Yes. Yes, I did. Yes, I am.


Because fuck you, that's why.

If Legendary Tinker is an exploration of what could have been and an exercise in worldbuilding, this fic is very much the opposite. I am intentionally going to rehash some played out tropes common to both the Worm fandom and American media at large, then try to put an interesting spin on them.

Also, LT will still be updated on August 1. Don't worry about that.

Wake 1.1

2010, August 28: Brockton Bay, NH, USA

"Bryce, you okay, sweetie?" I heard from behind my door. Mom was concerned. She was desperate. As far as she knew, her son had always been quiet, always been alone, always been depressed. She had no idea what to do and neither did Sierra.

When dad died a week ago, this family broke apart. It didn't shatter violently, but it crumbled, like a set of ruins on fast forward through the ages. Ironically, his death gave me the chance to build myself up again. After the funeral, in the quiet of my room, I triggered. John Kiley was the man who raised me in this life, the one who would sit me on his lap for hours with a guitar in hand. Losing him felt like losing the one good thing in my life. I know, everyone says that, but damn if it isn't true. Both figuratively and literally, he was my music, my sound.

I played dad's favorite song at his funeral, fingers trembling and barely hitting the chords as tears dripped down my face.

So yeah, that's me, Bryce Kiley.

Formerly Jonathan Kim. Formerly not of this world, this life.

My memories returned when I was four years old, about as young as a child can be and still have the thinky-thinky bits. Is it any wonder then that I was a loner? Sorry if my twenty-seven year old self couldn't stand to make friends with toddlers. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the second chance at life, grateful enough that I was happy to bear the indignity of daycare.

Then I found out where I was: Brockton Bay, New Hampshire, also known as Cauldron's Shitheap.

I was in Worm and I had no powers. No random deity dropped by to give me magic. No CYOAs were filled out. I passed GO, but someone cheated me out of my two hundred. I died one day and I woke up as a four year old in Brockton.

On the plus side, Worm was a story I knew well, almost to encyclopedic levels in fact. For whatever reason, though memories of my old life dulled like motion picture from an age before color, the memories of the stories I'd enjoyed remained fresh. Not just Worm, every story from the shittiest isekai guilty pleasure to the autobiography of that one Al Qaida defector I'd read. Fascinating book, that.

Still, I thought I could be forgiven if this threw me into the pits for most of my life. If that was my gift from the powers that be, I felt I got ripped off big time.

I tried to enjoy my second lease on life, but there's only so much existential dread a man can put off before it all crashes down.

"Bryce?" mom called again. I realized I never answered her.

"Sorry, mom," I replied. "I'm okay. I'll be down for dinner in a bit."

My dad died. I triggered, luckily in the privacy of my own room as I cried myself to sleep.

I finally felt like I had power, a way to make myself relevant, a way to give myself a fighting chance. Ironic that it was built on the death of the man I admired most.

"How very Wildbow," I muttered.

Mom, Sierra, and I tried our best to have a normal conversation, a normal dinner. I recognized Sierra of course. In less than a year, she would be one of Taylor's most loyal lieutenants. And me? I was the snot-nosed punk kid who threw himself in with the Merchants following Leviathan. Looking at mom's fragile smile and Sierra's determined eyes, I swore for the millionth time that I wouldn't be the Bryce I'd read about.


Back in my room, I put on some music. Nothing too loud, just the quiet strumming of guitars dad and I liked to have in the background while we worked. I turned on my PC and started to brainstorm. The power that I didn't get when I was four? Yeah, I wasn't bitter anymore. I doubt the existential dread would ever completely leave me, not until Scion was dead and gone, but my power had the potential to rival any of the Triumvirate, or even Scion, given time.

I was the Tinker of Fiction. I knew, somehow, that I could translate anything and everything from any work of fiction into Earth Bet using what could vaguely be described as techno-magic.

I discovered my current specialization when I saw a spider in the bathtub and thought of all the different genetic modifications I could make to it. I thought of spiders with elemental attacks, psychic powers, poison that could drop a dozen bull elephants, and more. I thought of containment devices in the shape of size-changing spheres and compatible healing units designed to restore six of these creatures to perfect health at a time. I thought of bottled medicine, mass produced, that could heal many injuries and poisons.

I thought of Pokémon, AKA Cockfighting with Friendship.

I grinned. It seemed only fitting that my favorite franchise would be the one to kickstart my cape life.

Typically, stories I'd read that involved a tinker of fiction had shifting specializations. It was a mechanic used by the author to both introduce fresh skillsets and ensure the main character didn't get too overpowered too quickly. Now, that mechanic was a major part of my life. One month. Like it or not, I would get exactly four weeks with each specialization before someone upstairs rolled the cosmic dice. After that, anything I made could be maintained, I could even make more of whatever I'd already made, but nothing new could be accessed.

It only took a cursory overview of the franchise for me to conclude that having Pokémon as my first fiction was a mixed blessing.

One would think that a Pokémon specialization would make me the greatest biotinker ever. One would be wrong. I had access to the technology, not the creatures. If it couldn't in some way be achieved by human hands, it was by extension beyond mine.

That meant I couldn't just take a goldfish from a pet store and tinker with it until it became a gyarados, the quintessential city-busting sea serpent of Pokémon fame.

Even if I could, I wasn't sure that I would have embraced my inner biotinker.

I was in Brockton Bay, the home of Emily Piggot, the Ellisburg survivor with an irrational but completely understandable hatred of everything Frankenstein. The last think I needed was to mark myself for a kill order the very day of my debut. If I ever dabbled in that branch of tinkertech, it'd be in slow, subtle steps.

But that didn't mean I had no options.

Even without biotinkering, the Pokémon universe had plenty to offer me. For one, there was at least one evolutionary line that was man-made. Two, I really wouldn't mind learning how to fix myself an extra-rejuvenating lemonade or some super-soda pop, because those were a thing. Warp pads, inertia amplifiers, barrier generators, perfect insulators, and robots were all bits of tech that regularly appeared throughout the series.

But the biggest prize? I considered them to be the TMs, technical machines. The Pokémon universe had technology that could download vast quantities of information into a creature's brain, or whatever passed as one in some cases, with no consequences.

And with the specialization came the auxiliary powers necessary to make the specialization work: I knew how to ignite aura in living creatures. I could foster psychic energy within myself given enough time. I could harness the bonds between pokémon and trainer, literally the power of friendship, in the form of z-crystals and mega stones.


"Shit, I know what I want first," I muttered. Opening up my PC's notepad, I started to code.

I worked long into the night. So absorbed was I that I didn't even notice when the sun started to peak over my window. It was rough. If I showed Dragon my work, she'd probably laugh herself silly. Still, I had a burgeoning AI, a porygon.

Kind of… I had a digital imprint, basically the equivalent of a cluster of embryonic stem cells that may one day become a fetus that may one day become a baby that may one day become a contributing member of society. It was a long way off from porygon-z, the powerhouse pokémon that could tangle with most dragons, but it was a start.

'Baby steps, Bryce,' I told myself.

I stretched and cracked every bone in my spine before shivering with satisfaction. My fourteen year old body wasn't used to all-nighters, but I couldn't deny the feeling of accomplishment welling up in my chest.


2010, August 29: Brockton Bay, NH, USA

I left my nascent porygon to steep in its embryonic code and joined my family for breakfast. We were pretty well off, all things considered. We weren't obscenely rich like the Anders, Christners, or Stansfields, but dad was a dentist with his own private practice and mom is a chiropractor. Thankfully, my parents were pretty frugal so Sierra's college fund was paid for. Mom was the sort who couldn't just lie around the house so she'd renewed her license and gone back to work the moment I showed I could handle myself. Even with dad's passing, we weren't hurting for money.

"So honey, what are you planning to do today?" mom asked.

"Oh, you know, pack for school, go back to bed," I shrugged. "What else do I do on Sunday?"

Sierra rolled her eyes like only a big sister could. "She's telling you to get some sun, little bro."

"It couldn't hurt, dear."

I chewed my beignets and bacon, a Kiley Sunday tradition, and mulled it over. "I don't mind going outside," I said slowly. "I've been meaning to go buy a few things so the mall wouldn't be bad."

"What do you need?"

"I don't know. I was just planning on wandering around. I guess… I just want a hobby."

"I'll drive you there," Sierra said softly. "I'm going to visit a friend anyway."

"Thanks, sis."

"Do you need some money?"

"It's fine, mom. My allowance should be enough. It's not like I've been using it anyway."

"But still…"

I kept her from reaching for her purse. "Mom," I said gently, "I don't even know what kind of hobby I want to pick up yet. If I need something I can't get on my own, I promise I'll come to you."

"Okay, sweetie." She got up to put the dishes in the dishwasher and gave me a hug on the way.

That feeling was… uncomfortable. It was the embrace of a woman who had no idea how to cope with grief. She couldn't wrap her mind around being a single mother and so tried to show us, or me being the youngest, as much affection as she humanly could.


"You know, you probably could have gotten a few hundred out of mom for your shopping spree," my sister said from the driver seat of her 2006 Ford Focus. She'd gotten it last year from dad for getting into college.

"I know," I sighed in frustration. "I don't want her money like that though. She's sick, Sierra. She's trying to do anything possible to stop thinking about dad and spoiling me is just what's convenient."

Her expression softened. "You're perceptive, little bro. But I could say the same about you. I haven't seen you touch dad's guitar since the funeral."

I laughed derisively. "You're not wrong." My sister and I, I'd made sure we had a better relationship than the canon Bryce had. No pointless displays of teenage angst for me, thanks. "It's pathetic, but playing it hurts, you know?"

"It's not pathetic, Bryce. It's human."

"Well what's your coping strategy? Mom's become a doting mother hen. I'm using retail therapy. You?"

"Friends. Booze," she smiled sheepishly. It was the smile of an older sister wishing her little brother wouldn't follow her example. "Don't tell mom?"

"Sure," I said slyly. "Save me a bottle?"

She snorted. "Of course. I'll hold it seven years until you're twenty-one."

"You're not legal either."

"Maybe, but I'm the cool older sister and you still look like a tween," she said with a grin.

I huffed but it was true. Bryce Kiley was a short five-two and barely past a hundred pounds soaking wet. I was as Wildbow described, an Arcadia student with black hair and pasty white skin who could pass for anywhere between a leggy ten and a midget sixteen. "I'm not that short," I still said.

"You are, but it's okay. I still love you, my dorky, artsy baby bro."

"At least I don't wear dreads," I sniped.

"And what's wrong with dreads?"

"You mean besides the cultural appropriation?"

"Big words for a little man."

"You know I'm smarter than you, right?"

"Ugh, will you let it go? You tutored me in biology. Once."

"And made you sign a paper admitting my intellectual superiority," I said smugly. It happened when she was in high school, a result of my past life's career as a physician's assistant that I never let her forget. "After all, what are little brothers for if not to flex on big sisters?"

"Want to walk?" she threatened.

"Pssh, you love me too much to kick me out of your car."

"I'm considering it."

We fell into an amiable silence. Hillside Mall was located just three blocks from the Forsberg Gallery, where practically every kid in the city went on a field trip at least once. The mall itself was a three story complex shaped vaguely like a lopsided doughnut with an open-air plaza in the center that doubled as the food court seating area. Beyond that, I wasn't sure what to say about it. It… didn't look trashy? The mall was on the good side of town and it showed. That the Wards regularly held PR events here certainly didn't hurt either.

I waved to my sister goodbye and started to walk around the stores. Despite what I told my mom and sister, I'd thought carefully about what I wanted to buy last night.

Whatever I picked up would have to be something a teenage boy could reasonably take an interest in. Even better, it had to be something Bryce Kiley could feasibly take an interest in. I needed my new hobby to disguise my tinkering, not just to mom, but to the PRT, Empire, Coil, and every other faction that would love to pressgang me into their service. Ideally, this hobby would require a lot of technical equipment that I could use to fuel my tinkering without resorting to erratic shopping sprees, a theme to justify my habits.

I made my way to the music store, Keys & Notes. I wasn't lying to Sierra, I really didn't want to touch the guitar much anymore, but I realized over my woolgathering last night that musical recording and production gear had a lot of things I wanted as a tinker.

A TM in the series was depicted as a CD, but it wasn't just an aesthetic similarity. When I thought about it, the existence of TMs implied a lot, such as the technology needed to scan a move and upload its data into compact storage. Somewhere out there in Silph Co. was a machine that could digitize the memories of pokémon and upload them for future download, a bit like an mp3 file one might say.

"Hey, mister," I called to the cashier. "Do you guys sell blank CDs and recording equipment?"

The cashier was a chubby man with a friendly smile and a five 'o' clock shadow that made him look older than he was. He wore a shirt with some Earth-Bet band's logo that I didn't recognize and a pair of cargo pants with too many pockets. "Yeah, little man. You want to be a DJ?"

"Not really a DJ," I said. "Performing in front of people isn't really my thing, but something to play with at home would be really cool."

He looked a little conflicted. "Sorry to break it to you, but even the home studio stuff can get really pricey. You could get your parents in here and I'll show them around."

"Would you believe me if I said I knew what I was talking about and could pay?"

"You have experience with making music?"

"Kind of," I replied. "Dad was really into music so I can play the guitar and piano. I've wanted to get into electronic music for a while though. How much is a MIDI?"

"Alright," he said, still unsure, "Don't say I didn't warn you. You need a good computer to start."

"I have that."

"A digital audio workstation, or DAW, should be next on your list. It can do a lot of the things a MIDI can do, especially for a beginner. It's software though and we only sell hardware here. Try the Best Buy. Warning you, even that's probably a bit out of your budget."

"Thanks, anything else?" 'I could have my porygon handle much of the legwork. It should be able to flush out a program if I give it a demo CD to work from,' I thought. I took a quick look around the store. "Can I take a look at the other stuff anyway?"

"Sure. As far as the hardware goes, you need an audio interface, headphones, and mic for a home studio. Some sound-dampening panels would be nice to have too. Trust me, your neighbors will thank you. Our selection isn't that great though, we're not too big into editing here."

"Cool, that's fine. Mind if I look around for the headphones?"

He shrugged. "Knock yourself out, kid, just don't break anything."

He went back to his magazine and I wandered around the store. The headphones sold here were geared towards consumers, with filters that adjusted sound to highlight specific frequencies for listener enjoyment, but that was fine. I picked up two of the better sets for three hundred dollars. I also grabbed a case of one hundred blank CDs. I also bought the cheapest mic I could. I'd probably end up gutting that but leaving the skeleton out for mom and Sierra to see wouldn't be bad to keep them off my tinker trail.

At Best Buy, I bought myself the most basic DAW that the clerk recommended. Seeing how I'd be developing my own AI, it was the space that really concerned me. I took the chance and pretended to be interested in gaming. He promised me a hard drive that would make my computer faster so I bought an external add-on for the purpose. Purchases made, I texted my sister to let her know I'd take the bus home.

Mom saw the mic and headphones as I walked in. "Music, Bryce?"

I scratched the back of my head, a nervous tick from my old life that carried over. "Yeah, I guess it's something to remember dad by. Can't really let it go, you know? And I always wanted to dabble in electric so…"

"Oh, honey." She hugged me. I made no comment of the wet spot on my shoulder. "He'd be proud of you."

"I hope so, mom. I hope so."


I spent the rest of my Sunday tinkering in my room. Mom wasn't an absentee parent like Daniel Hebert. She'd notice if appliances suddenly disappeared around the house, so I made sure to nick only what was absolutely necessary.

Grandpa's old tool kit found its way into my room. Dad's tweezers, used for teeth but just as good for precise manipulation disappeared into my drawer. From the garage, I dug out dad's old electric bass and amp. He dropped the rock 'n' roll shtick in favor of acoustic as he grew older, but he apparently had a wild side when he was younger.

I moved my porygon to the external hard drive then downloaded my new DAW onto my computer. I then tinkered until it had been converted to a TM Interface, an all-in-one system that would help me modify the specifics of any TM for use by any applicable pokémon.

Or in this case, a human. After all, humans could use aura, even firing off Aura Spheres in some rare cases. There was absolutely no reason a TM couldn't be configured for the human brain.

After that, first set of headphones had taken most of my attention. They became a downloader designed to input the data from a TM directly into a target's brain.

There were some limitations I ran into. To start, it was one thing to say humans had the potential to use pokémon moves, and a whole different matter to actually make TMs for humans. My bullshit power let me get around that, but the download time would be a full eight hours per move and my mastery of those moves would be limited until I had a firm foundation in aura manipulation comparable to a pokémon's. I wouldn't be using Hydro Pump to fly like Ash's squirtle could; the memories would be more rigid, like selecting a menu in a video game instead of any creative control.

That left the obvious question: Where were the TMs? I had the setup needed to download them into my brain, but I had nothing to download.

The answer was my porygon.

I didn't just code the little guy into existence because I liked blocky ducks. Yes, it would become a wonderful digital assistant, but it was more than that.

Porygon as a species had an extremely large movepool. Competitive players often said in my world that the porygon line suffered from the "four move syndrome," the trouble of having too many possibilities and only four slots. It could learn almost anything, and, because it was a digital existence, internet exposure was as valid a form of experience as direct physical tutelage. Once my porygon learned viable pokémon moves, I could turn those into TMs for my own use.

It wasn't just a digital assistant; it was my ticket to a customizable library of powers.

I suppressed my urge to cackle. It wouldn't do to worry mom.

For now, the little guy did what it was doing the night before: sleeping. Or rather, building its code from the seed I'd made. I estimated that it would wake in a week and almost cried at the thought of losing a full week of my favorite franchise.

By the time dinner came around and Sierra stumbled into the house, I had most of a working setup.

"You want to be a DJ, Bryce?" Sierra asked over a mouthful of meatloaf.

"Chew, dear," mom chided.

"Sorry," she swallowed. "So, DJ?"

I shrugged helplessly. "No, I just want to edit some music on my own. Play around with it, you know?"

"Sweet, just don't be one of those weirdos that try to sell their mixtape to all their friends."

"Wouldn't dream of it," I said dryly.

Mom watched us bicker with a warm smile. "Are you ready for school tomorrow, dear?"

"Yeah, mom. I'm packed."

"Did your summer reading?"

"Two months ago."

"Know where you need to go?"

"No, but that's what orientation is for."

"Where is orientation?"

"Mom," I sighed, "I'm going to be okay."

"I know, sweetie, but I'm still worried. You're in high school now."

"Mom, he'll be fine. I turned out great, didn't I?" Sierra chirped.

"For a certain definition of great," I snarked. She stuck her tongue out at me. "Real mature, sis."

"Children," my mom said sternly, but we could both see the corner of her mouth twitch upwards.


Huh, first chapter of a new segment. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Some of you may remember me bitching about why tinker of fiction style fics tend to struggle. Well, I'm going to give it a go myself.

Also, did you know goldfish are carps? Magikarps could be made from a goldfish, if I wanted to go the unrestricted biotinker route. But no, I have no intention of breaking my story that quickly.