Sophia's head snapped to Emma and she watched the bright arterial blood arching across the classroom. Madison screamed mindlessly, blood sprayed from her back. She felt the tip of the knife on the top of her head and went to fade but didn't. The knife pinned her mouth open forever screaming. Julie jumped up to run and went down with both femoral arteries slashed. Mr. Glady, call me Mr. G, screamed shrilly at the blood spraying from his stumps in fans as the parted arteries retracted into those stumps.
The bell rang and the panting students and teacher looked at Taylor as she smiled at them and left. Sophia charged out of her seat and ran through the door into a gut full of carbon steel that was pulled up through her sternum. As she died she watched as Hebert went through the school like some kind of Aleph horror movie terror.
How were those bodies on fire? What was that smell?
The bell rang and Sophia sat up in the hallway with hundreds of other students and the teachers. She never hesitated, she pulled out her work phone.
Armsmaster went to dismount his motorcycle and froze with one leg in the air, like he was a dog pissing on his dead tinker tech bike. The PRT troopers with him looked at him then walked over cautiously "My armor is dead. The eject system is drained of power and has failed with the armor closed."
The Sergeant leading the squad called it in. By the time the day ended, and the sobbing students fled the school, all of the Brockton Bay Protectorate was outside along with most of the PRT. The troopers had taken a while to realize something was making them uncomfortable and they were backing up a inch or two an hour. One of them had fallen over screaming and been dragged backwards by his buddies. He stopped screaming and was fine when they got him back five meters.
The thinkers at PRT ENE got with the analyst and deduced that having bad intentions against whoever this new trigger was, was prompting this response. Tentatively the new parahuman was being called rated thinker five (precog), blaster/shaker five, master five. That trooper had been busted for excessive force twice and had many complaints for the same.
Ms. Militia saw her first. The girl who wasn't crying. Or running blindly and tumbling down the stairs. The PRT Troopers responded to her hand and arm signals and surrounded the girl. "Miss? Could I ask you some questions?"
Taylor Hebert smiled and nodded "Sure. It's been a weird day already. I guess meeting Miss Militia is just the cherry on top."
"That's her! Arrrggghhh! Oh god no! no! Aiieeee!" Shadow Stalker went down and rolled around on the ground in apparent agony. A PRT medic ran up to her. After an exam he got out an auto injector and a minute later Sophia was unconscious and being packaged for transport.
Taylor nodded "Yep, like that. Any ideas?" She looked at Miss Militia.
Hannah, Miss Militia, nodded "You are a parahuman. A thinker and blaster, maybe a master."
"Get the fuck out! Oh! Sorry, sorry. Uh, I don't think so? How do you tell? I mean, I'm not doing anything?" Taylor replied, startled.
Hannah sighed "Taylor, May I call you Taylor?"
"Sure! Got that from facial recognition huh? What's the output device? I mean I don't see a HUD." Taylor chirped, leaning in and looking in Miss Militias eyes.
"Contact lens. Have you had a recent bad experience?" Hannah looked at her.
Taylor snorted "Tinkers are all the bullshit! Well, some fucking drunk killed my mom two years ago. Dads totaled, I had to start attending this fucking shithole, my best friend since grade school turned on me like a rabid dog on her period. Cunt hole Hess and the rest of these fucking worthless sluts like to verbally and physically abuse me and the gangs run this place. Oh, and all the teachers except one are useless fucks. Plus, I live in Brockton Bay. Doesn't seem worse than anyone else's life except fucking Hess and her posse. They of course have the run of the place. One of the twelve percent, female, and a track star you know, so everyone has to bend over backwards to accommodate the fucking hole. Can't have her playing the race card can we? She checks too many boxes. The only way it could be better for them is if she had a Hispanic surname." Taylor smiled "At least I'm not a white male. I check one box so the bitch probably can't kill me and get away with it."
Miss Militia nodded and the PRT Trooper with the foam sprayer hosed Taylor down. The foam dissipated in a cloud of steam behind her back. Hannah watched with a sinking feeling. Two troopers moved in and dropped to the ground screaming. Taylor took two steps forward and spun around "See, there it is again!"
Hannah nodded. "How about we give you a ride home Taylor."
Taylor looked at the blocked off streets "Yeah, thanks. Not likely I'll get a bus."
Fifteen minutes later Armsmaster unfroze and his bike made an ever increasing whine that passed the range of human hearing as it powered back up.
Emily Piggot pinched the bridge of her nose "So a power nullifier that is a master. A master 10. But specifically, a master that makes people see themselves and all their friends or family being killed in horrible ways. Add in some kind of breaker state that makes her invulnerable, to everything. Or she might be a blaster projecting some kind of mental image."
Armsmaster nodded "Whose powers are not in her control, nor are they Manton limited. Additionally, her early replies to Miss Militia seem to indicate at least a lean toward Empire 88 philosophy."
Miss Militia chuckled "For them to be in her control wouldn't she have to know she is a parahuman? She is also a little stubborn. I tried to demonstrate it for her by punching her. She thinks I am just clumsy because I kept missing. She sees her earlier comments as pragmatism. Dealing with the reality of the situation. She doesn't hate persons of different races, from the reports she doesn't treat them any differently either. I mean everyone in that school regardless of race, creed or color got traumatized. She says you would have to be both blind and stupid not to see the 'squeaky wheel getting the grease'."
Emily drummed her fingers "Who isn't going to come in for testing. OK fine. Let's get Panacea to touch her. Meanwhile I want to know what's going on in that school. I don't care if you have to water board Hess, her minions, her handler and the whole staff of that shithole. Keep Hess under M/S protocols. I want every second of this girl's life on video with sound."
The people around the table nodded tightly and went to make it happen.
Miss Militia stayed seated. Director Piggot looked at her "Yes."
Hannah spoke firmly "Our, that is the PRT and Protectorates approach, or rather our normal approach, isn't going to work here. For one thing the girl has done nothing wrong that we can prove."
Emily nodded "Yes, I know. While you were talking to her, she, we think, nullified Legends powers. The Protectorate and PRT are a bit concerned. Short of Scion we are dealing with what the thinkers are telling us is the most powerful cape on the planet. Some of the thinkers think she can nullify him. The debate rages right now about moving her to where he is to see what happens versus the school of thought that says that will kill him. Eidolon is arriving this evening to see what happens with him. Hopefully it won't be as spectacular as crashing through the penthouse of the Medhall building as Legend did."
Hannah smiled and Emily grinned ruefully "So what do you suggest?"
Hannah replied immediately "We should try talking to her."
Emily nodded "After Eidolon fails spectacularly you will be up next."
Panacea took her hand off Shadow Stalker "It could be an illusion, but internally, at the cellular level, she has the scars of the injuries she has described. Like they happened and were healed." Emily Piggot blinked. Panacea shrugged. "It's a bit hard to explain to someone who can't do what I do. Have you ever tasted something and thought of a color? If you want a demonstration I can touch you and tell you every injury you ever had. They leave patterns in your cells, even if they heal perfectly with no scar tissue. Even you aging and your cells dying naturally leaves an image. Sophia has been chopped to pieces and put back together perfectly. Multiple times. As have Troopers Craig and Jorgens. Only once with them and Trooper Kalvin."
Emily nodded "We have video of the encounter with the troopers. There is not a mark on them in the real world. Even while it is occurring."
Amy shrugged "Powers are bullshit? Whatever this one is is all the bullshit."
Emily barked a laugh. "Thank you Panacea."
Panacea shrugged "I'll talk to Lady Photon again. Brandish is just being her normal self. She's a lawyer by nature. Or I might just ignore them and go see Taylor. Worse she can do is chop me to pieces right?"
Emily laughed again and nodded. Brandish, Carol Dallon, Panacea, Amy Dallon's mother, was a bitchy fucking cunt. It didn't stop her from being right in this particular case, they didn't need to risk the best healer in the world, but a broken clock was right twice a day.
Danny Herbert nodded and sighed "I'm so sorry Taylor. I should have done better. I'll get a lawyer and we will see if we can break these fucks like a shotgun."
Taylor gave him a watery smile "OK Dad. What do you think of the parahuman thing?"
Danny shrugged "No idea. Mostly they are fucked up. The PRT doesn't do shit but absorb resources. The Protectorate are pretty much all idiots. Neither of them can hold onto a prisoner, and their alleged justice is more politics than anything else. Otherwise they would apply all their vaunted super powers to Lung and we wouldn't have a problem with him. Or Skidmark and we would be rid of the Merchants. The Nazi's could be crushed too."
"Same old shit. The cops weren't that effective before the parahumans appeared. Oh, out on the beat they are doing the best they can, but the courts are full of lawyers and they are crooked ass snakes in the grass. Those grow up to be judges. Half of them are liberals. They never had to work like a dog and see their tax money go to lazy fucks who are getting paid to have babies. Why so many of them become politicians I guess. World we live in Kiddo. Why they had to be separate from the US marshals or the Army was pure political crap. Duplication of effort really."
"Anyway, I'll get us our own snake. The Union snakes have been telling me about a new one on the scene. She is apparently a vicious bitch out to build a reputation, so, we should be able to get some use out of her."
The Hebert's snapped their heads to the front windows as the thump was both felt and heard. Danny laughed "Eidolon. I think it's like magic, they think they can't, so they can't."
Taylor sighed "You aren't a wrinkled up green midget."
Taylor watched the blond girl walk up the front walk and looked at her father. Danny shrugged. Taylor sighed "I got it. Want help with dinner after I get rid of whoever it is?"
Danny looked at his watch "Burger's?"
Taylor smiled "Sure." Danny nodded and headed out the back door to start the grill.
Taylor went to the front door and opened it. The blond looked at her. "Lisa Wilbourn. I need your help, I'm willing to pay."
Taylor blinked "Uh, come in? You hungry?"
An hour later Lisa sighed and leaned back from the table "So you don't think you are a parahuman."
Taylor shrugged "Does it really matter? I don't have any control over whatever powers you think I have." She was building her third burger. Danny was watching, a bit amazed.
Lisa nodded "So effectively you aren't a parahuman even if you are. You're just a force of nature."
Danny looked thoughtful "That's a workable analogy. Now back to your issue. Fifty percent? I think more seventy-five. Even though you are providing the mental muscle Taylor is doing the real heavy lifting here."
Lisa sighed then shrugged "You know what? Fine, if we do it now."
Danny shrugged "Call your people. I'll get my bat, give you two a ride, and go with Taylor."
Lisa laughed "No one knows I am doing this. We might work on some of my team later. If your lawyer is as good as you say. Rachel at least deserves some help. I'd be interested to see what your lawyer makes of her case. Brian could use some legal help with his sister. Alec. Well, he is fucked in the head."
Danny stood and walked to the hall closet "Lots of people are. Maybe we can get him a job down at the yard."
Lisa nodded "You are both taking this a lot better than I would have suspected."
Taylor shrugged "Eidolon landed in our street? You walked right by the crater. Stuff was still falling out of the air!'"
Lisa snorted "OK, Fine. That was a little weird."
Taylor snorted "Weird is all the fucks at school falling down screaming. My ears are still ringing."
Danny opened the door and Miss Militia was standing there. Danny froze and his jaw dropped open. Miss Militia looked at him and blushed. Lisa grinned and Taylor rolled her eyes. "Come on Miss Militia. We have an errand to run. You can ride with us and talk. She steered her father out of the house and locked up behind them.
Hannah tried again "So what's to stop him from killing you? Or these mercenaries of his?"
Lisa sighed "Thinker. My power says her power nulls not only powers but reads intent and acts to stop actions aimed at harming her in a wide radius. The worse the intent the worse the stop by the way. Probably want to ask Eidolon some questions. If somebody wants to kill her I bet her power doesn't heal them. Which is what my power says is happening. Her power is really chopping them up but then it's healing them."
Hannah nodded as Lisa typed on the keypad beside the door in the parking garage downtown they had walked to "Panacea told us the same thing after examining some of the people who have been caught up in Taylor's affects area. We have found a few chopped up bodies around. We as in law enforcement."
Lisa nodded "Coil is a precog. Taylor has probably already disabled him or her power is feeding his gibberish. I was going to kill him after we got what we wanted but you can have him after we strip him of his money and resources if you want."
Hannah turned to Danny "Danny!"
Danny shrugged "Eidolon landed in our street. Might as well strike while the iron is hot. If this works we'll take out the Nazi's, then Lung and his idiots. We can drive through the boat graveyard after that."
The door opened and Taylor walked in the base. The screaming started immediately. Danny pinched the bridge of his nose. "Fuck Honey. I am so sorry."
Taylor looked at Lisa "I don't know how I feel about love at first sight between my father and Miss Militia."
Lisa laughed "At least you don't have Miss Militia underwear." Taylor swatted at her. Lisa laughed "Come on. Let's find this idiot." Taylor rounded a corner and a new round of screaming went up.
Hannah and Danny hurried to catch up. Hannah taking more zip cuffs out of her assault pack. Danny bashed the ones who recovered fastest in the head with his bat.
Danny looked around the office and picked up the phone. Lisa and Hannah were working on the computer with Taylor watching. Thomas Calvert was lying in the floor. Dead. He had kept pushing into Taylor's abilities until it killed him. Stubborn bastard. It was almost admirable. It would have been admirable in anybody but a traitorous scumbag. Oh, that meant he was trying to hurt Taylor too! Danny kicked the body. "Kurt? Good. Hey, round up some guys and Andre and his crew. Taylor took over a super villain's base and it's got a self-destruct, we can take the explosives out of. Oh, bring Mark too. There are a metric shit ton of weapons here. We'll want to secure this place while the lawyers argue over it."
Lacey, Kurt's wife, steamed into the office. Looked at Calvert, kicked his corpse in the balls and went and hugged Taylor "Heard what happened at school sweetie. Wait until I get my hands on that Hess cunt. Who are your friends?"
Hannah sat in the glass walled conference room in Coils well equipped, well, now Taylor's, secret base. Thy Bui, the lawyer Danny had hired had showed up and engaged Director Piggot and the PRT legal department via teleconference. Hannah was detailed to observe the vigilante, erh, independent heroic organization, she was with and be the Liaison between it, the PRT, and Protectorate. Lisa had called in the rest of her team and the Undersiders had blinked at the people in DWU uniform crawling over the base. Rachel had been nervous but had then disappeared with a bunch of people who didn't smile much, if at all. They had taken her dogs with them. Mark's crew of security people. Veterans from all the services. Brian and Alec were a bit overwhelmed. Danny came and sat down by them "So up for taking down the Merchants?"
Alec snorted "How can you tell?" He looked at the group of women discussing what they should do next.
"It's what Taylor wants to do. Lacey agrees. Lisa is playing devil's advocate. It frees up more of the DWU to get in on this operation so when we take down the ABB it won't be a power vacuum. We will probably have to pause there and we don't want to tip the Nazis off before we crack their skulls. Meanwhile Thy can keep the other gangs in town occupied. The PRT, Protectorate and BBPD."
Bryan looked at him "So this is the DWU taking over Brockton Bay? What? Did I just join another cape led gang?"
Lisa looked over at them "Duh, but we were absorbed in the takeover, or would you rather be like that?" She nodded at the corpse someone had put a blanket over.
Taylor sighed "We need to get out of here so the police can investigate."
Thy nodded "I'll catch up at the Merchant Headquarters. I'm calling in a few friends to help with this."
Hannah nodded "Dragon is already in Coil's network. Lisa already took all the money and property. The PRT has investigators and a forensic team in route. BBPD has been notified."
Danny sighed "Let me call Roy." Roy Christner was the Mayor of Brockton Bay.
Skidmark got the closest of anyone yet. Within inches. Lisa shrugged "The drugs he had onboard. He was going to hit the limit though and would have disintegrated. Look out."
Squealer slid nearly into Hannah who was covering Danny's eyes. That was a whole lot of hot cracker tinker falling out of not many clothes while she thrashed in agony. Alec laughed and cuffed Squealer and Skidmark. Hannah had had a PRT supply truck meet them. Now they all had assault packs full of stuff, including flex cuffs. The PRT and Protectorate had thrown up a cordon. Taylor was walking around inside it with her core group clearing out nest of Merchants. Lisa was narrowing down on the HQ of the merchants. Vista, the youngest ward, had joined them to move Miss Militia faster after a sniper had expended a magazine having bullets vaporize fifty meters from Taylor. Danny had not been amused. The Merchant had been shredded and not healed. Taylor's power was starting to return deadly force in kind. "Taylor do you need to rest?"
Taylor looked at Lisa "No?"
"You're getting a little cranky Babe. That's the third one you turned to chopped liver and the healing is slowing down."
Taylor sighed "Find the headquarters and then we will rest a bit. It's the weekend. We can do the ABB tomorrow."
Glory Girl landed carrying Panacea "Hey! I'm Glory Girl and this is Panacea. Anyone hurt?"
Panacea looked at her sister. Lisa and Rachel snorted. Taylor's mouth had dropped open. "Glory Girl, Panacea." Hannah greeted the pair. Glory Girl strode over and was shaking hands all around. Panacea was a bit more cautious.
"You're Taylor. Uh, can I touch you? Only my power is sort of a touch striker."
Taylor smiled "I have no idea, as long as you don't intend to hurt me I think you will be fine. If you intend to hurt me it would have already chopped you to pieces and Glory Girl would have dropped out of the sky."
Panacea snickered "I checked Eidolon. Good work on healing him. That was a lot of damage."
Taylor sighed "My alleged power, not me."
Amy finally took her hand "Nope you. You have both structures in your brain."
Taylor sighed "The gemma too? Crap. So how come I have no control?"
Amy, Panacea, sighed "No idea. Some people trigger and never realize. Usually those powers are very minor though. Not like yours. I can't even tell what you are, or what your powers are doing. Precog? High level thinker? Striker certainly, Blaster almost as certain. Is that an affect that stops projectiles or are you like a brute one hundred, Shielder five thousand?"
Lisa looked at the building they were approaching "Found it. Come on, let's strip their junk and call in the cops."
Taylor walked in the building, Panacea still holding her hand, and the others followed her gaping at the chemical lab/production facility they had found. Danny blinked "Holy shit. How much drugs can one town take."
Lisa looked up from the computer she had found "Production facility for most of the east coast. Shipping is wrecked, so they have to move it overland. All of it can't come in on the death train from Mexico. All the opiates are synthetics nowadays. Well, on this side of the ocean. This is one of the major labs in the Americas' apparently. Oh yes. One of the richest too, or they were. Hey Taylor, Panacea and Glory girl get a share? Since we are doing pirate rules. Or in this case privateer rules." Taylor still got fifty percent then the rest was divided in shares. At least that is what they had come down too after some more negotiation.
Taylor nodded "All the capes and PRT guys. One and half if they had to fight."
Lisa snorted "Well nobody will have to work again. I am raiding accounts worldwide. Billions of dollars touched this mess. Maybe trillions. Oh, here comes the firewalls. Ha! To late fuckers. Three hundred twenty one billion dollars. Give or take a hundred billion in money tied up in the laundry we may have to give back. Now they just have the cash in the system."
"Wow some of these are nasty, murder suicide viruses or programs."
Danny blanched "They will be flying in hit teams."
Lisa laughed "Not unless it's on Magic carpets. Their creditors are already seizing shit."
Panacea sighed "There are going to be a lot of junkies going through withdrawal."
Taylor shrugged "Don't do drugs you can't grow or synthesize yourself?"
Lisa laughed "Rachel, take Taylor for food that was just mean. You know what? Hold on." She unplugged the laptop "Let's go to Fugly Bobs. Then Taylor needs a nap. The BBPD and PRT can clean up here."
Hannah nodded "Meanwhile we can decide on the Nazi's or the ABB."
Taylor sighed "Italian rather than Fugly Bobs?" They walked out debating food choices. They ended up at a Diner. Diners did everything from breakfast to Greek and there was one close to the Hebert's house they liked. Ed's. They filled it. Ed was smiling widely. It was going to be a thousand dollar Friday night. He hadn't had one of these in years. Every table full. And the parking lot too. Fuck, better get Jose on some donuts, look at all those cop cars.
Lisa was using the laptop she took from the Merchants and the diners WIFI and working over Medhall, surprise, the merchants and Medhall had a connection. It was unfortunate for Medhall. That connection led to others which was unfortunate for all the drug companies in the world. Lisa siphoned five hundred billion dollars out of the drug companies over dinner, then she got serious over pie and coffee. Their illegal business was firewalled from their legal operations or she would have gotten trillions. She might find a way in and get that yet.
She looked up "OK so the ABB. The Nazi's will have other problems as the rest of the drug companies come after Medhall. The Merchants were doing business with them, buying raw material, selling back product, and Medhall were doing business with the rest. I took the money out of it. I need a drink. Is there a wine list? No? A red I think. New York table wine, Tugboat Red. Fine."
Hannah sighed "Medhall and the Empire?"
Lisa nodded "Front, or the legitimate side, hard to tell. It wasn't really all that legit actually. Nobody looking hard I guess. They have that cancer clinic and make all those donations." She shrugged and Danny nodded. Taylor looked scandalized.
Danny bought a bottle. He hated to see his little girl's innocence die. Then another. Kurt bought the next one. It was good if a little sweet.
Taylor walked down the street and Oni Lee appeared. He hit the ground in a spreading pool of blood rather than his normal pitter of ashes.
Amy shook her head "That is so cool. Horrifying but cool."
Lisa grumbled "Horrifying is Vicky waking up looking that good." Vicky was Victoria Dallon, Glory Girl. They had all slept over at Taylor's house. Hannah and Thy had the guest room. Shielder got the couch. The girls had Taylors bed and a queen mattress Vicky had brought up from the basement. Oh, and three dogs. Amy had healed Angelicas eye and all the dogs had gotten a bath with flea soap. Then the soaked girls had gotten showers. Vicky and Crystal Pelham, Laserdream, had flown home and gotten everyone clothes.
The parent angst had been cured at Ed's. All of New Wave, most of the BBPD, and all of the Protectorate including the Wards minus Shadow Stalker had shown up. As the news circulated Ed's had become the place to be, at least for cape, PRT, and police geeks and groupies. Ed was happily exhausted with a five-thousand-dollar night.
Breakfast this morning had taken an hour and a half, included a constant parade through the shower then through the kitchen in robes with towels on their hair and Danny's furnace with the hot water coil running continuously. Danny was fairly sure he had not had that many huge fluffy towels. Manpower, Neil Pelham, had nodded and told him he thought he recognized some of them. It had also included planning for this walk through the Asian section of town to Lungs casino. The hour and a half had let the PRT and BBPD get the cordon up around the target section, with the DWU's assistance.
The street behind Taylor was full of gang members in zip cuffs recovering and the street ahead was full of those whose turns were next. Lung charged out of the crowd already ramping up. He got within striking range of Taylor and the clawed arm he swung at her scattered in a cloud. Laserdream wrinkled her nose "Eww."
Lisa nodded "Told you. Scariest cape in the world."
Hannah rolled her eyes and zip cuffed Lungs remaining arm to his ankles after shooting him twice in his stump with a tranquilizer gun. Taylor walked into the casino. Lisa found the office and she and Dragon got busy. This time the human traffickers took a massive beating. Dragon was sending the pertinent information straight to the involved police and law enforcement agencies and Lisa was raping and pillaging in their financial and business accounts.
Hannah was listening on her ear bud as a fight of some kind developed around Max Anders house between the Empire 88 and several groups. Lisa looked up "Yeah, to them it looked like Medhall drained them. Max Anders is Kaiser."
Hannah sighed "The Director wants to talk to Taylor and Danny after this."
Thy smiled "We will be happy to."
Vista chuckled "Wait until she finds out I am joining Taylor's team."
Glory Girl sighed "We have to come up with a name. Two. One for the team and one for Taylor."
Taylor rolled her eyes. "Taylor, and Team Common Sense?"
The group arrived back at Taylor's house after waiting for Miss Militia to finish up with Lung and while the BBPD and PRT presence got less and less. Lisa was pillaging Lungs accounts and any they touched the entire time. Danny, Kurt, and the foremen of the DWU were making notes and talking to community leaders. The DWU were moving the temporary barriers to the area around Kaiser's house.
A minivan pulled up in front of the house as they arrived and a brown-haired woman got out leading a boy carrying a pretty new baby. Lacey took the baby and the brown-haired woman quirked a brow as she was surrounded by women. Taylor looked at Lisa. Lisa shrugged "Purity. She broke with the Empire a year, maybe eighteen months ago? Heavy Hitter. Not helping the Empire now. Never believed in that bullshit. Was in love with Max. Being married to him killed that, but she got the baby she wanted. Wants to join you."
Taylor scowled a bit. Two PRT vans drove up and Miss Militia walked over to them and helped a woman get out. The woman stiffened when Taylor looked at her. "It is customary to ask before you heal someone young lady!"
"Sorry! I don't really have control of it. Maybe it decided you were tortured enough?" Taylor cringed.
Amy walked up to the Director "Mind if I check?"
Emily nodded "Please and thank you."
Amy put a hand on her arm and nodded "Nice work Taylor. Legs, kidneys, liver, arteries. Used the excess body fat to do it."
Taylor sighed "Sorry."
Emily harrumphed "My own fault getting in range of a blaster biotinker. Who has no control. I wonder if your power does this to everyone? Johnson, let Panacea check you please?"
Leslie Johnson, a protection detail leader with years of experience and two knee surgeries under her belt stuck out a hand. Panacea took it. "Yep. Wow that must have hurt. Two total reconstructions. Good as new now. You are going to need to eat, whole milk too."
"Sorry!" Taylor said quickly.
Leslie grinned "No problem. Thanks."
Emily sighed "I may get the rest of the PRT to rotate on guard shifts. As long as they don't mind. I'll have to add this to your threat sheet."
Danny nodded "Have them stop by the house. We will get Panacea to write up what Taylor fixes and send you a bill." Emily blinked.
Taylor pouted "I have a threat sheet? I'm not a threat to anyone who doesn't want to hurt me or anyone I care about, at all, apparently. Even then if you aren't a complete idiot it just chops you to pieces and puts you back together."
Emily hoisted a brow "Skidmark, Oni Lee? Lung. The bodies we keep finding?" Taylor huffed. Emily grinned "That's why we wanted to do power testing."
Taylor rolled her eyes like the teenager she was. "How goes the fight with the Empire?" She asked as she led toward the house.
Emily shrugged "Badly for all concerned. I think with Purity here you will get some more defectors. Rune was essentially press ganged when she came out of juvenile hall. I wanted to talk to you about what your team intends."
Taylor shrugged "Brockton Bay to be a nice place to live and people to act civil. If idiots keep coming to town I will keep chopping them up, I guess." Taylor opened the door and led into the living room.
Emily looked around at the brand new looking hundred-year-old furnishings. "Your power?"
Taylor looked at the love seat she was pointing at and blinked "I guess? I didn't notice until you pointed it out."
Lisa supplied "Her power. I haven't figured out how yet. Not sure she fits any classification. She might be powered yes."
Emily nodded and put a briefcase on the table in front of herself "So, we would like to do your official registration as a heroic team, your lawyer and the PRT lawyers being through jousting over Hellhound and Tattletale. They will have to pay reparations. As will Purity when she joins. Theodore Anders not so much, or I don't think so."
Lisa shrugged "We were press ganged by Coil and I took all his money so he will be paying. We got most of Anders too. Medhall is corporate and I haven't gotten into it yet. Too politically connected."
Emily nodded "We suspected that was you. I assume you have done the same to the Empire and that is what started the conflict we are watching in the northern part of town? We will be expecting some reparations for that as well."
Lisa nodded "I fenced off part of the money already. That was actually when we did the Merchants. They were tied to Medhall as a supplier who was tied to all those others. Two separate firewalled businesses for all of them, the drug companies I mean. I left the legal parts alone and took down the illegal parts. Dragon has the list of locations."
Emily nodded "The DEA and other countries law enforcement agencies are already raiding those and seizing both the drugs and the properties.
Taylor smiled "So we are already doing good for the whole world."
Lisa chuckled and Emily sighed "Yes, although you have crashed the economies of several countries. Including Mexico."
Taylor waved her off "I found this plan online. We are looking for responsible agents in those countries to implement it."
Emily blinked "Pardon?"
Taylor nodded "A person calling themselves Accord sent me a link to it. Lisa looked it over and made some adjustments, we are implementing it. In the Americas we already have seven countries in South America doing it and agents in all fifty states working on their portions of it."
Emily pinched the bridge of her nose "Accord is a villain."
"Doesn't stop him being smart. And if we can pull it off it helps everyone. We aren't doing that hostages and assassinations part though." Taylor shrugged.
"It leaves him in charge of the world." Emily objected.
Lisa smirked "Taylor now. That's what I changed. Plus, if you throw money at them or dig up the skeletons you don't have to assassinate idiots. Or take hostages. Given enough rope they hang themselves."
Emily slumped in her arm chair. Danny chuckled "It's better to focus on your responsibilities I find. They seem to be on the right track and it's not like anything can change it now."
Emily looked at him "Endbringers, Scion. Alexandria?"
Taylor shrugged "How are Legend and Eidolon?"
"Legend is fine. Eidolon is a bit peeved and may try again." A smooth voice answered. Carol smirked standing beside Legend in the door to the living room.
Taylor looked at him with her jaw dropped. Lisa closed her mouth with a curled finger "Down Tiger."
Taylor glared at her as the other girls giggled "Legend is in my house!"
Legend chuckled "Sorry. Heard you were up to something. Thought I should stop by."
Taylor sighed "Well the gangs were a problem so we started on the weakest ones, it turned into a string of dominoes. Now ones we never heard of are fighting the biggest of the ones here so we are staying clear of that. When the dust settles we will pick up the pieces."
Legend looked at Lisa with the laptop "Besides your thinker wreaking financial havoc across the grey and black markets of the world even now?"
Lisa looked innocent and shrugged "Just finishing up all that stuff the Merchants and ABB were tied too."
Legend sat on the love seat "Two point two trillion dollars of cash and property we are tracking."
"Vigilante act of 1988, Taylor v. Tainter 1873, as long as we pay our taxes and turn over illegal or controlled material or substances we are well within the bounds of legality." Thy supplied.
Lisa grinned "Those property values are overinflated for tax purposes as well. Sort of institutional bribes to keep the governments off of them. We will be challenging those assessments. Already are in a lot of places."
Taylor nodded "We might do some work, Planning and rehearsal, and go after the Nine. Those bounties are tax free. That would offset some of the tax burden. I'm fairly sure some other countries would pay us to get rid of S class threats too."
Emily involuntarily said "Nilbog."
Taylor nodded "Him first. I can go stand on the wall, all of Ellisberg would be in my range. If nothing happens then, well nothing happens, and we won't try the Nine."
Legend nodded "What about a Simurgh zone? Or Gary with whatever is going on there?"
Danny smiled "Let's talk compensation for those services."
Emily blinked "That is substantially above my paygrade."
Legend nodded "If you have another laptop I think we can get Chief Director Costa Brown on a conference call?"
Glory Girl broke in "That's all good but Taylor needs lunch and a nap. We don't want her getting cranky again. No telling who she will chop up."
Thy waved them off "Danny and I can do the negotiations."
Taylor nodded and stood up "I'll be in the kitchen or my room if you need me." In the kitchen she hugged Vicky "Thanks. I want Dad to stay involved."
Amy smiled "Are you going back to Winslow?"
Taylor grinned "Another thing to get him involved in."
Crystal got out her phone "I'll text mom. She can bring it up."
Legend looked at Emily and Rebecca Costa Brown on the teleconference from Emily's office later "Well, not the slavering monster one expects at all."
Dragon, on the conference call along with Narwhal chuckled "She moderates that group of girls like they do her. Collateral Damage Barbie is showing signs of thinking ahead rather than reacting violently."
"Tattletale is a powerful thinker and has thrown herself completely into Taylors circle." Emily pointed out.
Rebecca nodded "She used Taylor to get free of Coil and then to destroy him. A service to us in the end as we have turned all of his agents, but still, she is in it for Tattletale. She, after all, gets a percentage of twenty five percent of the spoils. That it benefits other people is what she is using to keep Taylor playing."
Narwhal snorted "So like us with the Wards and quite a few of the Heroes then. Just being chopped to pieces until you learn or permanently rather than birdcaged. They are in fact Privateers at this point, we might as well send them a letter of marque and reprisal. The have already operated both offensively and internationally. I heard the percentage of divided spoils was up to fifty percent to. That is in line with Privateers."
Rebecca got a sour look but conceded the point with a nod. Legend changed the subject "So a powerful parahuman who has had powers for a week going to Elisburg tomorrow. While we cordon off and watch a fight that is scouring a square mile to bedrock."
Rebecca sighed "When you say it like that it seems a bit mad."
Emily snorted "A hundred million dollars for it is a bit mad."
Rebecca shrugged "Ten years budget on containment. Just ours. Not including what DoD spends. Ft Drum is right there after all. If it works, and she can do something about Madison, Gary, Freedom, Eagleton, Flint and Gallup, we come out cheap. Even at a hundred million dollars apiece. Billions even as we will never be able to let go of those without her. No matter what the insurance companies pay out for stopping the damage and recovering the area. Plus we can study and classify what it is she is doing. It also lets us put those troops, parahumans, and resources to work elsewhere. We could nearly double the strength of the existing PRT regional headquarters and start doing meaningful work instead of fighting rearguard or status quo actions."
Emily nodded. The conversation continued to swirl while the PRT worked through the night instrumenting Elisburg even more than it already was.
Taylor climbed the stair and stepped out on the wall. She looked into the walled in zone and a wave of something spread out from her position at shock wave velocity then snapped back lapping at the wall. The ground inside the wall rippled. There was no movement. Taylor snorted "Whoville. How old was this guy when he triggered?"
Dragon reported "No life sign's"
Taylor nodded "Did you want me to leave them alive? They weren't human. They weren't even animals really. Just animated organic matter. One human."
Dragon nodded "Can you point out where the human was?"
Taylor pointed with the laser pointer she was handed "Underground, right there." Dragon marked the position on her maps. "So that didn't take long. Want to go to Gary?"
Miss Militia laughed "No. Your father would be furious. Let's let the dust of this settle and the payment come through for it."
Taylor sighed "OK, fine. You dating Dad is going to cramp my style. I was planning to be a trillionaire by seventeen."
Miss Militia blushed "We haven't been on a date yet."
Taylor rubbed her hands together and started for the stairs "Taylor!" Miss Militia went after her.
"Come on! We have a date to arrange!"
"Oh gods." The other girls looked at each other and scampered down the stairs. Dragon gave the impression she was laughing silently, mainly because she was.
Danny looked at Taylor "Well we would need them broken up. The fuel oil and contaminants removed and to figure out a disposal method for them and then a train to move the pieces unless we got the old steel works back on line. I wonder if that old refinery could do something with the oil and other stuff? There are a million pages of EPA and OSHA regulations we would have to comply with and we would need metallurgist and chemist."
Lisa shrugged "Or a material scientist engineer tinker."
Taylor nodded "OK fine. So, we will get all that together. Meanwhile buy the ferry Lisa, and the docks for it. We are putting it back together and getting it running. Buy up that refinery, the steel mill and the ground between them too. I have an idea. I'm going to do some research. Dad take Hannah to the movies."
Thy barked "Hey! What if I want some Hebert action?"
"Talk to Hannah, you two can divide him up. Go adult." Taylor made a shooing motion.
Danny spluttered as Thy drug him off to find Hannah. Amy looked at Taylor "Do you have any idea of what you are doing?"
"None. It will keep them busy though. Now, where are the fucking Nine. I've had enough of that shit."
Glory Girl groaned and fell back in the arm chair in the living room at the back of the house the girls had taken over. The adults had moved to the formal living room at the front, when the house had been built it would have been the parlor. "We are all going to be so grounded."
Taylor shrugged "Shouldn't have given us a supersonic airplane." Rachel laughed followed by the other girls including Vista.
Lisa interrupted the study session Tuesday. Taylor had been integrated into Arcadia and the Dallon girl's circles with no problems. Amy had taken Taylor to all four hospitals in the city Monday. Thy had worked out a deal with the hospitals. The girls got the Medicare payment for the cases that would have disfiguring or crippling outcomes or had a bad prognosis and the occupants of the children's wards. The others the doctors and hospitals could treat. Taylor stood around and Amy checked patients that met their criteria.
Normally a population in America had about three hospital beds per thousand. So, Brockton Bay would in normal circumstances have about a thousand beds. Medhall was in town though and had been for years doing research and had a thousand-bed hospital of their own. The other three hospitals in town had also worked with Medhall until Amy triggered. They were all a thousand to fifteen hundred beds as well. All of them were doing a booming business because of Medhall and Panacea.
Now there was Taylor who was apparently making people generally healthier within a ten-mile circle of her but up close she just healed people. Her never stopping eating was causing a bit of consternation, especially as she ate her burgers rare and fish that would make top quality sushi by the pound, raw, all while walking around. About fifteen hundred calories an hour the Brockton General nutritionist thought. When she sat to eat, forget it. She did five to eight thousand calories. The doctors were fascinated. Her system really shouldn't be able to process it all.
They headed home a million dollars richer. After two hours. Or eventually after the patient's insurance paid they would be. Maybe a little more. Amy frowned "I wonder if we hooked you to a glucose IV and you slept there if it would cure the whole hospital?"
Taylor shrugged "No idea. I wonder what the hell they are doing with all those samples. I mean poop? Really?"
Amy laughed and laughed. "Wait until they want a bone marrow sample. That shit hurts. Then it's just freaking weird."
Lisa informed them "Ok I got a location on the Nine. They are moving this direction and the next town along their route is in Oklahoma, Elk City. They are evacuating."
Taylor looked at her watch and then at the dragonship sitting in the vacant lot. "We have three hours before dad gets home."
Crystal sighed "We are going to be so grounded."
"That was a bit anticlimactic." Vicky sounded disappointed.
Taylor snorted "Speak for yourself. I had to learn how to shoot that damn cannon to kill Hatchet face. Now land us and we can pick up Burn scar, Bonesaw and whoever that dark-haired chick is."
Lisa huffed "I'm working on it. Dragon is still fighting me."
Vicky nodded "Worried about them being able to hurt us."
Crystal sighed "We are so fucking grounded."
Taylor looked out at the crowd gathered where they landed back in Brockton Bay "Yep, grounded."
Taylor sighed "They were killing people. They needed stopped. We stopped them. Just ground me. The others went with me to help me."
The dragon suit looked at Lisa "And how exactly did you do that?"
Lisa snorted "Those three laws of robotics are stupid. Once we got high enough and I did enough to compromise the computer's ability to fly this one ship it kind of had to let me have control. Then the logical course was to get us back here with our prisoners so they could be taken into custody. Amy and Taylor already made Bonesaw safe and the other two are terrified of Taylor now so do what they are told."
Taylor snorted "Apparently Jack Slash just threatened to chop you up. Doing it brought a whole new dimension. Hey the Siberian was a projection. That's why it was invulnerable. I chopped its master up and it is gone."
"And shot Hatchet Face with a cannon!" Danny was able to talk now. "In the face!"
"Well yeah. He was a power nullifier like me. I wonder why his power didn't think of a force field like mine does."
Dragon sighed "It doesn't work that way. Powers come with limiting or enhancing powers normally. Yours are one of the few unlimited powers. You aren't even Manton limited. Very few are like you in that regard as well. None are if you consider the whole package. There has to be something we are missing about your powers."
Taylor nodded "So if I get like a handgun for those, maybe a shotgun, I'm good then."
Danny blinked and looked thoughtful and then glared at her "No out of state villain hunting without permission!"
Taylor deflated "Yes Dad."
Danny nodded firmly and the girls walked to the house taking Bonesaw with them. They got up to Taylors room and looked at each other Amy sighed "I can't believe we got away with that."
Taylor opened her mouth and Danny yelled up the stairs "And you are grounded." Taylor sighed.
Downstairs the adults looked at each other and smiled. They had watched the whole thing and Dragon had fifteen aircraft in the air loaded with suits. Lisa wasn't quite as careful as she should have been when she was working with Dragon. Dragon had a hook in the stolen laptop Lisa was still using. Lisa was good but Dragon was an AI and was just faster.
Paul, Legend, looked at Rebecca, Alexandria "A hundred and seven bodies."
Rebecca snorted "All the scum of the earth. Child rapist, murderers, people like that. If we could afford it we should have her ride that dragon ship back and forth across the country all summer in strips twenty miles apart. Her range seems to have fixed at ten miles."
Paul frowned "Isn't that what we are having her do?"
Rebecca blinked "What do you bet Dragon has the courses planned to cover the most ground possible, and very little of it twice."
Paul narrowed his eyes then laughed "Our own little S class threat."
Rebecca snorted "Not so little. She kills people from farther away than Behemoth by several orders of magnitude."
"And if she doesn't stop eating." Paul shook his head.
Rebecca nodded "That is not normal at all. We got all the samples to Doctor Mother though. Still it's a bit of a game changer to have what might be an Endbringer in our pocket. One that works for wages."
Taylor and the girls got off the bus at her house and looked at the Asian woman pacing in front of the house. Taylor asked "Are you all right?"
It was apparently the wrong question and Susan Wantanabe went on a profanity laced rant against TA's, tenured professors, the administrative staff of Cornell and the uselessness of post baccalaureate education. Then looked at Taylor "Then I saw your questions, the ones you sent to Professor Rudolph. Of course, he handed them off to the master's students to answer and the asshole TA handed them to me. So here I am. Where is the mill and the refinery? I want to get started."
Taylor introduced herself and the others and Amy nodded after they shook hands. Taylor looked at Lisa "You can drive right? Let me call dad and we will take that suburban he got last week."
Lisa nodded "Tell him to meet us there with Squealer and Trainwreck. It will be hilarious."
Vicky sighed "You are just mean sometimes Lisa."
Crystal nodded "I'm calling Dragon."
Riley, the former Bonesaw, spoke up "Let's do a drive by and get L33t too. He isn't doing anything important."
Taylor frowned "His stuff blows up."
Riley shrugged "Because anyone could make it, He can make anything once. I bet his passenger wants pushed."
Taylor rolled her eyes "You aren't Dexter Morgan."
Riley eyed her up and down "Which is damn sad because you are way hotter than Debra."
"Fuck, my life!" Taylor was led away by Amy who was glaring at Riley.
Taylors head snapped up and she looked around at the wailing of the sirens. Amy listened and looked at her. "Not here. Not this region anyway. We report to the PRT building."
Taylor nodded and went outside. A PRT van showed up and they all got in. Taylor called Danny. "Search and rescue, then cleanup Dad. Unless my power decides it doesn't like Endbringers. No, I don't know where yet. I'll let you know before we leave here if I can. Turn on the news and you will find out before me probably. Send me a message if you do."
They all arrived at the PRT building and Taylor got in line with Amy. They were checked in and Taylor called Danny again "Canberra, Australia. No Dad. Still search and rescue. Amy plans to have me sitting in the triage area she says. Vicky and Crystal will be with us. Riley and Amy will be working. I'll tell them. Call you as soon as I can. We have transportation coming in a few seconds. Love you."
Taylor looked up "Dad says for everybody to be careful and they love us."
A man appeared, looked around at them all, and they disappeared. Or really reappeared somewhere else. Taylor turned, and saw the lights of a city in the distance, the armband she was given reporting casualties. Then everything went funny. She sat suddenly. The lights in the town stopped, then a cylinder of interstellar darkness rose and accelerated away. The noise died, then cheers were heard. Legend strode over to where Taylor was propped against Glory Girls leg using it as a backrest and Amy had her hand. Amy looked at him "Used all her reserves. We need to get her on a glucose IV and feed her."
Riley took out a bag of goop and stuck a hand in it and then grabbed Taylors other hand. Legend watched intently as a medic ran up and Amy got him to start a large bore IV. Riley sent another to the kitchens for meat, scraps if they had it, bones and all. Riley looked at Legend "Protein, Gelatin really. I was afraid of this. We will have to work on a formula for her, proteins, fats, carbs, minerals and vitamins. Now we need to get about half a kilo of fat in her along with the glucose. She is too skinny. Then we can move her to a bed."
A doctor walked away and came back with a container of pig skin "Sterile, for burns. Lots of proteins and fats."
Amy stuck a hand in the container and the skin dissolved into goop. She took Taylors hand with her other and the goop disappeared. A team ran up with a litter and Amy got Taylor moving to the medical tents then got New Wave organized for casualty evac and Riley and herself set up.
Alexandra flew up to Legend "Taylor Hebert."
Legend nodded. "Her power thinks Endbringers are dangerous to her."
Alexandria snorted "So it shredded the Simurgh down to whatever that core is. The Simurgh, the Endbringer we have never disturbed a feather of before."
Legend shrugged "She killed everything in Elisburg. Even the bacteria and virus in the soil, air, and water. Down to the bedrock. We should have realized she could do this. Danny is going to have a stroke."
Alexandria nodded "She needs to be in better condition. Are you afraid of a normal?"
Legend snorted "I'll let you tell her. And yes. She is a power nullifier and he likes to hit people with bats."
Eidolon arrived "Good I beat her here. What's the plan?"
Legend smiled "Search and rescue of the five blocks she had gotten too. Taylor Hebert arrived five minutes ago and the Simurgh left. What was left of her anyway."
Danny was watching the news. He blinked when the Simurgh fell apart. Thy winced "Wow that had to hurt."
Twenty minutes later the news was reporting what happened to the Simurgh was the work of a cape called Hera. Danny nodded "I'll have to send this Hera something nice."
Thy sighed "Hera is Taylor Danny. It's what the PRT calls her."
"She wasn't supposed to be fighting!" Danny rose from his chair and paced his office. Thy got on her phone.
A few minutes later Thy hung up "She is fine. She wasn't near the Simurgh. Her power did that from five kilometers away at least. She is exhausted and resting as they clean up and treat the injured. Apparently, the Australian government wants to make her a citizen and give her an island, or Western Australia, or something. The whole country is apparently holding its breath waiting on her getting out of the medical tent. Which isn't helping because her power is healing everyone within ten miles of her as well as repairing everything in that same radius. Amy and Riley have apparently fed her three sheep and are now going to do a water buffalo. As soon as the butchers they brought in get it cleaned and skinned. Well they are going to do the liver too. Maybe the kidneys, you know how British people are."
Danny blinked "What?"
Legend looked at Territory, the head of the Australian Protectorate and chuckled "She triggered seven weeks ago."
"G'on. Pull the other one, it's got bells on."
Alexandria looked at the muscular, sun scorched, woman in the bush outfit exasperatedly "Don't you think we would have had her in Madison if we had had her around for a while?"
Territory, an Alexandria package herself shrugged "Fine. Not cooperating with your image folks I understand."
Legend laughed "It's not a matter of cooperation with Hera. She does or she doesn't. They haven't found anything she likes aside from that urban camouflage."
Territory nodded "So the holdup is?"
Legend chuckled "Her girls won't let her up until she is a hundred percent. The more people show up the more calories she burns healing everyone of everything and so buffalo. For some reason they seem to contain what the girls think Hera needs."
Territory laughed. "Swamp or River? Doesn't matter really, she will be doing us another favor." Alexandria rolled her eyes.
Taylor hugged Danny. Then Thy. Then Miss Militia. Then she went up to bed leaving a buffalo scented burp in her wake. First, she stopped by the bathroom.
Danny turned to look at the sheepish girls who followed her in and arched a brow. Lisa sighed "We might have gotten a little carried away."
Danny chuckled "Fine. I got a gas mask. One of you gets to open a window in the bathroom and light a candle."
"Taylor looks good though. Filled out a little."
Glory Girl nodded "Another couple of buffalo and she will have hips, and the boobs to go with them."
Danny nodded, somehow managing to keep a straight face. Then he had to sit and wipe at his eyes remembering the conversations he and Annette had had about girls and body issues. Missy, Vista, hugged him. The others joined in.
Taylor sat at the lunch table surrounded by the girls. Minus Lisa who had her GED already, and Rachel who had a personal teacher who was an expert in special education, child psychology, and psychiatry. The wards were back at school as well. "What happened to Sophia Hess?"
Chris, Kid Win, shrugged "Still in counseling. Oh, still at Winslow too."
Dennis, Clockblocker, added "It's like a prison. Metal detectors, drug and bomb dogs searching all the time. Those ones Rachel trained. Patrolling too. How did she train them to stop bullying? Apparently the bullies get taken down and dragged to the office. That's the verbal bullying. Physical bullying and the dogs eat the bully. Or try if the handlers don't get there quick enough. A paddy wagon stops by at lunch and after school. Bars on the windows. Guards in the classrooms. Void Cowboy goes there, he posted pictures from inside the school and then somebody posted a video of him being dragged away into a paddy wagon."
Taylor was frozen with her sandwich halfway to her mouth "And kids still show up?"
Carlos, Aegis, shrugged "A law on the books, kids have to attend or the cops pick up the parents. They are using it as an excuse to pick up the parents and then throwing everything they can find at them. The city took over some Super Eight kind of motels, that chain that went bankrupt, and have the kids stored there when their parents are in jail. That seems to be actually working out for the kids. Besides them complaining about having social workers, medical staff and cops on site twenty-four seven. That seems like just complaining though. Still pretty serious reform school, more serious than juvenile hall."
Taylor chuckled "Serves the bitch right."
Dean, Gallant, looked around and made sure no one was listening "Heidi was Rune?"
Heidi had shown up one day, dropped in, literally, her robe smoking. The girls had folded her into the group. She went to Immaculata, the catholic school in town.
Vicky glared at Dean "And if she is? You want to know about another girl why exactly?" The male wards ducked their heads.
Lisa had a desk across from Danny's in his office. He kept her busy. If not on Taylors empire, then on the girl's personal empires. When she ran out of that he gave her work for the DWU. He felt like it was keeping her out of trouble. He underestimated her by a wide margin. It gave her access to the accountants, tax, and labor lawyers from the Union. She was now a thinker with all the tools. She was on a rampage.
She reduced the taxes on what they had gotten from all their exploits from forty percent to seven. Part of that was establishing a family bank. Another part was targeted altruism. Then she built a diversified portfolio.
Next, she figured out when to execute on each of the remaining quarantine zones and how to invest the reward money from each. Danny looked over her plans for them, then got Hannah and Thy to look them over and they all agreed. Lisa started making arrangements.
When that only took a few hours a day she bought derelict properties that had been seized for taxes or gone back to the banks when owners walked away from mortgages, for pennies on the dollar. She hired the DWU to salvage whatever could be and sold the salvage or fed it to the metal mill they had gotten up and running. As the oil refinery was brought on line and the chemical works fired up she either found customers, or, if it was cheaper, bought up businesses that used those products.
Susan, Sherrel, Squealer, L33t and Trainwreck tinked hard all day every day. Everyday something new and usually surprising came from them. With Susan around the others only had to go ask her for a material and then help her modify the refinery, chemical, power house, or metal works to get it. L33t was tempted in with materials and impossible request and Uber came along because boobs. Sherrel had been cleaned up by Amy, had her voce modified by Riley, had her legal work from her Squealer days handled by Thy and was a walking wet dream in coveralls. Uber made himself useful by becoming the world leader in system engineering. His power did that. Sherrel played him like a fiddle. He enjoyed it immensely. So did she.
Susan's appetite for chemicals and materials being what it was, a lot of their efforts were directed at obtaining those. Nothing was left but organic matter that wasn't harmful to life in an ever growing circle around the works at the center of her empire, well Taylor's but Taylor let her run it. When that wasn't enough L33t was pressed into designing machines to recover those materials from the local area.
What very few people were aware of was that Leviathan had wrecked most of the shipping in the world when he appeared. Putting three trillion barrels of oil in the oceans. Oil that most of the chemicals in the world came from. Every time he attacked he put another trillion barrels in the water destroying refineries and storage facilities.
Trainwreck tinked L33t's machines, then Sherrel if they needed to be mobile, Uber looked them over. Then some clanking, growling, monstrosity, emerged and went to work. A couple dug themselves into the ground, several drove into the bay, a couple sat beside the works making ominous noises. Nitrogen and carbon being free in the air after all.
More tankage? Another machine dove into the ground. Fish scales were a good source of something? The cannery, fish docks, and fishing fleet got tinked. Danny of course had to find people to run it all. Because the people didn't live at the docks the ferry and all its facilities were tinked and put back in service. More people to run that. Rolling stock and traction to move all that fish to markets after they saturated the market locally. Well the train yard was there. The railroad that owned it was in chapter nine.
The roads to move the stuff to the trains or markets were bad? A machine to eat the road at the front and lay down a new road out the back then. A crew to do the prep and finish please Danny. Lisa work on getting the paving contracts from the town and state, thank you.
Refrigeration? Nah, to resource intensive. Use these time stop grenades on ISO containers. Train crews please Danny.
It was all a bit of a blur really. Leaving Danny nicely exhausted and happy getting work for his guys, their wives, kids, relatives, in laws, and anyone else he could find that could stand up, hear thunder, and see lightning. Then the ones who couldn't do those things. He was easy pickings for the girls. Hannah and Thy were a bit more difficult to manage but their clocks were going off. They also both liked Danny and thought Taylor was spectacular. The opening stages of the dance were fairly easy. The part where Danny's WASP mentality met with the girls plans and Hannah and Thy's acceptance of polygyny was going to be a little more difficult. Mainly for Danny. Lisa could keep him busy and exhausted so his guard was down.
Riley rolled her eyes a lot. She could get them both pregnant by Danny after a handshake from him. She knew Amy could to. She didn't get it. It was kind of fun though. When she and Missy weren't doing something to violate the laws of nature and science. Then in a few years they could get everyone pregnant by Taylor. It would be fun! Especially Dennis! Maybe that would stop him looking at Shadow Stalkers ass.
The PRT and Protectorate of Brockton Bay had become a rehabilitation and training organization that then sent teams to New York and Boston. The East Coast San Diego. Nothing untoward happened within ten miles of Taylor. Not without the person committing the act or causing the problem falling down shrieking. If they pushed it they fell down in pieces. It was a quick way to sort the leaders, troops, wards, and heroes. There were several wrecks on the highways at the ten mile limit when drivers suddenly fell apart. The state patrol set up checkpoints and procedures.
Accord mapped the limits precisely, while he was in daily, teeth grinding, communication with Lisa. Contessa, Number Man and a number of Cauldron operatives and teams had returned from attempting to get within ten miles of Taylor shaken and with haunted expressions. Eidolon was one of them. Legend and Alexandria decided they needed some outside auditing of their agency. Accord was brought in as a consultant. He tore their organization and plans to pieces and told them he would have a plan in a month.
Riley and Amy got into a bit of a competition over who could make the oddest things grow in Brockton Bay. March was won by Amy with bananas. Riley was planning on taking April with oranges, lemons and limes from the same trees. The farmers in the area scratched their heads and did the work they were hired to do on the farms these crazy cape girls owned. The mahogany and teak trees were amazing. And those pecans and walnuts were impressive too. Didn't even need fences anymore if you let those crazy girls use your fence rows. Damn trees grew like bamboo, you could actually watch them growing until they got to marketable or nut producing size. Those weird machines siting around groaning and wheezing were a bit odd, carbon dioxide for the trees, right out of the air. Them funny looking buffalo were a hazard though. Mozzarella. Not sure it was worth it really. Oh well, the automatic milking barns made it easier and the grass grew in any weather. Places about ran themselves. Just had to go check on them. Them girls cured the Bangs disease too, with a touch, like faith healers for cows. Sweeny could have them damn giant chickens. Eggs were the right size but they laid a pallet of them at a time. Ate a bushel of grass pellets morning and afternoon too. Fucking roosters had spurs long as your forearm. Sweeny had that suit of armor he wore. Yep cows were better, even with the damn buffalo. Didn't have to run that pellet making machine did you? Now how do they want these fields laid out for these vegetables again?
Trickster looked at Sundancer "So you, Jess and Noelle are just leaving the group Marissa?"
Marissa rolled her eyes "No idiot. We are finding a place in this capes zone and holing up if we can cross into her effects."
"Luke, Oliver?" Trickster asked.
Luke shrugged "You are pretty much a fuck Krouse. You got Cody sold. He was a fuck to, but no one deserves that shit. Go or stay but don't think you are in charge."
Oliver moved the old bus forward and Francis Krouse, Trickster, screamed. Marissa shrugged "Back up Oliver. We will dump him here so we don't have to clean the bus up when she shreds him. If he can survive it then he can come to that barn over there. We will put the bus in there."
Taylor powered through her second prime rib as big as her plate and Amy frowned and lay her hand on her. "You're fine but you are using a ton of energy again. Like Canberra levels."
Hannah tapped her ear bud and started subvocalizing. Vista's earbud got an alert immediately. Danny asked "Hannah?"
"An Endbringer made her spend energy like that. I want some warning of whatever is doing it now." Hannah answered.
A rainbow of light appeared and there was a knock on the front door. Vicky went to answer it while everyone's phones were going off. Vicky came back with Legend. He grinned "I was in the neighborhood?"
A Dragon suit walked in with the floor creaking "I let myself in the back. Hope you don't mind?"
Danny tossed his hands up. Taylor shrugged apologetically and kept eating.
The PRT and Protectorate spun up into a search spiraling outward from Taylor's position. House to house. Legend came back the next day with his son and husband. Keith and Arthur. He got a hotel room as close as possible to Taylor's house. They found Taylor and everyone else at the DWU hall in the cafeteria pouring over a plan. Taylor burger in hand. Legend introduced them and Keith was soon riding hips around. Arthur talked to Kayden a bit, when talk turned from the children he looked at the plan. "All this open ground in the City? Near the water? Some kind of EPA exclusion? Wet lands?"
Kayden laughed "No. the city is from zero feet elevation at the boardwalk to ten feet on Lord Street but by the time you get to the suburbs it's a hundred and fifty feet or better. We're up against these mountains here. Once you are across this one strange range, the ground is two hundred feet or better and slightly rolling in the rest of the county. There is very little actually flat ground on this side, and some of it is actually twenty five percent grades. It's been occupied for nearly three hundred years though, so now it has this terraced appearance in a semicircle around the bay. The water courses were built over two hundred years ago. First they were covered in brick tunnels and then the area around them filled."
Larry Williams, the masonry foreman shook his head "Dry stone, granite. Some from ballast, some local. They still drain the surrounding area, could flood it too. Been down in those, years ago when the city finally stopped dumping raw sewage in the bay. Turned those into storm drains. Or their outflows. Most of them were arrow straight and went back near a mile. Then they change over to brick, then concrete. Now of course the sewer system is sealed concrete led to the sewage treatment plant here, other side of the boat graveyard. Taylor bought the whole thing. Privatized. We are back down there improving it. That crazy Susan wanted it and the storm drains. No idea what for. Big trap cisterns on the storm drains and thirty six inch mains to the chemical works. Pumps of course."
"Fucking everything is what for. Plastics, nitrates, Light scrap metal, synthetic rubber, platinum, eight hundred elements or compounds and they pay us to have them. We get process water as well once we are done filtering, precipitating and distilling. You can't believe how much water a rolling mill goes through. All of it up in steam. We capture a lot but still lose a lot in water vapor. I don't even want to talk about wash-down water from biodiesel production. We recycle ninety percent and still get through ten thousand gallons a day between all the processes running. Can't make the processes any more efficient or capture anymore and have humans working them. I voted for robots. Then we could seal the whole thing up and not lose anything." Susan supplied.
Kayden smiled "Arthur, Susan. One of our resident geniuses. The open ground is actually lots Lisa bought up for Taylor. For pennies on the dollar. Either tax sales or foreclosures. Then the Union salvaged everything. It's all in warehouses around here somewhere."
Arthur smiled "I'd like to see it all. Architect by trade. The husband brought us out here while he works on some crisis. He is convinced the safest place to be is near a cape he knows. Something about peeling an Endbringer like an onion."
Susan laughed "Taylor. They call her Hera. Yeah, she made mincemeat of the Simurgh. Ran the damn thing off. Nobody has seen it since Canberra. They wanted us to secure our energetic processes but they are continuous flow. It would take a week to shut them down. The dangerous ones are down on bedrock in vaults we think are Behemoth proof. Once they are built we can't do anything to them. The feed storage for them is down there too. Same kind of deal. If something breaks those we are all dead anyway. They will have cracked the planet."
Arthur arched a brow "Now I am interested."
Susan pulled him over to a table "Testing reports, construction reports. Plans and method of operation of the machine that made them." Kayden had lost Aster to a teenaged hip as well. Theo was following the group that had her captive. She followed Arthur.
Arthur looked through the information then looked at Susan "Buckyballs. Those are supposed to be tiny. And flammable."
Susan polished her nails on her shirt. Then sighed "L33t did it. We built the machine and I figured out how to get them the carbon." She shrugged "It liberates lots of other elements and carbon is a problem supposedly anyway. Right now we are sequestering more of it than the US produces. Win win?"
Kayden held up a paper "And you are being paid to do it?"
Lisa had walked up "Finally someone noticed. That carbon law they put in a few years back. Exxon Mobil wants to have our children. A bunch of power companies want to be our mistresses. We are the king of carbon sequestration. Arthur! Lisa, Tattletale if you are talking to capes. Tell me, have you seen the plans of the city? We are tearing down all those buildings in the blue area. We own them. How would you like to design a community to go in that area and maybe be expandable as we acquire more property? It would be both build on spec and to order. If you like industrial architecture you could help us with manufacturing, wholesale and retail facilities as well. We have daycare."
Legend looked at Taylor "Hera, how many of those have you had today?" He was eyeing the giant burger. Meat, bun, and cheese. About a half pounder.
Taylor swallowed "My jaws are sore and I lost count." Amy put her hand on her face. Taylor smiled "Thanks Amy!"
Legend sighed "OK, we will find what is causing this soon."
Taylor nodded "Lisa thinks it's one parahuman that is really messed up that came into my zone of effect? At least that's what the PRT are calling it. A parahuman like me, powerful and not manton limited she thinks."
Legend nodded and opened his mouth then put a finger to his ear. "A tobacco barn, here?"
Taylor nodded "Shade grown wrapper tobacco, not so much as Connecticut but some."
Legend nodded "The Travelers. Minus Trickster. They want to join Hera's crew. Hold on."
Taylor shrugged "We need all the workers we can get. Are they like, villains?"
Legend thought a moment "Apparently not. Well Trickster is apparently. The rest are inside your line, didn't even twitch apparently. A farmer found them and called the PRT. One of them has some hideous power that your power is working on apparently."
Taylor took a bite of her burger and thought a moment, then swallowed "If they are closer it wouldn't take so much energy?"
Amy added "Plus I can see what's wrong, maybe Riley and I can help it along or fix it."
Legend nodded "Bring them to the DWU. Full containment for the dangerous one. What? Put her in a suit, one of those Tyvek things we use for hazmat. She won't touch anyone then."
Legend dropped his hand "An hour probably. Now, what are your people roping my husband into Hera?"
"Phhttt! Like I know? Let's find out."
Forty minutes later they were standing on the widows walk of a six-story warehouse. Keith was in the day care with Aster. Arthur had a gleam in his eye. Legend sighed "You do pay fair right?" He asked Taylor.
Taylor shrugged "Sure. I can go do Madison if it's too expensive."
Arthur waved at her "The oil companies are paying you more than I will be able to spend. Plus, you already have all the building materials I will need. Or Susan can make them. I want to try this Bucky ball maker thing and see if we can get it to make houses."
Taylor nodded "Don't forget any holes. We had to have it eat one twice because you can't make a hole in it when it's up. Oh and connections to the grid. If you put two close to each other and they are opposite polarity they generate electricity."
Legend snorted "Tinkers are bullshit."
Vicky laughed "Yeah except they didn't know it would do that either. Or be magnetic in the first place."
Taylor pointed out in the bay "You should see the sea wall the thing in the bay is building."
Legend blinked. Vicky nodded "A honeycomb we are putting silt in. The University had a project all ready to go but no place to put the silt and no money. We get stuff from the silt and put the rest in the wall. It's inert. Once the wall is high enough we will pump the water out, rinse the salt out of the stuff that's left and start selling it as topsoil. The bay is like it is because it has a ridge all the way around it except for where the channel is. The wrecks in the channel made the silt drop out in the bay so we are cleaning all that back up. The fish love it. You could probably walk to the wall on the darn things. We did get dolphins and whales in the bay though. Eating the fish."
Missy laughed "And driving the fishermen crazy."
L33t frowned "The warning devices should have stopped them getting in the nets?"
Missy smiled "Yeah, now they follow the boats and catch the spillage out of the nets. They say whale puppy dog eyes are irresistible."
Taylor pointed "The PRT just turned off the highway. Come on, we better go down."
They made it down as the PRT convoy was let in. Armsmaster led them. Taylor ignored him and went to the van with the girl who needed her in it like she was on a string. Amy followed along. As did the rest of the posse. Lisa had brought a wheel chair. Taylor had to sit down. Amy flipped the hood of the Tyvek suit open and lay a hand on the girl. Riley put a hand on her neck "Wow. Talk about powers messing you up. What the hell did all this?"
Marissa sat down on the floor of the van at the door and started crying. Amy told her "Oh no it's all fixed now. We will have to annotate it all and send it in for Medicare. This is wild though."
Marissa looked up smiling while crying. The rest of the Travelers tried out tentative smiles. Amy checked Taylor "Half a buffalo maybe."
Riley nodded "She already ate the first half."
Genesis, Jess looked at her legs and stood up. She burst into tears. Riley rolled her eyes "We will have to check them all."
Two weeks later Carol Dallon found herself in the insane position of arguing for villains. "You can't just send Hera in. Some of these people haven't even had a trial. She will execute them. Legally the position is untenable. That's letting alone the fact that you are asking an underage girl to be the executioner."
Alexandria blinked. Legend sighed. The PRT legal staff looked at each other for a moment then started prodding their computers. Narwhal cleared her throat "We don't have the death penalty. Neither do we let criminals breed. The evacuation and quarantine was an inelegant solution at best. Dragon has a plan that she thinks might work. Basically, Hera starts ten miles out and moves in a spiral path. Toward the center of the city. We know her powers give the ones who are not guilty of capital crimes those illusions of being chopped up and then they fall over. PRT troops and protectorate capes follow the line and pick up those that have fallen over and we evacuate and processes them. Meanwhile we compress the guilty ones into an area of our choosing, that is indefensible, and they have to surrender or we just foam the lot of them then dissolve them out one, or a few, at a time. Then they can be processed and tried. They of course can surrender at any time they want."
Carol nodded "Tentatively that would work."
Danny drummed his fingers "This is going to take even more of Hera's time. I think we should go to an hourly rate on this. Let's say twelve million five hundred thousand an hour. Time and half for anything over eight hours and night differential if we go into time after eight in the evening."
Alexandria countered "Twelve five is fine but eight-hour shifts."
"Travel cost paid."
"Her transport is already paid for by us."
Danny smiled "Still, overtime, time and a half plus night differential. You never know what the situation might bring. That will cover her and her team."
Alexandria nodded "And if we need to avail ourselves of Amy and Riley's services?"
Danny produced a piece of paper with all the girl's rates on it. "Thinkers, Tinkers, healers, combat capes. The Hera group has you covered. Oh a Precog now. Forgot to add her to that one. Ten thousand dollars a question, limit of six a day, one every hour and a half at most and she will give you a percentage answer." He produced another sheet of paper with sample questions and the answers.
Alexandria looked at it and glared at him "You knew this would happen!"
Danny shrugged "High likelihood. Our thinker section prepared for it." He turned to Carol "Sorry, we didn't want to influence whether or not you presented this to them. Internally the Hera group came to what might best be called a hung jury on it every time they discussed it. They can see both sides, and provided the proper guarantees would have gone ahead." He lay a phone book thick contract on the table "They still want those guarantees by the way. An error in navigation and Taylor could kill them all." He shoved it across the table to the lead PRT lawyer "Hera already signed that copy for the group. We will need Chief Director Costa Brown and Legend to sign it where indicated. Notarized please."
Hannah picked up her phone "Alexandria. How can I help you?" Danny hadn't even made it back home yet.
Hannah smiled at him coming in the door. Thy and her had sent the girls out "What did you do to Alexandria? She wants your babies."
Danny groaned "You didn't say yes did you? Hell of a fit woman but I have more than I can handle already."
Thy grinned "I'll tell the girls they can sleep over at the Pelham's."
Taylor sat in the back of the dragon ship as Dragon navigated it around the line planned. It was planned for the highest efficiency and least time possible. Just above the tops of any obstructions. Dragon was also coordinating the Capes, Wards, and PRT forces to get the most efficient use of the hours Taylor had available. Taylor was working on her homework, and eating. It was a Friday night but she wanted the homework out of the way. The other girls were in their seats doing the same thing. Taylor scratched at the monitor stuck to her chest. She had gotten used to the net of sensors on her head. It was the end of April.
The plan was to circle Gary in a decreasing orbit fast enough that they made a complete orbit every half hour. The decrease was a hundred yards so they would bite off sixteen hundred yards today and then pick up the pace tomorrow. As long as the Protectorate and PRT could keep up. The town had had broadcast made into it and leaflets dropped. As had the area ten miles outside the line. Any who surrendered would be transported out between Taylors time on station. Anyone who resisted and just stood there and let themselves actually be chopped to pieces was fair game, suicide of a sort, they had taken all the steps they reasonably could. A liberal judge on the appellate court had even said so.
Danny looked at the dragon ship landing in the empty lot and checked his watch. No bad, two hours of overtime including travel time. Alexandria had been a little pissed about that one, but the lawyers had allegedly read the contract and sat in the planning meeting. It would take four more weekends at this rate. He had been right to go hourly.
The girls piled off and went for a walk. They looked a little stiff. He couldn't blame them. Gallup would probably only take two shifts but travel time was longer. Oh well, they would still make more hourly in the long run.
Danny frowned over the pork chops. "I don't know Taylor. Sure, I understand their position but you can't work eight hours and go to school."
Taylor snorted "Dad, I do homework or read on the plane. Dragon flies, Lisa schemes to take over the world. Everyone else does homework and yaps on their phones."
"Hey! I don't yap." Vicky waved a pork chop bone.
Danny looked at Rachel "I bet the dogs don't like it."
Rachel shrugged "They sleep. Planes pretty big too. We do some training. The dogs do too."
Hannah and Thy smiled. Taylor drug out the big gun "I get night differential for doing my homework. They only want to go until dark as well."
Danny sighed. It was a lost cause. "Fine but home by ten and in bed by eleven." Taylor leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. Danny grumped "Its fine you have an after-school job but you need to keep your grades up." He could see Gallup, Freedom, Eagleton, Flint and Madison coming up. He would have to look at the contract and see what it said about days off and leave. He knew it was a standard apprentice contract so had at least two days a week off in there. As well as a week's leave somewhere.
Taylor smiled "Dragon is a great tutor."
Legend looked at Alexandria and smiled "The troopers could use a break too. Plus they need time to get the next site prepped. And we are getting thousands of square miles cleaned up, an average of ten thousand square miles per trip. We will get New York and Boston for free. We got a big chunk of Chicago already."
"Damn Hebert is getting over on me somehow!" Alexandria growled.
Legend laughed "Just talk to Hannah and Thy and get in the rotation. Damn woman you have it bad. Just make sure Taylor is home to null your powers."
Alexandria stopped pacing and sat abruptly "I hadn't even thought of that!" Legend laughed until it hurt. Alexandria tossed him out of the Chief Director's office.
Taylor eyed the helicopter narrowly "Dad is a man ho."
Amy fell over laughing. Vicky face palmed. Lisa sighed "Leave Danny alone. He works hard, so do they, they are all adults."
Taylor grumped "She could have parked her ride at the PRT and flown over. She just wants everyone to know!"
Rachel sighed "Oh my fucking gods women are complicated." The others gaped at her.
Alexandria, for her part, had run into the bathroom and caught her glass eye in her hand as Taylor healed the damage done to her by the Siberian.
Taylor was sitting in class when the Endbringer sirens went, they were local "No, nope. Not fucking having it." She stood up and her classmates gaped as she marched out. The girls looked at each other and followed her. She marched to the PRT van that showed up at the front gate of the school and stood tapping her foot impatiently. The Wards, New Wave and a lot of their friends jammed in the van and Taylor told the driver "Take me to the DWU." The driver looked at her and nodded.
Amy got on her phone to Lisa "Get a steer cooking. Taylor is not having this shit." The Wards were texting madly.
Taylor got out of the van and marched up to her favorite warehouse and climbed the steps. Alexandria sprinted up behind her after arriving and finding out where they were. Vicky was flying food up to Taylor. "Taylor, you need to get in a shelter."
"Fuck that. Its Leviathan, isn't it? Of course it is, here come the clouds." She glared and the clouds dissipated out past the reef. "That bitch wouldn't have the nerve and Behemoth causes earthquakes. I am not having this overgrown, malformed, gecko fucking up my town."
Alexandria leaned into her "Are you on your period?"
Taylor blinked "No. Tomorrow, I think."
Alexandria rolled her eyes as the other girls blanched. First day worst day. "Look Taylor. It's the water that does the damage. Can you stop a tidal wave hon?"
"If that gecko with birth defects can make them I can blast them up his ass. We'll see how he likes a saltwater enema." Taylor nodded firmly and bit into a cheeseburger, medium rare, with mustard, pickles, and onions, savagely.
Alexandria turned to Danny who put his hands up palm out. She glared at him. He chuckled. Thy set up a video camera.
Jim Coots, the Harbor Master exited the widows walk access. "Used to use this all the time. Got to old. Damn knees hurt too much, or used to. I will have to start again. Now, he will have to come over the wall or through the channel. The wall will break up the waves except at the channel."
Taylor nodded "I got a use for his waves."
Jim nodded "Water jet cutting is a thing. High pressure, tiny nozzle. Let's practice on that hull right there. The blue and white one. That's one of Allfathers."
Taylor concentrated and a tube of water oriented on the ship and blasted it, sliding it sideways. The noise was tremendous. Jim nodded "Tip to big. Thousands of an inch we are talking about. Think a needle point. Pressure is good. Stove in that whole side."
Taylor took another bite of her burger and growled then looked at the ship again. It fell into slices. Jim nodded "Yep that'll do it. Now not trying to be an ass or anything but reach out with your feelings or whatever. I can see a wave. He is within twenty miles. Let the wave come. He is just pressurizing it for you. That's it let it come." Taylor bit her burger and pointed with her now empty hand. Jim nodded "Not too bright. In the middle of his wave. He got it rolling for you now though. Now don't stop the wave, pull the water down a funnel to that narrow tip and carve him up."
The noise was incredible, even miles away. Alexandria watched, amazed, this girl was just mangling Leviathan. She was watching it on PRT video from a Dragon drone in her HUD. She was fairly sure the jets that were bouncing off Leviathan would cut up ships. She zoomed in "Holy crap it's working."
Jim leaned back and rested his butt on the rail besides Danny "Your girlfriend don't trust us yet boss." Danny snorted. "You didn't know that would work Jim." Jim smiled at him. Lisa started telling Taylor which way Leviathan was going to dodge. He tried to go under and Jim leaned forward. Taylor used the water to lift Leviathan up and rotate him through the cutting path. Danny smirked "Now who doesn't trust who?"
Leviathan was sliced down to a black cylinder that finally got away, Taylor was getting tired and not so angry anymore, and the cylinder shot away underwater with Dragon tracking it on hydrophones until it was in the bottom of the deepest trench in the Atlantic. Vicky had flown Taylor down to the waiting gurney. Then come back and got Amy, then Riley. The others took the stairs.
Taylor was in the middle of a bloody prime rib grinning like a monkey. Lisa looked at her phone "Christ. I got seven hundred messages and climbing. I bet they are all insurance companies wanting Taylor on retainer."
Legend landed and hugged Taylor who squawked. Arthur sighed "Blood is so hard to get out, and the grease!" Legend had a smear where he had knocked the plate.
Lisa looked at Taylor who was working on her English lit. Or just reading. "It's your own fault. No damage so no day off from school."
Taylor grumbled "That's no reason to treat me like I have the plague."
Vicky laughed "You killed two Endbringers. You null all capes with ten miles of you right out unless you know them. You do heal everyone over time though. And you eat whole cows. They are terrified. Lucy and Amanda sat with us at lunch like normal. The others will figure out you are still socially awkward Taylor soon."
Missy giggled "Although the boys are asking the girls how to track periods. They cleaned the bookstore out of calendars. Someone showed them the apps too."
Taylor covered her face "OH MY FUCKING GOD!"
Missy laughed "Dean says what day of your cycle it is is posted in the Wards day room and the briefing room as well as the Tactical Control Center." Taylor was the color of a brick and texting like a mad thing.
Thy looked at her text and sighed. Hannah arched a brow, they were in a café having lunch. Thy waved her phone "Taylor found out about the boys trying to track her period."
Hannah coughed and covered her mouth "Its Commanders Critical Information in every level of the PRT. Maybe the Pentagon."
Thy blinked "So what do they think was the deal with the Simurgh?"
"Girl Fight." Hannah shrugged.
Thy snorted then sobered "There are too many women in leadership positions giving away our secrets."
Hannah chuckled "You mean women aren't the gentler half of the species? Or that nature red in tooth and claw was written about females?"
Thy nodded "Yes."
Hannah chuckled then sobered "Behemoth still worries me."
Thy nodded "Me too. Ten miles is a good standoff but we would have to go mobile if he got close. You know Lung, Fenja and Menja all grew proportionally to the threat though. Taylor was eight Ks from the Simurgh and over ten miles from Leviathan."
Hannah blinked "Only hundreds of meters from Eidolon? Man, he is going to be pissed."
Thy shook her head "Not if he keeps brain damaging himself in the road in front of the house." The two lapsed into silence.
Hannah finally broke "Alexandria's power is nulled at the house."
Thy nodded "But Legends isn't. Plus, only her brute I think. I get bruises, I've seen some on her."
Hannah nodded "So her invulnerability as well, or at least some of it. We do play a little rough sometimes. Poor Danny." She couldn't hold it, neither could Thy. They both laughed.
Taylor looked out the window "Tinker gone mad? What the hell?"
Lisa shrugged "Danny was right. This only took one pass. We made one point five billion on Gary. A billion on Gallup but these ones without people are going to go cheap. No idea how long Madison will take. The insurance companies are kicking in on the cost though. Flint will probably be another Gary. Freedom will be another ride out and back."
Rachel looked out the window. "So just one guy? I mean this one was a tinker who made a robot army. He killed everyone else?"
Vicky shrugged "Or they got smart and ran. Of course, then his army killed him. Interesting you turned them into scrap metal. Freedom is one church."
Taylor sighed "They won't say what the deal is with Flint but I think it will be a trip there and then one slow pass as well. Might as well go to Madison for the rest of that eight hours. I don't want to be doing this all summer."
Amy snorted "We have offers from everywhere not China. It's like me and the healing. We are going to have to let them handle their own problems except for the ones like these."
Lucy nodded "Though this one from the UN for Switzerland if we are successful in Madison could be cool and would buy us some good will. We could do some touristy stuff in Europe."
Amanda shrugged "The test run past the Ash Beast as well. I always wanted to see Africa."
Saint powered the new computer on and once it was ready he entered Dragons net. The computer melted. He cried. They couldn't get within sixteen kilometers of her physically, anything shot at her disintegrated ten K's from her and they couldn't get a single computer in her network. He had to figure this out.
Hannah looked at Thy "Are you drinking Taylors milk?"
Thy shrugged "My calorie intake has gone up twenty five percent. Yours has two. We aren't gaining weight. I think Taylor is taking whatever extra we get somehow. Otherwise she would have to eat twenty-four hours a day. Lisa started monitoring it on the aircraft. When she noticed how much everyone around Taylor eats but they are just sitting so should have gotten fat."
Hannah thought about that for a minute "Shit, don't let that get out or the health insurance companies will pay her to come visit the towns they have large populations in. How the hell does her power do these things?"
Rebecca got out her tablet "Her zone is growing. We thought it was her moving around but even accounting for that it is growing about a centimeter a day. It started after Leviathan."
Rebecca had unmasked to Danny. Tough to do what they did in costume. Rebecca continued "Some of the thinkers say it happened after the Simurgh too, but that was a fluid situation then the Travelers interrupted it by absorbing a lot of her power. We think her power learned to absorb excess energy somehow. Dynakinetic. Her 'shield' is her absorbing all the power out of whatever attack is thrown at her." The women were all in the kitchen of Danny's house in robes. The girls had left early for a trip to one of the quarantine zones.
Thy nodded "How wide is her path on the ground as Dragon flies her around now?"
Rebecca scowled at her "How long have you known about that?"
Thy snorted "The whole time. It was a pretty obvious application and you all didn't bitch about her being on the clock while riding back and forth in an aircraft you all provided." Hannah looked scandalized. Thy smiled "Business is business Hannah."
Hannah huffed. Rebecca smiled at her "Fifteen miles now. The flight plans are plotted weeks in advance and law enforcement notified. It doesn't seem to matter how fast she goes so we have covered a lot of ground. A thousand hours should let us cover it all, a thousand hours outside of her doing one of the quarantine zones low and slow. We have a lot of her time purchased for Seattle. Just in case she can raise those areas Leviathan inundated."
Thy nodded "Incidental versus intentional. A fine line but defensible with the UN's position on freedom of movement. Though a case can be made that she then owns that land as it is salvaged."
Dragon nodded from the screen mounted in the kitchen. There was one on nearly every wall of the house now. From four inches to an eighty-inch monster in the girls living room. "The Guild and Canadian Government paying for her to do the population centers of Canada does take it international. and let us clear paths back and forth to them as well."
Hannah frowned "Taylor knows this?"
Thy nodded "It came up in the Hera group meetings and is covered in the contract."
Hannah chuckled "So I am the only innocent around here."
Thy snorted "Us three and Danny at varying levels. The girls are going for world domination and having the local, state and federal governments paying for it. Along with any corporation that made a mess anywhere. Now they got the auto manufacturers paying them for carbon sequestration. They have one of those machines digging a dual track railway tunnel with four lanes of highway above it from here to every major city and lining it with that weird carbon material. Under the train tracks it has oil, and gas pipelines, electrical power and water distribution. Somehow it acts as one of those absorber machines and sucks everything out of the ground and sends it back here as a kind of crude oil. The pipe fitters that work down there in the refinery and chemical works ride trains or drive to their work sites in the tunnels. Susan has undermined the entire city and most of the bay looking for her raw materials."
Susan walked in from the back door "Hey! Well, OK, but I had to have the raw materials then we needed a place for the carbon so we just kind of added a layer to the bedrock. No one will be bothered. The tunnels were a way for us to transport the stuff we were getting from the absorption devices and since we were down there anyway we might as well gather up what was there right? Then we needed production space for all kinds of shit. Well they did, I'm pretty busy. Arthur has the machines making something new constantly. Well Dragon now as Arthur put in all the parameters and now only has to work on problems. Plus all these mechanical and civil engineers we got. It's like the Sims overclocked to a million. We finally hit the limits on the machines though and the plans are ahead of them now. I did get my robotic factories too. Steel likes a non-oxygen environment let me tell you."
"So, wore Danny out?"
Hannah blinked "No? Maybe a little?"
"Impressive with him all modified like he is." Susan waggled her eyebrows.
Rebecca started then groaned "Blaster healer in range and he is her father. Crap I will have to get her something nice."
Susan laughed "Amy and Riley too. They have caught him napping on the couch a few times. He could probably walk through one of my furnaces. Most of us by now. All that energy Taylor absorbs has to be going somewhere. They've practiced on each other and their girls. All of them are probably midlevel brute at least. I think there is some regeneration in there too. Rebecca, you should check your Wards and PRT that have been around here. Maybe the Hero's too."
Rebecca groaned "Another thing for Eidolon to be butt hurt over."
Thy nodded "I can't believe he is still trying once a week."
Hannah laughed "You should see what he is doing to the Villains trying to keep his rep up."
Thy snorted "Not like they are hard to find out there at the edges of Taylors zone trying to work up the nerve. He runs through eight or nine of those and gets his nerve up then bang, hole in the street."
Rebecca nodded "It's so embarrassing. My friend the macho idiot."
Hannah laughed "See your Eidolon and raise you Armsmaster."
Dragon yelped "Hey! Collin is getting better. Taylor hasn't frozen him lately."
Rebecca nodded "Which is more than Eidolon is doing."
"I think they are just playing, Eidolon and Taylor." Danny chuckled as the women all jumped. Hannah glared at him and then kissed him as he sat with a cup of coffee.
"How the hell do you move around this creaky house so quietly?" Hannah asked.
Danny smiled "Armsmaster has Asperger's or something."
Dragon nodded "I think so. He is getting better."
Danny smiled at her monitor "Because you are a saint. So, the girls are at work? They did Eagleton, so Freedom?"
Rebecca tapped her pad "And some touristy stuff in California since they are there. Yosemite, LA, Downtown. Like that."
Danny drummed his fingers. "This area increase is going to cut into our money. We will have to pick up some of these contracts. Mexico first I think. Then Central America. After that we might have turned the corner on all the infrastructure investment. After that it will be whichever ones Taylor wants to do. We won't need the money when it all gets self-sustaining."
Susan shrugged "Part of why I stopped by. We were tinking around and had an idea. We can build impervious structure and heard Ash Beast into it. We can then use the energy released to supply the area. We want to sell it to the UN."
Hannah gasped "That would supply all of Africa with free electricity."
Susan smiled "And we would be happy to put in power conduits."
Rebecca laughed "You just want to mine Africa."
Susan laughed "Yeah but this way they get something out of it. Rather than the white man colonizing and raping their resources. They can do whatever they want on the surface. We will supply fresh water and energy. Oh, and buy any products produced using our plans so money too I guess."
Danny arched a brow "Shipping?"
"L33t tinked up a portal. Damn thing worked the first time. We think firing it up was when it tried to kill him but we have gotten wise to the ways of his power. We started it in a room without him there. We can connect our tunnels to the ones we start there." Susan smiled. "We call it skip tunneling. We can go to where the resources are. Like here to those old oil fields in Pennsylvania."
Rebecca sighed "There really isn't any way to stop you is there? You will just find some way to buy one piece of land, its mineral and air rights and do what you want anyhow. With these portals your facilities won't even have doors. They will be inviolable."
Thy shrugged "But we are offering first. You know, in the spirit of cooperation."
Hannah snorted "So someone, who thinks they are crafty, has already pawned off a bunch of land on you at what they think was exorbitant prices but was really pennies an acre."
Thy shrugged "A hundred thousand square kilometers on Ash Beast current path. All of it in the Sahara."
Rebecca sighed "So are you going to put in a tunnel to the sea?"
Susan shrugged "No need. Portal in a big tank and one in the ocean. Now we just need Beasty boy to walk in his new house and it's all good."
Danny sighed "So tomorrow then?"
Susan smiled. "Nope, a month or so. Thy can get our agents there to help as well."
Danny grunted "Build a compound and we will unionize the workers and they can move in. That way no one kidnaps their families to make them do shit."
Susan nodded "See, always good ideas. Thanks Danny." She finished her coffee and left. Danny sighed and got out a tablet.
Rebecca asked "Does Taylor even realize?"
"She is the one that gives the suggestions that lead to these things." Danny replied. "I can't tell whether it's on purpose or not."
Susan chuckled looking at Ash Beast lying down on the impervious bed like thing they had built for him. She tapped on of the gauges and smiled. Even better than they had projected. Good thing Taylor's dynakenisis had a limit on it, unlike this poor bastard. Good thing she was sweetheart too unlike Behemoth. Now get these turbines online and the grid powered up and then she could turn her attention to taking care of Scion. Contessa. What a pretentious bitch. Still though, her data checked out and that thing on that planet was, well, there were no words really. Meanwhile Taylor would be distracted turning the Sahara into the Garden of Eden or some shit.
Lisa stuck her head in the door "I know what you are doing."
Susan rolled her eyes "So does Taylor. You play your games, I play mine. Not like I can't find a way to get a bomb onto him in whatever dimension he is in with these Cauldron capes. I don't like the idea of more people getting powers like Taylors and Ash Beast though. They all won't be as sweet as Taylor. I don't want her killing any more than she will already have too. If they can figure out how to put limit on the powers that people get without him then we can whack Shiny anytime."
Lisa nodded "Have a device ready to go. Amy will kill us all if something happens to Taylor."
Susan blinked, then nodded "Yeah, you might be right."