At three o'clock I flew back to the New Wave storefront. This time there was a receptionist at the front desk. Her name tag read "Nikki," so she must have been the one I talked to on the phone the other day. I greeted her and she talked to Lady Photon on her headset briefly. Lady Photon emerged from the back and invited me to follow her. We went to the same conference room and most of the other New Wave women were there in their costumes: Glory Girl, Panacea, and Laserdream.

I again noticed the feedback from Glory Girl and the echo that it caused in the emotions of the others. It was strongest in Panacea.

After greeting each other and handing off the completed paperwork, Lady Photon said, "We don't really have any powers testing facilities, but there's an old abandoned area of the docks we usually use for target practice. It's near one of the old husks that was picked over a decade ago. If you don't mind we can go there and test out some things."

I agreed.

As we went out through the back exit of the building, I said, "Four members of New Wave don't fly, right? Panacea, Brandish, Flashbang, and Manpower. I can easily transport all of them through the air at once. I flew my dad here last night."

"Can you test it on Glory Girl, Laserdream, and me?" she asked. "It's not that I don't trust you, but I can't imagine you've had lots of time to test it on multiple people."

I agreed and lifted the three of them and myself into the air. We flew around the block before coming back to where Panacea was waiting. My empathy told me she was grumpy about being left behind. It also told me that my "passengers" were all a little unnerved by the experience, but not as much as Dad had been.

"That was weird," Glory Girl said. "I had full range of motion all over my body, but my torso just followed you around."

"I won't lie," Laserdream said. "It was a little freaky to be in the air under someone else's power with nothing underneath me."

"Still, it would give us a lot more flexibility with deployment," Lady Photon said.

Panacea still asked to be carried by Glory Girl. I was starting to understand that being dragged through the air with no visible means of support would take some getting used to, so I was not too offended by her sticking with her sister.

When we reached the portion of the docks that overlooked the Boat Graveyard, Lady Photon said, "We don't really have the resources to do Brute testing safely. It would be best if you could get the Protectorate or PRT to do it for you."

"We could fight all out and then Ames can fix us up," Glory Girl said.

Lady Photon shook her head. "While that looks fine on paper, if one of you makes a mistake, it could lead to something Panacea can't fix. Best to do it in a controlled environment." She looked at me. "I'm guessing you have authority issues due to what happened to you at school and the fact that you asked to join us, but I'd recommend we work with them to at least test that part of your power."

I sighed and nodded. "You're not wrong that I have some issues with the PRT and the way they do things, but I'm willing to work with them. Miss Militia already offered me powers testing, but I wanted to talk to you first because I wasn't sure how closely you worked with them."

"We tend to work pretty closely with the Protectorate in general, but Glory Girl and, to a lesser extent, Panacea work with the Wards frequently," Lady Photon said.

"Should I call Miss Militia or should we do it through the team?" I asked.

"I'll have Nikki set it up," she replied. "Is there any time that's better for you than any other?"

"I'm taking the week off from school," I replied. "Anytime is fine."

"Do you have a phone?" she asked.

I shook my head. "Dad doesn't like them, since there was one involved in Mom's death."

I felt sympathy from all of the other girls. "I'm sorry," Lady Photon said, "but you realize that one is pretty much required for heroing, right?"

I nodded. "I know. I'm pretty sure Dad knows too."

"We get special Tinker-tech phones from the PRT at cost as affiliated heroes," she said. "They have special caller IDs so that the PRT knows that you aren't doing a crank call. They can't be tracked unless a special beacon app is activated and they work within Faraday cages. They also get Endbringer Alerts and similar warnings pushed to them. I'll get you one when we get back to the storefront. New Wave will cover the cost as long as you don't make crazy international calls." She smiled.

"Alright," I said. "What are we going to test?"

"I'd like to test everything although like I said, we'll leave most of your Brute testing to be done at the Protectorate or PRT," Lady Photon said.

"Alright," I said. "What's first?"

"First of all," she said, "do you mind if Panacea examines you?"

That made me kind of nervous, but I was expecting it. "Okay. What do you need me to do?"

"Just give me your hand and I'll look at your health and biology," Panacea said.

I held out my hand and she took it.

"Odd," she said with a small frown.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"It's not wrong, per se," she said. "It's just that I can't find your corona pollentia or your gemma. Those are the structures in brains that allow parahumans to use their powers. Obviously, you're a parahuman. You triggered in front of multiple witnesses and you have powers. They're not exactly the same in every cape, but I can usually find them."

She must have sensed my nervousness, since she gave me a small smile. "There are a few others that have been that way too. Usually they're the ones with extreme physical changes, so you match for that."

I knew it had more to do with the source of my powers than my biology, but I let it go. No need for them to think I was crazy.

"You'll be happy to know that your genetics are completely human," she said. "That means you could conceivably have children and they would be normal, at least until they triggered."

"Really?" asked Laserdream. "I understood that a lot of Case 53s had altered genetics."

"It is common," Panacea replied, "but in her case her powers are maintaining her body shape rather than her genetics."

"How is that possible?" asked Glory Girl. "I thought your genes made you who you are."

"Not directly," her sister answered. "Your genes direct your growth and control your active processes. If I changed it so that you had 'short genes,' it wouldn't change your height because at 17 you've already reached your full growth. However, if I changed your pigmentation genes, you'd gradually change skin and hair color as cells were replaced. Plus, not all genes are active all the time. Some are only expressed in the womb and some only as an adult. Alicorn has normal human genes, they're just being expressed in a weird way thanks to her power. She doesn't have genes for four legs, but the genes she does have are maintaining her four legs in a pretty human fashion."

I looked down at my legs. "What about things like my hooves? There aren't human genes for those and they grow, right?"

"As far as I can tell, your power is making creative use of your toenail genes for those," she responded. "Same with your hair genes and the fur on your lower body."

"Weird," I said. The feeling was echoed by Laserdream and Glory Girl.

Lady Photon shook her head. "We should look at your actual powers. You're kind of a grab bag aren't you? Brute, Shaker, Thinker, Mover, Changer. What do you think would be the easiest?

I thought about it. "I think my Brute and Mover ratings are actually part of my Shaker power, but the easiest thing to demonstrate would be my limited Changer power."

I changed into my pre-powers form. "This is what I used to look like," I commented.

"You say you can only maintain this for about an hour?" Lady Photon asked.

"Yes," I said. "I can also change into other girls my age." I changed into Vicky, Amy, and then a young Sarah.

"Can you use your other powers like that?" Panacea asked.

I tried to lift myself up and then Panacea. It did not work. I shook my head.

"I think the PRT would actually categorize this as a Stranger power rather than a Changer one, since it doesn't help you fight," Panacea said.

"Have you timed it out yet?" Lady Photon asked.

I shook my head, embarrassed. "My centaur body is hard to fit in bathrooms, so I haven't dared to run my time limit dry in case I have an emergency, but I have a clear feeling of time counting down when I use it. The hour limit is just a guess, but I think it's pretty close." I had noticed the subconscious countdown timer the last time I had gone to the bathroom and was thankful that the power did give me a sense of how much time I had left or else I could see myself unintentionally running it dry to my embarrassment.

"The PRT would probably rate this ability as Stranger 2," Panacea commented. "If it weren't for the time limit and age limitations, the rating would be much higher. If the form you can take ages with you, they would probably up the threat rating when you become an adult, because changing into any 21-year-old woman is a lot more useful for infiltration than changing into any 16-year-old girl."

"Especially since a lot of women look about the same from about 18 to 30 and for some the range is even wider—especially with makeup," commented Laserdream.

"Can we test her Mover rating now?" Glory Girl asked excitedly.

Lady Photon looked at me and I nodded.

Glory Girl whooped and took to the air. "Race you!"

I smiled at her enthusiasm and also took to the air. Lady Photon rose beside us while Laserdream kept Pancea company on the ground.

"Okay," she said. "We know that the distance to Captain's Hill from here is ten miles in that direction." She pointed inland to the west. "Fly over the peak of it and come back here. I'll time you."

"Okay," I agreed.

"Ready. Set. Go!"

Glory Girl and I took off. I outpaced her, but not by a huge amount. I made it back to Lady Photon and Panacea in just over thirteen minutes, while Glory Girl took just over fifteen. The blonde complained good-naturedly about losing the race.

"Roughly 90 miles per hour," Lady Photon said after a quick calculation on her phone.

"Do your wings help you fly?" Panacea asked curiously.

"I think they might give me a boost in speed," I answered, "but they're most useful in helping me maneuver at high speed by giving me control surfaces with which to help me turn and brake. At low speed my power just pushes me in whatever direction I want to go."

She nodded thoughtfully.

"How many people can you carry with you and how does your ground speed compare?" asked Lady Photon.

"I've kept up in traffic where the posted speed was 45 miles per hour with no problem," I replied. "So fifty is pretty much a guarantee. I think I could almost manage my flying speed. With the way my powers affect my inertia, I don't think there's much difference between in the air and on the ground other than maneuverability. As far as numbers of people I can take with me go, twenty? Thirty? Maybe more? It's more limited by the number of people I can fit in my ten-foot radius sphere of control than anything."

Lady Photon quirked an eyebrow.

I shrugged. "My Shaker power is insanely strong within the limited volume I can control."

"Your Mover rating would probably be a 3 for your flight and high-speed running—maybe more depending on how well you can maneuver," Panacea said, "but the fact that you can carry so many people with you would probably bump it up to at least a 4."

"Can you describe your enhanced senses?" Lady Photon asked.

"Well, my sight, hearing, and smelling are all quite a bit better than they used to be. My eyes adjust their focus pretty well now, so that I can see things on the ground while I'm flying and I can read things at about three or four times the distance that I used to be able to when I was wearing my glasses. My hearing range is also about three to four times improved and is a lot more sensitive. I can discriminate smells a lot better now too, although I'm still identifying what's what. I also have an absolute sense of where everything is within my Shaker volume. My empathy is pretty sensitive, I think. I can pick up pretty fine nuances as to what people are feeling. The range on that is perhaps twice what my Shaker range is?"

"Can you tell when someone is lying?" Glory Girl asked curiously. The question made all four of my new teammates nervous—Panacea more than the other three.

"Not explicitly," I responded, "but I can tell when someone's being sincere and when their nervousness increases. I think with experience I could become a pretty good polygraph."

We did some testing of my senses. My vision was at least 20/5—being able to see at 20 feet what most people saw at 5—if not better. I could hear a whispered conversation at 20 feet. We could not think of a good smell test, so we skipped that. We decided to postpone exploring my telekinetic sense until we looked into my Shaker abilities. We tested out my ability to test lies by my teammates telling stories. It was actually pretty easy to figure out the falsehoods they added because they always "tensed up" emotionally before trying to slip something in.

"Your enhanced senses would probably earn you a Thinker rating of 1," Panacea said, "but the empathy probably makes it a 3, if only for the ability to act as a lie detector."

"Can we move onto the fun stuff now?" Glory Girl asked. "I want to test her Brute rating."

"Before we do," I said, "I noticed another aspect of my powers that I forgot to mention. Stuff doesn't stick to me. All the blood and trash from the locker just fell off me. I didn't even need to clean it off. I've also noticed that I don't have to dry off after a shower. The water just falls off me. That's a minor Breaker effect, right?"

"That's right," Panacea said. "It seems like a small thing, but it's probably at least Breaker 2 if it works with Containment Foam. That would also probably up your Brute rating because it makes you harder to control by standard Brute containment methods."

Glory Girl got a wicked smile on her face and said, "Be right back."

She flew off and was gone for about five minutes while we made some rough plans for my Brute and Shaker testing. She came back with a bucket of goopy mud.

"That's just mud, right?" I asked in trepidation.

"Yep," she said cheerfully as she tossed the contents of the bucket at me.

Reluctantly, I let it through and allowed it to hit my flank. However, it did not stick and quickly all dripped onto the ground, leaving my fur pristine white.

"Huh. I wonder if it works for dry stuff too?" she muttered.

She zipped off and returned with her bucket filled with dry dirt. She flung the contents at me again. This time at my front. The dirt just fell off me—including my shirt, which was a relief.

"Need to test something sticky next," she muttered.

"Enough, Vicky!" I exclaimed. "No more."

I scooped up some of the mud with my telekinesis and flung it at her. It hit her right in the chest.

"Hey!" she shouted. "Why the freak did you do that? It won't just slide off me."

I smirked. "Maybe I was tired of being a guinea pig."

"Really, Vicky?" Panacea said with a smirk. "'Freak?'"

"'Freak?'" Glory Girl repeated. "I meant to say 'fudge.' Wait! Why can't I swear?" She proceeded to emit a series of "fake cusses."

Laserdream giggled and Panacea smirked. Lady Photon frowned. "You really can't swear? It's not just a show for the unicorn?" asked Laserdream

The others all became serious then they looked at me.

"I'm not doing it," I protested. "At least not on purpose."

Panacea and Laserdream each tried to cuss, but only watered-down words came out of their mouths.

Lady Photon scowled at them. "Trying to use foul language is not acceptable behavior for heroes."

My mother the English professor had always said that casual use of foul language showed a lack of imagination and a small mind. She also said that it cheapened the impact that it could have in certain situations when it was advantageous to swear. If someone like Dragon or Miss Militia started to swear, everyone paid attention because it was so unexpected. Someone like Skidmark, not so much. I tended to agree with my mother and not just because she was my mom. However, in the interest of scientific experimentation, I decided to give it a try. . . and found out that I could not even think of any. I had a sense of what Glory Girl meant when she said "freak" or "fudge," but could not recall the specific word, nor any of the words that Panacea and Laserdream were attempting to say. I frowned. This was the type of thing that I was becoming aware that Elmindra saw as a good prank. I sighed—at least it fit with my unicorn theme.

The others all looked at me.

"Do you have any insights, Alicorn?" Lady Photon asked.

"Err," I vocalized embarrassedly. "I tried to cuss, just to see if I could, but I can't think of any swear words to say, which is new."

"It stands to reason this is your fault, Miss Symbol-of-Purity," Panacea snarked.

Glory Girl giggled.

"Would this be considered a Master effect?" Laserdream asked hesitantly.

"It depends," Panacea said slowly. "If not being able to swear in her presence was the extent of it, in a Protectorate or allied cape, the PRT would probably roll it into her Shaker ability." Her emotions spiked, which caused me to notice a glance that she flicked over at her sister. "In a villain or rogue, they would probably rate it as Master 0."

"Why give someone a 0 rating?" I asked curiously.

"The PRT usually doesn't publish Threat Ratings," Lady Photon explained, "however, they do frequently publish power categories of villains in public warnings. Labeling someone a Master could be useful to discourage sympathy."

"That hardly seems fair," I said.

"Hey, they're villains," Glory Girl said. "Who cares if it's fair to them."

I frowned. Being fair was what made our judicial system work. Arbitrary punishments and curtailing of long-held rights were the primary reasons behind the American Revolution. My parents both railed on politicians who claimed to be "tough on crime" by proposing "zero tolerance" when what was really needed was to actually follow through on existing laws. As someone who had actually been punished for "making a scene" under "zero tolerance" rules while my bullies got away scot free, I realized that harsh rules were used as tools to hurt the innocent if the people implementing them were corrupt or lazy. If the people running things actually did their jobs and exercised good judgement, those types of policies weren't actually needed. Double standards offended my sense of justice, even if most of those punished by them were the bad guys.

"As for the 0 rating," Panacea added, "causing people not to be able to cuss is hardly threatening."

"Unless you're Skidmark," Laserdream offered. "I expect he would go into seizures if you took away his ability to be vulgar."

"How can we tell if that's the only Master effect she has?" asked Lady Photon.

"Almost all Master effects leave traces in the brain, which I can see, even if I can't change it," Panacea said. Her emotions were conflicted between guilt and resolve as she said that. "I can take Vicky until we're out of range and see if I can tell anything."

Left unspoken was the fact that some Masters left permanent changes to their victims.

"Let's try that to start," Lady Photon said.

Glory Girl and Panacea walked off hand in hand with Glory Girl muttering "fake" expletives under her breath. My enhanced hearing meant that I kept hearing her long after I would have. They kept going until they were perhaps two and half times farther than when I stopped hearing them. Of course, if they had been louder, my range would have been farther. Not long after they had stopped, Glory Girl scooped up Panacea and flew back with her.

"The good news is that it's not permanent," said Glory Girl as she set down her sister.

"And why would you need to swear at will, young lady?" asked her aunt with a scowl. "As a public hero, you're supposed to be setting an example for others."

Glory Girl looked sheepish, but did not offer up any excuses.

"The better news," said Panacea, "is that I can pinpoint the effect your powers have on the brain. It's small and it only appears to be active when someone actually attempts to swear within your 'anti-swearing zone.'"

"We aren't going to have any other problems with unicorn myths, are we?" asked Laserdream facetiously. "Men or non-virgins that touch you aren't going to get gored or struck down, are they?"

I rolled my eyes. I could not see Elmindra carrying the tropes in that direction. She was chaotic, but not mean. "I don't think so."

"Maybe her Breaker power is so that the blood doesn't stick to her when she gores the impure," suggested Glory Girl jokingly.

We all looked askance at her. She laughed sheepishly. "That was in poor taste, wasn't it?" she said.

We all nodded.

"Where'd you find the bucket?" I asked. I wanted to change the subject and I had been wondering about it.

Glory Girl shrugged and said, "There's trash all over this part of the Docks. I knew I'd find something if I looked hard enough." She grinned. "Should we see if your Brute package comes with super strength?"

I glanced at Lady Photon and she nodded.

Vicky led me to a place where some rebar was sticking out of some crumbling concrete. She grabbed a hold of a bar and twisted it back and forth quickly until metal fatigue caused it to break. She handed it to me.

Curiously I held it in my hand. I could tell that the rusted metal was rough, but gripping it did not tear at my skin. I said, "I can tell the metal is abrasive, but my skin seems to be protected."

"It's probably an unconscious use of your Shaker field," Panacea said. "Your biology did not have any indicators that you're physically tougher."

I nodded and grabbed the bar more firmly and easily bent it.

"Woohoo!" exclaimed Glory Girl. "Another full Alexandria Package like yours truly."

Alexandria was the archetype by which all flying Brutes were measured. She was super strong, super tough, and could fly super fast. She was also reported to be a fairly high-end Thinker, but for some reason that was not considered part of the "package" when applied to other parahumans.

"Like I said earlier, we would probably need to use the Protectorate facilities to get any accurate measure of your Brute abilities," Lady Photon said.

"Didn't you say they don't hand out ratings?" I asked her.

"They do if you come in for power testing," she answered. "Very few independents or other teams would do so if they didn't. Of course, if they later revise your ratings due to new data, they usually won't say. Let's move on to your Shaker abilities."

We found a spot that had lots of rubble and trash lying around. I picked all of it up that was within my range. My telekinetic sense told me that I was lifting 47 objects. I began to move them around in various patterns, making designs and then making new ones.

"That's truly impressive," Lady Photon commented. "You can move them independently?"

"I can," I said.

"What's your limit?" asked Laserdream.

"I haven't found it unless I try and control gases," I admitted.

Laserdream and Glory Girl moved around behind me and threw rocks at me, but as soon as they entered my telekinetic field, I stopped them and added them to the objects I was juggling.

After a bit, I spotted a dumpster across the street and walked toward it carrying my load. The lid was closed. I frowned as I concentrated my awareness on the edge of the lid and lifted. I smiled as the lid moved independently of the dumpster as a whole. I put the trash into the dumpster. I was not sure if the dumpster was still serviced, but at least it got the trash off the street. There was not enough room for the rocks and rubble in the dumpster, so I tossed them into a rocky field across the street.

"That field is outside your range, isn't it?" asked Lady Photon.

I had not really thought about it, but it was. I shrugged. "I added enough momentum to it before it left my control."

"How much momentum can you add?" asked Laserdream in morbid curiosity.

I picked up a screw that was on the ground by the dumpster and shot it at a sheet metal wall across the street. It punched through with a sharp crack. I gulped. I could have "charged" it more. I picked up a brick and threw it into a cinder block wall. The brick punched through the wall with a crash. The wall around the impact was cracked and looked like it might fall over.

"They might give you a Blaster rating just for your rail gun potential," Crystal said faintly.

"Certainly, if you used it like that," her mother said.

"I would need to practice before I used this strategy," I stated. "It has way too much potential for collateral damage and excessive force."

"That's a good idea," Lady Photon said emphatically. "Until then, only use it on Endbringers and other life or death situations."

"I honestly don't know what the PRT would rate your Shaker ability," Panacea admitted. "It's impressively strong within its range, but the range is relatively short. I can see, however, that with some preparation and imagination, you could do a lot with it."

"The ratings are a measure of threat," Lady Photon said. "The same raw abilities given to different people present differing amounts of danger. The rating for a lot of capes doesn't settle down until they are experienced with using their powers."

"That doesn't even consider that Brutes like us always get up close and personal," Glory Girl added, "so a short range is not that much of a hindrance."

"Do you want the Brute testing done at the PRT or the Protectorate facilities?" Lady Photon asked.

"Protectorate," I responded. "I was impressed when I talked to Miss Militia. I'm not saying anything bad about the PRT, but I wouldn't mind meeting her again."

Lady Photon looked pensive for a moment. "We should also warn them about your 'anti-swearing field' too. It would not be good if they found out without us telling them."

I frowned and then sighed. "Alright," I said. "I can see how that would be the case. Go ahead and warn them."