Disclaimer: I still don't own Worm. My dog got better.
/==OOOO== II ==OOOO==\\
I remained in bed when my alarm went off, far too early the next day. All the cuts and burns had vanished, as they always did, but they left my whole body aching and sore. It wasn't long after I heard my dad get up that there was a knock at the door. We had our schedule in this house, and we tended to stick to it. Sometimes it was a little restrictive, but other times it was useful, or comforting. This was one of the useful times. My dad stuck his head around the door and saw me still in bed.
"Are you all right Taylor? You're normally in the shower by now." He sounded worried. I hated putting him through this, but I wanted to get registered with the Protectorate as soon as possible. If they thought I was doing my best to be helpful, then maybe they would be less likely to pry if I withheld some of the less savoury aspects of my power from them.
"I don't think I can go into school today dad. I don't feel too good." I didn't bother faking a cough. I knew that after so little sleep I would look pale and ill enough to convince him.
"Yes, I noticed you were in bed early last night," he said. "Do you want me to stay home? I can make some chicken noodle soup?"
"N-no, that's all right. I'll just be in bed anyway. I'll see you when you get home."
"OK. Look after yourself Taylor." He went to shut the door, but then stopped and looked at me again. "Call the office if you need me, and I'll be home as soon as I can. Love you, kiddo."
"Thanks dad. I love you to. Have a good day."
He nodded uncertainly, and shut the door again.
I reset my alarm and lay back in bed, intending to wait until I heard the car leaving to fix myself some breakfast. Instead, only a few seconds later, I drifted off to sleep again. After the night I'd had, it was only to be expected.
/==OOOO== II ==OOOO==\\
I awoke once more several hours later to a crash downstairs. In Brockton Bay, break ins were not uncommon, and we didn't live in the best neighbourhood. As such, I would have been slightly worried if it wasn't for the expletive that followed.
I knew of only one person who had a mouth quite that foul. I rushed out of bed and started struggling into some fresh clothing, but before I was even halfway dressed my bedroom door swung open.
I span around and stared at Erik. He stared at me. He grinned, revealing his truly disgusting teeth.
He frowned at me. "I was jus' sayin. No need to be rude."
I glared at him until he muttered something undoubtedly disgusting and shut the door again. I could hear him lean against the outside wall with a thud.
I continued to glare at the door as I finished dressing. "Why are you here Erik? You know you aren't meant to come to my home."
"An' in the future I won't if this if the fucking response I get. Here I am keeping an eye out for you, tracking you down after you tell me to fuck off, making sure you ain't in some Protectorate holding cell..."
I rolled my eyes. 'Tracking me down' indeed. "Erik, you always know exactly where I am. I know you always know exactly where I am. Why are you really here?" I paused a second, and then added "And if you say 'catching a show' I swear to god I will hurt you." I paused for another second, wondering where the shy, reclusive Taylor of six months ago had gone. Erik managed to bring out the anger in me no matter the circumstances.
"I am checking on you. You never fucking told me what happened last night after you told me to leave. I fucking know that was a Protectorate van, but you ain't in custody so they didn't arrest you for fucking up Lung."
"Well done," I replied sarcastically. "It was Miss Militia. She wants me to go in for official power registration, and was laying on the Ward recruitment speech."
Erik seemed genuinely happy to hear that, which I took to mean he had an ulterior motive. "Ay! Nice work, that's what you wanted right? We can go get signed up right now!"
"Why are you so excited?"
"For the fucking good of the-"
"Erik. Honesty, please."
I could hear his lecherous grin as he spoke. "Shadow Stalker has the nicest pair of-"
"ALL RIGHT! All right, I get it. We're not joining the Wards, anyway."
"What? I was only fucking joking Taylor. I wouldn't really go after Shadow Stalker. Word on the street was she was the psycho behind that death at the docks."
I sighed and opened the door, fully dressed and with a rucksack containing the back up uniform Miss Militia slung over my back. I relayed what Miss Militia told me and he frowned.
"Shit. That sucks juicy balls."
I nodded and walked into the kitchen to make myself a sandwich for an early lunch. Erik tagged along behind me, evidently think hard. And for once, it probably wasn't about women. After a few minutes of silence, he looked up and smiled.
"Got it. Don't tell them."
I had to smile at his optimism.
"I'm not planning on it. But we still can't join the Wards. Sooner or later it would come out, with the level of scrutiny they put Wards under. You know it would." I said between bites of sandwich. "No, we're better working alone, with the Protectorate knowing just enough to keep them out of our affairs. We can probably even work with them directly most of the time."
I put the plate into the sink and gestured for Erik to follow me.
"Wait, if you aren't joining the Wards, why the fuck do I need to come?" he asked petulantly.
"You're getting registered too, as another hero. If we're going to keep going out," I ignored his grin, "sooner or later someone will see you die. It will be easier to get this done now rather than having to explain why you didn't register now, later. We'll tell them you weren't there yesterday."
Erik fell into step next to me, and asked "But if you were just going to make me register today, why'd you send me away yesterday?"
I shrugged. "I didn't know we were going to sign up today until after you left. And I know how your attempt at 'diplomacy' would have gone. We would have been arrested."
Erik fell silent, conceding the point. We walked in silence until we reached a deserted bus stop that lay on a route passing the PRT headquarters, before Erik opened his mouth again.
"You decided on a name yet? I thought of a few more, and I think you'll like these ones."
I stared at him incredulously. "Erik, the last name you thought up was 'The amazing boobless wonder'. Why would I ever agree to your names? On that note, I refuse to let you name yourself."
"Hey!" Erik protested, "The boobless wonder was a fucking great name. It's a work of art! Anyway, I took your less than constructive criticism and improved my suggestions."
I looked at my watch. "Why not. Hit me."
Erik smiled, and actually seemed pretty proud of the list on a piece grubby paper he produced with a flourish.
"No." I groaned and rubbed my temples tiredly. "Just stop. If it starts with 'The' or contains the words 'amazing', 'fantastic' or 'boob', cross it out."
Erik muttered and scribbled on the paper. "I'm fucking trying to be complimentary here Taylor. I could have gone with 'The awful' or something." He continued to cross out names and eventually narrowed down his list just as a nearly deserted bus pulled up. We took seats at the back, far away from the two other passengers, and Erik started reading again, quietly.
"Erik. I am going to make you walk out in front of a bus."
"Jesus, fine. I'll stop having fucking fun then." He spent a few more moments crossing out names, frowning, until there were only three left.
"Plague. No, no, hear me out. The rats, the insects? Very plaugey."
"Wow, you actually came up with a name that is neither inherently offensive or referencing breasts. I'm proud of you. No."
"Why?" Erik whined.
"Too evil sounding. Hero, remember?"
"Fine. Fine. How about... Kataphilein?"
I stared at him until he started to fidget. "What does that mean?"
"It means a passionate kiss, specifically like the one Judas gave Jesus." He explained. I stared at him. "Because, you know... innocent touch, leads to mutilation and death? I just thought it sounded nice.". I kept staring at him until he snapped "All right, my ma was a hardcore Christian OK? I remember a little bit of bible shit. An' I looked it up on a computer at the library a few days ago."
I shook my head in response to this revelation of a little bit of Erik's past but he took it as a rejection of the name, which saved me a little time.
"OK, fine. How about Grey?"
"Where on earth did you get that?" I responded, curious.
"You wear black and white. Your mask is black and white. You don't want to be a villain or join the big P."
I was actually considering it, much to my own astonishment. It was better than 'boobless wonder' at any rate.
"Maybe," I smiled at his look of shock. "But I think that may work better for you. And it rings a little of Grey Boy."
He frowned, before shaking his head. "Nah, I'll think of something for me if I'm definitely signing up."
I suppressed a snort. "You will not. We don't need 'The fantastic drug pusher' on the streets, thank you very much."
When this didn't immediately generate an indignant response, I looked up to find Erik seemingly deep in thought. I knew he'd be at it a while, so I started checking how many stops we had left.
"Fuckin' Carnie! I can be Carnie. And you can be Harlequin. Carnie like," He paused in thought, "Re-incarnation." he paused again. "But also like clowns. I like clowns."
I was actually quite impressed by the level of thought he'd put into that one, but I still shook my head. "We aren't having a team naming convention. And even if we were, it wouldn't by synonyms for clown." I looked at his frown. "Yes yes, I know. I'm no fun. But I'm pretty sure Harlequin is Trademarked on Earth Aelph." I chewed the inside of my cheek for a second, before being struck by an idea. I hit him on the shoulder to attract his attention and then explained, absently wiping my hand on my jeans.
"You could be Resurgent. It sounds nice enough, isn't rude, and hits at your 'power'."
Erik mouthed the word a few times before giving a nod. "It'll do for now. Might change it later."
The bus started to slow down for our stop, so I stood and Erik followed. It was only a short walk from the stop to the PRT building; it was a popular tourist destination by Brockton Bay standards after all. We walked in without issue, but then I was presented with a dilemma. Miss Militia had never said exactly how to register without being obvious. I looked around for a few seconds and called Erik back over from where he had been gravitating towards the sweet counter in the gift shop.
"Erik, how are we meant to do this?" I asked
He looked at me like I was an idiot for a few seconds. "Just put the fucking costume they gave you on?"
"What about you?"
"It's not like my 'costume' even has a mask anyway. I can put a fucking bag on my head or something if it worries you that much."
I nodded to myself and we walked back out to find somewhere for me to change out of sight. Eventually, I settled on a small alleyway behind a dumpster, and told Erik to stand guard. I was halfway through pulling the featureless suit on when I heard Erik's voice.
I sighed. "Erik, this suit goes on over my clothes. I have no intention of giving you two shows in a day."
There was a moments' quiet, and then Erik's voice came back, sounding almost dejected. "Now I have to choose between saying 'yeah, but you bent over real nice', or 'But a show tomorrow is a possibility?' and I can only say one."
There was no way for me to get out of this with my dignity intact, so I settled for ignoring him. As bad as Erik was, I owed him, and he did do his best to keep me alive in the fight with Lung and his flunkies. I settled for "Erik, shut up." and heard the gratifying sound of his mouth clicking shut mid lewd comment.
/==OOOO== II ==OOOO==\\
This time, our entrance to the PRT building was significantly less unnoticed. There were a few screams, a few cheers, a few camera flashes, and lots of muttered "Which one's that one then? Are they new?" from people who didn't follow the cape scene as obsessively as I did.
The girl at the desk looked up at the commotion, and her eyes widened at the unknown in a Protectorate suit and a second unknown with what seemed to be a paper bag on his face. With eye holes and a hastily drawn smile.
I walked up to her and said in what I hoped was a clear voice, "I met with Miss Militia last night. She told me to come in for registration as soon as possible, and for questioning about Lung."
The girl, who had been looking between Erik and me seemed to gain focus when I mentioned Lung. She pressed a few buttons on her keypad, and then gestured to a nondescript door marked "Staff Only" to the left of the desk.
"Through there please. You will be asked a security question or two, and then someone will come to collect you for your statement, registration and if you have time today, testing."
I nodded to her, smiling before I remembered that the featureless mask covered my mouth, and walked through the door. There were two men in heavy looking body armour and holding the famous foam sprayers that were the signature weapon of the PRT, and the flame-thrower like weapons were pointed squarely at us. A third man in a suit stood between them.
He spoke with a soft European accent, but I couldn't place where from. "So, you are the one who brought down Lung last night?" At my nod, he continued. "Well then, could you please tell me what happened when Miss Militia found you? Just for security, you understand."
I nodded again. "She pulled up in a van, pointed a gun at my chest, and phoned Armsmaster to check I wasn't a villain."
Then man nodded. "Close enough for me. This way please. Will you have time for a powers test today?" I looked at my watch and did a little mental arithmetic, before nodding. I should have just about enough time. "Then we shall send word to Miss Militia, as she requested to be present at your power testing. I assume that won't be a problem. While we wait for her, you will please give you statement on how you managed to defeat Lung, the man who has before faced entire teams of Protectorate Heroes and walked away after stalemating them. This room, please."
I followed him into a small room with a table and two chairs.
"My apologies, but I was told that only one person was present at Lung's capture. I will have another chair sent in."
I sat across from the man, and after Erik straddled the chair brought for him and the man turned on some kind of recording device, I relayed what happened, with a few modifications.
"I was doing a patrol when one of my rats led me to a group of ABB. Lung appeared, and I got close enough to hear that they were planning on killing some kids, so I knew I had to try and stop them, or break the group up a bit at least.
"Lung sent four after me to capture me to start with, but I stopped them and then Lung singled me out. I got him in the face with some Pepper spray and hit him in the... um. I got him between the legs with my baton pretty hard. Then I used my insects to scare off a bunch of the gang members and was making sure that the ones who went down would stay down when Lung got me from behind. I was freaking out and then I accidentally pulled him with me when I tried to use my teleporting to escape. That is what damaged him so badly. It was just about then that Miss Militia found us."
Then man spend several minutes asking for a few clarifications like where this had been, how many gang members there had been and other details I hadn't thought to include before he nodded. "I assume that just how you dealt with the gang members with insects, your rats and your teleporting will become apparent after your power testing. Very well. If you and your... associate will follow me, we will go to the basic power testing labs. If needs be, we will ask to schedule another test at the advanced labs in the Protectorate HQ later on, but these will work for all but the strongest or most exotic powers."
We followed him until we reached an elevator, which he gestured us into. "Miss Militia is waiting for you in the labs. I will escort you out later. Good day." With this, he pressed a button, and the elevator began its soundless descent.
Erik turned to me, probably to say something rude, degrading or offensive, but the doors opened before he could. Miss Militia was stood there, waiting for us. She lifted an eyebrow at Erik, but turned to me with what I thought was a smile. It was hard to tell behind the scarf.
"It's nice to see you again," I stuttered. It was different, meeting someone who last saw you coated in blood. She didn't comment on my awkwardness however.
"Likewise. I'm sorry, but yesterday you hadn't picked a cape name yet. Do you have a preference, or should I give you a generic handle for now? I can't keep referring to you as Girl, although some of the PRT have taken to calling you Dragonslayer." she finished with a chuckle.
I smiled back at her. "Grey." I ignored Erik's whoop, but Miss Militia turned to him.
"And who are you? Grey was the only one there yesterday."
"I'm Resurgent. I'm Grey's team mate, but she went out alone yesterday." He looked conspiratorially at Miss Militia. "Between you and me, I'm the careful one." I couldn't hold in a snort at that.
"And why do you have a bag on your head? It's an unusual costume choice."
Erik reached up and pulled it off, then raised his hand at Miss Militia's shocked expression. "I don't really have no civilian identity to protect. It was just for the fu- the crowd upstairs." He shrugged. I caught the near slip, but Miss Militia let it slide. She gestured for us to follow and started walking down the corridor to a large open space. I caught up with Erik.
"All right, why are you being so polite to her? You haven't even made a lewd hand gesture since we arrived."
"Grey," I could hear the smugness in his voice. I thought I'd have to change the name soon just so he couldn't lord it over me, "This lady could blow my head off with a thought. That's a good reason to be polite." I nodded. Note to self: Acquire threatening explosives to make Erik shut up.
We reached the testing room, and looked around, interested. We were currently in an office-like room about the size of my bedroom with a computer in the middle. One wall was entirely taken up by a window that showed a view into a second room the size of a medium storage warehouse made almost entirely of grey concrete, with several areas in striped yellow warning paint marked out on the walls and floor. Miss Militia picked up a bag that sat next to the computer.
"Grey, I have your clean costume in here if you would like to change, or you can keep using the grey suit you are currently wearing."
I looked around for somewhere to change while accepting the bag. Miss Militia walked over to the computer and tapped a few commands. After a few seconds, a large slab of concrete in the warehouse like room simply slid out of the floor, hiding a small area of the room. I smiled in thanks and went to get changed. I was pleasantly surprised to not hear Erik's semi-obligatory 'Nice' comment, but I saw the reason when I walked back into the office. Miss Militia was casually leaning against the wall. Resting in the hands was a loaded soviet era RPG launcher, and Erik was apparently transfixed as the end didn't quite keep pointing at him. Either Erik had made a pass at her when I'd left the room, or Miss Militia had good ears and a sense of humour.
Miss Militia looked up as I entered the room, and the rocket launcher blurred in her hands, becoming a long, thin knife that she sheaved with practised motions.
"Excellent. Now, Doctor Jund is on his way with his assistant. They will be the ones actually testing you, but they were unfortunately detained on the way. I will try to explain the basics to you while we wait.
"For all capes, it is vitally important to know your powers. What they can do and perhaps more importantly, what they cannot. We will take a record of your powers so that if we can integrate you into the wards more easily, or even if you do not join the Protectorate Wards program that should we meet in the field we will not be surprised by what you can do. So many independents refuse to come in for testing, never realising it is as much for your benefit as for ours. Wards of course get access to our records, but I'm afraid we can only provide very limited files on villains to Independents and it will take a significant time to get to you.
"Capes are broken down into twelve types, to make them easier to categorise. Each type has a rating, from zero to ten. Zero being no talent in that area, and ten being exceptionally strong. Capes can easily be multiple types, with different rating in each, even if they have a single power. The types can be memorised with a little rhyme, like this:
"Mover, Shaker, Brute, Breaker, Master, Tinker, Blaster, Thinker, Striker, Changer, Trump and Stranger. Capes can have more than one category like myself, and if the multiple categories all stem from a single power we link them with a slash in the file. Most types are relatively self explanatory, but I can give you a quick run down if you would like."
I thought I would probably work out most of them if I had time, but I nodded at her, knowing she was filling time till the Doctor arrived.
"Movers have some added ability to move. Vehicles, enhanced speed, flight or teleportation are common examples. We usually also specify what type of movement, so a teleporter who needs line of sight and has a maximum range, arrives a full ten seconds after leaving, and can only teleport once a minute would be roughly Mover two: Teleporter, whereas a someone who flies at supersonic speeds for hours at a time without stopping while carrying their team mates would be around a Mover six or seven: Flight.
"Shakers effect a large area, exerting control on the field. Almost every effect that covers an area surrounding the cape are Shaker effects. Common ones include forcefields, manipulation of spacetime, use of gasses and things like that. Labyrinth is Brockton Bay's famous example, or our own Vista.
"Brute capes are stronger or tougher than a normal person. You don't want to get into melee range of a Brute. This could come from any source, from producing armour, regenerating, having stone hard skin, but in practice they tend to be quite similar.
"Breakers have some ability to break the laws of the universe. A surprising number of capes have this classification, but often it is a simple as a fire based cape being immune to heat. Some breakers have a second form, a second state, in which they gain extra powers or still have access to their primary powers.
"Master is for capes who can control or create minions, anything from touching cutlery to control them from that point on, all the way to creating legions of humanoid projections.
"Tinkers, like our own Armsmaster and Kid Win, have an intuitive grasp of science years or decades beyond the rest of us. Using the equipment they make, they take on a range of other classifications at varying strength. This testing room uses a lot of Tinkertech.
"A Blaster has offensive, ranged capability. Lasers, projectiles, thrown shards of bone, anything. This is often one of the first things a Tinker will focus on, just after Brute-ing themselves. The projectiles do not necessarily need to be damaging outright, but if we found a healer who worked via energy beams, they would not count as a Blaster.
"Thinkers possess skills, knowledge or perceptions beyond any human. Seeing future events, seeing through walls, acquiring skills without learning them all some under Thinker.
"Striker capes have touch based or point blank range abilities. Everything from Panacea's healing to Clockblocker's time stop are Striker abilities. Someone super strong but with no added durability would be a Striker rather than a Brute, but the two are often linked.
"A Changer alters something about themselves. Maybe they change into metal or stone, or into a mythical beast, grow extra arms, or any combination of above. They can grow weapons from their bodies, have two forms or hundreds. We're a versatile bunch.
"Trump powers effect other Powers. Removing them, weakening them, strengthening them, or even granting entirely new ones. Some trump powers are powers that change in the circumstances. Eidolon is a good example, as his powers change at will.
"Finally, Strangers have powers that lend themselves to infiltration. This is a large category that commonly pairs with another. For instance a Stranger/Changer could turn into shadow or mist, a Master/Stranger would stop you from being able to harm them. Pure strangers are just as powerful however. Invisibility, walking through walls, things like that.
"Are there any questions?"
Both Erik and I shook our heads. Miss Militia nodded.
"Do you have any idea, based on those, what classification you will be? For instance, my power turns into any weapon I want, and I do not need to reload. This gives me a low changer score as I can change weapons at a whim, and a medium Blaster rating."
I was thoughtful. I could Step, but it wasn't any faster than walking. And it wasn't useful over long distances because it was quite possible that I would miss the target by a huge distance, and I still had to physically traverse the distance. Linked to that was my ability to destroy anything I brought with me when teleporting. I could summon my creatures too, and had some form of low grade regeneration as I discovered after my first outing. Knife wounds vanished in seconds, but left my whole body aching for over a week. Erik, we could probably pass off as a low grade Brute due to his lack of death. I nodded to myself.
"Resurgent is a Brute, I'm a... Mover slash Striker, master, brute." I told her. It was close enough I thought. I'd only omitted a single slash.
Miss Militia's eyebrows rose again. "That is an impressive mixture. Although it would have to be to beat Lung. Very well. The Doctor will be here in a few seconds for a preliminary test. If you decide to join the Wards we will schedule a more in depth test later on, but for now if you wish to move into the test room we will get started. I am eager to see what you can do."
Erik followed me into the main testing area, then turned to face me.
"What are we tellin' them?" He whispered to me "Which bits we gonna leave out?"
I smiled at him, even if he wouldn't be able to see it behind my mask and whispered back "Pretty much all of it. You don't need to worry, except for... the big thing."
Erik nodded, looking relieved, and a voice came over a pair of large speakers I hadn't noticed until then. The voice was new, so I felt safe assuming it was Doctor Jund.
"Hello? Can you hear me?" We both turned to the window and saw a portly looking man holding a microphone. He wore a dark grey turtle neck and what looked like a perpetual scowl. "Good. Now, Miss Militia tells me that Grey, you think you are a Mover slash Striker, a Brute and a Master. We'll start with you. Brute is often the easiest to test, so we'll begin with that. Please clearly say what your perceived Brute power is."
I hoped that whatever microphone they were using hadn't been strong enough to pick up on our whispering, but there was nothing I could do about that now. "When I take damage, specific wounds vanish in seconds. But it leaves me feeling tired and aching."
The Doctor nodded, and started writing on a clipboard. "Well, that's easy enough to test, but if it involves you having to be hurt and you don't just perfectly regenerate it we may as well leave it for accidents in the field. Next, your master power. Please clearly state your perceived Master power."
"I can summon and give orders to a number of rats and insects. The rats are bigger just normal rats, but I think probably more intelligent. But they can't count, and their colour vision isn't great. They also can't speak."
The doctor nodded without looking up from his clipboard. "Please demonstrate this power."
I shook my sleeve and a fat, oily rat wriggled out, falling to the floor with a thud where it sat looking slightly confused. The doctor made a 'hmm' noise and tapped at a few keys on the computer.
"Can you give it commands?"
At the doctor's prodding, I got the rat to walk in a circle, climb some steps that rose from the ground and follow me around. He didn't seem particularly interested.
"Now, your mover slash striker power. Are you capable of using them separately?"
I nodded. I didn't like this doctor.
"Well then, please demonstrate your perceived Mover power."
I looked at Erik, and he subtly braced himself. I wouldn't be able to move far. I stepped into the Everything, took a few steps to the side, and reappeared. The doctor tapped a few more keys on the computer and scribbled on his keyboard.
"There was a delay in your reappearance. Is the delay constant?"
I decided it would be faster to explain than let the doctor tease out the truth through many boring questions. "No. When I Step, I move to another place. There's nothing there, and I can move there and then come back. If I want to go a long way, I still have to walk the distance. I just ignore elevation and walls."
The doctor 'hmm'd again, and pressed a few more keys on the computer.
"Fine. Fine. Your Striker power?"
I decided to go with the less violent one first. I took a step into the Everything, a step down, and came back, punching upwards as I rocketed up out of the floor.
The doctor scribbled on his keyboard. "Hmm. Looks like a minor Breaker power too. Is that all?" He finally looked up at me. I didn't know what it was, but I wanted to wipe that bored, disinterested expression off his face.
"No. There is also this."
I picked up the rat, stepped into the void and stepped back immediately. To the Doctor and Miss Militia it seemed that I picked up the rat, flickered for a split second and the rat fell through my fingers in a shower of gore. The other place is not a good place for life.
"That's what happens if someone comes with me when I Step. That's what I did to Lung."
"Fascinating. Thank you. Now... Resurgent, what is your perceived Brute power?"
I gaped at the man behind my mask. He just discounted the ability to kill anyone I could touch, coupled with the ability to go anywhere. Not that I wanted to be feared or anything. I spared a glance at Miss Militia. She was staring at the red mess on the floor with an odd look on her face.
"When I die, I come back." Erik said.
This, finally, caused the man to look up with something like surprise on his face.
"Really? Are there any lasting effects on you?"
Erik frowned. "It still hurts, but that stops when I die. Apart from that nothing."
The doctor scribbled on his clipboard for a few seconds, and then looked at Erik. "Would you be willing to demonstrate it?"
Miss Militia interjected with "I'm not sure that th-" but the doctor waved her off.
"I spend most of my days examining the same powers over and over again. A phoenix style parahuman is something I haven't seen before. Now how should we..?"
Erik gave a small grimace and walked over to me, putting his hand on my shoulder.
"Let's get this fucking over with."
What was left of Erik poured to the floor as I stepped back. The sight seemed to shock the doctor somewhat.
-Scraping in the piss scented water, grabbing for a pipe, a bottle, the dropped knife, anything as his hands squeezed-
The bloody mess vanished and Erik stood on the other side of me, dressed in his ratty jeans and stained jacket, holding a short knife. The knife quickly disappeared into a pocket.
"I always appear like that. No costume, no mask, and a fucking knife. S'why I didn't bother with a fancy secret identity like Grey. She insists I need the name though."
The doctor looked positively enthused by the whole prospect. "And are there any limitations?"
Erik looked at me for a split second, wondering what to tell them.
"There's a time limit. Like a... protection. I won't come back till the danger's gone. Till the fight is over or whatever." He chewed his cheek for a second then added "And I always come back next to Grey." My breath hitched slightly. I hadn't planned on telling them that. He'd best have a good reason. "We got our powers together an' she was what I was thinkin' of when I died." He took an opportunity to leer at me, "Now we're inseparable."
While the Doctor scribbled notes and tapped keys I muttered "Insufferable, more like." and Erik grinned happily.
"Well," came the Doctor's voice from the speakers, "I think we're done here. I'll have the files posted later today. I'd guess at a Brute rating of four or so due to the time limit for Resurgent, coupled with a minor Mover rating, and Grey... A low Mover score, with a Striker rating of six or seven, low Breaker, maybe only one or two, a Master rating of four or so and a Brute rating that is currently set at two but may go either up or down with more data. Good day." And with that he removed himself from the office room.
Miss Militia met us in the office. "Well, that's the basic test done. That's all we can offer for non Ward minors I'm afraid. Speaking off, are you currently planning on joining the Wards scheme? There are many benefits to consider, and it really is the best place for new parahumans. With us, you will have a guaranteed support structure in place, and-"
I cut her off, seeing as I already knew what our answers would be. "No, thank you."
The walk back to the elevator and the ride up passed in silence, with Miss Militia accompanying us. Her power was manifesting a new form every few seconds, and she seemed to be eyeing me warily. As we left the Elevator and Miss Militia casually let herself drift out of arms reach, I realised that I had shown very little feeling in killing Erik or the rat, and most construct summoning capes didn't leave messy stains. I then refused to join the biggest hero team in America. That wasn't a good combination for the girl who would kill with a touch. I turned just as we were about to leave into the reception area. There wasn't a lot I could do about that right now. But I could stop Erik from taking credit for my name.
"Miss Militia, I have decided on a cape name. Grey was one that Resurgent thought up on the way here... Could you record me as Monochrome?"
/==OOOO== II ==OOOO==\\
A/N: So, chapter two is down. I wrote this around two years ago, and have only just picked up the pen again. I thought I'd post these now. Not sure if or when the next chapter will drop, as always.
Also, Erik is a bad man. I do not condone his remarks nor language. Just thought I'd put it out there