I always knew there was something strange about me, I guess.
It started with the colors. I began to see more of them, strange ones I had never seen before. Whenever I tried to talk about it with anyone else, they'd just give me a strange look. When I started reading books on colors, I found that there were some- well, most- that people couldn't see. Infrared. Ultraviolet. X-rays. Plenty of more. I learned to keep quiet about them, I never really liked the attention. I started giving them names, gibberish I thought felt suitable for the ones I saw. As I got older, I began to see even more. I'm pretty sure I can actually see the entire spectrum now. Let me tell you, the world looks awesome.
The hearing came next. It was pretty much the same as the colors, I started hearing stuff that no one else could hear. It got pretty overwhelming at first; ants sounded like elephants when they skittered about, but I soon learned to keep a bottle on it, hear what I wanted to hear. I usually keep it at slightly above average, but at the drop of a hat I can tell you a conversation going on halfway around the world. I've learned plenty of freaky things, if I were a type of person into blackmail I would have more dirt than a landfill.
My body's tougher than usual, too. I first learned that when I was goofing around with scissors when I was about seven and the blades dulled on my pinky. I can't even remember the last time I actually bled or felt pain.
Well, physical pain. I've felt a lot of the other types. It hurt most when I lost Mom. Emma was my rock at the time, and my only friend. I still don't know why she became my friend, I was always very timid because of my... nonconformity. It was pleasant having her as someone to just be around.
Until the Big Day, that is.
It was during summer break, and it was somewhere around noon. Emma had invited me over to her house, and I decided to go, even though Dad wanted me to go to some summer camp. Her dad drove over to pick me up, with Emma in the passenger seat. I hopped in the back seat, and they took off. My excitement grew when I saw a couple of tubs of ice cream between them.
We weaved through the streets as we headed to their house. Alan was trying to talk to Emma about taking after-school classes, something that my friend wasn't very keen on doing. As for me, I just looked out the window and watched the colors go by. You know how some people gripe and moan about how dull some places look, especially when the weather's bad? Not me. Even on the worst rainy days everything is like a giant kaleidoscope to me.
My reverie was broken when I heard Alan shouting. I extended my senses, hearing both his and Emma's heart rates skyrocket. Time seemed to slow down as I realized there was a dumpster blocking us from going any further. I looked past it, and realized that someone had deliberately blocked it with a pile of cinderblocks.
Oh God, I thought to myself. What's happening?
I heard something else as well. More heartbeats, not fifteen feet behind us. Lots of them, too. I turned in my seat and saw a van parked behind us, and I realized all the heartbeats were coming from there. I looked inside and saw more than a dozen Asian-Americans clamber out, followed by several more hopping over the hood. They were armed with knives and clubs, and I realized they had the green and red colors of the ABB.
They advanced on the car. I began to panic, thinking of a way to get out of danger. Maybe we could try to shove the dumpster with the car, or make a run for it? Even as they passed through my mind I realized just how stupid those ideas sounded.
There was the sound of breaking glass, followed by Emma's screaming. I twisted in my seat and saw that a lanky gang member with a bandana was pulling on her, trying to yank her out of the car. Emma continued to scream, trying to wrest her hair free from the man. Another man was smashing my window open as well, and he grabbed me by the collar of my shirt.
Oh God, oh God oh God oh God, I thought to myself. They're going to hurt me! They're going to hurt Emma!
Suddenly, my resolve hardened. I had never felt so angry before in my life, it was such an alien feeling to me. NO, I thought furiously. THEY WON'T.
I stood my ground, refusing to let the man pull me out. He stumbled briefly, then pulled even harder. He might as well been trying to move a fucking mountain for all I cared. I reached up with my hand, wrapping it around his wrist. Then I squeezed.
There was a hideous sound of cracking bone and tearing flesh, and the man screamed as he pulled away his destroyed wrist. I briefly felt nauseated as I saw the shattered bones under his skin, then I swallowed the feeling and pushed it deep inside. I could be nauseated later, not now. I pushed against the car door, wrenching it free with a groaning noise. I shoved the man away with the door, sending him flying into the alley wall. He hit the ground hard and lay there, unmoving.
The man grabbing Emma saw what happened and let go of her, pulling a big kukri knife from his waistband. He swung at me just as I stepped out of the car to face him. If I wasn't so pissed at the time, I would've probably taken a perverse pleasure in seeing the look in horror on his face as the blade snapped against my throat. Other than that reflexive look of shock, he had no time to react before I shoved him down the alleyway. He tumbled down the incline, not stopping until he smashed into the dumpster with a loud clang. My senses told me he had broken several vertebrae and internal bleeding. I didn't care.
I spun about to face the other gang members, a look of unadulterated fury on my face. They stared at me in shock, and I smelt that several of them had actually pissed their pants. All of those heartbeats I had heard were now pounding in their chests. They were afraid. I took a few steps forwards, balling my hands into fists.
They fled. It wasn't even some organized retreat, they trampled each other like panicked animals as they did their damnedest to get as far away from me as possible. In a matter of fifteen seconds they were all gone, excluding the ones I had just pounded into hamburger meat. As soon as the last Bad Boy hopped over the van, a wave of relief washed over me. We were safe.
"Taylor?" Emma called out softly.
I turned around. Emma gaped at me, her eyes as wide as saucers. Alan had gotten out of the car, defensively putting Emma behind him. He eyed me as though I were some wild animal, and I heard both of their heart rates elevate just by looking at me.
They were afraid of me.
I took a step forward, only for Alan to push Emma away from me. "J-just stay away from my daughter!" he stammered at me, trying not let his fear show.
"Emma?" I said almost inaudibly, looking at her. She shied away from my eyes, as if she was afraid what would happen if she so much as spoke to me.
I backpedaled in horror, looking at my hands. There was blood on them, already drying into that sticky brown mess. I didn't know what to do.
So I ran.
I dashed by them, hopping over the dumpster and making a beeline for my house. A flurry of colors rushed by, x-rays and gamma-rays fluttering across the sky as they shone from the sun. A summer rain began to come down, washing away the blood on my hands, and soon I was drenched. I didn't care, there was far more important stuff on my mind. I had no idea how fast I was going, but my dad was surprised when I got home. He must've seen how upset I was, because the first thing he did was ask what happened.
To my surprise, I told the truth.
I have to give my dad credit, he stayed silent the entire time as I poured out everything that had happened only a few minutes ago. His heart rate rose, as did the temperature on his face, when I got to the part with me fighting off the men who had attacked us. He was pissed, that much I could tell.
"Are you okay?" he finally asked when I had stopped. "Did they hurt you?"
I shook my head, swallowing the dry lump in my throat. "I'm fine." I paused, then asked something I never thought I'd ask my dad. "What's wrong with me?!"
To my surprise, Dad's heart rate lowered. He sighed deeply, lost in thought. I could tell, the neurons in his frontal cortex were really sparking up. He got up from the couch, stretching slightly. "Come with me," he said softly.
I did as told, following him downstairs into the basement. Dad began pilfering through a bunch of boxes he had in the corner, then pulled a big one up. I could really see the strain it had on his muscles, whatever was inside had to be heavy. Dad set the box down between us, then reached inside and pulled something out. It kinda reminded me of a rocket you'd see in old pulp stories... if space explorers were the size of ants. There was a big glass canopy over the body of the rocket.
"What is it?" I asked, looking it over. There was some bizarre looking circuitry inside, as well as designs that would make any tinker jealous.
"This is what we found you in," Dad said. "Back when I worked as a deep-sea fisherman, I found this thing bobbing near the bay. I brought it up and found you inside. Your mother and I had been trying for a baby for some time, with no result. So, we took you in as our own."
My heart practically skipped a beat as I processed the realization. "I... I'm not your daughter?"
"You are my daughter," Dad quickly said. "Your mother and I raised you, fed you, loved you. I don't give a damn what DNA you got, you're Taylor Hebert."
The realization was a bit much for me. For a few minutes I was just silent, coming to grips with what Dad just told me. I ran a hand over the rocket. "What...what am I?" I finally managed to say.
"I had an old bud of mine who was some low-level tinker take a look at it," Dad replied. "He said the design was like nothing he had ever seen before, even for other tinkers. It wasn't some mishmash of mad science stuff, it was all connected and interchangeable."
I quickly connected the dots. "I'm not from around here, am I?" I asked softly.
Dad shrugged. "You might get an answer in this," he said, pulling a red cloth out of the box. Unfurling it, he revealed what appeared to be a red cape of sorts with a big yellow "S" symbol on it. "You were wrapped in this when I found you. I also showed it to my tinker friend. He couldn't cut a single piece from it to examine, even with a nano-blade. Touch it."
I reached out hesitantly, brushing my fingers over the "S". Before I knew it, I was in some strange laboratory. An older man was standing before me instead of Dad. He had kindly eyes, and his dark hair had streaks of grey in it. He was dressed in some unusual robe, which had the big "S" on its chest. "Hello," he said softly.
"Who are you?" I asked somewhat forcefully.
The man smiled a second or so later, as if he was unaware I was there. "This is a pre-recorded neural message, so I'm afraid you can't ask me any questions. I wouldn't be surprised if you're doing that right now, begging me for answers. You shall receive."
The man straightened himself. "My name is Jor-El, and I am your birth father. Your birth name is Zara Jor-El, and you are from Krypton."
"Krypton," I breathed with amazement. "I'm an alien."
"Krypton is a high-gravity planet orbiting a red giant that we call Rao," Jor-El continued. "Or rather, was. By the time you receive this message, it will have been destroyed. I will not go into specifics, there is a vast library of Kryptonian history in your rocket that will explain it far better. What you need to know is that you were sent to Earth for a reason. It is in grave peril from a threat they believe to be a savior, one that comes from the space between space. I have sent you, the last daughter of Krypton, to continue the legacy of my people and to save another from destruction. You will have great gifts with which to accomplish this. Earth's sun is far younger, the radiation it outputs will fuel powers beyond imagining. Its gravity is weaker, which means that you will possess strength far greater than even the greatest of Earth's champions. Your power will only grow with time. It will be necessary, considering what you shall face." Jor-El smiled once more. "Goodbye, my only daughter."
I found myself back in the basement. "Holy shit," I breathed.
"Now you know," Dad said. "Just remember, Taylor, that I'll always be your dad, no matter what."
"Thanks," I said rather absentmindedly, catching him in a bear hug. "It all makes so much sense now." Setting him back down, my gaze turned once more to the cape. I studied it, contemplating all that I had just learned. Jor-El's words echoed through my mind. Save another from destruction. It was then that I realized what I was going to do.
I was going to be a superhero.
A/N: This is my first Worm fanfiction. I decided to go with the recent trend and add my own two cents to the mix. I noticed no one had actually ever done one were Taylor was basically Superwoman, so I decided "why not?"