Worm Who?

Worm Who? 1.0

Taylor found the pocket watch in the bottom of the jewelry box. And that meant it had been her mother's, even though it was a men's piece. "Hey dad? Why did mom have this watch?" Maybe it was something from her grandfather, which her mother had barely ever mentioned.

"Not sure," Danny said as he looked over from where he was taking down the curtains for some late spring cleaning (actually during summer break, but you did what you had to when you could). "Would you like it? As something to remember her? Maybe you can find out something more about it?"

"I'd love that, dad," the fifteen year old teen said.

"She really liked that pocket watch and the large clock in the corner behind the couch. She called it the most precise time piece in the universe." Danny frowned even as he wiped his pale, freckled brow. "Huh. I can't remember the last time that was wound. You should take care of that, too, okay?"

"Sure, dad." This wasn't exactly fun, but it was better than dealing with school and the terrible trio. She was so glad she was out of school for the summer. Taylor spun the watch, noting the strange circular markings. It didn't look like artwork, as it was oddly geometrical. She tried to pry it open, hoping to find if it was inscribed with a name, but it seemed sealed or welded shut. She put it back on the table, going through some more rings and bracelets.

But it was down at the bottom of the jewelry box she found what looked to be an odd key. She would have ignored it, but it had the exact same geometric circles that the pocketwatch had.

"Weird." She gave it a shrug, then set it on the pocket watch.

Five minutes later (and six rings, two bracelets) she was pulled out of playing with the semi precious items by her father.

"Taylor, did you wind that clock already?" he called out as he looked up from his wristwatch.

"Not yet. I'll go do it now." Taylor then grabbed the pocketwatch and pocketed the two items.

In the front room, she nodded as she shoved the couch out of the way slightly. She pulled on the handle, but it wouldn't budge the very large, standing clock. She leaned over to look at the lock.

And then blinked as this clock had those glyphs, too.

"That's... weird. Oh, I bet the key opens the lock." She pulled out the flat key, inserted it and then unlocked the door. It pulled open easily then. She frowned, as she did not see the pendulum inside. She stuck her head in to get a better look.

Then she pulled her head out.

"An illusion?" She looked at the clock strangely. Then stuck her head back in.

No, she could still see a large room made of burnished brass with some weird table in the center of the room. She reached in...

...and then tumbled to the ground as somehow the doorway she was in was now wider than it had been outside.

"This is crazy. It's bigger on the inside than the outside. Was mom some sort of Tinker?" she asked as she scrambled up to her feet.

The lights in the room brightened ever so slightly. Her eyebrows furrowed in thought, as she realized that there was no dust.

"Hello?" she called out. She waited, but the only response she saw was some flickering lights from the crystal pillar in the center of the six-sided console(?) in the center of the room.

The console had just the most simple controls drawn or painted on with ink in that strange language again. It was tantalizing like she should be able to read it, but it was so alien that Taylor had no idea even where it was from.

"Hello?" She placed her hands on the console to lean around to look behind it when glowing holograms floated off the painted on surfaces. Her hands pulled back like they had been burned. "Um, English, please?"

Like a wave of air flowing past her, most of the floating holograms switched to English.

Taylor whistled at that. "This is something made by a Tinker. Was mom one of them? A cape?" She pulled out the pocket watch again from her pocket.

It clicked open without the least hint of resistance when she tried to open it.

And then a stream of gold, glowing particle smash into her open-mouthed face from the open time piece.

Taylor blinked her eyes open exactly ten minutes later. Ow. "What was that?"

She sat up, her body definitely telling her that the floor here was hard and cold. She looked around, even as she clambered to her feet while using the control console as a hand hold to pull herself the rest of the way up. After that she picked up the pocket watch.

Darn. Still no engravings from her mother's side of the family. It looked perfectly normal for some tinker device that had blasted her with-,

(),../;';()l^l%l%'%l$,/,' (&(&#.,.^^!%$~$%^~!%^-

-pure chronal regeneration energy.

She blinked at that. How did she know that? Had that glowing dust given her some sort of information into her brain? That was sort of scary. She tried to focus her eyes on the console in front of her. After a minute, she removed her glasses to rub her eyes, only to blink as she realized her eyesight was crystal clear without them.

"Whoa." She double-checked, but she had perfect eyesight without them. After that though, she looked at the controls. "Materialization status? Chameleon Circuit status? Temporal coordinates relative to the local galaxy. Local galaxy?"

She started to look at the console much closer. She carefully poked at the different control. Sensors, noting a major chronal anomaly under the ship's graveyard and a note that there was a new, moving anomaly that had started appearing a few months ago. Well, appeared in random locations but locked to the spatial location of Earth's surface. Interesting.

She lost herself for the next half an hour, trying to understand the controls. There were a lot of 'inoperative' options or 'under repair'. Had her mother not finished making it? Or had she broken it?

Taylor itched to explore it further, going to the opposite door. It had barely opened when she found herself staring into a ragged four foot wide hole into some sort of cave across the hallway. She then looked out carefully through it, see what appeared to be some sort of city-scape curving out below her like a bowl. Then she realized it curved upwards probably just as far.

Suddenly, all of those nonfunctional controls made much, much more sense.

That wasn't a city out there, but part of some huge thing. Something she was inside of.

"Where the hell am I?" she asked herself rhetorically. She turned left and started to check doors on the long, curving hallway.

The third door on the left was a large bedroom with books and wardrobes strewn about.

"Taylor! Where are you?" Danny called out a couple of hours later. He walked into the front room, taking in the slightly worn, comfortable couches and silver and black carpet with geometric patterns. It looked like Taylor had tried to open the clock, but it was closed right now.

He checked her room and then the 'normal' places. Not her bedroom, the bathroom or the kitchen. Finally he even checked the basement, but found her nowhere in the house.

"Where did she go?" he asked.

He then walked outside, checking the yard. Danny was starting to get worried, so headed back in. He looked over at the phone on the table near the kitchen. He really only knew one place to call. He tapped out a number long memorized, that he used to call almost daily.

"Hello, Alan? Is Taylor there?" Danny asked.

Alan's voice sounded slightly confused. "No, I haven't seen her in months. Emma's over to her friend Madison's place. She and Sophia headed over there this morning."

"Oh, sorry to hear that. I guess they've had a falling out then." Danny suddenly had an epiphany that he really didn't know what had been going on with his daughter for the last year. She had grown quiet and morose, never seeming to go out any more. Or it was always to the library or maybe shopping. But never with anyone.

"We should get together and do a barbecue or something again. Maybe for the 4th of July? Get a few of the other guys and their kids and have get drunk," Alan said in a cheerful voice.

The clock behind the couch opened up and Taylor stepped out, coughing a little bit of gold sparkling dust out. She had some folded clothing in her hands with a fedora hat on top. She sneaked up the stairs, putting it on her bed. She then tromped down the stairs.

"Oh, there she is. I'll give you a call after talking to some of the guys. See you," Danny said, then hung up. "Taylor! Where were you?" It was not quite a bellow.

"Oh, sorry. I was around. I found some of mom's stuff. I think she might have left a journal. Maybe from her family." Taylor held up a book with two geometric circle patterns on the cover.

"Your mother loved that type of artwork. Sounds like fun. Hey, I talked to Alan and we're going to have a barbecue at his place." Danny's face then turned more serious. "Taylor, did you and Emma have a fight?"

His daughter's face turned absolutely pale. "No."

"But you aren't friends anymore? What happened?" he stated firmly.

"Sophia happened. Her new best friend. And..." He was asking her directly, forcing the issue. "She's really mean now. They've even picking on me and anyone I try to hang out with. So I don't really have any friends at school." She hung her head, hating how she felt. Weird. That almost felt like a bandage being ripped off.

"Well, then what you need to do is get some friends out of school before you go back." Danny suddenly cracked a smile. "I'm sure it would break your heart to be forced to go down to the boardwalk several times a week."

"Really? But they're going to want me to buy something or the security guys will rough me up like they do the runaways," Taylor noted while biting her lower lip.

"There's a couple of bookstores there. You can browse, picking up a new book and then wander a couple of stores while meeting kids. I'll give you an extra twenty or thirty dollars, but only spend it if they hassle you, okay?" At her nod, he smiled back to his daughter. "We'll figure it out. It's what family does."

"Thanks, dad." Taylor actually smiled again.

That was how Taylor found herself at a local bookstore that next day in the late morning. Chores were to be done early and then she could go out and hopefully meet up people in the stores. Like that was at all plausible. The only girl in the store other than the clerk and cashier was a girl with long blue stripes. She was nursing a cup of coffee next to the coffee bar.

Maybe she should look at understanding time and physics better? That clock really does something with time and space. It was bigger on the inside than the outside, after all! She pulled out a primer for physics, opened it up.

Five minutes later she was about to throw it through the window. "Useless junk. So much is just wrong."

Taylor didn't see the girl reading the newspaper looking at her in surprise for that, even as she picked up a larger book. It went back on the shelf a minute later. The next book was three inches thick, with small text and complicated diagrams. Stephen Hawking was supposed to be the authority in physics, right?

Ten minutes later, her hand was itching for a red pen to start correcting the book.

"Problem?" the blonde girl with blue-tips and streaks asked from right behind her.

"Oh, um, just seeing something that doesn't look right," she muttered distractedly.

"Oh really?" The freckled girl's face had a very wide grin. "What did he get wrong?"

"Really, everything but the basics," Taylor groused as she flipped pages.

The girl with blue streaks was giving her an odd look. "So you go to Arcadia High?"

"No." The taller girl blinked. "Huh. I haven't ever studied physics. How do I know this stuff?"

"Congratulations, you are a parahuman," the other girl said in a hushed voice. "So you just triggered?"

"Triggered-?" Taylor was suddenly studying the girl in front of her. "You have super powers too, don't you?"

"Oh, not at all. I was just interested in you getting frustrated in reading those books," the girl lied smoothly.

Taylor stared at her in suspicion. "You're lying. Why do I know that you are lying?"

"Shit. Some sort of empathy? Look, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to make a problem," the blonde said worried. She actually took a step backwards with her hands up to placate

"Um, I am? And what do you mean triggered? And you aren't being a problem. I think." Taylor stared at the other girl worriedly.

"You know, where your powers kicked in? It always happens when you are at your lowest, lost in despair or fear. And you have no idea what I'm talking about." Now her blue eyes were open wide in surprise. "What the hell?"

"Um, I ran into something weird?" Taylor said. This was starting to be really strange.

"Something? A tinker device." The blonde wavered on her feet. "Fuck. Need to stop."

"Let me help you," the taller girl said, helping her walk over to a table to sit back down at her cup of coffee. "Headache? Let me get some aspirin-"

"Tylenol, please," the girl begged. "Four of them. This is going to be a bad one." She swallowed her coffee and just rocked in her seat.

Finally, after what seemed a too long time, four pills were pushed into her hand.

"Here you go. I even got you another cup of coffee. Do we need to get you home so you can lay down?" Taylor looked down worriedly.

"Can't go to the shelter until five o'clock," she muttered. She dry swallowed the pills and started to drink the coffee as fast as possible.

"Well, you can use our couch for a while. Are you okay taking the bus?"

"I don't even know your name." Blue eyes were staring at her blearily.

"I'm Taylor!" She even tried to smile.

"Hello, Taylor. My name's Lisa," the runaway admitted. "Um, could you make sure not to tell anyone about my powers?"

She lied there, too, Taylor noted as she agreed with a nod. But better to not bring that up right now. Oh, and she needed to buy that physics book. Which would blow her entire wad that her dad had given her.

But she just might have stumbled onto a new friend.

Lisa was feeling better an hour later as she blocked out the light with a pillow on the Hebert's couch. No using her power for at least a week. Which was a problem, but she would cope.

"I made some sandwiches," Taylor said as she came back into the family room. She set the plate with some peanut butter sandwiches down on the coffee table.

"Manna from heaven," Lisa said with wan smile.

"So your super power-"

"-just 'power'. Calling everything super is silly."

Taylor nodded at that. "So your power can give you headaches? That sucks."

"Says the girl that didn't just have a near migraine," Lisa grumbled back, then took a bite of her sandwich.

"Some sort deductive power, allowing you to figure out things. Hey, stay right there." The host stood up and disappeared into the room by the front door.

Lisa wondered why she went there, but at the twinge of her power trying to reassert itself, she ignored that. Five minutes later, Taylor reappeared with a six inch wide tube that she removed the cap.

"I think this is a medical kit. At least that's what it says on it." Taylor shifted her long, curly hair over her shoulder.

The runaway blinked, as she didn't see any normal writing on the thing at all. Just tiny circle pictographs around the open top. "Funky."

A silver rod came out and Taylor pointed it at her. A green light shown from the end and it made a hum. "Oh, a {Sonic Health Sensor}. Neat. Umm, the hum tells me something. Or, some weird organ in the middle of your brain is causing the pain by slightly expanding the blood vessels as it enters your brain and irritating your neural connections chemically. No idea why though." She rummaged around in the tube again, pulling out another simple rod with red ends.

Taylor then pushed the end against Lisa's temple for a second.

"Ow! Are you trying to make my headache... worse?" Lisa blinked in surprise. "Fucking no way. You cured my migraine just like that? Wow. Fucking wow."

"I'll have to keep that handy. It looks like it can fix most basic issues." That was rather more neat than she had expected, Taylor thought to herself.

"So you made that? That's high grade tinker gear," the blonde noted in an impressed tone.

"Not me. I just found it. I think it was my mother's," Taylor admitted.

"You mother is a Tinker?" Lisa raised an eyebrow in question at that as she took a few big bites of her PB&J sandwich.

"She died in a car crash. But I don't think she was a Tinker. I'm still trying to figure this all out. It's weird, okay?" Taylor was almost glaring at her.

"No problem. If you need any help with figuring things out, I'd be happy to help next week. I really overstrained my power, sorry." Lisa gave her a smile and nod of her head.

The front door creaked open and thumped against the wall. "Taylor?" Danny called out.

"Dad! Where did you go?" She bounced to her feet to stick her head into the hall.

"Just over to Perry's Market to pick up a couple of things. And some beer when I go over to Alan's for that party." Danny chuckled at her confusion. "I'm not going to make you go over to Emma's place if she's picking on you. Maybe I can figure out what's going on."

"Oh, okay. I thought we were going to go to the Super Stop & Shop tomorrow? And I brought a new friend over. Lisa? This is my dad. He's going to insist you call him Danny," Taylor said.

"Hello, Danny. Sorry to bother you guys, but Taylor insisted I come over when I got a headache," she said with a grin on her face.

"Nice to meet you. How about some grilled hamburgers in celebration?" the red-headed father said with a terribly wide grin.

"Sounds great," Taylor said. "You'll stay for supper before you have to go?"

"Sure. Free food is always good," Lisa replied in a glib tone.

After the door closed behind Lisa, Taylor turned back to finish the dishes. But she found her dad finishing them up. He set the last plate into the dishwasher.

"So you met at the The Book Shack?" he asked.

"Yeah, she was having some coffee and was interested in a book I was reading. Um, I sort of spent most of my money on it, actually. But it's really neat. Oh, I'm going to meet Lisa tomorrow and do a matinee, okay?" The reminder of the book upstairs on her work desk had her itching to read it and try to go over the things she had seen wrong.

"I think it was worth it. It's good to see you smile again. Is she from Boston? I think I heard that in her voice?" he asked as he sat down at the small dinner table next to the fridge.

"I'll find out. It really didn't come up yet," Taylor admitted.

"Well, I'm going to head to watch my cop show, okay?" He waited for her nod and then headed into the family room at the back of the house.

Taylor quickly ran up to her room, grabbing her two books and then back down the stairs quietly. Her key opened the clock and she stepped into the control room. She looked up at the rotating section up above.

"Quinary Control Room? What the heck happened here?" she wondered to herself. She wandered over to the control room. She swiped at a panel, opening up a large, floating window. She was seeing the front room again.

She moved the sensor platform a little ways outside, then down the street. In moments, she had actually traced the path to the library.

On a whim, she actually sent the sensor into the library. She giggled as she saw the librarian escorting some teens out as she readied to close the building down for the weekend. She leaned forward.

"I wonder." Taylor's fingers started to dance over the floating control screens. "Yes. Computer access? Let's visit Parahuman Online. And now a search for time themed heroes and villains." It might give her a clue about what was going on.

"Oh, that's who's been making those weird anomalies around town. Clockblocker. I wonder how he got that name?" she muttered.

Several more people appeared, causing her to frown and narrow her lips even more than normal. Gray Boy. Phir Se. And others. No tinkers that made time devices though.

She nodded at that. It probably would be too power intensive normally. In fact, the TARDIS...

"TARDIS? Where did that name come from?" she asked no one. Then she shook her head.

The TARDIS was almost totally depleted and draining off that anomaly under the docks was barely filling the reserves. It would take hundreds of years before it recovered, though it was slowly fixing the damage. 25 % loss of mass.

Taylor frowned. The door was connected to the fifth control room. She suddenly had the thought that this TARDIS had been in some sort of battle. And had barely survived.

She pushed the physics books to the side and pulled open what she thought was a journal of some sort, starting at the end.

After about ten minutes, she had just started to grapple with the concept of a war through time and space where whole worlds were destroyed retroactively and entire species un-made by both sides. The author, Grecia, was a Time Lord (Time Lady, actually) drafted into the war after she managed to pass the exams in her fifty-fourth year. Their TARDIS had been ambushed by three Dalek saucers and had barely defeated them when the last survivor of the crew of ten had been warned by the TARDIS that six more Dalek ships were going to arrive in just seconds.

In desperation, she flung the TARDIS into a crack in space and time into another universe. When she crashed here, she said she was going to use something called a Chameleon Arch which should hide her from her enemies.

Taylor stared at the book blankly where there were no more entries.

Her mother was an alien. A {Gallifreyan} her mind provided a memory into her mind, somehow. Better than human, but not really superhuman like the capes of Earth. A little tougher, some odd time senses and incredible minds.

She sat there for about fifteen minutes, then turned to look at the central column of the control console. "So I have a broken time machine, built by advanced aliens that just happen to look human. And a lot of weird science in my head." Along with an intuitive understanding of almost all history. (Though she wasn't sure how that worked even).

She tapped and swiped controls, golden holograms moving at her tentative movements. Her mind was already putting together an outfit from the clothing her mother had left. The long coat, the hat, sturdy boots that she could run in. Perhaps use a scarf to hide her face?

How about a perception filter? That might work.

Were there any weapons or tools she would need. Taylor blinked as the TARDIS console in front of her extended a rod of metal about ten inches long. It was a basic tool that could be used as a scanner, feeding the information in an incredibly sonic signal to Time Lords and then actually could use its meta-sonic waves to interact with almost all non-organic technology. It had a fairly long, complicated name officially.

But everyone just called it a Sonic Screwdriver for some reason.

Now she just had to find a massive source of chronitons.

Wait, she had a solution. Her wide mouth curled in a smile.

Jerry hated working just inside the front entrance of the Boston Museum. The concrete tomb for Ronald Greer was totally soundproof, but the security guard could just imagine he could hear the screaming man, living being stabbed over and over. The donation box was always there, to remember Ronald and hopefully help figure out a fix for being stuck in a time loop by Gray Boy ten years ago.

So the flash of red streaming energy that coalesced into a thin figure wearing a leather long coat and fedora was not at all what he expected to see on this Sunday morning. It had some elegant men's scarf wrapped around the lower part of his or her face and tucked into the coat.

"Uh, hello. While I've technically broken in here, it's for a very good reason," the figure said, gloved hands held up to not be threatening.

"Who the hell are you? And what do you want here?" he snapped out even as he pulled out his trusty 9mm pistol and pointed it at her. His bald head was suddenly damp with sweat.

"I want to see if I can free the victim here from Gray Boy's loop. If you'll let me. Please?"

"If you can do that, I need to get an ambulance here first. Can you wait about ten to twenty minutes?" the security officer asked. He holstered his gun and pulled out his cell phone.

"That would be better than trying to use my... first aid kit." Taylor had to admit she wasn't sure she could figure it out quick enough. She needed to take some first aid lessons, she realized belatedly.

Jerry finished calling 911 and then the curator of the museum. "Say, what's your name?"

She stared blankly at him for a moment. Oh, he wasn't asking her real name, was he? "Um, I haven't chosen a cape name. Sorry. This is my first outing as a hero."

"No problem. You some sort of Tinker?" he asked with a smile.

"Something like that," she admitted. After thinking for a long moment on her name, she suddenly had an idea. "Call me Time Lady."

The EMTs actually made it in five minutes, but they agreed to wait for the ambulance.

"The curator will be here in an hour. He's the only one with a key," Jerry said apologetically.

"No problem. You don't mind if I unlock it, do you? Won't hurt it at all." The sonic screwdriver came out of a pocket and was waved at the lock from about ten inches, whining noisily for the duration. With a click, the door unlocked.

"Neat," the young woman ambulance driver said with a intrigued smile on her face.

The large door was pulled open, showing the loop of time that Ronald was stuck in. The screaming loop was very disconcerting.

"Okay. Let's see if this chroniton absorber works as advertised," Time Lady explained. The vaguely pistol and blocky shaped device emitted a purple pulsing beam and after about thirty second the bubble flickered and then collapsed.

Ronald Greer fell to the ground, the spike in his stomach leaking blood.

"Go! Go!" the lead EMT called out. "Let's save him!"

Jerry's mouth was open wide in shock. Then he looked over to where the woman was putting away her equipment. "You really did it. He was my mentor when I first started working here. He saved my life when Gray Boy was here."

He walked over to her and held out his right hand. He took her hand and shook it firmly.

"Thank you very much. Are you going to try and free the other victims?" Jerry asked.

"Maybe not personally, but I'll try to figure something out," the Time Lady said uncomfortably. She felt slightly dirty for using this to her advantage.

But she was helping people too, so that balanced it out.

She pulled out a small device and pushed a button, disappearing in a stream of red particles from a transmat device she had found in the TARDIS.

A moment later she was back in the quinary control room of the TARDIS. She pulled down the scarf, a huge smile on her face.

"It worked!"