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Threat Level: N/A
Destructiveness: N/A
Killability: N/A
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Might: F
Survivability: E
Recovery: D
Mobility: F
Spark: D
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Powers: Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Sonic Blasts, Durable Arms, Metabolic Regeneration
Classification: Projector/Stalker

“Where’d you get this recording, Kaka?” Danny asked as he and Kaka sat down for breakfast together. Half a week had passed since Danny gained his abilities. He hadn’t just stayed home to practise his new abilities, but also to track Power Merchant’s movements. Danny worried the villain would come for him and the restaurant. “It’s nowhere in the official archives.”

“You’re unlikely to find copies outside a handful of rare collections,” Kaka said, taking the rectangular disk out of its ancient player. “It’s unlikely there are any digital copies out there. The League contained it pretty well.”

“Where did you get this one, then?”

“I stole it.” Kaka didn’t elaborate, and Danny didn’t push the subject. He knew it wouldn’t get him whatever answers he desired.

“Was Rakshasa my father?” Danny asked. He’d suspected it ever since he visited the Asuran Veda’s index.

All emotion left Kaka’s face. He steeled himself, looking into Danny’s eyes. He opened his mouth but no words came out. Kaka nodded after what felt like an eternity. Danny felt a lump form in his stomach. The hero he'd idolised for most of his life had killed his father. Given his uncaring attitude towards civilians, Danny wondered whether the man murdered his family, too while pursuing Rakshasa. At the same time, Vish had saved millions if not billions of lives, by defeating villains and rift monsters that most heroes had died fighting. Danny shook his head. It was a concern for later. His goals hadn't changed. If there were issues in the League, he'd have to climb its ranks and change them from the inside. If he failed, he'd deal with the consequences when the time came.

Perhaps meeting Vish in person will get me more answers.

The restaurant ran adequately without Kaka. He had let Arun take charge, and none of the staff complained. Because of Sal’s passing, the news of the gym burning down had reached the headlines. He was a former pro-athlete, after all. As a result, they believed Kaka when he said that he needed a few days to nurse Danny’s injuries. They spent every waking moment either eating or training in Mirror World.

Much to their disappointment, the rakshases he faced didn’t give him anymore essences. Kabandha claimed they were weak and Danny would need to feed on stronger specimens to gain more powers for them. Kaka had a different theory. The latter specimens he fought were bigger and stronger than the first. He believed the smallest was the runt amongst his brethren and had picked up magical abilities to survive amongst the brutes.

Kaka’s magic had its limits. He had a finite number of monsters trapped in marbles and could only crack one marble a day. Apparently, the glass spheres imprisoned the creatures in pocket dimensions similar to Mirror World. If needed, he could force them to do his bidding for twenty-four hours before they became immune to his suggestions. As a result, Danny had to put all of them down before returning home through the mirror door.

Kabandha insisted Danny fight something stronger, but Kaka refused. He kept shifting between not wanting to waste other trapped monsters on training and ‘Danny isn’t strong enough to handle them’. The Asura thought it was bullshit, but Danny ended up siding with Kaka in the end. He suspected Kabandha had an ulterior motive: more essences. Danny kept him satiated by feeding the hand-mouths leftovers from the restaurant every evening. It was better than them going in the bin.

On the third day of practising his powers, Danny realised Kaka was right. He needed more time to get used to his powers. Because of his height, Danny’s fighting style utilised more kicks than punches. Against the rakshases, using kicks wasn’t an option. They were too sturdy for basic attacks to hurt them. Whenever he gave into instinct and resorted to them, Danny found himself off-balance and vulnerable to their counter attacks. The pain helped him unlearn old habits. Danny learned to use his forearms more consistently and adapted his footwork to match the new fighting style.

It was on the fourth day when Danny figured out his limitations when it came to the sonic blasts. Just because he had the power, didn’t mean he could use them at every opportunity. They took too much out of him. Four left Danny light-headed. After six, his arms felt numb. When he pushed himself to fire a seventh, Danny almost passed out. Kaka had to interfere before the rakshas crushed him. Kabandha claimed Danny would get over the limitation as he got used to the new muscles and trained them. Feeding him more essences would help, too.

By the sixth day, the lesser rakshasas ceased being a challenge. They were hardier and stronger than regular humans, but their intellect balanced things out. Once Danny got them angry, the creatures made enough mistakes and left big openings which he could exploit. Danny learnt to use his sonic blasts strategically to throw them off balance and then finish them. Since the rakshasas appeared to have near-bottomless stores of energy, he made the critters last, pushing himself until he needed a break or mealtimes arrived.

At first, Danny pitied the creatures. Then Kaka explained they were like evil goblins out of pop-culture fantasy. They raided peaceful settlements to steal valuables and rape women. Occasionally, a rift would open up in areas with high concentrations of people with strong connections to their place of origin—close to people connected to the Hindu pantheon, and they’d flood the area wreaking havoc. Danny struggled to believe his ancestors had originated from such a realm, but Kaka insisted he’d be better off not dwelling on such matters.

In the evenings, Danny helped with deliveries. He hung an eyeball in a white mesh bag from his bicycle seat. It looked no different from a ball. Another stayed tucked in his delivery bag’s strap. Together, they kept Danny informed of the world around him, ensuring he didn’t get jumped. Eventually, the bicycle seat-eye’s swinging got too much for Danny, and Kaka came up with a brilliant idea to remedy the situation. He sowed a pocket along the bag’s outside lining big enough for an eye. Next, he cut a hole on the outer material and stapled a plastic sheet over it. The eye didn’t have room to move and suffered restrictive vision, but it didn’t rock about violently, leaving Danny nauseous.

At first, Kaka insisted Danny always wear gloves when outside. It took Danny a while, but he managed to convince him how crippling it was. He could keep the mouth closed most of the time, but needed parts of his palm exposed to feel ambient vibrations. They settled on the gloves Danny had prepared for his first outing.

Danny enjoyed making deliveries. For the first time in his life, he didn’t fear for his life when out on the streets. After all, he now had powers to protect himself if things got ugly. While out, he often saw Druid patrolling. He appeared more serious and the sides of his head were now clean shaven. Ugly stitches marked the left side, making the tall and muscular Irish hero more badass than before.

Druid

Threat Level: D
Destructiveness: C
Killability: F
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Might: F
Survivability: F
Recovery: D
Mobility: F
Spark: B
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Powers: Can pull exploding pine cones out of thin air and occasionally leaves behind exploding seed pods. His wooden shotgun is almost as powerful as Fabricator-made plasma weapons. The mushroom men, though weak, can recover from most injuries and multiply if parts of them are ripped off.
Classification: Projector/Master

The Asuran Veda had made the HoloLens faster. It didn’t project information on screens floating in front of his eyes, but directly on Danny’s eye lens. No one could see the information but him. The database extension also tapped into the local news bulletin and revealed that the League had put Druid on probation. After the recent loss, he had lost a couple of corporate sponsors, too.

Danny was returning from a delivery on his sixth day when a familiar face approached him.

“You feel good about yourself, mate?” She asked, while Danny was setting up the HoloLens for the final delivery of the day. It was the speedster Kaka had fired. She carried a large insulated bag on her back. Danny guessed she had already found a new position. “Taking a super’s job so you can push your powerless agenda?”

“What agenda?” Danny asked, struggling not to laugh.

When bored, Danny would occasionally browse posts on super and powerless forums. Over the past couple of months, the former platforms had experienced a growth in low-powered supers who claimed the unawakened and powerless were out to get them. They believed the people without powers were second-class citizens and a burden on society. The more economically gifted among them had infiltrated the government to give businesses hiring such people tax benefits, costing supers jobs.

She must be one of them.

Supers like her refused to accept that it was their poor attitudes and incompetence that cost them their job. Instead, they called out the government for pandering to weaklings.

“You know what I’m talking about!” She exclaimed. The young woman flickered from standing a couple of metres away to a few inches from Danny’s face. His palms tingled from the sudden high-frequency vibrations in the air. “At the end of the day, we get the job done better than you! Still, you manage to take our jobs because the government thinks your kind matters!”

“Calm down, lady,” Danny said, taking a step back. “My uncle let you go because you had a sugar crash while out for delivery and then refused to take the proper precautions when he demanded it. What kind of speedster refuses to carry a Booster?”

“It’s a stupid expense.” She stepped closed, getting more in Danny’s face. “The more I push myself, the stronger I will get. Boosters are a crutch and a limiter.”

“That may be true, but it's a necessity when you’re on the job. You can’t very well use a crash as an excuse for not finishing your duties. I looked into your contract. My uncle gave you an allowance for a booster-per-shift, for fuck's sake.” Danny shook his head, mounting his bicycle seat. “At the end of the day, you failed to finish the job you were hired to do. Since it was your third infraction, the business had every right to let you go. I hope you have better luck with your new role.”

“Fucking dickhead,” she swore, and Danny felt the vibrations in her body pick up. The eye on his backpack caught a flash of movement, and he knew the super intended to hit him. Low-ranked speedsters often had trouble regulating their blood pressure and were prone to such outbursts. However, due to their speed, the low-quality surveillance cameras rarely managed to pick up speedster movements.

Danny angled his forearm in the nick of time to deflect her punch. Unlike the rakshasas's blows, her attack sent a violent kinetic pulse through his body and shook every tooth and bone. The point of impact stung, but Danny knew his altered physiology had prevented any real damage.

The super screamed and recoiled, clutching her left fist. “You bitch!” She yelled, hopping around, shaking her hand. Danny raised an eyebrow. The woman was weaker than he expected. Most speedsters gained minor defensive reinforcements while tapping into their powers. It kept them from hurting themselves. “What the fuck? Are you wearing armour?”

Danny hoped the injury would discourage her from continuing, but she came at him again. This time her blow wasn’t careful and well-aimed, but angry and wild. He leaned forward in the bike seat, and she missed. In an attempt to counter and hopefully disable her, Danny swung his left arm in a wide arc, hoping to catch her shoulder or side, but the speedster flickered backwards.

“How are you tracking me?” She demanded.

“You’re barely a super,” Danny answered. “Bloody hell, you’re so slow and clumsy, a weak-ass powerless like me can take you down.”

Kaka would’ve called him stupid for taunting her. However, after reflexively blocked her first attack, Danny got the sense that she wouldn’t let him go until she got a blow in. Even though Danny had Metabolic Regeneration to heal any wound he suffered afterwards, he refused to let her hit him.

The speedster zoomed away putting some distance between them, giving Danny enough time to hop off his bike and adopt a fighting stance. He kept his left arm high and close to his face and kept the right low to jab if needed. The mouths popped open under the gloves and his hearing sharpened with it. Danny didn’t try closing them. The speedster was angry, and Danny needed every tool at his disposal to avoid injury.

She ran at breakneck speed, sprinting towards Danny. His eyes struggled to keep up with her, but the vibrations helped him keep track of the woman. Danny threw up his right arm and jabbed the left at where he expected her to go. The speedster appeared for a second half-a-step away, then a fist struck his left elbow.

A cry of pain escaped Danny's lips, and he staggered backwards. The speedster used the window of opportunity and came at him again. He repeated his attack, and she dodged it using the same move as before. However, when she came in to strike the same spot, Danny’s left arm was ready to grab her. However, he struggled to account for her speed. Instead of fingers wrapping around her wrist, he ended up clutching her shoulder. The speedster froze with a shocked look on her face.

Danny stepped into her, placing a foot behind her right leg, and pulled her off balance. It didn’t surprise him that she was as light as a feather. He had little trouble picking up the young woman and throwing her. It was then he realised he’d made a grave mistake.

During the heat of battle, he had pushed the HoloLens’ messages aside. The display remained locked on the map window, while a red warning flashed in the background. He had missed the pair walked along the pavement, too. One wore mismatched pieces of body armour and the other featured long skinny arms with spikes sticking out of them. It was Roach and his Fabricator companion from the rooftops, and the Speedster landed on the two of them.



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J Pal

  • London

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