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In: Boards ► News ► Events ► General
(Original Poster) (The Guy In The Know)
Posted on January 13, 2011:

You guys. It's confirmed. BBC has pics and footage that everyone in the world needs to see. At 5 am GMT, the Simurgh collapsed (footage here, excuse the quality, it was from a monitoring program) and fell in northern UK, just south of the Scottish border. Protectorate capes organized a fight, and showed up to find absolutely no resistance. Her body was exterminated with extreme prejudice, but it certainly took a hot minute (four hours before they managed to call in a combination of capes that could keep damaging her, even with regeneration off). She's dead.

No scream, no reaction the whole time, no motions, no powers. She was very likely dead when she hit the ground, considering that the (superficial) damage was still present when capes arrived on scene. No word on how that happened.

Keep the speculation to a minimum, whether she was taken down by a cape, by Tinkertech, or if this is some weird part of one of her plots, but this thread is dedicated to something more than that. The fact that Endbringers have been proven to be mortal. They can be killed, and while the difficulties met when finishing the job were far from encouraging, this is a great day for humanity.

And please be civil. This means a lot for a lot of people, and there will be people from all over who read this as they remember fallen loved ones and mourn. Don't be idiots, and the mods will probably destroy you if you are.

Thank god.

Edit: Scion was confirmed to be helping a cat out of a tree at the time. His patterns do not seem to indicate any involvement on his part. And like I said earlier, keep the speculation to a minimum. This isn't the thread for that.

I read over the thread, a gnawing sense of dread growing within me. I'd missed the whole thing, thanks to the Trio putting me in the hospital, but going off the official sequence of events?

I was in the locker when it happened. And with the things I'd seen in there, becoming a cape, witnessing those… things, I couldn't help but wonder.

After everything that the Simurgh had done, all the people she'd killed and corrupted, what would it mean if I was her heir?

Walking to school, I felt like a passenger in my own life. Following a string that was already laid out for me, without any sense of agency. Even as the conflict built in my mind, I saw my string fray, splitting off into countless directions even as a rebellious part of my mind wondered if I could even reject the future. The thickest of them lead towards the library, where I might be able to kill time until Dad expected me home, though focusing, I could see the faint possibilities of simply turning down any street, stopping in place and sitting down in defiance, walking out into traffic and-

That one split, moving erratically, and I saw it change, showing me a safe path forward. It danced, showing me how I might avoid the car whose strand was only just now coming into view.

I blinked, and I saw it intersect with mine, though it wasn't exactly right. They would intersect, of course, but in its future and in my past. Or they could intersect, and my new path would be a firm one, as I was rushed to Our Lady's Medical Center. But no, there was an alternative that I saw, my original strand shifting, causing me to take the car's hit on my pelvis instead, causing worse injuries and receiving an ambulance triage me to visit Brockton General instead, where Panacea would visit me and I could be home before nine.

How had I seen so far? What was different about this, when I couldn't even see what I was going to eat for dinner that night? But no, that winding path became all the simpler to see, though still faint, as Dad warmed up a grilled cheese that he'd stashed in the refrigerator twelve hours from now. I swallowed hard.

My path developed a kink, intersecting with another, and I touched it carefully, somewhere in my mind, and like that, I knelt to tie my shoe.

It wasn't a compulsion. It was just… the way things could have happened, and I tapped into it. But just as I leaned down, I'd taken a small step, and I saw the new string's interaction with mine shift, altering to its new environment with a distinct lack of grace.

I stared down at Sophia Hess in near awe, and she stared up at me with a murderous look on her face. "What are you looking at, Hebert?" she demanded, getting to her feet with all the ease that she'd lost in that moment. I traced her line back, and tugged at my own, snapping it into its original position. I would have been pushed into the light post, bloodying my nose, and instead, I'd seen a way to alter the encounter.

"Well?" she demanded, stepping closer. I reached out and pulled, finding a frayed string and tugging on it lightly.

Behind me, Kyler Levenson coughed wetly, and with a disgusting sound, Sophia's fury was turned to him. "Did you just spit a fucking loogie at me?!" she demanded, wiping at her neck. I slipped away, turning once as I navigated through a group of people that had turned their attention to the scene, where Kyler protested something I didn't care about. Why had I turned? Oh, there. Because Madison would have seen me slip out of the crowd and her cronies would keep me there until Sophia's newly sparked anger could turn to me.

Walking through the school, I was freshly overwhelmed by the sea of strings, as individual as they were. Some tangled together, groups of friends talking with each other, some met and parted, and every one of them vibrating with life. I saw a thousand connections between a hundred people, all colored with their own experiences of the past second, and soon to be colored with all new ones, as soon as it would come their way. It was beautiful, in its own way, even as I found myself surrounded at my locker.

I couldn't even spare a thought to pay attention to the barbs that Emma threw my way as I retrieved my books. There was a desperate energy that her string thrummed with, pulsing with music as she searched for an opening into my mind. And then, my possibilities, all laid out before me. I only wished that I had enough time to search them all, to find the best way I could get her to leave me alone.

But with that intention alone, I saw paths start to turn away, as others opened. And like that, I felt a flare of hope. It was like confirmation that I wasn't following the paths, but I was directing them. No, I wouldn't slam it on that girl's fingers, nor would I hit Emma in the throat, or tell her that she should have died back when Sophia found her in-

Jesus, but my power was dark. How could I get her to just shut up?

"Are you really still talking?" I heard myself say. "You'd think that you could take a hint, or would it take another haircut for you to get there?" See? Harmless.

There was confusion in her eyes, and then, horrified realization. Like I'd laid her bare with a sentence. But I'd just said… what was it even, talking about her hair?

She was stunned into silence, but one of her cronies picked up the slack. Like a soldier trying to take the initiative to impress a superior. I saw the strand reach out into the future, seeking for an intersection of approval from Emma's own. She really had these girls eating out of her hand. I saw my own path out of the situation. "That's adorable. Move." My words were sickeningly sweet, and then suddenly hard, and I felt as though I was doing an impression of Emma herself. The girls obeyed unthinkingly, and I released the strand that I was holding to, moving to my next class.

There it was, another intersection that I didn't want to happen. But if I pulled that string over there into its way, then my own path would be unmolested. Opening the door, I saw Madison with glue all over her hands and shirt, glaring up at Greg Veder. A prank foiled before it could happen. Had I made it so it would backfire, though? How?

Class started, and I picked up a pencil as a spitball flew mere inches over my head. But I stopped myself from finishing the pull. I was only trying to alter my own path, why was I interfering with another one? Oh. It had hit Shen in the back of his head, and he turned the wrong way as Madison stashed the straw quickly. Without any target for his anger, I saw his strong color, but without any intersection between his and Madison's. Well, that wasn't exactly right. One possibility, if she'd get distracted while packing up, still be zipping up her bag while she was walking out of the classroom, and then trip over Greg's chair yet again as he pushes it back to get up. Chances of encounters and luck danced around me as I saw the strings flit about, intersecting this way and that, hypotheticals playing out in countless ways.

The class was almost over when I realized the possibility. I started to imagine what my possibilities were to tug on each available string when I finally saw the array of changes before me.

Greg would be getting up a few seconds later because he was looking for his pen. It'd fall to the floor, and he wouldn't notice, because he still used the pencil that he was supposed to be using on the ID card roster that was being passed around. But he'd keep the pencil instead of passing it on, and since the next guy was already using a pencil, he wouldn't try and take the one that Greg had in his hand.

It'd slow down the rotation as each student interrupted themselves to get a pencil out of their own bag, and that would give Kylie the opportunity to slip back into the conversation that Madison had elbowed her out of with a joke at my expense. You go, Kylie, good on you for hanging in there. That'll be your resume, and maybe Middle-Manager Madison will be kind enough to offer you an internship on the Torment Taylor Team. They call themselves a team, but really, they're more of a family. But how had Greg's pen ended up on the floor?

Tracing my own strand back, I saw where my actions intersected with the pen. I'd already set this whole thing in motion. I needed to be more careful about that. But how had-

My eyes widened. I'd used the other ability. There was a nick in the cap of the pen, a tiny gouge where my telekinesis had already reached out. My stupid superpowers were stuck on the lethal setting. Even the Simurgh hadn't been brutal enough to use exclusively telekinetic knives to do her work.

I'd been using it this whole time? But with Kyler, earlier, what was that? Why'd he coughed, how could I have…?

"Greg," I said, getting his attention, then glancing at the floor beside his bag. His pen, just where he wouldn't have seen it for a few critical seconds near the end of the period. He blinked, leaning over, then grinning at me in response before turning his attention back to Gladly.

I wandered the Boardwalk that afternoon, watching the interplay of strings before me. A crowd of people, all doing their best to keep their own paths to themselves. One by one, I reached for possibilities, for futures, for alternatives, and I left them all alone. I felt like a spider in a web, seeing countless possibilities before me.

A couple, about to break up. He knew it, and she didn't. He'd been planning on it for a while, but she had no idea. How did I know those things? Their lines were as tightly bound as any other couple's, but his interactions with hers were somehow different, no matter that they were the exact same interaction each time. But tracing his line and tracing hers were entirely different things.

A family, and the dad had seen the girl that he was cheating on his wife with. I cocked my head, wondering if I should nudge the interaction one way or the other. Should I make sure that they intersect, causing a confrontation, or to diverge them, so the kids won't be around when it happens? But why was it changing so frequently?

My attention flitted through the web, and I saw someone stumbling along it. Altering it, and several other paths. I was captivated instantly, and I watched as the girl stumbled through almost blindly, like someone in a dark room familiar to them, somehow avoiding the interactions that would result in a terrible outcome, but struggling to find them nonetheless. I could at least help her, right?

A man swore, further back in the crowd, and he knocked someone else over as he tripped, bringing him into a short argument that he tried to brush off. Tracing my action back, I saw my power slit the bag in a trash can, where someone had dumped their drink a few hours ago. The tile was slippery in the mere instant before he stepped on it, and the girl was pushing through the crowd.

I tried to focus on my ability's actions in the same moment that I strummed another string that was moving to intercept the girl, one that she hadn't noticed, and I saw my power cut the wiring inside a Boardwalk enforcer's earpiece. Inside, the rubber outside still intact. He turned his head as he tapped the earpiece, elbowing someone in the head. The girl looked about wildly, and her eyes met mine. She made a beeline straight towards me, and I saw the lines move to intercept her before every one of them delayed in their tracks. Another annoying interference, from the girl again? They still intersected with me, but further and further into the future. I tried my hardest to look nondescript.

I blinked. What just happened? The girl broke into a wide smile, holding her arms out for a hug. "Oh my god, Elizabeth, I've been looking for you for ages," she said, clearly playing it up. Negative, negative, negative, there was the positive interaction I was looking for. Why wasn't I supposed to call her Sarah?

My face brightened visibly, and I gave her a suffering smile. "I told you I was going to be late. Let me borrow your phone so I can call my dad, and we can get some food maybe?"

The girl took it in stride. "Course. Italian, maybe? No, fine, we can do Chinese." I had to keep my eyes from narrowing at her guesses. Had I caused that somehow too?

Sitting down in the corner of a restaurant, I saw the girl drop her mask. She was shaking slightly, and she met my eyes with an incredibly serious look. "Thank you. I don't know why you helped me, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you."

I blinked. "Wow, okay, uh, sure." We didn't talk for a long moment, but the men had ceased their pursuit just a minute after we left together, so it must have been okay. "Mind telling me what that was all about?" I prompted.

The girl glanced about. "I… don't mean to out you, but I'm a cape too. There's a guy who's trying to recruit me, and he's very, very bad news. They were trying to kidnap me."

I nodded. That was about the result that I'd seen happening. "Glad I could help."

"What were you doing to them? What do you do?"

Hesitating, I chose that moment for a drink of water. "I'm just really lucky." At her frank look, I decided to elaborate. "I can make lucky things happen," I elaborated.

"You don't have to tell me everything, that's fine. But how did you know that I was in trouble?"

Picking up my chopsticks, I tried to turn her attention back to the meal. "Can't you just buy me a meal to say thank you? I really don't want to be a part of this whole cape thing."

The girl blinked, cocking her head. "You're serious. But you're… wow, you're really powerful. You could have done a lot worse, couldn't you?"

My eyes narrowed. "Something to say?"

The girl put her hands up, but I could see a faint amusement dancing in her eyes. "Not at all, I just… sorry. I'm also a Thinker. Like Sherlock Holmes. I pick up things and fill in information from cues."

I pulled on my power, looking forward into the conversation. Terrified girl, angry girl, terrified girl, there. "I think that more conversation about these kinds of things would reveal more things about me that I wouldn't like revealed. So let's just have a good meal instead, okay?"

The girl cocked her head. "You were worried about scaring me. Trust me, I know some scary people that I'm still on good terms with. Well, good enough."

"Because I'm playing nice." It was a simple phrase, and her fear was hidden enough that I didn't feel too bad about taking it. But I saw our conversation starting to branch into a myriad of unfortunate outcomes, some far closer than I liked. "Dammit. Part of being lucky is that I can see what possible lucky outcomes could happen to me. And talking to you is like walking through a minefield of unfortunate things. So stop playing your games." There. Now we were back on track.

"You're a precog. You know what bad things will happen to people? Close enough. Wait, no, you can cause them. With telekinesis! Oh wow, that's super cool."

The next strand that wove between conflicts was a small eye roll. "What did I say?" It sounded more playful than anything. But it was very intentional, guiding her away from thinking about why I might be scary. With a few more careful weaves, I would convince her that it was mostly bluster, and that would make up for the demonstration of this other girl's powers when she could tell that I didn't want to frighten her.

And then, unexpectedly, the girl's own strand ducked. I swore. "Whatever you're about to say-"

"You're using your power. What did you just try to avoid? That… oh." The girl went white.

My face went stony. "I control outcomes. And right now, the outcome that I'm working towards is one where you pay for our meal, we say pleasant goodbyes, and you don't try to get my attention on the street if you ever see me again."

She swallowed. "Listen, I think we got off on the wrong foot. I'm clearly out of my league here, but you really do need to believe me. I'm a troublemaker, I know, but please don't take it out on me. I really need your help, though."

My eyes narrowed. "Make it good. I'm aware of a lot of ways this conversation can end, and a lot of them are very annoying to me."

"Coil's trying to recruit me. If he does, I'll end up drugged in his basement answering questions and sitting in a cell while I waste away. He's trying to take over the entire city, and I can't fucking figure him out." I blinked, and her path shifted and changed once again, giving me an entirely new branch of possibilities. I paused as I explored them, one after another.

"Why tell me? I told you that I don't want to be involved. Go to the PRT."

"I can't." She opened her mouth to speak again but was interrupted by her cell phone going off. She frowned, and then checked it.

"That's my home phone," I said, extending a hand.

"You really didn't have a cell phone, huh?" she mused. It sounded like it should have been a question from anyone else. I went ice cold as I heard an unfamiliar male voice.

I reached out, hard. I raced down my paths. End. End. End. Why was it keeping me from doing these things? There. My dad, sitting at home, while I read on the couch beside him. Where was this? Two days from now.

Did I trust my power?

"As long as Livesey goes free."

The girl went white as a sheet, staring at me. It was the right thing to say, and I didn't know why. I nodded my chin towards the door and she fled like she was being chased.

"So, please, walk me through this." Miss Militia sat across the table from me, and I folded my hands, glancing at the paths before me. Wow, there were a lot of intersections that I wasn't a fan of. Why was that so common? Armsmaster kept calling me a liar. Which, fair, but how was he…

"Armsmaster. If I use my power, I can beat your lie detector. But by doing so, I'll be automatically directing myself to what I think is the best short-term outcome. Now, I'm not saying that I want to lie to you as much as I like, but there's quite a few things that I need to be evasive about to protect my own interests and your knowledge of which things those are will make the whole thing counterproductive. I intend to work with you as best I can, yes, but I need you to either turn off the device or leave the room and deactivate the remote sensors that would assist in gathering data for later analysis." My dad looked stunned, and Miss Militia stared at me in utter shock.

Armsmaster was frozen stiff. "Miss, it's in your best interests to… Excuse me." Tracing his path, I saw him get into an argument with a voice in his visor about the ethics of someone stating that they were going to lie to him. Oh, was that Dragon? Were they friends? At least this was the result I'd been looking for.

"I suppose that's a good enough demonstration. Can I ask how your powers work, more specifically?" Miss Militia said after a moment.

I hesitated. "My ability gives me a very in-depth awareness of possible interactions between people. By focusing on certain interactions, I can learn what events would lead up to such an outcome, and I can trace my own strings to cause those events. The further removed an event is from my current position and time, the longer it takes for me to unravel the important data about an interaction. And please, Armsmaster, finish turning off the sensors."

She looked slightly perturbed at my last sentence, but my nodes were starting to resolve once again. Looks like he was playing along. "Can you give me an example? What interaction have you avoided there?"

I paused, tracing the string forward. "That one's a while from now, but Armsmaster won't interact with me again until he's ready to confront me over what he perceives to be holes in my story. I think the lack of nodes prior to that action made it easier to see and understand."

"A node being those points of interaction."


"And how did these things lead you to deal with Coil in… the way that you did?"

I swallowed. "It took almost an hour of real-time to figure that one out. In terms of experiences, that's… a long time for me. But following his threads backward, I figured out that he has a very similar power to mine, if a more limited version of it. He can follow two strands at once, leading to a simultaneous experience in which he can gather information and assess outcomes for the strand he chooses to split next. Apparently, he chose to use his men to confront me in one branch pathway, leading to a man I hardly knew anything about who had a pretty good idea of what I could do."

I glanced at the glass of water on the table, then took a drink to delay my next words for a few seconds. "I saw a string of very bad outcomes, which I now believe indicates that Coil did not intend to succeed in recruiting me the first time around. My interactions started to resolve in his favor, leading to the long-term goal of his imprisonment and my father's safety. I believe that he started using his ability again a few hours ago when I started prodding the conversation towards mutual cooperation, as his behavior started to become more erratic. I think that his alternative timelines began resolving violently, as he started to deploy aggressive countermeasures, and I took him down."

Glancing over to my dad, I took his hand. "From there, I followed strands that would ensure enough evidence could be gathered to ensure a Birdcage sentence, and we wouldn't ever be subject to his interference again."

Like I'd told Armsmaster before, I'd been evasive. His strands reacted to my own through their own movements, independent of my stimuli. I'd just needed to wait for them to stop moving, just once, and I'd be safe to act without him dropping this timeline. And it had hardly been difficult to learn his ability. Tracing his own strand back, I was able to gain a sense of where he gathered his own information from, likely due to how close his ability was to my own. But it wouldn't do to expose my capabilities and limitations so easily, particularly when I was so cautious of the outcomes that would result from my involvement in the Wards program.

Miss Militia seemed stunned. "Well. You seem to be quite the capable young woman," she said, and I felt a flush rise onto my face. Huh. Maybe looking too far ahead was still enough to surprise me at the moment. I'd have to keep that in mind. "Can I ask if you've considered the Wards program?"

I grimaced, and she seemed to read exactly what that meant. "No, it's not like that," I said immediately. "I've been staying away from those models for a reason. Wards have to unmask to each other, and I can only imagine the nightmare of NDAs that would be. And if the precedent gets set, you guys could theoretically demand that I sign one for every Protectorate-sponsored hero that I could model an interaction with, so long as there's a chance I could cause them to unmask to me."

"That's rather open of you to say," she said, seeming far more unconcerned than I would have expected, had I not already experienced this conversation the minute prior. "Can I ask why you're volunteering this information?"

"Because Director Piggot would bring it up rather threateningly, and most interactions lead to her actually threatening me with it. I… my trigger event, as well as some significant experiences I've had, has led me towards some significant trust issues with authority figures. But I'm going to theoretical therapy for it, don't worry." She actually laughed at that, drawing a smile from me. I could see why she was such a figurehead for the local Protectorate.

"What about consultation?" she asked. "It sounds like your involvement in an operation would be invaluable. With your father's permission, of course, we would be extremely grateful to have your insight, even over just a phone call. Rather than joining the Wards, you could be an on-call Thinker, maybe give us an advantage when we have a planned operation."

"You're going to have some significant difficulties with the Youth Guard about that," I warned her. "Unless you bend the rules a little bit and pretend like you haven't already determined my age and identity."

Miss Militia blinked. "I assure you-"

"That it was simply the result of your standard procedures when coming into contact with an apparently civilian family," I finished for her easily. Dad would have started to get mad, but I needed him to let me keep taking the lead if this was going to work. "It's fine, really. But if you can get those records purged, then we're going to be able to work together far more easily." Now for another of those lies that I had so carefully negotiated for. Thank you for playing along, Armsmaster. "And it will be necessary to prevent a debilitating injury to one of your teammates in the next few weeks. Force me to tell you who, and it will almost certainly be someone else. Or let me be an anonymous voice on the phone, and I can help save you."

She sat back in her seat, looking for all the world like a new weight was on her shoulders. "I don't think we've ever had access to a precog like you before," she said, shaking her head. "These details are going to need to be ironed out with Director Piggot."

"She and I won't get along," I said, with utter conviction. "If she meets me in person, then either she or I will alienate the other if we have to discuss terms in person. If we're to have a working relationship, she needs to see that I can help people before she talks to me. In exchange for my help, I want a transfer to Arcadia sometime within the next month, and a secure cell line with no tracker. If it stays in, then I'll leave it behind and miss at least one call, also within the next two weeks, though it likely will not result in any Protectorate losses. Sound good?"

The heroine across from me paused, then nodded. "I'm confident we can get you those things." And somehow, I didn't doubt it. She was already convinced that I could keep her team safe, or at least safer than they otherwise would be.

I glanced over to my dad. "That about it?"

My face fell slightly when I saw how he was looking at me before he quickly composed himself with a shake of the head. "No, looks like you've got it under control, kiddo."

I nodded slowly, mulling it over. "Alright. It sounds good, then. Tell Armsmaster that his tranquilizer will work on Lung if he gets it injected in the neck or torso, and to use a fast-acting aerosol if he wants to take in Oni Lee alive, or the current one if he doesn't mind a body."

Hey everyone, thanks for reading. My writing style's a bit disjointed, I'm aware, but I'm happy to blame all that on Simurgh shenanigans. Taylor's got very little to do with her own actions when she's focused on achieving nodes so far ahead of her, and fighting Coil was more like background noise in the meantime. I wasn't satisfied with anything I wrote about the intermediary, so we used Taylor's experience as our reference, moving straight to the part with her father safe, her powers revealed on her terms, and with the first steps towards building a professional relationship with the PRT complete.

I'm a big fan of using Coil as a villain, but I do find that his arcs will inevitably be too long or too short in anything I write. Here, though, he's got his fingers in too many pies for Taylor to miss, especially with how easily she can spot Thinker effects in her web. So Coil's gone before Skitter went out for the first time in canon, let the butterflies commence.

And one last thing, please forgive the formatting errors. I'm still figuring out how to best publish on this site.