Reaper Chapter I: Fear the Reaper
I leap across the rooftops as I realize how illogical the world could be.
The world was filled with constants: get up, go to school, face my once best friend's betrayal while she mocks me, clean myself off, ignore the teachers that were ignoring me, go home.
Rinse and repeat.
But then the variables come in and screw around with the constants, leaving disaster in it's wake. A cape fight destroys my father's Union building, an Endbringer attack sinks one of the few remaining islands, my mother's death...
I wasn't always like this. I used to barely give the illogical nature of the world and it's inhabitants a passing glance as I continued on with the living hell that was my life, facing down Emma, facing the apathetic school faculty, cleaning the messes they made of me, etc. etc.
I clear another rooftop, barely exerting any effort in pushing my body to clear the gap between. I feel the supposed heavy weight of my mother's black cloak bellow in the wind as I soar through the air, electrical impulses within my body enhancing the my senses. I tense as I descend onto the approaching rooftop, letting new-found instinct and the impulses do their work.
My landing is flawless and I hardly make a sound as I continue my run above the streets. I would never have made a jump like that before, when I was an illogical person. I doubt I would have even willed my self to be on the roof in the first place. Not that I didn't want to before; I was passionate about what I wanted to do, but without the means. I was doomed to suffer from the constants that were my classmates and my own inadequacy in life.
That all changed with the locker.
I stopped on a new roof, letting the mild wind play with my restrained hair. I was dressed in my previously mentioned black cloak, with matching gloves, cargo pants filled with assorted items, gloves and boots. I finished my ensemble with my white face mask, a red smile painted on and slitted slots where I could see through. Every part of my costume was calculated for the most efficient and logical use: My boots were steel tipped for added protection, gloves with metal studs where the knuckles were for increased damage, my mother's cloak and my cargo pants were laced with metal wire and filled with pepper spray and my metal baton. If one were to cut open my cloak, they'd find rows upon rows of thin pieces of metal, placed over the other in a pattern that would remind anyone who saw of dragon scales.
All in all my costume would have weighed a good 90 lbs, severely limiting the movement of any normal human being.
I was anything but.
My powers are hard to explain. At first glance it may seem straight forward, anything I touch I can generate and discharge huge quantities of electricity through as long as it's conductive. I'm unsure as to how much I can generate, but it was enough to short out my entire block.
That was not a good week.
Further experimentation showed that I passively create and sense electricity, ranging from normal appliances to human beings if I focus enough and I can interact with them from a distance, though the effect basically amounted to fuzzy t.v. pictures and mild irritation from people. Hopefully my dad will forgive me for all those passive tests when I tell him about me.
But even that was not the limit of my power. If I focus on a conductive material I can alter it's physical properties to an unknown extent. I can cause vibrations and somehow lighten it's mass with my electrical discharges, so while my gear may weigh up to 90 lbs on a normal person, with my powers it weighs a little less than ten. If that wasn't enough my electrical impulses throughout my body are supercharged to the extreme, giving me enhanced physical abilities. I can't flip a car through the air like Glory Girl, but I can definitely dent the car door.
The only thing that was not apart of my logic was the mask. I absently rubbed the white plastic covering, listening to the surrounding area for any sign of trouble. I don't know why, but when I saw the then blank piece of plastic at the goodwill I felt the overwhelming need to have it. It was illogical and I briefly feared that it was a sign of me losing my new perspective, but after adding my personal tastes to the mask I felt... rejuvenated.
Further musings were pushed aside as I focused in on a silent group on gangsters guarding the entrance to the building. Their colors, asian features, and insignia all pointed to the ABB, the world's largest asian supervillain gang barring those in China. The silence is what tips me off, ironic since they were most likely ordered to keep a low profile by their boss. Unfortunately for them, ABB is known as one the loudest and confrontational gangs here, rivaled only by the Empire 88.
I try to focus on the EM fields within the building but find myself lacking. Electrical wiring and equipment obscure any focus I could gather. Foolish. I should have planned for this, I had trekked through this entire neighborhood for weeks and I had never taken something as simple as wiring in account. With no way to know what the two lackey's were guarding but unwilling to leave such a suspicious scene, I hunker down and play the waiting game.
An hour had almost passed before I saw movement. A black limousine arrived from one of the many alleyways, creating a stark contrast from his it's polished frame and the shanty buildings that surrounded it. As soon as the comfort car stopped, people began to exit the guarded building and I could now understand why there was a need for quiet.
Lung had exited the building.
The leader of the Anz Bad Boys strode out below me, his 6 foot height and muscled build radiating confidence and respect. I was now way, way, way over my head here. Lung had fought against full teams of the Protectorate with little to no problems and was even said to have gone toe-to-tow with Leviathan and come out unscratched. I was a 15 year old girl with social issues.
I was about to abandon my mission, maybe to find some non-Endbringer level gangbangers, when my enhanced-hearing caught part of his conversation:
"-shoot the brats. You got them in your sights, shoot them. If she starts talking shoot the bitch twice. I don't want any of them walking away from here."
They were going to shoot kids?!
I had no disposable cell on me and the nearest payphone was half-way across the docks. It was stupid, it was reckless, and worse, it was illogical. But I was going to save those kids or die trying.
I really didn't want to die.
My biggest target and obstacle was Lung, the man, according to Parahumans wiki, was capable of growing stronger during a fight and had regeneration that made sure that whatever damage he did receive was almost negligible. He also had some sort of Pyrokinesis, but the article didn't go into depths about it's range or his skill with it. Lung himself was surrounded by a dozen gang members, some carrying guns that they didn't even try to hide, while most carried some sort of melee weapon on their person. I was confident that I could take them down rather quickly but it would give Lung a heads up and I doubt he's the type to let others do the fighting for him.
No, my best chance was to quickly take Lung out of the fight before he began his transformation, and hopefully scare off any remaining lackey.
With a deep breathe and some brief mental encouragement, I leapt off of the five story building. During my descent I unhitched my metal baton, allowing it to expand to it's full length before letting a medium size charge of electricity run through it, turning it into a makeshift stun baton. I could hear and feel the small vibrations of the charge as it coursed through my weapon and body.
Apparently, so could Lung.
The leader of the ABB barely understood what he was seeing before my makeshift stun baton struck his metal mask in a double-handed-overhead-swing. Sparks crackled to life as metal meet electrically charged metal, Lung's body involuntarily twitching as the current transferred to his body.
"AAAAAAAAGH!" He shouted, surprisingly still on his feet, before making a blind swing in the general direction that I had landed in. I let my reflexes do their job and bent backwards, feeling the air from his fist across my mask, before retaliating with another swing from my baton, this time to the outside of his kneecap. Lung's leg crumpled beneath him, forcing him to one knee and causing more cries of agony from the renewed electrical shock. Before he could get the chance to realize what the hell was going on, I swung my baton like a baseball bat, with Lungs dented mask being the discharged Home-Run hit.
Sparks once again flew as metal connected, with the force of my swing and Lung's unstable stance actually giving him air time before he slammed to the ground. I stared at the unmoving form of Lung with occasional twitch of electricity and the rise and fall of his chest.
I just knocked Lung unconscious.
I checked my watch.
I just knocked Lung unconscious in 30 seconds.
I broke myself out of my self imposed daze and looked towards the remaining gang members. In the ensuing "battle" not one of them thought to take out their weapons, instead choosing to stop and gape at what had just happened to their "invincible" leader. I decided to use their shock to my advantage and made a "who's next?" gesture with my palm, twirling my baton in the other hand.
With looks of sheer fear spread across their faces, the remaining gang sprinted in my opposite direction, many of them crying out in fright.
Well. That went rather nicely, didn't it Lun-gurrphgghphr!
What felt like a freight train slammed into my ribcage, denting the metal dragon scales in my cloak and sending me flying into a nearby dumpster, crashing into it's exterior. I forced myself off of the alley's dirty ground and leaned onto the dented dumpster, trying to ignore the screaming from my ribcage. Lung was back on his feet, three feet taller and covered in metal scales, not unlike the ones within my cloak. Smoke was billowing beneath his now deformed dragon mask and I could see the tell-tale glow of orange flames as well. His now clawed hands curled in and out, and the glare he sent my way said it all.
Lung was pissed, and I was fucked.
"U mo'er fu'ther! I kill u!"
I was going to say something, I don't know what, maybe a snappy retort, but Lung didn't give me a chance. With a speed that belied his incredible size he lunged at me, claws open and out for blood. I didn't give my self a chance to think before I lept out of his way, his metal claws barely scratching the underside of my boot as he blasted threw the metal dumpster as well as the brick wall behind it.
Rolling onto my feet and all to aware of the pain in my ribs, I tried to find a way to escape. The rooftops might be my way out, but Lung was able to hear me when I attacked him. Did he have super hearing as well? If he didn't then, he sure as hell does now. He was too fast for me to outrun, but for now dodging him wasn't a major problem and he hadn't started spitting fire so that was a plus. I most definitely couldn't out muscle him either, maybe my shocks could hurt him? It looked like he had metal scales, so that could work. But how to get close without being eviscerated?
I apparently took to long for Lungs tastes as the hulking monster blasted through the wall again, leaving two holes where he entered and left. Those scales were definitely metal, I could feel my passive E.M. field attach to them. If I could get close to him for my baton I could hopefully zap him enough to put him out of the fight, at least till the Procterate came by.
I'd have to do something stupid for him to charge again though.
"You know Lung, you could have just walked through the same hole right? Don't tell me, all your brains went to your muscles didn't they?"
Yep that should do it.
With an inhuman roar that nearly knocked me off my feat, Lung charged for a second time. I was ready this time though, jumping to his lower left side and ducking under his swinging arm. I had a fraction of a second before he could turn to swipe me, but it would still be too late for Lung.
I admit, I might have screamed when Lung exploded.
Before my baton was even an inch to his scales, plumes of flames burst out of seemingly nothing, nearly engulfing me in it's entirety. My reflexes saved me again as I leapt/rolled backwards and out of the flames reach. I was still singed and sweating badly under his heat, but at least I was alive. I pushed myself back onto two feet and tried not to look into the swirling sun that Lung had become. I might have gaped and froze at the power that Lung possessed before I triggered, but now my mind still tried to analyze the situation and find a favorable outcome.
There weren't many. Lung was now covered in flames, and didn't seem to mind it at all. I could still shock him, but getting closer would now be a death sentence even more than before. He had effectively rendered my baton and myself useless. But maybe I didn't have to touch him. Slowly, a plan started forming in my mind as I mentally went over every landmark that I passed on my way here. It could work, but I'd be really pushing my luck.
The sound of cracking concrete was enough of a warning for me as I dive-rolled out the way, a living fireball slamming into the ground where I had just stood. I didn't even look back as I began my sprint threw the alley ways, hoping Lung would take the bait. The explosion of brick behind highly suggested that he had, and I began to zig-zag to my destination, using dumpsters, abandoned cars, and trash-bins as obstacles to put Lung just behind me. Even though I was sweating like a stuck pig, and my ribcage would probably never forgive me, I continued on with my improvised free-running my trusty reflexes giving me the boost I needed to keep me out of range of Lung's fireballs.
I had just seen my destination when Lung got fed up with the chase and made a massive leap in my direction. He actually overshot me and I probably would have made there unharmed had his flaming tale not slammed into my back. Now I was sent flying once again, though the air time was considerably shorter and the asphalt of the street much more comfortable than the metal dumpster. I was also on fire, but a few pats on my lower back solved that problem.
Lung was far from done however. His giant leap had made him crash headfirst into a fire hydrant, sending a cascade of water through the air, and surrounding his body in steam as his flames struggled to stay alight. His lack of fire was no cause of alarm though, as he was now ten feet taller than I had last seen him, with larger scales, elongated neck and an inhuman muzzle where his face used to be. His scales glistened from the perspiration, his flames all but dead, yet he still had that aura of confidence about him. And rage. Yeah he was still pissed.
"No mo' runnin'. U wi' die fu'her."
In the movies this would be the time where the hero says a snappy comeback.
Not me. That would be illogical and a waste of time.
Instead I slammed my metal baton into the puddle that had formed under Lung's feet. Giant sparks of electricity zapped the air around it as Lung jerked and convulsed like a marionette puppet. I used enough electricity to fry a my block before adding more. Lung was once more fuming, but instead of his pyrokinetics, it was the now visible arcs of electricity dancing across his scales as his eyes literally popped like grapes. I kept the pressure on for another thirty seconds before finally relinquishing control, causing Lung to fall to his side once more, almost exactly as he had done before.
I stood on shaking feet, chest hurting, my skin still feeling the small burns from Lung. I had won. Looking at the smoking ruins of Lung's body and the charred remains of his eyes, it wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win all the same. I wasn't really surprised by the fact that he was still breathing, after what I had just been through, I doubted anything could kill him. Maybe I should be more disgusted by the brutality of my actions, but he was going to kill kids! It was illogical to hold back against a monster like that.
"Well this is a shocking turn of events."
I turned my head so fast I worried I might have given myself whiplash. Standing off to my right were a group people dressed in a variety of costumes. A blonde girl in a skintight outfit and domino mask with an eerie smile on her face, a man with a skull mask with darkness all around him, another teen with a renaissance fair outfit and white mask twirling a cane, and finally a taller girl with a plastic dog mask over her head. The entire group was surrounded by a pack mutant monsters, with said Dog-girl actually riding one of them.
We stood there for who knows how long, the destroyed hydrant still spewing water as we had our staring contest, Lung almost completely forgotten.
Seeing that I wasn't going to start the conversation, Skull-Mask decided to speak up, "I just wanted to say thank you. You really saved our asses here. When we heard Lung was coming by, we were pretty freaked. Eventually we just thought 'Fuck it' and decided to charge ahead. Imagine our surprise when we find only Oni Lee and a few thugs at the point where they were to meet up with Lung."
Physically I kept the same guarded pose as I had before, while I was internally mulling over his words. I saved these guys? I didn't recall ever meeting these people before.
Skull-Mask shifted uncomfortably under my masked gaze, turning towards the Smile-Girl and shrugging.
"She's not trying to be rude... I don't think?" the Smile-Girl turned back to me and I could see the gears turning in her head, though her smile never left her face. Both Skull-Mask and Clockwork Orange-Dude turned to Smile-Girl asking an unspoken question, though Smile-Girl never took her eyes off me.
"Well... this is kind of awkward." Clockwork Orange-Dude said, sounded both annoyed and uncaring at the same time.
"Something you'd like to tell us Tattle-Tale?" asked Skull-Mask, who was apparently the leader.
"...Just that we're grateful for the help." Tattle-Tale smiled, gears still turning as her eyes raked over me. Suddenly she turned towards Skull-Mask and said, "Protectorate will be here soon. We should go."
Tattle-Tale turned back to me, "You should too. Villain on villain violence rarely gets the O.K. from the big guys. Thank you, really." With that she strode towards the nearest mutant thing and climbed on top. Clockwork Orange did the same, while Skull-Mask gave me curt nod and a wave before climbing his own. Once everyone was set, Dog-Girl whistled and each Mutant took off into a sprint before climbing nearby buildings and disappearing over the top.
I was left alone in the street with the unconscious leader of Brockton Bay's most powerful gang, and wondering what the hell just happened.