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Thread: In The Dark [Worm/The Darkness]

  1. #1
    リビングデッド Living Dead
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    In The Dark [Worm/The Darkness]

    Chapter I

    Taylor drew in a breath, and followed the Undersiders inside the warehouse.

    It seemed silly... scratch that, it was silly, but she was feeling nervous for no good reason. She had sent the swarm inside first, of course. They had gone throught the whole place, and there was nothing. Well, no people, anyway. She really doubted somebody could have slipped throught the senses of the bugs, or even detect them in time to hide. And If her bugs had be interfered with in any way, she would have know. Of course, there was still the possibility that they knew they were coming and that some power or piece of Tinker tech would have managed to hide them from her swarm. There were so many powers that she couldn't really say it was impossible. But still, even though there was that chance, she was reasonably sure that wasn't the case.

    Well, it wasn't like her nervousness had anything to do with logic. No, she just felt an uneasiness deep down in her bones. Like the place itself was dangerous. Or like there was something too dangerous for them inside. Even after they all had gone throught, she still felt like that.

    It must be the stress. The things they had to do, which had only grow even more dangerous as time went by. Trying to kept Tattletale from finding out her real intentions. That she was getting slowly less sure of her intentions in the first place. Oh, and Brian. That too. Yeah, it had to be all of that, because usually she wasn't like this. She understood that. Still, she couldn't quite shake that feeling off.

    The inside was badly illuminated by the moonlight streaming throught the windows; at least, it was good enough to walk around. They advanced silently throught the darkness, alert and prepared for a sudden conflict. As they did so, she kept investigating the place with most of her swarm. The rest was reverted to looking for people wanting to ambush them, so they could hopefully react before they would do so. Her strange feeling probably was nothing, but there was no harm in being careful.

    Her own breathing, and the barely audible set of four footsteps. Well, six. For a few minutes, that was all there was. Then it changed. Suddenly, without warning, she felt some of her bugs die. She hadn't' even be able to find out what killed them exactly, which was a waste, but at least this was confirmation that they hadn't come here for nothing. Tattletale probably knew the gist of it, since she was directly behind her, but still, she told them. Silently. They had developed hand signals for this kind of situation.

    Taylor didn't felt any calmer. Her bugs were normal, as far as their constitution went, so it didn't exactly take much to kill them. But still, it had be done so fast, and the rest of the swarm hadn't caught even a trace of that which had killed them. That, adding to her previous uneasiness, made her even more wary.

    She took a deep breath, then she let it out. What a joke. There was no real reason to be nervous, but, even if there was, it didn't matter. Backing up meant returning to her normal, miserable life in which nobody wanted to help her and her father, the only one who wanted, couldn't. Backing up meant having committed those crimes for nothing at all. She just couldn't do it, regardless off what would happen.

    Something was dropped, right in front of them. She stared at it dumbly for an instant. It was just that, but the slight hesitation determined the outcome. The black smoke coming from the stone spread quickly, and by then it was already too late to get out of the way. She held her breath, but it didn't do any good.

    Pain. At first it was only a slight ache, but it extended throught her whole body. She coughed, tears of pain brimming in the corner of her eyes. Blood welled up in her throat. She felt on the cold, hard floor. She could barely breathe. Every time, it hurt so much like her heart was constricted by... something.

    Get away. She had to get away from this place quickly, or she would die right here. She forced herself to stand up. It hurt even more that breathing, but she somehow managed it. She ran forward. It was bad, but she couldn't quite remember why it was so anymore. She just knew she had to run. So she did. She ran and ran, until, she fell down on the ground.

    When she raised her head, she realized she wasn't in the warehouse anymore.

    She was out in the streets, and it wasn't night but the day. A thick smell filled the air. The smell of blood. In front of her, there was a red car. She knew at a glace that she was looking at the scene of a traffic accident. She stood up on her shaky legs. The pain had stopped, but she realized that only in a back of her mind sort of way. She approached the remains of the tragedy.

    That was her. Without a doubt, it was her. Taylor couldn't even remember her appearance, she had be too young, but it was clear it was her. It would be clear to anybody that they were related.

    Annette Hebert looked like she was sleeping. Yes. Except for her neck, twisted at an unnatural angle. Except for those empty, dead eyes. She was staring up at the bright blue sky. Had that be her last sight? Taylor's hands went for her head, and clenched, clenched, clenched. She threw her head back, and screamed. Her scream was drowned out by the sound of glass shattering.

    Darkness visible. Hands on her, pushing her around. In a circle. A circle of three people. Julia, Madison, Sophia. Then the voices, the insults. Anything and everything they could throw at her. That nobody liked her. That she smelled like. That she should just kill herself. That she was vomit inducing ugly. They even scorned for things they had caused in the first goddam place, rubbing in that she didn't have the power to stop her, that nobody cared. That those people would start caring if she killed herself, and only enough to try to wash off the ugly stain it would leave in Winslow High, that cancerous mass that didn't even deserve to be called a school.

    But now, she had one a way to fight back.

    The resignation faded with that thought. She called on her swarm, and made it attack them. The void was filled with their cries of pain. The thousands of insects and arachnids swarmed over and around the three girls, completely covering them. Biting, stinging. Entering throught the wounds. Under their eyeballs. She felt everything, and although the sensations were mostly disgusting, feeling like she was causing their pain so directly was wonderful.

    Their desperate screams slowly died down. As if they were now, they didn't even have the presence of mind to scream. Their whole world was pain. Well, even if they had, she wouldn't have done anything. Their words would be insincere, driven only by fear. Sure, they wouldn't even so much as look at her if she let them go, but they didn't deserve that mercy. Besides, she wasn't interested in what they would have to say, anyway. She only wanted those stuck up bitches to felt the pain, and make them disappear from her life forever.

    It didn't take them long to die. Ah, what a joke. They believed themselves superior, removed from the 'common people', but in the end, they were all talk. She was the one with the power here. Was this a crime? No, if anybody was to blame for this situation, it was them for hurting her in the first place. This was justice. Still... it wasn't enough. Just this much wasn't enough at all. Shaving away the skin, ripping off the flesh, and dislocating the bones. She poured all her bitterness and hatred into those three unmoving corpses, because... this was the truth. She was doing for her own satisfaction, so she would continue even at this point.
    ...I'm like this?

    Over and over. Until they were so distorted that nobody could tell their gender, until one could hardly tell if they had be human to begin with. They might as well be badly made, broken dolls.

    Do I desire this?

    Taylor threw her head back, and laughed.




    The void vanished. The corpses vanished and the warehouse came to life around her once again, as if it was being painted over that terrible nightmare. It didn't hurt at all anymore. She couldn't taste blood, nor did she felt it welling up in her throat. She was breathing heavily, and her body burned from fatigue. But that was all. Then... it didn't even need to be said that those sensations had also be produced by whatever hallucinogen had be in that thing.

    She stood up, while trying to calm down her breathing. They were not there. She wasn't even in the same place. That was clear enough because the illumination was significantly worse, but what she sensed from her swarm didn't leave any room for doubt. Somebody was here, and they had used that to separate them, so...

    A large part of her swarm suddenly died, so fast that more that killed, it was like they had be shut down. Leaving a quarter of the swarm in front of her to protect herself, she send the rest towards the figure streaking towards her in the darkness. There was something in it's hands. A Japanese looking sword, that was surrounded by a viscous, dark substance. The slightest contact with that strange substance killed her bugs, so she had to be extra careful when attacking, directing them to dodge the long sword. Still, no matter of well she did it, a few of her bugs died with each strike. The only question was how many died. Moreover, she could only call on the swarm fast enough and... if it reached her, she was as good as dead. Her heart understood faster that her mind than that was the truth.

    She didn't have much in the way of cover, and the space was rather tight. Just in case, she send some of her bugs, divided in four groups, to search for the rest. She was going as far as she had with Lung, because she had be forced to do it, but the man barely slowed down. It was like he couldn't felt any pain at all... or worse, that he could just shrug off that amount of damage. He started laughing, as if the whole thing was amusing to him. That reminded her of that hallucination, the vividness of each bite and sting and that feeling of pleasure she had got for all of it. She wwas suddenly sure that he himself was intoxicated with that substance, that he might even be just a victim.

    There. Right in front of her, his massive sword upraised. He cleaved throught her defenses with one strike, and stepped up to kill her. She took off the combat knife, ducked low, and stabbed her enemy in the knee. The sword fell under the light, and with that, the liquid darkness coating it faded as if it was an illusion. Then, for the first time, the man's face twisted in pain. He let out howl of agony.

    Taylor stared, frozen, at the enemy writhing under the moonlight like he was dying. That darkness. That was what gave him such power. Without it, he might as well be a normal human. She didn't want to let him die, but she clearly remembered the requirement of the boss of the Undersider's. That any at all opposition from those people had to be cut down.

    She couldn't stand by and let this happen, but still, what could she do? She couldn't return him to the darkness, because that would also make him regain his power, and she only knew the basics of first aid. She couldn't dealt with such poisons, even if she would have had the resources for it at hand. So she couldn't do nothing but stare.

    After some time, she heard the door opening behind her and the rest coming inside. How long exactly she didn't know. She just knew that the man in front of her was already completely unmoving. She hadn't gathered the courage to check if he was alive. She felt disconnected from herself, as if her soul had be ripped out of her body.

    "Wow." Regent whistled. "You really did a number on this little bastard." he idly poked him with his foot. "Still alive, though."

    "Then take care of him." Tattletale callously said.

    That surprised her. She didn't thinking she would be capable of doing something like that. Sure, she used what information she had ruthlessly, but she hadn't though she would be quite that ruthless. Regardless of the boss's orders, killing this one was clearly unnecessary. He was no a threat anymore, and, in any case, he wasn't going to last. Would saying something about it reveal her intentions?

    "Is this necessary?" Taylor said. "Without that sword, he's just a normal human."

    "That's where you are wrong." she sighed. "Look, I don't like going around killing willy-nilly. This is necessary. We can't hold back against these people."

    "I'm assuming you're not going to explain what does that meant, exactly. " Grue said.

    "I don't think you need precognitive powers for that." Regent said.

    "Just kill him already." Bitch barked.

    "Sure."

    Taylor turned towards Regent just in time to see him take off a knife. She took a step forward, unsure of what to do, what she could even do. She hesitated. The knife drew a ragged line across the man's throat, ending his life messily but quickly. She grimaced. Sure, she had carved out Lung's eyes, but this and that were different. She didn't have any other choice. Tattletale was saying the same thing, but it wouldn't sit right with her until she found if it was the truth.

    She took a deep breath, and released it.

    What's done is done. She regretted many things, but she couldn't do anything to change them. All she could do was carry that weight with her, make those things worth it.

    It wasn't much, but it was all she could do.
    Last edited by Wolfwood; August 18th, 2015 at 12:57 PM.

  2. #2
    リビングデッド Living Dead
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    Chapter II


    “All right.” Tattletale said. Taylor eyed her from the corner of her eyes. She watched as she took off a case-a normal case, without anything remarkable to it-, put it down and opened it. She noticed instantly than that Japanese sword would fit perfectly there. It had be custom made. Which meant that they had be set here to retrieve this, fully know this man had been here, and they hadn't be informed about what he had as a weapon. Well, everybody except Tattletale, it seemed. “Now that that's over and done with,” she let out a breath. “I have to say...”


    “That we were send to retrieve this sword?” Taylor interrupted her.


    “Yeah, that's right.” she said, her tone light. “Don't go stealing my thunder. I'm supposed to be the one with precognitive powers, remember? Anyway. We have to get it but, well, I can't pick it up. I don't want to even look at it. So, uh. Who's volunteering?”


    Bitch growled beneath her breath, stepped up, and grabbed the sword without hesitating. Taylor tensed, waiting for something. But it never happened. Like there was nothing wrong, Bitch just deposited the sword inside the case, and shut it. Maybe I did affect her, and she was simply hiding it well. Maybe it really didn't, and if that was the case, it made her wonder how it worked, exactly.


    At the same time, she didn't want to know. What had happened to her because of the effects of that black smoke, the same substance that coated that blade while it was in darkness, had be burned in her mind. Her mother's dead body, staring up at the bright blue sky. Those three girls, killed by her own hands and then how she had savaged their corpses. How clear and vivid had be every bite, every sting. She couldn't even imagine how that darkness had affected the man's mind. Yeah, such a thing should be buried. When she got what she needed to know, she would take it and destroy it.


    If I can even bring myself to betray them, that's it.


    She pushed that thought aside easily- it was a thought used to being pushed aside- and brought herself back to reality. She had to concentrate on what she had to do. Even the doubt, fear and repulsion her body language could be the trigger that would lead Tattletale to find what she was hiding and then… then she would have bigger problems that her uncertain feelings. That was for sure.


    Though the essential details had be hidden from everybody but Tattletale, she did say that after making the raid of the warehouse they had to got meet the boss soldier's at a certain point not to far from here. They went there. Bitch was the one carrying the case. At her side, like always, were Brutus and Angelica.


    A limousine was waiting for them in that spot. When they got close, the window was rolled down. The driver's face was a little obscured, but it was clear he was twenty something. Twenty five at the most. Bitch gave a look to Tattletale. She nodded. Then, without a word, she handed him the case. The driver took it, and put it on the empty seat besides.


    “Get inside.” at those words, Taylor felt suddenly nervous. Was this it? Would she finally meet the boss of the Undersiders? She told herself that she was nervous because, obviously, he was a dangerous criminal… but it was such a poor lie that it didn’t fool even herself. The truth was that she was nervous because, if this was it, she couldn't put off her decision any longer. It would be time to chose between what was right, and her own feelings.

    They entered. On the seat in front of her, there was another man. Back straight, with his arms resting on the sides of his seat. He looked about the same age as the driver. No, perhaps he was a little older. But only a little. Taylor chose to sit near the door. Just in case. Obviously, she let the swarm outside. But she didn't let them go.


    “I have to admit you performed past my expectations, since the beginning and up until now.” the man said. “I thought you would fall against what poor bastard had got possessed by Kusanagi, but you didn't.”


    Possessed? What did he meant by that, exactly? He couldn't be talking literally… right?


    “I like to establish something, before we can move on to the larger picture. The real reason I create you, paid you and send you to these tasks.” the man held his head slightly down, so that his hair obscured his eyes.


    And then, it happened. The darkness took form, expanded. From his back two serpents of darkness came out, one on each side. They had eyes black as moon moonless night, and their mouths, filled with sharp teeth, were half opened. What… what was this? It was the same thing she had felt from that sword, but more… more… more real. The power in that sword was only a shard of this thing, whatever it was. And this man lived with that thing inside of him? Suddenly she didn't know if to fear him or pity him.


    “I kept this simple, so you understand what you would be getting involved here. This thing… it isn't a power. I didn't trigger for this. Well, I triggered once, when I was young. I acquired Thinker powers, and I was brought into the Franchetti crime family at the age of six precisely because of that. However, at my twenty first birthday, this thing awoke. And then the power, the knowledge… it just went out of my head. It ate it. This,” he gestured to the serpent heads made of darkness above him. “Its called the Darkness.”


    Taylor looked at Tattletale, but her expression was impassive. Like she expected this. Like she knew about it. Like she thought it was the truth.


    “You know what the Bible says, I suppose. About the creation of the world, light and darkness, day and night. Well… this is what came out when It separated the night from the day. Pure darkness.”


    “You can't be serious.” Grue said.


    “He's serious.” Tattletale said. “And it's the truth, too. I saw it… no, more like I was show it. Its… Its kind of unbelievable, I know, but if you don't believe the origins of that thing, then just let me say it as such powers that it doesn't matter if its the truth or not… because it could easily be.”


    That… it was hard to wrap her head around that, even though she lived in a world with super powered people that also had contact with alternate earth. Even though powers came from nowhere, there was underlining logic to them. Like a science. So she couldn't believe that the thing she had in front of her was the Darkness, literally, and much less could she believe there was a God to begin with. Still, leaving that aside, that Tattletale was saying that it could easily be true based on the power it was terrifying.


    “Well, that's not exactly right.” the man said. “But I can't blame her for not telling without my explicit permission. Anyway, the Darkness is indeed that powerful. However, it is constrained by one thing. Me. The host in needs to interfere with the world. A human with limits. And light, of course. But that's goes without saying. Anyway, let's get down to burnishes. There's a group called the Brotherhood of Light. I'm sure that they have many, many names for about as many reasons, but that's their true identity. What are they after? The Darkness. They want to take it for me, control it. Controlling the Darkness is impossible, you would just be denying the inevitable… but that's how it is. It tolerates me and, as it host, it tries to ensure my survival. But that doesn't meant I get to actually control it.


    The man you killed was one of the members on the group. They killed the previous owner of Kusanigi, and took the sword back. One member got his hands on it, got overwhelmed by the impulses, and murdered his way out of the group. I assume it didn't take long for him to turn into nothing but a rabid lunatic.


    They have other artefacts, of course, but none as dangerous as Kusanagi. What I want is pretty clear. Join me. I give you status and power and, once you have helped getting back the Urn from them, I shall ensure your deepest wish gets fulfilled. How about it?”


    The thing faded away, as if melting into the darkness. Taylor let out a breath. She could still felt trances of its presence, but at least she not longer had to stare directly at it.


    “I'm in, so as long as they are in, too.” Regent said. “Not really convinced about half of what you said, but I pretty sure you don't care about that so as long as I would be willing to do what you want.”


    That went without saying, but… she hadn't really expected the first part. That loyalty. Honestly, she had thought Regent was the sort of person who only wanted that the only thing he wanted out of life was indulge his whims, and he always seemed so uncaring about everything, too, so… well, she just hadn't be expecting that.


    “I figured as much.” that man said. “Knowing who you're, I meant. And where you come from.”


    “Ah, shit.”


    “Grue,” Grue fixed his eyes on him. “I know about your… personal matter. Consider it done, if you join me. Such a thing won't be hard for our family. As for you, Bitch, I already know about you, too. I will provide the resources you need. As for you, Skitter… let's not mince words here. I know who you are. I know about your Trigger Event, and the girls who caused it. So, I'm pretty sure you already have want you want the most. Companionship, acceptance. Still, if you want something in exchange for your service, then tell me.”


    He knew. Just like that. This wasn't just a matter of betraying the Undersiders. Not only she, but her father would be in danger.


    “I...” an imagine of those twisted, broken corpses, as if they were badly made, broken dolls, appeared on her mind. She pushed it aside. “I… I don't know. C… I need time to think about this.”


    Asking him for permission to think about it would have be a bad move. She knew that well. Exposing the slightest vulnerability against this man would have be bad.


    “It's your choice.” he said. “Well, go now. I leave you a week to think about it . Tattletale will give you my contact information.”


    “I couldn't help but notice you didn't propose anything to her.” Regent said.


    “That's because I know she will come, regardless. She read me. She saw… things. She knows what's at stage.”


    They went out of the limousine. Taylor stared at it as it until it turned the corner, and disappeared from her view.

  3. #3
    リビングデッド Living Dead
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    Chapter III

    It hadn't be hard to find out about Skitter's identity. Anybody would know at a glance that she was a teenage girl. Even if her stature and body was misleading, it didn't really matter. His men had started investigating both Arcadia and Winslow since her addition to the team, searching for events that would constitute for a trigger. He had found one in Winslow. A girl who had be shoved into a locker full of waste, and other shit, and had be kept there for some time because nobody cared or nobody was brave enough to help her o both. Her name was Taylor Hebert.

    He had got himself a picture of her, and all the information he could dig up, including her measurements. He could tell at a glance that Taylor Hebert's body matched Skitter's body and, moreover, the Darkness didn't leave him any room for doubt. When he had seen her today, it had showed him her darkness. It had showed him her fantasies about turning the bugs on her bullies, about her guilt from her mother's death in a car accident, and, most of all, being trapped with no way to get out, suffocating, suffering, calling for help that nobody was willing to provide. It matched. There was no doubt about Skitter's identity.

    So what he had to do now was also obvious.

    His organization had investigated those three girls before, of course. Just in case. They had found out why their actions had be so casually passed over. Sophia Hess was also the ward know as Shadow Stalker. He didn't really care if the PTR indulged her conduct, calling her a necessary evil, or if they weren't aware of it. Either way, the reason for it was clear.

    Jackie went to pay her a little visit.

    She wasn't in her house, of course. But patrolling the streets, like a vigilante, despite of her situation. He tracked her down. And he found her, alone, going for rooftop to rooftop, that crossbow of hers loaded with was obviously lethal ammo. Found, found, found. He could have just took a picture, send it to the office of the PRT, and ruin her career. But that alone wouldn't have made things better for Skitter. And besides, he didn't need a picture, anyway.

    He jumped. The inhuman action was like a canon firing. Amassing his strength and releasing it, he covered twenty meters forward in an instant. He didn't crash into her. The ward went to her shadow state a second before he could do so, so he just landed on the ground with enough force that the ground cracked beneath his feet.

    He stood up. The sound of a crossbow bolt. He turned, and smashed it aside almost idly with the back of his hand. The girl lunged for his throat, but he just ducked, grabbed her throat and squeezed. She tried to go to shadow state again, of course. But she couldn't. She couldn't because, once he had got his hands into her, it was simply enough to shut that change down before she could go through with it.

    Jackie squeezed harder. She gagged, trashed around and tried everything she could do move him, to give herself even the slightest chance of slipping out of his grip. She didn't manage. Of course. For her to move him when he was in the shadows was an unthinkable as her, whose powers didn't increase her physical capabilities, to go against a Brute.

    He could have just broken her neck right here, ending everything. But, he didn't. He let fall to the ground, instead. She took a deep, desperate breath. Her voice was filled with pain. He just watched her. Without moving. Without doing anything.

    "W-what the fuck did you do to me?"

    "You don't need to know that." Then, he let the Darkness out. An armour from it covered him from bottom to top in a matter of seconds, and the two tentacles came out of his back. Sophia stared at him… no, more like at it, frozen. Even somebody like her knew who was the predator and who was the prey. "Now, give me your phone. If you have it."

    "F-fuck you."

    He hit her on the cheek with the tentacle on the left, knocking her to the ground.

    "Next time, that will take your head off. So I suggest you think before speaking next time, okay?"

    She gave him the phone meekly. He opened, and checked it, without taking his eyes off her. It had all that he needed to bring evidence of the bullying to Winslow, and destroy her reputation. Perfect. This was the last piece he needed. The members of his crime family had be tracking her down on her nightly patrols, to collect the evidence that she was using lethal ammunition. So this was the final nail in her coffin… well, not really.

    "Time to die." Jackie said.

    Then he let the Darkness tear her apart, feast on her.

  4. #4
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    Chapter IV

    Shadow Stalker was dead.

    After that last day, the meeting with Jackie Estacado, coming home to a father who was already tired of being kept in the dark, that fight, what she had said, the decision to stay with the Undersiders and leaving home. After all of that, that was the first thing she had found out about in the morning, when she turned on the television.

    There were no details, not even a hint of who was the killer and the PRT only gave vague promises that they would get to the bottom of this. It was… weird. She didn't really like what little information that she had be able to find out about her, and Grue had said that she was using lethal ammunition, so it was clear she wasn't good people. But if she had rejected the Undersiders, if she had continued her career as a Parahuman by herself, she could easily see herself patrolling the streets, getting more and more jaded, having a lot of bad experiences and close calls and growing to think that it would be best to put down criminals before they could do something worse, so she couldn't really say she deserved it.

    The news that Sophia Hess had gone missing made it better, though. She didn't have the slightest scarp of sympathy for her. Nobody could blame her for it. She had tortured her for so long, for no reason at all, all with her little cronies and she didn't care her if she would have died or killed herself. Hell, she had very nearly killed her once. In that locker. So good riddance. It was a shame that she didn't have confirmation that she was dead, but in a city like Brockton Bay, missing people were mostly corpses who hadn't be found yet. So it was about the same thing, really.

    Those thoughts were really callous, but she deserved it, she really deserved it. She toyed with her for her own amusement, and, most of all, destroyed her mother's flute. And all of that, just because she could. Sophia was a monster. She deserved that, and more. Taylor didn't really know her, that much was true, but even if she had some sort of sob story, it would have be all the more reason to not treat her like this. And, most of all, it was obvious that if she herself had be the one that disappeared Sophia wouldn't have given a fuck. Well, that was not the whole truth. She would have had to find another person to toy with, so it would have be a mild annoyance to her.

    When Brian came, she told him about Shadow Stalker's murder and he practically did a whole show and dance at the news. He looked like he would like to find out her civilian identity so he could tap dance on her grave. It was… he looked truly happy to see her gone, which was disconcerting to her. But it wasn't like she had any right to lecture him, nor did she want to. To him, Shadow Stalker had been like Sophia had be to her. Kind of. So of course he would be happy.

    Lisa came later, but she already knew. There was something… off about her today, but when she asked she gave her a no answer. Oh, well.

    “So,” Brian addressed everybody. “I think it’s important to get a few things out of the way, now that we know who we’re employed by, why, and our possibilities for the future. First off, I don’t think we should do a majority vote. As far as I’m concerned, this is too important, too game-changing, for us to go ahead with it if anyone’s going to be unhappy or upset. We come to a consensus or we don’t do it.”

    “Well,” Lisa interrupted. “Even if don't come to a consensus, I'm going. This is not something I can ignore."

    “If that's what you want.”

    “You should really come too, even if it doesn't happen. This is serious, and your powers are the most suited for the task. I don't even need to say why, right?” he nodded. “And is not only that, Are you really willing to let Aisha's adoption to chance, just because any of them might say not? Are you?”

    “...It wouldn't be right, otherwise.”

    “That doesn't answer the question.”

    “Okay,” Taylor interrupted, hoping to disrupt the bad atmosphere. “We're getting off topic.”

    Lisa gave her a strange look. Not anger. No, not that. It was more like… she couldn't really say, to be honest. She was really strange today. Had something happened?

    “She's right.” Brian said. “Fact of the matter is that my feelings about this don't really matter. We're here to discuss joining the Franchetti family.”

    “I've already said my piece, yesterday.” Alec said. “No particular problems with his proposal, but I want to stick with you guys, so I get in only if you all also do it. So… Can I go do something else now?”

    “At least sit there until its over.”

    “Okay.”

    “...I'm not really sure about all of this.” Taylor said. “I meant, I guess as far as crime family's go, they're not one of the worst. At least under his control, and they have done some good. Helped the city. But… I don't know. That whole story… I k-kind of believe it, but that's precisely the whole problem. What do we have to gain by getting in the middle of that mess?”

    “Our lives, Taylor.” Lisa said. “The Darkness is a Endbringer-class threat, for all intents and purposes. It varies, depending on how good the host is, but that doesn't change the fact that in raw power its unmatched by pretty much anything in this world. If the Brotherhood gets its hands on the Darkness, then we're fucked. Plain and simple. Jackie Estacado is a monster, but he became such to stop the bigger monsters. The Brotherhood, though, wants the world.”

    “What did you get, exactly?” Brian asked.

    “… I tried to read him when I first meet him.” sounding far off, Lisa started talking after that small pause. “And you know what the Darkness did them? It let me understand everything about it. And not only understand, but see it. I saw the beginning of this world. I saw centuries of carnage sow by its hosts. I saw terrible power. And in the end of it all, I saw Hell. Literally.”

    “Can we trust him?” Taylor asked. She hadn't wanted to admit it, even to herself, but it had never be a question of it they could ignore it to begin with.

    “So as long as we stay on his side, yes. He might not be a great person, but he's not stupid. Hell, he as men everywhere. Even in the PRT. Leaving aside that this is necessary for the greater good, he's good, powerful, smart and positioned to take control of Brockton Bay. If we have to serve somebody here, it should be him.”

    “On the PRT?” Taylor said.

    “How else do you think Shadow Stalker's corpse got found, and so soon?”

    “Cutting him off and just keeping our previous relationship, so to say, are wildly different things.” Alec drily said.

    “I know. Doesn't change that our situation would be better if we actually joined.” Lisa answered. “Jackie sure as hell made your situation better, Taylor.”

    “What're you talking about?”

    “Shadow Stalker, of course.” she answered. “Her civilian identity was Sophia Hess.”

    Taylor froze. She just froze. Inside of her, she felt… she almost felt like a part of her brain had exploded. She remembered. The insults, the laughter, that feeling of fearing even getting up in the morning. All the things she had done. And she was her. Shadow Stalker. The PRT had kept somebody like that in the Wards? Or worse of all, they didn't know about it? Suddenly everything made sense. They weren't just stupid, and self serving. They looked the other way for the sake of the 'hero'.

    She laughed.

    She laughed so hard tears started streaming down her face.

    “God.” she muttered, in between her wild laughter. “And here I was feeling some sort of understanding, thinking that I could see myself acting like her if I gone as a vigilante. And she was that bitch. The same that nearly killed me out of a fucking whim!”

    “Taylor...” Brian's voice. But it was like he had never spoke up at all.

    “So that was why you were acting so strangely, right, Lisa?” she continued, feeling incapable of stopping. Nor did she wanted to stop. “You should have just told me. God, I just wish I could have killed her myself.”

    Shaving away the skin, ripping off the flesh, dislocating the bones. Her vision swayed twice in front of her eyes. She bend over, one hand over her mouth, and tried to held it in. She tried to calm himself down. Why was she doing this? It was stupid. There was no reason to felt sorry at all.

    As she said, Sophia deserved it. Shadow Stalker deserved it, too, in the end, because they were the same person. What different did it make that she wanted to do it with her own hands? No, it was simple. Some people might say that there's a thin line between justice and revenge. People like Kaiser. The simple fact that she truly, deep within her, she wanted to kill her. Of course she did. She had to hold back for having her bugs rip her apart on the spot every time she as much caught a glimpse of her.

    But not even that was what truly affected her like that. She understood that, even though she didn't fully understand the emotions boiling within her.

    What affected her was thinking back to that savage hallucination, and that all too real glee.

    What affected her was thinking that it was a shame he hadn't killed Emma and Madison, too, even though the ringleader was gone.

    What affected her was thinking that the person reflected in that small mirror wasn't a person Annette Hebert would have approved of.

    When she drifted back to reality, her throat was tight and full with the after taste of her vomit and it hurt to take a breath. Her mouth was dry like she had be lost in the desert. There was a hand upon her back, rubbing it. Taylor didn't really care. She was half-sleep, half-awake. Not quite alive. She whipped her eyes with the back of her hands. The tears of anger and self-hatred.

    “I'm sorry.” Lisa said, as she continued. “I shouldn't have told you.”

    “Its not… Its not that… I...” that, even the sound of her crying voice irritated her. She thought about punching something, as childish and stupid as that was. She thought about punching it until it broke, until she would be satisfied. She just stayed as she was, her eyes brimming with tears, staring down at her unclenched hands. Nobody said a word. “This is… this is all so frustrating. Almost like nothing has changed since then.”

    She hated herself even more because she hated herself for having those feelings of guilt more that for any other reason, to begin with. Ah. It really was some sort of joke. Her head was such a mess… she couldn't think straight.

    “Please, don't...” Lisa started to say. And then Lisa's phone rang. She eyed her pocket awkwardly, then looked back at her.

    “Take it.” Taylor firmly said. “I'm not made of glass, and that must be important.”

    Now that her head was clear, or at least a little bit more clear, she was more embarrassed of reacting in such a way that anything else. Maybe… maybe the recent events had got to her head more that she thought, maybe having to see that man killed right in front of her eyes and knowing that he was just a victim, when it came down to it, and her first and only fight with her dad and actually having become a full fledge villain and seriously thinking of joining a crime family. Also, that substance. It had to have messed her up, too.

    Anyway. Alec probably wouldn't change at all, but as for Brian… he would probably thread more carefully around her. Not to mention, she was pretty sure she had completely lost Bitch's respects. Oh, well. Figures. Nothing in her life had gone completely right since her mother's death, so this was one more unfortunate occurrence to add to the ever-growing pile. It was vexing, but it was nothing new.

    “…He what?” Lisa said, with an utterly flat tone.

    She rushed out the room and… yes, to her bedroom. Taylor followed her, and the rest soon came. Lisa checked her email, and she read the contents of it over her shoulder.

    It was a list of the members of Empire Eighty Eight. Not all of then. It certainty couldn't be all of them, and the information was less through in parts, but more that half of the members of that gag were listed with their professions, addresses, phone numbers and such. Twelve of Kaiser's twenty one Parahuman's had their identities revealed. Twelve of twenty one was still a lot, far too much. Well, if it was just them, it would have be better. Not acceptable, but better. But their families were also outlined, in clear detail. In short, this was a bullet fired at the heart of Empire Eighty Eight.

    Letting out a tired sigh, Lisa hanged out and put the phone back in her pocket.

    “Who did this? Jackie?” Taylor asked.

    “No, not him. He's not stupid. It was Coil. Problem is, Jackie as be framed for it.”

    “Why?”

    “Purity, of course.” Brian said. “That woman with the beams of light. He's surely trying to get him out of the way.”

    “That's true.” Lisa said. “That's why Jackie as asked us for our assistance in ending the conflict. The heavy-hitters that he has have the same weakness as him, and the rest are all normal people, so facing of against Purity is a real problem. Brian would be covering for that.”

    “We might as well go for it.” Taylor said. “If we don't cooperate, he's surely going to wait until the night to start being proactive, and a lot of innocent people would die in the process. Besides. With this, we're already in, so cooperating with him is to our benefit.”

    “What do you meant by that?” Alec said.

    “Kaiser and his whole organization as got their lives turned upside down, and they know about us. About Lisa. I think is pretty clear who would they blame, all things considered. Coil has not had any actual contact with us, but its not like they know that. And its likely that Coil as spread that we're working for him, simply because he knows we're taking jobs under Jackie Estacado. So...”

    “Well. Shit.”

    “That about sumps it up, yes.”

    “That… that could be true.” Brain said. “But we don't have to go ahead and fight against Kaiser's group just because of it. Laying down, keeping a low profile, and let other people sort it out. That's the best choice.”

    “What?”

    “Look. I don't like seeing people get hurt or killed. I'm not that sort of villain. But I'm just being practical. What good does it do to get in the middle of that mess?”

    “Undersiders;” a female voice cut into the conversation. “Protectorate. Take note.”

    “That's Purity.” Lisa said.

    They went back, and watched the news. It didn't last long, about five minutes, but it was sickening. A building destroyed, a pointless warning, and the senseless killing of the camera man. Like that would anybody. She understood her snapping because her daughter had be took away from her, she really did, but all she was doing was ensuring that she wouldn't never ever see her again, one way or another.

    “She isn't going to stop.” Lisa said, breaking the ensuing silence. “I'm pretty sure of that. And that was the Docks. How long before she happens to knock down our place?”

    “Fine, fine.” Brian said. “I get it. Call him and tell him we're in.”
    Last edited by Wolfwood; August 22nd, 2015 at 10:47 AM. Reason: i

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