much as I hate to admit it, she sounded a hell of a lot like Glastig Uaine.”

    Both of the other members of the Triumvirate hissed, and even Alexandria cursed slightly. Thinking about it purely on the logical level, and taking into account the last few minutes of the Endbringer battle, Carmilla really did seem like an overcharged version of the Faerie Queen.

    “So, what, we have someone worse than her now? She summoned a dozen or more dead capes to fight the Simurgh. She’s already set to be formally declared a Class-S threat, we don’t need more fear surrounding her.” Legend stated.

    “We play nice, is what we do.” David said, “When I talked to her, she gave me a number. She told me exactly how many people died during the fight and how many of them were capes, add to the fact that she seems to be able to summon the dead, and it doesn’t exactly paint a very pretty picture. If she keeps to her pattern she’s kept up with so far, I doubt there will be any villains left in her city by the end of the month. If she dropped her heroic tendencies, I doubt we could keep any capes in the city if she wanted them out.”

    The three capes remained silent, before Alexandria sighed, “Alright, here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll make a statement in the morning announcing just what the hell happened, and we’ll work from there. New parameters need to be put in place. No interfering with Carmilla, avoid at all costs.”

    Legend sighed, “Is that really for the best?” he asked.

    “Not necessarily, but I doubt we’ll have much of a choice. There’s not exactly anything we could do to stop her. If she really is a more powerful version of Glastig, I doubt we want to piss her off more than we already have with the Wards situation.” Alexandria stood up and turned around, “Door to my office.”

    A portal opened up in front of her and closed when she walked through. David sighed, turning to face Legend, “Any idea what we’re supposed to do now?”

    Legend shook his head, “This is all way too much for me. I’m going to go sort out the other capes, try and get everyone home.” he said, getting up and leaving the room.

    David leaned back into his chair, alone in the room. He sighed, trying to wrap his head around the situation. So much had gone wrong during that battle, but at the same time, so much had gone right. They’d lost dozens of capes, and a large portion of the city had been reduced to rubble -- far more destruction than any of the previous Simurgh fights, but was it worth it? David was inclined to think yes.

    Inhaling deeply, he let out a breath and held out a hand in front of his face. He wondered, idly, why his power had been so determined on having him run away. He wondered why Carmilla had called him a high priest, and why that name seemed to send a shiver down his spine. It was odd, and he wasn’t sure what to think about it.

    Bringing his powers to bear, he switched the powers around, wondering what they might give him in a moment of idleness.

    The first, a thinker power that would allow him to see down to the atomic level.

    The second, a brute power that strengthened the fibers in his muscles.

    The third, a master power that allowed him to create fiery projections.

    The fourth…

    Fourth?

    David blinked, sitting up straight and looking back down at his hand.

    “When the hell did I get more powers!?"
     
  14. Threadmarks: 5.1
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    “Ok… so I killed the Simurgh. What now?” Taylor asked, sitting cross-legged on her bed.

    “Fuck if I know. Queenie’s the one who took control of your body, I was just watching from the sidelines like you were. Ah, I’m so proud of her…”

    “Halping!”


    Taylor shuddered, “I’m still not used to that… whatever it is, in my head. At any rate, we need to figure out what to do next. You said I hade over five-thousand souls now?” she asked.

    “Eyup. Not as much as I had during my little tussle with the Nazi’s, but it’s enough to actually pull some shenanigans.”

    “And… what does that entail exactly?” she asked.

    “Well~ you could summon some lost souls, go rob a bank, eat some dairy queen, or OH! How about we go get Chinese? Seriously, now that Lunga-Bunga’s gone, those places on the boardwalk should be open more often now. Plus, I’m pretty sure their having sales thank’s to the Simurgh’s death.”

    It wasn’t a lie, either. It had been two days since the Simurgh had fallen, and Taylor hadn’t made any major appearances; really, she’d just been staying at home taking naps and eating snacks. Her dad had gone grocery shopping earlier, but beyond that after the two of them had mostly stayed home. She’d left Parian and Lisa with the other heroes, primarily due to the fact that at the time… she wasn’t exactly lucid.

    With Queen in control of her body, she could only watch in a hazed, half-awake view. She knew what was going on, but she wasn’t able to fully process it and wasn’t really able to until Alucard had given her a wake-up call. Once she did realize what had happened, she had almost gone into full panic mode. One of the first things she did was go onto PHO, which had been… amusing, she had to admit.

    [-----]

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    Topic: Simurgh dead!
    In: Boards ► Endbringers ► Simurgh

    Bagrat
    (Original Poster) (The Guy In The Know) (Veteran Member)
    Posted on February 25, 2011:

    February 24th, 2011, The Simurgh, the Hopekiller, was killed by the vigilante cape known as Carmilla. This fact has been backed up by the Triumvirate, specifically Eidolon who says he talked to her during the end of the battle.

    So, to give a rundown of the events:

    -The Simurgh is spotted by Dragon's surveillance satellites coming down over Canberra Australia
    -The Endbringer sirens are activated, with hero's and villains from all over the world coming to assist in the battle. Early estimates place the number of participants at just 1200 parahumans.
    -Gesselschaft arrives with the assistance of an as of yet unnamed tinker inside a tinker tech zeppelin
    -Civilian evacuation is focused on as long as possible until the Simurgh makes land, at which point the first wave is sent in.
    -Wave two is sent in.
    -Wave three is sent in with Carmilla being among them.
    -Carmilla uses her regenerative abilities to their fullest, and with the assistance of the Detroit hero Grapplechain, lodges herself in the Simurgh's tinker tech device, destroying it.
    -The tinker in the zeppelin begins an artillery barrage on the Simurgh.
    -Carmilla evacuates all of wave two's surviving parahuman's using her teleportation.
    -Wave four is sent in.
    -Once their time is up, Carmilla evacuates wave three's members, with the exception of the Canberra villain Dragline, who attempted a suicide attack on the Simurgh.
    -Carmilla runs out of time and her armband and collar detonate. She is declared deceased.
    -The Simurgh crashes the Tinker tech zeppelin, killing all crew members.
    -Wave five is sent in, with Eidolon among them.
    -The Rogue cape known as Parian attempts and succeeds in restaining the Simurgh with a large number of strings and wires.
    -Considerable damage is done to the Simurgh, however, she breaks free of Parian's threads and begins her attack again.
    -Blood begins to flow through the streets of Canberra toward the crashed Zeppelin.
    -The Simurgh directs her attention toward the zeppelin, which has since repaired itself, somehow, and is now flying again.
    -Eidolon flys up to the Zeppelin.
    -The Simurgh is engaged by a number of formerly thought dead capes, resulting in a battle between the deceased villain Lung of Brockton bay.
    -Lung destroys an object pulled out of the Simurgh's chest, tentatively referred to her 'core' which is destroyed by Lung.
    -With the death of the Simurgh, Lung and the other formerly deceased collapse into blood and begin flowing into the zeppelin.
    -Ten minutes after the end of the battle, the Zeppelin ceases to function and collapses to the ground. No corpses her found on the zeppelin.

    I'll be honest, this is... big. I only know any of this happened because of my own contacts and the fact that for the first time in years, the world governments actually released the footage captured of the battle.

    Link to the footage of the battle: [LINK]

    EDIT: Due to PHO's terms of service, the link to the video has been removed due to the extreme amounts of blood and gore.

    (Showing Page 27 of 97)
    ► MyLabiles

    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    This is big, and I mean REALLY big. I don't think I've watched a more gruesome and yet awe-inspiring video. Has anyone put music over this yet?
    ► Cacodemon22
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    No, but seriously, did anyone else see that chick in the Zeppelin's window when it panned over it? That had to have been Carmilla, right?
    ► LogisticalNewt
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    Wait, Carmilla was declared deceased? Then why does everyone say she was the one who killed the Simurgh?
    ► DeagGrav (Cape Son)
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    Imma just put this out there, but my dad just got back home from that fight. He said that she was actually the one to get him out of there alive and that when the blood started flowing, it started driving the thinkers crazy.
    ► Groomp (Veteran Member)
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    @LogisticalNewt
    For reference, the Triumvirate backed up the claim that she was alive. Regeneration is stated as one of her powers (Among other pounds of bullshit) and it was apparently plenty to keep her alive when her collar went off.
    ► ImpishB*****d
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    Ok, I get that everyone around the world is cheering, but can we just take a minute to realize just how fucked up what just happened was?
    This chick just summoned a bunch of capes from the DEAD. I live in Brockton bay and I can say for damn certain that she's been eating a bunch of the capes out here, as well as a ton of grunts. My brother's in the PRT, and he said that after she goes through, they are basically just clean up duty. They have the corpses of a bunch of the E88 capes, as well as Lung's corpse, though that one was only just brought in.
    So yeah, if that's what happened to the capes that she eats? What does that even make her?
    ► CarpetNUKE
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    @ImpishB*****d
    It makes her a fuckmothering vampire is what it makes her.
    ► Hoginop (Veteran Member)
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    @CarpetNUKE
    What makes you call her a vampire? I mean besides the fact that she eats people... and turns them into ghouls... and is super strong... AND regenerates...
    Ok yeah, I see the similarities. Why hasn't anyone else made this kind of connection?
    ► EdgyXTeen
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    ... do you think I'd turn into a vampire if she bit me?
    ► CarpetNUKE
    Replied on February 25, 2011:
    @Hoginop
    Dude, I have no idea why no one else has said this. It makes total sense, and while not everything adds up (What kind of vampire doesn't burn in daylight?) she hits most of the marks, with most of the exceptions being the fact that she seems to have MORE powers than a vampire would.
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3 ... 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 ... 95 , 96, 97

    [-----]

    She’d actually did a bit more reading than that, but the general consensus was that she was OP, and people were trying to get a hold of her. Apparently the Protectorate actually had a backlog of gifts and rewards for her, should she decide to reveal herself. There were evidently a LOT of people who wanted to thank her for killing the Simurgh.

    “Hey, why don’t we check out the PRT HQ? They might have ice cream… or hookers.”

    “Alucard, you are the only person in my head who wants hookers.”

    “Hookers?”

    “Well, you see Queenie, hookers are people who stand on the street corner wearing skimpy-”


    “NO! You are not telling Queen what hookers are Alucard!”

    “Aww, but she’s learning!”

    “No! I refuse to let you corrupt my power for your own fucked up desires! You’ve already done corrupted me enough as it is. Besides, I wanna see if they have something to upgrade my new guns with.” she offered.

    “Guns?”

    “Those revolvers I picked up off that cape, remember?”

    “Guns!”

    “Yeah, and I want to see if we can maybe get them to fire higher caliber rounds, maybe with some different ammo types. 45. ACP is nice, but we’ve been fighting a lot of brutes lately, and I don’t want to get caught with my pants down.”

    “Especially with how BIG some of those brutes are. One look at you with your pants down and, well, I’m not sure they could resist.”

    “Alucard, I’m fifteen, and I’m pretty sure Queen is younger than that. I thought I told not to make jokes like that around me?”

    “Oh fine, you’re no fun. Fun killer.”

    “Besides, I’m pretty sure the mods don’t like it when you say stuff like that.”

    “... did you just break the fourth wall?”

    “The fourth what?”

    “Ah! I thought you’d done something cool for a minute there.”

    Taylor rolled her eyes, “Let’s just head over to the PRT building, see what they have for me.”
     
  15. Threadmarks: 5.2
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Taylor wasn’t sure what to expect when she walked up to the PRT building decked out in costume. Her revolvers were strapped to her waist, ready to be drawn at a moment’s notice. Really, she was probably more intimidating than she needed to be. As she waltzed up to the building, she noticed the guards at the front door tense up immediately.

    “Hello there, I’ve heard that the PRT wanted me to come here. So I did,” she said to them, their helmets hiding their expressions.

    “Eh, um, yes ma’am… you’re Carmilla?” the one on the right asked.

    Taylor nodded, “Yeah, that’s me.”

    The two guards shared a glance, and the one on the left put a hand to his ear, presumably to contact his superiors.

    “So, tell me why we didn’t just teleport into her office like we did last time?” Alucard asked.

    “Because we’re not here to threaten her, Alucard,” Taylor said under her breath.

    “But teleporting is so much easier! We don’t have to deal with any normals on the way…”

    Taylor was fortunately saved from having to argue with Alucard when the second guard nodded and turned toward her, “Alright ma’am, the Director wants to see you. If you’ll follow us we’ll take you to her.

    Taylor nodded and followed the two guards as they went inside. The three of them moved further into the building, getting into an elevator and heading upward. When they reached the fourth floor of the building, the elevator doors opened to reveal a room that looked quite a bit like an airport security check.

    A man standing a table at the front greeted them, nodding toward Taylor, “Ma’am, if you could please place your weapons and any equipment you may have on you on the table?” he asked.

    Taylor stared at him.

    “They… they want you to give up your guns?”

    “You want me to give you my guns?” she asked, lifting an eyebrow.

    The man coughed slightly, “Yes, ma’am, they will be returned to you once you leave, but for now, they need to stay here.”

    “Leave… guns!?”

    Taylor blinked, “You… do realize I killed the Simurgh, right?” she asked.

    The man nodded slowly, adjusting his collar, “U-um, yes, ma’am, I am aware of that.”

    “And you are demanding that I leave my only methods of defense with you, alone, able to tamper with or take for yourself?”

    “Yes, I-I mean No! No, I-”

    “Good! Then we have an understanding,” she said, turning away and walking through the metal detector that led to Director Piggot’s office. The device itself started blaring, and she heard the people behind her calling after her. She promptly ignored them.

    She kept walking forward, opening a door into a hallway just as one of the doors down the hall burst open. When she looked down the hall she saw that it was Armsmaster who had just come out of what she presumed was his laboratory.

    “Tinker’s spend a lot of time in their labs, don’t they?” Taylor asked idly.

    “How should I know? They seem to like to tinker so probably.”

    Taylor shrugged at the thought before turning to face Armsmaster, who was now standing about twelve feet in front of her, halberd held at his side. His body was visibly tense, with his mouth curved in a deep frown, while the rest of his body was covered in blue and black power armor.

    Taylor whistled innocently, “Hey~ Armsy! I was just coming by to say hi to the director, maybe pick up those gifts PHO claimed were waiting for me. Maybe see if you would upgrade my guns?” she explained.

    Armsmasters frown deepened even further, “Carmilla. I was radioed that you had come to meet with Director Piggot, then got a communication minutes later that you had ignored the kiosk’s request to leave your weapons with them.”

    “Well, duh, I’m not going to leave my guns with some stranger,” she said, patting her hips where the revolvers were stored, “And besides that, I only wanted to talk to you after I talked with Piggot.”

    “I-” Armsmaster cut himself off, looking to the side. His hands clenched, and he all but snarled before he turned back to Taylor, “Fine, the Director says she will meet with you regardless of your disregard for protocol.”

    Taylor grinned, “I thought she might.”

    Turning around, Armsmaster led Taylor to a room at the far end of the hall. He punched in a number on the keypad next to the door, which lit up green a moment later. He opened the door and walked in, with Taylor following close behind. She found herself in a very familiar-looking office, one that she had been in not two days earlier.

    “Carmilla,” A familiar voice announced. Taylor turned to see a very tired looking Director Piggot sitting at the desk, her hands folded underneath her chin as her elbows rested on the desk.

    “Eugh, she looks like a fat, pasty Integra… no thanks.”

    Taylor hummed, “Yeah, that’s me. You’re looking terrible, as per usual.” she paraphrased.

    “I haven’t slept in two days, Carmilla.” she said, her voice remaining level and even, “Most of that time spent trying to keep my superiors of your back, your welcome.”

    Taylor raised an eyebrow, “Oh? And what would your bosses want with lil’ ol’ me?” she asked.

    “Besides the fact that you managed to kill and Endbringer? You’ve displayed the ability and power that we normally classify as an S-class threat, and on top of that, your attitude isn’t something that’s helping your case. You scare them, Carmilla, and the only thing keeping you from getting a kill order is the number of individuals, corporations, and governments that want to share their gratitude.” she explained, “There’s an entire warehouse in D.C. filled with packages from other countries addressed to you, with hundreds more at the Protectorate Headquarters and our own PRT building. Right now, you are currently the most beloved person on the planet.”

    Her voice sounded… dead, emotionless. Not angry, not happy, just… there. It was almost depressing the way she was talking, stating facts as they were blended with a bit of her old personality.

    Taylor frowned, “You don’t seem thrilled with me being here, though.”

    Piggot chuckled, though she didn’t smile and the sound was devoid of joy, “No, I can’t say I am. You’ve upended everything, Carmilla. You’ve killed an Endbringer, you’ve done more for the survival of our species than any other cape in history, and… there’s nothing more to it than that. You can keep your weapons on you. There’s a warehouse a block down from here, I can have one of my officers lead you there if you need it. I can have the other gifts brought here as well.” she explained.

    Taylor nodded, “What about Tattletale and Parian?” she asked, “Last I saw the former was in the thinker tents and Parian was being tended to in the medical tent.”

    Piggot nodded, “Parian is expected to recover, however she lost her hands and a large portion of both forearms during the battle. She was still unconscious last I heard, but that was yesterday morning. Tattletale is currently staying with her, but once she has recovered enough that she can be moved, the two of them will be coming back to the Bay. Tattletale has expressed interest in joining the Wards, and due to her assistance in the Endbringer fight, I believe she may get what she wants.”

    “Alright then. I… guess I’ll go see what I have in that warehouse.” Taylor said, “I won’t need anyone to show me the way.”

    Piggot nodded, closing her eyes and sighing. Taylor turned to walk out the door, before turning to look at the Director one last time, “And Director? You should really consider going to see Panacea. I know I told you last time, but seriously, you look like shit. Armsmaster, I'll be in touch, I still want you to take a look at my guns.”

    [-----]

    As Carmilla left the room, Emily Piggot all but collapsed into the table. She was exhausted, more so, she didn’t know what to do. Her superiors were breathing down her neck to get in contact with Carmilla, with Director Costa-Brown being the worst offender. While Piggot was technically a stickler for the rules, she felt she could justify giving Carmilla time to rest.

    She may have known the cape’s identity, but she knew full well that Taylor was willing to make good on her threat.

    “Director, was it wise to delay speaking to Carmilla for so long?” Armsmaster asked.

    Emily looked up, “Colin, what do you think would have been her reaction if a group of PRT agents came knocking on her door hours after the end of one of the most destructive Simurgh fights in history? After she had exhausted herself to fight and kill one of the most destructive forces we’ve ever faced?” she asked.

    “I believe she would have reacted… negatively,” he said simply.

    “And that, Colin, is why we don’t have to follow orders when orders when our leaders are acting like daft cunts,” she said.

    Armsmaster froze for a second as he looked at her, “I… I am not sure I agree with that statement, ma’am.”

    Emily shrugged, “Don’t really blame you, honestly, but it is what it is. We’re struggling as it is, and more demands aren’t going to make our jobs any better. We’ve been given a shit sandwich, best we can do is not eat it and tough it out.”

    She wondered if it was actually worth it, now. Her worldview held true, she still didn’t trust capes, Carmilla especially… but that didn’t mean they didn’t do the world any good. Carmilla had proved it herself, killing an Endbringer and shattering the myth that they were unkillable monsters.

    If she was lucky, her job would get easier. Villains would steer clear of the place that Carmilla called home, but… Emily was a realistic person. The weaker, more sane villains would still try to get as far away from Carmilla as possible, but the others? Madmen like the Butcher, or Jack Slash, they would be actively drawn to Carmilla. Her job would only get harder.

    More people were going to die, and Carmilla, despite the fact that she would likely be more than willing to fight against the worst of the villains… she was never one to take collateral damage into account.

    “Armsmaster, when Panacea gets back to Brockton Bay, I want you to contact her for me,” she said.

    Colin looked at her in disbelief, “Ma’am?”

    Emily, for the first time in a long time, smiled a weak smile and leaned back in her chair, “The girl who just killed an Endbringer is giving me advice, Colin. Figured I might as well take it while she’s offering it.”
     
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  16. Threadmarks: 5.3
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Taylor found herself standing at the entrance to an admittedly large warehouse, with a handful of PRT guards milling about making sure less… savory folk stayed out. They ignored her for the most part, seemingly content to stay out of her way. Whether that was because they were just bored out of their minds, on orders from Piggot, or fucking terrified of her, she didn’t know or care to learn.

    She walked forward to the door of the warehouse and stepped inside, and was immediately greeted by eight-foot-high metal shelves stacked with packages and crates, some with their tops open revealing stacks of letters and smaller packages.

    “Wow, that’s a lot of packages! Who’d a thunk that people would actually be grateful for killing one of the biggest threats to your species? I certainly didn’t get this kinda stuff.”

    “Alucard, you killed Nazis. Granted, you killed a lot of Nazis, but you weren’t the only one. Plus, didn’t you say it was a secret Nazi cult you massacred? Pretty sure no one even realized you saved them.” Taylor jabbed.

    Alucard grumbled inside her head, while she went to the first box that caught her eye. It was on a shelf labeled ‘Brockton Bay’. It was the most densely packed shelf, and since they were in the bay at the time, it made sense that it would be one of the most packed ones. Opening the first box, she found it to be mostly legal stuff, offers from a number of Independent Lawyers and Law firms offering advice and service in clearing her name of any past offenses. She ignored most of these, with the only one catching her eye being the firm that belonged to Brandish, the New Wave cape. She shrugged and filed it away.

    The next few boxes were filled with dozens of gifts from various businesses and individuals in the bay, from a lifetime supply of ice cream from three different shops to an endless supply of coupons from all different kinds of shops. Beyond that, there were a number of checks…

    “OOOOH! That’s a lotta moolah.”

    “Moolah?”


    “Money, Queen, he means money. And yeah, that’s… that’s a lot, just from the Bay alone.” she noted.

    She moved down the line of boxes, opening and examining the contents, from letters of gratitude, pieces of art, and offers for whatever she could want, to flat out pleas to meet with her. Once she moved on from Brockton’s section, the packages and letters became far fewer in number. There were still dozens, but coming from other states and cities, there were significantly fewer. The number would probably continue to grow, especially once the government found out she was actually looking at what was being sent to her they would probably open the floodgates of gifts from other countries.

    “This is… a lot.” Taylor noted, parsing through the letters from Boston.

    “Yeah, you can say that for sure. Do you think they have any TV’s in here? With Netflix, preferably.”

    Taylor wrinkled her nose, “What’s Netflix?” she asked.

    Alucard remained silent for a moment, “... Y’know what, there’s a lot y’all don’t have, I’m not even surprised anymore.”

    “Besides, I kinda doubt there’s a TV in here. I could probably ask for one and get without much trouble, but I don’t think that’s something people would think to give me,” she noted.

    “Eh, that’s fair.”

    “Anyway… what are we even going to do with all of this stuff?” She asked, “The money… I guess I could open a bank account or something, buy a mansion, but… honestly, it kinda just feels pointless.”

    “Yeah, I can get that. Wanna go see if Butcher’s still in town?” Alucard asked, providing a move active objective.

    Taylor sighed, “Yeah, it seems like as good a goal as any. It’s only been a couple of days, might as well.”

    [-----]

    Parian slept. She felt almost peaceful... like she was floating before she felt the rest of her body. She wasn’t quite awake, but she could feel… odd. Her eyelids felt like they were made of lead, her fingers ached, her entire body felt like Behemoth had used her as a chew toy.

    She slowly opened her eyes as best she could, taking in her surroundings. She was in a tent, the inside of it colored a sterile white with curtains surrounded her, hiding her from view. She heard people talking, their voices sounding… far off. She was tired, but she forced herself to try and sit up, pressing her hands-

    She wasn’t moving. She looked down, leaning forward and raising up her arms, only to see short, bandaged stumps jutting out from her elbows. She almost screamed before she remembered.

    She was fighting the Simurgh. Taylor was dead. She’d held the Simurgh still, and… her strings. She’d wrapped them around the Endbringer, but also around her arms in an effort to try and get a better grip, and when the Simurgh had broken free…

    She looked at the state of her arms, before collapsing back down to the bed. Her hands were gone, shredded. She tried to tell herself that she was lucky she’d even gotten out of the battle alive. It didn’t help.

    She stretched out her power, almost on instinct, feeling the thread that made up the fabric of the medical gown she wore, the blanket that lay on top of her, and the domino mask that covered her face. She wondered if she should be worried about the fact that someone had to have taken off her original mask to have put on the domino mask, but she felt that the truce was in place for a reason.

    She used her power on her gown, lifting herself up somewhat into a sitting position. It wasn’t perfect, but it would work. She almost had a heart attack when the curtains parted and a person walked in, but relaxed when she saw that it was Tattletale who had come.

    She wore the same clothes she had been wearing when they’d arrived for the fight, but her eyes, even behind the mask, looked tired.

    She smiled, “Hey, how ya’ doing?” she asked, her voice quieter than normal.

    Parian didn’t smile back, only glancing down at her arms, “Alive, I guess.”

    Tattletale’s smile faltered, “Yeah… one of the search and rescue capes managed to get you out of there before your armband went off, but… yeah.”

    “Couldn’t even staple them back on?” Parian asked.

    The Thinker frowned, “There wasn’t anything left to staple back on, Parian.” she explained, “When you wrapped up your arms in that thread, they were just… torn to shreds. I saw the damage when they brought you back here, it… it wasn’t pretty, not like a cut off limb or finger, that was- it wasn’t something you can just… gah, fuck… look, they did their best, alright?”

    Parian sighed, knowing that her friend was right. She wondered if she could be freaking out more, maybe that she was in shock, but...

    “How many?” she asked.

    Tattletale looked up at her, “Eidolon says the number was over two hundred, which… while not great, isn’t the worst we’ve had.”


    “What… what happened, Lisa?” she asked, “I… I saw Tay- I-I saw her die and then… I just, I-” she stopped, her throat refusing to continue. She felt tears crawling down her face. She didn’t feel anything, but her body wasn’t following orders.

    She felt Tattletale hug her, wrapping her arms around the older rogue, “It’s ok, Sabah, it’ll be ok.” she said, before just staying there for a moment. Tears fell freely from Sabah’s eyes, and she sobbed.

    Her friend was dead. One of the few people that Parian could genuinely call a friend, was dead. She would never be able to say goodbye, never be able to fix those little intricacies in her costume that never seemed to fit, never be able to figure out why Taylor had saved her in the first place.

    She eventually quieted down, after soaking Lisa’s shoulder. Lisa let go hesitantly, before dragging a stool next to the bed and placing a hand on Sabah’s shoulder.

    “Ok, Sabah, I want you to listen to me alright?” she said, looking her in the eye, “Taylor? She’s. Not. Dead.”

    Sabah’s thoughts froze, “What? But- but I saw her! Lisa, I saw it- that fucking cape did a suicide run and dragged her into it!”

    “Yeah, well guess what else? Taylor fucking killed the Simurgh.”

    Sabah stopped. Her brain stopped functioning, and she blinked owlishly, “W-what?”

    Lisa smiled, “Yeah, she killed the fucking Simurgh! Ripped her heart out and crushed it.”

    “H-How!? How did she- what happened?!”

    Lisa chuckled, “Honestly? I don’t have the slightest idea. All I know was that when you passed out, and when the zeppelin crashed? She took over. Blood ran in the streets. She drinks the stuff, remember? She ate Coil, she ate his mercs, almost everyone she’s fought, she’s eaten. I have no idea how she did it, but she fucking ate everyone who died, summoned a bunch of dead capes, then had a knockdown drag-out fight with the Simurgh and won!

    Sabah tried desperately to understand, to wrap her head around what her friend was telling her. Not only had Taylor survived her collar going off, but she had also somehow managed to come back and kill the Simurgh, something all of humanity had been trying to do for years.

    “I- How? Where is she?” she asked.

    Lisa’s frown lessened, “Not a clue where she is, honestly. Brockton, probably. Eidolon made the announcement that she was the one who killed the Simurgh, said that he had a conversation with her while she did it. If I were to guess, I’d say she was exhausted, probably went and took a nap.”

    Sabah, for the first time since she woke up, smiled, “She’s alive…”

    Lisa’s grin returned in full force, “Yeah, that she is. I’ve heard some chatter saying that she’s got a lot of gifts waiting for her when she gets the chance. She’s probably the most powerful woman on the planet right now, hell, she could probably get anything she wanted. I can guarantee she’s got honorary citizenship in a dozen different countries.” She said, before chuckling, “Now, how about you? We have to get back to Brockton at some point, and I need to know how your feeling so we can get an express Strider trip back home.”

    Sabah looked down at her arms, what was left of them, and wondered. She had felt numb, up to that point, until she had learned that Taylor was still, somehow, alive. Now, she felt over the moon. She was still tired, exhausted, but… she reached out with her power and felt the fabric around her.

    She blinked, “That’s… weird…” she muttered.

    Tattletale raised an eyebrow, “What’s weird?” she asked.

    Sabah didn’t answer, instead, she reached out with her power more. She felt each individual thread, like normal, but… she felt more... like there were threads where there shouldn’t be any. She reached out with her right arm and tugged with her power. She felt something come loose, like a string, but not, and watched in awe as light reflected off… something, that surrounded her. Blue reflections surrounded her, like threads, and she felt them… each and every one. Miles of thread surrounded her, and with a smile on her face, she wrapped her stump in the thread, continuing to layer it on top of itself, the miles of thread pulling itself from nowhere.

    The thread became slowly visible as it stacked on top of itself, taking shape before her very eyes. Her arm, then her wrist, then hand, then fingers, then thumb, until a silvery-blue copy of what had been her hands remained. They weren’t solid, they weren’t constructed with any sort of anatomy despite the fact that she was able to flex her hands, watching her new fingers move and flex.

    She looked to Lisa, both of their eyes wide in near disbelief.

    “You had a second trigger…” Lisa said, her jaw slack.
     
  17. Threadmarks: 5.4
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    The Butcher wasn’t dumb. Many would argue this fact since they seemed determined to fight anyone stronger than themselves, which often led to them getting killed. Unknown to many, the Butcher had a goal in mind whenever they fought someone. If they killed whoever they were fighting, then that just meant they were stronger, they gained more experience and more reputation. If they were killed instead, however, that meant that whoever killed them now had to deal with a dozen voices in their head, who would all be manipulating them for their own ends. This often resulted in insanity, or a complete mental breakdown followed by one or more of the voices taking over.

    The current Butcher currently had eyes for the Vigilante Carmilla, who days prior, had managed to kill the Simurgh. For many villains, this would deter them even further than they otherwise already would have been, but for the Butcher? This only cemented their hopes of killing or dying to Carmilla.

    Besides, the Teeth could most definitely use a leader with the capabilities she had shown.

    The Butcher stood atop a roof in downtown Brockton Bay, overlooking the rest of the city. The bustling drone of vehicles traveling down the streets, of people walking back and forth from their homes and jobs… all so blissfully unaware of the threat that sat above them. Of the myriad of threats that lurked in their city. It was rare, truth be told, for a cape fight to break out in such a populated location.

    Most capes religated their activities to the outskirts of the city, or to the abandoned trainyard or warehouse districts. Not only would they be beyond the supervision of the authorities, but they would also be able to avoid damaging their own enterprises. Lung would seldom attack the Empire’s forces in the suburbs, Faultline would hardly ever engage Coil’s mercenaries in the public park.

    But out of those four mentioned, only Faultline’s crew remained, and even they were rumored to have left the city outright. And it was all because of one cape, Carmilla.

    She had appeared almost out of nowhere, and almost immediately she had completely annihilated the Empire, with Coil’s enterprises falling to her wrath soon after. Lung had almost been an accident, with Carmilla getting in between a fight between Lung and the Butcher. Carmilla might have gone after the Butcher later, were it not for the intervention of the Protectorate, and later the Simurgh.

    But the Butcher was not dumb. Carmilla would come after her, there wasn’t any doubt of that. She had gone after almost every other villain in the city, and of those that remained, they were smart enough to keep their heads down.

    The Undersiders had gone completely silent, with no sitings of any of their members. Uber and Leet had gone underground as well, still streaming video games, but never going out on any adventures involving Leet’s tech. As mentioned before, Faultline was rumored to have left the city. Circus, much like the Undersiders, had gone underground.

    Many people had started calling Brockton Bay, ‘Carmilla’s city,’ and to an extent, they weren’t wrong. The only major opposition to her left standing was the Teeth, with the Protectorate refusing to engage her, and rightly so. The world saw her as the ultimate hero now, the one that killed the Simurgh.

    For the first time in a long time, the Butcher almost laughed.

    [-----]

    “47 reporting in, Butcher spotted.”

    “Acknowledged 47, continue observation. Do not engage. The butcher is not a target.” Agent 56 responded from the surveillance van.

    56 watched footage from various mask cams, listened to reports from other agents and watched carefully. They were in Brockton for specific capes, and they did not wish to make a mistake. They had their targets, they did not need to engage anyone else unnecessarily.

    He looked to the side and checked over the list of targets in Brockton Bay, silently lamenting the fact that they were unable to capture some of them; Victor, Othala, Panacea, Uber, Oni Lee, Squealer, Gallant, Vista, and Carmilla.

    Many had been high priority targets, such as Panacea and Othala, but the former was providing assistance in the Endbringer battle against the Simurgh and had thus been placed under the Endbringer Truce. One had ordered that she be removed from the list after the Endbringer battle began. The latter, Othala, was presumed dead, though a body had not been found. Others such as Oni Lee and Squealer had been terminated by means outside of Yangban control.

    Victor had been transported to a prison outside Brockton, and thus had been removed from 56’s jurisdiction. Another team would focus on acquiring him. Regardless, he still had Uber, Gallant, Vista, and Carmilla to acquire.

    Uber was perhaps the easiest, with agents 26 and 71 moving in to acquire him. Gallant and Vista would be more difficult, as they would need to engage the Protectorate in order to get to them, but they would still be possible.

    Perhaps the most difficult would be Carmilla.

    Before she had killed the Simurgh, the orders to acquire her had been the same as the others, but now, things had changed. She had proven powerful enough to kill and Endbringer, and while that certainly made her a more tempting target than ever, it came with its own complications.

    She was under observation of the Protectorate now, with all that it entailed. Beyond that, it was in question whether or not they could acquire her at all given the powers she had demonstrated. However, 56 had yet to receive orders denying her acquisition, and until he did, he would continue to work towards the goals of the Yangban.

    “71, reporting in. Warehouse of target Uber is vacant, the target is nowhere in sight.”

    56 paused, “Acknowledged, continue and search for evidence of departure.” he ordered.

    “Acknowledged.”

    It was… strange, that the target was not at the warehouse where he and his partner had been staying for the better part of a month. He had not left the warehouse for any reason, and it brought into question how he could have gotten out. 26 and 71 had been observing the warehouse for over a week and had yet to notice any change in the environment. It was possible that he had noticed them and slipped away unnoticed, but unlikely.

    56v considered that Leet might have had something to do with it, perhaps using his technology to construct a teleportation device to remove them from the area, but considered it unlikely. Leet’s technology had always been unstable, and he doubted the two would trust their own lives with a piece of faulty tinker tech.

    “47 reporting in, Target Carmilla located.”

    “Understood 47, conditions of location?” 56 asked. He was pleased that they had located Carmilla if nothing else.

    “Target located in Downtown Brockton Bay, 2nd Elm Street, appears to be searching for- Target Carmilla has engaged the Butcher!”

    56 all but panicked, before calming himself. Carmilla engaging the Butcher was not the worst of scenarios, but it wasn’t the best either. There was little danger of Carmilla being killed, but should she succeed in killing the Butcher, there was a significant risk that she would be unable to be converted should her mind not be able to withstand the voices in her head. It would likely be one of the least ideal options available.

    “Situation noted 47, do not engage. Should the Target be put in a position to Terminate the Butcher, do not allow such an event to occur.” 56 ordered.

    “Understood.”

    Things were escalating and becoming far more complicated.

    [-----]

    Taylor tanked the bullets of the Butcher’s weapon head-on, or, more specifically, headless, since many many bullets to the head rendered her without one.

    “Ouch. You should really work on dodging those.”

    Taylor, headless as she was, didn’t respond and instead dragged herself behind the side of a building while she regenerated.

    “Fuck you Alucard! You know she can’t miss!” she said the moment her vocal cords were available.

    “Hey! You could at least block them with… I dunno, that hotdog stand?”

    “I don’t think hotdogs are particularly bullet-resistant,” Taylor noted as she drew her revolvers and popped out from behind cover, shooting a few rounds at the Butcher before ducking back. The brick’s that made of the building cracked and fractured as the bullets hit it, but it held strong.

    “You’d be surprised! I remember back in the sixties, there was a truck dedicated to shipping only hotdogs. That pedo actually lasted a long time in there before the lead found him!”

    Taylor all but ignored him as she soon dashed from out of cover to try and get to the building the Butcher was standing on. She successfully managed to jump through one of the windows, shattering it and causing the people inside to scream.

    “Sorry! Just need to get up the stairs!” she said, shaking off the shattered glass before looking around, “Where… are the stairs?” she asked, looking to one of the people hiding underneath a desk.

    The person blinked, before pointing a shaking finger at himself.

    Taylor shrugged, “I mean, do you know where the stairs are?” she asked.

    The man blinked, before hastily pointing at a door in the far corner of the room, “Thanks!” Taylor said, before immediately walking over and opening the door. She came face to face with a long, large set of stairs.

    “Hey, Alucard, do I have any powers that could help me get upstairs?” she asked.

    “I mean… ya could teleport, but where’s the fun in that?”

    Taylor raised a skeptical eyebrow, “Smartass.” she said, before teleporting up. She found herself standing at the door to the rooftop, and with a hefty kick, she smashed the door off its hinges, sending it flying outward. She was rewarded with a large number of bullets flying toward her.

    Taylor ducked behind the air conditioner units that were on the roof, wincing as the bullets started ripping into the metal. Leaning her back against the metal, she checked her guns.

    “Ok, one bullet in each gun, with two more fast loaders. Y’know, it comes to mind that we really should have asked Armsmaster for some more ammo…” she lamented.

    Shaking her head, Taylor waited a moment, Before jumping out of cover, aiming her guns and firing. Both bullets headed toward the Butcher, one ricocheting off her armor and flying off, the other sinking into her arm, throwing off her aim and allowing Taylor a second to duck behind the AC unit again so she could reload.

    Once she had her weapons reloaded, she realized that the Butcher had stopped firing.

    “Hey, Butcher! You out of ammo already?” she asked, getting a burst of bullets in her direction as a response, “Eh, guess not.”

    Using the stall in the Butcher’s shooting to her advantage, Taylor tried to find something in her environment that she could use to her advantage, before realizing that if she kept this up, all that was going to happen was that she would run out of ammo. The Butcher didn’t feel pain, and the ammunition Taylor did have wasn’t enough to get through the tougher sections of her armor. What she needed was a gamechanger, something the Butcher couldn’t see coming…

    “It’s times like this that I miss Baskerville… I miss that dog…”

    “Dog?”


    Taylor blinked, “Is now really the time to be asking what a dog is?” she asked, reaching over and shooting at the Butcher, ducking back as soon as they started shooting again.

    “Dog?”

    “Okay, Queenie, a dog is like… Do you know those four-legged things? The ones that bark, whine and shit all over the place? Those are dogs.”


    “I really think now isn’t the time to be discussing dogs!”

    “Dog!”

    “Wait… WAIT! Queenie are you saying what I think you’re saying!?”

    “Dog! Metal Dog!”


    Taylor blinked, “Metal… wait, Queen, you’re a genius! Now… how do I do that?”
     
  18. Threadmarks: 5.5
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    The Butcher paused her onslaught of gunfire for a moment, narrowing her eyes and trying to figure out just what Carmilla’s ploy could be. She had been quiet, hiding behind the AC unit for several seconds. The Butcher began walking forward, slowly, her gun trained on the position where Carmilla had been. As she stalked forward, her eyes narrowed when she saw a red and black mist flow out from behind the unit, seemingly crawling across the ground.

    The Butcher’s eyes narrowed, before she threw herself backward, the metallic form of the long-dead Hookwolf throwing itself in her direction. She let her minigun loose, the bullets tearing into Hookwolf’s body. Sparks flew as shrapnel sank into the concrete roof and metal panels, many of them coming dangerously close to The Butcher.

    The sound of laughter came from behind Hookwolf, and when The Butcher looked, she saw Carmilla standing behind the dead cape, parts of her clothes and body almost dissolving into the mist around her. Her glasses gleamed red in the sunlight as her Cheshire grin made it obvious that she found her new tactics amusing. The Butcher frowned beneath her mask and began firing again. The dead visage of Hookwolf threw itself at her, it’s razor-sharp claws coming down to rip her apart. A split second before the strike landed, the Butcher teleported in a brief explosion.

    The Butcher found herself standing a dozen meters away from Hookwolf, who’s metal hide had been burned and twisted by her explosive teleportation. She fired again, trying to keep Hookwolf pinned down. Unfortunately, Carmilla’s familiar didn’t seem to understand the concept of pain and simply kept on fighting regardless of the extreme amounts of damage done to its body. All the while, Carmilla seemed content to watch as her pet fought in her stead. Its claws shredded the roof as it tore forward, getting close again before she teleported to the rooftop of a building across the street. It didn’t seem to be deterred, as it simply shook off when metal fragments had been disfigured by the explosion and began running toward the edge of the building.

    The Butcher kept shooting, but for all the damage she could do, it wasn’t enough to stop a mountain of chain and blade. Hookwolf kept running, and when it reached the edge of the roof, it lept off it, sailing through the air. For a moment the Butcher wondered if it might actually make the jump, but its own weight seemed to be too much for it, as it fell just short and slammed into the side of the building.

    However, The Butcher hadn’t heard the sounds of crashing blades and screaming bystanders. Walking to the edge of the building, she peeked over the edge and saw Hookwolf, clinging to the side of the building, its claws sunk into the concrete and steel as it growled, it’s bright, glowing red eyes staring up into her own. When it spotted The Butcher, it roared and began clawing it’s way up, digging its claws into the building as it began to rise.

    The Butcher aimed her gun and unleashed a torrent of fire at Hookwolf, only for her aim to be thrown off as she felt a bullet slam into her and knock her off balance. Looking up, she saw Carmilla standing on the building opposite her, the barrel of her revolver smoking.

    “Thought I was gonna let stabby-puppy have all the fun eh!?” She shouted, her voice barely making it above the growls of Hookwolf.

    The Butcher responded by firing her minigun at Carmilla as she slowly backed away, trying to get to cover before Hookwolf could get up onto the roof. Unfortunately for her, its claws soon found purchase on the edge of the roof as it began pulling itself up. When its head came up over the edge and into view, the Butcher changed her aim and began trying to shoot its head off. She succeeded in doing massive damage, tearing out multiple teeth and even blowing out one of its eyes, but it wasn’t enough to stop it from pulling itself up and running in her direction.

    The Butcher, much as she wished she could fight Hookwolf, realized that getting chased around like a rabbit would be no good and that she needed to deal with Carmilla. Glancing in Carmilla’s direction, She dropped her minigun just as Hookwolf lunged, and teleported. She managed to teleport to the building she had been on previously, a fair bit behind Carmilla. Before Carmilla had time to react, she pulled out her bow. Quarrel had been a magnificent archer, and her own weapon had a wealth of potential, a potential that the Butcher had exploited to it’s fullest.

    Nocking an arrow, she drew back her bow and aimed for Carmilla’s center of mass. Blowing off her head hadn’t worked, but if she could simply do enough damage, even being a regenerator wouldn’t help her. It hadn’t helped any of the other regenerators the Butcher had fought. Carmilla spun around just as the Butcher loosed the arrow, it’s head slamming into her chest as the explosive payload in the arrow itself waited a moment, then exploded.

    The flames washed over everything, the fire causing metal panels and grates to begin to glow with heat. The Butcher paid no mind to this, however, as she felt a grim satisfaction. The Tinker-Tech arrow should have been more than powerful enough to deal with Carmilla. It was enough explosive to turn a tank into shrapnel, and it was apparently more than capable of Turning Carmilla into a fine red mist.

    [-----]

    A fine red mist was all Taylor needed to be. Truth be told, her mist form was something she had actually been experimenting with whenever she used it, and whenever she did, she found that it was a very similar feeling when she had taken a massive amount of damage. With fire and Ash surrounding her, Taylor began to reform herself, only half her body returning to its original state whilst the rest remained a black-red mist.

    She eyes the Butcher, reveling in the surprise that overcame her face at the fact that she survived.

    “Ya’know, Butcher, this is usually the time where Alucard would say something like, ‘ya dun goofed,’ and honestly, I feel that’s rather appropriate here.” She said, drawing one of her revolvers with her non-mist hand, aiming it in the Butcher’s direction.

    “Oh yeah! Show ‘em the one-liners!”

    Taylor grinned, and fired, her bullet sinking into the Butcher’s arm, instead of her heart, due to the simple fact that she had recovered from her earlier shock. Taylor tracked the Butcher with her revolver, shooting three more times and unfortunately missing due to the Butcher’s own speed and, on the last shot, teleporting out of the way. Taylor frowned before she felt the Butcher tackle her from behind, knocking her off balance and sending her sprawling onto the roof.

    Taylor laughed as she rolled over and got up, looking at the Butcher with a gleam in her eye, “Oh, you are fun! I wish you hadn’t blown my head off earlier, but now? I’m going to enjoy this.”

    The Butcher simply got up and readied herself, her stance trained and professional, despite her right arm being limp, the large bullethole, provided by Taylor of course, revealing torn flesh and damaged bone, fragments of it sticking out of her muscle. Her bow had since been discarded since her arm was far too damaged to use it, and in its place, she had drawn an eight-inch knife, held in a firm backward grip, and aimed at Taylor.

    “Ohohoho! Mano-eh-mano! Whatcha think Tay-Tay, wanna take ‘em on in fisticuffs?”

    Taylor shrugged, holstering her revolver, “Why not?” she asked.

    Getting into her own stance, Taylor grinned. The Butcher, gripping her knife, gritted her teeth and charged. Unfortunately, she would never get to fight Taylor on the grounds they had been on then and there, as a high-caliber round soon found its place in her head. Taylor watched in horror as the Butcher’s head exploded, blood and grey-matter covering Taylor’s face. The Butcher’s body fell to the ground, lifeless.

    Taylor blinked, “Someone stole my kill…”

    “Oh… shit…”

    “But… shard! Data! No… No Data!”

    “Queenie… Someone just… they just
    stole our kill.”

    Taylor blinked again, looking around, “Someone stole my kill!”

    Taylor grit her teeth and tried to follow the path of where the bullet had come from. The gore had splattered directly onto her, so it should have come from somewhere behind the Butcher. When she looked, she saw something that made her very angry.

    Sitting in the sixth story window of an apartment building, a red masked man with a sniper rifle sat, smoke rising from the barrel.

    [-----]

    Agent 47 had killed the Butcher. It was not the most amicable of situations, especially since it was unlikely that 47 would be recoverable due to the Butcher’s influence. However, if they could perhaps curb their influence, then One would find a very useful tool at their disposal.

    “Agent 47, return to the base of operations undetected, and prepare for transfer.” Agent 56 ordered.

    “Understood.” 47’s voice was clipped and firm as if they were… in pain, perhaps. Not necessarily unwarranted given the circumstances.

    It was not the most amicable of situations, no, but considering it was either this or allow Carmilla to kill the Butcher, this was by far the more preferable situation. She was powerful enough as it was, and would become even more of a threat should she gain the Butcher’s abilities. Unpredictable as she was, she could become even more so, along with the power boost.

    “Agent 71 reporting, Target Uber has become active.”

    56 tore his attention away from 47’s situation and focused on the status on 71 and 26, “71, report, define the parameters of Uber’s activity.”

    “Target has activated the door on the warehouse, and it is now raising. View inside… Tinker-tech! Target Uber is using a tinker-tech device provided by subject L33t to- gah!” 71’s voice was cut off by the sounds of electricity and static, with his own cries of pain being the only indication that something had happened to him physically.

    “71, report!” 56 shouted into the mic, receiving no answer. The line was dead, completely, so 56 switched to another line, the one connected to 26’s communication, “26, report, 71’s communication has gone offline.”

    The sounds of crackling electricity came over 26’s mic, with shouting not far away, “Target Uber has incapacitated 71 with a blast from a Tinker-Tech weapon, subject L33t is currently remaining inside the weapons cockpit and appears to be piloting it while Target Uber is-” 26’s voice was cut off by the loud crackling of electricity, quickly followed by the tell-tale sound of an explosion.

    56’s own expression began to falter as he realized what had happened, but before he could contact his superiors, a voice came over 26’s mic, “Listen here asshole, I don’t know who you are or why you’re stalking me and L33t, but you’re going to find out real fast why you don’t start a mess in this city! We’re staying low for a reason, and we don’t need you fucking that up!”

    A voice echoed behind the speaker -- presumably Uber -- before he cursed “Look, I don’t really give a damn who you are, but with Carmilla going on a rampage, the Gesellschaft, The Teeth, I don’t want any part of all that crap!”

    The sound of crunching plastic soon followed the Uber’s voice, likely him destroying the device. 56 frowned. The situation was becoming rather complicated rather quickly.

    [-----]

    As Lisa and Sabah stepped into the loft, both sighed in relief. Lisa claimed the rug in the living room as her own whilst Sabah did the same with the couch.

    “So tired…” Lisa said as she curled up, “Sabah… turn off the light, please. My head is killing me.”

    Using a spare thread, she did so, the light going out instantly. Unfortunately, the lack of light didn’t seem to be helping matters as Lisa still groaned, whether in pain or frustration Sabah couldn’t ascertain.

    “Lisa. For the love of God, if you’re going to sleep, sleep, if you’re going to rant, rant, but just. Stop. Moaning.” Sabah commanded.

    “It hurts to think… but I can’t stop thinking!” she called out into the darkness, the dim lighting of the sun leaking through the windows providing Sabah a view of Lisa laying on the ground, her hands held high in the air.

    She sighed, “Alright, what are you thinking about?” she asked.

    “Ok, so, your power. It allows you to summon wires now, right? Or, threads I guess, depending on you’re preferred terminology.”

    Sabah just hummed, flexing her fingers. That was probably the simplest explanation she could come up with, the ability to summon and control razor-thin wire, with her control over threads and porous substances increasing tenfold as well.

    “What do you think you could do with that? What is the extent of your ability?” Lisa asked.

    She hummed, thinking it over in her head. What could she do with her ability now? Her power before had been useful, and once applied properly, incredibly strong, but now? Now she began to wonder.

    “I have way more control over threads and fabrics than ever now, but my wire… it’s something else, I’ll give it that. It’s almost like…” She frowned, trying to come up with the correct wording. She held up her hand in front of her face, staring at the white-blue translucent material of the wire, “... like another limb, or a part of me I’d never known I had.”

    Lisa smiled her natural, trademark Vulpine Grin, “I thought you might say that…” she noted, before yawning, “I think I’m going to sleep… now…” she said, the light sound of her breathing slowing to a crawl being the only thing noting her own pass into unconsciousness.

    Sabah smiled, looking back at her hand. Once she got the chance, she could change things, for the better. She didn’t have to be the timid girl she had been as Parian, and although she wasn’t quite sure she could follow Taylor’s example, she felt she could do more, now. She had heald the Simurgh in place before her second trigger, and now that her power had changed, adapted, she was more capable than ever.

    She’d have a lot of work ahead of her, but for now? Now she decided it was probably best to take a nap.
     
  19. Threadmarks: 5.6
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Taylor was pissed… no, pissed wasn’t the right word. It didn’t carry the… gravitas, of the situation, it held none of the feelings of pure, murderous, undiluted rage that flowed through her blood. Someone had taken her kill from her, ended a fight that was hers. That wasn’t supposed to happen, and both Queen and Alucard agreed on the matter. Whoever it was that had killed the butcher was to die, specifically, they would die by her hand. Or her bullet. Whichever came first.

    So when Taylor saw the red masked individual, she silently swore that their days were numbered. Oh, she could have simply just teleported over and killed them with her bare hands, she could have made a headshot from their current distance, but no. She wanted them to know just who they had pissed off, and what the consequences of pissing her off were.

    So she let them run.

    “What better way to instill absolute, abject terror than to let them think they’ve gotten away, only to realize that they never had a chance, to begin with?”

    “You’ve got a point there, Alucard.” She noted as she watched the individual flee. She frowned, “Alucard, we don’t have a way to track them, do we?” she asked.

    She could almost feel his psychedelic grin as he spoke, “Taylor, I want you to do something for me. Open your third eye.”

    Taylor blinked, “My Third eye?” she asked before she squinted, “Is this some kind of Buddhist crap?” she asked.

    “No- fuck it, I’ll do this the other way, go crosseyed!”

    Taylor did so… after a moment of hesitation, but when she finally did? She saw it all. She saw people, so many people. She saw the wind, and more importantly, she saw her target. They were like a shining beacon as they climbed down the building they had been in, and soon enough, Taylor followed. She ran, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, sometimes teleporting and sometimes phasing through walls in order to keep up.

    Still, she stayed out of sight. Didn’t want her prey to know she was after them, now did she?

    [-----]

    47 ran. He ran as fast as he could, trying oh so desperately to block out the voices. He knew it was a risk, but it was a calculated one, and it was well worth it if it meant keeping the Butcher's powers and abilities away from Carmilla.

    “F-f-f-fffffuck~! It hurts!”

    Unfortunately, the voices were not helping. There would be fourteen of them supposedly, however, he had only heard six. One was constantly trying to get him to go back, to finish the fight with Carmilla, two just screamed incoherently, another spoke of the voices in their head, another was trying to convince him to contact the Teeth, and another was ordering him to run as fast as he could to the protectorate.

    He ignored them all. Or, as best he could anyway. He had been trained to block out mental influence, to resist master abilities, but this… this was far beyond what he had been trained for. Still, it was his duty to persevere, for the greater good of the Yangban, the CUI, and for all of China. If it was his fate to have a dozen voices in his head, so be it.

    As he ran, he began to use his power. A slight, almost inconsequential shift in the world around him, allowing him to speed up or slow down his perception of time. In this case, he sped it up somewhat, allowing him to reach the main base of operations for the Yangban in Brockton Bay in a fourth of what it might have actually taken him. Generally speaking, using his power in such a manner was ill-advised, as it left him vulnerable to attack should he lose focus. It was akin to putting the world on fast forward, and while it had its uses, even he knew there were risks that came with it.

    Regardless, it was a calculated risk, much like killing the Butcher, and in this instance, it paid off. He walked into the back of the abandoned apartment building and quickly crept up the stairwell, before reaching the room that served as their main headquarters. Once inside, he was greeted by 56, who stood at the ready, a fair distance away from him.

    “Agent 47, report.” 56 demanded.

    “Wait a minute… you’re part of the Yangban-?”

    “Of course he’s Yangban you fucktard! Didn’t you catch the part about China?”


    47 blocked out the voices, gritting his teeth as he addressed 56, “The Butcher has been killed and Carmilla has been denied their powerset. I am currently… repressing, the previous butchers.” he explained.

    56 paused, “‘Repressing’? Are you in control, agent 47?”

    47 shook his head, “No, agent 56. I would report to One as soon as possible for further instructions. The current situation is… unprecedented.”

    56 nodded, “Very well. I will contact the upper command and inform them that you will need transportation and proper protection. Do you believe you have been followed?”

    “Negative, I was not followed. I do not believe Carmilla had seen me.” He offered. If she had, he would be dead by now. She had shown teleportation abilities already and was more than likely capable of killing him from a distance.

    “... you just had to invoke Murphy, didn’t you?”

    “My mind is an OPEN fortress with its gates SHATTERED and it’s windows BARRED!”


    47 retired to his quarters, a fairly barren room with little more than a cot, a desk, and a ticking clock on the wall. He paid little attention to the room itself, instead he focused on keeping himself calm, and the voices at bay. He did not need to be driven mad by them, no matter what ramblings they may be on about. He sat cross-legged on his cot, and slowed down his perception of time to a crawl, allowing him to think and concentrate. He had new powers, now, and he needed to evaluate what he could. He opened his eyes and focused.

    He could see 56 in the other room, his heart and the veins and arteries connecting to it visible through the walls. It was a power that had belonged to one of the Butcher’s before the one that he had killed. He felt other powers as well. Increased strength on his part, durability, teleportation… he idly pinched himself and noted the complete and utter lack of pain. Another of the Butcher’s powers.

    He continued to experiment with the powers at his disposal, never daring to use any of the more… destructive ones, but trying to test the limits of his own current capabilities. Before he knew it, the light was beginning to dim, as the sun started to fall behind the horizon and…

    He looked at the clock on the wall in front of him. He looked out the window, as the sun was setting, and then back at the clock, which read 3:44 PM. He would have dismissed this as the clock simply being broken, but he was able to hear the ‘tick, tock’ of the clock as it ran. He wondered if, perhaps, it simply read the wrong time.

    “... Something smells fucky.”

    “No shit sherlock. Hey, new guy, you have a phone or something? That should at least give us an idea of what’s going on.”

    “Time is but a CONSTRUCT! A FARCE that we humans use to JUSTIFY our petty SQUABBLES and LIVES!”


    47 ignored the voices again but did note that the second had a point. Getting up from his cot, he reached over to the desk and picked up the standard issue phone that every Yangban agent had access to. It was limited in its capabilities, but it was able to tell time at the very least. And this clock read 3:45 PM. Nowhere near soon enough for sunset.

    Something was wrong, but 47 had no idea what it could be. He set the phone back down on the desk and walked over to the door. If he was right, and something had gone wrong, he needed to report it to 56 immediately. When he reached for the doorknob and twisted, he found that it was locked. That was wrong. He did not lock the door to his own private quarters, for if he was needed in an emergency it would only slow him down.

    He saw the light against the door darken, and when he turned around, he saw that the entire room was beginning to go dark. He looked out the window and saw that the sun had well and truly set now and that it was night outside. He reached for the light switch, but when flipped the lights did not provide their designated illumination.

    He walked over to the window and attempted to open it, but found that it was sealed shut. He looked around the room, and soon enough, it began to darken further, not due to the lack of natural light, but artificially, as if something was intentionally making the room darker. He heard a sound, like dripping water.

    He blinked when he felt something on the back of his hand, and when he looked down he saw a splotch of red on his glove. He looked up, and for the first time in a long while, felt his heart skip a beat and his skin grow cold. The ceiling, instead of being the trademark white-grey popcorn of most mass-produced buildings, was a roiling mass of red and black liquid.

    “That… we… we’re fucked.”

    “Hey, at least the new one will be better than this moron! Hasn’t even said a word to us!”

    “Murder! Death! Kill! Murder! Death! Kill!”


    47 ignored them, something that was fairly easy given his current circumstance. He felt the sweat begin to roll down his brow as the fear of the situation began to set in. As he kept looking up, he saw that the roiling mass of black and red was not as shapeless as he had first thought. No, now he saw the shapes, the black tendrils, the clouds of mist… and the eyes.

    Dozens of red, orange, and yellow glowing single eyes peered down at him, each one seeming as if they could look past the mask and through to the man beneath it. And before he could do anything else, he saw at the very center of the mass, an even larger, almost dinner plate sized eye, opened. It looked down on him menacingly, and he found himself focused entirely on it. He dreaded it, feared it, wanted it to go away, but he couldn’t. Stop. Looking.

    It watched him, sometimes twisting this way or that, and soon enough, some of the black tendrils began to reach downward. That was enough to cause 47 to panic, as he turned around and punched the window, feeling the glass dig into his palm with none of the pain that otherwise would have come with the action. As he tried to get the glass out of the way so that he could escape, he felt one of the tendrils touch his shoulder. It was cold, wet, and dripping with red liquid.

    He recoiled, and in a panic, used his teleportation to escape. He soon found himself standing on the rooftop of a building, the area around him covered in fire from the explosion caused by the teleportation. Spinning around, he located the window to the room he had been in, and his eyes widened at the sight before him. Massive dark tendrils poured out of the window, some of them would have eyes or mouths on them, each mouth lined with wicked, pearl-white teeth, while each and every one of the eyes was squarely trained on him.

    Some of the larger ones began to reach out toward him, and so he turned to run. He ran and kept running, using his enhanced strength to leap across the rooftops and even teleporting occasionally. He tried desperately to justify his retreat. There was no way 56 would be able to survive to face a creature like that, and he would need to escape in order to report back to One.

    He paused when he reached the downtown area, and his breath hitched when he realized something. There was no sound. No cars, no honking horns, no distant gunshots, no sounds of the crowds of people. He walked over to the edge of the roof he stood on in order to try and see what was going on and froze when he saw what was below.

    Blood. The streets ran red with it, and out of it, silently, thousands of corpses were trying their damnedest to clamber their way up the building he stood on. They gripped onto the side of the building, onto each other, onto anything they could grasp at, and while it was slow, there was progress.

    It was a horrifying sight, and 47 backed away from the edge, slowly. He needed a way out, a way out of the nightmare before him. It didn’t make any sense. What had happened to Brockton Bay to turn into this? Or was it simply an illusion, and that he was perhaps being mastered by one of the powers of the Butcher? Perhaps this was simply a way that the previous ones drove their killers insane.

    He received his answer when, as he was backing up, he bumped into something, or more accurately, someone. Spinning around, he found himself face to face with Carmilla, a Cheshire grin on her face.

    “You stole our kill,” she said.

    “You stole our data.” Her voice, but not, said.

    “And you’re going to pay for that.”

    47 panicked and threw a punch at Carmilla, who simply caught the offending limb with no visible recoil. She continued to grin as she leaned in close to 47. She reached up and removed her glasses, and he soon wished that they had remained on. Her eyes, blood-red, bored into his own. It was as if she stared into his soul, looking for something. Finally, her grin wavered into a frown, and she scoffed.

    “You really shouldn’t have stolen our kill,” she said before her jaws opened and he screamed, searing pain filling his entire existence.
     
  20. Threadmarks: 5.7
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

    Joined:
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    Panacea was tired. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence, given that she often worked overtime at the hospital and tended to push herself past her own limits. Unfortunately, she was good at hiding the fact that she was pushing her limits. This was the case when she was finally able to return to Brockton Bay, she was immediately bombarded by texts and emails asking her when she would be back to work.

    She sighed as she sat in her back yard, staring up at the night sky. Victoria and her parents were asleep, leaving Amy to her own devices. She should be asleep, she should be getting rest, but even after laying in bed staring at the ceiling for over two hours, none of it helped. She couldn’t sleep. Part of it was the stress of the whole situation, of dealing with the aftermath of an and bringer fight, of trying to heal and help everyone and even coming to those she couldn’t heal.

    The girl who had lost her arms, there wasn’t enough material left to fix it. She couldn’t just create new flesh and bone, it needed to come from somewhere. The reality of the situation was that she actually didn’t do that much actual healing, instead, she had to focus on stabilizing people so that tinkers could get to work on prosthetics and getting the people back on their feet. Still, she had gotten a number of requests from people to regrow limbs or fix brain damage, but she could never help them.

    If she was honest with herself, she was relieved she couldn’t help someone. That being the case, she still felt guilty about that fact afterward. Sighing, she leaned up against the back of her chair and stared upward. The stars were bright, gleaming despite the moonlight. It was quiet, no distant gunshots, no explosions from cape fights… it was something she didn’t realize she’d taken for granted until then.

    She frowned as she considered the source of it all. Carmilla, the cape that had killed the Sirmurgh, the cape that had brought down the Empire Eighty-Eight, had killed Lung and had cowed the few remaining villains in the bay into hiding. She idly wished she could look at her biology, just to see how her regeneration worked and how she was able to survive the detonation of both an armband and a collar, both rated for high rated brutes.

    As far as she knew, Carmilla hadn’t been active recently, only being seen fighting the Butcher earlier in the day, something that Amelia didn’t really want to consider. Carmilla was seen as a hero by millions of people now, and if she killed the butcher… that might just ruin that. Heroes had killed the Butcher in the past, only to be driven insane later on by the voices in their head. If Carmilla killed the Butcher, there was no small chance that she might be beyond saving.

    Looking down at her phone, she started looking back through her messages again. There were the usual requests from the hospital and clinics around the city, but there was one that stuck out to her, one that came directly from the PRT. It wasn’t unusual for them to request her help, but it usually came after a cape fight or a gang-war. Considering how quiet the city had been thus far, it made her wonder what had made them request her help.

    [-----]

    “Oooooooh…” Taylor groaned as she sat atop the roof of the apartment complex. Her head ached, and she could vaguely hear people shouting… somewhere, she wasn’t sure.

    “FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCK!”

    Taylor winced as she heard Alu… “Alucard… wait a minute, you’re not Alucard!” she noted, not recognizing the voice.

    “No! No! Fuck! I’ll do anything you want JUSTPLEASENOFUCK-” the voice was cut off by the sound of Alucard’s giggling. And a chainsaw. Somehow.

    “Alucard… what are you doing?” Taylor asked.

    “Huh? Oh, you’re awake! Ah, don’t worry about it, I’m just doing a bit of cleaning-house.”

    “OH GOD NO NOT THE FACE! NOT THE FACE!”

    “Face!”


    “Is that… is that the Butcher?” Taylor asked idly whilst massaging her temples.

    “Yeah, turns out, the way this guy works is that whenever someone kills him, he just hops into their brain. This has repeated with several Butchers, and so now we’ve had about fifteen of them running around in here. There’s a couple that are worth keeping around, long as they stay quiet ‘n all, but there are plenty of crazies too.” Alucard explained.

    “Uh, yeah, um… can you two… three?... just, I don’t know… leave us in the corner here? Thanks.”

    Taylor blinked, “Who is that?” she asked.

    “Ah, um… that’d be the two of us, I’m Jack, also known as Knightwatch, or, Butcher seven, I guess.” the voice answered, “And this is Jess, Shiner, or Butcher twelve.”

    A squeak came from one of the voices inside Taylor’s head, prompting her to blink owlishly, “Huh… so… the two of you were heroes?” she asked.

    “Well, I was, Jess was just a rogue in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Jack explained.

    “Yeah, yeah, enough with the sob-story, the two of you stay in the corner while Queenie and I wrap up the stragglers.” Alucard butted in.

    “NO WAIT! YOU CAN’T JUST- GAAAAAHHH! IT HURTS!” A voice cried, the sounds of chainsaws interrupting its monologue.

    “Chainsaw go brrrr!”

    Taylor blinked again, “Well, at least Queen seems to be enjoying herself… how did you get a chainsaw? How does that even work?”

    “I mean, technically it’s not a chainsaw, more a metaphysical and/or spectral form of one. Technically none of these voices can’t feel any pain either-”

    “HAVE MERCY!”

    “-But you don’t see that stopping Queenie. Besides, their shard’s been eaten up, all that needs to happen now is clean up. Speaking of which, how you feelin’?”


    Taylor yawned, “Sleepy. How long was I out? I felt like I just got off an LSD trip…”

    “Well, ah, that might be my fault. Kinda forced one of your powers through to use on the Yangban dude.”

    “He was Yangban? Wait, yeah, of course, he was… how do I know that?” Taylor asked, narrowing her eyes, “Alucard, how do I know that?”

    “Well, you read his mind, duh.”

    “... How?”

    “By drinking all of his blood! I mean, you have to do it on purpose, which is why you haven’t been getting bombarded with memories every time you eat them.”

    “But… how come I don’t remember doing that-”

    “Flashback time~!”

    [-----]

    Taylor’s mouth opened wide, and as she bit down, blood began to drain from the man’s veins, and she was able to see everything. Bright lights, four of them… no, they were telling her five… couldn’t they count? Then the lights were green, then blue, then purple, then they started tasting red but smelling yellow, and she couldn’t decide if she liked it or not.

    Then she saw the man she was drinking. He was fighting, then he was kidnapped, then punched, then drugged, then trained, then drugged again… then he started speaking Chinese for some reason.

    Then, finally, as she drained the last drops of blood from his body, she saw who he was and who he worked for.


    [-----]

    “-FUCK!” Taylor yelled as she clutched her head, all the memories coming back at once, “Alucard, don’t fucking do that!” she yelled at him.

    “Hey, it took me over fifty years to do that without a headache, you’re not gonna learn it overnight! ‘Sides, we know who we’re after now.”

    Taylor sighed, “Yeah, guess we do. Still, do we really have to go after all of them? I mean, it was just 47 that stole the kill, and yeah, I get that he did it on someone else’s orders, but do we really have to go after China?” she asked.

    “I mean, not really? You got your kill back, so that’s done and done. It just seems like we’re kinda… running out of things to do.”

    Taylor blinked, then sighed, “Yeah, I know… still, I could probably use some good quality time with dad, he’s not really… stable, right now.” she admitted.

    “Hey, better than mine.”

    “You still haven’t told me why you hate your dad so much.”

    “And probably never will. Anyway, homeward bound we are!”

    [-----]

    In a deep, underground facility overseas, a group of over a hundred stood in rank and file, at attention, waiting for their leader to speak. In front of them was a podium, behind which stood a small group of people. Gasatem, one of the most prominent capes in the Gesellschaft, stood to the side, along with Night. Fog had been injured in the battle with the Simurgh and was still in recovery, however, he would be joining their gathering as soon as he was able.

    At the head of the podium stood a man in a white coat and pants, with blond hair and blue eyes. He was rather heavy, though not absurdly so like his predecessor. He grinned, and his eyes twinkled as they gazed at the group before him.

    “Ladies und gentlemen, ve are ze Gesellschaft!” The man announced, spreading his arms wide.

    “SIEG HEIL! SIEG HEIL!”

    “With ze death of mine predecessor, ze Major, we face an uncertain future. However! I vill not leave you to face zat future alone!” He shouted, “I, am your new leader! I am Ubermensch!”

    “SIEG HEIL! SIEG HEIL!”

    “Under mine leadership, ve shall have ze var zat ze Major craved so!”

    “SIEG HEIL! SEIG HEIL! SIEG HEIL! SIEG HEIL!”

    “Under mine leadership, ve shall wipe those zat believe we are beneath them, those zat believe us to be nothing!”

    “SIEG HEIL! SEIG HEIL! SIEG HEIL! SIEG HEIL!”

    “Ve shall go to all corners of ze earth, we shall scour ze globe, ve shall leave no stone unturned! Ze American’s believe zey can be rid of our foothold? NEIN! Ze Russians? NEIN! Ze British? AUF KEINEN FALL!”

    “SIEG HEIL! SEIG HEIL! SIEG HEIL! SIEG HEIL!”

    The leader of the Gesellschaft, the cape known as Ubermensch, held a mad grin on his face as he basked in the glory of the men’s applause. He was to be the Major’s successor, a man who had served under Furer Hitler himself, a man who had lived to see the rise of parahumans and dreamed of creating the super soldiers that he had so desperately wanted during the time of the war. He had founded the Gesellschaft, guided them, given them the strength and will they needed to survive and conquer this new world they lived in.

    They would start with America, but from there, the world would soon learn who the Gesellschaft were, and nothing, not the protectorate, not the fallen, not the slaughterhouse nine, not even the Endbringers could stand in their way.

    “SIEG HEIL!”

    [-----]

    AN: Spellcheck does not like german accents. Or the german language, for that matter.
     
  21. Threadmarks: 5.8
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    One. He was only one man, and yet he and Null, and Two were the lynchpins of the Yangban, they were the ones keeping it from falling apart at the seams. In much the same way, the Yangban was what kept the entirety of the CUI from collapsing, which in turn kept China ruled under one, cohesive government.

    The parahumans under their command were loyal, some more than others, but all of them would serve the greater good of the Yangban. But those were only the Parahumans, not the mere, meek, powerless individuals that served them in a lesser capacity. One could not run an organization on the scale of the Yangban with only parahumans, especially considering how rare and often valuable they were. No, One needed more people to assist in their endeavors.

    One stood amongst in a room filled with security monitors and watched the many reports flow across the screens as the people around him read, analyzed, and responded to them. Many reports were simply check-in reports meant to ensure that the agents were uncompromised, others were more important, such as the successful acquisition of parahumans, weapons, or supplies.

    As he walked through the room, he stalled at one of the monitors and idly watched over the shoulder of the operative as they read the report. The report came from one of their operations in Brockton Bay, from agent 56. The report informed them that Agent 47 was able to keep the cape known as Carmilla from acquiring the abilities of the Butcher, but was only able to do so by killing them. As a result, Agent 47 was requesting a transfer back to Yangban headquarters in order to undergo proper training and education.

    One considered the report, inwardly approving of agent 47’s decision to request a transfer. He had been a loyal member for some time, and with One’s power, it would be a small matter of reinforcing his mental resilience to the voices of the previous Butchers. His lot in life would be a difficult one, but it would be worth it. It was worth nearly any cost to keep Carmilla from gaining even more power, especially given her most recent accomplishments.

    While his face was neutral, One felt a tingling in the back of his mind. It was something he seldom ever felt, but not something he would ever admit.

    He feared Carmilla. Not to any great extent, and not enough to warrant making any rash decisions, but he did fear her, on an instinctual level. He had watched the battle of Canberra, of the sheer… awe, of the battle between the Simurgh and Carmilla’s familiars. To many, especially those who were there to witness it themselves, it would seem as if the battle was one of clashing gods. A demon, and an angel.

    It struck fear into the most stalwart of souls, on an instinctual level that none could claim to have complete control over. It was no surprise that One felt such a thing as fear.

    He watched the report, but a moment before he was to move on, he noticed an addendum.

    “Agent, open the addendum.” One ordered, startling the man sitting at the monitor.

    The man started, having not noticed One watching over his shoulder, but complied without question. He had not yet finished analyzing the report, but he could go back and finish doing so once One was satisfied.

    One read the addendum and quickly realized that the information contained rendered the report itself invalid in its entirety. Evidently, the report had been sent late in the evening, and the addendum early the next morning.

    Agent 47 had gone missing. The window to his quarters had been shattered, and his blood had been found on the scene, as well as scorch marks on the rooftops of nearby buildings. It was possible that he had lost control, that he had been driven mad by the Butcher’s voices, yet One was more inclined to believe a different explanation.

    What information they did possess about Carmilla suggested an unpredictable, yet vengeful personality. When she had been in the presence of the Protectorate, she had nearly killed one of the wards that had apparently been responsible for her trigger event. That was should Carmilla have felt cheated at the prospect of Agent 47 killing the Butcher, it was likely she would have gone after him. While the scene described in the addendum had not matched the description of Carmilla’s previous engagements, her unpredictability was to be considered.

    It was not unlikely she was to blame. And if she had indeed succeeded in killing agent 47, then she now had access to the Butcher’s powers, as well as the voices of the previous Butchers poking and prodding at her mind, something that One doubted her own reportedly damaged psyche could cope with properly. It was not something he wanted to be left alone, and if it were possible, he did not want Carmilla to be left alive. The Yangban had the ability to control the Butcher should they acquire them, but in order to do that, they needed to kill Carmilla.

    It was not an optimal task, and it would take time to formulate a plan to do so. A simple application of extreme force would not work, as was shown to be the case in the battle with the Simurgh, as her regenerative abilities were apparently more than enough to compensate.

    One scowled. He would need to consult with Null and Two, as the current situation was not one to be pushed forward without thought and foresight.

    [-----]

    Panacea blinked. She stared at the woman before her, who waited patiently for a response to her question, one that Panacea was having difficulty wrapping her head around.

    “You… want me to fix your kidneys?” Panacea asked as she stared at the director of the PRT and Protectorate ENE.

    Emily Piggot had refused parahuman assistance for her injury for over ten years, with multiple tinkers and even Panacea herself offering to heal her. Or in the case of the tinkers, give her a technical way to circumvent it. Yet every time it was offered to her she had adamantly refused, rarely if ever giving a reason.

    “You heard me, Panacea. I’ve been stubborn for far longer than I should have been, and it’s about time I get back on my feet, so to speak.” the Director explained.

    “And… when did you want to do it? Now?” Panacea asked. In truth, this was one of the few times she was actually interested in healing someone. No, she wasn’t sure she would enjoy fixing her, but that wasn’t to say she would hate doing it either. She wouldn’t enjoy healing the director in the same way as one didn’t necessarily enjoy getting dressed in the morning, but in this case, it was more intriguing than anything else.

    The Director shrugged, “Now, in an hour, tomorrow, with whatever set-up you need, whenever you are able to.” she answered.

    Panacea paused. Thinking about it, she could reasonably do the operation anywhere and any time, as long as the Director had a place to lay down, and perhaps a change of clothes.

    “We could do it now if you had a place to sit or lay down. Fixing her kidneys would take a lot of energy, and you’d likely be exhausted afterward,” she explained.

    The director nodded and gestured for Panacea to follow. She was glad Victoria had waited in the lobby while she met with the Director, as she likely would have just made things complicated. After following her into a side room, Panacea took note of the fact that it looked an awful lot like a lounge room crossed with a hospital room, with a recliner in the corner for the director to sit.

    Panacea followed her to the corner of the room, and after pulling up a chair to the recliner, laid a hand onto the Director’s wrist. Immediately she understood what was wrong, and how to fix it. Her kidneys were damaged, with a chunk of one being almost missing completely. An old injury, given the extreme scar tissue. Beyond that, she was… overweight, to describe it properly. Panacea couldn’t fix that issue outright, but she could start the director on the path to getting it worked out, she could even give her a boost in that regard. On the upside, this would mean that she would have plenty of material to repair the damaged kidneys, the atrophied muscle tissue, and many of the other minor issues sparsely spotted throughout her body.

    Panacea sighed, “Okay, I can fix the kidneys without issue, but there’s a number of other problems as well, such as muscle atrophy, hormone imbalance, and thyroid issues as well. Do you want me to do anything about those?” she asked.

    Director Piggot frowned, before sighing and nodding, “Might as well take care of whatever you can, make more of a difference in the end.”

    Panacea nodded, “Alright then. I have permission to heal you?” she asked.

    “Yes.” The director said, and with that out of the way, Panacea set to work.

    [-----]

    “Dad, are you sure you don’t want a seventy inch, plasma TV?” Taylor asked as she sat on their couch looking through a tech magazine, trying to find out what she wanted. She was technically a millionaire now, so she could, reasonably speaking, get whatever she wanted, but at the moment, she couldn’t really see herself getting anything beyond fixing up their house and possibly putting up some new shelves.

    Alucard, on the other hand, was adamant that the money be spent, thus the tech magazine.

    “Taylor, why would we need a seventy-inch plasma TV?” he asked whilst nursing a headache. When Taylor hadn’t returned the night before after her fight with the Butcher, he’d broken out a bottle of beer. She had gotten home by the time he woke up, but she had still worried him.

    No matter how many times she did the impossible, how many times she proved that there was little if anything that could actually hurt her, Danny couldn’t help but worry about her. In his eyes, she was still his little girl, despite the fangs, red eyes, and pale skin.

    “I mean… we don’t really need one? It’d be nice to have though.” She remarked.

    “I still can’t believe you guys don’t have Netflix! How am I supposed to watch adventure time now!?”

    Taylor had been mostly ignoring Alucard’s rants as of late, as they mostly consisted of things that Earth Bet simply didn’t have access to. Like Netflix. Or Dairy Queen.

    “And that’s another thing! Dairy Queen! How the fuck did it go out of business!?”

    She’d actually had to do a bit of research on that one, as the company was apparently founded in the forties, but went out of business in the nineties due to a cape fight destroying it’s headquarters and disrupting their business. They were never able to fully recover, and while there were apparently still a handful of stores still scattered around the US, there weren’t very many.

    “Anyway. Dad, I got a text from Lisa earlier asking if she and Sabah could come over, do you have any problems with that?” she asked.

    Danny shrugged, “No objections here, just make sure Lisa doesn’t start analyzing me like last time she was over.” he noted.

    Taylor nodded and picked up her phone -- an object that admittedly still felt odd in her hands, but one that was relatively necessary to keep in contact with everyone -- and texted Lisa the okay to come over.

    Her father’s knowledge about the cape lives of Taylor, Lisa, and Sabah was fairly limited, beyond the fact that he knew their identities and powers. Sabah had at first been hesitant to let him know, but after Lisa confirmed that he wouldn’t tell anyone unless they told him to, she relented. Lisa had told Taylor that something had apparently happened to Sabah during the Endbringer fight, but not what.

    Taylor had expressed some worry, but a message that she was fine-ish was enough to keep it from getting too far.

    A few minutes after the text was sent, the doorbell rang signifying their arrival. Taylor set her magazine down and hopped off the couch, walking over too and opening the door. She expected a greeting from Lisa, or a snide comment about how she hadn’t come to see them since the Endbringer fight -- something Taylor had no control over, she hadn’t realized that the two of them were back in the bay until Lisa texted her.

    What she didn’t expect was for Sabah to rush through the open door and wrap her arms around Taylor, knocking her back a step in surprise.

    “Um…” Taylor wasn’t exactly sure what to say, and only managed to look at Lisa who, surprise, surprise, only grinned her trademark vulpine grin and shook her head.

    “... You’re alive…”

    Taylor blinked, before sighing and wrapping her arms around Sabah, “Yeah, I’m alive, takes more than a few explosions and an Endbringer to keep me down.”

    The two of them stood there for a moment before Sabah finally let go, sniffling a bit and wiping a tear from her cheek. She was smiling, a hopeful, relieved smile. It was then that Taylor noticed Sabah’s arms.

    “Uhhh, Sabah? I’m pretty sure gloves aren’t supposed to be sewn into your arms.” She noted.

    Sabah blinked, then looked down at her arms, “Ah, yeah, that was… well, just look.” With a quick motion, Taylor watched in awe as Sabah’s arms unwound into a million threads, starting at the fingers and going all the way down to the wrist, “Yeah, I uh, I second trigger, at the Endbringer battle.”

    Taylor blinked, “You… second, triggered?” she asked.

    “It… It wasn’t fun. After you… after I thought you died, I kind of… I went a bit… crazy, I guess. A bit suicidal, honestly. I pushed myself to the limit, used my threads to hold the Simurgh in place.” she explained, “I… Lisa said that a second trigger more often than not happens when you’re under extreme stress, or in a similar situation to the one, you were in when you first triggered. I… guess I was under enough stress at the time.”

    Taylor looked to Lisa, and she nodded, “Yeah, she second triggered alright. She’s able to summon threads from a pocket dimension now, of functionally infinite length too, which is convenient given the fact she’s replaced her arms with them.”

    Taylor blinked, “Sabah… what happened to your arms?” she asked.

    Sabah blushed, “Well, ah, that happened during the battle. I had wrapped my arms in the thread in order to get a better grip, and when the Simurgh broke free… well…” she gestured to her limbs, “I honestly don’t even remember feeling it happen.”

    Taylor sighed, “Well… just… don’t do that again, okay? I saved your life once already, don’t go wasting it.”

    Sabah smiled and blushed, and was about to say something else when Lisa interrupted, “Alright you two, let's actually go inside the house, then we can talk war stories.”

    The three of them shared a laugh, then walked inside.
     
  22. Threadmarks: 6.1
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    “Come on, come on! We can’t be seen in the open!” The dealer said as he waved his client into an alleyway. The two miscreants ducked back into the shadows as the sun began to set, twilight coming on to Brockton Bay, “You got the cash?” he asked.

    The client, a young woman, early twenties perhaps, nodded, pulling a wad of ones and fives out of her purse. The dealer grabbed the money, quickly counting it as he kept an eye out into the street, “Okay, it’s enough -- here, take it.” He said, pulling out a bag filled with white powder and handing it to the woman.

    The woman grabs the bag gently, carefully hiding it away in her purse. The man looks out into the street, trying to gauge if it was safe to leave their hiding spot. In the months that had passed since the death of the Simurgh, crime in Brockton had become more and more difficult to get away with, and while the dealer himself was no stranger to rough odds, he would admit that business had never been more dangerous.

    Noting the clear streets, he nodded his head and gestured for the woman to leave. She quickly ducked out of the alley, attempting to walk away as if nothing had happened. The dealer sighed, backing into the alley. He was about to turn around when he felt a cold metal object press into the back of his head.

    “I figured you lot would have learned I can see in the dark by now.” A voice said behind him.

    His face paled, and sweat formed on his brow near instantly. He put his hands in the air as he gulped, “L-look, I-I’ll do anything! J-just let me go! I’ll quit, I come clean, hell I’ll turn myself in! Just p-please don’t-”

    “Shhh, enough of that, I don’t care what you do. All I want... is what’s in your pocket.” The voice said.

    The man shivered, slowly and carefully reached down into his pocket, pulling out the money that he’d just gained -- only for the barrel of the gun pressed to the back of his head to jut forward, causing him to stumble and drop the money, “Not that, your left pocket!” the voice said. He paused, before reaching into his left pocket and pulling out his last remaining packet of cocaine. As soon as he did so, and hand snapped forward, grabbing the bag. The voice giggled, the gun lifting away from his head allowing him to slowly turn around.

    Instead of the eldritch being that had been wandering the streets that all of the remaining criminals in the city had been cowering from, he saw a teenage girl in a red jacket. No blood-soaked clothing, no glowing red eyes, no black flowing mist, just a teen in a form-fitting jacket and an old-looking revolver in one hand and a bag of coke in the other.

    “Hmm… pretty high-quality stuff, all things considered. Still,” She paused, holding the bag up and giving it a glare, “Stuff’s not exactly good for you though. And no, Alucard, I’m not going to snort it, Bloodmark’s powers give me enough of a high as is.”

    The man blinked, “W-what?”

    The teenager turned to him, “Eh? Oh, right,” She chucked the drugs over her shoulder, which, when they hit the ground, burst into flames, “Blah blah blah, don’t sell any more drugs, use your money wisely, and all that crap. Oh, and try to get your friends to quit too… or not, I’m actually running out of drug dealers…”

    The man blinked, not really sure what to think, “S-so, you’re not going to kill me?” he asked.

    The girl looked at him, wrinkling her nose, “What gave you the impression I was going to kill you?” she asked.

    He looked at her, unable to form a coherent sentence. Here was Brockton Bay’s supposedly most infamous independent, Carmilla, the one who had single-handedly put a stop to any and all organized crime in the city -- The ABB, E88, the Merchants, the Teeth, even the Yangban had come into the city to try and stake a claim, and she’d driven them all off with extreme lethal force, and to top it all off, she was the one that had killed the Simurgh. He had expected to be killed, if she found him, expected to be drained of blood and turned into one of her thralls, but… instead, all he got was a reprimand?

    “Wha- you, you’ve killed everyone else…” he muttered, his brain not really comprehending what he was experiencing.

    Carmilla just laughed, “Oh, don’t worry, I won’t eat you. I’ll just make sure you can’t sell drugs ever again!” She said, her smile gleaming.

    The man’s eyes widened, “W-what do you mean!?”

    She hummed, “Well, the easiest option would be to kneecap you, but I’ve already done that, and the guy just shot himself. Not exactly very productive. I could give you to the police, but then they’d have to deal with the paperwork of having a cape be the one to bring them a criminal… how about I just hang you upside down outside the women’s bathroom, eh?” she asked.

    “What? What is that- GRK!” he felt his throat constrict as Carmilla’s hand wrapped around it, cutting him off before he could even figure out what was going on.

    The next minute was the most terrifying moment of the drug dealer’s life, as black mist surrounded his vision, blinding him as he felt the ground beneath his feet vanish, and he was soon hanging upside down, his arms and legs bound by…

    “What the fuck…?” he said, looking down at the ahegao duct tape keeping him suspended, hanging from the ceiling of a room he didn’t recognize.

    His body twisted slowly, and with some effort, he was able to expedite the process, getting a clear look of what appeared to be a public bathroom. His body twisted slowly until he was facing one of the bathroom stalls -- which opened, revealing a well-dressed woman in a pencil skirt and business shirt.

    “Umm….” he didn’t even get to attempt to defend himself, as the woman screamed.

    [-----]

    Taylor chuckled, as she teleported to a rooftop after hearing a woman’s scream. She’d long since enjoyed the suffering of small-time criminals in such petty ways, but as time went on, there was less and less for her to do. In February, she killed the Simurgh, and by the end of April, there were no longer any villains left in the city.

    Crime was at an all-time low in Brockton Bay. Now, the only real criminals left were ones with little to nothing in the way of connections, only home-made drugs, or maybe the occasional shoplifter or speeder. No gangs, no extortion, no riots, no shootouts… nothing that got her blood pumping.

    Small businesses were thriving. Lisa’s private security company was making bank providing security for all the major corporations based in Brockton, and her primary stake in Fortress Construction meant that she had gotten around to getting some of the things in the city finished and put together, such as the Endbringer shelters. She even managed to get a start on clearing out the boat Graveyard, much to Danny’s surprise and joy. Taylor was grateful for the sentiment, but even she could only help so much. They were both millionaires, though the source of their fortunes differed.

    Parian, by contrast, now operated her own boutique, with her own clothing line selling across the country, officially being supported by Carmilla, the cape that killed the Simurgh. Everyone was doing well.

    And it was so, utterly, boring.

    “It’s been months since we killed the Butcher, and since then, nothing…” Taylor lamented.

    She let a pool of blood from beneath her, which then expand into a puddle next to her, and a figure cropped up out of it. The power itself was one of the ones she’d gotten from the fight with the Simurgh, some projection power or whatever, and combined with her dozen’s of others, she had found some rather unique uses for it. As the figure rose, up, they began to take shape -- long, wild black hair, a red coat with a suit underneath, polished black shoes, pale skin. If she hadn’t known any better, she’d have assumed it was a gender-bent version of herself.

    “It does get boring after a while, doesn’t it?” Alucard asked, his voice not sounding quite right.

    Taylor hummed, making a minor adjustment with one of her powers, “There, that ought to do it.” she said.

    “Ah, this any better?” He asked, before he changed the power himself, “Or does this turn you on more?” he said in a silky smooth, feminine voice.

    Taylor rolled her eyes, reverting the change, giving him back his deeper voice.

    “Oh, you’re no fun.”

    “It was funny the first time, got old after the fifth, and now it’s just irritating.” she shot back.

    Alucard shrugged, “Eh, can’t win ‘em all I guess. So, how’s it going?” he asked.

    She sighed, “Just like you said, boring. What exactly are you supposed to do when you have everything you’ve ever wanted?” she asked.

    And she really did have everything she ever could have wanted. In terms of money, as stated before, she was a billionaire. In terms of power… well, she had been the one to kill the Simurgh, who else on the planet could claim that they were strong enough to kill an Endbringer?

    She had everything. And it was boring.

    “Well, I used to own a country, so, yeah, I know the feeling. But then again I also had the Catholic church coming after my head, so even if there really wasn’t any way for them to kill me, they at least still tried.” He admitted.

    Taylor sighed again, “Anyway, on another subject, how are the other’s holding up?” she asked.

    Alucard shrugged, “The two heroes are the only personalities left, so we pretty much just mulched the rest. They keep to themselves for the most part. On the other side of it, Queeny’s control still needs some work, but the rest of her training is coming along rather well I’d say!” He noted.

    Taylor nodded, “What about you, Queeny, Alucard treating you okay?” she asked.

    “Meat puppets!”

    She blinked, before giving Alucard an incredulous look, who in turn was just whistling faux-innocently, “Do I want to know?” she asked

    “Eh, it’s nothing that matters, I’ve just been teaching her to use the ghouls you create. Besides, it’s not like you ever picked up on the trick,” He jibed.

    “Hey, I’ve been a vampire for, what, four months? Cut me some slack. I only know about my limitations because of what you tell me, and I only know about my strengths because I’m constantly experimenting.” she shot back.

    Alucard rolled his eyes, “Fair’s fair. Still, you’d think there would be a little more opportunity to use those powers in a city with a history of extreme cape violence.” he said dejectedly.

    Taylor sighed, “People are… scared, I guess. Faultline and her crew left the city a long time ago, and Uber and Leet probably followed them. Everyone else is either dead or working for Lisa or the Protectorate.” She explained, “Brockton Bay, the place where crime is too scared of the vampire cape to exist.”

    “They’ve finally made the connection?” he asked.

    “Took them long enough, but yeah, PHO has finally started calling me a vampire. It’s probably because several other vampire-themed capes have come and gone, but none of them really live up to the theme. And now I’m here.” she said, her grin showing off her fanged teeth.

    Alucard chuckled, “Sure did take them long enough.”

    The two of them stood there for a while, watching the sunset and the moonrise. Neither was really all to keen to go hunting, as there was nothing to hunt. Until they heard something. Both of them turned their heads to the north, toward the sound of a gun firing. It was followed by another gunshot, then another, and then, there was a flash in the distance as something exploded.

    Taylor grinned, even as Alucard’s projected body began to fall away, “Ready for some action?” She asked.

    “Oh, it’s been too long!”

    Taylor shot forward, hopping from building to building toward the sound of gunfire. As she ran, the gunfire became even louder, and so she sped up, using some of her powers to increase her speed, even to the point where she was less running and more gliding. She could have teleported, sure, but it wasn’t very often she got to use the myriad of powers available to her. In the few seconds it took her to travel across the city the sounds of combat had only escalated. When she finally reached the source of the sounds, she found herself face to face with a force she never thought she would see.

    “Nazis?” she asked, bewildered at the sight before her.

    In the streets below, the Brockton Bay Police were in a full-on shoot-out with what looked like classic World War Two Nazis, each one wearing a uniform and armband, wielding a shiny new MP40. Suffice to say, the Police were getting their assess handed to them.

    “Didn’t we run the Nazis out of here…? I mean, I’m not complaining, but I figured even Nazis weren’t that stupid.”

    Taylor shook her head, “No idea, but hey, they’re back for more, right?”

    With that said, Taylor leaped from the roof of the building she was on down to the city street below, landing in the middle of a group of Nazis who were taking cover.

    “Hello, gentlemen! Mind if I ask a few questions?” she asked, and their response was to open fire on her, pumping her body full of lead. Now, technically speaking she was immune to bullets, but she and Alucard had always found it amusing to see the reactions on people’s faces when they realized that fact. Unfortunately, the Nazis didn’t seem to get the memo that usually something would be dead unce you’d pumped a hundred rounds into it… unless they had been told about her beforehand, in which case things might actually get interesting.

    They kept on firing, reloading once they ran out of ammunition, and then continued firing. Rather than wait for them to run out of magazines, Taylor jumped forward, her open maw chomping down on one of their throats. One down, a dozen or so to go. She drew her revolvers, the body of the Nazi still in her mouth, and began firing at the others surrounding her. Several of them were cut down, but the rest managed to take cover, which in the case of the one that hid behind an open car door, did little to save him as her bullets punched through the door and blew his brains out.

    Taylor dropped the body from her mouth, blood dripping from her teeth as she grinned. The remaining Nazis cowered behind what cover they could find whilst Taylor stalked forward, hoping to whet her teeth with more Nazi blood. She was about to charge again when she felt something long and hard drive itself into her backside. She stumbled forward, looking down at the large protruding spearhead coming out the front of her chest.

    “Oh… that’s a first.” She noted.

    She grunted as she felt the spear wrench itself out of her back, dragging her backward a few feet as she stumbled to the ground. She quickly kicked herself up and turned around, eager to see just who it was who had the balls to stab her in the back. When she saw who it was, she was a bit… not disappointed, per se, but not really as enthusiastic as she could have been.

    “You pick now to show up!? I’ve been waiting for you assholes for two months!” she yelled.

    Standing before her were three individuals, all of them wearing costumes resembling the three Endbringers. She had recognized them almost immediately as the Fallen, the ones who worshipped said Endbringers. At the head of the pack, was Valefor, his costume being the only one to change dramatically since his last appearance. Instead of the classic white-colored outfit resembling the Simurgh, he was now clad in black robes, with white and grey feathers sticking out at odd angles. At his left was Eligos, with his Behemoth themed armor, though unlike his previous appearances, where he had exposed segments of skin, he now wore full plate armor, protecting his entire body. At Valefor’s right, was a cape she didn’t recognize at first, though given her skin tight outfit and the spear she held, she was likely the one who chose to emulate Leviathan out of their group. Her mask had four eyes, one on one side and three on the other, each one glowing a sickly yellow.

    Valefor tsk’d at her reaction, “Of course, the heretics would be eager to face us. You have only brought death upon you, for your crimes against the Great Ones!” He yelled. He reached up, grabbing his mask and removing it, staring directly at Taylor, “You will pay for what you have done, Carmilla.”
     
  23. Threadmarks: 6.2
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Chaos. That’s the best world Armsmaster could think of to describe the situation, given the sudden attack of both the Gesellschaft and the Fallen. It had started with a minor assault, a firefight between the BBPD and a group of unpowered Gesellschaft troops, in order to draw Carmilla’s attention. They’d succeeded, and provided an opening for Valefor to use his power on Carmilla, though the effects were yet to be seen, due to the rest of the Gesellschaft and Fallen choosing that moment to launch a full-scale attack.

    A loud boom and the shaking of the rig broke Armsmaster from his thoughts as he finished equipping his new armor, “Report, what’s the situation?” he asked into the inbuilt comms inside his helmet.

    “Gesellschaft artillery pieces are hammering the rig. PRT troopers can’t get a read on the location, and can’t engage the ones where we do know where they are due to their numbers.” Director Piggot said over the comms, “I’m trying to get in touch with other members of the PRT, as well as the other heroes, Miss Militia and Dauntless are both on the rig on their way to meet up with you but the rest were either on patrol or off duty, and I haven’t been able to reach them.”

    Armsmaster grunted, clicking the last piece of his armor into place. He grabbed his halberd, magnetically locking it into place on his back, “What is the status of the Wards?” he asked, stepping out of his lab, heading toward the exit.

    “Aegis and Vista are on the rig, waiting for you at the exit. The rest were at home.”

    “Any news on Gallant’s condition?” he asked.

    “Nothing good. He’s conscious, but any mention of Carmilla causes uncontrollable panic attacks, followed by a seizure or blackout if he isn’t calmed down. He won’t be of any use.”

    Armsmaster didn’t comment, instead choosing to continue on his current path. Long ranged and satellite communications were down, cutting them off from outside help. It probably wouldn’t be long before other heroes and Dragon realized what was happening, but the time it would take was too much to sit around and wait for reinforcements.

    He soon reached the exit, where Dauntless, Miss Militia, Aegis and Vista were all waiting for him.

    “What’s your status?” he asked them.

    “Ready and willing, but we have a problem,” Dauntless started, “The Gesellschaft have guns trained on the Rig’s exit. The second we step outside the protective field, we’ll be riddled with bullets, and that’s if the field holds at all.” The explosion caused by the artillery pieces hammering against said shields only served to punctuate his statement.

    “Vista,” He said, “Can you use your power to get us from the exit of the rig to the shore?”

    The girl nodded, “Yeah, but that’s not going to stop them from shooting at us.” she explained.

    Armsmaster nodded, “Understood. Aegis, once Vista shortens the distance, you and I will go first, assess the damage output. Dauntless, you follow with Vista, keep yourself between her and the incoming fire. Your armor is bulletproof, her’s isn’t. Miss Militia, I’d appreciate some suppressing fire if you are able.”

    The American themed cape nodded, shifting her weapon from a pistol to an LMG with a box magazine filled with what looked like rubber bullets. Armsmaster stepped forward, opening the exit door and stepping out with the others close behind him. The sight outside was startling; smoke covered the force field covering the rig, even as explosions rippled across its surface. He could see the shoreline, with dozens of people lining it, armed to the teeth. There were trucks on the beaches, a handful of them carrying missile turrets that were turned in the rig’s direction, but hadn’t yet fired.

    “Vista, if you would,” Armsmaster offered.

    The girl stepped forward, eyeing the shoreline. The PRT Headquarters building wasn’t in great shape; even from the rig, they could see the damage, blast marks on the outer walls, windows shattered on multiple floors, and people running in and out of the building on the ground floor. He looked for an ideal place to head toward and found that the best option -- while not optimal by any metric -- was a building adjacent to the PRT headquarters, the windows of the third floor having been shattered.

    “There,” he said, pointing to the location, “The building to the left of the PRT headquarters, third floor. We can use the windows to get in and provide cover.”

    Vista nodded and began using her power. The world warped; the Building got closer, without the land it was on changing its position, allowing for Aegis and Armsmaster to quickly walk forward. There were cracks of gunfire coming from the troops coming from the mainland, but none of the shots found their marks, the heroes managing to get into the building completely unscathed, without the need for Miss Militia’s suppressing fire.

    Glass crunched underneath Armsmasters boots as he climbed through the window into the building, and he did a quick sweep, trying to make sure that none of the Gesellschaft soldiers had taken up positions within it. Instead of soldiers, he found several cowering civilians; they’d likely been working their jobs, and when the Gesellschaft and Fallen attacked, had panicked. Now they were all hiding, wither in a corner of the room, underneath a desk, or anywhere they could remain safe and unobserved.

    “Stay hidden,” He called out to them even as several popped their heads up to look.

    They complied, and the heroes began moving. They found the stairwell and began heading downward. Their enemies knew that they were in the building, which had cut their time short. They needed to move quickly, and perhaps they could disable the Gesellschaft before things got worse. Before Carmilla did what she was prone to when under stress. Or bored.

    In some ways, he feared they were already too late; the fact that Valefor had gotten to her meant that they had a plan, a way to at least hurt Carmilla, if not kill her. He doubted they actually could kill her, but given that she had been the one to put an end to the Simurgh, he wouldn’t be surprised if they had been gathering resources, especially considering they had managed to form at least a partial alliance with the Gesellschaft.

    They reached the bottom floor, but before they could leave the stairwell, the door at the bottom opened, revealing a Gesellschaft soldier. He shot first, bullets flying and hitting Armsmaster, the bullets pinging off his armor harmlessly. Miss Militia was directly behind him, and after switching from her LMG to a lighter SMG, she let loose a burst of rubber bullets, causing the man who had shot at them to stumble backward. He capitalized on this, lunging forward and shoving the man through the doorway.

    There were thirteen other soldiers on the bottom floor, but Armsmaster had caught them by surprise. He drew his Halberd, using the tranquilizer darts inside to incapacitate three soldiers before the hail of bullets was on him. He dashed forward, slamming the haft of his weapon into the chest of a soldier, knocking him to the ground. There was another exchange of fire, Miss Militia adding her own into the mix. Dauntless also launched into the fray, and in less than fifteen seconds, the remaining soldiers were all disabled.

    “Everyone alright?” Armsmaster asked, receiving affirmatives from the other heroes, “Then we keep moving. We need to regroup with the other heroes, possibly find a way to contact the Chief Director.”

    The group was about to get moving again when they heard it. It was loud, ear-piercing, and reminded Armsmaster of the thing he never wanted to remember. It was a scream. They turned to look outside, and when they did, they saw it, hovering above the city.

    [-----]

    Lisa grimaced. There was a lot of gunfire coming from outside her bunker, the Gesellschaft, fighting her mercenaries. Unlike the protectorate, she didn’t tell her own men to go for non-lethal; these Neo-Nazies had invaded her city, and they had already attacked a number of other key points throughout the city. The police station was out of commission, blown apart by a tank of all things. The PRT and the Protectorate were under artillery siege, and Carmilla was nowhere to be found.

    “Enemy assault on the left flank! They’ve got a cape!” one of her mercenaries called in.

    “Who is it?” she asked, already signaling for reinforcements to make their way to the left flank.

    “Shaker, he’s using gas that eats through our armor and gas masks. The fuckers a walking mustard gas factory!”

    Gasatem
    , one of the capes that had fought at Canberra.

    “I’m sending backup,” She said, before switching channels, “Grue, you there?” she asked.

    “I’m here. We’ve been able to keep the worst of them off, what’s up?”

    “Left flank, the Gesellschaft has a cape. Gasatem, a shaker that breaths chlorine gas. They need help. I’ve already got some mercenaries headed their way, but they could use you and Regent.” she explained.

    “On my way.”

    She sighed, hoping that things weren’t going to completely fall apart. She was holding a steady defense, all things considered; they were holding out in one of the Endbringer shelters, with a perimeter set up outside. If the Gesellschaft decided to pull their artillery away from the rig, they were fucked, but fortunately, it seemed that the bastards really wanted to tear down the rig.

    She idly wondered how they had managed to get so many people and so much equipment into Brockton bay without anyone noticing. Her bets were on a teleporter, maybe a tinker who built teleporters, but while such lines of thought were important, they were secondary to more pressing issues.

    Parian had left to go find Carmilla once she had realized what was happening. She understood and had even offered to send some mercenaries with her, but she refused. She was able to take care of herself, and given how comfortable she was with her power now, Lisa was inclined to believe her. Still, it meant one less cape they had to defend the compound with, one less asset.

    She leaned back in her chair. Carmilla had gone off the radar. The Gesellschaft were attacking, they were coordinated, and they had help. Other villains? Probably. Another organization? Yes. It would have to be. The dragon slayers? They were in Canada, so that was a no. The Yangban? They’d had a presence in the city, but they were long gone now. Probably. The Fallen were the most likely, given the grudge they held against Carmilla.

    It was almost never stated outright, but no one denied it. The Fallen were planning something and had been taking their sweet time with it. Now, with the attack via the Gesellschaft, it made some sense; they would be allies of convenience, of course, more likely to stab each other in the back once that alliance was no longer convenient, but it was enough to cause significant chaos. The Fallen would put their plan into action, disabling Carmilla, and allowing the Gesellschaft to move in, distracting the others from… something.

    There was something else to all of this. The Gesellschaft were there for a reason, she knew, but she couldn’t figure out why. She needed more information.

    “Tattletale, this is Grue. We took out Gasatem, one of the mercenaries put a bullet in his head. The Gesellschaft are retreating.”

    Lisa blinked, “They’re retreating?” she asked.

    “Yeah, organized, a fighting retreat. Their shouting orders, something in German I don’t know. I think-” Grue was cut off when a loud scream came through the radio.

    Lisa wracked her brain. They weren’t retreating because of the death of Gasatem. He was one of their commanders, but that wouldn’t have been enough. No, something else was going on. The scream, what was it? Another cape?

    “Grue, what’s going on out there?”

    “Shit! Tattletale, give the order to retreat, now! It’s… I don’t know what it is, but it’s getting bigger, fast!”

    She blinked, confused. She turned on the security feed to try and get an idea of what Grue was talking about. The first camera she saw didn’t reveal anything helpful. The Gesellschaft soldiers were on the retreat, with her mercenaries pushing forward to try and press the advantage. She switched camera views to the left flank, which gave her a perfect view of the thing floating over downtown Brockton.

    Her eyes widened as she realized what she was looking at.

    “Everyone! All units, get inside the shelter! Disengage, I repeat, disengage!”

    [-----]

    Above the city of Brockton Bay, a figure floated. They were tall, well over thirty feet in height, but they were thin and looked almost emaciated. Its skin was pale, with almost no indication of bone beneath that skin regardless of its appearance. Its arms and legs were long enough that they looked unnatural even on its own body, ending in long, spear tipped fingers or feet. Its face was blank, with no futures whatsoever. No nose, mouth, ears, eyes, or hair, with the only defining characteristic being the glowing red spot in the center of its face.

    Beneath it, civilians ran. The Endbringer sirens were sounding, even as the being itself did nothing. It had appeared with a scream, the epicenter of which had shattered windows and burst the eardrums of anyone nearby.

    Valefor stood a few hundred feet from it, his hands gripping the unconscious body of Carmilla, “It has come… the fourth, the heir of the Simurgh has come!” he shouted, even as Eligos and Aquara stood warily, unsure of what to do.

    Valefor looked down at Carmilla. It was… sad, in a way, how easy it had been. He had used his power and commanded her to sleep. They could not kill her, and if they tried she would wake up and would be unlikely to fall for the same trick again. He was lucky that his plan worked, and if it hadn’t… well, he did have backup plans in place.

    But none of that mattered now. Now, a new Endbringer had appeared, from nowhere. And even as his eyes strained, looking at the glowing red eye of the newest Endbringer, he smiled.
     
  24. Threadmarks: 6.3
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    “The new Endbringer is code-named Cyclopean.” Legend started as he stood in front of a large group of capes, “He appeared Six minutes ago, and the Brockton Bay capes and several of our fastest-acting capes are currently on the attack, but we still don’t know much. Here’s what we do know; it jams all radio communication within a thousand feet, so the armbands produced by dragon are near useless unless you get outside of that range.”

    “Don’t touch him. We don’t know what causes it or what the side effects are, but if you do, he starts covering you with a red plantlike substance that grows rapidly. Healers and thinkers are already trying to figure out what it is and how to get rid of it, but until then, strikers and brutes, you’re on search and rescue.”

    “His attacks are anything but conventional, he won’t swing at you with his arms and won’t try to make any kind of additional attacks, but he’s been letting out a scream every minute since he appeared. It disorients you, knocks you off balance, and if you’re too close it can even rupture eardrums. Again, I can’t stress this enough, don’t get close to him. We’re currently treating him like behemoth as it stands, so no one goes within a hundred feet of him.”

    The crowd before him was small. Smaller than the previous groups that had fought the Endbringers that came before, but it was growing rapidly. Strider was still getting large groups of capes from different cities, and Dragon had reported a number of capes that got to antsy waiting for Strider had started moving.

    He’d already given his general Endbringer spiel, but he’d hoped that this time things would be different. When the Simurgh had attacked, the fight had had almost felt… routine. They would fight but win or lose, the city would be quarantined. Then Carmilla had done the seemingly impossible. It begged the question then, where was she?

    The Endbringer had attacked Six minutes ago, during the attack of the Gesellschaft and the Fallen, and the last place she was reported being seen was fighting the Gesellschaft soldiers in the downtown area. The Fallen had most likely after her, Legend was sure of that much, and he was honestly surprised it had taken them as long as it did to do so. It was probably a combination of gathering resources and alliances; the attack of both them and the Gesellschaft could not have been a coincidence, after all.

    Still, it made him worry. What did they have access to that would have stopped Carmilla? A power?

    He was interrupted from his thoughts as he once again heard the scream from Cyclopean, marking seven minutes since his arrival. Eidolon was hovering around him, shooting bolts of red energy at him. Alexandria was trying to attack, her own body seemingly unaffected by the red plant-like substance that covered everyone else that touched him. A number of other flyers and blasters surrounded him, but just like the others, they seemed to do very little in the way of damage, and his scream didn’t help. Flyers fell out of the air, tinker-tech fell apart, and those with sensitive hearing or who happened to be too close doubled over in pain.

    His jamming ability didn’t help either. Communication was nigh on impossible, and Dragon’s remote-controlled suits seemed to collapse when they got too close, resulting in a number of problems. Still, now that more capes had gone off to fight, he figured that they might be able to do something. On the other hand… no Endbringer had ever been as passive as Cyclopean, with no confirmed deaths and the only injuries being burst eardrums and the red plants, and he was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    [-----]

    Parian ran through the streets, trying to put as much distance between herself and the new Endbringer as possible. She’d left Tattletales compound almost as soon as the attack started, hoping to find Carmilla and put an end to all of it. Then, the Endbringer had attacked, throwing yet another wrench into things. She’d gotten to the edge of the city, toward the PRT headquarters when she ran into the Gesellschaft line.

    Dozens, maybe even a couple hundred of them were camped within the city streets. There were vehicles traveling along the street ferrying men and supplies, with a number of them heading toward the Endbringer.

    She wondered if they would still be willing to adhere to the Endbringer truce, but shot the idea down, considering they were working alongside the Fallen, a small group of which she spotted in front of their own tent. Three cultist-looking people wearing reddish-brown robes, and a Gesellschaft officer wearing what appeared to be an old-style SS uniform.

    It was impossible to tell what was going on, and the screaming didn’t help matters. The Enbringer’s scream echoed throughout the city, drawing the attention of every soldier when it did so. Parian prepared to turn around and double back when she spotted something; five people, Armsmaster, Miss Militia, Dauntless, Aegis, and Vista, all restrained by the Gesellschaft, guns pointed to their heads. Considering they had the PRT building surrounded, and from what she had heard earlier had been bombarding the rig just before the Endbringer showed up, it appeared that the Heroes had tried to make a break for it only to end up caught.

    Grimacing, she walked along the edge of the encampment, toward the heroes. She managed to get a hundred feet from them, still unseen, but unable to get any closer without giving away were position. She was able to get a closer look at the heroes and saw that they were in pretty rough shape. Miss Militia was unconscious, back against a truck's tire. Aegis was wounded, his chest riddled with bullet holes, his own power being the only reason he was still alive. Armsmaster and Dauntless both had dents and scratches in their armor where it had been hit by bullets, and Armsmasters armor seemed to be locked in place, given the rigid position he was sitting in. Only Vista seemed completely unscathed, but even she wasn’t in a good spot, her arms bound behind her and a blindfold put over her eyes.

    Letting loose one of her near-invisible threads, Parian slowly extended it forward. Carefully, she held the thread above the heads of the guards before lowering it down where the heroes were, wrapping it around their bindings. At the same time, she took several threads and circled the guards with them, ready to be pulled tight at a moment's notice. Once everything was ready, she went into action.

    Aegis, Vista, and Dauntless’ bonds were cut, and the guards were constrained in many layers of threading almost instantly. The heroes jumped up, with Aegis flying over to Miss Militia and Dauntless running straight to Armsmaster in order to unlock his armor. Parian kept an Eye out as best she could, and ended up accidentally drawing the attention of several other soldiers. Frowning, she decided to do something about them.

    She used several strings at once to lift the guns out of the holsters and grips of the guards she had incapacitated, though, in the case of one of them that had a particularly strong grip, she ended up tying several strings around his fingers, to the point where they drew blood, prying them off the weapon. Six SMG’s, six pistols, all fully loaded as far as she was aware.

    The soldiers were still headed toward the heroes, but before they could start raising their weapons, Parian raised her own, using the strings to aim with incredible accuracy by drawing a straight line from the gun barrel to the target, and then pulled the triggers. All at once, the street was filled with bullets.

    Soldiers fell, blood flowing from open wounds as multiple rounds tore into them. She wasn’t sure how many there were at first, but after the first round of shooting, she saw eight bodies on the ground. She felt bile begin to rise in her throat; she had killed people. She had killed eight people in almost an instant.

    She shook her head. Carmilla would have done the same in a heartbeat, especially now that an army had invaded her city. Tattletale had already told her own mercenaries and the capes she hired to not hold back, to go for kill shots. Parian was only doing just that, only for her this was the first time she had killed someone. She’d seen plenty of people die, the Simurgh fight being one where she had witness dozens if not hundreds of deaths, but it felt different knowing that those people were now dead because of her direct actions.

    She swallowed the bile rising in her throat and took a deep breath, she could reconcile her own feelings on the matter later, once the city wasn’t in danger of being destroyed anymore.

    She kept an eye on where the soldiers had come from; the shots had attracted attention, she could tell due to the shouts in german and the sounds of vehicles coming closer. She looked around, before breaking cover and running toward the heroes, bringing the guns with her floating by the strings holding them. The heroes saw her coming, just as Armsmaster managed to unlock his suit with the help of Dauntless.

    “Armsmaster.” She said, addressing the Leader of the protectorate.

    The man grunted as he stood up, “Parian. Thank you for your assistance, though…” He looked toward the bodies lying in the street, “Under different circumstances, I believe this conversation would be going a different direction.”

    Parian shrugged, “The cities being invaded by the Fallen and the Gesellschaft, and a new Endbringer just showed up. I don’t think now is really the time to argue about the morality of whether or not killing is an option at this point.”

    “The Endbringer truce-” He started, but this time Dauntless interrupted him.

    “Is shot to hell,” Dauntless said, “They landed on American soil, capes or not, this is a foreign invasion. If the Endbringer doesn’t kill us all, I don’t see a way the President doesn’t call this a declaration of war. Now’s not the time to get picky about laws right now.”

    “I agree.” Aegis said, walking up with a now dazed but awake Miss Militia, “Besides, Carmilla would have done the same thing, if not worse. Where even is she by the way?” he said, looking toward Parian.

    She shook her head, “I have no idea. I was hoping you would have some idea where she might be.”

    “The last we heard was that she was under attack by Fallen Capes in the downtown area,” Dauntless explained, “No idea what’s going on there, but it’s worrying if she’s not already fighting-”

    Dauntless was cut off by the loud screaming of the Endbringer, causing everyone to wince. Parian wondered silently if that scream had been louder than the one before it.

    “Regardless, we need to find her. She’s our best shot at this.” Parian said, before looking down the street, seeing a number of Gesellschaft soldiers coming around the corner. She held her guns out from around the corner of a building and started firing without the deadly accuracy from before, causing several of them to scatter behind cover rather than fall to the ground with holes in their chests.

    “They’re coming, We need to move,” She said, turning back to the heroes. She paused at the looks they were giving her, “What?”

    “When did you become so fucking scary?” Vista asked.

    [-----]

    “So… you know how to play cards?”

    [Cards?]

    “Yeah, I figured. They’re these little pieces of cardboard that people put symbols on, there’s a bunch of games people play with them; Blackjack, go Fish, Strip poker, the list goes on.”

    [Strip Poker?]

    “Oh, well, it’s a bit of a subset of poker. See, instead of betting chips, they bet clothing, and usually, there’s alcohol involved. Or weed, the best ones have weed. Anyway, once enough clothing is lost, and everyone is either mostly or all naked, it usually devolves into a-”

    “Bwah?” Taylor said out loud, blinking as she looked up at the empty white sky.

    “Oh! Hey! Your awake… sorta.”

    [Host!]

    Taylor blinked again, looking around at her surroundings. The last she remembered, she was looking Valefor in the eye, then he said something and… she couldn’t actually remember what he said. She found herself in a mostly empty white plane, with the exception of two chairs and a table, both of which were filled. Alucard sat in one of them, and someone else sat in the other.

    Taylor swore the other person was her clone, but… with pitch-black eyes, instead of her normal brown.

    “Alucard? Who… who’s this?” she asked.

    The black-eyed version of herself smiled, throwing her hands up in the air, [Queenie!] she said, though without her mouth moving and the sound seeming to come from within her own head.

    “Wait… you're my power?” she asked aloud, more as a confirmation than anything else. Her look-alike nodded furiously.

    “Oh yeah, you two never did meet face to face didja?” Alucard asked, “Come on, pull up a chair, I was just about to teach Queenie here how to play strip poker.”

    Taylor raised an eyebrow, “Alucard. Just… I mean, I get it, but no. I already have you perving on me when I take a shower, I don’t need you to go corrupting my power do the same thing.”

    “You do realize you don’t need to take showers now, right?” Alucard asked.

    [DATA: CLEAN] Queenie said, offering a huge smile.

    “Huh… I was wondering why I never smelled sweaty,” she noted to herself.

    Alucard shrugged, “Well, that was just your Vampirism, I was more referring to the dirt, blood, ashes, and stuff like that.”

    Taylor hummed, “Yeah, I guess that’s true. Still… where are we?”

    “This, Tay-Tay, is your brain!” Alucard said, widening his arms out, “It is remarkably empty. You should really start filling it with stuff, maybe a couch, TV, and a wine bar.”

    “Why would I need a wine bar inside my brain?”

    “I dunno, wine bars are cool.”

    [Wine bar?]

    “Later,” Taylor said before Alucard could extrapolate, “Look… as much as I’d love to stay, and as much as I agree I do need to add some interior decorating, I kind of have some stupid cultists to kill.”

    “Tautology there. Anyway, I think that Valefor guy may have bamboozled you there, something about commanding you to sleep…”

    “Master powers?” Taylor asked, earning a shrug from Alucard, “Queenie, do we have anything that helps us resist Valefor's powers?”

    Queenie put a finger to her chin, before shaking her head, [Nope].

    Taylor sighed, “So how exactly do I wake up?” she asked.

    Alucard shrugged, “Wait till someone wakes you up I’d guess. You don’t really have anything besides your brute powers that work in your sleep anyway.”

    Taylor sighed, walking up to the table. A chair appeared before her, and she sat down, “Alright… we’ll play some poker.”

    Alucard grinned.

    Not strip poker. I’m keeping my clothes on for the moment.”

    “Eh, worth a shot.”
     
  25. Threadmarks: 6.4
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Six figures stood inside the living room of a rural homestead, two wearing black SS styled uniforms, while another wore a white suit with two silver swastika’s pinned to his collar. These were Ubermensch and his bodyguards. Across from him were a small group of people hailing from the Mathers branch of the fallen family. Valefor, of course, though Ubermensch was careful not to look him directly in the eye. An unnamed woman that he had never heard of -- though he would still be wary of her -- and an older woman with graying hair, Mama Mathers herself.

    “Und you are vithout doubt that your plan shall vork, Madam Mathers?” Ubermensch asked as he sat across from the grey-clad woman.

    She narrowed her eyes at him, “It either will, or it will not, and I very much doubt you have a better plan.”

    Ubermensch grinned, “Ah, but you see, ve do have a plan! One zat does not rely on guessing games. You are avare of ze Catholic Church, are you not?” he asked.

    The woman narrowed her eyes, “I am. There are a group of capes that… are opposed to us, that serve under them. They have caused great pain to us and the other families.”

    “As is zeir vant to do so. However, zey may be ze only ones capable of procuring a way to defeat Carmilla. As I am sure you are avare, her power is almost unlike any zat have ever come before it, save one exception, und even she is confined to ze Birdcage.” He explained, “Ve know nothing of powers, und even amongst ze Gesellschaft, ve are only beginning to understand how zey vork. Although many individuals have dismissed the idea, we believe there may be a… Spiritual, element to powers. After all, many such powers have allowed zose to be brought back from ze dead, or of zose long passed to speak from zeir graves. Ve rule out nothing, not even ze impossible.”

    “You believe they can kill the godslayer?” The woman asked, her eyes widening slightly.

    He nodded, “If not kill her outright, zey may very vell have a way to injure her. Still, zis is but one of our plans. It is, however, ze one that we believe has not yet been tried. Weapons fire does nothing to her, explosives that should not have left a body do nothing to her, an Endbringer has only appeared to make her stronger.”

    There was a tense silence between the two as the idea sank in. Ubermensch was quiet, though the grin that he wore never left his face, while the members of the Mathers family were eerily quiet, likely so in thought.

    “You make such claims. Yet, why seek us out if you already have a plan in place?” Mama Mathers asked.

    Ubermensch chuckled, “You see, ze question of vhether or not it vould vork is one thing, but how are ve supposed to enact our plans vithout getting close? I had been hoping zat ze Fallen -- your branch of ze family in particular -- vould be vorking toward something. I vas right, of course.”

    “What is your point?”

    “Vell, I vish to… cooperate. Ve both have reasons to remove Carmilla, und although zey are vildly different, zey align all ze same. Our proposal is as such; Ze Gesellschaft shall assault ze city of Brockton Bay, using our teleporters and stealth technology to get in as close as is possible. Ze branch families vould provide a… temporary distraction, in order for us to land ze bulk of our formations. Ve already have many troops in place to do zis vith or vithout your assistance. After ve have landed, Valefor would enact his plan on Carmilla, potentially incapacitating her. However, instead of burying her of throwing her into ze ocean, you vill instead bring her to us. Ve shall use ze relics acquired from ze church to kill her. Aftervords, ve vill retreat, taking our troops and any Fallen zat vish to come vith us. Zey vill be kept safe and sound, I assure you.”

    The plan was a fairly simple one, but it had a handful of points where it could break. Valefor’s power might not work, in which case, the Gesellschaft would enact their backup plan, which would result in a more… direct form of assault using the relics. It would be by far more difficult, but it was still an option, one that they would go with if the Mathers family did not agree.

    “Am I to assume you have more in mind? Surely there are more motives than altruism toward us.”

    Ubermensch raised his hands in surrender, “Guilty as charged, of course. Carmilla has presented us vith a problem zat ve cannot leave unaddressed. Ze Gesellschaft no longer has a strong foothold vithin ze United States, and although ve do have a number of individual parahumans in the country, ze Eighty-Eighth Empire vas our primary stronghold. Vithout it, ve do not have a vay to influence ze country to any meaningful degree. Removing Carmilla vould serve ze dual purpose of claiming revenge for zose zat she killed, und removing a potential threat to our future operations.” he explained.

    Madam Mather’s nodded in understanding, “You have our support, then, provided that you do not turn on us the moment she is dead.”

    Ubermensch smiled, “To our future alliance, und ze death of Carmilla!”

    [-----]

    Ubermensch frowned as he looked up at the Endbringer that had made landfall on Brockton Bay. Everything had been going… partially according to plan, up until it had shown up. The artillery had been bombarding the Protectorate Rig, and in just a few minutes more would have collapsed the shield and allowed his men to get inside. Unfortunately, the heroes had proved rather troublesome, managing to get out and cause quite the kerfuffle.

    They were still captured, of course, but only after the Endbringer had shown up. He’d gotten a call from Valefor that his plan had worked, and he would be heading toward him with Carmilla in tow, but he feared the Fallen may have decided to forego their alliance given the presence of the Endbringer.

    That was what it all hinged on, really; this new Endbringer.

    “You aren’t happy with the arrival of the Fourth.” Mama Mathers said, the two of them sitting inside of his command tent. His bodyguards were absent, off organizing the troops and reorganizing.

    “‘Happy’ does not particularly describe my mood, no. I am capable of vorking vith zis, though. It vill not be easy, but it vill be manageable.” Ubermensch explained. In truth, the arrival of an Endbringer was something he hadn’t prepared for specifically, but it wasn’t something he was completely caught off guard by.

    The Gesellschaft had fought Endbringers before, most recently the Simurgh, in Canberra. They knew of the truce, and how truly flimsy it was. The only reason it was technically still in place was due to Alexandria and Eidolon reinforcing it, or the Endbringers themselves killing anyone that did something stupid. He wondered if the truce would finally collapse with the arrival of the fourth Endbringer, especially considering that it had landed on top of a warzone.

    “I do not believe zis fight will end in our favor, zerefor, once your son retrieves Carmilla, ve vill end her quickly und zen retreat, I had hoped to establish a more permanent beachhead here, but it seems as though zat vill not happen.” He finished.

    Mathers nodded, “I believe we are agreed on that. It would be a shame if you were to go and fight the Fourth… our alliance would not survive very long if you did.”

    Ubermensch was not convinced their alliance would survive the next hour, but he neglected to mention the thought. He did not have perfect control over his soldiers and capes; if or when he gave the order to retreat, there would be those that stayed to try and fight the Endbringer. Night and Fog wouldn’t, they were too loyal, but Gasatem might… if he was still alive, that was. Ubermensch had not received a report from him since the Endbringer had appeared, which was… worrying.

    Still, he would not dwell on the subject. Even if Gasatem had perished, there were others that could and would replace him.

    He was interrupted from his thoughts by the Endbringer’s scream once again. It was louder than it had been at first, signaling that it was either getting closer, or the scream was just getting louder. Either way, that was not ideal. He idly wondered if he would be able to kill Mama Mathers before she could use her own powers on him, before dismissing the idea.

    The two had been interacting rather thoroughly, and it would be easy for her to disturb his own senses. Not to say he couldn't still kill her, but it would be far more difficult and his own power would only help him so much in that situation. He was about to begin the conversation again when the tent flap was opened, and one of his officers came in, followed by three Fallen cultists.

    “Report. Vhat is going out zere?” he asked his officer.

    “Ubermensch, sir, ze Endbringer is floating above Downtown Brockton Bay, und has cut off Valefor und his allies from returning to us. Shall ve send a retrieval squadron?” The man said, his voice short and clipped. His accent was just as thick as Ubermensch’s own, though less refined and rawer, it was likely he was only speaking English at all for the benefit of the Fallen in the room.

    Ubermensch sighed, tilting his head, “Madam Mathers, vould your son be able to return on his own, or vould it be prudent to send somevone to escort him?”

    Mathers sighed, “As much as I do adore my son, he has his flaws. An escort would do him good, and perhaps prevent him from acting rashly, if he has not done so already.”

    Ubermensch nodded, “Very vell, trooper, please organize an escort for Valefor und his companions. Take two parahuman’s vith you, Knochen und Zehnten shall provide adequate reinforcement.”

    The officer nodded, before gesturing to the three cultists and leaving the tent, the robed men following close behind. Ubermensch hoped silently that Valefor had not ruined the plan and allowed Carmilla to awake somehow, but even he knew that it was unlikely it had gone off without a hitch. The Endbringer arriving only emphasized that point.

    The Endbringer screamed again, and Ubermensch frowned. The screams were getting louder, regardless of the distance between himself and the Endbringer. He did not wish to get caught between the monster and its prey and would fight his way out if need be, but at the moment he did not wish to get caught in a battle with Mama Mathers. Her hallucinations were not something that he was fond of fighting, and he would avoid them at all costs if he could help it.

    Gunfire burst from a ways off. This would not have been an issue, normally; he was in a warzone, his soldiers were fighting, the locals were resisting. This round of gunfire was different however, a dozen shots all fired at once, six from Luger pistols, six from MP-40 SMGs. He smiled, knowing that something had happened. He mentally listed off the number of capes in Brockton Bay that would be capable of stealing twelve of his guns and firing all of them at once but found himself drawing a blank.

    He started laughing, standing up, “Forgive me Madam, but something interesting has just taken place, and I wish to investigate, you may remain here, you may follow, do whatever you wish.” he explained, before leaving the tent without waiting for a response.

    More gunfire, the same as before. A dozen shots, all at once. Something interesting had happened indeed.

    [-----]

    Parian ran with the heroes, the group making their way deeper into the city and toward the Endbringer. If Carmilla was anywhere, she would be as close as she could get to the center of the fight. Armsmaster took the lead, with the Wards and Parian behind him with Miss Militia and Dauntless bringing up the rear. Parian’s threads floated above them, the guns seemingly floating mid-air.

    As they ran, they spotted several flyers darting around where the Endbringer was, letting off potshots in hopes of damaging it, but seeming to almost fall out of the sky whenever it screamed. Eventually, they ended up on a road that led directly to the Endbringer, and it was then that Parian realized that they were closer than they had initially thought.

    They stood just over a thousand feet away by Parian’s guessing, with the Endbringer floating roughly ten feet in the air. The ground beneath the Endbringer had changed, a red mossy substance coating the ground within fifty feet of it. The sides of the buildings were covered with the moss as well, and she could see a red haze floating in the area.

    “Whatever’s growing underneath it is giving off spores,” Armsmaster announced, preempting her internal question of just what the haze was.

    “We need to get moving. Whatever it is, it’s spreading, and quickly. We need to find Carmilla.” Aegis said, voicing Parian’s own thoughts.

    “Agreed. Let’s move.” She said, the group moving forward almost immediately.

    The group headed in the opposite direction of the Endbringer, and soon found themselves greeted by a group of flyers headed their way; Heroes Parian didn’t recognize, likely from out of state.

    “Armsmaster? Leader of the local Protectorate?” one of the capes asked, a woman in a blue spandex outfit with a cape and domino mask, though she lacked a sleeve up to her right elbow, exposing her skin.

    Armsmaster nodded, “Yes, where are the coordinators? I can’t get a message to Dragon, or anyone else for that matter.”

    The woman shook her head, “That’s the problem. Cyclopean is jamming all communication, Legend is trying to coordinate, but its range is growing. It’s getting harder to communicate, and things are falling apart,” She pointed toward the ground underneath the Endbringer, “Whatever that red stuff is, it’s starting to spontaneously grow on anyone that gets too close. The only one it doesn't seem to work on is Alexandria. Even Eidolon had some of the stuff on him before he burned it off.”

    “What does it do?” Dauntless asked.

    The woman grimaced, “It turns people into zombies.” she said, making everyone's stomach sink, “It grows fast, and eventually it’ll cover you entirely. Your vitals go down, and then everything stops. Then your body gets back up and starts attacking people, spreading the stuff. The only thing that seems to get rid of the stuff is amputation,” She gestured to her exposed arm, “Had to cut off my arm, got Panacea to regrow it… fucking starving though.”

    Aegis sighed, “So, what do we do?” he asked.

    She shrugged, “If any of you are blasters, blast the damn thing. Everyone else is stuck on search and rescue, getting the civilians out of the way before they can get covered by the stuff.”

    Before any more questions could be asked, the woman started flying up toward Cyclopean, “Keep heading out if you want to try and get into contact with Legend or Dragon! Last I checked the radio jamming cleared up at about two thousand feet!” she said, before flying off, a blue glow emitting from her hand as she shot a beam of energy toward the Endbringer.

    Armsmaster grimaced, “Let’s move, the sooner we can get into contact with Dragon, the sooner we can get eyes above the city and find where Carmilla is.”

    The group started moving again, running toward the perimeter where the radio jamming cleared up. They passed several more capes running toward the Endbringer, and several more flying passed them, some people clutching bleeding, severed limbs, or carrying people with arms covered in the red moss that was coming from the Endbringer.

    Parian almost tripped as she saw one pair of people; a flyer and what looked like a Case 53, someone with scales instead of skin and a lizard-like snout. One of the Case 53’s arms was covered in red moss, and it looked like it was steadily crawling up toward his shoulder. She almost tripped when she realized that the red moss, much like it was and the center of the battlefield, was still giving off a red haze.

    “Armsmaster!” she yelled, causing him to halt in his tracks and turn toward her, “The moss! It’s still giving off spores, the people that are getting covered in them, they're just spreading more of it!”

    Vista gasped, while Armsmaster and Dauntless both grit their teeth.

    “We keep moving. Communications are still down, I’ll inform Dragon as soon as possible.”

    They kept running, but soon, Armsmaster stopped, “Dragon, do you copy?” he asked, “The moss, it’s spreading. The capes that are covered in it, they’re bringing the spores with them, spreading it into medical tents, you need to isolate it-” he was cut off by a scream.

    It wasn’t one of the Endbringers screams, no, this was deeper, more animal-like, and it came from the wrong direction, likely toward where the medical tents would have been set up.

    The group exchanged glances, “We need to move,” Parian said, and so they did, sprinting toward the source of the scream.

    [-----]

    Panacea frowned as she regrew yet another limb, the moss-covered one being carried off by someone wearing a hazmat suit and being thrown into a pile where it would be incinerated as soon as possible. Capes kept coming back, some almost completely covered in the moss. Most didn’t even realize how much they had on them. If it was a small patch or isolated to a limb, it was something she could fix, or at least keep from spreading by detaching the limb. If they were almost completely covered, though… she’d seen several people bawling their eyes out, even as the moss began crawling up their necks.

    Most either wanted to go out fighting, heading back out toward the Endbringer to do just that or wanted it to be over quickly. Panacea never dealt with any of those, but she saw several volunteers with thousand-yard stares. Medically assisted suicide wasn’t something that was allowed in the united states regularly, but during an Endbringer attack, and considering the circumstances of Cyclopean, many people didn’t want to imagine themselves coming back after death to attack their fellow man.

    She heard the scream coming from the Endbringer and grimaced. Losing capes was something that happened at every fight, but it was never this… personal. Everyone who died either committed suicide medically or via Endbringer. There were a few who were claimed by the red moss early on, who came back and attacked the people around them, but they were put down almost immediately, usually by villains.

    She was about to call out for the next person when she heard a loud, roaring scream, followed by shouts of alarm and the sounds of gunfire. She jumped and ran to the exit of the tent, and she almost went bug-eyed by what she saw.

    The limbs and bodies that had been covered in red moss had been gathered together and were being thrown into a pit to be burned, but realistically they were acquiring more moss than they could burn off, and to many people, it just looked like a pile of moss that wasn’t doing anything, so it was quickly forgotten about. Unfortunately, something in the pile had started moving.

    It stood over ten feet tall, hunched, and with too many limbs. Its head was disproportionate to the rest of its body, its mouth opening up toward the center of it’s ‘torso’, where she could see its mouth was lined with dozens of teeth that looked like they’d been made from broken, human bones. It was a mass of red moss and vines, with a red haze surrounding it.

    It stood, pushing itself on its limbs up another three feet, and roared.
     
  26. Threadmarks: 6.5
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Dragon soared over Brockton Bay, trying to get a good look at the battlefield below. Her jamming range of Cyclopean was getting larger by the minute, and if she got caught in it she would lose connection to the suit, plummeting out of the air and have to send in a new suit, which would take time they didn’t have. They needed a way to do damage to the Endbringer, but nothing they did worked. Legends beams of energy did little more than scratch it’s flesh, and Alexandria hadn’t succeeded in doing anything more than putting a dent into its flesh which quickly healed.

    She couldn’t do anything to help, and it was grating her. She couldn’t get close, she could help coordinate, and the Endbringer Truce, as likely to fall apart in the coming minutes as it was, was preventing her from going after the Gesellschaft. She couldn’t go after them, not until she was given the go-ahead by the Protectorate. It irked her and made her wish she could do something more.

    At the same time, she was also trying to get into contact with Carmilla. Brockton Bay was under attack on two separate fronts, and the Vampire cape was nowhere to be found, which was worrying in and of itself. It was about that time when she had got Armsmaster's call, which had been a breath of fresh air knowing that he was alive and well. She hadn’t known if he was still alive, as she’d been unable to get a message to him, but hearing his voice helped.

    “Dragon, do you copy?”

    “Colin! Where are you?” she asked.

    “The moss, it’s spreading. The capes that are covered in it, they’re bringing the spores with them, spreading it into medical tents, you need to isolate it-” he was cut off by a scream, and Dragon looked in the direction from where it had come and almost did a double-take.

    The creature, whatever it was, appeared to be made from the same moss that had been growing around the Endbringer and causing capes to be covered in it, some cutting off their own limbs to avoid it, and those unlucky enough to be covered in it dying before coming back and attacking those around them.

    “Dragon, we’re moving toward the medical tents. What’s going on?” he asked.

    “The moss, whatever it is, its come together to form… something, a construct of some kind, it’s attacking the medical tents.” she relayed, already flying in the direction of the creature.

    “Understood. Myself, Dauntless, Miss Militia, Aegis, and Vista, as well as Parian, are moving to intercept.”

    “Understood, I’m making my way there now, I’ll meet up with you.”

    “Understood.”

    Their dialogue was cut off from there, with Dragon speeding toward the direction of the medical tents. They were set up in a very haphazard fashion, a telltale sign of them being set up with speed being favored over efficiency. The monster was moving rather quickly despite its size, with more of it becoming visible as it crawled its way out of the pile of moss and bodies. When she got close, roughly three hundred feet away, Dragon began firing her main weapons, micro-missile batteries, and pulse-weapons. The weapons tore at the creature's flesh, drawing its attention away from the fleeing civilians and volunteers.

    Dragon landed hard, the ground underneath her cracking underneath the weight of the suit. She never stopped firing, even as the creature started making its way toward her. It leaped upward, bringing down one long limb in a clawing motion to try and attack her, but she jumped back to avoid the strike. The creature was massive, but slow, much like Behemoth or some of the monsters that Nilbog had conjured up. It wasn’t nearly as deceptively fast as something like Leviathan or the Simurgh had been.

    She spotted Armsmaster and his group coming up behind it, Miss Militia carrying a loaded RPG launcher and Parian carrying several weapons taken from the Gesellschaft. The two of them began firing, the bullets from Parian’s weapons having deadly accuracy, targeting limbs in an effort to damage them, while Miss Militia’s rockets blew off chunks of flesh.

    Armsmaster was moving forward, his suit sealed off completely in an effort to combat the moss. His Halberd crackled with electrical energy as he swung at one of the creature's limbs, butting through it and knocking it off balance. Vista worked with him to help him get out of the creature's attack range, allowing Miss Militia to fire another salvo. Parian had run out of bullets but was already putting her nigh-on infinite threads to good use, tying up the creature in places, keeping it from moving.

    The beast roared, and trying to move to attack the heroes, but couldn’t move due to the threads keeping it in place, and received a rocket to the mouth for its trouble. It wasn’t dead, but it was wounded, allowing Armsmaster to move in, decapitating the creature. With its head removed, the rest of the body appeared to collapse.

    Dragon turned toward Armsmaster, “You’re alive.” she noted.

    He nodded, “Yes. How long was this thing attacking, and what is it?” he asked.

    “I don’t know. It’s likely it only just formed, due to the lack of destruction before we arrived, as for what it is though, I can only guess it’s a side effect of Cyclopean’s moss, creating these things if enough of it is gathered in one place.” She offered, “I have a suit with specialized incendiary weapons on its way now, but it’s slow, and probably won’t be here until after the battle. Until then, we need to focus on making sure this doesn’t happen again.”

    Armsmaster nodded, “Agreed, we can’t afford a dozen of these running around.”

    The two were interrupted from their musings when Parian spoke up, “Hey, uh, Dragon, do you have any idea where Carmilla is?”

    Dragon shook her suits head, “No, which is worrying. I’ve been flying above the battlefield, but haven’t been able to spot her.”

    Parian cursed under her breath, a sentiment most of those present shared. The Endbringer fight was dragging on. At the rate things were going, there was a distinct possibility that Brockton Bay would end up covered in moss if they couldn’t find a way to drive Cyclopean off, or if Scion didn’t show.

    “Any word on Scion?” Vista asked.

    “He was last seen in Afghanistan, flying east. We’ve no idea where he is now, so it might be an hour before he arrives. Best estimates put him at fifteen minutes if he’s taking the long way around, general says it’s probably closer to thirty.” Dragon explained.

    So they likely wouldn’t be getting any help from Scion either.

    “We need to find Carmilla.” Dauntless said, “Regardless of what you think of her, she was the one to put down the Simurgh. If anyone can put this new one down, or drive it off even, she can.”

    Dragon nodded silently, “I’ll fly up again, try and get a birds-eye view of the city. Armsmaster, I’ll inform you if I spot anything, try to stay out of Cyclopean’s jamming range until then.”

    “Will do. We’ll keep looking on the ground.” He responded.

    [-----]

    Valefor laughed, even as he stumbled in the rough direction of the new Endbringer. A new Endbringer, one that would avenge The Simurgh, he could hardly contain himself. He dragged Carmilla, trying to stay out of sight. He’d sent Eligos and Aquara to meet the Gesellschaft and Mama Mathers, to inform them that the plan had changed.

    He would offer up Carmilla to the Fourth, as a sacrifice. Even she would not be able to survive the direct attention of a new Endbringer. He scratched his neck, an itch that didn’t seem to go away. He looked down at his hand and saw the red moss that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, growing on the tips of his fingers. No matter, it was the same moss that was growing beneath the new Endbringer, he was merely blessed, just as he should be, as it’s new herald.

    He smiled and found himself less than a hundred feet away from the Endbringer. It screamed, causing Valefor to wince. He felt a wet sensation trickling from his ears, but ignored it. He walked out from the Alleyway where he had been standing, dragging Carmilla’s body with him. He moved toward the Endbringer as fast as he could, a determined smile on his face. His feet left the pavement, touching onto the moss as he dragged Carmilla across it. He dragged her in front of him, and then looked up and the Endbringer, it’s one bright eye smiling down at him.

    “I bring a sacrifice!” He shouted, even as he could barely hear his own voice, “This bitch! She was the one who killed your sister! I bring you Vengeance!”

    The Endbringer, for the first time since it had arrived, moved. Blasters and tinkers fired at it, trying to do damage, Alexandria flew in, grasping at the Endbringer’s arm as it moved the limb forward, its fingers dangling over Carmilla’s body. Valefor grinned maniacally, but before he could witness the Endbringer’s revenge, he felt someone tackle him to the ground.

    He looked at the offender, A man almost entirely covered in red moss, with only the left side of his face left exposed, a green lensed mask covering his eyes. He screamed, punching Valefor. He grunted, kicking the hero off of him and returning the favor, rolling in the moss as he found himself on top of the hero, beating the mans face in. Valefor’s hands ended up covered in blood as the moss finally covered the mans face, his muscles going slack.

    Valefor laughed, sitting upright and looking toward Carmilla. The Endbringer’s fingers had begun to grow, extending in a sickening fashion down toward Carmilla, wrapping around her body and lifting her upward.

    [-----]

    Ubermensch was not a proud man, per se. He felt pride, of course, as all men did, but he felt no shame it cutting his losses and calling for a retreat, nor did he feel sickened by ordering for his men to turn on the Fallen as he witnessed what Valefor had just done. He brought a hand to his earpiece to give the order but cursed as he remembered the jamming range of the new Endbringer.

    He fell back, running to escape the jamming range. Once he had reached roughly three thousand feet away from the Endbringer, he managed to get a signal through.

    “All units, fall back. Execute any members of ze fallen you come across, zey have betrayed us. Night, Fog, take care of Madam Mathers. Knochen und Zehnten, retreat to our prepared positions und retrieve ze Artifacts, zen make your vay to ze Medhall building und meet up vith me. Ve cannot allow Carmilla to survive zis day!” He ordered, getting confirmation from the capes.

    “Gasatem, are you zere?” he asked, receiving no response, “Verdammt. Vell, I suppose if you vant something done right, you must do it yourself.”

    He moved, making his way to the aforementioned Medhall building. It was completely abandoned, not just due to the presence of an Endbringer, but ever since the E88 had fallen support for the business had hit an all-time low. It had been shut down in all but name, often going days without a single soul entering it.

    As he approached the building, he saw a group of heroes moving away from the Protectorates medical tents, and toward the Endbringer. He paused, taking note of their appearances and who they were. He recognized the members of the protectorate, Armsmaster, Miss Militia, and Dauntless, but the other three he was unfamiliar with. He watched them go, and blinked when he noticed that they were traversing ground at an impossible rate. They weren’t moving particularly quickly, but each step they took seemed to be worth ten or more, and they soon left his line of sight.

    “Intriguing…” He remembered that the Protectorate members, as well as a pair of wards, had been taken captive as the Endbringer had appeared, and noted that they had likely escaped somehow. For the moment, he ignored them, choosing to focus on the fast-approaching Knochen and Zehnten.

    The two of them wore grey uniforms, though their masks were notably different from each other and the other Gesellschaft soldiers. Knochen had a skull-like mask, with two horns protruding from beneath an officer’s cap, while Zehnten wore a white veil with long, white chalked hair. The two of them walked up to Ubermensch, Knochen carrying a case that carried the artifact that they would use to deal the final death blow to Carmilla.

    “Vhat is ze reaction of ze Fallen?” he asked as they approached.

    “Zey are in disarray, Ubermensch. Madam Mathers vas providing significant resistance last time ve heard, sir. Othervise, ve are in a favorable position.” Zehnten provided.

    Ubermensch nodded, “Very vell. Und ze artifact?”

    Knochen lifted the case and opened it, revealing a spearhead that had been given a knife handle. Ubermensch smiled, reaching in and lifting the weapon out, “Ah, vonderbar, such a unique veapon… Ze Catholic’s claim it to be ze very spearhead zat pierced ze heart of Christ, you know. Veather or not zat is true… vell, ve shall see shall we not?”

    He turned to face the Endbringer, which he could just see overtop the few buildings between himself and it. He saw it holding Carmilla’s body, one finger wrapped around her while two others were positioned around her. He realized at that moment, that he had lost the advantage. The Endbringer, all due to Valefor’s foolishness, speared Carmilla through the chest and back, blood coating the Endbringer’s fingers.

    There was a moment of utter silence, then, all he could hear was her vicious laughter.
     
  27. Threadmarks: 6.6
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    “Oh~ yes~...!” Taylor moaned as she was penetrated by two long, thick, girthy, throbbing…

    “Tentacles! Wait, that doesn't make it sound any better, uhhhh...”

    And just like that, she was pulled back to reality. She looked up, her eyes glowing as she grinned maniacally, looking into the eye of the… she wasn’t really sure what it was, but it was big, Endbringer sized probably, so maybe it was another Endbringer. She didn’t really care, it had woken her up, so she was going to reward it.

    In a mere split second, she summoned tendrils of her own blood, shearing the finger-like appendages apart, freeing herself in the process. She fell through open air, before landing on the ground, her fall cushioned by something red and soft. She looked down, seeing that the ground beneath her was covered in red moss. She turned to look around and saw that the buildings around her were covered in the same red moss and that there were a handful of shambling things walking around made of the stuff.

    “Alucard? Queenie? What the fuck happened while we were asleep?” she asked.

    [Conflict Engine!]

    Taylor blinked, “So, that’s another Endbringer?” she asked, looking up at the thing as the tendrils on its hands and feet began to move and extend.

    [Fourth!]

    Taylor pondered the revelation, making note of Queenie's knowledge of the subject, and then promptly shrugged, “Well, I killed one before, I can do it again!”

    “Now that’s the spirit! Fuck ‘em up Tay-Tay!”

    Taylor smiled, launching herself forward and jumping up toward it. Its tendrils tried to follow her, but she was just fast enough to dodge them. She landed on the Endbringer’s thigh, trying to sink her fingers into its flesh, before realizing that while she was strong, she wasn’t quite strong enough to break the skin of an Endbringer. Yet.

    “Queenie! A little help?”

    [Claws! Muscles! Glue!]

    Taylor’s hands began to change; her fingers began to elongate and sharpen until they looked more like knives than fingers. She felt her muscles strengthen too, and with a manic grin, she drove her fingers into the flesh of the Endbringer, ripping through its skin and giving her a decent grip within its flesh. The only thing she noticed was that she seemed to stick.

    “Queenie… why am I sticking?”

    [Glue.]

    “Glue?”

    “Glue?”

    [Glue!]

    “Queenie, no glue.”

    [No glue?]

    “No glue.”

    Almost instantly, the adhesive that had been coating her claws evaporated, allowing Taylor to tear her hands free and begin climbing the Endbringer. Her claws tore into its flesh, leaving massive gouges that had already begun to regenerate. It’s long tentacle-like fingers moved toward Taylor, trying to wrap around her but losing grip whenever she moved. She quickly found herself at the Endbringer’s collar and was about to go for its head, when she felt something pierce her leg.

    She looked down to see one of the Endbringer’s fingers had gone through her leg and wrapped around it, getting a strong grip that wouldn’t let go. She felt it’s muscles pulse, and she knew almost instinctively what was about to happen.

    “This is gonna hurt…” she muttered, just as the tentacle jerked backward, pulling her off of the Endbringer.

    It slammed her into the ground, before lifting her up and swinging her again, this time into the side of a building, dragging her against it higher and higher, the concrete and glass shredding her skin. It [ulled her away from the building for a split second, allowing Taylor to reorient itself before in made another move.

    She reached underneath her coat and pulled out one of her revolvers, quickly aiming it and pulling the trigger. The blood-enhanced bullets, as well as a little help from a kinetic acceleration ability, caused the round to rocket forward through the tentacle, severing it and leaving Taylor to fall to the ground.

    She grunted as she landed, before getting up and pulling the remainder of the Endbringer out of her leg and tossing it to the side, her own flesh knitting itself back together. She looked up at the Endbringer and Noticed it looking down at her.

    “Hey, Alucard? You got any Idea’s on how to put this guy down?” she asked.

    “Fuck him in the Vagina!”

    Taylor would have glowered were she back within her own mindscape, “Alucard, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have one.”

    “Then make him one! I’ve done it before.”

    “I would also like to point out that I’m a woman.”

    “So?”

    She rolled her eyes, turning her attention back to the Endbringer, which was once again reaching its tentacles out toward her, faster than they had been before. She smiled, baring her fangs as she raced forward. One of the tentacles lanced forward toward her, only for it to fall to the ground as she shot it out of the air. She dodged a few others, jumping over one as it tried to sweep beneath her and another that tried to spear her through the chest.

    She still had her claws, so when she found herself directly beneath the Endbringer, she put away her revolver and leaped upward grabbing the Enbringer’s groin and sinking her claws into it. Her claws tore a large gash, in which she thrust her arm forward, sinking into it up to the elbow.

    “There, you happy now Alucard?”

    “Oh~ yeah~...”

    Taylor rolled her eyes, pulling her arm from the Endbringer just as a pair of tentacles speared toward her, missing her and driving into itself. She leaped off the Endbringer once again, swinging off of its crotch and toward its left arm. The tentacles continued to chase her, ever-accelerating in their speed.

    She grabbed onto the arm, her claws digging into it just enough to allow her to swing around it again, ending with her landing on the Endbringer’s back. She ran her way up it, before she reached its head, flipping up and over it, only for her to dig her claws into the Endbringer’s skull as she landed, leaving her facing the Endbringer, looking into it’s one red glowing eye.

    She smiled, pulling one of her claws free, “I spy one big red eye!” she yelled, before plunging her free hand into the eye, red blood spewing forth and the light dimming as she tore it’s eye asunder.

    She jumped back again, letting the tentacles follow her. She repeated the process again and again, tearing out chunks of its flesh before running off and twirling around, all the while the tentacles followed her until they became a wild and tangled mess. Finally, she leaped backward, landing on the grass to witness her efforts.

    “Oooh! Nice one, let’s see it get out of that!”

    The Endbringer, tangled and maimed as it was, didn’t seem at all concerned with the state it was in. Instead of struggling to release its tendrils as she had planned, it simply retracted them, untangling itself in a matter of seconds.

    Taylor frowned, “You’re no fun…” she muttered, before racing forward again, drawing her revolvers as she leaped upward. She shot at the tentacles, hoping to get them tied up before it could retract them fully, but only succeeded in having dozen thick tendrils hanging off of the Endbringer’s body whilst it regrew its actual limbs.

    Taylor tsk’d, trying to find a solution to her problem, “Alucard? Queen? Any ideas?” she asked.

    [Core!]

    “Yeah, remember the Simurgh fight? It had this core thingy in it, which, once you -- or, Queenie and/or Lung’s soul shard thingy -- tore it out the whole thing kinda collapsed.”

    “Alright, well, that doesn’t really help me unless I can figure out where the core is.” She said, dodging to the side as one of the tentacles slammed into the ground where she had been.

    Instead of trying to skewer her, the Endbringer took on a different approach, swinging its limbs on a wide arc, hoping to hit her with the full weight of its tentacles. It finally succeeded when she had been jumping over one that had been trying to sweep her feet out from under her, only for her to be caught by another that sent her flying into a building. A handful of tendrils took advantage of the successful attack, driving forward into the cloud of dust that had resulted from Taylor’s landing.

    Taylor’s response was to mutilate the tentacles with her own tendrils of blood that flowed freely from her own wounds. The blood cut through the Endbringer’s flesh, sending bits of it flying. When the dust cleared if someone was watching they would see Taylor kneeling on the ground in a puddle of blood as black and red ethereal tendrils rose up out of it.

    “Okay, Queenie, any powers we can use to locate the thing’s core?”

    [Butcher!]

    “Specifically, Butcher II: Electric Boogaloo!”

    In a second, Taylor saw what was beneath the Endbringer’s hide. Veins were filled with blood, though it didn’t flow in the way that a human's blood would have. Instead, it just seemed to sit there, only flowing from the open gashes that Taylor had torn into it, the substance being replenished from a source that Taylor actually had to pause to look for. Instead of where the Heart should have been, the blood was pumping from its neck, just below the collar-bone.

    A feral grin came onto Taylor’s face, “There you are!”

    She ran forward, blood tendrils trailing behind her. She kicked off a piece of rubble, launching herself upward. She drew her pistols and began firing, each shot landing straight into where the core would be. Six shots landed before Taylor hit the ground with a roll, and when she looked up at the Endbringer, she smiled at the sight.

    The Endbringer’s chest had a massive hole in it where her shots had impacted, the collar-bone that sat between her and the core having been shattered, exposing the red shining orb to the open air. Before she got a chance to have a go at the Endbringer, however, it began floating upward. It knew it was in danger now that its core was exposed, and was trying to make its escape.

    Taylor, unwilling to let her prey escape so easily, teleported up to it, black mist enveloping her. She soon stood with her feet balancing on the Endbringer’s collar-bone, one hand gripping the Endbringer’s face where it’s eye would have been.

    “Thought you could get away so easy!?” Taylor shouted, aiming one of her revolvers at the Endbringer’s core point-blank.

    Six shots rang out through the air, the bullets pinging as they slammed into the Endbringer’s core, but for as strong as her powers made them, the shots didn’t so much as scratch the Endbringer’s Core. The flesh surrounding it was torn and burned, but for all the damage she did, it only seemed to be regenerating.

    “Damnit! Queenie, I need something that can kill this thing!”

    [BANG!]

    “Bang?”

    As soon as Taylor uttered the word, she felt herself get blown away, the air being knocked out of her lungs. She soon found herself falling to the earth, And she looked to see that the Endbringer had been knocked away in much the same way, with the primary difference being that the Endbringer was now missing much of the flesh on its torso, exposing its bones and core even further, even as it was still rising.

    With a quick thought, Taylor teleported again, latching onto the Endbringer again, but this time she locked herself in place, digging her claws into the bone and twisting her feet so that they were wedged between the Endbringer’s ribs. She looked at the core, noting that unlike before, where it had been like a smooth and polished stone, there was now a single, minuscule crack, almost invisible to the naked eye.

    Taylor shouted again, the power Queen Devourer had given her sending a shockwave flowing over the Endbringer and herself. While Taylor did feel it, she was far better off than the Endbringer. Bones cracked, flesh was torn apart, and she saw the crack on its core had expanded. She shouted again, and bones broke, one of her claws coming loose, and the core continued to crack. Again, and her feet came loose, and only her left arm, which was buried in the Endbringer’s spine, remained.

    She shouted one final time, and as her arm tore free, she saw the core of the Endbringer, cracks running all through its surface, break, shattered into a thousand pieces.

    [Victory!]

    Taylor smiled at the sound of Queenie's cheers, even as she floated to the ground. As she landed, she turned to face a collection of people that had gathered at the edges of the moss; Alexandria, Eidolon, Armsmaster, and Parian. They all stared up at her in awe, and she smiled.

    “Ya miss me!?” Taylor said with a smile, her arms spread wide.

    She heard a crash behind her, knowing that the Endbringer’s corpse had just hit the ground.

    “Resist the urge, Taylor, you can look at it later! Don’t ruin your awesomeness!”

    [Cake!]
     
  28. Threadmarks: 6.7
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    The heroes looked at Taylor with dumbfounded expressions on their faces… at least, that’s what Taylor thought their expressions would be could she have seen their faces. Eidolon, Parian, and Armsmaster’s faces were covered completely by their masks, while Alexandria’s mouth was opened slightly.

    “Carmilla? H-how did you…” Eidolon stuttered, looking around at the destruction caused by the fight that had just occurred. Almost none of the buildings on the block had any unbroken windows, many of them her marked with holes and craters in their walls, and what wasn’t covered in red moss -- which already appeared to be wilting -- was covered in red blood.

    Taylor looked around, humming to herself, “I mean, I did a lot. What specifically are you referring to?” she asked not-so-innocently.

    “Tay-Tay? I’m pretty sure he’s asking how you managed to kill red-eyed willy over there. Either that or he’s wondering how you manage to look so good while wearing the blood of your enemies. That kind of look doesn’t come easy!”

    “Well, duh, I’m being facetious.” She remarked, before turning back to the heroes gathered before her, “Anyway, I pretty much just punched it until it died.”

    The heroes continued to look at her, dumbstruck, until Parian walked forward. Taylor looked at her quizzically, wondering why she was getting so close, why she was pulling her arm back -- and then she felt her head spin as the back of Parian’s hand impacted her cheek.

    “What the hell Sa-” Taylor’s complaints were cut off when she felt Parian’s arms wrap around her body, the shorter girl’s breathing noticeably rapid, before calming down after a few seconds of hugging Taylor.

    Taylor blinked, not really sure what to make of the situation.

    Parian pulled back from the hug, and Taylor could see that tears had managed to stain parts of her mask, “Taylor? Don’t scare me like that. Ever. Again. I-I know you’re strong, you killed the fucking Simurgh, but… w-when that thing grabbed you, when i-it…” Parian stopped, her voice choking, she tried to finish her sentence, but found that she couldn’t.

    Taylor, feeling just a smidge guilty, pulled Parian into a hug, “Shhh, it’s alright, I’m not going anywhere okay?” She felt the shorter girl nod into her shoulder, before pulling her back so that she could look at her, “I’ve survived being shot, blown up, decapitated, bisected, and disemboweled, I’m pretty sure it’s going to take more than an overgrown mosquito to kill me, okay?”

    “I mean, giant flying spaghetti monster works too…”

    Taylor rolled her eyes at Alucard’s comment before turning her attention back to Parian, “Now, with that out of the way, why don’t we-”

    “HOLD IT!” A voice shouted, Causing the entire group to turn around at look at the source, which turned out to be a figure crawling out of the withering moss.

    The figure’s body was almost completely covered by moss, clumps of it peeling off as it withered away, revealing a half-naked man in torn and tattered clothing standing before them.

    “I don’t know who you think you are, bitch, but my name is Elijah Mathers of the Fallen, heir to-”

    “Shh, shh, shh…” Taylor shushed, cutting Valefor off, “Do you hear that?”

    Valefor blinked, beginning to ask “Do I hear wha-?” before his head was promptly reduced to a fine red mist, Taylor’s hand holding a revolver with a smoking barrel pointed in his direction.

    “Hmm, must’ve been the wind.” Taylor muttered to herself, turning back to the heroes, tilting her head at their -- with the exception of Parian -- shocked expressions, “What?”

    “You- the truce…” Alexandria started, only for Eidolon to put a hand on her shoulder, shaking his head when she shot him a look.

    Taylor opened her mouth to speak, but stopped when she heard a steady beat in the background. Not drums, nothing so grandiose… it was more like…

    “Slow clapping… the evilest type of clapping… a method of intimidation only used by Vampires, Catholic Priests, and…”

    “Nazis!” Taylor said with a grin as she whipped around, seeing a tall, blond man in a white coat and pants clapping his white-gloved hands ever so slowly.

    “An astute observation young Fraulein, und I can assume you of all people vould be most knowledgeable about our ilk.” the man said, a feral grin covering his features.

    “Did… did the major lose weight!?”

    “After all, you have quite literally slaughtered hundreds of our most valued assets! Surely you have picked up more zan your fair share of information regarding us?” He chuckled, “Ah, but alas, it matters oh so little… I am afraid zat, as much as you have impressed us vith your butchering of ze Endbringers, you, Carmilla, ze Vampire Cape, ze Endslayer, are still an obstacle. Von zat I have every intention of removing.”

    Taylor’s eyes narrowed, “Alucard, do I have permission?” she asked, tilting her head to the side.

    “Taylor, you’ve earned the title.”

    Taylor smiled, looking up at the Nazi leader, “Excuse me, Nazi fuck, I’m a fuck-mothering vampire. I killed a lot of people to earn that title, so I’d appreciate it if it was used a bit more often.” She said, her smile showing off her gleaming fangs.

    “Very vell zen, Carmilla, ‘fuck-mothering’ vampire.” He said, reaching an arm out to the side before snapping his fingers, “I shall utter your title, vonce.

    As his fingers clicked, soldiers poured out from the alleyways in front of and behind Taylor and the heroes, each on aiming what looked to be a tinker-tech version of the Nazi weaponry used during classic world war two.

    Taylor smiled, turning to face the heroes, “Armsy, Alex, Eidolon? You three go work on clean up. Parian? You go ahead and take out the trash.”

    Parian blinked underneath her mask, looking around worryingly as the Nazis began raising their weapons, The Major-lite holding up his hand in a hold-fire position.

    “DREI!”

    “Taylor… what? What am I…”

    “Trust me, Sabah,” Taylor said, grinning at her, “Just think about what I would do, and then do that!”

    [-----]

    Sabah closed her eyes as Taylor took her hand off her shoulder and began walking toward the line of Nazi soldiers. She turned around, facing the group that surrounded herself and the other heroes. Armsmaster’s Halberd crackled with electricity, his normally bullet-proof armor bent, dented, and scratched. Considering the tinker-tech equipment used by their enemies, Sabah seriously doubted that he would be able to withstand more than a few hits.

    “Armsmaster,” She said, catching his attention, “You need to get out of here. Alexandria, Eidolon, the two of you can fly, take him with you. The Gesellschaft isn’t after you, just Carmilla.”

    The two heroes turned to face her, “We can’t just leave you here.” Eidolon stated, “Look, I can carry you at the very least, we can leave-”

    “ZWEI!”

    The group winced at the Major-lite’s voice, “Just trust me, okay? Ta- Carmilla is going to be going after their leader, but she can’t do that if she’s being shot the whole time.” Sabah explained, even as her arms began to fray, threads zipping back and forth invisibly.

    The heroes stared at her, Alexandria clenching her fists while Armsmaster gripped the shaft of his weapon.

    “Listen to her.” Armsmaster said, his grip loosening, “We’re better of on search and rescue. My armor is compromised, Eidolon, you’re exhausted, and Alexandria, as much use as you may be in a straight one-on-one fight, we’re outnumbered. Parian is the only one here suited and built for this kind of situation. We need to leave, they have a plan.”

    “EINS!”

    Alexandria frowned, but nodded wordlessly, picking up Armsmaster by his armpits and lifting him off the ground. A few of the Nazis trained their guns trained on them until they were out of sight, before moving their weapons back to Carmilla, Sabah, and Eidolon.

    “Are you sure your plan will work?” Eidolon asked, flashes of energy sparking between his fingertips.

    Sabah nodded, “Yeah… think like Carmilla, do like Carmilla.”

    Eidolon paused, before shaking his head and flying off, leaving Sabah to stare down the dozens of guns looking at her, “Alright then, I hope this works…”

    “DER BESCHUSS!”

    And just like that, each of the soldiers pulled the triggers on their weapons, just as Parian clenched her fingers, causing the dozens of threads she had spun in between the soldiers to pull taught. Some threads pulled a weapon away from it’s intended target, causing flashes of red light to spew from the barrel into their allies. Other threads had been wrapped around necks, arms, legs, torsos, anything she could fit, resulting in many of them to be torn to shreds, blood flowing and spraying from their stumps.
     
  29. Threadmarks: 6.8
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    Blood rained, limbs flew, and screams filled the air. Taylor was, of course, used to such sounds and sensations, so without missing a beat she charged forward, firing her guns in the Major’s direction only for him to jump upward, avoiding the shots with unnatural speed and grace. Taylor tracked him, re-aiming her guns only to be cut off as he pulled his own weapon from his coat, a long pistol, and shot Taylor’s arm. She grunted as she felt her left arm hanging by only a thread, before bringing up her right arm to shoot.

    “I’ll admit, I never did catch your name!” She yelled, before firing off three successive shots, each of which were dodged by her target as he landed and dashed to the side.

    “Ah! But of course, introductions!” he said, shooting her in the mouth, “I am Ubermensch, leader of ze Gesellschaft, of course, I already know you.”

    Taylor holstered her pistol, reaching up and resetting her jaw, “Nish’ ta’ shoo’ ya’ Ubermesh!” she slurred, the muscles in her mouth and jaw still regenerating.

    She drew her pistol again, but Ubermensch was slightly faster, and she soon found her hand missing several fingers. She pulled up her regenerating left hand instead, firing off a shot that Ubermensch narrowly dodged by doing a backflip.

    “What the fuck!? Since when could Nazis do backflips!”

    Taylor grunted, before racing forward again, but with a bit more preparation this time, “Queenie! Claws and something to hit him with!” she ordered.

    [Claws! Acid!]

    Taylor soon felt her hands forming into the bladed weapons that she had been using against the Endbringer, and found that they were dripping with a black liquid that, when it touched the ground, sizzled menacingly.

    She swung said claw at Ubermensch, missing by a fraction, but a few drops of the acid managed to land on his coat, sizzling and burning small holes in the white fabric. He brought up his pistol and shot her in the shoulder, causing her to be forced back a step only to reach forward again, swiping at his arm, her claws just barely scratching the material of his coat, the acid eating through it as she felt no resistance.

    He leaped backward, shooting at her again, several rounds hitting Taylor in the chest. She grunted, digging her hands into the ground, acid and mist pooling around her, and out of it, a pair of long-dead capes jumped forward, Hookwolf and Stormtiger, the former’s chains flying forward in an attempt to strangle the Nazi leader while the latter tried to build up a ball of wind and air.

    Ubermensch reacted by bringing up one arm, the chain wrapping around it, and Hookwolf tugging, trying to pull him closer. He only grinned, reaching forward and grabbing the chain in his hand, then yanking backward, pulling the dead cape toward him. As Hookwolf came flying toward him, he ducked out of the way, the mass of blades and chains flying into the side of a building.

    Stormtiger, under the control of Carmilla, took the opportunity to throw the ball of condensed air toward Ubermensch, though it appeared that all he had succeeded in doing was ruffling the man’s clothes.

    Ubermensch aimed and fired his pistol at Stormtiger, the shot blowing half of the familiars head off, forcing it to fall to the ground in a pile of black and red mist and blood. Hookwolf pulled himself out of the rubble and was about to charge at Ubermensch again when the familiar found itself under fire as Ubermensch had turned around, his shots breaking through the blades and chains that made up the familiar's armor.

    Taylor, seeing that her enemy's back was turned, lunged forward, her claws reaching for her target. The target spun around, his pistol arm whipping around to try and shoot her, but before he could shoot, Taylor’s claw came down. Ubermensch grunted as he leaped backward again, his severed arm falling to the ground.

    “Ah, vell, I suppose you vere bound to score a hit eventually…” Ubermensch considered that though Taylor was silent, her eyes locked onto his severed arm.

    Blood did not flow from it. Instead of the red viscous fluid that she was used to seeing flow from the severed limbs of her enemies, black and clear fluid flowed from tubes in the arm. Sparks shot off from where it had been severed, and its fingers twitched unnervingly.

    “He’s a cyborg!?”

    “You’re a cyborg!?”

    [Cyborg!?]

    “Why the fuck is he a cyborg!?”

    “Why the fuck are you a cyborg!?” Taylor yelled.

    Ubermensch laughed, “I am no mere cyborg, no, I, I am ze Major’s greatest creation! Before his death, he labored for years, decades even! All of his vork und effort, all of it culminating in the being you see before you. I am all zat man vishes to achieve! I am ze ultimate human bei-”

    “Fuck no you’re not human, you’re a fucking cyborg! With oil, and coolant and wires and shit!”

    Ubermensch frowned, “I am no less human zen any other parahuman, for a man is nothing more zen his ambition, his pride, and his vill to-”

    “No,” Taylor interrupted, stomping toward him, “A man is a being of flesh and blood that I can actually drink! Not whatever the fuck you are!”

    Ubermensch sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his remaining hand, “Zere really is no getting around zis vith you is zere?”

    “You still haven’t answered my question,” Taylor asked pointedly.

    “Ah, you see I-” He was cut off once again, though this time it wasn’t by Taylor’s voice. Instead, Hookwolf slammed into his back, tackling him to the ground. The familiar and Ubermensch rolled on the ground for a moment, before Ubermensch grunted and grabbed ahold of Hookwolf’s head, pulling and twisting before the offending object was wrenched from the body, sent flying off to the side as the rest of it went limp and began to fade into red and black mist just as Stormtiger’s body had done.

    Ubermensch stood, his face formed into a frown. His body was covered in little nicks and cuts, some barely scratching his clothes, others digging into his synthetic flesh. Still, he had his trump card.

    Taylor smiled, “So, with that out of the way, how do you want to finish this?” she asked.

    Ubermensch smiled, “Oh, I’m not done quite yet, though I do believe we are reaching the climax.”

    Taylor tilted her head, “Ah, such innocence! You’re probably my second most favorite Nazi.” she said with a shiver.

    Ubermensch smiled before he made a quick motion, a knife dropping from his sleeve into his free hand, “Only second most favorite?” he asked, leveling the blade.

    She shrugged, “I’ll admit, Hookwolf was a fun one.”

    He shrugged, “Hm, fair enough.” He said before he shot forward, the knife drawn back to put as much force behind it as possible.

    Taylor charged in response, a feral grin overtaking her fingers as her claws shot forward. The two ran faster than any normal human would be capable of, and if anyone had been watching, all they would have seen was a pair of blurs moving toward each other before finally slamming into one another.

    Taylor’s claws sank into Ubermensch’s chest, but at the same time, she found that his blade had found its way into her heart. Ubermensch laughed, before he coughed, black ichor coming up from his lungs. He let go of the knife, before backing off of Taylor, her claws coming out of him with a wet sound as the acid burned his insides. He fell backward, lying against a pile of rubble.

    Taylor, for her part, reached up and pulled the knife out of her heart, “I’ll admit, it was a good effort. Though I have to ask, what made you think a little knife was going to do anything?” she asked.

    He laughed, coughing up more oily liquid, “Ze Catholics… Lying bastards… heh, oder, Vielleicht habe ich mich einfach geirrt…”

    Taylor raised her eyebrow, “Sorry, I don’t speak kraut.”

    He shook his head, pushing himself up with his good arm, liquid spilling out of the holes in his chest and burning his clothes where it landed, “A relic, from ze Catholics… supposedly it vas ze very veapon zat pierced ze heart of christ… A fool’s hope, but… of vhat use is hope to anyvon but a fool?” he asked, again coughing up ichor.

    Taylor shook her head, “I’ll admit, I’ve met worse assholes.” she said, drawing her pistol and pointing it at him, “Just one last question,”

    He waved his hand dramatically, “Ask avay, I have… maybe four or five more minutes.” he said, his hand dropping down to his side.

    “Just why the everliving fuck are you a cyborg!?” she yelled.

    He groaned, “Look, are ve still on zat? It’s simple, really, I-” he stopped, drawing a pistol faster than anyone could blink, firing once before Taylor managed to blow his head off. His bullet hit true, gouging out Taylor’s left eye.

    “DAMNIT!” she yelled.

    “Oh come on! He can’t just cockblock us like that!”

    “And I can’t drink him to find out either because he was a fucking cyborg!” Taylor lamented. “And now I can’t even see because I have to wait for my eye to come back!”

    [-----]

    Parian wasn’t all that experienced in the world of cape fighting, but she felt she was a quick learner, and as the Gesellschaft soldiers threw themselves at her, she figured she was probably well on her way to becoming more experienced than many protectorate capes. More often than not they came to her in groups of five or ten but seemed to wisen up to the fact that going down the street guarded by a woman who could rip them apart with invisible threads or shoot them with floating weaponry with lethal accuracy.

    After they stopped coming through the alleyways, she began moving forward to try and find them herself. Her threads acted as sensors, after a fashion, as she spread them out all over, giving her a map of the city in her head. She could feel her threads being tugged or pulled occasionally, but without a clear view, she wasn’t able to tell if they were indeed more soldiers or if they were civilians or evacuees, so she refrained from simply eviscerating them until they were within her line of sight.

    Fortunately, her threads also led her to many holds of soldiers which were quickly dispatched. It wasn’t until she felt a shiver down her spine that she actually felt any resistance that actually caused her trouble. She whipped around and found herself staring down a woman with silver hair wearing a veil, a Nazi uniform covering her body.

    Parian made her move, her threads wrapping around the Gesellschaft cape, only for them to pass through her harmlessly as her body became transparent and tinted a cold blue color. Parian’s eyes narrowed as the cape began moving forward, her steps not making any sound as she moved despite the solid heels of her boots. Parian backed up a step, before she heard something behind her, and ducked to the side out of reflex.

    It was a good thing she did, too, as a massive claw made of bone and steel had slammed into the ground where she had been standing. She got back to her feet quickly and took stock of her situation.

    Two capes, both Gesellschaft, one who could turn intangible, and the other most likely either a tinker or changer, given the massive skeletal form of the one who had tried to crush her. That one looked like a mass of bones cobbled together in the shape of a huge lion with wings and a bull’s skull for a head. She tried to wrap her threads around it, but whoever the cape was seemed to at least recognize her and her power, and they began to charge her, breaking her threads before they could get a grip.

    She dashed to the side again, narrowly avoiding getting skewered by the changer’s horns. She pulled up the several guns she had floating about and pulled the triggers, the bullets tearing into the bone. It roared, a sound that seemed to come more from between its ribs than from its head. It turned and looked at her, and began to charge again. Parian looked around before she saw the ghostly woman that had first appeared standing to the side, no longer transparent.

    She dodged the changer again but was a split-second slower than before, and she felt his claws brush against her arm, tearing a gash in her clothes but leaving her relatively unharmed. She stumbled to the ground, quickly getting up to regain her footing. She shot a glance to where the woman was again, noting that she hadn’t moved, and appeared to be watching her fight with the changer.

    She turned her focus back to him, her floating guns still unloading whatever ammunition they had, and once they were empty, she dropped them, replacing them with another weapon looted from one of the many shredded Nazi corpses. Taking stock of her options, and noting that the Changer was getting ready for another charge toward her, Parian dashed to the side into an alleyway. Deciding on trying something new, something she felt was risky, she spread her threads throughout the buildings on either side of her, wrapping through the broken windows and even in several spots punching holes through fragile plaster and brick walls that had already been falling apart.

    As soon as she reached the end of the alley, she whirled around, seeing the changer at the mouth of the alley, bullet holes pockmarking his boney hide. She heard him growl and take a step forward, ready to charge.

    “Come on…” Parian muttered to herself, “Just charge, or take a few steps forward…”

    The cape roared, and almost faster than she could track, lurched forward. Acting fast, Parian pulled on the threads she had wrapped the building in, tearing through wood and steel supports, brick and concrete walls, and plumbing. Instantly, dust filled the air as the walls of the building began to collapse. Strong as the buildings might have been, the Simurgh’s flesh had been far more durable, and she had managed to hold an Endbringer back. With enough thread, she could easily bring the buildings down completely, but she settled for having the sides collapse inward on top of the charging cape.

    When the dust cleared, she saw the cape’s head poking out from the rubble, or more accurately, sitting on top of it.

    She walked forward and picked up the horned skull, no flesh or sinew connecting it to where the rest of the body would have been, now buried and likely dead beneath the rubble. A voice spoke behind her, causing her to drop the skull suddenly and turn around, seeing the ghostly woman staring at her.

    “Du hast meinen Partner getötet, ich hoffe du weißt das?” she said, causing Parian to blink.

    “Not that I don’t mind combat banter, considering Carmilla does plenty of it, but I really didn’t understand a word you said,” Parian responded, threads already wrapping themselves around her, should she become solid again and allow her a chance to attack.

    The woman tilted her head, “I said, you know zat vas meinen partner, Ja? Amerikaner müssen mehr Sprachen lernen...” she said, while shaking her head.

    Parian shrugged, “He was trying to kill me. I only returned the favor.”

    The woman nodded, “Understandable.” She said simply, before drawing a pistol that had been holstered at her hip.

    Parian ducked to the side behind a pile of rubble, the shots flying past her and ricocheting off the rubble she was hiding behind. Parian peaked out from behind her cover when the shooting paused, and she saw the cape reloading, before aiming again. When the first shot fired, Parian saw something that would give her an edge.

    As the woman pulled the trigger, she flickered, her transparent blue form going back to grey and white just long enough for the trigger to pull and the bullet to leave its barrel, resulting in her flickering in and out of existence seven times, before she paused to reload again, walking forward slowly. Parian frowned, jumping out from behind cover as her magazine clicked into place.

    She needed to be fast, fast, and precise. The instant she pulled the trigger, she would need to pull on her threads. Even though she had only left her place of cover a near-instant ago, she could feel her heart beating. If she messed up, if her threads missed and phased through her target, she was dead. The cape brought her pistol to bear, and Parian sucked in a breath, her eyes looking down the barrel of the gun.

    The capes finger pressed on the trigger, and for a mere split second, reality shifted. Parian pulled on the threads, even as the barrel flashed, and in that split second, the Gesellschaft cape was dismembered and decapitated, blood flying through the air as Parian’s threads shredded her apart.

    Unfortunately, Parian didn’t get to feel much satisfaction, as she felt a wet sensation on her chest. She looked down and saw that there was a red stain on her outfit, just above her right breast. The stain grew, spreading and darkening.

    “Oh… that’s not good…” Parian said, less than a second before she collapsed to the ground, gasping for air.
     
  30. Threadmarks: Interlude 5: Miss Militia and the Wards
    rocketmce

    rocketmce Getting sticky.

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    The Gesellschaft were breaking. With the Endbringer dead and a large portion of their own troops and leaders dead as well, they had trouble remaining as a cohesive whole. Many were trying to organize a fighting retreat, while others were being ordered to hold the line, and yet more had simply deserted. What made it all worse was the simple fact that the full-scale conflict had gotten the attention of other outside forces. The United States president had ordered a military response, and even though it had been less than an hour since the Endbringer had fallen, already troops from nearby installations were beginning to move in.

    The PRT and Protectorate were trying to mobilize a response in some way, trying to spin the situation in a positive light. Unfortunately, they were not able to do so with any real degree of success.

    Fires were constant throughout the city. Be it from missed or rogue attacks from capes during the Endbringer fights, or damage caused by the Gesellschaft soldiers, very little of the city was completely intact. Civilians had tried to all cram into the various Endbringer shelters around the city, and while that had been serviceable against the Endbringer, those shelters that did not have an armed garrison were left to the mercy of the Gesellschaft.

    One such shelter had apparently been overtaken completely, with the soldiers either killing or running off the civilians inside. They had proceeded to dig into the shelter, setting up a defensible position that could be guarded and used as a functional headquarters, provided communication between their forces could be established.

    A handful of capes were busy combatting the Gesellschaft. The Undersiders, a group that had gone underground shortly after Carmilla had shown up, had sprung back up again to start trying their luck and driving off the foreign invaders. Purity, the former member of the defunct Empire eighty-eight, was fighting alongside the Protectorate in order to repel the Gesellschaft as well.

    Carmilla was seen in the downtown area of the city after the Endbringer was killed. Reports by Protectorate capes Armsmaster and Alexandria stated that she had been in the process of eliminating the head of the Gesellschaft’s leadership.

    When the capes finally received military support, they were able to begin driving the Gesellschaft back. Miss Militia was at the front lines, fighting alongside infantryman and forward assault vehicles, assisting in beating back the invaders. Many capes were left out of the fight, either injured during the Endbringer battle or against the Gesellschaft. It was not until the sun began to set that things truly began to calm down…

    [-----]

    “What the fuck are we supposed to do!?” Vista all but screamed. She and the other wards sat at the back-line, far away from the fighting taking place, “Everyone else is out there, fighting, and yet here we are, sitting on our asses not even allowed to see what’s going on!

    “It’s the Youth Guard,” Aegis responded, “The government declared what’s going on as a military invasion of a foreign country. Doesn’t matter that they’re using capes to do it, they don’t want us looking like child soldiers…”

    Vista’s shoulders slumped. She knew, intellectually, that things were fucked. The death toll still wasn’t a known factor, and injuries were still mounting despite the fact that things were beginning to calm down.

    “And besides,” Aegis said, “I… I can’t say I blame them. People are dying out there, Missy. It’s not the same as us running around stopping criminals and putting them in jail, it’s… it’s kill or be killed out there. The general even ordered Miss Militia to stop using rubber bullets…” He trailed off, his point made and a thousand-yard stare on his face.

    Vista paused to think about what was being said… when was the last time there had actually been a genuine war? One that wasn’t small scale between gangs, or rival cape factions but… a genuine, world power versus world power war? The only thing she could conjure up was Vietnam… she knew her grandfather had fought in it, but that was the extent of her knowledge. Ever since capes had come onto the scene, and especially once she triggered, everything not superpowers just seemed to not matter anymore.

    Clockblocker sat beside them, his phone pulled out as he scrolled through news stories and articles. He was quiet. She considered that such a thing probably wasn’t good.

    “Dennis? You have any idea what’s going on?” she asked.

    He paused, looking up at her through his expressionless mask, “... they’re talking about recruiting capes into the military. This is the first time the US has ever gotten into this kind of a mess, and from what I’m seeing… there’s a lot of people saying that China actually has the right idea.”

    The news made a chill run down Vista’s spine. She knew, at least vaguely, what the CUI did with their capes, what the Yangban was capable of, and she wondered what would happen if the United States started getting capes on its leash, maybe even disbanding the whole idea of heroes, just to put anyone with powers into the military instead.

    “The Protectorate is fighting them on it, though.” Dennis said, his voice still devoid of his usual cheer, but not nearly as grim as he had sounded a minute earlier, “Chief Director Costa-Brown is gonna be putting out a statement soon, supposedly in the defense of human rights and what not…” He sighed, letting his head fall back as he sat his phone to the side, “All this… why now of all times?”

    Why indeed? In hindsight, Vista wondered why people hadn’t been talking about incorporating the Protectorate into the military before. Or maybe they did, but it didn’t seem like a good idea at the time. Now, though, with two major powers doing exactly that, and one of them making claims on US soil…

    “It all started when she showed up…” Aegis muttered, “Carmilla shook up the whole system. Everything she does fucks with the status quo. She doesn’t care for the unwritten rules at all, has a body count numbering in the hundreds, and has killed two Endbringers. At this point… I don’t even know why I should be surprised that the political systems of the world are getting shaken up.”

    Vista shook her head, “It’s supposed to keep us safe… the status quo, the unwritten rules… they’re supposed to keep us safe, right?” she asked aloud.

    Clockblocker and Aegis both looked toward her, then at each other. Vista had come to a conclusion, and it looked like they were catching on.

    “Hidden identities… Carmilla doesn’t even have one, at this point! Her name is Taylor, right? She was bullied at Winslow by Sophia. She doesn’t care that everyone knows her name or who she is, she doesn’t even wear a mask for fucks sake!” She ranted, “And killing!? It’s like you said, Carlos, she has a body count. She’s killed hundreds of people at this point. Maybe even thousands. The only unwritten rule she does seem to follow is not fucking with other people’s families, and even then…” It wasn’t like Carmilla even had a reason to.

    She was a walking blender. Wherever she went, people died, often in droves. The people she considered friends, like Parian, were just as bad. She had no idea when the doll-clothed cape had gotten so adept at killing, or when she had even lost her hands and replaced them with those wires that she controlled like a master puppeteer, but she was terrifying, in a lot of the same ways that Carmilla was.

    “It’s… things are changing, guys. Whether we like it or not…” She paused, reaching up to her mask. The unwritten rules meant so little, now, so would it even be such a bad thing? The Slaughterhouse nine’s names were known, mostly, with the only exceptions being those that were complete unknowns before they joined. New Wave was publically known as well, regardless of the fact that it had backfired on them at one point. How many other capes didn’t even care if their identities were public? Celebrity rogues, like Canary, quite a few villains, and plenty of fringe groups like new wave.

    She grimaced, before pulling off her own mask.

    “The rules don’t matter anymore… and honestly, I don’t think they ever really did,” she said.

    [-----]

    Hannah wiped the sweat from her brow as she ducked behind cover, trying to get a bead on the squad of Gesellschaft soldiers that had been harassing her and the other marines that were stuck deep into their lines. The majority of the Gesellschaft ships had left Brockton Bay, retreating out into international waters, not that doing so would stop the flyers and blasters that were after them.

    In the meantime, though, that meant that there were still a number of groups that were still fighting, still causing damage and still endangering the lives of civilians.

    Peaking out from cover, she switched her assault rifle to an RPG launcher, scanning the area before her. She spotted movement, someone peeking around a corner, the grey helmet giving away their allegiance. Quick as she could manage, she brought up her weapon to bear, firing the rocket at her target, hitting the corner of the wall they had been hiding behind. She heard their screams as some of them died quickly, whilst others were forced out of cover.

    As soon as they were out of cover, the soldiers behind her opened fire with their own weapons, gunning them down. Three Gesellschaft soldiers fell to the ground, several holes now marring their bodies.

    That was only one engagement. Miss Militia had been fighting on such conditions for the past several hours, with very little respite, and she could feel the weight on her shoulders. She considered the number of people she had killed, before shaking her head, removing the thought from her mind. She was a soldier, one that was fighting against an invading army that was doing horrible things to the people she was supposed to protect.

    “You alright, hero?” she heard a voice say.

    She turned to face the squad sergeant, the man who had been leading herself, and the small group of six marines that had been hunting the Gesellschaft holdouts. The man looked to be about her age, with close-cropped hair and a clean-shaven face beneath his helmet and scarf. She had quickly learned that the squad tended to refer to the capes working with them as ‘hero’ regardless of their alignment or outfit.

    She shook her head, “I’m fine… just not used to situations like this.” She said.

    He grunted, “I figured you capes were used to heavy combat situations, given the shit you guys have to deal with.”

    “Heavy combat, yes, extended urban warfare against a trained enemy… no, not so much.” She explained. Depending on your definition of ‘heavy combat’ of course. She’d fought in Endbringer battles, against major villain groups and gangs, and had her fair share of quick, erratic urban skirmishes… but all of those were oh so different.

    The ABB and E88 were little more than untrained civilians that had been handed guns, and the villains were usually willing to turn and run when things went south. On top of that, the unwritten rules, the laws on capturing criminals, and other such stipulations had made other engagements she’d been in far less stressful than her current situation. Before, she shot to injure, if she was using lethal ammunition at all, instead of rubber bullets or bean-bags. The gangs were always more focused on driving her off as well, never wanting to risk killing a protectorate cape, lest hell rain down upon them. Now, she was forced to face opponents who wanted nothing more than to put a bullet in her heart.

    She inhaled, and exhaled deeply, her bandana making it slightly more difficult than if she were in her civilian identity. She idly wondered if it was worth keeping the article on, at that point, considering the soldiers along-side her wouldn’t recognize her, to begin with, and the enemies she was facing were hell-bent on killing her either way.

    Deciding that it was worth it, at least for a moment, she reached up and pulled down her mask, taking a deep breath. The air was dusty, the smell of blood and smoke permeating the area. She sighed, switching her weapon back to her standard assault rifle. There was still work to be done, after all.
     
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