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Charm Learning Shard (Worm/Exalted) (COMPLETED)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Daniel Snuts, Apr 24, 2022.

  1. CollectionHL

    CollectionHL Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann

    Oct 4, 2020
    Likes Received:
    I bet tomorrow when she goes to her base the PTR or the Empire will be there to search the lab and arrest the minion. she made too many suspicious purchases.

    Luckily she has a spy wolf, so she will only lose her lair, the money she invested, her minion and and her plans to be Tinker. Basically normal for Taylor.
    Eyemore, Anor and WinterPhoenix like this.
  2. eeda

    eeda I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Jan 2, 2021
    Likes Received:
    Wow Best Dog is OP don't nerf please! just send the dogo to steal all the money in the bank at the same time the Undersaiders are doing it :V
    WinterPhoenix likes this.
  3. Kathunk

    Kathunk I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Mar 19, 2015
    Likes Received:
    "No, you don't understand, it wasn't Bitch, it was the other giant monster canine Master cape, who you've never heard of! She sent her giant invisible wolf to frame us!"
    "Suuure it was, miss psychic. Come along now Tattletale, we've got a nice comfy prison cell for you. We'll even give you a magnetic whiteboard with a bunch of little pins to stick on it and all the string you can make connections with, ok?"
    Last edited: May 5, 2022
  4. Daniel Snuts

    Daniel Snuts Know what you're doing yet?

    Apr 23, 2022
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    Tipping off the authorities, in this economy? Geoffrey wouldn't do that, he's hoping for more overpaid delivery jobs, and possibly full-time henchman status down the line.

    Aside from the common delivery destination, her purchases weren't even suspicious. People buy steel and propane for any number of mundane applications, and the clerk who rang up her mirrors just rolled his eyes thinking 'another deviant tiling their bedroom ceiling'.
    Dakkah, Eyemore, eeda and 3 others like this.
  5. Malexander

    Malexander Currently not in Prague.

    Sep 27, 2021
    Likes Received:
    There's a story here and I'm not sure if I want to hear it.
    Eyemore, eeda and space turtle like this.
  6. MejaisBlack

    MejaisBlack Know what you're doing yet?

    Nov 30, 2020
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    There are hotel rooms with a mirror in the ceiling so people can watch themselves having sex without having to get out of the bed. I'd imagine it's something in that ballpark.
    Eyemore, eeda and Malexander like this.
  7. Threadmarks: S.10
    Daniel Snuts

    Daniel Snuts Know what you're doing yet?

    Apr 23, 2022
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    Unlike yesterday, this morning you're out of bed, dressed, breakfasted and out the door before the sun has even risen. Can't waste any daylight. Literally, your Tinker power informs you that you need all the daylight you can get for your project.

    You also need gold. Because of course artificial magma and natural sunlight wasn't inconvenient enough already. You do have some gold, though. There was a small box in the back of your closet, containing your mother's jewelry. Yours, now. Some of it was made of gold.

    When dad handed you the box after the funeral, you had no idea what to do with it. He would be incredibly upset if you sold it, obviously. But he would be almost as upset if he saw you wearing it. Worse really, because it would be the kind of upset where he would have to pretend that he wasn't. You would be upset if you wore it. So you just put it away and never looked at it again. In the years since then, neither of you mentioned its existence even once.

    It felt like desecration, taking it. Grave robbing. Even though mom would want you to melt it down. 'Better to get some use of it than to let it sit around forgotten', she'd say. But that line of thinking isn't about to cheer you up any time soon. There's quite a few things mom would say, if she could see you and dad now.

    (It wasn't pure gold, of course, they don't make jewelry out of that. But compared to the contraption you're building in your lair, taking care of that little detail barely pinged your Tinker radar. A bit of copper, a bit of lead, a bit of acid, done.)

    Dad isn't up yet, so you leave a note detailing your mostly fictitious plans for the day. You suspect that most teenagers would be facing serious suspicion and scrutiny right about now, but the stark contrast with your previous life of helpless moping is working out in your favor. Between Danny's obvious relief at your newfound initiative and his general failure as a parent, you should be safe for a while yet.

    At the forge, you hustle Jim out with instructions to return after sunset. As long as he doesn't see you working the furnace you have the barest, most threadbare fig leaf of deniability that you're just another henchperson, subcontracting the boring/uncomfortable bits of working for the mystery Tinker known as, uh, Smith? Yeah, sure, your new cape name is Smith.

    Then dawn breaks and you're far too busy to think about anything else. Quick, gold into the crucible, crucible into the magma. Mirror into position. Doesn't do much until the sun rises high enough to shine directly through the skylight, but every little bit helps. You make minor adjustments to the lenses to maximize the amount of light hitting the gold, then get to work on building the next mirror.

    The day passes in a blur after that. You constantly have to switch between constructing more mirrors and adjusting the existing ones as the sun moves across the sky, and every finished mirror means another change to the improvised mess of optics focusing the light into the glory hole and holy shit it's like a sauna in here yeah duh magma and now the sun has gone down and you haven't eaten anything all day or drunk anything either and you've sweated enough that you might actually have passed out and died if not for your Brute 0 powers and is Tinkering always like this for everyone?

    Even Jim comments on your bedraggled appearance when he arrives. Which is fair, he clearly has his shit together better than you do right now, and probably smells better too. You leave him to keep the furnace going overnight and stagger home for a shower.

    But of course the day isn't over yet. You have to visit Emma, to pay back the loan and maintain your relationship. No, it's not villain money, you promise. You quit at the dog shelter, you're henching for a Rogue now. Let's watch a movie and exchange gossip! Please god let the school transfer go through soon so you can drop this charade and focus on nicer, saner minions, like the guy who hears voices telling him to do unspecified terrible things to underage girls.


    Monday, and once more you're up unreasonably early. You told dad that you're going out jogging before school, to get in better shape. And to be fair, you were in terrible shape before you triggered. Pretending to exercise is actually a good cover for your increased physical capabilities.

    With the majority of the construction done, things are much calmer at the forge today. Even though you need to regularly adjust the mirrors and optics to keep up with the sun, and work the furnace to keep the magma at just the right temperature, you still have plenty of time to sit down and sketch out potential improvements for when you have a real budget. The fact that you remembered to pack a lunch and a water bottle today doesn't hurt either.

    The day passes uneventfully, and Jim turns up right on time once more. Score one for Loyalty-based reliability. You set off towards Empire territory for your first day at work.

    The address you were given turns out to be a bar. A front, obviously, but when you step inside you see that it is a back and a middle as well, so to speak. It really is a bar. Very cozy, with the dim lighting, rough-hewn wooden beams in the ceiling and dark green and brown decor. Very much how you imagine a place where no-nonsense working class people would go for a drink after work, where everyone knows their name. And should a person whose name isn't known show up, everyone would go silent and stare balefully at the intruder. Like what is happening to you right now.

    You stop just inside the door and consider what to do next. You weren't told who you were supposed to report to specifically, but this is clearly the right place. You can tell by the way almost everyone is sporting the same fashionable haircut.

    "Low Key! Over here!" someone calls out. The atmosphere relaxes considerably and conversations gradually resume as people turn away from you. You recognize Alex waving you over.

    As you make your way over to his table, another detail catches your eye. For a working class bar, they seem to be serving an unusual amount of soft drinks. Almost as if the patrons were maintaining a state of readiness or something. Funny that.

    Alex is sitting with Mike and Sven (Sven is still glaring at you suspiciously, or maybe that's just how his face looks), who both offer you monosyllabic greetings and curt nods. You respond in kind. Rather than offer you a seat, Alex stands up and guides you to a back room. Here finally all pretenses fall away. This is clearly an op center. The walls are covered with whiteboards showing schedules, and maps showing patrol routes. Several people with headsets are manning computers.

    You are given a burner phone, instructions to only use it to call this place, some recognition codes to memorize, a pat on the back and a swift kick in the rear. Metaphorically speaking. Alex is hustling you back out before you can even check that the phone is programmed with the number to the op center. He then keeps hustling you all the way out into the street. Mike gets up and follows you. Ok, apparently your shift is starting right away, and you're taking Sven's place.

    "Sooo... what are we doing, exactly?" you ask.


    When you decided to infiltrate a gang, you made peace with the fact that you would end up having to commit crimes.

    The Merchants mostly deal drugs, with a minor bit of prostitution on the side, mostly to help their customers afford their product. The ABB mostly deal with sex trafficking, with a minor bit of drug business on the side, mostly to help keep their chattel under control. Yes, the ABB also runs a bunch of illegal gambling, and all gangs no doubt dabble in illegal weapons. But the point is, you had mentally filed drugs and whores as the typical gang-related stuff, and expected to be put to work guarding or assisting in the distribution of one or the other.

    You completely failed to account for the fact that your new employers were a nazi gang. You know, right wing extremists? The far right, in case anyone forgot, tends to strongly disapprove of extramarital sex. Nor does addiction go well with the ideal of the Nietzschean übermensch, you suppose. 'Degenerates' (i.e. people who sleep around and/or do drugs) are in fact third on their list of least favorite people, right below non-whites and non-heterosexuals.

    What you're trying to say is, you went in expecting to become a criminal. You did not expect to become a police officer.


    The Empire (Mike explains, and you mentally translate), while nominally occupied territory (part of the United States), enjoys an unusual degree of freedom as a de facto independent nation (police no-go zone). Yes, the vile Zionist Occupation Government (the regular US government) still demands tribute (taxes) from their subject population, but they are allowed (see above re: no-go zone) to maintain their own border security (thugs who beat up non-whites) and police force (thugs who beat up whites). Today you'll be acting in the latter capacity.

    Since it's your first day (he continues), the patrol will be the milkiest of milk runs, in the heart of the Empire. There's unlikely to be any trouble, since the citizenry is generally law-abiding (citation needed) and not even niggers are dumb enough to venture that deeply into Empire territory (probably true). But just in case, here's how it works:

    If you catch a criminal in the act, there's no need for a trial to establish guilt (you feel that you should have an objection to this logic, but can't think of one) and punishment is administered on the spot. If you are instead presented with an accusation, call it in and the op center boys will take it from there.

    The penalty for breaking the law typically takes the form of corporal punishment (assault & battery), and perhaps a fine is levied (robbery). The Empire does not have a prison system (kidnapping), since it considers such punishments cruel and unusual (and, you suspect, unfeasibly impractical and expensive). Nor are its patrolmen authorized to dispense the death penalty (murder). It has happened that individual officers (thugs) elected to mete out capital punishment on their own initiative (flew off the handle and killed someone). Even should the resulting investigation deem that their judgement was justified -

    "Wait, what?" you interrupt. "Justified?"

    "Kid toucher, most recently," Alex says.

    "Oh. Yeah, okay."

    - the Empire can only offer limited protection against the agents of ZOG (actual police) in these cases.

    You nod your understanding. If you strip out their peculiar issues with the government, they are basically just asking you to perform masked vigilantism. Which is surprisingly legal and uncontroversial these days. You will have nothing to feel guilty about as long as you ignore your colleagues patrolling the outskirts of the Empire, performing hate crimes so that you don't have to.


    Your patrol takes place in an inner-city neighborhood, but it's non-euphemistically inner city. The zoning density is high, but everything is clean and in good repair, and the only graffiti is E88 logos. Which, since the Empire apparently fancies itself a government, is more like official signage than graffiti. In short, it has none of the usual warning signs that makes people go 'inner city, it's not safe here'. It actually looks like a decent place to live.

    Though if you are being completely honest with yourself, one of the warning signs that everybody looks for but no one ever admits to is the presence of black people. So, uh, yeah.

    The patrol is uneventful as promised, with your companions often stopping to greet and chat with people they know. You try not to fidget too much. Turns out masked vigilantism in a good neighborhood is unbelievably boring. There's not even any capes around to study.

    Two hours in, the most exciting thing yet happens as you come across a group of obviously drunk young men.

    "Is public intoxication a crime?" you ask hopefully.

    "Not as long as they behave themselves," Mike says.

    "We're behaving, offsicer!" one of them calls out cheerfully, having overheard you.

    His companions turn around and notice you as well, which sets off an excited babble in the group.

    "Hey Alex!"

    "Is that a new cape?"

    "It is!"

    "Is it a boy or a girl? I can't tell."

    "I think it's a girl."

    "Show us your tits!"

    Oh look, they stopped behaving. "Come forth," you whisper, pointing at the last person to speak. "Fetch."

    Fenrir appears with his jaws already snapping shut in front of your target's chest, grabbing a large mouthful of jacket. He throws his head back, lifting the man off his feet. The other drunks scatter.

    "Shit shit shit shit!"

    "Sorry! I'm sorry!"

    "I'm not with him!"

    "Good dog," you say out loud. He performed the fetch exactly as instructed, down to the ongoing rumbling growl as he holds the guy aloft. Well, there's a small trickle of blood, so he probably scraped the skin with his teeth while getting a grip. But that's okay. Speaking of trickles, looks like someone wet himself in fear. Ew.

    "Release him," Mike commands. He does not sound happy.

    Fine. He probably learned his lesson. With another whispered command, Fenrir drops him and trots back to your side. Alex moves to help the guy, while Mike proceeds to lecture you.

    Blah blah blah disproportionate response blah blah excessive force blah blah militarized police as a symptom of a sick society blah blah only necessary to keep the lesser races in line blah blah climate of fear blah. Fine, whatever. You get it. Inner patrol wears kid gloves, because white supremacy. As Alex demonstrates while Mike goes on and on, the proper punishment for disrespecting an officer of the law is apparently a clip around the ear and a quick scolding ("you live in a white society, fucking act like it!").

    "Now dismiss your wolf," Mike finishes.

    "Can't," you say sullenly. "Cape reasons."

    "Jesus. All right, fine." He hands you a bottle of water from his pack. "At least clean the blood off its muzzle. We're not in fucking Africa."

    You do as you're told. At least you get to spend the rest of the patrol mounted instead of walking. It's a lot more comfortable than riding a giant canine bareback has any right to be, and you have no idea whether that's another one from your incomprehensible grab-bag of powers or something innate to Fenrir.

    You continue much like before, except more people stare at you and the conversations include more allusions to how much trouble newbie capes are. Allusions like 'house breaking'. You spend the rest of the patrol sulking showing the proper humility.

    When you try to head home, though, the others insist that you come with them back to the bar. Apparently there's a ceremony for anyone finishing their first patrol.

    You meet Sven on the way back, returning from a patrol of his own. His normal suspicious glare gives way to surprise when he sees you mounted/openly displaying parahuman powers.

    "Did you encounter some rambunctious youths?" he asks with a smile.

    "A couple," you say, "but Mike didn't approve of how roughly I treated them."

    "Wha- really?" He gets the most peculiar facial expression. Alex bursts out laughing.

    You look between them, uncomprehending. "I don't get it?"

    Mike sighs. "He meant 'youths' as in 'black criminals,'" he explains patiently. "You know, like in the newspapers? 'Old lady robbed and beaten by a gang of youths.'"

    "'Five youths hospitalized after E88 hate crime,'" Alex adds helpfully.

    Not to be outdone, Sven starts loudly explaining his own (fairly predictable) feelings towards the 'jewish media'. Again, you get it already. Also, you really need to get around to finding a dictionary of nazi slang.


    The ceremony is quite simple. Mike and Alex are given huge mugs of beer, 'for putting up with the newbie'. You are given an equally large mug full of milk, 'for completing the milk run'.

    The fuck happened to your life, that you'd find yourself in a bar, in gang territory, holding a quart of milk, surrounded by skinheads chanting "chug, chug, chug"? After being scolded for police brutality by a literal jackbooted fascist thug?

    No, you know exactly what happened. Powers happened. And really, would you rather be stuck in your old life? Still going to Winslow, still helpless before the trio? No. A thousand times no.

    Hitching your mask up just enough to uncover your mouth, you chug.


    For the people who don't know anything about Exalted and are really confused right now, by alloying gold with sunlight in a magma forge you create orichalcum, one of the 'five magical materials'. Specifically the one associated with solar exalts, which is why Taylor instinctively knows how make it.

    Orichalcum is unique among the five magical materials in that you can actually make some on Earth Bet. Elemental jade and moonsilver are naturally occurring substances (in Creation) that can't be synthesized (edit: unless you're either a god or a dwarf [fucking dwarves]). And to make soulsteel you need, well, souls. Now maybe one of Glaistig Uaine's faeries would count as a soul for forging purposes, but aside from the obvious logistical problems there, the 'steel' part also needs the ore to be mined in the Underworld (the land of the dead). Which also doesn't exist in your current universe. You hope.

    You could technically make some starmetal right now, but, uh. You really wouldn't want to.

    (starmetal is made from dead spirits)
    Last edited: May 9, 2022
    Svenity, Ambaire, numantia and 108 others like this.
  8. NotaWriter

    NotaWriter I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Mar 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    She would have to kill Bubbles I guess.

    Anyway great story, I'm really liking how it is going.
    TheWoo and N0pe77 like this.
  9. magic9mushroom

    magic9mushroom BEST END.

    Feb 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Mods can as well, and if a mod adds tags to a thread the OP can't remove them.

    Found out about this when a mod added "lewdness in abundance" and "lewdness and tentacles" to Bad Hair Day.
    TheWoo, Akuma-Heika and space turtle like this.
  10. Prognostic Hannya

    Prognostic Hannya Knight of the Yuri Crusade

    Dec 3, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Someone hasn't had enough exposure to the BBPD
    Ragura, ChestBurster, TheWoo and 3 others like this.
  11. KonradC

    KonradC I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Jan 26, 2018
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    Taylor is definitely a treat to read about in this
    space turtle likes this.
  12. space turtle

    space turtle Know what you're doing yet?

    Feb 20, 2015
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    Oh Taylor, if you think this is bad. Wait until you have a dozen random powers with various Manton limits interacting weirdly to make you immune to stabbing to death by soup spoon but not bludgeoning by butter knives.
  13. Threadmarks: S.11
    Daniel Snuts

    Daniel Snuts Know what you're doing yet?

    Apr 23, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Compared to yesterday's disappointment, self defense classes promise to be amazing. There are no less than four capes in the building when you arrive. Also a whole bunch of unpowered skinheads, whatever. Most of them are paired up and sparring, though a few are doing other exercises.

    Of the capes, three of them - Hookwolf, Cricket and Victor - are acting as instructors, while the last - Othala - sits off to the side.

    Othala is clearly the best dressed of the lot: A traditional skintight body suit, deep red with a black symbol in a white circle on the chest. A rune of some sort? You're not norse-gay enough to identify it.

    Victor is also dressed in black and red, but he is using your approach to a costume: Regular street clothes plus a cheap mask and a custom chest piece, in his case a domino and a breastplate. Hookwolf and Cricket even skip the custom chest piece, making do with just the masks. Custom-made metal ones, at least, that no doubt cost a pretty penny. Respectively depicting a wolf and a... hockey goalkeeper?

    In Hookwolf's case he is literally skipping the chest piece: He is bare-chested. Many of his unpowered disciples are following his example. It's quite the feast for the eyes, if you're into big, sweaty, muscular men. Which you kind of are, but the amount of swastika tattoos on display is a bit of a turn-off.

    To understand the way they are sparring, it is necessary to understand Othala: Othala is probably the most important person in the Empire. She can grant a variety of powers with a touch, but only one person and power at a time. Normally this would make her a versatile and decently powerful backline support type, but one of the powers she can grant is regeneration, which elevates her from 'support' to 'healer-with-benefits'.

    Healers are incredibly rare, and the few teams lucky enough to have one enjoy enormous strategic advantages. The impact of having your members recover in minutes from injuries that would normally take weeks or months to heal - or even be permanently crippling - cannot be overstated.

    Not to mention the various side benefits, like the unusually realistic sparring matches you are witnessing right now. Those skinheads are beating the shit out of each other, confident that any damage can be fixed right up.


    At first you're assigned to Victor, who starts teaching you the fundamentals of martial arts. Apparently the fundamentals are 'how to fall over without breaking your own neck'.

    Victor is an excellent teacher, which is unsurprising considering his power is being good at things. Or rather, becoming good at things. A subtle but important distinction. He literally sucks the skills right out of people's brains, like some sort of psychic vampire. This obviously means that he is not going to be using his power while teaching people, which leaves your sorcerer's sight with nothing to study.

    You glance over at Hookwolf. He's not using his power either. Seeing as how his power makes him transform into a giant monster made of chainsaws, his doing so would be even more counterproductive than Victor's.

    Cricket, now. Her power is more modest - enhanced dexterity and situational awareness - and not at all out of place in a sparring match. She is, in fact, using it constantly.

    Which brings you back to Othala. She spends most of her time making cow eyes at Victor, but there is a steady enough stream of injured skinheads passing by that you could study her power as well. This leaves you with a choice: Which power do you go for first?

    Othala's is undoubtedly more useful, and powerful. But it requires a team. A real team that you can trust with your true nature, not just one you're infiltrating for their powers. If you'd taken Lisa up on her unspoken invitation to join the Undersiders, contented yourself with only learning four other powers - really only two, since Lisa and Rachel gave you theirs regardless - and wasted your life on petty supercrime... Sure. Then you would have had a use for this power, that you wouldn't have learned in the first place.

    No, it has to be Cricket. Her power, while modest, is excellent for 'not dying', an activity you plan to do a lot of in the future.

    It's a good thing Victor is such a good teacher, because you are an awful student. He frequently has to repeat himself, as you are too immersed in plotting golden circuits in your soul to pay attention.


    Victor eventually judges that you have the basics down - either that or he gives up in disgust, you can't really tell. At any rate he passes you off to Hookwolf, who starts you on the proper stances. When you don't pay attention, he breaks your arm.

    Your scream of pain draws only brief attention from the rank and file.

    "Go get that fixed," Hookwolf says. He gives you a shove in the direction of Othala. Unprepared, you trip over your own feet and and land on your broken arm. This time around no one even glances at you as you scream. Hookwolf's teaching methods are clearly well known and uncontroversial.

    You manage to roll over on your back. There's a giant invisible wolf looming over you, looking at you with obvious concern.

    "I'm fine," you whisper between sobbing breaths. "Everything's fine." You make vague shooing motions with your good arm. The last thing you need is for this to turn into a real cape fight.

    "I don't have all day," Hookwolf growls. He pulls back a foot, threatening a kick to your broken arm.

    Okay, okay. Fuck. Ow. You never appreciated how useful having two functional arms was until you tried to get to your feet with just the one. You try to wipe the tears out of your eyes, but your mask is in the way.

    Othala already has a patient when you arrive, but the skinhead in question gives up his spot for you. Who says chivalry is dead?

    "We all went thought this," Othala tells you as your arm mends. "Just pay more attention next time. He won't punish you as long as you try your best."

    "'Harsh but fair', eh?"

    "Yes. As difficult as that might be to believe right now."

    You keep making small talk on autopilot, your attention still focused on Cricket. After a few minutes she tells you that your arm should be fine. Some careful stretches and flexes confirms this, and you return to your lesson with Hookwolf.

    You still don't pay attention. Hookwolf breaks your other arm.


    You leave Hookwolf's dojo (note to self: never call it that to his face) with three soul prices, roughly one tenth of a new power, and a newfound appreciation for how convenient intact limbs are. If you thought getting to your feet with a broken arm was difficult, try crawling across a room with two broken legs (Hookwolf explicitly forbade anyone from helping you).

    The soul prices are unlikely to be useful, unfortunately.

    Hookwolf wants to find and kill the cunt who has been attacking his fighting pits.

    You are not cool with murder, so that's a no-go.

    Othala wants Victor to love her as much as she loves him.

    Victor wants to love Othala as much as she loves him.

    Christ, these crazy nazis are practically giving you diabetes here. Forget fixing Panacea, this is how you ethically use romantic mind-rape powers. Unfortunately no one in Brockton Bay has any such power for you to borrow, so those two lovebirds will have to manage on their own for the foreseeable future.

    All in all, well... You learned a lot, almost everyone was nice to you, and you were only ever hurt as punishment for things that were unquestionably your own fault. It was a lot better than high school, is what you're trying to say.

    "Tell me about Low Key," Kaiser says.

    "She has the potential to become a great warrior," I respond. "Terrible fucking student, though. Same reason. Fearless, impossible to cow."

    "Overly aggressive?" Kaiser asks.

    "Not so you'd notice."

    "Interesting. I have here the report from her first patrol," he indicates a document on his desk, "and it says, I quote, please keep this crazy bitch away from civilians, unquote." Sounds like Mike, old bleeding-heart libertarian that he is. Always a soft touch on inner patrol.

    I shake my head. "I didn't notice anything of the sort. The opposite, if anything. Too passive. I kept breaking her bones, but she just. Would. Not. Pay. Attention. Whenever she wasn't staring off into space, she was sneaking glances at Cricket."

    "Hm. Homosexual?"

    "It's... possible," I allow. "Though frankly I doubt even a dyke could find Cricket attractive."

    "At least that would mean she isn't a spy," Kaiser muses. "No one would be so foolish as to-"

    I laugh. "Are you kidding me? Expecting a homo to be able to keep it in their pants is exactly the kind of mistake our enemies would make."

    "Perhaps you are right. Overestimating your enemies can be almost as dangerous as underestimating them." He tilts his head to the side, making a show of thinking things over. "We've been stretched too thin for our territory ever since Purity left. Tell her that we're prepared to do a 'don't ask, don't tell' in her case. Subtly and politely, please, in case we're wrong about her."

    I nod. At least dykes are nowhere near as disgusting as faggots. And as a cape, she's already damaged goods. It's unlikely that she would be able to have a normal family regardless.

    "Keep giving her a hard time, though," he continues. "Even if, as you say, she herself does not mind it, the PRT would not let a Ward be treated like that. If she is spying for them, they'll pull her out soon enough."

    I nod again, distracted. Speaking of damaged goods, poor Cricket. What man could possibly want her? No, I decide, if it ever turns out that she does want children, I would help her out with that. It would be the least I could do for an old comrade in arms. Besides, all women look the same with the lights off.

    I smile. Yes, I should bring that up with her sometime soon. She's not getting any younger.


    Just like cleaning up after Rachel's dogs, tending the forge is the kind of mindless repetitive work that would be a perfect backdrop for power study. It's too bad you can't just kidnap Cricket and keep her tied up in the corner.

    When you accidentally knock over a mirror and break it, you're almost grateful for having something to do again. Almost. If your dad could hear the language you use as you hot-glue hundreds of mirror fragments back together, he would personally punch in the face every dock worker who ever talked to his little girl.

    At least it will be over soon. You got a letter informing you that your transfer was approved and that you would be starting at Arcadia on Monday. No more sunlight hours for metallurgy then, instead a brand new school. With no bullies, and lots of delicious capes.

    In the evening you learn first aid. Or you would, except Cricket is also taking the class. And she uses her sensory power - a form of echolocation, you figured out - even in a quiet classroom full of her allies. You silently give thanks for her paranoia as you completely ignore everything Alex is trying to teach you about saving lives.

    Yes, your old buddy Alex is teaching the class. Turns out that he's not just a jack-booted thug, he also has a day job as a nurse. Take that, gender stereotypes?


    You're going to need more binoculars, you conclude the next morning. Your shitty plastic optics have been going ever so slightly melty in the heat of the furnace, and have finally deformed into uselessness. Oh well, you needed to go buy more propane anyway.


    When you arrive at the dojo (don't call it that to his face), Hookwolf drags you off to a side room. For the first time since you met him, he seems less than perfectly sure of himself.

    "Do you know how they do it in the military?" he asks softly.

    "...you want me to salute?" You have no idea what he's talking about, so you take a wild guess.

    "No. I mean, about homos."

    What? Is he- But he's- what?

    "Homos aren't allowed in the military," he continues when you don't respond. "But as long as they pretend to be straight, everyone plays along. That's official policy."

    You don't- Ohhhh. He saw the way you kept looking at Cricket, and drew conclusions. And now he's trying to be sensitive about it. This is giving you an all new appreciation for the fact that your dad never tried to give you The Talk.

    "I'm not gay," you say firmly. Hookwolf immediately relaxes when he sees that he's made himself understood.

    "Then fucking pay attention to what I'm trying to teach you." Yep, he's back to normal alright.

    You return to the main floor and start sparring. Glance, glance, go your eyes. Power, power, goes your brain. Snap, snap, go your bones.

    Once again, the experience is extremely educational. For example, you just learned that (for injuries that are not themselves mechanically disabling) the anticipation of pain is more debilitating than pain itself, performance-wise. Which is not to say that not anticipating pain is the answer - you almost fell over the first time you tried putting your weight on that foot. But once you bite down and just accept that every step is going to hurt like a motherfucker and there's nothing you can do about that, your Othala-bound hobble speeds up considerably.

    "The hell you're not gay," Hookwolf says at the end of the session. "Maybe if you could keep your eyes off your dream girlfriend for five fucking minutes I would believe you."

    "You don't understand," you protest. "I want to be like her, not with her." It's the truth! Why can't he be more like your dad, who never tries to talk to you about sex and always believes you when you say things that are technically true?

    "Hmph. Fine. Next week you'll be sparring with her directly, then. Leave your costume at home, wear something you don't mind getting ruined."

    Oh. Great. Cricket teaches armed combat. And thanks to your - how to put it? - your power-related learning disabilities, you still have only the barest inkling of how to handle yourself even in unarmed combat. Out of the frying pan...

    Well, no, you don't actually know which is the frying pan and which is the fire here. Maybe being stabbed hurts less than having your bones broken? You have no idea.

    But you'll find out on Tuesday.


    This episode featuring Good Guy Hookwolf, being considerate towards women.

    On an unrelated note: Congratulations! It's now been a month since you triggered, and you're still alive. Or in other words, Contessa's monthly 'path to nipping freshly triggered problems in the bud' did not find you objectionable. Let's all have a nice big sigh of relief.

    Spoilers for the fact that you won't be fucking Cauldron's shit up, I guess.

    Unless somehow an encounter with a PtV-immune entity severely changes your life goals and/or circumstances, but what are the odds of that?

    Hookwolf: Wants to find and kill the cunt who has been attacking his fighting pits. Or should I say, the bitch?
    Othala & Victor: *kissy faces*
    Tattletale: ...

    You know what, I think the quest log goof has pretty much run its course entirely. Which is code for 'I considered the number of soul prices that will be learned but never be cashed in, contemplated having to phrase every one one of them in a novel, mildly humorous way every time a new one showed up, and went "NOPE!"'
  14. passislisk

    passislisk Know what you're doing yet?

    Aug 2, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Another amusing chapter, good job.

    Just curious, why do you spoiler tag the alternate PoVs instead of just marking them and noting the perspective? Are they canon?
    ChestBurster and space turtle like this.
  15. Alucard 109

    Alucard 109 Not too sore, are you?

    Sep 22, 2021
    Likes Received:
    List of things Taylor has accomplished as a member of the Empire:
    -Called Kaiser a jew to his face. his minion laughed. convinced him to pay extra anyway.
    -beat up nazis in the middle of nazi territory, and got paid to do it. By nazis.
    -managed to make literal nazis instate a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

    I was worried this was going to go poorly (from a story perspective. From an in universe perspective it's definitely gonna crash and burn still), and I'm glad I seem to be wrong.
  16. eeda

    eeda I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Jan 2, 2021
    Likes Received:
    Taylor needs a way to study powers outside of geting her bones broken, or a way to study harder i suppouse. Good chapter
    Ragura, ChestBurster and space turtle like this.
  17. Vealie

    Vealie Versed in the lewd.

    Nov 9, 2021
    Likes Received:
    This is one way of getting her pain tolerance up sans Bakuda pain bomb nerve damage I suppose.

    I'm not sure which one I'd go for though, probably pain bomb although the nerve damage is quite the drawback.
    space turtle likes this.
  18. Logos01

    Logos01 Versed in the lewd.

    Aug 7, 2019
    Likes Received:
    The pain bomb lasted for hours of agony and left her partially crippled for days. The bone breaks are healed to normal after mere minutes, cumulatively less than two hours... of far less severe pain.

    You are mistaking narrative presence for actual impact. The pain bomb is worse.
  19. Daniel Snuts

    Daniel Snuts Know what you're doing yet?

    Apr 23, 2022
    Likes Received:
    It's all canon. I could just put it inline, but I like the look and feel of the little attributed boxes.
    Ragura, ChestBurster, TheWoo and 4 others like this.
  20. Kraise

    Kraise Getting out there.

    Apr 27, 2021
    Likes Received:
    I do too, the little spoiler tag alternate viewpoints are awesome, keep doing them please :)
    Ragura, ChestBurster and space turtle like this.
  21. Threadmarks: S.12
    Daniel Snuts

    Daniel Snuts Know what you're doing yet?

    Apr 23, 2022
    Likes Received:
    This time around your reception at the Empire bar/ready room is considerably warmer. People barely glance your way before returning to their conversations. There are some muttered comments you can't make out, though, and scattered laughter. Mike must have been talking behind your back.

    You ignore the giggly racists and head over to the bar, where the bartender is waving to you.

    "You're meant to be on outer patrol with Rune tonight, but she's running late," he says. "Have one on the house while you wait."

    He hands you a bottle of coke sporting what would, in any other circumstance, be an oversized novelty straw. Here and now it's an ingenious device allowing you to drink without adjusting your full-face mask. You take a seat and look around while you sip.

    You don't spot Mike or his crew anywhere, they either aren't working tonight, or have already left on patrol. Most of the clientele is engaged in a lively discussion about the relative merits of different races (of course!), but there are two guys sitting off by themselves, reading. As an old introverted bookworm yourself (before you triggered and became too busy to indulge), you can't help but snoop take an interest.

    Oh, it's Mein Kampf (of course!). The guy notices you looking, and responds by smiling and holding up the book so you can see it better. Which lets you notice that he's reading it in the original German. That's some major signaling right there. He might as well have brought a neon sign saying 'look at my giant brain'.

    The other reader, by contrast, has a copy of Cape Glamour Weekly, featuring Glory Girl and her boyfriend on the cover. Really? Isn't that a bit... vapid and girly? And you're saying that as a fifteen year old girl. Is he mocking Mr Big Brain? Is it his job to scour the gossip rags for valuable cape intel? Or perhaps he's counter signaling his big balls? 'I'm so manly that not even this magazine can detract from it'?

    You shake your head and turn your attention to the main discussion. Picking up on the more esoteric points of white supremacy can only improve your cover. Currently they seem to be debating whether Germans are superior to Scandinavians.

    "One word: Vikings," says a man you suspect might have some Scandinavian ancestry.

    "Sure they were Vikings back then, but nowadays they're a bunch of kebab-loving pansies," is the response, surely coming from a completely impartial fellow with no German blood whatsoever.

    "Yeah? Because Germany definitely isn't a giant self-loathing mess right now."

    "Fuck you, you try having the entire jew-controlled world gang up on you and conquer you! Twice!" the German counters. "You're not even a real Swede, you're like a quarter Irish. Everyone knows Irishmen are the niggers of white people."

    "Look at this guy, thinking the Irish are even white," some other, presumably non-Irish person says. "You need to get woke on the Irish Question, bro."

    "Actually," Big Brain interjects, looking up from his book, "the naturalization act of 1790 restricted citizenship to 'white persons of good character', and Irishmen were able to become citizens. Q.E.D."

    "Yeah, well, people where primitive and ignorant back then," Not-Irish counters. "Science wasn't very advanced. We've since become more enlightened and realized the truth about potato niggers."

    "Who even cares about the Irish?" another man asks. "At least they're not Italians!"

    "True, true."

    "I hate those swarthy Mafia faggots."

    "Fucking spaghetti niggers."

    "No one thinks Italians are white."

    At least one of the people nodding along to these pronouncements, you can't help but notice, is clearly Italian. The person next to him puts a hand on his shoulder. "Sorry Johnny," he says solemnly. "You can't be in our gang anymore. Whites only."

    Johnny accepts this pronouncement with good cheer. "Alright," he says. "Will someone buy me one last beer before I go join the Merchants?" This prompts three separate people to order him a beer, and several more to laugh and slap him on the back.

    You can't help but feel a certain... schoolmarmish disapproval. These are the foot soldiers of a self-styled nazi regime. Their racism is the single most important aspect of their worldview and how it shapes their lives! Shouldn't they be taking it at least somewhat seriously?

    A wizard walks into a bar. That is, Rune finally appears. Her costume is a green robe and cowl embroidered with golden runes, see. As you get up to meet her the discussion around you returns to the Germans vs Scandinavians debate, the spaghetti nigger question having been resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

    "Sorry I'm late," she says. "Didn't mean to leave you stranded with these insufferable nerds." She raises her voice at the last part, to make sure the nerds in question overhear. They respond with laughter, blown kisses and calls of "Love you too, Rune!"

    As the door swings shut behind you, you just barely make out someone asserting "Anglos are the jews of white people!"

    Looks like Rune parked her favorite rock outside. Seriously. According to her wiki article she usually makes do with urban debris, like chunks of concrete, dumpsters and wrecked cars. But this is unmistakably a naturally-occurring rock, maybe 20 feet in diameter, mostly flat but with several indentations forming rough seats. Some of the indentations contain smaller rocks, presumably ammunition. Apparently she decided to bring out the limousine of telekinetic conveyances today. You're flattered.

    You're also delighted. The rock is thrumming with power to your sorcerer's sight, with a tether leading back to Rune. She'll be using her power throughout the night, and she's inviting you onto her rock just like that. You can just sit there and study her to your heart's content. You could not ask for a more perfect evening.

    But, the idea occurs to you, you could make it more perfect. When the rock clears the roof of the bar you step off and call forth your wolf. Your time with Rachel made you develop a taste for rooftop monster rides, and you haven't had a chance to indulge since you parted ways.

    "What are you- oh. You wanna show off too?" You get the distinct impression that Rune is grinning behind her mask. "Try to keep up!"


    You did not think this through. Oh, Fenrir can leap between rooftops easily enough, as long as they are roughly the same height. Rachel's monsters have the unnatural muscle density and elongated claws to let them climb up the side of a building, but Fenrir is just a really big wolf. And wolves? Not nature's finest climbers even without the square-cube law kicking in them in nuts.

    What frequently ends up happening is that you have to call for Rune to double back and help you out. Which she does without complaint. Oh, she doesn't complain.

    "Of course, dear," she chirps. "Anything to help a colleague out."

    "This rock sure is comfy. And convenient!"

    "Are you sure you wouldn't rather ride with me? It's no trouble, there's plenty of space."

    That condescending faux helpfulness is exactly like some of the girls in your class. So much for the Empire being nicer than Winslow. But no matter what, you're not going to give in and accept her offer. Fuck her and the rock she rode in on. You're committed now, and admitting that you made a mistake would be even worse than the repeated humiliation of asking for help.

    Oh, this time around she spotted an upcoming problem spot on her own and stopped in front of the taller building to wait for you. How gracious of her. How helpful. You silently grind your teeth as Fenrir once more steps out onto the flying rock.

    "Going up?" Rune asks innocently. God you want to grind this bitch into paste. As an added insult, her power is super difficult to understand. Which means you're going to have to put up with her for a good, long time. Really, world? Lifting a rock is more complicated than extracting the soul price from a human brain?

    And! And, just like Madison, Rune's own soul price is a good life well lived, so you can't even use Loyalty to make her behave.

    No, she isn't secretly Madison. Madison doesn't have powers. Their soul prices are subtly different too:

    Rune wants to find a man worthy of her.

    Unlike Madison, Rune is sufficiently secure in her own sexual market value that her soul doesn't even bother to specify that he should reciprocate her feelings. Of course he'll be taken with her and they'll live happily ever after. Not even worth mentioning.



    An indeterminate time of you steeping in a bath of rage and embarrassment later, Rune gets a phone call. She brings her rock to a stop, and you ride up next to her to listen in.

    "On his own? Is he high? Forget I said that. Where?"
    "On it."

    She turns to you. "Mush has been spotted approaching our territory. We're going to explain to him why that's a bad idea."

    "On his own?" you echo her earlier incredulity.

    "I know right? Fucking Merchants." She shakes her head. "Hop on. For real this time, we don't have time to fuck around."

    The rock doesn't even quiver as Fenrir steps on. Rune sets off back the way you came, considerably faster than she'd been going before.

    You spot Mush from several blocks away, a humanoid mass of garbage standing head and shoulders above the surrounding buildings. They are only three stories tall around here, but still. You did not think he could get that big.

    "Fuck me," Rune says. "He must have spent all day collecting that shit."

    When you get close, she swoops closer to the roof and slows down. "Get off," she says. "I'm going to have to hit him with our ride."

    Fenrir jumps off, and you spur him on towards your foe. Not that you have any idea what you should do once you arrive, but it seems to be what's expected of you. This is exactly what you meant when you asked Lisa about cape fights. Maybe you can distract him while Rune throws rocks? At least the buildings here are all uniform height, so you'll be able to maneuver without trouble.

    The rock you just vacated goes flying past you to strike Mush in the head. It sends garbage flying every which way, but doesn't impair him at all.

    Unsurprising. Through sorcerer's sight you see thin tendrils of his power all throughout the mass, radiating like veins from a glowing centre just below where the heart would be on a human. That must be where his actual body is located. Oh yeah, you can help by pointing that out.

    "The head is a decoy!" you shout. "Go for centre mass! No, not you! Stop! Shit!"

    You flatten yourself against Fenrir's back and hold on tight as your idiot steed launches himself off the edge of the roof, going straight for the glowing weak point. He has enough inertia to plow right through the mass of garbage and out the other side.

    On one hand, that probably just ended the fight in a single blow. On the other, you're currently falling off a three-story building amidst several tons of garbage.

    Fenrir hits the ground with a loud whuff as all the air is forcibly propelled from his lungs. The fact that he doesn't splatter is mildly astonishing, but you don't have the capacity to think about that right now. Whatever bullshit magic makes him so comfortable to ride is not nearly strong enough to handle this. Speaking of physics kicking you in the nuts...

    "Gah. Fuck," you summarize as you tumble off his back. Another spike of pain shoots through you as you hit the ground. You think you broke your butt. Uh, pelvic fracture? You'll just lie here for a while.

    At least the leap carried you clear of most of the garbage, which ended up in a giant pile behind you. Someone should go over there and try to dig Mush out, see if he survived. He- oh, gross. Those weren't tendrils of power you saw, those were actual tendrils of Mush's flesh. With the golem collapsed they are exposed, like someone dug up a disgusting alien root system. The way they're still twitching at least indicates that you didn't kill him, but it also makes you want to puke.

    The smell isn't helping either.

    Rune returns to ground level in a more sensible manner, clinging to the largest of her 'ammunition' rocks. She's laughing and whooping as she lands next to you.

    "That was awesome!" she exclaims.

    "That was the worst," you correct her. Things are really starting to hurt, now that the adrenaline is wearing off.

    "What are you talking about? You- oh hey." She interrupts herself when she sees Victor come flying down, carrying Othala. "You guys missed the party. Did you know New Girl here is a stone cold badass?"

    "Are you alright?" Othala asks. "We saw you jump off the roof."

    "No I'm not fucking alright." You swat Fenrir's nose away when he tries to nuzzle you. "If this retard had jumped from any higher up, I'd have needed a gynecologist to recover his vertebrae."

    Victor seems to be choking on something, while Rune almost falls over laughing. Othala, thankfully, just walks over and grants you regeneration. At least one person here is competent (it's not you).

    "Rune," Victor says, "can you dig Mush out?"

    "Nah, my power can't get a grip on this shit. Too mushy." Victor just rolls his eyes at this attempted witticism. "You go ahead. Our girl talk is clearly too spicy for your sensitive manly ears anyway."

    Victor sighs. "Fine. You call this in. Othala? Some super strength would be lovely, once you're done with Low Key."

    "Of course, love."

    Victor goes off to root through the garbage. You just lie around waiting for the pain to go away. At least Hookwolf trained you to deal with this situation, even if nothing else stuck. Silver linings.

    Rune, meanwhile, has turned her attention to Fenrir: "Don't listen to that meanie, you did great. You're not retarded, you're the best wolf ever. ...Sorry, no belly rubs until you take a bath."

    Presently you feel better, and Othala leaves to assist her beau.

    "Hey," Rune says as she helps you to your feet. "Sorry about being such a bitch earlier. Seriously. If this is what comes of you riding around the rooftops, I'll be your elevator any day."

    You look at her suspiciously. She sounds sincere. And not having every patrol suck for weeks on end until you finally steal her power would be nice. "Seriously," she repeats. You nod.

    "Weren't you supposed to call this in?" you ask her.

    "Oh yeah!" She brings out her phone, dials.

    "Rune here. Mush is down, you guys can go back to bed."
    "Yeah, piece of cake. New Girl took him out just like that. Pow! Oh hey, Victor just dug him out. He looks gross as fuck, let me tell you."
    "Really? OK."

    She puts the phone away. She wasn't kidding. While Mush's tendrils (eugh) have mostly retracted by now, that's emphasis on mostly. He looks like a plate of spaghetti, with extra ketchup. While Rune was talking, Othala briefly touched Mush, then touched Victor again. Carefully calibrated regeneration, you figure. Enough to stabilize him, not enough to wake him up.

    "Guys, we got Wards incoming," Rune says. "Ops says to clear out and leave Mush for them to collect."

    "Wards?" you say. "We should leave a note."

    Victor, as it turns out, has paper and pencil in his pocket. You dictate the note you want to leave, which makes Rune giggle and Victor nod in approval.

    "They left a note," Gallant says from where he's kneeling down by the unconscious Mush.

    "Really? What's it say?" I ask.

    He picks up the scrap of paper, looks at it. Turns it over. Hands it to me without a word.

    (turn over for answer)

    I turn it over.

    Svenity, Ambaire, numantia and 135 others like this.
  22. Vealie

    Vealie Versed in the lewd.

    Nov 9, 2021
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    Your Taylor has some amazing lines.
    Svenity, Nihilea, TmDagger and 19 others like this.
  23. XZR-2

    XZR-2 Getting some practice in, huh?

    Jan 9, 2022
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    Nihilea and Akuma-Heika like this.
  24. eeda

    eeda I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Jan 2, 2021
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    Kekekekek, well now we have a way to extract two soul prices, Make Theo into a Rune worty man and wingman their relationship.

    Edit: Now than i think about it if Taylor talk with Dennis she will know he want his father healty so maybe ask a favor for Othala and we have three
    Last edited: May 10, 2022
  25. MejaisBlack

    MejaisBlack Know what you're doing yet?

    Nov 30, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Alright, it's official: this Taylor is clearly insane, I mean, making puns? Someone stop this menace.
    Nihilea, ChestBurster, TheWoo and 6 others like this.
  26. Rerororororororororo

    Rerororororororororo I love dogfighting

    Apr 6, 2020
    Likes Received:
    "Look at this guy, thinking the Irish are even white," some other, presumably non-Irish person says. "You need to get woke on the Irish Question, bro."
    Who doesn't love horse shoe theory
  27. Prognostic Hannya

    Prognostic Hannya Knight of the Yuri Crusade

    Dec 3, 2019
    Likes Received:
    I'm dying lmao

    Oh god is Taylor going to bond with the literal Nazis
    Nihilea and ChestBurster like this.
  28. Kennethil

    Kennethil Not too sore, are you?

    May 4, 2017
    Likes Received:
    This is the funniest shit I've read in a while, especially in wormfic. Looking forward to the next update!
    Nihilea, ChestBurster, TheWoo and 4 others like this.
  29. Threadmarks: S.13
    Daniel Snuts

    Daniel Snuts Know what you're doing yet?

    Apr 23, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Once you're clear, Rune initiates another phone conversation. Apparently she wants to leave work early. Ops seem to have other ideas.

    "I brought out my good rock for this! I need to go wash it."
    "Easy for you to say. You can't smell the wolf. Our everything needs washing."

    ("I don't mind going on", you say. "Of course you don't, you stink too," she replies)

    "No seriously, if you haven't fought Mush yourself you have no idea how bad we smell right now. Is this the image you want the Empire to project?"
    "Fine. But you're paying overtime for this."
    "No! Half a goddamn shift of overtime!"

    She hangs up, and shoves the phone in a pocket with a violent motion.

    "No luck?" you ask.

    "None. You know what they say about anti-semites."

    Uhh... "No?"

    "You'll hear it soon enough if you keep hanging around the rank and file. 'The only thing more tight-fisted than a jew is an anti-semite.'"

    "Sounds like Kaiser," you agree.

    "Anyway, they want to keep us out here, in case the rest of the Merchants show up. I don't suppose you can do something about the wolf?"

    "He has a name, you know. As do I."

    "Sorry, New Girl." She holds up her hands when you glare at her. "Joking, joking! Uh, Low Key, right?" She pauses, scratches the back of her head. "They didn't tell me you named your projection."


    "Right. Should'a guessed. Can we just hose him off a bit before we continue?"

    You look at Fenrir, who shakes his head emphatically.

    "You're welcome to try." You don't attempt to hide the mirth in your voice. Rune elects not to try.


    Despite ops's concerns, your patrol ends without further excitement. Rune flies off to dunk her rock in the bay, you head for home. You tell Fenrir in no uncertain terms that you're not letting him in your bed until he takes a bath, but he just shakes his head again.

    When he dematerializes he leaves a wolf-shaped cloud of garbage juice hanging in the air for an instant. You almost step back in time to avoid any of it splashing on your shoes as it hits the ground. Now he looks smug, the intangible bastard. You sigh, then smile. Your power keeps throwing you these curveballs. Self-cleaning wolf, sure, why not.

    You pause in front of your door to put on your glasses (you're still wearing contacts, but you're not touching your eyes until you've washed your hands. Twice).

    "Don't hug me, I stink," you announce to your dad as you enter.

    He sniffs the air. "You really do," he agrees. "What happened?"

    "There was an incident with an overeager dog and a bag of garbage." You grimace. "Several bags, actually." It's a risk, telling your dad the truth all the time, but you don't think anyone got any footage of the fight. He won't see anything on the news that will let him connect the dots.

    "Ouch. Let's get you cleaned up, shall we?"

    He has you hand him the dirty clothes so he can wash them right away. A nice gesture you suppose, but unnecessary. You were going to wash them along with your costume anyway, after he had gone to sleep.


    The next day, you do some sewing while tending the forge. Hookwolf expects you to show up in regular gym clothes on Tuesday, so you make yourself several sets of padded underwear to maintain a 'Low Key' figure even without your strategically padded costume. You're not proud of this, alright? But your vanity put you on this path, and you're just going to have to keep walking it.

    You're interrupted by a text message to your Empire phone.

    < Come to the usual place for payment

    You stare at it blankly for a while until you remember: Right, you get bonuses for cape fights! Scaling with danger and performance. The danger involved in yesterday's fight is debatable - you did fall off a roof and break your butt, but to be fair that was mostly your own fault. But your performance was definitely A+, if you do say so yourself. One hit KO.

    You did forget all about that - you're in this for the powers. But you're not going to pass up free money.

    > I'll swing by later tonight

    You don't specify 'after sunset', because that could theoretically link you to a not-yet-emerged Tinker who requires sunlight to work. You don't feel the same impulse towards honestly with your employer that you do with your dad.


    The benefits of using mass-produced plastic crap in your cape outfit: Rather than head home to grab your kit (and figuring out something to tell your dad about where you're going that doesn't involve 'nazi friends', 'blood money' or 'bar'), you just buy another mask on your way. You have your new padded underwear right here, and if Hookwolf can get away with civvies and a mask all the time, you can do the same for one evening when you're not even on the clock.

    There's a cheer as you enter the bar. You can't tell if anyone you know is present, because without glasses or contacts every face is a blur (and every hairstyle, identical). Well, you recognize Rune. The robe stands out a bit. She's at the bar, slouching over her drink. She's made it clear that she doesn't think much of spending time with the rank and file. Was she waiting for you?

    Apparently so. "God, finally. Let's get this over with."

    The bartender/contact person reaches under the bar and retrieves several bundles of bills.

    "For exemplary work in service of the Empire," he says pompously. But he's smiling as he says it, self-aware. At least you think so. Again: Blurry faces.

    You pick up a bundle, riffle through it (bring it close enough to make out the denomination). Some mental math says: Four thousand dollars.

    "We split this?" you ask Rune.

    "Technically, yeah. By rights it's all yours. You take it."


    "Yeah. You took him down, I just drove you there." She pushes the cash towards you.

    You're speechless for a moment (the peanut gallery, not so much: "Rune is being nice to someone?" "Who spiked my drink? Because I'm hallucinating!" "Well, she is a fellow cape. Not like us mortals"). Rune really does want to be your friend. Wants it enough to pass up two grand. Are... are you touched? You're touched.

    Wordlessly you split off a few hundred and pass it back to her. She tries to wave it off.

    "I said-"

    "I know, I did all the work. But what kind of asshole doesn't tip the serving staff?"

    At that, there's more cheers, and laughter, and then everyone wants to slap you on the back and buy you a drink. Non-alcoholic drinks only, the bartender assures/admonishes you. Right, underage drinking is for degenerates, no doubt.

    Rune inclines her head, acknowledging a point scored, and accepts the money.

    "I told them I wanted to be your regular patrol partner, if that's all right with you?" she says.

    "Sure!" Even at two patrols per week, figuring out her power is going to take ages. If you split your attention, forget about it. "Are you sure you can afford it, though?" (peanut gallery: "Ooooh!" "Shots fired!")

    She snorts. "They told me all about your performance issues. Some of us can get it up more than twice a week, you know."

    More laughs from the peanut gallery, and you bow your head in turn. Point to her.

    "How'd you know where to hit him, anyway?" she asks. Oh, right. In your attempt to be at all useful in the fight, you may have given some things away. How to deflect this?

    "...wolf senses," you settle on. A nice, vague answer that sounds like it explains things without actually committing you to any specific mechanics. Hell, it doesn't even specify whose senses, yours or Fenrir's.

    Come to think of it, Fenrir hit Mush dead on, way more accurately that your instruction of 'center mass' should have allowed. Maybe he does have wolf senses. You'll have to ask him later.

    "Shame it didn't matter in the end, huh?" Rune interrupts your thoughts.

    "What do you mean?"

    "You didn't hear? Squealer and Skidmark were also out and about, just running late. They hit the Wards and freed Mush before they could even return to base."

    "Yeesh," you say. "At least NASA got to the moon eventually."

    Rune giggles. "Oh, that's good. Do you mind if I use that one? I'm using that one."

    She pulls out her cellphone and swipes at the screen a few times. You recognize the color scheme of the PHO forums when you lean over to see what she's doing, but she puts the phone away without typing anything. "I'm using it as soon as my ban wears off," she amends. "Anyway, I'm off. See you on Monday."


    She leaves, but you think you'll stay for a bit. Accept some of those non-degenerate drinks. Being surrounded by people who like and respect you is... strange. And nice. Strange and nice.

    Welcome to the Parahumans Online Message Boards
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    Your temporary ban expires on February 11, 2011.
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    ♦ Private message from modmail:

    modmail: You received a 7 day suspension for your post in the thread: Boards > Places > America > Brockton Bay > Brockton Bay voted most dangerous city in America second year running

    ♦Topic: Brockton Bay voted most dangerous city in America second year running
    In: Boards ► Places ► America ► Brockton Bay
    Posted by: GreatAtuin (Veteran member)

    Posted on February 4, 2011

    (Showing Page 4 of 12)

    ► Nondescriptr
    Replied on February 4, 2011:

    ► seeing_eye_dog
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    At least we're the best at something, right?

    ► Jitor
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    What are the heroes even doing?

    ► Assault (Verified Cape) (Protectorate ENE)
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    We're doing our best, as you'll no doubt see a press release stating soon.

    Armsmaster may or may not have thrown his helmet across the room when he heard the news. There may or may not be a dent in the wall.

    ► rrqn
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    Keep it up, guys. Let's go for the hat trick!

    ► Rune (Verified Cape) (Temp-banned)
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    I wonder what it would show if you only counted the votes of americans, not invaders and obsolete farm equipment.

    -User received a suspension for this post. Reason: Have another vacation on Racist Island, Rune.

    ► seeing_eye_dog
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    Ha ha, really?

    ► naval_gazer
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    **** you, nazi *****!

    -User received a warning for this post. Reason: Language, language.

    ► John Elliot
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    Watch it, naval_gazer. I don't disagree, but the mods don't like that sort of language.

    Edit: See?

    ► Sir Robin
    Replied on February 4, 2011:
    It's a good question when you think about it. How much of BB being shit is because of the E88? A third? Half? More than half?
    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ... 10 , 11, 12


    Facts about nazis: Nazis are mammals. Nazis fight all the time (with each other, about minor points of doctrine). Nazis are hilarious.

    You admit that you didn't expect that last part. But it makes sense: Offensive jokes are funny. There, that's all there is to it. And unsurprisingly, once someone stands up and proclaims that Hitler was a swell guy who did nothing wrong, political correctness no longer has any power over them. These people pop holocaust jokes like they're dad jokes. Which leaves someone with your more tender sensibilities helpless with guilt-tinged mirth. You'll never be able to look at a lampshade with a straight face again. Also, you're going to hell.

    The less said about the resident shock jock, who goes for jokes considered offensive even by this crowd, the better. "Because it's not pedophilia if you kill the babies first!" he delivers the punchline. Yeah. In his case the jokes are less funny than the reactions of the audience, as hardened thugs cringe and groan and cry out in protest: "I'm eating here!" "Jesus, why?" "Please stop." You're personally so shocked your hand freezes in midair in a position that could unfortunately be mistaken for offering him a high five. That's your story, and you're sticking to it.

    This asshole isn't returning your high five, though.

    "Why you leave me hanging, bro?" you ask plaintively. "Do I look black to you?" A touch of lynching humor convinces him to reciprocate. Yep, you're definitely going to hell. On the plus side, your infiltration of the E88 is going great.

    With everyone so cheerful and talkative, you easily collect a whole bunch of soul prices. More out of curiosity than any plans to use them. Which is a good thing, because pretty much all of them are useless. Many just repeat the fourteen words. Yes, you did look those up.

    Mike wants to secure the survival of his people and a future for white children.

    Sven wants to secure the survival of his people and a future for white children.

    Others are basically that, but less abstract:

    Otto wants to build a real country for his children to grow up in.

    Jonas wants to deport all jews to Israel. Or possibly Madagascar.

    Steve wants to find a good woman to settle down with and have some kids.

    There's the odd wants a million dollars type soul prices here and there too (that you obviously can't help with either), but by and large they're just so un-Master-ably sincere, the bastards. Which makes sense, when you think about it. The reason you find smiling sociopaths at charity dinners is because being seen as charitable has social benefits. Being seen as a nazi has the opposite of benefits. Consequently, it doesn't attract people with ulterior motives. Except you, you suppose.


    If Fenrir was actually as limited as the Empire believes, you'd be a lot more nervous changing your underwear in an alley in the middle of the night. Just saying. Really, the whole thing ran a bit later than you'd planned. A lot later. No, you're not drunk. The bartender remained adamant on that point. "Providing alcohol to a minor is a crime," he'd firmly remind anyone who tried to buy you a 'real drink'. "And crimes are for black people."

    Sobriety notwithstanding, you're practically asleep on your feet by the time you get home. Only to find the lights still on, and your dad waiting for you.

    "Where have you been, young lady?" His stern tone does a terrible job of hiding his worry.

    "Party," you answer. Close enough, right?

    "A party." He crosses his arms, tries to reinforce his stern look.

    "Yeah, party." Your tired brain tries to figure out why he'd object to that. "No drinking. Adults present." You yawn. "Ran late. Sleepy."

    "Uh huh. Let me smell your breath."

    You walk over and blow in his face.

    "Okay, you haven't been drinking," he admits. "You should still have told me. I would have come to pick you up. It's not safe-"

    "Pshhhffft," you reply, waving your hand in his face. You were never in any danger. "Pepper spray." Magic wolf.


    Before he can come up with any further silliness, you lean into him and reach up to place a finger over his lips. "Sleepy," you remind him. "G'night."

    He sighs. "We'll talk about this tomorrow, Taylor."


    You stagger down to the basement, and then proceed to hide your shit. Never mind the three-thousand-and-change dollars. Yes, it was more at the start of the evening. You might have bought a round for everyone at the bar once or thrice. Five times, tops. Dad is still not going to believe you saved it up by mowing lawns. Him finding out that you're a part-time supervillain would be bad, but survivable.

    If he found out that you went to a party in homemade padded underwear, your life would be over. Because you'd have died of embarrassment.


    Next chapter Taylor finally starts at Arcadia. Over/under on the number of Excellent Life Choices™ she makes there?
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
  30. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Taylor's going to hell, and so am I apparently.

    I have been wondering though: what's this got to do with Exalted? Apart from the names of her sub-powers, it looks like Worm with a novel power to me.