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A Darker Path [Worm Fanfic]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, Aug 27, 2022.

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  1. FictionPack

    FictionPack Making the rounds.

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    Once the video goes public, Atropos will make killing the S9 look easy, and make her own S Class threat rating official.
     
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  2. Oddboy

    Oddboy The Trash Cat

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    Shit, Mannequin died hard. A well earned death perhaps, given his many, many crimes, but it was unsettling how Taylor psychologically shattered a hardened psychopath killer so thoroughly he killed himself out of sheer guilt and despair.

    I bet more than a few people will only feel grim satisfaction, though... I'm sure he left behind many grieving relatives and friends.

    They all did. Whatever fate Atropos delivers, they've earned. The only one I have any pity for is Bonesaw, and she's... well, Bonesaw. Actually acting on that pity is dangerous.

    This is how you know Dragon is a person. A sense of humor and spite. :p
     
  3. MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot

    MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot Not too sore, are you?

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    I'm actually a bit surprised it didn't just cause Mannequin to second trigger. It wasn't just "like" his first trigger event, it was the same!
     
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  4. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    No, that wasn't his trigger event. He'd triggered as Sphere, years before. That was just his breaking event.
     
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  5. Thorgon

    Thorgon Making the rounds.

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    this photo is going to be one of the most popular photos ever
     
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  6. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    It is kinda gonna go viral.
     
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  7. MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot

    MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot Not too sore, are you?

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    Ahh, right. He was already a parahuman. My bad.
     
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  8. Highlord

    Highlord I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Hopefully there's no pity party for Bonesaw.
     
  9. Lovhes

    Lovhes Getting sticky.

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    That photo sounds like one that can be an album cover image. Atropos and the nine's slaughter sounds like a metal enough album name.
     
  10. MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot

    MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot Not too sore, are you?

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    At the very least on PHO.
     
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  11. Lokdal75

    Lokdal75 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I need to be able to give more than just a single "Like"
    This has been a very dark power trip that is funny, ironic and pointed at the same time.

    Much <3 for sharing this with us.
     
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  12. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Much like Atropos ;)
     
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  13. Threadmarks: Part Twenty-One: Three, Two, One, Zero ...
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    A Darker Path

    Part Twenty-One: Three, Two, One, Zero

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



    PRT Building ENE

    Director Piggot's Office


    Emily didn't quite know why she was jittery. There had been no explosions in her city, with or without mushroom clouds, all morning. No call-outs for a sudden case of death for any given bunch of criminals. The local gangs—non-powered, as well as Uber and Leet—were keeping their heads all the way down, which in her own mind was the smartest thing to do with someone like Atropos on the prowl. Nobody wanted to be the first to get her attention.

    Of course, she'd also announced that she would be ending the Nine as a matter of course. It had carried the same kind of casual assurance as someone saying that they'd be spending the day at the Boardwalk. Which suggested to Emily that Atropos would be spending the day out of town, because in order to kill the Nine, she'd have to go to where the Nine were. It wasn't as though she could give them the glare of death from a thousand miles away or something.

    Still, she had the impending feeling that the other shoe was about to drop, and it was getting stronger all the time. Maybe those late nights I had screwed with my head. It wouldn't have surprised her in the slightest. The job was not conducive to mental well-being at the best of times.

    Her inbox pinged. She glanced that way, and it was from Renick; the title read, 'You have to see this'.

    The unprofessional tone was what warned her. Paul Renick was always formal in his communications to her. Something was going on, and all her foreboding suddenly made sense. Moving the mouse, she clicked the email to open it.

    It was a single image. She knew the type; nosecone cameras on missiles took them just before impact, to verify a good kill. There were the crosshairs, indicating the point of aim … which happened to be Crawler's open mouth. With Hatchet Face directly above him. Missiles wouldn't normally affect Crawler (unless they were an exotic Tinker tech warhead) but Hatchet Face's presence entirely derailed that.

    Off to the side was Atropos, very sensibly going for cover. Emily even recognised the fact that she had her thumbs in her ears, so as to save her eardrums. Smart girl.

    Having taken in the individual details, Emily took the time to survey the image as a whole. Atropos had engaged the Nine; there was no other interpretation. The notation on the image showed that Dragon had fired the missile, and the time-date stamp was … one minute ago.

    And then her eye fell on the latitude and longitude of the designated coordinates for the missile's aimpoint. They went all the way down to the fractions of a second. This had been a missile pre-loaded with coordinates to place it within inches of where it was supposed to be. Dragon was good, but she wasn't that good. I'm betting that Atropos supplied the coordinates.

    And then she looked at the numbers again, and blinked. Wait a minute … those coordinates gave a location inside Brockton Bay. On the outskirts, to be sure, and in an area that was only technically part of the city anymore … but Atropos hadn't left town to go to the Nine. They had come to her.

    That was when she started swearing.

    <><>​

    Atropos

    Even thirty feet away, on the other side of a car, with my thumbs blocking my ears, the explosion was way too loud. But I knew the ringing would go away soon enough, and my power would be able to compensate for it, so that was okay. When I poked my head up, my first impression was that there had been a whole lot of Crawler, and now he was everywhere.

    Just behind me, stuck in the side of the building, was Hatchet Face's axe. The asshole himself was lying groaning about twenty yards away, covered in bits of Crawler. The explosion seemed to have shaken him up, but he wasn't actually injured in any significant way.

    That was fine. I intended to remedy that situation myself.

    Standing up, I braced my foot on the wall and pulled the axe free. The Snitch emerged from wherever it had been hiding, and followed behind as I stalked toward Hatchet Face. He and I had a play date, and I intended for it to be his last.

    He'd gotten through all of his previous encounters with capes by being a cheating cheater, as I'd noted before. Ranged capes had to deal with his impressive durability; I doubted that even being dropped off a building would make much of an impression on him. Meanwhile, anyone (except me) who got within the radius of his no-power aura would suddenly be a normal up against a super-strong asshole with an axe. Which was the way he liked it.

    Well, sorry (not sorry), but he wasn't going to get everything his own way. Or anything, really. Not anymore.

    His skin was tough, sure. I wasn't going to be able to cut through it, even with his axe. But it was flexible. No hard carapace, here. Underneath, even though he undoubtedly had an impressively high pain threshold, he still had a nervous system. And the human nervous system came with all sorts of exploits just waiting for me to make use of them.

    Not with my own fists and feet, of course. I could punch and kick him all day, and barely tickle him. But he'd thoughtfully supplied me with a long wooden handle equipped with a heavy metal weight on one end. I wasn't Archimedes, and Hatchet Face wasn't the world, but this lever was definitely long enough for me to move him to where I wanted him to go.

    Specifically, the morgue.

    I wouldn't even need to use the sharp edge.

    Hefting the axe, I strode over toward where he lay.

    Batter up, asshole.

    <><>​

    Hatchet Face

    Motherfucker.

    I am going to murder her in ways that give me fucking nightmares.


    Head ringing, he lay there, covered in bits and pieces of Crawler. They'd never been close, but being a member of the Slaughterhouse Nine had a tight-knit pride all of its own. You earned your membership in blood, and you only left if someone had the audacity and the capability to kill you.

    He didn't know how Atropos had blown Crawler the fuck up, but he was going to make her pay for it in spades, even if Bonesaw had to bring her back to life a dozen times before he was satisfied. Raising himself to one elbow, he rubbed shit from the explosion out of his good eye—yet another reason to be pissed at that black-dressed little cocksucker—and began to look around … just in time to catch a tremendous blow to the face that smashed his nose in.

    Eye filling with tears, he fell onto his back, hand coming up to cup his throbbing face and caved-in cartilage. "What th' fuck?" he mumbled.

    He hadn't yet recovered from that before another thundering impact rocked his head sideways, sending his brain sloshing around in his skull. He tried to pull himself together, lashing out blindly, but he contacted nothing. The next hammer-blow smashed into his ear on the other side, compressing the air in his ear canal painfully and coming close to bursting his eardrum.

    He'd always prided himself on being able to take a beating, but this was ridiculous. Being smacked around like a piñata, not being able to catch his bearings between one hit and the next, that wasn't his thing. He was the one who dealt out the damage, not the other guy.

    Forcing himself to roll over despite his jangled wits, he pushed himself up into a crouch, head hanging down. Out of the corner of his good eye, he caught the faintest flicker of black before the next smashing impact caught him on the base of the skull in a classic rabbit-punch, dropping him face-first into the gory dirt once more.

    It was more pure blind stubbornness that made him get up again. Apart from his nose, he wasn't injured as far as he could tell, but his skull was well and truly rattled, and it was getting harder and harder to make his limbs do what he wanted. But if he could just get his hands on Atropos ...

    This time, he made it all the way up onto his knees before his vision cleared and he saw her standing before him, hefting his axe. He began to sneer at her; not only for not being strong enough to use it one-handed, but also for holding it the wrong way around. She side-stepped his grab like they'd choreographed it ahead of time, then she swung the axe in a deadly blur. Blunt though the back of it might be, it still hit him in the throat hard enough to make him choke and fall over backward.

    He found he could still breathe, barely, as she loomed over him and spoke for the first time.

    "I've only had to do this once before. She was an annoying little bitch, too. But she was on her second warning, so she got a pass. You're all out."

    Before he could find his voice to curse at her, or say anything really, she slammed the head of the axe down into his solar plexus. His eye widened and his mouth gaped open as his difficulty with breathing became a total inability. Fuck! Fuck! What did she do? This was some Bonesaw-level shit, and he had no idea how to get out of it.

    As his hands twitched feebly and his eye rolled in its socket, he saw her nod toward the little floating sphere he'd seen before. "Five down, three to go." Then she set off at a steady jog, out of his line of sight.

    The last thing he heard as the darkness closed in was her receding footsteps.

    Fuuuck ...

    And then there was nothing.

    <><>​

    Bonesaw

    Jack's head came up, just as Riley heard what she thought was Hatchet Face shouting. It was probably something rude, she decided. He was always being rude when he thought he could get away with it.

    "… something's going on," Jack said. "I think there's a fight."

    "Is it a cape, like Hatchet Face said?" asked Riley.

    Jack tilted his head, as though listening to something far away. "… no. I'm not sure what's happening, but I don't think—"

    The explosion shook the ground and raised a cloud of oily smoke, several blocks away. Riley stared at it, then at Jack. "What was that?"

    Now Jack actually looked concerned. This was a new expression for him. "I think it might be the PRT, to be honest. They must have tangled with our friends. No capes involved, or very few."

    "Who won?" Jack would know. He always knew.

    "We're leaving," Jack decided. "Now. No more waiting." He turned and hustled Riley toward the RV.

    "What about the others?" Riley wanted to know. "Why aren't we waiting for them?"

    "Because they aren't coming." He more or less lifted her on board. "Strap in, poppet. We're going to be driving far and fast."

    She was too used to obeying his commands to argue. A good girl always did as she was told. As she was clicking the belt into the latch, Jack yanked the door shut—the Siberian was already in the RV—and settled into the driver's seat. The engine burst harshly to life, and he pushed it roughly into gear.

    What did he mean, they're not coming? How could something kill them all? Especially Crawler?

    The RV started off slowly, gradually accelerating over the potholed asphalt. Riley could feel the suspension creaking and groaning as Jack tried to force the massive vehicle to do something it wasn't suited to.

    Then she heard Jack swear.

    <><>​

    Atropos

    I knew which way they'd come in by, and which road led back to the highway, so I probably could've figured out which way they'd go when Jack lost his nerve and tried to flee. With my power giving me a helping hand, I not only had that down, but also the precise second I could step out onto the road, pistol levelled. And as it happened, the escape route wasn't all that far from where Hatchet Face was resting in peace, and Crawler was resting in pieces.

    Jack accelerated of course, swerving to aim directly at me. I could see him struggling to open his window, so he could lean out with a knife. The big RV, engine chuntering, bucked and rollicked through the potholes on a more or less direct course for me.

    I fired four shots in quick succession.

    Two went into the windshield, one on either side of Jack's head. Aiming at his head would've been useless, unless I made a very difficult shot; possible, but not in my plans. The entire pane of safety glass, of course, immediately crazed all the way across, making visibility a thing of the past.

    My next two shots hit the passenger side front wheel, one blowing the valve stem clear off. The tyre began to deflate rapidly, catching Jack unawares and forcing the RV to veer sharply. Then I took three quick paces; not back into the alley I'd come from, but out into the street.

    The RV blew past me and rammed into an electricity pole, going from a relatively sedate twenty miles per hour to a dead stop in an instant of time. It subsided, the front end more or less wrapped around the pole, the engine dying on the spot. The only way it was going to be moving again would be with outside assistance.

    I re-holstered my pistol and pulled another small item from my pocket—a metal ring with a bent metal pin attached to it—as the side door opened and the Siberian emerged. In the distance, as the RV's engine cooled with ticks and pops, I heard another engine kick over.

    The tiger-striped woman moved up to me in almost stop-motion fashion, her razor-sharp nails crooked like claws. I didn't try to flee, or even draw a weapon. "I'm sorry," I said.

    She tilted her head sideways, as though trying to convey that all the 'sorry' in the world would do me no good right now.

    "No," I clarified. "I'm saying sorry because I don't have a funny or witty or ironic death for you. I'm just going to kill you." I gently spun the ring on my finger, so the pin went around and around. "Here," I said, and tossed it to her.

    She automatically caught it and stared at it for a moment. Then her eyes came up to meet mine, as I drew the shears and held them up between us. Deliberately, I snipped at the air, with a sound of metal sliding on metal. "Goodbye."

    Her eyes went very wide, then she popped like a soap bubble. As the grenade pin fell to the ground, I heard the distant explosion of the grenade I'd taken it from; the one I'd carefully set up under William Manton's van before doubling back to intercept Crawler and Hatchet Face. A small fireball climbed into the sky, about ten blocks away.

    Oni Lee, I suspected, would be pleased with that, if nothing else.

    It was time for weapons again. I drew the pistol with my left hand. This time I had both Bonesaw and Jack Slash upset with me, but seriously, I'd warned them. What did they expect, coming to my city after I'd said I was going to kill them? A stern warning not to do it again?

    Bonesaw stepped into the doorway at the same time as Jack Slash came around the front of the bus. She pointed, and a swarm of spider-bots poured past her, scuttling in my direction. Jack brought up the sharp-looking knife in his hand, aiming to disarm and then cripple me. Aww, he thinks he can bend me to his will and have Bonesaw remake me. That's almost cute.

    I had twelve rounds left in the pistol, and Bonesaw had fifteen spider-bots. Each one was independently active and was armed with a neurotoxin that would paralyse me almost instantly. Off to my right, Jack Slash was highly skilled with his knife, and knew just where to cut for the greatest effect.

    Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath. In my mind's eye swarmed the fifteen dots as they came toward me. One leaped at me, and I fired; the bullet went through it and one of its fellows. More came at me, climbing over each other in their eagerness. My pistol twitched back and forth, each shot taking a toll of the opposition. As I disposed of them, I moved closer, step by deliberate step.

    Neither was my right hand idle. Jack's power swept over me, doing its level best to slice through my costume and draw blood. Unlike the other aspect of his power, which my power was currently glaring at and tapping a fist into its palm, this could actually hurt me if I chose to let it.

    I didn't choose to let it.

    The bodice shears I'd stolen from Kaiser's collection mere days ago (and were now counted among my most prized possessions) were made from solid high-quality steel. I could feel the impact of Jack's power as I used the shears to block it, like a gentle pressure trying to nudge past the obstacle. No matter where his cutting-effect went, I either wasn't there or had the shears in the way. From the way he was swinging the knife back and forth, he was getting more and more aggravated all the time.

    Not that I could really blame him. He'd been playing the cape game on easy mode all his life, and now he was facing a deathmatch-level player. Being thrown in at the deep end like this would leave anyone feeling somewhat aggrieved.

    Not that I really gave a fuck about his feelings. Welcome to what my world used to be like.

    When the last of the spider-bots fell, I still had two bullets left and I was just a couple of paces from Bonesaw. Still fending off Jack's ever more desperate attacks with my right hand, I lunged forward. She came to meet me, fingernails popping metallic extensions which were no doubt treated with some horrific biotoxin or other.

    I faked to the left, evading her attacks, then went to the right. A quick flip of the wrist sent my pistol spinning into the air, further distracting Bonesaw, then I reached out and grabbed the tool I needed from a pocket in her bloodstained apron. Specifically, a long, sharp medical probe.

    While she was still reacting to the theft, I stabbed it into her ear canal, all the way into her brain. Her eyes rolled up into her head almost immediately, even as I was pulling it out again, and she collapsed on the spot. Discarding the probe, I caught the pistol again and fired a single unnecessary shot into her skull.

    Unnecessary in that it wouldn't do a damn thing to her, given how armoured her bones were. But the fact of the shot, and her stillness thereafter, would serve to convince nearly everyone that she was dead. As a matter of fact, she was merely unconscious; I'd used the probe to give her hypothalamus a good nudge, damaging the part that regulated sleep. She would be out like a light for the foreseeable future, which left me free to concentrate on Jack Slash himself.

    Turning toward him, I deliberately started forward. "That makes seven." Almost casually, I deflected another attempt at slicing me open. My pace was nice and steady, all the better to intimidate him. "Your turn, Jack. How do you want it?"

    Even before he opened his mouth, I knew the bullshit was about to start flowing. It was his modus operandi, his bread and butter. Mastering capes with his voice was how he'd survived for so long.

    Unfortunately for him, every time his power tried to get its hooks into me, it was met with the equivalent of a nail-studded baseball bat. My power didn't play. He had to be trying to figure out why he wasn't getting any hunches about me ... but once again, I gave no shits whatsoever.

    "Ahh ... you're very good at what you do. I can totally respect that." It wasn't the best start in the world, but he was used to being able to cheat, so I didn't deduct as many marks as I might have.

    "You've never respected another human being in your life. Lie to me again, and you die." He was going to die anyway, so I was telling the technical truth. The best kind, in my opinion. "What are you doing in my city? I believe I already put the word out that I was going to kill you. Just how stupid are you, anyway?"

    It wasn't a warm day, but I could see a sheen of sweat on his forehead. "I ... uh ... the truth of the matter is, we weren't coming to kill you. We wanted to recruit you."

    "Recruit?" I repeated the word with all the enthusiasm I would use for handling a thoroughly deceased skunk. "What on earth gave you the idea that I would allow a bunch of losers like you to associate with me? Your methods are tacky, self-defeating, pointless and utterly lacking in anything resembling a sense of style. Hell, I wouldn't recruit you, let alone allow you to recruit me."

    His eyes flared at that. I'd attacked his pride, which wasn't difficult; it was the easiest target on him. His ego should've been visible from space. "Now, hold on there—!"

    As he raised his voice, he spun his knife, then tried to use his cutting attack again. Firing from the hip, I shot the knife from his hand, the blade shattering in mid-air. At the same time, I surged forward, getting right up into his face. My shears pricked at the flesh under his jaw.

    He froze. I knew he had subdermal mesh, and he knew he had subdermal mesh, but he couldn't be absolutely certain that I was unable to punch the shears up into his brain anyway. Or kill him in half a dozen other painful or unforeseen ways; Lung's demise had certainly taught all and sundry to be wary of me.

    Also, he'd seen me vanish the Siberian with a snip of the shears, but he hadn't seen the grenade pin or figured out how I'd defended myself against his attack. For all he knew, they were a piece of ungodly powerful Tinkertech that could disintegrate him at a thought.

    "You get a one-minute head start, Jack," I said quietly. "And that's being generous. Go."

    He tried briefly to stare me down, but it wasn't exactly an option to use on someone who was wearing a morph mask. Then abruptly, he turned and bolted.

    I was in no hurry. Strolling into the alley, I retrieved Hatchet Face's axe from where I'd stashed it behind an ancient dumpster. Then I reloaded the pistol, waited exactly one minute, and set out at a steady jog. Not in pursuit; the word suggested a chase of some kind. Instead, I went to where he'd be.

    <><>​

    Jacob

    Jack Slash ran for his life. Sweat dripping into his eyes, breath rasping in his lungs, he forced himself onward, looking for someplace he could hide and maybe ambush Atropos from surprise. Recruiting her was no longer on the table; she'd torn through his entire line-up like a bandsaw on steroids, and there was no indication that she felt like being any more merciful to him.

    Staggering into a narrow alleyway, he leaned against the wall and tried to catch his breath. It wasn't fair; he was never the one who had to run for his life. That was the victim's job. What he'd usually consider a fun and bracing diversion was no such thing when seen from the other side.

    The pause gave him a chance to think. If I double back, I can get behind her. All I need to do is catch her off guard just once.

    Looking up gave him the clue he needed to put his plan into action. A fire escape, rusty and partially fallen apart, hung almost to ground level. Its saving grace had been the narrowness of the alley; where it was detached from the wall on one side, it was able to lean against the other.

    Seizing the rungs, he began to climb upward, careful to minimise the amount of creaking. The higher he got without Atropos appearing at either end of the alleyway, the more confidence he regained. Think you're so smart, do you? Well, I've been doing this since before you were born.

    Finally, he scrambled up onto the roof, his hands scraped and sore from the rough metal. Two of his nails were broken, and the sleeve of his dress shirt was torn. You're going to die, just for that. Drawing a knife, he kept low by instinct and circled around the perimeter of the rooftop, looking out for a black-dressed figure or a bobbing sphere. Neither one appeared, which meant she'd probably passed him by altogether.

    A lesser man would've given up on getting the better of her and simply left Brockton Bay for greener pastures and the chance to start rebuilding the Nine, but Jack Slash was cut from tougher cloth than that. He had been winning against capes since the beginning of his career, when he killed King for the leadership of the Nine, and he didn't intend to stop now. He thought he'd figured out her secret already, and he was going to kill her then display her corpse for all of Brockton Bay to see.

    "Think you're so smart, don't you?" he muttered to himself as he used a tanto knife to force open the rusting door at the top of the stairwell. "A normal using Tinkertech to pretend to have powers. Well, you're not the first one to think of that. Not by a long shot. Once I figure out how to get around your tech, you're going to be just as dead as everyone else who's come up against me."

    Cautiously, guiding himself with one hand against the wall, he descended into the shadowed depths of the building. A little light filtered through here and there, but most of the windows were boarded up to one degree or another, so it mainly served to accentuate the darkness. He breathed carefully, trying not to inhale dust; the last thing he wanted was for a random sneeze to alert his pursuer.

    When he reached the first floor, he took up a position around the corner from the main entrance. The front door was barely open, with a thin line of light spilling onto the floor within. He'd know if she passed by, or if she tried to gain entry. Either way, he could attack from surprise, and she'd never see it coming.

    Savouring the moment of atavism, he worked his fingers on the hilt of the knife. The moment she let him out of her sight, she'd signed her own death certificate. He had the advantage now, and he wasn't going to let it go—

    From right behind him, a voice murmured, "Dark in here, isn't it?"

    <><>​

    Atropos

    He froze for half a second, then with a scream partly composed of anger and partly of terror, he pivoted toward me, knife hand coming around. I ducked under the effect of his blade, then swung the axe. The difference between our two attacks? He thought he knew my location, whereas I definitely knew his. More specifically, I knew where his wrist was going to be.

    He'd been armoured and reinforced by Bonesaw, but only so much could be done for his wrist. When a heavy axe propelled by a moderately determined set of muscles encounters the delicate collection of bones and ligaments that make up the average adult's wrist, it's usually the wrist that gives way.

    His hand separated from the rest of him and fell to the floor, the knife clattering alongside it. At that moment, his scream hit a decidedly higher pitch, going from 'terror plus anger' to 'oh my god what happened to my hand'. "Fuuck!" he shrieked as I wrenched the axe from where it had buried itself in the wall. "What did you do? What did you do?"

    I'd kind of thought that was obvious. "I cut your hand off, duh. Might want to put some pressure on that, it's going to start bleeding badly in a moment."

    Once my words penetrated his consciousness, he actually reacted correctly. Maybe his decades as America's most hated murderhobo had actually instilled some useful skills, after all. More or less tearing off his shirt with his left hand, he wrapped it tightly around the stump of his right wrist and pulled it tight. Blood soaked through it immediately, of course, but he wouldn't bleed out in the next few minutes.

    Once he had it secured as well as he was going to, he turned to me. "I'm not getting medical attention, am I?"

    "No," I said quietly. "You are not."

    "You were waiting in here for me, weren't you?" There was still a spark of the old Jack there, keeping a lookout for a chance, but he wasn't reaching for a knife just yet.

    "Yeah. Came in through the front door while you were climbing the other side."

    The conclusion had to be obvious. He might've been an unrepentant mass murderer, but he wasn't stupid. "You … knew where I'd be. You knew where we'd all be."

    I swung the axe up to rest across my shoulders. "It wasn't all that hard to figure out. Honestly, Jack, you're getting predictable in your old age."

    He let out the ghost of a pained snort. "Not that predictable. You're like me. A monster who knows how to read people. So, why are you opposing me? If we were on the same side, we could be so much greater than the sum of our parts."

    And there it came once more; the inevitable attempt to turn this around with his infamous silver tongue. As my power smacked his power across the face, it was my turn to chuckle dryly. "Hardly. You flatter yourself if you think you're anything like me. I set you on this Path the moment I killed Oni Lee and announced myself, and you've followed every footstep ever since like a good little puppet, right to this moment. As for being a monster, we're still nothing alike."

    "Monsters are still monsters, no matter how they pretty themselves up," he argued. "You're just playing the nice guy for the peanut gallery. One day, you'll realise that they only like you for what they can get from you. You should start taking your due now, rather than waiting until it's almost too late." I could feel him beaming, sure he'd made his point.

    "Oh, I'm definitely a monster," I agreed. "I'm someone who commits atrocities and breaks the social contract on the regular. That's me all over. But what you don't get is the difference between you and me. See, I'm reliable. I announce what I'm going to do, and I do it. I warn people if they're a problem for me, and I let them live if they change their ways. You kill people for fun, at random, for no good reason except that you want to see their blood run down your blade. All that effort does nothing but earn you negative press, which makes the whole thing self-defeating. Not to mention, tacky as fuck."

    "Oh, I see," he sneered. "A monster with a code. How very dreary. Did you give Oni Lee any kind of warning before you shot him in the face? How about us? Or do you just break your code whenever it's convenient?"

    I had to chuckle. "You don't get it, do you? Oni Lee was the warning, to everyone in Brockton Bay. You're the warning to everyone outside of it. As for codes? I don't have one. Codes can be manipulated and exploited. I just do what works, to keep my life as simple as possible."

    "Still boring," he challenged me. "I've splashed the reputation of the Slaughterhouse Nine in blood across the public consciousness for more than two decades. They'll forget you the day after you hang up the mask, but they'll be scared of me for years to come."

    "No," I said. "They won't. You see, Jack, I don't just kill people. I end things. And one of the things I'll be ending is your legacy. Your reputation. By the time I'm finished with you, you'll be nothing but a footnote, a cautionary tale: 'Don't be an idiot. Don't be like Jack Slash'. When the kids play heroes and villains … not even the edgiest of edgelords will want to be you."

    Now, finally, I had penetrated to the core of him. I saw him shake his head, no longer playfully, but desperately. "No," he said. Where he wouldn't plead for his life, he would plead for this. "You wouldn't. You can't."

    Smoothly, I stepped to the side and brought the axe off my shoulders. "I can, I have, I am, and I will. Time to cut this short, Jack."

    "Wait—"

    He turned his head in the darkness, his left hand grabbing for one of the knives he was still wearing, but it was too late. The axe hissed through the air, its carefully honed edge still razor-sharp despite the trials it had been through. It struck squarely between the second and third cervical vertebrae, splitting the armoured mesh and severing his spinal cord.

    Jack Slash fell, a puppet with his strings cut. I put my foot on his back and wrenched the axe out, then struck again and again, deepening the first cut. It took some effort to get all the way through the 'improvements' Bonesaw had added to his neck—attempting to cut his throat with anything short of a chainsaw would've been utterly useless—but eventually his head rolled free.

    Picking it up by his hair, I put the axe over my other shoulder, and left the building. The Snitch hummed out after me. I took a moment to enjoy the afternoon sunlight, then headed back toward the RV.

    Nothing had disturbed the scene, and Bonesaw still lay half-in, half-out of the vehicle as though she'd just lain down for a nap. Her fingernail extensions had automatically retracted, which was a good thing; I didn't want to risk anyone getting hurt. I dropped Jack's head beside the RV, then put the axe down for a moment. It took me both hands to sling Bonesaw over my shoulder, and one to steady her once she was in place; she was heavy, but I wasn't going to be carrying her far.

    Turning to the tiny floating ball, I gestured with my free hand. "Show's over," I said.

    Obediently, it stopped recording and headed off toward where Dragon was still waiting patiently. The PRT would absolutely want the footage it had gathered. Picking up the axe again, I strolled out of the area, back toward civilisation; or rather, toward the car that had pulled up on a quiet side-street, two minutes ago.

    Dad looked a little askance as I deposited Bonesaw's still-sleeping form on the back seat of the car and pulled a blanket over her. "Do I even want to know?" he asked.

    "Part of ending the legacy of the Nine," I explained as I wrapped the axe head in the cloth I'd left there for just that purpose, and placed it on the floor of the car. Then I removed my hat and mask, and climbed in.

    "And the axe?" He raised an eyebrow.

    "Hatchet Face doesn't need it anymore," I said lightly. "Plus, I just beat him to death with it, and cut off Jack Slash's head. I figure it's earned a break."

    He shuddered slightly. "I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm really not. And what are we going to do with Bonesaw?"

    I grinned. "I've got that sorted. Someone owes me a solid."



    End of Part Twenty-One

    [A/N: Taking a break for the next few days, due to a family thing. Might throw out a couple more posts after I get back, before my next two-week hiatus. We shall see.]
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2022
  14. MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot

    MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot Not too sore, are you?

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    Quick: to the biokinetic!
     
  15. Lovhes

    Lovhes Getting sticky.

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    Ohhh, leet is going to be extremely horrifawed too isn't he? Or is leet's role is rejuvenating the city?
     
  16. Sassy Snake

    Sassy Snake Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Can’t wait to see the reactions to that stream on PHO. Somehow the most horrific part of this was Mannequin committing suicide because of psychological warfare.
     
  17. Lokdal75

    Lokdal75 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Her no selling Jack was glorious and will be amaze balls on camera. Awesome work Ack. Chef’s kisses for this. ‍
     
  18. abyssmal_kismet

    abyssmal_kismet Experienced.

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    Leet doesn't owe her a favor, unless I guess you count letting him live. He's more a commission.

    Nah, the person that owes her a favor is Amy.
     
  19. Cerkai

    Cerkai Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I’m curious what requires Bonesaw to live besides the typical “Oh poor Riley she didn’t deserve being turned into a monster and she can be redeemed, she’s just a child” author fiat from fanfics that love redeeming her and her alone.

    She’s a broken person sure, but so was Mannequin and Atropos cut his strings without a thought and basically by picking at his trauma to the most chilling effect. Atropos has NO heart to give for monsters. And yet….Bonesaw lives. And she is every bit the monster the rest of the S9 were.

    As readers/writers, we know and have seen more about her story, sure, but Atropos in universe knows shit about her situation that wouldn’t be power derived, and we already saw her use power derived knowledge of trauma against Mannequin, so clearly that doesn’t twinge at her conscience.

    So now the author has to sell that whatever path of ending shenanigans caused Atropos to let her live aren’t arbitrary author fiat, because clearly she shouldn’t give any fucks about Riley’s situation if Sphere’s didn’t even twinge at her conscience. Atropos gave the S9 an ultimatum and they didn’t listen. That should kind of be the end of things.

    Not saying it’s not possible, just noting that’s where my head goes when we’re given a Taylor with this powerset and very specific callous personality, to see her spare someone she has every reason to see as an irredeemable monster feels contrived.

    Unless the saving is just temporary and Bonesaw ends up dying too in a later chapter, as that would be an amusing subversion of the usual fandom trope.

    Though with the set-up of ending S9 legacy, I have a lot of suspicion she’s getting redeemed and its going to be the usual fandom trope of save the hitler baby because author/readers love the hitler baby and there won’t even be much of an attempt to sell it because its an established storytelling trope in the fandom. But still hoping there is a reasonable sell for it.
     
  20. woodzrox

    woodzrox Getting sticky.

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    Well, Taylor can only do (improbably timed) things within the limits of her body's capacity, so theoretically, if Riley improved her it would increase the options available to her based on her body's new limits.
     
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  21. ConsiderableHat

    ConsiderableHat Hot glue beard disaster.

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    Ack has said elsenet that Riley got saved because she's potentially useful.

    Others have speculated that the 9 are more comprehensively Ended if all they are is the dark past of a respected hero, the mere ashes from which she rose. Not some dreadful threat that was finally defeated at great peril, a footnote and a mildly embarrassing one at that.
     
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  22. MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot

    MonkeyNinja d'PirateRobot Not too sore, are you?

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    Also, plagues built into her body. Biokinetic can stop that. Murderhappy scissors girl can't. Might be that simple.
     
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  23. Threadmarks: Part Twenty-Two: Negating the Nine
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    A Darker Path

    Part Twenty-Two: Negating the Nine

    [A/N 1: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]

    [AN 2: Just as a point of interest, the first thousand words of this were written at thirty-five thousand feet, on an Embraer 190 flying from Brisbane back up to Townsville.]



    Relevant Side Story

    Dad waited until we were merged with other traffic before he spoke again. "So ... I've got to know. What was the fire extinguisher for? And why did you cut off the spray nozzle?"

    "Well, it was a handy blunt instrument for stunning Shatterbird and smashing her mask to get a piece of glass exactly the right shape," I explained earnestly. "Smooth one way, jagged the other, and just big enough to totally block her airway. Also, it turns out that Burnscar can't breathe carbon dioxide. In fact, it gave her a fatal case of brain-freeze. And frostbite of the lungs, which is apparently a thing."

    "I ... see," he mused, concentrating on traffic. "How about the rest of them? Am I likely to toss my cookies when I find out how you dealt with them?"

    "Hmm." I considered the question. "Don't ask about Mannequin. He didn't have any physical Achilles heels, so I had to get ... nasty with him."

    Dad turned his head to stare at me for half a second, then returned his eyes to the road. "Good God," he muttered. "I saw what you did to Lung and Skidmark. And you're saying you did something nastier than that?"

    "Yeah." I didn't want to overly traumatise him, so I shrugged. "He was already broken. All I had to do was break him a little harder."

    "Right." He shuddered a little. "Should I be feeling sorry for him?"

    "If you want." I turned to look at him. "At the end of the day, Mannequin was human enough to be affected by what I did. He still had regrets and sorrows, mainly because he lost everyone he loved to the Simurgh when he tried to make the world a better place. My sole problem with him was coming to try and recruit or kill me for succeeding where he failed, like he did with every other cape who did the same. If he'd chosen to, say, write apocalyptic novels with creepily sinister overtones instead of joining the Nine, while limiting himself to killing cats and the occasional homeless person, he'd be alive right now."

    Dad frowned. "So ... you wouldn't go after him for that?"

    "Not unless he was doing it in Brockton Bay, no." I could tell he had trouble understanding my motives, and tried to explain. "I'm not setting myself up as a world cop, or even America's protector. That's way too damn tedious. Also, too reactive to be of any real use. If something is going to affect me, I end it. Hurting you or Aisha would affect me, so you're under my umbrella too, but I'm not about to waste time and energy solving problems which don't affect me. Am I making sense to you?"

    "Well, it certainly straddles the line between 'ruthless' and 'pragmatic'," he observed. "Which isn't a bad thing, per se. You've made the world a measurably better place in just one week, which is more than most heroes can claim. And I can't blame you for not wanting to take on all the world's problems."

    I gave him a smile. "Thanks. I knew you'd understand."

    "Anytime." He did his best attempt at a 'cool Dad' voice. "You know I'm here for you."

    "I do know, and I appreciate it." About then, my phone rang. I already had it in my hand, so I answered it. "Atropos."

    "Hello, Atropos." It was Dragon's voice. "My drones have done a search of the area and located six bodies; or partial bodies in Crawler's case. Where are Bonesaw and the Siberian? And who is the dead man in the burning van?"

    "Second question first," I said. "William Manton. Yes, that William Manton. He went mad, got powers, and ended up as a Master with a projection."

    "Siberian." It wasn't a question.

    "Correct on the first try. As for Bonesaw, I have her."

    "I can guarantee you, nobody in the PRT or Protectorate will be comfortable with this state of affairs."

    "I can guarantee you, even fewer people would be comfortable with the diseases that would've escaped her body if I'd killed her, and that will escape her body if she dies without the proper precautions being taken. So, I'm going to deal with this myself. One thing I can promise you without reservation, though."

    "What's that?"

    I permitted myself a grin. "Bonesaw is never returning. No matter what happens, her reign of terror has been permanently ended."

    "And you know how to deal with this?" It was more a plea than a question.

    "I do. Do you trust me to be able to handle it?"

    She sighed. "Damn it, I do. Your performance over the last few days, as horrifying as it was, has taught me that you know what you're doing. Don't make me regret it … please."

    "I won't. I promise." I ended the call. "Dad, could you drop me and Bonesaw off at the same park we went to yesterday? I'll give you a call when I'm ready for pickup."

    "Not a problem." He indicated to change lanes. "Just by the way, those two explosions I heard when I was driving into the area ...?"

    "Crawler and Siberian," I explained. "With those two, I had to go brute-force."

    As I'd expected, he took it in his stride. "Ah."

    <><>​

    Panacea

    Home life was not great for Amy right now. Vicky was still smarting over the absolute tongue-lashing she'd gotten from Carol over destroying the damn picnic table, not to mention attempting to engage Atropos against the PRT's direct orders. As a result, she was making sure not to suffer alone, moping all over the house and bringing the whole mood down.

    What had to be irritating her the most was the implicit understanding that if she'd succeeded in taking down the murderous cape, all would have been forgiven, PRT directive or no. But she hadn't even had a chance; Amy could see it all now. Not only had Atropos toyed with Vicky like a cat teasing a particularly dull-witted mouse, but she'd left her would-be captor with nothing more than bruises and a few lost eyelashes. The message had been clear: 'I can hurt you worse than killing you would ever achieve'.

    Consequently, Vicky was currently grounded, which meant that if Amy wanted to go somewhere, she would have to accept some other mode of transport. Getting out of the house was actually starting to look more and more attractive, given Vicky's foul mood. But she didn't want to hang out by herself at the Boardwalk, and going to the hospital for another round of humdrum healing appealed even less than it normally did.

    As she currently half-lay slumped on the sofa, not even bothering to focus on the show currently playing on the TV, her phone pinged with a text. Hi. Remember that favor? Calling it in - A.

    Her eyes widened. There could only be one person saying this. Still, no sense in taking chances. Who is this?

    Less than half a second after she sent the query, one word popped up on her screen. Quack.

    Ducks. We were feeding the ducks. Atropos didn't mention that on PHO at all. This has got to be legit.

    Or is she having a dig at me about being a healer?

    I can't think about that right now.


    Okay, she typed. What's the favor?

    Return to the scene of the crime,
    Atropos instructed her. All will be revealed.

    This was another indicator that it was indeed Atropos messaging her, given how Westlake Park hadn't been named in the posts either. Atropos hadn't warned her to come alone, but it wasn't like she wanted any witnesses for whatever the villain was forcing her to do. Atropos had stuck to the bargain—not one word of endangering the civilians had made it online—so Amy was going to do likewise with her side of it.

    She had to admit, the descriptor of 'not hugely illegal' did not fill her with confidence, but it wasn't like she'd had a choice in the matter. Vicky had well and truly put her foot in it this time, and it was up to Amy to bail her out ... again.

    Getting up off the sofa, she went and got her coat. "I'm going out for a while," she announced.

    Carol leaned out of her office doorway. "Where are you going?"

    "The park." Amy kept her tone non-committal. "I need to clear my head. I shouldn't be too long."

    Just for a moment, Carol frowned, and Amy thought she was going to forbid it. Then she nodded once, sharply. "Alright. If you see Atropos again, leave the area at once, and call the PRT."

    Several smartass comments vied for supremacy, but Amy suppressed them all. "Don't worry. I have absolutely no desire to be that close to her ever again." It was the literal truth, yet totally misleading about her intentions.

    "Good." Carol vanished again. Her voice drifted out through the open doorway. "Let me know when you're back."

    "Okay." Amy headed for the door, shrugging into her coat. As she went out the door, she pulled out her phone and dialled for a cab. I have no fucking idea what I'm walking into, but I've got this far. Might as well see it through.

    <><>​

    Taylor

    I was perched on the single surviving bench of the (still destroyed) picnic table when Panacea arrived. Her whole attitude radiated nuclear-reactor levels of sheer pissiness, but I couldn't be sure if it was all caused by me or if some was pre-existing. As she stomped in my direction, I stood up and turned to face her.

    "Good afternoon," I said politely. "Would you like to hear the good news or the bad news?"

    She glanced briefly at the blanket-covered form at my feet, then gave me a glare which would've stripped paint at ten paces. "I doubt very much that anything you do ends up as good news. Vicky's in the shit because your little friend had to blab to everyone online what she did."

    "Not everything she did," I corrected her blandly. "And the public will remain unaware of it exactly as long as you want them to. So: good news or bad news first?"

    "Good news." Her jaw was set like granite. "But—"

    "I just ended the Slaughterhouse Nine." I couldn't lie to myself; dropping that bomb was totally deliberate. Panacea was absolutely determined to not react well to me for any reason at all, and I totally wanted to see the look on her face when I did.

    "You … what?" When she realised what I'd said, her look of pure startlement was amazing. "The Nine? You killed them all? That's … that can't be true."

    I held up my hand to stop her. "Not all, not all. I said I ended them. They're all dead except for one." Reaching down, I flicked the blanket off Bonesaw's comfortably sleeping form. "Voila."

    "Jesus Christ!" She literally jumped back about three feet. "You left her fucking alive?"

    "Well, yes." Hadn't I already said so? "She's got reservoirs inside her body set up to release several ludicrously virulent diseases shortly after life signs cease. One of them is even coded with the ability to dissolve plastic and metal, so it will open the way out of sterile lockdown for the rest of them. She's currently unable to wake up—I poked her brain a little bit in the right place—but it might be a great idea for the eastern seaboard if you neutralised the diseases and removed all the after-market optional extras she's implanted herself with."

    "And you didn't turn her over to the PRT to do the same why exactly?"

    I knew she couldn't see me raise an eyebrow, but I did it anyway. "Because you're the one person who can neutralise the threat she poses without turning everywhere from Toronto to Savannah to Chicago into a ghost town."

    "And this is your favour?" she asked bitterly. "Present me with a life-or-death scenario and say, 'hey, time to be a hero, hero'."

    "No, the favour was you showing up," I said candidly. "And let's be honest; if anyone else brought her to you with the same problem, you'd be all over it like white on rice. You're just hesitating because I kill people and I'm 'not to be trusted'." I did finger-quotes for emphasis.

    She paused, looking down at Bonesaw. "I want your word this isn't some kind of trap. That you're not trying to get more blackmail material on me."

    "This isn't a trap," I replied. "I'm trying to persuade you into performing what might be considered as a criminal act in some jurisdictions, but it's all in a good cause. No more blackmail." Purely for shits and giggles, I threw in, "Scout's honour."

    "Any blackmail is a crime," she snarked, but she crouched beside Bonesaw all the same. "And I doubt you were ever in the Scouts." Tentatively, she reached out and laid her hand on the little murder-munchkin's cheek. Immediately, her eyes widened. "Holy shit," she breathed. "Holy shit."

    "Mm-hmm," I acknowledged. "She made a thorough job of it, didn't she?"

    "Yeah," Panacea said absently. "How exactly did you nail her hypothalamus so neatly? Half an inch either way or farther on, and she'd be dead right now."

    "Because I didn't want her dead; not then, anyway." I knew it was a non-answer, but I didn't feel like playing Twenty Questions about my power right then.

    "Uh huh." Eyes unfocused, she started removing items from Bonesaw's body.

    I helpfully put them in the backpack I'd been carrying the fire extinguisher in. We didn't want to litter, after all. Meanwhile Panacea muttered to herself, her fingers apparently buried in Bonesaw's flesh. It was oddly fascinating and would've been disturbing, if I'd allowed myself to feel disturbed.

    The operation took a while, but at last Panacea sat back on her heels and ran her hands over her face. "Wow. Damn, that was harder than I thought it was going to be. She's going to need some serious biomass to make up what I just took out of her."

    "So, the diseases are neutralised and all the foreign items are out of her system, huh?" I put the backpack to one side and stood up. Bonesaw—no, Riley—was almost on the emaciated side now. I could see how she was going to need feeding up.

    "Yup." Panacea stood also and gave me a challenging look. "I know what you're going to ask me to do next."

    "You do, huh?" I kept the amusement I was feeling out of my voice.

    "Yeah." Her jaw was thrust out as a challenge. "You're gonna ask me to wake her back up so you can take her on as your apprentice or some other stupid shit. Well, let me tell you right now: that ain't gonna fly. I can't do brains."

    "Hah, no," I said. "I want you to kill Bonesaw."

    She blinked, then stared at me and then down at the girl sleeping peacefully between us. "You have got to be kidding. I don't use my powers to hurt people."

    I sighed. "No. You're not getting it. Not to kill her. To go into her brain and wind back the last six years, and kill everything about her involved with being Bonesaw, only leaving behind who she was before. A young girl named Riley Grace Davis. Then wake her up, as Riley. Hell, implant the urge to do good, so she never goes down that rabbit-hole again."

    Already, she was shaking her head. "No. Nope. Never. Not going to happen. Didn't you hear me when I said I can't do brains?"

    "I heard you." I didn't call her on the lie, because I didn't want her digging her heels in. "Did you know that Jack Slash was a Master? A very subtle one, but he was really good at making villains want to work for him and heroes not want to target him. He encouraged young Riley, once she was coerced into working for his merry band of fuckwits, to get more and more gruesome as she went along."

    "Oh, so now she's a victim?" Panacea stared at me disbelievingly. "Don't give me that. I've seen footage of her. She doesn't need any encouragement at all."

    "Allow me to posit a hypothetical," I said. "Imagine that Vicky decides one day to go and capture Heartbreaker, because he's a villain. But instead, he captures her. Within minutes, she's his willing slave. You all try to rescue her, but he keeps slipping away, with her helping him. Six months later, you find out that she's been successfully rescued, but even without him at her side to give her orders, she's so indoctrinated that the Vicky you knew has been entirely overlaid by the Heartbreaker love slave persona. She knows who you are, but she's also perfectly prepared to hurt or kill any of her 'rescuers' to escape and get back to Heartbreaker. Worse, she's just as willing to pretend to be rehabilitated until she gets a chance to break free and run straight back to her master." I paused, as Panacea stared at me in horror. "In that situation, what do you do? Roll back the Mastering, or leave her as she is?"

    Her fists clenched and she gritted her teeth, "Fuck you," she muttered. Her glare by now would've bored a hole straight through a six-inch plate of tungsten carbide. "Seriously … fuck you."

    "Jack Slash has literally had Riley under his thumb for half her life," I observed non-committally. "Don't you want to help me totally fuck up that legacy? She was his last, best monster."

    She was almost there, but her own conditioning was still pushing back. I knew what was coming next, though, and how to counter it.

    "And what if I told you to handle your own fucking mess, and walked away?" she asked tightly. "I saved the eastern seaboard. What happens now is up to you."

    "True," I said. "It is." I drew my pistol.

    "What now?" She rolled her eyes. "You're going to threaten to shoot me if I don't?"

    "No." I aimed the pistol at where Riley lay on the ground between us. "If you don't think it's worth your time to eradicate Bonesaw, then I'll do it my way." Dramatically, I pulled back the slide to let it chamber a round. "One shot, problem done. Don't worry; she won't feel a thing. Ever again."

    "Wait, what? No!" She held out her hands as if to stop me. "You can't just kill her!"

    "I think you'll find I can," I corrected her. "It's very much what I do. Ask the rest of the Nine. Oh, wait. You can't."

    "No, I mean killing helpless prisoners is wrong. It's all kinds of illegal, and it'll get other capes down on your back quicker than almost anything else." Her tone was almost desperate now.

    I snorted. "First off, her kill order says otherwise. Second, even if it didn't, do I come across as someone who gives the slightest fuck about what's legal and what's not?" I sighted the pistol in on Riley's head. "As the old quote goes: 'say goodnight, Gracie'."

    "I'll do it!" It was almost a scream. Panacea dropped to her knees beside the gently slumbering Riley. "I'll fix her." The glare she shot up at me was full of hate. "But not for you. For who she used to be."

    "Eh, whatevs. No skin off mine." I uncocked the hammer, applied the safety, and holstered the pistol. "I'm good either way, so long as she's not gonna be a danger to Brockton Bay anymore."

    "Shut up, I'm working." Putting her hands on either side of Riley's head, Panacea concentrated. From the sheen of sweat that sprang up on her forehead, she was having to be very precise about the memories and attitudes she adjusted, lest she impinge on the original personality and attitudes of who Bonesaw had once been.

    If she'd simply done it because I'd asked her, she would've let her own attitudes affect her work. While not slipshod, it wouldn't have been the best she could do. But because I'd deliberately made myself the bad guy, uncaring whether Riley lived or died, Panacea was now dedicated to bringing her back as far as possible, as a screw-you to me. Like fear, spite was one of the tools available to me, and I was perfectly willing to use it whenever I needed to.

    I watched with interest, interspersed with the occasional look around to ensure we didn't have any eavesdroppers. Nobody was due to stumble on us before Panacea was done, but being careful was rarely a bad idea. Letting Panacea get caught doing stuff she wasn't supposed to be able to do would be kind of a dick move on my part.

    Eventually, she sat back on her heels and breathed deeply. "Okay, it's finished. Bonesaw's done. She's history." Her voice held an odd mixture of pride and disgust at what she'd just accomplished. I figured the disgust wasn't aimed at Riley but at herself for being proud of her success.

    "And Riley?" I asked. "How much of her were you able to salvage?"

    "Oh, pretty well all." Panacea gave me a defiant look. "She'll never be your little sidekick, though. She's totally against torture and killing. I made sure of it."

    "I don't do torture for fun," I corrected her. "When I do apply it, it's always a means to an end. So, what've you done to her?"

    Panacea took a deep breath. "I brought her earlier personality back up from under and de-aged her by about two years to explain the reduced body mass. She'll know that she was Mastered, but I've blunted the emotional impact of the memories so that all she'll really get out of it is a determination to never let anyone force her into killing again. I also fixed that cute little brain surgery you pulled, as well as the ear injury, and made it so she'll wake up naturally in about eight hours. She's gonna need that long for her head to sort everything out." She tilted her head and looked at me, eyebrows raised. "Though right now she's a homeless orphan with looks and powers exactly like Bonesaw's, and no place to go. Any ideas on how to fix that, genius?"

    "One or two." I showed her a picture on my phone, one of the selfies I'd taken with Aisha. "Think you could maybe make her look a little bit like my friend here?"

    She stared at me, then looked at the picture. "That would definitely reduce the chances of anyone figuring out who she was, but why those particular people?"

    I grinned inside the mask. "Well …"

    <><>​

    Dragon

    If Dragon had been capable of blinking in confusion, she would have. "You want me to create a false identity from the ground up, for a ten-year-old girl, and link it to the Laborns?"

    "That's exactly what I want you to do," Atropos said breezily. "Once you come pick her up, you'll be able to acquire pics and other relevant data at your leisure."

    "Okay. I'm not saying I'll do it, and I'm not saying I won't." Dragon sought some level of stability in what was going on here. "But I'm going to need a little more information."

    "Okay. You know how I said I was going to deal with the Bonesaw problem?"

    "Yes …"

    "Well, the Bonesaw persona is now utterly extinct, but now we have a ten-year-old child cape suffering from a mild case of amnesia. She's lost almost her entire family in a tragic series of events that I'll leave you to rig the records for. Her only next of kin will be Brian and Aisha Laborn … that is, the latest Brockton Bay Ward, and his sister. Who better to take care of a brand-new Wards recruit than her own family?"

    "Wait. Wait, wait, wait." Dragon was pretty sure she had the whole picture by now, but there were details missing. "Have you spoken to the Laborns about this?"

    "Not yet, but Aisha will jump at the chance of having someone she can mentor in the art of causing chaos, and she'll badger her brother into agreeing. Not that he'll disagree too strongly, once I make my case."

    "And you think they'll be okay with taking Bonesaw into their home?"

    "Riley." Atropos' tone was firm. "Her name is Riley Grace Laborn."

    Dragon sighed. "Okay, will Riley be okay with this?"

    "She will remember her life up until six years old, and have the vague knowledge of what she did under the influence of Jack Slash. However, she will also take the whole 'do no harm' aspect very seriously, and she'll be fully aware that she needs to get as far away from the Bonesaw concept as possible, so this will be her best chance of starting fresh as a hero. The full truth will only be known by a very few people. These will not include anyone in the chain of command of the PRT."

    "But the Director—"

    "—would be all over her case the instant she found out. Riley wouldn't have the slightest chance to make a good impression. It's much better this way."

    "Damn it." Dragon was fully aware that if her entire safeguards had been in place, this would've been a very different conversation. But the more Atropos presented the idea, the more it made sense. "You're corrupting me."

    "No, that's you showing you've got an open mind."

    Dragon had to ask the question. "If something slips in the conditioning you gave her—you're going to have to tell me how you managed that trick someday—and she reverts to original Bonesaw, what then?"

    There was no hesitation in Atropos' voice. "I'll know. And I'll be there."

    Thus spoke the girl who had murdered four crime lord capes (well, three and a half) so gruesomely that the overall crime rate of the city had plummeted almost overnight. Nobody wanted to be out in the shadows when they could contain … her. She had stated her intention of ending the Slaughterhouse Nine, and had pulled it off so thoroughly, the only thing left was to identify the bodies.

    If anyone could curtail the hypothetical rampage of a reverted Bonesaw, it was Atropos.

    Dragon sighed. It was a useful verbal tic, and actually helped reduce stress. "Fine. I'll do it. I'll also verify Bonesaw's death for you. I've been offered half the Crawler bounty for being the one who fired the missile, but I'm going to donate it toward your cause anyway."

    "Thank you. I appreciate it." The words were sincere, but held no surprise.

    She chuckled. "Despite the headaches you've given me, you've also made my life a hell of a lot easier. It's the least I can do for a good cause." She paused for a beat. "But we're still not friends. Just saying."

    "As soon as you get rid of the law enforcement thing, I can take away the patch. Just saying."

    "Working on it. But I'll make a start on that fake identity as soon as you send the images through. How did you do that, anyway?" The only cape Dragon knew whose power could even conceivably do such things was Panacea, and after the humiliation Atropos had handed Glory Girl, there would be very little love lost there at all. She certainly wouldn't offer to assist Bonesaw like that out of the goodness of her heart.

    There was a grin in Atropos' voice. "You'll find out someday."

    "You are very irritating."

    "Thank you."

    <><>​

    Panacea

    Amy watched from the concealment of the trees as Dragon's suit descended toward the middle of the park. She was too far away to hear the conversation as Atropos approached with Riley—remade as per her suggestion—in her arms, but the attitude seemed to be relatively cordial. A hatch opened in the side of the draconic mech, and Atropos carefully loaded Riley within.

    With the girl secured, Atropos backed away and Dragon took off again. Amy wasn't at all sure what excuse she would give for the flying visit to the park, but having serious law enforcement chops had to come with some perks.

    With an air of satisfaction, Atropos strolled back toward where Amy waited. "Well, expect a new Ward in the city within forty-eight hours. All done, dusted and above board."

    "I'm not even going to ask how you talked Dragon into helping you out." Amy both wanted to know, and really really didn't. "But what's got me confused is why you're even doing this. Yeah, I know, I know, fucking with Jack Slash's legacy, but you could do that plenty of other ways. Why go to so much trouble and pull in so many markers just to rehabilitate one tweenage mass murderer?"

    "I foresee a number of uses for her," Atropos said. "And aside from that, I don't need a sidekick, but maybe you'd like an understudy sometime. If, say, one of your patients needed a brain injury fixed."

    "The first part, I can totally believe." Amy wrinkled her nose. "The second part, not so much. You don't do good, or nice. And you definitely don't do casual favours for no reason."

    "All very true." It was very irritating, not being able to see Atropos' expression. "Which suggests I had a reason, and that I didn't do it just to be nice. Quick question: how do you feel, after the fact, about the modifications you just did on Riley?"

    And that was the other thing Amy hadn't wanted to think about. "It was … easy. Almost fun. Too easy, in a weird way. I've never done something so thorough to a person before, but it was like I'd been doing it for years. I didn't have to stop and wonder if I was doing it right." She absolutely was not going to admit to the near euphoria that was trying to flood through her system right then.

    "Mmm." The wordless hum sounded thoughtful.

    "What's that supposed to mean?" Amy didn't intend to be snappish, but this entire episode was so far out of her experience that she figured she had a good excuse.

    Fortunately, Atropos didn't seem to take offense. "I get along with my power quite well. I want to do something, it suggests a way, I make modifications, and we come to an agreement. How well do you get along with yours? Or don't you even talk to it?"

    Panacea blinked. "You talk to your power?"

    "Sure. Don't you?" Atropos paused, clearly inviting an answer, but Amy didn't take the bait. "Huh. You don't? Well, maybe you should start listening. That ugh feeling when you do regular healing might just be your power getting seriously bored. And the way you just powered through giving Riley her makeover, and the endorphins you're experiencing right now … maybe that's your power rewarding you for letting it stretch its legs for once."

    What the actual living fuck? "How do you know all this stuff?" There was no way she was going to be able to lie to Atropos. That was a certainty.

    Typically irritating, Atropos didn't answer the question. "Tell me I'm wrong."

    "Well, how do I fix it?" She almost shouted the question.

    "The way I see it, this can go one of two ways." Atropos' tone was calm and measured. "The first way, you repress your power's urgings and at some point it'll activate all by itself and do something everyone will regret. Or the second way, you find other directions to express your power and keep it fat and happy. Your choice." She glanced to the side. "My ride's almost here. Think about it. Oh, and one other thing."

    Amy still despised Atropos and all she stood for with every fibre of her being, but that didn't mean she was stupid. "What?"

    "Have your sister watch the Uber and Leet show tonight. It's their last one."

    "Good." As far as Amy was concerned, Uber and Leet were an embarrassment to capes everywhere. "But why should she watch it?"

    Atropos shrugged. "Well, aside from the historical significance, she might learn something. Just saying." She turned and started off toward the trees. "Nice chat. See you around."

    "See you never," muttered Amy. She deliberately headed in a different direction, pulling out her phone to call a cab. The meeting with Atropos had left her with a lot to think about, and she wasn't sure she was going to be able to get her head around it all at once.

    <><>

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    ♦ Topic: The Slaughtered House None
    In: Boards ► Brockton Bay ► New Capes ► Atropos

    Atropos
    (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Posted On Jan 9th 2011:
    Hi all!

    I hope we've all had a wonderfully relaxing Sunday. I know I have.

    Of course, your definition of 'relaxing' might differ slightly from mine, but mileage is always allowed to vary.

    If you were paying attention, you may have noticed my declaration of intent to throw a party for the Slaughterhouse Nine that they'd never forget (or recover from). So imagine my (lack of) astonishment when they came all the way to Brockton Bay to throw their own surprise party, just for my benefit.

    Well, of course I couldn't disappoint them, so I showed up. Boy, were the festivities *wild*.

    Shatterbird and Burnscar greeted me at the door and welcomed me to the party, but Shatterbird got something stuck in her throat and then Burnscar ended up with brain-freeze and had to lie down. Some people simply don't know how to party.

    I had a little chat with Mannequin, about his family as I recall. At first he didn't want to open up but then he spilled his guts. Just came apart at the seams. Kind of a sad case, really.

    Hatchet Face was more energetic, and we ended up playing a rather fun game of tag. While we were doing that, Crawler ate something that didn't agree with him, but that's Crawler all over.

    It was around about then that Hatchet Face lost his axe. I found it and gave it back to him, but by then he was out of breath and had to lie down too.

    It turns out that Siberian wasn't too happy with me, but I apologized and I'm pretty sure she understood I was being sincere. I even gave her a gift before she had to pop off.

    Bonesaw wanted to introduce me to all her little friends. They were so cute and I got along with them like a house on fire; shouts screams, people running around in panic. But she unfortunately ended up with an earache and had to catch a nap as well.

    That leaves Jack Slash. What can I say about the man that hasn't been said before? Well, he was a pretentious prick, and seemed to think that waving a knife around made him a big man. It just made him a punk with a knife, really. We debated that and several other points quite vigorously, but in the end I disarmed his argument and he had to head off.

    Oh, and I want to thank the Dockworkers' Association for their (involuntary) donation of a fire extinguisher.
    I also want to thank Dragon for her assistance, and donation of a high-explosive party favor.

    So, let's get back to Jacky-boy. When he was just a kid, his parents made him think there'd been a nuclear war and locked him into a fallout survival bunker, while they stayed outside. Now, parents: I know sending your kids to their rooms is a thing, but can you imagine how much of a little shit he must've been for them to go that far? For years, they kept up the masquerade, providing food and water from the outside and telling him he was being kept safe inside. In reality? They just didn't want to associate with him.

    Meanwhile, Jack had this idea that when he was a grown man he'd leave the shelter and be the Chosen One to unite the remnants of civilization and lead the world into a new golden age. Or something like that; I don't know the exact details.

    But instead, when he finally got out (at the tender age of twelve, folks) he found out it was the exact opposite. There never was a war, the world was trundling along just fine without him, and there was no need for a Chosen One. Of course, he triggered with powers, and he's been exacting his revenge on the world ever since. If it didn't want him to save it, he was going to kill it.

    Talk about entitlement, right? How far up your own ass do you have to be to think like that?

    This whole time, he's just been a spoiled little shit throwing a tantrum because the world refused to live up to his fantasies about it. And the Nine's been his little play-group of puppets, dragged along to carry out his twisted little whims along the way. Because oh yeah, he's been Mastering them. Ain't that a kicker.

    So yeah, Jack Slash was a cheap punk with a knife and a cheat code. He lied and backstabbed, even with his nominal allies. He had no redeeming qualities and no discernible good points.

    He will not be missed. (I certainly didn't).

    In other news: I have an addendum to the list of people and organizations who are specifically unwelcome in Brockton Bay.
    • Red Hands
    • Heartbreaker
    • The Orchard
    If you come here, I *will* end you. This counts as your first and only warning.

    On the other side of things, I have been requested by the PRT to allow Uppercrust of the Elite into Brockton Bay for specific business. I will grant that exemption, but any attempts to perform information-gathering for the Elite will cause the exemption to be permanently rescinded.

    Also, expect an update on the drug trade thing come Monday. And those of you who are currently hooked on whatever substance you've been abusing, take heart. In just a few days, rehab clinics will be opening across the city. Attend or not, as you will. But if you don't and your addiction gets the better of you, you only have yourself to blame. This is about Brockton Bay, not you.

    Anyways, have a peaceful Sunday night.

    Toodles!

    (Showing page 1 of 74)

    ►TeamMom (Senior Moderator) (Verified Spoilsport)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Okay, this is great news if it's true, but (no offence, Atropos) I'm going to need someone else to verify this report.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    None taken. Verify away.
    Also, before I forget, I want to thank Uber & Leet for the generous loan of their trademark Snitch, with which I recorded the whole thing. They should be kicking off their last show, featuring highlights of the recorded footage, any minute now.

    ►Dragon (Veteran Member) (Verified Cape) (Protectorate Member) (Guild Member) (Verified Dragon)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @TeamMom, I can absolutely verify Atropos' claim. She actually invited me to assist her in carrying out the deed.
    The Slaughterhouse Nine is *done*.
    I took this picture myself, with a missile nosecone camera.
    [HatchetFaceCrawlerAtropos]

    ►TeamMom (Senior Moderator) (Verified Spoilsport)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @Atropos – seriously? Please don't add frivolous tags to other accounts. Verified Dragon? Really?

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @TeamMom – And what's wrong with that? She's Dragon. Don't be a spoilsport.

    ►TeamMom (Senior Moderator) (Verified Spoilsport)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Not. Helping.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Wow, touchy much? Okay, here, I'll even give myself a tag to make it even.

    ►Dragon (Veteran Member) (Verified Cape) (Protectorate Member) (Guild Member) (Verified Dragon)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @TeamMom – honestly, I don't mind. So long as it gets taken off again by tomorrow.
    @Atropos – you *will* take it off again, right?

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @Dragon - *put-upon sigh* Yes, I will.
    *wanders off to sharpen her shears, muttering about people with no sense of humor*

    ►Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    I've attended the site and viewed the bodies. I'm really not sure what the Nine were thinking when they came to town, but they had no idea of the meatgrinder they were walking into. I mean, I didn't even know they were here. Only Atropos and (apparently) Dragon did, and from what I understand, Atropos did most of the heavy lifting.
    It turns out that the Siberian was a projection (which makes *so* much sense, in hindsight) but they're keeping the identity of the projecting cape under wraps for the moment. Suffice to say, that person died rather suddenly and unexpectedly. We're also missing Bonesaw's body, but Dragon has independently verified the death.
    Just gonna say: trigger warnings for gore if/when you watch the U&L show, especially for Mannequin and Crawler. Still not as bad as Skidmark, but ... impressive, all the same.
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3 ... 72, 73, 74

    (Showing page 2 of 74)

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Yeah, about Bonesaw's body. She'd implanted disease reservoirs in herself that would've led to some spectacularly devastating plagues more or less depopulating the entire northeast corner of the States. I took her body away to neutralize those and dispose of it safely.
    Is all good, folks. We get to live another day.

    ►UnconcernedFox
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    *orders in a new shipment of popcorn*
    *raises a cup of popcorn in a toast to Atropos*
    *heads over to the Uber & Leet channel*

    ►Reave (Verified PRT Agent)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    This latest incident merely confirms what I'd already suspected. Atropos, you're evidently capable of working with others, including Protectorate members and (presumably) PRT agents. Dragon had nothing but praise for your capabilities in the field. Please, just come in to the PRT building. Let's sit down and talk.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @Reave - I do appreciate the offer, but the fact here is that I called Dragon in on it and she followed my instructions the whole way through. Can you guarantee, with hand on heart, that every single PRT agent (up to and including the Director) and Protectorate cape will do the same, that not one of them will try to exert some level of authority over me? Because I think they will. They're constitutionally incapable of not making the effort.
    Also, as I mentioned before, there are some agents in that building who would shoot me on sight if they thought they could get away with it. They wouldn't survive the attempt, but that's not the point. I'd rather not have to deal with that awkwardness right now, so Imma keep doing things my way. After all, if it's not broke, right?

    ►Wherewolf
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    inb4 Void Cowboy gets banned for making a joke about Crawler and deep-throating.

    ►XxVoid_CowboyxX
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Hey!
    I'd never make a joke that crude around Atropos.
    Anyway, you ruined it.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Chill, guys. It's fine to make jokes like that.
    Once.

    ►A_Dragon (Verified not *the* Dragon)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Once the drug trade is done … man, there are going to be a lot of withdraw patients in a couple of days, having had a friend go through it was not pretty.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    I've got someone working on that.

    ►Urk (Purveyor of Cape!Fic)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    It would've been even more awesome if Uber and Leet had showed up with Ghostbusters packs and taken out the Siberian, working with the remnants of the E88 who haven't left town yet.
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4 ... 72, 73, 74

    (Showing page 3 of 74

    ►BattleLoaf
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @Urk - Man, you sound like Void. That shit would never happen.

    ►HeresyGirl
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @Atropos - Just gonna say, whoever you've got 'working on it' better be setting up a methadone clinic, or the fallout from every drug user in the city being forced to go cold turkey at once is gonna be catastrophic. And not just at the junkie level either. You're going to have housewives with opioid addictions and techbros with coke habits. You'll have people dying or suiciding just from the withdrawal symptoms.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @HeresyGirl - I specified that when I contacted them. It's being handled. Clinics will be set up, and people are going to be learning to stand on their own two feet.
    Whether they like it or not.

    ►SilverGater
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Um … that bit with Mannequin? That's not just a particularly gruesome death. That's her demonstrating to *everyone* that she can literally *talk you to death*. No weapons needed.
    Poor bastard.
    And yes, I know I'm talking about Mannequin.

    ►Malarkey
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Called it.
    I *said* that Atropos wanted the Snitch (not that it was a huge leap of logic).
    Unfortunately, we didn't get the "all murderhobos die at the same time because of the Siberian".
    Tho, those deaths were brutal. I mean, forcefeeding Shatterbird a piece of the same glass she was controlling was brutal (and ironic). Forcefeeding Burnscar a fire extinguisher's worth of freezing carbon dioxide was brutal.
    But, Jesus, what she did to Mannequin. Nightmare inducing, that.
    The best part was Hatchet Face and Crawler biting the dust almost simultaneously. The fact that Dragon got a photo was the cherry on top.
    Taking a breather before I comment on the rest.

    ►SadKitteh
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    -Fuck.-
    I was curious how she was going to kill off some of them, but that psychological torture on Mannequin? Absolutely nasty. That's gonna put the fear of god into a lot of capes.

    ►Brocktonite03 (Veteran Member)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    That's gonna put the fear of *Atropos* into a lot of capes.
    FTFY.

    ►BrickFrog
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Okay, but … how did whatever she did actually kill Crawler? Isn't he supposed to be crazy resistant to everything?

    ►XxVoid_CowboyxX
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Ooh, ooh, pick me!
    You see the pic Dragon supplied? Where Hatchet Face is falling out the window? He's about to land on Crawler. And when he did, he negated all Crawler's powers. Including the crazy resistance to damage. Missile down throat, gibs everywhere.
    Atropos is *badass*.

    ►BrickFrog
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    But wouldn't he keep the resistance? I mean, super dense flesh is super dense flesh.
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 72, 73, 74

    (Showing page 4 of 74)

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Not dense enough. Trust me, Void is absolutely correct on this one.

    ►Brocktonite03 (Veteran Member)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Void Cowboy … being correct about something.
    Truly, it is the end times.

    ►XxVoid_CowboyxX
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Hey, I resemble that remark!

    ►WingsOnHigh (Verified Not the Simurgh)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    I'm not sure what we should be freaking out about more.
    The off map missile strike (courtesy of Dragon), the psychological destruction of Mannequin or the way she just *snipped* and the Siberian *vanished*. Cause those are definitely the 3 biggest highlights in terms of "What the fuck?" that she pulled during the fight.

    ►PhoenixFeathers
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    When she said, "Dark in here, isn't it?" right behind Jack Slash, I got chills.

    ►Atrim
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    So, final kill count is...
    Shatterbird, Throat shredded from her own glass.
    Burnscar, Extinguished
    Mannequin, Self Mutilation
    Crawler, Miss-led
    Hatchet Face, took a hatchet to the face
    Siberian, snipped
    Jack Slash, Trapped and Slashed
    Bonesaw, Vanished

    ►Brocktonite03 (Veteran Member)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Not to stir trouble or anything, but … if Atropos took Bonesaw's body away, does she still get the kill order bounty?

    ►Reave (Verified PRT Agent)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    @Brocktonite03 – Normally that would be a sticking point, yes. But the powers that be are leaning the other way at the moment. Mainly because we have footage of her a) stabbing Bonesaw in the brain and b) shooting Bonesaw in the head. Also because she has never yet lied to us, even when it would be in her best interests, so when she says Bonesaw is dead, I'm strongly inclined to believe her. Finally, Dragon is as close as we can get to an impartial witness, and she verified Bonesaw's demise as well. So that bounty will be paid along with the rest of them.

    ►TheRealPanacea (Verified Cape) (Cape Daughter) (New Wave Member)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    This is Glory Girl posting on Panacea's account (because my account is temp banned).
    I've watched the whole thing through twice, with Amy helpfully pointing out things that I missed.
    And I've got one thing to say.
    @Atropos – I'm *sorry*. I screwed up badly, and I hope you can forgive me for doing what I did. Please don't hurt my family over this.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me) (Verified Smartass)
    Replied On Jan 9th 2011:
    Hi, Glory Girl!
    It's good. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we even learn from them. Tell your sis from me, she's one of the good ones. (And yes, you're forgiven. This time. Mwahaha.)
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ... 72, 73, 74

    <><>​

    Path to end the legacy of Jack Slash and the Slaughterhouse Nine: complete.

    <><>​

    As the bus approached the city limits of Brockton Bay, the teenager blinked her way awake. Shuffling herself to a more upright posture, she looked out the window and wrinkled her nose. The landscape didn't appeal, but she wasn't there for the geography.

    Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her phone. Let's see what's been going on in the world for the last few hours.

    When the headline popped up into her newsfeed, it was the last two words she'd ever expected—or wanted—to read. SLAUGHTERHOUSE SLAUGHTERED!

    Pushing her fingers through her dark hair and disarranging the red streak that ran through it, Cherie Vasil stared at the screen in consternation.

    "What … the … fuck?"



    End of Part Twenty-Two
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2022 at 2:29 AM
  24. O’Brien

    O’Brien Not too sore, are you?

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    Triumvirate must be interested, especially Eidolon. I know that Contessa has warned them, but they must at least give a reaction to what Atropos has done and not stay mum.
     
  25. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Next chapter will show some of that.
     
  26. FictionPack

    FictionPack Making the rounds.

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    Looks like next people up to bat in Brockton might end up being Cherish and Butcher, I doubt the latter can resist wanting Atropos to kill them.
     
  27. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    So long as they stay out of BB, the Teeth are fine ... for now.

    Of course, the chance that they stay out after that sort of challenge is ... low.
     
  28. Lovhes

    Lovhes Getting sticky.

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    Wonder what will cherie do now. Her plan A of shacking up with the slaughtered house is now a no go. Wonder if her intelligence will be enough to curb her arrogance.

    Would be hilarious if she instead shack up with undersider remnants. The amount of sass and shit flung between regent and her would be hilarious. Probably enough that tattletale would just surrender to the prt with the condition of keeping her away from them.
     
  29. Necrovore

    Necrovore Not too sore, are you?

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    I'm reading through the chapter and I just get this sense of Deja Vu, wonder why. :p
     
    Ack and 0vrLrd71 like this.
  30. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    Rachel would punch her face in.
     
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