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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. Doru

    Doru Digimon, Gamer, and Deviant

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    I don't understand how Sophia expected to not get stabbed, and why Emma is freaking out over the fact that Tayor stabbed SS, but not the ABB mooks. No offence but it feels weird to me.

    Edit: It also feels weird that my post was liked seconds after posting. Why is everything so weird!?
     
  2. GiftofLove

    GiftofLove A Gift From The Heart

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    This didn't make sense. I'm just going to assume it's because it's from Taylor's POV, and we missed all of Emma's interactions.

    Like the one to getting sprayed with ganger blood.

    Still, this reaction does not make sense to me. If one of my friends suddenly went Kung Fu stabbity on some dudes trying to drag me out of a car, I'd be high fiving that fucker.

    Why was Taylor doing voices when the Barnes were right there?
     
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  3. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Legendary Biker Gang Idol

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    I'm guessing either
    A) She figured they wouldn't be able to hear her
    B) She assumed she could smooth over anything using her Suggestion Field
    C) She didn't give a fuck

    I'm guessing C, since she also didn't give a fuck about going all Slashy on the mooks in front of them.
     
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  4. Darkarma

    Darkarma Loli Tentacle Slime

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    Or D, who like me, can actually do a few of Taylor's voice abilities without Tinker help. I can pull off being demonic, or Dalek very very easily though it is taxing on one's throat.
     
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  5. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Sophia figured she could ghost out of the way if Taylor went to stab her. In fact, she was counting on making a big show-off scene about it. But power nullification field.

    She stabbed Sophia because she was competent and dangerous, whereas the mooks were just tedious.

    Emma barely got touched by ganger blood, because the door was opened and the blood wasn't spraying that far.

    Emma is allow to be horrified at the level of violence Taylor used, especially after stabbing a hero who was coming in to help, then casually suggested framing a thug for murder instead of you know, choosing to help the hero.

    Yes, it's hypocritical. This is Emma.

    She didn't think they'd make a big thing of it.
     
  6. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Legendary Biker Gang Idol

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    Sociopathic logic. Makes sense.
     
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  7. Daimah

    Daimah Something something

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    Like father like daughter.

    Taylor: Hey! At least I didn't disarm them, as in literally rip out their arms... What, why are you looking at me like that?
     
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  8. Slayer Anderson

    Slayer Anderson Orthodox Heretic

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    ...I really hope that Emma at least has the brains not to attempt to bully Taylor this time around.

    I mean, bullying your ex-friend who's a loner? That's horrible, but you can get away with it.

    Bullying your ex-friend who you saw casually take apart a group of ambushing gangers, successfully knife a cape who's known to be knife-proof, and then express no guilt whatsoever? That's an early, unmarked, grave.
     
  9. Jake

    Jake Not too sore, are you?

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    She's not as clever, streetwise or good at being a Nineties Anti-Hero as she thinks she is.
     
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  10. magic9mushroom

    magic9mushroom BEST END.

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    I don't think Sophia's going to go lovey-dovey over Taylor. Sophia's complex over someone beating her is probably going to outweigh any respect for her competence.

    Regarding Emma's reaction: poor, sheltered souls who aren't psychologically capable of killing things tend to get weirded out when it's demonstrated that someone else doesn't have the same mental blocks they do. For instance, a lot of people react badly when I tell them that I once killed a pest mouse in our house with a pair of tongs. It's part of the abreaction most people have to someone not thinking the same way they do*.

    *For obvious reasons, people who don't think the same way as the majority tend to be broken of this reaction by the time they reach adulthood, because the alternative is complete misanthropy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  11. edale

    edale Versed in the lewd.

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    Or they end up broken of that reaction AND misanthropic.
     
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  12. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

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    Tell me you at least boiled the tongs to sterilize them before using them again.
     
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  13. edale

    edale Versed in the lewd.

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    But then you lose out on all that nice juicy rat flavor!
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra Not too sore, are you?

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    Am I the only one who noticed this little gem?

    Jack's Master power works via the spoken word, and he won't be able to do that for a while. Bets on whether the Nine survives as a team without his constant influence holding them together?
     
  15. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Actually, it works on his power giving him subconscious insight into how to manipulate and fight Capes. There's nothing specific to speaking about it. That said, it isn't like PtV, where if he can't speak it'll start feeding him how to do it with interpretive dance instead; anything that reduces his ability to communicate will reduce his ability to influence.
     
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  16. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Legendary Biker Gang Idol

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    Also not a Master power. It actually falls under Thinker.
     
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  17. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Little bit of Master in there as well. One of the reasons he's survived so long is that other members of the Nine will literally jump in front of a shot for him.
     
  18. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Legendary Biker Gang Idol

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    But he's not actually controlling them with his power. His power just allows him to know how to manipulate them to make them loyal to that extent.
     
  19. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    No, his power is actually doing it. They are extensions of his will, as per WOG.
    https://forums.spacebattles.com/posts/20250752/
     
  20. Threadmarks: Part Seven: Four-Part Harmony
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Prodigal Daughter

    Part Seven: Four-Part Harmony

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

    Taylor

    I got off the bus and strolled the two blocks to home. It was a pleasant walk, giving me time to think over what had happened with the gang and the idiot vigilante in the alleyway. The reasons behind Emma's reaction were still not entirely clear to me, but her behaviour had always been a little weird. It was like there was stuff that she was just unwilling to do, even if it benefited her. I'd read about this stuff called 'morality' and I guessed that must be what they were talking about, but I just couldn't get my head around the concept. Sounded self-defeating to me.

    Emma and I had never clashed on the topic before, probably because I'd never had a real reason to hurt anyone around her. I guess I'd vaguely understood that she wouldn't like it, but I'd never put any thought into the why of it before. Anyway, she'd get over it. It wasn't like I was particularly butt-hurt over her decision to reverse the natural order of things and save Shadow Stalker's life. If she thought she was going to get something out of it, more power to her.

    The fight itself had been … fun. I’d been concentrating too much on not fatally stabbing any of the gang idiots (only to nearly fatally stab the idiot vigilante who snuck up behind me. Which had to be embarrassing, for her) but in the aftermath I felt … happy. Like I’d been walking around with lead weights strapped on to my arms and legs all my life, and now they’d been taken off. I didn’t want to run and dance and burst into song—that was reserved for Disney characters and people in musicals—but I felt as though the sunlight was warmer and the colours were brighter. Definitely something I wanted to do again, sometime. Preferably soon.

    Of course, if I was going to do that, I’d need to do something to conceal my identity. I knew how this worked. It was why capes wore masks. If I went out and performed violence on idiots who got in my face, sooner or later someone I couldn’t get to with my blue field would identify me, and Dad would get in trouble, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at home any more. And I’d feel bad about getting Dad in trouble, of course. But the trouble was, I didn’t want to wear spandex. Bright colours really weren’t me.

    Of course, there were other options. Makeup, for instance. During our makeover sessions, Emma had demonstrated how with just a little effort, she could change her look to a spectacular degree. Not that I was thinking of spending half an hour rouging my cheeks and applying eyeshadow every night before going out to wander the streets in search of trouble to ambush out of a dark alley and bash the crap out of. Something a lot simpler was probably a good idea. Something that could pass as a skintight mask, but couldn’t be pulled off of me, or be shifted to cover my eyes. Still mulling the idea over, I jumped lightly over the rotted step and let myself in through the front door.

    “Taylor!” Dad started up from the sofa. “Are you okay? Alan called, said there’d been a problem!” He started toward me.

    Oh, great. “Did he say exactly what happened?” I asked. If he took this the wrong way, I was gonna have to learn to climb in and out of my window. Being grounded just as I was learning fun stuff like this would really suck.

    “No.” He shook his head. “He said to ask you.”

    Which was perfect for my needs. “Oh, okay,” I said. Rapidly, I thought back over what had happened, and tried to figure what Dad would freak out at and what he’d accept. “Yeah, we were out for a drive, and Mr Barnes took a wrong turn. Some ABB guys trapped us in an alley and broke Emma’s car window. This vigilante called Shadow Stalker showed up. The gangers got the shit kicked out of them and ran for it, but Shadow Stalker got stabbed. Last I saw, Mr Barnes and Emma were giving her first aid. I didn’t want to be there any more so I came home.” Which was all true, for a given definition of ‘true’. It just wasn’t exactly what had happened. I was pretty sure Dad would be happier with this version than with the one that actually had all the facts in the right order. A happy Dad was a Dad who wasn’t trying to ground me.

    It had been hard enough getting him to let me out of the house after the PRT got me back to Brockton Bay. He knew that the Nine had attacked the camp, though he thought I’d managed to run and hide. Mr Barnes had been told the same thing. Yet, because Emma had never been interested in the name of the camp, we were able to tell her that my camp had been cancelled after Camp Puckatawney had been massacred, and she never knew the difference.

    I have no idea why adults always insist that kids should tell the truth all the time. Do they really want to have to deal with this sort of headache all the time? Like the morality thing, it seems self-defeating to me.

    “Oh.” He seemed to deflate a little. “So nobody else got hurt? Did they touch you or Emma?”

    I shrugged slightly. “None of us got hurt. The gangers never laid a hand on me or Emma, though one of the gangers got stabbed through the hand right in front of her. After it was over, she freaked out a bit, but nothing big. I figure she’ll be okay in a day or two.” I expanded my blue field and let it wash over him. “I’m fine, Dad. Nothing to be concerned about.” Which was also true. If I knew anything about adults, it was that I was better off telling him what he wanted to hear rather than what had really happened.

    “Oh, good.” He offered me a weak smile. “I … I just worry, sometimes. If I lost you too …”

    “Trust me, Dad,” I said firmly as I clasped his shoulder. “I’m not going anywhere.” I valued my warm sheets and soft bed way too much. “Just going up for a shower.”

    “Okay. Well, I might as well get supper started.” He nodded toward the kitchen. “How does cannelloni beef sound?”

    “Dunno. Have I eaten it before?” I didn’t really care either way, but it was something Emma had said to her mom once so I’d added it to our normal father-daughter socialisation.

    He snorted. “Three times in the last two weeks.”

    I couldn’t recall any meals he’d made that I hadn’t liked. “Then it sounds good.” I constructed a smile for him then headed upstairs to my bedroom.

    When I got undressed for the shower, I noticed that my sneakers had been splashed with blood, and that there was a spot of it on the back of my hoodie, surrounding a tiny hole. Switchblade. Right. Fortunately, Dad had been as oblivious as ever. Booting up my computer, I did a search for how to remove various stains, including blood. The instructions I got were very detailed, which made me wonder about the secret lives of the people offering them. I decided to get in extra baking soda and vinegar as soon as possible. Depending on how messily people sprayed if I hit an artery—seriously, couldn’t they be a little more careful with their bodily fluids?—I figured I might have to spend time getting the stuff out of my clothes every time I went for a stroll.

    I went along for my shower, humming a tune that almost sounded jaunty. Things were looking up.

    <><>​

    Sophia

    Waking up sucked.

    Waking up in a strange place really sucked.

    Waking up in a hospital bed, with a pain in the middle of your gut, and tubes leading out of your arms, and another tube leading up your nose (and she was pretty sure it went all the way down her throat) sucked so hard it probably had its own event whaddayacallit like those black hole things had.

    And then Sophia turned her head to the side, and saw Miss Militia sitting there reading a book while a nurse fiddled with something at the far end of the room, and she realised that she herself was out of costume and unmasked and holy fuck, the PRT knows who I am! and all the previous suckage was fucking nothing compared to this.

    “Fuck,” she rasped then regretted it, a lot. First, because talking revealed the fact that she had a case of dry-mouth that would make Leviathan give up in disgust. Second, because when she tried to inhale, it made the pain in her gut flare up. She wasn’t quite sure why this was. Looking down at herself was hard when she was already flat on her back, but she was sure it wasn’t good.

    “Oh, good,” said Miss Militia. “You’re awake.” She slotted a bookmark into place and closed the book. “I’d ask you how you were feeling, but I’ve been there a few times myself.” A movement of the scarf over her face indicated that she was maybe smiling, but for all Sophia knew she was blowing a kiss. Her eyes flicked toward the nurse. “Before you ask, you have not been outed. You’re currently wearing a domino mask, and access to this area has been limited.”

    Sophia took a breath; it was still painful, but she knew pain. Pain, she could deal with. “But you looked, didn’t you?” She didn’t care that her voice rasped like a three-packs-a-day smoker’s. “You know who I am.”

    Miss Militia didn’t hesitate, which raised Sophia’s opinion of her a little. “Yes. It’s need to know only, and that list is short. Mainly we did it so that if you passed, we’d know to notify your next of kin. But the doctor assures me that you’re going to make a full recovery.” Most people would’ve beamed at Sophia then, as if passing on amazing news. The older hero merely looked at her expectantly.

    “Can I have some water?” Sophia was definitely thirsty, but the request was also a means to play for time. Whatever had happened to put her in this hospital bed, her memory was proving stubborn about. She needed to know exactly what had happened to her. No; who had happened to her. Someone had nearly killed her, and she wanted the bastard’s home address. But all she had was a blank, except for two things. A pair of ice-blue eyes, colder than the rare winter bursts that tracked all the way down from the North Pole. And a glinting smile, inhumanly wide yet even colder than the eyes. Deep in her mind’s ear, a giggle rang out and she shivered involuntarily.

    “Certainly.” But before Miss Militia could do anything, the nurse came over and picked up Sophia’s wrist to check her pulse. At the same time, Sophia found a thermometer in her mouth. Moments later, the checkup was over, the nurse was gone, and Miss Militia was leaning over her with a squirt bottle in her hand. Carefully, she placed the nozzle between Sophia’s lips and squirted a small amount of water into her mouth. It tasted divine and there was far too little of it, but Sophia wasn’t about to whine.

    Putting the bottle down, Miss Militia turned her steady gaze on Sophia once more. “Do you have any questions?” she asked. Her entire attitude said, I’ve got all day.

    “Did you catch the one who got me?” Sophia hedged. She didn’t want to admit that she was drawing a blank, and any clue might be a vital one.

    “No.” The answer was short and unhelpful, but then Miss Militia went on. “They said she left after she stabbed you.”

    Well, that was something … wait, what? “She?” It had been a girl who stabbed her? Through the heavy padding on her stomach? A moment later, she cursed herself for blurting out the word.

    Miss Militia wasn’t slow on the uptake. “How much do you remember about what happened?” she asked, her eyes intent.

    “Not much,” Sophia admitted reluctantly. “I was on patrol, and I saw a van follow a car into a one-way back street. I remember thinking that it looked like a potential holdup situation, because I’d seen a dumpster across the other end of the street a few minutes before that. But everything after that’s a blur.” Of course, she would’ve stopped to watch the action. If the holdup victims proved they deserved saving, she would’ve kicked some gangland ass. But instead, she got stabbed? Where the fuck had that come from?

    “I’ve seen this before,” Miss Militia noted. “Serious trauma, compounded by mild oxygen starvation to the brain before the paramedics could get to you. Your short term memory of that event was compromised. You might get it back, or you might not.” She paused. “However, I wanted to talk to you about something else.”

    Here it came. “You want me to sign up for the Wards.” Fiercely independent, she considered the Wards to be everything she didn’t want to be. Subject to adult approval, rules and regulations imposed from above; shit, they might even take her crossbow away.

    Miss Militia’s eyes were serious. “I’d like you to at least consider it. Not just because of what happened this time. But because of the other incidents.”

    “What other incidents?” Sophia had never been stabbed before. She’d been cut once or twice, but nothing worse. That was why she wore the heavy padding. And if she saw a gun, she went to shadow straight away. Nothing could touch her then.

    Which brought the question to mind: how had whoever stabbed her actually done it? Why didn’t I ghost around the knife?

    “Where you’ve hurt people.” Miss Militia sat down and leaned in slightly. “There’s concern that you’re pushing the boundaries of acceptable vigilante behaviour. Not quite enough for the PRT or Protectorate to consider bringing you in just yet, but you’re getting a reputation, and it’s not a good one. My personal recommendation is that you either join the Wards, where you’ll get formal training, better equipment and backup for your patrols … or … hang the mask up for a while after you’re recovered and reconsider your options as per Shadow Stalker. Figure out methods and techniques that let you fight crime without hurting people so egregiously.”

    Sophia didn’t know what that last word meant, but she could figure it out from context. “So, either play nice or join your team.” She didn’t sneer the last few words, but it was an effort. Miss Militia was just laying out options, after all. “Do I get a third choice?”

    “Of course.” The older hero leaned back in her chair again. Sophia hadn’t seen where her weapon had been before, but it appeared in her hand as a short-bladed knife that danced across her knuckles in a glittering blur of motion then dissolved in a puff of green-black smoke. “You can always keep going the way you are, with the understanding that you are now on our radar.” It was a fairly effective blend of threat and warning, while not quite being either. “At the end of the day, it’s your choice. Take all the time in the world to think about it. We could do with an effective cape like you in the Wards. But in the meantime, would you like to meet the people who saved your life?”

    “Saved my life?” Taken a little off-guard by the sudden change of subject, Sophia blurted out the words. This was definitely not something she’d expected to hear. People didn’t save her life. She saved other peoples’ lives. The ones who deserved it, of course.

    “That’s what the paramedics said. So was that a yes or a no?” It was hard to tell Miss Militia’s expression behind her scarf, but Sophia got the impression that she thought Sophia should do it.

    She nodded. “I guess.” Whoever they were, they had saved her life, so they’d earned her gratitude. Maybe even her respect.

    “Excellent. Just so you know, Emma held pressure on your wound while Alan gave you chest compressions. Neither of them has seen your face or knows your real name.”

    Which answered that question. Sophia watched as Miss Militia crossed the room and opened the door. An older man with fading red hair and a girl her own age with brighter red hair and striking looks entered. The girl held up her hand and waved, looking almost painfully eager to meet her. “Hi?”

    <><>​

    Emma

    A Few Moments Before

    “We need to talk about what happened.” Despite taking the care to keep his voice down, Emma’s father still glanced up and down the hospital corridor as if worried about being overheard. “About Taylor.”

    Emma rolled her eyes. “Enough about Taylor. I’m done with her. She’s a fucking monster, Dad. Did you see her? Did you hear her?” Emma had done both, and the memory still sent chills through her gut. Before her eyes, her safely dull, boring friend had transformed into a terrifying, wide-eyed giggling maniac. With a metal bar in one hand and a knife in the other—where had she even got those weapons from? Had she been carrying them in the car?—Taylor had single-handedly turned the alley into a bloodbath. The shrieks of pain from the gang members, interspersed with those inhuman little giggles, were going to haunt her dreams for days.

    Emma Barnes was, in her own eyes, an upright, moral person. She didn’t condone cruelty toward animals, and she believed herself to be an authority on all things cape-related. Her father insisted that Taylor had saved them, but saving people was something a hero did, and whatever else heroes did, they didn’t cut people up with knives or break their bones and giggle about it.

    But even with all that, Emma might just barely have been able to overlook the transformation of her nice, safe boring friend into a horror movie slasher. So long as she promised never to do it again (and never slept over again). But then Shadow Stalker had appeared and Taylor had stabbed her! And when heroes accidentally hurt someone, they always turned themselves in to the authorities; it was the way things were done! But Taylor had just … waved it off. Like it wasn’t even her concern.

    When Emma and Taylor had first become friends, it was because Emma saw in Taylor the perfect BFF. In any social situation, Taylor would make Emma even more likeable and charismatic by comparison. She was quiet, she was boring, she was safe, she would never hog the spotlight. Despite a few odd habits—like never laughing ever—she made Emma feel like a superstar every time they went out in public. One of the things she never did was argue with Emma’s points of view. Emma had assumed this meant she either had no opinions worth talking about, or that she agreed wholeheartedly with what Emma said.

    The episode in the alleyway had destroyed that illusion forever. Taylor had not only ignored Emma’s judgement of the situation but had even showed that she held other opinions she just hadn’t bothered airing. It made Emma wonder how long Taylor had been silently mocking her from behind a bland expression.

    Even then, the situation might conceivably been salvaged if Taylor had said just one word to appease Emma. If she’d apologised or done anything to show that she didn’t want things to go the way they were. But she hadn’t. She’d just taken her pack and walked off. Brushed off her guilt for stabbing Shadow Stalker. Worse, she’d brushed off Emma’s absolutely justified anger at her. And if there was one thing Emma Barnes hated, it was being brushed off.

    She wasn’t going to tell anyone Taylor’s darkest secret. Their years of friendship demanded that much respect. Also, her father had impressed on her the sheer blind importance of this. Also also, some small part of her shivered every time she thought of waking up to see Taylor’s ice-blue eyes and too-wide smile—how had she not seen that before?—and gleaming knife-blade, very briefly.

    They were no longer friends. That was a given. The very idea was unthinkable. No matter that she’d saved them, Taylor was a villain now, and there was no way Emma could be friends with a villain. Especially one who giggled while she cut people up. And if Emma was going to be a model—she had the looks, she just knew it—the optics of her being friends with a villain like that, however unlikely this was to come out, would utterly ruin her career if it ever became known.

    So Emma needed new, cool friends. New, cool friends who (if she were to be honest with herself) might just help protect her from a certain giggling maniac with a knife, if it ever became necessary. Not that she’d ever said this specifically to her father. ‘I want to visit her and see how she’s doing’ sounded more … humanitarian.

    But heroes were cool. Heroes were powerful. And heroes protected people from villains.

    The door opened, and Miss Militia ushered them in. Emma stepped into the hospital room and looked at the bed.

    Shadow Stalker looked different from this angle. It wasn’t just the missing costume or the domino mask. It was … everything. The medical paraphernalia, the hospital bed, the bandaged wound. Everything made her look more human. More approachable. Emma gave Shadow Stalker a little fingertip wave. “Hi?” She’d had this girl’s blood on her hands, pressing down on the wound while her father pushed life-giving air into Shadow Stalker’s lungs. It was an odd feeling.

    “Hi.” Shadow Stalker made a tiny effort to sit up, then winced. “I hear you guys saved my life. Thanks.”

    Miss Militia found a control that let the bed angle upward. It whirred upward until Shadow Stalker could look comfortably at them, then she stepped backward out of the conversation.

    “It was the very least we could do,” Emma’s dad said. “We couldn’t just let you die, after all.”

    “Yeah!” blurted Emma. She needed to be a part of this conversation. Shadow Stalker needed to know that she was there, instead of just lurking in the background …

    like Taylor used to do …

    With a shudder, she dismissed that imagery. She was nothing like Taylor!

    Shadow Stalker was looking at her keenly. “You okay?” she rasped.

    Emma forced a smile on to her face. “Yeah. It’s all just a lot to take in at once, you know? I mean, being saved by a superhero, saving the life of a superhero, getting to meet you in person …” She trailed off, not quite sure where she was going with this.

    The vigilante’s eyes came fully awake, attentive. “I saved you.” It was almost a question.

    Emma’s dad gave her a firm sideways glance, and Emma wilted slightly. She’d pushed too hard and too fast with the praise. “Well, you were there,” she amended. “You would definitely have saved us if that other girl hadn’t been there.” Ruthlessly, she crushed the tiny thread of guilt at referring to Taylor as ‘that other girl’.

    “What other girl?”

    Emma blinked. Of all the questions she’d expected, that wasn’t one of them. Did Shadow Stalker not recall what had happened? “The one who stabbed you. She was out of control. A monster. A maniac. She was giggling as she cut them. I think she was going to kill the last two, and you showed up, and she just … stabbed you. Then she just … left. Like she hadn’t done anything wrong. Like it was no big deal.”

    Something shifted behind Shadow Stalker’s eyes and she grunted as though she’d taken a body blow. “I remember. I think. Tall girl, dark hair? Blue eyes? Some kind of stick in her other hand?”

    “I think it was an iron bar, yeah,” Emma said. “Did you get a good look at her? Dad and me didn’t. We didn’t get out of the car till it was all over.” It was one of the things he’d impressed on her to say.

    After a long moment, Shadow Stalker shook her head regretfully. “I … no. Just the eyes. And that goddamn smile. And being stabbed.” She frowned. “How did she stab me? It shouldn’t have been possible.”

    If Shadow Stalker didn’t know, then Emma definitely didn’t know. “Took you by surprise?” Shadow Stalker had certainly seemed surprised at the time.

    “No.” Shadow Stalker shook her head again, but the surety in her expression seemed to be wavering. “No, I … I don’t think that’s it.” She bit her lip. “I can go to shadow really fast, especially if I’m being attacked. And I was wearing padding. A knife shouldn’t have been able to injure me so badly, not with a single stab.”

    The silence that followed was a little uncomfortable, until her dad cleared his throat. “Well, we’d just like to say that we’re grateful you came to our aid.”

    “Yeah,” Emma said, glad for the change in subject. “Who knows what she would’ve done if you hadn’t shown up.” She stepped forward and took Shadow Stalker’s hand in hers. “Listen, if you ever want to chat or hang out or whatever, we can do that. I’m Emma, by the way.”

    “Yeah, I know.” Shadow Stalker glanced at Miss Militia, then seemed to come to a decision. Some kind of unspoken communication passed between them, and Miss Militia moved to stand in front of the door. Careful not to pull out the tubes attached to her other hand, Shadow Stalker reached up to where the domino mask covered the top half of her face. It took her two tries to unstick it, then she peeled it off of her face. “Hi,” she said raspily. “I’m Sophia. It’s good to meet you.”

    And all Emma could think was eeeeee a superhero unmasked to me!

    <><>​

    Miss Militia

    Hannah sat at her laptop in the Protectorate base. The standard opening lines for a PRT report stared back at her, requiring her only to put in the information to make it official.

    Spoke with subject SHADOW STALKER in hospital room, she typed. Subject as yet unreceptive to the idea of joining the Wards, but in my opinion not entirely set against it. Subjects ALAN BARNES and EMMA BARNES visited SHADOW STALKER in hospital. SHADOW STALKER formed rapport with EMMA BARNES to the point of unmasking to her and ALAN BARNES. Potential point of leverage there; subject ALAN BARNES is a lawyer who may be made to see the benefits to SHADOW STALKER in joining the Wards.

    No further information about fourth person in alleyway.

    Recommendations:

    1) Observation of SHADOW STALKER but no further attempts to recruit unless situation changes.

    2) Discreet communication with ALAN BARNES regarding having him encourage SHADOW STALKER to join the Wards.

    She paused, frowning. It looked as though there was yet another unbalanced cape in Brockton Bay. If the fourth person was even a cape; it was possible, though unlikely, that she was just someone who’d been pushed off the rails for any one of a dozen reasons in the last two months. This was Brockton Bay, after all.

    3) Open file on potential rogue cape, code name JESTER. Described as tall, skinny, white female. Apparent favoured weapons a knife and a metal bar. Potential Brute, potential combat Thinker. Stabbed subject SHADOW STALKER through light body armour, despite latter’s phasing ability. Tinkertech weaponry? Giggles during combat. Possibly emotionally unstable. If/when contacted, psych eval very strongly recommended.

    She sighed and sent the report away. It would be nice if Brockton Bay made more sense at the end of the day, even once.

    <><>​

    Taylor

    I huffed in through the back door and deposited my burden on the kitchen table with a thump. It wasn’t that it was overly heavy (at least to me) but after a while it got tiring to carry. Still, I’d gotten all I wanted to get, so I was satisfied.

    “Taylor, is that you?” I heard Dad get up from the living room couch, so I hastily hid the plastic tub on one of the chairs. When he got to the doorway, I was carrying the gallon bottle and the large carton to the cupboard under the sink.

    “Yeah, hi,” I said. “Just thought I’d get some supplies in on my way home from school.” Nonchalance was pretty easy for me. I rarely expressed emotion at the best of times.

    “White vinegar and baking soda?” he asked, coming over to where I was standing. “Wow, are you planning to clean the whole house out?”

    With a tiny sigh, I expanded the blue field to cover him. It probably wasn’t even necessary, but I didn’t want an argument that would stick in his memory. “No, but we were running a little low, and it’s good to buy in bulk.”

    “Huh, true.” He turned and wandered back into the living room as I let the blue field drop. “I’ll be starting dinner in half an hour. Do you have any preferences?”

    “Um, cannoli?” I seemed to recall he’d made that not long ago. It hadn’t been bad.

    “If you mean cannelloni beef, sure,” he said. I heard him sit down on the couch once more.

    “I’m just heading up to my room,” I told him, retrieving the plastic tub from the chair. “I’ve got homework to do.”

    A grunt was all the reply I got, so I snuck the tub past the door into the living room and went along the entrance hall before trotting up the stairs. Once I was in my room with the door shut and locked, I took the large plastic tub and unscrewed the lid. A smooth glistening white expanse looked back at me. It had cost more than a few dollars at a theatrical makeup outlet, but the amount was definitely worth it.

    Pushing back my hair, I sat in front of the mirror and took a glob of the stuff on my fingers. It went on easily, feeling cool against my skin. Sweeping my fingertips across my face, I transformed myself from plain ordinary Taylor Hebert to … I didn’t know what. When I was finished, a pure white visage stared back at me, framed by dark curls. I frowned at my hair. Maybe I could do something about that, too. I’d seen wigs in the theatrical shop, or perhaps a washable dye. But I’d deal with that later.

    I grinned at myself in the mirror, then smiled, showing my teeth. Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m looking for. The dead-white appearance was perfect. There was a reason mimes creeped some people out.

    But I wasn’t going for the mime look. From the back of my sock drawer, I retrieved the container Riley had given me. Opening it, I wet the tip of my finger then used it to pick up a coating of the faintly purple powder. Pulling my lips back from my teeth, I scrubbed my fingertip over the enamel surfaces, then ran it along my lips. After that, I took another tiny sample of the powder and braced myself, then touched it to each eyeball in turn. It tingled a little, but a few blinks took care of that. The faint grittiness dissolved into nothing as I rolled my eyes around behind closed lids. Then I closed the container and pulled the curtains. They were heavy curtains and with the light off, it was quite dim in the room. As I moved back to the mirror, details around the room became more clear, fading into focus out of the darkness. Placing myself in front of the mirror, I smiled.

    My teeth glimmered with an eerie phosphorescence in the darkness, while my lips glowed the colour of blood. My eyes reversed the pattern in part; the sclera were now a deep black (though my irises and somehow my pupils were now glowing, the latter a deep red), framed in blood-red by the edges of my eyelids.

    Riley had explained this to me. The powder was actually an encapsulated micro-organism that woke up and started producing phosphorescence in the presence of saliva (my saliva. Anyone else stupid enough to put this stuff in their mouth would go into convulsions and die horribly, with a big grin on their face). In addition, it changed the colour of the whites of my eyes and supercharged my retinas so they gathered more light when there wasn’t enough to go around (and because Riley was Riley, made them glow at the same time). In the process, it turned me from ‘creepy skinny girl’ to ‘what the fuck is that?’. She’d assured me that any kind of mouthwash or medicated eyedrops would bring things back to normal.

    My smile widened. Brockton Bay was full of people who thought they were scary. Wait till they get a load of me.


    End of Part Seven

    Part Eight
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
  21. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Legendary Biker Gang Idol

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    ...I'm gonna stop arguing because the Wormverse is way too confusing for me. I'll just trust that you know way more about it than me.
     
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  22. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Eh, IMO it's kind of an asspull.
     
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  23. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Legendary Biker Gang Idol

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    Well, we are talking about Wildbow here.
     
  24. Xyshuryn

    Xyshuryn Holder of Hands

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    I almost feel sorry for Brockton Bay now. Creepy Taylor is Creepy. That said, I'm going to be anticipating the next chapter like an addict anticipates their next fix.

    This has the potential to go from a "Grab the popcorn!" story, to a "Fight Night Party Platter!" story if it makes it to 100K words. Very entertaining.
     
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  25. Extras: Imagery
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Just to note: I created this image in HeroMachine. It's not 100% accurate, but it's a close approximation.

    https://imgur.com/mRBHiOc
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  26. GiftofLove

    GiftofLove A Gift From The Heart

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    Oh yeah, that's right, people don't generally just start being self-serving assholes after they experience trauma. Most of the time that's how they already are. The trauma just makes it worse, or gives them an excuse.

    Not bad, Ack. Good Emma right there.

    I'm guessing that Taylor's micro organism colony can be fed and they'll repopulate? Otherwise it's probably not going to last long and she has no way to get more.

    Oh, I think it might be interesting if the little buggers behaved like a fungus. After they kill the non-taylor host, they starting eating the host and sprouting cordyceps-like growths to spread more spores. That seems like the kind of crazy Riley would enjoy.
     
  27. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    She's got quite a few, and she'll be getting into contact with Riley when she starts running low.
     
  28. Zentari2238

    Zentari2238 I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Close approximation, you say?
    *Clicks image*
    GAH! Kill it with fire!!
     
  29. doomlord9

    doomlord9 Experienced.

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    I'm rather surprised that it's not self sustaining. Something as simple as "fill to this line with a mixture of milk, yeast, and protein powder, shake well, then let sit for 2 hours to restock" seems like it would be easy since it's a living organism in the first place.
     
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  30. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    ... that could also work :p
     
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