After another terminally early run I spent the next morning wearing out my shoes and stressing my bank account in an attempt to track down as many reagents as I could. I would have to describe the success of the entire venture as 'mixed'.

While I could use any item that technically met the description of the reagent the quality of what was used significantly affected the efficiency of the materials. For instance, I could use tap water for any formula that called for water as a reagent, but purified water without the chemical additives required much less, and if I used distilled water I only needed a fraction of the volume. Considering the quantity I would need to carry I grabbed a couple of jugs of distilled water from a pharmacy.

Ethanol was going to be difficult to track down. I could in theory use something like vodka, but with that concentration and the impurities present I'd be using insane quantities for each formula. Something like Everclear would do the trick, but it was illegal in New Hampshire. Without ethanol I was losing access to my strongest healing formula and one of my most powerful blasts. I could work around it and had enough other options that it wasn't crippling, but it was still disheartening to run into that obstacle.

Of course, I could always order it or pick it up from a specialty store or chemical supplier. Then I would end up on all the tinker lists. Also I was pushing things as much as I could as far as cost was concerned. I just didn't have the budget for special orders.

A bit of research and a trip to a garden supply store got me a bag of sulfur that would cover enough of my fire formulas to burn down half the city. I stopped by a gas station on the way back and picked up a couple of bottles of motor oil. After that I went straight to the largest grocery store I could find.

Grease and vinegar were easy to find in the volume and quality I needed. I only had one formula that called for mushrooms, so a single carton would hold me for the foreseeable future. I dug through their entire pepper selection but couldn't find anything that would work with my formula. The produce section did have a lot of roots that would do for my assortment of healing formula, though it wasn't as simple as just raiding the root vegetables. It would have been great if I could just buy a bag of baby carrots and call it a day. There was a quality requirement that was kind of aggressive with this reagent. The ginger root worked best, but there were some other options amongst the less common produce that would also do the trick. I was able to stock up, but not for the rock bottom price I had been hoping for.

The butcher counter was able to get me some excellent beef bones properly cleaned and everything. I'd have to break them down to formula size, but otherwise it was a perfect source.

Craft stores turned out to be a godsend for the more obscure reagents. They had clay in spades, though I had to spring for the natural stuff rather than the more processed modeling clay. A huge selection of feathers was stocked, which was good considering I needed a specific type and quality for my alchemy. Wax was as simple as finding the cheapest candles in the store. It would take some processing, but nothing too labor intense. They even had a collection of quartz that could function perfectly for formula that called for crystal, and the last store I checked even had bags of acorns for sale. Seriously, god bless crazy craft people.

The last two reagents I needed to track down were limestone and ash. Fortunately a cashier at one of the craft stores was able to direct me to an even more obscure supply store that had bags for sale for the purpose of soap making. I picked up a sack of wood ash that would keep me for months.

Limestone would be tricky. I couldn't just buy it off the shelf, but a single good sized chunk would cover me for ages. It was part of my best defensive formula, so I didn't want to abandon it, but I didn't have a decent source. I decided to sort it out another day considering I'd made more than decent progress. Fifteen out of twenty two wasn't bad, especially considering two of those didn't exist and two more were highly obscure.

Ah, yes. Meteorite and dry ice. The combination would let me synthesize a call bead. That thing was pretty much the philosopher's stone for this system of alchemy. It let you 'call' on the supernatural power of other people. In theory I would be able to access the powers of other capes with them. It would be incredible if I could pull it off, but the procedure for making the connection was esoteric and the ingredients for the formula weren't easy to come by.

I had also given up on gunpowder at this point. I could combine it with grease for my strongest attack formula but I didn't want the hassle of trying to acquire some without any background in fireworks or explosives. That was just asking for a visit from the police.

If I was going to go on my first patrol tonight I needed to address the pressing problem of how the hell I was going to carry all the reagents I needed for my alchemy to function. There were twenty four formulas I could mix with my current materials. Without a better way of organizing things I'd be lucky to be able to have nine ready to go in the field.

Thus the second half of the day was spent hunting through thrift and army surplus stores for an effective way of managing fifteen different reagents, which had to be grouped into clusters for my available formulas. Not every one of my formulas needed to be on hand, and frankly for most of the dark alchemy I would need to be in a seriously bad spot to break it out. It was a horrifying mix of acid, decay, force, lightning, five flavors of fire and for some reason that I can promise you made perfect sense even if it seemed insane, a summoned swarm of bees. None of those were anything close to non-lethal. I was still going to keep them ready, but they wouldn't be my quick draw options.

My design ability proved to be at least partially active in the area of selecting items for my costume. There was a limited amount it could do if I wasn't making the equipment myself, but it did help me arrange the belts, holsters, and pouches in a way that looks planned and professional rather than slapdash.

The fact that I was rushing out my costume during the same shopping trip was the real burden. I had honestly anticipated staying in the workshop for another couple of weeks, but that was because I assumed my early powers would be design and construction based and I would need a serious amount of buildup time. I didn't imagine I would get immediate defensive powers and a serious array of offence and utility formula so early. If I'm being completely honest I didn't expect to get powers like this at all.

I was browsing through a thrift store when I felt my passenger's excitement as another constellation swung close. My power latched on to one of the smaller motes and secured a connection. The constellation was 'Vehicles' and the mote was called 'Black Thumb'. It was a mechanic based power. Mostly the ability provided me with the full skills of an expert mechanic. An entire lifetime's experience at my fingertips. Not just the abstract or theoretical stuff I'd seen in class, but real world 'diagnose the problem by the sound of the cylinders' master level mechanic work.

The ability also allowed me to upgrade vehicles in a lot of crazy ways without adversely affecting performance in the slightest and meant I could repair and tune up engines even as I was operating them, because powers were crazy like that. It was insane, but that seemed to be the standard for cape powers.

It was also useless to me at this point. Even with the master level of skill I had it would take days to get a vehicle together. Less for something like a motorcycle, but the mechanical expertise didn't come with any improved operational skill. I would be lucky to avoid killing myself if I got on a motorbike. Wait, I had enhanced durability. So I might be fine, providing the effect also stopped my brain from splattering against the inside of my skull during my first collision.

This was a good power, but it was presently badly overshadowed by what Squealer was already churning out on a daily basis. I could guarantee my vehicles would look a lot better than the ones she built, but that was a very low bar. Give me resources and time and I might be able to pull something together that looked like it belonged in the same league as Armsmaster's bike, though it would be nowhere near that level of efficiency.

On the other hand I might be able to make some money on the side doing off the books car repairs. This ability seemed designed to keep engines operating in horrible conditions with almost no resources. I bet I could patch up most car problems with minimal parts and even less time. That application would actually turn the fact that this was mundane crafting to an advantage. I was capable of good work, but aside from a few eccentric upgrades it was all standard stuff any competent mechanic would be able to do. I should be able to pull off the whole 'guy who knows about cars' thing and leverage that to some part time work.

But that was something for later. Still, the prospect of more resources, or at least useful skills helped me justify a bit more splurging than I would have otherwise been comfortable with. I indulged on a longer coat, something with plenty of pockets for reserve storage without being heavy enough to be unbearable once warmer weather sets in. I'd need some kind of head covering and was determined not to start with a hoodie as my only concealment. Hats and helmets could work, but they got expensive and I'd already made a major expenditure with my coat. Instead I picked up a couple of large bandanas that would do the job. Normally that kind of thing would look worse than a hoodie, but I trusted my design ability to pull it together.

The shopping trip was also made easier by my mobile storage. Being able to duck into an alley or side hall and throw all my purchases into the entry room of my workshop made the entire process mostly painless. It would also allow me access to all my alchemy supplies no matter what happened, which was another relief. By mid-afternoon I had accomplished as much as I was likely to without either spending myself into debt or ending up on a series of government watch lists. I headed back to my apartment to prepare for my first night out as a cape.

That night out didn't begin until after eleven o'clock. I may not have a full suite of tinker powers, but it seemed I had enough that it is disturbingly easy to lose track of time in my workshop. The technical knowledge and machine skills from black thumb allowed me to work to a much higher level of quality, even outside of vehicles. There was enough experience with detailing and body work in that skillset that, when combined with the aesthetic skills from my previous ability, allowed some truly impressive design work.

That was why I had a mask now. In my own opinion it was actually a pretty great mask. It contoured to my face perfectly and matched the vaguely sleek and streamlined theme I had managed with my bracer. The entire thing sat close enough that my vision wasn't significantly affected and when combined with one bandana tied over my head and another across my nose and mouth it gave me a striking appearance. It was kind of like a modern take on a knight's visor, though the protection aspect was less important than the ability to conceal my identity.

I'd added a few metal details to my coat as well. Not enough to weigh myself down, just enough to communicate that I was in costume. For some reason the skills from Black Thumb really liked the look of shiny metal, particularly chrome. I'd done the best with what I had in my metal workshop and found a balance. Enough metal to create a distinct look, but not enough to turn me into the walking hood ornament Black Thumb would have wanted.

Walking was an apt word to use here. I had only been out for a few minutes when I decided foot patrols were for chumps. Unfortunately none of my alchemist formulas helped with mobility. Well, one might have, but that was what I needed that weird pepper for.

As bad a reputation as Brockton Bay had for crime it seemed you couldn't just take an evening walk and hope to stumble across it. After an hour of wandering around I started to wonder what the point of this was. I guess I was showing the flag, so to speak, but other than spooking a few people on the street I hadn't done much. I could always head into the heart of a gang's territory and hope that my presence triggered some kind of response, but as good as my defenses were I didn't want to risk that. I might be highly resistant to damage but I could be captured or locked down fairly easily. If I got swarmed I would have to resort to dark alchemy to get out of it, and that meant a series of maiming at the very least. The kind of energy I could throw out was not something to be used lightly.

So the 'walk around randomly' plan was definitely a bust. If I wanted to actually make a difference I'd need to go out with proper objectives. That meant research, scouting, information gathering, and planning. All stuff I didn't have time for with my work/training/crafting schedule. I see why so many tinkers end up on teams.

Maybe I could get a police radio. If I listened to dispatches I might be able to use that to respond to serious incidents. Were dispatches even sent over open broadcast anymore? It was probably encoded, or at least digital. If I had better tech abilities I could probably crack it, but my current skill set wouldn't be helpful.

So all I was accomplishing tonight was walking around in costume and feeling like a badass. Frankly I was ok with that. I might not bring down a villain or stop a major crime, but I know that I could have. Being out here was something positive, both for the city and for my cape career.

All that rationalization fell away when the sound of breaking glass reached me. Yes, I was ok with nothing happening, but if something did there was no way I was going to miss it. My coat flew behind me as I broke into a sprint. My belts, bandoleer, and holsters were secured enough that they kept stable while I ran but the reserve reagents in my coat pockets were bouncing uncomfortably with each step. I'd need to scale those down in the future.

I rounded a corner and nearly collided with a man in a black body suit and red demon mask who appeared in front of me. Literally appeared, as in teleportation. Rather than turn to face me he kept his attention on the mass of shadows that concealed a nearby alley mouth and damaged store front. Instead a copy of him appeared facing me as the first kept watch on the shadows.

I could see large shapes moving within the dark mass and hear the scraping of claws on pavement and broken glass. But I could also see the demon ninja in front of me. Oni Lee. I knew how dangerous he was and his reputation for violence. I didn't know if this was a hero-villain fight or if he was going up against another criminal. Either way he was still a threat, both to me and the city.

Did I want to do this? Was I ready to do this? Probably not, but that wasn't going to stop me. I stared down the demon mask for a handful of seconds as neither of us made a move. Then I shifted my stance, drew my club, and suddenly it was on.

Oni Lee was a much better fighter than me. It was evident by the way the fight opened with an arm reaching from behind me and drawing a knife across my neck. With the steel hard durability of my bracer extending through my body the blade came away without drawing blood, but the sensation was distinctly unpleasant. I swung my club back and tried to catch the ninja, but he rolled out of the way of my clumsy swipe and lunged forward with repeated strikes. The knife bounced off in every instance without so much as fraying the fabric of my coat and deftly stepped out of the reach of any return blows from my baton. More clones started appearing around me, swinging with different weapons. Stilettos, combat knives, machetes, and a hatchet all bounced or skidded off as I weathered the hail of blades and desperately tried to score a return hit.

On more than one occasion I considered reaching for a prepared mix for my attack formulas. Clones were dissolving as quickly as they were appearing and a single fireball should be able to clear the crowd. Still, I held back. I had no way of knowing which of these was the real Lee and didn't want to end up with a corpse on my hands.

That conviction was severely tested as a pair of thin knives snaked through the gap of my mask and found my eyes. I don't care how tough you are, that is not something you can walk off. An attack that would have pierced my brain was no worse than accidently poking yourself in the eye, but it was enough to completely take my mind off the fight. My legs were swept out from under me and four copies of Lee piled on, pinning me to the ground.

I thought that this was just about the worst situation I could be in. Then I heard the pin drop. Pins. All the pins from all the grenades of the clones that were piled on top of me. And the heavy thuds as dozens of small egg shaped metal objects hit the ground around me.

It was simple really. What do you do if you're an experienced parahuman murderer and you're fighting someone too tough for conventional weapons? Escalate. Escalate hard. And in Oni Lee's case that meant grenades. All the grenades. I may have been as tough as steel at the moment but I didn't like my chances against that much explosive. I don't think there's a cape in the city that would be comfortable in my position right now.

I'm rather proud of how I managed to respond to my first legitimately life threatening moment. In the scant few seconds before the grenades fuses triggered I managed to grab one of my prepared formulas from a belt pouch. I spilled every other set of the same formula from said pouch, but I was not worried about the cascade of clay and ash that spread out across the street. I was worried about being able to complete this formula before I got splattered across the entire block.

I mashed the two ingredients together in the precise mixture and channeled the essence of the reagents into the desired effect. The knowledge I had gained from this ability put me on good footing in terms of managing the process under stress. Alchemy was normally a complex art and required careful concentration. I doubt most people would have been able to pull off any result in this situation. What I managed wasn't my best effort, but the formula combined successfully and settled into my body, reinforcing me against harm. I managed it just before the first explosion triggered.

It's a unique experience to be in the middle of a pile of grenades as they detonate. Fragmentation grenades combine the fun of a pulverizing shockwave with the effect of dozens of chunks of sharp metal launched at high velocity. Funnily enough I had considered not prepping the Defend formula. I figured my bracer would give enough durability for everything but cape powers and I had Reflect to counter them. I did not see this situation coming, and it made me very grateful that I decided to play completionist in terms of what I carried with me.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. It was like being in a storm of thunder, beatings, and stabs. I could feel the blasts in my ears, my throat, my lungs. Shrapnel pelted me and the fact that it wasn't penetrating my coat was small comfort when I could feel a bruise bloom with every impact. The fact that my bracer's durability extended to both my clothes and body was probably the only reason I was able to endure. The reinforcement of my alchemy held off just enough of the damage that I was still conscious and mobile once the series of explosions ended and the smoke cleared, but that was not the same as unharmed.

At this point I was ready to break out the dark alchemy and reduce that bastard to a puddle of smoking flesh, but I held back. I had been playing this stupid and it was time to level the field. In the smoking crater I pulled a prepped formula consisting of a piece of wax and two measures of water, held in a small pouch together. I saw the shadow of Oni Lee approaching through the smoke and mashed together my speed formula as I lunged towards him.

This was one of my stronger enhancement formulas and one I would have preferred to field test before using. It did allow faster movement, but only slightly. Mostly it accelerated perception and reaction. It was essentially a bullet time formula. At my level of proficiency it wasn't quite enough to dodge bullets, but it provided an overwhelming advantage against a normal human, regardless of the difference in skill.

Oni Lee's skill level was still damn impressive. Probably the only reason I didn't end the fight in one swing was his reactions that turned with my strike, resulting in a spider web of cracks across his mask rather than the concussion I'd been going for. I ignored the Oni Lee in front of me as another appeared to my right. My baton came around and swiped a knife out of his hand, then continued past to glance off the chest of another copy. Two more appeared within a fraction of a second of each other and I ignored their attacks, instead spinning and bringing my weapon towards the empty street behind me.

My precaution paid off as the form of Oni Lee flickered into being with a silver and red orb in one hand. I brought my club down onto his forearm with all my strength. The light composite of his wrist guard folded under the heavy impact of my solid steel club. I felt a pair of snaps as the club continued down with all its force and watched in slow motion as the assassin's lower arm flopped like a strand of overcooked spaghetti.

The metal object fell from his useless fingers and one by one the copies collapsed into dust until even the version of Lee that was cradling his broken arm disappeared. My speed boost wore off and time resumed its normal pace. I was panting hard enough that the bandana around my neck was flaring with every breath and my body felt like a giant bruise. The surge of adrenalin that had carried me through the end of the fight was crashing and every bit of pain, exhaustion, and overexertion was coming to the forefront.

My attention was drawn to the sound of a slow clap in the direction of the dark alley. The ominous black clouds had faded revealing three monstrous creatures of bone and meat pacing back and forth. The clap was coming from one of the riders, a young man in ren-fair clothes with a stylized mask and small crown.

"Nicely fucking done. You really bruted your way through that fight." He was wearing a slightly sarcastic smirk, but there was a cautious edge to it. "Ten out of ten, full points."

"Not a brute." A blond girl in a purple and black outfit with a domino mask chimed in. "More of a tinker really. He buffs himself to fight."

One of the last two riders, a guy in motorcycle leathers and a skull helmet cleared his throat. "We appreciate the help. Oni Lee is a serious threat and you really helped us out there." There were clouds of darkness leaking around the seams of his helmet and his voice had a strange echoy resonance.

There was a growl from the last rider, a muscular girl with a cheap dog mask. Her growl was echoed by the three monsters. "We could have taken him."

"Maybe," The guy in biker leathers clarified, "but we still appreciate the help."

I continued to stare at the four capes. The reason I hadn't replied wasn't because I recognized them as the Undersiders, a smash and grab villain team so minor I hadn't even bothered to research them since getting my powers. It wasn't because I was squaring up for another fight. It wasn't because of the exhaustion I was feeling. It was because my passenger was basically going nuts.

The emotional link I have with my passenger is complicated. It's always there, but unless I'm dealing with something cape related it tends to be fairly muted. Cape responses vary considerably, but generally villains trigger some kind of negative emotion. That was most certainly not the case here.

The reactions I was getting were complicated and a lot more nuanced that anything I had picked up before. Mostly the feeling was sympathetic, though in different ways for each Undersider. As I swept my gaze across the four of them I felt spikes of compassion, amusement, admiration, respect, and small levels of caution. Before I could respond or try to parse the information I was getting the girl in purple spoke up.

"Grue, we need to leave." Her face was ashen.

"Tattletale?" He glanced around as if looking for a threat.

"Full black out. We need to move now." His body language seemed confused. She spoke again, her voice taking on a desperate edge. "He's reading us!"

The biker, Grue, went stock still for a fraction of a second, then snapped up both his arms and let out a roiling wave of black mist. As it flowed over me I could hear the sounds of the creatures scrabbling over the pavement, but the noise was delayed and sourceless. The cloud of darkness was pitch black and had a murky feel to it. It also didn't seem to be dispersing any time soon.

Did that girl know about my passenger? Was that part of her power? Should I be worried about other people picking up on the connection and information I was getting? I focused on Tattletale and gauged the emotions that were being sent to me. There was the sense that she was dangerous. Well, not physically dangerous but still a threat. There was also a certain amount of faith in her, and admiration. It felt like it was both for her abilities and her character. Concern was there as well. She was in a bad spot. I couldn't pick out what she was being threatened by, but it was something my passenger felt she needed help with.

That was a lot to deal with, and it significantly more detailed than what I'd gotten from any other cape. It felt like other Undersiders had as much information attached to them as well, but this wasn't the time to place through that. I was currently standing in the middle of the road in a cloud of supernatural darkness. Luckily I had something that might help with that.

I reached into my pouches and started fishing out individual reagents. I hadn't prepped this formula for obvious reasons. It had no combat utility and I couldn't imagine a situation where it would be necessary.

Well, that situation was now. I separated out two units of ash and one of wax and combined them in the Revealer formula. I wasn't sure it would work, but it was my best chance of getting out of here without having to feel my way along the walls of buildings.

It worked. Well, it sort of worked. The darkness didn't vanish, but I could make out the shape of things. It was like looking at a wireframe model of the world. Not full vision, but immensely better than trying to stumble my way out of this mess.

It also gave me a chance to appreciate the scene of my fight with Oni Lee. The grenade cluster had created an actual crater in the middle of the street and shrapnel had pockmarked the surrounding walls and broken more than a few windows. That was probably why the Undersiders had stayed back. I was in serious discomfort from that mess. Any normal human would have been reduced to a smear. I doubt even the monster dogs they were riding would have been able to stand up to that.

Speaking of which, I was done feeling like I'd been shoved through a meat grinder. I dug out one of my prepared formulas, a feather and a piece of ginger root. It was the most powerful healing formula I had with the only downside being that I could only use it on myself. I combined the ingredients and tossed the reaction into the air. The restorative effects settled over me and instantly I felt the pain vanish. It did nothing to help the frays and tears of my clothing, but that was a lesser concern. I had been at ground zero for dozens of grenades and managed to walk away from it with nothing but a bit of clothing damage. What must Oni Lee have thought after that?

Actually, what was he thinking? A few seconds of searching had me locate the silver sphere he dropped when I broke his arm. It was basic in its design, simple metal with a single seam and an activation switch protected against accidental triggering. You didn't need mechanical expertise to figure out what this was. When conventional weapons weren't enough Oni Lee had broken out one of Bakuda's tinker tech devices. This was almost certainly some horrible kind of bomb.

It was dangerous just to be holding something like this. I didn't doubt a bomb tinker would have some method of remote detonation. The thing was, how did I dispose of this properly? Tinker tech would be beyond the means of the bomb squad and I didn't have any way of contacting the Protectorate. Also, it may have been a very bad idea, but I didn't want to just get rid of it. This was the very first piece of tinker tech I had held in my own hands. The potential that I could learn from this was making me seriously consider the risks of holding on to it.

If there was a remote detonator then it would have a signal to trigger it. There was also the possibility it was on a deadman's switch and would go off it a signal dropped away, but I doubted that. The chance that Oni Lee could end up somewhere when the signal would drop out and end up at ground zero was too high. It's possible it was on a timer that would detonate if not reset after a fixed amount of time, but that was less likely than there just being remote detonation built in.

One thing I was certain about was nothing could reach my workshop when the door was closed. That was a piece of absolute knowledge that came when I got the power. I had enough steel in stock to build a container that would block any type of conventional signal. It's possible Bakuda uses something exotic and tinker based for her triggers, but I doubt it would be universally implemented in handheld grenades. Not with how recently she triggered.

I felt the Celestial Forge move again as a constellation approached. During the fight with Oni Lee my power had failed to latch onto one of the larger motes from the Vehicle constellation. This time it connected with a small mote from what turned out to be the 'Time' constellation.

The ability my power got wasn't specifically connected with time, but the mote had a link to another much larger mote in the same consolation. Whatever that was, the first ability was necessary for whatever time power the second one represented. And I wasn't exactly disappointed with what I had connected to.

The ability was called 'Scientist: Machinery'. It represented doctorate level understanding of the actual science behind a specific field, in this case machinery and mechanical applications. It also carried an intelligence increase, though what that meant exactly was difficult to gauge. It would definitely help with my pseudo tinkering, but it wasn't some kind of serendipitous power that would let me crack the secrets of tinker tech explosives.

Actually, it was possible that whatever caused this darkness to block light also interfered with other signals. That would mean I had a window to lock down the bomb that would last until this cloud dissipated. I just needed to get to my workshop.

I moved into the alley and hunted around until I found a door that would serve my purpose. I fished out my key, opened the way to my workshop, and barred the portal behind me. The inside was still lit, but wisps of eerie darkness slipped through the gap in the door. I ignored that and headed straight for my lab.

Using every ounce of my new skills I started tearing through my stock of materials to cobble together the most secure container I could manage. Multiple redundant faraday cages, thick plates of steel and an extensive grounding system covered it. The resulting structure would have to be disassembled for it to be moved and was wedged in the furthest corner of my workshop to minimize any damage that could be caused. It was absolutely the best containment system capable of being constructed with my skill set and resources. Unless Bakuda uses some trigger mechanism completely removed from electromagnetic communication this would be able to block it.

I still did all the work with my Force Field formula active and elected to not sleep in my usual workshop adjacent bed.

Force Field was seriously powerful for a defensive formula. It would completely block a single attack regardless of strength. The reason I picked Defend over it this evening was once that first attack was blocked it was completely spent. It would have helped me against only one of the dozens of grenades I had been pelted with. Against this bomb it would be able to save me providing the effect didn't have multiple stages, or a persistent effect, or some kind of environmental change, or a chemical or biological vector. In short it provided some security, but nowhere near enough.

By the time I finished work and changed back to my civilian wear the darkness was fading to occasional wisps of shadow. It was getting to be late enough at night that it could technically count as early in the morning and I had the ill fortune of having to work tomorrow. I trudged back to my apartment in civilian wear, opened my workshop just long enough to grab my blankets and pillow, then collapsed in my apartment in an attempt to get as much sleep as possible before my alarm. I could sort out the rest of this mess tomorrow.

Jumpchain abilities this chapter:

Black Thumb (Mad Max Gauntlet) 100:

You have the skills of an expert mechanic, able to keep vehicles running even in the most inhospitable conditions. Repairing and tuning up engines is your bread and butter, even while they're still operating. You also have a feel for how to upgrade cars in more esoteric ways; hey, it takes skill to add that many spikes and not hurt the handling!

Scientist: Machinery (Girl Genius) 100:

You have a DOCTORATE! And skill in ACTUAL SCIENCE! That doesn't need you to go crazy to work! Admittedly, it won't break the fabric of space and time, but meh. Tradeoffs everywhere you go. You're highly trained in one field, and can easily apply its principles to your work. After all, building a crazed abomination upon the natural order usually requires at least a smidgen of understanding of which bones are supposed to go where (Even if you end up changing them around a little). At the very least, you're also in the genius range of standard intelligence.