Creature creation rules:
- It must be from a valid myth as we know them.
- It must be an actual creature. It can have human level intelligence (or more) but has to be a creature. (No elves).
- I'm allowing some modern day reinterpretations, so Taylor can create the fairies from Disney, but can also create the real Fae.
- Taylor can also create fantasy creatures, but they must come from a high fantasy world, or an appropriately medieval world. Mostly that rule is to avoid Pokémon, since they are out due to being a modern fantasy world.
- I reserve the right to change the rules at any time!
Important note: I've changed a bit about the ending of the last chapter. There was no discussion about Sophia, as it no longer makes sense. Also, Glory Girl and Panacea were left with Taylor and Kid Win rather than leaving. It's only the last few paragraphs that changed if you want to back and check.
Slipping carefully into the room where both Director Piggot and Miss Militia were planning things out, Armsmaster quietly closed the door before nodding at both women in greeting.
Both women are working at a table using tablets while discussing various things. Off to the side Armsmaster can see the only computers capable of linking to the testing chambers were still on, showing both of them had been following Taylor's time there.
Settling into his custom seat, Armsmaster picked up another tablet and started quickly catching up on the work already completed.
All of the details so far were how to get Shadow Stalker into the building and into custody with the least risk and public fuss possible. Reviewing the plans and personal Armsmaster agreed with each of the points raised as he got through. The only thing he added to the document was the location of Sophia's arrest.
At the moment it was being planned inside the Wards quarters. However there were too many windows in the room which could allow the girl to escape. It was safer to do it in the corridor outside as all of the walls were blanketed in electronic systems to ensure the safety of the Wards.
The actual entrance to the quarters was a T shaped junction, with the doorway down a short off shoot of the main corridor. If Armsmaster was inside the door when Sophia got there, it would leave plenty of room for several PRT officers to stand abreast and block off her retreat.
Forwarding the suggestion to the Director and Hannah, Armsmaster carried on reviewing the document without checking to see if either woman had a response. The rest of the details was who to pull in out of the PRT staff and what information would be passed out.
None of the three in the room were stupid. They all knew there was several high level leaks. Someone was manipulating the city and the PRT to an unknown end.
Given the nature of Taylor's power, and the fact that Shadow Stalker's attitude could easily be turned against the PRT they needed to be extraordinarily careful that she wasn't given any chance to flee.
None of the names on the list seemed unreasonable though. Armsmaster knew most of them were very loyal to the director personally, so he didn't have any objections.
Looking up from the tablet he saw both woman had paused to wait for him to catch up. Seeing they had his attention the director started things off, "Your thoughts on the plan to take Stalker into custody?"
Nodding his head, Armsmaster set his hands on the table before answering, "I've suggested a change of position for actually enacting things. There are too many chances for her to escape via the windows for me to be comfortable going forward inside the Ward quarters. The outer corridor allows a greater deal of containment and control. I have no issues with the personnel involved, none of them raised any flags I am aware of."
Visibly considering the amendment for a few moments, Piggot quickly agreed, "Fine, change the strike point. Do we have a pretext to call her into headquarters without notice and without causing any suspicions?"
This time it was Miss Militia who answered. "We need something that will cause her to lose focus on everything else, but not give her a possible reason to head out herself."
"Nothing involving any of the villains in the city then. Sophia is arrogant and aggressive enough to head directly there." Came the thoughtful comment from Armsmaster.
Suddenly tapping the table with one hand, Piggot gave voice to an idea, "We've been talking about possible cross training events with the Boston Wards. How about we make something up about sensitivity training due to the Case 53's on their team? She's likely to take that personally on several levels, it should get her angry enough for our purposes. And since it's a Saturday it makes a reasonable excuse for calling her in early."
Nodding her head, Miss Militia agreed with her superior, "That will work. Sophia will be offended at the implication that it's aimed at her directly, but also at the fact that she should be polite to anyone who doesn't directly threaten her."
Signalling his agreement Armsmaster picked up the tablet to send messages to the relevant teams to assemble. "Agreed, I will brief the PRT squads and keep them on standby. Militia, once you've sent the message you can relieve me. I and two of the troopers will then head inside the Wards quarters to wait for her."
Interjecting before either cape could start moving Piggot made a sharp comment, "After we finish this meeting. And moving on to the other subject for today, how did Miss Hebert's testing go, Armsmaster?"
Straightening up in what, for Armsmaster, was a very pleased manner, the man became almost enthusiastic, "Excellently, in point of fact. Taylor was able to create the devices she needs for her work in a very simple and straight forward manner. Both items have been taken for analysis, but they are efficient and also slightly modular. I'm not sure she realises but I suspect additional parts can be clipped on to them to increase the size of the creature she's working on. I will provide a full report when I've done my analysis."
Visibly preparing herself, the Director asked the question she feared the most, "And her creation?"
Exchanging a brief glance with Miss Militia, Armsmaster none-the-less carried on despite the unprecedented act of noticing someone's distress. "As discussed we had her create a faerie dragon, using myself as the intended partner. Both you and Menagerie have been programmed in as people he will listen to. As I'm sure you saw from the testing, he was a complete success. I've decided to call him Pax for the time being. I suspect PR will love him. He's friendly, cheerful and has an excellent level of communication for a being that cannot talk.
From my point of view, I am happy to carry on in partnership with him. He proved during the trials that he was capable of a very close working partnership and I believe he will be a powerful aid on the streets."
This time the director's query was still a little tense, but she'd relaxed somewhat during the explanation, "And what comes next?"
"I had a discussion with Taylor about that before I left her with Kid Win," the veteran tinker admitted, "She feels like her immediate desire to create new beings is dealt with. At the moment most of her ideas are items that can be of help to Pax himself. She's prepared to wait before creating anything else. I suggested it might be a good idea to have the PR teams involved as part of that process, revealing her to the public will need to be done carefully, so her next piece of work could be of less utility."
At that point Emily was able to completely relax, "We have the time to plan this properly and make decisions then? I have to admit it will be good to actually get ahead of something like this. Once Sophia is in custody I will contact Glenn Chambers. He's going to need to be involved in both cases anyway."
Making a new note on the pad beside her, Piggot was just about to close off the meeting so they could all get started before something occurred to her.
"When you said she was thinking about things to help your new partner, what kind of equipment did you mean? Did you get any examples?" Although she tried her best her tone still came out slightly suspicious. She'd had long experience with the kind of havoc Tinkers could cause when they started making things. Kid Win on his own was often a source of frustration, if he had help then anything could end up happening.
Cocking his head slightly, Armsmaster was clearly unsure where the follow up question came from or what her tone meant, but he replied anyway, "Initially she was going through designs for a collar for Pax. Dedicated tracking abilities due to his flight, as well as something to detect chemicals that might make him ill if he ate something outside. There was also a suggestion of some specialised equipment he can use to train, increase his wing muscles and keep himself fit enough for active duty. Taylor was intending to start designing today, but realised she would need to wait until both myself and Pax were available to actually start building."
Giving off a very faint sigh of relief, Piggot caught Miss Militia relaxing as well out of the corner of her eye. Clearly she hadn't been the only one worried about Tinker nonsense.
"Good enough, we can set our tactical consultants on to everything before she actually starts building. That will help make sure any opportunities or mistakes are caught before she has to rebuild everything. I'll get Renick to contact Glenn while we get our hands on our little problem child. Send the message once everything is ready."
Nodding at the director, both capes lead the way out of the room while Piggot shut down the computers. Once in the corridors neither one spoke as they moved to a briefing room within the building, calling the relevant squads to meet them there.
The duo only spoke again once they were in the briefing room and Armsmaster checked the equipment for any ways someone could spy on them with it. With their security checked, they settled in to wait for the squads being used for the operation to arrive. Each man or woman trickled in over the next 15 minutes, the two heroes nodding or greeting those they knew more personally.
When the last of their people entered, Armsmaster was quick to engage to locks and sound-proofing systems and started to address everyone, Miss Militia standing off to one side.
"Good afternoon everyone. You are here because all of you have been vetted and are trusted to the highest degree. For the purposes of this operation that trust does not extend to anyone outside this room. Please ensure no one breathes a word of what we are doing until after it is finished." Looking around Armsmaster noted that although there were a number of confused looks, none of them were disagreeing or looked to be trying to profit from the information.
Nodding sharply, he moved on to the actual explanation, "Excellent. Today's objective is the capture of Shadow Stalker. We now have complete and credible evidence that she had broken her parole and committed a number of crimes in her civilian life. Once we have her in custody further investigations will be undertaken, however today is about getting her into a cell. For this I will be taking Stevens and Chen. We will be waiting inside the Wards quarters.
Once Shadow Stalker logs in to open the door the rest of you will move from the rooms along the outer corridor to blockade her inside the entrance corridor, Miss Militia will be commanding. There are electrical systems covering every inch of that part of the building, so she can't escape except through us. Be prepared for her to lash out. Her profile makes repeated mention of issues with aggression, I doubt being confronted with her crimes and the punishment will stop that. Any questions?" During the explanation the schematic of the PRT headquarters and the Wards area in particular had been displayed. There were several rooms along the main corridor the Wards used to reach their own area. With the doors closed nothing would give away that each was packed with armed troopers rather than the usual technicians.
One of the team leaders raised his hand once the floor was open to questions, "Sir, can you confirm the intelligence has been checked? We aren't attacking on of our own without good reason I hope?"
Miss Militia took that one, recognising the man was just worried, not questioning Armsmaster. "I can confirm the intelligence is genuine, yes. We have video and written documents detailing numerous crimes in her civilian identity, up to assault, attempted murder and false imprisonment."
Looking at the pale or angry faces in the small crowd it was obvious she had got her point across and they were all invested in the capture now.
The next question was also the last, as one of the privates asked when they would be starting the operation.
"As soon as everyone is geared up and prepared we will be sending the message to get Shadow Stalker here. Go and get yourselves kitted up with a Taser loadout and report then head to your indicated rooms. Stevens, Chen, return here."
With nods all around the group moved out to get ready.
When the message popped up on her phone Sophia had, meeting all expectations, started swearing viciously. The PRT, Piggot and Armsmaster as well as the pathetic mentalities in general were all included copiously.
At the time of the message she had been sat in Emma's house, having just enjoyed a nice lunch prepared by Mrs Barnes. The two girls had been sat in Emma's room thinking up increasingly elaborate ways to tear down the Hebert cow.
The locker prank had been brilliant, but the pathetic waste of space was still around, and none of them had suffered one iota of punishment, so they both needed and could afford to escalate. It was just a matter of coming up with an idea and the timing.
They had switched to planning a short outing for the afternoon and a longer outing in the evening, taking Emma on her own patrol, when her Wards phone went off.
Already in a bad mood that her weekend was being interrupted, and given it was the Wards she wouldn't even be able to take her frustrations out on anyone, pansy ass losers that they were. But the content of the message had skyrocketed that anger. Sensitivity training? For Case 53's?
Why should Sophia care if some worthless mutant thing couldn't handle a little truth here and there? The disgusting waste of space should be thankful she didn't just remove them from the equation entirely.
This was just the kind of thing Beardmaster and Miss Piggy would dream up to annoy her as well. They had been trying to piss her off so she would violate her parole since the day she started. Just because Shadow Stalker did more to clean up the city than the entire PRT could manage. Sensitivity training, de-escalation, negotiation, PR talking and acting. All shoved down her throat by the idiots.
Unfortunately, her parole also meant that she couldn't just skip this shit. So sending back her position for a pick-up, Sophia had stormed out of the house and met the van that carried her to an absolute waste of an afternoon.
Sitting in one of the benches at the back Sophia spent the time ignoring the two PRT troopers and planning her next personal patrol. She'd picked up hints of a drug den from some of her recent work, having tracked and listened into a number of the Merchant cockroaches. Hopefully what she found at the den would be worth the fact she couldn't even rough up the morons she had been eavesdropping on.
Too many injuries linked to that den would have made the merchants move it. As the cockroaches of the Bay, hated by every other gang, they couldn't afford to go toe to toe with anyone. Any hint of trouble would cause them to change location.
Jumping out of the van in the PRT car-pool, Sophia flipped off the more annoying of her two chauffeurs. He hadn't shut up during the entire trip, so she was perfectly justified.
A quick check made sure that no one saw her though. The last thing she needed was to add more PR lessons and lectures on top of everything else.
Stomping along the corridors up to the Wards Quarters, she fiddled with the mask and cloak which were the only parts of her uniform she could don while in the van. She needed to get the rest of it from her rooms here before working out where she needed to go for the conference.
Ignoring the few people she passed along her way, she relished the way several of them jumped out of her way as she stormed along the corridor. Worms should just give her what she was due and get the fuck out of her way.
Consumed by her anger and lost in her own thoughts, Sophia had no idea anything was wrong. Combined with Armsmaster ensuring nothing was out of place and she had absolutely no warning about what was to come. The teen turned off the main corridor into the protected entrance to the Wards quarters. Going through the security checks Sophia had no clue anything was happening until the door slid open to reveal Armsmaster himself stood there, halberd drawn.
A clatter from behind her and a quick check over one shoulder showed that the way back into the main offices was blocked as well. Turning back to the bearded wonder, Sophia caustically spat, "What the hell is going on? I need to get through!"
The small pit forming in her guts went ignored as she waited for an answer. Still thinking it was some kind of drill or problem elsewhere, since she hadn't done anything much as far as they should know.
So when Armsmaster spoke it came as a complete shock, "Shadow Stalker. We have been provided evidence you have shattered your parole. You will be taken into custody while these charges are investigated. Put your hands up in front of you."
Gaping stupidly at the man, Sophia was completely unable to do anything. Not a single thought or action went through her head. She knew exactly how much this particular corridor blocked her power, and trying to get past a man in powered armour who nearly filled the doorway was a losing proposition.
So unable to process the change in circumstances Sophia didn't offer any resistance when the man stepped forward and quickly bound her arms together with an obviously tinkertech pair of handcuffs. The same kind used on her when she was first caught by the PRT.
As she was escorted to the cells in the building Sophia was still desperately trying to figure out what was going on, and where it all went wrong.
Left alone with Glory Girl, Panacea and Kid Win, Taylor was feeling a little out of sorts. On the plus side, Armsmaster had directed Pax to guard and keep watch over her. So she had the little faerie dragon sat on a bench next to her, watching everything and occasionally getting scratches from either Taylor or Amy, who was on his other side.
However, now that she had finished discussing possible accessories for the little dragon with Kid Win, things had become a little awkward. Not the best at social interactions, and from what she could tell Panacea being the same, it left Glory Girl and Kid Win to carry the conversation.
They'd been left in the testing room for the time being, the researchers retreating to their own labs to analyse the results of her testing. The quartet was aware a couple of PRT troopers were sat in the observation room, but none of the microphones were on. The duo were there to guard against anyone getting into the testing room and to direct the teenagers if they decided to leave.
Their instructions were to stay inside the room until the problem Armsmaster went to deal with had been solved. None of the other teenagers were aware that problem was Shadow Stalker for the moment, just that the Wards quarters were out of bounds until further notice. Personally, Taylor wasn't particularly enthusiastic about explaining the exact details.
Fortunately, explaining what she could do was a perfect distraction. Kid Win, bless him, had asked the question almost as soon as the door closed behind Armsmaster. "So is that what you can do, create more beings like Pax then?"
Shaking her head, Taylor swiftly replied, "No, my main focus seems to be on mythological and common fantasy creatures. Including modern reinventions of both. Pax is just one of the designs I've come up with."
Moving back to where her bag had been dropped off for her, Taylor removed the her copy of the folder with her most up-to-date and complete designs before returning to the table the four teens were sat around, "Here, some of the other designs I worked out before I came in."
Looking startled, Kid Win started at Taylor for several seconds after the folder was dropped down, allowing Glory Girl and Panacea to nab it first. He cleared up his apparent shock first though, "You mean Pax was your first creation? You didn't make anything to bring in with you? I know I couldn't stop myself from making stuff, and I was picked up by the PRT pretty quickly."
Smiling a little shakily, Taylor noticed that both of the New Wave capes had paused before opening the design folder but replied anyway, "I'm a bio-tinker. Other than human masters there aren't any much more reviled types of capes. I didn't dare create anything just in case it earned me a kill order."
All three teenagers gaped slightly at that, but it was Glory Girl who replied quickest, "They wouldn't do that just because of a first creation! You'd have to do something bad with it, or it did something wrong first!"
Shrugging her shoulders, Taylor explained where she was coming from, "I've never been much of a cape geek, but a bit of browsing showed that Blasto and Nilbog are the only bio-tinkers alive and active that are known in the US. And there are a lot of rumours that Blasto has a pre-signed kill order if he makes anything capable of self-replicating, or if his creations aren't trash. Combined with what happened with Nilbog and I thought it was a reasonable conclusion. I can create species which can get pregnant and give birth, so the wrong creation being released could end up with the desolation of an entire eco-system."
Nodding slowly, Panacea agreed with part of Taylor's statement, "That's a good point. There are stories from across the world of a non-native species being brought into a country and causing all kinds of problems. It was an issue long before capes came along as well. If a cape caused that? I can see a lot of upset people campaigning for a solution. However the PRT can manage it."
Gesturing helplessly at Panacea, Taylor quickly explained a bit more, "I figured I was probably being overly-cautious, but there were enough issues just from my perspective that I figured I couldn't let myself go and make anything until I had the backing of the PRT."
Finally seeming to get it, Kid Win and Glory Girl both gave similar noises of enlightenment. Glory Girl gestured to the folder as a follow up, "So all you've been doing is designing gear then?"
Shaking one hand side to side Taylor replied, "Not equipment so much, the two pieces of kit in the first room were the only direct pieces of gear I designed before today. They're both universally applicable, so I didn't need more than that. I didn't really think about how things would work once my creations were in the field, so I didn't look more into that side of things. No, most of what I designed were various beings I could create."
Suddenly looking interested, Panacea grabbed the folder and twisted it so it was directly in front of her, lifting the cover as she spoke, "That's right, you said you could do more than Pax. What is he by the way?"
Patting the preening little dragon on the head, Taylor replied, "He's a faerie dragon. The design notes are on page 12."
Apparently Panacea wasn't interested directly in the notes though, since she had paused and was reading through the first design on page 3 without any sign of hurry. The first two pages (ignoring the contents and covering page) were the designs for the two devices she needed to create her beings.
Seeing Kid Win trying to twist his head to read the page upside down from where he was sat on the other side of the table, Taylor started explaining things to him. Glory Girl had merely leaned over towards her sister to read.
"That's the page for the Nemean Lion from Greek mythology." Gesturing to the folder. "Most of the folder is organised based on when I created the design, but I moved two designs to the front to demonstrate what I could do. The Nemean Lion is a singular creature, so he will never be able to reproduce, unlike Pax here. Since he's part of a race I could create some companions for him and they could reproduce like normal."
There was a noise of acknowledgement from the two girls, but Kid Win was blushing too much with talk of procreation being bandied about to add much to the conversation.
Given Taylor's own awkward nature by this point it was perhaps understandable that conversation mostly died. Panacea and Glory Girl had moved on to the Griffin's, but they were still hogging the folder so that Kid Win couldn't see.
Then the moment came that Taylor had been dreading. Punctuated by growing grins from the two girls as they saw the design drawings at the top of the next page. They'd found her first ever design, the one she couldn't bring herself to throw out even despite the embarrassment of a teenage girl a) watching that young a show, and b) the creature being a very tween thing.
They'd come across the unicorn.
Not pausing to read the ingredients or the notes she'd made on the creature they both looked up to stare at her.
It took less than a minute before she started squirming under the duo of grins. Obviously the show of weakness was like blood in the water to sharks, because the grins got even wider. At this point Kid Win was starting to smile as well, although given he still hadn't seen the folder it could just be because of the actions of the New Wave duo.
Seconds later Taylor broke, "I was just flipping through TV channels while I was on the last of the drugs out of the hospital, alright! I only just managed to stop myself from trying to make them."
Glory Girl was the first to break the silence after the emotional cry, "You. Can make Unicorns. Unicorns?!"
Shooting up from her seat, the blonde ended up hovering above the table as she did an odd little victory dance ending with a mid-air pose, one fist raised to the sky the other held to her side.
Dropping back down she started talking a mile a minute, "That is so cool! I always wanted a unicorn when I was a little girl. Do you know how long they will take to make? How big are they? Are the PRT going to let you make them?! Please, please, please tell me we're going to have unicorns in the future!"
By the time she'd finished talking her voice had ended in a little squeal, and she'd leaned so far forward over the table to be able to grab Taylor's hands that she must have been using her flight to stop herself from falling. Her face was set in an expression of utmost hope and glee as she stared at Taylor and waited for an answer.
For her part Taylor was so overcome with the bombardment of questions, the disbelieving "unicorns" muttered by Kid Win and the fact that someone was touching her in a non-violent or derogatory manner that she couldn't find her voice to answer.
Fortunately, Panacea unknowingly came to her rescue, poking her sister in the ribs and chastising her, "Vicky! Calm down and let her answer. And tone your aura down for God's sake!"
Looking sheepish the blonde quickly sat back in her seat while turning to pout at Panacea, "But Amy! Unicorns! Enquiring minds want to know!"
As the feeling of awe faded, Taylor took a moment to centre herself again. The shock and inability to speak had obviously been partially caused by Glory Girls aura, but not totally, she had to admit. Still, with a moment to collect herself she was able to answer the question.
"To make the initial being, now that I have the equipment, will take about…" pausing, she considered the details of that design and the additional complexities, "roughly a day to two days, depending on the timing. There are points where the initial substances need to be manipulated which takes longer, then once the egg has been created it needs longer to mature than Pax did. Mostly because of the size. Adult unicorns have a silver fur, and range from about five feet tall to five and a half."
Scratching the back of head for a moment, Taylor thought about her initial interview before she carried on, "Miss Militia mentioned the unicorn, and it would be a good idea from a PR point of view. I did mention the idea of a petting zoo kind of set-up, a tourist attraction for mythological creatures, but I guess that will end up being decided on by the PR teams?"
Although she started mostly confident, in the end her tone dropped to a question aimed at Kid Win, figuring he would know most about the workings of the PRT
Looking startled for a few moments as all three girls focused on him, Kid Win rallied fairly quickly to consider the question, "Like you said, it will come down to a PR decision I think. I do know we get a lot of talks about the public's perception of capes and how to avoid problems from that. I'd guess they might like the idea based on that. Then again, Bio-tinker's aren't widely regarded in a good way."
Gesturing at the normal tinker helplessly, Taylor signalled her agreement. "That was my thinking. PR are probably going to be doing a lot of work just to get me accepted as existing outside the of the bird cage. Unicorns though are very much creatures of good and kind natures, so I guess PR might make use of their perception and what they are to help with that."
Shrugging casually, Taylor finally admitted, "Either that or the fairies."
That got the attention of the two girls again, although this time it was Panacea that spoke up, "Wait, fairies? Really? Are you talking Disney fairies, or the actual Fae? Because the one rule when dealing with the Fae is not to."
Grimacing slightly at the memory of some of the old stories when it came to actual Fae, Taylor replied, "Both, actually. I kept the details for some real Fae, but there are a lot of warnings there. Even with an inbuilt handler I don't think I want any real Fae in the world. Even in the stories most of the damage they caused was done without telling a lie or breaking their word. I suspect that kind of double-speak and rules lawyering would extend to any orders given just as well. I didn't think it would be a good idea to hide anything though, so the designs are there."
Signalling she wanted the folder quickly, Taylor turned it towards herself after Amy slide it across. Reading the page she was thinking of, Taylor slide and turned it back so that the Disney fairy was shown. "That's a Disney kind of fairy. It's a design I have just as many reservations about as the old style Fae."
Tilting his head slightly, Kid Win couldn't help but ask, "How come? I mean, from the sounds of things the Fae are bad news, but Disney fairy's seem like a good choice just from a PR point of view."
"Oh sure, from a purely tactical point of view they're a good idea. Small, harmless unless provoked, lots of kids would love them and they can even provide flight powers. The trouble is it would be creating a living, breathing and talking being. A Disney fairy is just a small individual. It smacks of playing god too much for me to find an easy acceptance. I mean, Pax here is far smarter than I thought I could make, and I've been wondering about the ethics of making more like him since he work up."
During her mini-rant Pax had apparently decided she was getting too worked up, as the little guy climbed into her lap practically forcing her to cradle his form and scratch his head. It worked to an extent, as she couldn't get as worked up as she thought she would, but even that lack of reaction had poor connotations.
Reaching over to pat her arm, Kid Win tried to offer some comfort, "Don't worry, before you know it the PR team will be all over everything. They'll have to consider all those kinds of things and the ethics of the situation. Plus the Youth Guard will be behind you to make sure things don't stress you out. You should talk about it with your counsellor as well. One benefit of the Wards program is that we all see one regularly." Sighing quietly he added in a smaller voice, "It can be useful if you let it."
Snorting derisively Glory Girl couldn't help but add, "Somehow I can't see Shadow Stalker using that benefit much." Not seeing the way Taylor flinched slightly she turned towards her to make her point, "You should be careful around her, by the way. She's something of a bitch at the best of times."
Although she desperately wanted to make a comment at that point, Taylor remembered that the circumstances were being kept quiet to ensure they captured Sophia, so Taylor kept any agreement inside her head. She couldn't, however, stop herself from trying to get more information on the girl that had practically destroyed her life.
"I take it she's difficult to work with?" Aiming the query at all three more experienced capes.
Huffing slightly, Kid Win was the first to reply, "She called me a cut-rate tinker who should stick to playing with Lego. And no, Vicky, she doesn't use the counselling at all. As far as she's concerned she's perfect in every way and it's the rest of us that have something wrong with us." Hoping to avoid scaring another Tinker away he quickly tacked on for Taylor's benefit, "She doesn't really interact with us outside of official duties, so you won't see much of her if you aren't on patrol with her."
Panacea's comment changed the mood quickly though, "I've had to patch her up numerous times after she got hurt taking on normal gang members when she runs off from her patrol partner because of some gut instinct for trouble. Most of the time she flubs out, but even when she catches someone she still screws up more often than not. The rest of the Wards have faced off against nearly every villain in this city without a scratch, but Stalker still thinks she's the greatest cape to ever cape. Idiot"
The biting and sarcastic commentary from a world renowned healer was too much, all three of her companions descended into laughter. It got worse as she carried on a narrating incidents. Including one where Stalker was berating Clockblocker and Vista. Stalker having been injured by a knife wielding E88 ganger forcing the two veterans had to protect her and drive off Hookwolf and Stormtiger, but the girl still thought both of them were joke heroes.
With the tension broken the group carried on, the three teens with experience telling funny stories of their time, or talking about particular creatures in the folder as it was passed around aimlessly. Each one eventually coming up with possible favourites, both for Taylor being able to go on patrol, or for fictional recreation parks.
Smiling happily Taylor had to admit this wasn't anything like as bad as she thought. It was almost like having friends again.
Storming into the director's office after her secretary had waved him on, Glenn Chambers was not in a good mood. Having been called at short notice to one of the most problematic divisions in the entire PRT. He'd needed to use Strider's services just to get here. This entire place was a cesspit as far as he was concerned. If it wasn't people thinking they were jokers, it was Edgelord McEmo teens who, quite frankly, needed a smack across the face.
With that in mind he was doing his best to expect the worst as he entered the office. Maybe Assault had gone too far in his constant flirting with his wife and been caught on camera. Maybe Armsmaster had another one of his social flops again. Glenn would be ready to salvage the situation and come up with something to help the ridiculous division. Although he would likely be ignored for anything beyond the immediate situation. Piggot didn't always play ball with the PR team either.
Inside the room he found Director Piggot as expected, but also her deputy director, Paul Renick. As well as Armsmaster and Miss Militia.
Checking what he could see of their expressions he looked for signs of guilt, but the best he could see were stress and anger. That hopefully ruled out an issue with Armsmaster.
Gesturing to a chair, Emily wordlessly asked Glenn to take a seat.
Psyching himself up, Glenn took the chair between Miss Militia and Armsmaster on one side, and Renick on the other. Raising an eyebrow at Emily he waited to hear what was happening.
Grimacing slightly as she shifted, Emily started speaking, "To bring you up to speed. This morning we had a new cape walk into the office and request to join the Wards. With her, this new cape had complete and video evidence that she was essentially tortured into triggering by Shadow Stalker in her civilian identity. Which also revealed her power in the process."
Closing his eyes with a groan, Glenn figured he should have realised it would be her when Armsmaster was present. Thinking quickly, Glenn decided to verify things first of all, "I'm assuming if you've called me here that you've verified things?"
Gesturing at the Protectorate leader, Piggot signalled for him to speak up, "We were just discussing that when you arrived."
Shifting in his reinforced seat carefully, Armsmaster expanded on the details, "The new cape brought with her a large body of evidence, the vast majority of which we have been able to verify from records taken from Shadow Stalkers communications and from digital records in the school. We have also found that Shadow Stalker was implicated in at least two serious crimes against the new cape, but investigations by BBPD were shut down by her handler. One was the trigger event, the other was the destruction of an heirloom instrument."
Visibly steeling himself, Armsmaster added another bombshell on top of the information already provided, "After reviewing Shadow Stalkers communications we are also certain that she has committed at least three more murders since become a Ward, has taken an untrained civilian on unauthorised patrols, and attacked a minor villain with broadhead crossbow bolts she kept in various stashes around the city. We have a team collecting those stashes as we speak."
Swearing quietly to himself for a few seconds, Glenn ignored the rest of the room with both hands covering his face before he spoke again, "And does anyone outside this division know about the murders?"
"Not for certain. There may be a few individuals in the BBPD who have suspicions of her involvement, but we won't know for sure without confirming them. Wounds caused by crossbow bolts are quite distinctive. Shadow Stalker's even more so, but from the records we pulled from her conversations she did make an attempt to conceal the evidence." Armsmaster explained, before finishing dryly, "How successful she was at that is up for debate. She felt herself far more intelligent than she had any right to."
Swearing again, Glenn eventually lowered his hands and looked back at the director, "Alright, we'll have to manage that. You'll get to say 'I told you so' to the chief director. We'll need to get her out of her and into confinement somewhere else in the country as soon as possible. Probably get her a quiet hearing to decide on an official punishment. We need to keep this as quiet as possible or the backlash will be a fucking pain. Especially with nature of your gangs."
Before Glenn could work himself up to a full on rant, Piggot raised a hand to cut him off, "We have Shadow Stalker in custody already. There's more you need to know first."
She didn't get any further than that though as Glenn yelped an interruption, "There's more?!"
Nodding, Piggot moved on as quickly as she could, signalling Armsmaster to prepare the screen off to one side as they had discussed earlier. "Fortunately, the cape she triggered, despite knowing Sophia is Shadow Stalker came to us, but that also presents its own problems. The girl in question triggered as a bio-tinker."
As expected, Glenn's eyes immediately shot open in shock and more than a little fear. "You mean I have to sell a bio-tinker to the public?"
Waving Armsmaster on, Emily pointed at the screen as she spoke, "It isn't quite as bad as you're probably thinking, but essentially? Yes."
On the screen a video started playing showing Pax, more specifically his training and how he listened to Armsmaster. Once that was done the view changed to digital scans taken of Taylor's design notes, mostly focused on the drawings of what the creatures would look like.
"Our new cape, currently named Menagerie, is able to design and create creatures from mythology and fantasy settings. When she came in she was terrified she would be disappeared, and to avoid that she didn't make anything before coming in. The creature you just saw is a faerie dragon we have named Pax and is currently partnered with Armsmaster. Menagerie has accepted that due to her label we need to be careful about her introduction, so she's willing to take direction from us." Piggot explained.
At that point, Renick chimed in with a quick comment, "What was it you said a few years ago? Give me a cape that's rainbows and unicorns? Seems like that might have come back to bite you on the ass."
Currently gaping, Glenn didn't pay any attention to the smattering of laughter this produced (except from Armsmaster of course), he was too busy staring at what combined his greatest dream and also represented his largest amount of work ever.
"She can make unicorns? And all sorts of cute, cuddly animals any young person would love to find? What's the downside?" He immediately demanded.
That there was a downside was obvious in his opinion. You didn't work alongside capes as much as he did without realising there was always a negative. Not just to powers but to the capes themselves and the situations they got into.
Even Legend, one of the most infamously good of the good guys had issues. Mostly around the fact he could lose perspective when he found a cause to crusade. They had actually been really fortunate that he was gay and their rights were being infringed, but also that the stage had already been set for him somewhat by the strength and sacrifice of others. It was, admittedly, easy to spin into good PR. But the man could be very intractable and aggressive when there was a breach of those rights.
His powers also retarded his aging. Which was a good thing for keeping him at the top of his game, but it had caused problems with his husband at times.
So now he was waiting to hear just what issues this Menagerie would bring to the table that needed working around.
Miss Militia was the one to explain what downsides she was aware of, "Well, first of all Menagerie isn't limited to cute, cuddly and photogenic. There were designs for the Fae of various myths, as in murderous and dangerous, dragons, medusa and hydra's to name a few. She can also create creatures from Norse and Asian mythologies which may cause a problem here in the bay. Then there's the ethical problems with some of the designs, such as living, breathing, thinking humanoids being created by a teenager. Finally, she was terrified when she came in and believed she was walking to her possible death. The circumstances of her trigger though will mean issues with authority and she's possibly suicidal in her desire to be a hero."
Slumping back slightly, Glenn considered those points for a few seconds before speaking, "Fuck. I'm assuming we're talking about the original Grimm tales level nastiness in some of these creatures?"
He got a nod back from everyone in the room, although Armsmaster added on, "I had the chance to do a more in depth review of her designs while she was working earlier. She's done a remarkable job of detailing the results of her work. Likely personalities, powers and issues are listed in great detail. She has added notes to those sections about why some of her designed beings should never be created. She has, however, left the decisions and knowledge with us, likely due to fear of persecution if anything was hidden."
Nodding his head in thought. Glen considered the position carefully. "We'll need to do a lot of work before authorising more creations. Focus groups, blind surveys, hidden questions and all those tricks to gauge public perception. The most important thing we'll need to do is get a permanent therapist and public speaking coach attached to the girl. She's going to be under the microscope in some ways, and she'll need to know how to react and reply to unpleasant questions."
Sliding a book out of her desk Piggot quickly started making notes as the discussion got going. Shortly afterward the group were discussing ideas and refining plans for an announcement to the public.
Armsmaster added the most relevant point partway through though, "We need to consider her nature as a tinker in the plans as well. She's shown extraordinarily strong willpower so far, but now that she's made one creature she is going to need to make more in due course. We need to prepare for and direct that if we can."
Pausing in their deliberations, Glenn nodded and added "Good point. Where is she now, anyway?"
His reply came from Miss Militia, "Menagerie is currently in the Wards base meeting the rest of the team. We kept her in the testing rooms until it was confirmed that Shadow Stalker was in custody and firmly locked in a cell. We've contact her father and are waiting on his arrival to finalise the joining process, but Menagerie is determined to join us."
"That's the only bit of good news in this." Glenn retorted quickly, "I would also suggest that they retain a lawyer. We're going to need to do some bespoke work on her contract because of the Bio-tinker aspect, and the fact that she can do a lot outside normal duties."
Leaning forward to write a few notes there were several seconds of silence before Glenn spoke again, "How certain are you that Shadow Stalker won't get away from us?"
Checking with Miss Militia, Armsmaster replied, "Minimal. The cell itself is able to shut down her abilities and she is not capable enough to effect self-release. Everything about that cell has also been closed off so only those of us in the room can make any changes to the system. Historically all prisoner escapes have been done during transit, so we don't have cause to worry until we get to that point."
Nodding his head, Glenn went back to writing while Director Piggot tried to get them focused again.
"Let's start with what we need to discuss with Menagerie's father and go from there. Do you want to sit in on that meeting, Glenn?"
Looking up in surprise, Glenn thought about the situation before deciding. "As long as there aren't too many of us in there, I can meet them later if needed but we don't want them to feel ganged up on. It would be useful to be part of that meeting though."
Inclining her head slightly, the Director replied, "Agreed. You, me and Armsmaster should be sufficient. Paul, Miss Militia, if you would both work to carry on getting the case against Shadow Stalker completed? We can meet up this evening to see what our next steps will be."
Checking that both Renick and Miss Militia were happy with their assignment, the group carried on working as they waited for Danny Hebert to arrive.
By the time the call came through they were confident they had a good enough idea of how to sell a bio-tinker to the public that they could discuss things with Menagerie's father rationally.
But first he had to find out his daughter was a parahuman.
I've had what I hope is a great idea for the next creature to appear, hopefully everyone likes it. Feel free to drop suggestions or requests though!