Master: The Very Best
Rating: 13+ because Worm
A/N- My muse has been kidnapped by Worm. This is bunny is an attempt to ransom her back. Also, I have like 1-2 days toward the middle of every month where things get super slow at work and I have to type at the computer and pretend I'm doing something. This is the product of this month's something. Enjoy.
Summary - Several Earths away from Earth Bet, on Earth Beta to be precise, Eden watched her lovable but idiot of a counterpart botch his landing and enter a coma. Depressed, Eden subsumed the remains of her mate and retreated into her inner simulations. Meanwhile, being Taylor is still suffering, and she's the only one too poor to get the joke.
Part One: In Media Res
I exhaled a wordless denial as the sound of physics breaking touched my ears. As usual I had my two eldest creations with me, and a few others old enough to begin training in earnest, but most lived in my labs. I could only pray under my breath –to God, to Slenderman, to whatever mechanism had taken pity on me when Emma left- and run. I wasn’t a track star, but daily morning jogs to get myself and more importantly my children out of the house had added up.
I had desperation and terror on my side.
My sneakers ate the distance between me and my nursery at an impressive pace. Tiny particulates of dirt hovered over the derelict storage complex like smoke and the distinct rapport of guns firing off echoed irregularly. I ducked between slats of rotted wood and entered the main grounds, my hand automatically moved to my messenger bag and the small storage spheres within. As the scanner embedded in the unvarnished surface read my palm print the sphere expanded to almost four times its original size – a feat that had been proven all by impossible until I Found some of L33t’s old notes in a wreck of a garage- and I tossed the ball.
With a flash of neon red, the color generated from the matter-to-energy and back conversion that all my storage units worked upon, my second born coalesced upon the field and a little ball of extra awareness lit up in the back of my mind. Ivy’d grown since I first made her and now stood as high as my thighs when on all fours. If you counted the rose bud growing from her back she came up to my stomach. “Saaur!” Ivy growled out; low, reverberating, and just a touch menacing. Her squat turquoise form began running with me, quickly out pacing me, ruby eyes scouting our rubble-strewn path ahead.
I couldn't speak. My chest heaved like a billows and I hoped my choosing Ivy was the right choice: Charming was my firstborn, more experienced and stronger, but he was also a heavy brute. His claws would rend metal if he wasn’t careful and his fire was indiscriminate. If by some miracle my lab was intact, or there were bystanders, Ivy had more options. She had vines to harry and bind, and recently developed a powder that induced sleep. I wasn't confident that the other two I carried would be strong enough. Sparring matches between themselves was one thing, it kept them active and happy, but a cape fight...( <i>Please be okay.</i>Collapse )
My power was weird, complicated, and had several caveats that I was still discovering and learning to work around. If it was the same for other Tinkers I can’t really fault L33t for his own screw ups and Armsmaster should have Alexandria’s job. Efficacy fuck the what. I can’t pinpoint when exactly I got my power. There was no moment of ‘Eureka!’ and suddenly I know how to go about bioengineering weapons of mass destruction. I have gone over my journals enough to narrow it down sometime after Emma stole then killed my mother’s flute, and when Madison somehow managed to arrange dumping the remains of the basketball team’s water cooler over my head after school let out for Thanksgiving break. I had walked home dripping Gatorade after being refused the bus and three guesses how that turned out. Dad thought it was a small wonder I hadn’t gotten mugged when cutting through the docks. I thought I was just too pathetic looking to bother with.
It was in an overheated, half aware haze that I had raided the fridge and actually started following through with the crazy ideas that sometimes surfaced in my waking thoughts. I still don’t know exactly what I did, but when I came back to myself Dad was picking me up off the basement floor and taking me to the emergency room. Nestled for warmth between my non-existent breasts was a single chicken sized, red speckled egg. Luckily, during my exam Doctor Sheffield hadn’t commented. Likewise, Dad never mentioned the bits of broken toaster oven, lawnmower, and egg yolk he’d plucked my limp body from.
Ivy and I passed prone humans as we threaded our way between storage units, taking a wide circle in an attempt to keep the explosions on the other side of the rusting structures. Some units were actual buildings, once upon a time, most were stacked storage cars. Surprisingly, most of the people looked like civilians. There were a few obvious gangers here and there like walnuts in brownie batter. Most were not breathing.
I was reminded of Armsmaster's first and only visit to Lorde Elementary: Life is not a Saturday morning cartoon. This is what it means to be parahuman. It was a truth I had done nothing but run away from since my triggering, turtling up in the basement, my room, my lab, hiding from Emma and her pack of jackals.
Ivy startled to a stop at a woman was made of broken glass, face frozen in a rictus of despair. Her feet were ripped off flesh a few inches away. I could only guess that sculpture's unbalanced weight toppled her over, and the explosions were coming back our way.
“Ma-Matte!” A man coughed wetly, and we both whirled. I plunged my hand back into my bag withdrew another sphere. For a member of the AZN Bad Boys he didn’t look very frightening at all. His body entire body was shaking. The ring in his nose couldn’t detract from how when he flipped himself over I could see he’d pissed himself. “W-wait. Please. Help me. Ba-Bakuda is… mad." He coughed again, and blinked at the red speckles on the ground.
I wanted to ask, Who the fuck is Bakuda? but I hadn’t been able to get any recognizable words past my lips. The doctors thought it was psychological and recommended a shrink to my Dad, but we don’t have the money. I could only gesture helplessly, but if I left him was I any better than whoever turned some woman to glass? He looked from me to Ivy, body wracked with pain but expression going slack. I knew that look.
I saw it in mirror every day at school.
It was after being stuffed in my own damn locker and the following Hospital stay that I had taken to carrying at least two of my kids with me at all times. My throat seized up, I couldn't give the commands that I used to, but a few weekend trips to Boston had taken care of that. The implant didn't even itch any more. Ivy stomped between me and the shaking man, though truthfully he wasn’t much older than me. Four, maybe five years? Either that or terror made him look younger. His pupils were wide black pits. “Please, don't, I can tell you about Ba-"
You didn't need to be god-damned Hero to be a decent human being.
I looked away, ashamed, and Ivy picked the man up with her vines along with an unconscious girl dressed in an Immaculata uniform. He struggled for a second before hanging limp, defeated, and we made our way to my nursery. He started jittering, each word translated with a wince, and when he reached the part about the Pain bomb in his brain everything clicked in my own conspicuously empty head. I stopped, shoes scuffing against charred dirt.
I stared at the smoking ruin of my lab.
Only a handful of little, colorful bodies lay limp amongst the debris. A year’s worth of work ruined in the time it took to make a bag of popcorn. The teleport pad that had connected to its partner in my basement was completely gone, drag marks as if it had crawled across the cement on its own damn initiative. I my glasses cracked, as the world shifted on it's axis.
I didn’t care that I was entering a cape battle for the first time. I didn’t care that I was outnumbered facing a fellow tinker and her army of desperate, crazed conscripts. I didn’t even spare a glance toward the three capes that huddled opposite, one of which looked to be frantically prying apart the casing of a sparking laser gun. I screamed without sound and lights flashed on in my mind. Precious few fireflies to gather and command.
There was a woman in some kind of mascot costume with a rocket launcher over her shoulder examining one of my storage units.
“Crap.” She proclaimed, her mask electronically filtering out emotional accent. “Don’t know what you think you were doing, bombs are my domain, but this is crap. Can’t even handle a little roughhousing!”
She tossed my sphere over her shoulder like so much refuse. She tossed aside my friend, my child as though they were nothing more than a toddler’s macaroni art project. My eyes stung. Ivy, unburdened, charged into the light with her skin shimmering. “IVYSAAAAAAUR!”
“The hell?! How many of you fucking Undersider’s are there?!” The bomber screeched, feedback from her inflectionless mask making her voice sound like nails on a chalkboard. “I swear you’re like cockroaches!”
Ivy, forgive the pun, planted herself in a rare clear spot of dirt and soaked a hail of bullets. Briefly, there were expressions of relief on some of the faces of the gunmen, the civilians. The milk-white of my child's blood began dripping to the ground, almost invisible in the sheen of light coalescing above the rosebud on her back. Strangely, as I activated the emergency release protocols relief morphed into disbelieving recognition, and terror.
“Not ours!” One of the female capes crooned, her mouth a bloody grin as she leaned heavily against a man cloaked in black smog. “You’ve just pissed off a bio-tinker, stupid cow!”
Ignoring the byplay, I hurled the sphere in my hand and it opened to reveal my sweet little Eve. Not much bigger than a Terrier, Eve was brown with white markings and fast. She outraced the beam of white-hot energy that suddenly careened across the battlefield to slam like a freight train into the bomber-bearing jeep. Eve dodged the around the flipping vehicle, broken glass, and poorly aimed bullets before stopping near the crowd of meat shields. Her eyes sparkled. She growled.
The result was a master effect not unlike Glory Girl’s, but I was already directing the horde of sprouts in binding the conscripts while my more experienced children distracted and subdued the true gangers and Bakuda herself. I split my attention to dig though the remains of my lab, chasing the dim, flicking bulbs.
Charming roared his existence and opened up with a spinning vortex of flame that disintegrated the rapidly fired bombs headed his way. Firewalker, a child of mine that looked like a cross between a puppy, a tiger, and bonfire pranced excitedly between Charming’s flames as the lizard like monster escalated from his base ‘salamander’ state to a more draconic looking one. He rampaged, my ‘sprouts scrambling out of his path and exclaiming indignation as embers singed their roots and leaves, razor sharp leaves flying through the air and embedding in metal and cement alike. Flesh put up about the same level of resistance as butter to the fired foliage.
A syrupy, dark smog filled the battlegrounds, providing cover at the cost of sight lines and sound. I pulled my shirt collar up over my mouth and nose, navigating by the lights in my brain, trying to direct my minions based on their locations relative to each other. A soft cooing drew my attention and I lifted a sheet of metal off of a brown pigeon, cutting my fingers in the process. Still a baby. My face was wet as I picked him up and cradled him in my lap. “Shh.” From my messenger bag I withdrew an old perfume bottle I had repurposed to hold a healing solution. Not as effective aerosolized as it would have been ingested, but if my creatures had taken so much damage they needed the boost they likely couldn’t swallow easily.
I sprayed my pigeon, little bundle of feathers I hadn't named yet, face dripping. My power told me when he stabilized, and I wiped my eyes with my arm. So few were still breathing. Most, I couldn’t even find the bodies. My feathery infant nested down in the hood of my sweater, and I shifted rubble, only managing to reach two others in time to save.
The smog had vanished and the symphony of pain was back. I surveyed the damaged, and I knew my face was twisted with grief. I held Hooty’s corpse in my palm. He was so small. Not even a month old.
My little owl.
The cold glass was a rock pressing into my hand.
I don’t know if it was my power, or me. Like the time I created Charming there is a big blank spot in my memory of what happened between my ineffectively spraying Hooty with the healing solution and me crouched over Bakuda’s body, slamming the thick base of the antique bottle into her face. Her gas-mask was warped, melted from the heat or something else I didn’t know. She was missing one arm at the elbow and both legs. Only her left leg Charming had bothered to cauterized. The right was a mangled mess blood and bone. It wasn't an effect of any of my children that I recognized.
“Veee. Ivy.” I still found it strange how dark and heavy a rumble Ivy spoke with. Like she was making pronouncements from the center of the earth.
Something sweet snaked though the air between all the smoke, smog, and suddenly quiet screaming. My bottle clattered to the ground as my own rage was snuffed by an invisible blanket. I glanced around, eyes failing to blink away the sudden drowsiness, and wondered at the slumped people. Thing little glowing roots everywhere. Firewalker's warm tongue on my cheek.
When had Charming gotten so big? When did he have wings?
I curled into my son’s furnace, and slept.
Taylors pokemon are less cartoony and more realistic, which means that when other people see them they don't immediately think, 'Oh! That's a pokemon!' It takes a moment for realization to strike. ReneCampbellArt on DeviantArt has several examples of the sorts of creatures Taylor makes.( Charming Coloring/Body TypeCollapse )