AN: Well, for those of you who have been following my snippet thread you know that I've been turning out an update a week for this story for five weeks straight now. That's not a pace I've been able to set for any idea in a long time. So I'm conceding to the will of my muse and to peoples interest in the idea. I'm warning you all right now that I'm flying completely by the seat of my pants with this one. I've got no long term plan no plot I want to cover it's just going where it goes. I've never tried writing anything this way before so I don't know how this will go long term but I'll do my best to bring you all an interesting fic regardless.
This is a Worm altpower fic. with the power coming from KHR. Taylor is a Mist primary, Storm secondary, and Cloud tertiary. For now at least I'm going to limit it to those three flames. I won't rule out her gaining access to more flames later in the story but if I do it will be a slow buildup each time as she learns to use the new flames. Again though not sure about that just yet.
I don't own Worm, or KHR, not making any money writing this, etc etc, please don't sue me it wouldn't even be worth the cost of your legal fees.
Please remember to leave a review if you enjoy the story! As always constructive criticism is good for my growth as an author. Idiotic nonconstructive flames will be ignored, and remember that if you post as a guest to rant about something stupid the author can in fact delete your review! So use an account, that way we can't delete them and instead get to yell back at you! :D
I had followed the Yakuza wannabe for the past three blocks, making sure to stay well back and out of sight. I trailed him with an illusionary bat and watched him through its eyes. He didn't seem to be up to anything worth getting involved with, but he had been moving with a purpose when I first saw him and the three others he had joined up with him since then reassured me that I had made the correct choice. With any luck they would lead me straight to a distribution center I could rob. Though I hoped they wouldn't lead me to a whore house. I'd probably have to call in the 'heroes' if that happened, and that would make it difficult to take off with all the cash.
My bat's sharp ears caught more voices from farther up the road. With a thought I ordered it to fly ahead of the group it was following even as I moved down a side ally to circle around from farther away. The closer I was the less energy I would need to expand to maintain my illusions, but if I was going to fight them I didn't want to be on the same street as my targets.
I was in luck there was a fire escape leading to the next building over from where the group had gathered. Slowly I worked my way up, taking my time to minimize noise. Then, just as my boots touched the gravel covered roof of the building I heard words through the bats ears that made me freeze.
"The children, if you see them, just shoot."
For a moment I froze. I wasn't out to be a hero. I was out to make as much cash as quickly as I could. But I had morals, I had standards. Children were not acceptable targets. I blew out a long slow breath and let the bat fade out. Immediately I started to conjure up a swarm of insect illusions. All around me little sparks of the indigo fire burst into being swirling around me and losing their light as they took up the shape of a swarm of insects. These particular insects were my own creation, not something that could be found in nature. Each was an inch and a half long and jet black with iridescent wings. The bodies were shaped like wasps but rather than a normal stinger each had a scorpion's tail. When I stopped conjuring them the swarm must have numbered close to a thousand. It was a bit of a strain but I could likely hold this many for an hour.
I'd grown much more skilled at using my power since I had triggered. This would have completely exhausted me when I first started to practice. I wasn't certain if my reserves of whatever energy I used had grown, or if my control had improved and I wasn't wasting as much as I used to. Perhaps both?
I took a careful breath and focused inward. The purple fire did not come so easily as the indigo, or red fire, but I could use it if I had time to focus. I pulsed the purple fire out and the number of illusionary insects doubled, tripled, quadrupled, then stuttered to a stop. I shook of the fatigue and light sense of emptiness. I still needed to practice more with the purple fire if that was enough to empty my reserves of it. Still, my swarm now numbered more than four thousand and I still had indigo and red fire to burn if I needed. This was the better method tactically speaking.
With a thought the swarm dispersed on silent wings to come at the group from every angle. They were illusions, they wouldn't make any noise unless I wanted them to. Once they were all in position that changed. The noise of a million wing beats filled the air around the group of ABB coming from all directions. I'd gotten the noise from watching videos online of locust swarms and thought it would be fitting. Back when I thought all I could do was create illusions I had thrown myself into researching every aspect I could think of in order to make the most of my power. Even now that I knew I could do more those plans would still be useful.
Now I just had to make myself and my intentions known.
"Go home. This is my city and I won't allow you to simply do as you please." The voice was deep and disembodied seemingly coming from everywhere and as it spoke the pitch of the swarms wing beats changed with it as if the swarm itself was speaking. Despite the kick ass sound effects I cursed myself for using such a cheesy heroic line.
Several of the group seemed to whimper, but at least one voice snarled something in a language I didn't recognize. Then a blast of fire shot from the group into the swarm and my blood ran cold. The ABB only had one pyrokinetic, Lung. I was in way over my head, but it was too late to back out now. Worst case scenario my attack would fail and I'd just have to sit tight under an illusion until the group moved on.
The same voice that snarled broke out into a harsh laugh.
"You would challenge me with nothing but illusions? Fool, real insects would have burned. This is no threat." He barked an order, again the language I didn't recognize and the others of the group fell in behind him.
Well… there went the peaceful intimidation angle. Plan B; get rid of the weapons.
The swarm descended still sounding like a plague, because there was no reason to give up my intimidation factor. Seeing through the swarm's eyes was, well, impossible. I could manage one or two extra sets of senses if I closed my real eye and focused, but seeing through thousands of eyes at once? Nope. Not a chance in hell. Luckily, I could give my illusions simple instructions. In this case I ordered them to search for guns, knives, and baseball bats. It didn't cover all of the possibilities but it was the best I could do and would take care of the most common types of weapons.
There was a lot of shouting and what sounded like a girlish scream before another shouted order got them reluctantly moving again. I gave things a twenty count before I moved on to the next part of the plan. I fed a bit of the red flame into my illusions. I couldn't see it from here but I knew from my practice sessions that the stingers would now all be glowing an ominous red. I gave the ones who had found a weapon the order to sting.
The surprised shouts sounded like music to my ears. With a thought I summoned an owl and closed my eye to focus on its senses. I made it take wing over the swarm below. I grinned at the site of weapons dissolving as the red flames ate away at them and the panicking gangsters. Once again, I let the swarm speak.
"Just because they are illusions doesn't mean they have no bite. Go back to your homes. Leave my city in peace." Uh where was I getting this cheesy crap? If someone winds up calling me the Plague Paladin or something equally stupid for this there would be hell to pay. Lung snarled and started to grow as I watched through the owl's eyes. Everything about his posture screamed defiance. And he remained silent. The swarm sighed. "So be it."
The swarm attacked. I gave each gang member a few stings, just to get them moving. It would eat away a bit of them, but I wasn't feeding each insect much of the red flames, so they should be fine given a bit of time to heal. Lung on the other Hand was a regenerator who grew stronger as he fought. I was far less inclined to hold back against him. Most of my swarm descended on him.
Lung lashed out with bursts of fire but it had no effect on my illusions. They settled all over his body and deployed their share of the red fire stinging him and taking off to make room for others. Even as they took wing I started to feed them more of the red fire in preparation for their next run. The owl had difficulty seeing the effect between Lungs fire and the cloud of insects circling him, but even so I caught glimpses of flesh disintegrating leaving behind pits in his skin and muscle. Lung was growing faster now, but he was also screaming in pain as I kept up my attack. Still, I didn't want to underestimate him and give away the advantage.
A pair of snakes ten feet long and as thick as my arm both a deep purple, snapped into reality at Lungs feet. I fed them a good deal of my red flames and their fangs glowed accordingly. In a blink each buried their fangs into a leg injecting the disintegrating fire into Lungs veins. The man howled in agony and toppled to the ground. My snakes pulled back and I charged them for one more attack. I could feel my reserves of the red fire starting to dwindle but I had enough for the snakes to bite again and keep the swarm going for a few minutes more.
Lung was still growing, but it was in patches. Silver scales bloomed across what flesh my insects hadn't marked and his arms seemed to grow larger but his legs only appeared to wither away.
I ordered the snakes back in and they each took an arm in their fangs. I let the snakes fade but kept the swarm on the attack letting each insect spend its charge. Lung howled in agony before he trailed off with a whimper and started to shrink. I pulled my swarm back before they could kill him and dismissed the illusions which had already spent their supply of the red fire. I kept the remainder circling. With the demands on my focus now reduced I opened my real eyes, only keeping enough focus on my owl to be aware if Lung started to grow again.
I smiled. My first night out and I had beaten Lung. The man was arguably the strongest cape on the eastern seaboard, his only real challenge for the title being Legend, and I had beaten him soundly on my first night out. I turned towards the fire escape planning to find a payphone to call this in on when a group of monstrous looking beasts with riders landed between myself and the fire escape. Four people sat on the backs of the three creatures.
I slid back a step and into a combat stance. My illusionary purple cloak shifted as my feet moved, rather than hiding my body from view as it had been it retracted and flowed so as to only cover my back and leave my arms their full range of motion, though the hood remained and so to did the illusion of deep shadows that hid all but my mouth. Beneath my cloak was a simple outfit of black combat boots, jeans, and a long sleeved black shirt. With a thought purple fire sparked between my hands forming a partisan spear. I leveled my weapon towards the new group and fed my red fire into the blade making it glow and angry red. As an extra precaution I pulled the remaining insects up to the edge of the roof and made them wait out of sight.
"Easy there, we don't want to fight." The girl who spoke wore a skintight purple costume and a predatory grin.
"She's right." The deep voice came from a guy in biker leather who wore a bike helmet painted to look like a skull. "We just wanted to thank you for the save. When he heard Lung was after us… well our best plan was to hit him fast and hard and hope for the best."
"Wait, after you? He said they were going to kill kids…" I shifted my spear into a less confrontational position, but did not dismiss it. Fucking hell, I'd jumped into a fight that wasn't my problem at all, and I wasn't even going to get any cash out of it!
"Ah- ha yeah that was us." The girl in purple answered even as she dismounted and walked around me to the edge of the building making my paranoia ratchet higher and causing me to back farther away so as to keep them all in my line of sight. The girl whistled low and impressed. "Man, you really did a number on him, you know that?" The others dismounted at her comment and made their way to the edge of the roof. The beasts they rode in on settled on their haunches like dogs that had been told to sit.
The large muscular girl in the fur lined jacket gave a grunt and a nod at the sight of the downed Lung before moving back to the creatures. The pretty boy in the puffy shirt who carried a scepter grinned at the site and offered me a thumbs up. The one in motorcycle leathers nodded thoughtfully and glanced at the blonde in purple. The girl in response raised a hand and gave it a back and forth tilt as if to say, so so. Skull helmet turned to face me fully as if in response.
"I'm Grue. That's Tattletale, Regent, and Bitch." He gestured to the blonde, the pretty boy and muscular girl in turn. "We're the Undersiders."
"Morganna." I replied giving only my cape name. I had heard of the Undersiders when researching the local capes. They were small time, smash and grab or heist specialists. Rumor had at least half of their jobs being against the cities more prominent gangs.
"Oh, clever. Morganna was one of Morgan le Fay's less modernized names, fits with the cloak look too. Hmm oh good you're not one of those Myrddin types, just playing up a theme, that's good." Tattletale rattled off quickly. I raised an eyebrow before realizing they couldn't see my face.
"Correct." Tattletale pouted, possibly at my bland reaction. She opened her mouth to say more but paused and looked over her shoulder down the road.
"Crap, Grue, time to go, Protectorate is coming." The group quickly remounted, but before leaving Grue looked back towards me.
"Do you want a lift out of here? We owe you one after all." I considered the offer. I could stay and meet one of the cities heroes, well assuming the girl in purple was correct. But I wasn't interested in hearing them give me the Wards pitch. And so far, the Undersiders seemed alright.
"Sure." I took the offered hand and climbed on behind Grue. Then we were off.