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You have fed Kabandha.
He gives you power in return.
After processing the corrupted anubite’s essence, Kabandha gives you three options:

  • Hunter’s Senses
  • Corrupted Sands
  • Desert Jackal’s Reflexes

After fighting Rin, Danny had made himself a snack. It made quick work of the wounds on his back. Since it was still early in the day, he considered visiting the agent’s office, but mental exhaustion got the better of him. When he stirred, his HoloLens vibrated next to him violently.

Flashing Sanskrit characters and options awaited him when he plugged the device into his ear. Full of guilt and angry from Kaka’s attempts at manipulation, Danny had forgotten about the essence rewards.

Visions involving Hunter’s Sense showed Rin prowling through the woods. Shadows darted through the surrounding bushes. Darts flew from the foliage, flying around the anubite. She danced around them. Eyes sweeping her surroundings and nose twitching. Then Rin’s nose twitched, and she sprinted into the shrubbery. She emerged moments later, holding a squirming bipedal rat.

Corrupted Sands excited Danny a lot more than the first option. His lips spread into a wide smile as he saw the anubite dancing atop dunes of an endless desert. The sand moved with her graceful movements, creating waves, curtains and a handful of skinny spikes, too. The sands appeared odd to Danny. They had purple and black flecks among them, which reminded him of Rin’s mottled patches of skin.

Finally, the Asuran Veda showed him Desert Jackal’s Reflexes. He saw flashes of his battle against Rin. The display slowed whenever she dodged his attacks. It showed her dodging around him using the same dancing moves she used to manipulate the sand. Her speed was far below a speedster’s, but it made her faster than any average human.

The decision proved easy for Danny. Given his already enhanced sight and hearing, Hunter’s Sense felt redundant. According to Kabandha, Danny had barely scratched the surface as far as his sensing abilities were concerned. Once he learned to process the information the eyes constantly fed him, Danny would need to learn to split his attention so he could look through them all simultaneously without succumbing to headaches. Once he succeeded, Kabandha would teach him how to add more eyes to the mix.

Danny needed time to get used to the hand-mouths, too. He currently struggled to pick through the several distinct sounds and focus on what he needed to follow. With time, he hoped to improve his mastery over the already enhanced senses. Picking up more would only add to the overloaded senses.

Ideally, Danny would’ve loved to pick Corrupted Sands. He’s grown up idolising Vish, and the League categorised put him in the Projector and Controller categories. However, two factors held him back. First of all, finding sand in London wasn’t an easy feat. The ability would only prove useful around playgrounds with sandpits or construction sites. A civilian ordering vast quantities of sand would appear suspicious, too. The Asuran Veda didn’t say whether the ability would extend to glass. If it did, he would’ve picked it in a heartbeat.

Danny settled on Desert Jackal’s Reflexes and didn’t regret it. It was the best of all the choices. It would help him deal better when fighting foes like Rin or Sasha in the future.

As the guardians of the dead, the anubites have protected the endless dunes, and the tombs lost in them for millennia. Their dances don’t just give them control over the sand, but make them so agile that no predator can pin them down. The only way to beat an anubite is to get them during their brief rests or poison the oasis where they feed.

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

E? Really?

Several posters on super forums claimed that the League’s rating system was too inaccurate a measure of their capabilities. Most speedsters with B-Mobility or higher had awful control over their bodies and could barely see where they were going. Despite their power reinforcing their bodies from wear and tear, they often ended up with joint issues or repetitive stress injuries. Telepaths with an A-spark rating often died young or ended up in metal wards because of psychic overloads or a failure to sift through all the minds they read. Danny had read about several that got lost in their own dreamscapes and ended up comatose.

No one judged the League for failing to measure individuals with Anomaly-category power sets. An individual with probability manipulation was undeniably powerful, but they were mostly human outside of their ability. It was the same for most Fabricators. Their capabilities changed with their latest invention or whatever they carried on their person. The League settled for rating them based on their best load-out of equipment. Master-supers were even harder to rate.

Even though Danny had read threads debating such issues countless times, he couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the minor boost to mobility. After facing Rin, he expected more of a boost. The rating only reminded him of how weak he was compared to most supers. At the same time, he doubted the system took his entire power set and training into account. After years of training in multiple martial arts, Danny’s movements were precise and calculated. With more experience, he guessed he could turn the E-rating into a thorn in the local villains’ sides. The system didn’t account for him using the Sonic Blasts for mobility either. They’d proven themselves as a valuable tool for slowing falls or changing direction mid-jump.

For the sake of comparison, he looked up the Freaks in the ThreatLevel App’s database. There were no entries for Malfunction, but he found Roach and Mindpunch.

Roach
—----------------------
Threat Level: F
Destructiveness: F
Killability: A
---------------------------
Might: C
Survivability: E
Recovery: A
Mobility: E
Spark: O
----------------------------
Powers: Conscious and unconscious healing factors. Enhanced mobility and senses from Insect physiology.
*Roach has recovered from decapitation, crushed skulls, and being chopped in two.
*Suspected victim of Power Merchant’s experimentation.
Classification: Bruiser/Stalker

Mindpunch
—--------------------------
Threat Level: B
Destructiveness: B
Killability: C
—--------------------------
Might: C
Survivability: C
Recovery: O
Mobility: O
Spark: A
—---------------------------
Powers: Telekinetic
*He has no control over his telekinesis powers and has caused destruction at a significant scales during breakdowns. He compensates by using it at a tactile range by forming several telekinetic barriers around his body and surrounding them with multiple repulsion layers. The barriers persist even when he’s fast asleep, making him a near-impossible foe.
*Suspected victim of Power Merchant’s experimentation.
Classification: Mind/Bruiser

Destructiveness and Killability felt like a more accurate measure of a super’s powers. Threat Level averaged the two statistics before taking the super’s power set and its use into account. Roach’s healing factor made him near unkillable, but because of the rest of his lack of offensive power, his Destructiveness and Threat Level were unusually low.

Mindpunch existed at the opposite end of the spectrum. It surprised Danny that despite the listed statistics the League didn’t have multiple heroes tracking him.

Hungry after his nap, Danny made himself a sandwich and used his contributor privileges to suggest additions to the entries. For Roach, he added a note mentioning the chitinous projectiles. He didn’t have any details regarding limitations, but mentioned they had enough power to penetrate a car’s chassis. Given Roach had only fired at him twice, Danny believed the spikes weren’t too big a threat.

On the other hand, he worried people weren’t worried enough about Mindpunch enough. The O-mobility rating felt inadequate. Danny suggested it be raised to F and detailed how he’d seen Mindpunch move. He stayed careful with the details. Even though the submissions were anonymous and the app only had his display name, a good enough sleuth or someone involved in the battle could trace the information back to him. To make things harder for them, he carefully picked the photographs to add to the entry.

“Have you been to the agent’s office already?” Kaka asked. He appeared surprised, coming up the apartment’s stairs from the kitchen below.

“No,” Danny answered.

“Did you change your mind?”

“I just haven’t made it up yet. It’s important that I go in and get information on the operations and figure out my options, but I want to think about the decision a while longer. I have a few questions for you, though. If you answer them, it might help with the decision.”

Kaka checked the time, nodded, and took a seat opposite Danny. “What is it, Baba?”

“It’s regarding the tape you showed me. The one with Rakshasa fighting Vish.” Kaka’s shoulders stiffened and face hardened. Danny understood it was a difficult topic for his uncle. “Vish was a Keeper, too, wasn’t he? He took the Sur Veda to become a hero instead of protecting it. Who was he to us?”

“He was your father’s apprentice,” Kaka answered. “There always needs to be one Keeper covering a location. It’s vital they train secondaries in case of unexpected deaths. Vish was supposed to be that person. He turned on us and I stepped in after your father died.”

“He stole it to do good, though, didn’t he? Vish has saved the planet from Doomsday scenarios three times now.”

Kaka nodded.

“Then why does the Asuran Veda say that our dimension has negative karma?” Danny asked.

“It means that we don’t know everything that’s going on. The relics don’t read the news or listen in on gossip. They read their residing dimension’s energy, mana, aether, or whatever you want to call it. From my understanding, they don’t really have a perspective of good or bad, right and wrong. I assume the worst, since he wronged our family, but I could be wrong.”

“Thank you for being candid with me, Kaka.” Danny smiled at his uncle, pouring him a tumbler of lemonade. “You could’ve given me a bullshit answer or all negatives, but you didn’t.”

Kaka remained stone-faced. He stared at the tumbler until condensation formed on its surface. “I know my opinions haven’t been welcome ever since you awakened, Danny,” Kaka said, after taking a sip of his drink. “But please know that I only want what’s best for you. You’re an adult and need to live your life. I understand that. However, you’re the only person I have left. Your League plans and vigilantism have me terrified. Saying no or fighting this won’t get me anywhere. I’d just like you to be careful and think of my advice as genuine. I’ve been in this world longer than you have and have been unfortunate to see the worst of it.”

“I understand, Kaka,” Danny said, after taking a moment to absorb his words.

“Are you still planning on meeting Sasha’s aunt?”

Danny nodded. “She’s just a ten-minute walk from us. It won’t hurt to visit and see if it’s what I want.”

“It is what you want.” Kaka sighed. “I know it’s inevitable. I just want you to pace yourself and not rush into anything.”

Danny didn’t have a response for his uncle. He watched the man drain his tumbler and leave. Since the restaurant had found a new delivery person, he didn’t volunteer to help, even though it was supposed to be his last night on the job. Instead, Danny sat in the apartment, browsing the super database and contemplating his future.

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J Pal

  • London

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