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Occular (Worm x SWTOR)

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

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  1. Arksurek

    Arksurek Making the rounds.

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    [X] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon.
    [X] Find somewhere private to experiment more with your powers.

    I'm not sure if we should be going on patrol before we've had a bit more combat training. Also, with Sophia coming after us I would like to try to learn Force Lightning if we could use it without killing her. Not really sure what to do with the write-in action.
     
  2. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    You'll want to train Energy Resistance if you're looking to pick up Force Lightning.
     
  3. WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests

    WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests Not too sore, are you?

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    [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
     
  4. AzaggThoth

    AzaggThoth I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    [X] Start up some endurance training.

    [X] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon.
    [X] Warn Emma about how Sophia is trying to escalate things.

    I've had a bit of trouble trying to figure out what to vote as some of the Major actions seem to be training actions on their own.
     
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  5. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] Start up some endurance training.

    [X] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon.
    [X] Warn Emma about how Sophia is trying to escalate things.
     
  6. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    They kind of are, tbh. Taylor doesn't have much in the way of a social life for me to work with at the moment, and I'm planning on having her go heroing soon, so offering the additional ways to get experience is sort of a last push for extra power before she starts fighting. That said, where a "Training" action is guaranteed XP, trying to train through a Major Action can have interesting things intersect it.
     
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  7. Disgruntled Dragon

    Disgruntled Dragon So many beginnings

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    Write-In
    [x] Your telekinesis isn't very strong but it is very precise and not Manton-limited. There's probably something you could do with that. Spend time figuring something out on that front.(You are Taylor Hebert after all, munchkining is your bread and butter)

    [x] Look into getting Martial Arts training. You’re going to be doing a lot of fighting soon.
    [x] Scrambling over rooftops is probably going to be hard work. Maybe you should practice some acrobatics?

    On a more personal note I am seriously impressed with the consistent quality in this quest and the genuine multi-faceted character that this Taylor is. Believable characters are often that hardest thing to write and this is nailing it on the same level as Avatar Taylor on SB but with a more homey, interpersonal feel. I generally feel that Emma is a character that needs to be developed before she is important in a story. Keeping her relevant but just with the personality of 'generic bully' can make her a rather flat straw-man. This Emma has none of those flaws and is genuinely enjoyable to read both as a technical ally and emotional obstacle to Taylor.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
  8. Iceflame55

    Iceflame55 Enjoying the Lewd Dungeon called 'The Gutter'.

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    Honestly, though it would send Taylor Villain in the PRT's eyes, I say Force Lightning. If Hess wants to tackle Taylor like she's an animal, she can get an up close reminder why REAL Predators respect their Prey.
     
  9. Threadmarks: Slave 1.4a
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Training:
    [X] Prescience

    Actions:
    [X] Look into getting some training in martial arts.
    [X] Scramble over some rooftops

    “...And then she said that she’d kill me if I said anything to the police.”

    The officer across from me felt… alarmed? at that. It was something I’d noticed in the aftermath of Sophia’s attack -- if I focused on the people around me, felt at them with my power, I could get a vague sense of what they were feeling. It wasn’t easy. Not only was it vague, but I felt like I was constantly having to interpret things, like I was reading a foreign language and adjusting it to fit my perceptions.

    “It was brave of you to call the police despite Miss Hess’ threats, Miss Hebert.”

    I pull my head up from my knees to look at the uniformed woman. After whatever adrenaline I’d had from the fight had died down, I’d wondered what the hell I’d been thinking to taunt Sophia like that. Once the police had arrived and cut me free, the fear had finally set in and I was left clutching my knees to my chest, my body shivering uncontrollably.

    “It wasn’t brave or anything. I just… I’m just tired of being a victim. She’s already almost killed me once. I don’t want to give her another chance.”

    “She’s tried to kill you before?”

    “Not on purpose I think. Back at the start of January, she filled my locker with -- with all sorts of crap and shoved me inside. I wound up in the hospital. The doctors said something about toxic shock.”

    The officer frowned and wrote something down in her notepad. “Did you bring this to the attention of the police at the time?”

    “Yeah, we made a report. I didn’t actually see her push me in, so even though I heard her voice, the cops said that there wasn’t enough evidence to actually do anything.”

    There was a spike of concern in the officer, but whatever the reason had been, she didn’t indicate it. “Did you recognize the two boys who were with her?”

    “No. She called one of them Paul though, and some of their conversation made it sound like they attended Winslow. Oh, and the phone I called you guys on I sort of took off the other guy when he was moving me to tie me up. So maybe you can get something off of that?”

    “Alright, we’ll be sure to take a look at that. Before I leave, I did want to ask if you had any thoughts as to why she might have assaulted you like this? Any insights on her motives?”

    “I… I don’t really know. She’s spent the last two years of my life doing her best to make me miserable. I’d thought she’d leave me alone once I got out of Winslow, but after the thing at Emma’s house--”

    “Emma?”

    “Oh, uh. Emma Barnes. She’s a…” Friend? Tormenter? “Someone I used to know. She and I used to be friends but drifted apart after she started hanging out with Sophia. She’s been trying to reconnect since the whole… locker thing.”

    “And what happened at her house?”

    “I was at Emma’s house and Sophia showed up. She wanted to talk to Emma, didn’t seem to want to take no for an answer when Emma said she was busy with something. Then Sophia saw me and got pissed, accused Emma of ditching her to hang out with me.”

    “When was this?”

    “Monday evening.”

    “Was there anyone else there besides the three of you?”

    “Sure, Emma’s Mom was there. I think Sophia probably would have geared up to attack me then if she hadn’t been there.”

    “Okay, we’ll be sure to speak to them as well. Now, we’ve already contacted your Father, so he’ll probably be here soon if you’re okay waiting?.”

    I nodded and the officer gave me a small smile before standing up to leave. True to her words, Dad rushed into the room within minutes, immediately sweeping me into his arms. For a brief moment, I felt like everything would be okay. Then I looked up at his face and saw just how tired he looked. Bags hung heavy under his eyes and small wrinkles had formed where there hadn’t been any a month ago. Between preparing for the upcoming trial and working overtime to help pay off my medical bills, Dad had been spreading himself thin.

    And I’d added to that stress. I’d stupidly let myself get ambushed by Sophia and added to his burden. Worse, I knew that I was going to twist that and use it to my benefit.

    I took a deep breath and mumbled into his shoulder. “Hey Dad.”

    “Hey Taylor.” His voice was cracked, strained by everything that was going on. “How are you?”

    “Fine. It’s just bruises. Nothing that won’t heal. Just…” I bit down on my lip. “I thought I was finally free. That I’d left them behind at Winslow. That I’d escaped.”

    I felt his fingers comb through my hair, a soothing motion in place of words that had failed him. “It’ll be okay, Taylor. The police will get whoever did this.”

    “Just like how everything was going to be okay after I left Winslow behind, right?” I felt my Dad wince and pulled away from him. “Sorry. That… Wasn’t really fair of me.”

    “No, you’re right. I just don’t know what to do anymore. How do I protect you when you can be attacked just walking home from the library?”

    I hunched my shoulders, made myself look smaller. Weaker. “Maybe you can’t, Dad.” I paused, deliberately allowing the idea to hang there before adding my suggestion. “Do you think any of the Dockworkers could teach me to throw a punch? Or know martial arts or something? Maybe it’s time I learned to protect myself instead.”

    “I… Yeah, I could talk to Kurt and maybe ask around a bit. I’ll pick up some pepper spray for you too. I want you to be safe, Taylor.”

    I nodded miserably. It had been a completely reasonable request. One that made sense given the circumstances. I still felt like shit. I’d purposely done my best to manipulate my Dad into getting me training that would help with my Cape activities. He almost certainly wouldn’t be happy knowing what use I’d put the knowledge towards.

    In the end though, what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him, and I needed to be better. I wouldn’t let myself get beaten down by bullies and thugs like Sophia ever again.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    “Oh God, Taylor, what happened?”

    I winced as Victoria ambushed me on my way to the bus. I’d worn a scarf to hide the bruising around my neck, but there wasn’t much I could do about my split lip or the swelling in my jaw. I’d been drawing looks all day, but I’d hoped to skip the Lit Club and avoid having to give any actual explanations.

    “Um. Nothing really. I just had a bit of an accident over the weekend.”

    “An accident,” she replied flatly. She frowned, her eyes lingering on my scarf, and ConcernWorry then her arm was hooked through mine. “C’mon, I’m taking you to see my sister.”

    “What? No, it’s just bruises, I don’t need healing or anything.”

    “What, do you like being injured?”

    “No, it’s just…” I brushed a hand through my hair, trying to sort my thoughts out. “I haven’t really met your sister yet, and I don’t really want it to be because I need healing, you know? I don’t want it to seem like I’m only interested in meeting her because of her power or something like that.”

    “You tend to overthink things, don’t you?”

    “What?”

    Victoria rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry about it, I guess. Fine, if you’re not going to let my sister heal you, then at the very least, you’re going to tell me how you actually got those bruises.”

    “I told you, it was an accident--”

    “Taylor, I punch people enough to know what it looks like. Now come on, you can trust me. Let me help.”

    I hesitated. I wanted to trust her. I wanted to believe that she was a genuinely good person. She’d been nothing but kind to me so far. But so had Emma, once upon a time, and I’d only known Victoria for a few weeks now, only occasionally seeing her in the Lit Club. I wanted to trust her however.

    I examined my feelings.

    Yes, her aura was there, encouraging me to like her, to believe in her, but even as I built a wall between it and myself, I still found myself wanting to trust her. I still found myself wanting to believe that a Hero would be better than deliberately obtuse teachers and ineffectual cops.

    I took a deep breath. “I.. Um, I was sort of bullied really badly back when I was at Winslow. I finally got a transfer out, but I sort of ran into one of the girls over the weekend, and I guess not being able to push me around every day just means that they’re willing to go a lot further when they do get the chance.”

    “That’s screwed up.” Victoria paused for a beat before grinning evilly. “Got any names you want me to go after?”

    “I didn’t become friends with you to take advantage of your powers either, Vicky.”

    “Sure, sure, but I’m a hero, Taylor. This is something I’d want to do even if I didn’t know you. So give me the deets and let me put the fear of Glory Girl into these girls for you.”

    “Isn’t it supposed to be God?”

    “God wishes he looked as good as I do.”

    “Humble too, I see.”

    “Yep, I’m the best at humility, ask anyone.”

    Victoria winked and a snort of laughter escaped me. “Fine, but just the one. Otherwise, you’d need to track down half of Winslow.”

    “I mean, I could, if you’d like…”

    “No, as long as they leave me alone, I’m happy to just move on.”

    “Alright, but I’m at least going to give whatever girl did this to you a hard time. So, name?”

    “Sophia Hess. She’s the school’s star track runner -- never got into trouble with the teachers no matter what she did.”

    “Got it. Glory Girl is on the case.” Victoria winked and a flush of pleasure went through me, which I quickly fought back, as her aura strengthened for a brief second. “In the meantime, I’ve decided that you, me, and Amy are all going to hang out this weekend.”

    I blinked. “What.”

    “We are having girl time.”

    “No, no, I mean how did that follow from what we were talking about?”

    “Well, you said you felt awkward asking for favors from Amy, since you hadn’t met her yet. So now I’m removing that excuse for you. Also, maybe we can find you something other than a hoodie to wear all the time.”

    I shrank back. “There’s nothing wrong with hoodies.”

    “Didn’t say there was, but variety is of the spice of life and all that. So. Saturday?”

    “I don’t get a choice in this, do I?”

    “Nope.”

    “Fine.” I did my best to sound put out, but I couldn’t help the smile that crossed my face. Was this what it was like having actual friends? Having something to look forward to, with none of the twisting feeling in my gut that came from being around Emma.

    No, that wasn’t true. There was still a part of me that expected this to be some sort of pity project on Victoria’s part, that she’d get tired of me in a few weeks. But it was a small thing, a vague premonition rather than the ironclad wariness that Emma inspired. I could handle that. I could take this risk.

    “Saturday then. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really need to get going if I’m going to catch the bus.”

    “Uh.”

    “What?”

    Victoria fidgeted and looked away. “The bus sort of… already left, Taylor.”

    I turned around and stared at the empty bus stop. Oh. So it had. I slowly took off my glasses and raised my palm to press over my eyes.

    “So…” I turn back at the sound of Victoria’s voice, taking in her sheepish smile. “How about the Glory Girl Express instead?”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    Being carried by Victoria as she flew over the city had been a strange experience, equal parts exhilarating and embarrassing.

    I’d looked up to Alexandria as a kid. Being able to fly like this, to survey the city and feel the wind in my hair, it was like that fantasy had come to life. On the other hand, I wasn’t exactly flying under my own power, and being cradled in Victoria’s arms felt weirdly intimate.

    It wasn’t really an experience that I was keen to repeat anytime soon.

    The rest of the week passed fairly normal. One of Dad’s friends from work, Kurt, volunteered to help show me how to throw a punch. It wasn’t anything fancy, mostly just teaching me how to put my body behind the blow to lend it more momentum than just my arm strength could provide. Well, that and the very clear instructions to never punch someone in the mouth, because that’s apparently a good way to get some awful infections.

    It was decent enough advice for just protecting myself, but I’d probably need to find something more in-depth if I wanted to be effective in taking down actual criminals. Judo, maybe. That was supposed to be all about using leverage and getting people into submission without hurting them too bad, right? Eh, I’d take a look online later.

    For now, I was pulling my costume on. It was mostly regular-ish clothes, so it didn’t feel too weird, but I definitely wasn’t used to the boots or the gloves. Well, that’s what tonight was for. I wasn’t going to patrol, exactly, but I wanted to get used to moving around in costume.

    I slipped the domino mask on before pulling the hood up to hide my hair and glanced in the mirror. I… looked like a cape. An actual hero. A small smile crossed my lips.

    Then, I was out the window, climbing my way onto the roof.

    It was harder than I’d like to admit. There weren’t a whole lot of handholds, and for all that I’d been working out, it’d mostly been my lower body that had been benefiting. Fortunately, things were easier once I was up there.

    Brockton Bay was surprisingly friendly to the roof-hopping crowd. Most buildings were either one or two stories at max unless you got Downtown, and they were pretty tightly packed together. Things might be different out in the suburbs, but here at least, the main thing I’d have to worry about is the occasional alleyway running between buildings, or a street dividing my route.

    Speaking of which, I was coming up to an alley now. I licked my lips before taking a running jump. I landed on the opposite roof with a victorious grin -- and then stumbled as my balance went awry. Between being unused to the boots and landing on a sloped roof, I went sliding down, just barely catching myself before I fell off.

    Well, that definitely could have gone better.

    Still, I was getting the hang of things. A few more jumps and then I hopped to a light post to slide down to street level. I wish my powers had come with some sort of Mover ability, but… Work with what you’ve got, I guess. Not that I had very much. I’d slowly been improving, but my powerset was definitely on the weaker end of the spectrum.

    Still… Work with what I’ve got. Even if my ability wasn’t much, it was still something. It’s fine if I wasn’t strong, it just meant I had to be clever instead. And I was getting restless, tired of sitting around. The gangs were filled with thugs like Sophia, people who preyed on the weak and helpless. I wanted to put a stop to that.

    I needed to put a stop to that.

    This weekend, I decided. I’d go out on my first patrol this weekend.





    It is a weekend.

    You have 1 Training Action

    [] Write-In

    You have 1 Major Action. Your 2nd action is spent Hanging Out with Vicky and Amy.
    [] Spend extra time patrolling
    (Additional Encounter Roll)
    [] Study at the Library
    [] Research martial arts forms and throws online.
    [] You’ve got some biology homework to work on.
    [] Something Else? (Write-In)​
    [] Hang out with Emma
    [] Doing What? (Write-In)​
    [] Search for gainful employment
    [] Write-In

    Taylor’s going out on her first patrol soon. Where does she go?
    [] Trainyard
    [] North Docks
    [] South Docks
    [] Commercial District
    [] Downtown
    [] Southern Coast

    It’s a somewhat common, if technically illegal practice for Independent Heroes to take money from criminals they take down. Should Taylor take any money she finds?
    [] Yes
    Get money, get paid. (PRT won’t be happy if they find out, and is bad for your potential rep).
    [] No
    You’re a hero, keep your moral integrity.


    Civ Encounter = 17; yes | 12; Vicky || Cape Encounter = 1; No

    Vicki sees bruises (DC12) - 13; yes | Taylor accepts healing - 3; no, too self-conscious | Resist Aura = 11 (+5 Serenity); yes | Trust? = 18; yes | Weekend with Vicky and Amy? - 17; yes

    Martial Arts - 19; great
    Acrobatics - 15; great
    2 XP to Prescience from Training
    2 XP to Martial Arts
    2 XP to Equilibrium

    Wow, you guys got lucky with that Vicky encounter. Not just running into her, but passing the multiple rolls that would have stopped her from asking questions. Too bad Shadow Stalker hasn’t unmasked to her at any point, or this really would have blown up fast.

    In other news, someone brought up how a lot of the Major Actions are geared towards helping train Taylor at the moment. And… well, it’s true. She doesn’t haven’t a whole lot going on socially at the moment. That said, there’s going to be less and less you can train through Major Actions as the low level stuff gets learned. You won’t be using Major Actions to practice Force Lightning. So start thinking about other ways for Taylor to spend her time.

    About the chapter itself: Vicky means well, but Taylor isn’t exactly wrong in thinking that this is a pity project on her part. She saw an acquaintance she was on decent terms with was hurt, so she swept in to play the hero.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
  10. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    [X] Spend extra time patrolling
    [X] North Docks
    [X] No
    You’re a hero, keep your moral integrity.
     
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  11. AzaggThoth

    AzaggThoth I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Holy crap is it hard to think up 'training' so screw it.

    [X] Find a way to train that precog part of your power.

    [X] Hang out with Emma
    -[X] You want to know how she fell in with Sophia. Emma wants us to trust her now? Get her to spill.

    [X] North Docks
    [X] No
     
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  12. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    It's fine to just say "Prescience" for the Training vote. It's more or less meant to be a gimme to slowly build experience outside of major events and what not. You might need to be creative in coming up with something if you wanted to use a Major Action to help train yourself up though, especially as we move past the easy stuff like Martial Arts and what not.
     
  13. globalwarmth

    globalwarmth ruining the weather.

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    [X] Find a way to train that precog part of your power.
    -[x] dice? Have Emma throw stuff at you blindfolded?
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Slave 1.4b
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Training:
    [x] Prescience

    Action:
    [x] Study at the Library
    -[x] Biology

    Cash:
    [x] Do not take cash

    Patrol:
    [x] South Docks

    I shuffled my feet, trying to ward off the lingering cold and ignore the impending sense of doom that had been hovering over me since I’d woken up this morning.

    I could do this. It was just shopping with a friend. An actual friend, not… whatever weirdness was going on with Emma. I could do this.

    ...On the other hand, I hadn’t seen Victoria yet. I could go home and call her, give her some sort of plausible sounding excuse and escape all of this. I’m sure I could come up with something, like, maybe I was sick. Or my cat died. What cat, you ask? I meant the neighbor’s cat. Obviously.

    Yeah, that could work. Sorry, I couldn’t meet up, I accidentally killed my neighbor’s cat. Wait. Fuck. I groaned and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. Yeah, if I was already babbling like this in my own head, then it was probably better to just abort this whole thing. I turned away to walk home and --

    “Hey, there she is!”

    I heard Victoria’s voice over the crowd, cutting off my line of retreat. I sighed and forced a smile onto my face, trapped into the possibility of having fun socializing. Victoria was making her way towards me, pulling another girl behind her. I hesitantly raised a hand to wave at her and she beamed in response.

    Not that I didn’t already, but now I really felt like shit for trying to escape.

    “Hey Taylor! Sorry it took me so long to find you, the Boardwalk’s busy today, huh? Oh, this is Amy, by the way.”

    I let the words wash over me, taking a moment to compare the two sisters. If I was being honest, I wouldn’t have guessed that they were sisters if Victoria hadn’t told me. Where Victoria was… not bubbly, exactly, but cheerful and bright, blonde and full-figured -- the stereotypical cheerleader -- Amy was her opposite; small and mousy, dark brown hair and a sour expression that said she didn’t want to be here.

    “Um. Hi.” Wow, I sounded stupid. Say something else. “It’s good to finally meet you, Amy. Vicky’s said a lot about you.”

    Amy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I’m sure she has. Can we go ahead and get started? I’ve still got some errands to run before my shift at the hospital tonight.”

    “Oh.” That was… abrupt. “Sure, that’s fine.”

    Victoria glanced at Amy and frowned slightly, but brightened up immediately after. “Right, so I was thinking, maybe some clothes shopping first? We could get Taylor here to try on a few outfits.”

    I felt a flash of something from Amy, a twisted knot of emotions that I had trouble parsing before it vanished. Whatever it was, she didn’t give any outward sign of it, simply shrugging and glancing away. “Sounds good, I guess.”

    “Great, I know just the place.” Victoria grinned and grabbed my hand, pulling me along in her wake the same way that she’d been pulling Amy.

    “Wait, I don’t get a say in this?”

    “Nope, you’re my dress-up doll for the day, Taylor. You’ll just have to resign yourself to your fate.”

    “I make a pretty poor doll, all things considered.”

    “Eh, you’ll do just fine.” Victoria flashed a smile my way and ushered us into her store of choice. “Okay, the two of you go wait by the changing rooms and I’m going to pick out some stuff.”

    And so Amy and I were left standing there in awkward silence as Hurricane Victoria swept off to its next destination.

    “So…” I glanced over at Amy. “Is she always this… enthusiastic?”

    “Nope.” Amy pulled out her phone and started flipping through some webpage, apparently doing her best to avoid interacting with me. “I mean, she’s always pretty forceful, but she seems to be putting extra effort into whatever this is.”

    The question of ‘Why’ came to my tongue, but didn’t pass my lips. I knew why. It was because she’d seen some poor girl who’d transferred in, had some sort of freak out, and then showed up a few weeks later covered in bruises.

    I took a deep breath. I… should I feel grateful to be someone’s pity project? It was more attention than the teachers or students at Winslow had ever given. All the time I was there, I’d wished for someone to help me, and now that I’d escaped, here was Victoria, a hero, finally riding in to protect me.

    But I didn’t want to be protected. I didn’t want to be pitied. Not any more. I wanted to stand on my own feet. To stand as an equal rather than someone to look down on.

    I bit down on my lip. It wouldn’t help to dwell on it. If I wanted to move past my old weakness, then I had to live it. Tonight would be my first patrol as a Hero. It’d be a start in that direction.

    Victoria came back, carrying a pile of clothes in her arms. She wasn’t walking, I noticed, her toes trailing just above the ground as she floated her way towards us.

    “Alright,” she started, setting the pile onto a chair. “Taylor, you start with this, this, and this--” I blinked as a pile of clothes was shoved into my arms. “And Amy, you’ll be changing into this.”

    Amy looked up from the dress that had been shoved at her. “I thought we were just dressing up Taylor.”

    “Well, that was the plan, but why stop there when I’ve got you here at my mercy, Ames?”

    Amy flushed red and then pushed the dress back towards Victoria. “No. No, no, no. You’re not pulling me into this Vicky--” She faltered as Vicky stepped in closer. “I mean, we do this sort of thing all the time, you should focus on Taylor.”

    “No, we don’t. You’ve been staying holed up either at the hospital or in your room for awhile now. So you’re included in today’s plans, Ames.” Victoria placed her hands on Amy’s shoulders, turned her about, and began frog-marching her towards a dressing room. Halfway there, she tilted her head back to look at me. “See you in a few minutes, Taytay, I’m looking forward to how that’ll look on you.”

    I stayed silent for a long moment after the door closed behind the two of them.

    “...Taytay?”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    Victoria’s unfortunate penchant towards bad nicknames aside, I actually found myself enjoying the afternoon.

    I’d thankfully managed to stick mostly to outfits that included pants, even if most of Victoria’s selection tended to be a lot tighter on me than I’d prefer. I didn’t really have the figure to pull them off, so my legs largely wound up looking like long sticks. It was still better than the one time she tried to sneak a mini-skirt into my pile. I’d refused to cooperate with that particular suggestion and Victoria had stayed away from pushing me towards skirts after that.

    Amy and Victoria herself put on much better showings. Victoria obviously had the figure to back up whatever she chose to wear, but even Amy looked a lot better than I expected once Victoria had forced her into some brighter colors. Something about making her less gloomy, I guess.

    We hadn’t actually ended up purchasing anything. Victoria was in this whole thing for fun, Amy seemed pretty uninterested, and I… Well, I didn’t really have much in the way of money left. I had an allowance, but it wasn’t much, and my savings were pretty thin at the best of times. With all the hospital and trial stuff going on, and my having just spent most of my savings shopping with Emma, I wasn’t going to be buying much of anything anytime soon.

    After that, we’d meandered over to a cafe. The same one I’d met Emma at last week, ironically enough. I tried not to think about the parallels.

    “So,” Victoria led in before sipping at the smoothie she’d ordered. “About the Sophia thing.”

    I glanced over at Amy, who looked completely unconcerned with the topic. “You told Amy?”

    “Only the basics, so she’d know where I was going and stuff. But I haven’t been able to find her.”

    “Uh. I wouldn’t think it’d be that hard?”

    Victoria shrugged. “You’d think. I tried looking up Hess’s in the phone book, but the one family I found was pretty uh… combative when I knocked on the door. And just asking every black girl I see at Winslow if her name is Sophia didn’t seem like a smart thing. So uh. I was wondering if you had a photo maybe. Or I could try asking Dean if he has any ideas, if that’s okay with you? I mean, it’d mean telling him about all this, but he’s usually pretty smart.”

    Amy let out a snort at Victoria’s final comment and I could practically taste the derision coming off of her. Okay, wasn’t going to get into that can of worms. “Don’t think I have a photo or anything. And…” Was I comfortable with someone else knowing about what I was going through? I wasn’t really. I was tired of being a victim, of everyone seeing me as a victim. And how much could Dean really do anyway? “Let me think about it, okay Vicky?”

    “Sure, and I’ll keep an eye out either way, just let me know what you decide on.”

    I nodded and we fell into a silence, broken only by the slurping sound of Amy’s straw as she drained the last of her drink. I glanced over at her and hesitated a brief second before speaking up. “Thanks for coming today, Amy. I know you didn’t really have to, and uh…”

    “It’s fine. I mean, Vicky kind of wouldn’t take no for an answer, but you were more tolerable than most of her fans.”

    “Amy!”

    Amy rolled her eyes at Victoria’s scandalized voice. “You can’t tell me that half your ‘friends’ don’t qualify, Vicky. You’ve got a literal Glory Girl fanclub at school.”

    “Er… That sounds like it would be awkward?”

    “You have no idea,” Amy said, ignoring how her sister’s face was doing an impression of a tomato. “Usually they spend their time ignoring me to fawn over Vicky, which is fine, I guess. The really annoying ones are the ones who think they can score points with Vicky by being nice to her sister.”

    “I told you it wasn’t like that, Amy. Jess was just trying to be friendly--”

    “No, she was being patronizing. There’s a difference.”

    “Not to interrupt,” I said, interrupting the two of them, “But shouldn’t you have your own fanclub, Amy? I mean, you are Panacea.”

    Victoria let out a laugh and I was rewarded for my question by getting to see Amy blush. I had to admit, after how moody she’d been all morning, the contrast was kind of cute to see.

    Her previous sour expression quickly reasserted itself however, as Victoria elbowed her and said, “She totally does, she just refuses to grace them with her presence.”

    “They’re just a bunch of sycophants,” Amy mumbled. “ I don’t want to hang out with someone just because they think I’ll heal their family if someone gets sick.”

    Victoria’s grin widened and she slung an arm around Amy’s shoulders, hugging the girl into her side as she sing-songed, “Well you’re in luck, Amy~”

    Why would Victoria be… No, she wouldn’t...

    “You see, Taytay here--”

    “No, don’t you dare, Vicky!”

    “Taytay here--”

    “Shush!”

    Victoria broke down cackling and Amy was left shooting bemused glances between the two of us. “I think that might be the first time I’ve heard you speak above a mumble all morning.”

    The words weren’t hurtful, but they still managed to throw cold water onto the moment, and I found myself shrinking into my hoodie. I forced myself to stop, to put a smile back onto my face. I wouldn’t fall back to old habits from Winslow. “Yeah… I guess it’s been awhile since I’ve done anything like this.”

    “We’ll just have to do it again then,” Vicky said. “I’ll send you a text next time we plan something. Speaking of which, I still haven’t gotten your number, Taylor.”

    Victoria’s aura flared -- something she had a tendency to do when she was asking for something, I’d noticed. She probably wasn’t even aware she was doing it. Still, I instinctively pushed it back. Not just from myself, but containing it around her. It’s something I was slowly getting better at doing the more time I spent around Victoria.

    I saw Amy look confused for a brief second as the aura started to hit her and then was pushed away. Huh, I guess not even her sister was completely immune. I should probably answer her question though before I get distracted with that bit of info.

    “I uh, don’t actually have a cell phone.”

    “Seriously? I thought everyone had one these days.”

    I shrugged uncomfortably. “My Dad doesn’t really like them.” Besides, even if I did have one, the Trio would have undoubtedly broken it at some point.

    “Huh.” Victoria paused before grinning evilly. “Well, I guess that just means you’ll have to hang with us at school more often then. That, or I’ll have to hunt you down to give you news, but I’ll find some way to embarrass you if you make me go through that sort of trouble.”

    A shiver went down my spine. Yeah, let’s avoid that particular scenario. I fervently nodded my agreement.

    “Great, glad that’s settled. I need to get Amy here to the hospital, so I’ll see you Monday, alright?”

    I made an agreeing sound and Amy gave a murmured, “See you later,” as Victoria pulled her sister into her arms, holding Amy up much as she had me when she’d flown me home the other day.

    Then, Victoria was in the air. She turned and waved at me, giving a final, “Until next time, Taytay!” before flying off.

    ...Seriously, why Taytay?

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    I loped along rooftops, looking out over the dark city. I was still getting used to my costume, but this whole thing felt better than I expected it would. I’d never been especially into physical activity, but it still somehow felt like I was made for the cape life.

    At least, it felt that way right up until I came to a roof that was higher than the one I was currently on. I took a running jump, desperately grabbing whatever handholds I could manage and hauling myself up to the next platform, grumbling out a series of curses as I did. Honestly, why couldn’t city planners be kind enough to make everything nice and flat for heroes to use?

    I rolled over onto my back once I got to the top and groaned softly. I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle. My tricep? I frowned, idly trying to recall the biology homework that I’d spent the afternoon working on, even as I rubbed at my arm. It’d probably be worth going over it again later.

    For now however, I pushed myself back to my feet and continued on my way. Tonight was my first patrol. I couldn’t just lie around.

    Unfortunately, the criminals of the city apparently didn’t agree with me. I’d seen a couple of guys wearing gang colors, but they’d just been hanging around and didn’t look like they were actually doing anything. I hadn’t seen anything that looked like a crime in progress. No robberies, muggings, or even gang shootouts.

    I sighed as I came to an intersection and settled on the edge of a roof. With how violent Brockton was, I’d kind of expected to be stopping something more or less every night I went out, but I guess even criminals liked to enjoy their Saturdays.

    I idly watched the cars go by, at least until I heard a thumping coming from down the road. I turned my head to spot the source, as it slowly resolved into a convertible with its hood down, music blaring loudly enough to shake the surroundings. Did that count as a crime? The quality of the music and the colorful language it included should probably count as a public disturbance at least, right?

    I rolled my eyes. Yeah, that’s me. The hero who goes around stopping people who play their music too loud. I turned my attention back to the intersection.

    The light turned yellow.

    I suddenly had a bad feeling, a sinking pit in my stomach.

    I looked back at the convertible. It wasn’t slowing down.

    The light turned red.

    A car began to pull into the intersection. The convertible didn’t stop.

    I jumped. I grabbed a light post and slid down. The scream of tearing steel and shattered glass hit me before I touched the ground. I couldn’t look. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t face this. Taylor Hebert couldn’t face this.

    I couldn’t let myself be Taylor Hebert.

    Seeker forced herself forward. The convertible was still in the middle of the intersection, it’s front caved in, but the car had spun around and hit a nearby building. My eyes still burned, I still couldn’t breathe, but I forced myself to move forward to check on the passenger of the car.

    Inside was a woman, her face a bloody mask. The door had broken, something sharp running into her side. For a moment, I saw dark hair and glasses and then I blinked the tears away. She had brown hair and no glasses. There was a carseat in the back, thankfully empty.

    I took a deep, shuddering breath. I could do this.

    I circled to the passenger side door and pulled it open. The woman’s cell phone had fallen under the seat, and I quickly fished it out and dialed emergency services, ignoring the trembling in my hands.

    "Nine-one-one operator. What is your emergency?"

    I froze, struggled to get the words out. No, I could do this. Focus. “There was a car accident at the corner of Brighton and Edgeworth. The victims look pretty bad off and will need an ambulance.”

    “Alright, ma’am, help is on the way. Please stay on the line until it arrives.”

    I licked at my lips and nodded -- Stupid. She can’t see me. “Yeah, okay. I can do that.”

    “Could you answer some questions for me while you wait?”

    I reached and took the woman’s hand in mine. It felt like holding ice. Fuck, I finally had power and it still didn’t matter. I couldn’t save someone who was hurt right in front of me. I squeezed my eyes shut. “Sure.”

    “What’s your name, ma’am?”

    “T--Seeker. It’s Seeker.”

    There was a pause before the operator spoke again. “Are you a parahuman, Seeker?”

    “Yes.”

    “Okay, Seeker. Please do not attempt to move the victims, as it may exacerbate their injuries.”

    Yeah, that seemed pretty obvious looking at the state she was in. But there had to be something I could do. I couldn’t just let her die, not when I was right here next to her.

    “-understand, Seeker?”

    “Sorry,” I muttered. “I’ll keep the line open, but I need to set the phone down.” I ignored the operator's protest and closed my eyes. There had to be something I could do. I opened myself up. I listened to the universe sing, an orchestra played across uncountable strings. I listened until I found a single string, faintly trembling, until I found a weak heartbeat counting a time against creation.

    A thought came to mind. Energy was Energy. If I could affect Kinetic energy, then I could affect other types of energy as well. Even that of a person’s life. I could redirect the energy around me into healing this woman.

    No, that wouldn’t work. Not because it was impossible, but because I didn’t have the understanding to make it safe. I didn’t know how to change the energy. I didn’t know how to make it flow through a person’s body. I didn’t know how to keep it from exceeding her capacity. Too much was as sure to be deadly as too little.

    But I had a safer source to draw on. I could share my own life with the woman. I wouldn’t need to worry about making it safe for her that way. My own life force was so insignificant against the limitless ocean around me.

    I pulled a thread from myself and connected it to her.







    A hand gently shook my shoulder. “Hey, are you okay?”

    I blinked, staring up at a blurry face above me. I blinked again and the world slowly came into focus. He was dressed in a paramedic uniform. “Yeah, I’m fine. I made the call in, I was just trying to keep the victim stable.”

    “Alright, well, we’ll need you to move so that we can get to the driver.”

    I nodded and wobbled my way out of the car, the world spinning around me with every step. I found a lamp post to lean against and watched as the paramedics worked to get the woman free from the car, and--



    The woman was on a gurney being loaded into the ambulance. A paramedic stopped in front of me. The one from earlier? “Hey, you should come with us and get checked out, you really don’t look too good.”

    I shook my head. This would pass, I just needed to rest for a bit. My eyes shut.







    I was in my room. When had I gotten here? I closed the open window behind me and stumbled towards my closet. I yanked at my costume, pulling off piece after piece and just leaving it in a pile before collapsing in my bed.

    I slept like the dead.





    This weekend, the Simurgh descends upon Canberra. To what degree does New Wave participate in Endbringer battles?
    [] [New Wave]Active Fighting
    [] [New Wave]Clean Up
    Do not fight, but assist with the clean up afterwards.
    [] [New Wave]Do not assist.

    (Note: This is just the adults of New Wave. The children of New Wave will not be fighting regardless of vote. This also sets their policy with other Endbringer battles, both in the past and in the future).

    Does Taylor talk to Dean about Sophia?
    [] [Dean]Yes
    [] [Dean]No

    It is the week.

    Where does Taylor patrol this week?

    [] Trainyard
    [] North Docks
    [] South Docks
    [] Commercial District
    [] Downtown
    [] Southern Coast

    You have 1 Training Action.
    [] (Write-In)

    You have 2 Major Actions.
    [] Spend extra time patrolling
    (Additional Encounter Roll)
    [] Hang out with Vicky.
    -[] Doing What? (Write-In)
    [] Hang out with Amy.
    -[] Doing What? (Write-In)
    [] Hang out with Emma.
    -[] Doing what? (Write-In)
    [] Go to the Lit Club
    [] Search for gainful employment
    [] Write-In



    Civ Encounter = 15; yes | 18 = Vicky - already scheduled, no encounter
    Cape Encounter = 18; yes | 16; Other | 9 = Noncombat | 2 = Car Crash

    Taylor reads Amy's emotions = 2 (-5 barely trained); No | Vicky found Sophia (DC16) = 11; No | Aura Resist? = 19 (+1 Valor); Yes

    Heal? = 8; Barely stabilized

    2 XP to [Prescience] from Training
    1 XP to [Empathy] from Social Empathy attempts
    2 XP to [Valor] from Aura Resistance
    2 XP to [Equilibrium] from Biology Homework
    1 XP to [Vital Transfer] from Emergency Healing
    (Note, Vital Transfer is still unavailable to train normally, as Equilibrium is not yet complete).

    The world kind of has it out for Taylor and her traumas, huh?

    I tried to keep Amy a bit on the bitchy and unpleasant side, so I hope that came through. I feel like I might have had her overexplain some of the reasons why she doesn’t like hanging with Vicky’s friends though.

    No big announcements this time.
     
  15. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    [X] [New Wave]Clean Up
    Do not fight, but assist with the clean up afterwards.

    [X] [Dean]Yes

    [X] Commercial District

    [X] Hang out with Vicky.
    -[] Going to a bookstore. We will find a nickname to tease her about, as revenge for TayTay

    [X] Hang out with Amy.
    -[] Bring her along. We will try to make her less bitchy, and we can give her a nickname too.
     
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  16. WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests

    WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests Not too sore, are you?

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    [x][New Wave]Clean Up
    [x][Dean]Yes
    [x] Trainyard
    [x] Push
    [x]Go to the Lit Club
    [x]Spend extra time patrolling
     
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  17. NickolasNockolas

    NickolasNockolas Know what you're doing yet?

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    [x][New Wave]Clean Up
    [x][Dean]Yes
    [x] Trainyard
    [x] Push
    [x]Go to the Lit Club
    [x]Spend extra time patrolling
     
  18. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] [New Wave]Clean Up
    Do not fight, but assist with the clean up afterwards.

    [X] [Dean]Yes

    [X] Commercial District

    [X] Hang out with Vicky.
    -[X] Going to a bookstore. We will find a nickname to tease her about, as revenge for TayTay

    [X] Hang out with Amy.
    -[X] Bring her along. We will try to make her less bitchy, and we can give her a nickname too.
     
  19. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Okay, so I've been working on the next chapter, but it's been something of a busy week. So it might be slightly delayed compared to usual. We'll see.

    In the meantime, Hang with Amy won one of the Major Actions, but I've noticed a lot of people sub-voting to tell Amy about our Cape status. So I'm making it an official vote.

    Out yourself to Panacea
    [] [Amy]Yes
    [] [Amy]No
     
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  20. WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests

    WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests Not too sore, are you?

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  21. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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  22. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] [Amy]Yes
     
  23. Threadmarks: Slave 1.5a
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    New Wave:
    [x] Clean Up

    Dean
    [x] Yes

    Out yourself to Amy?
    [x] No

    Patrol
    [x] South Docks

    Training
    [x] Quick Reflexes

    Major Actions
    [x] Lit Club
    [x] Hang with Amy

    I woke to a pounding headache.

    I stared up at the ceiling for a long moment before stumbling out of bed. Dreams of a desert swirled through my head. Not the vast dunes of sand that I’d instinctively associate with the word, but instead the brown dust of a land that had withered simply for lack of water. I managed to get to the bathroom and held onto the sink, forcing back the urge to vomit.

    Something was wrong.

    I’d been sick too often lately. Ever since the locker. I frowned. Should I go back to the hospital? We were already swamped in bills from my last visit. And there was no guarantee that it was even something physical. What if it was my powers? Some sort of backlash from using them too hard?

    No, something felt off about that. I looked up at my reflection in the mirror. I was pale and drawn, dark circles under my eyes. I looked like I hadn’t slept in a week. There was something different about this. I’d done… something specific last night to leave me in this state. What had I been doing?

    I took a deep breath and -- The scream of tearing metal, the car crushed against a building, blood bright and vivid on my hands -- barely lurching to the side to let my bile fill the toilet.

    Fuck.

    Damn it.

    I scrubbed the tears from my eyes and banished the memory before letting myself lean back against the wall. It’d been three years since Mom died. I was supposed to be stronger than this. I wasn’t supposed to fall apart like this.

    Had I even saved that woman? Maybe. I had no way of knowing. It was possible I’d just delayed her death a little bit longer. But it was possible that I’d bought her the time she’d needed.

    A knock interrupted my thoughts. “Taylor? You okay in there?”

    “Yeah. Sorry, Dad. Think I must have caught some sort of stomach bug.”

    “Need me to call the school and let them know?”

    “No. I’ll be okay. I think I got most of it out of me.”

    “You sure? I don’t think they’d mind if you needed the day off.”

    “It’s fine. I’ll be fine, Dad.”

    Maybe if I kept repeating that, I’d even believe it.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    “Christ, Taylor, you look like death warmed over.”

    I cast my baleful gaze upon Sayori, who cheerfully ignored it. “I’m fine.”

    “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that isn’t true.” She poked at my cheek, but I closed my eyes and did my best to ignore it without moving my head off of my desk. It’d take too much energy to respond further. How did that poem go…? ‘In Spring one sleeps a sleep that knows no dawn’? That’s how I felt about now. I’d managed to make it through the morning, but I’d been pretty out of it the entire time.

    “Leave her be, Sayori. She probably needs the sleep.”

    “Mou.” I opened a single eye to stare at Sayori, even as I tried to decipher whatever weird sound it was that she’d just made. “It’s too bad Vicky and Amy aren’t here today, or we could drag Taylor over to them.”

    I picked my head up slightly at that. “They aren’t here? Did something happen?”

    It was Monica who answered. “You didn’t hear? The Simurgh hit Australia on Sunday. New Wave’s helping with the clean up, to get infrastructure up and running again. And… Well…”

    “And to help put the wall up,” Sayori finished quietly.

    Oh. The Endbringers were practically a force of nature, bringing inevitable destruction wherever they went. Even by their standards however, the Simurgh was a special brand of horrifying. She messed with peoples’ heads, turned them into ticking time bombs that might not go off until years later. So, cities she attacked often had to be walled off, quarantined so that those infected couldn’t hurt the rest of the world.

    It was horrific, and Victoria and Amy were there helping deal with it while I could barely face a car crash. If I was going to be a hero, then I needed to be stronger. I needed to be better.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    I loped along the rooftops, speeding up occasionally when I had to make a jump. I’d found that if I focused, pulled on my power, I could keep my jumps going just a bit farther, as if gravity pulled me ever so slightly less.

    It was definitely something I’d have to practice. A Mover power, even one as small as that, would help me a lot. If nothing else, it would keep me from slipping and falling to the pavement below if I ever flubbed a jump.

    Maybe that was why you never saw the actual heroes scrambling on rooftops. But they had the advantage of a backup, while I had to make do using stealth as my sole advantage. I wouldn’t win if enemies could see me coming, so even if it was more dangerous, I had to take alternate routes.

    I stumbled as I hit a new roof, a sudden sense of vertigo overcoming me. I slipped, rolling down the angled roof, before scrabbling to get my hand under me to stop my descent. I groaned, knowing that the way I’d rolled into the backpack I was wearing would leave me with bruises. I waited until my vision stopped swimming to sit up again, ignoring how my gut tightened.

    Patrolling while sick might not have been the smartest choice, but I couldn’t just lay back and do nothing.

    I took a deep breath before setting off again. I drew on my power to help keep myself steady. It was useful for things like this, that feeling of life, of connection to the entire Universe. I immersed myself in it, letting it soothe away my ills. They would still be there later, but for now, I could ignore them.

    I was speeding up, getting ready for the next leap, when I felt something pull at me from two streets down. Something was wrong. I wasn’t sure how I knew, but something was wrong.

    I changed directions. My heart thrummed, a drum that echoed with each step I took. I had to be fast. I didn’t know why. I sprinted and lept from roof to roof, no longer calculating each jump, but instead simply trusting in my power to guide me. It was only as I approached my destination that I slowed down, quieting my footsteps.

    A middle aged guy in a suit had been backed into an alley by three younger, Asian-looking guys. I frowned as I looked them over. They wouldn’t look out of place in Winslow’s halls, couldn’t be older than twenty at the most. The only thing that set them apart was the tattoo peeking out of the collar of the leader of the trio and the red and green clothing marking them as members of the Azn Bad Boys.

    The leader was talking, “--our territory, you got it? So you’re gonna hand over your wallet like a good piggy bank, or we’re gonna see if you squeal like a pig when we stick you.”

    One of the boys, the scrawnier of the three, flicked a knife out to emphasize Tattoo’s words. The bulkier third simply crossed his arms silently. None of them seemed concerned. This wasn’t something new to them, they’d all done this before. Quietly, carefully, I unzipped my backpack and floated out one of the bricks I’d carried with me.

    I wasn’t much of a fighter. I could barely throw a decent punch. My powers weren’t much better. I couldn’t lift anything especially heavy. But I could lift a brick. Gravity would do the rest.

    I floated the brick out over Scrawny before letting it fall. I followed it, slamming feet-first into Tattoo. There was a cry of pain, of startlement, and Tattoo went stumbling back even as I sprung away, recovering from the fall. He was stunned, but not incapacitated. Scrawny’s knife had gone skittering across the alley however, and he was left clutching at a broken wrist.

    I flicked my baton out. I couldn’t afford to let up for a second. There were three of them and only one of me.

    --Bulky came at me, swinging his fist high--

    I dropped down, barely managing to duck under the punch, and jammed my baton into the boy’s stomach. He grunted, tried to throw another punch, but my leg darted out to hook his ankle and he went falling into a heap. He kicked at me, and I--

    --Slammed my baton into his knee, but had no time to see how effective it was, as an arm wrapped around my throat from behind and lifted me into the air--

    --Dodged the kick, letting myself fall to my hands before lifting myself to kick out behind me. My feet hit Tattoo’s gut, and I let the momentum of the kick flip me forward. I landed on my feet and--

    --Scrawny lunged at me, his arms wrapping around my waist as he tried to tackle me to the ground--

    --Scrawny lunged at me and I jumped backwards. Not fast enough however, and his arms wrapped around my legs, sending the both of us to the ground. Bulky was getting up. I didn’t have time for this. I leaned forward and slammed my baton into Scrawny’s broken wrist.

    I ignored the scream that followed, focusing instead on kicking my legs free and rolling to my feet. Bulky and Tattoo had both recovered, but they were hanging back, looking at me warily. Good. I could use that.

    Tattoo was the first to break the stalemate. He charged and Bulky followed. I waited a brief second, timing Tattoo’s steps, and then hooked my power around his ankle and yanked as his foot was coming down, sending him falling. His chin hit the ground. Bulky wasn’t far behind however, I turned towards him and saw the approaching fist--

    --I picked my head off the ground and blinked the stars from my eyes, just in time for his foot to catch me in my ribs. I rolled with it, trying to get my distance. I managed to get to my knees, but he was rushing forward to hit me again. Well, fine. I’d just hit back harder. I pulled the same trick I had with Tattoo, pushing Bulky’s feet out from under him; and then I was on top of him with my baton, slamming it into his face. Once, twice, and then a third time before he stopped struggling.

    I looked over the three combatants. Bulky and Tattoo were out. Scrawny was still awake, but he was cradling his arm and crying, I don’t think he was in any shape to keep fighting. My heart was hammering in my chest, my breath coming in ragged gasps, but I’d won. I slowly stood to my feet and looked over at the middle-aged guy. “Hey, you okay?”

    “Yeah, I’m-- I’m alright. Thanks, Miss…?”

    “Seeker. Mind calling the cops on these three?”

    “Sure, I can do that.”

    I waited around while he dialed his phone, idly feeling at my cheek. I had the feeling I’d have a new bruise showing up there soon enough. Back to back with the whole Sophia debacle, it was going to raise questions. I really needed to keep my injuries below the neckline or find a way to heal myself.

    My eyes drifted over the alleyway, catching on a glint of light. The knife that scrawny had dropped. I could take it. It’d be another weapon in an emergency. Another way to protect myself.

    It was also evidence of what these three thugs had intended. More than that, it was a lethal option. If I took it out against someone, it meant I was ready to kill that person.

    I didn’t want to rely on that. I was a hero. I didn’t want to kill anyone.

    Not even Sophia?

    I squashed that traitorous thought and turned back to the man once I heard sirens approaching. “Think you’ll be okay to stick around and give a statement if I head off?”

    “Yeah, I don’t think these three are getting up anytime soon.”

    The man gave a weak smile and I returned it before running a few steps up a wall and hopping off to catch the edge of a fire escape. Pulling myself up afterwards was a bit more difficult, but all the rooftop scrambling I’d been doing lately had been helping me to build some upper body strength.

    I gave the man a final wave before disappearing into the night, a satisfied smile on my face.




    No vote just yet.

    Civ Encounter = 5; No

    Cape Encounter = 19; Yes | S. Docks = 3; ABB | 4 = Mooks | d6 = 3 mooks

    Brick = 13; Yes | Dropkick = 6; No | Scrawny = 12(+5 Brick, -3 Sick) | Tattoo = 15 (-3 Sick); yes | Bulky = 13 (-3 Sick); Barely | Stay for Prot? = 3; No
    +2 XP to [Quick Reflexes] from Training
    +2 XP to [Equilibrium] from rooftop hopping (Spillover +1 XP to [Inertia])
    +2 XP to [Push] from Combat
    Decided to split this chapter up so that I could get it out, you’ll get the rest next update. But hey, enjoy Taylor’s first fight. Took us long enough to get there, huh?

    Edit: Oh, and don't forget that with Equilibrium finished, you have more abilities visible now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
    Kildar, Mikers99, Anacronism and 15 others like this.
  24. Disgruntled Dragon

    Disgruntled Dragon So many beginnings

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    That was an incredibly well balanced first fight. It showed off Taylor's ingenuity, creativity, and willingness to leap into harm's way as well as her inexperience and relative lack of skill. Bravo. Each new post makes me just a little bit more excited for the future of this story.
     
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  25. Threadmarks: Slave 1.5b
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Two days later, I was glancing around nervously as I stepped into the school cafeteria. I’d avoided eating in here ever since the… incident with Victoria on my first day at Arcadia. Back at Winslow, eating out in the open like this, surrounded by so many people, had always been a recipe for trouble. It made it easy for the Trio to find me. Even though I knew it was different here, that no one would attack me here, my experience with Victoria’s aura had only managed to deepen that anxiety.

    Still, I forced myself forward. New Wave had apparently gotten back from Australia sometime last night. I scanned over the room and… Yes, there was Victoria, holding court once again. She was talking and laughing, a gaggle of both girls and guys sitting at her table with her. And like a shadow, Amy sat at the edge of the table, her head resting on her arms.

    I slipped in next to her, largely unnoticed by the rest of the crowd, and gently nudged her with my elbow. “Hey there.”

    Amy jerked up, startled, and I caught Victoria glancing our way for a second. She shot a smirk at me, but quickly turned her attention back to her current group of friends. Was that her being considerate by not drawing attention to Amy and me? Or were her other friends just more important?

    “Um… Hi.” Amy was looking at me strangely. “Did you need something, Taylor?”

    “I just um… I was just wanting to check up on you, I guess? I mean, see how you were doing after everything with the Simurgh?”

    “Oh. Well, it’s not like I was actually at the fight itself. I’m fine.”

    “That’s good. I mean, I knew that. That you weren’t at the fight, that is. But…” Ugh, why can’t I just hold a normal conversation? “Well, it’s the Simurgh. I’m sure it had to be awful even just cleaning up, right?”

    Amy looked down, her hair falling to hide her face from view. “I guess. Was that it?”

    “No. I was thinking, if it’s not too much trouble for you, we could…”

    Amy looked back up at me and rolled her eyes. “Just spit it out already.”

    “I was just wondering if you’d like to hang out again sometime?”

    “Sure,” she said flatly, “I’ll ask Vicky when she’s available for you.”

    I frowned. That’s not… “I wasn’t asking to hang out with Vicky. I wanted to hang out with you.”

    Amy opened her mouth only to close it again, her brow furrowing as she stared intently at my face. I shifted back under the scrutiny. “What?”

    “Nothing. Fine, I guess we can ‘hang out.’ Carol said I should take a few days off from the Hospital anyways, so it’s not like I’ve got much else going on. What did you have in mind?”

    “I er…” I hadn’t really planned that far ahead. I considered how much cash I had and winced inwardly. “I guess we could grab a coffee or something and maybe see a movie? I didn’t really…”

    Amy snorted softly, but her lips curved upwards for the first time since I’d sat down. “Sure. We’ll figure something out later. Meet you after school?”

    I let a hesitant smile of my own form in response. “Sounds good.”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    I’d quickly made my retreat from the cafeteria after that.

    I wasn’t sure why I was trying so hard to be friends with Amy. She hadn’t exactly been the most friendly or pleasant person to be around so far. Sure, she was Panacea, but I’d like to think it wasn’t out of some sense of cape worship.

    I searched my feelings, trying to figure out my own reasoning. I guess when it came down to it, Amy’s standoffishness was the exact reason why I’d impulsively decided to reach out to her. She hadn’t felt the need to pretend to be nice to me out of some sense of pity. I think… if she decided to be my friend, it would be because I’d earned it.

    I passed the rest of the school day with those thoughts circling in my head, occasionally chased by the worry that she wouldn’t like me in the end, that I wouldn’t be able to stand on my own merits. I cut off that line of thinking whenever it came up.

    In the end, I found myself waiting out by the school’s entrance when I spotted Amy… with Victoria in tow. I tried to keep the frown off my face.

    “Heeey!” Victoria waved with a grin. “Don’t look so disappointed to see me, Taytay, I’m not going to interrupt you two.” She winked and Amy looked upwards as though searching Heaven for help that wouldn’t come. “I just wanted to talk to you really quick before you left.”

    “...Sure. What’s up, Vicky?”

    “Did you decide on if it was alright for me to tell Dean? I know things kind of got pushed off with…” Victoria’s smile faltered for a moment and she took a deep breath. “Stuff that happened at the start of the week. But I do think he could help.”

    I hadn’t decided. I’d actually kind of forgot with everything else that had happened. “I… don’t really see how, Vicky. I guess it couldn’t actually hurt though. Set something up for Friday and I’ll talk to him about it.”

    “Great! Then I’ll let him know his presence is required. In the meantime, you two should go enjoy your date.”

    I blinked. “Date?”

    “Ignore her,” Amy interjected before Victoria could answer. “It’s her way of teasing me. You ready to go, Taylor?”

    “Um--”

    “Aw, come on, Ames. I didn’t even get to question her about her intentions towards my sister yet,” Victoria pouted.

    “Who even does that anyways? Come on, Taylor.”

    Amy grabbed my arm and pulled me along, heedless of my response. I turned my head back to look at Victoria, who simply grinned and waved the two of us off. Well, that was a thing.

    I waited until we’d walked a good block of distance and Amy’s pace had slowed down again before asking, “So what was that about a date?”

    Amy’s face turned an interesting shade of pink and she huffed, “Just my Sister being annoying. She’s constantly trying to find someone to pair me up with. Though, I’ll admit, this is her first time trying to throw me at another girl.”

    “That seems…” Uncomfortable? Exasperating? “Annoying. Couldn’t you just tell her you’re not interested, or you want to find something on your own?”

    Amy shrugged and pulled me across the street to a bookstore. “Over here, I wanted to pick something up as long as we’re out and about. Anyways, I’ve tried that, but she sees things through Dean-tinted glasses. She’s happy dating him, so clearly everyone else would also be happy if they just found their one true love. Never mind how often the two of them get into fights.”

    Wow, there was a bit of venom in that. Did Amy have a problem with Dean? “So what made her decide the two of us ought to be a couple?”

    “Don’t know, don’t care.” Amy navigated us down the aisles, apparently familiar enough with the store to know where everything was kept. She pulled a book off a shelf -- something fantasy, though I didn’t recognize the author’s name. “Was there anything you wanted here?”

    “Um. Not today. Maybe next time.” I didn’t have the money to buy a new book anyways.

    “If you say so. Anyways, don’t be surprised if Vicky starts trying to find people to hook you up with too once it becomes obvious that teasing me isn’t going anywhere.”

    “I don’t suppose you know a way to keep her from doing that?”

    “If I did, I would have done it for myself a long time ago,” Amy said dryly. “No, with Vicky, you have to learn that she gets her way and the best you can do is put up with it.”

    I grimaced and let my thoughts turn inwards as Amy paid for her book. For a brief moment, I allowed memories of when Emma and I had gossipped together about our future romances to float through my head before shoving them aside to focus on the present. I really didn’t need my own personal matchmaker. Maybe I’d let something happen if I found someone I liked, but… Well, I wasn’t about to go looking for any sort of romance. It seemed like more trouble than it was worth, especially with my new cape identity taking up my time.

    “Come on,” Amy said, interrupting my train of thought, “Let’s get that coffee you promised me.”

    I didn’t have any real objections to that, so we wandered over to the attached café that so many bookstores seemed to rely on to help push up their flagging sales these days. It was on the smaller side, much like the bookstore itself had been, with only two tables to sit at near a window that looked out towards the street.

    We sat there for a bit, Amy idly watching the people go by outside as she sipped at her coffee. I was the one to finally break the silence.

    “So what book did you get?”

    “Mm?” Amy blinked in surprise as her attention snapped back to me. “Oh, it’s… a romance fantasy series, I guess? It’s in a fantasy setting, but it’s very focused on the relationship between the two main characters.”

    I glanced down at the cover, which prominently featured a blonde woman in some sort of knightly armor. Another woman was behind her, facing away from the viewer. “Is the series a favorite of yours?”

    “Well…” I felt a small thread of embarrassment waft off of Amy. I did my best to ignore it. I didn’t want to have to rely on my powers for basic social interaction. It felt like I was cheating somehow. “It’s not exactly high literature, but I enjoy it, I suppose.”

    “Maybe I can borrow the first book from you sometime then?”

    The embarrassment strengthened to the point that I felt my own ears burning. Amy muttered a quick, “Yeah, maybe later sometime,” before quickly changing the subject. “So what is it that you usually do for fun, Taylor? I get the feeling that ‘coffee and a movie’ isn’t your usual go to.”

    “Oh, uh. It isn’t really.” It’s not like I usually had anyone to go with anyways. “I guess I just read mostly? And I’ve been meditating recently.”

    “Meditating? I wouldn’t have pegged you for that sort of New Age-y type.”

    I rolled my eyes. “I’m not going to claim I’m somehow tapping into the consciousness of the Universe, Amy.” Even though I sort of was? That was my powers though, it didn’t count. “It’s just… After everything that happened at Winslow, I had a lot of pent up anger and… other stuff that I just wasn’t happy feeling. It hasn’t gone away, but meditation does help me deal with it. It gives me a way to sort through my emotions.”

    “Huh. And that works?”

    “Like I said, it helps. You could join me sometime if you want to give it a try. I certainly wouldn’t mind the company.”

    The corner of Amy’s mouth twitched upwards. “I’m not really the ‘clear your mind’ type. Even if I were, my power’s basically throwing information at me all the time. I don’t think I’d get very far with it.”

    I tilted my head back. How to explain this. “It’s not really clearing your mind. At least, not how you’re probably thinking about it. You’re not trying to think about nothing at all. It’s more… letting your thoughts come and then pass on without lingering. I mean, if you don’t want to, I won’t force you to or anything, I just think it’s been really helpful for me.”

    Amy glanced away, a complex whirl of emotions sweeping through her that I had trouble identifying, loudly enough that even with me trying not to tap into that portion of my powers, I still heard it. “I’ll think about it.”

    “Sure, no pressure.” I gave her a smile and finished my coffee. There goes the last of my savings. Ah well. “So did you have any plans for the rest of the evening?”

    “Not really. Just going to call Vicky to give me a ride home. You want to stick around? I’m sure she wouldn’t mind the detour to get you home as well.”

    I shifted, unsure if I wanted to take Amy up on the offer. After a moment I shook my head. “No, it’s fine. I’ll just catch the bus home. Less time for her to grill us about our supposed ‘date’ that way.”

    Amy let out a sharp laugh. “Well, I suppose that’s fair enough. Until next time then, Taylor?”

    I grinned in response. “Yeah, until next time.”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━​

    The bus ride home went about the same as it usually did. I sat near the back and did my best to seem unobtrusive.

    There weren’t too many other passengers. An elderly looking Asian woman. A Black man in worker’s coveralls. A pair of teenage boys playing on their phones. The problem was the group of three white guys near the front.

    They weren’t wearing gang colors and they weren’t skinheads, but you live in Brockton Bay long enough and you get a feel for when a group of people are probably Empire. When the Black guy got off the bus they jeered insults at him. When a Hispanic-looking woman got on, they stuck their foot out to trip her.

    In short, they were bullies, the kind of people I hated the most.

    They never escalated to anything beyond that, thankfully. The gangs generally tried to avoid picking fights in Brockton Bay’s public transit for whatever reason. Still, I was happy when my stop came and I had a chance to get away from it all.

    I rushed off. The sooner I was home, the better. At least, that’s what I’d thought until I got there and came to a dead stop, my breath catching in my throat.

    There was a cop car parked outside my house.




    It is the weekend of March 4th.

    Where does Taylor patrol?
    [] Trainyard
    [] North Docks
    [] South Docks
    [] Commercial District
    [] Downtown
    [] Southern Coast

    You have 1 Training Action.
    [] (Write-In)

    You have 2 Major Actions.
    [] Spend extra time patrolling.
    [] Hang out with Emma.
    [] Doing what? (Write-In)​
    [] Hang out with Vicky.
    [] Doing what? (Write-In)​
    [] Hang out with Amy.
    [] Doing what? (Write-In)​
    [] Search for gainful employment.
    [] Start working on tracking down Sophia yourself.
    [] Study at the Library
    [] Research martial arts forms and throws online.​
    [] You’ve got some biology homework to work on.​
    [] Something Else? (Write-In)​
    [] (Write-In)

    Vicky shipping? (DC15) = 18; Haha yes | Taylor Realizes the Details of Amy's Book = 4 (+2 Empathy); Nope, oblivious | Amy and Meditation? = 10; On the fence
    +1 XP to [Empathy]
    Probably not too much to comment on here. Vicky’s a shipper (who thought Taylor was asking Amy out on a date and was surprised when Amy said yes) and Amy picked up some Lesbian fiction at the bookstore.

    Boy, is it hard writing good social scenes that are interesting and different from interaction to interaction and serve to introduce new information, despite the two people barely knowing each other and Taylor hiding her cape status. x.x Especially when there’s a new one each week.
     
  26. WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests

    WhyCantWeAllJustBeGuests Not too sore, are you?

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    [x] South Docks
    [x] Empathy
    [x] Hang out with Amy
    [x] Study at the Library
    -[x] You’ve got some biology homework to work on.

    Anyone have a good idea for spending time with Amy? Lots of options, but I’m not sure which I want to read most.
     
  27. Disgruntled Dragon

    Disgruntled Dragon So many beginnings

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    [x] South Docks
    [x] Study at the Library
    -[x] Research martial arts forms and throws online.
    [x] Hang out with Amy

    Though I am starting to wonder about the mentions of a lack of money. Makes me wonder what job Taylor would find if she looked. Not enough to give up time training abilities to reduce likelihood of sudden death via cape nor the beginning steps of developing a healthy social life.

    Like a lot of quests surrounding Taylor, recovering from traumatic events and developing a healthy psyche is as important as everything else.
     
  28. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] South Docks
    [X] Empathy
    [X] Hang out with Emma
    -[X] Play a card game
    [X] Study at the Library
    -[X] You’ve got some biology homework to work on.

    Poker or a similar game could potentially be a form of Empathy training.
     
  29. Sitxar

    Sitxar Making the rounds.

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    [x] South Docks
    [x] Study at the Library
    -[x] Research martial arts forms and throws online.
    [x] Hang out with Emma
     
  30. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Taylor is officially, as of this latest chapter, on 0 money left to spend. So whatever you plan to do, make sure it doesn't cost anything. Or else find a source of income.
     
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