And so we return to the main attraction of this story. Not overpowered emotionally compromised twins, or unnervingly not-irritating Lisas, or even those complex inner thoughts Taylor has that are truly conundrums of philosophy (to her, at least).
We're here today to see one thing, and one thing only: We're here to watch Taylor s̶t̶a̶b̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶i̶t̶c̶h̶ murderize an asshole we love to hate (and assorted others who get in her way).
So let's get to it.
12:07 PM EST, Thursday, April 14, 2011
The car rolled to a halt at the side of the curb, the sound of tires crunching to a stop seeming loud in my ears along with the faint clunks of Lisa shifting through gears to put the car in park.
I unlocked my seat belt and pulled the handle for the door, simultaneously unlocking and opening it, letting the fresh April air into the car.
Everything seemed… sharper.
More real. More defined.
There was this energy in me. An electricity that had made me tap my fingers on my knee on the drive over just to be in motion, uncomfortable with being confined in the small space of the sedan. A pressure that wanted me to release it, to use it.
(I could almost taste it)
I knew what it was.
I just didn't know what to think of it.
Anticipation. Excitement. Longing.
(Aching 「emptiness」, needing to be filled)
It'd been less than twelve hours, but the feeling I'd had before assaulting Bakuda's apartment building was back, greater than ever.
(I reveled in it)
It was like the sort of anticipation I'd get before a soccer game, multiplied by a hundred, with an adrenaline high to match.
It was addicting.
(I wanted more)
"Hey." Halfway through standing up and getting out, a hand had grabbed my left one.
I looked back, Lisa sitting there with a conflicted expression on her face, more difficult to read than anything I'd seen before. She swallowed. "Just… be careful, okay?"
I nodded. She released my hand, and I continued getting out of the car, stepping fully onto the sidewalk and shutting the door. The twins looked at me from the back seat, full of… resignation and worry and concern and mild fear, but also… trust?
I put my hand against the glass of the window, Sayaka mirroring the gesture inside the car just as Lisa started pulling away from the curb.
Taking another deep breath, I stood up straighter.
My leather jacket was zipped up despite the warmer weather, to keep my veritable arsenal of knives hidden from sight, the mask in the back pocket of my jeans.
Coil's base was four blocks away, smack-dab in the center of downtown Brockton.
Technically, it was a sub-basement Endbringer shelter that —on paper at least— hadn't been finished, but in reality it had, and turned into an almost sadly stereotypical supervillain hideout sitting under an in-progress twenty-story tall office building.
Well, I guess there were stereotypes for a reason?
I shoved my hands in my pockets and started heading south, towards the building. It was a really nice day, actually. The air was clear, the sun was bright.
A perfect day for an all-out assault on a supervillain base.
(I wanted their deaths)
A block away from the construction site Lisa had told me about, I sat down at the bus stop, acting as if nothing was out of the normal.
For a moment, I just leaned back, tilting my head backwards and staying like that for a few minutes as I stared up at the blue sky, enjoying the day for what it was worth. Outwards, I probably looked calm and normal.
Inside, I couldn't have been any more different.
I was ready for this. I could do it.
For Lisa. For the twins. For my dad. For my friends. For me.
The earpiece I had beeped, and I pushed the tiny button on the side of it to answer the incoming call.
"We're at a park about four blocks east, next to the Century building, just so you know. You ready?"
I took a deep breath. "Yeah."
"Alright. Let's start this. I'm probably not going to be much help —Coil's got the best security money can buy— but I'll try to do what I can anyways."
I nodded, though she couldn't see me, and got up, resuming my walk towards the construction site that held the entrance.
Above towered a skeleton of steel and reinforced concrete that would eventually become covered over and finished into a twenty-story tall office complex for some company, but it was what was below that I cared about.
I moved down the alley on one side of the site until I wasn't seen easily from the street out front, backed up, and then ran forward, clambering up and over the tall chain-link fence easily, falling back to the ground on the other side.
Debris and construction equipment littered the area: bulldozers, mixers, an excavator. Unlike what one would expect in the middle of the day, there was nobody working on the site, the city still in enough of a state of emergency.
Gravel crunched under my feet as I made my way over to a padlocked metal hatch at the edge of the unfinished building. It sat, set in concrete, surrounded by bright yellow signs proclaiming warnings of hazardous gas and labeled 'drainage'.
Unzipping my jacket, I pulled out one of the shorter knives I had, pulled the lines towards where I wanted them, and then cut the lock off the latch. The hatch came up smoothly, like it was greased regularly, and revealed stairs leading down to what could only be the storm sewers based on the smell and damp.
"Alright, the stairway down, gate, room, door without a handle. Just like I told you."
I moved down the stairs and closed the hatch behind me, taking a breath in an attempt to calm my nerves before everything started.
It didn't really work.
At the base of the stairs and ten feet forward was a simple gate with metal bars that I simply cut through the latch of, the door swinging open and letting me continue down the long hallway.
There was a small room at the end of the hallway with a door I could see, and Lisa had told me there was a camera there as well. So as soon as I stepped in that room, I was going to have to start moving.
I stopped right before the room, out of sight of the camera.
"I'm in the entrance hallway, at the room with the door. Moving forward."
"Okay. I've almost got access to the cameras." Lisa hesitated. "Are you sure you can do this?"
…Really, Lisa? You're going to ask that now?
"Alright. Just… god. Okay." I could hear apprehension and nervousness in her voice.
I rolled my eyes even as the tension in my body reached an all-time high. Taking the small mask out of my back pocket, I pulled the straps around behind my neck and head, making sure it was seated properly and covering the lower half of my face. A hair-tie came out of my pocket and collected my hair so that it wouldn't be in the way.
Taking one last deep breath, I drew my black combat knife.
(A brush to paint the world red)
Squeezing the black rubber handle as I held it at my side, I started forward, walking, my strides gradually speeding up and lengthening until I was running forward, my eyes focused on one thing: that door.
I arrived at it in seconds, and didn't hesitate in slashing through the hinges, yanking the door off-balance and allowing it to topple open, revealing the interior of the sub-basement.
I was faced with a metal walkway inside a giant concrete room, crates and boxes all over the floor a level below, the room lit up with large industrial lights hanging from the ceiling. A dozen or so of Coil's soldiers were down on the ground level right below me, sitting on or resting against the crates, just talking to each other.
They all wore the same uniform, shades of gray with a touch of black, with thick vests that had raised collars to protect their necks. Ballistic vests, just like Lisa had gotten me, though mine didn't have the collar. Each one had an assault rifle within arm's reach, and Lisa had said that the guns had Tinkertech lasers attached to them. Some wore balaclavas, others didn't.
The walkway I stood on bordered the large room in its entirety, a staircase down to the first floor at both ends—where I stood and the far end to the right. Doors were at odd places around the walkway, and I could see a couple set in the walls on the first floor as well, though my view of those were mostly blocked by the crates. There were only a few soldiers standing around on the walkway, and a couple looked to be guarding a door or two.
There were more soldiers in other areas on the floor of the room, but there were also people with clipboards and crowbars (workers?) and even a lady in a suit.
Everything went quiet when the door behind me hit the floor with an extremely loud thump.
"Hey!" One of the soldiers on the walkway had turned to look at me, and was reaching for the gun hanging at his side from its strap on his shoulder.
I felt a grin form on my face behind the mask as anticipation crackled through me, and a sense of release at finally having a target to point it all towards, of no longer needing to hold it back anymore.
(All I wanted was their deaths)
A single deep breath as the muscles in my legs tightened in preparation.
I looked, stepped, and I was gone.
She felt helpless, despite the fact that she was already doing everything she possibly could.
It just didn't feel right sitting there in the park with these quiet girls, the weather too beautiful and nice, not matching the mood at all, not matching the utter massacre she was watching through multiple camera angles.
Taylor was a blur, an indistinct figure of red accented by the intermittent flash of silver and steel, painting a portrait of chaos and murder with bright vermilion arterial blood as her medium.
The mercenaries didn't stand a chance.
She'd known that Taylor was good, but not like this, outclassing Coil's people to the point that they looked comical. She had no training, no real experience, but her speed and utter lethality more than made up for it.
A minute and a half, and the upper walkway had been cleared, bullets starting to fly from those on the floor.
Without breaking stride, Taylor vaulted the rail of the walkway at a point where none of Coil's soldiers had a good line of fire, and dropped the twenty feet to the floor, rolling to break her fall and bleed off the excess kinetic energy. She didn't pause for an instant, darting around a corner and running on the side of one of the crates as she approached a group of eight so fast they didn't have time to react properly.
Twelve seconds later and the eight men were dead, their mangled body parts littering the floor behind Taylor.
No pause, no break.
She simply moved on.
People were screaming by that point, gunfire creating a random percussion, lasers beginning to fire now that they'd charged enough.
All towards Taylor, who just wove through crates and boxes, wood chips and metal flying everywhere, but unerringly tracking down every single person with that sensing ability of hers.
Lisa held back a shudder. She was more than glad that Taylor was on her side.
Taylor yelled, jumping from a crate corner into the first man of the third group she engaged, plunging her knife into his chest, not even pausing as a she swept to the left and sliced through the next's throat.
Lisa could see the men attempting to adjust their guns, to get a bead on her, but Taylor blurred, crossing the eight feet between her and the next pair in an instant, her knife slicing through gun and fingers alike before twirling around and cutting through the body the fingers had belonged to.
Lisa held back a second shudder as the fourth man was cut, falling apart in separate pieces.
The fifth didn't even have time to react before Taylor gutted him.
A portrait of violence and death. An example of Taylor's lethality.
A showing of what lengths Taylor would go to for her friends.
The next seven minutes were filled with the same thing, repeated over and over until finally Taylor stopped, every single one of the soldiers and workers who'd tried to attack her dead and more often than not, dismembered.
Some soldiers had emerged from the doors at the sides of the room sporadically throughout the fight, but all on the lower level, and they met the same fate as all the others.
Not one of the civilians had been touched, though vomit was beside more than a few, most frozen in shock and fear sitting on the floor and shuddering. A few had managed to keep their wits enough to run towards the nearest possible exit.
And Taylor, Taylor simply looked around once at the position in the middle of the last squad of thirteen she'd killed —admiring what she'd done, Lisa's power whispered— and looking up at the ceiling, blood spattered all over her, including her face and mask.
Lisa had a feeling that if that mask hadn't been there, she would have licked her lips.
After a few moments, though, the girl seemed to regain her wits, looking down at herself and hissing, a muttered "fuck" coming over the phone line.
Taylor reached down and tore off a length of cloth from one of the soldier's fatigues, one that wasn't bloody, and wound it around her upper left arm, tying it off with her teeth.
Lisa's eyes widened as she watched the cloth start to tint red.
"You owe me a new jacket," Taylor stated calmly, like she was just commenting on the weather, clenching her hand open and closed as though making sure it still worked. All Lisa could do was goggle at the fact that Taylor had gotten hit only once in the bloodbath.
Combat precog, her power whispered. Extremely potent. Instantaneous reaction speed and perfect muscle control. Instinctive understanding of close-quarters combat and total efficiency in movement. Maximum speed bursts at over a hundred miles an hour.
God fucking damn. The girl was built for her abilities.
Lisa laughed over the phone line at the sheer absurdity of what Taylor had just said. "Taylor, I'll buy you all the jackets you want when this is over."
Taylor nodded, and wiped her knife off on the remnants of the guy's shirt she'd taken her strip from.
"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage," a smooth voice said, though it was tinged with emotion. Irritation and anger. The voice came from nowhere and echoed through the large room. Taylor straightened, looking around.
"Loudspeaker system. That's Coil. He's definitely not happy," Lisa told the girl, and Taylor nodded in recognition. "I'm trying to find where he is, but I don't think he has cameras in his office." She flipped through the various feeds, before sucking in her breath. "Taylor, go up to the second level and over to the wall opposite the one you came in from. The door that had a soldier next to it. Go in there. Second door on the right down that hall. Quickly, I'm not sure if he'll have anybody else going there or not. Probably will."
Taylor nodded and took off, her boots leaving a trail of wet red footprints behind.
"Would you give me the honor of knowing your name, Miss…?" Coil spoke.
Taylor didn't say anything.
"I see… Perhaps we could come to some arrangement. I'm sure there's no need for any further violence or loss of life." Lisa snorted. The words were just amusing when juxtaposed with Taylor's blood-soaked state. "I'd be more than willing to offer you a counteroffer to whatever you are being paid. Triple seems reasonable?"
Taylor remained stoic, following Lisa's directions to the door in the wall.
Lisa saw a balding man coming down the hall, heading directly to the door she'd told Taylor about. "Taylor, there's someone in the hall, trying to get there before you." The girl sped up, reaching the door and slicing through the deadbolt, pulling the door open while the man unlocked and entered the room, his figure visible from the camera inside the room now.
"I'm not quite sure what I've done to receive such attention," Coil said, anger beginning to be replaced by concern that he hid well. Considering Lisa's power and Taylor's own empathic abilities and natural understanding of people's emotions, though, Coil might have well been announcing what he was feeling out loud.
"No, no!" High-pitched yelling was audible from inside the room, Taylor speeding up and running the thirty feet to the door, the man emerging with his hand around a small, thin arm as he dragged the girl Lisa had seen in the small room out.
His eyes landed on Taylor, and his face visibly paled. Taylor didn't even break stride as she stabbed her knife into the man's chest, the man instantly releasing the young girl's arm and collapsing, eyes glassy.
The girl latched onto Taylor's waist, a hurried, teary "thank you, thank you, thank you" muffled by Taylor's jacket and shirt, but still audible over Lisa's earpiece.
Lisa flipped through the video feeds some more, paused, and stepped back, noticing how a set of cameras had a deliberate blind spot on a patch of hallway.
"I think I've found Coil, Taylor. Down that hall, turn left at the T-junction, right at the first hallway, and then there's likely a door in the middle of that hall on the right."
"Okay," Taylor said calmly, starting to move in that direction.
The little girl tightened her hold on Taylor, still shuddering. "Please don't leave me. Please. Sixty-seven percent chance I die if you don't take me. Eighty-six percent chance I live if you do."
A precog. A precog that synergizes almost perfectly with Coil's power.
Lisa felt more than a little pity for the girl.
Taylor stared at her for a moment, and then nodded and sheathed her knife after wiping it on her left pant-leg, picking up the girl and setting her on her hip with her right arm like she weighed nothing more than a sack of flour. The girl didn't seem to care about the blood on Taylor at all, and Lisa had to wonder what had made her like that. Shock, more than likely.
Still, Taylor sped up to a jog, and then a run, turning left fifty feet down the corridor and then right after another twenty, coming to a halt where Lisa couldn't see her after thirty feet.
"Yeah, there's a door. And I can feel one person behind it, about fifteen feet in." Taylor said, Lisa hearing a light sound of feet tapping on cement as Taylor put the little girl down. "The door's locked; I'll just cut it open."
Lisa smirked, and then shifted from the video cameras to trying to get into other parts of Coil's systems. She'd bet her entire savings from working with the Undersiders that Coil had countermeasures and contingencies, and that at least one of those was some sort of self-destruct.
"Be careful. Coil is extremely slippery. I'm trying to get into his system and block anything he does to try and destroy the complex." And steal everything he's got at the same time. Well, everything except what was managed by the Number Man. They'd be able to claim that by right of conquest. "I'll pay attention, but don't let him talk. He'll be trying to stall and leverage his power as much as possible."
"Got it. Slippery bastard, don't let him talk," Taylor summarized.
"Yup." Lisa floundered for what to say next. Good luck? Taylor didn't need that. Have fun? that was almost guaranteed, with what Lisa had seen so far. She finally settled on, "Let's finish this."
I didn't give a second thought to drawing my knife and slicing open the door's lock the same way I had to get into the hall from the giant room. The little girl stood behind me, shivering in a mixture of fear, worry, gratitude, and hope.
It reminded me far too much of the state I'd found the twins in the night before. Cold fury crawled through my veins just thinking about it, only tempered by the fact that the man responsible for her state would be dead soon.
With that thought, I yanked open the door, moving in slowly, cautious of any surprises Coil might have had.
The room was medium-sized, not very furnished; it was bare cement like the rest of the complex, but with two chairs in front of a sturdy wooden desk with a pair of computer monitors.
Behind the desk was a leather chair, and next to that, standing, was a rail-thin —almost skeletal— man dressed in a black body suit with a white snake wrapping around it. The head of the snake started right above two depressions in the costume where his eyes were, and the tail wrapped around his left leg and ended at his ankle.
The right hand sitting on the back of the chair next to him was clenched tightly, and his posture screamed worry and fear tinged with indignation and anger.
I didn't give a fuck.
His hands rose in front of him in the universal sign for surrender. "Now, please—"
"Ninety-nine point nine repeating percent chance you die here," the girl behind me said with just a little bit of vindictiveness slipping into her voice.
That was all he got out before I let the lines rise up and moved across the fifteen feet between us.
Coil's life ended with my arm outstretched over the desk and my knife buried in his Line.
The fury and energy in me seemed to calm with his death. I let my knife tilt downwards, his body sliding off of it and landing on the cold, hard floor in a heap.
"Wait, was that it?" Lisa asked. "Did you get him?"
"He's dead," I replied.
"Alright, good. I just got done working through his firewalls. It looks like he didn't set off anything destructive I can see, probably because he was sure he could negotiate and didn't bank on you getting him before he could talk. There is some sign of him beginning some sort of automated process to start erasing stuff, but that's easy enough to kill before anything too important gets lost. There's probably off-site backups I can get to with enough effort as well. Coil wouldn't start something like that withou—-"
And then something roared, the floor shaking. The little girl I'd found ran up behind me and grabbed the back of my jacket.
"Lisa. What was that?" I asked, a little freaked out but trying to keep my wits. She'd said there wasn't anything Coil had done that would cause something like that.
The blonde on the other end of the phone fell silent, and I could hear rapid clicking. "I'm, I'm looking right now, there can't be…"
There was another roar, the shuddering stronger this time.
"Oh. Oh fuck," Lisa whispered, and I could hear the fear. "Shit, Taylor, you need to get out of there now."
"What? What is it?" I asked, already picking up the girl and moving towards the door.
"Coil brought the Travelers to town."
A/N: April 14th really just isn't a quiet day for my Taylors, it seems. Seriously. Relentless had to deal with Deathwing, coming out to her Dad, and some other stuff that you haven't seen yet, and AFHB!Taylor had to fight and kill Bakuda, kill Oni-Lee, find her friends, go up against Snake Boy, and now deal with Literal Worst Team.
The description of Coil's base comes from 7.11, though I'm taking some liberties.
Next chapter is Indivisible 3.0.2, giving us a break to breathe a little before getting back into all this high-tension action. There's a total of four chapters before the Arc is over and we get to interludes: Indivisible 3.0.2, Rend 3.4, Indivisible 3.0.3, and Rend 3.5.
As with Zizster and Transposition, this story now has a TVTropes page! Courtesy of Donquill and The Literary Lord over on SV.
Comments and critiques are highly appreciated, as I think you all know by now.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter!