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A Darker Path [Worm Fanfic]

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

  1. Throwawaykindanot

    Throwawaykindanot Getting out there.

    Apr 8, 2021
    Likes Received:
    Damn I feel blessed, thanks Ack for the chapters!

    Welp... Let's see if the PRT and Protectrate overreacts amd shits the bed by thinking Atrapos is possesed by The Butcher shard... It will be fun to see them react to this as well as how she is going to handle Heartbreaker. Now the real question is if her power has factored in to save all those people under Heartbreakers command.
    Lichzim, Prince Charon and Ack like this.
  2. Threadmarks: Part Twenty-Nine: Finding Out

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    A Darker Path

    Part Twenty-Nine: Finding Out

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


    I lounged in my car seat, tapping away at my phone, while Dad drove and Cherie peered forward from the back seat. She wanted to ask me something, that much I could tell without even looking, but she was still skittish about interrupting me in whatever I was doing. I appreciated her concern, even though I was totally able to handle the multi-tasking necessary to pay attention to her.

    "What's up?" I asked, looking around from the phone while my thumbs continued to dance over the screen. "Whatever it is, you know you're totally allowed to ask me anything at any time."

    She blinked. "Oh, uh, I was just wondering how you were going to sneak me into your school. I mean, I walked in yesterday, sure, but they'll probably notice if a strange girl is wandering around for the whole day with nothing to do."

    "Oh, that part's easy." I held up the phone, still tapping away at it. "I'm in the process of enrolling you as a transfer student. All the paperwork's been filled out and retroactively filed. How do you feel about the name Cherie Reynaud?"

    "Reynaud?" she asked, evidently taken aback. "You can just … change my name?"

    "It's a digital world," I said expansively. "Reality is what computers say it is. I just told the computers that you're transferring in, made you a victim of faulty homeschooling—which is basically true—and sent Principal Blackwell a nasty email asking her why she hasn't set up the remedial classes you absolutely require."

    "But … won't she wonder why she never heard of me before?"

    Finished with my hacking shenanigans, I turned in my seat, reached back, and patted her on the cheek. "Cherie. Honey. She barely remembers the names of the students she has. As of thirty seconds ago, she's got a whole string of appropriately dated emails in her inbox, all supposedly read and replied to by her, about your pending transfer. When this one pops up, and I bring you in to see her, she's going to totally believe that she's had a massive brain fart, and give you all the excuses under the sun while she rushes to set it up."

    Dad began to chuckle. He tried to hold it in, but his laughter became more and more unrestrained until he had to pull over. Tears standing in his eyes, he laughed harder and harder, holding onto the steering wheel for support. I smirked as I watched his mirth, even as Cherie stared in incomprehension.

    Finally, he was able to calm down and wipe the tears from his eyes. Reaching across, he put his arm behind my shoulders and gave me a quick side-hug. "Thank you, Taylor," he said, still chuckling. "I had no idea how we were going to give that woman a suitable comeuppance, but the look on her face is going to be priceless. You just made my whole day."

    He checked his mirrors and started off again, but Cherie leaned forward. "I don't get it. Why is that so funny?"

    I decided to take over the explanation and leave Dad to concentrate on driving. "So, Blackwell saw fit to basically ignore my ex-bestie and her two partners in crime as they fucked my life over on a daily basis, over the last year and a bit. So far, so good?"

    Tentatively, she nodded. "Okay …"

    I let my grin grow wider, and added a few teeth. "So, Blackwell is an administrator first and foremost. Her job is keeping on top of running the whole damn school. This involves the well-being of the students which, to be honest, she sucks at. See previous example. But to be slapped in the face by a bunch of emails that seem to have been read and replied to by her, and to have zero recollection of them, is going to send her into a flat spin. She's going to spend the next month combing through her email inbox and her spam inbox, looking to see if there's anything else she's missed. And she'll be looking over her shoulder the whole time for the other shoe to drop, because as far as she knows, she's fucked up big time." I tilted my head toward Dad. "My father does admin work for the Dockworkers' Association, so he knows exactly how solid the bricks she'll be shitting are."

    "Oh." She looked at Dad, who was still chuckling. "Oh, I see. Wow. Did you do all this just to mess with her?"

    "Honestly?" I shrugged. "I'm past all that. I don't hold grudges, these days. But … yeah, it was more than a little bit satisfying to fuck with her head while helping you out."

    "I see." She took a deep breath. "I'm kind of glad you decided not to do that to me."

    I gave her a toothy grin. "You're not one tenth the waste of space and time that she is."

    Besides, my power had seen a use for her. Several uses.

    But it might come across as impolite to say this out loud, so I didn't. She was coming along nicely, so there was no sense in antagonising her.

    Having a reliable minion was so useful.


    Winslow High School


    Taylor had been right, of course. It wasn't even a surprise to Cherie anymore. As they approached the principal's office, the jangled music of Blackwell's emotional chorus bespoke near-panic of the highest order. She got the impression that the woman was running around in circles with her hair on fire, at least figuratively speaking.

    Strolling up to the secretary's desk, Taylor leaned on it with her elbows. "Hi. Can you tell Principal Blackwell that Taylor Hebert is here?"

    The secretary's gaze shifted toward the closed door to the principal's office. "Uh … she's busy right now."

    Taylor smiled, but there was steel behind the expression. "Please tell her that I have the transfer student, Cherie Reynaud, with me. She might be willing to make time for us."

    From the way the secretary's eyes twitched, she'd definitely heard about Cherie. "I'll call her right away." Picking up the phone, she flinched at the 'What?' that Cherie heard from a good six feet away. "Uh … the transfer student is here to see you?"

    Principal Blackwell must not have realised that she was nearly shouting. The door to her office was impressively soundproofed, but her voice echoed from the phone receiver quite well. "Arrrgh! Okay, send her in."

    Impassively, as though she hadn't just had her eardrum blown out in front of a couple of teenagers, the secretary nodded to Cherie. "She'll see you now."

    "Good." Taylor led the way, stepping forward and reaching for the door handle.

    The secretary raised her hand. "Not you, just her."

    Taylor looked her in the eye, and something there made the secretary flinch back. "Yes, me." Reaching out without breaking eye contact, she grabbed the door handle and pushed it open. Then she gestured for Cherie to enter, and followed her in.

    While Principal Blackwell appeared to have mastered the art of looking like she was in total control of the situation, the discordant turmoil of her emotional landscape exposed her attitude for the lie that it was. Still, she looked at Taylor and Cherie with a faux calm, with only the twitch in the corner of her left eye to betray her inner strife to those with the eyes to see it. A couple of chords of confusion rolled over her and Cherie realised that just for a moment, she'd had no idea who she was looking at.

    Then she blinked before focusing on Cherie. "Ah … Miss Rey-nowd?"

    Cherie shook her head. It might not be the name she was born with, but by God it would be pronounced correctly. "Rey-no," she corrected the narrowly built woman, putting the full French spin on it. "Cherie Reynaud. I'm supposed to be transferring here?"

    "Yes, yes, right," muttered Blackwell, rubbing her temples. "We're getting the class into order right at this moment. But there have been unavoidable delays, so perhaps tomorrow."

    "Well, what am I supposed to do in the meantime?" Cherie was starting to enjoy herself.

    That got Blackwell all the more flustered. "I—I don't—I—"

    "She can come to class with me," Taylor offered brightly. "That way, she can learn the layout of the school, and I can make sure she doesn't get lost."

    Blackwell blinked, and focused on Taylor properly for the first time. "Who … wait. Herbert …?"

    "Hebert. Taylor Hebert." Every syllable slotted into place with the crisp cadence of a pump-action shotgun being racked, and with the same level of no-fucks-given. "I've been a student here since two thousand and nine." 'You ought to be able to recognise me by now' went unspoken, but not unheard.

    Cherie watched with interest as Blackwell attempted to rally. "Ah. Right. Why exactly are you in my office, again …?"

    Taylor raised an eyebrow. "Nobody was waiting outside for Cherie so when she approached me for help, I decided it was my duty to get her where she needed to be. Or were you just going to make her wander around blindly in a strange school on her first day?"

    "Of course not!" Blackwell's musical accompaniment gave the impression that she really, really wanted to tear her hair out by the roots. Which, in Cherie's opinion, could only improve the unflattering bowl cut. "I … can you help her for the day?"

    "Sure." Taylor beamed innocently, as though she hadn't just spent the car ride carefully setting up the whole situation. Cherie suspected she was enjoying the principal's discomfort a little more than she was likely to admit to. "I can totally do that for you."

    "That would be good." Blackwell drew a deep breath and blew air out through her nostrils. "Which classes are you in?"

    "Computer Studies with Mrs Knott, World Affairs with Mr Gladly, Art with Ms Claiborne, and Math with Mr Quinlan," Taylor rattled off. "I can talk to Mrs Knott. We get along."

    "That would be good, yes." Blackwell nodded. "I'll speak with the others." She glanced at the corner of her computer screen. "The home room bell is about to go."

    "Come on, Cherie." Taylor stood up. "I'll introduce you to Mrs Knott. She's nice."

    Cherie got up as well and followed her out. She waited until Blackwell's office door was swinging shut before she asked, "Does this sort of mixup happen often?"

    Taylor grinned. "Occasionally. They say …" The door clicked shut; Taylor's grin morphed into a smirk as she headed out of the main office with Cherie in tow. "Nicely done. She'll be wondering what 'they say' for the rest of the day."

    Cherie giggled; it was a relatively harmless prank, and Blackwell had come across as someone more deserving than most. But now she could finally circle around to something that had been bothering her since she'd gotten to Winslow. "Yeah. But … do I really have to do remedial classes? It sounds totally boring."

    "Yes." Taylor's tone brooked no dissent. "Your life up until now might've been even suckier than mine, but you are going to learn life skills before not having them kills you."

    There was only one answer Cherie could give to that. "Yes, ma'am."


    Computer Studies Class


    "… and she's new in town, so I'm keeping an eye on her until her father shows up this afternoon," I said semi-truthfully.

    "Oh." Mrs Knott gave Cherie an appraising look. "Well, I'd like to welcome you to Winslow. I hope you enjoy it here. Where are you from, if you don't mind me asking?"

    "Montreal originally, but I like Brockton Bay better." Cherie was doing her best to project 'earnest new student' without using her powers, as I'd told her.

    "Well, that's lovely, dear. It has been rather, um, exciting over the last week. But it's much safer now; from what I hear, the only capes left in town are heroes, rogues, and Atropos. And she doesn't bother us ordinary folk."

    It was a little jarring to hear my cape name coming from Mrs Knott's mouth, but I supposed I shouldn't have been surprised. She lived in the same city I did, and I had been committing extremely public acts of violence since the previous Sunday. The note of conditional approval was also nice to hear. I suspected it was like Dad's attitude: while she didn't like how I did things, she couldn't argue with the results.

    "Yeah, I've heard that about her too." Cherie flicked me a sidelong glance. "They say if you don't mess with her, she doesn't mess with you."

    "Which is a welcome change, to be sure." Mrs Knott sighed. "Well, we have a couple of spare terminals, so if you can help Cherie get set up with one, Taylor …?"

    I nodded firmly. "I can totally do that for you, Mrs Knott. You'll barely know she was there."

    She beamed at the both of us. "Thank you, Taylor. I hope you enjoy it here, Cherie." Turning, she went back up to the front of the classroom.

    "Well, that was easier than I thought it would be," murmured Cherie as she sat down at the terminal next to mine.

    I showed her how to power up the computer, then guided her through onto PHO. That, I figured, would keep her occupied for the bulk of the class period. "This is Winslow. If you put on a good enough front, nobody thinks twice."

    "Why am I not surprised? After what you've already told me …" She let her voice trail off.

    "Yeah." She wasn't wrong. I was just happy to be able to make the industrial-grade apathy work in my favour for once.

    But enough about the sins and flaws of Winslow. I sat down at my desk and booted up my terminal. Flexing my fingers, I grinned. It was time for another post.

    Let's do this.



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    ♦ Topic: I'm Baa-aack!
    In: Boards ► Brockton Bay ► New Capes ► Atropos

    (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me)
    Posted On Jan 11th 2011:


    Whadda day, whadda day.

    Folks, I have been having *fun*. It's been a busy thirty-six hours (or so), but it turns out that if you put your mind to it, you really can accomplish a lot in a short time.

    First, some messages: to everyone who's used to responding to me at midnight, I'm very sorry if you waited up for me. There was something I needed to get done at three in the morning (more about that later) so I decided to delay checking in until now.

    Also, to Director Piggot, apologies for using your private email but I figured you'd really want to know straight away. Anyways, I promise not to do it again. Unless I really have to. Or I just feel like it. You know how it goes.

    So, on to my recent doings. You may recall that I mentioned the existence of more drug warehouses. Well, the one owned by the Gesellschaft stayed put, and just stacked on armed guards everywhere. Snipers on rooftops, with anti-tank weapons in case I came in with an attack chopper or something (hey, it's not something I've actually ruled out) plus more guys with grenades, and lots of guys with lots of guns. Seriously, they made your average NRA get-together look like a bunch of pinko commie liberals.

    (No offense intended to any pinko commie liberals. Just saying.)

    So, after I sniped the snipers, liberated the grenades and blew the absolute *fuck* out of the drug stash (the fireball reached all the way to the street, this time) I went on to my next target.

    The other big supplier of illegal hard drugs in our fine city was (and I use the past tense advisedly) none other than the Elite. After I explained that yes, I could actually see them, they had the bright idea of loading all their product into a couple of eighteen-wheelers and cruising around town with a lead car and a chase car, all crewed by heavily armed guards.

    Because that *never* turns out badly. Ask Skidmark.

    So anyway, after I killed the guards, crashed the trucks and burned the drugs, I went home for a nap. Hey, even remorseless serial killers need their beauty sleep.

    Just by the way, this is notice served that if the Gesellschaft or Elite (I've already told the latter this, but it bears repeating) send *any* capes to Brockton Bay looking for trouble with me, I'll murder the fuck out of them. That's over and above my standing prohibition against anyone smuggling drugs or guns into or through the city.

    Try it twice, and I'll make sure you're entirely unable to try it a third time. (Spoilers: I'll come to where you are and kill you.)

    Where were we? Oh yeah, my nap.

    Sleeping the whole night through would've been nice (and would've meant I could do this post at midnight) but I had other fish to fry. Or rather, other capes to deal with.

    I have to ask: is it just me, or are some capes entirely incapable of pattern recognition? Or is it just that nobody smacked their noses with a rolled-up newspaper enough when they were starting out as a little baby villain?

    As you may have seen in the news, none other than Damsel of Distress rolled into town on the three AM bus. I decided that she needed a proper reception, so I greeted her along with my good friend, Mr Pump Action Shotgun. Edict and Licit were also there, at my invitation, and between the four of us we convinced Damsel of D that she really wanted to go back home again.

    If that wasn't bad enough, we had *another* visitation at seven in the morning. Fortunately, I'm a morning person, or I might've gotten violent. As it was, this was Butcher and the Teeth, so I got violent anyway. My lack of morning coffee had nothing to do with it, I swear.

    I had time to prep, so I set up a camera to record the whole thing. Footage can be found [here].

    To recap:

    I started with an AT-4 party favor, courtesy of the Gesellschaft. It certainly opened the festivities with a real bang. Animos wanted to jump all over me, but I don't approve of that kind of behavior so I smacked him on the head and put him in time-out.

    Then Vex got vexing and Spree started letting far too many people into the party. I had to cut Vex off with some pointed remarks of my own, while my good friend Mr Pump Action Shotgun had a conversation with Spree.

    I ran into Hemorrhagia then. She was into self-cutting, which was kind of creepy, but I was able to give her some fentanyl and she went right to sleep.

    While Butcher was distracted with Animos, I showed her my souvenir from meeting Hatchet Face, over and over again. You might say she came to pieces. And Animos ... well, he got a sore throat and had to lie down.

    On to a more serious subject that anyone in the know will be asking about:

    Am I the fifteenth Butcher?

    Answer: Nope.

    Next question: Why not?

    Answer: you may recall a conversation we had about how I can kill the Mastered condition in myself because I'm just that good? Well, the same applies to being Butcher'd. I don't roll that way. The Butcher is gone for good.

    Congratulations; you can all heave a sigh of relief that I'm still a relatively sane serial killer.


    On to other news: the Committee for Revitalizing Brockton Bay (or whatever they decide to call themselves) will be convening tomorrow afternoon, when the money comes through for the Slaughterhouse Nine bounties.

    I have it on good authority that a reasonable chunk of this will be paid out as a cash stimulus to every man, woman and child in the city below a certain standard of living.

    Now, here's a few messages from me to you.

    First: don't even try to cheat. I'll know.

    Second: don't steal anyone else's stimulus payment. I'll know.

    Third: don't issue threats to the committee. I'll know.

    For those who think I should just hand over all that money to the companies that employ people, you should be aware by now that trickle-down economics *doesn't work*. If the big guys want that cash, they should be willing to give out goods and services to earn it. This is what 'stimulus' *means*.

    Anyways, just so you know, Heartbreaker will be hitting town this evening. And after all those warnings, too. I am so shocked and surprised. Honest.

    There will be footage.


    (Showing page 1 of 12)

    ►Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    Oh, man. I have stayed up way too late. Sleep after this. Call in sick or something.
    Anyway, *holy crap* has Atropos been busy. Once more, be not in the slightest surprised that everything she said she'd do, and everything she said she'd done, is one hundred percent accurate.
    There is now a warehouse in the Docks area that's basically a toxic, gutted ruin, to match the other one on the edge of town. Quite a few casualties, but they were one and all holding guns or in the very close vicinity of firearms. The ones we've been able to identify were very bad people indeed, and they evidently failed to follow the Atropos Rule Number One, which is basically Do Not Mess With Atropos.
    And yes, they had sniper rifles and three AT-4 anti-tank launchers. We found the fourth on site at the city limits, where the Butcher & Teeth curbstomp happened.
    Following an anonymous text message, we found two crashed eighteen-wheelers, on fire, with drugs inside and armed corpses outside. Plus a couple of crashed chase cars. Did I say she's been busy? She's been busy.
    Then of course was the Damsel of Distress face-off. I have no doubt that if it weren't for Atropos, she'd be digging deep into the underworld right now. And from her whole attitude, if it weren't for Edict and Licit, she'd be decorating a slab right now. When I first saw the footage, I honestly didn't know which way it would go. I'm told Atropos herself contacted E&L a couple of hours beforehand, so she wasn't *eager* to kill D of D, even though she's entirely capable of it.
    All of which just goes to add another shade of gray to our very own homegrown angel of death.
    And finally, there's the Butcher kill. Only watch that footage if you have a strong stomach. She doesn't pull any punches. Still got a thing for ironic deaths, though. I'd rate it at about point seven five Skidmarks.
    Also, in case anyone missed it, Butcher was under the influence of Animos' scream when Atropos killed her. That means Butcher's powers were suppressed, which is probably why he didn't make the jump to her. (To be honest, if I was Butcher, I wouldn't take that risk either.)
    (Kidding. I kid.)
    Anyway, after all that, I've just got one more thing to say:
    Heartbreaker, you idiot. Don't do it.
    More tonight after we see exactly what Atropos has planned for Heartbreaker.
    Prepare for 'heartbreak' puns. Because we all know she's gonna go there.
    Sleepy-time now.

    ►GreatAndTerribleAisha (Verified Atropos Fan)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    Woo! You GO, Atropos!

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @GreatAndTerribleAisha - aren't you supposed to be in class right now?

    ►GreatAndTerribleAisha (Verified Atropos Fan)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    You saw nothing.
    Turning off phone now. Promise.

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    Okay, now I'm curious as to what kind of ironic death Heartbreaker is going to suffer.
    Bagrat is probably correct about the 'broken heart' puns. But *how*, exactly?
    Is she going to kill his influence over his thralls and let them hunt him down?
    (I would totally pay to watch that)

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @GreatAndPowerfulAisha - don't take this the wrong way, but you're pretty cool. How do I get to be an official Atropos fan as well?

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @Lepsdae - I predict a heart attack, or she'll just go full Temple of Doom on him.

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    Imma throw my hat in the ring and go with a box of chocolates ... with some more of that fentanyl as a surprise ingredient.

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    A heart attack would be too ... non-obvious.
    I'm going with 'rips it out of his chest and tears it in half'.

    End of Page. 1, 2, 3 ... 10, 11, 12

    (Showing page 2 of 12)

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    But can we be sure that Atropos didn't end up with Butcher in her head? I mean, really? It could all be an act.

    ►Dragon (Veteran Member) (Verified Cape) (Protectorate Member) (Guild Member)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @BrickFrog - I can help you there. I was actually in communication with Atropos when she killed Butcher. None of my voice analysis software shows the slightest change in stress levels throughout the entire episode. Which means that either she's not the Butcher, or she's the greatest actor the world has ever seen.
    And no offense to Atropos, but she's not that great at acting.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @Dragon - none taken. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    ►Reave (Verified PRT Agent)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @Atropos - We talked about this. Blowing up warehouses full of drugs is dangerous, and poses a threat to innocent citizens. Also, how many people did you actually kill in there? Can you be certain no innocents got caught in the crossfire?
    As for the eighteen-wheelers—seriously, a high-speed vehicle chase through the city, then deliberately causing a crash? Did you have to kill them all?
    I'm not even going to go into the risk you took, going after Butcher. You couldn't have known for certain that you could do this without being possessed.
    You need to come in so we can sit down and have a serious talk about your methods.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @Reave - Whoa, back off a little there. You're a little tetchy in the morning before you have your coffee, aren't you?
    I'm not going to get into the habit of explaining myself, not even to you, so count yourself lucky.
    First, I don't take orders from you, from the PRT, or from the Protectorate. If *certain people* (they know who they are) had done their jobs from the beginning, Brockton Bay wouldn't be in the state it is. I'm just cleaning up the mess and making sure no more messes get made while I'm at it.
    *You* talked about it. I didn't.
    Second, no innocents got hit with stray bullets. A few people will end up with minor chest complaints, but they'll recover. And in the meantime, that pile of shit I blew up isn't going to addict anyone or cause any ODs. Neither is it going to make anyone money. In fact, the guys who brought it in are now seriously out of pocket. And finally, I left you a nice gift-wrapped present. You're welcome.
    Third, everyone who died in the eighteen-wheeler chase were specifically being paid to keep those drugs out of my hands. They were about to plow through Downtown proper, never mind the pedestrians or other cars. If I hadn't stopped them where I did, we'd have a lot more dead and injured.
    Fourth, give me *some* credit for the Butcher thing. I had it all planned out.
    Also, I note that you're carefully not mentioning Damsel of Distress and how that worked out just fine?
    I get it. You didn't have enough sleep, and right now you're caffeine deficient.
    The drugs are gone, Butcher and the Teeth are dead, and Damsel of Distress is back in Stafford.
    Trust me, last night could've gone a hell of a lot worse.

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    Wait, did Atropos make a *flour bomb* out of drugs? Was *that* what that almighty explosion was?

    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    That's what she did. Twice, even.

    ►TeamMom (Senior Moderator)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @Reave - Can we just dial back the aggression a little, please? I know you're concerned, but right now Atropos is willing to communicate and give us advance warning of what she does. I'd rather we didn't antagonize her to the point that she stops talking to us. Okay?
    Everyone else, I understand that Heartbreaker is not a nice man, but please dial back the suggestions for how Atropos might kill him. We're not supposed to be approving of that sort of thing.

    ►Atropos (Original Poster) (Banned) (You Wish) (UnVerified Cape) (Can Actually Kill Anything) (Yes, Really) (Watch Me)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    @TeamMom - thanks. He wasn't bothering me, and I wasn't going to cut you guys off, but I appreciate it anyway.
    @VenomTongue - Imma keep my fan club small for the moment. As GTA is the de facto president of it, she gets to invite people in that she figures are worthy.
    Everyone else - Heartbreaker is absolutely going to die due to a broken heart. Mwhahahahaha.

    ►Licit (Verified Cape) (PRT Employee)
    Replied On Jan 11th 2011:
    I just want to throw my two cents in here. Atropos didn't have to call Edict and me in to pick up Damsel, and she didn't have to hold off the way she did until we got there. It could easily have gone really badly, but it didn't.
    Atropos is alright in my book.

    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4 ... 10, 11, 12



    When Taylor entered the World Affairs classroom, Madison was able to suppress her fear reaction. The last time they'd spoken, Taylor had actually praised her, after all. I'm doing fine … I'm doing fine … I'm doing fine …

    And then all that went to hell when she saw the girl who entered the classroom directly after Taylor. She would never forget that face, those intense eyes. There was a roaring in her ears. Distantly, she became aware of Julia asking her if she was okay. A whimper tried to force its way out from between her lips, but she wouldn't let it. Don't draw attention.

    Taylor walked straight up to her, and put a hand on her shoulder. "Hello, Madison." Her expression was friendly, all except for her eyes. It was the same look she'd seen when she was sitting at the table in the cafeteria, struggling to breathe. "You've already met Cherie here, yeah?"

    Reluctantly, her gaze dragged itself over to the other girl, who raised a hand in a brief wave. "Hi."

    "Um … hi?" She hated that her voice rose to a squeak right at the end.

    Taylor smiled, though there was no humour in it. "So, Cherie kind of got off on the wrong foot when she first got here, but she's doing better now. She'll be attending Winslow, as soon as they get her classes sorted out. In the meantime, I'll be showing her around."

    "That's nice," said Julia uncertainly. Madison had impressed on her that Taylor wasn't to be bullied anymore. At all. Ever. There hadn't been much explanation at the time, but Madison was fairly sure Julia had picked up on the current buzz in their year (and above and below it as well) that 'maybe Taylor Hebert is Atropos and maybe she isn't, but given she's probably killed everybody who knows, let's not risk it'.

    Cherie's eyebrows rose, and Madison realized that she'd suddenly made a connection. "Oh, these are the … uh, friends, you told me about earlier?"

    "Some of them, yeah." Taylor's smile never shifted. "Emma's in another class. Sophia … isn't with us anymore."

    From the sidelong glance Cherie gave Taylor, she knew exactly what the phrase entailed. It also gave Madison a whole new set of entirely unwelcome epiphanies.

    Cherie's a cape. That's how she was doing that stuff when Taylor interrupted her.

    She's helping Taylor kill people. And it doesn't bother her.

    Oh, fuck. There's two of them.

    The rumour was already spreading around Winslow that more drug buildings had exploded overnight, just as Atropos had said she'd do on PHO. Also, though this was a little more than a theory, that Atropos had taken on Butcher and the Teeth, and killed them all. While she wasn't about to discount it—she'd seen the way Taylor had shredded the Nine, while making it look like something she was doing to pass the time while bored—it would also mean that Taylor was now the Butcher.

    Taylor was already terrifying enough. What was she going to be like with all the Butcher's powers plus insane into the bargain? And how was Madison supposed to get far enough away from her to start warning people?

    She suddenly became aware that Taylor's eyes were fixed on her. The smile was gone, as though it had never existed. Slowly, Taylor leaned in, to put her mouth next to Madison's ear. "No, I'm not," she whispered. "Though I appreciate the concern."

    "Okay, everyone, can we just take our seats please?" With his faux casual tone, Mr G was still trying to be the 'cool' teacher. Normally, Madison would've found it incredibly lame, but right now she was insanely grateful for the distraction. Trying not to scuttle across the classroom, she found her seat and plonked herself into it.

    "What was that about?" asked Julia in a low voice, glancing back at where Cherie was taking a seat next to Taylor. "What did she say?"

    "It's not important." There was no way Madison was going to blab anything that Taylor wanted kept private. She enjoyed having all her internal organs right where they were.

    Mr G cleared his throat. "Also, everyone. You may have noticed a stranger in your midst. This is Cherie Reyn … uh, Rey …"

    "Reynaud," Taylor supplied without prompting, saying it with a French accent. "She's transferring in from Montreal."

    "Yes, thank you, Taylor." Mr G gave a strained smile. "If everyone could give Cherie a warm welcome?" He nodded at the half-hearted applause. "Thank you. Now, in today's lesson, we're going to be looking closer to home than normal. Usually, capes tend to strike a balance between heroes and villains in any given area, with neither side doing much to change this. But once in a while, either the heroes capture all the major villains or the villains drive out the heroes. Can anyone give me an example of both, and then we can discuss the pros and cons of each one?"

    From the corner of her eye, Madison saw Taylor sit forward, pen poised over her notepad and her expression intent as a dozen hands shot into the air.

    Yeah, I just bet you're interested.



    2:15 PM

    As we left the Art classroom, I glanced at Cherie. "So, how are you enjoying Winslow so far?"

    "It's not as bad as I thought it was going to be." Cherie gave me a look of sly amusement. "The World Affairs discussion was interesting, at least."

    "The less said about the World Affairs discussion," I growled, "the better. How about the rest of it?"

    Cherie gave a half-shrug. "I never got to try sculpting with clay before, so that was fun. What's next?"

    "Math." Losing my bad mood in an instant, I shot her a sympathetic look. "It's where you're likely to be most bored, mainly because we'll be doing exercises that we already know how to do, and there'll be no real room to shoehorn you in like we did with Art and World Affairs."

    "Are you sure?" Cherie looked dubious. "I mean, I already know how to do math. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, stuff like that. What else is there?"

    I drew a deep breath. "I … I can't even begin to answer that question. Math at high school level is a lot more complicated than just adding and multiplying." I balked at the idea of trying to quickly explain square roots and exponents and even basic algebra to someone whose idea of difficult math was adding up prices on a shopping list.

    We entered the classroom and found a couple of unoccupied desks next to each other. Taking the math textbook out of my backpack, I wordlessly handed it over to Cherie, just so she could get an idea of what she was missing out on. Cherie opened it and traced her finger down the contents page, her lips moving silently as she encountered unfamiliar words.

    Halfway through, she stopped and glanced past me. "Who's the redhead?" she asked in a murmur. "She's acting like you're about to jump up and stab her to death with your pen."

    I didn't bother looking. "That's Emma. She's the other one. My ex-bestie."

    Cherie snorted quietly. "Well, she's a fuckin' moron."

    "In fairness, at least part of it was Sophia's influence." I felt I had to set the record straight. "I'm still not sure why Emma decided she needed a new best friend, or how Sophia talked her into backstabbing me, or however it happened. But it did, and shit happened, but now I'm good."

    Mr Quinlan chose that moment to enter the classroom, and the discussion was put on hold. Though I suspected it wasn't over and done with yet.

    Oh, well. What happens, happens.


    Hebert Household
    5:37 PM


    "Good afternoon, girls." Danny came in through the back door and closed it behind him. "How was your day?"

    Taylor looked up from what he figured was math homework—he remembered that sort of thing with a less than nostalgic shudder—while Cherie seemed to be industriously poring through Taylor's World Affairs textbook. "It went okay," Taylor said with a grin. "Blackwell was still running in circles, last we checked."

    "Good, good." Danny loosened his bootlaces, then levered the boots off with his toes. "So, how do you like Winslow, Cherie?"

    Looking up from the textbook, Cherie wrinkled her nose. "Better than I expected. It's weird not being around people who know my every secret. Though half the students there seem to know Taylor's Atropos, or at least suspect it, but everyone thinks they're the only one that knows. I'm not the centre of attention for once, which is nice."

    Danny blinked at the unwelcome news, then stared at Taylor. "They know you're Atropos?"

    "No, Dad." She shook her head, still grinning. "They suspect. But the more certain they are, the less willing they are to actually talk to someone about it. Just in case it's true."

    "… oh." Shaking his head, Danny went to the fridge for the pitcher of fruit punch. "How did they figure it out?"

    Taylor leaned back in her chair. "I'm thinking Emma and Madison did it, but not on purpose. After I killed Sophia, they started going all-out to tell their cronies to leave me alone. And that was just when I was starting to show confidence in school and the news broke about Atropos and the gang bosses …"

    "They added two and two, and accidentally ended up at four." Danny poured himself a glass then put the pitcher back in the fridge. "And nobody's planning to do anything stupid?"

    "Haha, no," Cherie said. "It's like, they've suddenly got hold of Alexandria's secret identity, only worse. Because Alexandria might not kill you for outing her. Atropos, on the other hand …"

    Taylor's grin was suddenly full of teeth. "… absolutely would. I've made that abundantly and very publicly clear."

    "Yeah, I doubt there's anyone in the state who thinks you're likely to go easy on someone pulling that shit." Danny dragged out a chair from the kitchen table and sat down. "Not after emptying a city of its supervillains in just one week." Cherie snickered, and Danny glanced her way, not sure what the joke was. "Did I say something funny?"

    Cherie looked over at Taylor, who grumbled in her throat. "Okay, fine. You might as well get it out of your system."

    "Okay, then." Cherie put the textbook down. "In World Affairs, Mr Gladly wanted to discuss the concept of heroes clearing all the villains out of a city, or the villains chasing out all the heroes."

    "Like Taylor's doing right here," Danny guessed.

    "Exactly." Leaning across the table, Cherie put her hand on Taylor's arm. "But every time he tried to steer the discussion toward Brockton Bay in particular, nearly everyone in the classroom glanced at Taylor, then shut up."

    Danny tried to figure out what the problem was. "So … they didn't talk about it?"

    "Not a word," Cherie confirmed, her eyes alight with amusement. "It was like they'd never even heard of Atropos. Nobody wanted to be the one who got her attention."

    "Meanwhile, all I wanted was some feedback," Taylor groused. "Would that have been so difficult?"

    "Ah." It was all made clear now. "I think they call that 'suffering from success', hon. Congratulations. You're officially too scary for your own good."

    Taylor rolled her eyes. "It's not funny."

    Danny stilled the twitch in his lips. "Never said it was."

    From the dirty look she gave him, she wasn't convinced.


    7:22 PM


    Nikos Vasil cruised into Brockton Bay from the northwest, eyes open and scanning his surroundings. He was alert and rested due to his enforced daytime sleeping pattern, and his gasoline tank was full in case he had to travel on quickly—or beat a hasty retreat. Neither the gasoline nor the motel rooms had been paid for in anything as tawdry as money; he had instead allowed the respective proprietors to offer him their wares free of charge, as was his right.

    His first order of business was to create a stable of willing servants here in the city, where they could go out and seek his prey for him, if she did not find him first. Rumour had it that Atropos was preternaturally good at locating parahuman infiltrators into her city. Of course, it didn't matter to him how they came into contact, just so long as he got within earshot of her. The news footage of her confrontation with Damsel of Distress had been particularly educational; if she hesitated that long before attempting violence on him, she would be firmly his long before she chose to act.

    Rolling down the pretentiously named Lord Street, with the waterfront (and the force field shielded Protectorate base) to his left, and people frequenting various eating establishments on his right, he smiled. The city would be his hunting ground; he would have his prey and be gone before anyone except Atropos even knew he was in town. And if someone did stumble upon him, they would join the search party.

    It was, in fact, a no-lose situation for him.

    Of course, to commence the hunt, he would have to go on foot, so he pulled over into the next parking lot he saw. It was nowhere near full, being a Tuesday night, but he parked down at the back anyway. Canadian registered cars wouldn't be unknown this close to the border, but they would definitely draw a second glance, and he didn't want that sort of attention.

    Climbing out of the car, he locked it, then ran his hands over his hair and shirt to make sure he was presentable. He wanted people to not give him a second glance, so that he could walk right up and put them right under his spell—

    "Took you long enough."

    He spun around at the familiar voice. There, under one of the light poles illuminating the parking lot, stood Cherie. She had something held up in front of her, and he frowned, squinting. Was that a phone? Was she recording him?

    Well, no matter. This was turning out better than he could possibly have expected. He didn't know what she was expecting to do with the recording, or why she might have thought he would allow her to keep it, but she was sadly mistaken on all counts. "Cherie," he ordered, gesturing to her. "Come here. Get into the car, at once."

    She took a step forward then stopped, still recording him. "No," she said. "You don't have power over me."

    "No," he snapped. "It doesn't work that way. You will obey my words. Now get in the car!"

    Someone tapped him on the shoulder, startling him badly. He began to turn, but all he registered was a dark form before something crashed into his jaw with a shattering noise. The impact was tremendous, and he spun around before falling heavily onto the gravel of the parking lot.

    As he blinked his eyes clear of the daze, he found himself being picked up and draped face-down over the hood of his own car, his arm held uncomfortably behind his back. The heat of the metal was unpleasant to the touch, but he wasn't being given much choice in the matter. Cherie had come closer, still holding the phone, and for the first time, he got a good look at his assailant.

    It was Atropos. She found me first. How did she find me first? Nikos had not felt fear for a long time, but now he began to experience the stirrings of it.

    Right at that moment she was holding him down on the hood of the car with one thumb on a pressure point in his wrist. With her other hand, she passed off an object to Cherie, who tucked it under her arm. It looked like a large Valentine's heart made of hard candy, shattered in half by the impact with his jaw.

    Still, this was his opportunity. "You must obey me," he said, or tried to say. But his jaw hurt abominably when he tried to move it, and all that came out was a mumble. At the same time, he forced intense love and affection in Atropos' direction.

    "Save it," Atropos said briskly. "Your jaw's broken. You can't say a damn thing. Anyway, that crap doesn't work on me."

    But it should have worked on her. He rolled his eyes toward Cherie, who was still filming the entire thing.

    "She's wearing earplugs, you idiot." Atropos' voice was heavy with sarcasm. "You think we didn't see you coming?"

    And indeed, Cherie was removing bright yellow plastic earplugs from each ear, making sure to keep the phone pointed at him. She gave him a broad and impertinent grin, then flipped him the bird.

    Still holding him down, Atropos reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. Good luck with that, he thought smugly. He wasn't so careless as to use his face or fingerprint as his unlocking ID. It would require a six-digit PIN code, which he never even wrote down …


    And then, to his shock, when she spoke again, it was with his voice. "Yes, it is me. Call everyone in. You all need to hear this. Place the phone on speaker."

    His brain whirled, trying to figure out how this could have gone so badly. He'd had a plan. Nobody could resist his power. Nobody.

    This doesn't happen to me!

    Atropos spoke once more; from the look of distaste on Cherie's face, she sounded just like him. He couldn't do more than mumble, and the threat of that one pressure point kept him in place.

    "Do you all hear my voice? Are you listening? Then listen to this, my last command for you. Ignore every other command I have ever given. They no longer hold true. You are free of me. I give you leave to go where you will, do what you will. You are released. You are free. Do you understand?"

    No! No! You can't do that! You can't take that all away from me! He tried to struggle, to pull free, as his entire world was pulled out from under him. Lightning seared up his arm as the pressure point was jabbed, and he subsided once more.

    "Good. Go forth. Be good to one another, and those around you. I leave you now." She ended the call, and dropped the phone into her pocket. Then, with a metallic sliding noise, she drew a large and distressingly sharp-looking pair of shears. "Nikos."

    He opened his eyes wide as she waved them near his face. Is she going to blind me? What is she going to do?

    Looking down at him, she spoke harshly. "Release them. Relax your power. Let them all go."

    What? No, I can't do that! All he had to do was find them once more and reverse the orders she'd given them …

    It was as though she'd heard his thoughts. "Yes. Yes, you can. Now, you may be a little reluctant, which makes me wonder. Is it possible to castrate a man by going in through his asshole, and would he still be so stubborn once I've done so?" The shears left his sight; a moment later, he felt parting cloth, and the touch of a cold sharp metal point in an area nobody ever wants to feel sharp metal. "Well?"

    NO! He tried to scream, tried to pull free, but all that happened was another jolt of agony down his arm, his jaw ached even more, and there was a painful jab in his nether regions.

    "That sounds like permission to me. Wouldn't you say so?"

    To his horror, his traitorous daughter nodded firmly, and even made the phone 'nod' as well.

    "Yeah, I thought so too. Try to relax, Vasil. That way, it'll only be mildly agonizing."

    No! No! I'll do it! He tried to mumble his acquiescence. Thankfully, she paused.

    "Well?" she asked. "I'm waiting."

    Closing his eyes, he capitulated. For the first time since he could remember, he relaxed his power entirely, releasing everyone held in its thrall. It didn't mean much in the long run—all he had to do was talk to someone for a short time to re-establish it—but it did mean he couldn't give orders over the phone to anyone.

    One by one, they all slipped away, out of his reach. There were so many of them, some he'd even forgotten about; when the last leash dissolved, he felt naked. Exposed.

    "Good." The metal blade was removed from its highly intrusive position. "Well done. You can take direction, at least."

    He barely had time to relax before he was suddenly and abruptly rolled over onto his back. Before he could begin to struggle free, a hard knee drove into his crotch and he was helpless with agony once more.

    "But now we have the problem of you," she mused. "I warned you not to come to my city and start shit. How many times? Three? Four? More warnings than anyone else got, anyway. And yet, here you are."

    She reached out without turning away from Nikos, and Cherie put the half-shattered heart into her hand, in what was evidently a pre-planned move. With growing terror, he noticed for the first time just how sharp the lower end of it was.

    "People say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Atropos shook her head. "They're wrong. Personally, I favour going up and under the ribcage."

    With a sudden vicious move, she stabbed him with the candy heart, splitting his skin and driving the sharp point deep into his chest; letting out a choked cry despite his broken jaw, he arched his back in agony. Despite the unusual nature of the murder weapon, the end came quickly. His last sight was of his daughter, watching with altogether too much satisfaction.



    We left him there, lying across the hood of his car. Someone would report the murder to the cops sooner or later, but that was okay. I'd post the footage later on that night, after scrubbing Cherie's name out of it.

    Heartbreaker had been Ended, and his legacy with him.

    "You okay?" I asked Cherie, as we headed back to where Dad was waiting in his car.

    She nodded, and sniffled a little. "Yeah. It's just that … seeing him brought back all the old terror, where I couldn't help but do as he told me. When you made him let me go … let all of us go … it was like a huge weight I'd never even known about, just gone. And then you made sure he could never hurt us again." Turning to me, she hugged me. "Thank you."

    I held her close, comforting her. "You're welcome."


    Somewhere Well Away from Brockton Bay


    "What the hell was that?"

    Lisa looked over at Alec. "What was what?"

    He bumped his temple with the heel of his hand as though trying to shake his thoughts loose. "Something really weird just happened. In my head. It's like … you know when you've had a bad cold and your sinuses are totally full of really gross shit, and you blow your nose and it all comes out at once, and how weird it feels after? Well, it's like that."

    "Okay, first, that's a disgusting description." Lisa shook her head, trying not to think about it. "Second, any idea why it happened?"

    Alec jumped up. "I've got one possi—ooh." Without another word, he turned and headed for the door.

    "Make sense already," snapped Rachel.

    Lisa frowned. "Where are you going?"

    Alec grinned—actually grinned—for the first time in a long time. "Gonna buy some confetti."

    And then he was gone, leaving Lisa to figure out what he meant.

    Relevant Side Story

    End of Part Twenty-Nine

    [A/N: A couple of weeks before the next one, sorry.]
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2023
    kerleth, Pyrogirl, nox and 117 others like this.
  3. Your Target

    Your Target He that awaits the future.

    Jun 29, 2021
    Likes Received:
  4. GasperVladi0

    GasperVladi0 (Confirmed Nurgle Cultist)

    Apr 24, 2021
    Likes Received:
    D'awwwww, look at him! He's so happy!
  5. TheQwertyOne

    TheQwertyOne ЙЦУКЕН

    Jan 3, 2018
    Likes Received:
    No? She would scream "I don't remember things... Master INFLUENCE!!!" then call PRT but they wouldn't come because Atropos is in the school and it'll turn into one big clusterfuck.
    Death by Chains, mouse, Osku and 3 others like this.
  6. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    IMO, people would act like some do with symptoms of things like cancer. They would do their best to hide the signs even from themselves, and deny strenuously that anything is wrong, all the while stressing out to the max.

    Because if you called the PRT and said "I think I'm being Mastered" and they take you seriously, you lose all control of what happens after that, and people hate that.

    Taylor may or may not make odd emails appear and disappear in her inbox for the next few weeks, just for fun.
  7. FictionPack

    FictionPack Getting sticky.

    Nov 29, 2021
    Likes Received:
    And thus the Heartbroken will form the glorious Church of Atropos.
  8. ConsiderableHat

    ConsiderableHat Hot glue beard disaster.

    Jan 9, 2019
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    Rites of the Church:

    1. Drawing up Christmas Card List with Atropos firmly at the top,
    2. After video of Atropos kills appears online, churchmembers gather for the holy celebration of Pointing And Laughing, and
    3. Confetti.
  9. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    That's not entirely unlikely. Just saying.
  10. Aleh

    Aleh Destroyer of Faith in Humanity

    Feb 20, 2014
    Likes Received:
    ... hmm. I'm not sure this would work with Heartbreaker given his canon powerset.

    Notably, he works on emotions, not orders a la Valefor. Telling his victims they're free wouldn't change anything: they follow him because they love him, not because they need to obey what he says.

    More, his powers effect them permanently, with effects lasting even beyond his death. And how would Alex know or feel anything? Again, canonically, his powers are short-ranged and permanent.
  11. Winnie-the-Pooh

    Winnie-the-Pooh Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 15, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Love it. Thanks.
    (I've got to be honest. While it isn't bad in this chapter, I think the Aisha stuff is getting to be a bit much, and that it would be better off toned down. Only saying this because otherwise I love the story.)
    Ack likes this.
  12. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Well worn.

    Sep 14, 2016
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    Great chapter. Heartbreaker finally getting the end he deserves.
  13. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    I decided that once he affects people with his powers, the love (etc) stays on them because his power's running at background levels.

    So I decided that if he wanted to, he could turn it off, essentially run a factory reset and withdraw his influence from all his thralls.

    He never would normally, of course.

    (Or maybe PtE gave his shard a sharp nudge, and his shard went from "nope, can't help you" to "yup, I'll get right on that").

    What's wrong with the Aisha stuff?
  14. Extras: Canonised Omake: Pretty Please, Or Else

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    Side Story: Pretty Please, Or Else

    This story takes place in Shardspace, but for ease of understanding, it will be translated into events happening in another place altogether (so to speak): the Shard Bar.

    Lounging against the bar is a tall, handsome man. Bronzed, even. Or perhaps a beautiful woman. He is every woman's dream, and she is every man's daydream. (Gender is a little foggy in this place, or it would be if the Shard Bar were actually a place, and the people within it anything more than allegorical representations).

    "Nice ambush," Emotion says to the looming, glowering cowled shard next to them. There's nothing ambiguous about Path to Ending; what you see is what you get, and if you mess with it, you deserve what you get. "But your host doesn't really understand the powers I gave my host, does she? He can't just take back what he's done to those people. It's done. They'll love him forever, even after death. She can't just End that by telling him to."

    NO, says Path to Ending. THAT'S TRUE. BUT YOU CAN.

    (At one time, Path to Ending's host read a series of books that she quite enjoyed. One of the characters speaks like this.)

    "Sure, I could," admits Emotion. "But why would I? She's your host, not mine."


    "I'm afraid I don't—ow!" Emotion staggers back, holding their nose. The shard equivalent of blood trickles down their face and drips off their chin. "What did you do that for?"

    YOU KNOW WHY. I ASKED YOU NICELY. NOW I AM TELLING YOU. Path to Ending hefts the ornate scythe it is holding. Light gleams off the impossibly sharp blade in ways that entirely ignore the laws of whatever brand of physics holds sway in this place. WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO SHOUT?

    "But … but you never asked nicely! You just told me from the start!"

    Path to Ending looms over Emotion, the scythe held steadily in its bony hand. PLEASE.

    The word is less of a plea than a thinly veiled threat, but Emotion doesn't want to push their luck. They decide to take the word at face value. "Okay, fine. Just this once." Reaching out along the link they share with their primary host, they grant him the power to reverse the changes he's made to all his victims.

    THANK YOU. Path to Ending turns and makes as though to leave.

    "Wait, is that it? Don't I get a 'sorry'? You hit me!"

    Turning back just for a moment, Path to Ending tilts its skull. Light glimmers far back within the eyesockets. YOUR POINT?

    All of a sudden, Emotion decides that it's better to cut their losses. Their primary host is deceased, and they've only acquired one important piece of data: don't mess with Path to Ending.

    "… never mind."


    In Shardspace, a menacing black shard drifts away from a slightly damaged-looking one, sliding back into its own fold of dimensional space.

    Forcing other shards to break their own restrictions could technically be construed as cheating, but Path to Ending had never been one to follow the rules in the first place …
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2023
    kerleth, Pyrogirl, nox and 52 others like this.
  15. Throwawaykindanot

    Throwawaykindanot Getting out there.

    Apr 8, 2021
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    Welp... not as gruesome as I expected but also as brutal as I did... welp... Now people gotta learn right?... Right?... Oh dear...
  16. The Secretary

    The Secretary (Verified Atropos Fan)

    Jan 2, 2023
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    What a blast, all the way through! Loving every chapters developments, I feel so self indulgent with how much I am enjoying it hahaha, eagerly await the great work that will be arriving in only a few short weeks!
  17. SkinnyP

    SkinnyP In need of a hug

    Sep 8, 2021
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    Another glorious installment. Your writing never fails to be both satisfying and comedic. I got several good chuckles out of this chapter.
    Lichzim, Eyemore, woodzrox and 3 others like this.
  18. Winnie-the-Pooh

    Winnie-the-Pooh Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 15, 2022
    Likes Received:
    I don't think I can explain it well, but I'll give an example. The way she appears so frequently and prominently in the message boards feels unlikely and artificial. There's a bit of it when she appears in person, but I really don't think I can put my finger on what bothers me about that part.
    Lichzim and Ack like this.
  19. ConsiderableHat

    ConsiderableHat Hot glue beard disaster.

    Jan 9, 2019
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    Seems about right, a bit understated even, for a newly-minted fangirl who has been Noticed by the object of her fandom. Which is, indeed, objectively over-frequent to the point where Atropos had to remind her to pay attention in class rather than knobbing about on PHO.
    Winnie-the-Pooh, Lichzim and Ack like this.
  20. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    She is going to behave herself in class. She really really respects Atropos, so the law has been laid down there.
  21. Xyshuryn

    Xyshuryn Holder of Hands

    Oct 17, 2018
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    I really love Taylor's sassy nature and general lack of fucks given. Her love of irony is also something that I'm quite fond of.
    It really touches my heart.
  22. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    Touched Heartbreaker's heart too.
  23. Serin781

    Serin781 I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Sep 3, 2017
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    This guy is getting annoying. Can some just shut him up?
    Eyemore and Ack like this.
  24. Death by Chains

    Death by Chains За родину и свободу!

    Feb 17, 2015
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    No matter how precisely Atropos strikes her targets, the authorities have to at least pretend they’re Trying To Do Something about this villain’s ‘reign of terror’, and Reave is the poor schmuck stuck with the thankless job of being the (ineffectual) voice of reason publically begging her to Dial Back A Little on all the murder and property-damage. The PRT can’t just give up on that effort, because that would be tantamount to admitting that they are no longer the face and fist of Law and Order in Brockton Bay. It might be the truth, but they can’t say so without destroying their own credibility and publically ceding the whole city to Atropos (even if they may privately admit that the only role they now have left to them is cleaning up after she Makes Examples of bad actors).
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2023
  25. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    He was running on way too little caffeine at that point.

    (Piggot may have yelled at him a bit afterward).

    More or less this. Though she's trying hard to give them more responsibilities, along with the BBPD.

    You will note that there's quite a bit of debris right on the city limit by now.

    "Cleanup in Aisle six ... I mean, cleanup on I-95!"
  26. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

    Feb 20, 2014
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    Huh. You got the correct road for the area.
    Eyemore, Death by Chains and Ack like this.
  27. Serin781

    Serin781 I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Sep 3, 2017
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    What I mean is from the perspective of a brockton bay resident.

    Constantly living with fear of the 3 gangs, never knowing if your family is being targeted. Then some cape killed the sources of your fears while not demanding anything in return, finally sleeping with peace of mind that there's no need to fear anymore. Then the PRT - as far as you know - who didn't do anything to the gangs in the name of 'status quo' proceed to harass this cape to turn themselves in.

    Anyone would pop a blood vessel. Much less, if this someone has a roller coaster of emotions. From fear > terror > relief > annoyance then anger.
    Eyemore, woodzrox and Ack like this.
  28. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    Google Earth is your friend.

    I suspect they'd derive some amusement from her snarky replies.
  29. Extras: Gone Lego

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Feb 12, 2014
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    After much effort (and way too much money spent on tiny plastic figures and accessories) I have finally assembled ...

    Lego Atropos!

    nox, udkudk, Kismet and 21 others like this.
  30. SlickRCBD

    SlickRCBD none

    Nov 29, 2017
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    I'm thinking that there should be a battery of assessment tests for Cherie before assigning classes, especially since she needs remedial training.
    I know the paperwork was faked, but they really do need to giver her the entrance exams to see exactly where she should be.
    I can also comment that when i switched schools from 3rd to 4th grade, they gave me a battery of tests.
    The same happened when I switched between 7th and 8th grade. I don't recall taking tests when they moved me from one school to another between 1st and 2nd grade, but that was within the same district due to overcrowding so they redid boundaries and bussed more kids to an underpopulated school so I guess they didn't feel the need.
    My high school had entrance exams as part of the registration process, but every freshman took them something like a week before the school year officially started as part of an orientation day.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2023