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Gravitas [Worm Crossover Fanfic]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, May 17, 2018.

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    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Just when Taylor feels she's getting in over her head with Lung, a strange visitor from another world changes everything ...

    A few notes:
    a) This fic is a crossover of Worm and my own novel-series-in-the-making, Utopian Dreams (in stores sometime this decade or the next). Jericho Hansen is the main character in said novel series.
    b) If it seems as though the fic makes obscure references to past events, this is because those events occur in the novels, which would make them spoilers. Don't worry; these are not necessary to understand what's going on in the fic.
    c) Some of the dialogue in this chapter is taken or adapted from Gestation 1.6. This is because Armsmaster probably has a script he works off of.

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

    Index
    Part One: Arrival (below)
     
    Snake/Eater, preier, Chase92 and 2 others like this.
  2. Threadmarks: Part One: Arrival
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Gravitas

    A Utopian Dreams/Worm Crossover
    Part One: Arrival
    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]



    Just when Taylor feels she's getting in over her head with Lung, a strange visitor from another world changes everything ...
    A few notes:
    a) This fic is a crossover of Worm and my own novel-series-in-the-making, Utopian Dreams (in stores sometime this decade or the next). Jericho Hansen is the main character in said novel series.
    b) If it seems as though the fic makes obscure references to past events, this is because those events occur in the novels, which would make them spoilers. Don't worry; these are not necessary to understand what's going on in the fic.
    c) Some of the dialogue in this chapter is taken or adapted from Gestation 1.6. This is because Armsmaster probably has a script he works off of.
    Disclaimers:
    1) This story is set mainly in the Wormverse, which is owned by Wildbow. Thanks for letting me use it. It's also set partially in the world of Utopian Dreams, which is my own original creation.
    2) I will follow Worm canon as closely as I can. If I find something that canon does not cover, I will make stuff up. If canon then refutes me, I will revise. Do not bother me with fanon; corrections require citations.
    3) I welcome criticism of my works, but if you tell me that something is wrong, I also expect an explanation of what is wrong, and a suggestion of how to fix it. Note that I do not promise to follow any given suggestion.


    Part One: Arrival

    Savannah, Georgia
    Not Earth Bet
    April 7, 2018


    The machine lay innocently in a shallow crater in the middle of the road, surrounded by small mounds of dirt and some broken asphalt. It was maybe five feet long by three feet wide, and had digging or drilling equipment attached to one end; between this, the dirt adhering to it and the crater it was lying in, Jericho Hansen figured it had dug itself up from underground. Much more worrying was the sinister DI logo on the side. Even nineteen years after the presumed death of Doc Iridium (and four years after his actual death), everyone knew that logo.

    From three storeys up, he had a good view of the police cordon. The cops were doing it right for once, not assuming that just because the Artificer device was inert that it was harmless or even dead. However, there was a problem anyway; specifically, Pickup was on the scene. At the moment, the battlesuited hero was arguing with the cop in charge of the cordon, probably so he could get a closer look at the device.

    With a sigh, Jericho adjusted his personal gravity and leaned forward to let himself fall off the edge of the roof. Most fliers and a few Enabled with jumping abilities liked to land in a classic knee-and-fist kneeling stance. It looked dramatic as hell but as far as Jericho was concerned, if the landing didn't crack concrete, it was just posing. His idea of a dramatic entrance was a little different; falling at one-tenth of a gee, he had plenty of time to play around.

    Curling forward into a somersault, he spread his arms. The elastic cloth that stretched from his wrists to his knees caught the air, speeding up the manoeuvre. Someone noticed him three seconds into the fall, when he was halfway down. Fingers pointed and faces turned toward him. He took that as his cue to angle his shoulders back with his arms still spread, so that he slid at an angle through the air instead of simply falling straight down. A second and a half later, he landed on the pavement, bending his knees slightly to absorb the shock of the impact.

    Pickup came stomping forward past the cops who were gathered around, each footfall shaking the sidewalk. “What're you doin' here, G-Man?” he demanded. “Nobody called you.” This close to him, Jericho could hear the pistons working to move his suit of power armour, along with the rumbling diesel that powered the pistons. Over the suit's left shoulder, an exhaust pipe vented fumes into the air. All in all, it would've been an impressive sight, if not for the Confederate flag painted boldly across the front of the armour. Jericho had never been enamoured with the history of that particular flag, but he was willing to ignore how some used it as decoration, so long as their politics didn't follow suit. For Pickup, it wasn't decoration; it was an advertisement.

    While the looming bulk of the artificer's armour might have been intimidating to others—it was ten feet tall, not counting the exhaust pipe—Jericho had faced off against foes who were legitimately more terrifying, and lived to tell the tale. The disdain with which the asshat was addressing him had only intensified since Jericho's early days as a hero, six years ago. The difference was that now, Jericho didn't care. More to the point, where before the cops may have backed up Pickup, now they were silently ceding the situation to Jericho. Being recognised—however reluctantly—as a nationally-famous hero did that.

    He raised his eyebrows behind the swashbuckler-style cloth mask that covered his face from the cheekbones upward. “I wasn't aware I needed an invitation,” he observed coolly. He actually had been tipped off by one of his contacts in the police switch room, but Pickup didn't need to know that. “I hope you're not gonna mess with that thing before the bomb squad gets here. Because we both know that'd be a bad idea.”

    The only thing worse than a racist asshat, Jericho figured, was a racist asshat who was also a poor loser. They'd clashed once before, prior to the Utopia mess, when Jericho defended a black protest meeting against Pickup's attempt to break it up by force. While Jericho had been the one to eventually withdraw, he'd only done so after pinning Pickup down long enough for the protesters to remove themselves from the situation. Pickup hadn't said two words to him since that day. Any hope that the artificer had decided to forgive and forget went by the wayside with Pickup's next words.

    “You don't fuckin' tell me what to do.” The clunky power armour stepped forward, crowding Jericho's personal space. From here, he could smell the diesel fumes and hear the engine turning over. “I'm a cog, just like Iridium. He put it together, I can take it apart. 'Cause that's what heroes do.”

    The sheer blatant wrongness of the statement blindsided Jericho for a second. “What? No, seriously. You are not an artificer just like Doc Iridium. I met the man, and he was a genius. A raving psycho, sure, but a genius all the same. He was a high-end artificer, too. You're nowhere near—hey! Get away from that!”

    The problem with talking to asshats was that they were just as likely to walk away as to argue. Case in point: just as Jericho was hitting his stride speech-wise, Pickup simply turned and walked through the police tape surrounding Doc Iridium's fuck-you device. At least, that was what Jericho presumed it to be. Before he died for real, Doc Iridium had been all about the fuck-you devices; he'd even tried to blow up his base with one when he was cornered. Of course, he'd died shortly afterward anyway, but that was hardly due to a lack of planning on his part. And the people of Manhattan, Kansas could bear mute witness to the fact that he cared not at all about killing tens of thousands to advance his plans. Jericho couldn't recall offhand the population of Savannah, but he didn't want history to repeat itself.

    Diving forward through the now-snapped police tape, he caught up with Pickup before the guy got halfway to the device. He didn't want to use his powers against a fellow hero, but it didn't look like the asshat was going to listen to reason. Pickup lifted his left foot, bringing it forward. Jericho took his chance and began to throw glue-tags at that foot as fast as he could create them. The tennis-ball sized balls of compacted gravity, visible only by the rainbow effect of distorted light, whipped from his hands and dissolved into their target; left, right, left, right, left, right. Pickup, with his limited range of view, never even saw him doing this. “What the hell do you think you're doing?” Jericho demanded. “I just got done explaining why you're not qualified to deal with this thing!”

    “You don't know shit,” was Pickup's intelligent reminder as he put his left foot down again; Jericho added two more glue-tags to it, just because he could. This had worked last time. With one foot stuck, Pickup would be a lot easier to trip over on to his back. Then, maybe, Jericho could keep him down until the cops could talk sense into him. Stepping forward with his right foot, Pickup went to lift his left foot. To Jericho's relief, it didn't move. “What the shit? You little fuck!”

    “It's for your own good,” Jericho explained tiredly. He was just glad that the majority of Pickup's power went into just moving the repurposed pickup truck that he used as a powersuit. “If it's a bomb and you set it off, a lot of people are gonna die. You might've rebuilt your truck into power armour, but that doesn't mean you'll even have the faintest idea of what Doc Iridium's tech can do.” He switched to push-tags, targeting the back of Pickup's armour. These looked identical to the glue-tags, but instead of forming a gravitational attachment to whatever the armour was touching, each of these added a certain amount of force in the direction of Jericho's choice; in this case, directly away from the apocalypse-themed artificer's device.

    “F … uck … y … ou,” grunted Pickup, trying to lean forward and pull his foot free of the gravitational quagmire Jericho had tangled it in, while hampered in this effort by the hundred or so pounds of kinetic energy doing its best to push the armour backward. Within the armour, Jericho could hear the engine beginning to rev, and the volume of smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe got thicker.

    “Don't!” shouted Jericho, worried that Pickup might blow a radiator valve or something. There was a lot that could go wrong with a pickup truck, and none of it was good if it was next to the pilot. The last time they'd fought, Jericho's G-tags had held until he managed to tip Pickup on to his back. If he could repeat the trick, it might be possible to end this without someone getting hurt. However, a tiny worry niggled at his mind. If Pickup had figured out a way to defeat the G-tags, this could go badly. He prepared to throw a couple more glue-tags at Pickup's knees; if he could freeze the suit's joints, the fight would more or less be over.

    Before he could put this plan into action, there was a crunching, rending sound as a chunk of asphalt tore away from the road, adhering to the bottom of Pickup's left foot. Oh, right. That's the difference from the last fight. We were on concrete.

    He didn't have any more time for subtlety. Reducing his personal gravity to ten percent again, he leaped up with the aim of landing on Pickup's back. With a flick of each wrist, a pair of glue-tags got there first, allowing him to cling effortlessly to the smooth metal. It was hot, but not painfully so. In any case, he didn't intend to be there long.

    “Oh, no, you fucking did not!” bellowed Pickup as Jericho exerted the one power he really had to be careful with; between one second and the next, Pickup's armour began to experience all the effects of being in a ten-gee field.

    Jericho, by contrast only affected by one-tenth of normal gravity, kicked off hard and soared backward in a spectacular double somersault before coming neatly down on his feet. He skidded to a halt and ran forward again, just as Pickup began to topple forward. The instant he judged the power armour had hit the point of no return, he cancelled the multi-gravity field. This wouldn't save Pickup from an embarrassing pratfall, but it would save him from impacting the inside of his suit at car-accident speeds.

    The impact sounded like a ton of scrap metal had been haphazardly dropped on the asphalt. Before Pickup could start to get up, Jericho was on top of him. A moment later, he re-established the multi-gravity state on the armour. It wouldn't be as reliable a method of pinning the asshat down as if the suit was on its back, but he suspected Pickup wouldn't cooperate if Jericho asked him to roll over. Instead, he had another way of making sure Pickup didn't get up. It wouldn't be fun for the guy in the power armour, but it would be safe.

    “Let me up, you fuckin' cocksucker!” bellowed Pickup, his engine changing gears and revving full out. Both arms came up, the large metal hands pressing against the asphalt and sinking into it slightly. Jericho heard pistons creaking and groaning to lift the suit against ten times its rated weight.

    “I swear,” he muttered. Glancing around, he ensured that nobody else was within twenty feet of him, then mentally took hold of the gravity field in that radius … and shook it. Pebbles and twigs in the immediate area juddered and danced on the road, and the engine stuttered then spat black smoke into the air. Below Jericho, Pickup stopped trying to get up. Jericho wasn't surprised, given that his power had just tap-danced all over the asshat's inner ears. This particular ability wasn't exactly dangerous, but it could be amazingly effective. “You gonna be good now?”

    Hello, Jericho.”

    Jericho's head whipped around as a familiar voice emanated from the device. Above it, a head-and-shoulders hologram had formed. The features of the man who'd been perhaps the world's premier artificer smiled faux-benignly back at him. He stared at the image, cursing himself for being all sorts of overconfident fool. Of course the thing was keyed to go off when it detected his power being used.

    If you're seeing this, then I'm dead and you had something to do with it,” Doc Iridium went on. “Therefore, I wish to say 'bravo' for pulling it off. But I'm still going to punish you, because what sort of a world would it be if people didn't get punished for their misdeeds?”

    Still Jericho didn't speak, his mind whirling over the possibilities. Tampering with the device was a sure-fire way of triggering whatever Iridium had planned for him. But if he reversed the heavy-field on Pickup, they could possibly get out of range of whatever the machine had been programmed to do.

    No begging for mercy?” Iridium sounded pleased. “At least you have character, unlike some of the weak-gutted fools out there. But even character's not going to save you now.”

    “So stop goddamn talking and do it,” gritted Jericho, without even realising that he'd done it. “Kill me already.”

    Oh, I'm not going to kill you.” Jericho felt he should've been at least a little startled that it was responding to his words, but then, this was Doc Iridium's work. He hoped Pickup was taking this in. It might be the last lesson the redneck asshat ever learned, but it was better than nothing. “I'm going to do worse than that. I'm going to send you away, so that you spend the rest of your days worrying about what my other booby-traps are doing to the world in your absence.”

    Well, that was a kicker. Of course, the more Iridium talked, the more of a chance Jericho had of getting out of this situation. Without even thinking about it, he reversed the weight treatment on Pickup; rolling off the massive powersuit, he slapped the metal shoulder loudly. “Go!” he shouted. Fortunately, Pickup had actually been paying attention for once, and the diesel engine roared as the armour came off the ground like a rocket. At the same time, Jericho launched himself in a separate direction, using every bit of traction he could garner to get away from ground zero.

    A wave of energy overtook him from behind, searing straight through him. In the next instant, day had turned to night and the asphalt under his feet was the gravel of a rooftop. But before he could begin to assimilate the changes, a wave of flame swept at him from nowhere.

    <><>

    Brockton Bay

    April 10, 2011

    Taylor huddled on the rooftop as Lung stalked toward her, limping slightly and with a hand covering one eye. He couldn't see her, but that didn't make much difference when he could hear her moving from across the street. Another wave of fire swept over the rooftop and she clutched her hands over her head in an attempt to protect her hair from the flames. Her costume seemed to be holding up so far, but she really didn't think that state of affairs was going to continue much longer.

    "Whoaa!” The voice was accompanied by the sound of someone skidding on gravel. Lung never hesitated; the swathe of flame swept sideways, toward where the noise had come from. Taylor drew a welcome breath of air that wasn't super-heated, even as she watched a black-clad guy—who hadn't been there five seconds ago—leap up and do an impossible backflip over the blast of flame Lung was sending his way. It seemed to her that he hung in the air altogether too long, before touching down on the other side of the blast.

    The instant he landed, Lung fired again, targeting the flame toward the almost imperceptible crunch of gravel. This time, the guy ducked low while throwing—something?—at Lung as he did so. Taylor wasn't sure what it was, except that it was ball-shaped and it did weird things to the light as it passed by. Some sort of Blaster power, she guessed. It hit Lung's hand, which jerked upward, sending the stream of flame into the air; the guy dived through the gap thus presented and rolled to his feet. Lung pulled his arm back down, but the guy threw some more of the rainbow balls. This time, Taylor saw the movement clearly. There was obviously a throwing motion, but the weird ball-shaped attack moved in a straight line that ignored mere aspects like gravity and air resistance. They struck, and this time both of Lung's arms were pulled upward.

    “Motherfucker!” Lung's bellow was pure rage. “I'll kill you!” He wrenched his arms downward with pure brute force, but he seemed to be having trouble keeping them there.

    “I'm guessing you're a bad guy then,” the newcomer said, sounding almost clinical about it, though Taylor heard a distinct Southern accent to his voice. “And you're a ranged brick with a damage aura.” He sighed. “Well, sucks to be both of us.” Before Taylor could even wonder what he meant, he darted forward and jumped over Lung; on the way, he clapped his hands—hard—over the metal-scaled parahuman's ears, eliciting a shout of pain from Lung. Once again, he seemed to almost hang in the air between jumping and landing; he touched down next to the roof edge, on the far side of Lung to Taylor. “Hey!” he shouted. “Over here, asshat!”

    That got Lung's attention; Lung whirled toward his tormentor. “Big mistake,” promised the leader of the ABB. Stretching out his arms toward the black-clad cape, he sent another billow of flame washing over the rooftop. “You're fucking dead!”

    Taylor couldn't see what had happened to the newcomer. For a moment, she thought Lung might have gotten him, until he popped his head and shoulders up over the edge of the roof during a lull in the bursts of flame. “Gonna have to do better than that,” he called out in a sing-song, taunting tone. Taylor wasn't at all sure how he was holding on, especially given that his arms and hands were in plain view.

    Lung, on the other hand, wasn't thinking at all now. Cursing vilely, he started toward where the black-clad cape was, clawed hands outstretched to rend and tear. Once again, there was a strange flickering in the air as the newcomer stood his ground, hitting Lung repeatedly with his Blaster ability to no apparent effect. Taylor's breath caught in her throat as Lung closed with him.

    And then, two things happened in quick succession. The first was that Lung tried to slow down, apparently realising that he was getting close to the edge of the roof. The second was that the guy in black dropped back below the edge of the roof and vanished from sight. There came a bellow of dismay from Lung as his feet skidded on the rooftop. Even with both heels dug in and spraying gravel everywhere, he wasn't appreciably slowing down. He hit the edge of the roof and took a header off of it, disappearing with a roar of baffled rage. The sound of him hitting the street below jolted her out of the state of frozen shock, and she climbed to her feet.

    “You okay?” It was the newcomer's voice; she stared as she watched him flip back over the edge of the roof, like a film shown in reverse. Landing on his feet, he dusted his hands off. “Please tell me that he really was a bad guy and you two weren't just sparring for fun.”

    “I-I'm okay, I think,” she stammered. She didn't seem to be on fire, so that was a bonus. Though she had to wonder; which rock had he been living under, that he didn't know Lung? “Um, yeah, Lung's a bad guy. But he's not that easy to put down. He's a regenerator.” Nervously, she began to edge toward the fire escape. “We should get out of here.”

    “Oh, really?” Now he sounded intrigued. “It's been a while since I fought one of those. But he can take a hit, yeah?”

    She stared at him, finally beginning to take in his appearance. His costume was at odds with his attitude; it seemed mainly to have been assembled from common materials, except for the professionally-applied logo on the front of his jacket, an hexagonal-shaped angular G in white, with a chevron above and below it.

    Apart from the logo, black was the dominant colour; black cloth mask covering his head from the cheekbones upward, black jacket and gloves, black jeans and black zip-up boots. His hair (dark brown) had been pulled through a hole at the rear of the mask to hang down in a ponytail. Around his waist, fastened over the jacket, was one of his few pieces of real cape gear; a classic utility belt.

    His eyes were brown, she noted. He was taller than her by at least six inches, but gave the impression of whipcord muscle rather than bulky power. His face was clean-shaven and he looked to be in his late twenties, with a mouth—one of the few visible parts of him—that seemed more ready to smile than frown. “Uh, yeah,” she said belatedly. “He can take a hit.”

    “Good,” he said obscurely, then turned toward the edge of the roof. “Ah, he's going for it.” As he spoke, Lung rose into view. He'd grown a foot or more, and apparently gotten powerful enough to leap on to the roof in a single bound. Except that he seemed to have misjudged the jump, given that he was fifteen feet away from the edge of the roof, and moving farther away. Bemused, Taylor watched him fall back out of sight with a roar of anger.

    “How did you do that?” she asked as Lung crashed into the street below for a second time. “Was it those weird ball-things?”

    “Got it in one,” he said, stepping over to the edge of the roof. “I call them G-tags. Push-tags, to be exact. He's got enough of them affecting him to make it an absolute pain to jump this high. Any chance he's gonna give up and go home?”

    Push-tags. Right. Because they push things. “Not a hope in hell,” she decided. “He fought Leviathan and didn't back down.” Something made her add, “You do know about that, right?”

    He flicked her a glance. “Not offhand but from context, that makes him a badass. Right. Big guns it is.”

    Wait. Is he saying he doesn't know about Lung fighting Leviathan, or that he doesn't know about Leviathan? How can someone not know about that? Taylor was still struggling with the implications of that when Lung bellowed triumphantly from below. A second or so later, a loud crunch heralded the villain's arrival at the edge of the roof, his hands hooked over the brickwork.

    The black-clad cape didn't hesitate. Leaping forward, he drew up his legs and delivered a powerful double kick to Lung's face. The impact drove him backward again; with a perfectly executed backflip, he landed on his feet beside Taylor once more. Taylor's heart plummeted toward her feet as she realised that the otherwise impressive-looking kick had done absolutely nothing at all to Lung.

    And then the ABB cape's eyes opened wide and he disappeared once more amid the sound of shattering brickwork. Where he'd been holding on, two great chunks of masonry had been torn bodily from the wall. From below came a thunderous crash, louder than both of the previous two impacts put together. Then … silence.

    The black-clad cape stood on one foot to examine the sole of the other. “Blech. I hate the smell of burnt rubber.” Putting his foot down, he nodded toward the edge of the roof. “Let's see how tall, metallic and fiery went.”

    Not at all sure that she shouldn't be taking advantage of the respite to make a run for the fire escape, Taylor followed him anyway. Leaning over, she looked down to see … Lung. Lying in a crater that had to be a foot deep and ten feet wide. Even now, she could see him shrinking in size, the metal retracting back into his skin. “Holy crap,” she murmured. “How did you even do that?”

    With a self-deprecatory grin, he tapped the logo on his chest. “I'm guessing you don't know who I am either?”

    She looked at the logo, then shook her head doubtfully. “The way you handled Lung, I'm pretty sure I should've.”

    “Well, that settles it. I'm definitely not in Savannah any more.” As obscure as the statement was, he didn't seem to be pleased by it. “They call me G-Man. I manipulate gravity. Lung—am I saying it right? Dragon-guy down there found out what it's like to fall twenty feet under ten gees of acceleration.”

    Taylor blinked. While she hadn't taken the elective Physics class, she'd read enough science fiction to understand the basics of what G-Man seemed to be talking about. Twenty feet at ten gees would've made Lung hit the ground like he fell two hundred feet. She wasn't surprised he was out like a light. In fact, I'll be astonished if the impact didn't break most of the bones in his body.

    A distant sound caught her attention; a motorcycle engine, rapidly coming closer. There weren't many people in Brockton Bay who would drive toward an ongoing cape fight, and fewer still who would do that and also owned motorbikes. She tilted her head toward the noise. “I think we've got company. Hopefully, it's the heroes.”

    G-Man nodded. “Got it. I'm going down to meet them. Want to come with, or stay up here? Your choice.” He held out his hand, as courteously as if he were asking her to dance.

    Once again, part of her strongly considered staying on the roof. She was only just starting to replenish her diminished swarm, after all. But if a fight started, she suspected G-Man could hold his own long enough for her to make a run for it. Whatever else he was, he wasn't a novice with his powers. Reaching out, she took his hand.

    “Now, I could be an asshat and give you a heart attack by dragging you off the roof just to show off,” he went on. “But that would be unkind to you. So I'm letting you know that gravity's got one-tenth of its normal effect on you. Like this.” Letting go her hand, he dived off the roof, spreading his arms to reveal some sort of elastic cloth stitched between his arms and sides. Curling forward, he pulled off a ridiculously unrealistic somersault as he fell slowly toward the pavement below.

    Taylor stared, then bounced experimentally on her toes. To her astonishment, she found herself actually lifting a few inches into the air before floating down again. “Well, crap,” she said out loud. “Okay, then.” Before she could talk herself out of it, she hopped forward, easily clearing the parapet.

    Falling at one-tenth of a gravity was weird. She didn't have G-Man's cloth inserts in her costume, but she found that simply spreading her arms let her guide her fall to a certain extent. Downward she drifted in slow motion, gradually gaining speed but not fast enough to concern her. It had to be more than three seconds before she hit the cracked concrete. G-Man was crouching by Lung with a hand on the ABB leader's neck; as she touched down, he looked around at her and gave an approving nod. In the next instant, she felt her full weight return.

    “Well, he's alive anyway,” he said with satisfaction, standing up. “But he won't be getting up until they can bring in whatever containment measures they use for people like him.” Closer to, it appeared Lung had been literally driven into the concrete by the fall; around and under him, the durable surface had been reduced to powder in some places.

    “So can you do that to anyone?” she asked. “I mean, make them fall over at ten times normal gravity?” It was a little rude of her, she knew, but the question had been niggling at her since she saw him make Lung fall.

    “Yeah, but I've got to touch them,” he said cheerfully. “The G-tags are ranged, but that trick's touch only.” He grinned, suddenly looking like a teenager. “Fortunately, the ones I most need to use it on are the type who want to get into hand to hand anyway.”

    She considered that. It did seem to be a very effective anti-Brute measure. And the inverse, making himself ultra-light, had also shown its combat utility. “So I guess you never have to worry about falling?”

    “Not as such, no.” He seemed about to say something else, but at that moment the motorbike engine rose to a roar as the vehicle itself swept around the corner. “Okay, now I'm impressed.”

    Taylor was a lot more than just 'impressed'. There was no mistaking the motorcycle or its rider; Armsmaster was an icon not only in Brockton Bay, but for quite some distance outside it. Meeting Lung on her first outing had nearly scuttled her career before it began, but the prospect of meeting Armsmaster went a long way toward making up for that.

    Armsmaster stopped the bike a prudent distance away from them, then stepped off it with no wasted motions. Reaching behind his back, he produced his Halberd, arguably the most famous Tinker-created weapon on the east coast; with a series of clicks, it unfolded to its full length. Moving forward with the weapon in a guard stance, he seemed to be eyeing them up and down.

    “You gonna fight me?” he asked, stopping about four yards away. To his credit, he didn't seem overly concerned about fighting two capes at once, even capes with unknown powers.

    “Depends,” G-Man said bluntly. “Hero or villain?”

    His words totally derailed Taylor's intended defensive statement to the effect that they were good guys. Armsmaster seemed to be taken aback by the question as well. “I'm a hero,” he snapped. “I'm Armsmaster. Surely you've heard of me.”

    Beside her, G-Man shrugged slightly. “Can't be too careful,” he said almost casually. “We're heroes, both of us. That's the villain down there.” With his right hand, he pointed at where Lung was still lying in the impact crater.

    Taking another step closer, Armsmaster tilted his head slightly. “You don't look like heroes.”

    His words stung, but G-Man laughed out loud. “Seriously? What does a hero even look like? Villains don't have a monopoly on dark colours.”

    Armsmaster's lips thinned at that. Taylor guessed his pronouncements didn't get challenged very often. It wasn't as if she'd been about to contradict him. Even though Purity wore white and Alexandria wore black.

    “I wasn't talking about the colour scheme,” the armoured hero said tightly. “I was talking about her appearance. The bug theme. It's … menacing. People won't like it.”

    Taylor wasn't looking at G-Man, but from the sound of his voice, he was rolling his eyes. “By which you mean you don't like it. It's not the costume or the look that's heroic. It's what you do with it. Anyway, animal themes are classic. Pop culture's full of them. Judgemental much?”

    While Taylor didn't want to contradict her rescuer, she supposed Armsmaster had a point. The only animal-themed capes she knew of were Lung and Hookwolf and Stormtiger … well, there was Dragon, in Canada, and of course Narwhal too. Maybe G-Man's got a point as well.

    Armsmaster frowned at that, but seemed to think it wasn't worth pursuing. “Well, you're telling the truth about being heroes, anyway,” he conceded. Taylor wondered how he knew that with such certainty, but didn't want to draw attention to herself by asking. “You've both been fighting Lung. Either of you need a hospital?”

    G-Man shrugged. “I'm good. A few burns, but it's only minor stuff. I'll be fine by morning. But I think I might need to get my boots re-soled.” He turned to Taylor. “How about you? Your hair's a bit scorched there. Did he get you anywhere?”

    It threw Taylor a little to hear him describing burns as 'minor stuff', but that wasn't the strangest thing she'd heard him say, so she focused on the question. “Uh, no. I don't think so.”

    “Good,” Armsmaster said. “You're both new faces. What are you calling yourselves?”

    “I'm G-Man,” said the newcomer boldly. “That's capital G, with a hyphen. And before you ask, I've got no connection with the FBI. The only thing I've got in common with them is that we both take down bad guys.”

    “So noted,” Armsmaster replied, just a little dryly. Then he turned to Taylor. “And you?”

    Ah. This wasn't where she wanted to be. “I, uh, I never actually got around to choosing a name. You know how hard it is to find a bug-themed name that doesn’t make me sound like a supervillain or a complete dork?”

    Armsmaster chuckled warmly. “I wouldn’t know. I got into the game early enough that I didn’t have to worry about missing out on all of the good names.”

    “It took me about a week to settle on mine,” G-Man offered. “Some people laughed, at first. The ones who paid attention, anyway. And then I got better at kicking ass, and they stopped laughing.” He gave Taylor a serious look. “I'm willing to bet we can brainstorm you a name that's worthy of that costume. Because the costume is seriously very impressive. What's it made of, anyway?”

    “Black widow dragline silk,” Taylor explained, gratified that someone had finally asked. “It's the second-toughest spider silk in the world.” Part of her wanted to keep talking and tell them how she'd looked up books on weaving to figure out how to make her spiders construct her costume, but she made herself shut up.

    “We're always looking for new capes to join the Protectorate and the Wards,” Armsmaster said unexpectedly. “Whatever the toughest spider silk in the world comes from, we could get it for you.” He gestured at the signs of fire damage, and the still-unconscious Lung in the crater. “And as you can see, it's dangerous out here if you don't have backup.” He looked from G-Man to Taylor. “At first I thought you two were a team, but you aren't, are you?”

    G-Man shook his head. “No. When I arrived on the scene, I saw she was in trouble, so I stepped in.” He shrugged. “The guy's tough, but tough is usually easier to beat than smart.”

    “True, but you only have to be unlucky once.” Armsmaster turned to Taylor. “You're obviously motivated and smart. You'd go far in the Wards.”

    The Wards were cool in theory, but Taylor had no desire to throw herself into yet another mess of teen drama with possibly-spotty adult oversight. Before she could figure out how to politely turn him down, G-Man did it for her. “I learned something a long time ago,” he said casually. “If someone wants you to join them, it's a good idea to figure out what they get out of the deal before committing yourself. Superhero teams are definitely included in that.” He gave Armsmaster a polite smile. “Sorry, but I think I'll be taking the lay of the land before I consider any offers.”

    “I, uh, yeah, I think I'll be doing that too,” Taylor said hastily. “Consider my options and all that.”

    Armsmaster managed to hide his reaction well; only the corner of his mouth twitched downward for a moment. “Suit yourselves,” he said. “I'll just be taking Lung, then.” He turned to look at the prone cape. “I'm actually surprised he's still down, to be honest. What did you hit him with?”

    “The pavement,” G-Man said, his words truthful if a little misleading. “Repeatedly.”

    Lung chose that moment to groan and try to move his arm. In what had to be a practised move, Armsmaster twirled the Halberd, then jabbed him in the bicep with the tip of the weapon. There was a hiss as (Taylor suspected) something was injected. Armsmaster watched him for a moment, then nodded. “That should hold him,” he decided, before turning his attention back to G-Man. “So you're a Brute, then?”

    “Cousin Serena called me that one time when we were just kids,” G-Man said with a grin. “Don't think anyone's done it since.”

    Oh, shit. He doesn't know what Armsmaster means. Taylor was starting to get an idea that wherever G-Man was from, it wasn't anyplace she knew about. He was a superhero, with powers, but knew nothing about Lung or Leviathan, and he hadn't recognised Armsmaster. “He's not a Brute,” she said hastily. “He's got Striker and Blaster powers. I'm a Master, with control over any bug you'd care to name.” She knew she was giving away more information than she was comfortable with telling Armsmaster, but if it helped turn official attention away from the guy who'd saved her life, it was worth it.

    It worked; Armsmaster looked at her sharply. “Just bugs? Nothing more than that?”

    Taylor shrugged. “Just bugs. And earthworms too, for some reason. It's how I thought I could stop Lung, right up until he lit himself on fire.”

    “Hmm.” Armsmaster looked at G-Man again, then back to Taylor. “So, moving forward. Who gets the credit for Lung?”

    Taylor was caught off guard by the question. G-Man started to speak, but Armsmaster held up his hand. “Hear me out. What you’ve done tonight is spectacular. You played a part in getting a major villain into custody. You just need to consider the consequences.”

    “Consequences,” Taylor muttered, even as the word spectacular rang in her ears. Armsmaster thinks I was spectacular.

    Armsmaster's tone was almost professorial now. “Lung has an extensive gang throughout Brockton Bay and neighbouring cities. More than that, he has two superpowered flunkies. Oni Lee and Bakuda.” The inference was obvious. Taking credit is more trouble than it's worth.

    Taylor caught G-Man's gaze narrowing slightly, and wondered what he was thinking. In the meantime, she had her own observation to make. “I know about Oni Lee, but I've never heard of Bakuda.”

    “Not surprising,” agreed Armsmaster. “She’s new. What we know about her is limited. She made her first appearance and demonstration of her powers by way of a drawn out terrorism campaign against Cornell University. Lung apparently recruited her and brought her to Brockton Bay after her plans were foiled by the New York Protectorate. This is… something of a concern.”

    “I'm more concerned by the fact that a whole team couldn't catch her,” G-Man interjected. “What's her power rating?”

    “Her classification is Tinker,” the armoured hero said. “You're aware of what that means?”

    G-Man almost certainly wasn't, so Taylor jumped in again. “That, uh, that covers anyone with powers that give them an advanced grasp of science, right? It lets them make technology years ahead of its time. Ray guns, ice blasters, mechanised suits of armour, advanced computers, stuff like that.”

    Beside her, G-Man muttered something that sounded like 'artifice', but Armsmaster was speaking again.

    “Close enough,” he said. Taylor belatedly realised that unless he got his armour and Halberd from someone else, he himself was probably a Tinker as well. “Most Tinkers have a speciality or a special trick. Something they’re particularly good at or something that they can do, which other Tinkers can’t. Bakuda’s speciality is bombs.”

    That … was definitely a real concern. A woman with the ability to make technologically advanced bombs? Taylor couldn't even begin to figure out what such a device might do. Ordinary bombs were plenty bad enough.

    “Now I want you to consider the danger involved in taking the credit for Lung’s capture,” Armsmaster went on smoothly. “Without a doubt, Oni Lee and Bakuda will be looking to accomplish two goals. Freeing their boss and getting vengeance on the one responsible. I suspect you’re now aware … these are scary people. Scarier in some ways than their boss.”

    Taylor was starting to feel distinctly worried by now. Armsmaster was making some extremely valid points, and she was beginning to feel rather unsure as to which way she should jump on the matter. Then G-Man cleared his throat, a grin creasing his face. “You almost had me,” he said. “Not bad. I give it a six out of ten. But then you had to go and overdo it.”

    Brought to a metaphorical screeching halt, Armsmaster's helmet whipped around toward G-Man. “Excuse me?” he demanded. “What are you even talking about?”

    “You twitched just as you were talking about the 'extensive gang',” G-Man clarified. “He's got fewer than a hundred guys working for him, doesn't he? Maybe one or two out of towners, but not a huge gang. Nothing that would make either one of us break a sweat.”

    Taylor's eyebrows rose inside her mask. She hadn't even noticed whatever 'twitch' G-Man had spotted. Armsmaster was lying to us? The idea was … breathtaking. And deeply worrying.

    “He's still got Bakuda and Oni Lee,” Armsmaster argued. “They're dangerous and they don't mind hurting people.” Taylor noted that he hadn't debated G-Man's point. “Unless you've got serious backing, your best option is to fly under the radar and not take the credit for this one. It's for your own good.”

    G-Man shook his head. “You're trying too hard. You want either me and her working for your team, or the credit for this. Or both, probably. Am I warm?” Armsmaster's lips compressed slightly, and G-Man nodded his head. “Gotcha. So, this is how it's gonna go. She and I will share the credit. We'll contact you with whatever name she's gonna be using for the press release, and we go from there. Also, I'll be needing whatever you've got on Bakuda and Oni Lee.”

    Armsmaster's head came up at that. “What do you want that for? I'm not about to release classified Protectorate files on some random cape's say-so.”

    A flash of annoyance crossed G-Man's face but when he spoke, his voice was calm and controlled. “So I can bring them in, of course. If they're such a danger to the public, they need to be in custody. Also, making life safer for me and her at the same time.” He glanced at Taylor. “You in? Your choice.”

    Taylor blinked. “Uh … can I think about it?” While teaming up with G-Man seemed a little better than being drafted into the Wards, there was a lot about him she didn't know, up to and including where he was really from.

    “Certainly.” He gave her a grin. “I doubt I'll get those files immediately, anyway.”

    “I doubt you'll get them at all.” Armsmaster's voice held annoyance. “We've had people like you in town before. Come to Brockton Bay and immediately decide that you can rid us of all our villains. Take a hint before you end up decorating a slab.”

    “So just because it's hard, you'd rather not try. Got it.” G-Man seemed about to say more, then he visibly stopped himself. “Sorry, I was out of line. I am new in town, and I haven't had time to see how you do things. But I've been around the block once or twice, and I've seen the results of letting things slide. It's never pretty.” He gave Armsmaster a tight smile. “We will be taking credit for Lung's capture, though.”

    “Suit yourself.” Despite the apology, Armsmaster didn't seem to be mollified. “I'll need a name for you though,” he added, looking at Taylor. “The press release goes out in the morning.”

    “Uh,” she said, floundering. “Um.” All the names that she'd considered and rejected whirled in her head.

    “How about Mandible, for the mask?” suggested G-Man. He turned to Armsmaster. “How permanent are these names?”

    “As permanent as the public decides they are,” the Tinker replied bluntly. “If they seize on to a name, that's usually it. The only way to change after that is to rebrand with a new costume and announce yourself as a totally new cape on the scene. And even then, if you slip and reveal the connection, they just might hit you with the old name anyway.”

    Taylor wasn't very attached to 'Mandible', but she didn't hate it either. It was honestly better than Vermin, Maggot, Chrysalis or some of the more villainous-sounding names she'd tried out. Actually, Chrysalis didn't sound too bad when spoken out loud, but it did give the impression that she was about to break open at any moment and release a horde of insects. Eugh, no thanks. “I can go with Mandible for the moment,” she allowed, then stopped as another name occurred to her. “Actually, is Stinger taken?”

    Armsmaster tilted his head slightly. “One moment.” He paused for a few seconds, then shook his head. “It's taken. A missile Tinker on the west coast.”

    G-Man let out what sounded like a chuckle, but overrode it with a cough. Armsmaster looked at him suspiciously. G-Man shook his head, apparently trying not to smile. “Nothing. So, it's settled? Mandible and G-Man get the credit for bringing in Lung. Oh, and what happens to him from here? Jail time? I'm thinking supermax. From the way he fights, he's killed people before.”

    “He has.” Armsmaster's tone suggested that G-Man and Taylor would've been better off letting the professionals—that is, him—deal with the matter. “He's had his three strikes. This time it'll be the Birdcage.”

    Taylor caught the sideways glance G-Man flicked at her, and she nodded very slightly. As horrific as going to the Birdcage sounded—and it sounded pretty bad—she couldn't think of a better place for Lung.

    “Sure, sounds legitimate to me,” the black-clad cape said cheerfully. “You need a hand with him, or are you good?”

    “I'll be fine,” grunted Armsmaster as he folded his Halberd and stored it on his back. Stepping up next to Lung, he leaned down and hoisted the unconscious cape limply over one shoulder. Taylor could hear the servos in his armour whining, but that was only because she had some bugs sitting on the joints. Step by step, he moved toward his motorcycle.

    “Wait a moment.” G-Man pointed at Lung's naked butt, which was now pointing at the sky right next to Armsmaster's face. Taylor was averting her eyes, because Lung's groin was right there as well; she already knew far too much about it from covering it with her bugs during the fight. “There's some reddening here. A rash of some sort. Does your knockout dose cause allergic reactions?”

    “It's been tested to be ninety-nine point nine percent hypo-allergenic,” Armsmaster replied bluntly. “Whatever that is, it's not from the tranquilliser.” He kept moving.

    Taylor raised her hand tentatively. “Uh, that might be from the bugs I bit him with.”

    “Really?” G-Man turned to look at her; after a moment, Armsmaster followed suit. “What did you hit him with, and how many?” He sounded interested and amused, rather than accusing.

    She took a deep breath anyway, to steady herself and make sure her voice didn't shake. Dealing with two veteran heroes—she knew Armsmaster was a longtime hero in good standing, and G-Man certainly gave that impression as well—was nerve-wracking as all hell. Even if G-Man seemed determined to treat her as an equal. “Uh, black widows, wasps, bees, hornets, brown recluses, fire ants and some others. As many as I could get on him, to be honest.”

    G-Man chuckled. “'All the bullets we had,'” he quoted. “Got it.” He tilted his head toward Lung. “And you attacked his junk because just hearing about it will make every male villain in the vicinity reflexively cross his legs, or did you have another reason?”

    “Um, most of him was covered in scales by that point,” she ventured. “He hadn't set himself on fire yet, but I couldn't reach his skin in most places. So I had them sting and bite him there.”

    “And there's a lot of blood vessels close to the surface there,” mused G-Man. Taylor saw his eyebrows raise under his mask as he looked at Lung once more. “Well, the man's tough, I'll give him that. I don't know anyone who could keep fighting after getting stung on the junk by that many bugs.” He pursed his lips slightly. “Might want to see about getting a blood tox screening once you get him to the hospital,” he said to Armsmaster. “Brown recluses can lead to people losing limbs. Just to be on the safe side, you know?”

    “He's a regenerator,” Armsmaster said, sounding irritated. “He'll be fine.”

    “A regenerator who's been hit with enough bug venom to wipe out your average gridiron team, been dropped off a building multiple times and shot up with enough happy-juice to give an entire psych ward the giggles,” G-Man pointed out. “If I was you, I'd get him checked out. Just in case, you know.”

    “I'll take all due care with him.” Armsmaster reached his cycle and Taylor watched as a cage unfolded from what would normally have been the back seat. Lung was unceremoniously dumped into it, and the bars locked into place. He climbed on to the bike, then looked back over his shoulder. “Keep your noses clean. I'll be keeping an eye on you.”

    The motorcycle started with a subdued roar, then moved off with far too much acceleration for something of that size. G-Man watched it go, and let out a heartfelt sigh. “Be still, my beating heart.”

    Inside her mask, Taylor rolled her eyes. Boys and their toys. “That went … well, I guess?”

    G-Man snorted and shook his head slightly. “As well as could be expected. The guy's a glory hound of the highest order. He's an artificer trying to fill the role of a dynamic, and he's upset because a couple of actual dynamics stole his thunder.”

    “A what trying to fill the role of a what?” Taylor stared at him, a little confused.

    “Artificers build things. You call them Tinkers, right?” G-Man waited till she nodded. “And dynamics are those of us who have actual superhuman powers. You control bugs, I control gravity. Yeah?”

    “Uh, yeah, but why do you use two different names?” Taylor decided to bite the bullet and ask the sixty-four million dollar question. “Where are you from, anyway? Earth Aleph?”

    “Where I'm from, we just call it 'Earth',” he clarified. “No extra names. I was sent here because … well, let's just say, someone had a grudge.”

    She waited, but he didn't seem willing to expand on the topic. “Uh, so,” she ventured. “We call dynamics 'capes' here, or 'parahumans'. And Tinkers are just another type of cape.”

    “Weird,” he muttered. “We use the term 'cape' too, but it's a kind of derogatory term, like 'cog' for artificer, or 'cowl' for prodigy. Or ethnic slurs.”

    Taylor wondered what a 'prodigy' was where he came from, but decided not to get into that. “So, uh, do you have any idea how you're going to get back home?”

    “Only the vaguest outline of a plan at the moment,” he admitted. “You've got artificers, or whatever you call them here, so there's a chance someone will be able to build what I need. I just need to find the right person and have what they need to convince them to build it. And in the meantime, I'm gonna need to find someplace to stay, and a job to keep a roof over my head and food inside me. Which is where I'm totally blanking. My ID won't do crap for me, and the only way I can think of earning money right now is to find the criminal element and mug them.” He gave her a hopeful look. “You wouldn't happen to know where I could find cheap accommodation and legal work where they won't look too closely at my ID, would you?”

    Taylor blinked. “Um … I could show you the nearest YMCA, if you want. And …” She paused, thinking. He'd said 'legal', which left out ninety percent of the Empire and Merchant based work in the city. “Well, if you turned up at the Dockworkers' Association and asked for casual work, they might or might not have a place for you.”

    He pulled a notebook from one of his belt pouches and scribbled in it with the stub of a pencil. “Got it. In the meantime, does this money look okay to you?” Stowing the notebook and pencil away, he opened another pouch and pulled out some folded banknotes.

    She looked them over carefully. Apart from the ones and twos, they looked fine. “We use coins for these, but the rest are okay,” she said. Carrying money's a great idea. I wish I'd thought of it.

    “Excellent.” He stashed the currency away again. “So, if you wanted to team up, how would we get in touch with each other? I'm not going to ask your home address, and I'm not going to have a fixed address for a while, and I'm pretty sure my mobile is out of service right now.”

    That was a tough one. She liked G-Man; he was competent, and treated her like an adult. And he hadn't stared at her chest or butt even once. But how to get in contact with him? “We could send messages on PHO,” she suggested. At his blank look, she elaborated. “ParaHumans Online. Message boards. I'll make an account as Mandible, you make one as G-Man and we can send PMs to each other.”

    “Oh, good idea,” he agreed. “Now, why did we never do that?” A moment later, his expression of enlightenment was replaced with a frown. “Of course, it might be a little while before I can get regular access to a computer.”

    “Ugh.” Taylor frowned. “Okay, how about this. Once you get hold of a city map, locate the northern ferry terminal. It's out of use, so nobody goes there. We'll leave messages on the roof.” With his powers, she was sure, he could easily jump on to the roof of the terminal.

    He had the notebook out again. “That's something I can definitely do,” he agreed. “So, about that YMCA?”

    She grinned. “Sure. Can we use your low-gravity thing? That was awesome.”

    “Certainly.” Reaching out, he tapped her on the shoulder. “Tag.” Then he was gone, leaping upward in a backward somersault that ended on top of the roof behind them. Laughing, she gathered herself and jumped, soaring upward in a way that almost made her think she could fly.

    The night, she decided, had turned out far better than she'd expected.

    <><>

    Brian

    As the two leaped away over the rooftops, Brian turned to Lisa. “So, what the hell just happened?”

    She shook her head. “I've never heard of or seen that guy before. He's got gravity powers, and he knows how to use them to their full effect. Plus, it looks like they're teaming up. No way in hell we're gonna recruit her now.”

    “Good.” That was Rachel. “We don't need new members.”

    Lisa frowned. “No, not good. The boss said to recruit her if we could. With her powers, she could've given us a real boost. Now we've got this guy to deal with, and he's a flat-out heroic type.”

    “Who bounced Lung off the street like a rubber ball,” Alec reminded them. “No way I'm messing with someone like that. Unless you've figured out his secret weakness or something.”

    “Oh, I've got something,” Lisa said, her fox-like grin returning in full force. “He's gay. And I'm pretty sure Brian's his type.” She batted her eyelids at Brian. “So, how do you feel about taking one for the team?”

    “Screw you,” Brian retorted.

    “Oh, I'm not the one who's interested in you,” Lisa riposted. Alec laughed out loud.

    Still bickering, the Undersiders rode away into the night.


    End of Part One
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  3. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Well, looks good so far. Interesting take on the Armsmaster scene - I've seen plenty of fics where Taylor (or someone else) calls him on his 'for your own good' argument being self-serving, but I think this is the first where he was outright deceiving his audience.
     
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  4. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Well, I seem to recall a WoG where the ABB was noted as having 60 or so members. This clashes with Armsmaster's contention of them being a huge gang. G-Man has trained himself in picking up body language (Prodigy is basically the super-power of being Batman) so he was able to call him on it.

    (Personally, I suspect WB didn't recall the original quote by Armsmaster when he later decided the ABB wasn't all that big).
     
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  5. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Another option is that, well, we know exactly how little threat 60-odd gangbangers with guns are to Skitter, but that doesn't mean Armsmaster did.
     
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  6. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Either way, he was deliberately trying to steer her away from taking credit.
     
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  7. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Well, yes. That's the point of making a persuasive argument. The relevant questions are: did he genuinely believe she would be better off not taking credit? And did he misrepresent facts in order to convince her?
     
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  8. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    He believed that he'd be better off taking credit, and that superseded any need of hers to take credit.

    Also, he might even have convinced himself that it was in her best interests, whether this was true or not.

    And finally, the final numbers for the Merchants do not fit his description here. So I'm thinking he exaggerated for effect.

    Did he lie? He may not have even thought so, himself. This is the man who convinced himself it was worth it to sacrifice a number of villains (plus one or two heroes) in order to get the glory of taking down Leviathan. (Note that he specifically tried to set it up so Taylor would die, because she'd embarrassed him and made it harder for him to hold on to the leadership position. Which shows where his priorities are at the moment).
     
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