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Veder Universe (Greg Veder/is/Peridot) (SU Cross)

1.1 Starting Out

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
People tend to stick to Taylor, infrequently targeting Greg as a MC. Still gets picked more often Aisha. Anyway, Greg wakes up one day to find a gemstone lodged in his body...) Reposted from SB.

[hr]
Starting Out​
Greg Veder was many things. A coward, a lazy layabout, a procrastinator, and at seemingly random times a massive introvert. He liked to talk and would do so till the cows came home if anyone so much as gave him half a chance.

He was a pubescent, normal teenager. The computer in his room had oft been used for a less than wholesome past time, but a quick history deletion helped keep his mom from grounding him. Again. He had learned from the first time, a ‘good’ boy did not look up such ‘filth’, and certainly didn't set any pics from suspect sites as his screensaver.

All one would find if they were to check its history would turn out the random site hopping of a typical cape follower. PHO, YouTube, a couple webcomics that had sprung up over the years. ‘The Wonder Wards’ was a particular favorite, following a secret sect of under aged capes that participated in battling crimes all without the supervision of the Protectorate. They hadn't updated in over two months, but Greg was ever hopeful.

Something that Greg most certainly was, was a plain, B negative blooded male.

That claim was currently being challenged, as Greg attempted to carry out his morning ablutions. Standing in front of the toilet, his off hand vainly searching for his member to properly guide his morning stream away from hitting outside the porcelain bowl.

Vainly, for as far he could tell it was no longer there.

He peered downwards, blinking blearily through the gunk crusting his eyelashes. Seeing what was and what wasn't currently there, his poor, sleepy mind decided there was only one truly helpful course of action

Seconds later found his mother rushing into the bathroom, eyes wide in barely restrained panic. This expression quickly morphed first to derision, then to a tired resignation.

“Damnit Greg, I do not have time for this,” she groused, covering her eyes and averting her gaze. “It's nothing I haven't seen before, I did change your diapers, but you're getting a bit old to be showing that off to me, aren't you?”

Greg blinked owlishly, hands already in motion to shield his groin.

“I… It was… My junk…” He stuttered, trying to put his dilemma into words. “It's gone…”

His mother, instead of giving him verbal comfort let out a titanic sigh.

“We really don't have time for this,” she reiterated. “You need to hurry and wake up, breakfast is on the table. Eat and brush your teeth, we leave in ten.”

She promptly left, shutting the door with slightly more force than needed. Greg was left alone once more, hesitant to look downwards in fear of what he might find. A slight wiggle reminded him of his ever pressing need to relieve the pressure, his hand finding purchase on a limb he could have sworn had disappeared previously.

“And quit screeching so loud!” His mothers’ voice penetrated the bathroom door, “The neighbors will complain. I told you before, if you upset the Watersons they'll call the cops on us again... Do you WANT to embarrass your poor mother? Huh?”

“No mom…” Greg conceded, the liquid pouring freely in sweet release.

He could hear his mom muttering to herself as she retreated, heading downstairs.

“Friggin kid, give me a freaking heart attack why don't you? The neighbors will think I have some sort of secret love child if he keeps yelling like that. He's a teenager, his voice should be getting deeper, not higher…”

Greg finished, quickly flushing and proceeding to wash his hands. Not for any real desire to rid his hands of germs, but for the fear that his mom would smack him upside the head for his slovenliness.

Was it simply a lingering vestige of his slumbering mind? A dream that crept into the waking world, tricking him into thinking his mini me had taken a vacation?

Another quick poke revealed that yes, he still was if not generously endowed, endowed in the strictest sense.

It must have been his imagination.

[hr]

School had been fine, if normal. Normal in its own, brutally horrible fashion. The goddess of his dreams, Taylor Hebert, was once more onset on all sides by the vicious bullying campaign from the popular girl trio. Today would have been the day, Greg would stand up and take Taylor's side. The bullies would be taken totally aback, they would lay off forever in shame and Taylor would absolutely want to date him.

It would be awesome.

Except it didn't happen. The trio still bullied Taylor, sure. That was common, an everyday occurrence. Greg had girded himself, preparing to stand up and help her.

Except he didn't. Greg had been metaphorically glued to his seat, mysteriously unwilling to move, to even squeak out a protest to her treatment. His words, unspoken, sank to the depths of his stomach and congealed in a frigid lump. Plans of retorts and actions flashed to the forefront of his mind, only for the perfect moments to pass. Then the less than perfect moments. Then the chances were gone.

He was as he was always, pitiful. Unable to even garner a passing resistance to the trios verbal bile.

It should have gotten better, after the locker incident he thought they might have backed off. How do you top stuffing a classmate in a locker filled with borderline hazardous material? How could tormenting his chocolate haired goddess still entertain them, when they had already raised their ‘antics’ to such heights?

Still they persisted. Still they threw their poisonous words, as if it were perfectly normal. Still Greg continued on, head down. Out of sight, out of mind. Unable to so much as help, to raise alarm to such a horrendous occurrence.

As he walked home, he placated himself with a rose tinted lie.

He’d speak up tomorrow. He’d tell them off, and it would all be better.

Wouldn't it?

Greg felt a cold ball of shame sink into his stomach, filling him with a bitter sadness as he realized it would never change. It would never get better.

Greg was no hero, he was simply Greg Veder.

Coward.

Cowards don't get the girl.

Cowards don't get anything.

To console himself, he deviated from his homeward path and headed towards the local eatery. Fugly Bobs wasn't the healthiest foodery, but what fast food place was, really? It wasn't supposed to be good for you, but it sure was good comfort food.

Nothing like a greasy burger to bury ones self esteem.

What little there was left.

[hr]

There was some things that even a copious amount of french fries couldn't help.

Being shot at by a squad of armed nutsos with laser rifles ranked pretty high on that list. It wasn't like he had been looking for them. It wasn't like he had a choice of running away, either. Not unless he wanted to just leave a poor, defenseless little girl to whatever cruel fate await her at the hands of the aforementioned nutsos. Okay, so she was a cape, so she wasn't defenseless, but she really didn't strike Greg as a combat thinker. Thinker powers were impressive, but they could only do so much against lasers.

Greg had almost made it to Fugly Bobs, if he had only been able to get in through the front doors... As it so happened, an errant piece of trash was all that had waylaid Greg's forward momentum, treacherously forcing him into an uncontrolled stumble down a nearby alley. This alone might not have been a tipping point, but Greg's wild attempts to regain his footing led him headlong into the side of a grimy dumpster. Face first, he slid slowly to the ground while his arms groped blindly for purchase.

Finding nothing more than a slick (albeit filth encrusted) surface, Greg promptly gave up and braced himself against the ground. It certainly helped more than touching the disgusting dumpster, that was for sure.

Greg stared downwards, gaze locking onto his outstretched arm. Specifically, the miscoloured flesh that covered said limb.

"I... What?"[/hr][/hr][/hr]
 

Sarcobite

THE DONALD TRUMP PROTECTS!!!!!
Author
It seems worm fic writers are starting to move here... Excellent chapter by the way.
 
1.2 Starting Out

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
His hand was green.

His wrist was green.

His arm was green!

THE REST OF HI-

Greg, -naturally, assuming that some sort of horrid gunk had somehow managed to envelop his extremity without his noticing, most likely from the dumpster he had previously had a face to face with- 'freaked the hell out'. Well, in a controlled manner, at the least. One thing his mother had instilled in him at an early age was that one 'did not have a temper tantrum or otherwise embarrass mommy in public'. This included but was not limited to- Loudly yelling for no reason. Flailing his limbs about with no regard to anyone near him. And finally, doing ANYTHING that managed to get a police officer to come over and ask 'is something wrong'.

So, for Greg -unlike say, a normal, well adjusted human being- his freak out consisted of him stretching his arm as far away from himself as he could managed, all the while choking down what he KNEW was going to be a shrill sounding screech. Slowly, his brain rebooted and allowed him to better inspect what was covering his hand, all for the self preservation of getting whatever the hell it was off.

A finger reached out, and poked his right hand. It was at this moment that Greg realized his OTHER hand was covered in the stuff as well. And that whatever it was, it didn't feel like anything. Just felt like he was tapping a finger against his bare hand. Flesh against flesh.

Also, Greg was sure something was wrong with his eyes. His hands looked... smaller?

One hand rubbed against the other, trying to make sense to Gregs poor belabored mind. There wasn't anything on Gregs hands. His hands were green. His flesh... was green? His flesh, his skin was green.

"Why am I green?" Greg asked out loud, trying to rationalize what his eyes were telling him. He started, hearing an unfamiliar voice spill out from his mouth. Whipping his head from side to side in the vain hope that it had actually been someone else speaking, he was met by an empty alley. Couple rats not giving a shit, munching on something that looked suspiciously like trash from the nearby Fugly Bobs. Besides carrion, nobody. Nothing intelligent, anyway.

"Aaaaaaah," Greg sounded out, his mind distracted momentarily from his discoloured skin. "Aaaaah. Baaaaah. The clever fox- holy shit that's weird whatthehellhappenedtomyvoice?" His remaining words spilled out in a disorganized tumble, barely even making sense to Greg himself.

He reached up to cradle his head, an unconscious coping method he had developed to combat the errant moments of stress he was occasionally overcome by. -His dad was never coming back, daddy would never hurt him again, mommy said so, the courts said so, they'd never let him- scratching at his scalp made his mom worry that he was going to cause himself a bald spot, but he hadn't had anything like that happen. Yet. Probably wouldn't happen. Probably.

Greenish tinged blonde hair spilled past his fingers, framing them in an eerie halo past his eyes. Uncomfortable seconds passed, before he dredged up the courage to drag a strand of hair into closer inspection before his eyes. A momentary contact with a thin see through visor confused him even further -he definitely wasn't wearing that earlier- before he refocused on the important thing in question. 'What happened to his hair' might have been less pressing than 'why is my skin green' but it was the sequence of events that took Gregs attention. The hair seemingly happened the most recently, so it was the most important.

It was blonde, yes. That being said, it was not the same tint of Gregs own. Whereas Gregs hair was at easiest claimed a 'dirty' blonde, it had never been this tint before. Reaching ever upwards -studiously ignoring the sight of his arms, one thing at a time- his hands encountered a veritable bush of hair spanning outwards. His hair had grown. Why? What the hell could slamming ones face into a dumpster have to due with spontaneously growing an afro? Okay, so it really wasn't an afro persay, the multitude of strands were almost slick, thin and straight as they 'poofed' outwards. It was just so thick, was he going to have to get his mom to take him to get a haircut?

Mom.

Greg froze, fingers constricting in a rictus as he tried to contemplate what his mom would do if she saw him like this. What would she say? What would do? She would probably ground him. Yep, there was no question about it, his mom would take one look, and then she'd shut off the router. Or at the very least she'd unplug his line. Dang it, he was going to be grounded forever, he hadn't even done anything! This day sucked, the only way it could get any worse is-

Greg stopped, his fingers brushing against something on his forehead. Probing further told him next to nothing, beyond the fact that he apparently had a polished piece of rock superglued to his face.

Greg was very close to suffering from a mental breakdown, so he decided to do something slightly intelligent. He took a deep breath, and let it out. Then he took another. Another. Once more.

"Okay," he muttered, sagging inwards as he leaned up against the nearest wall. "Let's... try to figure this out. My arms are green. My voice sounds weird. My hair is weird. I'm wearing... some weird set of sunglasses. I-"

Greg unfortunately spent the next few seconds hyperventilating, having looked down to see that he was no longer wearing his typical 'cool' outfit of slacks, spits, and a hoodie over an Armsmaster branded tshirt. Instead, he appeared to be wearing what looked like a skintight jumpsuit. Onesie. Leotard. Thing. The legs and wings of the vest were a deep green, darker than his skin now was. Patterned across the chest was a chevron, a V whose flat black tips disappeared over his shoulders.

'His' being subjective at the moment, seeing as Greg could see his body quite well under the confines of his new... 'Onesie', and did not like what he saw.

Greg had never been particularly muscular, a result of the copious amounts of junk food coupled with a lacking exercise routine. His paunch was gone, replaced by a flat, childlike stomach that perfectly allowed him to see the absence that had so distressed him earlier that morning. A quick, frantic pat of the area reconfirmed this fact, forcing him to freeze once more.

It was gone. Straight, just... GONE.

Greg pinched his cheek, flinching at the burst of concentrated pain.

"Okay... Calm down, need to calm down, freaking out won't do me any good...Logically. Have to think about this logically," Greg trailed off, opting to pace back and force to try and focus his thoughts on a helpful subject. "My skin is green. It's my skin, not something ON my skin. My hair is wrong, my voice is wrong. Holy shit, am I a case 53?"

Greg stopped, before running down the alley to look stealthily at the surrounding area. Noting what he saw, he once more retreated further into the alley, away from questioning eyes.

"I'm right where I was. Case 53's don't remember anything either, so that can't be it. At least, I think I remember everything," Greg muttered, taking a moment to try to remember as far back as he could. He couldn't think of anything he was forgetting, but wasn't that the case of forgetting something? "I remember who I am. Greg. Greg Veder, I am a normal," debatable, "teenager. Soooo... Did I trigger? Do I have powers? What the hell does being green mean, power wise?"

Greg took the chance to punch the nearby wall, wincing in pain as he cradled his now aching hand.

"Okay, not brute. Definitely not brute. God, why did I think that was a smart idea?" A couple curses went through his mind before being discarded, such thoughts weren't helpful. "Tinker? No, tinkers have thoughts, blueprints and stuff that flitter through their heads. Fugue states. Mover?" A couple hops back and forth and he discarded his latest guess. "If anything, I think I might be slower. Striker? Blaster?"

Greg thrust his hands out at the wall that had dared to attempt injuring his hand. Yes, it was all the walls fault, and ha nothing to do with his own shortsightedness. A few seconds passed, no energy beams forthcoming. After a couple more seconds of frantically waving his hands in the desperate attempt to make something happen, Greg gave up.

"Nothing. Not even a weird feeling. So not striker or blaster. Could still be a master or a stranger..." Greg looked around, realizing he couldn't really test either one of those without a 'willing' test subject to help. "Master would be bad anyway, no one likes masters. So that only leaves..."

A manic spark lit in his eyes, and a wave of hope arose in his chest. "Changer! That would explain everything! Although, why changing green would be a power is beyond me..."

Any further musing was cut off by a compact missle of flesh and hair impacting with Gregs side, knocking both himself and his attacker to the ground. A frantic bout of movement quickly separated the two of them, allowing Greg to roll to his feet.

It was... a giant child. Like, absolutely gargantuan. She looked like a normal kid proportion wise, a young girl about eleven or twelve. Beyond that, she was as tall as Greg was. That in itself was unthinkable, Greg was the gawkiest the of the gawky, having just finished going through a growth spurt earlier that year. he was close on the heels of the 6" height mark, already having outstripped his mother and leaving her with a plethora of 'short jokes'. She had dropped plenty on himself as he was growing up, he only felt they were deserved now.

The girl looked around wildly, slowly getting to her feet as her gaze locked onto Greg. She stared, staying silent for several seconds before she belted out "Ninety Seven point Eighty Two percent."

Authors Notes:
Chapter 2, if threadmarks get added will be updated.
 
1.3 Starting Out; Interlude Dinah

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Dinah Alcott was having a decidedly off day.

For the average twelve year old, an ‘off’ day usually consisted of a scraped knee, a close friend ‘being a butt’, or a parent committing the unspeakable crime of ‘being mean’. Perhaps if Dinah were an average child, these might be of her concerns.

Dinah Alcott was not an average child. Being the niece of the Mayor meant a certain amount of attention was at the feet of her parents, which in itself led to a harsh degree of stress. One would assume that a normal lawyer married to a normal dean of justice would not be allowed their own privacy. One would assume that with all the cape activity in Brockton Bay people would have more interesting gossip to focus on.

Dinah had first hand experience as to the stress her parents chose to vent, most times in loud voices towards each other. There was many a night the scrappy twelve year old wished the walls of their house weren't the width of a piece vellum gilded paper.

All in all, Dinah was not unfamiliar to the darker aspects of the world she lived in. She knew the city they lived in wasn't the best, that there were several gangs that called its boundaries their home.

A week previous had been the worst, Dinah’s parents had raised the decibel level to such an extent that she couldn't drown out their squabbling with her MP3 player. She had curled up in a ball on her bed, hands flattened desperately against the sides of her head. Why couldn't they just get along? Why did they even stay together at all if they hated each other so much? Why? Why? Why…

Then it happened.

Dinah could have sworn the world collapsed around her, shattering into fragments of broken glass. Her body burned, but an icy chill spread outwards from her hands. An endless abyss stretched out in front of her, her eyes gazing out into the infinite aether. She could see out and within of herself, and everything… clicked.

Dinah had woken back up, her parents still screaming at each other. Lost in their pointless troubles. She didn't feel any different, aside from her hand itching for a second. It was then that she discovered her power.

Such a pointless question. Such a disheartening answer.

‘Will my parents ever be happy with each other?’

‘Zero point oh oh oh oh three three nine percent.’

It was an interesting power, although not a very impressive one. Dinah quickly learned its limitations, mostly by using the power to ask questions about itself. This of course also led to the discovery that using it too much was in itself a baaaaaad thing.

Ice cream headaches had nothing on it.

Dinah swore to only use her power sparingly, especially after having asked three pointed questions and receiving three very worrying answers.

‘Chances that joining the wards is a good thing for me.’

‘Seven point oh oh two percent.’

That had been disappointing, the wards in Dinahs’ mind were the place to be for any superpowered youths. I mean, she could have tried to join the Youth Guard or New Wave, but neither of those options were very appealing to the young girl.

‘Chances that being an independent or a rogue would be good for me.’

‘Thirty point five nine percent.’

That had been slightly better than the results of her previous question, but still was nowhere as high as she had wanted. Perhaps it had been the fact that she asked about multiple aspects in a singular question.

‘Chances that I’ll survive the year if I don’t join a team.”

‘Zero percent.’

That answer had sent Dinah into a panic attack, desperately flinging additional questions at her power until the pain had knocked her unconscious. She had flung team after team at her power, exhausting the possibilities from an online list. She even went down the line from teams that weren't even local to Brockton bay.

The following days had been an ever continuing puzzle, leaving Dinah without the answers she so desperately desired. She couldn’t tell her parents about her newfound power. Seven point three percent chance she lived out the year if they learned of her power from herself telling them.

That is to say, she’d live if they found out from a source that wasn't her. That her chances went down a full four percent when she tried to cheat by having her parents learn from a roundabout method was only the icing on the cake.

A week passed, every day a stressful event that passed without a single preambling threat. Dinah jumped at every shadow, to the extent that even her parents managed to draw themselves out of their collective funk and pay her a modicum of attention.

That led to the day at hand, where both had somehow managed to pass off the semblance of a happy couple long enough to take Dinah out for a bite to eat.

This would have been pleasant.

If only life weren't such a capricious bitch.

Dinah’s father had plopped facedown at the table, a dart with a fluffy red tail sticking straight up out of his neck. Her mother had followed shortly, having managed to let out a single piercing shriek before she capsized the table with her bulk.

Several armed men came strutting out of the woodwork, tinkertech weapons cradled loosely in their hands.

“Got the parents, target secured,” the man in the lead spouted, reaching a thick gloved hand out to grab her.

Dinah threw her coffee in his face.

Chances that getting coffee was in her best interest despite the fact that she despised the bitter drink?

Ninety five point eight percent, for no discernible reason. Not that she was complaining.

She ran, kicking over a chair and hearing one of her pursuers trip over it as she fled. They didn't seem to care about drawing attention to themselves, doing nothing to silence their pursuit.

She threw questions at her power, barely managing to keep her lead as she turned down street after street. Person after person she asked of her power-

‘Chances I’ll live out the year if I ask them for help.’

-and time after time her power gave her startlingly low numbers. So she ran onwards.

She turned down another alley, gaze drifting behind her to see how close the men had gotten. If only she could find someone. Anyone! Heck, she’d take Chubster if he was available, where the heck were all the capes when you really needed one-

She ran into what felt like a wall. A small, squishy, squeaking wall, but a wall nonetheless. Whatever she had hit tumbled to the ground with her, letting out a pained grunt as they hit the the filthy alley floor.

Dinah quickly scrambled to her feet, heart pounding in her chest. She looked up, freezing in place as she finally noticed whom she had collided with.

Green skin.

It was a cape.

Dinah gulped down a hurried gasp of air, forming the question in her mind.

‘Can this cape help me?’

Authors Notes
Chapter three, will update if threadmarks become a thing.
 
1.4 Starting Out

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg was simultaneously good, and horrible at running.

Good at running from a potentially troubling situation? Of course, just let me slowly sidle out of the room...

Physically moving fast enough that ones lateral momentum could be considered 'running'? Oh good god no. P.E. class was Gregs bane, sweating and groaning like a gorilla in heat was not his favored method of spending his time, much less something he would posit as a past time.

Still, being shot at does wonders for ones motivation. Really just takes the procrastinator out of their hideyhole and kicks them right 'tween the goalposts.

The girl had spouted off her random string of numbers -confusing Greg to no end, it wasn't the typical interaction that he had imagined as his first bout of superherodom.- and shortly after the end of the alley had been filled with an abnormal sight. More so than his own green tinted skin, at least he could explain that away as 'powers be weird, yo'. No, this was abnormal in the normal sense. If that made sense.

Six men, dressed in a spattering of different outfits ranging from a business suit to one who was wearing camo fatigues. Each of them had something in common with the other though, due to what they had all been carrying. Guns, standard rifle looking components that gave way to less than standard looking tinker modifications. To add to that, the guy up at the front of the group was actually the odd man out, carrying a rather normal looking rifle. Greg recognized it as a tranq gun, having seen the weapon in use during a four hour marathon on the Animal Planet.

What. He had been hanging out with Sparky, and the relatively normal life of animals living on the Savannah was oddly relaxing.

Gregs immediate response to seeing the men flood the alley was to put himself in between them and the obviously distressed girl.

Which in turn allowed him a small revelation. The girl wasn't gigantic. He was now tiny. Relatively, at least. The men quite obviously towered over the two of them, having the proportions normal to a typical adult. It was slightly galling, to know his power not only stole his junk but also shrank him to the average size of a middle schooler. It certainly didn't give him much confidence regarding his upcoming confrontation, if only his changer power had made him the size of a small house. Then they wouldn't be leveling all of their weapons... at his... in his general direction... Oh shit, they were going to shoot at him!

The man in the lead shouldered his tranq rifle, pausing to unholster a blatantly tinkertech pistol from under his coat. He momentarily spoke into a handheld radio, the distance between Greg and the group making it so he couldn't hear what was being said. The man gave a short nod, then pointed his gun at Greg and fired.

A freaking LASER shot out near instantaneously, not giving Greg a chance to dodge even if he had had the forethought to. Fate smiled on young Veder however, when instead of a two inch diameter hole being bored through his forehead the blast of light hit the gem above his eyes and... slipped inside of it.

The process was not altogether unpainful, Greg would later equate it to similar straights as the one dentist his mom used to go to. The unlucky bastard had forgot to give Greg anesthetic before he started drilling, scaring himself and Greg to pieces when the young lad had started screaming bloody murder. His business had taken a small hit that day, culminating in an out of court settlement in favor of Gregs mother. It hadn't helped his public image any either, and the last Greg had heard of the fellow he was supposedly moving to a different state.

What did you expect when your dentist was named Fredrick Paine, though?

The moment passed, sensation dulling and evaporating from his forehead as he blandly stared down the equally nonplussed assailant.

The man reached for his radio once more, barking out in a volume the Greg could discern from across the alley.

"Target is a cape, confirmed!" The man dropped the radio back to his hip, snapping out at his accompaniment, "Tech in the visor absorbs shots. Aim for center mass!"

Welp.

Greg didn't stick around to see if his torso was similarly resistant to laser beams. He grabbed the girl by her right hand, booking it for the nearby exit of the alley and back to the city street proper. Thankfully it seemed that the girl had even less compunction about sticking around than he did, quickly matching his pace.

"What the he...ck do they want?" Greg verbally stumbled, trying not to cuss in front of a young girl. If his mom found out he polluted the mind of not only someone she would consider to be a young child, but a girl? He'd be grounded till he was twenty, and that was if she went easy on him. Copious amounts of soap awaited his mouth, at any rate. Better not to risk it.

Plus, capes -of the hero variety anyway, villains seemed to have no such restrictions. Not like they were trying to set a good example or anything...- were not supposed to cuss. They took down villains with a mixture of wit and integrity. Greg didn't want to be labeled as a 'bad' hero right off the bat.

"No idea," the girl responded, gasping down a quick breath of air as they ran. "Whatever it is, it isn't good for me. Zero percent chance I live out the week if they get their hands on me."

Greg paused in his internal musing, puzzling over the girls choice of words.

"Percent? How can you possibly know that though..." Greg trailed off, the answer coming to the forefront of his mind with little prompting. "Oh, duh. Parahuman. Thinker power, with percentage based values to grant you a comprehensive version of precognition?" Greg flinched, wondering at the words that were spilling from his mouth. Since when did he start talking like a total teachers pet? Greg was well known for running his mouth, but he had some sort of propriety. Better to be known as the nerd than the geek. One had weird hobbies and interests, the other was a prime target if a bully wanted to get a string of B's on homework for the classes they were struggling in.

"Y... yeah," she choked out, dodging with Greg as they weaved around an adult that upon taking one look at who was chasing them, averted his gaze and hurriedly scurried away. "My power... It said you could help me!"

"Well..." Greg reasoned, thinking furiously as he cussed out the man in the safe confines of his mind. Bastard, sees a girl and a cape running from a group of gun toting nutjobs and doesn't do anything. Absolute asshole. "I'm kinda new at this. Literally just today, actually. Didn't even know I could do the whole sucky thing with the concentrate light emission. Didn't feel all that great either, so I don't exactly want to go repeating that."

"Of course," the girl grumped, clutching at her side with her left hand. "I'm being chased by bad guys and I somehow manage to latch onto the only cape who's even newer at this than I am. Of course. Couldn't get Assault, Miss Militia or Glory Girl, I have to get the Spectacular Green Girl. Wow. Do you even have a plan?"

Greg ducked to the side, seeing a glint of metal out of his peripheral vision as he made to turn down a street. He managed to juke at just the right time, barely avoiding the lance of brilliant light that someone in the group behind them had fired at them.

"Nyeeeaaaah!" Greg yelped, tenderly grasping at the line of molten fury that had erupted from his chest. A thin line had traced it's way across his chest, cutting through the fabric and burning the flesh underneath. Greg felt a slight tugging from his forehead, a cold shiver that melted across his body and left him feeling drained. After this sensation awaited, Greg noticed that the tear across his chest was gone, replaced once more with unblemished fabric. "Holy shit, cmon!"

They cut across a parking lot, Greg slowing as he huffed desperately for breath. "We can't keep running," Greg admitted, glancing around to see if the group had caught up yet.

"We can't just stop and give up, either!" The girl rebutted.

"Not saying that we... should..." Greg trailed off, the barest traces of a plan starting to form in his mind as he took in their immediate surroundings. "C'mon!" He belted out, grabbing her hand once more as he drug her along. "No... No... Too old, too new, import, alarm system, someone's been sleeping in this one, locked," Greg groused, tugging on the handle to a seemingly random car.

"What the hell are you doing?" The girl asked, eyes wide with confusion. Oh sure, Greg wasn't allowed to cuss, but she was. Some people were just too privileged.

"Looking for something easy, that won't nessasarily ruin suin someone's life," Greg explained, finally spotting his quarry. "This!" He crowed, dragging her to the door of a nearby truck. "What's your power say about this one?"

"What?" the girl retorted.

"Is this a good one? Will us taking this mess up a good person?" Greg reiterated.

"I..." The girl paused, closed her eyes for a couple seconds. "Seventy three point oh eight... No. This one won't hurt anyone that matters," she affirmed.

"Then c'mon!" Greg barked, hauling the truck door open.

"Zero percent... and zero percent," the girl muttered, before snapping attention back to Greg, "There's no key, you won't be able to start it, and hiding won't work!" She protested.

"Just get in," Greg rebuffed, grabbing her around the waist and raising her into the cab. She didn't resist, scooting over to the passenger seat as Greg clambered in alongside her. Being small again suuuuuuuucked. Everything was made for adults, making maneuvering even in the simplest sense a chore.

Greg slid off the edge of the seat, squeezing into the space where ones feet would usually be free to manipulate the pedals. He banged at the aged plastic under the wheel, cracking the fragile material until he managed to peel it back and away from the myriad of wires it had been protecting underneath.

"Do you know what you're doing? Agh!" The girl flinched, clutching her head in a moment of pain. "The hell does 'N.A' mean?"

Greg paused, caught in the moment as he considered her words. What was he doing? He didn't know how to hotwire a car, how the hell did he even get this far? He peered at the shadowy confines of the under space, splinters of sunlight illuminating his hands. It was so simple though, all he had to do was strip the insulation from these two wires, that would bypass the ignition process that was required for any key bearing moral individual...

Greg stopped, mind agog as the veritable schematics for his chosen vehicle slid across his mental processes. He knew what a four cylinder engine was, how it worked, how to make it better. It was galling to be restricted to such mundane tech, but even restrained by such barbarically limited resources she was sure she could pump out a mobile platform that could overtake anything else on the road. Add in some gem tech, and she could even make the stupid thing fly. Affix a modular arm unit, and she could even have a cycling energy dispersal canon at her disposal-

Greg started, flinching as he pondered the two wires in his hands. The hell was that? He then smiled, an earnest grin that crept across his face.

"I'm a tinker!" He crowed, shoving the two wires against each other to punctuate his statement as the engine rumbled to life. He scrambled back up onto the seat, grinning broadly as he took the wheel.

Seconds passed, and Gregs smile slowly fell.

"You can't reach the pedals," The girl observed.

"No I can not."

Authors Notes:
Chapter four, threadmarks, will update, so on and so forth.
 
1.5 Starting Out; Interlude Coil

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Thomas Calvert was a patient man.

He had a near infinite number of attempts that he could make at his fingertips, so he could damn well afford to be.

He stared down at the moniter before him, watching the live feed on one of his mercenaries helmet cams. Thinkers were truly a pain to deal with, and this Dinah Alcott was proving to be no different. A precocious child to be sure, but a surprisingly resourceful one at that. To think, she had only escaped originally due to Marcus not wearing face protection.

Thomas sighed, pinching his nose in frustration. At the very least, this timeline had supplied him with knowledge of the existence of yet another cape that had managed to crawl out of the woodwork. How very annoying. Some sort of green midget with breaker or tinker powers. He made a mental note to send another group to apprehend the cape after he split the timeline again, if the childlike appearance was anything to go by she could very well be trained like any other.

Tattletale was such an example, if a roundabout one. Thomas knew she was reluctant, always slinking around behind his back and scheming her way to a prospective freedom. In that way she was actually trained far better than any dog. Her power saw to it, actually. It could see that he was willing to kill her within the span of any breath if she so much as sneezed wrong at him. This in turn led to a delicious seesaw effect on her part, sending her teetering from arrogant dismissal to hurried platitudes from one second to the next.

It was through one of their near daily meetings that had led to the discovery of his soon to be newest acquisition. She had started off just as proud, as defiant as any time before. With the first finger separated from her hand, she had quickly spat out every little bit of information she thought he might find important. Of course by the time she was out of fingers she was a sobbing wreck, unable to amount any form of subtle resistance.

When he violated her further, she had gone catatonic. Or it might have been the blood loss. Regardless, it was as Thomas preffered. When his partners moved around too much beneath him or made too much unnessasary noise, he found it to be a horrendous put off.

Of course he had collapsed that timeline directly after, it wouldn't do to let all that blood seep into the carpet. That mess would be almost impossible to get out after it dried.

Also it would be a waste to just be rid of Tattletale at this time. She still had a level of usefulness, and was truly a godsend for stress relief.

It had brought with it its own spat of useful information, chiefly that of a new parahuman that Tattletale had happened upon in the middle of the local mall. The young strumpet had been blithely using her power out among the masses, invisible to any normal mud raking human going about their business, but a radiant beacon of light to the sight of Tattletale power.

Served her right. Mumbling under one's breath out in public was just plain rude. Thomas let himself have a slight smile, he would teach her a measure of manners soon enough.

Not as Thomas Calvert, but as his true identity. Coil. It was truly astounding, how free the simple act of putting on an ornate mask liberated him so. How truly confined and chained he became every time he slipped back into his disguise of Thomas Calvert, average PRT office worker.

It was at back near the start of this whole debacle, the moment that Coil ordered his men to fire upon the cape that he felt a twinge of disappointment flutter in his chest. It really wasn't cost efficient, and he could better handle the situation the next-

The cape didn't die.

The bolt of energy was absorbed into the capes visor, prompting her to grab young Alcott and take off running.

"What are you doing?!" Coil snapped, flipping the switch on his intercom. It wouldn't do to have him fumbling with a common hand radio, after all. He could have gotten a model that was activated via button, but he found that having a switch to flip was just oh so much more satisfying. "Am I paying you all to stand around, or are you going to get the damned girl?"

"On it, boss," came the curt reply.

Coil sighed, pawing away at the flesh of his chin.

Minutes later and they still hadn't caught the girl, Coil was leaning towards just closing the timeline and calling it a loss. Still, no other capes had been attracted to the duos mad flight from his men as of yet. So it could very well be salvaged.

"Sir!" Marcus barked out, his voice coming across in a strained tone over the intercom. "The targets are fleeing in a pickup, should we continue pursuit?"

Coil watched the screen in a mixture of disbelief and begrudging amusement. The little green girls hair could be sticking out from the top of the drivers seat, as the truck haphazardly weaved its way out of the parking lot. Coil wouldn't admit it out loud, but he... honestly wanted to see where this scenario was heading.

In the other timeline the families order of food arrived, the young girl having predictably neglected partaking of even a sip of her drink as she poked daintily at the food on her plate. So she had only ordered the coffee in order to escape the mercenaries. Coil wanted her even more than ever.

"No capes inbound, but be on guard," Coil told him. He could have simply ordered him once more to get on with it, but it was surprising how much the most obedient pawn would rebel if they thought they were being railroaded. "Pursue and take them down. I don't care if the package has a couple broken bones, feel free to run them off the road or whatever else takes your fancy."

"Understood," Marcus acknowledged. The group quickly reconvened with the two drivers, continuing the chase and quickly closing the distance that the green cape had managed to secure. One of the men in the lead car leaned out the passenger side window, taking potshots at the fleeing trucks rear wheels in between shots at the driver.

"Holy shit! Tobias!" Marcus belted out with equal parts surprise and horror. Coil was simply confused, the hell did the man just do?

"Marcus, report," Coil ordered.

"It's... Tobias, sir! He just jumped out of the window! Just jumped right out, got ran over by a eighteen wheeler!"

Coil kneeded at his brow, a headache forming at the incompitance of his hired help. Couldn't even have a proper car chase, had to go flinging themselves headfirst out of car windows. Like goddamned teenagers. Or college students. Both were equally stupid in his eyes.

He flipped the switch on the intercom, allowing himself a measure of respite from their idiocy. "Okay. Mental note. Apparently Tobias has a death wish. I'll have to remember that. His suicidal tendencies have to be useful in some regard."

Looking back down at the screen only compounded his mental pain, a report that his lumbering goons had drawn the attention of the Protectorate, specifically that a green skinned cape driving a truck was being shot at with tinkertech rifles. Miss Militia and Assault inbound.

Time to cut his losses.

Coil reached out, intent on collapsing the timeline.

Blackness permeated his existence, stretching on to infinity. Coil gasped, a turgid sound that was swallowed up by the inky abyss. The pressure was immense, a chastising hand that none too gently grasped at his power and gave what he could only describe as a 'waggling finger'. All was black. All but the eyes.

They stared down at him, cowing him with their majesty. The blood red eye watched on, fury dwelling deep within its churning depths. The violet gazed on with a measured patience, labeling him as nothing more than a mere annoyance.

It was the last, the Azure tinged globe of sapphire that demanded his attention. It peered down at him, disapproving and disappointed. It was then that Coil felt the reaching icy fingers of... something grasping, clawing at him. It took hold of his power and twisted.

The timeline where the family sat outside the restaurant, 'happily' chowing away at their chosen meals collapsed, leaving Coil sitting and staring at the screen before him in disbelief.

It.. That was... How? She was supposed to be just a normal, run of the mill precog. She wasn't supposed to have this sort of power...

Coil flipped the switch on his intercom with wild abandon, snarling with his haste.

"Your pay is tripled, kill the girl! Use whatever methods you have to, just kill the fucking girl!"

Authors Notes:
Chapter five, threadmarks, yeah?
 
1.6 Starting Out

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg thought his lack of thought was perfectly justified. People running after them, shooting guns that went 'pew pew pew', the whole 'running' thing, screaming, shouting, and did he mention the running?

"So uh," He mumbled, trying to form his thoughts in a coherent structure, "Probably should have asked this before, but things were kinda hectic so..." The girl stared at him with a bland expression stamped across her face, "What's your name? I can't very well keep calling you 'the girl' in my head..."

She appeared surprised at his question, before she screwed up her nose in amusement. "Dinah. Dinah Alcott. What's yours?"

Greg froze, brain going a thousand miles an hour as he tried to think up a response. He couldn't very well tell her his real name, for one that just wasn't done in the cape business. Plus, with his changer form providing the perfect disguise there was no way he was going to tie it back to his true identity by using the same name.

Dinahs face lit up in embarrassed understanding, "I didn't mean it like that!" She jabbered out hurriedly, "I meant your cape name... But if you're as new to this as you said you are you probably don't have one..." She cut herself off, averting her gaze as she took to rifling through the trucks glovebox.

"You can call me Void...uh..." Greg trailed off, his go-to screen of anonymity dying on his lips in transit. His online handle that he used on practically everything requiring a username had been for the past several years, 'Void Cowboy'. He couldn't rightly remember where he had come up with it from, the memories from before his father was laid off were jumbled and foggy.

"Voidah?" Dinah cocked her head to the side, having finished her intrusive searching in the midst of Gregs inattentiveness. A small pile lay on the floor of the truck, a mishmash of papers peppered with various junk and trash. Also, a tiny little handgun, like one a stereotypical woman would carry in ones purse. That also joined the pile on the floor, Dinah apparently being unwilling to attempt using the small firearm. Not that Greg knew how to use one either... "What's it stand for?" She asked, finally digging out a pair of worn looking driving gloves.

"Uum..." Greg stalled, trying to come up with a convincing lie. "Just... Came up with it. It sounds cool, right?" Greg gave her what he hoped was a placating smile.

"I don't get it," came the all too quick response. "You might want to give it a little more thought."

"Thats... I... Well what are you doing?" Greg managed to belt out, attempting to cover up his embarrassment as she scooted off the seat and onto the truck floor by his dangling legs.

"Well I'm not gonna touch these with my bare hands, you know?" She retorted, giving the gas pedal an experimental push. The engine revved, but no lateral movement was to be had.

Greg knew the problem immediately, a copious amount of hours playing a bevy of vehicle simulators gave him a frighteningly realistic idea of how driving such a truck worked. It had all been worth the multi hundred dollar setup of pedals and controls. All to pretend he was driving a tractor.

Aaaaaaall worth it.

Not only was the parking brake still engaged, but to Gregs further trepidation he noticed something he hadn't really considered to be all that big of a deal before succumbing to the horrible realization that his current stature wasn't lanky enough to to reach the ground bound pedals. The truck was a clutch based, manual gear system.

"You could just use your feet, you know?" He joked, watching as Dinahs head bobbed in sudden mortification. She quickly adjusted her position, shoulders between Gregs legs as she faced the wheel and leaned back against the seat. "Step on the far left one, all the way to the floor," Greg told her, watching with satisfaction as she followed his instruction. "It's a clutch, so," he reached out, letting the parking brakes own spring loaded switch disengage itself as he grabbed the handle. "You're gonna have to let it off slowly as you rev up the engine. Far right pedal."

"I know how a car works!" Dinah snapped back at him as she let off the clutch too fast, and stalled the engine. "I know how a real car works, not this stupid clutch thing..."

"Just let the engine build up some momentum before you start letting the clutch up," Greg calmly ordered, noting out the corner of his eye as the group of gun toting nutjobs trundled their way into the parking lot. "Not to put any pressure on you, but our friends seem to have caught up," he told her, rubbing the two wires together once more to restart the engine.

"I know, I know!" She snapped, jamming her foot down on the gas. The engine let out a keening roar, before the truck jolted into a general forward path.

Greg had never actually driven an actual car before. His mom had forbidden him from even trying, stating that if she ever got so much as word of him joyriding he would be scrubbing dishes in juvie till he was thirty. He'd try to get his permit once he was sixteen, and not a day earlier.

So it was with a sheepish expression that Greg numbly steered their chosen mode of transportation across the parking lot, skidding along the side and backs of several parked cars before they lurched out into the road proper.

"Do you wanna switch?" Dinah snarked, peering back over her shoulder and giving him an expression that could only be described as 'really?'.

"I got this," Greg assured her, before prompting her through engaging second gear. Their truck slowly built up steam, swerving through traffic and barreling right through a stop light. "Woops."

"Woops? Woops what?" Dinah demanded, having barely seen the stoplight out of the sliver of windshield visible to her.

"Ran a stop light," Greg suddenly cringed, jamming the steering wheel to the left as a solid 'whud' went through the truck. "Aaaaaand ran over a mailbox. Woops."

Their moment of guilt was undercut by a lance of cylindrical light effortlessly tunneling through the back window, leaving a scorch mark on the front windshield. Greg gave a glance behind, seeing the two CRVs that had closed behind them. In the front car Greg could see a tan skinned man with bared forearms leaning out the passenger window, aiming the weapon that had discharged the last bit of flying superheated death through their window.

"God, they won't give you a break, will they?" He groused, wrenching the wheel to the left once more. He cut across several lanes of traffic, including a couple that had been going the opposite direction. "Rev us up, I want to get to fourth gear now that they're riding our tailpipe. If they get up beside us they could run us off the road!"

Dinah complied, finding it easier to engage the clutch now that the stupid truck was actually moving. Their panicked acceleration was punctuated by several more bursts of light, some of which were getting entirely too close for his comfort.

He swerved right onto another street, wincing as another shot came close enough to sear the right side of his face. "Nyeeeeeaaah, friggin jerk wads!" He yelled back at them. They probably couldn't hear him, but yelling almost always made him feel better. Certainly helped when facing off against a veritable army of nine year olds from earth Aleph on Call of Duty. The subscription costs for transdimensional connection was triple that for local lines, but Greg thought it worth it.

Another shot traced it's way through the back window, scorching a small hole through his now bushy hair. With a restrained snarl of barely repressed frustration, Greg could feel him reaching back... Back past his fingers, past the truck, past the space in between their two vehicles. He felt... something in him grab onto something behind them, something that reeked of coins and gutters. He pulled, and felt that something jerk in his grasp.

The sensation faded, leaving Greg once more desperately weaving his way through various traffic. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a curious sight in their rear view mirror. The man that had been leaning out of the passenger window was doing his best impression of Alexandria, fingers tight around his weapon as he flew out of his car. He landed bodily, disappearing from view as the distance between them lengthened yet further.

"Holee-cooooow," Greg muttered, as the cars behind them let out squeezing peals of rubber as they tried to avoid the downed man. One large semi in particular, came to a screeching halt as it swerved off the road. "... I'm sure he's fiiiiiine."

"What happened?" Dinah barked, looking back at Greg as she let off the gas slightly. "I can't see anything from down here, what's going on? Did we lose them?"

Greg let her have a brilliant smile, brightness ratings : MAX.

"I have more pooooowers!~" he trilled, before hurriedly swerving through a crosswalk to avoid the people attempting to walk through it. "Magnikinesis! I yam de mastah of Magnesis, Magneto! Bwaaaahahahaha." He slowly ended in a deadpan tone.

"Should I call you that instead of 'Voida'? Or are you going to change it again in five minutes?" Dinah joked, feeling the telltale jitters as their truck made its way up, over, and back off of a sidewalk.

"No!" Greg quickly spat, before bashfully waving to a poor old woman who had abandoned her bag of groceries in his errant path. "I mean, I dunno. I was trying to make a joke. Like, Magneto? Marvel comics?"

"My mom doesn't like me reading frivolous things," Dinah admitted, marveling at the odd turn their conversation had taken. Being chased by gun toting super villains, and somehow they had ended up talking about comics. What wonders next?

"Friv- comics aren't, Nyeeah!" Greg yelped, weaving past one of their pursuing cars. They had somehow managed to cut them off, putting themselves in their immediate path before Greg shot their truck along a sidewalk. A sidewalk which up to that moment had been a crowded sidewalk, but was now surprisingly devoid of individuals to run over. They had apparently decided that the open road was a far safer place for them to take cover.

Dinah suddenly tensed, her body constricting in a rictus of pain. Greg looked down and could see her contorting, eyes screwed shut as her mouth opened wide in a silent scream. Her hands curled upwards, grabbing at her forehead. She shot ramrod straight, jamming the gas pedal straight down to the floor.

"Dinah? Hey, Dinah! Hey! What's... Shit! What's happening, is something wrong?" He asked, looking desperately around for a place where they could stop. If Dinah was having a seizure or a stroke, there was frighteningly little that Greg could do to help her. Not that as of the moment they would be able to stop, what with her plunging the pedal down to the metal. A fact that the quickly tiring engine was only too happy to share with them.

Dinahs eyes opened wide, and Greg watched as they flashed a brilliant tinge of blue. She closed her mouth, then strangled out a single word.

"STOP," she intoned, and Greg felt a ripple of... Something pass over them. A curious sense of dejavu, that passed just as quickly. Dinah shook her head, her eyes quickly shifting back to their neutral brown shade.

"Uh... Really?" Greg choked out, shaking off the alien sensation. "Cause they're still chasing us, just so you know?"

She shook her head once more, peering up at him with an expression that clearly stated she didn't understand.

"What? I don't... UGHN. What just happened?" She asked.

"I dunno, you looked like you were having some sort of attack, then your eyes glowed blue, now they're-"

A bevy of shots followed them, quickly turning the passenger seat to a flaming briquette.

"The heck?" Greg muttered. "I mean, I'm glad they aren't the aiming at my head anymore, but did the seat insult their mom or something?"

Dinah grew still, letting up off the gas as the engine started groaning in protest. "Eighty Five point Oh Six Percent." Her gaze whipped back up to lock eyes with Greg, "They're aiming for me," she muttered.

"Crud," Greg muttered, weaving again through comparatively slower cars as they tried to pull off the side and away from their joyriding rampage. "Just... Just stay down there. I think I have an idea. Take the wheel!"

"What? No! Get back down here! Voidah!" Dinah yelped, clasping blindly at the suddenly vacant wheel.

Greg stood up on the seat, peering backwards at the trailing cars as they effortlessly matched their current speed. If only he could reconnect that feeling from before, if only he could reach out and grab it...

By now the upper portion of the cab was little more than metal and glass Swiss cheese, more material gone than was still left. Greg reached back with one hand steadying himself with his other on the seats high back. He reached out, desperately grasping for the forward part of the leading car with his power.

He felt it slide over the internal mechanisms, and tried lifting the entire car. The weight near buckled him, slipping out of his grasp as if it were coated in butter. It was too large. He'd have to go smaller. He reached out once more, grabbing at something, anything he could grab onto. A small knob of metal met his grasp, and he yanked.

The lead cars engine let out a metallic screech, smoke billowing from the hood as it swiftly slowed to a halt.

"HA! Take that you-" Greg cut himself off, sparing a glance back down at Dinah. He had managed to not get caught swearing so far, he couldn't very well lose his stride now... What could he yell out though? All his best insults were straight swears, what was decidedly child friendly?

"You... Clods!"

Authors Notes:
Chapter six. threadmarks.
 
1.7 Interlude; Aftermath

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Miss Militia was a realistic sort. A dusky skinned patriot, she knew full well the depravities that her adopted country could stoop to. Given all that, she still felt hope for their future. A land that could reach for greatness, if only the people within it were given the chance.

She steadied her power, sighting along the barrel of her manifested rifle. One more shot, and the last of the five men fell unconscious from the tranq dart she had propelled directly into his chest.

"Last one's down," she relayed across the comms.

"Awwwwww, really? Couldn't leave even one for me?" Assault whined through the bud in her ear.

She loved the big lug, but she really would appreciate when Battery got back from her conference in Boston. Assault was amusing to be around, but he had a tendency to slowly and surely grate on the nerves of anyone he tended to be in the general vicinity of. She once had suggested it to be a slight rank one master effect, a choice which she had immediately regretted. Armsmaster was a thorough individual, but she wished he retained the ability to discern a joke.

"Yes," she retorted. "Can you secure them? I'll check the wreck to see if our two joyriders survived the crash."

"On it," Assault crowed, a blur of movement as he 'bounced' past Miss Militia and off the side of the building she had been perched on. Once he reached ground level, she could see him coming up alongside the softly sleeping group. Tinkertech 'zipties' slipped around each mans wrists, holding them behind their backs.

Miss Militia made her way to the ground -slower and more carefully than Assaults madcap descent, changing her rifle into a grappling gun before once more changing it back into a knife.- and cautiously made her way over to the ruined bulk of the upturned truck. She had seen the vehicle flip, too far to help and with Assault still in transit she was near helpless to do anything.

The men in the trailing cars had shot out the trucks rear tires, resulting in its upheaval, She had seen the driver flung from the wreck, a green tinged missle that went flying into a nearby alley. That still left the other occupant according to the anonymous call in. A person who had been run off a sidewalk said they had seen the green skinned case 53 in the drivers seat, with a young girl down between her legs to work the pedals.

Coming up on the upturned truck, she quickly liberated the unconscious girl from its' crumpled form. There was little worry about the truck exploding, and thankfully the child didn't appear to be too terribly injured. A bump on her head, perhaps a concussion. Really, it was absolutely amazing that she wasn't injured beyond a couple scrapes and bruises.

The cape -if she didn't have a brute rating- couldn't possibly be so lucky.

She lay down the girl as comfortably as she could make her, her coat bundled up beneath her head to form a makeshift pillow.

"Assault!" She called out, gaining his attention, "Stay with the girl while I check on the cape. She seems to be in good shape, just sleeping."

"Got it!" He let out in a chirpy tone whilst giving her a goofy thumbs up.

She stood up, making her way to the alley beyond. What she found there was not what she had been expecting. Instead of the green skinned cape, she found a boy. A teenager, somewhere between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, sprawled out among the trash as he sat up and painfully clutched at his forehead.

"Excuse me, are you alrig-" she started, flinching at a clatter of sound on the catwalks above. Peering up she saw a flash of movement, disappearing over the lip of the closest roof. "Excuse me," she muttered, changing her power once more into a grappling gun. A sharp retort of compressed air, and she hastily made her way to the roof above. There was nothing to be seen, the cape having made good her escape.

A bit worrying, especially regarding the fact that she saw fit to leave the young girl on her own without even checking to see if she was alright.

She made her way back to street level, pausing to see if the teenager needed any assistance. He seemed slightly familiar, but she couldn't immediately recall...

Ah yes. Gregory Damascus Veder. Online handle 'VoidCowboy'. Add or remove a few 'x's', dependent on if Tin Mother had banned another one of his paranoia spewing accounts. Investigated on suspicion of being either connected to, or being the real life identity of 'The Wrangler'. Based off corresponding assumptions shared by VoidCowboy on PHO, a team had been authorized to investigate the minor, scanning him for evidence of a Corona Pollentia and Corona Gemma. Unfortunately it was discovered that while Veder held a Corona Pollentia, he had not as of yet generated a Corona Gemma. He was not a parahuman, and as such could not possibly be the cape known as The Wrangler.

A slight application of a tinkertech drug erased the previous six hours of his and his mothers memory, leaving neither the wiser. Not harm, no foul.

The young man appeared to be unharmed, nursing what he claimed to be a 'slight bump' on his forehead. His pupils weren't dilated, so she was sure he didn't have a concussion. Beyond the rather useless testimonial of 'she ran right past me', she had no further use for him. He had asked if the other girl was unharmed, noting that he recognized her.

Dinah Alcott, Niece to the mayor. This correlated to the report of finding her parents knocked out at a local restaurant. Troublesome. It was odd that the lad had recognized her, But VoidCowboy was well known for dumpster diving through the depths of the Internet. Who knew what useless information he had filled his head up with.

Eventually a PRT van arrived, ten entire minutes before the ambulance managed to arrive.It was at this poin that the Protectorate took full responsibility on the matter. Upon questioning young Dinah Alcott after she had awoken, it was discovered that the girl was in fact a parahuman herself.

It had gone from the relatively simple case of a parahuman joyriding in a stolen vehicle, to said parahuman fleeing from assailants with tinkertech weapons, to said group of assailants attempting to murder a young duo of parahumans.

Dinah claimed she hadn't met the green parahuman before today, but she was rather frazzled. Miss Militia made a note to have Vista question her once more once they got back to HQ. Perhaps a face closer to her own age would help her unwind and feel more comfortable.

[hr]

Dinah peered out the window, looking on as the city around them whipped by.

The numbers had changed.

What once had been painfully low, now gave slightly more enthusiastic results.

'Will I survive the year if I join the Wards?'

'Seventy Three Point oh Nine.'

Whatever had happened this day had changed the numbers. It had given her a chance.

She idly scratched at her hand, stopping once she felt something unfamiliar. Lying just beneath the gloves she still wore, looted from the trucks glovebox. She peeled back the glove on her right hand, restraining a gasp as she peered down at her palm.

Looking back up at her rested a shallow dome of polished blue crystal.

The sapphires triangular facet winked in the light, glimmering with an inner icyness.[/hr]

Authors Notes:
End of the first arc. Think I should continue the reupload?
This something you all would like to read?
 
2.1 Suiting Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg pawed at his forehead, peering into the mirror before him.

It was a rock. The same one that had been on his forehead earlier.

So why was it still there, even after he had turned back?

Back in the truck as it had gone flying, Greg thought he was going to die. He sailed through the air, released what he would later -if ever confronted about it- assert was a quite manly sounding scream, and landed in a tumble of limbs in an offshoot alley. Upon regaining his senses, he sprang back to his feet in an attempt to go back and help Dinah.

Only to see that the local superheroes had arrived.

Assault -which was weird, he and Battery were usually fused at the hip. Seeing him out and about without her was just weird.- and Miss Militia -Oooh!~ was there some sort of trouble in Assault and Battery's highly supposed marriage? Greg had long assumed that they were only together as part of a sting operation, although he had never gotten any farther with his investigation. There just wasn't enough evidence to be had.- had arrived during his recovery, somehow taking out all the guys in the CRVs without a fuss.

Miss Militia pulled Dinah from the truck, and Greg let out a sigh of relief. She looked alright, Miss Militia didn't look like she was panicking so it probably wasn't even as bad as it looked. Which in turn was once again, not all that bad.

It was then that Greg felt a spike of panic.

What if she came over this way? What if she caught him, made him tell her his real name, called his mom?

That could never happen.

He saw her turn his way, so he hurriedly sprang back into the depths of the alley. This action immediately backfired on him, one of his feet landing solidly on the tail of a cat that had claimed some random chunk of trash as its lunch. The cat let out a screech only slightly quieter than Gregs own, and took off running.

Greg recoiled, slipping on a piece of garbage and slamming headfirst into the wall.

As he painfully sat up, clutching at his face, he could see the darned cat on the catwalks above him. It was quickly moving up to the top of the building, intent on escaping to the roof. Stupid cat.

Greg looked up at the telltale sounds of movement nearer him, and paused upon seeing just who had entered the alley. Miss Militia. She looked totally badass up close in Gregs opinion, American flag bandana fluttering lightly in the breeze.

It was all over. She was gonna call his mom, his mom was gonna ground him, it was all gonna be-

"Excuse me, are you alrig-" she cut herself off as she peered upwards, hearing the stupid cat make its bid for freedom up on the rooftops. "Excuse me," she repeated, changing her light knife thing into some sort of grappling gun.

Light cast, will based energy formation. Not too dissimilar to gem tech, but a great deal more unreliable. She'd have to conceptualize the format and blueprint every time she wanted to bring out a new weapon. Much simpler to save and store a design, then call it out when she needed it. She could even boost the durability of the items she made if she fortified them with already existing materials, but-

"Sir!" Miss Militia called out once again, startling Greg out of his daze. "Are you alright?"

Greg blinked owlishly at her, noticing with great relief that the arm he was cradling his forehead was his normal pale whiteness. He had turned back! But how?

"I'm fine," he settled on, as her gun reformed into a flashlight that she shone into his eyes, one after the other. "Just a small bump. Really, I did this to myself, that girl ran past me and I slipped on something. Went face first into the wall."

His probing touch stilled, fingers feeling something still attached to his forehead.

"I should probably go, let you get back to your work," he muttered half heartedly, before turning back to her, "Was that one girl you pulled out okay? I think I recognize her, Dinah Alcott? I think?" He led. There, now they had a name to go off of so she could get back to her parents safely.

"The mayors niece?" Miss Millitia replied.

"...Yes? I think?" Greg weakly responded. Miss Millitia sounded like she knew what she was talking about. He didn't know if she was the mayors niece, just what her name was.

"Fine, you can go. If you remember anything about the fleeing cape, call it in. Alright?"

"Okay."

Greg had quickly made his way home, shielding his newfound bling with a discarded ball cap he found in a pile of refuse. It was quickly apparent why the cap was left behind, it smelled like something had vomited it back up after trying to eat it. Suffice to say, it was quickly thrown out once more as soon as Greg arrived home. Three applications of shampoo later, and he swore he could still smell it on his hair.

And the damned gem.

It sat there, looking back at him from the center of his forehead. Why was it still there? He apparently had changer powers, so why couldn't he make it go away? Greg supposed he could just wear one of his own hats -no more trashcaps for him, no sireebob- or maybe a sweatband. Headbands were cool, right? He might be able to get away with wearing a bandana, but the ones he had were sadly in gang colors from a previous recruiting they had tried at the school. Greg got a free bandana, so he wasn't complaining.

"What is your deal?" He asked, poking at the offending bit of peridot.

Peridot. That's what kind of gem it was. Now that he could actually see it -going crosseyed past the edges of his eyelids hadn't helped- he could clearly identify it. Not that he was quite sure how he knew what type of rock it was. He had never been a big geo nut before, but when he saw the gem in the mirror, the name sprang unbidden to his lips. Strange.

He focused on it, trying to get the gem to activate the change to his 'power form'. Nothing. Greg found he wasn't able to manipulate metal anymore, either. Apparently it was a form dependant power only. A bummer.

"Wait," he murmured, thinking back on the last two times he had changed. "Both times was right after I had... smacked into something. With my face." Greg looked at the mirror, watching as his expression turned sour. "Well that sucks."

Greg took a second of contemplation before he put his newest test into action. Then he face palmed as hard as he could.

"Oooooowwwwwwwww," he moaned, watching as his skin turned pink and echoed the shape of his hand where it had hit his face. "Maybe it wasn't hard enough?" He posited, seeing as he hadn't turned green. Or shrunk several feet.

Greg steadied himself, then slammed his face into his bedroom wall.

"Ooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww," he whined, having quickly decided that if that even was the way he was supposed to turn back and forth, it simply wasn't worth the hassle. Lifting a hand in front of his face, he noted that it hadn't worked. "Okay, no more hitting myself in the face," he groused.

Greg got back up from where he had fallen on the ground, making his way back over to his moms full length mirror. Still a pasty skinned white boy, not a speck of green save for the rock mocking him from his forehead.

"Why won't you work!?" He snapped, jabbing a finger at the reflection.

A curious sight befell his eyes, his body twisting and shrinking in the mirror before him. With a slight flash of white light, the green skinned form stood in front of the mirror once more.

"Wait! That was," Greg trailed off, concentrating on what the transformation had felt like. He then tried to force it again, watching as he retook his original appearance. "Seriously?" He choked out, rapidly flashing between forms, "that's so easy! Why was I having so much trouble with it?"

A couple more flashes and Greg stopped, more closely inspecting himself. He had to say, he looked like a few years younger, green skinned girl. Weird. Some of the proportions didn't look quite right, but it might have just been his current perspective.

"I need a name," Greg decided, eyes locking on the gem above his eyes. "Maybe just... Peridot? It's not really informative, but it's kinda what's on the tin," he mused. "I can't just go out again like this though," he stated, eyes tracing the ridiculous looking jumpsuit onesie. "I look like a freaking kid. No one's gonna take me seriously if I don't-"

Greg froze, his mind hard at work on the task at hand. He was a tinker, what he needed was a bit of tech to his name so he could put up more of a fight than she had today. It was absolutely embarrassing, if she had only had a set of rudimentary limb enhancers she could have taken care of those thugs without breaking a sweat. If she installed some older gem tech, she could also cycle in her life energy to build up her bodily mass. It would put some strain on her reserves, but if she was careful it should be fine. She first had to whip up some robonoid bioplasm, if she had a vat or two she could even start on installing warp pads around the city-

Greg smacked himself in the face, transforming back to his human state. Was that what tinkers were like? All the time, having that much information rattling up in their heads?

He agreed with the options that had presented themselves. Somehow, making these 'limb enhancers' would not only allow him to openly carry a weapon without anyone being able to tell the difference, but if he followed the instructions the feelings had given him he might even be able to pull off looking like a normal adult.

"Tinker tech is so bullshit," he smiled, transforming once more to his shorter state. "But I have got to come up with something in the meantime. I don't think I have even half the stuff I'll need to make them anytime soon, and I sure as hell ain't going back out looking like this."

Greg put his mothers mirror back in her room, careful not to scuff it. It was easier than he thought it would be, the metal in the frame allowing him to levitate it back into place.

He retreated back to his own room, rifling through his drawers to try and find something he could cover up the tacky jumpsuit with. A small problem -ha. ha. ha.-, he quickly learned that his current plethora of clothes was simply too big for his diminished form. And he hadn't kept many things from when he was younger, in the end all he could find was a tired looking black hoody -which for some reason younger Greg had cut off the sleeves, perhaps he thought that made it look cool- and pair of boxers he had never worn.

They had green Roswell alien heads peppering the fabric, looking even kiddier than he remembered. Why the hell had he even kept this?

A niggling thought entered his head. Why not try and see how it looks?

He slipped them on over his pants/leggings/onesie, like a good superhero. All the greats wore their underwear on the outside.

A couple seconds later and Greg felt his face burn with shame. Alien boxers did not make him feel any more heroic, and if he was being honest they looked kinda silly.

He heard the front door bang closed, and in a panic transformed back. Surprised that the boxers hadn't exploded from his body expanding -in fact, they appeared to have disappeared entirely- he struck what he considered a rakish pose as his mom peered into his room.

"Hey hon, whatchu doing?" She asked, a bemused smile on her face.

"...Nothing."

Authors Notes:
Threadmarks, I know.
 
2.2 Interlude; Taylor

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Taylor leaned forward, bracing herself against the beasts movements below her. It sprang forward with each step, muscles bunching up beneath its pink tinged hide. The ground underneath them passed with frightening alacrity, distance being eaten up with each paw that fell upon the earth.

The beast, the lion had only approached her after she had triggered, revealing itself in a roar of sound that Taylor had been worried would bring the hands of the Protectorate down upon her. Thankfully, nothing had come of it. She was safe.

The lion didn't appear to contain a higher than average intelligence, at some times showing off tendencies of a housecat but at other times showed a disturbing capacity to understand what she was saying. It had shown her secrets, powers that itself had possessed. Some form of hammer space contained within the confines of his mane. Within she had found several weapons, photographs, sets of armor, among other random bits and bobs.

In addition to its Breaker abilities, the lion could apparently run as fast as a car, if not faster. It was quite an accident that she learned the giant ball of pink fluff could also teleport, in a fashion. It would let out a short roar, casting a wormhole in front of it. Taylor found this method of traversal to be rather comforting, a memory of her mothers hug embracing her.

All the abilities that she had seen of the lion, all the new powers she had discovered within herself...

Still, she felt incomplete. The form her power gave her was appreciated, a disguise that hid her true face from the world. But her power still whispered to her, empty, separate. There was still something she had not done, something she needed to do.

This led her to her current outing, in the middle of the night. She needed quiet, obscurity, safety.

She must be allowed to work without distractions, if she was interrupted she didn't know how that would affect the experiment.

Finally arriving in an empty park a fair distance from her home, she dismounted from her rose tinted ride.

"Stay," she ordered, "Guard me while I work." The lion gave a keening purr, curling up on the ground as it closed its eyes. Despite a its appearance, she knew that it would know if someone or something came within range long before she did.

She followed the pull of her power, leading deep inside. She knelt deep to the loose earth, feeling the cool clods of dirty beneath her hands.

She pushed.

The energy deep within seeped out into the earth, slowly incubating into form. She stayed like this for hours, shaping the life she was creating as to her will. She was working with substandard material, but it would suffice for her first work. Finally, as the rays of the sun slowly crept up beyond the edge of the horizon, she was done.

She stepped back, watching as the body within the pit before her slowly raised itself from the worlds embrace. The earth around it had adopted an ashy, grey appearance as all plants in their radius withered and died. It seemed the energy she supplied was not enough, if she wanted to continue growing her manpower without anyone noticing she would have to take her work out of the city eye. Completing the procedure in the middle of a park was foolish in hindsight, anyone could happen upon the hole her creation had left.

The orange skinned humanoid stood up looking Taylor straight in the eye. "Yes?" It let out.

It was as her power had hypothesized. The creations she would make would not be infants out of the womb. She could supply them with a measure of general knowledge, to be tempered and grown further by experience though life.

She turned from the thin looking gemwoman, drawing the attention of her more animalistic companion. "Lion, up and at'em."

The lion let out a short yawn, getting to its feet with a languid stretch.

Taylor hopped up on his back, turning back to her creation.

"Jasper. Get on." She didn't want to overwhelm the new lifeform, so decided to stick to short one word commands.

The orange skinned humanoid looked on, before giving her a short nod. "Yes," she aquiesed, giving Taylor a deep bow as she lowered her head.

"My Diamond."

Authors Notes:
What's that? Threadmarks? Plumb forgot them.
 
2.3 Suiting Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg watched as the last of his available spending money disappeared into the cashiers register. Three hundred, ninety four dollars. Two whole months of working part time at the movie theatre closest to his home. Minus what he had frivolously spent on video games.

All to buy supplies.

Twenty tubes of jumbo sized, mint infused toothpaste. The base for what would quickly cure into his first batch of bioplasm. The other materials needed for the gunk were harder to acquire, forcing Greg to traipse back and forth from store to store. He even had to visit the local Asian market for a handful of the more obscure ingredients.

Greg had put off transforming again once his mom had gotten home, worried that she might accidentally stumble in on him. Really, being grounded would be the least of his worries, if his mom knew he turned into something so small and -shudder- cute looking...

Greg shuddered, repressing a full body shiver. She would pull out the camera, that was for certain. Then would come the themed poses, then... He didn't even want to think about it.

He had decided to sleep on it, see if anything else crawled out of the woodwork. Thankfully he hadn't changed back while he slept, but he awoke with the barest recollection of a slightly odd dream.

"I don't get why we have to through with this, it's not like we'd make all that big of a difference."

"We can't deviate from the plan. You know what she saw, you know what they're capable of. If we don't do it, they'll all suffer."

"They don't need us!"

"You can't change my mind, I'm doing this. With, or without you."

"But... Lapis..."

Greg had awoken from his slumber covered in a sheen of cold sweat, a vague sense of sadness deep in his gut. He couldn't decipher what the two voices had been speaking of, nor could he recall why they sounded so familiar. He had quickly put them from his mind, getting ready to go about his daily business. Saturday, the day of rest. Or, as Greg was currently proving, the day of working your ass off in order to get your foot in the proverbial door.

He had work at two, so he wanted to get as much done as possible before he had to report in. If he was late again, his supervisor said he'd get written up. Stingy bastard.

Walking home was relatively uneventful, beyond seeing a homeless person urinating on a building. The fact that it was a woman was slightly off putting, Greg had to admit.

Once he reached home, he wove his way as carefully as he could though the house in an attempt to avoid waking his mom. She usually slept in till nine on Saturdays, so he still had about twenty minutes to go.

Depositing his wealth in a series of plastic tupperware tubs, Greg careful meted out the given materials and started the curing process. Siphon a bit of energy from his gem into the containers... Now all he had to do was wait.

What did he want to do with the rest of his time? What could he do? All he could do here was wait for the bioplasm to finish, and really until then anything he did would just be so much kicking his feet.

Greg took to the Internet, his second home and wide reaching blanket of comfort. Trying to find anything about the altercation that had occurred yesterday, he came across a surprising bit of information. Apparently the men chasing them were found to be a part of a 'terroristic sedition group'. Sounded like as much of a coverup as anything else. Vague, and altogether pointless information. Might as well have claimed them to be a group under the employ of Barney the Dinosaur.

Beyond that, Greg hit a pleasant surprise. While Dinahs name was ommitted from the official report, the PRT hinted that a prospective member of the wards had been involved. The tentatively titled 'Forecast', as unimaginatively named as they had tried to saddle her with. Greg hoped she managed to pull a Clockblocker and come up with something cooler.

There wasn't much more to do. Sparky was bound to sleep in till noon, so no good would come of calling him up yet. He'd see him once he went in for work anyway, and they'd have plenty of time to talk afterwards. Greg decided that if there was one person in the world he could confide in, it'd be Sparky. He had never let him down. Guy was a bit of a pothead, but that was as far as he ever went. Was half his investigative force for his ongoing campaign to enlighten the ignorant online masses, to boot.

Every hero needed a sidekick, after all. He had tentatively cued Dinah up for that slot, but it looked like she was firmly enmired in the depravity of the consipiracy that the PRT perpetuated in their shadow wars.

A moment of silence for her innocent soul.

Maybe he could give her a call, see if she would be willing to jump ship and join forces with a kickass tinker? Not that he had much to his name yet but a couple dozen Tupperware containers filled with semi inert ooze.

Kickass.

He could still try to give her a call and see if she was doing okay. He felt a mite sheepish that he hadn't struck around but with the heroes there his instinctive fight or flight response kicked in something fierce. They looked like they had everything under control, anyway.

Greg reached for the corded phone next to his bed, flinching back at the last second. He couldn't very well call from his house, they'd trace it back to him in an instant. Late night tv had taught him that, at least.

He had crank called the local Protecterate a total of two times, mostly due to boredom, and slightly due to curiosity. Both times he had been smart enough to do it from a pay phone, and both times he had quickly retreated to watch from afar. The first time nobody came, but the second time Armsmaster had shown up.

Needless to say, Greg had booked it. Didn't know how long ol Armsy had stuck around, but he knew fair well that it took him only roughly two minutes to track the call and arrive. So he'd have to be careful with the situation if he went through with this.

He decided to go through with it.

"This might not be the smartest idea," he admitted, staring down at the bulk of the payphone. He hadn't needed to insert any change, the Protectorate call line being under the emergency number listings. "Shit," he muttered, looking around wildly as a niggling thought entered his head.

His voice probably wasn't the best to use in this call, if a guys voice called to ask how Dinah was doing when it had been what looked like a girl that had been riding with her... Better not to let the governments secret think tank of enslaved thinkers have any more information than they already had.

No one around, the payphone he had chosen was reasonably out of the way, wedged just between E88 and ABB territory. Just close enough that no one ever visited, just far enough away that most gangers steered clear for fear of traipsing into a rival gang.

Greg changed, wincing as his chin narrowly missed the lip on the bottom of the phones casing. Stupid short body. Stupid freakishly tall phone. Why didn't they make them for short people, huh? This was a tragedy against the vertically challenged!

Greg dialed, using his magnikinises to dial the numbers and levitate the receiver down into his waiting hand. It shouldn't interfere with the electronics within. At least, it shouldn't.

"Protectorate hotline, what's your emergency?" a bored voice came from the earpiece, sounding as if he had been speaking the practiced line for years on end.

Poor guy.

"No emergency," Greg stated, settling on a similar bored tone to the mans, mixing it slightly with haughty 'better than thou'. Anything to further confuse the government, and the people within it. No reason to make it easy, after all. "This is Peridot, new cape. I was involved with a slight altercation yesterday, I was calling in to ask if Dinah Alcott is alright? I kinda had to leave sooner than I wanted, wasn't able to see how she fared..."

"Uh," came the sudden, hurried response from the man. A flurry of fluttering papers sounded over the line, indicating that the guy was searching for something. Probably the secret tracking codes that they used to keep track of illegal downloaders. Or mimes. "Just a second miss, I think I have to... yeah, just a second, I'll transfer you over."

The line went silent for as second, before a cheesy muzak track started playing. Greg suppressed a groan, holding the phone away from his ear. Just one of the tactics they plyed to jerk around the little guy. Next they would send his call back to the first guy and have him 'transfer' him again, or they would ping pong him back and forth between two operators. Three if they especially wanted to try and bamboozle him as to the truth of their actions.

Classic government,

"Armsmaster speaking," came a thick, brusque voice across the line as the muzak cut out suddenly. Greg stood stock still, staring at the handset in shock. They actually put him through? Huh. He thought he was going to have to play keep away with the jerks, hopping from phonebooth to phonebooth as they tried to set him up with a phony charge of obstruction or something. "Hello?"

Greg snapped out of his reverie, realizing that he had been leaving the man on the other end of the line in silence.

"Apologies," Greg let out, using his new voice to mask his discomfort. When all else fails, pretend to be better than everyone else! The Internet had taught him that, had won him many an online argument over some useless bit of drivel. "I was checking on something while I waited," he lied. Not like Armsy would be able to tell, it was a harmless little fib. "This is Peridot. I'm calling in to check up on Dinah Alcott?" He continued, trying to keep his tone clinical. Any measure of disconnect he could manage would only be one more block in the wall of his eventual disguise.

He was so clever. Greg deserved a cookie. What's that Greg, were you a smart boy? Yes you is.

Greg barely managed to avoid patting himself on the back, turning his attention back to the conversation at hand.

"Peridot... Am I speaking to Voidah?" Armsmaster asked, his tone coming across as slightly disbelieving.

"Yes," Greg admitted. "I decided a simpler nomenclature would be more fitting with my image. The void null energy tech I was working on never really went anywhere, so keeping the name 'Voidah' really didn't make any sense, I'm sure you understand?" First rule of bullshitting someone. Sound like you knew what the hell you were talking about. If you let even a mote of indecision poke through, the haters and flamers would leap on you in an instant. And then the hangers on would group up behind whoever it looked like was winning and the the whole thing would snowball from there.

Greg was sure that was how real life worked.

"I... Yes," came the tentative response. "Miss Alcott is unharmed from yesterday's activities, although she was slightly shaken up about the events. Can I expect you to come in for a debriefing?"

Greg paused, wondering how much time had passed. A minute and a half, certainly.

"I don't think so," he denied, thinking furiously. He was trying to stall him, obviously. "My recounting of what happened yesterday isn't needed, and you wouldn't receive any new information that you hadn't already gotten from our young Alcott. I just wanted to check in, make sure she made it out in good spirits."

"It take it from Miss Alcott that you are aware of her... Abilities?"

"Of course," Greg responded instantly. "While our time together was brief, I became well aware of why her attackers were pursuing us." There, try to claim information whilst giving none away. That way he couldn't try to throw this back in his face with assertions that he was trying to 'unmask' a cape in a public setting.

Greg was no dummy.

"I see." A rote of silence followed, to such an extent that Greg wondered if the hero had hung up. "Miss Alcott is currently staying on the Rig for her own protection, she has voiced concern over your well being. Would you be willing to come in then, to put her worries at ease?"

Greg pulled the receiver away from his mouth. What a heavy handed play. Greg would have to be an utter and complete moron to fall for that.

[hr]

Gregs eye twitched, currying the past conversation over once more in his head.

Apparently he was an idiot.

He was currently standing in the middle of an elevator, deep within the confines of the sea bound Rig. Their headquarters, safe behind a force field that they were obviously using to block transmissions to earth Aleph. And Gimmel. And Lamed. And all the others they didn't want the hard working American to know about. Commie bastards.

Heading down, a rando agent at his side as the cramped space headed towards the Wards floor.

"My daughter is about your age," the agent mused out loud, probably trying to make small talk in an ill thought out attempt to endear them to him.

Greg hastily decided on his response, deciding to go with, "You don't look nearly old enough to have a daughter my age. Unless there was some form of genetic kerfuffle going about with your birth? Perhaps taking your genetic code to inseminate and create your offspring before you yourself were born?"

The man looked taken aback, mouth flapping open as he tried to form a response.

"Changer," Greg finally supplied, allowing the man to let out the breath he had been holding.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to assume," the man hurriedly rushed to apologize.

"No matter," Greg cut him off, "I know what I look like. It is of course an unfortunate side effect, but I'm currently well under way to alleviating my own discomfort."

"I... Of course." The agent said, ending the stilted conversation as they continued on in silence.

The elevator stopped, the door refusing to open immediately. Made sense, if she was designing this floor she would have the door remain closed for about twenty seconds, to a full minute. Would give her and anyone else behind the doors to slip a mask on, no telling when a rogue fan or an over eager photographer would make their grand sneaking escapade onto the Rig.

There were Strangers out there, people who could literally turn invisible. Better safe than sorry.

"The doors remain shut so anyone out of mask has time to put them on," the agent oh so helpfully supplied.

Drat, that meant Greg had been wrong. No way they would just up and tell him what the reason was. Probably had the Wards section in some sort of folded spacial region that they had to build up their generators to bridge the connection to the closed off space.

Yeah, that sounded more likely.

The doors finally opened, showing off a reasonably normal looking lounge area. Obviously the transition room for people to sit and jaw, then send off their unwanted visitors with relative ease. With the door right here, they could potentially just kick them from the couch!

Greg let himself have a slight smile, before a distinctive missle of brown haired mass collided with him.

"Voidah!" A familiar voice crowed, a young girl in a cheapo plastic mask standing before him. She stopped, looking down at his legs. "What the heck are you wearing?"

Greg looked down, wondering what the hell she was on about. He was wearing the same thing she had seen him wearing before, the dumb looking onesie-

He was still wearing the alien boxers. Shiiiiiiit.

Roll with it.

"What," he smoothly responded, not missing a beat as he looked her in the eye. Words sprang unbidden to his lips, but they felt right so he wasn't too perturbed. "You don't like my appearance modifier?"

Authors Notes
One more thing? Oh, threadmarks.
 
2.4 Suiting Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg held the teacup daintily in his hand, silently judging it as he patiently waited for the hot liquid within it to cool to acceptable temperatures. It was a shoddily made, mass produced piece of plastic, formed from substandard materials that had resulted in the cups plastic to warp on one side. It was barely noticeable, but he had noticed. It appeared that this cup was the worst off in the set, the other three being displayed around him of similar quality but not so much rigorous use.

"So how are your new accommodations treating you?" Greg asked, blowing the at the surface of his tea before he took a sip. The tea tasted odd. Not bad, just... odd.

Dinah looked up from her own cup, almost spilling it in the process. "Oh! It's... nice..." She paused, taking a sip before she started again. "Kinda sterile, though. Almost forget it's technically a military base at points, but then the little cubby hole rooms just kick the realization right back at you," she groused. "The living quarters are small, but apparently they were 'never really designed for civilian living conditions' in the first place," she stated, enunciating her point by jabbing forward with her cup.

Greg spared a glance at the small puddle of tea that had hit the floor. Dinah must have wanted ants, cause that's how you got ants.

"The others are really nice, except Shadow Stalker," she continued.

"Little miss Edgelord?" Greg joked, filing away that little bit of trivia. It was always suspected that Shadow Stalker wasn't exactly the most up and up person, theories and rumors about how she had been inducted into the Wards following certain untoward events. Anything from punching a homeless man in the face to slaughtering a fifteen man group from the E88 followed her continued participation with the wards. She just didn't have the displayed demeanor of a hero, not even an antihero. She wasn't even all that cool like batman, she just came off as a poser.

Dinah let loose a sharp snort of laughter, creating another spot of spilled tea on the floor. She was going to piss off the janitors, at any rate.

"She's a total bitch!" Dinah agreed, surprising Greg with her brashness. "She took one look at me and immediately bad mouthed me. Thinks she's so cool, just cause she's tall and has tits..." she trailed off, almost prompting Greg to launch his own load of boiled leaf water onto the floor. "

"I'm sure... Whatever it is she said, she didn't mean it. Tensions are probably just high. Being a highschool student isn't exactly the most relaxing vocation, mind you..."

"How did you know she was in highschool?" Dinah asked, screwing up her nose in confusion.

"Elementary, my dear Watson!" Greg crowed, adjusting his nonexistent monocle. "First and foremost, she is a ward. I realize this in and of itself is not a solid indicator of ones age, yourself and own personal little green suited space warping terror as evidence to the contrary..." Dinah huffed, sticking out her tongue at Greg. "But when added to the fact that she stands at about five six, five seven that in and of itself indicates that she has most likely already underwent her primary pubecence state, leaving her around her optimum height in growth. And since she has reached such a height that is in and of itself an indicator of her age. Therefor, highschool. Elementary, you see."

Greg took a deep draw of his tea, daintily sticking his pinky out in jest.

"You are such a dork," Dinah finally responded.

"A whale penis am I?" Greg retorted, "Well an elephants kneecap are you."

Dinah laughed again, a tinkling sound that echoed in the room around them.

"The others aren't so bad," Dinah continued, scratching her elbow, "Vista seemed relieved that there was finally another girl on the team-"

"Edgelord didn't count, I'm guessing?" Greg supposited.

"Stop, it's gonna come out my nose again," Dinah pleaded, before wiping at her mouth. "No, seems M-... Vista is just as disillusioned with her as I am. With how she treated me just seconds after meeting me, I'd hate to think about how she treats her day in and day out... Aegis is pretty cool, if a bit... wooden. Seems to take the 'leader' role too damned seriously. Clockblocker is a hoot, if a bit of an ass. He's here this morning, pulling moniter duty. Kid Win is alright, if a bit weird. Always goes on and on about tinkertech and stuff..." Dinah suddenly gasped, fixing Greg with a dour stare. "I'm not gonna have to worry about that with you, am I?"

Greg lifted a chastising hand, waving away her concerns. "No, no. I'm perfectly well able to read the room and not go on about frivolous matters," he lied. This 'pretending to be an old person' bit was absolutely exhausting. Greg had no idea how old timers managed to remain aloof and so... Matter of fact, all the damned time. It was draining, and Greg was worried his thin veneer would slip at the slightest provocation. "If you ever engage me on a certain topic though, I might just talk your ear off."

"Not my ears!" Dinah squealed, covering one with her off hand, "My elephants kneecap will be so lonely without them!" She laughed.

Greg took another sip, inspecting the room around them.

Metal walls, easy to manufacture and install. Piecemeal and modular, like constructing a Lego set. Any low labor grunt could have a room like this done in hours. Greg could even see the solder work in one of the rooms corners, indicating a rushed job. This section of the Rig probably had been converted from an emergency barracks at the start, new rooms being added on after the fact. Air conditioner inset in the wall, pumping in a steady stream of air. Possibly could be used to deliver a dose of sleeping gas, in case someone managed to sneak in. Cameras poked out of the ceiling, little dome shaped caps that allowed them three sixty degree coverage. Probably were recording this conversation, as well. Vouyeristic perverts.

"Wait, we not only get the ice queen but also a rule sixty three Gumby?" A new voice crowed out, prompting Greg to focus on the newcomer. Said newcomer plopped down in the armchair across from him, pouring himself a cup of tea as he tried to find a comfortable position. He wore a sweatshirt adorned with clocks, a simple looking helmet/mask combo covering the upper part of his face and the entirety of his scalp.

"Do I need to go find Vista, Clock?" Dinah stated in a careful tone. "I'm sure even though it's early, she'd be more than willing to execute maneuver 'slap Clockblocker upside the head', wouldn't you say?"

"Jeesh, you see what I have to live with?" The new cape joked, shrugging his shoulders. "Make a simple joke and everyone jumps down your throat! Agh, hot," he exclaimed, blowing on his tea.

"Maybe if you were more careful with what words you slung about so carelessly, small capes with access to the back of your skull would be less inclined to introduce their open palm to it so often," Greg calmly stated, watching Clockblocker over the lip of his cup.

The cape didn't react as he had thought he would, letting loose a rip of laughter as he narrowly avoided upending his cup upon the floor. It was already a lost cause at this point, the ants would be coming and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

"Now that's the kind of spunk we need on the team! Shadow never laughs at my jokes," he explained, adopting a mournful expression, "You seem like a sweet chick, it's nice to meet ya! I'm Clockblocker, but you probably already know that," he stated, smirking as he extended his hand in greeting, "I'm kinda famous. The magnificent Clockblocker! Blocker... Of clocks!"

Greg supressed a laugh, keeping his expression steady through a monumental force of will. He eyed the hand, giddiness dancing in his gut. An actual hero wanted to shake hands with him? Kickass. Greg would never wash that hand again, he'd be able to chop it off and steel it on eBay for millions.

He took the boys hand in his own, giving it a short shake, as he was starting to draw back, he felt a small charge of... 'Energy' for lack of a better word, racing up his arm and over his entire body. This sensation was quickly swallowed up by the gem on his forehead, returning his senses to normal.

"Please tell me you didn't," Dinah sighed, cradling her forehead as the temperature dropped several degrees.

"I had to ice queen! It's tradition!" Clockblocker crowed.

"What's tradition?" Greg asked, fixing him with a speculative gaze.

The poor boy yelped, eyes whipping back to stare at Greg as his cheaply made plastic cup clattered to the ground as the liquid within drained across the floor. "What? I... How? I froze you!"

Greg stared at the cape, disbelief at the edges of his thoughts.

"Obviously you seem to be suffering from some form of performance anxiety," Greg quipped, watching as Dinahs fought to keep down her tea. Clockblockers face retained its open mouthed expression of 'what the hell', but it was harder to tell his emotions due to the stupid looking mask. "I'm told they sell pills for that."

"Ew, gross," Dinah finally settled on.

"What's with the ice queen thing?" Greg asked, tilting his head to the side. "You haven't been being mean to poor little Clocky here, have you?" He teased.

"Ooh!" Dinah let out, putting down her cup as she lowered her right hand to the table. It was at this moment that Greg noticed something slightly odd. She was still wearing the badly fitting gloves she had stolen from the truck. Oh well, if she wanted to keep spoils of her past victories, who was he to keep that from her? "No, that little joke is what De-... 'Clocky' here wants me to take as my superhero name. Watch this!"

She pushed against the table, her hand glowing under the glove with an Inner blue light. Greg stared as a sheen of ice slowly crept outwards from her hand, freezing the liquid in her cup solid almost instantly. She looked back up at Greg, smiling victoriously.

"Ha, take that! Ice beats magnets!"

Authors Notes:
So, I started off this chapter with Dinah showing Greg around, showing off her room, meeting SS manning the console as some sort of weekend punishment. It didn't feel right, so I scrapped it. I then wrote a couple paragraphs of Dinah introducing her straight off to Kid Win (if the main character is a tinker in any capacity, I've noticed that authors tend to shove their MC at KW almost immediately so they can tell him his specialty and then he can be 'happiez'. ) but that came off as stilted and wonky.

Then I started wrighting what I thought was just going to be a couple jokes paragraphs, to help shake out the cobwebs. Greg and Dinah, having a little tea party.

Well paint me surprised, it doesn't look horrible.
and yes, threadmarks.
 
2.5 Suiting Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg thought over the conclusion of his visit to the Rig, musing slightly as he moved his broom back and forth in a mechanical pattern. He definitely could have handled that differently, if not better. There was much valuable information to be had, though.

Greg tucked his hat back down farther on his forehead, sliding it uncomfortably over the entirety of his gem. That possessiveness had slowly grown on him, switching from him thinking of the gem as 'that gem' to 'MY gem'. It slightly irked him to learn that covering up his gem felt more annoying than leaving it bare to the air. It felt at times like he was trying to cover his eyes, or ears. Like he was trying to blind himself. Didn't make any sense to him, but the feeling lingered.

After meeting Clockblocker -who had proceeded to attempt to freeze him several more times, unsuccessfully,- their discussion had become decidedly more pointed. They were of the thought process that either Greg was joining the wards, or it was 'expected' of them to give him a Wards pitch.

Learning that he was in 'fact' too old to join the Wards -Greg was loving the changer excuse, it was practically a get out of jail free card- had brought its own host of irritations. Dinah had predictably gotten upset, as slight as it had been. She had obviously assumed that Greg was of the same age, and even thought it was only a couple years in reality she had trouble thinking of Greg as old as he had claimed.

Of which he pointedly ommitted.

No reason, once more to give the Man any more information 'he' didn't already have. Greg remembered the cameras inset in the ceiling, and had pointed them out with a smile and the 'mysteriously' phrased statement 'A lady has to keep a secret or two' after Dinah had asked his true age.

At least she had been more polite than Clockblocker. Kid had just up and belted out the question with little aplomb, left Greg internally screaming as he scrambled for a believable answer. Thankfully he hadn't needed to, immediately proceeding his question Dinah had slapped him upside his head. Sure, she had struck his dumb looking mask, but she hadn't hurt her hand too horribly. Probably earned him another swat once Greg left.

"Oy, Veder!" Came the voice of his supervisor. Greg paused in his work, dumping a tray of trash into the can beside him. "Some asshole took a dump in theatre six. You're up this time, Vosely is next, then Arben. Got it?"

"Got it," Greg admitted, dreading his future task. He'd be more annoyed that Ashley didn't seem to realize he was doing this job for the past year and therefor KNEW everything there was to know about the cycle chart, but he didn't even have the heart for that at this point in time. He had much more important things to think about.

Clockblocker had offered a short tour around the Wards rooms as a bit of an empty apology, Dinah having been already given a cursory tour the day before. It was pretty standard, each ward apparently had a small sleeping space set aside, with a desk and integrated lamp as well as a wall mounted telephone.

Greg noted with subdued interest that each room had the ceiling mounted cameras.

It was upon passing a certain enlarged room that Greg had been filled with an overwhelming curiosity.

"And on our left, you can see the spacious and luxurious workspace of Kid Win-" was as far as Clockblocker got before Greg had already unknowingly walked inside.

He had walked up to a table amid a strangled 'hey!' from Clockblocker, before picking up a piece of obviously unfinished tech. He had then thrown it over his left shoulder in contempt.

This was the workspace of the premier tinker Ward in Brockton Bay? Greg supposed there was always Gallant to fall back on, but he had his own suspicions on the Ward. He bet based off Gallants suit that it was just supplied him by Armsmaster and Kid Win. It was obvious if you thought about it, the beams he shot out of his hands were secretly an outward side effect of his inherent vampirism. He ate the emotions of those around him, which was why they made a suit that would make it so he could only do it in controlled beams!

Made perfect sense.

Kid Wins tech was... Insulting. It started easily and comprehensively enough, but the farther along it got in production the more muddled its creation became. In a simpler explanation, it was like KW started making a hairdryer, and forgot halfway through. He desperately tried to recall what it was he had been making, and instead tried to build off of what he had to make something completely different. Using the blueprint for a bulldozer he tried to continue, starting the process over again before he finally arrived at his finished product.

A flashlight, for example. But insides so cluttered with redirected power couplings that it was wasting three times as much power as it needed, if the power even made it where it was supposed to go in the first place. He had power rerouted from the battery through seven different circuit boards in one piece he picked up, for goodness sakes.

It was only after seeing Dinah nod in understanding at his description that Greg realized he had been voicing his complaints in a perfectly audible, clear voiced fashion.

He had quickly excused himself from the young tinkers lab, asking the two Wards not to say anything to Kid Win under the pretense that he didn't want to be rude. He didn't really care if he was rude to Kid Win in actuality, while the Ward was cool it was primarily his fault that the entirety of the nation didn't have hover boards yet. One copywrite and suddenly no one else can reproduce them. Freaking buerocrats.

The cameras in the ceiling worried him, however. If KW so much as looked back over his logs upon finding his tech in different places than he had left them, he'd have a very clear video of a green skinned cape bad mouthing him in front of two of his teammates. That might complicate future meetings between the two of them.

Greg drew his attention back to the task at hand, a soapy bucket of water in one hand and a copious amount of cleaning products tucked under his other arm. Some people just were sickening.

Leaving the Rig had been a less than stellar affair, the same agent that had picked him up in a black van being the one to drop him back off at the same payphone. Past that point, Greg had made his way out of the public eye for a chance to change back. He had had one straggler, a balding man in a business suit that if he had wanted to be any more obvious in following him would have worn a glowing fluorescent sign. Greg had simply turned a corner, changed back, and nearly ran into the guy.

A copious amount of ineffectual cussing had sent the guy on his way, some assertions that Greg 'knew a guy' and that the guy 'should be careful in their territory'.

It was far enough away from both sects that it could be either gang claiming territory, but of course... Greg was white. Quite visibly not Asian. So hopefully he didn't cause a bit of a turf war over someone not even of the gangs claiming that a certain stretch of street was 'theirs'.

Greg didn't worry too much, all three gangs claimed that Winslow was 'theirs' yet nothing ever came of it.

He didn't follow the man like he had wanted, quoting the proverb of precaution. He could stalk him again later, maybe. At the very least, Greg hadn't been forced to use his super secret escape procedure so he could hold it in reserve for the future. Being a coastal city, Brockton Bay had a plethora of storm sewers installed to get rid of the excess of water that rained nearly every other day. Thankfully these tunnels were much cleaner than their name suggested, providing a perfect getaway. If you had the specially made tools to lever and lift the manhole covers, or like Greg you had an ability that could lift metal on your side!

Not that Greg had currently tried and seen if he could lift the things yet. He could lift metal, therefor he could lift the covers. So he hoped.

He had arrived at the theatre before his shift, so he just slummed in the second half of an ongoing movie. Couldn't even talk to Sparky, apparently his friend had been called away for a family emergency. Something in Montana. Oh well, he could talk to him once he got back.

Which led to his current least favorite activity.

The bastard hadn't even had the courtesy to do it on the floor, in a scene of sick fascination he somehow gotten his offal in both cup holders of his seat, as well as along the head of the seat.

Greg hoped that Tom had tased him like the last guy.

Ooh! A taser inset in the arm casing, geared with a variable output to ramp up for brutes! That could work.

[hr]

The week passed slowly, the days of school lingering like a turgid bath of filth that constantly slid over his skin. The gangers were all irritable, some talk of a new group of capes that had hit several groupings of their compatriots. Rumors and whisperings on PHO, but nothing solid. Most fantastical of such claims were from of the gangers that they were attacked by a woman riding a pink skinned lion. Throwing pink energy shields like frisbees. Shadowy minions that crept from the woodwork knocked them out from behind. Sounded like either Shadow Stalker was up to her old tricks, or something new was on the proverbial table.

Greg thought it might be Mouse Protector. She used a shield. And it would be just like her to try and stir up something absurd like a pink lion. Why she was in the area and not as herself was a tougher pill to swallow, but Greg was sure he'd come up with something.

The trio continued their ongoing 'game' of torture against his brazen haired goddess, and it was with this that Greg had his first focus.

Tuesday, and his bioplasm was ready. A semi molecular solution, which could be used to repair gem technology. How Greg had come to this conclusion, he wasn't sure. Tinkers=Bullshit, he guessed. But he could also use the ooze to create the shell, the '''circuits' and 'logic boards' for his creations. It only took a little ingenuity and in some cases the addition of premade molds and materials, and he could proceed with his plans.

He had swept aside his initial designs for his 'limb enhancers', intent on his more immediate goals.

Drones.

Specifically, the 'traditional' robonoid model that his power supplied him with. Their initial design was perfectly serviceable, but if he wanted them getting around he needed them to be a bit more discrete. The schematics that flew into his mind made sense, although the derision that followed did not.

What did he truly care if the 'outdated' and 'flawed' stealth systems he was implementing were useless against other gems, that they would be just as visible to them as to other modern gem technology?

He was the only one who had a gem! Sometimes Gregs power made him laugh at its rigid foolishness.

By the end of the night, an old toaster and their microwave had bravely sacrificed their parts and metal casings for more important considerations. Sure, his mom would notice sooner or later, but he'd take that once he came to it.

As an afterthought, Greg had a secondary primary started, a base for a teleporting system. The 'warp pads'. They were straightforward in construction, all he had to do was make sure they inlaid to the planets natural energy streams and they should function properly. Of course, he realized the main problem of them right off the bat. They were mostly stationary, and couldn't be used for dynamic combat purposes in the middle of a fight. He could link a temporary pad to the main grid, a small disk the size of a dinner plate that would unfortunately shatter upon use. Slightly disappointing, but fortunate for a quick getaway if he needed one.

Slightly disappointing as well was the knowledge that the pads couldn't be activate by anyone other than himself. Well, anyone with a gem actually could activate them, but Greg was the only one so that point was slightly redundant. A niggling feeling in the back of his head itched at that thought, but Greg brushed it away. Anyway, his plans of offering their use for Endbringers events was slightly hamstrung by the fact that he was the only one who could use them. He could bring non organic material or living beings through the transfer -if what his power was telling him was to be believed- but he alone was the only thing that could initiate the transfer.

Wednesday. He had one of his stealth robonoids following Taylor around for most of the day, recording the abuse that was heaped upon her daily. There were a couple times that he could have sworn his crush had stared straight at his robonoid with a confused expression, but she hadn't raised a fuss and no one else seemed the wiser. His newly upgraded phone cached the video proof, each act from the unrepentant trio boiling Gregs blood ever higher. The gem based memory chip was perfectly capable of holding several terabytes of data, topping at just under eight. It would be more than enough.

Friday night, he had finally captured enough footage over last three days. He compiled the video and shortened it down to just under two hours. Two hours of toxic abuse. It made him sick, to think they did this everyday. No more. No longer, this would be his first truly thought out act as a legitimate superhero. You didn't have to go out every night and punch bad guys in the dick, this would be just as helpful in the long run.

It would cause Taylor some embarrassing attention in the short term, but in the long run she would be safe. No more bullies, maybe they'd even shunt the bitches off to juvie. He could only hope.

He seeded several servers across the coast with his completed video, uploading it to nine thousand, eight hundred and seventy six -Greg felt this had a comedically straight number to it. For what reasons this occurred to him he hadn't the slightest.- separate YouTube and Facebook accounts. In addition, he added links to the PUBLIC record of the police report that had been filed following Taylor's hospitalization after the locker incident. Why that had been thrown out and the only thing the Heberts had gotten out of it had been a stupefyingly low settlement Greg hadn't the foggiest clue. That was some grade A corruption bullshit going on there.

Finally, for about three minutes at the start of the local eight o'clock news on channel ten the first segment of the video played whilst the poor bastards at the radio station tried to pull it.

Underneath the video ran a URL to Gregs new YT account, with the original video safe behind several layers of virtual protection. Even if some enterprising hacker tried to take down the video it would be reuploaded almost instantly. Any strikes or takedowns would be rerouted to some skinhead in his class that uploaded upskirt videos. It would serve him right.

His new channel and PHO name was titled simply. Same as his cape name, Peridot. This was it, there was no turning back now.

His mark one limb enhancer lay on the table before him, bulky and physically unimpressive. It was technically usable, and could be used as an information hub to control his robonoids -which now numbered seven! It was easier to keep making them once he got the others to help construct their new siblings.- and could perhaps be used to give him a brute one rating. Perhaps a brute two. Maybe not, that would be pushing it. He had tried to make it look more impressive by putting spikes along its length, but in the end it looked rather 'try-hard'.

It would have to do for now.

Greg leaned back in his chair, stretching towards the ceiling. He would see if the improved power cells were ready for conversion into his waiting robonoids, but if the casings need to be redone then-

"God fucking damnit Greg!" His mothers voice echoed down the hallway. "What did you do to the fucking microwave!??!"

...

Oh, shit.
Limb enhancer, Mark One]
 
2.6 Interlude; Armsmaster

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Armsmaster was many things. A studious Individual who had long since broken near every bone in his body in the pursuit of physical mastery. A cantankerous individual who didn't truly understand the people around him so was forced to emulate and stagger from conversation to conversation like an unfeeling zombie. An unparalleled Tinker, whose works were lauded in some cases as the best in the nation.

Aside from Patchwork out of Wisconson. That hack had been stealing his designs for years, even if he couldn't prove it. Dragon didn't count, and he had no desire to pit his works against her. For some reason he couldn't really fathom he wanted her to... 'Like' him? He couldn't really understand the feeling that pooled in his chest.

The past week had been a trying one, he had to admit. First, the various indentations that had been left around the city. The first had been found in Carley Park, five feet away from a seven hundred year old oak. Not that anyone could tell its age anymore, all plant life in a tight area around the indentation had withered to ash. Seven hundred years of life, smothered overnight.

After that incident, every night thereafter had left the city with yet another new scar in its landscape. There was no continuity between the holes, not in location -they seemed to pop up randomly- or seemingly purpose. The only correlation between them was the shape.

Humanoid, varying in height. Some sort of tinker experimenting in teleportation tech? Perhaps. It didn't explain the plant life, or the lack thereof. It could be that draining the plants was to function as a red herring, distracting prying eyes from the true purpose.

In the end, he had a total lack of information. It could very well just be some tinker digging holes to disguise their tests at some sort of plant killing device.

Nine holes, in nine days.

That new tinker, Peridot could be the cause. The timelines synced up, the holes had only started cropping up once she showed up, but she hadn't shown the propensity towards specialized gear from what he had seen.

Alien spotted boxers made of cotton were not all that spectacular when it came to tinker tech. It could be that she just threw on something that fit -which in and of itself fit with her 'changer' claim, if she was as old as he suspected then she had probably taken the shorts from her seven to nine year old son. Probably in jest, or perhaps as part of a bet?- or perhaps she was truly that eccentric. During her visit to the Rig, she had only once commented on her given attire, claiming it to be an 'appearance modifier'.

Hmm.

"Colin?"

It was really confusing trying to formulate a plan to deal with her. If she was as old as he thought -with son in tow to boot- then trying to convince her that joining the Protectorate was in her best interest would be a particularly hard sell. Mothers were always the hardest to convince, they never wanted to put their families in danger. It would actually be more fortunate if she was closer to the age her appearance suggested, pressuring adolescents into joining the wards was lauded as a particularly easier option than going after a fully grown cape.

They were more suggestable, he admitted. Minds full of hero worship and lacking the critical skills needed to function in the world. If it was the Protectorate that drew them into their fold to give them said skills, wouldn't that be for the best?

"Colin."

Last, but perhaps most puzzling of the week had been one Dinah Alcott. Supposedly just a thinker, albeit a precog thinker. Those were rare in and of itself. Add the fact that she apparently had a cryogenic based striker power? It was easily rank four, perhaps even five. She could form and throw shards of ice hard enough to pierce two inches of steel, for goodness sakes. The girl would be a right terror once she got older. Thank god they had found her before she had been abducted, if a villain with her power set had turned up in Brockton Bay it would have been one more stone on the scale. Another nail in their coffin, tilting the deadly balance they had tenuously kept in current days.

He wasn't sure, but he could also swear she had a minor passive precog ability to add onto her main one. During her training spars -initially to just teach her how to fall correctly, she had recently been graduated to being allowed experience against another human being- she had shown an almost intuitive ability to weave around her partners movements in order to hit them when they thought they had dodged perfectly. She wasn't strong enough to do any real damage, but if she used her cryokinesis? She could potentially apply freeze burn to an opponent. She was quickly shaping up to be a valuable addition to the Wards-

"COLIN!" A voice yelled out of his private communicator. He jerked in his seat, the piece of circuit board falling from his hands as he numbly peered down at the screen.

"Sorry," he apologized, picking up a cloth and mopping at his brow. "I was deep in thought."

"I noticed," the iron tinged tones of Dragon filtered through, amusement drenching every word. "Sorry for disturbing you, but a situation has arisen. I assume you haven't seen the news?"

The image on the screen changed, showing a live broadcast from a local station. Colin stiffened in his seat, peering despondently at the image before him. A profile shot of Sophia Hess, the tag line underneath reading 'Bully?... Or Psychopath?'

"Seems like your new friend has a bit of a problem with one of your wards," Dragon remarked. "Your new tinker, Peridot put up several thousand copies of this video," at this, another video started playing on the screen. Colin noted that the length stated it was over two hours long.

The video started out rather innocently enough, before a voice started narrating over the close up image of a middle aged man stared on impassionately. "Some people are spineless cowards," Peridots voice stated from the screen. "They simply stare on as those around them are pushed into the dirt. They sit and do nothing, not because it's the right thing, or the easy thing, but just because it's the more convenient thing for them to do." The video slowly panned out, eventually including the figures of four girls standing in a classroom doorway. Two Caucasian girls and an African American that Colin dully recognized as Sopia Hess, standing threateningly around an unfamiliar girl.

"For the past year and a half this girl has been systematically bullied by these twits, past any reasonable measure that any sane person would have offed themselves to be done with it, because like that teacher in the background there," Peridot paused, the camera refocusing as all three individuals harshly shoved their way past the remaining girl. She gave a pleading glance at the teacher, only to be rebuked as he turned back to the papers on his desk.

"Like him, I was a spineless coward. I kept my head down, kept my nose clean. Fear of upsetting someone, fear of rebukement, fear of retaliation. Fear that what happened to her would spill over onto me. I cast off that fear, I can't live under its shade any longer. I can't allow HER to live like this any longer. People will ask me why I've done this, perpetuated this horrendous act of invasion of privacy. Those three girls need to LEARN, that actions have consequences. That acting like a freaking psychopath won't be tolerated in the real world. That attempting to KILL a fellow student won't be tolerated."

Her voice paused once more, as pictures showed in slow sequence on the screen. They showed the inside of a school locker, its contents filled and slathered with dried blood and filthy looking trash.

"... I'm sorry, Taylor. I saw what was happening, and I did nothing. I was just as spineless as the people who were SUPPOSED to protect you. To protect ALL the children at that school. I just hope you can forgive me for taking so long to drag the blinders from my eyes."

"As well as hacking one of your local news stations to play the first part of it. It's everywhere, Colin," Dragon drug his attention back from the video as it started playing unedited audio, "There's nothing I can do about it. Soon as I take one down, five more people re-upload the darned thing."

Colin sank into his chair, peering on at the screen before him in sullen amazement.

"Peridot... What have you done?"
 
2.7 Suiting Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg had undergone many a dressing down from his mother over the years. That one time he had been playing with matches, and burned a bit of the living room rug? The time he overfed the goldfish and then tried to hide the dead body behind the bookshelf? Or how about when he found one of his dad's girly magazines and didn't tell his mom?

She found it wedged in between his bed and the boxsprings, and my had her rage been palpable.

Greg had sworn at the time that he'd never sit on his poor aching rear ever again.

So it was with great trepidation that he sat on the edge of his bed in front of his fuming mother, discounting just why he had taken apart their only microwave and left a smattering of parts littering the basement floor.

Some reveals just don't come out right. Some are garbled, some just end up making you look like even more of a rebellious, evil child.

How on earth do you tell your mom you have powers?

"Mom, I have powers."

Holy shit, I guess it's as easy as that. Hopefully he would be able to avoid any encounters with the wooden spoon.

She sat stock still, eyes staring uncomprehendingly. "What?" She finally let out.

Greg didn't respond, simply shifting form and levitating a spoon in front of her face. It had been lying on the floor, having sat there for god knows how long. Greg couldn't even remember why he'd left it there in the first place. There was no bowl of cereal, so he really had no clue.

"Huh," she settled on, poking at the floating spoon. She quickly rallied, fixing him with a sour glare. "That doesn't explain the microwave..."

"Tinker," Greg bashfully supplied, refusing to meet her eyes. A small snort of sound escaped his mother, sounding suspiciously like a squeak.

"And that gives you permission to break my things, that I bought with my money, to care for and support this family?" She pointedly asked.

Greg crushed the rebellious bit inside himself that had been hoping she'd be caught up longer on the whole 'powers' thing. She had come out of it MUCH faster than he'd hoped.

"No, mom," he sullenly stated.

"No it does not," she restated, before letting out a huff of air. The silence deepened between them, culminating as she finally continued. "I don't appreciate you keeping this from me. I'm your mother, for goodness sakes!" She exclaimed, waving her hands about dramatically. "I'm supposed to protect you, even from yourself! You know that, right?"

"Yes mom," Greg woodenly supplied.

"Look at me," she commanded, lightly placing her hand under his chin and gently forcing his gaze upwards. "I love you, you know that, right? You can't keep this kind of thing from me. Understand?"

"... Yes mom."

She let out a low breath of air and seemingly deflated, sinking backwards into her chair. "You're going to be the death of me Greg, I just know it. Couldn't have just been born a normal, non little troublemaking youngin', could ya?" She joked.

Greg didn't know how to respond. Was he still in trouble?

"You're still in trouble, by the way."

Shit.

"You're grounded for the week, you can go to work, but no hanging out with Rupert. No computer games for the rest of the week-"

"Moooom," Greg whined, chafing at the indignity.

"No buts!" She snapped, waggling a finger in front of his face. "You can still use your computer and Internet, but only for homework or productive activities. Got it?" She waited while Greg slowly nodded. "No video games, either. I'm going to trust you to honor that, if I have to come in here and move all your electronic crap into the basement I'm going to be very unhappy, capische?"

Greg nodded frantically, he knew she'd do it, too. Actually, she made him do it last time, and then he had to move it all back by himself to boot.

"Now that that's over with, lemme get a look at you," she started, getting up from the chair. Before Greg could protest she had both hands firmly grasped around both sides of his waist, and then he was dangling a foot above the bed. "Oh, my, gooooosh!" She crooned. "You're sooooo adoooorable!~"

'"Moooooooooooooooom," Greg groaned at her antics. He knew she was going to do something like this when she found out. If he could avoid the inevitable photo shoot he would only be so lucky.

"Oh come on, let your dear old mum have this," she rebutted, turning him to and from so she could better inspect him from both sides. "You know how long it's been since I've been able to hold you like this? Ohhhh, Greggy you make me feel like a young woman again!" With this, she cradled him against her chest. He thanked his lucky stars he was facing outwards, he could only imagine how embarrassing it would have been if she had mashed his face against her chest.

Greg let out a mournful groan, putting up with the indignity for now. She'd get tired of this before long, allowing him to get back to his tinkering and experimentation.

"I always wanted a daughter," his mom started.

"Mooooom," Greg protested, finding some level of humor in the fact that he was beginning to repeat himself. Maybe he could just record it and play it again and again for the next hour? Anything to alleviate this torture.

"I'm serious!" She belted out, mushing her chin into the top of his hair. "After we had you, I kept trying for number two..." She trailed off, rocking him gently in her arms as she hummed in speculation. "And then your father left, so I marked it down as a forgone conclusion. But now I have the best of both worlds!"

"Please no," Greg ground out.

"Oh stuff a sock in it Greggy, I'm not some psycho like Bates mother, I'm not gonna force you to be a daughter for me," she joked, hugging him tightly. "But this is nice. I forgot how good it felt to be able to hold you in my arms like this... Hold that thought," she stopped suddenly, setting Greg down gently on the edge of the bed.

She quickly left the room, Greg dreading her eventual return. She was going to get the camera, he just friggin knew it. Next it would be 'oh just take a couple with mommy!' And then it would all snowball from there. This day couldn't possibly get any worse.

He heard her opening the trapdoor to the attic, it's long neglected springs squealing out from their rust. Why was she going up to the attic? Oh god, what if she kept her old clothes from when she was a kid? Nooooo, please no. It was bad enough already what with being restricted from playing his justly deserved vidya, but piling this sort of treatment on top of him was just needless torture.

She finally came back, back arched as she carried a heavy looking box in front of her. She let it fall with a thump to the floor, dust erupting from every possible orifice and settling across the room. Well, if that was any indication, if there was clothes inside they would most likely be so moth eaten that they'd be unwearable. Score one for Peridot.

"I never let your father see what was in this box," she started, opening a pocketknife to slice open the yellowed tape holding the top closed, "Told him it was just old clothes, sentimental garbage from when I was a kid. Remember how that asshole sold the grandfather clock we had in the living room?" She asked.

Greg nodded, curious and slightly confused. One day he had come home, the ever present piece gone. Indentations in the carpet where it had been were all that remained, an open scar in the middle of their living room. He remembered his mom screaming at his dad, threatening to leave him if 'he ever pulled this shit again'. He hadn't even needed the money, just wanted to be able to buy more booze.

"I'll admit, I never completely trusted that man," she mused, tearing open the first flap. "I knew if he ever found out about this, he'd use it to hurt me. Hurt you, us." She hurriedly stated before opening the box fully.

Greg peered inwards, confused as to what he saw. "It's... Cloth?" He asked.

She dipped her hands into the box, dragging the fabric out into the light. She stood up, displaying the outfit in front of her she she tried to frame it over herself. It was a leotard, black silk with red and golden accents and two long trailing gold gossamer wings falling from the back.

"You're looking at the feared, the terrifying, the magnanimous," she started, coughing once before continuing. "Doctor Girlfriend," she stated, her voice suddenly coming out sounding like a gruff man had gargled razor blades, menthols, and marbles for ten years straight.

Greg flinched back, unable to parse the masculine voice coming out of his mothers lips.

"What?" He finally settled on, strangling his words out as best he was able. "What? I don't..."

"I was a super villain, Greggy!" She crowed, voice still sounding deep and terrifying coming from his petite bodied mother. "Well, sorta. Kinda. Just for a bit."

"I... How?"

"Well, it was the eighties sweetie, it still wasn't the best time for a single woman trying to make it in the world," she explained, sitting cross legged on the floor. "Add in capes, and any chance I had of getting an actual job was little more than shit in a toilet. I'll admit, I fell on hard times out of highschool, fell in with some... Unscrupulous folks. My boyfriend at the time, he triggered and started making stuff, you see?"

Greg nodded, not really seeing as he inspected the horrifying outfit. Something like that was not something he wanted to imagine his mother ever wearing. Was a couple steps away from being a strippers outfit, gah. The gloves and thigh high boots he could see crumpled up underneath where it had been didn't help.

"He ended up finding out that he specialized in making themed gear. Stuff like a car that looked kinda bat-like, a gun that looked kinda like a dog," she waved at the outfit once more, "Butterflies," she stated with a laugh. "He ended up calling himself 'The Monarch', took to hounding this poor scientist in Oklahoma, guy wasn't even a tinker or anything, he was just some poor bastard trying to follow in his fathers footsteps. Apparently he had 'ruined' my boys life in highschool. Inadvertently. Well, as you can probably tell, that didn't end well," she returned to using her normal voice, putting Greg at ease. He wasn't even aware of how badly he had tensed up. "The guy ended up hiring some crazy bodyguard, gutted my poor Charles right on the hood of his own monarchmobile."

Her eyes took on a far away look, before she continued. "Got out of the game right after that, being a villain was fun but it wasn't really leading anywhere. I only ever really took to it cause Charles was so passionate about it... I guess I can just count my blessings that I managed to get away before I was permanently affixed, might have ended up as 'Doctor Missus The Monarch'." She let out a sharp laugh, "Charles was absolute shit at naming things..."

"So..." Greg wanted to know, "what was with the voice? Do you have powers?"

She gave him a short nod, smiling as she did so. "Voice mimicry. Better than any ventriloquist, can out voice any voice actor. Not really the best actor, and I certainly can't pull out my best ones. They're perfect imitations, sound like the real thing to any computer. Would make the private security market freak the hell out if they ever found out," she joked, letting out a soft sigh. "Never really came up anything good to do with my power. Suppose I could call up the PRT and have Armsmaster talk to himself, but that wouldn't really lead anywhere..."

Greg pondered her words, observing the figure before him. His mom had had this huge secret, but in the end it was less than nothing. Not even a fragment of who she now was. Would that be him in twenty years? Pulling down a taped up box of his old tinkertech, telling his kids about how he used to be a superhero? Maybe show off the changing trick for parties. Hell, maybe all the Endbringers would be dead by then.

"I'm going to be a hero," he suddenly declared, raising his head. "I... I want this. I want to be able to tell my kids about the 'good old days', what good I actually managed to do." He lowered his head, afraid to look his mother in the eye. "This world... I don't want to bring my kids up in a world like this. This world is rotten, diseased. There's so much that can be done... So much that has to be done."

Gregs mother drew him into a hug, sitting on the bed beside him.

"I'm sure that whatever your goal is, you'll do great hon," she said, "But please, whatever it is you end up doing, please be careful. I don't want to lose you. I... I can't lose you too, k?"

Greg said nothing, nodding in response.

"Now enough of all this gloomy gus stuff, let's see a smile on your face! Eh? Eeeeeeeh?~" she elbowed him in the ribs, until he finally let himself crack a smile. "Now come on, you've only seen one outfit, wait till you see my first one!" She crowed, dipping both arms in the box up to her elbows.

Greg paled as she raised up another set of clothing, a tight looking light purple nurses outfit with... A miniskirt.

"Ewwwwww," he moaned, desperately trying to kill the mind poison with concentrated force of will.

[hr=2]

Authors Notes:
Yeah, I've been watching Venture Brothers. I thought long and hard about how I might have this interaction between the two of them, and his mom finding out. Then I thought, hey, wouldn't it be funny if she was a supervillain back in the day? Then my mind just kinda stole her and wrote her into the scene. Welp. I might get a bit of hate for that. Oh well.
I think she fits pretty nicely.[/hr]
 
Silly Little Omake.

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
OMAKE?

Greg peered down at the workbench before him, marveling at the devices he had wrought. A choker, belt and bracelets lay there, glossy brassy metal encircling the technology within. It had taken a while, to be sure, but the extra time spent on enlarging the insides of the devices was well worth it. Now what would have easily been the size of full plate gauntlets and greaves snugly fit in the space between molecules.

Greg was sure some physicist was rolling in their grave at this affront to physics, but he honestly didn't care. This was too damn cool to waste time thinking about long dead people.

Greg slid on the items, noting the looseness. Perfect.

"Yo, Karen?" He addressed his interfaces V.I, "How are the power sinks holding up?"

"Slower than you figured," the smooth tones replied from his computers speakers. "Estimated safe available charge, three minutes, fifty eight seconds."

"Oh, cool," Greg breathed a sigh of acceptance. It was closer than he had estimated, honestly. He had been aiming for a full available charge within seconds, but had been worried his estimations of the pathetic earth based technology he'd been forced to rely on would offset that guess by hours, not minutes.

The time passed slowly, leaving Greg to go over his schematics for the walking eye again. It was large, slow, ostentatious, and completely pointless compared to his robonoids. Hopefully, it would confuse the hell out of the PRT.

Finally, Karen gave him the go ahead. He waited for another minute, then activated the devices.

The light spread from his gem, covering his skin and casting an eerie shadow on the table in front of him. He felt his limbs slowly lengthening, the loose accessories slowly drawing tight against his skin. The light slowly died away, allowing the fluorescent tubes above to retake the honor of being the brightest things in the room.

Well, aside from Peridot, of course.

She looked down, noting that the matrice had followed the designs she had input. Thank goodness, if she had gotten it wrong the first time she never would have lived it down. Or at the very least she would have thrown a fit.

"Karen?" Greg asked, adjusting the bands around her wrists. "All lights green?"

"Negative," the computer responded dolefully. "There is a minute drain in subsystem g-12, resulting in a three percent loss of power efficiency."

"That's fine for now," Greg admitted, slightly rankled. "It was to be expected."

Greg walked across the room, getting used to her new gait. She was now slightly taller than she had been, even before changing into her gem form. She stopped in front of the table, picking up the 'new' outfit that lay there. Greg brought it up to her gem, storing the original for future use. With a flourish, she turned around and summoned a copy of the new outfit around her.

The same outfit that her mom wore once upon a time, the perfect disguise to wear to throw off the ongoing pursuit that the PRT had out for Peridot.

Start building a secret base directly under the Rig, and everyone just got all out of shape.

Weirdos.

"Look out Brockton Bay!" she called out, the tech in her choker shifting her voice until it mimicked her mothers signature growl. "You're looking at the resurgence... Of Doctor Girlfriend!"

I just wanted to write something particularly silly.
 
3.1 Ramping Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg peered down at the table before him, inspecting the two metallic arms that lay on its wooden surface.

The two left arms, unfortunately.

On a whim, Greg had donned his newest creation, waiting with baited breath as he had attempted to psych himself up for his given experiment. With a twist in his gut, he had reverted to plain, pasty white, boring old human Greg. Thankfully the metal and gemplast gauntlet hadn't crushed his arm like a squeezed tube of toothpaste, but unfortunately it hadn't undergone the same disappearing act that his alien spotted appearance modifier was long prone to do.

The glove had slipped off, lying on the floor in front of him.

At this failure, Greg had been slightly annoyed. It would have been so much easier had gem tech transferred the same as normal material. As it was, he didn't want to have to lug around his more hefty accessories in a backpack. While they were and would be MUCH lighter than they should have been, the issue at hand was their size.

Outward, of course. He quickly learned that there was a limit to how much you could fold space around a given object, even with internal power providing a smidgen of a boost of help.

Still, until he could produce a much larger supply of bioplasm he would be constrained by its inherent lack.

So he couldn't transfer his tech across forms, the very act of changing slid everything away from him -holding the glove in his hand had produced the slightly odd effect of the glove laying on top of his hand upon the conclusion of his transformation- and rendered his previous attempts null.

Greg had let out a sharp huff, took out her scanner and attempted to see if she could apply some sort of dampening field to the glove so that she could store it in a more compact form. Perhaps something like pokeballs or dragonball capsules, that sort of stuff would always be classic.

Greg stared at the object in his hand, before realizing that he had grabbed something out of his gem.

The object itself was largely unimpressive, a small rod little longer than the palm of his hand with two circular globes of crystal on both ends. Three diamond shaped crystals rose from the top end, framing a yellow transparent screen that had popped up when the smaller crystals had detached from the enlarged ocean tinged marble.

Scanner. A device that peridots used when ones limb enhancers were malfunctioning or otherwise unresponsive. Greg didn't know how he knew this, or why his power was laughing at him. He could feel the giggling, he swore. He supposed that was better than the other line of thought his power had thrown at him, stating that he should ask home world for a replacement set.

Gregs power was decidedly odd, he inwardly declared.

So he had a 'scanner'. A device that he had not made, which his power 'subtly' told him was given as a tool of last resort. Like using a spoon as a screwdriver or the decaying half life of a neural dictathemeters engine fuel for reading light.

He closed his eyes, trying to see if he perhaps had anything else stashed away in his gem.

He couldn't feel anything 'inside' it, but hadn't really for the scanner either. He had just needed something and had... Taken it.

Greg decided he needed a burger, medium rare, grilled onions, no tomatoe, honey mustard and roasted parsnip.

Greg didn't get one. Now he was hungry as well as slightly frustrated. Stupid gem.

Another arm? If his gem could just make the darned things he wouldn't have to tinker on them in the first place. He felt a note of derision, as well as the feeling of someone banging their head against a desk. Disappointment. Greg was disappointed at his own foolishness? It's not foolishness if it works.

Greg picked up the arm, turning it over in his hands. The answer was right in front of him, he just knew it. If only he could just reach out and grasp it...

The arm was raised in his hands while Greg numbly watched on, unsure of his own actions.

A flash of light as the tip of one finger touched the barest edge of his gem, and Greg was left staring at his empty hands. It was gone. He thrashed about in his seat, looking to and from for the elusive object. He couldn't have dropped it, could he?

He stopped, noting that as he stared off at the far wall the inside of his head felt... like it was buzzing. A schematic of his creation flashed in front of his eyes, 'slotting into place' for lack of better words. He realized that the internal placement was like thinking about a computer, the files were catalogued in a given folder.

'How' he was equating computer files to imaginary structures inside of his head he wasn't exactly sure of the overall usability, but he knew that it felt right. There was the design he had just submitted, there was the scanner that was supplied to everyone in her cut, there was the skinsuit she was made in, there was the dress she had made to impress La-

Greg arched in his chair, clutching his head as pain raced onwards under his fingers. It was minutes later that he was able to coordinate intelligent thought, primarily being 'what the hell was that?'

The answer wasn't forthcoming, the information slipping ephemerally from his grasp as soon as he had stopped thinking about it. Scanner, arm... Dress. He hadn't made the dress, hadn't made the scanner, yet there they were. Greg wasn't able to get a good view of the item, it was just 'there'. Context information of what the item was, no further details he could grasp onto.

Finding the damn thing had hurt him in the first place, so he pushed it from his mind.

What was important, was the arm.

He dragged it back out of his gem, looking on as it materialized back in his hands. It looked just as it had when he had finished making it, spikes and all. Unimpressive, thrown together, really a rush job. He'd have to spruce it up later.

Putting it down he... dragged it out of his gem again.

He was left with two left arms, both glinting in the desk lamps light.

"Holy shit," Greg ground out, hefting the limb he still held above his head, "I can dupe! Duped items! Hell yeah!" He crowed, reaching for a screwdriver. If he could dismantle the duped items, he could just repurpose the second arm and turn it into a right arm. It would be easier than just building the darn thing from the ground up, that was for sure.

The plate obscuring the power supply snapped off at his probing tool, clattering to the floor before the entire construct poofed into nothingness. Greg stared down at where the arm had been, feeling a growing sense of disappointment. Three tries later, and Greg had to admit defeat.

The original arm couldn't be taken back out, or at the very least Greg couldn't figure out how. Any construct produced from the originals 'blueprint' had the same durability of the original -as far as Greg could tell- but would disperse when he tried to take them apart. He could will the arm to stay when he pried off panels, but whatever panels or parts he separated from the whole immediately fell apart into nothingness.

It was annoying, to be sure. There went the whole 'duping' idea.

But in that failure there was a certain level of promise to be had. He couldn't take the dupes apart. To combat that, he could make an unlimited amount of dupes regardless of how many got destroyed.

He could be a one man army! As soon as a villain disables one limb enhancer, poof! It's replaced by a brand new one! Greg let his mind fantasize on the subject, a realization coming to the forefront of his mind. This definitely solved the 'backpack' dilemma. He didn't think the internal storage had a limit -at least, not one he could quantify- so he could potentially carry around giant ass mech suits and no one would be the wiser! He could go from being an unintimidating little green waif, to gigantic mecha in seconds!

He just had to build it, first.

All the bioplasm he had used on the original arm was essentially gone, eaten by the capricious gems unassailable hunger. All the metal and other materials were gone as well, meaning he would have to be careful. He couldn't just willy nilly throw things in, he'd have to be sure he was willing to let them become blueprints before he'd feed them to his gem.

After a few minutes more of experimentation, Greg found himself able to conjure the glove around his arm. He had to raise his hand to the gem to start off, but afterwards he could flail it around without abandon and it would still reliably settle around the mobile appendage. This was good, that meant he didn't have to stand still in order to get his weapons in the middle of a fight. That would have sucked.

"Hey Lung, can you wait just a second," Greg joked out loud, pantomiming towards his dresser. "I just need to get dressed. Just a tic, a moment more, okay. I'm ready."

He giggled like a madman, unable to keep the pervasive vibrations silent and trapped within.

Not that he'd be be trying to pit his tech against Lung anytime soon. Good god, no. His current limb enhancer would maybe be able to knock him unconscious, if he hadn't been able to ramp up at all yet. His regeneration abilities would allow him to shrug off the concussive forces, eventually becoming immune.

He would be avoiding Lung like the goddamn plague.

What villains could he take on with his current gear? Not many, that's for sure. Any of the ones with normal human level of durability, such as the Merchants leader Skidmark and his love glove. It was a crass way to refer to the Tinker, but Peridot couldn't in good consciousness compliment the woman for her... 'specialty'. The vehicles she made looked atrocious, Peridot would rather burn off her own arm than have one of those monstrosities attributed to her.

She made things of quality, functionality. While they may be rough, they never looked like pieces of trash. She had standards.

Mush was a definite no go. He could boost his strength by absorbing trash, which considering the state of the city was a lot of potential power ups. Also, brute. With his current gear, a definite no go.

Lung was obviously a danger, as well as Oni Lee. No one knew the specifics of his power, but Greg had his suspicions. He was obviously some sort of case 53, inhabiting a body of malleable ash. He wasn't really teleporting, he was just reforming the ash from his main body to attack at will. It didn't really explain the grenades, but Greg was sure he'd think of a proper explanation eventually.

Empire Eighty Eight was a cavernous crockpot of capes, ranging from Kaiser himself to 'lowly' thugs like Rune.

She might be able to take Rune, if she just shot her right off the bat before she could get up her momentum it might work out. Boom, headshot.

Greg realized he didn't really know how to fight. Video games had taught him many things, but how to actually fight in the real world was not one of them. Funny, as many people as he had shot in the plethora of COD games he had owned over the years, he hadn't the foggiest how to load or maintain an actual gun.

"Press X," he stated with a sour laugh. That would be something he'd have to work on.

The limb enhancer should work against any normal, non powered thug. He still had to aim the blasts, but that should just be as simple as pointing a palm towards them. Robert Downey Jr. could pull it off, so why couldn't she?

Until Greg finished the limb enhancers for his legs he didn't want to try getting into a fist fight. Close range combat should be viable, but the fact that he could release a punch with magnitudes greater force than his perceived action could make holding his footing a treacherous situation.

The one time he tried punching the basement wall -his mom was certainly NOT home when he tried this, she would have grounded him until he was in diapers again from old age.- he had found himself hurled bodily across the room from the force of his punch. He literally was exerting a force greater than his legs could support, despite the fact that limb enhancers mass was mostly self contained within its own internal mesh.

Until he had time to upgrade it, he'd have to be careful.

The home warppad was finished, lying flat against their basement floor. He had three warppad 'plates' ready for use, but they'd only be able to be used once before they shattered. He had tested this already, warping back from school and leaving the shattered remains of the plate behind under a bush.

The fact that he had wasted his supplies just to get back home quicker did not eluded him, and in fact was slightly galling.

The plates wouldn't properly scan into his gem,leaving him feeling bloated from them... 'swimming' around up there. He couldn't make copies of them either for some odd reason, leaving him with three.

He wouldn't have to worry once his stealth robonoids finally finished making the second warppad downtown.

His plan was to seed the city with his warppads in obscure, out of the way locales. Fortunately, these locations were readily supplied in the form of buildings rooftops. Rarely anyone ever went up on the roofs, and if they did they wouldn't see the pads anyway due to the stealth tech he was implementing. Same as his robonoids, the pads would only be visible to other gems.

And since Greg was the only one, this was a non problem.

He could potentially 'make' others, his power told him. All she needed to do was rig up an excavator, drop it in some far off location that no one ever really went like a canyon or valley out in the wilderness, and then she could start up a kindergarten. Then she could have as many amethysts as she could ever want!

Greg was sure his power was stretching the details a bit. There was no way he could actually create living, breathing beings. Not with machines.

He knew how sex worked.

Authors Notes;
The Crystal Gems weapons never made any gosh darned sense to me. In the show, it's a 'soft magic' system, they just show that 'it works' and never really go into detail of 'how' it works.

Pearl can make hologram swords that can apparently do just as much damage as any other weapon, at least enough to poof herself. Maybe it wouldn't work on Garnet, who knows. To add to this she has her own personalized spear/sword/thingy that she usually depends on, despite being shown to have a BUTTLOAD of other swords.

So if you can just produce hologram/illusion weapons, that brings up another question. Why the heck do you need a character like Bismuth, FORGING WEAPONS? Actual real, physical items that she made from real materials?

So I just wrote up an explanation that 'kinda' makes sense to me. Lemme know if you saw any holes in it.

Also, we can't have Gate be at the top of the story list, can we?
 
3.2 Interlude; Danny

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Danny Hebert was a hard working man. He scraped and scrimped to provide for his daughter, lurching from one day to the next since the death of his wife. He had felt the distance between him and his daughter growing, stretching, becoming thinner and thinner to the point where he could almost sense the inevitable snap.

Then his daughter brought home a lion.

He couldn't believe she had actually tried to hide something like this from him, it was a lion for crying out loud! It wasn't like she could stand in front of it and pretend it wasn't there.

His daughter had powers. Wonderful, amazing, terrifying powers that had come about from the horrible incident at the school. Those damned fools, that corrupt principal and the leading gadflies that flew and sputtered in and out of that horrid school. It was a crime, a travesty, a joke what they had done to his lovely daughter, compounded only further by how they had tried to pretend nothing was wrong.

His baby sent to the hospital, and that excuse of a woman, a 'human' that people had actually left in charge of their kids, had the gall to try to talk down to Danny as if he was confused. Like he didn't know what he was talking about. Like what happened to Taylor wasn't that big of a deal.

It was enough of a deal to end up giving her powers.

At least he didn't have to feed the darned thing, if it's size was anything to go by it would have ended up costing far more than a couple bags of dog food a month. He wasn't even sure the projection did eat, but Taylor assured him that Lion hunted outside of the city when he felt like it.

He didn't feel like chastising her choice of naming, but did feel sorry for the critter. Any poor pup he might have ended up bringing home might have ended up being called 'dog' its entire life.

The lion wasn't the end of it, not even close. Taylor, his sweet little baby girl, was a grab bag. Changer form with that gem covering her belly button as a handy DIY disguise, limited flight, brute strength, that pink shield that she could pull out? It was all rather much, and left Danny feeling like he had spent a full day riding the teacups. Whipped around from topic to topic, never given a moment to breathe.

His baby was going to be a hero.

He couldn't say no.. but the fear gnawed at his belly, the looming chance that if she went out one night to fight the dirtbags of this city...

He couldn't lose her. Annette had left her in his care, he'd never neglect her again.

Taylor had seen the worry that ate at him, and promised she wouldn't go out looking for trouble until she had built up a bit of a safety net.

Then she started bringing girls home.

They were like Lion, projections. Humanoid, but subtly... Off. Their skin colors were a wide spectrum, ranging from orange to purple to red. It was truly an odd sight to be had, and she just kept making more. At least he didn't have to feed them...

"This one tastes good!" The newest one crowed, holding up the uneaten half of an old cigarette. His lovely wife had been many things, and unfortunately she had been a bit of a smoker before her untimely demise. Had it really been that long since he cleaned around the house? How far had he let it all go?

"Carrie, you can't eat that, that's a cigarette," Danny admonished her, gently taking it from the purple girls outstretched fingers. "It's trash, and even if it was new it would still be a filthy habit."

"Awwww," Carrie whined, eyeing the butt as Danny flicked it into the trash. "But it tasted good..."

"I still can't believe you all put... Stuff into your mouths," the short red skinned girl ground out. Danny had quickly learned that this one had a bit of a temper on her, reacting to the world around her with unbridled emotion. "You don't know where it's been! And then you mash it with your teeth, and you swallow and... Eeeeuuurrrgh," the poor girl looked slightly green, the pallor intermeshing with her natural skin colour.

"Just cause you're a stick in the mud doesn't mean I am," Carrie retorted, blowing a raspberry down at Mallory.

Mallory gave her a death glare before walking off, back to the basement to fry the poor fire retardant beanbag with waves of heat. It was better than unleashing her ire on his poor petunias.

"I'm rather partial to those crunchy things," Blossom called out from the other room. The orange skinned girl was second that Taylor had brought home, and showed a stunning sense of lethargy that could combat a cat. "You know, the ones that hide under the fridge?"

"You're not supposed to eat roaches!" Danny called back in a defeated tone.

"Roaches! Right! Those ones!" Blossom declared in an unperturbed tone.

"Are they trash too?" Carrie asked, fixing Danny with a wide eyed stare.

Danny sighed. He knew no matter what he said, the projected girl would still have trouble understanding just what he was trying to get across. They all subtly reminded him so much of Taylor, like little slices of her personality all sheared off and stuck in pallete swapped skin suits. It helped that none of them looked like his daughter, it was already weird enough.

Bubbles, the first. A Jaspar as Taylor had called her, denoted by the gemstone sticking out of her shoulder. Bubbles was soft spoken, demure, and rarely brought attention to herself. She looked like she was trying to avoid all attention in its entirety however, shrinking in on herself whenever Danny tried to talk to her. A real wallflower.

Blossom, the second. Again, she was a Jaspar like her first sister.

Buttercup, the third to arrive and first true deviation from the formulae. She had green skin, off blonde hair and a long, lithe figure. She was taller than Taylor and even Danny himself, standing at a towering 6"2. She was curious, insatiably so. She had already taken apart and put back together every piece of electronics in the house, and Danny was sure that if he hadn't forbade it she would have tried to pull apart the drywall to get at the wiring behind it.

Having run out of PowerPuff Girl names, Danny had been forced to actually get creative with his naming -for some reason Taylor felt perfectly comfortable calling them by the same name as their gemstones, and boy was that odd enough- for the subsequent additions to his household.

Amy, the fourth and second new colour change, was named after the amethyst that sprouted from the back of her left hand. She seemed playful, yet ornery at times. She was restless, tired of waiting around. Danny could tell she just wanted to go out and fight.

Mallory, the fifth. As cantankerous as her previous sister, Danny could almost swear she was embarrassed to be in the same room as him. Her cheeks if possible would grow even redder if he payed her any attention, before she would scramble out of the room for one reason or the other.

The sixth was another bestowed with an amethyst, this time sticking out the palm of her left hand. Danny wasn't sure why Taylor's power made them with different placement, but that was powers. You could have lasers that shot out of some guys eyes and curved around a corner. Absolute bullshit.

Danny couldn't very well call her Amy like her sister -and with Taylor quite content to just call her 'Amethyst'- he had finally settled on Autumn. She seemed to like it well enough, swaying with a music that no one else could hear.

Brunhilde was a forceful, enthusiastic little girl with a penchant towards action. She had demanded a 'kickass warriors name', to the extent that Taylor had finally caved and looked for one on the Internet. The name had stuck as soon as it left her mouth, leaving the young looking girl bouncing around on the furniture, lunging with imaginary weaponry at invisible foes. Another with a Jaspar on them, Danny found it odd that she was so much smaller than those before her.

Pansy was the first true departure for Danny. Number eight in appearance, the fully grown woman had a pearl lodged in her neck. She was calm, quiet, polite, and even helped around the house. Last night she had even managed to cook a surprisingly tasty dinner. Where she had gotten the supplies to make it, Danny didn't know. He wasn't sure he wanted to ask.

Whenever he wasn't looking he was sure he could see the barest hints of a sneer out of the corner of his eye. A trace of derision that curled upon her lips, directed at him with such ferocity that he found himself flinching even when he was certain that she wasn't in the room. The woman doted on his little girl hand and foot, but she held nothing but contempt for Danny himself.

As long as she didn't hurt Taylor, he didn't care.

Carrie, the newest. As Taylor called her, an amethyst. Despite her appearance -like most of her sisters, closer to Taylor's age- she had the soul of a child, endlessly curious as she sought out new delights.

Like what new flavor she could cram into her mouth, like the chunk of-

"No! Carrie, you can't eat the towels they're for drying things!"
 
Omake; April Fools 2018

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Piggot looked down the end of her nose at Armsmaster, the blue and silver clad hero staring up at her in wonder.

"Well? Report," she commanded.

"Uh... Ma'am. At approximately twenty one hundred hours yesterday, the cape by the name of Peridot joined forces with a group of unknown capes and attacked Kaiser. They were first noticed on the corner of Shoelur and Brashim, where a bystander managed to record roughly from the start of the fight."

"Seriously?" Assault stated unbelievingly. He scratched at his currently red fleshed chin in contemplation, "Not exactly the smartest thing to do. But hey, new capes don't usually last long, case in point."

Battery swatted her partner upside her... His head, having to aim lower than normal.

"Indeed," Armsmaster conceded, "Moving on, the cape known as Peridot apparently came across Kaiser whilst shopping for groceries in the nearby Saffromart-"

"What, did she find him in aisle seven, cutlery and cooking utensils?" Assault once more joked. He shied from the glares that were directed at him, growing quiet with a slight grumble.

"...Aisle three, actually. Soup. Apparently Peridot has created some sort of device that allowed her to identify Kaiser in his civilian identity-"

A round of guttural mutterings passed around the table, directed at the man in question. Max Anders, a trusted and valued member of the community. His hands in half the pies around Brockton Bay, it was almost unthinkable that the man would go gala acting around with a crock pot of metal strapped to his chest all for the purpose of pushing aaryan attitude upon the reticent races.

"Kaiser attacked the cape, causing several thousands of dollars of damages to the stores products. On a brighter note," Armsmaster read on, eyes narrowing at the the note a technician had probably put down in jest. "SaffroMart now has access to a modern art themed... Sculpture."

"Kevin?" Piggot questioned, adjusting her seated position on the hard floor. As it was, her head still threatened to scrap the ceiling above.

"Kevin," Armsmaster confirmed. "Moving on, the fighting spilled out onto the aforementioned street corner, where the new capes joined her in returning fire upon Kaiser."

"Holy shit, she multiplied?" Assault let out, dodging another swat as he looked onward at the screen. Featured in grainy colour was an odd sight. It was... Peridot. And Peridot. And Peridot, and Peridot and Peridot and Peridot and Peridot. "So, what, did her family come out to play or something?"

Each cape looked remarkably similar, green skin and dark coloured jumpsuits. Blonde hair, in surprisingly different hairstyles across each cape. Beyond that, each cape carried wildly different weapons and gear. Ray guns, explosive tonfa, one of them had even been wearing a fully mechanical pair of trousers. Rocket boosters in each pants leg, she had been zipping around with wild abandon.

"We should assume that it is a similar situation to... Our current standing," Piggot waved a hand in Assaults direction, prompting a wild blush from the pint sized red skinned girl.

"No fair, I get pint sized and she gets turned into a freaking giant..."

"I can't fit through the door! I've been stuck in here for the past five hours!" She rebutted harshly, ire pouring out into her words.

Hannah wisely kept her mouth closed throughout the proceedings, grumbling internally to herself.

Tall people problems, indeed.
 
3.3 Ramping Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
The week passed slowly, the media storm swirling like a turgid toilet cleanse. For some reason Greg couldn't fathom, Taylor was missing from classes all week. Probably trying to avoid all the reporters trying to get that one word of gossip, that one slice of fame they could wring from the proverbial rag.

Slightly less surprising was the fact that the terror trio had been pulled from school. There was no definite proof, just vain gossip floating to and fro from the mouths of babes. Not a investigative bone among the lot of them. Just spewed what they heard with wild abandon, not even bothering to burrow deeper for the truth.

Like the fact that Shadow Stalker had been transferred out of Brockton Bay, supposedly due to a dispute with the Youth Guard. Some typical garbage about there needing to be diversity in the lifestyle of participants to the struggle of cape life, and that said diversity would be well mitigated by a change of scenery.

A paragragraph or two of flowery, meaningless words.

Shadow Stalker was probably Madison Clements. She had the right physique, and she just so happens to be taken out of school right at the same time that SS is transferred? Bullshit. There was a connection there, Greg knew it. Shunt off your cape to another city so that someone else has to deal with the screwup, and in a new town where no ones the wiser. Classic PRT.

He supposed it could have also been Hess, but... God was she a bitch, no way anyone would have actually made her a hero in the first place. Dinah had described SS as a bitch... But Hess was a biiiiiiiiitch. And while the PRT and Protectorate was obviously corrupt -feeding seals to an engine reactor or something, he knew they were up to some shady stuff even if he couldn't prove it- they weren't friggin morons. They would have noticed the latent bitch rays from Hess the instant she stepped on the Rig.

Madison was much better at concealing her bitch rays. Pretty smiles, and all that. At least she could actually smile without looking like she was constipated. Or wanted to kill you. Or wanted to kill you because she was constipated. Or wanted to kill you because she was constipated, from swallowing all of her latent bitch rays.

Screw Hess.

He hoped she had been sent off to Juvie, with the video forever immortalized online there was little chance she had a sliver of privacy. While Taylor was the victim, Hess and her little sycophants were the aggressors.

While Taylor was an interesting read, a shying wallflower that was victimized by three others, those others were the true meat of the story. What made a psychopath tick, how could they justify their actions? How crazy would they sound as they tried to justify their actions? Anything they said could be sensationalized so far out of context that it could scrape the moon, no one cared if they offended the little clods.

So all four girls were absent. Probably the best for them, talk around school was that all three major gangs -or at the very least the little hangers on that weren't quite gangers yet, those that still walked the halls with their pretty little colours with the faintest hope that Said colours would protect them from the other gangers in the hall- had their sights set on them. They were now a delicious looking chance for influence, either by 'crushing Hess into dust for her attacking a white girl' or just for the five minutes of fame that interacting with them would bring.

Greg had even heard one Merchant wannabe talking to his buddy, passing a needle back and forth between the two of them. One had told the other that if they got Taylor hooked to 'the good stuff' then all her good luck would leak over to them.

Yeah, cause getting bullied for a year and a half was 'good luck'. Lord only knew what was going through their heads. Probably very little, she mused, as the copious strain of toxins eroded what little remained of their already prodigiously small amounts of grey matter. Not like they were using it for much in the first place, no great loss.

Outside of school, Greg had managed to cobble together a veritable fleet of robonoids. Twenty five, at his last count. It would be slightly embarrassing if he were to forget how many he had made, but there was just so many of the damned things now. He had them scouting out the area around his city, the nearby areas downtown, and also had them hard at work creating his secondary warppad. Should be done by the end of the week.

The robonoids. Small, unremarkable even if they weren't invisible to the normal human eye.

Which in no way explained the purple skinned girl sitting on their living room couch.

Carrie, she claimed was her name. She had crawled in the open window, unrepentant and seemingly didn't realize that she was breaking and entering. When Gregs mom had confronted her she claimed she was just following the 'walking balls'. Greg had shown his mom, of course. But he left them in stealth mode if they were out of his workshop/ the basement. No need to piss her off by seeing a flood of little robots running around.

"I just wanted to see where they were going," Carrie whined as she finished off the juice packet Gregs mom had given her.

"You shouldn't even be able to see them," Greg snapped, more than slightly miffed. Was it the plating? Did the subsystem for the refractive manifold malfunction? Power fluctuations? Intentional sabotage from another tinkers tech?

"Why not?" She asked, chewing on the side of her juice box. "They aren't hiding, they're just sitting right there."

The one she was pointing at was still reading as cloaked. Full systems operational. How annoying.

"They're stealthy," Greg insisted. "You shouldn't be able to-" he stopped, watching in muted horror as she started eating the cardboard box. It disappeared into her mouth, her chewing the only memory that it even existed in the first place. "You aren't supposed to eat those, " he stated numbly.

"Mister Herb says that a lot," she chirped, picking a shred out of her teeth before throwing it back into the empty abyss. "Did you know that you're not supposed to eat wrappers? Even though they taste good they're only supposed to wrap the food up."

Greg stared at her, a half second away from rubbing his forehead in consternation.

"Who?" He settled on.

"Mister Herb! He's mommys dad, but he's not our grandpa. I think she made him too, but I'm not sure. He doesn't look right. All wrinkled and waxy, like a statue. Or a trebuchet! "

"...Does your mom know where you are?" Greg asked. How odd he decided, himself looking like a young child asking a teenager who acted like a young child where her mom was.

Carrie looked around, for once seeming to take into her surroundings. "Uh... I don't think so? I know how to get home though, mommy showed us where her house is from the docks, just in case we get separated. You look like Buttercup!" She suddenly belted out, staring at Greg intently.

"...Who?" He repeated. Different focus, same intent.

"Buttercup, she's green too!" She tilted her head to the side, peering at him through squinted eyes. "She's not as small as you are, though. Are you defective?"

Greg picked a newspaper up from the bench alongside him, rolled it up, and swatted her on the head.

"Don't be rude," he reprimanded. For some reason he felt an underlying sense of discontent and severe annoyance at her words. She wasn't defective, she was unique, girl better watch herself or Peridot would smack her with something harder than a bundled up collection of wood pulp and ink concentrate.

"But you're short," she rebutted, flinching under anther swat. "Hers isn't on her forehead, either."

"Why are you here?" Greg asked, a migraine forming behind his eyes.

"I wanted to see the ball things."

"Why are you still here," Greg reiterated.

'Your mommy gave me juice. It tasted good, but it was kinda crunchy at the end."

"...You can't stay here," Greg finally settled on. He turned around, reaching for the tracking chip he had been working on. If he could get one of his robonoids to slip it onto a perp, then he could track them right back to their hideout! No need to wait in a boring stakeout, all the progress with none of the wait. "Just give me a second and I'll... Walk you home."

It was a bit of an underhanded tactic, but Greg couldn't exactly risk her walking out the front door and drawing attention to herself. Maybe even drawing attention to her 'mommy'. She was wearing a nondescript hoodie that obscured her features if she stared at the ground, but purple skin would always be a big draw for the eye. Also, if she led him straight to her 'mommy', then he could confront the lady on keeping better track of her daughters.

Something about this whole situation was making her senses itch like mad, she just wasn't sure what the hell it was-

'Hers isn't'.

'Forehead.'

Hers isn't on her forehead.

'You look like Buttercup'.

The robonoids were in perfect functioning order, stealth systems all green, operational.

The stealth systems don't work on other gems, the design is outdated.

Greg whipped back to look at Carrie, momentarily confused at the empty chair. When did she leave?

"Carrie?" He called out, desperate for answers.

"She left hon, said she had to go home!" His mom supplied from the other room.

Greg stared at the empty chair before turning back to his moniter.

"Shit."

Authors Note:
Figured I should give you an actual update instead of just the half assed April Fools segment. Enjoy!~
 
3.4 Ramping Up

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Greg was surprised at how durable his body was whilst in his changer state.

The fact that all damage he had accrued in the past five minutes was of his own fault, from his own stupidity, due to his own inexperience, was not lost on him.

He had decided to step up his heroing timetable, unwilling to wait any longer to get out and try to get some hands on experience. With someone out there that could see through his current stealth tech -and the next upgrade that would only barely shield them being a component mix that required gold, platinum, and several other chemicals that Greg couldn't just go out and buy.- he couldn't afford to sit around on his laurels. He hadn't even finished making his laurels yet, and they already weren't enough.

The one limb enhancer would have to do.

He had broken down four of his robonoids, cobbling them back together around an old wicker basket chair that had been lying in a corner of the basement. It was lacking compared to something like Armsmasters motorcycle, or even Miss Militias barebones normal ride. Heck, even one of Squealers pieces of shit was... slightly more impressive. Hers usually had wheels. Wheels typically made things travel faster than articulated legs.

He had practiced using the seat, sitting in the throne as it walked back and forth across the room. It was clunky, turned like the most graceful of turtles whom had been wading in tar, and only had a max speed of perhaps twenty eight miles per hour. The micro boosters he had been hoping to get working had turned up bust, the parts breaking under the first test. Not enough to time to get them working, not with what he had.

He needed more materials. He couldn't buy more because he was broke. He couldn't ask his mom for more money, she'd just say no anyway. She had already given him free reign over her old gear, what little there was that didn't make him want to gouge his eyes out. Out of the now mostly nonfunctional tinkertech she had kept, only a gas powered grappling gun was still usable. Unfortunately for Greg, the line had somehow rotted through and left the whole thing practically worthless. Something to build on.

He didn't weight too much in his changer state -an embarrassingly low sixty two pounds, much to his consternation.-, so whatever line he ended up using wouldn't have to be the most heavy duty. It would be enough until he managed to create a variation of the many hardlight grappling beams that raced through his head at the thought. The examples from the Ratchet & Clank series, as well as Metroid Prime seemed viable. For some reason however his power felt rather ambivalent at the concept of a grappling hook.

Why bother with a hook on a string when you could just fly up to the elevation you were trying to reach?

Because grappling hooks were cool, damnit. Physical media would never die! Down with the cloud!

Wait, no. Greg loved the cloud, it saved his stuff when his juryrigged memory drives overheated and cooked his memory into sadness. One can only download illegal copies of Hancock so many times before they realize it just isn't worth it.

Honestly, the first time was enough for Greg. As far as cape movies go, Hancock was one of the more... lacking. Greg loved Will Smiths' movies -the actor had triggered on a live episode of Fresh Prince in the early nineties on earth Bet, and had subsequently been killed during a following Endbringers encounter.- but it was just too unrealistic for him.

Pain was a bit too realistic for him as well, he was quickly finding out.

The throne proved more than capable of traversal from roof to roof, a slight hiccup in the realization that walking up the nearest wall proved slightly difficult as fragments of the wall would come off in the thrones grasp. 'Destruction of Public Property', Greg realized. Hopefully no one would be able to tie it back to him. He was a hero for goodness sakes.

Once on the roof, he could pass from one to the next with a combination of the thrones powerful limbs as well as a careful application of an internal gravity buffer. It made both himself and the throne light enough to make the slight hops, but he would have to be careful with its implementation. The sub processors recharged slowly, so it was more energy efficient to simply leave the grav dampers on. The recharge rate for subsequent activation could only be reduced to a worrying thirteen seconds. Unfortunately, the grav dampers also turned a two hundred pound throne and a sixty two pound Peridot into a floaty forty eighty pound accident waiting to happen. Forget brutes, any normal Joe Shmoe could pick her and her throne up and toss them headfirst into a wall.

She'd have to remember to disable it in combat.

Gregs plan had been simple, almost artistic in its implementation. He had no money. Who had money, that he wouldn't feel too bad about taking it from? The gangs! No one would care if he relieved them of a couple sheckles here and there. Well, no one but the people in those gangs in the first place. But who cared what they thought.

Greg had discussed this very subject with his friend Sparky many a time in the past. 'If you had powers, which gang would you go after?'

[hr]

"Merchants, full bore," his friend had stated languidly, taking a pull on his toke.

"Really," Greg had replied dully, eying the doobie in his friends hand.

"Don't give me that shit," Sparky had testily barked back. "I buy my shit from a guy in the Empire. They may be racist assholes, but at least they aren't fucking Merchants."

Greg let out a confused sigh, looking down at his friend. "I would have thought you'd be all smiles and praise for them. Yuh-know, drugs and all?"

Sparky gave him a dissatisfied huff, smoke pouring from his nose in an acrid cloud. "Man, fuck the Merchants. Right up the tailpipe. They don't care about the experience, they're all about manipulation."

"I thought they just peddled drugs." Greg had woodenly stated, taking a slight puff on the offered handout. He didn't often partake of his friends vices, but every so often he found them to be quite relaxing.

"That's what they want you to think, if you're just focused on the obvious shit then you never see the filth lying underneath..."

"Plenty of filth lying on top," Greg joked.

"Yeah, but it gets worse the deeper you go. The only reason they peddle drugs in the first place is to get more members. Remember Toby?"

"Scrawny guy, year ahead of us? Haven't seen him in a while," Greg admitted, wracking his brain for references to the freckle laden teen.

"He bought his shit from the Merchants. They lulled him into a false sense of security, selling him what he wanted, when he wanted it. Then, they switched their ingredients on him. What was just a happy way to pass the time," he held up his joint, waggling it in the air between them, "became a gut gnawing addiction. They refused to sell him the stronger stuff again, not unless he joined up! That's how they get you man, they wait until they're just 'those guys that sell drugs' to you, then they slip the noose around your neck!"

"Huh," Greg muttered, "Wow, yeah, fuck those guys."

"Fucking Merchants."

[hr]

A plus point, the Merchants were also obviously the weakest of the three main gangs. They only had three Capes, a breaker a shaker and a tinker. With one of them being a drug addled mushhead -similar to his chosen cape name-, the gang leader being a drug addled wastrel, and the last being a drug addled -actually, you could just refer to any Merchant member as 'drug addled' they probably had to put it on their drivers licenses, right under eye colour or something.- tinker Greg was actually surprised they were still active. Drugs were a profitable business, apparently. Anyway, Mush apparently never roused himself unless Skidmark actively kicked his ass into gear.

That was one potential trouble marked off the list.

For both Skidmark and Squealer it was a bit more of an issue. Sure, Squealer was most likely holed up inside a workshop cobbling her shitty rides together with spit glue and happy thoughts. So it was unlikely that he'd encounter her unless he actively searched her out. Might be worth it to try and steal one of her rides. If only to use them for the various weapons she had managed to superglue and duct tape to the sides.

Skidmark however... As the leader, if anyone saw Greg and called it in... He would definitely be on the scene promptly. Asshole had a tendency to tussle with Capes, even if they were trying to de-escalate the situation. Dude just liked trapping people in his fields and mocking them. At least that was better than that one time he had locked down Armsmaster. Took a crowbar to his suit for a good minute before he was chased off by Miss Militia.

Definitely a drop in ol armsies popularity.

So it was rather simple what Gregs course of action was to be.

"Stealth mode, don't fail me now!" he crowed out. Almost immediately, he slapped a hand to his mouth. Yelling out his position wasn't stealthy. It was admittedly the exact opposite of stealthy. Bad Greg.

Under him, the throne shimmered slightly, the surface of the protoshell deepening to a darker shade of green. Same as his drones, he could still see it. Not that he could still preen over that, being undertaken so entirely by his little house invader. In time. He tugged the plastic windscreen out of the shell, locking it into place between him and the outside world. Not the most high tech, and he had ran out of materials before he could make a cockpit she'll that also was affected by the stealth field.

So for now, he'd have to hope no one would notice the blurry viewing glass supposedly hovering around. He'd keep to the shadows, and it's not like people ever looked up. Especially at night.

Finding the Merchant den had been stupefyingly easy, Greg just had one of his drones follow an open member from Winslow. The dumbass had dawdled all the way to the merchants territory near the docks, revealing two of their storehouses and 'recreational areas'. Nothing on their main base yet, and not a whisper of any of the confirmed capes.

They could always be keeping a cape in reserve, a secret weapon to throw the tide of battle.

It's what Peridot would do.

Sending his drones in had been almost laughably easy. Like with Winslow, he had his handy little robonoids keep to the ceiling as they crept on as quietly as they could. Tons of people just sitting around, Greg had been forced to wait for the majority to either fall asleep or leave. His robonoids quickly located their main storeroom, where he found they kept several duffle bags of loose cash.

Stealing from the Merchants was almost embarrassingly easy.

All he had to do was Have his drones grab the bags and drop themselves out a convenient window. He hadn't even needed to open the dang thing, it was just too darn easy!

Retreating with nerves racing, eyes darting at every sound. Greg swore that the whole 'running away' from his score was even more stressful than doing the darn act in the first place!

It was a few blocks away, just skirting the outside of Merchant territory that the roof in front of Greg tore itself apart with a near titanic 'boom'.

Greg froze in his tracks, the damage on the roof ahead of him an ample testament to something not being right.

"I can't see you," a voice called out from his left. Greg slowly turned, keeping the throne as stationary as possible. "But I can feel you! Come on out little cape, lemme see your face!"

Greg froze, recognizing the profile of the man before him. Stormtiger. Empire cape, not as quite as much of an asshole as Hookwolf. Liked to play with his 'food', had ricocheted Laserdream between walls of air before he was chased off by Brandish about a year ago. Aereokinesis, could form the air around him into blades that he propelled with force great enough to shear through steel plate. Was also able to form shields that could shrug off hits from Glory Girl. Holy crap.

"I said," the cape let out irritably, throwing his hands out and releasing four blades of air. The four waves crashed down around him, just barely missing the edges of the outside of the throne. "I know you're there! I can feel the air inside your little pod... Or rather, I can feel the absence of the air where it should be! So come on out," his tone turned caustic, "or the next blast just cuts you to pieces."

Greg weighed his options. He had to run. That was only common sense. Once he got far enough away, he could throw down a warp plate and just zip off. He'd lose the throne, but at least he still had the money. From the barest glances he had given the inside of the duffle, he had seen more hundreds than he had ever layed eyes on before.

Stormtiger hadn't mentioned anything about the smaller robonoids, but he could just be waiting to see what Greg would do. Surreptitiously, Greg sent out a command for them to get into position as he played his hand.

He popped the windscreen. Arcing it back over his head and inside the sheath where it had lain before. "Hi there!" He called out cheerfully as he maneuvered the throne to face him fully. In for a penny, in for a pound... "Wonderful night we're having, wouldn't you say? A bit windy for my tastes, but to each their own..." He trailed off, belatedly realizing he was blathering.

"Hmm," Stormtiger let out, taking in her appearance. "A little young to be out this late, aren't you?"

"What can I say, moisturizer does wonders," Greg vollied back, "Just makes the wrinkles up and disappear. Now, are you through accosting me on my lovely night out, or are we going to have a problem?" She stated with a knowing smirk.

"As I see it," the man stated arrogantly, shaking his head in amusement. "We already have a problem, see? Here you are, in the middle of the night, climbing around in Empire turf like these here buildings are your very own jungle gym. We can't have that, now can we?"

"This isn't Empire territory," Greg shot back, arching her back in irritation.

"And yet, here I am," stated Stormtiger viciously, a frown flitting across his face. "And here you are. Peridot, wasn't it?"

Greg flinched, a shiver that crossed her spine in the span of an instant. How...

"Saw what you did, turned in that evidence of what that nigger was up to. Good job, protecting that girl," he said, chuckling lightly to himself. "Shame about the other two, but it's not like they were sympathizes in the first place. Hang around the niggers too long, and the taint rubs off on you, you know?"

Greg stayed silent, a frown marring her features as she considered her next words. "I'll be upfront," she started, drilling him with an acid laced glare. "I don't confine myself to such limited thinking. The true tragedy at play there was the fact that a young girl was being bullied. The skin colour of her aggressors had little to do with it. Anyway, don't you think the 'race card' is kinda a moot point with me?" She raised an arm, holding it in the faint moonlight. "Not exactly, pure master race 'white' here."

"And a right true shame that," Stormtiger admitted, shaking his head. "Now see, I was told to keep an eye out for you. We all were. Tinkers is a right valuable commodity after all. Told us to make the pitch..." His stance subtly changed, where once stood a cautious, relaxed man was a rigid warrior capable of moving at a moments notice. "But I can see I'd just be flapping my gums. No use wasting my time..."

He flung his arms outwards, blades of air arcing along the roof as each wisp carefully bisected eight of her robonoids. Shit, he could see them. There was only four left, the rest left in basement as they worked on the next set of projects. Two of his blasts whipped out, tearing the legs out from under her throne.

"And if we can't have you, well..." He let out a low chuckle as he stalked slowly forward, a slight hop in his step. "You know. No one can have you, yada yada yada and all that jazz."

Greg reached up to her gem, frantic action tearing the gauntlet from its slot inside and forming it around her left arm. Stormtiger reached out, surprise on his face as another blast of air slashed its way through the wrist. The hand clattered to the ground between them, both hunks slowly disappearing into a tangle of sparkles.

"Awwww, you're not even a tinker?" He let out in a disappointed drawl. "Well ain't the shit. Had my hopes up little lady," he crossed the final distance, leaning forward as he cupped the underside of her chin. "No point in keeping you now, if all you got is shitty projections. I'll be taking this as a consolation prize," he muttered, reaching down and grabbing the duffle bag. A couple bills slid out the opening, "Looks like you at least had a bit of fun... But as you oh so politely pointed out..."

He raised his free hand above his head, the winds whistling and straining through his fingers as they fought for dominance.

"You just ain't the right colour."

The world around Greg devolved into a whirlwind of motion, the winds tearing the building around him to pieces. He saw Stormtiger let out a laugh, using his winds to leap to another building as his wind made quick its work. Rubble quickly cut off his sight, and after a minute of settling quiet Greg tried to move.

He was pinned. His right arm was trapped, along with his lower body. He could still wiggle his toes, so at least he hadn't been crippled. His left hand was free, if he could only reach up to tap at his gem... A flash of light was swallowed up by the refuse around him, a small dinner plate sized disk of pink crystal falling into his hand. A slight twist in his bones, and Greg fell.

He lay on the surface of the warppad for the next half hour, desperately trying to curb his crying.[/hr][/hr]

 
3.5 Ramping Up; Interlude Stormtiger

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
Chad stared at the ruined remains of the building across from him, carefully keeping an eye out for any movement. He'd have to leave anyway before any cops or PRT suckers showed up to put a damper on the mood. They always showed up after he broke something, wouldn't let him have his fun.

Not that tonight had been that much fun. He had cornered the new cape that everyone had been looking for, which he thought was a might ironic seeing as she had a whole rooftop she could have run away on. Not that she'd have gotten very far, but at least it would have made his night slightly more enjoyable. She had just cowered like a scared little girl.

That was all she looked like in the first place. He had been slightly hopeful when she had pulled out all those little robots, but they had been a right disappointment as well. They split open from the slightest flexing of his power, he had been hoping they would shrug off a couple hits.

Couldn't put too much stock on projections, anyway. The less things said about Crusader the better. Pansy ass always hid behind his piddly little ghosts, probably would fold under a single hit. Glass jawed little shit.

He dug his phone out of his pants pocket, flipping the case open so he could select a quick dial. He waited for three rings, bobbing along to the staccato beat.

"What?" He heard call out from the other end of the call. "Do you have any idea how fucking late it is? I have a meeting in the morning, I can't afford to show up looking like I spend my time in a more nocturnal leaning, so say your piece and get it over with."

Ah, yes. Being the face of Medhall in his identity as Max Anders, he was expected to keep looking like an average, normal individual. Fucking Kaiser.

Not that he actually cared. Who fucking cared about Medhall? They should just drop the pretense and take over. Not like anyone else actually deserved to rule this dump but them.

"Just doing a call in," he started, breath catching in his throat as his bosses voice practically yelled out.

"Then check in with Brad! I've told you a thousand times, I'm not to be disturbed at home!" His boss let out a low sigh, and he could almost see the steel jawed man pawing at his brow in his minds eye. "Whatever you have, it better be important. Ground breaking lay, mind shatteringly important. We've already talked about your disgusting lack of respect..." He gulped, almost audible on the line.

The last time he had stepped out of line, pissed off the boss just a bit too much...Kaiser had forced Othala to give Chad invulnerability to wounds, while taking away none of the pain. He had left him impaled on a bed of metallic spikes for over an hour, with explicit instructions given to a couple of thugs to periodically throw cups of orange juice on the open injuries as well as jostling the surface Chad was chained to.

He unconsciously fiddled with a chain attached to his pants, an ever present reminder to his previous failings.

"Well, I... Uh, I found Peridot," he finally choked out.

"...Congratulations, You might have actually done something right for once," Kaisers voice carried across, filled with pleased warmth. "Can I expect to see her when I come in tomorrow? Or will she be undergoing a slight bit of... 'Rehabilitation'? If she's going to be in the stocks, I'd rather not waste my time. Go see her in a week or two once she's more pliant."

"Uh... Neither. Turns out she wasn't a tinker. Just projections. Weak ass shit too, couldn't even hold up to a light breeze. Green nigger, too," Chad explained, trying to keep his voice level.

"...Green?"

"Yeah, like in her profile pic on her YouTube. Turns out it wasn't a photoshop, bitch was actually green! Anyway, wasn't a total bust, she had a whole bag of cash. Looks like she knocked over one of Skids parks," he lifted the bag up, taking a sharp whiff. "Ugh, yeah, definitely one a Poopstains. Want me to throw up an ABB tag on a couple walls?"

While only tangentially a nuisance, the Merchants were most useful when they were utilized towards their own goals. If they thought some chink knocked over one of their parks, who were they to dissuade them from such a belief?

"Make it quick and leave the area. No need to give them any reason to suspect anything untoward. What of the girl? Did you take care of her?"

"Yeah, dropped a building on her head. She dead as fuck," he boasted, turning and walking off.

"How unfortunate, Well, it's only to be expected," his silky voice traveled through the line, trailing traces of malice in its wake.

"Everyone knows independents never last long, anyway."
 
3.6 Ramping Up; Interlude Mysterious Stranger?

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
He stalked on through the narrow corridors, the low walls burdened with untold treasure. Hands reaching forth, seemingly at random he acquired his bounty and made his way towards the keeper of this realm. The arbiter, the gatekeeper, the unchallenged lord. He who distributed the glory and wealth of this land.

He dumped his gathered glut upon the alter, looking onward at the impassive face of his judge.

"That comes out to fifteen twenty nine," the youth stated, sniffling as he scratched at his chin.

"Fif-...what? The sign said they were half off!" Gary whined, waving a hand at the energy drinks in the pile before him.

"Sorry sir, that sale ended two days ago. Dale should've... Anyway, they're full price again."

Gary glared at the minimum wage sycophant, intent on seeing if he could melt the impetuous teens face off with but a thought. Nothing. Would've been cool, though.

"Fine! Outta twenty," he declared, dragging the bill from his wallet and throwing it on the counter. The kid gave him his change, piled the various foodstuffs into a plastic bag, and returned to his torturous workday. Gary exited the store -almost deciding to return and complain at the kid once more upon seeing that the brat had crushed the bag of chips by upending the drinks on top of them- and got into his decent -crappy- little station wagon. Wasn't the best of vehicles, but it was sturdy.

His phone rang.

"Yo!" He called out upon seeing the number displayed on the cracked screen. "Whatchu want?" He stated, pulling out of the parking lot and making his way back to the hangout. Technically illegal to talk and drive, but he had a pocket on his hat he could just slot his phone into. Technically unsafe, but who cared?

"Duuuude," the garbled voice returned from the other end of the call. "Did you replace the fire detectors?"

"What?" Gary muttered, momentarily confused. "No, that shits annoying. Why? It's not like we need them, what's the chance that anything in there would actually start burning?"

"Probably higher, now that you said that," the other joked. "Nah, I mean... Somethings beeping."

"What's beeping?" Gary asked.

"I dunnooooo!" His friend returned with an annoyed drawl. "I thought it was the proximity alarms, but nothing! I checked the locks, the circuit breaker box, the console, everything! It's coming through the intercoms man, this weird, annoying 'needle-deep' sound! I'm this close to taking a broom handle to the detectors, just to be sure... And now it's gotten louder!"

Gary could hear the sound now, emanating with such pitch that it was clearly audible even over their phone call.

"The hell is that?" he asked, confused. It didn't sound like anything he could remember, but given who had designed the system that wasn't all that surprising. At times it seemed he threw in certain features just to piss off anyone who didn't know any better. "Look, just try the main console, look for any big red buttons. Or flashing buttons. Oooh! Big red flashing button!"

"Thaaaaanks, as if I didn't already try that. They're all flashing, genius!"

"Wait, seriously?" Gary asked, pulling into what looked like a barely used office building. The sign on the front of the store was faded, proudly declaring the tagging "Psychic Detectives! You lose it, we'll conjure it out of nothing or your money back!' The glass was dusty, a couple slurs written into the filth by a probing hand. The door squealed in protest at being opened, a testament to how well he had 'fixed' it. He could probably get a couple more decibels out of it, but the point was to make their office look like it was a piece of shit.

Not to make it look like a place that was trying to look like a piece of shit, in order to hide something. Which, considering they were trying to hide something, made it a bit of a balancing act.

He ended the call, now that he was here there was really no further point to it. He could talk to him in a minute, in person. He locked the door behind him, flipping the sign to let the outside world know they were closed.

He retreated into the break room, stealthily reaching his hand into the bottom slot of the vending machine and tapping out the code on the concealed number pad. The entire thing shifted, revealing a door behind it before closing once more with Gary on the other side of it. The small room juddered once upon him pressing a button inset on the wall, the contents of his stomach settling uncertainly as the elevator made its way downwards.

The door opened once more, revealing just how soundproof the conveyance had been made. An ear piercing notice sounded off every few seconds, permeating the air around them with its caustic vibrations.

"The hell is that?" he choked out, clasping a hand over each ear. This in turn nearly brained him with his bag of purchases, swinging freely with his haste.

"I dunno!" came from his friend, frantically wringing his hands as he came into eyeshot. Brown hair, thin figure, a face drawn and pinched from years of worry, he didn't exactly cut an impressive figure. "It started just after you left, I tried to shut it off but it's not coming from a recognized system. I tried just turning off the speaker system entirely, but a rerouted subroutine kicked in and locked me out of the console! It says that code 'nineteen four nine eight' is in effect."

"Nineteen," Gary puzzled over in his head, trying to remember the obscure guide codes that had once been in place. "Four... Quit being lazy and...Oh!" He exclaimed, making his way to the main atrium.

"What, what is it?" his friend asked, peering over his shoulder as he depressed a certain blue button on a side console.

"Nineteen four nine eight," Gary replied as the contents of the secret panel was revealed. "Quit being lazy and pick up the phone!" He dragged the ancient receiver from its resting place, the blaring alarm petering out as he shouldered it next to his ear. "We never use this anymore, heck, I can't remember the last time it was used, period! I think he set it up to keep in contact with his mom or something? I dunno. Who the hell would even be calling us anyway? Yello?" He stated, hearing the line click into place as the tired old system tried to connect both ends. "Luigis linguine parlor, you give us money we'll fix your toilet..." He trailed off, waiting for the reply.

"...That you Gary?" A feminine voice traveled across the line, further confusing him.

"Uhh... Yes? Who is this, how did you get this number?"

A moment passed, almost making him think the call had been dropped.

"This sound more familiar?" A deep, growling voice sounded out from the old handset. Gary almost dropped it in his surprise, the fat block tumbling through his fingers before he once more secured it.

"Holy shit, Susan? Susan Veder?" He ground out, unable to keep the surprise from his voice. "Holy crap, we haven't seen you for years, how you doin?"

"Better," the voice on the other end of the call reverted her her previous pitch and timber, an edge of solemness creeping in. She hadn't taken their bosses death well, splitting before the gang could almost literally implode. "What about you?"

"Oh, you know, day to day stuff..."

"Is that the boss?" His friend whispered, poking him in the side.

"Yeah, yeah, it's her, stop poking you dweeb," he whispered back, holding back a grunt as another probing finger sunk into his gut.

"Got a job, had to start paying rent to keep the old hideout off the market."

"That old deli?" She asked, memories of the past front echoing in Gary's mind. Back then, they had kept up their disguise by stalfing an actual sandwich place out of their doors. It was child's play to keep any suspicion off of them, as long as they were willing to cycle a few members on and off active duty. After the boss... 'Left', the place had shut down, their numbers scattering like rats from a sinking ship.

"Yeah, we're pretending to be a psychic detective service now. Get jobs on occasion, mostly nutters that think that stuffs real," he explained. "So, uh... Not that it isn't nice to hear your voice after all this time but... It's kinda weird? I guess? I just can't shake the feeling that if you didn't need something you wouldn't be calling in the first place..."

The other end of the line went silent, before a sharp sighed inched it's way across. "You know me too well Gary, always did. Actually, I have a kid now and..."

A pause sounded out between them once more, as his old friend once more tried to gather her thoughts.

"Well, he got in a bit of trouble. Triggered recently, had a run in with a gang cape. I was hoping you could help me out."

"Just... Could you do me a favor?"
 
3.7 Ramping Up; Interlude Observer

Flutters Is Shy

Light The Fire, It's Time to Write!
Author
-Winged One; Saw a few news reports, BB is looking rather interesting as of late...

-XxVoidCowboyxX; really? just as boring as always for me, nothing really new. there's supposedly some sort of tinker merc group going around kidnapping little girls, but nothing really newsworthy.

-Winged One; Here, an EBB member caught a couple seconds on his phone before he was taken down.

-XxVoidCowboyxX; holy shit, how did you get this?

-Winged One; PRT confiscated the remains of the phone, uploaded the memory to an onsite server to try and save what wasn't corrupted. From there, it was easy pickings.

-XxVoidCowboyxX; you have got to let me know who youre supplier is one of these days. let the information be free!

-Winged One; Free? Well if all information should be free then I suppose you wouldn't mind if I uploaded this to your myspace account...

-XxVoidCowboyxX; I yield! i yield! geesh, how the hell did you even get that? I had to be like... fvie in that picture, maybe nine.

-Winged One; You are not very good at discerning age. You were eleven by my records, as you can see by the print on the front of the footie pajamas. That particular motif of Mouse Protector wasn't put into production until roughly four years ago, and was discontinued less than a few months later after she once again changed her costumes appearance. As for where I got it... You'd be surprised what one can find on the Internet. =P

-XxVoidCowboyxX; fine, I'm not gonna ask. I concede defeat, you are the superior information gatherer, the penultimate facet raker of the eastern coast.

-Winged One; And the realms beyond, don't you dare forget it. =)

-XxVoidCowboyxX; sooooooooooo, it's shaky as all hell, but I AM seeing that right, aren't I? a tan skinned amazon with a bright pink sword just bihtc slapped that poor guy into the side of a building, right?

-Winged One; Indeed. Quite curious that no one seems to know anything about her. She escaped even my senses, only appearing at seeming random after I delved into one of Armsmasters latest reports. Something about a possible geological tinker, but with no evidence to be had besides the depressions left in innocuous locations across BB.

-XxVoidCowboyxX; shit, that sounds several kinds of illegal. we clear, right?

-Winged One; Naturally. I wouldn't be talking about it in the first place if I was worried.

-XxVoidCowboyxX; oh, yeah, duh. my bad, forgot. so, you think they're connected? cause, 'girl with sword' sounds a bit detached from 'tinker'. its brockton bay, capes keep popping up all the time, could just be two different capes. heck, wonder woman there ain't even the most odd weve had recently. did you hear about Peridot? she uploded a video of these girls bullying this other girl from my school. It was fucked up, they should have been sent off to juvie long.

-Winged One; Juvie Long?

-XxVoidCowboyxX; *TO juvie A long TIME AGO. dunno why it did that, I swear I wrote it out.

-Winged One. Oh well. And yes, I have heard of Peridot. Embarrassingly, the video was my first indicator to her existence. Quite galling, to find out about such things from the evening news...

-XxVoidCowboyxX; SERIOUSLY? I actually managed to find something before you? i think i need to pinch myself...

-Winged One; I'll ignore that. If you're smart, you will as well. If you pinched yourself every time you were surprised, you might not have much arm left after all the damage is done. I will admit I am curious, you have information about Peridot from before her media debut?

-XxVoidCowboyxX; hell yeah, I was fucking THERE. didn't get video or pics, I stepped on a cats tail and dropped my phone when it freaked out. anyway, this truck barrels down the street, followed by these two cars. The first car starts smoking after Miss Militia shot it or something, and it dropped back as the truck flipped. the green girl, Peridot, gets sent flying from the truck as Miss Militia takes care of all the guys that were in the cars. she disappeared before I could get any video. *Sad Face* Apparently shes a tinker or something? hotwired the truck and drove it halfway across town. shes smaller than me, maybe half my size so I have no freaking idea how she was able to reach the pedals.

-Winged One; Found the report. Armsmaster noted a lack of any noticeable tinker tech. Says she's most likely not a tinker, just that she knows how to hotwire older vehicles. Perhaps Dinah Alcott assisted?~

-XxVoidCowboyxX; who? name sounds familiar, but I cant place it.

-Winged One; And you call yourself observant. Alcott, as in Dewey Alcott. The Mayor of your fair... Well, I suppose fair is a bit heavy praise to heap upon BB. It's a town, city, place, at the very least. Just not very 'fair'.

-XxVoidCowboyxX; ehn, that's fair I guess. =p. sooo, daughter? what was she doing running around with a cape? was Peridot saving her or something?

-Winged One; For someone that was supposedly THERE, you are surprisingly bereft of usable or relative information.

-XxVoidCowboyxX; I was there, honest! just... oh uh, crap, sorry, I gots to go. talk to you later.

-Winged One; See you later, little one.
 
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