I darted across the street, rose petals fluttering in my wake. Anyone watching would see a red blur going from one alley to another down the street on the other side, but at this time of night and in this neighborhood, there wasn't anyone watching. The only people around were me and some gang members in red and green clothes without much else in common. If I move quickly, they won't notice, and there's enough distant machines and noises from the nearby houses to mostly mask my noises. Stifling a yawn, I try to remind myself why I'm staying up so much past what should be my bedtime.

A couple of weeks ago, I fought Roman Torchwick at the docks and was knocked unconscious. I don't know what happened next, but I woke up in an dirty alley in a place that smelled like smoke, except worse. The kingdom the alley was in, which I learned was called Brockton-Bay, was a lot smaller than Vale and didn't have walls, and it was smelly and dirty. There were lots of poor people and abandoned buildings and graffitti and stuff, and plenty of crime too. Still, there were two things that made up for it. The first was that, as far as I could tell, there were no Grimm.

The second was the superheroes.

On my third day in Brockton-Bay, I got to see a few superheroes. Two flying women with lasers fought a third, glowing one, while a flying girl punched a big bundle of metal things. The supervillains ran, but the heroes chased them. Aside from having really, really cool superpowers instead of weapons (usually), they seemed a lot like Huntsmen back home, except fighting supervillains instead of Grimm. I decided I wanted to be one, and tried to figure out how.

I went to the library to use their computers, and their Internet. The closest thing back home was a bunch of ways to send stuff from one terminal to another, and between kingdoms; this Internet had a lot more structure, and a lot more stuff on it. Some of that stuff was neat, like finding out that Brockton-Bay was just one of a bunch of kingdoms and towns in "America," and that the top superhero team there was the Protectorate. There were a bunch of independent vigilantes, though, and in between were people like the New Wave, who I saw fight the supervillains.

And so I prepared myself. I had to get a costume, first of all. That was tricky; it was hard to get any money. I managed to get a few dollars doing various odd jobs for people, but that barely covered food, sometimes not even that. Still, by managing to save up a few dollars, I bought a red ski mask; combined with my favorite hooded cloak (which I'd stopped wearing after getting a bunch of weird looks from people, none of whom were wearing cloaks of any kind), it made a decent, if cheap, costume.

I didn't have much else. Luckily, I still had Crescent Rose, although I kept it hidden and folded up (I don't think anyone who saw it thought it was a gun); I also had my Scroll, and a dirty backpack I found in a dumpster on my second day. Aside from that, I had Aura to keep me healthy and reasonably presentable, and a Semblance. I was ready to be a superhero, and just needed one thing.

A nemesis.

This lead to a search on Parahumans Online ("parahuman" being a long word for "superhero or supervillain"), and then I found a problem. There were a lot of good nemeses in Brockton-Bay. There was Kaiser, a guy who thought people with white skin were better than people with other colors of skin, which sounded like a really, really bad thing since most of the people I've seen were pink, not white. Coil was a scary guy who might or might not be a real supervillain, but he definitely seemed to be plotting a lot. And there were a lot of people who didn't do much, both ones like Stain who had a lot of potential but didn't really care and ones like Leet and Uber who tried hard but weren't very good; I didn't want to pick one of them as a nemesis.

In the end, I chose Lung. He was big and scary, and forced a lot of people who didn't want to work for him to work for him. He had one supervillain working for him, Oni Lee, with a teleportation power that was sorta similar to my speedy Semblance, but that still meant there weren't a lot of supervillains for me to fight. Coil might not have any, and Kaiser had way too many for me to fight. And Lung had almost never been defeated; if anything could get me into the Protectorate, beating up Lung probably could.

So I went to try and find Lung, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Lung had a lot of normal gang members, and while some were innocent civilians, a lot more weren't. Some of them beat up anyone who didn't look a little like Ren. Of course, there were thugs everywhere, but most didn't get in my way, and anyways Lung's docks were worse than most places. Eventually, I realized a clever way to find Lung: Follow a bunch of his gang until they met him. I've been trying that for a week now, and didn't get anything but tired. But I need to keep trying.

Tonight is my lucky night. They met up with some more, and I decided to hide in an alley not far from them. I almost fell asleep, waiting for something to happen, but then a bunch of people came out of one of the buildings. The last was over six feet tall, shirtless, and muscular, covered with tattoos of weird snakes with legs and mustaches and stuff. He had a metal mask on his face, one which undeniably marked him as Lung.

I tried to remember what I knew about Lung. He was a pyra-something, with fire stuff. He also turned into a big (well, bigger) dragon-like form, with metal scales and wings and stuff. There was some other stuff, but part of it was that he couldn't or didn't transform when he wasn't fighting, and that once he started it was hard to stop him. I rubbed the sleepiness out of my eyes and tried to pay attention as Lung started talking. I briefly noticed that some of the gang members had guns, but that didn't worry me. Those guys at From Dust Till Dawn had guns, and I still beat them up. I shook my head and tried to focus on Lung. He was talking funny, but I could understand him with some difficulty.

"...you see the children, just shoot. Doesn't matter your aim, just shoot. You see one lying on the ground? Shoot the little bitch twice more to be sure. We give them no chances to be clever or lucky, understand?"

My blood ran cold. Could I have heard wrong? Could it be right? Murder was unthinkable, even for people like Torchwick. And to kill kids, to plan killing kids, that was much, much worse. Lung isn't a person, I decided. He's more like a Grimm in human skin. And his gang members weren't appalled or surprised; they were going along with it!

I could be wrong. Surely I was wrong...but could I risk it?

I charged, drawing and transforming Crescent Rose as I ran, tried to shoot (I failed—the Dust just didn't react) and using my Semblance to cover the distance once it was mostly out. I knocked a couple gang members into another before spinning my scythe and striking another, who was trying to draw a sword thing with a flat blade and only a knuckle guard. He fell over and started bleeding a lot. I realized that none of these people had any Aura.

I need to be careful. Just because these people were going to kill kids doesn't make killing them right.

I folded up Crescent and used it as a bludgeon, knocking the gang members away from myself more carefully. The others started backing away; some pulled out pistols and started shooting at me, but I dodged most and the few that hit didn't do much. Lung was a bigger problem, he was already starting to transform. Lung struck out with a burst of flame, but I just dashed to the side; it didn't even scratch my Aura.

He's going to kill kids. He's different. He's...a monster. I unfolded Crescent Rose into its full scythe form and charged at Lung, lopping off his right leg at the knee. Lung fell over, lunging at me, but I dashed away. Lung looked around, saw that his gang members were getting away, and exploded. A wave of heat washed over me, would have burned me if not for my Aura. He got up on hands and knee, and exploded again. I saw a car turning the corner towards us, before stopping and reversing and driving away. Lung exploded a third time, but this time I dashed beyond the range of the explosion. A bunch of his body was covered in scales, maybe a quarter of it. And there was more leg than when I cut it off.

He can regrow limbs? I suddenly remembered something on his wiki page about regeneration. This is going to get hard. I can't do anything to him except kill him, and I probably can't kill him without cutting his head off. So...I have to cut...his head off. I forced myself to try, and dashed towards him; I hesitated before swinging, though, and that gave Lung enough time to grab me by the front of my cloak and hurl me into a wall. He staggered up, one leg still missing a bit, and blasted me with another blast of fire before I could even stand up. More metal scales were forcing their way through his skin before laying flat. I have to end this fast.

I got up, then charged at Lung, enduring another blast of fire before leaping and trying to use Crescent Rose's recoil to send me flying up so I could cut his head off. I crashed directly into Lung's chest, and then realized that I'd forgotten that it wasn't working. Lung grabbed Crescent Rose in one claw and my cloak in the other, exploded again, and pulled his arms apart. Crescent Rose was yanked from my hands, and Lung tossed it aside before swinging me up, grabbing my cape in both claws, and smashing me into the ground.

I pulled free and dashed for Crescent Rose, but one of the gang members grabbed it. "Hey!" I shouted, before he clubbed me with Crescent and several more shot me. I slammed an elbow between the legs of the guy with Crescent, and grabbed it before Lung grabbed me again with a burning hand, and raked me with his other claw, also burning. The gang members backed up more as I swung Crescent at Lung. The blade buried itself in his shoulder, but the frame along the top got caught in his scales. He doubled over, yanking Crescent Rose out of my hand again, and I thought I'd finally done something to him...

...until his back split in half, with the yucky gap getting covered by scales. He stood up, Crescent Rose still in his shoulder, maybe seven and a half feet tall and mostly armored. But then, so was that Deathstalker the others and I fought at initiation. And Lung's just like that. I leapt up and grabbed Crescent's handle, then spun about to unstick it. Lung pounded me into the ground before I landed, breaking the asphalt of the road with my body. I rolled away from him and got onto my hands and knees, almost stood up before Lung kicked me, followed with another blast of fire. I dashed for an alley on the other side of the street, pulled down a fire escape ladder, leapt up into it, and dashed to the top, hoping to get a moment to breathe and plan without getting pounded by a firey monster every few seconds.

Lung didn't follow me up the fire escape. He ran across the road, jumped, and hit the building most of the way up. He stuck, somehow, and started climbing. This would be a really good time to be able to shoot him. I could just run, jump off the building and use my Semblance to get most of a block away before Lung realized I was gone...but that wouldn't just be a loss for me, it would mean the death of the kids Lung was going to kill. I had to stop him. If my Scroll got any kind of signal, maybe I could call the local heroes and get them to help, maybe figure out what kids he was going to kill and save them...but it didn't, so I couldn't. So I waited, and prepared to cut off Lung's head as soon as it showed above the edge of the roof.

I know I have to. He's a monster, he's going to kill kids. It's right, why does it feel so wrong?

After a couple minutes, I saw something come up. I swung Crescent Rose at it, and watched as Lung's...claw...fell to the ground. He pulled himself over the edge in one quick motion, blasting the roof with fire, covered by flaming metal scales, before getting a leg over and standing up. He was easily eight feet tall and three feet wide at the shoulder, with eyes that looked more like red-hot metal than anything human. I charged at him, and cut through his side. It started fixing itself before I'd even brought Crescent Rose back for another swing. He covered the roof in flames again.

I swung several times, leg, arm, wrist, and cut off his other claw with the last swing. The others made more cuts but didn't do much else. Lung was slower from the cuts, but getting bigger and stronger every second. Meanwhile, my Aura got depleted from every swipe of his claws or burst of flame, and it was coming back much slower than Lung was regenerating.

I was trying to think of some way to win when a monstrous cross between an Ursa, a lizard, and raw meat crashed into Lung.