AN: I'm back. This is at least 25% unbeta'ed since I took a look hiatus when real life decided to kick me around. It continues to do so, but hey, people need hobbies.
Monday and Tuesday I spent alone at home with turmoiled feelings. On one hand, I had time to really go over everything that had happened in the past weeks, as well as figure out more about my powers. These were distractions I lost myself in, because on the other hand, I was alone with my thoughts. No matter how much I threw myself into planning for the future and experimenting, a haunting guilt lurked around every action.
People had died.
I'd taken people from their families, accidentally killed them because I wanted to steal some cash; that didn't even include everyone else who'd been hurt. It had been easy doing things for me and mine, to group the rest of the world as faceless strangers as long as I wasn't the one harming them.
And now it was too easy to ignore what had happened. Why didn't it bother me more? I forced myself to think about every name and death that came on TV.
Five. The number was too large.
And I should be feeling guilty. Feeling something.
Daddy had found me in my room, underneath my covers, red-eyed and sniffling. I couldn't get the words out, couldn't explain to him how disgusting I was. For all his promises of figuring something out, Dad's assurances that it was an accident helped the most, and I tried to believe him. Either way, I'd never been more grateful to have him around when he stayed with me until I finally fell asleep.
Afterwards, he wouldn't let me stay home alone, and that's why I spent most of the next day lounging in his office with some books. At the Dockworkers Association, I was surrounded by people, more than a few of them familiar faces. I couldn't risk practicing my powers, but I wasn't alone here.
Best of all, Dad and I talked. He soberly promised to help me track down the families of everyone I'd hurt through his contacts in the city. Being the head of hiring at what was once the city's major industry meant Dad knew someone everywhere. It sounded like a decent plan at first, but I wasn't sure what I would do when I met them.
I honestly couldn't describe how I reacted, but next Dad hesitantly suggested therapy to help me come to terms with things. A small part of me guiltily took the therapy suggestion as a sign that he was considering using more of the money, but out loud I told him I wouldn't mind.
Less seriously, we snuck in some planning for stuff I might be able to do with my powers in the Docks. Construction, salvaging, demolition... the possibilities seemed endless.
And spending time with Dad's coworkers during the lunch break, joking about the Christmas party, talking about the heroes finally getting rid of the Merchants, it almost felt like I had friends.
The realization had hurt far more than it should. School was finally starting tomorrow.
I should be thankful that I'd been able to put it off for so long. My disastrous chase on Sunday night had end right in the middle of one of Winslow High's residential zones, so even though the other schools were up and running yesterday, we had an extended break. But like my secret cape life, all good things had to come to an end.
I would miss how focusing on my powers let me escape from the constant reminders of how my life had been crashing down around me. Going back to school meant having all of that rubbed in my face again, especially since things were different. I didn't have anything to look forward to, no friends, no favorite teachers… All I did have in my life was me, my Dad, our home, and my powers. I didn't know how I could face pretending like nothing had changed.
The bullies were so… insignificant with what I'd seen and done in the past weeks.
Clenching my fist, I went over my different plans to get the proof I needed. Even if I couldn't get out of that hellhole, I'd take down them down one way or another.
"Taylor, you need to stop worrying," Dad's voice pulled me from the downward spiral, "If things get that bad, just leave. I'll call the school and we can figure something else out." How did he always know what I was thinking about? It constantly reminded me how sharing things with Dad had made life so much easier.
"Yeah I know," I sighed, "It's just tough you know? They're never going to leave me alone, and their so stupid for it. With the things I can do now..." I spun a pen slowly in the air above my palm.
Dad looked up from his desk sharply, "No. Stop that." He walks around and shuts the door, before turning to me and clasping the pen between our hands. "You're better than that."
I snort, "Am I?"
He tightens his grip and I can already hear the words before they come out, "You need to stop being so hard on yourself Taylor. It was an accident."
Sighing again, "You're right Dad, but I'm not sure I can hold myself back any more. Not when I know I don't have to take it"
Dad's pained face reminds me that he has been trying to deal with my life too. I look down, ashamed.
"... Okay, we'll go buy those cameras you wanted for tomorrow," my head whips up in surprise, "but you'll have to promise to be extra extra careful Taylor. I don't want you getting caught, you know wh-"
"Thanks Dad! I promise! They'll never even notice. No one will!" I give him a huge hug as he chuckles.
Even though so many things had changed, I could still count on having Daddy's support.
"Alright, that's everything," I said as we walked toward the register with three 'spy' camera pens and one voice recorder. As much as having my own computer would help, I didn't want to push my luck.
"And you're sure you can use these without breaking them?" His voice dropped, "You know with your", he waved his hands in sweeping gestures.
I giggled at his attempt at subtlety, knowing that he'd been just as fascinated with them as I still was. "Yes, Dad. I've been practicing to keep it contained and… you weren't supposed to know that. Right, still grounded."
I grinned sheepishly as he let out a long sigh, "... Just let me know okay? I'm worried about you."
My good humor left me and I nodded, "Sure… but let's finish this outside," I said, which prompted Dad to begin a poorly concealed look around the store. It rose my spirits a little, and we quickly exited the store with our purchases. Walking toward the bus stop, silence hung in the air.
"Dad" "Taylor" We said at the same time, and I smiled a little.
"Dad, I'm sorry I was practicing without supervision, but I had to make sure nothing like Sunday would ever happen again." And it wouldn't. Concentrating my powers to move only what I wanted, and nothing else, had been rather easy. Unless I wanted to EMP something, there wouldn't be any more accidents.
"... Alright, I forgive you," he said.
"That's it?" I asked surprised, "Nothing about punishments or being grounded longer?"
Dad stopped walking, and turned to me with a soft smile, "I'm not sure what I can do without pushing you away," guilt flooded through me as he continued, "Would you really stop if I asked? Could you?" I knew the answer immediately, and I guessed Dad already did too. No, after everything I'd done, I couldn't. It made me feel horrible.
Warm arms wrapped me into a hug, "I thought so. I'm trusting you to tell me these things, since the best I can hope for is to somehow help keep you safe."
I clung to him tightly, before letting go, "I'm sorry Daddy. I promise. For real this time."
"Thank you," he shouldn't have to be grateful for that, "... though if you still want to be grounded longer…" I lightly shoved him with a laugh.
As we finished walking to the bus stop, Dad frowned and turned to me, "I almost forgot," he paused before shaking his head, "I didn't want to do this so soon… Taylor, I found where a few of the people who died on Sunday lived."
I'd almost forgotten that I was a murderer.
"-but remember it's your choice whether we go or not. I… I don't think we should."
"I have to do this Dad. I have to know," my voice came out flat.
"Alright, if you're sure... but there are some things I think you should know before we go."
Dad and I rode the bus a few stops, before walking the rest of the way. Two of Dad's employees joined us along the way, Max Jenkins and Andrew Dory. Unlike Dad, they were the picture of stereotypical Dockworkers, muscled, tanned, and usually unshaven. I'd seen them a couple times before, but only because they sometimes helped Dad with the paperwork.
"You didn't think we were going to go in by ourselves did you?" Dad asked as we approached, he looked bemused as I flushed slightly. Superpowers made me feel too invincible sometimes. Having the two along was smart, they made a less appealing target compared to just Dad and I.
"Good to see you Danny," Max said, "Shame about this ugly business."
Andrew grumbled, "I don't see why we're bothering, Steve was a piece of-" Max shoved him and gestured toward me, "... I mean he isn't worth the time." It felt weird being treated like a kid again.
"We look after our own Andy, even if they've left us," Dad replied, and it felt surreal watching a grown man react like he was being scolded.
Steven Weiss was a former member of the Dockworkers Association, before leaving a couple months ago. He'd fallen in with one of the gangs, but the union still had his information on record. The news had identified him as one of the disaster's casualties. No other information had been released though, and we were hoping his apartment would give us some clues.
"Still… this isn't the kinda place you want to bring Taylor, Danny," Max cautioned slowly, "It's not the safest part of town right now."
They were of course talking about walking into the area that was unofficially the Merchants' territory less than a week ago. While druggies had never been the most powerful, and most of the time were an ugly footnote, they'd made a real push between the number of desperate users they always attracted and their new strategy with volatile Tinker machines. The Merchants became really newsworthy during their brief surge, and even forced the PRT to warn people away from specific areas.
And now they were gone.
Even while keeping my promise to dad not to go out at night, I didn't miss the subtle rising tension in the city.
"It'll be fine, there's cops and PRT all over the place," Dad said, shaking me out of my thoughts, "Plus, the only other choice was to leave her home alone." The two workers nodded their heads, and we started walking again. Their quick acceptance was another sign of the tense uncertainty enveloping the city in the aftermath of the everything.
I silently tried to sort out how I felt about this visit, but quickly looked for other distractions as my thoughts almost began a downward spiral.
Noticing how Andy and Max had positioned themselves in front and behind us, I focused on my magnetic perception, glancing about for weapons and moving metal. It functioned like any of my other human senses, in that I peripherally knew where things were, but unless I actively 'looked', stuff could still get past me.
Andy broke the silence and gestured toward the area around us, "So what do you guys make of all of this?"
"What're you talking about?" Max replied; Dad and I gave him semi-confused looks.
"You know, the whole blackout thing. The heroes chasing down the Merchants, knocking out all the power, and then paying to fix it all. Seems kinda shady to me. "
Dad glanced at me before he replied, "Well accidents happen, I'm sure they would've avoided it if they could." I cringed inside, but nodded my head in agreement.
"... I'm not so sure…" Max said, and we turned to look at him, "One of my buddies, Danny you know Erin, Erin Foster? Well anyway, she was around when one of those Merchant machines, the ones that could shoot electricity, got into a fight with some of the Empire capes. Said when it missed and hit a streetlight, all the lights flickered on and off."
"Now I'm not saying all this," Max copied Andy's earlier gesture to the buildings around us, "... wasn't an accident, but those machines had some real nasty power behind them."
"You think the Merchants planned to EMP the city anyway?" The words were out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
"EMP? What's that?" Andy asked, confused.
"It stands for electromagnetic pulse," Dad answered, "It's what they're saying knocked out all the power."
Max nodded his head before turning to me, "I don't really think those junkies had that in mind, but from the things I heard, I do think they could have," he shrugged his shoulders, "The Protectorate's got them now, so I guess we'll never know."
"What about the heroes? They're handing out money to everyone, gotta be something they're hiding." Andy insisted. I got the feeling that he didn't really trust the authorities.
"I, for one, am glad that they're taking care of the city. If not them and the PRT then who? Even if it was an accident, someone has to look out for the people." Mildly ashamed, I kept my emotions from my face, but Dad noticed and gave me a quick one-armed hug. The both of the dockworkers had turned to look at him, and smiled.
"You do plenty Danny. One day one of your projects is going to change this place," Max said as Andy nodded along. Dad's face had the smallest tinge of color, and I wrapped an arm around him to return his early hug.
I'll make things right, and then I'll help Dad fix the city.
However, the earlier discussion had taken root in my mind. I'd all but proven to myself that I could've caused the disaster with my magnetic pulses, but was it even more of an accident than I thought? Could the Merchants have been planning something bigger? If not, I'd seen for myself how volatile the Tinker machines could be…
"We're here. Looks like you were right Danny, cops are right at the corner so we're probably okay," Max's voice interrupted my thoughts.
The building we stopped outside of had seen better days, though the same could be said for most of the Docks. And yet through the lens of the recent blackouts, all the run down buildings I'd scouted out before some how looked worse.
Andy fished a slightly wrinkled sticky note from his pocket, "He was staying on the second floor. Room two-oh-two."
As we made our way inside, the first floor seemed deserted. One of the doors had been smashed in, though I couldn't tell how long it'd been that way. We carefully made our way up the stairwell, and heard voices as we ascended.
"… just kick down the door man."
"Shut your face! The cops are outside."
"I can't believe the key he gave me didn't work…"
"Quit whining, you're still getting a share."
A group of shabbily dressed people crowded around a doorway on the second floor; somewhat surprising given the state of the building. A quick scan of the dulled metal numbers nailed onto the door revealed that, of course, it was the room we were looking for.
Dad slowly pushed me behind him as he stepped forward, "Excuse me, gentlemen, miss."
They stopped squabbling and gave dad a collective stink eye.
"He called us gentlemen," the shortest one cackled, which set off the others.
"Shut up," the tallest in their group stepped forward, "Whaddya want?"
At the hostile tone, Max and Andy moved to stand next to Dad while drawing themselves to their full heights. The movement shook me out of my morbid fascination with the group's faces; drugs did horrible things. Even so, I'd already accounted for the two knives and the length of chain hidden amongst the four junkies, and my power lightly prodded the weapons.
When it came down to it though, I worried more about my secret identity rather than our safety.
"Hi my name is Danny Hebert, and I'm here representing the Dockworkers Association. We're looking for Steve's friends or family? Steven Weiss?" I knew the people Dad worked with respected him, and seeing Max and Andy defer to him as our spokesman only reinforced that.
In contrast, the other group spent a moment scuffling and exchanging harsh whispers before their self-proclaimed leader, the tallest junkie, replied, "That's us, what's it to you?"
"Well Steve used to be a member, and after hearing about his passing, we wanted to make sure he didn't leave behind anyone who depended on him. You're his only friends? No family?"
The only female in the group spoke in a rasping, whining voice, "I was his girlfriend, does that mean I get anything?"
I'm not sure how Dad kept his composure, but I could see the two dockworkers frowning as they squared themselves up, "Well this was more of an informal thing, we don't actually have any money right now…"
"Then you can get going," the tall druggie said, "Steve ain't got anyone else. Just us and this apartment."
My curiosity got the better of me, and I peered into the closed room with my power. From the metal frames in the wall, I guessed that the apartment barely outsized the living room back at home. Scattered cans, plumbing pipes, some cutlery, and… needles. Four syringes rested at about table height. I could guess what Steve's 'friends' were hear for.
Before my Dad could say anything else, Max gently, but firmly, herded us toward the stairs "Come on Danny, this is a waste of time."
"What did you call us!?" The pudgy addict, who'd stood quietly in the back of the other group, shouted after us, "You think we're a waste?"
Dad turned and raised his hands in a placating gesture, "Calm down, we weren't-"
"You don't tell me to calm down. Just because we lost our capes doesn't mean the Merchants are dead," the thug began storming toward us, and a flash of fear for my dad jolted through me before I reached out with my powers.
"I'll show you snobby fu-" the druggie abruptly fell to the floor as he tripped over the pants around his ankles, his belt and zipper coming apart mid-walk. We quickly left him to his struggles as his friends howled in laughter. Dad's firm hand on my shoulder stopping my sense of satisfaction. He had a frown on his face, but I wouldn't feel ashamed at protecting him.
We had just exited the building when a shout rang out from above, "Steve was one of us!" I turned to look up, and the crazed face of the fat junkie smiled meanly as he leaned out of a window, "The fucker shot up like everyone else. Didn't even stop when the lights blew out and OD'd in the dark."
I heard the rest of the addicts jeering from inside. These were the kind of people I was worried about? Disgust and anger surged through me and I couldn't resist. The window latches slipped and the glass pane slammed onto the man's head. Max and Andy had grim smiles as they watched the junkie throw squeal and throw a tantrum, but Dad's eyes were on me.
I couldn't really identify the look on his face as I met his eyes, so I shrugged uncomfortably. The patrol car at the street corner slowly pulled up, attracted by the commotion.
The officer in the driver's seat rolled down his window, "Everything alright here?"
Dad stepped forward to reply, "We're okay officers, but a group of thugs just tried to harass us upstairs."
The policeman in the passenger's seat let out a barely audible, "Again?" before the driver sighed and nodded, "Were they wearing gang colors? Did you see any weapons?"
"I think they might've had some knives," I said as walked up next to Dad, "No gang colors, but one of them said something about the Merchants."
My answer seemed to energize the cops as they, "The Merchants? We'll have to call this in. You folks should head back to a safer part of town."
"Will do officers. Good luck!" Dad replied hurriedly before I could ask any more questions. Andy seemed a bit put out that he didn't get a chance to talk, though Max was still watching the building. I guess the police wanted to finish off one of the city's gangs while they had the chance. We didn't have a problem leaving though; none of us really wanted to stick around anyway.
Max and Andy left Dad and I at the bus stop, but only after repeated assurances that we weren't going anywhere else unsafe. A heavy silence settled in the air as Dad and I waited for the bus.
He broke the silence first, "Taylor… I'm sorry you had to hear all of that."
I turned toward him, confused.
He let out a heavy sigh and then spoke, "I know you're feeling guilty, and that tells me that your mother and I raised a wonderful and caring young woman," I flushed at the praise, but he continued with a sad smile, "That's why I went along with taking you to see one of your 'victims'."
The silence returned, but the atmosphere felt different.
"...Dad?" I ventured.
He stared across the street, not really looking at anything, and his next words sounded thick with emotion, "It's depressing that I can't hide you from the world any more… but I guess I haven't been able to do that in a long time."
Before I could say anything, he turned to me and wrapped me in a hug, "I don't want you getting hurt, but I don't know what to do."
"I'll be okay Dad," his shoulder muffled my voice, "It's better this way."
He pulled back and kept his hands on my shoulders as he stared at me intently. Something in my expression must've eased his mind and the moment was over.
"Alright," Dad said before visibly composing himself, "Now, the next victims are from a car crash. One of the drivers was really drunk and I think it was more his fault than anything, but I have Kurt looking up their addresses back at the office just in case."
A car crash… like Mom…
He paused again and looked at me with a soft smile. I tried to give him a reassuring one back, and got another tight hug in return.
"...That just leaves Mr. Peterson. Taylor… I want you to know that all of this was an accident. You really can't blame yourself." Everything about this conversation felt unreal. I nodded my head, not really trusting my voice.
Luckily, the next bus arrived, and Dad guided me inside.
"Well… let's get going then."
By all accounts, Morgan Peterson was a good man. He got around as well as any eighty year old man could, and apparently always had a kind word for anyone and everyone in the building.
He died alone in his apartment when his pacemaker shorted out.
Dad and I stood out as we looked at the small memorial Mr. Peterson's neighbors had erected outside his apartment door. Numbly staring at the smiling picture, I sat down heavily on the floor. Dad joined me a moment later without a word.
Judging by the flowers and messages arranged around his door, this stranger couldn't be more different than the junkie we tried to visit earlier. Unbidden, tears rose in my eyes. A detached part of me felt relieved I was actually feeling sad.
As Dad wrapped an arm around me, a voice broke through the silence, "I don't mean to intrude... but I've never seen you two before. I didn't know Morgan had any family left."
A mid-aged Hispanic woman, with dark eyes and dark hair had stepped out of the neighboring apartment. Dad quickly stood and answered, "Hi, my name's Danny Hebert and this is Taylor. We're not actually related to the late Mr. Peterson, my daughter's doing a school project on the blackouts. We're visiting the some of the victims in the area."
From the floor, I looked at Dad in slight shock at the quick lie.
"I see…" the woman replied, a tad of doubt in her voice as she watched me dry my tears, "Well, Morgan Peterson was a good man. He didn't deserve what happened..." a sad smile crossed her face, "He was around when Brockton was 'a real villain hellhole' as he used to call it. Always liked to joke that if he lived through those times, a few Nazis wouldn't scare him..."
As her voice drifted off, Dad spoke, "You sound like you knew him pretty well Ms…"
"Oh I'm sorry. Medina, Ashley Medina. Everythings been such a mess lately," the newly named Ms. Medina flushed a bit, but as I wiped my eyes and looked closer, she seemed more tired than anything. "And I did know him well, he used to come over and watch Trevor whenever I had to work late..."
The sadness only compounded how exhausted she looked, and I felt another wave of guilt swell up inside of me.
She shook herself out of her thoughts, glanced down at me, and then at Dad, "You'll have to forgive me if I don't invite you in, but things aren't so great right now. Trevor's been holed up in his room ever since... "
I let out a slightly hiccupped sob, but Dad covered for me. "Ah. it's not problem, we understand. Taylor and I wouldn't want to intrude, but it was nice meeting you."
He helped me to my feet, and I took the moment to scan the inside of Mr. Peterson's apartment; one last look to see if there was anything that could tell me something about the man I'd killed. In the end, I could only tell that all his appliances were still around, but that was a positive sign in a poorer part of town: people respected him enough to either leave his things alone, or protect them from possible looters.
Dad helped me to my feet and I mumbled a quick goodbye to Ms. Medina. As we headed for the stairwell, I glanced inside her apartment from a sense of habit.
The layout mirrored what I saw inside Mr. Peterson's place, similar appliances too. They had a partially disassembled… toaster on the dining room table, but I guessed it was just broken. I looked further inside for a moment, before I stopped myself.
'What am I doing?'
Even if I wanted to check up on Medina's, I'd seen enough to know they were doing okay; any more would really invade their privacy. I flushed a bit with guilt and rubbed my face.
And then, someone wheeled into the living room wearing rollerblades with what looked like rockets attached. High-tech rockets.
"Come on Taylor. We should head home, it's getting dark," Dad gently pulled me by the arm. In my shock, I didn't even notice that I'd stopped. We walked down the rest of the way in silence.
"It's going to be alright kiddo," Dad said as we exited the building, "I'm not sure if there's anything else we can do, but let me know if you want to try something…" He pulled me close with another one-armed hug, "You know I'm here for you."
I nodded numbly into his shoulder.
The wind brushed my face as I floated through the clear night sky toward my destination. Even with my promises to Dad, I couldn't bring him into this. Not yet anyway. I had to know if this was my fault first.
Ms. Medina said things hadn't been going well since the accident, and from what I saw, there was definitely a cape in the residence. It didn't take a genius to put the two together: I blacked out the city and suddenly a new parahuman. I cringed at the thought that maybe I caused something like the Locker for someone else. Maybe even more than one person.
Still, I held out hope that maybe it wasn't me. I didn't remember seeing anyone with rocket skates whenever I went out, but Brockton Bay had more than its fair share of unknown capes.
Dressed in the black costume I'd liberated from my basement, I glided to a stop on top of the Medina's apartment building. I didn't really have a plan, everything I'd read online before said you did not approach a cape outside of his or her costume. Bad things tend to happen. So knocking on the door or tapping on the window were both definitely out. I checked the time on my disposable phone, 1:00 AM shone back at me.
Dad surprised me by letting me keep the phone for 'emergencies', and I'd surprised myself when I realized how little having the mobile phone bothered me. I guessed that with everything, I forgot Mom was using one when she died. A sad smile crossed my face, I maybe I was finally moving on.
Movement from below pulled me away from those thoughts. I floated to the edge of the roof and peered down as one of the windows to the Medina's apartment opened, and someone wearing the same rocket-rollerblades swung their legs out. I guessed it was Ms. Medina's son Trevor, but I didn't know for sure until now. Then he dropped. In my shock, I almost forgot about my powers, but before I could do anything, the rockets ignited with a sputtering groan and slowed his fall. Trevor still crashed into the open dumpster below. I laughed quietly as he cursed while climbing out. He pulled himself out of the trash and looked around, then he rolled into the street and quietly skated away. I kept low to the roofs and followed after him.
Even if it weren't the middle of the night, Trevor couldn't really have passed for a normal kid out on the road. Besides the basic bike helmet and an old backpack, he also wore dark goggles and a complete set of safety gear: shin guards, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and what looked like an old set of football pads. He wasn't fooling anyone, so I didn't understand what he kept from using his rockets to get around. After a rather slow and boring trip, the city still too quiet after my… accident, Trevor finally arrived at the old Trainyard. Back when the Brockton still had a thriving shipping business, the trainyard had also seen better days.
I landed on a nearby boxcar, and settled in to watch. Trevor pulled out a notepad and a screwdriver, and fiddled around with the rockets on his rollerblades. I took the moment to study them with my powers. Definitely Tinkertech, and better looking than Squealer's work, though that wasn't saying much from what I'd seen, and completely beyond me. A few moments later, he set his backpack aside and braced himself. A few sparks shot out of one rocket, and nothing from the other. I felt embarrassed. Trevor cursed, and fiddled with them again. Meanwhile, I thought about how I was going to approach him. I doubt he'd appreciate how I'd invaded his privacy, and I didn't want to tell him all about myself… but maybe if I kept it as a meeting between capes? Plus, did I really need to know if it was my fault? He seemed alright...
The loud roar of the rockets igniting and Trevor's loud whooping jerked me from my thoughts, and I looked to see him zoom down the road in a blur. He rolled faster than I'd even dared to fly; maybe even faster than I could safely go at the moment. Trevor swung around after having gone to the edge of my sight in what seemed like an instant. He came pelting back at his insane speed, and barely slowed to a stop next to where he started. Definitely faster than me. The young Tinker sat down, pulled more tools out of his backpack, and started making adjustment to his rockets.
As I prepared to introduce myself, having decided to just wing it, people started filtering out of the surrounding boxcars. They dressed exactly like the group that'd confronted Dad and I earlier today. Merchants. I couldn't mistake them after spending so many days planning to rob their leaders. Armsmaster's TV announcement about them was clearly wrong.
Then what I thought was an old locomotive seemingly unfolded itself, and quick look confirmed what my powers told me. The machine spouted black smoke and steam, each step forward echoing with clanks and hisses. The highest pieces poked over my head even as I crouched on a boxcar. I distinctly remembered how a smaller suit of power armor had not only held off members of the local Protectorate, but also allowed for escape. All the Parahumans Online rumors and speculation about the past and potential uses of his power had come true. I wasn't looking at something cobbled together for an ambush and getaway; this was a warmachine that embodied how a villain earned his cape name.
If the Merchants' resurgence lead by one of their capes stunned me, Trevor was a deer in headlights. At least he had his dark goggles on to hide his face. I watched as he shoved together the exposed innards of his rockets, and whipped his head around looking for an escape. The crowd of regular gangsters had surrounded him.
An echoing, metallic baritone silenced the jeers and murmurings of the crowd. "Lonely Tinkers should know better where they look for parts," the machine swiveled from side to side as it looked at its audience. Then it boomed aloud, "Especially in Merchant territory!" Cheers erupted from the druggie thugs, drowning any reply Trevor might've given.
Hopefully will be able to get back on track a little with this. We'll see ;)