Keytars : другие произведения.

Jester by Boredmc

Самиздат: [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Обзоры] [Помощь|Техвопросы]
Ссылки:


 Ваша оценка:
  • Аннотация:
    Не могу читать через переводчик на оригинальном сайте - https://www.fanfiction.net/s/14216025/1/Jester Помесь червя/токийского гуля Лусия Эйбл была нормальной (слегка безумной) девушкой, живущей нормальной жизнью, пока она не пережила худший день в своей жизни и не стала чем-то большим, чем-то опасным. Теперь она собирается жить своей жизнью и получать от этого удовольствие, независимо от того, сколько людей должно умереть на этом пути. У меня разногласия, если вам интересно, /Pj3Dttwses.

  You always dream about getting Powers.
  
  In this world of Hero's, Villains and Monsters, that is an irrevocable truth.
  
  There really aren't exceptions. Even just some random soulless businessman will at least have the passing thought of how much easier their life and job could be with the help of Powers.
  
  Even for those of us who knew what it meant to be a Cape. What it meant to 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘳.
  
  Even then, we would think, 'one super traumatic event in exchange for superpowers?' and we would think it to be a fair exchange.
  
  I mean really, get raped once and in exchange you become 𝘓𝘦𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘥. Who wouldn't take that deal?
  
  Naturally, a Trigger doesn't have to be a rape. In fact, from what rare few Cape's have shared their trigger events, or the unlucky few who had the misfortune of a more 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 trigger, most of them aren't really as bad as a rape.
  
  Granted, you can't really do comparative suffering like that, since trigger events are deeply personal, but at the same time there are plenty worse ways to trigger, namely the Slaughterhouse Nine.
  
  Though if I'm remembering my statistics right, I'm pretty sure that there are only two people still alive who were triggered by the Nine, the rest having either killed themselves, gone insane and had to be put down, or died attempting a foolish revenge.
  
  Anyway, I've gotten off track.
  
  See, everyone dreams about getting powers.
  
  Even if you get a weak one like that girl in Stafford, whatever her name is. I just remember the memes about the 'Damsel in Distress'. To be fair, it is pretty funny watching that video of her 'valiantly' standing against her foes and throwing a dramatic arm forward that releases a ball of purple energy.
  
  Of course, that is when it stops being cool as her energy ball just zips around her target and hits her in the face.
  
  Now, you may be wondering how any of this is important enough to warrant an internal monolog, well that's quite simple.
  
  You see, about a month ago, I triggered. 𝘋𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵. And even though the experience was sufficiently traumatic as the stories tell you, by the morning I was ready to put the whole thing behind me and move onto greener pastures, as it were.
  
  I had thought I understood my power, thought that it was a simple one.
  
  See, I triggered as a Brute. I'm not sure what level I would fit on the PRT's scale, but my estimate would be around a Brute 5.
  
  While I wasn't really that much stronger, well, relatively speaking that is. Against any non cape, I am undefeatable in terms of strength, however, more that physical strength, I found that I am 𝘥𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦.
  
  As in, knives and stuff literally 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘱𝘪𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘯. Do you have any idea how insane it is to stab yourself and for the 𝘬𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘦 to be the one that gives?
  
  Not only that, but I regenerate too. That's where I wager most of my Brute rating would come from because I regenerate pretty fast. Without that, I would probably only be a 3 or so.
  
  However, that is not all!
  
  For there is another aspect to my power.
  
  I have these two weird, pulsing red tentacle ribbon-like things that I can manifest from my lower back and they are super long and agile and far stronger than my body.
  
  To be honest, I am not really sure what rating they fit into. Brute or Changer? Probably one of those.
  
  Not that it really matters in the end, because yet again, I have avoided what I consider to be the most important aspect of my power.
  
  After all, this aspect is the reason that I am here, on some random backroad in the countryside driving a recently stolen vehicle and with a corpse stinking up the backseat.
  
  See, I eat people.
  
  Or to be more precise, 𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯'𝘵 𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦.
  
  It didn't take me long to discover that I couldn't eat normal food, not that that is a surprise really since everything I ate tasted like raw, rotten 𝘧𝘪𝘭𝘵𝘩 packed inside a cockroach infested sweaty leather boot, all topped with a hefty dosing of year old milk.
  
  In simpler terms, it tasted bad.
  
  At first I sort of just shrugged it off as a quirk of my power, I was too excited by the prospect of beating up Villains, and maybe Heroes too, to bother with the fact that I apparently didn't need to eat anymore.
  
  Of course, it was a week later that I started to get 𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘨𝘳𝘺.
  
  That was when I noticed that despite everything in the fridge smelling like hot garbage, my mother smelt 𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘦.
  
  Imagine the greatest meal you've ever eaten, now image you have been fasting for a week and you come home to the smell of that meal invading the entire building. It was intoxicating.
  
  However, even with how fucked up in the head I may be, the thought of my 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 smelling like 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘥 made me panic.
  
  In that panic and hunger, I set out to eat everything.
  
  I tried every food available to me, every meat in the shops, every vegetable, every fruit, every biscuit and snack and drink.
  
  The only things I found that I could tolerate was water and weirdly enough, coffee.
  
  As the weeks past, I grew increasingly panicked.
  
  No one knew I triggered except my mom, but even then, I didn't tell her about how hungry I was.
  
  Though, she definitely notice that something was wrong, but she never said anything, letting me deal with my own problems until I ask her to help.
  
  I think that's what I loved the most about my mother, that we were both a little fucked up in the head, though myself clearly more so. See, we were both pretty apathetic individuals, and we were both very open with each other.
  
  In a normal family I think the conversation would have gone some thing like, 'is something wrong?', 'no', followed by an incessant back and forth, however with us it was always a lot more honest.
  
  "Is something the matter?" My mother asked me, fully aware that something was wrong but abiding social customs anyway.
  
  "Yeah, it sucks but I don't really wanna talk about it." I responded, withholding a grimace as another spike of pain shot through my gut.
  
  My mother simply looked at me in the eyes for a moment before shrugging and going back to her phone, "Fair 'nuff".
  
  And that was that.
  
  No needless arguments, no hidden words or lies.
  
  I feel tears come to my eyes and I let them fall even as I remain focused on the dark country road ahead.
  
  Of course, things can never end so easily.
  
  I think, if I lived a more average life, she might have survived, but I dropped out of school years ago and have been living alone with my mom, making meagre contributions to the rent via online work.
  
  Because of this, I didn't leave the house once while I hoped for the pain to go away. If I did, then maybe I would have killed someone else, but as it were, my hunger overtook me.
  
  I don't remember what happened exactly, it was sometime during the fourth week and I hadn't left my bed in days, then I heard my mom enter the flat and the next thing I remember I am kneeled down in our living room, covered in the same blood decorating the rest of the room.
  
  I remember trying to figure out what happened and looking down at the mangled remains of a corpse beneath me.
  
  Frankly it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened.
  
  𝘐 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳.
  
  It really says a lot about me as a person that rather than freaking out or crying or killing myself or something, all I did was tentatively lick my fingers, and once I discovered just how 𝘥𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 she tasted, I simply finished the meal.
  
  We are a pragmatic sort, my mother and I, so I at least know she would not have held any hard feeling on the matter. Probably.
  
  Granted, she would probably be a little miffed about me killing her in the first place, but I don't doubt that after the fact she would have simply shrugged and said 'waste not, want not' and all but told me to devour her.
  
  Like I said, we have always been a little fucked up.
  
  All of that, was only a couple of days ago.
  
  After having committed matricide, it was pretty obvious that I couldn't stick around, so after making sure nothing of my mother went to waste, I cleaned myself up, as well as the blood that had soaked into the carpet so that it didn't stink the place up, and then I got the hell outta dodge.
  
  I wasn't in a rush or anything, still aren't, but there was no need to waste time.
  
  I should have about 12 hours before my mothers absence is noted, and then another 24 before anybody will try and check up on her, at which point they will probably report her missing to the police.
  
  Then again, maybe she will just get fired and no one will call the cops, and since the flat won't start stinking up, thanks to my cleaning, it is entirely possible that no one will notice our absence until next months rent.
  
  So with plenty of time at my disposal, I was in no rush to leave and simply wondered around the edges of town, away from cameras and without any electronics on my person, until I found a truck, this truck, parked off the side of the road with it's owner sat in a foldable chair, fishing in a nearby lake.
  
  Though with it's size I would rather call it an exceptionally large pond.
  
  After looking around and making sure we were alone, I snuck up on the man. Not that it was difficult with the music he was playing and the beer he was drinking.
  
  Then I simply snapped his neck.
  
  Or, at least that was the plan.
  
  However, I hadn't exactly killed anyone before, at least not consciously, so even though I held no moral quandaries about it, I still hesitated, simply due to a lack of experience.
  
  The result was that I basically just roughly rubbed his face and scared the shit out of him.
  
  I must make an awful assassin because rather than 'pushing my advantage' or whatever, I just keeled over laughing my guts out.
  
  I mean seriously, he screamed like a dying chicken and jumped so hard out of his seat that he flew into the 'lake'.
  
  It was 𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴.
  
  Then again, I have always loved surprising people, as my mom had the misfortune of learning as I frequently hit around corners to scare the shit out of her, and she never learned.
  
  The guy was pretty pissed, but in the face of my wheezing laughter as I struggled to breathe, he calmed down enough to crack a smile and we ended up having a rather amicable conversation.
  
  To be honest, I kinda just forgot about what I was doing there in the first place. I only remembered once he caught a fish and mentioned eating it.
  
  With that reminder, I decided to go for round two and punched him in the face as hard as I could.
  
  I figured if we get into a fight then adrenaline would carry me to killing him without the natural hesitance. What I did not expect, was for him to simply go down and 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘺 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯.
  
  At first I thought I killed him in one punch and was ecstatic, but then he groaned and I figured I just gave him a concussion, which, while not as cool, was enough for my purposes.
  
  And that all leads to now, me, who has never driven a vehicle before, driving this mans truck with his body in the backseat for when I get hungry again.
  
  Then again, it has been about a day and I don't want to eat rotten meat, so I will probably just eat my fill in a couple of hours.
  
  As for my plans for the future?
  
  Well, I've always believed in making things up as you go, after all, your plans can't go wrong if you just don't make any plans.
  
  So for now, the first step is to find civilisation, because I am shit at geography and am simply picking roads at random, with no destination in mind.
  
  Either way, I hope I can have some fun wherever I end up.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I am finally back! and with a worm fic this time, her power is that she is now a Ghoul from Tokyo Ghoul, if you don't know what that means, well there isn't much to it to be honest, kinda like a weird vampire but they eat the whole body, not just blood. You can google it.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  2 Dreamer
  After a few more hours of driving I am starting to get tired.
  
  I've already eaten Mark, though I only had his arms and legs, since his organs started rotting and were yucky, and I since I don't know anything about body disposal, I just pulled over and threw what was left behind some trees.
  
  To be perfectly honest, even I find it kind of strange just how quickly I've adapted to the thought of cannibalism. I mean, I never doubted that I would get used to it, especially since I don't really suffer from any moral afflictions for it.
  
  As far as I am concerned, if eating people is what I gotta do then it's what I'll do. It's not like they matter anyway, after all, they aren't 𝘮𝘦 and really the only thing that should matter to anyone is ourselves because at least we know that we are real, you know?
  
  But even then, I had thought it would take me at least a week before I could eat humans as casually as, say, a burrito.
  
  However, after the first few tentative bites, I was already scarfing the rest down.
  
  Maybe it's got something to do with just how tasty people are, because I swear I have never eaten anything even half as good.
  
  Then again, maybe my body is making it taste extra good since it's the only thing I can eat.
  
  Eh, it doesn't really matter.
  
  What 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 however matter, is that I am sleepy and I am already a shit driver, having taught myself how only hours ago, without taking sleepiness into account.
  
  Which is why I find myself pulling into some homestead's house in the middle of the night.
  
  Ok, I don't actually know if it is the 𝘮𝘪𝘥𝘥𝘭𝘦 of the night or not, just that it's dark out. No need to be so pedantic.
  
  The house itself is nothing impressive, just a typical two floor house that you can find anywhere. Wait a minute, does the attic count as a floor?
  
  Who knows.
  
  As I pull into the drive at a speed that is probably too fast, I only barely avoid crashing into the blue pick up truck in front of the house by pulling the handbrake as I forgot which pedal was the stop one.
  
  Luckily for me, the lights are all off.
  
  Why is that lucky? Don't you want to ask to stay the night or something? I hear you ask.
  
  Well, allow me to reiterate something, just in case you missed it.
  
  𝘐. 𝘌𝘢𝘵. 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦.
  
  I have already resigned myself to living like the Slaughterhouse Nine, only with a lot less torture.
  
  After all, it doesn't really matter what I want, not with the hand I've been dealt. People aren't exactly accepting of cannibals these days, who would have thunked it.
  
  Then again, maybe I could live of off people who donate their bodies or even synthetic meat. It does seem to be an option, but it's one that relies on other people so ultimately it's not one I really want to take.
  
  I think it's far more likely that I will simply be killed rather than helped, especially since I'm not even that strong so there really wouldn't be a reason to help me.
  
  These thoughts play through my mind as I walk around the house, looking for any open windows and to my great joy I find one.
  
  Unfortunately it's on the second floor but I don't think that should be a problem with my swanky new power.
  
  Bending my knees, I put all of my strength into a straight jump and though I do barely make it high enough, I was too slow in grabbing the sill which resulted in me falling on my ass.
  
  Ow.
  
  Ok then, take two, electric boogaloo. With a metaphorical hop and a skip that is actually just one single jump, I remember to have my hands ready this time and barely reach the windowsill, leaving myself hanging by my fingertips.
  
  Lifting myself up is enjoyably easy. Really, I've never been that athletic, so feeling so strong and nimble is still pretty awesome.
  
  When I peek through the window, I am greeted by a rather bland room, but I guess that's what I get for living in Ohio.
  
  I mostly ignore the sparse decorations, though I do notice the rather obnoxious Legend poster, 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘣𝘰𝘸𝘴. Moving on from the unsubtle poster I look to the bed where a girl about my age is sleeping.
  
  Taking care to be as quiet as possible, I pull myself into the room, thankful that I thought to wear loose pants instead of jeans or something that would make climbing into a maybe underaged girls room difficult.
  
  Funny how life is, a month ago my biggest concern was whether I should eat breakfast or just sleep in and have brunch.
  
  Speaking of brunch, my eyes trail to the poor, innocent girl who is probably enjoying her dreams about handsome gay men, I can only assume by the Legend poster, but maybe that's too assumptive of me.
  
  As I get closer, I can better make out what the girl looks like, not that she's really much to see, brown hair down to her shoulders and a pretty average face with only a small amount of acne. Upon closer inspection, I was wrong about my initial assumption on her age. Rather than 19 like me, I's say she's closer to 16.
  
  I don't know what her body looks like under the covers and honestly I don't really care, I'm not hungry right now.
  
  So instead, I simply wrap my hands around her neck, gentle, like a lovers embrace, and then I 𝘴𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘦𝘻𝘦 and in a disgusting cracking pop, her neck is crushed underhand before she can so much as understand what is happening.
  
  Somehow, I keep forgetting that I am kinda strong now, I thought that would be like, half a minute of thrashing around before she died.
  
  Ah well, just makes things easier for me I guess.
  
  Now to move onto the parents, or parent, who knows?
  
  But as I turn to leave, my eye catches a full length mirror on the wall and I notice something distinctly new.
  
  Most of me looks the same, a young woman with blonde hair down to my back, a pair of white ear studs in my ears and a face that could easily be called beautiful. Then again, maybe I'm just vain. I mean, it's not like I'm Alexandria, but I was offered a modelling opportunity once, not that I would ever willingly step into the shithole that is modelling.
  
  However, instead of my normally pale green eyes, I am sporting a pair of eyes straight out of a horror movie. Honestly they're terrifying and I 𝘢𝘭𝘭 all for it. The iris itself is a startlingly bright crimson, shining like a pool of blood. Flowing away from the iris are small lines of red, like little streams separating from a lake of blood they flow over my now black sclera and leak out a little bit around the eyes like a spiderweb.
  
  I'm not gonna sugar-coat it, I look fucking awesome. It almost makes up for the whole cannibalism thing. Ok, that's a lie, it's just hit me that I'm never going to be able to eat chocolate again, or drink coke, OH FUCK! I can't drink booze anymore!
  
  Man, this sucks, ah well, no use complaining, I should go find out whether it's parent or parents.
  
  Turns out it was singular, just some middle aged man who joined his daughter in having a broken neck, after which he joined her in her room as well, because I wanted the king sized bed he died on.
  
  Now, time to get some shuteye, I should make it to a city by tomorrow, I assume.
  
  Again, I don't really know where I am driving, but it would be nice to be in civilisation again.
  
  After getting comfortable, I close my eyes and slowly drift off to sleep.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘴 𝘪𝘯. 𝘐 𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘵.
  
  𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘐 𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘪𝘳 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘺𝘳𝘶𝘱 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥.
  
  "𝘊𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘮. 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺?"
  
  𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘧 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘐'𝘮 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘥.
  
  "𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯'𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘦 𝘓𝘶𝘴𝘪."
  
  𝘚𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘐 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘣𝘦𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘦, "𝘌𝘩𝘦, 𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘺 '𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵. 𝘐 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯'𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘰, 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘣𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘧 𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰. 𝘚𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘺."
  
  "𝘋𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 '𝘦𝘩𝘦' 𝘮𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘥𝘺𝘬𝘦. 𝘕𝘰𝘵 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘢 𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘬𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵?"
  
  𝘐 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘴𝘩 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘴𝘰 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘢𝘴 𝘧𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘶𝘻 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘯'𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘺, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘩𝘳𝘶𝘨 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴. "𝘞𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵, 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵, 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵?" 𝘐 𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘴𝘬, 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘸.
  
  "𝘍𝘢𝘪𝘳 𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩," 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘴, "𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘢𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶."
  
  𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘴𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘩 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯, 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦.
  
  "𝘞𝘦𝘭𝘭, 𝘐 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺, 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘴𝘰 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺?"
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘐 𝘥𝘰 𝘧𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘩 𝘴𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 '𝘐'𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘥, 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥' 𝘵𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘴.
  
  "𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵? 𝘐 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘢 𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧𝘧 𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘥." 𝘐 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘯𝘥.
  
  "𝘖𝘳, 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘴," 𝘮𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘵𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘴 𝘐'𝘮 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘪𝘥, "𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘤𝘬?"
  
  ... 𝘰𝘩. 𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯'𝘵 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵? 𝘐 𝘨𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘐'𝘮 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘢 𝘰𝘧 '𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱' 𝘢𝘯𝘥 '𝘣𝘦𝘥' 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘺𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘺𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘴.
  
  "𝘌𝘩𝘦, 𝘰𝘰𝘱𝘴?"
  
  "𝘠𝘰𝘶'𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴, 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵? 𝘈𝘵 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦. 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳, 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰."
  
  𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵?
  
  "𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯?"
  
  𝘚𝘶𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦, 𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘩 𝘸𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘴, "𝘞𝘈𝘒𝘌 𝘜𝘗!"
  
  Jolting up with my heart pounding in my chest, I take a moment to gather my bearings before I recognise the room I'm in and recall what happened yesterday.
  
  The dull covers slide down my bare body, so I like to sleep naked, fuck you, as I look out the window and the midday sun shining through it.
  
  Guess I slept in.
  
  Right, I should probably get going.
  
  First things first I head to the girls room to look for some clothes, as I kinda, mighta got some blood on mine.
  
  Now that I think about it, I should probably burn those clothes, and now that I think about that, I should probably do something about the bodies.
  
  Well, I say that, but it's not like I'm a cop or something, I don't exactly know how to 'cover my tracks' as it were, so I'm just going to go with the idea that the less information available to find the less likely I'll get caught.
  
  I mean, what could they know so far?
  
  Me and my mom have disappeared, reasons unknown, and then a short time later another family pair goes missing, reasons once again unknown.
  
  Most likely they will assume that we have both been kidnapped and presumably will be looking for the mysterious kidnapper in a few days at most.
  
  All this means that I need to hide the bodies.
  
  Eh, I'll just throw them in the truck and dump them behind some trees like the other guy.
  
  Man, I am really lazy about this whole hiding evidence thing.
  
  Ah well, I'm sure it'll be fine.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  3 Decisions Snoisiced
  If you asked Noah what it was like working for the PRT, he would tell you that he's just glad he was born in Ohio, because even if the job of being a PRT director was a massive headache most of the time, he could at least take solace in the fact that he doesn't have to deal with half the shit the other directors complain about.
  
  Hell, it wasn't that long ago that poor Armstrong had to deal with that 'Boston Games' incident, and what a shitshow that was.
  
  But not here in Ohio, other than those Orchard assholes, most of the capes 'round here tend not to be so violent. The only downside of that is that it means the villains aren't killing each other, leaving our Hero to Villain ratio almost as bad as Brockton Bay, and isn't that just a scary thought.
  
  However, the other shoe always has to drop, and the report on the table in front of him tells Noah that his days of relative peace are under threat of coming to an end.
  
  "So what you're telling me is, a probably cape powered cannibal is on it's way to Columbus, and we know nothing about them?"
  
  Noah looks around the room after he's finished speaking, taking in the sight of his advisors and heads of various divisions of the PRT, the only cape present being the leader of the local Protectorate, Bungee.
  
  "Well, I wouldn't say we know nothing, I've already gotten our Thinkers on the job of finding out as much as possible-"
  
  Before the young upstart, Duncan, can finish his sentence, Bungee cuts him off with a wry smile, "'Our Thinkers'? Just say you asked Cousin, no need to act like we have Watchdog on call."
  
  It takes some effort for Noah to keep a straight face at the pinched expression Duncan makes. Honestly though, the young man tries far too hard to make himself sound more important than he is. 'Our Thinkers' he says.
  
  We have one thinker, Cousin, and he isn't even that good at reconnaissance since all his power does is tell them about whoever they make contact with, from body type to their favourite food. He makes a great therapist but in the world of capes all he is really good for is violating those 'unwritten rules'.
  
  As an aside, he chose his name because he claims that only a cousin could possibly know so much about you even when you don't remember shit about them.
  
  Duncan's voice startles Noah out of his thoughts, bringing his attention back to the meeting at hand.
  
  "*Ahem* Point is, we do not know nothing." Duncan says with mild embarrassment that bleeds into irritation as Bungee once again speaks up before he can say more.
  
  "Then would you mind telling us what we Do know, instead of wasting our time?" Bungee could not be more obvious in his goading and Noah idly wonders why he is so upset with Duncan.
  
  Pushing down his irritation, Duncan acquiesces and starts properly briefing us on what we know about this supposed cannibal.
  
  "What we know is that their first victims were likely a mother daughter pair living in Utica. The two of them, Ashley Abel, the mother and Lusia Abel the daughter, disappeared one week ago today, Miss Abel didn't show up for work and was later reported missing, to compound with this, one Markus Finch was also reported missing at around the same time and his truck stolen.
  
  "Following tire tracks of Mr Finch's last known location we were able to discover the culprits general direction, following which Mr Finch's body was discovered dismembered and thrown into the foliage beside the road. The body was at least three days old by the time forensics found it and they say that his limbs were ripped off of the body and his torso was also opened in a similar fashion, though only his heart was missing. From this at least we can give a tentative Brute 2 for being able to rip limbs off with sheer strength."
  
  A few of the people present wince slightly at the gory description, and some even turn green as they open the manila folder and see the photo's taken by forensics.
  
  "Further down the same road, another pair of dead were discovered, a father and daughter this time. They were both found dead in the same room with the same cause of death, a crushing of the neck, once again proving that Brute 2 is a minimum. However, only the daughter, one Taylor Laborne, was mutilated, having one of her legs ripped off.
  
  "From the information available, I believe that our cannibal must have triggered some time between one week and one month ago, following which they engaged in cannibalism, likely devouring Miss Abel and her daughter in their entirety, but it is possible that only the mother was eaten and that the daughter was kidnapped instead-"
  
  Noah can't help but interrupt at that last bit of information.
  
  "Wait, what do you mean kidnapped? Where could this information possibly have come from?"
  
  "Ah, that," Duncan says with a snap of his fingers, "after Mr and Miss Laborne were found and this case opened, I sent Cousin to Miss Abel's flat, since their disappearances happened at around the same time as Markus Finch's and he discovered that while the flat had been cleaned, there was still some blood left on the walls and carpet and he used his power to confirm the identity of who the blood belonged to, however there was only Miss Ashley's blood left and none of the daughters, meaning she might have been unharmed."
  
  With that out of the way, Noah signals for Duncan to continue, which he does with a nod.
  
  "As I was saying, it is likely that Miss Ashley was completely eaten, and then Mr Finch was only half eaten, following which the Labornes were hardly touched in comparison. This leads me to believe that the first instance was out of starvation, either physical or mental, but with the later victims, I fear that they are becoming more... picky."
  
  The already sombre mood quickly plummets as everybody realises the implications of a picky cannibal.
  
  After all, if they only want specific parts, then they will have to kill more people to get their fill. Quite the frightening prospect.
  
  "This new cape is clearly still figuring things out, it would be best if we can put a stop to them as soon as possible. Do we have any idea where they may be now?" The head of the troopers demands.
  
  "Ah.. about that. Judging from the age of the bodies and the direction of the vehicle.. it's quite likely that they are already here, in Columbus." One of the techies hesitantly responds.
  
  Following which, orders are given and plans are made, after all, it's best to capture this new cape while they are still young and making mistakes.
  
  Still, Noah couldn't help but worry. Even now, that monster is walking around his city and all he can do worry and fear about what heinous acts they could be committing right this very moment.
  
  The only comfort he can find is the hope that they will have this cannibal behind bars by weeks end.
  
  ...
  
  Man, even ice cream tastes like shit.
  
  Wait, do you think you can make human flavoured ice cream?
  
  It shouldn't be too hard actually, to make a blood slushy or something.
  
  Eh, I'll think about it later.
  
  It does really suck though, see, after I arrived in a city, Columbus, the first thing I did was find some place to sleep, which was as simple as finding an abandoned house and breaking in.
  
  But after that, I finally took a moment to just 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘱 and relax. Naturally, that was when I had a 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘰𝘳 panic attack.
  
  I guess I was running on adrenaline or something, maybe shock. I mean, I 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 my 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳!
  
  How fucked up is that? Then what, I just went about my day? Killed another guy then two more for what was basically no reason whatsoever.
  
  I think I was just in shock or something, maybe. It's not like I really regret any of it, well, I regret killing my mom obviously, but I didn't really do that consciously, so it doesn't count.
  
  However, I am a little.. miffed? That I was so casual about becoming a murderer. I mean, I always knew I was fucked up, my mom knew it as well, even if she never liked it. But to accept being a murderer so easily? Well, if I had any hope that there was still some humanity inside of me, it's safe to say that hope is lost.
  
  Well, no point in dwelling on things I don't like to think about. Instead, it is more important that I figure out what the fuck am I going to do with my life now?
  
  I mean, I can hardly even be called human anymore and I don't exactly have someone I can leech off of anymore to live like a NEET.
  
  Not that I want to now that I have 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘴. No, I want something 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦. I'm just not entirely sure what exactly it is that I want yet.
  
  Well, let's go over what I need. First there is food, which has a whole lot of problems attached to it, then there's shelter and preferably some luxuries as well, Wi-Fi, comfy clothes and furniture, shit like that.
  
  Now, most of that can be solved with money, though I think it will probably be easier to get the food myself, unless you can just, like, buy body parts from hospitals or morgues or something.
  
  Now, money. How do you make money? You get a job. Fuck working some shitty normie job though, I have 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘴. I 'ain't gonna be some desk jockey.
  
  So, how does a cape make money? I could join the protectorate. I have no idea what they get paid, but going off what they offer to the Wards and the probably considerable 'hazard pay' as well as the fact that the incentives have to be good enough to stop people from turning villain, I'd imagine they are paid well.
  
  There is only one problem with that however, you see, I really, 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 hate being told what to do. I value my freedom above all things, hence why I refused to get some shitty job beforehand, because I didn't want to work nine to five and that is enough reason for me.
  
  With that in mind, working for a, most likely heavily regulated, governmental organisation is probably not something that would work out long term.
  
  Like, I have had a job once, working in a Sooubway and I lasted all of two weeks before I was contemplating suicide and decided that it'd be best to quit.
  
  Well, I say quit, but I decided it would be more fun to get fired instead, so I just started giving free shit away to everyone who came in, I still remember those times fondly, 'Oh, you only want a six inch sub? Sure, but would you like a free muffin and maybe a few cookies? I'm getting fired so it's on the house.'
  
  Unsurprisingly, everyone was rather receptive of my aggressive charity. Aggressive because if they would refuse I would just keep offering shit until they accepted something.
  
  Ahh, fun times.
  
  With all that in mind, it seems I will have to use the other method for capes to make money, which is to say, crime.
  
  A shiver of excitement spreads through my body at the thought.
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩, 𝘧𝘶𝘯 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘥.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  The time for crime is nigh!
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  4 Breaking Tropes
  So, crime.
  
  How does one do crime?
  
  More importantly, how does one make money doing crime?
  
  Honestly, this is kinda new territory for me, the most illegal things I've done being petty theft and throwing rocks with copper wire wrapped around them at telephone wires, so I wasn't entirely sure how to go about it, but then I had the most amazing idea I must have ever had in my life.
  
  Ok, that's an exaggeration, but it is a pretty good idea.
  
  See, I may not know how to do Le Crimes, but do you know who does know how to do La Crime? Criminals.
  
  It seems obvious when I actually think the words.
  
  Anyway, since I don't know how to make money doing crimes, I will just find criminals that do know how to make money, and then rob them of all their crime money.
  
  I mean, at that point, am I even a criminal? Is it illegal to steal from a thief?
  
  No idea, but I did just remember that I'm a murderer now so the argument of whether or not I'm a criminal is kinda pointless.
  
  Now however, I have come to a roadblock of sorts.
  
  You see, I did a little light theft last night to get a disguise, nothing extensive, just a beanie to hide my hair, and a Halloween mask depicting a scary lookin' clown, under which I also have a domino mask over my eyes and a surgical mask over my mouth, cuz what if the first mask falls off?
  
  It's not like it's designed for high intensity fights, not that I intend to get into any high intensity fights before even getting some more cash to fall back on.
  
  I also got some coloured contact lenses, only to then realise that there is no real point in doing so and throwing them away, since I can just change my eyes into the cool looking scary version whenever I'm doing cape activities, only to 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 realise that I can still use the coloured contact lenses for my more civilian activities, since I am 'missing' or whatever, maybe 'dead'.
  
  So then I had to get a new handful of contact lenses, cuz putting something in your eyes that has been thrown in the trash is just stupid. Then again, I seem to heal pretty well, so who knows? Not that I really want to test that regeneration any time ever. I am no masochist thank you very much.
  
  But even after all of that, when I was finally standing in my swanky new mask(s) and dressed up in some tight but flexible black clothing, I realised something of grave importance.
  
  I have no fucking idea how to find criminals.
  
  It's not like they just advertise themselves right?
  
  These thoughts led to me once again stripping and putting back on my normal clothes, putting my tentatively named 'cape outfit' in a bag, with the idea that if I, an attractive woman (fuck you, I'm vain), simply walked around the seedier neighbourhoods at night, maybe some gangster will come along and try kidnap me or something.
  
  I mean, I'm assuming that someone will try something if I just walk around for a few hours, and then when they do I can be all like, "Aha! You have fallen for my trap criminal! What's that? No, no I'm not a Hero, in fact, I'm a cannibal! Rawr!".
  
  ... Ok, I wouldn't say 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺 those words, but you get the general idea, it's like entrapment. I think. Honestly for all that I can be super smart sometimes, I am kinda dumb most of all the time, so I rarely really know what the fuck I'm talking about, but hey, just go with the flow and everything will work out in the end.
  
  Probably.
  
  So here I am, wearing tight jeans and a red crop top, just to be extra.. uh.. bait-ey? Uh, to be... more attractive as bait? Fuck the english language you get what I mean.
  
  I'm also wearing an open blue hoodie and a stylish white scarf to cover my mouth with, as well as one of my contact lenses, giving me blue eyes.
  
  Honestly, it's not much of a disguise, but it's not like I really need to be overly paranoid about this. I mean, if it was 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘰𝘯 looking for me or something, I have no doubt that she would have found me by now with such a shitty disguise, but I'm willing to bet that at the most all anyone is doing to find me is running my face through some facial recognition software connected to traffic cams and CCTV and shit.
  
  I'm not sure if you have ever seen facial recognition software at work, but unless it's the super advanced stuff, then it's kinda very easy to avoid, so long as I don't start staring directly into every camera I see, and I highly doubt my case is priority enough to warrant the advanced shit.
  
  In conclusion, my shoddy disguise should be good enough that no one is going to find me. Why don't I wear a wig? Blonde hair isn't exactly a distinctive trait to track me down with dumbass.
  
  Fuck, I am so bored.
  
  I have been walking around for like, an hour or two, something in the middle, and other than a few wolf whistles that I didn't care about and some more lecherous gazes, nobody has so much as tried to molest me, never mind mug me!
  
  Arrgh! it's so frustrating!
  
  It almost makes me laugh, the thought that I am complaining about no one trying to molest me. Powers sure do make life interesting. But I stop myself from laughing, because that would make me look crazy, and crazy people don't get mugged, cuz you don't fuck with crazy people.
  
  They are after all, crazy.
  
  Half an hour later and I am really regretting my choice of ditching all of my electronics, even with the knowledge of how easy it would be to track me should I have kept them.
  
  I should have stolen a new phone before doing this, it's not like they could track me down from a phone that is completely unrelated to me, so long as I don't do anything that I used to do on my old phone, like log into my 'gram, not that I ever used the thing but you get the point.
  
  Frankly, I never really had any interest in anything social media besides the memes. I mostly used my phone to play Minesweeper or Solitaire. They're simple but I like them. Better than that 'rot your brain with a gazillion 12 second videos' app.
  
  However, my thoughts are broken as I 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 smell a pair of people rapidly approaching me from behind.
  
  Is it weird that the first indication I have of their presence is their 𝘴𝘮𝘦𝘭𝘭? Yes. Am I going to dwell on that fact? No.
  
  Instead, I am going to take this left turn into what seems to be 'Shady Alleyway Number 4'.
  
  Ohhh nooo~ it's a dead end~~ what ever am I going to do~?
  
  I jump a little when I get to the end of the alley, to sell the impression that I was just lost in thought or something and didn't realise I took a wrong turn, then I turn around to face my hopefully would-be muggers slash molesters.
  
  Looking at the two of them, I check them both out. The one on the left has short blond hair and blue eyes with pale skin, very aryan, while the other one has brown hair in a braid going down his back almost as far as my own and has matching eyes and dark skin.
  
  Hitler would be mad, seeing an aryan hanging out with a black.
  
  The pair of them aren't wearing gang colours, actually never mind, I have no idea what 'gang colours' look like nor how to identify them, but they are just wearing casual clothes, both wearing cargo pants, one black the other green camo, and they are both also wearing black hoodies.
  
  However, the blonds hoody is unzipped, showing a shirt underneath that has a stylized 'We're the three best friends that anyone could have!' with a chibi drawing of the Triumvirate underneath and a faded drawing of Hero behind a red X.
  
  Ok, that's a pretty funny shirt and I can't resist the undignified snort that comes out of me when I see it which makes him smile with what can only be pride.
  
  Before I can even open my mouth to say some movie worthy lines about muggers and having a bad time, the white guy speaks up first.
  
  "You like it? I had to custom order it, cost me like 70 bucks." He says whole gesturing to his body to properly show his shirt off.
  
  Once again, before I can open my mouth the black dude speaks up this time.
  
  "Ignore James, he has a horrible sense of humour, he was raised by a diener and a comedian and it left his sense of humour irrevocably broken." He says, while pushing the now named James' head to the side, even as he sniggers.
  
  "Wait, what do you mean a diner? Do you mean they worked 𝘪𝘯 a diner?" I ask without even realising that I have been dragged into a conversation when I was expecting a fight.
  
  "Nah, a diener, d-i-e, it's what you call someone who works in a mortuary, oh my name is Theo by the way, nice to meet you." Theo clarifies while extending a hand to shake.
  
  Without really thinking about it I reach out and shake his hand and introduce myself, only remembering half way through not to use my actual name.
  
  "Ah, uh, yeah, nice to meet you too, my name is.. Alice."
  
  This really isn't going how I thought it would go.
  
  "Well Alice!" White guy James reinstates himself into the conversation with all the grace of a dictator, "we only came over 'cuz we guessed you were new in town and didn't know what you were doing, see, your heading into Red Branch territory right now, so it'd probably be best if you take a detour or something, 'cuz those Irish pricks wouldn't let you just pass through without starting some shit."
  
  What.
  
  Are you telling me that not only am I not getting mugged slash molested, but they are actually just tryna be nice?
  
  This isn't going how I thought it would 𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭.
  
  "Uh, Red Branch territory? Can you like, mark out gang territory for me? So I know where to avoid?" I ask, thinking that this can be an even better opportunity than getting mugged.
  
  My question makes them both smile for some reason before Theo speaks up again.
  
  "Sure, you got a map though?"
  
  Embarrassingly, I didn't think to get a map to help me navigate this new city I have found myself in, which is pretty dumb in retrospect.
  
  Not that it matters, because apparently James works in the PRT and is the guy who does the tours so he just so happened to have a map of the city and a pen on hand.
  
  Following which, they do a little doodling and give me a map that has the basic outlines of gang territory and where the Protectorate patrols as well as a brief rundown on the cities capes and how the gangs act.
  
  Honestly this whole thing has been a godsend, these two are like a treasure trove of information and seem perfectly willing to share that information, and I don't forget to tell them.
  
  "Thank you so much, honestly, you guys are like a godsend, I won't lie, I didn't know even a single thing you just told me, so thanks a bunch for the info."
  
  "Hey, it's cool, times can be tough, we're happy to help and don't have anything going on right now anyway. Do you want us to walk you to wherever you're staying?" James offers with a surprising sincerity.
  
  Well, I can't just lead them to where I'm staying, since I broke into an abandoned house and that's not exactly legal, so I say the first thing that comes to mind.
  
  "Ah, actually, I just got here so if you could show me to a hotel or something, that'd be perfect." I say, not realising my mistake until it's too late.
  
  "Shit, you don't have somewhere to stay the night? You could crash at our place for a few nights if you want, just until you get yourself on your feet, I know how it is." Theo gives me a sympathetic look as he puts a hand on my shoulder and squeezes it gently.
  
  Seriously, what the fuck is it with these two assholes being so damn nice!
  
  "Ah, I wouldn't want to intrude." Comes my lame response that James quickly dismantles.
  
  "Eh, it's cool, we live together anyway and it's a two bedroom but I crash on the couch most nights anyway, so you can take my bed 'till you get a place of your own to stay."
  
  They must have noticed my perplexed face because they both chuckle a little before they turn and lead me away, Theo patting me on the back as he does so.
  
  "Don't worry about it, we've both been there before, we know how it is. We won't pry but know that if ya need anything you can always ask and we'd be happy to help, and if you think it's unfair or something, then you can always pay us back later when you can support yourself."
  
  Goddamn what is in the water here.
  
  As I get led down the street by a pair of the nicest strangers I have ever met, a genuine, happy smile lights up my face for the first time in weeks.
  
  I guess I can always beat up criminals another day.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I was going to do the stereotype, but then I figured that not everyone walking around at night is an asshole.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  5 Interesting Conversation
  "Alright, we'll both get back while you're out, so just remember to lock the door behind you and we'll see you tonight!" James waves over his shoulder as he and Theo leave the flat early in the morning to go to their jobs.
  
  Yesterday really didn't go how I was expecting it to.
  
  For one, the boys held up to their promise and let me crash with them for now. We all went straight to sleep once we got here, the flat being in the centre of Columbus, a similar distance from the PRT(Parahuman Response Team) and CPD(Columbus Police Department) buildings, since that is where the two of them work.
  
  Yes, I do see the irony of living with two people who work in law enforcement, not that James technically does any law enforcement, since he's more of an intern, but Theo at least is on active duty.
  
  Frankly, the irony of the situation is far too funny for me to do anything to change it, though it is slightly annoying that I will now have to make sure to keep my blue contact lenses on whenever I'm around them.
  
  Now, as James said before he left, I am going to go 'job hunting' some time in the afternoon, which is to say I will be using my fancy new map to run around gang territory in my 'cape outfit' to see if I can't find me some crime money.
  
  I really have no idea what I am doing.
  
  Oh well, I'm sure I will figure it out in time.
  
  I leave the flat with my Bag of Belongings that holds literally everything I own right now, which is just a change of clothes, some canned coffee, because 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵'𝘴 a thing apparently, I was never much of a coffee girl before it was the literal only thing I can drink, as well as about a grand in cash, which is mostly made up of birthday and christmas money that I never spent.
  
  It's already late in the evening at 8pm when I leave, only an hour or so before the boys would be getting back and I walk around a bit, slowly making my way back to the territory of the Irish gang Red Branch, before I find a nice, out of the way alley that I can use to change into my 'outfit'.
  
  I leave the my bag in the alley underneath a dumpster, since I don't think it's gonna get collected anytime soon and I doubt any non cape could lift it.
  
  With that out of the way, I jump straight to the roof in a single bound and start running around, kinda just hoping something would happen.
  
  I feel like this isn't the most efficient way to go about this, but eh, I'm sure it will work out in the end, and I am proven right not even a full hour later.
  
  With the sun fully set, and the night sky greeting the world, I spy a pair of men wearing matching green bandannas who are doing what is clearly a shady deal with some other guy just on the corner of the street.
  
  If I had to guess, it's a drug deal, I'm not sure what gave it away, but it might have been the ziplock bag filled with white powder trading hands, but hey, what do I know? Maybe there's a sugar shortage and this guy can't live without his morning coffee with two sugars-
  
  Aaand he's just put some on his hand and snorted it.
  
  Well, that's fun. I'm just going to wait for him to leave before I go and have a 'friendly conversation' with those two fellows down there on the street like a pair of mortals, only cool guys like me ride the rooftops.
  
  That was such a lame thing to say, even without anyone to hear me I'm embarrassed for just thinking it.
  
  Whatever, they're alone now and no one else seems to be occupying the street, so now is my time to shine.
  
  Sneaking across the rooftops, keeping to the shadows, I arrive on the building that they are standing underneath and approach the edge, contemplating how to go about this.
  
  One option is to simply jump down, but the other, cooler option, is to use my freaky blood ribbon things that grow from my back and use them to hang upside down so they can only see my face without looking up.
  
  It would certainly add to the intimidation factor, the blatant use of powers means they wouldn't be able to rationalise things until they think they could stand a chance against me, but then there's the fact that no one knows about my ability and it's just common sense to keep an ace in the hole.
  
  Anyone who doesn't get that has clearly never cheated at, I mean, played poker.
  
  Decision made, I crouch on the edge and listen in on my vict- future conversation partners, so I can get a nice and dramatic opening to enter from, only to freeze once I actually start listening to them.
  
  "-ook, I'm not saying ye're fucked in the head, but how could ya possibly 𝘧𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘻𝘦 the fecking 𝘚𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘯? Do ya not get how fucked that is?" Drug Dealer Numero Uno says with completely understandable incredulity.
  
  However, Drug Dealer Duo, clearly disagrees, "First of all, vore has been a fetish since the 90s, secondly she literally walks around naked, 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦, and you can't honestly tell me that the Siberian isn't really fecking hot, just physically speaking, lastly, don't kink shame me." Comes DDD's vehement rebuttal that stuns both Uno and I into momentary silence.
  
  After a moment passes, Uno regains his composure and proceeds to really rip into Mr DDD.
  
  "No, I will shame you, vore is fecked, it's literally cannibalism! What part of being eaten could 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘺 be fecking erotic!? Not ta' mention, who gives a feck if the Siberian has a hot body, she's still a 𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘭 and 𝘢 𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘕𝘪𝘯𝘦! You need to see a fucking shrink Shaun."
  
  "I d'nay need a fecking shrink Sean!" DDD responds, his voice rising with his agitation, "It's not like my art is hurting anybody! Just 'cuz I like to draw it, doesn't mean I'm gonna fecking 𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺. It's just fantasy! I know you watch incest shit, you don't hear me saying your gonna literally fuck your mother, do you?!"
  
  I ignore Uno's response as their argument gets more heated and instead just think to myself.
  
  How the fuck am I supposed to insert myself into this?
  
  I didn't think they would be having such a strange conversation, and frankly DDD is making me a little uncomfortable, since he is basically fetishizing me.
  
  At the very least, I am definitely not going to be eating that guy, not that I'm really even hungry right now but still.
  
  Should I just jump down now? The argument doesn't seem to be ending..
  
  Maybe I can just act like I dropped down as soon as I saw them, and that I didn't hear any of their conversation?
  
  Fuck it, I will do that, I'm wasting time just sitting here otherwise.
  
  Decision made, I don't waste any more time and jump forward slightly, landing in front of them in a crouch, enjoying the way their eyes widen in shock at my sudden appearance.
  
  I had decided how I was going to act in my 'cape persona' back when I got my mask. See, I believe that a life you don't enjoy is not a life worth living, so whatever it is that I am doing, I strive to at the very least, make sure that I enjoy myself and have a little fun.
  
  So, considering the clown mask, which is pure white with a pair of eyeholes that properly display my own glowing red irises, with a pink tear trailing down below my right eye and a black triangle pointing up above my left and a wide, toothy smile with lips almost as red as my eyes and teeth that I painted black.
  
  I decided that it only makes sense to be more 'energetic' as it were.
  
  It also help for intimidation. It's basic math really, the human mind that is, push certain buttons and you get specific reactions, I've always felt that people overcomplicate the act of inter-personal relations.
  
  On one hand I could be demanding and threatening, but on the other I could be completely casual and threatening, and that is generally far scarier, since it gives off the image that you are so far beneath me that I don't even need to put on any airs.
  
  Pushing my thoughts to the back of my head, I leap up from my crouch and flash the two Irishmen a peace sign.
  
  "Aaand she sticks the landing! Hey there! Lovely night out huh?" I speak with a positively cheerful tone as the two fetishists gather their bearings and immediately set out to conform to stereotypes.
  
  "Who the fuck are you!? This is Red Branch territory, if you're here to cause trouble then fuck of, you might be a cape but that doesn't mean Cu won't feckin' spear you!" DDD threatens, even as he takes a step back after looking into my eyes.
  
  Honestly, after meeting with James and Theo, I'm kinda glad for the normalcy of a gangbanger being a typical gangbanger.
  
  Still, I want to keep up the juxtaposition between innocence and scariness, so I make sure to choose my words carefully, my every action measured.
  
  "Uwaaah~ so scary~" I whine as I take a step back and crouch down, putting my hands over my mask, but peaking through my fingers, making sure my eyes never leave theirs, even as I speak as childishly as I can, sounding like a child throwing a tantrum at first, before my voice drops low and quiet with a threatening edge that they clearly don't miss, "I only wanted to talk!~ But I guess we can skip to the end if you want?"
  
  Not waiting for them to respond, I lurch forward faster than they can properly react and grab them both by the face before slamming both of my hands down to the pavement below, making sure to control my strength so that I don't injure them too much.
  
  "My my~ You guys are like, sooo~ clumsy, falling over like that," I quip with the inflection of a typical white trash woman, "maybe if you answer some of my questions, I'll help you up?"
  
  Looking past where my hands are holding the two of them down, I can tell that my act of instability is working just fine if the fear in their eyes is anything to go off, why I can practically smell it.
  
  Wait, is that a feature of my power? Can I literally smell fear?
  
  Something to test later, business first.
  
  "F-fuck you! F-fucking p-psycho bitch! I ain't no snit-" Uno is, unfortunately cut off before he can finish by his own bloodcurdling scream as, once again faster than they can react, I move my hand from his face to his arm and using my leg on his torso as leverage, I rip his entire arm off from the base in one brutal move.
  
  "Sh-sh shhh. There's no need to scream, everything's going to be ok" I hush him, knowing full well how hypocritical it is to pretend to care for his well being at this point.
  
  But he isn't the important one here anyway, this show is all for ol' Triple D.
  
  And as Uno's whimpers die down to light sobs as he starts to get woozy from blood loss, I turn to my other new friend and one look in his blown wide eyes and I can tell that he will tell me everything I want to know, and so I started asking my questions.
  
  Less than an hour later and I am back to jumping across the rooftops, only this time with an actual direction in mind.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  And things will start kicking off now, I have a very vague plan, almost as vague as my plan was for Murder Wizard. All in all, should be fun
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  6 Making Friends Again
  It barely takes me ten minutes of roof hopping to get to the supposed 'stash house'.
  
  I've watched enough movies to know that simply barging in isn't a good idea, so I come to a stop on a building across the street from the small warehouse to allow myself a little observation.
  
  The building itself isn't a full warehouse, which makes sense since despite being towards the less populated parts of the city, we aren't actually in a warehouse district.
  
  Instead, it looks to me like the building was just a storage building for the business adjacent to it that has clearly been long out of business.
  
  From the worn down sign of the abandoned shop next door, I think this used to be a textile shop of some sort, so I assume the warehouse was used for making shirts or something.
  
  I shrug my shoulders at the redundant information and focus back on the warehouse.
  
  The front only has a single pair of double doors, so I assume there is a larger opening in the back for delivery trucks and the like. There also doesn't seem to be any guards that are readily apparent, but even from here I can smell the people inside.
  
  With nothing really jumping out to me, I decide not to bother with continued observation and instead make my way over to the building itself, keeping as quiet as I can as I scale my way to the roof, something made all the easier by the fact that I can make my own handholds by simply digging my superhumanly strong fingers into the wall.
  
  Once I make it to the top I am greeted by the disappointment that is a warehouse without a skylight.
  
  No cool, dramatic entrance for me I guess.
  
  Whatever, see if I care.
  
  Making my way to the back of the building, I look down from the roof and see that yes, there is in fact a loading bay, however, luckily for me the two small windows at the top of the garage door seem to be unbarred.
  
  With that in mind, I hop down from the roof, however due to poor form rather than landing in a silent crouch like I intended, I end up sort of just crumpling to the ground in a mildly painful jumble of limbs.
  
  Ow.
  
  Ignoring that, I jump back to my feet and use the age old tactic of digging my fingers into the wall like a spider to climb high enough that I can actually 𝘴𝘦𝘦 through the windows.
  
  When I finally do take a peek inside, I feel somewhat disappointed by what I see.
  
  I don't know what I was expecting really, maybe a line of half naked women cutting coke or something interesting like that.
  
  Instead, all I get is a group of four pasty white dudes playing poker. To separate them I quickly name them all. First there's Mr Buzzcut, then there's James Blond, Mr Baseball Bat and lastly, The Woman.
  
  I really shouldn't be disappointed, after all, the easier this is the better.
  
  But at the same time, I was really hoping this would be like in the movies.
  
  Eh, whatever, anything can be fun if you try hard enough, so I guess I'll just see how it goes and try to get a good mix of enjoying myself and making that sweet, sweet crime money.
  
  Now that I'm aware that this isn't some den filled with fighters, I don't really see the point of going the sneaky route anymore, so I decide to simply do what I avoided at the start.
  
  The classic loud and proud approach it is.
  
  Taking a deep breath, I steel my nerves, this is my first time, obviously I'm going to be nervous, and I mentally flip a switch to stop acting like myself and instead start acting like my cape persona.
  
  Taking one last deep breath, I plant my hands on the wall above the window, gripping deep into the cement, and I swing backwards until my body is horizontal, then as gravity takes hold of me I swing back down, letting go of the wall as I do so.
  
  Smashing through the glass feet first and flying into the warehouse was exciting, but rolling across the floor in a completely uncontrolled manner after I fail to stick the landing is just embarrassing.
  
  Thankful for my mask hiding my blushing face, I jump to my feet as soon as I stop rolling, and turn to face the Four Musketeers.
  
  A beat passes as they stand there, having gotten up while I was rolling on the ground, looking at me, unsure of what to do.
  
  I break the silence by sticking out one of my hands in a victory sign whilst the other rests on my hip like I'm posing for a camera and I lean forward slightly as I speak with my purposely childish voice.
  
  "Aaand she sticks the landing!~" I exclaim, conveniently ignoring the fact that I did 𝘯𝘰𝘵 stick the landing.
  
  "Uh, no you didn't." Mr Blond speaks up with uncertainty clouding his voice.
  
  You know what? Fuck you Mr Blond.
  
  I only need one of them to tell me where the money is after all.
  
  "Hey hey! Don't be mean~ it's my first time." I shyly rebut, covering my mask with my hands and wriggling on the spot.
  
  However, the moment they all turn to look at each other in confusion, I burst forth with my full speed, throwing a sloppy punch at Mr Blond.
  
  My punch lands square on his chest and I feel as my fist buries itself through and past his ribs, nearly coming out the other side.
  
  I also feel my wrist break from what I can only assume is shitty form.
  
  As Blond launches backwards and probably dies, I myself cry out, pain being an unfamiliar sensation and am cradling my wrist when I feel a metal bat crack across the back of my head, sanding me straight to the ground.
  
  Double owie.
  
  I try to roll with the force of the hit to get some distance, but once again my inexperience shows and I end up sort of just crawling forward, unbalanced.
  
  But I do make enough distance at least to get back to my feet and I turn around just in time to see the bat coming for my face yet again.
  
  Instinctively, I lean back and dodge the swing matrix style, though I'm pretty sure the only reason I actually succeeded in dodging it is just because my speed far outstrips his.
  
  Before I can get back to being upright, Buzzcut is following up after the bat swing, throwing a sweeping kick for my legs while I am unbalanced.
  
  Once again not really having time to think about my actions, I complete my backwards fall and plant my hands on the ground, lifting my legs over the sweep and pushing off of the ground to launch both of my feet straight into Buzzcut's gut, the result sending him flying a good few feet away.
  
  The bat comes down on me again like a hammer as I lay on the floor, and without really thinking, I reach up to block it with my arms.
  
  I panic for a moment, thinking that the bat is going to break both of my arms, but I clearly forgot about my brute rating as other than some slight pain, all the swing manages to do is make my arms dip inwards slightly.
  
  It's probably going to bruise, at least if I couldn't regenerate it would.
  
  Before he can pull away, I grab the bat and pull him down to my side, spinning us over so that I am straddling him, then I just start wailing on his face.
  
  It only takes a few punches before his face resembles less a face and more a pile of kinda gross gore.
  
  Panting lightly, I get back to my feet, idly getting the feeling that I was forgetting something.
  
  Of course, I am reminded of what I was forgetting when a staccato of what can only be bullets impact my back with all the force of a freight train, sending me crumbling forwards.
  
  It feels like when Mr Bat hit me in the back of the head, only a little worse, far more concentrated and in much greater numbers.
  
  But honestly, it's really not that bad, kind of like stubbing your toe I guess. It sucks, but only for a moment and it's not a pain that is difficult to power through.
  
  Still, I wait until the woman and at least one other person actually stop shooting me before even bothering to get back up.
  
  Only when I hear the clicks that I associate with an empty magazine do I stir, having simply relaxed my muscles as they effectively gave me a very shitty, kinda painful back massage.
  
  Slowly, rising to my feet, swaying slightly for dramatic effect, I stand there, facing away from them with my back hunched before I slowly turn my head to the side, twisting my body only minimally so that I can side eye them over my shoulder.
  
  "Heyyy~ that wasn't very nice~"
  
  Behind me I can see two people. One of them is obviously the woman from before while the other one is a dude that was presumably in a different room.
  
  Both of them are holding guns, the girl holding two machine pistols that I don't know enough about guns to identify, while the guy is holding a bigger gun, I guess.
  
  Again, I don't know a lot about guns, never having bothered to buy any since I didn't leave the house anyway.
  
  I spend a moment just basking in the fear they are showing, especially the woman, her fear is so strong I can practically 𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦 it, and it tastes 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  I know 'exciting' isn't a flavour, but that's the best way I can describe it and I make sure to revel in it or a second or two before I actually turn all the way around.
  
  Once I am properly facing them, I tilt my head to the side slightly and take a single step forward.
  
  That seems to break them out of their shock and the woman takes a step back, losing her footing and falling on her ass, all without taking her eyes off of me, seeming to not even want to so much as blink.
  
  The guy however, seems to steel himself and backs up much more confidently, reloading his gun as he does so.
  
  Now, we can't have that, can we?
  
  In a single bound I am in front of him and swinging. Without panicking he gives up on loading his gun and instead takes a small step back to avoid my swipe and retaliates by punching the barrel of his gun into my throat.
  
  I'm sure it would have been effective enough to down the average man, but for me it was little more than a mild annoyance, making me choke and cough a little but not enough that I even have to back away.
  
  I smile when I see the realisation in his face that it's helpless to fight me, even if he is clearly more skilled and experienced than me, he simply lacks the raw power that I have available to me.
  
  I don't bother dragging things out either, snapping my leg up in what is probably an incredibly telegraphed move, but even if he can see it coming, there is nothing he can do to avoid it.
  
  I hope he realises that and has time to despair before my hit connects and he goes flying, even impacting the wall a good six feet behind him.
  
  That done, I walk up to the woman who has by now crawled backwards all the way to the wall and is staring at me in terror and with a smile in my voice and my legs straight, I bend at the waist until my face is only a few inches away from hers.
  
  I practically purr my next words so quietly that it might as well have been a whisper.
  
  "And then there were two.~"
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Gonna get a POV shift next chap that will reveal some things if you look close enough, also Lusia will finally get some direction to her life.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  7 Interlude: Hailey Finnegan
  Guard duty is never fun, but I suppose that's fine, because at least it's safe, and I get paid either way.
  
  Still, the company could at least be better, Quinten is the only one here that's any good at poker, and he spends all his time in the back counting the cash and doing accounting or whatever.
  
  Numbers confuse me.
  
  However, apparently I tempted fate because my nice, quiet night of scamming these idiots out of all their cash is rudely interrupted by the crashing sound of glass shattering.
  
  My chair clatters to the ground as I spring to my feet but I ignore it as I focus on the source of the noise, idly noting the others standing with me.
  
  Whatever I expected to see, from the CPD's tear gas to a Hero or even a rival cape, I did not expect to see a girl crashing into the ground like she was just thrown uncontrollably through the window.
  
  Before anyone can say anything, the girl jumps to her feet in a single bound that I am fairly certain no normal human would be capable of doing, and if that wasn't enough to confirm that this girl is a cape, then what I see next is.
  
  With her back on her feet, we could actually get a good look at who we are dealing with.
  
  Most of her 'costume', if it can even be called such, is just black clothes you can buy in any military surplus store. From the black cargo pants to the black pullover and cargo jacket.
  
  I can respect that much at least, god knows we can never have enough pockets, but it's the last bit of the ensemble that really puts my hairs on ends.
  
  Her mask is that of a smiling clown with black teeth and crying a single pink tear, but that is nothing to really call home about, no, it's her eyes that send shivers down my spine.
  
  An almost instinctual feeling of fear overcomes me as I stare into those pools of blood she wears as eyes. A feeling like I'm being stared down by my natural predator suffuses my bones as I peer into those crimson orbs and I feel a madness emanating from them, trying to take hold of me.
  
  I've stood in front of some pretty scary capes before, but none of them gave me a feeling like this, like I am prey, food to be hunted and devoured.
  
  Then the monster speaks.
  
  "Aaand she sticks the landing!~" It says with the voice of a child seeking praise.
  
  I almost don't catch Frank responding to the thing in front of us so stunned was I, and I almost wanted scream at the idiot for getting it's attention, even if that ship has clearly already sailed, but before I can even turn to him, the monster speaks again.
  
  "Hey hey! Don't be mean~ it's my first time." It says as if it is not some evil creature but a shy schoolgirl instead.
  
  Then, as I finally turn to my fellows, hoping to convey with my eyes the danger we are in, I don't get to speak before the monster blurs from the corner of my eye to being in front of Frank with it's arm buried 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 of his ribcage.
  
  As Frank gets sent flying with a sickening 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬 that makes me think that he will most likely never to rise again, I find myself taking an involuntary step backwards even as Markus takes a swing with his bat, hitting the thing on the back of the head but I know it won't stick.
  
  No. We need something stronger.
  
  With that in mind I turn to run for the back room where Quinten should still be counting the cash, as well as where we keep our guns.
  
  By the time I'm busting through the door, I hear a thud behind me and a cry of pain that I do my best to ignore, focusing instead on Quinten who is already on his feet, Glock in hand and held ready.
  
  "What the fuck is going on Hailey? What's with the noise?" His voice brings me a measure of calm and I do my best to emulate his confidence, but I still find it hard to get my words out through panting breaths.
  
  Taking a quick breath to steady myself, my words come out in a rush, "m-monster. There's a c-ape, a monster, we need g-guns."
  
  I don't wait for him to respond, instead just rushing to the other side of the room where we have a few Mac11's on hand of which I take a pair, making sure to throw an AR-15 at Quinten which he catches.
  
  I don't bother with anything else, there is no time, nothing else matters right now than killing that thing as fast as possible.
  
  With that thought driving me, I rush back into the main room, hoping beyond all hope that I am fast enough to save the idiots from the monster.
  
  Unfortunately, when I make it back, I am greeted with the price of my failure in the form of a disgusting 𝘴𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘭𝘤𝘩.
  
  Frank is still where I last saw him and just as still, Karl is also on the ground and he doesn't seem to be moving, and then, right in front of me is the monster, it's back to us as it straddles Markus.
  
  The monster gets up and I am able to guess where the sound came from when I see Markus' face, or more like what's left of his face.
  
  I think I gape in horror for a moment as the image of Markus' entire head being replaced by a pile of disgusting red and grey mush, not a single feature of his face remaining.
  
  Then comes the rage, which I guess is enough to overcome my fear as I level both of my guns at the thing's back and open fire, barely noticing Quinten beside me emptying the AR at the same time.
  
  I don't stop shooting even when it falls to the ground. I don't stop shooting even when my magazines click empty.
  
  I think I might be in shock. The thought comes so randomly that I lose focus for a moment.
  
  I may not have liked the idiots too much, but they were my friends damnit!
  
  But even if I talk a big game, the fear comes back even stronger once the Monster starts to stir from it's place on the ground.
  
  I can't help but watch in horror as the Monster slowly, 𝘰𝘩 𝘴𝘰 𝘴𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘺, get's to it's feet, swaying side to side as it does so, it's limp and blooded, 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘶𝘴' 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥, arms swinging with it's movement until it stills facing away from us, it's back hunched like it's about to fall forward.
  
  Then the thing turns it's shoulders slightly, stretching it's neck to look at us over it's shoulder.
  
  The Monsters face nearly sends me to my knees as it's smiling visage suddenly seems far more terrifying as it is splattered all over with blood, the formally white face becoming more red than anything else and I swear I see it's grin stretch just a bit wider when I focus on it.
  
  It's red eyes bore into us, not even slightly bothered by the hail of bullets it just endured, in fact, it's eyes seem.. amused? But also with the promise of death. Like the cat playing with the mouse, knowing that once it stops being fun, the mouse dies.
  
  I don't like that I'm the feeling of being the mouse.
  
  "Heyyy~ that wasn't very nice~" It all but 𝘤𝘰𝘰𝘴 at us and it's all I can do to stay on my feet, as it is I just freeze, hoping that if I simply don't move a muscle it might leave me alone.
  
  After a moment that felt like a lifetime of just staring at us, it finally turns around, standing at it's full height that suddenly seems so much taller than when it first got here.
  
  It stares at us for a moment longer, it's head tilting to the side in a way that reminds me far to uncomfortably of a cat, my earlier thoughts coming back before it takes a single step forward and before I can even really think about it I am already on the ground.
  
  I don't take my eyes off of the Monster, trying my best to not even blink even as I frantically crawl backwards, jumping slightly when my back hits a wall and all I can do is watch.
  
  I see the Monster leap for Quinten in a blur of movement reminiscent of when she first moved against Frank, only Quinten manages to dodge the first, sloppy swing and even retaliate, however, what does it matter?
  
  So what if the Monster doesn't know how to fight?
  
  What does it matter? Knowing how to fight can't help you against Monsters.
  
  I'm proven right when all that It does in response to Quinten's strike is to choke out a laugh.
  
  It then twists itself, obviously going for a kick, taunting him by all but telling him what it's next move will be.
  
  But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you know how the Monster is going to attack. Because it is still the Monster, and there is nothing you can do.
  
  It's hopeless.
  
  The kick lands and I wince at the sounds of bones breaking and flesh tearing as Quinten is sent flying and impacts the wall with a splat, falling to the ground like a puppet with it's strings cut.
  
  I think I piss myself a little when the Monster turns it's attention to me, it's eyes alight with humour as it starts stalking up to me and all I can do is whimper as the creature bends down until it's face if only an inch above mine.
  
  I feel phantom breaths brush across my neck as the thing speaks to me with a whisper so low I felt it vibrate my bones as blood drips down it's face to land on mine.
  
  "And then there were two.~"
  
  I can hardly even focus on the Monsters words, instead my mind flashes to what my mother used to tell me.
  
  She told me stories once upon a time, stories of the fae.
  
  The fae can't be understood, she would say, not by us humans.
  
  She'd say how they were contradictions.
  
  "Say~ how about we make a deal~?"
  
  The most beautiful thing you will ever see, offering nothing but kindness and assistance and all they would ask in return, would be for a name.
  
  She would tell me how you must never tell them your name, because the fae are cruel and callous.
  
  They will abide their deals, but they will never stop their attempts to devour you.
  
  "You get to live, in return, all you have to do is keep me informed.~"
  
  Monsters in the guise of civility.
  
  They can't be trusted, but neither can they be denied.
  
  All you can do is your best to appease them in the hope that they will leave you be.
  
  "Do we have a deal?~"
  
  Resigned to my fate, I bring my shaking hand forward to accept the evil things blood slicked hand, a chill of dread going through my body when the skin of our hands connect.
  
  "Wonderful!~" It cheers, jumping into the air and pumping it's fist, as if all the death and violence that just happened was but a mere game.
  
  Then, it turns to leave, finally, 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 heading for the door, picking up Quinten's phone on the way.
  
  Right when it get's to the door, I almost breath a sigh of relief, however the air gets caught in my throat as the being stops in the open door.
  
  It turns to me.
  
  It speaks.
  
  "What's your name?"
  
  I whimper.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Hopefully I fixed the weird characters thing, it was italics getting fucked up for some reason.
  
  I hope this chapter does what I intend it to do, which is to show just how crazy Lusia is, because most of this story will be from her perspective and she doesn't really think she's crazy so things will seem like they aren't that bad, but from the perspective of others it shows just how mad she is.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  8 Shopping Trip
  Only after getting Hailey's name and leaving did I remember the whole money situation, which meant I had to go back to grab all the cash I could find.
  
  Thankfully, I was able to sneak past Hailey, because otherwise I would have been super embarrassed.
  
  After that, all I had to worry about was cleaning all of the blood off of myself.
  
  I decided to go to that house I broke into on my first night here, since I at least knew that there was a working shower there.
  
  So after first retrieving my bag, I broke back in there and decided to just ditch the clothes because there was frankly way more blood covering them that I first thought.
  
  At least I managed to clean my mask without problem, so silver linings and all that. Then I simply got cleaned up, made sure there wasn't any blood in my hair, got changed, put my blue contacts back in and made my way back to the flat.
  
  It was a little past ten when I got there and the boys were both in the front room playing Mario Cart when I opened the door.
  
  "Hello! I'm back." I greet, but my only response is a pair of grunts as they both focus on playing Rainbow Road.
  
  Shrugging to myself, I make my way to James' room, or I suppose, my temporary room, and I deposit my bag by the bed, deciding to trust that they won't snoop around and notice the eight grand of cash under my clothes and the mask under that.
  
  I counted the money after my shower and it was about how much I was expecting to be honest, not a massive amount but still substantial.
  
  Certainly enough to tide me over, not to mention I can actually buy some new cape clothes now, but to be honest I'm thinking that stealing them might actually be a better idea, at least if I want to go for something distinctive.
  
  Because if there are only a few people with a specific item then if I wear it as a cape it's only a case of finding who has it you know?
  
  With my bag deposited, I return to the front room where the boys are in the final lap and James absently shuffles aside so I can join them on the edge of the sofa.
  
  After a minute of intense focus, broken only occasionally by a muttered curse, or a very loud curse, the game ultimately ends with James getting blue shelled and Theo taking first place right at the end.
  
  Naturally, this was followed by James yelling an impressive amount of vitriol, some of which was pretty racist, while Theo just laughed at him and I watched in amusement.
  
  Once that was finally over, James turns to me, now calm after getting that out of his system.
  
  "Sorry about that, Mario Cart is a very serious activity," he says before holding out a spare remote to me, "you wanna join?" He asks.
  
  With a smile on my lips I take the offered remote, "sure, but I get Princess Peach."
  
  My conditions accepted, we load up a new game and spend the rest of the night shouting, yelling, cursing and just having an all 'round good time.
  
  As I go to bed that night, I do so with a smile.
  
  The next day I slept in. By the time I actually got up, the boys were long gone and a quick check of the clock shows that it's a little past midday.
  
  Deciding that it's about time I got some luxuries back now that I have some money to fall back on, I take out some clothes and necessities out of my bag, leaving only my mask, money and a hoodie to cover them.
  
  That done, I am ready to feel human again and buy me a goddamn phone or two, as well as whatever else catches my eye.
  
  Damn, it's not even that much money and I'm already loving it, it just makes me want even more money.
  
  Maybe I could rob a bank or something? Just for the style points.
  
  Eh, I'll think about it later, right now I've got shopping to do.
  
  It doesn't take me too long to reach the main commercial area of the city dressed in a simple pair of tight blue jeans and a white blouse under a black zip up hoodie that I've left unzipped.
  
  At first I just wonder around, enjoying the city atmosphere of bustling people living their lives under the midday sun.
  
  As someone who grew up in the boonies, I've always held an appreciation for bustling cities like this. I mean, just looking forward I can see 𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘥𝘴 of people, each one living their lives.
  
  I just think there's something magical about that.
  
  So many people, so many stories, all gathered together.
  
  It really makes me reflect on my humanity, which is something I don't really like doing these days so I quickly look around for a shop that can distract me and quickly notice DracoTech store and against my better judgement, decide to make my way over.
  
  I mean, on one hand, buying tech that is literally designed by 𝘋𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘰𝘯 herself, the worlds single greatest tinker, is kind of a stupid thing to do for an up and coming villain/vigilante, whatever you want to call me.
  
  But on the other hand, I can buy tech designed by the worlds single greatest tinker.
  
  The pair of guards at the front don't stop me as I enter through the automatic glass doors and take a moment to just admire how it feels like I just stepped a decade into the future.
  
  The whole room is a startling white, but somehow it doesn't feel blinding, the counters are a light, comfortable blue and are holding items from phones to computers to- is that a microwave?
  
  There are about a dozen people meandering about, but there is no need to concern for space since the room itself is way bigger than a normal shop, more like a mall really, just dedicated purely to Dragon's shit.
  
  Seriously, isn't she supposed to be a Hero? How much free time does she have to design all of this shit?
  
  Then again, I'm not a tinker, maybe she can clone herself or something, work on multiple projects at once. Or maybe she just gets bored.
  
  I suppose she 𝘪𝘴 a dragon, it makes sense for her to want more variety to her 'hoard'.
  
  Shrugging to myself, I make my way over to where the phones are.
  
  I was planning to get a laptop and a phone or two, but if I'm getting a DracoTech phone then I won't really need a laptop, since the phone will be able to do anything any normal laptop could.
  
  That and I would be broke again if I tried to get both.
  
  DracoTech is 𝘯𝘰𝘵 cheap.
  
  I must have been standing here for a while, trying to pick the best deal but not really understanding enough about tech to have any idea what the words I'm reading mean, seriously, what the fuck is a 'quad-core', I assume it's like how cars have V8 and V6 and shit, but then again I don't know anything about cars either.
  
  Because I am brought out of my thoughts by one of the workers here.
  
  "Excuse me Miss, is there anything specific you are looking for? Perhaps I can be of assistance?" A pleasant voice comes from my side.
  
  By pleasant, I don't mean 'nice to hear', but more that typical, practiced customer service voice.
  
  When I look to my side, there is a guy dressed in a smart blue uniform that has a stylized dragon coiling around a birdcage on the right of his chest, Dragon's symbol, and he has equally smart black hair, jelled back, presumably so that is doesn't get in the way of his glasses.
  
  "Ah, yeah, I guess. I don't really know what all this stuff means." I say, gesturing to all the words and numbers surrounding the display phones.
  
  The guy, Dennis, if his name tag is anything to go by, smiles at my answer before responding.
  
  "Yes, it can be confusing for anyone who hasn't studied it," why do I feel like I just got insulted? "But if you just tell me what you are looking to use your phone for, then I can find one that will be the best fit for you." He finishes with a smile that feels a lot more fake than his earlier one.
  
  Not that I blame him, I might not have worked for long, but I understand that the customer service smile becomes a habit after a while.
  
  Still, I think for a moment, what do I want my phone to be capable of?
  
  Obviously, I'm not going to be using it for anything criminal, in fact, I'm not even going to connect it to the same WIFI as anything that I am using for criminality.
  
  It is, again, DracoTech after all, and I refuse to believe that it isn't chock full of spyware, everything is these days after all.
  
  So I'm only going to be using it for casual, civilian stuff. With that in mind, I speak.
  
  "Well, I only really need it to run Solitaire and Minesweeper. The internet too I guess, gotta keep up with PHO after all." I finish with a smile.
  
  When I look at Dennis however, his smile is twitching like he is struggling to keep it in place.
  
  What's up with that?
  
  "So, you want to buy a DracoTech phone.. to play Minesweeper?" He asks with a weirdly tense voice.
  
  I just nod my head, "Yep! Solitaire too though, and the internet of course."
  
  "R-right. You want to buy a multi-thousand dollar phone to play Minesweeper and Solitaire. Of course. In that case, please follow me." He says, raising an arm to the side in a gesture of direction that I happily take.
  
  I don't know why his voice seems all weird now though, maybe he just ate something bad and is feeling it?
  
  Eh, who cares.
  
  A few minutes and $1500 shorter and I am leaving the store, satisfied with my purchase.
  
  The first thing I do after leaving the store is install my two favourite games, then I just go back to wondering, joining the hustle and bustle once more.
  
  Now, time to buy some clothes.
  
  With that in mind, I go back to wondering about, window shopping and sometimes walking in a shop that seems interesting to browse.
  
  I buy myself a new set of 'cape clothes' from a military surplus store, completely forgetting my plan to steal them to avoid having the purchase of them traced back to me, too happy to just be spending money.
  
  I end up finding a store that sells 'burner phones', so I end up getting a pair of those too, but I don't turn them on yet.
  
  I don't really understand how tech works, so I'm just going to be paranoid about it and keep things as separated as I can.
  
  Some time later and an extra bag added to my other shoulder that I got from the surplus store, and I am looking around in a clothing store when I see a long black cardigan that for some inexplicable reason, I just feel like I 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘵 have.
  
  I don't know what it is about it, I guess that I'm just a big fan of the aesthetic, not to mention it is comfortable.
  
  A few minutes later and I am walking out of the store clad in a nice, long black cardigan that goes all the way down to my knees, with another two copies of it in one of my bags.
  
  Well, that's about everything that I might really need or want bought, not to mention my bags are full and I've spent like, half of my money.
  
  With that in mind, I start navigating the streets to get back home.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Woo, who doesn't love shopping?
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  9 Meeting Heroes
  My journey back to the flat unfortunately gets waylaid a few minutes later as I notice something in the near distance.
  
  There is an open area at a crossroads in the street that is currently rather crowded and it doesn't take me long to see why.
  
  There are heroes. A pair of them and they are apparently here to do a meet and greet or something and suddenly a frankly hilarious idea plants itself in my mind.
  
  What if I started collecting hero signatures?
  
  The thought is too funny to me so I quickly go to a nearby shop and buy a few postcards without really looking or caring about where they're from and take a pen out of my bag, because you should always carry a pen around.
  
  Then I simply join the cue.
  
  Five minutes later and I am standing in front of an honest to god pair of heroes.
  
  It's all I can do to not burst out laughing at the fact that they would probably be rather antagonistic if they knew what I was, and that's putting it lightly, instead when I am in front of them, they greet me with a smile.
  
  "Hello Miss, would you like an autograph?" The guy of the pair greets.
  
  He is wearing red spandex, as is customary I suppose, but thankfully he has a darker red armour plating over vulnerable spots, giving him a level of decency that pure spandex lacks.
  
  His mask is a simple red domino and does nothing to hide his smile that doesn't even seem strained despite the fact that he must have been standing here dealing with people for a while.
  
  Going by what James and Theo told me, this would be Epic. Supposedly he is a Legend-lite and chose his name because 'Epic is one tier below Legendary'.
  
  At least, that's what James says.
  
  "Ah, yeah, here, can you sign this?" I say, holding out the postcard but not the pen, seeing as he already has one in hand.
  
  "Not a problem!" He replies with a smile, taking the offered item.
  
  While he does that, I look over to the third cape present.
  
  She has long flowing black hair and distinctly Asian features and black eyes, her costume is mostly blues with a lot of lighter spherical designs on it that look like bubbles covering her body. She also has tasteful armour over the spandex to keep her modesty, and protection I guess.
  
  Though, to be honest, with how flat she is, I don't think she needs the armour to keep modest.
  
  She seems significantly less enthusiastic about this whole situation than Epic, but is pretty good at hiding it.
  
  I probably wouldn't have even been able to notice it if not for the faint scent of nervousness coming from her.
  
  Guess she doesn't like crowds.
  
  If I am remembering things right, this is Pop Stop and her power is something like time-stop bubbles, but in like, a weird way.
  
  She makes these bubbles, and then when they pop, everyone who hears the pop freezes in place for a half second or so.
  
  Sounds kinda weak until you realise she can make a shit tonne of bubbles and doesn't get frozen in place like everyone else.
  
  In the time I spent checking out Pop Step, Epic finished his signing and was ready to hand back my postcard.
  
  "Here you go, now if I find this being sold online I'll be mad m'kay?" He jokes as I take back my now signed postcard.
  
  I huff lightly in good humour at his joke and give a smile while offering my postcard to Pop.
  
  "Can you sign it too?" I ask and she obliges with a small, nervous smile and I turn back to Epic as she does that.
  
  "Say, if you get an apprentice, will you make them call themselves 'Rare' or something, to keep the theme?" I mostly ask just out of a lack of other things to say.
  
  However, he seems to like my referencing to the origins of his name if the widening of his smile is anything to go by.
  
  "Of course! Unless they're better than me I guess, then maybe 'Mythic'?" He jubilantly returns.
  
  "I just pity whoever end up with 'Common' as their name" I joke, making him laugh far more than is necessary for what wasn't even really that good of a joke.
  
  "Here." Interrupts the soft voice of Pop as she hands back my card which I take with what I hope is a comforting smile.
  
  "Thanks!" I say, but before I leave there is one thing I want to ask her, just in case we end up meeting in 'other circumstance', "Mind if I ask something about your power real quick?"
  
  "A-ah, sure, go ahead." She says after a quick glance at Epic who gives a reassuring smile.
  
  "Hoe does your power interact with velocity?" I ask, thinking that if we ever end up fighting that it would be good information to know.
  
  My question actually makes her smile and seem confident for the first time. I guess that she just likes talking about her power.
  
  Then again, she is a new signing so it stands to reason that she may have triggered recently, ergo her power is still new and exciting.
  
  "Well, it's actually pretty interesting. My power doesn't completely conserve or remove velocity, but rather, you know how if you were running and heard a loud noise or something and flinched, how you would slow down, but only a little bit? It's kind of like that, each 'pop' slows velocity by a tiny amount, but the reason I used that example is because it's variable and I figure that if you could keep to your top speed even when flinching then it probably won't take much if any of your velocity away."
  
  She takes a deep breath after getting caught up in her own explanation and suddenly starts blushing at having gotten carried away, but I pretend not to notice, just smiling in genuine interest.
  
  Because it is actually pretty interesting, not to mention incredibly useful to know.
  
  It also helps that she looks adorable with such a massive blush.
  
  "That 𝘪𝘴 interesting. I'd love to hear more, but I wouldn't want to keep you, but I tell you what, I don't know if this is improper to do considering," Here I pause to gesture widely to the two in front of me, "but this is my number, if ya wanna talk some more, I've got a lot of free time these days. See ya!"
  
  And with that I turn and leave, leaving Pop standing there with a postcard that has my new number on it.
  
  Is it stupid to give my number out to a hero, considering my position?
  
  Obviously it is, but for the same reason that I don't want to move out from living with James and Theo, it is just way too funny for me not to do it.
  
  I mean, what if she actually calls me? What if I become friends and hang out with a hero?
  
  Now that I am not standing in front of said heroes, I don't bother to hold in my laughter, ignoring the few weird looks I get from the people around me.
  
  God, I am so excited for the future, there is so much fun to be had, the only thing stopping me is time.
  
  Whatever, I'll just go back to the flat and waste some time until night comes, then I'll call Hailey and see about making some more easy cash.
  
  On the way back, I once more get distracted, this time by a magic store.
  
  I figured that since I'm going for the clown theme, then maybe I should learn some magic tricks?
  
  I mean, I already know a few card tricks, I got into them mostly because of my obsession with Solitaire.
  
  Seriously, there was a time where I played a few games of Solitaire every day for at least a few months.
  
  So I got a few decks of cards and a book on card tricks.
  
  I thought about getting more books but then I remembered that the internet exists, so there really isn't much point in paying for something I could get for free.
  
  Only then did I finally make it back to the flat where I moved things around between my bags and filled my new bag with cape related stuff, as well as most of my cash.
  
  My old bag is where I put everything else I own, only a few pairs of clothes staying outside of the bag.
  
  This way if I ever need to run quickly I don't have to worry about packing, needing to only grab my bags.
  
  Then I just spent the rest of the day in the front room with a deck of cards, alternating between playing Solitaire and trying out card tricks.
  
  Which is how the boys found me when they got back, sitting on the floor surrounded by and covered in cards.
  
  "You uh, you good down there?" James' uncertain voice asks me as he and Theo stand in the doorway staring at me.
  
  I don't respond for a moment, instead just staring at them with a perfectly blank expression.
  
  A card falls from my hair, landing on the floor with a slap.
  
  "I slipped." I lie.
  
  "Right.. and the cards?" Theo queries with a completely flat tone of voice.
  
  Slowly, oh so slowly, my arms reach out and start scooping the cards into a pile, all the while I do not drop eye contact with the two of them.
  
  Not a word is said and not an expression is made until all of the cards are in one big pile that I slowly start stuffing into my pockets.
  
  "... What cards?" I ask.
  
  Another beat passes in silence.
  
  "... So, how was work?" I ask, breaking the silence.
  
  Choosing to completely ignore the previous interaction, I get up and the boys come in as we pretend it never happened.
  
  Not long later and we are all chilling in the front room, the boys playing some casual fighting game while I play Solitaire on the floor, when Theo brings up something that immediately grabs my attention.
  
  "Oh, did you guys hear about that incident down by Cross and Third?" He asks, voice casual even with the violent button mashing coming from his side where James is presumably losing.
  
  "I don't really watch the news, what happened?" I'm surprised I manage to keep my voice level considering the butterflies I suddenly feel in my gut, because I'm pretty sure that do actually already know what he's talking about.
  
  He takes a moment to finish off James, causing him to groan in frustration and say something about 'uppercut spam', before he continues the conversation as they set up another match.
  
  "Yeah, there was reports of shots fired so we got the call. I wasn't one of the guys that responded to the incident, but from what I hear it was a drugs stash house, most likely for the Red Branch since it was in their area of operations."
  
  He cuts of his explanation for a moment to tell James he's not allowed to just keep picking the same character before getting back to it.
  
  "'Pparently it was pretty messy, three dead, one in intensive care and it's suspected that there was another victim that got away. Just from a quick look of the crime scene, it's pretty apparent that there was cape involvement, but since it doesn't fit the M.O of any of the known capes..."
  
  "You think there's a new cape on the scene." I gladly fill in for where Theo tailed of at the end of his sentence.
  
  "Got it in one." He confirms, almost making me smile.
  
  "Good," James pipes in with unexpected seriousness, "the heroes are already outnumbered, so even if they're a violent vigilante, this city needs anyone it can get."
  
  Huh, there's a thought.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Nothing to say here :p
  
  Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  10 Second Night Out
  After the boys have both gone to sleep, I leave the flat through the window with my 'cape bag' at a little past midnight.
  
  Earlier today, James gave me an idea.
  
  See, I haven't really had much of a plan for what I'm doing. Beyond making some money, my actions haven't really had much purpose.
  
  So why not be what James thinks I am, and just be a vigilante?
  
  It's not like it will hugely impact what I was doing anyway, it just means that I won't be robbing any banks and that I have to target villains specifically.
  
  I can live with that, it's certainly better to be fighting against assholes than innocents.
  
  But ultimately, it doesn't change what I'm planning to do tonight.
  
  Sitting in the middle of some buildings roof with my cape outfit fully donned, I wanted to wear my new cardigan, but decided I would keep that for my civilian identity, so it's just a mask and black cargo pants and jacket for me.
  
  I take out one of my burner phones and a piece of paper that I wrote Hailey's number on.
  
  This is the first time that I actually turned the phone on, since I decided it's best to be paranoid about these things, so it takes a moment before I am giving my... uh, minion? A call.
  
  Ring ring.
  
  Ring ring.
  
  For a moment I wonder if she's just not going to pick up, but right as I think that I hear a 'click'.
  
  "Who is this?" Hailey demands, making me smile to myself.
  
  "My my~ did you already forget about little old me?" My own teasing voice responds.
  
  I hear a sharp intake of breath through the phone before Hailey's far less confident voice speaks up again.
  
  "o-oh. W-what can I d-do fo-for you M-my Lady?" She asks, her stuttering honestly kind of annoying me, but in a cute way.
  
  That doesn't really make sense.
  
  Whatever, it's hardly important.
  
  "Hailey!" I exclaim, "My dearest friend! What's with that tone? We're all friends here, you can call me by my name you know?"
  
  There is a moment of silence before her hesitant voice returns with a positively perplexed tone.
  
  "Uhm, y-you. You never gave me your name?"
  
  Oh. Did I really not do that?
  
  Uh, oops?
  
  Guess I got caught up in the moment, ah well.
  
  "Don't be silly~ of course I told you to call me Tear. You must be forgetting things again.~" I respond, refusing to admit my own mistake.
  
  "R-right, sorry, my mistake." It's kind of boring how quickly she folds but whatever, time for business.
  
  "Well, at least you're acknowledging your mistake. Now! I find myself in need of some money, you wouldn't happen to know a place that has a lot of cash just, say, lying around, would you?"
  
  It's probably bad form to just trust the word of some random gangster, but I'm not stupid, not always at least, and I see this as a win win situation.
  
  After all, either she is afraid of me enough that she will give me a location full of cash, or she will betray me and lead me into a trap.
  
  Now, you would think that's a bad thing, but I 𝘥𝘪𝘥 say I wanted to try being a vigilante instead of a villain, and what better way to prove that than by fighting off some villains?
  
  Then of course, there is the more foolhardy reason that I have simply never fought a cape before and I want to see how I match up, where I stand.
  
  So I am perfectly willing to walk into a trap to test myself a little, and it's not like I'm really afraid to die anyway.
  
  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 to die, but I'm not going to shy away from the possibility.
  
  I've always believed in 'treat people how you want to be treated', which is why I just try to have fun, because for one it's fun, and for another it means that hopefully when other people interact with me, they will also just be trying to have fun.
  
  Now, since I have already killed a few people and am perfectly willing to do so again, then I should accept the possibility of the same happening to me.
  
  It would be mighty hypocritical of me to kill people and then say that no one is allowed to kill me after all.
  
  Still, I'll do my best not to die.
  
  With that in mind, I hang up on Hailey once she's finished giving me the location to another stash house, but one that should have much more money in.
  
  Apparently the Red Branch focuses most of their 'business' on the drug side of things.
  
  According to James' very simplified explanation, the Irish deal the drugs, the blacks do the racketeering and the rest are just racist.
  
  though, Theo was quick to point out that just because all the Red Branch are Irish, that doesn't mean all Irish are Red Branch, similarly, all Street Saints are black but not vice versa.
  
  The only other major player in the crime scene of Columbus is Famine, who named themselves such purely to insult the Irish, they are mostly white, but are apparently surprisingly ok with Asians.
  
  Apparently there's some nuance there, but I am too ignorant to really know the difference between different Asians, same way I doubt anyone in China knows the difference between a Floridian and someone from Washington.
  
  Anyway, I shouldn't get too absorbed in my thoughts right now, because it is time to make, steal, some fat stacks.
  
  That's what they say right? 'Fat stacks'?
  
  I'm not really sure what a 'stack' constitutes, but I'm going to go with the assumption that it translates to a thousand dollars, unless calling them fat actually denotes a higher number?
  
  Maybe a 'fat stack' is ten grand as opposed to a single 'stack' being one?
  
  Damnit, I literally 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 said I shouldn't let myself get absorbed in thought right now.
  
  Whatever, it doesn't matter.
  
  Focusing ahead, I make it to the location I was given, finding myself in a small warehouse district, suitably shady and out of the way whilst still being a part of the city.
  
  Perfect for criminal enterprising I imagine.
  
  Still weary of this being a trap, I make sure to do my due diligence in scouting the place out first, checking out the nearby buildings to find them mostly empty, bar a few homeless squatters.
  
  When the clock is closer to one in the morning is when I finally decide that I've done enough scouting and should check the inside of the building itself.
  
  I climb up to the roof, using the same method of forcing handholds into the wall through sheer strength and when I get there I am happy to see that there are windows this time.
  
  The roof itself is styled like one of those old factories with a sawtooth roof, and I make my way over to one of the windows.
  
  They are, of course, boarded up with wooden planks and cloth to cover where the wood doesn't, but it's not much of a challenge to reach in where some of the glass is already broken, and tear at some of the cloth to get a look inside.
  
  The first thing I notice isn't actually sight, but scent funnily enough, the lovely scent I have come to associate with humans, but mixed in is some weird scent, it's both good, btu also kind of bad.
  
  Oh well, I just shrug my shoulders and actually look inside.
  
  It pleases me that Hailey seems to have at least been mostly honest, seeing as this is clearly a stash house, just going by all the crates that have people working around, sorting stuff, holding clipboards.
  
  I suppose this is where the 'organised' in organised crime comes from.
  
  There are a few guards standing around with assault rifles of some kind, but I'm honestly not too worried about that, since I already know that bullets only hurt a little.
  
  Other than the main open area, there is also a loft of sorts in the back half of the building, presumably a managers office of some sort.
  
  Overall, there are only a dozen people, only half visibly armed, but I should probably assume they all have guns, not that guns are something I really need to fear.
  
  With that in mind, I'm more confident than I really should have been, which is probably to blame for how things went.
  
  Wanting a 'wow' factor more than subtlety, I don't bother with sneaking in and just get myself a small run up before launching myself into the boarded windows, smashing through them with a crash and a rain of splintered wood.
  
  All movement ceases as everyone stops to stare at me as I land in a crouch on some central crates, my arms spread wide from my fall.
  
  Behind my mask I can feel my mouth stretch into a grin almost as wide as the very mask that hides it.
  
  I've found that I really enjoy the theatrics of all of this.
  
  "Greetings! Evil doers! I am Tear and this is a stick up!" I yell, moving my hands to give them finger guns at the last part.
  
  Only to realise something is wrong.
  
  The first hint was how no one actually seemed all that shocked at my appearance, which I didn't notice at first, the second hint was how all the unarmed guys simply turned and left, meanwhile everyone with a gun raised it at me, still calm.
  
  Then, without any warning or talking, they all open fire at once.
  
  Now, I'm not actually faster than a bullet, and I wasn't really expecting them to go straight to violence, it goes against everything I know.
  
  Where's the witty banter!? The back and forth before the fight?! The cool one liners!?
  
  My surprise in the matter is why I don't react in time to dodge any of the bullets.
  
  Thankfully at least, my body is still as bullet resistant as last time, so I merely have to wait for the hail of bullets to stop, which it does after a few moments of almost pain.
  
  It hurt, but not that much, like getting shot by BB guns.
  
  It's enough that by the time the bullets stop, I am collapsed on the ground, curled up in a foetal position, with my clothes more or less in tatters but my skin unharmed.
  
  It hurt, but that's fine. What's a little hurt anyway? Pain is temporary, it all goes away to become history, so what's the point in holding onto it?
  
  Still hurt though, and as I drag myself to my feet, my eyes must have been expressing how I felt about it well enough if the way the six gunmen take a simultaneous step back is any indication.
  
  "Ow." My voice, lacking any of the playful tilt it had earlier.
  
  It's probably enough evidence of how annoyed I am that I even broke character.
  
  I decided to enter this cape business because I wanted to have fun.
  
  Getting shot without even being given a good reason or a nice conversation for my troubles?
  
  This isn't fun.
  
  Putting a hand on my neck, I tilt my head side to side, enjoying the cracks from working my joints.
  
  "That wasn't very nice.~" I say, attempting to get ack into character, but I think my voice came out a bit more threatening than I intended it to.
  
  Ah well, I guess if they don't want to play the game...
  
  With a sudden movement, I bend my legs and launch myself forward, aiming for the closest of the men, intending to deck him for all I'm worth.
  
  However, right before I am within striking distance, there is a sudden boom and the next thing I know I feel like I've run into a steel wall as the ground shakes and I bounce back on my ass with what feels like a broken nose.
  
  ... The fuck?
  
  Looking up from my spot on the ground as my nose knits itself back together, I realise that I may have jinxed myself.
  
  "Ah."
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  11 Cape Fight
  I suppose I'll be getting that cape fight sooner than expected then.
  
  Standing before me is a giant thing that only loosely resembles a man.
  
  It's standing at about 15 foot tall and it's body appears to be made out of rock, like a giant golem.
  
  His sheer size makes me wonder how in the hell I didn't notice him, but a quick look up shows that he was hiding in the rafters and I didn't see him because of the sawtooth design of the roof.
  
  Well, that sucks, and unless he just likes to hang out in rafters, that can only mean that I was expected.
  
  Looks like I will have to be having some words with Hailey.
  
  Ah well, and here I was complaining about tonight not being fun.
  
  At least it's only Clay, his power being that he can absorb rocks and dirt to form a golem like shell around himself.
  
  Sure he is kind of a heavy hitter in the Red Branch, but he is nothing like their powerhouses who I have no doubt would kick my ass.
  
  In other words, I think I can take him.
  
  Rolling backwards, I spring to my feet in what I wanted to be a smooth move but ended up kind of forced.
  
  Guess I'll work on it.
  
  "Hey there Clay man! I don't suppose we can talk things out like civilised folk?" I greet, not even slightly interested in talking things out.
  
  Clay ignores my question and takes a meaningful step forward, his leg brushing a crate and destroying it, showing the inside to be empty.
  
  Ah. I guess they already moved everything out, all in a day.
  
  You gotta admire the efficiency if nothing else.
  
  "Well, if we've got to fight, it's only right that we introduce ourselves properly first," I say before taking a theatrical bow, one of my arms swinging wide as I tilt my head to keep eye contact, which hurts with his height, "you may call me Tear, a pleasure.~"
  
  Clay stops for a moment, only a few feet away from me, seeming to be considering his words before he nods his head once and speaks with a deep rumble.
  
  "You talk too much."
  
  I don't make the same mistake of inattentiveness this time and am thus able to jump to the side to dodge the sudden palm strike he sends my way.
  
  His hand hits the ground with such force that it sends cracks spreading around it and I use the moment to rush forward, under the arm, to throw a punch at his stomach with everything I have.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘥. 𝘚𝘯𝘢𝘱.
  
  "OWWWIE!" I scream as my whole arm just snaps like a twig while Clay only stumbles back a single step.
  
  Hopping back while cradling my arm as it slowly and 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘺 knits itself back together.
  
  Holy fuck that hurts.
  
  I'm so distracted by my still broken arm that I don't even notice Clay swinging for me until my breath is forced out of my lungs and I feel my back smash into and 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 the warehouse wall, into the dark streets outside.
  
  I spend a moment just lying there, my brain empty.
  
  I think I have a concussion.
  
  The night sky is so pretty.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘥.
  
  Oh yeah, that guy.
  
  Damn, this isn't going how I thought it would at all.
  
  At least by the time Clay is looming over me menacingly my body has finished healing, my concussion going away and lucid thought coming back.
  
  I was kind of hoping he would say a one liner I could work off of, but instead he simply raises his massive foot over my head, well, my whole body really, and prepares to flatten me like a grape.
  
  Well, fuck you Clay.
  
  As his foot comes crashing down, I roll to the side, barely avoiding the unfortunate fate of a Goomba and scrambling to my feet, once again hopping backwards to get some space.
  
  Ok.
  
  I'm getting my ass kicked, so I don't think there's much point in hiding my abilities here.
  
  With that in mind, I relent to the constant itch in my lower back and with a feeling like stretching a muscle that hasn't been used in weeks, I feel my flesh bubble.
  
  Ripping through my already ruined shirt, a pair of long ribbon like tentacles stretch out behind me, both longer than I am tall by at least three times.
  
  They are probably about as wide as my thigh and an eighth as thick, if I had to describe how they looked, I'd say they looked like liquid blood pretending to be muscle, but with a slight purplish tint to it.
  
  Honestly, I find them beautiful to look at, and I make them sway hypnotically behind me as I face down Clay, standing tall and proud, even with my ruined clothes.
  
  At least my mask is fine.
  
  With my ribbons finally free, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, every movement coming more naturally to me.
  
  I guess I shouldn't keep them cooped up, not that I even have a reason to anymore.
  
  "Well then big guy~ ready for round two?~" I taunt as my ribbons snap into place, facing him like a pair of vipers ready to strike.
  
  With a grunt, Clay rushes forward once more, throwing a simple punch, intending to crush me once again.
  
  But things are not so simple this time.
  
  Being stupid and wanting to test my ribbons, instead of dodging like I should, I instead launch both of my ribbons to meet his fist.
  
  Unfortunately, I have to abandon my test midway through as my ribbons simply bend and give way under his fist and I hardly move enough to avoid the giant boulder of a fist.
  
  Whatever, enough tests, I'm not strong enough to mess around yet.
  
  I should really start exercising.
  
  Jumping to the side, my ribbons follow after me and this time I'm the one rushing forward.
  
  I take a step to the side to avoid another simple punch and this time, instead of breaking my arm on his chest, I crouch down before him and dig my hands into the ground for leverage.
  
  Then I launch my ribbons like spears straight into his chest and with a grating sound, rock parts and my ribbons find themselves sticking clear through his body.
  
  The fight pauses and I sigh in relief, making the mistake of celebrating too early.
  
  I am rewarded for my fault by receiving a devastating kick that must have broken at least half of my ribs.
  
  Motherfucker that hurts!
  
  Looking up from where I land, I see Clay stalking towards me, none the worse for ware, the hole in his chest closing rapidly until he looks completely unharmed.
  
  Now that's just demoralising.
  
  Scrambling to my feet, I start a game of cat and mouse, getting grazed a few times where the pain in my chest distracts my movements.
  
  Think Lusia, think!
  
  He is clearly somewhere inside of the golem thing, I just need to find out where.
  
  Then, like a lightbulb going off, I remember that I'm an idiot.
  
  There is something else I noticed about my powers that for some reason I didn't really think much of.
  
  God I am stupid sometimes.
  
  See, when I look at people, I tend to get an idea of where to hit them, like... a biological diagram, but not as a visual, it's more of an instinct if anything.
  
  When I look at this thing, now much larger from adding the dirt and rocks disturbed from our fight to itself, it becomes a lot clearer.
  
  I felt its biology, and it only had one part which mattered.
  
  The heart.
  
  Clay, I figure, tucked away in the thick left leg of his construct.
  
  Well, not I know where to hit, it's only a matter of hitting it.
  
  With that in mind I stop my frantic running, and after dodging his next swing, I send one of my ribbons forward to wrap around his arm like a snake and I 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘭.
  
  Thanks to using his own momentum, he comes stumbling forward even as I step past my own ribbon that keeps pulling him from behind me, meanwhile I poise my second ribbon, and like a cobra it strikes forward in a blur of movement, piercing through rock and flesh with ease.
  
  The fight pauses for a second time, only this time it is followed by a mans scream.
  
  Clay's construct starts falling apart with his focus otherwise occupied, and I walk over to where he is lying, impaled on the ground through his chest.
  
  I consider giving him some parting words, some cool one-liner or something.
  
  𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯'𝘵 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘴𝘰 𝘧𝘶𝘤𝘬 𝘩𝘪𝘮.
  
  My second tentacle snaps out like a whip and Clay is no more.
  
  I let out a long breath as the rush of combat fades into the dull throbbing of healing wounds.
  
  Ow.
  
  It's then that I notice.
  
  I'm hungry.
  
  Like, 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 hungry.
  
  I definitely wasn't this hungry earlier.
  
  I guess my regeneration is more draining than I thought then.
  
  My eyes find Clay's downed body and his scent reaches my nose.
  
  It's not the best, but I'm hungry so it will have to do.
  
  Reaching down I grab his body and head and look for an out of the way alleyway.
  
  Ten minutes later and I am on my way back to the flat.
  
  I ignore the sirens sounding out behind me as I find my cape bag that I have decided to just stash under a ventilation box on top of a building and I quickly get changed, the cold air not really bothering me as I do so.
  
  All told, I am back in bed in just over two hours.
  
  It really felt like longer.
  
  As I go to sleep, I resolve myself to start exercising.
  
  Just because my power gives me a brute rating doesn't mean I can't work to make that rating higher.
  
  "-and in todays news, in the early hours of this very morning, the police responded to a call for gunshots, only to arrive to a scene from a movie, the following video contains sensitive images, if you have any children watching I advise they look away."
  
  As the news caster finishes speaking, the screen cuts to show the remains of my fight with Clay, as well as the alleyway where I *ahem*, had a little snack.
  
  They then go on to explain who the blood pool is expected to belong to and how he was 'defeated' by a suspected new vigilante.
  
  "Laaame, it's not even gory, what's the point in the warning? It's just a big ol' pool of blood, hell, it looks more like someone dropped a paint can or ten."
  
  James' lackadaisical voice gets a snort out of me while Theo clips him over the head.
  
  "Have some respect will you? Someone died today." He chides James, but that only seems to annoy him.
  
  "So what? It was a criminal anyway, a gangster, a '𝘷𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘯'. Who cares if they die? Good riddance I say." The vitriol in James voice takes me by surprise.
  
  I didn't expect him to have such a grudge against villains, must be a story there.
  
  Theo shakes his head, clearly not wanting to rehash an old argument.
  
  "Still, we now have a violent vigilante running around the city, and you know what happens with those types, we don't need another Gavel running around."
  
  "Pah," James waves his hands, as if trying to disperse Theo's worry, "everyone learned their lesson with Gavel, if the newbie starts killing innocents then they will get birdcaged all the same, so I say let 'em at it 'till there aren't any villains left in the city, then just give them a nice pay check and ask them to move to the next city."
  
  "If you ever got a job as director you would be fired within a week." Comes Theo's dry response.
  
  Meanwhile, I just silently snicker to myself as I focus on my Solitaire.
  
  If that's what you want James, then I guess I will have to deliver.
  
  It would certainly be an achievement to have to my name, making a city truly free of villains.
  
  Even Eidolons city still has villains in it after all.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Lusia really needs to learn how to fight...
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  12 Meeting Heroes 2 Electric Boogaloo
  After my rather poor showing against Clay, I decided to take a break for a while so that I can get some exercise in.
  
  To that end, I considered going to a gym, but I know that I don't look like I should be able to lift what I can.
  
  Not that it's an incredible amount, in fact a properly trained man could probably lift more than me, but I've found that speed is more my strong suit than pure strength anyway.
  
  But since I don't want to be outed, I found an out of the way empty building and brought in some weights that I've used every day since, as well as going for really long runs.
  
  With my regeneration, my progress has probably been far faster than it has any right to be, the only downside being that I've had to eat every three or so days.
  
  Not that that has been much of a problem, there are plenty of gangsters out there.
  
  The news has gotten hold of my cape name too, so now just about everyone in the city has heard about the new serial killer/vigilante, depending on who you ask, 'Tear'.
  
  James has been in a pretty good mood recently too, and he always seems to perk up when he hears about another gangster 'disappearing'.
  
  Weird guy, but it's nice to know I'm kinda supported, makes me feel all warm and tingly in my tummy.
  
  Anyway, I also got a job.
  
  Mostly because after the first week I felt kinda bad leeching off of the boys' kindness.
  
  It was a bit of a pain to find someone willing to pay under the table since I've kind of abandoned my old identity and don't have any papers, but I ended up finding a nice, Asian run coffee shop called 'Anteiku'.
  
  I was mainly looking for coffee shops and cafe's to work in since at the very least the smell of coffee can outweigh the smell of everything else.
  
  Honestly, human food smells disgusting.
  
  The worst part is probably that the manager, Yoshimura, is super nice and all but forces me to eat sometimes, but for that exact reason I have learnt to take small bites and swallow them whole without having to taste it.
  
  I got some weird looks the first time before I realised that I should pretend to chew as well.
  
  All in all, I am doing a pretty good job playing the part of 'Alice Cain', and now, a whole month after my fight with Clay, I am finally moving into my own place.
  
  This is good news for a few reasons, one of which is obviously just the privacy, but the more important reason is that I promised myself I wouldn't go out again until I had a place for my own so that the boys don't notice anything.
  
  In other words, I will finally be going out to do some proper vigilantism, rather than just hunting for food.
  
  But that's for later, right now I've got to entertain the boys because since it is a Sunday and they both have the day off and decided that since I don't have a whole lot of stuff to move in, we are just going to hang out in the new pad for the day.
  
  I do need to get new furniture though. The flat came with a sofa and a bed, but they both suck.
  
  I'll do it later, for now we are playing poker on the floor, since I don't have a TV yet.
  
  "Aaand that's a three of a kind, get fucked losers." I celebrate with as obnoxious a voice as I can as I look down on Theo and James, sweeping up the prizes between us, making them both groan.
  
  Only about half of the pot is money, the rest are things from candy to pens to whatever we had on hand.
  
  Obviously, I don't want any of the candy, but it's the principle of the matter, so I'm not going to give them back.
  
  "This is bullshit, you're cheating." James accuses, looking for all he's worth like a pouting child.
  
  "Don't be such a sore loser, I'm not cheating," I am, "I'm just lucky, must be the new flat giving me it's blessings."
  
  I think my excuse is pretty good until I hear Theo's accusation.
  
  "I swear I saw two ace's of hearts."
  
  A bead of sweat rolls down my forehead as I keep my facial expression placid.
  
  "You must be seeing things," I lie, "anyway, that's enough poker, you guys don't even have anything to lose anymore and it's getting late, you should probably head home before it gets too dark out."
  
  Jumping to my feet after I finish speaking, I move to the door and swing it open with a smile.
  
  "'Kay byeee!" I exclaim as I usher them out.
  
  I'm pretty sure they both knew I was cheating but just let it be since we were hear to celebrate me getting my flat in the first place.
  
  They really are annoyingly kind.
  
  Whatever, it's late afternoon now and I've been getting antsy.
  
  I've also decided that I'm not going to go after Red Branch again anytime soon.
  
  In fact, I figure I'll just rotate between the three main gangs, take a bite, both metaphorically and physically, out of one gang and then move onto the next.
  
  As for the smaller gangs, well, I'll just deal with them as they come I guess.
  
  They aren't really that important in the grand scheme of things after all.
  
  Red Branch territory is the outer east side of the city, the Street Saints' is the north-western side and Famine is south-west while the centre of the city is obviously the PRT's and subsequently the Protectorates territory.
  
  The smaller gangs just make up what is basically border territories, living in the fringes with a few pockets of land being claimed by smaller groups.
  
  With all of that in mind, I have decided to go after the second biggest villain gang tonight.
  
  I have thought these past few days that maybe I shouldn't have gone after the biggest gang in the city on my first night out, and while I do now recognise the stupidity of doing that, I am still not going to learn my lesson.
  
  I mean, the way I see it, if I keep whittling down the gangs while keeping them somewhat even, then they will keep busy dealing with each other to focus fully on me.
  
  Well, that's the hope anyway, for now I should focus on actually finding some criminals to rob- I mean, some justice to serve.
  
  Which leaves me here, hopping around roof to roof, looking out for anyone wearing the blue colours that are generally associated with the Street Saints.
  
  I find it kind of dumb that gangs can just 'claim' colours like that. It really limits the available fashion in a given area.
  
  I roused from my thoughts by a weird feeling that has me feeling oddly tingly, making me stop in my roof hopping to look around for what might have set me off.
  
  It doesn't take me long to spot the pair of capes standing a few buildings away, also roof hooping, as is the cape way.
  
  It's just so much more convenient.
  
  It's also obvious that they are capes by the outfits they're wearing, but that's not the only fun part.
  
  I actually recognise one of them.
  
  It's Pop Step.
  
  She hasn't called me even though it's been a whole month!
  
  So rude.
  
  The person next to her provides quite a contrast too, she is wearing mostly reds but with a golden scale in the middle of her chest.
  
  It's kind of distasteful the way it sort of looks like the scales are weighing her budding breasts, especially since I'm pretty sure that's Redemption, who is one of the wards.
  
  Yay to child celebrities I guess.
  
  At least both of their masks are only domino masks, so I can still read their expressions somewhat. Probably a PR thing.
  
  Still, even if this isn't what I had planned for the night, I'm not desperately hungry and this seems like a fun thing to do anyway.
  
  With that in mind, I raise my arm and give a full body wave, becoming them over.
  
  After a few awkward moments, they do actually start making their way over to me.
  
  The way that they are jumping between the buildings tells me that they don't have a brute rating like I do, so I move to meet them in the middle.
  
  A few more moments later and we are all standing together on the same rooftop, silently staring at each other.
  
  I feel a lot more relaxed than they both look, so I decide to start us off.
  
  "Yo,~ you're Pop Step and Redemption right? It's nice ta meet'cha!" I greet with a smile even though they can't see it, and a two fingered wave.
  
  A brief moment passes, too long for a proper conversation, before I get a reply that unexpectedly comes from the ward.
  
  "Hey, like you said, I'm Redemption and this is Pop Step. Would I be right in assuming you to be Tear?" Her voice sounds awfully casual compared to the faint nervousness I can smell from the both of them.
  
  "Woahhh~ a hero knows who I am!? D'aww, how flattering.~" I squeal, covering the cheeks of my mask with my hands and squirming at the same time.
  
  Heh.
  
  My response leaves them both stunned for a moment as it's clearly not what they were expecting so naturally I decide to just ramp things up a little bit.
  
  "I would love to give an autograph but I'm afraid I don't have a pen on hand." I say disappointedly, kicking the roofs gravel beneath my feet.
  
  The conversation dies out there rather awkwardly as none of us really know what to say.
  
  That is, until Redemption gives Pop a nudge with her elbow that makes her jump slightly.
  
  "Ah! Right, uhm, are you working alone? The uhm, the statistics for solo capes are pretty bad, uhm, have you thought about joining a group? Like um, the Protectorate? Or the, uhm, the Wards, depending on your age?"
  
  I almost laugh at what must have been the single worst recruitment offer I have ever heard, but that would be mean so I just pretend to think it over instead, humming to myself.
  
  "Hum hum," I say, "I'm pretty happy by myself if I'm being honest, plus there's the fact that I'm pretty sure that I won't be allowed to keep doing what I'm doing if I joined you guys."
  
  Obviously I'm not going to bring up the cannibalism, but pretty much everyone who's aware of me is aware that I'm a murderer.
  
  Now that I think about it I'm basically just saying that I won't join because I want to keep killing people.
  
  That's probably not a good thing to say to heroes is it?
  
  My fears are confirmed when Redemption gets a sharp look in her eyes, though Pop still just seems to be struggling with talking in the first place.
  
  Agoraphobia maybe?
  
  "By 'doing what you're doing', you mean killing people don't you?" Comes Redemption's accusatory voice.
  
  I think Pop Stop just realised the situation as she is now actually focusing on the real world rather than whatever was going on in her head.
  
  "Yup! That is exactly what I mean!" I say with audible cheer, "it's nice to be able to do a little something to help the people every now and then, don'tcha think?"
  
  From the way they both frown, I feel like I'm about to have a fun conversation.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I'm probably going to speed things up a little soon, since I've just been trying to get a certain scene to happen and I figured a way to put it in :)
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  13 Cape Fight! 2 Electric Boogaloo
  "𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘱 people? You are a 𝘮𝘶𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘳, how can you stand there and act like you're a good person!?"
  
  Redemption's voice is thick with contempt and an undercurrent of anger that is slowly but surely bleeding away any of the nervousness she had before.
  
  It almost makes me laugh.
  
  "Now now Red~ I think you're misunderstanding something.~" I respond with a singsong voice, clearly annoying her with my nonchalant attitude.
  
  Red wastes no time taking the conversational bait, completely ignoring my shortening of her name.
  
  "Then enlighten me." She commands.
  
  I allow myself to roll my eyes at her childishness, but I answer nonetheless.
  
  "Well~ I only said it's nice to help people, I never said anything about being a good person."
  
  It is adorable the way she tries and fails to understand what I'm saying, and I'm just hoping she will give me the opportunity to explain, after all, I can only go into more detail if she asks, otherwise I would lose the game.
  
  Thankfully, my prayers are answered and she continues entertaining conversation.
  
  "What does that even mean? Stop dancing around the point!" She all but pouts.
  
  I honestly half expected her to stomp her foot on the floor in indignation.
  
  "What do you think it means to be a Hero?" I ask, to which she just gives me a dry, annoyed stare. "Humour me."
  
  She does.
  
  After thinking to herself for a moment, still with an annoyed frown on her face, she responds.
  
  "A hero is someone who saves people." She practically spits the words out through gritted teeth.
  
  I pretend to consider her answer for a moment, rocking back and forth on the heels of my feet, before I snap my fingers.
  
  "Wrong!" Is all I say, forcing Red to respond.
  
  "Then what makes Hero?" She grinds out, her words seeming to inflict physical pain on herself and I am more than happy to explain my thoughts.
  
  "It's quite simple really, a Hero sacrifices. Be it time, effort or their very lives, a Hero sacrifices for the sake of others. So a Hero doesn't have to be 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥, so much as they have to be willing to sacrifice."
  
  My words bring her to a stop as they both pause to process what I said, and I can see how my words are having an effect, not a large one granted, but an effect nonetheless.
  
  All that they really need is time to process and rationalise what I say and they will find themselves thinking subtly differently.
  
  Man, this 𝘪𝘴 fun.
  
  "Stop avoiding the point! What does any of this have to do with you killing people!" Red half shouts as she decides to simply push the thoughts in her head aside to deal with later, focusing on the now.
  
  "To call yourself a hero and yet be unwilling to kill is pathetic. Are you such a coward that you would rather spill the blood of innocents, than risk getting even a drop to dirty your own hands?" I accuse.
  
  I can see the way my words anger Red. Honestly, she really needs to learn to control her facial expressions, she is very readable.
  
  I think that at this point she is only continuing this little debate out of pride and a refusal to admit defeat.
  
  "So what are you saying? That a hero has to be a murderer to be a hero?"
  
  "Must you see everything is such white and black? Let me give you an easy example, if Jack Slash was in front of you, vulnerable, would you kill him, or would you fight to subdue?"
  
  Silence is my answer, so I keep talking.
  
  "Naturally, you should kill him, that is why kill orders exist in the first place, for government sanctioned murder for the greater good. Now, we all know how awful Jack is, but there are plenty of horrible people out there, and every time you spare someone's life, then every life they take after the fact is blood on your hands."
  
  Unfortunately, right as Red opens her mouth to speak, our conversation is interrupted by an explosion in the distance.
  
  Our heads all snap to the side where we see a small plume of fire in the distance.
  
  Turning back to the others first, I speak up before they can.
  
  "So, how about we put this lovely little conversation on hold for now?"
  
  In lieu of answering me, Pop takes a step away and puts a finger to her ear where she is presumably listening to orders from above.
  
  Seeing the opportunity to push little Red a little further, I take a step closer to her before whispering, hopefully low enough that the mic I assume she has doesn't pic it up, though I don't really care if it does.
  
  "See, a hero doesn't wait for orders before moving to help people, do they?" Is all I say before I am running to the source of the explosion.
  
  Truthfully, I don't really care about being a hero, nor do I even want to be a hero.
  
  Then again, as a cannibal I somehow doubt that I could be a hero even if I wanted to be.
  
  But either way, it's fun to fuck with people, and who knows? Maybe my words will have some effect on her?
  
  That would be interesting to see.
  
  But for now I have to focus on the present.
  
  It doesn't take me long to make it there and the situation swiftly becomes clear.
  
  Down on the street below stand four capes.
  
  Well, it could be three capes and a bear, but I'm assuming the bear is Morrigan of Red Branch, since her power is to shapeshift into animals.
  
  She is looking to be in a pretty bad shape, her fur all singed and stained by some small amounts of blood.
  
  There are also a few bodies lying around that look like they were normal gangsters that didn't get out of the way of the cape fight soon enough.
  
  Standing opposite Morrigan is three Street Saints capes.
  
  First, the ones actually fighting Morrigan and apparently a rather well known pair, Matchstick and Dovah.
  
  Matchstick looks like he's younger than me, dressed in street clothes with a motorcycle helmet that has flame decals on it while Dovah is wearing what looks like genuine half plate armour and a helmet that has a horn sticking out of each temple.
  
  Apparently he's based off of some video game character, but I don't really play games, bar my two favourites of course.
  
  The two of them aren't too powerful by themselves, Dovah's power being an air canon and Matchstick being a relatively weak pyrokinetic, however the two of them synergise really well together.
  
  It was probably the mixing of their powers that caught our attention in the first place.
  
  That leaves the final Street Saints cape, Dynamite. His name threw me off a little when the boys were giving me my crash course on Columbus' capes because I assumed he was some kind of blaster, but apparently he was named after some boxer.
  
  Theo seemed genuinely upset that I didn't know who the boxer guy was, but even now I literally can not care enough to remember. Either way, apparently this guy is a fan.
  
  Dynamite is wearing a full face wolf mask and is for some reason shirtless. His power is rather debated, all that's really known is that he seems to temporarily make his surroundings turn into steel, or at least something analogous to it.
  
  The effect is already somewhat pronounced in that there is about a three foot ring of steel grey surrounding him in place of the roads tarmac.
  
  Now, the question is how should I interfere, because I am obviously not going to just 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘦, that would be 𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  So far it just seems to be Dovah and Matchstick bullying Morrigan whilst Dynamite watches for some reason.
  
  Maybe this is supposed to be training or something? Or just a flex.
  
  I don't exactly know how gang politics work, so I'm just going to focus on the math.
  
  There are four of them. I wanna kill them all. Three are fighting one.
  
  So I could either help quickly finish off the one, and then probably have to fight a very uphill battle, or I can join forces with the one to fight a more even battle.
  
  ... Fuck it, that seems reasonable enough and all this thinking is annoying me because they are still fighting and I want to join in.
  
  The ideal is obviously a two against two, then I can turn on Morrigan afterwards, so with that in mind, I start sneaking around the fight, keeping to the rooftops and looking for an opportunity to take out Matchstick before anyone knows I'm here.
  
  'Plan' in mind, I wait and am quickly rewarded as Morrigan repositions herself, changing from a bear to a crow to fly across the street, closer to Matchstick.
  
  This causes him to rotate his position, making him even closer to me.
  
  Seeing the opportunity for what it is, I give in to the itch in my back and allow my extra limbs to bubble to life behind me.
  
  Slowly, from my position crouched on the roof, I angle my ribbons, pointing both of the tips at Matchstick's chest.
  
  I'd rather get both Dovah and Matchstick at the same time, but Dovah is simply too far away for me to reach.
  
  One is enough however, so I waste no more time and send both of my purplish tendrils of blood-muscle shooting forward as fast as I can.
  
  Even from this distance I can see the way his body locks up once he notices my sneak attack.
  
  I feel like I can 𝘴𝘦𝘦 how his heart skips a beat as he realises that he cannot dodge.
  
  And then, just like that, it's over.
  
  My ribbons pierce straight through his torso and out his back, immediately bringing the fight to a halt as everyone stares at his body as my ribbons heft his body back up to the roof with me.
  
  With everyone's eyes now on me, I stand up fully on the edge of the building.
  
  "Hellooo!~~" I yell, taking a theatrical bow, "I am Tear! Terribly sorry to interrupt, but if you'd be willing, Miss Morrigan, I believe you could use a hand?~"
  
  Instead of getting a proper answer, Dovah points both of his hands in my direction, but before he can launch his air cannons at me one of my ribbons snap out to wrap around a streetlight.
  
  Right as his pair of air blasts slam into the building, I am being pulled by my ribbon until I am dangling upside-down under the streetlight.
  
  Ignoring the angry Dovah, I turn to Morrigan, however she speaks up before I can reiterate my offer.
  
  "Oi, aren't you the bitch that killed Clay?"
  
  ... Ah.
  
  Even through the strangeness that is talking to a bear, I feel a little concerned at this turn of events.
  
  "... no?"
  
  Apparently that wasn't the right answer as Morrigan's next words ruin my plan.
  
  "Oi, Dovah. We've both lost people to this bitch now, how 'bout a temporary truce. You in?"
  
  This really isn't ideal.
  
  Dovah seems angry enough that he struggles to even grunt in affirmation, but Morrigan gets enough confirmation when he launches yet another blast of air at me.
  
  I don't get any time to recover from my dodge before a bear paw smacks into my side, sending me rolling to the side and before I even stop rolling, Dovah's other hand sends another air blast at me, launching me into a wall and cracking it.
  
  Ow.
  
  Dropping to the ground, I land on my feet and stumble a little before my regeneration properly kicks in.
  
  Looking up, I see Dovah and Morrigan on my right and a still silent Dynamite to me left, standing in a larger circle of steel than before.
  
  Twisting my neck to get that satisfying 𝘱𝘰𝘱, I prepare myself for a tough battle, still confident in my lasting power enough that I think I've still got a chance.
  
  Then, as I take a step forward, I hear a 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘨 and suddenly everything changes.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  hahaha cliffhanger! lolololol git rekt scrubzz ahhaha.. sorry.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  /Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  14 :c
  𝘉𝘢𝘯𝘨!
  
  The sound, like a thundercrack, is sudden and unexpected.
  
  However, despite it's incredible volume, the sound is gone as soon as it comes, no ringing in the head, no time to so much as flinch.
  
  At the same time, everything in front of me flickers slightly, like the world itself is somehow lagging.
  
  Our Mexican standoff comes to an abrupt end as we look down the street where, behind Dovah and Morrigan, stand Pop Stop and Redemption.
  
  I suppose that's what Pop's power feels like then.
  
  The first person to speak up is actually Dynamite, who moves for the first time.
  
  "You two go deal with the Heroes, I'll teach our mutual friend here a lesson." His gruff voice commands and find myself surprised by how easily Morrigan follows his orders.
  
  Even as I turn to face Dynamite, I idly hear the roars of fire and bears down the street.
  
  "Hey there tall dark and handsome~ ready to start killing each other?~" I ask as we start closing the distance between us, my tails dancing behind me.
  
  Dynamite comes to a stop about ten feet away from me and speaks with a dismissive tone of voice that kind of annoys me.
  
  "Hmph, you are no fighter, your form is garbage."
  
  What kind of bullshit is that?
  
  "I killed your friend over there, I killed Clay."
  
  He just scoffs.
  
  "You killed them with your power alone, you are clumsy and unpractised. No 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮."
  
  He stands in front of me, hands in his pockets, staring down at me through the holes in his metal mask.
  
  "I'll give you a few free hits, come on."
  
  This asshole...
  
  Whatever, he wants me to get free hits?
  
  Then I will give him what he wants, I'm nice like that.
  
  With annoyance at his dismissal of me fuelling me, I bound forward and swing a punch with everything I have straight at his centre mass.
  
  Thud.
  
  I hit skin, then I hit metal. He doesn't even flinch.
  
  I however, do worse than flinch.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  I 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮 as I hunch over, cradling my completely 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 right arm.
  
  I feel tears well up in my eyes as pain becomes my whole world and my vision goes white.
  
  There is a 𝘷𝘢𝘴𝘵 difference between breaking your wrist and having your 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘮 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳 all but 𝘭𝘪𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥.
  
  After what felt like hours but was probably only a few moments, I can open my eyes through the pain to actually look at my arm, almost immediately wishing I didn't.
  
  I can see bones and flesh sticking out from the skin basically everywhere, as my arm does it's best impression of an empty sleeve by just hanging limply.
  
  Even as I can see bones and muscles slowly, 𝘧𝘢𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘴𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘺, realign themselves, stitching my arm back together.
  
  Not wanting to look at it anymore, I turn away, only for Dynamite's masked face to take up my vision.
  
  Anger surges me and I ignore my broken arm to swing for the side of his head with my other arm, hitting his mask hard enough to leave a dent.
  
  The sound it made was indicative enough of the force behind it.
  
  His head only tilted slightly, and he corrected himself to look down at me again.
  
  Meanwhile, my hand and wrist are 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥.
  
  "You're done then?" He rhetorically asks.
  
  Ah.
  
  ... Fuck.
  
  "I'm gonna take that as a yes."
  
  I open my mouth to respond but before I can say anything, my breath leaves me thanks to the force hitting my gut. I can barely hack out a cough before my vision explodes into stars., my legs becoming weak for a moment, making me stumble around like a drunk.
  
  Everything is spinning.
  
  He'd hit me with what I'd done, just... better.
  
  Punches from normal people don't really hurt, but from Dynamite, it feels like 𝘐'𝘮 the normal one.
  
  "If you had any form of skill, you might've been able to do something with those free hits."
  
  His words bring me back to reality, and I throw my now healed arms into punching his bare chest.
  
  I graze his skin, leaving it red with my own blood, but the 'clang' of each hit shows how little I'm actually doing to him.
  
  He grabs one of my arms, locking it in place, then he raises his fist.
  
  My vision blacks out, colours quickly popping into existence once more. It was like a kaleidoscope, colours everywhere. Half of it was red.
  
  I think he punched the side of my head six times before he let me go, making me stumble backwards.
  
  I think something broke, my vision was worse. I couldn't see properly.
  
  Something hits my chest and it feels like a train hit me.
  
  His foot? I think? He kicked me?
  
  I fly back, spinning over the ground to a stop.
  
  Slowly, my vision recovers and I force myself onto my hands and knees.
  
  Everything hurts. The world is spinning.
  
  "You're a tough one, that's for sure."
  
  His voice taunts me.
  
  It pisses me off.
  
  "It's not often someone can get up after taking a hit from me."
  
  A tail lashes out.
  
  It blurs, intending to sheer him in half.
  
  However, nothing is sheered.
  
  Instead, Dynamite blocks my extra appendage with his forearm, the force sending him sliding back a few steps.
  
  "That's better. You came into this fight with quite a bit of pride didn't you?"
  
  I get back to my feet, ignoring how my tail comes back to me without a thought.
  
  "You came at me, thinking you'd what? Out-box me? That you wouldn't need your power to fight me?"
  
  My vision still isn't perfect and my body is still healing, but I glare at him all the same, not even bothering to wipe the blood from my face.
  
  "But now you're thinking 'fuck it' right? 'Fuck pride, I'm gonna kick this assholes ass'?"
  
  He isn't wrong.
  
  I send both of my tails forward, one delayed behind the second, both intending to skewer him.
  
  "Good! Stop fucking around, and fight me!"
  
  I ignore his yelling and focus on my tails.
  
  The first one is dodged by a side step and the second blocked by his crossed arms as he rushes for me, his skin taking on the sheen of the steel that I am intimately aware lies beneath it.
  
  Before I can bring my tails back, Dynamite is in front of me.
  
  I barely manage to twist out of the way of his first swing, however I am off balanced to dodge the kick that follows it.
  
  However, instead of the expected pain, I feel the feeling of flying as my tails both dig into the ground where they are, behind Dynamite, and lift me up and 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 him.
  
  Huh, I can do that?
  
  Hanging ten feet in the air by my tails that I am using as stilts, I think about turning around, so that I am facing Dynamite again, and following instincts I didn't know I had, one of my tails pulls out of the ground and spins me around.
  
  Awesome.
  
  Now.. how exactly does this help me? I only have two tails.
  
  I'm not given any time to ponder that as a familiar 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘨 sounds out, followed by a wall of fire appearing and charging down the street at me and Dynamite, who somehow seems to have been frozen for less time than me since he's already moved a little.
  
  Right as I prepare my tails to launch me away back to the roofs I hear another 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘨 and the next thing I know all I can see is Redemptions red-silver flames.
  
  I expected burning, I expected pain, what I did 𝘯𝘰𝘵 expect is for it to only feel 𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘮.
  
  Ok, warm is pushing it a bit, more like uncomfortably hot, like an unexpected sauna, I would imagine. I've never been in a sauna though so I can't be sure.
  
  A moment passes and the fire dissipates, leaving me standing on my two tails in the middle of the street, Dynamite nowhere in sight, with little Red and Pop taking his place.
  
  I try to process what just happened and I can't help but feel cheated.
  
  I mean, sure, I was getting my ass kicked a little, but I was just about to turn it around!
  
  They let him get away.
  
  A quick glance around doesn't reveal any unconscious villains, so I can only assume the other two got away too.
  
  Such useless heroes.
  
  "Tear! please come with us peacefully!"
  
  Haah?
  
  "You let them get away." I don't even know why I'm bothered about this, every good game is about give and take.
  
  You win some and you lose some.
  
  "You let them get away." As I repeat myself I learn something new about myself.
  
  This all might just be one big game.
  
  𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  I'm moving before I can even think about it, my tails launching my body like a missile straight at the pair of them.
  
  𝘉𝘢𝘯𝘨.
  
  A wall of fire greets me, but I can still see the two of them behind it, and the fire doesn't hinder me in the slightest.
  
  I land right in front of them with such force that I crack the street and possibly my ankles too, but I don't care as I lunge up and lash my fist out with a shout to Pop's gut that takes the air out of her lungs.
  
  "Useless!"
  
  My form is still garbage, but these two are no brutes, so she folds around my fist before being thrown a few paces backwards, landing harshly on the ground.
  
  As I turn to Redemption, fire consumes my vision, but knowing how useless it is, I ignore it completely as I bring my now raised fist down on her face, sending her crumpling to the ground with a scream.
  
  "Failures!"
  
  Standing over the both of them, panting from exhaustion and pain and just so 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩, all I want to do is go home and take a nice nap, maybe grab some food on the way.
  
  But I am still angry, so I don't feel like leaving without saying a few words first.
  
  "You call yourself heroes!? Pathetic." I spit, "four villains were here today. One of them will never hurt anyone again. That was 𝘮𝘦. Three of them are free to keep doing what they have been doing. That. Was. 𝘠𝘰𝘶."
  
  Obviously, I don't 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 care about them being villains and doing villain stuff, but I want my words to 𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘵 these bitches for taking my prey away from me.
  
  Whatever, I got one, that's good enough.
  
  I can always get the others some other time.
  
  "Just remember what I said earlier, every time you spare an enemy you could have killed, any blood they spill is on 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 hands."
  
  Sighing to myself, I feel the anger leaving me at just how pointless this whole thing is.
  
  You win some, you lose some.
  
  If I throw a tantrum every time I lose something then I will never succeed long term.
  
  Whatever, I want to go to bed.
  
  Turning around, I don't look back as I leave, however I do make sure to grab Matchsticks body as I go.
  
  Waste not, want not after all.
  
  The next day, or I suppose, later that day, after a nice long sleep I wake up to a bunch of text messages from James and Theo, James even sending a few videos, about how the new vigilante took out another villain.
  
  Apparently someone recorded the whole thing and posted it on PHO, though they weren't close enough to get audio, which means no one knows why I suddenly attacked the heroes at the end.
  
  Then again, I don't really know why I did that.
  
  I just 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 didn't like that Dynamite just left before we properly decided a victor.
  
  It just really pissed me off, like if you're playing monopoly and once every property on the board has been bought, everyone just decides to stop playing.
  
  It's annoying.
  
  Still, it's nice to see how despite most people condemning me, there is quite a number of people on my side, even saying the heroes are in the wrong.
  
  That's fun at least.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Ok, so this chapter confused the shit out of me, because I really wanted to basically copy a scene from another fic (Centipede, google it), entirely because I wanted to get in a line about how Lusia has no form, but then I ended up struggling how to get it in, but now that that's over, I can finally kick things off for real, also I wrote and rewrote this chap so many times that I have no clue what I actually kept lol.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  15 Interlude: Aiko Hasson
  Sitting here, surrounded by so many Heroes and even Director Balvan, I can't help but feel out of place.
  
  Because Despite what Ethan and Luke would say, I really don't think I'm fit to be Heroes like they are.
  
  I mean, look at Ethan, he is compared to 𝘓𝘦𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘥 himself and even if Luke isn't that good with his powers as Lost, he still manages to make the people around him feel safe and happy.
  
  Then there's me.
  
  Too nervous to even act like a hero and too weak to fight villains.
  
  It's supposed to be me giving the report on our encounter with the new vigilante Tear and the fight that followed, but instead here I am, head bowed and silent as Emma gives the report for me.
  
  Just like how when we actually met the odd vigilante, she had to do all the talking as I just stood there like an 𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘰𝘵 that just can't ever figure out 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰!
  
  But that does make me think about our meeting.
  
  The new vigilante is... weird.
  
  At the start, she seemed super nice and friendly and honestly I really liked how bubbly she was.
  
  She just seemed so.. 𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 and she has a confidence that I could only silently admire, too shy to speak up and leaving Emma to do all the talking for me.
  
  I should find the time to apologise to her. I know she's technically been a Hero longer than I have, but I am still older than her, I should be the responsible one, not the one acting childish.
  
  But I did manage to give the recruitment speech we're supposed to give if we meet an unaffiliated cape!
  
  Even if I did kind of bumble the words a little, at least Tear pretended not to mind, I appreciated that.
  
  But she declined, something I think is completely understandable really, government work isn't for everybody, I mean I'm only really here due to circumstance in the first place.
  
  Then things started going badly when Emma accused Tear of murder, which I didn't really want to bring up and I probably should have stopped the conversation then and there.
  
  Maybe then...
  
  But I didn't, and they kept arguing, well, Emma was arguing, Tear seemed to be having fun.
  
  Then Tear really started 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨, and I don't think I can ever forget what she said.
  
  A Hero doesn't have to be 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥.
  
  A Hero 𝘴𝘢𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴.
  
  Those words hit me hard, because it's true, isn't it?
  
  A Hero gives up their own lives for the sake of strangers.
  
  But I don't want to die.
  
  Why should I? When they have never done anything for me?
  
  I don't think I make a very good hero.
  
  Even with how little attention I'm paying to Emma's report, I notice how much of the conversation she omits and I can't help but think that Tear's words must be effecting her just as much as me.
  
  Emma is, after all, a lot more emotionally invested in this whole hero business.
  
  I remember finding it odd when we finally got to the fighting to see that Dovah was out with Dynamite instead of Matchstick, since they are supposed to be together most of the time.
  
  It was only after the fact that we found out that Matchstick was killed by Tear before we even got there.
  
  I felt nothing hearing about his death.
  
  Matchstick has many cases of arson pinned to him and plenty of deaths attributed to him. If he is to kill, then no one should complain if he gets killed himself.
  
  However, I know that I can't say these thoughts out loud, not here.
  
  Just another reason for me to not fit in.
  
  But we didn't really have the time to think about it before we had to fend off Morrigan and Dovah.
  
  Not that that was particularly hard, what with my crowd control and Emma's offence. The only thing that made the fight take as long as it did was Dovah's ability to push back Emma's fire.
  
  But with me there to delay him, the fire got closer and closer until he had to run away.
  
  Meanwhile Morrigan just turned into a bird and flew away, there wasn't really much we could do about that.
  
  It's only now that Emma is nearing the end of the report to I clear all these thoughts from my head and actually pay attention to the meeting.
  
  "-and then we moved over to where Dynamite and Tear had been fighting to see both of them facing off against each other, Tear standing on a pair of tendrils and Dynamite fully metal. Seeing that Tear was covered in blood and given how we were unaware of her apparent regenerative abilities, I made the decision to join the fight, hoping to avoid needless casualties."
  
  She says that, but I know that she didn't interfere to help Tear, but rather hoped to just take the both of them down, and that leads to the most interesting part of this whole thing.
  
  "However, Dynamite seemed to have notice us too early for my fire to do much to him before he could escape, Tear however was engulfed completely."
  
  Here, Emma pauses, understandably really, since what happened didn't really make much sense.
  
  "When I dispersed my flames, we found Tear in the same spot, unharmed and only slightly singed... my flames did not hurt her."
  
  Now 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 sends an almost visible ripple of murmuring and frowns through the room.
  
  Rather understandably, since as far as I am aware, Emma's fire burns hotter depending on ones 'sins'. It's like literal karmic retribution and it's part of what makes Redemption such a promising up and coming hero.
  
  Because all villains have committed 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 kind of 'sin', just imagine how effective her flames would be against the likes of the Slaughterhouse Nine.
  
  However, even heroes have been burned by her flames, even if only slightly in most cases.
  
  Which leads to the conclusion that maybe Tear is even less of a 'sinner' than everyone here at this table.
  
  Of course, that really depends on how her power defines 'sin'.
  
  Then of course, there is the 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 theory, as Carol is quick to point out.
  
  "This just adds further proof to what I've said before about Redemption's fire. It cannot somehow judge karma, but rather it would be more accurate to say that it burns hotter the more guilt you feel."
  
  It's a solid theory, and it actually makes more sense than something as arbitrary as karma being real, however it does bring about it's own problem if it's true.
  
  "If that's the case," Ben starts, bringing attention to the only thinker present, even if his power as Cousin doesn't really apply here, "then this 'Tear' must not feel any guilt, despite having literally just killed someone, and on top of this it means that she has never felt guilt in her 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦, except for maybe once. That leaves only one possibility for the kind of person our new 'vigilante' is."
  
  Nobody gets to call him out on making this more dramatic than it needs to be by pausing needlessly because Emma is already impatient and clearly just wants to leave already.
  
  "Well? Get to the point already!" She snaps, and it shows how everybody agrees with her since no one pointed out how she should be showing more respect to her seniors.
  
  Coughing lightly to himself, Ben does get to the point.
  
  "She is insane." He says, immediately elaborating before anyone can ask him to this time.
  
  "Everybody feels guilt at some point, even if it's something you forget about, you still 𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘵 the guilt at some point, and we've already got enough evidence to suggest that Redemption's power is retroactive, meaning that even if you don't feel guilty 𝘯𝘰𝘸, her power can still burn you.
  
  "For Tear to only be 'slightly singed', to the point that even her clothes are basically untouched, it means that she has lived her whole life without feeling guilt once, not even from small, meaningless things we feel bad about in the moment only to immediately forget. This could only be possible in someone who simply does not care about... well, anything really, ergo, she is insane."
  
  As he finishes, nobody jumps to be the next person to speak, simply absorbing his words.
  
  Personally, I think he's making her sound worse than she is. In my opinion, she is just not the kind of person to feel guilt, like, the 'no regrets' kind of person, who lives her life and accepts everything as it comes, focusing on the future rather than dwelling on the past.
  
  Besides, why should she feel guilty about killing a villain? I don't think I would.
  
  "Definitely insane," Emma agrees, "she seemed to take the whole situation as some kind of game, not to mention the way she talks and the literal clown mask, I'm pretty sure she is only a vigilante because it's what she finds amusing right now rather than any moral basis."
  
  I think Emma's still just upset with Tear and is being petty.
  
  "Potential insanity aside," Tiamat says, forcibly taking control of the conversation, "we should focus on the threat Tear poses should she decide the life of villainy to be more entertaining."
  
  I'm not sure how I feel about Tiamat as a person. Don't get me wrong, as a cape she's 𝘢𝘸𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦, one of the best, there's a reason she got the name Tiamat, mother of monsters, though I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be offensive to call case 53's like her monster capes, her being the strongest 53 shouldn't change that.
  
  Still, despite that she seems kinda petty, and rather prideful. It gets kind of annoying how she is constantly trying to one up Bungee to take his position as leader of our Protectorate branch.
  
  Though, to be fair to her, she really does deserve the position, but people are superficial at the best of times and her freaky, it feels mean to say freaky but it really is daunting to look at, dragon head and tail means that she is unlikely to ever get a higher position.
  
  It's pitiable really.
  
  With the question of threat rating coming up, it's Yumiko's turn to speak because even if her 'fox fire' isn't exactly a thinker power, she is really good at coming up with accurate threat ratings.
  
  "Changer four, Brute three, thinker one and mover one." Is all she says before going to her phone where I just 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 she is shitposting on PHO.
  
  However, Ben frowns at her words, "Thinker one? Where did thinker come from? She seems to be a changer/brute through and through?"
  
  Yumiko meets his uncertain words with the kind of expression you would give to a particularly dumb child, before she gives an exaggerated, put upon sigh and sits up, leaning forward slightly.
  
  "Because," She drawls, "if you were paying attention, you would know how despite following from a good distance, Tear managed to sense the approach of Redemption and Pop Step behind her. If I had to guess, it would be some variant of danger sense that lets her know if someone is watching her or something."
  
  Done with her bit, she flops back into her chair and goes back to ignoring us, but Ben doesn't seem satisfied.
  
  "Why does it have to be a variant of danger sense, and not just danger sense?" He asks, making Yumiko sigh, however she doesn't look up from her phone as she answers this time.
  
  "She was covered in her own blood, Dynamite doesn't have a mover rating, Tear's faster, you do the math dumbass if she had danger sense she wouldn't have been so messed up."
  
  The rest of the meeting was mostly boring stuff, we briefly covered the events after Dynamite got away where Tear beat us both down, but I'm just glad that we didn't have to dwell on it, the decision being that it wasn't something we have to hold a grudge for, nor is it necessarily an indication of open hostility.
  
  Still, it can't help but make me think about how quickly and easily me and Emma were both put down by just a low brute.
  
  However, for once instead of simply cursing my weakness, I try to think about what I could do better.
  
  Unfortunately, I come up with a blank for the rest of the day until I am in my room and see a little note on the desk.
  
  It's the number from that woman that seemed oddly interested in the specifics of my power a month or so ago.
  
  ... Maybe I should finally give her a call? She might have some more ideas for my power, I mean, I never thought about the velocity thing she mentioned last time and how I might be able to stop someone from falling to their death with it.
  
  ... Yeah, I guess I'll give her a call in the morning.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  This chapter also beat me up, because the page refreshed randomly and deleted a bunch of work :(
  
  Made me so mad I paced around and started working out lol.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  16 Coffee
  Well, yesterday was both fun and also really sucked.
  
  For one, I got my ass kicked again, which sucks, and I have since decided that rather than just exercising, I should try learning how to actually fight and to that end I have started paying for a boxing coach.
  
  It's slightly annoying having to hide my actual strength from him, but it is also good training for not putting too much strength into things, I've broken a few glasses by forgetting my strength after all.
  
  I think it's going rather well, I mean, I'm apparently still awful, according to Luke, my coach, but he also says I have decent 'fighting instincts' so I assume it won't be too long 'till I stop breaking my wrists by punching brutes.
  
  However, that is not the most interesting thing that has happened since my last fight, see, something really unexpected happened the day after.
  
  Pop Stop, who I gave my number to over a month ago, 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 decided to give me a call.
  
  To be honest, I figured she'd just thrown my number away, but I do love surprises like this.
  
  Also, I find the whole situation of talking to her as 'Alice' right after our little 'interaction' as capes absolutely hilarious.
  
  All of this leads to now, were we decided to meet up when I get off of work, since Anteiku closes early on Sundays and I suggested that we simply meet here.
  
  After all, Mr Yoshimura is kind enough to let me use the shop for some 'private socialising' after it closes.
  
  Now that I think about it, I think the old man thinks that I'm bringing a date here.
  
  Huh, ah well.
  
  So here I am, still in my Anteiku uniform of a plain white dress shirt and deep maroon tie underneath a smart black vest, with a dark maroon skirt over a pair of black leggings.
  
  I think Mr Yoshimura used to be some rich persons butler or something with how he makes me dress, but I can't really complain since it means that once I take of the apron I am already dressed formally enough that I won't be out of place walking around, or meeting with a 'friend'.
  
  Either way, that leaves me wating here, brewing some coffee, something that I have been practicing with the help of Mr Yoshimura who makes the best coffee I've ever had, when Pop shows up.
  
  The sound of the shops bell tingling alerts me to her presence right before her scent does. She has that same, not very nice but still palatable, scent that every parahuman has.
  
  When I look over, I feel a wry smile take over my lips. We had agreed that whilst she would not be showing up in costume, for obvious reasons, she also wouldn't be revealing her identity to me, since I know her as Pop Stop.
  
  To that end, she has shown up wearing the most movie 'disguise' I have ever seen, from the overly large summer hat, despite it being close to christmas time, to the large black sunglasses and a fur scarf covering her lower face.
  
  Honestly, it kind of makes her look like a 'Madam', aka a female pimp.
  
  Other than the over the top disguise, she is wearing relatively normal clothing, a brown skirt that is about a foot longer than my own with stockings, as well as a beige blouse and a simple red jacket over the top.
  
  Even through her thick disguise, I can still see her blush slightly from the smirk on my face, I can practically 𝘴𝘮𝘦𝘭𝘭 the blood gathering in her cheeks.
  
  Waving a hand to the stools on the other side of the counter in front of me, I offer her a smile.
  
  "Please, take a seat, the coffee will be done in a moment, would you like a cake?"
  
  She had told me how she was also quite partial to coffee over the phone, which is great since it means I don't have to smell whatever else she would want to drink.
  
  "Ah, n-no, it's ok, just the coffee is fine, thank you." Her voice is quiet even in the otherwise empty room.
  
  Still, I'm fairly certain that her denial was out of politeness than an actual aversion to eating a slice of cake, so I decide to get her one anyway while I wait for the water to boil for a fresh coffee.
  
  "Here, it's on the house." I say as I pass over a slice of coffee cake before moving back to the boiling water and coffee beans.
  
  "I w-wouldn't want to impose so much, there's no need, uhm, I can pay for it though?"
  
  As she reaches down, presumably for her wallet, I gently put a hand over her own to stop her.
  
  "It's okay, we won't sell all of them anyway and we give them away anyway, when they're about to go stale, really it's fine and I insist, you've been glancing at the cakes enough that I'm half convinced you are trying to will them into your stomach."
  
  My gentle chastisement calms her down and my little joke relaxes her enough that I feel most of the tension drain from her as she settles down.
  
  The moments pass in silence as I prepare the coffee, just like Mr Yoshimura taught me. Swirl the water as you pour it to spread the flavour properly.
  
  I make pretty good coffee if I do say so myself, but Mr Yoshimura says that I am still 'too impatient to make perfect coffee', whatever that means.
  
  What part of my coffee making is impatient? I don't do it any different to him as far as I can tell.
  
  Part of me thinks he's just fucking with me.
  
  Still, when I am done and hand Pop her cup, I am vindicated by the groan of satisfaction that leaves her once she takes her first sips.
  
  See? Good coffee.
  
  "That is the best coffee I've ever had." Pop whispers, staring at her cup on the counter as if it holds the mysteries of the universe.
  
  I beam in pride at her words and give her the most exaggerated, most smug smile I can manage, "I know, I know, I truly am amazing, but it's a trade secret so I can't tell you how it's done unfortunately."
  
  My 'brag' gets a snort out of her that seemed to surprise herself.
  
  Maybe I was right about my assumption of agoraphobia then?
  
  "So!", I clap my hands, getting her full attention, "I don't think it was coffee that made you decide to call me now of all time, so what did you want to talk about?"
  
  She scratches her cheek with one finger in slight awkwardness at the reminder that she ignored my number for a whole month, only to contact me because she presumably needs something other than simple conversation.
  
  But after coughing once in her fist, she pushes that down and starts talking, immediately grabbing my interest.
  
  "Well, I remembered what you asked, about how my power interacts with velocity, and since you seemed to care more about how my power worked than getting a selfie or something like most people do, I was thinking you might be able to help me with something."
  
  Humming with genuine interest, I lean down on the counter on my elbows, idly using one hand to stir my coffee.
  
  I didn't actually think that I would be having an interesting conversation today, I thought it would be more a case of her wanting to make a friend who isn't a co-worker or somehow connected to her work.
  
  The only reason I agreed despite that is that it is just too funny to not try and befriend a hero.
  
  But it is certainly a pleasant surprise that the conversation might not be boring normal stuff.
  
  "I'd be happy to help." I say with a smile.
  
  "Right, w-well, uhm. You see, I recently had an, uh, 𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 with some other capes, and I'm not sure if you know, but I have only been in the Protectorate for a few months now, making me the newest member and I had never actually been in a proper cape fight before and I felt like I wasn't doing as much as I could and at the end I kind of got, uh, immobilised, without even being able to do anything about it, so I was hoping you might be able to help me come up with better ways to use my power?"
  
  Blinking from the veritable tsunami of words she just vomited out in a single breath, I take a moment to process all that she said while she herself takes a moment to breathe after her rambling.
  
  When I finally finish processing her words, it takes all of my will to not start laughing, the best I can manage is limiting my visible amusement to a large smile.
  
  A Hero is asking a not-quite-a-villain, how to better use their powers to beat them in a fight?
  
  This is the funniest thing to happen to me.. maybe ever!
  
  Ah, don't lose yourself Lusia, it would be a shame to give the game away when it's so much fun.
  
  With that in mind, I quickly placate the dismayed Pop Stop who clearly thinks I was making fun of her, which is correct I suppose, just not for the reason she believes.
  
  "Ah, don't worry Pop, it just makes me happy to see you acting so human. People like to see Heroes as beings that are larger than life. It's just nice to see visual evidence that you lot are just as human as the rest of us 'mortals'."
  
  My words do calm her down, but they also make her make a confused expression before it turns contemplative.
  
  I don't know what she's thinking, but after a moment she just smiles and relaxes some more as she gets the conversation back on topic.
  
  "Right, so, do you have any ideas? Because I feel like I've hit a wall and I at least need some inspiration to work from, you know?"
  
  "Yeah, I get you", and I do, "it's like writers block I'd guess, you just need some help to push through the wall and then you can go back to figuring things out for yourself."
  
  My words make her make an 'o' expression with her mouth that I can see now that she lowered her scarf so she could drink, and I continue after she doesn't.
  
  "Well, for now, how about you tell me how you use your power right now, as well as maybe give me a demonstration? So I know what to build of from?"
  
  She acquiesces to my request, and explains how she uses her abilities, while also giving me an example of how it feels.
  
  Obviously, I already knew basically all of this, but I do need a reason to know it so this is all necessary, even if my first bit of advice is something that I thought about a while ago.
  
  "Well, from the way I see it, your power is less like a shaker effect and more like a masters, effectively 'taking away' the 'time' of anyone who flinches at your bubbles, taking more 'time' the more they flinch, right?"
  
  She nods her head, clearly wondering where I'm going with this.
  
  "Well, you know you can make multiple bubbles, and pop them sequentially in order to keep someone freezing and effectively immobile. So why don't you try popping multiple bubbles at once? Theoretically, it should make a louder 'bang' and thus take more 'time' from whoever hears it, no?"
  
  Once I finish speaking, I am greeted to the sight of Pop's face slowly morphing into a dumbfounded expression as realisation overtakes her.
  
  I can almost see the moment that something seems to just 𝘤𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘬 inside of her mind.
  
  "Why did I never think of that?" She breathes out, barely a whisper.
  
  When she finally stops staring into space, lost in thought, and finally looks up to me, she sees me smirking as I pointedly drink my coffee, purposefully making slurping noises once I see her looking at me.
  
  She immediately becomes embarrassed for a moment, before that feeling is seemingly wiped away by excitement.
  
  We go on to spend the rest of the day talking about intricate ways she could use her powers, as well as a lot of theories and physics.
  
  All in all, a very entertaining night.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  17 Interlude: Multi
  "-yeah yeah, just knock when it's time for my patrol, I want a nap."
  
  Closing the door to my room in the wards section of the PRT building, I take four steps forward before collapsing in a boneless heap onto my bed.
  
  I don't know how long I just lied there, my mind blank and my open eyes unseeing, but eventually I got the urge to move, and sat up on the middle of the bed, crossing my legs underneath me.
  
  Cupping my palms in front of me, I focus on that inexplicable 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 that is so much like instinct, but just not quite the same.
  
  The next instant, fire is born in my waiting hands, I know only from the in depth power testing I've been through that it takes exactly 0.0214 for the first spark to turn into the ball of flame I'm holding now.
  
  Apparently the number is significant for research purposes, but I'm not a nerd so I'm not really too sure about that.
  
  I think I spend a few dozen minutes just staring at my fire, lost in thought.
  
  When I first got my power, I was filled with a sense of 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦, of 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴.
  
  My power was 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵.
  
  It cut through all uncertainty and allowed me to punish evil, and protect good.
  
  My flames were the perfect judge. If you burned, then you were evil, how much you burned depended on how evil.
  
  We don't know if there's an upper limit, but the strongest it's ever been was enough to reduce a man to charcoal in 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘴.
  
  Yet, if it was simply hot, like scalding water, then you were innocent, or at least, innocent enough.
  
  I know that no one can be perfect and my power gave me an exacting line for who is good and who is evil.
  
  Many perished under my flames before the PRT brought me into the wards. From the assholes who triggered me in the first place, to murderers and rapists and podophiles.
  
  Their sins were their own undoing.
  
  Even after joining the wards and learning that just because they are evil, that doesn't mean I should fall to their level, that I should be better, that life is sacred always, and should always be given another chance.
  
  Even then, my powers never failed me, never killed anyone, my perfect, constant companion has never failed me.
  
  Any yet... and yet, here I am.
  
  Everything was going so well too, two more years and I would be able to join the protectorate, and with my total of five years of experience by that point, I would no doubt get an amazing salary.
  
  But more importantly, I would have more freedom to be a hero, to spread the flames of justice.
  
  But then, 𝘴𝘩𝘦 showed up.
  
  A new vigilante shows up and immediately sets out on a killing spree of the cities villains.
  
  When she was first brought up in the weekly meetings, it felt like everyone was staring at me, accusing me as if it's me out there instead.
  
  But that's stupid, I'm obviously not the only one who acts like that when we first get powers.
  
  Telling myself that doesn't make it feel like the stares are going away.
  
  I started seeing myself in the new vigilante.
  
  Projecting.
  
  That's what the shrink called it, she says that it's likely that my guilt is making me push all the parts of myself that I hate onto the new vigilante.
  
  With that in mind, when me and Pop Stop happened to come across her on a regular patrol, I did my best to be unbiased to her. To be fair.
  
  But then she started 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 and oh. My. 𝘎𝘰𝘥. She is the most aggravating person I have ever had the displeasure to meet.
  
  I will admit, at the start, she seemed pretty fun actually, from her voice to the way she moved her body animatedly to emphasise her words.
  
  She was funny, and I was starting to relax, thinking that maybe she just needs the same guidance that I got, then maybe she could see the light, that we could even be friends.
  
  But then, after nudging Pop Stop in order to get my way too shy senior to give the sales pitch, things changed with Tears response.
  
  "Hum hum", she actually 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥 'hum hum'. Who enunciates their humming?
  
  "I'm pretty happy by myself if I'm being honest, plus there's the fact that I'm pretty sure that I won't be allowed to keep doing what I'm doing if I joined you guys."
  
  Like a bucket of ice water being dumped on me, I was reminded of exactly 𝘸𝘩𝘺 I had a problem with her in the first place.
  
  My next words came out almost subconsciously, and in hindsight, I'm not very proud of how emotional I got in the argument, nor by how easily she led me around, something I only noticed after thinking on the conversation later.
  
  Then she asked that stupid question, 'what does it mean to be a Hero'.
  
  I expected her answer to be something stupid or edgy, like 'a hero kills villains' or something that justifies her actions, but I didn't get that.
  
  She went on about how a hero sacrifices, and I hated how much sense she was making, how 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 it all felt.
  
  But then she said it, the words that hit me with all the force of a train.
  
  "Are you such a coward that you would rather spill the blood of innocents, than risk getting even a drop to dirty your own hands?"
  
  Those words, so much like my own back when I started.
  
  They pissed me off.
  
  They pissed me off because of the memories they brought.
  
  They pissed me off because of how much 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦 they made.
  
  But most of all, they pissed me off because they showed me that even after all this time with the wards, I still agree with her.
  
  I 𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 it.
  
  I 𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦 her.
  
  Because she just. Wouldn't. Stop. 𝘛𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨, and the more she spoke the more I felt like the past few years of my life have been a lie, that I 𝘸𝘢𝘴 right at the start.
  
  Then, the explosion came. A perfect excuse for her to stop talking.
  
  But I guess she wasn't done filling me with doubts, as before she left for whatever was happening, she came close to whisper a parting message.
  
  "See, a hero doesn't wait for orders before moving to help people, do they?"
  
  I hate it all so much.
  
  I hate that I can't get her insidious thoughts out of my head.
  
  I hate that I feel like I'm being mastered even though I 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 that I'm not.
  
  God knows we have enough Master/Stranger photocalls in place that it would have been noticed.
  
  But more than any of that, I hated that she was 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵, that immediately after she left, we had to wait for console to give us permission to investigate.
  
  That by the time we actually got there, Tear had already taken down one of the villains and held herself against the others.
  
  But even with everything about her pissing me off, the only thing I'm not mad at her for is, ironically enough, when she downed me with a single punch.
  
  Because even then, I 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘥.
  
  We let them get away.
  
  No. 𝘐 let them get away.
  
  I just...
  
  I just don't know what to think anymore.
  
  Everyone here, from my shrink to my fellow Heroes, even the troopers if I ever talk with them, they all agree that life is sacred and should be spared.
  
  That villains should be punished according to the laws, that you can't make those decisions yourself.
  
  But is that really true?
  
  How many people would Matchstick have killed, how many buildings burned, if he had been spared?
  
  How many lives were inadvertently saved?
  
  The answer, is that we cannot know.
  
  Honestly, that just pisses me off even more.
  
  𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘬 𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘬
  
  Extinguishing my flames, I turn to face the door as it is opened and a head pokes in, Grace's.
  
  "Hey! Your patrol is in five minutes!" Is all she says before her head disappears as she goes back to doing whatever she does these days.
  
  She doesn't even close the door behind her, making me sigh to myself.
  
  "Ditsy girl will be ditsy I guess."
  
  Still, hopefully this patrol will be able to clear my doubts somewhat.
  
  A girl can dream.
  
  ...
  
  It's not often that Sean, or as he's better known, Equaliser, of Red Branch, thinks about 'home'.
  
  After all, Sean hates his family.
  
  You see, Sean's family is a part of the Fallen, meaning Sean was bred to be a Fallen parahuman.
  
  The Fallen themselves, are a decentralised group of cultists and fanatics that worship the city destroying monsters known as the Endbringers.
  
  The Yamori family was a minor family and was a mix between whites and Asians, but Sean was born white enough that he could join a gang like Red Branch without anyone suspecting his ancestry.
  
  Especially after taking up the name Sean.
  
  The Yamori branch is also just as specialised as all the other families, however unlike the others that focus on a specific Endbringers main powers like the McVeays who mostly had dynakinetic powers, emulating Behemoth.
  
  Or the Crowleys who generally had non-self targeted duplication powers, just as their 'god' Leviathan has his Water-Echo, or the worst of them all, the Mathers who worship Simurgh, the Hopekiller and generally have Master powers.
  
  The Yamori branch focuses on the actual 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 of the Endbringers, meaning most of their members have strength and regenerative powers, but not only that, they also tend to have anti-power Trump abilities, to represent how the Endbringers remain unaffected no matter what power is thrown their way.
  
  This means that it was pretty easy for Sean to join Red Branch, as he inherited a Trump power that lets him turn off the powers of anyone he touches.
  
  The best part is how the effect sustains itself after he lets go of them, even if it's not for long, it's enough to mean that a single touch means victory.
  
  However, one does not simply 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘦 the fallen.
  
  It's never that easy.
  
  But, Sean's uncle, the current head of the Yamori clan, Jason, made Sean a deal.
  
  He won't be hunted by the family, in exchange, he needs to help the family fill up the gap his absence made.
  
  In other words, he has to kidnap a cape to send back every now and then.
  
  He's just glad that they only accept people with Trump or regenerative based powers, so he rarely has to actually deliver on that promise.
  
  However, there is a new cape in town, a vigilante. One that has already caused Red Branch some problems, even killing one of our members.
  
  At first it was nothing of note, just an annoyance that will either join someone or be eliminated soon enough.
  
  However, that was until the video of her fight against Dynamite came out.
  
  When he say how well she regenerated, better than anyone in the Yamori clan, a sudden thought came to Sean's head.
  
  Who doesn't love hitting two birds with one stone?
  
  Unfortunately that meant he had to call his uncle, not to mention the planning that will be needed.
  
  But it's worth it, making for one less player against Red Branch and getting Jason off his back for a while.
  
  All it will cost is the life and future of one unfortunate girl, a price Sean is more than willing to pay.
  
  ...
  
  Meanwhile, that same girl is having problems of her own.
  
  "Goddamnit! How the fuck does this work!" I yell out my pent up frustration at the screen in front of me.
  
  Naturally, it doesn't respond, instead mercilessly continuing to show the slight of hand video I have been trying and failing to copy for the past TWO HOURS!
  
  But sacrifices must be made so that I can be a better clown, after all, a good clown knows at least a few magic tricks, and even if I've belatedly realised that I can't really use a deck of cards in a fight, slight of hand can still be a helpful thing to know.
  
  Sighing, I rewind the video.
  
  Haaah, it's going to be a long night.
  
  I hope something interesting happens soon.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Things are about to pick up soon :)
  
  Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  18 Coffee 2 Electric Boogaloo
  "-I 𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘳 you are cheating somehow, no way you get a royal flush right after a four of a kind. It's total bullshit. I know it. You know it. He knows it."
  
  I blatantly ignore James' complaining as I sweep up the poker chips on the table.
  
  I found these when I was shopping the other day, I don't know why but it surprised me, like I had this idea in my head that only casino's had poker chips.
  
  Either way, it's been a week since I met with Pop, who has kept in contact with me since, though we've been only been able to meet up once due to her busy schedule.
  
  But since it's a Sunday and both of the boys are off from work, I invited them to my place to try out my new chips, not to mention practicing my slight of hand.
  
  Obviously, I am cheating my ass off, however since my purpose is to practice my slight of hand rather than to cheat them out of their money, I have been cheating to purposely lose too.
  
  Leaning back into my new and super cushy egg chair, I idly roll a chip across my knuckles, even as I give James a disdainful look from across the table.
  
  "Hey now, don't be such a sore loser, you don't see Theo complaining do you?"
  
  My words make all three of us look at the table below, where I have the most chips, making a small pile, and James has only a handful of chips left, meanwhile Theo has several stacks of chips, almost as much as myself.
  
  It's like democracy. All I have to do is pay off enough people that things go my way, so I have been controlling the game such that only James is losing, while Theo is making about two thirds as much as me.
  
  Theo slowly turns to look from his pile of chips, to mine and then to James' before finally looking James in the eye.
  
  "Everything seems legit to me."
  
  And thus, my bribing was successful.
  
  James' shouts of corruption and colluding are ignored as Theo deals another hand, as I have been banned from dealing, and we continue until James runs out of chips.
  
  After we finished playing poker, the boys started playing street fighter on my new fancy TV while I just kept practicing my dexterity with my cards.
  
  I'm honestly getting really good at it, enough that I can almost do everything in this card juggling video I've been watching.
  
  I can't wait for when I can start doing card tricks in my cape persona, that's when the fun can truly begin, because honestly, going out and robbing the gangs isn't really even fun anymore.
  
  Not only have I only fought with one cape in this week, despite going out every night, he actually ran away, the coward, and since Hermes' power is that his velocity doesn't diminish without his say so.
  
  At least he can only go as fast as is humanly possible, but he is far better at cornering than me, so he got away.
  
  At this point, I'm mostly targeting Street Saints since they at least have a trump, Blacked, who can enhance their normals to have a minor striker power that enhances their punches.
  
  I don't let them punch me, but it get's boring if I know that even if they hit me that I won't even feel anything.
  
  Not that the enhanced gangbangers' punches really hurt all that much, but at least it gives me a reason to dodge.
  
  On top of that, it's been great using them as practice for my new and still improving fighting skills.
  
  Why, Luke almost complimented me the other day.
  
  At the very least, with how active I've been these days, I've certainly been eating well to say the least.
  
  However tonight I shall be hitting Red Branch again, since I hit a Famine storehouse the other day, but they have a disappointingly lacking amount of money to steal.
  
  I suppose the gang is only like, four members, making them not just the smallest gang in the city, but the smallest group with only half the members of the next smallest gang.
  
  Wait, actually I think there are only four wards here, less than half the number of Protectorate who stand at ten.
  
  So they are the joint smallest group, meaning they don't have a lot of business.
  
  Frankly the only reason they can hold territory is because two of their members synergise so damn well together, the other two are basically useless.
  
  I mean, they have the weakest brute in the city who is so unremarkable that PHO named him 'Baldy' after the only thing recognisable about him.
  
  But anyway, it is Red Branches turn to get robbed by me and I'm hoping for a parahuman to show themselves this time.
  
  It would be pretty boring otherwise.
  
  So here I am, hopping around Red Branch territory in the chilly night, thinking about christmas.
  
  After all, it's only about two weeks away and even if I don't really care about it, I still feal like I should do something nice for the boys, because I definitely still haven't paid them back yet, not to mention Mr Yoshimura.
  
  I guess I could get something for Pop too.
  
  Eh, we'll see.
  
  It took me a little bit longer than normal to reach my location, and that is thanks to having a friend in each of the CPD and PRT.
  
  Theo and James are not the best at keeping secrets, so it isn't particularly difficult to get insider knowledge on how the two three letter organisations are doing things.
  
  Though, James isn't exactly anyone important so it's not like he can really have access to information regarding the parahumans and what they're doing.
  
  Still, I make it without trouble and while I'm not expecting them to be ready for me, I am expecting a parahuman to show up.
  
  With that in mind, I take some time to scout around, using my senses to figure out if anybody is looking at me, or if my nose can pick out anything interesting.
  
  However, the result is not at all what I was expecting.
  
  I could only smell one person inside of the building, rather than the dozen or so I was anticipating.
  
  ... This is another trap isn't it?
  
  ... Ah well.
  
  The last first time I got in a cape fight was from Red Branch ambushing me and while I still don't know how they seem to always know when I'm going to target them, that doesn't change the fact that walking in that building will lead directly to a cape fight.
  
  Smiling lightly, I give myself a quick once over to make sure I am presentable for whoever is waiting for me.
  
  Mask? Check.
  
  Outfit? All good.
  
  Deck of cards? Wouldn't leave home without it.
  
  Bits and bobs that I might need, like spare change? Check.
  
  All right then, lets not keep them waiting any longer.
  
  Pushing my tails out my back, I attach them both to the roof of the building, above the front door.
  
  Then, with a simple step, I am free falling.
  
  The next moment, my tails flex and tighten, swinging my body feet first straight into and 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 the front door, sliding on it to the end of the room where I jump off, right before it hits the wall.
  
  Now standing in the middle of an open living room, I turn towards it's other occupant, tails ready and expecting an instant transition into combat.
  
  However I am once again left surprised at an unexpected sight.
  
  Rather than a hostile cape trying to kill me, what I see is a man, sitting on a chair and facing me with a bemused smile and exasperation in his eyes that are partially hidden by his plain white domino mask.
  
  I don't actually know who this guy is, but I assume he's a hidden ace of Red Branch or something similar.
  
  Rather than a cape outfit, he is dressed in an immaculate black suit that must be designer and instead of standing combat ready, prepared to fight, he is just sitting, with a cup of tea in one hand and a little plate in the other just below it.
  
  At least, I assume it's tea. It's brown and smells just as awful as every other drink that isn't coffee, but who knows really.
  
  Not really sure what to do in this situation, I just sort of stand there for a moment, staring at him as he stares back, before he puts down his tea and picks up the pot.
  
  "Tea?"
  
  He breaks the silence first, nodding his head towards the seat in front of him that has an empty cup in front of it and, still slightly off balance, I forget to add the 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳 to my response.
  
  "I prefer coffee."
  
  Without missing a beat, he put down the tea pot he was holding and picks up another next to it.
  
  "I have that too."
  
  He says as he pours a cup of coffee in what is presumably my cup.
  
  Shaking my confusion off, I decide to play along with this, since it seems fun.
  
  Not to mention, this reception is 𝘧𝘢𝘳 greater than Clay, who didn't even want to talk at all.
  
  At least this guy gets it. This is the proper level of dramatic.
  
  However, only after I take a seat and pick up my cup to give it an appreciative sniff, do I realise a problem.
  
  How am I supposed to drink with my mask still on.
  
  A glance at my drinking companion shows that he is aware of my plight and finds it funny.
  
  But the jokes on him because with smug satisfaction, I reach into one of my pockets and take out a metal straw, which I waste no time putting in my cup and under my mask to take a nice, long sip.
  
  This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I got the straw, I was more thinking I could try drinking from someone's neck with a straw like a baby vampire that hasn't grown their teeth yet.
  
  I thought the mental image was funny, sue me.
  
  Still, I slurp up a nice, big mouthful of coffee and swallow it.
  
  Bleh.
  
  What shit coffee.
  
  "Well, it is nice to meet the new terror of the streets in person, you are quite the difficult person to track down."
  
  In response to his words I tilt my head in genuine confusion, remembering to speak with the proper inflections this time.
  
  "Really? That's odd~ I'm not exactly being subtle.~"
  
  The mysterious man doesn't respond, instead he simple turns his head slightly, facing the splintered door lying at the end of the living room with a big pair of footprints on top.
  
  "Evidently." Comes his dry response.
  
  "So! Mr Mysterious~ To what do I owe the pleasure?~" I ask, even as I start playing with my tails, mostly just to keep them moving around so that he doesn't forget that they're there.
  
  I wrap one of my tails around my torso, both because it's comfortable and in case of surprise attack.
  
  "I actually have two reasons for being here, one is business, the other personal, where would you like me to start?"
  
  "Hmm~ let's get business out of the way first, that way we will have plenty of time to be 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭.~"
  
  He smiles at my emphasis but doesn't waste any time talking.
  
  "Well then, firstly I am here on behalf of Red Branch to offer you a position-"
  
  Here I cut him off by failing to withhold a snort of amusement. Like hell would I be willing to work for someone. I hate being told what to do.
  
  "-but I see that there is no point in pursuing that, instead the personal matter. You see, I have quite the fascination of powers, and I find changers such as yourself most interesting, so I was hoping you would be amenable to allowing me to examine your, ah, tails?"
  
  Ok, I may be dumb but I am not stupid.
  
  Then again, maybe this will lead to something interesting.
  
  Still...
  
  "What's your power?" I ask, just in case his power is something like, 'if I touch you then fuck you, you die'.
  
  "My power allows me to temporarily copy one other power, it's why I got the title of 'Equaliser', I like to feel how different powers feel different to use, it's very interesting to me."
  
  Hmm, he doesn't seem like he's lying, while I can't hear his heartbeat, I can sense his blood flow which is basically the same in affect and his blood flow isn't changing, so I think he's telling the truth.
  
  It would still be pretty dumb to let him copy my power, but I came here wanting a fight damnit, and fighting my own power would probably be pretty interesting if nothing else.
  
  Eh, fuck it, what's the worst that could happen.
  
  Without saying anything, I reach one of my tails over to him, and once it is in front of him, he gently runs his hands over the tail.
  
  I'm sure if this was a movie or something this would be where I shiver from pleasure or something retarded, but the sense of touch from my tails is incredibly dulled, so I barely feel it.
  
  However, right when I am expecting a pair of tails to erupt from the mystery man's back, something very different, happens.
  
  My tails both burst into blood mist and return to my body that suddenly feels weaker than I can ever remember as it feels like every cell in my body has suddenly decided to go to sleep.
  
  Shock turns to anger and I turn to Equaliser but I don't bother with anymore talking, instead lunging over the table, hands stretched for his throat.
  
  However, I never make it past the table, my body suddenly failing me I collapse onto it, spilling tea and coffee everywhere as my eyes grow heavy.
  
  The last thing I see is Equaliser's frowning face.
  
  Then.
  
  Darkness.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  The more chapters there are, the more opportunities for the Electric Boogaloo there are ψ(`∇´)ψ
  
  Longer chap than normal because FINALLY! Finally the story is actually going to kick off, because this has all been prologue so far lmao.
  
  Advanced chapters with the links below!
  
  /user?u=41732867 (get rid of the first slash)
  
  or
  
  /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord!
  
  /Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  19 Literally Just 2k Words of Torture
  A/N: WARNING! The title isn't an exaggeration, this entire chapter is literally all torture. This is where I earn that Tokyo Ghoul tag, so if you're squeamish, then maybe just skip the chap, personally, I think it's fine, but I'm the one writing it, so that probably just says more about me :p Enjoy!
  
  Waking up is not some jarring experience.
  
  There is no sudden jerk to consciousness, no jumping out of my skin.
  
  I simply go from nothing, slowly gaining lucidity, lying with my eyes closed, my mind reluctant to fully wake.
  
  Only, after a moment, I realise that I am not lying down.
  
  I am sitting.
  
  "Oh good, you're awake." The surprisingly cultured voice immediately grabs my attention.
  
  Suddenly fully conscious, memories flood my mind of my meeting with Equaliser.
  
  I'm not sure what happened exactly, but if I had to guess, he lied about his power.
  
  Obviously.
  
  He's probably a power nullifier, which would explain why the coffee was so shit, it was probably drugged.
  
  "This is my room, make yourself comfy." The voice continues, and it's only then that I actually open my eyes, which immediately widen.
  
  The room is 𝘮𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦, like a small stadium, or a large ballroom or something. The floors are chequered black and white and the walls of red metal beams form a dome.
  
  Am I in an observatory?
  
  The room looks even larger for the fact that nothing is inside of it except for the man in front of me who is built like a truck, with white hair, a black dress shirt with a lime vest over the top and white dress pants.
  
  "I'm glad you're here. I've wanted to invite you over for a while now. Since the moment I heard of you in fact."
  
  My body feels lethargic.
  
  I try to stand, only to realise that my hands and feet are chained to the legs and arms of the chair.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  My attention is once again brought to the man before me who now has one of his hands raised, showing off a pair of golden claw rings on his middle and pointer fingers, the latter of which is the cause of the sound as he used his thumb to crack it.
  
  Before I can speak, he keeps his monologue going.
  
  "So please," He says as he puts on a mask before finally turning to face me allowing me to see his 'face',
  
  He is wearing a white hockey mask, with a pair of holes above and below his eyes as well as six small holes over his mouth.
  
  But that's not what grabs my attention, no. All I can focus on are his 𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘴.
  
  They are wide and bloodshot and more than anything they just sparkle with malice, with cruelty and madness, with 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺.
  
  Even with how interesting my last couple months have been, this is the first time I have ever been confronted with such madness and I can't help the intake of breath.
  
  I feel my body start to shake just from looking him in the eyes.
  
  "Do your best not to disappoint me, alright?"
  
  His voice, once calm and cultured takes on a cadence that more matches his eyes, one of violence and pain.
  
  A shudder rakes my body and I hear my heartbeat in my ears.
  
  A whimper escapes my throat and shame burns alongside the fear that I am reduced to such a state just from his eyes alone.
  
  He turns away from me, moving back to his table, and it's only then that I notice his.. 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴.
  
  From scalpels to a particularly large dark golden plier that I really don't like the look of, especially since it is covered in dried blood.
  
  But that is not the object of the madman's attention, no, that honour goes to the syringes on the other table.
  
  "Power suppression fluid," He says while clearly suppressing his sick glee, "do you know what that does when it enters a parahumans' body?"
  
  I stay silent, not trusting my voice to speak clearly and not wanting to entertain his rhetorical question.
  
  "It suppresses all power activity. When that happens, brute flesh might as well be construction paper, just as far as my scalpel is concerned."
  
  It is clearly getting harder for him to hold back his insanity as his words start to have a slight chuckle to them, like he's struggling not to laugh.
  
  Then he picks up one of the syringes, pushing it slightly to allow a single drop of liquid to drip down.
  
  "Slices right through it, just like a normal human."
  
  He starts to approach, needle in hand and I can't help the way I push my self backwards against the chair, trying to get as far as I can, nor can I help the whimpers that escape me.
  
  "The only problem is, hypodermic needles can't break your skin."
  
  There is something is his voice that tells me he is actually happy about this 'problem'.
  
  "So I have to stick it in the one spot it will go through."
  
  He pauses to lift a finger to his masks eyehole even as a horrible feeling consumes my gut.
  
  Grabbing his lower eyelid, he pulls it down while looking up.
  
  "That would be the mucus membrane, right in here."
  
  My eyes widen as my fear doubles.
  
  Quickly, I open my mouth, not really knowing what I'm going to say, but hoping to prevent this.
  
  Alas, he doesn't care.
  
  𝘗𝘶𝘤𝘩𝘪.
  
  "AAAAAHHHHHHH!" I 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮 as I feel as the needle is ruthlessly plunged into my socket with no regard for proper medical practice whatsoever.
  
  I feel the fluid 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 of me as it leaves it's confines and immediately I start to feel weaker.
  
  My tails were already not responding to me, but now it feels even worse.
  
  I'm reminded of how I felt before I lost consciousness, of my blood falling asleep, at least, that's how I can best describe the feeling.
  
  I scream again when the needle is ripped out of my eye without care.
  
  It only takes a moment before I can see again.
  
  I wish it took longer.
  
  In front of me, the man stands, holding a scalpel this time.
  
  "W-wait, w-we can t-talk, r-right? T-there's no need for all of this, r-right?"
  
  He leans closer.
  
  "Oh but Tear, my dear. I 𝘥𝘰 need this."
  
  His hand raises.
  
  The scalpel is brought down, digging deep into my forearm.
  
  I grit my teeth as I scream, trying my best not to give him the satisfaction, but my groan of pain only seemed to motivate him further.
  
  The wound on my arm closes as he makes a new one on the other, only for that to close just as easily.
  
  I scream.
  
  He doesn't care.
  
  I scream.
  
  He doesn't stop.
  
  I scream.
  
  Slice after slice, flesh is carved from my body.
  
  My arms.
  
  I scream.
  
  My legs.
  
  I scream.
  
  My organs.
  
  I scream until my throat tears.
  
  But just like everything else.
  
  It heals.
  
  He cuts me.
  
  I scream.
  
  "You should know."
  
  I focus on his voice, the insanity a blessing from the pain.
  
  "The scalpel is my least favourite tool."
  
  A shudder racks my body as his tone tells me this respite will only be brief.
  
  "I actually prefer 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴."
  
  He hefts the large golden plier in front of me, brandishing it like a child during show and tell, waiting for praise.
  
  "Let me show you why."
  
  He raises his arm.
  
  "It can be used for blunt force, like breaking bones."
  
  Then, with incredible force, he brings it down.
  
  Right. Through. My Knee.
  
  Blood paints it's mosaic below us.
  
  I 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮.
  
  "Or," He brings the freshly bloodied plier to my hand and grabs a finger. 𝘖𝘩 𝘯𝘰. "It can be used to pinch and pull."
  
  He 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘴.
  
  With a sickening, squelching, 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘳, my finger is ripped off from the base, like particularly stringy cheese, I see my flesh stretch as it tries to resist the force.
  
  One final tug, and it comes off in another spray of blood.
  
  I scream.
  
  "Or, it can even be used to cut."
  
  He spreads the pliers wide, putting my wrist in the sharp part.
  
  Then, with a simple clamp of his hand, my own comes of.
  
  I scream.
  
  "Now. I need you to do something for me."
  
  I can't even see his face, everything is just too blurry-
  
  Am I crying? I am.
  
  I'm still whimpering.
  
  I try to focus, but it's hard to see past the pain.
  
  I hear his words anyway.
  
  "What is", he pauses and I can only tell that his face is in front of mine by the hot breath that lands on my face, "one thousand, minus seven?"
  
  The question throws me off, making me forget the pain for a moment as confusion takes hold.
  
  Unfortunately, that doesn't last.
  
  My leg heals.
  
  The plier is raised.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩.
  
  I scream.
  
  The plier is raised.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩.
  
  I scream.
  
  "One thousand."
  
  The pliers grip my finger.
  
  A sound uncomfortably similar to that of crunching on chips rings out.
  
  I scream.
  
  "Minus seven."
  
  The pliers grip another finger.
  
  My voice, full of panic shouts out.
  
  "One thousand minus seven is nine hundred and ninety three!"
  
  𝘚𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘭𝘤𝘩.
  
  I scream.
  
  "Minus seven!"
  
  Another finger.
  
  "Nine hundred and eighty six!"
  
  𝘚𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘭𝘤𝘩.
  
  I scream.
  
  Over and over again, he takes my fingers, my hands and I scream.
  
  He crushes my legs, my arms and I scream.
  
  He takes my toes, my feet and I scream.
  
  Over and over and overandoverandoverandover𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘰-
  
  "AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!"
  
  I scream.
  
  "How far have you counted? I've lost track again."
  
  "F-five hu-ndred... f-ifty... nine..." I choke out between sobs and whimpers.
  
  Through eyes blinded by tears, I see the man, Jason, I think he said, put down his pliers.
  
  "Take some time to recover, I'll be back in a little while."
  
  I don't even have the energy to rejoice his absence, phantom pain of a thousand cuts still burning through my body.
  
  I hear something behind me and I hate the way I shrink away from the sound.
  
  I've become so pathetic.
  
  A man steps into view, holding a mop of all things.
  
  I only then notice just how much blood covers the floor.
  
  I don't know how much blood a human body is supposed to hold, but I know that there is far, 𝘧𝘢𝘳 more of my blood on the floor than should fit inside a human or ten.
  
  I start crying all over again just from seeing another person who is not Jason.
  
  "H-hey." I call out, desperate for anything that isn't pain.
  
  He doesn't respond.
  
  "H-hey!" I repeat, louder.
  
  He ignores me.
  
  "H-hey, p-please help me. Please, I'll do anything you want, 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨." I say, and I'm pretty sure I mean it too.
  
  Right now, I would do anything to escape this hell.
  
  They don't say anything.
  
  "HEY!" I shout, anger overtaking me.
  
  "Fucking listen to me asshole! Help me! Please..."
  
  My voice that started so full of energy, quickly dissolved into a pleading whimper.
  
  He says nothing.
  
  He just kneels down and grabs my foot and starts cleaning it with a rag.
  
  It takes far longer than it should to clean the blood of my foot.
  
  It's only then I realise that my pants have been torn off and now more resemble shorts, while my jacket is gone, leaving me in a white shirt that has similarly been ripped to have short sleeves.
  
  My hands are now chained behind me.
  
  I give up on asking for help.
  
  I need to get out of here.
  
  But what can I do?
  
  I can't use my tails, and that fucking drug is still in my system.
  
  I can feel it weakening me, infesting my body like a virus.
  
  I breathe in deep through my nose, and for a moment, I luxuriate in the scent of 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘥.
  
  My eyes track the scent down to the cleaner.
  
  I need to eat.
  
  Food will wake up my body, I'm sure of it.
  
  Only, how am I supposed to do that?
  
  Before I can even answer my own question, I realise that the cleaner is done and gone.
  
  Then, despair enters the room once again.
  
  "How far did you manage to count?"
  
  My response comes without thought and Pavlov comes to mind.
  
  "F-five hun-dred... fifty.. two..."
  
  The monster walks in front of me, dragging an oil barrel behind him.
  
  He kneels down and lifts up one of my feet, putting a toe between the pliers.
  
  "I've got a bucket here. I want you to fill it to the brim!"
  
  He pulls.
  
  I scream.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Alt Title: Ice cream you scream.
  
  Teehee, sorry to everyone who doesn't like this chap, but this is a tokyo ghoul/worm crossover, two stories who are famously cruel to their protagonists :D
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  20 More Torture and Delusion
  A/N: heh ψ(ќ‿ќ)ψ
  
  At some point, he put a blindfold on me.
  
  The lacking sense just made everything else hurt more.
  
  Since the start, Jason told me to count backwards from one thousand, out loud, in increments of seven.
  
  I didn't understand why at first, then I realised he was trying to keep me as sane as possible.
  
  "O-one hu-dred... t-twenty.. five."
  
  So that I'd be aware of every single cut that followed.
  
  I was clinging to every number.
  
  "One h-hundred... ei-ghteen."
  
  Meanwhile, he took my arms, my legs.
  
  Again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯!
  
  Every time, my arms and legs grew back.
  
  Each time was a reminder.
  
  It's never going to end.
  
  Suddenly, all the sound disappears.
  
  I feel a hand rest on my cheek, warm and gentle, completely unlike what I've experienced for I don't even know how long.
  
  I raise my head, shocked and hopeful.
  
  "W-who..?"
  
  The hand moves to my blindfold.
  
  As the cloth falls to the floor, one singular thought comes to my mind.
  
  𝘞𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦.
  
  Everything is white.
  
  The floor extends as far as the eye can see in a sea of pure white flowers.
  
  Never have I wished so desperately to know more about flowers than at this moment, if only so I could properly articulate the beauty of the sight before me.
  
  The only place the flowers are absent is in a ring around myself, where the floor is simply covered in their petals.
  
  But what shocks me most, is who stands before me.
  
  "M-mom?"
  
  My voice, wavering and weak, calls out, too many emotions present to properly interpret.
  
  "B-but.. how?"
  
  She looks exactly the same as she always has.
  
  "It's been a while, Lusia."
  
  Even with my eyes locked onto my mothers, I still see the petals turning red under her feet.
  
  "Wow, you look awful. Been through the ringer huh?"
  
  My mothers tone, so unlike how I remember her catches me off guard enough that I struggle to respond.
  
  "What a laugh."
  
  W-what?
  
  𝘊𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘬.
  
  She lets out a small giggle even as I continue to stare incomprehensibly.
  
  "Sounds like the master is home."
  
  In a kaleidoscope of colours, the world of flowers collapses and I am once again in the accursed room.
  
  In front of me, I see Jason walking through the door.
  
  He's back.
  
  He's going to hurt me again.
  
  He walks closer.
  
  I don't even have the energy to flinch away anymore.
  
  Instead I just sit there, with my head bowed, crying.
  
  I hate it.
  
  I feel so pathetic, but the tears won't stop.
  
  It just hurts so much.
  
  Heh, Tear's face is full of tears.
  
  "So have you figured out the reason why you're here?"
  
  He speaks, and I can barely hear him over the sound of my heartbeat and my own sobs.
  
  "It's your regenerative abilities. That kind of power doesn't come standard in your run of the mill brute."
  
  The excitement in his voice is palpable. Clearly he is delighted by my ability to survive.
  
  He brings one of his hands up, grasping the forefinger with his thumb.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  The sound reverberates in the room that is empty of sound aside from my own shaking and whimpering.
  
  "All thanks to, what does he call himself now? Equaliser?"
  
  Equaliser.
  
  The name is something to focus on other than the numbers.
  
  He's the reason I'm here.
  
  I'll kill him.
  
  Beside me, Jason moves, holding up his hand as if he's presenting a gift.
  
  Between his pinched fingers dangles a bug, writhing and wriggling around, trying to escape his grasp.
  
  My eyes, already blown wide strain to widen even further as he brings it closer to my face.
  
  "Are you familiar with the Chinese red-headed centipede?"
  
  My teeth crack with how hard I'm clenching them, but they are fixed in the next moment.
  
  "Nasty little shit, this."
  
  I swallow, the salty taste of my own tears giving me the smallest measure of comfort.
  
  "I'm going to let it run around in your ear for a little while." He speaks with childish glee.
  
  No.
  
  N-no no no no nonononononono𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘰.
  
  P-please no.
  
  "You don't mind, do you?"
  
  "P-please. P-please no, please, st-stop, I'm begging you! Please! D-don't do it! No! No! Please! S-stop! Don't come near me! STO-"
  
  He doesn't listen.
  
  He never listens.
  
  He doesn't care.
  
  "AAAAAHHHHHHH!"
  
  I 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮.
  
  I feel it crawl through my ear, all the way inside of my skull, to my brain.
  
  I feel it's legs stab into my mind, a hundred hot needles burning, searing, 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯, never ending, constant, 𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭 pain.
  
  "AAHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHA!"
  
  I scream𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩.
  
  It's too much.
  
  I can't take it.
  
  I have to 𝘥𝘰 something.
  
  I have to 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘦.
  
  "𝘈𝘏𝘈𝘏𝘈𝘏𝘈𝘈𝘏𝘈𝘏𝘈𝘏𝘈𝘏𝘈!"
  
  I stomp my feet and jerk back and forth, as much as I can in my binds I just have to 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘦 to put the burning 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 into something!
  
  "𝘼𝘼𝘼𝙃𝘼𝘼𝙃𝘼𝙃𝘼𝙃𝘼𝘼𝙃𝘼𝙃𝘼𝘼𝘼𝙃𝘼𝙃𝘼𝘼𝙃𝘼𝘼!"
  
  Jason laughs with me.
  
  He says something.
  
  I don't hear it.
  
  I 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝙡𝙖𝙪𝙜𝙝.
  
  "YOU WANT TO DIE, DON'T YOU!"
  
  I do.
  
  "YOU WANT IT ALL TO 𝘌𝘕𝘋! HAHAHA!"
  
  I do.
  
  "𝘽𝙀𝙂 𝙈𝙀! 𝘽𝙀𝙂 𝙈𝙀 𝙏𝙊 𝙆𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝙔𝙊𝙐! 𝘽𝙀𝙂 𝙈𝙀 𝙏𝙊 𝘿𝙄𝙀!"
  
  I do.
  
  "P-p-puh-lease. Puh-lease kill me, please, l-let me d-die."
  
  The world fades away again.
  
  "This really is pathetic, don't you think, Lusia?"
  
  M-mom.
  
  S-save me.
  
  Please.
  
  I'm sorry, please save me.
  
  "What did you really think would happen?"
  
  I don't know.
  
  "You would just go out and fight villains, and nothing would come from it? No one would come for you?"
  
  I don't know.
  
  "Did you just think you could do what you want, recklessly, and no one would do anything about it?"
  
  I 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸.
  
  "You really thought you could just wing it, all alone? That you could ignore the world and just do your own thing, without consequence?"
  
  I'm sorry, mom.
  
  I didn't think.
  
  I didn't think anything like this would happen.
  
  Please.
  
  Save me.
  
  "From what?"
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘥. 𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘥.
  
  I'm back in the room.
  
  If it was possible, my eyes would have widened even further.
  
  W-why is this happening?
  
  𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦?
  
  "All the suffering in the world, stems from a lack of individual ability."
  
  Jason's voice is back to the calm and cultured tone it started at, but all I can focus on is what's in front of me.
  
  "The person who taught me that was a real cunt, but that doesn't make her words any less true. It's an important lesson to learn, you'll see."
  
  His large, strong hand grabs my head, forcing me to look ahead. Not that I could bring myself to look away.
  
  "You know, I've been thinking. I've been going about this the wrong way. Ripping off your digits has been fun and all, but what I really want to rip apart is your 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥."
  
  James and Theo continue to writhe in front of me, bound and gagged with wide eyes and a fearful stare that bores into my own.
  
  I don't know what they see, but they stop wriggling so much and just stare.
  
  "So I devised a little game that should do the trick."
  
  Jason's voice raises with his excitement.
  
  "OHHH YEAH! A COUPLE OF FRIENDS! LET'S PLAY!"
  
  Even with Jason bellowing behind me, all I can think is a single word.
  
  "H-how?"
  
  Why are they here?
  
  𝘏𝘰𝘸 are they here?
  
  "Haven't you noticed?"
  
  Noticed? Noticed what?
  
  It takes me a moment. Only after looking back at the boys, do I realise.
  
  They recognise me.
  
  My mask.
  
  I don't have my mask.
  
  "What? Did you think I would obey those silly rules? It wasn't hard to track down your friends once we took that little mask of yours off."
  
  I'm s-sorry.
  
  "Now, you're going to pick which one I kill!"
  
  Heh.
  
  He clearly doesn't know who he's dealing with.
  
  I almost cry, hearing James' muffled voice cry out 'cliché' as he rolls his eyes.
  
  "I-I'm sorry. I'm so, s-so, sorry."
  
  That's all I can do, apologise.
  
  I tune out Jason's boisterous voice.
  
  I just stare my friends in the eyes.
  
  Doing my best to apologise with my eyes.
  
  Jason moves forward and grabs Theo by the throat, lifting him.
  
  I stay silent.
  
  James' tears join my own in diluting my blood that covers the floor.
  
  I can't pick.
  
  I can only let them die.
  
  Theo spares me one last glance even as his face turns purple, and he winks.
  
  𝘚𝘯𝘢𝘱.
  
  He falls to the ground.
  
  A sob leaves my throat but I say nothing.
  
  Jason moves on to James and picks him by the back of his neck.
  
  It's for the best.
  
  My eyes lock onto James.
  
  He understands.
  
  It's better to die, than to join me.
  
  I'm sorry.
  
  Through tear soaked eyes.
  
  He smiles.
  
  𝘚𝘯𝘢𝘱.
  
  The world falls away once more.
  
  It all hurts.
  
  So, so much.
  
  It's just so pointless.
  
  "Your friends. Tell me about them."
  
  I turn to my mom for a moment before I return to staring at the ground.
  
  "They were kind."
  
  "Is that all? Look. That's them over there."
  
  I look up.
  
  I see James, Theo and I.
  
  We're sitting in their flat, it was soon after I moved in.
  
  "What's happening?"
  
  "I just moved in, they liked to play street fighter. It was fun listening to them argue, so I'd sit with them and play Solitaire."
  
  The image moves, James jumping into the air in victory before the room dissolves and a new one takes it's place.
  
  "And what's happening now?"
  
  We're in the flat again, only there is a lot less energy in the air as we watch the news.
  
  The reporter is talking about the death of the villain Clay.
  
  I remember the day vividly.
  
  "I had just killed Clay, they were talking about it on the news. Apparently James' girlfriend was killed in the collateral of one of Clay's fights. James was happy. I felt happy for him."
  
  She scoffs at me, drawing my eyes to her mocking look.
  
  "And look where that got you."
  
  The scene changes again.
  
  We're walking into a mostly empty room.
  
  "And this?" She asks.
  
  "The day I got my own flat. They came over and we played poker until late. It was fun."
  
  I focus on the image for a moment, just losing myself to the delusion.
  
  It shows the time I cheated to give both Theo and myself a royal flush, while James had nothing.
  
  That was when they stopped letting me deal.
  
  I find myself smiling, only for my dear mother to evaporate my good mood.
  
  "Not as fun as the activities that followed though, not to mention how pointless it all is."
  
  It takes me a moment to remember what she's talking about before I realise that I went out that same night and killed Matchstick.
  
  "Pointless?" I echo.
  
  "Well, where are they now? You spent all this time building up a bond only for it to be torn to pieces in a moments effort by a single madman. If that's not pointless, then what is?"
  
  "They were fun. I was happy."
  
  "Were you? Were you happier with pointless 'friendship' or when you were playing the 'game'?"
  
  My argument dies on my lips as soon as it is formed.
  
  I want to disagree, to say she's wrong.
  
  But the truth is that I have never felt more alive than when I am playing the game. I have never felt happier than in those moments.
  
  Then again, that's what got me into this mess in the first place.
  
  "But aren't games boring without the threat of loss?"
  
  It's true, I wouldn't find it so fun if there was no threat.
  
  "Besides, haven't you always said that you just want to have fun? I seem to remember you saying that a life you don't enjoy isn't a life worth living."
  
  I can't disagree with what she's saying. I have always only wanted to have fun, so I opt to remain silent.
  
  "So why are you not having fun right now? Why are you acting so pathetic?"
  
  A burst of anger spurs my sarcastic response.
  
  "Oh I don't know, maybe the constant torture has something to do with it?"
  
  A scoff is all I get in return.
  
  "Love and hate, pain and pleasure. They're all just two sides of the same coin. 𝘗𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 and 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨. Love can easily be twisted into hate just the same as hate can easily become love. Why can't the same apply to other things? All you have to do, is see the humour in the situation."
  
  That's stupid, but to escape the pain, I am willing to try stupid.
  
  "Think about it. Why are you here? Because some unknown cape asked you to let them use their powers on you, and you agreed. Isn't that funny?"
  
  It is, if only a little.
  
  "And all the suffering you have been through, all that torture. All because you thought 'what could go wrong'."
  
  Heh.
  
  "Don't you see? Everything is just one big joke. Nothing in this world matters, so stop wasting time moping around, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧."
  
  Ha.
  
  Haha.
  
  Hahahaha.
  
  Thank you.
  
  My eyes drift close a smile takes over my lips.
  
  I get it now.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Woooo torture is over! I feel like I kinda rushed the end of the chap a bit, mostly cuz I couldn't think of the right words to say, but eh, it's good enough.
  
  Also, this will be the only time that I directly copy anything from anything (wait.. I mean scenes, not like, the world and characters cuz.. y'know.. fanfiction)
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  21 Freedom!
  Opening the door to my theatre, I have to fight down the feeling of 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 that wells up.
  
  No matter how much fun it is, now is not the time, not with the Heroes closing in.
  
  It's unfortunate really, I was having so much fun with little Tear too.
  
  Well, once we get set up somewhere else the fun can continue.
  
  For now, all I really need to do is break her enough that she won't be a hassle to move.
  
  But that's fine too, since I don't need to hold back.
  
  She'll heal, after all.
  
  As I get closer, I take a moment to observe how much she's changed in these ten days.
  
  For one, we had to change her clothes after I got a little too.. 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺, so now she's just wearing a simple, ripped and worn black T-shirt and white shorts.
  
  But more than that, there are two other noticeable changes.
  
  For one, at some point, her toes and fingers started growing back with black nails. I don't really understand why, but the nails seem to be sharper and sturdier, so I assume it's some kind of minor adaptation.
  
  The other major change is her 𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳. It's now white, like mine.
  
  Oh how happy it makes me. To see such visual evidence of my art.
  
  Truly you are a gem Tear. A diamond in the rough.
  
  All I have to do is break you first, then I will make you shine.
  
  With your power and mine combined... 𝘰𝘩𝘩𝘩 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦~.
  
  Ahhh~ stop getting distracted.
  
  Business first, pleasure can come later.
  
  "Listen up, Tear. The Heroes are coming soon, so I'm afraid our time here has come to an end. It's time to go 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦."
  
  She doesn't respond, but that's expected really.
  
  She hasn't been very responsive these days, simply sitting there with her head bowed.
  
  It's not as fun, but at least it shows that she is nearly broken enough to be introduced to the rest of the family.
  
  Finally standing in front of her, I use my power, ballooning my arm to three times it's normal size, and raise it high.
  
  "I'm going to break every bone in one move to make this quick!"
  
  However, right as I prepare to crush her into a pancake, something unexpected happens.
  
  She 𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘴.
  
  Not the pained, insane laugh from when the centipede was first put in her head, but a genuine, mirthful, 𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩.
  
  It was so unexpected that I ended up freezing, only broken from my reverie when she looks up at me.
  
  Only, her look simply makes me more confused.
  
  Because she is 𝘴𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  A happy, genuine and 𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵 smile. Like some gap-toothed child who just got offered a whole candy store.
  
  It's so disconnected to the situation that words fail me.
  
  Tear does not have the same problem as she opens her mouth.
  
  "What a laugh."
  
  Her tone. It takes me a moment to understand it, it's so foreign to me.
  
  Condescending.
  
  Insulting.
  
  𝘔𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨!
  
  No one has dared mock me in years!
  
  My thumb draws to my forefinger.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  It infuriates me! So much that I feel anger burning through my veins like a hot fire.
  
  "What a pathetic man you are.~"
  
  𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘦!
  
  With rage fuelling me, I bring my enlarged hand down on her, intending to crush her into a paste.
  
  𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘮!
  
  A cloud of dust explodes up from the impact.
  
  However, right as I'm thinking that it didn't feel right, Tear comes flying out of the dust cloud in a blur.
  
  She flips over my body, catching the chains around her arms over my throat as she stands on my back.
  
  I feel her mouth brush up against my ear as she whispers her words.
  
  "Thank you."
  
  Before I can process that, I fall forward from the force of her pushing off of my back, breaking her chains against my throat to no effect.
  
  I take a second to understand everything that just happened and when I do I turn to face where Tear now stands, wiping some blood from her mouth.
  
  That brings my attention to the familiar feeling of my regeneration kicking in and I bring a hand to my ear, only to feel blood and bubbling flesh.
  
  "You bit me!" I can't help but call out in shock.
  
  "Yeah", she smiles, "and you taste vile~ like daddy issues and disappointment.~"
  
  My thumb reaches out again, for my middle finger this time.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  She finishes speaking and I feel my rage becoming apocalyptic in its intensity.
  
  Both of my arms swell out, becoming larger and stronger as I charge down the bitch that dared to 𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘦 me.
  
  With a scream of rage, I send my fist crashing down on her, but she jumps over it, going for an axe kick, like a fool.
  
  Both of my arms shrink down to normal before she reaches me and when she does, I grab her leg and lock it down.
  
  "You're mine!" I yell.
  
  But before I can even do anything, she 𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘴 her whole body, breaking and bending the leg in my hands like a Twizzler as she uses it to gain momentum in her spin to deliver a devastating kick with her other foot straight to my head.
  
  𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘮.
  
  Another cloud of dust is kicked up where I impact the wall.
  
  With rage burning in my ears and starting to drown out my thoughts, I watch as her leg snaps around until it is back in place, as if nothing ever happened.
  
  "What? Did you think that after everything you put me through, something like 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 hurts?~"
  
  Her words push me over the edge as logical thought leaves me.
  
  "I'll kill you! I'll kill you! 𝙄'𝙇𝙇 𝙆𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝙔𝙊𝙐!"
  
  ...
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  I shudder at the feeling of pain and pleasure that comes from breaking my own finger like that.
  
  It's funny.
  
  I spent so long in that chair, feeling like I was going insane.
  
  Yet now, here I am, standing perfectly calm while Jason screams bloody murder at me.
  
  Out of the dust cloud he comes, both of his arms enlarged to gross proportions.
  
  I also notice the fact that his ear seems to have already grown back.
  
  That makes me smile.
  
  After all, I haven't eaten anything since I got here.
  
  I am very, 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 hungry.
  
  With his enlarged arms on the ground like a gorilla, he uses them to propel his body at me.
  
  Once he gets close enough, one of his arms slams down in a move that even I can tell is telegraphed.
  
  I simply leap backwards, just out of reach.
  
  His strike makes the ground shake as the entire room rumbles from the force of his blow.
  
  I idly think to myself how he certainly seems stronger. But he's not the only one.
  
  I'm only noticing it now, as I am dodging his obvious blows.
  
  But ignoring the weakness from my hunger, my body feels stronger than ever.
  
  I jump over another blow and land a clean kick on his face that doesn't really seem to effect him.
  
  I suppose it's like that saying, 'broken bones heal stronger'.
  
  Well, my bones have been broken plenty of times now.
  
  Jason goes for an overhead strike and I slide underneath it, bringing my fist forward, I throw the best punch of my life right into his stomach.
  
  He barely flinches.
  
  With me being so close, I can't avoid when he grabs me, wrapping my body fully in his massive hands.
  
  I feel my bones being crushed before I feel like I'm flying as he throws me across the room.
  
  𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘮!
  
  I impact the wall and immediately crater it, causing yet another cloud of dust to well up.
  
  My body heals the next moment and I walk out of the dust, smiling at Jason's face, frothing with anger as it is.
  
  It makes me smile.
  
  More than that, I can feel my body waking up, the flesh of Jason's that I ate proving to be enough stimulation to wake it up from whatever drug he injected me with.
  
  "Well now.~" I say, bringing my thumb to my middle finger.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  My lower back bubbles, and with a feeling akin to stretching an atrophied muscle, my tails finally free themselves once again.
  
  "I believe it's my turn?~"
  
  From swaying behind me, thicker and more solid than I remember them but just as long and flexible, my tails, pulsing with red blood and shades of purple, snap forward, pointing to Jason like a pair of flesh spears.
  
  No more words are spoken.
  
  No more words need to be spoken.
  
  We both charge at each other, two forces refusing to yield.
  
  Deciding to use my range to my advantage, I leap into the air before we meet and send a tail whipping out at his face.
  
  He blocks the first with his left and the second with his right, however right as I reach the peak of my leap and start falling, 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘳𝘥 tail bursts out of my back and impales the ground, keeping me aloft.
  
  Rather than wasting time thinking about the fact that I can apparently grow more tails, I instead make use of the opportunity to keep harassing Jason, bringing my other two tails back around for another strike.
  
  This repeated for another few blows before I bring both of my tails up high at the same time, bringing them both down at once in a crushing force.
  
  𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘮.
  
  I drop down, putting my feet back on the ground as I observe the new dust cloud.
  
  The next moment I have to jump backwards, bringing my tails up in front of me as a shield as Jason bursts forth, swinging a wild punch.
  
  The force of the punch joins that of my jump as I get sent a good distance backwards, but Jason is already on me again before I can do anything, leaving me only the option of blocking again.
  
  I have to fold my tails over themselves so that they can properly function as a shield against him, but even then his hits send me sliding back once more.
  
  My tails take a few more punches before I find an opportunity to counter.
  
  Jason sends another telegraphed punch for my head, except this time, I drop my shield and duck low, sliding underneath his extended arm before I brace my body on the ground and launch my tails up and into his arm as a singular spear.
  
  They pierce clean through, splitting his arm in half and making him call out in pain and rage.
  
  I dodge his other arm as it tries to retaliate by jumping over it, joining my tails in the air, where I do a front flip to build up my momentum and send all three tails crashing down onto Jason in what can only be the single hardest strike I have ever dealt.
  
  Jason 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 into the ground and as I touch down, I see him lying there, twitching as his arm bubbles and regenerates.
  
  Heh.
  
  My smile truly starts to strain my face as I walk closer to him, one of my tails idly lashing out to pierce through his still whole arm, pinning it to the ground.
  
  His scream of pain makes me laugh.
  
  "Hahahahahaha! What's wrong, Ja~son? Does it hurt~?"
  
  My other two tails dig in through his legs, letting them join his arm.
  
  "AAAHHHH!" His screams make me so 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 that I just take a moment to revel in them.
  
  "𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘯𝘯𝘯~ Jason.~~"
  
  Once again I bring my thumb to my forefinger, needing a release for all this 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  Climbing on top of Jason, I straddle him, splaying both of my hands on his bare back.
  
  Then I start to squeeze, then, 𝘐 pull.
  
  "AAAHHHHHH" He screams as his flesh is ripped from his body and deposited straight into my waiting mouth.
  
  𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘨𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  I reach for another bite.
  
  "Tell me Jason."
  
  I grab his flesh.
  
  "What is.. one thousand.. minus seven?"
  
  I 𝘗𝘶𝘭𝘭.
  
  And this time.
  
  This time, Jason 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘴.
  
  𝘈𝘢𝘩𝘩𝘩𝘯𝘯𝘯𝘯.~~
  
  Yesss.~
  
  Leaning close, so close that my lips brush sensually against his fully regrown ear, I give it a 'light' nibble, whispering in a low, sultry voice as my excitement gets the better of me.
  
  "Scream for me Jason~"
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Man, I am so tired right now.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  22 I the Author, did not see this coming
  After devouring Jason, I had thought that I would be satisfied, and don't get me wrong, it was certainly satisfying.
  
  But id didn't leave me feeling full like I had expected it to.
  
  He was a regenerator after all. I probably ate around three Jason's worth of Jason, and he's already a pretty bit guy.
  
  But even then, it simply isn't enough.
  
  However, I thought I found a solution to that particular problem once I looked around the cracked and broken room.
  
  The barrel.
  
  The barrel that I know for a fact is filled with flesh, since it's my flesh that filled it.
  
  Naturally, since I have no problems cannibalising other people, eating my own flesh wasn't a problem for me.
  
  But even after all of that, I was 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘨𝘳𝘺.
  
  I suppose that all that getting ripped apart and having to repeatedly regenerate really drained me.
  
  I had already noted that my regeneration makes me more hungry, and I had been doing a lot of regeneration, so it does make sense that I desperately need to refill my 'batteries'.
  
  Luckily for me, the Yamori clan was considerate enough to mostly consist of brutes with at least a minor regeneration factor, which meant that as I worked my way through the facility I found myself in, I was able to gorge myself on many people who were capable of providing more flesh than their own bodyweight.
  
  They were all weak compared to Jason too, the only one who didn't go down immediately was some woman who my tails refused to pierce, though my bare hands worked just fine.
  
  If I had to guess, she would probably be some kind of power resistant brute, since it was only my powers direct manifestation she was resistant to.
  
  Funnily enough, it was only as I was ripping her in half that I realised how my nails have turned black for some reason.
  
  When I actually focused on them, I found that somehow whatever material it is that makes up my tails, some weird blood-adjacent if I had to guess, has seeped further into my body, remaking my nails out of the same material.
  
  But it's not really that much to focus on, so I just ignored it after the fact.
  
  However it did bring me to inspect the rest of my body which brought my attention to the other physical change I have gone through.
  
  My hair.
  
  I was never particularly vain about my hair, but right now, with my hair looking a sickly pale white, I can't help but hate it.
  
  Combined with the unhealthy pallor of my skin, I look like I'm about to keel over from cancer at any moment and I really hate it.
  
  I'm going to have to get some hair dye.
  
  Not to mention some new clothes. I also still have the cuff parts of a pair of handcuffs on each of my legs and arms, but I will take them off once I'm home free, just in case I meet some heroes, with this I can at least have some proof that I was a prisoner and not a cultist.
  
  But first I have to actually leave this place and figure out where exactly I am.
  
  ... Now that I think about it I should have probably asked one of the people I ripped apart.
  
  Well, I was hungry and they could regenerate, I can hardly be blamed for indulging myself, I had a lot to catch up with after all.
  
  At least I'm somewhat satiated now.
  
  Still, I've walked through a bunch of corridors and up at least three flights of stairs. Surely I should be nearing the exit by now.
  
  As I am walking down the now considerably more silent corridor, my nose catches the now familiar whiff of a parahuman and I take another detour through a door on my left.
  
  When I walk inside I am greeted by what could only be called a thirteen workshops mixed together with at least one junkyard.
  
  In other words, it's a complete mess with such a variety of things present that I don't think it would really be possible to figure out the specialty of whoever works here just by looking.
  
  That is, if I didn't recognise the syringes decorating a far countertop.
  
  Panning my eyes around the well lit room, I pause when a 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥 comes into view.
  
  Huh.
  
  Wasn't expecting that.
  
  He is shaking slightly, but his face is perfectly neutral.
  
  I'd imagine that just like everyone else I've 'met' here, Jason has 'educated' this kid too.
  
  He's probably only 8 or 9 if I had to guess, with brown hair and eyes on pale skin, though not nearly as unhealthy looking as my own. Just pale.
  
  If not for having my fill with the others below, I probably wouldn't have bothered to observe the kid before devouring him, but I am glad that I did because I get the feeling that I know what this kid's power is.
  
  Better to make sure though.
  
  "Yo~ my name's Tear," I got my mask back after leaving the room, which was a pleasant surprise, "what's your name?~"
  
  My singsong voice seems to relax him somewhat, which is odd, since that's the exact opposite reason I do it in the first place.
  
  "M-my n-name is," here he pauses and closes his eyes, taking a deep breath to calm himself, "my name is James."
  
  The word hits me almost like a physical blow and I can't help the startled laugh that escapes my throat.
  
  What a laugh.
  
  James.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘩~
  
  I bring my thumb away from my broken finger which fixes itself in the same instant as I focus back on the child, James, who seems to just be confused about why I laughed.
  
  "Tell me James, are you the one that made those syringes over there?"
  
  What a joke, that the first person I actually talk to after everything shares his name.
  
  If the next person to introduce themselves to me calls himself Theo then I might just kill them, or buy them flowers or something.
  
  I don't know, it would just be really funny, so I'd have to do 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 to show my appreciation.
  
  Little James' voice brings me back to the room from my musings.
  
  "U-uhm, n-no. I don't know where the syringes come from, but I did make the stuff inside?"
  
  Heh, kid's got attitude.
  
  I want to get a new mask at some point, one that shows my mouth.
  
  I feel like if I am going to be smiling so damn much, people should at least be able to see it.
  
  Eh, thoughts for later.
  
  For now, I have to decide what to do with the brat.
  
  Hmmmm. I know.
  
  "Well James~, it appears that I have brutally murdered your entire 'family'~, and I will also continue to do so if there are any that I've missed until the Yamori name is nothing but a memory.~ How do you feel about that, I wonder?~"
  
  To my unexpected delight, little James doesn't respond with anger or by cowering in fear, instead he is the most expressive I've seen him in all the five minutes that I've known him.
  
  Jumping up and pumping both of his fists, little James shouts at the top of his tiny little lungs.
  
  "YES!"
  
  I can't help it. The image is just too much.
  
  I burst out laughing, clutching my sides as I collapse to the floor.
  
  A mix between the unexpectedness of the reaction, and simply being deprived of joy for the past while leaves me in shambles as I struggle to breathe on the floor.
  
  "You're weird, clown lady." Little James accuses, his face all scrunched up in a way that just makes me laugh harder.
  
  "hahahahahahahaaaaah!"
  
  Eventually, I come down from my high and jump to my feet.
  
  "Well! Would you like to come with me, James?" I offer.
  
  You see, I've been thinking.
  
  My dream mom was right, I have been acting way too blasé about this whole cape thing.
  
  There are two key areas that I have completely ignored.
  
  Information and connections.
  
  I need information and I need allies to get me out of trouble when I inevitably overestimate myself again or do something stupid.
  
  With all of that in mind, having a tinker in my pocket would be pretty handy. Especially a trump tinker.
  
  "What would that en- uh, enta- um, en-tal-" While he starts off confident, he starts struggling with one of his words, struggling to pronounce it.
  
  "Entail?" I offer, making him smack one of his fists into a palm as he nods.
  
  "Yeah! Entail. Uhm, what would that entail?" He asks.
  
  Little James is surprisingly reasonable, then again in an environment like this, I don't think he ever really had the choice to be just another dumb kid.
  
  Deciding to treat him as maturely as he's acting, I respond honestly.
  
  "Eh, not much really~ I just wanna have fun, nothing more nothing less. Don't you wanna have fun too?~ Cuz I won't make you do anything if that's what you're worried about, I just want you to use your power to help me have fun, and in return I will use my power to help you have fun. Fair right?~"
  
  He acts like he's pondering it for a moment, holding his chin in the palm of his hand.
  
  I can't help but think that he's just copying something he saw in a movie once.
  
  "I find the deal acceptable!" He declares as if he was ever going to say no.
  
  I mean really, I'm like the cool aunt offering candy.
  
  Now that I think about it, aren't I technically abducting a child?
  
  Does it still count as abducting a child if they were in an abusive home? Or is it ok then?
  
  Eh, whatever, pocket tinker get.
  
  "Neat! Well in that case, let's gather up all your shit, as well as whatever you need that we can carry, then let's dip, cuz I'm pretty sure some real stick in the mud types are on their way."
  
  What level of fucked up is this?
  
  Is it grooming or did I just adopt a kid?
  
  Eh, still doesn't really matter in the end.
  
  It takes a little while, but we gather all of his finished projects in a backpack that he wears while I put on another backpack that has the equipment he wants to keep.
  
  Ten minutes later and we are finally outside the complex.
  
  Turns out it was just some bunker-esk basement underneath a barn.
  
  Probably originally built as a nuclear survival thing during the cold war, only to be repurposed as a hideout of sorts.
  
  Once we got into the barn proper, we found a few pick up trucks, all of which had the keys already in their engines.
  
  After immediately crashing the first truck, having forgotten how to drive, since I still haven't had any lessons, we were eventually driving away through side roads in one of the other trucks, heading towards the lights of a city that I assume is Columbus.
  
  "You really are a terrible driver." Little James comments after I accidentally hit the side of the road again.
  
  "Yeah, well you're a small little baby boy and can't even reach the pedals, otherwise I'd be happy to let you drive."
  
  Completely ignoring the insult, little James' eyes practically sparkle as he looks at me.
  
  "You'd really let me drive!?" He exclaims.
  
  Giving him I dry look, I go to respond, only to be cut of by bumping against the side of the road again.
  
  Right, keep your eyes on the road when you're driving.
  
  Keeping my face forward this time, I respond honestly.
  
  "What do you expect? It's stupid to let a kid drive, but I'm 𝘧𝘶𝘯, not responsible."
  
  He seems pretty pleased with that, enough that he doesn't even insult my driving the whole rest of the drive.
  
  When we're nearing the city proper, I see some distant police lights heading the direction we came from, and it makes me laugh again as everything really settles in.
  
  Honestly, the most unexpected part was how I somehow ended up adopting a kid, but hey, I 𝘸𝘢𝘴 getting bored.
  
  Maybe this will be fun.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Did not expect to pick up a kid, but hey, with James gone, little James can take his place for fluff.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  23 A good influence
  After making it back to the city, the first thing I did was check my flat, only to find that it is already up for rent again, which made me really wonder how long I'd been gone.
  
  Luckily for me, I had the foresight to keep my bug out bag outside of the house, hidden under a disused air conditioner on top of a building.
  
  Which is nice, because at least I have most of my money and some necessities.
  
  It is a shame to put an end to 'Alice', but I didn't really think she'd survive forever so it's not too big of a deal.
  
  After that it was just a case of finding another empty house and breaking in, whilst also making sure to ditch the truck some distance away.
  
  Then after that it was just a matter of carrying all of little James' stuff, as well as James himself, since he'd fallen asleep, to the new house and getting settled.
  
  This leads to the next day, where I have a whole list of things I need to do.
  
  First things first is finding some hair dye. I've decided to go with brown hair and not bother with contacts this time.
  
  Then I need to do some clothes shopping, for both James and I.
  
  Oh, and food too, James needs normal human food.
  
  Then I need to get my hands on some information.
  
  After that, I am going to experiment with my powers, because the thing is, powers don't really 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦, everyone knows this.
  
  You can't train powers, you get what you get and all you can do to improve is gain experience and find more creative ways to use your powers.
  
  Like Pop Stop, her power is never going to change in radius or frequency, because powers don't change.
  
  This made me assume that my two tails was the limit of my power, that it wouldn't change from that, so I never really bothered.
  
  But clearly, my power is more than that, so I've got to do some tests with that.
  
  Then, and only then, comes the most important item on my list.
  
  Finding Equaliser and ripping his spine out.
  
  Well, I don't really care how he dies, just so long as he does.
  
  However I won't simply rush into Red Branch territory looking for him like I no doubt would have two weeks ago.
  
  It's wild to me that I was apparently in that room for ten whole days.
  
  Who knew that all it takes is ten days of constant torture to find the true meaning of life.
  
  Because as much as I hate Jason, I am still thankful to him for helping me understand.
  
  Also, it's christmas tomorrow, so I want to get through my whole list today so that I can give Equaliser a proper christmas present.
  
  I finish getting dressed shortly after going through my list one more time and head down the stairs only to be greeted by piles of junk that has somehow materialised surrounding little James in the kitchen.
  
  "... James.. what the fuck?"
  
  At the sound of my voice, he turns to face me and shrugs, completely unrepentant.
  
  "I was hungry but there wasn't any food, then I got bored and you said boredom sucks so I started doin' stuff."
  
  "..Fair enough, I can't really argue against that. Well, I was about to go do some shopping, wanna come with?"
  
  I don't bother asking what he was doing, because it's clearly some tinker stuff and not only do I already know his specialty, but I also kind of just don't really care what he does with his free time.
  
  It's not like I'm actually his mother after all. I'm not even twenty yet, I'd have had to have been eleven or twelve to have birthed him.
  
  Still, it is really weird to me that I am asking a child if they want to hang out. The joys of not having any friends I guess.
  
  Ah well, he is a pretty cool kid.
  
  His eyes sparkle as he looks back at me with a smile.
  
  "Really! I've never actually been outside before!" He cheers.
  
  Huh, awesome.
  
  That means that his face won't be ticking any cameras for missing child posters or something.
  
  That settled, I bundle all my gross hair into a beanie while little James get's ready, and then we are out, stalking the streets with a bag full of cash and a mind full of shopping.
  
  At least for me that's the case, because after we left the house, only after making sure no one was on the street, something that wasn't too difficult considering how out of the way the street is, James' head was like it was on a swivel as he keeps looking around everywhere.
  
  As we walk to the nearest mall, I find myself eyeing the floor and it's light dusting of snow.
  
  Honestly, I wasn't expecting snow here, not even such a small amount as this, but I guess it's a christmas miracle or something.
  
  But the reason it actually draws my attention is the fact that I don't actually feel the cold.
  
  Well, that's not entirely accurate. I can feel that it 𝘪𝘴 cold, I just don't 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 cold, even though I'm only wearing thin jeans and a normal white shirt. All I have to 'protect' me from the cold is the beanie I'm using to hide my hair and the scarf I'm using to hide some of my face.
  
  Eventually, James actually notices the snow, having been too distracted by looking at everything else to really notice it beforehand.
  
  He tugs on my sleeve to get my attention, and speaks once I look at him with a raised brow.
  
  "What's that?" He asks me, pointing down.
  
  "It's snow. It's something that happens when it's cold enough. Do you know how it rains sometimes?", He nods, "well, it's like that, but when it's cold enough then the rain turns into snow, which is basically frozen water, like a mix between ice and sand. You can even clump it together into what we call a snowball."
  
  Turning back to the snow on the ground, he looks at it with a curiosity that only a child could have, reaching a bare hand out to grab a handful.
  
  Mentally, I add warm gloves to the shopping list.
  
  "What's the point in making a snowball?" He asks me after he crushes the snow into a ball.
  
  Getting a devious idea, I hide my smile as I pause in my steps and turn to him.
  
  "I'll show you." I say, holding my hand out expectantly.
  
  He obliges me and gives me the golf ball sized sphere of snow.
  
  "Ok, now don't move." I say as I move behind him.
  
  Then I simply raise my arm, aiming for the back of his neck so that it goes down his back as well.
  
  Honestly, I thought about not doing this, about throwing it at someone else and picking him up and booking it, but then I realised that he wouldn't understand why it's funny if he's never experienced it himself.
  
  So I let the ball lose.
  
  𝘗𝘴𝘩.
  
  𝘚𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘬!
  
  When the snowball hits him, he jumps into the air like a startled cat and lets out a scream that also sounds like a startled cat.
  
  By the time he turns around to glare at me, I am already bent over and laughing, my hands on my knees.
  
  "Haha- you- yo- hah- you scream like a girl! Hahahahaha!"
  
  I notice James running at me, but I pretend not to as I let him tackle me to the ground, my back making a small puff of snow raise around us.
  
  With me under him, James starts shovelling the snow around my face and neck to under my scarf, making me squeal as I pretend that it's cold, laughing as he does so.
  
  I let it go on for a moment longer before I sit up, the action knocking him to his butt in front of me.
  
  Looking at each other with matching smiles on our faces, I speak to the panting child.
  
  "𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵, is why you make snowballs."
  
  "Humph, you could have just said so." He pouts, but his smile betrays him, so I just shrug in response and get to my feet before offering him a hand up.
  
  "Now c'mon, we can throw some snowballs at strangers later if you want, but not until we get us some gloves, 'kay?"
  
  With an innocent smile on his face, he takes the offered hand and we are once more making progress to our shopping trip.
  
  It doesn't actually take long before the streets are getting pretty crowded, buzzing with activity as people prepare for the festivities to come tomorrow.
  
  Eventually we do make it to a mall, and the first thing we bought was some clothes.
  
  For myself I only actually only got another cardigan like the one I used to have, but other than that I am not desperate for clothes so I can get more later.
  
  For James we just got him a simple warm blue jacket and gloves as well as a scarf on his insistence.
  
  Now however, it is time to feed the beast.
  
  We take a bit to find a place to eat, not due to a lack of options but because I wanted to find a place that at least had some good coffee.
  
  I just pretended I couldn't hear James as he complained about walking past so many food stalls.
  
  At one point, a mother and her kids passed us by and took one look at James yapping at me and me completely ignoring him and then gave me a sympathetic smile before moving on.
  
  I suppose from her point of view James is likely to be the one being unreasonable.
  
  Heh, bold of her to assume that I can't be more unreasonable than a child.
  
  Still, I eventually found a place that smelled palatable enough and we made our way over.
  
  "Fiiinally! I thought I was going to starve!" James exaggeratedly complains as he collapses into one of the chairs outside the café.
  
  "Yeah yeah brat", I wave him off, "what do you want to eat?"
  
  "Pizza!" He yells, making my eyebrow twitch.
  
  "They don't do pizza here."
  
  "Humph, fine then, a burger." He huffs out, crossing his arms and looking to the side.
  
  "They don't do burgers either dipshit, read the damn menu then pick something."
  
  Like a lightbulb going off, I see realisation spark in his eyes as he lunges for a menu to start perusing.
  
  Meanwhile, I focus on the gasp I heard from behind me as what is presumably another mother is sitting with a family of five and looking at me with the most scandalised expression I have ever seen.
  
  With her is who I presume is her husband and three kids. Obviously I don't know their exact ages, but if I had to put it in words, they were kid-sized, teen-sized and gross-puberty-moustache-sized, only the middle one is a girl.
  
  While the youngest is focused on some colouring book, the others are all staring at me, the teen in mirth, the older guy who should shave also in amusement, while the mother looks like I just told her that I thought Hitler might have been on the right track.
  
  Heh, train pun.
  
  Wait no, that was a shit pun. It was too obscure for anyone to even find it funny, and now that I think about it, wasn't it Mussolini that did the whole "The trains will run on time!" speech thing?
  
  Eh, doesn't matter.
  
  Anyway, the husband is similar to his wife, but rather than scandalised, he has that look that only middle aged white people get where he is all disapproving because he can't accept anything different to what he knows as being right.
  
  Seeing that James is taking his time, I turn myself in my seat so I am sitting on it side on and face them properly.
  
  "What? You dipfucks got a problem with how I'm raising my child? I bet my kid could kick your kid's ass any day bitch, fuck around and find out."
  
  With that out of the way, I turn away from the appalled looking parents as they try and fail to inform their own kids that what I just said was not in fact funny, but actually very rude.
  
  Looking back, I see James with his knuckle in his mouth holding in his own laughter.
  
  That makes me smile, and soon we are both laughing, only laughing harder when the parents drag their kids, who are also laughing, away from the café.
  
  Well, that was fun.
  
  "You pick anything yet?"
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  So, she accidentally adopted James 2 Electric Boogaloo. that's something I guess
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  24 Definitely a good influence
  After getting some food inside of little James we were finally done with the essentials, which basically just means that now we can just shop for whatever we want.
  
  I insisted we do some more clothes shopping first, because other than the jacket and winterwear, little James doesn't actually have any clothes other than what he was wearing when I found him.
  
  "Do you particularly care what kind of clothes you get?" I ask as we walk into some store or other that isn't too crowded.
  
  "Nope! Can we just grab the first things we see? I wanna check out the arcade already!" I let out a snort at his bluntness and give him a shrug.
  
  "Aight then, how 'bout this, you go grab yourself three changes of clothes, all in the same size, and meet me by the changing rooms so we can make sure they actually fit, meanwhile I'll quickly go grab something else, 'kay?"
  
  "Kay!" He half shouts before literally taking off running down the isle, making me smile with his enthusiasm.
  
  I'm glad he is as fun as I hoped he would be. Fun and useful, could I ask for anything more?
  
  Anyway, I shouldn't stand around.
  
  With that in mind, I head over to where the hair dye is and grab a few boxes of brown dye. That done, I make my way to the changing rooms.
  
  Though, calling them 'rooms' is a bit of a stretch, since they are more like cubicles really.
  
  There is already a woman there sitting on the benches when I arrive so I speak up when I approach.
  
  "Hey there, mind if I take a seat?" I ask, startling the woman in front of me. When she turns around I am able to get a good look at her.
  
  Brown eyes, blonde hair and a face that's more cute than sexy with a smattering of freckles. I never really understood what the 'girl next door' look was supposed to mean, but looking at this woman I feel like I kind of understand.
  
  Pretty enough to get your attention when you are near each other, but not pretty enough that you would remember her once you move on. Then again, maybe I am misinterpreting that phrase.
  
  "Oh, no, no I don't mind at all." She says, scooting over a little on the bench even though there was already more than enough room for me.
  
  We sit in silence for a second or two before I get bored and realise she isn't going to start conversation.
  
  "So, who are you waiting for?" I ask, making her look at me in confusion.
  
  "What?"
  
  "Well, you're just sitting here, and one of those curtains", I nod to the changing cubicles, "is closed, so I assume you're waiting for someone too?"
  
  The time it took for me to finish speaking seems to have been enough for her to gather her bearings enough to recognise that she is in a conversation now, as her response is a lot more casual this time.
  
  "Yeah, I'm waiting for my daughter, she has an armful of clothes in there with her and honestly I'm not expecting her to be out for another twenty minutes."
  
  I smile at the playful lament in her tone and sigh sympathetically.
  
  "Ahhh, the joys of teenage girls I assume?"
  
  "Yea, she just turned fifteen recently. She's going out to some party for christmas tomorrow and has suddenly decided that nothing in her wardrobe is good enough, hence the sudden shopping trip."
  
  The way her shoulder slump despondently gets a chuckle out of me that makes her harumph jokingly in return.
  
  "What about you", she asks, "who are you waiting for?" As if to answer for me, the moment I open my mouth to respond, little James comes barrelling down the isle, jumping to a stop in front of me and throwing a pile of clothes at my face.
  
  The pile hits my face with a soft 𝘵𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘱 before falling down to my lap to reveal the dry look on my face.
  
  "You're supposed to try them on first dumbass, not throw them at me."
  
  I say, taking a shirt and a pair of pants from the pile and throwing them back before gesturing to the open cubicles.
  
  He gets the idea heads over, still running, and closes the curtain behind him.
  
  "I take it that that little one is yours then?" The lady who's name I still don't know asks. Unfortunately for her, I'm still bored.
  
  "Not exactly, he's actually my uncle." I lie.
  
  The look of confusion is expected but still amusing, not that I let that show. Instead, I keep talking with a straight face, my tone light and casual, as if discussing the weather.
  
  "Yeah, see my dad got my mum preggos when he was only 13. She was 16, it was quite the scandal at the time. At the same time, my dad's mom, my grandma, she gave birth to my dad when she was 15, then she had my uncle when she was 41, making him about 12 years younger than me despite being my dad's brother."
  
  Looking at the bafflement on the woman's face, I almost break out laughing.
  
  "O-oh. Uh, that's, huh. I don't really know what to say to that to be honest."
  
  Right as I'm about to respond and embellish the story to include incest and be even more confusing, little James bursts through the curtain with such force that he brings it down with a clang with him as he collapses to the ground.
  
  Well, at least the new clothes fit well enough.
  
  They didn't impede his fall to the ground one bit. "They fit! Can we go to the arcade now!"
  
  With a wry smile on my lips I get to my feet with little James and gather up all his new clothe in my arms, balancing the hair dye on top of it.
  
  "Sure, you little tyke. Let's go pay for this, then we can check out the arcade." I say as I start walking away, little James hot on my heel.
  
  "Later!" I yell back to the woman, "good luck with your daughter!"
  
  With that, our journey to the arcade begins.
  
  Unfortunately, we are on the opposite side of the mall from the arcade, so it takes a while to walk there. As we are walking, and after little James has had a moment for his excitement to die down a little, he turns to me from my side and asks me a solemn question.
  
  "So, what 𝘥𝘰 you plan on doing anyway?" I only raise my eyebrow at his question, prompting him to elaborate.
  
  "I mean, you said I could join you, but what are you even going to be doing, and what do I have to do?"
  
  He really is mature for his age. Or all eight year olds are this mature and I've simply never interacted with one before.
  
  Still, I've already decided to be completely, mostly, honest with mini James. Mostly because I don't want to experience that cliché where someone, for example, doesn't tell their kid about how they are some prophesised kid, but then they obviously end up finding out anyway and proceed to run away, thus making the prophecy self-fulfilling.
  
  Obviously the situation isn't exactly the same, but the point lies that honesty really is the best policy. It's amazing how far a little communication can go.
  
  "Well, the first thing on my agenda is to finish off your family. There's one guy left right now, but he's my priority. Other than that, I am planning on founding an organisation of sorts, more of a club really. That is what I am inviting you to join.
  
  "You see, my organisation shall be called The Clowns, and when I say it's more of a club, that's because there won't be a leader or anything like that, nor will we even have to spend much time together, it's more like an alliance of mutual beneficence between likeminded individuals."
  
  After I finish speaking, I see mini James looking at me with his face all scrunched up. Right, that might have been too many big words for him. However before I can continue explaining it, he interrupts me.
  
  "..I think I get it. It's basically like making friends, right?"
  
  I mean, that kind of takes the mystery out of it, but he's not really wrong.
  
  "I guess. It's not as cool when you put it like that though." He ignores my pouting as he puts his chin in his hand and visibly ponders.
  
  "So, if it's like a group of friends, then what's the uh, the link that connects everyone? And why Clowns?" He asks.
  
  I smile down at him, a full smile showing too many teeth in a way that would probably disconcert most people.
  
  He isn't even phased.
  
  "Because~ little James", I practically 𝘱𝘶𝘳𝘳 at him, "clowns always get the last laugh."
  
  After that, we both lapse into a comfortable silence for a while, both of us lost in our own minds. Indeed, I plan on making an organisation.
  
  Really, it's more to be a web of connections, so that people like myself, who want to make this world a little bit more enjoyable, people like me who understand the truth of life, can have more resources available to them if they ever have anything fun planned.
  
  Not to mention, like mini James said, we could then enjoy each members plans together, like one big happy group of psychopaths.
  
  Really, my idea is a lot like the Slaughterhouse Nine, I've come to realise. Only, I want my group to be far less short sighted.
  
  Because while a slaughter every now and then might be fun, facing against an entire city, it's also repetitive and even more than that, if you just keep killing everyone, then eventually there won't be any more fun to be had.
  
  After all, it's the people that make the fun, so if there's less people then there's less fun. It's simple maths really.
  
  Little James' voice drags me back out of my thoughts to the earlier conversation.
  
  "So what your saying is that I can join the Clowns and that I can then just do whatever I want? And you'll help me with it?"
  
  "Close but not quite. What I'm saying is that you can join, following which you will have no obligation to anything, you can do what you want. But if you need help for something, then you can ask the group, and if it sounds fun enough, someone might be willing to help you out."
  
  The conversation once more falls to silence as mini James contemplates things.
  
  Eventually however, we do reach the arcade as planned and I give little James a handful of dollar bills and tell him to go wild, following sedately after him as none of the games really interest me.
  
  That is how we spent the rest of the afternoon. Mini James running around from one machine to another, burning through all of my, literally, blood money.
  
  We got a few disapproving looks from people who were probably thinking that I was an irresponsible parent... which to be fair isn't too far from the truth.
  
  But eventually mini James tired himself out at around mid evening time and we decided to call it quits for the day.
  
  At least for mini James anyway.
  
  Because the day is far from over for me, as after we made it back to the house and put our stuff away, well, I put our stuff away, little James just went to bed, I got myself ready for a long night.
  
  The first thing I did was dye my hair, since it takes time to set so I figured I'd do it first. Then I went to the living room and sat myself down on the floor where there is plenty of space, following which I focused inwards. Time for some experimenting.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  The site I'm writing on just had a fucking seizure with formatting and deleted literally every single space that I have written, so now I have to go through everything while pressing space and enter to fix it all :(
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  25 Helter Skelter
  Sitting down, I cross my legs and focus on the small of my back, where my tails come from.
  
  Closing my eyes, I try to will forth my tails as slowly as possible, trying to get a feel for the process, instead of just letting it happen naturally.
  
  I feel the way they pierce through my skin and slowly bubble to the surface, only to rush forward like drawing air through a straw and coalesce into the pair of ribbon like tails I have grown familiar with.
  
  Though, now that I think about it, they aren't quite like how I remember them to be. They are thicker and seem much more sturdy, or perhaps condensed is more accurate.
  
  While they could best be described as liquid muscle when I first got them, right now they seem more like actual muscle. Actually, they seem sturdier, with a solid feel to them, even though the surface still flows like blood.
  
  With my initial observations out of the way, I try to bring out a third tail, like I did against Jason.
  
  It comes a lot more naturally that I had expected.
  
  Honestly, I was expecting to have to struggle and focus to bring it out, but then again I have already done it before so perhaps it should have been expected.
  
  However, now comes the real test.
  
  This time, I do actually have to focus in order to keep going and push out a 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘵𝘩 tail, that joins it's identical siblings in hovering around me, oddly like I am enclosing myself in a pair of wings.
  
  Only if it was a horror movie, considering the fleshy-ness... biblically accurate wing-tails?
  
  Whatever, I'm getting distracted.
  
  Renewing my focus on the area of my back that seems to store my tails, I try to bring out one more tail.
  
  Only this time, it does not come out so easily. Instead, it resists with a feeling akin to straining against plastic wrapping, like it's surrounded by a ball of cling film.
  
  But I 𝘤𝘢𝘯 feel it there, so I know it's possible.
  
  With that though driving me, I 𝘱𝘶𝘴𝘩, flexing muscles that I didn't even know I had.
  
  Finally, with the (not even slightly) mighty sound of bubbling and forming flesh, a fifth tail leaps out to join it's twins, dancing around me like a happy puppy.
  
  Ok, it's more like me swaying my tails from the excitement of more than doubling their total number.
  
  I make a half hearted attempt at drawing out another one before simply giving up, knowing instinctually that it isn't going to happen.
  
  Still, progress!
  
  With that done, I take some time to properly admire my freaky horror movie style blood muscle tentacles for a bit.
  
  Sometime, I really love my power, but then I remember how I will never be able to drink apple juice ever again and then that love disappears.
  
  Damn.. I miss apple juice.
  
  I used to drink so much of that shit that my dentist told me to stop because the normally harmless amount of acid in them was starting to erode my teeth away since there was a time where I would drink like, four litres of it a day.
  
  𝘏𝘢𝘢𝘢𝘩.
  
  Whatever.
  
  My diet aside, it's nice to know that I now have access to more tails, it will certainly be a boost to my combat capabilities, that's for sure.
  
  After passing some more time by playing around with my new set of tails and making sure I am properly comfortable and aware of their presence, I notice that night has properly set in and check the time.
  
  22:30
  
  Alright then. Time to get back to work.
  
  It only takes a few minutes to get fully dressed in what is now my only set of black military surplus clothes and mask, and it's only the work of a dozen or so more minutes before I have a bag full of stolen clothes that I drop off near the house, intent on grabbing it on my way back.
  
  For now however, there is work to be done.
  
  Namely finding myself a good source of information.
  
  Now, at first I was wondering how I was going to find an information broker, assuming there is one, but then I remembered something and decided to go back to my roots so to speak.
  
  Because while I may have been pretty stupid and reckless with how I started things out, I was right about one thing at least, and that is that criminals know how to do crime.
  
  Thus, if I want to find an information broker, I simply have to ask someone who is already in the loop to fill me in.
  
  Naturally, when I say 'ask' I might be underselling the experience slightly.
  
  I don't bother calling that woman from before, since I'm pretty sure she's dead or something. Instead, I simply head on over to the seedier neighbourhoods where, despite it being the night of christmas eve, there is not a single decoration in place and thugs are still wondering about.
  
  The only thing notably different now compared to my 'patrols' before, is that I am not actually wearing my clown mask, only covering my face with the simple domino and surgery mask that I wore below it.
  
  The reason for that is because I am operating under the assumption that no one knows that I am alive.
  
  Naturally, anyone who knew that the Yamori captured me might suspect that I am the reason behind their demise, however that is only suspicion.
  
  As of right now, as far as anyone is concerned, Tear is either simply missing, or assumed dead via Fallen.
  
  I would like to keep it that way for now, lest Equaliser decide to run or hide or something, thus no clown mask for now.
  
  Unfortunately that also means no using my tails just yet, not that I should need to, since I don't plan on facing any capes before I kill Equaliser.
  
  After hopping around for a while, I eventually stumble across a pair of hoodlums who seem to be up to no good.
  
  It took me a while mostly because I actually want someone who is somewhat in the loop, so I was waiting to find someone with gang colours and gang tattoos, like this pair of unfortunate souls before me.
  
  Walking on the rooftops beside them, I wait for them to cross a dead end alleyway, and then I jump down, landing between them both in a single bound, before grabbing both of their shirts with an arm each, and flinging them both down into the alley.
  
  The force of my throw sends them tumbling over themselves with shouts of pain as my newly enhanced strength shows itself.
  
  I don't bother playing the game with these two nobodies, I'm too focused on getting my revenge to even really care that much about it, at least not enough that I would bother with people who won't even be able to appreciate it.
  
  Instead, I rush into the alley with them and grab the both of them by their throats, squeezing hard enough that they can't call out, but not so hard that they start to die.
  
  Looking into their eyes, I see a mixture of anger and fear as well as a bunch of other emotions that I can't be bothered to identify.
  
  Personally, I think there is far too little fear to make this a productive conversation, and really I only need one of them to talk.
  
  With that in mind, I bring all of my tails, and let go of the guy in my left hand who is promptly speared through each of his limbs while another wraps around his mouth to hide his agonised screaming.
  
  With him pinned to the floor in a slowly growing pool of his own blood, I drop the other guy, who immediately falls on his ass and starts trying to backpedal away from me.
  
  I choose to ignore his pleading and begging and instead stomp down on one of his shins, breaking through it completely until the only thing separating my foot from the pavement is a single layer of his skin.
  
  I have to bring one of my tails from the other guys' leg to cover his blood curdling scream.
  
  Only once the both of their voices have died down to simple whimpers and cries do I speak.
  
  "Now that that's out of the way, I will ask you questions and you will answer them. Failure to do so will result in more pain, similarly, giving me an answer I don't like will do the same. For reference, right now I like honesty. Nod if you understand."
  
  After both of them give me their shaking, fearful nods, I release both of their mouths.
  
  "Good. Now, first things first, if I wanted information, who in the city would be likely to have it?"
  
  Since I am such a nice person, I give them a moment to think, since pain is no doubt clouding their minds right now.
  
  "T-t-there's a g-guy, 𝘨𝘶𝘭𝘱, J-Jinx. H-he sells in-information"
  
  Perfect!
  
  Well, that was easy.
  
  Looking down on the pair of men, I mentally shrug.
  
  I've already got them here, might as well see if they know anything nice about their gang.
  
  Twenty minutes later and I am back to hopping roofs, only this time with a direction in mind and honestly not all that much more information, but a much more full stomach.
  
  It doesn't take me too long before I find myself standing in front of an out of the way bar in an empty street.
  
  Looking up at the depilated sign, I raise an eyebrow at the name.
  
  𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳.
  
  Isn't that a Beatles song?
  
  At least they have class I suppose.
  
  As I walk up to the door, something really confusing happens.
  
  I trip. And 𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭.
  
  On an empty street, 𝘐, a parahuman with an enhanced physique and enhanced senses, 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘭.
  
  I haven't felt so much as off balance since I got my power, meaning it was so unexpected that I didn't even catch myself and just ended up eating tarmac.
  
  After that confusing and embarrassing moment, I make sure to watch my steps as I walk up to the building.
  
  I ignore the 'Closed' sign hanging from the door and twist the handle, only to pull on what happens to be a push door.
  
  The inside is a surprisingly shitty looking bar. I mean really, I wasn't expecting much, but the beige paint is peeling off of the walls and most of the wood looks like it's growing mould, not to mention the simple fact that there are only three tables taking up less than half the floor space.
  
  Clearly, this is not an establishment going through good times.
  
  After looking around for 'Jinx' and not finding him, I put my nose to work and check for any scents.
  
  Luckily for me, he is actually here, simply in the room behind the counter.
  
  So I walk up to said counter and take a sit on one of the stools, only for it to immediately break under me, making one of my tails shoot out without conscious thought to catch me from falling.
  
  Getting my feet back under me, I feel myself smile, amused by the way so many things have gone wrong in such quick succession.
  
  Deciding to simply stand, I knock loudly on the counter a few times until I hear the sound of someone stirring.
  
  A moment later, and a despondent looking man walks through the doorway with a bottle of booze on hand that I can smell on his breath.
  
  "Sorry, but we're closed." He mumbles as he walks up to the opposite side of the counter as me.
  
  "I'm aware, however I'm in something of a hurry, and I believe you are the only one who may be able to point me in the right direction."
  
  He leans one elbow on the counter, resting his face on his palm and puts his bottle down, only for him to put it too close to the edge, leading to it immediately falling to the floor and smashing.
  
  I can't help it.
  
  I laugh.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Was totally supposed to make Jinx a woman called Itori, like in Tokyo Ghoul, but then I completely forgot and now it's too late to change.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  26 I was so fucking tired writing this
  Only after taking a minute to calm my laughter down, during which Jinx simply stared dispassionately at me, can we begin proper discussion.
  
  "So," He starts with a tired drawl, "what brings you here with such fervour to ignore my closed sign, mystery lady."
  
  I smile beneath my simple mask at his tone, but since I want to get this part over with quickly, I give a simple and blunt answer.
  
  "I was told you are good with information. I want to know where I can find a cape known as Equaliser."
  
  Jinx doesn't pause in raising a new bottle to his lips as I speak, though he does raise an eyebrow as he gulps down his booze, speaking shortly after.
  
  "Equaliser huh? Mind if I ask what business you have with him?"
  
  Seeing no reason to lie, for much the same reason that I had no problem showing those thugs my tails, I give jinx the simple truth.
  
  "I'm going to kill him. Preferably in a way that hurts, but I'm not too bothered with the how. I'm more interested in the when and where."
  
  A beat passes as Jinx stares into my eyes, seemingly trying to figure out how serious I am being.
  
  Evidently he likes what he sees, because he soon bursts out laughing.
  
  Not a pleasant laugh mind you, but the kind of malicious, schadenfreude only present in those enjoying the suffering of others.
  
  I find it to be quite pleasant to the ears.
  
  "Hahaha, well, sucks to be him I guess. Sure, I can tell you where to find him, but what do I get in return?" He asks.
  
  Now, obviously I expected to have to pay for the information, that's why I brought a few thousands dollars.
  
  I have no idea how much information is supposed to cost.
  
  However, I've just gotten an even better idea.
  
  "Hmm, how about an invitation?" I ask, forgetting my earlier thoughts of being in a hurry as soon as an entertaining idea presents itself.
  
  Jinx's unmasked face squints in suspicion at me, his blue eyes being surprisingly expressive in showing his distrust.
  
  "An invitation to what exactly?" He carefully asks of me.
  
  "I'm glad you asked~ it's quite simple really~ I'm founding a new group, and I'm inviting you to join~ isn't that great?"
  
  Belatedly, I realise that I'm not focused on Equaliser anymore and am dragging myself back into playing the game, but I don't really mind.
  
  Whatever response I was expecting from Jinx, it certainly wasn't the deadpan expression that I got.
  
  "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there 𝘪𝘴 a reason that nobody wants me in their organisations." Comes his dry response as he raises his arms to his sides, gesturing to the bar around us and it's rather poor state.
  
  Though, that's an understatement, it really is falling apart at the seams.
  
  "What is that reason anyway? I've not exactly been in the city for long, so I'm not familiar with everyone just yet~ care to fill me in?~"
  
  He just snorts and picks his bottle back up and takes another swig.
  
  "My power is aptly named Misfortune. It basically just makes it so that everyone around me, myself included has really shitty luck. Honestly, it's a miracle I'm even still alive at this point."
  
  Huh, I guess that makes sense then.
  
  Also, doesn't that mean his power affects causality? Though to be fair, it could be more along the lines of large scale telekinesis tied to some kind of precognition.
  
  That would be more convoluted, but it would at least make more sense than fucking with causality.
  
  Still, that is certainly a fun power.
  
  "So you see now why I am a rogue, and why no one wants me in their organisations?" The self-deprecation in his voice is plain to hear and it makes me smile a little bit further.
  
  "Yeah~ I totally understand. I'd definitely not want someone like you in any organisation I was a part of.~"
  
  Right as I notice the well hidden disappointment and hurt flash through his eyes, I speak up again before he can.
  
  "It's a good thing I'm not inviting you to a proper organisation then, isn't it?~"
  
  I watch as Jinx pauses with his mouth open to speak as my words register in his brain and stop him short.
  
  After the moment passes, Jinx adopts a pensive frown that I find adorably amusing, as he considers me with frustration evident on his face.
  
  "... What exactly are you getting at?" He all but demands.
  
  Leaning back slightly, I reach behind me to where I had my actual mask hidden and bring it forward.
  
  "Allow me to properly introduce myself~ I am Tear!~ Founder of the Clowns!~ It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance!~" I cheerfully introduce myself as I put my mask on my face, fully in character now.
  
  "And how exactly is this group different to other organisations? Also, why Clowns?" He asks, sounding dubious but I feel like I also hear a little bit of hope in there.
  
  With his power being what it is, he must be pretty lonely, or, even worse, bored.
  
  Now, time for the sales pitch, because having an information broker on board would seriously be awesome.
  
  "Simple~ because it is not really an organisation, rather it's more like a club. A network of likeminded individuals, each with something of their own to offer the others, be it resources or information or simple muscle. All so that we may each indulge in our singular goal.~"
  
  At this point my excitement at the very idea that I have envisioned in my mind has caused me to raise my voice as I start pacing around in front of Jinx, orating my thoughts with undisguised passion.
  
  "Why Clowns, you ask?~ Well, that goes back to what I just said~ the common link that brings us together, the single goal that our lovely group of troublemakers will peruse?! It's actually really simple you see. The purpose of our group is just to have fun~ to spread chaos and destruction and to revel in it!"
  
  Panting slightly from my little passionate speech, I round on Jinx, pinning him down with my glowing blood red transformed eyes, I approach him and lean forward on the counter until my face is only a few inches away from his.
  
  "After all~", I whisper, "Clowns always get the last laugh.~"
  
  I can tell that he's almost convinced. I can practically 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 the effect my words have had on him.
  
  He just needs a little.. push.
  
  So, with my voice still a whisper, I keep talking. Tempting him in a fashion not unlike the devil offering a deal.
  
  "Just think about it~ ever since you triggered, misfortune has followed you everywhere, locking you in a crappy building like this just to survive. Don't you want to truly 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦? Even better, don't you want the world to understand the struggle you've faced? All you have to do is take up a Clown themed mask, and you can do away with this boring life of yours. You could use the information you gather to secretly set up cape fights and stir chaos. Maybe even start a gang war? Doesn't that just seem so much 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 than the life you live right now? So much more fun?"
  
  Here, I finally back off, letting him digest my words and come to a decision.
  
  A few minutes pass in silence as he considers my offer.
  
  Eventually, he seems to have made his decision, and I'm sure that even through both of my masks, my smile must be 𝘱𝘢𝘭𝘱𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦.
  
  "If- if I join you. What exactly will that mean for me? What responsibilities will I have? How will this work?" He asks, his voice a mix of cautious and excited.
  
  Bleh, responsibilities.
  
  "Nothing like that~ as I said, this is not an organisation. There is no structure, no leadership. If you join then all that is required of you is that you have a 'Clown identity', whether it's separate from your other identities or not is up to you. The whole point of the group is to be free and have fun, so just do whatever you want but with the knowledge that if you need help, then so long as what you need help with is fun, then you can come to the group and someone will probably want to take part in the fun. In a way, you could just consider the group something akin to a group of friends."
  
  Jinx blinks dumbly at my explanation, before retorting with a confused expression on his face.
  
  "Wait, so you're telling me that all I need to do is get a clown mask and that's it? No responsibilities, so quotas, no nothing? I just continue doing whatever I want?"
  
  I give a little chuckle at his words before shrugging noncommittedly.
  
  "I hate being bored. I decided to found the group for two reasons." I say, holding up two fingers before lowering one as I continue speaking.
  
  "One, is for when my boredom eventually gets the better of me again and I end up doing something dumb and getting in over my head I can know that there are people who might be willing to give me a hand. The other reason is again that I hate being bored and I figure that if I am a part of a group of people, all of whom simply want to enjoy themselves, then I am far more likely to be invited to entertaining situations."
  
  Jinx once again stares at me for a moment in bafflement before he simply nods to himself.
  
  "Huh. Alright then, sure, I'll join." He confirms, making me happy.
  
  "Awesome! Welcome to the troupe!" I cheer, giving him a double thumbs up that makes him laugh.
  
  However his laughter trails off rather awkwardly after a moment.
  
  "So uhh, what now?" He asks, scratching the back of his head.
  
  "Nothing much really. Depends if you want to join as Jinx or if you want to create someone new. Personally I'd say it'd be better to do the latter, as you will probably still be spending most of your time as Jinx, since you'll only need to be a Clown when acting as a Clown, e.g. when you're causing mayhem and chaos and stuff."
  
  We then spend a moment just chatting. We talk about what his Clown mask might look like while also making sure to exchange numbers so we can actually contact each other.
  
  I mean sure, he isn't much. But it's more a proof of concept, that some people will be willing to join me.
  
  It's just a case of finding the right people.
  
  Speaking of finding the right people, I snap my fingers as I remember why I came here in the first place, drawing Jinx's attention with the sudden movement.
  
  "Right! I totally forgot, but the whole reason I even came here was to learn where I could find Equaliser. Mind pointing me in the right direction?"
  
  Like a lightbulb going off, recognition strikes Jinx as he too remembers the start of this conversation.
  
  "Right, you did say something about that. Sure, I can help, though I am still curious as to why you want him dead so badly?"
  
  I simply offer him a one shouldered shrug in response, speaking lightly.
  
  "I'm just finishing the job. His family hurt me so I am going to wipe them from the face of the earth, simple as that."
  
  The room once more falls to silence as my words hang in the air.
  
  "You know, you're actually quite scary."
  
  Heh.
  
  "Damn right I am.~ Now, I believe you were telling me where I can find someone?"
  
  With that, Jinx doesn't delay any further and starts filling me in on the information that I want.
  
  Twenty minutes later and I am leaving Helter Skelter with a smile on my face and a skip in my step.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  aaarrrghghg
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  27 Finally an info dump
  After leaving Helter Skelter, I did a quick lap of where Jinx said Equaliser will be tomorrow and then went home to do something I loathe.
  
  To make a plan.
  
  Now, I'm generally not a fan of thinking too hard on things, but I am willing to make an exception this one time.
  
  Besides, it might actually be fun to do, so long as I only do it the once.
  
  Like experimenting, you won't know you hate it until you try.
  
  Anyway, when I got back to the house, mini James was still sleeping, which sucks because I was hoping to get some anti-power drugs from him so that I could rip Equaliser in half with my bare hands.
  
  Guess I'll just have to ask him in the morning.
  
  Now, onto the planning.
  
  I even got a notebook to write things down.
  
  Man, I am such a disciplined and organised person.
  
  Anyway, have you ever heard the phrase, 'no rest for the wicked'? Well, that is apparently applicable because even on christmas day, villains don't hold back.
  
  In fact, according to Jinx, villains tend to be even more active on christmas day, since the Youth Guard made it so that Wards get christmas off and the Protectorate Heroes are all but forced to hang around the main streets where the christmas celebrations are happening.
  
  Apparently it's mostly for PR reasons rather than actually protecting all the party goers.
  
  All of this means that the villains are basically free to go wherever they want in the less popular parts of the city during christmas.
  
  However they will try and avoid fighting with Heroes, also for PR reasons, so they just end up fighting each other and pushing for territory.
  
  Now, Red Branch, the gang that Equaliser is a part of, is the larges organisation in the city, purely in terms of parahuman membership.
  
  Well, technically at least. If you count the Wards and Protectorate as one group then they have the most members, but since the Wards are all minors, the Youth Guard doesn't like the two being considered one whole.
  
  Anyway, according to Jinx, my target is likely to have two other parahumans with him tomorrow, which means I have to figure out who it could be and plan around that.
  
  So to revise, who is in the Red Branch?
  
  First is obviously the leader, Cu Chulainn. He's a high level brute, and I mean that as in he could, with help from his rather notable skill with his spear, go toe to toe with 𝘈𝘭𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘳𝘪𝘢 if only for a minute.
  
  As in, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 Alexandria, the one they named flying brutes after because she is such a staple, member of the Triumvirate and co-founder of the Protectorate, as well as the woman who despite being a Hero for over a decade and having taken hits from many, many powers, has only ever been injured 𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘦.
  
  Even against 𝘌𝘯𝘥𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴, she comes out unharmed.
  
  In other words, she is one scary as fuck individual who could probably bend me into a pretzel.
  
  And this guy is fast enough to react to her, strong enough that she can't just completely ignore his blows and skilled enough that he could hold his own.
  
  Then again, maybe I am overestimating him, since he only fought her once and she beat him in like, 37 seconds I think.
  
  Still, that's 𝘈𝘭𝘦𝘹-motherfucking-𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘳𝘪𝘢 we're talking about here. The number of people that have lasted past her first move is 𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘺 low.
  
  In conclusion, I really don't want to fight Cu.
  
  Thankfully for me, no one else wants to fight him either, which means that he rarely leaves his house, since everybody will just run away anyway.
  
  Not to mention, he 𝘪𝘴 their leader, so it's probably reasonable to strike him off the list of potential capes that will be with equaliser.
  
  Well, that's one down, only eleven more to go.
  
  Wait no, ten more to go. I forgot that Clay isn't really an option anymore.
  
  Heh, fuck you Clay.
  
  Now, the other scary cape in Red Branch is Cath Palug. She turns into a giant monster cat and rampages around in a seemingly uncontrollable rage.
  
  Oh, and she's also as physically strong as Cu, if not a little stronger.
  
  Apparently she used to rampage around every month or two and Cu would have to beat her into submission every time so that she didn't destroy his territory.
  
  However, that was until Merlin came along and basically 'tamed' her. In other words, they are basically best friends and are all but connected by the hip. If you see one then the other is likely to be nearby.
  
  But, similarly to Cu, Cath doesn't get out much, since everybody would probably team up against her. It certainly doesn't help how much she resembles and Endbringer-lite.
  
  Though really, that's an unfair comparison, since Endbringers destroy whole cities every two to three months, and Cath is certainly not nearly that strong.
  
  I think it's just a case of overblown reputation really. But still, she is unlikely to make an appearance, which means Merlin is also unlikely, though that is less of a big deal since he's just a relatively weak elemental manipulator.
  
  Cold winds, weak fires, nothing that would really bother me.
  
  Now, who else is there?
  
  Smith is a cold arms Tinker, so he doesn't do any fighting, he just makes swords and spears and shit.
  
  Hermes, who I met before, tends to work alone, since his speed means that others can't properly keep up.
  
  Siegfried, according to Jinx, likes to keep to his harem rather than going out and fighting, so he won't be out unless Cu makes him.
  
  Which he probably will, all things considered, but due to his personality, I kind of doubt that he will be willing to work with anyone who isn't a woman, so that might rule him out.
  
  I'll put him down as a maybe.
  
  Now, who else?
  
  There's Morgana, who I met briefly when I killed Matchstick. She is pretty active and doesn't have any known holdups, not to mention that as a woman I doubt she really wants to spend any time around Siegfried, so she seems likely.
  
  That's good at least, since her whole power is transforming into animals, and I could suplex a bear any day of the week... probably.
  
  Ok, I have no idea how strong a bear is, but they get shot and I can't get shot, so I assume I'm better than a bear.
  
  Then there's Bathory, who is also a woman, but apparently she's.. how to put it... a raging whore.
  
  She's the 'Madam' that runs Red Branches brothels, so I could see her sticking with Siegfried. Her whole power is only that she turns into a blood mist, like a vampire.
  
  Except that's all she can do, so she would be more of an annoyance than a threat.
  
  Then there's Ba'al, who shoots zaps of electricity from his hands. According to the videos of him fighting online, the zaps aren't really that tough. Certainly not to the level of an actual lighting bolt.
  
  He is a possibility too.
  
  The only other cape in Red Branch, excluding the obvious that is my target, is something of a mystery.
  
  Mystery enough that James and Theo didn't even know about him to warn me.
  
  According to Jinx, there is another member who goes by the name Solomon.
  
  He says that Solomon is only ever contacted by Cu or by his lieutenants and that other than to them, his face and powers are a mystery to everyone.
  
  However, Jinx is good at what he does.
  
  When he told me how he gets his information, I spent a solid five minutes laughing my ass off.
  
  Since his power is 'Misfortune', it means that everybody around him is super unlucky.
  
  But it doesn't have a set are of effect and is kind of bullshit to be honest.
  
  Because he can just try to log into a random persons account with a randomly chosen password and get in no problem.
  
  You know why? Because it would be really misfortunate for the person who's account he is 'hacking' if he managed to guess the password right.
  
  Not to mention, he just gets wrong number texts involving critical information sometimes.
  
  It really is bullshit, and I would call it unfair if not for the fact that he suffers from the same misfortune.
  
  That's why he doesn't have any online accounts for anything. Because literally anyone could try to guess his passwords for anything, and they will almost always get it right.
  
  To prove it he made me guess his mothers maiden name, and unless he was bullshitting me, it is Mary.
  
  Anyway, the point is, Jinx has good information, and while he doesn't know everything, he says that Solomon is likely some kind of precog Thinker.
  
  Which really does make sense the more I think about it, because every time I've tried something big against Red Branch, there has always been a cape sitting there waiting for me, as if they somehow already knew I was coming.
  
  However, there are obviously limits to his power, and likely some pretty hard ones, otherwise I doubt Clay would have ever died.
  
  But since he's a Thinker, he isn't going to be fighting.
  
  Now, who does that leave as a possibility for fighting tomorrow?
  
  There's Equaliser, obviously, then there's Siegfried, Bathory, Morgana, Ba'al and 𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘣𝘦 Hermes.
  
  So let's think for a moment.
  
  What are the objectives tomorrow?
  
  Well, they will be fighting on two fronts, against the Street Saints and Famine respectively.
  
  Now, Famine has the least members, but the combination of their leader 'The Bomb', who can turn himself into an explosion, with Janus, who is a short distance teleporter, makes them really difficult to beat.
  
  Even if the other two members are basically useless, one being a brute who is so underwhelming that he was named 'Baldy' by ParaHumans Online, after his most notable feature.
  
  PHO doesn't fuck around.
  
  The other is just some laser eye guy who called himself Horus hoping to be allowed into the mythology loving Irishmen, only to be rejected because he isn't Irish, and then became racist and joined Famine.
  
  The dude must have a really fragile heart, I bet that if you told him plants can feel pain that he'd cry.
  
  Moving past that loser, there is the Street Saints.
  
  They only have seven members after Matchstick kicked it and most of them are brutes of some kind, the only exceptions being the leader who can erase any inorganic matter that he touches, really making him a Tinkers worst nightmare.
  
  The other exceptions are Dovah, who I've met and this dude Romulus, who is a Master that can summon a bunch of spectral wolves.
  
  With that in mind, when going against Famine you really need to focus on just being able to not die, while against Street Saints, you need to be able to either keep your distance, or kick the shit out of people.
  
  With that in mind, I predict that Siegfried and Bathory will be heading over to the border with Famine, as both of them can survive explosions.
  
  Hermes will probably join them from a distance while the other three, Equaliser, Ba'al and Morgana will probably head for Street Satins.
  
  After all, a bear can kick most peoples asses and Ba'al could snipe their Alexandria package who got the unfortunate name of 'Uncle Tom' form PHO after he was too nice in his first showing, out of the sky.
  
  Then there's Equaliser. He can just punch a brute and depending on how their power works exactly, could make them vulnerable by erasing their powers.
  
  Then he can just shoot them or something, I don't know.
  
  Would have been nice to know all of this 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 I met the asshole himself.
  
  Ah well. You know the best part though?
  
  Since they will be heading to their border with Street Saints, there is a non-zero chance that I will meet Dynamite again.
  
  We'll see who has garbage form this time.
  
  Thus, with a smile on my face and evil thoughts in my mind, I head to bed, prepared for the most entertaining christmas of my life.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  phew, that was a lot of thinking.
  
  I have plans that I can't implement until more time has passed and more stuff has happened, which sucks, but it will be great when it happens. Very fun :)
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  28 Happy Xmas
  Sitting by myself on a rooftop that sits between Red Branch and Street Saints' territory, I bob my head along with the music I have playing quietly from my phone as I wait for the nights entertainment to show itself.
  
  "So this is christmas~" I hum to myself along with the song, kicking my legs back and forth over the edge of the roof.
  
  I'm not too worried about being noticed, since other than my mask I am wearing all black, and even then the masks smile is also black, so I doubt anyone is going to see me from a distance since night time has already shown itself.
  
  "And what have you done~"
  
  I made some last minute preparations with little James before I left, while also calling up Jinx so that he could enjoy the show.
  
  That is the whole point in joining the group after all, to be able to enjoy each others games.
  
  "Another year over~"
  
  However, apparently the process by which mini James makes his anti-power juice takes time, but we still had the syringes that he made before I, well, murdered his family and kidnapped him.
  
  Anyway.
  
  He wasn't able to make more for me, but it wasn't to difficult to make a new syringe that injects itself once it pierces skin.
  
  In other words, I just need to throw the needle at him rather than get close to inject it, which would be a problem considering his power.
  
  It's as I'm thinking this that I espy the star of todays show walking down the street with a rather large gathering of Irishmen, distinguishable by their red and green clothing.
  
  Now that I think about it, it's very thematic that they're wearing christmas colours.
  
  I wonder if they've even realised it.
  
  Also, I feel incredibly vindicated to realise that I was right in my predictions on the capes that would show.
  
  Unfortunately it seems that the Street Saints are late, as I can catch no sight of them despite the Red Branch gangbangers being about to pass the building I'm sitting on.
  
  "War~ is o~ver." I sing under my breathe as the song comes to an end.
  
  𝘚𝘪𝘨𝘩.
  
  "You're right John Lennon, war is over." I say as my smile slowly starts to grow.
  
  "The games however, have just begun.~"
  
  With those final words, I take a single step forward, my foot hovering over the edge of the roof for a single moment before the rest of my body joins it.
  
  Then, I 𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭.
  
  Do be sure to entertain me, it would be a shame if this ended too soon.
  
  ...
  
  Life had been going rather well for Sean, or Equaliser as he's better known, if he does say so himself.
  
  It was a little rough a couple of weeks ago, what with that new vigilante showing up and making us take a few hits, but then all my problems seemed to just spontaneously decide to go away together.
  
  First with Jason coming along, resulting in the removal of the annoyance, and then, just the other day, I get news that the PRT's raid on my old family ended up with nothing to show for it except for a whole lot of blood.
  
  I did briefly consider if it was the vigilante, Tear, who killed them all and made her escape, but I know Jason, and I highly doubt that any upstart like her could best him.
  
  Not to mention, the whole clan was over a dozen people, over half of which were brutes with varying levels of regeneration while the others were all trumps of some description that fucked with powers.
  
  In other words, it's pretty much a death trap for any cape to get out of.
  
  Personally, I see it being one of two situations.
  
  Either Jason pissed the wrong person off, kidnapped the wrong person or something and this was the work of some group getting revenge.
  
  Probably a decently sized group too, maybe even another branch of the Fallen?
  
  Either way, I personally think the other option is more likely.
  
  I think it was that bitch Tiamat going full psycho and just not holding back at all and annihilating them all.
  
  It would explain why the PRT is being so hush hush about the whole thing, not wanting to out one of their capes as the psycho that she is.
  
  A brief shudder wracks my body that I am unable to stop as memories of Tiamat fighting come back to me.
  
  She is one terrifying woman.
  
  A true one person army, as the very world itself changes and turns into soldiers to fight for her.
  
  Shaking my head to clear away the memories, I focus on what's important right now, which is the fight I am marching towards, my only real backup being a glorified bug zapper and an assortment of animals.
  
  The normals only have guns after all, and the only one who might show up that can be bested by bullets is Dovah, which is exactly why he won't be showing up.
  
  Really, I understand that we won't be gaining any territory today, even with the Heroes so distracted, because without our heavy hitters, we can't really do much more than defend.
  
  But then, 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 our heavy hitters, we suddenly have to fight a much larger number of people.
  
  Quite frankly, it's only that bitch Tiamat that is stopping us from basically taking over the city, since she could probably fight literally every cape here by herself and win.
  
  Granted, there would be a whole lot of collateral should that happen, hence why she tends to stay back, having a metaphorical staring contest with Cu and Cath.
  
  As we are walking down the early night street, I am suddenly put on edge as I notice Morrigan out of the corner of my eye twitch slightly in a way I know means that her enhanced senses have just picked something up.
  
  Right before I can ask her what she hears, that question answers itself.
  
  Our group comes to a halt as a figure lands in the middle of the street in front of us in a silent crouch.
  
  Thankfully, nobody has to think twice before the pull out their guns and point them at the slowly rising figure, Ba'al and Morrigan similarly preparing their powers by pointing and transforming respectfully.
  
  However, it's as the figure raises it's head to look at us that a sinking feeling settles in my gut.
  
  I recognise that mask.
  
  "He~llo~ Irishmen~ what a coincidence to see you on this auspicious summer morning.~" She practically sings as she makes a dramatic bow.
  
  Even with her blatantly getting the time wrong, all I can focus on is her eyes.
  
  Since the moment she stood in front of us, her glowing crimson orbs and blackened smile have never left my own.
  
  "Now! I must apologise~ after all, I didn't have the time to plan out a proper game~ so we will just be playing something simple.~"
  
  She hasn't so much as glanced anywhere else.
  
  It makes me realise something.
  
  She is here for me.
  
  It makes sense, since I'm the one who sent her to Jason.
  
  But for her to be here, that means that it 𝘸𝘢𝘴 her that ended the Yamori.
  
  "The game is thus~ you all flail around in the vain hope of killing me, and if you are entertaining enough, then maybe you get to live!~ Doesn't that sound fun?~"
  
  She killed Jason.
  
  And now she's here for me.
  
  I feel the others looking at me, waiting for instructions.
  
  I am more than happy to give them.
  
  "What the fuck are you waiting for? Kill that bitch!" I shout, immediately followed by the staccato of a dozen guns going of at the same time.
  
  But it doesn't matter.
  
  She killed Jason.
  
  Bullets aren't enough.
  
  Turning to Ba'al beside me, I lose my cool a little and shout at him.
  
  "Why are you just standing there!? Fucking kill her!"
  
  Only with that does he seem to realise the severity of the situation as he points forward at Tear who has just been standing there, taking the storm of bullets, all the while her eyes have never left my own.
  
  𝘡𝘢𝘱.
  
  The bolt of electricity slams into the Clown, however all it manages to do is force her back a single step.
  
  As if it was some kind of signal, as soon as the bolt disappears, the gunshots also pause, allowing us all to witness the effect of the assault.
  
  I didn't expect much. In fact, all I expected was some torn clothes and unhurt skin.
  
  Instead, the sight we are greeted with is something else.
  
  In the dark lighting it's hard to properly see, but as we focus on her, it's possible to see how her body seems to be.. 𝘧𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨, for lack of a better word. Like she's made out of water.
  
  The reason why becomes clear as she 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘮𝘴 open, like a flower, only if the petals were tentacles of blood and flesh.
  
  Slowly, her tentacles spread away from her body where they were wrapped around her like a snake, until there are four pulsing ribbons of flowing muscle swaying around her body protectively.
  
  "Well~ you're certainly trying to kill me~ but you aren't being very fun about it~ don't you know that guns are like, sooo~ last decade?" She says before each of her ribbons suddenly pierce the ground around her as she crouches down, leaning forward.
  
  "So how about I make it more fun, hm?~"
  
  I realise what is about to happen only a moment before it does and am too slow to shout out a warning before it's too late.
  
  The ground around her 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘴 as her body is launched forward, her tails following behind her.
  
  She slides to a stop in front of the closest man and doesn't even pause or hesitate in burying her arms straight through the mans chest until they come out the other side, completely covered in blood and flesh.
  
  Then, she 𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘴 her arms aside and 𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘴 him in two, literally ripping him to pieces with her bare hands.
  
  Nobody needs instructions at this point as everyone moves to fight, or run, in the case of most of the normals.
  
  I want to complain about it, but as I watch her ribbons snap forward and pierce through the chests of four separate men and fling their bodies around with wanton ease, I understand completely that this simply isn't a fight that the powerless can take part in.
  
  But all is not lost, and Ba'al and Morrigan both know this without it being said.
  
  All I need it to touch her, and the other two can finish her off.
  
  That's all we need.
  
  A single touch.
  
  By the time that Morrigan reaches her, Tear is using a pair of ribbons to rip a man in half above her, allowing blood and guts to spill all over her body and mask as she stares up at the cadaver.
  
  Morrigan opens by simply trying to crush the smaller woman under her heavy bear hands, but Tear just uses the two ribbons that aren't holding halves of a man to lift herself up and over Morrigan, landing on her back.
  
  From where she stands on Morrigan's shoulders, Tear makes a mocking bow towards me, once again maintaining eye contact.
  
  Suddenly, she tilts her entire body to the side, only managing to keep her balance by using her ribbons as a counterweight and at the same instant, another bolt of lightning passes by where she was a moment ago.
  
  "Miss me, miss me, now you gotta kill me~" She sings, sounding far to happy for the situation at hand.
  
  Then, before I can even get close enough to her that I can join the fight, I have to watch as the two ribbons that ripped that guy in half both drop the body and instead wrap themselves around Morrigan's shoulders.
  
  I'd never heard a bear scream before, but that is what happens as Tear starts to pull Morrigan apart.
  
  However, before she can get too injured, Morrigan transforms once again, turning her body into a crow and trying to fly away.
  
  "Gotcha.~" Comes Tears sadistically joyful voice as a third tail snaps out like a whip at Morrigan's crow body, the foul material cutting through flesh with ease until Morrigan's body reforms as a corpse, cut in two sides that hit the ground with a wet slap.
  
  "Woahhh~ did you guys see that! That bird just turned into a person!~ Hahaha!" The madwoman gasps and points as if she isn't the one here killing us.
  
  With a scream, Ba'al launches a slew of bolts at the insane Clown, but she dodges each and every one of them with simple side steps and leaning out of the way as she runs up to him, making him take panicking steps backwards.
  
  Meanwhile, I can only stand and watch as the demon gets closer, knowing that a horrible fate awaits me if she gets to me.
  
  Ba'al doesn't last more than a few seconds once she gets in arms reach of him, as she simply moved her arms to his neck so fast that they blurred, and then simply snapped his neck with no preamble.
  
  "Ahhh~ that felt nice~", she sighs, before turning back to me, the only other person left, everyone else having died or ran away, "and then there were two.~"
  
  Dear god.
  
  Please save me.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  How much wood could a wood chuck chuck? According to Thomas, 700lbs on a good day with the wind at their backs.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  29 Interlude: Noah Balvan
  If you'd asked Noah what it was like to be a PRT director a month ago, he would have said how the work was tough but rewarding and that compared to the other directors, he has it easy.
  
  That would have been the case one month ago.
  
  Now however, is a completely different story.
  
  It's the middle of the night on christmas day, and while Noah 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 be spending what little free time he has with his lovely wife Mary and his adorable little boy James.
  
  Instead, he found himself the unhappy recipient of a phone call for an emergency meeting despite the fact that he was already in bed and ready for a good nights sleep.
  
  Which is why he is now walking into one of the PRT buildings' many meeting rooms with still dishevelled hair and hastily put on clothes.
  
  As he enters the room, he gives up on trying to tie his tie, and just lets it hang around his neck. Hopefully, it will help drive home the point that he would much rather be in bed right now.
  
  But with his job being what it is, work takes priority over everything else. Inside the room he looks around to see who's present.
  
  He first notices Tiamat's draconic head which is looking as vaguely dissatisfied as usual as well as Kitsune, or Yumiko since she hasn't bothered to wear her costume.
  
  Because, in her words 'It's christmas. The villains will be busy killing each other today so it's not like we'll have anything to do anyway'. It is slightly annoying that no one could really refute her words, but considering this meeting, it's likely that she wasn't actually right for once.
  
  Other than those two, there is another pair of Heroes present in the Arthurian duo, formally trio, of Excalibur and Avalon.
  
  They are both as quite as usual, still having not moved on from their leader, Arthur's tragic death.
  
  The other capes are all busy with either patrolling the busy streets or, in the case of the Wards, enjoying some time off with their families.
  
  Other than the parahumans present, there is also the Deputy Director James, who just so happens to share the same name as Noah's son.
  
  "Alright, I'm here. Now get to the point so I can get back to bed." Noah demands as he takes his seat at the head of the table.
  
  Not batting an eye at his grumpy boss, Deputy Director James taps on his tablet a few times before the rooms projector blinks on and everyone's eyes move to the wall where images are now being displayed.
  
  "This is CCTV footage that was captured approximately two hours ago, at 2200 hours." Deputy James says as the video starts playing.
  
  In the grainy footage, it's hard to see what is happening properly.
  
  One can barely make out some flashes of varying colours at the edge of the screen. All said, the video was rather uninformative, making everyone look at James in confusion.
  
  "About two hours ago, a group of Red Branch members, including several capes, were assaulted and for the most part, killed. The only footage we have of the incident is this."
  
  A wave of frowns spread across the room with the exception of Yumiko, who is still on her phone, and Tiamat, who looks like a dragon, so who really knows what face she's making.
  
  "Do we know who killed them? For that matter, how do you even know how many capes were present?" Avalon asks.
  
  However, James simply grimaces instead of properly responding, before tapping a few more times on his tablet and speaking again.
  
  "Because that video 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 have been all the information we had. However that is not the case, and I am unsure if it is a good thing or not."
  
  With that said, a new video shows up on the wall, showing a freeze frame of a close up shot of a mask.
  
  The mask itself is obviously fashioned in the style of a clown, with the big red nose painted in the middle as well as a pair of upside down red hearts over the eyes, with a matching pair of thin black triangles pointing down from the eyes. Other than that, the mask is bare white, with nothing denoting a mouth.
  
  James gestures to the projection as he speaks further.
  
  "A little less than two hours ago, at 2210 this video was released on various sites online, most notably through a new PHO account that was created only minutes before the video was posted by a man calling himself the Fool."
  
  With that, he hits play on his tablet, and the video starts rolling.
  
  "He~llooo people of America! I am the fool, and today, I have quite the video for youuu. Take a look!"
  
  The now named Fool shouts as the video cuts to show a familiar night street.
  
  What follows, is one of the goriest fights that anyone at the table had ever seen, as the cities newest vigilante 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 rips through a group of Red Branch members, including a pair of capes who didn't seem to even slow her down, never mind diminish the showmanship she was showing.
  
  For a little longer than two minutes, the people present watched as Tear danced around the group of men, twirling, spinning and jumping, even bowing theatrically as she landed on Morrigan's bear like form.
  
  The video ends with Tear standing in front of the lone Equaliser, and as she leans forward slightly and blows a kiss, the screen cuts back to Fool's face.
  
  "By golly! What a scary video!", Fool gasps, putting a hand on his heart as he leans back, pretending to be afraid, only to suddenly stop the act and turn back to the camera.
  
  "Isn't it funny that in the past two years, the PRT hasn't removed a single villain from this city, yet all it took was one vigilante a month and a half to get rid of five?~ What a laugh!" He ends with a shout, before laughing in a loud, fake laugh that sounds more like someone just saying the word 'Ha' repeatedly.
  
  Then, without any preamble, the video simply ends, the screen turning to black.
  
  Silence prevails in the room as everyone processes what they just saw.
  
  It's bad enough that a video like that is now circulating online, but the worst parts are how it not only seems to be the debut of a new cape, but one who clearly isn't friends with the PRT.
  
  Noah is the one to break the tense silence, bringing everyone's eyes to his own, even Yumiko understands that now isn't a time to be playing on her phone and pays attention.
  
  "Do we have any leads on who this Fool is?" Comes Noah's terse voice.
  
  Unfortunately his only response is James shaking his head.
  
  "Not a clue." Naturally, a more detailed explanation as to how they know nothing will be given later, but the 'what' is more of a priority than the 'why'.
  
  "And the vigilante, Tear? was it? I thought she disappeared. Do we have any ideas why she's back now?" Noah asks, continuing his interrogation.
  
  "Nothing definitive, but it might not be a coincidence that her disappearance and reappearance happened to coincide with that of the Yamori family of Fallen."
  
  This peaks Tiamat's interest enough that the typically taciturn dragon woman speaks out her own question. "Then, are you implying that the mess we found in the bunker those Fallen were living in was the result of this vigilante?"
  
  She asks in a voice that is surprisingly human considering her face, which has no doubt been a great disappointment to many people.
  
  It's understandable that she is focusing on that aspect of the information revealed, as Tiamat doesn't get to 'stretch her legs' so to speak, very often since her power requires a rather large amount of collateral damage.
  
  But since the Fallen were both out of city limits and, well, 𝘍𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯, she was given the green light to go all out and she was looking forward to it.
  
  Only to be disappointed as all that was left behind was an empty abode and a whole lot of drying blood.
  
  "That is our assumption, the main thing that is calling doubt is the fact that we had assumed that the eradication of the Yamori branch of Fallen was done by a group, as even if they aren't one of the notable Fallen branches, for one person to eliminate them all is certainly not possible for a cape with the ratings we had assigned to Tear."
  
  James' response just gets a derisive snort out of Tiamat as she turns to glare at Yumiko, who only spares her a disinterested glance before pulling her phone back out and going back to ignoring everyone.
  
  "Looks like you were wrong Yumi. I thought you 'had an eye for this sort of thing' hm?" Tiamat goads.
  
  However, as with all verbal bouts, Yumiko remains unphased as her bored voice sounds out.
  
  "Hmmm. Guess I was wrong then. If she was captured by the Yamori, and subsequently escaped via murdering them all, then her Changer and Brute ratings can probably be bumped up to a six each." She says with a shrug, not even looking up at Tiamat even as she glares in return.
  
  "Indeed", Noah interrupts, forestalling the approaching one-sided argument, "put through a request for reassessment of Tear's threat rating, with a recommendation of Changer and Brute 6, Thinker 1 and we might as well bump her Mover rating up to 2 while we're at it."
  
  With that said, Noah waits for his deputy to finish noting things down before continuing.
  
  "Do we have any idea how Red Branch is planning on responding, or how many people have seen the video and their reactions?"
  
  Coughing lightly to clear his throat, James looks back at his trust tablet and starts reading out reports.
  
  "So far we don't know how Red Branch is going to respond, as the video is still new. We will likely have an answer tomorrow and it's assumed that with the same person taking away a third of their capes by themselves that Cu Chulainn is likely to make an example of her himself. It's also likely that Cath will come out so that they can show that they still have fangs, otherwise the other gangs would probably try something, thinking them weak."
  
  Noah groans and palms his face at the thought of all the conflict that is about to break out, all because of a single cape doing what she wants.
  
  "As for the video itself, it already has a decent amount of views, a number that is still growing. The response is widely split, with a number of people condemning the PRT for being ineffective and praising Tear for enacting 'justice' on the villains and that number would probably be higher if not for the simple fact that her... proclivities when it comes to violence have turned off a lot of people from supporting her."
  
  Noah Grimaces behind his hand at the reminder of the very gruesome video he just watched.
  
  "However the majority of responses seem to be a mix between condemning Tear and calling for us to bring her in, either for reformation or imprisonment is debated."
  
  With a deep sigh, Noah resolves himself to do his job properly, no matter how much sleep he has to sacrifice.
  
  "Tiamat", said dragon woman perks up slightly at Noah's address, "until I say otherwise, you are to patrol around Red Branches less populated territories. We need you ready to respond in case either of their big hitters decide to come out to play."
  
  Now, Noah isn't someone who can cold read dragons, but he is fairly certain that it is a glint of satisfaction that flashes through her eyes at his words.
  
  Or maybe she's just hungry, who knows really.
  
  Sighing once more, Noah goes about giving orders and preparing is subordinates for the shitstorm that is likely on it's way.
  
  𝘐𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘦 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘺, 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘵?
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Just watched Riddick again for like the fifth time. I don't know why I like it so much since it's really not that good, prolly just a nostalgia thing.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  30 Prep
  After finally getting sweet sweet vengeance, I went home and rested for a day, just chilling with mini James as he tried and failed to explain the science behind his drug to me.
  
  At some point I got a call from Jinx, or Fool, as he decided to name himself, which 𝘪𝘴 admittedly a fitting name for him, considering his power.
  
  Overall, I'd say he sounded much more chipper than when we first met. It seems that playing around and enjoying the suffering of others was all he needed to get out of his funk.
  
  That's nice I guess.
  
  I also watched the video he posted of me kicking ass, that was cool. Especially so because I apparently have fans now. Pretty wild huh?
  
  But other than that, I'm getting bored again, even though it's only been a day.
  
  I just feel a little antsy, not to mention my back has been itching all over for a while now, and it's only gotten worse today, so I just feel like I should be doing something, but I'm not sure what.
  
  Part of me just wants to get in another fight, but with someone who can actually fight back this time.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  A shiver passes through my body as pain and pleasure caress my mind, bringing my attention to my hand where I have just broken one of my fingers with my thumb.
  
  Guess I got a little exited at the thought.
  
  I'm pretty sure all the torture turned me into a light masochist, just as a way of handling the pain.
  
  Ah well, who would say no to a little extra pleasure?
  
  Speaking of, I get up and leave mini James to his tinkering as I head down to the basement.
  
  It's not a very large room, plain with concrete walls.
  
  The only thing in the room is a single chair, inside of which sits a single man, bound and blindfolded, muttering incoherently to himself.
  
  Oh yeah, when I said I was 'resting' for the day, what I actually meant was that I was educating my good friend Equaliser on 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺 what his little stunt put me through.
  
  "How far did you manage to count?" I ask, echoing my memories with Jason.
  
  As he stutters out a response that I don't even bother listening to, I walk up to him, getting blood all over my feet from the pool of it around the chair.
  
  Taking a good look at him, I mentally lament the fact that he doesn't share my regenerative capabilities, because he looks like a mess and I know that he isn't going to get any better.
  
  For one, he simply lacks his hands and feet, both appendages ending in stumps.
  
  His face is also unrecognisable, covered in cuts from when his face got all bruised and swollen, so I just cut all the swollen flesh off.
  
  I really do wish he had regeneration, then I could use him like an infinite food generator, unfortunately he is unlikely to last past tomorrow.
  
  I guess I went a little bit overboard.
  
  Oh well, it's not like it's all my fault. After all, I brought little James down here for an anatomy lesson, not to mention a little bit of bonding over light torture and unethical medical practices.
  
  That's the reason he is missing some organs, his torso left open to the world, or at least to anyone in the basement.
  
  Turns out, James can do more than anti-power drugs, as our little experimentation devise has told us.
  
  We think that it's more like an 'anti-something' drug specialisation, such as anti-inhibition, or anti-pain tolerance.
  
  I'm personally quite the fan of the latter one.
  
  Still, he has kind of stopped providing useful test results for little James, and I'm bored of him.
  
  He doesn't even scream anymore, not to mention that just doing the same thing over and over again simply isn't fun.
  
  But just as I'm crouched in front of him, about to put him out of his misery and allow the rest of his body to join his hands in my stomach, I am suddenly struck by inspiration.
  
  I have decided how to have fun!
  
  Ohhh~ and it's going to be a good one.
  
  Hehehuehehaha.
  
  Ahh~ it's all coming together in my mind.~
  
  Alright!
  
  "Looks like you get to live a little while longer Sean, lucky you.~"
  
  With that, I head back out of the basement, ready to set some serious machinations into play.
  
  Ok, it's not actually 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 complicated, especially since some people have already watched the video of my massacre and have spotted a little something at the end.
  
  See, I wasn't just blowing kisses for fun, though that was part of the reason, but I actually had a needle with James' anti-power drug in my mouth, and I spat it out when I blew the kiss.
  
  By now, people have already replayed the video in slow motion at the end and seen the needle, meaning there is already speculation online that Equaliser is still alive and kicking.
  
  Well, he is alive at least, to say he's kicking might be wishful thinking however.
  
  Point is, I have leverage right now.
  
  Both the bigger gangs have taken hits from me, Red Branch much more so, meaning neither of them like me very much.
  
  Now, the Red's will probably be wanting my guest back, since their numbers have taken enough of a hit that without the fact I already got one of them, they would have the same number of capes as Street Saints.
  
  Now, obviously I can't fight the whole gang at once, but that's fine, because I don't want to even do any fighting with my genius plan.
  
  After all, the heroes are Heroes, so they will naturally fight the big bad villains in my place, the only question is how to get it to happen.
  
  But! Just Red Branch against the PRT isn't very fair for the bad guys, so I have a plan to get Street Saints involved as well and it's actually quite simple.
  
  I'm just gonna kidnap one of their capes, that way they are both competing for the same prize.
  
  Now the only question is who I'm going to nab, not that it really matters, so long as it isn't the leader.
  
  Fortunately, this is why we make friends in the first place, I think as I bring out my burner phone that is exclusively for Clown business and send Fool a text that I will be popping by the bar later.
  
  After all, even with the assurance of burner phones, you can never be too careful with all the bullshit and random powers out there.
  
  Hell, there's even that rogue Alexander who is some kind of weird ass Tinker that makes living jars that he calls 'Warrior Jars'.
  
  Honestly, the fact that he's even survived as a rogue in this city is probably just because a lot of the people find the little jars cute so no one wants to destroy them.
  
  Anyway, I make it back to the front room to see that little James has disassembled the TV again and I am not even going to bother stealing a new one this time.
  
  It's a good thing that I spend most of my free time playing solitaire anyway.
  
  "Yo virgin, in your unprofessional opinion, how long would you give our guest before he kicks the bucket if we leave him alone?"
  
  My sudden question brings little James' attention away from the weird science voodoo magic he was doing and he immediately frowns and asks his own question instead of answering mine.
  
  "What the fuck does virgin mean?" He asks, visibly puzzled.
  
  Right, he doesn't know all the words yet. I should buy him a dictionary or something, that's basically equivalent to going to school.
  
  Wait a minute.
  
  "Do you want to go to school?" I blurt out.
  
  He looks at me strangely for my non sequitur answer, which is slightly hypocritical but who's counting?
  
  "Not really? Why would I want to hang around with a bunch of kids?" He asks, seeming genuinely confused.
  
  "Oh, I don't know, maybe cuz you're also a kid? Also you can learn useless stuff, like trigonometry and shit."
  
  To be completely honest, I don't actually know what trigonometry means, since I did drop out of high school.
  
  "No, that sounds boring." He decides after a moment thinking, and I can't really fault the reasoning.
  
  "Fair enough", I say with a shrug, "anyway, a virgin is someone who hasn't had sex yet."
  
  My explanation makes him smile slightly while furrowing his brows.
  
  "Is it supposed to be an insult?" He queries.
  
  Rolling my eyes I answer honestly, "Yes."
  
  That just makes him huff out a breath.
  
  "Why would I be insulted by that? Sex sounds gross, I'd much rather stay a virgin." He says with a scrunched up face.
  
  I let out a soft laugh at his words and bring out one of my phones, putting it on record and pointing it at him.
  
  "Can you say that again? For future reference?" I try to hide my eagerness, but I don't think I succeed too well if the look he sends me is anything to go by.
  
  However, being a dumb kid, he just shrugs and repeats himself.
  
  I am going to show him this video so, so many times once he hits puberty.
  
  Just thinking about his reactions sends me into a fit of giggles that is only broken by his voice that stops me dead and fills my veins with ice.
  
  "Are you a virgin?" He asks in an innocent voice that certainly doesn't feel innocent.
  
  "Moving on! About what I asked earlier, how long would you give Sean?" I ask, expertly changing the conversation in a way that surely no one would be able to notice.
  
  Thankfully, the loser virgin actually answers my question directly this time.
  
  "I'unno, maybe a couple days? I mean, if I treated him he could probably just survive, even if he'll need prosthetics, and I don't know how to make those."
  
  Huh, it must look a lot worse than it is then, because I would have given him a few hours.
  
  Then again, I am not a medical professional and my Thinker power only really tells me how to best kill whatever I'm looking at, and even then it's not like I 𝘴𝘦𝘦 anything per say, it's more just like killer instinct.
  
  "Cool, would you mind patching him up then? I kinda need him to be alive for something fun I'm cooking up." I say, happy that things are working out so far, even if it's literally the first step in my plan that is still gaining steps.
  
  Mini James practically jumps to his feet as he runs over to me and begins shaking me by my arm.
  
  "Really!? I'll only do it if you let me come this time!" He shouts, clearly still upset that I told Fool about my last stunt but not him.
  
  Thinking on it for a moment, I decide that it will probably be fine to dump him on Fool to watch over, after all, my vague plan that I am concocting is likely to leave me unavailable for a bit.
  
  "Sure, I'll introduce you Fool, the current final member of our little band of friends. You can watch with him." I decide.
  
  "YATTA!" He suddenly yells, confusing me.
  
  "What?"
  
  He turns to me with a dumb smile as he moves to gather the equipment necessary to keep Equalise alive.
  
  "Yatta? I saw it on TV!" He exclaims before running off downstairs with a bag full of tools.
  
  Shrugging, I decide to just ignore that and move on, heading for the backdoor so I can make my way over to Helter Skelter, making sure to have my costume packed away in my bag, just in case.
  
  First thing first, I need Jinx's help in finding a Street Saint that I can nab, then I will only really need one more piece of info and the games can truly begin in earnest.
  
  𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯'𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵~
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I am not that good at tetris and want to be better
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  31 Interlude: Jinx
  Life had been pretty shitty all round for the man formally known as Lachlan.
  
  Born to a happy middle class family of immigrants, his life was set up to be pretty good right from the start.
  
  That was until he turned six and contracted some disease that he was never told the name of.
  
  Luckily there 𝘸𝘢𝘴 a known cure for it, unfortunately however, the treatment was incredibly expensive.
  
  However, his parents being as loving as they were, did not hesitate to pay that cost, falling into a lifelong debt. Shortly after that, his father happened to loose his job to to clerical error.
  
  This meant that his mother had to stop being a housewife and get a job as a waitress while his father tired his best to find proper work again, ending up being a simple office worker as no one would hire him for anything better.
  
  Then, by pure happenstance there was a gas explosion in the neighbour's house while they were out celebrating Lachlan's seventh birthday and their house ended up burning down in collateral.
  
  With both of his parents' new incomes not even matching his fathers' old income, they couldn't get a good house and ended up having to move to the poorest neighbourhood, even having to sell their car just to pay for the deposit.
  
  Because of this, they went from middle class to lower class and eventually to poverty as even with a double salary, it wasn't enough to pay for everything.
  
  But life goes on.
  
  Until it doesn't.
  
  By the time Lachlan turned thirteen, with his family firmly in poverty and no way out in sight, tragedy struck again as his father, who was on his way back from work at the time, got hit by a bus after it bounced off of a pothole and onto the path he was walking down, ending his life immediately.
  
  Not a month later, and his mother joined his father in the afterlife after being struck by lightning in a freak storm, leaving him alone and destitute.
  
  That was when he triggered.
  
  Everyone believes that his power is an aura of misfortune, and he won't do anything to dissuade that idea, but Lachlan was pretty sure that wasn't actually his power.
  
  He believed that his power simply made everyone else equally as misfortunate as himself.
  
  Thus, he threw away his name, the final tether he had with his old life, and took on the name Jinx, for that is what he is.
  
  What followed was many long years of struggle, only made marginally better by being more experienced dealing with his own bad luck than anyone he came across, allowing him to eke out a living, eventually becoming an information broker.
  
  Not a very successful one, naturally.
  
  However, after all this time, it seems that fortune finally decided to smile on him for once as on one average day, madness walked into his bar.
  
  Since then, he's never been happier.
  
  At first he was sceptical, doubting.
  
  After all, the woman who walked into his bar was most definitely insane, not to mention incredibly scary, all without seeming to properly realise it.
  
  After all, there have been a number of people over the years who have offered Jinx a job. They have all either died or their organisations have fallen apart.
  
  Eventually people learned to simply stop hiring him.
  
  But then Tear shows up, offering him not a job but what basically amounts to a friendship.
  
  But he was bored and alone enough that he was willing to take even the slightest chance at feeling joy once again.
  
  He certainly hasn't come to regret his decision so far.
  
  After he accepted her offer, he honestly expected her to die the next day, for her little quest for revenge would have some unexpected twist that would kill her.
  
  Yet, she survived. Not only that, but she gave a good show while she was at it.
  
  After suffering for his entire life, it would be a lie for Jinx to say that he doesn't enjoy seeing someone else getting the short end of the stick for once.
  
  Getting a chance to plat the 'Fool' was something that Jinx enjoyed a lot as, for the first time in forever, he had an actual reason to be expressive.
  
  Then, only a day after the fact, he gets a message from Tear, saying how she would be coming over as well as something about 'the games finally beginning in earnest'.
  
  Which leads to now, with Jinx staring into Tear's very unnerving crimson orbs through her masks eyeholes, with a single thought running through his head.
  
  𝘚𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 is 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘦.
  
  Heh.
  
  I suppose she wouldn't be so fun if she was sane, would she?
  
  "So what you're saying is, you want to kidnap yet another villain. I can get that at least, but your next step after that one. All I can say is, 𝘸𝘩𝘺?" I ask with all the incredulity I can muster.
  
  "Because~", she intones with her typical carefree tone, "it's the only way to make a good, proper show for you to enjoy!~"
  
  I find it amusing that she is even pretending that she is doing this for any reason other than her own crippling boredom.
  
  Honestly, I kind of doubt that she is going to live that long. I just get the feeling that her boredom is going to kill her sooner or later.
  
  Still, I can't exactly argue against it, because not only does it sound like an amazing show to watch, as she said, but her plan 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 actually seem feasible the way she has it.
  
  With that in mind, I simply sigh instead of responding.
  
  "Oh! Also, I'll introduce to you the currently only other member of our little group so that you can watch him while I'm occupied." She says, as if just remembering something important.
  
  Honestly, I'm hesitant to believe anything she says is as simple as she puts it, since even if I haven't known her for long, one thing I know for sure is that Tear doesn't do 'simple'.
  
  "... when you say 'watch him'. What exactly do you mean by that?" I ask, and I just know that beneath her mask she is grinning at me when she answers.
  
  "Exactly what I said dummy~ he is after all, only like, eight-ish.~"
  
  A moment passes in silence as we stare at each other in a game of chicken to see who will break first.
  
  Naturally, I can't compete with insanity, so I decide to just ignore what she just said and pretend I never asked.
  
  "So, do you have any idea on who specifically you wanna nab?" I ask, getting the conversation back on track.
  
  She puts her chin in her palm for a moment, seeming considering and I have no idea if she is actually considering or if she has already made a decision and is simply doing this for the theatrics of it.
  
  Like I've said, madness is impossible to predict.
  
  "I was thinking that shadow guy, since he's pretty weak during the day, which is when I want the show to start, so him being gone would have the least impact on everything."`
  
  You know, it really annoys me that she is actually smart, because she seems so 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘪𝘥 most of the time that I forget it and I'm pretty sure she doesn't do it on purpose.
  
  It's like she is really smart but chose to just be stupid instead for some reason.
  
  Then again, I could totally see her saying something like 'knowing everything is boring, I'd rather be stupid so everything is a surprise, cuz it's more fun that way!~'.
  
  Yeah, that's definitely something she'd say.
  
  "Aight then, I can probably help you out, but you'll have to wait a day or two, since most information regarding peoples locations have turned useless, what with everything being shuffled around to account for the chaos you've already caused, so I'll have to do some sniffing around."
  
  Even though it wasn't really a compliment, I can tell that she took it as one. Not that I blame her really, because she was right. It really 𝘪𝘴 fun to watch the chaos and know that you played a part in causing it.
  
  "Speaking of", she starts, sounding oddly cautious, if only slightly, "I was thinking about that. Eventually I'm going to leave Columbus for the wider world, because I don't believe there should be more than two Clowns operating in any one city. After all, we may accidentally get in the way of the others' fun, so we should all have our own playgrounds. So I was wondering if you could go national with your information gathering?"
  
  Ah, that's why she's slightly cautious.
  
  Because she truly 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 just want to have fun, and not just that, she wants me to have to fun too, now that I am a 'Clown' as well, so she's worried that she'll be asking me to do something I don't enjoy.
  
  Heh, jokes on her. The whole reason I became an information broker was just because I love snooping through peoples stuff.
  
  "Sure, I mean I kind of already do it a little, so it's not a problem to actually focus on what's going on in other major cities, rather than just reading peoples emails and stuff." I say with a shrug.
  
  "Yatta!" Tear suddenly shouts, pumping one of her fists into the air like she's striking a pose, or doing the shoryuken from street fighter or something.
  
  The silence that follows her outburst is loud and awkward as she just stands there with her fist raised and I don't really know what to say.
  
  Eventually, the silence gets to be too much, and I end up blurting out my confusion.
  
  "What?"
  
  As if the silence was holding her hostage, she only drops her pose after I spoke before bringing a finger to her chin, pondering.
  
  "James said it earlier. Apparently he saw it on TV and I'm not sure if it's actually, like, a word, or if it's just supposed to be an exclamation, like 'oohrah', you know?"
  
  She speaks as if discussing a great mystery and I respond without thinking too much.
  
  "It's probably the latter I'd guess, considering the obvious context."
  
  She nods along with my words and plants one of her fists in the others palm.
  
  "Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Anyway, imma head out now. See ya tomorrow!"
  
  And with that, she's gone, only tripping over the floorboards once, leaving me alone once more.
  
  Sighing to myself, I look over to the counter holding all the bottles of booze and consider for a moment.
  
  ..Nah, I should find out where Shade is going to be tomorrow instead.
  
  After all, with his power that makes him stronger in shadows, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out when he's going to be out, the only real problem is the where.
  
  Welp, time to get to work I suppose.
  
  ...
  
  Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city a certain man is sitting down, playing games on his phone as he sits through the 'night shift'.
  
  After all, his power is only at it's best during the night.
  
  𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨, the man thinks.
  
  All this extra work just because of one vigilante screwing with the cities power balance.
  
  Those Irish pricks have been going wild since that video got out and it's probably only going to get worse over the next few days.
  
  At the very least, it means our rivals are weaker, so we should be able to take more territory and make more money, so silver linings and all that.
  
  Though honestly, I don't think it's really much to worry about, after all, the vigilante is basically already dead, Cu won't just let her go after all, and meanwhile I don't really have to worry about anything, since I'm likely to only be fighting normals and it's not like they can do anything against me.
  
  All the while, I will be making more and more money, I think with a smile.
  
  Yes, life is looking up for the man known as Shade.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Heh, Dramatic Irony.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  32 It Begins 2 Electric Boogaloo
  After getting his location from Fool, it wasn't all that difficult to capture Shade.
  
  After all, even though he gets stronger by absorbing the darkness around him, he can only peak at about as strong as Siegfried and I'd say that's about as strong as I am, except I have twice as many limbs, so it wasn't much of a struggle.
  
  I didn't really know where to put him, so I just used one of the other empty rooms in the house we were staying at.
  
  It's not like we used all the bedrooms after all. Both of us hardly even sleep anyway, with little James tinkering all the time and me exercising and playing solitaire.
  
  I also decided to snack a little on Shade, after all, he'll be much less inclined to run away if he doesn't have any hands or feet.
  
  But with the both of them captured, I can finally move onto my next step, and I'd better be quick about it because the city has turned into a boiling pot and I have to set my play into motion before people just start fighting anyway.
  
  Which is why I am here, four days after my happy christmas, walking into the cities biggest bank in my full costume during the middle of the day.
  
  Naturally, as soon as I enter everyone's attention immediately snaps to the cape, me, and I respond by unleashing a pair of tails and spearing them into the middle of the floor before using them as a pair of legs and raising myself into the air.
  
  Hanging in air, I look down at the people below me who are in varying states of emotion that rapidly becomes more unified as I speak.
  
  "Attention everyone!~ I am robbing this bank.~" I say, enjoying the way everyone's faces simultaneously become doused in fear.
  
  Some people make a break for it, running for the door and screaming all the while and because the sound was piercing and annoying, I sprout a third tail and 𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘮 it through the ground in front of the loudest of the runners.
  
  The sound of the impact echoes through the room and brings silence and stillness that I immediately fill with my own voice.
  
  "Now then~ there's no need to scream like a dying pig, good sir~ that being said, if you do wish to leave the building, you are free to do so~ I won't stop you.~" I say, making confusion join fear in the range of emotions being shown.
  
  Slowly and tentatively, someone starts edging towards the front door, everyone's eyes on him the whole time, including my own.
  
  Seeing that I am not stopping him, he gets more confident and when he actually makes it to the door, he simply turns into a dead sprint and runs away.
  
  The fact that I really didn't stop him makes everyone else significantly less afraid and they immediately begin funnelling out the door.
  
  Well, I say funnelling, but it's more like a stampede, one that could very easily trample and hurt someone.
  
  Now normally, I wouldn't care. However, I do need to make a proper impression for my plan, which means no injuries.
  
  With that in mind, I simply speak up, projecting my voice so that they all hear me.
  
  "Oi. If any of you dimwits hurt someone else in your rush to leave, then I will break your legs.~" I say, my voice starting dry and ending sweet.
  
  The crowd stops almost as one, a few of them looking back at me in fear before they start moving again, much more orderly this time.
  
  Once the last civilian is out of the door, I am left alone with two pairs of security guards.
  
  "Hey boys~ your job not let you leave in situations like this huh?" I say as I lower myself down until I am standing on a central table, following which I just take a seat on its edge, my tails laid out on the ground behind me.
  
  The guards look at each other for a moment, their hands not leaving the tasers at their sides before one of them smiles wryly at me.
  
  "Perks of the job Miss." He says with a shrug.
  
  "Dang, sounds tough. I woulda thought that you'd have some rule about not bothering to fight capes, kinda like the whole thing about tellers doing what the robbers say, since the 'boys upstairs' hate paying for lawsuits and stuff."
  
  Visibly confused about my conversationalism, I see the guards acting unsure about how to proceed.
  
  I mean, I do get it. I said I was here to rob the bank, so they're supposed to be 'subduing' me, but not only am I a cape, so they know they don't stand a chance at stopping me, but I am also just sitting here talking with them.
  
  Deciding to throw them a bone for what to do, I speak up again.
  
  "Well, I kinda do need hostages, as an assurance, so Imma 'beat you guys up' now, you know how it is." I say with a wink.
  
  As my words register, each of them pulls out their tasers, however I am simply too fast for them as by the time their tasers are out of their holsters, I am already among the group.
  
  I run past the first man, grabbing the back of his vest and throwing him at another guard, then I rush up to another and drive my fist lightly into his gut, making it seem worse than it is so I can lean into his ear.
  
  "Just stay down." I whisper, and I hear him comply as his body hits the ground while I'm turning to the final guard, who shoots me with his taser.
  
  I feel the current run through me, but rather than debilitation, Id more describe it as a pleasant sensation.
  
  With him doing that, I just run up and punch him, once again slowing down at the point of impact to make it seem worse than it is.
  
  He goes down and starts an Oscar worthy performance of groaning in pain.
  
  Walking up to the first guy, who is also pretending to be downed, I lean down and start dragging him to the middle of the room, whispering to him.
  
  "Do you know where any rope I can use to tie you guys up is?"
  
  He just responds by shaking his head, which sucks, but then I get an idea as I see a pair of curtains covering a window.
  
  Five minutes later and four (totally) incapacitated guards are tied up by a few curtains in the middle of the room.
  
  I really feel for these guys, having to pretend to be beaten up so that their bosses can't complain about them not doing their jobs properly once he eventually looks through the camera footage.
  
  With that out of the way, I move to the end of the room, farthest away from the door, idly taking a handful of bills from behind one of the counters as I go.
  
  Then I just jump up onto the counter, sit cross-legged, my side facing the entrance, and I take out a deck of cards and start playing solitaire.
  
  What? I'm not just going to sit here whistling while I wait for the heroes.
  
  𝘚𝘩𝘸𝘪𝘱, goes the cards as I flip them over.
  
  The next four minutes are spent simply playing cards and it's as I'm finishing up my second game that the sound of a 'Heroic arrival' outside garners my attention.
  
  And sure enough, the next moment there is a pair of heroes heroically flying through the banks entrance with heroism, only to heroically pause in heroic confusion at the villainous sight of me villainously playing solitaire as the guards sit together tied up, uh, civilianally?
  
  Shaking off distracting thoughts, the woman of the two floats a little closer to me before not quite shouting at me.
  
  "Tear! You are under arrest! Please come quietly or we will bring you in by force!" She demands threat- I mean, uh, heroically.
  
  However, I merely smile deviously underneath my mask, for it is now that I shall enact my master plan.
  
  My three tails sway rhythmically behind me, their solid forms looking deceptively fragile with the liquid like texture that colours their purplish hues as I slowly get to my feet on the countertop.
  
  As I rise, I keep my head bowed as I let out a chuckle that is dark and foreboding.
  
  Only once I am on my feet, do I look up at the pair of Heroes, my eyes glowing their crimson shine.
  
  Slowly and dramatically raising my arms up from my sides, I open my mouth.
  
  "I...
  
  [5 minutes earlier]
  
  "Come on PalPal, won't you lighten up a little bit? If you keep being so impersonal you'll scare all your fans away you know?" I tease as we fly around Columbus.
  
  I know we aren't likely to find any trouble today, since our analysts say that the gangs are practically gearing up for war, and we are currently in the 'eye of the storm' so to speak.
  
  Whether or not that will stay the same tomorrow is anyone's guess though.
  
  "I have 𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 you Epic, don't call me that. My name is Ashurbanipal and if you must shorten it then just call me Ash. Also I don't care about having fans, I'm a Hero, not some celebrity." Comes her predictably boring response.
  
  I swear, it's like the woman just can't lighten up.
  
  It's no real surprise that she hardly has any fans, or just people that like her in general.
  
  It kind of sucks that I have to do patrols with her just because we are the only flyers on the side of the angels in this city.
  
  I'd much rather do my patrol with someone fun, like Lost.
  
  Though to be fair, there is a reason that Lost patrols alone, since his power causes him to get lost all the time.
  
  But when his power turns him into light, it's understandable that he gets lost all the time, since one moment he will be walking forward, then he will use his power for half a second and will have suddenly moved at the speed of light and lapped the planet like six times, ending up somewhere random.
  
  I swear his photo album has pictures from every country in the world.
  
  I suppose one positive is that he has had to learn a whole lot of languages.
  
  As I am opening my mouth to continue teasing PalPal in a vain attempt to make her less stiff, my communicator goes off, attracting my attention.
  
  "Console to Epic, we've got a report of a bank robbery in progress due south of your location." Comes Cousin's voice, making me nod.
  
  "Copy that Console, we're on our way", I say, motioning with my head the direction to PalPal, "any information on our perp?" I ask, wanting to go in prepared.
  
  "Yup! 'pparently it's that vigilante that's caused all this fuss, Tear. Alone."
  
  Huh, guess that's former vigilante now.
  
  Damn, it also means I owe Yumiko money now.
  
  It takes a few minutes of flying to make it to the bank and by the time we do there is already a police cordon most of the way set up and the streets instantly quieten down at the sound of the both of us impacting the ground almost hard enough to crack it.
  
  Gotta watch out for that property damage after all, no matter how much cooler it is to crack the ground with out landing. We're only allowed to do that when landing in front of criminals in order to intimidate them.
  
  Still, after we arrive a police officer makes his way over and explains the situation which summed up is that Tear went in, let most of the civilians out and is keeping the guards as hostages.
  
  Since nothing seems to be afoot and no demands have been made, we swiftly decide to simply go inside and apprehend her.
  
  However, once we fly into the building, the sight that greets us is an unexpected one. The guards are all tied up, that was expected, but the now villain wasn't robbing the place, but was just playing cards instead.
  
  This feels like a trap, is this a trap?
  
  PalPal shouts at the villainess the usual line, but she doesn't respond right away, instead, slowly getting to her feet.
  
  The way her tails sway behind her make me feel like prey being stared down by something higher on the food chain, and as her blood red eyes lock onto mine, I feel a shiver run down my spine.
  
  Then, she opens her mouth to speak.
  
  "I...
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Teehee cliffhanger :P
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  33 Sun Tzu is Wise
  "I..."
  
  The tension in the room is palpable as the Heroes await my grand proclamation.
  
  "Surrender!~" I chirp, completely ruining the mood of the room as my arms keep raising until they are in the classic surrendering pose, while my tails dissipate, returning to my body.
  
  Silence befalls the room for a moment, only broken by the man I recognise as Epic's deadpan voice.
  
  "... what." He says as I hop down from the counter, leaving my cards there.
  
  "I surrender~ you have bested me truly~ your Heroic visage is simply too intimidating for a small little villain like me, so I have surrendered in my cowardice.~"
  
  I say before dramatically holding a hand to my chest and doing a half spin, collapsing on my back as if I just got shot by an arrow in a Shakespeare play while throwing the handful of cash I grabbed earlier at Epic's face.
  
  Truly, my acting is impeccable.
  
  Unfortunately the moment is ruined by the Alexandria wannabe who huffs out a breath and puffs her chest out, as if she did something.
  
  "As you should. Now don't resist." She says as she pulls out a pair of handcuffs, and I do not resist, allowing her to pull me to my feet and start dragging me out of the bank.
  
  Epic finds his way to my other side, making for a rather impressive escort that I probably couldn't escape even if I wanted to.
  
  Good thing I don't want to escape then.
  
  "So, is this a trap?" Epic says, garnering my attention and making me smile wryly, "because this feels like a trap."
  
  𝘛𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘶𝘵.
  
  Clicking my tongue at him, I do my best to give him a look of distain, which is difficult when being woman-handled, raising my head to look down on him, even though he's taller than me.
  
  "Did you not pay 𝘢𝘯𝘺 attention to the great Sun Tzu?~ If you did you would know that he said "The wise warrior avoids the battle.", I am simply being wise~ Sun Tzu says so."
  
  Epic snorts before quickly straightening out and pretending he never broke composure.
  
  "I think you might be misinterpreting his words slightly." He says with audible amusement which I mirror.
  
  "What is there to interpret?~ He says it's wise to avoid battle, I just avoided a battle and thus I am wise.~" I say, my logic beyond refute, as proven by Epic who does not refute it, simply shaking his head instead.
  
  We make it outside the bank and are immediately assaulted by the stares on a large number of people, including the flashing of cameras from some people who I assume to be press.
  
  Almost without even thinking about it, I go to wave, only for the cuffs around my wrists to clank behind me back, stopping me and making both the Heroes heads snap towards me.
  
  Under their cautious stares I just shrug one arm before leaning slightly closer to Epic and whispering to me.
  
  "Psst hey, my hands are kind of occupied, would you mind waving to my fans for me?~"
  
  Epic's face, or what I can see of it, turns to stone, metaphorically, as he wills himself not to make any kind of expression. A brief look over my other shoulder tells me why as the girl boss is giving him a rather intense glare.
  
  Looking forward, I talk to myself under my breath, purposefully speaking loud enough that they can barely hear me anyway.
  
  "Such an intense glare~ I bet she could make bank stepping on people and making them call her mommy.~"
  
  Epic's composure breaks as be barks out a single laugh before regaining control of himself, Ashurbanipal (what a mouthful) meanwhile responds by gripping my arm hard enough that I'm pretty sure it would have turned to mush if I was a normie.
  
  Haaah~ so easy to rile up.
  
  Conversation pretty much dies out there and it's not long later that the PRT prison transport shows up and Ashpal literally throws me into the back of it, my foot catching on the edge of the van for a moment and from the feel of it, fracturing slightly, not that I so much as flinch.
  
  I could probably sue for that, not that I know anything at all about laws or how they work.
  
  I've never been one to be told what to do in the first place anyway, but needs must I suppose.
  
  A short and rather uncomfortable drive later and the doors open once again, only this time it's to the sight of a dozen PRT troopers decked out in their full gear.
  
  PRT troopers look even more intimidating than the SWAT teams do, with their featureless full face masks and black body armour, not to mention the fact that they are visible armed.
  
  Right now half of them are pointing foam guns at me that shoot out the PRT's famed containment foam, designed by Dragon herself it is said to be capable of subduing the toughest of brutes with how sticky it is and the fact that it hardens almost immediately, leaving anyone sprayed with it stuck for a good while.
  
  Speaking of being stuck, there are also three Heroes standing there with the two lines of troopers.
  
  Two of them are obviously Epic in his red suite and Banban in a more grey and boring bodysuit, both flyers just with Epic having lasers while Ashu has to beat people with her fists like a true girl boss.
  
  The other cape present surprises me slightly, as if I'm not mistaken, it is Bungee, the current leader of the Columbus Protectorate, even though his power isn't that strong.
  
  However he makes up for that by being smart and skilled, or so I've heard.
  
  Really, he doesn't look that intimidating, wearing a casual brown pants and belt combo paired with a simple white tee and matching brown jacket.
  
  Even his mask is unassuming, being just a simple looking lower face mask.
  
  If I saw him on the street, I probably wouldn't even know he's a cape.
  
  Well, that's obviously a lie since all capes smell barely palatable, so it doesn't really matter what he looks like.
  
  Still, his power is a tricky one, but it should also be easy to counter if it comes down to a fight, since his power needs physical contact as only his hands spawn the weird glowing pink substance that apparently has 'both the properties of rubber and gum'.
  
  Not to mention his power isn't exactly subtle, so I'm sure it'll be fine if we do end up in a fight, not that that's the plan.
  
  Whistling at the display, I poke my head to either side, as if looking for someone important.
  
  "My my~ don't tell me that you're all here for little old me?~ I'm honoured.~" I chirp down at them, much to their apparent dissatisfaction.
  
  Except for Epic of course, he gives me a quick smile instead, the charmer.
  
  "Indeed we are Tear, now if you would please follow us, Ashurbanipal and Epic will lead you to a cell." Bungee says, motioning with his head for me to start walking, which I do.
  
  A pair of troopers follow us as the two Heroes flank me, bringing me through several grey halls before arriving at an elevator.
  
  The elevator itself is smooth and clinical, looking very high tech, something that is further enhanced by the grid of lasers that suddenly shoot out of it's sides and wash over our bodies a few times, presumably scanning us.
  
  "So fancy~ it's like a James Bond movie.~" I whisper, garnering opposing reactions from the pair, each with one of my arms in their grasps.
  
  The elevator seemed to just close and open, the ride was so smooth that I hardly even noticed that we moved.
  
  'Banipal gives me a shove and I start moving out of the elevator, entering another hallway, this one lines with at least two doors on either side that I presume are holding cells.
  
  But not only that, there are also a metric fuck ton of laser's that are gridding and scanning the whole hallway.
  
  Honestly, it's a bit much.
  
  "There are probably more efficient bug zappers you know?" I say with a strained voice.
  
  Seriously, I compared it to a James Bond movie earlier, but that would be a sever underestimation. There really are way too many laser's here.
  
  "Acro might have gotten a bit carried away designing it." Epic says with a wry smile, only to wince as Palpal elbows him in the side behind me.
  
  "Don't engage the villain." She says, making me think that someone really needs to wrench that stick out of her ass.
  
  "No need to get jealous Ashibanipani~ you'll always hold the number one position in my heart.~" I say to no response.
  
  Dang, I was hoping for at least some kind of reaction. Then again, I don't really know what face she's making behind her visor, so maybe her eyebrows are twitching madly and she's just hiding it really well?
  
  Imma go with that, because it makes me feel better about myself.
  
  We arrive in front of a cell and the door swishes open on it's own, revealing a small room, probably only six foot by six foot with a bed that is little more than a mattress placed on a slab of folded metal while the 'toilet' could more be compared to a urinal dug into the ground while the walls are all a dull grey.
  
  How inviting.
  
  The walls are also incredibly thick, as a glance to the doorway shows me, easily a foot and a half thick.
  
  To my surprise, the pair of heroes both take a step backwards while the two troopers both move forward, one of them unlocking my cuffs while the other takes off their helmet, revealing them to be a woman.
  
  I would have been surprised, since the full body armour doesn't really give away gender, but I could smell the woman all over her.
  
  That was a strange way of phrasing that.
  
  After my hands are free, that trooper wonders off, doing whatever, while the now helmetless woman opens her mouth.
  
  "Enter the cell." She says, voice taciturn and to the point.
  
  Shrugging my shoulders in response to her professionalism, I do as told and walk into the cell, only to be surprised again as the woman walks in with me and after receiving a bundle from the now returned trooper, closes the door behind us.
  
  Alone in here with her, I can't think of what I should be doing so I panic slightly and say the first thing that comes to mind.
  
  "Don't tell me you've got a thing for bad girls?~ But we've only just met~ I'm not ready!~ But if it's you..." I say, squirming and cupping my cheeks as I twist around myself.
  
  I feel a great deal of satisfaction watching the woman struggle to retain her professionalism.
  
  "Strip." She commands, clearly falling back on her training to avoid having to think.
  
  "My~ so forward~ well, if that's what you want.~" I say as suggestively as I can, doing my darndest to be seductive.
  
  With this game in mind, I start slowly and sensually peeling off my clothes, making sure to make as much of a show of it as I possibly can.
  
  Once I start to smell the her blood rushing to her face, I count it as my win as a faint blush starts to form right as I begin stepping out of my underwear, revealing my incredibly sexy body, and that is a completely unbiased opinion I will take no criticism.
  
  "Like what you see?~" I whisper with a wink as I run one of my hands down my chest, the other poised on my hip as I lean slightly forward to properly accentuate my assets.
  
  Unfortunately, she simply powers through, relying on professionalism to ignore my words.
  
  She hands me a change of clothes. A pair of boring grey coverings consisting of a loose pair of pants and an equally lose tee.
  
  After carful deliberation, I decide not to potentially delay my grand show just for a little fun here and put on the outfit without any further teasing.
  
  "You may keep your mask, but I must inspect it first, so please put this on and then pass me your mask." She says, handing me a bag which I put over my head without fuss.
  
  Heh, jokes on you, I have double layered masks!
  
  No point in revealing that though, so I do as told, handing over my mask and putting it back on under the bag once she is done checking for whatever she is checking for.
  
  That done, I take of the bag to see the woman collecting all of my belongings and knocking on the door, only stopping to get the bag back from me before she speed walks away.
  
  Funny.
  
  Unfortunately, I don't get the chance to say anything after that as the door slams shut in front of me, leaving me alone.
  
  Not really knowing what to do, I just stand there for a moment, before simply sitting down on the 'bed'.
  
  Boredom quickly sets in and I flop backwards, hoping to get some sleep to pass the time quicker.
  
  Ten minutes later and I am coming to terms with the fact that I just got myself locked up alone without even a deck of cards to play with.
  
  How lame~ who thought this was a good idea?
  
  This sucks.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I feel like I wrote myself into a hole cuz there is so much shit happening in the chapters I'm writing rn and I have to keep track of it all :( I just know I'm gonna forget something.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  34 Interesting Conversation 2 Electric B
  After spending some time sitting around, bored out of my mind, the door to my cell eventually whirred open after maybe an hour to show yet another faceless PRT trooper pair.
  
  "Please follow us." One of them says, motioning for me to follow, which I do, not bothering with saying anything with such a lacklustre audience.
  
  A minute later and I am sitting in a slightly larger room with a single metal table welded to the floor and a chair on either side of it, with a small stack of them in the corner.
  
  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is an interrogation room, so I take a seat on one of the chairs and kick my legs up onto the table as I relax and wait for my interviewer.
  
  Honestly, I'm kind of disappointed so far, not only does my prison uniform not have the classic black bars, but this interrogation rove doesn't even have the classic one way mirror.
  
  They have no respect for tradition here.
  
  Thankfully, I don't have to wait too long before the door is opened again and I am pleasantly surprised to see the persons who enter.
  
  First through the door is Bungee, leader of the local Protectorate. He takes the seat opposite me with only a small, friendly smile as greeting.
  
  Following him is a woman that I don't recognise from sight alone, but a bit of deductive reasoning, mostly around the fact that I have met all the other women in the local Protectorate bar the dragon, and she doesn't look very draconic.
  
  Thus, I figure that the lithe Asian woman is Kitsune, with the power of 'fox fire', which from what I can gather is just normal fire but blue.
  
  Interestingly enough, Kitsune's costume is similarly casual and mundane like Bungee's is, though her mask has more decal than his, being a detailed fox mask covering her upper face, allowing me to see her neutral frown.
  
  As I am observing them, so are they observing me and as Kitsune gets a chair from the corner to join Bungee opposite me, we seem to enter a little game of who speaks first.
  
  Naturally, I like to win my games, so I wait for them to start, however they appear to be pretty willing to wait as well.
  
  It takes a minute or so of us just looking at each other before one of them speaks, though I get the feeling that it was more because it's their job rather than because they couldn't handle the silence.
  
  "I'm curious Tear. So far you activities in this city have been limited to", here he pauses, letting the silence linger as he circles one of his hands, as if trying to find the words, "𝘷𝘪𝘰𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘵 vigilantism." He finishes.
  
  Nodding along with his words, I glance to Kitsune as Bungee takes a breath to keep talking, noting how she seems to be ignoring the situation entirely, leaning her head back and staring at the ceiling.
  
  However, I do notice when her eyes glance down to meet my own and we hold a stare down for just a moment before she goes back to studying the ceiling.
  
  "But now, all of a sudden you seem to turn away from your life of vigilantism, doing a poor excuse of robbing a back just to surrender as soon as a Hero showed up. Why is that? Guilty conscience get to you?"
  
  Bungee's finishing words get an unexpected laugh out of me as soon as he says them, and I can't hold back the ridicule in my voice as I respond to him.
  
  "Guilty? Hah! What a laugh, guilty. What do I have to be guilty of?" I ask with mocking, blatantly ignoring what happened with mom, but that was a one time thing so it doesn't count.
  
  But other than that? What have I done to be guilty of? Killing murderers and criminals? They should be paying me.
  
  ... Then again, I guess there was that one guy right after mom... and those two after him.. also what I did to Equaliser might have been a bit much.
  
  But other than all those things! I'm practically a saint!
  
  "You've murdered over a dozen people in the nearly two months you've been active in Columbus." He says, voice dry and accusing at the same time.
  
  His words hang in the air for a moment as the both of them look at me expectantly, Kitsune raising a single eyebrow in a way that makes her amusement abundantly clear.
  
  In lieu of responding, I decide to ardently study the wall to my right, however, Bungee isn't done speaking.
  
  "And that's just the confirmed kills, there are another few dozen murders you are under suspicion of, making for a total of around forty dead. That's an average of more than one victim every other day."
  
  Hey now, a girls gotta eat.
  
  Heh, I'm 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 not saying that.
  
  Apparently I didn't hide my amusement at my own thoughts well enough if the sudden tightening around their eyes is anything to go by.
  
  Ah well, might as well roll with it. With that in mind, I relax back into my seat, and favour the pair of them my own amused stare.
  
  "Well, what can I say?~ I only killed bad men~ the sum total of lives lost this year has probably actually gone down a little bit by getting rid of them~ so you are welcome~ feel free to thank me anytime.~" I say with a visible smirk, raising my arms to cradle the back of my head in a picture of relaxation.
  
  Bungee frowns at my response, clearly not having as much fun as I am.
  
  I mean honestly, the excitement is getting to me a little.
  
  Logically, I know that nothing much is really happening right now, or liable to happen for a short while yet, but the anticipation is 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 me here.
  
  At least in the cell there wasn't anything to remind me of what's to come, but here it's all I can think about!
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬
  
  Ahhh~
  
  Everyone's eyes snap to my hand, hovering slightly beside my head with a freshly broken middle finger.
  
  Oops, guess I got a little too excited again.
  
  "Well anyway!" I say, changing the subject, "weren't we supposed to be talking about my vicious crime of robbing a bank and the subsequent surrender therein?~"
  
  However, contrary to my desires, the exact opposite happens as Kitsune surprises both of us by speaking up for the first time.
  
  "Not just yet, I have some questions of my own." She says, earning a hard stare from Bungee that tells me that this was not revised.
  
  Seeing as I'm not really in a position to say no, I just incline my head in response, something she only really waits for out of politeness.
  
  "Would the names Taylor Laborne and James Laborne mean anything to you?" She asks in a tone that makes me think she is pretending to not care about the answer.
  
  Then again, she could be pretending to be pretending, I don't know this woman.
  
  But anyway, I have never heard those names before in my life, so naturally I choose to lie.
  
  "Oh yeah, didn't they write the declaration of independence?" I say with the kind of confidence only seen in the terminally stupid.
  
  Neither of them laugh at my joke, instead seeming to just choose to ignore it.
  
  "How about Markus Finch?" She continues.
  
  "That's the guy who discovered milk right? Wonder what he was doing down there?" Comes my blasé response.
  
  However Kitsune powers through my bullshit and speaks again and her next words stop my thoughts dead.
  
  "What about Ashley and Lusia Abel?" She asks, and the first thought that comes to mind is that I can't show a different reaction.
  
  The second thought that comes to mind is that pausing to think is a differing reaction and so my third thought is to say something stupid again.
  
  "Didn't they star in Ilsa the She-Wolf?" I say, accidentally insulting myself.
  
  I know I wanted to say something stupid, but why the fuck was 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 the first thing that came to mind?
  
  I sure hope this isn't some Freudian slip, otherwise I'm going to have to head over to the Nazi capital of America to have some very awkward conversations.
  
  More importantly than fucked up cinema, why the fuck is she asking about me? And what was with the other names? Something like asking lots of questions so you ask without thinking?
  
  Seriously, what does my original identity have to do with anything?
  
  But no matter how much I want to know, I know that I can't ask, lest I risk more suspicion.
  
  With that in mind, I open my mouth, only belatedly realising that I completely missed whatever facial expressions Kitsune made while I was monologuing, making me panic slightly about letting something slip.
  
  "Come on~ give me something harder.~" I say, my practiced voice brining me a measure of calm as I fall back into the role of Tear the Clown, deciding to just forget about that and think about it later, when I'm not with company.
  
  Thankfully, Kitsune takes a back seat once again, leaning back with a hum and letting Bungee take over again.
  
  "𝘈𝘩𝘦𝘮, right then. Back to the beginning. To get straight to the point this time, for what reason did you want to surrender yourself as a villain?" Bungee says, his voice stern, as if he isn't expecting me to say any more random shit.
  
  Luckily for him, he's right, since answering this question is literally the only reason I'm here in the first place.
  
  "Simple." I say, taking my feet off of the table and leaning my elbows on it instead. "Security."
  
  "Security?" He parrots in confusion.
  
  Raising my arms slightly in a half shrug, I lean back into my chair as I respond.
  
  "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I might have kinda accidentally slightly annoyed a gang or two just a teeny tiny bit~ and now I fear for my own life~ I certainly can't fight them myself after all,~ so I thought, who could keep me safe from the dastardly villains? Who 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 keep me safe?"
  
  Here I make sure to give the pair the finger guns as I keep talking, purposefully allowing a slight, barely noticeable quiver to enter my voice, knowing that the better I hide it the more believable it will be.
  
  "I came to the conclusion that the only way I'm not dying was if the brave Heroes protected me, but I was unwilling to risk bureaucracy getting in the way of my immediate safety, and figured a cell here was better than anywhere out there~ and so here I am!~"
  
  Step three of operation: Virgin Circus is a go!
  
  As a side note, the name is about it being my first proper 'play', it is not a statement on any of the 'actors" sexual activity.
  
  "You think the gangs are coming for you? Seriously enough that you would rather be in a prison cell than out on the streets? Do you have a reason to believe you are being hunted, beyond just the simple facts of what you've done?" Bungee asks, rapid fire.
  
  Nodding my head, I answer the only question that wasn't rhetoric, barely managing to keep the laughter out of my voice as I do so, since it is very ironic for me to be answering this.
  
  "Yup~ I have a friend who's good at keeping an ear to the ground and I trust them when they brought up my mortal peril.~" I say, dying of laughter on the inside.
  
  Obviously I know that they are out to get me. Hell, I know exactly 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 and likely 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 they are going to come for me as well.
  
  It's only natural, since I'm the one tipping them off.
  
  With a great sigh, Bungee gets to his feet, Kitsune following his lead.
  
  "Someone will be here shortly to ask you some more in depth questions. In the meantime, do you have anything else you'd like to say before we go?" He generously asks.
  
  I think for a moment, putting a finger to my chin as I ponder what I could ask for that they would reasonably give me, until I come to the obvious conclusion.
  
  "I wouldn't mind a deck of cards to play with so I don't die of boredom?" I ask.
  
  "I'll see what I can do." Bungee responds with the smile of an angel before turning to leave.
  
  However right as he is about to cross through the door, I call out to him, making him stop.
  
  "Hey wait! One more thing. Do you think I could get some clothes with the proper black and white stripes?~ I just want this to all feel more authentic you know?~"
  
  He just huffs and leaves without responding, closing the door behind me.
  
  Left alone with my thoughts, they eventually wonder back to the near future.
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘯~ I can't wait.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬!
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I really gotta stop calling people James. It's just that I name people by just using the first name that comes to my head, but at this point James is just stuck in my head so it's just always the same V/\V
  
  Also, since I doubt anyone will know it without googling it, Ilsa: she wolf of the SS was an old movie that was basically a porno set during the holocaust, based on real people. shit's fucked up
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  35 Interlude: Yumiko Jamesu (-joke)
  "How certain exactly are you that Tear is the cannibal from October?" Director Noah says from his seat behind his large desk.
  
  It's only the two of us in the room right now, as I only give my reports to the Director directly.
  
  The perks of formally working in a counter intelligence unit I suppose, not that anyone outside of this room actually knows anything about me.
  
  See, I've always been the observant type, that's how I got into counter intelligence in the first place. Then, after a job gone wrong, I triggered and suddenly became even more valuable.
  
  Now, I spend my time working as both a Hero and a spy for the PRT, making sure that any dangerous elements, such as an incredibly powerful and spiteful dragon woman, aren't going to pose a threat.
  
  However, that is not what I am here for right now, so I focus back onto the reason I called for this debriefing.
  
  "Very. We were already suspicious of her, what with the cannibal appearing and disappearing around the same time as Tear's first appearance, compounded with the fact that since she's arrived in Columbus the number of missing persons cases has increased by around 900%."
  
  The Director's face scrunches up at the number I give him due to me habitually using statistics to make something sound worse than it is.
  
  It's less impressive than it sounds, since there are only a few hundred cases of people disappearing in Ohio annually, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it leaves about 3.25 people disappearing in a city like Columbus every month on average.
  
  Tear has certainly been active, especially if she is as exclusively cannibalistic as I assume, with roughly thirty cases of people disappearing with her as the prime suspect.
  
  The number would be even higher if some of the victims weren't written off as dead, though they could probably all be written of at this point.
  
  Naturally however, exceptional cases like Tear won't be counted towards the states annual missing persons statistic, since that would make them look bad.
  
  "Yes yes, I knew all of that, but you never spoke up before about this, so what changed?" The Director asks, getting straight to the point.
  
  Nodding once, I explain.
  
  "The Yamori incident." I say, making him raise an eyebrow. "Investigations into the person or persons involved have failed to bring up anything substantial, however there was a theory thrown out that it was Tear who was responsible."
  
  "And now you think that theory holds weight?" He asks with a raised eyebrow.
  
  It makes sense. After all, without any evidence that it actually was Tear who cleared out the Yamori, her threat rating only got changed to a five, four, two and one for Changer, Brute, Mover and Thinker respectively.
  
  Certainly a nice spread, it's rare for anyone to have more than three ratings, except for Trumps of course, but their powers literally work around powers themselves, so they can't be expected to play by the same rules.
  
  The numbers themselves however aren't too high, making her seem more like a grab bag cape, someone with lots of small powers rather than one big one, on paper at least.
  
  So just by looking at her numbers, one wouldn't think she could be responsible for the Yamori incident, not to mention that from his perspective, I'd imagine that the Yamori incident has nothing to do with figuring out the cannibal cape.
  
  "Indeed I do. Partly because the bodies of the Yamori clan were missing, save for blood splatters, something that would work with the theory that they were killed by a cannibal, but again, there is no evidence for it, so I didn't say anything. However, during the interview earlier today, something she did made it click in my head."
  
  Pausing to take a breath, I picture the moment in my mind and keep talking.
  
  "After being confronted about the number of deaths she has caused and giving a lackadaisical response that seems to be par for the course with her, she cracked her middle finger with her thumb. To be more accurate, I believe she broker her finger, but with her regeneration there will be no way to tell without asking her."
  
  From the confused look Director Balvan gives me, I assume that he hasn't made the same connection that I have and decide to fill him in before he asks.
  
  "Jason Yamori was known to have a similar tick, one he would use in attempt to centre himself when he was getting emotional. I believe that Tear was captured and tortured by Jason and ended up adopting this tick from him in the process. This would also compound our suspicious of Tear being the cannibal due to the aforementioned bodies disappearing.
  
  "Due to this, after Tear cracked her finger I asked her about the victims of the cannibal from Utica, however she didn't show any reactions that she recognised any of the names, giving joke responses to each person. I think she might have paused slightly at the mention of the Abel pair, but I could be mistaken."
  
  After I finish speaking, we stay in silence for a moment as the Director thinks things over, eventually simply sighing.
  
  "Even with all of that, without any evidence there isn't really anything we can do, is there? Do you actually have anything substantial, beyond circumstantial evidence?"
  
  That's the kicker though, isn't it? Without any actual evidence, she could easily claim innocence if she is smart about it, and beyond that mask of lackadaisicality I do believe that she is quite intelligent.
  
  Then again, I've been wrong before.
  
  But again, I have no evidence beyond a simple gut feeling, so I answer the Director curtly.
  
  "No sir."
  
  I'm sure he notices the annoyance in my tone at the fact that my word alone isn't enough. Even if I'm not arrogant enough to think that my word should always be enough, that doesn't mean it's not annoying sometimes that they can't just take my word for it.
  
  With a deep sigh, the Director slumps back in his seat and when he next speaks the tiredness in his voice is apparent.
  
  "While I have you here on the topic, do you have any other thoughts about our most recent guest?" He asks.
  
  I don't have to ponder for long before I give him my answer, since I haven't stopped thinking about her since the interview which was already a few hours ago.
  
  "She's smart. I think. She knows what she's doing at least. I don't know how to describe it but it's like she's wearing a mask beneath a mask."
  
  At his uncomprehending expression, I try to put it differently.
  
  "It's like.. like she is acting, except instead of just acting as 'Tear', it felt like she was acting like someone acting as Tear, like a disguise inside of a disguise."
  
  Pausing to let the Director mull over what I said, I think more about the woman I just interviewed.
  
  "As I said, she knows what she's doing. She wants something, something beyond simple safety from being here. I don't know what it is that she want's exactly, but I'm pretty sure that she's getting it and we're playing right into her hands."
  
  The Director thankfully takes my words seriously, knowing me well enough to trust them.
  
  "Do you have a reason for thinking this? And do you think that whatever her goal is, that it's bad for us?" He asks, getting straight to what matters.
  
  "Just gut feeling sir, and I don't believe that what she wants is malicious towards us. To be frank, she is unpredictable, so I can't be sure what it is she wants exactly. It is possible that she simply wants to be a Hero but for whatever reason couldn't bring herself to simply ask. It isn't an unheard of situation with some capes."
  
  Director Balvan smiles and I get the feeling that he's imagining Tear as an embarrassed child who doesn't want to admit that they want something.
  
  "So you think she wants to be a Hero, but can't bring herself to join us without us bending her arm, so to speak?" He asks with mirth.
  
  "Indeed sir, it could be that she wants to change but is psychologically incapable of bringing out that change herself, like a more extreme version of getting a personal trainer to help motivate you in the gym, or it could simply be a pride thing, a refusal to give up her ways until truly backed into a corner." I explain curtly.
  
  Honestly, I don't have a problem with the woman. After all, it's like she said herself, what has she done to feel guilty of?
  
  Provided she is the cannibal, which I believe is very likely, then she has only killed five innocents, and if that was shortly after her trigger as I suspect it was, then it's likely that she wasn't in a good state of mind at the time.
  
  There is a reason that laws were passed to give leniency to any crims committed shortly after a trigger event after all.
  
  Then, after getting her bearings, what was the first thing she did? She set out and started cleaning the streets of filth while also keeping her appetite under control so that she can avoid hurting any innocents again.
  
  Personally, I hope things go well for her, but I highly doubt they will, since even if she does join us, the moment the public finds out about her cannibalism, then unless she has one hell of a public image, she will be all but crucified on the spot.
  
  During the time I was thinking, Director Balvan seems to have come to a decision as he raps his knuckles on the table to get my attention.
  
  "Alright. Set up the usual plea deal for situations like this, she can take up a new identity and transfer to another city as a probationary member of the Protectorate, provided she accepts being put under watch and having reduced pay until she is considered reformed. All of this is naturally under the condition that she confess to any crimes she has committed, as well as to whether or not she is in fact the cannibal as we suspect."
  
  I feel a slight smile tug on my lips at Tear getting at least a chance. Maybe I'll ask to be transferred with her, to help get her settled in as a Hero, every villain turned Hero needs a 'handler' so to speak after all.
  
  It's certainly something I wouldn't mind because she 𝘪𝘴 actually pretty funny. I mean, 𝘐𝘭𝘴𝘢 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘰𝘭𝘧? Really?
  
  Not that I am ever going to admit to understanding the reference, but it was difficult to keep a straight face.
  
  Alas, I am a professional, I think as I wonder through the building, lost in thought.
  
  It would be nice to have a new friend too. It's been a while since I've had someone I can just talk to and hang out with. The closest thing to a friend I have here is Grace and she's only fourteen so it's not like we can really relate to each other most of the time.
  
  Really it just speaks to the personability of everyone else.
  
  Only Ethan and Luke really get my humour and Luke is always lost, hence the name, while with Ethan it's just still awkward from that time he made a move on me.
  
  𝘚𝘪𝘨𝘩.
  
  Whatever, you can't have everything.
  
  For now, instead of thinking about all this crap, I should go look for some things, namely a striped prisoner outfit and a deck of cards.
  
  I feel that smile coming back full force at the thought of her 'requests'.
  
  I can totally understand her wanting the classic outfit, it's like tradition.
  
  After wondering around for a bit however, I come to the unfortunate conclusion that there aren't any stereotypical prisoner outfits in the building.
  
  Where could I find what I am looking for?
  
  Hmmm.
  
  Wait.
  
  Isn't there a cosplay shop somewhere on Broad Street?
  
  Location decided, I start making my way out of the building.
  
  Maybe they'll even have the classic ball and chain too?
  
  With a smile on my face, I head out into the thriving streets of Columbus looking for the most stereotypical outfit I can find.
  
  I'm sure she'll appreciate it.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Ples gib favourites, or even better, money. I wanna eat my local pizza again but can't be spending £12 on a single food. :(
  
  Though, and I can't stress this enough, as much as I love getting support, that is only if you are financially stable.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  36 Interlude: Darnell Jackson
  Around a circular table sits six people. Five men and one woman, all with the same black skin as everyone else in their gang.
  
  The room itself is heavy with such tension that it feels as if it could be cut with a knife.
  
  Understandable, considering the reason for this gathering.
  
  "I assume you've all seen the video?" Eraser begins, speaking about what is on all of our minds.
  
  He is answered by a round of nodding heads, nobody saying anything.
  
  I can't speak for the others, but I know that the reason I can't bring myself to speak right now is simply the video itself.
  
  I can remember it with startling clarity.
  
  The scene opened facing a dull grey wall splattered with blood in a dark, but still visible room.
  
  Then the camera swings as someone takes hold of it, only for it to twist around to show a face that covers the whole screen.
  
  Though, rather than a face, it would be more accurate to say a mask. A 𝘊𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘯 mask. A familiar clown mask.
  
  Then she started talking, her voice light and cheerful even when her eyes gleamed like the reapers' scythe, the ominous red seeming much, much more dangerous than when I met the mad Clown.
  
  𝘏𝘦𝘺𝘩𝘰𝘰!~ 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘚𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘵 𝘚𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘴!~ 𝘐𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘮𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺!~ 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺~ 𝘐 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘢 𝘨𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳~ 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘨𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘰?~
  
  The camera then pulled back, far enough away from her to know she had someone else recording, showing her whole body.
  
  But it's what was behind her that held my, and likely everyone else's attention.
  
  There was Shade who disappeared the other day without warning.
  
  Only, he didn't look as I remember him to, dark and edgy but with kindness underneath. The only reason he even joined us was because of the system itself failing him, otherwise he would have probably ended up on the side of the angels, something he vehemently refuses every time it's brought up.
  
  Instead of the Shade I remember, no, instead of the Freddie I remember, the person that sat behind the mad Clown was nothing but a shadow of a man, with sunken cheeks and scars and open wounds decorating his bare chest, he hardly looked like a man at all.
  
  He looked more like some Frankenstein monster that hasn't been finished yet.
  
  But even with all of that, I could tell who it was the moment I saw him. I could never not recognise anyone who I've gone out drinking with so many times.
  
  Distantly, I recognise the conversation of the room resuming.
  
  "Then, I don't think I should have to say it for everyone to know what happens next. Right?" Eraser says, igniting the fire burning inside everyone's chests.
  
  "You don't have to say anything boss. Because even if you told me not to, I'm gonna see that white bitch dead. For Freddie." Romulus says, his voice strained as he speaks through gritted teeth.
  
  His words get a rousing agreement from everyone present, as they all exclaim their shared desire for the bitches death.
  
  All but one.
  
  All but me.
  
  Because all I can think about, is that this is all my fault.
  
  I could have killed her, back then.
  
  I should have.
  
  Maybe if I did...
  
  𝘞𝘦𝘭𝘭~ 𝘪𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘩𝘦'𝘴 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘩𝘺, 𝘴𝘰 𝘐'𝘭𝘭 𝘥𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘮.~ 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘦~ 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘢 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘺~ 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺, 𝘩𝘦'𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦. 𝘚𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘢 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘰~ 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘴.~
  
  I remember her saying, with such demented glee that I felt my skin crawl.
  
  Then she moved up to him and slapped him in the face a few times to no response, his head simply remaining limp, so much so that I feared he was simply dead.
  
  But then she leaned down to his ear and whispered something. I don't know what it was, but once she did so, Shade's eyes shot wide open and his head raised as he let out the single most 𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥 scream I have ever heard in my life.
  
  "Dynamite."
  
  The sound haunts my dreams, and I can't help but think it will continue to do so for a long time to come.
  
  This is all my fault.
  
  If only I'd killed her.
  
  If only.
  
  "Dynamite!"
  
  But instead, I had to watch as my friend was reduced to a broken man, eyes sifting around frantically and breathes coming so fast to sound almost constant.
  
  Moving around Shade to be standing behind him, she caresses his shoulders gently, stroking his head like he's some kind of pet.
  
  𝘕𝘰𝘸, 𝘐'𝘮 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶'𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘐'𝘮 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴~ 𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭, 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦.~ 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘦𝘦, 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘺 𝘢 𝘨𝘢𝘮𝘦.~
  
  Her voice, already audibly psychotic starts to tremble the more she speaks as excitement starts to overwhelm her.
  
  The camera moves closer and at the same time, she leans forward over Shade, uncaring about aggravating his wounds or about the blood she gets on herself simply from being in contact with him.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘴.~ 𝘿𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮 𝙖 𝙜𝙖𝙢𝙚?~
  
  "DYNAMITE!"
  
  The loud noise jolts me out of my thoughts, bringing me back to the room where everyone is staring at me, the concern in their eyes apparent and warming.
  
  It only makes me feel even more guilty, like I betrayed their trust by letting this happen.
  
  "Sorry, got lost in thought." I say, trying and failing to not sound as morose as I feel.
  
  "It's fine. We understand, just try to focus okay?" Tom says, always the kind one, even after getting that horrible nickname because of it.
  
  But I just don't feel like poking fun at him about it right now, so I just nod my head and leave it at that.
  
  Eraser picks the conversation back up by bringing our focus back to what matters right now.
  
  "Now, as I was saying. In her little... message." He says, frowning at the mere mention of that video, an expression matched and enhanced by those present.
  
  "She said how she has hidden Shade somewhere, and that the 'game' is that we have to capture her in order to get his his location." He explains.
  
  Everyone nods with his words, having watched the same video.
  
  I have no idea how she managed to get the videos into each of our personal phones, but with a good enough hacker, it's not something impossible to do, so questioning it is pointless.
  
  "Now, you might not all be aware of this, but yesterday the bitch held up a bank and apparently surrendered immediately and is currently sitting in a PRT cell. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what her 'game' is." He says, somehow making the frowns of the room even deeper.
  
  "The whore wants us to fight the Protectorate." Spits out Blacked, ironically the only woman here, with disgust evident in her tone.
  
  That makes the tension in the room even worse, enough that entering the room would feel like walking into a lion's den as everyone considers the implications.
  
  Because the simple fact is that we cannot win against the Protectorate.
  
  In fact, we'd hardly stand a chance against them. Just Tiamat alone would be enough to handle everyone here at once, so long as Eraser is excluded, since he counters her pretty hard.
  
  Hard to beat someone who erases inorganic matter when your power is to control said inorganic matter.
  
  "So what! We just leave him to die, even after whatever shit she's put him through!" Dovah shouts, quick to anger ever since Matchstick kicked the bucket.
  
  Even if no one likes his words, no one disputes them either, because what would reasonably happen if we assaulted the PRT building?
  
  We might as well just be handing ourselves over to them.
  
  Fortunately, before we can wallow in defeat without even being given a chance to fight, Eraser speaks up again.
  
  "Luckily however, we are not the only ones she is targeting. I got an extra message from her and it seems she really wants this to be a grand 'game', as she has invited Red Branch as well. Same as us, she has kidnapped one of their members, Eraser, and sent them a similar video to the one she sent us."
  
  For all that he sounds calm and collected as he speaks, to anyone who knows him well enough, that number being incredibly limited outside of this room, it is clear that he is filled with barely contained wrath and contempt.
  
  His words send mixed feelings through everyone present, as on one hand, it suggests that we will actually be working together with Red Branch, despite being bitter enemies for years, while on the other hand, it means that we could actually have a chance at getting Shade back.
  
  "So we have to work with the potato munching motherfuckers for a day, big fucking deal. It's not like we'll be the first people to explore the concept of 'the enemy of my enemy'. So what are we waiting for? Let's give the pale cunts a call and fucking smoke this bitch!" Dovah's anger filled voice fills the room as he stands and slams his hands on the table for emphasis.
  
  "Well said Dovah. However I have already talked with Cu Chulainn to discus this-"
  
  Unfortunately, Eraser doesn't get to keep talking as Romulus speaks up with a dissatisfied tone.
  
  "You spoke to those leprechauns without even consulting with us first?" He says with a frown on his face.
  
  Eraser simply favours him with a blank stare that we all can see is hiding an inferno of wrath.
  
  When he speaks again, his voice is deathly calm, blank in a way that is clearly forced and incredibly unnerving.
  
  "Similar to you, I don't particularly care what you do or say right now. Either way, I will be getting Shade back, your opinions on how I do so are unnecessary."
  
  Nobody interrupts him after that, especially not Romulus, who sits back, sufficiently cowed.
  
  "Now, as I was saying. I spoke with Cu Chulainn about this and we reached an agreement. The day after tomorrow, Tear will be getting a prison transport out of the city. When that time comes, we will intercept it, push back any heroes that try to stop us, or even kill them if you have to and we will retrieve her. However, only once both our capes are safe does she die. Understood?"
  
  Everyone is understandably eager at the prospect of killing her, but we all understand what our priorities here are.
  
  "Sure, but I want to be the one to kill her." Says Dovah, his voice filled with pain.
  
  But before anyone else can speak, I do so myself.
  
  "No."
  
  "No?" He parrots in both disbelief and anger.
  
  As he goes to speak again, I cut him off, staring him down and letting all of my anger, my resentment and my guilt come to the surface as I do so.
  
  "No. This is all my fault. I didn't end her when I had the chance, and now Shade has suffered for it. I will be the one to kill her, to wash away my shame."
  
  The resolve in my voice must have been apparent, as after holding eye contact for a moment longer, Dovah simply huffs and collapses back into his chair with a deep frown and furrowed brows.
  
  With that out of the way, the discussion moves back on to what exactly is going to be happening tomorrow and the day after and how we are going to be dealing with Red Brach exactly.
  
  All until Tom asks a question of his own.
  
  "So who's actually going to be taking part in this, from both us and Red Branch?" He asks Eraser, who looks back at him with a savage grin and answers with a single word.
  
  "Everyone."
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Bro you have no idea how much I struggled naming this dude, after googling for common black names in america, I tried thinking for a good second name, but the first thing that came to mind was James and while I would find the hilarious, it's probably getting over done for you guys lol.
  
  Even worse though, was that I then thought about naming him Darnell Obamna, which would also be hilarious, but probably racist in some manner, so I decided to just google for common black surnames as well.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  37 Interlude: Sarah Livsey
  The time is 16:43 on the first day of 2008 and from all across America thousands of people are opening the same website and tuning in to watch the same livestream.
  
  As the clock ticks closer to five in the afternoon, thousands become tens of thousands as the view count continues to skyrocket on the new website known as FoolsNet.
  
  Included among the number of people who followed the link from PHO to here is a high school freshman by the name of Sarah Livsey.
  
  She, like many others, likes to spend some of her free time trawling through internet forums online, looking for anything interesting to happen.
  
  That was how she came across the first and only video uploaded by 'Fool', showing a rather gory scene of a violent cape fight that had her feeling queasy for days.
  
  Yet, she has not learned her lesson, as here she is again, waiting to see whatever it is that Fool is going to be showing this time.
  
  Really, it's like a car crash. You don't want to watch, but you just can't look away.
  
  For the past seventeen minutes, Sarah has been texting her friends on her phone with FoolsNet up on her computer.
  
  This is because so far, nothing has been happening. The camera is just showing some empty, wide street that looks to be on the edge of the city with large empty and worn buildings lining the road.
  
  The camera itself is clearly stationed on the corner of a roof, as one can still see the edge in the roof in shot, not to mention the large distance form the ground, allowing it to see a good distance.
  
  Normally, one would just assume they are watching a traffic camera of some kind, but since this is FoolsNet, it is assumed that something like the last video will happen again.
  
  This is proven right as something finally changes once the clock hits five.
  
  "He~llooo! Dear viewers! It's your favourite Fool here with a special show for your viewing pleasure!~" Fool shouts with joviality as he hops into frame, standing with the camera at the edge of the roof.
  
  He looks straight at the camera, his back to the street it's facing as he speaks again, his mask doing a poor job of hiding his exuberance.
  
  "Now!" He shouts, pointing one of his fingers in the air in a way that reminds Sarah of her teachers about to give a lecture.
  
  "You must be wondering what today's show is all about? Well, allow me to educate you! You see, in approximately", here he pauses to glance at his wrist, that clearly doesn't have a watch on it, "four minutes, a great show is going to play out on this here street!" He says, pointing behind him.
  
  All of a sudden, a sinking feeling settles in Sarah's gut, like an instinctual knowledge that she is about to see something insane, something she has never seen before.
  
  She can't decide if it's a good thing or not, yet once again, it is like a car crash.
  
  You just can't look away.
  
  "But first! Some backstory! Now, I am sure you are all aware of my last video where the naughty vigilante gruesomely delivered justice upon the wicked!~ Well, it seems that the villains here aren't all too happy with her, and now they're out for blood!" He shouts, palming his cheeks as he gasps in shock that even Sarah can tell is fake.
  
  "Unfortunately for them, Tear was captured by the valiant Heroes and detained! Foiling their plans of revenge before they could even begin! But that once again brings us to this street~" He says, moving so that he is standing closer to the camera, still in shot but out of the way so that we can see down the street.
  
  Facing the same direction as the camera, Fool brings one of his arms forward, as if presenting a gift.
  
  "Because just over there, is Tear's prison transport, where the heroic Heroes are escorting her out of the city!~" He says with glee.
  
  At the same time that he started speaking, a convoy of vehicles turned the corner at the end of the street and once he was done talking one could see the full extent of it.
  
  Seeing it, all Sarah can think is.
  
  𝘐𝘴𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢 𝘣𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘦?
  
  For Sarah, it is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to come to, as instead of simply a couple of vans, what is driving down that street is more akin to a convoy.
  
  There are eleven vehicles total, eight of them being the SWAT trucks that the PRT troopers used that have been upgraded to be more like APC's while the other three vehicles are armoured transport vans.
  
  They are in a simple formation of two trucks, one van, two trucks et cetera, and presumably the middle one is the one that houses Tear.
  
  Not only that, there is also a pair of Heroes that Sarah doesn't recognise, being from another city, flying above the convoy.
  
  "As you can see from the security present, it seems that someone must have tipped the PRT off about what is about to happen! I wonder who did that?~" Fool says, bonking his head and one can imagine that he is sticking his tongue out at the same time.
  
  "Now! It is time for the show to begin!" He shouts, only to be even louder in what he says next.
  
  "IN THE LEFT CORNER, WE HAVE THE PRT AND PROTECTORATE! CAN THEY DEFENT THEIR PRISONER, OR WILL THEY SUCCUM TO EVIL!? I CAN'T TELL YOU THAT, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THIS! IN THE RIGHT CORNER, WE HAVE A DOUBLE TEAM OF RED BRANCH AND STREET SAINTS!" He shouts.
  
  Then he pulls out a prop microphone and walks forward slightly, so that the camera angle shows the convoy just in front of him before leaning back and staring into the sky as he screams out his next line.
  
  "ARE. YOU. READY. TO~ 𝙍𝙐𝙈𝘽𝙇𝙀𝙀𝙀𝙀𝙀𝙀!"
  
  As his scream rings out, a slew of green balls, about the size of basketballs but glowing radioactive green, fly out from in front of the convoy.
  
  The vehicles swerve to avoid them, but the first and second van as well as one of the trucks in front of it are hit directly while one of the trucks behind it is barely scratched by it.
  
  That doesn't seem to matter however as all three vehicles rapidly dissolve into nothing, leaving the people inside of them moving forward at the same speed and rolling over the ground in a way that looks painful.
  
  By this point Sarah's phone is lying forgotten by her side as she grips her seats armrests in a white knuckled grip, watching the events with fervour, not even noticing the view count skyrocketing.
  
  Only thanks to skilled drivers and good brakes do the vehicles behind the now completely evaporated ones not run over their own people.
  
  Fool disappears behind the camera for a reason that becomes obvious when the screen zooms in on the people who fell out of the first van.
  
  Or, more accurately, the Heroes who fell out of the van.
  
  There, slowly getting to their feet are three heroes that Sarah doesn't recognise, as well as one that she does.
  
  After all, how could she not recognise the famous 'Mother of Monsters' Tiamat?
  
  In the short moment it takes for those on the ground to get back to their feet, the other vehicles have all formed a formation around the person who fell out of the centre van.
  
  Troopers start pouring out of the vehicles and start taking up positions with both foam guns and what looks like real guns poised and ready.
  
  At the same time, the back of the second van opens, letting our four more Heroes for a total of ten.
  
  Two of them hardly even look like Heroes since they are hardly even wearing costumes. In fact, the only reason Sarah is sure that they are Heroes is the fox mask on the woman and the pink glow on the mans hands.
  
  The other two Sarah finds vaguely familiar unlike the others, and it takes her a moment to remember the Camelot trio and how their leader's death was all over the news a couple years back.
  
  Avalon, the unbreakable shield and Excalibur, the kings sword.
  
  Two of the Heroes rush to the centre where lies a woman in a stereotypical prison outfit with a clown mask on her face that has a single pink tear streaking down one eye and a long black triangle above the other with a large black toothed smile finishing the face.
  
  The Hero in the fox mask helps the prisoner into a seated position that they couldn't do themselves due to the chains binding them and restricting movement.
  
  Before the Heroes can finish regrouping however, another round of green balls fly out for the formation, only this time they were prepared.
  
  One of the flyers manages to shoot down some of the balls with a barrage of lasers with the fox girl helping him by sending a ring of blue fire forward.
  
  But it's one of the Heroes with Tiamat that stops most of them using a bow to shoot rapid fire and not once missing her target.
  
  After just a moment, the balls are all gone before they could even do anything.
  
  The camera zooms out again to show the whole formation and a good amount of land around it and everyone hears Fools voice once more.
  
  "Place your bets boys and girls~ because the show is about to begin."
  
  With bated breath, Sarah tries to mentally prepare herself for whatever she is about to watch, equal parts excited and scared about what she is going to see.
  
  ...
  
  I had to wait around in a cell for two days before anything of interest really happened.
  
  It was honestly a pain in the ass, and I'm glad it's now come to an end.
  
  At least Foxy was nice enough to fulfil my requests and got me the classic prison look, with striped long sleeves and pants.
  
  She even got me a ball and chain, but it got taken away right after by the spoilsports in uniform.
  
  To properly complete the look, I've even flatly refused to wear any shoes, showing off my black nails, courtesy of Jason.
  
  At least Foxy got me a deck of cards, so I wasn't completely bored, just mindlessly playing solitaire over and over again.
  
  Though, I did have to admit to my cannibalism in order to actually get transferred out of the city like I wanted to.
  
  But I made sure to mention that I only turned vigilante because I was scared what they would do to a cannibal and that now that I've had time to think about it, that they should be able to provide me with synthesised or cloned human meat, or even just 'cure' me.
  
  Naturally, they ate that shit up, making me think that maybe I am just too convincing an actor.
  
  Honestly, I don't really care about the reason, all that matters is that I am here, alone in the back of a transport van and covered in chains locking me in place.
  
  Well, I could get out at any moment thanks to my tails, but that would be counter intuitive.
  
  But with everything finally coming into play, from my messages to the gangs, to the 'anonymous' tips I set up for the Heroes, everything is coming together.
  
  I even had James cook up a little something special for me.
  
  Unfortunately I can't just have him mass produce anti-power drugs, since we don't have the materials for it and he thinks that he was probably using the blood of some of his family with an anti-power power.
  
  But that's fine, I still have one dose of it left, and that's only for insurance.
  
  I am knocked out of my thoughts rather roughly as the vehicle I am in is assaulted by a green glow, starting from the front and moving to the back, annihilating everything it touches until the van is no more and I am sent rolling forward on the street with my momentum, along side the two troopers up front.
  
  Tied up as I am, I can't get up from where I lay, faceplanted to the ground.
  
  That is, until Foxie's voice makes itself known to me and a pair of hands lift me up into a sitting position.
  
  "You ok Tear? It seems you might have been right to worry, but don't fear, we'll protect you." She says with an encouraging smile.
  
  I match her smile with a much less child friendly one beneath my mask.
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘩~ 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨.~
  
  I almost squee in delight as a slew of green balls fly towards us, only to be stopped by the return fire of the Heroes.
  
  Sitting there, eyes peeled and smile wide, one thought powers through to the forefront of my mind.
  
  𝘋𝘰 𝘱𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘢 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶?
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  So, a canon character finally makes an appearance... kinda. for those unaware of worm, Sarah is going to trigger and change her name to lisa where she will work as a villain alongside worms protag
  
  P.S, Jinx's power only works on people near him or people interacting with him in some significant way, so he made sure to be far enough away from the fight that his misfortune doesn't effect anyone.
  
  Though, everyone watching his stream 𝘪𝘴 being affected by his power... heh
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  38 Fight!
  "Quickly, before the Red team shows up, allow me to introduce the players for team Blue!" Fool shouts in a rush before moving the camera to zoom in on the flying capes.
  
  "Up in the air we have Epic and Ashurbanipal! Both fliers but only the latter is a brick while the former shoots laser's! They are basically like Legend and Alexandria if they were less impressive!~" He says before swinging the camera down to show the Heroes who were in the same van as Tiamat that have now grouped together.
  
  "And down on the ground, we have most of the members of the independent Hero team, the Argonauts! First is Asclepius, who is a biological Thinker, then there's Theseus who is a hydrokinetic and finally Atalanta, who is a really good shot!"
  
  Fool pans the camera to each person as he introduces them, allowing the viewers to see their matching outfits that look to be a mix between old Grecian and modern in design.
  
  "But enough about them, back to the government sponsored Heroes!~" He shouts, panning the camera once again.
  
  The next pair to be shown are wearing light armour, designed to keep flexibility whilst also having that medieval aesthetic.
  
  "Here we have the tragic remains of King Arthur's team! Excalibur, the kings sword can shoot out beams of energy while Avalon, the kings sheathe can become an immovable object~ but without their king to properly guide them, they are an awfully depressing pair.~"
  
  Fool doesn't even pause after mocking them of their greatest sadness and moves the camera again, this time showing three two heroes, and the villain being transported.
  
  "And over here we have Kitsune and Bungee standing with the objective of today's game Tear! Kitsune throws out fire wheels and Bungee makes weird glowing pink stuff that has both the properties of rubber and gum!~ Powers really don't make much sense sometimes.~" Fool seems to lament.
  
  Finally, the camera pans to the final Hero, the draconic woman taking up the screen as Fool zooms in as much as he can.
  
  "And lastly, we have the star of Blue team! The Mother of Monsters herself! TIAMAT! Now, I'm sure I shouldn't have to introduce her, so I won't bother~ Especially since it seems that Red team has arrived.~"
  
  Indeed, the camera zooms back out as a pack of spectral wolves jump out from the surrounding buildings to charge at the defensive line of Heroes, testing them.
  
  "It seems that Romulus is the second member of team Red to make a move~ as is obvious, he makes cute little wolves.~" He says as the wolves get destroyed in various ways before they can even reach the formation.
  
  Suddenly, the street gets flooded with life as people swarm out of the buildings and alleys around the circled trucks, showing just how prepared they were for this ambush.
  
  The PRT troopers start spraying their foam guns, hoping to capture their opponents before they can even do anything.
  
  Unfortunately it doesn't work out for them as on one side the foam is disintegrated by green balls of now familiar energy.
  
  Meanwhile, on the other side the foam is thrown away to the sides by the combined efforts of a pair of capes.
  
  At the same time, Fool's mouth is working a mile a minute as he tries to give introductions and keep up with the fight at the same time.
  
  "It seems the independent villain Melty is once again with her power that evaporates inorganic matter meanwhile Dovah, with his air cannon and Merlin with his elemental control are using the wind to keep their mooks safe from foam!"
  
  Fool takes a deep, gasping breath as he continues to record the confrontation as it is happening.
  
  Epic and Ashurbanipal each fly over the gangsters in a hope of removing the capes protecting them from play, but before they can do so they are each ambushed.
  
  A black man comes flying out of a building next to Epic and tackles him through the next wall and into the inside of the building, separating their fight.
  
  At the same time, a pale shirtless man with a giant bastard sword comes bursting through a wall and delivers a full strength swing that connects with Ashurbanipal and sends her careening through the building behind her and into the second one, being quickly followed by the grinning man.
  
  At the same time, Fool is struggling to keep up with the action as he hastily starts introducing people.
  
  "That was Uncle Tom who is a worse Ashurbanipal and Siegfried who's a brute but can't fly! and now it's Bathory and Hermes assaulting the Argonauts! Bathory turns into mist and Hermes is fast!"
  
  As Fool's frantic voice says, the camera shows as a blood red mist dashes towards the three argonauts who have huddled together outside the formation, leaving the protection the vehicles offer for the non capes.
  
  As the mist approaches, Atalanta looses an arrow that explodes inside of it to little effect as it simply moves closer, reforming into a woman with a pair of long knives who immediately swings at Theseus before dispersing into mist again to avoid another arrow.
  
  However, as they were distracted with Bathory, Hermes runs up to them from behind with his own pair of daggers that he immediately uses to slash the back of Atalanta's legs, having to back off without doing anything more as Asclepius swings his staff to protect his teammate.
  
  While this is happening, Bungee and Kitsune swap with Avalon and Excalibur, leaving them to defend the objective, as Excalibur's power is too lethal to use against normals and Avalon is the perfect defence.
  
  Kitsune starts throwing fire towards the pair of air benders, knowing that her fire moves with enough velocity that the winds will only strengthen it and it is hot enough that small amounts of water will simply turn to steam.
  
  As she does that, Bungee takes the other side, swiftly moving through the enemy numbers, tapping each of them and leaving them more stuck than the foam would have done as he moves closer to the only rogue cape present, everyone else being part of a group.
  
  All this while, the Heroes' heaviest hitter Tiamat hasn't made a move, even if she could realistically fight everyone present and win.
  
  The reason for that is made clear as another villain makes himself known as a man of steel runs towards the Argonauts, intending to help his fellows knock them out of the fight.
  
  Before he can do so however, the ground in front of him comes to life as a golem lurches up from the tarmac and slams into him, wrapping it's arms around him to hold him down.
  
  The moment Tiamat's power enters use, all hell breaks loose as one of the so far untouched buildings a little distance away crumbles to the ground as a giant figure crashes onto the street.
  
  The figure is a gigantic bobcat-like monster with a white body and red back with red dotted patterns across it's body.
  
  It has a long tail that ends in three points, a mouth that could swallow a man whole filled with long and sharp fangs and a long tongue with long pointy ears.
  
  Not only that, but it has eight legs and stands almost as tall as a two story building and even longer, all while being built like a living tank.
  
  As the beast roars, a deafening sound that can be heard halfway across the city, Fool keeps trying to keep his viewers aware of who's who.
  
  "Steel man Dynamite shows up and manages to bring Tiamat into the fight causing Cath Palug to join the fun!~"
  
  Cath Palug was one of the main reasons Tiamat hadn't joined the fight, because she knew that the moment she does so, the amount of collateral damage is about to skyrocket.
  
  However, perhaps unexpectedly, as Cath charges the formation of troopers, Tiamat does nothing to stop him, instead animating golems all around to help everyone else with their fights.
  
  Ten, twenty, fifty.
  
  In the time it takes Cath to move forward half a dozen steps, the materials that make up the surrounding buildings as well as the ground outside of the formation of trucks has rapidly been transformed into an army of inanimate golems that don't waste time in pushing back the villains.
  
  Right as Cath is a single step away from Tiamat and about to crush her, a colossal beam of black energy 𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘮𝘴 into the beast, sending it crashing backwards, cracking the ground beneath it's sudden weight.
  
  However, as Excalibur moves forward to keep bullying the monster cat, Tiamat suddenly raises a straight line of golems away from her that are immediately destroyed, only the pair closest to her unharmed.
  
  As the dust from her destroyed golems settles Tiamat is able to see the red spear that is pierced through the golem third closest to her, having needed seventeen golems just to stop it's velocity.
  
  Looking up, Tiamat sees what the camera already can.
  
  "It looks like Red teams two leaders have finally stepped into the fray, launching a strong opener on Tiamat that is unfortunately ineffective!~ For those unaware, the spear wielding handsome man is Cu Chulainn, leader of Red Branch with a simple high level brute power while the less handsome guy without any spears is Eraser who can erase inorganic matter! Together they make quite the counter to Tiamat! I wonder how this will go!~"
  
  Even though he's already thrown a spear, it is clearly not a problem for Cu Chulainn considering the amount of spare spears on his back.
  
  Tiamat doesn't allow them another chance to get her by surprise and starts digging into the ground underneath and around her and as she rapidly builds up an army of golems around her, the two gang lords charge at her.
  
  Every swing with his spear shatters at least one golem as the Irish villain runs forward, not managing to keep ahead of Eraser despite the man not having any brute powers augmenting his strength.
  
  This is because Eraser's power doesn't rely on him touching things with his hands, which makes it so that every time a golem brushes against him, it, and everything inorganic within a two metre diameter behind it simply disappears, allowing him to run straight for Tiamat.
  
  But Tiamat is no fool and she knows that Eraser counters her perfectly, so she doesn't bother sending most of her army at him, instead choosing to swarm Cu Chulainn.
  
  Eraser is the first person to get close to her and he pulls out a sword, courtesy of Red Branches cold arms Tinker Smith, but right as he swings for her, Avalon launches himself in front of her, freezing himself in place in mid-air and and causing Eraser's sword to clatter off of him helplessly.
  
  As he is still recoiling from that, Avalon unfreezes, his momentum nowhere to be seen as he twists and falls to the ground, quickly rising with a punch to Eraser's gut that sends him back a few paces.
  
  Avalon moves forward to chase him and throws another punch, clearly showing his boxing training.
  
  Eraser manages to weave around the first few blows before he finds an opening and swings his blade to cut across Avalon's leg, only for it to spark and do nothing as he freezes right before the point of impact.
  
  Before the sparks even disappear, Avalon is moving again, throwing a sharp punch to Erasers arm that makes him drop his weapon.
  
  At the same time, Cu Chulainn has slowed to a stop as he fights a constantly replenishing army of golem, leaving him with no time to breathe as he constantly has to spin around, defending and destroying the golems with ease.
  
  With everything going on, nobody except for those watching online, notice as Tear starts to move.
  
  Without getting up from where she is sat, one can barely make out as one of her tails, shrunk down in size, snakes it's way from her back down to her foot, where it cuts half of it off in a single move.
  
  As the blood ribbon grabs the cut off flesh, her foot grows back as if nothing happened almost immediately.
  
  The ribbon brings her flesh behind her, where her arms are tied and then after a moment, brings it to her mouth, where she quickly disposes of the evidence that anything happened.
  
  No one can figure out why she did that, and no one ever will.
  
  Soon however, the event is quickly forgotten as the intense battle continues to rage on.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  ; there is so much going on it's hard to keep track...
  
  Also, this is me five chapters ahead coming back to say this, but damn this fight kicked my ass.
  
  Also, Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  39 Fight! 2 Electric Boogaloo
  FYI, I made a map in paint of the situation from last chap, but I can't leave links in chapters, so Imma link it on my profile if you're interested :)
  
  Fighting my way through the untrained gangsters wasn't particularly challenging except for the sheer number of them.
  
  Even with the troopers behind me providing supporting fire with rubber bullets, I could hardly make any headway in approaching Melty. All I have to do is take her out of the fight and then the troopers will be free to foam all of these mooks and I can help the fight elsewhere.
  
  Alas, I am only one man and there is only so much I can do against these numbers.
  
  Both of the gangs ambushing us are estimated to have a membership count in the hundreds, something that is being proven right now by the hordes of men united against us.
  
  It doesn't help that Blacked has apparently decided to use her Trump power to boost Red Branch's gangsters as well as her own, something I discovered after taking a glancing blow that almost dislocated my arm.
  
  It's like facing a horde of Brute 1's, not something I can really deal with efficiently.
  
  Even then, those that aren't currently capable of punching a hole through a brick wall are all armed with guns, mostly small arms but it's still a whole lot of bullets coming our way.
  
  Luckily, I am able to coat my entire body in my power, letting it absorb the kinetic energy of the bullets until they are effectively harmless, not that I am completely immune, but it helps keep me alive from pot-shots since I'm not wearing full body armour like the troopers are, safe behind the armoured trucks.
  
  Thankfully, that problem doesn't remain one for long as Tiamat joins the battle, evident by the army of golems that form out of the floor and walls around me, filling everything in sight with human shaped holes.
  
  I know we were expecting an ambush, but with the level of opposition seeming to be literally every combat ready cape in both gangs, as well as what is probably every single one of their normal members, I can't help but think that we are missing some critical information about why they want Tear so badly.
  
  Enough to even work together, even going so far as to recruit a rogue in Melty.
  
  However, even with the small army of golems making the fight much easier, battle isn't a time to be lost in thought.
  
  Taking a deep breath from the brief respite Tiamat afforded me, I start moving again, charging straight for Melty.
  
  The mooks try to stop me but are intercepted by golems of brick and tarmac.
  
  Though, some still make it passed Tiamat.
  
  A pair run towards me just the same as I do them.
  
  The first to reach me throws a wild right for my chest and I twist my body to the side and bend my knees, bringing my hands up to slide across his arm.
  
  The second one reaches us then and throws their own punch, much more practiced than the first.
  
  Dodging to the side, I snap one of my hands forward and tap him on the chest, making him immediately lurch to the side as my stretched out power recoils, bringing them crashing together, stuck with each other.
  
  Without paying the pair anymore mind, I keep rushing forward, spinning and jumping past anyone that gets in my way, tagging people and the ground intermittently to keep them locked down.
  
  Eventually, after what felt like an hour but was probably only a few minutes, I reach Melty with a band of golems at my back, keeping the gangsters from reaching me.
  
  It really is quite scary to see Tiamat in action, knowing that she can fight a small army better than you without even being there. Especially once you consider that she is probably fighting everyone else's battles as well right now.
  
  Shaking my head, I focus on the girl in front of me, because that's what she is really, a girl. She barely looks fifteen, even if our analysts have pegged her at sixteen.
  
  She is dressed in a dark tie-dye outfit that almost looks like camo, but is still clearly tie-dye if you focus on it. Her mask is also tie-dyed, though much more colourful as it decorates her lower face.
  
  Frankly, she looks terrified right now. Even if she's trying to put on a strong front, I have enough training to recognise the dilated pupils and the slight shake of her hands and legs.
  
  I come to the obvious conclusion that she doesn't really want to be here, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the gangs likely 'asked' her to use her power to help them and that she felt that she couldn't really refuse.
  
  "Surrender peacefully." I demand, deciding on diplomacy and hoping she will take the rope I am offering her.
  
  With movement that borders on frantic, she raises her arms and takes an instinctual step backwards, eyes darting around as she starts speaking rapidly.
  
  "I-I-I didn't- I mean, I- they said- I couldn't- please- I-I'm sorry- I-" She says, her words jumbled and chaotic as she is too overwhelmed to speak properly.
  
  Mentally sighing to myself about kids getting in over their heads, I raise my hands placatingly and interrupt her with a calm voice, trained for de-escalation.
  
  "Take a deep breathe Melty, it's ok, no ones going to hurt you, I just need you to get on your knees and to keep your hands raised ok? Can you do that for me?" I ask as I start to slowly approach her.
  
  I observe her keenly, noticing the way she subconsciously takes the breath I asked her too and how she calms down slightly thanks to the fact before she drops to her knees with her arms raised and head bowed.
  
  I try to ignore her muffled cries as I turn to signal the troopers, past the gangsters between us that are still fighting with Tiamat.
  
  Getting my signal, they swap from rubber bullets back to foam and blanket the entire alley up to where I am, burying the gangsters completely.
  
  I don't know how many times I've thanked Dragon for developing containment foam, but the fact that it is breathable, letting us simply cover people in a cocoon, is incredibly helpful.
  
  Turning back to Melty, I am about to try to console her and bring her back to our defensive line with Tear until a piercing noise yanks my attention, making me spin back around to face the street.
  
  The sight that greets me paints a grim frown on my face as the sound grates itself deep into my ears as if to personally insult me.
  
  Resolved to get back to the main fight and limit casualties, I turn back to Melty and quickly speak to her.
  
  "Melty, just this once I will let you off, so go on and get out of here, and try not to get yourself mixed up in any messes like this again. Maybe consider joining the wards." With that, I don't wait for her response as I spin on my heel and run back into the fray, making sure not to touch any of the orange containment foam.
  
  Idly, I send one last thought back to Melty, hoping that she does end up joining the wards, for her own safety, before casting all thoughts aside and focusing on the battle in front of me.
  
  ...
  
  Crouched down behind the armoured trucks with the faceless troopers, I can't help but lament my new job.
  
  Counter intelligence sounds interesting, like something in a spy movie, but honestly it really isn't.
  
  For one, I certainly didn't get shot at as much as I am now when I worked in CI.
  
  As a brief lull in the near constant gunshots that preceded it opens up, I quickly peak over the truck and send a wheel of fire tearing down the street and burning up the cannon of air that was heading our way, intending to disrupt our formation.
  
  "WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THE FUCKERS!" A trooper to my left screams out, still barely audible over the renewed gunshots.
  
  I can't blame them for wondering. It must be just about every fucking gangster in the dams city shooting at us right now.
  
  Even worse is that they are probably all powered up by Blacked.
  
  I don't have confirmation of that just yet, but the line of gangsters groaning on the ground a few feet away from out trucks thanks to a generous amount of rubber bullets attests to the fact, as I can only assume they were hoping to punch the truck out of formation to make a way in.
  
  Another wave of foam flies over our heads in an attempt to capture them and I throw a ring of fire with it, hoping to stop it from being blown away.
  
  Alas, Merlin blocks my fire by erecting a wall of earth in its path, allowing Dovah to once again shoot it off to the side.
  
  Cursing to myself, I hear someone respond to the earlier trooper.
  
  "FUCK SHOULD I KNOW?! MAYBE THEY'RE JUST CELEBRATING NEW YEARS!?" Another trooper shouts in return, and I ignore the ensuing banter as I focus on trying to figure out a solution.
  
  It's times like this that I really wish we were allowed to use lethal force, but as they say, the first two letters of the PRT are PR for a reason.
  
  Wouldn't want the public to think we Heroes were anything less than morally perfect after all.
  
  The thought makes me glance back to the centre of the formation where Tear sits alone.
  
  I notice the way her head keeps snaping from side to side, looking at everything happening around her, even twisting her body in a way that seems painful to see behind her.
  
  With how much she is shaking, compounded with her frantic movements, I can't help but come to the conclusion that she is terrified right now.
  
  Being chained downs in the middle of such a conflict must be reminding her of her time with Jason that no doubt gave her a rather severe case of PTSD.
  
  However, as much as I might want to comfort her, protecting her comes first.
  
  I do notice that there is some blood around one of her feet, but I quickly focus back on the fight, assuming it to have just been an injury from when her transport got destroyed, not to mention that it's already healed since she seems fine.
  
  The fight continues as a stalemate for a minute or so, even with Tiamat backing us, her focus is too split up to properly handle them, not to mention, she has to also focus on keeping things non lethal.
  
  After all, getting punched in the face by a golem of rock can very easily be lethal, even more if she forms her golems with claws and blades like I know she can.
  
  But as it is, she has to fight at a disadvantage, we all do, that's the price of being on the side of the angels and it really sucks sometimes.
  
  Another wave of foam passes overhead as we simply aim to keep the stalemate until someone else is available to assist us.
  
  However, as I rise again, repeating the same action, knowing it won't work, things change.
  
  I throw a ring of fire, just like last time. And just like last time, Merlin blocks it while Dovah protects them all.
  
  Only, this time I don't duck back down.
  
  Instead, before I even realise what I'm doing, in an almost haze like state, I throw another two rings of blue fire.
  
  Except this time I don't aim for non lethality, instead I aimed for the largest concentration of them, not for a second even doubting my decision, despite knowing that I will be in a shit tonne of trouble for doing so.
  
  The gangsters in front of me clearly weren't expecting a change to the rhythm of the battle as a large number of them are engulfed in flames.
  
  A chorus of agonised screams ring out as I duck back behind cover, not understanding my own actions.
  
  It only takes a moment for me to remember all the master/stranger training we all get put through so that we may be able to identify and possibly neutralise anything that is effecting out minds in some manner.
  
  At first I think I'm being mastered, but since I seem to still have proper control over my body, I scratch that theory off and consider my mind properly.
  
  If anything, it's like being drunk, only without the intoxication.
  
  Getting a theory, I decide to test it and turn to the trooper next to me.
  
  Then I simply think about slapping their ass, something that I am far to professional to ever actually do, and yet before I can even comprehend it properly, my hand is already on their ass.
  
  "I DON'T THINK NOW'S REALLY THE TIME!" He shouts out in a weird mix of annoyance, confusion and amusement.
  
  I ignore him however as I turn on my com and shout urgently into it.
  
  "MASTER! THERE'S SOME KIND OF MASTER EFFECT ON ME THAT I THINK HAS REMOVED MY INHABITIONS! BE CAREFUL OF YOUR ACTIONS!" I shout, letting everyone know that there is an unknown on the field.
  
  With that in mind, I am almost afraid to attack again, the screams from earlier still audible.
  
  Yet, even as I am thinking that, I find myself standing up and throwing another slew of fire at the enemy, only stopping when a pair of troopers pull me back down.
  
  Shit.
  
  Why can things never be simple?
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Did you know that the author of Jujutsu Kaisen hates Gojo because he's too overpowered? Well, I'm having a similar problem, in that I didn't create these characters with the idea of them fighting in mind, so now I am figuring out who would win as I write.
  
  I am so unprofessional :
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  40 Fight! 3 It Goes On
  A/N: Just because I can't remember if I already explained it for those that don't know Worm, the Triumvirate is the group of Heroes that lead the protectorate, being Alexandria, who is superman without the laser's, Legend, who is just the laser's and Eidolon, who is whatever he feels like. There was also Hero, but Siberian killed him, also they are all super powerful. Anyway.
  
  When we started planning this assault, it was immediately obvious that I would have to take on one of their fliers, considering that since Morgana kicked it, I've now become the only flyer in the city who isn't with the heroes.
  
  With that in mind, it became a question of which hero I should fight, the woman with the too long name, or her fellow Triumvirate downgrade.
  
  But the simple fact is that no matter how much she is weaker than Alexandria, something that everybody except for her seems to realise, she is still stronger than me, even if only slightly, so a fight between us wouldn't accomplish anything.
  
  Which is why I went for Epic, knowing that at his best, his laser's will only hurt me a little and that our manoeuvrability is pretty even.
  
  So as soon as I saw him moving, I dragged the both of us into one of the nearby office buildings, hoping the limited space will be to my favour by making the fight a close quarters one.
  
  Immediately after bursting through the wall, Epic twists us so that I am facing the direction we are flying so that he can use our momentum to help him blast me off of him using a blast of red energy from his chest.
  
  The impact itself hardly hurts since he was in the area of impact as well and he lacs my Brute rating, so if he actually tried to hurt me, he would have probably killed himself and no one wants that.
  
  However the weight of the impact was still enough to push me away.
  
  Now, I may not be a scientist, but even I can only accredit 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘦𝘳'𝘴 having 𝘸𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 to power fuckery.
  
  After blasting through a few disused desk cubicles I get ahold of my flight enough to strafe to the side, allowing a violent crimson beam pass by where I was.
  
  Looking up, I see Epic flying backwards, obviously planning to leave the building to allow for better movement, not something I can allow.
  
  Thinking quickly and knowing I won't be able to just catch him by charging at him, I begin flying towards him while picking up the nearest throwable object, which just happens to be a water cooler that happens to still be full, and throw it at him as hard as I can.
  
  It crosses the distance between us in a blur, but Epic reacts fast enough to send a laser to destroy it.
  
  Thankfully, the jug full of water on the top isn't destroyed with the rest of the cooler, disconnecting instead and continuing with it's velocity.
  
  With no other choice, Epic is forced to dodge the jug, strafing above it.
  
  But that single moment of him slowing down was all I needed to close the gap and reach him.
  
  Right as I am about to reach him, he launches a blast straight for my face, but with gravity assisting my flight, I am barely able to dip underneath it and lash out with one arm as he tries to gain more distance.
  
  Managing to grab a hold on his leg, I twist laterally and throw him into the ground hard enough that he crashes through it and into the floor below, impacting the floor but not breaking through a second time.
  
  Not wanting to give him any time to breathe, I charge right behind him, hoping to get him in another grapple so I can overwhelm him.
  
  Only, the moment before I reach him, he splays his arms to his sides and lets out a pair of low powered blasts that reverberate around him and kick up a cloud of dust, covering him completely thanks to the building being abandoned for so long.
  
  Seeing the cloud deforming to my right, I grin.
  
  "Gotcha!" I shout as I crash forward, only to obliterate a chair instead of Epic.
  
  With no time to react, Epic lands a clean hit on me, his laser's hitting me centre mass and launching me into the wall hard enough to crack it, but not hard enough to send me outside.
  
  As I focus back forward, ignoring the slight ringing in my ear, I see Epic floating in the middle of the room, with the dust settling around him and the chaotic red glow of his laser's surrounding him.
  
  He sends me a cocky smirk that pisses me of in a profound way, then he speaks, his voice light and casual. Mocking.
  
  "𝘎𝘰𝘵𝘤𝘩𝘢." He says, parroting me.
  
  I respond by ripping a chunk out of the wall and throwing it at his face.
  
  Naturally, the chunk of concrete is blown to dust immediately, his attack not even slowing as it reaches for me.
  
  I dodge the first beam by flying under it and the second over, but the third I simply tank, brute forcing my way though, only to realise that I have hardly actually gotten closer to him.
  
  Deciding to repeat my earlier success, I start throwing everything I pass by at him, forcing him to split his attention enough that I am able to get close again.
  
  This time, I don't throw him away and instead I mount him as I fly us both into the ground and start punching him in the face.
  
  He returns fire with his laser's, but he can't hit me hard enough to dislodge me without also hurting himself, so he starts looking for weak spots, even making a cheap shot at dick.
  
  Thankfully for me, my Brute rating covers my whole body, leaving no spot weaker than the other, something that Epic learns intimately as his laser's bounce off of my eyes.
  
  It's a delicate balance, hitting him hard enough that he will feel it, but not so hard that it kills him.
  
  After all, killing a hero is never a good thing, not that I even really want to kill him in the first place, Epic is one of the good ones after all.
  
  However, my beating of Epic doesn't last long as the ground below him suddenly comes to life, opening up a hole for us to fall through, only for arms to reach out and grab me, allowing Epic the opportunity to separate us.
  
  It only takes a moment to break free of the inanimate grasp and join Epic in the floor below, but in that time I don't fail to notice the smirk of satisfaction that grows on his face and I know that my own expression is the exact opposite.
  
  Tiamat has joined the fray.
  
  That means that our own big hitters will also be joining in the vain hope that they might actually be able to stop her.
  
  "How about you just give up?" Epic 'kindly' suggests, "it's not like you lot could beat Her, even if she was alone. If you come peacefully I can put in a good word to lower your sentence."
  
  Despite the polite tone he's using, I find myself getting even more pissed off at him and the fact that I know he is doing it on purpose just to get this exact reaction out of me just pisses me off even more.
  
  "Don't talk like it's already over!" I shout as I charge forward once again, crashing through a line of golems made from office ware that try to stop me to no effect, the materials simply not sturdy enough to have any effect.
  
  However, right as I am about to reach Epic again, I notice a bunch of sunbeams appearing on the floor, like the shade of a tree, making me look up.
  
  The sight of hundreds of humanoid golems coming crashing down on me will be forever burned into my mind as Tiamat seemingly decided to simply turn the 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 into golems.
  
  The weight of it is enough to bring me crashing down into the bottom floor, but before I impact the ground, I quickly twist myself so that I am vertical.
  
  When I hit the ground, I make use of my power to not bend or buckle, using my own body as a spear to dig through the pile of golems, and using the floor as extra leverage, I jump with all my strength, the boost in speed allowing me to break through the pile of debris.
  
  Not expecting such a sudden counter attack, Epic is caught unprepared as I launch my battered form straight into him.
  
  Pushing my power as hard as I can, I manoeuvre until I have him in a choke hold, barely even noticing as we fly over the main battle and ignoring a sudden chorus of agonised screams to focus on knocking Epic out.
  
  Struggling to breathe, Epic writhes around in my grasp, launching sporadic blasts of energy that do nothing.
  
  Eventually, Epics struggles start to cease, until he stops moving entirely, falling unconscious.
  
  Then, without thinking I simply let go of him, our fight over, and let him drop to the ground as I survey the situation below.
  
  The first thing I notice is how much of a chaotic mess the street is in, but after looking at it for a moment longer, I start to see the pattern to the chaos.
  
  The second thing is the sheer 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 of golems Tiamat has, and still is, erecting. From the horde keeping Cu boxed in, to the golems moving to join the already impressive horde around the Argonauts, more noticeable due to the orange men made out of dried containment foam.
  
  Then I turn to see the final part of the battlefield and am shocked into stillness by the sight of the charred and half melted bodies decorating the side of the street, just outside of the ring of PRT armoured trucks.
  
  It's then, with startling clarity, that I realise that we are losing.
  
  We are losing badly, and it is all because of Tiamat. Without her, the battle immediately turns to our favour.
  
  The thought turns my attention back to the woman in question, and in doing so, brings Epic back into my line of sight, making me realise something.
  
  He's going to die.
  
  Without his flight, a fall from this height will kill him.
  
  For some reason it takes me a moment to realise why that even matters, but then the realisation hits me with the force of a semi.
  
  "SHIT!" With a curse, I dive down after him as fast as I can, but I am not fast enough and he impacts the ground with a sickening crunch only moments before I reach it, just a mere dozen or so feet away from Tiamat herself.
  
  Fuck, is all I can think as I look at the definitely dead hero.
  
  "NOOOOOO!" Comes a grief stricken cry that shocks me out of my reverie, making me turn to the side, my mind still too chocked to think about flying.
  
  That proves to be my undoing as the moment I turn I am greeted by the sight of an enraged Bungee's glowing fist engulfing my field of vision.
  
  Even knowing it can't hurt me, I still flinch back from the strike, only to suddenly be pulled back the way I came from, faceplanting into the ground.
  
  The impact doesn't effect me, but my mind is still occupied on why I would do something as stupid as dropping Epic to his death like that.
  
  Unless...
  
  Maybe I've been mastered?
  
  But why?
  
  I am brought out of my thoughts by a sudden feeling of danger, my hair standing on end like I am facing certain death.
  
  Frantically, I spin around, looking for the source of the feeling, only to stop dead in my tracks as I see a tower of black energy rampaging towards me.
  
  Recognising Excalibur's power at work and knowing just how dangerous it is, I immediately turn and attempt to flee, only to make it two metres before Bungee's power snaps me back to right were I was.
  
  I have no time to try anything else before overwhelming pain envelops my entire being as I feel myself being torn apart, down to the very molecules as darkness takes over the world.
  
  Then, nothing.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I spent legitimately 20 minutes trying to come up with a funny chapter title, but I couldn't think of anything to go with 'Fight! 3' the way that electric boogaloo goes with 'anything 2', so I ended up using phrase finder to find phrases to do with 3 and ended up just making use of a Robert Frost quote, where he describes life in 3 words.
  
  There is an updated map with last chapters events on my profile too.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  41 Fight! 4 the Fourth
  A/N: Just saying but there's another updated map on my profile, though it's getting increasingly hard to understand lol
  
  Watching the chaos unfold around me, I can't help but gape in sheer 𝘢𝘸𝘦, even as I shake from excitement and honestly maybe a little bit of arousal at the same time.
  
  The sight is just so 𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵.
  
  Never in my life, have I ever felt so fulfilled as I do right now, watching this display of... 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘰𝘴~ and knowing that 𝘐 am the cause of it almost brings me to climax!~
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘩𝘯𝘯~ 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘢 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰𝘰~
  
  I can't help the soft whine that leaves my throat at the thought, but no, I'm not a player in this game, so even if I want to, it would ruin it if I joined in, like playing capture the flag and the flag suddenly pulls out a gun and shoots you in the back.
  
  No, I can't ruin the game.
  
  Instead, I will just do my best to enjoy it, something I find very easy to do.
  
  While watching Bungee dance and weave his way through hordes of gangbangers is indeed an impressive sight, it simply lacks the... 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘰𝘴 I'm looking for, the mayhem.
  
  Same with on my other side, where Kitsune and some troopers are trading fire with with a bunch of them as if this is supposed to be trench warfare.
  
  It totally ruins the game if they don't actually 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 you know? Just hiding behind cover and trading fire doesn't count.
  
  At least those Argonauts know how to do it properly, standing out and facing the dastardly villains with bravery befitting their title.
  
  Sucks for them that they're so bad at it though, because as much as Atalanta is kick ass with that bow of hers, she kind of falls apart in CQC, leaving her teammates to pick up the slack, which at least one of them is doing.
  
  I honestly don't know which is who, but one of them is doing an amazing job of fighting Hermes with his staff, somehow keeping up with pure skill against an opponent much faster than him.
  
  The other one meanwhile is working together with Atalanta against Bathory and somehow they are still getting their assess kicked.
  
  Then again, I guess I can't be too harsh. It would be difficult to fight someone who can just straight up ignore any of your attacks.
  
  But her weakness is pretty easy to figure out, so they must not be the brains of their group for the fight to still be ongoing.
  
  Fortunately for my attention span, a sudden change brings about renewed interest as Dynamite makes his appearance, something that seems to spur the star of today's show into action as Tiamat finally comes out to play.
  
  That is enough to bring the chaos of the battle to a whole new level as the ground and the walls and everything else suddenly starts coming to life, taking shape until I am surrounded not just by armoured trucks, but by an army of fake men.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵, is when the fighting picks up in earnest, as I watch Tiamat get engaged by the heavy hitters of the villains.
  
  I almost let out a whistle after glancing around in appreciation of how scary the dragon lady is.
  
  She's basically just fighting everyone herself, relegating the other heroes to support.
  
  But as fun as that is, I do notice one thing that rather annoys me.
  
  As much as everyone is fighting, no one is actually 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  It brings me back to a conversation I had with Jinx where he was explaining some of the finer details of how capes operate. A lot of what he said seemed pretty stupid to me, like the 'unwritten rules'.
  
  Basically summed up as; don't target a capes families, don't unmask a cape and don't kill capes.
  
  Apparently it's something about keeping things from escalating and reducing collateral, but to be honest I stopped paying attention pretty quickly.
  
  But anyway, apparently capes tend to hold back a lot when they fight, like what's happening now, and I think that's boring.
  
  Which is why, even if I didn't fully believe him at the time, I still made sure to make preparations in case the fight wasn't fun enough.
  
  With that in mind, I bring one of my tails out, willing for it to be much smaller than it usually is, only moderately surprised when it comes out about half as wide as my leg.
  
  I wasn't actually sure if I could do that or not, but it's nice to know I can.
  
  I make it slide down my body, underneath my clothes until it hits the bottom of my pants. Here, I quickly look around to make sure no one is watching me and seeing that everyone in my immediate vicinity is otherwise occupied, I move.
  
  My ribbon strikes down on my foot, cutting it in half and grabbing it in the same movement.
  
  By the time I've dragged the cut off half to behind my back where my hands are tied, my foot has already grown back to full without blemish.
  
  Fiddling around for a second, I find it difficult to navigate behind me at first, but quickly get the hang of it and start looking for my secret ingredient.
  
  It is not difficult to find it, considering its solid glass material a stark contrast with my own squishy flesh.
  
  After grabbing the little tube, I quickly stuff my foot in my mouth and swallow it down with only a couple of bites.
  
  No reason to leave myself lying around after all.
  
  Finally, after all of that, I have in my hands a vial filled with a compressed gas that mini James somehow cooked up that supposedly lowers the inhibitions of anyone it comes into contact with.
  
  Of course, I made sure he made me an antidote first, though considering his specialty is 'anti-something' drugs, he insisted that I call the antidote an 'anti-anti-inhibitions' drug.
  
  Shrugging my shoulders, I crush the vial in my grasp, allowing it to quickly spread through the air.
  
  It's colourless, but not completely odourless, at least not to someone with enhanced senses like me anyway.
  
  Obviously I wasn't expecting any immediate changes, so I went back to watching the Argonauts, though at this point it's more like I'm just watching Tiamat fight.
  
  What was two villains beating up three heroes, has suddenly turned into three villains getting beaten around while three heroes take pot shots.
  
  Seriously, being able to turn into steel doesn't do much against an army of golems, some of whom are also made from steel, though I will admit, it is very, very cathartic to watch Dynamite getting his ass kicked so thoroughly.
  
  As for the other two, Hermes' speed doesn't really help him much when he's fighting against a hive mind of mannequins. I give him another twenty seconds before he's out.
  
  Then there's Bathory. honestly, it just makes me even more disappointed in the Argonauts that even when she's not actually here, Tiamat could still figure out how to win, while also fighting how many other battles?
  
  See, Bathory seems to have some kind of limit to how long she can be in her mist form, and the amount of time she has spend as mist has been going down with the fight, making me think it's a case of needing to breathe.
  
  Thus, the obvious counter is to just keep the pressure up so that she has to stay as mist until she can't anymore, which Tiamat is doing just fine.
  
  Right as it looks like the villains are about to be defeated, a series of piercing, agonised screams ring out, rapidly bringing my attention to my right side, where Kitsune is.
  
  What I see makes my grin turn even more feral. I have no doubt that behind my mask my smile is wide enough to show far too many teeth.
  
  I guess the drug is working.
  
  I watch as Kitsune's fire tears through a crowd of men, reducing them to cinders or even better, leaving them alive but half melted to the ground.
  
  It takes all of my willpower to not burst out into the mad cackling that I am desperate to release, something that gets even harder as a pair of people fly overhead.
  
  Epic and Uncle Tom.
  
  Watching Epic die was a little upsetting, because I did actually quite like him, but honestly that just makes this even funnier.
  
  Think about it, I set all this up, fully intending for a lot of people to get hurt, and yet I end up hurting even myself, isn't that just hilarious?
  
  My shoulders start shaking even harder as I desperately try to hold in my laughter.
  
  Then, it becomes clear that the drug really is kicking in as Bungee goes and sticks ole Tom to the ground, following which Excalibur disengages from the monster cat and launches a beam of death at Tom.
  
  Wait a minute.
  
  You do realise that Tom is standing in between you and the ring of troopers, right Cali?
  
  I fail to hold in a few chuckles as I am forced to wriggle to the side in order to avoid the tower of dark energy that engulfs Tommy boy and then proceeds to 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦 it's way through the formation of trucks, carving a straight line almost through it's centre.
  
  Honestly, I wasn't actually expecting there to be friendly fire, not that I am complaining. I am certainly happy about this development.
  
  As if Excalibur's attack was some kind of hidden signal, everyone seems to step up all at once.
  
  I briefly spot Kitsune attacking Dovah and Merlin now that there aren't anymore normals in the way before my attention returns to my front as I see Cath's gigantic form crashing into the horde of golems around her boss.
  
  However, that is about all the villains manage to accomplish as Tiamat's golems start shifting, their hands turning into claws and swords as their bodies stop seeming do humanoid, turning to efficiency over aesthetic as they change into killing machines that quickly dogpile the pair.
  
  At the same time, off to the side I see Avalon kicking Eraser's ass, wailing on the man even after he falls to the ground, decorating his hands and the area around Eraser's face with tantalising blood.
  
  Following the sound of another scream, and ignoring the way my head is snapping around like a kid in a candy store, I get to watch as Hermes is skewered by three spear like limbs, while Bathory seems to reform unconscious thanks to Tiamat's relentless barrage of attacks.
  
  Unfortunately for her, Tiamat doesn't seem to much care about the fact that she is unconscious and proceeds to beat her into the ground anyway.
  
  Damn, she really is just a one woman army.
  
  Even with the strength both of them are capable of, Cath and Cu both fail utterly to even get close enough to hurt Tiamat, especially once the three other heroes around her join in.
  
  Well, I think it's fair to say that this is a win for the heroes.
  
  Heh, as if.
  
  What is a good show without a plot twist at the end after all?
  
  With that thought driving me, I carefully bite my tongue off and once it has regrown, I use my new tongue to search for the tube I had hidden inside of it.
  
  After all, I was turning myself in to the heroes, they would obviously confiscate any of my stuff, so I had to figure out a way to sneak in my surprises, and I was pretty sure they checked the ole holes.
  
  They didn't, but whatever, better to be safe than sorry.
  
  With my regeneration, it was no problem to hide stuff inside of me, since I can just get it out like right now.
  
  After a bit of struggling, I eventually point one end of the tube a little bit out of my mouth, and then I realise that my mask doesn't have a mouth hole.
  
  𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘩
  
  Quickly bringing one of my tails back out, in it's miniature form again, I use it to lift my mask up a little, then I puff my cheeks and I 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘸.
  
  The needle inside of the tube flies straight and true, managing to hit the draconic woman in the thigh from where she stands, thirty feet away from me without her even realising it.
  
  I wonder how this will change things.
  
  Who knows, maybe the heroes can still pull through? They do have the numbers advantage now after all.
  
  A moment passes and then without and warning whatsoever, each and every golem suddenly grumbles to the ground.
  
  The battlefield stills as everyone looks at Tiamat in shock and confusion, though none look quite as confused or shocked as the woman herself.
  
  There we go, that should even things out a little bit.
  
  Was that a good use of my last 'fuck your powers' drug? Probably not, but I think it's worth it.
  
  A good show is forever after all.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I started writing this after being awake for 24+hours again, not really very happy with how it turned out but eh, what can you do.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  42 Fight! 5 It Don't Stop Coming
  A/N: Once again, new map on my profile
  
  Ethan wasn't used to cheering for villains, which makes sense, considering his now former occupation.
  
  Yes, former. It seems the life of Madcap, jail buster extraordinaire has come to an end.
  
  Not that he ever actually broke anyone out of any prisons, but he did make a living breaking people out of prison transports to the birdcage.
  
  After all, the birdcage is the kind of prison where they truly lock you away and throw away the key.
  
  No one knows where it is, aside from probably being in Canada. No one knows how it works, all we know is that no one has ever escaped.
  
  There are a number of people who don't even believe it's real and that anyone sentenced to the birdcaged just gets shot or something.
  
  Either way, Ethan set out to spare people from that fate, for a fair price of course.
  
  That was until a sexy new Hero decided to stop him and after failing seven times, she actually managed to succeed.
  
  Thankfully for the man formally known as Madcap, the PRT was willing to offer him a deal.
  
  His only condition was that he be partnered with the Hero who caught him, Battery.
  
  Naturally, with her calling herself Battery, Ethan couldn't help himself and called his new Heroic persona Assault.
  
  Ahhh, the glare she wore when she heard it, it still makes him smile thinking about it.
  
  The best part is that they've only been partners for a day, so there is plenty of fun to be had.
  
  With all of this in mind, Ethan is slowly getting used to being a Hero, rather than a villain.
  
  Which is why, Ethan is not used to cheering for the Heroes.
  
  But when he was scrolling through the web, looking for something to do, since he's not allowed out unless it's with a 'fellow' Hero until his probationary status runs out, he came across a livestream by some clown guy calling himself Fool.
  
  At first he thought it'd be something fun, he is dressed like a clown after all, and Ethan loves fun. But alas, he instead ended up watching a cape fight.
  
  Not just that, but quite possibly the largest cape fight he's ever seen. In fact, he's only ever heard of Endbringer fights having so many parahumans.
  
  At first it seemed like it would be a classic case of villains underestimating Heroes as Tiamat seemed to have everything under control, more or less, which is expected of the only cape he recognised of the bunch.
  
  That was until everything started going to hell in a handbasket.
  
  Ethan was gripping the arms of his chair so hard that the only reason it wasn't being crushed under his grip was the active use of his power.
  
  When that black beam shot through the ring, he thought it couldn't get any worse. But apparently dozens of people dying just wasn't enough as Tiamat's golems start tearing the villains to pieces, ending life after life.
  
  Until, she wasn't.
  
  All of a sudden, the army of false life just suddenly 𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵.
  
  "Woah~ looks like someone's having performance issues.~" The Clown says, though Ethan hardly pays him any mind.
  
  Instead, he is focused on the single thought that he can manage before the chaos before him redoubles.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘶𝘤𝘬?
  
  The question of why did she stop dies before it can form as one of Cu Chulainn's spears sails through the air in the next instant, making full use of the sudden opening.
  
  With everyone still in a mix of shock and confusion, nobody is able to react in time as the spear pierces straight through Tiamat's chest, the force of the throw dragging her body backwards until she is pinned to the side of one of the remaining PRT trucks.
  
  Ethan can only gape in horror as the villains push their new advantage with renewed vigour.
  
  Maybe becoming a Hero was actually a stroke of fortune, he thinks, if it means being given the chance to stop scenes like this.
  
  ...
  
  It wasn't supposed to go like this, is all Sydney can think as she watches her boss' spear pin Tiamat to a truck.
  
  It was supposed to be a simple retrieval. We go in, grab the Clown and leave. That's it. There wasn't supposed to be some big fight.
  
  Yet, so many people have died, friends and enemies alike. All I wanted was to get Sean back, but we've already lost more people than we were hoping to gain and now Tiamat's dead or dying.
  
  I don't know what will come of her death, but one thing I do know is that it won't be good for us.
  
  Frankly, the Red Branch might just be dead.
  
  But that doesn't mean I'm just going to stop. Not now, not here and especially not when the bitch responsible for all of this is sitting around right in front of me.
  
  I just hope Merlin is ok.
  
  However a fight isn't the time to think about such things, so instead of dwelling on my thoughts, I focus on getting the people in front of me out of my way.
  
  Excalibur makes the mistake of launching a beam at Cu, something that he dodges with ease, giving me enough time to close the distance.
  
  Raising my four front paws, I slam them both for Excalibur, planning to get their offence out of the way first by pancaking him.
  
  Predictably, his fellows get in the way, Bungee making a screen of his power that absorbs my attack to no effect and Avalon who just stands in the way, my arm breaking from the force it impacts him.
  
  But that's fine, I was never supposed to succeed in the first place.
  
  As Cu likes to say, people love having a target to focus on, so what's better for grabbing peoples attention than a gigantic monster bob-cat like me?
  
  With both of them holding me in place, Excalibur is free to launch another blast directly on my chest, but once again it does no damage, even if the force sends me stumbling back.
  
  However, as I stumble, Cu charges in, making use of their distraction and Excalibur's cooldown to land a solid right hook that sends the man sprawling to the ground.
  
  In the same movement he spins and strikes the blunt end of his spear into Bungee's forehead, faster than he can react to it, putting him down.
  
  At the same time, Avalon lands a punch on Cu's back, but his Brute rating is enough that he doesn't even react to it, but just the same, Avalon doesn't react to his return punch.
  
  But already knowing how his power works, Cu is ready.
  
  The moment Avalon freezes, Cu stabs a pair of spears into the ground around him, then he does so again, until he has no more spears left and Avalon is trapped in a newly created cage, unable to move.
  
  That's when I join him and as much as I want to go and rip the bitch in front of me to pieces, I still wait for Cu to direct me.
  
  "Go help out Merlin. I'll have a nice chat with the clown." He says, his eyes not leaving the woman who is still sitting in the centre of the chaos looking incredibly relaxed for someone sitting in the eye of the metaphorical storm.
  
  Still, I don't need to be told twice and quickly start running towards the fire slinger that's giving Merlin a tough time.
  
  It only takes me a couple of bounds to reach her, to which she twists around and throws a ring of fire at my face that burns nothing.
  
  Not in the mood to bother with giving her a chance to speak, I simply bat her to the side, sending her flying into one of the relatively untouched trucks.
  
  With that done, Merlin and Dovah make their way over, both sweating rather heavily.
  
  "Hey Cat, thanks for the assist." He says with a smile that I cannot match in this form.
  
  All of our heads snap to the same direction as we hear a scream, one that did not belong to Tear as I expected it would, instead being the Argonauts who are being beset upon by a pack of spectral wolves and an angry silver man.
  
  "It's about fucking time he did something", Merlin says before turning to Dovah, "why is he only now helping huh?"
  
  Dovah suddenly starts looking nervous, glancing between Merlin and I before sighing, understanding the position he is in and answering honestly.
  
  "He was supposed to grab the bitch while everyone was distracted. Obviously we didn't think things would end up like this." He says and although I want to be mad at him, I just can't.
  
  The grief in his voice is just too real and too relatable right now. After all, at least one of his friends is now dead and his leader might be joining the fallen, if he hasn't already.
  
  With that in mind, I just let out a huff and turn to join Cu, who is crouched down in front of Tear, just staring at her in silence while she shakes.
  
  Dovah meanwhile, sees that his teammates have the Argonauts under control and runs over to Eraser, hoping beyond hope that he is still alive.
  
  Cu briefly tilts his head to acknowledge our presence before focusing back on Tear, who is still shaking, almost violently.
  
  At first I thought it was out of fear, something that Merlin clearly thinks as well, going by what he asks Cu.
  
  "What did you say to her to get her shaking so much Boss?" He says, trying to sound conversational but failing to hide the way his eyes drift towards Hermes' still form, littered with holes.
  
  But that is when Tear starts laughing.
  
  𝘓𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  As if this is something to laugh about!
  
  I feel my rage growing at her 𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 laughter and right as I am about to lash out, Cu stops me, resting one of his arms on my front right paw.
  
  After a moment, during which the only sound of the now still battlefield is that of her mad laughter, she eventually manages to collect herself enough for Cu to attempt conversation.
  
  "You think this funny? Dozens of my men have died today, hundreds of men overall, and you 𝘓𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩? Tell me, what is so funny."
  
  As much as he sounds casual, there is a steel to his voice that anyone could notice, a rage hidden behind his words.
  
  Apparently, this woman is either oblivious or stupid, as she elects to ignore that steel.
  
  "Hahaha- you said- hah- you said it yourself no? So much destruction, so much death~ hahaha! Can't you see!~ Haha isn't it just such a laugh!? Hahaha" She says, her voice filled with laughter and madness.
  
  Filled with shock, I tilt my head so I can look her directly in the eyes, and what I see somehow manages to scare me.
  
  Don't get it mistaken, the woman herself doesn't scare me in the slightest.
  
  But those eyes, those pulsing crimson orbs are something else.
  
  Filled with malice and malice and insanity and blood and 𝘦𝘤𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘺.
  
  It's then that I realise, she isn't just happy about this, she 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴 for this, this madness.
  
  She is truly, insane.
  
  The two with me seem to come to the same conclusions if their visible discomfort is anything to go by, and Cu decides to just get to the point.
  
  "Equaliser. You are going to tell me where he is." Cu demands, only to receive more laughter in response.
  
  "Hehehe- why should I tell you? Haha, you're going to kill me anyway~, so why should I?~ Hahahehehe" She laughs, falling to her side as her laughter becomes too much, not helped by the chains binding her.
  
  "You will tell me, or I will make you tell me." Cu demands again, however this time his words seem to suddenly sober her up as her laughter cuts off without warning, leaving her smiling eyes staring directly at Cu in silence.
  
  "Oh~~ and how to you plan on doing that exactly, hmm?~ Torture?~ I'm afraid it's a bit too late for that.~" Her voice comes out with it's own chilliness, a strange mix between jovial and dangerous.
  
  "It doesn't have to be you. I lost loyal friends today, perhaps I should return the favour and take from you?" Cu says, his anger colouring his tone more than before.
  
  However, Tear remains unphased, drooping her head to the ground as she answers in a strange tone.
  
  "Will you now?~ Well, I won't mind if you do. But you might find it a difficult task. After all," Here she pauses momentarily, just long enough to look back up at us, her closed eyes somehow conveying her smile through her mask.
  
  "𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺'𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺.~"
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Gotta get a Kakashi reference in there.
  
  This fight scene has been kicking my ass and it's finally coming to an end.. hopefully.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  43 Fight! 6 There's a Second Phase?
  A/N: Final map update on my profile :)
  
  Looking at the trio in front of me, I can't help but lament that maybe getting Tiamat out of the picture skewed the balance of the fight a little bit more than I first realised.
  
  Really, I thought that doing so would lead to a long and close battle, but from the time Tiamat's powers shut down to all the heroes being out of commission must have been less than a minute.
  
  Still, I have no regrets. If I am to die here then I will die happy, having just witness the greatest show of my life.
  
  Not that I am simply going to lie down and die, but escaping from the two capes in front of me will certainly not be easy.
  
  Oh, and I guess Merlin is here too, but he's kinda weak so I don't bother thinking about him.
  
  Perhaps sensing my reticence, Cu Chulainn gives up on trying to intimidate me and instead crouches down to eye level, giving me a rather intense look.
  
  "You've had your fun, haven't you? What purpose is there in leaving Equaliser to die? It's not like you will be able to see anything that comes of it, so in these last moments of yours, could you please just do something nice, and tell me where my friend is. Please?"
  
  Moved by the honest plea and the vulnerability he is showing, I can't help but review my actions with guilt and remorse and decide to do my best to atone by telling him what he wants to know.
  
  ... Heh, as if.
  
  Instead of any of that, I smile as I start talking, making sure that my tone is as mocking as I can make it as I do so.
  
  "Gee, if you insist, fine then.~ Though I hope you're a good runner,~ cuz I'd give him, ehhh, about, half an hour? Something like that, I don't know what the time is. But last I saw him he was in pretty bad shape~ I don't know who hurt him, but I'm sure it was deserving~ either way, he has less than an hour left if he doesn't get treated.~"
  
  Without any warning, I am suddenly eating tarmac as a strong hand smashes my head into the ground hard enough to crack the ground and shatter my mask.
  
  Luckily, I still had my backup masks and as they are cloth rather than hard, they don't shatter.
  
  Which is good considering that without being given a chance to say anything, my head is hoisted up and then slammed back down again.
  
  Then a few more times just for good measure, until the ground is caked in blood and my face is deformed and broken.
  
  Ow.
  
  Pulling me up by my hair, Cu brings our faces close together as he breathes out a single demand through gritted teeth.
  
  "Tell. Me. Where he is." He says with incredible intensity, not even commenting on my maskception.
  
  With a smile on my freshly healed face, I give him his answer.
  
  "Corner of Hawthorne avenue, the house with the blue roof." I lie.
  
  It's not like he can tell after all, so I just said some random location that is about thirty minutes away by car.
  
  The truth is that the loser is probably already dead. After all, he only needed to be alive long enough to convince their comrades to try and save them.
  
  "Run fast~ time's running out.~" I mock as Cu lets me go and gets to his feet, turning to his companions.
  
  "You two check on Bathory, then go find where the fuck Sieg is and meet me back in the usual place." He orders before turning to me.
  
  "As for you. Well, it's like you said. You're already dead."
  
  The moment he says that, I burst forth with all of my speed, all of my tails forming behind me to push me even faster.
  
  The chains binding me break easily, as they didn't use the super tough restraints on account of my cooperativeness.
  
  In less time than it takes to blink, I am upon Cu, intending to kick him away and make a run for it.
  
  Only for him to sidestep my kick with ease and then drive his arm straight through my chest, obliterating my heart.
  
  Suddenly impaled, I freeze and look down at the arm piercing me and feel a globule of blood rise up my throat, only to be coughed up inside of my mask, splattering my face with blood.
  
  Huh.
  
  Then, again without saying anything, he rips his arm out and grabs me by the leg, picking my body up in a dizzying movement only to 𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘮 me back into the ground with incredible strength, shattering every single bone in my body.
  
  "You regenerators are tough, but you always have limits." I distantly hear him saying before the next think I know is his boot descending upon me.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩
  
  A field of beautiful and familiar red flowers that I now know to be spider lilies greet me.
  
  It takes a moment for me to gather my bearings and understand what is going on before it hits me.
  
  "Am I dead?" I ask no one in particular, not really all that surprised when I receive an answer anyway.
  
  "Unfortunately not dear." I hear from behind me.
  
  Turning around, I am greeted with a familiar sight.
  
  "Mom. You look well." I greet, ignoring her apparent opinions on the fortune of my continued life.
  
  "Thank you. A shame I can't return the sentiment." She teases, making me smile as the tension in my shoulders that I didn't even know was there relaxes.
  
  "So, I'm not dead?" I ask, making her roll her eyes.
  
  "Not yet."
  
  "I distinctly remember Cu's boot coming down on my face, and I'm pretty sure that means my head is going to pop like a grape." Is my dry response.
  
  "So? You'll get better."
  
  Huh, well that's good to know.
  
  "Cool, but that doesn't really explain what is happening right now. Why are you here? Last time it was to berate me." I ask, not quite pouting.
  
  "I'm here to berate you of course." She says with saccharine cheer.
  
  "Of course." I blandly echo.
  
  "Say, do you even know what your power is?" She asks, confusing me for multiple reasons.
  
  "The part with the tentacles and super strength or the part with the fucked up genie in the shape of my mother that doesn't actually even grant wishes?" Comes my biting remark.
  
  "The former." She says without missing a beat.
  
  Sighing to myself, I resign myself to just going along with whatever fever dream is happening right now.
  
  It worked out well enough last time after all. If it ain't broke and all that.
  
  "My power enhances my body and gives me tentacles of freaky blood muscle, while also making me eat people." I answer, feeling like a kid getting called on in class.
  
  𝘚𝘪𝘨𝘩.
  
  "You are a smart girl Lusia, you really are. So 𝘸𝘩𝘺 is it that you seem to choose to be such an idiot?"
  
  I just shrug my shoulders at her accusing tone.
  
  "Dumb people have way more fun than smart people. Besides, what have I done for you to call me an idiot haah?"
  
  The both of us just stare at each other in silence for a moment.
  
  "... Ok, apart from kinda but apparently not dying. But that was for a good cause do it doesn't count!" I quickly defend my reckless actions, as I am fully willing to die for my entertainment.
  
  Shaking her head at me, my mom walks closer to me and cups one of my cheeks with her palm. I don't do anything to stop her.
  
  "Your power is so much 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 than you have realised. If you'd just pay a little bit of attention to it, you would have realised as well." She says, confusing me as I try to think about what she is alluding to.
  
  She interrupts my thoughts by continuing her own words.
  
  "You have been limiting yourself. You think of your power as just the tentacles, not even considering it taking any other shape. You are holding yourself back. Haven't you been feeling your back 𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦?"
  
  I have, for a while actually, my back has been itching like crazy but I've just been ignoring it honestly.
  
  "Stop holding yourself back. Just let it all go. Let everything out." She says, like the whispers of the devil.
  
  Deciding to trust her, I do as she says.
  
  I feel deep within myself, into that metaphysical well that I draw from to manifest my tails.
  
  I feel it, feel what is contained within me.
  
  Then I simply relax.
  
  I stop controlling it, stop trying to keep it in line or bounding it to any particular thoughts.
  
  I just let everything go.
  
  For a moment, I bask in the warm feeling that spreads through my being, like being enveloped in a warm hug, but a million times better.
  
  Then, I open my eyes.
  
  ...
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩
  
  Watching Boss splatter the little psycho's skull across the road might just be the most satisfying thing I have ever seen.
  
  The only thing that could have made it better is if it was me who did it, but I'm not picky.
  
  After checking her pulse to make sure she's dead since you can never be sure with regenerators, Merlin and I watch Boss rush away, heading for Equaliser as fast as he can and I can only hope he makes it in time.
  
  "C'mon Cat, let's go see if Bat has kicked it or not." Merlin says, dragging my attention away from the corpse as he tries to help my mood with levity.
  
  Unfortunately, I can hear the grief in his voice just as well as I can feel my own.
  
  As we walk over to Bathory, which just happens to be where the remainder of the Street Saints have gathered, standing around Dynamite who is nursing a bad arm, one thought comes to the forefront of my mind.
  
  What a shitty day today has been.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬!
  
  Both of us still at the cracking sound that reverberates through the empty street, only to be followed by even more cracks mixed with a disgusting squelching noise.
  
  Slowly, almost but not quite fearfully, we turn back to the source of the noise.
  
  There, where Tear lay broken and dead, we can see clearly as her body rapidly puts itself back together, flesh bubbling and growing as it fills in the gap where her heart was as well as rebuilding her entire head.
  
  It is disgusting to watch, yet compelling in its own morbidly fascinating way.
  
  Only, it doesn't stop.
  
  Even after her body is rebuilt, her flesh keeps bubbling, keeps growing.
  
  Strange, chitinous-esque armour flows and wraps around her torso, shaded an obsidian black tainted only the slightest bit by hints of a purple hue. It continues to grow, as her recognisable ribbons burst out of her back, now numbered six, still pulsing with that eldritch purple mixed with the red of fresh blood.
  
  Then, as if that wasn't enough, a massive, thick tail of mulched flesh pushes its way out just below the ribbons, easily as thick as her body, until it stretches to five feet away from her and suddenly splits itself into dozens of tiny tentacles, each a small part of one whole.
  
  Too shocked by the sight, none of us move a muscle as she continues to grow, the chitinous flesh growing over her arms until they are hulking, dragging on the floor beneath her, each arm as wide as her waist and topped in vicious looking claws.
  
  Then, the creature before us leans forwards, hunching itself from where it now stands, facing away from us, as from her back, a pair of crimson and purple clouds of cackling energy 𝘣𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘴 its way out of her back in some twisted mockery of sprouting wings.
  
  The creatures new limbs start swaying and dancing around, like a scorpions tail they sway about, as if they are exploring a new environment, testing the limits of their manoeuvrability.
  
  A few moments pass in silence as we all collectively gape at the horror before us until I decide to take action, planning on putting it down for real this time.
  
  Only, as soon as I take my first step, each of the abominations new limbs 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘪𝘭 followed by stilling completely.
  
  Then it moves, straightening itself out for a moment, only to tilt backwards, as if it is going to fall over.
  
  Mid way through it's fall however, it catches itself with it's multitude of tails, it's arms laying uselessly by its side as it twists its head diagonally, making a horrible cracking noise like it's breaking it's own neck just to look at us.
  
  When I finally do see its face, I watch as its blood pours over it, hardening to form a pure white mask that covers it's face without any openings.
  
  That is, until the lower half of the mask cracks open, transforming into a maw of razor-esque teeth, already dripping with saliva as a too long tongue lolls out of it's mouth, hanging off from the side of the mask.
  
  "𝘿𝙤𝙉'𝙩 𝙔𝙤𝙐 𝙜𝙀𝙩 𝙄𝙩?" It says in a distorted, dangerous voice that sends shivers of genuine fear down my spine.
  
  "𝙇𝙞𝙁𝙚 𝙄𝙨 𝘼 𝙘𝙄𝙧𝘾𝙪𝙎. 𝙞𝙏'𝙨 𝘼𝙡𝙇 𝙟𝙐𝙨𝙏 𝙢𝙀𝙖𝙉𝙞𝙉𝙜𝙇𝙚𝙎𝙨 𝙀𝙣𝙏𝙚𝙍𝙩𝘼𝙞𝙉𝙢𝙀𝙣𝙏."
  
  With that chilling statement as a signal, it 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘴.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  My god, this boss fight has a second phase!
  
  Don't worry, the fight will finally end next chapter... hopefully.
  
  God I hope it ends next chapter.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  44 Fight! 7 Final Phase
  In a blink, the monstrous new form of Tear disappears, reappearing upside-down above Dynamite.
  
  Held in place by a pulsing violet ribbon each, Dynamites limbs are spread wide, with the other two ribbons piercing the ground in front of and behind him in order to hold Tear up above him, alongside her hulking arms standing either side of him.
  
  As it hovers above him, it's head looks straight down, bending at a 90 degree angle that hurts to look at, making it's brown hair that is showing ugly white roots dangle beneath her.
  
  It opens it's grotesque mouth, saliva dripping down onto Dynamite as it's distorted voice sounds out.
  
  "𝙎𝙢𝙀𝙡𝙇𝙨 𝙇𝙞𝙆𝙚 𝙂𝙖𝙍𝙗𝘼𝙜𝙀, 𝙜𝘼𝙧𝘽𝙖𝙂𝙚, 𝙂𝙖𝙍𝙗𝘼𝙜𝙀, 𝙮𝙊𝙪𝙍 𝙛𝙊𝙧𝙈 𝙞𝙎 𝙜𝘼𝙧𝘽𝙖𝙂𝙚."
  
  While saying this, it lowered itself down until their faces are only a foot apart, at the same time, it's thick tail carefully moves down to Dynamite, splitting into dozens of thin copies halfway through.
  
  "M-monster." Dynamite stutters, horrified and shaking as much as his bindings allow.
  
  Suddenly, the tiny tentacles burst forward into his body, striking in different places before slowly pushing themselves further into his body, making him scream out as unbearable agony suffuses his entire body.
  
  Even with flesh of steel, the tentacles pierce his body with ease and begin digging their way through his bones and organs until his body stills, incapable of moving without the threads of blood allowing it.
  
  As this is happening, the monster simply stares down at him, it's face carving into a far too wide smile as it's cracked jaw starts salivating even more, like a ravenous beast.
  
  Yet it does not strike, seemingly lost in simply watching, mumbling to itself in a voice that sounds like ten.
  
  "𝑻𝒉𝑰𝒔 𝒊𝑺 𝑴𝒚 𝒓𝑶𝒐𝑴, 𝑫𝒐 𝒀𝒐𝑼 𝒍𝑰𝒌𝑬 𝒊𝑻? 𝒑𝑼𝒕 𝑻𝒉𝑹𝒐𝑼𝒈𝑯 𝒕𝑯𝒆 𝑹𝒊𝑵𝒈𝑬𝒓."
  
  It's insane ramblings and the odd clicking sound being made as her appendages wave around, as if a new-born, curious about the world, make the scene even more alien, increasing the fear of everyone present to the point that they cannot even bring themselves to move, silently listening as the monster rambles on, making no sense.
  
  "𝑾𝒂𝑺𝒕𝑬 𝒏𝑶𝒕, 𝒘𝑨𝒔𝑻𝒆 𝑵𝒐𝑻. 𝒏𝑰𝒏𝑬 𝒉𝑼𝒏𝑫𝒓𝑬𝒅 𝑨𝒏𝑫 𝒏𝑰𝒏𝑬𝒕𝒀 𝒕𝑯𝒓𝑬𝒆! 𝑯𝒆𝑯𝒆𝑯𝒆!"
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  The sounds of bones breaking rings out like an unholy gong, shocking everyone out of their trances as they notice how Dynamite has just broken his own finger.
  
  Except before anyone can even react, Dynamite suddenly starts to bloat, his face locked into a rictus of pain, his mouth open in a silent scream as his body starts to slowly expand.
  
  Then, the expansion suddenly accelerates immensely, his body 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 outwards in a horrific display of human anatomy, painting the street with blood and viscera.
  
  The sudden turn of events make everyone watching recoil in disgust and shock, yet, when Dovah reflexively steps backwards, his foot kicks a piece of debris over, making a clanking noise.
  
  A noise that immediately causes the Monsters eyeless face to snap in his direction, its stretched smile seeming to have even more teeth than before.
  
  "𝒀𝒐𝑼 𝒕𝑨𝒍𝑲 𝒕𝑶𝒐 𝑴𝒖𝑪𝒉. 𝑷𝒓𝑬𝒕𝑻𝒚 𝑭𝒍𝑶𝒘𝑬𝒓 𝑴𝒆𝑨𝒏𝑺 𝒅𝑬𝒂𝑻𝒉!~"
  
  With another burst of movement, the Monster rushes for Dovah, however before it reaches him, it is intercepted by an even larger monster as Cath moves to defend her fellow villain, even if they are not on the same side normally.
  
  "RUN!" Her giant form shouts, and even though she is normally impossible to understand in this form, everyone understood her meaning rather easily and only Merlin hesitates to obey.
  
  However after shouting her warning, Cath ignores the others and focuses all of her attention on the smaller, but far more monstrous thing before her.
  
  Ramming herself straight into it, Cath grabs the Monster in her jaw and bites down, only to be unable to bite all the way through, making her change strategies and start running as fast as she can head first into anything sturdy looking in sight, breaking through everything using the body in her mouth.
  
  But even after destroying multiple buildings with Tear not even trying to fight back or escape her grasp, Cath realises something.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴𝘯'𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  With that though diving me, I change tactics. Raising my snout high, I swing it down, releasing the thing from my grip and sending it crashing into the ground at a speed that would kill any normal human the moment they touched the ground, but I've already seen that that is enough.
  
  Before it even touched the ground however, I am already raising my paws, and I bring them down as hard as I can, repeatedly.
  
  The earth quakes as the sounds of my attacks reverberate like gunshots, but I don't stop, not until the ground in front of me is cratered and dust is everywhere in the air from the ruined building surrounding us.
  
  Finally stopping in my attacks I stand there, panting from excursion but not letting my guard down, as I wait for the dust to dissipate so that I can see how much damage I've done.
  
  Not that I have to wait long, as the dust cloud is suddenly blown away as the very air itself moves to grant me vision.
  
  I don't need to look to know it's Merlin, and as much as I want to tell him to leave, I know he won't listen. So instead I focus on the hole I made in the ground.
  
  Inside lay Tear. Her new form broken and battered, the chitinous armour covering her body cracked all around, or simply missing in places, while all her extra limbs lay helplessly by her side.
  
  I almost let myself believe that it's over for real this time, that she's finally dead.
  
  But then one of her 'wings' suddenly snaps up, followed by a soft sound that almost resembles a charge of electricity before a 𝘣𝘭𝘶𝘳 leaps forth from it, passing me by.
  
  My head follows the movement with delayed horror as I recognise the direction it is traveling and the moment I finish turning I am forced to witness as Merlin drops to the ground with a spike of white bone shot through hie left eye.
  
  It almost feels as if the world falls away and loses all meaning as my most precious person is taken from me before my very eyes, a deep and profound sense of sadness and grief filling me.
  
  That grief rapidly turns to rage but when I turn to the target of my rage, I see no one.
  
  Suddenly without a target for my anger, I start frantically looking around until I hear it.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩
  
  My head moves so fast that even transformed I'm surprised my neck didn't snap.
  
  There, using her gargantuan arms in place of her legs stands Tear with Merlin's body dangling in front of her, held up by her tentacles with one arm raised to Tear's cracked face where I can see that his hand is missing with fresh blood dripping down the Monsters porcelain face.
  
  "𝑱𝒖𝑺𝒕 𝑺𝒍𝑬𝒆𝑷 𝒊𝑵 𝒕𝑯𝒆 𝑻𝒓𝑼𝒄𝑲, 𝒊𝑫𝒊𝑶𝒕."
  
  In my state of shock, I ignore it's nonsensical words as I simply stare at where she defiled Merlin's body, idly noticing as all the damage I had done to it rapidly heals itself until it doesn't look any worse than at the beginning.
  
  No, in fact it looks 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 than how it started. More streamlined, like it's still improving.
  
  Then she takes another bite making me lose all senses of patience and simply charge her with a roar of pure loathing.
  
  As soon as I start moving, she tosses Merlin away like he's trash not worth her time and moves to meet me head on.
  
  She swings forward, landing on the ground with her own two feet and right before I reach her, she digs all six of her ribbons into the ground around her.
  
  Then when I swing down with my front two paws intending to repeat my actions earlier and crush her, she raises her own arms, almost as large as mine and swings both of them up, meeting mine in the middle.
  
  I expected to simply crush her with little resistance, but instead neither of our blows gain the advantage over the other.
  
  Instead, the impact causes a boom to sound off like a bomb as a shockwave spreads out around us, shattering the debris that makes up our battlefield into even smaller pieces thanks to the sheer force being released.
  
  However, while am I momentarily surprised by our even match enough to pause for a microsecond, Tear evidently isn't as her tail, now fully formed as a thick singular tentacle, whips itself around and into my side with incredible force, causing another booming noise to sound out as I am sent tumbling to the side.
  
  I quickly get to my feet and ready myself to defend or attack, only to see the Monster hovering itself 20 feet in the air, standing on her ribbons with her tail split up and splayed out behind her like a fucked up halo of gore, her crackling wings helping sell the image of a demonic, eldritch angel.
  
  "𝑾𝒉𝑨𝒕 𝑨 𝒍𝑨𝒖𝑮𝒉.~ 𝑰𝒕 𝑾𝒂𝑺 𝒂𝑵 𝒂𝑪𝒄𝑰𝒅𝑬𝒏𝑻!" It half yells, sounding playful at first and then suddenly defensive.
  
  But I don't care what it has to say. I only care that it dies.
  
  With no plan coming to mind, I stick with the basics and launch myself at it once again, not caring about strategy.
  
  Before I even get within arms reach of it, it's ribbons simply lift it slightly higher up making me fly under it, during which I see the ribbons all leave the ground and feel it land on my back.
  
  When I hit the ground, I immediately try to move, to shake the Thing off, but before I can even try, I feel a pair of heavy impacts right on the back of my head that drive me straight into the ground and even though I recover quickly, I am unable to move afterwards as it's ribbons wrap around me, locking my legs in place.
  
  At the same time, I feel the pair of massive arms wrap around my neck as Tear's masked face appears right in front of one of my eyes.
  
  The blank white mask with only a gaping maw of razor sharp teeth slowly starts to morph one again as I line cuts open vertically through the centre of the mask, starting at the middle and ending right at the top.
  
  That cut then starts to widen, to open and show what lies beneath.
  
  Slowly, a single blood red eye makes itself known, pulsing with malice and bloodlust and filled with violence, the single eye, far larger than any eye has the right to be, and it stares deep into my soul, filling me with a primal fear that I have never felt before in my life.
  
  Then, six more cuts open up, three either side of the large eye but horizontal this time. Each one is much smaller, matching the size of a normal persons eyes however once they open I can see that they hold the same sadistic glee within them.
  
  The eyes of the Monster stare at me for a moment, before it's horrid mouth opens once again and I can taste the coppery tang on it's breath as it speaks.
  
  "𝑪𝒐𝑵𝒔𝑻𝒓𝑼𝒄𝑻𝒊𝑶𝒏 𝑷𝒂𝑷𝒆𝑹. 𝒉𝑶𝒘 𝑭𝒂𝑹 𝒅𝑰𝒅 𝒀𝒐𝑼 𝒄𝑶𝒖𝑵𝒕?"
  
  It makes no sense and I can't understand it, but that doesn't change the way I start to shiver as my fear starts to overcome my anger, something that is only exemplified when her tail comes into view once more, dangling in front of my head.
  
  It splits into two and one half moves towards one of my eyes, while the other moves to the other.
  
  It's the moment that the two halves both split into many smaller tentacles that I realise what is about to happen.
  
  Closer and closer they come, my fear rocketing with each inch of distance they cross.
  
  Then, pain.
  
  Intense, unbearable 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯.
  
  I 𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘭 as agony envelops my mind and body.
  
  I feel myself screaming, 𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 in suffering but I cannot hear it over the feeling in my skull.
  
  But after what felt like hours, eventually it stops.
  
  The pain goes away.
  
  Everything, goes away.
  
  𝘐'𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘔𝘦𝘳𝘭𝘪𝘯.
  
  Meanwhile...
  
  "Our strength may be equal, but only I can fly! It's over Siegfried! I have the high ground!" Ashurbanipal shouts as she hovers threateningly above him.
  
  "You underestimate my power!" He screams in return, leaping at her.
  
  It will only be after another few hours have passed that either of them will learn about the other events of the day.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Fucking FINALLY! Dear god this fight killed me. You can bet that the story is going to be significantly more tear focused for a while, not to mention fuck writing any fighting in the next few chapters.
  
  Also, I have once again not gotten any sleep for 24 hours as of writing this.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  45 Morning After
  "With the death count at thirty six and rising and the number of injured still being counted, the PRT still refuses to give any comment on the health of the injured Heroes in yesterdays disaster, but it has been confirmed that Epic and Tiamat are among the number of the deceased. A loss that will surely be felt across the whole city as we all mourn their passing.
  
  "This disaster has been unlike anything our fair city has ever seen before and with the number of capes in the city dropping so drastically, the question on a lot of peoples minds right now is, where is the parahuman who was in the centre of this tragedy. Where is Tear, what is she going to do next and most importantly, what will that mean for us? This has been James Theodore, coming to you from CNN with more at six."
  
  Rubbing the bridge of my nose, I try my best to recall what happened yesterday, the images of the destruction I apparently caused doing little to help me.
  
  A few hours ago I woke up behind some dumpster in a dirty alley with very little recollection of how I got there and with nothing being apparent around me to say that the show is still going on, I assumed it to be over and headed home for a nice long shower.
  
  Only after getting washed and into a fresh change of clothes, making sure to put my new 'uniform' to the side to be washed since only the edges are flayed and I want to keep wearing it, did I make myself comfortable on the couch and turn on the spare TV that I hid from mini James.
  
  That lead to me seeing the news and getting rapidly confused by my own memory, or lack thereof.
  
  I remember the fight, the beautiful, 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘶𝘭 fight and I remember the villains winning and Cu Chulainn talking to me, but that's when things get blurry and everything after that is just blank.
  
  It doesn't help that the news is only showing the aftermath of the fight, rather than the fight itself, which I'm pretty sure Fool would have been recording.
  
  One thing I do notice however is that I feel 𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘻𝘪𝘯𝘨, like I just got the best massage in all of time.
  
  That's probably part of why I'm content to just wait here in the house for my fellow Clowns to get here, assuming they will even come here.
  
  Either way, I am beyond comfy and fully willing to just rest and relax for a while.
  
  Before I even realise it, I am jolted awake by the sound of a door slamming, not even having realised I fell asleep.
  
  Idly noticing that the news is still talking about my play, something that makes me smile, I turn to the source of the noise which was the back door slamming shut and am greeted by the sight of mini James running up to me with a thousand watt smile.
  
  Only for him to trip over his own feet and faceplant, letting me know that Jinx is here before he even turns the corner, but little James isn't bothered and just gets right back up and jumps at me, giving me a big ole hug, one that I return, spinning us around to disperse his momentum.
  
  Pulling back from the embrace, he looks at me with stars in his eyes, shaking from excitement.
  
  "That! Was! AWESOME!" He all but yells at me, making me smile even wider.
  
  "Hell yeah it was~ I am pretty awesome after all~" I say, not even needing to think to know what he's talking about, my voice filled with exaggerated ego in order to hide the actual ego underneath.
  
  That is when Jinx walks into the room, also with a smile on his face, one that holds too many emotions for me to properly understand.
  
  At least, he's happy. That much I can tell and that's all that really matters.
  
  "Yo~ when you said you had a good show planned, I gotta say that I never expected it to be quite as... 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘧𝘶𝘭 as that, though I certainly enjoyed it." He says as he meanders his way inside.
  
  As he is moving closer, Jinx instinctually takes a sudden side step, avoiding the light bulb as it disconnects from the ceiling and falls right where he was standing, shattering on impact.
  
  All three of us stare at the shattered bulb on the floor for a moment.
  
  "... Are you gonna pay for that?" I ask, my voice as dry as the Sahara.
  
  "Did 𝘺𝘰𝘶 pay for it?" He returns with a raised eyebrow, and I can only concede the point with a nod.
  
  Mini James happily takes the opportunity of the lull in conversation to but in, speaking a mile a minute.
  
  "Hey, what was that thing you did where you turned into a giant monster!? How come you never did it before? Can you do it again? I wanna see! Show me! Show me!"
  
  I cut of his energetic rambling by grabbing his face so he can't make any more noise, looking down at him with a smile.
  
  "Slow down you little tyke, I literally have no idea what you are talking about, what do you mean I transformed into a giant monster?" I ask, genuinely curious.
  
  However my words make the both of them give me funny looks as if they aren't sure whether or not I'm being serious.
  
  "... This is a joke, right?" Jinx says, sounding uncertain.
  
  Raising one of my eyebrows I turn to him.
  
  "Are you laughing?" I ask.
  
  "No."
  
  "Then obviously it isn't a joke. After all, I'm hilarious. If I was making a joke, you'd be laughing." I say, my voice full of mock seriousness, and I am vindicated when Jinx lets out a humours snort.
  
  "See? That was a joke, and you laughed." I say, chin raised with an exaugurated upper class tone of voice. "Now, would you actually explain to me what you mean when you say I transformed into a monster?"
  
  As I say that, I realise that Jinx is just standing there staring at my face and not responding.
  
  Assuming he's lost in thought or something, I decide to get his attention by using what is closest.
  
  That just happens to be mini James who I pick up and lightly throw at Jinx, making them both fall the the floor with a yell.
  
  "Oi! What was that for!" Jinx yells while little James just starts laughing on the floor, clearly enjoying having been tossed.
  
  I can't help but think that Gimli would be disappointed.
  
  The thought makes me laugh, which I think makes Jinx think I was laughing at him. Not that I am going to bother correcting him.
  
  "You weren't answering me, so I had to get your attention.~" I say, my voice saccharine sweet, making his brow twitch.
  
  "By 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 James at me?" He pointedly asks, his angry face doing a poor job of hiding the amusement in his tone as he clearly found it funny as well.
  
  I just shrug in response to his glare.
  
  "He was the closest throwable object.~" Is my blithe answer.
  
  "Normal people don't consider other people as throwable objects." He counters blandly.
  
  "Normal people are boring." I state, matter-of-factly.
  
  He ponders for a moment instead of responding before grudgingly nodding his head.
  
  "Touché, normal people 𝘢𝘳𝘦 boring." He agrees.
  
  With that out of the way, I decide to bring things back on track a little.
  
  "You still haven't answered my question."
  
  Smiling in what seems to be light embarrassment, he scratches the back of his neck.
  
  "Ah," he says, "sorry 'bout that, it's just that I realised that this is the first time I've actually seen your face without the mask."
  
  That brings me up short as I think to myself, is this really the first time?
  
  A moment of though provides the answer that yes, it is the fist time he's actually seen my face.
  
  Then again, we have only known each other for like, a week or so, so it's not really all that surprising.
  
  Damn, it really feels like it's been longer than a week.
  
  Hell, I've only been a cape for like, three months or something but so much has happened that it's felt like years.
  
  Shaking away my memories, I focus back on Jinx and give him a lascivious smirk and lean forward slightly towards him.
  
  "Well?~ Do you like what you see?~" I whisper as seductively as possible, ignoring the way mini James fake gags off to the side.
  
  Jinx doesn't even miss a beat before responding.
  
  "Ever hear the phrase, 'don't stick your dick in crazy'?" He says with a smirk of his own.
  
  The response was so unexpected that I let out another laugh, which he mirrors with a chuckle of his own.
  
  "Still though, I 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 actually like to know what the hell you guys meant about me turning into a monster." I ask, serious for once since this is kind of important.
  
  He still looks quizzically at me for my question.
  
  "Do you really not know? How?" He asks, seeming genuinely baffled.
  
  I give him another careless shrug of the shoulders.
  
  "No clue. I remember up to Cu Chulainn talking to me, then everything kind of blacks out and the next thing I know I'm waking up in some abandoned alley." I patiently explain, wanting to know how my show truly ended.
  
  "Well, better to show you than just tell you." He says as he takes off his backpack and sets it on the table, me and mini James joining him on the couch on either side.
  
  At first I am confused when he opens the bag and starts taking out bubble wrap, before he takes out a laptop that is wrapped in even more bubble wrap and I remember exactly what his power is.
  
  I suppose, having lived with it long enough, he makes sure to be prepared.
  
  Booting it up, he opens his own website, FoolsNet, and clicks on the archived livestream of yesterdays events before skipping ahead to the end, where my memories end.
  
  "Here, watch and see." He says as he hits play.
  
  Watch I do and the more time that passes, the closer my jaw gets to hitting the ground as I watch myself transform into some kind of Lovecraftian nightmare.
  
  Holy fuck, that looks so cool. Is that really me?
  
  When the video ends, the other two are both looking expectantly at me.
  
  "What?" I demand, "this isn't like in the movies, I'm not just going to see this and suddenly get 'flooded with memories'. I still can't remember jack shit about this, which sucks cuz that looked cool as fuck."
  
  Jinx just looks amused, but mini James is as excitable as ever.
  
  "Can't you do it again!? I wanna see! Pleaseee?" He chirps, going as far as doing the legendary puppy dog eyes.
  
  I just roll my own eyes at him in response.
  
  Obviously I am going to try and replicate it, he doesn't need to say anything to make me.
  
  Closing my eyes, I focus on my power.
  
  The first thing I feel is an odd sense of freedom, like anything that was holding me back before is gone now.
  
  The next thing I notice is that I no longer have only one 'source' of whatever it is that my extra limbs are made up off, instead I now seem to have four.
  
  The one I've always had is located in the small of my back as it has always been, then there is another one beneath it, where my tailbone is. The other two are higher up on my back, one between my shoulder blades and one higher, nearly at the back of my neck.
  
  With a building excitement, I focus deeper on my power, gathering my mind, and then I start to 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘭.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Someone commented in an earlier chapter, predicting that her kakuja was going to be a copy of kaneki. I assume that was cuz've the torture scene being like his, but that was literally just for two reasons.
  
  One is because I wanted the black nails and Two is because I needed to give Tear a reason to make friends instead of just being alone forever.
  
  P.S I totally forgot that Eto's kakuja mask is basically exactly the same as Tears, I swear on my balls that that was not intentional, I was trying to make her kakuja somewhat original, and I just thought it was cool. Ah well, I'll change it up later to not copy.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  46 Changes
  Starting with what I know, I pull out my faithful ribbons, enjoying the ease in which they manifest, now numbered six. Then I move lower and start to pull again. This time the feeling is slightly unfamiliar, but just as natural as a tail as thick as my waist sprouts out of my back, forcing me to stand up from the sofa to accommodate it.
  
  With that done, I move up this time and focus on the 'source' between my shoulder blades, except this one doesn't so much as pull out as it 𝘣𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘴 out.
  
  Not stopping, I move to the final 'source' and repeat the process, feeling a weight grow and spread down my arms until it touches the floor, then it grows some more, making my arms about as long as my body.
  
  At the same time, almost unconsciously, I feel as 'fuel', for lack of a better word, from each of the 'sources' spreads out until it envelops my whole body in a warm embrace that makes me feel safe on an instinctual level.
  
  Only when I feel it starting to crawl it's way up my face do I open my eyes to be greeted to the sight of Jinx and mini James staring at me with dropped jaws and awe in their eyes.
  
  I feel myself preening under their stares as the hard, blood-like material covers my face, leaving me completely blind.
  
  Well that sucks.
  
  Understanding that I haven't been making proper use out of my power, I try something that I never even bothered to think was possible before.
  
  I try to change my power.
  
  I focus on my face, on the hardened blood that masks it, and I will myself to be able to see, focusing entirely on that single desire.
  
  Then, suddenly and without warning, light streams in as I can see again.
  
  No, even better than that, I can see with clarity that I have never experienced. I can see all the tiny little details of Jinx's face, every pigmentation in his eyes.
  
  I also notice that my field of view has sharpened incredibly, like everything in front of me is crystal clear.
  
  But as I am thinking about my field of view, I suddenly stumble as the strange feeling of having multiple perspectives suddenly assails me as I find myself even able to see things by my side and focus on multiple objects at the same time.
  
  It only takes me a moment to get used to the feeling before I am moving all of my new eyes around with a familiarity I can only attest to instinct.
  
  With my newfound clarity of sight, I put my attention back on the pair in front of me, looking at them with three side eyes each, with my main, larger eye on Jinx.
  
  Both of them are still staring at me with their mouths agape, though while Jinx merely looks impressed, I can practically see the stars in mini James' eyes.
  
  I open my mouth to speak, only to be halted by the fact that I don't have a mouth, but like with my sight, that problem soon solves itself.
  
  I feel the hardened mask of white flesh that covers my face crack open, forming a large mouth, one that runs from one side of my face to the other, making it far too long, lined with a row of sharp serrated teeth.
  
  With that done, I can finally speak.
  
  "𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐥? 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨 𝐈 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤?" I ask, surprising myself with the strange distorted effect layering my voice.
  
  "You! Look! AWESOME!" Mini James once again shouts out, leaning forward to admire whatever I look like, but hesitant to actually touch me.
  
  "It's certainly scarier in person." Jinx agrees with a nod, holding his chin between his thumb and forefinger as he looks contemplatively at me.
  
  "𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫? 𝐎𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠? 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐚 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐨.~" I say, trying not to sound impatient, but I really would like to get a proper look at myself.
  
  Jinx quickly complies, even as little James just keeps staring at me, by getting out his phone and flipping it around to face me in selfie mode, allowing me to properly examine my new look.
  
  Funnily enough, the first thing that I actually notice is that the gross sickly white that my hair has become is starting to show again at the roots, but I quickly focus on the much more distinctive changes my body seems to have gone through.
  
  For one, my body is covered in some kind of segmented, chitinous-esque armour that is at first glance pure black, btu a closer look shows that it is decorated by veins of super dark violet that almost blend in completely.
  
  The armour itself is also pretty big, making me stand at what must be about seven feet tall, nearly two whole feet taller than my normal height.
  
  However, even with that, my arms are longer still, dragging on the ground like a gorilla's, thick and powerful in a way that reminds me of Jason.
  
  Heh, that's funny.
  
  It also pisses me off a little.
  
  So I try to change things again.
  
  I focus on my arms alone this time, from the tips of the claws all the way to the 'source' at the top of my back, and I will it to change, to shape it to my desires.
  
  Once more, my body, my power, obeys and I start changing yet again.
  
  My arms grow thinner and shorter, the excess mass extending out from the back of my elbow like a reverse sword. The mass covering my arms keeps changing slightly, morphing and condensing, becoming more streamlined as time passes and I get lost in the modifications until I feel that I am done.
  
  My arms, once massive and unwieldy, now more resemble a thick muscular, skinless arm, sharing the same colour palate as the armour covering my body.
  
  They are still wide, probably about half of my waist wide, but now they only extend a little bit further than normal arms, with the wicked retractable claws adding further length.
  
  But the most notable feature is still the giant blade of flesh sticking out from the elbows back, reaching as far as my ears when I stand with my arms straight down at my sides.
  
  With that distraction out of the way, I continue my earlier inspection, my eyes being drawn to the most visually apparent addition to my body, the pair of giant plumes of crimson purple energy in the snape of wings, sparking with electricity.
  
  A simple flex of will is enough to cause the 'wings' to flap, and following an instinctual feeling, I take aim at the wall across the room, and I 𝘱𝘶𝘴𝘩.
  
  The next instant, with a thrum of electricity a spike of bone is launched through the air almost faster than my eyes can see as it buries itself into the wall.
  
  Huh, guess I can do that now.
  
  With giddiness driving me, I move on to the final new addition, and turn my focus towards my new tail.
  
  The thick appendage swings itself around my body and into view, it's pulsing, flesh like form not matching my body armours colours, instead simply looking like a tentacle of mulched flesh.
  
  It is disgusting to look at, like a nightmare manifested in reality.
  
  Yet, 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯'𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘦𝘳.
  
  Then somehow it get's even 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 as it splits itself into a hundred pieces, like a jellyfish, only far more homicidal.
  
  Lastly are my ribbons, hovering around me like an extended ribcage, but they look mostly the same, just a bit bigger and tougher looking, not to mention there are six of them now, which is pretty cool.
  
  "𝐃𝐚𝐦𝐧" Is all I can say after properly admiring my new look.
  
  Yet there is only so long one can stare at something cool before wanting to do other things, so after spending an appropriate amount of time admiring myself, I eventually disperse the transformation as I start to notice just how hungry I am.
  
  No, not just hungry, I am practically 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  Holy shit, the more I think about it the hungrier I feel.
  
  I need to get some food in me before I go crazy again.
  
  But I don't want to snub my friends, so I walk over to the fridge and grab the emergency rations and quickly devour them, my hunger not abating even in the slightest.
  
  However I can hold myself together for a while yet, so I turn back to Jinx.
  
  "So, how are people reacting to my show? What's the word on the street?" I ask, simply wanting to know what's going on in the city.
  
  My question causes a malicious grin to grow on his face as he retakes his seat on the couch, where I join him after preparing three cups of coffee.
  
  "Well, I'd say that the main reaction is a mix of panic and fear. You've got to understand something here Tear. Before you came to Columbus, there were 47 capes operating in the city. Since you have arrived, that number has gone down by 18, or 19 if Excalibur doesn't pull through." He explains, making a lightbulb go off in my head.
  
  "Oh shit! I totally forgot, but who even died? I don't really know the casualties." I exclaim, mildly embarrassed that I forgot to even think about who survived.
  
  Jinx favours me with a wry smile and a roll of the eyes, but he answers nonetheless.
  
  "Well, from the Heroes side things weren't too bad comparatively, at least in terms of numbers, as the Protectorate only lost four members in Bungee, Epic and most importantly, Tiamat. That last one will probably be what has the biggest effect overall out of the whole game, since she was known nationally.
  
  "Then with the Argonauts, they only lost one, Asclepius, though Atalanta also lost an arm, which sucks for her since she uses a bow as her main choice of weapon. My guess is that she's going to go crossbow from now on, that or her leader, Argus, is going to make her some kind of robo-arm."
  
  Before Jinx can continue his explanation, he is interrupted by mini James.
  
  "I want a robo-arm! Can I get one!? Please!?" He yells excitedly.
  
  "Jesus Christ, how much sugar did you feed the brat", I say to Jinx before turning to answer mini James, "sure, you can have a robo-arm, just let me rip your arm of first, or it won't work."
  
  As expected, he pulls away when I reach for his arm, his face showing sudden hesitancy.
  
  "Why would I want a robo-arm, that'd be stupid." He says, blatantly forgetting his earlier words.
  
  But I just smile and focus back on Jinx, who gets the hint and resumes explaining.
  
  "On the villains side, Street Saints lost Dynamite and Uncle Tom as well as their leader Eraser while Red Branch only lost Hermes before you ended Merlin and Cath, making all three major gangs in the city now about even in terms of parahuman membership. Not to mention, most of the capes left are the weaker ones, so your presence here has single-handedly decimated most of the cities parahuman combat power."
  
  Ahh, if that sentence didn't send shivers up my spine then nothing would.
  
  "Man,~ you really know what to say to make a woman happy.~" I mutter, the joy in my voice evident as I bask in the sheer amount of death I have caused and the chaos that will follow it.
  
  "Only the insane ones," He responds, "though I do gotta ask, what exactly are you going to do now?"
  
  That is the question isn't it.
  
  This city is pretty much done for in terms of entertainment, what with most of the impressive capes dying.
  
  Besides, it feels like it would be wrong of me to hang around after putting on such a show.
  
  It's like rotational farming, you've got to let an area recover before you can use it again.
  
  So with that, my decision seems pretty clear.
  
  "I'm probably going to hit the road again." I answer, my voice firm but contemplative as I wonder about where I shall go.
  
  "We're leaving?" Mini James suddenly asks, his head tilted to the side in a manner I am sure he got from the TV.
  
  However, the truth is often cruel.
  
  Sorry to break your little heart kid.
  
  "No. 𝘐'𝘮 leaving. You're staying here."
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  The problem is that I am easily distracted, so I never get any writing done during the day, then when all I want it to go to sleep, that is the only time I can actually focus on writing, as I can't just click a single button on my favourites tab to be doing something else so I can't get so easily distracted as all I want is to sleep, but I won't do that if it means fucking up my schedule.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  47 The Last Supper
  I know intellectually that the heartbroken look mini James tries to hide should make me sad or regretful or something, and while I certainly don't 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 seeing it, I find myself not really caring all that much.
  
  I guess that's just the kind of fucked up I'm at now. But it all really boils down to the truth of life that Jason helped me realise.
  
  Life is a circus. It's all just meaningless entertainment.
  
  Feeling sad, guilty or otherwise negative emotions isn't entertaining. So I simply refuse to feel them.
  
  "What do you mean I'm staying here!? You're leaving me!?" Little James shouts with righteous indignation.
  
  I just roll my eyes at his tantrum.
  
  "No need to sound like we're breaking up brat. But yeah, I'm gonna hit the road and I don't really want either of you to come with me." I bluntly admit, getting the facts out straight away in order to lessen long term resentment.
  
  Contrary to mini James' reaction, Jinx looks like he was expecting this kind of thing and is happy to just stand aside as I work mini James through his feelings.
  
  "But why!?" He yells, tears coming to his eyes that do absolutely nothing to garner an ounce of sympathy from me, though I 𝘥𝘰 prefer when he's smiling and laughing.
  
  That's half the reason I invited him to join my Clown club in the first place.
  
  "Simple," I shrug, "the whole idea I had in mind when founding our little club of Clowns is that there would rarely be more than two of us active in the same city at once. After all, the whole idea is that we are each having our own fun but we know each other in case we ever need help for our fun, or want to share it with someone that understands."
  
  I pause for a moment to breathe and let them digest my words properly before I finish my explination.
  
  "After all, too many of us in one place and we might accidentally ruin each others' fun. Besides all of that, I just want a change of scenery, meet some new people, maybe make some more friends. It's not like we can't just call each other. We all have phones."
  
  While little James certainly understands my words, I can tell rather easily how much he dislikes them, something he emphasises by actually stomping his feet petulantly.
  
  "But why can't I come!? Why do you have to leave me!" He shouts, far more emotionally than I think I am genuinely capable of.
  
  Looking down on the kid, with his balled up fists and quivering lip, I answer in the same manner I've treated him since the start.
  
  With full, brutal honesty.
  
  "I'm sure you remember what the two conditions to joining our little club are, but just in case, allow me to reiterate. You must want to have fun, above all else and you must have something to offer the others, be it muscle,"
  
  Here I gesture to myself, before moving my arms to point to Jinx.
  
  "Information," I say before returning to little James and pointing at him.
  
  "Or resources." I finish, waiting a moment until I see that he is ready for me to continue, which I do.
  
  "Now, when I invited you to join me, you had the first condition down and you still do. But you only met the second one because I was under the assumption that you could keep making those power suppressants. Seeing as that is in fact 𝘯𝘰𝘵 something you are capable of, then that only means one thing,
  
  "𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳. At least nothing of significance enough, since we are supposed to be an exclusive group with high standards. So the simple fact is that I don't want you to come with me, because as much as I might like you, entertainment comes first and I don't want you getting in the way of mine."
  
  Perhaps one could argue that I am being a bit too harsh, but I would disagree.
  
  Mini James isn't so pathetic that something as pointless as words would break him.
  
  To my great joy, I am proven right as instead of breaking down into tears and self loathing, his eyes firm, still sad but also determined as he speaks with a seriousness that doesn't match his stature.
  
  "Then, what should I do? How do I get something to offer?"
  
  I try to hide my smile, but I guess these things can't be repressed as I feel a smile of pride take over my face.
  
  "Fuck if I know. You're a drug Tinker though, so become a drug lord or something. If you've got control of a significant enough portion of the cities underworld then you would have plenty enough resources to earn your membership, and I've even already softened down the scene for you. Taking over shouldn't be impossible, especially if you can convince Fool to help you out."
  
  He takes my blasé words to heart and starts looking contemplative, loosing himself to his thoughts and thus allowing the adults in the room to speak.
  
  "I figured you'd leave, but I didn't think it'd happen so soon. You got a time? Or are ya leaving right away?" He asks, his face impassive but his voice still carrying hints of acceptance.
  
  "Probably a day or two. Though, I'll make sure to let the Heroes know that I'm skipping town. That way you two probably won't have to deal with them sending in a bunch of heavy hitters to replace those they lost. If they know I'm not hanging around then you'll only have to deal with another couple of average capes instead."
  
  He tips his head slightly at my words, a thoughtful frown coming to his face.
  
  "Thanks for that. Do you want me to help set James up as a new drug lord?" He asks lightly while eyeing me intently.
  
  I just lean back into the sofa and respond without a care in the world.
  
  "Doesn't matter what I want. I do what I want, you do what you want. That's the whole point of being a Clown and it's the whole reason I don't want too many of us in the same area. If you want to help him out, do so. If you don't then don't. So long as you keep doing whatever it is you want to do, then I don't really care what exactly it is." I answer truthfully.
  
  I really do hate being told what to do after all, it's why I got in so much trouble in school. Before I dropped out that is.
  
  Any Clown is a friend of mine and I don't want my friends to be doing anything other than what they want to do.
  
  Unless of course it goes against me doing what I want, but that should be obvious.
  
  "Well, I'll probably help the kid. Building up a new drug empire does sound fun. Though keeping it stable after the fact sounds like a lot of work, so I'll probably leave him be once it's all set up." Jinx says, a slight smile gracing his face for a moment.
  
  After that, the room falls to companiable silence as we all just sit and think and relax.
  
  A few minutes pass like this, until the sound of soft breathing is interrupted by Jinx speaking again.
  
  "Any plan on where you're gonna go?" He idly asks, the question suddenly coming to him.
  
  Lying relaxed on the sofa with my eyes closed, I hear Jinx snort and feel pretty safe in the assumption that it's in reaction to the no doubt devilish smile that graces my face from his question.
  
  "Oh I have an idea all right. I'm going to visit the Big Apple." I say, my voice laden with excitement and anticipation.
  
  Jinx however, just sighs heavily, though a quick peek through my eyelids shows a fond smile resting on his face, despite the deadpan voice.
  
  "What did I expect. You really are insane, you know that?" He asks rhetorically, sounding more like he's talking to himself than to me, but I answer nonetheless.
  
  "Sanity is overrated. Only insane people can experience tragedy and have a good laugh about it, ergo, insane people are more fun than sane people. My logic is irrefutable, get fucked."
  
  Clearly, my logic truly is irrefutable, as no one refutes it, the room descending back into comfortable silence.
  
  It was only after a while later and a bit more small talk that I retired to my room for some proper experimentation with my powers, followed by a good nights sleep.
  
  Two days later, and I am ready to hit the road again.
  
  Mini James is doing his thing, inventing new drugs and getting ready to start mass production while leaving everything else to Jinx who is setting the necessary things up to start a criminal enterprise.
  
  'Fool' meanwhile, has been benched for the moment, as Jinx decided that he's going to be something of a record keeper and that Fool is mostly only going to come out to 'spread the fun', so to speak.
  
  That leaves me here, hopping across the roofs of the city, heading in a certain direction that Jinx assured me would allow me to meet a certain someone.
  
  Like clockwork, I see a pair of Heroes patrolling down on the street, exactly where he said they would be.
  
  Making my way over as sneakily as possible, I wait until I am walking beside them, only thirty feet higher as I am on the roof and they are not.
  
  Obviously I recognise one of them, since I they are who I wanted to meet in the first place, but the other one is new to me, not that I can't figure out who it is.
  
  Mairon, a Ward with the ability to manifest sparkling rings of energy that have varying effects on those who pass through the ring, or more often those who are forced through the rings, since he can move them.
  
  No doubt he would have been helpful to have during my game for the heroes, but as he is a Ward he was no doubt banned from joining, since it's one thing for adult heroes to die or be injured, but it's another thing entirely for a child hero to do the same.
  
  Not that it makes much of a difference. I'm pretty sure that Cu Chulainn is the only cape left in the city that can even stand against me, and I'm honestly just not all that interested in fighting him.
  
  Besides, I've got to leave 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 challenge for little James. He won't be able to grow if he doesn't overcome any difficulties, and I think the Irish Brute could be a good thing for him long term.
  
  Anyway, enough of such thoughts, I should be focusing on the future instead, though the present is even more important right now.
  
  With that in mind, I silently jump down from the roof, touching down on the street as silent as a cat, bending my knees just in time to absorb all of the force of my fall.
  
  Being barefoot helps in the stealth department, as I have decided that my prison outfit is now a permanent part of my outfit, so that I can be mocking the PRT every time I go out.
  
  Walking up behind the unassuming duo I mentally thank that they aren't talking, meaning I don't have to figure out when to introduce myself to the conversation.
  
  Instead I simply walk up to them and lunge once they are about to spot me, wrapping my arms around their shoulders like an old friend.
  
  "Hey there!~ Little Red! How's it been?~" I ask, enjoying the way they both jolt, attempting to make distance but unable to escape my grasp.
  
  Then my vision is covered in fire as Redemption bathes me in her power.
  
  It feels warm, no different from last time.
  
  That brings me relief. I mean, obviously I know I didn't feel any guilt over my actions, but Epic died, and I 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘥 Epic, so I was worried that I might have felt guilty, but doing this proves that I am just as insane as I like to be.
  
  "Hey now, that's no way to greet a friend~ I only want to have a quick chat.~" I say, my amusement growing as I can 𝘴𝘮𝘦𝘭𝘭 the fear growing in the pair, stuck in my grasp as they are.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Fuck I need to stop writing this shit when I'm so tired. I literally just finished it and I can't even remember shit about what I wrote, so sorry if this chap is ass.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  48 Corruption is Easy
  "P-please don't eat us" Mairon whimpers under my right arm as the embers of Redemptions fires, that only touched me in an impressive display of control, dissipate into nothingness.
  
  "My my Little Red~ what have you been telling your friends about me?~" I tease, utterly ignoring the growing fear I can smell on the pair, "shouldn't you be introducing your friend and I?~ I don't believe we've met~"
  
  From the way both of them twitch, I figure that someone in their ears just told them something. Obviously I don't know 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 they were told, but just going by the PRT's modus operandi when it comes to the Wards, I would assume it's something along the lines of.
  
  Don't piss off the cannibal serial killer cape that may or may not have purposefully caused a mini war in the middle of the day.
  
  In other words, play along.
  
  "U-uhm, this is Mairon. H-he's a Ward like me. Uhm, Mairon, this is Tear. We've met." Red introduces, only slightly nervous, though I get the feeling that she isn't actually all too scared of me hurting her.
  
  I may not have been a cape for long, but I have certainly been 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 in my time, and I have come to know the tone of someone fearing for their life very intimately.
  
  It sounds to me that she is scared of something less imminent, which rules out it being a fear of her companions death and or bodily harm.
  
  Hmm, what a conundrum.
  
  Still, I am in the middle of a conversation, can't just space out now, can I?
  
  "Now Red~ I thought we were closer than that, especially after having such a heartfelt debate.~" I say, referring to what I belatedly realise is actually the only conversation we have had, if you don't count the brief exchange of words we had when I punched her shit in.
  
  Then again, I can't actually remember if she said anything that time or if it was just the other one.
  
  Fuck, am I getting worse with names and faces?
  
  A moments thought tells me that no, that is not the case. It's simply that this city no longer interests me, thus those bound to the city no longer interest me, such as the heroes here.
  
  And frankly, I don't really see the point in bothering to remember things that don't interest me anymore.
  
  Ah well, there will be plenty of interest in the Big Apple, even if I don't plan on staying for all too long.
  
  I still have to actually 𝘨𝘦𝘵 there though.
  
  Anyway, the conversation goes on thanks to Red, who finally speaks up after shuffling uncomfortably for a few steps as I guide them to keep walking.
  
  Idly, I see a civilian walking across stop to stare at us, I just give him a quick wave, but he ignores me in favour of taking his phone out to record us.
  
  Man, people really have no self preservation instincts these days. It almost makes me want to kill him on principle.
  
  "... How are you still immune to my power?" Red asks, her voice barely above a whisper, shaking with an edge of desperation.
  
  I feel Mairon tense up even more and watch with amusement as he gives Red a look that even through his mask I can tell is a 'what the fuck are you doing' kind of face.
  
  I ignore him in favour of nodding to Red with a hum, gesturing for her to elaborate, something she does, no doubt in spite of the person in her ear telling her to do the exact opposite.
  
  I wonder if she's going to get in much trouble for this?
  
  Though to be fair, she could pretty easily get out of said trouble if she plays her cards right.
  
  You know what? If what she says is fun enough, I'll give her a little hint on how to avoid said trouble. It's not like it's complicated after all.
  
  "You set up that hole thing, didn't you?" She says, not afraid of me in the slightest, something I take mild offence to but find too amusing to do anything about, still managing to sound like she is lost in her head as she continues.
  
  "We don't know for sure, but you suddenly showing up and surrendering yourself, and the attack that we knew was coming, only we expected half the force and they seemed to also be expecting much less resistance. Then you did what you did at the end. You killed those people. Worse, I heard that you even 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥 them."
  
  After finishing her mini rant, her words getting more frantic the longer she spoke, she slows to a stop which I allow and turns to face me properly.
  
  At this point, I actually 𝘤𝘢𝘯 hear her earpiece as she gets shouted at, though I can't pick out the words, I'm sure they aren't too hard to guess.
  
  "So 𝘸𝘩𝘺. Why won't my fire burn you? 𝘞𝘩𝘺." She all but pleads, the desperation in her voice becoming clearer by the second.
  
  Well, not that I think it's really much of an accomplishment here, but I think I've made the expert deduction of what she is so afraid of.
  
  She is afraid that her ideals are falling to pieces by meeting me, because she doesn't seem to understand that her power doesn't understand morals and only seems to actually burn based on how much one views oneself to have sinned.
  
  So naturally, against someone insane like me, it hardly works. After all, I have done nothing wrong, except for mom, but I didn't do that consciously so it doesn't even count.
  
  Everyone who I've killed, indirectly or directly? They don't matter. Nothing matters.
  
  Not me, not them.
  
  Everything is meaningless, and I'm just trying to enjoy my meaningless life while it lasts.
  
  But saying that will probably actually help her come to terms with her power and be an overall healthier individual after the fact and that sounds boring, so instead of any of that, I say what she doesn't want to hear.
  
  "Because your fire burns the wicked, the 𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘭, and I am simply not evil. Now don't get me wrong, I am no saint, but I am not evil either. So I've killed a few people? So what? Death is a part of life and ending life early is a part of nature. You have to kill to live. It has been that way since life first began. It's coded into our very DNA."
  
  Even though the only emotion I can actually sense is fear and it's subsets, nervousness, shyness et cetera, I feel like I know exactly what the pair before me are feeling anyway.
  
  Mairon still hasn't said a word, not knowing what to do but clearly wanting me to shut the fuck up, fearing for the effects my words will have on Red, but too scared to actually speak up and say anything about it.
  
  Meanwhile Red seems to be taking my words like gospel from the mouth of the devil, in that she wants to accept my words, but is refusing to simply because it is me that is saying them.
  
  Really, she should be listening to that part of her telling her not to trust me, because I'm kind of a bitch.
  
  Still, I am sort of on a time limit since I'm sure that there are some hero reinforcements on their way and while I'm not afraid to fight them, I am similarly simply uninterested in doing so and would actually rather like to leave today.
  
  With that in mind, I decide to put the final nail in the coffin of this conversation.
  
  "Do you know what's truly evil?" I say with 𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘴, getting Reds full attention immediately, "not death, but 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. Death leads to life. Death gives us food. Death gives us safety, just look at the army, soldiers prepared and taught to kill, all in service of their home. But what does deception lead to? It leads to nothing but corruption, in the home or in the law. It leads to heartbreak and injustice, to judges and juries giving unfair trials. Deception is evil, not death. So your power will not burn me, as I do not make a habit of lying. I am not evil."
  
  Desperate for an answer to her inner turmoil, Redemption happily latches onto my words, my little lecture burning itself into her skull.
  
  I can already see the effects immediately.
  
  Her shoulders loosen, as if some hidden tension just boiled away and her posture becomes more relaxed than before.
  
  Yeah, this has definitely been fun enough to give her another little nudge.
  
  "You're probably gonna get into trouble for talking to me right?~" I ask, already knowing the answer.
  
  The question makes her scowl slightly.
  
  "Yeah, though that's an understatement if I've ever heard one." He says, sounding as annoyed as she looks.
  
  I just smile behind my mask.
  
  "Well, just saying but your bosses will probably Lie to the Youth Guard and tell them we never met today, because they know that if the Youth Guard found out about any Wards being alone with me, that they would make a huge fuss about it. So all you have to do is threaten to spread the word and any punishment you could face from talking to me will be dropped immediately.~"
  
  Her eyes widen slightly, though whether it's from the mere idea of threatening her superiors or the realisation that it is she actually could do or something else entirely, I couldn't say.
  
  Either way, I still haven't said what I actually came here to say, so I quickly speak up so as to end this interaction sooner.
  
  "Well anyway!~ I only came to say goodbye to my favourite little red riding hood.~ See, I've decided I want to travel~ but I wanted you to know not to look for me first~ just in case you know?~" I say, to their apparent surprise.
  
  Deciding not to stick around, I let the both of them go and take a step back, preparing to leave, before Mairon suddenly shouts out, sounding just as surprised as I am about him suddenly finding his voice.
  
  "Wait! Where are you going to go!?" He exclaims, almost immediately clamming up after the fact, as if he expects me to take offence.
  
  Though, by the way he keeps trying to meet my eyes and then looking down immediately after, I get the feeling that he just finds my crimson eyes to be extra intimidating.
  
  Or maybe he just has a foot fetish and keeps looking down since my prison clothes looks better barefoot in my opinion.
  
  "Now now Mairon dear~ being too clingy will just push people away you know? A girls got to keep her secrets after all.~" Is all I say in response before I simply turn around and start to walk away.
  
  Only to inexplicably pause mid step.
  
  Now you wait a damn motherfucking minute.
  
  A thought just occurred to me after saying Mairon's name just then.
  
  But it can't be... right?
  
  No fucking way it's true. That would just be absurd.
  
  ... Still, I have to confirm.
  
  Slowly, I put my foot back down and half turn so I can face the boy himself, decked out in modern body armour that is styled to look medieval, with and edgy, spiky theme to it's silver splendour.
  
  "... Mairon." I state, making him stand straighter, "did you actually fucking name yourself after the motherfucking 𝘋𝘢𝘳𝘬 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘚𝘢𝘶𝘳𝘰𝘯?" I ask with incredulity overwhelming me.
  
  Forgetting his fear for just a moment, he suddenly fist pumps and turns to a suddenly exasperated looking Redemption.
  
  "A-HA! I 𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 you guys that someone would get it! I knew I wasn't the only cape who knew Tolkien!" He shouts with jubilance, right up until he turns back to me, likely wishing to talk more about Tolkien's works or something, only to abruptly remember who I am.
  
  That is when he clams up again, gaining a sheepish smile as he scratches the back of his head and takes a step back.
  
  "Aha.. sorry." He mutters, but I just shake my head with a put upon huff.
  
  Without another word, I turn around and simply leave, heading out for greener pastures, looking forward to whatever it is that comes my way.
  
  ... Though maybe I do quickly loop back around to kill that guy who recorded us.
  
  Like I said, it's just a matter of principle.
  
  You don't see superpowered serial killers in the street and just record them. You run or you beg. Or at least call the cops or some shit.
  
  With a sigh, I drop all thoughts in my head regarding the city of Columbus. Well and truly ready to move on and find some more toys to play with.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  ... so I am once again writing this after being awake for too long, but the good news is that I just finished reading a good wormfic that was distracting me, so I'll probs do better tomorrow... maybe.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  49 On The Road Again
  From Columbus Ohio to New York is about an eight hour drive, so to pass the time I have been musing on my power.
  
  It really is far more malleable than I ever thought it would be.
  
  For one, I have found that I don't explicitly have to have my extra's come out from my back. I can just as easily, say, bring my ribbons out from my stomach instead.
  
  It's actually pretty easy to do too, though I think I'm going to try and keep that under wraps, because it would be funny as hell if someone thinks that my power can only come from my back, only to get skewered right in front of me.
  
  A bonus of that is that I would be able to see their faces directly.
  
  But even with all my musings, there is only so much I can do to pass the time while driving and beyond simply moulding my appendages that I should really come up with proper names for into different shapes, nothing really happens.
  
  That is, until about halfway into the journey when it is starting to get dark and I am getting bored of the monotonous drive.
  
  At that point, I decide to pull into a small town called Bedford.
  
  Now, as I am only passing through, I don't bother to stop and take out my new phone that I bought yesterday to look up the local cape scene.
  
  However, as I am making my way to a motel to rest in, my drive is interrupted by something I deem interesting enough to delay me.
  
  Driving down the road as I am, in the late hours of the evening, I am greeted by the sight of what appears to be a robbery of some convenience store.
  
  Not just that however, as despite most of them wearing dark clothes you would expect from night time thieves, 𝘰𝘯𝘦 of them is wearing a far more elaborate costume and mask.
  
  In other words, a cape.
  
  She is wearing a light grey shawl over baggy clothes made up of dark browns and greys, with another piece of cloth wrapped around her head that has a few strands of dark hair spilling out and a cap sticking out the front.
  
  Her mask is a simple black domino with a balaclava covering her lower face and as she stands in the street, waving her hands and shouting at who I presume are her underlings.
  
  I watch with interest as her eyes seem to leave their sockets and start floating above her head, looking both ways down the street.
  
  Of course, she notices me, but as I am simply staying in my car and not doing anything, she seems to deem me a non factor and gets back to 'work'.
  
  That is when another cape arrives, this one I presume to be a hero, purely based off of their brightly coloured costume, filled with yellows and greens as it is.
  
  They start shouting something another at each other, and I belatedly realise that I could actually hear the words if I roll my window down.
  
  But then I decide that I don't really care, as I just got an idea.
  
  I watch for a bit longer as the two of them proceed to fight. The villain's power is clearly to split her body apart which is nifty, while the hero's I guess to be something along the lines of sudden acceleration, but with a cooldown.
  
  Unfortunately for the hero, they seem to have the disadvantage and it isn't long before the villains underlings are out of sight, bounty in tow.
  
  Realising this, the villain makes use of the fact that they can apparently telekinetically control their dismembered parts to split into pieces and fly away, easily escaping the disgruntled hero.
  
  Though I do notice that she carried her feet with her hands, so I assume that her power doesn't technically let her fly, meaning she can't levitate her feet.
  
  Not much of a limitation really, it just seems like a mild annoyance really, or a smokescreen of some sort.
  
  Ah well, it's not like it will matter for long.
  
  Ignoring the downtrodden hero, I pull in to the motel and go book myself a room, paying only for a single day and still nearly emptying myself of my cash.
  
  I really should get a bank account or something.
  
  I assume there is some kind of banking option for villains that won't get my funds frozen. Then of course, all I will need is to actually make some money, but that really shouldn't be too hard.
  
  Especially with my idea in mind.
  
  After paying for the room, I get myself settled in, throwing off all of the covers, because it's a motel and they are probably covered in all sorts of disgusting shit.
  
  Then I just play some solitaire for an hour or so, followed by some minesweeper before I finally decide to stop being lazy.
  
  Moving to my backpack, I take out my cape outfit, consisting of only my black toothed smiling clown mask with my titular pink tear, as well as the striped prison garments I have grown surprisingly attached to.
  
  They 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 a gift from a friend after all.
  
  It only takes a brief moment to get changed and then after double checking that my door is locked, even putting a set of draws in front of it, I climb out of the window and start making my way more or less where I assume the earlier villain to have gone.
  
  Now, you may be wondering how I am going to find her?
  
  Well, the answer to that is quite simple actually.
  
  Bedford is a very small town, so I am just going to run around until I pick her out, something that shouldn't be too hard considering how easily I can smell peoples locations combined with the fact that capes smell distinctly different than normals do.
  
  It only takes me another hour and a half before I find their scent and then another ten minutes to follow it back to a small block of flats, only three stories tall.
  
  Making my way on over, get inside easily enough by just pushing a small blade of whatever my power is made up of out of my elbow and using that to destroy the lock.
  
  I could have pushed it out of my hand, but it's easier to do it this way, presumably because it's closer to the 'source'.
  
  No alarm goes off thankfully and I continue following the scent until I am on the second floor and standing in front of apartment number 4.
  
  Here I pause as I think to myself, how should I do this?
  
  Then I remember that I am already in costume and without spare clothes, so I can't exactly pretend to be a neighbour asking for sugar or some shit.
  
  Ah well, no need to make it complicated.
  
  It's not like it will matter anyway.
  
  If fact, there's no point in even bothering to risk anything. I might as well just go with an anticlimactic victory.
  
  Though I should be careful not to just kill her immediately, after all the whole reason I'm here is that she seems to be reasonably successful as a villain, so she probably has some cash stacked up that I can 'requisition'.
  
  Decision made, I knock on the door three distinct times.
  
  𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘬 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘬 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘤𝘬
  
  "One minute!" I hear her shout, muffled and quiet as it is through the door.
  
  At the same time, I bring out my new tail alone and bring it around until it is facing the same way as me, before splitting it into pieces, like a frayed wire tip.
  
  I line each of the tiny lines that make up my tail against specific points on the door and I wait until I hear her soft footsteps approaching.
  
  Then, once I can feel that she is just on the other side of the door, I 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘦.
  
  My tails burst forward, easily penetrating the door and I quickly wrap them around the woman inside, hoping that she can't split herself into too small pieces to escape, something I guessed was a limitation because if she could turn herself into a fine mist, I'm sure it's something she would do more often.
  
  As planned, the only sound that gets out is the soft thunk of the thin door being penetrated and the muffled scream of surprise that comes from little miss villain.
  
  Feeling that she is fully withing my grasp, my tail produces even more miniature wires of flesh, which now probably number around a hundred or more, which quickly move to start ripping the door to pieces, so that I can walk through without letting go of her.
  
  "Hi there.~" I whisper to her once the door is out of the way, meeting her wide brown eyes with my own blood red ones.
  
  Moving forward, I carry her ahead of me into the front room, my tail easily capable of carrying a single woman without strain.
  
  Once I take a seat on her sofa, I manipulate her so that she is kneeling before me, just because I can.
  
  "Now~ you may be wondering what is going on right about now hmm?~ Well, it's quite simple~ you see, I am in the need of some money and after watching your successful job earlier, I figured you'd be good for it yeah?~" I explain to her.
  
  Idly, I notice just how scared she seems to be and I can't help but wonder if she is just a coward by nature or if I'm scarier than I thought.
  
  Then again.. there may be another reason.
  
  "Say~ do you know who I am by chance?~" I ask, receiving a frantic and shaky nodding in return.
  
  Ah, that explains it then. She must have seen Fool's video.
  
  "... Are you a fan?~" I ask, purely for my own amusement as she, rather predictably, starts nodding her head with even more fervour.
  
  I get the feeling I'm being lied to.
  
  The thought makes me smile.
  
  "I'm going to release your mouth now~ if you shout or scream, then I'm sure I don't need to explain what will happen?~"
  
  She shakes her head and with that, I do as I said I would and stop covering her mouth.
  
  While she is gathering her bearings, I speak up once more.
  
  "Since you're such a big fan of mine, I assume you won't have a problem with telling me where you keep all of your money?~" I ask, my voice saccharine sweet.
  
  "N-n-no", she gulps, managing to speak further without stuttering, though her voice still wavers noticeably, "I keep it all in the top right cupboard."
  
  I nod in thanks to her, glad for the simplicity of the situation, but after glancing over to her kitchenette I decide not to bother getting up and instead just sprout some ribbons.
  
  A pair of my ribbons, shaded with a lighter violet than my armour that is almost dark enough to be black or my tail that is the deep red colour of flesh, reach out behind me and open up the top right cupboard, taking out a black sports bag and bringing it over.
  
  Opening it with my hands, I am pleased to find that it is indeed filled with cash.
  
  With a smile on my face, I turn to face the woman once again, seeing that she has relaxed marginally now that I have got what I want.
  
  Sucks for her I guess.
  
  "Thank you.~ Now you can tell me where you keep the 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 of your money, and I can be on my way.~" I say, causing her eyes to widen once again and her breath to hitch.
  
  Struggling in my grasp for a moment, she quickly starts talking again.
  
  "T-that's it! That's everything! I swear it!" She exclaims, but I don't have any ability to tell truth from lie, and she's already dead anyway, so I might as well double check just in case there is more money.
  
  "Now now~ don't lie to me young miss~ I can tell when you do.~" I lie, ignoring the irony for the moment as my tail makes its way back to covering her mouth to silence her.
  
  With her unable to make too much noise, I bring her arm over to my slowly watering mouth and I roll up her sleeve, lifting my mask as I do and start rubbing my lips over her forearm for a moment, staring her in the eye as I do so, watching, feeling how her fear grows with every moment.
  
  Then, under her unwilling stare, I take a hearty bite out of her arm, relishing in her muffled scream more than the barely decent taste.
  
  Once she has calmed down a little, I free her mouth again as I speak.
  
  "I'll ask again~ where is the rest of your ill begotten gains?~" I ask, pretty sure that I already know the answer anyway.
  
  "I-I-I don't h-have anyth-ing else. P-please believe me." She pleads, but I don't listen.
  
  Instead I just cover her mouth again and open my own for another bite, a smile gracing my features.
  
  Repeating the process again, I speak once more, my tone unchanging.
  
  "Another chance~ where is the money?~"
  
  Half an hour later and I am making my way back to the motel.
  
  It turns out that she really didn't have any extra money lying around anywhere else.
  
  Ah well, you live and you learn.
  
  Heh.
  
  Poor choice of words.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  It is one in the morning
  
  Also, just fair warning but the next few chapters are kind of a buffer as I tried to figure our what to do for the next arc, so they might not bee too great, but I've got an idea now and I already know what I'm going to be doing the the next arc's after it.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  50 Magic is Fun
  Waking up, I feel refreshed and ready for another long drive, but I decide to walk around a bit first, to see if there's anything I want to buy with this bag full of money that I just so happened to find in my room with me.
  
  With that plan in mind, I get my backpack that has all my stuff, with my costume buried at the bottom and I get dressed in a nice rosy red sundress that matches surprisingly well with my re-dyed auburn hair.
  
  Not my usual style I'll admit, but a sundress takes up less space in my Bag of Belongings™.
  
  I don't really feel a need to bother with disguises, because while I did admit to being a cannibal, I never admitted to being Lusia Abel and they never saw my face, so I'm probably not being looked for.
  
  Especially since I'm under the assumption that 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 are under the assumption that I killed, uh, me.
  
  What a weird sentence.
  
  Anyway, with that done, I grab both of my bags, the money being too plentiful to transfer to a single bag, and head out of the room to check out of the motel.
  
  I take the car with me further to the centre of town, where all the shops are and find an out of the way place to park it again and start my roaming once more, only taking a few handfuls of cash instead of the whole bag, because that would be stupid and I am well known for my good decision making.
  
  Note the sarcasm.
  
  Though I do bring my other bag, so I'm only leaving behind my money. I make sure to lock the car and then double check it before I leave, just in case.
  
  Ah well, a life lived on purely good decisions sounds boring as hell.
  
  If shit doesn't go sideways every now and then, then where's the fun?
  
  Gotta have a bit of unpredictability in your life.
  
  Humming to myself as I wonder around, I take note of how few people there actually are, maybe a couple dozen or so in sight around me, despite being the literal centre of the town.
  
  The difference between here and Columbus is certainly notable, though I think it might be even more jarring once I reach the city of oversized apples.
  
  Or is that singular? I know the city got it's nickname from some guy ages ago who noticed a big apple or something, but I have no idea if there was only the one.
  
  Why do I even care?
  
  With that last random thought, I am brought back to the real world as I spy something interesting.
  
  A magic shop!
  
  There's an idea, I spent so much time and effort learning magic tricks and slight of hand yet I've only ever used those skills to cheat in poker.
  
  With a smile on my face, I enter the little ramshackle store, making a little bell jingle as I do so.
  
  I am immediately greeted by a plethora of novelty items, from finger traps to marbles to- is that a whoopie cushion?
  
  At the end of the store is what can only be described as a stereotypical old magic store owner.
  
  The old man meets my eyes from behind a counter, his fancy suit and bowtie matching his widows peak receding hairline as if he was born to sit where he does now.
  
  "Yo!~" I greet as I walk up to him, raising one arm in a two fingered wave.
  
  "To what do I owe the pleasure young lady? Have you an interest in the arcane?" The old man replies, straightening in his seat as he does so.
  
  "Eh, not really." I bluntly answer, making his eyebrows twitch, "I do like cards though, mind selling me a deck or four?"
  
  With a wry smile he seems to flip a switch, clearly realising that I don't really care about the whole 'spooky kooky magic' shiz.
  
  "This 𝘪𝘴 a shop young miss, I'll be happy to sell you whatever you desire." He says as he leans to the side slightly and grabs four decks of cards, placing them on the counter.
  
  "Whatever I desire?" I ask with a mischievous smile, "in that case, I want to buy your bowtie."
  
  His face twitches slightly more violently this time as he clearly struggles to keep his face professional.
  
  "I'll be happy to sell you whatever has a price tag." He corrects, nodding down to the decks of cards, though I do note that he hasn't scanned them or typed anything into the till like you normally would, but I don't think further on it as I am having fun messing with him.
  
  Silently and deliberately, open the little plastic covers that hold the price tags for the things on the counter and take one of them out, his eyes never leaving mine the whole time as I move forward and attatch the tag to his bowtie.
  
  Both of us stare at each other in silence, neither one of our faces so much as twitching as I lean back and pretend to look around for a moment before jumping slightly, as if shocked to find something I was looking for.
  
  Then I point to his bowtie, and in a voice lacking any inflection I speak.
  
  "Ah. A bowtie. Exactly what I was looking for. I'd like that one please."
  
  He doesn't respond and we hold eye contact for a moment longer before his irritated voice sounds out.
  
  "Get the hell out of my shop." He says without heat, his face contorting into one of amused irritation.
  
  I just smile and let out a short chuckle in return, before actually looking around for anything interesting to buy.
  
  "Uhhh, I'd also like one of those" I say, pointing to what basically looks like eyeliner, but I assume is more used for face paint stuff, "and some of that too." I finish, this time pointing at the silly string behind him.
  
  What? I might find a use for it, who knows?
  
  Better to be prepared than not.
  
  "Anything else?" He asks after gathering it all and I ponder for a moment, checking around the store for anything that catches my eye.
  
  Fortunately, I do happen to see something interesting, and I add it to the pile of stuff with a grin.
  
  "That will be $28.37, after tax." He says even though he still hasn't rung anything up, making me raise an eyebrow.
  
  "First off, I don't pay taxes. Secondly, how do you even know how much it is? You never put the things in the machine." I say, gesturing to the unused till.
  
  "Young Lady." He huffs, "I have been working here for thirty five years. I know every price like the back of my hand. I can do the math in my head. If you don't trust it, feel free to count."
  
  When he finishes speaking, he turns to see me staring intently at the back of my own hand.
  
  "Huh, there are more veins there than I though there were. You must look at your hands a lot then, to know the store so well."
  
  I briefly enjoy the way he stares uncomprehendingly at my rather odd response, but I don't wait for his brain to catch up, and just smack a handful of cash that I didn't bother to count but is probably more than enough down on the counter.
  
  "Welp, I'll take your word for it Mr Geriatric. See ya!~" I say, quickly gathering my stuff and turning to leave, fast enough that I only hear is shouted response once I'm one foot out of the door.
  
  "I'm not that old!"
  
  Heh.
  
  With that out of the way, I set out to have some fun before the long, boring drive ahead of me and make my way to the most travelled part of the little town.
  
  There are a good dozen or two people walking around here, so it seems good enough.
  
  First thing I do is walk up to a parked car and take out the eyeliner pencil and proceed to use the wingmirror to help me draw two clown tears, one under each of my eyes, then just for the added distance I add the classic long triangles above each eye.
  
  With my face successfully clownified, I move to the middle of the street, thankful that cars are supposed to keep to the edges to allow more walk space here.
  
  Now, I know that wearing the tear makeup is probably not a good idea, but I'm not in costume and am genuinely just doing magic, so no one will make the connection.
  
  Probably.
  
  Hey, that's why I added the triangles anyway! My mask...
  
  ... Damnit, my mask does have a triangle above the left eye.
  
  Eh, oh well.
  
  I'm sure it will be fine.
  
  Focusing back on the world at large, I notice that some people have taken notice of me and I give them each a wide smile before equipping my brand spanking new, genuine magicians top hat.
  
  Turning to the people closest to me, a young couple from the looks of it, both with brown hair and average features. No doubt when they are older they are going to live in a suburban house with a picket fence, a dog and two point three children.
  
  "Greetings friends! Lovely day don't you think? How about a magic trick to make the day even better hmm?~" I exclaim, moving in front of them, but not so much that I am blocking their way.
  
  After all, if you're too pushy then it will make people instinctively want to say no. If you don't give them a way out of an encounter, then they will seek one, even if they would otherwise enjoy said encounter.
  
  They briefly glance to each other, unspoken words being not spoken, before the woman, probably about a year younger than me, pushes her boyfriend forward a little bit, volunteering him to speak.
  
  Naturally, he has little choice then but to acquiesce, not that he seems particularly upset by the fact.
  
  "Sure, I've never actually seen any magic in person." He says with a smile.
  
  "Excellent!" I cheer with exuberance, enjoying myself.
  
  "In that case!~" I say as I bring out a deck of cards and fan them out in front of me, "pick a card, any card~".
  
  He does and I quickly close the deck and speak up again.
  
  "Now, memorise it and show it to your girlfriend but don't let me see! Good! Now slide it back in the deck, anywhere you want.~"
  
  He does so and I shuffle it in a manner that seems very thorough, but really isn't.
  
  Then, with a flourish, I flick one card out of the deck and catch it in the air, holding it to myself for a moment before I dramatically reveal it to the pair.
  
  "Is~ 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 your card!?" I proclaim, head held high with pride and smile wide.
  
  "... uhhh, no. It's not." The guys says awkwardly, clearly having debated with himself simply lying and saying I got it right.
  
  What a nice fellow.
  
  "Aw shucks!" I exclaim disappointedly, kicking the ground with a pout on my face.
  
  Right as they are about to say something else however, I suddenly snap my finger and raise my head, as if I just realised something amazing.
  
  "Wait a minute! Of course I don't have your card!~ After all, I can only imagine that your heart only belongs to 𝘰𝘯𝘦 woman." I say with understanding before turning to the girlfriend.
  
  "Would you mind checking your pockets? Maybe your left one? Just as a wild guess with no basis in fact?" My voice clearly shows that I already know the answer.
  
  Yet, as expected, she frantically checks her pockets before pulling out an ace of hearts.
  
  "Was that your card?~" I ask pointlessly as the guy just nods dumbly, clearly impressed.
  
  Then the girl suddenly jumps him and kisses him, clearly affected by my words of romance.
  
  Man, aren't I just the best wingwoman?
  
  After they both calm down a bit more, the guy turns back to me with a smile and a look in his eyes that I just know tells of his appreciation for my act.
  
  "That was impressive, do you accept tips?" He asks with a smile that I reciprocate as I take off my top hat and flip it in front of him while I whisper under my breath.
  
  "Oh, I can accept more than just the 𝘵𝘪𝘱."
  
  "What?" He says, his hand pausing where it is depositing some notes in my hat.
  
  "What?" I echo, refusing to acknowledge the words that slipped out.
  
  For the next couple of hours, I spent my time practicing my magic tricks, gathering quite the crowd and actually making a decent bit of money.
  
  Hell, I could probably actually make a living just from doing this.
  
  Not a very lavish living granted, but a living nonetheless.
  
  Ah well, you know what they say, places to be, people to kill.
  
  Not that I have anyone in mind, but I'm sure something will come up eventually.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Early chap because I am tryna fix my sleep schedule, which is normally not difficult for me, but I have to work around my upload schedule to make sure that I am not asleep in the afternoon/evening, as I prefer to post my chapters around 4-6pm.
  
  But I am 'bouta pass out here, and one in the afternoon is close enough, so imma hit post here and then go enter the void that is my dreamless sleep.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  51 The Inevitable PHO Interlude
  A/N: Just an FYI, but idk how this site is going to take the formatting for this chap, so if it looks wild just give it a minute or two for me to fix it and then reload it :)
  
  Pulling in to New York, I can't help but be struck by just 𝘩𝘰𝘸 many people there are.
  
  I knew, intellectually, that the Big Apple is the biggest, most populated city in the US, but that doesn't change the fact that I've grown up moving between small towns, like Utica, which had a population of around two thousand.
  
  Compared to New York's eight 𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘰𝘯 or so, it's a rather insignificant number.
  
  Point is, I'm not really used to all these crowds, though I can't even imagine how I'd be reacting if I hadn't already spent some time in Columbus, which is also pretty big, just less dense.
  
  But I deal, and it only takes me a little while to find a nice, out of the way hotel I can stay in for a bit.
  
  ... Okay, it took me over an hour and I might have gotten lost a couple of times.
  
  It's a big city and there are a lot of things everywhere.
  
  It's all honestly very distracting and I don't think I really like it.
  
  After all, I live for the simple things in life, like solitaire.
  
  God, if solitaire was a real human, I would totally fuck them, regardless of gender.
  
  Anyway.
  
  Seeing as it is already dark, and I am tired from the drive, I decide against doing anything in what's left of the day and decide to just chill inside instead.
  
  After chilling and playing games on my phone for a bit, I decide to open up PHO to see if anything interesting is going on, or if there's anyone I can easily shitpost.
  
  Gotta love bullying people online.
  
  Only, I quickly see a 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 interesting thread indeed and decide to make a new account to commemorate it.
  
  𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬.
  
  You are currently logged in, S͟h͟e͟d͟ a͟ T͟e͟a͟r͟
  
  You are viewing:
  
  • Threads you have replied to
  
  • AND Threads that have new replies
  
  • OR private message conversations with new replies
  
  • Thread OP is displayed.
  
  • Ten posts per page
  
  • Last ten messages in private message history.
  
  • Threads and private messages are ordered chronologically.
  
  𝐓𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐜: 𝐇𝐎𝐋𝐘 𝐅𝐂𝐔𝐊 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐓𝐎 𝐒𝐄𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐒!
  
  𝐈𝐧: 𝐁𝐨𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬 ► 𝐎𝐡𝐢𝐨 ► 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐮𝐬 ► 𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬
  
  𝐉𝐚𝐫𝐎𝐟𝐎𝐳 (Original Poster) (Veteran Member) (Not a real jar)
  
  Posted On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Holy Crap guys,
  
  for those that are somehow unaware and didn't watch the livestream that was happening on, (the video is still available there, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone faint of heart) there was a MASSIVE cape fight literally like, twenty minutes ago from posting this.
  
  Tho again, if you haven't seen it, it IS hella gory, no censorship, especially at the end. *Shivers*
  
  I don't know what he did, but that metal guy didn't deserve that.
  
  Anyway, I have no idea what the lead up to these events were, as I live elsewhere, so if anyone is In The Know, please enlighten us.
  
  Also, I got this screenshot [𝐈𝐌𝐀𝐆𝐄] which shows just about everyone facing each other just before the fight really started, and as you can see, it's a whole lotta capes, even without all of them being in the pic!
  
  (𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝟏 𝐨𝐟 𝟒𝟔)
  
  ►𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐄𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬 (Verified Cape) (Verified Fool)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Glad you enjoyed the show!
  
  Unfortunately there is nothing else in the works right now, but stay tuned and you will be the first to hear when there's a new show! ;)
  
  ►𝐎𝐠𝐥𝐚𝐧 (Snek)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  ►𝐒𝐚𝐦 𝐒𝐨𝐦𝐋𝐨𝐩
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Holy crap... I think I might need a change of pants after watching that.
  
  How did she even get up after that? She had a Hole in her Heart as well as having her Entire Head reduced to mush. That's the two things that are usually enough to end most regenerators but she shrugged it off like nothing.
  
  ►𝐑𝐫𝐫𝐫𝐭 (Temp-Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Talk about opening up to the world lmao.
  
  ►𝐒𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐲
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Rrrrt - Are you seriously joking about this right now?
  
  Also, is no one going to talk about how it was actually the Heroes that started killing people first?
  
  ►𝐋𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐚
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  I heard from a friend who's dad's co-workers' cousin knows a guy who knows a guy who is tight with some people of the more unsavoury kind and apparently that lady in the prison 'fit (Tear? I think?) did something or other that pissed off both the gangs in the video and I guess they mutually decided to fuck her up.
  
  ... clearly that didn't go too well for them, but them's the brakes I guess. (What does that even mean anyway?)
  
  ►𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐨𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐲(Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  I can't believe Tiamat got speared like that, can anyone confirm if she's like, actually dead or what?
  
  Cuz if she is gone then it means the monster capes just lost like, a significant portion of their firepower
  
  ►𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐟
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Carbonkenny - First off, they are called Case 53's, or irregulars. It's offencive to call them monster capes. Secondly, why are you talking about them like we're at war or something? Case 53's aren't some whole new race asshole.
  
  Does anyone know what the death count is? Also, what happened to that flying woman and the sword guy without a shirt?
  
  ►𝐉𝐚𝐫𝐎𝐟𝐎𝐳 (Original Poster) (Veteran Member) (Not a real jar)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  ChaoticThief - I know right? They sort of just fucked off and never came back... maybe they ended up having a steamy romeo/juliet moment?
  
  Rrrrt - You shouldn't say things like that, some people are really sensitive and if they hear it they'll just Come Apart By The Seams
  
  ►𝐑𝐫𝐫𝐫𝐭 (Temp-Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  JarOfOz - You're right, I'd hate to see someone Explode over something like this
  
  𝐄𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐚𝐠𝐞. 1, 𝟐, 𝟑... 𝟒𝟒, 𝟒𝟓, 𝟒𝟔
  
  (𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝟐 𝐨𝐟 𝟒𝟔)
  
  ►𝐊𝐚𝐧𝐞𝟒𝟒 (Veteran Member)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Anyone got any idea why she turned into a giant monster at the end there?
  
  Also, is it just me, or did anyone else get reminded of Crawler when she came back all monster-y like that?
  
  Not to mention, apparently she eats people? Am I the only one making the comparisons in my head right now?
  
  ►𝐌𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐞𝐥 𝐏𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐲 (Verified Petty) (Temp-Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Lol, OP can't even spell fuck, what a looser
  
  ►𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫𝟑𝟐𝟏𝟒𝟓𝟔
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  FoolishEndeavours - Aren't you the guy who streamed this? You should know why this was happening right?
  
  ►𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐨𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐲 (Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  ChaoticThief - Don't act like they see us as equals, the simple fact is that we are not the same, and I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to do some genocidal shit so that they aren't the minority anymore
  
  Michael Petty - Oh the irony
  
  Also, I think it's probably a bit too early to be making any connections to the Slaughterhouse 9
  
  ►𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐄𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬 (Verified Cape) (Verified Fool)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Of course I know~ It might not be as grandiose as you think though~
  
  The simple truth is that I asked Tear to give me a good show, so that I could start my career with a Bang, so to speak.
  
  Frankly I never expected it to be such a loud bang, but I can't say I'm disappointed~
  
  ►𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐟
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Carbonkenny - Did you seriously just suggest that Case 53's will GENOCIDE everyone else? The fuck is wrong with you?
  
  ►𝐉𝐚𝐲𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐁𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  ChaoticThief - I can kind of see where he's coming from to be fair, cuz with people like him being assholes and discriminating for no reason, there's probably plenty of resentment being built up. Not that I think they would ever do something like that, cuz they are still human, even if they look a lil diff
  
  ►𝐓𝐢𝐧𝐌𝐨𝐦 (Moderator) (Veteran Member) (Wiki Warrior)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Please keep the discussion on topic, if you have other things to talk about there are other boards, also please tone down the discrimintation.
  
  Also, keep in mind that NSFW videos, images and links will result in a ban. I won't lock the thread purely because it only gives the name of the site rather than any links, but you're skirting the line.
  
  ►𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐨𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐲(Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  JayFireBlood - 'Look a lil diff' he says. Bitch please, there's a reason there called monster capes, they look nothing like us.
  
  I mean, just look at the one in the video? I'm not sure if you missed it, but SHES A FREAKIN DRAGON!
  
  How can you see someone like that and say that they are just like us? Can you breathe fire?
  
  I think they should start trying to cure the freaks, I'm sure some cape could do it
  
  ►𝐓𝐢𝐧𝐌𝐨𝐦 (Moderator) (Veteran Member) (Wiki Warrior)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Aaaaand that's enough of that.
  
  Seriously, what did I just say? Keep the discussion to the topic of the thread or I WILL lock it.
  
  𝐄𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐚𝐠𝐞. 𝟏, 2, 𝟑, 𝟒... 𝟒𝟒, 𝟒𝟓, 𝟒𝟔
  
  (𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝟑𝟑 𝐨𝐟 𝟒𝟔)
  
  ►𝐉𝐚𝐫𝐎𝐟𝐎𝐳 (Original Poster) (Veteran Member) (Not a real jar)
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  TinMom - Oh almighty moderator, I won't get in trouble if the thread gets locked right? It's not my fault.
  
  P.s how can I prove that I am in fact, a real jar?
  
  ►𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐊𝐚𝐧𝐞
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Kane44 - I am the real Kane and I Will fight to prove it
  
  JarOfOz - Don't give the shipping fanfiction writers ideas, you know how they get, also, if you send a video of a jar somehow typing a post, I'm sure they'll give you the tag
  
  ►𝐄𝐠𝐠𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  I know it's kind of fucked up... but did anyone else actually kind of enjoy the stream? I don't know what it is, but that Fool guy has a kind of energy to him that just makes him fun to listen too, especially the way he was desperately trying to keep up with the action.
  
  ►𝐍𝐢𝐛𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐥𝐞
  
  Replied On Jan 1st 2008:
  
  Anyone know what she's doing now? Or what she's going to be doing at least? If she even survives the next 24 hours anyway
  
  ►𝐒𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐚 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐫 (Unverified Cape) (Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 4th 2008:
  
  Nibbashamble - If you wanna know what I'm doing you can just ask you know?~
  
  ►𝐍𝐢𝐛𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐥𝐞
  
  Replied On Jan 4th 2008:
  
  Holy shit are you really the one in the vid? How are you alive? Oh and yea, what are you doing now, i guess
  
  ►𝐒𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐚 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐫 (Unverified Cape) (Banned)
  
  Replied On Jan 4th 2008:
  
  'Course it's me~ as for what I'm doing?~ Simple really~ I'm fucking your mom! Haha get rekt loser, i'm going to find you.
  
  ►𝐓𝐢𝐧𝐌𝐨𝐦 (Moderator) (Veteran Member) (Wiki Warrior)
  
  Replied On Jan 4th 2008:
  
  Please do not make threatening statements and remember to keep things civil, threats on a real life person will result in a ban.
  
  ►𝐅𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝟏 𝐁𝐨𝐰𝐥 ( ✷ ‿ ✷ )
  
  Replied On Jan 4th 2008:
  
  ◉ ‿ ◉
  
  ►𝐎𝐠𝐥𝐚𝐧 (Snek)
  
  Replied On Jan 4th 2008:
  
  𝐄𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐚𝐠𝐞. 𝟑𝟏, 𝟑𝟐, 33, 𝟑𝟒, 𝟑𝟓... 𝟒𝟒, 𝟒𝟓, 𝟒𝟔
  
  Putting the phone down, I stare into space for a moment with a slowly growing amused smile.
  
  That's got to be some kind of record right?
  
  I've had this account for less than an hour and it's already banned for the next week.
  
  Whatever, I don't really care to be honest, because while it is nice to see people taking notice of my play, I also don't really care, since I did it for my own amusement anyway.
  
  And speaking of my own amusement, I should really think about what I am going to do now that I'm here.
  
  Honestly, I don't really feel like getting into more fights so soon, so I'd rather find something else to do, at least for a short while anyway.
  
  Though, what am I supposed to do then? What do people do for fun when they don't have powers?
  
  Go clubbing? I guess?
  
  Eh, fuck it. I will go clubbing.
  
  Who knows, maybe it will actually be interesting?
  
  It's something to cross of my bucket list at least.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  So! It wouldn't be much of a wormfic without at least one PHO interlude. There probably won't be any more of these, but there might, idk, it was a bit of a bitch to write, even with the worm pho interlude wizard to help me.
  
  Also, I took the liberty of using a couple of my dear readers' tags for the interlude, as you may notice. Most of the names however, are those of my lovely patrons :)
  
  Also also, who knew the hardest part of commissioning an artist would be finding one that matches what I'm looking for?
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  52 Making Friends Again 2 Electric Booga
  I've never been clubbing before.
  
  The thought comes to me as I walk down the dark streets of New York, still filled with the same hustle and bustle despite the sun having set, though to be fair, it's not like it's at all dark, what with all the lights everywhere.
  
  As I wonder around, looking for anywhere or thing interesting enough to catch my attention, I continue to mull over my thoughts.
  
  In fact, I've never even actually been to a party before.
  
  A proper party that is, not like, birthday parties that are just family. Though it's not like I've never been 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 to parties before, I've just never really felt like going.
  
  Now that I think about it, I never really had any friends, just friendly acquaintances.
  
  It's kind of weird how much more active I am now that I have powers, but I can't deny that I am certainly enjoying myself.
  
  Speaking of enjoying myself.
  
  A short distance ahead, I spot what is clearly a popular club, with the line for entry extending quite a bit.
  
  Not really finding the idea of so many people in such a small place but still firmly of the 'in for a penny' mindset, I decide that this place seems good enough.
  
  A quick glance down the line shows me nothing that I didn't expect coming here, namely the disparity in the woman to men ratio.
  
  It's not really a surprise to me though, since I have always had an interest in how people behave, but it's still nice to see, as it will make me stand out less.
  
  That is kinda important, since I am not planning on doing anything cape related today. This is a purely bucket list crossing off activity.
  
  One good thing at least is that I appear to have been right in my decisions of what to wear today, going by the fact that most of the other women are in similar variations of dress.
  
  That is to say, I am wearing a nice and loose sunny shoulder-less crop top, with a red and blue plaid skirt that stops a little above my knee, allowing a thin slip of my thighs skin to be seen from the gap between the skirt and my plain black stockings.
  
  Naturally, the look is finished off by a short leather jacket that has more zips than it needs, as well as a pair of modest heels, enough that I stand taller than most of the other women, but not quite enough that I am eye to eye with most men.
  
  All in all, I think I'm looking pretty sexy.
  
  Not that I'm planning on getting laid or anything, sometimes it's just nice to dress up and really feel good about yourself.
  
  Plus it only feels right, considering the location.
  
  I pause a small distance before the line, hesitating slightly.
  
  I think I should make a game.
  
  It doesn't have to be anything over the top, but if I can approach this like it's part of a game, I will probably have more fun, the only question, is what should the challenge be?
  
  Something fun.
  
  Hmmm.
  
  Eh, let's keep it simple, the aim of today is to pickpocket as many people as possible for as much money as possible.
  
  Simple, fun 𝘢𝘯𝘥 if I get caught then it means I can maybe kill someone.
  
  With that distinction made, I move forward again with a renewed smile on my face.
  
  I take my place at the back of the line, ready to simply wait until it moves forward, however my chances of staring into space for however long are dashed when one of the women in front of me turns around, a loose smile on her face.
  
  She's wearing a proper dress, also shoulder-less, like my top, coloured a dark blue that matches her eyes. Her head is a dull maroon that speaks of faded red hair and goes down to her shoulder blades.
  
  "Heeey! You mind helpin' a girl out?" She slurs, clearly already intoxicated.
  
  I have to restrain myself from sniffing disdainfully at the scent on her breath.
  
  Not only is it simply an unpleasant smell for my enhanced nose, but I've also never really been a fan of the idea of getting intoxicated.
  
  After all, drinking takes away your inhibitions and I am already sorely lacking in that regard 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 the addition of alcohol.
  
  Still, I keep my face one of placid interest, a light smile playing on my lips, giving the image that I am simply happy to be out and interacting with people, as the woman continues talking, drawing the attention of her friends as she does so.
  
  "Claire here", she wraps an arm around one of her supposed friends, similarly dressed only in green and much more noticeable high heels, "only came after we basically forced her to and is worried about being hit on, for 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 reason."
  
  As she talks I look closer to Claire, my interest growing, if only slightly.
  
  Only now that it has been pointed out do I actually take notice of the slight tenseness in her shoulders and rigid manner in which she is moving her head, making her blonde hair wave slightly every time.
  
  "So seein' as you're alone?" I nod at the statement turned question, allowing her to continue, "maybe you could pretend to be her girlfriend or somethin'?"
  
  Before I can even respond to that, I am cut off by a long drawn out groan from Claire that makes me think that this might not be an uncommon experience for her.
  
  "My gooood Julia! will you stop asking random strangers, no offence-"
  
  "None taken." I smile as she quickly goes back to complaining to Julia.
  
  "-to pretend to date me? Do you have any idea how awkward it was the last time?" She finishes with a heavy breath, her chest rising and falling as if she just got back from a run, face flushed with heat.
  
  It's cute really, getting so worked up like this.
  
  "She's got a point Jules, we should at least know their name before handing Claire over to them, right?" Comes the last of this group of girls.
  
  She has brown hair, cut short with most of it flowing over to the right side of her head, with her left side being slick to the skull instead.
  
  It honestly looks pretty good.
  
  Unlike her friends however, she isn't wearing a dress, being dressed more like myself instead, only instead of a crop top she has a typical white button up shirt that she has twisted in the middle to turn it into a makeshift crop top.
  
  Below that she has a pair of tight, and I mean 𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 jeans, with a hoodie wrapped around her waist.
  
  All in all, she looks like some kind of boarding school delinquents' girlfriend.
  
  "Too true, too true", I respond with a smirk, engaging myself into the group, "in that case, my name is Eve. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." I bow slightly, my smirk remaining firmly in place as I do so.
  
  I'm really having fun with the whole coming up with fake names stuff, though if anyone figures out the common factor then I'll be pretty easy to catch, but that's just part of the game.
  
  It wouldn't be any fun if there was no risk.
  
  "Wait, so does this mean you're cool with being Claires excuse to turn people down?" Julia's widened eyes clearly show that she wasn't expecting this to be so easy, but her smile betrays that she is happy with the development regardless.
  
  "What!"
  
  Claires shout goes ignored as I respond honestly to Julia.
  
  "Well I don't see why not. I was supposed to be coming here with a couple of friends but they all backed out last minute. I however, am determined to have a good night out today anyway, so here I am. As such, I wouldn't say no to some good company."
  
  By honestly, I naturally mean I didn't speak a word of truth.
  
  "Huh, well damn then. That was easy." Julia opens and closes her mouth a couple of times, clearly not sure of what to say next.
  
  Thankfully, before the silence can start to get awkward, the woman who's name I haven't got yet perks up.
  
  "Hey, why do you speak like that anyway? All fancy-like I mean. Like, who even says 'acquaintance' anymore? I couldn't even begin to guess how that's spelt."
  
  I don't speak fancy-like, I just use proper words most of the time.
  
  Then again, she doesn't seem the brightest.
  
  Either way, I simply give her a wry smile as I answer, raising my arms in a half shrug.
  
  "Eh, I grew up reading a lot. I know a lot of fancy words, it would be remis of me to not make use of them no?"
  
  It's mostly true, but also that I just like using long words sometimes. Long words can be cool, like peripetia.
  
  After that, we have some more casual conversation, during which I find out that the third girls name is Jasmine, and I integrate myself into the group pretty easily.
  
  Eventually, we make it to the front of the line and from that to the inside of the club.
  
  The fist thing that comes to mind as I step through the door is.
  
  𝘓𝘰𝘶𝘥.
  
  Then we move closer to the bar and I notice how 𝘩𝘰𝘵 it is. Thankfully at least, my power seems to come with some kind of basic resistance to temperature, so the heat doesn't really bother me.
  
  When we make it to the bar, I realise a slight flaw in my plan, in that I don't think they will be serving coffee, which means I'm going to have to figure out some way of pretending to drink.
  
  Fun.
  
  "-and what about you Eve? Whaddaya want?" Jasmine waves her hand ambiguously as the three of them turn to me.
  
  "Rum and coke please." I smile.
  
  It's mostly out of nostalgia really, since while I rarely ever drank, I did on a couple of occasions and rum and coke was my favourite.
  
  We sit around at the bar for a bit, just talking as we work through our drinks until Julia eventually runs out of patience and orders a round of shots.
  
  "Alright ladies! To the dancefloor!" She exclaims, lifting her shot glass in cheer with the res of us matching her.
  
  Only Claire seems to have any struggle downing the shot and in no time at all we are squeezing our way into the mass of bouncing and bobbing bodies, taking effort to avoid being completely separated.
  
  I keep with Claire, taking her hand and jumping around with her, not really knowing how to dance, but having fun all the same.
  
  It's hot, and while that itself doesn't bother me, but it's also stuffy and humid.
  
  People are everywhere, bumping into and around me.
  
  The loud music leaves a deep rumbling across the dance floor, matching with the sounds of dozens of feet stomping and jumping about.
  
  It's stifling, and being surrounded by so many people like this without the option of using my power, for the sake of my own game, brings back memories I would rather forget.
  
  Thankfully, I am able to snap myself out of it by remembering my game and with that I start bumping into more people, snatching wallets and bare cash left and right, stuffing the unexpectedly deep pockets of my jacket full.
  
  With that task to focus on, I actually find myself enjoying myself a little, my smile smile growing just that little bit more genuine.
  
  I don't know how long we were on the dancefloor, though I don't think it was too long, before Claire pulled me close in order to shout in my ear so that I can actually hear her.
  
  "I'mma go sit down! Wanna come!?" Her face betrays how she is rapidly growing more and more uncomfortable with where she is, and my pockets are getting full, so I nod and start leading us to the edge of the room, where the booths are.
  
  We get to a booth and Claire quickly lets go of my hand so that she can collapse into one of the cushioned seats.
  
  As I move to join her, I suddenly freeze but quickly smother that reaction and take a seat without her noticing anything odd.
  
  "Someone's eager~ not a dancer?" I ask, but my focus is firmly elsewhere.
  
  Just before sitting down, I smelt something. Something 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨.
  
  Casting my eyes wide, I take notice of an Asian woman partying hard and definitely high an probably too many drugs, yet I notice the way that she never truly loses her balance.
  
  I watch her tip like she's going to fall, only to catch herself perfectly at the last second. Every. Time.
  
  I turn away, looking back to Claire, even if I continue to ignore her as my focus remains on the woman, catching her putting another tab of something in her mouth from the corner of my eye.
  
  A small, playful smile rises on my lips, something that Claire apparently mistakes as a response to whatever she said.
  
  But I don't care about her anymore.
  
  After all, the smell of a 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘦 is far, 𝘧𝘢𝘳 more interesting.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  If anyone can guess who the mysterious cape is from the extremely limited amount of information available, I will be very impressed.
  
  Fyi, she is a canon cape, but I think she only shows up in Ward, Worm's sequel, and I haven't actually read Ward, so she's probably going to end up pretty OC anyway.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  53 Don't Do Drugs
  A/N: Changed the cover to look more like the current Lusia, though she obviously won't have her ghoul eyes out as a civilian.
  
  Naturally, I am not simply going to walk up to the mystery cape, that'd be boring.
  
  Not to mention, I don't want to just ditch Claire if I can help it. Not because I'm nice or anything, it would just feel like cheating.
  
  No, it would be more fun if I manage to keep Claire around. Plus, she is kinda cute, so I don't really mind.
  
  That just leaves the question of 𝘩𝘰𝘸.
  
  Then again, I don't think it'll be too hard. Claire doesn't exactly seem the most... decisive, shall we say for lack of a better word.
  
  Turning my focus back to the woman in question, I flash her a smile, even as I start sorting through all the wallets in my pockets, taking out the cash and subtly throwing the wallets on the floor.
  
  "So, you don't like dancing. Then why don't we find some other way to have fun while your friends enjoy themselves?"
  
  I am thankful that the music is at least slightly less blasting at the edges of the room where the booths are, so while I still have to speak louder than my normal talking volume, at least I don't have to shout anymore.
  
  "Yeah? What do you have in mind?" She raises an eyebrow to go with her question and I give a wolfish grin in response.
  
  "I was thinking we could introduce ourselves to the fine partygoers over there", I nod my head in the direction of the cape and the dozen or so other people around her, "and introduce ourselves, maybe get ourselves a little pick-me-up."
  
  She follows the tilt of my head, noticing the same group that is clearly on one hell of a bender and I pretend not to notice her sudden discomfort in favour of wriggling my eyebrows at her instead, keeping my grin firmly on my face.
  
  "Uhh, I don't know about that. I've never done, you know, before." She waves her arms around as if trying to mime the word 'drugs' instead of just saying it.
  
  With a shake of my head, I slide across the booth until I am sitting next to her.
  
  Turning, I fold one of my legs up on the seat so that I can fully face her and I lean close, close enough that my lips brush against her ears so that she can properly hear my sensual whispers.
  
  "Come now~ even if we're just playing pretend, I'd still like to show you a good time.~"
  
  Moving even closer I push my body against hers and slowly and lightly trail one of my fingernails up her stomach making her breath hitch and blood flow to her cheeks as I keep whispering to her like the devils temptation.
  
  "It's not like we'll be doing anything hard, just some light stuff. Don't you want to enjoy yourself?~ It'll be fun~ all you have to do is let loose a little~ we're already here, might as well make it a night to remember.~"
  
  The hand that was trailing over her body rises to her face, gently tilting it until we are facing each other.
  
  Her breath is ragged and her eyes are cloudy as she loses herself in the moment and I deliver the final blow by bringing my lips just to the edge of her own, barely brushing them.
  
  "What do you say?~" When my breathy whisper makes her shudder I know that I've got her.
  
  "F-fine. But I'm not doing like, heroin or anything like that." She says, looking down and away slightly out of embarrassment.
  
  With her acquiescence, I move back, giving her some space to calm down as I flag down one of the workers and order a pair of shots for everyone at the capes table, as well as a pair for Claire and I.
  
  I also pre-emptively pay for it with what is probably a very generous tip, since I just grabbed a handful of twenties to hand over.
  
  It's not like it's my money anyway, so I have no problem blowing it all.
  
  I still have plenty left over from whatever her name was. Wait did I even get her name?
  
  Eh, who cares.
  
  I wait until I see a server approaching the table with two trays full of shots before I make my way over, dragging Claire with me by her hand.
  
  There are eight of them and a quick assessment of their group dynamic tells me that the cape is very much the odd one out.
  
  For one, she looks way too young to be allowed in here, something I am only noticing now that I can get a good look at her face.
  
  I'd peg her for fifteen or so.
  
  But with how recklessly she is consuming, both alcohol and drugs, it's clear that there is something going on in her life that probably sucks, but I'm not a therapist, so I don't care.
  
  I get the distinct feeling that the others are only even hanging around her because she is paying for things, because they are mostly just ignoring her while she makes one hell of an effort shunt her brain into a different reality.
  
  Bursting up to them, I greet them with a cheerful, if slightly naïve smile.
  
  "Hey there! My name's Eve and this is Claire, we come bearing gifts!" I exclaim while gesturing to the server that arrives at that moment.
  
  A cheer goes up from the table at the sight of free booze and they immediately become friendly.
  
  Some greetings are exchanged, but I ignore them all until one of the guys says something I actually have to respond to.
  
  "To what do we owe the pleasure!?" His slightly slurred voice asks.
  
  "I was just looking for a pick-me-up to make the night even better!" I half shout, to be heard over the music, with a wink to match my smirk.
  
  He nods in understanding with a smile of his own to match mine.
  
  "I getchu! Here! Molly!" He exclaims, chucking a little bag over the table in front of me.
  
  I have no idea what 'molly' is, but fuck it, in for a pound.
  
  With a shrug, I take out two pills and chuck the little baggie back before handing one of them to Claire with a slightly nervous smile, as I don't want her to feel isolated by acting too comfortable, she might get cold feet if I do that.
  
  Instead, my 'nervousness' gives her the courage to keep going and with a quick non verbal countdown, we both pop the pills in our mouths and then down it with a shot.
  
  I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to combine alcohol and drugs for health reasons, but once again, I don't really care.
  
  One good thing about doing shots though is that I can quickly swallow the whole thing without having to taste it's rancid flavour.
  
  I am however noticing that rather than getting tipsy, I'm just starting to feel ill, which makes me think that alcohol probably doesn't effect me anymore.
  
  Drugs on the other hand clearly do, as after maybe half an hour of just hanging around and drinking the occasional shot, I start to feel it kicking in.
  
  The world get's filled with light, it's colours becoming more saturated than ever while all the noise of the club suddenly starts washing over me, like water over a rock.
  
  I feel myself start salivating as all of a sudden all I can think about is the tantalising scent of all the humans around me and under my incredulous stare I watch as people start transforming into all the food I've missed.
  
  Around the table, various anthropomorphic foods sit, tempting me with their mere presence.
  
  Suddenly, I am spun to the side and stare wide eyed at the walking pizza slice that looks like it's trying to talk to me, but naturally no words come out, because it is a pizza slice, and pizza can't talk.
  
  Right as I am thinking of taking a bite, something else manages to distract me.
  
  To my side is one person. The only person here in fact.
  
  She's a little girl, fourteen or fifteen years old with Asian features and I can't help but be drawn to her for the simple fact that she is another person while everyone else is food.
  
  How strange.
  
  "He~y! What's your name?" I say, waiving at the little Asian girl, "do you know the way to Narnia?"
  
  I think I got lost.
  
  I see a flashing light from the corner of my eye and turn around to see it, only to blink and realise I didn't turn around.
  
  Ahhh~ the sky is falling.
  
  ...
  
  A long, drawn out groan leaves my throat and it takes a hot minute before I even remember that I exist.
  
  𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘶𝘤𝘬.
  
  I try to open my eyes, only to immediately slam them shut as what feels like the fucking 𝘴𝘶𝘯 glares straight into my brain, bringing about a stinging pain that thankfully fades pretty quickly, along with the ringing in my ears that I didn't even notice.
  
  Once again. 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘶𝘤𝘬?
  
  After spending a couple of minutes slowly cracking my eyes open, giving them plenty of time to adjust to the light, I finally manage to get a look at where the fuck I am.
  
  A quick glance answers most of my prominent questions as I notice that not only am I inside of someone's bedroom, but I am also in their bed, stark naked.
  
  I am 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 not alone, as there are two other women in the bed with me.
  
  One of them is Claire and the other I don't even recognise, but one thing they both have in common is their incredibly.. 𝘳𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘥 appearance.
  
  Clearly, we had an eventful night.
  
  As the headache peters out into nothing, most likely thanks to my power, I let out a satisfied smile.
  
  I might not remember jack shit about how I got here, but my blackout self clearly had fun, so I count that as a win.
  
  The last thing I remember is finding that cape.
  
  It kinda sucks that I still don't know anything about here, since learning that was the whole reason I approached her anyway, but I don't bother dwelling on it.
  
  It's not like it's the end of the world after all and there's always next time.
  
  A quick glance out of the window tells me that it is probably in the early hours of the morning and after focusing on my hearing for a moment, I gather that no one else is up and about around me.
  
  Deciding to simply dip, I carefully get up and spend a while searching for all of my stuff and getting dressed.
  
  I also decide to just grab any cash I come across, because why not right?
  
  Then, without preamble, I simply leave, probably to never see either of them again.
  
  As I make my way back to my hotel room, I reflect on the experience.
  
  It was certainly something, but I can't remember half of it and what I can remember wasn't even all that fun.
  
  Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be doing anything like that again. It kind of sucked to be completely honest.
  
  Ah well, it's one more thing crossed off the bucket list.
  
  But now I want to do something fun again, lest boredom find me again.
  
  Luckily for me, I do actually have something of a plan for not only having some fun but also establishing my Clowns in the minds of those who matter.
  
  I don't really care if random nobodies know about us, I only really want people with pull or importance to be properly informed, namely capes that are part of larger organisations.
  
  Then again, this is kind of a long term goal. It's not like I can establish a group in just a few months after all. We need more members first and then we need to simply do more shit so we can get some credibility.
  
  I'd imagine my little play will at least put us on some peoples radars, but I want more than just that.
  
  Ah well, I'll leave that for later. For now I'm going to have a shower and a nap, then just chill until my plan starts moving forward.
  
  Idly, I realise that I can't even remember the name of that girl anymore.
  
  With that thought, I move forward with a small chuckle and a relaxed smile that is starting to feel like a permanent fixture to my face.
  
  There are fun times ahead, I can 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 it.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  It is 10 in the morning.
  
  In other news, recently I finally got the achievement for slay the spire for getting to ascension 5 on each character, though I have already got to 7 for the rogue snake lady, whatever her name is, Watcher? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  54 Too Tired to Think of a Title
  The question of finding something to do is actually a whole lot easier to solve than you might think, thanks in no small part to the Teeth.
  
  You see, the Teeth are a gang of anarchists and sadistic psychopaths, mostly edgy teenagers and young adults really, lead by the Butcher.
  
  And while the Teeth themselves aren't really too much to write home about, the Butcher certainly is, as their power is simply that should they be killed, their consciousness, as well as any powers they have, will be transferred to their killer, then that killer becomes the new Butcher and leads the Teeth.
  
  Thus, the cycle continues, likely indefinitely.
  
  Thankfully, the powers that get carried over get watered down slightly, otherwise they would be hella powerful with all the super strengths they have stacking with each other.
  
  Right now they are at Butcher XIII, who only recently succeeded the position, which is nice, because it means he might not be too insane yet.
  
  After all, the Butcher has the voices of all the other Butchers in their head, and just considering the fact that Butcher one and two managed to drive Butcher three to suicide in a 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬 just by themselves, having a dozen similar such voices probably won't be doing anyone's sanity any favours.
  
  Then again, Butcher three was the only hero of the lot, so they were probably extra mean to him and his heroic sensibilities.
  
  Either way, the important part is that you 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳. Something made difficult by the fact that they will gladly kill you, and are in all likelihood fully capable of doing so, especially if you are holding back.
  
  All in all, they are one scary motherfucker who nobody really wants to risk fighting.
  
  ... I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.
  
  The Teeth like to bounce between Boston and New York on more or less a monthly basis and it just so happens that they were in Boston when Butcher XIII took the helm a couple of weeks ago.
  
  In other words, they are due to arrive here in the ensuing days, and nobody is particularly happy about it, especially since the new Butcher will be wanting to make an impression, so as to give himself a reputation beyond his namesake.
  
  Not that it will really make a difference. He is the Butcher and everyone knows exactly what that means and that's all that really matters.
  
  Which is why I pinged a message off to Jinx asking him to let it be known that parahuman muscle is in the city and available for hire, even against the Butcher.
  
  I've decided that it is about time I earned some honest money.
  
  Naturally, by 'honest' I just mean money that is being given to me willingly but eh, semantics.
  
  That was after I got back to my hotel from my earlier escapades with what's-her-face and the other one.
  
  Now, it is the day after and I have an 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸.
  
  I'm practically bubbling at the thought as my excitement gets the better of me.
  
  It's just that I've never been to an interview before, and it's going to be with Uppercrust of all people, the leader of the local branch of the Elite, which is the single biggest criminal organisation in America!
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬
  
  Ahhh.~
  
  I shudder from a healthy mix of pleasure and pain for a moment as I calm down from my emotional high.
  
  Right. Focus.
  
  I do want to give a good impression after all.
  
  I want my Clowns to have a reputation of being reliable.
  
  Ok, maybe reliable isn't the best word. More like 𝘦𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦.
  
  I want people to know that if they hire us, then whatever they hire us to do will be done, just possibly at the cost of a little bit of chaos,
  
  It's all about setting a precedent.
  
  Take the Slaughterhouse Nine for instance, everybody knows that they are just a bunch of murder hobos who will in all likelihood torture and kill everyone they interact with.
  
  But! There was that one time, funnily enough also involving the Teeth, over in the Nazi capital of America, Brockton Bay, when there was a bidding war for the Nine's services in killing the other bidders.
  
  The Teeth won the bid and the Nine killed some heroes for them, then they showed how they felt about being told what to do by wiping the Teeth out, down to just the Butcher who they drove out of the city, which was their powerbase at the time.
  
  Doing so, the Nine set a precedent.
  
  You 𝘤𝘢𝘯 hire them, only with the understanding that once they have killed whoever you want dead, they will be coming for 𝘺𝘰𝘶.
  
  In other words, it's a stupid thing to do if you aren't planning on killing yourself immediately after making the offer.
  
  Now, I actually happen to want me and my Clowns to be invited to things and to be interacted with, so I can't set that kind of precedent.
  
  Instead, what I want people to think when considering hiring my Clowns is that we 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 get the job done, whatever it is, the only price being a decent chance of the location experiencing a little bit of chaos.
  
  Well, that wouldn't be the 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 price, obviously there would still be the money getting used to hire us, but that doesn't sound as cool.
  
  So I am very excited for this meeting as it is an opportunity to set a precedent for my Clowns in the minds of the capes of America.
  
  With all of that in mind, I made sure to wash my new mask (I had to get a new one after Cu crushed the old one into a fine powder via introducing my face to tarmac, it looks the same as the old one) to ensure that I am as presentable as possible.
  
  This leads to now, as I am arriving at the meeting location, which happens to be a simple looking office building in a less populated part of the city, at four in the afternoon.
  
  It's kind of lame that we're not having the meeting at midnight and in an abandoned warehouse with dusty crates and cobwebs under the full moon, but whatever, there's always next time.
  
  In the interest of not being stupid, I didn't actually wear my costume the whole way here, instead I brought a it in a bag and came in normal clothes, only changing about a block away.
  
  This is why I am shouldering a messenger bag over my classic prison outfit that has some tasteful wear and tear thanks once again to Cu, for smacking me about.
  
  Of course, to finish the look, I am still shoeless.
  
  With a pep in my step, I walk fearlessly through the front door of the building, noticing how it does indeed seem like an unused building, if not for the faint tracks on the floor where dust has been moved.
  
  However, no one pops out to greet me, which means that this is either a test or a power play.. maybe both.
  
  I decide to move forward with the assumption that it's a test, because if it's a power play then I will deal with that when the time comes. It's not like I particularly care about power plays, it honestly seems a little silly, making someone wait and for what?
  
  So you can be all 'muahaha, you stayed over there 'cuz I told you to muaha'.
  
  A light chuckle tries to leave my throat at the image and I don't stop it.
  
  I do however, start scanning the area with my better senses rather than my eyes, starting with scent.
  
  Almost immediately after focusing on the sense, I smell the odour of a parahuman nearby, but I think they must have been chilling in the room for a while because the scent trail doesn't really lead anywhere.
  
  That problem is solved once I 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 start focusing on my hearing.
  
  One thing I've noticed about my enhanced senses, is that just using the word 'enhanced' feels like an understatement, something that is proven true once I start to take note of the sound of a heartbeat.
  
  Turning in the direction of the heartbeat, I find nothing. Just an empty wall with a couple of chairs sitting against it.
  
  Some kind of Stranger? Invisibility powers most likely, limited to sight, maybe other things but probably not.
  
  Or it could be something else, like a projection of some kind, or maybe it's actually Uppercrust's power at play.
  
  As these speculations pour through my head, I keep starting directly where I feel like the mystery person's eyes should be, and I feel my grin start to stretch wider as I notice the sound of his heartbeat picking up.
  
  Not moving a muscle, I continue staring in their direction, while keeping an ear out for any other heartbeats, until a whole 5 minutes pass and they finally crack.
  
  The space in front of me peels away in a kaleidoscope of colours and in the blink of the eye, there is now a woman standing in front of me, right where I was looking.
  
  She is dressed in a simple black suit, with pants despite gender stereotypes, with a matching black domino mask that covers down to the tip of her nose, framed by her short and curly brown hair.
  
  At her appearance, I jump backward slightly and bring my hands up to cover my mouth in 'shock'.
  
  "Woah~ where did you come from!~" My voice sounds out, like a baby experiencing the wonders of object permanence for the first time.
  
  Unfortunately, being the boring '𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭' that she is, she ignores my remark entirely.
  
  Instead, she simply straightens out her jacket and turns on her heel.
  
  "If you would please follow me." Her voice sounds rehearsed, like she's practiced the line so many times that it no longer holds any life.
  
  "Happily!~" I exclaim, bouncing after her at a carefree skip as she leads me to an elevator.
  
  She enters first, and I notice how she doesn't stand in the middle of the small box like I'd expected her too, choosing to be closer the the edge instead.
  
  I make the assumption that it's because she is uncomfortable with being around me, something supported by her heartbeat that betrays her calm façade.
  
  Naturally, my response to this is to simply stand right next to her, such that our shoulders are touching and I feel a sudden increase in her heart rate the moment we make contact.
  
  Something tells me they are well informed about me, because I doubt she's just a natural coward.
  
  Ah well, reputation is more valuable than gold to a cape, so I'm not going to complain.
  
  "No elevator music?~ Isn't that against the Geneva convention?~"
  
  To both of our shock, she actually does respond this time, though clearly it was a speak before you think kind of moment.
  
  "I don't know if elevator music was a thing when the Geneva convention was signed."
  
  Her body tenses once she realises she accidentally spoke to me, like I'm some animal that's going to attack her or something, but I pretend not to notice and decide to be nice for once and do a little educating.
  
  "Ah ah~ someone doesn't know their history.~ While the Geneva convention was first signed back in 1864, that was only the first part of four, with the latest being back in, like, '49 and elevator music started being a thing around the '30's, back when the empire state building first opened it's doors."
  
  She is unable to stop herself from turning to me in blatant shock and I bask in her surprise. Clearly she's had the image of me in her head as some kind of rabid animal that can't even understand algebra for some reason.
  
  Good. This is the whole point of doing this in the first place. To establish a precedent, that even if we may play dumb sometimes, we shouldn't be seen as idiots.
  
  "Which means, it is totally possible that not having elevator music is prohibited by the Geneva convention.~" I finish, amused by her poor attempts to remain stoic.
  
  Unfortunately, before I can say anything else, the elevator pings, signifying our arrival and jolting her our of her reverie and back into 'serious boring business' mode, squared shoulders, straight backed and a face carved of stone.
  
  The elevator's doors slide open to reveal exactly who I'm here to see.
  
  𝘜𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘴𝘵.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I'mma change the cover to look like what Lusia looks like rn btw.
  
  Now that I type that out, I feel like it'll probably be rather obvious without me saying anything.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  55 Meeting
  The room is wide and well lit, like a CEO's office, only with less decoration.
  
  The spartan look to the room tells me that this is only a temporary meeting location, rather than somewhere that sees much active use, which makes sense.
  
  No need to invite an unknown parahuman into your house after all.
  
  At the opposite end of the room from the elevator is a large mahogany desk, I don't actually know if it's mahogany, but I would assume it is.
  
  The desk itself has a few files and a laptop on it, but nothing else.
  
  Most importantly, there are the three people behind the desk.
  
  Flanking each side stand a man and woman respectively, the man on the right and the woman on the left, my left that is.
  
  Like the one exiting the elevator with me, they are all wearing black business suits, though their masks are both more encompassing, covering their whole faces, only leaving holes for their eyes.
  
  It's kind of annoying that they all have matching outfits, because a lot of capes dress around their powers, like a pyrokinetic dressing in red for instance, but with them just wearing suits, I can't make any guesses on their powers just from looking at them.
  
  I honestly don't even know if it's intentional too, since image is one of the most important things for a cape and I'm sure the outfits help the image of this being the most professional villain group in the country.
  
  With the information available limited, there is very little I can deduce.
  
  One thing I can tell though, is that neither of their heartbeats are fluctuating at all or beating all that fast, which means they don't think they are in danger which makes me think that they are both CQC type capes.
  
  That would make sense, considering they are probably here to be bodyguards for the man they are flanking.
  
  Which brings me to the man sitting in the chair.
  
  Uppercrust.
  
  Honestly? He's not really what I was expecting.
  
  For one, he is old.
  
  Like, 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 old. Not to the point that he has a hunched back, he probably keeps himself in shape, but he has the short grey hair and the wrinkled face and I'm pretty sure that's a liver spot peaking out from behind his simple domino mask.
  
  It's certainly a rarity for capes to be old, not only because most triggers are teenagers, but mainly because the life span of a cape is generally not too long.
  
  The lady who greeted me walks past me to stand beside the other woman, leaving me the only one on this side of the desk.
  
  Shrugging mentally, I walk up the chair on my side of the room and leapfrog over it's back to sit myself down.
  
  Once I am in the seat, I notice a subtle change in Uppercrusts demeaner that proves his experience as he easily understood my unsaid message.
  
  It really is amazing how much information can be traded with so little interaction.
  
  Earlier, he left me waiting without a clear reception, something that was most likely a power play of some kind.
  
  Then, I come in here and I am outnumbered four to one, while my side of the room is completely bare while his at least has a window and some life to it, another power play.
  
  Even then, there is the fact that his chair is like, twice as big as mine, another stupid, subtle power play.
  
  Like, on one hand, I get that image is important, but on the other hand, I think all this stuff is stupid.
  
  So I showed him that.
  
  Normally someone in my position is supposed to wait to be offered a seat, doing so would set a clear power balance, or I could take my seat without paying him mind, this would make us seem more even but would also be insulting should I not be capable of backing my actions up with power.
  
  It's all really complicated and stupid in my opinion, so I flipped the board a little.
  
  By hopping over the chair to sit in it like that, I have both made the power play of sitting as if I own the place while also making it clear that I think such power plays are stupid thanks to my childish method of seating.
  
  Once again, it is surprising how much shit can go on in so little time.
  
  With his elbows on the table and his fingers folded in front of his face, Uppercrust leans towards me, his eyes pinning me to my seat, glistening with wisdom gained through years of life.
  
  "Tear. I will cut straight to the chase." His stern, baritone voice slowly sounds out, "The only reason I even 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥 the thought of meeting you is because of the Butcher. Even then, I am of half a mind to simply call this off and send you on your way. So tell me Tear, why should I listen to a single thing you have to say?"
  
  Blinking at the sudden hostility, I lean further back into my chair, lifting one leg over one of it's arms and resting an elbow on the other so I can rest my face on a closed fist, becoming the picture of relaxed.
  
  Seeing one of the 'guards" eyes twitch at my casualness draws a smile from me, not that they can see it but you can hear a smile, even if you don't realise it.
  
  "My my~ is this what they call negging?~" I say in a teasing tone of voice before continuing in a slightly more serious but still light-hearted tone "Why are you even so against spending time with me?~ We've never even met!~"
  
  I finish with an audible pout, turning my head to face away from him, making me have to side-eye him to meet his eyes.
  
  After I finish speaking, I discreetly glance at each of the people in the room, a faint feeling 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 settling in my mind. Not like a bad feeling per say, more like something just isn't as it's supposed to be, though I can't quite think of what it is exactly.
  
  But as I am looking between the four of them, my eyes land on the girl I met first and I take note of the fact that her heartrate has calmed down considerably.
  
  Clearly she feels more comfortable with her friends with her.
  
  My attention is brought back to the room by Uppercrusts stern response.
  
  "I have seen the video Tear. I have seen what you can do. What you have done. Why would I ever allow an unstable, 𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘴 element such as you to operate with my people?"
  
  Without really even thinking about it, I laugh out loud, as if he just told a great joke, and it's a genuine laugh too, just probably not for the reason he would think.
  
  It's just that he considers me dangerous.
  
  Him, a gang lord who has been in the business for decades, possibly one of the first parahuman gang lords and most likely the only one still alive from back in the day.
  
  Yet he sees 𝘮𝘦 as a threat, someone who has only had powers for about three months.
  
  If that's not a good joke, then I don't know what is.
  
  Still, I should probably actually respond.
  
  My laughter dies down and I bring the hand that isn't holding up my head up and rest a finger on my cheek, visibly pondering.
  
  "Don't you think you're making a mountain out of a molehill here?~ It's not like this needs to be as complicated as you're making it you know?~"
  
  Even as my leisurely voice sounds out, I am only half paying attention to the conversation itself, most of my focus on finding the source of that niggling feeling I've been feeling in the back of my skull that something is off.
  
  "Is that so? In that case, please simplify it for me." He demands.
  
  A burst of air leaves my nose out of brief amusement before I suddenly still as it all clicks in my mind.
  
  My nose.
  
  It's 𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵.
  
  𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵'𝘴 what's been off. I can't smell any of them.
  
  Instead of answering right away, I get to my feet and take a half step forward, briefly looking side to side, yet seeing no indication of what I know is there.
  
  Deciding subtlety is for losers, I quickly take a stance and in the same motion, use my entire weight to throw a punch forward.
  
  My arm moves in a blur, right up until my fist reaches the line where his desk ends where instead of simply continuing uninterrupted through the empty air, my arm is stopped dread in it's tracks with a sickening 𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩 followed immediately by a loud and sharp 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬, like a gunshot, that only makes Elevator Girl flinch back.
  
  My entire arm 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 and it 𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘵𝘴, yet not nearly as bad as what Jason did to me, so I don't even blink at the pain, instead to preoccupied with the sight of my splattered blood floating in mid-air, slowly dribbling down what seems to be the clearest piece of glass ever, only visible by the long and encompassing cracks spreading out from the point of impact.
  
  "I see." I hum to myself, bringing my already healed arm to my chin even as I watch as the cracks slowly seem to repair themselves, fading from sight as they do so.
  
  I guess it was Uppercrust after all that was making her feel safe.
  
  I suppose I really should have expected this. He is a Tinker whose specialisation is barriers after all, it only makes sense that he would place one between us.
  
  Looking back at the people in front of me, I ignore the sudden tenseness in the guards as they no doubt prepare to fight me and look Uppercrust right in the eye even as my blood hangs between us.
  
  "Thought as much.~ It's almost like you don't trust me, aren't we buddies?~" I ask airily with a faint wine in my tone.
  
  "I do not trust you and we are not friends." Is his bland answer and I stick my tongue out at him in response, knowing he won't be able to see it.
  
  "Welp!~ As I was saying~ it's quite simple really. From the moment the Butcher shows up in New York and for the duration of time it takes for them to leave, I will go where you tell me to, protect what you tell me to and fight who you tell me to fight, when you tell me to fight. We can even do a contract if you think that sort of thing will effect me.~"
  
  His chair creaks slightly as his weight moves back while he mulls over my words.
  
  "And what of payment? I assume you want to be paid." He asks, and I quickly jump in with an affirmative.
  
  "Yup."
  
  "Then how can I trust that you won't simply run off with the money without actually doing what I would be paying you for?" He finishes and I can tell that he already wants to hire me.
  
  I should rephrase that, it feels misleading. It would be more accurate to say that I can tell how he 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴𝘯'𝘵 want his own people to tangle with the Butcher.
  
  "Oh that's an easy one," I say, waving away the question as if it's obvious, "just don't pay me 'till the job's over. Problem solved.~"
  
  I can practically 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 his raised eyebrow and hear it in his questioning tone.
  
  "And you trust me to deliver? What is stopping 𝘮𝘦 from simply not paying you after the fact?"
  
  This time it's my turn to roll my eyes, something that is not very subtle with my bright red eyes.
  
  "Of 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦 I trust you.~" I say with a wink.
  
  Right as he opens his mouth, no doubt to ask 𝘸𝘩𝘺 I trust him, I speak again, interrupting him.
  
  "I trust you because you've been in the game for a while and I trust that you are not stupid.~ I trust that you understand the danger a single parahuman with nothing to lose can cause to an organisation. I trust that you understand that making me an enemy for no reason would be foolish and I trust that you are no fool."
  
  The slight quiver of his lips is the only sign I get that he is pleased with my little speech and I can tell that he has already made his decision even as he continues to 'interrogate' me.
  
  "Do you think that you could stand against us? Against the Elite?" He asks, sounding genuinely curious beneath the general sternness of his voice.
  
  I obviously don't think I could face the Elite alone. Kill a bunch of them? Sure, easy. But to actually 𝘸𝘪𝘯? Unlikely.
  
  Still, he only asked if I thought I could stand against them, not whether or not I could win, so I don't hesitate to respond.
  
  "Yup!~"
  
  A snort brings the attention of the room to the only other male present and he speaks up the moment our eyes lock.
  
  "That would be a lot more convincing if you could even brake Boss' barrier." He taunts.
  
  Before even thinking about my response, I am already speaking and it's only after my words are out that they register in my mind and I immediately regret them.
  
  "I held back dipshit. You don't just go around breaking shit when someone invites you over~ not to mention that I didn't want to give you too much of a scare.~"
  
  I can 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 the smirk in his voice as he retorts, Uppercrust not seeming to mind the dialog.
  
  "Oh yeah? Then you wouldn't mind proving that, would you? After all, knowing your strength will help us gauge how much you are worth."
  
  Well shit.
  
  I turn to Uppercrust, silently asking his permission and hoping that he says no.
  
  "I don't mind. The actual barrier itself can be broken as many times as is needed. It will fix itself soon enough."
  
  Damnit.
  
  Well, you know what they say, no backsies.
  
  Readying my fist, I take a punching stance again only this time I push some of my power through from the highest 'source' and down through my arm, all the way to my fist, bursting out to form three small, blood red spikes, each about an inch long and protruding from between my knuckles.
  
  God I hope this works, it will be beyond embarrassing if it doesn't.
  
  With my knuckle dusters formed, I throw the same punch forward.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬
  
  My arm pauses.
  
  𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳
  
  And jolts forward another few inches before I bring a stop to the swing, my arm sticking through a hole in the air where the invisible barrier has been broken.
  
  Outside I calmly pull back my hand and relax as the conversation moves on and we discuss the finer details of things.
  
  Inside however, I breathe out a massive sigh of relief.
  
  Fuck that would have been embarrassing if I failed. I'd probably just leave the city in that situation.
  
  Clearing that thought away, I focus back on the conversation.
  
  Especially when it comes to how much I'm going to be paid.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  This chap is 25% longer than normal. Be grateful.
  
  Edit: I accidentally didn't write anything yesterday and now I have to do at least double to catch up again, so the 25% extra is actually a 75% decrease.. at least for the patrons, you fellow poor folk don't got to worry about not getting your daily fix, so yeah, I will circle back and say you should be grateful.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  56 Butcher XIII
  𝘚𝘭𝘶𝘶𝘶𝘳𝘱
  
  "Must you drink so loudly?" Sighs Elevator Girl, who I now know is called Hideout, from my side as I loudly suck my drink through a straw.
  
  As it turns out, it 𝘪𝘴 possible to turn people into slushies and I have been thoroughly enjoying the fresh flavour.
  
  It's been a few days since my meeting with the Elite, time which I used to advance my culinary repertoire, and the Teeth finally showed themselves yesterday.
  
  Thus, my contract has officially begun and I am technically no longer unemployed. So.. yay, I guess.
  
  Anyway.
  
  Right now, and for the past few hours as well, I have been sitting on this roof with only Hideout and my cards for company.
  
  Apparently Hideout is only here to use her power to hide me until the Butcher shows up, though I think she's also here to make sure I don't do anything 'untoward', like robbing the place I'm supposed to be protecting.
  
  I don't even know what it is that I am protecting, though I'm guessing either guns or drugs, or maybe both. But Uppercrust is apparently convinced that the Butcher knows about this place and is likely to hit it today, thus my presence here.
  
  He's also made it plenty clear that Hideout is only here to keep me company until Butcher shows up, and that I will be on my own at that point.
  
  I happen to be perfectly fine with that. If anything, I prefer it this way.
  
  After all, I have a number of new muscles to stretch and I've been doing a lot of practicing and experimenting with my powers and have a whole lot of new tricks to test out in live combat.
  
  But that's for when they actually show up, for now there are more important things to focus on.
  
  "For your information, yes I 𝘥𝘰. Slurping is a sign of appreciation and the louder the slurp the greater the sign of appreciation.~"
  
  Hideout just huffs from where she sits beside, keeping an eye on the road below while I focus on my game of solitaire.
  
  The pair of us are sitting inside of her power, which basically allows her to 'draw' out a ring on the ground which makes anyone inside of the ring invisible to anyone outside of it.
  
  Pretty nifty for making sure no one sneaks up on us, though I think I would be fine without her.
  
  Not that I mind the company.
  
  "What are you even drinking anyway?" She asks, not turning her head away from the street.
  
  Deciding both to fuck with her and that it would probably be best if I'm not honest anyway, I answer blandly, with the kind of tone you would expect to be used if I was saying 'water', only water is not what I say at all.
  
  "Vinegar."
  
  She nods her head disinterestedly for a brief moment before freezing as she properly comprehends what I said.
  
  Her head whips around to face me fast enough that I would be worried for her neck if I actually cared for her wellbeing.
  
  "𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵!?" She half screams, still conscious enough of the situation at hand to attempt to keep her voice low even through her shock.
  
  I carefully lift my head from my game and stare her dead in the eyes, something that makes her have to try and hide a slight flinch, no doubt due to the crimson tint of my own eyes.
  
  "It's vinegar. 𝘗𝘶𝘴𝘴𝘺." I practically spit, my tone daring her to question my choice of beverage.
  
  As it is, she merely sits there for a moment, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water as she tries and fails to come up with a response.
  
  A moment later her problem is solved for her as I burst out laughing, her little consternated face being too much for me to handle as I fall to my back, holding my sides with one arm and pointing at her with the other so that I am literally pointing and laughing.
  
  Predictably, she flushes and turns away, focusing back on her job and pretending to ignore me.
  
  Once I get my laughter back under control, I sit back up and go back to my game of solitaire, which I've almost won.
  
  "I jest, I jest~" I say to the irate woman, appeasing her slightly, only to annoy her again with my following words, "It's actually just the tears of orphans.~"
  
  I hear her huff and from the corner of my eye I can see that she is once again focusing on the road even as she opens her mouth to continue with out conversation.
  
  "If-" She starts, only to be immediately cut off by the sound a pair of loud engines rocketing towards our location.
  
  Both of us snap to attention and stare down the street, one of us with weariness and the other anticipation. I'll give you three guesses as to who's who, but the first two don't count.
  
  As I was hoping, we are both greeted by the sight of a pair of trucks that look like they belong in a Mad Max movie, what with all the spikes and skulls turn the corner on the end of the street, barrelling down towards us with music blasting out that is barely even audible over the incredible thrum of their engines.
  
  Well, let it be known that no one ever accused the Teeth of being subtle.
  
  Damn. I am suddenly brought short by an intrusive thought and I spare a single regretful glance to my cards. I was so close to finishing too... heh, that's what she said.
  
  Shaking my head clear of my mental whining, I decide to quickly go through what I know of the capes I'm about to face. Uppercrust has a lot of information and all but forced me to listen to it all.
  
  The spoilsport doesn't understand the concept of spoilers. It's much more fun if I have to actually figure out the powers myself.
  
  Either way, I know what I know and what I know is that there are currently only six members.
  
  First there is Spike, he can turn himself into a pincushion. The method to countering him seems to basically be 'don't hug him'. He probably also has a minor Brute rating, but not enough that it really matters.
  
  Then there's Hemorrhagia. I have no idea how it's supposed to be spelt, and to be honest I kind of forgot how to pronounce it properly. She can control blood, but not a lot of it and has some kind of self biokinesis.
  
  She's basically just a person with armour and weapons that she can change as she wills it, and it doesn't matter if she can control blood if I just rip her head off.
  
  After her we have Slasher, and I imagine that he only added the -er on the end of his name to avoid association with Jack Slash, because not even the Teeth want to be associated with the Nine, especially after they kicked their asses out of Brockton.
  
  He can just turn his arms and feet into blades that aren't really all that much better than normal swords.
  
  Pretty weak to be honest and I'd imagine that if he manages to survive today that he wouldn't have lasted all that long anyway.
  
  Then there is Animos, probably the only one of them that is in any way dangerous. His power is that he can transform into some werewolf looking thing, but that alone wouldn't be too impressive.
  
  What makes him a credible threat is that his howl, when transformed, temporarily disables the powers of anyone within it's cone of range.
  
  I don't really know how that works on Brutes like me and frankly I don't intend to find out.
  
  There is another stooge cape, but apparently they don't come out much. Uppercrust says that it's either that they are a Tinker or that they are just too green.
  
  Then, saving the best for last is of course the Butcher themselves.
  
  The more you think about the Butchers powers, the less you generally want to fight him.
  
  Naturally, this means that I get more excited as I mentally go through the list.
  
  First there's the pain blast and while it can induce cardiac arrest in normals, I'm sure I will be able to handle it. Then he can see hearts and arteries and stuff through walls, though apparently not through Hideout's power.
  
  That's just form the first two Butchers, the third was the only hero of the lot and he supposedly had some kind of danger sense and that only leaves ten more to go.
  
  He can make an wounds he inflicts to fester, which is really just an extra 'fuck you' in my opinion. He can teleport short distances, though he explodes every time he lands, so it's not exactly stealthy.
  
  He can shape matter in limited amounts, so there's no real point in trying to disarm him. He can make those near him go into a mindless rage and he's also immune to pain.
  
  Then, finally, he has super strength stacked at least six times over. Though since the Butcher only passes down watered down versions of the powers, it's not as incredible as it sounds, but still a high tier brute.
  
  Most likely stronger and more durable than me without my armour.
  
  Ah, I just realised that the current Butcher's original power was one of those Brute ones, so maybe he will actually be stronger than I thought.
  
  Oh well. There's always the mucus membrane if his skin proves too tough. Thanks Jason.
  
  By the time I've finished reviewing what I am going up against the Teeth in question have all clambered out of their cars and formed a small mob on the street below us.
  
  "Well?" I hear from my side and as I turn I see Hideout gesture to the crowd below, swinging her arm out as if she is presenting them and giving me the kind of look you would give a dog when it's refusing to drop something.
  
  "Yes 𝘮𝘰𝘮." I say with a roll of my eyes as I walk up to the edge of the roof, standing with my toes dangling over the edge.
  
  Reaching into my pocket, I pull out a vital instrument for my plan of action.
  
  "Why are you putting on glasses?" I hear from behind me.
  
  "Shut up. It's all part of the plan." I say before ignoring her and focusing.
  
  Indeed, I truly am a genius, I have no idea how I come up with all these amazing plans.
  
  Maybe I actually am a Thinker after all?
  
  Shaking my head clear of thoughts, I allow my excitement to well up and suffuse my being.
  
  A smile grows on my face and I take a deep breath and hold it for a moment.
  
  As I let go of the breath, I take a step forward, immediately plummeting to the ground.
  
  About halfway down, I twist forward and kick back, pushing off the building behind me to launch myself forward, directly at the Butcher.
  
  However, despite coming from behind, right as I am a few feet away, they suddenly snap around to face me, but by that point I am too close for them to do anything about it.
  
  But right as my fist is about to connect with their face, they simply disappear, as if they were but a mirage.
  
  Having already seen this coming, I don't hesitate for a second to change targets.
  
  I hit the ground with a roll and as soon as I get my feet under me, I launch myself forward once again, straight at Animos who is already transformed and has his maw open, no doubt about to scream at me.
  
  Unfortunately for him, he never gets the chance as my knee impacts his jaw, closing his mouth with an audible 𝘴𝘯𝘢𝘱 and sending him flying to the other side of the street.
  
  Before I can feel any satisfaction from it however, I suddenly feel extremely hot and it actually takes my brain a moment to register that I am flying through the air.
  
  It's only when my face smacks into the ground that I properly understand what just happened.
  
  Slowly pushing myself over onto my back, I lift myself up with a groan, resting on my elbows.
  
  I am greeted by an angry looking Butcher approaching me with a steady gait.
  
  Heh, you fool, you have activated my trap.
  
  It is time for my ultimate plan to come into effect.
  
  "Wait!" I shout right as he is within arms reach of me, making him pause. "You wouldn't hit a girl with glasses, would you?~"
  
  He responds by kicking me in the face.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I kinda fucked up. That cape she met in the club? That was supposed to be an important plot point, cuz that cape is important-ish. but Tear blew it by getting fucked up and now I don't know how to fix it. :(
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  57 Friendly Spar
  Ow.
  
  Wiping the remains of my prop glasses from my face I get to my feet and scan the line-up facing me.
  
  I think Butcher has realised that the others aren't going to be able to do much as other than the couple of people who are trying to wake up Animos, I guess the bult up momentum was enough to knock him out cold, everyone seems to be forming a half ring, looking for all the world like they are just here to watch a street show.
  
  All except Butcher of course, he is walking menacingly towards me instead.
  
  Idly I take note of the fact that he isn't wearing a mask, something that's understandable considering his affliction, but other than that he fits the general theme of the Teeth in that he's wearing bones and spikes and skulls and other voodoo shaman looking shit.
  
  Still, my first plan may have failed, but that's what contingencies are for.
  
  From out of a hidden pocket that I actually had to sew into the costume myself come a folded piece of fabric that I rapidly extend and hold over my head.
  
  In bright tie-dye colours are the words 'Make love not war!' framed by peace symbols.
  
  "Why must we fight? can't we all just be friends?" I say, ignoring the fact that I struck first.
  
  Without breaking his stride, he grunts out a response.
  
  "I'm going to rip your head off and fuck the neck hole." He threatens.
  
  Well then.
  
  ... That's certainly something.
  
  Dropping my banner, I hold up one of my hands in a hold gesture, one that he blatantly ignores.
  
  "That's a lot to unpack." Is my deadpan response.
  
  "It's going to be a lot to unload." He quickly responds and I can't help the undignified snort that leaves me.
  
  "Haha, ok, that was a good one." I laugh, nodding my head in approval.
  
  It really was a good one, if kind of gross to picture, if only since it's my decapitated head.
  
  By now, he was close enough that the time for witty pre fight banter is about over, but that fits perfectly into my third plan.
  
  I'm sure it will work this time.
  
  In another rapid movement, I reach into another pocket, only this time I throw my hand forward in the same movement, sending a cloud of glitter towards my foe.
  
  "Glitter bomb bitc-"
  
  My triumphant cry is interrupted as Butcher disappears and reappears behind me, throwing me forward with a 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘨 like a grenade going off.
  
  The heat washes over me to little effect and I roll with the momentum to get back to my feet, silently thanking whoever designed my clothes to be fire resistant.
  
  Though not immune, I realise as I quickly pat out the burning edges of my shirt.
  
  "Welp. I guess it's time we started beating the shit out of each other now huh?" I state with a smile.
  
  Normally it would be the time I started trying to kill him, but well... we all know how that would end and I like my head without voices thank you very much.
  
  Wait...
  
  I like my head without any 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 voices. Then again, it has been a while since I've had a schizophrenia moment.
  
  Not to mention, I'm not even supposed to fight him to a victory or defeat. I only need to stall long enough for Uppercrusts men to get clear and for the protectorate to arrive so that they can deal with him instead of me.
  
  Doesn't mean I'm going to make it easy for him though.
  
  In a burst of speed, I rush forward to engage the Butcher, only to suddenly feel an intense 𝘢𝘨𝘰𝘯𝘺 wrack my body.
  
  It only makes me stumble a single step before I am back to moving as if nothing happened.
  
  Now don't be mistaken, it hurts like hell. Almost as bad as everything Jason did to me, but by now pain isn't something that really concerns me.
  
  If anything, it just adds a certain.. 𝘧𝘭𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘶𝘳~ to the battle that only makes my smile wider.
  
  I lead with a right to his sternum that he counters perfectly, knocking my blow wide but I use the momentum to spin around, landing a roundhouse kick right into his ribs.
  
  He only grunts from the impact, taking a single step back before he responds with a flurry of punches that I weave between, keeping my feet fast and light so that he can't land a single blow.
  
  He may be stronger and more durable, but I am certainly faster and more flexible, something I use to my advantage to the best of my ability.
  
  Suddenly I see an opening, but some instinct warns me not to take it, so I don't and the next instant he stumbles, if only for a tenth of a second. But that is enough for me to take advantage of and my fist finds itself embedded right in his chest, knocking the wind out of him.
  
  However he apparently doesn't much care for the ability to breathe as he ignores the impact from my punch and retaliates by grabbing my still extended arm with one hand and punching me in the face with the other.
  
  Once. Twice. Three times before he swings my whole body by the arm and slams me to the ground.
  
  Before I land, I twist my entire body, dislocating my shoulder as I do so, and manage to land a solid kick right in his face, making him stumble back and lose his grip on me.
  
  Dust kicks up around me as I roll over the ground a few times before coming to a stop.
  
  I think there's something to be said about the science of fighting and, more importantly, I feel like I've finally been able to understand that science recently.
  
  I won't go so far as to say I'm a master martial artist or anything, but I'm pretty good at the whole fighting thing by now, and one thing I can tell from our brief exchange is that he is no slouch either.
  
  It shouldn't be surprising, since he has thirteen sets of memories, each experiencing plenty of fights themselves.
  
  The only thing that I think really evens things out skill wise, is that he is constantly being distracted by the voices in his head, lowering his skill level enough to match my own.
  
  Ah well. The introduction is done with, not it's time for the fight to start for real.
  
  Evidently he agrees as he pulls out a pair of daggers, if daggers were the size of a short sword.
  
  In response to him arming himself I allow my original, and favourite, construct to push itself out from my back and hover menacingly behind me.
  
  My ribbons hardly look anything like they used to. For one, the colours are simply much more vibrant and the ribbons themselves are visibly denser, looking as though they have been compressed many times over.
  
  Then, to add to the changes, they now each have small, barely noticeable, inverted spikes running along their lengths, giving them better grip and allowing them to tear through flesh with ease. They also each end in a sharpened point, like a spear tip.
  
  My foe disappears but I was expecting it and two of my ribbons dig into the ground either side of me.
  
  When the explosion washes over me, it only manages to push me slightly, rather than sending me flying, yet I still have to rush to lift myself into the air as Butcher's blades slice through where I was a moment ago.
  
  As he is still recovering from his swing, I make my ribbons bring me crashing right back down, aiming to crush his skull into the ground.
  
  He disappears again and an explosion appears above me, sending me into the ground faster than I was anticipating, leaving me unable to land properly, crashing right into the tarmac.
  
  Before I even have a moment to gather my bearings, another force impacts me as Butcher lands on my back, planting his feet in the middle of where my ribbons are emerging from and driving both of his blades through one of my lungs each.
  
  Like a flower blooming in reverse, my ribbons rapidly coil around Butcher, attempting to crush him.
  
  Right as I start to feel his bones creaking from the force, he is no longer there and another explosion sends me rolling across the ground, momentum that I use to spring back to my feet.
  
  I can't beat him in a contest of strength. I can't use my speed to catch him by surprise and even if I manage to trap him, he can teleport away at any moment.
  
  By all accounts, there is very little chance I can even hope to win.
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘯~ 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨~
  
  My body tingles with energy and 𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 and an overwhelming desire to do 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 to alleviate the feeling overcomes me for a brief moment before I manage to gather myself.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬.
  
  𝘈𝘩𝘩𝘩~
  
  That's better, now I can focus.
  
  Butcher disappears again, but this time I manage to catch him on his arrival by simple striking out in every direction with my ribbons and the moment I catch sight of him, I leap forward.
  
  I throw a punch to his face and he catches it, pulling my arm to the side just as I was hoping he would.
  
  Our eyes lock for only an instant before his snap towards my arm and he suddenly leans his head to the side, dodging the sharp blade of deep purple blood-metal that extends out from the back of my elbow.
  
  Once again, he throws me away, hard enough that my back cracks the wall of a building on the side of the street, almost shattering it entirely.
  
  Right. He can see my blood. He must have seen it flowing there early.
  
  Fuck. He can 𝘴𝘦𝘦 my 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥.
  
  Well then, I guess I'd better up the ante a little then.
  
  Instead of dissipating the blade, I pull from the highest 'source' and just like with my ribbons blood like muscle flows out of my back, wrapping around my shoulders and making its way down my arms.
  
  Unlike the violet of my ribbons however, the arms that form are a purple so dark that the resemble black, looking to be made of obsidian.
  
  A moment later and my arms have been covered in a thick, muscular armour ending in wicked claws and with a long, sharp blade sticking out the backs of the elbows.
  
  Bending my neck side to side, I resist a shiver at the pleasurable feeling of my neck popping back into place.
  
  "Up for round two?~ Or can you only last a single round?~" I taunt, my ribbons spreading out invitingly around me.
  
  Suddenly, my field of vision is filled with flame and two of my ribbons dig into the ground behind me to counter the force trying to push me backwards, leaving me with the sight of an angry Butcher right in front of my face.
  
  My ribbons launch me over him like a slingshot and I land right in the middle of the street, where our fight started, just in time for Butcher to appear in front of me once again.
  
  Heh.
  
  His blades were already in motion to slash me before he even arrived and the world seems to slow down as his blades approach me, but I ignore them in favour of staring Butcher right in the eyes and I feel an exhilarating sensation when I notice his eyes widen.
  
  But he has already committed to his attack and he has no time to change or react as a blood red spear launches itself out of the ground right behind him and into his back, piercing halfway through.
  
  The surprise attack makes him falter in his own and I quickly parry away both of his arms with my own and counter attack by piercing his shoulder with my left hands claws while my right arm bends and swings, allowing the elbow blade to cut a deep gash into his leg.
  
  Before I can push the advantage, he is no longer there and I turn to face the direction of the explosion, smirking at the sight that greets me.
  
  The Butcher, standing among his Teeth, bleeding and battered, even if he doesn't seem bothered by the pain and the wounds are already healing. It still means something that he ended up like this in the first place.
  
  But before I even get the chance to gloat, we are interrupted by the sound of roaring engines as a number of vehicles pull around the corner, each clearly emblazoned with the PRT logo and one car ahead of the rest rapidly drifts to a stop, alighting a pair of young woman in costumes.
  
  As if it wasn't obvious already, I hear a ping come from one of my pockets, Hideout's way of telling me that I don't need to hang around anymore.
  
  The Protectorate has arrived.
  
  Still, I can't help but pout a little.
  
  It was just getting interesting too.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I am legitimately unsure of how long I have been awake as of right now. My flatmate has left for work twice in the time I have been awake and she only leaves for work at about half six in the morning. So it's been at least 24 hours, but I think I'm closer to 36 at this point.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  58 Party Poopers
  Of the two of them, the only one I recognise is Prism.
  
  A somewhat new member of the Protectorate, graduating from the Wards program just last year and the only reason I know anything about her is that she is one of the capes that Legend himself has taken under his wing as quasi protégé.
  
  You can see it in the way she walks. The calm assurance that she will be fine no matter what happens. Clearly she is being groomed for some kind of leadership position.
  
  He must clearly already trust her a great deal to be willing to send her after the Butcher with only on cape as immediate backup.
  
  It's not like he can go himself after all. No one wants to risk a member of the Triumvirate becoming the next Butcher.
  
  Well, personally I think it'd be quite funny, but I don't think that's a particularly popular opinion.
  
  The street enters a strange sort of three way stand off that really looks like the start to a bad joke.
  
  On one side there's me, a Clown dressed up as a bloodstained prisoner with tentacles coming out of my back and large clawed hands, then opposite me stands a gaggle of men and women dressed in leathers decorated by bones and desiccated heads with other such paraphernalia, one of whom is bleeding rather severely.
  
  Lastly is a pair of young women, making the stand off turn into a triangle.
  
  They are dressed in resplendent, skin-tight and colourful costumes that show off their muscled bodies, Prism more than the other woman, and managing to do so without even seeming sexualised.
  
  Prism and whoever the other person is, hideout probably told me but I kind of tuned out most of the things she said, both face us, eyes flitting between me and Butcher as if they aren't sure who to go after.
  
  "Welp!" I shout while clapping my hands together, drawing everyone's attention to me as I lift one of my hands, pointing a thumb over my shoulder.
  
  "I've got places to be~ so I'll be the first to leave.~ Pleasure meeting you, bye!~" I quickly explain, my constructs dissolving and returning to their 'sources' and I spin around and just start casually walking away before a sudden shout makes me pause mid-step.
  
  "Stop! You can't just leave! You have committed several crimes, including but not limited to murder! You will come with us peacefully or I will have to use force!"
  
  With deliberate slowness, I twist my torso around slightly so I can look behind me at the one who just spoke, finding it to be the hero I don't care to know the name of.
  
  Without responding, I share a brief glance with Butcher and see that he is just as amused by her outburst as I am.
  
  Clearly she doesn't really understand the situation here.
  
  Butcher is stronger than both of them put together and I can fight him to a standstill, without even going all out, yet she seems to think that she has the upper hand here?
  
  Heh, that's actually pretty funny.
  
  "Well~ if you really want me to stay?~" I say leadingly before turning back to Butcher before she can respond. "Say, I'd be willing to put our differences aside for a moment if these heroes really want the numbers to be even~ what do you say?~"
  
  My innocent question has the result I expected it to as Prism quickly pulls her teammate back a step to shut her up and speaks up herself.
  
  "We are only here in response to a call about the Butcher showing up. That is our primary goal, no one else need get involved unnecessarily."
  
  Despite the professional tone, I can 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 her unease at the thought of having to deal with us both at the same time.
  
  No doubt she already understands that even without me here, she isn't going to capture the Butcher. That just wasn't in the cards in the first place.
  
  With what I know of the PRT, she is probably just here to show the public that the heroes are actually doing something and maybe in the hopes of weakening the Teeth by taking in the other capes and normals.
  
  Either way, Uppercrust doesn't want me fighting when I don't have to, so it's none of my business really.
  
  With that in mind, I simply shrug my shoulders and continue walking, as if I was never interrupted.
  
  A moment later and I hear the sounds of battle from behind me, but I don't bother to watch.
  
  I've already fought the Butcher and I doubt watching them do the same will be nearly as entertaining.
  
  A short walk later and suddenly I can hear the sound of a car starting, despite the empty street.
  
  Following the sound, I keep walking until a black Porsche suddenly appears before my eyes as I pass through Hideout's power field and I don't hesitate to open the passenger side door and let myself inside.
  
  I've never been much of a car person, but it doesn't take a genius to know that this is a nice car. Probably her personal car too.
  
  Neither of us say anything for a while as she focuses on driving and I simply lean back and reminisce on my most recent fight.
  
  Multiple things stand out to me about it, beyond the simple enjoyment gained, and 𝘣𝘰𝘺 was there enjoyment gained.
  
  For one, I have really gotten a knack for this whole fighting thing. It feels natural to me now, even though I'm still relatively new.
  
  It's like I was born to fight. To hunt.
  
  Like I'm a predator finally coming into my instincts.
  
  Though I can't deny that I got a little lucky there at the end.
  
  It was only a couple days ago that I realised that I could actually detach my extra appendages. Not only that, but I also keep some level of control over them, even if they are not connected to me.
  
  I've been experimenting with it and while I won't be making any long term items, I 𝘤𝘢𝘯 at least leave some clusters of whatever material is in the sacs in my back around as a kind of trap.
  
  Something that Butcher experienced personally.
  
  That is where the luck comes in though.
  
  The Butcher can see arteries and hearts and stuff. Plus the start of our fight shows that he can see my 'source' travelling through my body, which means that it was only by chance that he didn't see the trap before it could spring.
  
  Of course, crediting everything to luck would be a mistake as there was plenty of planning that went into it.
  
  Like my little display at the start that served to make him let his guard down, enough that while the glitter bomb was in the air he never noticed me preparing the trap.
  
  It's a shame that we couldn't finish our fight, because while I know it seemed that I was the victor, I'm pretty sure he has another trick or two up his sleeve that might have been able to turn the tables.
  
  Not to mention, next time he won't be underestimating me, and there will be a next time, make no doubt about that.
  
  My contract lasts until he leaves the city after all, so we'll probably fight a few times in the coming month.
  
  I'm looking forward to it.
  
  "Are you ok?"
  
  The words startle me out of my thoughts and I turn slightly to give Hideout a glance, even as she keeps her eyes on the road.
  
  A smile blooms on my face and I make sure to do my best to sound like a schoolgirl in love when I respond.
  
  "D'aww, so you 𝘥𝘰 care?~" I coo at her.
  
  The only sign of her annoyance is the slightest twitch of her brow and tightening of her hold on the steering wheel.
  
  Only after taking a deep breath does she respond, her voice tight and controlled.
  
  "You had two swords digging a hole straight through you. I just need to make sure that you don't need medical attention."
  
  I nod sagely at her words.
  
  "Indeed, they got me good. But you should have seen the other guy.~" I jest, getting no more than a short exhale of breath to show for her amusement.
  
  The rest of the drive was done mostly in silence, with the occasional small conversation sprouting, all the while I was wondering what the others are getting up to now that I'm not with them.
  
  Hopefully they're having fun at least.
  
  ...
  
  Jinx has one single opinion on what he is and has been doing for the past week or so.
  
  This sucks. Why did I ever let Tear convince me that this was a good idea?
  
  Anyone who claims it was actually my idea is lying and will be shot.
  
  At least James isn't making things difficult. In fact he's actually making things a whole hell of a lot easier, for which I am grateful.
  
  But who ever said starting a drug empire would be easy?
  
  It's still kind of weird to be working with a literal child though. Then again, misfortune does not discriminate, and he has been doing well enough anyway.
  
  It hasn't been long since Tear left for greener pastures, something I knew she would do. Both because that's just the kind of person she is and also because there's no chance that when I finally manage to make a friend that they would actually stick around.
  
  No, I couldn't be that lucky.
  
  But even then, I'd say things are looking up for me, even if I keep spending a lot of time worrying about when the other shoe is going to drop and everything is suddenly going to go to shit once again.
  
  Still, with the drugs that the kid has been making, I've been making steady progress in bringing together the scraps of the gangs left over from Tear's grand opening.
  
  Some people have started calling it the twenty minute war, since it's rare for so many parahumans to fight each other at the same time.
  
  But things are working out rather well all in all.
  
  I'm already in the process of recruiting some capes for James while also putting out feelers for the more difficult to recruit capes, to see if any of them might be wanting a fresh start with us.
  
  All in all, I'd give it a month or two before we are distributing drugs across the entire city and by that point the amount of money we will be making will be substantial to say the least.
  
  The only problem I can really see is Cu Chulainn, who has become something of an independent villain, claiming a small plot of land and fighting anyone who tries to intrude on it.
  
  It really seems as though he simply wants to be left alone, something I am more than happy to respect as I have a rather strong desire to not be folded like wet paper.
  
  After finishing yet another boring day of phone calls and managing, I decide to give the kid a visit. Make sure he's actually eating instead of just spending all his time in his 'lab'.
  
  I suppose it's a Tinker thing, to get so lost in their work that they neglect the needs of their bodies.
  
  I'm pretty sure there's a term for it, like a Tinker fugue or something.
  
  These idle thoughts leave my mind as I enter James' lab and am quickly faced with a sight that is probably only a step or two down from what it's like to watch Bonesaw work.
  
  In the middle of the room, on an operation table that is low to the ground, is a man who is convulsing wildly inside his restraints while a cacophony of sounds play around him.
  
  At the same time, there is James, standing over the man with a variety of tools by his side.
  
  He injects the man with clinical precision and I watch with a morbid sense of fascination as the man's skin slowly starts to turn inside out.
  
  You know what? Never mind.
  
  I'm sure he's got things handled by himself.
  
  I'll just go get back to work.
  
  Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  I still haven't slept since after I wrote chap 55. In other words, by my count I have been awake for about 43 hours.
  
  So.. wooo, I guess?
  
  It's definitely a new personal record, but it's going to have to come to an end as I am about to collapse. I'm pretty sure I'm going to sleep for like, 13 hours at least.
  
  I'll time it and update you next chapter :)
  
  Edit: Was just looking through this and realised that I missed an opportunity right at the start for a skyrim meme. "Stop! You have violated the law!"
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  59 Interlude: Clara Williams
  "-with that all being said our profit margin 𝘩𝘢𝘴 taken a hit, but we knew that would happen anyway and I am happy to say that our losses are actually barely one tenth what we expected them to be."
  
  Satisfied murmurs spread throughout the conference room at the unexpectedly positive news, from everyone except for a certain someone who continues to stare into space, a lot on their mind.
  
  "Good." Begins a stern, authoritative voice, "now, I believe that is the perfect segue to the next item on our list. Hideout-"
  
  I startle at my name suddenly being called and snap my head to face Uppercrust, a faintly reproachful but sympathetic look in his eye.
  
  Before I can even stumble over my words in a poor attempt of pretending I was actually paying attention, he continues what he was saying uninterrupted, no one else bothering to point out my inattentiveness.
  
  "How is our guest settling in?" He asks and all of a sudden the attention of everyone in the room is on me.
  
  I nervously swallow, not comfortable with having just about everyone more important and more powerful than me hanging off my every word.
  
  Oh god, why did I have to get this job?
  
  Oh right, because no one else wanted it and I'm not yet important enough to have turned it down.
  
  Damnit.
  
  Doing my very best to keep my voice level, I start to recite the report that I have all but memorised.
  
  "She's doing well. Tear has also kept to the rules from what I can tell. She hasn't gotten into any fights that weren't expected of her and hasn't severely injured any Heroes or civilians. She has also limited her, erm, 𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 to known criminals, only targeting rapists, murderers and other such people, while ensuring that there is no evidence of her involvement. In fact she's done it well enough that if not for the fact that we already know that she's been, er, 𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨, I would have never known that she's done anything."
  
  The rooms jubilant mood takes a swan dive at the grim reminder of the nature of our hired help, but no one says anything about it.
  
  After all, what can anyone say that hasn't already been said? That she's a monster? That it's reprehensible?
  
  While all these are certainly true, Tear has been open with us about the fact that she simply cannot eat anything else, that she literally doesn't have a choice in the matter.
  
  It's like those monster capes, only somehow even worse.
  
  Because at least they can still say that they are human on the inside.
  
  Tear? She's a monster through and through, and she never even had a choice.
  
  Just a bad roll of the dice.
  
  That's made the opinions on her rather split, between people saying she's a monster that we shouldn't be associating with and the others who simply pity her, conscious of the fact that the only reason our very own powers aren't forcing the same curse on us is simply a matter of luck.
  
  Choosing not to comment on the uncomfortable topic of forced cannibalism, Uppercrust moves the conversation forward once more.
  
  "And her accommodations? How is she taking to them?"
  
  𝘈𝘩.
  
  "About that." I hesitantly start, my tone somehow making everyone focus on my words even harder.
  
  See, we gave Tear a flat to stay in during her tenure here with us which in and of itself, is nothing special.
  
  The only problem is that all of our 'guest' homes are bugged to hell and back, both for audio and video.
  
  Now normally this would actually be a good thing, since it lets us keep track of people.
  
  Unfortunately...
  
  "She found all the bugs."
  
  The room stills as I drop that bombshell and I notice a couple of people nervously clasp their hands, no doubt worrying that they might have annoyed the super powerful psycho cannibal.
  
  To be honest, I'm not really sure whether or not the truth of the matter is actually a better outcome or not.
  
  "And her response to this was..?" Someone asks, but I don't respond right away.
  
  I feel a faint heat start to crawl up my face and open my mouth a few times, trying to find the right words to explain the situation.
  
  Then I notice the increasingly uncomfortable or annoyed looks of those around me and decide to try and just rip the band-aid off.
  
  "She uhm. She gathered all the cameras and mics and she uh, she put them.." I pause slightly, trying and failing to fight my blush as memories I would rather forget surface in my mind, but with a deep breath, I eventually manage to rush out my words, "she put them all in the washroom. The shower specifically."
  
  Nobody says anything and for some reason my stupid brain takes that as an invitation to keep talking.
  
  "The shower that she 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘴." I say with emphasis, but at this point I'm too lost in my head to leave things to ambiguity. "That she uses 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘺. From multiple angles."
  
  The silence of the room rapidly makes a transition from contemplative to awkward as they comprehend my words.
  
  But yet again, my brain decides to just keep talking.
  
  "She talks to the microphones." I add, furthering the awkwardness. "She's certainly not shy." Ohmygod can I just shut up for one second!?
  
  Heedless of the serious image that we are supposed to be maintaining, I bury my face in my hands, not just from embarrassment but also just so that I stop talking.
  
  Huuu, I'm never going to live this down.
  
  But seriously, what is wrong with that girl!?
  
  Who does 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, knowing that people are watching!?
  
  Ugh, the memories are burned into my brain.
  
  "𝘈𝘩𝘦𝘮. That aside, has she done anything that would indicate maliciousness or otherwise unfavourable behaviour?" Uppercrusts voice brings me back to the room and I quickly shake my head clear of distracting thoughts.
  
  "Uh, no. I mean. No Sir. She is a little unpredictable when she fights but I think that it is, somewhat ironically, the Butchers presence that is keeping her from doing anything extreme, since she seems to be more focused on when he will make another appearance than any of her other fights."
  
  Left unsaid is what will happen when the Butcher 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 show himself again, which will be sooner rather than later in all likelihood, seeing as it's nearly been a week since he first showed himself and got pushed back.
  
  "Do we know what she is doing right now?" Someone else asks and I almost sigh at the question, answering blandly.
  
  "She's probably playing solitaire." Since it looked like he wasn't going to be satisfied with that, I continue before he can ask me to. "She spends about seven to nine hours every day listening to music and playing solitaire."
  
  Now 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, more than anything else somehow manages to cause the most eyebrows to rise, which makes me sigh in defeat.
  
  As the person responsible for Tear, it is incredibly tedious for me to keep watch of her and I decide that I might as well explain what her schedule looks like while the topic is relevant.
  
  "To my knowledge, she gets up early every morning and trains for a couple of hours before shitposting on PHO until she gets banned, which usually only takes about half an hour, then she disappears for a couple of hours and comes back with a bag of uh, 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘥. After that, if nothing comes up she just plays solitaire, or occasionally some minesweeper, until it's late and she finishes her day with some more training before going to sleep and repeating it all again."
  
  It was somewhat startling to realise just how 𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘭 she is, for a given definition of normal.
  
  With my part finally over, the rest of the meeting proceeds normally, but I barely pay any attention to it, only enough that I won't miss anything important.
  
  By the time the meeting ends, I am glad for it to finally be over and I allow myself to finally get lost in my own thoughts as I walk back to my car to head back to where my comfy bed is waiting for me.
  
  As I drive, I find my thoughts drifting back to Tear, something that has become increasingly common as the days go by, and how our relationship has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time.
  
  When we first met I was, quite frankly, terrified.
  
  We'd all already been given a brief on her known capabilities as well as what she had done up till that point and to be blunt, there was little I wanted more than to simply have nothing to do with her.
  
  But orders are orders, so I pushed down my fear and did my job.
  
  Then she actually 𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 and at first all was well, for about ten seconds before she suddenly started staring 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺 𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘴, despite my power being active and I felt all of my newfound confidence dissipate into air.
  
  I felt like the wight of the world was holding me in place, like those crimson orbs of hers were looking straight into my soul, like the eyes of the Devil.
  
  For a moment, I'd stopped breathing.
  
  I thought that I was dead.
  
  It was such a simple thing, almost relieving in a morbid sense.
  
  Because as I looked into her eyes, I realised that to her? I was nothing.
  
  She was a predator and I was the prey. I knew in that moment, that should she want to kill me, there would be absolutely nothing I could do to stop her.
  
  It was the single most terrifying experience of my life.
  
  Yet I live, and Tear is thankfully a lot less homicidal than I originally thought.
  
  It didn't take long before I was treating her more like a friend than someone who's going to kill me.
  
  She is surprisingly magnetic, like she has a charisma that she herself doesn't even seem to notice.
  
  I'm not sure what it is exactly. Maye it's her simple zest for life?
  
  She always seems to be enjoying herself and she makes sure to try and let the people around her find that same kind of enjoyment.
  
  It makes it very easy to lower your guard around her and treat her as if she's a friend.
  
  That's not to say she doesn't still scare the shit out of me, but it's just not for the same reason anymore.
  
  Now, what scares me is that I don't think she really sees people as 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦.
  
  It's like she's one step ahead of us on the food chain and she's only entertaining us because she thinks we're cute or something.
  
  To put it simply, it's like she sees us the same way we would see a pet.
  
  I don't really like the idea of being seen as a pet, but it certainly beats being seen as food.
  
  Almost without realising it, I have made it to where I am staying currently, a flat in the same building as Tear. The flat opposite hers for that matter, to better help me watch over her.
  
  Part of me thinks that someone just wants to kill me and is going about it in a really roundabout way.
  
  Mindlessly, I put the key in the keyhole and twist, granting myself entry to the temporary accommodations.
  
  I drop the keys in a pot as I walk past, towards the kitchen where I try to make myself some tea, only to notice something odd.
  
  A brief look around shows that there are many things that are not where I left them and while that would normally put me on edge now it merely makes me feel exasperation.
  
  Shaking my head, I make my way over to my bedroom and to my none existent surprise, I find it to be already occupied with Tears lone head sticking out from under the covers.
  
  I don't so much as blink at her lack of a mask, having known her face since her first day here.
  
  She has taken to breaking into my flat instead of staying in her own, something I neglected to mention during the meeting, mostly out of embarrassment.
  
  "Tear," I sigh, getting her attention, "how many times do I have to tell you. You have your own bed, stop using mine."
  
  Her blood red eyes stare into my own, alight with amusement and I feel an involuntary shiver go down my spine, forcing me to be the one to look away first.
  
  "And how many times do I have to tell 𝘺𝘰𝘶, that you can call me Lusia, or just Lucy?~" She practically purrs, her voice taking on a sensual, seductive quality that has me studying the floor intently.
  
  "Will you just get out of my bed? Please?" I ask, trying not to sound like I'm begging.
  
  "Sure.~" She says, and in my surprise at her compliance, I make the mistake of looking back up at her.
  
  I am greeted with the sight of Lusia slowly lifting herself up, my covers falling down her chest with agonising slowness, first showing her smooth, pale shoulders before falling down completely to reveal her whole upper body, completely in the nude.
  
  I catch myself staring, entranced by her smooth, unblemished body for a moment before snapping back to reality and turning to face the ceiling, ignoring the slight weakness I start to feel in my knees.
  
  Without bothering to put on any clothes, she walks up to me, completely nude, until she is standing not a hairs breadth away from me.
  
  She is taller than me, by about half a foot. It's not much but it's enough that she has to lean forward before her lips can reach my ear.
  
  "But do you 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 want me to go?~" She whispers, barely loud enough for me to hear and my knees almost give out as I remain rooted in my spot, her words making me unable to move. "Or would you rather.."
  
  Her hand reaches around me to land on my ass and she pulls us closer together in a sudden movement.
  
  With my breathing as heavy as it is, I almost miss her words entirely as she finishes her sentence.
  
  "..I stay?~" Her hand travels up my back, a single finger tracing my spine all the way up until it reaches my bra strap.
  
  Legs shaking and voice quivering, I try my best to reject the feelings blooming in my chest.
  
  "I'm s-straight." My protest sounds weak even to me.
  
  She moves her head back slightly so that she can put her face right in front of mine and she takes to large steps forward, forcing me to go back with hem until I feel my back hit the wall and another jolt of pure 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 pulses through my body.
  
  Her lips ghost over mine for a moment and I find myself leaning towards then, even as she pulls away.
  
  "So is spaghetti.~" She says as I pull my head back, my blush taking over my entire head.
  
  Her other hand moves lower this time, starting on my stomach and moving 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯.
  
  "𝘜𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘭 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 wet.~" Her whisper, as well as everything else is too much for me and my knees buckle completely, causing me to fall forward, where she quickly catches me.
  
  I feel myself get lifted and the next thing I know I am on the bed, lying on my back with Lusia above me.
  
  Her eyes look deep into mine and I see that same predatory glint and just the same as when I first saw them, they terrify me.
  
  Only now I cannot deny that fear isn't the only thing they make me feel.
  
  Her body leans over mine, pinning me to the bed and I feel my heartrate quicken, from fear or excitement I couldn't say.
  
  "Now,~" she purrs at me, moving her face right in front of my own, "what is my name?~"
  
  A whimper escapes my throat, but I am too lost in the moment to even feel embarrassed about it.
  
  Instead, I look back at her and I answer in a moan.
  
  "Lucy.~"
  
  A devilish smile that causes conflicting feelings inside of me grows on her face as her lips finally capture my own, her fingers drifting deeper, and 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘳.
  
  "𝘎𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘨𝘪𝘳𝘭."
  
  A soft mewling sound escapes my throat and I swiftly lose all coherent thought as I am drawn into her gravity, lost in her eyes and overwhelmed by her 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  So! This kind of came out of nowhere. Didn't see it coming. Literally, Hideout was gonna be uppercrusts daughter and there was gonna be this whole thing of him trying not to give preferential treatment but doing so anyway (I was basing it of the green guys in John Carter)
  
  But I guess that's prolly not going to happen anymore lol.
  
  ALSO ALSO! Keep in mind that if ya want smut, you're gonna have to bribe me (I really want someone to bribe me(Cuz it means I get more money(and I'm broke)))
  
  Also Also Also, I ended up sleeping for 14 hours before forcing myself to get up, only to go back to sleep about 12 hours later for another 13 hours, so everything is more or less evened out now :D
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  60 Butcher XIII 2 Electric Boogaloo
  It was a little over a week after my fight with the Butcher before I got the opportunity to see him again.
  
  In the mean time I've only been in a couple of fights, twice against the heroes, which was boring as hell since they couldn't hurt me and I wasn't allowed to hurt them.
  
  Though I did get to meet that woman who was with Prism again. Turns out she's called Astrologer and she basically calls down meteorites from the sky which are pretty easy to dodge, not that the damage they cause when they land is really too debilitating for me.
  
  The only other fight I've been in was one against the Adepts, who are a bunch of losers that think powers are actually magic and that they should chant and do rituals and shit.
  
  Naturally, I showed them plenty of 'magic' tricks, though I don't think they properly appreciated them.
  
  As a side note, one of the Adepts that I fought ended up leaving the gang and moving city.
  
  I won't even pretend to not be proud of that fact.
  
  In fact, I ended up celebrating the achievement with a few Adept mooks. Not that they seemed to enjoy the celebrations as much as me.
  
  All in all, it's been a fun week.
  
  But none of it was as fun as fighting with the Butcher.
  
  Which is why I was glad when Clara came and told me that Uppercrust wants me to go cause a commotion at a certain place in Teeth territory so as to distract the Butcher.
  
  I don't know what the Elite are going to be using the distraction for and frankly I don't really care, something that I'm pretty sure Uppercrust likes about me.
  
  I don't ask questions.
  
  Not that I need to anyway, Clara likes to complain about her workload when we're cuddling after another of our 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 nights.
  
  Speaking of Clara, I have never in my life met a bigger sub than that woman.
  
  Seriously, when I glare at people it usually makes them want to run away and hide, for Clara it makes her knees weak for a whole other reason.
  
  Though I can't deny that it is incredibly fun to be with her, especially since if she ever annoys me then it usually leads to a steamy few hours where I work out any and all frustrations I have on her.
  
  But whatever entertainment she offers, it still doesn't match up to the Butcher.
  
  Which is why I get annoyed when Clara holds me back as I am stepping out of her car where I am supposed to cause a commotion.
  
  "Be careful. He won't be holding back this time." She says with genuine concern while holding onto my sleeve as I am one foot outside of the car.
  
  Half turning around, I lazily glare at her, causing her to blush and look down.
  
  "So?" Is my cold response as I shaker her hand off and as I step out of the car fully, I can't help but wrinkle my nose slightly at the 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘳 scent.
  
  I quickly glance back to Clara, looking down for a moment and seeing the slight dampness that I expected.
  
  Too easy, I sigh to myself as I close the door behind me.
  
  I'm probably going to get bored of her soon enough. There's just no challenge with her.
  
  Good thing I'm not planning on staying in the city for long anyway, and the sex is good at least, so I guess I'll just keep her 'till I leave.
  
  Who knows, maybe she could even be a nice little source of inside information.
  
  It's always good to have contacts after all.
  
  Ah well, enough of that. It's time to earn my money.
  
  With that in mind I look around, noting the area to be a semi abandoned but relatively well maintained industrial district, with warehouses and factories as far as the eye can see.
  
  The mega structures of New York are barely visible in the distance over the top of the wide buildings around me.
  
  I assume that the Teeth have some kind of operation set up around here somewhere, otherwise Uppercrust wouldn't put me here to be a distraction.
  
  Though, I also assume that whatever operation it is isn't right here, since I get the feeling that he doesn't actually want me to kill anyone, just to be close enough that Butcher has no choice but to show.
  
  Then again, maybe his people are going to be robbing some place nearby while we fight.
  
  But that all circles back to a previous point, that I just don't really care about any of that.
  
  So with a sigh, I decide that I might as well get started.
  
  In a burst of sparks and blood, a pair of orange-red wings of liquid like energy explode out of my back, growing until they are both larger than my body.
  
  I take a moment to simply admire them as the crack and sparkle quietly behind me.
  
  A simple thought has one of the wings wrapping around me so that I can reach forward and lay a hand on it.
  
  Closing my eyes, I focus on my wings and I think about 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘵 and 𝘧𝘭𝘢𝘮𝘦 and gradually I start to feel my wings becoming hotter.
  
  This is something else I've discovered. I can heat up my extra appendages.
  
  Unfortunately, I can only make them hot to the touch, not hot enough to set anything on fire, nor can I actually cause them to alight with flame.
  
  Today proves to be no different as my wings only get about as hot as scalding water, not enough for my purposes.
  
  But that's fine. I was prepared for it anyway.
  
  From one of my pockets comes a water balloon and I rear back and throw it at one of the buildings around me, splashing the entire front wall and covering it with the balloons contents.
  
  Then I raise one of my wings and take aim.
  
  The next moment, with a crack and a thoom, a blur shoots out of my wing and digs itself into the building, revealing the blur to be a long, bone white spike, crackling with electricity that catches the liquid on the wall and causes the wall to light up in flames.
  
  Gasoline based water balloons, though really there's no point in calling it a water balloon anymore.
  
  That done, I take out another gasoline balloon and move on to the next building over and repeat the process.
  
  Now, we wait.
  
  By the time nearly a dozen buildings are on fire I have already ran out of balloons and am just shooting bone spikes at anything that's not already on fire, Butcher 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 arrives.
  
  I hear the familiar explosion before I see him and am already prepared for him when another explosion sounds off, this one much closer as the Butcher appears in a ball of flame not twenty feet away from me.
  
  𝘔𝘢𝘯, that looks cool.
  
  "Yohoh!~" I greet with a wave, "you're finally here!~ I was really starting to think you wouldn't show up y'know?~ You really shouldn't leave a lady waiting like this~ you'll never get married otherwise.~"
  
  His face twitches at my cheerfulness and he clenches his fist for a second before relaxing them and sighing.
  
  "Four and six want you to know that they like you." He sounds almost defeated and smacks the side of his head with his palm while I process that revelation.
  
  Rather quickly, a bright smile grows on my face and I hug my body and start twisting around as I respond, doing my best impersonation of Clara.
  
  "Awww~ well I like you too!~" I admit assuredly, and it's not even a lie.
  
  "Yeah well, they also want you to kill me, so you can be the next Butcher, so naturally I'm going to have to kill you, if only to get them to shut the fuck up!" He ends his statement with a pointed shout that I'm pretty certain was directed to the voices in his head.
  
  Haaah, it must be nice to always have company.
  
  Unfortunately for Four and Six, I don't really want thirteen people in my head.
  
  One or two? That's fine, I could deal with that. But thirteen?
  
  I wouldn't be able to hear my own thoughts over all that noise.
  
  Solitaire would be ruined for me, since it's something to be enjoyed in silence or with music.
  
  But back to the conversation at hand.
  
  "Don't worry hun~ that's exactly what I like about you.~" I confess with a wink while blowing a kiss forward.
  
  The way his face twitches makes me think that the other Butchers had a lot to say about my response, but apparently Thirteen decides that the tome for conversation is over.
  
  He disappears from in front of me and I don't hesitate to bring out my ribbons, launching them out of my back in a fan shape right as an explosion sounds out behind me.
  
  I feel my ribbons brush against something and turn around to face him, only to see nothing and have another explosion go of right next to me.
  
  Before I even get the chance to stumble away, a hand reaches out and grabs ahold of my arm and pulls me against the force of the explosion.
  
  I see the blade coming for my throat as soon as the flames start to dissipate and I raise my legs and twist my body horizontal in response, pushing my legs out in a kick that barely makes him stumble.
  
  What it does do however, is stop him from being able to pull me closer, giving me the slightest bit of extra time I need to ready my counter.
  
  Right as his blade is inches away from decapitating me, it, along with the Butcher, disappear and not a moment later a three foot long spike of bone sparkling with electricity pierces the ground where he once stood.
  
  The thing about danger sense is that it generally takes precedence over everything else, and thank fuck for that, otherwise we might have both just ended up dying.
  
  No idea what would happen to the Butcher in that case.
  
  He appears a short distance away and I get up to face him, causing us to enter another stand off.
  
  With a menacing slowness, he draws his other blade and I figure that the greetings are over with and match him by allowing my claws to take form, cladding my arms.
  
  With my wings out, I have one more of my extras than last time, only missing my tail, yet somehow I feel like the fight isn't going to go as well for me as last time anyway.
  
  He certainly won't be falling for any simple tricks this time around.
  
  Instead of attacking right away, he gets a pensive look about him that makes me think he's talking to the other twelve and I decide it would be rude to interrupt.
  
  A moment later and he meets my eyes.
  
  "Why don't you just join me? As a member of the Teeth you will have full right to challenge me for the position of Butcher and most importantly six will stop fucking shouting at me."
  
  He sounds annoyed even as he makes what is no doubt a final offer of peace.
  
  Unfortunately, I find peace to be boring and would have rejected on principle even without the voices to consider.
  
  "Sorry hubby~ but I'm not much of a joiner.~ So imma have to regretfully decline.~" I say with a sigh.
  
  He doesn't look the slightest bit surprised and his lip even twitches upward slightly.
  
  "Four says he figured you'd say that." He says with a grin that could scare the elderly into having a heart attack.
  
  I answer his smile with one of my own and we both ready our weapons for another bout.
  
  Only this time, I can tell that he is having nearly as much fun as I am.
  
  Well would you look at that, I think to myself ironically, it looks like I'm actually making friends, who'd have thought it.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Lusia is falling in looove~~~
  
  Not really but also she kinda is.
  
  She is a complex person beneath the simplicity of her desires.
  
  Butcher XIII is perfect for her because right now they are about the same in terms of power levels. Lusia is faster and more flexible with better staying power, while Butcher is stronger and more durable with better versatility.
  
  They are just about even and neither one can actually beat the other into submission without some measure of luck and she is having a great time fighting him, enough that she's basically falling in love in her own fucked up way that makes her want to rip his limbs off to show just how much she loves him.
  
  Sorry about the long A/N, but I just really like the depth I've built up here between the two of them and I wanted to make sure that y'all can properly appreciate it.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  61 A Love Story
  A fist appears in front of my face with the concussive force of his explosion behind it and I twist around, raising my leg in a roundhouse kick that hits nothing but air.
  
  My ribbons all snap into a triple X shape over my back just in time to block the pair of oversized daggers that come crashing down, pushing me to the ground.
  
  I have almost no time to recover and have to use my wings to parry the next blow that comes for my neck.
  
  My wings are the least durable part of me and I feel a spike of pain lance through me as half of one of my wings gets sheered clean off, even as I use the force of the blow to scramble back to my feet.
  
  He disappears again, but this time he appears right in the path of one of my ribbons that wraps around him and pulls him towards my waiting claws.
  
  He disappears again, but I saw it coming and never actually bothered to commit to the attack, allowing me to spin around and parry his blades with me left arms elbow sword, completing the spin by lunching forward with my right, intending to tear into his chest.
  
  However, instead of the sensation of piercing flesh all I feel is fire washing over me as he teleports again, only half a foot to the side and as my strike goes wide, I realise something.
  
  This isn't a fight.
  
  I dodge his counter strike by such a tight margin that I feel it clip my ear and I return with a knee to the stomach.
  
  We aren't fighting.
  
  He twists around my knee and sends an elbow for my face that gets blocked by a ribbon.
  
  We are dancing.
  
  Two more ribbons follow, shattering the ground where he stood, hitting nothing.
  
  This is no tale of violence.
  
  He lunges forward with one blade, swinging the other and I thrust my left hand to meet the first blade, allowing it to pierce through my palm and into my arm while letting me grab it's guard with my claws, even as I duck under the second, sending my ribbons forward in retaliation.
  
  This is a tale of 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦.
  
  He is half a second too slow in releasing his blade and gets clipped by my ribbons before he ca disappear, leaving one weapon behind that I pull out of my arm and snap in half.
  
  We are like lovers.
  
  He appears in front of me again, swinging down with his remaining sword, only to disappear to behind me.
  
  Dancing to a tune that only we can hear.
  
  I spin, but he is already gone, teleporting back to where he first appeared and launching a kick into my side that shatters half my ribs and ruptures one of my lungs.
  
  It's beautiful.
  
  He tries to push the advantage, but he's not the only one who can ignore pain and he quickly has to teleport again in order to avoid my ribbons flailing behind me.
  
  I wish this moment could go on forever.
  
  He appears in front of me and I swing my claws but he catches them both and prepares to kick me in the chest, no doubt hard enough that he would rip my arms clean off.
  
  Is this feeling what love is?
  
  Before his foot can even start to come crashing towards me, dozens of thin tentacles spear out of my stomach towards him, only a couple manage to pierce his foot before he is gone again.
  
  Him, like the sky.
  
  The tentacles come together to form a singular thick trunk that swings out wide, crashing through a building where he was a moment ago.
  
  Always within sight.
  
  He appears above me this time, dropping down with a heavy kick that uses gravity to its advantage.
  
  Yet impossible to grasp.
  
  Six ribbons pierce towards him and hit nothing as he appears crouched in front of me, landing an uppercut to my gut that sends me airborne.
  
  Me, like the sea.
  
  Four rapid teleportations disorient me enough that he lands a clear blow with his remaining blade that cuts one of my arms clean off.
  
  No matter how it is disturbed.
  
  I land on my ribbons, holding myself over the ground as a new arm rapidly grows in place of my old one.
  
  It always returns to how it was.
  
  He appears before me again, but I already saw it coming and he has no time to react before my tail slams into him, sending him crashing through a building, too disoriented from the hit to teleport.
  
  The only signs of our affection.
  
  The building crumbles, unable to handle the extra punishment, just the same as all the other buildings around us.
  
  Are the scars we leave on the earth.
  
  He rises from the rubble and for a moment, our eyes meet and it is as if time stops and the entire world falls away as we spend an eternity lost in each other.
  
  I'm in love.
  
  The moment passes, and he is moving again. But I can feel it in the way he attacks me, the way that he tries to kill me. I can feel that he understands.
  
  We are lovers.
  
  His sword slashes at me and I don't bother to defend, allowing him to land his hit so that I can land my own before he is gone again.
  
  Dancing to a tune no one will ever know.
  
  𝘉𝘦𝘦𝘱! 𝘉𝘦𝘦𝘱!
  
  And then, like waking up from a dream, it is over.
  
  I look down to my side, at one of my pockets that is miraculously still in good condition.
  
  Inside of it, is the phone the Elite gave me to conduct business with them and that tone was to let me know that now is the time to disengage and head back.
  
  It almost makes me cry.
  
  I suddenly find myself feeling lost, just staring at the phone in silence.
  
  It's over. Ruined.
  
  It feels like for the first time in my life, I had a glimpse at something beautiful. Something ephemeral.
  
  Something that I might never feel again.
  
  They say true love only strikes once.
  
  An explosion, a familiar sound that brings me nothing but joy, sounds off next to me but I can't even bring myself to look up.
  
  Into the cage formed around me by my ribbons walks Thirteen.
  
  He doesn't say anything and when I finally look at him, we both remain silent, simply staring into each others eyes.
  
  Then he glances down at my phone and he simply grunts and turns on his heel.
  
  Then he just.. walks away.
  
  Left alone in a cage of my own limbs, I don't know how long I stand there, staring into nothing.
  
  Will I ever feel that again?
  
  Do I even want to? If it will leave me feeling so empty afterwards?
  
  I don't know.
  
  Maybe I never will.
  
  But when I eventually hear the sounds of an engine approaching, I turn to see Clara's car stopped just where the street starts to turn into rubble.
  
  When she gets out of the car to stare in my direction, concern evident on her face, I manage to smile to myself.
  
  If nothing else, at least I have someone I can work out my feelings on. Maybe I'll even find an answer.
  
  In the end, even after an incredibly vigorous night, the answer I came to was rather simple, if disappointing.
  
  I have come to a conclusion that the feelings I experienced that night are likely to be a one time thing, or perhaps just incredibly rare.
  
  It was a moment.
  
  A moment of beauty make no doubt about it, but not something that can be recreated. Not intentionally at least.
  
  Like an aurora.
  
  It's beautiful when it happens, but we have no control over it and once it's over, we can only mourn it's passing, all the while we look back on the memory and celebrate that it exists, even if only in our minds.
  
  But after a couple of days of moping around, I decide that I should just move on.
  
  After all, I want to have fun and enjoy myself. Spending my time complaining about things is counterintuitive to that goal.
  
  With that in mind I decide to take a stroll, wonder around and clear my head a little, maybe even find something interesting to take my attention.
  
  So naturally the first thing I did was visit the empire state building.
  
  I would have gone for the statue of liberty, but thanks to the amount of delusional villains that have either tried to steal or destroy her, it is rather tightly guarded.
  
  Not to mention the fact that anyone trying to mess with the statue will find themselves face to face with a rather annoyed Legend very quickly, seeing as he can move just shy of the speed of light.
  
  Now, while I may be confident in my power, Legend is of a whole different breed and I don't fancy being turned into a disco ball.
  
  I don't know what I really expected though, I've never really been one for appreciating sights like this.
  
  To be honest, the only thing I really thought about while standing all the way up there was how long it would take me to hit the ground if I jumped, and whether or not I would actually die.
  
  In the end, I left the building disappointed.
  
  But I can't deny that the walk allowed me the opportunity to clear my head a little. Enough that as I am making my way back home I manage to catch a faint whiff of a vaguely familiar scent, so light that I wouldn't have noticed it if my head was still full of thoughts.
  
  Deciding to follow the trail hoping to find something entertaining, I come across a strange sight and it takes me a moment to realise where I recognise the scent from.
  
  Lying down in a random alleyway in a mildly deserted area of the city is a young woman, more of a girl really.
  
  But what makes me pause is that she is a cape. Not just that but a 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘳 cape.
  
  It's the little Asian girl from the club a couple weeks ago.
  
  Honestly, she really looks like shit.
  
  Smells like shit too.
  
  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that she hasn't stopped partying since I saw her, with how bad she stinks.
  
  Still, she is a cape and that by itself makes her infinitely more interesting than anyone who isn't one, so I decide to not just leave her lying here.
  
  Decision made, I heft her up into a bridal carry, wrinkling my nose slightly as her stink wafts deep into my nose.
  
  My god this girl needs a thorough cleaning.
  
  Ah well, I'm sure Uppercrust won't mind if I bring a guest to his guest flats right?
  
  I mean, they 𝘢𝘳𝘦 guest flats. It's literally their whole purpose to house guests.
  
  Eh, I'm sure it'll be fine.
  
  ...
  
  "You cannot just bring random people of the street here!" Clara shouts at me as I start running the shower, letting it heat up while I strip the girl of her gross clothes.
  
  My own clothes will probably be way too big on her, which sounds like it would be funny, so I'm definitely not getting anything more fitting.
  
  I start humming lightly to myself after I put the girl in the tub and start cleaning her, using liberal amounts of shampoo and conditioner.
  
  Ok, to be honest I just poured a bunch of everything available on her because, and I cannot express this enough, she 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘴.
  
  "Are you even listening to me!?"
  
  I wonder what her power is though? Hopefully it's not something boring, otherwise this whole thing would have been a waste of time.
  
  Well, not a complete waste I guess, since I could just eat her if she's too boring.
  
  Wait, will I get addicted to whatever drugs are in her system if I eat her?
  
  Hmm, maybe I should hold out on that then.
  
  "Uppercrust is 𝘯𝘰𝘵 going to be happy about this! These are supposed to be 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 rooms! We can't just let guests stay in places that are known to the PRT!"
  
  Finally deciding that Clara is getting a bit too hysterical, I turn around and quick as a flash I grab her throat and push her against the wall, pressing out bodies together.
  
  She immediately stops talking and starts blushing instead.
  
  "It's fine~ she doesn't even know where we are~" I say say with a roll of my eyes, "and even then, it's rather hypocritical to call these private rooms no?~" I finish, referencing the cameras that this place was covered in when I first got here.
  
  Naturally, I got rid of all of them once Clara and I started.. exploring deeper relations, shall we say.
  
  Unfortunately, there is one thing I forgot to consider with my current course of actions, something that becomes quickly apparent to my enhanced nose.
  
  Ah, fuck it.
  
  I spare the little Asian girl a glance for a second before deciding that she'll be fine there for a while.
  
  I have plenty of time before she wakes up.. probably.
  
  With that thought carrying me, I lean forward and lock my lips with Clara's and pick her up, briefly spending a moment to turn off the shower so the girl doesn't drown as I take us to the bedroom.
  
  I'm sure nothing bad will ever come of my impulsiveness.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  The first half of this chapter left me so emotionally drained that I had to wait till the next day to finish it as I literally spent like, four hours just sitting and staring into space after writing it.
  
  I just love it so damn much and I don't even care if anyone disagrees cuz ur just wrong. Tear felt Love, for the first time in her life. It was a fleeting, ephemeral thing that she will most likely never feel again and it was like eldritch madness.
  
  By that I mean that people misunderstand that type of madness as some kind of insanity, when in reality it is simply comprehension. It's momentary understanding of something so incredibly profound that you will never be able to understand it again and that, more than anything, Burns you from the inside.
  
  Just take a moment to imagine it, something so Beautiful that it stirs your very soul. Something that makes everything make sense, but then it's gone and you're back to how you normally are. You Know for certain that there is a level of understanding that exists out there, but no matter what you do, you will never feel it again.
  
  It is both beautiful and incredibly painful and I love it.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  62 April
  Flip.
  
  Flip.
  
  Flip.
  
  Shuffle.
  
  And then it starts all over again.
  
  One card turns over, showing that it can bo moved over another, starting a chain reaction that moves even more cards, flipping the ones underneath it, further allowing more cards to stack and more cards to flip.
  
  The simplicity of the game is always enough to bring me calm.
  
  To me, solitaire is like meditating.
  
  It lets me relax, forget the world and simply enjoy some peace.
  
  Then the door to my bedroom opens.
  
  It's already the morning by the time she is getting up and it's a good thing Uppercrust doesn't need me for anything 'till the evening today.
  
  I look up from my cards and give the girl a smile, one she doesn't return, too busy throwing her eyes around, observing the entire room and everything in it.
  
  I'm happy to see that I was right. She 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 look funny dressed in clothes many sizes too big for her, but I make sure not to laugh as I don't want to give a bad first impression.
  
  I also made sure not to leave anything cape related in here.
  
  Not because I particularly care about hiding it. I just wanted to see how she'll react, or if she will notice anyway, since that would mean she's a Thinker.
  
  "Yo~ you're finally awake!~ I half expected you to be in a coma or something.~ Want some coffee?" I offer without dropping my smile.
  
  With my words, she finally actually looks at me, briefly glancing at the cards on the table before returning her eyes to mine.
  
  "Who are you? Where am I?" She asks, ignoring my question.
  
  "I am your father." I respond with a poor attempt at a deep voice.
  
  The deadpan look she sends me shows that she clearly doesn't appreciate the reference.
  
  Tch, kids these days.
  
  "The name's Lusia," I say with a roll of my eyes, so far beyond caring about keeping my identity a secret, "and you're in the matrix."
  
  Another deadpan stare but her lip twitches this time.
  
  Heh, I'll get you eventually.
  
  I don't bother elaborating on where we are though, since it really should be pretty obvious at this point. Unless she wants me to give the address or something, but I don't even know what it is so I couldn't do that anyway.
  
  "So do you want that coffee?" I repeat and she nods her head, so I make my way to the kitchen, my guest plodding along after me.
  
  The coffee is brewed in silence as she simply watches me work the familiar motions.
  
  I spend the time observing her, making sure not to try and make it subtle, because if she's a Thinker then she will notice and be more likely to clam up if she thinks I'm trying to pry information out of her or something.
  
  But if I simply openly observe her then she is more likely to see it as simple curiosity and be less defensive about it.
  
  One thing that comes to mind is that she is most definitely a Thinker, or maybe a Tinker by the way her eyes are constantly flitting around the place.
  
  I assume it's a Thinker thing, her power feeding her full of information everywhere she looks, but it could also be a Tinker power telling her how she can take everything around her apart and build a death star.
  
  Damn, it would be so fucking cool if she could build a death star.
  
  But I'm leaning more on her being a Thinker because I have also noticed her balance.
  
  It's not really something I would pick up on without actively looking for it, but she hasn't so much as stumbled once despite the fact that she should be feeling at least some kind of hangover right now.
  
  I finish preparing the coffee and I pour us both a mug and take a sip.
  
  Honestly? It's not great. But my options are kind of limited to say the least.
  
  At least I have human slushies now, but I can't really prepare that for two.
  
  ... unless I do?
  
  I have to try 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 hard to avoid smirking at the thought of serving someone a human slushie.
  
  God, that would be so fucking funny.
  
  After a moment of casual silence the little Asian girl finally decides to speak up.
  
  "So," she starts, "is this the part where you make me 'an offer I can't refuse'?"
  
  Her body tenses minutely as she speaks, no doubt preparing for a fight or something.
  
  Jeez, someone watches too many movies.
  
  I don't bother hiding my smirk anymore as I respond.
  
  "I was thinking something more along the lines of a name. I can't just keep calling you the little Asian girl in my head after all.~"
  
  I can tell the way my response catches her slightly flat footed and my smirk only grows when she scowls at me, no doubt because of the nickname.
  
  "Just call me April." She demands in that way that kids do when they think they're being intimidating.
  
  It's cute really.
  
  It's also obviously not her actual name, but eh, who cares really. It's just a name, we only need them to help communication. It doesn't really matter what the form of address is specifically, so long as we know who we're talking to.
  
  "Now tell me what you want already." She growls and it takes genuine effort to stop myself from pinching her cheeks.
  
  I'm glad this is as fun as I was hoping it would be, even if not for the reason I had in mind.
  
  "What makes you think I want anything from you?~ I just saw you passed out in the street covered in filth and decided to balance out my karma a little by cleaning you up and getting you somewhere where some rando can't come along and doing unspeakable things to you in your sleep.~"
  
  Her glare lessens slightly, most likely do to the simple truth in the statement, but it doesn't disappear completely, telling me that she isn't buying it.
  
  "Besides, what could you possible even offer me? You were passed out in the middle of an alley, dressed in old and worn clothes and looking like you can't remember what a shower is and you're not even an adult so it's not like you could offer your body, so tell me. What could I possibly want from you?"
  
  It's an interesting thing, that she both understands the truth of what I am saying, making her want to place some measure of trust in me, but she can also tell that I'm not quite being honest, making for quite the dichotomy.
  
  Definitely a Thinker then.
  
  "You're a cape." She suddenly states in leu of answering me and I blink at the random non-sequitur.
  
  "Pardon?" I blurt out in mild confusion, wondering what gave it away, or if her Thinker power is simply good enough to notice anyway.
  
  Unexpectedly, she seems to gain some confidence at my question and I can't help but notice the way her chest seems to puff out slightly as she opens her mouth.
  
  "When you were making the coffee your hands were changing direction faster than a normal person would be able to, as if you can ignore the velocity you were moving with, meaning you either have some kind of Mover power or a Brute one. I'd go with Brute though because you didn't seem to have any problem holding a hot mug of coffee despite not having any callouses on your hands to protect you from the heat."
  
  There is a certain smugness to her tone as she all but lectures me.
  
  She does bring up a good point for if I ever want to go undercover though because I never even thought about the fact that fresh coffee is generally too hot to keep in your hands.
  
  Now while I'm sure that I could have come up with some kind of witty or intellectual response, I get the feeling that she likes to be the smartest person in the room, so I decide to go with something else instead.
  
  "Takes one to know one.~" I playfully rebut while sticking my tongue out at her.
  
  She doesn't respond to my knowledge of her being a parahuman, most likely already figuring I know, and instead she simply reiterates her earlier question.
  
  "What do you want." She asks, slightly less hostile this time.
  
  I just shrug my shoulders, which is a completely honest reaction and decide to just treat her the same as mini James, by which I mean honesty is the best policy.
  
  "Who knows?~ Maybe I wanted to find out what your power was~ maybe I wanted to see if you were interesting~ maybe I wanted another cape friend~ maybe I wanted to see if you'd try and kill me or something.~"
  
  Her face is enough to tell me she isn't happy with my answer so I decide with a sigh to try again.
  
  "Look April, there was no great reason nor do I really want anything from you. I'm just plagued by a horrible boredom that never seems to want to go away and I figured you might bring about something interesting. If anything, all I want from you is for you to just do whatever it is that 𝘺𝘰𝘶 want so that I can watch and be entertained."
  
  Honesty is always the best way to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible, no round about pointless conversations or misunderstandings. Just straight to the point so that everyone understands the situation.
  
  I don't know if her power can tell if I'm lying or not or if she simply thinks it can, but either way a lot of the suspicion in her eyes dies out with my words, though the caution remains, which is to be expected.
  
  "So if I walk out that door, you won't stop me?" She says, gesturing to the front door and raising an eyebrow.
  
  I give her another shrug.
  
  "Eh. If you're just gonna leave then I'd rather take you out with a blindfold or something, cuz I don't own this place and it would be silly to piss them off by giving the location away, but yeah, you want to go then feel free, I've already had a night of fun that was ostensibly thanks to you, so I'd say we're square."
  
  It helps that everything I'm saying is true, something that won't change until I know for certain whether or not she can tell lies with her power.
  
  I really do consider us even. I got her cleaned up and in exchange she inadvertently caused a very steamy night between Clara and I.
  
  That's a pretty fair trade in my books.
  
  Of course, I never said anything about finding her again, but that's besides the point.
  
  She goes back to her coffee and for a few moments we once again bask in silence.
  
  She breaks the silence once she finishes her coffee.
  
  "You got anything I can eat in here?" She asks and I smile as I am reminded of my earlier thought about slushies.
  
  I reach under my counter and pull out a big ol' jar of jerky and open it, taking a slice out and biting half of it in one go before tilting the jar to her.
  
  "Jerky?" I offer with hidden anticipation.
  
  She takes a tentative bite and immediately makes a face, though given the lack of disgust, I doubt it's because of her discovering the source of the meat.
  
  "No seasoning? It's bland. You got anything else?" She asks, clearly making herself comfortable.
  
  Not that I mind, because she takes another bite even as she complains about it.
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘬
  
  The sudden feeling of pain and pleasure is enough to distract me from laughing out loud and it only garners a brief glance from April before she goes back to the jerky.
  
  "Nah, I don't really do variety with what I consume. Just plain jerky and coffee for me." I answer with the smile of someone who knows they are making bad life decisions but will continue o do so anyway.
  
  She gives me a queer look as she swallows another bite.
  
  "That can't be good for your health." She states, full deadpan.
  
  "Eh, superpowers for the win right? I'm sure I'll be fine.~" I respond with good humour, waving away her concern.
  
  "Speaking of," she ventures, "what is your power anyway?"
  
  Suddenly, I get a fun idea and with a grin I open my mouth to answer.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Aaaaaand that's a wrap baby!
  
  Muahaha, cliffhanger-kun is here bitches!
  
  Also, Fuck that little bitch. She is so much fun in my head but it is so fuckign difficult to write Thinkers, or just preternaturally intelligent people in general. There is a reason for the saying about characters never being capable of being smarter than the author who wrote them, and I don't have any bullshit thinker powers so it's difficult to imagine how 'April' is seeing the world.
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  63 Polite Conversation
  Opening my mouth, I answer with a sunny smile.
  
  "Well, I think it would probably be easier to just show you.~"
  
  Then, without giving her a moment to prepare herself, I bring my hands up to my head, putting one palm under my chin and the other on the back of my head.
  
  And with a sudden movement, I 𝘱𝘶𝘴𝘩 and the next moment I find myself looking at the fridge behind me.
  
  𝘚𝘯𝘢𝘱!
  
  The sound of my neck breaking must have been deafening if not for the fact that it is quickly out done by the sound of my neck snapping back into place as my vision blurs and suddenly I am looking forward again, staring straight into April's shocked eyes.
  
  Ahhh, that actually felt pretty good you know?
  
  Not the breaking part, but now that my necks back to normal it feels like I just visited the best chiropractor ever.
  
  "Couldn't you have just like, said 'regeneration'? Cuz that was gross." April says as she turns her scrunched face up at me.
  
  "Sure I could have, but where would be the fun in that?~" I respond with a mischievous smile, wiggling my brows at her.
  
  A soft snort leaves her which I count as a win and I open my mouth again before she can ask any more questions, because it's my turn.
  
  "Well, I've shown you mine, don't you think you should show me yours?~" I say while giving her an exaggerated wink.
  
  She seems to mull things over for a second before ultimately deciding that it's only fair to show a little honesty.
  
  "I'm pretty good at timing, as in I could probably choreograph a city wide operation down to the second, and I can turn things I touch into bombs." Is her bland response.
  
  The timing thing sounds impressive, but kind of boring so naturally I focus on the much more interesting part.
  
  "You can turn things into bombs?~ Mind giving a demonstration? Unless the explosions are too big of course.~" I ask, getting mildly excited by the thought of explosions.
  
  Explosions are cool, sue me.
  
  She just shrugs her shoulders and picks up her empty mug when out of nowhere, spreading from her point of contact with the mug is what can only be described as a watermark, or perhaps one of those ink blot things used in psychology.
  
  The watermark starts spreading over the mug and when it is about to reach its apex, she turns and throws it behind her into the living room.
  
  The moment the mug is in the absolute centre of the room, it explodes. The force of the blast isn't enough to scorch the walls from the centre of the room, but I do notice one rather important result of the explosion.
  
  "My cards..." I quetly bemoan as my cards are scattered about the room from where they were.
  
  I was only a few moves away from winning.
  
  Teary eyes, I turn back to April and give a pitiable sniffle.
  
  "How could you." I whisper, heartbroken.
  
  Then she suddenly starts laughing at me and my sad face rather rapidly transitions into an irritated one.
  
  "Oi, you're supposed to apologise." I complain in monotone, but she clearly doesn't care.
  
  "Hahahaha! Sorry- haha- sorry, sorry. You just looked so stupid! Hahahahaha!" She can barely get her words out as she clutches her stomach and I can't help but think that it really wasn't that funny.
  
  "'Oh nyo~ my cards' hahahahaha!" She bounces her head side to side as she speaks with a mocking tone, imitating my voice in that annoying way children do.
  
  Ok, now that's just mean.
  
  It takes her a moment to calm down enough that she is just huffing and breathing heavily and I try to bring the conversation back on track with a roll of my eyes.
  
  "Is that Manton limited?" I ask, getting a confused look from her still amused eyes but I don't know what she's confused about so I just raise my eyebrow in question.
  
  "Hehe- sorry." She starts quietly before clearing her throat with a cough and starting again properly. "What's a Manton limit?"
  
  Oh right, she's not just new but also a literal child, so she doesn't know things and stuff.
  
  Man, it's just like mini James... I really gotta stop hanging out with kids, it's getting weird.
  
  Shaking off the random thoughts I answer Aprils question.
  
  "The Manton limit, named after Doctor William Manton, is the term for when a parahumans power can only affect either organic or inorganic matter. It's the reason pyrokinetic and such can't just spawn a fire inside of your brain and insta-kill you."
  
  She seems thoughtful after my brief explanation but I decide to give another example just to make sure she actually understands, because I know mini James would struggle to understand things that weren't clearly explained.
  
  Damn, should I have been a teacher or something? I seem to be good at this.
  
  Nah, that'd be boring as fuck.
  
  "Think about Chevalier, you know him right? Second in command hero here in NY? Well, his power lets him combine two things into one, keeping the properties he wants from each of them. The Manton limit is what's stopping him from being able to mix people together, or like, trees n' shit."
  
  With a more in depth explanation, April clicks her fingers as if she just had a eureka moment which I take to mean she understands now, something she confirms not a moment later.
  
  "I get it. So are you asking if I can make organic stuff explode, just like inorganic?" She asks, looking mightily curious herself.
  
  "Yup!" I confirm with a sunny smile.
  
  "I don't know to be honest." She confides, still looking thoughtful.
  
  Still, I can't let an opportunity like this go just after she laughed at me, so I make sure to put on my most mocking and condescending face as I respond.
  
  "You 'don't know'? You don't even know how your own power works? What are you, stupid?"
  
  That immediately knocks her out of her thoughts and makes her scowl at me once more, something that makes me smile.
  
  "I haven't had them long!" She rapidly defends with vigour before continuing more sedately, "besides, I haven't really had the opportunity to test them out. I've been busy."
  
  Ah yes, busy getting as fucked up as humanly possible, such an unavoidable circumstance.
  
  Still, I don't call her out for it, partly because she had just been through her trigger and no one makes good decisions following that.
  
  She gives me a queer look after I don't respond immediately.
  
  "Aren't you supposed to tell me that I shouldn't have been wasting my time doing what I've been doing?" She asks, seeming genuinely confused.
  
  "Why should I?" I respond, matching her confused tone, something she clearly notices going by the way her eye twitches.
  
  "You 𝘥𝘰 know I've been 'busy' doing drugs and alcohol right? Isn't that something you should tell me to keep away from?" The scepticality is practically dripping from her voice as she levels a pair of half closed eyes at me, filled with suspicion.
  
  I'm almost insulted at the accusation.
  
  Me? Doing something responsible?
  
  Like that could ever happen.
  
  "Hey, fun's fun, no matter how you have it, so long as you are enjoying yourself I have nothing to say about how you live your life." I answer with a wry smile.
  
  I do, genuinely and truly believe that everyone should simply enjoy themselves and have fun. What's the point in even being alive if you're not enjoying yourself after all?
  
  "Huh. Cool." Is her lame response and I decide to once again bring the conversation back to where we were.
  
  "Yup. Anyway, you wanna find out if you're Manton limited or what?" I ask with a grin of anticipation, one that she rapidly finds herself matching.
  
  "Sure, but how exactly should we go about doing that?" She asks, making me roll my eyes at the obvious question.
  
  I roll one of my sleeves back and offer the arm to her.
  
  "Just use your power on me." I say but she looks hesitant so I quickly add, "it'll be fine~ I'll get better.~"
  
  Apparently she didn't need much convincing because as soon as I finish speaking she reaches forward and places her hand on my own.
  
  We both watch in fascination as the watermark appears and starts to spread across my hand.
  
  It doesn't take as long as the mug to reach its apex and when it does I can tell it works from the sudden pain of having my hand eviscerated.
  
  However, if that was not enough to tell that the power works just fine on organic material, the explosion of blood and gore that completely covers not just my counter but also my face, her face, the cupboards and even the fucking ceiling.
  
  Wow.
  
  Just, wow.
  
  It's like a funking Jackson Pollock painting.
  
  I hope Uppercrust has people that come in and clean here, because I am not dealing with that.
  
  "Holy shit." Is the amazed whisper that leaves the blood covered April as she stares at her own hands.
  
  𝘊𝘭𝘢𝘱!
  
  Clapping my hands to get her attention is both just a good way of getting attention but also a subtle flex of my own powers because it's nice to remind people that you have them and I don't want her getting too big a head.
  
  "Welp! Unless you are fond of wearing 𝘮𝘦, I'd imagine you'd want a shower right about now. We can continue this lovely discussion afterwards." I say with a smile, noticing the way her eyes, filled with interest, follow my newly regenerated hand.
  
  In the end we both shower and I give her another set of my clothing, leaving me in my only clean set left.
  
  Do you think Uppercrusts cleaning people include people who do laundry? I don't really feel like doing it myself and I've never asked.
  
  Well, now that I think about it, I've been here for nearly three weeks and haven't done a single piece of laundry despite my clothes being clean every time I put them on.
  
  So I think it's safe to assume there are cleaners, which is great news.
  
  Eventually, we are both seated in the living room, a fresh coffee in front of us both that we sip from sedately, both thinking about our own things.
  
  "So," I begin, getting her attention from where she was staring into her new mug (she really is working her way through all my shit) "now that that's all over and done with. What do you plan to do now? Or in the future at least?"
  
  "What's it to you?" Is her immediate response that makes me roll my eyes with a sigh.
  
  "You're wearing my clothes and have literally just been covered in my blood after turning my hand into a confetti cannon. I should think that we're past the point of being pointlessly defensive about menial things."
  
  My deadpan reminder makes her flush slightly as she seems to concede the point and starts thinking to herself, no doubt about what it is she wants to do with her life and, more specifically, her powers.
  
  It doesn't seem to take her long to come to her decision.
  
  "I want to play the game." She says, and while I have an idea of what she means, I still want to hear her say it herself.
  
  "What do you mean exactly? What 'game'?" I raise an eyebrow and lean forward with supressed excitement.
  
  "You know.." she starts, waiving her hand around as if to gesture to the world itself like her answer is just that obvious, "the Game. Of Heroes and Villains, going out and fighting each other with drama and schemes and plots and stuff. I wanna play."
  
  At this point, I am not bothering to hold back my grin and I have no doubt that it grows to positively devilish proportions.
  
  "Well,~ in that case, I have an offer that you might be interested in.~"
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Bleh, March is here and I am happy about that, but she isn't 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩 yet, so I kinda struggled to write her, cuz right now she is a 13/14 year old girl who's just gone through an incredibly traumatic event and is positively fucked up because of it, so she isn't quite as fun as I'd liker her to be yet.
  
  Not to mention, I just don't like this kind of domestic conversation. There's no Drama, no Excitement, just two people talking over coffee ;-;
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  64 Heart to uh, Mask? 2 Electric Boogalo
  "So where'd you find the brat?" Butcher asks me from my side.
  
  We are both sitting at the edge of a tall building, well I'm sitting, he's standing.
  
  We're too high to be seen by anyone on the street without them actively looking up which is good since everybody below thinks that we're off fighting again.
  
  This is probably going to be the last time we fight, as he's already told me that he's going to be leaving for Boston in a couple days, but country to what Uppercrust thinks, I asked that we not actually fight this time and he agreed.
  
  Mostly because he knows that a fight between us will lead to nothing, just the same as before, but I like to think that part of the reason he agreed is just because we're friends.
  
  "Just found her on the street. Didn't think she'd be so impressive." I answer, dangling my feet over the edge with my eyes locked onto the spectacle below.
  
  And what a spectacle it is.
  
  I decided to bring April along with me for my job, though apparently her name is actually May, as like a work experience kind of thing. It would be lame if a Clown lost on there debut after all.
  
  But she is doing much better than expected.
  
  Down below is the entire current Teeth roster, minus the Butcher obviously who is up here with me.
  
  Yet against all five of them she is not only holding her own but she's actively winning, if slowly.
  
  It's really incredible to watch her work, from the way she dodges attacks by a hairs breadth, even managing to perfectly avoid Quarrel's arrows despite her power making it impossible for her to miss.
  
  Then there's the marbles I bought her when we were shopping for her bunny mask that she's throwing around that somehow manage to explode only when it brings the most benefit to her.
  
  Of course, one cannot forget her third power, the one that she didn't tell me about at first.
  
  She can make any weapon she wields into a 'perfect' weapon.
  
  So far she seems to be able to cut through just about anything, something the Teeth are quickly coming to be weary of.
  
  "She got a name yet?" He grunts, looking disapprovingly at his subordinates as they get smacked around and led on.
  
  I even caught him wince when May lead Animos to roar at Hemorrhagia, causing her powers to turn off long enough for her to land an exaggerated spinning kick to her face.
  
  "March." I answer simply as I keep getting distracted from the way she fights.
  
  She explained to me that when she really uses her Thinker power it's like time slows down for her, and like any self respecting Clown, she makes use of the extra time to inject some theatricality into everything she does.
  
  It's honestly really cool to watch.
  
  "March? Like the month?"
  
  I snort at Butchers confused words, to which he responds by stabbing me in the shoulder.
  
  What an asshole.
  
  Still, I smile as I explain, happy to talk about it and happy to talk to him.
  
  "We watched Alice in Wonderland the other day, that's where she got the bunny mask from, the March Hare and she likes those old soldier uniforms from the 1800's, and they march, I guess, so that's what she went for. We just need to wait a couple days for my order to come through and she'll be all set."
  
  The order I'm talking about is of course her costume. Uppercrust did seem a little surprised at my request but a brief explanation of the situation was enough for him to put an order through for me.
  
  Though it is naturally exorbitantly expensive but I don't have expensive tastes and my contract with the Elite pays well anyway, so I'm not hurting for cash.
  
  They even helped me set up a bank account with this guy called Number Man, who apparently does all the banking for all the villains, which really makes me wonder how people are ok with some dude controlling like, all of the illegal money in the country, but whatever.
  
  The costume will be done and delivered at about the time that the Teeth are going to be rotating back to Boston, so I'll probably be leaving shortly after as well.
  
  Which means that there will once again be only one Clown in this city and maybe I will find someone worthy of the position in the next, then I can just let the organisation grow by itself as Clowns recruit more Clowns.
  
  Though, I feel that I should make it clear that anyone who just invites a bunch of rando's into the club is going to get eaten.
  
  ... Eh, I'm sure it's implied.
  
  "She's good." He says and I can tell that he means it, mostly because she 𝘪𝘴 good so it's just a simple fact.
  
  I wouldn't let her be a Clown if she didn't have something to offer after all.
  
  You know, I just had a thought.
  
  "Hey Thirteen, wait do you have like, an actual name I can call you? Cuz Thirteen seems impersonal and Butcher doesn't flow of the tongue very well for conversation."
  
  He gives me a strange look for a moment before returning to spectating the fight down below.
  
  "Don't you know it's frowned upon to ask a cape for their name?" He questions, not really sounding like he cares.
  
  "Sure, but it's also generally frowned upon to be the Butcher or to eat people, so I'd say we're past that point don'tcha think?" I respond with levity before abruptly turning to face him and holding my hand out for him to shake. "The names Lusia by the way, or you can just call me Lucy~ nice to meet ya!~"
  
  He huffs but shakes his head and takes my hand regardless.
  
  "William, or you can just call me Bill." Is his gruff response.
  
  "William huh? Bill, Bill, Billy the Butcher!~" I exclaim with a smile, even as he starts to crush my hand under his grip.
  
  "I'm already regretting this." He says, but I know he's all soft on the inside (he's not) so I ignore him.
  
  "Sure you do big guy Wilfred- ow!"
  
  𝘊𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩.
  
  Pulling back my mangled hand, a shiver passes through my as my bones reform and my hand snaps back to how it is supposed to look.
  
  "Now that was just mean.~" I pout, but I can't quite hide my smile.
  
  "Anyway," I start, "as I was saying Billy, you know how you invited me to join you?"
  
  Now 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 immediately gets his attention.
  
  "You reconsidering?" He asks, pretending he doesn't care about my answer.
  
  Too bad.
  
  "Nah, unfortunately not. It's actually quite the opposite. You wanna join me? The only conditions to being one of my Clowns is to want to have fun and have something to offer, you certainly fit the latter and I'm sure you fit the former well enough, so whaddaya say?~"
  
  He gives me a long, searching look and I actually manage to tear my eyes away from the fight to match his stare, showing how serious I am about this.
  
  Because I would like him to join me.
  
  Sadly, life does not always go to plan.
  
  "Not possible I'm afraid." He answers after a long moment of silence and I quickly go back to watching the fight, hoping to hide my disappointment.
  
  Carefully keeping my voice level, I speak without looking back this time.
  
  "Why not?"
  
  He doesn't even hesitate a second to respond.
  
  "The Butcher leads the Teeth. That is absolute. The Butcher. Leads. The Teeth."
  
  I open my mouth to rebuke, to tell him that being a Clown isn't even slightly restrictive. I mean, we already have one member who is leading a large organisation, or at least a soon to be large one.
  
  But he cuts me off before I can even start.
  
  "The Butcher 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 leads the Teeth. That is all, the Teeth is all. I cannot join anyone else. Sorry Lucy, but this is just the way it is." He explains, putting a hand on my shoulder as he does so and I am unashamed to admit how I lean into the touch.
  
  I guess you can't have everything.
  
  Luckily for me, the scene below changes as the Teeth manage to surprise March and catch her off guard, quickly resulting in the fight going downhill for her.
  
  No doubt she'll be down and out in a minute or so.
  
  "Welp!" I exclaim, pushing back my negative thoughts and focusing back on what's important. Having fun. "I guess that's our que huh?~"
  
  He follows me as I get to my feet and head for the opposite side of the building to where the others are fighting and jump off.
  
  by the time I land on the ground, he's already there, waiting for me.
  
  "So!~ How do you want to go about this?~" I ask, referencing how we are going to sell that we were totally fighting this whole time and not just chatting.
  
  Instead of responding verbally, he reaches forward and takes hold of my forearm.
  
  Suddenly, a bad feeling settles in my gut, one that only increases when I look up at him and see the evil smile on his face.
  
  "We can talk about this.. right?" I plead with a smile.
  
  "Nope." Is all he says before his muscles all suddenly tense.
  
  Well fuck.
  
  Is all I have time to think before my feet leave the ground and I rapidly start expelling mass from all of my 'sources' to wrap around my body.
  
  I smash through the first wall before I can really grow anything and I feel most of my bones break and rapidly heal but by the time I hit the second my ribbons and wings are out and wrapped around me.
  
  By the time he lets me go and I feel myself flying through another wall and into the open street I have my arms covered, though I leave out my tail and body armour.
  
  Mostly because I know that we're not really going to fight, but also because I feel like I should save my armour for impactful moments, like a trump card that the villain pulls out right when victory is in sight for the heroes.
  
  Plus the armour drains me way faster than anything else.
  
  Don't get me wrong, I could last a good hour or so going all out, but I would be 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 after the fact and I don't exactly need the boost it gives me right now, so I just don't bother.
  
  The fighting on the street comes to a stop as I get to my feet, unravelling myself like one fucked up flower in bloom.
  
  March quickly hobbles in my direction, an arrow sticking out of her thigh, while the Teeth just stare uncomfortably at me, most of them also injured.
  
  𝘉𝘢𝘯𝘨!
  
  The Butcher appears as dramatically as he always does, with an explosion, and we have a short stare down, only the two of us knowing that we aren't going to suddenly start fighting.
  
  Then he just turns away from me with a grunt and starts walking away. I barely catch him start calling his Teeth useless as they leave and I turn to March with a smile.
  
  "D'you have fun!?~" I excitedly ask, jumping towards her like a happy dog.
  
  Pausing for a moment at the thought, I start waggling my ribbons back and forth like a dog, making March bark out a quick laugh, followed by a wince of pain.
  
  No doubt because of the pointy object unconsensually penetrating her body.
  
  Heh.
  
  "Honestly?" She starts, taking a moment to get her breathing under control. "Hell yeah I did! That was awesome! I kicked that one guy in the face and made the dog guy turn the blood girls power off and I kicked 𝘩𝘦𝘳 in the face only because the bow bitch got distracted by one of my bombs I threw at her earlier and then sword guy couldn't even 𝘩𝘪𝘵 me!"
  
  She only stops vomiting words because she runs out of breath and she just stands there panting, looking mildly embarrassed about her enthusiasm but I can tell that she's smiling under her mask and that makes me smile in return.
  
  "It 𝘪𝘴 fun, isn't it?" I respond, making her relax, knowing I'm not going to judge her which makes me mentally roll my eyes, thinking about teenagers and how much they seem to crave affirmation. "Now, while I am glad you enjoyed yourself, and I 𝘢𝘮 happy about that, you are injured and don't have my heeling powers, so lets get you some treatment yeah?"
  
  She nods tiredly and takes a step only to immediately fall, only avoiding kissing the pavement because of me expecting this and catching her.
  
  "Tch tch, just go to sleep. I'll take care of things." I soothe as I gather in my arms in a princess carry.
  
  Before long she takes my advice, probably out of a mix of simple exhaustion, since she is a child and isn't used to this kind of high intensity stuff, and light blood loss.
  
  I just shake my head with a sigh as I start walking us back home.
  
  I'm sure Uppercrust has plenty of people with medical training. Maybe even someone who does coaching that I can hire to teach March how to fight and get into shape when I'm gone.
  
  I do stop once, only for a moment to look behind me at the direction the Butcher left.
  
  𝘚𝘪𝘨𝘩
  
  You really can't have everything.
  
  Then I look down at the sleeping Clown in my arms and a light smile replaces my melancholic features.
  
  But just because we can't have everything, that doesn't mean that what we've got isn't awesome by itself.
  
  A/N: He~llo! Dear readers!
  
  Fyi, the title is a reference that only the Real Ones™ will get, and to those of you that get it, THAT'S RIGHT BABY! WE'RE GOING ALL THE WAY BACK FOR THOSE ELECTRIC BOOGALOO'S BITCH!
  
  Also, I am finally starting to be capable of light parrying in For Honor. I don't doubt that the vast majority of you will have no idea what that really means, but for those of you that do I hope you will understand just how happy I am about this, especially since my console is old so the indicators always come in late and I have to heavy before I even see a hint of read
  
  Also, (5+)Advance chapters with the links I'm not allowed to fully type!
  
  pat reon /user?u=41732867
  
  or
  
  ko - fi /bored_works
  
  Also, join the discord with this invite code! Pj3Dttwses
  
  previous chapternext chapterchapter list
  65 Interlude: Uppercrust
  Uppercrust is a businessman.
  
  Those of a lesser mind might equate him to just another gang lord, but they would be fools.
  
  But he has always been a businessman. Back before the Elite was formed and they were just a collection of parahumans trying to make a living off of their powers.
  
  Now, every single one of the original members of Uppermost, the group that proceeded the Elite, are dead, leaving only Uppercrust.
  
  Now the group he is a part of, the Elite, is nothing like what it used to be, the leaders either replaced or retired to allow more cutthroat, callous, 𝘵𝘩𝘶𝘨𝘴 to take the helm.
  
  All Uppercrust can do is keep a healthy distance from the rest of the Elite, which is why he set up on the east coast, despite the Elite controlling the vast majority of the west coast.
  
  As a businessman, he is always happy when he makes a good deal, or finds a good business partner.
  
  Suffice to say, Uppercrust is feeling rather quite happy recently.
  
  It all started with a strange new cape walking through his doors.
  
  It's not often that a parahuman manages to garner such a fearsome reputation so quickly, so she was certainly worth hearing out.
  
  At first his men were worried, saying he shouldn't meet her personally, because she is dangerous and might do something foolish.
  
  But they are all blind to what I see, or perhaps simply inexperienced.
  
  I have seen many, many capes come and go over the years and one thing he has come to learn is that a lot of them aren't very intelligent.
  
  Yet what that Tear did? Setting up a confrontation with over twenty capes that left the majority of them dead or dying while getting out relatively unscathed?
  
  That kind of thing takes planning. It takes brains, plus a helping of skill.
  
  So I knew she wasn't as uncontrollable as people were making her out to be, it's the only reason I agreed to meet with her in the first place.
  
  Yet, even that did not prepare me for the person who showed up at my door.
  
  I expected many things from her and prepared for each of those eventualities, yet I still ended up being caught flat footed with the person I received.
  
  She wasn't baring her teeth to the world, being aggressive or throwing her weight, real or imagined, around. She wasn't making threats or acting as if she believes herself above us.
  
  Which is good, because that was the worst thing that could have happened.
  
  But neither was she new and uncertain, unsure of herself and how to act in these kinds of dealings like most people are for the first time, and I have no doubt that this was the first time she's been in this type of interaction.
  
  Neither was she scheming and twofaced, nor was she even remotely uncomfortable with the situation. In fact, she really seemed to be in her element when the discussions began.
  
  But what I actually found, was a woman who knew exactly what they were doing.
  
  She knew what she wanted and she knew exactly how to get it, all without showing an ounce of weakness and somehow managing to avoid insulting me or the Elite at the same time.
  
  Anyone who knows anything about negotiations and power plays knows that it's a fine line to tread between showing strength and insulting the other party.
  
  Yet, she managed to do so perfectly enough for me to suspect that she has a Thinker power helping her.
  
  Though, over the years I've gotten rather skilled at spotting Thinkers and I am pretty sure that she isn't one and that it's just natural intelligence, which just makes it even more impressive.
  
  And her opening move was a masterpiece of interpretive communication that almost made me want to applaud her for it.
  
  With just the simple act of sitting down, she set the tone for not just the ensuing conversation but for all future interactions we may have together. Truly magnificent.
  
  But I think the part that surprised me most was simply when she walked through the door with Hideout.
  
  Because I could tell from a glance that Hideout was, while not completely comfortable, relatively relaxed.
  
  Relaxed?
  
  I know for a fact that she was terrified of the mere thought of meeting the 'Cannibal of Columbus', yet 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘩𝘰𝘸 Tear managed to eliminate that fear almost entirely and actually make a good impression on someone who already had a bad impression of her.
  
  That shows a level of charisma that is incredibly rare, to so easily make someone with such a bad opinion of you to someone who is, if not friendly then at least cordial.
  
  Again, it left me suspecting that she has more powers than she lets on, but once again I believe that it's simply all her.
  
  Frankly, it makes me relieved that she is so open to communication, because I really, 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 do not like the idea of making an enemy of her.
  
  Because despite what I said, I fully believe that she could singlehandedly do more damage to the Elite than the protectorate has ever done, if only because she wouldn't care about the repercussions.
  
  Yes, she is an incredibly dangerous individual, but she is a rational one and someone who can be dealt with, which makes her an asset.
  
  And what an asset she has shown herself to be.
  
  Typically when the Butcher makes his rounds to the Big Apple our profits tank by at least 30% for the month and we barely bring the margin back up before the Butcher is back again.
  
  30% is a very large amount of money with how much we pull in being the biggest gang in New York.
  
  Yet, despite this, just by hiring Tear to keep the Butcher away for a month, we actually managed to make a 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘪