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Echo (Worm x Final Fantasy

Discussion in 'Questing' started by Aldsan, Nov 26, 2021.

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  1. Threadmarks: Hear 0.1
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Echo

    Hear. Feel. Think.



    I woke to the smell of smoke. Putting a hand to my head, I tried to stand up, ignoring how my fingers came away wet and sticky. A tremor went through the ground and I fell back onto my ass.

    Where was I?

    I'd been walking through a burning city. Around me, people had been screaming in terror as the sky rained destruction.

    Forcing myself back to my feet, I stabilized myself against the wall. There were fires here and there, spreading quickly, but nothing on the level of what I remembered from just moments ago. I could hear screams in the distance, but the street I was on was deserted, everyone else having already fled.

    A roar rumbled from out of sight and I instinctively ducked as a hail of bricks went spinning through the air. They landed almost twenty feet from me, but I'd still frozen in that moment, sure that they would hit me. I forced myself to start breathing, to start moving. I didn't know where. Somewhere away from here.

    I stumbled forward, step by step. It felt like there was something wrong with my leg, a jolt of pain shooting up through my ankle with each step, but I didn't have time to pay attention to something like that. I had to get out of here, had to be anywhere other than here.

    Another roar, closer this time, the sound echoing down the empty street.

    What had I been doing here?

    I shook my head, trying to clear it, still feeling dazed from whatever had knocked me unconscious earlier. I'd decided to skip school today. To come down to the docks and look out across the bay. It was something I did, sometimes, when school was especially bad. When I couldn't stand to see Emma smirking at me even as she used our history together to hurt me. It was a way to center myself, to find a bit of peace.

    So much for that today.

    A sudden crash jolted me out of my thoughts as a huge, scaly body burst through a building in front of me. It rolled to a stop before slowly standing up once more, metal scales shimmering red with the reflection of the blaze building around it. A flash of light seared at the monster and it lifted its maw to the heavens to howl its defiance in response.

    Lung.

    Everyone who lived in Brockton Bay knew who he was. The Dragon of Kyushu -- he'd taken over all of the minor Asian gangs in the Bay when he'd arrived and solidified them under a single banner. He'd once fought off the entire Protectorate on his own. Everyone in Brockton Bay knew -- When Lung went on a rampage, you got out of the way.

    A scattered piece of rebar turned itself into a steel spear and launched itself into Lung's side. The dragon snarled and looked in my direction. A moment later, Lung hurled himself towards me and I bolted for an alleyway, barely skidding to a stop as Lung passed by to slam into a giant.

    I swore under my breath as I looked around. The alley I was in was a dead end. There wasn't anywhere to go. In one direction lay the cape fight, and in the other was the inferno that Lung had left in his wake.

    The giant stumbled and fell, her shield cleaving through a house across the street from me. She quickly stood back up, slamming the shield into Lung's face and sending him rolling away. That didn't matter. More important to me was the gap left running through the building to the next street.

    I would have to move past the fight to get there, and the building itself was on fire, but the path was clear and it was safer than staying here. I swallowed down my fear, waited for Lung to slam the giant into another building, and then ran as though my life depended upon it. It took a bare few seconds to sprint across the street, but it felt like an eternity as I waited for anything to go wrong.

    A moment later, I slipped through the small gap in the wall and headed for safety.

    A scream for help stopped me.

    I turned against my better judgement. There was someone there, pinned up against the wall of an apartment building. A blonde girl, with her leg trapped under a chunk of concrete. If I left now, if I ignored her, I could get to safety.

    I didn't know who she was.

    I had no reason to risk my life for her.

    I bit down on my lip. My fingers tightened, nails biting into my palms.

    I shouldn't need a reason.

    I stepped back outside. Almost immediately, a car skimmed off the top of Lung and I barely managed to dive to the ground as it sailed over me and went rolling down the street. A second landed further away, and a ghost rose through a wall, passing by me as though I wasn't even there.

    Don't freeze. I took a deep breath and scrambled to my feet, dashing to the girl's side. She looked up at me in surprise. "Who are you?"

    "Does it really matter?" I grunted. I wedged my fingers under the rubble that had her pinned. I barely budged it an inch. My lack of exercise and noodle arms had resulted in a sudden, yet inevitable betrayal at the most crucial moment.

    "I guess not. Lower your center of balance and use your legs instead, you won't get anywhere just trying to lift it with your arms."

    I grit my teeth and followed the girl's instructions. I still didn't manage to lift the concrete very far, but it was enough for her to pull herself out from under it. I let it fall to the ground a moment later, sighing with relief.

    "Hey, we're not out of this yet, and I'm not going to be able to walk on my own."

    "I don't exactly think I can carry you."

    "I can manage with one leg if you help me. Let's just get out of here before we end up crispy, alright?"

    Her attempt at humor fell a bit flat on me. I ended up looping my arm around the girl's waist, letting her throw hers around my shoulders. Alright. The fighting had moved down the street, but there were still enough projectiles flying to be dangerous. Meanwhile, the route the giant had torn through the building was mostly on fire now. Unfortunately, it was still better than anywhere else. I took off as fast as I could get the girl to walk, which wasn't as fast as I would like. She hissed in pain with each step, but better that than the two of us dying.

    "Fuck. How did Lung manage to tick the E88 off this badly?" She frowned even as I helped push her through the broken wall, the hole just wide enough to fit one of us at a time.

    "Worry about that later. Come on, we're almost home free."

    She leant heavily on one of the damaged walls as she let out a hacking cough and ducked her head to put her mouth against her shirt in some small attempt to ward off the smoke before hobbling down along the edge of the burning hallway to the other end, not even glancing back at me. I stepped in to follow her, but went sprawling as the house collapsed. As if Fate had decided to spite her words, a dragon crashed between us.

    What little of the ceiling was left broke as Lung got to his feet. He'd outgrown the house. He looked down at me for a moment, before seeming to dismiss my presence. Not that it mattered. Flames coated his body and I was trapped in the inferno with no way past him.

    My stomach clenched. I was going to die.

    The blonde girl was behind him. He hadn't seen her yet. I looked to her for any sort of help. She met my gaze for a brief moment, before closing her eyes and turning away. And then she was gone.

    My breath caught and tears stung at my eyes. It had been the right decision. The smart decision. It still tasted of betrayal.

    Lung took a step forward and I hastily took a step back. I needed to run. I had to get out. Had to get away. I glanced around me for anything I could use, but there were only ruins. My back hit the wall. There was nowhere left to go.

    The Dragon laughed. Everything burned.

    My hand closed around a stone that had not been there moments before.



    Apologies in advance, but this quest is primarily being run on Spacebattles and voting will take place there. While discussion is welcome here, and I will certainly read it, I've tried the split voting thing before with Occular and I'd rather not repeat it.

    Vote Here
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
    Syphi, Nyx7, Zxzx24 and 3 others like this.
  2. Threadmarks: Feel 0.2
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    [x] Healer
    -Rolled 1d4 = 2: Scholar
    [x] Write-In: Try to find and help the injured
    Current Energy: 20
    Current Emulation: Scholar




    Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
    The Docks, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    -1 Energy

    I squeezed my eyes shut against a sudden flash of light. It was only a moment later that I noticed the heat of the flames had vanished, that I hadn’t been burned to a crisp. Taking a shaky breath, I slowly opened my eyes again.

    Around me, a dome of light had formed, warding off the flames.

    I pushed myself to my feet, glancing around me. Lung had already moved past, having apparently cared so little about burning me alive that he hadn’t even noticed the shield form around me. I had powers now. I’d felt myself instinctively forming that shield. I had powers, and I…

    I looked down at myself and frowned. I was wearing something completely different from what I had been just moments ago. Instead of my hoodie and jeans, I was wearing some sort of long coat, a ruffled white shirt that felt vaguely Renaissance in origin underneath. It put me in mind of a cape’s costume, except, I realized, it hadn’t come with any sort of mask. Instead, I simply had a hat perched on top of my head.

    Crap.

    I couldn’t run around dressed as an obvious cape with no mask. I’d get outed in an instant. I’d get gangsters coming after my dad or something to keep me in line. I --

    -1 Energy

    I jerked as a small weight suddenly settled on my shoulder and shouted into my ear. “Hey! Listen!”

    Slowly turning my head, I looked at the small, winged, human-like figure sitting on my shoulder. It looked like an honest to god fairy, straight out of a fable. God, could this day get any weirder?

    “Hey! What are you standing around for? There’s people hurt here, aren’t there? We need to help them!”

    “I -- What? Who are you, even?”

    “I’m Eos!” The fairy stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Now come on, we have to help!”

    “How would I even help? I can’t --” Except, I realized, I could help heal them. The knowledge of how rested in my brain now. I could heal people. And in Lung’s wake I could see the ruin he had left behind. The broken buildings, the hurt people. The dead and dying. There were those we could yet save. “Okay. Okay, let’s do this.”

    How do you proceed with healing?
    [] Let the fairy handle most of it.
    (Takes more time, but conserves energy).
    [] Assist as much as you can.
    (Takes less time, but uses energy).

    The two of us rushed forward, healing as many people as we could. I would just have to hope that they didn’t get a good look at my face in the process, or didn’t remember it well enough in the aftermath. There were all sorts of teenage girls with long, dark hair in the city, right? Regardless, we moved from person to person, healing burns, broken bones, crushed limbs.

    It wasn’t until I came across a gangbanger in ABB colors that I found myself hesitating. He was knocked unconscious, buried under the remnants of a wall, but I could see the gun in his hand. I bit down on my lip. Did he even deserve my healing? The entire reason for all of this destruction was because of the gangs fighting one another. Besides, if I did heal him, he would probably turn around and mug someone tomorrow.

    On the other hand, he was bleeding out. If I left him here, he would almost certainly die. Could I live with that on my conscience?

    Do you heal the ABB gang member?
    [] Heal him.
    (For those we can yet save).
    [] Ignore him.
    (Justice demands no less).

    Finally, after what felt like hours, but couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes, I finally heard sirens approaching. I let myself collapse onto a bit of rubble, taking the moment to simply rest. Eos flitted around my head, grinning widely even as she shot curious glances around the area.

    “That was great! I knew you could do it! We’re going to make the best team, I can already tell.”

    I smiled up at her, but frankly, I had no idea what I was going to do next. I was a Cape. I had powers. How many people had seen my face? Should I join the Wards then, get what protection the government could provide? Or could I manage it as an independent? Were my powers even good enough to fight crime, or should I just go to a hospital and volunteer there?

    I scrubbed a hand through my hair and shook my head. “Well, if you say so, Eos. This all feels like a bit much.”

    “You’ll get used to it in no time at all, I’m sure. I only bond with the best Adventurers, you know,” she winks at me. “Those born with souls of justice, of compassion.”

    Somehow, it feels fitting that my power would give me a friend to flatter me. I’m apparently pathetic enough to need it. I frowned and waved off the praise, “It wasn’t anything so great as that. I mean, I’d like to become a hero, but… I guess I’m not really sure what to do right now.”

    “Ahaha, Taylor, that’s silly. You don’t just become a hero. You do what needs doing and maybe people start calling you one after the fact.”

    “Is that so?” I laughed. “Well, I suppose I can worry about that later anyways.”

    I could already hear sirens approaching, the first ambulances approaching with Velocity running alongside them to help provide support. The Protectorate would probably hear about me from some of the people I’d healed and would want to talk with the new parahuman, but honestly, I really just wanted to go home at this point.

    Sighing, I pushed myself to my feet. One way or the other, it was time to get moving.

    Do you interact with the Protectorate?
    [] Introduce yourself to Velocity.
    [] Go home.
     
  3. aidansidhe

    aidansidhe Getting sticky.

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    Well, I look forward to the inevitable apology, if that was Lisa.
     
    Zxzx24 likes this.
  4. Threadmarks: Think 0.3
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Current Energy: 18
    Current Emulation: Scholar




    Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
    The Docks, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    [X] Assist as much as you can.

    As I rushed to help heal, my mind turned onto exactly how. Arcane geometries unfolded in my mind’s eye, ways to effectively infuse the energy now churning inside of me into a person, repairing their body piece by piece. Except, the energy I had was limited. There was no way I was going to be able to go person-to-person, healing each one of them.

    I drew in a deep breath and looked up at my fairy. “Eos. If I feed you a bit of energy--” Aether, my mind supplied, “If I feed you some of my aether, can you help all of these people in one go?”

    She smirked back at me. “I think I can manage. Are you sure you want me to get everyone though? I could exclude a few,” she said, tilting her head to one of the nearby gangsters.

    [X] Heal him.

    I felt my hands slowly squeeze tight, and took a shaky breath. “Yes. Everyone.” I paused and looked at the destruction around me. Unbidden, words came to my lips. “For those we can yet save. Do it Eos.”

    -1 Energy

    Pushing my aether into Eos, I watched as she flew a wide circuit around the area, golden dust settling on all of the injured. The healing was hardly instantaneous, but even so, I could see their wounds begin to knit themselves together. Torn flesh made whole, broken bones knitted, burns replaced by new, healthy skin.

    The screams, the panic, the weeping slowly died down as people realized what was happening. And soon, I felt their eyes turn to me. I cleared my throat, uncomfortable with the sudden attention. “Everyone,” I started, but it came out hardly more than a whisper. Taking a moment to center myself, I raised my voice and started again. “Everyone. Help is coming, but we need to work together until it gets here. If anyone is trapped under rubble, let’s help dig them out. If anyone is still injured, please point me to them and I will heal them.”

    As though my instructions had broken the spell, people started moving, working to help others that were still trapped. A weight settled on my shoulder, Eos returned from her flight. She smiled at me and I returned it hesitantly before moving forward to get to work.

    ******

    [X] Introduce yourself to Velocity.

    In the end, it was Velocity who wound up approaching me, instead of the other way around. I watched him speak with a few of the victims in the area, hesitant to interrupt, before he finally came to me.

    “Hey there. I hear you helped out here a lot. Thank you. There’s a lot of people here who would have been a lot worse off if not for you.”

    “It wasn’t really anything big, I was just in the right place.”

    “It was something big. I think each and every one of the people here would tell you as much. You’re a real hero today. Speaking of which, what should I call you?”

    I ducked my head, my ears burning. “I… don’t really have a name picked out yet or anything.”

    “Well, if you’re having trouble thinking of anything, the PR guys at the Protectorate would be happy to help you. You should think about joining the team.”

    “Joining the team -- as in, joining the Protectorate?” I asked.

    “Sure, if today was any indication, then we’d love to have you.”

    Did he not realize how old I was? If I joined, it would have to be as part of the Wards, not the adult Protectorate team. Blinking away my confusion, I offered a weak smile. “I’ll… have to think about it. Was there anything else you needed me to help with here?”

    “No, no, we’ll handle clean up here. Feel free to go home and get some rest. Just…” He smoothly reached into one of the small pouches on his belt for a moment and slipped out a card. “Give us a call if you change your mind. Even if you don’t decide to join, the Protectorate has resources that can help friendly Independents, and it’s worth introducing yourself so that we know to look out for you.”

    “I don’t know that I’m ready to start going out regularly or anything though.”

    “Hey, no pressure. Reach out when you’re ready, alright? And maybe, find a mask in the meantime,” he grinned.

    “Okay,” I said, taking the card. “I’ll keep it in mind.”

    I turned away and he waved good-bye before zipping off back to helping the paramedics. I began the trek home, the card heavy in my pocket.

    A hero. I hadn’t even done anything. Eos had done all the real work.

    “What’s on your mind, Taylor?” Eos asked, apparently having flipped to floating upside down at some point during our walk.

    I glanced up at her and asked, “Hey, Eos? I…” I grimaced, unable to give voice to the question on my mind. “I guess, I don’t really want everyone to know that I have powers. Is there a way to make these clothes back to how they were before? Will you vanish if I do?”

    “Hmm? Just focus on changing them, I suppose? I don’t really deal with the whole clothes thing all that much myself. They’re something of a mortal contrivance, you know?” She put a hand to her chin, even as she spun to face me, floating backwards with each step I took. “But! You don’t need to worry about our bond, Taylor! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin!”

    I smiled and waited until I had stepped into an alley to focus on my clothing. To my great relief, Eos proved right, and the strange coat I’d been wearing vanished in a swirl of blue sparks, replaced once again by my hoodie and jeans. “Convenient. I guess this means I don’t need a costume?”

    Except… would the clothes hold if I ran out of whatever energy was powering me? Or if I was knocked unconscious? Maybe I would need a secondary costume to wear, just in case. Either way, I’d need to get a mask at the bare minimum, apparently.

    Well, one problem at a time. “Eos… Do you have a way to hide yourself as well? Turn invisible maybe?”

    “Hmm. I suppose I could manage that. Will you be okay without me though, Taylor?

    “Yeah. I’ll be fine. Just be around if I call, I guess?”

    “Okay.” Eos gave me a sad smile and with a twirl, vanished.

    Right. All that was left was to get home… and figure out what to tell Dad.



    What do you tell your father?
    [] (Truth) Everything about where you were and that you are a parahuman now.
    [] (Omit) Where you were, but omit that you’re a parahuman now.
    [] (Lie) Pretend you were at school the whole time.
    [] (Write-In)

    Tomorrow is a School Day. Choose 1.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Follow up with the PRT.
    [] Go on patrol.
    [] Research local capes.
    [] Brainstorm a cape name.
    -[] (Write-In Cape Names).
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    - (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (Your social circle is kind of sad right now, isn’t it?)
     
  5. Threadmarks: Witness 1.1
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Current Energy: 17
    Current Emulation: Scholar




    Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
    The Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    The neighborhood around my house was closer to the fighting than I would have liked, though it had largely been left untouched by the chaos. Not that everything in the city hadn’t affected it in their own way. Most of the front yards I passed by were overgrown these days, more weeds than grass. Paint was left peeling off the walls. Gutters were filled, overflowing whenever it rained.

    Even without the destruction the gangs left behind, the city was slowly decaying.

    Stepping over the rotten step leading towards the front door, the step that Dad had been saying for years he would fix and never quite getting around to it, I reached out, only to freeze with my hand on the doorknob. How would I even tell Dad about all of this? Should I even tell Dad about all of this?

    He’d fallen apart after Mom had died, and even if he’d eventually picked himself back up, he still wasn’t the same person he’d been before that. Neither of us were. How would he react if I told him I was a cape? Would he just retreat back into himself again, distance himself from everything? Even if he didn’t, how much would it weigh on his mind, knowing his daughter was a cape?

    [X] (Truth) Everything about where you were and that you are a parahuman now.

    No. This was too big to hide from him, even if he might be happier not knowing. My hand shook, but I forced the door open nonetheless. Inside, my Dad was pacing, the local news playing Lung’s Rampage in the background. His head snapped up as I closed the door behind me, palpable relief on his face.

    “Taylor. Oh thank God.” He rushed to pull me into a hug. “When I saw what was on TV , and you hadn’t come home yet -- Are you alright?”

    “I’m okay, Dad. Really.” I closed my eyes, letting myself enjoy the comfort of his arms for a brief moment. “I got a bit caught up in things, but I wasn’t hurt.”

    “What were you even doing out there?”

    “I just… I needed to be alone for a while. I didn’t really expect a gang war to break out.”

    “I don’t think anyone expected something like this. It’s been years since something this big happened. Not since the Teeth were in town. Still, you shouldn’t have been off wandering in the Docks by yourself.”

    “Yeah. I know.” I took a deep breath and gently pushed myself free of his embrace. “Dad. We need to talk about something.”

    The way Dad immediately stiffened up, his eyebrows scrunching down in worry at those words almost made me crack a smile. I suppose it was true that no pleasant conversations ever started that way.

    “Taylor, what–”

    “I’m a cape,” I cut him off. After a moment of silence, where he seemed more poleaxed than anything, I quietly added, “Eos, come out please.”

    The fairy appeared in a swirl of light, circling around before landing on my shoulder. After a moment, she tilted her head and said, “Huh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone’s eyes go quite that wide before.”

    ******

    Current Energy: 16

    Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
    Winslow High School, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    Scraping the inside of my mouth with a stick was a strange experience.

    Despite the protestations of many a student, school went on as normal after everything that had happened yesterday. Honestly, I was rather surprised. With it being the last day before Winter Break, I would have thought the teachers would have taken the chance to start everyone’s vacation a day early. Instead, I found myself stuck in Biology, with a teacher who thought that looking at our cells under the microscope made for an ‘interesting’ way to keep us engaged.

    Looking around at the classroom, a good majority of people were just talking with their lab partners and not even bothering to do the assigned work. My own partner was fiddling around on her phone, not even bothering to look at me. I could only feel bad for the teacher’s naivety. You would think they would know better by now.

    Still, at least I didn’t have to deal with any of the Trio in this class. I swabbed my cell sample onto the glass slide and slid it under the microscope. Leaning in, I pursed my lips as I peered through the lens, wondering once again at how strange my power was. Looking over the cells, I could instinctively recognize the structures within. There, the nucleus, the lysosomes, the mitochondria, the endoplasmic reticulum.

    It seemed like I simply had an innate understanding of how the body worked now. Nor was it limited to just that. My power filled my thoughts with geometric shapes that if I poured my aether along those lines, it could serve to repair or damage the cells. My drawing had been enhanced accordingly. No new talent for true life-like complexity, but I could draw a perfect circle every time, should I but desire it.

    I hadn’t had Algebra scheduled today, but I suspected my skill at Arithmetics had likewise improved.

    Was it cheating at school if I had a power that shoved all the information into my head? Probably, but it’s not like I could really do anything about it. Instead, I would take the small blessing for what it was.

    When the bell finally rang, I gave my assignment to the teacher, stuffed everything else into my bag, and rushed out the door. As I half-jogged downstairs to my locker, however, a small pit of dread began forming in my stomach. Things had been quiet lately, it felt like the Trio had gotten bored and moved on, but if they were planning on getting up to their old tricks, the last day of school before the break seemed the most likely.

    Shaking my head, I banished those thoughts. They’d had all day to try something if they wanted to. Spinning the dial to unlock my locker, I reached out and–

    My vision blurred, a sudden wave of nausea crashing over me.

    The world fell away. My heart pounded in my ears, drowning out the voices of students around me.

    I couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. I–

    “Taylor? You okay?”

    The world suddenly fell back into focus and I drew a sharp breath. “What?” I blinked for a moment and turned to see one of my classmates looking at me. “Uh, yeah. Thanks, Greg. Was just distracted, I suppose.”

    “No worries. Hey, did you hear about that new hero that popped up? All sorts of news on PHO about them.”

    I gave him a weak smile. Greg wasn’t a bad guy, but… Well, he tended to be a bit overenthusiastic with sharing his interests a lot of the time. In short, he meant well, but was a bit annoying to spend time around. Still, he was one of the few people in the school who actually bothered talking with me.

    “Sorry Greg, I don’t really spend much time on PHO, so…” I shrugged.
    “That’s too bad, apparently they’re a new healer and those are pretty rare.” My breath caught as I realized that he was talking about me, but I did my best to keep it from my face. He frowned, his course of conversation stymied in the face of my feigned disinterest. “Well, got any fun plans for the Break then?”

    “No plans, really. Just spending time with my Dad. Speaking of which, he was supposed to pick me up after school today, so I need to get going.”

    “Oh, uh, okay. Have a good time then!”

    I waved him off and rushed away. Sophia shoulder checked me on the way out the door, but for her that was practically mild, so I ignored it and kept going. A few moments later, I was enclosed safely within the passenger side of Dad’s pickup.

    “Hey Taylor. How was school?”

    “Fine. I’m more worried about today’s meeting.”

    “It’ll be fine. I believe in you. I just wish I could be in there with you to help.”

    “We already agreed–”

    “I know, I know,” he interjected. “I just wish I could do something.”

    [X] Follow up with the PRT.

    We pulled out of the parking lot and I looked out the window, unsure how to respond. Yesterday, after Dad had finally calmed down, we had talked about what to do going forward.

    Of course, Dad probably would have been happiest if I just hid my power entirely and never did anything with it, but… I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t hide. Not when there was so much good I could do. Instead, we had, after some discussion, decided to call the number that Velocity had given me.

    So, I would have a meeting with the PRT’s Vice-Director today, apparently. Which was a fair bit more than I was hoping for, if I was being honest. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to join. Eventually sure, but maybe it would be better to get experience on my own first, to get a reputation as a hero to give myself more clout.

    Especially since I was taking advantage of Velocity’s mistake and presenting myself as an adult. That way, they would be more likely to take me seriously, to treat me as an equal, instead of just some kid they could shove into the corner.

    Dad really hadn’t been sure about that one, since it meant he definitely couldn’t show up with me, but in the end, he hadn’t been willing to overrule me either. I think the fact that my powers were orientated towards healing people probably helped. No one really targeted the healers from what I’d heard online. They were too rare, there was too much possible backlash.

    Eventually, we came to a stop in a parking lot Downtown, about a block away from the PRT Headquarters. I glanced at Dad and asked, “Wish me luck?”

    “Good luck, Little Owl.”

    My ears heated at the use of my childhood nickname, but I smiled and nodded before getting out. Walking away, I waited until I could duck into an alley to allow my clothes to transform in a swirl of light, adding a cheap plastic domino mask that Dad had bought for me. Eos sprung out and plopped herself down on my shoulder a moment later.

    I could do this.

    ******

    “Hello, I have an appointment with the Vice-Director?”

    The receptionist at the front desk looked up at me, blinking as she took in my costume. “Of course, let me just call and make sure he’s ready for you. Is there a name I could give him?”

    I felt the blood suddenly drain out of my face. I hadn’t taken the time to think of a name!

    What name do you give?
    [] Let Eos decide.
    [] Choose one on the spot!
    -[] (Write-In)
    [] Sorry, I don’t have one at the moment.

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Research local capes.
    [] Go on patrol.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Brainstorm a cape name.
    -[] (Write-In Cape Names).
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    - (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad
    -[] Eos
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Witness 1.2
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    1,110
    Current Energy: 16
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 6




    Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
    PRT Headquarters, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “A name? Ahaha, yes, a name. Clearly, as a hero I’d need a name.”

    My eyes swam from side to side, seeking inspiration or answers of some sort. Why hadn’t I thought this through?! Of course I’d need a name! Otherwise some idiot would probably call me Chubster or something!

    [X] Let Eos decide.

    “Ooh, ooh!” Eos poked her head up excitedly. “We’re picking names? I know! You should be Schtolteheim Reinbach IV.”

    “Vetoed.”

    “Aww. I thought that was a really good one.”

    I shook my head ruefully, unable to help the small smile that crossed my lips. “It’s not that sort of name anyways, Eos. A hero’s name is… Well, it’s supposed to embody them. What they stand for, their ideals, their abilities. Who they are to the world.”

    “Their ideals and their abilities, huh…” Eos frowned and sat cross-legged, despite hovering mid-air, her chin resting in her hands.

    Scratching at my cheek, I glanced back at the receptionist, who wore the long-suffering look that all people who worked in customer service seemed to learn at some point or another. “Sorry. We’re still a bit new to all of this.”

    “It’s okay. How about I check with the Vice-Director and you can think of a name in the meantime?”

    “That might be for the best.”

    I herded Eos back into the lobby, idly glancing around the place as we walked. It was, in a word, austere. Dark tile with white walls. The only real decoration was a few scattered posters of the Protectorate.

    Most prominent was a poster of the local Protectorate: Armsmaster, Miss Militia, Velocity, a few others who I didn’t recognize as well. A lot of the capes on the team were more recent additions that had joined within the last few years, and I’ll admit, while I’d had a bit of a cape nerd phase while I was younger, I hadn’t really kept up with it. However, even I could recognize the people in the poster next to it.

    Eos, on the other hand, could not. She poked her head over my shoulder and asked, “So who are they?”

    I tilted my head and nodded to each in turn. “Alexandria. Hero. Legend. The Triumvirate. The heroes that had founded the Protectorate. In a lot of ways they defined what it means to be a hero.”

    “Then, what does it mean to be a hero?”

    Blinking, I looked back towards Eos. Her usual energetic demeanor was nowhere to be seen, replaced instead by a sort of quiet intensity that took me aback. “Well, I suppose it means defeating villains and protecting people?”

    “Is that all?” she replied, disappointment writ plain in her voice. “Is that the sort of hero you aspire to be?”

    “I– Eos, I’m not really sure–”

    She placed a hand on my cheek, interrupting me, before leaning in to whisper softly, “Taylor. I know you have a beautiful light inside you. I know you do, else we would not have bonded. So I hope, I pray, that you take that light forward and use it to become a beacon to others. Become hope that shines even in the darkest of nights – and in so doing, inspire others too to rise to greatness.”

    “Eos… I’m not that great. I’m not the sort of person that other people look up to. There’s no way I can live up to your expectations.”

    “You can. I know that you can. So go forward with confidence. Leave a legacy that is more than just defeating villains. Leave a legacy of hope. For we who walk before may lead those who walk after.” She paused and then gave a conspiratorial smile. “With that, I bestow upon you your name. If you think yourself unworthy, then strive to live up to it.”

    I blinked away the tears that were threatening to form. “I don’t know if I can. But I’ll try.”

    “That’s all anyone can ever ask for. Now, if that’s all finished, I do believe the gentleman over there is getting tired of waiting for the two of us.”

    Spinning around, I saw a PRT trooper waiting nearby. He cleared his throat uncomfortably before nodding at me. “Miss. The Vice-Director is available to see you. If you could follow me?”

    I fought to keep the blush from my face as I returned the nod. “Of course. Please lead on.”

    A long, awkward elevator ride later found me ushered to a surprisingly small office. Somehow, in my mind, my image of the PRT had always been more in line with spy and cape movies, with lots of expensive furniture and high tech gadgets lying about. Instead, the Vice Director’s office had a desk, a few bookcases, and a window out to the city. The highest piece of tech that I could see in the room was his desktop computer.

    The man himself was tall and thin, his close-cropped hair more gray than not. He stood up as I entered and offered his hand. “Ah, you must be the new heroine that I’ve heard so much about. A pleasure to meet you. I am Vice-Director Thomas Calvert.”

    “I hope what you’ve heard has all been good, Mr. Calvert.”

    “Of course. Velocity was very complimentary about your work. You saved a lot of lives yesterday. Our receptionist says that you were still choosing your name?”

    “Legacy. My name is Legacy.”

    Calvert’s eyebrows rose for a moment at my name, but he nodded and said, “Then I look forward to seeing what you leave behind. He settled down behind his desk again and gestured towards a chair across from him. “So, what were you looking to get out of this meeting, Legacy? I’m happy to help heroes such as yourself, of course, but without knowing what it is that you’re looking for, there is only so much I can do.”

    “I’m still fairly new to this. I suppose that I’m looking for ways that I can help most effectively. I can heal, so… ways that I can help out at the hospital maybe, or to establish a line of communication for the Protectorate to contact me in case of emergency.”

    “Fair enough. I should start by encouraging you to join the Protectorate, as it would allow us to put the full weight of our resources behind you. However, given your questions, I’m assuming that you aren’t quite ready to make that step?” I nodded and he smiled before continuing, “In that case, I would say your first step should be to seek a Parahuman Healing License. We overlooked yesterday, given the ongoing emergency, but strictly speaking, using your powers to heal someone without having first obtained your license to do so can be considered to be Assault with a Parahuman Power. It is also important that you receive consent from those you heal for similar reasons.”

    “What does obtaining a healing license involve?”

    “Nothing too complicated. We would need you to come in at some point to test your powers. See what you are capable of, how effective your healing is, what it is effective on, and so forth. Past that, the PRT would be willing to assist with the relevant paperwork.”

    He paused for a moment, waiting to see if I understood. After a moment he said, “Now, for your second question. If you are looking to keep your identity to yourself and not announce it to the world as New Wave does, then I would encourage you to pick up a second phone that isn’t associated with your private identity. Once you have that, you can register it with us to be called in case of emergency.”

    “One final thing, Legacy.” He slid a paper off of his desk, turning it around as he handed it to me. A map of Brockton Bay, I realized after a moment, with different sections colored in. “I took the liberty of creating this mock up, as I’ve found it’s helpful for new heroes. It shows each of the known gang territories. Please keep in mind that this is not a hard rule. Gangs are not countries. They will cross borders quite often, and what borders do exist constantly shift and flow. Still, it should give you an idea of where best to avoid.”

    “Avoid?” I asked, surprised.

    “I know many young parahumans think themselves invincible when they first start their careers,” he replied. “Still, these are gangs of hardened criminals, many of them with murder records. You would hardly be the first vigilante to disappear after getting on their bad side.”

    My lips thinned for a moment. It’s not like I didn’t know that, but I couldn’t just stand aside and do nothing either. Not if I had the power to change it.

    “I’ll be sure to look it over then,” I said, already glancing down at it. To the south, in the more commercial and downtown districts lay the E88. The ABB controlled parts of the southern docks, though they had relatively little territory. The largest by far was the Marche, covering the trainyard, the docks, and parts of the northern half of the city. “Anything else I should be aware of?”

    “I think that should cover it. Do let us know when you would like to register for your license.”

    ******

    Current Energy: 15
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 7

    Friday, December 24th, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [X] Spend time with Someone.
    -[X] Eos

    “I can’t believe you’re making me do homework on Christmas Eve.”

    Eos giggled and fluttered down to sit on the edge of the desk. “Don’t think of it as homework, think of it as getting better with your powers.”

    I grimaced and looked down at the biology text book I had in front of me. The notebook I had open beside it would look a lot like I’d been taking notes on human anatomy, if not for the occasional arcane geometry sketched in alongside it. “My power already tells me all of this though. I’m literally only able to understand some of this because of my power.”

    “Right now, sure. If you study though, then you can internalize it and become even better at using what you’ve got.”

    I grumbled and sketched in a few more symbols before stopping and setting my pencil down. “Eos. Should I join the Protectorate?”

    “That’s up to you, isn’t it?”

    “I just… You said to leave a legacy of hope, but I’m not sure how to do that.”

    “You will figure it out, Taylor. I know you will. I believe in you. So please, believe in yourself too.”

    I looked down, my eyes skimming over the notebooks so that I didn’t have to look at Eos. “I’ll try, Eos.” That was all I could promise. I would try. Letting out a soft sigh, I finally flipped the notebook closed and flopped down on my bed instead. Holding my hand up towards the ceiling, I watched as sparks danced between my fingers, not quite coalescing into anything.

    A moment later, Eos floated over, carrying a bag of potato chips. She flopped onto my stomach before tearing the bag open.

    “You know, you’ll get fat if you eat nothing but chips all the time.”

    “Pfft, no I won’t.” She rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at me. “Anyways, what’re we doing tomorrow?”




    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 10

    Join the Protectorate
    [] Yes, join the Protectorate.
    [] Stay Independent for the time being.

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 1. You will be spending the morning with your father.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Research local capes.
    [] Go on patrol.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Power-Test with the PRT for your license.
    [] Brainstorm a cape name.
    -[] (Write-In Cape Names).
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    - (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad
    -[] Eos (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Witness 1.3
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    1,110
    Current Energy: 14
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 10




    [X] Stay Independent for the time being.

    Saturday, December 25th, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    I woke to the smell of bacon.

    Groaning, I shifted Eos off from where she had fallen asleep on my stomach and padded my way downstairs. I could hardly believe my eyes. Dad was in front of the stove… cooking. Ever since Mom had died, it had been either up to me to cook dinner, or Dad had grabbed take out on the way home from work.

    Stepping warily into the kitchen, I asked, “What’s the occasion?”

    Dad turned at my voice. “Morning Taylor. And, well, it is Christmas. Really though, I know it’s been awhile since we’ve had the chance to talk, and with everything that happened…”

    I slid into a chair and shrugged. “I don’t know that there’s all that much to talk about, Dad.”

    “Not all that much – Taylor, you were caught in a gang war a few days ago!”

    “So were a whole lot of other people, Dad.”

    “That’s not the point.” He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Look, I know you’re excited about having powers now and being a hero, but promise me that you’ll be safe out there? You don’t need to go looking for trouble.”

    Crossing my arms, I leaned back and met my Dad’s eyes. “I can’t promise that, Dad.”

    “Taylor–”

    “No. I can’t, Dad. If I have the power to help someone, then I should help them. I have a responsibility to.”

    “I just want you to be safe.”

    “I know. And I’m doing what I can to stay that way, Dad. I’ve talked to the PRT, I’m letting them test my powers. I’m not just leaping in head first. However, I can’t see someone suffering and then just look away.”

    Dad gave a rueful smile and shook his head. “Too much like your Mother, I suppose. At least try and find some backup for yourself, then. No one can go at it alone, least of all when you’re planning on getting into street fights.”

    “I suppose,” I said noncommittally. “I can keep an eye out for any other independents out there and try to team up.”

    “Good. Then…” Dad hesitated a moment, before setting a cell phone onto the table. “Well, it’s not much of a Christmas present, but you’ll probably need it.”

    I froze. We hadn’t had anything resembling a cell phone in the house since Mom had died. Dad had refused to use one for years. I looked back up at Dad. “Are you sure?”

    “Certain. I even picked one up for myself, so that you can call me in case of an emergency.”

    Slowly, I picked the phone up and wrapped my hand tight around it. How could something so small feel so heavy in my hand? “Thank you, Dad.”

    He reached out and gently squeezed my hand. “Merry Christmas, Taylor.”

    ******

    [X] Power-Test with the PRT for your license.

    Saturday, December 25th, 2010
    Protectorate Headquarters, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    While the PRT headquarters had looked disappointingly like a modest office building Downtown, Protectorate Headquarters did a much better job of fulfilling my fantasies of what cape life was like. Built on an refurbished oil rig out in the middle of the bay, a potential visitor needed to travel along a bridge built entirely of hard light just to get there.

    The bridge was, I found to my embarrassment, quite slippery as well.

    Upon arrival, doing my very best to look like I hadn’t fallen on my ass several times during the walk across the bay, I glanced around the lobby, which, besides also being a great deal better looking than the PRT Headquarters, apparently also included a gift shop off to the side.

    They occasionally ran guided tours through the area, as I recalled, though I hadn’t ever had the chance to be on one. Nor did it look like there was one running today. Instead, a pair of women in white lab coats were waiting near the reception desk. As I approached one of them started waving wildly.

    “Ah, this must be Legacy! A bit early too, you wouldn’t believe how rare punctuality is in this business. Anyways, I’m Dr. Simon, this is Dr. Runarsdottir.”

    I raised an eyebrow. The aforementioned Dr. Simon was a tall, thin woman with dark hair. Meanwhile, Dr. Runarsdottir was a bit shorter, with red hair and freckles. Glancing between the animated brunette and the subdued redhead, I finally settled on a neutral, “Hi. I was told I needed to do this to get licensed?”

    “Sure, sure, right this way,” she said, ushering me along down a hallway. “We’ve got a few people lined up for you to heal, so Dot and I will be taking notes as you work. Speaking of which, is the Stranger effect just an always on sort of deal, or can you control it?”

    “Stranger effect?” I blinked.

    “You know the whole…” She made a gesture towards her face and I stared blankly at her. After a moment, Runarsdottir took pity on us.

    “Though several people have interacted with you without any mask present, and they are able to recall and place who you are, they seem to be unable to recall your features when they put their minds to it. The broad strokes remain, but the details escape them.”

    “Ah…I hadn’t been aware.” Why hadn’t Dad mentioned anything like that? Did it not affect people who already knew who I was? Was it only when I was in the costume my power generated or all the time?

    “Huh. Well, that’s why it’s so important to test what you can do in a controlled environment. Anyways, here we are,” she said, opening the door to what looked more like an interrogation room than a clinic, with plain gray floors and ceiling on every side. A large, heavyset man sat at the table, looking a bit impatient.

    “Your first patient to look at is fairly simple, a cut and some abrasions. Everyone here has already signed waivers, but you’ll want to get into the habit of asking permission to heal someone.”

    “Right.” I looked at the man and asked, “Do I have your permission to heal you?”

    “Go ahead, Miss.”

    Pursing my lips, I examined the wound for a moment, before gesturing for Eos to heal it. It was minor enough that she could manage on her own easily. Stepping back towards the scientists, Dr. Simon tilted her head. “Do you heal entirely through the projected minion?”

    “I haven’t really experimented much. I think I can heal faster and more thoroughly if I’m hands-on, but it also tires me out more in the process?”

    “So healing takes energy from you? Is there a hard cap to how much you can do a day?”

    “I haven’t had the chance to test it. I can just feel that it’s more efficient when doing it through Eos.”

    “Eos being your projection?”

    I nodded and Dr. Simon scribbled something on her notepad. A moment later, Eos finished her work and floated over to sit on my shoulder.

    “Right. What else do we have to go through today?”

    “Hmm. Well, next is a fractured bone. Then a patient with the flu, a patient with strep throat, kidney stones, a stage-2 cancer patient, and finally a patient with an auto-immune disease, and finally a patient with Parkinson’s.”

    Blanching at the long list, I nodded after a long moment. “Well, best get to it then.”

    ******

    -3 Energy

    The fractured bone had been simple enough, and again, I’d let Eos handle it. Unfortunately, the rest had not gone so well. With regards to the flu and strep throat, we healed the patients and strengthened their immune system, but couldn’t do much to get rid of the actual virus. It treated the symptoms, but not the cause.

    We couldn’t do anything for the kidney stones.

    For the cancer patient, I wound up asking for their charts and settled into a sort of concentrated chemotherapy, where I actively poisoned the cells that we knew were cancerous and then worked to regrow them. He would need a follow up with actual medical professionals to make sure that I had gotten it all, and that it wouldn’t spread, but it seemed effective and I left pretty happy over that victory.

    Unfortunately, the last two patients kicked that small win out from under me, as I found myself unable to help either of them.

    “So it seems your healing is primarily regenerative in nature. Despite being able to apparently reverse it to damage cancerous cells, it doesn’t seem to have borne much fruit against actual diseases.”

    I frowned, but nodded, aware of where I had fallen short. I might have general knowledge stuffed into my head, but I didn’t have any instinctual knowledge. The only reason I’d been able to do as well as I had with the cancer patient is because doctors had already done the hard work of scanning for cancerous growths.

    “In short, you’d probably make a great battlefield medic or Emergency Room doctor, but that’s about it. I’ll see about getting our findings sent in so that you can receive the appropriate license.”

    “Not that I’ll have as much chance to use it as I’d hoped.”

    “Hey, don’t worry about it. Keep your chin up. Not every power is good for everything. And feel free to come and say hello if you ever do join the Protectorate.”

    “I – Thank you, Dr. Simon.”

    “Until next time then.” She grinned and waved me off.

    She was right, I reflected as I stepped outside again, bracing myself against the cold December air. It might not be the cure all that I was hoping for, but parahuman healing was supposedly pretty rare. It’s not like I’d heard of any other parahuman volunteering at hospitals in the Bay.

    Even what little I could do might make a difference.




    Current Energy: 11
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 13

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Research local capes.
    [] Go on patrol.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Speak with Hospitals regarding part-time employment.
    -[] Paid
    -[] Volunteer
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad
    -[] Eos (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
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  8. Threadmarks: Witness 1.5
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    1,110
    Voting is Here

    Current Energy: 9
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 16




    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [X] Speak with Hospitals regarding part-time employment.
    -[X] Paid

    Monday, December 27th, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    I listened to the phone ring for the fourth time since this morning.

    With my license safely in hand, I had decided to start contacting the local hospital to see if I could use my power to help out there. The problem was that no one at the hospital seemed to know what to do with me. I called the hospital’s main number first, which then directed me to someone in their HR department. Then I was directed to the head of their Nursing Resource Center, who then asked if they could call me back while they contacted Legal.

    They had eventually called me back nearly four hours later and asked me to join a conference call with the hospital’s president. Great. No pressure or anything.

    “Sorry about the runaround, Legacy.”

    “I understand, Mr. Greeney. It’s not every day that a healing cape pops up and offers their services.”

    “No, it certainly is not. There’s been a bit of debate on where your talents would best be used, or even if they can be used.”

    “Even if I can’t treat a lot of your long-term patients, surely I’d be useful in the Emergency Room, at least?” I asked

    “Ah, it’s not that we doubt that you’d be useful, but from a legal standpoint, NEPEA-5 puts a great deal of restrictions on how we can use you as an employee, as well as what we would be able to pay you.”

    I frowned. “What exactly would those restrictions entail?”

    “Well, to begin with,” A woman cut in, “You would be considered a contracted worker instead of a full-time associate. This means you wouldn’t be eligible for benefits, such as health insurance or a retirement fund. More to the point, you would be paid on an hourly basis instead of by salary.”

    “Okay…” I suppose that made sense. No point in paying me for work I wasn’t doing, I supposed, and it’s not like they knew my real identity for the insurance benefits.

    The woman hesitated before continuing, “As for pay… We can’t pay you the same amount that we would pay a doctor… or even a nurse, really. It’d be above a surgical tech’s rate of pay, but not by a significant amount.”

    Closing my eyes, I reminded myself that I wasn’t in this for the money. I wanted to help people. This just seemed the most straightforward way of going about it. “Alright. Is there anything else I should be aware of?”

    Something of my frustration must have come across in my tone, because the woman sounded distinctly nervous. “There is one other thing. I am aware that many parahumans lead lives with… hectic and irregular schedules. However, if you’re to be working here, we need you to be able to commit to a schedule. It honestly doesn’t matter how much of a miracle your healing might be if we never know when you might stop by.”

    I took a deep breath. If I committed now, I would be tying up my time into this hospital for what was, apparently, mediocre pay. I’d definitely be helping people, but it would take time that could possibly be better spent elsewhere and lock me into a schedule.

    On the other hand, I could decline the job and look into other ways I could help the people around me. Maybe I could open my own clinic and schedule my own hours that way – though, I didn’t exactly have the money to get something like that off the ground at the moment.

    Still, I needed to give the hospital an answer one way or the other.

    Do you take the job at the hospital?
    [] Take the job. (Lose your bonus action on weekends as it is spent at the hospital instead).
    [] Decline the job.

    ******

    I tossed my phone at the couch and let out a frustrated growl. “Why is getting a job so difficult?”

    “That was difficult?” Eos fluttered down, staring at me innocently.

    “...I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, Eos.”

    “It’s just, well, it seemed pretty simple to me? You just talked to people for a bit.” She shrugged and flew over to the couch, where she made the vain struggle to try and lift a phone that was almost as large as she was.

    “Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.”

    “Fair enough. I’d take your interview over having to go kill ladybugs and wharf rats all afternoon though.”

    I raised my eyebrows. “I… don’t think that’s a job requirement for anyone, except maybe an exterminator, Eos. It definitely wouldn’t be part of the interview process.”

    “Eh?” Eos stared at me, looking genuinely surprised. I stared back at her. Why is she acting like I’m the one who said something weird? After a moment, she shook her head. “Well, never mind that. What’s the plan for the afternoon?”

    “I figured I’d give the circle we drew in the basement another shot. See if I can’t get anything more from it.”

    “Ah. Should I get the mop?”

    “Funny.”

    The fairy’s smile widened.

    “...Yes. Maybe a towel as well.”

    “Ehehe. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do better this time, Taylor.”

    “It would be hard not to,” I replied.

    “Hooray for low bars!” Eos cheered.

    I rolled my eyes in response but couldn’t help the smile on my lips. “Yeah, yeah,” I said, wending my way down the stairs towards the basement.

    The circle remained as fresh as when I’d first drawn it yesterday. Even after mopping up the mud, the lines remained unblemished, as if I’d somehow drawn it with something more permanent than the flimsy bit of chalk that I’d used. I could still feel the energy resting inside of it, pooling in each of the six corners I’d created.

    Settling in the middle of the circle again, I let my mind wander, resigned to another long afternoon of not much happening. Though I’d gotten a feel for the different streams of aether and how it pooled, I honestly couldn’t tell any difference between the different sets. At most… Well, I suppose the energy around the circle behind me felt like it was, perhaps, moving faster than the rest.

    Hmm. The circle in front of me was the one that spat mud all over me yesterday. So if that was Earth, was the one behind me Wind, perhaps? I tentatively reached out and poked at it, only to be sent tumbling as a sudden gale knocked me over, pushing me outside of the circle completely.

    “Oooh, you found Wind this time,” Eos piped up. “That’s a particularly important one for you to remember. Most Nymian magicks focused on using Wind and Water aether. A bit of a divergence from the Amdapori who focused more on Earth aspected aether to achieve their healing, or Sharlayan techniques which, well, are quite in a class of their own.”

    I blinked slowly and slowly pushed myself away from where I’d ended ass over teakettle against the wall. “You’re throwing out a lot of terms that mean literally nothing to me, Eos.”

    “Oh! Ahaha, don’t mind me, just thinking to myself!”

    “I swear you get weirder with each passing day.” I shook my head. “Right, so that’s Earth and Wind. I’d rather not find Lightning by accident and electrocute myself. So, any sage advice?”

    “Focus on trying to feel the aether like I told you instead of poking at it every chance you get?”

    “I’m not really getting anywhere with that though.”

    Eos tilted her head, thinking for a moment, before saying, “Maybe we should get you out of the house tomorrow. Go out and see the city. It doesn’t do you any good just staying cooped up all the time.”

    “Wh– You were the one who wanted me sit in a circle for hours!”

    “Yes, and this is important. But so is seeing the world. Have an adventure. Seek the horizons!”

    “You’re just bored, aren’t you?”

    “Not at all! This is for your benefit,” Eos lied as naturally as she breathed.

    “Uh huh. I guess you don’t mind staying here at home while I go out tomorrow then?”

    “What’re you saying, Taylor? We’re partners, aren’t we? I go where you go.”

    “Convenient.”

    “Isn’t it just?” Eos smiled and settled herself on top of my head. “So, where to tomorrow?”




    Current Energy: 8
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 19

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] Find the plant-based vigilante. Can’t be too difficult, right?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Could try getting in contact with New Wave.
    [] Go on patrol.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad
    -[] Eos (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
    Syphi, AzaggThoth, Taliesin and 5 others like this.
  9. Oddboy

    Oddboy Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
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    I know NEPEA-5 is restrictive, but this feels downright self-destructively so... Then again, it's Worm and NEPEA-5 was stupid from the start and proven so in short order since it basically kickstarted the Elite, which rapidly went on to become the largest and most powerful criminal organization in the States, from what I remember, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

    "Helping people? And getting paid for it!? Hahaha, no."

    No wonder Pan-pan is so bitter. Even if she wanted to get paid for all her healing, she'd get a shit wage.
     
  10. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Pretty much. It's protectionism at it's worst. We can't pay you the same wage a normal person would make in this job, we might need to fire a normal person to make room for you then.

    That's putting aside the whole Cauldron influence where they explicitly don't want people to be Rogues, they want to push them into conflict by forcing them to join the PRT or become villains. It's real stupid, but that's Worm for you.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Witness 1.6
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2019
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    261
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    Voting is Here

    Current Energy: 8
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 19





    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.

    Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “I thought we were going to go and explore,” Eos pouted.

    “We will.” Eventually. When I worked up the nerve. “Just… maybe tomorrow, it’s pretty cold out today.”

    Eos shot me a skeptical look and I rolled my eyes.

    “Stop sulking. We’ll get to it eventually. I just wanted to get a bit better at this first.”

    Eos sighed and flopped dramatically to the ground, before just as suddenly bouncing back up again. “Right. If we’re going to spend more time training, then let’s do something a bit more interesting.”

    “Interesting how?” I asked guardedly.

    “Though we are bonded, it’s possible that events might conspire to separate us in the future. So, I’ll teach you how to call me back to your side, wherever I might be.”

    “I… honestly thought that you couldn’t get that far away from me.”

    “Well, I’d rather not, but who knows what may happen in the future? Better safe than sorry, right?”

    “Sure. So what do I do?”

    Eos fluttered down, placing her tiny hands over mine. “Close your eyes.”

    “Listen to your heartbeat.” I let out a slow breath, feeling a bit nonsensical. More of just closing my eyes and feeling blindly again?

    “Listen.” My heart beat slowly. Alone, I thought. So alone, my powers had given me an imaginary friend as if by way of some strange consolation. Except, there was a second beat there, wasn’t there? Thumping in time alongside my own.

    “Reach out – No, not with your hands,” I jerked my hand back as Eos suddenly slapped it. “Reach out. We are tied together. As even a branch and it’s sapling are tied, so too are we.”

    She was right. There was a connection there, in the dark. A line of light, a string that tied the two of us together.

    “Ah, you’ve found it. Now, push your aether into the connection. Strengthen it. And now pull. Gently – Gently!” Eos let out a sudden yelp as her hands disappeared from mine. I blinked my eyes open, only for her to suddenly reappear and slam into my face a moment later.

    “...Ow. Why are lessons with you always like this?” I asked.

    “It’s a natural part of the learning process,” Eos replied haughtily.

    “Are you sure you aren’t just a bad teacher?”

    “It’s a natural part of the learning process,” Eos repeated, though I noticed she wasn’t quite willing to meet my gaze.

    “Well, fine. I think I got the idea down, at least, but let’s give it a few more tries just to make sure.”

    I took sweet solace in the look of sudden panic that crossed Eos’ face.

    ******​

    [X] Spend time with Someone.
    -[X] Dad


    The sky had turned dark by the time Dad got home. I’d long since finished my training and was just sitting on the couch reading a book – attempting to, anyway. My attention kept slipping and I found myself having to backtrack to lines I’d already read.

    “Hey Taylor. Sorry I’m late. I picked up dinner on the way home though.”

    Fast food again, huh? “Don’t worry about it, Dad. I could have made something for us if you’d called ahead though.”

    “Hey, I know you’ve been busy with all the cape stuff. I can handle picking up food for the two of us,” he smiled, shuffling his jacket off to hang on the rack by the door. “Speaking of cape stuff, I never did hear how your call with the hospital went.”

    [X] Decline the job.

    “Oh… I wound up passing on the job for now. There were so many restrictions on it that it didn’t seem worth my time.”

    “Huh. Well, that’s a shame, but maybe it’s for the best. You can stay focused on your schoolwork this way.”

    “Sure. School.”

    I grimaced. A week left until I had to go back. The break couldn’t last long enough.

    “It does leave me at a bit of a loss, honestly. I want to use my powers to help people, but…”

    “But it’s complicated.” Dad smiled bitterly even as he unpacked our dinner in the kitchen. “Don’t I know it. So what turned you off about the hospital?”

    I coughed and looked away.

    “It’s a little embarrassing,” I started. “Especially since I should have expected it. I guess the main thing was that they wanted me to work a regular schedule. Between school and anything else I might want to do, I’m just not sure I could really commit to anything.”

    “Hmm,” Dad hummed thoughtfully to himself. “Well, it’s not a perfect solution, but I might be able to swing you some work if any of the Dockworkers ever get hurt. We’d probably pay less than the hospital and it would be a per visit sort of thing, but at least that way you wouldn’t be on a schedule.”

    “I suppose.” I wasn’t really sure I wanted to rely on my Dad’s handouts to succeed, but at the end of the day, I didn’t want to just coop myself up at home either. “Okay. I can swing something occasional like that,” I said, pulling out a kitchen chair for myself.

    Eos popped her head up from the couch where I had thought she had fallen asleep. “You know, if you’re looking for work, why not just make a public posting? Let people contact you when they need help.”

    “I…” I looked to Dad. “Is that an option?”

    He shrugged in response. “I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. A healer that makes house calls – Well, it would probably work better if you could handle a broader range of issues. Most people would rather just go to the ER if they’re injured badly.”

    That was a fair point. My healing wasn’t really good enough for more than just patching people up. I might be able to help with some more long-term injuries, but my powers simply weren’t flexible enough to let me help with more than that. I was too limited.

    “Still, it’s more than nothing, at least,” Dad mused.

    “Besides,” Eos piped in, “People need all sorts of help, not just healing. A friendly hero can go a long way.”

    I raised my hands in surrender.

    “Fine, fine. I’ll see about putting a post up on PHO.”

    Eos suddenly perked up. “That’s the ‘internet’ that you were using a few days ago, right? You have to show me how to use it this time!”

    A sudden shiver of dread went down my spine. Eos had discovered the internet. We were all doomed.




    Current Energy: 7
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 22


    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] Find the plant-based vigilante. Can’t be too difficult, right?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Could try getting in contact with New Wave.
    [] Go on patrol.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (1)
    -[] Eos (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
    Syphi, meloa789, AzaggThoth and 3 others like this.
  12. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    1,110
    Voting is Here
    Current Energy: 7
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 22





    [X] Find the plant-based vigilante. Can’t be too difficult, right?

    Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
    Residential District, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    When people thought of capes, a lot of them pictured people flying overhead or leaping from rooftop to rooftop. The reality was, that travel by rooftop was terribly impractical unless you had a power designed to help you. Most buildings simply were built too far apart, or at uneven heights, to be worth navigating.

    So it was that I found myself walking the streets in costume.

    It was strangely embarrassing. Even knowing that I was in costume, that no one could tell who I was, I couldn’t help but feel people’s stares as I went past. I felt exposed.

    I took a deep breath and shook my head. People just saw a strange cape on the street. It was unusual enough to warrant stares. It had nothing to do with Taylor Hebert.

    “Eos!” I called out, and she fluttered down from where she had been keeping vigil above the rooftops. “See anything yet?”

    “Nothing yet, Boss!” She gave a tiny salute before flying back up.

    Sighing, I brushed a hand through my hair and kept walking.

    PHO had mentioned sightings of ‘Gaia,’ the plant-controller, mostly in the southern Residential District, near where it met Downtown.
    The area was technically a part of Marquis’ territory, but that was true of most of the city. In practice, it mostly just meant that the businesses there had to pay their tithe to the Marche and other gangs kept out for the most part. There was still the occasional petty criminal, of course, not associated with any of the major gangs, and it seemed that ‘Gaia’ mostly focused her efforts upon such miscreants.

    Not a terrible choice for a vigilante just starting out and still getting used to things.

    The problem was that Eos and I had been scouting the area for nearly – I checked my phone – for nearly an hour and a half now and still hadn’t found any sign of them. Add in my embarrassment at walking the streets in costume or the cold December air biting at my nose, and it was, frankly, getting more than a bit frustrating.

    “I mean, maybe they just aren’t around today?”

    My thoughts were interrupted by the sudden loud retort of a gunshot. Eos flew down in response, pointing towards the southwest.

    “That way! Near the park!”

    I huffed, but turned and ran back towards the park that we had passed not ten minutes ago. A bare three streets over, I got there in under two minutes, but it was still too late to do anything.

    A man was already strung up in so many black vines that it looked almost as if he’d been caught in a spider’s web. Next to him, apparently finishing their handiwork, was the cape – though, they looked more ent than person, with dark wooden armor that showed no seams, nor even eye holes, as though it had been carved from a single piece. It seemed almost to shift into itself each time the cape moved, as if the wood itself were growing and shrinking to accommodate the gesture.

    Their head turned towards me as I approached – so they must be able to see somehow. I lifted a hand and Eos fluttered up behind me and waved as well. They hesitated and, after a moment, left the (probable) criminal behind to speak with us.

    “Hey. What happened here?” I asked.

    “Hello yourself,” the cape said in response. The voice was distinctly femine, albeit rather muffled underneath their armor. “It looked like this man was attacking a woman, and so I intervened. Unfortunately, the woman seems to have run off in the confusion.”

    “Ah. Well, I’m Legacy, this is Eos. You must be Gaia?”

    The cape was silent for a long moment, long enough that I thought I’d offended her somehow, before letting out a sigh. “No.”

    “No?”

    “No. I’m not some hack relying on Greek goddesses for a name, no matter how much PHO might bandy it about. Call me Symbiote.”

    “Oookay.” Personally, I thought Gaia was a better choice than Symbiote. The latter sounded vaguely villainous, to be honest.

    Symbiote made as though to fold her arms, before apparently realizing that her armor was too thick to quite manage the feat, even with whatever magic her power pulled to allow her to move about in it. She cleared her throat and let her arms hang at her sides instead. A long, silent moment stretched with the two of us standing there awkwardly before she said, “Sorry. Just… It feels as if any new hero has a fifty-fifty chance of being branded with some sort of mythological reference. It’s generic. I wanted something different for myself.”

    I tried to ignore how Eos was pouting (come to think of it, Eos was the name of a Greek goddess, wasn’t it?) and nodded. “I get it. I was put on the spot when I came up with my name, but I think it worked out.”

    Symbiote paused and I got the sense she was examining me despite not having moved an inch. “Was your costume on the spot as well?”

    “Kind of,” I replied, my ears burning. “It’s a bit complicated.”

    “Uh huh. So are you new as well, then? I haven’t really heard about you before.”

    “Yeah. I just, um. Just got my powers last week. I was actually out here looking for you. I wanted to connect with some of the Independents in the area, see if we couldn’t help each other out.”

    “Fair enough. I’ve been mostly fine on my own so far, but I would not mind the company. Do you have a number I can reach you on?”

    I nodded and fumbled for my phone. She reached out for it a moment later, and I watched curiously as the wood around her hand seemed to almost melt away, pulling back towards her arm, leaving a hand that looked strangely small and delicate by comparison. She typed in a message and I heard a buzz a moment later as she sent a text to herself.

    “There. Give me a call sometime.”

    With that she began to walk off, waving over her shoulder. I waved back and then glanced to where the criminal she had tied up was still hanging.

    “What about him?”

    Symbiote stopped and looked at the man and then back to me. Then back at the man.

    “Right. …I forgot about him.”

    Eos slapped a palm over her face.

    ******​

    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.

    Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “Why are we doing this again?”

    “Because it’s important to know how the aether flows through the body if you’re going to heal it.”

    “Can’t I just throw a spell at it and fix it though? I didn’t exactly know any of this when I was healing for my license,” I said, running a hand along my arm. There was a spark of energy there, under the skin, that I was following as best I could.

    “Well, yes, but also no. You can theoretically brute force a problem, but it’s incredibly energy inefficient – and not particularly good for the person you’re healing either.”

    “Not good how?”

    “Mm… Well, not throwing enough aether at the problem is obviously it’s own issue, as you leave the person with injuries still present. On the other hand, if you pour too much in, it can lead to aether sickness in the patient – assuming you don’t outright corrupt their aether, though that usually requires a bit more punch than what you can manage.”

    I shifted uncomfortably as the spark ran through my chest, circling my heart before continuing down the other arm. “Fine, fine, too much aether is bad. So does aether just travel through the circulatory system or…?”

    “Hmm. I think you might be making a mistake. You’re thinking that aether is just some sort of nebulous energy, right?” I nodded and she continued, “It’s not. It’s everything. The ground, the air, your body, your memories, your very soul. Both corporeal and incorporeal, aether is the blocks upon which creation is built.”

    “Wait, that can’t be right. You’re saying it’s not just magic bullshit that I can interact with because of my power? Surely someone would have detected it by now if it was that prevalent?”

    “Of course not,” Eos scowled at me. “What, did you think everything I was teaching you was fake up until now, Taylor?”

    “Not fake exactly… Just… rules within the context of my power?” I furrowed my brow. “Wait, does this mean anyone can learn what I do?”

    Eos waggled her hand. “I’m not really sure. I mean, maybe your people have a genetic predisposition that prevents them from using magic that your power lets you overcome? There are people like that out there, who simply can’t control aether despite ostensibly having access to it. And frankly, your Star is kind of weird.”

    I sighed and flopped back on my bed. Great. I thought I finally had something special, but anyone could potentially do what I do.

    “Oh, don’t be like that.” Eos landed on my chest and poked at my chin with her toes. “You’ve been making great progress, Taylor. Besides, what does it matter where your power comes from? What matters is what you do with it.”

    That was true, wasn’t it? It didn’t matter if I didn’t have powers at all. A cop or a firefighter were heroes in their own ways. People who went out and helped people when they could have done something safer instead.

    So the question was: What would I do with my power?




    Voting is Here
    Current Energy: 6
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 25


    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Could try getting in contact with New Wave.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (1)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Symbiote
    [] (Write-In)
     
    meloa789, Oddboy and caspian1a like this.
  13. Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    1,110
    Vote Here

    Current Energy: 6
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 25




    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.

    Thursday, December 30th, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    I winced as the knife parted my flesh, biting down on my lip to keep from crying out in pain.

    “Ooh, a clean cut this time. You’re getting better at making the incision. Now, quickly, mix the wind and water aether. Water to help regenerate your body, wind to seal the wound.”

    “Can we go back to just sitting in a circle for hours?” I complained.

    “Nope!” Eos grinned. “Just be glad you get to do this in a nice, controlled environment. If I could have my way, I’d be throwing you out to the wilderness to do this while also fighting off ravenous beasts. It’s the classic method, after all!”

    A shudder passed through me. Eos had grown surprisingly sadistic now that I was starting to improve at the ‘basics of the basics,’ as she put it.

    “Never was I so glad to live in urban America.”

    “Hmm, but I think I can spice things up a bit when we start training your barriers, at least.”

    Eos put a finger to her chin. It was far too cute a gesture for the evil that lurked within her heart.

    “Well. Putting that aside, you really are improving, Taylor. Your speed is way faster than it was when we started.”

    I let out a mumbled, “Thanks,” and looked away, my ears burning. It still felt weird being genuinely complimented for something. Especially since I hadn’t really done anything with my powers yet. I’d just locked myself away and trained with them.

    “It’s too bad we don’t really have a way for you to practice on healing other people at range… Hey, do you think your Dad–”

    “No!”

    ******

    [X]Could try getting in contact with New Wave.

    Thursday, December 30th, 2010
    Downtown, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    New Wave was a rather interesting bit of Brockton Bay history. They were a family of capes that used to be known as the Brockton Bay Brigade. They had some minor successes, mostly against unpowered members of the gangs at the time, but nothing major until the capture of Kaiser of the E88.

    Riding on that success, they had unmasked. It was to be a ‘New Wave’ of cape accountability, where capes no longer hid behind secret identities. It had even picked up some traction for a short while.

    Then Iron Rain killed Lightstar.

    Overnight, New Wave lost all the momentum it had built. A lot of the capes who had followed their example and unmasked went into hiding. New Wave itself stayed active, but only barely. Fleur was reportedly the most active, still pursuing vengeance for her murdered fiance nearly a decade later.

    However, I wasn’t aiming to meet up with any of the original members of New Wave. No, I had set my sights a bit lower – their children. Laserdream, Shielder, and Glory Girl were all second generation triggers, a true example of powers running in families.

    Fortunately for me, Glory Girl was significantly easier to find than Symbiote had been. In fact, she was rather hard to miss. Golden lightning trailed after her wherever she flew. The problem came in actually flagging her down to talk.

    Whether she just wasn’t paying attention to the city below, or simply hadn’t seen me, each time I tried to wave to her, she passed me by. In the end, I wound up having to climb up onto a rooftop while Eos flew up to get her attention.

    It took longer than I would like to admit to actually make my way up there, even with the use of a fire escape.

    She descended in a shower of golden sparks, her blonde hair catching at the sunlight. I let out a sigh and glanced at Eos. My power was useful. It was. I didn’t regret having it. Still, some part of me was jealous of how flashy her power was, or – Well, let’s be real, I was actually jealous of how stupidly photogenic she was.

    I gave her a thin smile as she drew close, a hand idly brushing through my hair. She gave a wide, pearly-white smile back. Ugh. Did everything she did have to look good?

    “Hey there! Legacy right?”

    I blinked. “You’ve heard of me?”

    “Heh, most everyone on PHO has heard of you by now. A real fairy princess healing everyone up after Lung’s rampage.”

    “It – It wasn’t that big of a deal or anything,” I mumbled, trying to ignore the heat flooding my face.

    “Sure it is! You know, parahumans aren’t that common to begin with, and recent studies show that less than one in a thousand parahumans are actually capable of healing other people.” She grinned and moved over to take my hands in hers – still floating, I noticed. “You should totally come hang out with me sometime. I can show you the ropes, and you can tell me all about what you do.”

    “I, um… I…”

    “Ooh, that sounds great!” Eos piped up. “What do you recommend in the area? Personally, I’ve been wanting to try out some ice cream, but Legacy hasn’t taken me yet.”

    “You’re in luck then,” Glory Girl winked. “There’s a great place near here that serves a fantastic cherry garcia. We’ll stop and get you a cone next time.”

    “Yesss. Okay, let me get you our number and we can plan to meet up.” Glory Girl pulled out her phone and Eos rattled off my cell number without hesitation. What the hell, Eos? Even I hadn’t actually memorized our number yet.

    “Great! I’ve got to get going, I was getting to the end of my usual flight and Mom’s expecting me home, but give me a call, alright? Talk to you later!”

    With that, she flew off, a golden lightning bolt streaking through the sky. I tracked her progress for a moment before turning to Eos. “What just happened?”

    “We just made a friend,” Eos replied, entirely too smugly.

    “I don’t get a say in this?”

    “Nope!”

    I let out a long-suffering sigh. “Fine. We’ll give her a call sometime so that she can treat you to your ice cream.”

    Turning around, I eyed the ground below.

    I really should have asked Glory Girl to carry me down before she left.




    Current Energy: 5
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 28

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Glory Girl
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (1)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Symbiote
    -[] Glory Girl
    [] (Write-In)
     
  14. Threadmarks: Witness 1.9
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Voting is Here

    Current Energy: 5
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 28




    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.

    Friday, December 31st, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “Right, so today we’re going to be doing something a bit more interactive.”

    I eyed Eos and the melons she had lined up behind her warily.

    “Dare I ask?”

    “It’s nothing too complicated. Since we don’t have a target for you to practice healing at range, I will instead have you forming your aether around the melons as a shield. It’s not ideal, but it should still give you an idea of how to project your magic over a distance.”

    “...Okay. But where did you get the melons from, Eos?”

    “Don’t worry about that.”

    “But–”

    “I said don’t worry about that! …Anyways, I shall be throwing rocks at the melons and you must react to defend them. Ready?”

    “Not really. I mean, I haven’t even practiced forming a shield yet–”

    “Go!”

    Eos tossed a rock and hit a melon off of its perch. It hit the ground with a wet splat.

    I slowly turned my head to stare at her. She stared back at me.

    And then she hefted another rock.

    ******

    [X] Spend time with Someone.
    -[X] Dad

    Friday, December 31st, 2010
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “I still can’t believe you started pelting me with rocks once we ran out of melons.”

    “If you can dodge a rock, you can dodge something much more dangerous to your life later on.”

    I squinted at Eos.

    “That sounds familiar.”

    She shrugged. “I watch movies on television while you’re asleep.”

    “You couldn’t have chosen a better movie to watch, at least?”

    “It isn’t as though there are many choices that late at night,” she replied defensively.

    “I’m sure you could have found something better to occupy yourself if you’d tried,” I said dryly.

    “It wasn’t even that bad a movie.”

    I huffed in amusement. It was that bad of a movie, but if Eos enjoyed it, I wasn’t going to stop her.

    “Alright you two,” Dad called from the kitchen. “Popcorn’s ready.”

    Dad came in carrying a pair of metal mixing bowls that he’d dumped the bags of popcorn into. Eos darted up to snatch a piece of popcorn off the top, carrying it back to her spot on top of the couch to begin gnawing at it. It was, I noticed, nearly the size of her head. A voracious appetite indeed.

    “So,” I said, taking my own bowl. “Any New Year’s resolutions, Dad?”

    “Oh, you know, the usual. Diet. Exercise. Make sure my teenage daughter doesn’t get herself killed.”

    “Should I start having Eos wake you up in the morning to go running?” I teased.

    “God no. I’ll find time to visit the gym on the weekend or something.”

    “Keeping a regular schedule is important for exercise!” Eos piped in, half of her kernel of popcorn already gone. “I’ve already got Taylor doing exercises every morning, Danny. You ought to join her.”

    Dad blinked and looked at me. “She does? What all are you doing?”

    I shook my head. “Nothing that much. Some squats and push-ups, mostly. She wanted to get me running too, but I put my foot down on starting that in the middle of winter.”

    “How are you going to run away from enemies if you can’t run?! That’s the most important one!”

    “She has a point,” Dad grinned.

    “Oh, not you too. Fine. I’ll start running in the mornings. But I’m sending Eos to wake you up too, Dad.”

    Dad clutched at his heart. “The sacrifices we make,” he said, before leaning over to stage-whisper to Eos. “I’ll get you a pudding cup next time we go grocery shopping if you let me sleep in.”

    “Hey! No bribing my fairy!”

    Eos put a finger to her chin. “Hmm. A one-time payment for an ongoing service doesn’t seem very fair. Make it a pudding cup each week.”

    “Deal.”

    The two of them reached out and shook hands. Or in Eos’ case, she shook Dad’s finger instead.

    “Honestly, you two. Don’t blame me when you get fat off of pudding, Eos.”

    Dad and Eos both laughed and Eos darted down to snatch another kernel of popcorn for herself.

    “Anyways, what are your New Year’s resolutions?” Dad asked.

    “I don’t know that I really have any. To be a hero, I guess? It always seemed pointless to resolve to do something just because it’s a new year. If you’re going to do it, then just do it.”

    “Some people just need that extra push to change things in their lives.”

    “I guess,” I mumbled.

    If there was something about my life I wanted to change… then maybe it would be the bullying at school. I guess, in a sense, getting powers was an extra push, but it’s not like they actually helped change anything. I couldn’t use my powers to force my bullies to back off or I’d be worse than they were.

    My powers didn’t really give me any leverage anyways. I wasn’t a thinker who could gather information to blackmail the school, or a master that could make people like me. No. I was a healer. That was it. Even if I used my barely existent fame as a parahuman, it would mean outing myself, and I didn’t want to do that.

    So I was stuck in the same situation as before. Trapped.

    “Taylor?”

    “No, it’s nothing. I just… Was thinking about school, I guess. Do you think it would be possible to get a transfer at all?”

    Dad frowned. “The only other place close enough to our house for you is Arcadia, and with their waiting list… Has Winslow been that bad, Taylor?”

    Yes.

    “No, it’s just… Forget it. It’s just a thought I had.”

    “Well, I can poke around, see what our options are on that front, at least.”

    “I – Thanks, Dad.”

    In the background, a countdown had started on the TV. One minute.

    “Just no dropping out of school to be a Hero, okay?”

    “I know. Mom would have wanted me to finish.”

    “She would have been proud of you regardless, Taylor.”

    I looked towards the ground. I hadn’t done anything worth being proud of.

    Not yet.

    “Ten, Nine, Eight… Happy New Year!”

    The ball dropped. Fireworks went off. I’m pretty sure more than a few pops around the neighborhood were gunshots as well.

    “Happy New Year, Taylor.”




    Current Energy: 4
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 31

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Glory Girl
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Symbiote
    -[] Glory Girl
    [] (Write-In)
     
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  15. Threadmarks: Witness 1.10
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Vote Here

    Current Energy: 4
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 31




    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [X] (Write-In) - You can't go back to the way things were. Tell Danny about Winslow.

    Saturday, January 1st, 2011
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “You really should just talk to him about it.”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Today was back to trying to get a feel for the different elements that had pooled in the magic circle we had drawn downstairs, apparently. I’d gotten a better feel for the exercise and could reliably identify each element now, but it was still rather frustrating to just sit for hours at a time when I could be doing something instead.

    “Don’t be that way. I was there with you on your last day of school. I saw how you reacted last night. I’m not stupid, Taylor.”

    I glared up at Eos. “Yeah? Well, you would be the first one then. It’s been going on for over a year now. Dad either hasn’t noticed or has ignored it.”

    The same way every teacher that had seen the bullying still ignored it. A gawky, friendless loner wasn’t worth saving. Not when the popular girl with a lawyer father could claim it was all just a big joke and have her friends back her up.

    “Taylor…” Eos sighed and fluttered down to sit in my lap. “He’s not a mind reader, you know. If you want him to know what’s going on, you have to talk with him.”

    “It’s not like it matters,” I said bitterly. “He couldn’t do anything about it anyway.”

    “He certainly can’t if you don’t bother telling him about it.”

    “No. You heard him last night.”

    A transfer wasn’t an option for us. Arcadia had a waiting list a mile long. Clarendon was across the city. Immaculata was as well, but had the added issue of being a private school. They would probably have dorms available, but good luck going there without a bank account to match.

    “I heard him say that he would check into what options were available, Taylor.”

    “Great. Then he’s already working on it and there’s no need to tell him anything.”

    “Ughhh.” Eos flopped over and clutched at her head. “Why are you like this? You’re so eager to help other people, but won’t do anything to help yourself.”

    “I just… He shouldn’t have to help me with my problems.”

    “Taylor. He’s your father. That’s pretty much his job description.”

    Swallowing, I nodded and looked down, letting my eyes trace the cracks in the floor. We’d swept up the dust and moved the junk, but the basement still showed signs from the years of disuse.

    “You weren’t here when Mom died, Eos. He pretty much stopped functioning. I’m afraid… Afraid that if I throw my problems at him that he’ll just break again.”

    “Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he will rise to the occasion.” Eos reached up to place her hands on my cheeks. “The only way to know is to trust in him. Have faith, Taylor.”

    I scrubbed the tears from my cheeks. “Fine. We’ll do it your way. I reserve the right to say I told you so, though.”

    Eos smiled and patted the top of my head.

    “You can do this, Taylor. And if you need a push, I’ll be right here behind you.”

    ******

    A year and a half ago, I had returned home from summer camp to find my best friend, Emma, a changed person. Since then, she had done her best to tear my life down. Homework stolen, juice dumped over my belongings, anonymous emails telling me to kill myself. That was just the start, the things she could get her cronies to do for her. The really painful parts were the ones she took a hand in herself.

    Comments about my life, secrets I had shared with her. Mementos that had meant the world to me stolen and vandalized. The worst part was that I couldn’t fight back. I reported it to the teachers and she made it look like I was just jealous of her, trying to stir up trouble. I tried to fight back and was made to look like the instigator.

    There was no winning. No escape.

    The only thing I could do to fight back was to keep a journal. Every incident recorded. Every email printed out and taped in. The first one had filled up within a month. A second had followed it. I was on my thirteenth now. Thirteen journals filled to the brim with the pain that Emma had inflicted on me.

    I slid the false wall panel inside of my closet back into place. I picked up the shoebox that I’d hidden the journals within, hefting it with a grunt as I left my room. Over a year of pain weighed heavy in my arms. Eos squeezed at my elbow, encouraging me to walk onward.

    Dad was sitting downstairs, in front of the TV. I dropped the box on the table in front of him.

    “Taylor, what…?”

    “Eos thinks you need to know all of this. So here. Read it.”

    Dad reached out hesitatingly and picked up the first notebook off of the pile. He looked at the first page. Then the second. He read through the entire notebook, his mouth drawing tighter each time he turned the page, before finally setting it back down. His gaze drifted over the stack of notebooks still remaining.

    Emma did all of this? I thought… I know she hadn’t been over in awhile, but I thought the two of you were friends?”

    “I used to think so too.”

    It would be easier, I think, if I knew why. Why had she turned against me? Was it something I said? Something I did? Was there ever a reason at all?

    Was there something I could have done to fix it?

    Dad leaned forward and put his face into his hands. “I’ll call Alan, talk with him about this –”

    “Dad, no. You know how Uncle Alan is. Emma is his princess. You’ll just wind up getting into a fight.”

    “I can’t just do nothing, Taylor!”

    I drew a deep breath, my hands reflexively clenching. “I’m not asking you to do nothing. I’m asking you to get me away from Winslow. Get me away from them. I don’t care if I have to bus halfway across the city every day. I’ll do it. Or maybe there’s options to take classes online. Anything.”

    “Okay. I don’t know what we’re going to do exactly, but I’ll schedule a meeting with your principal to get you out as soon as possible.”

    It wasn’t much. Maybe though. Maybe things would work out.




    Current Energy: 3
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 34

    Tomorrow is a Holiday. Choose 2.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Glory Girl
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Symbiote
    -[] Glory Girl
    [] (Write-In)
     
    Syphi and meloa789 like this.
  16. Threadmarks: Witness 1.11
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Vote Here

    Current Energy: 3
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 34




    [X] Spend time with Someone.
    -[X] Glory Girl

    Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
    The Boardwalk, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “Om nom nom nom.”

    I shook my head in amusement, watching Eos devour the ice cream cone. Yes, she was actually making those sounds with each bite. “I’m afraid you may have doomed me to a lifetime of buying ice cream.”

    Glory Girl laughed and took a bite out of her own cone. “I’ve heard about projections occasionally being independent, but yours does seem to be in a class of its own.”

    “Oh?” I raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

    “Mm. Well, plenty of Masters have complete control over their projections, of course. Occasionally, you’ll get some that have to issue orders to their projections and they act independently. I’ve never really heard of a projection with a personality like Eos has though.”

    “Huh.” Well, it’s not like I didn’t already know that Eos was weird.

    I let my gaze drift about the ice cream parlor, trying to ignore the people with cell phones snapping photos of us.

    The Boardwalk was something of a tourist attraction for Brockton Bay. Running along a good portion of the coast from Downtown up towards the Docks, some of the nicer shops and restaurants were located here. It also saw some of the most frequent friendly cape activity in the city, from the occasional Protectorate patrol to New Wave flybys, making sure everything was alright.

    A side effect of this was that people were remarkably less cape shy in this part of the city. We’d already had seven people stop and ask Glory Girl for an autograph. Another three had asked for a photo with the heroine. None of them seemed to care that they were interrupting a conversation we were having.

    “So, when are you planning on making your debut?”

    “Huh?” Glory Girl’s voice snapped me to the present and I looked back towards her. “What do you mean?”

    “I mean, you made a big splash when you first appeared, but no one’s really seen you patrol or do anything since then. So, I guess I was just curious what was going on?”

    “Oh. I mean, I guess I’m still figuring things out? I wasn’t really ready to start my career as a cape to begin with, but it was an emergency, so…”

    “Ah, I get you. Still, it’s worth doing something. You can always come patrol with me if you’re not comfortable going on your own, or even just volunteer at the hospital.”

    “Thanks, but I’m not really sure I could keep up with you on patrol,” I grinned.

    Glory Girl pouted. “Obviously I’m not just going to fly ahead and leave you behind. Or… I could always carry you instead?”

    “God, I can see the PHO posts now.”

    “Down tiger,” Glory Girl winked. “I already have a boyfriend.”

    I blinked, my face suddenly about ten degrees warmer. “I’m not – I wasn’t –”

    “Hey, it’s fine. I was just teasing,” she smiled. “Seriously though, how old are you? The uh, stranger effect thing you’ve got going on makes it hard to really place, but with your mannerisms I’d say you’re probably not as old as people have been speculating?”

    Letting out a slow breath, I nodded. “High School.”

    “Yeah, that fits.”

    What did that mean? Did I come off as immature somehow? I frowned, processing that bit of information. I guess I was still acting too much like Taylor Hebert and not enough like Legacy in costume. Taylor Hebert was shy, hesitating. Closed off. However, I couldn’t be like that as Legacy. Not if I wanted to live up to the name. I needed to be bold. To stand out. I needed to –

    “Oh wow! I didn’t expect to run into you here! Can I get your autograph?”

    I sighed as the latest of Glory Girl’s admirers came by, only to double take as I looked up. Instead of the stranger I was expecting, there was Madison Clements… standing in front of me. Had she figured something out? Did she recognize me?

    “Legacy, right? I saw the video on PHO and the post you made looking for other heroes. Are you teaming up with Glory Girl now?”

    My breath caught. I couldn’t force the words past my lips. What was she doing here?

    “Nothing official yet, but we were talking it over,” Glory Girl covered for me.

    “Hey, that’s great. We need more heroines in the Bay. Girl power, right?”

    “Right,” I finally forced out. “Sorry, I don’t have a pen–”

    “Oh, you can borrow mine!”

    “...Right. Thanks.” I took the offered pen and instinctively started writing my name before realizing what I was doing and turning the T into a looping L instead. Pseudonym signed, I passed the notebook back to Madison.

    “Thank you!”

    Madison happily took her notebook and pranced off. I stared after her for a moment before forcing myself to take a deep breath.

    “Well, that was a thing.”

    “Best get used to it,” Glory Girl consoled me. “You’ll only get more fans like that as you get more famous.”

    “It’s just weird to think about. I haven’t done anything worth having fans over, much less…” Much less having one of my bullies be the one to fangirl over me.

    “I get it. I mean, I come from a family of capes and it was still weird after I got my powers. People treated me differently. Even people who I’d known for a long time.”

    There was a hint of bitterness hidden under all of that. I wonder if she too had someone that she’d thought was her friend for a long time only for it to prove false.

    “Thank you for the advice, Glory Girl. I think it’s about time I got back though, before Eos eats herself into a coma.”

    “Call me Vicky. No need to stand on formality or anything.”

    “Oh. I mean… It didn’t seem very fair, it’s not like you know my name?”

    Glory Girl – Victoria – rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry about it. It just comes with the territory of being an open cape. Give me a call sometime though, let’s go on a proper patrol together.”

    “Okay. I promise, Vicky.”

    ******

    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.

    Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    “Come on, take in the ambient aether. Balance the flow as it travels through your body. Steady. Steady!”

    A sudden jolt lost me control of the aether I was directing through my body, leaving it a twisting, writhing mess. Nausea quickly followed, and I soon found myself losing my lunch all over the basement floor.

    “Ugh. That was awful.”

    “It takes a bit of getting used to, certainly. Though, that was a worse bout of aether sickness than most I’ve seen.”

    I sighed and grabbed a water bottle, downing its contents in an attempt to wash out the flavor of my own bile. “Sorry. I’m not sure how much I can concentrate on this tonight.”

    “Worried about tomorrow?”

    “Yeah. I should be happy. I’m finally going to be free. And yet…”

    “Hmm. Well, change can be scary. Even change that you’ve been hoping for, praying for. The important thing is to have courage. To keep going even when everything seems lined up against you. Continue your journey. One step at a time.”

    My lips quirked upwards. “And you’ll be right behind me to give me a push if I need it?”

    “However many times it takes.”




    Current Energy: 2
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 37

    Tomorrow you meet with the school to discuss your transfer. Choose your preference:
    [] Arcadia
    (It has a waiting list a mile long. If you had leverage on the school board it might be possible. Under current circumstances… Good luck).
    [] Clarendon
    (It’s across the city. You’d practically need a Mover rating to make this work).
    [] Immaculata
    (It’s expensive. You don’t really have the money for this at the moment, but maybe you can use your cape persona to make some).
    [] Online
    (Your Father is against this as a long-term option. He thinks it’s important that you be in school).

    Tomorrow is Monday. Choose 1.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote
    [] (Write-In)
     
  17. Threadmarks: Interlude 1.a
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
    The Docks, Brockton Bay
    POV: Amelia Lavere


    Amelia swung an arm out, a vine attaching itself to a rooftop before retracting to pull her upwards. Halfway up, the vine snapped under her weight, sending her tumbling back down to the ground.

    Sighing, she picked herself back up. She had to figure out a way to either increase the tensile strength or reduce the weight of her armor. Despite how protective it was, the wooden armor was proving more of a burden than a boon. Tough, but difficult to move in, difficult to maneuver in. Heavy. It didn’t even resolve the shock from blows that well, the blunt force penetrating despite the thick layer of wood. She needed to figure out some sort of padding to help deal with that.

    “Maybe a mixture with mushrooms, use their spongier attributes…” If she focused on absorption instead of outright hardness, she might be able to make a lighter, more mobile suit.

    Amelia hummed to herself as she thought it over, continuing her walk down the street instead of traveling the rooftops in style like she had planned. Control over plants didn’t sound like a terrible power on paper, but in practice it felt terribly complicated. Where a regular tinker could make power armor for themselves, she was left experimenting to find a result that was suboptimal. That was without even factoring in that one of the major threats of the Bay was a fire breathing dragon.

    As you might imagine, fire and plants did not mix well.

    “Ugh, I can give it more thought when I’m back at home with the greenhouse. No point overthinking things now.” She looked up at the moon hanging low in the sky and frowned. It was a moment’s thought to push at the sense in the back of her head and retract the wood covering her forearm to look down at her watch.

    “Oh… crap, it’s that late? Dad’s going to kill me.”

    Right. Time to get moving back home. Maybe Sherrel would cover for her if she called and asked for a pick up. Except Sherrel would want an explanation for why she was out so late, and honestly, it would be easier to just tell Dad she was over at a friend’s house.

    She had friends. Really.

    There was… Well, Mary sat with her at lunch sometimes? That counted, right?

    Okay, so maybe she was a bit of a loner, but it’s not like Dad was up to date on her social circle. She could probably convince him. Heck, he had some art exhibit tonight, right? Maybe if she was fast enough she could even beat him home.

    Right, the current suit was heavy, but it was basically moving on it’s own, she could keep it running without tiring out. So, let’s just pick up the pace and –

    The bat shattering across her back snapped her out of her thoughts. She stumbled forward a few steps before twisting to get an arm up to block the next blow. She stared wide-eyed at the guy who had just attacked her. Tall, bulky, shaved head. A typical skinhead.

    Something was wrong though. No one went out of their way to attack a cape like this. They were too dangerous.

    He tossed the broken bat aside and punched at her face. She blocked, but it didn’t stop him. He kept punching, his knuckles growing raw and bloody. Something was wrong with him. Spit and lather foamed around his mouth. He was broken. Feral. Attacking blindly.

    She punched him in the gut and it didn’t even phase him. She punched him in the jaw and the force pushed him back for a moment, but he ignored the pain and simply leapt back on top of her. She kneed him in the groin and he repaid it by trying to sink his teeth into the bark around her neck.

    A vine grew out, spreading over the skinhead, blooming like a flower before melting into goop. He struggled to move in the sludge, but struggling to move wasn’t enough. She hardened the muck, encasing him within a solid shell, before dropping the man to the ground. Even then, the man was still struggling, shouting. There were no words, none of the obscenities she would expect. Just mindless, animal rage.

    Amelia let herself fall back onto her ass, taking a moment to just breathe and collect herself.

    She hadn’t been hurt. The armor had protected her. Even the bat probably wouldn’t leave a bruise.

    And yet.

    If she closed her eyes she could see his face up in hers, his fists pounding down on her.

    “I don’t know what kind of meth the Empire has you hopped up on. I don’t really care. You can tell the cops all about it.” She pulled back her armor and took out her phone. She punched in the pre-set number and held it up to her ear.

    “Brockton Bay emergency services. Do you need police, fire, or medical?”

    The skinhead’s thrashing was slowing, whatever rage he was in wearing off.

    “Police. I’m a cape, I was attacked by an unpowered individual and proceeded to apprehend them.”

    “What’s the address?”

    “Just a little ways off of Thomas and Beechwood.”

    Amelia frowned. Come to think of it, he was awfully pale, even for a skinhead. Almost more gray than anything. And he’d stopped moving.

    “Okay, Ma’am. The police are on their way. Do you have a name I can give them?”

    “Symbiote.” Carefully, she stepped forward, leaning down to press her fingers to the man’s neck. “Shit. He doesn’t have a pulse.”

    “Ma’am? Who doesn’t have a pulse?”

    “The man who attacked me. He was thrashing about, but he just suddenly stopped moving and he doesn’t have a pulse!”

    “Okay. Ma’am, I need you to stay calm and stay on the line."

    She had to leave. There was no way she would be able to explain how late she was to her father.

    She met the man’s eyes. Vacant. Accusing.

    She stayed on the line.
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.1
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Current Energy: 2
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 37




    Monday, January 3rd, 2011
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    Dad was already awake and on the phone when Eos woke me up for our morning exercises. He was still at it when I returned from my morning jog, and three hours later when Eos finally got frustrated with me only half-paying attention to her lessons and told me to take a break.

    It wasn’t until it was nearly lunch time that he flagged me down to speak.

    “Right. So we need to go in and meet with your principal to get the necessary documentation, but the withdrawal part should be mostly handled at this point. The problem is what comes next? Where do you want to go? What do you think you could make work?”

    I looked down at my hands. I’d heard the arguments by now.

    Arcadia was ‘the best’ of the public schools, but everyone knew that. It was where the New Wave kids went to school. It was where the Wards were rumored to attend as well. It also had a waiting list a mile long. There was no way that I was going to be able to get there any time this semester.

    Clarendon wasn’t so bad, but it was simply too far away. I’d be wasting a good portion of my day just on travel. How was I supposed to be a cape if I had to spend all day traveling on the bus?

    Immaculata was a private school. It was supposedly comparable to Arcadia, but where Arcadia was public and free to attend, Immaculata was a rich kids' school. Dad couldn’t afford it.

    “Can I work online, maybe?”

    Dad shook his head. “No. I get why you would want to, but no. You’re still learning and growing, Taylor. The classroom is an important part of that. So is meeting your peers, making friends. I know Winslow was bad, but don’t let it keep you from living your life elsewhere.”

    “Besides,” he added, “State law requires that you still be supervised if you’re doing homeschool. I can’t really spare the time off work to be here every day while you take your classes.”

    [X] Immaculata

    “Then I think Immaculata might be the best option. I might be able to use my powers to make some money on the side, help cover the cost a bit.”

    “Taylor… You shouldn’t have to worry about paying for your own education. I can make it work.”

    I shot Dad a look filled with as much disbelief as I could muster.

    “I mean, I might need to move things around a bit, tighten the belt a little, but I can make it work.”

    “Dad, you aren’t going to bury yourself in debt so that I can attend high school.”

    Dad pursed his lips, getting that mulish look on his face that I knew he was prone to whenever he was about to dig his heels in and be stubborn for no good reason. I squeezed my hands shut, getting ready to argue my point. Surprisingly, it was Eos who beat me to it.

    “Danny,” Eos started, “I know it’s important to you to provide for Taylor. However, no man is an island. It is only through the sharing of our burdens that we can truly overcome our troubles. So that, even when events conspire to knock us off our feet, our fellow man reaches down to pick us back up once more.”

    I took a deep breath and added, “I don’t want to be powerless any more, Dad. This means that I can actually change things for myself. I can do this. I can help. So please, let me help.”

    Dad raised a hand to cover his eyes for a moment, pushing his glasses upwards.

    “It’s hard to believe sometimes, just how quickly you’re growing up, Taylor. Alright then. We’ll do things your way. Just, don’t feel pressured about it, okay? It’s still my job to look after you, not the other way around.”

    I shook my head. “We can both look after each other, Dad.”

    That was what family was for, after all.

    ******

    It was strange walking through Winslow while classes were in session.

    It wasn’t silent. I could hear ambient chatter coming from nearby classes. And yet, the hallways were deserted. There was a certain uncanniness to it. Eerie. As though something wasn’t quite right.

    To be fair though, Winslow never had been quite right. As evidence? Dad and I didn’t need to check in with any sort of security, or get someone to open the doors for us. We just walked onto campus for our meeting.

    We got to Principal Blackwell’s office without incident, where the secretary left us cooling our heels in the waiting room for an extra fifteen minutes before Blackwell invited us in to speak with her directly.

    The woman in question could only be described as thin. Narrow. Even her features had a sharp cast to them. A thin mouth, thin nose, thin eyes. It gave the impression that she was wearing a perpetual scowl. The impression was not helped by the severe bowl-cut nor by the black dress she had on.

    All-in-all, she looked like she would be more at home at a funeral than presiding over a high school.

    She looked up from a sheaf of paperwork as we entered. “Miss and Mister Hebert, I take it? What was it that you were here for today? There was an incident earlier, but we had yet to contact you about it.”

    We shared a look before taking seats in front of her desk, though she hadn’t bothered to offer them to us. Dad offered her a tight smile before saying, “Well, there’s a couple of things. Why don’t you start with whatever the incident is that you mentioned?”

    “We received a report this morning that your daughter had vandalized her locker.”

    “I can assure you, Mrs. Blackwell, that my daughter was at home with me this morning.”

    “We have several students claiming to have witnessed the event.”

    “And you should have on record my call this morning, asking for Taylor to be excused from classes for the day. However, this does lead into one of the reasons we came here. My daughter has told me that she has had problems with bullying while at your school. Problems that she has reported to your administration on multiple occasions. I would like to see a copy of any incident reports that you might have regarding her, and details into how you investigated her claims.”

    Blackwell puckered her lips as though she’d bitten into something unpleasant. “I see. I will ask my secretary to begin compiling the necessary documents for your review. Is there anything else I can assist you with while she does that?”

    “Why yes.” Dad pulled a letter out and set it on Blackwell’s desk. “This is a notice of Withdrawal. I’m removing Taylor from your institution.”

    ******

    [X] Spend time with Someone.
    -[X] Symbiote

    Monday, January 3rd, 2011
    Commercial District, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    After Dad had done his best at raking Blackwell over the coals this morning, we’d gone back home. It had been satisfying to see the woman held somewhat to account, even if I knew nothing would come of it. She would go on being a terrible principal and the Trio would continue their reign of terror over the school. Nothing would change except that I was free of it.

    It didn’t matter how outraged Dad was. The system didn’t care about little people like us.

    I’d just sat around the house for hours after that. Listless. There was a nervous energy that churned in my gut whenever I thought of the meeting that was scheduled with Immaculata’s principal tomorrow, but I couldn’t seem to bring myself to actually do anything.

    It wasn’t until my phone rang – my cape phone – that I was shaken from my lethargy. Symbiote, wanting to meet up. I half considered declining before finally saying yes, if only for want of anything better to do.

    “I’m surprised you said to meet down here, I thought you mostly patrolled further north.”

    “During the holiday, I was. With school back in session, it’s easier to stay further south.”

    Huh. It was kind of hard to tell with how bulky her armor made her look, but I suppose that would put Symbiote around my age.

    “Well, that’s fine, I guess. I’m probably going to be down here more often myself going forward. So, were you wanting to patrol together tonight, or…?”

    Symbiote was silent for a moment. Still. Her armor was motionless, I realized, when she wasn’t consciously moving it. There wasn’t even signs of her breathing. Combined with the lack of any sort of facial features on her armor, it made it a difficult task to read her, and I found myself growing unnerved with each moment that she stayed quiet.

    “Not exactly,” she finally spoke up. “I wouldn’t mind walking around a bit, but I mostly wanted to speak with you about something.”

    “Okay?”

    “I was attacked by some guy last night. Out of his mind with rage. Looked Empire. The cops said they’ve seen a few cases like this, they think it’s some new drug going around.”

    “Are you alright? I can heal you if you were hurt at all.”

    “I’m fine. He didn’t even hurt me. I looked you up on PHO after our last meeting though, and I know your abilities don’t necessarily protect you the way mine do. So I wanted to make sure you were warned about it. Be careful.”

    All this for a message that could have been given over the phone? I raised an eyebrow and gave Symbiote an exasperated smile. “I’ll keep it in mind. I suppose I’ll just have to call on you to be my personal knight in bark armor if it comes down to it.”

    Symbiote went motionless again. I think I was starting to detect a pattern to it.

    “I’ll… do what I can, I suppose.”

    “Great. Shall we take that walk then? I’m sure you’ll be happy to know I’ve been thinking about ways I could change my costume.”

    “I hadn’t said anything!” Symbiote replied in a panic.

    I just laughed in response. “It wasn’t that hard to tell what you were thinking though. Well, it’s not like I’m all that into my current costume anyways, it’s just sort of what I had to hand at the time…”

    And so we walked together under the moonless sky.




    Current Energy: 1
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 38

    Tomorrow is Tuesday. Choose 1.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2022
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  19. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.2
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Vote Here

    Current Energy: 1
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 38




    Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
    Immaculata Highschool, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    Comparing Winslow to Immaculata was like comparing night to day.

    Winslow’s campus was made to fit almost entirely within a single squat three-story building, whose only feature was how wide it was. There was the track and football field around back, and an iron fence surrounded the area, but otherwise, it looked as though it could have comfortably fit within a Soviet gulag.

    In contrast, Immaculata’s campus seemed almost more like a park, with trees and flowers lining a winding path. A number of smaller buildings dotted here and there, branching off from the path, but it was the main structure that dominated the area. Built of pale brick, the sloped roofs and occasional jutting tower put me in mind of a castle, the entire thing curving around to form a natural courtyard within its center. Overhead, a large clock tower loomed, casting the area into shadow as it ticked away the minutes.

    “So this is how the rich live,” I said weakly.

    The security guard that had accompanied us from the front gate grinned. “It’s something else, isn’t it? A lot of the smaller buildings you see around here are student dorms, for kids that are boarding with the school.”

    “Is that common?” Dad asked.

    “It’s not a majority, but it’s still common enough, I suppose. We don’t get that many kids from out of town, but the ‘immersive experience’ is a large selling point for a lot of parents.”

    I frowned. What would have happened if I had come to a place like this with Emma? If she had been in a dorm with me, only to turn on me. A shiver went down my spine. There really would have been no escape. I could only hope that Immaculata treated bullying more seriously than Winslow. I looked up at the security guard. “How many people is it to a dorm?”

    “It’s two people to a room and about ten rooms to a house.”

    That… was a lot of people to potentially be hiding my comings and goings as a cape from. At the very least, I’d need to find an excuse to give to whoever my roommate happened to be.

    The security guard, unaware of my sudden distress, continued to lead us inside, through corridors that were shockingly clean, not a single gang sign or graffiti covered locker in sight. Windows dotted the hallways, allowing sunlight to filter inside. The administrative offices themselves had a glass wall separating them from the hallway, letting us peer inside as we approached.

    I’d always known Winslow was a shithole, but it’s honestly a bit shocking to see just how different everything is. At least, with Immaculata I can chalk it up to having to maintain an image for the rich parents visiting. I’m not sure my heart could handle it if Clarendon looked this good.

    “Alright, this is your stop,” the security guard winked. “Good luck.”

    He waved us in and we introduced ourselves to the secretary. She, in turn, ushered us on to the Headmistress. Mrs. Briardien was apparently already waiting for us.

    The woman in question was an older woman, her hair already turning towards silver, though she had remarkably few wrinkles for her age apart from a set of crow’s feet around her eyes. She tilted her head, looking at us from over the top of her half-moon spectacles.

    “Mister and Miss Hebert, I take it? Please, take a seat.” She waited until we had before continuing, “I’ve had time to look over the paperwork that you sent over yesterday, Mister Hebert. I understand that you want to transfer to our institution, Miss Hebert? May I ask why the sudden interest?”

    Dad started before I could. “We just felt that Winslow was not a safe environment, and–”

    “Mister Hebert. Please, let your daughter answer.”

    “I…” I swallowed the knot in my throat and huddled deeper within my hoodie. “There was a group of bullies at Winslow. I was their favorite target. It just… got to be too much. I couldn’t keep doing it.”

    A part of me hated that I’d let Eos talk me into leaving. Like somehow, by doing so, I was letting Emma win. That I was proving I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to her.

    Well, Emma. I take my leave of you. You won. May you have the joy of it. For my part… While a part of me hated the defeat, the rest of me could only feel relief that it was finally over.

    I continued to relay the details of my story, of what I had gone through, until Mrs. Briardien raised her hand for me to stop. If she felt pity or sympathy for my situation, she did not show it. Instead, she simply nodded.

    “That will do, Mrs. Hebert. Thank you for your honesty. Let me be frank. I’ve seen your transcripts. Your grades have slipped quite a bit since starting at Winslow. I understand that there were mitigating circumstances; however, let me be clear: You will be expected to maintain your academics while attending as a student at this institution. Am I understood?”

    “Yes.” She raised an eyebrow and I took a deep breath before continuing. “I understand.”

    “Good. I have a few more things to go over with your father, but I did arrange for one of our students to show you around campus, if you would like?”

    I glanced at Dad, but he just shot me a reassuring smile in response.

    “Okay. I guess that could work.”

    Mrs. Briardien nodded and punched in a number on the phone on her desk. A moment later, her secretary’s voice answered through the speaker.

    “Yes?”

    “Please ask Mary to come in. We’re ready for her.”

    “Will do.”

    The line went dead, and a moment later the door opened.

    For a brief instant, I thought that Emma had stepped through the door, that this was all somehow a trick, that Emma had somehow arranged all of this as some sort of sick, practical joke. But no.

    The girl who stepped through the door was a curvy redhead, like Emma had been, but there the similarities ended. Her hair was a shade darker, closer to actual red compared to Emma’s copper. Her face was a bit rounder than Emma’s, her eyes were blue where Emma’s had been green.

    She shot me a bright smile, pulling nervously on her uniform’s blazer. “Hey there! I hear you’re going to be my new roommate?”

    “Um. I hadn’t heard anything about roommates yet, but I was transferring in, yes.”

    “Great! Good to meet you then. I’m Mary.”

    “Taylor.” I glanced over at my Dad, but he just smiled and made a shooing gesture. “I did hear something about a tour?”

    “Of course, just follow me!”

    I followed her and waited until we were outside to look over her uniform and ask, “So are the skirts a requirement?”

    ******

    It turned out that yes, the knee-length skirts were a required part of the uniform and I would not be able to swap it out for pants. Maybe this was a mistake. I could already hear the comments that the other girls would make about my stick-like legs.

    From there, Mary had taken me around the school, pointing out where classrooms were at, the cafeteria, the gym, and so on. It wasn’t until she started showing me around the various clubrooms that I realized something.

    Practically everyone in the school seemed to know Mary.

    She spent a few minutes briefly talking with people with each club room, making sure to introduce me to everyone. How she managed to remember all of their names, I couldn’t imagine. I didn’t hear any of the hidden barbs that I would have expected if it were Emma, but still. Mary was popular.

    It set me on edge.

    Eventually however, we made our way out towards the dorms.

    “And here’s our room.”

    The room in question was smaller than I expected. It was about the size of my bedroom back home, but with two beds, a desk, and a pair of wardrobes, it was a bit cramped. I stepped over to the window and looked down at the ground below. We were on the second story – not an impossible distance to climb in and out of if need be, but not necessarily easy either.

    “So, what do you think?”

    “It’s been great. Really.” Like living in a dream. “Thank you, Mary. You needn’t of gone to all the trouble you did.”

    “Hey, no trouble at all. We’re going to be living together, so best if we get along, right?”

    “I guess that’s true. You’re not mad about losing the extra living space?”

    Mary laughed. “Well, I wouldn’t mind a bigger room. But a lot of the girls here get along with their roommates pretty well. Best friends and all of that. So it was always a bit lonely being the odd one out.”

    “Surely not everyone gets along?”

    “Well, there are always exceptions, sure. There was this one pair of girls last year who just couldn’t stand each other. Wound up swapping partners with another room.”

    “Mm.” Teenage drama. Exactly what I was hoping to avoid.

    “It’s not that common though! Most people get along, you just have to give them a chance.”

    “I suppose.” She was certainly more optimistic than Emma had ever been, even as a child. “I should probably be getting back though, before my Dad starts wondering what happened to me. See you tomorrow?”

    She smiled. “It’s a promise.”

    ******

    [X] Experiment and train with your new powers.

    Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    I collapsed back into the circle, watching as Eos circled around above my head. Tonight was the last night I would be spending at home for a while. Tomorrow, I would start at Immaculata and start staying in the dorms. It was something of a lonely thought. I wouldn’t see Dad for the most part, and even seeing Eos would require sneaking away to get some privacy somewhere.

    “Hmm. I think you’re getting a handle on regulating your body’s aether. Did you want to start working on your shields? They’ll need to be stronger and faster if you’re going to avoid a repeat of the melon incident.”

    “Don’t even start with the melons again.” I’d had to spend a half hour cleaning that mess up. I still didn’t know where Eos had even gotten them from. “But alright. Let’s work on shields for a bit.”

    Eos grinned and hefted a rock.

    “Hey! No rocks. We can do live target practice later.”

    “Aww,” Eos pouted. “Take all the fun out of it.”

    “Fun for you, maybe,” I grumbled.

    “Exactly!”

    I rolled my eyes, but already I was weaving together what I remembered of the geometries to form a shield. A square within a circle. A circle to form a boundary, to separate without from within. A square to provide stability and strength. There were more complex shapes, of course, but they took proportionately more aether to cast.

    Raising my hand, I pulled the shield into being – only for it to seemingly dissolve, my grasp on the magic slipping.

    “What?”

    I tried to recast it, to recreate it, but the magic wouldn’t come to me. No, despite having used it just moments before, I realized I couldn’t remember the geometry to create a shield. The costume my power flickered and faded, leaving behind a baggy hoodie and sweatpants.

    “Eos?!” I looked for my fairy in a panic, but… No, she was still there, frowning slightly. “What’s going on?”

    “It looks like we’re out of time.”

    “What does that mean? I’m not…” Did I lose my powers?

    Eos shrugged. “It’s just how your power functions, Taylor, as far as I can tell. You’re given time to learn, but that time is limited. Like a library book you’ve checked out. Now it's time to return it and take out a new book.”

    “I haven’t heard of anyone swapping powers like that – No wait, Eidolon used to, back before he died, right?” And… Even though a large chunk of the knowledge I’d had was gone, I could still remember how to heal, I realized.

    Time to learn, Eos had said.

    That reminded me more of Dauntless. If that was the case… “How long until I get the next ‘book’?”

    “I think… Tomorrow.”




    Current Energy: 0
    Current Emulation: Scholar - lvl 41

    Choose a new emulation:
    [] Tank
    [] Melee
    [] Ranged
    [] Caster
    [] Healer
    [] Crafter

    Tomorrow is Wednesday. Choose 1.
    [] Experiment and train with your new powers.
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Put together a primary costume for when you aren’t in an active emulation.
    (This might be easier with some crafting skills).
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    -[] Mary
    [] (Write-In)
     
  20. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.3
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2019
    Messages:
    261
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    Vote Here

    [X] Crafter

    Current Energy: 20
    Current Emulation: Crafter




    Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
    Hebert Household, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    My alarm clock went off and I slapped it back to sleep. I’d already been awake for nearly half an hour, just staring at the ceiling.

    Again, I’d dreamt of a city aflame.

    Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to get up and start my normal routine. Shower, clothes, breakfast. Except, already, even that was disrupted. I found myself reaching for one of my usual t-shirts, only to realize that wasn’t an option anymore. I had a uniform to wear.

    I had a shirt and sweater vest that felt just a bit too small compared to the baggy clothes I usually favored. A skirt that felt as if it showed off far too much of my legs. A blazer, which wasn’t so bad, except for the fact that pockets were completely decorative.

    It felt strange. Alien. As though I had stepped into another world.

    A world where Taylor Hebert could actually be a person again.

    “Honey, are you finished up there?”

    Starting as Dad called up the stairs, I yelled back, “Yes, just a minute!” I finished pulling my shoes on, slung my backpack over my shoulders and jogged down to the living room. Dad and Eos were waiting together, and both smiled widely at me as I made my appearance.

    “You look great, Taylor! Be sure to knock them flat!”

    “You heard the fairy,” Dad chuckled. “You ready to get going to your first day?”

    No. I wasn’t ready at all.

    Ready or not, however, I had to move forward.

    ******

    It was strange attending a new school.

    I kept expecting someone to shoulder check me in the hallway. Someone to make a snide comment about how I looked, or to discreetly dump pencil shavings over me.

    None of that happened.

    At most, I could see curious gazes following me. Evaluating me. Wondering who this new girl was, why she had suddenly appeared in their class.

    Or perhaps it was only a stay of execution, and all of the old bullying would return once they had found my measure.

    At least none of the teachers made me do the awkward stereotype of standing up in front of the class and introducing myself to everyone. I was mercifully able to slide into the back row and work from there. It worked even, with hardly anyone seeming to pay me much mind.

    Until Lunch, that is, when Mary suddenly swooped down on me from out of nowhere and linked her arm with mine.

    “Hey Taylor! Good to see I didn’t scare you off yesterday. How’s your first day been?”

    “Uh. Hey Mary.” I resisted my instinct to pull away from her touch, simply shrinking in on myself instead. “It’s been fine, I suppose.”

    “Great! Ready to meet some more people? I know a couple of groups you would probably get along with–”

    “Can we not?” I asked. “I’m still kind of overwhelmed by all the introductions from yesterday.”

    “Oh. Yeah, that makes sense,” Mary said, visibly deflating. “Sorry. I was too eager. One new person then? It’s probably the quietest table in the cafeteria.”

    I tilted my head curiously, but she didn’t elaborate. “Okay. I could do with a bit of quiet.”

    Mary brightened up again and yanked me forward once more. The table in question was tucked off in the corner, and as promised, only had a single person at it. The girl in question was a mousy brunette with a smattering of freckles across her face, who was only occasionally poking at her food, apparently too involved with leafing through the book she had propped up next to her tray.

    The girl looked up as we approached, with an expression that screamed ‘Why are you bothering me?’

    “Hey Amelia! Mind if we sit with you?”

    “It’s a free country,” she said shortly, before shooting a glance between Mary and me. “Who’s this with you?”

    “Oh!” Mary said, “This is Taylor. She just transferred in. Thought maybe the two of you could be friends.”

    Amelia pursed her lips, examining me for a moment, before turning back to her book. “Whatever. You can sit, just don’t bother me too much.”

    I shot a look at Mary. I think I could see why this table was supposedly the quietest in the cafeteria. Mary, however, just returned the look with a shrug and smile, seemingly unconcerned with how little the table’s other occupant wanted us here. I hesitated, but ultimately followed Mary’s lead and sat down for what might possibly be the most awkward lunch in my life.

    Amelia wasn’t interested in talking. I wasn’t interested in talking. Mary would occasionally try to start conversations with the both of us, but it didn’t really go anywhere. We mostly just sat awkwardly around eating our food. Amelia had her book, but I caught her sneaking the occasional glance at me when she thought I wasn’t looking, so I’m sure my presence was just making things doubly awkward for her.

    This is why you don’t try to pair two loners up just because they happen to both be loners. Despite what some people might think, that’s not actually a basis for friendship or conversation.

    Finally, mercifully, the bell finally rang, signaling the end of lunch.

    Quickly gathering up my things, I stood up to leave, only to stop as I felt something tug on my sleeve. She was looking down at her book again, avoiding my eyes, but she still muttered quietly, “You weren’t terrible company. You can come back again tomorrow, if you want to.”

    I’m pretty sure we were both terrible company, honestly. Still. “Sure. I’ll do that.”

    Amelia nodded. Her expression didn’t change, but she let go of my sleeve, which, I guess was permission to leave. I looked up to Mary, who was grinning like a loon all of a sudden.

    “What’s so funny?”

    “Nooothing,” Mary sing-songed. “Anyways, let’s get going. What class do you have next?”

    I eyed her warily. “English.”

    “Great! Me too. Guess you’re stuck with me a bit longer.”

    Ah. So that was why.

    She had anticipated this.

    ******

    [X] Start Creating a Costume
    [X] Plan: Cloaked Armor
    -[X] Primary Color: Blue
    -[X] Secondary Color: Gold

    “How does anyone have so much energy?”

    “She doesn’t seem any worse than I usually am, Taylor.”

    I glared up at Eos. “You don’t count. You’re a fairy.”

    “What? Fairies aren’t people? That’s kind of closed-minded, isn’t it?”

    “That’s not what I – Fuck!” I swore as the needle pricked at my finger. A spot of aether healed the cut away, and I returned to glowering at Eos. “You know that’s not what I meant.”

    “But it’s what you said. My poor feelings.” I rolled my eyes. “Casual disregard aside, how was your first day?”

    “It was fine.” Better than Winslow had ever been. “The teachers were attentive and knew what they were talking about, no one really bothered me.”

    Apart from Mary, at least. It turned out that we shared our entire afternoon schedule together.

    “Anyways, is it just me, is there more gold in your wings than before?”

    “Oh, ahaha, I’m surprised you noticed.” Eos fluttered down to land on top of my head. “Well, I was bored while you were at school all day, so I thought I’d play around a bit. The way your power constructs my body makes it surprisingly mutable, so I was adjusting the colors a bit to better match your costume.”

    “What do you mean by ‘the way my power constructs your body’?” I frowned.

    “It’s not important. Just that your world is weird, is all.”

    “You’re one to talk.”

    “Maybe so!” Eos laughed. “But I’m not the one who chose a clocktower of all places as her secret hideout.”

    I glanced around my surroundings. As Eos had said, I had snuck into the school’s clocktower to work on my costume away from prying eyes. It didn’t seem like anyone else really came up here all that often. Besides, “Why is that weird? There’s tons of old comic book stories about heroes living in clocktowers.”

    “Most actual, real people don’t like to listen to gears grinding all night, Taylor.”

    “It’s not like I’m going to sleep here,” I said defensively. “It’s just a place to work in secret.”

    “Uh huh. How is the costume coming, by the way?”

    I looked down to the almost complete azure cloak in my hands. Before today, I’d never sewn before. Yet, I’d not only created this cloak out of a few bolts of cloth and some thread, but sewn detailed gold embroidery along its edges in under an hour's time. It seemed faster than should be humanly possible to do, and yet, I could remember every movement my hand had made in its creation.

    “Well, the cloak is just about finished. I don’t have any armor for it yet, but it should help form the basis of my costume, with the rest getting added on beneath.”

    I’m not sure where I would find the materials for the armor I’d planned. Metal was a lot more expensive than a few bolts of fabric. Maybe I could enchant the cloak itself to act as a stop-gap. Make it resist attacks and act as a sort of armor in its own right?

    “So, enchanting? How do I get started on that, Eos? I’d like something to conceal my identity as a baseline.”

    “Hmm. Well, normally you would use aspected crystals to do the work, but given that you’re rather lacking in those at the moment, you’ll probably just need to substitute your own magic. It’ll make the project a bit more arduous, but it should be possible. Well, for a simple glamour to cast your face into shadow, it should, at least. You’ll likely need to make the cloak out of higher quality materials if you want to anchor anything more complicated onto it.”

    “Right, so how do I do that?”

    “You know how. I’ve been showing you how to draw on the aether around you all this time, after all. Draw your circle. Focus on the aether you need. Weave it into the cloth, the same way you wove the thread itself. For a glamour like this… You’ll likely want to focus on lightning and wind aspect aether.”

    My first time working with lightning aspected aether. Surely nothing would go wrong.

    -4 Energy




    Current Energy: 15
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 8

    Tomorrow is Thursday. Choose 1.
    [] Craft or Enchant Something
    -[] Craft What? (Write-In)
    [] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    -[] Amelia
    -[] Mary
    [] (Write-In)
     
  21. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.4
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Current Energy: 16
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 8




    Thursday, January 6th, 2011
    Immaculata Dorms, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    I woke to the sound of Mary’s soft snores.

    Sighing, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and forced myself out of bed. Twenty minutes until when my alarm was set to go off. I switched it off early and took a moment to just watch Mary’s sleeping face.

    We’d wound up talking after I got back in last night. Nothing really important, just idle chit chat. She told me about her family – she was an only child, and unlike a lot of the girls here, her parents were actually Catholic and not especially wealthy. I’d talked about my family in turn. Dad’s job at the Docks. How Mom had once been an English Professor.

    Was this how things would be if Emma and I were still friends?

    No, I decided.

    Even when we were friends, Emma had a sharper edge to her than Mary did. It was never turned towards me, of course, but even back then, Emma had enjoyed gossiping about other girls. About their clothes, their grades, their love lives, their family lives. It hadn’t been as cruel, back then, but everything she had used on me, she had practiced on others.

    And I was complicit. For there was a time where I would sit and listen and laugh at the gossip the same as any of her followers now. I had helped Emma sharpen her knives.

    I grimaced and turned away, stepping out to head to the bathroom.

    The bathrooms were a semi-communal affair. There was more than one bathroom to each house, thank God, but you still had to compete among multiple rooms for its use. So, even having woken up early, I wasn’t surprised to hear the water running when I stepped inside.

    Sighing, I stepped over to the sink to wash my face as I waited my turn.

    Fortunately, it was a short wait, and soon a blonde stepped out to head back to her room. Heat flooded my cheeks as I noticed she was wearing little more than a towel. The girl shot me a smile as she walked past, completely unconcerned, and I realized I knew her. Mary had introduced me to her during our tour on Tuesday.

    Suddenly, I was made all too aware of yet another awkward part of communal living. Some people had no shame.

    ******

    [X] Check your PHO post for any potential jobs.

    Lunch went about the same as it had yesterday. Mary and I sat with Amelia. Mary tried to get conversations going, while Amelia and I mostly ignored each other, with the occasional muttered answer to Mary.

    After that, it was off to art class, where I discovered that while my current power set didn’t necessarily lend any inherent knowledge about art, my hands were unnaturally steady while drawing. I could draw exactly what I intended, with no misplaced lines. I purposefully had to make my lines sketchier and add in mistakes, if only so that my work didn’t draw comment.

    I met up with Mary again for my final class of the day, World History.

    Once that was over, I stretched as we walked out to the courtyard. “Hey Mary, are there any public libraries nearby?”

    “Hm? I suppose so, but we do have a school library on campus, you know?”

    “I…” Hadn’t really considered that. Using the library at Winslow had just meant one more place that the Trio could find me at. “I suppose. I mostly wanted to use the computers to browse the internet a bit. How late are they open?”

    “They stay open until five. I can show you where it’s at?”

    “No,” I said, but smiled to take the bite out of the refusal. I wouldn’t have minded Mary’s company, if I was honest, but seeing as I was planning to check things on PHO under my heroic pseudonym, I didn’t want to risk her looking over my shoulder. “I’m sure I can find my own way. See you later tonight?”

    “Alright, until later then, Tay!”

    I blinked and tilted my head. Tay? Where had that come from?

    Shaking the thought from my mind, I turned back into school, intent on finding the library.

    The library was, unshockingly, better appointed than Winslow’s had been. A better range of books, and a set of computers for students to use. It seemed almost a shame that my first visit here was for something as banal as checking PHO.

    Maybe I could check a few books out after I’d finished.

    In any case, checking the post I made (and then my DMs), I found I’d actually received quite a few messages. More than I’d been expecting, if I was honest.

    There were quite a few asking for cape healing. Most were for long-term and chronic diseases, which I regretfully replied I couldn’t help with, but there were still a few that I could.

    There was a request to help advertise a store on the Boardwalk. Not sure why anyone would want to use me for advertisement, it’s not like I’d actually done anything yet, but I guess cape tourism came in all stripes.

    There was a request for working a security job at a warehouse. The amount of money they were offering was suspiciously high, and my known powerset wasn’t exactly orientated towards security to begin with. Suspicious.

    There was a request from an account labeled AllSeeingEye who wanted to meet in person to discuss their request.

    Uber and Leet had messaged, asking if I was interested in helping with a show. Eugh. I mean, I guess I needed the money, and they were offering a bit, but still. Gross.

    One of the wards, Clockblocker, had also messaged, asking if I could help a cancer patient. I could, and responded as such.

    I had to admit, it felt weird doing heroism by PHO request. Could it even be called heroism at that point? It was more like I was just selling my services. Even if it was helping people… Well, I guess charity was a nice ideal, but I had school to pay for. Maybe when I wasn’t flat out broke I could afford to help people unconditionally.

    Stretching my arms over my head, I pushed until I felt my spine pop a few times. Well, I’d sent my message off to those I could help with today. I could stand to just browse PHO as a normal user for a few more hours. I clicked down to one of the connected forums, searching for my cape name out of curiosity, and –

    Oh. Dear god.

    I had fanfiction.




    Current Energy: 14
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 9

    Tomorrow is Friday. Choose 1.
    [] Craft or Enchant Something
    -[] Craft What? (Write-In)
    [] Respond to cape healing requests.
    [] Respond to cape modeling and advertisement request.
    [] Respond to warehouse security request.
    [] Respond to AllSeeingEye.
    [] Respond to Uber & Leet.
    [] Respond to Clockblocker.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    -[] Amelia
    -[] Mary
    [] (Write-In)
     
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  22. abyssmal_kismet

    abyssmal_kismet Experienced.

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    [X] Respond to Clockblocker.
     
  23. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.5
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Vote Here

    Current Energy: 15
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 9




    Friday, January 7th, 2011
    Immaculata Dorms, Brockton Bay
    POV: Taylor Hebert


    My alarm clock (Eos) woke me up today. The little fairy shook me awake, nevermind that Mary was sleeping not five feet away. I had the feeling that she was already starting to get tired of hiding all day.

    On the plus side, at least Mary was a deep sleeper.

    The redhead was sprawled out across the entire length of her bed, one leg falling off of it onto the floor below. A line of drool was soaking into her pillow, and she was mumbling softly in her sleep. Reaching out, I gently poked one of her cheeks and had no reaction. I reached down to tickle a foot and received a kick to my thigh for my troubles.

    It’s too bad she wasn’t also an early sleeper, or things would have been easy. No, I’d found out that Mary was a bit of a night owl and liked staying up late on her laptop. Later than I usually did, anyways.

    I glanced up to Eos and asked, “Any thoughts on waking her up?”

    Eos put a hand to her chin and tilted her head. “Weeeell, a kiss is always a classic?”

    “A serious suggestion?” I asked, my face burning.

    “Oh? Why wouldn’t that be serious? Do you not like Mary?”

    “I’m not – I just – We just met a few days ago, Eos!”

    “So if you’d known her for a bit longer you’d be up for kissing her?” Eos grinned. I swatted at the fairy and she dodged with a laugh. “Come ooooon. You’ll have to aim better than that, Taylor.”

    “Don’t tempt me. And I’m not kissing anyone!”

    “Gasp. Not even me?”

    I gave Eos a flat stare. She had actually said the word gasp. “Especially not you.”

    Eos flung a hand back against her forehead. “Alas,” she moaned, “to be spurned so readily. …Well, putting that aside–”

    “You recovered awfully quick.”

    “Putting that aside,” Eos continued undaunted, “we should see about waking our sleeping beauty for real, or the two of you will probably be late today. Fortunately, I have just the trick.” She flew up above Mary, circling around as bits of golden dust fell off to cover Mary’s face.

    Mary’s nose slowly scrunched up until, suddenly, with a start, she shot up and sneezed. Eos winked at me from above her head and vanished, leaving Mary to blink sleepy eyes and ask, “Taylor?”

    “Hey. It’s time to get up. Your alarm clock went off fifteen minutes ago.”

    Mary blinked slowly, processing the information. It took a long moment before it finally sunk in and she jumped up out of bed. “Aaah! Why didn’t you get me up sooner?”

    “I tried–”

    She rushed out of the room before I could finish my sentence, and ruefully I followed after her. Just in time to hear her shout from the bathroom, “Why is my face covered in glitter?!”

    ******

    Amelia flipped a page in her book.

    I flipped a page in my book, newly borrowed from the school library as of last night.

    Both of us ignored how Mary was pouting at me.

    “Ughh, come on, quit ignoring me! At least show a bit of remorse or something!”

    I took a bite of my lunch. “It washed off didn’t it?”

    “That’s not the point!”

    “Then what is the point?” Amelia groused. “You keep yelling into my ear and not really saying anything.”

    Mary folded her arms and looked away. Yep, definitely pouting. “I just want Taylor to apologize.”

    I gave Mary a flat look. “Fine. I apologize for the prank that washed off with no problems at all.”

    “Geez… If you say it that way, it makes me sound like the immature one for getting upset about it,” Mary said, visibly wilting.

    Sighing, I closed my book. On the one hand, it was about the tamest prank I’d ever seen. On the other hand, I knew I would have freaked out harder than Mary had if she had done it to me. A certain mischievous fairy would most certainly be getting a scolding later.

    “Look. It won’t happen again, Mary. I promise.”

    “Fine,” Mary said, turning her nose up into the air. “I accept your apology. But you owe me a movie night.”

    Ah, now had come the time for base extortion. “Agreed. Just not tonight, I already made plans and probably won’t get in until later tonight.”

    “Eh? What plans?”

    Mary wasn’t the only one who looked suddenly curious. Amelia also was peeking over the edge of her book at the two of us. Was it really that weird that I would have plans?

    “Oh, uh. I’m just visiting someone who’s in the hospital.”

    “Hmm. Well, okay then, but we’ll hang out later this weekend sometime. What about you, Amelia? Movie night?”

    “Only if I choose the movie,” Amelia replied dryly.

    “Egh… at least don’t choose a horror movie this time?”

    “I make no promises.”

    I smiled and reopened my book. It was… nice, being here, arguing amongst friends. Having people that I could call friends again. Yet, despite how idyllic my life had become, I couldn’t help but wonder.

    When would the other shoe drop?

    ******

    [X] Respond to Clockblocker.

    Pulling my new cloak around me, I walked stiffly through the hospital’s corridors, a nurse guiding the way for me.

    After I’d messaged Clockblocker back regarding his request, he’d told me about how a friend’s dad was in the hospital with cancer. Inoperable. They’d been told that it was just a matter of time, at this point. So, he’d reached out to me.

    Given all that… Well, I couldn’t just not help out, could I? So I called the hospital. Apparently, they didn’t mind arranging things for me to come in and treat the patient, as long as he consented, but it would be considered volunteer work on my part.

    Well, that was fine. Even if the hospital wouldn’t help foot the bill for treatment, Clockblocker had offered to help pay for it. I wouldn’t charge him much, not for something like this, but a hundred dollars for an afternoon of work still wasn’t bad as pocket change went.

    Opening the door to the patient’s room, I paused as I took in the scene. The man’s son was sitting by his bedside, holding his hand. The two of them were both talking softly, quiet enough that I couldn’t really make out the words.

    It felt like an intensely private moment, something wrong to intrude on. I cleared my throat anyway.

    “Mr. Mitchell? Dennis?”

    “Oh! You must be Legacy.” Dennis practically shot out of his chair. “Thank you so much for agreeing to come. Though – er, don’t take this the wrong way, I thought you had a different costume?”

    I gave a tight smile, not that he could see it through the glamour I’d placed onto the hood of my cloak to cast my face into shadow. “That’s a bit of a complicated subject. Suffice it to say, I decided I needed a new costume. In any case, did the hospital already explain to you how my healing would work?”

    “Not exactly,” Mr. Mitchell answered. “Give us the rundown?”

    “Sure. So, simply put, I can’t just wave a hand and cure cancer. What I can do is sort of like an advanced chemotherapy, where I target and kill the cancerous cells, then heal the damage with healthy cells. On the positive side, I can nearly wipe out any cancer you might have. However, you will still need to follow up with your Oncologist to make sure that you don’t relapse.”

    Father and son shared a look. “That seems fair. It’s a better chance than I have right now, for sure.”

    “Okay. Then first things first: Do I have permission to heal you?”




    Current Energy: 14
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 10

    Tomorrow is Saturday. Choose 2.
    [] Craft or Enchant Something
    -[] Craft What? (Write-In)
    [] Respond to cape healing requests.
    [] Respond to cape modeling and advertisement request.
    [] Respond to warehouse security request.
    [] Respond to AllSeeingEye.
    [] Respond to Uber & Leet.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    -[] Amelia
    -[] Mary
    [] (Write-In)


    Citino wants to activate Monsters Spawn - for 5 Omake Points

    [ ] Citino/Yes
    [ ] Citino/No
     
  24. Threadmarks: Interlude 2.b
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    [X] Monsters Spawn

    Friday, January 7th, 2011
    East Allston, Boston


    Thunder cracked and the building shivered.

    Rey Andino swore as he rushed to mix the chemicals for his latest batch of minions. Another explosion rent the air outside, toppling one of his tables. He was running out of time.

    The Teeth had decided that they wanted him gone and they weren’t giving up.

    The sharp staccato of gunfire rang outside, loud enough to rattle the windows. Honestly, what had he done to deserve this? He kept to his territory, avoided stepping on the Butcher’s toes. He occasionally got into scuffles with Accord’s Ambassador’s, but nothing on this level.

    He pulled the lever on the vat, his latest creation stepping out, it’s pre-programmed instructions to defend him sending it loping outside immediately. Another burst of gunfire followed.

    He was so screwed.

    “Oh dear. You do seem to have gotten yourself into a pickle, haven’t you?”

    Rey jerked around at the voice, a bottle of acid in his hand. A tall man stood there in the shadowed corner of the lab, the lights seeming to not quite reach him. The black robe and red mask marked him as a cape. The man tilted his head and raised his hands.

    “Easy. I’m not here to harm you. I’m here to offer you a deal.”

    “Yeah? Who are you? Who do you work for?”

    “No gang in Boston, if that is your worry, Blasto. I’m not here to tread upon your territory. Rather, my… group would like to trade for your skills. A favor for a favor. I help see to it that the Teeth leave you alone, in exchange for your expertise on a project.”

    “You didn’t answer the question. Who are you?”

    “I go by the name of Halmarut. I dare say, we have much to learn from one another, if you will but give me the opportunity.”

    Rey hesitated. It was suspicious as hell that this asshole had managed to just appear in his lab right as the Teeth were breaking down his door. It stank of a set up. On the other hand, did he really have any choice? “Fine. I can help with a project. I’ll need the details though.”

    “Of course. I don’t think you will find it terribly onerous. First however, allow me to turn my attention to dealing with your unruly guests. May I borrow one of your seeds?”

    Rey stared at the man. No one outside of Blastgerm was supposed to know how his seeds worked. He’d kept it obfuscated on purpose. Who was this? Damn if he wasn’t going to demand answers after this. Pressing his lips together, he silently passed an envelope to the man.

    Ten seeds. Ten plant zygotes with the potential to become nearly anything.

    Usually, he would brute force the evolution of his creations. Create two, kill the less viable, allow the more viable to bud into a new one. Repeat until his new minion was ready. That took time, however, and he’d been sending out increasingly weaker, less viable minions out to simply fill the gaps in the war the Teeth were waging on him.

    Halmarut ignored all of that. The man simply rolled a seed onto his palm and smiled at it.

    “Unlimited creative potential. Your parasite certainly has gifted you with something special, Blasto. Now then… What best to deal with our guests? Ah, I know. A classic.”

    The man in black placed the seed upon the floor, and from it sprouted a first one vine, and then another. They began small, but quickly thickened, growing upon one another as they formed the body, an oversized set of teeth growing out as the head formed. It moved, not on legs, but on tendrils as it exited the door, still growing larger and larger as it went.

    A monster grown in seconds.

    The screaming started a moment later.

    “Who are you?” Rey asked again.

    “No one of consequence,” the man in black replied. “Not to you, at any rate. Of more import is the project that you shall be assisting us with.”

    “Right. The project. What was it that you needed help with, exactly?”

    “The people of this world have known great prosperity. However, with no enemies to direct their attentions upon, the urge for conflict has caused them to look inwards. Your parasites pluck you like strings, costumed shows that serve only disrupt society around you. The Endbringers have helped, somewhat, allowed for a Truce to exist, but they are not… present enough in your lives. Their existence is ever a distant threat. More is needed to unite Man.

    Blood splashed against the window and Rey fought the urge to flinch. Of course he would get the nutjob. “How do I factor into this, exactly?”

    “Why, Mr. Andino, it is quite simple.”

    Rey’s eyes widened. How did this guy know his name? He grabbed for a grenade off of his desk, but the other man was faster, a vine growing to wrap around Rey’s wrist.

    “I need you to make monsters.”
     
    meloa789 and Syphi like this.
  25. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.6
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

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    Vote Here

    Current Energy: 14
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 10




    [X] [Craft] Craft some basic tools to make crafting easier.

    Saturday, January 8th, 2011
    Immaculata Clocktower, Brockton Bay


    I shivered, huddling in my cloak for warmth, as I watched the snow fall outside. Eos had snuck herself inside my shirt, where she curled up against my stomach. I had made a mistake in choosing my hideout.

    The clocktower wasn’t heated.

    Still, it at least kept me out of the wind. My hands trembled as I worked on putting things together. My current set of powers provided me with basic tools on demand, but it wouldn’t last forever. Now that I knew what to look for, I could already feel the energy that sustained it starting to dwindle. I could cycle my aether, the way Eos had taught me, to help mitigate it, but that only went so far.

    I had a limited time to do whatever I wanted with each set of powers. However, if my previous set was any indication, I would still retain something at the end. Knowledge, skills, abilities. Not the whole package, but enough to be useful. And so, I found myself making tools, so that even when my current powerset finished its run, I would still have something to work with.

    It was something of a fascinating experience. My powers had gifted me with the knowledge to make everything entirely by hand, of course, but I wasn’t limited to that. I could feel my magic filling the gaps, helping to shape wood and metal. Something that should probably have taken me days and an actual forge to make, instead took but a few hours.

    A few hours in the freezing cold.

    Why hadn’t I just gone out and bought the tools again? I could have found a freaking hammer in any old hardware store. Oh yeah, because I was broke. I had a hundred dollars to my name and a payment to Immaculata due at the end of the month if I wanted to help keep Dad out of debt. So here I was, crafting a set out of pliers out of a few scraps of metal I’d managed to find.

    Groaning, I leaned back and tucked my hands into my armpits, trying to warm them up a bit. I glanced out the window, watching the school’s campus slowly turn white. We didn’t usually get much snow in Brockton. Something about the ocean currents kept us somewhat temperate, even during the winter. Still, it was a peaceful sight. Even a thin coating of snow wiped away the world and left behind only blank perfection.

    Except… I frowned as I spotted someone trudging through the snow towards the front gate. Was that Amelia? Where was she going?

    No, it wasn’t my concern. I eyed the footsteps she had left in the snow for a moment before finally shaking my head and turning away. Wherever Amelia was off to, it’s not like it was my business.

    Besides, I had work to finish.

    -2 Energy
    +1 Energy (Aetherflow)

    ******

    [X] Spend time with Someone.
    -[X] Mary

    “Honestly, what were you thinking, staying out in the cold all day?”

    I sniffled from under my blanket, fighting against a runny nose. “I had errands to run.”

    “Errands,” Mary sniffed and set a cup of hot chocolate in front of me. “Honestly, Taylor, you need to take better care of yourself. I could have helped if you’d asked.”

    “I didn’t want to impose,” I mumbled.

    “Really, it’s not imposing on me to ask for help if you need it. I mean, I’ve been cooped up all day, I wouldn’t have minded going out with you somewhere.” I glanced away, not sure how to respond. Mary frowned at me for a moment before throwing up her hands. “Whatever. Are you still up for our movie night tonight?”

    I nodded silently and Mary brightened up before spinning to grab her laptop. It eased a bit of the tension in my heart.

    It’s not like I could have asked her for help today, not without compromising my secret identity, but… Well, if I was being honest, even if my errands had been completely mundane, I still probably wouldn’t have asked her to come with me. I was growing more used to having Mary around me at school, but the idea that someone would want to actually hang out with me still felt foreign.

    Mary flopped down onto the bed next to me, propping the laptop up in her lap. “Right, so I’ve got a few options on here. Any preference?”

    “I don’t know. Aleph put out those Lord of the Rings movies a few years back, didn’t they?” Mary stared blankly at me. I stared back at her. Slowly, I asked, “You have heard of them, right?”

    “Y-Yeah! Of course I have! I just… don’t have them on here.”

    Oh god. Mary didn’t know what Lord of the Rings was, did she? Was my roommate an uncultured heathen?

    “Okay. We’re scheduling that for the next movie night. Princess Bride?”

    Nothing. Something in me died.

    “What do you have, then?”

    “Um… Star Wars?” She suggested weakly.

    “The originals?”

    “I guess? It’s Episodes One, Two, and Three.”

    I stayed silent for a long moment, before finally raising a hand to place on Mary’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry. I hadn’t realized that you led such a deprived childhood.”

    “Hey!” Mary protested, “It’s not that bad. I just usually watch Romances when I feel like watching a movie. Or, um…” I raised an eyebrow and she turned pink. “I guess Disney movies too?”

    “Beauty and the Beast?” I asked.

    “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” she replied steadfastly.

    “Acceptable.” At least her favorite wasn’t Little Mermaid, like Emma’s had been.

    “I’m glad you finally approve of my taste in cinema,” Mary said dryly.

    “Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” I said, struggling to keep a straight face. It lasted but a few seconds before the two of us broke down into giggles.

    “Okay, okay. So Disney night, then?”

    “Sounds good to me,” I smiled.

    ******

    The sound of ringing woke me up hours later.

    For a moment, I was disorientated, confused where it was coming from. I shifted, sitting up, feeling Mary slide down from where she had fallen asleep curled up against my side.

    It was my cell phone, I realized.

    Who was calling this late at night? I looked at the caller ID – The number didn’t have a name associated, but I recognized it as the one that the PRT used. Had something happened?

    “Nnn… Taylor?” Mary stirred next to me. “What’s going on?”




    Current Energy: 12
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 13

    Answer the Phone?
    [] Yes
    [] No

    Tomorrow is Sunday. Choose 2.
    [] Craft or Enchant Something
    -[] Craft What? (Write-In)
    [] Respond to cape healing requests.
    [] Respond to cape modeling and advertisement request.
    [] Respond to warehouse security request.
    [] Respond to AllSeeingEye.
    [] Respond to Uber & Leet.
    [] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    -[] Amelia
    -[] Mary (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
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  26. Threadmarks: Suffer 2.7
    Aldsan

    Aldsan (Mysterious Heroine)

    Joined:
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    Current Energy: 12
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 13




    [X] Yes

    Sunday, January 9th, 2011
    Immaculata Dorms, Brockton Bay


    I scrambled to grab my phone off the nightstand and hurriedly answered it. “Hello, just a moment.”

    “Who’s calling at this time of night?” Mary complained next to me.

    “Only one way to find out,” I smiled. “Go ahead and go back to sleep, I’ll take the call to another room.”

    Mary mumbled something in response, clearly halfway there already. I carefully disentangled myself from her and carried the phone out into the hallway. It wasn’t until I had locked myself in the bathroom however, that I allowed myself to answer it again. “Okay. What is this about?”

    “First, can you confirm who I am speaking with?”

    I pinched at the bridge of my nose. I had been given an identification code by the PRT, but trying to remember it having just woken up… “P-12571325. Now can you tell me why you’re calling me at two in the morning?”

    “There’s been an incident in Boston. A number of heroes have been injured and are being transported here for urgent medical treatment. Are you able to assist?”

    My eyebrows shot up. They were bringing people in clear from Boston? The city was relatively close, I suppose, but it was still a good hour’s drive, at least, and that was assuming no traffic. A long way for someone in critical medical condition.

    “I can help, but I don’t have reliable transport at the moment.”

    “We can provide a van for pick up. Please provide a location.”

    “I’ll meet them at the corner of Miller Avenue and Spring Street,” I said, giving a location a good four blocks away. It would be a bit of a walk to get there, but it should hopefully help obscure my location.

    I waited for the acknowledgement before hanging up and sneaking outside. This late, pretty much everyone was asleep, so at least I didn’t need to worry too much about anyone seeing me. Still, I made sure to be as quiet as I could be as I made my way back to the clocktower to grab my costume.

    It was odd being out and about this late at night. The city lay strangely still. A veneer of peace had fallen over it, if only for the moment. Snow still covered the ground, catching and reflecting the moonlight. There was a strange melancholy to it. The ground bright despite the darkness that hung up above.

    For however deep the void, or wide the expanse, there is no shore so distant as to be beyond the reach of light.

    I sighed and brushed a hand through my hair. Now wasn’t the time to be reflecting on something like that. I had a job to do. A duty to uphold.

    The van was already waiting when I arrived. Several troopers were scanning the area and raised their foam sprayers as I approached. I raised my hands and said, “It’s me, Legacy. I’ve been working on a new costume.”

    They relaxed at that, and perhaps more importantly, upon seeing Eos flying alongside me. One nodded in my direction. “Sorry, things are a bit tense at the moment. You ready to get going?”

    Nodding, I hopped in the back. They wasted no time in ferrying me towards the Rig, but no one seemed in the mood to explain what was going on. Everyone sat silent, hands holding tight to their weapons.

    The Rig itself was a hive of activity, despite the late hour. Troopers and staff seemed to be moving everywhere. Even a few heroes, who weren’t from Brockton.

    “What’s going on? What happened exactly?”

    The trooper guiding me through the hallways took a deep breath, his face grim. “Some tinker in Boston apparently went off the deep end. They’re trying to quarantine the city, but we’re afraid that a lot made it through the net. Everyone’s retreated up here for now.”

    “Quarantine the city – What?” They did that for Endbringer attacks sometimes, when the Endbringer had gotten to too many people, created too many Mastered thralls. But for just a single tinker?

    “It’s Nilbog all over again. Monsters covering the streets. It’s all we can do to try and evacuate people right now.” He pushed the door to the infirmary open, revealing bed after bed full of injured people. Some troopers, but heroes as well. Lightning burns. Acid burns. Flesh torn apart by fangs and claws.

    My stomach clenched and I was forced to take a deep breath of my own. It was horrific, but I couldn’t allow myself to hesitate.

    These people were counting on me.

    ******

    Once again, my phone woke me up.

    Groaning, I blinked grainy eyes and stretched out, trying to straighten the kinks that had formed from having fallen asleep in a chair. I’d been at it for a good five hours before deciding that any injuries left could wait for tomorrow. Now, looking at the clock, I was wondering if I should have even bothered. I’d gotten a whole three hours of sleep.

    Raising my phone to my ear, I answered groggily, “Hello?”

    “Taylor? Where are you? I thought you were just taking a call last night, and then you never came back, and you haven’t been answering your phone at all!”

    “Mary? Sorry, it’s been something of a late night.” I bit my lip before continuing, knowing that I would have to lie. “Got an emergency call, my Dad’s in the hospital right now.”

    “Oh God, is everything alright?”

    “Yeah. It was a bit of a scare, but I think everything is going to be fine now.”

    “That’s good. Let me know when you’re back, okay? I was worried that something had happened to you.”

    “Will do, Mary.” I hung up and closed my eyes. It was… strange, having someone actually be worried about me. Sighing, I leveraged myself up out of my chair and stepped out to flag down the nearest PRT Trooper and see if they still needed me.

    It turned out they didn’t, but I did get a short meeting with the Vice-Director, who thanked me for my time and gave me two-thousand dollars for my work. Not a terrible windfall. I could pay for two months of school with this… or do some shopping, get some materials to actually work with.

    I’d have to think it over.

    Regardless, a trooper gave me a ride out and I asked him to drop me off by the Boardwalk. I’d have to take the bus to get back to Immaculata, but I had an errand I’d planned on running.

    I wanted to meet Parian.

    [X] Parian might be interested in some sort of affiliation as two Rogues.
    [X] [Craft] Clothes with a warming enchantment.

    The cloth-controlling cape was one of the only known Rogues in the city, after all. She’d gotten her start doing puppet shows for children on the Boardwalk, but had recently opened her own clothing store. It was a bit overpriced, but cape tourism brought in people who wanted to wear clothes made by a parahuman, regardless of cost.

    The Dollhouse, as she’d called her store, was a surprisingly small, brick building a little ways off of the main Boardwalk. It didn’t even really have proper signage, instead relying on an oversized plush animal outside to draw attention. It honestly didn’t match my expectations for the Rogue, and I found myself a bit hesitant, even as I pushed my way inside.

    The inside proved just as unassuming as the outside had been. Rows of clothes lined a surprisingly small area. Most of the clothes had a flair for the extravagant – fancy dresses, embroidered skirts, shawls, that sort of thing. None of it was the t-shirt and jeans that I tended towards myself. I could spot a pair of doors near the back, that presumably led to dressing rooms, and near a staircase leading up was Parian herself.

    The cape in question dressed a bit like the doll her store was named after. Victorian style dress, full of ruffles and frills. Golden curls spilled out around her mask. She was already turning as I entered, the bell above the door announcing my presence, but she stiffened as she took in my appearance.

    “If you’re with one of the gangs, I already made my stance clear that I’m not joining and you can leave now.”

    “Whoa,” I held my hands up. “I’m not with any of the gangs. My name is Legacy.”

    “The Healer?” Her head tilted as she examined me. “I liked your old costume more.”

    I couldn’t help it. I smacked a palm against my forehead and muttered, “Apparently, I can’t please anyone with my costume design.”

    Parian giggled in response. “You can’t listen to the naysayers too much. What’s important is that you find a style that works for you. The cloak isn’t too bad as a base to work off, I suppose, you just need to add more underneath it. Maybe add a mask though? I’m not sure how you managed the whole shadowed void effect, but it’ll probably unnerve people. That’s fine on a cape like Eidolon, but well, if you’re a healer…”

    I winced. The Eidolon comparison was more true than she realized, but I still wasn’t sure I wanted to come across as… unapproachable as the hero had been rumored to be. “Thanks for the advice, I suppose? I’ll keep it in mind.”

    “Not a problem at all. So, what can I do for Brockton’s latest sensation?”

    “Latest sensation?” I asked skeptically.

    “Of course. PHO is all abuzz, wondering what you’re going to do next.”

    “Great,” I groaned, “Just what I needed. More pressure.”

    “It’s just how being a new cape on the scene goes. They’ll get over it eventually.” Parian paused and then asked, “So?”

    I furrowed my brow. “So what?”

    “So what is the enigmatic Legacy going to do next?”

    I huffed in response, but couldn’t help the smile that crossed my face. “Well, I was actually hoping you would help me with that, Parian. I’ve a few other things that my powers can do besides healing, and I was hoping to, well, partner up with you and perhaps help with the clothing business a bit?”

    “Legacy…” Parian hesitated, her voice troubled, “You seem nice enough, but… We just met, and I’m not sure my business can really support a second cape.”

    “Can I at least show you what I can do?”

    “Okay,” Parian sighed. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. I have some materials in the back that you can work with.”

    Nodding, I followed her back, Eos trailing quietly in our wake. The room she led me to was exactly what I was hoping for. Bolt upon bolt of different colors of fabric, threads, even some bits of leather to work with. My fingers itched to do something with all of it, even as I considered what could possibly impress the cape beside me.

    A dress? It would fit Parian’s sensibilities, but my mind drifted to something more seasonal. A jacket, to help deal with the cold weather? It seemed reasonable enough, and not terribly difficult.

    I found myself with a hide knife in hand, already working the leather by the time my mind had settled on a design. Thread and needle followed, precise stitches, cleverly turned to hide from plain view. Attaching the bits of metal: zippers, buttons, and so on was honestly the hardest part, and even that went simply.

    All the while, Eos whispered into my ear. Weave a bit of fire aether here, ice there. Earth to help smooth the leather. Wind to help guide the thread. It was more complicated than the glamour I had laid over my cloak, but not by much. The end result was smooth, black leather, with a design that put me in mind faintly of a dragon burned into the inner lapel. When had I even added that?

    -4 Energy
    +1 Energy (Aetherflow)

    Shaking my head, I glanced back at Parian, doing my best to get a read on her through her mask. A long moment stretched, both of us silent. Ugh. This had been a mistake. Of course Parian wouldn’t want to work with me.

    Finally, the doll-dressed cape stepped forward. “May I?” she asked.

    I nodded and she took the jacket from me, holding it up as she inspected it.

    “Honestly, you were astounding to watch. I doubt I could have made anything half as quickly as you did, even with my power. Your seamwork is flawless, even if the final design is a bit drab.” She looked back towards me. “Are you some kind of Tinker?”

    “Not exactly. It’s complicated. If you put it on though, it’s designed to regulate temperature to a certain degree. It won’t necessarily protect you from a fire, but it should keep you warm on cold days, and cool on warmer days as well.”

    Parian sighed and handed the jacket back to me. “Look. I can’t do a full partnership. I honestly can’t afford it. What I can do is reserve some shelf space for you and give you a commission for any items you send me that I sell.”

    “That seems… fair?”

    “Good. If there’s enough demand, you might eventually start getting custom orders. I’d recommend working on your style in the meantime though. The jacket doesn’t look bad, per se, but it doesn’t look unusual either. Most people who buy something from a cape want it to stand out in some way.”

    “Any suggestions?” I asked.

    “That’s for you to figure out, I’m afraid. The Legacy brand should stand out from my own. At least, it should if you want to be doing this regularly. In any case, feel free to send your first batch along whenever you get the opportunity.”

    I nodded my assent and shuffled my way back out of the store.

    That… hadn’t been quite so horrible as I expected. Sighing, I shrugged the jacket on under my cloak, letting it warm me up. The snow from yesterday was already starting to melt. I closed my eyes and tilted my head up to simply enjoy the sun for a brief moment.

    Blue skies and only faint traces of clouds. We had been graced with another beautiful day. And yet, I could not shake the premonition that existed over my heart.

    Change was coming.




    Current Energy: 8
    Current Emulation: Crafter - lvl 22

    Tomorrow is Monday. Choose 1.
    [] Craft or Enchant Something
    -[] Craft What? (Write-In)
    [] Respond to cape healing requests.
    [] Respond to cape modeling and advertisement request.
    [] Respond to warehouse security request.
    [] Respond to AllSeeingEye.
    [] Respond to Uber & Leet.
    [] Shadow Stalker patrols around the Docks. Go look for her.
    [] Sere is supposed to be a veteran. Might be worth contacting him?
    [] A bodybuilder… Well, you’ll take what you can get at this point.
    [] There’s two monster capes that were sighted Downtown…
    [] Put an ad for heroic team ups up on PHO. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
    [] Go shopping at the Boardwalk.
    [] Go on patrol.
    -[] Alone
    -[] With Symbiote
    -[] With Victoria
    [] Spend time with Someone.
    -[] Dad (2)
    -[] Eos (1)
    -[] Victoria (1)
    -[] Symbiote (1)
    -[] Amelia
    -[] Mary (1)
    [] (Write-In)
     
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