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In Which a Stray Cat Saves the World (Worm)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Hydra_sv, May 9, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: Part 1
    Hydra_sv

    Hydra_sv Making the rounds.

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    In Which a Stray Cat Saves the World is a maximum WAFF tale of Amy opening a clinic and being happy and having Fun! Maximum Unworminess is in play. Much LGBT also people smile and stuff.



    “Kitty!”

    Amy grabbed the cat out of the gutter, healing it as she did. Carol gave her a sharp glare.

    “Put it down.”

    “Mom, I just want a pet. I can take care of it, you know I can.”

    “No. It's my house and I don’t want another mess maker.”

    Amy scowled. Of course it was true, it was her house, but it was Amy’s too, though Carol probably didn’t think so. No one had ever had to tell Amy she was adopted. She had met other adopted children; they had said it was such a surprise when their parents told them. Not for her — Carol might as well have spent her life screaming, “LOOK, THIS IS THE ADOPTED ONE!”

    Still… kitty! She pet it a few times and in a fit of pique-y rebellion ‘upgraded’ the cat.

    That was fun.

    This cat was a survivor now, with super efficient muscles and digestion. A nice sleek coat of fur, all white and black and spotty.

    Pretty kitty! You’re gonna get all the girl cats.

    Carol could go fuck herself. Amy could arrange that biological possibility. She shook her head in amusement.

    She stuck her tongue out at Carol. “Fine. But when he dies it's all on you.”

    Carol raised an eyebrow at her but there was a bit of amusement there. Carol wasn’t all bad, she just couldn’t have been more partial if she tried. She could just make her more agreeable… NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE ALERT BACK AWAY FROM THE CRAZY!

    Amy took a deep breath, centering herself. That’s not the proper way to handle this disagreement. Amy paused in the street. She needed an outlet. She was way too stressed, and if her power worked on herself she’d make herself more agreeable.

    I’m the problem here.

    Amy frowned as the thought passed through her. She should know better than to talk that badly about herself, that’s how things got worse for people.

    I’m the problem here.

    That was meta level stupidity. Thinking badly about herself made her feel judgemental about herself, which then made her feel worse about herself, like a big circle of angsty angsty angst angst.

    Brains are stupid and I’m an idiot.

    That’s not any better!

    Angsty angst angst!


    She huffed and set down the kitty.

    Goodbye brave soul. Make lots of other super kitties all more adorable than the last!

    Carol adjusted her pantsuit while looking at her.

    “Don’t worry Amy, this situation isn’t your fault. You asked, it's all on record.”

    “I did everything I was supposed to do, I asked for consent, I waited for their answer, so why are they suing me?” Amy whined.

    They finished walking up the steps to the courthouse before Carol replied. “Because they think its easy money. If you squint at NEPEA-5 hard enough they might have a case. Also someone was going to eventually. But mostly they’re just assholes.”

    Amy snorted.

    Why do I even bother helping people?

    Wow, what a heroic thought.


    She needed to stop circling this drain.

    “Mom.”

    Carol looked over and Amy cycled through a thousand ways to complain about the situation, about her power, about her mental state; but she knew nothing would matter in the face of Carol’s obstinacy.

    “Yes?”

    Amy raised her hands to her temples. “Never mind.”

    “Headache?”

    She nodded. It was a total lie, but it was better than admitting to all the things Carol would judge her for. And Vicky listened but didn’t really understand. And Mark was half dead from depression, and she could fix that!

    NO! No brains!

    “Should I open my own clinic?”

    Carol sputtered for a second. “I mean, that’s possible, maybe? It’d be hard though. I’d have to consult on it. Is that something you’d want?”

    “It’d be a lot harder for people to complain if everything was signed and filed before they came in. I’m just tired, the whole things been exhausting and I don’t feel like I’m really doing as much as I could, I could set hours? I mean I could carry a pager too for emergencies like a real doctor?”

    Carol was silent for a moment. A strange look of wonder was on the woman’s face, as if thoughts she’d never had before had suddenly appeared.

    “I see. I’ll look into it. Give me a week, maybe two?”

    Amy considered herself an expert on Carol’s moods — out of necessity if nothing else — but she was confused now. Still, a little hope maybe? Amy smiled, trying to channel Vicky’s positivity which Carol responded to with a soft grin of her own.

    “Everything will be okay, Amy.”

    The weirdest part was that Amy actually believed it.



    “I’ll have to have a limit on the number of patients I can treat? What?”

    “Excluding emergencies, NEPEA-5 restricts how competitive a Parahuman can be. You’re allowed a competitive advantage but not an overwhelming one. You can clear out a whole wing in an hour if you really focus; I’ve seen that, Amy. This is to make sure you don’t put the hospitals out of business.”

    Amy grinned, feeling a bit of excitement. “And I’ll earn a salary? I mean I don’t care about the money but would I be able to hire consultants? Like brain surgeons?”

    Carol nodded. Amy felt like she was falling apart with how nice this sounded.

    “What would you recommend my hours be?”

    “Well based off these numbers you could probably hit your limit in a few hours, if you averaged it out. Though you could just open on the weekends and carry the pager the rest of the time for emergencies.”

    Carol sounded so approving it was disconcerting. Amy was in a foreign land.

    “This sounds good.”

    “It should be very good for you. And to speak plainly, it fits into the image of New Wave. You’ll have standard legal considerations, so it’ll all have to be above board and open and accountable. I don’t know why I didn’t consider it before, honestly.”

    Amy breathed out a sigh of relief.



    The teenage girl sat in front of her. Her name was Emma? Amy looked at the clipboard again to make sure. This was her fifth week with the clinic and it was going perhaps too well, really. She still had meddlesome intrusive thoughts but the consistency and stability of knowing when she’d get to use her powers helped settle her.

    The girl looked embarrassed and she glared at her Dad until he left the room, earning a snort from Amy.

    “Um… thanks for fixing me up. I… do you do cosmetics?”

    Amy sputtered for a second.

    YES I CAN! FUN!

    The voice in her head was so loud she decided to entertain the other girl’s curiosity.

    Tentatively she answered, “What did you have in mind?”

    The girl blushed hard. “I have a mole, um… in a spot I don’t want it.”

    Oh. Oh! Easy. Fun!

    “I could do that. I could get rid of all the moles, actually. Easier that way, so you don’t have to tell me where it is.”

    The relief was palpable and Amy for her part was more amused than embarrassed.

    “Um… I’ll just do this for free; do you consent?”

    The girl nodded vigorously, her blush still so vibrant it could have brightened the room. Amy grabbed her hand and went to work.

    Pesky moles, victimizing this poor beautiful teenage girl.

    She hid her snort at the thought and smiled. “All done. Now go and mole no more.”

    Emma? Yes, Emma, giggled and scampered out of the door.

    I should talk to Carol about cosmetic surgeries. FUN!



    “Cosmetic surgery?”

    “It's just this girl, she was my age. She had a mole she didn’t want and I got rid of it for her.”

    Carol raised her eyebrow.

    “I asked first, it was an embarrassing mole in a place she didn’t want to show anyone! I just thought maybe I could do cosmetic surgery too? I’d be happier to charge market rates for that to pay for consultants?”

    “What kind?”

    “Um… I won’t say the sky’s the limit cause there are some things I might be able to do that I wouldn’t. But um… I could do equivalents to most plastic surgeries? Weight loss too. And um… I could do sex changes?”

    Carol’s eyes widened a bit. “And you weren’t doing any of this before because?”

    There was an accusation there but something about it felt welcoming rather than angry. Amy took a breath.

    “It scares me. I can do too much. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

    Carol’s eyes widened a bit more, and that strange look of wonder was on her face again.

    “Oh. Well… that’s good.”

    Carol paused for a moment, her eyes flitting around the room in an almost confused state. Whatever thoughts were hiding there, Amy wasn’t sure, but Carol eventually came back to the room.

    “Amy. I’m very proud of you.”

    Amy’s jaw dropped and Carol’s eyes got so sad she turned her head away. What was going on in her life right now? What even was this reality?

    Silence passed for a bit before Carol turned back to her, seemingly in control again.

    “It’ll have to be a separate business entity. I’ll do some standard pricing research. Do you need to practice this?”

    Amy shook her head. “No, my power does all the heavy lifting.”

    “Are there things you wouldn’t want to do?”

    Amy considered. “Does NEPEA-5 restrict me from providing services ordinary doctors can’t?”

    “No, but you’d have to be very limited in that regard. It can’t be more than… I think twenty percent of your revenue or something close.”

    Carol got really quiet for a moment. “Would you be willing to fix Mark?”

    “I’m still scared of brains and my power’s not good at memories. I don’t want to mess that up. I can’t lose Dad.”

    Carol nodded and looked thoughtful. “Can you replace his medication? Like have his body produce it? He always forgets, he’s better when he takes it. I miss him.”

    Amy’s eyes widened. “Yeah, I could. I never thought about it that way. Yeah…”

    Ohh! Fun!

    Amy’s head spun for a moment. “Go get him.”

    Carol’s genuine smile made Amy feel like she was eight years old being rewarded with ice cream. She hated how good it felt.



    The day her cosmetic business had opened she had been inundated with requests. She did medical work on Saturday and cosmetic surgery on Sunday now. She ended up having to hire two people just to manage her schedule. Then she had to sit down and explain that they needed to organize her work by humanitarian need rather than what made the most money.

    She gave them raises a week later. Amy was rich now. It was weird.

    Still though, the second week had started with…

    With a girl. A girl she knew, actually. Which was neat cause Amy hadn’t known she was a girl. Amy had healed Dennis’s dad months ago. She came into the office already red as a tomato, cosmetic need undisclosed. This ought to be good.

    “Hey Amy.” She sounded dejected.

    “Hey Dennis.”

    “Um… yeah. Um…” She closed her eyes, breathing out.

    She pulled a folder out of her backpack and handed it to her. She rubbed her hands together and stood up and walked to the window, rocking back and forth on her feet.

    Amy opened the folder and sat in her chair, reading it quietly.

    Oh.

    Right at the top was a diagnosis from a Dr. Jessica Yamada. Gender Dysphoria. There was a range of comorbidities that had Amy reassess her opinion of Dennis. You had to be really honest with your therapist to get this kind of detail. Then again, maybe Dr. Yamada was the only one in the world she trusted. Now, Amy was part of that circle. That was pretty huge.

    Friends? Friends!

    “So. Gender Dysphoria? Um, I might say something stupid, so sorry? Do you have a preferred pronoun? A name? Um are there other things I should ask?”

    Dennis nodded and sat back down on the other chair.

    “Yeah. Yeah… he/him’s okay for now, but you know she/her would be nice? This is kind of spur of the moment, kind of. I dunno, don’t take that as a rule for trans people ya know? Like, just...” Dennis was shaking like a leaf. Embarrassment, frustration, and pain were obvious as her eyes darted around the room and her shoulders kept shifting as if she wasn’t sure if she was going to sit or stand. Amy had to slow her own breath, Dennis’s stress made her uncomfortable, not that she blamed her.

    “I won’t, I’ll try and ask every time.”

    She nodded. “Good, that’s the best way. And Dennis is fine too. Can you? Can you help?”

    Amy considered the words Dr. Yamada had written and trod the ground carefully.

    “I can’t make you happy with the way you are.”

    Dennis put her hands on the table flexing her fingers back and forth, rolling her shoulders carefully.

    “Um… I may have been a touch dishonest at first, um… My parents, they — they wanted to hear certain things, and I told Yamada and my other therapists some of the things they wanted to hear. It wasn’t meant to be taken that way, I’ve not been super comfortable talking about any of this, I know the file’s kind of thick though, and it took me a while to accept it all. I don’t think I really fully settled into the idea until after you healed dad. Yamada and I are on the same page on this, I’m going to transition sooner or later. And just, I… ugh.”

    She clammed up, looking a bit panicked.

    “So what do you want me to do?”

    “Pronouns suck!” The non-sequitur from Dennis caused Amy to laugh in surprise.

    “Like, there’s no good way to talk about this shit that doesn’t make it all muddy. I wanna be a woman, goddamnit. But I AM one already. So what do I say? And it's all this stupid shit about justifying myself all the time. It's bad enough I have to feel this way, but having to explain it to everyone. I’m just fucking miserable. I don’t want to be trans, I just want to be a woman. It’s all shit, Amy. It’s all fucking bullshit. I hate this. And like, do you know what talking to Emily Fucking Piggot was like about this? I had to have Yamada hold my fucking hand, I couldn’t even open my mouth. It was fucking mortifying. And like Jesus fuck, god damnit. Can you FIX THIS?”

    Amy was leaning back. “Yes?”

    “Like, what can you do? Like, I did the research; I was kind of waiting till I was 18 so I could, you know, start normal medical transition, when I get the full Protectorate benefits, but then you put out that ad and I mean it wasn’t very clear but I just had this horrible hope that maybe I wouldn’t have to wait. And Yamada said I should make the appointment anyways and I guess I could understand why, like it's important to take ownership of your issues, you know?

    “I mean…”

    Dennis got quiet and then in barely a whisper, “Would I be able to have kids? Like a”—she growled the next word—“normal woman.”

    Oh. Could I do that? I guess I’d need reference genetics. I could maybe…

    Amy’s eyes lit up considering the options. This would interesting, maybe even fun.

    YES! FUN!

    “I’ll need some of your dad’s blood? Um… and like a lot of biological material? A lot of freshly cut plants should work? Sorry, I had kind of just assumed I’d be doing a cosmetic change with these; I didn’t really consider I could go a lot further than modern medicine.”

    Dennis’s eyes were wide as saucers. “Really?”

    “Yeah. Um… your brain would stay the same.”

    Dennis held up her hands. “No no no no, that’s fine. That’s enough, that’s more than I imagined. I… wow. Yeah… can we set up a time during the week?”

    She nodded. “Sure. Just um meet me here, Tuesday, right after school’s out?”

    Dennis nodded vigorously.



    Tuesday seemed to arrive in a flash. Amy was practically vibrating with excitement which she admittedly felt bad about because she was excited about someone’s else’s suffering.

    FUN!

    She snorted at herself. The voice was far too insistent, but ever since she’d started doing cosmetics, the intrusive thoughts had gotten a lot quieter. That was nice, and she wasn’t really interested in complaining about that fact.

    Dennis came into the office looking guilty.

    “Um… you said you needed blood and I may have acquired it without permission.”

    Amy blinked. “Um… I’m not sure what sort of trouble I could get in for that?”

    She considered sending her away but…

    FUN! FUN NOW!

    “So pretend you didn’t say that.”

    Dennis laughed. “Everything’s above board here, tip top!”

    Amy snorted. There was a giant cooler Dennis was carrying and she set it down.

    “Plants.”

    “Right. I asked for that.”

    Okay, time for embarrassing questions.

    “Do you have a picture of your mom? Um… do you know what cup size she is?”

    Dennis’s face bloomed into red. “Yeah.”

    “I kind of need details you know? I know it's embarrassing but you want to look like your family right?”

    She nodded. “I guess I didn’t really consider that. Though I should have. Sorry this is all kind of unbelievable to me. I have the other kind of picture though, for GRS.”

    “Right, so picture of your mom?”

    She nodded again, pulling out her wallet. Family picture.

    “You have a younger sister?”

    Dennis laughed. “She’s a menace, and she figured me out before I did. She’s been a champion.”

    “Alright, I have to ask, do you have permission from your parents?”

    “No, but I got permission from the Protectorate and they can act in loco parentis when considering the mental health of their Wards. That’s why I had to talk to Piggot.”

    She handed the letter to Amy.

    “Right. Sorry, I know it’s your body, but the law matters.”

    Dennis nodded again. “That’s what New Wave’s all about.”

    Amy smiled at her. “Well also I don’t like getting sued.”

    Dennis chuckled at her. “That’s why you started your clinic isn’t it?”

    “Do you know how much it sucks to be in a courtroom all day?”

    “I mean I’ve given witness testimony before.”

    “Yeah but you can leave when you’re done. When it's about you, you have to stay the whole time.

    Dennis shuddered dramatically.

    “Okay so your Mom’s umm… well endowed. Is that okay? It’d be a big change. I’m going to make some pretty wild alterations here, and it might hurt? It shouldn’t but it might, not all pain is nerve signals. Uh… sorry, no matter what it’s safe. I’ll be very careful and my power is good at this. So don’t worry.”

    “You sound more nervous than me.”

    Amy shrugged. “I… this matters to you Dennis. Most of the time cosmetic stuff is me removing moles or touching up someone’s complexion, or appealing to someone’s vanity. This is - I’m messing around with problems with your personal identity here. It's like a whole other level of care I want to take with it. I don’t want to hurt you Dennis, not even on accident, you’re my friend.”

    The hug caught her off guard. She whoofed as Dennis crashed into her.

    “Thank you.”

    Amy nodded against the hug and extricated herself.

    “Okay so… you should lay down.”

    Dennis laid down on the exam table and Amy hefted the cooler onto the trolley opening the top. Alright.

    Amy grabbed Dennis’s hand and the plant matter which was just starting to slightly rot in some spots. Gross.

    Fun soon!

    “So, embarrassing questions again. GRS surgeons usually want pictures on the kind of look, your ahem… lower equipment should take. Did you bring a picture?”

    She nodded, pulling it out and handing the blood vial over at the same time. Amy looked it over and nodded, her power taking point on how to manage it.

    “And um… your figure? Your mom’s shorter, and she’s curvy rather than your beanpoleness. Curvy then?”

    “Um… a little less curvy?”

    “Do you want me to adjust your height at all?”

    “Nah. Tall girls are still girls. Height was never part of the equation, since I was originally planning on doing this the old fashioned way and I would have been stuck with my height. And if I was shorter it’d be harder to use my power properly, since I’d have less reach.”

    “Right. And… I think I have enough info, we can make adjustments later if its not to your taste?”

    Dennis nodded slowly. “That sounds fine. Great. Really.”

    “Right and after this, pronouns? A name?”

    “She/Her please. Hadn’t picked a name yet, thought I had a few years. And I spent the last two days in shock.”

    She looked about ready to giggle and Amy smiled. “Okay. Ready?”

    “Very.” Her voice was suddenly calm and serious.

    So… turn off nerve endings, draw in biomass, shape the breasts, re-configure the equipment, now to simply modify her entire genetic material borrowing her dad’s x chromosome, now adjust her eyesight to have the different balance of cones and rods. What else?… Right, body shape, bone structure, eh… I’ll leave the male muscle tissue, no one likes cellulite. Fat distribution, right. Womb, eggs, this is fun! Weeeeeeee! Okay calm down, facial structure, jaw line, fuck it model the body as if I grew it from scratch with the existing genetic material, okay options. Lots of options, might as well pick the best ones here, hah! Oh boy, am I drunk? Right, womanification is happening, Lustrum would be so proud, I should write her a sassy letter, I can WOMB people. I’m an idiot. Okay, finishing touches, vocal cords, brain’s the same as before, good good! Whew! Oh right nerve endings back on… now!

    She blinked at the clock, three hours? Woah.

    Dennis’s eyes were closed and she was looking a little green at the gills. Oops.

    “Sorry, I should have put you to sleep.”

    Dennis opened her eyes looking around.

    “Did it work?”

    She squeaked in surprise, probably at the sound of her voice.

    “See for yourself!”

    She helped Dennis stand up and led her to the mirror.

    “This is amazing!”

    Dennis stepped toward the mirror, poking at her face and body unselfconsciously.

    “No seriously, this is amazing!”

    Amy laughed in amusement as Dennis’s hands did an odd kind of pokey exploratory work.

    Poke. Poke!

    “I changed your genetics by the way.”

    She spun on her tiptoes, pausing when she finished. She shook back and forth for a moment, her eyes wide and sparkling, “I fucking jiggle! Woah. That’s… wow. I… I need some time. Um… can you escort me to the Wards? I’ll call them? Um… my voice. Like… fuck, wow. This is. Holy shit.”

    “Is it good?”

    Dennis shook her head like a dog waking up, her now long red hair fluttering about. “I dunno, I think? Yeah? It should be? Just, time. Bit of emotional whiplash.”

    She shoved a business card into Amy’s hand.

    “That’s Yamada’s number, can you call her? I need to stare stupidly at the mirror for a bit. She’ll come get us. Yeah...”

    Poke.

    Amy nodded, feeling smug, happy, and far too pleased.

    WEEEE FUNNNNNN!

    She pulled out her phone and dialed the number.

    “Yamada.”

    “Hi! This is Amy, Panacea from New Wave. Dennis needs a pickup to the PRT HQ, she requested you?”

    Yamada’s voice came over the line, and Amy could hear how the woman was positively glowing. “She did! Can you give me a broad overview of what was done? The treatment plan, not the individual particulars? I can get a letter for it if you need.”

    “No that’s fine, the previous letter should suffice for legal purposes. The short of it is, excluding the brain Dennis is now indistinguishable from a um… naturally? Stupid words. A naturally born woman down to the genetics, excluding her brain… I said that already… sorry.”

    “A woman that was assigned female at birth is the terminology you’re looking for.”

    “Thanks, sorry. I’m sure Mom gave me material on all that, but I’ve had so much reading to do, and there’s so many things to learn. And my power handles all the hard work so I forget some of the other details. And this is only my second week and I wasn’t expecting anything big so soon… and… I’m babbling...”

    “It’s fine. You’re trying, that matters.”

    Amy nodded. “Yes, so the only thing of note is that I obviously had to do some compositional work on her immune system since I didn’t change her brain. It’s perfectly safe but I’ll need to sit down with her regular physician and explain the important bits. There’s a short list of drugs she shouldn’t ever take now, just in case.”

    Yamada was quiet for a moment. “Okay I’m on my way. Amy… thank you. If Dennis’s parents give you any trouble, the PRT has your back okay? I’ll be there soon.”

    Amy nodded to no-one in particular and hung up.



    Yamada pulled up and got out of the car. Dennis was still hovering around the mirror, periodically looking at it, double-checking it. The front door of the clinic opened, and Yamada stepped in looking a bit frantically excited, “Where is she?”

    “Yamada?” Dennis’s new voice asked as her head popped out of the examination room.

    “Dennis!?”

    “It’s me!” She ran out of the room and jumped the woman, hugging her tightly.

    Yamada pushed her away and looked her over. “Wow. That’s… Amy, this is amazing. I mean superpowers and you know? But just wow. Dennis you look a lot like your Mom now.”

    “I feel silly. I kept putting off picking a name, and now I need to have one.”

    “Take your time, you’ve got people who will let you try names out.”

    She nodded. “Not Denise though…” She shuddered.

    “Let’s get you home.”

    “Yeah, the Wards. Oh, I can’t wait to see how Vista reacts!”

    “You should probably come along Amy, just in case there’s any M/S protocols that need smoothing over.”

    Amy nodded. “Okay. Mom knows I’m with a patient that I needed more time with, so I have most of the evening.”

    Amy was buzzing as they got in the car. She took the back seat and tuned out the conversation up front. Dennis was babbling happily about nothing and Amy was watching the rain fall. Yamada was mostly quiet, glancing at Amy in the mirror from time to time. It was a really good day.

    Amy wasn’t certain but she was probably smiling the whole way to the PRT building. That had been fun, and honestly was very satisfying. Dennis had a problem no one in the world could have solved better than her, and she did it, she solved it. She wasn’t just doing something a good doctor could do, she literally got to change someone’s life in a much more demonstrable way. That, and the fact that she actually got to let her power off its leash, brought a heady satisfied mix to the car ride.

    “Amy?”

    “Sorry, what?”

    “I was wondering, if maybe Vicky would help me shop for a new wardrobe? It's kind of her thing, and she’s got a good fashion sense.”

    Amy soaked in the request and smiled. “I can’t even imagine her response, but it’ll be positive. I’ll call you later with her answer.”



    Amy blundered into the house; it was still surprisingly early. Only Eight PM, which was amazing all on its own. Was that cooking?

    She wandered into the kitchen and Carol smiled, while Mark fussed around with some vegetables in a pan.

    “Thanks for calling ahead. We wanted to wait to have dinner with you.”

    What?

    Vicky shouted downstairs, “Is Amy home?”

    “Amy’s home hon!”

    “Woo! I’m starving.”

    What?!

    Carol checked on something in the oven and walked up, wrapping Amy in a hug.

    WHAT!?!?

    “How’d your consultation go?"

    “Um… Clockblocker is a girl and I helped her out with that.” That didn’t break confidentiality – she didn’t think.

    Vicky sputtered behind her. “What? Oh my GAWD! Dean’s been worrying about him, oh wait… I guess her, for like a whole year! Dennis was trans? WOAH.”

    “Ixnay on the EnnisDay Vicky,” Amy chastised.

    Vicky slapped her hand over her mouth. “Right. Sorry, but that’s amazeballs.”

    “Vicky!” Carol snapped at her.

    Vicky snickered. “Sorry. But it is!”

    “So everything went well then?”

    Amy smiled brightly. “Not to speak lightly of Clockblocker’s issue, but that was actually fun. I got to change the configuration of rods and cones in her eyes, and I am now a massive feminist icon, I wombed her.”

    Carol sputtered and started laughing. “You wombed her?”

    Amy giggled. “Sorry, its funny! I made womb for her in my heart.”

    Mark snorted. “Did you build her a womb with a view?”

    Everyone groaned while Amy blushed. “Um… she’s kinda hot now.”

    Vicky stuttered, “Amy wait… Amy are you gay?”

    Amy’s eyes crossed, “Um… yeah? I dunno.”

    Carol’s eyes widened and her hands went to Amy’s arms. “It's okay if you are, you know that right?”

    Amy sputtered with embarrassment. “It doesn’t matter! No dating till I'm forty right Dad?”

    “Fifty. Women are more treacherous.”

    The room glared at him and he smirked. “See… just proving my point. Men are dumb, but women are cruellllllll.”

    Vicky whined playfully, “You’re killing the feminist energy in here Dad.”

    He put his hands up. “Just a joke! I’m clearly outnumbered.”

    Carol gave him a once over and sniped. “Amy could make you part of the team.”

    Mark laughed stepping back in mock fear. “I surrender! I am but your lowly man servant. Forgive me.”

    Is this family?

    Amy blinked at the strangeness of the situation. It was so natural. What had changed? How did it change?

    Carol turned back to Amy, “So it all went well then?”

    “Better than well. Clockblocker, she was rightfully surprised at how complete it all was, but she was blubbering thanks into Piggot’s arms when I left.”

    “Wait Clockblocker hugged Piggot?”

    Amy nodded. “She uh, Piggot was the one that had to sign the permission slip? Her parents refused but the PRT has oversight on mental health issues concerning their Wards, so it's all on the up and up. We might get some push back but both Yamada and Piggot promised support on their end. Um… they paid me extra? They really didn’t take no for an answer and since I charge market rate for cosmetic work, it was a tidy sum. I was thinking… maybe we could pay for Sarah to improve New Wave’s office? Do some advertising again?”

    Carol digested everything. “That’s sounds lovely Amy.”

    “But Clockblocker hugged Piggot?”

    Amy laughed at Vicky’s incredulousness. “What’ll really blow your mind is Piggot hugged her back.”

    “Oh wow. Is this real life?”

    Mark started humming Bohemian Rhapsody as Amy whispered, “I keep wondering that.”



    Apparently Amy had started a revolution. Timesnatch, formerly known as Clockblocker, had caused a stir that Amy probably should have been less obviously surprised by. They lived in a town with the Empire Eighty Eight who thought the gays were part of the conspiracy to destroy white ‘supremacy’. So of course everything exploded.

    Amy’s role in Timesnatch’s transition became a “thing”. None of the Empire wanted to actually hurt her though, because there was a certain amount of consideration that Amy was essentially marked as, “do not fuck with the super nice healer.” Which was good, but that didn’t mean that the people she helped were off limits.

    The picketing by “concerned” parents at her clinic was irritating. Thankfully, it was all peaceful and she took a few interviews explaining her position: nothing she was doing was that much different from seeing a regular plastic surgeon and taking the proper medication. Which wasn’t really accurate, but not a harmful lie either.

    It was mostly just irritating. She didn’t think helping people could be so fucking controversial. And then there was Dennis, now Talia’s, parents, who had written her a nastygram. She kindly reminded them that she had saved Talia’s dad's life, and based off of purely statistical information potentially Talia’s too. So they could kindly fuck off.

    Fuck off no funs!

    The real issue was Paramount though. An LGBT heroic cape group had moved into town and they were going to bat against the Empire. Not that more capes punching Nazis in the face was a bad thing really, but it was pretty controversial when she took them on as patients, since you know that was her job. But now it had to be dramatic.

    It was all stupid. Thankfully it was Saturday, so not Cosmetic day, just normal healing, zero drama day. Amy opened up the file and looked at her next patient.

    Taylor Hebert, broken arm, blood screen for possible infections, multiple cuts and bruises, nerve issues, vision issues.

    The girl walked in, and Amy’s first thought was:

    And highly fucking malnourished, Jesus.

    Amy grabbed some of the bio-gel packs she had designed. It was kind of a disgusting soup of proteins and fats that she had repurposed some bacteria to make by throwing biological waste into a tub. One of her ongoing projects to make clinic work simpler, and it was also fun. An oddly high number of decisions had been shaped by that earmark lately.

    “How are you?”

    Taylor sat up straighter from her massive slouch.

    “Not so great.”

    “Yeah, your chart’s something else. What happened?”

    She grunted. “Was supporting a friend and got caught between Paramount, the ABB and the E88. They all went to town around one of the marches that’s been happening lately.”

    Right, Brockton Bay, now along with Nazis, had Gay Pride coming out of its ears, another little side effect of Timesnatch’s little whirlwind.

    “Supporting?”

    “Yeah, my friend Madison. She’s mega gay.” Taylor smiled. “Sorry, she’s just like, you know? There’s girls who like girls, and then there’s girls who are capital-G Gay.”

    Amy snorted. “Yeah. So you’re out there supporting her though? That’s nice of you.”

    Taylor shrugged. “Least I could do. She helped me out of a tough spot, though getting hit by a Bakuda bomb wasn’t really what I had on the menu for the day.”

    “Well let’s fix that.”

    She grabbed Taylor’s hand and went to work, grabbing the pack and fixing the malnourishment as well.

    She has a parahuman power. Huh.

    “Woah… what’d you do?”

    “You were malnourished.”

    “What? Oh… I guess I haven’t been eating much, I just feel really good now.”

    “You’re aware your period has stopped right?”

    Taylor blushed. “Um yeah? That’s bad?”

    Amy wanted to facepalm but she was holding the girl’s hand.

    “Yes, that’s very bad. You can permanently damage your reproductive organs if you don’t get enough calories. So you need to eat more.”

    “That might be tough.”

    “Oh?”

    “Yeah, I’m… kind of homeless? My dad’s in a coma, and the house defaulted. Um, Madison helped me out, I kind of hated her at the time, she was bullying me with my old friend. But when she found out I was homeless, things changed? I couldn’t really tell her no, she was you know, fucking feeding me with her own money. So yeah. I kind of got stuck in this weird legal limbo and my bullies made it really awkward at school, so I had to drop out, otherwise I think they were gonna try and frame me for something and get me arrested.”

    And here I thought today wasn’t going to have any drama.

    “What happened to your dad?”

    Taylor whispered, “Car accident. That’s two parents now.”

    Fuck.

    “Where’s he set up at?”

    “Brockton General.”

    “I’ll pay him a visit tonight. I may not be able to do anything but I’ll look okay?”

    Taylor nodded.

    “How much do I owe?”

    Amy filled out a note and handed it Taylor.

    “On the house today. Take that to the front desk.”

    Taylor’s smile was tiny but Amy saw it anyway.

    “Thanks.”

    “I’ll be at Brockton General at eight tonight if you want to be there?” Amy hedged a bit. “Um…”

    Taylor turned, “Yeah?”

    “You know the Wards would get you off the street?”

    Taylor shook her head. “It would be illegal for me to tell you why that’s not an option for me.”

    Amy swallowed, taking in the words. “Um… there’s a whistleblower hotline. Here…”

    She grabbed her PRT number cheat sheet from her purse and scribbled out the number.

    “Just call them. Tell them you’d like to speak to someone. Um… if you have to pick a person ask if you can talk to Director Piggot, she’s incredibly fair and the polar opposite of the word malfeasance. It's the whistleblower hotline, so you can name names. Well, probably not on the phone, but you can set up an appointment to name names.”

    Taylor’s eyes widened. “Oh. I didn’t know that was a thing.”

    “Well… it's not like it’s publicly advertised. A whistleblower hotline implies that there are things to blow whistles about.”

    Taylor’s eyes darkened. “Of course. Typical government bullshit.”

    Amy snorted. “Well… yeah. Now shoo, I’ve got other patients to see.”

    Taylor left smiling, staring at the note.



    The beeping of the monitors over Danny Hebert made Amy slightly nostalgic for her time spent skulking the hospital corridors volunteering too late at night. Though she was grateful to no longer be strung out and exhausted all the time. She was waiting for Taylor to show up before she did anything, she didn’t even want to touch Danny for fear of disappointment.

    Taylor made it into the room, dragging a girl behind her. The girl was… cute. There wasn’t really a better word.

    “Hey Amy. This is Madison Clements. Um… she’s a big fan.”

    Madison gushed, bouncing a bit. “What you did for Timesnatch was amazing! Have you done more?”

    Amy flushed at where her eyes landed and pushed her eyes up, smiling.

    “Two so far. I… uh charge market rates for cosmetic work to pay for my more charitable pricing for regular medical care. I strictly adhere to the law; there are people waiting in the wings to hurt me because of my parahuman status. So that kind of work is kind of expensive because of that. It is what it is.”

    Madison nodded sagely. “The group I’m in is trying to change the laws to get GRS counted as a medical problem and not cosmetic so it’d be covered by insurance.”

    “That’s commendable.” Amy tried to say it neutrally, but Madison was cute.

    “Anyways. My dad?” Taylor said with a hint of amusement.

    “Of course.” Amy grabbed Danny’s hand and concentrated. The problem was definitely in the brain. Amy was about to pull away when she paused, it was a simple problem. There wasn’t really any risk, she wouldn’t really be changing anything, just poking a part of his lizard brain. Harmless.

    FUN!

    Amy hid her snort. Taylor was looking on in anticipation and Madison was rubbing circles on the girl’s back. She could say no, no brains. But…

    She took a breath and did it.

    Woo! Fun!

    Danny’s eyes fluttered opened and he coughed for a moment sitting up.

    “Dad!”

    Taylor ran forward and stopped herself before she crashed into him, gently wrapping him in a hug.

    “You idiot!”

    He squawked at her.

    “You idiot! You absolute idiot. How could you do that to me? Why would you detour through that area, it's dangerous!”

    He shook his head. “I just wanted to get home early. I was gonna make you a cake for your birthday.” She started bawling and he hugged her tightly. “I’m so sorry Taylor.”

    “We lost the house. You’ve been out for months. I was homeless. I had to drop out of school.”

    He grunted. “I’m so sorry Taylor, I’ll fix this. I will.”

    She pushed away an angry tear filled smile on her face, “You fucking better.”

    Madison bumped shoulders with Amy, “Want to give them some privacy?”

    Amy nodded and they wandered out into the hall.

    “Taylor told me some things about you.”

    Madison frowned and scuffed her feet on the floor. “Yeah, I’m not really proud of any of that. I wasn’t really in a good place and Emma didn’t really ask for much, just you know say mean things. She was easy to hide behind. Like, until last year I was in the closet pretty hard but I dunno… It's not an excuse, but what happened with Taylor’s Dad made me realize what I was doing and like… I’ve seen kids like me get put on the street by their parents. Taylor didn’t deserve any of that shit we put on her. So I guess it's dumb, I’ve been trying to make up for it.”

    “You seem close now though.”

    Madison smiled. “Taylor’s actually fucking amazing. I wish she was gay, but she’s like straighter than a tinker made ruler. She’s been to like every rally with me, and when I apologized and really explained myself, she listened. I mean I was accidentally bribing her with food, but that’s neither here nor there. She’s just really smart, and she’s not like nice but she’s steady? Loyal? Words are hard.”

    Amy laughed while Madison’s face turned more serious. “Thanks for helping Taylor. The courts really screwed her over, and the insurance wasn’t coming through as fast as it should. This is a huge break for her, she’s a little too stubborn for her own good, and my parents weren’t really willing to take her in even though I begged. It was all a big mess. All in a day's work for you though I guess?”

    Amy smiled. “Yeah, I guess so.”

    FUN!

    “It's kind of fun honestly.”

    Madison chewed on her inner lip and spoke with a blush, “Um… so I’m sure you get this a lot but would you want to go get some coffee some time?”

    Amy’s eyes widened. Had she ever been asked out before?

    Nope.

    Well, that’s sad.

    No sad! FUN instead!

    “Yeah, that sounds fun.”

    Madison jumped and shouted. “Taylor! High five! Wait… Taylor’s not here. Think they’re done?”

    Amy snorted and they knocked. Taylor’s voice sounded out, “Come on in, he fell asleep.”

    Madison busted in and shouted again. “High five!”

    Taylor shushed her but raised her hand up.

    Clap!

    It was a good high five.

    A real five out of five.

    Madison spun and smiled, “I knew you were gay! This is awesome. Um… sorry… it’s just I go to Winslow and you can’t really be openly gay there cause the gangs and bullies and shit, so I overcompensate sometimes. But like… Thursday sound good? Jammer’s?”

    “That’s the one on the boardwalk?”

    “Yeah!” Madison was vibrating and kissed Amy on the cheek before running out of the room blushing.

    Taylor laughed at Amy’s blush. Amy’s hand was on her face touching where she had been kissed.

    “Yeah, she’s like that. You’ll have fun.”

    Taylor was sitting down holding Danny’s hand now.

    “Thank you.”

    Amy grinned, “Of course. I’m glad I could help.”

    Taylor shook her head, “No, like this is huge for me. I know you’ve heard it before, but if you ever need anything.”

    “If you really want to help, support Madison’s group. That change in the law would be pretty big.”

    “Yeah, but I was already gonna do that.”

    “Well, what more do I need then?”

    Taylor laughed. “Okay. Can I have some privacy again?”

    “Sure. I’ll come back in the morning and try and speed up his recovery.”

    Taylor beamed. “That’s great.”

    Amy slid out of the room to Taylor whispering, “I’m so glad your back dad. I missed you.”



    Vicky was chomping on her cereal.

    Chomp chomp!

    It was a good word for Vicky’s masticating.

    Mastication. Chomp chomp. Clack!

    Amy sipped her coffee, letting her mind continue to do stupid morning things.

    Vicky interrupted her sippy time with words, “So Dean was telling me Shadow Stalker got reassigned. Get this… she got sent to a Simurgh Containment Zone, not sure which one.”

    Amy nodded. “Broke her parole then?”

    “Dean’s not sure, Piggot was real hush hush about it. They’re getting a new ward though. She’s got some sort of Trump/Shaker thing going on. Apparently she can combine active powers around her, kind of. She was able to combine Gallant’s emotion beams and Vista’s space warping thing into an area of effect emotional field.”

    Was that Taylor?

    “It's not like a true power copy or anything, she only gets aspects of the powers and she can’t borrow some kinds of powers at all, but once she learns something she can use it. She can keep a certain number of those combinations. She’s like a mini-Eidolon, sort of. Though there’s some pretty heavy limits that Dean wasn’t doing a good job of explaining.”

    “Does she have a name yet?”

    “No, branding doesn’t know what they’re doing with her yet, since her powers can change over time.”

    “That’s pretty awesome. I have a date.”

    Vicky spewed out cereal.

    Chomp stomp! Clack whack!

    Amy snorted as Vicky collected herself. “That was mean.”

    FUN!

    “No, that was fun.”

    “Fine fine. Deets!”

    “Girl from Winslow, her name’s Madison.”

    “Wait Madison? Madison Clements? She’s cute! Go you!”

    “Wait, you know her?”

    Vicky gave her the look. “Well duh. She’s like a big deal in the local LGBT scene, she volunteers a lot, and I volunteer in the soup kitchen remember? She does too. How’d you meet?”

    “A girl came into the clinic, Taylor Hebert, she was supporting Madison at a meetup? Bakuda ruined her day. She mentioned her Dad was in a coma and I met Madison when I met her there to check up on him.”

    “He okay?”

    “He is now.”

    “You’re the best, Amy.”

    Amy preened, grinning wide. “I am, aren’t I?”

    Vicky laughed and grew serious. “You’ve been happy lately. I like it.”

    Amy smiled at her while sipping her coffee again. “I dunno, I just have felt better recently.”

    “Huh… well I’m glad. Mom’s been happier too. And well Dad, he’s been positively vibrant. Everything’s just been nice lately.”

    “It has hasn’t it?”

    Vicky nodded. “So what are you gonna wear?”

    Amy was quiet for a moment and then whispered, “I think I might actually want to show some skin. She’s really pretty, I kind of want to make sure there’s a second date if we have fun.”

    Vicky gasped, fluttering her hand over her heart. “Scandalous. How much skin are we talking about here? On a scale of Nun to Squealer?”

    Amy crossed her eyes and snorted. “Couldn’t you have picked someone without meth mouth? Like Narwhal?”

    “That wouldn’t have made you laugh.”

    Amy rolled her eyes, “I guess you’re right.”

    “You guess? I’ll have to step up my game. But seriously, skin.”

    “Um… like you know… some leg? A v-neck?”

    “Woah there, ya harlot. Calm right down. Jesus is watching.”

    Amy giggled at Vicky’s antics. Vicky grinned back and tapped her finger on her chin.

    “Not a v-neck. No no, you’ll want a blouse, short sleeve, frilly around the arms, you know the poofy kind.”

    Amy giggled again. “The poofy kind? And you’re the fashion mistress?”

    “The… poofy… kind… fine... actually how about a keyhole peasant blouse, short sleeve, and you’ll want one that’s short at the waist, maybe just enough to show just that line of skin at the stomach, depends on the skirt waistline. Yeah, and a knee-length skirt, complete the ensemble actually, a peasant's skirt too. I’ve got just the thing. It works cause you’re kind of known for being completely covered all the time so you don’t want to swing the pendulum too hard, that’ll send the wrong message. So this’ll show your arms and legs and say, I’m putting effort into being attractive without saying I have no taste.”

    Amy nodded along. Vicky muttered something to herself. “You should straighten your hair too.”

    “Okay.”

    “Awesome. Can I do it? This is big, your first real date. I mean I know I set you up before but that doesn’t count. This is all you.”

    Amy smiled softly at Vicky’s enthusiasm and nodded. Vicky grabbed her hand and spoke earnestly, “I hope you have fun.”

    Fun!

    Amy smiled back and Vicky’s eyes glinted. “And get to second base.”

    Amy broke down into giggles.



    AN: [TRAJECTORY] [FUNGREEMENT]
     
  2. Zeushobbit

    Zeushobbit I use my mind and yours doesn't matter.

    Joined:
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    This is amazing.

    Also, super-gay Madison is hilarious.

    Please make more of this glorious, wholesome story.
     
  3. Raboto

    Raboto Getting some practice in, huh?

    Joined:
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    I love it when stories like this pop up, the kinda story that just makes you want to squeal in joy.

    It's just so wholesome and funny, I will eagerly await any and all future chapters.

    As for the quality of the characterization? Yes, all of the yes.
     
  4. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

    Joined:
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    Huh. Good start, I'll be watching this.
     
  5. Threadmarks: Part 2 - In Which There are Interludes
    Hydra_sv

    Hydra_sv Making the rounds.

    Joined:
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    “Should I open my own clinic?”

    Carol sputtered for a second. “I mean, that’s possible, maybe? It’d be hard though. I’d have to consult on it. Is that something you’d want?”

    “It’d be a lot harder for people to complain if everything was signed and filed before they came in. I’m just tired, the whole things been exhausting and I don’t feel like I’m really doing as much as I could, I could set hours? I mean I could carry a pager too for emergencies like a real doctor?”

    Carol felt her heart still at the words. She suddenly had a strange image of Amy in her Panacea robes taking a whip out of Carol’s own hands. Mark’s sense of humor bled through and the scene morphed into the Monty Python one with Amy as a priest smacking herself in the face with a board. Oddly enough the image was disturbingly satisfying to Carol.

    It really shouldn’t be.

    Carol looked at Amy again with a glance. Amy was trouble; she had the worst kind of power, and who knew what kind of lessons Marquis had taught her before Carol saved her. Still though, Carol was a lawyer, and she intrinsically understood the notion of carrots and sticks, and the stick only worked if you were the one holding it.

    The image of the board smacking Amy in the face popped up again and almost caused her to snort, but she held it in. She had an image to present to the girl. Still though, Amy had the stick now and that just wouldn’t do, and Carol knew better than to grab a bigger stick. Escalation with a girl like Amy would be counterproductive, maybe even dangerous.

    Maybe it was time for the carrot, and making sure the girl didn’t burn out would be a big first step. Still, why did this all feel so wrong? The girl needed to be guided, kept in control.

    Why does this all feel so wrong?



    Carol fiddled with the papers at her desk. Cosmetic Surgery and Amy fixing Mark, it was huge. She could see it already. Amy was less frightened, more sure of herself, and there was an honest heroism on display now. The carrot was working.

    So why do I feel so guilty?

    She didn’t like how well the girl responded to positive reinforcement, because it made Carol feel vulnerable in response, but it was working. Oh, she wasn’t clueless; she had seen Amy’s little rebellious modification of the cat in front of her on the courtroom steps. The girl wasn’t nearly as subtle as she thought. Still though, Amy seemed more at peace, and she had a business now, a place of her own, something to tie her down to a way of doing things.

    Carol took a deep breath going over the pricing again. If nothing else the girl wanted Carol to approve of her. Did she approve of her?

    I do. So why am I still so scared?

    Objectively Amy was doing what she was told. The girl genuinely wanted Carol’s approval, she could see that, and giving it hadn’t really been so bad right? Sure, she felt a little guilty about how pathetic Amy had looked when Carol expressed genuine approval, but the girl needed a firm hand.

    Right?

    Carol rubbed her hands together in thought. How did it all end up like this? Was she really that scared of her? Vicky loved the girl, and Vicky for all her faults was a good judge of character — young, naive, certainly, but she wasn’t stupid.

    Carol took a deep breath, rubbing her hands together again before placing them on her cheeks. A little warmth on her face felt nice.

    I’m still in control. I’ve had control the whole time.

    Carol nodded; she’d rescued Amy, she’d taken care of her, put up firm boundaries, didn’t let her make excuses. She’d listened when she really needed help, even. She wasn’t heartless, she was keeping the girl managed, controlled, but she wasn’t cruel. She had to keep her distance in case the girl ever tried anything, it was just the smart thing to do.

    A twisted thought bubbled up, a memory, of smiling at a compliment from someone she shouldn’t have trusted. She had nightmares sometimes, trusted faces suddenly turning on her, the shame rolling off her in the middle of the night. Her teeth chattered for a second and that stupid image of Amy hitting herself in the face with a board rose up again.

    Mark was active again. Amy was doing everything that was asked of her.

    SO WHY DOES THIS ALL FEEL SO WRONG?

    That twisted thought bubbled up again, and Carol gripped the desk tightly. It was Amy in the room this time, tied up, just like she had been and Carol could feel herself standing over her, leering.

    We never really cared for you.

    They hadn’t said those words exactly; they had been nice, and she had trusted them. Carrots and sticks, she had the girl in hand. Everything was under control and it wasn’t like Amy was her….

    Captive.

    Carol gripped the desk tighter, thoughts swirling.

    No no no no no.

    Carol stood up in a flash and swayed as images of her trigger event flashed through her quickly.

    Captive, trapped, it’ll be okay, they like me now. They won’t hurt me.

    Amy’s face was there, just like hers, everything twisted into that belief that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. That they really did care.

    No no no. It’s not like that. It’s not. I wouldn’t just turn on her.

    Yes you would.


    She barely made it to the trash can before she vomited.

    Oh god. I’m them, I’m them, I’m them, I’m them. Oh god.

    She grabbed her phone with shaking hands mashing Sarah’s speed dial.

    “Hey Carol.”

    Keep it together.

    “Liquor, now, my house.”

    “Are you okay?”

    “No. Please come soon.”

    She took a deep breath trying to calm down. Her skin was boiling, too many thoughts, she tried to calm down to breathe. Her heart was racing, and the edges of the room got black.

    Come on, deep breaths.

    I’M JUST LIKE THEM!


    She passed out.



    She woke up to Sarah’s concerned face and proceeded to vomit again. Sarah was not amused.

    “I thought you needed liquor, not that you’d already started.”

    Carol shook her head sitting up, shaking and babbling. “I’m just like them. Sarah, I’m just like them.”

    Her voice broke at the end and she stood up rubbing her hands together.

    “Just like who, Carol?” Carol wanted to laugh in hysteria at Sarah’s professionalism despite the fact that her blouse was covered in vomit.

    Her emotions rolled at the question though and Carol screamed, “THEM!”

    Sarah whispered, “Oh,” in response. Two deep breaths occured between them and Sarah’s response was quiet, deadpan, simple, and it made Carol feel like she was five. “You know you don’t have to be.”

    It couldn’t possibly be that simple.

    “This is about Amy, I take it?”

    She already knows.

    Carol shouted back, “The fact that you know why I feel that way tells me everything. What have I done?”

    Carol rocked back and forth for a moment, wrapping her arms around herself. She closed her eyes as her breathing started to get out of control again. She gulped down air and a choked sob broke from her.

    Sarah wrapped her arms around her, vomit and all, and held her close while the sobs grew into weeping. “It’s gonna be okay Carol. We’re here for you. You’re safe. It’s okay.”

    Carol blubbered into her sister’s arms, “Is it really?”

    Sarah whispered, “It is. We’ll fix this. Together.”

    “Why couldn’t I see it?”

    Sarah just shushed her. “You were scared. It’s okay to be scared.”

    “But I did it. She just wants me to like her and I did it. I’m them, I’m them.”

    Carol trailed off, collapsing further into Sarah’s arms.

    “So don’t be.” The softness of Sarah’s voice was so certain Carol just nodded into her arms.

    Maybe it was that simple. Maybe it was.



    Taylor, now Mystra, stood outside the bank in her new costume. Everyone was there, and she was gonna bust some skulls! Dad was better, she had a job, a bed to sleep in, and three square meals, and she was gonna get to punch some criminals in the fucking face!

    FUCK YEAH! IN THE FACE!

    She took a deep breath, wrestling with her power to calm down as she hovered next to Timesnatch.

    Her blazing bright smile turned toward Mystra. “Excited much?”

    “Like I’m gonna vibrate out of my skin.”

    “I did that recently. Vibrated so hard I lost my cock.”

    Mystra snorted. “Crude.”

    “And inaccurate, but excuseeee meee I don’t care. Bye bye junky junk.” Mystra giggled as Timesnatch even did a little bye bye wave at her crotch.

    Gallant finally caught up and Mystra put up her hands. “Woah woah woah woah. Don’t start anything yet.”

    Mystra fiddled with the powers in range. Her power was really cool, or at least she thought so, and so did everyone else, but her own opinion was the most important. It was hard to describe but actually pretty simple in its execution.

    She had six active slots, and she could “learn” new abilities by being in range of other powers, but it always had to be some sort of combination of powers. The new power that was made was always based off the powers she was in range of, but was also always completely new. Her power also told her when interesting combinations were near.

    Right now, Timesnatch’s, Gallant’s and Tattletale’s powers were screaming at her to be combined. She had a very long time limit on how often she could change out powers that she learned, weeks, sometimes months, but learning a new power always allowed her to slot it in right away, and this one was so loud she just had to try it out.

    She slid the new power into place and flexed it.

    Woah.

    Was this a precog ability? What was going on? Threat analysis? No, no it was some sort of qualitative decision engine? And it was telling her to be somewhere else, but why?

    “Think you guys can handle this?”

    They all looked at her. The Wards weren’t big on ceremony and Aegis trusted her.

    “What’s up?”

    “I just got a new power, like you know Weal and Woe from D&D?”

    Timesnatch nodded vigorously. “You got a ‘do, do not’ vibe?”

    “It’s bit more than that, it's like a I dunno. It’s tied into my moral framework? My emotions? It’s weird. But there’s something bad happening somewhere else and I need to handle that.”

    “Do it.” Aegis grunted out. “Stay safe.”

    Mystra nodded and shot off into the sky. Maybe she’d still get to punch someone in the face.



    IT'S HAPPENING!

    The merc flew back as Mystra smashed her fist right into his face.

    IN THE FUCKING FACE!

    The girl next to her was shaking and scared, and Mystra was saving her. This was the dream. She was beating up jerks for damsels.

    Woo! Fuck off, jerks! Ladies to save!

    The mercs weren’t moving anymore and Mystra had to stifle the fact that she was feeling glum they hadn’t put up much of a fight.

    Mystra took a deep breath and dialed down her Brute power and went back to feeling normal. It was such a rush when she had it on, a combination of Aegis, Gallant, and Glory Girl’s powers. It was awesome because she was super strong when she had it on, but it also fucked with her emotions something hard.

    She took a few more deep breaths, feeling the knightly berserker rush fade off, and turned to the girl who was chancing a smile.

    “You okay?”

    The girl nodded, and her smile grew. “There’s a 98% chance we’re going for ice cream.”

    “Sounds good. Let me just make a few phone calls okay?”

    The girl nodded, and then lunged into a hug. Hugs were nice.



    Gallant grinned as he finished duct taping Tattletale’s mouth shut. Use the tools you have. Her mutinous glare was like a balm on his soul; the girl was mean when backed into a corner. And he might be Gallant but even he wasn’t above petty revenge sometimes.

    “Hey there handsome.”

    He turned to the voice, and found himself sizing up one of Paramount’s capes.

    “Sorry I’m late, but Lung was dicking around down south so I had to go support Top and Bottom.”

    Gallant wanted to facepalm; they really took their campiness to its limits at times.

    Agenda smirked. “You know how adult capes get. No, you stay back Agenda, it's not safe. Then they pick a fight with friggin Lung and need me to bail them out. Honestly…”

    Gallant chuckled. “I’m sorry I’m not totally familiar with all of Paramount’s capes yet.”

    The older teen smiled more fully. “Well the pleasure’s all mine. I’m Agenda, the leader of the teenage side of Paramount. You’re not single are you?”

    Gallant coughed. “Attached and, uhhh, straight actually. Not prejudiced, though… just...”

    Agenda raised his hands. “Say no more. Anything I can do to help?”

    “Um… I think we have it all worked out actually. Everything went super well. And Mystra actually handled another problem across town.”

    Agenda nodded his head. “Have time for a chat then? Maybe with Aegis too, I hear he’s in charge?”

    “Sure. We’ve got time I think.”



    Aegis waved the last PRT van off. Four villains captured; it was a good day. Vista had gone home, Timesnatch and Kid Win had gone back to base, and Mystra was apparently taking her rescue out for ice cream of all things. And now he and Gallant were going to have an impromptu meeting with Paramount, about what he didn’t know. Today was busy.

    He walked up to Gallant and Agenda and struck up conversation.

    “So what’s up?”

    Agenda smiled at him. “Not a lot, just everyone in Paramount…well, we wanted to do something nice for Timesnatch.”

    Aegis stilled and looked at Gallant who took over. “What did you have in mind?”

    Agenda squinted at Aegis. “Is there a problem?”

    “Fucking thinkers.”

    Agenda laughed. “Problem though?”

    Aegis put up his hands. “It’s not a problem. I was just raised really really Catholic and it makes me uncomfortable. It shouldn’t. But it does.”

    Agenda nodded. “Well, at least you’re honest about it.”

    Aegis frowned. “It’s stupid, I think part of it is I just didn’t really have time to adjust? She just kind of popped it on us. Not that it was my business but … it’s stupid, I’m stupid, just ignore me. I’ll figure it out. And it would be nice to do something nice for her.”

    Agenda nodded then, clapping his hands. “Nothing too crazy, just maybe a small party and some of the other trans members of Paramount wanted to give some gifts. Do we need to talk to the PRT or anything?”

    Aegis was quiet for a moment. “I could put it down as a local heroic cape team building exercise. Invite New Wave too.”

    Agenda pumped his fist. “Yes definitely, Panacea has to be there, two birds that way. So, I’m sure you guys are tired after stomping the Undersiders, here’s my business card. Call me when you have an idea of the timing?”

    Gallant smiled. “This’ll mean a lot to her, thank you.”

    “Solidarity matters, not just for LGBT, but heroes too. Thanks for treating her right. I’m not sure you guys realize how big this is for the trans community. Legend was big but it’s not quite the same. Even though we put all the letters together, not everything’s as equal as we’d like. Timesnatch was already a big deal for people her age, irreverence speaks to teenagers ya know, and having an example like that? In the Protectorate at large? We want her to know she’s got people backing her up.”

    Aegis smiled, looking thoughtful. “I thought it was implied with all the Nazi punching Paramount’s been doing.”

    Agenda shrugged. “Sure, but everyone deserves to be celebrated for who they are. Well… maybe not Jack Slash, but you know what I mean.”

    There was some chuckling before Agenda gave Aegis a sassy look. “Call me.”



    Talia fell onto the Ward’s couch backwards, hanging upside down.

    “Chris, when’s my new costume getting in again?”

    “Um… like two weeks?”

    “This thing does not fit, and I was supposed to be on leave. I didn’t ever want to wear this fucking thing again.”

    “So why not take it off.”

    “Cause I’m fuckin naked under it ya dope, and I’ve only got my old clothes in my room here so it wouldn’t be any better, and Missy isn’t my size, Taylor hasn’t moved any of her stuff here yet, we burned everything Sophia left behind, and I haven’t had the chance to buy enough extra clothes to fill my closet here. I should have just had Battery go and buy something in my size, but they're still at the stupid event… And ughhhhh…. I feel gross. It’s all my old shit, man. And this fucking helmet isn’t made for long hair and it’s all fucking sweaty now. And it still smells like … like Clockblocker. Ugh!”

    Chris plopped down on the couch next to her and poked her in the nose.

    “Jeez, Talia, calm your tits.”

    Talia eyes widened before she burst out laughing. “I can do that now.”

    Chris nodded with faux sageliness. “Grab Missy’s brush — she said you could borrow it — I’ll brush your hair.”

    Talia rolled backwards off the couch and crashed awkwardly into the table before she ran off laughing at herself. She came back with the brush, nearly skipping.

    Chris thrust out his hand, taking the brush, and Talia threw her helmet off, before plopping down on the floor. Chris was Missy’s hair brusher; she insisted upon it because it got Chris out of his lab. And now he was expanding his duties.

    The brush swept through her hair and Talia laughed. “This is awesome. Thank you. And… thanks for validating me. It’s been a weird couple weeks.”

    Chris was quiet and just kept brushing her hair. Talia turned her head back to look for a moment and Chris smiled sheepishly.

    “Spit it out!”

    “I just wish… I wish you would have told me before, you know? You’re like… my only real friend. I mean Missy tries, but it's not the same. I’m sorry, I know it wasn’t really my business but you gotta know I was always gonna have your back right? I mean I know Aegis hasn’t been super about it, I mean he’s trying, but I thought we were closer?”

    Talia frowned and squeezed Chris’s ankle with her hand. “I get it. And I appreciate why you might have felt left out. I didn’t really know how I felt either? I mean, like, some trans people they just know like all the way back to little kids, but it didn’t really settle in for me until later. I mean, some people don’t figure it out till they’re adults, living whole lives with careers just sad and unaware and discontent. So I wasn’t really trying to keep anything from you, I just didn’t know what I was feeling totally. It was hard to accept.”

    Chris sighed, “It wasn’t my business. It’s stupid. I’m sorry.”

    “No no. It’s cool.”

    Chris brushed once more then paused saying, “I get it, I think? Like I know your Dad getting cancer was a uhhh… big deal for you. You’ve told me as much. And your Mom wasn’t taking it well, and you just wanted to keep your family together, you didn’t want to drop big bombs, and your parents are like… I dunno. The stereotypical WASP’s. I couldn’t imagine trying to figure that all out, while being in the Wards and keeping the grades you do.”

    “It was all Amy, really.”

    “Yeah?”

    “Yeah she fixed my Dad when her clinic opened. He was like one of her first patients. And then it was like all this pressure dropped off, everything was normal. And it felt really good at first, I almost wanted to believe that all my issues were just me being stressed, but then it didn’t go away, it actually got worse. It’s kinda like Pandora’s box you know? Once you open it you can’t put it back in, but Yamada and I guess Dr. Ferguson too, they were both really supportive and patient. It’s stupid, how many times they both said to me ‘It’s okay to feel that way’. And then it just kind of fell into place, and that need to fix it to just feel real in my own body...”

    The brush started moving again and silence reigned.

    Talia broke the silence eventually. “You’re good at this. This is really relaxing.”

    “I’ve had like a lot of practice. Have you seen Missy’s hygiene habits? She’s kinda gross sometimes.”

    Talia laughed and then suddenly stopped. “I still can’t get over my voice or my laugh.”

    Chris nodded. “You have a pretty voice and a great laugh.”

    Talia turned sharply, looking at him, eyes unblinking for a long moment. Then a blush bloomed and she turned her head away just as fast.

    She eventually squeaked out a “Thanks.”

    “Woo, go me. I complimented a girl and she didn’t call me weird.”

    Talia squeezed his ankle again and Chris was forced to stop brushing as she tilted her head to the side to rest it on his leg.

    “I really appreciate this, Chris.”

    “Talia… you’re my friend. I do things for you all the time.”

    “Yeah, but now it feels so much more real.”

    Chris chuckled quietly, “How’s that for a friendship discount. I change nothing and I’m a better friend already. That’s Armsmaster levels of efficiency.”

    The only response was a small laugh and another squeeze on his ankle.



    Piggot circled the cheap scotch around her glass. It wasn’t often she went out to eat anymore, but it didn’t really feel right to have this conversation in her office. She glanced up and saw Amy, and waved her over. This was out of her comfort zone but Emily didn’t consider herself a coward, so she’d deal.

    “Hey Director.”

    Piggot raised her hand. “It’s Emily tonight. I insist.”

    Amy nodded her head slowly. “I was kind of surprised? When Mom told me you wanted to have dinner with me?”

    Emily set the glass down. “It didn’t feel right to talk to you in my office about this. I rarely am required to act in the way I did with Talia, in fact I don’t think I ever have. For a brief moment I was her… parent for all intents and purposes, acting in the capacity of her best long term interests.”

    She picked up the glass again and sipped. It was bad scotch. “I didn’t even know the word Dysphoria. I was only tangentially aware of transgender issues. I’m not exactly a mother figure, nor am I particularly sympathetic of cape mental issues in general because you’re all so damn dangerous.”

    Emily sucked in her breath. “I apologize.”

    Amy shook her head. “It’s fine, I get it. Really.”

    “Maybe you do. You face big choices every day I think?”

    Amy nodded carefully.

    “You’re my nightmare, you know.”

    Amy’s eyes widened.

    Emily took another sip. “I was there. At Ellisburg.”

    “Oh. I see.”

    Emily nodded. “I think you do.”

    Another drink.

    Emily took a breath and gestured to the waiter for a refill. “Back to the point. Talia was a problem child for me. She was difficult, abrasive, inappropriate, unprofessional, and if she hadn’t been on a team with Shadow Stalker she would have been under disciplinary actions a lot more, but as they say about the squeaky wheel.”

    Amy nodded.

    “Her therapists urged me to leniency. That is not something I'm good at. I am not a kind woman. They don’t put me in the room to recruit people for a reason. When Talia came to me with her problems, the girl was holding her therapist’s hand; she was terrified of me. I was her last chance. At least in her mind.”

    The waiter filled the glass and Emily downed half of it. “This is terrible scotch. It fits my mood.”

    Amy snorted at Emily’s impetuous stare at the glass. “Where was I?”

    “Last chance.”

    “Right.” Emily put her free hand on her head.

    “After the conversation I did some reading. She was asking me to go above her parents and the legal situation was tenuous at best. I called Legend, for obvious reasons. The statistics were… grim. Cape survival rates are debatably higher depending on how you push the numbers around, especially with the factional feudalism the US has been experiencing. There are areas similar to Brockton where hate crimes are just… part of life. It almost didn’t seem real, and I was essentially completely ignorant about it. Did you know there’s a theory that Case 53’s are the results of triggers due to being transgender? The symbol they all have doesn’t line up, but I can see why people might think that. Powers generally make things worse.”

    Emily sighed.

    “I almost didn’t sign the papers. Not because of Talia, but because of you. I was worried what you might do.”

    Amy frowned. “Honestly?”

    “I never said it was rational.” Emily slammed the glass into her mouth and drank again finishing the glass.

    “I’m sorry I ever doubted you.” Emily said at last after a quiet brooding silence.

    Amy wasn’t really sure what to say so she stayed quiet.

    “Talia was bubbling when she came in, and I hugged her — it seemed the thing to do. Then it was just her and me in my office going over some necessary paperwork. I asked her… I asked her what she was most looking forward to now. I was curious. I thought it would be something vapid, or silly, and I wouldn’t have blamed her if it was. You know what she said?”

    Amy shook her head.

    “She said she was looking forward to being a mother one day. She said she was the only transgender woman in the world who can. Though I’m aware that’s no longer a singular case?”

    Amy nodded. “Two other girls and one man now. Though NEPEA-5 is very disruptive. I won’t be able to take another case for a month now; it’ll break my percentages.”

    Emily scowled. “Really?”

    “I have to charge market rates for cosmetic surgeries. That’s what it’s legally classified as, and since normal doctors can’t do what I can do, it can only be a portion of my revenue. Adding all that up the procedure is expensive and unfortunately very rationed. I’ve been… I’ve been researching retro-viruses, but that’s going to take time. It's a big step and needs care.”

    Emily nodded. “Like I said, my nightmares.”

    Amy shrugged. “You don’t pick your powers.”

    Emily smiled very softly. “But you do get to choose what you do with them.”

    Emily paused and stared at her empty glass with a frown for a moment before gesturing for the waiter again. “Unqualified happiness is not a trait I’ve ever come to associate with capes. It's a rare enough trait on its own, but capes in particular... I was sitting in a room, though, with a teenage girl signing papers, just smiling and dithering on about nonsense and for a very bare moment I realized the magnitude of our combined actions. One day there are going to be little Talia spawnlings running about with her smile. I said as much and Talia said she’s going to make them call me Aunt Emily.”

    The sheer disbelief in Emily’s voice made Amy giggle.

    “I don’t deserve that. I signed paperwork, under the medical recommendations of professionals, in the best interest of my ward. It should not have been dramatic at all. I was just doing my job. And you? You didn’t even blink, you just helped. And I know it's your job too, but as we’ve seen, helping people can be rather controversial.”

    Amy snorted and sipped at her water while the waiter filled Emily’s glass again.

    “Can I take your order?”

    Amy and Emily both laughed and quickly decided what they were eating. There was a lull after that as Emily sipped at her glass, staring off into the room.

    “You changed her life and you did it ‘cause you cared. You went so far beyond the minimum requirements of your job they’d give you a medal if it was a military operation. She’s happy now, she’s just as damn unprofessional but she’s not caustic anymore. For lack of anything else to say: Thank you Amy Dallon. Thank you for being a good person.”

    Dinner was a quiet affair after that, but Emily noticed that Amy was glowing.



    A/N: IN THE FUCKING FACE!
     
  6. Warer

    Warer Getting sticky.

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    Why not the knee's?
     
  7. Extras: PRT Threat Assessments
    Hydra_sv

    Hydra_sv Making the rounds.

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    This is just for fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously but can be considered "canonical" if you so desire.



    Name: Mystra
    Classification: Trump
    Disposition: PRT Ward
    Location: Brockton Bay, Earth Bet
    Powers:

    Mystra has a cache of powers, active and inactive. Powers are created by "combining" the powers of capes within her range (50 meters). Results are random but always contain features of the original power set.

    She has a hard limit of six powers active at one time. Switching out active powers with inactive powers incurs a waiting period of no less than one week to switch another one.

    This wait period may be ignored when she generates new powers, but any follow on hard switching of abilities will have the waiting period extended. The furthest length so far observed is one month.

    Mystra has volunteered that six weeks is the likely maximum length of time for any waiting period.

    New powers must always fill an active slot, immediately de-activating an ability of choice.

    She has a hard limit of twenty abilities stored at any one time. She is able to pick which ability is replaced by what in those instances.

    Her current known set of powers is as follows:
    Brute - Described as a Variable Adaptive Emotional Shield, Mystra may pick certain emotions or viewpoints and turn up the "volume" granting her strength, and defenses commensurately with how loud she makes those particular emotions. She has described her preferred emotional state as a mixture of knightly virtue and berserker joy.
    Master/Shaker - May create a shaker effect that causes emotions to drift towards a particular set. Most commonly observed is laziness and calm.
    Thinker - Described as an indicator and general prodding toward decisions that she would be most emotionally satisfied with, with a preference for the long term. She has admitted that emotional states caused by her Brute power can affect its results.
    Mover - Adaptive Emotional Flight, speed is dependent on strong emotional states.

    Mystra's last two active powers are currently unknown.

    Notes: She's actually super nice, I don't even know why we are writing this. She was last seen putting ribbon's in Timesnatch's hair for god's sake.
    Recommended Strategies : Mystra is considered a priority one "keep on side", de-escalation and appeasement should be tried first. If conflict is unavoidable capes which she has already interacted with regularly are considered the best bets. Capes she has not interacted with should only be unleashed in "do or die" scenarios. Capes with ranges greater than 50m are preferred. This strategy is subject to change at any time. Under no circumstances are members of the Triumvirate to be deployed against her as hostiles. If she participates in an Endbringer fight before this document is updated, disregard this document and play by ear.
    Overall threat rating: B-class threat (Adjustment to S-class likely in the future, interactions with the Triumvirate will require immediate reassessment.)



    Name: Bottom
    Classification: Striker/Shaker
    Disposition: PRT Affiliated Team, Paramount
    Location: Brockton Bay, Earth Bet
    Powers:

    Bottom possess the ability to make and control "threads" of psuedo-matter that acts similar, but not exactly, to non-newtonian fluids. The threads are generally generated from the hands, but Bottom has been observed to produce them from other exposed body parts, most commonly from the nose or elbows.

    Bottom may also convert existing objects smaller than half a meter cubed (approximate) into threads. This effect is Manton-limited.

    Notes: Never seen in action without his partner Top. Top and Bottom are in a long-term relationship.
    Recommended Strategies : Any action against Bottom must be considered as if also engaging Top. Top's power is highly synergistic with Bottom's. Common tactics are for Bottom to create a thread and spin it manually for Top to control. Threads become harder the faster they are spun and no hard limit has been shown with Bottom's pseudo-matter.
    Overall threat rating: B-class threat



    Name: Top
    Classification: Shaker/Blaster
    Disposition:
    PRT Affiliated Team, Paramount
    Location: Brockton Bay, Earth Bet
    Powers:

    Top has telekinetic control over spinning objects. This affect is Manton-limited. The strength, control, and speed she may move objects is directly tied to how fast those objects are spinning. Her maximum observed limit of objects she can control actively at the same time is thirty. This is observation, not confirmation of a hard limit.

    Maximum range of control is observed to be 30m.

    Mover - Top has a tinker-designed suit with internal gyroscopes she uses to fly. This suit is not generally seen used in an active combat capacity.

    Notes: Never seen in action without her partner Bottom. Top and Bottom are in a long-term relationship.
    Recommended Strategies : Any action against Top must be considered as if also engaging Bottom. Bottom's power is highly synergistic with Top's. In the circumstances of a kill order, use of firearms with rifling is considered pointless. Additional strategic considerations can be found in Bottom's threat assessment.
    Overall threat rating: B-class threat



    Name: Agenda
    Classification: Thinker
    Disposition:
    PRT Affiliated Team, Paramount (Teen Division)
    Location: Brockton Bay, Earth Bet
    Powers:

    Agenda posess’s a Thinker ability described as goal-oriented decision pruning. The more information Agenda can gathers the faster his power works. Depending upon the length of time spent pruning Agenda has described his power as capable of generating information on its own.

    Agenda has also admitted that this information generation occurs easier when engaged in high risk activities.

    Finally Agenda has also stated that during a particularly long pruning session he became moderately pre-cognitive, he has not been able to reproduce the state since.

    Notes: Agenda considers himself non-violent, generally does not engage in cape fights directly. Negotiation is considered a valid tactic, but protracted negotiations are discouraged.
    Recommended Strategies : Standard take-down measures are considered acceptable. Quicker action is recommended.
    Overall threat rating: D-class threat (This threat rises the longer hostilities are maintained.)



    AN: These aren't perfect and were done pretty quickly, but I figured ya'll might appreciate them anyway.
     
    preier, marsolino, Lantalia and 9 others like this.
  8. Threadmarks: Part 3
    Hydra_sv

    Hydra_sv Making the rounds.

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    Amy crossed her legs in the chair, counting down the seconds on the clock.

    Five.

    Four.

    Three.

    Two.

    One.

    Emily shot up from the bed in the clinic, toppling to the ground with a crash. Amy’s smirk greeted her as she groaned rubbing her temples, while standing up.

    Amy spoke, “Did you do that on purpose?”

    Emily continued to groan. “Maybe. You’ll have to be more specific. Also, what is this headache?”

    “That’s just the regular hangover I decided not to save you from. The rest of your organs are tip top now though.”

    Emily snorted as the room swayed a bit with her headache.

    “Can I at least have some water?”

    Amy pointed to the sink where a few paper cups were waiting.

    “Help yourself.”

    Emily stumbled to the sink and set about grabbing a drink of water. “I’d complain but I deserve it.”

    Amy continued to smirk at her. “You’re right. You scared me half to death. Though I guess having a stiff drink to face your darkest fears is forgivable.”

    “I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t stop myself either though.”

    Amy nodded. “An impulse of the moment?”

    “No, no it was definitely the second glass of Scotch and all the talking that got me moving to the eighth glass and stupid decisions.”

    “Well, as your doctor you should probably do something about your weight.”

    Emily snorted. “I intend to, after I lay down in a dark room.”

    Amy was all smiles when she stood and walked up before giving a menacing whisper, “If you ever do something like that again, I’ll make it so you wake up like this every day for a month.”

    Emily looked at her, her eyes wide for a moment before she burst out laughing.

    Amy sputtered as Emily stood up and a serious expression came over her. “How much do I owe you?”

    “I was off the clock, I don’t charge for emergency care anyways.”

    Emily nodded again. “Thank you. Have a good day Miss Dallon.”

    Amy smiled softly. “You too Director. Feel better.”

    Emily’s face twitched into a slight scowl before she snorted and left.

    --

    Amy hummed to herself as she finished checking the outfit out in the mirror. Vicky’s idea had been spot on. Amy was not her sister, she was not beauty poured into porcelain skin, but lately that hadn’t been bothering her as much. She fiddled with the skirt one more time before walking downstairs.

    Amy heard the sound of a camera shot and scowled, ready to bite into Vicky when Carol stepped out holding her phone up. Amy paused in shock. That was the very first time Carol had ever taken a picture of just her.

    She stared at her mother for a long moment before Carol broke the silence, “I told Vicky to wait outside to take you to your date. I wanted to talk first.”

    Amy nodded and Carol gestured to the couch. They both plopped down and Carol was quiet for a moment, and the air of awkwardness she was used to started to creep up between them. Carol seemed to steel herself and then slowly raised her hand up and pushed one of Amy’s stray hairs behind her ear.

    “You look lovely tonight Amy.”

    Amy’s heart stopped. She had heard her say that so many times to Vicky, every date with Dean, every other boy she’d ever gone out with, every single time, every single date. That compliment had been the send off.

    Not going to cry right now.

    Amy smiled carefully, keeping herself under control.

    Carol’s voice was quiet. “I’m sorry I never saw it before. I’m going to try and do better. Will you… will you let me?”

    NOT going to cry.

    Mom reached to hug her and Amy did what she had done for years, hugging her back, but keeping her distance. Her mother didn’t stop though and drew her further in, closing the gap that she had just accepted would always be there.

    “Yeah, I’d like that.”

    Mom gave her a weak smile and a quiet “Thank you” before shooing her off.

    --

    Vicky touched down with her and quickly set about fixing Amy’s windswept hair with product. Amy wasn’t entirely sure where Vicky had actually stored it. Vicky did a twirling motion with her finger and Amy obliged with a small twirl and a laugh.

    Vicky gave her a once over, then tapped her finger on her chin. “Ravishing, darling.”

    Vicky’s snort at her own hamminess broke Amy’s mock glare and she erupted into giggles.

    “Seriously though, you look great, she’ll love it. Now get!”

    Amy checked herself once confirming that, yes she did have her purse before walking quickly.

    Kitty!

    She paused as her cat jumped out of an alley. He looked snazzy! He recognized her too.

    Saunter away snazzy cat!

    He darted in and out of her legs before shooting back off into the alley. He had touched her leg long enough for her to check and he was doing great!

    Fun!

    Amy laughed as she rounded the corner to Jammers. She hadn’t actually been to this coffee place before, but she loved coffee enough that it probably didn’t matter if it was good or not. Still, Madison didn’t really seem like the type to accept anything less than awesome.

    Oh… that’s flattering!

    A slight blush appeared on her cheeks and she waited quietly outside the restaurant/coffee shop. Madison hopped out of a car a few minutes later and paused before she closed the door saying. “I’ll call you, Dad.”

    Amy couldn’t make out the response but Madison kept talking, “What? I’m on a date with Panacea, I’ll be fine.”

    “You seriously still don’t believe me? What did I ever do…”

    Madison groaned. “I guess there is that… and that… and also that... I get it. Love you too Dad.”

    Amy had her hand on her mouth to contain her laugh before Madison swirled around and got on the curb looking around for a moment before her eyes settled on her.

    Amy’s blush grew as Madison’s eyes widened before the other girl whispered, “I love women.”

    She suddenly scampered up and grabbed Amy’s hands, looking her over. “You look amazing! You got all dressed up for me?”

    The responding blush on Madison’s face left a quiet silence between them as they both tried to speak a few times before Madison squeaked, “Coffee?”

    Amy nodded vigorously, not daring to open her mouth.

    I have no idea what I’m doing!

    There was a moment where they couldn’t decide if they were going to continue to hold hands or not before Madison stamped her foot down on the concrete. “Coffee!”

    Amy snorted and they went inside. Coffees were ordered, seats were found, and awkward staring commenced.

    Amy eventually broke the silence. “We should probably talk?”

    Madison nodded and smiled. “I think that’s part of dates. Right?”

    “Maybe?” Amy steeled herself. “So other than activism and school, what else do you like to do?”

    “I feed Taylor, I dabble in creative writing, and by creative writing I mean fan fiction, um… I used to post on PHO a lot, but then I started getting into the Aleph Anime scene?”

    “Anime?”

    “Oh, Japanese Animation, Japan has a really strong economy on Aleph and they produce a lot of animated works. Um… they have a whole class of it dedicated to lesbians. Well, it's not really culturally identical, but beggars and choosers ya know? LGBT media is pretty sparse, and that’s what initially captured my interest.”

    Her cheeks blushed a bit as she talked about it before she laughed at herself. “But yeah.”

    Amy was a bit curious, she wasn’t really up on Aleph stuff. “I’m curious, what you mean about the culture thing?”

    “Well just like?” Madison’s hands flapped around for a moment. “Like.. Like… Nekos!”

    “Nekos?”

    “Cat girls. LIke there’s this whole thing about girls with cat ears and tails. Or fox ears and tails. I’m not really sure what it’s all about other than maximized cuteness.”

    Amy tilted her head to the side, suddenly imaging Madison with fox ears and a tail, and she blushed.

    Fun! Oh dear.

    “I think I get it.”

    Madison saw the blush and started giggling. “Is that so?”

    Amy blushed again. “You’ll tell no one.”

    Madison zipped her lips before laughing again. “But yeah that’s like one thing. I’d go into more depth, but Japan’s just different; moral and cultural values don’t perfectly line up.”

    She shrugged and Amy nodded back.

    “What about you?”

    “Well… honestly? The clinic is kind of my fun time. Sundays in particular. I did eye color for a girl the other day. It was super fun going through a bunch of unnatural colors. I cut her a massive deal since it was the first time I did it and I didn’t want it to impact my percentages too much. She asked me about bioluminescent eye lashes. I realllyyyyy had to give that one some thought, the work it takes to figure out what a totally novel procedure like that should cost is pretty onerous.”

    Madison nodded along before she paused. “Wait… could you… could you make a cat girl?”

    FUN!

    Amy hedged. “Maybe? But… I wouldn’t. The cost of something like that? Then there is PRT approval I’d have to go through because that’s poking into their domain. It would break my percentages too, and I’m doing my level best to make sure I can keep that space free for more trans people.”

    Madison smiled and she grabbed Amy’s hand. “That’s really great of you.”

    “I just gave you additional motivation to get that bill passed didn’t I?”

    Madison blushed before she stuck out her tongue.

    There was a lull before Madison spoke quickly. “Would you testify?”

    “Huh?”

    “For the bill? And maybe ask Timesnatch if she would like to too? Like… so I know one of the Paramount capes, the boy you helped? I won’t say his name, or cape name cause it might out him, but he said he could, like have kids. And I assume it's the same for Time?”

    Amy nodded.

    “Like… that’s huge. And um… it directly impacts how many people you can help, so your testimony would be like a really big deal. I mean I’m not the big wig in the push, I’m just one of the helps ya know? But I can tell them you’d want to and honestly… it would make a huge difference.”

    Amy didn’t even have to think. “Okay.”

    Madison squealed. “Thank you! Thank you! This is gonna be awesome. I dunno how long it will take but um… I’ll have them go through New Wave directly?”

    “That would work best, Sarah’s better at handling all that kind of stuff.”

    Maybe I could open a pharmaceutical company? Sounds like fun? Fun!

    “Okay, no more work talk now. Sorry, I just had to ask.”

    Amy squeezed her hand. “Though, I’m starting to think this is all a long term plot by you to have floofy ears.”

    Madison snorted. “No, not really. It’s actually just a long term plot to have excuses to spend more time with you.”

    Madison winked and Amy blushed before she muttered, “You look way too pleased with yourself.”

    “Hey! It's a lot of work to try and be smooth!”

    Amy finished her coffee. “So Ms. Smooth. Want to go for a walk?”

    Madison smiled. “Sure.”

    --

    Madison waved her hands around while they walked, “And it's such a shame that Squealer is a druggy because I’m pretty sure she could make an honest to god transformer and she’s totally wasted in the Merchants. Like all she builds is trucks now, when she first started before she joined the Merchants she had this motorcycle that was shaping into something great.”

    Amy smiled at Madison’s enthusiasm before Madison got quiet. “I wonder if anyone’s tried that? Just asked her if she wanted to do more interesting things with her tinkering.”

    “You mean like throw her a carrot instead of a stick? I thought that’s what Skidmark was technically doing?”

    “Yeah but… it's not the same for capes you know? Like there’s a lot of small time capes that are LGBT for – you know – obvious reasons.”

    Amy nodded and Madison continued, “Like tinkers who don’t tinker start getting manic, and other capes have complained when they don’t use their power regularly. I mean have you heard the stuff Scapegoat has said on PHO before? I mean I’d hate having his power too but yet he keeps using it.”

    Amy’s forehead scrunched up and Madison turned to her. “So yeah, maybe someone could just ask her if she wanted to do more interesting things.”

    Amy tilted her head to the side, staring at the sky for a moment.

    I have money.

    The thought made Amy giggle for a second. “I have money.”

    Madison looked at her face before she laughed. “You look like a dope right now.”

    “No, like I have money. I can hire people. I mean technically I have two people on staff I just didn’t think about it all in context.”

    I have money.

    Amy’s head swirled with ideas for a moment. “Sorry I just had… the dumbest idea…”

    Madison poked her and she grinned wider. “So like… I think I might be about to piss off the Elite.”

    Madison paused and a look of concern flashed on her face. “Don’t do anything that would get you hurt.”

    Amy chuckled, a little bit of mania appearing before she smiled again. “No, I’m fairly certain I’ll be safe, and anyways aren’t I the one that’s supposed to be watching out for you?”

    Madison’s cheeks turned a bit pink. “It can go both ways.”

    Any further discussion was interrupted by Glory Girl arriving.

    “Hey Vicky.”

    Vicky noticed Madison’s blush right away and it was clear she was delighted to see it.

    “Sorry, did I interrupt something?”

    Amy’s eyes crossed and she shrugged before turning to Madison. “Want to do this again?”

    Madison whispered, “Hell yes.”

    I have no idea what I’m doing! FUNNNNNN!

    She leaned forward and kissed Madison on the cheek, who squawked in surprise before she made an indignant sound. She grabbed Amy’s hips and pulled her in for a real one.

    It lasted only for a second before nerves and excitement had them pull away with faces as red as the surface of Mars.

    Madison nodded goofily. “Next week?”

    Amy nodded back with a similarly stupid grin. “Yeah.”

    --

    Amy rushed into the house blushing up a storm as Vicky strolled into the house behind her. “It was a great kiss, I wish I’d had my phone out.”

    “Vicky!”

    Vicky just grinned smugly at her. Amy had her hands on her hips glaring sternly back before her mom’s voice came out of the kitchen. “What’s this I hear about a kiss?”

    Oh no!

    Mark shouted down from upstairs, “A kiss!?”

    NOOOOOO!

    Vicky cackled and quickly took a picture with her phone of Amy’s face. Amy’s face went into her hands before Mom snuck up behind her and gave her a hug.

    “Have fun?”

    Amy smiled and nodded. “Yeah.”

    Amy quickly changed topics. “So, um, what’s the process for employing a tinker?”

    Her mom stepped back and stared over her shoulder for a second in thought. “Depends, would this be another kind of endeavor?”

    “Yeah, so… I have a stupid idea. I don’t know if it’ll work. I was thinking of a pharmaceutical company right? But… I wanted a way to get around some of the NEPEA-5 restrictions. So I could just make a drug. That’s all well and good, but what if I develop a process for making drugs, and then sell the process? Madison reminded me that I technically have money now, which I could invest into something I’d been thinking about.

    “So I’d need to hire some people for that, but the other idea was like a mobile clinic. But I wanted to hire some tinkers on for it. And this is where my idea gets stupid.”

    Her mom grinned at her, “Well out with it.”

    “I want to offer a job to Squealer.”

    Vicky sputtered behind her and Carol stilled. “Is that wise?”

    That was a much better response than I hoped!

    Amy pushed her fingers together and shuffled on her feet. “Madison offered a perspective I hadn’t considered. Squealer is kind of wasted in the Merchants. Um… no pun intended.”

    Her mom snorted before Amy continued, “I was thinking that she might be convinced to go straight with the right incentives. I mean I’d want a pretty rock solid contract, but I know NEPEA-5 allows for villains to reform for work that benefits the public. There’s that whole public service part of it.”

    Her mom nodded and had that look of wonder again before she gestured for Amy to continue.

    “So I’d be offering her a chance to do something with her tinkering that didn’t involved crashing into buildings. I can clean up her drug problem in a snap. It’s just a question of being able to have that conversation with her. Which is the hard part.”

    “You want to extract Squealer from the Merchants?”

    “I guess?”

    Her mom chuckled. “You’re right. It is a stupid idea.”

    Amy frowned but Carol stood up straighter, tugging at her blouse. “But… if it worked… we’ll need to discuss it with the PRT.”

    Amy grinned. “The Director might owe me a favor or two.”

    Carol’s smile grew absolutely feral.

    --

    “Amy!”

    Amy started at the sound as Mystra crashed into her. Her mask came off and Taylor drew her into a tighter hug.

    “Everything you said was true! The Director took care of everything and Dad’s working again, he even has a job at the PRT here now. Thank you. Thank you so much.”

    The hug grew tighter and Amy didn’t fight it. Hugs were nice. Eventually the hug stopped and Amy smiled as Taylor beamed at her with tears running down her face.

    “I just – really – thank you.”

    There was a gravity to the thanks that Amy felt that went far beyond the usual. It made her feel warm inside.

    Taylor put her mask back on and grinned. “I’ll be escorting you today my lady.”

    Carol stepped forward,extending her hand. “It's a pleasure to meet you Mystra.”

    Mystra grinned and shook her hand. “You too Brandish. What brings you to the PRT today?”

    Amy grinned. “We’re gonna try and convert Squealer.”

    Mystra’s eyes widened and she smashed her fist into her hand. “Dibs on Skidmark’s face.”

    --

    Amy stood next to New Wave, Mystra and a few of the Protectorate.

    Amy whispered to Mystra, “How’d you get them to let you come?”

    “Oh? That’s easy, the Protectorate wants me exposed to power combinations. They even had a pretty large debate about whether opening a micro-portal into the Birdcage would be worth it. Obviously they decided it wasn’t worth the risk, but they thought about it, which is kind of huge on its own. The compromise is just me being near fights like this. I don’t get anything from Tinkers, but Skidmark and Mush might pop something up. My power does a really good job of telling me what’s worth my time or not. And nothing any of the villains present can bring to bear puts me at risk.”

    “I didn’t think your brute power was that good?”

    Mystra raised her eyebrows behind her mask before she giggled. “Oh you have no idea. If I really turn it up, it's actually pretty incredible. Though the emotional side effects are weird. You can really only turn up some emotions so much right? So I have to start adding emotional states and it gets honestly hard to control. I stick to what’s safe there, and it plays absolute havoc with the thinker power I’m running currently.”

    Amy nodded, that all made sense.

    “Almost show time, Skidmark ETA two minutes.”

    Amy wouldn’t be going in, but she needed to be on hand. Piggot had actually complimented the plan. The opportunity to dismantle the Merchants entirely was considered safer than attacking Lung or the E88. If the Merchants fell apart there wasn’t really a power vacuum to be left behind. The other gang’s already had a hand in dealing drugs and would just quietly absorb the leftovers, for the most part.

    Mystra stiffened as a car pulled into the warehouse parking lot. She mumbled quietly for a moment, seeming to have a conversation with herself.

    “I guess I could drop the emotional shaker effect, I don’t really need it.”

    Miss Militia nodded at her as a go ahead and Mystra started to giggle.

    “This is so cool. Also… um apparently the emotion thing? It's built into my power and not a result of Gallant.”

    Miss Militia nodded again, accepting the new information quietly.

    Mystra poked the air in front of her as she continued to giggle.

    “So what’s it do?”

    Mystra took a deep breath trying to calm herself down. A few stray giggles escaped but she eventually managed. “Okay so, Skidmark, Dauntless, Flashbang, Miss Militia, and… you.”

    Amy crossed her eyes trying to imagine what would result from that particular combo before she stilled.

    “Wait, does your power grant you information on what other powers do?”

    Mystra snorted. “Not exactly, more like a general impression? My power likes… it likes doing silly things. I can’t quite describe it. It likes emotional states, it likes powers tied to that, but it combines powers evocatively. Like take the powers combined and make them melodramatic, vibrant, colorful. I dunno. Like I get a kind of color synesthesia about powers, and my own are always like bright pinks and neon blues, royal purples. But Miss Militia her power is like, Forest green, calm, sure, determined, stable. I dunno. It's hard to describe.”

    Amy nodded. “So… what’s it do?

    “Oh… right. It makes fairies.”

    Amy snorted. “Fairies?”

    She poked the air again and a winged creature appeared, fluttering about. It landed on Amy’s hand and she gasped. It was alive!

    “Okay, so I get how my power comes in.”

    Mystra nodded. “So it summons a fairy, that can throw little micro-flashbang like things right? I can invest an emotion into it when I summon. For this one I picked docility. If a fairy lives long enough I can invest another emotion into it, I think eventually they might even become sapient – I’ll probably refrain from that. Don’t think I’d be okay with sending a sentient into danger. The last thing is those micro-flashbangs? The fairy can create lines with a field effect similar to Skidmark that the flashbangs will follow. It’s limited to simple curves, and the flashbangs aren’t nearly as impressive as The Flashbang’s.”

    Mystra broke down into giggles again. “I can make fairies. I almost wish Shadow Stalker was still on the team so I could surround her with fairies all the time.”

    Miss Militia snorted and Dauntless was grinning. Taylor waved her hand and the fairy disappeared.

    “No fairies today though, have to put it through power testing first.”

    Dauntless looked at Miss Militia. “Ready?”

    Amy and Mystra sat down to wait.

    --

    Squealer sat slack jawed across from Amy. “Bitch… what the fuck?”

    Amy snorted, which got a frown from the other woman.

    “You cannot be fuckin serious? You want me to work for you?”

    “I’ll help you clean up, give you a job, a vehicle tinker would be pretty big for some of what I want to do.”

    Squealer’s eyes darted around the room. “Fucking… what? What the hell kind of drug did Skid’s give me?”

    “Do you want me to clear that up?”

    The woman stared at her like she wasn’t real before she shrugged. “If I’m trippin as hard as I think I am what’s the harm?”

    Amy took that as a yes and flushed Squealer’s system.

    “FUCKKKKKKKK.”

    Squealer shuddered and started sweating before she slammed her hand on the table between them.

    “Fuckkkkk. FUCK. Fahhh…. K… kk..”

    Squealer squeezed the hand she slammed for a moment shaking it off. “This is real?”

    Amy snorted. “Of course it is.”

    There was a moment where she thought Squealer was going to start cursing again before she ripped her hand out of Amy’s and fell backwards off the chair. She stood up and started rubbing her hands against her arms, eyes full of paranoid and frantic fluttering.

    “This is real? Right? Like really real?”

    Amy had no idea what to do.

    Squealer started muttering, “Used to dream. Dream…. Yeah… back when Skids and I first started. He was good to me then ya know? Then… then I was just useful... Dream…”

    She shivered and sat down on the floor of the interrogation room.

    “Wakin’ up, used to dream of wakin’ up. Would get the shakes, he was always there, like had a rhythm always makin’ sure I was keyed up. Waking up… wanted to. Just to see ya know? To see what I could do. The rhythm was good though, Skids was good.”

    Squealer rubbed her arms faster. “So cold. He was like, he knew ya know? I mean, it was us in the beginning, then it became him. Just wanted to have some fun, but then the party never stopped. Wanted to wake up. Wanted to build something great. But I mean like I still did it all. I liked all that. I’m no good.”

    The woman went silent, shivering and muttering.

    Eventually she calmed down. “Why me?”

    “Cause I think you can do what I need, and I think you’d rather do the kinds of things I want, then whatever it was you were doing before.”

    Squealer shivered again. “Never really thought about it, never really had the time to. Just, the rhythm. What do you want me to do?”

    “You ever heard of Doctors Without Borders?”

    “Weren’t they that charity organization that went kaput?”

    “Yeah, I want to restart it.”

    “How do I fit in?”

    “I want you to build the aircraft for it.”

    Squealer’s eyes grew wide. “What kind of aircraft?”

    “Something kinda like a hovercraft? Can do vertical take-offs, lots of modular space on the inside, big, very big. And preferably fast.”

    “You want me to build a mobile hospital, a floating one?!”

    Amy nodded.

    “Fuck… wow.” The shivering had stopped and Squealer’s face was going from paranoid to smiling slowly. “How much money we talkin about here?”

    Amy smiled slightly. “Enough.”

    Squealer stood up, still shaking slightly, and picked up the chair. She sat down with a naked confidence that had been missing from before. “Name’s Sherrell, let's talk details.”

    --

    AN: Somewhere near the Madison containment zone Sophia Hess has a sneezing fit.
     
  9. Zeushobbit

    Zeushobbit I use my mind and yours doesn't matter.

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    I really like your Squealer/Overdrive. You've added a lot of nuance to her character in your fics that isn't present in Canon.

    The Catgirl bit with Madison was adorable. The idea of Amy's power taking ideas from anime made me giggle so hard. Also, Emily drinking herself into emergency care was hilarious.

    Don't think I mentioned it before, I love that you kept the irreverence with Talia picking Timesnatch to replace Clockblocker. I wonder how Glenn Chambers feels about it (actually, he's probably fine since it's staying consistent with Clockblocker's public persona and probably polls very well with the public who already liked 'him' meaning they will still like her.)

    Return of the best cat in the world is great. How long till Amy properly adopts him and Carol agrees to let her. Or you know, Amy opens up a vet clinic or something and best cat is the mascot/guard/god.
     
  10. Hydra_sv

    Hydra_sv Making the rounds.

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    Every good ship has a mouser.
     
  11. Evilhippy

    Evilhippy I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    The fact that your story had the word "cat" in the title is what made my eyes linger on it to start with. I love cats!
     
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  12. Doru

    Doru Digimon, Gamer, and Deviant

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    All hail the Super Kitty, savior of Worm, and bringer of Smiles!
     
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  13. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    "Director Piggot personally owes me a favour. And of course, if you say yes, she'll owe me another one. Plus, I have my own business. So the answer to your question is 'yes'."
     
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  14. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra Not too sore, are you?

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    She could call him Catptain America — or maybe just Steve. :)

    Did anyone else notice that Amy’s description of the vehicle could wind up with Squealer building a helicarrier?
     
  15. vladspellbinder

    vladspellbinder Odd and obscure vampiric panther

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    I was going to quote lines that made me laugh but there were just too many I might as well have just quoted the first chapter and then the others were all really good as well.

    Looking forward to any more that might come about.
     
  16. Lantalia

    Lantalia Making the rounds.

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    Thank you! This is amazing, and I had no idea how much I needed this this month
     
  17. marsolino

    marsolino Not too sore, are you?

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    So wholesome. Watched.
     
  18. amimai

    amimai Please believe me, I got here purely by accident!

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    Agreed, I came for the cat, stayed for the fluffy fluff!
     
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