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Prodigal Daughter [Worm Alt-Taylor AU]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, Dec 25, 2018.

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  1. Darth.

    Darth. I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    A brute power or a breaker power pretending to be a brute power. That's why I asked if she had a brute or breaker rating...
     
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  2. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Brute.

    She doesn't have any Breaker powers.

    Trump, Thinker, Master (low end) and Brute, yes. Breaker, no.
     
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  3. Xyshuryn

    Xyshuryn Holder of Hands

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    Okay, so I'm already a huge Ack fan. That's a given any day of the week. But this? This is AMAZING! I had the murder giggles for damn near half an hour. I think the only thing that would make me giggle more would be the 9 kidnapping Dr. Yamada for Jack and Taylor to have family therapy. Then again... Ack has proven me wrong before.
     
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  4. Jack of Olives

    Jack of Olives Knows just enough to be dangerous.

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    Did... did Jack Slash just get an accidental Lobotomy?

    If so, it couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow. :D
     
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  5. magic9mushroom

    magic9mushroom BEST END.

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    Lobotomies involved driving an object up from the eye-socket to destroy parts of the frontal cortex. Driving an object into the eye socket is a very different matter, and would threaten to damage deep structures of the brain such as the thalamus or brainstem. Even lobotomists weren't that crazy; those parts of the brain are responsible for very low-level functions which are in many cases required for life (such as breathing).
     
  6. GiftofLove

    GiftofLove A Gift From The Heart

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    I was looking forward to Mr. Rogers the friendly neighborhood serial killer.

    Taylor's impromptu brain surgery fixed his attitude problem, but not his lust for blood.
     
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  7. Muroshi9

    Muroshi9 I'm so ronery So ronery So ronery and sadly arone

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    So something like this (Jump to 2:58 since it doesn't seem to want to do that for me)
     
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  8. Threadmarks: Part Five: Brain Donor
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Prodigal Daughter

    Part Five: Brain Donor



    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]



    Imagine, if you will, the classic scene in the movie where the rough and ready hero of the piece is facing off against a bunch of street trash. Doesn’t matter which movie it is. We’ve all seen one like it. The scene is such a timeless one that they replicated it in every movie they could, for a while there. They’re even doing it with cape movies, now.

    The scene goes like this: the hero, alone and looking outmatched and overwhelmed. There’s usually a day’s worth of artistic stubble on his face. Facing him: the aggressor, huge, intimidating, probably tattooed. They face each other, sizing one another up. This gives the audience time to start feeling fear for the hero.

    And then the bad guy comes in with a rush. He’s surely going to destroy the hero. The fight will be over before it’s begun. The hero barely has time to move before his foe is on top of him. There’s a flurry of blows, then the hero steps aside and the aggressor falls flat on his face.

    The gang laughs at first, because everyone loves a good pratfall, and surely their guy’ll be up in a moment, to hand the hero a well-deserved beating. And then the laughter becomes strained, as the big guy doesn’t move. Finally, as eyes travel from the fallen foe to the hero standing over him, the laughter dies away altogether, and the gang begins to feel worry for the first time.

    <><>​

    That was the look I saw in Riley’s eyes, right about then. She literally could not believe what she was seeing. It wasn’t hard to understand why. The Slaugherhouse Nine had been around for decades, always with Jack Slash at the helm. No matter what the forces of law and order—and the forces of crime and chaos, for that matter—had thrown at him, he’d always ducked and dodged it, bounced to his feet, and annihilated his adversaries. To them, he must’ve seemed indestructible, unstoppable, immutable. A force of nature. Now he lay on his back, eight inches of iron bar wedged into his skull.

    I saw one foot twitch, which was a pretty basic sign of life, but it was enough. Pointing at the foot, I snapped my fingers. This was fortunately enough to bring Riley out of whatever fugue she’d fallen into.

    “What have you done, Taylor?” she demanded. “What were you—”

    I snapped my fingers and pointed, again. With Riley’s surgical tools down my throat and my jawbone dislocated, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk; I physically wasn’t capable of it.

    What was I thinking? I rhetorically completed her question. I was thinking I didn’t want to find out if he can still hack me up with a machete. Not that I’d wanted him to die. Okay, he’d been acting like a total tool and yeah, Jack Slash would make a pretty boss first kill, but my own father? That would’ve made things kind of weird.

    “Oh, crapola!” she gasped, seeing the twitch in his foot at last. “He’s still alive! Siberian, make him invincible, then pull out the bar!” She jumped off the porch, leaving me with her surgical tools stuck down my throat. Fortunately, she hadn’t started cutting on me yet. Small mercies.

    I wanted to be able to talk, and I was starting to get a case of dry-throat, so I gingerly tugged at the gadgets. One didn’t want to move, so I pulled the other one out, which ended up being a combo periscope, scalpel and flashlight. Its friend still refused to leave where it was until I pressed a lever by accident, and it collapsed into itself. In hindsight, that was what she’d been using to dilate my throat.

    With those out of the way, I pressed both hands to my jaw and tried to remember how Riley had coached me in how to dislocate it. It took a little work and a lot of pressure, but it suddenly popped back into place with a click that nearly deafened me. “Ugh,” I said. “Ah.”

    Looking around, I saw the other members of the Nine standing around, watching Riley as she worked on Jack. On their faces—well, on the faces that were visible and could actually show normal human emotions—I saw a mirror of what Riley had shown when Jack first went down, plus a smidge of something else. This wasn’t surprise, or even anger. These guys looked lost.

    “Hey, kid.” That was Crawler, his multiple mouths making any observation into a bizarre harmony with himself. “You do this?”

    “I didn’t mean to.” I didn’t say it defensively. Defensiveness would’ve required a consciousness of guilt. I’d never felt guilty in my life, and I wasn’t about to start. “He came at me with a machete, and I threw the bar at him. It was an accident.”

    “Well, shit.” That was Burnscar, her voice as devoid of emotion as mine. We hadn’t bonded over our shared lack of giving-a-fuck because we couldn’t give a fuck. “What the fuck are we going to do now?”

    “If you will all be quiet,” Riley said, her voice tense with concentration, “I might just be able to save his life.” She reached out and took something from her surgical case. “Bring me a brain. I need a brain to take matter from. I need to patch the gaps.”

    “How about hers?” called out Hatchet Face. I looked up at him, just knowing who he was referring to. Sure enough, he was pointing at me. “She did the damage, she can pony up the brainmeats to fix it.”

    “Not fucking likely,” I retorted. “Jack was stupid enough to start shit, he deserved what he got.” I scanned their reactions to what I was saying, and it wasn't promising. Hatchet Face and Shatterbird were openly aggressive, while Mannequin and Crawler seemed to be standing back and watching how things fell out. The Siberian glanced from me to Riley and back again, as if silently asking her what to do.

    Fuck it. There was nothing for it but to see what the blue bubble did. I locked the white bubble on to it and pushed it out to cover myself. Maybe it was a force field or something.

    “Well, you are the most convenient,” Riley said. I had no time at all to react before I was both flat on my back and face to face with the Siberian. Her knee pressed into my chest, and her immovable grip held my arms to the boards of the porch. There was no emotion on her face at all, which I was cool with. What I was less cool with was the fact that she'd gone straight through my blue bubble without slowing down. There hadn't even been a humorous 'pop'.

    Not a force field, then.

    “Relax,” Riley said, getting up and coming toward me. In one hand she held a small electrical device with a tiny, sharp-looking circular saw-blade. In the other, she had something that looked uncomfortably like an ice-cream scoop. “We’ll be done in a moment, and I won’t take anything important.” She pressed a button on the device, and the little blade spun up with a high-pitched whee.

    “Brute, remember?” I said, thumping my skull against the wooden boards. Trying to headbutt the Siberian probably wasn’t going to work. “That thing won’t even make a dent.”

    “True,” she said, tilting her head. Turning off the cutter, she stowed it in a pocket of her apron. “It’s a good thing I’ve got someone here who can cut through anything then, isn’t it?”

    “Huh. Point.” I still wasn’t a fan of donating any bits of my brain to Jack Slash, so I pushed out my blue bubble some more, in the hope that it would hold Riley back. She stepped right through, so there went that idea. I was starting to run low. The Siberian let go my right arm and held up her sharp pinky nail for me to see. I had no doubt that if I didn’t do something really smart in the next few seconds, the unstoppable naked tiger-striped woman was going to commence unzipping the top of my skull like someone pulling the top off of a microwaved meal. Only with fewer sludgy carrots involved.

    Which meant the time for talking was nearly over; if my next gambit didn’t work, I was gonna have to push my grey field out to nullify the Siberian’s strength, then make a run for it. The only reason I hadn’t already done it already was because then I’d have the whole Nine after me, and keeping up either field was a little tiring. I knew for a fact that I’d run out of puff before Crawler did. It was time for the proverbial Hail Mary pass. “Just out of curiosity, do you really need human brains, or would any brain do?”

    On the point of kneeling beside me, Riley stopped and looked at me with interest. Fortunately, the interest was directed at my words, not at the contents of my skull. “I guess not. Did you have a better idea?”

    “Well, I was thinking, there’s plenty of squirrels and chipmunks in these woods.” I wasn’t good at emoting, but I did my best to sound as though this was the best idea in the world. “One of those would fill the gap, right? And you wouldn’t have to go digging through my brain. I’m kinda attached to it, you know? It’s where I do all my thinking.”

    “Hm. That’s actually a good point.” She headed back toward Jack Slash. I was beginning to get an idea of what the blue bubble was about, so I started pushing it out as far as it would go. Leaning over, she looked into the cavity. “Yeah, I think a squirrel could just about supply enough brain matter for what I need.” She turned to look at the Siberian. “Do you think you could catch one for me?”

    “You’ve got to be shitting me,” Hatchet Face said scornfully, just before the blue bubble expanded far enough to encompass him and Shatterbird. “Squirrels?”

    The weight on my chest vanished. Siberian ran along the length of the porch, bisected the rail at the end with her body, and vanished into the darkness. I heard rustling in the woods, and the crash of at least one falling tree.

    Shatterbird looked more dubious than disbelieving. “Is that even possible? Will he start doing things like climbing trees and storing nuts for the winter?”

    “Pfft, no.” Riley rolled her eyes. “Brains don’t work like that. He’s lost his eye, and the bar severely damaged the part of his brain that governs his sense of balance. If I wire that part of a squirrel’s brain in there, it’ll be able to take over, and his sense of balance will be better than ever. Apart from that, I can use other brain matter to patch some gaps. He’ll be better than ever in a week or so. Oh, his language centres were also damaged slightly, so he’ll be aphasic for a little bit, but I’m sure we’ll manage.”

    I sat myself up and scooted my butt over so I was leaning back against the porch post. “So, are you gonna give him a new eye as well, or just slap a patch on it and call him One-Eyed Jack?”

    “Hah!” The multi-toned bark of laughter came from Crawler. “I like that. We should do that one.”

    It seemed I was out of danger for the moment. The blue bubble apparently made people more likely to listen to me and think about what I was saying. It wasn’t exactly Mastery—Hatchet Face didn’t look any friendlier toward me—but at least the others weren’t calling for Riley to dissect my brain any more.

    I was fine with this, but it basically solidified my decision to go back to Brockton Bay. The Nine might joke around with me, but when it came down to a choice between me and my father, he’d win every time unless I got my blue bubble up in time. And I wasn’t at all sure about how well it would work on him. I had a sneaking suspicion that if someone really wanted to hurt me, it wouldn’t be enough to stop them from trying.

    It occurred to me that I could simply kill him and take over the Nine—deliberately, I mean—and avoid the problem that way, but there were a couple of problems there as well. First, it would set a terrible precedent, and I couldn’t guarantee that Riley wouldn’t murder me in my sleep. Second, I really didn’t want to be a murderhobo (murdering people inside Brockton Bay was fine; that way, I’d know where I was sleeping every night). Third, I still felt that claiming my father as my first kill felt more than a little weird. I’d pass on that whole deal, kaythanksbye.

    “I dunno yet.” Riley raised her head and looked around as more rustling heralded the Siberian’s return. The tiger-striped form bounded out of the darkness and landed precisely beside Jack’s prone form, going from high-speed movement to absolute stillness in an instant. I kind of wished I could pull off shit like that. Maybe I could; I could definitely practise. But I’d also keep my clothes on. The naked look just wasn’t me.

    The squirrel squeaked and struggled in her implacable grip, right up until she snapped its neck with a tiny krak. With the same pinky nail that she would’ve used to open my skull, she popped the top off the squirrel’s head and offered it gravely to Riley.

    I watched with interest as the bio-Tinker accepted the tiny corpse and dug the brain out of its bony cradle. She moved with quick, sure movements, slicing the bloodstained organ apart and implanting it piece by piece into the hole inside Jack’s head. It took far less time than I would’ve thought; only minutes later, so it seemed, she was packing cotton wool into the eyesocket itself.

    “So that’s it?” I asked. “He’s fixed?” Even though I knew what she could do, it hardly seemed credible. And with a squirrel’s brain, no less.

    “Not exactly fixed,” she said primly, tossing the remains of the squirrel over her shoulder. Crawler snapped it out of the air and ate it while Riley wiped her hands off on her apron. “But he’ll get better. Couple of days, he’ll be able to walk. In a week or two, he’ll be talking again. Once we’re communicating properly, he’ll let me know what he wants done about his eye.”

    “Oh, okay,” I said. “Mind you, he’ll still probably be pissed at me that I nailed him with that bar.” He’d almost certainly be more pissed if it ever got out that Riley had fixed his brain with bits of squirrel, but that wasn’t really something I was concerned about.

    “Yeah, true.” She smirked as she wrapped a bandage around his head. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d been thinking about the squirrel thing, too. “We’ll have him away from here by then, and you’ll be back in Brockton Bay.”

    “Works for me.” I got up and headed over, and helped her tie off the bandage. At some point, I’d let the blue bubble contract back to its normal size, but the others weren’t renewing hostilities, which was fine with me. Crisis over, I figured. “So, hey. Still up to modifying my vocal cords?”

    “Sure,” she said. “Sorry about the whole brain thing. Just seemed like a good idea at the time, you know?” As she spoke, she helped me lie down on the porch where I’d been before my father tried his sneaky shit. “So tell me. Did you aim for his eye, or was that just a lucky shot?”

    “Pure luck from beginning to end,” I admitted as I let my head fall back. Holding up a finger, I wriggled around a little to get comfortable. “That’s better. Yeah, I just figured I’d make him duck or something. Never in a million years thought I’d actually get him like that.”

    Riley laughed out loud. “Well, just between you and me? I’m not gonna tell him that. If he knew he got taken out by accident, it’d make him madder than if people found out that he’s got bits of squirrel brain in his head.”

    I almost smiled at that. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

    “Cool. Now, can you dislocate your jaw again for me, like I showed you?”

    Obediently, I wedged my thumbs in behind my jawbone and pushed. With a loud click, it popped out of place again.

    “Okay,” said Riley. “Just hold still …”

    I let myself relax as she pushed my jaw up out of the way, and slid the dilator down my throat again. Of all the things I’d thought I would be doing at this point in time, letting Bonesaw do surgery on my throat in the middle of the night didn’t even come close to making the list. All the same, it was kinda fun.

    Still, as interesting as summer camp was proving to be, I couldn’t wait to get back to Brockton Bay.



    End of Part Five

    Part Six
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
    Envy34, buffog, Agent115 and 49 others like this.
  9. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    What a squirrelly solution!
     
  10. Darkarma

    Darkarma Not too sore, are you?

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    Hopefully Riley kept the instincts to horde nuts and to attract the attention of every dog in the country. Cause that would be hilarious if every dog know he was part Squirrel.

    "Jack slash was cornered by an army of dogs this afternoon. He proceeded to pelt them with nuts at a distance. PRT currently has no comment."
     
  11. GiftofLove

    GiftofLove A Gift From The Heart

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    Jack Slash now has a weird craving for salted nuts. But he hates nuts.

    -

    Now that Riley and Taylor are officially sisters, it's time to add them to the shipping list for when they get a little older.

    It's be a pretty cool foil to Amy and Victoria. Only now the roles have been swapped.

    :V
     
  12. Xyshuryn

    Xyshuryn Holder of Hands

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    I absolutely love this Taylor. She's so murdorable! And Riley is just the cutest little murdermunchkin. Oh Ack you've done it again. About the only version of Taylor I like more, among Ack's works, would be Wyvern.
     
  13. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    A lot older. Riley's ten.
     
  14. Doru

    Doru Digimon, Gamer, and Deviant

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    This is QQ, and she's fictional. I don't think that matters, and the shipping chart has no bounds.
     
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  15. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    This is the QQ SFW board.
     
  16. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Experienced.

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    Okay, if I got this right, Taylor's power is made up of three "bubbles", as well as a "weave". In addition to this, she can also see "colors" that represent other people's powers on those people. The White and Blue bubbles are from the bud she inherited from Jack, and the Red weave and Gray bubble she got from her shard pinging off Hatchet Face's when she Triggered. The Gray Bubble is Power Nullification and the Red Weave is Brute powers. The Blue Bubble is a Persuasion ability, making it so others will listen to her. The White Bubble is her subset of the Broadcast ability, and allows her to extend her other bubbles, which are normally only about the size of her head, and anything within those bubbles are subject to her powers.

    Is that about right?
     
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  17. Doru

    Doru Digimon, Gamer, and Deviant

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    So? Shipping chart still has no bounds, and lewd things were not required for the chart. Also there are lots of young children in real life and fiction that people want to get together.
     
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  18. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    That was bad, and you should feel bad :D
     
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  19. Impartial Panic

    Impartial Panic Getting sticky.

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    Why don't you have a seat over there.

    Murder Loli isn't for Shipping and Lewds, she's for Hugs and head pats!
     
  20. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    ... or just quietly leaving the area that she's in, when that's an option.
     
  21. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

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    I have to say I'm almost dissapointed that Jack gets to live. Killing him off and seeing how the rest of the S9 do without him around would have been interesting. Still, now that he probably isn't going to be Taylor's first kill I wonder who will get that particular 'honour'.
     
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  22. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Experienced.

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    Sophia, for daring to attempt to indoctrinate her best friend with her stupid predator and prey mindset and tempt her away from her?
     
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  23. magic9mushroom

    magic9mushroom BEST END.

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    Actually, she's great for shipping. I'm sure she'd have rewired Victoria to be into Amy if Amy'd asked.

    Also, for the record, on QQ there's at least one out-of-closet paedophile, several in a transparent closet, and a bunch of people who aren't paedophiles but write underage erotic lit. I'm not quite sure where you're going with that meme.
     
  24. kokuenDG

    kokuenDG Altera my Love~❤

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    [​IMG]

    That's, um....nice??

    Actually no, that's not nice. Not at all. Actually somewhat worrisome, in fact.
     
  25. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Experienced.

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    First off, this is not the thread to discuss this in. Secondly,
    since you've brought it up, let me clarify something.
    There is a difference between a Paedophile and a Lolicon. A Paedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children. This is not a choice. It is a result of their brains being wired differently than others. Paedophiles get a bad rap, due to being lumped in with Child Molesters, who chose to molest children.

    A Lolicon, on the other hand, is someone who is attracted to underage fictional girls. This is a fetish, and while some may find it disturbing, it is wholly different from Paedophilia and Child Molestation in the fact that it hurts no one.
    And, back to the first point, as Ack has pointed out, this is the SFW side of QQ. This type of conversation should be taken to the NSFW boards.

    Apologies, Ack, for my slight rant.
     
  26. Threadmarks: Part Six: Back to Civilisation
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Prodigal Daughter

    Part Six: Back to Civilisation


    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]


    The Next Day

    I shook hands with Riley, ignoring the prodding of the retractable needle in her palm that kept trying to inject me with something. I was pretty sure she wasn’t doing it on purpose. Or maybe she meant it as a joke. Which gave me ideas of my own.

    “It was nice meeting you,” she said, smiling shyly at me. “And I’m really glad you want to go back to Brockton Bay.”

    I knew she didn’t want me around to take her spot as Jack’s favourite, but I didn’t take offence. My father could go screw himself, as far as I was concerned. Riley was happy with him, and I wouldn’t have been. Or rather, I would’ve gotten irritated after a while and tried to kill him for real. I might even have succeeded, and then I’d be faced with the choice of either taking over the Nine or going on the run from them, and then where would I be? Not sleeping in my nice warm bed every night, that’s where.

    “Eh, Dad would probably miss me after a while,” I said. “It’s been interesting, though. Especially when we went swimming.”

    “While it lasted,” she agreed with a roll of her eyes.

    That morning, I’d wandered out of Chipmunk cabin—rather, Honey Badger cabin, after Riley had asked the Siberian to change the name for me—to find the Nine were still there. Riley had decided that Jack needed twelve hours of rest before he could be moved. We still had a few hours to go till midday, so we’d decided to go for a swim. After we located bathing suits that fitted us, we’d splashed around squealing in the chilly water for a while. The Siberian joined us (minus bathing suit, of course) but just stood there in the water, watching but not joining in. Riley loved the water slide; by my count, she’d come down it no less than thirty-four times, to my twenty-five. So I like water-slides, too. Sue me.

    The rest of the Nine had taken a little time to notice us, but when they did, Shatterbird and Burnscar also wandered over in bathing suits. However, they didn’t get to dip so much as a toe in before Crawler apparently launched himself from orbit into the pool with a multi-toned bellow of “CANNONBALL!”

    Let me tell you: when Crawler pulls a cannonball, he puts his all into it. And he has a lot of ‘all’. Half the water in the pool went AWOL, the slide was destroyed, Burnscar and Shatterbird were drenched and I found myself skidding to a halt twenty yards away. We located Riley on top of the main cabin, laughing so hard she could barely hold on.

    Of course, Burnscar and Shatterbird then spent the next fifteen minutes chasing a still-cackling Crawler around the camp, doing more property damage than had taken place over the entire previous night. Which meant that I was the one who had to climb up and get Riley down, after I discovered that my newfound Brute strength didn’t mean I could jump that high. Or rather, I had to climb down with her after the Siberian helpfully tossed me up on the roof. This also put an end to any more thoughts of using the pool; even if we’d been able to repair the slide and refill the pool in the short time they were here for, Crawler’s acidic drool would’ve rendered any farther swimming into a very briefly exciting experience.

    Note to self: never invite Crawler to your pool party. Someone else’s pool party, sure. Just make sure it’s someone you don’t like. Also, being tossed anywhere by the Siberian is a weird-as-fuck experience.

    But now the Nine were getting ready to move out, in a motorhome they’d liberated from somewhere. How they’d even gotten it up the road to Camp Puckatawney was a mystery for the ages. I suspected Mannequin may have modified it for off-road travel. In any case, Jack was already aboard and strapped in for the trip. Riley had said she was going to wait as long as possible to wake him up, so he’d be less likely to come back looking for me.

    I’d offered to use my power to suppress Hatchet Face’s power so Riley could reattach his hand, but he’d sneered at me and said he’d take his chances. I figured that was his option, so I hadn’t pushed the matter. Besides, he was a cheat and a dick.

    So I stood and watched the motorhome roll out of the campsite. Riley leaned out one of the windows and waved goodbye. I lifted a hand and waved back, and then they were gone. Dusting my hands off, I reached into my pocket and touched the going-away present she’d given me. Then I turned and looked around at the half-wrecked camp. I had to call for help, but first I had to set the scene.

    <><>​

    Three hours later, the first PRT chopper came swooping in toward the campsite. A second one orbited the area, obvious gun barrels protruding out the side door. From my hiding place under Honey Badger cabin, I watched as the first helicopter touched down briefly, dropping off heavily armed and armoured troopers. Brightly-coloured figures landed at the same time. Capes, obviously, but I didn’t recognise them.

    Under barked orders, they spread out and began to efficiently search the area. The capes lifted off again, out of my line of sight, probably backing them up from the air. Or at least, so I thought until someone yelled out something, and half a dozen troopers started converging on Honey Badger cabin. As per the plan, I huddled deeper into the dusty nest I’d dug for myself under the cabin, clutching at the carving knife I’d liberated from the main cabin.

    The knife was just for show, of course. It was something the troopers could take away from me. My real weapons were stuffed in my pockets, strapped to my leg, or stored at the bottom of my new backpack. My old one, of course, had been thoroughly clogged with paint, so I’d swapped it out for another one.

    As part of the cover, I’d set fire to Raccoon, Deer and Squirrel cabins, tossing all the incriminating evidence in there to go up in flames as well. This included my old pack. I didn’t want to have to answer awkward questions about why I’d brought a dye bomb to summer camp. This wasn’t something normal kids did.

    “You, under the hut!” It was a masculine voice, calling through a bullhorn. “Come on out! We won’t hurt you!” Unless I was a member of the Nine, was the unspoken addendum. Then they’d hurt me plenty. I didn’t care either way; I just stayed where I was.

    There was a sharp hissing sound followed by a loud thump, and I looked around to see a pair of boots made of segmented red metal standing right where I’d crawled under the cabin. The person wearing the boots crouched, revealing blue metal armour, red metal gloves, and a red helmet with elaborate lenses covering most of the front of it. “Hi,” he said. His voice was also metallic, but wasn’t the same one who’d called out before. I figured that one had to be PRT. “I’m Tracer. Want to come out so we can make sure you’re okay?”

    I didn’t answer. I just burrowed down into my earth hollow a little more. Almost as an afterthought, I let him see my knife.

    “Okay, then,” he said quietly. Without looking away from me, he raised his voice. “Okay, guys, we’ve got a trauma victim here. Be warned, she’s got a kitchen knife. I’m guessing she’s having trouble seeing anyone as friendly, right now.”

    “Well, that’s not exactly surprising,” I heard someone say from behind me. “Is she injured?”

    “Gimme minute,” Tracer replied tersely. I saw some of the lenses turn in their mountings. “No fresh blood. She’s active and aware, so I don’t think she’s got any long-term injury going on.” He cleared his throat, which sounded like a food processor trying to puree a rock. “Honey, what’s your name?”

    It was almost time for me to capitulate, but I had to show one last spark of irrational fear. I shook my head and ducked down so that he could only see my eyes. My knife came up a little more, so that he could see my white knuckles around the handle. I could feel and hear the handle creaking under my grip.

    “Subject is non-cooperative,” Tracer reported. “Do it.”

    I was not given more than a second or so to wonder what ‘it’ was, before there was a gurgling hiss from behind me. Even as I twisted to see what it was, yellow foam engulfed me. I had to hand it to them; even though I’d intended to let them talk me down anyway, this was a smarter and more efficient way of getting me from under the hut. It also made my job of pretending to be horrifically traumatised somewhat easier.

    They dragged me from under the cabin, then used something to dissolve the foam around my hand so they could disarm me. I let them go ahead and do this with only a token show of resistance. Once the rest of the foam had been dissolved, I climbed to my feet and stood there, silently staring at them. “Go ahead,” I said. “Kill me. You killed everyone else. I watched you.” I tilted my head back, exposing my throat. “Finish the job.”

    As hardened as the PRT troopers seemed to be, they flinched at my words. One stepped forward, his hands up in an unthreatening fashion. “We’re not going to kill you,” he said. “We’re here to help. You’re the one who made the phone call?”

    I nodded, very slightly. “Prove you’re not the Nine,” I said. “You could be wearing those uniforms to trick me before you kill me. Jack Slash and Shatterbird pretended to be camp counsellors.” I pointed at Tracer. “I think he’s Mannequin.”

    “What?” If I was in the habit of expressing humour, Tracer’s outraged voice would’ve made me chuckle, at least a bit. “I’m not Mannequin! Tell her I’m not Mannequin!”

    “It’s like you said,” the PRT soldier told him. I could definitely hear the grin in his voice. “She’s having trouble seeing anyone as non-hostile.” He reached up and undid a latch, letting his faceplate swing upward. “See?” he asked. “I’m not Jack Slash, or any one of the Nine. My name’s Lieutenant Forbes, and we’re here to rescue you.”

    “Oh.” I still wasn’t showing any emotion; that is to say, my natural state of affairs. “I need to have a shower.”

    “Sure thing,” Forbes replied, readily enough. “Sergeant LaSalle, front and centre!”

    As he lowered his faceplate once more, a trooper who was even wider than him in the shoulders (though not quite as tall) trotted over to us. “Sir!” she reported in a voice that was definitely female.

    “Escort the young lady to the showers, and bring her back here when she’s finished.” Forbes nodded to me. “Sergeant LaSalle will protect you.”

    “Oh,” I said again. “Thank you.”

    <><>​

    It turned out that fooling them was pretty easy with the assistance of my blue field. It even made LaSalle gullible enough to hand my new clothes in to me after I’d finished scrubbing off what I could of the foam residue. I transferred my weapons to their new hiding places, stuck the machete in the new pack (the handle just barely fit inside) and went out to greet my rescuers.

    When Forbes asked me what happened, I told them I’d run and hidden when the Nine first showed up. I gave him a version of the truth about the gauntlet Jack Slash had set the kids, only I made out that nobody won, even the one kid who made it to the flagpole.

    After the Nine left (I said) I’d sneaked out to make the phone call for help, then I’d gotten scared that the Nine would know I’d called and come back, so I got a knife and hid. I told them that I didn’t know why they’d torched the cabins or wrecked the pool.

    By the end of this, I was feeling fairly wrung out; maintaining the blue field to cover for any slips was more effort than I’d counted on. But I managed it, and remembered to ask them not to tell the news organisations who I was. The last thing I wanted was to be famous, after all.

    Lieutenant Forbes gravely agreed that it would be better for my safety if word never got out that Jack Slash missed a victim. I would be discreetly transported back to Brockton Bay by the PRT, and reunited with my family. With time and therapy, he said, I would probably be back to normal in no time.

    I had other plans.

    <><>​

    Five Days Later

    “Ballet, horseback riding, modeling classes or violin. Pick one, Emma. One.

    Emma smirked at her father’s long-suffering voice from the driver’s seat of the car, then grinned at me. Surreptitiously, she mimed reeling in a fish, then cleared her throat. When she spoke, her voice was pure innocence. “Or, or, or, maybe …”

    I interrupted her, raising my voice to speak over her. “Mr Barnes, I think that was a wrong turn.” We were now driving down a narrow one-way street, the type that delivery trucks trundle down.

    “It’s a short-cut, Taylor.” He spoke much more gently with me than with Emma, as if I needed to be coddled. Which he thought was the case, and I wasn’t really about to disabuse him of the notion. So long as they thought of me as a ‘victim’, it would shape their perceptions of me. “It’s perfectly safe.”

    “No, it’s not.” I pointed ahead, through the windshield. “There’s a dumpster in the way.” I had my backpack on the floor between my feet, and I leaned over and reached right down to the bottom for my trusty piece of iron bar. As I slid it into my sleeve, Emma turned and looked over her shoulder. “There’s a van behind us!”

    This surprised me not in the least. Ever since I’d spotted the dumpster, I’d expected something like this. Straightening up in my seat, I turned to look. Teenagers were getting out of the van. They wore red and green gang colours. “Huh. ABB. I didn’t see any tags around here.”

    “Girls, you’d better hang on.” But Alan Barnes didn’t ram the dumpster. Instead, he rolled up to it and tried to nudge it out of the way with the car’s bumper. Predictably, it didn’t budge.

    “Mr Barnes,” I said. “Back up, now. Floor it. If you can push the van back into the street, we’re free and clear.”

    “I can’t run them over!” he protested. As I pulled the switchblade from my pocket, I glanced back again. The little shits were running after us. We weren’t going to have a second chance to ram the dumpster.

    “Daaad …” Emma had a high-pitched note of fear in her voice.

    “We’ll be all right.” But he sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than her. “Call 9-1-1. Call the cops, now.”

    The first guy came up on the right. He swung something heavy and Emma screamed as her window shattered. The safety glass didn’t cut her, which was my only real issue. As he reached in to grasp her by the hair, I popped the switchblade and swung it in a short arc, stabbing it through his hand and into the metal of the door. His scream was even higher-pitched than Emma’s.

    “Get down, Emma!” I snapped, pushing her to the floor. Yanking at the handle, I opened the door and scrambled out past her. The clasp-knife was ready to my hand and I pulled the blade open while the first asshole was still screeching and flailing with his hand nailed to Mr Barnes’ car. Then I let the iron bar drop out into my other hand.

    “What the fuck?” blurted the second one to reach the car. A blade snicked open and he swung at me, but I stopped short to let it go by. Then I swung with my bar at his wrist and heard the meaty crack that says someone’s gonna be left-handed for the foreseeable future. Just to really fuck up his afternoon, I slashed with the knife and took two fingers off of his left hand as well. Brute-level strength was awesome. Then I kicked him in the crotch, also with Brute strength. After all, why let it go to waste?

    Which reminded me. I linked the white bubble to the grey field and pushed it out, just to make sure that any ABB capes that showed up wouldn’t have powers to go along with their shitty attitudes. And then I turned to the rest of the ABB punks and smiled. What with the extra two inches of mouth, the coaching Riley had given me on how to seem more insane than I was and the high-pitched giggle I gave them, I was pretty damn creepy.

    As number one finally wrenched his hand free of the switchblade (blood spraying everywhere) and number two collapsed in his own personal universe of please-let-me-die, I observed the effect my preparations had on the ABB. With my head tilted forward and eyes opened wide, I could observe them from under my eyebrows and instil the impression that I had very personal (and very painful) plans for each and every one of them.

    Which I did, but it was so useful to be able to project that kind of thing.

    I took a step forward and giggled again, this time in a masculine basso. At this point, the guy with the bleeding hand tried to stab me in the back with my own switchblade. In fact, he made it all the way through my hoodie and shirt before my skin stopped it. I made sure he didn’t have a chance for a second attempt, by backhanding him into the brick wall. In all honesty, he was lucky; after all, I could’ve taken his head off with the clasp-knife or the iron bar (same end result, one was just a little messier than the other). But if I was going to turn down Jack Slash as a first kill, then some no-name ABB punk definitely wasn’t going to make the grade.

    “Who’s next?” I asked, Riley’s modifications making my voice into a little girl’s. The giggle seemed to be really paying off in spades, as was the enhanced smile. It was a pity that it was still light out, or I would’ve been able to use the other thing Riley had given me.

    Still, it was definitely enough. The girl broke first. Letting out a high-pitched shriek, she ran off down the alleyway. I got in among the rest of them and started swinging, trying to make sure I did less than lethal damage. Several broken bones and a couple of shallow but painful cuts later, they came to the same conclusion as the girl. Limping, staggering, supporting each other, they retreated down the alleyway. Two were left behind, and I looked down at them, wondering exactly how best to make an example of them that they’d still survive.

    A hand fell on my shoulder. “That was—”

    Adrenaline flared in my gut. There was someone behind me. Someone had managed to sneak up on me without making a sound, which made them competent, which in turn made them dangerous as fuck. I didn't recognise the voice, which meant it wasn't a friend. I turned and stabbed, all in the same motion.

    It was a girl about my height, wearing a black-painted hockey mask and a cloak. Whatever she was using for body armour slowed the knife down, but only for a moment before my enhanced strength punched it through. I saw her eyes behind the mask, watched them go wide as the clasp-knife went in to its full length. She pawed at my hand for a second, then fell backward as I let the knife go. Flopping to the ground, she arched her back weakly a couple of times, grasping feebly at the handle of the clasp-knife, gasping for breath that she just couldn’t seem to draw in. I wasn’t surprised; while assisting Riley with her surgeries, she’d shown me where the diaphragm was, and explained how useful it was to the act of breathing. It appeared I’d nailed it on the first try.

    “Taylor, my god!” Emma put her hand to her mouth as she stared at the two unconscious gangers, as well as the dying girl. “What have you done?”

    “She shouldn’t have come up behind me without announcing herself.” It made sense to me. “Sucks to be her. I mean, she’s gotta be a villain if she’s gonna dress like that, right?”

    “She’s not a villain!” Huh. Oh, well. Emma was always a bigger cape geek than me. “That’s Shadow Stalker! She’s a hero!”

    Which put her in a weird place if she was going to be my first kill. I would’ve been okay with offing a villain—they usually had it coming—but killing a hero who’d been stupid enough to come up behind me? Not exactly what I’d been looking for. Still, if she was going to die anyway …

    “Okay,” I said. “I’ll just put that knife in this guy’s hand over here, and he goes down for stabbing her.” I turned to Emma. “I mean, killing someone doesn’t count as murder if it’s the wrong person, right?”

    “Yes, it does!” She was getting right in my face. This was totally unlike Emma. “What’s gotten into you?” she demanded before I could ask the very same question. “You were always a bit weird, but since they cancelled your summer camp you’ve been smiling a bit funny when you thought I wasn’t watching.”

    Huh. I’d thought I was more careful with practising the smile than that. At least the PRT’s cover story about a ‘cancelled’ camp was holding up. But hey, this was as good a time to tell her as any. “Nothing, really.” I decided not to tell Emma about Jack Slash being my biological father, at least until she calmed down. “So, we’re cool?”

    “No, we’re not cool!” She turned to her father. “Dad, help me get Shadow Stalker into the car! We need to get her to the hospital!”

    Wow, really? They were going to try to save her? On the one hand, it meant I didn’t have to worry about having an idiot for my first kill. On the other, this was getting tedious. “Don’t bother. She’ll die before you get there.” I knelt beside Shadow Stalker and rummaged through her utility belt. Two phones, neither one of interest to me, so I dropped them on the ground beside me. A pack of aspirin, which she didn’t want right now, aspirin being a blood thinner. A tiny first-aid kit with a folded bandage. I pulled the knife out, wedged my fingers into the slit I’d made in the body armour and heaved, tearing it wider. Pushing the bandage on to the cut, I grabbed Emma’s hands and placed them on top. “Hold that there and press down hard. Mr Barnes, can you do chest compressions?”

    “It’s been a long time since I did a first aid course, but I think I still remember how.” He looked down at me as if he wasn’t sure whether to shout at me or thank me for helping the idiot in black.

    “Yeah, do that thing. You might want to call the paramedics too. The way I stabbed her, she’d never make it to the hospital.” I got up to make way for him. “Anyway, I think I’ll go home now.”

    “I don’t care what you do!” Emma yelled over her shoulder as she pressed the bandage hard on to Shadow Stalker’s torso. “Just go away! Forever!”

    "Wow, overreaction much? Stab one idiot vigilante and suddenly I'm the worst person in the world." I wiped off the knife and folded it, trying to figure out where Emma’s head was at. She was usually pretty chill with whatever I did. This hostility was totally out of left field. I didn’t get it. She liked slasher movies just as much as I did, probably more, but she watched them for the jump scares. I tended to see them more as a cross between a comedy and a slapdash ‘how-to’ manual, with a lot of unnecessary screaming and human interaction thrown in, than actual entertainment. You don’t enjoy things like that; you just watch them.

    I suddenly realised what the problem was. This was like when Riley was going to take a sample of my brain to fix Jack Slash. They just couldn’t see why acting like this was a bad idea. Linking the white bubble to the blue bubble, I pushed it out to encompass them both. “Guys, you’re being unreasonable about this. I just did it to save you. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make a big thing about it.” As I said this, I pushed hard on the field to make it as blue as I could.

    Mr Barnes sighed as he started the chest compressions. Right now, he was using one hand because he was dialling his phone with the other. Really, he was taking this a lot better than Emma, even if I didn’t understand why she was taking it so badly. “Taylor, I’m sorry, but I think you’d better go. We’ll get help for Shadow Stalker, and we won’t tell anyone who did this.” He looked to Emma. “That’s right, isn’t it?”

    Emma gave me a dirty look. “Sure, but I don’t think we can be friends any more.”

    I shrugged. “Sure, no problems. See you around.” Leaning into the car, I retrieved my pack. The nearest bus stop wasn’t too far away, and I figured I had enough for the fare.

    As I strolled off down the alleyway, I wondered how long it would take Emma to get over whatever it was that was bothering her.


    End of Part Six

    Part Seven
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    Envy34, buffog, Agent115 and 33 others like this.
  27. doomlord9

    doomlord9 Experienced.

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    Huh....sooooo romantic stalker Sophia soon?
     
  28. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    For extremely specific definitions of the words 'romantic' and 'stalker', sure :p
     
  29. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Aw. I had hoped Emma would imprint on Taylor this time around.
     
  30. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Nah, that's boring :p

    But this time round it won't be Being Taylor is Suffering.
    It'll be Being Taylor is Stabbity.
     
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