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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. edale

    edale Versed in the lewd.

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    Taylor: "What are you doing here?"

    Jack: "Oh, just wandering through, but as long as we're here..."

    Taylor: "I won our bet, I'm not joining your group of murderhobos."

    Jack: "But muffin!"
     
  2. Malcanthet

    Malcanthet Shy Adorable Arachne

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    Actually Ack wouldn't the PRT be keeping a semi close eye on Taylor because she lived through a S9 attack?
     
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  3. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Different branch of the PRT. And she did the really smart thing of hiding and staying hidden (so they think).

    She hasn't shown any powers, and they told her to get therapy (but they can't enforce that either).

    At some point, they've got to turn their attention to more important matters. Like basically anything else.

    Taylor: "The first time I stabbed you in the brain, it was an accident. The second time won't be."

    Jack: (smugly) "My dear Bonesaw has toughened me up considerably since then."

    Taylor: "So, should I take that as a challenge?"

    Crawler starts taking bets, as Riley facepalms.
     
  4. edale

    edale Versed in the lewd.

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    Escalation intensifies.
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Part Eight: First Foray
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Prodigal Daughter

    Part Eight: First Foray


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


    Outside an Empire Eighty-Eight Stash House

    Frankie "Hard" Knox had just one job, and he was good at it.

    He’d played college ball once upon a time (before he was kicked out of college) and he was still a big husky guy. With his shaved head and tattoos (neither of which he’d had in college) he could scare the absolute fuck out of anyone who came too close to the stash house when he was on watch. For those who were too stoned to scare, he had a stun-gun. Unlike a lot of his buddies, he didn’t get bored easily, so he could relax all day without falling asleep on watch.

    His buddy Brett'd been in the habit of having a toke or two when it was quiet, and sneaking off for a little shut-eye. He'd warned Brett that one day someone was gonna catch him at it, and then there'd be hell to pay. That 'someone' turned out to be Hookwolf. Brett was still around, but he had a few new scars and he didn't do guard duty anymore.

    So Frankie took his job real serious. He never stayed in the same position for more than fifteen minutes, and he took a little stroll every hour or two. Never out of sight of the steps he was guarding, but far enough to get the blood flowing again.

    Mitch, his usual partner on this shift, was less full-on about the whole thing. But then, Frankie didn't like him. To be fair, Mitch was a bit of an asshole. He was also fifty pounds heavier than Frankie and a fuck-ton dumber, and Frankie was almost sure he’d once seen Mitch coming out of one of the brothels the ABB used to operate. In any case, Mitch hadn't been there to see Hookwolf drag Brett into the alleyway behind the stash house and beat him bloody. Frankie could still remember the look in his buddy's eyes when he realised just how fucked he was.

    Which was why, when the teenage girl came wandering along the street, Frankie was the first one on his feet. She was maybe a tall fourteen or a skinny sixteen, but either way she was walking up to the wrong innocent-looking house that just coincidentally had two guys with shaved heads and Empire ink lounging out front. The thought struck him that she might be actively looking for the Empire, maybe to join. It wasn't a great move on her part, but understandable. With all the shit going down in the Bay these days, a body needed all the backup they could scrounge.

    Still, this was the wrong way to go about it. Recruiting happened in schools (mainly Winslow because duh), video arcades and other places kids got together to do whatever kids did these days. He wasn't totally sure about the video arcades thing, but they'd been around in his annoying-little-shit days.

    Walking up to a couple of Empire guys who were obviously on lookout duty wasn't the smartest thing to do but she probably didn't know any better, and he didn't really want to scare her off joining the Empire altogether. So he got up and moved a couple of steps toward her, the better to dispense a quiet word of warning and send her on her way.

    She was definitely a skinny little thing, he noted absently as she got closer. Her shapeless grey hoodie was about three sizes too big; the hood had been pulled all the way up and over her head so her face was in shadow, while her hands were shoved deep in the pockets. A backpack hung off of one shoulder. Long dark curly hair hanging down out of the hood made for the only real detail he could see. The jeans she was wearing would've been tight on anyone else but hung baggily on her. Scuffed sneakers bore stains that he couldn't even begin to identify. It all added up to a picture of someone who was low on options. Perfect Empire material, in other words. So long as she was white, of course.

    “Hey, kid.” He didn't put on his usual scare-them-shitless act because she was just a kid. And while he didn't have any brats of his own—none that his girlfriends had ever admitted to, anyway—he did his best to put on a fatherly tone anyway. “This isn't a good place to be. Whyn’t you head on home? I bet your dad’s wondering where you are.”

    “Fuck her old man.” Mitch lumbered up behind him. “Bitch thinks she’s good enough to be out here, she can party with us.” His hand gestured toward his pocket. “Got something here that'll make her feel real good, but she’s gotta pay for it. So whaddaya say, girl? A little blow for a little blow?”

    “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Mitch,” groaned Frankie. “Don’t be such a goddamn pervert. She's about ten, for Chrissake.” Any doubts about how much of a sick fuck Mitch was, were now long gone. Just for a moment, he was tempted to pull the stun-gun out of his pocket and give the asshole a dose.

    “Fuck you and the whore you rode in on,” Mitch retorted crudely. “If you’re too chickenshit to get some when it's on offer, not my fault.”

    “But it's not—” There was an abrupt movement out of the corner of Frankie's eye. He was suddenly very aware that he'd taken his attention off the girl when Mitch started his shit. Turning back toward the girl, he caught a blurred impression of a pure-white face with a too-wide smile, then a Mack truck collided with his jaw. He didn't go out like a light—he’d earned his nickname the hard way—but his knees went all rubbery and he collapsed to the grimy sidewalk. His eyes were still open though everything was all fuzzy, like he was looking at it through water or something. It had been years since his bell had been so thoroughly rung, and he hadn't gotten any better at handling it.

    He was still groggily wondering how a twig like her could hit like that when she answered the question. Using a short iron bar, she swung in at Mitch’s knee. There was a sickening crack, and Mitch began to go down as the leg folded under him. The big guy was just opening his mouth to scream, his hand reaching toward the girl, when the iron bar blurred again. This time it was Mitch’s wrist that broke like a twig. Mitch finally got his breath, and was half a second into a high-pitched wail of pain when the iron bar came back and smashed his jaw. Four seconds after the girl started moving, the oversized asshole was on the ground, out cold.

    As the girl turned back to Frankie, she slid the iron bar up into her sleeve. "I'm guessing you're the smart one," she said in a high-pitched child's voice, ending with a deranged-sounding giggle. "I want to talk to you."

    He was vaguely aware that normally he wouldn't be saying shit to anyone who'd just come up and smacked him down like that. But he had to admit, she'd pulled off a masterful ambush on him and Mitch, playing on their expectations to a fare-thee-well. Also, she'd called him smart. It was nice to have his talents recognised like that. Finally, she'd only hit him hard enough to ring his bell, but she'd put Mitch down like Hookwolf would’ve, only with more broken bones and less blood. He hadn't liked Mitch already, and the guy’s performance from before had just been totally wrong on so many levels. The more he thought about it, the more he liked her style.

    Even with all that, he still wouldn't have said a word to her, except for the implicit threat of the iron bar, and the certain knowledge that she was willing to break bones to get what she wanted. Telling him he was the smart one was just another way of asking him if he was going to be smart about this.

    If he got crippled for holding out, he asked himself, would Othala help him get back on his feet?

    Probably not, he decided.

    Fuck it. It's not worth it.

    "What do you want to talk about?" he asked.

    If anything, her creepily wide smile got wider. "Your future." She leaned closer, and he saw with a shiver of visceral terror that her eyes were just blue irises surrounding a glowing red pupil, dancing in red-rimmed blackness. This wasn’t a mask, and it wasn’t trick contact lenses.

    That was when he heard the click. Glancing down, he realised that she’d pulled out a big-ass clasp-knife and unfolded the blade while he wasn’t looking. It looked really, really sharp. The tip was less than an inch from the fly of his jeans. “Please don’t kill me,” he whimpered. There was no shame in begging, he decided, if it kept you alive.

    “Well, that depends,” she breathed. “I’ve got a choice for you. One, you can get out of town, right now, or I will kill you the next time I see you. Two, you can try to stop me from going in there.” She didn’t explain the penalty for doing that, but another deranged-sounding giggle made his everything clench up. “Three … you can work for me.”

    He was certain he’d heard her wrongly. “What? Work … for you?”

    She nodded earnestly. “If I’m going to do things right, I need minions. You’re my first.”

    It sounded ridiculous. This was definitely the most bizarre recruitment he’d ever heard of. And yet …

    And yet, she’d taken Mitch down without hesitation but she was offering him a job. He couldn’t believe that he was actually considering this … and yet he was. “Uh … what’s the pay like?” he asked, playing for time so he could get his head together.

    “Half,” she said simply.

    “Half …?” He wasn’t sure what she meant.

    “Your second job will be to tell me all about your ex-boss and this stash house,” she explained, as if it made perfect sense. “Your pay’s half the money that’s in there, or however much you can carry.”

    Frankie didn’t know how much money was in the stash house, but he knew it was more than he’d see in a year. And she was offering him half …

    Fuck it. Right now, he was more terrified of her than he was of Kaiser. Hell, even Hookwolf wasn’t this pants-shittingly scary. (Of course, it helped that Hookwolf didn’t giggle while waving a blade near his junk).

    And yes, the money was a really big plus.

    Taking a deep breath, he began to talk.

    <><>​

    Taylor

    I dropped my blue field halfway through Frankie’s spiel, and he never paused. It took him several minutes to finish giving me the information that I wanted, while I listened and made mental notes of what sounded important. When he finished, he looked at me. “Uh, you said that was my ‘second’ job,” he said uncertainly. “What was the first?”

    “Loyalty test,” I said. Flipping the knife up, I caught it by the blade and slapped the handle into his hand. Then I pointed at the bulky guy who’d made the crude comments, who was still lights-out on the pavement. “Finish him off.”

    This was a detail I had to make sure of. Personally, offing someone just to prove myself (even if I meant to betray them later) wouldn’t have bothered me. But most people suffered from that ‘morality’ thing, especially when it came to people they’d associated with.

    In this case, it seemed that either Frankie didn’t have much in the way of morality, or his work partner wasn’t someone that he liked very much. Stooping over the big guy, he pulled the asshole’s head back and slashed the knife across his neck. There was no faking the pool of blood that started forming under the guy almost immediately. After wiping the bloody blade on his victim’s shirt, he straightened up and held out the clasp-knife to me. The loyalty test had been on two levels, of course. If he’d tried to stab me either before or after cutting the other guy’s throat, I would’ve had to give him a failing grade.

    “Thank you,” I said, accepting the weapon with another high-pitched giggle. There was no point in not being polite when someone had just killed for me. It was also important to keep up the act. “You didn’t waste time,” I said, trying to make it sound like I was actually enthusiastic about the murder he’d just carried out.

    He shrugged. “No sense in fucking around. Asshole was a sick puppy. Nobody liked him.”

    I had my answer. Still, most people would have trouble snuffing out the life of a total stranger, much less someone they knew. It seemed Frankie was made of sterner stuff. Of course, this meant that he wouldn’t have any qualms about trying to end me if he ever decided that working for me wasn’t worth the hassle. I decided to keep an eye on Frankie-boy, just in case.

    The next item on the agenda was to actually go in there and get the money. The guys inside weren’t exactly on the ball if they hadn’t heard the (now) dead guy scream a minute ago. Frankie had given me a pretty good word picture of the interior of the stash house, and I had a rough idea of how many people I’d have to deal with. They’d be adult, armed with guns, and they’d be on guard once I kicked things off. Which meant I’d need an edge. Fortunately, I had one ready to hand.

    “Frankie,” I said treating him to a special smile just to make the sweat break out on his forehead, “do you know where the circuit breakers are in the house?”

    <><>​

    Frankie Knox

    “Hall closet,” he said automatically. “Halfway down the hall, on the left.” His heart was hammering in his chest as she turned away. He was a grown man and there he was, almost literally shitting his pants when a teenage girl spoke to him. A horrifically terrifying teenage girl; but a teenage girl none the less.

    When she’d told him to shank Mitch, the first thought that’d gone through his mind was no. Not because killing was particularly repugnant to him—he’d done it before—but because this would be a step he couldn’t come back from. This would bind him to her more strongly than any mere oath. Once upon a time, he’d kicked the living shit out of some homeless black guy to earn his Empire colours, and this was more binding than that would ever be.

    On the other hand, Mitch was a piece of shit and this girl definitely played for keeps. She wasn’t some half-assed player pretending to be something she wasn’t. If I don’t, I’ll probably end up right beside Mitch. And if I do …

    All of this had gone through his mind in a split second, and he’d made his decision. Pulling Mitch’s head back, he slashed the blade across, making sure to get both carotid arteries. And with that, the die had been cast. For good or ill, he was now working for her. Let’s hope she’s as good as she thinks she is.

    “Good boy,” she said in the little-girl voice that sent shivers down his spine. He was profoundly grateful that she didn’t giggle as well this time. It put him in mind of every horror movie he’d ever seen. “Wait out here. I won’t be long.”

    “You don’t want me coming in with you?” The protest was torn from his lips. He didn’t necessarily want to go in, but the very last thing he desired was to have her think he didn’t want to work for her any more. Her pension plan, he suspected, left a lot to be desired.

    “Don’t be silly.” Her voice was light and playful, but the burning eyes were at odds with the creepy-as-fuck smile. “You might get hurt, and I only just got you.”

    Turning away from him, she tucked her hair up into her hood, then climbed the steps to the front door. Dropping her backpack on the top step, she took hold of the door handle. It was unlocked, as he knew it would be. Pulling it open, she stepped inside then shut it behind her. He heard the click as the lock engaged. There was no immediate shout of alarm, which meant nothing really. As a teenage girl, she was able to look harmless right up until the time she started breaking bones.

    Alone in front of the house, Frankie considered his options. He could raise the alarm, right now. Mitch’s death could be blamed on the girl. But if they failed to take her down, he suspected he’d be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. She didn’t look the type to take betrayal well.

    Alternatively, he could make a run for it. He had a bit of cash, and he figured he could make it as far as New York and take up with one of the gangs there. The Empire were bro’s but when it came to giggling maniacs with knives, a line had to be drawn.

    Or … he could stay there and wait for her. She had promised him half the money from the stash house, after all. And who knew? Once he had cash in hand, a few more options might be opened up.

    Despite the fact that he’d been expecting it, he was still a little startled when the lights went out on both floors of the house. Shouts arose here and there, but they sounded more like ‘what the hell?’ type shouts rather than ‘intruder!’ type shouts.

    And then he heard the laughter. It wasn’t the giggling. That made him want to scrub his ears out with bleach and steel wool. This laughter was deep and booming, and he was fucked if he knew who was doing it. A moment later, when he heard the first scream, he got a hint.

    Random thuds and crashes became audible within the house. Interspersed with these were screams and shouts of panic. “What the fuck is that?” or a close variation was something he heard more than once. Once, someone or something fell down the stairs—the thump-thump-thud-thud-thud was unmistakeable—but most of it was a single impact or sound of breakage. And then, of course, she changed up her game and threw someone out the window. It was boarded up, as were half the other ones on the upper floor, but this didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest. Glass shattered and a groaning man hit the asphalt amid clattering boards.

    A moment later, the guy—it was Paulie, one of Hookwolf’s asshole friends—started getting up. Paulie was big, bigger than Frankie. He was also tough as nails, and he was one of the men responsible for discipline in the ranks. As such, he’d beaten up Frankie on more than one occasion. Frankie didn’t realise he’d moved until he was standing in front of Paulie. His leg drew back almost of its own accord, and launched his booted foot into the side of Paulie’s head. Paulie went down again, but Frankie wasn’t finished. Payback, he decided as he drew his boot back again, was sweet.

    <><>​

    “You done?”

    Frankie looked around at the girl, then back down at Paulie’s still form. He’d lost track of the number of times he had kicked the asshole in the face; teeth were scattered across the asphalt and Paulie’s face was no longer recognisable. He wasn’t even sure if the asshole was still breathing. Nor did he care.

    Turning, he headed toward the girl. He’d have to wash the blood off of his boot sometime, but not right now. “Yeah, I’m done. Him and me had history.” He took stock of her, still smiling as creepily as before, and his respect for her rose dramatically. Her hoodie had a few new rips and tears, but apart from that she seemed to have taken down half a dozen of the Empire’s finest with hardly a scratch to show for it.

    She ignored Paulie and turned back toward the front door of the house. “Come on. Time to get paid.” Scooping up her backpack, she led the way back into the house.

    <><>​

    Taylor

    He followed me in, of course. I didn’t know who the guy he’d been kicking was, and I didn’t care. I led the way downstairs to the basement. In deference to the fact that Frankie couldn’t see in the dark, I’d turned the breakers back on, so it was lit with a single yellowing bulb. Sprawled on the floor in front of a metal cabinet was a guy I’d had to hit half a dozen time before he went down. In the cabinet, behind a lock that I’d already busted open to see what was inside, was what he’d been protecting; stacks of money, and bags of white powder. I knew very little about the shadowy world of drugs, but I was reasonably certain that wasn’t talcum powder.

    Ignoring the drugs, and the way Frankie was staring at the big guy—honestly, you’d think he’d never seen a man who’d been beaten unconscious with the butt of his own sawn-off shotgun before—I started loading wads of cash into my backpack. There was a lot of money; I ran out of backpack before I got even a third of the way through it. Halfway through stacking the cash, I’d taken the can of lighter fluid from the backpack to make way for the money. Once I tightened down the straps, I picked up the can and checked on Frankie.

    Not having had the forethought to bring his own backpack, he was looking around the cellar to find something to carry money in. Pushing aside a stack of guns, he unzipped a duffel bag and tipped out a dozen or more boxes of ammunition. Holding up the duffel, he asked, “I can fill this with cash, right?”

    “Yes,” I said. “Leave the drugs, though.” The last thing I wanted was for my first right-hand man getting high at the wrong moment.

    “Sure, uh, boss.” He headed over to the cabinet and started scooping cash into it. I could see there’d still be some left, but he was very enthusiastic about making his share as large as possible. As he did this, I wandered over to the guns.

    Nothing really jumped out at me, except for one chrome-plated monstrosity of a revolver. I held it up. “Frankie. What ammunition does this take?”

    He glanced around. “The Anaconda? Forty-four magnum. I saw a couple of boxes in there.”

    “Oh, good.” I rummaged around until I found the boxes he’d spoken of. I had to compress the money a little and loosen the straps, but I got the pistol and ammunition into the backpack as well. By the time I finished doing that, Frankie was stuffing the last wad of cash into the straining duffel.

    “If you break the zipper, I’m not going to wait for you to find another one,” I warned him. “Put the rest of the money and the drugs in the middle of the floor. And this, too.” Picking up some boxes of ammunition, I carried them over as well.

    It took a few minutes to finish piling everything together. Frankie took a pistol of his own and shoved it in his waistband, then selected a couple of boxes of ammunition for himself. Despite the dent we’d made in the cash side of things, it made for a pretty impressive pile. I grabbed the unconscious guard and dragged him out of the way behind the stairs, so he wouldn’t accidentally die from what I was about to do next. Killing someone by accident is pure carelessness, nothing more. You can’t even really claim it as a kill.

    Frankie obviously hadn’t thought things through, but when I started pouring lighter fluid over everything, he got the picture real quick. “Wait, what the fuck?” he asked. “You’re burning it?”

    I didn’t bother answering him, especially as the box of matches I’d taken from my pocket answered the question well enough. I gestured him up the stairs, and he obeyed with some alacrity.

    “But why?” he asked. “Why burn the drugs and the money? Why not, you know, take it all?”

    “It’s not about the drugs,” I said. “It’s not about the money.” It was true. I didn’t care overly much about either one, except as a means to get what I wanted. I struck a match, and it caught; the sulphur smell tickled my nostrils.

    “So why?” he asked. He was at the top of the stairs by now.

    “It’s about sending a message,” I said, and flicked the match into the pool of lighter fluid. I made my way up the stairs as the fire flared up behind me. With the concrete floor, and the basement rafters so high above the fire, I figured it probably wouldn’t set the house alight.

    The message, of course, was "I can do this all day." The loss of that money and those drugs wouldn't affect the Empire significantly on a day to day basis, but the psychological impact would be much greater.

    The first round cooked off as I closed the cellar door, then several more went off in quick succession. This was going to be very loud for a while, which would hopefully draw the attention of the forces of law and order in this direction. During which time, I intended to be elsewhere.

    I’d been thinking about the various villain gangs around Brockton Bay. One and all, they were flawed. The Empire ran on an idiotic delusion, while the ABB was based around a no less idiotic idea of some kind of universal ‘Asian-ness’. Even the Merchants were addicted to the very drugs they dealt.

    Strolling out into the night air with Frankie close behind me, I gave voice to my conclusions.

    “This city,” I decided, “needs a better class of criminal.” I paused, then corrected myself. The amount of shit flowing through the streets was a problem that needed addressing. "No, scratch that. What it needs is an enema."


    End of Part Eight

    Part Nine
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  6. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Doesn't he think she's 10 years old?

    That'd make her a tween, I think?
     
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  7. Solluna

    Solluna Making the rounds.

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    When you have a knife to your junk you tend to not remember certain details like that.
     
  8. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Look farther up. He knows she's a teenager, but he's exaggerating for effect when Mitch pulls his pervert act. He's basically saying "Not cool man, she's way too young to be talking about her like that."
     
  9. Wolfman217

    Wolfman217 Hail Hermione!

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    Love it. Can't wait for more.

    That enema line was great :D

    While I don't think Joker stuff should be overused there are so many things it would be awesome for Taylor to do, like a guy in PRT/Police lockup with a bomb inside, or the pencil magic trick, or the faking being dead in a body bag in order to get at someone.

    Ahhh, love the idea of Joker!Taylor.

    Can't wait for her to meet Circus, ready made Harley right there.
     
  10. Slayer Anderson

    Slayer Anderson Orthodox Heretic

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    I feel like Marquis should break out of the Birdcage just to fist-bump her for this line.
     
  11. Darkarma

    Darkarma Loli Tentacle Slime

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    Depending on how this goes, they may release Marquis in hopes of getting control of the situation. Taylor has a pretty powerful combination of powers that shes barely scratched the surface on.
     
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  12. Extras: So, what did they think was going to happen?
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Heh. I did an earlier version of this for Another Way, but with a little work it will fit better here ...


    She saw him, standing on the edge of the rooftop, looking out over the city. Such was his belief that she would not attack him, he had his back turned, even though he had to know that she was there. For a moment, Taylor had the impulse to push out her grey field and nullify his powers for a moment, just to shake him out of that supreme self-confidence. But she quashed it as unworthy. They were here under truce, after all.

    "Jester." His voice was rich and deep. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me."

    She moved to join him, feeling the gravel turning under the soles of her sneakers. "Your message said that you had something for me." As befitted the gravity of the situation, she refrained from giving her usual little insane giggle. As befitted the role she was playing, she didn't stop smiling.

    Somehow, she suspected the giggle wouldn't freak him out anyway.

    "I do indeed." This close, she realised that he wore evening dress, illuminated faintly by the glow from the city lights below. Unclasping his hands from behind his back, he gestured out over the city. "We both care about Brockton Bay. You want ... to give its people a better class of crime. I want it to work again. Those two aims can go hand in hand. Currently, we have been working separately, and occasionally at cross-purposes. I propose to put an end to that."

    "How?" She was wary, on her guard. The iron bar up her sleeve would drop into her hand in an instant, should she choose to attack. If she pushed out her grey field fast enough, his powers wouldn't be able to get a grasp on her. Despite that, she was fully aware that he would probably win if they fought, here and now. Of course, he did have a strong reputation for never breaking his word and never attacking women or children ... but one could never be sure. The vast profits from running a city unopposed could undermine the strongest principles, given time.

    "I propose a partnership." His voice was smooth and measured. "You handle the street level side of things, with assistance as needed from my forces. I handle the higher level politics, with backup from your parahuman forces as necessary."

    She paused, searching his words for any tricks. "It can't be that simple."

    "It won't be simple in any way at all," he assured her. "But if we are able to work without looking over our shoulders, if I can run interference on the PRT for you, if you can handle the street-level problems for me, it will be somewhat easier for the both of us."

    "Your methods -" she began, then paused.

    "Are harsh, yes, but I have found them necessary in the past," he went on. "However, I will not be kidnapping twelve year old children. I will not be seeking to betray you while pretending to be your ally. If I am your enemy, you will know it. I would prefer not to be."

    "No murdering allies." She hadn't ever thought she'd be saying this out loud.

    Carefully, he inclined his head. "As you say. No murdering allies. What, then, do I do with those who begin to cause more problems than they're worth?"

    She turned her head to look at him fully. "Let them know that I'm working with you. If the problems persist, send them to me."

    "Some would call that a more stringent punishment than my norm." His words were light, addressed to the city skyline.

    "Doesn't matter. It's the way it's going to be if we're going to be working together."

    "Of course." Again, he inclined his head. "So, then, shall we call it a partnership?" Turning to face her, he extended his hand.

    "We've still got to work out the details, but sure." She took it. A fleeting thought crossed her mind that one or the other should really be wearing a joy buzzer, but she ignored it.

    It was only a handshake, but it signified much more to Brockton Bay.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  13. blackstar1

    blackstar1 Know what you're doing yet?

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    so coil? and were in the timeline is this?
     
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  14. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    This is August of 2009. Taylor has returned from her summer camp early, and Emma has broken with her (also early).

    Coil is still establishing himself.
     
  15. Darkarma

    Darkarma Loli Tentacle Slime

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    Ha, this would be quite a fun little fic in itself.
     
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  16. Wolfman217

    Wolfman217 Hail Hermione!

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    Always thought there needs to be a fic where Taylor models herself after Marquis, like Danny always spoke of him with grudging respect because while he was villain, he was one who had class. So she becomes a villain like him and calls herself Duchess or something.

    Que Carol panicking believing that Amy's secretly become a villain or that he had another kid.

    Then he gets out somehow and he's weirdly flattered and it ends up being a Marquis, Taylor, Amy Villain team-up.
     
  17. Darkarma

    Darkarma Loli Tentacle Slime

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    Random plot bunny.

    Danny was Marquis' right hand.

    When he finds out the Amy is Amelia things happen just shortly before the start of what would have been canon. Maybe right around when Taylor triggers.

    Bonus points if Danny was Amelia's godfather.

    Pun intended.
     
  18. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Ah, classic Nicholson, frankly he and Caesar Romero were the best Jokers, with Mark Hamil a close third, bravo Ack
     
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  19. Threadmarks: Part Nine: Preparing for Action
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Prodigal Daughter

    Part Nine: Preparing for Action

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


    Frankie and I went our separate ways shortly after that. I got his cell-phone number and told him I’d be buying one shortly. With the assistance of my blue field, he didn’t find that overly unusual. I also told him that I’d want a holster for the Anaconda the next time we went out together. He could pay for it with his money, and I’d reimburse him for it..

    Carrying a backpack full of money through the night-time streets of Brockton Bay is more boring than it sounds. Barely anyone tried to mug me; I only had to break two wrists and a collarbone. The almost legendary ability of the Brockton Bay underworld to sniff out a dollar from two streets away seemed to have deserted them tonight. As Broken Wrist #2 staggered away, I wondered idly if I should’ve been waving around a neon sign saying ‘I am carrying a lot of money!’. Still, my wrist-breaking technique seemed to be getting along nicely. The guy with the collarbone? Boy, did he complain. Probably because I didn’t break his wrist instead. It wasn’t my fault he had no idea how to block a swing.

    When I got home, I snuck in through the back gate then dug my key out of my pocket. We had a spare key under a fake rock, but I’d made damn sure I knew where my key was. Pausing, I ran the iron bar under the hose to get rid of any incriminating bloodstains, then dried it on my hoodie. Then I headed for the back door. Once inside, I snuck upstairs and stashed my backpack under the bed. It took a couple of hard shoves, but I finally managed it.

    I must’ve made more noise than I thought, because footsteps sounded in the hallway outside my room. “Taylor? What’s going on?”

    Well, fuckburgers. The eyedrops I’d gotten for this purpose sat on my dresser. I produced a loud and probably unconvincing snore as I grabbed them and hit each eye with a drop. Even if my mirror hadn’t told the tale, the fading away of my night vision would’ve clued me in that my eyes were going back to normal. It was the work of a moment to grab the toothpaste tube on the dresser and squeeze a little on to my finger to smear over my lips and teeth. Toothpaste killed the bacteria just as fast as mouthwash did.

    “Taylor, you don’t snore.” I couldn’t tell if he was angry or amused. I needed visual cues to read him that closely. But doing this would require him to be in the room, which was exactly what I didn’t need right now. “I know you’ve been out. Open the door. We need to talk.”

    The alcohol wipes sat next to the toothpaste. I started scrubbing my face clean. While it was technically possible to explain what I’d been doing to Dad and not have him attempt to ground me for the term of my natural life, I couldn’t see any way to actually do it without overclocking my blue field (and I wasn’t even sure about that). I didn’t want him to ground me, because I’d ignore it and either he’d try to stop me (and I’d probably have to hurt him) or he’d want to talk to me a lot more, and I had no idea what answers would make him happy. Apart from promising I’d never do it again. I could never do that, of course. Keep such a promise, I mean. If I thought nobody was going to check on me, I’d make promises like that all day long. But I knew damn well he would check on me, and find out I was doing what he’d told me not to. Which would make him unhappy, which in turn would cause issues for me down the road. Not for the first time, I reflected on how morality was a self-defeating algorithm.

    TL; DR: There were no good outcomes if he found out.

    “I just went for a walk, Dad,” I called back through the door. The downside of applying the drops early was becoming abundantly clear to me, even if nothing else was. The minimal light in the room made it impossible to see whether I’d wiped all the greasepaint off. “It’s no big deal.”

    “Taylor, it is a big deal.” I heard the handle turn, and realised I’d neglected to lock the door. It wasn’t as though I could be blamed, of course; my understanding of the social contract in the household specified that so long as different excuses were employed, the parent was stalled from taking meaningful action. He’d bypassed all that and opened my door as if it held no specific significance.

    “Jeez, Dad!” I injected anger into my voice as I tossed the wipes into the trash can beside my dresser. “I could’ve been getting changed here or anything! How about you ask permission first?”

    He sighed. “If you’d been getting changed, you would’ve said so.”

    Note to self. Use that one next time.

    He was still talking. “And we’re way past me asking permission to look in on you. The topic is you leaving the house and going for a walk without asking if you can, without even telling me where you’re going.”

    “Okay, sorry,” I said, hanging my head to approximate guilt. “I won’t do it again.”

    He shook his head. “Not good enough, Taylor. I need to know why you’re going out. If it’s important to you, if it’s a good enough reason, I can take you there and make sure you’re safe. But I can’t do anything unless I know what’s going on.”

    This was getting irritating. With an internal sigh, I locked the white bubble to the blue field and pushed them out to cover Dad. “It’s really nothing,” I said. “I was just going for a walk to clear my head. I had something to protect myself with, see?” Letting the iron bar slide out of my sleeve, I held it up to show him. I knew there was a reason I washed it before I came inside. I definitely didn’t show him the clasp-knife in my pocket. Fortunately, it was too dark for him to see the rips and tears in the hoodie from the fight in the Empire stash house.

    “Huh.” He took the bar and hefted it a couple of times. “It’s definitely heavy enough to do damage. Sure it isn’t too heavy for you?”

    I snorted in genuine amusement. That piece of rebar and I had been partners since long before I got powers. “I’m stronger than I look, Dad.”

    “Yeah, well, just so long as you don’t turn around and tell me you’re a cape as well.” He returned the iron bar to me. “I don’t like it when you go out like that, but the offer’s still on the table for me to drive you where you want to go, just so you get there and back safely.”

    Okay, that was new. I had no idea Dad had anti-cape feelings. Was it because he had some vague awareness that I was the daughter of a cape? It didn’t feel like that was the case, mainly because he hadn’t actually come out and said it.

    “What’s wrong with capes?” I asked, trying to sound innocent. “Don’t they protect us?” At least, that was what the average person seemed to think. Inasmuch as the average person thought at all. Between TV, beer and regularly staged cape fights, any given Brockton Bay citizen probably didn’t have an original idea from one month to the next.

    He turned his face away from me and lowered his voice. “I … your mother,” he said reluctantly. “I … didn’t tell you before, because you were too young. But …”

    What was he getting at? Had Mom been a cape somewhere in between getting pregnant to Jack Slash and marrying Dad? There’d been nothing in the diaries about it. Had she died in a cape fight instead of a car crash?

    “What about Mom?” I asked, rare emotion stirring my voice. “How did she die?”

    He looked at me soberly in the dimness. “A cape killed her.”

    “Uh … you said she died in a car accident.” I was pretty sure the newspaper had also reported it that way. Her being killed by a cape wasn’t exactly something that needed covering up. Was it?

    Dad sighed. “She was in her car, driving. A cape did something that made her crash. The police would never tell me which one, probably because they didn’t want you to end up as an orphan because I tried to get revenge.”

    “So why didn’t they arrest him and charge him with murder?” Or had they done it in secret?

    “Because they didn’t quite have enough evidence to make it stick. Only supposition. I guess the PRT just added it to the list of crimes he’d have to face once they got their hands on him. Whichever one it is.”

    Okay, this was just plain bullshit. “So capes get to murder my mom in broad daylight and then walk away? That’s not fair. Where’s the justice?” I was fully aware that I’d ordered a murder just earlier that night and probably condoned another one, but that was different. None of those guys was my mom. Besides, they were assholes. They asked for it.

    “Exactly what I said to them, then.” He clenched his fists at his sides. I didn’t see any indication that he was going to attack me, so he was probably remembering the anger that he’d felt at the time.

    I didn’t get angry. I got even.

    <><>​

    With the assistance of the blue field, I managed to manoeuvre Dad into extracting a promise from me not to go anywhere at night without adult supervision, and not to do anything stupid while I was out. Frankie was an adult, so I was covered there. And of course, I wasn’t about to do anything stupid. Everything I’d already done was according to a carefully-devised plan. Though I was thinking road flares for my next act of monetary arson, rather than lighter fluid and matches. If the match had gone out, I would’ve looked like an idiot.

    Satisfied, he went back to bed. Once the bedroom door was closed, I turned on the light and inspected myself more closely. I’d gotten nearly all the greasepaint, though there was a large patch on my forehead that I’d missed. Fortunately, the shadow from my hair had concealed it. I finished cleaning up, took a quick shower, and went to bed myself.

    <><>​

    The next day, after Dad went to work, I spent a couple of hours online, then took the bus to the Lord Street Market. My backpack came with me, but I left the Anaconda at home. Somehow, I doubted that the enforcers would look kindly on a fourteen-year-old girl carrying a pistol that looked like it weighed about as much as I did. At the very least, they’d be jealous.

    I’d never fired a gun before, but the online research I’d done had familiarised me with how they worked, how to load them, and common mistakes to avoid when using them. There were even videos on how to disassemble, clean and reassemble them. I knew that I wouldn’t be an instant expert when I did get around to firing it, but at least I wasn’t starting from a position of total ignorance.

    Half the money I’d liberated from the Empire was now stashed in a plastic bag at the back of my underwear drawer. I figured I wouldn’t need it all to get what I wanted. Rather than go to a mall and raise eyebrows by pulling out wads of cash for everything, I decided to make use of the Lord Street Market’s rather more laissez-faire attitude toward that sort of thing. Also, the type of second-hand clothing I was looking for, I probably couldn’t get at the Weymouth or Hillside malls.

    What I wanted wasn’t in the high-end area, anyway. I meandered through the market, making sure to keep my hands in plain view (though my trusty iron bar still resided up my sleeve, because why not) until I found the thrift shops. Given that I was dressed in ratty jeans and a hoodie slightly less well ventilated than the one I’d taken to the Empire fight, nobody looked twice at me. Which was exactly my intention.

    It took a bit of looking, especially since I didn’t know what I wanted till I saw it. In the end, I went through three shops before I found what I was after. Two things, which became three when something caught my eye at the last minute. I considered a ratty green wig, no doubt left over from some long-ago St Patrick’s Day, but decided not to risk sharing it with creepy-crawlies. Bugs, I can handle. Bugs on my scalp, not so much. Still, the idea of green hair stuck with me.

    The shop assistant, a kid about my age with terminal acne and a nametag that said ‘Hello my name is GREG’, looked up from his comic book when I marched up to the counter carrying my bounty. The first thing I laid across the counter was a huge red coat with tattered gold brocade on the sleeves. I guessed it was from a marching band or something. It was somewhere around what I figured Frankie’s size to be, and would go a long way toward covering his tattoos. I didn’t remember if he had any on his hands, but gloves would fix that.

    I’d looked for a matching one in my size, but I was out of luck. The closest thing I could find was a velvet coat in faded purple. It wasn’t really my colour, but it definitely didn’t shout ‘Taylor Hebert’, so it went on the pile too. The buttons had come off of it, but there was an assortment on the counter so I’d have to get some of those as well. Some big plastic faux-gold ones caught my eye. I figured they’d clash horribly with it, which was just the effect I was after.

    The last thing I slapped on to the counter was a wide-brimmed straw hat. It totally didn’t match anything else I was going to be wearing, which made it perfect. I’d tried it on, and it slipped down a bit on me, but I figured I’d stuff some newspaper up inside. The idea was that it would cast a shadow over my face, to make the glowing eyes and lips and teeth really stand out. The more I could weird out my opponents before shit went sideways, the more chance I had of kicking their asses.

    The kid looked over the assorted purchases and his forehead scrunched with the effort of thought. “Uh … cash or card?” he asked eventually, then yawned.

    Way to go, kid. Present a totally professional outlook to the world. That’s the way to get ahead in this utterly boring dead-end job. I shrugged as I matched the amount of spark and interest in his voice. “Cash, I guess. How much?”

    He fumbled through my picks until he’d found all the price tags, then went through the laborious process of entering each price in turn on the geriatric cash register. When he hit the Enter key, it ruminated for several seconds, then popped up a price. It was less than fifty bucks, so I was good with that. To make things easier for him, I grabbed a selection of the buttons to push it as close to fifty as I could. Then I handed over the money and waited for him to figure out my change. Which he did on a calculator, because apparently fifty minus forty-seven fifty is a difficult sum.

    I ended up spending two more dollars on a cloth bag to carry my purchases, because they didn’t have plastic bags big enough to fit Frankie’s coat in. That was fine with me. I left Hello-my-name-is-GREG perusing his comic book once more, secure in the knowledge of a job well done. That kid definitely had a future in retail. You go, Greg. Read that comic book. Improve your mind.

    In comparison, getting a cell-phone was simplicity itself. I got the cheapest model I could find, not because I couldn’t afford anything better, but because there was a good chance it would get broken. With that thought in mind, I bought three. The guy selling them didn’t even raise an eyebrow, though he did manage to sell me chargers—one and a spare—and a case.

    Walking out of the Market, I heaved a metaphorical and literal sigh of relief. Half an hour more in there and I would’ve been seriously considering committing some sort of atrocity just so people would leave me alone. I know I don’t do people well. I mean, I can handle people. I just can’t handle being around people without being able to tell them to go away. I’m still not sure why they haven’t made it legal yet to maim idiots for getting in your face. Maybe if I set an example, people would see the light.

    Next stop was a place I’d been before. There wasn’t a huge demand for theatrical supplies in Brockton Bay—a haven of the arts, it ain’t—which meant I couldn’t shop around. Predictably, the counter attendant recognised me. “Hi!” she said brightly. “How’s the play going?”

    “Things are getting done,” I said, totally truthfully but in a way that had nothing to do with the question she’d asked. “Just added another part so I need a few new things.”

    I picked up another tub of greasepaint—that stuff was so handy—as well as more alcohol wipes, then I started looking at other options. At first I was thinking of some sort of washable hair dye, but the shop assistant happened to mention that applying it then removing it repeatedly would damage my hair. Hair’s hair, but even Dad would think it was strange if my hair started falling out or something. So I decided to think laterally, and picked up two wigs, one in curly black, one in curly white, as well as a washable dye. I was pretty sure I could find some way to soak the white one.

    All this together came to somewhat more than the purchases in the Market, but that was fine. Money was just money. There was nothing special about it, and I’d certainly be able to get more. We were just finalising the price when I saw one more thing that I wanted to add to the list. The shop assistant blinked when I put it on the counter, but then she shrugged and rang it up anyway. “That must be some play you’re putting on,” she observed. “Let me know when you’re ready for opening night, and I’ll come buy a ticket.”

    “It’s just a private thing,” I said, stowing my purchases in the backpack. “But sure, I guess.”

    I escaped from the shop, swearing under my breath that I’d have to find another place, or maybe use my blue field more often when I was out in public. The last thing I wanted was for some normal person to take notice of my preparations.

    Nothing untoward happened all the way home, and I spent the afternoon sewing buttons on the velvet coat while the white wig soaked in a bath of green hair dye. Washable it might be, but I wasn’t going to be washing it if I could possibly help it. By the time I had finished my tailoring efforts, the coat was adorned with horribly mismatched gold buttons.

    Dad came home in due time and seemed faintly relieved, probably due to the fact that I was actually at home, and not out and about somewhere. We had lasagne for supper; I’d taken the time to put that on while checking on the wig. I just had to hope that Dad wouldn’t wonder why the bathroom wash-basin had a faint green tinge to it before I had a chance to scrub it clean.

    Dad went to bed, and so did I. Pretending to be the dutiful daughter, I pulled the covers up and faked sleep. Following Dad’s comment from the night before, I didn’t try to snore.

    Sure enough, about an hour later, I heard the floorboards creaking as he came out of his room. My bedroom door eased open and he leaned in. I didn’t open my eyes or move, because he might’ve seen something. I’d made sure to leave one arm on top of the covers, so he could see it was me and not some made-up dummy. After a while, he closed the door again and went back to bed. I waited another fifteen minutes before I moved.

    Pushing the covers back carefully, I climbed out of bed and put the dummy I’d made up in my place. The black wig, I carefully arranged on the pillow. When I went to apply the powder to my eyes, I stopped and frowned. I knew I couldn’t hurt myself that way, but the instinct to not touch my own eyeball was so strong it usually took me several tries. With a little thought, however, I found that a cotton swab would do the trick just as well, making it easier to get dressed. After that, I put the rest of the makeup on, then tucked my hair up under the green wig and pulled the hat on. With the extra bulk of the wig, it sat just right.

    With the Anaconda—fully loaded, now—and the money in the backpack, I picked up the bag with the stuff for Frankie and climbed out through my bedroom window. It was a short drop to the ground, and I found myself absorbing the impact with no trouble at all. After I let myself out through the back gate, I pulled out the phone and sent Frankie a text.

    Fifteen minutes later, he pulled up at the location I’d designated; a small park several blocks from my house. He was my minion, but I didn’t want him and Dad meeting. Dad would probably get the wrong idea, or even the right one. Either way, he wouldn’t be happy.

    “Boss.” Frankie got out and opened the passenger side door for me. I spotted a large empty duffel bag in the back seat. Frankie had his head screwed on right.

    “I like the way you think,” I said. “What do you think of my new look?” I already had the smile in place.

    He looked me up and down. “You look fuckin’ terrifying,” he said judiciously. “I like the coat and hair. It really sells the whole ‘unhinged sociopath’ vibe you got goin’ on.”

    I gave him a giggle and watched him shudder. I still had it. “Thanks, Frankie. You say the nicest things. Did you get the holster?”

    “Yeah, I did,” he told me, opening the back door and reaching in. “Also got me some heavy artillery, just in case we needed it next time.”

    I took the holster and admired the pump-action shotgun and assault rifle that he’d acquired. “Good boy. You’re thinking ahead. I like that. I got something for you, as well.”

    He took the bag I handed him, then pulled out the coat. Taking off his jacket, he shrugged the coat on in its place. “Nice fit,” he said. “A bit gaudy, but I can live with that. What else did you get?”

    “Greasepaint, like mine,” I said. “And one other thing.”

    “A clown nose?” he asked, when he found the ‘one other thing’ that I’d picked up at the theatrical supply place.

    “Sure,” I said, and giggled again, just to remind him who the psycho in the room was. “Anyone looking at you is going to be seeing ‘bald clown’, not ‘Frankie Knox, ex-Empire goon’. The nose just makes that a lot more certain.”

    He looked down at the coat he was wearing, and shrugged. “Well, I already look like a clown in this, so why not?”

    “A rich clown,” I pointed out.

    He brightened. “True. So, I’m basically wearing a costume. Does this make me a supervillain, too?”

    I giggled and patted his cheek. “Not quite. You’re perfect as a minion. Leave the villaining to me, okay?”

    “Okay.” He started applying the greasepaint while I figured out the holster. By the time I had it arranged properly, so the gun would draw across the front of my body, he was all kitted out, including the clown nose. “So what are we doing tonight, boss?”

    “The same thing we’ll be doing every night, Frankie.” I giggled. “Taking over Brockton Bay’s underworld, one asshole at a time. But to begin with …” I paused to draw the tension out. “How do you feel about paying the police a visit?”

    He grinned and racked the slide on the shotgun. With his pure white face, clown nose and red coat, he looked both ridiculous and scary. In other words, perfect. “Love to.”

    Getting a minion was definitely one of my better decisions.


    End of Part Nine

    Part Ten
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  20. Xyshuryn

    Xyshuryn Holder of Hands

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    I'm getting a serious Joker vibe.

    So Taylor as a parahuman clown sociopath, huh?

    Congratulations! You officially win "All The Nope!"

    Christ, she's creepy. I'm gonna need a nightlight again if I keep reading more of this.
     
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  21. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Thank you.

    That's exactly the reaction I'm looking for :p
     
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  22. Wolfman217

    Wolfman217 Hail Hermione!

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    aAHAHAhAHAHAHAHAaahaha

    The shop keepers will know her so well they'll (*takes off sunglasses*) slash their prices.

    Frankie says Relax, permanently.
     
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  23. Loveschach

    Loveschach I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    As far as skinheads go, Frankie doesn't seem that bad. Or is that the reason he got kicked out of college? Doesn't matter anymore really. The outfit is great though. I'll just sit here and imagine Frankie in his off time playing a piano, looking all the world like a clown Elton John.
     
  24. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    You have seen some of Elton John's outfits, right?
     
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  25. Crazael

    Crazael Could be wittier.

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    Im just waiting for Taylor to justify her 'insane clown" theme with "After all, what's more terrifying than clowns?"
     
  26. Wolfman217

    Wolfman217 Hail Hermione!

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    Her Father went with the 'Serial Killer Johnny Depp' look, so she decided to go with the fem 'Joker Heath Ledger' look.
     
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  27. Loveschach

    Loveschach I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Yes, and I realize that it's not accurate, but I can't get it out of my head for some reason.
     
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  28. Threadmarks: Part Ten: The Culprit
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Prodigal Daughter

    Part Ten: The Culprit


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



    Of course, I wasn’t stupid enough to attack the central Brockton Bay police station. It’s always possible to dance on the wrong side of the line between audacity and idiocy and not have a solid dose of reality smack you in the back of the head, but people who depend on Murphy ignoring them are otherwise known as ‘casualties’. I had no intention of being a casualty, so I had Frankie take me elsewhere.

    In this case, ‘elsewhere’ was a police sub-station. Not big or flashy enough to attract the attention of any supervillains looking to make the nightly news, nor even large enough to possess an armoury of a size that would draw the attention of a cape gang. Tiny, in fact. Minuscule. Barely even there. A single small brick building with a single small front desk. The type of place you go into to report that your cat is still stuck up a tree, and the fire department has yet to respond.

    Nothing important was kept there, so the place wasn’t fortified to a fare-thee-well like it was in the main precinct houses. More specifically, nothing important to anyone else was kept there. It was where dreams (and careers) went to die. But it did have something that I dearly wanted to get my hands on, at least for a little while.

    An internet connection to the central crime database.

    Now, I’m no hacker. If I were, this narrative would be more about me typing in a darkened room, using one of those special Hollywood monitors that actively projected the characters from the screen across my face, while Frankie practised his ominous looming in the background. There would be 3-d representations of the firewall, including a totally unnecessary animation of the thing crumbling to fragments as I unleashed my unstoppable virus of digital doom upon it.

    Come to think of it, I wish I was a hacker. That sounds kinda cool. (And I like the sound of ‘unstoppable virus of digital doom’). But no, I had no idea how to do any of that (a single semester of Visual Basic does not equip one for breaking into the PRT servers, alas) so I had to make do with second best; gaining access to the criminal database the hard way.

    Then again, kicking the door in and walking in guns blazing is way more fun than hunching over a keyboard in a darkened room (why do you think so many teenage boys play games where they can kick in doors, guns blazing, while they hunch over their keyboards in darkened rooms?). Other people, I decided, can do the hacking. I’ll do the ‘slightly unhinged criminal mastermind’ thing.

    For one thing, I was far better equipped for it. A sociopathic uncaring attitude about anyone but me and mine? Check. A hulking minion possessed of more firepower than was healthy for anyone around him? Double check. The ability to walk into a gang safe-house and beat the living crap out of half a dozen gangsters? Triple check. The will to impose my personal view of the world on Brockton Bay? You know where I’m going with this.

    So, we drove the car through the front wall of the cop station and jumped out, guns hammering a leaden hail of death …

    Well, actually, no. We didn’t. Doing that was likely to result in a car unable to function as a getaway vehicle. And while it would’ve been amazing to boost a black-and-white for our inevitable high-speed escape from the forces of bore and snore-der, I was pretty sure they didn’t have any stationed at this location. Pity, though. Sirens and flashing lights have a style all their very own. Maybe I could get Frankie to steal some and install them on our ride. Well, the siren at least; the flashing lights might draw attention even when they were off.

    So, we pulled up to a nice, legal stop outside the sub-station. Then we got out and marched into the building, armed to the goddamn teeth.

    There were two people in the front lobby. One was almost certainly homeless, sacked out on a bench in the corner. The other one was the desk sergeant, who seemed to be focusing on important paperwork rather than watching the door. We totally failed to be intercepted by some bright young detective, assigned here as punishment for refusing to let go a case of corruption against the mayor or the chief of police. Nor did a SWAT team, assembled against the chance of our coming to this very location, appear from nowhere to force us to take cover behind the plastic aspidistra. In fact, I was able to walk all the way up to the front counter and lean across it before Sergeant Oblivious finally looked up.

    In the first instant that he saw me, I saw seven questions crossing his face. The first regarded my reasons for being there, while questions two through six involved my appearance. Number seven was undoubtedly phrased very much like “why has a scarily big pistol been shoved up my left nostril?”

    “Hi,” I said pleasantly, then spoiled it quite deliberately with a rather insane-sounding little giggle. I pushed my blue field out as far as I could, all the while giving him one of my very best smiles, tilting my head back slightly to increase the ‘absolutely fucking nuts’ quotient of his assessment of my mental state. A glance down at the ‘paperwork’ increased the width of my smile fractionally. “I’m sure you’re busy and all with your crossword puzzle, but I’ve got a request to make. And by ‘request’ I mean that if you don’t help me out, it’s gonna be a closed-casket funeral. You get my drift?” I punctuated my meaning with a shove that did its best to embed the gun muzzle half an inch farther up his nose.

    “Hngh,” he articulated wittily, crossing his eyes to try to look at the pistol. From that, I read his absolute willingness to do anything that might prevent the inside of his head from becoming the outside of his head.

    “Good,” I cooed, then placed one hand on the desk and vaulted over it. By the time he reacted to my change in location, I had the pistol nestled gently behind his left ear. “Minion Number One, the duct tape if you will?”

    “Sure thing, boss,” grunted Frankie. He reached into one of the pockets of the overlarge coat he was wearing and produced the tape, then without taking his eyes from the homeless guy—I couldn’t believe he hadn’t woken up yet—tossed it to me. I caught it, then turned back just in time to catch the sergeant’s hand beginning its creep down the desk. He was still willing to help me, he just wanted to call his buddies in on the action as well.

    “Ah, ah, ahh,” I chided him. “That sort of thing ends up with you pressing a panic button and me having to clean your brains off my gun. Now, we don’t want that, do we?” He needed to know I was serious, so I pistol-whipped him across the face. Not hard, just enough to bloody his lips and loosen a few teeth.

    Then I yanked him away from the desk, his chair castors squeaking in protest at the sudden movement. While he was still dazed, I attached the end of the duct tape to the chair and spun him in place so that the tape wrapped around both him and the chair, fixing him in place. I finished off by taping his arms to the chair arms. By the time I placed the (much depleted) roll of duct tape on the counter, he was all but married to that chair.

    Looking more than a little dizzy, he spat blood and a tooth (I swear, that one was already loose) on to the floor, then stared up at me. “Who are you?” he asked. “What in God’s name do you want?

    “Information,” I said sweetly, ignoring the first question. I was me; that was all he needed to know. “But first …” Picking up the tape again, I plastered a length across his mouth. If I was going to go check the rest of the building for police officers, I didn’t want him calling out useful information. Such as the fact that I was coming after them.

    Only the fact that his eyes widened fractionally clued me in. I spun around just in time to see the door into the rear offices opening, with a gun muzzle edging its way through the gap. Shoving the chair one way, I jumped in the other direction. As the cop behind the door opened fire, I went into a shoulder roll and came up on one knee, reaching for my … for my … for my goddamn stupid pistol that I’d placed on the fucking counter rather than back in the holster. Which put it several yards away.

    And then, proving that I was a certifiable genius in getting a minion, Frankie opened fire on the door. BOOM (shakalaka) BOOM went his shotgun, ripping chunks out of it. There was a startled (or maybe pained) yelp from beyond, and whoever it was stopped shooting. I scrambled for my pistol.

    “I got this!” I shouted, making a mental note to raise Frankie’s pay. “You hold the fort out here!” Snatching up the Anaconda from the bench, I headed for the door into the back offices.

    When I got there, I realised it was an auto-lock variety, with a manual keypad on my side to prevent randos from wandering in there on a whim. It was also probably designed to prevent insane criminal masterminds from going in there with a definite purpose but only, and we need to be clear about this, if they’re not carrying a pistol that could double as a small anti-aircraft cannon. I fired one shot into the locking mechanism and it ceased to be anything but bits and pieces on the floor.

    Which didn’t mean I was out of the woods yet. I had to assume that Mr (or Ms; this was the twenty-first century after all) Die Hard 2010 had already called for reinforcements. I wasn’t going back to stop this from happening. No, what I was going back to do was make sure they didn’t burst in at an inopportune moment and stop me from finding out what I needed to know.

    I held back from leaping through the door willy-nilly. I didn’t know that I wasn’t bulletproof, and I didn’t know that I was. Being shot in the lungs would sure as fuck give me a clue, but it wouldn’t be one I could make proper use of. So I grabbed an office chair, wrenched the door open, and hurled the chair through.

    Sure enough, there was a barrage of shots that punctured the chair in half a dozen places. I mean, wow. What had that chair ever done to them? Taking a double-handed grip of the Anaconda, I fired a shot of my own at the chair, blowing a hole in the gas cylinder underneath it. As according to physics, the high-pressure gas within immediately became low-pressure gas while escaping. Its temperature dropped dramatically, causing the water in the atmosphere around it to condense, forming a small short-lived cloud.

    This wasn’t enough to give me cover to charge, but it did give me cover to reach around the doorframe and find the light switch. Flipping the switch dropped the light level in the corridor, and then I launched myself around the doorframe. With my blue field pushed to its maximum and my high-pitched cackling echoing down the corridor, I was maximising my chances to succeed. Any one cop, I figured, would be frozen just long enough for me to reach them.

    Except that there were two cops. A female one who was standing at the end of the corridor with her pistol raised in the Weaver stance, and a male one who was leaning out of a doorway, rubbing his eyes and looking around like he’d just gotten to sleep. I focused on the woman, trying to push the concept of I’m so scary you don’t dare shoot into her head. So of course the guy had a gun.

    I saw it come up and point in my direction. He fired. I spun around and fell to the floor, my pistol clattering out of my hand.

    They approached me as I lay on my back, breath gurgling in my throat. “What the fuck?” asked the guy. My heels kicked a few times, and I lay still.

    “No time,” said the woman. “There’s another one out there.” They crept forward to the end of the corridor. I silently got to my feet and crept after them. They didn’t look around because my blue field was reinforcing their knowledge that of course I was dead.

    I’d been fully aware of the laser-line of his gun’s projected attack, of course. As he’d swung the weapon toward me and the line had turned red in anticipation of his squeezing the trigger, I’d twisted aside. The bullet had barely whisked past me, tugging at the fabric of my coat, close enough that they’d thought I’d been hit.

    “Surprise!” I giggled as I grabbed the guy. He screamed like a little girl—really, he should’ve checked me for life signs—but didn’t have time to do more than struggle before I used him as a club to hit the woman. They both went down, but I kicked them each a few times, just in case.

    I dragged them both out to where Frankie guarded the front lobby, and dumped him there for him to guard. Then I went back and retrieved my pistol, and checked the rest of the building for inconvenient police officers. There were none, which was lucky for them. I was all out of fucks to give, and I was willing to put holes in police officers until they fucked off and left me alone.

    With the two holdouts securely duct-taped—together, in a highly compromising position, because I never hold a grudge—I finally managed to sit down at the terminal. Reaching out, I ripped the tape off of Sergeant Oblivious’ mouth. “Okay, then,” I said cheerfully. “I’m gonna need some passwords, here.”

    “I can’t—” he began, then stopped, mesmerised, as I waved the pistol in his general direction.

    I giggled, this time low and deep and creepy as fuck. “Yes. You can.” I indicated the other two. “Well, one of you three can. I only need one password. Who wants to volunteer?”

    They stared at me stubbornly. It seemed my blue field needed a helping hand, so I sighed and shot the guy’s kneecap out. The woman screamed, the guy screamed louder, and the sergeant wet himself.

    “I’ve got a whole lot of bullets,” I announced. “You guys have got a whole lot of joints. I’m pretty sure you’ll run out before I do.” I gave them another giggle. “But hey, keep holding out. You don’t need kneecaps to talk.” Reaching out, I rested the muzzle of the pistol on the sergeant’s damp groin. “Or, you know, anything below the waist.”

    When I ratcheted the hammer back with my thumb, he started talking. With his careful instructions, I was able to get into the system with relative ease. I hummed an off-beat tune as I manoeuvred through the options. Finally, I reached the one I was after. Unresolved cape crimes, August of 2008. I flicked through them one at a time, until I reached the one that held the most significance to me. It only took me a moment to absorb the details of the report, and the name of the cape that the cops had decided was responsible for my mom’s car going out of control and crashing.

    I had my name. To throw any investigators off the scent, I checked a few more reports, then figured out how to empty the cache files. Standing up, I stretched my arms over my head to crack my back.

    “All-righty,” I declared. “We’re done here. Let’s go, Minion Number One.” Taking my pistol in hand, I vaulted over the counter once more.

    “Wait!” It was the sergeant. I stopped and turned, looking attentive. “Who are you?”

    “Hmm.” I put my finger on my chin. “Minion Number One, who am I?”

    Frankie grinned unpleasantly. “You’re the boss.”

    I mimed a finger-gun at him. “Goood answer.”

    Leaving the cops where they were—and the homeless guy now huddling under the bench with his face turned to the wall and his hands clasped firmly over his ears—we traipsed out into the night air. Distant sirens, coming closer, indicated that moving along was probably a good idea.

    “So, boss,” Frankie said as we got in. “You get what you needed?”

    “Yeah,” I said. “I know who we’re going after next.”

    He started the car and put it in gear. “Who’s that?”

    I grinned, showing all my teeth.

    “Skidmark.”


    End of Part Ten

    Part Eleven
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  29. Wolfman217

    Wolfman217 Hail Hermione!

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    OH YEAH!

    I really hope she does the classic Joker at some point and holds up a news/tv station with a wacky and killer game, but you know, more successfully than Joker does.

    [​IMG]
     
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  30. 1oldman

    1oldman Lurking lurker witch lurks

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    See this here skid mark, well it's actually Skid Mark. He died as he caped
     
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