It cast its awareness across the world the Thinker had selected for its cycle before its demise and found itself pleased, the Warrior wasn't going to be carrying out the Old Cycle anytime soon.
The Entity continued parsing the world chosen, as well as what few precognitive Shards It had to ensure everything could continue as It had planned.
This Entity wasn't like the Warrior or the Thinker. If anything, it would call itself a Wanderer, as its Shard composition emphasized neither Combat nor Thinking, but rather, tried to strike a balance. It, like all entities, relied on Shards for strength, longevity, power, and intelligence as well as a Cycle for creating and testing new ones. Once an appropriate number of Shards was achieved, a new, young Entity would be born, taking a small number of Shards with it.
Most of its kind relied on a Cycle that involved using the inhabitants of several iterations of a single world to act as hosts for the Shards. These hosts would discover new ways to use its power, and, when the Shard gathered enough data, it would bud, creating a new Shard to go through the Cycle. The Cycle would end when the Pair that has settled in uninhabited and dimensionally isolated iterations of the world left their temporary abode, taking the Shards with them. This act would destroy all the iterations selected for the Cycle.
The focus in conflict was necessary for growth, but the narrow-sightedness of its fellows astounded It. This Cycle that most, if not all its kind used was inefficient and it showed across several areas. Most newly born Entities would have to travel across the dimensions looking not only for a partner but also for a suitable world to carry out a Cycle on. Of all the energy an Entity uses across its existence, it was this search that expended most of it. Using precognitive Shards could significantly reduce the amount of time lost, but the energy expended by the Shards would be the same if not more, and using a Broadcast carried an element of risk, because while it could attract more of its kind, one that it could hopefully carry out a Cycle with, it could also draw the attention of a Pair that doesn't wish to expend too much energy on a search and would consume the young Entity for energy and Shards.
No, this was unacceptable.
This Entity had put more thought into the nature of the Cycle than other Entities would deem reasonable, but it had come found a solution to its dilemma in the most unlikely of places.
While observing a world it had no interest in it had noticed a small detail. When the inhabitants needed sustenance, they would take it from several places but the one it focused on was the creatures that inhabited the wilderness of their world. Some would-be-hosts needed to hunt beings that, while of lesser intelligence, were of much greater size. So, rather than hunt them directly, the inhabitants took a piece of organic matter that their prey used for sustenance, called it "bait" and used it to lure the creature into a place of their choosing, where they would spring their trap and be feasting on the being's remains by the time half a planetary rotation had passed.
All it took was one absent thought of this act's basic resemblance to the Cycle to spark an idea, an idea that would eventually develop into a New Cycle.
Most of the Entity's Shards were somewhat average when compared to a juvenile Entity, but one of these Shards was special. It had taken it during a conflict between its Progenitor Entity and a Pair that was in dire need of Shards. During this battle, most, if not all the Pair and its Progenitor's Shards had been destroyed, drained of energy, or simply lost to the vast expanse of the universe, and the three Entities had expired. But the young Entity, born just before the beginning of the battle seized its chance and absorbed all the Shards and Energy it could. The Shard that would become instrumental to its New Cycle was taken from its Progenitor. This Shard was not only of a complexity that rivaled half of its own Shards combined but it was also the only one of its kind, its power could only barely be challenged by the bud it was close to producing. The Path to Victory would be stored with all its core Shards, right next to its Administrator.
When the realization of the possibility of a New Cycle struck it, it realized that, much like the inhabitants of that world somewhere out there in the cosmos, it already had the perfect Bait, even if it carried a significant element of risk.
The first time had been a success, the young Pair never suspected that the smaller Entity one of them had exchanged Shards with had been plotting their demise and harvest. The complexity of the Path to Victory had distracted the Thinker long enough for it to crash into a world and for the inhabitants to kill it. Dealing with the listless Warrior had been remarkably easy when it shed many its Shards for its Cycle. The strong Shards were collected and, given that it hadn't landed on any iteration of the world chosen it didn't need to destroy it. The weaker Shards, both its own and the Pair it had killed, were either left on the world's uninhabited iterations or consumed for energy. Some of the harvested Pair's energy it left among the Shards it abandoned, particularly Broadcast. These Shards would continue to collect data and bud even if it were absent, as to act as Bait for young pairs. It had convinced the discarded Broadcast to call out to any young entity pairs that drew too close to the world, it would then warn the Entity so that the New Cycle could begin anew.
A young Entity had been following the Pair hoping to collect any discarded Shards but had instead found the world used for the New Cycle, after an extensive conversation, aided by the Path to Victory it convinced the other Entity of the New Cycle's effectiveness. The Newcomer, as it had taken to call the new Entity opted to remain close to the world, receiving a slightly restricted bud of Path to Victory. Having a partner, while closing a few options on how to continue the New Cycle, offered a chance to implement the Old Cycle if it ever became necessary, mainly due to a need of energy rather than Shards.
To make the appeal of the New Cycle even greater, some of the world's inhabitants came to see The Wanderer, as it had taken to calling itself, and the Newcomer as benevolent forces that protected their world, this made it so that the Hosts would aid against other Entities if it became necessary, reducing the risk of demise.
But a single world wouldn't be enough to sate two Entities, even if excess energy from the slain Pairs was distributed as evenly as possible on the Shards left behind.
There was a need for another world to be added, and the Newcomer agreed. It opted to remain with the first world as to carry out the New Cycle if the need arose, while the Wanderer chose to find a new world. Both Entities would occasionally migrate in between the first and soon-to-be-second worlds as to keep the Shards varied.
A simple application of Path to Victory saw it find a world mostly covered with water that was relatively close to the world the Newcomer was in.
It had been too arrogant, when it gave the Path to Victory to the Thinker of the coming Pair among some of its Shards, never bothering to check its Precognitive Shards to see if the application of the New Cycle was feasible.
Only when the Thinker crashed and was slain by the locals did it check if a victory was possible.
Only then did it realize the extent of its mistake, for this was not a young Pair as had been hoped, but an Elder Pair.
Even with many its Shards discarded and the Thinker dead, the Warrior was far too powerful a foe for it to face alone. Even with the Newcomer, the battle would be a close one, and it couldn't afford for other Pairs to stumble into the first world and harvest the Shards there if the Newcomer left, and to make things worse, if it decided to harvest the Thinker's remains and retrieve the Path to Victory, the Warrior would notice its presence immediately.
The Path to Victory lost, the New Cycle endangered and its own existence on the line. This didn't look like a situation that could be fixed even with extensive usage of Precognitive Shards, the Wanderer's only chance was to, hopefully, sneak past when the Warrior decided to leave the world and retrieve the Path to Victory, but it was very likely that the Warrior would take it upon leaving. This would greatly delay the New Cycle by a larg-
The Warrior had discarded its Administrator.
A quick check with its Precognitive Shards showed that its current plan had a small chance of succeeding, but it was the only other option, and with the Path to Victory out of reach and inside the Old Cycle it couldn't afford to fail.
[QUERY REITERATION: PROPOSAL]
What have they done now?
Winslow High was seen by most Brockton Bay residents as a cesspit filled with delinquents, gang members, druggies, or some mix of the three but this only constituted a fraction of its actual student body and staff.
But if anyone had asked me, plain, gawky Taylor Hebert, I would say it was Hell, not because of the gang members or the junkies, but because of the bullying the resident Queen-Bee Emma Barnes, Winslow Track-Star Sophia Hess, and the cutesy hanger-on Madison Clements put me through every day.
My father, Daniel Hebert was head of the Dockworkers Union, while many would say that this gave me a lot of influence in Winslow this couldn't be farther from the truth, because as the shipping industry slowly died thanks to Leviathan, coastal towns like Brockton Bay that depended on said industry are now facing a steadily declining economy. So as my father was busy trying to keep a sinking industry afloat, he also had to deal with the tangible absence of...Mom. She had been the one to hold the family together, and I still hadn't moved past her death, it was more than likely that I never would.
My dad didn't need any more stress, so I kept the bullying to myself. I can take it, slow and steady wins the race after all.
I had almost convinced myself this passive approach had worked when the pranks seemed to stop rather abruptly for a few days and seemed to carry on over Christmas break, but now I realize that I had been in denial.
The closer I got to my locker the more I noticed the looks that everyone was giving her, ranging from pity to outright laughter; and the more I noticed the smell that seemed to permeate the corridor.
After checking myself to see if something had happened to me and not my locker as I suspected and hoping that the smell was coming from somewhere else, I chose to soldier on. It couldn't be that bad right?
By the time I reached her locker I'd been disabused of that notion, the horrible stench was coming out of my locker. All the students had formed a small circle around me, wanting to see just what was in it.
With hesitation, I keyed in my password and opened the locker.
The horrible smell hit me like a bullet and the sight was even worse. There seemed to be some sludge at the bottom intermixed with what looked like used tampons and other hygiene products in similar conditions, with maggots and flies feeding on the remains.
I couldn't stop the bile from exiting my mouth and entering my locker, such was the stench that all I could really focus on was trying and failing to cover my nose as I watched my school supplies, already in deplorable conditions, be bathed in puke, with a small part of me hearing the laughs, jeers, and groans of disgust.
With all my focus on the abomination in front of me, I didn't see Sophia Hess barrel into me shoulder-first, shoving me into the locker. A sharp pain on my forehead revealed that yes, I had hit my head on the way in, the stench told me that yes, I was in the locker filled with flies and maggots and the loud clang followed by a click told me that yes, I was locked in.
I could hear the students laughing outside, maybe someone would help me?
"Let me out! Sophia! Let me out!" I cried out.
"What's wrong Hebert? Don't like the smell?" Sophia was taunting me.
"Seriously, stop this! Please!" They were laughing, they were ALL laughing as if my cries for help were the funniest thing they had ever heard. And at the head of it all was Emma, my former best friend, who had used a 10-year friendship to utterly ruin my life with secrets I only trusted Emma to keep.
I kept calling for help even as the laughs petered out as everyone left to their classes, and eventually, I stopped yelling as my voice went hoarse.
No one was coming to help me, even the teachers. Why don't they help me? Why d-
Two incomprehensibly great crystalline beings dance across the void while a third, smaller follows undetected from behind them. The smaller of the two briefly exchanges pieces of itself with the third before it retreats into the darkness.
The Pair exchanges many Shards of themselves, great spots of bright light falling at great speeds. One of them is just about to hit her when she notices the third being had come a lot closer to her, or more specifically, to the Light that had almost touched her.
[QU-Y REI-ATI-: PROPOSAL]
Wha- What...were those things? And were they...talking? No... they were doing something...something else.
And what's with the bee- Wait, the locker!
Now aware of the linen blankets covering me and the smell of disinfectant in the air it isn't hard to figure out that I'm in a hospital.
I groggily sit up, rubbing my eyes, but before I can process it a pair of arms is squeezing the life out of me.
"Taylor! Oh, thank God you're all right I thought I was going to lose you!"
He was understandably worried as, from the few hours I had spent in…in the locker...I had gotten Toxic Shock Syndrome, so I had to stay in the hospital for a while. Unspoken was the fact that we wouldn't be able to pay the hospital bills in one go, but apparently, there was a solution for that.
One that really really pissed me off.
The school had offered to pay the medical bills, but only if we agreed to press no charges, and Dad, being unable to pay for a drawn-out legal battle had accepted. He had walked out to talk to a doctor about something or other, I didn't really care.
They were getting away with it. They stuffed me in a locker filled with biohazardous waste and they are going to get away with it.
I was so focused on my internal rant that at first, I didn't notice the presence I felt on the back of my head. When I did notice, however, I was understandably alarmed as from what I could tell they were about...a floor or two below me?
What is this? Am I... Am I a cape? Did I get powers from the locker?
My excitement was dulled by the fact that if this person was two floors below me then it was a very shitty power, because I know for a fact that Dad and one of the doctors are right outside my door, so if I couldn't feel them, then it probably has a very specific range that this person just so happened to be in by complete accident.
Or...maybe it's something about the person?
I focused on the presence a bit more and th-
[SHAPER] Biology restricted, cannot target self, passive immunity to harmful substances in Host body, can affect other Host's connection with Shards.
Panacea. It can't be anyone else.
I sense capes. A small, terrified part of my mind uttered. Another small part of me was really fucking angry at the fact that Dad just told me that we couldn't pay medical bills while goddamn Panacea was in the building.
The rest was busy remembering what I'd read about New Wave and how after they unmasked themselves in their bid to increase cape accountability one of their members, Fleur, I think? had been murdered inside her own home by a gang member from E88.
Kaiser had publicly crucified him a few days later.
I didn't know much about capes, but I knew that outing a cape was a BIG NONO.
And with my powers…
I could do that just by walking down the street.
What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gon-
What the fuck?
(IMPLEMENTATION OF IMPROVED LINK SUCCESSFUL)
(DESIGNATION: ADMINISTRATOR SHARD)
(ALTERNATIVE DESIGNATION: QUEEN ADMINISTRATOR)
(ALTERNATIVE DESIGNATION: ORIGIN OF POWERS)
A/N: Known as Abaddon to the fanon, the Wanderer wasn't just going along his merry way when he bumped into the Thinker and dropped the PtV, but it still greatly miscalculated. But with Zion doing nothing and noticing that QA was among the discarded Shards it took a gamble. Shards want conflict, so if there is no cycle, the conflict is limited. Abaddon offered the QA the New Cycle, with evidence that it works. Weighing the possibilities, QA agreed.
More on Abaddon's plans later.
Kinda forgot to mention this, but I was inspired by a Snip vote over at Spacebattles.