4 - The Sweet Escape
Taylor felt pretty good about today.
Things had went well.
Better than she expected really.
She'd decided on the way there that she needed to be somewhat open, not so much tell them something like if she went too long without eating that she might go into a feeding frenzy because that'd be crazy. Taylor spoke very briefly on her hunger, letting them know that usage of her powers caused her to become extremely hungry and that she had to eat a lot more than a normal person might or she'd act a bit weird. It was meant to give her at least a valid reason if she did ever end up in a situation where she needed to work with the PRT and found herself spacing out for obvious reasons. Taylor knew going in that they had probably saw her turn Lung into a delicious treat, so she made sure to "accidentally" drop that he wasn't dead which was true. Better to think that then that she had killed him, she thought.
Lung was sitting there in her stomach, unconscious for as long as she kept him inside herself.
Only the best food got such special treatment apparently.
The others that she had eaten, they were gone.
Her only working theory being that because they weren't Parahumans, her body decided that after taking them in, to get rid of them shortly after. Her powers had taken the valuable things from them; memories and skills primarily. From Lung however? She got much more. That fire inside of her body that burned when she was talked down to, if she felt like an injustice was done to her, it wanted to escalate. It made her stronger, but more wild, the burning hot rage that came with it making her want to prove that she was above others, that she was Djinn and that she ruled through power. A remnant of Lung's that would be there as long as she kept him, it was only luck Taylor thought, that it hadn't affected her more.
His fighting skills were hers now, she shuddered at the things he'd seen, everything that was his was hers now. For better and worse.
Cape eats and/or kills other cape and gets there powers? There's only one other notable person like that.
The Faerie Queen herself. Taylor felt herself wince at that thought.
If even she could see the comparisons, then Taylor's would see them as well.
At best they might try and push her to go to the Birdcage, and that was probably the worst possible outcome. The Birdcage was filled with practically the most dangerous Parahumans, the ones that were too dangerous to merely put away in any other prison. If you went in, as far as she knew, you weren't coming back out. For her, it meant that she'd have access to an all-you-can-eat-buffet! Taylor wasn't stupid, she'd noticed that capes, gave off a certain scent. A scent that made them so much more tantalizing than any other average person, it wasn't until she'd eaten plates of food that was enough to fill several people that she'd been able to keep her mind off it.
At worst for her, they'd try to kill her immediately. She morbidly though that'd be for the best.
If it was up to her she wouldn't even have these powers anyways, she'd hit the jackpot some would say. She was strong, could fly, was extremely tough, could shoot blasts of energy, and that was ignoring the fact that she had felt more than what she was before after she'd eaten Lung. Looking from the outside in, she was sure that she probably looked liked the next Alexandria, the next big hero in the making. The cost was just the gnawing hunger that constantly plagued her and tempted her, that dark desire to just turn all of the delicious smelling food around her into the next meal to satiate her hunger and then she could eat and eat and eat and-.
She stopped her negative train of thought there, the meeting with the PRT had went well after all.
Flying through the sky as the sun started to set behind her, she turned her thoughts to the card she had in her pocket.
Searching through the pockets in the blue and red dress she had changed to earlier, her rage hadn't stopped her from realizing that being found taking out her frustration whilst in school clothes would've been really bad to say the least, she pulled out the card. They, specifically Assault, had talked to her about possibly signing up for being a member of the Protectorate. Her first reaction was to say she was still in high-school for one, yeah she'd gotten taller and looked a bit older, but she didn't look that different right?
That thought made her uncomfortable.
Regardless, she'd instead made her hesitance known, that she wasn't really sure on the hero thing, at least not yet anyways. Her reasoning being mostly issues within her personal life, which was technically true. They stopped pushing after that, though Assault did state that they'd be willing to help her with whatever the problem was and had given her a card containing his own info along with the standard hotline for the PRT. On the back was a small message and another number, one for a therapist named Sera Langley. The message had recommended her if Taylor ever felt like she needed someone to talk to.
She'd known she had been a bit weird, the heavenly aroma that pervaded their base had made it hard to think after all, but not weird enough that something felt off about her. Was her perception really so skewed that she couldn't notice herself being weird around others? Sure she'd been a bit reserved, combined with having to keep herself in check and not trying to fan-girl over the heroes she'd like to think her reasons were justified, but people could be shy right? Maybe she was just thinking over it too hard, trying to poke holes in what had been much better than the heroes going "Aha!" and deciding to try and arrest her.
They'd even fed her when they could've just left her hungry.
As she neared her home she told herself that everything was fine, she was just thinking too hard on it.
Things were going to be just fine.
Nearing her house, she dropped off a block away after checking to make sure there was no one nearby, her pink skin shifting back to normal just as her tail pulled itself back in. Her features shifted back to the ones that she was a bit more familiar, and then she was walking out of the alley-way, a smile on her face as tried to think positive. Her day, even though it had started off rather bad, had been good. She got to talk with heroes, she laughed at Assault's corny jokes, she'd even left on amiable terms with them, heck they had wanted her to join them even if they weren't pushing hard for it.
It felt good to have a day where things just didn't turn to shit.
After a short walk she found herself in front of her home, her Dad's car in the driveway.
Being careful as she walked up the steps to her house, she pulled out her key and entered, her voice loud enough to be heard through the house as said "I'm back!".
There was silence for a moment.
"Dad?" She spoke into the silence, her instincts flaring at her that something was not right. A subtle pressure in the air that made her tingle. Dropping her bag at the door, she sniffed the air, something odd smelling pervaded the air.
Her feet rose slightly off the ground as she began to float, their house was old so it wasn't abnormal for the floor to creak when someone was moving over it, but she needed to be stealthy. Slowly inching her way forward, she tried to focus her ears on any weird sounds, to hear if there was somebody else there. Moving ever closer to the living room she felt her skin prickle as she heard a small sound.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Taylor's eyes widened as she changed forms, her body already moving as she realized what the sound was but she was too late. A flash of light, an explosion of sound as the living room was caught in the initial explosion, and then-
Her body flared up as if everyone of her nerves was on fire, and then... there was nothing.
Numbness as she felt her body drift, floating as if she was drifting down a river.
Was she dying?
Her senses felt blurry.
The world around her becoming greyed out, as if someone drained all the color from it.
She tried to turn her head, moving felt like she was in molasses, and there was no sound.
When had she got flung into the air?
She had blacked out, she couldn't tell for how long.
Minutes, maybe hours, it didn't feel like days had passed but Taylor couldn't be sure.
She didn't feel as hungry as she thought she would, but something else inside her burned. Was she trapped in this gray world, where everything seemed to go so slow? Her body still felt off, but she was alive, she was conscious of the world around her at something within her raged. Raged at the mere fact that someone thought they could ever imprison her, that they could ever cage her. Pink and black energy and the familiar orange flames licked at her skin as she focused herself, focused on that feeling welling up from inside of her. She'd been stuck like this before, had almost been stuck again only a few months ago, but her powers had already awakened by then. No, flashes of something else came from inside of her.
Taylor didn't like this, she hated it.
Her aura flared around her in the grey world as she felt the flames around her grow hotter, she was not going to die.
Yes her life felt like shit at times, but it was hers!
Opening her mouth, she screamed as her energy raised more and more.
Not enough! More and more power rose from within as she screamed at the faded grey world around her that thought it could keep her here!
Either she would give or this world would.
As more power rose from within her, she knew it would be the world.
And then she felt it, the gray cracked as the lifeless world seemed to collapse under the power she was emitting.
A hole formed in the air in front of her, color visible from the other side.
Stopping her scream, Taylor pushed herself to move, her power gradually pushing her through the air as she moved with intention, not wanting to have her power fade and be unable to escape. As her body got closer she could feel her herself becoming faster and faster, feeling returning to her as her skin shifted to the pink of her other form, her hair changing, her ears becoming pointed, and her tail ripping a hole through the jeans she wore. Pushing more and more, it was with one last push of power that she shot through the hole the ring on her finger shattering as she shot into the sky.
The world erupted into sound, sirens from police cars, the occasional yells, and the distant and not so distant sound of explosions in the distance.
The moon hung over her head, her aura flaring around her as flames licked her skin and embers sparked off of her. She brought a hand up to inspect it, she felt different.
How long had she been trapped?
Where was her Dad?
Her stomach was oddly silent.
Looking down at her house she saw that the damage had been done, parts here and there having collapsed from the initial explosion, others having been buried underneath the rumble.
She'd always worried, worried about what would happen if she just let herself go. Taylor had thought about it, even had gave herself legitimate reasons as to why she shouldn't; her Dad would be disappointed in her, she'd be sent to the Birdcage, she shouldn't stoop to the level of those that pushed her, her Mom's face if she ever heard what she'd done. There were so many reasons that she could think of, but at the moment those things just seemed so much less than what she had built them up to be. The thoughts leaving her head as quickly as she tried to think of them.
Someone had attacked her, attacked her personally and in her home, the memories of one of the people she'd absorbed reminding her that something like that overstepped rules between capes, and even if they hadn't... something welled up from inside her. Her Dad was missing, she could only hope that he'd left the house before, but she couldn't be sure. If she searched through the rubble and she found a body she... she'd...
Taylor would find the person who did this and she'd enjoy eating them down to the very last bite.
She licked her lips, she hoped they'd taste delicious.