Hemolymph 01 I stood there shaking, water running down my naked body. I collapsed to the ground. Water pooled around me. Warm clear water flowed over me. I tried looking around and only saw red. Blood flowed freely down my bare chest mixing with my hair. I took a ragged breath and nearly choked on the blood running from my nose. A ringing in my ears drowning out all other sounds. I tried stopping the flow in my nose but my hands were shaking too much for me to do more than exacerbate it. I tried standing and only managed to slip in my own blood hitting the ground hard. I tried calling out for help to little avail. I reached out and the droning noise in my ears became a cacophony of sound. I pressed my hands to my ears to cover them. I felt more warm fluid flowing freely. Looking at my hands I saw them covered in blood. From my nose or am I bleeding from my ears too? It's too much blood. Way too much blood. I never expected this much blood. I'm going to die if I don't get help. I crawled from the shower towards the only door. My vision began to grow dim. I could barely keep my eyes open. I reached out for the phone. My hands were shaking far too much and my control was almost nil. Even still, I managed to knock the handset off the hook and press the numbers 9.1.1. I reached for the door and again fumbled with the lock. Should the police arrive, an open door would be probable cause to search the house. I tried to cry out for help to the phone but I could barely manage more than a whisper. Worse I couldn’t even hear if the call went through. Hell I couldn’t hear anything. I tried to think of why but my head hurt worse and my vision grew dark. I collapsed to the floor and darkness claimed me. 0 0 0 Minutes, hours, days, years. I opened my eyes. My vision was blurred. I reached towards my face and found my hand restrained. No, not restrained. Encumbered. I reached instead with my left hand. I held it close to my face and was startled to see it clearly. I moved it away and it was blurry again. Right where are my contacts. I tried to asses my surroundings. I was on a gurney in what looked like a proper hospital. The place looked clean but well used. I wasn't on Earth Gimel that was for sure. I didn't think there was much left on Earth Bet so maybe Earth Aleph. A nurse walked in at this point. Or at least I thought it was a nurse. She or maybe he was only in for a second before walking out again asking for a doctor Ne-something. Both returned to the room. The nurse and doctor were both a she. The doctor grabbed my chart as the nurse held a light to my eyes moving it from one side to another. “How are you feeling Miss Herbert?” The doctor asked in an oddly husky voice for a woman with such a small frame. “My head hurts,” I replied groggily. So they know my actual name? Could Lisa have set this up? If so why wasn’t she here. For that matter why wouldn’t I be treated by Riley or Amelia now? “You had a nasty incident. Do you remember what happened?" The doctor asked. 0 0 0 "I asked to be last for a reason," I told Amelia. She looked to me and I looked towards the Clairvoyant and Doormaker pair. I pulled on the string and brought them both towards me. I gripped their hands and looked. I sought out an answer. I looked for powerful capes. Ones that could end this fight. I thought of the attack by Phir Se and immediately saw him standing with a collection of other capes. Some of them in bright colors. Some in civilian clothes. All of them looking ragged. "When was this?" I mused allowed. "She only sees the now. She can't look back or forward." Tattletale answered without looking up from her screen of the fight just outside the makeshift shelter we were using in the wake of the attacks by Scion. "Take me there," I said to doormaker. And with that a portal opened before me. I walked through into the midst of capes forming a half circle facing towards me and the cape I came to see. "Weaver?" "Phir Se. I thought you dead after the Behemoth attack on new Delhi." "The world had no love for me. Death was convenient." "And after your death you decided to lay low." "Indeed." "How?" He looked at the Clairvoyant and Doormaker. He looked at how I was leading them and raised an eyebrow. "It's their abilities. They are fine." He gazed at me steadily and waved off the gathered capes. "I can walk through time as you know. Both backward and forward. To have gone back that day would have cost me the attack you saw against the Behemoth. So instead I walked forward. I walked to after he had been slain. And from there I called Particulate and departed." "And you have survived against Scion for this long without him noticing you?" "We have only fought to flee. My people work in the shadows. Scion casts light in the darkest of places. We cannot fight him. So instead we take our people and leave when he arrives. Sometimes we go forward, but other times we go back." "How far back can you go." Again he paused. I met his piercing gaze. I could not imagine the look on my face as he carefully appraised me. He took several minutes before he responded. "I have watched you for some time Weaver. Skitter. Taylor. You... made an impression on me. You walked a difficult path. Willing to betray, sacrifice, and murder to stop the monsters of this world. How many friends and allies have you lost when fighting these monsters. How many innocents did you leave to die to win the fights?” I thought back to Aster. She was still a toddler when I killed her. Had I only known it was Scion I would have saved her instead. He was right though. I was willing to murder to stop the end of the world. “I had been watching your actions against your Slaughterhouse 9,000. You had time to analyze your enemy and find their weaknesses. More still, you defeated an army with only a handful of allies. My daughter once referred to you as Khepri. An egyptian god with the head of a scarab. He was a bug god and his bugs moved the sun in the sky. He was the god of creation and rebirth. So too were you born anew as weaver. So to do your bugs move the heavens. You fight the giants of the world, standing against forces well beyond the abilities of a mere beetle. And yet you still stand where they are dead." He paused again. I waited for him to speak again. I could not rush this, as desperate as we were and with Scion on Earth Gimel tearing through my friends even as I waited on Phir Se to finish his monologue. "Perhaps with time you will find a weakness to Scion as well. Perhaps you are Khepri and your scarabs will move this sun in the sky. Perhaps I am a fool for thinking such thoughts as these." He looked back at the capes that he had sent aside. One was a young girl, maybe 13 or 14. She looked about Vista's height though had black hair and dark skin. I couldn't tell with her mask but she looked to have green eyes. Those eyes were fixed on Phir Se, not even taking me into her field of vision. I could ask him to do this for his daughter but he saw through my attempts at currying favor the first time and called me on it. I would wait. "How far back can I send you? How far back will be needed?" "April 11th, 2011." A look of sadness crossed his face. I thought rapidly what later dates I could work with. None of them would be easy. June 19th? No I would have lost Jack by then. June 8th? I could kill Jack when he comes to taunt us at Ballistic’s. No if he could make it to June 8th how much more difficult would 2 more months be and that would still leave me at a disadvantage against Coil. Before I could come to a decision, he did. "You will suffer for this." I tensed waiting for a strike. The other capes saw my stance and matched theirs to mine. "I will suffer for this." He said. He hadn't moved. The Indian capes were still poised ready to strike. If he moved to strike, could we get portal between us and them fast enough to get another one to get us out too? "I can send you back but you should know the cost." He continued without waiting for a response. "You wish to travel back two years when I have only ever journeyed a month. It will hurt you. You will suffer. You will regress. You will keep your mind but not your abilities. You will have your memories but not your body. And it will hurt.” He looked to his daughter. Without turning back to me he spoke again. “Me more than you.” He walked forward to the young cape who ran to her father and embraced him. They spoke in tears and in a language I was not familiar with. Hindi? Ordu? I didn’t know enough about their culture to even be sure I had just referred to languages let alone ones they might be speaking. He kissed her on the forehead and pushed her back. Turning back to me he walked the distance to where I stood. “We must go to where you were on this day. The city alone will do but I cannot move you back between worlds.” I felt with the clairvoyant for my home. The house was still standing as were several others on the street. Standing but not livable. Not really. A portal opened beside us and we walked through. We emerged at the curb where I grew up facing my house. “There will be blood. You will need to let it flow. You will be confused and weak. You will not be ready for a fight. You will need a day to rest at least. Maybe more. The trip may even kill you. But I do not this for a fact. When will you need to return?” Maybe earlier I thought? The 11th was when I fought Lung. I would need to be there for that fight but this time only with the intent to fight Lung. Last time I outed myself as a hero or vigilante even before I met Coil. I would need to change my approach. I wasn’t about to let him have Dinah either. I could fix everything, Eidolon, the Endbringers, the Slaughterhouse 9. We could push back the end till the 15 year mark. A year and a half and I planned enough to cheat my way through the psychos of the 9,000. Had I known that Scion would be the destroyer I could have changed tactics, delayed advances or moved to slow his involvement or speed it up. Having known that could have saved lives. 15 years with the knowledge I posses now, I could do this. I knew how to hurt him. I knew who could fight against him successfully. I could get everyone ready. I could be ready to take the fight to him. Maybe do it in small groups. A group of rogue capes dealing damage and taking chunks out of him till they could flee with Scion going back to helping protect the world right after. Ok that might set him off but I could have 15 years to come up with a better plan. “The 10th. I’m up at 6:30 with a run for an hour, then in the shower. My family is one for routine. I should be in the shower around 7:30 to 8:00. A day to recover should be fine. We have very good healers in my city.” I don’t need to beat Lung outright and if I strike hard and fast with the deadliest of my bugs first, he won’t be nearly the threat he was the first time. It could work. I would even have backup from both the Undersiders and Armsmaster when he shows up later if the fight goes on too long. “The price?” I asked him. “That you pay?” “I have said my goodbyes. Do not dwell on this. Soon you will say your hellos. Be reborn Khepri.” Before I could process his meaning he reached forth with both hands to my temples and blasted me with pain. 0 0 0 I turned to looked at the doctor and the room jumped. That made me jump. “Taylor!” my dad exclaimed. “Dad!” I cried in response. He moved toward me as I reached for him. The doctor stopped him with a hand. Wait when did my dad get here? I looked about the room and noticed several new faces that weren’t there before. “Amelia?” I asked the freckle faced girl opposite my father at my bedside. “It’s Amy actually. Though you might know me as Panacea.” “Can you tell us anything miss Dallon?” The doctor asked. Had he said his name? I couldn’t remember. “I don’t do brains. Her body though is fine. I looked at the CT scans you took. Looks like she was hemorrhaging from the hippocampus. She has some scar tissue there now but there is nothing I can do for that because,” “You won’t do brains,” I finished for her. “Well you seem to be able to recognize a few faces and your speech isn’t distorted in any way. We are going to run a few more tests to see what might have been affected.” “What could this kind of damage mean for my daughter?” I looked to my dad. He looked haggard and worn. I didn’t know the state he might have seen me in. Wait the police should have found me first. Dad would have left for work by the time I was back in the shower. Or would he? I know he had an odd schedule with the dockworkers union. Would he have been at the house when I dialed 911. Well that could be explained away if he was. The front door too. “The hippocampus controls memories. The minds ability to both remember events and the ability to produce new memories are what we would be concerned with. Given that she can recognize you Mr Herbert is a good sign. But as I said we will need to keep her for observation before we can make a complete diagnosis.” I noticed Amy was still looking at me. I turned to her and took her hand. “You healed me?” I asked. “Not really, I can’t fix brains. All of your bleeding was from the hippocampus. All I did was clean out blood from your nose and ears. You had a few other bruises and a fractured hand that had healed wrong. I cleaned up those few issues and started your body to produce more blood to make up for the blood loss. But no I didn’t heal you when you first came in. I wasn’t here for that. Anyway the bleeding stopped on its own.” She replied still looking at me oddly. “Thank you anyway. You are a true hero.” I had tried to put as much truth into that statement as I could. I don’t think she believed me. Could she tell a lie by reading signs from. Well yes but I thought I was honest when I said that. Before I could talk further my dad put his hand on my arm and I turned to embrace him. I hadn’t seen my dad in… I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen him. He would have been there for my graduation from the protectorate, had that not been interrupted by the Slaughterhouse 9,000. I hadn’t even known if he had survived the attacks by Scion. I had kept myself woefully ignorant not wanting to know for sure. But now, here he was. Safe and sound and none the wiser of my dark passenger. Oh crap maybe thats why Amelia had been looking at me funny. She won’t change the brain yet but that doesn't mean she can’t look at mine and see where it enlarged to account for my powers. Shit well I will have to be extra careful around her then. Maybe try and mislead her a bit using my powers to make them look like something else? No probably best to just not do anything around her. Besides there is another female cape in Brockton Bay that isn’t a villain. Oh, but there are a lot more that are. Crap. Well this shouldn’t change too much then should it? Could it? The nurse was reading the machines I was plugged into and had said something when I wasn’t paying attention. I was spending a bit too much time in my head of late. “What was that?” I asked. “I was saying that we will need you to stay for observation for the rest of the day before we are ready to release you. You will need to rest for a while longer until we can clear you.” “She should be fine in a few hours. Her body has enough blood back in it for her to function. But she should still try not to move around too much as she won’t be 100% for another 18 to 24 hours.” “We will still need to run several cognitive skill tests to be sure there isn’t any complications with her brain. Thank you for your help Miss Dallon. Now we could use your help with a Mr Daniels in the ICU.” The doctor was still speaking as he was leading Amelia out. I never saw her much when she wasn’t fixing up dying capes, running from the S9, or staring me down in a bank I was robbing. Well it looked like I wasn’t going to see her much now anyway. My father was talking with the nurse now. They had moved a bit away to give me some space to rest. I like the attempt at privacy. It let me relax a bit. I stretched out seriously for the first time taking stock of myself. I was the younger me. Limbs shorter and less toned. I didn’t have a mirror nor my glasses so I couldn’t see my face. I felt shorter too. And damnit I was back down to an A cup if that. Not that I had ever fully filled a B cup, but still. Next I reached out to my swarm. I had terrible control over them when I was in the shower but then again I wasn’t able to stand well either. I stretched out feeling their bodies react as I touched their minds. At first it was just the few in the walls of the room but then I could feel the ones in the next room and the one next to that and the one next to that and so on. I had the full feel of the building in seconds and I kept pushing beyond. I felt the bugs in the trees and in the ground outside. I felt the ones in the sewers beneath the street. I kept pushing. The bugs in the nearby buildings were within my grasp. I pushed further. The buildings next to those and the ones next to those held more and more. I could just start to feel the ones in the trees by that street when I reached my limit. Crap. My range was nothing like it used to be. At the height of my powers I could stretch 6 blocks. I was starting over again at 1. Well I knew at least that I could build up my powers and range. On top of all that I already knew how to do all the tricks I had come up with over the years. Laying string, building clones, setting up detection grids, striking a match and marching them down on a woman covered in gasoline, etc. But did I remember how to hear and speak? I tried focusing on the conversation my father was having with the nurse. Nothing but unintelligible murmuring. Well better than the first time I tried it. Talking was a bit better. I couldn't get them to annunciate but the cadence was down and certain consonants came out very clear. I still had a lot of trouble with the softer sounds. The humming and clicking didn’t quite get the right sounds for some of them. Again something that I could work on over time and build back up to. My control was slower too. I didn’t have the dexterity I had towards the end. By all accounts my powers had been reset. Not the end of the world. Well not yet at least. Shit. The end of the world. How the hell was I supposed to come up with a plan to defeat Scion. The immortal god that gave us all our abilities. Well lets take things one step at a time. I had to kill Jack. I had to kill the Endbringers. Before the Endbringers, I had to kill Eidolon. He only came out for the big disasters, like the Endbringer attacks. All three had come to Brockton Bay. If I left events to play out like the first time I’d have a chance to strike at all three in a span of only a mere two weeks or so. Ok so how do I kill them? Well Jack would surprisingly be the easiest. After facing down the 9,000 I shouldn't have any trouble with only 7 of 9. Really though if I set a bomb off in his lap that should leave too little for Riley to put back together. Leviathan I would have to go the same route we did for Behemoth. Chop him up into little bits then destroy his core. He might even be easier than Behemoth. We could trap him in the city and clock block his escape route. He might even kill himself on time frozen strings on his way out. That left Eidolon. Well he let himself be killed by Scion when he heard the truth. I doubt he would believe me if I said it but maybe I could get Cauldron to do it for me. Then again I could try catching him by surprise when he is between powers. Could work. Might have to work on that plan though. For now I would need to get out of here and get to Lung. Might be a long day. And with that the nurse set to asking me questions. By the nature of them I figured I was going to be in for a long day.