Summary: Instead of getting the power to control insects, Taylor receives a different power. A power seen before in A Certain Scientific Railgun.
Disclaimer: I don't own Worm or A Certain Scientific Railgun. Both belong to their creators. I am merely using them in my own sandbox.
AN: In my story, I have given Taylor the same powers as Mikoto Misaka of A Certain Scientific Railgun with certain small changes. I extrapolated small changes and additions to her powers based both on what I saw on the show and what she should be able to do. Some abilities have not expressed themselves yet, but will emerge in the future.
Arc 1: Loading—1.01
I skipped out of class as soon as the bell rung, searching for a place of safety to eat lunch. An hour was far too long to have for lunch in my personal opinion. I slipped into the girls' bathroom, hoping for sanctuary. Finding it unoccupied, I slipped into a stall, locking the door behind me. I glanced up uneasily as the lights flickered, then sighed when it went back to normal. I quickly sat on the back of the toilet, my feet on the seat so no one would be able to easily find me.
Just like that, a sense of relief filled me. I was safe for now. Unwrapping the sandwich I brought for lunch, I ate it and an apple in quick, sharp bites, as I read the book I'd brought for company. Sadly, books were the only company I'd had for the past year and a half since starting high school.
It had all started right before my freshman year. Looking forward to seeing my best friend since first grade, Emma Barnes, for the first time in two months, having been off at Summer Camp, I had been shocked and hurt when she'd rejected me. Emma had claimed to have a new friend, Sophia Hess, an attractive and athletic African-American girl. And she wanted nothing to do with me anymore. It had made my chest hurt as little stabbing pains seemed to suffuse my heart.
Even Emma's rejection hadn't prepared me for the endless bullying that began with school. There their twosome had been joined by Madison Clements, a sweet-looking girl who always wore a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth expression. Since Sophia was a member of the track team, and my former best friend, Emma, a budding model, they appeared to those in authority an unlikely group to bully others. And were believed every time I tried to tell a teacher or the principal. Of course, reporting it only made it worse.
And it did get worse constantly. At first, it was just words. Talking about how stupid I was. How weak. How worthless. From there, it had slowly escalated to pushing me around, knocking my books out of my arms, constantly bumping into me in the halls. Then I had started finding things in my seat or occasionally dumped on me, orange juice, soda, or glue. All of these slights had hurt, but it was only the tip of the iceberg.
Then they'd started breaking into my locker and stealing and vandalizing my things. Homework assignments would go missing or be covered in soda or juice stains. My books had needed to be replaced twice, something my dad and I couldn't afford. Then, my mother's flute went missing from my locker.
I had brought it to school for a show and tell presentation. It was the most important thing I had left from my mother who had died six months before I started high school. When it disappeared, I was devastated and almost begged Emma for it back. But I had seen the look in her eyes before I asked. She had clearly wanted and expected me to plead with her to get it back and probably planned to mock me because of it. But that was one thing I wouldn't lower my pride to do.
So I had gone home and there, in privacy, allowed the tears of loss to flow. For lost memories and friends. And I retreated further into myself, trying to hide in dull colors and drab clothing.
Not that I was much to look at anyway. I wore glasses and was average in looks with my thin face, wide mouth, and large brown eyes. I was far too skinny and so lacking of a bosom that I could be mistaken for someone years younger. If I ever achieved a B cup I would consider it a personal triumph.
The one vanity I had was my long dark hair that hung in curls more than halfway down my back. It was the one thing that made me look like a girl. I remembered past-Emma telling me how pretty my hair was, back before, when we were friends.
My thoughts returned to the bullying. Yes, it got worse. A lot worse. Horrifically worse. But first, it had seemed to finally start to taper off. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas break of my sophomore year, almost a year and a half after it began. Sophia, Emma, and Madison had seemingly grown bored with me. Still insulting to my face, it seemed they could no longer be bothered to go out of their way to pursue me, as if hurting me wasn't interesting enough. I'd felt almost a feeling of victory as if I had outlasted them. Boy was I wrong. My thoughts drifted to the events of just over a week ago.
It happened on the Monday after school resumed following Christmas break. It was the end of the day and I wanted to get home. I was running late because I had to make up an assignment that I 'lost.' I was heading to my locker. Opening it, I was assaulted by the foulest smell of my entire life as I saw it filled with used, rotting tampons and dirty toilet paper.
My stomach heaved and I bent over to vomit into my locker. I was just started to come upright when someone grabbed my hair, slammed my head into the edge of the locker hard enough to make me see stars, then forced me inside, shutting it behind me.
Vision denied me by the darkness, all I could do was smell the filth that surrounded me. I frantically banged on the inside of the locker trying to get someone, anyone, to let me out. Frantically, I begged for help.
"Please! Let me out! Oh God, someone help me! Let me out! Please!"
The only response I got was laughter that I recognized from a hundred cruel pranks. Crying, I continued begging until what felt like hours passed. Finally all sounds outside ceased and I knew I was alone.
So much time passed and I was still there. At first I raged against my fate and cursed all of the teachers who wouldn't help me as well as the bullies themselves. I cursed an uncaring administration who preached zero tolerance, but required absolute proof before acting.
I could feel myself getting more and more thirsty. My stomach rumbled and ached as well. While intellectually, I knew that I could go weeks without food and days without water, I was anything but calm and logical as I stood there, cramped and hunched over in the dark, frightened and hurting.
Periodically, I would dry heave, which hurt so bad as only stomach acid would come up. It was the rotted smell. A smell that only grew worse. Of course the worse it grew, the sicker and more nauseated I felt.
I lost track of time, hurting as cramps racked my body from my hunched posture. At some point I started to give up, thinking that I would rather be dead than hurt this much. That's when I felt it.
.:Something impossibly vast and incomprehensible:.
.:Enormous, sinuous bodies hurtling through space, moving in an eerie ballet past worlds and suns:.
.:Millions, trillions, of seeds expanding forth in a cloud across dimensions and worlds:.
It was too much to hold onto, and then it was gone, like something that I almost remembered; a dream from the night before.
But I could feel something else. A strange humming seemed to fill me. It sounded in my head until every one of my senses was drowned out by it. It, too, was enormously vast, but I could almost understand it. If only...
Then it seemed to vanish, or rather, diminished to almost seem so. And I could feel the locker around me, the six metal walls surrounding me. The lock that imprisoned me. And I reached out and...
With a click, it opened. I barely remembered stumbling out. After that, I lost track of things. Later I was told almost a whole day had passed and I'd stumbled out into heavy morning traffic and was almost hit by a car. I ended up stopping commuter traffic on a busy thoroughfare and causing dozens of collisions. An ambulance for me, among others, was called as I was completely hysterical and unable to answer questions. Then I apparently blacked out.
My next memory was three days later. I awoke to find my dad, Danny Hebert, there. He looked tired and drawn, as if he hadn't slept for days. Between sips of water and heartfelt hugs of thankfulness, he explained how worried he'd been when I didn't come home from school. How he'd reported me missing to the police, then gone hunting for me, talking to anyone who might know where I was.
My dad had talked to Emma and her father early on. Emma had told him she had no idea where I could be. That had gone on for the rest of the day before he got the call the next morning that I had been found in the middle of a huge accident and taken to the hospital.
Apparently, all hell had broken loose when the police had investigated the accident. There had been more than a dozen officers on the scene because of the damage done, the injuries suffered, and way traffic had backed up. The accident had caused thousands to be late for work. Investigating officers traced me back to the school by the trail of medical waste I left behind me and found my locker.
From there, it snowballed. A slow news day made this the big story of the evening and multiple news crews ended up doing stories on the incident. And follow up stories as the investigation continued. Then information of the true events of what happened leaked out. Apparently, students who couldn't be bothered to help me still wanted their fifteen minutes of fame as they talked to reporters on camera. And when they spilled to reporters their version of events, the police were quick to follow up.
As more and more students turned on my trio of tormentors, the police made them the center of the investigation. By the time I finally got out of the hospital on Friday, having to actually dodge reporters, two of my three tormentors had been arrested. The exception was Sophia Hess, who had disappeared from everyone's radar.
Dad told me that he had been approached by the school district with an offer to settle out of court for a small cash sum and my hospital bills paid. Not a fool, he had immediately consulted an attorney, who had squeezed them for a much larger sum. He had been able to at least in part because I had kept such detailed notes of the bullying, including any witnesses around, especially if those were teachers. It had created a pattern of behavior that made bullying acceptable, lawyer speak for 'you're going to pay through the nose.'
After getting out of the hospital Friday morning, I had time to think about what had happened to me. And I remembered the locker unlocking and opening. I knew, deep down inside of me, that I had made it happen. But I needed proof. So after my dad finally went back to work that afternoon, I went down into the basement looking for it.
I didn't know how I had done what I did, but I knew it had something to do with metal. At least I thought so. So I grabbed a couple of the most smallest things in there made of metal, a small half inch long screw and its accompanying washer. I set them on a worker bench, staring intently at them, and tried to move them.
Of course, nothing happened. I stared at them for most of an hour and tried to move them. Concentrating. Focusing so intently a headache stirred behind my eyes. I put so much effort into it and gained absolutely no sign of any kind of ability.
Blinking back tears of frustration, I kept trying. I knew I was special. I knew it! Sadly, the evidence did not support my assumptions.
Think, Taylor, I told myself. Put yourself back in the mindset of that day and do it again. Easier said than done. I had had nightmares almost every night because of the events of that day. Nightmares of being back in that darkness, horrific sensations bombarding my senses. It made me more than a little reluctant to revisit those memories.
Then I had an idea. I closed my eyes as I acted on it. Instead of focusing on the memories of the locker, I thought about the humming sound. I focused on how it had filled me. How it had overridden all of my other senses. How I had been able to...
I felt them. The metal screw and washer. And with just a little effort, I moved them, sending them skittering across the the worktable. Opening my eyes, I felt a sense of triumph. I was right. I was special. I had superhuman abilities. And I was going to be a superhero.
That brought me back to the present. It was Monday. It had been a week since the the locker and I was back in school. Fortunately, my tormentors were not. Emma Barnes and Madison Clements were on suspension while the police finished their investigation. I heard that they had both been charged, then released to their parents custody. A detective investigating the case said that the likely scenario was that they would get a year's probation and a couple hundred hours of community service for their part in my assault.
The best part was that neither would be returning to Winslow High. Emma's father had already enrolled her in a private Catholic school, Immaculata, while Madison's mom had pulled her out to home school her for at least the remainder of the year.
Of course, I had yet to mention Sophia Hess' fate. It turned out that Sophia was already on probation for something and had been sent off to juvenile detention. The officer had been vague about the exact circumstances, but had told my dad that much. Dad, in turn, had told me. So, all three of my tormentors routed, someone might wonder why I'm hiding in the bathroom.
It was the students. The ones who came up to me on a constant basis and told me that they had always been behind me. Had always supported me, but had been afraid to come forward. I found the hypocrisy stifling. And all the while, they stared at me, as if expecting me to flip out. As if I was a sideshow freak there for their entertainment.
Despite the thick skin I'd grown under the tutelage of Emma, Sophia, and Madison, I kept getting angrier and angrier by the minute as I was watched and talked about endlessly. I had a pressure in my head that was fueling a constant headache. It was all I could do not to go all Carrie on them all. Hence the hiding in the bathroom.
Finally, though, lunch was over. And I had to face things once more.
Walking toward Mr Rockwell's biology class, I could feel eyes on me. Still, I had almost made it to the door when Greg came up to talk to me.
"Hey, Taylor! How's it going?"
"Just fine, Greg." After a second, when he didn't go away, I asked, "Did you want something?"
It was just what I needed, I thought, Greg and his stream of consciousness speech. The boy in question scuffed his foot, then gave me a grin.
Greg Veder, one of my classmates, and the one least likely to understand any form of polite deflection, had been difficult to deal with of late. I wasn't sure when he'd gotten the idea that he liked me, but it was there, it was persistent, and it was driving me crazy.
In a lot of ways, Greg was a smart guy, but he simply had no filter between his mouth and his brain. He said whatever came into his mind, no matter how much trouble it caused him or others.
He nodded jerkily. "Yeah. I... uh... wanted to see if you wanted to hang out. After school."
I shook my head. "No, Greg, I don't. I'm busy this afternoon."
The surrounding eyes, still ever present, were now intently focused upon the two of us and our little social interaction. If Emma and the others had still been here, I would have heard about this for the next month. Of course, if my bullies were still around, it was unlikely that even Greg would have risked their wrath by talking to me. It was just another example of the hypocrisy displayed by my classmates.
I walked away from Greg, not waiting for him to reply. I didn't like hurting his feelings, but he made it incredibly hard not to when he was oblivious to more subtle hints. Refusing to feel bad, I went into class.
School was over. I was able to get home and continue my experiments on my new abilities for day four of my training.
Setting my stuff on the counter, I hurried downstairs to work on my ability. I needed to get done before Dad got home at six. The last thing I wanted was for him to find out that I was a cape, a Parahuman with a scary power to manipulate magnetism. Neither of us needed the strain that would cause in our relationship.
I had progressed since that first day of screws and washers. The last couple of days, I'd moved a few slightly bigger things like a screwdriver and pliers. Today, I was going to try moving around tools like a shovel, a saw, and a crowbar. Even the old cast iron weights that my dad hadn't used in years that were piled under a bench at the back of the basement.
I prepared myself, centering my mind, after first setting out all of the various items onto the worktable. There was a strange feel to doing all of this. It was less as if I were training a new skill and more as if I was relearning something that I had forgotten or allowed to fall into disuse, only to begin again. I shivered slightly at the lingering familiarity of it all.
Carefully, I extended my field of magnetism over to the metal of the shovel. It stirred, but didn't really move. Then I pushed myself just a little harder, then harder still.
With a lurch, the shovel moved exactly as I had wanted it to, lifting up and heading across the table. At the same time, there was a snap and crackle as a huge spark leaped from the shovel to the table.
What the hell was that?
Dropping the shovel with a clang, it bounced off the handsaw, then settled to the top of the table. Carefully, I poked it.
Nothing happened. Okay, I needed to try to figure this out. I repeated my action, lifting the shovel a second time, feeling the drag of the wood's additional weight. I saw again a fat spark leap outward from the metal of the shovel's blade, then another.
With some trepidation, I reached out to the sparks, feeling them touching me almost like a caress. But other than that, they had no real effect. Okay, that was cool. Briefly, I wondered if the same effect would apply to regular electricity or if it would still shock me?
I did the same thing with the handsaw and also with the crowbar. Each lifted the same way, snapping sounds of electrical discharge happening with each flex of my will directing my power.
As I prepared to move the next item, a twenty kilogram weight, I felt the now familiar crackling of electricity over my skin. With a snap and crackle, electricity arced from my hand to the weight. I moved the weight several feet away, then back, being a little more precise each time I did so. Yes, it was exactly as if I were relearning a lost skill. In some ways it scared me, while in others, it was reassuring, as there appeared less chance I'd make a mistake and hurt someone.
When I had first used my ability, I had thought it was some type of magnetic one. Or possible a ferric one, able to move or work with metals. I hadn't been completely wrong, but I had been a little incomplete in my diagnosis. It looked like it was turning out that my abilities were based around some form of electromagnetism, using magnetic fields to manipulate electricity and ferric metals.
It appeared that the larger the item I tried to move, the greater the discharge of electricity. Was it some form of static electricity, or something more? I resolved to read up on magnetism and its relationship with electricity over the next few days and see what I could discover.
Since I still felt good, I decided to push myself just a little harder today than I had been doing. I reached out toward a second weight and lifted it as well. Then I added a third. Oddly, as I added more weight, it seemed as if things got easier, rather than harder.
I tried several different combinations of the weights, until finally I was moving them all at once, arcs of electrical energy leaping about as it bled off the magnetic fields connecting me to them. It was surprisingly easy, although for the first time a sense of nonphysical fatigue set in. I allowed them settle back in place and moved to the next test of my abilities once I'd taken a few minute to recover.
The electricity that had come off the metallic items I'd been moving hadn't harmed me in any way. Instead, it had felt almost good as it caressed my skin. So if that were true, how about electricity straight from the source?
I walked over and grabbed an old lamp. I unscrewed the bulb, then plugged it in. I reached for the socket, then froze.
I couldn't do it. Come on, Taylor, I told myself. You can do this.
But I apparently couldn't. I was freezing up as if I were facing the open door of a plane from which I was supposed to parachute.
I told myself that this couldn't hurt me. But the truth is, I didn't know that. Despite my earlier resistance towards the sparks, touching raw current could still hurt me badly.
On the other hand, even if it froze me in place, my legs would likely collapse out from under me, unable to carry my weight. So I wouldn't be that hurt. Oh the lies we tell ourselves.
In the end, it took a leap of faith for me to stick my finger into the light socket. When I did, it was not what I expected at all. I could feel the electrical current flowing through my body, filling me in some strange and wonderful way as it somehow became waves of magnetism deep inside of me. At the same time, fatigue in my muscles cleared away. I felt wonderful.
What the hell was happening, I wondered? Was I acting akin to some kind of adapter, converting one form of energy to another? Or was this a lot more complex than I'd thought? Only with reluctance did I pull my finger out from the socket, the feeling of near euphoria vanishing.
I still felt stronger and with a sense of well being, all vestiges of fatigue still gone. Of course, I still had to eat, as a rumbling stomach reminded me to grab a snack as soon as I finished. So I couldn't just live on electricity and magnetism alone. Not that I'd want to, thinking about my favorite dish, lasagna.
Of course that also made me think about my recent craving for salt. Since getting out of the hospital, food had been tasting more and more bland. The last couple of nights, I'd been trying a bunch of things to make my food taste better. Right now, salt seemed the best solution by a rather large margin.
I was looking forward to eating more salt again with food tonight. Or rather food with salt, I thought, amused by my little Freudian slip.
Which reminded me that it was time to break off and start dinner. I hurried upstairs to get things ready by the time Dad got home.
Danny walked into the house, tired from a long day. It had been a little frustrating, and he hadn't been able to bring in any contracts for work. Plus the damn Merchants were still being a pain in the butt, junkies and addicts trying to come into the office to nominally use the restroom, but once there, making themselves a nuisance.
He kicked his shoes off after he walked in. Almost immediately, he saw Taylor busily working on dinner. Then he did a double-take, an involuntary smile creasing his lips.
"Hey, Dad. How was work?"
"Good. How was your day?"
Taylor smiled as she started putting food on two plates. "It was pretty boring actually. Which is good as boring means I didn't have to worry about bullying."
Danny felt his smile grow. "Anything unusual happen?"
Puzzled, she said, "No. Why?"
Danny started chuckling, then those chuckles turned into full-fledged laughter. As the puzzled look on his daughter's face deepened, he just pointed. After a second, vague comprehension came across her face. Taylor reached up and touched her hair, which was standing out from her head in a hairstyle that was almost reminiscent of an afro. Suddenly, there was a look of complete horror on her face as she ran out of the room, heading upstairs.
Danny shook his head, still chuckling. "Kids."
Since the horror of the giant afro, I had been a lot more careful when I touched electricity. It turned out that I could remove the charge from my body that caused my hair to stand out from my head, I just had to concentrate. I could also seemingly turn electricity to magnetism, and magnetism back to electricity. Or rather, use magnetism to to excite electron flow, creating electricity, or taking electricity and creating a magnetic field with it. The ability to manipulate the relationship between magnetism and electron flow seemed an utterly natural one to me.
Today was day six of my training and I had a couple of new ideas for things to try. So after I was done stretching my abilities by moving around metal items, I pulled out a piece of old gear that Dad kept around, a voltmeter.
Aiming at the voltmeter, which sat upon a heavy wooden worktable, I hit it with a blast of electricity, using my magnetism to force electron flow. I used an ever increasing series of blasts, checking the readings between each. I appeared to be able to easily reach the maximum reading of the meter. Unfortunately, it maxed out at only forty kilovolts. I suspected that I could hit a number several times that. Much more if I were fed additional current or let my magnetic fields build up for a while.
Being a living taser was a good ability to have for a superhero. Not only a great nonlethal ability, but it would take people down quickly, and in great numbers. And I didn't even have to touch them to do so as the electricity arced out the way I wanted, magnetic fields directing its flow.
I took a half hour to make sure that I had a pretty good idea of how powerful my blasts actually were versus how much voltage I was actually producing. No point in getting in trouble by hitting normal people too hard.
Moving on once I'd rested a bit, I tried the next idea I had. I'd been reading up a lot on things to do with electricity and magnetism. One of the things I'd read about was electrostatic cling. It might be able to allow me to stick to a surface, giving me the ability to climb and making me more effective at patrol.
Altering my charge, just as I had with my hair a few days ago, I placed my hands on the wall and tried to lift myself off the ground. I had to play with the sense of charge for a bit, but I finally managed to make my hands stick to the wall. Then, I had to practice sticking and releasing.
Finally, though, I was ready to try. Tentatively, I put one hand on the wall and managed to stick. Then I did the same thing with my other hand. I then tried to pull myself up, barely managing to move myself. I hung there for a little while, but after just a few minutes had to let go as actual physical fatigue got to me. My muscles simply weren't strong enough to hold my body up on the wall.
I tried a few more things with the static ability, then finally had to give up. I collapsed onto the dirty concrete floor, sweat rolling off of me as I thought about what I'd learned. Of course my fatigue was as much because of the use of my power as it was physical.
If I was careful, I could squat, my back against a wall, bracing with my feet. I could hold that one a little longer before the burning in my quadriceps got to me. I would even be able climb a shorter wall eventually, once I wasn't running out of strength. It wasn't like rock climbing exactly, sticking to a wall being a bit more fatiguing with no actual hand holds present while I worked on changing the electrical charges on different parts of my body.
That lack of shape was one of the reasons I had started running every morning as well as going through a series of calisthenics. I hoped in a couple of months I would be in good enough shape to be able to climb a mid-size building. At least until I figured out the Holy Grail of abilities also known as flight.
It was another of my new ideas and damn if I didn't want to be able to do it more than I could say.
I focused my ability upon myself, and tried to move my body into the air. Electricity crackled over my form, and for just a moment, I thought I felt like I was lighter. But, sadly, when I jumped as high from the floor as I could, I did not actually get any higher than I had the day before.
Okay, so that didn't seem to work. Now to try the next idea on my list. I changed the charge, not just on my hair, but on my entire body, to one that 'felt' identical to the one on the floor. Then I tried to leap off the ground. Again, I thought I felt lighter, but when I actually checked the mark on the wall, it turned out that I wasn't.
Sighing, I made a note in my journal. No significant progress, but then again, I'd only been testing and practicing for six days.
Taking a deep breath, I moved on. What I was about to do now was something that I had only theorized should be possible, but I wanted to try it today.
I had been reading up on electromagnetism, and had read an entire section on weapons that were based upon the principle. The one that had immediately caught my attention was a railgun. It used magnets to accelerate a metallic round made from a ferrous material to accelerate it to a high enough speed that it was able to destroy things through kinetic force.
Now, picturing it in my mind, it seemed almost too easy to do so. Again, it was another of those half forgotten skills that I seemed to just know. I picked up a tiny washer from the worktable. It was only a thin quarter inch washer with barely any mass, but I dared not use anything larger for a first attempt. Not because I didn't think I could move a larger item, but because I was scared of the effect it might have.
I supercharged my ability, onto and out from my right hand, as I visualized lightning lashed rails extending into the distance, just visible in some kind of other sight. Finally, I breathed out, flipping the tiny washer into the air just for the visual effect, although I might have to rethink that for actual combat, as dropping it would be embarrassing and potentially dangerous. I ruefully shook my head as I realized unless I really screwed up by the numbers, it would be almost impossible to drop something made of metal as I controlled magnetism.
Focusing back on my current task, I released the energy just as the washer touched back down. The sense of acceleration was immediate and intense. It was immediately followed by a loud crash that completely overshadowed the snapping sound of electricity as the washer blew a hole in the concrete wall at the back of the basement.
I stared at the wall, stunned, as little pieces of surprisingly hot concrete rained down around me. Stunned, I walked up and almost touched the concrete surrounding the hole, but drew my hand back instantly because of the heat. Okay, I both had and hadn't expected something like this to happen. Regardless, there was going to be no more training on that particular skill at home. I think if I had used a larger item, like a medium sized nut or bolt, it would have blown a hole in the wall so big that shrapnel from it might have hurt me badly. Worse, I hadn't even charged up my imaginary energy rails up nearly as much as I thought I was capable of.
I'd need another place to train was the thought that immediately popped into my mind. Considering possible solutions, one that stood out was the Boat Graveyard that occupied the north end of the bay. It was isolated enough that any sound or sight would probably go unnoticed. That way, I could truly test my 'railgun' ability. Especially apt as I was now considering that for my hero name. Or maybe Magneto.
Nah. The latter sounded far too pretentious, while Railgun had a great ring to it, although it might be a bit too revealing of my power's source. I just needed to get to the Boat Graveyard to test its full potential.
Plus, if I could get to the Boat Graveyard, I could scavenge up some more scrap steel. It might be useful, it might not. I'd know a little more after today.
Looking over the work table, I immediately saw what I needed. It was a small, flat piece of sheet steel, likely cut off of some larger piece, its edges sharp and jagged. I'd noticed it the other day when I was looking for things to move with my power.
I'd grabbed it, then promptly cut my finger on the edge. I was balancing the piece on my other hand while sucking blood from my 'injury', my power just prickling my skin. That was when I realized that I wasn't actually touching the metal sheet. Instead, it was lying just above my skin, held there by my power.
I wanted to do the same thing today. I had an idea that I might be able to use it as a last ditch defense to keep metallic objects from injuring me. Whether it would work or not was still up in the air.
This time I was more careful in picking it up, and didn't cut myself. Using my power, I felt it leave my hand, floating just above it. I wasn't attempting to move it, rather, it was repelled from me by magnetism or charge alone somehow. Oddly, I could feel how the distance between it and me changed depending upon the contour of my hand.
I concentrated more power on the plate, then more still. Each push pressed it a little closer to my skin, while making it that much harder to get even closer still. It was actually kind of amusing, but not that useful as I didn't see how I could do much if, say, my hands were stuck flat.
I casually tired to bend my fingers, then stopped, utterly shocked. Because the metal plate, so closely pressed to my skin had bent with my fingers. Then I opened them back and and immediately noticed that the plate was no longer smooth. Instead, it resembled a topographical map of my hand, down to the tiniest pore and wrinkle.
That was just weird. I couldn't really imagine a use for this ability. But that didn't mean there wasn't one. So I kept playing with it, over and over again. After a while, though, the metal seemed as if it was getting a lot harder to work.
Suddenly, I was conscious of sweat dripping down my face and a sense of fatigue more intense than when I'd worked on moving all of those metal items. Relaxing my power, I let the plate fall into my hand. I immediately dropped it as it was a bit hotter than felt comfortable to the touch.
I ran upstairs and grabbed a cold bottle of water. Then I went back down and stood considering the piece of metal that was lying on the work table. What had I done? It didn't appear any different, but I knew there was some kind of change, based upon how the metal felt to my magnetism. Not more or less magnetic, but rather more... durable?
Had I made it stronger? I looked around for a hammer, finally finding one in the big toolbox on the bottom shelf of the work table. I carefully raised it, then brought it down as hard as I could onto the metal image of my hand.
It skidded slightly, while sparks flew, but upon inspection, appeared undamaged. Rolling my eyes in exasperation at my idiocy, I used my power to raise the hammer, then bring it down probably at least ten times as hard. The noise was loud enough to make me wince, but the plate itself was undamaged.
Okay, this could be useful. I wasn't sure exactly how yet, but it almost had to be. Metal that was much, much tougher than any currently available? How could that not be useful?
Suddenly, I had an idea. I used my power to pick up the metal plate, bringing close to my face. Then I set my power to work upon it. It took literally everything I had left in the tank to mold it into a close approximation of my face, while also creating eye, mouth, and nose holes on it. The metal fiercely resisted being reshaped, and felt like it became even more durable under the lash of my power.
In the end, as sweat streamed down my face, I had a mask that covered my face, closely approximating the shape, but with the features just a little... blurred? Or reshaped might be a better way to describe it.
I ran upstairs again to the downstairs bath off of the kitchen. Looking into the mirror there, I couldn't help but grin at what I saw. I was now wearing a mask that showed the visage of a girl, but with higher cheekbones, looking a great deal more idealized than the real me. Maybe I could consider it me 2.0?
I'd contoured the inside of the mask to match my face for the most part, but the outside I'd reshaped slightly into the image in the mirror. Could I do that for more armor? If I could, how cool would it be to show up to cape fights wearing a bad ass costume of my own manufacture?
Though would I be able to lift it if I carried out my tentative plan? I almost smacked myself as I realized that I was thinking like someone who needed muscles to move metal. My power could do the work. Hell, if I had a suit of armor that surrounded me I might even be able to fly. Screw that. I would be able to fly!
I felt a hell of a lot more positive about things when I went back downstairs to the basement to clean up. Plus, I needed to make sure that hole in the wall was covered up. Dad would kill me if he saw it, not to mention it would out me as a Parahuman. Whistling, I went to work.
I heard the front door open as my dad came in, his tall skinny shape briefly outlined in the light. He always went in that way as if ignoring that broken step out front would just make it go away. Sometimes, I had the impression that he thought that if he just fixed it, something else around the house would break. Calling out, "Hey, Dad" I went back to chopping lettuce for the salad I was making.
He smiled at me as he walked in, taking in the smells of pizza and garlic bread. "Hey, kiddo. What's all this?"
I could feel my chest hurt ever so slightly at the happy look in his eyes as he took in the normalcy of the scene in front of him. Just his ordinary teenage daughter making dinner for her hardworking father with not a care in the world. I wanted to confess to being a liar, but instead, I said in a bright tone, "It's dinner. Pizza and garlic bread from Manny's Pizzeria and a salad by yours truly to round things off. I figured we could use some of that settlement money to order out."
Dad walked up and kissed me on the top of my head, then looked over what I had laid out. "Looks great, Taylor. Let me get washed up and I'll be down by the time you finish with that salad."
I smiled, knowing from his answering one that it wasn't as false as it felt. "Sound great. Then you can tell me all about your day fighting for the rights of the little man."
For a second, his smile faltered, then it grew even firmer. "I'll do just that. See you in a bit."
That's my dad, still fighting the good fight as a representative of the local dockyard workers association. I was proud of him for never giving up even when it appeared that things were futile. That the port would never reopen. But Dad persevered because he believed that tomorrow would be a better day.
I stared at a tomato as I chopped it, red leaking out. It looked far too much like blood. Staring at the chunks of red, I couldn't really see a future, despite my earlier positivity. Unless tomorrow carried a crimson sheen to it. Shivering slightly, I dismissed the dark thoughts.