I do not own Worm. I do not own DBZ.
Chapter One: Over Two Hundred
Taylor Hebert was gonna be a hero. She was going to be the strongest hero.
Scratch that, she was just straight going to be the strongest, ever, bar none.
Because she triggered with a particular Thinker ability that lead to some serious Trump bullshit.
Taylor understood movement, all kinds of movement. If she had the anatomy for it, she could immediately copy what she saw, perfectly.
She discovered it in the hospital. The doctor signed a document directly in front of her, and suddenly, like a switch was flipped, she understood perfectly how to sign any document she needed to with his name.
And she was disappointed almost to the point of tears. She had finally triggered and the only thing she could do with it was forge signatures. That was about as useful to being a hero as being able to defecate in different colors.
It was a week later, when she was at home, catching up on the homework she had missed, that she discovered that there was more to it than that.
A news report came on about a new dojo that was opening in New York. The master there offered one month of free lessons to anyone who signed up in the first week. It then went on to show the man practicing his art.
Somebody hit the switch again, and Taylor knew kung fu. Southern Preying Mantis Style, to be precise. She nearly jumped to her feet, her jaw hanging open. Knowing that her father, Danny, wouldn't be home for a good while, she set about putting into practice what she now knew.
She was slow and weak, but her form was perfect. And she knew, without a doubt in her mind, that if she kept it up, she wouldn't be slow and weak for long.
The next day she went to the library and looked up videos for every martial art she could find online. She spent nearly six hours there, just memorizing the styles.
By the time she left the library, Taylor knew more styles than any normal person could possibly learn without the aide of bullshit Thinker powers. She went home and thought about what she needed to do to get the most out of her seriously awesome power. She wasn't dumb enough to think that, just by learning every martial art there was, she would be able to take out the big leaguers around her town, let alone the Endbringers, but she could make a difference on the street level, if she put her mind to it.
The Sunday before her return to school, she started on a workout routine that emphasized speed and flexibility. She knew she would never be one of the bulky muscular types. She honestly didn't even want that. She wanted to be able to hit hard enough to put down the average street punk, and not much more.
The Monday of her return, her tormentors, the troublesome trio, started right in on her. Madison kept to her usual childish pranks, Sophia would roughly push her or trip her, and Emma would tear into her psyche with secrets that had been shared in good faith, years ago.
It was actually harder to take the abuse and keep moving than it would have been to break any of them in two. Taylor may not be strong and fast yet, but she knew each of her many, many, styles so intimately that it would make up for a lot of her missing fitness. THe next time Sophia tripped her down the stairs, it would be easier than you could imagine for her to make the girl break her own ankle in a way that would hamper her track running ability for the rest of her life.
Still, the moment that happened, she knew that the system would put her on the wrong side of the punishment. So she held back, ignored the treatment, and went about her own business.
For three months this continued. Her new training regime was all about improving her fitness. She didn't have to spend any time even practicing her martial arts. They had become a core part of her the moment she saw them. That gave her plenty of time to spend on getting in shape.
In just two months whatever slight pudge she might have had around her middle disappeared quicker than a mob witness. By the third, she was actually beginning to show some rather impressive muscle definition.
That was when something so stupid happened, she could still hardly believe it.
It had been a long day, dodging Sophia's infantile trips and pushes, and she needed to let off some real steam. So, that in mind, she made herself a sandwich, popped a soda, and sat down to watch some classic cartoons. Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer had her giggling childishly as she snacked.
When it came to an end, she was about to turn off the TV when a show started up that she usually wouldn't have an interest in, one of those old Japanese cartoons. The reason she didn't was because of the beginning sequence, a recap of the events in the last few episodes.
While she had been watching the ACME cartoons, her power had informed exactly how most of everything they did was impossible for her. The moment that the anime, TPC or some such, it told her that she could do everything she was currently seeing.
Even the Ki and Chi manipulation.
"No fucking way…" she breathed out.
Two hours later, Danny came home from work, the problems of the world weighing heavily on his shoulders. He dropped his keys on the counter, filled a cup with coffee and turned around to see his daughter grinning like a loon.
"Taylor?" he almost stuttered, "Is… is everything alright?" He hated to admit it, but his daughter didn't have much reason to be happy in the last three years. First, her mother died in a car crash, then, just when she was beginning to recover, she pulled back into her shell, deeper than ever. Even stopped hanging out with her best friend, Emma. Then, what with the locker a few months ago, it looked like the world was well on it's way to chewing his daughter up and spitting her out, and there was nothing he could do about it.
"I'm gonna be just fine," she said, still grinning, "In fact, I'm gonna be a god."
She didn't bother explaining that, instead, closing her eyes and focusing as hard as she could. She took what was widely known as the horse stance, legs spread to shoulder width and her fists at her sides, and regulated her breathing. It took so much effort, in fact of point that sweat began to breakout all across her body.
Just as Danny began to ask his question, he noticed it. His daughter, his baby girl, the last piece of his beloved wife, was emitting a bright red light from all over. Her entire body hummed with it. Small bits of dirt and dust swirled around her and her long, brown hair began to whip about in an unfelt wind.
After a few seconds, the light receded back into her body and the girl collapsed to her knees, breathing in shuddering breaths. She was also smiling again, even bigger than when he first saw her.
"Like I said," Taylor said, "I'm going to be a god."
It took a lot of fast talk for Taylor to convince her dad not to call someone about his little girl's god complex. In the end it took a full explanation.
And, unfortunately for the man, she didn't leave a thing out of it. Everything that had happened to her, leading up to the locker and then the events after it. The man was so furious he was literally shaking.
"Dad," Taylor said, smiling, laying her hand over his, "It's okay."
"How?" He nearly growled at her, glaring at the table to keep from accidentally directing his overpowering rage at the girl, "In what fucked up world is this okay, Taylor?"
"This one," she said, not losing her ear to ear grin, "Because of what they did, I'm gonna be stronger than anyone ever was. All it will take is time. Let me explain."
He looked up at her, his temper barely waning, but seeing her smile, he nodded.
"Right then. Ki is the power of the self. Chi is the power of the universe," she picked up a pan and, focusing for a moment, she ripped it in half, like so much paper, "That was Ki. It strengthens the body. makes it tougher, faster, stronger. It can never be used outside of the body," her focus narrowed again and after a few seconds a small mote of light appeared in the palm of her hand, "Chi is, like I said, the energy of all life. Think of it like excess. Whatever Ki you don't use, miniscule amounts that couldn't power a two watt battery, escape into the air. By itself, it's nothing. But when you add that to the excess energy of every living thing in every corner of the universe, it creates an invisible cloud of energy that is endless in its potential. Because a very small part of it is naturally yours, you can use some of it for yourself. In that anime they use it to great effect. I'm going to follow that example." Her smile couldn't be more winning if she tried.
Danny looked at her, then at the mote of light in her hand. He had to say, if she could do half of what the characters in that anime could, she'd be fine, he knew. Didn't mean he wanted her to be in danger, though.
"And I'm not even gonna jump on this right away," Taylor went on to say, "My Ki determines how much Chi I can manipulate. I'll need time to build up my reserves and make it so I can undoubtedly handle myself here. It'll take…" she thought about it for a moment, estimating figures in her head, "Four. Four months and I'll be ready to be a hero."
Danny hated that it would be so soon, but she had obviously very seriously considered what she was doing. She could already rip through metal with a little effort. He couldn't imagine what she could do when she put her mind to it.
"What about the bullying?" he asked finally. Even with superpowers, that was still a problem. He really didn't want his daughter to go to prison for smearing her tormentors across a hallway.
Taylor's smile, if anything, got even wider, "They can't touch me anymore. Seriously. Nothing they can do can hurt me. Ki on, I can take a baseball bat to the chest and barely have a bruise for the trying."
Danny sighed, shook his head and turned away from the girl. He took a couple of deep breaths.
"Four months," he said, turning back to her, "Four months, no sooner. You don't go fighting crime on the weekends, you see a mugging you call the cops. Four months straight and I'll call up the Protectorate myself, if that's what you want. Deal?"
The teen nodded, "Deal." They shook on it.
The next day at school, feeling more sure of her ability to withstand anything the three bitches threw at her, she decided to eat in the cafeteria for the first time in a year. Sack lunch in hand she headed towards a table with a spectacular view of Brockton Bay.
As she moved past the students lining up to get trays she noticed a well toned black leg stick itself in her path at the last possible moment. At this point she had three options.
A, ignore it, step over the leg, keep going.
B, go in, Ki on, and break the bitch's leg by walking through it.
C, pretend to trip, get back up, keep heading to her desired table.
The first would cause Sophia to try something else. Not to say that tripping would actually cause the psycho to leave her alone for the rest of the lunch period, let alone the rest of the day, but it wouldn't cause her to escalate things immediately. The second would just bring the PRT down on her head for Assault With a Parahuman Ability. The Birdcage would be immediately in her future. The third was just a momentary stop gap.
Seeing the faculty purposefully turn away from the scene, literally ignoring what was about to happen, she scowled. If only she could make them pay attention. If only there was some way to make sure they didn't ignore it. If only.
Taylor proceeded forward, pretending not to notice Sophia's leg in her path. She lost her balance, flinging her arms out, her sack lunch flying high into the air. Already she could hear a couple chuckles from Sophia's minions.
But instead of smashing face first into the ground, the teen tumbled into a roll. Her arms still out she snagged a folding chair of a nearby rack on her second roll. On the third, seemingly by accident, her foot kicked against on of the legs of the chair, unfolding it. On her fourth tumble, she dropped her bum into the chair and skidded backwards a few feet.
Looking around, apparently confused, she found herself right at the table she meant to occupy. Seeing that she wasn't hurt, she shrugged, her hands out to her sides. Her lunch, thrown high into the air at the beginning of this little display, fell into her palm right then, still perfectly intact.
She opened her eyes, a smirk on her face as she looked directly at Sophia. And winked.
A few seconds later there was laughter. Not derisive and cruel, though some was mocking. Most of it, however was in genuine amusement.
The trio, and Sophia Hess in particular, looked to be bristling with annoyance, if not rage.
But, just like Taylor had hoped, her ridiculous tumbling brought attention from the faculty. They couldn't act against her with that kind of scrutiny. At least, not right away.
Later that same day, in PE, Sophia tried to shoulder check her on the running track. Taylor only felt the barest pressure from the hit before she twirled away, turning it into a perfect pirouette. In dodgeball she dodged in the most inconspicuous ways. First, just as someone threw the ball at her, she ducked down to retie her left shoe. Then she turned away at the last second, thinking the coach had called her name. It went on like that until, for a final gambit, Taylor picked up a ball and made a show of going for a throw at Emma. Almost immediately, three balls were in the air, heading right for her face.
Taylor took a step forward, stepped on another stray ball and went head over heels, just in time for the three balls to pass her by without even skimming her. It also had the added effect of launching the ball she had tripped on right at a stunned Emma. In the middle of her flip, she also lost hold of the ball she'd aimed at her friend and it ended up hitting Sophia in the stomach.
The flip concluded with Taylor landing on her feet again, not a hair out of place and feigning confusion.
"Hess! Barnes! You're out!" the coach called. He was one of the few people employed at Winslow High that didn't take sides. Ever. He didn't care about the bullying, he just encouraged people to fight back instead.
Taylor waved at the two, putting her hand in perfect position to catch another ball thrown by Madison, knocking her out of the game as well.
And so it went. Sophia would try to accost her between classes, she'd turn it into a spectacle worthy of a professional circus without taking any damage. It was enough to get a girl to smile.
"The fuck are you grinning about, Hebert?!" Sophia demanded, her glare turning her otherwise pretty face into something hideous.
The teen blinked at that, then grinned wider, "I'm grinning because you just lost the game, Hess," she pulled her backpack over her shoulders, "Live long and prosper."
If the black girl had been mad before, she was now absolutely livid. It looked like the girl was going to leap at her and rip her throat out if given half the chance.
Emma's hand on her shoulder reined her in and Taylor began to feel panic. She could completely ignore Madison, she could make a show out of Sophia's brutal attacks, but what could she do against the worst of her tormentors?
Couldn't punch her. Would get in trouble for that. Couldn't ignore her. The bitch knew all of Taylor's weaknesses too well for that. The only thing she could do was try to think of things that made her happy.
Emma opened her mouth to gouge out pieces of her former friends soul.
"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens," Taylor started to say quietly, "Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens," she started to sing just under her breath.
"What are you-?"
"Brown paper packages tied up with strings," the skinny girl sang louder, interrupting the redhead, "These are a few of my favorite things!"
"You are such a frea-!"
"Cream colored ponies and crisp apple Streudels!" Taylor ratched the volume up to seven, bringing the attention of everyone in the hall down on them, "Doobells and sleigh bells and Schnitzel with noodles! Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings! These are a few of my favorite things!"
"Where do you-?!" Emma tried to step forward and stop Taylor from leaving, but she just sang louder, still.
"GIRLS IN WHITE DRESSES WITH BLUE SATIN SASHES! SNOWFLAKES THAT STAY ON MY NOSE AND EYELASHES! SILVER WHITE WINTERS THAT MELT INTO SPRINGS! THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOriTE THINGS!" Turning away, she heard Sophia shout incoherently and slam her fist into a locker, "WHEN THE DOG BITES, WHEN THE BEE STINGS, WHEN I'M FEELING SAD, I SIMPLY REMEMBER MY FAVORITE THINGS, AND THEN I DON'T FEEL SO BAD!" She continued walking and singing, her smile brighter and wider than when she discovered the full scope of her powers.
Victory was hers.