April 14th, 2011, Thursday, 10:59 AM.
The news had been stuck in a constant cycle for the last few days, repeatedly showing the same clips at every opportunity and every single time I saw them I would find myself a little more annoyed. ‘Lung defeated by Armsmaster: The battle for Brockton Bay!’ was the headline streaming across the banner at the bottom of the newscast.
Lung was currently being held in a secure facility while they completed his trial, a trial that was being held despite Lung’s absence, he would most likely be sent straight to the Birdcage with all of the crimes he was responsible for. Dangerous capes tended to have amazingly fast trials because there was always a constant danger of them making a breakout attempt or being a recipient of one. Lung was apparently not in any condition to be moved anywhere after his battle against ‘Armsmaster’.
Neither I nor Bitch’s dogs could have done any lasting damage to the man, not anything that he couldn’t immediately walk off anyway. The only person that could have caused the extended stay in critical condition was the bug-girl, probably from filling Lung’s body up with more poison than blood.
Strangely enough, there was absolutely no mention of me, the Bug-girl, or the Undersiders in the news coverage. Armsmaster had totally jacked our cred, what a total asshole. I would have to get him back for that eventually.
I turned off the TV when they restarted the clip of Armsmaster shaking hands with Roy Christner, who was still the mayor of Brockton Bay.
I could not stand the circle-jerk any longer.
My phone rang sometime later, it was Coil with another task. The Undersiders were supposedly out doing a job for him but they had been pinned down, and they needed someone to assist with their escape, primarily as a distraction so that they could get past the heroes that had them surrounded. This seemed to be becoming a reoccurring theme for them.
Had I actually been hired as the Undersider’s babysitter?
I told Coil that I would be there soon, fortunately for everyone involved I had spent the last two days practicing a little special something for the next time I had to baffle someone with bullshit, and this was looking like it just might be the perfect time to use it. I stared at where my portable stereo sat on the shelf.
It was time.
April 14th, 2011, Thursday, 11:05 AM.
When I arrived at the Brockton Bay central bank, I immediately realized that it hadn't changed much, not from the outside at least. It also brought with it a tidal wave of memories that I was most definitely not ready for, of planning, laughing, and messing around with the Full Frontals before it had all gone wrong. I shook my head in a failed attempt to disperse the thoughts plaguing me and tried to focus on my surroundings. There was a throng of people being held back by officers and members of the PRT at either end of the street, no doubt doing their best to keep them away from the bank.
The Wards were out in full force, and every single member was present and accounted for except for Shadow Stalker, strangely enough. I felt a twinge of disbelief that the Undersider’s had decided that attacking the place in broad daylight was somehow a good idea, either they had absolutely no idea what they were doing, or they had done this on purpose.
Either way, Coil didn't deserve this kind of nonsense.
I pushed down all of my doubts before darting straight over the top of the Wards to land between them and the bank. The Wards were immediately on high alert before I had even landed. They immediately started spreading out into a large half-circle across the courtyard and road, but by the time they had gotten into position, I was just about ready. I had used the surprise to begin creating wire constructs all over the pavement between us and I placed my beat-up old stereo on the ground beside me.
Humanoid figures slowly rose up from the ground to stand before them, roughly six feet tall with an obviously female figure that was completely covered in bulging wire muscles. Before long twenty of the wire-people stood around me, ten to each side and every one of them had a wire cable that traced back to where it was tethered to me. The Wards moved backward at the sight of so many constructs, to place themselves in between my wire-army and the normies.
I reached down and pressed play on the stereo.
"Ahem," I said loudly.
"We need to take it back in time," Came a woman’s voice from the stereo.
Whoops, I hadn’t restarted the song, I would just have to go with it.
"When music made us all unite!" I sang at the top of my lungs, and completely off-key, "And it wasn't low blows and video hoes!"
I saw Vista's mouth drop open and Aegis started laughing loudly which was strangely out of character for him.
Clockblocker had his arms crossed over his chest, his stance looking profoundly serious. The rest of them were in various states of confusion, as my wire constructs began to dance in perfect synchronicity on either side of me.
I was able to keep track of every single wire I used at once, some kind of multitasking enhancement that I had been gifted alongside my wire control, way back then. Moving constructs around like this wasn't even difficult, the front row wire-people on both sides dipped down low before performing some very naughty moves and I heard someone behind the Wards wolf whistle.
"Am I the only the one getting tired!" I sang, making sure to point my hand at the Wards before moving it slowly across the lot of them, thrusting my hips all the while. "Why is everybody so obsessed, money can't buy us happiness!"
Browbeats large form was just shaking his head and Aegis was utterly losing his shit now, I had never seen him like this before. Kid Win had his pistols pointed directly at me, but he was watching the reaction of his teammates as much as he was me, I could even see Vista tapping her foot to the song.
"Can we all slow down and enjoy right now!" I pleaded before whipping my completely covered hair over my shoulder, my constructs copied the move with their long wirehair. "Guarantee we'll be feeling alright!"
"Everybody look to the left!" I sang, lashing my hand to the left, the wire constructs followed along. "Everybody look to the right!" They followed again.
There were more whistles and calls from the crowd behind them.
"Can you feel that yeah, we're paying with love tonight!" I sang, before falling backward onto the pavement.
A construct on either side caught me before I could hit the ground, and they pushed me back up to my feet.
"It's not about the money, money, money!" I sang, spreading my arms high above my head before slowly bringing them down to my sides. "We don't need your money, money, money!"
Shake, shake, shake.
Aegis had completely tapped out by this point, and Clockblocker was staring at his teammate, seemingly unhappy. I still couldn't see Shadow Stalker anywhere, it was a shame that she would miss out on my incredible distraction, Gallant was staring at me silently, entirely covered in a suit of Power Armor.
"We just want to make the world dance, forget about the price tag!" I sang and shook my finger at them like they were the ones being naughty.
The constructs copied me diligently, I was probably getting too far into it if I was being honest.
"Ain't about the uh cha-ching cha-ching-" I sang before I was abruptly interrupted by a donkey punch to the back of the head.
A strange pressure pressed down on my mind, something like fear, but I managed to push through it.
"Shut up!" Glory Girl shouted as she slammed down into the ground behind me. "You are ruining the song!"
My vision went blurry for a moment as I was bounced off the pavement like a rag doll, I barely managed to flip myself forward into a tumble before doing my best to carry the momentum back to my feet in an uncontrolled maneuver that left me looking like a staggering drunkard.
"You cannot sing at all!" Glory Girl accused mercilessly. “It’s the worst thing I have ever heard in my entire life!”
The stereo continued to play, and Glory Girl made no move to stop the music.
“Jesus Christ lady, pull your punches,” I said in alarm, as I stumbled drunkenly to the side.
I ended up only a couple of feet away from her, she had her arms crossed now, completely unworried, I had better change that. I lashed out suddenly and punched her across the face, but it felt like I broke my hand in the process.
Glory Girl didn’t even flinch, she just stared at me strangely for a moment.
I did it again, with the same result.
"Ow!" I howled in pain. "What are you even made of?"
I shook my hand out to try and banish the awful pain racing up my arm.
"I'm invulnerable, idiot." Glory Girl said nastily.
"I know that," I said obnoxiously, "But what are you actually made of-"
I punched her in the face again before diving away, most of my wire constructs lunged towards her and immediately started dogpiling her, the few ones that were left over spread out to engage the other heroes.
Glory Girl was quickly buried underneath the assault and began trying to tear her way out. I spun around, already expecting Aegis to be coming at me from behind the sneaky little bitch he was, but he was actually standing right next to Vista, watching. Gallant was engaging one of the constructs that had moved towards Vista. Browbeat was moving carefully to flank me, while Clockblocker was sprinting straight at me at a stupidly fast speed.
I waved my hand across in front of me to ward him off and a wave of wires followed the motion, but he just circled around it in an instant before punching me square in the chest. I felt a spike of alarm when he touched me thinking for a moment that I had somehow just lost, but time continued on normally, and for some reason, I wasn’t frozen.
Clockblocker broke off after the hit when he was engaged by several newly built constructs I had panic made.
I was sent flying backward from his punch before I used some wires to halt myself. Browbeat was now right next to me and he lashed out with one of his giant arms. I reached out and caught his fist with my own massively reinforced arm, clamping down on it tightly when he tried to pull his hand back.
Kid Win had been taking shots at me and the constructs since the start of the fight, but he immediately stopped shooting at me the moment Browbeat had stepped into melee with me, no doubt afraid of friendly fire. I sent out another five wires before taking a moment to thicken the tips until they were capped with large round panels, reminiscent of shields.
I stuck the shields around Kid Win in a rough cube shape trapping him inside, he immediately stuck his hand through one of the gaps and started trying to shoot at one of the wires holding the panels up.
Goddammit man, just stop.
I plugged the gaps with smaller shield-wires, and he yanked his arm back inside to avoid it getting squished.
I turned my attention turned back to Browbeat who was still trying to pry his fist out of my hand. Browbeat hit hard strangely hard, and it clearly wasn’t just purely because of his size, there was way too much force behind the hit for it to be just that.
He didn’t seem quite as strong as Glory Girl, but he was definitely stronger than Aegis. My wire enforced arm had held up under the strain, although I had to reinforce it greatly, the force had traveled through the wires, not able to touch me at all.
If I had tried to block that without the wires, he would have broken my arm easily, and likely taken my arm off at the shoulder. These guys really needed to stop hitting everyone so hard, they were going to end up killing somebody one of these days.
Browbeat was looking at me in shock, and I stared him straight in the eye.
"Are you ready now?" I said harshly, "To witness a power, not seen for thousands of years!?"
I shouted the last part in his face and he immediately stopped trying to free his hand from my grip. Instead, he lashed out with his other arm in panic, so I caught it as well and started screaming in his face like I was trying to go even further beyond, the fake pointy wire hair sticking upwards into the air probably didn’t help.
I quickly wrapped him in wires and lifted him up off the ground, he was still using his power to do something to mess with my wires, but my control was better than his disruption by far. He couldn't keep up with all the wires at once, likely because he didn't have the enhanced multitasking needed to keep track of so many things.
I let his hands go and he floated in the air before me trapped, I mimed hitting him with a 'Kamehameha' while still yelling incoherently at the top of my lungs before making him fly off slowly through the air towards his teammates. Vista tried to catch him out of the air, but I tripped her over with some wires, and she fell over under his massive weight.
I started laughing at them before planting my hands on my hips.
“It almost like a rite of passage for you guys to get your asses kicked by me at this point.” I taunted them, tangling Vista and Browbeat up a bit.
Gallant stepped away from his own fight against my constructs to try and shoot me with his sissy-beams, so I created more floating wire-shields to block his advance. Aegis had finally moved to help the two on the ground and was struggling to pull Browbeats large form to his feet, while Vista was yelling for him to get off her.
Had Aegis been skipping the gym? What on earth was going on with him?
As soon as Vista was free, she made an angry gesture at me and a piece of the ground stretched up at great speed, smacking into me. I was sent flying back towards the bank, tumbling violently through the air and then smashed through the front doors of the bank.
I ended up lying on the floor of the bank right in the middle of the lobby; these dudes needed to chill with the amount of power they were hitting me with. I looked around and realized that there were people everywhere.
Tattletale and Grue were standing next to each other, while Regent was right next to the now broken doors, two of the hulking dog creatures stood next to the boy, growling at my abrupt entrance. There was no sign of Bitch herself, and the third dog was missing as well, either hiding or not present at all.
There were normies all over the bank floor, sitting or lying with their hands on their heads. I had to do a double-take when I saw the girl that was sitting on my left.
I pointed to her and shook my finger in her face, Amy Dallon stared at me in shock.
"First it's Laserdream," I said sadly, "Now it's Panacea, why does New Wave keep trying to rob this bank?"
The normies muttered in confusion at the accusation, while Amy spluttered for a moment, unable to counter my incredible observation, she recovered after a moment and smacked my hand out of her face immediately resorting to violence just like a villain.
Real mature, Amy.
"When did you join the Undersliders anyway?" I asked suspiciously
Tattletale was just staring at me in exasperation, but Grue was a picture of stoicism. I was distantly aware that Glory Girl had almost gotten free of the mess I had buried her in, so I tried to rearrange the wires to catch her again, but the others were Gallantly helping her, heh.
"It's the Under SIDERS," Tattletale said annoyed.
I blinked at her in confusion, before remembering the damn mask I was wearing, Grue nodded at me in either a greeting or confirmation about the name, I wasn’t sure. I turned to check on Regent, but he just gave a jaunty wave.
"Hey man," I said cheerfully, before turning my head back to the others. "What a dumb name, Underside of what? S-M-D-H."
I spelled out the last bit out loud and shook my head obnoxiously, Tattletale looked about ready to respond before Bug-girl suddenly walked into the room.
"Oh, hell no!" I shouted in alarm, quickly climbing to my feet.
I immediately tightened my wires around me making sure that I was as bug-proof as I could get, thank god for the visor. Bug-girl looked at me in might have been shock, before she noticed Amy and then just froze.
"You damn dick-" I accused, but she immediately cut me off.
"Shut up!" Bug-girl shouted in frustration.
I took a fear-filled step backward.
"Right!" I said nervously.
I turned to address Amy, who was still sitting on the ground.
"I am going to go back out there to finish kicking the Wards asses, you and the rest of the Undersliders should make a break for it before you get captured," I told her firmly.
Amy spluttered on the floor, as I spun towards the door, I stuck out my hand on the way past and Regent gave me a high-five, I was glad he hadn’t left me hanging, that would have ruined my exit.
I stepped through the hole I'd made in the front doors and back outside to find that Glory Girl was now completely free of the wires, which I had left as a patch of terrain that was reaching creepily out at anyone who was nearby. Clockblocker was flying over the top of the wire field before dropping down to land next to her.
Since when the fuck did Clockblocker fly? Something was rotten in the state of Denmark.
"This is absolute nonsense," I declared. "First Panacea is robbing a bank and now Clockblocker is flying."
Glory Girl glanced at the bank with a weird look on her face.
"It's like I'm in Bizzaro land," I said bemused.
I watched as Gallant strode up to stand beside Aegis, still silently staring at me, my good humor abruptly took a dive.
"Hey man," I said quietly. "I'm sorry for how things turned out. I wish I could have done it differently."
I felt awful for what had happened, and I wish I had been stronger, or smart enough to figure out a way that hadn’t result in the death of his brother. Claire's face had joined the others in my dreams, alongside Gaston, Belle, and my parents.
"So do I," Dean said sadly, instead of the hate that I had expected. "He was going to kill that woman; you did what you had to do."
The others were all watching the exchange quietly and I felt a surge of something foreign in my chest at his words, relief maybe.
"Urchin, are you going to let us take you in?" Dean said from behind Gallant’s armored helmet.
I shook my head with a smile that he couldn’t have seen, but we both knew the answer to that.
“I’m on the clock, Gallant." I said amused, “Maybe next time.”
I didn't think I would have been able to be so understanding had our roles been reversed, Dean was a better man than me, that was for sure and the Wards were lucky to have him.
"Right then,” I said amicably, before clearing my throat loudly. “Thank god you’re here, Wards. Panacea is robbing the bank, she must be in league with the known villain Laserdream."
I set the scene with an old classic, it was a shame Triumph wasn't here, he would have gotten the joke, but Vista and Clockblocker both reacted nonverbally to it at least, but not Aegis I noticed.
It finally clicked, Clockblocker and Aegis had switched costumes, I felt like an idiot for not noticing sooner.
I pointed at Aegis and Clockblocker with finger guns and started making 'Ahh!' noises. Clockblocker, in Aegis’s costume, shuffled a bit next to Vista, he had stayed out of the fight mostly, maybe because of the same concerns I had about the dangers of combining our powers?
"Very sneaky of you," I said amusedly while getting ready to attack. "But-"
A cloud of darkness suddenly rolled out of the bank and covered us all.
Grue's power; what the fuck man?
I immediately started throwing out a growing ring of wires, I moved them outwards slowly through the darkness, tagging everyone’s location before moving on. I moved away from Gallant who was now the closest to me, I really didn't feel like beating him up after our little heart to heart.
People suddenly started running out of the bank in mass numbers, pinging their locations by running into my wires. I felt tiny things start to land on my wire armor and some of the other ones. I immediately destroyed them all without mercy, not today Bug-girl.
I suddenly realized that the music had stopped, actually, all sounds had stopped. A trio of giant dogs suddenly emerged from the bank and hooked a hard left. I tracked them easily as they had destroyed the thin wires that were in their path with ease, I couldn't see them, but I imagined they were carrying the Undersiders on top of them.
The Undersiders had escaped and the job was just about complete, someone flew straight up into the air hitting another tiny wire, either Glory Girl or Aegis. Something large started to lift up into the air beneath a rather short person, probably Vista.
Whatever it was snapped and dragged yet more tiny wires up with it. I started to pull all the wires I still had outside into a giant hand construct the size of a bus before starting to generate even more wires.
I pushed myself up and out of the darkness before looking around, I could see where a thick tendril of darkness had shot across the street and into an alleyway, but the heroes had also spotted it.
Glory Girl started flying in that direction before my giant wire hand reached out and yoinked her back down into the darkness with a yelp. Vista spotted me a moment later, already starting to move another pillar of brick in my direction, I held out my hand in the universal symbol for halt.
Surprisingly enough, she didn't stop.
"A bunch of normies ran out of the bank when the darkness first came out!" I called out, "Be careful or you might squish them!"
Vista immediately stopped stared down at the darkness in frustration. Aegis, still in the wrong costume flew over to her, in case I went on the attack again. Glory Girl was going ape shit down below, like she was fighting the final boss in Super Smash Brothers 64, swinging wildly at it in the dark.
I started grabbing everyone in the cloud that I could feel with my wires and lifting them up, starting with the ones near Glory Girl.
I also took the time to lock Gallant up in a similar prison to Kid Win. Gallant had started moving unerringly in my direction as soon as I’d moved away from the door, he must have been able to sense me in the darkness. The normies rose up through the darkness and started to appear one after another. Aegis was looking at me intently as I started moving them toward him and the pillar they were standing on, Vista used her power to make it even larger, enough for them all to stand on. I put the people down gently before ganking Glory Girl with a second giant hand from behind.
Hah, you thought there was only one, but there was two all along!
I lifted her up out of the cloud and floated her over next to them; the hands had locked fingers together around her.
"I think that was everyone." I said honestly, "Unless I missed some-"
Someone walked out of the bank suddenly. I grabbed whoever it was and brought them up as well, it was Amy.
"Panacea! You idiot, you were supposed to escape with the rest of the Undersiders!" I yelled at her. "Are you sacrificing yourself so that they can escape? How noble of you!"
I heard someone in the crowd say, “Panacea is in the Undersiders now?”
Goddammit, I was magnificent.
"I am not with the Undersiders you IDIOT!" Amy yelled furiously.
"I am truly shook by this turn of events," I deadpanned.
Amy let out a wordless noise of frustration and the darkness abruptly started to dissipate, it had held up for much longer than I thought it would, but they should have been long gone by now.
Oh, maybe Grue was expecting me to use it to run away? Whoops.
Price tag started playing again when the darkness vanished from around the stereo, it was still on repeat, I wrapped a wire around the handle. The pillar that the heroes and all of the normies were on slowly lowered to the ground. The normies began to flee towards the police almost immediately, and I waved to the crowds who were making a great deal of noise.
"No need to thank me," I said humbly, holding up a hand to them.
I sent the wires holding Amy over to them but surprisingly enough, none of the heroes looked very thankful, how strange.
"Just doing my job,” I said honestly, as I handed Amy off to them. “The only thanks I need, is for this evil-doer to face justice.”
I gave them a jaunty wave and then suddenly zipped off over the bank, doing my best to flee the area. Panacea yelled something after me, but I was already too far away to hear it, Aegis valiantly flew after me, but he couldn't keep up for long. When he finally gave up, I let all my wires at the bank vanish, freeing the rest of the Wards.
It’s all about the money, money, money.
I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.
My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.
I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.