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Death's Head, A Worm fanfic

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by gideon020, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Table of Contents:

    Field Testing:
    Field Testing 1, Field Testing 2, Field Testing 3, Field Testing 4, Field Testing 5, Field Testing 6, Interlude - Shifting Storms.


    First Blood:
    First Blood 1, First Blood 2, First Blood 3, First Blood 4, First Blood 5, First Blood 6, Interlude - The Dragon and Her Jewel.


    Nazi Gold:
    Nazi Gold 1, Nazi Gold 2, Nazi Gold 3, Nazi Gold 4, Nazi Gold 5, Nazi Gold 6, Nazi Gold 7, Nazi Gold 8, Interlude - Panacea's Hate Crimes.


    Rattenkrieg:
    Rattenkrieg 1, Rattenkrieg 2, Rattenkrieg 3, Rattenkrieg 4, Rattenkrieg 5, Rattenkrieg 6, Rattenkrieg 7, Interlude - The Death Korps
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014 at 1:56 AM
  2. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Field Testing 1

    The universe has a sick sense of humour. It was the only sensible and logical explanation to what happened to me, the only sensible and logical explanation to why I was where I was right now, standing in the middle of Empire 88 territory, walking towards a group of young aspiring skinheads in an alleyway in the dead of night.

    I had figured it out after my stay in hospital, after I spent several hours trapped inside my own defiled locker, lying there with nothing to do but read my study notes on a history test regarding World War 2 hoping that someone would help me before panic had set in. I had figured it out when I found myself drawing a weapon in a blank page of my notebook, a detailed schematic of large pistol, one too advanced for current technology. But most importantly, I figured it out when I found myself building the pistol, and couldn't complete it because it was missing one hateful symbol.

    I drew the pistol I had built in my garage, the end result of nearly a month's worth of...well, tinkering, to create a rugged design that I could use just about anywhere. It was heavy, balanced perfect to be used as a club in my small, gloved hand, and the power cell in it's grip was a design that I knew would give it functionally unlimited ammunition so long as I recharged it...every one hundred years. I would be proud, but the symbol emblazoned on the grip as part of the user recognition system, that damn symbol, soured the accomplishment. I shook my head and resumed walking towards the group, who had now noticed my approach from their cluster around a burning barrel. Street soldiers having a night out talking, drinking and probably doing drugs.

    Sloppy, I was already planning out a thousand different ways to start, and end, the fight I had planned. Seven hundred of those plans I discarded because I didn't want to kill them. Another one hundred and fifty I discarded because they required a bit more destruction than I wanted to cause for my first night out, fifty I placed in a 'maybe' pile, which left me with one hundred ways to end this fight quickly and painlessly.

    For me. I knew I had their attention the moment I stepped into the light. I knew that they immediately classified me as a possible ally the moment they saw the symbol branded into the rebreather unit on my mask. I hadn't spent one month just on the gun, it took about two weeks to build my 'uniform', and that was mostly forcing down my revulsion at having to stitch that symbol into visible areas just to ensure that the shield unit would operate correctly without bursting into flames or melting, that unless I stamped that symbol into the metal of the rebreather, I could potentially breath in poisonous gas from the malfunctioning multi-filter on my mask.

    One month of steadily deadening myself to the symbol, but now that symbol was making it easy for me to get in close enough to hear one of them ask, "Woah, who's the new blood?" I felt sick at the way he looked me over with respectful eyes, "Damn, you must be hardcore."

    "More than you." I spat, shifting my grip on my pistol visibly, and I watched as some of them growled, and one stepped forward in a clear attempt to intimidate me. Good, everything was going to plan then, before the one who spoke up stopped the thug.

    "Easy." He looked over at me, "Didn't think you were a girl. You just join up?" I nodded and he continued, "So, why are you here? Kaiser want you to do a job for him?" I shook my head, finding a small amount of satisfaction at his confused expression, "So why are you here?"

    I lifted my pistol as it hummed, "Kaiser wants me to clean up." I pulled the trigger just as his eyes widened and watched a bolt crackling energy strike him in the chest, throwing him back into the group, knocking down several others as I shifted my aim and fired into the head of the one who had wanted to attack me, now charging with a knife drawn. The impact of the projectile however, caused him to drop down to the ground screaming and I realised that the energy had fried his eyes, he was blind. I focused on the others, firing with single, precision shots, until the entire group was down.

    With the last E88 gang member down, the only sound in the alleyway was the sound of the one I had blinded still screaming before I calmly fired a shot into his back and holstered the pistol. In the silence I carefully listened for the sound of sirens, before shrugging when I heard nothing, whoever lived in this area either paid 'taxes' for the E88 to protect them instead of the police, or they just didn't care.

    It was something I noticed during that month; the way how my mind could suppress emotions when practising my shooting, the way I could coldly analyse a situation and them come up with hundreds, thousands of plans to bring down a single target or a group of targets. The way I could aim with disciplined precision, handling a weapon as if it was a natural part of me. I was somewhat stronger and tougher but all of that was just to support my real power.

    The power that I was holding in my hand as I switched the pistol from single-shot to rapid-fire and began leaving the alleyway. So far, it was a successful test, but I couldn't say out any longer. Dad got up earlier than me, and I wanted to get some sleep before I went jogging in the morning as well.

    I slipped the pistol into my holster and began working my way back home, right before a figure dropped down from above and I halted as my mask lenses compensated for the bright glow as I calmly stated, "Purity." My powers may be keeping me calm, but my mind was racing with fear. Purity was a major Empire 88 heavy hitter, and the only thing that was powerful enough to stand a chance was my pistol.

    Purity raised a hand, "Easy, I'm not here to fight you." My hand still went towards the pistol before a bolt of light struck the wall next to me, "I told you, I don't want to fight."

    "If you're here with a recruitment pitch, fuck off." I spat, "I have places to be."

    Purity frowned, "I'm not here to recruit you. I just want to talk to you."

    My mind was giving me thousands of plans, all of them involving the destruction of the surrounding area from dodging Purity's blasts while firing my gun in Charge Mode. That was unacceptable. I needed to build better equipment before I could take on Purity, or Hookwolf, or any of the others...

    "Are you listening to me?" I cursed inwardly at realising that I had completely zoned out. Whatever, it probably wasn't important.

    What was important was what my mask's sensors had picked up on the roof above us, and I coldly stated, "No. Considering you were just keeping me here so Hookwolf could ambush me."

    Purity looked up in shock and I rolled my eyes behind my mask at the expression of shock as I looked up as well to see him already starting to change into his distinctive form. My mind was still screaming with fear at how badly this situation had escalated, but with my focus now on escaping I had more than enough plans to escape the area as I yanked my pistol out and pulled the trigger, listening to the whining of the pistol as it charged up a shot. If I fired on Purity, that would put her out of action long enough for me to escape Hookwol-

    I could only stare in shock as Hookwolf ignored me, in favour of leaping down towards Purity with a howl, as the woman changed into light and shot out of the way, knocking me on my back from the backblast as the pistol continued to whine as my finger remained firmly where it was. I raised the gun to eye-level as I watched the two fight but stopped before I released the trigger.

    Why was I watching this? I should take advantage of the situation and withdraw, escape the area, let the two fight.

    The other part of me asked a more important question. Why were they fighting? If it was just to take down some newbie cape with a fetish for...historical imagery, Purity would have been more than enough, overkill even. But Hookwolf seemed intent on doing his very best to kill Purity. Why?

    My pistol was still aimed at them, moving between Purity and Hookwolf, indicator lights flashing to show a full charge. Full charge, I had tested that only once at the boat graveyard, and it had blasted out a massive hole in the side of hull big enough to cause the rest of the hull section to collapse in on itself from the sheer heat.

    I made my decision, took aim, and released the trigger.

    The gun kicked, flaps opening to vent super-heated steam, as a basketball sized bolt of energy shot out of the pistol with a sound that would have been more appropriate coming from a battleship than a pistol, screaming across the distance towards Hookwolf and Purity.

    Purity managed to dodge out of the way in time.

    Hookwolf didn't and I lost track of him as the bolt engulf him in a massive explosion as I raised an arm to shield my eyes, the shockwave sending me sliding back several feet, before I caught myself and scrambled to my feet.

    I didn't check to see the results of my shot. That fight, along with the explosion, had to have called in the police and Protectorate.

    I had to leave. Now.

    I didn't look back as I ran for my life.

    In the back of my mind, I clinically noted that despite some disruptions, this was so far a good field test of my abilities.

    But more would be required.
     
  3. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Field Testing 2

    After that little battle in E88 territory, I decided to postpone any future 'testing' until I was certain things had cooled down, so I made sure to tell Dad that I was heading out to the library to do some studying so I could have an excuse to start tinkering in my workshop.

    My 'workshop' was really just an abandoned office building, and if anyone looked at it, it wouldn't have raised any suspicions. Until they walked inside, like whoever tripped the proximity alarm just did. It was one part of the smokescreen that kept people away, and made me sick every time I walked in. Just like the fact that I was staring at my current project with disgust. It was perfect, a rifle-sized version of my pistol, with modular attachment points for tactical flexibility, a power-cell that would keep it running long after I died, and at full charge could probably give even Lung second thoughts.

    I just wished that I didn't have to mark the powercell with an eagle holding a swastika, the lightning bolt runes of the SS into the circuitry for the multi-function scope, and of course a blatant Swastika on the grip and stock. I hated this, hated how I couldn't make any of this without the blatant imagery, hated how easy it had been to get close because I wore a swastika and SS runes openly on my costume, hated how the costume made me look like some sci-fi Nazi stormtrooper from Earth Aleph alternate history games and fiction, hated how I could take all of the stuff that was on the internet and give it a Nazi twist, how secret weapon projects and conspiracies from World War 2 just made sense now!

    I put down my tools and grabbed my mask, the screen showing the intruder may have looked like something from the 1940's or 'Dieselpunk' as some people liked to say during my research sprees at the library, but it was more advanced than any computer currently in existence except for anything made by Dragon, and right now they were heading for the area I had set aside for my bigger projects like...oh fuck.

    I grabbed my pistol and the belt holster for it, clipping it into place, before making my way downstairs, thankful that I placed my workshop only one floor up. My mind was once again in two places; one side was coldly planning generalised strategies that would allow me to either defeat my intruder, or buy enough time to grab the large backpack that contained everything I would need to start up again in another location, it wasn't like I wasn't spoiled for choice in this city.

    I carefully opened another door into the 'Garage' as I liked to call it, mostly because this was where I tinkered with what I considered a long-term project. Before my musings could then turn to the fact that unlike the pistol and my other equipment I couldn't hide the swastika-clutching eagle on the side of the monster vehicle I was building, and the fact that even if I finished I'd have to demolish a wall to get it out, I found my intruder and felt my lip curl in a snarl as I watched Purity studying the literal floor-plan of my pet project I had drawn out in spray paint. She was in costume, but her powers were not in effect, allowing me to see that she had brown hair when it wasn't glowing, before shifting back as she turned to look at something I had done when I established this place, a large swastika I had spray-painted on the wall, but it wasn't the image that she was looking at.

    It was the words underneath that said, 'REMEMBER YOUR DREAM', the words I had sprayed to remind myself why I was doing this. Why I was working to accept using all of that imagery in my work. Why I was preparing for the disgust and hatred of an entire city, perhaps the entire country. Why I was going to fight to make this city better.

    Why I wanted to make my life have meaning, even if that meaning was clouded by that crooked cross.

    So, with my powers keeping my emotions in check, I stepped out from the doorway, quietly walked into the open, and fired a shot at the well next to Purity's head, "If you move, I will kill you."

    Purity remained still, "Well, considering what you did to Hookwolf, I can believe that." I blinked in surprise, before shaking my head.

    "If he's alive..." Purity interrupted me then.

    "No. You killed him. Whatever it was that gun of yours did, you vaporised his upper body." I could hear the smile in her voice, "Couldn't have happened to a nicer lunatic."

    "Wonderful, now get the fuck out of my place before I decide that you'd look better as incandescent ash." When she didn't move, I flicked the selector to 'CHARGE' and I knew I had her attention when the gun began to whine, "I killed Hookwolf, Purity, and I can just pack up and move once I kill you."

    Purity didn't move, and just as I was about to make another demand that she leave, she suddenly said, "What is your dream?" When I didn't reply she continued, "I believe in what I believe in, I will not make any excuses or apologies, but what is your belief, your dream?"

    I didn't reply for a long moment, before I replied, "My dream is to make this city a better place."

    "And?" Purity asked, "If you wanted to make the city a better place, you could have ju-" I released the bolt at partial charge, melting a hole in the concrete.

    "What did I tell you about the recruitment speeches. I don't want to hear them. And I certainly don't want to join the Empire 88." I spat, "You want to know why I attacked your thugs last night? Because they were an acceptable target, worthless street soldiers pretending that they were part of some great 'legacy', that they didn't have to do anything to justify it." I jerked my gun at the symbol, "Look at it, what does it represent? Power? Unity? Maybe in the past, but now all it stands for is evil and atrocities, of one man being consumed by his own ego and madness, of the waste of millions of lives, and a needless war."

    I sighed angrily, "Turn around. Now." Once she turned to face me, I waved at the 'Garage', "Look at this place Purity. If I could have gained any other power I could have joined the Wards, maybe I could have been a hero, hell I would have taken being a villain with the ability to control insects over this!" My power was now letting my emotions bleed through and I seized on them as I decided to rant, not caring what Purity was thinking at this moment, "But it's this fucking symbol, this worthless, disgusting symbol, that really pisses me off! Because you may like being a racist bigot, but I don't!"

    Purity made to speak when I fired another shot, "Shut up. I don't care. I don't care why you're here, I don't care how you found me, and I don't care about whatever questions you have. I hate this, I hate these powers, I hate that I can't make anything without displaying it otherwise it doesn't work, it might explode, or make me breath poison gas! I just..." I stared at the gun in my hand, "I just want to be a good person. But I can't do that so long as the Empire 88 exist, so long as the hate and disgust for this symbol exists. So I have to redeem it."

    Purity's voice was confused now, "What do you mean by redeeming it?"

    I laughed, "What do you think I mean? I mean I'm going to strip back all the hate and disgust, I'm going to make this symbol and the others related to it something to respect, to admire. I'm going to make it a beacon of hope and honour, I'm going to make it clean." I looked up at her masked face while feeling a manic smile come to mine, "I'm going to make it pure. None of this garbage of ideal race and ideal people, none of the baggage of the concentration camps or the ritual. Just the symbol, and only the symbol, standing on it's own as something people can respect."

    Purity shook her head, "They already respect it."

    "No, they respect the hate." I stressed the word, "They respect the cheap justifications for their inadequacies and hardships, they respect the easy way out in blaming everything on everyone who isn't their skin colour. They don't respect the symbol, it's nothing more than something to paid lip service to, just a visible marker that they can lay the blame on when they get arrested."

    "And what would you say if I repeated what you ignored when you killed Hookwolf? That I want to leave the Empire 88, that I want to try and make a fresh start, maybe actually be a hero, even a racist one, instead of being painted with the Neo-Nazi brush?"

    I was glad for the mask as I gaped at Purity, before I started laughing, "You've got to be joking!" I managed to breath out, "You could have gone to the PRT, to the Protectorate, promised to tone it down, change your image, do whatever it took to get rid of your former life and no longer be considered a Nazi, and you go to me, a kid who can't even build a radio without having to stamp a swastika on the back!" It was ludicrous, and I started laughing again, "I don't know if you think I can actually help you, but I think you just made a very big mistake."

    Purity shook her head, "No. You may not believe in the ideology, but I can tell that you believe in what you're saying, that you're dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make your plan work. That you're going to become a hero, even with the swastika as a major handicap to your image." She stared at me, "And I want in. Maybe I am making a mistake, but I can't keep going like I am right now. I either leave now, or I go all in with Kaiser and start goose-stepping."

    "But you're going to remain racist." I state.

    Purity shrugged, "I said I wanted to leave, I never said I was planning on changing my ideals. Besides..." I had a feeling that she was smiling behind her mask, "You could use a heavy hitter on your side couldn't you?"

    Damn, she had me there. And we would both be targeted by the E88 eventually. Still, "How did you find this place?"

    Now I could tell that Purity was smiling at me, "I followed you here, although you did a good job of concealing your face when you left." Fuck.

    I could lie to her, then burn this place and set up shop in another abandoned building, but the only other good places were near ABB and Merchant territory, or were just far enough that it would throw doubt on my library excuse. And while I might not have had any regrets about killing Hookwolf, Purity appeared sincere enough that I couldn't justify killing her.

    So I decided to take a chance and holstered my pistol before turning away, "I see you here with anyone else, and I mean anyone, I'll kill you."

    I walked towards the door as Purity asked, "So, we're teaming up?"

    I paused at the door, "You're simply getting someone who's willing to put up with you. I expect info on the Empire's stashes. Tonight." I paused for a moment, "Welcome to the team."

    Maybe I could put up with her. Who knows, I might actually be able to consider her in a somewhat friendly manner soon enough.

    I sighed as I walked up the stairs to finish my rifle. Maybe I should have just gone to the Protectorate.

    Because somehow I could tell that tonight's scheduled 'testing' would be a headache for me.

    And somehow, that made even getting the ability to control bugs so much more appealing.
     
  4. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Field Testing 3

    I woke up instantly when my new alarm clock sent a small electrical shock into my hand. Slapping it off, I shook off the tingling as I prepared myself for my next attack on the Empire 88. I knew that ever since I Triggered, Dad would occasionally check in on me since he tended to go to bed later than I did. Well, much later than I did since I adopted a sleeping pattern that allowed my enough time to spend jogging, some quick tinkering, then reach school in time for the usual bout of bullying and abuse from Sophia and the others.

    I paused in activating the holo-decoy that would keep my Dad unaware of my night-time excursion. Sophia...the temptation to pull off some kind of hate-crime and let the Empire 88 take the blame was strong, but I was better than that. I had to be better than that. The swastika was like a poisonous drug, it would feel good, but every indulgence would slowly kill me inside until I became just like what I was fighting. Carefully opening the door to my bedroom, I checked the hallway just in case Dad was still awake, heard nothing in the silence, and carefully closed the door before opening my bedroom window and grabbed the quick-drop line.

    It was sad, how easily I was going about keeping a secret from my Dad, but when the secret is his daughter making stuff that would give hardcore neo-Nazi's wet dreams, it was justified. That I was about to go out and hit the Empire 88, one of the strongest gangs in Brockton Bay, perhaps the entire county, or even the state, with an unrepentant racist whom I had allowed to join up on an apparent whim. Continuing the testing was important however, plus I had a way to test Purity's commitment to my mission. Once my shoes touched the ground, I immediately began running into the night, and I felt a slight thrill as I ran.

    Tonight's testing was going to be interesting.

    -----------------------------

    I was clicking together the final pieces of a modular component for my new rifle when the intruder alarm chimed and I glanced at the screen and frowned at seeing two dots, "You really don't want to test me Purity." I stated as I activated the rifle and set it to Pulse Shot. All that library research was paying off in the ways I could have my guns fire. While I couldn't add a Pulse Shot mode to my pistol, I was able to fit more functions into the rifle, which was reasonable and cemented it's future place as my go-to weapon in the future. But the rifle was just an enlarged version of my pistol with a few extra functions.

    It was the modular component underneath that I was interested in, an electrical bolas launcher for incapacitating anyone who tried to run. It was something I had originally made for the pistol, but it turned out that I couldn't fit it without making the pistol unbalanced. The rifle was a better match, and the bigger powercell meant I was able to tweak the output for an increased charge. In case I needed to take out anything tougher than some street thugs. But that wasn't important, the fact that Purity was apparently testing me on my promise to kill her if she disobeyed me as I slung the rifle over my shoulder and felt it hum.

    According to the data uplink in my mask, the two dots were in the Garage again, and I hefted the rifle in my hands as I carefully peeked around to corner to find Purity, and a small girl, and I grimaced as I loudly stepped out into the open with the rifle raised, "You're damn lucky I have eyes in this place Purity, otherwise I would have had a misunderstanding."

    The girl immediately ran behind Purity, who turned to face me, "I know what you said, but I needed to keep my daughter safe. It's only for the night, I have a place set up that neither Kaiser or the other Empire know about. Besides, the group's in a state of confusion since you killed Hookwolf."

    "I suppose you told Kaiser about the new Nazi cape who did it then?" I asked, keeping the rifle aimed squarely at her head. Unlike Single Shot, Pulse Mode was designed to be lethal and all of the plans running through my head told me that I couldn't face her with non-lethal shots if a fight started between us.

    "Even embellished the story a little, said you were ranting about 'purification' as you shot those thugs, and called Hookwolf a subhuman." I frowned behind my mask.

    "That wasn't really necessary." Purity shook her head as the little girl, deciding that it was safe, wandered over the large bench where I kept components under construction for my pet project as I continued, "That just makes it more difficult for you when they see you helping me."

    "It's a necessity." Purity replied, "Kaiser is a very charismatic person and his powers make him able to back up his threats. For all his pretences of being 'civilised', Kaiser is a very cruel person, and he's very good at helping people see his point of view. I should know..." She glanced at the girl, who was now considering poking a hover-unit, before she felt Purity's eyes on her and withdrew her hand as she stated, "I had a daughter with him."

    I blinked, before slowly lowering the rifle, "You have the information?" Purity held out a piece of folded paper and I walked over to take it, flipping it open to find a street map of Empire 88 territory, with several locations circled, neat handwriting telling me what was held in them and what protection was typically on sight. I chose my target, "Let's go."

    Purity shifted uneasily and I turned my head towards her, "You wanted to join me Purity." She sighed and nodded as I headed for the door, "Wait for me on the roof, I need to get ready." I headed back to my workshop. With this test I would need the full costume, not just for whatever protection my target would have, but also in case Purity turned on me or if we were intercepted by the Protectorate on the way there or back. So I began changing into the rest of the costume, mostly just modified military-style clothes, but it was the long coat that would be the most important, since it contained the shield generator that would be taking the brunt of any gunfire or super-powered attacks, and while I hadn't taken it on my first test run, I had one last thing to put on.

    I picked up the helmet and regarded it with a sigh. Once I put this on, there was really no turning back, since the distinctive lightning-bolt runes on the sides and the skull sitting on top of a swastika were prominently displayed for everyone to see. While it looked similar to the helmets used in World War 2, it in fact contained advanced equipment allowing me to protect my ears from loud noises, like gunfire and the sound of my new rifle. Once it clicked into place with my mask and I made sure the straps were secure, I headed up to the roof.

    When I arrived, Purity was already waiting for me there, and as she looked me over, "Certainly go for over the top don't you?"

    I snorted, "Not all of us can pull of the minimalist lightshow like you do." Not even working together for a night and I was already bantering with her, I must be lonely if the racist is the first really friendly human contact I've had in years, before pulling out the map and tapping one of the circles, "This is the target."

    Purity shifts, "Ever since you killed Hookwolf, Kaiser's made it clear that he wants Empire capes checking in on the stash houses in case the ABB or Merchants try something. That one's right in Storm Tiger's patrol route." I simply shifted the rifle into view and she nodded slowly, "If you're sure..."

    "I am. So..." I looked out at the city, "Think you can give me a lift?"

    Purity nodded, "I may be flying artillery, but I doubt you'd be much of a hassle even with the gear you're carrying." She cocked her head, "You don't think I'll drop you?"

    I chuckled, "What makes you think I spent all my time just tinkering a pistol and a rifle? I spent a month building the gadgets to put into my costume simply so I'd stop puking every time I looked at a swastika." I approached her, "Trust me, if you drop me, I'll survive and then you'll have to deal with me holding your daughter hostage."

    Purity didn't reply, just held me close and before I could say anything I was suddenly flying through the air looking through the world through a glowing haze.

    For my part, I simply hoped that the anti-gravity unit in my boots would actually work if she did decide to drop me.

    ---------------------------

    The 'target' as my mind so clinically labelled it, was an apartment building that the Empire 88 took over and repurposed for their criminal activities. It was also something of a hub for the area as Purity informed me upon landing. Now, staring at it through the scope of my new rifle from the roof of a building two blocks away, I could tell she was right, "Roof guards will have to go, then you can drop me off there while you distract them downstairs."

    At the lack of reply, I turned to see Purity looking directly at me, "Hey! Keep focused here, I don't care if they're former comrades or not, I need you to get the job done!"

    Purity shook her head, "It's not that. I was just thinking, even if you didn't or couldn't go the Protectorate, why didn't you join up with the ABB? The swastika is a major icon in asian culture and religion after all."

    I scoffed, "The ABB also happen to be made up of disgruntled Asians and Asian-Americans, many of whom aren't in touch with their culture and will see the swastika not as a Manji or sauvastika, but as a Nazi hakenkreuz rotated to be flat instead of at an angle. They'd sooner shoot me than offer me a place, and I'm pretty sure Bakuda would take offence at another Tinker joining up even if I could explain it away."

    Purity nodded, "And the fact that the Protectorate and Wards actually are marketed to the public means you're a public relations nightmare to the PRT." She chuckled, "Just like me."

    I snorted, "Please. You at least can get a new costume, maybe change the colour of your light, I can't do anything with my powers." I snapped up the rifle and before Purity could react, snapped off three hissing cracks with the rifle, watching three shapes drop to the hard concrete, "Let's go."

    Purity grabbed me and I was in the air once more before we landed and I moved away from her with a half-shove that turned into a roll just as the roof access opened to reveal an Empire thug and my rifle snapped up and fired into his chest, Purity watching as he collapsed to the ground, before Purity suddenly asked, "How the hell is that thing so quiet? Your pistol the other night was pretty fucking loud."

    I calmly depressed the rear of the barrel with a click and pulled off the suppressor jacket I had made, noting that like I had suspected, without that swastika on the connection to the rifle's cooling system, it was starting to melt. I heard Purity mutter, "Of course, what was I thinking? I teamed up with Nazi Batgirl."

    "I don't have the chest to pull off spandex." I quipped as I headed for the doorway, having long accepted that I just wasn't going to have an attractive body, "Any chance you can get the money out?"

    Purity shrugged, "Iffy on that. The thugs aren't there for their brains, but I'd need a reason to yank all the cash in there. Last I checked, this place had several hundred-thousand dollars stored, so they're not going to let me move it without a reason."

    I turned towards her, "Tell them that you saw the Nazi who killed Hookwolf heading towards here looking for a fight. That should be a good enough reason."

    Purity nodded and then turned to jump off the building while I entered the stairwell, hearing what sounded like heavy metal with the typical anti-Semitic lyrics in it that was typical of the music that white supremacists and neo-nazis liked. I looked down at the rifle in my hands, staring at the gleaming silver swastika in the stock shining up at me in the moonlight. I nodded, they were acceptable targets, and this was my mission. And I would complete it.

    One way or another, I was going to complete my mission, as I kicked open a door and winced at how loud the music was before my helmet compensated. I could feel the drums throbbing through my body, and my teeth were rattling at the volume, before I decided that I could use this. Hopefully Purity was successful in getting the money and as I passed a window I saw a glowing form shoot into the sky. Good, now I just had to clean house, and I could start with the door in front of me as I kicked it open caught an Empire 88 with his pants down. Literally.

    We stared at each other, then the prostitute in front of him screamed and I fired on reflex, putting a bolt into the pair, before stepping back out into the hallway. Ugh...I didn't need to see that.

    "Hey, what's that bitch screaming about?" I heard from the next door down as the music stopped and I decided that it was now or never as I rotated the swastika between the lenses on my mask to switch vision modes. Instantly an outline of a human being appeared on an approach to the door and I fired, the bolt going through the door into the thug as I heard muffled shouts from downstairs. My mind analysed the situation and declared the stairwell to be a natural chokepoint that would deny the Empire 88 a means to properly attack me as I snapped off another shot into another thug who had apparently been awoken by my rifle.

    I heard foot steps and a thug with a pistol appeared, "Holy shit! It's that Nazi cape! She-" A shot from my rifle silenced him and I winced as he collapsed and fell down the stairs, before heading down as well, stepping over the still form, trying not to think about how his arm and legs were at very wrong angles and the blood stains from where his head had struck the stairs and wall. I fired a bolas down at a shotgun-armed thug, staggering as he managed to fire before the bolas hit, feeling the impact of the buckshot on the energy shield as my mind coldly dictated that kinetic compensation systems would be required for the shield generator.

    I moved down the stairs, mind calmly updating my plans, and fired around the corner, this time on Full-Auto, spraying several people with energy bolts as others returned fire with their guns. I considered my options with the current opposition and the increasing likelihood of the arrival of an Empire cape, before setting the rifle to Charge mode and pulled the trigger. Instantly I gained a reaction as the loud whine drowned out the sound of gunfire as one thug shouted, "Shit!"

    And as I popped out of the doorway to aim at them and scare them off, Storm Tiger cut his way through a wall, a blade made of air knocking the gun up and in my surprise I released the trigger. If the pistol's Charge mode had been loud, then I would have gone deaf if it hadn't been for my helmet. As it was, I was blown onto my back from the shockwave as my mind emphasised the need for kinetic compensators and now recoil dampening for the rifle as the bolt blasted out a car-sized hole through the building. Storm Tiger was on the ground holding his ears and I could see that the other thugs had been floored as well as the shockwave and sound had only one path to go and that was through them.

    Stupid. Talk so big about not killing and yet you were perfectly willing to vaporise them weren't you Taylor? And now there was no way that someone in the Protectorate wouldn't have noticed a bolt of energy blasting out of the city, and as I heard a faint rumble and a flash of light, I knew that people would have seen that explosion as well.

    I ran out of the building, not caring if I stepped on anyone, and skidded to a halt as Purity landed, the woman looking at the massive hole, "Yeah, you really do go fo-"

    "Not the time!" I shouted, powers fading back into my mind, feeling my legs shake, "Get me the hell out of here!"

    Purity grabbed me and I was soon in the air, shaking uncontrollably.

    By the time we arrived at my hideout, it was only my powers that were keeping me from hyper-ventilating as I tore off my mask and puked on the roof as Purity suddenly held my hair back while I emptied my stomach. After a few more dry heaves, I waved her off and rose to my feet, not facing her as I wiped away tears.

    "What happened in there?" Purity asked and I managed to choke out a laugh.

    "I'm pathetic. Talking big about acceptable targets and not killing unless I have a reason. And the moment I face resistance, I decide to do them like I did with Hookwolf. Just...vaporise them." I laughed again, "What kind of hero can I be if I decide that the best strategy is to kill?"

    Purity said nothing for a long moment, then slowly said, "I've left the money at my new place. Eight-hundred thousand plus change. I'll come by with your half tomorrow." I nodded, saying nothing as Purity made her way to the stairs, before I heard her say, "I think you should take a break, try to find a reason to keep doing this. Something more important than your own goals."

    I sniffled, "What's your reason?" I asked.

    "You've met her." Purity replied, "I may enjoy the feeling of being more powerful than the niggers and chinks, but I have a daughter to protect. And for her, I'm betraying one of the most powerful gang bosses in the city. Before you antagonise Kaiser any further, think about what you want to protect from him, and then work to protect that from Kaiser and anything else the world can throw at you, no matter what it is."

    With that I heard her walk into the stairwell and head down to pick up her daughter, and I just stared up at the night sky.

    Something to protect...
     
  5. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Field Testing 4

    Once I had calmed down, I walked downstairs to my workshop and I was about to take off my coat to work on the shield generator when I heard Purity's voice downstairs. Frowning in confusion, I walked downstairs, before realising that I had removed my mask and spent several seconds putting it back on. I quickly continued downstairs to the Garage and turned the corner to find Purity scolding her daughter, who was standing near...

    "That's impossible..." I murmured, stunned as I saw a working hover unit floating off the ground as Purity turned her head. Whatever she was saying, I didn't listen as I shoved her out of the way and knelt in front of the hover unit, studying it all over, trying to see if it had somehow built itself, "How..."

    "I'm sorry, but Aster got curious, and she started playing with your...thing there, she thought it was a puzzle of some kind." I blinked and slowly turned to stare at the little girl, Aster, who shied away behind her mother, before returning my attention to the hover unit.

    "Tinker technology isn't supposed to be built by a non-Tinker..." I started to say, "Even if it looked like a puzzle, a one-year ol-"

    "Two years." Purity corrected and I nodded.

    "Two year old, child should not have been able to build this. This had to have been a fluke..." I stood up and walked over to the makeshift workbench made out of an office table and gathered all the components for the second hover unit before pointing at them, "Show me. Please."

    Aster looked up at her mother, who nodded gently at her, before nervously approaching the parts and after a few moments glancing at me, began putting pieces together. I had made all of my gear to be assembled without the need for soldering unless absolutely needed, the smell made me more nauseous than the locker, and so my powers had helped me make each component click and lock together, and it was this clicking that filled the air as I watched a two-year old assemble something that she by all rights should have found impossible.

    I turned to Purity, "There's no way your daughter is a normal human. Sh-"

    Purity's glowed brightened in warning, "Don't you dare finish that sentence. My daughter is not a parahuman." I nodded and looked back at Aster, who was now half-way finished.

    "Then how..." We both knew that Tinker-tech wasn't something that normal humans could build or maintain, that even if it looked like a puzzle, Aster should not have been able to figure out how to put two pieces together, let alone be nearly finished.

    "I think this should also be a good reason for you take a break." Purity said carefully as she watched her daughter, "If my daughter can do this, what about workers in a factory? This could be something incredible."

    "And yet I'd have to make sure they keep the swastikas, runes, eagles and skulls in." I grumbled, still somewhat disbelieving of what I was seeing, "And this could still be just a fluke. A lucky coincidence."

    "Then why don't you test it?" I looked over to Purity, who stared back at me, "You're a Tinker looking to test something, so test this. Give the situation time to cool off, I'll drop off the money tomorrow, and use the time to both find your reason for fighting and figure out if this..." She pointed at the now completed hover unit as Aster turned it on and squealed as it glowed and began to hover with a low humming.

    I nodded as Purity picked up her child, "I'll do that." As she left, I stared at the two floating hover units.

    Yeah...I had to test this.

    But first...I had to get home, I needed sleep.

    -----------------------

    It probably was for the best that I didn't go out in costume for a while. The morning news headline was the explosion in the sky above Empire 88 territory and the partially destroyed building. But what made me feel cold was hearing about the casualties.

    Every single Empire 88 thug and that one prostitute I had shot with my rifle was dead. My mind stopped before I began going over the design for the rifle as I helped Dad wash the dishes after breakfast, going over the energy outputs and the variables in my head, and I wrestled with the problem all the way to school.

    It was only when my name was called in homeroom did I snap out of it, "Here!" and a quick glance showed a few eyes shift towards me as I attempted to settle my mind and focus on the day before me. I needed my wits about me in case Sophia and the others did something.

    But it was during computer class, as I was busy researching for my coding project, that it hit me. I had over-compensated with the output systems when I installed Pulse mode. That meant that the rifle was now exclusive lethal, and Pulse mode...it was likely that Pulse mode would be far more powerful than the standard Semi-Auto and Full Auto modes, especially considering how powerful Charge mode was.

    Dammit Taylor, you really are just a stupid girl, can't even build a rifle right. And now I had killed people and people would know that there was a deadly new rogue cape on the loose.

    I tried to focus on getting my work done after that, I could figure it out later when I went to the library. But even with that, it was getting difficult to focus without my powers, and I didn't want to think about the fact that I had killed eight people as the period ended and I headed for my next class.

    The rest of the day went by in the same way, I couldn't focus, not with the sick feeling of knowing I had killed people, and I imagined that some of the teachers noticed with the way they would call my name a bit louder than normal to shake me out of my thoughts.

    I shook my head as I walked into the girl's restroom and splashed some water on my face. This was getting me nowhere, and the part of my mind ruled by my powers was telling me in its cold, clinical manner, that they were people who were fully immersed and happy with their hatred, their sick lifestyle, the opportunity to hurt and torture people who weren't white. They killed for fun, sold drugs to kids at my school or forced them to join the gangs, and when arrested they heaped the blame upon the swastika like it was some kind of sacrifical lamb, a ready-made scapegoat because of what it stood for in the minds of people. A symbol that made them blameless.

    I clenched my fist before inhaling deeply and letting out in a long, slow, exhalation. Acceptable targets, my powers stated coldly, undeserving of pity or mercy. Unclean animals.

    Subhuman.

    My eyes widened as I shook my head. No! I couldn't fall into that trap! I wouldn't! I would not become like the Empire 88, I would not become some casual racist like Purity!

    I sucked in a shuddering breath as my powers began clamping down on my emotions. I still had classes to go to, and I looked up at the sound of the bell.

    Great. I missed lunch.

    -----------------------

    I was never more glad to be getting out of school as the final bell sounded and I headed to my locker to retrieve my bag. Even the final math lesson wasn't too bad, all things considered and apparently Sophia had decided to back off on the regular taunts and physical abuse, probably because she had something nastier in the works. Then I heard something land on the floor with a tinkle of metal and looked down to see metal.

    Oh no. I forgot about the tracking tag I had built being left in my locker during the month I spent working on my initial gadgets. I crouched down to pick it up when a shoe stepped on it and I inwardly moaned as I looked up to see Emma looking down on me as she drew back her foot and lifted it to reveal the gleaming metal swastika that held the tracking unit, "Oh Taylor, I knew you were pathetic, but this? This is a new low, even for you."

    My mind immediately came up with several plans. I could stay here and just take it, maybe get labeled a budding neo-Nazi in the process. I could try and deny it, which would make the situation worse according to my powers. Or I could immediately retaliate. I had the ability to fight back with words, even if I couldn't fight back physically, and I took the chance. Even if this lead to me being beaten down, at least I could say to myself that I tried to fight back.

    "Isn't that supposed to be my line Emma?" I retorted and I watched her blink in shock at me speaking back to her as I continued, "You know, I can forgive the other things you've done to me, but if you want to frame me as something I'm not, you'll have to do better than sneaking your little Nazi fetish into my locker."

    I heard murmurs around us since I had spoke up loud enough to catch attention, and made sure my powers were keeping my emotions in check. It would be all for nothing if I smiled as I rose to my feet, "I mean, seriously Emma? Do I look like the Aryan Ideal to you?"

    Emma sneered, "Oh please, you think you can pass this off on me? You were always pathetic Taylor, I bet you practice goose-stepping at home, and have a swastika poster on your wall."

    "And yet you're the one acting like everyone here are second-class citizens. It must be nice, knowing that your Dad's lawyer money keeps you above everyone else here, that your career as a model means you're superior to everyone. After all, why think of them as human? They're just going to join the Empire 88 and ABB as fresh meat, you're set to see the rest of America, leave the city with the parahumans and all the poor, pathetic rabble."

    Okay, I was actually enjoying the way Emma was reacting me. I could see that there was a crowd forming around us as Emma launched her counter-attack, "Yeah? And where does that leave you Taylor? Acting like you know me. Haven't you ever heard it takes one to know one? And how could this." She held up the tracker, "Be mine in the first place? Huh?"

    "Who said it was yours? All you have to do is slip in something ordered over the internet into my locker. I bet you planned this whole thing out, play the part of the innocent shocked girl getting accused by someone less attractive than her. I bet you're enjoying this, showing your superiority over someone you used to be friends with. Maybe I should expect you to come by my house and smash in the windows, have your own little Crystal Night later. After all, it's what the Nazis did to all those Jews."

    Emma wasn't going to back down, so I had to bring the crowd into this, push things so that they would make her back off. It was a horrible thing to do, and some part of me hoped that Emma would remember that we were once friends, that she'd back off and I could apologise. Say that I didn't mean it, that someone else was probably playing a prank on me and I was just taking it out on her.

    Then she said, "And what makes me a Nazi huh? Sophia's my best friend, more than you ever were, and she's black!"

    And that was it. I knew about Emma's career as a model, I'd seen her face in a few catalogues and magazines after all, and what I was about to say would almost certainly ruin her career in the short term. But hearing that, hearing that she considered one of the meanest girls in the school a better friend than me? Even with my powers I felt something die inside me, and I found myself no longer caring as I replied calmly, "And it must be a thrill, having a black girl as your own personal attack dog, and having blonde-haired, blue-eyed Madison as your perfect Aryan ideal walking around with you."

    I looked away, "Probably goaded them both into locking me in my locker. Hell, Sophia wouldn't need much encouragement, no-one likes her anyway, so she probably jumped at the chance to impre-" A fist slammed into my face as Emma grabbed me and started punching me and I knew that even though she was attacking me, I had won.

    And it felt disgusting. I had just goaded someone I once called a friend into attacking me as a way of confirming, at least to the crowd's perception, that she had neo-Nazi sympathies. I had just ruined her career simply because I didn't want to be found out and wanted to get some payback for the abuse.

    I felt Emma get pulled off me and I blinked in shock at seeing that my rescuer was Sophia, who glared at me with cold hate in her eyes as she dragged the now screaming Emma away as the crowd parted and let them pass. I carefully checked my face with a hand mirror in my bag and winced at the bruises. While my apparent Brute powers were mostly enhanced strength, I did heal slightly faster than normal, so hopefully the bruises would fade by the time I reached the public library.

    Funny how appropriate all these mixed powers would be for a soldier, I mused as I began packing my bag.

    The crowd was silent as I collected everything for my homework and left the school. I was silent as well, anything else would likely have them turn on me.

    I began walking to the Public Library. I had a theory I wanted to test.

    -------------------------------

    The Brockton Bay Public Library was a fairly large place and the extensive collection of books it held were largely donated from multiple sources. Some people liked to joke that it was Brockton Bay's version of the Library of Alexandria due to the selection, and after my first few forays, I could agree with the comparison as I entered and the Librarian, a kindly older woman with greying hair named Mrs. Warringer, looked up from where she was sorting through the latest returns, "Hello Taylor, back for more historical research?" She gasped, "Oh my, what happened to your face?"

    I tried to cover up the bruises, but she walked over and moved my hand, "This won't do. Come along dear, I have some supplies that should help cover that up."

    I nodded meekly and followed after her. I could have refused, but Mrs. Warringer was something of a force of nature when it came to hurt children, and it felt good to have someone mother me for a little while as she pulled out some makeup and began carefully covering up the bruises. It only took a few seconds and when she showed my my face in a mirror, I blinked in shock, it was like I hadn't been punched repeatedly by Emma. I tried to thank her, but she just shook her head, "Just be careful, okay? Pretty young thing like you shouldn't be getting beaten up."

    I blushed, she was probably just trying to make me feel better, there was nothing attractive about my body except perhaps my hair. But I nodded and went over to my usual spot in the Library's computer tables where several books were waiting for me. The nice thing about the Library computers was that they all had their own scanners, which was good considering what I was about to do.

    During my usual morning tinkering I had drawn up the blueprints for a dedicated rifle version of my shock bolas launcher, and I was about to scan and upload them to a website that researched ways to duplicate Tinker-Tech.

    If what happened with Aster wasn't a fluke...

    I shook my head, it was a pipe dream really, but I needed something to test after what happened with Emma as I brought up the website and began scanning the blueprints. Since I was uploading from a public library, I could simply switch computers and work from there in case anyone asked questions and after a glance showed that there was no-one around, I began uploading the blueprints, typing up a message saying I found them in an abandoned building, which was technically true, and once they were uploaded, I shut down the browser and switched computers.

    I opened up the website on the new computer and began reading the live comments for the blueprints. The results were about what I expected, everyone was saying that the weapon was a joke, some hoax by some wannabe skin-head, when a message appeared that stopped my thoughts dead in their tracks.

    DRAGON: Something about these plans has aroused my curiosity. I'm going to see if they are directly reproducible. If whoever uploaded these is reading these, I would like to speak with you about where you found these blueprints.

    Oh...oh my...I had expected maybe a brave scientist to take a look at them, or perhaps trying to make them without the iconography, but to have Dragon herself, the greatest Tinker since Hero decide to see if she could build a copy? I exited the website and began looking up alternate history and science-fiction websites, I wasn't going to do anything more with that website in case it was a lure. It just didn't seem real.

    After about an hour, I had new ideas and plenty of inspiration for modifications to my current gear, I was still half-scared that one of Dragon's distinctive power armours would drop out on top of me, and the weather looked clear enough that I could walk home instead of getting Dad to pick me up.

    Which was why I received the scare of my life when Armsmaster drove past on his motorcycle and parked in front of the library. There was no way that was a random occurrence as I decided to stop by a public trashcan, dug out the blueprints and immediately tore them up before tossing them in. With any luck, trash collection would deal with them after that, but I needed to get to my workshop. Maybe Armsmaster watched that website as well and was close enough to investigate a trace that pointed to the Library? If so, I had a feeling I'd need to start using Internet Cafes for a while.

    Which meant I would need the money from last night. I started walking towards my hideout.

    I just hoped Purity actually dropped off my half of the money. Otherwise I'd need to hit another stash house.

    -----------------------

    Walking to the hideout actually gave me time to think about Purity's question, about having something to fight for, and I realised that I had an answer already. And I had Emma to thank for it. It was because of how reviled that symbol was that Emma attacked me because of my accusations. It was because of how hated that symbol was that I had essentially ruined her career. It was because of how despised that symbol was that I had a ready-made source of ammunition to use against her.

    I had a reason to fight. It was the one I had set out to do from the very start.

    My reason to fight was to redeem a symbol of the stains of the past. Like me it was beaten down, abused, and scorned.

    If I redeemed it, then maybe...

    Maybe it would redeem me.

    I walked into the abandoned office building feeling better about myself. It might not have been the best reason, but it was a start, and my smile widened at seeing a large duffel bag and I opened it to reveal stacks of money, a mobile phone, and a note.

    "My number's already in the phone. Call me when you're ready to go out again. - P"

    I looked over at the completed hover units, and a thought came to my mind about how to use them.

    I wouldn't be going out tonight, but tomorrow night?

    Tomorrow night, the testing would resume.
     
  6. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Field Testing 5

    I knew something was wrong the moment I walked in the door. And that was my Dad sitting at the kitchen table with the phone next to him, and I felt my powers clamp down on my emotions when I saw his expression as he looked up at me, "Taylor, can you take a seat please?" I carefully sat down, trying to figure out what was going on, but while my powers were great for plans and strategies, it didn't make me some kind of detective able to draw conclusions from a few scant clues. I considered what it would be like to have that kind of power, to be able to draw conclusions from snippets of info.

    It sounded like a pretty cool power to have.

    "What's wrong Dad?" I asked, but as I went over my day, I suddenly had a sinking feeling that I knew just why Dad had the phone there.

    Dad looked up and although his expression was serious, it softened slightly upon seeing me, "Take a seat Taylor." Once I was seated, he sighed, "I was just on the phone with Mister Barnes, Emma's father. He said you slandered his daughter, called her a Neo-Nazi. What happened?"

    I sighed, "Emma played a prank on, a really nasty one. She slipped a metal swastika into my locker so that she could try and slander me as the Neo-Nazi. I got angry, and turned it back on her. Next thing I know, she assaults me when I accuse her of manipulating her friends, which she was."

    Dad blinked, "What do mean by manipulating?"

    It was still painful to think about how Emma betrayed me, but that dead spot inside me killed any pity I might have had, "I need to get something from my room." When he nodded, I headed upstairs and grabbed a box in my closet, the one I had been steadily filling over the months of Emma, Sophia and Madison's abuse towards me, and brought it down to set on the table, "Here."

    Dad glanced at me, and I nodded at the box, before opening it to reveal all the evidence I had been putting together should I finally get the courage to get some justice for me. He searched through it, not saying a word, before he picked up the diary I kept updated, even now, with the abuse that they had committed, and began reading.

    After a few minutes of silent reading, he closed the diary, "Mister Barnes said that he was going to press charges for slander, but...if this is true."

    "It's true." I interrupted, "All of it. Ever since she became friends with Sophia, Emma has been leading a systematic campaign of bullying against me and has always managed to get away with it, no matter who I spoke to in the school."

    Dad nodded, "Then I could just have one of the lawyers I know put forward a counter-lawsuit. I know enough to see that this is slander, assault, mental anguish, a whole mess of charges, and I know Emma's an amateur model, if this was taken to court, it could damage her career."

    Combined with the accusations I placed towards Emma? It could cause a major scandal. I idly wondered if Purity could help with that, but decided not to do that. If Purity got involved there was no telling what could happen.

    "So what now?" I asked, before Dad got up, walked around the table, and hugged me. I blinked in surprise, before I returned the hug.

    "That's up to you now kiddo." He released me, "But that wasn't the only call I had today. The PRT called as well. Dragon came all the way here from Canada, she wants to speak to you personally."

    I felt a sudden sinking feeling about the reason why, "About what?"

    Dad grimaced, "Apparently she thinks you have links to a neo-Nazi Tinker."

    I couldn't help it, I started laughing as I stood up to follow Dad to the car for the drive to the PRT.

    If only they knew.

    ------------------------------------------

    We were expected, it seemed, because as soon as we walked in, a security guard walked over and directed us to one of the elevators, which opened when we approached, before rising up and I found that it was a glass-backed elevator as I found myself looking out over the city. I immediately felt a stirring of purpose in my heart as I regarded the areas that were divided up by the Empire 88, Azn Bad Boys, the Merchants, and the smaller petty gangs under them. I would cleanse this city, for the good of the people living here, so that it could become something great again. I glanced to my side, remembering my Dad's dream of reopening the ferry terminal, and the feeling strengthened into a low heat.

    I had the spark of a purpose, I realised, and I wanted to turn it into a flame that would allow me to burn away the filth covering Brockton Bay. I idly wondered if I would give in to the temptation to set myself up as the new ruler of the city, then crushed the thought. I was not going to become some sort of Nazi-theme warlord.

    Not unless I wanted the world to come for me.

    But one way or another, I would find a way to redeem my powers and the symbol that was its focal point in the eyes of the city and eventually the world. And when that happened, Brockton Bay would be a good place to live once again. I continued watching the city before the halting of the elevator with a chime brought me out of my thoughts for the future. Right now, I had to worry about the present.

    I exited the elevator with Dad and I could see that we were in some part of the PRT building very few civilians saw as a waiting PRT officer indicated that we were to enter one of the doors, which opened to reveal a conference room with a pair of large screens on one side of the room as we took a seat on one side and waited.

    We didn't have to wait long as minutes later; Armsmaster, a severe-looking woman in a business suit, and then a seven-foot tall suit of powered armour with the distinctive draconic theme that marked it as Dragon entered. While Armsmaster and the woman sat opposite me and Dad, Dragon opted to remain standing, and it was she who spoke first, "Taylor Hebert, thank you for coming. I know you must have questions, but trust me, they'll get answers as soon as you help us with some questions of our own."

    I nodded slowly, powers waiting in the back of my mind, updating plans and carefully regulating my emotions, "I guess. But I don't know how I can help you."

    One of the screens showed an image of the shock bolas launcher, another showed video footage of me leaving the library, "I traced the anonymous upload of these blueprints to a computer in the Brockton Bay Public Library and placed a request for whoever uploaded them to speak to me because I found elements of the design to be intriguing. When no reply came, I asked Armsmaster to drop by the library as a favour to me, to find and stop whoever uploaded the blueprints from leaving so I could speak with them. But apparently, you were the only one using that specific computer around the time of upload."

    Armsmaster spoke up then, "The Librarian, Mrs. Warringer, said that you were doing historical research, might I ask what sort of history were you researching?"

    "I was researching World War 2 for my history class." I answered truthfully, "Our teacher wanted us to hand in a research paper on how the war might have gone differently if Parahumans were involved on the Allied and Axis sides of the war." It was probably the most fun I was ever having with History, in spite of, or maybe because of, the insight my powers were giving me when I researched major battles and my powers showed how to secure victory in each of them. Whether a small skirmish or a massive strategic campaign, my powers were able to provide me with at least a bare minimum of planning to give myself an advantage if I placed myself as the commander.

    Interestingly enough my powers did, in fact, back up the decisions of major commanders, but modified them. It was much more obvious with Operation Market Garden when I somehow managed to figure out how to best secure the bridges that the Germans had blown up.

    My thoughts were interrupted by Dragon speaking up, "And the blueprints? You said you found them in an abandoned building." The severe-looking woman was merely taking notes as I picked one of the ready-made lies to use.

    "I did. It was on the edges of Empire 88 territory. I found them while out jogging on a different route while sheltering from the rain." That was true, I intended to spend longer than usual with my tinkering because of an early morning rainstorm, which was how I was able to draw up the blueprints as well as finish up another pistol, a small hold-out model for self-defence. Unlike the others, this one I made sure only fired stun bolts, since it was hopefully only for muggers and gang-members looking for 'fun' on the streets.

    "And there was only the plans?" Dragon asked, and I nodded my head, prompting the armour to cock it's head slightly, "Was there anything else? Anything at all?"

    I nodded, "There was a spray-painted swastika with an arrow for the downward point, I think it marked the hiding place. I didn't see or hear anyone else in the building." Armsmaster shifted and my eyes flicked to him momentarily, before I continued, "I think it might have been used by who-ever attacked the Empire 88 last night."

    Dragon made a 'hmm' sound, "What makes you say that?"

    This was a dangerous strategy, but all my research on World War 2 highlighted that dangerous strategies could pay-off with some effort, and I was going to make an effort here, "It made sense to me. News about some rogue cape who practically wiped out an Empire 88 stash house deep in their territory, the only survivors babbling about some sci-fi Nazi stormtrooper..." I could see the woman twitch at hearing me say that, "It just made sense really, whoever the rogue was, they set up shop on the edges of Empire 88 territory and attacked them from there, or they could be hiding with the ABB." I shrugged, helplessly, "I'm probably just rambling."

    Dragon shook her head, "No, it's fine. In any case, did you look at the blueprints? Did you understand what they were for?"

    I waved my hand at the image, "Look at it. I managed to understand that it was some kind of rifle, but one look at all those swastikas and SS runes, and I nearly threw it out. I figured I'd upload it, then destroy them s-"

    Dragon leaned forward, armoured, claw-like hands resting on the table, "What do you mean 'destroyed' Taylor? Those blueprints could have been very valuable in identifying the maker."

    I flinched and looked away from the glowing visor of Dragon's armour, "It was disgusting, I felt sick looking at them. So I tore them up and tossed them into a trashcan just up the street from the Library, near the Route 17 bus stop."

    The woman turned to Dragon, "I'll put in a call to the sanitation department. With any luck that trash can hasn't been emptied yet." She stood up and left the room.

    Dragon turned to Armsmaster, "Could you go down there and search it? Please." Armsmaster nodded and left the room as Dragon focused her attention back on me, "Taylor...whoever made those blueprints, I believe that they've done what no other Tinker has been able to do."

    I blinked, "What?"

    I couldn't tell with that armoured face-plate, but Dragon seemed to be...excited? "Mass-production of advanced technology. The holy grail of research into Tinker Technology, the basis for my entire reputation and life..." A hand clenched and I didn't notice the way it left small gouges in the metal, "I can't lose that information Taylor Hebert, even if the maker has neo-Nazi sympathies, it could be vital! Why the Nazi iconography? Can other symbols be used? By all rights, Taylor, I should be charging you for destroying vital evidence." Her hand slowly unclenched, "But there is a way you can help me make this right."

    Dad spoke up then, "Hold on, what you mean? What do you want my daughter to do?" Dragon focused on him as he spoke up, "I can understand that you might be upset, but my daughter has gone through enough today, I'm not going to let you threaten her into helping you."

    Dragon remained silent for a moment, before nodding and straightening, "I'm sorry. It's just...I could feel it. I was close to unlocking that final secret of why Tinkers like me cannot mass-produce our technology. If these blueprints can provide the answer...Mister Hebert, your daughter may be contacted by the Tinker who made the blueprints, either to threaten her, or perhaps they watch that website and want her to upload more blueprints. In either case..." She pulled out a small disk, "This is one of my tracking units. It will watch for the maker, and follow them back to their hideout, that way I can meet them personally."

    "That's all I have to do?" I asked.

    Dragon nodded, "That's all you have to do." I stared at the device, then calmly took it, prompting a glance from Dragon, "Thank you Taylor."

    "Don't thank me." I murmured as I slipped it into my pocket.

    Soon after that, Armsmaster came back into the room with the woman, "We found the original blueprints." He placed a plastic bag on the table, and I could see that much of it was badly stained, "It's still readable, but it'll take work to restore it."

    Dragon nodded, "Miss Hebert will be planting one of my trackers in the location where she found the blueprints originally. That will cover the edges of Empire 88 territory, but I would like you to see if there are any viable hiding places on the border of Empire 88 and ABB territory. Director Piggot..." The woman turned her head towards Dragon as the suit tapped several buttons on it's wrist, "I'll contact you as soon as I have the results from my experiment, but if it is viable..."

    The woman, Piggot, nodded, "I understand. If it is viable, then I would like Brockton Bay to be the first field test location, regardless of whether you can change the Nazi imagery to something else." She turned to face me, "I would like to speak with Miss Hebert alone for a moment."

    Armsmaster nodded and after a reassuring smile from me, Dad left the room as well, leaving me with the woman, who simply said, "So. How long do you plan on maintaining your friend's little charade for?"

    I blinked, "What?"

    The woman glared at me, "I was a special forces soldier once, before injury placed me in charge of the Brockton Bay office, I know when a soldier is hiding their true feelings. You've done an admirable job of it, Dragon and Armsmaster may be suspicious of your calm, but that can be explained away by the surrealism of being questioned by one of the leading members of the Guild and the leader of the Brockton Bay Protectorate. I however, have personal experience to draw upon."

    I laughed, "So...what? You think I'm this Nazi rogue?"

    "Or someone with a line of communication to this rogue. And you're protecting them." Piggot stated, "And whoever they are, the destabilisation of the Empire 88 could very well lead to a gang war as the ABB and Merchants attempt to seize territory away from Kaiser. Already the Protectorate, PRT and the Brockton Bay PD have been called to multiple instances of gang skirmishes at the borders the three gangs have. If you do have a line of communication with this cape, get them to turn themselves in."

    I raised an eyebrow, "I don't know why you think they'll talk to me, they could be a hardcore Fourth Reich kind of person."

    "That is something that we can handle." Piggot stated, "But don't think I haven't noticed that you're far too calm for this situation. You may not be this Nazi rogue, but if you are, I would seriously consider the consequences of your plans. Weakening one gang to the point of collapse will cause chaos and that will harm a lot of innocent people."

    I shrugged, helpless, "What do you want to say to them? Even if you're right and I do communicate with them, what makes you think I'm anything more than a gopher? Just some animal to them that's only good for doing menial tasks?"

    "You communicate with them." Piggot replied, expression softening slightly, "And that will be important to redeeming them."

    She stood up, "Think about what I said Miss Hebert."

    I nodded as I left the room and exited the PRT building with my Dad. I would.

    But I had work to do tonight.

    ---------------------------

    I had hidden the phone in my room, so when the time came for me to go to bed, I flicked it open and navigated my way to the stored numbers, finding a number that only had a capital 'P' as the recipient. Purity.

    I hit the dial button and waited. She picked up on the third ring, "Hello?"

    "It's me." I stated, "I'm hitting another one. Tonight. You in?"

    "Yeah. I'm in. The usual place?"

    "Yes. I'll meet you on the roof."

    I had gotten into the habit of leaving my coat at the hideout, but packing the rest of my costume into a spare backpack. It was this backpack along with Dragon's tracker that I grabbed as I activated the decoy and left the house.

    During the jog to the hideout I simply tossed the tracker into a building that I knew had been vandalised by Empire 88 gang-members, the younger, brash ones, so I knew that there was plenty of Nazi iconography to work with along with Empire 88 gang tags. With that done, I felt safer as I entered my vandalised building and headed upstairs to my workshop to change.

    It was as I was slipping on my mask and helmet that I noticed a flashing light on a small hand-held device and realised that it was the control unit for my swasti-trackers. I regretted ever calling them that, but since no-one but me would be using them, I didn't care so much as I picked up the control unit and noted that the tracking signal was coming from the local police station. Looks like my tracker was going to be used as evidence for the court case.

    Well, there was one feature that I was glad I installed in them, even if it did involved soldering. I pressed a button and watched as the blinking dot on the screen turned into block letters stating, DEVICE TERMINATED, and I decided that I might as well use them. Strapping a pack of a few hundred to my chest bandoleer and clipping the controller to my belt, I looked over at my latest work, grabbed it, and headed upstairs.

    Purity was already waiting and I smiled behind my mask, "I hope I didn't take you away from Aster."

    She shook her head, glowing hair waving in the darkness, "I had just put her to sleep." She glanced off into the distance, "Listen, I'm sorry for snapping at you. It's just...two years ago I was all set to leave the Empire 88, but something happened to Aster. She got sick, and the only way to treat her without the PRT putting me in cuffs was to use an underground doctor. It was expensive."

    "So you stayed with Kaiser since he could provide the money." I stated in understanding, "It must have been hard on you."

    Purity nodded, "It was, but it was worse on Aster, and...I just know, that she's Triggered, that's she a parahuman, a mother knows these things about their child, but she's never shown any signs of powers." She snarled behind her mask, "It's frustrating! I just want my little girl to grow up normally, not be like us!"

    I could only shrug, "Maybe you're wrong, it was a hard time and you're just a little paranoid, there's nothing wrong and you're just blowing a few things out of proportion."

    Purity's shoulders slumped, "Yeah, you could be right." She glanced at what was at my feet, "So what's that?"

    I held it up, and Purity suddenly giggled. I cocked my head and she giggled again, "Heheh, Jetpack Hitler."

    I blushed, "I'm not Hitler! And that's stupid!"

    She giggled again, "Stupid Jetpack Hitler."

    "Shut Up!" I moaned, "It's a hover-capable flight system! Besides, I figured you'd enjoy not having to carry me, considering that when we do this, there's no way no-one will miss you working alongside me."

    Purity sobered at hearing that, "So what's the target?"

    I held up the map, "Targets, plural. We hit somewhere deep in Empire territory. Now? Now we hit places near their borders, and goad Lung into attacking Kaiser's territory."

    Purity took the map, "I assume you want me to hit ABB territory? They don't know I've left Kaiser yet, so when I meet up with you, they'll think this was an attack in preparation to take territory." At my nod, she consider the map again, "Hmm. This will get Protectorate attention you know. And there's a good chance we could be caught in the crossfire if they follow me right to you."

    "I know." I took back the map and strapped on my new flight-pack, "But I trust you to get the job done."

    Purity nodded, "You can count on me." She turned to leave, before pausing, "Have you found a reason to fight? To kill? Because I saw the morning news."

    I nodded as the hover-units engaged and I began to float off the ground, "I found it. Where do they keep the money?"

    Purity's glow intensified as she too began to hover, "They keep the cash in the kitchen cupboards but if you can see through walls, just blast open anything that looks like it has a stack of cash in it. You should get a few hundred thousand dollars out of them. As for me." She shrugged, "While I'm working on getting rid of my attitudes, I can't promise I won't be insulting them when I blow their places up." I could tell she was smiling from her tone of voice.

    "Just make sure they see you heading towards Empire territory. Even if Kaiser beats back the attack, that's still a weakening of their forces. And he'll know a Nazi is the one responsible for his downfall." I checked my pistol, setting it to Full-Auto, "And it will torture him."

    Purity shook her head, "Damn, you're cruel. Sure you didn't get more than a little Nazi in you when researching your role?" I glared at her and she shrugged, "Anyway, I'll see you back here unless I see that you need backup." At my nod, she turned into a ball of light and rocketed into the night air.

    Checking the power of my flight-pack, I engaged the throttle and with a sudden jerk, found myself flying into the night air as well.

    As I stabilised myself, I checked my map and began turning towards where I knew the border of Empire 88 and ABB territory was, mask bring up a waypoint to the first target in my field of vision. As I flew, I watched the rapidly moving ball of light that was Purity streak towards ABB territory, and wished her luck.

    After that, I focused on what I was about to do, before I landed on the road in front of the stash-house, rising my pistol to aim at the shocked Empire 88 gang members in front of me as I got into character for the attack, "One chance subhuman filth! You have one chance to run like the vermin you are, before I put you down!" I felt sick just saying that.

    They raised their guns, and I snarled as I pulled the trigger of my pistol, sending bolts of energy screaming into them, alerting the rest of the building as I strode forward, firing constantly.

    The windows disintegrated as gang members fired out towards me, bullets smacking off my energy shield as I fired into the windows, before stopping as they slammed the door. Rolling my eyes, I aimed the pistol and fired, before using my enhanced strength to kick open the door and walk in...

    Right into a baseball bat, the aluminium sporting equipment knocking me back as my gun aimed and fired on reflex, and when I recovered, I found myself aiming at the crumpled, unconscious form before my powers forced me to focus on the battle as I switched vision modes to search the house, firing at hiding Empire 88 lying in wait for me, incapacitating several more before I started to search the kitchen cupboards and saw stacks of cash and what looked like drugs.

    Noting their location, I continued searching, before I realised something. There was no-one inside the building. Increasing the sensitivity of my mask's sensors, I saw that there was no-one left. They had fled, or I had knocked them all out. Resetting the mask, I began looting the place.

    It took a few minutes of digging through drugs and...other...things, before I was done. True to what Purity had said, there was less money than at the first stash house, so the duffel bag I grabbed still had plenty of space as I stacked the drugs on the table. I had came prepared tonight, as I pulled out a slender canister and twisted it, starting a chemical reaction before throwing it into the kitchen and leaving.

    I was in the air seconds before the kitchen exploded into flames.

    One down, three to go.

    --------------------------------

    It was as I landed at the last target that Purity arrived as my pistol gunned down the guards at the front, noticing the two duffel bags slung over my shoulders. In front of the Empire 88 I turned my head to her, "Open a hole!" Purity nodded and to shouts of shock and betrayal, Purity blasted the front of the building wide open as my gun fired into the dust and smoke. I shrugged off the duffel bags, "One of them still has space. Fill it up while I cover you." As she picked up the bags, I asked the important question, "Lung?"

    "Got him good and mad. I think he's right behind me. We should grab the cash as quickly as possible." I nodded and fired a burst that caught an Empire 88 in the chest, leading the way as Purity fired a blast of light down a hallway, destroying the back wall, "There's my exit. You'll have to take responsibility for now."

    I nodded, "That was the plan. Get the money and leave, I'll protect you." I followed after Purity as she lead the way and began filling the second duffel bag, keeping watch as I heard the sound of something approaching, something big, "Purity."

    "I hear it, sounds like Lung. Stay calm Death's Head."

    I blinked, "Death's Head?" My mind recoiled, that was a terrible name!

    I glanced back to see her looking at me, "Can't just call you Nazi Rogue now can I? Death's Head sounds more intimidating for someone with your abilities."

    I was about to reply that it seemed so...generic, when I heard the sounds of battle, "What the?" I saw flashes of gunfire and roars, "Protectorate?"

    "Might be, or the reinforcements found Lung before us. Either way, we need to leave." Purity replied as she finished stuffing the bag, "Done. Same plan as last time?"

    I nodded, "Go. They can't know. Not yet."

    Purity started to leave, then she suddenly embraced me, "Don't die on me, Death's Head."

    I glanced at her, about to suggest she call me something that wasn't so generic, and I blinked at seeing that she had reverted her hair and eyes back to normal, allowing me to see the worry in them, "I won't. I still have to make you get rid of your casual racism."

    She laughed, "I see you again, I'll make sure you hold me to that." She stepped away, "Stay alive. You aren't on Lung or Kaiser's level, so don't try and fight them. And Kaiser will be there, if he isn't already." She jogged out through the destroyed wall and in a flash of light and a blast of air she was gone.

    Leaving me to make my own escape. But first, I had to leave my new calling card, that name was generic, but it did give me inspiration for what I could actually call myself.

    Unlike the last three buildings, which I had set alight, this time I simply spray-painted on the wall after digging out a can in one of the rooms. Message sent, I turned and ran out into the streets. I should be ab-

    I screamed as I collapsed to the ground, a glance showing an arrow in my hip. How did...

    No. No! Not her!

    I looked up to see Shadow Stalker landed and reformed, striding towards me as I raised my pistol and fired a burst, but the recoil caused my aim to deviate and I missed before she lazily put an arrow into my arm, before pausing in front of me.

    "Well, looks like I caught you. Not surprising, you Tinkers are all weak without your toys." I had to do something, anything, and my mind began to plan as she stepped closer, "Don't know why Piggot wants you. Just another skin-head fucker who thinks they're the next Hitler. Scum."

    A boot came down on the arrow in my hip and I screamed as she chuckled, "So, not a bastard, but a bitch huh? Makes me wonder why you're attacking the Empire 88. What, Kaiser not paying you enough? You get tossed out because you couldn't figure out how to get on your back?"

    I slipped my wounded arm into my coat's pocket and coughed from the pain, "You know what's shocking?"

    Shadow Stalker cocked her head, "What?"

    I smiled tightly behind my mask, "You." I pulled the trigger of the compact bolas launcher I had rebuilt from the original rifle attachment, Shadow Stalker turned intangible, and I watched as the spinning electrical projectile, weaker because of the smaller powercell, struck her shadow-form about where her gut would be.

    The scream Shadow Stalker made when it hit told me that she had to be extremely vulnerable to electricity, which allowed me to update my tactical plans accordingly as she re-solidified and collapsed. I checked her pulse, breathing a sigh of relief that she was only unconscious, though the smoke was worrying, before I slapped the activation trigger for my flight pack and rocketed into the air, desperately trying to stop myself from passing out.

    I don't know how I managed to steer back to the hideout, but I did and had to use the hover function to reach the workshop. Collapsing into a chair, I grabbed a set of metal cutters and looked at the arrows in my hip and arm, before figuring out how to remove. Okay, clip off the fletching, hold firmly, and then pu-

    I screamed as the arrow came out, slamming my fist on the workbench as tears leaked out from my tightly shut eyes, before I inhaled and prepared to do the same to the arrow in my arm. Hold tight, and pu-

    If anything, that felt even worse as I screamed out my pain, before rising and hobbling over to where I kept the medical kit in case I had an accident with my work. As I stripped down to inspect the damage, I winced at the sluggishly bleeding wound on my hip. Good, Shadow Stalker's aim meant that she wouldn't kill, but rather cause pain. Not only that, the arrows looked like they were made to deliver tranquillisers.

    I snarled at the thought. Sick freak. Probably knocked people out so she could beat on them without resistance.

    Shaking my head at the thought, and feeling my enhanced healing kicking in as I finished bandaging myself, I packed up my stuff and headed for home.

    With all the chaos further downtown, the walk back was quiet and it wasn't long before I was home. Grabbing the grapple line control, I winched myself up and climbed into my bedroom, turned off the holo-decoy, and quietly made my way to the bathroom to wash the makeup off my face.

    As I washed it off, I blinked as I studied my face, the bruises were gone like I expected, but my face looked...clearer, shinier. My eyes looked brighter too.

    I shook my head, the adrenaline was making me see things that weren't there. I healed fast, but it wasn't like I was transforming, I was just tired from all the excitement.

    Looking at the bandage on my arm, I grimaced, that was going to be harder to conceal than the one on my hip. I was going to need a long-sleeved shirt tomorrow morning.

    Tomorrow was the weekend though, so at least I could afford to spend Saturday working on a new project, hopefully after finding a way to anonymously purchase some equipment to expand my workshop so I could work on bigger projects.

    As I changed into my pyjamas and climbed into bed, I was reminded of a saying as I fell asleep.

    The only easy day, is yesterday.

    How true that felt to me.
     
  7. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Field Testing 6

    Saturday morning dawned as I jogged down the street to the hideout, slipping inside to make some modifications to my shield generator. With any luck, I would get here before Purity when she came to drop off the money from last night. I entered the abandoned building headed upstairs to my workshop, planning out what I would need to do in order to move my base to somewhere out of the way, like the Ship Graveyard, so I could begin working on bigger projects.

    The fight last night also informed me that I needed to upgrade my shield generator to protect against phasing weapons and my mind began helpfully supplying the upgrades, when I realised something. They all would require more advanced tools than what I currently possessed. Oh, I could build them with the tools I have now, but the result would be sub-standard and my mind recoiled like a splashed cat at the thought of using sub-standard personal equipment. I shook my head as I slipped on my old mask before getting to work on my new mask.

    Just as I was finishing it, the sensor screen beeped and I noted the arrival of one, two...three dots on the roof? I grabbed my pistol and it's holster and took up position as I heard voices coming down the stairs.

    One of them I easily recognised as Purity, the second sounded very young so that had to be Aster, but the third, while young, was rougher and brasher as the voices came close to my workshop and I heard Purity call out, "You in here Death's Head?"

    I grimaced, that name, "That's a generic name Purity." With confirmation of my presence, Purity stepped into the room, and halted as she heard the click of my pistol as I aimed at her head, "I want your friend to show herself. Now."

    "Easy." Purity stated, calm as can be before turning her head slightly, "Sorry, I forgot to tell you, she's a little paranoid about new arrivals. Just come out where she can see you, no need for a fight." Purity shifted to the side and I watched as a teenage girl, about the same age as me, strode out in front of me, dressed in black and red robes with a black balaclava that had the lightning-bolt runes of the SS stitched into the forehead concealing her face, and Purity spoke up, "Death's Head, this is Rune. Rune, Death's Head."

    Rune looked me up and down, before folding her arms, "You look like a fucking pussy." She turned to Purity as I relaxed and Aster calmly slipped between myself and Purity to start looking around me workshop, "Are you sure you saw this right. No way this skinny slut killed Hookwolf."

    Purity shrugged, "It's not the physical capabilities you should watch out for Rune. The pistol she aimed at my head? That was what killed Hookwolf."

    Rune's eyes shifted to my pistol and I realised that she was pretty much the Aryan Ideal from the details I was able to see. Blonde-hair, blue eyes, and I could tell she was in great physical shape as my powers rated her as a dangerous physical threat, and I realised that I needed to do more research on the local parahumans since I had no clue about what her powers were.

    "Huh, I guess I can respect that. You build it?" I nodded and she nodded, "Right on." She turned to study the massive swastika flag I had spray-painted with 'REMEMBER THE MISSION' on it, and made a thoughtful noise, "So what's the mission?"

    "To cleanse the swastika of it's past and cleanse this city in the process." I replied immediately.

    Rune glanced back at me, "Hell of a mission, you got sixty-plus years and a lot of people to defeat to see that done."

    "If it makes the world a better place, I'll do it." I stated, utterly serious and Rune nodded.

    "I can get behind that. What do you know, you're right Purity, she's got balls." She turned to the vandalised flag again, "You're all right Death's Head."

    "It's not Death's Head!" I snapped, causing everyone to look at me, "What kind of hero has a cape name as generic as Death's Head?"

    Purity chuckled, "Want to go back to Stupid Jetpa-"

    "Shut Up!" I half-shouted, half-moaned, "Cape names should be exciting! Intimidating!"

    "What's wrong with Death's Head?" Rune asked, amusement in her voice, "In German that's Totenkopf, which sounds pretty nasty if you ask me."

    "It sounds stupid when said in English, which will happen. I want something that will intimidate criminals, give weight to my reputation and vice-versa." I stated, "No-one's going to take me seriously with something so generic sounding as Death's Head. Doesn't even fit my costume."

    Purity chuckled, "So what are you going to call yourself?" To answer her, I walked over to where I had finished my new mask, picked it up, and showed it to them. Rune started laughing as Purity stared in shock at me, before slowly saying, "That...could work."

    The new mask was a stylised wolf's head, clearly modelled in part by Hookwolf's blade-form as Rune caught her breath and Aster stared up at it curiously, before I shifted it before she could try to touch it, "Okay, I take it all back. You are hard-core, you have to be if you plan on wearing Hookwolf's face as a mask!" She shook her head, still giggling slightly, "You're all right. So what are you going to call yourself?"

    "Werwolf." I replied and they stared at me. "What?"

    "And you said my idea was generic. There's probably a hundred different capes who use a variation of that name." Purity responded, shaking her head, "We need to change it slightly, the theme is good, but the name needs work." She looked my workshop over, "We can keep the wolf part, but it should relate to your powers...hmm."

    Rune also took a seat the chair I used, before blinking as she noticed something and stood up, "The fuck? Did you bleed on this?" I nodded and Rune slid a finger over the blood stains, "Not that old, only a few hours. What happened?"

    "Shadow Stalker." I hissed, still angry at her for shooting me, as Rune nodded in understanding before noticing the arrows on the bench.

    "Huh, looks like the bitch was firing tranquilliser arrows at you." She held up one of them to show me a hypodermic point, "She used to use the arrows you use for big game hunting until she joined the Wards."

    I gulped, "Hunting arrows?" I had gotten lucky then.

    Rune nodded, "Yeah, nasty ones with flip-out barbs to tear up meat and cut veins coming out. She's killed at least five people with them." She decided to use my bench as a seat instead and played with one of the arrows, "These ones? Just like what they use to put animals to sleep. Surprised you aren't still out of it, there's still plenty of tranqs inside the reservoir."

    "I heal fast." I replied as I moved to a new position, and quickly changed masks, watching the improved optics come online before turning to see Purity and Rune staring at me, "Well? How do I look?"

    Purity nodded, "Actually threatening. With the rest of your costume on, it could very well scare a lot of people, which is what you want?"

    At my nod, Rune laughed, "Now this is someone I can respect! You should have introduced us earlier Pure!"

    I folded my arms, "Speaking of introductions, is there a reason why she's here Purity?"

    Purity nodded, before unslinging a duffel bag, and I blinked as I realised what it was likely my share of the money, "How much?"

    "Nine-hundred thousand and change." Rune replied, and I could tell she was smiling under her balaclava, "I couldn't believe that Purity would pull something like that off. But yeah, you grabbed over a million dollars last night, and that's pretty much the last straw for Kaiser."

    I blinked, "What do you mean?"

    Rune sighed and I could tell her smile was gone, "Kaiser's declared war on you. Openly. He's been hurting bad since Hookwolf got clipped and with these raids? He wants you dead as a show of strength to Lung and Skidmark that he is still top-dog in Brockton Bay."

    I felt light-headed, I wanted this, but to have in confirmed...it was slightly overwhelming as I managed to ask, "I didn't think it would piss him off this much."

    Rune shook her head, "If it was just the raids? Then no, he wouldn't give a fuck. Kaiser's a manipulative fuckwit, but he's a smart manipulative fuckwit."

    "And a cheater as well." Purity stated with some venom and I filed that information away for later consideration as Rune nodded.

    "That too. But yeah, he doesn't believe in the rhetoric like a lot of the capes under him do, or did, in my case. But he could use that, and he could find a way to make money off just about anything." She turned her head and I followed it to find Aster puzzling out another prototype, a scout drone with a very basic AI I had coded in school, before Purity started to walk over, stopping as I held up my hand to let Aster continue putting it together as Rune continued, "Anyway, Kaiser owns the Brockton Bay underground parahuman fights clubs. Parahuman on parahuman, human on human, and parahuman on human. The last one he likes to pay attention to since the human could trigger, and bam, new footsoldier for the Empire 88, just add drugs, whores and money."

    "So why did you join?" I asked seriously.

    Rune chuckled, "Power of course. I was raised in a White Aryan Nation compound that got wiped out before I was six, smuggled out to different 'aunts' and 'uncles' to learn how to be another storm-trooper for their white utopia. I was good little goose-stepper, even got a nice swastika tattoo on the back of my neck. Learned how to kill with a knife before I could walk, I was stripping guns before I learned how to speak, I learned how to read with Mein Kampf, and I didn't give two fucks about it all." She stared at me, "Because I learned early on, that without Power, it's all pretty words, there's no point believing when the next nigger or chink you meet can fly, or blow you apart with a ray gun, while you remain some weak little white bitch with only pretty words to back you up. The moment I understood that? The moment I tried to become something more than what they wanted me to be? The people I had come to call family and the other kids who I thought were my friends all turned on me."

    She slipped off the bench, approaching me, "I can crush a person with the pavement under their feet, a rock, hell a car. And I love it. The icons? The rhetoric? Meaningless, because so long as I have Power, I can do whatever the fuck I want. Oh sure, I kept the imagery, maintained the hate, easy on that front when you get beaten by some nigger who can fly or fart explosions, it's inevitable. But all this? Who gives a shit."

    She stepped away, "But that's not important. This is: Kaiser is losing money, and it's because you killed Hookwolf."

    I blinked, "Really?"

    "Really." Purity spoke up as Rune nodded, "Kaiser owns a legitimate business enterprise, a pharmaceutical company, but that's tied into his drug production and the fight clubs, and Hookwolf was his champion fighter."

    "So...I killed a money maker?" I asked, clearly confused.

    "You killed the money maker." Rune stated in confirmation as Aster ran over to Purity, holding up the completed drone. If that kid was a normal human, then she was clearly gifted, as I focused on Rune, "Hookwolf wasn't just one of Kaiser's best enforcers and a raging berserker, he was famous in the underground fight scene here, interstate and overseas. Whenever one of these tournaments started up, Kaiser would send Hookwolf as his main fighter, and Hookwolf would either win and Kaiser got paid or put on such a great show that Kaiser got paid just to bring him back next year. He fought other underground champions from across the world in competitions with buy-ins that make a million dollars look like spare change. And you vaporised him three weeks before he was expected to fight in another big tournament."

    I blinked, "You're not joking. He was that valuable?"

    Rune sniffed, "A lot of stuff happens outside Brockton Bay as well, you know. And no-one could touch him here anyway. Until you turned him into a pile of molten metal." She glanced down at my pistol, "Still having a hard believing that. But anyway, Kaiser lost a lot of money, and he's losing a lot of money. A lot of those tournaments are what allowed him and Purity to make a lot of connections for the Empire 88, and with Hookwolf dead, those contacts are drying up for him. So he's looking for a replacement."

    I felt a chill in my blood at those words, "A replacement?"

    Rune nodded as she indicated Purity, "Pure was Kaiser's right hand, a lot of his contacts came through her, so she can help you with finding out the locations, but Kaiser still has plenty of influence of his own. He doesn't just want a new fighter, a new champion, he wants a new Hookwolf, he wants a powerful new shapechanger that he can use to hunt you down and make Lung and Skidmark back down, maybe even retake the territory he lost after your stunt last night. And the best bet for a powerful cape is make them trigger young."

    The chill turned to ice, and it felt like another person was in control as I muttered numbly, "No."

    Rune nodded, "He's arranged for several of his white supremacist buddies to snatch kids and pit them against each other, against adults, and against parahumans. He wants to make one of them trigger with the right powers and abilities to be his replacement Hookwolf. And when a kid Triggers with the right powers..."

    I finished for her, still cold and numb, "He'll twist them into his own personal weapon." I slowly walked over to my chair, sitting down uncaring of the blood, "Purity, can you get that information?"

    Purity nodded, staring at her daughter, who was now trying to play tag with the scout drone, was she thinking about her daughter being taken and used for Kaiser's plans?

    I spoke up, "We need to stop this. We need to tell the Protectorate about this." Purity looked at me to see me staring at her, and she nodded.

    Rune spoke up, "That might be a problem. Y'see, all I know is that they're in other states. Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Kansas, and Utah."

    "I know people there." Purity stated, "I may have left, but they think I still believe. I can make some calls, ask some questions." She collected Aster, who complained at being taken away from her new toy, until I shut it down and gave it to her, earning a bright smile in return.

    "Do what you need to Purity. Rune, thank you for the information." I said, the numbness fading slightly from the warmth of that smile.

    Rune shrugged, "Don't thank me yet. Like I said, I only know which state they're happening in, not when they're happening. For all I know, it's already under way."

    She turned to leave when I asked, "Why are you doing this?"

    "Power." Rune answered immediately, "I'm doing this to secure my own Power, and find a way to increase it." She paused for a moment, then added, "And maybe I'm still human enough to say that this is wrong."

    Aster waved goodbye to me and I waved back as they left. Once the sensors showed the dots departing from the building, I sat down in my chair, pulled off my mask.

    And wept. Before I looked up at my rifle, that deadly rifle of mine, and I remembered how helpless I had felt against Emma, Sophia and Madison, how I wanted someone to save me.

    And now it was happening to some children, scared, alone, without anyone coming to help them.

    Hate stirred inside me. I didn't want to kill the Empire 88 gang members but these people?

    That hate intensified as I stood up and hissed out loudly, "I won't let that happen."

    I turned to my bench and picked up my tools.

    I had work to do.

    ---------------------------------

    I left the hideout intending on first getting Dragon's attention, when a small voice spoke up behind me, "Your chance of success is thirty-seven percent." I paused, turned around, and saw a little girl standing behind me, "Your chance of success in convincing Dragon and the Protectorate to help you is thirty-seven percent."

    I blinked as she suddenly winced and placed a hand to her head, "You need to...to...to get their attention and have them move on their own. Chances of success is seventy-two percent, increasing to eight-five percent if you strike at one of the known locations, ninety-two point seven if you strike at the concealed location."

    I approached and knelt before the girl, "Who are you?"

    She shook her head, "Can't tell you, decreases global chances of success by forty-five percent. Not yet, you must trust me."

    I frowned, "How can I trust you?"

    The girl was now clutching her head with both hands, "Kaiser will be there! He can't have...can't have...!"

    I grabbed the girl, "Can't have what? What?"

    The girl screamed in pain, "It's there! The parahuman is there! He will rule the world if it becomes his!" She immediately dug into her pocket and pulled out a bottle of pills before downing one, her laboured breathing becoming easier as she clutched her head, slowly relaxing.

    I stared at her, "Do you need a doctor? I can call an ambulance t-"

    The girl waved her hand to cut me off, "No, they can't help me. But you can. Just please...find that parahuman, if Kaiser gets his hands on it, he will rule the world in six years. Or destroy it in two."

    I stared at her, I had to ask, "Are you certain?"

    She nodded, expression serious, "Fifty percent for each, including fluctuations."

    I stared at her, "Why tell me?"

    She turned to leave, "If you fail, you will wage war against Kaiser, the Slaughterhouse 9, the Endbringers, and destroy this world in the process. If you succeed, you will rule it, because that is the only way for us to survive. All other options result in humanity dying a slow death."

    "Wait! How do I find the hidden location?" I called out to her.

    She paused and pointed at the skyscrapers and I looked up as well, "A helicopter will arrive from the south in nine hours. Kaiser will board and arrive in four hours at the concealed location, travelling north-west. He cannot be allowed to leave with the parahuman. You must stop him."

    I needed one last answer, "Wait, how can I follow him?"

    She turned and smiled sadly, "Your chances of success will increase to sixty-five point nine percent if you tell your Dad."

    With that, she turned and ran off down the street, leaving me to slowly get to my feet.

    I turned and jogged home.

    I had a lot to think about, but first I pulled out my mobile phone and rang Purity.

    She picked up on the second ring, "Yeah?"

    I steeled myself to convince Purity of the plan, "I've found some info, but you won't like what I intend to do with that info."

    "Tell me."

    -----------------------------

    I was right, Purity didn't like the plan, and she didn't like the fact that my information had come from a strange little girl. I didn't like it either, but it was the only plan we had as Purity admitted that so far, none of her contacts knew of a location four hours north-west of Brockton Bay that had a parahuman fighting ring. Either that meant this was a new place that Kaiser had found on his own...

    Or it was a purpose-made facility, one that Kaiser had set up for the purpose of making his new champion.

    Neither of us liked that thought. Even so, she agreed to tip off the PRT and Protectorate. Now I just had to tell Dad and find a way to plant a swasti-tracker on a moving helicopter without being seen.

    Of the two, I dreaded telling Dad more, especially as I re-entered the house, "I'm back!"

    Dad poked his head in from the living room, "Hey kiddo, have a good run?"

    I nodded, face serious, "Dad. I need to tell you something." I sat down on the couch, "I have to do something, something important, and...I'm scared. I'm scared of how you'll react when I tell you the reason."

    Dad sat down next to me, "What is it Taylor? You can tell me."

    I wished I had a different power, I wished I had the ability to summon characters from a videogame, the power to control insects, even having a supernatural weapon from another dimension welded to my soul would have been better, at least then I could have joined the Protectorate, or become a villain, I could have even accepted being a bounty hunter!

    But I took a deep breath, made sure my powers weren't active, and began to tell him.

    Tell him everything. I don't know how long I talked, how long I admitted to being the Rogue Nazi cape that started a gang war, how I had the power to make advanced technology but couldn't make anything without those damn symbols, those icons. I confessed to goading Emma into assaulting me, because I didn't want to be found out, how I just wanted to be a hero but couldn't do a thing without being labelled a neo-Nazi, without having to endure being hounded as a living image of all that hate, all that loathing.

    How I wanted to redeem it so I could come into the open without being compared to the monsters of history.

    I don't know what Dad was thinking, but I suddenly felt his arms around me, and I burst into tears as he held me close and simply said, "It's okay, Taylor. It's okay."

    I sat there and cried as he held me.

    Finally, he released me and cupped my face, smiling gently, "As long as you keep trying to do good things with your power Taylor, I'll always be proud of you. Okay?" I nodded weakly as he let go and slumped back into the couch, "But still, this is serious. I still have to make it clear to Mister Barnes that we have evidence of abuse against you by Emma, make him drop the charges against you. If he forces a court date..." He shrugged, "Well, let's hope you don't get unmasked before then kiddo, because otherwise this will get ugly, very quickly."

    I nodded, remaining silent, as he continued, "Still, why attack the Empire 88?"

    I smirked, "It's kinda stupid really. I wanted to have a white-supremacist gang confused and scared about a Nazi attacking them."

    Dad snorted, "You sound just like your mother." I closed my eyes as I smiled sadly.

    He got to his feet, "Well, what are you going to do now?"

    I took in a deep breath, here goes nothing, "I have to stop Kaiser from acquiring a parahuman child that could potentially allow him to rule the world."

    I turned my head to see Dad blinking owlishly at me, "You're serious." I nodded and he shook his head, "It's like something in a comic book. Have you told the PRT? The Protectorate?"

    I nodded, "I'm tipping them off tonight. With any luck, they'll shut the whole operation down." I hoped so, there was no telling if the parahuman Kaiser would be having had already Triggered, or would Trigger while we were on the way.

    Dad sighed, "I shouldn't let you go, but if you've snuck out for the past month just to tinker, I couldn't stop you if want to help people. And I shouldn't either."

    He moved over to hug me from behind, "Just promise me, promise me you'll come home safely."

    I nodded, "I promise."

    I had my opening to follow Kaiser, now I just had to make sure that Dragon got involved in this, she could be the key to helping me rescue this parahuman.

    ------------------------------

    An hour before the time came, I called Purity to set up a meeting location that would allow me to intercept the helicopter before calling me to give me the location.

    Once I left the house, with Dad's knowledge this time, I first got into costume, then walked into the building with Dragon's tracker. Acting without a care in the world, I buried plans for the compact bolas launcher, my rifle, and a personal shield generator, when my phone rang and I knew that the tracker would likely record my side of the conversation as I answered, engaging the voice corrupter in my new mask, "Purity?"

    "The fuck?"

    "Sorry, I'm testing a new voice system for my mask."

    "Oh, okay. You scared the shit out of me."

    "Then that means it's working. You have the interception location?" Dragon was a master of electronics, so she was likely finding a way to tap into the phone conversation now.

    "Yeah, and I think I can see it. Get over here fast. If we can't track the chopper, Kaiser gets his new parahuman superweapon."

    "Yeah. I know. I'm on my way." I hung up and my mask's sensors informed me that I was being followed as I engaged my flight pack and headed to the meeting spot, noting that whatever the tracker was using to follow me, it was a quick bastard.

    Maybe I could compare my hover units to it later?

    I shook my head, I had a mission to accomplish. I saw Purity's distinct glow and angled towards it, landing to find her floating slightly in the air looking south, "See it?"

    She pointed and I followed her arm, engaging my mask systems to zoom in on flashing lights in the air, and a dark shape that the systems cleaned up to show the distinct profile of a helicopter, "Good. That should be our target. You can point me towards Kaiser's business?"

    Purity nodded, before she snarled, "That fucker..."

    I glanced at her and she glanced at me, "He probably planned it, my Aster getting sick, him letting me leave, all of it. I bet he wanted Aster to Trigger, so he could use her against me." Her glow brightened slightly before she dimmed, "The manipulative, lying fuck. Probably wanted me to try and make it as a hero and let public opinion drive me back into his arms. If I hadn't met you, it probably would have worked."

    "Really?" I asked, curious.

    Purity nodded, "You're a safety net to me right now. If we pull this off, I can go to the Protectorate and say that I did this and there would be no way anyone could use that against me."

    I nodded sombrely, "I hope I can say the same when I try to join the Wards."

    Purity shrugged, "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think the PRT can market or spin you. Not without every skinhead on the planet coming to worship you. A Nazi superhero? You'd practically legitimise the cause."

    I sighed, "Don't remind me. Maybe...maybe when this is all over, I can hand myself over to Dragon. She's got influence in the Tinker community, she could help."

    Purity nodded and the conversation lulled before she turned off her light and lightly dropped to the ground, "It's nearly here."

    I nodded and pulled out a slender rifle, prompting a glance from Purity as I replied to the unspoken question, "Tracking Gun, let's me place a swasti-tracker at long range."

    I blushed as Purity giggled, "Swasti-tracker? Really?"

    My blush deepened, "Sh-shut up! I only made them on the first week!"

    The helicoper was closer and I immediately aimed, corrected, and fired, sending a silver glint into the distance before my tracking controller beeped and I checked it to see a signal.

    I turned to Purity, knowing Dragon's tracker was listening, "It's active. Let's go rescue some children."

    Purity nodded, and we were in the air.
     
  8. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Death's Head: Interlude - Shifting Storms

    Dinah Alcott passed the guards at the front gates of the Citadel without a glance in her direction. And why would they care? Dinah had been coming to the Citadel for years, she was practically part of the scenery whenever diplomats and territorial governors came to the fortress-city of Brockton Bay. As she walked through the front courtyard past marching robots and soldiers into the lobby of the Citadel, people would move out of her way or give her a respectful nod, because they knew who she was.

    "Miss Alcott, she's waiting for you at the Spire." Dinah nodded to the uniformed secretary and headed for the only elevator that would take her to the Spire, where the personal quarters of the person she was there to visit were located, the Black Elevator.

    Dinah turned as she approached the elevator to see a blonde-haired teenage girl standing there, "Lisa." She turned back to the elevator, "You were called as well? I didn't think the Undersiders would be getting involved."

    'Lisa' smiled and stepped forward, "Not the Undersiders, just me, apparently the Fenrir wants my insight into some information she's acquired." Her smile widened at Dinah's frown, "Come on now, we work well together, you know that."

    Dinah looked away, "I don't like how you can tease her and get away with it."

    Lisa giggled, "Because I'm not hurting her. Come on, we're going to be late." They entered the Black Elevator and as soon as the doors closed, it shot up towards the top of the Citadel where the tower known as the Spire was located. As they watched the sprawling expanse of Brockton Bay, the centre of the Central Territories, and the Capital of the American Empire, Lisa turned to Dinah, "Have you heard the announcement? About the New World Plan?"

    Dinah nodded, "How could I not? It's the only thing the news is talking about ever since she made the announcement." She glanced up at Lisa, "Sixty-eight point six percent, and rising."

    Lisa smiled, "She'll be happy to hear that." She looked out at a flash of light in the distance and scowled, "Rebels again. I'll be glad to see the back of them when the New World Plan is activated. Just think about it Dinah, a new universe, a place where we can live without having to worry about Rebels, the Endbringers, just each other." She giggled, "All under the benevolent rule of the Fenrir of course."

    Dinah nodded, face serious, "It's the only way. She cannot begin releasing independent nations until the situation has stabilised after the success of the New World Plan. Fifty-three point five percent for successful release over a period of ten years."

    Lisa smiled, "The chances might increase once I tell her what I've found out." With that said, the elevator chimed it's arrival and the pair walked out into a lavishly decorated corridor, passing a large workshop, bedrooms, a combined kitchen and dining area, bathrooms, a large living room, a set of locked doors that marked her private study, and finally they entered a large atrium where an older man was entering from another door, "Lisa, Dinah, good to see you, are you staying long?"

    Lisa shook her head, "I have work to do unfortunately, but I wouldn't mind one of your sandwiches before I leave."

    Dinah nodded, "I just wanted to visit, Mister Hebert."

    The older man smiled, "Please Dinah, call me Danny, your practically family here." Dinah nodded but they both knew she'd always call him Mister Hebert. The chance of her calling him Danny remained a steady sixteen point nine percent after all.

    Lisa looked around, "So, is she with her ---------?" Danny nodded and pointed towards one set of doors.

    "-------- just got back from Morocco. ---------- telling her all about the trip."

    Lisa nodded and turned to Dinah, "Well, let's go in and see them." Dinah nodded and followed after the older girl, really a young woman, through the doors.

    There she was. Dinah would always find herself slightly awestruck by the appearance of her best friend and saviour as Taylor Hebert, the Fenrir, turned to them, "Dinah, Lisa, it's good to see you."

    Lisa opened her mouth, and began beeping loudly.

    Dinah Alcott woke up and glared at her alarm clock, before rubbing her head at the slight twinge, "Dammit, I was so close." Her mother didn't like it when she swore, but Dinah found that it helped with the pain a little, and she would take any scrap of relief she could find.

    She downed one of her pills and got out of bed, today was the day, and she smiled as she remembered the probability, "Thirty-eight point nine percent...and rising."

    But she still couldn't see who it was.

    The parahuman who was the key to this all.

    Dinah sighed, ever since that day in the hospital, she had been focused on what Taylor could do, and so far, apart from the numbers and the flashes of future scenes, her most reliable source without the crippling migraines was when she slept.

    But it would be worth it. Taylor was the key to making her pain go away, to protecting her from the bad man in her dreams.

    Dinah would do whatever it took to help Taylor save her.

    "Dinah! Pancakes!"

    But first, pancakes!

    "Coming Mommy!"

    -----------------------

    "Thank you all for coming." In a secure bunker in a secure location, a woman sat in front of the three most powerful heroes in North America, another woman in a business suit behind her, "Some rather interesting information has come to our attention. A war is coming, a world war, and this is at the centre of it all." She placed a drawing in front of the three heroes and they looked at the symbol sketched on it, "The timing however, is fluid, and we're having trouble pinning it down."

    "So what do you want us to do? Have the Protectorate start sweeping up white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups across America?" Eidolon asked while Alexandria picked up the paper to study it closely, while Legend remained quiet.

    "It will be a good start, We've noted that advanced weaponry, much more advanced than current science allows, will become available to every soldier fighting under this symbol. Which means that somewhere, someone has found a way to reliably duplicate or mass-produce Tinker technology, or they've gained the power to do so. We have to find out now, and bring them under our control. Alexandria, I trust you can ensure the PRT will do their utmost to identify this new element and bring it under our control?"

    Alexandria nodded, "I can. And if we cannot bring them under control?"

    The woman's expression was stony, "Terminate them. We cannot risk the rise of a possible cape-ruled Fourth Reich."

    -------------------------

    The first sign that he was under attack was when the entrance to his secure bunker was blasted open by armoured soldiers, his own troops gunned down by advanced energy weapons. He began packing up to move, when the roof collapsed in front of him to reveal the armoured form of his enemy, and the giant, shifting mass of guns, artillery and launchers that always followed her, "Wolf."

    She nodded, voice corrupted into a growl by her mask, "Coil. I've tolerated you long enough. This, is the last straw." He pulled out a pistol, before screaming as his hand was reduced to ash, the Wolf lowering her smoking pistol, "You've been a cancer on this city for too long. It's time you were excised."

    She raised her hand and the last thing Coil saw was the glow from the maw of the giant shape behind the Wolf.

    Coil blinked, then picked up the phone, dialling a number, "I need you to do something for me."

    --------------------------

    Inside a lab in Canada, camera lenses watched from all angles as robotic arms worked on several objects, the mind controlling them meticulously recording them and scanning the process with multiple advanced sensors of her own design and the designs of others. In another part of the lab, a set of blueprints were in the final stages of being restored while more lenses and sensors went over every detail and every line as the first production run came to an end and robotic drones carried the finished product to a firing range, where another of the objects was sitting in its own test rig.

    The drones installed the finished products in their own test rigs and at a mental command, the control part of the experiment fired, sending a spinning bolas of electrical energy into a target. Satisfied that it was working, another mental command was sent to one of the newly finished products.

    Instantly it began to glow white-hot and before it could be stopped, managed to partially melt into slag before extinguishers cooled it down. The result was noted, and the slagged remains taken to be placed on a slowly growing pile.

    A mental command was sent to the next unit, and it fired, the bolas spinning slowly and weakly before it dropped to the ground, barely halfway to the target. Another shot was fired, and the gun sputtered, spitting sparks and smoke. The result was logged, noted, and the smoking unit was taken to be placed on another pile.

    With feelings of trepidation and excitement, it sent the same command to the third unit and watched as it fired exactly as the test unit. It stopped, and fired again. And again, and again, and again.

    This was it! This was what she was searching for!

    Dragon immediately ordered the production of more units, she had to continue testing. Perhap she cou-

    Her attention was grabbed by her tracker in Brockton Bay, someone was in the building. So far it had just been Empire 88 gang members and a few homeless people, but now...now her target was in the building, hiding more blueprints. She could divert an armour to pick them up and then meet with her personally, until the mysterious Nazi Tinker answered a ringing mobile phone, their voice female but corrupted electronically, likely by her mask, "Purity?"

    Dragon immediately went into action, she needed to tap the conversation, quickly!

    "Sorry, I'm testing a new voice system for my mask."

    Dragon finished tapping the call just in time to hear Purity's voice after a micro-second comparison to known vocal samples, "Oh, okay. You scared the shit out of me."

    Dragon began tracing Purity's location as she continued to listen, "Then that means it's working. You have the interception location?"

    Interception? What are they intercepting? It had to be related to the Empire 88, since this had to be the same Nazi cape who attacked them.

    Dragon listened to background noise as Purity spoke up, likely speaking from a rooftop, "Yeah, and I think I can see it. If we can't track the chopper, Kaiser gets his new parahuman superweapon." Kaiser, and apparently they were trying to stop him from getting a new recruit. The words about a super-weapon concerned her and she realised that this cape had to have detected her tracker if she was smart.

    That meant she wanted Dragon to know.

    Engaging direct remote control of the tracker, Dragon began following the cape as she engaged some form of flight pack and flew off into the city.

    Meanwhile, she activated one of her armours, the supersonic one, for a flight from Canada, as the two capes followed a helicopter.

    Whoever this cape was, she obviously wanted Dragon's help, but couldn't ask, or thought Dragon would refuse.

    But now?

    Now, Dragon was interested as she placed her lab systems on automatic, inserted herself into her suit, and then launched her supersonic armour.

    Time to meet face to face.
     
  9. malhavoc431

    malhavoc431 Muscle Wizard

    Aaaaaand +Watch! <3
     
    Xana, Enohthree, Nerevar86 and 4 others like this.
  10. Well, this is an extremely unique idea. I never quite expected to be rooting for a swastika wearing character to actually win.

    Also, seeing some rather loud hints of mental corruption there. Perfectionism, hatred for flawed thinking and ways, general intolerance of differences/'impurity'... interesting material.
     
    tkioz, Xana, Shashenka and 10 others like this.
  11. Lancealot

    Lancealot The Engineer

    I really don't get whats stopping her from making the swastika the same color as the rest of the armor so it's very hard to see, or covering it with something, or putting the swastika on the INSIDE of the metal so it can't be seen unless the gun is taken apart, or armor taken off.
     
  12. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Because then it doesn't work. It's pretty firmly established that anything with the tech that doesn't have the swastika proudly and visibly emblazoned on it fails in new, interesting, and likely painful-to-the-user ways.
     
    Xana, f1onagher, Nerevar86 and 8 others like this.
  13. Lancealot

    Lancealot The Engineer

    Sounded more like it had to be on the tech and not much more then that beyond maybe size.
     
  14. chrnno

    chrnno Time Traveller

    Read again:
     
    Xana, Nerevar86, AckermannFxn and 2 others like this.
  15. Tabi

    Tabi Over a thousand stories, yet unfinished.

    How much longer before Taylor gets her own Zeppelin?
     
    Xana, tkioz, Enohthree and 8 others like this.
  16. gideon020

    gideon020 CASEVAC Inbound

    Zeppelins are so 1920's. The real superscience is in NaziTech UFO's.
     
    Xana, Enohthree, f1onagher and 13 others like this.
  17. biigoh

    biigoh Fluffy Paws indeed

    Zeppelin? How about anti-grav tech for flying saucers?

     
  18. Tabi

    Tabi Over a thousand stories, yet unfinished.

    But how will they be deployed en masse? Via giant Zeppelin Carriers you fool!
     
    tkioz, Xana, Czlyydwr Llrngwl and 3 others like this.
  19. EnderofWorlds

    EnderofWorlds Der netteste SS-Offizier meldet sich zum Dienst!~ Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Better yet; cloning. Am totally stoked for SS Paratroopers; the para standing for parahuman. Army of infinite Aegises or whatever flying brick Taylor gets her hands on first; or even better, Microtech R&D department filled with dozens of Armsmasters.

    Also; Stroheim needs to happen:
    [​IMG]
    "German Science is the best in the world!"
     
  20. biigoh

    biigoh Fluffy Paws indeed

    Looks more like Bonesaw's work.
     
    ShadowCub likes this.
  21. EnderofWorlds

    EnderofWorlds Der netteste SS-Offizier meldet sich zum Dienst!~ Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    That's the beauty of it: Nazi superscience knows no bounds. So long as swastikas and the Third Reich is involved, science will make it happen.
     
    Xana, Nerevar86, Cosmoline and 12 others like this.
  22. I wonder about Dragons tests.

    The first was just like the blueprint. The second without swastikas, the third with invisible ones, but the last one I have no clue about.

    Does it have a different Symbol or does it work without them?
     
  23. Lancealot

    Lancealot The Engineer

    Keep the swastika but use it in the original form and make the armor and weapons look very Buddhist, that will really fuck with everyone. It would also remind people that the Nazis didn't have a single original idea in the their fucking heads. :p

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika#Buddhism
     
    tkioz and samdamandias like this.
  24. The scary thing is how easily it would be to start mass production, pick a few fairly secure abandoned factories and warehouses install a few nazi science/magic generators. Then all that is needed are to scavenge/make/buy some tools and supplies, after that all that is hiring a few workers to handle production. Of course the secret factories will only be making components and assembly would be handled at another location. This could probably all be automated but that would likely be far more of a hassle to set up.

    Considering all the abandoned buildings and what not in Brockton bay she could probably scavenge and fix up nearly everything she needs with the only expense being time and pay for the workers.

    The factories could also serve as a recruiting ground if she ever work up the nerve to risk it. If the leviathan attacks that seems a likely situation where 30 guys wielding super Nazi tinker tech rifles would be welcomed.
     
    ShadowCub, Nightblade and gideon020 like this.
  25. Shinzero02

    Shinzero02 Awesomely Bad

    That movie was very amusing.

    Taylor could use some Kroenen-bots (that clockwork Nazi from Hellboy).
     

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