As a kid I wanted to grow up to be Alexandria. If young me had found out I was going to get powers in highschool she would have been ecstatic. It sucked that I had gotten my powers on one of the worst days of my life but I could have dealt with that if my powers weren't so pathetic.
At first I hadn't even realized I had gotten powers. Wasn't like they had helped me get out of the locker. It was only when I was laying in a hospital bed afterwards and the nurse had commented that it was odd that I wasn't dehydrated or injured that I thought something might be off. I specifically remembered cutting my hand on a protruding nail in the locker and yet there wasn't a scratch on me. I felt fine.
I had been let out of the hospital the next morning, perfectly healthy. Dad hovered over me the entire day. I could understand why he was doing it but that didn't mean it wasn't annoying. Testing to see if I had a healing power while Dad was home was just no. With my luck he would have walked in on me while I was cutting myself with a knife and he'd assume I was committing suicide after the traumatic experience of being stuck in that locker for hours.
So I had waited till he had gone to work the next day to experiment. I had determined that I could heal from knife wounds in a few seconds, it was kinda cool to watch actually. I was also a bit stronger than I used to be, I could lift up a corner of the couch and hold it until I got bored. I couldn't fly, though my scrapes knees healed quite nicely from the fall out of the tree. So not only did I have a really weak Alexandria package (as PHO had nicknamed it) but I didn't even have the complete package.
I had actually spent the last several months debating with myself whether or not I was even capable of being a hero. Once I had determined how weak my powers were, I had gotten pretty depressed. If I had petitioned to join the Wards I probably would have been laughed right out once they found out how little I was capable of. On the other hand, what could I use my powers for besides heroing? I didn't have to worry about stubbing my toe in the middle of the night when I went to use the bathroom but beyond that, I couldn't think of a lot of situations where having a body slightly better than normal would be useful. Wasn't like I could go into sports, they tested for parahuman abilities and even one as weak as mine would probably come up positive.
After much back and forth arguing, I now found myself walking through the Docks, in the middle of the night, looking for a crime to stop. I would probably still be at home debating it if the girls at school hadn't been such bitches on Friday making me want to do something good I could be proud of. I had spent the weekend getting my costume together. My costume was...well there was no sugarcoating it, it was crap. Old pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a balaclava. I didn't look like a superhero, I looked like a gang member about to commit a crime. Most of my money had gone into my belt and its various accouterments. I had a taser, pepper spray, a miniature first aid kit (for criminals, wasn't like I was going to need it), and some zip ties since I couldn't afford handcuffs. I had debated wearing a jacket (despite, oddly enough, the fact that I didn't find it that cold out) so I wouldn't look so pathetic but decided against it since that would just give people more surface area to grab in a fight. Practicality trumped looking good when things got dangerous.
My wandering was interrupted by a commotion down the block. It was a group of young guys, walking briskly towards an alleyway which was already inhabited by more guys. The light wasn't great but I was pretty sure they were all asian and that could only mean one thing: they were ABB.
It's not racist to assume that a group of young men, all of whom are Asian, that are grouping up in the middle of the night in ABB territory are members of the gang, right?
I crouched down and crept along, trying to get closer to the group to see if I could overhear anything suspicious. I was reasonably certain I could win a one-on-one fight with a normal person but I didn't know how effective my healing power would be if twenty different people took turns beating on me.
As I poked my head around the corner I noticed someone that made my breath catch in my throat. Standing head and shoulders above everyone else was a large, shirtless man in a metallic dragon mask.
Slowly back away Taylor. Nice and quiet, no way can I take on a freaking dragon.
It was at that moment that I heard what it was Lung was saying. "…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?"
I stopped in my tracks. Lung wants to kill kids? I knew he was a criminal but...really?
Outnumbered or not, there was no way I could walk away from this. I wanted to be a hero and what kind of hero would I be if I just let Lung and his gang murder some children?
Wish I had a cell phone, I could call the professional heroes and let them know what's going on.
I made a promise to myself that if I made it out of this alive, the next thing I was buying was a phone.
I straightened up and steeled my nerves. Stand tall Taylor, you don't need to win, just stall them long enough for the authorities notice the commotion.
"Hey!" I called out as I walked into the mouth of the alleyway. "As a hero I'm ordering you all to disperse this instant."
My voice didn't quaver during that, go me!
Lung glanced over at me and snorted. With a casual wave of his hand a line of fire arced through the air to strike me in the face.
I admit it, I screamed. Having my face lit on fire hurt. Didn't help that the mask I was wearing was also burning. I then proceeded to beat the fire out.
Punching myself in the face, I have reached a new low.
My face was sensitive to the touch and I was pretty sure my mask had melted onto my skin in places, but I was otherwise okay. I was no longer in pain.
That probably just means the nerves in my face are damaged. My powers take a couple seconds to deal with knife wounds, no way they're healing burned skin that quickly.
With the fire taken care of, I assumed a boxing stance and tried to look nonchalant about getting attacked.
"That was your opportunity to run away with you tail between your legs, girl," Lung said as he walked through the crowd. "That you failed to do so speaks well for your courage but reflects poorly on your intelligence."
"I'm a hero," I said without squeaking in fear. Man, I'm on fire tonight with the speeches coming out smoothly...wow brain, did you really just go there? "Heroes stand up to villains like you."
Lung let out a deep, booming laugh. "Very well hero, put up a good enough fight and I might let you live."
As soon as the last word left his lips he leapt forward, faster than he should rightly be able to move, and punched me square in the face. I felt my nose break beneath his knuckles and I fell backwards, blood flowing down my face as I landed on my butt.
"Pathetic," Lung rumbled, looming over me like a muscular grim reaper. He pulled back a leg and then swung it around to roundhouse kick me in the side of the head.
I went from a sitting position to limply laying on the sidewalk. All I could hear was blood pounding in my ears but I could feel it pooling beneath my face and taste it in my mouth. My jaw refused to work and there as pain when I tried to speak.
I was vaguely aware of Lung turning away from my fallen form and walking back to talk towards his gang. I just focused on breathing and staying conscious.
Don't pass out, I pass out and who knows what could happen. Stay awake, keep breathing.
My vision wasn't going cloudy so that was good and some of the pain was beginning to fade.
Air goes in the lungs, hold, air is released. Repeat.
My hearing seemed to have returned to normal, I could make out multiple voices though most of them didn't appear to be speaking English so I didn't know what they were talking about. Might have been an argument but it was rather subdued, probably because no one wanted to annoy Lung.
I became aware of an incredibly weird sensation, my nose was straightening itself out and the bones were knitting themselves together.
My healing power can handle broken bones? Then why'd it take time to fix the knife wounds when I was testing? I sighed in relief as the last of the pain in my head disappeared. Maybe it just takes a bit of time to kick into effect.
I sat up and then rose to my feet with a minimum amount of shaking. Some of the ABB members pointed at me.
This time Lung didn't speak, he just launched a fireball at me.
When it exploded I was blown off my feet and landed in the street. Judging from the cries of pain Lung had caught some of his own men in the blast. I doubted he cared.
I surveyed the scene as I stood up. I could see several gang members frantically pulling burning clothes off of themselves and stomping on it, a nearby telephone pole had smoke trailing off of it, there was trash scattered all around that was aflame, but I wasn't on fire.
Did the force of the explosion put out the fire on me? I was at the epicenter of it.
"You are rapidly going from pitiful to annoying," Lung growled at me.
He strode up to me with a very clear sense of purpose and wrapped one of his massive hands around my neck and began to squeeze. I tried to punching and kicking at him, but as a waifish fifteen year old girl I just didn't have the strength necessary to hurt a cape of Lung's caliber. I felt myself starting to grow weak as my air supply was cut off...and then Lung eased his grip and I could breath. I took a few rapid gasps of air before he began choking me again.
And then, once again, Lung's grip slackened and I was able to breath. He repeated this three more times before he growled and choke-slammed me into the pavement. It hurt, but not nearly as much as I expected.
"Do you think to mock me by acting weak?!" Lung shouted. It took me a second to realize that that was directed at me.
"I'm a hero," I said as I pulled myself to my feet and assumed a fighting stance. I was starting to feel a bit more confident since my healing power was doing a good job of keeping up with the damage I was receiving. "I'm just trying to stop a villain. Don't have to beat you, just keep you here until the Protectorate shows up."
That was apparently the wrong thing to say as the next thing I knew I was bathed in flame. It was a steady stream of fire, expanding outward like a cone from Lung's hand as it surrounded me. My nerves screamed at me as my skin burned. The very air hurt my lungs when I inhaled, it had been heated so hotly.
Having faith in my power's ability to heal me since it hadn't failed yet, I closed my eyes and counted to ten. By the time I opened them I was no longer in pain. I glanced down at my hands and noticed that they looked different, shiny. Like they were coated with a chemical.
Actually, there most definitely is a chemical on my hands. I could see it bubbling in the fire that was still engulfing my body. My skin was unharmed beneath it though. Did my powers make me secrete a chemical to deal with the fire? Am I adapting to damage, not just healing from it?
I looked up from my hands and tried to see through the flames to where Lung was standing. He was starting to gleam as the light reflected off of the scales that were growing out of his skin which meant he was getting tougher, stronger.
I wonder how far I can take this...