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It Gets Worse [Worm AU Fanfic] Complete

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, Dec 5, 2015.

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  1. Threadmarks: Index
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    This fic was inspired by suggestions from CinnabarSage .

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


    Part One: Introduction (below)
    Part Two: Rebound
    Part Three: Miscommunication Central
    Part Four: Surprise!
    Part Five: Gathering Troubles
    Part Six: Bolt from the Blue
    Part Seven: Mopping Up
    Part Eight: Double Trouble
    Part Nine: Anvilicious
    Part Ten: Draggin' Ass
    Part Eleven: Things Get Silly
    Part Twelve: The Saga of the Weird-Shit-o-Meter
    Part Thirteen: Lucky for Some
    Part Fourteen: Whatever Happened To ... ?
    Part Fifteen: Going, going ...
    Part Sixteen: Buildup
    Part Seventeen: Loose Ends
    Part Eighteen: Spinning Out of Control
    Part Nineteen: Negligent Deicide
    Part Twenty: Finale [END]
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  2. Threadmarks: Part One: Introduction (Jan 3-Jan 10 2011)
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    It Gets Worse

    Part One: Introduction


    January 3, 2011

    Taylor huddled, shivering, holding the blanket around her shoulders. Nearby, the janitor was talking animatedly to a pair of police officers, but she wasn't really listening.

    “- dunno how long she was in there. She was just lucky that I was going that way and heard her calling out -”

    “Miss, can you hear me?” It was the same paramedic who had given her the blanket. “Miss?”

    “Uh?” She jerked her head up. “Yeah? W-what?”

    “Miss, can you tell me your name?”

    Taylor twitched, pulling the blanket more tightly around herself. “T-taylor. Taylor He-hebert.”

    “Taylor Hebert. Is that correct?”

    “Y-yeah. Why am I sh-shivering? Not cold.”

    The paramedic's voice was warm, soothing. “You've just been through a very traumatic experience, Taylor. You're in shock right now. This is perfectly natural. You'll get through it. Now, can you look into this light for me?”

    She didn't protest as the woman shone the tiny flashlight first into one eye and then the other; it seemed easier just to let her do it.

    “Okay then, that's excellent. Pupil response is normal. Taylor, can you tell me today's date?”

    Taylor blinked. “Uh, January. January third. Two thousand eleven. First day of school.”

    “Good, good. And where are you?”

    “Sitting in the back of an ambulance.” The response came out without her even thinking about it. “Outside Winslow High School.”

    “Well, you're tracking just fine, Taylor.” The paramedic nodded to herself in satisfaction. “Do you feel up to talking to the police?”

    Taylor twitched again. “Uh, can I have my Dad with me?” She looked down at the horrible stains on her jeans and sneakers – the things that had been sharing the locker with her had been scrubbed away, but the marks remained – and added, “And can I have a shower too?”

    The paramedic smiled, looking rather motherly. “I think that can be arranged, yes.”

    <><>​

    Showered, dried and dressed, head to toe in fresh clothing, Taylor felt much more human. More able to face the world. She guessed that she was still in shock; occasionally she shivered and her hands twitched once in a while. There were clean white dressings on them, where she had beaten them bloody on the interior of the locker. A kindly policewoman had replaced the dressings after the shower.

    Now she sat beside her father, facing another police officer. The man's uniform was neat, tidy, almost painfully so. He had a notebook, in which he wrote down what Taylor was telling him. It was no great hardship for him to keep up with her; she kept stumbling, losing track, going back over what had already been said, but he showed no impatience, no irritation. She got the impression that his entire life's purpose was to sit in this room and listen to what she had to say.

    “Well then,” he stated, after she had mumbled herself to a halt. “We will be investigating matters. The fact that you can't state with certainty who shoved you into the locker is unfortunate, but the fact remains that a crime has been committed and we will be looking into it.”

    He stood; Taylor's father took the hint and followed suit. Taylor realised what was going on a few seconds later and stood up as well. “So what happens now?” she asked, surprising herself with her boldness.

    “Well, if I were you,” suggested the officer, “I'd take a week off school. Rest, relax, recuperate. You've had a huge shock to the system. You don't need to be going back into that environment for a little while yet.”

    Danny nodded. “I think that's a damn good idea. I'll let the school know, just after I give them a piece of my mind for letting this happen to Taylor in the first place.”

    “That's your business, sir,” the police officer told him. “If we have any more questions to ask your daughter, we'll be in touch.”

    “Sure,” Danny agreed. “I'm just surprised that there's going to be an investigation at all. I mean, I know how overworked you guys are and this sort of thing has to be small potatoes compared to your normal run of things.”

    “Normally we wouldn't,” agreed the officer, opening the office door. “But as luck would have it, one of our major cases fell through this morning and your case popped at just the right time. Besides, I've got a girl about your daughter's age and I'd hate to have something like that happen to her.”

    “Well, however it works, I hope you catch those little shits.” Danny held out his hand.

    “That's what we're here for.” The officer shook it. “You go get better, miss.”

    “Thank you.” Taylor turned and walked from the police station with her father beside her.

    “Well, that went better than I expected,” he commented as he led the way to the car. “What do you want to do now?”

    “I want to go home,” she told him firmly. “And have about three more showers. I can still feel those bugs on my skin.”

    “Home it is,” he agreed.

    <><>​

    January 10, 2011

    “Holy shit. I don't believe it.”

    “What?” Madison looked around at Emma's startled exclamation. Her eyes widened. “Crap, I don't either. She's back.”

    “Who's back?” Sophia looked up from the drinking fountain. Taller than most, she scanned the crowd in the direction that the other two were looking. It only took a few seconds. “Well, shit. She obviously didn't get the message the first time.”

    “What do we do about it?” Madison looked at the two of them.

    Emma frowned. “You gotta admit, that's pretty ballsy of her, coming back so soon after, uh, after what happened.”

    “Yeah,” chimed in Madison. “It was terrible, wasn't it?”

    Puzzled for just a moment, Sophia looked around to see one of the new substitute teachers loitering nearby. Mr Grant wasn't a bad teacher, but he seemed unusually interested in what the students had to say. Sophia had pegged him as an undercover cop on about the second day, so the three girls had become a little more discreet about what they discussed and where they discussed it.

    Turning, she looked pointedly at him; after a few seconds, he moved off, apparently finding business elsewhere. Smiling slightly, Sophia turned back to Emma. “So, shall we organise a welcome back party for her?”

    “Nothing too blatant,” Emma cautioned her. “Might be more of them around.”

    “Oh, please,” Sophia retorted. “Like they could catch me on their best day.”

    “So what do we do?” asked Madison again.

    Sophia smiled slowly, her teeth very white. “We let everyone know that it's business as usual, of course.”

    <><>​

    Taylor ducked; the dodge-ball went flying over her head as she moved on. Behind her, she heard a muffled cry of pain and looked around; Julia, a friend of Madison's, was on the ground, blood flowing freely from her nose. I didn't even know she was there.

    Turning away, she saw the ball coming straight at her once more and recognised the thrower as one of Emma's friends. She moved aside just in time for it to whistle past her shoulder. That would've left a bruise.

    A grunt of pain and a solid thud made her look over her shoulder. Two girls had collided and fallen together. One of them was Sophia Hess; from the way she was holding her ribs, she must have taken a hit there.

    Shit, they've really got it in for me. She saw the ball bounce into the hands of Emma's friend again and moved behind someone else. Sure enough, the girl held the throw, looking for a clear shot. Taylor kept moving, stepping behind people and the girl kept waiting, until Mr Sorensen yelled at her to just throw the damn ball, already! So then she threw it, without nearly as much force as before, at someone else.

    <><>​

    Taylor ducked her head under the shower stream and ran water through her hair. They're not going to let up. It was a dismal certainty. Although it had been a good gym class; she had no bruises from the dodge-ball this time around. That was a rare enough event that she considered it reason for minor celebration. They'll get me some other way.

    A thud and a grunt of pain made her turn around. She couldn't see that well without her glasses, but it looked like someone was lying on the floor just outside the shower. Turning off the water, she grabbed her towel and wrapped it around herself. Stepping into the outer part of the cubicle, she looked down at the supine girl. Upon closer investigation, she realised that it was Sophia, holding a bunch of familiar-looking clothing. Above her, where Taylor's clothes should have been hanging on a hook, there was nothing. A piece of soap, lying nearby, appeared to be the architect of Sophia's downfall. I wondered where that got to.

    “Hey, that's my stuff!” Taylor reached down and grabbed her clothes from Sophia; the other girl tried half-heartedly to hang on to them, but seemed to be in some amount of pain from her ribs. Hanging the clothes back on the hook, Taylor dried herself hurriedly – her hair would be damp, but that was no big deal – and got dressed before Sophia could do more than sit up. Under her were Taylor's sneakers; Sophia seemed to have landed on them, which couldn't have done her bruised ribs – or ego – any good.

    Hurrying away, she worried over the incident as she went to hang her towel up. It was just a lucky break that she stepped on the soap. She'll be after me now ... and today was going so well, too.

    <><>​

    “So, can anyone tell me what precipitated the downfall of the Namibian government? Anyone?”

    Taylor raised her hand to answer Mr Gladly's question, while glancing around to keep an eye on Madison. The petite brunette was glaring daggers at her, thanks to the empty desk next to Madison, which was usually occupied by her friend Julia. Taylor had a good idea why – the dodge-ball must have hit her pretty hard. She's probably still in the infirmary – but she wasn't sure why Madison seemed to be blaming her for it. She probably thinks I shouldn't have ducked.

    “Yes, Taylor?”

    She turned back to the front; Mr Gladly was looking directly at her. “Uh, yes. That was due mainly to Moord Nag, wasn't it? The government was corrupt and wasn't protecting the people, so she came in and killed the militias that were oppressing them. After that, the people decided to support her instead of the government.”

    “Very good, Taylor. I see that you weren't idle while you were away.” He beamed at her; she wanted to scowl back at him. He has to know why I've been 'away'; I still can't sleep with the light off and Dad's got to spray the bedroom for bugs on a daily basis. But at least I'm not waking up screaming any more.

    And then Madison put her hand up; he turned to her. “Yes, Madison?”

    “Uh, Mr G, can I go sharpen my pencil at the trash can? It broke.”

    Taylor was immediately suspicious – Madison always took the opportunity to pass by her desk and cause problems when she went to the trash can – but there wasn't much she could do about it.

    She was right, of course; when Madison came past, she went to grab Taylor's books and pull them to the floor, but Taylor locked her arms down on them and glared at her. Undaunted, Madison smiled angelically and continued on to the trash can in the corner of the room.

    Mr Gladly, as always, totally missed the byplay. “Okay, class, turn to page one hundred and five. I want you to read through the examples given of regime changes due to parahuman interference over the last ten years. Pay particular attention to those in Africa and see if you can't spot any common factors.”

    As Taylor complied, she saw Madison making her way back down the row of desks. There was a secret smile on her face that boded no good for Taylor. What's she going to do?

    And then, at the desk ahead of Taylor's, the boy sitting there moved his elbow and his pencil fell on the floor. He didn't seem to notice and nor did Madison; her heel came down on it, it rolled and her foot flew out from underneath her. With a startled shriek, she landed on her butt, with what looked like brown snow drifting down around and on top of her.

    Shavings, Taylor realised. She saved all the shavings and she was going to dump them on me.

    “Madison, are you all right?” Mr Gladly came down the row of desks, but she was already getting to her feet.

    “Mr G, Taylor tripped me!” Madison's finger was out straight, accusing.

    “What? No!” Taylor pointed at the pencil, still on the floor. “John's pencil fell off his desk. Madison stepped on it.”

    Bending down, Mr Gladly picked up the pencil and examined it. “John, is this yours?”

    Turning, the boy looked at it. “Uh, yeah, Mr G. Sorry about that. Sorry, Mads.”

    “Be more careful next time.” Mr Gladly handed the pencil back to him. “Madison, I don't think Taylor tripped you. Just go back to your desk, all right? And clean yourself off.”

    Visibly fuming, Madison stomped past Taylor, brushing pencil shavings off of herself. Not even she would do something obvious while Mr Gladly was standing right there, but in no way did Taylor think she was going to give up.

    I am so dead.

    <><>​

    “Got the water balloons?” Madison's smile was more than a little anticipatory.

    “Right here.” Emma carefully lifted the cardboard box from her backpack; she'd padded it with wadded-up plastic bags for this purpose. From within, she handed out the gurgling rubber sacs of watery doom. There were two for each of them; even assuming each of them missed with one, the other three balloons would be sufficient to soak Taylor to the skin.

    “Excellent.” Sophia weighed hers in her hand. She'd been waiting all day to repay Hebert for the humiliation in gym class. This would do perfectly.

    “So where is she?” asked Emma.

    “Went upstairs a little while ago,” Madison reported. “Maybe to the bathrooms?”

    “Good.” Sophia started up the stairs. “Maybe we can catch her in one of the stalls.”

    “No, wait, here she comes now. Quick, get out of sight!”

    Emma's mistake was tugging on Sophia's sleeve. In doing so, she lost her grip on one of the water balloons; it slipped from her hand and splattered on the steps, spraying water far and wide. Sophia, in the process of turning, stepped into the puddle. Losing all grip on the step, her foot shot out to the side and she fell. As it happened, this was on top of Emma and Madison.

    “Look out!”

    “Argh!”

    “Fuck!”

    They went down in a tangle of flailing limbs. Flailing limbs which released water balloons upward, to fly in short arcs and then come down again. Five soggy splats sounded, one after the other.

    Taylor came trotting down the steps; as she reached the landing above, she peered curiously at the scene below. Sophia was lying atop Emma, with Madison squashed beneath the two of them. All three were soaked from head to toe and brightly coloured rags of rubber were lying around them.

    Edging around them, she spared them one last look, then headed off down the corridor.

    Clambering out from under Sophia, Emma sat up, a distinctly disgruntled look on her face. “We have got to do better than this.”

    “Well, don't look at me,” snapped Sophia. “You're the one who dropped your water balloon.”

    As the other two argued, all Madison could do was try to remember how to breathe.


    End of Part One

    Part Two
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  3. Chojomeka

    Chojomeka Attack on Anus

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    Looks like the Trio have been....Jinxed!:cool:
     
  4. vyor

    vyor Oh that's cute

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    Yes.
     
    Hypervane, blind-conductor and Ack like this.
  5. nobodez

    nobodez Bringer of Context

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    [​IMG]

    Most Excellent.

    I really like the implied slant that QA(?) has in this one.​
     
  6. Older-Than-Time

    Older-Than-Time Descending into The Lewds

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    This...

    This is the story we've ask been waiting for.

    Bravo, Ack. Bravo.
     
  7. MadGreenSon

    MadGreenSon Verified Devil Tiger

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    Starting with the locker isn't my favorite thing, but goddamn... I feel sorry for anyone who decides to go lethal on Taylor, they'll likely get the full Final Destination treatment.:p
     
  8. ViperhawkZ

    ViperhawkZ Emperor of Kanata

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    Interesting, some sort of passive luck manipulation?
     
  9. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Something like Shamrock's power, which does a pretty good job of imitating probability manipulation, yeah. Perhaps she even has Shamrock's shard, in which case the woman who became Shamrock might have Queen Administrator. OTOH, this ability is not the same as Shamrock's, so it could just be QA, with Taylor thinking she had terrible luck, at the moment she triggered (something I suggested a while ago in the Worm Ideas Thread, but I doubt I'm the first to think of it).
     
  10. Biigoh

    Biigoh Moderator

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    Taylor got shamrock's power?
     
    blind-conductor, Alayne and Ack like this.
  11. pepperjack

    pepperjack A Variety of Cheese

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    I was going to say it seemed more like something specifically geared to harm prevention/reflection, but then I remembered this bit at the beginning:

    - which makes it seem more likely to be some sort of general (psuedo-)probability manipulation, yes.

    I'm expecting her to get drawn into the cape scene at some point, because Worm fic, but I have to say I'll be perfectly happy if she never ever does. Daily Adventures of Oblivious Cape Taylor could be pretty cool.
     
  12. MadGreenSon

    MadGreenSon Verified Devil Tiger

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    Heh. If the fic goes full-comedy it would be like The Man Who Knew Too Little, but with superpowers.
     
  13. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Oh, Taylor triggers with a shaker power - great idea! If the response is proportional, I guess deadly attacks will kill the attacker. I wonder how long Sophia survives, if that's the case.
     
  14. pepperjack

    pepperjack A Variety of Cheese

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    I'd think she would be more likely to out herself as Shadow Stalker than to actually perish.

    (Unless she was trying to electrocute Taylor or something, which would be silly.)
     
  15. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    We shall see what we shall see.
     
  16. Fishyface

    Fishyface Not too sore, are you?

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    I don't know. Sophia falling onto a taser is hilarious. I can dream. :)
     
  17. Jack of Olives

    Jack of Olives Knows just enough to be dangerous.

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    So, the big question is: can she control her power, or is it's use purely (and unconsciously) reflexive?

    I eagerly await finding out. :D
     
  18. DieKatzchen

    DieKatzchen Know what you're doing yet?

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    Because it was Ack, I read it even though I don't like dark fics. The title made me keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, right up until the soap. That's when it dawned on me. This fic is glorious.
     
  19. Addlcove

    Addlcove Making the rounds.

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    Funny, that's what my bunkmate said about his shower yesterday...



    <badum tish>
     
  20. Threadmarks: Part Two: Rebound (Jan 10-Jan 11 2011)
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    It Gets Worse

    Part Two: Rebound


    I got off the bus and hefted my backpack. Even now, the memory of Emma, Sophia and Madison, piled at the bottom of the stairs, made me giggle spontaneously when I thought of it. I thought I might have an idea how that had happened; they'd obviously brought the water balloons to school in order to ambush me with them, but one of the balloons had maybe leaked, making a puddle on the stairs. And Sophia stepped on the soap earlier, so there was probably still some on her shoe.

    However it had happened, it had been a very satisfying scene to come upon. They hadn't bothered me for the rest of the day. In fact, I hadn't seen them for the rest of the day. Being humiliated like that must kind of burn. Gee, I wouldn't know about that at all.

    Strolling along the pavement with the pack slung over her shoulder, I felt unaccountably light-hearted for the first time in … months. I still hadn't totally recovered from the ordeal in the locker, but the money that Dad had squeezed out of the school would probably go toward therapy. Truth be told, I didn't know how I was going to deal with some stranger asking me probing questions about things I really didn't want to think about, but I guessed that it was probably a good idea. I don't want to end up with PTSD.

    But today had been a good day, the ominous beginnings notwithstanding. Maybe I'm learning to dance between the raindrops. For sure, they'd tried, but they hadn't been able to tag me even once, not in gym class or after – though I had an errant bar of soap to thank for Sophia's downfall – not in World Affairs and not at the stairs. My mind slid irresistibly back to the look on Emma's face when I had descended the stairs and edged around them. That expression of total aggravation and humiliation had been so worth it. I just wish I'd had a camera.

    Still giggling, I opened the chain-link gate and let myself into the back yard. The back door opened to my key and I strolled into the house.

    “Afternoon, Taylor.” Dad was sitting on the sofa.

    Okay, I hadn't expected that.

    <><>​

    “Um, Dad, why are you home so early?”

    “Because I was worried about you.” We sat across the kitchen table from each other. I'd fixed myself a ham sandwich. He was just sitting there.

    “Oh. Well, I'm fine. Today was actually pretty good, to be honest.” I took a bite from my sandwich.

    “So nobody picked on you?”

    For a split second, I considered telling him the unvarnished truth – they tried, but they just couldn't get it right. Oh, by the way, my ex best friend Emma is leading the pack – but I chickened out. Dad didn't need this sort of hassle; if he came home early every day because he was worrying about me, he might lose his position with the Dockworkers' Association.

    “Seriously, Dad. I'm fine. Nothing happened. Nobody shoved me, called me names, picked on me or anything. Heck, I didn't even get hit playing dodge-ball.” Though they surely tried.

    “Oh.” He looked obscurely disappointed, as though he'd wanted to be able to justify leaving work early. “So, no problems at all?”

    “None. I promise.” I reached across the table, captured his hand. “I'm fine. You worry about getting jobs for the dock workers.”

    Finally, he smiled and squeezed my hand. “Okay, kiddo. You win. But if there's a problem, let me know, okay?”

    “Sure.” I knew I was lying through my teeth. Even if I'd had problems, I wouldn't have admitted to them; Dad needed to be able to concentrate fully on his job. And even if today was just a fluke, it was a welcome fluke and I'd take it. That one good day was worth a lot of aggravation.

    And what the hell, I might have another one soon.

    <><>​

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    “Okay, so shit happened. We move along. Taylor got lucky, but it's not gonna happen again. We're gonna show her who's boss.” Sophia looked between Emma and Madison, her expression hard, as if challenging them to contradict her.

    “Okay, so what do we do?” Emma looked unsure; Sophia wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled, to tell her you're tough, dammit, show a bit of spine! But she didn't. It was up to Emma to prove her toughness.

    “The bathrooms.” Madison's voice was bright. She still winced a little when she moved – her bruises had to be even more spectacular than Sophia's – but her heart was definitely in this.

    “What about the bathrooms?” Sophia made her voice harsh.

    It didn't seem to faze the petite brunette. “She'll be there again today. She goes there nearly every lunchtime. Third floor. You know, the one where the stall doors open outward.”

    “So what?” But Emma was looking interested now.

    “So one of us holds the door shut, while the other two drop stuff on her from either side.” Madison's voice held a do I have to explain everything? note, but Emma didn't mind. “Soda, pudding, juice. No witnesses, no way for her to get away from us.”

    “She might go to Blackwell.” Sophia didn't really think this would happen, but she was throwing it out there to see what the others thought.

    “What if she does?” Emma snorted. “She didn't get a good look at us last Monday, so even if she says anything, all we have to do is alibi out. Arrange it ahead of time and they'll never pin it on us. What the cops don't see, they can't prove.”

    “All right then.” Sophia gave Madison an approving nod. “We'll do it.”

    “One more thing.” Emma's voice held a note of caution.

    “Yeah?” Sophia turned to look at her.

    “We don't do anything till then. Make her think we're leaving her alone.”

    Madison nodded. “Yeah. Good idea.”

    <><>​

    I had to admit to a certain amount of wariness; as welcome as the lucky breaks had been for me on Monday, they couldn't last. But maybe they won't have to. Maybe I can get through this on my own.

    It even seemed to be working. Math class had dragged on, certainly, but nobody from Emma's coterie had done anything to mess up my day. Next had been World Affairs, with Madison and Julia. The latter had a gorgeous black eye, albeit mostly concealed with makeup, along with a bandage across the bridge of her nose. I hadn't spoken to them, or even looked at them if I could help it. Madison hadn't tried any pranks, although she and Julia had given me the occasional poisonous glare when Mr Gladly's back was turned.

    The third class of the day was Computers, which I shared with none of the regular bullies. I was good with computers, so I could settle down and think things through logically, while doing the work at the same time.

    I wasn't quite sure how to process the situation; were they giving up? They had eased off once before, just prior to the Christmas break, which had culminated in the locker incident. But that had gotten the school some very unwelcome attention from the police; had this scared them off?

    Part of me wanted to think that their run of bad luck might turn them off bullying me, but I didn't think so. They'd been getting away with it for more than a year. It was probably habit for them.

    But yesterday had proven something to me as well; they weren't infallible. They could lose. Given just a little luck and perhaps some forethought, I might just be able to sidestep further attempts. Or at least force them out into the open enough that the teachers and staff were forced to pay attention.

    At least, that was the general plan.

    <><>​

    Habits cut both ways. Emma and her friends had 'torment Taylor' down to a fine art, whereas I had been eating my lunch away from the cafeteria – far too many opportunities for spilled food, spilled drinks, trips, shoves, pinches and other indignities and humiliations, thank you very much – for quite some time.

    I didn't eat in the same place every time, for fear that they'd find out and stake the place out, but one of my favoured locations was the upstairs girls' bathroom. Lock myself in a cubicle, eat my lunch, read a book, do some homework, go back down to class. No muss, no fuss, no bother.

    I didn't realise that they knew about this ploy until, well, they showed up.

    The first I knew of it was when I was sitting on the toilet seat, halfway through my pita wrap, when the door of the bathroom banged open. I froze. I didn’t want to rustle the bag and clue anyone into what I was doing, so I kept still and listened. There was a knock on the door, making me jump. I ignored it, but the person on the other side just repeated the knock.

    “Occupied,” I called out, hesitantly.

    In response, I heard muffled giggling and whispering; most of the words were too soft for me to hear, but I thought I heard my name. And I definitely recognised the voices. Emma. Sophia. Madison. Shit, they found me.

    This was most definitely not a good thing.

    <><>​

    I stood up abruptly, letting the brown bag with the last mouthful of my lunch fall to the tiled floor. Rushing for the door, I popped the lock open and pushed. The door didn’t budge.

    As I pushed harder, I heard noises from the stalls on either side of me. What are they doing? I gathered myself to push even harder and then I heard a crash and a clatter from both sides, interspersed with startled shrieks. Overhead, a bottle of juice – I smelled cranberries – arced over the stall, the globules spilling from the neck just missing me as it vanished from my sight beyond the door. I heard the hollow plastic clatter as it struck the tiled floor while I heaved once more at the cubicle door.

    From beyond the door, I heard a startled cry, followed by a heavy thud, as the obstruction gave way.

    I pushed the door open all the way and looked down at Sophia Hess; she was lying, winded, in a most uncomfortable position, in what seemed to be a large pool of cranberry juice, which was now soaking into her top and skirt. From the mark on the floor, one of her feet had skidded in the pool, which had come from the bottle that was lying beside her … which I had seen seconds before, flying over the top of the stall. It must've landed just right to spill the juice so she'd step in it. Really?

    Sophia, although she gave me a groggy glare of death, didn't seem about to get up and attack me, so I retrieved my bag lunch and backpack from the toilet stall. As I was doing so, I realised that Emma's face was glaring at me from under the divider.

    “Emma?” I asked, jolted out of my bemusement. “What the fuck?”

    She didn't answer, so I stepped out of the stall once more. I had to see what was going on here.

    Looking into Emma's stall, I saw – and burst out laughing. Emma had, I gathered, been standing on the toilet seat in order to reach over the partition and – I presumed – pour juice on me. No, not juice, I corrected myself; soda. The half-empty bottle was floating in the toilet bowl itself, its missing contents all over Emma.

    The cause of the mishap was clear. The toilet seat had come loose from the pedestal, going one way while she went the other. And somehow, through some miracle of comic timing, she'd ended up wedged upside-down beside the cistern, with her head almost under the divider between toilets. She was grunting and straining to free herself, her legs jerking spasmodically, but it looked as though she had come down at just the right angle – or wrong angle, from her point of view – for doing that; one of her arms was trapped and she had zero leverage with the other one. In short, she was stuck in a hugely embarrassing position and would require intensive assistance to extricate herself. And possibly the use of heavy machinery.

    The story in the stall on the other side was perhaps even funnier. Madison's toilet seat had opted to come loose from its pedestal as well – wait, what? - but instead of going sideways, it had shot out of the stall and come to rest under the sink. She hadn't ended up covered in the contents of her bottle, as Emma had; that bottle was the one that had arced over my stall and contributed to Sophia's catastrophic mishap, but she had ended up stuck in the toilet, butt first, with a small container of chocolate pudding upended on her head, the contents trickling down her face. Her knees were quite literally up around her ears. And as petite as she was, she looked wedged.

    I would have given my soul to own a camera, right at that moment. I would have settled for a phone with a camera in it. Heck, I would have accepted a reasonably good sketch artist.

    By the time I managed to stumble from the bathroom, I was weeping with laughter. I would have stayed, to enjoy the absolute hilarious awesomeness of the situation even more, but Sophia was beginning to climb to her feet. She was still winded, holding her ribs, but that wouldn't last and I figured it was probably a good idea to absent myself from the situation.

    Other girls were just arriving at the bathrooms as I staggered out. They looked at me curiously as I wiped tears of mirth from my eyes. I still couldn't talk, so I just pointed into the the bathrooms and made good my escape.

    <><>​

    By the end of the next period, the news was all over tenth grade and starting to percolate into the rest of the school. Emergency services had been called in; Madison was eventually pried out of her porcelain prison, while they had to dismantle the toilet beside Emma to get her free. Both were taken away on stretchers; the paramedics didn't think they'd sustained spinal injuries, but it was better by far to get them X-rayed to make sure.

    Sophia, who had merely been winded – again – went into a magnificent fit of the sulks. People asking her about what had happened got told to fuck off in no uncertain terms; people asking me, on the other hand, got chapter and verse in between fits of laughter. I knew that Sophia would probably kill me later, but it was still so very worth it.

    Several people expressed disbelief that the whole thing had happened at all, but the the first girls in there had taken photos before Sophia chased them out again. Those photos were making their way around the school in a way that underlined the phrase 'going viral'. It turned out that the more popular someone was, the more glee people took from the situation when that person ended up with egg on their face. And boy, did they take some glee from it.

    Others had trouble believing that all of this had happened by chance; the number of staggering coincidences required boggled the mind. But I had done nothing and I told them so. They seemed to accept this and went back to admiring the photos. I, on the other hand, was beginning to wonder.

    Weird coincidences were starting to follow me around. My life wasn't getting any better – unless I counted in the sheer satisfaction at seeing Emma and company brought down, as well as the fact that they were out of my hair for the moment – but it was becoming clear to me that the bullies were being prevented from tormenting me by incidents that could only be described as crazy random happenstance. Any one of the events of the last two days, taken on its own, could easily be passed off as pure chance, but two separate toilet seats coming free of their moorings at exactly the same time, with a bottle of juice flying over and leaving a pool for Sophia to step in? What were the odds?

    Yesterday, Sophia's attempt to steal my clothing had ended when she stepped on the soap; soap that had almost certainly contributed, later on, toward foiling the water balloon plot. Looking at it in a certain way, it could all be explained away logically. As Dad had once told me, dice have no memory. It was perfectly possible for a series of one-in-a-million chances to happen, one after the other, to the same person, for the same end. But plausible? Not so much.

    I needed to think about that. In fact, I was strongly considering talking to Dad about it. He had to have seen weirdness happening in his life. If he could match my story with one of his own, then I'd accept it as just one amazingly awesome day. But if he couldn't …

    <><>​

    I was still thinking about it when the last class ended and I joined the general exodus from the school. Just as I reached the bottom of the steps, I heard Sophia's voice. “There she is.”

    Turning, I saw Sophia, in the company of four boys. Each of them was eyeing me with intent and moving in my direction. I began edging away, not wanting to let her or them get too close to me. True, whatever guardian angel was watching over me hadn't let her touch me for the last two days, but I couldn't depend on that. I didn't dare.

    I got to the edge of the crowd and took off running, along the pavement. Part of my mind told me that I was running away from potential witnesses, people who could even help me against Sophia. The rest of my mind, the more pragmatic part of it, reminded me of all the times that these same people had stood by while Sophia and her friends had bullied me, up to and including locking me in my own locker. I ran faster.

    <><>​

    When Hebert started running, Sophia glanced around. She couldn't see any of the undercover cops. Perfect. As they started after their prey, she pulled a heavy roll of silver-grey duct tape from her bag and handed it off to Troy, the biggest of the boys she had recruited for this purpose.

    Their continued failure to get to Hebert following the locker incident had shaken Sophia a little. She was a winner. She deserved to win. Hebert, by her very nature, was a loser. But she wasn't playing by the rules; she wasn't losing. Through no merit of her own, she was avoiding her very deserved comeuppance at their hands. Well, not today.

    All four boys were from the track team; Sophia had gotten their agreement to help her out with this by vaguely suggesting that she might be willing to date one of them if they assisted her. They'd fallen all over themselves to sign up for it. Originally, the idea was for them to chase Hebert on their own while Sophia left them to it, but she wasn't certain that they had the will to continue the chase to its conclusion, so she had decided to go along with them.

    The duct tape was her idea. Once they had Hebert, Sophia intended to repay all of the humiliations and embarrassments that had happened to her over the last two days, then leaving the boys to add what refinements they could dream up in order to impress her. She couldn't have Hebert free to run off while this was going on, so binding her with tape was the next best idea. This brand had particularly strong adhesive qualities; Hebert was going to lose some hair. And possibly some skin, if the person removing it wasn't gentle.

    They rounded the corner. Hebert was up ahead, running hard. However, while she was skinny, she was in no way fit or athletic. All they had to do was run her down. Prey, meet predator.

    Sophia took the lead, adding enough pace to catch up with Hebert in short order. The boys pounded alongside her, then a couple of them drew ahead. She gritted her teeth and pushed herself a little harder. I don't lose, not to Hebert, not to you.

    Ahead of them, she saw Hebert look around; her eyes widened and she actually sped up a little. But it was going to be too little, too late. They were bearing down on her like an express train and she had no hope at all of getting away. Behind her, Sophia heard Troy whoop with exhilaration, as well as the zzzrrripppp noise as he pulled a length of duct tape free from the roll.

    “Carefu-” she began, just as Ken began to put on a spurt, pulling ahead of her. She never got to finish the word, because Ken tripped and fell. Sophia was too close behind him and she went tumbling as well. The others crashed into her back. Something latched on to her.

    Zzzrrripppp. They rolled over and over, cursing and swearing and trying to get loose from one another. But every motion seemed to have the opposite effect from what was intended and she kept hearing that duct tape pulling free of the reel. With each motion, she was less and less able to move freely.

    <><>​

    I heard the shouting and swearing behind me, far too close behind me; I snatched a glance with my heart in my mouth. The image that I beheld was so compelling that I nearly ran into a telephone pole before I remembered to look where I was going. Slowing to a trot and then a walk, I turned and ventured back the way I had come, staring with absolute fascination at Sophia and her friends.

    Sophia glared back up at me, but she couldn't speak, due to the strip of duct tape crossing her mouth, meshed in with the one going right across over the top of her head. She struggled, but it didn't affect her bonds in the slightest.

    “Okay …” I let the word draw out, trying to quell the laughter once more welling up from within me. “I get the duct tape bit, Sophia, but could one of you please tell me how you all managed to tie yourselves up with it?”

    Those boys whose faces I could see looked utterly mortified, while Sophia looked as though she wanted to kill them, herself, or me, whichever was easier. I looked down at the bunch of them, somehow entangled in yard after yard of tough silvery-grey duct tape, binding their limbs no less efficiently than if they'd intended this result.

    I couldn't help it; I began to giggle. “Or,” I gasped. “Or is this some kind of weird performance art? Because you should be on the Boardwalk.”

    I couldn't say any more because I was laughing so hard that my face turned red and my stomach hurt. Sophia was so pissed I thought I could almost hear the steam whistling from her ears, but due to that fortuitous strip of duct tape, she couldn't say a word. And that made it even funnier.

    Eventually, I recovered enough to stagger back toward the bus stop. Sophia and the boys would work their way free eventually. I didn't want to be there when they did. I strongly suspected that they might hold it personally that I laughed at their misfortune.

    Still, once I was on the bus, I laughed all the way home.

    <><>​

    As I got into the yard, I checked this time to see if Dad had come home early again. Sure enough, the car was parked alongside the house. Damn it, Dad.

    I opened the back door and called out. “Hi, I'm home!”

    “Hi,” he replied. “I'm in the living room.”

    “Twice in a row?” I asked as I headed for the door into the living room. “Dad, you're going to get in trouble.”

    “I got a phone call at work today,” he told me as he got up from the sofa.

    “What, the school called?” I was puzzled. “Nobody spoke to me about this.” Well, I had been distracted in Mr Quinlan's math class, but then, the photos of Emma and Madison had been making the rounds. There hadn't been three students actually paying attention.

    “It wasn't the school, Taylor.” He looked at me soberly. “Alan Barnes called. He told me some weird story about you putting Emma in the hospital. He hinted at legal action.”

    I blinked. “Put her – Dad, I didn't touch Emma!”

    “All right,” he agreed promptly. “So what did happen?”

    “Well, one of two things. The first is that Emma and her friends have been spontaneously suffering the worst case of bad luck ever … or …”

    “Or?” He tilted his head, looking at me.

    I took a deep breath. “Or … I'm a cape.”


    End of Part Two

    Part Three
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  21. EJH

    EJH Know what you're doing yet?

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    I could almost hope Alan does manage to get Taylor into a courtroom. Her power's response to that would be something to see.
     
  22. nobodez

    nobodez Bringer of Context

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    Good set of lines, and an excellent conclusion from Taylor.
     
  23. pepperjack

    pepperjack A Variety of Cheese

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    BAH! I wanted more oblivious Taylor.

    Besides, isn't it more likely she'd suspect someone else is a cape? Or at least consider that possibility? After all, nothing could possibly be special or worthwhile about Taylor Hebert.
     
    Dragonin likes this.
  24. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    It's more likely that she's a cape (in her own mind) than someone else is protecting her. Because nobody protects her.
     
  25. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Oh, great chapter! Very funny scenes, and great detail! Why do I think Alan is setting himself up for some accident?
     
  26. pepperjack

    pepperjack A Variety of Cheese

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    Suddenly I'm wondering whether her power is ineffective on Endbringers or if the world's about to see Leviathan drown.
     
  27. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Unlikely. He doesn't breathe.

    Of course, there are other ways and means ... :p
     
  28. Xilph

    Xilph Well worn.

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    Think of the S9 though, if they ever arrive anyway. Jack Slash trips during a speech and falls over, slicing open his own throat, Manton accidentally gets some bad chili, leading to hospitalization and detection as he instinctively summoned the Siberian to protect him just as she was about to destroy the building Taylor was in. Panacea happens to be on scene, totally countering Bonesaw in a fit of rage, Cherish gets shot by Regent, who somehow exploited his emotional deadness to evade notice, Crawler accidentally attacks a bomb hidden by Bakuda that was never disarmed, Shatterbird unfortunately catches a cold, rendering them unable to sing and thus use their power causing their glass to shred them as they plummet to the ground, and nobody really cares about Burnscar anyway. Mannequin had the shit beaten out of him by Armsmaster off screen, as part of a recurring joke that turns Armsmaster into Squirrel Girl 2.0.

    Anything I missed? But yeah, I like comedy so this fic is rather liked.
     
  29. Chojomeka

    Chojomeka Attack on Anus

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    Leviathan's not going to drown, it's going to slip on a convenient piece boardwalk, go back-flipping into the air, knock Eidolon ass over crown out into the Atlantic, and then will land somehow onto one of Bakuda's left over bombs that works like Vista's power launching poor Levi up to his Zizter.:D:p
     
  30. MadGreenSon

    MadGreenSon Verified Devil Tiger

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    With proper buildup and description, that would be fucking EPIC!
     
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