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There was nothing I liked about my run in with Semper Fi, except the fact it was short. Once the press had taken their photos she had gone off with the police, finally walking instead of hovering on the spot, and did so with a clipping, arrogant stride, the affectionate calls of the crowd chasing the golden woman. I didn't waste time but leapt out of there, the work done, the attention of the crowd unwanted. If she wanted glory she could have it, but I only found the fawning attention of the crowd embarassing at best. The criminal had been stopped, his hostage rescued, that was all that mattered.

Bucket boys drummed speedy loud tunes as I dropped into the street a couple of blocks away, sticks beating on plastic buckets turned into makeshift drum kits, hard fast tempos that were rewarded with small change. One kid lost his flow as I landed in front of him but with a professional air spun his sticks and found it again, back to work after skipping a beat. It was the street music of Chicago, as genuine as poverty. I took a second to soak it in before launching off again, up into the air to land on a high rooftop, scattering pigeons.

The rooftops of Chicago had been my own domain. It looked like I'd be sharing my home now. I wish it was with better company. Misfit might be rough and crude-edged but she was genuine. I didn't feel the same about Semper Fi. Whether she was just a gloryhound or something more sinister I couldn't say, but she sat wrong with me.

I wish I could think about something else, there was plenty else to think about. The stone I'd pilfered from the government van sat in my jacket pocket, its mystery yet to be unravelled. A mystery that involved the Midwest Cartel, the government, and now the Outfit too. I had a meeting with the head of the Outfit, Salvatore Mangielo, the infamous Rooster, tonight. It had to do with the stone. The Outfit had tried to kill me, I'd been working to destroy them, but now they offered a truce. I'd go alone to an abandoned warehouse in Brighton Park for a sit down.

I had no illusions abpout who I was going to meet. I didn't believe the myths of honorable gangsters, I'd seen too much of their work. But I had no leads to go on except a conspiracy theory Discord group and a promise of help from Ms Grant. With government goons from the Department of Paranormal Affairs after me, as well as the shadowy organization who I'd taken the stone from, I'd take the help I could get even from scum like the Outfit.

I landed in McKinley Park with a building hunger. I dropped in front of a hot dog vendor, flipped him a couple of bucks. The old black man stammered, refused my money, and gave me two dogs for free. I wasn't going to turn down free food.

"I heard you were dead," he said, "You check the news? Heard you were shot yesterday."
>>
"Not yet," I said, launching off with a wave. I scarfed down the dogs on a rooftop. There had been plenty of people out in Hotspur costumes for Halloween, my guess is one of them had been unlucky and caught a bullet meant for me. A stab of guilt hit my gut. It wasn't my fault, it was crazy to think it was, but I couldn't help it. Well at least my photo with Semper Fi would stop any rumors of my death.

Beneath my feet pumped hot beats in a chilly day, boys on the stoop swapping jokes as neighborhood life moved by. I felt a small envy there that didn't last once I took my next jump, their jokes stopping at the sight of me leaping overhead. I wouldn't swap this feeling, defying gravity as I whistled through the sky, for anything in the world.

The horizon darkened as I made my way over to Brighton Park. Black faces became brown, English and Spanish merging. The city was a tapestry of ethnic neighborhoods, joined at the seams, melding in spots until you broke into deep territory. There were places in Chicago where barely a word of English was spoken. Brighton Park was like that.

I checked my phone for the spot the Outfit had picked. When I got there the sun was a splotch on a dark line, the temperature dropping to a bitter low.

I lurked on the abandoned warehouse, a fashionable gargoyle. The Outfit had beat me there, a couple of cars parked out the front, a guy in a flat cap coughing on the cold out the front.

A car pulled up, Frankie the Nose got out with Bruno. He didn't talk to the lookout, just went on in, his hulking bodyguard a step behind. Privilege of being a capo, I guess.

>go in through the front, mind your manners
>drop in from above, make an impression
>>
Previously on With Great Power Quest: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=With%20Great%20Power%20Quest
>>
>>4619781
>drop in from above, make an impression
>>
>>4619781
>go in through the front, mind your manners
>>
I called the I-88 the 1-88 in the archive

this is what I get for archiving tired
>>
>>4619781
>drop in from above, make an impression
>>
>>4619866
>>4619786
locked in
>>
I waltzed along the rooftop, finding a window to slip through. The lights were on inside, men in suits standing around a seated figure, another behind him, on his knees in the shadow.

Standing beside the man in the chair was Salamander's familiar tall silhouette, long and lean, wearing dress pants and suspenders over a formal shir, her hair waxed back into a long horse's mane, shaved at the sides. The man she stood beside was old, white as salt and about as sweet, waiting with a blank patience as around him suited goons muttered, sipping on a small coffee.

I could guess this was Salvatore Mangielo, head of the Outfit and the most dangerous man in Chicago. A man who had put a bounty on the head of a DSA hours after making bail. I could guess, but I didn't have to. It was obvious in the fearful respect of the gangsters.

Frankie and Bruno took up a place in his ring of men.

Time to drop in I guess.

I catwalked over a crossbeam until I was above them, then with a casual air I didn't feel inside, dropped backwards.

I landed in a crouch before him, the gangsters around him startled. He didn't blink, but Salamander leaned forward with a leering grin.

"So cool," she said, eyes bright. A raised finger from her boss stopped her from stepping forward.

"Salvatore Mangielo," I said, "You wanted to talk."

The gangster stared at me. He had the eyes of a farmer, picking from his stock who would be sent to the slaughterhouse.

"They call you Hotspur," he said.

"They do," I replied.

"Should I rob you of your youth?" he said, "Make thou dust, or food for worms?"

"I didn't come here to listen to threats. I can get those off any corner boy."

"You'll find a threat from me weighs different," he said. The stare held me in place greater than any threat. The closest I'd seen to eyes like that had been on Shark, and I'd judge Shark's had more humanity. "No threats," he said, "I owe you a favor. One you know about, the other you don't. The first was helping my boys against the monster who attacked them. The other is for rescuing the lawyer, Ms Grant. It's not in my nature to owe favors."

"Sorry if I'm not honored," I replied, "And what do you mean about Ms Grant? You had her abducted."

He didn't say anything, just waved his hand. The man I'd seen kneeling was dragged from the shadows.

"This is my underboss, or was. John Giacomo. He took care of things while I was away, and when I got out, made a reckless move."

John Giacomo stared at the ground, eyes large in a handsome dark face, a red crust coated the underside of nis nose down to his chin, his shirt stained with sweat and blood.
>>
"He ordered Ms Grant's capture and execution," he said, "He wanted to make a show of what happens to anyone who crosses the Outfit, and stitch me up at the same time, put me back in the joint. He made a mistake, now he'll pay for it." He nodded to Salamander, whose grin grew wide. She cracked her knuckles as she stepped over to the kneeling gangster, head hung in disgrace. Salamander loomed over his former underboss.

Whether cowardice or the mad urge to live, John Giacomo tried to pull away, shuffling back on his knees, but it was too late for that.

Salamander grabbed the squirming underboss, hands cupping either side of his head. She made soft shushing noises as she squeezed, heat building across her hands. Fire began to lick from her wrists as the underboss clenched his teeth, tears starting in his eyes as smoke began to curl up from under Salamander's palms. Then a bark of pain turned into a wail. "Please, no. Boss, no!" He thrashed helpless in the burning grip, his wail pitched with terror and pain, with pain soon overtaking the terror, becoming a squeal, the kind of sound a human shouldn't be able to make. Flesh popped with the smell of sweet cooking. Salamander's face was bright with joy, arms tense, squeezing.

Rooster watched, impassive. Around him his underlings looked away, Frankie queasy.

"When you make a move do it quick and don't play games," he said.

The screaming settled into a deep gurgle. Salamander gave him a last hard shake before stepping away. What was left was charred, blackened and dripping, what remained of a face contorted in horror, stuck on his knees. Salamander grinned with pride, wiping her nose. The perfume of cooked flesh stayed with us.

"This settles us for the first. Now to the second favor. You were told I'd tell you about the hijacking," he said, "About the game Navaja is playing."

"I heard," I said.

He handed his little coffee off to a subordinate, then raised his hand. "We all answer to someone," he said, "Whether its a boss, or God, or our own basic nature. John hungered for power, for respect. Even more than he worked for me he was a slave to his instincts. Navaja has a master too, an employer in this. I know because they came to me first. I turned them down. We didn't need the kind of heat this job brought."
>>
"Do you know who Ixion are?" he said.

The name was familiar. "They're an energy company," I said.

"Oil, gas, minerals, whatever can be pillaged from the earth," he said, "Criminals worse than any in this room. At least we're honest about our crimes."

"Ixion hired the Cartel to attack the convoy?" I said.

"Don't sound so surprised, we've done this work before," he said, "When the workers try to organize, who do you think they pay to bust the unions? If some peasant won't sell their land, they find someone willing to push them off it. We are very much integral to their system, as much as they pretend to despise us."

The first emotion I'd seen on his face, a smile and an ugly one, gone in a second.

"Who did they steal from?" I asked.

Rooster shrugged. "My guess is as good as yours," he said, "But they won't stop until they have what they want, Ixion or the men they stole from. Now its my turn to offer a favor. Rather than wait until they catch you, because they will catch you, I'm offering a chance to save yourself. Give me the stone, and you won't have to worry about killers in the night. You won't have to fear for your friends and family. All will be well, on this score at least."

He put forward his hand.

The stone burned in my jacket pocket as hot as the murderous flames that had killed the gangster. The corpse stared, the black husk of his head sightless.

>take his offer
>reject his offer
>>
>>4619936
>reject his offer
>>
>>4619936
>reject his offer
Worst case scenario we can just bury it in the middle of fucking nowhere and put it on the back-burner.
>>
>>4619936
>reject his offer
I'll keep that favor for later, thanks. Been a pleasure, signore
>>
>>4619951
Support
>>
>>4619936
>reject his offer

Thanks, but I have a lot of faith in my elusive abilities. Wouldn't have come here otherwise.
>>
locking those in
>>
"Thanks but no thanks," I said, "Whatever trouble the Cartel or Ixion can bring I can handle. Same with anyone else. I'll keep that favor for later though, if its all the same to you."

Rooster didn't so much as blink but closed his hand. Maybe he already figured I would turn him down.

"You've got a good way of making enemies," he said, "And a bad way of making friends. Be more prudent, Hotspur, or someone will rob you of your youth. Maybe not me, but somebody."

"Caution is the better part of valor, that's Shakespeare too," I said.

"Discretion," the gangster replied.

"Well," I said, "That's why I wear a mask."

There it was again, the suggestion of a smile.

"Is there anything else?" I asked, "Only its been a pleasure, signore, but I have other places to be."

"That's all," he said, "And let your DA friend know she's safe, at least from me. The bounty is off her head for now."

"Ms Grant also knows how to make her share of enemies," I said, "But if you or anyone else goes after her, you'll find me waiting. Bet on it."

Knuckles cracked, Salamander grinned. "Too fucking cool," she said.

I didn't take the front door. With a flush of white fire I launched up the way I came, to the catwalk above their heads.

It had been a useful meeting, even if it hadn't explained exactly what the stone was. A quick explanation was too much to hope for, if one was even possible. But now I knew there were other players, corporate ones, which troubled me for reasons I couldn't say. It was one thing to battle it out with gangsters, dragging billionaire technocrats into it? That was a whole other world I couldn't even begin to navigate.

But it was another lead. Ixion, the Cartel, this shadow group, all mixed up in a dark cocktail or conspiracy and murder. All centered on the Chicago Explosion and the consequences that had sprung out from it like mushrooms after rain.

And now I had a face to put to Rooster's name. A hard Italian face with a void of a soul who could an enemy burn with neither pleasure or disgust. How many lives had those eyes watched slide away? How many of those lives had been ripped apart? The life and soul of a city itself. Brutality wrapped up in a bespoke suit.

I slid across rooftops, leapt from railings, across the dark night with street lights to guide me.

Now I had to work, and keep the city safe.
>>
Navaja, Ixion, the Cartel, the Outfit.

All these things and more were in my head, carried night and day as present as the stone in my pocket.

But I had a life too. I had a basketball game coming up, a crucial one with Hunter still down with a broken arm. And I had a boxing match, me against Stink for a couple of rounds, trying not to get splattered by the big guy. And by Friday Kay's probation was over, something I was eager for. Our stolen moments at school didn't make up for what I'd been missing, the soft press of her body on mine while we made out in whatever privacy we could carve for ourselves.

And the ever present demands of school work.

How the hell was I supposed to juggle all this?

pick a primary and seconday focus for the week:

>school work, get an edge on my grade and my basketball skills
>crime fighting, investigate leads while cleaning up the streets
>training my powers, work on my boxing and my super powers
>social life, keep in touch with my friends and take it easy
>>
if you guys aren't checking out the Animorphs quest you should. I was a fingertip away from running an Animorphs quest myself before deciding to run this instead.
>>
>>4620063
>school work, get an edge on my grade and my basketball skills (primary)
>crime fighting, investigate leads while cleaning up the streets (secondary)
>>
>>4620063
Primary
>training my powers, work on my boxing and my super powers
Secondary
>crime fighting, investigate leads while cleaning up the streets
We've focused on other stuff for a while now
>>
Let's use a vpn and name-drop ixion in the discord
>>
>>4620063
>1. Crime FIghting
>2. Social life

>>4620074
don't think that would work, discord has accounts and can track referrals and invites.
>>
>>4620063
>School work
>Training
>>
>>4620063
>crime fighting, investigate leads while cleaning up the streets

>school work, get an edge on my grade and my basketball skills
>>
so primary is a tie between crime fighting and school work

secondary is a clear win for crime fighting

based on this result would anyone have a problem if I gave school work the primary and crime fighting secondary
>>
>>4620155
works for me
>>
>>4620155
okay locking that in
>>
>>4620155
That seems pretty reasonable.

Maybe Crime fighting #1 and School work #2 if crime fighting is so popular?
>>
I finished my Chemistry paper by the light of the tv, Dad flipping through channels. I don't get tv culture, sometimes I think he had it on just to have it on, like it never occurred to him he didn't need it. No one did. The playstation got more use, or did before we had to sell it.

A lot of the news was about Semper Fi. Rescuing kittens, flying into burning buildings to pull out coughing smoke stained children, helping out with car crashes and traffic jams, handing out soup to the homeless. Problems that saw her fly in and fly out with her cape fluttering behind her, all to the admiration of the crowd.

"We can conclusively say we a super hero children can look up to," a talking head was saying, some jowly bearded type, "And a role model for little girls everywhere. This is the kind of action our community needs, not more violence. Something to bring an end to Hotspur-mania."

"Are you suggesting Hotspur has been a negative influence on the city?" the interviewer asked.

"Look, all I'm saying is we had three people shot for going out in Hotspur costumes this Halloween. What he does is-is-is borderline unethical and possibly illegal, and its only adding to the violence in the city. And we've seen his victims, people left disfigured, amputated limbs, my god its a horror show! Is this who we really want our children looking up to? The kind of violent borderline personality-"

I kept my attention on my paper, I needed to show Mr Nfume my best, but anger boiled the back of my neck.

Dad flipped over.

"But if I'm being honest my greatest hero is my Mom," Semper Fi said, sitting in a studio across from a nodding Priscilla Takanawa, "What I do is nothing next to what a mother does. I'm a hero, but she raised a hero."

Dad whistled. "Legs!" he said, admiring Semper Fi's crossed legs in her short dress. Semper Fi had perfect answers to go along with her perfect bright smile.

I went to my room to work in silence, going over Chad's notes as I gave my paper a last run through. It seemed tight to me.

Then I pulled on my hoodie and dipped out.

I had leads to run down.

Navaja operated out of two key brothels, one was easier to get to than the other. 'Gatitas' was in Little Village, the kind of brothel where not every girl working was there willingly. Crawling with hoods, from Kings to Reapers, and everything in between, with nervous white gentleman shuffling in to put down money for a good time. 'Princesas' was in the corporate heart of Chicago, hidden in the tall Sears Tower, dominating the skyline. no way was a fifteen year old sneaking in there, or anyone with less than a million to their name.

So I settled on Gatitas.
>>
Girls who definitely couldn't be eighteen lingered out the front smoking. It was upsetting the way they were dressed, or the way they handed money over to a big pimp who swaggered down the stoop. It was a cold night to be outside. Gatitas could have been a family home if it wasn't for the people hanging around it. I watched a sweating businessman creep up the steps, nervous as if expected to be busted at any moment.

A couple of white bikes sat out the front. They could belong to one group and one group only.

I landed on the roof soft as I could, listening for trouble. Mostly I heard hard sex, live and pornographic first making me blush then turn sick with disgust. I had no problem with sex work generally, but specifically this was a seedy operation. The kind of place misery flowed from, with a flow of dope as the cure.

"You messed up, not me," a familiar voice said, "You were hired for the job, knowing the complications."

"And as the Old Man has said, we took responsibility for our share," Sullivan's drawl replied, "A full refund."

"That's not good enough for Navaja."

I lurked along an edge, risking a peek inside. The same guy with the glasses, snorting lines off the table then fidgeting with his nose.

"You promised her something, it's not about money here," he said.

Across from him sat Sullivan and Baby Girl together on a couch, Billy Lonegran standing by the door with a bandage over his cheek, eyeing off a cartel gunthug.

"We lost our share of men and material," Sullivan said, "I would call that debt paid."

"You can call it whatever you want, Navaja will have her way," he said, "Now we can do this two ways. You can do a second job for us, free, or you can pay it back in flesh."

"If she's coming for my head..." Sullivan said, voice taken a deadly edge.

"You misunderstand, not blood, flesh," he said, "Your girl can work off your debt. Navaja has seen her, she likes her, she sees dollar signs. Put her up in a room for a few months, in the niicer place." Baby Girl stirred uncomfortably next to Suillivan, who stared dead eyed at the man in the glasses.

"And the third way?" Sullivan said.

"The third way? You don't want the third way," he said, "My boss, she prays to Santa Muerte. Santa Muerte is more God to her than Jesus Christ. She's offering you these choices out of respect, others are not so lucky."

"Each a humiliation, we just pick the flavor," Sullivan replied.

"Sully," Baby girl said. Before she could stand he held her down by the thigh.

"I've heard you two aren't strangers to this kind of thing," the cartel manager suggested, "Is it really so bad?"

"What we do is by consent, and none of your damn business beside," Sullivan said, "but as to the first option, I never sign onto a job before I know what it is."

"You will for this one," the Cartel man said.

Sullivan frowned, then turned his head toward the window.

>roll 3 x 1d100+25 dc 75
>>
Rolled 41 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4620219
>>
Rolled 66 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4620219
Can we break in? Tell Sullivan we can work together to take down the reapers
>>
Rolled 86 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4620219
>>
>>4620286
success!
>>
Nice to see it good shit.
>>
I ducked low, out of view. I was getting good at this sneaking stuff. A tense minute passed.

"Navaja has a way of driving a man where she wants him," Sullivan said, "I'll do it."

"It's why she's the boss," the Cartel man said, "We'll be in touch with the details. In the mean time, if you want to hang around we have some fresh girls..."

"While I welcome the hospitality, in this measure it will go unaccepted. Baby Girl, Billy, let's go."

When they got up and left I stayed behind long enough just to hear the cartel goon spit.

"Hijo de puta redneck motherfucker," he said, something I doubt he'd dare say to Sullivan's face. "Go get Selina or Felicia, I need a fucking blowjob. Why you standing around, do you want to do it? Fucking go, idiotas!"

I crept away as a woman came in to see to his needs. Whatever I was about watching a greaseball get a blowjob wasn't part of it. I moved along the gutter, the sounds within curdling my guts. Weeping, manic laughter, someone being sick. The hard thump-thump-thump of a bedframe against a wall. I tracked around until I peered over the front, to watch Sullivan, Baby Girl and Billy come down the stoop, the men in white, Baby Girl in black.

A Reaper stepped away from their bikes, grinning as Sullivan put a hand to the revolver inside his jacket.

"No trouble," the Reaper said, backing away.

Baby Girl holstered her sword in her bike, pulling on her helmet. They revved their engines, pealing away into the night, headlights slicing through the dark.

I had a choice now. I could run down the Stunt Crew MC, or I could stick around here and see what I could dig up.

>run down Sullivan and his crew
>stick around the brothel
>>
>>4620303
>run down Sullivan and his crew
Let's have a little chat about their current position
>>
I don’t know are we sure that we wanna start making deals with criminals? I don’t wanna be over cautious I just wanna get a good idea of what we wanna do and I don’t want this fuck asking for a free pass on his next crime or amnesty for his gang for a few weeks.
>>
>>4620303
>run down Sullivan and his crew

All the action here just ended
>>
>>4620303
>run down Sullivan and his crew
>>
>>4620311
We've talked with criminals before without making deals like that. Don't see why we'd start now.
>>
>>4620307
>>4620327
>>4620339
locked in
>>
I hunted after them in the dark, heading south.

They stopped in at a gas station and I saw my moment. I dropped down on the roof. Ironically it was an Ixion station. Baby girl topped up while Sullivan and Billy went in, Billy looking like he needed to piss.

"I don't know why I couldn't stay back there is all," Billy said, "You got a girl but I'll take the crumb of pussy I can get."

"We ride together Billy, it's not safe leaving you alone surrounded by Reapers. It would have to be a pretty special type of woman to be worth that, and I can promise you she won't be found in a Navaja run whorehouse."

Sullivan picked through the candy bars while Billy got the key for the toilets.

He was heading around the back when I dropped in on him. It sped up the process, trickling down his jeans.

"That'll leave a hell of a stain, Billy," I said, crouched above him on a dumpster.

"Shit," he fumbled for his gun. A slap upside his head with just a touch of power sent it skidding across the gravel.

"Man, shit," angry tears filled his good eye as he stared at his distant pistol, "Why you got to flex on me? Sullivan's inside."

"I told you what I'd do if I caught you in white leathers again," I said.

"Man, you think they just let us take these off?" he said, "And besides, its not like I've got any place to go."

"You get that skid mark on the I-88?" I asked, pointing to his bandage.

"That psycho Misfit totalled my bike," he said, "I had to run and hide to keep those soldier guys from snatching me up. What do you want anyway, man, don't you have a gangbanger to beat up?"

I hopped down from the dumpster. "Go bring your friends around, tell them I want a word," I said, "Or you can try running, but you can guess how that'll go."

"I'm going, I'm going!" he said, hands in the air.

I leaned back on the dumpster, waiting. Sullivan didn't strike me as stupid enough to run, and if he was baby Girl would talk him out of it.

My guess was right, they sauntered around the corner cool as could be, with Billy on edge behind them.

"Hotspur," Sullivan said, "I would say this is a rare pleasure but we've been running into each other more often as of late. I suppose you've been tailing us since we left Gatitas?"

"I heard your conversation with the cartel thug," I said, "It sounds like you're caught in a knot. Maybe I can help untie it."
>>
Sullivan's eyes narrowed. "It's been my experience when a knot is tangled enough its best to just cut your way through." He flicked back his jacket to show his revolver, hand falling over it, old west style. "And your corpse would go a long way with Navaja. She's a bad woman to owe a debt."

"You know me well enough by now Sully, not to draw down on me," I said, stepping away from the dumpster.

"More right than not but a man has to take his chances," the silver-tongued outlaw with the silver pistol said. Our eyes locked, I saw his deadly intent, I saw the desperation driving it. White fire pumped through my veins, muscles bunching, ready to move.

"Enough," Baby Girl said, her sword drawn between us. "If Hotspur wanted to fight he would have taken us on the road, if we could take him we would have on the highway."

"My woman is as ever the voice of reason," he said, removing his hand from his pistol. I let the thread of power slacken inside me.

"You owe Navaja a job," I said, "I want information on Navaja. Enough to take her out. Maybe it could spare your hide."

"You want me to rat," he said.

"I'm not a cop," I replied, "And everyone here has already given up information to me before. Why break tradition?"

Sullivan turned a sly look on Billy before looking back to me.

"You'll want something," I said for him, "Tell me what it is, but keep it reasonable."

He nodded. "There is something you can help me with, and only you can do it," he said, "When that helicopter swooped down on us on the highway we legged it best we could. Some of my brothers weren't so lucky, got caught by soldier looking types. I want to know what happened to them, where they are, if they're even still alive."

"We put everything on the line for this job, and got nothin' but spit in the eye for the trouble."

>deal, even if its outside my current scope now I could look into it
>no deal, I wasn't interested in tangling with whoever they were yet

-

this is the last post for today but I'm keeping the vote open until tomorrow
>>
>>4620419
>deal, even if its outside my current scope now I could look into it
thanks for running
>>
Honestly this kills two birds with one stone in a way, we’re already at opposition with them and honestly finding out if what Eugene said about being a lab rat is true is worth it as well, we’re basically getting the info we need for something we were doing anyway. Although maybe we can see what type of timeframe he wants for that cause it doesn’t seem like an investigation we can just throw together.
>>
>>4620419
>deal, even if its outside my current scope now I could look into it
>>
>>4620419
>deal, even if its outside my current scope now I could look into it
>>
>>4620419
>deal

Ok so we did end up making a deal with them but these are honest gangsters vs shady government types so I'd say it's justified.
>>
>>4620426
that and its kinda nice how we're slowly building out our rogues gallery. Honestly I kinda like how Eric can be both roasting you like Spiderman and be intimidating like Batman.
>>
>>4620419
>deal, even if its outside my current scope now I could look into it
>>4621212
Yeah I didn't really notice it before we saw a more vanilla hero like Semper Fi but Eric definitely has a harder edge. Not in a bad "edgy" way though.
>>
>>4621226
Yeah noticed it also depends on the situation. Or at least that what it feels like. Also the line of 'I'll beat the invisible out of you.' is both hilarious and terrifying
>>
>>4621232
I sort of worry about how desensitized Eric is getting to seeing fucked up shit. Can't be good for his mental health
>>
>>4621235
Same desu, its kinda why I feel voting to misfit, she seems like good people.
>>
>>4621241
*share secret identity
>>
>>4621226
>>4620470
>>4620438
>>4620427
>>4620423
locked in
>>
We’re just gonna have to find ways to balance the shit from out in the field and all the good stuff we have available to us, we have friends in both identities, a support structure and a girlfriend. Seeing the fucked up shit isn’t gonna stop but as long as we don’t go full Batman and fully fall into the abyss ignoring all the fun we can have we should be fine.
>>
>>4621267
Couldn't have put in better words myself. I just fear the day Eric tells Kay who he is
>>
"Deal," I said. I put out my hand and he gripped it in a firm handshake. "I can't promise everything tomorrow, but I'll find out what I can."

"The same," Sullivan said, "I've only met Navaja the once. She's slippery, moves through middlemen and keeps herself removed from the action. You've met Carlos, the man in the glasses? Navaja has a whole army of Carlos'. Its the smart way to play."

"It's not in my nature to make deals with gangsters, but at least you're an honest gangster," I said.

A little smile played across his face. "Well that's where you have me confused, 'Spur, I'm no gangster, I'm an outlaw."

The difference to me was slim, a criminal was a criminal, but in this side of things we were allies, both of us had reason to be suspicious of whoever had owned the stone, and discover whatever they were up to.

"Navaja's main hangout is Princesas, a brothel in the corporate heights of Sears Tower," Baby Girl said, "She likes to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful, makes her feel legitimate, gives her connections most other gangsters don't."

"Like Ixion?" I said.

The Stunt Crew bikers frowned.

"Ixion Energy," I said, "I have it on good authority they put her up to this job."

It was a gamble letting them know, but the more they knew the more useful they could be.

"Well that adds another shade of complication," Sullivan said.

"Find out what you can and let me know," I said, "I'll do the same. You can contact me on this number." I gave them the burner phone number, Ms Grant's connection.

Baby Girl sent me a text. "And you can reach us on there," she said, "We just want our brothers back, Hotspur, or the chance to avenge them."

Hopefully we could both get what we want. Something told me though that it wasn't going to be simple. It never was.
>>
A+

I stared at the grade on the paper at lunch, sitting at the cafeteria with my friends, Mr Nfume's notes in red pen, all complimentary. A+. It was hard not to smile. I'd had my share of A- and straight As in my time, but the A+ was an illusive beast. Just shows if you put in the work you get the result, and having a good tutor helped.

"Congratulations!" Ayesha said. A+ was her average but she was genuinely happy for me.

"That's my guy, kicking ass," Kay said, her feet over my lap as she leaned back in her chair, dressed up in her cheerleader outfit. She had practice later today.

"Man, all I got was a lousy C+," Zeke said, "Mr Nfume has it out for me, I swear. I bet he just shores up your grade because you're on the basketball team."

"Nah, you're just a lazy bum," Rufus replied, "All I got is a B- and I'm twice the baller Eric is."

"He's never given me a passing grade," Hunter said, picking at his cast.

"Buckle down, you can do it," Rufus said.

"I just have trouble keeping it in my head," Hunter said, "All the words and stuff, they get mixed up."

"Maybe you're dyslexic," Kay offered.

Hunter shook his head. "Nah, I'm just an idiot. But you don't need brains to dunk a ball. Show me an egghead who can do that."

I held up my A+ paper again with a grin. He looked away with a grunt.

"Yo Chad!" I called across to his table, the trio of nerds with their heads down. I held up the paper and a thumb's up. "Thanks dude!"

Chad took it as an invitation, shuffling over. "You passed?" he said, gogging his head forward. I showed him the paper. "That's great Eric!"

"I had a good teacher," I said.

He grinned. "Well, I had an apt pupil." He glanced over at Kay. "Hey Kaylee." Then his eyes flipped back over to me.

"Thanks for helping out my boyfriend, Brad," Kay said.

"It's Chad, uh, maybe you don't remember but we went to elementary school together...since first grade uh..." he trailed off with a hard swallow.

Kay rolled her eyes. "I'm just playing with you, I know who you are," she said, "Tad."

My friends snickered but I didn't find it funny when Chad wilted up. Ayesha didn't laugh either.

"It's just Kay now," Kay added more nicely, "Sorry for messing with you Chad, its not funny if you don't get the joke."

"Oh yeah, its cool," he said, popping his hands in his pockets. "Well anyway, see you online," he waved at me before waddling back to his friends.

"What did he mean by that?" Kay asked. I just shrugged, not wanting to tell her about the discord group. Kay was great 90% of the time but she could be judgemental too.

"Did you guys see the new superhero?" Zeke said, "Damn, I wouldn't mind being rescued by her."

"I don't know guys, don't you think she's a little..." Ayesha shrugged with an uncomfortable look.
>>
"I think she's great," Kay said, "She's badass, she's hot, and she's an actual good guy. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for Hotspur, but isn't he a bit edgy? It's good to have, you know, an actual super hero in the city."

I kept my head down, I still had some reading to do for English. I let their chatter roll over me.

It ended with Kay getting up and hooking over my shoulder. She put a kiss behind my ear.

"Well I've got to run," she said, "We've got to work on our routine if we're going to cheer you on Friday night."

"And we got to practice if we're gonna win," Rufus said, getting up.

We split up, Rufus and me abandoning Hunter. It was strange playing without him, even if I didn't like him much.

On the court Mr Nfume had us do bear crawl laps, burpees, jumping jacks, all the cardio exercise we could want, and then he had us work the plays.

"The Southside team we got coming up," Tim said through the sweat, "I hear they got a secret weapon." Howie brought us water. "Thanks Howie."

"Well so do we if Eric can keep making dunks like that," Rufus said, mopping his chin with a towel, "And of course my own smooth self."

"You know it brother," Tim said.

Mr Nfume brought us together. "There's going to be no more fighting on this court," he said, "Last game was a disgrace. Maybe y'all didn't start it, but you didn't need to keep it going, and we're a man down as a result. You're going to train hard, not just your body but your mind. Hold your tempers in check, and beat them in the paint, not in a brawl. Gentlemen, we are not the hockey team, am I understood?"

"Yes coach," we replied.

We broke off to wash off. I swear there were times basketball felt more highstakes than crime fighting.

When we were making our way back through the hall I saw something that made me slow, blood cooling.

"Hey what's Ben short for, Bengus?" Jeremy said, Ben cornered between a row of locker, "Bengina?"

"It's Benjamin, Jeremy, you know that," he said, shrivelled back, caught on his own.

"Yeah, Bengus Schlomo, right?" he said, rubbing his nose.

"Schlomo is a first name," Ben said.

"Shit, its a real name?" Jeremy laughed, "I thought it was just some anti-Jew joke. Okay, Bengus Schlomo Jewfried."

"Lieber, my last name's Lieber," he said, the larger boy looming over him.

"You a faggot too?" Jeremy asked, "Faggot Jewboy?"

"Hey," Hunter came up from behind me, fae all dark, "Step back."

"Oh, this guy, huh," Jeremy said, but he did back up, "The other retard on the basketball team."

Hunter grabbed him by the shirt, knotting it up in his fist.

"What'd you say?" Hunter said.

"Did I st-stutter?" Jeremy was sweating but he had a manic grin, "You and H-Howie are a m-matching p-pair of r-retards."

Hunter's face went pale, his eyes cold. He was about to do something stupid.

>step in before a fight broke out
>let it play out, Jeremy deserved it
>>
>>4621338
>step in before a fight broke out

He's not worth the detention Hunter
>>
>>4621338
>step in before a fight broke out
>>
>>4621338
>step in before a fight broke out
>>
>step in before a fight broke out

Hunter don’t get in trouble over this piece of shit he’s not worth it.
>>
>>4621370
>>4621359
>>4621353
>>4621349
locked in
>>
"Hey, hey," I came in, grabbing Hunter's arm, "Don't let this rat get under your skin."

Hunter grit his teeth, face a shade of purple.

"The retard defender strikes again," Jeremy said, "How're you doing shit-shoes?"

"You really can't keep your mouth shut," I snapped over my shoulder, pulling Hunter back.

Behind me a high pitched voice muttered.

"You okay Jeremy?"

There was a reason Jeremy Kusich got away with so much bullshit, and what appeared like a fleshy iceberg up the hallway was one of those reasons. Bryan Kusich was a linebacker on the football team, looked half wild-hog, and was just as mean. He was also Jeremy's cousin, and had a protective streak for his family. Behind him came other members of the team, all seniors, just as big and dumb as Bryan himself.

The football team played all gallant most of the time, but I'd heard enough stories about what went down at their afterparties that my blood ran hot. Girls didn't always get a chance to say 'no' when they were trapped between three or four of them.

"There a problem?" didn't matter what Bryan did he always seemed to be chewing on something, maybe his own tongue.

"These jocks were g-going to stuff me in a locker," Jeremy sniffed, getting all frightened. He'd make a hell of an actor.

Bryan pointed a thick hotdog finger at me. "Aren't you the guy whooped my cousin?" he said, "You're some kind of pervert rent boy too. Heard you suck off strangers for cash in the parks."

I bristled, remembering the gossip Jeremy had kicked up around me. no one worth anything believed it, but Bryan wasn't worth anything, neither were his flunkies. He chewed his tongue looking down on me.

"You got a pretty little girl mouth," he said. My skin crawled.

"What's good, assholes?"
>>
Rufus' voice blasted down the corridor. He came stepping up with Tim behind him and the other black guys from the basketball team, all some shade of brown. It was a stark contrast with the football team, as bright white as sheet paper.

"I'm a problem, motherfucker," Rufus said, getting up in Bryan's face. Rufus wasn't the tallest guy on the basketball team but he wasn't short, but Bryan was still taller by a head, with packed on hog muscle besides.

"You a ball playing pussy," Bryan said, "You want to throw down? We actually hurt people, not dance around like a bunch of sissies."

"There's no pads on the court, nigga," Rufus said. Bryan eyes got meaner. "Yeah, I see it. See it in your eyes. You want to say it too, don't you? All you white boys do. Go ahead, say it, see what happens. Shit, I'll say it with you. Ni-ni-ni-."

Bryan backed up a step.

Rufus scrunched up his face in disgust. "Nigga please."

The football team backed away, Bryan clicking his teeth for Jeremy to follow. When they were gone, Hunter turned to Rufus.

"Can I say it?" he asked.

Rufus snorted. "Hell no, brother," he said.

In all the confrontation Ben had slipped away. He really was smart.

"Thanks for having my back," Hunter said, "Stopped me from doing something stupid."

"It's cool," I said, "Nothing good comes from messing with a sneaky rat like Jeremy."

"I don't know man, I don't like it when he talks shit about Howie," Hunter said, "Kid's just what he is, can't help it. No worse than anyone else for it either."

"Man, anyone talks shit about Howie is a punk ass," Rufus said. Everyone was in agreement there. I wasn't sure about these guys when I'd first met them, thought they might just be jagoff jocks, but they were good guys on the whole. They were my team mates, and I guess that meant something.

We met up with Kay after her own practice. She waved goodbye to Jessica and Peyton, jogging over to meet us.

"Dad will be picking me up in a sec, so this'll have to do," she went on her toes and pecked me on the lips, "But my probation ends right after your game, so there's a whole lot more waiting."

She had a smile set my heart on fire, teasing as she walked away. It made all the ugliness knotted up inside me fall away. Calmed the anger throbbing in the back of my head.

I don't know what the feeling was but maybe...was I?

>is this...am I in love?
>don't be stupid, don't over think it
>>
sorry got distracted by something on my end
>>
>I don’t know what this feeling is, but I like it and I want to find out
>>
>>4621488
>is this...am I in love?
"Do I love my girlfriend?"
Oh geez guys sometimes I forget our MC is 15
>>
I’m fine with knowing we love her, I just made my vote for the people I know have problems with her so we can reach a healthy middle. Hey Bullpen if the I love her vote looks to be losing you can switch mine to that.
>>
>>4621488
>is this...am I in love?
>>
>>4621488
>is this...am I in love?
GO STUPID GO CRAZY
>>
I have to deal with something here so there'll be a delay on the next update, but I'm still running

vote's still open until I get back
>>
>>4621530
thanks for informing us, see ya soon
>>
>>4621527
>>4621525
>>4621517
back, and locked in
>>
I think I'm....

Yeah.

I smiled, my heart thumping fast. Thinking about her smile.

I'm in love.

I carried with me through the next day, even out on the street. Should I tell her? It was a funny thought to have while ducking a junky's knife. I came forward with a hard snap to his chin. Maybe if I said it I'd just scare her. Maybe she didn't feel the same way. I caught a swinging chain, looped it around my firearm, slammed the chain wrapped arm into the face of a guy fumbling for a gun. Maybe she did feel the same way. I drove a hard left into the now chainless man's face. If she did feel the same way...would we go all the way?

"Thank you," the woman in the torn shirt said, crouched beside the over turned trash cans, blood leaking from her nose.

"No problem," I said, helping her up, "It's what I do."

Was I ready to go all the way? I sat atop a roof, crouched over the railing, cold wind whistling down from Lake Michigan. A hard throb told me someone was ready to go all the way. He'd been ready for years now, but thinking with him was a short road to disaster. I certainly thought about it enough, me and Kay. Me and Kay and other girls. Me and other girls. Other girls with other girls. Some were girls I knew. Uh. I was red under my mask just thinking about it.

How I was feeling was why music exists, poetry, stuff to give those big wordless feelings form. Or very basic but very primal feelings, best summed up in four letters and said hard.

"Don't try it," I said to the guy skulking up a side alley, gun drawn while advancing on a corner boy, standing oblivious under a street light.

"Aw shit," he lowered the pistol, tugged on his durag, "If I walk away you goin' pop my jaw off, Hotspur?"

"You going to be back tomorrow?" I said.

"Mos' like," he replied, "If not me the Haitian'll send some other to snatch this corner."

"Well then sorry man, but I got to give a warning."

He sighed, tucked away his gun and stuck out his chin.

"Do what you got to do then," he said.

I almost felt bad about it. I dropped him with a careful hook, he went down in a stack, then I picked him up so the corner boy, who just noticed what was going on, didn't take the chance to plug him. I left him on a rooftop, where people could see. I wish they all went that smooth.

Those were my days and nights, caught between school work and crime fighting, my thoughts on Kay growing more intense by the night. Before I knew it the weekend was here, her probation over, and the game.

It brought on as much nerves as crashing a Cartel party. At least with the Cartel I had a mask.

We got changed for the game, shooting jokes back and forth to dull the edge, but I was feeling hot, had to step out.

I wandered down the school halls, trying to steady my nerves, when I heard the squeak of footsteps on the linoleum.
>>
"You know despite everything I enjoyed hanging out again. Invisible creep and all."

It was Ivy's voice, coming around a corner, Ayesha beside her.

"Why did we stop hanging out?" Ivy asked.

"Well I did kind of pick Kay over you," Ayesha said.

"Yeah, but I made the decision pretty easy," Ivy said, "I was a real jerk last year. I've been a jerk for a while, maybe forever."

"That's not true," Ayesha said, "You're only a jerk some of the time."

"Do you think...we could be friends again?" Ivy's voice was oddly strangled, hot with emotion.

"You've always been my friend, Ivana," Ayesha said. Ivana?

"Man, don't call me that, you sound like my Mom."

"Have you heard from her?"

"No. No, not for a while. Do you think Kay and I could ever be friends again too?"

"I don't know."

The conversation died when they saw me.

"Hey Eric," Ayesha said, wearing a school sweater, carrying a little flag, "We came to cheer you on." She waved it around.

"I just didn't have anything better to do," Ivy said with a crooked smile. "Isn't your game starting in like five minutes?"

"Yeah," I said, "I'm just a little nervous is all."

"You'll do great," Ayesha said with a bright smile. I believed her.

I jogged back to join the rest of the team, my nerves settled.

We huddled around Mr Nfume. "I heard these guys have something special," he said, "So we've got to bring it, bring it hard, and not let up. You boys all know what to do, you've worked hard for this. I've seen it, from all of you." His eyes found mine at that, a respect in there that flushed me with pride. "Do great, because you have it in you to be great. But only if you work together. You're a team. Now I've got one question. What time is it?"

"Game time!" we roared back.

And when we jogged out of the change rooms it was to blasting music and a packed crowd roaring. I turned to watch the cheerleaders dance. Kay kicked her leg up over her head, flashing tight green shorts. She dropped her leg and smiled at me, bouncing on the spot, before breaking for Jessica, who vaulted up onto Kemal's broad shoulders.

"Let's hear it for the boys! Woo!" Jessica called, pom-pom waving overhead. Kemal cheered under her.

Mrs Valdez waved from beside Dad. Dad got up, clapping hard, calling my name. Ayesha and Ivy got seats with Zeke and Dane, Hunter behind them looking glum in his cast.

"First basket is for Hunter," Rufus said, commanding the attention of the team.

"Eric," Mr Nfume said, "You got five minutes, then you switch off with Lincoln."

"Yes coach," I said, jogging onto the court.

The other team was like most south side teams, black to a man, dressed in white and blue uniforms. A tall stick insect took center court across from Tim, ready to joust for the ball.

I took up on the left, Rufus on the right. The guy across from me kept low, locs hanging down his shoulders.

The ref blew his whistle, starting the clock.

>roll 3 x 1d100+5 dc 75
>>
Rolled 37 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

>>4621659
come on dice gods
>>
Come on come on come on
>>
Rolled 68 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

>>4621659
+5? Shit we should've practiced more
>>
>>4621666
Eric's come a long way from his -10 though
>>
>>4621665
dice+1d100+5 in the options field if you wanna roll
>>
Rolled 41 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Like this right
>>
>>4621666
so close...
>>
Just one more round of training for us not to be near shit at this basketball thing.
>>
>>4621666
just shy of a success

give me a sec
>>
>>4621666
damn it, nice try tho, seems like the dice hate us playing b-ball normally
>>
If it comes down to it I’d rather just go normal next round instead of using our powers, it’ll get suspicious and I’d rather just try to win with regular dice.
>>
Tim jumped for the ball, but he wasn't Hunter. The other guy batted it away to the guy in front of me. He winked as he drove forward. I moved to block him off, try to steal, but he had slick moves, cut around, ball weaving between his legs. but I stayed on him.

"Aight," he said, as I stepped out around him, staying in front.

I'm best on the offense but I can play defense. We danced back and forth, I tried keeping him contained while Rufus came up the flank, his own team mates positioning around.

"Shit, you got me boxed," he said with a grin, "'cept nah,"

He passed the ball between my legs making me feel like an idiot as he swerved around me, snatching it up to drive into the paint. Albert should have been there but he was off in dream land right until he saw the guy coming with his locs whipping behind. He launched up, past Albert's batting hands, scooped the ball through the hoop.

"Watch those gaps," he said, jogging past me up the court.

The game was back on, the ball in play, Tim passed to Rufus. I kept up with him across. A gap opened and Rufus passed to me. I bobbed up for a three pointer but the defense was too tight, so I dropped down, getting closer before passing low to Tim. Tim went for a shot but it hit the rim. I ran up, breaking through slapping hands and wild elbows, evening it out with a layup.

"Smooth catch," Tim said with a low five.

"I got you brother," I said.

A woo went up from the cheerleaders, Kay springing up high.

We were 2-2, but that changed thanks to the kid with the locs, the locs whipping wild around him. He knew how to step and we didn't have much of a counter.

He got a dunk on both Albert and Donny. Man I was starting to think I wasn't the worst player on the team any more.

"Eric, that's five," Mr Nfume said, calling me over.

It chafed. We weren't far behind.

>ask to stay on the court (and add a little power)
>ask to stay on the court (but play normal)
>swap out with Lincoln
>>
>>4621690
>ask to stay on the court (and add a little power)

Fake it till we make it!

We can probably lay off once we get +10 bonus
>>
>ask to stay on the court (and add a little power)

*Sigh* Alright we’ll do it one more time, but hopefully after the next time we practice we won’t have to use our powers, it’ll be pretty odd if it becomes a trend of us doing lackluster only to dunk on bitches like Jordan.
>>
>>4621690
>ask to stay on the court (but play normal)
>>
>>4621690
>ask to stay on the court (but play normal)
how could it possibly be worth it to use powers here
>>
It’s been almost an hour, hey Bullpen you can change my vote to playing normal.
>>
>>4621722
ok
>>
>>4621720
>>4621710
>>4621722
locking that in
>>
"Keep me in," I said.

Mr Nfume frowned.

"Come on coach, I'm just getting my groove on," I said, "Who else has made a basket?"

"Don't run out the tank too quick, Eric," he said, "The game's just started."

"Bring it hard, bring it early, don't let up," I said.

He sighed. "Fine," then he waved off Albert, sending Lincoln in.

I jogged back buzzing. Maybe it had just been a layup but it had been all me, and that meant something. So far I was the only guy on the scoreboard too. Albert looped off, Lincoln taking his place. Shore up the defense. The kid with the locs was slick, he'd be hard to stop. We were feeling the lack of Hunter here.

Rufus passed to Tim, who shot to me. I drove into the paint where the fighting was thickest, Rufus and Tim forming a triangle ahead and behind.

I faked a shot then passed under to Tim, who lined it up for a three pointer. He shot, but an opponent popped up, swooping it down, and they were back on the offense. Tim snarled, the three of us backing up.

It was tempting to use a little power but I held it back. It felt good to play with pure skill and training, even if it meant dragging behind the player with the locs.

>roll 3 x 1d100+5 dc 75
>>
Rolled 47 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Come on Baby
>>
>>4621734
rollin
>>
Rolled 45 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

>>4621739
and forgot the roll like an idiot
>>
Rolled 98 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

>>4621734
ugh I don't like to roll because my rolls are often bad

we are about to let coach and the team down so hard
>>
>>4621742
boo-ya!
>>
>>4621743
oh wow pleasant surprise
>>
>>4621742
Don’t you ever doubt yourself again you beautiful human being I love you.
>>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWBXBo7ZH-E&ab_channel=EverettGilbert

its not a crit success but its close
>>
>>4621742
and like that, we gonna dunk on these fools
>>
Lincoln was better on the defense than Albert. Locs went for a throw but Linc got up, knocking him down as he did.

No foul was called when Linc had the ball scooped up. I was open behind the kid on his ass. Lincoln shot me the ball. I turned, driving, lunging down the court, feeling my Hotspur moves without my power. An opponent swerved up in front of me, I drove the ball between his legs and stepped around.

"Mind the gaps," I spat back, when I had two in front. Rufus came up as I got crowded out. I passed out to him, he got in, shot, scored.

We jogged back, reset.

But something was going on now, we were clicking, we were fire. They came up hard, we came back harder, not shy about elbows. Cheerleaders 'wooing' us on, but my focus was on the game. Rufus stole, passed to Tim. We drove down the court together. He took it to the three point line but instead of risking a shot, faked out then passed to me.

I was hard in the paint, all of the defense crowding around me.

I ducked under a tall kid's swing, slipped by the next, faked right then went left. Balled like I didn't think I could.

Then I had it clear. All those burpees, all those bear crawls, squats, work outs, paid off with a natural jump, no power needed.

I grabbed the rim as the ball dropped down, swinging free from the rim on a hard dunk, breathing hard, crowd roaring around me.

"That's my boy!" I heard Dad through the roar, "That's my son!"

God. I dropped down getting a back slap from Rufus.

"That's how we do," he said, "Rock that shit boy!"

I grinned, running back with him.

Then the opposite team converged in a huddle.

I mopped up, Howie handing me a towel.

"That's b-ball," Howie said with a respectful nod.

"Hell yeah, boss," I said, bumping knuckles as he handed a water bottle.

I glanced at the cheerleaders. Kay had eyes on me, her smile making my heart throb. Goddamn. I swished then spat the water.

"Get back on the court Eric," Mr Nfume said with a swipe at the back of my head.

We set up ready to go, feeling confident. The ball went up. Tim won it, knocked it toward me. I moved.

Then a boom shook the court under me, I staggered.

The kid with the 'locs was in front of me, ball in his hands, something smoking, a vapor rising from his shoulders.

"Yo, good game," he said, "But now Imma close it up."

Then another boom and he disappeared in a suck of air.

A third boom and he was over the rim of our basket, ball coming down hard. I stood stunned. Super speed? No, teleportation.

The crowd was silent for a shocked second as the scoreboard brought up the score.

"That can't be fucking legal!" Rufus yelled with clear exasperation.

"Time!" Mr Nfume called.

"A para-freak, they got a para-freak on their team," Tim said, staring.

"Name's Thunderchild," locs said, jogging past us, "And you been thunderstruck. Peace!"
>>
>>4621746
Hell yeah
>>
"Son of a bitch!" Tim spat.

The coaches conferred with the ref and when they broke Mr Nfume didn't look happy.

"There's no rule against it, yet," he said to us, "Guess you guys just have to do your best."

"Come on that's bullshit," Rufus said.

"Fucking freak," Tim said, glaring down the way.

Thunderchild just smiled, throwing the peace sign at us. So that's the 'secret weapon' we'd heard about.

Damn.

>we've got a para-freak too, put some power in this last pass
>if they wanted to cheat, let them. win or lose but do it with pure skill
>>
>if they wanted to cheat, let them. win or lose but do it with pure skill

I don’t wanna have to use our powers here, and the spiteful part of me wants to beat this fuck with nothing but skill. Bullpen can you tell us the DC with him using his powers now?
>>
>>4621771
ok but only because this is some what trivial

its gone up to 90
>>
>>4621767
>if they wanted to cheat, let them. win or lose but do it with pure skill
I mean fuck the guy, but he's not wrong, and it'll make the L and even bigger burn
>>
>>4621767
>if they wanted to cheat, let them. win or lose but do it with pure skill
Kind of scared of drawing attention to ourselves, we got feds on our ass after all. It's just a game and we impressed.
>>
>>4621767
>No power use
We're not about to out ourselves over a game when every criminal in the city wants our head. And as shitty as what this guy is doing is, we should warn him that there's a government agency looking for paras and supposedly engaging in human experimentation so he might want to stay more on the down low.
>>
>>4621790
>>4621782
>>4621777
>>4621771
locked in
>>
"Whatever happens I'm going to lodge a formal complaint," Mr Nfume said, "You boys just do your best."

As unfair as it was this wasn't worth going full Hotspur over. Still it wasn't fun. We stalked out onto the court, knowing the odds weren't in our favor.

Win or lose it would be as a team, pure skill.

I caught Rufus' eye. He nodded, knowing what I was feeling. The team was united at least.

Thunderchild stood waiting on their side of the court, smiling. Maybe too cocky, let's see if we could spoil his fun.

The refs whistle blew, the home crowd cheered us on, spurring us forward.

Thunderchild stepped, and the thunder clap boomed as he disappeared.

>roll 3 x 1d100 dc 90
>>
Rolled 68 (1d100)

>>4621813
You mean bo3? or 3d100?
>>
Rolled 59 (1d100)

>>4621813
time for round 2
>>
>>4621817
its best of 3
>>
Rolled 8 (1d100)

>>4621813
Dice gods, give me strength...
>>
that's a fail
>>
Man, you guys can't roll for shit when it comes to the MC's normal life.
>>
Rolled 63 + 5 (1d100 + 5)

Don’t count them cause no modifier QM? :v
>>
He caught the ball mid pass.

If we were going to pass we'd have to hand it off.

Then in the next thunderclap he had another dunk on us.

There was no other word for what we felt other than torture. There was no playing we had could make up for something like that. When I did get the ball he burst in front of me, nearly knocking me off my feet. I cut around him though, bumping into Rufus, passing the ball off. It was enough to slip him up, me going one way, Rufus the other.

But it reminded us he had a whole other team backing his powers, and they weren't chumps. Rufus got crowded out, looked for a pass, but had to risk a blind throw. It went into Thunderchild's hands.

"Crowd the net!" I yelled, thinking he'd go for a dunk. Lincoln and Tim went there but he popped up to the side, then burst away to pop up the other, a razzle dazzle move might give someone whip lash trying to keep track. In the end he got off the shot.

We were angry when time was called, angry and frustrated and kind of relieved.

"Para-freak asshole," Tim said, kicking the bench, "God damn I hate those freaks. Creeping on girls, now making us look stupid. Cheating."

"It's just a game," I tried to say but I wasn't feeling it.

I don't know how they could enjoy a victory like that, but the south side team was.

Howie glumly passed out water. "That wasn't b-ball," was all he had to say.

"You guys gave it an honest effort," Mr Nfume said, "And don't think it counts as a loss for the season. I'll protest this."

"Man, could we just get an honest win?" Rufus said, "Last game was a forfeit, if we win this on a disqualification too, coach, it just isn't right."

"You're a good team, you're working hard," Mr Nfume said, "And Eric, consider yourself a permanent starter. Those were slick moves out there."

"Thanks sir," I said.

It didn't cheer me up much.

What did though were the arms around my shoulder and the kiss on my cheek.

"You were hot out there," Kay said in my ear, "You ready for the after-party?"

"Pity party more like," I said.

"I'm a cheerleader, let me cheer you up," she said, "And my probation is over, sentence served. We can have fun."

"Where's the party at tonight?" Rufus said.
>>
"I got the hook up," Kemal said. And he'd be bringing the whole cheer squad with him. Now that did perk some of the guys up.

"You guys rocked tonight, its not your fault they had a para-freak," Kay said.

People were coming down from the stands, leaving mostly, but some came to commiserate with us. Including my friends, and my Dad.

"I'm proud of you, kid," he said, "That was a tough game."

I swallowed. "Thanks Dad."

"Oh hi!" Kay said, "So you're Eric's dad? I'm Kay, his girlfriend."

"Kay, yeah, I've heard a lot about you," Dad said, shaking her hand, "We should have you over sometime."

"Well I've been waiting," she said with a teasing look at me.

"Well I'll see you at home later, right? Don't stay out too late," he said to me, "It was nice to meet you, Kay."

"You too Mr Miller," she said.

"Is that your dad?" Ivy said, watching him go, "You did not mention he was hot."

What?

"What?" Ayesha said with a shocked laugh.

Ivy shrugged. "Hey, older guys get me tingly," she said, spider-walking her fingers up Ayesha's arm.

"Gross," Kay said.

"So there's a party," Dane said, "Are we going or what?"

After the beating we took I wasn't sure I was in the mood.

>blow off some steam
>better just to call it an early night
-
last post for tonight, I'll be back tomorrow
>>
>>4621834
>blow off some steam

thanks for running bullpen
>>
Our girlfriend is actually allowed to be out and we just got our asses handed to us, we’ve earned a party.
>>
>blow off some steam
>>
>>4621834
>blow off some steam
>>
>>4621834
>blow off some steam
We should warn that supe kid about showing off his powers like that
>>
>>4621834
>blow off some steam

Game may have been miserable, but moping alone in our room would be the real miserable.

Did we miss our chance to warn Thunderchild?
>>
>>4621834
>>4622018
For the warning, I was thinking we could just mention that some shady government types showed up after an incident with a invisible para at our school and the details around that, since it's common knowledge that it happened to us and doesn't link us to Hotspur.
>>
>>4622019
Yeah same, we’d IC have that knowledge as Eric because Eugene told us and we have suspicions.
>>
>"Is that your dad?" Ivy said, watching him go, "You did not mention he was hot."
>Ms. Flores gave Dad her number
A-are we gonna get cucked by our dad?

>>4621834
>blow off some steam but don't drink too much
>>
>>4622352
I don't think so, but hey just means Eric inherited his dad's looks
>>
>>4622352
>>4622018
>>4621930
>>4621903
>>4621840
>>4621837
locking all that in
>>
>>4622352
I actually don't wanna drink at all this time, we're a magnet for dangerous shit and we need to be combat ready at all times
>>
>>4622395
How about we just drink less? We should have a better idea of our limits.
>>
>>4622409
considering we're what, 15, maybe just one drink and that's it if we do vote for it. Shows we're okay with having fun without getting too drunk or anything to hinder us. That is of course we don't be a good lil boy scout and not drink
>>
"You know what? Yeah, let's cut loose," I said.

"That's the spirit!" Kemal said, "A toast to a glorious defeat!"

"God you're such a nerd," Jessica replied, but with begrudging affection.

Before we left though there was something I wanted to do.

I had to run to catch up before they left, the south side team packing into a school bus. Spotting Thunderchild was easy enough, his locs, but also the way his team congregated around him. He was their champion, their secret weapon, though not so secret now. A key to victory they admired. But when he saw me running up he broke from his friends, coming over.

"You sore about the loss?" he said, "Sorry man, coach ordered me to close it out. You put up a good fight though, you can ball, you got real skill."

"Nah," I said, "I just train hard, skill's got nothing to do with it."

Thunderchild grinned. "Man, that's all skill really is."

"Whatever dude, I didn't want to talk to you about that," I said, yeah I was still a bit sore, "You've heard about the DPA?"

"A couple of things, why?" he said.

"Only they arrested a kid from this school last week. I've heard they're going around arresting paras, doing experiments and stuff on them. It might be a good idea to keep your head down is all."

"Oh yeah, wasn't that guy a criminal though?" he said, "They got no reason to arrest me, I've done nothing wrong."

"Yeah, but you know the cops don't need a reason to arrest someone," I said.

"Well thanks for the heads up either way," he said, "But if they try they'll find I'm hard to keep a hold on."

"Maybe," I said, then I had another burning question to ask, "What's your name, I mean your real name?"

"My name's Thunderchild," he said.

"There's no way you were born with that name," I said.

"Well yeah, my birthname was Shahbaz," he said, "But whatever changed me in the Explosion, whatever gave me my powers, it made me into something new. Something not all human. So my old name didn't fit anymore. Now I'm Thunderchild."

I nodded, it made sense. Then from somewhere in the dark night a harsh shout of 'go home para-freak!' and half a milkshake hit Thunderchild, pink milk splashing over his chest and face. I winced.

He dabbed at the milk dripping from his cheek, sighing. "Motherfucker."

I pulled a towel out of my bag, passing it to him. He cleaned himself off. "Keep it," I said when he tried to pass it back.

"It's fun you know, I get all new slurs," he said, "Used to be they just called me a nigger after beating a bunch of white boys." Its the tired way he said it, you'd think he was 35 instead of a teenager. He didn't even get mad.

"My name's Eric," I said.

"Yeah, cool," he said, "Well I hope we get to play again sometime Eric. Keep training, you almost had me."
>>
He climbed on the bus with the rest of his team. I'd given my warning, I don't know how seriously he'd taken it, but when I walked away it was unhappy. How long had we existed, what Penderose called the 'paranormally afflicted' and everyone else called para-freaks? A handful of months? And already we had our own slur, the ugly face of human bigotry rearing up against us when most of us had done nothing but play a game of basketball.

I guess for guys like Thunderchild bigotry was nothing new.

I met up with my friends by Kemal's car. "All good homie?" he asked.

"Good enough," I said, climbing into the backseat with Kay, keeping my feelings to myself.

Kay pushed up close to me in the backseat, playing with my hair. It was hard to be all depressed about the state of the world with her body pressed so close to mine, the smell of her and the heat of her breath on my cheek. It was a pleasant car ride over to Kemal's, where we were joined by the rest.

When we got in the lights were off, Kemal went around setting everything up, leaving us to sit on the couch. Me, my friends, waiting for someone to bring the beer.

Conversation turned to the game, and talking about the game turned to talking about Thunderchild, which turned to talking about para-freaks.

"You know, the DPA has a point," Rufus said, "I saw them on the news talking about how parafreaks need to be registered, so we know who they are and what they can do. It just makes sense."

"Oh please," Ayesha said, "You of all people Rufus. You should know better."

"Why, because I'm black?" he said, "Come on Yesha, this isn't a race thing. They aren't even in the same ballpark. A brother is just a brother, we can't blow up a city block with a click of our fingers. No one's got a good reason to be scared of a black man, but a pararfreak? He could turn you inside out without even meaning to."

"He has a point," Dane said, "We register guns in Chicago, don't we? In someways a para-freak is just a walking, talking gun."

"A talking gun? They're human beings," Ayesha said, looking aghast at the others.

"I mean yeah," Kay said, "But Rufus isn't wrong. I know we'd have all been a lot safer with the Creep behind bars before he could do anything."

"So they should all be locked up because of one guy?" Ayesha said, "Listen to yourselves."

"I'm kind of with Ayesha on this one," Zeke said, "It's about civil rights, right? Being able to shoot a laser beam out of your head doesn't stop you from having civil rights. Still, you know, they can be scary. They definitely shouldn't be allowed to play in the same team as us ordinary people. That's an unfair advantage."

"What do you think, Eric?" Ayesha asked, "Do you think they should all be locked up with their names on a register or be treated like, you know, human beings?"

"That's a strawman," Rufus said.

The others looked, waiting for my answer.

>I mean they are dangerous...
>I'm with you Ayesha
>I don't think its as simple as one or the other
>>
>>4622457
>I don't think its as simple as one or the other
>>
>I don't think its as simple as one or the other, sure they can be dangerous but anyone walking on the street could have a gun and shoot up a place or a bomb under their jacket but wouldn’t assuming they’re all bad just push them to use their powers to protect themselves first? I think it should be case by case honestly, not all people are good but not all of us are bad either, why can’t it be the same with Parahumans?
>>
>>4622464
changing my vote to this
>>
>>4622457
>I don't think its as simple as one or the other
I'm with Zeke on this one. You can't take away people's liberties because you're afraid of them, that's totalitarian. But also that fucking game.
>>
>>4622457
I think the more they're treated like something inhuman the more inhuman they'll become. Creating division eventually leads to a conflict that would not go well for unpowered humans. It's best if we all stay on the same team.
>>
locking all that in

give me a minute
>>
"I don't know," I said, "I don't think its simple. Sure they can be dangerous, but so can anybody. They could be walking through the street with a gun or a bomb under their jacket, could just shoot up a place. I mean, don't you think just assuming they're all bad will just push them to use their powers to protect themselves?"

"But that's my point," Rufus said, "Someone's got a gun, they had to go get it. They had to take steps, and if they're bad guys there's stuff to stop them from getting their hands on those guns, in Chicago at least. But a para-freak always got his gun strapped to his soul. How do you deal with that?"

"I just think it should be a case by case basis," I said, "And you can't treat people like monsters or that's what you'll get, monsters. We're all people, we should all be on the same team. Anything else is just setting us all up for an ugly confrontation nobody wants."

"I'm just saying, if you strip people of their civil liberties because you're afraid of them, that's totalitarianism" I said, "Or facism or whatever. It's a bad vibe to be putting out. But yeah, fuck that game."

People were nodding along but Rufus didn't seem convinced.

"I'm not saying lock them up forever," Rufus said, "But if we had a registry with their names and what they can do, all of it open to the public, I'm just saying I'd sleep better at night."

"So like sex offenders," Ayesha said, "Get a grip."

"You're just all salty because you're in love with a para-freak," Rufus said, "But it wasn't Hotspur saved you from the Creep when it counted, nah, it was my man Eric over here."

"Oh don't pull that," Ayesha bristled, "You sound like an old white redneck."

Now Rufus bristled, getting half up.

"Children please, this is a party," a voice from the door came in, six pack swinging from her hand. Ivy smiled, tearing a beer can off and chucking it underarm to Rufus. "Have a drink, take it easy."

Rufus cracked open the can. Music came on, some chill beats as more people started to gather. It wasn't a victory party but it was pretty good. Someone brought a stack of pizzas, a party staple. I downed a slice, sticking to pop. Kay lay with her feet over my lap, sipping a drink. Cheerleading had taken a physical effort too.

"Hey," she said, eyes all smokey, "You want to go somewhere private?"

My heart beat picked up. "Sure."
>>
No one noticed when we slipped away, the party was really starting to jump. Everyone had their own conversations, their own business. Kay lead me upstairs by the hand, up into a dark bedroom. Nasim's again, I think. She closed the door behind her then lay back against it. I saw her bite her lip in the dark.

I buzzed all over, a wonderful fear starting to course through me.

"Last time, you know, I said I wasn't ready," she said, "But um...I think I am." she swallowed. I could see the effort in her breathing. "Ready, I mean."

Ready? Uh, ready for...?

She pulled off her cheerleader top. Dropped it to the floor. She unzipped her skirt, and when it fell stepped out of it.

Oh.

Ready.

"If you are," she said, stepping close to me in the dark, touching my chest, "Um, but if you aren't I...I get it."

"It's just seeing you, tonight, after these weeks, seeing you play," she said, her hand sliding down my chest, down and further down, "Uh, I knew."

I looked down at her, the girl I loved, my whole body pulsing, running hot and cold.

"Kay," I said.

She perked her head up, nervous smile growing.

"I..."

>I love you
>I'm Hotspur
>I'm not ready
>>
>>4622593
>I love you
then if she feels the same way tell her about being hotspur
>>
>>4622593
>I'm Hotspur
We can't go further with her with this secret
>>
>>4622593
>I'm Hotspur
>>
>>4622595
actually Bullpen, can you change my vote to Hotspur, was thinking on it and yeah might be too soon for the L word
>>
Gdi I’m in class rn but let me do something

>Kay I love you, and I want this so much but I want it to be special and not in someone else’s room at a party.

I know it’s sappy af but honestly we shouldn’t be fucking in other peoples beds, bang her in our own bed like a man no matter how shit it looks, as for the Hotspur reveal I’d rather wait till she’s sober and we’ve been doing really good at not telling people until they actually find out. Not saying no to either of these I just don’t think it’s the right time or place. Bullpen if that’s a wins can we go down on her instead? :v
>>
>>4622631
Honestly wouldn't mind if this wins, I just wanna tell her about hotspur cause I remember how Kay said she hated secrets. And telling Kay about being hotspur puts a lot of trust and respect.
>>
>>4622631
All she did was sip a drink, she's not drunk. Taking her first time while lying to her is fucked up and will make things way worse if she finds out after. Pretty huge betrayal of her trust.
>>
>>4622643
Yeah really didn’t think that through, ayo Pierre change my vote to >>4622595
>>
>>4622624

sure thing but I'd like to point out

she's a teenager ready to give Eric her virginity

if you think that's too soon for the 'l' word, I dunno
>>
Can you keep mine as their original post? Cause if we’re telling her our biggest secret then we can definitely tell the girl we’re in love with we’re in love with her.
>>
>>4622648
fair enough, might as well keep my vote original vote then
>>
Honestly at this point can’t we just tell her both, we seem to be going in the direction that we obviously trust her and besides adding that we love her votes are the same.
>>
>>4622655
I wouldn't be against it myself
>>
locking in both telling her you love her and revealing your secret identity
>>
Many thanks QM
>>
"Im in love you," I said.

Her eyes widened, her cheeks went red.

She pushed her head against my chest. "Oh God," she said, "Oh God, I...I love you too," she said, pushing her fingers up under my shirt, pulling it off me.

"I love you Kaylee," I said, turning her face up, kissing her, our lips parting, her breath hot, holding her close. Feeling the buckle of her bra. Knowing we were close to crossing something, crossing into a new place together as my jeans slid down, as our hands crossed over each other's bodies.

"But," I said, her hands paused on my chest. "You need to know something, before we do anything else."

My hands shook, I gripped them tight.

"What is it?" she said, smiling, blushing. God, the freckles on her cheeks. I could waste a day just counting them all over and over. "Tell me," she cupped my cheek, smile so warm and full of trust.

"I," I swallowed, somehow this was harder, "Kay...I'm...Hotspur."

Her brow crinkled above her nose, confused.

Then she pulled away like I'd burned her, backed to the door. "No," so small, shocked.

The way she said 'no'. The confusion, drawing to a stunned realization. She shook her head.

"I'm Hotspur," I said, throat tight.

"You, no, you can't be," she said, shaking her head, "I'd know. I'd..."

"It's true," I said.

"So you've...that would mean you've lied, been lying," she said, "All this time. Oh God we've talked about you, we've...you were right there."

"I'm sorry," I said, chest tight, struggling to breathe seeing the hurt on her face, the tears forming in her eyes, "Kay, I'm not lying anymore. You deserve to know, I..."

I reached for her shoulder but she flinched away. A look of horror crossed her face, saying one word in her eyes, 'para-freak'. She stared at her own shoulder in shock, then up at me. A white hot nail went through my heart.

"I..." she said, "I-I'm sorry Eric."

With a choke in her throat she spun around, out the door, racing half naked down the stairs.

"No," I said, stumbling after her, "No, wait! Kay, Kaylee, Kay! Wait. Wait! Please!" Words sharp and cracking with pain.

A cheer went up from the party at the sight of a half-naked girl running through, her sobbing swallowed by the music, blind to the pale distress on her face. I stumbled down the steps, struggling to breathe. She fled out the front door into the chill night.

>chase after her
>let her go
>>
>>4622707
>chase after her
>>
Is it sad that this was kinda within expectations a little? Still think this was better to do now.
>>
>>4622715
>Also pick up Kay's clothes and bring them to her at the very least
>>
>>4622718
Add this please.
>>
>>4622707
>chase after her
>>
>>4622717
was thinking the same, was expecting this or having a long talk, at the very least we can tell Kay she's the first person we told our identity too. Everyone else found out on their own after all.
>>
>>4622723
Yeah I’ll definitely take this over telling her we love her, having sex and then dropping this bomb, we just need to make sure she knows she has our trust.
>>
>>4622707
>chase after her
>>
>>4622707
Oh damn she took that poorly. >Chase after her
>>
>>4622718
>>4622715
>>4622722
>>4622729
>>4622751
locked in
>>
I went back to grab her clothes, bundling them up before racing out after her, feet flapping bare on the cold drive. Someone cheered watching me race after her in only my underwear. I barely noticed, my focus was on Kay, my heart a distressed beat in my chest.

I don't know what I'd expected, but not this. She was a pale slip under the street lights, the shadows of Fall trees falling over her, their skeleton shadows crossing her body, dark claws grasping at her. She was far ahead and growing farther. The sound of the houseparty dropped away behind me. I drew on the power inside me, the hot angry fire, quickening my feet, dulling the chill night.

When I caught her she was breathing hard, tears spilling from her eyes, breath a misty stream from her lips. The cold clung to her but I pulled her into my warmth, her back against my chest, my head in her hair. She kicked in my grip before giving up, grabbing my arms to hang, sniffing.

"I'm sorry," I said. We stood half naked in a pool of light. "I should have told you sooner, I wanted to."

"Why didn't you?" her voice was harsh with emotion.

"Because," because I was scared of how you'd react, because I was scared of putting you in danger, because I was scared I couldn't trust you. I didn't say any of that, it was all true in some form or another. "Because I didn't know I loved you."

"You're the first person I've told, Kaylee," I said.

I put her down. "Do you...still love me now?" I asked, scared of what she'd say, "Now that you know?"

She trembled, was it the cold or emotion? Did it have to be one or the other?

"Do you know what my mom does when my dad is late coming home?" she said, "When he's an hour late with no word from anyone?"

"No," I said.

"She cries," she said, "Not loud, not obvious, you might not even notice, but she cries. Because she doesn't know, she doesn't know if he's hurt, or dead, or just stuck in traffic."

"I..."

She turned to look up at me, face all red and stained with tears. "Of course I still love you," she said, "I love you Eric, but now I'm scared. I'm scared of you, I'm scared for you, I'm just scared!"

"Don't be scared," I said, gently as I could, taking her by the arm, by the waist, pulling her to me.

"I don't know what you are," she said.

"Neither do I," I said with a forced smile, "I know I love you though."

She pulled into my hug with one of her own, shaking. Then trembling, kissing.

"It's cold," she said, "But you're warm."

"My power," I said, building the fire inside me, holding her closer. She gasped. "Is it really that scary?" I said. We held each other there, in the cold silence, warm in each other's arms, bare figures in the dark.

"Should we head back to the party?" I said.

"Should we?" she said, "Could you take me...some place else? Show me I shouldn't be scared."

They might notice we were gone, but I saw a light of hope through her fear

>take her away
>head back to the party
>>
>>4622890
>take her away
>>
>>4622890
>take her away
We should probably go back and get our clothes first though, unless we grabbed them with Kay's
>>
>take her away

You want us to give choices or you have a placed planned out already?
>>
>>4622923
if you want to write something in feel free
>>
>>4622890
>Take her away

Wonder if we can kick dad out for the night
>>
My first choice would be our lair or just take her on a jump around the city and find a tall building to watch the city from. There aren’t too many places we have that’ll also allow us to show her not to be scared, are there any murals of us around town yet or places with our picture in costume posted up?
>>
>>4622940
iirc there was some kids painting outside Luis', plus we could finally take her back to Eric's place, she has been wanting to come over.
>>
>>4622963
Then yeah the shop and a jump around the city followed by bringing her to see our house.
>>
>>4622988
Maybe not jump around, at least, not yet. But maybe we could do that in a more remote area, where people with smart phones can't record, also bull you might wanna call the vote now
>>
locking that in
>>
>>4623040
Yeah agreed, I just assumed that it was nighttime and they not too many people would be outside, if we can do it without attracting attention then that’s best, it’s like almost midnight or something right cause we came straight from the game.
>>
"First you might want to put some clothes on," I said, offering the clothes I'd brought over. Her half-naked state now semed obvious, and embarassing. She pulled up her skirt, on her top. I dressed.

Then I scoopd her up, off her feet.

"Hold on tight," I said.

"Ok," her voice was soft, her arms around my neck.

I stoked the power inside me until it roared. Then I started to run, then, I leapt.

Kay squeaked in fright, burying her face against my neck as the night whistled around us, cold wind chopping into me. I brought us down on a suburban roof, slates clattering under my feet, stumbling forward with Kay's weight before hiking her back up.

It was dark, it was safer to use my powers now, but jumping through the sky without my mask left me feeling exposed. It was worth it though, while holding Kay tight against me. I ran to the edge of the roof and launched off, hair whipping from my face.

I knew a place to take her.

We came down on the west side near my neighborhood. Suburban homes gave over to flat houses, two or three floors split between households, nice cars giving over to run down old models. A Saturday night saw the distant bark of a gun shot, sirens whining down a street, the clatter and crash of the poor going about their night lives. I dropped on the peak of a house, a group of black guys chatting beneath us as they crossed through an alley, hopping a chain link fence, a speaker on a belt pumping music.

Kay held me tight but she didn't need to worry, these guys were cool, just kicking around looking for something to do. Either way they didn't see us.

I took a step then the next lunge took us onto the flat roof of Luis' corner store. I lowered her down, her barefeet on the cold ground. Broken glass gleamed in the street light.

"Step careful," I cautioned, as I slid down the back onto a dumpster. I reached down, helping her off. She fell into my arms. I caught her weight and spun her in a hug.

We stepped out of the alley hand in hand.

Smokey was out the front. "Hey Rico, how you doin'?" he said, chupa-chup popped in his mouth. He sucked it on looking down at Kay. "How you doin' shorty," he said, suggestive like.

"She's fifteen, Smoke," I said. He cringed.

"And his girlfriend," Kay added, hugging tighter to my arm, staring up at him. I could feel her tremble with nerves.

"Don't worry," I said, leading her in.

The chime went off, Luis looked up from his tablet.

"Hey kid, you on a date?" he said.

"Hey Luis, something like that," I said, "This is Kay, my girlfriend."

"Well lady, you got a good guy there," Luis said, "You won't find a better kid in the city or the state, maybe even the country." He winked at me. Laying it on thick Luis. "You kids want something? We got ice creams, take them on me."

A couple of magnums, high tier ice cream right there. And that wasn't all he slipped me. I blushed as I tucked the condom in my back pocket.
>>
"This kid hangs around here all the time," Luis was saying, "Done me some good too."

"Oh yeah? I'm not surprised," Kay said, "He can be a real hero type."

"Little lady isn't wrong," Luis said with a sly wink.

"It's cool Luis, she knows," I said.

"About the...?" he said. I nodded. "Ey, so then I can say your boy here rescued me from some Outfit thugs. Crashed straight through the window and laid them out. He's always doing shit like that. Just the other night he pulled some rapists off a girl, man. Who knows what would happen if he wasn't around."

"Yeah?" Kay looked to me, sucking on the ice cream.

"Oh yeah, he's helping people every night," Luis said, "We all owe him. Shit, he done more in the last few months than the cops done all year."

It was hard not to feel good when I walked out with Kay. Some fresh paint was up on his wall, a few new tags, 'CAIRO', 'E-SUN', a crude hooded figure with goggles I took to be me, and 'DRUJ' next to it.

"So," Kay said, "I thought you said I was the only person you told."

"Uh," I replied, walking hand in hand, "Yeah, that's true though. Luis figured it out, I didn't tell him. And he's helped me out a lot too. You know, I can't do what I do alone."

"So he figured it out, but you told me," she said, "I guess that counts for something. And I'll admit, scary as it was, being carried through the air was pretty cool."

"You know I live near here," I said, the same anxious knot from the party building up inside me again, "Do you want to maybe see my place?"

"Maybe," she said, her cheeks glowing in the night.

I held her hand. She walked with me the way.

We got up the stairs to my place, heart beating fast, aware of the condom in my back pocket. Painfully aware.

We got to the front door. Music played through the doorway, rock music, galloping guitars and an explosion of drums. Someone was home.

"We are the Priests, of the Temples of Syrinx, Our great computers fill the hallowed halls. We are the Priests, of the Temples of Syrinx, All the gifts of life are held within our walls."

A high pitched voice sang.

The door creaked open to low lights, and a pair of figures writhing on the couch. Dad had his hands pushed under her shirt, pulling at her bra, Ms Flores gripped his hair, their kisses wet and gasping as they made out like teenagers.

Whatever nervousness I felt disappeared in a rush of red faced horror, the sight of Ms Flores panting under my dad, him huffing over her before burying his face in her neck.

Jesus Christ.

>back away slow
>cough loudly
>>
>back away slow

Don’t cockblock we wouldn’t want someone doing it to us, plus this is the closest thing to a healthy relationship he’s probably had since Mom died, let that man get some strange.
>>
>>4623089
>back away slow
well damn looks like dad's still got it
>>
>>4623089
>back away slow

Wow dad what timing
Wanted to kick him out so we could fuck but he started fucking preemptively so we'd kick ourselves out
He must be a para with precognitive abilities.
>>
On one hand this is the worst dad tf, on the other good for him Flores is a fuckin 10 and on the third hand does this mean we’re gonna have sex in a hotel or at our lair? Cause the latter ain’t got no bed.
>>
something's come up so I have to go, I'll be back tomorrow though and the vote will stay open until I do
>>
>>4623136
See ya tomorrow qm
>>
Great fun everyone, see ya tomorrow QM
>>
>>4623089
>back away slow
>>
>>4619780
We're named "hot"spur and our costume is blue?
>>
>>4623089
>back away slow
good on dad though, making use of kid out of the house time
>>
>>4623220
I wasn’t here for the vote I think, but I think the rationale was that it’d be a dark blue that blends in with the night? Since we’re basically gone full Urban Hero, I’m actually gonna go through Pinterest and see if I can find a good costume that fits us.
>>
>>4623238
I'm imaging spiderman noir but dark blue and with a hood. Just catching up and golly we sure do hang around of faggots don't we?
>>
>>4623245
God damn it is late *a lot of, *imagining
>>
Have we experimented with enhancing more than our speed or strength? Maybe we can enhance our hearing or eyesight.
>>
>>4623259
I was actually thinking of trying that for when we next are able to train, using our powers to enhance ourselves internally instead of the basic bitch strength and speed enhancing we’ve been doing. Even being able to enhance our senses would be phenomenal.
>>
>>4623280
Yeah, maybe we can do that shit in anime where you’re thinking so fast everything looks like it’s in slow motion.
>>
>>4623089
>back away slow
We either sneak up the fire escape into our room, with the full knowledge that dad and Ms. Flores are fuckin a room away, or we go somewhere else. Maybe we just be awkward and say "Dad's... with... Ms. Flores..." to Kay.
>>
Yeah I really don’t want our and Kay’s first time to be remembered as the time dad also got laid with the hottest teacher at school literally ten feet away from the bedroom, so if she’s still down then we either hit a hotel or go to the lair, and with noble this is turning out I wanna clean that bitch if we can as a little side event/action
>>
>>4623089
>>back away slow
CHAD DAD CHAD DAD
>>
We used our powers outside without our costume. I'm so paranoid, we totally got our secret spilled now.

I'm kinda mixed about Kay though, she's nice enough but I just can't shake the feeling she's not a good mix for Eric. Like trusting her with this is going to backfire on us bad at somepoint. I hope I'm just being paranoid though.
>>
>>4623318
God fucking damn it, why did we tell her? Too many people knowing our secret is a bad fucking idea, look at Spider-Man, bad shit happens when you start mixing the lives of you and your alter ego.
>>
>>4623327
You act like we just had a press conference revealing our face, people already know and we trust her , you’re worrying too much especially since only three people know our secret and none of them have any reason to say shit, you’re underestimating how trustworthy the people close to us are.
>>
>>4623514
You can never be too careful man.
>>
>>4623548
Absolutely agree, but cutting off everyone that could support us or we can rely on won’t do well with dealing with shit, I’m not saying we should tell all our friends cause that’s fuckin dumb but we should at least be able to trust Kay, even if only so we have someone we know we trust enough to tell personally. It could go bad but personally I think this will be a Net Positive
>>
>>4623289
shit, imagine if we could go bullet time using that, or hell pull a neo when we get shot at
>>
>>4623571
I agree with this anon myself, and while yes, I agree we shouldn't pull a 'hey you wanna know my secret identity' it's nice to be able to lean on people. Honestly only thing I'm more concerned about is when Kay finds out Ivy discovered who we are, we probably should have mentioned that last night but kinda spaced it
>>
>>4623571
Okay, I get Kay, she’s our girl and we’d have to fess up to her one point or another. But I swear to god dude if we tell that dyke bitch or anyone else my shit will be flipped.
>>
>>4623592
I mean that's fair, but out of curiosity who's the "dyke bitch", cause if you mean Ivy she found out a while ago
>>
>>4623592
Oh fuck no, we need a lot more time and trust before we’re even close to telling her our name let alone our face, she can get away with it cause she’s been mostly lowkey. We’re fighting multiple criminal Orgs, an Alphabet Agency and we’re working with a city official for extra curricular activities. I completely stand by what she warned us about not telling people we work with at least, and Kay will be the ONLY exception I make unless for forced for a WHILE.

As for Ivy finding out, she knows she’s the first person we told, Ivy might know but we didn’t trust her with that information so that should matter.
>>
>>4623618
oh Misfit, okay yeah I'm just dumb :p
>>
>>4623618
I'm actually kinda curious to see what happens when Kay finds out that Ivy knows, then possibly finding out about Ivy's sister. Still breaks my heart a little
>>
>>4623636
I honestly don’t know if it’s possible with further applications of our powers but I think it’d be cool if we could split off some of our Fire and imbue it onto others to improve their health eventually. Also as long as we keep making the effort to keep helping them get along and make sure she knows that she has our trust first and foremost we should be fine, also her little sister having cancer as bad as it is will most likely get her some sympathy.
>>
>>4623651
Would be pretty neat, honestly was thinking about it and I gotta theory that the people with powers might have gotten their type depending on what they were doing
>>
I've been fucked up today but I'll try to get out a couple of updates
>>
>>4623902
alright thanks bullpen
>>
I backed away.

"Damn...bra..." Dad muttered.

"It's...uh...it's in the f-front," Ms Flores groaned.

I had heard too much.

"Let's go," I said, taking Kay's hand.

"What's up?" Kay said.

"Nothing," I replied.

Maybe we could go up the fire escape, or I could show her my hideout or...

"Eric," she said, breaking my thoughts. I looked back at her. "Eric, maybe you should take me home."

My heart sank.

"I was ready," she said, "Before. I was ready for Eric, my cool basketball star boyfriend. I...I don't think I'm ready for Eric, the vigilante super hero. Not yet, at least."

"But," I started. But they were the same guy, I wanted to say, I'm the same me you always knew. But I knew that wasn't true. I'd changed in her eyes with the truth. I hadn't been who she thought I was, not fully.

Her fingers touched my lips, her smile sympathetic. "I'm sorry Eric, I just need time to process all this," she said, "Could you give me that, some time?"

A frustrated thing inside me snarled 'no', but my better nature won out.

"Yeah, of course," I said, heart dropping lower. Then an awful thought occurred to me. "By time do you mean, like, a break?"

"No," she said, then sighed, "I don't know. I still...like you Eric, I just need to adjust to this."

'Liked me', earlier she said she loved me.

"Can you take me home, please?" she said, looking down the cold west side street uncomfortably. This wasn't the kind of neighborhood she was used to, no doubt it was the source of many a horror story her dad had told her over the dinner table. Not that I can fault him. Get caught lackin' in Chicago and things can go bad quick.

I pulled her up into my arms. With her held tight I leapt up to the roof of the neighboring house, then from there, up into the cold night.

-
I set Kay down on her front lawn. She stroked my cheek but didn't kiss me, head down as she went to her front door. The pulse in my neck was almost choking. I stepped away, feeling the world's biggest idiot.

Was it a mistake to tell her?

No, she deserved to know. If we were going to go all the way I couldn't hide something like that from her. Secrets, the biggest secret in the world.

My phone buzzed, my Hotspur phone. I was tempted to ignore it.

Ms Grant - Development on the Outfit. We should meet. Tomorrow?

I sighed. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but a sense of duty had me send an ok.

I don't know what I wanted right now. To be some place else, maybe be someone else. Just the normal highschooler Kay had thought I was. Playing basketball, dating, worrying about grades. The scariest thing in my life worrying about college. Maybe bring Mom back to life while I was at it. I wish I could talk to someone about this, someone who understood. But who knew? Misfit maybe, but even then, was it the same? We lived very different lives.

"Woe is me," I said with no small amount of self-deprecation. The nightsky gleamed above me.

>head back to the party
>head home
>find a distraction, bust some heads
>>
>>4623940
>find a distraction, bust some heads

party would be pretty awkward, and home is kinda not available thanks dad
>>
>>4623940
>find a distraction, bust some heads
>>
>>4623940
>head back to the party
>>
>>4623952
Support
>>
>find a distraction, bust some heads

Yeah we need to clear our head, though I will say this went better than I thought it would so there is hope.
>>
>>4623940
>find a distraction, bust some heads
>>
>>4624025
>>4624014
>>4624011
>>4623978
>>4623952
locked in
>>
Everything was complicated. My situation, my emotions, the future.

But one thing was simple enough.

In the gray pre-dawn hours I spent my time over the rooftops of Chicago, stalking through what was left of the night for trouble. Costume on and senses keen, I dropped in on a hefty guy starting up a driveway with a shotgun in hand. He didn't look like he was going to deliver a care package. I left him with the shotgun smashed apart across the dome of his head. A few streets over from there I busted a couple of kids trying to break into a car, they got off with a fright, it was enough to send them running.

Gun shots popped off a couple of streets over and I went to check it out. A car sped away from a gast station, a black guy hanging out the side with a little submachine gun, spraying behind him to keep the road clear. I don't know if they'd killed anyone but the way he was popping those shots off someone was bound to eat a stray. I had to do something.

I dropped in from the growing dawn, slamming hard into the hood of the car, crumpling it up and fucking up the engine underneath. The car skidded out erratic before sliding up a curb.

Gun shots tore through the front screen but I was up over the roof. A chatter of bullets followed my arc, blowing open holes in the roof, but by the time I hit the trunk the gun was clattering empty.

He swore, pulling out the magazine, struggling to put the next one in, when I punched through the back screen to drag him out, over the dent in the trunk to throw him sprawling over the frost slick road. He got up but slipped, dollar bills fluttering out of his pockets. They hadn't even brought a bag for the robbery, but somehow he had an uzi looking thing. The world we live in.

Just before he could jam the fresh magazine I was on him, a hook to his ear knocking him down and knocking him out. Behind us the car started to smoke.

I pulled the driver out, laid him down next to the guy with the gun. He was gasping on a chest wound, biting a bullet from his own partner in the confusion.

"Easy, an ambulance will be on the way," I told him, but he gasped like a fish, eyes goggling in terror, sweating despite the cold gray morning. He wasn't going to make it. When I pulled away he grabbed my arm.

"Please," he rasped, chest rising and falling, each time more blood pouring out from the wound. His eyes were bright, mouth wide as he struggled to draw a breath, the air sucked out the hole in his lung. "Please," there was a desperate strength in his grip. I sat down next to him as police sirens wailed down the street, but a hand to his forehead.

Like it meant something, like I could do anything about it.

He took a sudden long gasp, shuddered, eyes widening in the last. His mouth hung open, last breath unreleased, gave a small tremble.
>>
I didn't know what to do so I tried to close his mouth, his eyes. My own hands were trembling.

Some distraction.

I left before the police arrived as dawn lit up the city, frost slick streets glowing in the melting light.

A hell of a way to end the night.

-

I woke up to the smell of a cooked breakfast. I'd crawled into my bed through the fire escape, too tired to think. The kind of tired I'd needed. My belly growled, stabbing me over and over.

I got out to the kitchen wondering what Dad was cooking, then stopped at a sight both amazing and terrifying.

It wasn't Dad at the stove with a skillet in hand. All she wore was his Pistons jersey, humming, dancing a little on the spot. The hem barely hid what looked like a very naked ass.

"Good morning," Ms Flores said in a sultry tone I'd never imagined, "I hustled up some-"

When she turned it was time for her own horror.

"Jesus!" she said, blushing hard, pulling down the hem of the jersey as far as she could, which threatened to expose something else. "Eric, when did...how did you get..."

"Uh," was all I could manage.

Dad stepped out of his room yawning. His yawn stopped, seeing me, seeing Ms Flores. The both of us now staring at him.

"Ok," he said, swallowing, "So."

-
Breakfast was, in a word, awkward.

"When you weren't home by ten I figured uh, you were staying the night somewhere else," Dad said. A model of responsibility, my dad. "Carmen and I, we bumped into each other at the game and decided to uh grab some dinner."

"You did very well Eric," Ms Flores, Carmen, said. She had her teacher voice back on and had dressed, more or less. She stabbed at her eggs but didn't eat, anxiously looking between us.

"So you guys are what, dating?" I said.

"We're..." Dad glanced at Carmen.

"Uh..." Carmen touched her hair.

"Not putting a label on it?" Dad offered.

Mom had only been dead six months. I couldn't pretend I wasn't angry on some level.

"It's important you know," Carmen said, "We were hoping to tell you with a bit more um, tact."

A nasty question popped into my head. Do you fuck all your students' dads or just the ones with dead wives? But I didn't say it.

"Kid, if you're not comfortable with this, say so," Dad said, "I won't promise we'll stop seeing each other, but we'll keep it out of the house."

A bitter taste filled my mouth.

>yeah, keep it out of the house
>you're a grown man, Dad, you can do what you want
>>
>>4624080
>you're a grown man, Dad, you can do what you want
Honestly this could help him with his alcoholism
>>
>>4624080
>you're a grown man, Dad, you can do what you want
>>
>>4624080
>you're a grown man, Dad, you can do what you want

6 months is pretty long? I understand if it was just 2-3 but 6 I think is more than reasonable.
>>
>>4624080
>you're a grown man, Dad, you can do what you want
chad dad
>>
>>4624185
>>4624112
>>4624101
>>4624085
locked in
>>
>>4624185
I don't know about chad, I mean his wife died just 6 months ago and he's already mashing pissers with chicks? It just doesn't seem right.
>>
>>4624252
People cope in different ways, if he decided he’s ready then he’s ready, it’s not like he’s expecting us to move on and get a new mom.
>>
I sighed, letting my bitterness slip away.

"You're a grown man, Dad," I said, "You can do what you want."

He snorted. "Kid, that isn't how being a dad works," he said, "but thanks."

"Well," Carmen slapped her lap, "I should be going. I have a cat to feed whose probably crying his head off. I'll see you tomorrow, Eric. And Joe, um, I'll see you too?"

"Yeah you will," he said with a smile, getting up to show her out.

When he came back he was smiling through a blush. I had to admit, I hadn't seen Dad this happy since, well, since before Mom got sick. Again quiet feelings of betrayal rose up inside me that I tried to clamp down. I hope he didn't think this was anything serious. Ms Flores was 27, Dad was 42. She was still in middle school while I was in diapers.

"So how was your night?" Dad asked, starting the dishes. I shrugged. I wasn't operating on much sleep, and I didn't want to go all in on everything that had happened.

"How did you know you were in love with Mom?" I said.

"Is this about Carmen?" he asked, maybe a little sharply.

I shook my head. "No, my girlfriend," I said, "I think I'm in-love with her and I was wondering, when did you know?"

Dad turned to the dishes. He was quiet for a while. "The first time it wasn't anything dramatic," he said, "We were just out getting ice cream. She was pointing out a constellation, you know how she did, always the astronomer. Just something about the light on her cheek made me realize I was caught."

"What do you mean the first time?" I said.

He chewed the thought before answering. "Love isn't just about warm feelings," he said, "It's got stages to it. And being in-love and loving someone isn't the same thing. When I stopped being in-love with your mom and realized I really, actually loved her. It was different again."

"Now the second time was dramatic," he said, "It was after her parents died, your grandparents. We'd already been together a couple of years, they were in a bad crash. She was a mess. Your mom could be difficult sometimes, and after that she was hard. She disappeared into her work, tried driving me away. But I couldn't let her. That was when her pain became my pain. And that's where real love is, in the pain. When you hold their pain in your own heart."

"That's where the depths are," he said, "Being in-love is something, but compared to that storm. It's the best and worst thing you'll ever experience, if you're lucky enough to experience it."

He kept his head down on the dishes, hot water running over his hands.
>>
"She'll always be there, Eric," he said, "Don't think I'll ever forget, or let her go. But I was alone for a long time, even before your mom died. Her cancer took her before it killed her. And she was the only one...the only person I'd ever..."

I looked away, my own guilt rising up as Dad's shoulders shook.

But the clock was running down to meet with Ms Grant.

"I have to go," I said, "I'm meeting some friends down the Loop but...thanks, for telling me about Mom."

He turned wet eyes to me, smiling. "Anytime kid," he said.

-

All the way over I was wonering when Kay would shoot me a text, give me permission to call her. It was hard not to check my phone even mid-leap. It had been radio silence since I'd taken her home. It wasn't the kind of thing I should be thinking about on the way to meet a DSA, but it just niggled at the back of my head. I'd had a few other messages wondering where I'd disappeared last night, but from Kay - nada.

I met Ms Grant on the roof of City Hall. She had a snarl on her face, glaring at her phone. Even her snarl was pretty. It was easy to see why people underestimated her, a face like hers was better suited to a magazine cover than dragging through the guts of organized crime.

"Yo," I said, dropping down in front of her, "You wanted to talk about the Outfit?"

"We've had a setback," she said, "Those charges I brought against those corrupt cops have been thrown out. 'Insufficient evidence', as if photographic proof isn't enough."

"How?" I said, a hot charge going off in my chest.

"All we had was a package being handed off, no evidence of any illegal transfer of goods, no evidence of bribery. People moving boxes into vans isn't evidence of wrong doing if we can't prove what was inside them. A cop keeping an eye out could just be a friendly hand in a rough part of town. Its nothing substantive."

"Bullshit," I said.

Ms Grant nodded.

"Do you have any news you'd like to share?" she asked, "How is the Cartel investigation going?"

>fill her in, maybe she could help
>maybe wait for more info before sharing
>>
>>4624270
>fill her in, maybe she could help
>>
>>4624270
>fill her in, maybe she could help

phew, Kay's dad keeps his job a little longer
maybe these close shaves will drive him back to the straight and narrow
>>
>>4624270
>fill her in, maybe she could help
>>
>>4624280
support
>>
>>4624280
one can only hope
>>
>>4624280
Hopefully, support
>>
>>4624274
>>4624280
>>4624286
>>4624288
>>4624304
>>4624307
locking all that in
>>
The best could be said about the news was Kay's dad wouldn't be seeing a prison cell too soon, and whatever I felt for Kay I wasn't jumping for joy over that fact. He belonged behind bars. As far as I'm concerned corrupt cops are worse than gangsters, at least gangsters didn't pretend to stand for the law.

"Her prefered hang out is 'Princesas', some high class brothel hidden in Sears Tower," I said, "They mostly take corporate clients. If you don't have at least a cool million in the bank, you won't even get a chance to enter. I flipped a couple of bikers, they'll be bringing me what info they can but I have to do something for them in return."

"You aren't a cop, Hotspur, I don't know if you should be handling CIs," Ms Grant said.

"Hey we all need to get our information from somewhere," I said, "More importantly I found out who put the Cartel up to hitting the government van. Ixion Energy. They have an interest in the stone we found there."

"Ixion? Who did you learn that from?" she asked.

"I had a meeting with the head of the Outfit," I said, "He wanted to talk. Said Ixion offered him the job first but he turned it down. Too much heat."

"But trying to execute me was nothing?" she replied with a snarl.

"About that," I said, "Turns out your kidnapping was an off the books job too. Someone trying to squeeze Rooster out, get him put away for good while dealing with you. John Giacomo."

"The Outfit's underboss, Rooster's right hand man," Ms Grant said, "And I suppose he's dead?"

"Very dead," I said, "They had Salamander practically burn his head off right in front of me."

"So you witnessed a murder," Ms Grant said, "Would you testify to that?"

"Ms Grant, do you think my testimony would hold water from behind this mask?" I said, pointing to myself.

She wasn't happy with that, but had to concede. "Good point."

"The fact is the Outfit is backing off you, with Rooster's personal assurance," I said.

"I'll send him a thank you card," she snapped, "You've been busy lately."

I shrugged. "Knocking around."

"The next step I suppose is finding out where exactly the brothel is in Sears Tower. Don't be fooled, its practically a vertical village, its the tallest building in Chicago with more than just offices inside. And I don't think you can skulk around in your costume without being spotted. The security there is top notch."

"Not so top if they have an illegal brothel running under their nose," I said.

"If you go you'll have to go undercover," she said, "Maybe as a businessman looking to have some fun while in town."

I was reminded Ms Grant didn't know I was only 15. The odds of me pretending to be an out of town businessman was about the same as pretending to be Steph Curry stopping over for Thanksgiving. I'd have to figure something out.
>>
"Ixion might be another lead to follow," she murmurred, "But who at Ixion would even handle something like that? I've known my share of corporate scumbags, they're worse than the gangs for bribing city officials, but they have a way of keeping their hands clean. All white collar trails."

"It's more than we had yesterday," I said, "Do you have anything else on the Outfit I could check out?"

"What did you promise the bikers in return?" she asked.

I shifted uncomfortable. "At the hijacking some of their guys were scooped up by the soldiers from the black helicopter," I said, "I told them I'd find out what happened to them."

"That's promising a lot," she said, "I'll look into it myself if you like, I don't appreciate government conspiracies in my backyard."

"Just find out something to point me in the right direction," I said, "Don't risk your neck."

"I'll do what I can," she said, "While you should-" her phone burst with music, someone calling. She picked up, brushing her hair back from her ear. As the conversation went on her expression grew tauter and tauter. She lowered her phone. "That was my contact from the Tribune," she said, "There's something you should know, some kind of monster is rampaging through Motor Row."

Monster?

"Police and firefighters have been dispatched but..."

"Not exactly their line of business," I said, "What kind of monster."

"Some kind of...slime? Like the Blob, or that's how Harriet described it," she said.

Ooze. Misfit had warned me about Ooze.

"I'm on the case," I said, "Wish me luck."

"You don't need luck," she said with a grin.

"True," I replied, then gave her a salute as I dropped back from the building.

My power surged through me as I turned, feet finding the concerete side. I ran downward then lunged off, rising high, heading toward Motor Row.
>>
Guess why its called Motor Row. Go on, guess. You only get one.

Used to be it was where all the garages were. If you needed your ride fixed up you could find some place on Motor Row to fit your need. Not so much anymore. It had also been the place to go to buy, showrooms for everything from Cadillacs to Ford Motors, back when they made shit in this country. Now half the store fronts were empty, or selling high end fashion. Of course there was still the occasional showroom, only for the most luxurious foreign imports.

But my focus wasn't on the empty window spaces so much as the rolling heap of dark goo growing outside a Burger King. It reached a gloopy grip out, shape forming from the shapeless mass, to slap down on the roof of a police cruiser. The cops scrambled to get out as it ate through the blazing lights of the siren, smoke rising as the metal and glass sizzled into melted slag.

People pointed, people screamed, what few of them did was run, instead backing up to a 'safe' distance to enjoy the horrifying spectacle. I swore behind my mask. Idiots.

I landed on the roof of an SUV in a crouch, glaring at the roiling mess that had once been a human being. If I had to say it looked like anything it reminded me of the pokemon Grimer, but even that wasn't right for the way it continually bubbled and swirled, trying to make a coherent shape of itself as within things digested, dissolved in its dark mass. I saw a bright dog collar, and a slim pale arm wrapped around a book bag, slowly breaking down.

"I-it ate the manager."

I looked down. A pimply teenager shook, backed up against the wheel. He wore a Burger King uniform.

"He-he was just a bum in a coat. I barely noticed. Th-then it burst out of him. Hit the manager in the face and just started...growing. Th-then it burst over the counter, started swallowing the customers. I barely got out. It...it ate Becky," he shuddered, "A-are you going to stop it?"

"I'm going to try," I said, glaring back at the throbbing dark mass.

Ooze. Misfit had stopped him a couple of times before, but never permenantly. Looks like he was back.

His weakness was water. The Lake wasn't far, but for the way it was growing, reaching out to snatch up more flesh, it might as well have been on the moon.

I looked around for a fire hydrant.

A street length away, with a crowd between us.

If only there was a fire truck or something. I needed to do something.

"Wh-what is that thing?" the teenager whimpered.

>take the risk with the crowd, lure Ooze toward the fire hydrant
>tell the kid to call the fire department, keep Ooze occupied until fire trucks could arrive
>>
>>4624513
>tell the kid to call the fire department, keep Ooze occupied until fire trucks could arrive
This could boost our rep, get a shot of us working with authority.
>>
>tell the kid to call the fire department, keep Ooze occupied until fire trucks could arrive, shout at the fucking civilians to get away from the giant man eating blob

Civilians are priority so I don’t feel safe risking stuff with an errant fire hydrant, just need to keep the people away and keep enough of Ooze’s attention so that it doesn’t try and escape into the sewers and can’t morph human to hide on the crowd.
>>
>>4624513
Lure it into the burger king, block exits and set off the sprinkler system
>>
>>4624513
>Tell kid to call fire department and keep Ooze occupied

>>4624530
We can try this while keeping him occupied but we lose nothing by having the FD coming to back us up.
>>
Yeah Bullpen put my thing together with the Burger King Plan
>>
>>4624560
I'll support this as well
>>
I'm going to have to go. I'll leave this vote open until I get back tomorrow
>>
>>4624619
Thanks for running!
>>
>>4624619
thanks for the run bullpen been really enjoying the quest
>>
>>4624513
>tell the kid to call the fire department, keep Ooze occupied until fire trucks could arrive
>>
Wait didn't Ms grant already say the fire department was on their way
>>
Thanks for the run QM see ya tomorrow, let’s do our best to beat up a blob tomorrow fellow Anons
>>
"Call the Fire Department and tell them they have to hit this thing with water," I said, "Tell them water, not fire supressing foam or whatever, it has to be water. Bring the big cannons, the kind they use for protestors."

"Wh-what will you do?" the kid said, crouched beside the car.

I watched Ooze latched a goopy limb around a cop's arm. The cop screamed as his flesh began to bubble under the grip, slough away from the muscle into the creature's slimy innards.

"I'll try to buy some time," I said.

The Burger King would have sprinklers inside, right? I don't know if they'd be enough to take Ooze out, but they'd do something, and the further he was from ordinary people the better.

I looked back and the crowd had gotten worse, with a news van pulling up, camera crew spilling out.

"Goddamn it," I growled into my mask.

I launched off the car, landing on the cracked pavement outside the Burger King. The stink of Ooze hit me through the mask, a rancid smell of rotting meat. Within the semi-translucent goop of its body, pieces of people swirled. The face of a girl reared up into view, flesh dripping from a slack, horrified face, bits of hair still clinging to a melting scalp with strips of what had been her work uniform hanging off a slowly disintegrating frame.

Vomit filled my throat. I swallowed it down.

"Help me!" the cop screamed as he was pulled deeper into the monster, his forearm, then his elbow, working its way up to his shoulder, the flesh falling away within the slimy grip revealing raw muscle, which began to melt to the bone. His partner fired a shot into the goopy, rolling mass, but when it did nothing he turned, belting toward the crowd, weeping.

"Hey asshole, can you hear me?" I yelled at Ooze.

The mass shifted. Finger thin strands of goo reached out, the center of the mass bubbled and popped until a split of a mouth showed. It wasn't any kind of face, but something you could call a tongue reached out.

"Bright," it bubbled, words popping from its mass, "Fire."

It reached out toward me with thin finger tendrils.

"Hunger."

I backed up to the broken front door of the Burger King. Half digusted figures bobbed in the mass of slime, as it pulled away from the cop and toward me.

"Yeah, right here, nice and bright," I said.

I stepped back into the Burger King. It poured toward me.

"I'm just a big juicy whopper," I said.

Then with a shocking speed, the heavy mass lunged.

>roll 3 x 1d100+25 dc 80
>>
Rolled 27 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4625615
>>
Rolled 52 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4625615
>>
>>4625617
>>4625619
Fuck I really don't wanna get beaten by Flubber from hell
>>
>>4625637
I saw that roll
>>
Rolled 45 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>
Rolled 33 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4625615
Dice gods witness me
>>
>>4625637
>deleting rolls
anon... ya fucked up
>>
>>4625641
What roll *Shifty eyes*
>>
My apologies though, it was wrong of me
>>
I will now commit Sudoku for my crimes, it was nice questing with everyone
>>
>>4625647
yeah don't do that shit anon, we're better than that
>>
We need to have a quick chat about deleting posts to sneak in a re-roll, just to lay down a ground rule. I don't want that kind of nonsense. If we're going to play a game there needs to be a certain level of integrity here. The only time something like that might fly is if the wrong kind of dice were rolled.

For everyone who didn't see, this was the result:

>Rolled 26 + 25 (1d100 + 25)
>>
>>4625647
apology accepted

Now everyone please don't get on the poster's case, they're clearly sorry and know they messed up

back to the quest
>>
Again sorry
>>
>>4625653
Just don't do it again anon, we're all good
>>
Jesus fuck I think I’m feeling shame for the first time, I’m really sorry guys that was fucked up
>>
I leapt aside. Ooze struck the counter behind me hard, its weight crushing into it, pouring over it. Some part of it rose up from the rest of its mass, a fleshy nub looking for me. Searching.

I swallowed. Misfit fought this thing? But I guess with her explosives it was an easier task. I didn't want to risk punching something like that. I crouched by a table, my feet feeling stuck. There was something urgent and primal running through me, a sick terror as this thing roiled around to me.

Where was the smoke alarm?

It lunged again, I rolled aside. It slammed down on the table, popping the bolts that held it in place, buckling under Ooze's weight, the tabletop sucked into its translucent mass. 'Translucent' wasn't a word I'd ever had to use before, but what better word was there for the semi-transparent mass and the sight of all the digesting things floating inside it?

Strange thoughts. Ooze moved with a bubbling sound, like oil popping in a hot skillet, with the overpowering stink of decay. The mouth split open in its center again, a crude pair of lips a child might draw.

"Bright burning!" Ooze's voice was a popping croak. The tongue probed out again for me. "Fire!"

Whatever it meant, whatever primordial thoughts drove it, were beyond my understanding. What was important was it was focused on me.

But where was the damn sprinkler?

It came for me again. I vaulted over. Finger thin strands of ooze rose up from its back, trying to snare me. I landed behind it, stumbled to the window.

This wasn't working.

But I could hear the sirens of a fire truck. I just had to hold on.

It drove toward me. I lunged to the side but at the last minute, Ooze made a pivot, more agile than I thought possible. The weight struck me in the chest, slamming me through the window glass. I slammed out onto hard concrete, glass showering around me, crunching under me, cutting into my back.

I was back out the front of the Burger King, Ooze, slidding out of the shattered window. I pulled myself back but felt something pull. Heard the sizzle. A rope of goop swallowed my foot, up to the ankle. The goo reached up, pulling its way up my leg, sizzling the leather of my boots.

A terror punched my chest I kicked back, drawing on my power, trying to draw my foot free.

A hole opened in the mass of fleshy goo called Ooze, a sucking maw trying to draw me in, hot acid dripping from it as it pulled me foot first backward.

I put all my power in a downward kick on the globby mass coating my foot. It left a glowing impression, smoke rising. The grip retreated, the mass quivering. I backed up on my hands, breathing hard when I hit against the cop car.

Ooze quivered before me, drawing into a heap, reading to lunge with its terrifying weight.
>>
A shot boomed and a burst of goo splashed from Ooze's bulk. The cop with the half dissolved arm cradled a shotgun over the fleshy limb, breathing hard, sweating, pain all over his face. He pumped the shotgun one handed, put another in Ooze. I don't know if it did anything other than distract him.

"No," I called as Ooze turned. It lunged at the cop.

He raised his shotgun a last time, screaming in terror as it fell over him, crushing him down as it sucked him in.

"No!" I screamed, staggering up. Power fired through me as I stumbled toward it, swinging a fist. It was no kind of cross but it hit, white fist leaving a burning mark on its flesh, but as it turned it contracted, and I saw the cop in sightless terror crushed within its mass, blood and flesh pouring from his twisted face, body armor no protection against it as his body came apart in wet chunks.

"You," Ooze popped, "Hurt."

I shuddered back, fists raised, sick all the way through.

There were more people behind me, and behind Ooze. Some had their cameras out, recording it. It turned toward them.

"No, you don't want them," I said, "Me. You want me. Nice and bright."

Ooze paused. It could think. Then it turned back.

"BRIGHT!" it croaked.

Then it charged.

I winced, heart frozen, legs stuck to the ground.

A column of rushing water hit it hard from over my shoulder. Ooze buckled backward, shuddering. Then a second column, then a third.

I looked back. Teams of firefighters crab walked forward, their trucks blocking off the road, bucking hoses held in their experienced grips.

The pimply kid was shouting them on from beside one of the trucks.

They came up walking, keeping the pressure on. Ooze bubbled and whined, cringing away as his goop sloughed off him in splashing, lifeless puddles.

"Keep it up men!" a thick necked fireman yelled, directing the crews, "Let's get Hotspur out of there!"

Ooze began to retreat as it diminished, and in its thick, vicious puddles were the remains of its victims, some of them little more than bones, others worse, disfigured corpses twisted in unnatural shapes.

I panted, ready to drop, water washing over the sidewalk.

Ooze, now a thin, humanoid figure, crawled toward a storm drain.

No.

No way in hell.

>roll 3 x 1d100+25 dc 50
>>
Rolled 43 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4625714
aight if we fail this roll we're retiring
>>
Rolled 80 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4625714
>>
>>4625664
its all good
>>
Rolled 13 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

Alright bad timing but I’m about to start class, anyway I found some costume art but I can only post one at a time, this is the first one ignoring the obvious cybernetics and tech stuff
>>
Next one
>>
Third
>>
And this is the last one
>>
I slipped over the wet concrete, terror turning to hot rage.

Ooze crawled toward the storm drain, reaching out a growing finger.

I grabbed it by what might be a shoulder. My gloves hissed where they touched, but I pulled it back from the storm drain, flung it into the street. The color drained from its figure. Something inside it gave it a humanoid structure, white wires running through its clear sticky mass. Not a skeleton exactly, more like nerves. The fleshy mass twitched and reacted to the web of nerves holding it together.

I swung a hard right into the center of the clear humanoid shape. The goop splashed away from my fist, dropping. I bent over it, swung a back hand, splashing away the thin, sticky slime across the street. It no longer burned, just stank, an awful smell rising off it. The ooze fell away, leaving the white lines jerking and shuddering on the wet cement.

"What the heck was that thing?" a firefighter said, pulling off his helmet as he came up behind me.

"A son of a bitch," I said.

Corpses littered the street, shining wet with slime, bodies contorted in ugly shapes, their last moments of unimaginable terror stamped on their degraded faces.

"My God," the firefighter said, horror on his face.

I shook, took a shuddering step away, then dropped to my knees. I was too tired, too sick, to stand.

A siren whined to a stop, and through the firefighters a figure in a black coat picked his way forward. Agent Penderose, with Detective Bohauer behind him.

"Fascinating," the ghoul said, looking over the remains of our battle. He bent over what was left of a girl, a pen in hand. He lifted a strand of slime from her cheek, sniffed at it.

"Hey what's all this here?" the fire fighter said.

"Special Agent Penderose of the Department of Paranormal Affairs," he said, flashing a badge.

"Hey Chuck, how you doing?" Detective Bohauer said.

"Fuckin' wonderful Pamela, how do you think?" he said, "Just had to wash a bunch of dead people out of the goddamn Blob."

"Wild times," Detective Bohauer said. She moved over to where I was, looked down over me, over to the tangle of white lines that was Ooze. "Is it dead?" she asked me.

"I don't know," I replied, throat tight, voice harsh.

She scratched her second chin. "Shit if I know how to arrest something like that," she said, looking over the twitching white threads.

"But arrest it we shall," Agent Penderose said, stalking up behind her, "Or contain it at least, take it back to headquarters with the rest. These bodies will need to be studied. Half a dozen body bags, and an ice box for our friend." He turned his pitted eyes on me. "Hotspur, we meet at last."

His hand shot out of his pocket, a friendly gesture.

"Well done sir," he said, waiting for me to take it.

>take his hand
>tell him to go screw
>>
>>4625772
>Don't shake his hand but see whatever he has to say
While I don't trust these guys at all, best to at least show we want to help the government and by extension the people
>>
>>4625772
>tell him to go screw
Tell the firefighters thanks for the save, and for actually helping people unlike these suits
>>
I reeaaaally don't know what the move is here, does he want some of our dna is he also a para with diagnostic powers, or is this some kinda trap?

>Leave hsi hand hanging, "Don't you think these people's bodies should go back to their families instead of being stuck in a lab and disected?"
>>
>>4625772
>tell him to go screw
>>4625776
Nah. We wanna help the people directly, the government can fuck off
>>
>>4625779
A valid points, changing my vote to this
>>
All agreed to make sure to thank the firefighters? And see if we can get that police officers name, he did save our life.
>>
>>4625772
>take his hand

We haven't met him as Hotspur yet, anything else will make him suspicious of who he's talked to

Be ready for him to pull is in and try to unmask us
>>
>>4625795
See this makes an excellent point but something like that is something I’m really afraid of, that’s I tried to keep mine semi neutral.
>>
>>4625795
This is definitely a situation where a friendly handshake makes no sense. We're surrounded by partially or fully digested human bodies and just got out of a deadly fight.
>>
>>4625772
>don't shake
Gesture down at the blob "gonna do a better job keeping this one?"
>>
okay I think I can make this work

combining 'no handshake' with the write-ins.
>>
The last thing I wanted to do was touch this snake's hand. He held it out there a second longer, then tucked it back into his pocket.

"These people should go back to their families, not dragged off to a lab to be dissected," I said.

"In normal circumstances I might agree with you," Agent Penderose said, "But we are dealing with a public emergency, and must arm ourselves with knowledge."

He shuffled over to the web of white knots that was Ooze.

"Frederick Marles," he said, "Now known as 'Ooze'. A shocking transformation, he's Marles away from the man he used to be." His thin lips quirked into a smile. Detective Bohauer grimaced.

"Chuck was it?" I said, getting up on unsteady legs, looking to the firefighter.

"Chuck Haywood," he said, "Senior Firefighter with the Chicago Fire Department."

"Thanks Chuck, you guys saved my ass," I said, taking his hand in a firm shake.

"No problem Hotspur," he said, "We'd have been useless without your tip off. Just wish we got here sooner."

"Same," I said, forcing myself to look back at the dead. Agent Penderose went through them, hands in his pockets, black coat giving him the appearance of a large vulture picking over the corpses. I saw the cop, his mutilated corpse half dressed in the smoking remains of his uniform.

"Who was this guy?" I said. He'd saved my life too.

Detective Bohauer picked up what was left of his badge. "Tom Spencer," she said, "Poor bastard. That's no way to go."

"He wasn't the only one," I said, heart dying as I looked over the other corpses.

Agent Penderose straightened up, stalking back over with a satisfied smile. Detective Bohauer got an ice box out from the back of her car and with a queasy expression scooped Ooze into it, coiling him up at the bottom.

"That's one para-freak detained," Agent Penderose said, his eyes flicking to me, "Now what about the other?"

I tensed up. The firefighters looked around each other in confusion.

"Will you turn yourself in, Hotspur, or must we make a scene?"

I swallowed, hand curling into a fist at my side.

There was a commotion by the fire trucks. A camera crew forced its way through, following Priscilla Takanawa striding down the street. It was a strange moment to see someone on tv in real life. She was shorter than I expected, but somehow more stunning. Her grave expression flicked over the remains as her cameraman started forward.

"Get over there," she snapped over her shoulder, "Show the scale of the damage but don't point the camera at anything directly, show some respect."

She looked to us, eyes hawkish, her hair styled back. She strode over with more authority than the cops. I almost took a backward step.

"You, I was hoping you'd still be here," she said, capturing me with her attention, "I missed you at the school. My station would kill for a live interview."
>>
"Perhaps your questions would be better directed at the DPA," Penderose suggested. He registered as much as a bug on her shoe, and he didn't like that, not at all.

"So?" she raised an eyebrow, "Are you willing to give an interview? I've already sat down with Semper Fi in studio."

>do the interview
>no thanks
>>
>>4625852
>no thanks
>>
Alright before we vote, Bullpen can we move Takanawa and her camera man to a roof for the interview? Or just set up a time for it.
>>
>>4625861
you can write that in
>>
>do the interview, but not in a street filled with corpses with the vulture five feet away. Ask them to move to a more suitable location and take her to the top of a building for the interview, if that doesn't work for her tough we’re not walking into a trap later.
>>
>>4625852
>do the interview
Tell the people to look into Eugene Nguyen and which prison he's in. They won't find him because these people are doing human experiments on him, stripping him of his rights. They want to do the same to me. Maybe some bad people got powers. Maybe the explosion changed others so much that their minds were effected. But we still have rights.
>>
>>4625852
>do the interview

Rope in Penerose. If anyone can tank the DPAs reputation by speaking publicly it's him. Call him out for attempting to detain us on live tv.
>>
>>4625897
I'm not sure i wanna do that since he'll just bring up the fact that what we do is blatantly illegal, and despite how scummy he is he is a government official with actual authority, I think it'd be better to just ignore him, it seems to make him angry more than anyhting.
>>
>>4625905
Him angry isn't good though

Him disgraced and exposing his agencies even more blatantly illegal acts is.
>>
>>4625910
What I'm saying is that I don't want him flipping anything around on us when we do question him, like saying how powered people are dangerous and deadly, which is honestly true, he has a prime example right here.
>>
ok I think I can work with these write ins
>>
>>4625912
Yeah, I'd be worried Semper Fi would be able to pull that, but I don't think Penerose can. Every appearance he's been super autistic with zero social awareness. He can't sell an idea to people right in front of him, there's no way he'll be able to do it over tv. Factor in our reputation as the first hero and I really think it'll go well for us.
>>
>>4625925
Well alright then, hey Bullpen Imma trust what this guy put and add it to mine, unless youre doing that with all three anyway
>>
"Sure," I said.

"Give me a second to set up," she said, a young woman darting over to do up her makeup.

As I waited vans came up with bodybags for the corpses, statements taken by Detective Bohauer as Agent Penderose coordinated the rest. The firefighters picked through the wreckage of the Burger King, all with a captive audience that only began to break away when they realized the excitement was over.

I turned to the camera, and Priscilla Takanawa. She wore a stoic mask, the look of an investigative reporter.

"We're here live on Motor Row with Hotspur, Chicago's infamous vigilante, mere minutes after his battle with the creature people are calling 'Ooze'. Its a sentence I never thought I'd say in my broadcasting career, but these are strange times in the city of Chicago. Hotspur, could you share your thoughts on what happened here?"

"Yeah," I said, "I got a tip off something was going down so I came right over. A buddy of mine had some run ins with Ooze already so I had a fair idea how to take him down. I just want to say though, the real heroes here are the firefighters of Chicago. They took down Ooze, I just kept him busy."

"A humble statement," Ms Takanawa said, "Many are hearing your voice for the first time. Many believe you do as much harm as good for the city. How do you feel about those kinds of statements?"

Acid burned my throat. "I'd ask who you heard saying that," I said, angrier than I'd meant.

"Ooze isn't your first run-in with a para-freak, you also took down a villain known as the Creep in a north side school, one who had been harrassing the female student body. Would you say the para-freak problem is getting out of hand? We have reports of multiple casualties at this crime scene alone, and that the Creep escaped custody to continue his harrassment campaign before being brought to justice by the DPA. Add to the other such incidents breaking out around the city, it paints a dire picture."

"That's a...that's a loaded way of putting it," I said, "For a start the term 'para-freak' is derogatory. We're human beings, and like all people some of us do the right thing and some of us do the wrong thing. Maybe the explosion changed some people so their minds were effected, maybe they were bad beforehand, I don't know, but we're still human beings."

"Of couse, but the unique problem of para, uh, paranormal affliction surely requires a response," she said.

"Does that response involve illegal detainment and stripping of our human rights? Right before you arrived, the DPA threatened me with arrest. I've heard they've been conducting experiments on detainees. How is any of that legal?"
>>
"In your previous answer you said some do the right thing, some the wrong thing, do you believe you're doing the right thing for the city?"

I don't know what I expected, but not this agressive tone.

"Look I'm doing what I can with what I've got," I said, "And all I've gotten for it is threats from this guy. hey, Penderose, Agent Penderose!"

I waved him over. He stalked over with an oily smile.

"This is Special Agent Penderose, the most useless man in the city," I said, "Not only was he late to the party here, he let the Creep escape custody. All he's done is threaten to have me arrested. Now is that the right thing to do?"

"Is this true?" Ms Takanawa moved the microphone over to Penderose.

"Entirely true," he said, "Be sure its not a question of wanting Hotspur arrested, its a simple matter of law. I believe in the rule of law and in our justice system, enshrined in the constitution, meant to safeguard our country from tyranny and opression. It's not a personal decision, and as a private citizen, I applaud him on all he's done. But as an agent of the Law, I must call for his arrest. Whatever good he has done for the city can surely be done within its legal institutions."

"Hotspur, a response?" Ms Takanawa said, turning the mic back to me.

Agent Penderose smiled.

"I..." I said.

"Can I add," Penderose said, "That there was another time in our history when we saw a band of masked vigilantes take to the streets calling for 'justice'. It was during Reconstruction, and the group was known as the 'KKK'."

"Sir, that's an outrageous comparison," Ms Takanawa said.

"I am of course in no way implying Hotspur is a racist," Penderose said, "Though his activity seems contained mostly to the...ethnic quarters of the city."

Motherfucker.

>this interview is over
>argue back on his points
>>
Wait fuck, I have more, I’m gonna delete that last post.

>argue back on his points, “I don’t decide where I go based on where a certain group of people live, it doesn’t matter what your race is or where you live, if you’re out there hurting and abusing people I’ll stop you. And honestly I’m interested to hear where you get your information, it’s not like an agency strictly created to detain people like me would have any reason to manipulate public opinion, isn’t that right Agent Penderose?”
>>
>>4625950
You all can think whatever you want about me, smear me, whatever. I'm gonna keep doing what I think is right. If the "legal institutions" in this city did the right thing then I'd spend a lot more nights in my bed but until then I have a job to do.
Then leap away. Addressing the racism stuff is stupid, he's just baiting us
>>
Shit you’re not wrong, alright gonna change it up again.

>argue back on his points, “I don’t decide where I go based on where people live, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re out there hurting and abusing people I’ll stop you.”

Mix me and Anon’s shit together best you can, particularly the part about the City. Although I gotta say yours falls into the same trap since he mentioned the KKK pursuing they’re own justice and is doing what WE think is right.
>>
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>>4625950
>argue back on his points
>Whatever good he has done for the city can surely be done within its legal institutions.
Talk about the corruption of the legal institutions, and how we've witnessed cops working with the organized crime of the city, and those cops being protected by the "legal institutions" for their actions
>the KKK
Comparing us to the KKK is a strawman.

We work in those places because the police aren't doing anything to help in those places. Any police presence there tends to just make things worse, whereas we've gotten the appreciation of the people who live in those places for what we do.
>>
Great posts everyone, I like the fact that we can come together in spite of a truly assholish motherfucker
>>
>>4625950
>argue back on his points

Damn, he's doing better at not spilling spaghetti than I thought

Press him on what his agency does with the parahumans it captures. Accuse him of ties to Ixion energy.
>>
>>4625979
The KKK doesn't own fighting for "justice"

I don't want to act like we're desperate for approval for what we do either or get too specific about stuff, he's just going to try to turn it around on us. Just make a quick comment and leave
>>
>>4625989
I don't want to mention Ixion. If they know we're on to them and get mainstream attention it'll be much harder to investigate them.
>>
>>4625992
Fair enough
>>
>>4625950
>this interview is over
we said our piece about mutie rights. everything else is just tabloid fodder without hard evidence
>>
got to do something here, be back soon(ish)
>>
sorry guys, this dragged on. I'll be back the day after tomorrow
>>
Alright thanks for the run Bullpen
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>>4626097
Thanks for running!
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>>4625950
>argue back on his points
We need to frame our existence as a failure of the police and government to protect people, switch it back on him.
>>
>>4625950
>>4626157
To add on to this, say something like
>That's right, I do primarily protect people in the "ethnic quarters" of the city because those people have been abandoned by the government.
Reframe our actions as defensive and protective rather than offensive (even though we basically just beat the shit out of criminals). That combined with calling the institutions corrupt and then we should skedaddle.
>>
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>>4625948
>For a start the term 'para-freak' is derogatory. We're human beings
I love how he's saying that right after seeing a blob creature consume and kill innocent people like it was nothing. I hope this kind of Cognitive dissonance is intentional QM
>>
>>4626333
We also brought up how the explosion warps people's bodies and minds in some cases, that doesn't mean there isn't some form of humanity still in there
>>
>>4626333
Not cognitive dissonance. Just because some people become serial killers doesn't mean everyone is a psychopath.
>>
>>4625950
>argue back on his points
>>
I'll be running this tomorrow. Hope to see you guys there.
>>
>>4628338
Looking forward to the run
>>
"If you see me in places like Little Village or New Town, its because the city has failed those communities. I've seen the cops work hand in hand with the crooks of this city, organized crime and corrupt politicians. If there's even a difference. Believe me, I'd like to stay home in my bed at night, but so long as Chicago remains one of the most corrupt cities in the country, so long as our representatives keep letting the people down, you'll find me out there fighting to keep this city safe. All of the city, not just the safe white north side neighborhoods."

"Now as far as I'm concerned this interview is over."

I took a step back and turned away. Then launched myself off, wind whipping up around me as I cut through the air.

A bitter taste burned the back of my throat. Penderose handled himself better than I expected, had put me in a corner. I could only hope my response would cut through some of his slander.

My phone buzzed. Landing on the roof of a Popeye's, I checked it. A message from Ms Grant.

Grant - I meant to tell you before you left, I've found a scientist to look at the stone. Dr Javid Zamani, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He can meet you Wednesday night at Eckhart Hall. 10PM.

A lead, that was good.

Then another ping.

Kemal - Dude did you see the news? A monster ate a bunch of people down town.

I got a couple of other messages like that, Ayesha checking to make sure I wasn't one of the victims, Zeke telling me he saw a melted body on tv, Rufus finishing his with a puke emoji. The only person I was waiting for a message from didn't text me. Kay had been quiet, an awful, ambigious quiet that left me stressed. She said she needed time but I'd sure like some clarity on what that meant and how long it would be.

I slumped down on a high roof. It had been a long, horrifying day. I'd seen some messed up shit but that...if I closed my eyes I could see the tortured faces of Ooze's victims trapped inside his body, the skin melting from their muscle, the muscle itself being chewed away. I'd seen people killed in nasty ways but nothing like that. Every week seemed to bring a new horror to my door, and even the people who knew wouldn't understand.

>find someone to talk to (who?)
>head home, rest would help
>>
>>4629939
>find someone to talk to (who?)
Luis
>>
>>4629939
>find someone to talk to (who?)
Missfit, she has seen some shit.

On the long term, maybe ask Ms Grant to look for a therapist for us? We've seen a lot of quite gruesome deaths lately...
>>
>>4629939
>find someone to talk to (who?)
Ivy
>>
well this is tied up three ways. anyone want to change their vote or chime in?
>>
>>4630094
I can switch to Misfit
>>
Misfit it is, locked in
>>
I contemplated just going hom, ducking my head under some water and trying to shake it off. I was getting good at shaking things off, but today felt different, today I needed to talk.

If there was anyone in Chicago who knew something about what I was going through it was Misfit. We walked the same path, more or less, and she'd had trun ins with Ooze before. I didn't have a number for her but I did know one of her hiding spots, and I was willing to wait.

I came down on the roof of the abandoned garage on the fringe of the west side. Her motorbike, the converted Indian, sat out the front resting on its kickstand. She'd be around.

I dropped down to a yard littered with broken glass, the shards of beer bottles, cigarette stubs. I could smell the sharp bite of weed in the air. The front door was wedged open.

"Yo Misfit, you around?" I called.

There was a grunt, then a thud, a sharp zip.

"Yeah yeah, one sec," she said, "Okay, cool."

I slid through the front door.

She sat up from a crusty old mattress, one boot off, sniffing with her mask half down her face.

"Sorry man, late night," she said. There was a wash basin with bloody water by her bed, her first aid kid open, bloody wads of bandaging next to it. "Had a run in with some Russian boys. Or Ukrainian or some shit. Either way you know, blew up their meth lab. Caught some shrapnel on the way out."

I leaned back on the counter as she pulled on her boot, then watched her fish an old slice of pizza from a box, the thick dough squishing under her bite.

"You haven't seen the news?" I said.

"Something went down?"

"Ooze hit a Burger King in Motor Row," I said, "Killed a lot of people."

"But you took him down?" she said, sitting forward.

"Me and the Chicago Fire Department," I said, "He killed...a lot of people Misfit. Killed them in ways I...I never seen that before."

She gave a sympathetic frown. "When I first ran into him he was jus' eating stray dogs and shit," she said, "Nasty but, not the same. Second time though he was in a McDonald's. Grabbed the manager, sucked him in head first, had him gripped all the way to the chest. I tried pulling the guy out, only pulled out half of him, the rest broke off in my hands. He'd stripped him down so's I could see his heart and lungs through his rib cage. Wasn't much left of a head."

"Set off a couple bombs in Ooze after that. Doesn't kill him but slows him down. Then I got the sprinklers on, washed him out. He escaped down the pipes though. I figured it was a matter of time before he put himself back together. Was hoping to hit him before he hurt anyone else"

"But instead I'm lying half high on a dirty mattress, lickin' my wounds," she sighed.

"There was this kid he grabbed," I said, "A girl about my age, name of Becky. He got her before I showed up but I...I saw her inside him, getting all eaten up. Dissolved. And there were others, a cop, Spencer, saved my life. Who knows how many more he's killed."
>>
I was shaking before I knew it. "This morning there was this guy. Shot through the chest. He was a crook but...and it was kind of on me he got shut, but he...he didn't want me to go while he was dying. Just needed someone there with him. I watched him die just this morning, just this morning but it feels like days ago."

"Everyday feels like I'm seeing people die, and never good," I said, "Never going peaceful. Every day a new horror story." I pulled down my hood but left my mask on, ran my hands over my head. Sometimes I felt like my head would just burst open for everything inside it.

"Yeah," she said.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm collecting the dead. Counting them. The girl on the boat, kids in the street. Collecting them up inside me. Carrying them."

Misfit nodded.

"First guy I saw killed I was twelve years old," she said, "Local guy beat to death with a tyre iron. They beat him around the head so bad he had his brains half spilled out his nose, leaking out his ears, blood all mixed up with this thick clear fluid. Couldn't close my eyes without seeing him for weeks. Still can if I think about it. Just got to close my eyes and there he is."

"How do you deal with it?" I said.

"Me?" she said. She thought about my question for a long time. "I learned how to cry," she said.

"Cry? What good is crying going to do?" It's not what I'd expected her to say. I didn't even cry at Mom's funeral. Couldn't, not with Dad such a mess and everyone looking at me with all that tearful concern. People who didn't even know me, even family. Cousins I never saw, strangers.

"It'll make you feel better once its done," she said, "It's untying a knot, man. A knot in your soul. I didn't even know I had a knotted up soul 'til I learned how to cry."

"I ain't saying fall apart and start bein' a bitch," she said, "But you got to learn how to let go of the ugly knot we got inside us."

"Learn how to cry, find someone you can cry with," she said, "It won't fix everything but it'll help. God knows I'm still all kinds of fucked up, but it makes the weight easier to carry."

She fished for a beer beside the dirty mattress, took a long pull. Then stopped, saluting me.

"Here's to you Hotspur, carrying the weight," she said, then drained the bottle in one long pull.

'Carrying the weight' was as good a term for it as any. There were times I felt the weight heavy on me, enough to drag my feet. I didn't imagine it got a whole lot lighter.

"The DPA scooped up Ooze," I said.

"They may as well," Misfit said.

"I still don't like it. I don't trust them. I don't trust what they're doing is for anyone's good but their own."

"I got your back Hotspur, whatever shit they pull."

"Thanks." I got up, paused at the door. "Thanks Misfit, uh, not just for having my back. Thanks for listening."

"No problem," she said with a broad smile, "Who else could understand?"

-
>>
I got home late. I got a message, right before bed.

Kay - see you tomorrow?

It was the first I'd heard from her all day. It set my heart racing even as a bitterness stomped through me too.

I sent back a short 'yeah'.

I lay back in bed. I had a lot to think about, but mostly I wanted to sleep.
-
For the next week I focused on

>pick a primary and secondary task:
>school life, basketball and grades, get my average up to an A
>training, improve boxing and my powers, make sure I was sharp
>crime fighting, running down hoods and investigating organized crime
>investigate para-freaks and the Chicago Explosion
>my social life, friends and stuff, I had to relax
>>
>>4630189
Primary:
>my social life, friends and stuff, I had to relax
since it seems like we're in rough shape after the Ooze fight

Secondary:
>training, improve boxing and my powers, make sure I was sharp
Don't think we've done this for a while
>>
>>4630189
>training, improve boxing and my powers, make sure I was sharp
>investigate para-freaks and the Chicago Explosion
Got that big fight coming up
>>
>>4630217
Voting for this
>>
I'm curious about how people received our little interview
>>
>>4630217
Support
As much as I want to min max our studies, mental health is pretty important
>>
>>4630217
>>4630235
>>4630249
locked in
>>
Sorry I’m late forgot live was today, that said great choices it’s what I would’ve picked anyway.
>>
I turned the stone end over end in my hand. What secrets were inside you? I supposed I'd find out when I met Dr Zamani on Wednesday night. Until then I had other things to worry about. Like getting better with my powers, getting better at fighting, so things like the Ooze didn't happen again.

But if I was being honest what I was really preoccupied with was my relationship with Kay. I'd dropped big, life changing news in her lap and so far she hadn't taken it well. I almost resented her silence over Sunday, but I was scared more of what she'd say, that she was done with me, that she couldn't be with a guy who did what I did. It made going to school a trial, a hot knife in my gut as I sat at the back of the bus, brooding over what she'd say when I saw her.

"So Hotspur pretty much said 'fuck the police' yesterday," Zeke said, "I know its not cool to say it but I'm not down with that."

We were kicking it into school, the others doing most of the talking. My attention was spent huntoing for Kay as they gossiped about what went down yesterday.

"How's he wrong though?" Rufus replied, "Where's the lie? Real talk for a second, but the Chicago PD suck. They pulled my dad over once and he's lucky to be alive. Twitchy cop pulled his gun on him. If he hadn't seen me in the backseat who knows what could have happened."

"Man you acting all hood but you're just from Lincoln Park same as me," Zeke said.

"That's my point man, I ain't hood. You know my dad, he's in retail. We're about as gangster as Modern Family. But the cop still drew on him."

"Yeah okay," Zeke said, clearly annoyed, "Still, not all cops are bad or racist."

"Just a couple of bad guys ruining it for the rest," Dane said, "But you know, maybe there is something problematic about Hotspur. He's pretty violent, and mostly beats up brown people." That put up my ears. "Not like Semper Fi. I like the fact she doesn't get involved in that stuff, she keeps it clean. We need more, you know, positive paras running around. Hotspur is kind of a psycho. You'd have to be to do what he does. Maybe he's no better than the guys he puts down, not really."

I clenched my fist.

"I like her short dress," Zeke said with a grin, "And that gap you know, between her boots and her skirt. That bit of skin. What's that called? It's hot, is what it is."

"She's a fine ass white girl," Rufus agreed. Glad everyone could agree on that at least. I noticed no one leapt to my defence though. Maybe if Ayesha had been there, but the guys were careful not to bad mouth Hotspur in her presence.

She was running late, and when she was dropped off it wasn't by her dad. An older kid, a black guy in a flashy convertible, let her out. She waved back as she ran over to us.
>>
"Who was that?" Zeke asked, prickly with jealousy.

"Oh him? Don't worry about him," Ayesha said, but she had a kind of glow in her cheeks when she said it. It put my back up too, though less jealousy and more concern. He could have been a college boy, no way in hell should he be sniffing around a high school girl, least of all my friend.

Whatever it was she didn't elaborate so we let it slide.

It was in the hall though my nerves started to spike. When they saw Kay walking down, breaking away from her cheerleader friends, they went numb.

"Hey," she said with a nervous smile.

"Hey," I said, leaning on a locker. The others gave us some space.

"So," she said.

"So," I said.

I stared down at her. Then I took a risk. I grabbed her arm, pulled her closer, pushed my nose under hers and parted her lips for a kiss. She gave a muffled sound but didn't pull away, tongue slipping over mine. We broke blushing like it was our first kiss.

"We're cool?" I said.

"More than cool," she replied, flustered hot.

"What's that about?" Ayesha said.

Kay smiled as she spun around. "Oh, nothing," she said, swaying her way to her locker.

So we were cool? That was. Yeah. That was cool.

It was toward the end of the school day when Ms Flores pulled me aside.

"Eric, can we talk?" she said. She lead me into a classroom. Now ordinarily anyone would kill to be alone in a classroom with Ms Flores. For me, now, it was just awkward. "About this weekend." I swallowed, wanting to forget it. "Your dad, Joe, Mr Miller." She looked as uncomfortable as I was, sitting back on the edge of a desk. "What does he...does he like things? I mean to say, what does he like? Does he like baseball?"

"Nah, he uh, kind of hates baseball," I said.

Ms Flores frowned.

Uh.

"He likes the Pistons," I said.

Her frown deepened.

"But he likes hockey, you know, loves the Blackhawks."

Her smile grew.

"The Blackhawks, okay," she said.

"So are you two, you know..." I said, "Still not putting a label on it?"

She blushed. How I'd have killed to see her blush not long ago.

"Your dad is, he's a really good guy," she said. You don't know him that well, I thought. Was she even allowed to see a student's dad? Sounded ethically iffy.

"Well," she said, stepping up from the desk, "Thank you for the help Eric. You've done your weekend reading?" I hadn't, but I'd been a bit distracted. "Have a good afternoon." She was quick to walk away, red cheeks bright.

My afternoon, like most that week, would be spent either in the gym or in my hideout. Coach Jackson wasn't joking about putting me in the ring on the weekend. And Stink seemed eager for it. Stink watched me train, slapping a hand into his palm, his friends around him. All at-risk kids, leaving me the normal one for a change. Stink I knew was in foster care, had been shuffled around foster homes for this reason or another. He wasn't a bad guy, but when a fight was on he was in it.

"Crack me a cracker," Stink said, watching me at the jump rope.
>>
"Ignore him," Ayesha said beside me, huffing as she matched my routine. We were regular gym buddies, building up a sweat together when we didn't break for seperate classes, her going to dance, me to box. Like he liked, Coach Jackson would sometimes have the two classes mingle. 'Dancing's good for fighting' he'd say, but I think he just wanted time around Diana, the dance teacher. Couldn't blame him.

I went through the cha-cha-cha with Ayesha, Spanish music playing. I never thought of myself as much of a dancer, but I had a partner who made me look good, and only smiled when I stepped on her toes. She had a way of moving her hips I tried to match.

Stink bumped up against us, his own partner an awkward handful.

"You play basketball?" Stink said. I nodded. "Gonna dribble your head off the canvas come Saturday. Like a basketball."

Ayesha rolled her eyes, pulled my attention back to her with a hand on my shoulder. I used to get embarassed about wrapping my hands around her hips, and still kind of did, but I'd gotten used to it too.

When I wasn't huffing up and down the gym I was in my hideout, committed to another kind of training.
I had to get faster. Not just my speed but my reactions. I had to get faster, sharper. People died if I was slow, if I was dull, if I was soft. I took my training and put it into my power, my punches faster, my footworker crisper, more agile. I outfought my shadow, bobbing and weaving between the stone pillars. Faster, more snap, more power in each blow. Sweat, turn the cold world hot with my own body heat.

People died if I was cold.

It was something Kay didn't understand yet.

"You train all the time," she said, "Gym or the other thing. You need a break."

A break was a bag of burgers and a thickshake. We were at a skate park, me sucking the dense chocolate through a straw as we watched skateboarders buzz by, clicking up to grind a rail, board flipping out as a guy stacked, landing hard. Kay fed me fries one at a time. It was a good kind of break.

A girl in a bright yellow hijab slid past, popping a kick flip to land a rail, grinding out. Nasim, Kemal's cousin. She shot me a scornful look as she went, still thinking I'm a pervert two timing Kay. Let her think whatever.

"Hey, that's my kind of radical Islam," Zeke snickered. Dane and Hunter laughed, even Kay smiled.

I had a thing that night, meeting Dr Zamani at the University. Until then I was happy to kick out the afternoon with my friends, lying under a tree in the shade.

"Hey, you're friends with Ivy, right?" Dane asked. I felt Kay grow uncomfortable next to me.

"Yeah," I said, not offering more until he had more to say.

"Do you think she'd want to catch a show or something?" he said.

"With you?" I said. Dane might be her type, I don't know. He had a soft guy energy, laid back and considerate. Maybe she dug that when she wasn't joking about older guys.
>>
"If you want to get with Ivy man, all you need is vodka," Zeke said with a grin, raising a finger suggestively, "Get a shot in her and she'll put out."

Anger prickled the back of my neck. I tried not to glare Zeke down. If Ayesha had been there she'd have slapped him.

"Nah she ain't that easy," Hunter said, "It takes at least three shots."

Everyone laughed, including Kay. I just sat feeling cold, and not from the early bite of winter.

"You know she's not a virgin," Kay said, almost casually. "By that I mean I know she's not a virgin."

"Oh yeah?" Dane was a little to eager on that. The others looked eager too. I sat up, not liking where this was going.

"And you wouldn't believe with who," she said.

>Who?
>That's none of our business
>>
big update
>>
>>4630416
>That's none of our business
She might not be your friend but there's no reason to be nasty
>>
>>4630416
>That's none of our business
>>
>>4630416
>That's none of our business
>>
>>4630500
>>4630476
>>4630427
locked in
>>
"That's none of our business," I said, sharper than they expected.

"Come on Eric you already have a girlfriend, what, do you want two?" Zeke said with a goofy smile.

I blushed but Kay laughed it off. "No, Eric's right we shouldn't gossip," she said, "It's not nice."

"But if I'm going to ask a girl out I should know where she's been," Dane said. Maybe he wasn't the nice guy he looked like. "Can I guess at least?"

"Guess away but I've changed my mind, I won't tell."

She said that more to me than to them. It's not right to gossip about someone, least of all a friend, especially about stuff like that. Maybe I was the only one here who really considered Ivy a friend though. It was odd, when I'd first met her she seemed the type of girl a guy would kill to spend time with, at least based on looks, but I guess that was only in one specific context. To be honest I hadn't seen much of Ivy lately, not since Ayesha's sleep over.

"You know I've gone pretty far with Ivy," Hunter said, "Plenty of guys have."

"But have you gone all the way?" Dane asked. Hunter shook his head. The question was going to burn in the back of his mind for a while I guess. I was going to pretend it didn't flicker in the back of mine.

I watched Nasim stack her board, skidding down the cement on her knees, trying to ignore their conversation. It didn't knock her down long, even if it scratched up her robe and left blood crawling down her knee caps. She got up and started rolling along before popping down into the bowl with the other skaters.

"Hey," Kay said, leaning her head on my shoulder, "Can we talk a second, in private?"

I wasn't going to say no, and I was happy to get away from the others joking around about my friend. We got up, moving separate.

"I saw your interview," she said. Great. "You know, I didn't like what you said, but I think that's because I know its true. The city isn't working the way it should. No one feels safe, not even in their own homes."

"I'm just trying to help," I said.

"I know," she said, smiling up at me, "And I realized, you make me feel safe. Even before I knew about the other thing."

"And now we have para-freaks to go along with it all," she said, "You might be the only one who can stop them."

I flinched at the word.

"And you know it is kind of cool," she flicked her hair back behind her ear, "Knowing you're a little dangerous. Kind of...hot."

"Yeah?" I said, liking the way she said 'dangerous'.

"Oh yeah," she replied with a toothy grin. "So I'm down with it, you know. I'm okay."

"And if I'm being really honest? I think I like knowing, having you to myself while all those other girls wonder who you are," she said, "You've got quite the fanbase out there."

"I've heard," I said.
>>
"Oh no you haven't, not even half," she said in a sultry way that terrified me as it squeezed me hard. God. Was I like, a sex symbol or something? I didn't know how to feel about that. But I know it wasn't really me either way, its whoever they imagined I was behind the costume. Not me at all, just a fantasy.

But it was hard not to enjoy Kay's starry eyed look.

Whatever that look meant though, it died with the honk of a car horn. Her mom come to collect her. I stole a soft kiss before letting her go.

"See you tomorrow," she said with a wave, skipping toward the car.

"Yeah, see you," I said.

The others started breaking off for home soon after. "Man, that was kind of shitty the way I was talking," Dane admitted, "But if you could put in a good word for me with Ivy, I'd appreciate it."

"I'll see what I can do," I said, heading my own way.

I had somewhere to be tonight that had nothing to do with high school bullshit. I had to meet with Dr Zamani.

-
I'll pick this up tomorrow

serious question: do I get too violent sometimes? I was just thinking I get a bit gruesome with some descriptions. I'm actually trying not to go too far.
>>
>>4630546
>serious question: do I get too violent sometimes? I was just thinking I get a bit gruesome with some descriptions. I'm actually trying not to go too far.
It ain't bothering me. I imagine it's more realistic this way, too.
>>
>>4630546
Thanks for running!

I for one appreciate the gruesomeness. Makes it feel dark and gritty.
>>
>>4630546
I think your descriptions are realistic - this is a lot for a High Schooler. It makes Eric seem vulnerable mentally - which makes a lot of sense
>>
>>4630546
I'm into it, it really drives home the gap between humans and parahumans
>>
>>4630546
I like the violence
>>
Am I alone in not being a huge fan of Kay? As a reader I like that she's not this perfect girl who just lives to please Eric, but the way she talks about parahumans and the way she treats others sort of bothers me.
>>
>>4630615
Agreed
I prefer I V Y
>>
>>4630546
I don't see it as gruesome, it seems more realistic to me, you hit a guy with super strength and you gonna hurt him, you see a blob eat a girl you gonna be affected and you hold a dying man's hand you gonna feel that forever, especially if you're only a teenager
>>4630615
kinda same but I think with help she could get better, we may need to start calling her on it in private
>>
>>4630546
It's kinda gruesome at times but not excessively so, and I'd say it's pretty realistic in general.
I also like how you show it affecting Eric - he's still a high schooler after all, though I get the feeling his Power may be helping him cope or be less affected by the bloodshed, and conssidering how bloodthirsty or ruthless in other ways the other Paras we've met so far have been I think it's likely that these powers have SOME effect on the psyche. Thoughts, everyone else?

Anyways I like it, the current level of violence fits Eric's MO; in that he tries to end fights as quickly as possible to minimize casualties, even if that means being ruthless.

>>4630615
I know what you mean, though it makes me look forward to character development as I feel like a lot of that is her Father's influence. Hopefully we can get her to be a bit more tolerant, and if she refuses to acknowledge her faults it's still just high school romance.
>>
>>4630943
Honestly this about fits how I feel about the quest, could see Paras powers affecting the mind as well as the body, hell just look at shark. I'm hoping that Kay develops more cause I actually kinda like her character for the most part. I will say this, bullpens got a handle for writing teenage characters
>>
So I was thinking, the school officially contacted us through twitter or something, right? So do we have an official Hotspur account? If not we might want to make one and build a bit of a social media presence, being very careful with our Identity of course.

I say this because I think it's pretty obvious that the DPA is trying to spin an anti-para narrative, the term Para-Freak only cropped up recently after they entered the picture and they'll want to control and contain this whole situation as best as possible. They'll probably try to get rid of us 'problematic' ones and then use Semper Fi as their poster girl.

With an online presence we could talk about some of the corruption and bad shit we've witnessed without being reliant on TV, oppose an obvious slur like 'Para-Freak' being used by just about everyone (which I think is quite important for public perception of all paras), and be a bit more human and approachable in the public eye - our reputation has been tanking lately, with more and more people considering us something of a psychopath.

It's not an immediate, pressing concern, but maybe something to keep in mind.
>>
>>4631350
Wouldn't mind it, would probably have to get another burner just for social media then, don't want them tracking us after all
>>
The University of Chicago was a town of its own within the city, its citizens the student body from across the country and around the world, its statesmen the faculty, the administrators and professors who taught within its walls, who kept the machine of education churning.

It was a pretty place at night, Fall turning to early winter with dry ivy crawling over old buildings, or at least buildings meant to feel old. Sometimes I feel red is the color of Chicago, and the handsome buildings around Eckhart Hall were all red tiled. There was something near medieval in the architecture, something picturesque in the tree lined little roads.

It was too late and too cold for anyone but the most dilligent students to be out. They rushed from doorways heavily scarved, breath steaming in the chill night. I crouched upon the red peak above the entrance to Eckhart Hall, watching them scurry in and out, waiting for Dr Zamani to appear. No one noticed me crouched up there, I became part of the stonework in the dark.

The stone was a weight in my inner breast pocket. Not a physical weight, it weighed practically nothing, but a heavy presence.

A dark man in a scruffy coat stepped out, a reusable coffee cup steaming in his hand. He had a thin, patchy moustache and elegant narrow eyes on a youthful but tired face. He blew on the steaming coffee before taking a sip. A passing student smiled at him.

"Good evening Dr Zamani," she said on the way in.

"Good evening Chelsea," he replied with his own tired smile, but his attention was transfixed by the black coffee he was sipping at.

A bat flew out from somewhere behind me as I dropped down behind him.

"Javid Zamani?" I said, affecting a deeper voice.

He hopped, spilling coffee over his hands, then hissed down at the burning liquid.

"Ah dang," he muttered, turning around, "Oh you. Yeah, that's me. Uh, Maddie sent you right? Madeline Grant." Up close he was taller than I expected.

"Ms Grant," I said, "She said you could help me with a problem."

"Yeah, of course. Just so long as its not a criminal problem," he said, "I prefer my super heroics in comic books you know. I'm not about violence."

"We should talk in private, do you have an office?" I said.

"Yeah," he said, "Yeah, yeah. I was thinking that. Uh, in the mathematics department inside. You don't mind?" My stare was an answer. He smiled nervously, took a sip of what was left of his coffee. He was a twitchy type, but maybe he was just tired. "Just, follow me."

The inside of Eckhart Hall was less handsome than the ivy wreathed exterior. Bare white walls and carpeted in a style I'd more expect in a public library. It echoed with lonely typing, the soft tick of computer keys, the scritch of pencils. It smelled like fresh vaccuuming and coffee.
>>
At least that's how it was until we went up a floor to the mathematics department. The walls were wood paneled, the floor hardwood with a pleasant cross section. A kind of old fashioned prestige came with the polished wood. Old portraits of old alumni and faculty stood on the wall in golden frames. We didn't run into anyone much, a few students, and only a couple of them raised their heads from their work to notice us.

Those that did, did a double take as I walked by.

Dr Zamani's office was far humbler than the department as a whole. It was a cramped office, taken up with a filing cabinet, a small desk with a humble laptop covered in paperwork. Charts and graphs made odd posters on the wall. The only decoration was a stone figure on his desk, a paper weight. I thought it was a sphinx at first, but it had a bearded face, and I couldn't remember if sphinxes had wings or not.

"Sorry about the uh clutter," he said, clearing a patch on his desk. One of the papers had FERMILAB printed across the top.

"So I don't know if Maddie told you but I'm a professor of astrophysics," he said, "Space math, you know. But I have a phD in bread and butter physics too, with a few other degrees here and there. I was what you'd call a professional student until they bullied me into teaching."

He seemed on the young side to be a professor, maybe in his early thirties.

"Maddie and I went to college together," he said, "Right here actually. If you were uh wondering how we know each other."

"I wasn't," I said. I took it from my inside breast pocket, the stone, placed it down beside his paper weight. He leaned over it, studied it, rubbing his chin. Then he came to a conclusion.

"It's a rock," he said.

"Yeah," I said, "But what else is it?"

He looked at me for permission to pick it up. I nodded. He held it in his palm, stroking it with his fingers, feeling its weight.

"This has something to do with the Chicago Explosion, doesn't it?" he said.

"I would say so," I replied.

"Do you know in the moments before the Explosion our sensors went wild," he said, "Some of them broke. An unknown energy signature, some new form of cosmic radiation of literally immeasurable power, entered our atmosphere and collided with Chicago. And then when the explosion itself happened? Frankly I'm shocked there's still a Chicago standing and not a giant smoking hole in the ground, that the effects weren't more...physical. NASA played it off as an atmospheric anomoly, just a trick of light refracted off an asteroid breaking up in the stratosphere, but we both know that isn't true."
>>
"Everyone knows it isn't true," I said.

"I have friends at Fermilab who have been obsessing over it, trying to decode the riddle. Everything about the explosion is unexplanable by our current understanding of, well, everything. What a remarkable thing to happen. A shame it happened at the end of the world."

He sighed with heavy regret, placing the stone down.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

He waved a hand at the graphs on his wall. "Climate data, bad news all around I'm afraid but...ah don't let me alarm you. It's nothing that hasn't been said over and over for the last ten years. Frankly this kind of thing is a welcome distraction."

My skin prickled hot. I'd been living with that 'news' all my life, it wasn't anything new even as it grew worse, the future growing more upsetting with every headline. It also wasn't why I was here. I pushed it out of my mind.

"Some dangerous people want this stone," I said, "It's connected to the Explosion. I don't know how but I think its part of whatever caused it."

"Data on the Explosion is hard to come by, even for a college professor, its top security, clandestine stuff," Dr Zamani said, "But a friend at NASA has been breaking confidentiality with little tid-bits of information. All I know is from what they've said whatever entered Earth's orbit did so from a deep space trajectory, outside the bounds of navigable space. Unless the Chinese or Russian space programs are a century ahead of ours, its impossible it could be of terrestrial origin."

It took a second to register what he was implying. "So you're saying its alien?" I said.

"Extra-terrestrial," he said, "I'm not implying any kind of intelligence. More of a natural occurence, if a rare one. We have a very limited understanding of the...for lack of a better term 'ecosystem' of space."

I knew one guy who'd be happy to hear this.

"That's my hypothesis at least," he said, "I'd know more if I could run tests on the stone. Fermilabs, you know Fermi? They operate a particle accelerator near Winfield. Its not as famous as the Large Hadron Collider, but they do good work. I have friends there I trust. I could take the stone there and use their equipment, get a better idea."

"Unfortunately I can't eyeball radiation signatures," he said, smiling down at the stone.

"If you could trust me to keep it?"

>give him the stone, this is outside my league
>keep the stone, I'll take it to fermilabs personally
>>
>>4631350
Spiderman did that shit in the PS4 game, so why not. Builds good PR, and gives us a way to influence people.
>>4631410
A burner phone can still be tracked. What we'd have to do is never carry it into our house, school, or secret base. Hide it somewhere in the city, so if the feds track it they don't find anything.
>>
>>4631453
Yeah should have specified on that my bad
>>
>>4631444
>give him the stone, this is outside my league
>>
>>4631465
Oh yeah, and thank the guy, he's taking a risk helping out like this
>>
>>4631444
>keep the stone, I'll take it to fermilabs personally
>>
>>4631444
>give him the stone, this is outside my league

If we can't trust him why would we take it where he's telling us to?
>>
>>4631507
>>4631465
locked in
>>
>>4631410
>>4631453
Yeah like I said, if we do this then only with plenty of precautions. If all else fails we could just use it from Internet Cafés at first. Those still exist, right? Would be fun to see staff reactions if we just walked in in costume like "Hey what's up don't worry I just gotta check my Twitter real quick"
>>
"Do what you can with it," I said, "But I'll want it back. And be careful. Dangerous people want this stone, if they know you have it they'll come straight for you."

"Yeah, of course," he said, scooping it closer.

"Thanks," I added, "This means a lot."

"Oh believe me, my motivation is 100% selfish," he said, "Anything to crack the biggest scientific mystery of our time."

I looked back at the desk, the junk food bags crumpled up in his bin, the filing cabinets closing him in like steel columns flooded with paper. It really was a stripped down way to live. No family pictures, no books, the only thing non-scientific was the paperweight.

"Nice sphinx," I said.

"Oh? Ah, no, it isn't a sphinx," he said, "It's a lamassu, a guardian diety from ancient Syria. Or its supposed to be, modelled off one of the statues ISIS destroyed. I guess its a kind of sphinx but, maybe they're the same thing translated across regions. I bought it to help raise money for restoring some of the cultural sites that were destroyed in the civil war."

"Hopefully it'll protect me from any baddies skulking around," he said.

"If not, I will," I said.

He promised to contact me as soon as he discovered anything, but I left with an uncomfortable feeling. I didn't like the stone being out of sight, out of reach, and in the hands of a thin wristed professor who couldn't hope to fight off some of the people I knew would be coming for it.

But maybe that made it safer with him. Away from me or someone obvious, in the hands of the least likely suspect.

Those thoughts tumbled through my mind as I launched from roof top to roof top across the glittering city, the lights beneath me blocking out the stars above. It was cold and getting colder, the days of morning frost starting with only weeks until Thanksgiving. Which would mean a week off from school, with Dad planning a trip back to Indiana. More and more my life on the ground and my life on the rooftops began to collide.

I was somewhere downtown, landing on the top of a tall office building among narrow radio towers. I shook out the chill, took a deep breath, and ran for my next jump.

Then I heard it before I saw it. A sharp hiss, then out of the dark a thin metal cable whipping toward me.

"Not so fast now," a voice rasped from the dark, the cable whipping toward my head.

>roll 3 x 1d100+25 dc 75
>>
Rolled 81 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4631547
Here's hoping no one who saw us at the Uni posted about it online or something, might be enough to make the connection with the professor
>>
Rolled 6 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4631547
o fuq
another para? or a hitman?
>>
Looks like we have our... What, fourth super fight on our hands. Or just some wannabe ninja with a peculiar choice of weapons.

Also,
>Fermilab
Any connection to the Fermi Paradox?
>>
Rolled 92 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

>>4631547
Rollin
>>
>>4631559
Oh hey I did a good
>>
>>4631555
its a real place named after Enrico Fermi, who put forward the Fermi Paradox.

>>4631559
that's a pass!
>>
>>4630637
Cringe. She reminds me of that blue haired bitch from life is strange.
>>
>>4631568
Huh, I kept thinking your stereotypical high school mean girl, that being said still wanna be friends with her, possibly fix the friendship between her and kay
>>
>>4631568
I didn't like her at first, but now I feel like she only puts on the ice queen persona because she's extremely vulnerable beneath it and probably has some pretty bad abandonment issues, what with her parents never being home so they don't have to confront the fact that their 10yo daughter will likely die from cancer soon. Shit like that makes you grow up and bitter beyond your years.

No saying she's without faults or whatever, her coping mechanism is literally being a bitch, but I think she's a victim of circumstance, not a bad person.

Speaking of best imouto, I've been wondering from the moment she was introduced if we were gonna find a healer para to help her.
>>
>>4631568
>>4631580
Also 10 bucks says it was Kay who took her V-Card, which (if true) was probably also connected with their friendship ending
>>
>>4631580
If we do find a healer, which would be nice, hell yeah then. Also agree with the ivu situation, maybe once she tells yesha or kay about her Im fully expecting them to have a sad lil moment
>>
Personally I’m gonna stick with Kay but yeah helping Ivy out is something I’m totally behind, helping her reconnect with her friends and possibly helping her sister are priorities.
>>
But I was that fast. I ducked under the whipping cable, the flexible steel cord cracking over my head. It hissed around overhead, retreating to the raised arm of the man stepping out of the shadows.

If ever I'd seen a killer, here he was. He wore a sleeveless flak jacket, camoflagued fatigues and heavy boots, a large knife sheathed in his belt. Moonlight glinted off his metal hands, advanced prosthetics that jutted out of the meaty nubs of his forearms. His face was scared down one side, burned over the other, the burns eating away at his hairline so he was bald all around the fleshy patch of his left ear. Dirty teeth showed in a crocodile grin, dark gaps of missing teeth just adding to his feral look. He was white, but tanned dark as hard, and his hair stood up in thick black thickets, a savage imitation of a jarhead.

He drew a gun from his holster, less a pistol and more a bar of iron mounted with a laser scope. I lunged aside, gun shots blowing holes through the air vent behind me. Whatever caliber of bullet it took, my spider-weave vest wasn't going to stop it. The long cable slid up into his prosthetic hand, securing itself with a click.

"So you're the hot-stepper?" he said, "You look like a streak of piss to me."

The red dot whipped over my chest. I moved, the bullet tearing a chunk from the radio tower behind me. That wasn't a gun it was a damn howitzer. He laughed as I ducked among the steel bars of the radio towers.

"Maybe you throw down what my boss wants and I won't ventilate your skull," he said, "But probably not."

Who did he work for, Ixion, the DPA, someone else?

The laser dot moved through the shadow I was crouched in.

"You're a fast little fucker," he said. The dot shone over my goggles. I sprung away, saving my skull. I dipped back into the dark. "They call me Houndmaster," he said, "Want to guess why?"

He touched a button the back of his hand. A sharp whistle sounded out. Around him they rose up, three bird legged, long armed monsters. They had smooth round skulls, faces just a fixed piece of plastic with a glowing light behind it.

"These are my bloodhounds, the next generation of drone warfare," he said, petting the steel dome of the robot by his side, "Courtesy of 'fuck you' enterprises and funded by Uncle Sam. God bless the military industrial complex!"

He clicked metal fingers and the humanoid drones sprung forward into the iron jungle of the radio towers, hunting for me.

"Better than the shitbird mercs I used to work with, Somali fucks who don't know where their dicks are til its time for the raping," he said, "But they're expensive. Suits me fine though, the bounty on your head would get a saint to spread 'er legs."
>>
The click and whir of the drones, the bloodhounds, was a loud and threatening warning in the dark. They made no other sound but swung around their eyeless heads, looking for me. Their thighs opened and they drew heavy looking pistols, smaller than the one their grinning master carried but just as deadly.

"They'll find you boy, don't think you can hide," he said, a hand on his knife, "Why don't you come out and dance? I promise it'll be a short one."

I swallowed a nervous knot in my throat. This wasn't how I wanted to spend my Wednesday night.

>rush Houndmaster
>take out his drones
>run away
>>
>>4631608
>hard
hard oak
>>
>>4631612
>take out his drones
Stay highly mobile, locate a weak point, and strike hard
>>
>rush Houndmaster

I think he’s the biggest threat and if we go after the birds he’ll use the chance to hit us, running away just gives him a chance to chase us down or figure out where we’re going, and I don’t trust him not to have some tracking shit handy.
>>
>>4631612
>take out his drones

You don't fight the capra demon without killing his doggies first
>>
>>4631612

>rush Houndmaster
>>
>>4631612
>rush Houndmaster
>>
>>4631634
Support
This guy Souls
>>
got a tie

I'll give it five more minutes for new votes then flip a coin
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

okay rolling

1 is rush Houndmaster
2 is fight the drones
>>
Guess we’re takin down the mooks first let’s get it boys.
>>
The clack of metal limbs bounced around the jungle of crossbars and corrugated iron as I ducked and weaved around. I wasn't going to let Houndmaster bait me out. The glow from the drones' face screens gave me enough light to pick them out, but whatever was behind them also let them see in the dark.

I saw plastic clad fingers raise up a revolver, let off a shot that pinged off the steel beam behind me. I flinched, going low.

I could only avoid them for so long, I needed to even the odds. I snaked my way around the radio tower, climbed up hand over hand, my robotic pursuers beneath me.

Gun shots fired off.

"Maybe when I'm done here I find that negress you saved," Houndmaster called, "Show that little girl a good time, maybe let my hounds have a go. What do you think? Bet a girl like that melts like butter."

Hot spit filled my mouth as rage quickened my power, his vulgar threats digging hooks into me.

The glow of a drone face rose beneath me, the machine climbing up in my wake.

I looked down as it raised its gun up.

Time to strike.

>roll 3 x 1d100+20 dc 75
>>
Rolled 69 + 20 (1d100 + 20)

>>4631776
Come on dice gods
>>
Rolled 47 + 20 (1d100 + 20)

RNGesus give me strength
>>
>>4631779
Lol, dice gods are lewd
>>
>>4631781
*Appears behind you with D20* Always have been
>>
>>4631782
N-Nani!!!
>>
Rolled 100 + 20 (1d100 + 20)

>>4631776
I got this
>>
>>4631790
crit

success
>>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uints81YYMc&ab_channel=GAR

let's fucking go
>>
>>4631790
HOLY SHIT LETS GOOOOOO
>>
>>4631790
LETS FUCKING GOOOOOO
>>
Rolled 20 + 20 (1d100 + 20)

>>4631776
>>
>>4631790
YOU FUCKING KING
>>
>>4631790
Oh shit!
>>
"Oh yeah, I bet she'll moan right before I put the bullet in her," Houndmaster said, "Right between her pretty eyes."

Rage pulsed the white hot fire, quickened it through me. Quickened it until it overtook me. Blinded me. My body becoming numb, his threats ringing in my ear. Then the world returned, sharper, crisper, clear. As if I saw the world clearly for the first time.

The drone raised its pistol, aiming to take a shot, working its calculation in its head as I crouched above it.

Thoughts disappeared from my head. My mind was the white fire. The world was slow around me, everything caught in a single moment. I was the fire.

I speared down, the world screamed around me. I barely felt the drone explode around me as I cut right through it, feet first. I hit the roof, cement bursting up in a fine powder around my feet, the expensive parts of the machine raining down around me, circuit boards sparking, limbs thrashing. The other hounds turned, pistols cracking off, no fear for the destruction of their comrade.

They were machines, thoughtless and without emotion.

I didn't have to hold back. I dove away from the gunshots, footsteps burning behind me. Too fast for their sensors to follow. My teeth grit in a horrible grin as I leapt up for the next drone, landing behind it.

It spun on its perch, pistol spinning around with its torso. I caught its plastic hand mid-arc, crushed it with a squeeze. I drove my fist through its face plate, losing my arm in it up to the elbow, its electronic brain smashed out the back of it. I tore my arm free, then clutched what was left of its head, ripping it free from its neck.

The sparking body collapsed.

One to go. My head was a hot pulse.

The last of the unliving creatures turned. Unnatural creatures. Righteous contempt drove me toward it.

Could a machine learn fear? It raised its gun up, but I was moving. I crashed into it, my fist driving a divet in its chest plate, my second punch bursting through it. It spun out, sparking, trying to run. I grabbed it by the arms and pulled. Hot sparks spewed from the sockets of its arms. I threw the metal and plastic limbs aside. It looked at its own injuries without comprehension.

My hand became a hot blade. I took a step, grinding glass and circuitry beneath my feet. A swipe of my hand took its head from its shoulders.

"You there boy?" Houndmaster called.

The red dot fell on my chest. I knew no fear. I looked along the way it came, the invisible beam of light. I fell on Houndmaster's scarred, bitter face. Uncertainty, doubt, fear. I didn't see it, I felt it. I stepped toward him, a haze rising around me. What word for it but the smoke from a fire. An unburning fire.

I saw the wickedness coating his soul. Foul deeds from cruel thoughts. Covering specks of light.
>>
>>4631580
Yeah whatever you say dude,, but she is no way better or even on the same level as Kay. Shit taste if anyone says otherwise.
>Also 10 bucks says it was Kay who took her V-Card
Why was one anons headcanon turned into objective fact?
>>
"Now he steps forward," Houndmaster said, taking aim. The red light over my heart. "Fine by me."

He fired.

Faster than a thought my hand snatched out, the bullet burning in my grip. I dropped it. I had no thought.

I walked forward.

"Shit on me," Houndmaster said, then squared his shoulders, fired again.

I snatched the bullet away. It burned in my hand. I had no thought.

"No," Houndmaster snarled, "No fucking way."

He reached for his knife.

I was instinct and fire.

> roll 3 x 1d100+50 dc 80
>>
Rolled 84 + 50 (1d100 + 50)

>>4631861
Shit we fast as fuck boy
>>
>>4631868
Fuck I've been on a lucky streak for once
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>4631861
>Thoughts disappeared from my head. My mind was the white fire. The world was slow around me, everything caught in a single moment. I was the fire.
Called it, anime mode engaged.
>>
Rolled 79 + 50 (1d100 + 50)

>>4631861
wrong die
>>
Rolled 30 + 50 (1d100 + 50)

>>4631861
Please no critfail
It seems like these powers come with an altering of personality. Shark probably let his powers consume him entirely
>>
>>4631875
Now we have the power of space rock God and anime on our side
>>
Rolled 35 + 50 (1d100 + 50)

>>4631861
>>
>>4631868
success
>>
>>4631861
oh shiiiiiiiit

watch out salamander
>>
>>4631884
>My teeth grit in a horrible grin as I leapt up for the next drone, landing behind it.
I N S A N I T Y
>>
>>4631608
>"Courtesy of 'fuck you' enterprises and funded by Uncle Sam. God bless the military industrial complex!"
Ha, I like this guy, too bad he had to make us go full anime mode.
>>
>>4631568
What can I say, the meaner they are, the harder I fall
>>
>>4631910
Fucking tsuntards...
>>
He drew the broad knife from his belt and lunged at me with a snarl.

"I always wondered how many Indians Jim Bowie gutted with his knife," he said, slashing for my chest, "Always figure its one more than what I done, so I've always got to gut one more!"

His threats meant nothing though I saw the murder on his soul. He'd killed plenty.

But the blade of his knife couldn't find me, caught in his prosthetic grip. The half-machine mercenary now without his machine soldiers. I caught his knife hand, turning it over, squeezing my fingers into the mechanical wrist to crumple it, plastic fingers spasming. His boot caught me in the gut, then swung up for the side of my head. I grabbed the side of my head, dropping to block, taking the boot on the back of my hand. I heard the mechanics in his shins. His legs were fake too.

"Shit on you," he said. He dropped his knife from his crippled prosthetic and caught it in the other, slashing for my belly. I stepped back, the cut of the knife a white line between us.

"Ixion wants the stone," he panted, knife out front, swishing back and forth, "But I figure they can get the same out of you."

"When you said you'd rape the girl, did you mean it?" my voice was strange to my own ears, a flat monotone. There was no 'Eric' in my voice.

"What?" he said, "You worryin' about that now? Shit when I'm done here I'll find her and take it extra slow."

He meant it.

We lunged as one, his blade stabbing for my throat. I drove my fist hard into his jaw. Like punching into concrete, pain raced down my hand. He swung back, spitting up teeth. I stepped back.

He staggered side to side, then lunged in again. I sidestepped, my fist driving his mess of a nose into the back of his face. I could feel the crunch of his cheek bones shattering. He stood, knife out in front of him, spitting out the splinters of his teeth, groaning through a thick stream of blood. How he stood I didn't know.

Maybe he was too mean to fall.

"Cunt, bleeding cunt," he bubbled, "Cut you a cunt."

But he sank to his knees, knife dropped rom his fingers.

I stood over him, white fire blazing.

He shook on his knees, a tear running out from his swollen eyes.

I leaned down. I made no threats. "Don't go near her," I said.

He choked, nodding. I knew he wouldn't.

"Next time," I said, stepping over to the building ledge, "Bring an army."

Then I vaulted over into dark space, the wind whistling around me as I dived toward the city lights below.
>>
>>4631916
Eh she's not that bad, and I'd say she's less tsundere and more just bitch, which I admit, is pretty fucking kino
>>
>>4631923
Dang we shoulda broke the rest of his prosthetics

maximum financial hit
>>
>>4631933
On the bright side though he's defeated, even if he brings an army next time, hopefully by then though we'll make a few new parahuman friends
>>
>>4631925
>tsundere and more just bitch
There's a difference?
>which I admit is pretty fucking kino
How in anyway is that kino? You must really not know what that word means, try "annoying."
>>
>>4631936
One is bipolar, the other is just a bitch, least that's how I see, but you do you man, everyone's got their own tastes
>>
>>4631951
So you concede?
>>
>>4631935
I think we’ve suitably scared them off for awhile, now that they know that we are a higher threat then they first estimated they’ll probably take some time to think up a new strategy, time we can use to get ahead of some stuff and train our powers.
>>
Water rushed over me. I was in the shower. I don't remember coming home.

Everything was hazy, including my vision. I felt weak. Lifting my hand took effort, walking was a chore. Something had happened last night, on the way back from meeting Dr Zamani. I'd been attacked, or I'd attacked someone. Bloodhound? Houndmaster? It came to me a ship through a fog, a dark outline taking on detail the closer it came.

Houndmaster. Ixion. The stone. A mercenary hired by Ixion to steal the stone. He'd had...robots? Broke them, broken like toys. I came out of the shower, steam swirling around me. Baked hot, not a drop of cold in the water, but I didn't feel it. Didn't feel anything except a hollowness, needing to be filled. Got dressed, got out. Hadn't felt like this since the first day, maybe not even then. I went into the fridge. Something crunched in my mouth, then something oily spilled over my tongue. Eggs, whole uncooked eggs with the shell still on. I ate half a dozen. Then bananas, without removing the skin. I drank a gallon of milk, threw away the empty bottle. More, I ate an apple, core and all.

Taste didn't matter.

I ate and then I dropped into a chair, staring.

A whistle from the bedroom door. Dad came out. I looked and winced, a flash of silver brilliance that soon faded until it was just my dad there, smiling.

"Morning kid," he said.

Morning? Had I slept?

"You okay, you look a little sick," he said.

"No," I said, "No, I'm fine."

My brain began to organize itself. I wasn't tired, just not together. I shook it off.

"Shouldn't you be catching the bus?" he said.

Bus? School. School!

"Uh, yeah!" I said, popping onto my feet, "Yeah, got to go Dad. Love you.'

He chuckled. "I love you too son," he said as I ran out the door, then ran back for my book bag.

I reached the bus just before it could roll on.

School.

"Hey dude, you finish your math homework?" Zeke said.

"I'll catch up at recess," Dane replied.
>>
>>4631976
A fair point, and hey maybe by then we'll have a better image, make it harder for them to attack in public, cause I for one am looking forward to the day Chicago one day loves hotspur
>>
We were kicking it toward class. I was as there as I was going to get, last night growing hazier as I went, which was more distracting than helpful. Everything was clear until I got jumped by Houndmaster, then stuff started to become a blur.

"You know that guy Ayesha came to school with yesterday? He came to school with her again," Zeke moaned, "Who is he anyway?"

"You don't know? He was a senior here last year. Heard he got into UC on a football thing."

"So he's what, eighteen? Man that's not right."

"Maybe you could ask her out," I said, "Maybe she'll say yes."

Zeke got quiet after that. "What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving anyway?" he said, breaking the silence, "My dad's dragging us down to Arthur to see his folks."

"Dad wants to head back to Indiana for a week, catch up with the family," I said, "Probably stay with the grandparents in Indianapolis, see my cousins." I wasn't looking forward to it.

"Probably the usual," Dane said, "My sister is flying up from New York for it."

"Hey yo," Zeke slapped a hand across my chest, slowing us down.

Standing at the front of the school was two familiar sights. Detective Bohauer, round in her coat, chewing on a toothpick, with Special Agent Penderose hunched like a vulture by her side.

"Those assholes," Zeke said.

"You know them?" Dane replied.

"Yeah, they took the Creep into custody after Eric smacked down his para-freak ass," Zeke replied, "They're some kind of para-freak police." I twitched at the term but didn't say anything. It looked like Penderose was staring right at me, across the green lawn. A nervous throb started in my neck.

"Shit," Dane said. I looked back at him, naked fear in his eyes. "How'd they know? Oh shit," he backed up.

"What's wrong?" Zeke said but Dane was turning around fast the other way, as behind us Agent Penderose strode up, Bohauer his reluctant shadow.

"Ah, we meet again," Penderose said, "Eric Miller, our valiant little para-freak slayer."

I was caught looking between him and Dane's retreating back.

"I'd like a word with you, Mr Miller, if you're willing," he said.

"What?" I said.

"If you could please come this way," Agent Penderose said, gesturing toward the school.

>no way
>follow him
>>
>>4631985
>follow him
Maybe cover dane, he probably has some powers judging by his reaction
>>
>follow him, keep their focus completely on you and away from the very suspect teenager walking away.

There’s nothing wrong, they have no suspicions on us and they’re just asking questions, Dane however definitely either has powers or he knows someone that has powers, either way we should draw attention.
>>
>>4631985
>follow him

We haven't slain anyone.
>>
>>4631994
Support
>>
>>4631994
Agreed
>>
>>4631985
>follow him
>>
>>4631988
>>4631996
>>4632001
>>4632003
>>4632004
>>4631994
locked in
>>
"What's this about?" I asked, following him inside but wanting to follow after Dane. Maybe if Agent Penderose kept his attention on me he wouldn't notice the boy walking briskly away.

They had a classroom set up for interviews, some other students milling around the front. I gave Rufus a head nod before following the DPA guys inside. It looked like most of the basketball team was being questioned.

"On Saturday night you had a game of basketball," Penderose said. I took a seat at the lone desk set in front of the teacher's desk. Bohauer sat on the teacher's desk, pudgy fingers laced in her lap. Penderose stalked around me with his fixed, unpleasant smile. "You did quite well I'm told, until the other team called on some less than usual talent."

I didn't try to follow the stalking circle he made around the desk.

"DeShawn Phillips," he said, "Now calling himself 'Thunderchild'. A para...normal boy." He smiled, remembering how I'd reacted to the use of 'para-freak' at Ayesha's. Penderose was sharper than I'd given him credit for, I'd learned that the hard way during my TV interview. Not that he knew that.

"You spoke with him after the game," he said. It wasn't a question.

"Yeah, I did. Do you want to know what it was about?"

"Not particularly," Penderose said, stopping by my shoulder, "I'm more interested if you've stayed in touch with him since. You see DeShawn Phillips is a suspect in a recent bank robbery. Prime suspect you could say. We wish to talk to him."

"I don't know him, or anything about him," I said.

"Do you get angry, Eric?" he said.

The question took me off track.

"Your mother passed away recently. Puberty and grief are a dangerous mix."

"What's that got to do with anything?" I said.

"Despite it you're a dilligent student, something of a star athlete. Something of a model student really. A few absences but nothing unusual. You missed some excitement though, you were sick the day Hotspur visited your school. Unfortunate."

"If you say so." A numbness climbed into my belly.

"Your friends speak fairly well about you," he said, "Your girlfriend Kaylee Whitman, she seems particularly well taken with you. As did Ayesha Carver. Something of a love triangle?" I wanted to punch the smile off his face. "Popular with the girls either way. Why not? You're a good looking boy with the spice of tragedy on your shoulders."

"I wasn't so lucky when I was in school," Penderose said, near regretfully.

"Is this about me, or about Thunderchild?" I said, growing hot under my shirt. Hot and angry. "What's got you so interested in me anyway?"
>>
"It's not everyday you meet a boy capable of taking down an invisible man with his bare hands," Penderose said, "Or one with the sand to stare down an experienced agent of the FBI."

"Your father is in some financial trouble, isn't he?"

My jaw tightened, so did my fist.

I looked to Bohauer. "Is your partner always this much of an asshole?"

She smiled. "You ain't seen him with his dander up yet," she said.

"What I'm suggesting, Eric," Penderose said, sitting on the desk next to me, "Is we are in a position to help each other. I have a feeling Hotspur is connected to the student body here somehow. I also believe there are other para...normal people here. I could help your financial situation, with your medical bills, in exchange for your help."

"I'd like you to work help the DPA track and discover paranormal students," he said, "Keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour. Friends acting...unnaturally. Any information you'd bring would be of considerable value."

"You want me to be a rat."

He smiled. "A well paid rat."

>go fuck yourself
>...I'll think about it
>I'll do it, for the right price

-
last post for the day, I'll leave the vote open until I get back tomorrow
>>
>>4632079
>go fuck yourself
>"Why even make this offer? I don't hate paras like you do, and I don't like you as a person."

At first I was like yeah let's accept and feed him false info, but he's big brain enough that he'd know we were accepting with ulterior motives and might try to get us on aiding criminals later. Should assume he knows or heavily suspects we're Hotspur.
>>
>>4632079
>I'd like you to work help
me am a literate pearson
>>
>>4632079
>...I'll think about it
Way I see it we tell them this and eventually say no, hell might keep him guess of we're hotspur or not
>>
>>4632079
>not interested
I don't want to be too rude (even if he deserves it). If this doesn't gain popular support, count it as
>go fuck yourself
>>
>>4632096
+1
Keep him the dark as long as possible
>>
>>4632096
+1 to this as first choice

Second choice is >>4632097
>>
>>4631859
I'm not saying she's better than Kay, I'm saying she's a flawed character but not a genuinely bad person. I like Kay.

Also nothing to do with headcanon, and betting 10 bucks on something doesn't mean I think it's a fact. IIRC someone has straight-up stated or at least heavily implied that Ivy is Bi and that she and Kay were very close by the end of their friendship, and with how smug Kay was earlier I think it's a possibility. Not really important though, I'm just tossing around theories.
>>
>>4632088
Supporting this
Keep your Cool-Aid Mr. Government Man
>>
>>4632079
>go fuck yourself
Is that all it takes to be DPA material? Beating up a nerdy asian kid and not being afraid of an FBI reject? That makes a lot of sense actually.
>>
>>4632397
Yeah a lot of crime agencies have weird requirements, hell iirc the CIA mostly wants accounts and what not cause they go after a lot of white collar crime
>>
>>4632397
>>4632088
>>4632292
>>4632097
locked in
>>
"Let me think about it," I said. I thought about it. "Nah, fuck you Agent Penderose, I'm no rat."

He stared at me, stared so long a twitch started in his cheek.

"I'm being very generous here with you, boy," he said, "You shouldn't spit on someone trying to help you."

"Here's the thing though. I don't like the DPA, I don't hate paras the way you do, and I don't like you Agent Penderose, I don't like you as a person. I won't drink your Kool-Aid and I won't rat on innocent people for the sake of your career. So again, fuck you and fuck the DPA."

Agent Penderose's face turned a shade of crimson as behind him Detective Bohauer chuckled.

"You said he had sand, kid has a whole beach," she said, grin like a jack-o-lantern, "Go on, get out of here kid before Penderose does something stupid."

I slid out of the desk and fixed the collar of my denim jacket.

"You're a remarkably stupid boy," Penderose snapped at me. I gave him the finger as I walked out. What can I say, I have a talent for making enemies.

Rufus was the next guy to shuffle into the classroom. "Don't let him get under your skin," I said, walking down the line toward my real class.

My focus now was on Dane, wondering where he was, why he was alarmed by the DPA. Was he a para too? He'd kept it on the down low, I hadn't even guessed.

We sat next to each other in biology. He looked pale, withdrawn. I was surprised, figured he'd have bailed on school after a scare like that.

"You okay?" I asked.

He nodded, focusing on his note paper.

"Can I tell you something Eric?" he said.

I shuffled a little closer.

"I haven't slept since the Explosion," he said. That was understandable, it was a weird night and it had unleashed weird things on the world.

"Anyone's bound to lose a little sleep," I said.

"No, you don't understand. I mean I literally haven't slept since the Explosion. I haven't fallen asleep in months. I just...don't need to sleep anymore. I don't get tired. Some nights I just sit up in bed staring at the wall. My brain keeps going. It doesn't matter what I do. I just..."

His voice was a harsh whisper, tears wetting his eyes. "I'm a para-freak, Eric."

Shit. He looked lost, terrified. I thought he might get up and run but he just sat there, shaking.

"God, I haven't done anything," he muttered to himself, "They can't lock me up if I haven't done anything."

I reached over and squeezed his shoulder. It brought his attention to me. He swallowed.

He needed to hear something, something to help hold back his fear.

"You've got your friends, you'll be okay," I said.

"Do you think...do you think I can tell them, can I trust them?" he said, "Can I trust you?"

>you can trust me, maybe not the others
>you can trust us, we're all looking out for you
>>
>>4633254
>you can trust me, maybe not the others
Honestly, it's kind of a big thing, and don't know how the others will take it
>>
>you can trust me, maybe not the others, I hate to say it but you know how they’ve been talking about Paranormals, THATS what you are not a freak. I don’t think they’d say the same if they knew you were one but I don’t think it’s worth risking, don’t worry I’m here for you and I’ll be sure to help you as much as I can.
>>
>>4633254
>"You already told me man, it's too late to not trust me now. I think you can trust our friends, they're good people. "
>>
>>4633254
>you can trust me, maybe not the others
>>
>>4633336
>>4633307
>>4633259
locked in
>>
"You can trust me," I said, "You kind of already have."

"I had to tell someone," he said, gripping his shaking hands together, "What about the others?"

"I don't know," I said, "You've heard how some of them go on about paranormals. I want to say they'd be cool with it."

"It's not like I'm violent, I haven't hurt anyone," he said, "It's not like my powers are anything cool like...like Semper Fi or Hotspur or anything."

"People don't have their heads on right now," I said, "Maybe keep it on the down low until things cool down. I think they'll accept you for who you are, eventually. But its too dangerous with the DPA sniffing around."

He nodded, rubbing at his tear-stained face.

"Yeah, okay, thanks Eric," he said, "You're right."

"I got your back," I said.

It was at lunch we sat down together, all of us, to talk about what had happened with the DPA. Dane kept quiet as we filled each other in.

"I figure if they want to find out who might be a para-freak, that's not the worst thing in the world," Rufus said.

"And if they are they'll just put them on a register," Hunter said, "It's only for the good of everyone else."

Kay's foot slid up my calf, sitting beside me hip to hip, her focus on our friends.

"No way am I snitching to a federal agency," Ayesha said, "Unless there's been a crime committed, its no one's business."

"But I mean like, if they are dangerous..." Kay said.

"I know I'd feel a lot safer if I knew who was a...paranormal," Daphne said, hugging herself, "The fact it could be anyone is so creepy."

Zeke just tapped his foot, glancing sideways at Dane. As I knew it they'd been friends since grade school or something. Dane kept his focus on the sandwich he was eating.

"If they're dangerous," Zeke said, "But I don't know about you guys, those cops didn't say anything about 'dangerous' paranormals. They wanted to know about everyone. Doesn't sound right to me."

"If I found out a friend of mine was a para-freak, I'd never turn them in."

"But there are para-freaks at the school, the cops pretty much said so," Daphne said, "Could it really hurt to keep an eye out?"

"One of us could be a para-freak and the rest of us wouldn't even know it," Hunter said.
>>
No one liked that thought, least of all the two para-freaks present. I tried not to look at Dane when he said it. Zeke was already suspicious. The silence built tension as we sat unhappily over our lunches.

"I figure anyone who snitches to the DPA is a motherfucker," I said, breaking the silence, "And they're no friend of mine if they do."

"But if there's a dangerous one," Dane said, "Maybe going to the cops isn't the worst idea. If they're dangerous..."

"I'll go to Hotspur first, thanks," Ayesha said.

"That psycho," Zeke muttered. Ayesha shot him a glare. An argument was brewing, the tension building to a thunderhead. My skin prickled. I really needed to do something about my negative image. Maybe I needed to start playing the social media game, get some positive coverage.

It was tiring being the bad guy, being judged and having to stay silent. The only person who still defended me was Ayesha, and everyone dismissed her as a fangirl.

"I don't know about psycho," Kay chimed in, "But he is crazy hot." Her hand slid over my thigh. I swallowed. "I mean, he's got the bad boy thing now too."

"He isn't a 'bad boy'," Ayesha said, "Don't believe the media, he's a boyscout!"

"I don't know, I bet he's got a real wild side," Kay said with a knowing smile.

"And that's me done," Zeke said, "If you girls are going to gush over a guy, I think I'd rather be in class."

"Like you weren't drooling over Ivy the other day," Kay said. Zeke winced at Ayesha's sharp look. As I figured he had it coming.

The bell rang sending us back to class.

It was a weird next couple of days. Everyone was suspicious of each other. The only relief I got from it was in the gym, working a bag, pouring out sweat with the jump rope. Or in my hideout, trying to figure out just what I'd done against Houndmaster.

I'd tapped into something, a deeper well of my power. It was more than I'd realized, more than physical too. But the power, like my memories of that night, kept slipping away when I tried to grasp it. But I knew I could do more than just punch hard or move fast.

I closed my eyes in the cold, empty warehouse. I stretched out my arms. I tried to find that empty mind I'd known, tried to quiet my thoughts. If I focused. If I listened...

My heart beat drumming in my chest, the pulse of my fire like a second heart beating against it.

The flap of a pigeon's wings in the field outside. The soft little scritching of a rat in the grass. My own breathing, filling the wide space I stood in. The chill on my arms, every hair standing on end. The distant roar of an aeroplane way overhead. The crunch of boots on gravel, not close but distant. Lonely footsteps on a cold morning.

I let it go with a gasp, dropping to my knees. My senses shrunk back into themselves.
>>
So I could do that too, boost my senses. I'd done it by instinct in the past when I'd fought the Creep, but now I was tapping into it deliberately. It took more of a toll. Another bullet in my gun at least.

I got to school fuelled by two day old powdered donuts.

And was almost immediately knocked over by Kay, buzzing with excitement, her face split in a grin.

"Eric, you won't believe it!" she said, hugging me around the neck, "I got the part!"

The part? She kissed me, a quick but hard kiss.

"Eponine!" she said, "Ivy dropped out, so they gave me the part instead! Mr Getty just told me."

"That's great," I said. Wait, Ivy dropped out of the musical?

"I can't wait," she said, then kissed me again. "Wish me luck?"

"Uh, good luck?" I said.

She shook her head. "I don't need luck, I've got you instead," then kissed me again before popping away, shivering in excitement, "Let's celebrate after school. Oh I can't wait to tell Ayesha!"

She sprinted away, earning a bark of 'slow down!' from Mr Sack as he patrolled the halls with all his usual unpleasantness, a young teacher following at his heels.

I was happy for Kay. She'd wanted the part so bad, and had been crushed when she'd been put in the chorus instead. Still, Ivy dropping out of the musical? I wondered why.

>go talk to Ivy, find out what's going on
>leave her alone, if it was important she'd tell me
>>
>>4633403
>go talk to Ivy, find out what's going on
Oh shit. I hope Grace is okay
>>
>>4633403
>go talk to Ivy, find out what's going on
Did something happen?
>>
>>4633403
>go talk to Ivy, find out what's going on
>>
>>4633403
>talk to Ivy
>>
>>4633492
>>4633451
>>4633411
>>4633410
locked in
>>
Something was up.

Class could wait, I went to look for Ivy.

I found her by her locker, getting some books out.

"Yo," I said. She brushed back her hair, not listening. The cold shoulder? I frowned, a spike of irritation. "Hey, if something is up you don't have to..." I said, then noticed the buds in her ears.

Oh, okay. I tapped her shoulder. She turned her head, cool as could be, plucking one of the buds out of her ears.

"Hey," I said.

"I heard you," she said, music pumping with a tinny pitch from the bud in her fingers. "What do you want?"

Okay now I was irritated. "Kay mentioned you dropped out of the play," I said.

"Did she?" she said, "Well I'm glad she's letting everyone know. I never wanted to play Eponine anyway."

"Is that why you dropped out?" I said.

"It's all a waste of time, why put in the energy playing a part I never wanted anyway?" she sighed, putting books in her bag. "But hey, maybe I did you a favor. This should get your perky little cheerleader right where you want her. You guys still haven't done it, right? Well I'm sure she's all kinds of ready now."

"What's that got to do with anything?" Christ I was just checking to see if she was okay and she just had to pick at me.

"Are you going to cry when you do it?" Ivy said, "The guy who took my cherry cried. He got really emotional until he was finished. My advice, don't cry, its just awkward. Frankly it was hard not to laugh at him."

I burned red. "You know Ivy, you're a hard person to be friends with," I snapped.

"Are we friends?" she snapped back, "You've known me what, a couple of months and you act like you know me. You don't know me, Eric. There isn't a nice girl hiding underneath this. I'm the bitch your girlfriend says I am."

"Go ahead, say it. I know you've thought it. I know everyone else says it. I'm a cold bitch," she said, "A cold emotionless bitch just like Mom always said."

She tried to shoulder her way by me but I didn't let her pass. Something in her words stung, and sent a flood of fire from my gut. She glared at me, her eyes saying 'let me go'.

'I know you,' my glare said.

"You had my back, I've got yours," I said, voice barely louder than a low growl, "Don't think you can push me out."

Something slapped against my chest. Ivy glared into my face, an expression so full of anger I thought she might hit me.

"Here," she pushed it harder against my chest, "Take it."

I looked down. I took it out of her hands. A second hand copy of Street Fighter IV.

"She would have wanted you to have it."
>>
I stared at it, heart stopping in my chest, growing cold all over. Ivy glared at me, hugging her bag to her chest, expression tight as she fought back whatever she was feeling with clenched teeth. The mask of anger was slipping, but she fought to keep it on.

"When?" my voice came out light and frightened.

"Three days ago," she said.

Three days. God.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Why, what did you do?"

She glared at me, then a sharp sound came from the back of her throat, the mask slipping again. "Just leave me alone. Stop pretending. Stop pretending you care."

>I'm not pretending
>why didn't you tell me?
>let her go
>>
>>4633586
>I'm not pretending
give her a hug, we're probably the only person who knows
>>
>>4633586
>I'm not pretending
try not to cry. cry a lot
>>
>>4633591
Supporting this, jeez Ivy's had it rough
>>
>>4633586
>why didn't you tell me?

Wow. I thought she had a lot longer left. Months at least.
>>
>>4633625
Same, at the very least till after Thanksgiving
>>
>>4633613
Support
>>
>>4633614
>>4633613
>>4633591
>>4633666
locked in
>>
I grabbed her arms, pulling closer to her. It was hard to breathe, my throat filled with a painful knot.

"I'm not pretending," I said, "I'm not pretending, Ivy."

She glared up at me over clenched teeth. She shook. Those eyes of hers, cold blue river stones.

"I hate you," she said, pushing at my chest, grabbing at my shirt, shaking as she tried to pull free.

"That's okay," I said, pulling her closer, pulling my arms around her. She choked, fingers digging into my shirt.

"She's gone," she said it so soft even holding her I barely heard it, "She's really gone."

I looked to her.

'I'm alone,' her stare said.

'You aren't alone,' my own replied.

Her face scrunched up, ugly and pink. The terrible choking in her throat grew louder, tears bubbling in her eyes.

"I'm sorry," I said, tears building in my throat, "I'm sorry."

I didn't cry at my own mother's funeral but I was crying now. For the bald little girl all covered in tubes, smiling for her sister, trying to be strong. For the sister in my arms, trying to choke back tears.

"She was nine years old," Ivy said, "Only nine years old."

"I love her. I loved her. Oh God I never told her how much...how are there words for how much I..."

The choking in her throat became an ugly hiccup, which became a sob. She buried her face in my shoulder to try to hide it, hot tears and ugly sobs buried into my neck. I held her with my own tears falling in her hair, not saying anything. There were no words for what Ivy was feeling, nothing that could slow the grief or the tears. No words should.

I hadn't cried at my own mother's funeral. Not when they'd laid her casket down, not when we'd gone to the wake. Not home, alone in my bed. Not months later. It had become a twisted knot inside me, too ugly to untie. It came loose now. For Mom in her hospital bed, for Grace in hers. For Dad, and Ivy, for me too.

She shook in my arms and against my chest, shook with each hard sob.

But no one could cry for ever. Her shaking settled into trembling, the sobs into hard, heaving breaths. I don't know how long we stood there, or if anyone noticed. I didn't care.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, "I don't hate you."

"I know," I said. Three days and she hadn't said a word to anyone. Three days at school joking and talking like nothing had changed. "Do you want to go?" I said.

"Where would I go?" she said, "Home? There's no one there. School is the only place where there's anyone...and even here, who would notice?"

I noticed. I wanted to say it but I could only say it by rubbing her back, soft circles the way mom did when I'd get upset.

>I'll take you anywhere you want to go
>let her go to class
>>
>>4633758
>I'll take you anywhere you want to go
>>
>>4633758
>I'll take you anywhere you want to go
As a wise old grandma once told us, everyone needs a break, and ivy seems like she needs a break
>>
>>4633758
>I'll take you anywhere you want to go
>>
>>4633758
>let her go to class

I dunno guys we have a gf
>>
>>4633774
Support
>>
>>4633799
Yeah, but Ivy's a friend and in pain, best we can do is take her away from a lot of stress at school, even for a day
>>
>>4633799
We’re supporting a friend who’s sister just died, it’s not in anyway suspect.
>>
>>4633758
>I'll take you anywhere you want to go
>>
>>4633773
>>4633774
>>4633779
>>4633804
>>4633874
locked in

but the update will be tomorrow
>>
>>4633884
See ya then bullpen
>>
>>4633586
>let her go
>>
>>4633758
>let her go to class
>>
Well shit, I didn't expect these feels. Thought we'd have at least a few session until things become bad with Grace.
I'm sadder than I should be over an imaginary 9yo, but she was such a cutie. Too good for this world.
I can't help but feel like something is going to happen with that situation, but that's probably just because many QMs would either make a story arc about 'saving the little girl' or make her a para whose power revives them once but with a stronger body and wings or something along those lines.

I hope we can become a bro for Ivy, help her rekindle her friendship with Kay and be a nicer person in general.
>>
>>4634377
Agreed
>>
"I'll take you anywhere you want to go," I said.

She sunk her head against her chest, wiping tears from her cheeks.

"There's...there's one place," she said.

-

Officially it was called Willis Tower, but no one called it that. It was the Sears Tower, always was, always will be. It stood head and shoulders over the rest of the city, looking over the Chicago river, dominating the skyline. We touched down on the roof, the tallest point in the city. Ivy had been quiet the whole time, maybe a nervous breath the first time I'd picked her up, hugging me tight as I bounded across the city. I'd stopped only to change, a detour at my hide out, Ivy waiting outside while I changed into my costume.

Now, just the two of us on the roof, I pulled off my hood, my mask, goggles pulled up. It was cold up here, the wind coming hard from the lake with a winter bite. It didn't bother Ivy. She untied the jacket around her waist, pulling it on, zipping it up.

Heights didn't bother her either. She went to the side of the building, looking down at the long drop to the city below. Sears Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the world. 110 floors, over fourteen hundred feet down.

"I've always wondered what was up here," she said. Not much as it turned out.

Standing near the edge she crossed one foot behind the other, raised an arm high. "Fourth position," she said, then extended her leg out behind her, balancing on one foot, her upper body turning horizontal. Too close to the edge.

"I didn't know you did ballet," I said.

She straightened up, lowering her arms. "Once upon a time," she said, "I was good at it too, but...it didn't take."

She straightened up to look out across the city sprawl, the blue sky wide above us, disappearing into the blue waters of Lake Michigan on the horizon. Wind caught her golden hair, streaming it out behind her in wild, whipping curls.

"There's a lot you don't know about me, Eric," she said.

"It's beautiful," she said. "I've lived in Chicago my whole life, I've never seen it like this," she said, "So large and small at the same time."

"Nine million people and we're just two of them," she said, "With one less now. How could anyone notice?" She reached out as if to touch the city, hold it in her fingers. "Grace never got the chance to see it," she said, "Never got the chance to grow up, to fall in love, to have her heart broken. To screw up and make mistakes and make up for them. She never got the chance to be ugly, or beautiful, or a mess. She'll never get the chance to know if she likes beer or not, if she likes boys or girls or...She never got to live."

The wind cleared the silent tears from her cheeks, whipping past me like drops of rain. I listened, right now she just needed to talk.
>>
"I hated you, when I first saw you," Ivy said, "Everyone knew about your mom. I thought you were using it for sympathy, to get people to like you. Everyone started to like you so quickly. Maybe there's something wrong with me to think that. Maybe I was jealous."

"When Grace first got sick, I hated the sympathy," she said, "Their tears. God it was nauseating. It drove me crazy. I did stupid things. Maybe I wanted to see how far I could push their sympathy, maybe I wanted to just feel something else. Something other than guilt. I hated Grace for getting sick, the first time. How evil do you have to be to hate a little girl for getting sick? Maybe I knew, the doctors said she had a good chance, she'd beat it. But I knew, even when it went into remission, while everyone fawned over what a brave little girl she was. She wasn't brave, she was just...sick, just sick the way kids shouldn't get sick. But she beat it and everyone called her a hero. I hated it."

"But then she got sick the second time, and the doctors stopped talking about recovery. No one brought up remission. They pumped her full of chemicals, pumped her full of drugs knowing it wouldn't help. Our parents ran away, they couldn't stomach what was happening, couldn't admit the truth. And I knew how awful I was for hating her."

"I'm sorry," she said into the wind, "I'm sorry Grace. I'm sorry. Please! I'm sorry!"

"I love you! I loved you! I don't hate you! I never hated you! God, I'm sorry, please!"

She lurched toward the edge of the building and for a terrifying moment I thought she'd tumble off, but she buckled and fell to her knees, sobbing hard in the wind.

"I didn't tell anyone, I couldn't stand it. The sympathy. I didn't want it, I don't want it."

"Where would I be right now, if you hadn't found out?" now she looked back to me, the quiet tears lingering in her eyes, "Even more alone."

"Are your parents coming back?" I said.

"I don't know. I don't know if I want them to. I need to...I need to arrange the funeral."

"You don't have any other family?" I said, "No one in the city."

"My mother's family, but they're all in the Ukraine. We aren't...we aren't close."

"Will you be all right on your own?" I said.

Her smile was bitter and lonely. "I've been alone this long, what difference does it make?"

>maybe you can stay at my place for a couple of days, you shouldn't be alone
>maybe see if a friend can take Ivy in, Ayesha or someone
>maybe Ivy knows what's best for herself, and I should stay out of it
>>
>>4635275
>maybe see if a friend can take Ivy in, Ayesha or someone
See if she's okay with it, then if she doesn't we can always offer to let her stay with us, shit I feel bad for Ivy :(
>>
>>4635275
>maybe you can stay at my place for a couple of days, you shouldn't be alone
>maybe see if a friend can take Ivy in, Ayesha or someone
either one honestly, it's her call
>>
>>4635275
>maybe you can stay at my place for a couple of days, you shouldn't be alone
This is suffering.
>>
>>4635285
Backing this actually >>4635285
she should expand her support network
>>
>>4635285
Support
>>
>>4635349
>>4635336
>>4635285
locked in
>>
>>4635275
>maybe you can stay at my place for a couple of days, you shouldn't be alone
>>
"Maybe you could stay with a friend, Ayesha or someone," I said.

"Ayesha?" Ivy said.

"Maybe," I said with a shrug. All I knew is she needed someone. I didn't feel confident inviting her to stay at mine.

"Maybe," she said, looking back down over the city, "Do you think...think she'd say yes?"

"I do," I said. If there was anyone who would it would be Ayesha.

"I just don't want to come between her and Kaylee," she said, "I don't think there's any fixing what happened there."

"What did happen there?" I asked. I'd been curious for a while, but too nervous to ask either of them.

"She betrayed me," Ivy said, "But I guess I betrayed her first. Took advantage of her...feelings for me."

That made something stir inside me, anxious and unpleasant.

"You guys, was it romantic?" I asked.

"For her," Ivy said, staring into the wind, "For me it was a distraction, something to take my mind off a terrible mistake. Turned out I just made a bigger one. I knew how she felt, I pulled her into my chaos, I used her. When things got too wild she went to the school, the police. She turned me in. If it wasn't for my dad's money, what was happening with Grace, I might have gone to jail."

"It was my fault but...but I can't forgive her."

"What did you do?" I said.

"The last thing?" her smile was bittersweet, "I tried to kill a teacher."

"Don't worry," she said, "He isn't around anymore."

I know she's not a virgin, and you wouldn't believe who.

A hot, bitter taste filled my mouth.

She looked down one last time, down on the city. The wind blew locks of gold across her pale face, masking her expression.

Then with a long sigh she looked back to me. "Thanks Eric," she said, "We can go."

I pulled down my goggles, pulled up my mask.

"All right," I said, lifting her up in my arms, "Let's go."
>>
I'll be back in a sec
>>
>>4635275
>maybe Ivy knows what's best for herself, and I should stay out of it
s u f f e r
>>
>>4635400
I am always late
>>
I stopped by my hideout to get changed back into my normal clothes.

"I like it, very brutalist," Ivy said, looking around with her back to me as I stripped down. I pulled on my jeans, my shirt, my denim jacket. "It could use a bit of decoration though." Her fingers went over the chunk I'd punched out of a pillar.

"It does its job," I said. When I was dressed she picked up my goggles, pulled them on while flashing a smile.

"How do I look?" she said, throwing me a peace sign.

I snorted. I wasn't in the space for laughing but she got one out of me.

"Generally speaking, laughing at a girl's appearance is a big no-no," she said, swinging the goggles around her finger.

We hopped the chain fence, walking down to a bus station. She pulled out a smoke while we did, lit it up.

"I'm thinking about quitting," she said, wetting the filter between her lips, "Maybe tomorrow."

We didn't talk much on the bus ride back to the north side of the city, back toward the school. Neither of us were in the mood for class, and when we got back we mostly killed time up at a nearby strip mall. Waiting for school to let out. Ivy picked up lunch from the Wendy's across the street.

"You know what's weird," she said as we ate burgers, the both of us leaning by a dumpster, "I've only known you a couple months but..."

"What?" I said.

"I think you might be my best friend, is that sad?" she sucked down pop, looking straight ahead.

I shrugged. "No, maybe," I said, "I'm not the best judge of that stuff. I don't have a lot of friends."

Now it was Ivy's turn to laugh. "Eric, you're one of the most popular guys in our grade," she said.

That didn't sound right. It didn't feel right either. Like when Kay said I was good looking it was hard to believe her. I'm not good looking, I'm normal, even bland.

"You're friends with the seniors, you're friends with the nerds, you're even friends with me," she said, "And I'm not friends with anyone."

"You really don't see yourself, do you?"

I shrugged, focusing on the burger, staring straight ahead.

"Who the hell just makes friends with a sick little girl in a hospital, one he doesn't even know?"

"Anyone, I don't know," I said, frowning.

"Nobody does that," she said.

I bit down the last of the burger, frown growing furious. "Don't make me out to be a good guy," I said, "Don't think I'm better than I am."

"Eric, you are literally a superhero," she countered.
>>
Fucking hell. I checked my phone, just to look away from her smile. I had a couple of messages.

Kay - hey, where are you?

It made my guts squirm with guilt. An irrational guilt.

Rufus - Dude is there something up with Dane?

Dane - Can we talk? I think I need to talk.

I chewed up the last bit of burger in my mouth, washed it down with pop.

"Ok," Ivy said, "Ok, I should talk to Ayesha, right? I should...tell her, ask her. How do I even ask? What do I say?"

I looked up at Ivy. She was nervous, even frightened. It was a weird look on her, didn't suit her, and Ayesha was no one to be scared of.

>Don't worry, I'll go with you
>You can handle this, Ivy
>>
>>4635500
>Don't worry, I'll go with you
She'll be a bitch at first. It's all she knows. And when she does, we'll be there to smooth it out. If she isn't a bitch, all the better.
>>
>>4635500
>Don't worry, I'll go with you
Then text back kay, tell her Ivy needed a friend and we're taking her to yesha's, after that we can text dane with the time it'll take after dropping ivy off and meet him somewhere, iirc Kay knows we're friends with Ivy and if worse comes to wear we tell her about Grace
>>
>>4635504
Also we can mention to Rufus that we think Dane might not be getting enough sleep, wouldn't be lying but also doesn't through Dane under the bus
>>
>>4635500
>You can handle this, Ivy
>>
>>4635500
>Don't worry, I'll go with you
>>
>>4635503
>>4635504
Don’t worry bros, she’s got this.
>>
>>4635500
>You can handle this, Ivy
>>
>>4635548
I don't doubt she does, but I'm voting to go to show support
>>
>>4635500

>Don't worry, I'll go with you

also
>"Eric, you are literally a superhero," she countered.

Not a popular superhero. Not like Semper Fi. People are calling us a psycho.
>>
>>4635537
Changing to "you got this"
>>
>>4635575
Hopefully we can change that, it might take some time but it'll be worth the effort
>>
>>4635573
Bro she’s got this cmon
>>
>>4635575
Honestly I don't care what people think about us. Also Ivy's a big girl. We did our part, we can't just babysit her for the rest of time. We've likely got some impending relationship drama with Kay to deal with after our day out with Ivy too.
>>
>>4635639
The rest of time sure, but I think we can manage a few days for the death of essentially her last living relative.
>>
>>4635639
This is why I changed my vote guys. We can't babysit Ivy and hold her hand every step of the way when we have a gf. Even though I'm in the Ivy fanclub, this will only bring problems further down the road. I truly believe Ivy is the best, but she can't be the best if we coddle her like this
>>
>>4635650
This is my thought process, the wound is still fresh and showing support and being there is what friends are for
>>
>>4635652
A fair counter point, honestly I'm fine with either outcome I'm just worried to Rufus and Dane, maybe we can get Dane to tell Rufus about his powers, they've been friends since forever iirc
>>
I think we're tied

so I'll give it ten minutes for a tie break then flip a coin if it doesn't
>>
>>4635660
Eh, I'll change my vote, but maybe ask her if she okay going by herself
>>
>>4635666
you're the goat, also checked
>>
>>4635670
Eh, would rather just have my option lose, and it's not THAT big if a deal, still think we should tell Kay we were helping Ivy though
>>
okay

letting Ivy handle it wins

locked in
>>
>>4635679
ahahaAHAHAHAAHHAHA YOU FELL FOR YOU FOOLS HAHAHAHA
>>
"You'll know what to say," I said, "Trust me Ivy, you can handle this. You're stronger than you think."

"Okay," she said. She walked forward, then turned back.

"You know what's weird?" she said, "I do."

"What?" I said.

"Trust you," she said.

I coughed, trying not to blush. She looked down to her feet.

"So," she said, taking a heavy breath, "I guess its time to go."

We dumped our trash in the dumpster and I walked with her back to school. But when the bell rang and the students started pouring I hung back, watching. Ivy went across the field nervously, casting a look back to me. But she didn't stop. She took a post by the entrance, waiting for Ayesha to come out.

I watched from under a tree. I watched Ayesha come out, Ivy take her by the hand. Take her aside. Too far away to hear. I leaned back on the tree, watching.

For now, it was all I could do.
>>
>>4635690
Fell for what?
>>
and I'll be back next week. hope you guys had fun.
>>
>>4635698
Was lots of fun bullpen, you gonna archive this then?
>>
>>4635698
Thanks for running! Great fun as always.
>>
>>4635709
Its only on page 4

if it drops down to page 7 or something after the weekend, maybe
>>
>>4635717
Alright, see you next week then man!
>>
Ivy:
pretends to be bitchy, is actually nice
understands the loss of a family member
borderline telepathic communication with Eric
Kay:
usually nice with some bitchy tendencies
thinks Eric is hot

am I missing anything from the comparison here fellas the choice seems obvious
>>
>>4635739
You: Retard with shit taste

Am I missing anything or you still going to shill for chloe 2.0?
>>
>>4635768
Chloe? I have no idea what you're talking about
>>
>>4635775
>>
>>4635768
I think you might be projecting a bit my dude
>>
>>4635780
Yeah, I don't really see the comparison between her and Ivy
>>
>>4635780
Yeah idk who that is. You seem very angry about her tho
>>
>>4635795
That's one of the characters from life is strange, never played it myself but it's one of the more popular telltale clones, had some pretty cringe dialogue iirc
>>
>>4635782
I’m not your buddy pal, what misfired neuron in that empty coconut shell of a skull makes you think ivy in anyway compares to Kay? I will assblast you to fucking kingdom come, I suggest you concede this ‘argument’ before it turns into a slaughter. Your waifu is shit and you’ll just have to live with that, you do not know how absolutely fucked you are if you try in anyway to make an argument saying otherwise. I will unleash nuclear fallout onto this thread and it’ll be you and any tsuntard faggots that DARE try to insinuate any more slights against the absolute GODDESS that is Kay.
>>
>>4635836
Ok boomer
>>
>>4635856
Ok you shitbrained sub zero iq zoomer. See? I can use the funny buzz word as well. This is the last time I’m giving you the chance to concede, this isn’t a joke, this isn’t a game. Don’t make me do this anon.
>>
>>4635883
Ok boomer
>>
When I think of hotspur, I think of cave story spur gun....will we shoot giant charged lasers beams?
>>
>>4635886
Fuck your carpet munching cringe ass wannabe boss bitch theater kid, fuck her bowling ball head ass hadouken spamming rat sister, fuck all the harem fags and tsuntards trying to get us with her, fuck her little 'delinquent with a heart of gold' sob story bullshit, fuck the way she talks, fuck the way she walks, fuck the way she looks, fuck her friends, fuck her family and fuck you. Forget the bitch's sister I'm getting cancer just reading your shit opinions. How about you project this dick into your mouth you cock-sucking shit-munching faggot, imagine having a waifu so bad the negress is 100 times better, imagine continuing to shill for said waifu after we've already gotten a girlfriend. How do you bear with the smell wafting from your keyboard every time you type out one of your shit opinions? There must constantly be flies in your house attracted to the smell of all that shit. You disgust me. I feel truly sorry for anyone who has to interact with you on a daily basis, I can feel neurons blinking out just trying to bear the thought of having to stand next to, let alone interact with someone so retarded. Do the world a favor and just shut the fuck up, the world would be 100 times better knowing there was one less knuckle dragging retard to listen to.
>>
>>4635972
Ok boomer
>>
>>4635994
https://youtu.be/RXOuzytkHGA
>>
Soooo. I really don't like Kay at all after rereading the story so far. From everything I have seen, she is a shallow narcissist, a backbiter, and a spoiled child. If at all possible I will vote to try and end things with her despite knowing that if Eric does break it off, she will probably rat on him or at least blackmail him using her knowledge that we are Hotspur.

On the other hand, Ivy has shown to be a really multifaceted and human character, one with issues and an attitude, but still has come off as more empathetic than Kay. Hell she even helped with the Creep, hands on and all.

Kay really doesn't deserve us but people still went for here because of first girl syndrome combined with anons not being able to handle a romantic interest with actual complexity.
>>
>>4636049
Kay has definitely hinted at having some big character flaws but I don’t want to judge her too harshly for them til I see how she acts when the chips are down. Sometimes people surprise themselves, let alone others.

That said I am worried a lack of maturity or character will cause her to throw Eric under the bus at some point, but she could undergo character development too over the course of the story.

Regardless Eric and Kay dating each other didn’t feel forced by anons so much as the writing just leading up to it. They both thought the other was cute, and even her friend tried to get Eric to ask her out. Like I get it might feel like the writer forced it but it also just feels like a natural result of Eric and Kay’s characters at the time.
>>
>>4636101
This is my thought process for the most part, and honestly I don't see Kay being that bad, all things considered it feels like a relationship with a couple of teens. I'm hoping with time Kay gets more character growth. Even more so cause both she and Eric and still young and early into their relationship.
>>
>>4636049
I like the potential for character development that Kay has.
>>
>>4636049
I too hate kay, but she's just kind of a teenage bitch and needs a lot of growing up to do.

Plus I consider her the Gwen Stacy of our superhero story, later on down the line she'll betray us/die/grow apart from us and the relationship will be over, and then we'll be free to choose another relationship or even just stay single for a while

>>4635660
Bull, this is just an idea but I think if we manage to take down the kingpin bitch then we should have a timeskip so that we don't just play as the teenage superhero for the entire quest

>freshman arc (we start mastering our power and building up our image,also might take down or severely damage one of the organizations c