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Occular (Worm x SWTOR)

Discussion in 'Questing' started by Aldsan, Jan 10, 2020.

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  1. CatOnFire

    CatOnFire Magically Malicious

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    [X] Literature
    [X] Warlock
     
  2. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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  3. Sitxar

    Sitxar Making the rounds.

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  4. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Good job, Sitxar, you brought the Emma vote back to a tie. Keeping the Accept dream alive. xD
     
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  5. Jonathan Rahn

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

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  6. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Okay, so the Emma decision is tied again.

    So I'm going to close voting in the interest of writing. I'll probably decide it with a dice roll.

    ....Is what I was going to post, but you managed to get in right at the last minute, huh Jonathan? Good job being the final vote.
     
  7. Thread Necromancer

    Thread Necromancer Douche

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  8. Threadmarks: Slave 1.3a
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Emma:
    [X] Accept her help.
    (Chosen with a literal last minute tie breaker vote. Boy, was this one contentious).

    Club:
    [X] Literature Club

    Name:
    [X] Seeker

    Costume:
    [X] Half-Skirt; Gray with Blue

    The estate was more fortress than home, carved of cold stone and metal deep within the icy depths of Ziost. I shivered, ghosting through the hallways in the oversized, threadbare robe that marked me as slave to the House of Izahra. I was tempted to call it my sole possession, but it wasn’t, not really. As a slave, everything that I owned belonged also to the House I served. So I did not own my bed, I did not own my robe, and I most certainly did not own the data chip I’d hidden within the inseam of the robe’s sleeve.

    It wasn’t the first time I’d stolen it, or one like it. There were advantages to serving an established House with a history of Sith Lords to its name. Of course, I would still have to return it before anyone noticed it missing. Slaves who got ideas about emulating their betters were often executed.

    For all that the Empire claimed to be a meritocracy, a place where the strong rose to dominate the weak, it often wasn’t in practice. The very House that she served was an example of this. Officially, there was no hereditary nobility in the Empire -- the title of a Sith Lord was not something given, it must be earned. In practice, Force potential had a tendency to run through bloodlines, and these lines consolidated power and wealth over time. Their progeny had trainers in both the sword and the Force at an early age and the writings and artifacts of their ancestors to guide them. Thus, the reality was somewhat different from the propaganda, and these entrenched families looked poorly upon those who would usurp them.

    It wouldn’t stop me from stealing their secrets however.

    I came to my destination and took a deep breath before punching in the access code and stepping inside. Cold stone was replaced by plush carpet beneath my bare feet, and I took a moment to glance around. The room’s occupant was still asleep, which meant I could quietly return the chip without any sleight of hand this time.

    At least, that’s what I had believed. As I slid the desk drawer open, a voice spoke out from behind me. “What are you doing up?”

    I pressed my lips together for a brief moment, before turning, all signs of frustration wiped from my face. “I had errands to take care of, Sai’da. Seeing your clothes to the laundry for one.”

    Sai’da rolled her eyes. “You know that you’re to help keep my bed warm until I’m ready to get up.” She slowly sat up, the blankets falling to reveal her nude form. A girl on the cusp of womanhood, likely to leave for Korriban soon to either die or emerge a true Sith. For whatever reason, she’d hated wearing anything to sleep and to my great distaste, often forced a similar lack of clothes onto me whenever she chose to use me as a personal heater.

    Despite my dislike for the arrangement, I knew I was fortunate in a way. There was nothing sexual in it to my knowledge -- she’d simply been that way for as long as I could remember, since we had both been little more than children -- and her position as the only heir of the house meant that few would gainsay her use of keeping me as her personal toy.

    “Not all of us have the luxury of sleeping in until midday, Sai’da.” I was also fortunate in that she allowed, preferred even, a great deal of back talk from her slaves. I suspected that it wasn’t out of any desire to foster actual independent thinking among her retainers, so much as it was because she enjoyed the small bit of social conflict that came with trading barbs. She wouldn’t hesitate to punish a servant who truly displeased her.

    “Is that so?” She stretched and stood, shaking out her blood-red hair. Neither my eyes nor the cold of the room seemed to bother her as she made her way towards me. “I’m quite certain that you have that luxury if I say that you do. Or did you have something else you wanted to do while I was asleep?”

    “It is the only time of day that I seem to actually get anything done,” I say drolly. “Who knows? With all the time I’ll have once you’re gone for the Academy, I might be able to lead a successful revolution.”

    “Oh? And here I thought you would follow me to Korriban like some lost puppy.”

    “I think it would take more than a puppy to keep up with you. Besides, I thought you weren’t allowed any servants at the Academy?”

    “Oh, we aren’t.” Sai’da shrugged casually, before darting her hand out to close around my wrist. She yanked my arm out in front of her and casually plucked her datachip from inside the sleeve of my robe. “But then, you’ve been aspiring to be more than a servant lately, haven’t you?”

    She knew. I stared wide-eyed at her for a single moment, before yanking my arm back. Rather than holding me in place, she simply let go, none of the expected resistance holding me in place, and my back slammed into the wall. It wasn’t an escape. She didn’t need her hands to hold me. Invisible force wrapped around my neck, lifting me from the ground.

    I instinctively clawed at my neck, trying to force the invisible noose from it even though I knew it would do no good. Sai’da stared up at me with pitiless eyes and I tried to kick at her, only for her to take a single step back, effortlessly dodging my attempt. I squeezed my eyes shut. I couldn’t afford to panic.

    I opened myself up to the Universe. I felt the connections, tying everything together. The foolish believed in separation, that everything in existence was distinct. But to the Force, all was together, all was One. Energy was Energy, one sort much like the other. It took only a minor change, and the light in the room darkened as lightning raced from my fingertips to destroy Sai’da.

    Ignoring my intentions however, she simply stepped back in, grabbing hold of my wrist and shoving my hand upwards towards the ceiling. Bereft of a target, the lightning attacked me in turn, the malice I’d infused within it racing through my nerves. When Sai’da let me collapse, freed of the noose that had been choking me, there wasn’t any fight I had left to offer.

    “Well,” she said, a grin spreading across her face. “It seems we shall be attending the Academy together after all.”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    “Hey there, Taylor, glad you could make it.”

    “Uh, yeah. Hey Monica. Is no one else here yet?”

    “Nope, but I know Natsuki was saying that she wanted to prepare a surprise for our new member, so they might be busy with that.”

    I blinked and after a moment settled myself behind a desk. “You guys really don’t have to go out of your way or anything.”

    “Nonsense, we’re happy to have you.” Monica gave me a bright smile. She was a tall girl, with brown hair swept back into a ponytail. Unlike me, she wore her height well, with none of the gangliness that led to me looking like a stick. “Oh, but Vicky did say that she wouldn’t be able to make it today.”

    “Oh, uh. That’s fine, I guess? She did mention that she only popped in occasionally.”

    “It’s probably about fifty-fifty with her, I’d say.”

    I shrugged and glanced around the room, not sure what to say to continue the conversation and uncomfortable with the sudden silence. Fortunately, I was saved from my misery as the door opened and three more girls bustled in. Yuri was even taller than Monica, but moved with a sort of grace I could only hope to match as she swept in towards her seat; Sayori had none of that as she didn’t walk so much as flounce in like an overeager puppy; and Natsuki was a short girl, her hair dyed pink, who came in carrying a tray of … cupcakes?

    She set them in front of me before setting her hands on her hips and puffing her chest out in a pose that spoke of indomitable pride. Each cupcake was decorated with little cat faces drawn in with frosting.

    Natsuki was the first to speak up and fill the silence. “So we wanted to welcome you and stuff. So we borrowed the Home Ec room to make these for you!” She stared at me for a moment, as though waiting for a response, but I couldn’t find the words. She finally turned her head away, red creeping into her cheeks. “So you better be grateful!”

    “I … Yeah, I really am.” I bit down on my lip, forcing my emotions back down. I didn’t want to cry here in front of everyone. I took a deep breath and… I felt myself detach, able to look at my sudden surge of happiness without letting it wash over me. “I really didn’t expect all of this. You really didn’t have to.”

    “Of course we didn’t have to.” Sayori grinned and wrapped me in a hug. “We wanted to.”

    Then, as she was pulling away, her hand darted out and snatched a cupcake, which promptly made its way to her mouth. “Yoink!”

    “Hey! Those are for Taylor!” Natsuki scowled and slapped at Sayori’s arm, but the cupcake thief just laughed, half of it still in her mouth, and started making whooping noises that made me think she was doing some sort of Three Stooges bit as she ran away.

    I couldn’t help but laugh with her, my pure enjoyment softening Natsuki’s ire. “It’s fine. There’s way too much here for me to eat on my own anyways. Why don’t we all have them together?”

    Grins were shared all around as the cupcakes were distributed. Once everyone had settled down, Monica finally spoke up. “Okay, everybody! Let’s get started.”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    I walked towards my house, the evening sun casting everything into shades of red.

    Literature Club had been… fun. A lot more fun than I’d honestly expected it to be. It wasn’t just the social aspect, though I’d admit it’d felt amazing just being able to hang out with a couple other girls my age again. But even the club activities themselves had been interesting. Everyone had shared poetry that they had written themselves and it was… a lot better than I’d expected from a high school literature club.

    The only bad part of it was… Well, I had this nagging feeling the entire time that I was forgetting about something. My thoughts kept going back to whatever dream it was that I’d had last night. The one that I’d woken from only to empty my stomach into my room’s trashcan within seconds. Little remained of it in my memories besides flashes of color and heat, but there was a sense of importance there, that I somehow needed to recall it.

    I let out a slow breath. It wasn’t something that worrying would solve. Either I would remember it or I wouldn’t.

    A loud series of bangs followed me the last block to my house, a sound that any Brocktonite would recognize. The gunfire was far enough away though, that I wasn’t in any danger, and I probably wouldn’t be able to get there in time to help if I went towards it either. Instead, I simply continued my path, idly noting that Dad wasn’t home yet as I passed our empty driveway.

    I stopped as I opened the door. Dad wasn’t home, but the door was unlocked. Now I realized what it was I’d forgotten. I trod my way upstairs, and stepped into my room to look at Emma lying in my bed, playing on her phone. Emma, who I’d agreed to meet up with again today. Emma, who apparently still had a spare key to our house.

    She looked up at me as I entered and smiled. I ignored the conflicting feelings that stirred within me and simply set my backpack down and pulled out my desk chair to sit down, trying not to feel too good about how Emma’s smile faded when I failed to return it.

    “Hey Taylor. I was starting to think you’d ditched me.”

    I shook my head. “I had a club meeting. Arcadia likes its students to engage in extracurriculars.”

    “Oh. Some sort of Art club, knowing you, right?”

    “Literature.”

    Emma flinched back, her face stricken. Was guessing my club so important to her? Was it because I was so abrupt with her? Or was there something else I was missing?

    “Did you have fun at least?”

    “Yeah, everyone there was pretty nice.”

    Emma nodded and we fell into an uncomfortable silence. I stared at her and she stared at me, both of us waiting for the other to offer something to continue the conversation. Finally, Emma licked at her lips before reaching down to pull a notebook out of her bag. “So I brought a few ideas for your whole cape thing.”

    “What sort of ideas?”

    “Well, for one, have you even come up with a name yet? Or a costume?”

    “...No, not really. I’ve been kind of busy.”

    Emma had the decency to look ashamed, but she took a deep breath and powered on. “I get that. But come on, Taylor. Your costume is going to be everyone’s first impression of you, and having a good name is even more important than that.”

    She… had a point. Imagine talking to Armsmaster or something and not even having a good name to call myself by. It’d be beyond embarrassing.

    Emma continued, “And no, I’m not letting you go out in a hoodie and jeans and act like that’s an actual costume. Image matters.”

    I flushed. I’d only briefly considered doing something like that. I mean, it would just be a stop gap measure until I got some cash to make an actual costume. “So what did you have in mind then?”

    She set the notebook on my desk and hopped up to sit next to it. “So most cape names tend to go either one of two ways, right? Either it has something to do with their powers or it’s some ideal that they want to live up to.”

    “Sure? Where are you going with this?”

    “Well, I couldn’t come up with much for a telekinetic -- nothing that hadn’t already been taken, at least, so I thought maybe we’d look at ideal based names instead. How about Zenith?”

    “Zenith?” I asked skeptically. “What am I the Zenith of?”

    “Of, you know, Heroes. It’s saying that you’re aspiring to be the best.”

    “I think I’d have some serious competition in trying to overtake the Triumvirate, Emma.”

    “Okay fine,” she said, rolling her eyes. “So not Zenith then. What sounds good to you?”

    I frowned and tilted my head back, thoughts drifting back to the time a car had almost run me over. “Oracle, maybe?”

    “Sounds like a precog name.”

    “I am a precog.”

    “I thought you were a telekinetic?”

    “I’ve got both,” I shrugged. “Though the precog thing is kind of hard to figure out, since it seems to mostly react when I’m in danger.”

    “That’s… huh.” Emma tapped her pencil’s eraser against her lips. “Definitely not Oracle then. That’s the sort of thing that should be a big advantage in a fight as long as you can keep it a secret. But maybe we can do something with the telekinesis and foresight -- do a magic theme like Myrrdin. Warlock, maybe?”

    I grimaced. “Sounds villainous.”

    I paused, letting myself mull over the issue. No, Emma had been right with her first thought. I should be aiming for an ideal, not something to do with my powers. I didn’t really have an ideal, nothing that stood out. I couldn’t be an icon like Alexandria or Hero. I didn’t have the answers.

    But I could look for them. I could search for Truth, for Justice, even when the Protectorate and the courts didn’t. I could be a light in the darkness, seeking for a way to make things better.

    I looked up at Emma. “Seeker.”

    She raised an eyebrow but jotted it down. “It’s a little nondescript…”

    “I’ll make it work.”

    “Alright. Then, costume. I was thinking red and black, make you a bit intimidating.”

    “Vetoed. Too villainous again. Besides, those are E88 colors and that’s one association that I could do without.”

    “Fair enough. Black and blue then?”

    “You really want black, huh? A bit of a change from when your favorite was Legend. Why not white and blue? It’s more immediately heroic.”

    Emma flushed pink. “He still is. But I think you’d look good in black. Besides, white would make you stick out like a sore thumb. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if you were joining the Protectorate, but if you’re going to be a vigilante, it’d be better if you can keep a lower profile, right?”

    “Black’s actually worse for blending in at night than you might think. Makes you into a silhouette. Maybe… a dark gray? Helps soften the image while still being harder to spot.”

    Emma wrinkled her nose for a moment, before sighing and nodding. “We’ll want to use a couple different shades of gray at least, make layers with blues to highlight.”

    “I’ll trust in you to keep me color coordinated,” I said dryly.

    “Yeah, yeah.” Emma paused before adding casually, “Speaking of, did you have anything planned for next Monday?”

    “No? Not really? Should I have?”

    “If you don’t, that’s fine. I was thinking of taking you out shopping, get you some of the things you’ll need for all of this.”

    It had been… a long time since I’d last been shopping with Emma. A pang of nostalgia swept through me, remembering how she used to pull me from store to store, always more enthusiastic about the experience than I’d ever been. “Okay, I guess. Monday’s as good a time as any.”

    Emma smiled brightly. “Great, we’ll make an evening of it.”

    An evening, huh? I guess that meant we were looking at more than just one or two stores. I winced ever so slightly, thinking of how thin my cash reserves would be after all of this.

    “Now I’ve got one last thing.” Emma pulled a folded up map of the Bay from the notebook and spread it out on the desk. “It won’t matter too much until you’ve got your costume and are ready to patrol, but you need to be aware of where the gangs are at if you’re going to be fighting them.”

    “Wait, how the Hell did you get info on where the gang territories are, Emma?”

    She rolled her eyes. “Come on, Taylor, it’s not that weird. I’m sure you know the basics of where they camp out even with how much of a shut in you are.”

    “Well sure, but just general ideas. You’ve got actual territory lines drawn here.”

    “Eh, you’d be surprised how much people are willing to talk in Winslow. Besides, it’s just generalities. From what I hear, the lines shift all the time.”

    I eyed her for a moment before turning my attention back to the map. The Merchants occupied most of the northern Docks and the Trainyard. The ABB controlled the southern portion of the Docks. The E88 controlled the commercial district. And downtown… “Wait, you’ve even got the Protectorate marked in here like they’re a gang controlling territory?”

    “They basically are. Downtown and the Boardwalk are the places that get way more patrols from the heroes than the poorer parts of town. You probably won’t ever see one out in the Trainyard unless they get an actual call-in.”

    I grimaced. That made it sound like the PRT only really cared about rich people. It probably wasn’t even completely wrong. At the end of the day, they were a government organization, influenced by how tax money was being spent.

    “Any thoughts on where to start?”

    Emma shrugged. “The Merchants are a blight on the city and drugged out scum. The ABB is filled with violent psychopaths and are known to kidnap people. The E88 are Nazis. Take your pick. Though, the Merchants are supposed to have the weakest cape support, so probably better to start with them until you get some experience.”

    I nodded slowly. The Merchants were also the closest to home for me. Our house was technically in ABB territory but they didn’t really bother residential neighborhoods. Dad’s work with the Dockworker’s Union took him a lot closer to where the Merchants were however, and they were known to cause trouble.

    Emma pulled out her phone and glanced at it, checking the time. “Shit. You got back later than I thought you would. I need to get home soon.”

    “Mind if I hold onto the map?”

    Her eyes flicked back to me and she gave me a small smile. “Sure. See you Monday?”

    A part of me wondered how long this would last. When would she decide that she’d had enough of playing friends again and twist the knife instead?





    Next week is Valentine’s Day. How does Taylor react?

    [] Uninterested. Don’t involve her with this romantic junk.
    [] Mildly Interested. Wants to hear gossip of others’ romance without getting involved herself.
    [] Interested. Would enjoy if someone took the opportunity to flirt with her or ask her out.

    One action is being spent to go shopping with Emma. You have 2 Major Actions.
    [] Study at the Library
    [] Look up Capes in the Bay Area
    [] Get ahead on school homework​
    [] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon.
    [] Visit the Lit Club
    [] Emma mentioned your old drawing hobby. Even if you’re not in Art club, you could take some time to enjoy that?
    [] You don’t have a lot of cash, but you could spend some time at the Boardwalk people-watching.
    [] Scrambling over rooftops is probably going to be hard work. Maybe you should practice some acrobatics?
    [] Write-In

    You have 2 Training Actions
    [] Write-In

    2 XP to Serenity
    2 XP to Telekinesis (1 XP Overflow to Push)
    Meet the Sith Warrior of the story. She seems like a pleasant sort, right?

    So with this, we see some AU elements on the Star Wars side. Namely that the SI was the SW’s slave before being discovered as a Force Sensitive and being sent to the Academy. We won’t be sticking strictly with the Inquisitor’s story in this -- Occulus will be interacting with the other “player characters” at times.

    I’ll also be expanding the amount of time used in the SWTOR story. In canon it’s about 1 year from being an Acolyte on Korriban to becoming a Darth which seems… a bit shallow. So she’ll be spending more time building power, more time holding power before the Eternal Empire attacks.

    As an aside, Sai’da being a redhead and showing up in the dream sequence after agreeing to work with Emma is actually completely coincidental. She’s essentially using the character design I used for my Warrior when I played SWTOR, with variations on the story and personality. It is a coincidence that allows for interesting comparisons to be made though.

    Finally, I’ve made a small revision to the skill tree. Energy Resistance is now available and no longer requires Martial Training as a prerequisite. Those eagle-eyed viewers might notice that Force Lightning is a Dark Side power related to this tree as well.

    P.S. I still owe you a talk with Danny from the actions this time, it was just hard to work in. I’ll probably start next chapter with it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
  9. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    Plan boost Taylors confidence.

    [X] Interested. Would enjoy if someone took the opportunity to flirt with her or ask her out.
    [X] Visit the Lit Club
    [X] Scrambling over rooftops is probably going to be hard work. Maybe you should practice some acrobatics?
     
  10. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] Mildly Interested. Wants to hear gossip of others’ romance without getting involved herself.

    [X] Study at the Library
    - [X] Look up Capes in the Bay Area
    [X] Scrambling over rooftops is probably going to be hard work. Maybe you should practice some acrobatics?

    Training Actions
    [X] 2 for Empathy


    Going to see what others have to say before deciding on a Training Actions vote, though I do think that Taylor ought to put at least some work into Empathy.

    EDIT: Though since I'm not reading the threads for this on any other forums, I may have to pick a vote of my own for that later, if no-one here comes up with something that I like.

    Later EDIT: Training Actions vote added in.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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  11. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    So far there's been a big push for Serenity (Including a lot of double Serenity votes). Prescience is running with the second most votes at the moment.
     
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  12. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    OK, I've added my Training Actions vote, double Empathy. Maybe it won't matter, but it's something that I think Taylor would go for.
     
  13. Nioz

    Nioz Know what you're doing yet?

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    And once again I can’t emphasize enough how important Empathy is/will be. And while I would like to see a more confident Taylor, there should be WAY MORE work from our side before she starts trying to actively flirt with people. That, or more bleedover from Miss Sithalicious.

    [X] Mildly Interested. Wants to hear gossip of others’ romance without getting involved herself.

    [X] Study at the Library
    - [X] Look up Capes in the Bay Area
    [X] Scrambling over rooftops is probably going to be hard work. Maybe you should practice some acrobatics?

    Training Actions
    [X] 2 for Empathy
     
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  14. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    So Researching Capes at the Library is in the lead for our first action, but our second place action is a seriously close three-way between Lit Club, Martial Arts, and Acrobatics. I'mma start working on stuff, but voting will remain open a little longer if anyone wants to add their vote (or change a previous vote).
     
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  15. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Quick, lightning round. While shopping with Emma, Taylor looks to purchase a weapon of some sort.

    [] Collapsible Baton
    [] Taser
    [] Knife
    [] Write-In

    She can choose to purchase more than one of these, but remember that she doesn't have much in the way of money and would likely need to rely on Emma to purchase it for her if she did, especially with a more expensive option like a taser.
     
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  16. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] Collapsible Baton
     
  17. ZiPeppe

    ZiPeppe (⌐■_■)

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    [X] Collapsible Baton
     
  18. WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests

    WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests Not too sore, are you?

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    [X] Collapsible Baton

    Am I late?
     
  19. Threadmarks: Slave 1.3b
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    [X] Mildly Interested. Wants to hear gossip without getting involved.
    [X] Study at the Library
    [X] Research Capes
    [X] Visit the Literature Club
    [X] Train: Serenity (x2)

    I bemusedly stared around at the lurid display of paper hearts strung up around the classroom. The Literature club clearly enjoyed celebrating Valentine’s Day. “You guys really went all out decorating, huh?”

    “Well sure, who doesn’t like a bit of romance in their lives?” Sayori chirped before taking a big slurp out of her drink. As it turned out, the Literature club liked to eat together here in the quiet of their club room rather than going to the cafeteria. I could admit it was nice once in awhile, but maybe not something I’d do every day.

    “Even if Vicky is the only one of us who actually has a date tonight.”

    Victoria shrugged and took a bite out of her lunch. “There’s still time to ask a boy out yourself, Yuri. I know there was that one you were talking about the other day--”

    “Shush you. Not everyone can literally fly in to sweep their boyfriend off their feet.”

    I raised an eyebrow and sat down, unpacking my lunch. “Sounds like there’s a story there.”

    “Oh, just Vicky being Vicky. You see, Dean went and got her flowers. Made a big production of giving them to her during her first period, where everyone could see--”

    “Monica, we really don’t need to--”

    “--So Vicky ends up lifting him into the air and kissing the living daylights out of him.” Monica continued, rolling over Victoria’s squawks of protest. “In front of the whole class and everything. And then she told him how she was taking him on a date tonight, so he’d best be ready, and if he played his cards right--”

    “Stop! Have some mercy, Monica!”

    Monica pressed her fingertips together, forming a tent with her hands, and grinned at the crimson-faced superhero. “How much, exactly, is my mercy worth to you, Vicky?”

    Victoria sputtered for a moment before narrowing her eyes and setting herself to bargaining. “Two bars of chocolate?”

    “How about… any chocolate you receive today that isn’t from Dean?”

    Victoria scowled at the counter offer. I had the feeling that there was quite a bit of chocolate at stake. It made sense, at least. Even knowing that Victoria had a boyfriend, I’m sure that she had all sorts of admirers. She’d supposedly been pretty popular even before becoming a hero. Since then… well, she was famous and personable. With how beautiful she was, she seemed almost a sort of inverse of Emma, ruling Arcadia’s social circles in much the same way that Emma had Winslow.

    A sharp pang ran through me at the thought of Emma. I… still wasn’t sure what to do with her. I still couldn’t help the twisting feeling in my gut that somehow everything would turn out to be a lie, another betrayal to laugh at me over. Even worse was the fact that I wanted her back. Despite all the pain she’d put me through the last two years, a part of me was willing to forget it if I got my friend back. How pathetic was that?

    By comparison… I wonder how much happier I would be if it were Victoria taking me out shopping today? My eyes focused for a moment on the sweep of her neck, how her hair seemed to shimmer in the light. I wondered how it would feel walking down the Boardwalk holding her hand, how it would feel to press my lips --

    I grimaced and cut off that line of thought. I turned my attention inwards, examining my emotions, and with surgical precision, cut out the awe that had threaded itself through my mind. I liked Victoria -- she seemed like a nice girl. I didn’t like her in that way however. I didn’t naturally have that sort of infatuation with her.

    As usual, spending time with Victoria was a trial unto itself. Not because of her personality, but because of her power. For all that the PRT rated her as a Shaker, her emotion aura was insidious in a way that meant I had to constantly be on my guard, constantly wary of my emotions when I was around her. Otherwise, it led to slips like these. Thankfully, I’d gotten better at resisting it. It took me by surprise less often nowadays, and when it did get ahold of me, I had an easier time pushing it out. It no longer left me a shivering wreck, desperate for Victoria’s approval, the way it had the day I’d first met her.

    Monica stretched out her hand to accept Victoria’s deal -- a portion of her chocolate and a crepe the next time they went shopping on the Boardwalk together. “Well, I’m glad that’s all settled.”

    Sayori plunged a spoonful of pudding into her mouth before murmuring, “I don’t know why you bargained so hard with Monica anyways, Vicky.”

    “Cause it’s embarrassing. And I know she’ll go tell Amy exactly what I said if I didn’t and then Amy would spend her time making grossed out faces at me all night.”

    “No, I mean, I was there too, y’know? And you haven’t made any deal with me not to tell anyone.”

    I couldn’t help but to let out a laugh at Victoria’s sudden look of horror. It was… nice, I thought, to be able to sit here with other girls and listen to a bit of inane gossip that didn’t really hurt anyone. It had been a long time since I’d been able to do anything like this.

    It had been a long time since I’d had friends to do something like this with.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    Despite its status as a relatively upscale part of town, the Boardwalk was actually closer to Winslow than it was to Arcadia in terms of raw distance. As such, I wasn’t surprised to see Emma already waiting for me at the cafe we’d chosen as our meeting spot, a cup of coffee in her hands.

    I instinctively compared the two of us as I approached. Me, in my baggy hoodie, gangly and shapeless. Her, in a jacket and shirt that hugged her curves, along with a short skirt that showed off her legs despite the February cold. Even for this sort of casual outing, she’d dressed for appearance over practicality.

    I ignored the pit that had formed in my stomach at the sight of her and instead sat down across from her. I didn’t say anything, but she looked up and gave me a small smile.

    “Hey there.”

    I stared silently at Emma for a long moment, waiting until her smile began to dim before giving a short, “Hi.”

    “Ah… How was Arcadia, Taylor?”

    “Great. I spent lunch chatting with some friends from my club.” It went unsaid that doing something like that would have been impossible for me at Winslow.

    “I guess you’ll want an early dinner then?”

    “I still ate, Emma. It can wait. Are you ready to get going or did you still need to finish your coffee?”

    Emma stared morosely at her coffee, which she probably hadn’t finished yet, but didn’t want to carry around from store to store either, before giving me a nod. “Alright. I figured we could focus on getting you a weapon first. You probably need a way to defend yourself with… how dangerous things are lately, and I can’t really see you punching a mugger out.”

    We stood and walked out, Emma tossing her coffee in the trash as we went. “So did you have somewhere in mind? I can’t imagine them selling that sort of thing at the local Walmart.”

    “You’d be surprised,” she said dryly. I felt warmth against my palm, and forced myself not to jerk away as she threaded her fingers through mine, giving my hand a small squeeze. “But there’s a hunting and sporting goods store just off the Boardwalk that I figured we could check out.”

    “Okay,” I responded, before letting the two of us lapse back into uncomfortable silence.

    As it turned out, Emma was right about Dick’s Sporting Goods having a strangely large collection of weapons to buy. There were the sort that were more expected -- bows, hunting rifles, that sort of thing -- but there were also brass knuckles, tasers, and collapsible batons, which I wasn’t quite sure applied to any sort of “sport.” I guess being located in Brockton gave a lot of incentive to carry a larger selection.

    I’d ended up picking up a collapsible baton for myself. Emma had suggested a taser, but I’d seen the rather high price tags attached to those, and I didn’t feel comfortable letting her pay for it, even if she did offer. I did feel like the baton was rather lacking in reach, but it was easy to hide and would serve me well enough until I got a better handle on my abilities. I could always look into getting something longer -- a sword or staff of some sort, maybe? -- when I actually had some idea on how to use it.

    After that, we’d simply wandered the Boardwalk together, randomly perusing stores. Through it all, Emma’s hand kept finding mine, as though reassuring herself that I was still there and hadn’t run away from her. As night fell, however, Emma kept shooting me small glances, trying to gauge my mood.

    I ignored her. For awhile, at least. Until it got on my nerves enough that I finally turned to look at her and snapped, “What?”

    “I…” She trailed off, opened her mouth to say something else, then closed it again with her thought unsaid. Shaking her head, she simply said, “No, it’s nothing.”

    “Just say what you want to say, Emma.”

    She hesitated still, but finally asked, “I mentioned to my Mom that I might have a friend by for dinner. Do you think… you’d want to come over? I could give your Dad a call and let him know where you are.”

    A visceral part of me rebelled at the idea, a sudden panic at the thought of putting myself into a position where Emma had control. I cut that panic away, much as I had the awe that Victoria had forced on me earlier. It was irrational and I didn’t need it. For all that Emma had been a massive bitch the last two years… I’d never had any problems with her family. If anything, she’d likely be on her best behavior around them. And…

    Today had been uncomfortable, neither of us quite sure how to talk to one another. However, even if things weren’t quite repaired between us, even if they never would be, I’d like to think that the Emma I spent time with today bore more resemblance to my once friend than the girl she’d been at Winslow.

    I decided to extend a tiny bit more of my trust.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
    Zoe Barnes was exactly as welcoming as I thought she’d be. Which is to say, she’d smothered me in a hug and remarked on how good it was to see me coming by again. I had the feeling that she didn’t know why I’d stopped. Emma’s sister, Anne, was apparently away at college -- I hadn’t even known that she’d decided to go out of state -- and so I wouldn’t be seeing her tonight. Alan, on the other hand, was simply running late with work.

    In any case, Zoe had gone to start on dinner while the two of us tromped upstairs to Emma’s room. I’d helped unpack some of Emma’s clothes for her, but then she’d hit me with a surprise.

    “Come on, Taylor, give me a spin.”

    I rolled my eyes, but complied, turning slowly for Emma’s viewing pleasure. It turned out that some of the clothes that Emma had bought while we were shopping at the Boardwalk had been intended for me. Specifically, they were intended for my cape costume.

    A pair of tights, one of those thin, breathable shirts that joggers liked to wear, a shawl to wrap around my head and cover my face, a half-skirt to provide a splash of color, and a few other things besides. She’d even picked out a set of calf-length boots for me to wear. I was honestly kind of astonished at how well she’d guessed my sizes.

    The overall effect was… Well, I definitely still looked like I was wearing a homemade costume, rather than something professional, but it didn’t look as bad as it would have if I’d been designing it myself, I was sure. It’d definitely work as a good base that I could eventually evolve into a better costume when I had more resources, while still remaining recognizable as the same cape.

    “Well, how do I look?”

    “Fabulous, darling,” Emma drawled in a faux accent. “You’re going to knock them off their feet.”

    I choked back a laugh before focusing on my power, devoting enough concentration to push at Emma, throwing her back onto the bed behind her. She landed with a startled yelp and I grinned at her as I said, “That is the idea.”

    Emma propped herself up onto her elbows and pretended to glare at me before breaking down into giggles. I smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed next to Emma, turning my head so that she couldn’t see when it inevitably faded. I hadn’t been able to laugh with her since… Well, my first thought had been since two years ago, but the truth was that I hadn’t since Mom had died. It was like I’d gone back in time -- and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something terrible to happen to ruin it all.

    No, I couldn’t let myself focus on that. I took a deep breath and forced a smile back on my face. “I’ll still need an actual mask. There’s too much risk of something like this coming loose.”

    “Sure, we can pick something up later and spray paint it to match. This is just getting the rough idea of the costume, really.”

    I nodded slowly, but let my gaze wander around the room. Emma had discarded a lot of the pink that she’d favored when we were young, replacing it instead with shades of blue for the most part. I’d heard once that the color of a room would affect a person’s mood -- or perhaps their personality had to do with what color they chose for their room. I couldn’t really remember the details, or what blue specifically would mean. It was probably a purely aesthetic choice for her anyways.

    There were other changes too. The furniture had been updated. She had a new desk and a wider bed now. When we were young, she had liked to put art that I’d drawn for her up onto the walls. Now, those were gone, replaced with photos of her and her family. None of me, but I’d expected that. More interesting was that there weren’t any that included Sophia or Madison either.

    There was one anomaly. A drawing I’d made of Emma and Anne together for one of Emma’s birthdays. Why had she kept that one out but gotten rid of the rest? It wasn’t really anything special -- I could pick out the roughness in the lines and the uneven shading, how the contours failed to quite capture what the two actually looked like. I’d been eleven at the time, and while I’d enjoyed drawing, I had still just been a kid playing at it in my free time.

    I tilted my head, glancing at Emma out of the corner of my eye. She was staring at me, something pensive in her expression. I just couldn’t figure her out. What was her game?

    “My game?”

    I blinked, not having realized I’d spoken out loud until Emma replied. Carefully, I said, “Yeah. Why all of this? Why now? You were happy enough with us not being friends for the last two years. So why? Because I’m a cape now?”

    “No! Taylor, I just want to--” The doorbell rang downstairs, interrupting her thought. She bit down on her lip before continuing, “Mom can get the door. Listen, Taylor, I came to apologize to you before knowing anything about you having powers. Isn’t that… isn’t that proof that I wanted this?”

    I stared at her eyes, searching for any sign of deceit I could find. Was that attempt at an apology after I got out of the hospital proof? Circumstantial evidence, maybe. Not enough to clear her of suspicion in my mind. But if she was being sincere, what else could she say, what else could she offer that I would accept?

    Nothing. Or at least, nothing I could think of. If I wanted to try and repair things, then I could only… trust her for the time being. I took a deep breath. “Emma--”

    “Emma!” Zoe’s voice came from downstairs, overlapping with mine. “Your friend Sophia is here!”

    Ice ran down my back. Was this it then? Was this the trap? No, Emma looked as surprised as me. “Shit.” She swore and scrambled for the door, even as I moved to pull my shirt and hoodie on over my makeshift costume. No time to change out entirely, but I couldn’t risk Sophia seeing me in it.

    Emma slipped downstairs while I struggled with my clothes. I heard the murmur of voices coming from below, but they were too quiet to catch what they were saying. Yanking my pants up, I stepped out the door before I’d even finished buttoning, stopping on the stairs to listen.

    “--Told you, I had plans tonight, Sophia.”

    “Yeah, yeah, so you found some boy to buy stuff for you. You’re clearly home now, so whatever it was is over and we can hang out, right? I’ve got some news you’ll want to hear.”

    “I’m sure whatever it is can wait, Sophia. I’m busy tonight.”

    Sophia snorted and I leaned forward to watch her place her hands on her hips, leaning forward towards Emma as if to loom over the redhead. “Busy doing what, Ems? You always seem busy lately.”

    “I’ve just got stuff going on, okay?”

    “You’ve got stuff. Think you could give me the benefit of an actual excuse if you’re going to bullshit me, Ems? Just tell me what’s going on.”

    “I--”

    Whatever excuse Emma was about to give was cut off as a stair creaked under my weight. Sophia’s head snapped up to stare at me, her eyes going wide for a moment, before narrowing in sudden fury as she turned back to Emma. “What the fuck is she doing here?”

    Emma stared wide-eyed between the two of us. Her mouth opened, but no words came out. Sophia just took that as an excuse to keep going. “What the hell, Emma. You’re ditching me to hang out with Hebert?”

    “I’m not -- I’m not ditching you.”

    “Would it matter if she was?” I spoke up, staring coldly down at both of them. “It's not any of your business who Emma decides she wants to hang out with.”

    Sophia snarled as I flung her own words from two years ago back in her face. When Emma had first cut me off, I’d gone to Sophia, asked if she’d pushed Emma into doing it for some reason. It had been the only thing that made sense at the time: Emma had a new friend and she’d had a problem with me. Sophia had laughed, told me it wasn’t my business, and then gave me a black eye for my trouble.

    Being on the receiving end clearly irked her. I tensed and Emma shrunk back as Sophia clenched her fists and started up the stairs. It seemed she wanted to make it a repeat performance. Things didn’t have to go her way though.

    I licked at my suddenly dry lips as the realization came to me. It would be so easy. I could just wait until she got to the top of the stairs and then push her feet out from under her. A small nudge, and I could even make sure that she hit her head on the way down. I felt my gut tighten. In fear? In anticipation? Sophia was halfway to me and--

    “Emma, honey? Is everything alright?” Zoe Barnes stepped out of the kitchen, having apparently heard the commotion. Her eyes passed over all three of us and lingered on Sophia.

    “Yes, everything’s fine, Mom.” Emma smiled at Zoe, before shifting her attention over to the two of us on the stairs. “Sophia was just about to leave.”

    Sophia’s lips thinned. “I am, huh?” She turned to look at Emma, before letting her gaze drift over to where Zoe was standing. “Fine. I have better things to be doing with my time anyways.”

    She walked to the door and turned, giving all of us one last look. “I’ll be seeing you around, Hebert.”

    Yeah, I’m sure she would. I met her eyes unblinking until she finally turned away, shutting the door behind her. Emma’s mom let out a tense breath in response and muttered quietly to herself. “Really, I don’t know what Alan sees in her… Dinner should be ready in about ten minutes you two, okay?”

    We nodded, but even after Zoe went back to the kitchen and the two of us returned to Emma’s room, the atmosphere remained tense. Sophia had left her parting challenge and Emma knew as well as I did that she wouldn’t back down.

    “Taylor, about Sophia--”

    “It’s fine, Emma.”

    “No, you don’t understand. She’s dangerous.”

    “I’ll be fine. I can take care of myself.”

    Emma bit down on her lip but eventually nodded. Then her face was suddenly pressed up into my shoulder, her arms wrapping around me as she pulled me into a hug.

    I wanted to pull away. I wanted to hold her tight. Instead, I wrapped my arms loosely around her until Zoe finally called us down again.





    No vote quite yet.

    Encounter = 4; No Encounter

    Vicky at Club = 2; Even - Yes, Vicky is at the Club
    Vicky Aura = 15 (+5 Serenity); Taylor resists Vicky’s aura no problem

    Emma invite = 14; Taylor accepts the invite is made in good faith and goes.
    Stealth Check = 3; Taylor is spotted by Sophia.
    +2 Serenity from Training
    +2 +1 Serenity from Training (Serenity Maxxed, Overflow Valor)
    +1 Serenity from Lit Club with Vicky (Serenity Maxxed, Overflow Valor)

    (You probably should have chosen your training a bit better)
    Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

    So, I don’t have much to say on this chapter, but I did want to do some mechanics bookkeeping.

    First, I have decided to change how encounters work. It will now be a flat DC10 to find an encounter, with a follow up if one is encountered, instead of the previous scalable model we were using. We will now have a separate encounter table for Taylor’s civilian identity and her cape identity -- which means that once she starts going out and regularly patrolling we will actually have two encounter rolls per week instead.

    Second, I’ve adjusted where Healing Trance is on the skill tree. Instead of branching off Vital Transfer, it now branches off of Equilibrium, which means it is available earlier and should now be visible on the skill tree.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
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  20. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    Neat.

    Building back up our trust in Emma, ever so slightly. Just gotta make sure she doesn't have a backslide.

    Also, Sophia, would you like some peanut butter to go with your jelly?
     
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  21. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    As a bit of behind the scenes, Emma would have been significantly more likely to backslide if we'd returned to Winslow instead of transferring out. Same toxic environment around the same toxic people and all that.
     
  22. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    Hmm, good point. So, what I am hearing, is we take Emma, get some comfy blankets, a pillow and a few bowls of popcorn, and keep her in our dragons den of comfort until we make sure she doesn't backslide.
     
  23. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Okay, quick update! Upon review, I've decided to swap Valor and Cleanse Mind in after Serenity while changing Rebuke and Sever Force to be elsewhere on the tree. As such, thanks to the training overflow from last update, you now have 2 points in Valor.
     
  24. Extras: Taylor Costume
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    In other news, I have commissioned a thing. (Don't mind the rapier, the artist decided to add it in and I figured it worked well enough).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  25. TripleH98

    TripleH98 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Damn.
     
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  26. Alcov

    Alcov Making the rounds.

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    Well this is my first quest that I’ve read more than a bit. Don’t like the quests theme but I’ll stick around as I’m liking the story.

    will that outfit be her next getup? When she is a bit more set up?
     
  27. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    It's what she's working up towards, yes. Right now, she's in something a bit more home-made looking.
     
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  28. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Okay, small bit of bookkeeping. I've decided to move Life Sense's base requirement to be Awareness instead of Empathy, which means it is now available for training. It's follow up, Object Sense is now visible. Costs remain the same.
     
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  29. Threadmarks: Slave 1.3c
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Article:
    Welcome to the Parahumans Online Message Boards
    You are currently logged in, Littleowl BB
    You are viewing:
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    • OR private message conversations with new replies
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    ■​

    ♦Topic: Cape Fight Watch: Thread the Fifty-Third
    In: Boards ► Places ► America ► Brockton Bay
    Posted by: Combat Wombat

    Posted on August 17, 2010

    (Showing Page 354 of 357)

    ► Clockwork Ent
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    Saw something going down on Oak Hill. Looked like Stormtiger and someone new trashing some Merchant thugs. Big black robe with some red trimming.

    ► Loud_Tigger
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    That'd be Rune. New Empire cape, telekinetic of some sort. They've been showing her off recently.

    ► Red Like Roses
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    Great, more Nazis. Like we don't have enough of those in the Bay.

    ► XxVoid_CowboyxX (Temp-banned)
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    She looks pretty short. And the couple of video clips we've gotten of her make her sound pretty young. I'm betting she's a teenager, Wards age at minimum.

    ► Alathea (Moderator)
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    Please refrain from speculation on Cape Identities.

    ► XxVoid_CowboyxX (Temp-banned)
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    Really? Age is speculation on Cape Identities? Next you're going to say that I shouldn't talk about how Vista goes to Arcadia even though everyone knows that all of the Wards go there.

    ► Alathea (Moderator)
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    You were warned. Please enjoy your two day ban.

    ► SpecificProtagonist
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    Wow, Void...

    In other news, there was apparently a throw down of some sort over on Harrison. Looked like Armsmaster and Velocity were trying to chase down Squealer and Skidmark.

    ► Leonardo
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    What happened? Was anyone hurt?

    ► Jack of Grapes
    Replied on February 16, 2011:
    They got away. The Protectorate was incompentent as usual, what else is new?

    ► Shining Sparrow
    Replied on February 17, 2011:
    Squealer and Skidmark are a hard combo to chase down when they're on the run. Let's try to get the Heroes a break on this one.

    ► The_Bard
    Replied on February 17, 2011:
    How many breaks are we supposed to be giving them, Agent? This sort of thing happens all the time. Hell, even the Heroes catch them, the Villains are out of prison within a week. It's a joke.

    ► Final Paladin
    Replied on February 17, 2011:
    Uber & Leet did some sort of Bioshock themed robbery over on 7th. Fought the Wards for a bit and carried off Vista before setting her down in front of a toy store a couple blocks away.
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3 ... 352, 353, 354, 355, 356, 357



    I frowned at the computer screen. I’d decided to swing by the local library to use their computers to browse PHO. I’d been hoping to find more information about any Capes that were operating in the Bay, and I’d gotten some information, but not as much as I’d hoped for.

    Uber and Leet were relatively famous as Independent Villains went. They ran a web-show and themed a lot of their crimes around video games. A lot of people thought that they were relatively harmless. They were still villains however, and I didn’t like that they apparently felt confident enough to duke it out with the local Wards and even kidnap Vista. At the very least, it did sound like she hadn’t actually been hurt by the experience.

    More concerning was the news of a new Empire cape. I knew about most of the big name capes in the area -- it was hard not to be at least somewhat aware in a city as dangerous as Brockton Bay. I hadn’t heard about Rune though, and from the sounds of things, she would have been an unpleasant surprise to run into.

    Another telekinetic, only much stronger and with way more control than I had. It felt personally insulting, and that was before the whole Nazi thing was factored in.

    Putting Rune aside, there were also a few groups to take notice of. There were a band of mercenaries led by someone named Faultline. They supposedly didn’t take jobs inside the city, but there was no guarantee that something couldn’t change that. Another group, called the Undersiders, were apparently operating as thieves. They had Grue, a darkness generator, and Hellhound, a Master who grew giant dogs, as well as two others. Unfortunately, the other two had nothing to their wiki profile besides a blurry picture and their names: Regent and Tattletale.

    The weirdest one was that there was apparently a group of ex-military looking guys taking territory in the southern parts of the city, and no one knew if they even had cape support. That they’d lasted as long as they had with the Empire as a neighbor spoke to their effectiveness however. I guess when you’ve got a bunch of guys armed with laser guns, you didn’t need cape support.

    I’d also taken notes on a couple of small-time Villains that I hadn’t been aware of. Circus was apparently a thief with some sort of hammerspace and pyrokinesis. Trainwreck mostly kept to himself, but occasionally got into fights when other Capes or Merchants wandered into the Trainyard. There were supposedly a few others, but they tended not to last long in this city. Either they got absorbed by the gangs, moved elsewhere, or disappeared altogether.

    It wasn’t all that encouraging seeing how many Independents, both Hero and Villain alike, had been in the Bay over the course of the last two years that weren’t around anymore.

    I ran a hand through my hair and let out a yawn, glancing around the nearly empty library. I’d been here for a few hours at this point, and I could see the sunlight starting to dim through the windows. I should probably get going before too much longer.

    Packing my things away, I flashed the librarian at the front desk a smile before stepping out into the chill evening air. The temperature had been dropping back down recently and there was supposedly going to be some snowfall this weekend. Tugging my jacket tighter, I turned for home.

    It was nearly a block away that I first noticed the guy following me. He was a big guy, dark skin and wide shouldered. Young though, and he wasn’t very good at shadowing someone. I came to a stop and he stopped some two hundred feet behind me looking uneasy, his gaze darting around the street.

    I waited until he wasn’t looking at me before making a sudden break for it. I’d been running lately and I had surprise and distance on my side. If I could outpace him for a bit, I could lose him in the city. I hit a corner and caught a glimpse of him sprinting after me before darting around. I darted for an alleyway, where I could disappear before he regained line of sight and--

    --A fist slammed into my face and I went tumbling to the ground--

    --A fist shot forward and I barely twisted, taking it across my jaw instead of my temple. It was followed by a knee to my gut however, and I found myself falling to the ground, the wind knocked out of me. I scrambled to try and get back to my feet only for a foot to drive itself into my ribs, sending me rolling into the alley wall.

    “Stay down, Hebert. It’s where losers like you belong.”

    A boot settled itself on my chest and I let out a groan. My glasses had been knocked free of my face, but I squinted and Sophia Hess’s face slowly came into focus. The guy who had been following me jogged up to the alleyway a moment later, followed by a second guy who I hadn’t noticed, and Sophia turned her head to glare at the two of them. “Did you two fuckups really almost manage to lose this fucking pushover?”

    Tall and dark shrugged. “She bolted before we could grab her, Soph. We would have caught up.”

    Sophia snorted in response. “Yeah. Sure. Whatever, you brought the duct tape at least, right?”

    Other guy, still tall but more lanky, just brown enough to be ethnic, speaks up. “Yeah, I’ve got it? You sure about this though? This ain’t exactly a good neighborhood, and leaving someone tied up is…”

    “Just fucking do it, you pussy. I might reconsider helping get those Empire bitches off of your girlfriends if you keep whining like this.”

    Lanky shifts uncomfortably, but sets a backpack down and reaches in to pull out a roll of duct tape. I watch him for a moment, noting the characteristic sound of tape being pulled free, before redirecting my attention to Sophia. They’d need to move me to tie me up properly, and that’d be my chance to escape. I just had to be patient.

    It was, admittedly, somewhat difficult not to rage and lash out when staring up at Sophia’s smug face. I could always beat her using my powers… but that would just expose me as a Cape. I wouldn’t make the same mistake that I had with Emma a month ago. I wouldn’t let my anger control me. I took a deep breath and…

    … Cut away my fear and my rage, allowing myself to look at Sophia with naught but serenity and barely concealed contempt.

    Sophia apparently noticed the change and a full handed smack hit my face. I taste blood on my lip, but I don’t let my pain show. I wouldn’t give her that satisfaction. She scowls and leans in, a hand closing around my throat. “You’re a loser, Hebert. A nobody. Emma might be stupid enough to be feeling guilty for you right now, but she’ll wise up once she realizes just how weak you are.”

    Weak… So this girl values strength.

    I wasn’t sure where the thought came from. Of course she valued strength, Sophia was a two-bit thug at heart. But with it came a plan, the sort of thing I wouldn’t have thought of before. My lips curved up into a smirk -- it felt wrong, like it was meant for someone else’s mouth, but it was enough to get Sophia snarling again.

    “If I’m so weak, Sophia, why do you only ever come at me when you have at least two people to act as back up?”

    “I don’t need anyone to deal with you, Hebert.”

    “Sure, sure. That’s why you’re always hiding behind Blackwell at school. Face it, Sophia. You aren’t a predator.” Predator? Where had that come from? “You’re a coward; a scavenger looking for easy meals and running away whenever something actually strong comes along.”

    Her teeth bared like an animal’s as her fingers tightened down on my neck, cutting off my air. I didn’t look away. I stared her in the eye even as my vision started to swim. She was saying something, but I couldn’t understand what. One of the boys shouted, pulling her back, and suddenly I was gasping for sweet air again.

    “--Trying to kill her, Sophia? I ain’t going to jail because of you.”

    “Fuck off, Paul. She’s still alive isn’t she?”

    My wheezing laugh cut into their argument. I wasn’t sure why I was laughing. I was so lightheaded I could hardly seem to think. It didn’t seem to stop me from talking though, my mouth moving as though my brain’s input was no longer required. “It wouldn’t be the first time, would it? It’s probably why she even bothered to bring you, Paul. So she’d have a fall guy if she ‘accidentally’ dropped someone off a roof.”

    “What?” Sophia’s eyes widened in panic before narrowing again in rage. “What did Emma fucking tell you?”

    And there it was. Mistake. The two guys, who had already been uncomfortable, suddenly looked like they would rather be anywhere but here. Sophia took a step forward and Lanky glanced at me before interposing himself between her and me. “Hey, Soph, calm down, alright? She’s just mouthing off. Let’s just tie her to the post like we planned to and get out of here, alright?”

    Sophia’s fists clenched, but her gaze darted between the two men. No, not men. Boys. They were scared and nervous and didn’t want to become murderers for Sophia’s sake. She wouldn’t find any support there. Finally, she turned away in a huff. “Fine. Get her tied up then. I’m already tired of seeing her face."

    Lanky stared at her for a moment longer before finally kneeling down to help me to my feet. “Sorry about this.” He murmured quietly, darting glances at Sophia to make sure she didn’t hear.

    “It’s fine. It’s not your fault. I’m sure she had some sort of dirt on you.” It was still hard to talk, still hard to think, but I managed to sit back up. The boy half carried, half escorted me out of the alley onto the empty street. I bumped against him as we walked, stumbling before he sat me down next to the lampost. Once there, he began wrapping tape around the rest of my body.

    The tall guy, Paul, spoke up once Lanky was done. “Alright, we’re finished here. Come on, Sophia, let’s get going.”

    “Just a sec, I’ve got one last thing to tell her.”

    “Seriously Sophia? Let’s just get out of here.”

    “Go ahead and get going, I’ll catch up.” Sophia showed her teeth, but I don't think any of us mistook it for a smile. The two guys looked at each other, but hung around, apparently not trusting her to not do something crazy if they left. Sophia scowled at the lack of response before kneeling down next to me. She leaned in to whisper quietly enough that they wouldn’t hear.

    “Y’know, Hebert, this is pretty close to ABB territory. Wonder what they’ll do when they find a white girl all nice and strung up for them? I hear they like to kidnap girls, put them in brothels for all their thugs to use. Course, no one would actually want to have sex with you, so maybe they’ll just stick you and be done instead?” I shied back, putting on the small display of fear that Sophia was looking for, careful to keep the phone -- which I’d taken the chance to telekinetically pickpocket off of Lanky when I’d bumped into him -- behind me and out of sight. “I won’t tell them. This time. But this is your only warning, Hebert. Next time, I’ll leave you trussed up on their doorstep. And if I hear a word of this getting to the police? It’ll be your corpse they find instead. Got it?”

    “Got it.” I forced a tremor into my voice, letting it come out as a squeak. When had I gotten this good at acting? For all that Sophia could kill me right now, I felt nothing but contempt for the girl in front of me. Sophia seemed satisfied though, her lips curving up into a smirk as she pulled away.

    “Glad we could understand each other, Hebert.”

    She walked away and the two guys followed, exchanging glances. I waited until they were out of sight to float the stolen phone onto my lap. Unfortunately, that’s when I found out that my telekinesis apparently wasn’t capable of affecting touch screens. I flowered at the phone for a moment before levitating it up to my face and using my nose to punch in 9-1-1.

    Maybe Sophia’s threats would have been enough to keep me from calling the cops on her a few months ago. Now though… now they seemed so inconsequential. She’d gone over the line this time and she knew it. And if she tried to carry through on her threat?

    Well, she wasn’t the only dangerous one anymore.





    It is a School Week.

    You have 1 Training Action.

    [] Write-In

    You have 2 Major Actions.
    [] You’ve got a costume now. Go out on patrol?
    [] Study at the Library.
    [] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon.
    [] Visit the Lit Club.
    [] Emma mentioned your old drawing hobby. Even if you’re not in Art club, you could take some time to enjoy that?
    [] You don’t have a lot of cash, but you could spend some time at the Boardwalk people-watching.
    [] Scrambling over rooftops is probably going to be hard work. Maybe you should practice some acrobatics?
    [] Find somewhere private to experiment more with your powers.
    [] Write-In

    There are some rule changes in the author’s notes. Please see them for details.

    Library research - 11; moderate success

    Encounter: Sophia | Taylor notices stalkers (DC10) - 11 (+2 Awareness); yes | Taylor escapes (DC10) - 1; hard no | Taylor fistfights (DC10) - 8 (-5, no martial training vs someone trained); Fail | Sleight of Hand TK Theft (DC12) - 17; yes
    1 XP to [Equilibrium] from managing a great deal of pain.
    1 XP to [Empathy] from experience bleed through.
    Okay, big rule change. I’m splitting weeks up into weeks and weekends. You’ll have 1 training action and 2 major actions in each (So you’ll be gaining a major action overall). This should allow a bit more adjustment of what you want to do on the fly, and will give additional encounter rolls week-to-week. I felt like time was moving just a bit too fast with the previous system.

    As for the story itself, we’ll be getting the follow up with the Police and Danny next time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
  30. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Plan: Prepare

    Write in
    [X] Keep an eye on Emma for anything black mail worthy.

    [X] You’ve got a costume now. Go out on patrol?
    [X] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon
     
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