Threat Level: N/A
Powers: Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Sonic Blasts, Durable Arms, Metabolic Regeneration, Desert Jackal’s Reflexes
“Can I get a blood sample?” Beta asked, as Danny changed out of his street clothes into spare workout gear. Becca had dropped him off in the building’s basement after their meeting. It housed the costume and weapons department, two training areas, and a changing room.
“No,” Danny said, putting his back to the wall as he spotted the blue-skinned man walking towards him with a syringe gun. “I’m not keen on sharing my blood sample or meta gene information with anyone. You need a demonstration, and that’s all you’re going to get.”
“Fine.” Beta sighed. He threw the syringe over his shoulder, and a hovering drone zipped behind him, catching it. “Do you need any equipment or anything special for the demonstration?”
Danny shook his head. “However, if this works out and I do sign with Rebecca, there will be a handful of specific pieces I’ll want to help protect my identity.”
“Of course. That’s why I’m the resident Fabricator.”
It had come as a surprise to Danny when he discovered that Becca’s golems had all developed superpowers as they continued to develop. If she ever planned on returning to the field, she’d have an army of super people at her disposal. The discovery also helped him feel safer about the relationship.
All but one of Rebecca’s employees were extensions of her power. They had their individual consciousnesses and personalities, but their loyalty to their mother overrode all other impulses and desires. They’d never betray her. That alone made Rebecca’s agency better than going directly to the League. Everything else felt like a bonus. Being family, Sasha wasn’t likely to betray Becca, either. Even though neither aunt nor niece had said it explicitly, Danny had picked up that the agency also sponsored the speedster programme Sasha needed to improve her powers.
“So you’re a Projector and a Stalker,” Beta said, reading off a tablet.
“Why doesn’t the agency use any Holo devices?” Danny asked, wondering why he had seen none of the devices in the building. “Can’t the security team keep hackers at bay?”
“They can, but there’s no stopping a Technomancer. As long as they have a rough idea of the device being used or the software, they can break into the system unless there is someone as powerful or stronger protecting it.”
“And you don’t have one?”
“We do,” Beta replied, pointing at himself. “But it makes more sense to use devices and systems unique to us, so no one else can hack into them.”
“Do a lot of heroes employ such methods?”
“The Fabricators and the tactician-type Mind heroes do.”
“So the League won’t complain if I use my own Holo device with custom software?”
Beta raised a milky white eyebrow as he looked up from his tablet. “Wouldn’t you rather use one I’ve tailored specifically to your needs?”
“I’ll accept any software you’ve developed, but I’d rather use my own,” Danny answered, holding out his HoloLens.
“League-issue from twenty-twenty.” He frowned, leaning closer. “And I can’t detect it at all. Is the original software scrapped?”
“Modified and safeguarded.”
“I won’t ask where you got it,” Beta said. “I will have to report it to Becca, though.”
On Beta’s request, Danny made the HoloLens visible to the building’s network, and a screen appeared with the list of available tests.
Beta set up the training room after he made his decision and they went through the tests based on Danny’s preference. The Stalker test proved the easiest. Danny had to get through a dimly lit obstacle course while navigating around roving drones. He didn’t fare as well in the Projector test, since most supers in the category had long ranged attacks. Following Beta’s suggestion, he tried the Bruiser test instead and excelled at it.
Combat robots came at him, rising out of holes in the ground. Thanks to his extensive martial arts training, he had little trouble weaving around their attacks, and retaliated with a mixture of sonic blasts, punches, and kicks. For the sake of it, Danny showed off the ranged attack from his hand-mouths.
“That’s not good enough, to be honest,” Beta told him. “Sure you could knock someone down, maybe hurt someone with enhanced hearing but that’s not good enough to compete with projectors in the same category. Perhaps with time you might be able to improve on the attack and make it more potent.” Beta paused, typing notes into his tablet. “While we’re on the topic, how does your body deal with the sound of your attacks or the recoil from the blasts.”
“I never really thought about it,” Danny admitted. “My physiology on a whole seems to have changed with my awakening. I’m tougher and sturdied. Perhaps it’s meant to help me withstand the shockwaves.”
“And how do the sonic blasts and the… whatever that ranged ability was… how do they sound to you?”
“The first is like a booming tuba or bass drum’s sound stretched out. It doesn’t hurt my ears at all. The latter feels more like a screeching trumpet.”
“You could stun someone by shocking their ear drums or permanently damage their hearing,” Beta said. “That’s what my readings say, at least. Either you’re immune to your powers or you’ve gained a resistance to sonic attacks. If it’s the latter, that makes you unique. It’s easy to disable an opponent with acute senses by overwhelming them. We’ll have to run tests later to confirm.”
“By the way, how did my ranged attack look to you?” Danny asked. “I’m not sure I understand the physics behind it. It can’t be possible to fire sound as a range projectile, right?”
“Again. We’ll have to run more tests. Meta genes occasionally bend the rules of the universe. That’s especially relevant for Projectors. My best guess would be that you’re not actually firing sound. Somehow, you’re distorting and compressing air in your arm and firing it. The sound is coming from it escaping the canal and then again from the explosion. How does your arm feel after using it?”
“It hurts,” Danny replied. “It’s like a cramp but several times worse. Successive sonic blasts take more effort to fire and my arms tire out sooner. Normally, I can get eight blasts off each arm before they need rest, but after one of those just a couple is painful. Eating alleviates most of the discomfort, though.”
“I know you’re technically a Projector, but for the sake of League application forms, I’d suggest listing yourself as a Bruiser,” Beta said, furiously typing away on his tablet.. “We can always change things later on.”
“Does it matter?”
“It does. Your listed classifications might decide your entrance tests.”
Much to his disappointment, Beta didn’t appreciate him using the sonic blasts during his Might-statistic test. Instead, he insisted Danny use his current strength and technique. After absorbing Rin’s essence, his base speed had increased. It let him add more momentum to his attacks. Unfortunately, Beta didn’t deem his punching power adequate to give him a rating above F.
For Survivability, Danny had to defend blows from a trio of combat robots coming at him simultaneously. He had to rely on blocking and parrying. Dodging or countering meant Beta reset the course, and he went through it again. By the end of it, Danny’s arms felt numb and shoulders throbbed from the exertion. His rating stayed at an E.
Initially, Beta wanted to skip the Recover test. He considered it much too gruesome, but Danny insisted they go ahead with it, anyway. It started with scratches, then escalated to slashes, and ended at stabs. Neither of them wanted to test whether Danny could regrow digits or how swiftly he regrew a chunk of ripped out flesh. However, Beta stated that if it weren’t for his healing factor relying on food, he’d have a C-rating in the statistic.
Finally, the test he wanted the most arrived. At first, Beta only wanted him to run around an obstacle course to gauge his speed, but Danny deemed it insufficient. Speed and jumping capability felt insufficient to get a practical measurement of the statistic. So, he insisted Beta add ranged combat drones to the mix. The floating robots fired non-lethal projectiles as he made his way around the course.
At first, Danny had assumed Desert Jackal’s Reflexes only gave him speed and agility. As blunted darts and beanbags came flying at him, he realised the ability had given him a lot more. Time seemed to slow when he saw the weapons fire. Danny estimated their trajectory and did his best to move around them. He gained a sudden burst of speed, which let him cover distances faster than he anticipated. The sudden shifts in his capabilities left Danny disoriented and he tripped over his own feet or the obstacles several times.
“You look like a child trying to run when he can barely walk,” Beta said.
“Do you have a lot of experience with children?” Danny asked him.
“No. Never met one.” Beta laughed. “Honestly, though. If you learn to control your movements better, I’d say you qualified for a D-rating in mobility. It’s not enough to be a Mover, but a Bruiser with your kind of mobility could prove a real threat.”
“Let’s move on to the Spark test, then.”
“Unnecessary,” Beta told him. “I already measured it during the Bruiser test. You’re a solid D, but again I think there is room for improvement. Your blasts are inconsistent. The power behind it varies ridiculously, and so does the time needed to fire them. I reckon you could improve with practice there, too.”
“What’s your estimation for my combat abilities, then?”
“Overall Threat Level is hard to measure with your power set. However, I’d put an E in Destructiveness and a C in Killability.” Beta put his recorded statistics on the screen.
Threat Level: E
Powers: Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Sonic Blasts, Durable Arms, Metabolic Regeneration
The powers listing lacked the full details of his capabilities, but Danny assumed the Asuran Veda regularly changed it to include essences he’d fed Kabandha.
“C? That’s pretty amazing! Why doesn’t the screen say that?” Danny asked, tapping the project display on the wall.
“Because I’m working off my personal estimations. The machine only takes your power, Survivability, and Recovery into account. Mobility is ignored as a factor, but given your enhanced sense and superhuman reflexes, pinning you down for a kill will be difficult.”
The pair talked for several hours and touched on the topic of costumes before Becca returned for him. Neither of them had anything negative to say regarding their observations of the other and sealed the deal with a handshake. Danny had entered Royal Clay Management not long after breakfast unsure of whether he wanted an agent at all. It was dark by the time he left with a signed contract and plans for how he’d proceed as a hero.