IMPORTANT A/N: This chapter underwent a major rewrite on Feb. 17, 2019, at the same time as the publishing of Interlude 2.x (Coil). Returning readers should really re-read it.

'So, how do we fight them?'

'I do not have any combat programs installed and cannot answer your query.'

I resisted the urge to scream in rage. Maybe not having combat programs just meant the Kaleidostick didn't know how to use what it had.

'What kind of offensive and defensive spells do you have?'

'I do not have any offensive or defensive spells.'

"Damn! You have got to be kidding me!" I cursed aloud. This was even worse than turning into a magical girl!

What was even the point of wielding a Kaleidostick that didn't have any magic?

Initialization 1.1

"May you live in interesting times, boy!" the man cursed at me, and signed the document. He stood up with a snarl, glaring death at the woman standing beside me, and almost knocking the table over, before storming off with his entourage and bodyguards. One person stayed behind, face as white as a sheet.

"Thank you, I truly hope I will." I watched him leave and chuckled to myself. Although it was meant as a curse, I genuinely considered it a blessing.

My lawyer grabbed the signed documents and quickly reorganized them. "Looks good. We have all the paperwork we need," he informed me.

"No…how could this be…? My life's work…stolen by a devil…" The one man who stayed behind collapsed to his knees.

"You should be happy, Mr. Totenheim. I heard you were planning to retire soon. We've simply taken care of that for you."

He screamed and charged at me, but was stopped by my bodyguards. "You monster! Don't act like you're doing me a favor! This was my last chance! I needed the money!"

Through a combination of legal and illegal means, I had persuaded Mr. Kraken to cancel the bridge loan that would have saved Totenheim from defaulting on other debts. Once he defaulted on the usurious loan he had foolishly taken from a dangerous gang, it would lead to a chain of defaults on all the various debts he personally owed and in companies he was invested in, including some debts that I had secretly bought from his former debtors, which would allow me to seize his collateralized assets at a tiny fraction of their true market value.

How did he get into this situation? Well it wasn't all me, I couldn't take the credit for that. That was mainly his uncontrollable spending on luxuries, gambling, and questionable activities.

I stepped in front of him with a scornful expression. "You dug your own grave, Totenheim. All the people you've abused and stepped on, all the atrocities you committed behind closed doors…the police might not have been able to find anything on you, but your victims have never forgotten. Mr. Kraken understood this, but it seems you still don't get it. At least this way, you can try to disappear quietly. There are worse fates out there than losing your hedonistic lifestyle."

"I can't just disappear! They'll find me, and they'll kill me if I don't have the money to pay them back! I'm going to die…!" He devolved into sobbing hysterics.

"Did—did we really have to go so far? He looks so…" A voice whimpered beside me.

I turned to look at the source of the voice, a young woman no older than twenty, perfectly proportioned with a symmetrical face and flawless skin, dressed in a fashionable black leather jacket and red skirt.

I gripped on to her shoulders and turned her to face me.

"This is all thanks to your hard work, Angel. I couldn't have done it without you. As promised, the lead role in Violet Millennia is yours," I said. "Everything is already lined up to make it the biggest show of the decade. Director Solzburg has already agreed to work with us, we have more than $50 million for marketing alone, and I've already arranged for HyperTV to broadcast on a primetime slot. This is it. You're going to become the biggest rising star in the world, just as you dreamed of."

Violet Millennia, a book series that took the world by storm, was the most anticipated TV adaptation of the year and its production rights were owned by a company Mr. Totenheim had owned a small percentage of shares in. Once I seized those shares from him, it would give me the last bit of influence needed to decide who would be part of the production.

She listened to my honeyed words and her worried eyes relaxed. A bright smile replaced her hesitant expression.

"You two-faced bitch! Your father would be rolling in his grave if he knew what you did! If it weren't for you, John wouldn't have gone bankrupt! None of this would have happened!"

I quickly pulled her away with me and gestured to my men, who dragged the violent and psychotic Mr. Totenheim away.

"I know this is what I wanted…but I'm just feeling a little bad about it now," she confided in a low voice as we walked toward the limo.

"You know how this industry works. My way is the only way you can reach the top without subjecting yourself to the hidden rules. You've already seen the difference between yourself and your old friends, haven't you? Would you have rather have allowed yourself to be stained like that?" I said, escorting her into the vehicle.

"No, of course not. I—I know how much you've done for me," she said, turning to face me from her seat with an intense expression.

"Good. Go on, Angel. Your future is waiting for you," I said.

Her hand rose slightly as if wanting to reach out to me, and her mouth opened to speak. I pretended not to notice, shut the door, and put on sunglasses as I straightened back up.

She rolled down the window as the car started driving forward. "Before I start filming, I want to thank you properly! Please visit me!" She yelled out the window and waved.

I waved back.

Afterwards, I made a call. "How did it go?"

"Perfectly. The court rejected the restructuring deal once one of the debtors backed out, and approved the joint buyout offer from us. We'll get the pharma business, including the patents on the stem cell treatment we wanted, and the rest will be split up or liquidated. The company is done for."

These days, wealth was of little concern to me. I had long realized that there were plenty of things that money couldn't buy. Things like game-changing privately owned stem cell treatment research results.

"What about John Colie? Did he agree to sell his collection yet?"

"Yeah, funny thing about that. He had a stroke at the end of the court session, and was declared dead an hour ago. Because he doesn't know his son's already dead, he never changed his will. And since the idiot son left everything to his girlfriend…"

"You mean…"

"Yup, Angel is just going to inherit everything. I swear, that girl freaks me out sometimes. Too many coincidences, you know?"

"I see." Many of those coincidences, like the death of the son, weren't coincidences at all. I had known Angel for too long to be fooled like that. She was like me in many ways—almost like a female version of myself.

She was more easily affected by emotion and empathy, but once convinced that a course of action was justifiable and necessary—especially if it was for the sake of somebody she truly cared about—she could do things even I would hesitate at. And she really did have a tremendous talent for acting. That was why we worked together, after all.

The stroke that killed John, on the other hand, was indeed a chance thing. I would have laughed, but I was almost annoyed that it was so easy. Success was good, but I had been looking forward to the final challenge to finish this project.

Damn. Why couldn't he have lived a little longer and resorted to using underground connections? At least that would make things more interesting. No, that was hubris talking. I knew I should be glad that things went as smoothly as they did.

It was just…it felt boring sometimes, compared to when I first started and I had nothing, clawing my way into power and wealth inch by inch.

"We're done here. Take care of the rest of the legal work, I have other business to attend to," I ordered my lawyer.

Soon, I was left with just my three bodyguards, and I called for a car to pick me up.

Twenty minutes later, while we were driving across a section of forest, four black vans came from the two sides of the forest and cut off the road in front of us. We came to a forced break with a heavy turn, tires screeching as men in black emerged from the vans with assault rifles and opened fire.

I spoke too soon, it seemed! Perhaps John really did hire a hit on me.

Our car was bulletproof and heavily armoured, so even assault rifle fire couldn't get through the doors. Unfortunately the glass windows couldn't be made to that strength, so they quickly shattered, and we ducked down.

My bodyguards reacted immediately and returned fire with handguns, but they couldn't aim effectively without moving their heads up.

The driver tried to hit the gas and turn the opposite way, but he was stopped by an explosion that knocked us into the air. They had fired an RPG at our tires.

How did they know where we were going? I must have been careless.

Cursing, I gripped tightly onto the railings under the seat as we landed and shook, all sorts of pain springing up throughout my body as I was knocked around. We couldn't stay in the car or else we would get killed like this. Unless they planned to capture me, that is.

"Get out and use your grenades and flashbangs, then retreat into the forest!" I ordered.

We quickly opened the door on the side not facing the enemy, and exited. The driver was unfortunately too severely injured and we had to leave him behind.

Several grenades and flashbangs were lobbed over, and we ran out from behind the car once the flashes went off.

I ran straight into the forest without looking back, but I heard the cry of one of my bodyguards that must have gotten hit, and the sound of our car exploding behind us.

I tore through the foliage at high speed, then got behind a big tree trunk and use it as cover to turn back and fire on our pursuers. Only two of my men were left with me, and they did likewise.

"Keep going, after me!" I barked out.

We raced through the forest again and kept running for the next five minutes at top speed, until I was completely out of breath and about to collapse. I had almost tripped several times, and in the rush my body was littered with wounds from stray branches and other things that got in my way.

Our pursuers were still behind us, but no longer easily visible and out of options I found a dense section of bush and hid.

My men took off in another direction and maintained periodic return fire, leading them away.

After thirty minutes, I guessed that I lost them. But going out there would be far too risky, they were probably still searching for me, so I simply stayed there and started meditating.

Be careful what you wish for, the old adage said. I wanted something interesting to happen and so it did. Now I was isolated and possibly surrounded by enemies. Was this the day everything would end?

As soon as I tried to get out of the forest, even if I successfully escaped from my pursuers, would they have already destroyed everything I built? Or perhaps I would return to find that somebody had betrayed me and sent these men to eliminate me.

Yet I couldn't help but feel alive. It was the first time I had been in so much danger, and yet it was exhilarating. If only…I had been better prepared.

No, it was no use crying over spoiled milk. At least things would be more interesting now.

I would fight until the very last moment, and that would surely be an interesting story to behold, wouldn't it?

The cold chill of the forest sunk into my bones as I waited. I wondered if they would try to finish me off by carpet bombing or gassing the area.

Just who were they?

I felt so tired and weak. Was I injured somewhere I hadn't noticed? Or maybe it was blood loss from my wounds. I didn't think I had lost much though, had I?

Like that, hours passed and I inadvertently fell asleep.

"Fascinating...this world is devoid of mana. I can't even feel the presence of Gaia," a voice pulled me out of the darkness.

My eyes darted about, yet my body stayed frozen, and from my hiding spot in the bushes I looked upon the form of a LARPer with white hair in a black caped outfit. From almost 30 meters away I could only see his back and his right hand holding a cane with his left holding a...floating stick?

Yes, it was indeed just floating in the air, a smooth wand-like cylinder that was barely visible in the darkness, with a round gemstone at the top flickering in an unnatural light despite its dark hue and no visible light source.

"It appears that our return trip shall be a bit more difficult from here. I cannot even access prana from our parallel selves. I suppose that makes sense given that this is the first time I've come to this universe." The white-haired man moved his hand away from the wand but it kept floating where it was. He tapped his cane on the ground three times.

"Reporting: Analysis complete. Program compiled. Kaleidostick Agate has acquired Alternate Reality Manipulation Protocol, catalogued as ARMP. First module: User Travel added," another voice rang out from seemingly nowhere.

"Good. You will take the reins this time. Bring us back to our world and we'll finish your programming. I'll have to bring more mana sources the next time we come here," said the man in the costume which I now recognized to be Zelretch from the Fate franchise.

"Understood. ARMP engaged. User Travel initializing. Destination selected: Kaleido Schweinorg Origin Primary. 30 seconds required to construct pathway. Please hold." The other voice said robotically.

Suddenly to the right of the Zelretch RPer the air ripped apart and the world was creaking.

A cloaked and hooded being emerged.

"Well, well, I thought there was something interesting here, and look what I found! A lesser being trying to create a means of Walking the Eternities without a Spark!"

My eyes bugged out. Was that actual magic? I thought Zelretch and Planeswalkers were supposed to be fictional!

"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, my friend...what do you mean by walking the eternities without a spark?" Zelretch turned to look at the newcomer, and I got a look at his blood red eye.

The air crackled with a strange pressure as a red light gathered in the hand of the, I guess I could call him Planeswalker for now. "Silence, fool! You've delved into magics not meant for the likes of you! The Blind Eternities are warping under the pressure of whatever blasphemy you enacted to get here! Your home Plane may have powerful beings guarding it from me, but your own pitiful existence ends now!"

He thrust his hand forward and a torrent of blinding fire was unleashed, an explosion engulfed Zelretch and the shockwave blew me up against a nearby tree, and I could feel the roots of the tree straining to stay upright.

In the next moment the night sky lit up and a chain of thunder-like sounds rang out as the explosion grew, new gale winds tearing away the smoke and surrounding trees as something hit my face and finally the tree behind me gave out, roots ripping out of the Earth and I grabbed the thing that hit me even as I tumbled away.


I collapsed bonelessly on the ground and twitched before terrible pain racked my entire body.

"I'm sure there must be a misunderstanding, sir. My method of Walking the Eternities as you call it does not disturb the worlds traveled." Zelretch's calm voice pierced the air. I lifted my face up slightly until I could see what was happening.

The cloaked Planeswalker floated with an ominous red light in the air while Zelretch stood at the edge of a massive crater, his clothes looking perfectly unruffled as if that monstrous attack didn't even touch him.

"Warning! Warning! Pathway formation disrupted! Connection unstable!" The Kaleidostick Agate's robotic voice rang out. Except, it seemed to come

The two combatants shifted their gaze towards me immediately. Zelretch even looked surprised as silence engulfed the destroyed forest.

I cursed mentally. That thing that hit me earlier and which was now somewhere on the ground lying next me must have been Agate.

"Pathetic mortal! Curse your gods for your luck today! For the crime of touching the power of the Planes, die!"

What? This guy was seriously going to kill me for such bullshit? If I got out of this alive I would make him pay a thousand fold! How could I die from such a random event happening?

Before I knew it, Zelretch's back was in front of me and his cane was blocking a black torrent of visible mana gathered in front of the Planeswalker's hand. Up close, I could see the Planeswalker's snarling angry face, which I didn't recognize. Baleful red eyes, sleek black hair, bishounen facial features, and a strange glowing pattern on the right side of his face in the shape of a semicircle over a horizontal figure eight with the top two lines crossing back down instead of meeting at the centre.

He broke away and flew back into the air. "You are strong, little mage, but that will not protect you from a god! Know your place!" Suddenly an enormous wave of mana emerged from him, condensing into a legion of different shapes that blotted out the sky, complete with an Earth-shattering wave of roars.

Zelretch sighed. "I don't wish to be impolite as I am the outsider, but you are being rather unreasonable." He materialized a dagger in his right hand as he moved his cane to the left. The Jeweled Sword started to glow as the world around it bent and refracted a rainbow of lights.

Then he turned around and winked at me.


I had no time to think on what that meant before the horde of summoned monsters came upon us, Zelretch's dagger-sword flashed, and-

—the world went white.

My eyes burned with the sight, and teared up even as the white gave way to a kaleidoscope of strange things I couldn't comprehend.

"AHHHH!" I screamed as I saw what should not have been seen and curled up into a ball whimpering.

After what felt like an eternity, I was left with only silence. I blinked open my eyes and shifted my groaning muscles until I was sitting upright, looking around. The entire forest was nothing more than a wasteland, and only a small circle below me was untouched.

"What, what the hell..." I murmured to myself.

Ominous roars sounded in the distance. I squinted and looked around again, and saw shadows moving in the distance.

The summoned monsters! Then about a hundred metres away from me, monstrous and bulbous things ripped out of the ground and rose up, surrounding me.

I watched in morbid fascination as they climbed up slowly from the ground like zombies. I guess it was really the end. I couldn't possibly fight my way through this horde.

"RandomBystander1, Master Zelretch has authorized me to establish a partnership contract between you and me. Do you wish to become my wielder?" The Kaleidostick suddenly floated in front of me.

Or maybe not. Was this the legendary plot armour? A Deus Ex Machina that would save me! If fictional things were real, then I had to be a main character if I was getting an opportunity like this.

"What does that involve? What are our obligations to each other?" I immediately asked.

"We will conduct a ritual to establish the magical contract and form a soul-based prana link. A wielder can access all of my powers by mental command and share senses. Conversely, you may grant control of your body to me at will. As you do not possess Magic Circuits some functions will be limited. Our obligations are mutual and are as follows: we must protect the other from harm by any means necessary, we must act to prevent attempts to break the contract if either partner is unwilling, neither can harm or seek to harm the other without consent. Once formed, the partnership bond will begin a process of mental and prana-based attunement. If the bond is later broken, there may be unpredictable consequences." The Kaleidostick explained robotically.

That was a very helpful explanation, but it also raised some questions. This contract appeared different to what I knew of Kaleidosticks from the fictional franchise, and the bond seemed to be much more permanent.

"Is it possible for you to have more than one wielder? And can I be bonded to more than one Kaleidostick?"

"Such a course of action has never been tested and would be highly inadvisable. There may be unpredictable consequences, such as sudden death."

Well, that also answered my question about what "unpredictable consequences" might result from the bond breaking.

The monsters seemed confused for a moment, and randomly wandered around, but I knew I was running out of time. Sooner or later they would come for me.

"Alright, I want to be your wielder! What do I do?"

"Please apply some blood to your palm and grab onto me, then repeat after me."

I did as told, using the blood from my wounds earlier. Once my hand touched the wand, two magic circles formed above and beneath me.

The words of power rushed into my mind and I chanted almost in sync with the Kaleidostick.

"Let black and chalcedony be the essence. Let onyx and agate form the foundation. Parallel and curved, let the bands close and open. Let blood be the tribute, and the Second bear witness. I hereby declare, our will shall be as one. An oath is sworn. I shall attain all the virtues of Heaven, I shall have dominion over all evils of Hell. Through the infinite realities, all lines shall converge!"

When the chant that Zelretch must have borrowed partially from the Servant Summoning Ritual was over, I felt something connect with me, and both the Kaleidostick and I glowed with a multicolored aura with a line of pure black running through it.

Soon the glow and the magic circles disappeared.

'New User Registered. Designated: RandomBystander1. Access Level: Full Administrator. Agate awaiting further instructions', Agate's voice came into my mind complete with subtitles flashing through my thoughts.

"Did you just talk to my mind?" I asked out loud.

'Yes, User RandomBystander1,' Agate answered me.

'Why was I registered as RandomBystander1? And what does my access level mean?' I thought back.

'RandomBystander1 was the designation for you set by BetterThanBlue, also known as Master Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg. Full Administrator access allows complete use, read, and write access to all of my functions and programming. He has also left you a message: I am sorry you were caught up in my mess, young man. Unfortunately this enemy is extraordinarily powerful and while I'm no slouch myself, I know not for certain that I can protect you. I am giving you Kaleido Agate to help you escape. Please take care of Agate and I would appreciate it if you could collect some data on alternate reality traveling for me in your journeys. Best of luck to you.'

Wow! Thanks Zelretch, what an upstanding guy. I can even forgive the troll name he gave me.

'Okay, I want to change my designation,' I ordered.

'Request denied.'

'What? Don't I have full administrative access?'

'RandomBystander1 has full administrative access except for anything locked by Ultimate Administrator BetterThanBlue.'


I almost thought Zelretch's trollish behavior was just merely fanon from how serious he acted earlier. Just great. I better not turn into a magical girl.

No seriously, this was bullshit. I just formed a permanent contract with the Kaleidostick and somehow Zelretch could still override me, even though the wand just told me there could only be one wielder. That made zero sense.

But that wasn't important, the monsters had gotten their bearings and were now advancing towards me.

'So, how do we fight them?'

'I do not have any combat programs installed and cannot answer your query.'

I resisted the urge to scream in rage. Maybe not having combat programs just meant the Kaleidostick didn't know how to use what it had.

'What kind of offensive and defensive spells do you have?'

'I do not have any offensive or defensive spells.'

"Damn! You have got to be kidding me!" I cursed aloud. This was even worse than turning into a magical girl!

What was even the point of wielding a Kaleidostick that didn't have any magic?

'Agate, can you at least get us out of here then? Somewhere without other people?'

'Negative. I do not have any installed transportation protocols other than ARMP: User Travel. This module does not include any targeting function except by Waypoints established during prior travels or semi-random targeting by distance in Kaleidospace.'

'What are the Waypoints available?'

'There are currently 2 Waypoints: this location and Kaleido Schweinorg Origin Primary. Kaleido Schweinorg Origin Primary is currently inaccessible due to destabilization in Kaleidospace.'

'That's it?! We can't go anywhere else?'

'I can attempt to randomly open a Pathway to an unknown habitable world by shortest distance in Kaleidospace.'

'Wait, how can it be random if we target the shortest distance?'

'Kaleidospace does not have fixed locations and distances. A Waypoint is a beacon that eliminates the randomness, but any other targeting method is semi-random.'

The entire mental conversation took only 10 seconds.

'Alright fine! Let's go to a random world close to this one then!'

'Understood. ARMP engaged. User Travel initializing. Destination selected: Random by Shortest Distance. 10 seconds required to construct pathway. Please hold.'

I couldn't help but smirk. Amazing. I hoped this wasn't just a dream. With this power…the possibilities were endless! If I played my cards right, all of creation was within my grasp!

My thoughts went to that unreasonable Planeswalker. My eyes darkened in hate. How dare he look down on me…being born with such power, to be given a Spark for nothing, he was nothing without his good fortune!

Then my hate ebbed away and my eyes gleamed with anticipation. That Planeswalker was just a fool, only worth my attention for the power he wielded. But if not for him perhaps I wouldn't have met such a golden opportunity. In the end, he would become a stepping stone for me on the path to true power. Unless Zelretch successfully killed him, I would likely meet him again, so I had to get stronger as fast as possible. There could be any number of such fanatical fools that would want to kill me for stupid reasons, and the only way to assure my safety was to become more powerful than them! That would be a daunting task, considering the sheer potential that I knew old Planeswalkers had, especially as time was on their side.

I would escape and hide and build up my strength…

It would mean leaving everything behind on Earth. I couldn't risk returning here anytime soon, what with the monsters and the possibility of the Planeswalker coming back.

My money, connections, subordinates…I would have to completely start over. That didn't sound so bad, actually…

It would be an adventure unlike any other! Full of risk and opportunity…and the beginning of a new story—my story!

Even if I had nothing again…I would go even farther this time, I would reach beyond the heavens and grasp infinity!


The trip was underwhelming. One moment I was in a wasteland of a forest in the dark of night, the next I was in an alleyway in a city in the pale light of early evening.

I was still injured and I didn't know how severe the injuries were, so reappearing in a modern city was a good thing, I think. I could walk at least, and it didn't feel like any bones were broken, which was a miracle, or maybe my placebo cultivation exercises actually had some kind of effect? I mean if Zelretch was real, maybe Qi cultivation was real too.

But first things first, gather information and get some medical attention.

'Agate, can you hide yourself somehow?' I transmitted mentally.

'Yes, I can phase out of sync with this reality to hide or avoid enemy attacks.'

Excellent, I didn't have to worry about somebody stealing Agate then.

After a few minutes of wandering, I found a newspaper stand. In big letters one of the papers it showed "BROCKTON DAILY".

No way.

I recognized this place from a story I'd read before.

I put the paper back in its stand and left quickly. It was April 3, 2011. That was…seven days before Skitter fought Lung?

I didn't know the timeline perfectly and I was missing tons of details. I only knew the big things, and never even properly finished the canon storyline, so a lot of my "knowledge" was coming from fanfiction.

But I knew at least, that I didn't want to stay here. Changing Taylor's fate, helping to save the world, are you kidding?

Leviathan was going to attack in a month! I'm just a helpless normal, and there was no easy way to power up in this setting. It was be really hard to survive in this crazy grim world, and that was even assuming canon was reliable, which it probably wasn't. Maybe Cauldron had Masters and would come for me as soon as they find out about Agate and magical realities.

Hell, maybe they were already observing me!

Under the setting sun, I rushed to an abandoned alleyway as fast as I could.

'Agate, can you bring us to another world? This place isn't safe,' I asked.

'There seems to be a problem. I have detected a barrier over this Reality Cluster, which is now blocking the formation of a Pathway outside the local Reality Cluster,' the answer came.

What? CRAP! Scion had locked off Earth-Bet and the other parallel Earth dimensions that were part of the cycle, didn't he? Did he notice intruders getting in?

I could feel myself beginning to hyperventilate and my heart pounding in my ears. I was trapped in a world where normals were just fodder, background characters to be wiped out by the billions, mere statistics on a book.

'My analysis suggests that it may be possible to break through the barrier preventing access to other Reality Clusters. I can continue analyzing in an attempt to develop a method of breaking through.'

I could handle this! I always wanted excitement, didn't I? It wasn't impossible to survive, and even thrive with what I knew. I had to calm down and think, use my vaunted intelligence and desire, and obtain the power waiting to be grabbed.

Deep breaths.

"Hey, give me your wallet!"

My eyes darted to the source of the voice. A hooded and ragged guy with a knife was stalking towards me from the entrance of the alley.

I narrowed my eyes and took in the cliché scene. I should have expected it though. Brockton Bay was a dying city, full of criminals and a gradually declining economy.

I began to chuckle.

"Fuck, you loose in the head? I'm mugging you, bastard!" He waved his knife menacingly.

My entire body tingled with adrenaline, and I burst forward.

I could see the unlucky mugger's eyes widening as he thrust his knife in front of him reflexively.

Useless. I knew that most criminals didn't have the resolve not to hesitate, they wouldn't know what to do if they suddenly became the hunted. He was a mugger, not a killer, and I–

grabbed his knife wrist and twisted, pivoting on my right foot, and using the reactionary force on my hips and another step with my left foot to bounce back and strike his chin with my elbow

—had experience in violent confrontations against people more dangerous than him.

It was just a shame that I lost my gun when I nearly tripped in the forest on my Earth.

A sickening crunch resounded in the alley, and the pathetic fool couldn't even spit out the blood before I followed up with a kick to the groin. He crumpled towards the ground but I helped him along by smashing his face with a punch. His head cracked against the hard concrete.

I straddled on top of his unmoving body and checked for life signs. He was just unconscious and bleeding from his mouth and head injury.

Ugh, crap, the pains all over my body that I had forgotten with the adrenaline were coming back.

I took off the gloves he was conveniently wearing and put them on my own hands before searching him for useful things. In the end, I took his wallet, some keys, a switchblade, and phone but left his clothes alone. He didn't seem to be affiliated with any gang but I didn't want to risk any buddies of his recognizing the clothing. Of course I took out the sim card on his phone before taking it. It was just a flip phone, nothing compared to my smartphone that I still had with me, but I had other purposes for it.

That done, I made my way out of there and found a nearby bus stop. Within a few minutes a bus came by and I got on, paying with a few coins from the mugger.

It didn't matter where the bus was going, I just went on to grab one of those free transit maps I figured would be hanging around inside of buses like they are on a lot of transit systems back on my Earth.

I was right and examined my new map until I found Brockton Bay General Hospital. Time to see what my options were for fixing my injuries.

This world was full of "capes", also known as "parahumans" with powers. There were superheroes and villains, and organizations dedicated to their regulation and governance. The Parahuman Response Team (PRT), which was made up of normals, and the Protectorate, the cape policing organization. Brocton Bay was on the east coast of the USA, and these organizations covered Canada and the USA, plus some parts of Europe.

If I was to survive this in this world, I needed the power of capes.