B010.6 Falling Hearts

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Fletch Erring – better known to some as Razzle – didn’t like his new job.

As far as he was concerned, life had been perfect before. Him, Laura, Jimmy, Cad, Pete and then Linda. Especially Linda, even if he’d disliked her for intruding at first. But she’d been sweet, and confident, and really, really pretty; and she’d treated him really well, much better than his own family. He’d fallen for her, hard, though now that he knew her background, he was pretty sure she’d just seen him as a little brother, and not as… well, not as what he would have hoped for.

But all that was gone. Linda was dead, gone, for no reason at all but bad luck.

And then Terry had convinced them to go on that fool’s errand, and Laura (who had been his first crush) had almost died as well. He’d never have joined Dajisi, had Laura not desperately needed healing. He couldn’t lose another friend, and he couldn’t have abandoned them, either.

He’d never wanted to be a real supervillain. He’d been just fine having some minor turf wars, and doing small jobs, and just having fun with his friends (and being away from his family).

Now he was sitting on a bench, his ass on the back and his feet on the seat, watching over their hostages. Men, women and – this part really made took him to a whole new level of uncomfortable – children. Why the fuck did they have to keep the children here?

Well, there was actually a good reason, as Kudzu had explained. He didn’t trust the man, but his explanation had made sense – Lanning had rigged the system so that it required a certain minimal amount of people in the mall to open, and a minimal amount of women and children among them. He’d quoted some statistics about the ratio of men to women to children on average days in a mall, but what it boiled down to was that they had to keep the children along with their parents.

Which didn’t mean they had to make this a nightmare. Razzle had ordered the foot soldiers (if there was one upside to being a real supervillain, it was having minions) to get blankets, snacks and drinks for the people. He’d even had some of the hostages man their booths to serve ice cream, coffee and other treats.

Most of the children were acting more like they were having the time of their life, eating ice cream while drinking hot chocolate with extra marshmallows (Fletch had a steaming plastic mug of extra bitter chocolate and a strawberry scone).

It was thus that he was just taking a sip of his hot chocolate when the ear-piercing shriek came out of the shop the specialists had been working in (a bakery).

Fletch fell off the bench, spilling his hot drink over his chest, but he barely felt the pain from that (his costume was rather thickly padded, anyway), as opposed to the explosive pain in his head.

The world fell silent as he fought for composure and turned around on his back, looking around.

The hostages were huddled up, holding their ears – at least those who hadn’t been knocked out.

What was that?

He looked at the storefront as he immediately began to use his power. He drew on the store of power inside him, pushing small pellets of power outside. Each pellet exploded into light, sound and smoke (though neither affected him) and threw out more pellets, which also exploded into light, sound and smoke, quickly covering him and his immediate surroundings in his trademark firework-mist. With barely an effort, he directed the explosions once he was covered, spreading it towards and over the hostages as well.

And not a second too soon, as the entire front of the bakery exploded – soundlessly – as three burly men in eight pieces were thrown through the window and the wall.

Oh God. He nearly threw up when he saw the ragged edges of their torn bodies, the intestines that trailed after them…

And then the machine stepped out of the store.

Fletch hesitated to call it a robot because it looked nothing like what one would expect of a robot; it looked like it had been haphazardly thrown together out of countless other devices. It had five “limbs”, multi-jointed spidery appendages, really. Each was tipped by a slew of different blades, guns and… other instruments whose purpose the young boy didn’t even want to think about. Its core was made of bigger, more rigid devices, with a single large red eye built into a hole in the whole construction. The whole thing had probably originally been coloured like a patchwork art piece, but someone had taken red dye and just dumped it over the whole thing, making it mostly bright red like a stop sign.

The eye moved within its socket, left and right, up and down, as the whole thing left the storefront with slow, ponderous movements.

Please, God, don’t let it see me. He didn’t know how his smoke interacted with contrivances. It was real, physical, but it only worked on normal vision and hearing (as well as heat vision, as the pellets generated quite a bit of heat), so if that thing had some weirder contrived senses, he’d have to abandon the hostages and flee.

He really didn’t want that on his conscience as well.

The mechanical abomination turned away from them and shambled – there really was no other way to describe the lurching steps, each of which seemed to bring it dangerously close to just collapsing into its constituent parts – away from them, all without making any sounds at all.

The young supervillain didn’t dare breath until it had left the place.

Pushing himself up, he tried to whisper into his communicator – but he couldn’t make a sound. Confused, he looked for his minions, calling out to them – but there were no sounds, at all.

A flash of understanding made him reach up to his ears. His fingers came off with blood on them.

Could my day possibly get any worse?

And that was when the hot girl with the multi-coloured hair and the guy in the white coat dropped down from the second level of the atrium. Before Fletch could even react, the two were already inside his smoke cloud, with the girl moving straight towards him.

Oh, come on!, he thought as they got to within a few feet of him.

Tapping into his second power, he sped up, rushing at the girl to tackle her down – briefing said she was a gadgeteer, and she didn’t seem to be packing any tech aside from her glove, which he should be able to easily evade as long as he stayed inside the cloud – and slammed right into her steel-like belly, knocked out before he even realised that he was outmatched.

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43 thoughts on “B010.6 Falling Hearts

  1. I never really understood people asking things like “can X get any worse?”. You’d think after decades of movies, tv series, comics and books, people wouldn know better.

    This is obviously not a full chapter. I’ll work on another one for monday. Neither is a bonus chapter or anything.

    For those waiting for the dreaming, the new chapter is about 50% ready, and I aim to finish it before next sunday (though I can’t make any promises right now, as seminars are starting back up)

      • it’s “free” insofar as there is not an explicit payment for the privilege of attending. there are still fees to be paid each semester, and though they “only” total about 250 euro, this tends to go up along with the running costs of the semester (books, copies, materials; all the stuff that would normally be paid out of semester fees has to be paid by the student directly), so… yeah…

      • Where I’m at, you have to pay all that, plus student union, plus maybe for a required transit pass (Whether you’ll use it or not, and you can’t transfer it) and university/collage isn’t free. The price of post-secondary is actually becoming a social issue.

        To make it worse, ‘industry’ is starting to demand the graduates have ‘real world experience,’ so they’re changing the curriculum for more practicum. While I approve of that in and of itself, I don’t approve of the driving force. Companies got used to the fact that there would always be enough trained, experienced people available. Now that the trained & experienced people are starting to retire in great numbers, they don’t want to pay to have to break the newbies in themselves. So they pass the cost onto the newbies, to get through post-secondary.

        It’s right up there with union construction companies using ‘apprentices’ as grunt labor for a couple years, and then dumping them as unskilled when they start to get expensive. Yeah, they’re unskilled, you never trained them, and the six-weeks-a-year trade school can only do so much.

    • I hear you, but what drives me up the wall is when in some anime and manga, a character presents himself or say something supposedly shocking or important, and everyone else has this URGE to repeat what he or she said, I know that it can be used to increase drama or showcase how utterly shocked the listeners are supposed to be, but it’s just so overused it makes me sick

    • stomach infection, three kinds of medicine, barely got out of bed these last six days. no end in sight. oh, and my glasses broke, too. you know, because everything else wasn’t bad enough already.

      new chapter is about 30% done, it will finish this arc. then comes “Canary in the Birdcage”, before we segue into Monkey Family, where you’ll, among other things, read about:

      – Aap confronting the ascendant
      – trying to keep his daughters from killing each other
      – get into a drunken brawl with the Dark
      – meet and talk to his Father
      – reveal what happened in the years since the war
      – find out what the hell this all has to do with Basil’s story

      also, there’ll be a lot of squick for Aap to try and forget.

      Furthermore, I’ll throw in a donation interlude (last one in the queue and way overdue) as soon as possible, titled “A Dark Day”

  2. @Tieshaunn Oh also, Looking over Weaver Dice for Worm. Say your character, Jaag there: “Thinker: Sees parahuman abilities as a colored aura around parahumans, the longer she observes a cape the more he learns about it such as weakness, functions and strengths.” Her trigger and set back sounds kind of like Terry. Did you by any chance reuse aspects of your old characters.

    • Try having to do a four man three week project in three days by yourself because the others procrastinated on it while you were sick (and pretended they’d been working on it the whole time)

      • Welcome to my ninth grade class. I was sick for the semester and my partners didn’t get shit done on our semester project. I did it in a week.

      • Is “I’m not working with them anymore” a plausible-deniability-version of the sentence “No one will be working with them anymore. On anything, ever again?” ‘Cause I’m kinda getting that ominous vibe off your statement that I love so much.

        (PS I’m glad you’re no longer feeling as sick)

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