Taylor Hebert died in the locker. She also died in the back of the ambulance on her way to hospital. Once at hospital, she died due to an incompetent doctor. Then, a week later she died when an irresponsible driver ran her over and left her, during one of her runs.
It was only after she died when a drugged up mugger had shot her through the chest, having confused her purse for a can of pepper spray or something, that she began to suspect something weird was happening.
After getting run over again (at least this time they'd called out an apology as they drove away – fucking psychos), getting caught in a crossfire between the E88 and the ABB, and tripping and braining herself against the pavement that she suspected she was a Parahuman.
She'd done a few brief tests to see if she was a Brute, but quickly dismissed it, because even though what should've been agonizing pain was merely painful. Despite this, she still bled like normal, had no enhanced strength, and was hurt, if anything, unnaturally fast. So she set that idea behind, disappointed.
After being mauled by a particularly vicious cat, suffering an allergic reaction to bee stings (who knew), and tripping off the roof of Winslow and landing neck first, she changed her mind. After all, she remembered dying in each of the events, but assumed she'd hallucinated because afterwards she had been fine, and there had been no blood or gore from the more… violent demises.
So deciding to put her power to the test, having lost all will to live after her tormentors went unpunished, the case dismissed, she'd decided to jump off a tall building, ironically getting hit by a car on the way there. Having felt herself splatter, feeling fine, and leaving no blood behind, Taylor decided to be a hero.
She couldn't join New Wave, because even if she couldn't die, her dad certainly could. She might join the Protectorate in a few years, but with the Wards she'd likely be treated as a baseline human: after all, who would let a kid get brutally murdered over and over again, even if it was willing? There were probably all kinds of laws prohibiting that.
One month later, having literally worked herself to death in her exercise routine, she started making a costume. Harder than it looked, it took her another week. But now, three months, ten days after her first death, she'd snuck out to go Hero-ing for the first time.
So at slightly past midnight, she'd been strolling confidently (but carefully) into ABB territory, looking for a drug deal or something else minor, to help her get a hang of what she'd be doing. Taylor figured she'd build up momentum slowly, and get a hand on her limits in a practical situation. Then, instead, she'd spotted a large congregation of ABB, led by none other than Lung himself.
She almost immediately began to slightly less confidently but far more carefully stroll the other way, when she'd heard the shirtless man speak.
"…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?"
Aaand she turned right back around, cussing. Lung was so far out of her league combat wise she might as well be an ant trying to win long jump against a gold medal Olympian, but hopefully she could stall him. She didn't feel much pain anymore, but she still knew this was gonna suck.
Walking up and trying to control her frantic breathing, Taylor knew something was wrong with her life, considering she was willingly facing LUNG. As in, I just casually your entire team, Lung. But even if all she could do was painfully die over and over, she would be able to save these kids.
The gang had begun moving away, but the moment Taylor was within about twenty meters, Lung's head snapped back towards her. Great, he had enhanced senses. His gang quickly stopped with him, and took in the magnificence that was her costume.
Which was to say one of her dad's old suits, and expertly crafted second hand Venetian mask, her hair hanging free behind her, and a pair of torn jeans. Some of the gang members scoffed their derision. Taylor steeled herself, and adapted a casual pose, one side closer to them than the other and her hands in her pockets.
"'Sup?" Taylor greeted, pulling a slightly deeper voice than she normally would.
The gang stood there for a moment, until Lung nodded to himself.
"Shoot him," Lung declared calmly. Immediately, Taylor was sprayed with bullets, and a particularly loud retort showed one of the gangers had something much larger than a pistol. Taylor let out an undignified screech, flinching back and covering her face with her arms, as if that would help in any way.
"Fuck! That's rude, you assholes!" Taylor yelled as she felt the bullets twitch through her, a sharp pain that quickly passed each time. Eventually the gangers came to the realisation that their guns weren't working, lowering them and backing up a few steps as Lung began walking towards her. As she watched, he grew a few inches and coated himself in fire. Joy.
Instead of talking, Lung moved quickly enough that she didn't even see it. He grabbed her by the head and tore it clean off, kicking her body away from him. Taylor let out a scream from her newly reformed head as she spun around and around down the road.
As soon as she could steady herself, she got back to her feet.
"Is that how you say hello? Damn, man, you're even worse socially than I am."
While Taylor knew she wasn't very good at trash talking, it was certainly fun to be able to insult one of the most powerful villains ever seen to his face, and know there was nothing he could do to stop her. Lung let out a growl of annoyance and flung a massive ball of fire at her. Needless to say, it hurt. A lot. She held in her scream, but still hissed. God was she grateful the pain she felt was reduced, if this was only a fraction of its heat.
"I'll kill you!" Lung yelled angrily, his transformation progressing before seeming to stop at about nine feet tall and a slight tail. He crossed the distance between them in a single leap, and Taylor threw herself out of the way at the last second.
"Really? Damn, I thought we were playing tag," Taylor sniped back at him. Lung spun to her, and reached out to grab her, but Taylor ducked under his hand and punched him in the… sensitive parts, where his scales didn't quite cover.
Lung let out a combination of a yelp and a yell, reaching forward and tearing both her arms off before she could retreat. She gasped in pain. Damn, seriously, how was he this fast? Also, having no arms felt really, really weird, because she could still partly feel them. She knew she'd be stuck like this until she next died, so she decided to antagonise Lung further.
Or at least she was planning to, before only had a second to widen her eyes before Lung's spinning kick decapitated her again. Her body crumpled to the ground, but she quickly stood back up.
"STAY DEAD, YOU FUCKER!" Lung yelled, punching through her chest before she could get far, flinging her into a nearby building. He then leapt to her, grabbed her by the head and slammed her three times into the wall, and finished by planting her head first a meter into the ground.
Well, that was something she hadn't considered, but her body just popped out of the concrete like a daisy from the ground, and Taylor spread her arms in a mock hug. Lung growled furiously and bit down on her head, pinning her in place and coating her in fire, and quickly reducing her body to an ashy corpse.
"OWWWWW FUCK FUCK FUCK YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE!" Taylor screeched, feeling a stab of relief as the pain finally stopped, and ducked underneath Lung's retaliatory backhand. Before Lung could try again, the nearby gang members were coated in darkness and a huge black shape slammed Lung into the ground.
It quickly began tearing into Lung, who began growing again even as he was shredded, so Taylor stepped forward and began punching him in the face over and over again. She felt one of her fingers break against the metal, with barely any pain, but kept at it as she saw Lung's struggles begin to cease.
At her size, by rights she shouldn't be able to do anything to someone like Lung. But she could throw around her own body weight, and had punched Lung in the eyes. With one final groan of pain, Lung fell unconscious, and began gradually shrinking.
She felt herself be clipped by a few bullets, and spun to face the cloud of darkness that had covered the gang members. As it dropped, it revealed a handful of unconscious members of the ABB, and none of the others of the dozens who'd been there. Either they'd been eaten by the darkness, or they'd fled. Probably the latter.
A loud impact rang out, and two more inhuman monsters slammed into the ground next to her.
"Shit, are you okay?" A masculine voice called out from on top of one of the monsters, tone expressing concern. "I saw a few bullets catch you before I could get the last guy."
At a quick glance, Taylor determined there were four riders. One in what seemed to be motorcycle leathers, with a skull painted on his motorcycle helmet, a girl in a lavender skin-tight suit and a plain domino mask, someone who looked like a Ren-faire reject, and a girl in a cheap plastic dog mask.
"She's fine," The blonde girl in purple said, a mischievous tone in her voice. "Some kind of Brute? No, that's no quite right… But anyway, thanks. You saved us a lot of trouble by taking down Lung. Really did us a solid. We heard Lung had been coming for us, and were understandably freaked, so decided just to wing it and fight him. Met some of his flunkies with Oni Lee on the way, but Lee bolted when his Boss wasn't there, and I suppose we have you to thank for that."
The man in black turned towards her. "Introductions. That's Tattletale. I'm Grue. The girl with the dogs is Bitch, or Hellhound if you want to be P.G, and last, and most certainly least, Regent."
"Fuck you Grue," Regent said with a chuckle, showing he wasn't really offended. Much to her surprise, he was wearing a mask similar to hers. "Nice style with the mask, by the way," He added, clearly showing he thought so too. There was an awkward silence. Damn, it was really telling about her that she was comfortable dying repeatedly and fighting Lung, but froze up in front of strangers.
"… Hey, Tattletale, you sure she's okay?" Grue asked.
"Yeah, she's not hurt, just shy," Tattletale replied with a vulpine grin. She seemed about to continue, but then tilted her head to one side. "Heads up, we've gotta scram. Company's coming."
"Want a ride?" Grue offered. I took one look at the… things and shook my head. Fighting monsters was one thing, but that was taking it to a whole new level. Grue shrugged.
"Hey, whats your name?" Tattletale asked.
"I… haven't picked one yet."
"Well, our thanks once again, but you should probably scram. A Protectorate cape's on the way, and they're not gonna let a bad guy go just because they were duking out with another bad guy. See you around." With that, she gestured to the other girl, who whistled, causing the three dogs to begin leaping off before I could correct them and say I was a Hero.
…Well, damn. They were Teenagers, the kids Lung had been after. I'd died half a dozen times to save a group of villains, who had them mistaken me for one, too. What a fantastic start to cape hood.
So, Hi! Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think, I know I'm not that great of a writer, so if you see any flaws or typos please let me know so I can fix them. Any criticism, even non-constructive, is welcome.