Project Oddity » Arcs » Arc 1: Provenance.

Provenance will be the starting arc for the story, as everyone experiences the world, and the bricks and foundation of the plot are laid down before it really begins to kick in.

As written by: NethanielShade, Owl Eyes, Lin, StorminJericho, fate0013, Tanman, Quakernuts, chaotix14, CabbageAngel

35 pieces and 11 characters involved, written by 9 different authors.

1 places involved

So begins...

Arc 1: Provenance.

Capetown, TexasSetting: Capetown, Texas

Capetown, TX. 09/17/2017, 5:03 PM. 87°F,
Partly Cloudy. Arc 1: Provenance.

It was late on a September afternoon, and Jasmin Lehtinen was unmoving in Capetown's abysmal traffic whilst attempting driving home from work. Traffic jams during rush hour were common in the city, Capetown had been built as a small town and several huge population booms over the last few decades, and many parts of the city have major streets that require extra lanes, but would require redoing whole sections of the city to accommodate traffic. And so, traffic jams after work. Every day, Jasmin thought. She was trying to come off an exit on The Loop, a overpass-bypass section of highway in eastern-Capetown that circles around most of the north-eastern part of the city, and traffic was at a standstill almost half a mile back, cars moving 0-1mph in a 60mph zone. With an exasperated sigh, she resigned to her fate, leaned the chair back, and turned up the volume to listen to the rock station on the radio.

An hour later, she was home. If you could call it that. Jasmin lived in a small studio apartment next to a sandwich shop. Her bedroom, living room, and kitchen all being the same room, with only the bathroom as the second room in the entire minuscule apartment. She surveyed her room; in one corner is her black futon with a camouflage blanket and cans of Monster energy drink and bags of Doritos pushed towards the foot of the futon, a lamp and an alarm clock blinking 12:00 next to the futon, clothes strewn about the floor, most dirty, with the clean clothes in piles under the futon, her flat-screen TV sitting on a nightstand across the room from the futon, with her PS4 set up on the floor next to the nightstand, her desk with nails, coins, and other various metal objects strewn across it, and desktop atop the desk in the other corner, black curtains with lightning patterns blocking the afternoon sunlight from entering the apartment. Everything exactly as it was left.

Jasmin dropped her purse by the door, plopped down onto her futon, plugged her phone into the charger by her futon, and took her pants off. She browsed social media for a while, bored by the politics and memes, only stopping to watch a video of a cape here and there. She stood put some yoga pants on, then strutted across the room, picking up a quarter from her desk and flicking it up into the air. When she caught it, she flexed her powers on it, and felt the telltale tug in the skin of her hand that let her feel the magnetic field her fist was radiating. As the quarter fell, she continued flexing her power, making the magnetic field stronger, while not increasing it's range beyond a foot, and the quarter fell, sped up just outside of her knuckles, slowing down once it was below her hand, and tottered in mid-air for a second, before zipping back upwards, and through the coil-shape she made with her hands by touching her thumb to her index and middle fingers as if she were holding a rod. The quarter flew into her hand, just missing her palm, through the ring her fingers made, and back up, and continued the loop for a few seconds, until she shut it down. American quarters were mostly copper with some nickle, and it required an extremely strong magnetic field to affect it. She dropped the quarter and sighed once again.

You have the ability to fuck with one of the four fundamental forces, and yet you still find yourself bored? She chuckled at the thought. Maybe tonight she should go rob another convenience store. She worked at a fucking 7/11, and her job pissed her off. Plus convenience stores were generally easy targets, low-security, a hundred dollars easy, in and out. Plus, her bank account was dangerously low, and she'd have to do something this month to pay rent. She threw on a hoodie and absent-mindedly dropped some coins and nails into the pocket and headed for the door.

In the end, she just decided to get a sandwich from the shop next door.

Mission one: I'ma put this on. When he see me in the dress I'ma get me some, hey. Mission two: Gotta make that call. Tell him get the bottles poppin' when they play my song, hey.

River huffed and backed away from the punching bag, shaking out her arms and panting. The scent of faded bleach and old sweat wasn't pleasant, but it was familiar and it was growing on her. The boxing gym was always empty this time of day, but pretty soon the after work crowd would be flooding in, cranky after their stint in the afternoon traffic jam. Absently, she checked in on the three cameras that monitored the first story of the building. She could see through their lenses as if it were a vivid memory, bright and clear. Jennifer, the owner, was the only one there, shut in her office on the other side of the gym. Lovely and forward thinking as she was, she had installed electronic locks on all of the doors. They would tell her if any of them were opened.

With a thought, she cut the feed to the one camera pointing her way and advanced on the bag again. As she did, her form blurred and a second her stepped away in the opposite direction. The pop pop pop of her gloves against the heavy bag was easily drowned out by the music blasting from the stereo, but it was still satisfying to feel. In her mind, she could see her double duck into the showers, setting the spray to a nice steamy temperature. She hit the bag a few more times for good measure and then backed away again, leaning down to brace her hands on her knees.

This was the third afternoon this week she'd spent at this gym. Normally, her exercise routine was limited to a run every morning and the occasional day or two spent covering for her friend who was a cheer coach. But lately it seemed that there was another new villain in Capetown every other week. She wasn't one to find herself in the field, but it at least made her feel better to be doing something. She smiled faintly as she made her way back to the showers. That would certainly be a good look, trying to punch one of the water-movers or giant hulking villains in the face. She chuckled as her double pulled her clothes out of her bag and laid them out and she jumped into the shower. A few minutes later, she was pulling on her clean clothes while her double grimaced and fought to blow dry her hair through her moving around. She reached out for her phone in her mind. It was still pretty early and she was starving. There was a shop a block or two away that was kind of a dive, but always had her favorite kind of chips in stock. She paused to let her double merge with her again and then dashed out of the door, flipping the third camera back on and waving to Jennifer as she slipped headed for the door.

"See you tonight?" Jennifer called after her. River grinned.

"Absolutely. I'll be the one in red." She set out on foot towards the shop, weaving deftly through the crowd. As she walked, she stretched out her senses, feeling for the cameras around her, surveying the crowd from above. It was a nervous habit, one that soothed her nerves somewhat. It made her feel better to see the crowds, to watch them flow like water. There were thousands of people all around her. Not alone, surrounded. Not alone. Not alone.

She ducked into the shop and grabbed her chips and a bottle of soda as well and then went to get in line. The shop was fairly empty. So far it was just her, the clerk behind the counter and a slight, brunette girl with a sandwich. She didn't look incredibly open to making friends, but the shop didn't have too much seating, and even less that was clean and in good repair.

"Mind if I sit here?" she said as she flashed a smile and dropped into the empty chair next to her.

A small girl lied on top of her bed with her eyes closed, bored, yet not wanting to do anything else. She finished her training around noon and studied until four. After taking a shower, she ended up flopping down on top of her bed. She didn't do anything except lie down. On days like these, she wished Ace was home. If she was fond of metaphors, she would have said that her brother was her only light in the darkness... But she wasn't fond of metaphors, so all she thought was, I wish he was here...


A text message.

Her head rolled to the side and stared at her phone for a minute as if she was willing it to turn over and just show her what the text message said. But alas, her ability did not work like that. With a mental sigh, her right hand grabbed her Galaxy S5 and lifted it above her face. Her hand was small compared to the phone, but she managed to reach the home button with her thumb, revealing the message. As soon as she read it, the phone fell straight on her face.

Vrzzz. Her shield made a sound as the phone hit it. It didn't matter that she made the stupid mistake of dropping her phone because Ace was home and taking her outside!

[Ace ❤]
Come down Mara. Let's eat out.

Mara giggled and grabbed her phone. She loved how he knew that she would always go with him outside. It had been so long since they went out together! Where were they going this time? She all but flew down the stairs where her brother was waiting. It looked like her parents weren't back from their date, and that made her happier. They left the house and got in Ace's car, but Ace didn't tell her where they were going. Instead, he started to talk about his thoughts. Even after one year, he hadn't run out of things to talk about with Mara even if Ace was doing most of the talking.

"The last time we went out to eat, we went to a nice Vietnamese restaurant, yeah?" Mara nodded.

Not everyone can afford a place like that, so they eat at smaller shops. The prices are a lot cheaper. Not everyone lives like us, you know?" Mara nodded again.

"Un, of course you know. You're a smart girl." And he smiled that smile that said that he loved her. It made her feel really warm inside and made her smile. From the way he was talking, she knew that they would probably be eating at one of those poor restaurants her parents always warned her to stay away from.

"So! We're going to eat a small shop so you can see for yourself that not all delicious foods come from fancy restaurants," he said enthusiastically and smiled as if that made him happy. Maybe it did make him happy to eat at a cheap restaurant.

Mara could see that they were entering a much neighborhood much poorer than their own neighborhood. Despite the crawling doubt, she held faith in Ace's choice of food. It was good last time... Maybe there really was something special about poor restaurants. They arrived at the that didn't look like a restaurant...and they both went in.

Ding. "Welcome!"

The restaurant was less clean than she thought it would be. Even an 11 year-old could see that most of the chairs were dirty and that some were broken. Though she loathed to admit it, she could see why her parents didn't like places like these. She tried to look for something positive. At least the tables seemed decently clean. Mara looked up to her brother, who just looked down, smiled, and ruffled her hair. Her lips lifted, liking it when he did that, but returned to normal when she had to fix her hair to look presentable.

"I'll order for you, so could you find a seat for us?" Mara nodded. He left, and she looked around for a moment. It was a really small place. On the left were no people, so she naturally went over to the left and sat at the table by the counter. She'd picked their table fairly quickly, so Ace wasn't quite done paying for their meal. On the other side of the restaurant, she could see adult women chatting at the same table. They both looked like they were used to a place like this, and she found that curious. Did people come to such a place so often if they didn't have enough money?

Ace finally came back with their meals and set them on the table. They were plain-looking sandwiches. Thye looked like nothing special. Mara looked to her brother with a questioning glance. Her brother just took a bite out of his own sandwich and gave her the look: why don't you try it? And so she did.

It was... interesting. It looked like nothing special, but she kept eating and eating until her sandwich was gone. The inside of the bread was crispy, but the outside was soft. The ham was ordinary, but it went really well with the special sauce inside. She looked at her brother who was also done with his sandwich. He was watching her with an amused smile.

"So. More?" Mara nodded immediately in all seriousness and drank her water.

Jericho stood under the awning to one of the nearby shops in downtown, his mouth- snout really- opening in a yawn that threatened to spread down the length of furry neck that he had. The 'Changer', hate that stupid title, was wearing the form of some medium sized dog, he couldn't remember the breed name quite honestly. It had been constantly barking, and he was over and done with listening to the thing bark at him. With another yawn after a few moments of quiet rememberance, Jericho turned his head to and fro in order to get some grasp as to where he was... He knew he was in Texas, traveling for as long as he had, the signs that pointed out what cities and towns he was passing through were a welcome reprieve from the otherwise green and brown boredom that was nature. Overrated, is what he thought of it.

A man passed by him, an office worker on the way home by the looks of him, not even sparing a glance at the dog that was standing underneath the cover of the awning that extended out from the hotel. His day had been a long one, and his focus wasn't on the dog that otherwise wasn't in his path... Though that focus changed quickly when the canine began barking at him, dragging his gaze down to the German shepherd, one that was rather large for a dog breed that was usually only big enough to reach his thighs. This one, barking at him with a pitch that didn't match it's size, was big enough to reach his stomach as it was, sitting. It was a mildly disconcerting sight, which quickly escalated to anxiety, and then fear, when the beast of a dog stood up and began stepping toward him; still barking away without a care in the world. The fear then tripled when he took notice of the markings on the dog's 'face', a patterned skull that would've otherwise been unimposing if it weren't on the face of a creature that was apparently displeased with him!

Jericho was finding endless amusement in the 'teasing' of this man, some random passerby who wasn't even doing anything all that inconspicuous; walking wasn't something that you could be found suspicious for, was it? Either way, he kept barking, trying to match the pitch to the size of the dog as best he could... Something that was a little more difficult than it appeared. Eventually he found it, that perfect pitch for the vocal cords of such a big dog: a deep basal sound that rumbled in the air as expected for something so big. He only stopped barking and advancing when the man took notice of the skull that always painted itself on his face, and bolted with his 'tail between his legs'. A small snicker was spared at the expense of the thought.

The dog remained standing, tilting its head for a moment as more people began their walking pass by it without really paying attention; the exception being a freckle faced boy who reached out and shamelessly began running his fingers through the fur of Jericho's neck. It wasn't as obvious as it could've been, but the boy was homeless, his scent gave it away to the 'changer.' The boy's stomach growled, and while the nameless child didn't take notice, Jericho did. The sound was a pitiful one, a simple groaning and churning that he was all to familiar with as he traveled from New Mexico to Texas... And so his mind was made up, a decision that wasn't really thought all to hard about as he made it. To the boy, the dog knelt down and turned its back to him, bowing its head and shaking its body in an effort to get him to hop on. The offer was taken, and with a sudden burst of speed that made no sense to even the 'dog' himself, they were on their way.

Trotting through the city, the canine and his rider found a relatively 'priced' sandwich shop, one that didn't seem to expensive, and yet wasn't so cheap that it would give something that the kid couldn't eat. Jericho wasted no time, forgetting for a moment that most establishments didn't take well to a dog just waltzing right on in, and padded up to the counter, sitting down again and letting loose a single, near deafening, bark at the employee who stood behind it. He remembered at the last moment to wag his tail, having come to the conclusion that most people who didn't deal with dogs found it a 'good' sign when the tail was wagging away. Another bark followed, and Jericho gave the best 'smile' he could as a dog, staring hard at the clerk who by the point of his second bark, looked as if she would rather be anywhere else. Yet another bark followed, and the freckled boy leaned on the dog, his stomach making another quiet growl as he too, stared at the clerk; puppy eyes- eheh- and a pouting lower lip peeking out at the woman in the hopes that she would take some small mercy.
Alexander Dalton

Why was it that every time Alex tried to get home by bus, he was always late? As The public transit bus finally came close to his stop he could help but scowl ever so slightly. With all the fidgeting he had been doing it was clear he wanted off already. every moment seemed to tick by at a snails pace before the driver finally announced his stop and opened the door. With little hesitation, Alex jumped out the doors and began running down the sidewalk, not so much as caring to wave back to the driver. He was just thankful to be on his side of town already. College had been so mind numbing that Alex swore he could have found more mental stimulation from beating his own textbook against his forehead a few times. Of course he didn't actually do such A ridiculous thing. Let alone in public. the sheer embarrassment alone would probably kill him. on top of that Traffic had stalled to a crawl. Probably due to Cape activity. He seriously considered that he should just find a route he could run all the way home. at least then there wouldn't be any need to worry about traffic setting him back. Plus it would count towards his after school workout. never can have too much cardio after all.

Alexander's thinking however distracted him enough that he had failed to see an elderly man making his way across the sidewalk to his car. Luckily he got out of his own head fast enough to realize what was about to happen. While still running almost full tilt, Alex coiled up and sprung into the air. Flipping over the surprised man. Having had just barely missed the mans head with one of his feet and knocked the poor gentleman's hat off. After A brief awkward apology, some scolding about needing to watch where he was going and returning the mans hat, Alex went about his way. Making sure to pay attention this time. Perceptive onlookers would have noticed that new cracks had formed on the sidewalk square Alex ad launched himself off of. Lucky for him nobody seemed to have payed attention and went back to what they had been doing. Just average people living their average lives in a not so normal world.

Three blocks of running later and he was finally at his house. Not really in the mood to stop and unlock the front door, he instead decided to take a more fun route. And that involved climbing up his drain pipe to crawl through his bedroom window. Again. After his successful shimmying Alex began dropping his things on his bed in the corner and undressing before announcing himself. "I'm hooooome!!" He was quickly greeted by the voice of his grandpa. "Boy how many times do I have to tell you to stop climbing through your window?! You don't have to keep breaking into your own home like some hoodlum!" Alex couldn't help but chuckle. His grandpa might complain but at least he was breaking into his own house instead of other peoples. A couple minutes passed as Alex went about checking his social media and email. No new mail, as usual. And the traffic didn't seem to have been backed up by any sort of known cape activity. Go figure. Time to get dressed and head back out. Pulling on his usual attire. Thin hoodie grey, hoodie black jacket, jeans, running shoes and of course his off-white beanie. He grabbed an unassuming duffel bag by his desk and checked its contents. Snacks, bottled water, phone charger and extra battery. Most important was the his hero costume. All neatly folded up and ready at a moments notice. He was glad he practiced changing in and out of it for as long as he did. Made it easier when something was going down and he wasn't suited up yet. Slinging the bag over his shoulder, Alex pocketed his phone and wallet then climbed back out the window. Time for a night on the town.

Climbing to the roof, Alex began his nightly rounds. Vaulting, sprinting, jumping and climbing. Alex skittered across the rooftops. every know and again activating his powers to give him an extra platform or a foothold where there wasn't one. Given the current streak he was having it was probably going to be another quiet night. with most criminal activity being taken care of before he even shows up. Nobody said being a vigilante by choice wasn't easy in a town full of capes. After taking a quick break to catch his breath there was an audible growl and gurgling sound. Looks like the tank is empty. While eating a power bar and calling it good sounded appealing, real food was a smarter option. After a quick survey of the area Alex spotted A fairly small shop. better then nothing. He climbed down the building he was perched on and jogged over. He was greeted with the usual ringing of a bell followed by a "Welcome!" when he walked in. There were already a few patrons inside, including a . . . Dog? Shrugging it off, Alex walked up to the counter grabbing a sandwich, some chips, and a monster energy drink. He took a seat away from everyone else and began enjoying his food. trying not to make eye contact but not look like some creep.
Capetown, TX. 09/17/2017, 6:33 PM. 85°F,
Partly Cloudy. Arc 1: Provenance.

The sandwich shop next door to Jasmin Lehtinen's appartment was a "Which Wich," and Jasmin just got half of a meatball sub, as she wasn't feeling particularly hungry. She sat at a table, brushing some crumbs off of the unwiped table, and took a bite out of her sub, leaning her body to the right with her arm propped up on the table, supporting her head. As she chewed, she put her sub down and swiped her bangs out of her eyes with her free hand. The pose she was striking made her look grumpy, with each chew of her sandwich making her head exaggeratedly bob up and down, as her jaw and right cheek rests in her palm, scrunching her face in an irritable position. In doing so, she ended up biting her cheek, muttering choice curses at herself, before sitting straight, pulling out her phone, and taking another bite of her sub, all in one motion. Jasmin
either sat still as a rock, or was overtly animated, with almost no in-between. Right now, she was animated, fidgeting, lightly drumming on the table, and swiping through her phone, staring with an unfocuzed expression at the screen. When she refocused her double-vision to take another bite of her meatball sub, a video posted by one of her 674 Capebook friends showed a villain in Capetown beating up a cop. He was a blur of movement, circling the cop, zooming down the block, then back to the cop, before focusing enough for the camera to catch him throw a punch at typical human speed, before becoming a blur again.

Mover 3 or 4, enhanced speed. Jasmin thought. Has to drop out of his super-speed to throw a punch. Likely that he can't exert force or interact with matter whilst in super speed. This is a Breaker trait. She noted his costume, a red hoodie and ripped blue jeans, a bullet proof vest under the hoodie, and a leather bondage mask likely purchased from an adult store to hide his face. New villain, don't know his name. No one major, just a powered thug. She squinted at her phone. Not someone even remotely interesting enough to invite to the gang.

Jasmin was abruptly snapped out of her concentration by the words "Mind if I sit here?" She looked up to see a woman sitting in the chair next to her. Jasmin was momentarily caught off guard by the blatant... Rudeness? No, it was more uncaring. To be rude generally implied intended maliciousness or inconvenience. This woman seemed less rude and more of a disregard, as if she expected Jasmin to say yes. Jasmin studied the woman for a second before opening her mouth. She noted the obvious stark contrasts, where Jasmin was so pale as to almost glow in the low light of the cloudy evening filtering through the shop's windowed front walls, the woman next to her was much darker. Not that that wasn't normal in Texas,
or Capetown, just an obvious thing to note. She noted her straight dark hair, a contrast to Jasmin's wavy multi-colored hair, and her red sportswear, still lightly damp with sweat, as if she had just come from working out somewhere, yet again contrasting Jasmin's more causal hoodie and yoga pants.. Interesting.
She thought, an eyebrow furrowed lower than the other, her face contorted in thought.

Jasmin shook her head at the newcomer, indicating she didn't mind, but didn't open her mouth to explain further. Instead,
she took another bite, and switched her phone from the social media it was on to some sort of online book, her screen white with black letters and nothing more. Jasmin read a paragraph, then two, before her concentration was yet again interrupted by the ding of the shop's bell and the clerk exclaiming their welcomes, reminding her of why she didn't enjoy going out in public as much as she thought she did when she was bored at home. It had been a man and a young girl who entered the shop, nothing worth glancing at twice before she went back to religiously devoting her eyes to whatever interesting story caught her attention today.

Ding. Third time's the charm, apparently, as her attention was torn from her online book to that of a large dog strutting into the shop and consequently barking at the cashier. The bark was less of a low woof and more of a high yelp that reverberated with some of the glass in the shop, before dropping to a lower, more natural, pitch with the next bark. As the dog wagged it's tail, Jasmin took notice of the small child that entered with the dog. Presumably, the dog was his. That made more sense. Still pretty god damn annoying. A few seconds afterwards, another man entered the shop. With Jasmin's irritation came the flickering of the lights in the shop. It was a quick flicker, and with a small shop as this, the patrons probably wouldn't pay too much mind as it would not be much out of the ordinary, but it was there. Jasmin took it as her cue to leave and began to stand up, as she was minorly annoyed, her sandwich was finished, her powers had leaked a tiny bit, and the shop was already nearing capacity with a dinner rush better than it had gotten in days. She knew, she ate here most nights.
◄:Terry ‘Tess’ Farina:►

“Ah, let’s see here…” Juggling a few books to her chest while trying to fumble around her bag for the store keys, Terry was just finishing up her shift at the unfortunately named ‘Bookies’. The owner, Mrs. Gretin, insisted that she’d never heard the term before, and thought it would make for a cute and appealing name as a bookstore. Alas, that did mean that Terry and the few other staff in her employ had to deal with the odd gambler looking to place some bets on horses. But that wasn’t the issue at hand. Terry had been working for Mrs. Gretin for some time, and as such, had been entrusted to do the odd night shift and shut up shop. So why was it that she couldn’t find the keys?

“I know I had them in here somewhere…” Mumbling to herself slightly, Tess sighed as despite a frantic scrabbling of her hand at the bottom of her large handbag, no pleasant jingling informed her of the location of her keys. Setting the books down beside her on the brick fence, Tess relented in her ‘quick’ approach and instead knelt to the floor, opening the bag and beginning to rummage through. Eventually she found what she was looking for clicking her tongue in mild annoyance as they’d gotten stuck tucked away into one of the lining pockets. Standing back up promptly, she quickly worked to lock the door, before striding down the few steps of the stoop and calmly heading down the street. Moments later she came running back, recollecting the books she’d left behind and tucking them under arm, jumping down the steps this time and jogging slightly as if her small forgetful moment had made her late in some way.

In truth, she wasn’t in any particular hurry. Whenever she had a late shift, her mother would usually have something in the fridge for her, but given this had been an unexpected shift, no one would be waiting up for her. Most would be saddened to work on a Sunday, but she didn’t mind, and she’d even found a few odds and ends new stories to take home. Still, it meant she’d have to pick something up to eat on the way home. Strolling down the street, Terry pulled out her phone briefly, taking a look at the time and any messages she would have received. Given how quiet work was though, it was unlikely anything would have changed since she last checked it five minutes ago. Almost 6:30… No wonder she was getting kind of ravenous.

Eying the various places along her route home, Tess briefly considered stopping at the ‘Which Wich’ on the way home, but visibly grimaced as she noticed the cloud of people inside. Seemed she wasn’t the only hungry person tonight, but that looked a little cramped for her liking, much as she loved a big doofy dog to hang around. Animals were much more pleasant company then people, and that one looked so smart and cute sitting in front of the counter - especially without a collar or leash or anything! It was probably a good thing she didn’t see the dog’s face. Not that Terry knew that. Re-shouldering her bag strap and straightening out the books under her arm again, Tess instead went back a block to cross the street, giving a polite wave to the car that stopped to let her past.

A burger probably wasn’t as healthy as the sub or wrap she’d get from a Which Wich, but a little indulgence never hurt anyone. It also came with the added benefit of little to no waiting as the queue was negligible. Soon after she’d ordered, she had her takeaway bag in hand, though now she was having trouble working out how to carry everything. Well, she certainly could carry everything, but she did want to get home soon, so she planned to try and eat on the move. Taking a small handful of fries as she mulled over her options, she decided she was impatient enough to try it. Carefully turning the books into a makeshift platter, she set the bag down on top, and began precariously balancing the load with one arm. Tucked in the elbow of one arm she kept her drink, the same side as her purse. That left her with one hole hand free to eat her burger with. Heading back out the door and across the street, she happily began munching away as she made her way home past the Which Wich; though it was annoying how her handbag strap kept slipping off her shoulder...

It had taken the woman long enough, but the clerk who worked behind the counter finally grabbed a sandwich for the boy beside Jericho, giving a strained smile to the boy in question, who quickly turned and left; giving one last pet to the dog that had managed to get him some food- For whatever reason. The moment the boy was out of sight, the employee was treated to another sight that promptly made her yelp, which then escalated into a sort of quiet horror. The 'dog' that had previously been barking at her, wagging its tail and looking friendly enough was on it's hind legs and staring at her, leaning forward with enough conviction to give her the impression that it had some amount of intelligence.

Jericho continued to stare at the cashier, letting his jaw split into a smile that he had hoped would look endearing... It was terrifying in reality, the Dia de' skull that adorned his face was split along with the fur and skin, giving show to all the teeth that lined the gums of his mouth. When the woman started staring, and then shouting at him, he paused and let the smile fall. He couldn't quite understand what was so discerning, weren't dogs cute? A shrug followed then, and he dropped the form in its entirety.

Black ink-like vines and marks spread over the fur of the dog; coiling in some places and pooling in others, giving way to a rather sudden shift in growth and size, legs becoming 'properly' bent and chest broadening enough to show a humanoid sort of figure. The 'sugar skull' painted on his face remained, as the skull itself rounded out and took on the proper shape for a human. The skeleton done, the muscles followed and then the skin; though over the chest and lower portion of the body, ink coalesced into a pair of blue jeans and a soft cloth hoodie, with what could be considered actual fur around the inside and lining of the hood and torso portions. Jericho grinned again, leaning on the counter once more and speaking as if he hadn't just been an overly large German Shepherd. "Hey! Thanks for feeding the kid. He was really hungry, and I figured that he could do with a meal. Except... I'm also kinda hungry!" He finished, cutting his long explanation short and standing straight up again.

The cashier hasn't listened, instead having chosen to just keep shouting and stammering, vastly unhappy that the dog that had 'coerced' her into giving some random child food, was apparently a teenager... Who also looked well off enough to pay for the food outright! She voiced this greievence aloud, angrily as well. Which of course left Jericho in a bad enough spot. Oops.

"Alright, lady. Just give me the purse and no one has to get hurt."

Jesus, do all of these guys learn English from 1940s gangsters or what?

The woman-- no girl she looked like she couldn't have been older than sixteen-- had her back pressed against the dirty brick of the alleyway. She didn't cower as the man advanced, knife extended. Instead, she held her crutches out in front of her, apparently ready to take a swing. Jason smiled from behind his mask. There were parts of Capetown that he hated-- the traffic, the weather, the neverending stream of superpowered bullies eager and willing to prey on the weak. But one thing he had to admit, the humans here were tough.

He dropped down hard from his perch overlooking the alley, landing in a crouch. His body shone brightly enough that when the man turned, he had to shield his eyes. Jason took his shot, lifting a hand to shoot a ray of dull red that knocked the man backwards and bounced him off of the adjacent alley wall. He restrained himself from delivering the kind of blow he really wanted. He had no clue what, if any, powers the guy was hiding, and it wouldn't do to smush a mover, just because he thought he was a brute. Whatever the thug's powers, they seemed not to protect him very well. He hit the wall and then fell face first to the ground, out cold. Jason turned his attention to the girl, who had slid down the wall to sit with her head between her knees. She was gasping, clutching her purse light she thought someone else might appear to take it away. Jason approached her slowly, knelt down to her level.

"You should go," he said, not unkindly. "No telling how long he'll be down. Are you hurt?" The girl shook her head and hesitantly accepted Jason's hand so that he could help her to her feet.

"I've seen you before on the blogs," she said. "You're Quantum." Jason smiled at her. "I always thought you'd be hotter," she said, nodding towards his hand. It glowed a dark, dull red, wisps of flame-like energy leaking out. Jason laughed out loud.

"Ouch, what a way to thank a guy," he said and stepped away to grab the mugger by the collar of his shirt. He gathered himself and then blasted up and out of the alley, mugger in tow.

"Thank you!" he heard called after him. Jason laughed again and arced gracefully, heading towards the police station. He dropped the mugger at their front door, and dropped a thumb-sized device next to him. The tiny drive had already been loaded on the flight over with a recording of the incident taken from the tiny camera in his mask. His sister might be an incredible pain in the ass, but there wasn't anyone he trusted more to make him good tech. He gave a short, almost mocking salute to the officers posted and arched away, coming to land on another rooftop somewhere downtown.

He would go home soon, relinquishing Capetown to another hero who would take over after sundown. He had a feeling that it was going to be a quiet night. Of course, he had no way of knowing that really. It seemed like new parahumans were practically flooding into Capetown, and for every one who just wanted to be left alone, there were two or three who were happy to exert their powers on others to take something they hadn't earned.

Still, maybe it was wishful thinking, or maybe it was the air of peace and tranquility the setting sun radiated over the skyline. But for one moment, Jason felt like maybe the tides were turning, that maybe tonight people would be safe. He sighed and sat down on the corner of building, dangling his legs over the edge. Probably just wishful thinking. he thought. and surveying the streets below. He powered down, and could almost feel the fizzle of his human body bubbling back into place. He was in his uniform, clad in black from head to toe. His mask beeped softly, a signal from his sister. She kept a tracker activated that pinged him when she was on the move and normally only shut if off if she was up to something he'd rather not know about. It seemed like she was headed downtown. He was toying with the idea of meeting up with her when quick movements out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

It's that kid again... In the distance, Jason could see a slight form sprinting across the rooftops, vaulting from one to the next. He tapped the side of his mask and the image expanded, zooming in. It was indeed the same kid he had seen several nights before. He looked like a teenager, blond, in jeans and a black jacket. Every once in a while, bright blue energy shot out from the kid that he would spring board off of and continue on with his sprint.

Jason stood as he watched him. He'd dealt with vigilantes before, but it was rare to find one this young and this dedicated. For five nights straight he'd seen this kid. He hadn't stepped in because so far he wasn't hurting anyone and he seemed to have a handle on himself and his powers. Still, Jason's curiosity was starting to get the best of him. He clenched his fists, and instantly his body flashed deep red. He lifted off from his perch and flew low, between buildings, shadowing the boy.

After a few minutes, the boy left the rooftops. Jason crept closer and watched as he entered a sandwich shop. He hesitated on the edge on the building. Should he go in? He had his civilian clothes on under his suit, it would be easy to blend in. He was interested in the kid. He was always on the lookout for the younger capes coming up, those who might benefit from a guiding hand...

His mask beeped again, this time with a message from River. He rolled his eyes and tapped the spot where his mask normally was. He had no idea how River had rigged the thing to continue to function when he was in Quantum form, but then again, the tinker ability was weird like that. A faint holoscreen appeared before his eyes. It was a video of a huge dog, a german shepherd barking, and a dingy kid at its side. Underneath the video a line of text flashed. Dog coerces sandwich lady to feed street kid. Capetown is weird. Jason rolled his eyes again and was about to close out the feed, but then he saw the kid in the background of the video.

Well, if she was already in place to do some reconnaissance... he hit a spot on his wrist, one that would enable speech-to-text so that he could reply. "Do me a favor. Check out the blond kid in the black jacket I need to know his deal."

Her table mate seemed not to be the friendly type, but she didn't object, so River seated herself. The girl kept her attention fixed on her phone and River settled into her seat with her chips, watching with mounting fascination as the shop began to fill, first with a teen and a kid who stared at her sandwich like she had never seen one before, then with a grungy street kid with a dog who began to bark at the clerk, and then an older teen who seemed to see the same madness as he entered, but grabbed his sandwich anyway and sat down to eat. Surreptitiously, she took a quick video of the scene and sent it to her brother. He should have been finishing up his patrol of the city by now. Maybe she could get him to grab a pie from their favorite cafe on his way home... Her phone buzzed, but she heard the message without checking.

Do me a favor. Check out the blond kid in the black jacket. I need to know his deal. River blinked and flicked her eyes to the boy who had come in last. He was possibly the least interesting thing going on at the moment. Just as she was about to respond, something happened. The security cameras around that store that River had been tuned into flickered, all of them at once. River blinked and glanced around. Had the lights flickered too? A moment later, her table mate stood without a word and left. River watched her leave with a bemused smile "Bye then," she said, mostly to herself, popping another chip into her mouth. She drummed her fingers on the table top a moment and then hit reply.

Fine. But I don't work for free. She added a cake emoji on the end of the text to drive her point home. She stood from her table and made her way over to the trash cans near where the kid was sitting. She had no clue what she would do to strike up a conversation with him... Just as she was beginning to fret, she caught sight of the counter. The dog was ballooning, rearing back on it's hind legs, it's skull reforming, its fur receeding. In a matter of seconds, a boy stood in the dog's place. River reeled back in shock.

"Holy shit!" she yelped and then flinched as she slammed right into the boy, her soda slipping from her grasp and splashing over his shirt and jeans. River blanched. That... had not been a part of her plan. "Sorry!" she exclaimed, reaching for the napkin dispenser. "Sorry, sorry, oh man, I just... did you see that? I'm not the only one who saw that, right?"
Alexander Dalton

The sandwich never stood a chance. Food tended to disappear into his mouth quickly. it wasn't that he wolfed down his food or anything. He was just a fast eater. After making quick work of his sandwich, Alex Popped open his bag of chips and absently snacked on them. He noticed The kid that was with the dog at the counter was leaving the store. Seeming happy enough with a meal in hand. Alex couldn't help but smile a bit at it. He was the kind of guy that had his faith in humanity restored after seeing such acts of kindness. His mind wandered again. Wasn't that what the wold needed more of anyway? People showing acts of kindness and decency? Maybe there wouldn't need to be any heroes if society was just a better, nicer place. The lights in the store suddenly flickered for a bit, dragging him off his train of thought for a moment. Probably just another power problem. been getting a lot of those lately. He shook his head. As optimistic as that sounded, that wasn't the kind of world he lived in. At least there were heroes in reality now and not just comics. Comic book heroes. Maybe someday there would be a comic about him. People going to conventions dressed as Aegis. Alex had to force himself not to laugh out loud at the thought. He let out a snort anyway. Yeah, that would be the day. More likely would he just be a B list vigilante that will fall into obscurity when he gets bored of almost getting his ass kicked at night.

What happened next almost made Alex choke on his chips. The German shepherd at the counter got up . . . on two legs. After what almost looked like reverse body horror, what was once a dog now stood some dude in face paint. Now Alex would have normally reasoned that this guy was just a parahuman. Most likely a changer type given the display of shapeshifting that everyone in the store had just witnessed. Normally yes. But he didn't notice the dark skinned woman slamming into him suddenly and having her soda spill all over his shirt and jeans. He barely moved an inch from the collision thanks to how heavy and solid he really was. But he really, really wasn't expecting the only normal shirt and pair of pants he had on him to get soaked in someones soda.

" Ah F@#$, Really?!" Alex swore loudly and quickly snatched up a few napkins and tried toweling himself off. "Sorry!" The woman apologized. " It's fine, Its fine. Not the worst thing i had spill on me." He was in the middle of trying to wring out his shirt when he looked up to see who bumped into him.

Alex was DEFINITELY Not expecting to see such an attractive woman. Not saying that Alex really had a "type" when it came to people. But she was certainly pretty. She was in the middle of reaching for some napkins while in shock over the shapeshifter. That's when his phone started buzzing against his thigh and he snapped out of it. The alarm. Shit he was going to miss his practice time before patrol. " Hey its no big deal. Listen I got somewhere to be like, Right now soooooooo . . . . .Bye." Almost fluidly, Alex pivoted out of his seat and slipped around the distracted woman. He Bolted out the door, his exit being heralded by the soft "Ding!" of the entrance bell.

Alex took no time climbing his way back up to the rooftops and heading down his normal route. Only slowing down to take out his phone and shut off the alarm. Thank goodness he had the damn thing set. who knows how long he might have gotten caught up in that scene happening at the "Which Wich." He stopped for a moment and had a thought. what if that guy back there wasn't just some prankster with powers? The creeping feeling that the shifter could possibly be up to no good almost made Alex want to go back and make sure everything was okay. Something in his gut though made him feel like he wouldn't be needed even if something went down. Granted he got that feeling a lot but this was more genuine then Him psyching himself out as usual. After a few more minutes of indecisiveness Alex just went back to his original plan. He vaulted off the old boarded up building he was standing on. landing with a thud that cracked the concrete under him. The abandoned parking lot before him saw little to no traffic or people for that matter due to all the junk and state of disrepair it was in. Nobody really saw much reason to come this way and it was secluded enough that Alex didn't have to worry about prying eyes. Well, lets do this. He quickly stripped down, unzipped his duffel bag, and changed into his costume. Alex hung up his shirt and pants and dowsed them with one of his water bottles. They should be alright by the time he got back. After hiding his bad and cloths, "Aegis" went about checking that his suit was all together and ready to go. " Alright, lets warm up." He put in his headphones. Blasted the song, and went at it.

He started with nothing special. Mostly just standard warm up drills anyone would do at a gym with a few decent punches and kicks here and there. It was afterward that Aegis started Doing things like punching concrete blocks into rubble, crumpling metal junk into balls and tossing it high in the air. That was when his goggles glowed sky blue. Throwing his had toward the metal, He bubbled it in a force-field. Alex played around with it for a bit. Making it fly around at various speeds, changing the barriers shape, even making multiple barriers and juggling the scrap ball between them. After a few minutes of this he set the junk down. That was fun and all, but now to try something else. Making his finger in the shape of a gun with his pointing finger and thumb, Alex aimed at the ball. A small blue bubble formed at the end of the "gun". After a second of aiming he fired off his "Bullet" the bubble zipped through the air and collided with the ball, bursting on impact but sending the ball flying a few feet back.

He grinned behind his mask. Looks like that works, better use it wisely and make sure he doesn't accidentally punch a hole in someone, or use a sharper shaped barrier. He shuddered at the thought. That would be bad. very bad. Villain levels of bad. " Alright, that's enough of that for the night, lets try and do some real hero work." Just before he was about to run off however there was a loud crash not to far from the lot. Followed by the sound of yelling. Huh, perfect timing. Hr hopped up a few midair barrier platforms onto a roof to get a view of the scene. There were three nasty looking men trying to corner another guy in an ally.

Alex swore this felt almost cliche. The one not looking so hot. All three of them men had weapons of some kind, no guns though. at least none visible. Not that it would be a problem. No time like the present. Snapping his fingers, a wall of transparent blue energy formed between the thugs and the injured man. The goon squad panicked and looked all around until they spotted Alex. " Sup." He jumped down in front of the three, shacking the ground so hard one of them fell on his back. " Alright, so hi. I'm Aegis, lovely night tonight huh? Okay, so here's how this will go, you punks can scram," He started to crack his neck and knuckles, sparks coming from the metal studs. " Or I knock you all senseless and leave you with a nice bow on you for the police to find. whats it gonna be?" The two standing simply looked at each other before dropping their weapons and running in the opposite direction. The third however got up and started to glow green. That cant be good. Alex lifted his hands open palmed, ready to bubble the guy. Nobody who has powers is ever going to just leave or come quietly are they?

Note: Work out music used Mick Gordon (feat. Omega Sparx) - I'm Back
◄:Terry ‘Tess’ Farina:►

Slowly making her way home, a normal person would’ve probably continued along without a second thought. But Tess wasn’t a normal person. At first, it was just something she could faintly hear, but with the slightest amount of focus, she was able to make out what was being said, and from where. "Do me a favor. Check out the blond kid in the black jacket I need to know his deal." Blinking once, Terry looked up towards the roof of the building across the street, squinting slightly as she could make out a figure up there. Immediately, she regretted her decision and looked back away, hoping that her glance was more subtle than it felt. Looking back into the Which Wich, it seemed the dog was still inside, along with the swarm of patrons. Of course, one stood out a little more in this situation.

The boy eating by himself at one of the tables matched the description she heard. Was he being targeted or something? Taking a last bite of her hamburger as she moved slightly past the doorway, Tess kneeled by the window of the store, reorganising her bag and the food as she tucked the burger wrapper away. Maybe it wasn’t any of her business, and maybe it wasn’t something untoward, but it wouldn’t hurt to watch for a few moments more. Pulling out her phone, Terry pretended like she was popular enough to receive a message, sipping from her drink while looking over the screen. Fortunately, she didn’t have to pretend very long before shouts and swearing could be heard from inside the store. Pivoting quickly on the spot, Terry immediately regretted the decision as she covered her mouth.

The dog- No, the… Whatever that was, began to shift and morph in a gruesomely disturbing twist of inky blackness. It was disconcerting and more than a little terrifying, Terry reflexively taking a step back from the scene. She really wished she hadn’t just been eating. Forcing down the uncomfortable feelings, soon enough, the transformation was complete; a young man standing at the counter and receiving more than a few stern words from the cashier. A shapeshifter? That really creeped her out… Shivering involuntarily, the mood in the store seemed to have drastically shifted with this new revelation; the parahuman in the middle of the room drawing everyone’s attention. Was he the one connected to the male on that roof?

Tess decided to tear her eyes away from the intimidating boy with the skull paint. At least, for the moment, though she still kept him in her peripheral vision in case he was an actual danger. The blonde man seemed to have gotten involved in some sort of mess with a lady in the confusion, though no sooner had they began speaking did the blonde fellow seem to remember something, suddenly darting around her and out the door. “Uh excuse me-“ Tess felt she had an obligation to warn the boy to his observers, but he was quick, and she wasn’t exactly loud. The fellow slipped out of earshot and into the nearby alleyway before she’d gotten more than two words in. Moving to briefly bundle her belongings up again, by the time Tess followed to the sidestreet, the boy was already gone. Parahuman as well? It wouldn’t be unheard of in Capetown. That might have explained the interest of the other party in observing him. Still, if he was a parahuman, he could probably handle himself. Hopefully. There wasn’t exactly much she could do at this point.

“I really need to stop sticking my nose into other people’s business… “ Tess finally concluded, checking her phone once more for the time. It was pushing closer to seven now. Not exactly the safest time of day for a lone young lady in a town full of super powered individuals. She really should start heading home before her father began worrying. Pocketing the device again, she made her way to pass the sandwich store for the third time that evening, briefly looking inside to see if the commotion had resolved, while at the same time glancing back to the building opposite. She couldn’t see anyone there anymore, so hopefully she was just being overly paranoid for that other boy’s safety.
Capetown, TX. 09/17/2017, 6:45 PM. 85°F,
Partly Cloudy. Arc 1: Provenance.

Something caught Jasmin Lehtinen's attention as she had her back turned, facing the door, about to walk out of the Which Wich. A strange flash, in her electromagnetic senses, one that differed from the background noise she ignored on a daily basis. See, when humans move or think, chemical reactions cause little flashes of electrical energy to expand or contract a muscle, or to connect a neuron. By itself, it would be nearly unnoticeable to her power. But with millions, or billions, of these chemical connections going on inside of a human body at a time, people tended to light up like Christmas lights in her electromagnetic senses. Combine this with the feeling of moving electrons she feels every time she enters an area with different background static charges, more in places with more bodies, more cloth, and the fireworks she feels whenever someone shocks themselves on a door handle, or another person, and her senses tend to get overwhelming. So she throws it on the backburner, ignoring it, like closing your eyes to stop sight, she simply usually turned off her electromagnetic senses. However, just as one can see bright lights through your eyelids, she, too, sensed this strange pattern, and immediately opened up her senses to see it happen. At the same time, she turned to watch with her eyes. She watched the dog that had been barking be consumed by tendrils of ink, the ink form a skeleton, and then organs form inside the skeleton, followed by muscle growing around the skeleton, and finally skin and hair, before the remaining ink formed clothes on the man who was standing where the dog had been seconds ago. All the while, her electromagnetic senses picked up the vibrant flashes of the muscles being built and connecting and making small movements, and the stream of electricity that flowed from the brain, down the spine, and along the muscles as the man shapeshifted.

Unknown villain, not a hero. She deduced, public display of identity and powers unsuited, villain behavior. Maybe she wouldn't leave just yet, she'd stay and watch, even as a few of the bystanders ran or made their way out of the shop, including a couple with a kid and a blonde man who had a drink spilled on him. By this point, very few people were left in the shop, all more or less focused on the Changer. Will this break out into a fight? Jasmin wondered, unable to fully read the situation. Ever since she received her powers, she'd done extensive research on parahumans, powers, power classifications, and she even browsed online forums enough to know many of the big name and smaller heroes and villains. Still, she'd never actually been in a fight with a parahuman, and she was suddenly wary, wondering if the Changer would turn violent, after displaying his powers to a bunch of people that could only be assumed to be unpowered.

Jericho's hands were raised, his otherwise unsettling face pulling into a sort of concerned frown. The clerk was still shouting at him, though by now he was just getting frustrated. "Hey hey... jeez. Chill out, I'll pay I'll pay, Christ." His voice tried and tired, eyelids dropping with a sort of languidly restrained irritation. Apparently the promise of payment to the clerk wasn't enough to placate her, and that only pushed his and her irritation further. "Look lady-" He tried again, only to find a hand in his face with the palm held out, a now silent voice still speaking volumes of expectation through an accompanying stare. She wanted money, and he said he would pay...

Another rippling transformation of ink pulsed out along his wrist, rolling down to his hand as a two inch long extension of bone pushed out through the now goopy and clumped skin; stained with ichor dark and inky- Eheheh. After a moment, the bone flattened out and shifted, seeming to fluctuate in its density before it became paper thin, and so bright a green that it may as well have been stop light green without the luminescence. Jericho held his breath, and then sighed it through his nose, stretching his hand out to the woman as she gave a scream- an actual scream. A full on, 'I'm being slaughtered and my kids are next', shriek. What the hell.

He voiced his thoughts on such, jerking his hand back and away as the formation of green ink and paper fell to the countertop and collapsed into a puddle of regular, good 'ol black ink. Ink that he- "I can't get that back." Another deep sigh, followed up shortly by the quickly put together revelations of many things at once.

She screamed, that was fine, but there were other people in here, that wasn't so fine; they might think he was attacking her- which he wasn't- but that would definitely fall in the line of being really not okay at all. He turned around and faced the people in the sandwich shop; he hadn't looked at the name, oops, and held his hands up innocently. " I didn't touch her, really, she's fine, I promise." The changer- hate that title so much- stated as calmly as he could, brown-black eyes staring at each face in the shop in turn; from the pretty woman who had bumped the blondie, to the two who were sitting at a table by themselves... and then to the chick- he thought she might be at least- who was staring inside the shop, directly at him. She looked like she was scrutinizing him, and it was vaguely unsettling, truth be told.

River flinched when the boy swore, shrinking away. It was an old instinct, one that always surprised her when it resurfaced. That time of her life when she could expect shouting to be followed by blows seemed so far away now. She was safe now, and knew how to protect herself if she wasn't. It was silly that her body was still reacting as if she was still 18 and trapped in a house with a ticking bomb. Shaking her head slightly at herself, River tried again to reach for the napkins, but the boy brushed past her smoothly.

"Hey its no big deal. Listen I got somewhere to be like, Right now soooooooo . . . . .Bye." He practically dashed from the restaurant. River rolled her eyes despite herself.

"Oh, no problem, just a bunch of women and children here with a skull-faced half-man-dog-thing, don't worry about us," she muttered under her breath. She cast a glance around the room, alarmed by the number of children she saw looking back at her. The boy hadn't done anything threatening so far, but in her experience, Paras who flaunted their powers were just gearing up to wreak some kind of havoc. She was loath to reveal her powers publicly, the police were sure to have some difficult questions about her income if she was flagged, but she couldn't just leave this restaurant full of people to fend for themselves...

"Hey, um, dog guy," she called. She straightened her back, hoping she was projecting her usual casual confidence instead of the complete baffled uncertainty that she felt. There wasn't much she'd be able to do herself if the guy turned violent, but she was at least sure she'd be able to take whatever he would dish out better than the others in the shop. It was better to draw his attention to her than let him stay focused on the poor shop girl. She ran a hand through her hair and there was a quiet click as the handful of security cameras shut themselves off and all of the cell phones in the shop lost reception. If she had to act suddenly, she'd rather not have to worry about purging evidence afterward. "You're not planning on robbing us or anything, right?"


It seemed that no sooner had River agreed to watch the kid than he exited the restaurant, nearly knocking over a girl lurking near the door and dashed back into another alley. A moment later, he was back on the rooftops. Jason followed quickly, again making sure to keep out of the boy's line of sight. He was heading in a straight line and he looked familiar with the route. Jason wracked his brain, trying to remember if he had seen the kid in this sector. He was usually relinquishing patrol to someone else by now.

The boy came to a stop in a dangy worn down part of town, in a cracked and abandoned parking lot surrounded by shuttered buildings. He's training, Jason realized, watching the boy throw junk around, shrouding it in sky blue energy. Jason crept closer, crouching down around the corner, careful to stay out of the boy's line of sight. His energy didn't seem to damage what it interacted with, it seemed more like a manipulative shield, similar to Jason's own power. And he was strong. Jason was contemplating revealing himself when there was a loud crash from a nearby alley. They boy heard it too and charged toward the commotion. Jason shadowed him and quickly came upon the scene. The boy generated a shield, protecting the civilian and challenged the three thugs. Two ran off, while the other glared and began to glow a poison green. Jason swore and sprang into action. He'd ran into this villain before and if he didn't act quickly a lot of people were going to get hurt. He dropped down to land next to the boy and shot a broad ray of red light at the villain. He flew backwards out of the mouth of the alley, arching high in the air. In the split second before he hit the ground, Jason jumped, executing a neat flip over the top of the force field and threw his arms out, projecting a second shield around the civilian trapped there.

"Brace yourself!" he shouted at the boy. A moment later, the villain hit the ground.


The explosion was huge. He must have been gearing up to blow even before he started glowing. If it had gone off in the alley there's no way someone wouldn't have gotten hurt.

During the time she waited for her second sandwich, some interesting identities entered the store. Like, that dog that didn't really seem act like a real dog at first. It turned out that it really wasn't a dog. It was something not quite human, and the scream indicated that it wasn't just her who found this kind of power... special.

Mara tilted her head in curiosity. What kind of power was that? Changer? She would have said something if it wasn't for the look Ace gave her. She remembered the general rule he followed: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it. Mara intended to follow the rule, so she kept her mouth shut.

As she munched on her sandwich, she kept her eyes glued to the table. How many capes were here? How common could you run into someone with abilities? She wondered.

"Hey, um, dog guy," a woman said. Mara didn't look at the woman. Ace, as expected, noticed and was immediately on guard. Another cape? Was she going to attack? "You're not planning on robbing us or anything, right?" The girl still munched on her sandwich, but finally peeled her eyes from the wooden table to look at the woman and the other cape.

Oh. She was that adult woman who was talking with the other adult woman from when she first entered the restaurant. Mara could only watch on in to see what would happen. She wasn't quite done with her sandwich yet. Besides, she'd never gotten attacked before. To hurt her is a difficult task for weak capes if they didn't know her ability. Her guard was mostly down, but Ace's guard was most certainly up.
◄:Terry ‘Tess’ Farina:►

The tension was still in the air of the store, with only a few remaining people inside. The shaper was still the focus of the attention given his earlier display, but as of yet, hadn’t made any dangerous motions. At least, if making a mess on the countertop didn’t count as something sinister. Still, it was impossible to ignore the screams and panic of that clerk. A few of the scared individuals that had fled the store were now getting well clear of the scene, and judging by the phones in their hands, it was likely the police or a hero agency had been called. Awkward as the situation was, it was handled… Right? It’s not like she could step in without drawing undo attention to herself – Anyone with the confidence to do so was basically telling those around them that they were likely a parahuman themselves. She could probably slip off to change, but despite the loud cashier and heavy air, it seemed unnecessary.

Indecision plagued her. Or perhaps it was more she’d made the conscious decision to wait? Regardless, that confident woman had the guts to ask the important question that would either defuse or escalate the situation. Maybe she could’ve done that if she’d been in the room, but as it stood, she was an outside observer. She’d made up her mind. Heeding her earlier advice to herself, Terry finally stepped back away from the window, continuing her way down the street and back towards home. Even so, her ears were peaked to try and eavesdrop on the changer’s reply, just in case. She wouldn’t get to hear too much more then that as she made her way from the store. Well, unless things got really messy and broke into a huge fight – and at that point, she’d be able to make her way back.

The trip home was peaceful. Well, relatively peaceful. Since she was running behind, Tess decided to take a couple of the shortcuts she’d learned in her time living in Capetown, moving through the odd alley and busted up chain link fence. Her family wasn’t exactly poor, but they weren’t extraordinarily well off. Still, her mother was a shrewd woman. Which was another way of saying she was a cheapskate. As such, a cheaper rent in one of the shadier neighbourhoods wasn’t much of a concern for her parents; at least for a few years until they reconsolidated their funds to purchase something more substantial and not have a crippling mortgage. Either way, it wasn’t a huge concern of Tess’. She had a modest savings from her casual work, and hopefully the grades for a scholarship of some sort. If not, it was just a matter of finding some like-minded individuals to be roommates with. No sweat.

A crash sounded off in the distance, quite far by Tess’ estimation. She’d found she was getting better at judging sounds and the like, especially when it was quiet enough to focus on them like this. An accident? Or something else? Shaking her head, she decided to continue on her way. She’d already made up her mind that she couldn’t keep stopping for each and every little sign of danger. There were plenty of actual heroes for that, and if she didn’t get home, her parents would worry. She couldn’t risk having her secret out. Just as she was thinking that, an explosive green light lit up part of the horizon, a rumbling sound and rush of wind reaching her after a short delay. Must have really been something if she could feel it from here… Her hands fidgeted slightly as she looked in the direction of the explosion. Giving an exasperated sigh, Tess continued on her way, moving parallel to the distant blast. Something like that wouldn’t go unnoticed. Heroes would be there. They could handle things.

It wasn’t long before Tess stumbled upon some people. Striding down the street, she cocked her head to the pair of panting voices, eying the two scruffy gentlemen in her way, though neither seemed to have noticed her. The two looked more than a little shaken, so perhaps that was why she was so fortunate. Not wanting trouble, especially in her civilian wear, Tess tried to stealthily cross the street to avoid them, not making eye contact and keeping her head low. The one on the left was tall, thin, with a number of piercings and one of those large ear spreaders. His hair was tied behind him in a greasy rat’s tail, his outfit a decidedly punk ensemble, and although she wasn’t the kind to judge books by the cover, she visibly grimaced. His partner didn’t look much better, a balding fellow in stained white tank top, some degree of muscle showing. Both were panting as they caught their breath, leaning against the brick wall for support.

“Shit, how do the freakin’ capes get there so fast?” Ratty spoke, resting his hands on his knees before sitting up. “Think someone snitched? Or maybe that guy’s psychic?”

“I don’t know how them freaks work! Just be glad we got out of there before that guy exploded! Whoever that Aegis guy was, he’s got to be toast now!” Baldy replied, spitting a wad to clear his mouth. “Not that we’re gonna find any cash in that mess. Damn it, let’s get the hell out of here!”

“Whoah whoah, easy there Buck. This is our chance.” Rat-tail grabbed his friend by the shoulder, raising a finger to indicate he had an idea. “While our friend draws all the focus of the heroes that way, we just need to find ourselves another target, snatch us some quick cash, and get off scot free.”

‘Buck’ as he was revealed to be, gave rat a look of disbelief. “You crazy man? You still wanna go after getting that close to that mess? What if another fre-“ Baldy didn’t get to finish his sentence as Rat-Tail interrupted. “What’s the chances we run into another one? Our luck’s not that bad you dipshit.” Slapping Buck on the back, Rat took a few jogging steps away, spreading his arms wide. “Come on, stop being a chicken bait. We-“ Ratty stopped speaking, and Tess knew that was a bad sign.

Pheeew~, See? When life gives you lemons…” Ratty whistled, then whispered to the bald fellow, and Tess distinctly heard the sound of jogging footsteps coming up behind her. “Hey, hey, missy, what’s the hurry? Those are some big books, need some help?” Ratty was closing in, and Tess wanted no part of what he was planning. Hastening her pace, she hoped he’d give up the chase, but the gangly man wasn’t slow. “Hey, hold up, I just want to talk!” Tess risked a glance behind her, and was startled to see him less than a couple of metres from her, reaching forward to take her arm.

Breaking into a run as the snatch came in just wide of Terry’s hand, she heard Rat-Tail shout to Baldy to get after her as well, but was confident she could escape given her abilities as a parahuman. At least, until she heard the rumble of an engine. Stealing another backwards glance, she spotted Ratty clambering onto a motorbike with Buck at the front, gunning it to follow after her. There was no doubt in her mind that she could deal with two ordinary individuals, but she couldn’t transform without completely revealing her identity. She had to find somewhere to hide or outrun them, and then Hush would make sure that they ended their night in a jail cell.

Knocking a trashcan behind her in an attempt to slow them down, Tess really hoped she’d get that chance as she ducked into another side alley. She could handle it... Right?

Jericho gave a heave of a sigh, his hearing not well enough off to hear the cameras clicking offline, nor in any position to do anything about it. After a thought, he shifted his stance and let a rising formation of ink and sharpened bone flow up from his shoulder blade- an extension of that very bone- and roll down towards his palm as he spoke to the cape who had posed her question. "Yeah no, chica I had just wanted some food- I was goin' t' pay but I mean hey ya know, people see somethin' they should be used to with all th' capes we have around here and they immediately flip and scream at me like I'm a freak or somethin'. Kids love the face paint when I'm smilin', and yet this lil' lady here shrieks once and..." He trailed off, letting his rambling tirade fall away to silence. He frowned again, focusing on the ink on his face as it softened; the skull becoming more prominent and colorful while the eyes of its 'wearer' shifted to a brighter, mellowed brown and amber.

The boy shifted again, glaring now with a sort of expression that seemed to scream 'this isn't my fault.' In his hand was a deep blue rose, colored as if someone had taken blue pen and colored in the petals and stem. It looked as authentic as one could get a flower, and as Jericho snapped it off at his wrist, it remained. He spoke no more either, turning to the counter and leaping over it instead as his form rapidly shifted as before: swirls and collections of ink taking over the form of his humanoid form.
The sound of claws clacking on the floor made itself loudly apparent, where Jericho once would have landed now stood a humanoid form of another creature. A pair of onyx black antlers sprung into the air, extending from the curve of a fleshless deer head that was ridiculously predatory. Changed and gone were the flat teeth that all deer had, in their place was the sharpened canines of... well a canine. The front of the skull held two nostril holes that led to an otherwise unseen nasal cavity. Above that, where the orbital cavities would've held the eyes of the deer, another hole seemed to expand outward, steaming faintly from an unseen source of heat. The skull, modified as it was, was attached at the base to a thickly furred neck that broadened out into a torso that was as broad around as a barrel. The flesh that would have covered the sternum and some small parts of the ribcage was missing, strips of fur and flesh hanging down and swaying in the air as the beast moved- long arms with long fingers and surprisingly short if sharp claws touched on the floor behind the counter.

Though the hind legs were hidden, the tapping of the claws that were on them was still audible, made into scraping sounds as the now monster turned and ducked into the kitchen behind the counter; vanishing from sight with immense speed and some amount of grace. The sound of bone clacking against metal and packages being opened began to echo from the back, the Changer's attention apparently having shifted to filling his stomach.

The rose stayed on the floor, dropped during the change, and shining faintly in the glow of the fluorescence of the lights overhead. The clerk was screaming. Again.

“How are the callers tonight?” Kayle looked up from grabbing his jacket as another member of the radio team managed to pop in to take his spot on the evening shift, the last one before the automated music system took over for the graveyard section.

“Not bad, had a couple of idiots call in with political opinions, but such is the risk you take.” Kayle responded with a light smile, flipping his jacket onto himself. He made sure his keys were in his pocket and he grabbed his opaque black motorcycle helmet.

“Right, always a few of them. I always hang up and pretend like there was a bad connection.”

“Ignorance is it’s own reward sometimes. The more ‘out there’ ones entertain the listeners, so may as well let them rant for a while.” Kayle stated, taking a look around the room to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything.

He was standing in a standard radio recording room. A red light, that was currently off, sat above the door to let the hosts know when they were live. In the middle of the room was a fairly large table capable of seating several people and filled to the brim with mics and recording equipment, not to mention papers and reminders for the hosts. The room itself was painted a pleasant blue, with a window overlooking the city from their third floor position and a window off to the side showcasing the recording studio section. There sat a tech who was more busy with his phone at the moment than he was with the controls, which was to be expected as they were running uninterrupted music for the next half an hour.

“Eh, I’d prefer not to spread it if I can help it, but that’s just the Crunkster way!” Kayle looked over at his fellow host. The ‘Crunkster’, a.k.a Phillip Unnetti was a heavy set man who could stand to lose at least 60 pounds, but he had a great voice for radio and a rather magnetic personality that flowed with an electricity and excitement that you simply wouldn’t expect from a man of his size. A big bushy beard, long hair that reached down to the middle of his back and a smile that simply beamed with genuine happiness projected an impression of the jolly fat man. Honestly, Kayle liked the guy. They weren’t necessarily close, but he was easy to talk to and easy to listen to.

“A fair point, to be sure. I left you the traffic reports there, and there’s a box of donuts. Sorry, they’ll be a bit old at this point.” Kayle stated as he twirled his helmet around his fingers.

“No such thing as a bad donut buddy. Take care out there, heard traffic is backed up for miles again.”

“Hence why I don’t own a car.” Kayle smiled, holding up his helmet. “And with that, Talion’s out. Enjoy the night!”

“Will do Kangaroo!” Phillip stated, taking his seat at the table and organizing his notes for the night broadcast. Kayle made his way out of the recording studio, giving a nod to the tech who gave a two finger salute as a wave goodbye. Exiting out the stairs and descending the two floors to the ground, Kayle exited the building and walked the couple of blocks to where his bike was parked.

An older Yamaha, purple with a black finish. It was nothing particularly flashy, having a bit of dirt on it to detract from the overall style of the vehicle, but Kayle enjoyed it all the same. Flipping on the helmet and starting up his bike, he started the long trek back home.

Once again, he was met with resistance as he weaved through cars, much to the chagrin of everyone else who was stuck. Horns blared, swears were uttered and more than enough fingers were given to Kayle to make him feel a little fuzzy on the inside. A part of him never understood their anger. He wasn’t damaging their cars and he wasn’t breaking any laws, but jealousy was a powerful emotion apparently.

Well, of course it was, Kayle knew that all too well.

He continued on the Loop for some time until even his skills on a bike weren’t going to get him much farther. With several large trucks making the spaces too small for even him to get past, he decided that was enough of that and shoved himself off onto an exit. While it wasn’t his normal route, and to be honest with the way traffic was he didn’t really have one, he was confident in his ability to get back home with little trouble. After all, aside from the busiest street in all of Capetown, traffic should start slowing down now that it was getting closer to 7.

As Kayle started flying down the nearly empty streets of the city, he started imagining the stir fry sitting in his fridge with an almost salivating grin. He was hungry, he had to give up his lunch today when a major accident on the 7-9 left a lot of people angry and cut off. He had taken the time to give minutely updates on the situation and was left with only donuts to snack on. He wasn’t much for sweets, so after just one he had decided that was enough for him. The hum of his own engine was cut off by a couple yells as he rounded a corner with enough time to see a woman duck into an alley and a couple of men on a bike take pursuit. Kayle stopped his bike, popping up his visor to view the spectacle as the two men entered the alley.

Is this worth delaying my stir fry supper? Kayle wondered, after all there were plenty of Capes out tonight. That being said, he was hungry and this could be entertaining enough to distract from his hunger for awhile. Kayle sighed as he pulled the bike into the alley and started the pursuit. He shrouded himself in darkness as a precaution. His face was already covered by the opaque nature of the helmet, but he didn’t want them to recognize his bike. In a moment, in the shadows of the alley, all one could perceive was the sound of another motorbike as it continued its pursuit.

Before long, Kayle had run into them again, stopped in the middle of an alley seemingly in some sort of argument. Had they lost the girl? Had she gotten away? It would make things a lot easier for Kayle if she had, but he doubted that was the case. Chances are she managed to hide somewhere, and they were most likely on top of her. Kayle pulled up close enough to the two of them for their heads to turn and their eyes squint at the source of the sound.

“Is that a...motorcycle?”

“Don’t know...I can’t see shit.”

“You don’t think she found her own bike?”

“Nah, that’s probably not it.” Kayle stated, projecting his empathic aura forward as a sense of dread and fear started to creep into the minds of his two targets. Already, their faces were starting to contort with an array of different emotions that Kayle specifically blended to create a sense of panic.

“Ho fuck! What is that! WHAT IS THAT!”


“What, so you can do this again? I would much rather prefer a straightforward approach.” Kayle launched his chains forward faster than either of them could react, wrapping around their legs as they clawed at the dark constructs and sending the bike they were using flying down the alley with a cacophony of deafening noise as it broke to pieces.

“WHAT IS THIS! WHAT THE FUCK! GET IT OFF!” They were yelling interchangeably, meanwhile the chains continued to constrict with all the force of a vise. Soon, there was the telltale crack of bones snapping, followed by screams of pain and terror as Kayle lifted them into the air and threw them back into the street.

“If you can’t use your legs for decent pursuits, there’s no need for you to walk.” Kayle whispered, giving a smile beneath his helmet before he realized they couldn’t see it. He mentally slapped his forehead, forgetting he had blocked his calling card from view. Well, could be worse I suppose. Kayle thought to himself as he looked around the alley for the woman they were chasing. With his night vision, he could see as clearly as if the sun was shining in this exact spot, but he didn’t spot anything. Maybe she had gotten away? In which case, he was delaying his supper.

Still, before he could take off he had to do the responsible thing. As much as he wanted to leave those pricks crawling around in the middle of the street until they expired, he knew that particular bit of knowledge to any person would peg him as a monster. They still viewed him as a monster anyways, but that would legitimize their campaign against him. So with that in mind, he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket, slid up the visor of his helmet and placed the cell as close as he could to his ear. His shadow cover fell away as he sat on his bike, the phone ringing quietly between the screams of pain from the two thugs.

“911, what’s your emergency.”

“I need police and ambulance to 12th and...uhhh…” Kayle looked around for another sign, only to mentally reprimanded himself again, because he was in an alley and there wasn’t going to be a sign here. “Let’s see, drove several blocks...stopped, alley...12th and Chrone street. Two thugs, badly injured, multiple broken bones and possible internal bleeding.”

“Who is this?”

“I would suggest putting a hustle on it.” Kayle said as he ended the call. Every single dispatcher was the same, asking ‘Who is this?’ every time he gave the location of people he couldn’t be bothered to personally drop off at the police station. It got annoying after a while. Placing his phone back into his pocket, he flipped down his visor and started taking off down the alley.

He still had stir fry waiting for him at home.
Capetown, TX. 09/17/2017, 6:56 PM. 85°F,
Partly Cloudy. Arc 1: Provenance.

Shit, Jasmin Lehtinen thought. I have to do something about this.

Jasmin watched with an intensity that bordered on awe as the Changer leapt over the counter and Jasmin saw fireworks,
and behind it swirling darkness, obscure the form of the Changer as her electromagnetic senses picked up the currents flowing through the Changer's body as he reconfigured his biology. In that split second, she looked down to her phone to note that both her cellular service and LTE data were cut out, displaying "No Service" at the top left of the screen. Can't look him up on parahumans online to learn more about him. She thought gravely. Time for Plan B. She pulled out a plastic container filled with very fine iron filings and poured the powder on her face. It magnetized, sticking to her face, leaving small spikes in the iron sand on her face to follow the magnetic lines. It was her temporary mask, when she was forced to use her powers, to help conceal her identity. She also threw up her hood, for it to conceal her short hair, and dropped into a boxing/fighting stance.

Then she realized something. Cameras. Shit. She looked at the nearest one, in a corner of the room, and she noticed, or more accurately felt, no current actively flowing through the wires. They're off. She wondered, thinking it was strange. They still had gotten her civilian identity on camera before they flicked off, but she didn't risk destroying them, as she didn't want a lightning strike to be seen as an act of aggression by the Changer. She would let him know she was armed, however, as there was a high-pitched zzzzzt sound as electricity crackled and popped in arcs between her two fists.

"If you are not a parahuman, leave the shop at once!" She shouted, startled at the sound of her own voice. First time she had spoken in about two hours. She saw a couple leave the shop, before she turned back to the Changer. "Let me guess, you named yourself something super-edgy." She sarcastically quipped, mainly to settle her own fear at the situation. "Like 'Inkdeath.' Nah, pretty sure that's a book. Hmm. That form looks more like a Wendigo. Is that it? 'Wendigo?' " She recived little more than what she assumed to be a grunt, in response. She changed tactics.

"Hey, look, I'm not sure if you don't know the unspoken rules between villains in this city, but before you go committing crimes, you gotta see what local gang owns the territory. Otherwise, you're causin' crime that'll potentially piss off the local kingpin. I don't work for the guy who's claimed these few block, villain named 'Splatterblood,' another edgy-as-fuck name." Jasmin paused her monologue, eye-ing Wendigo, noticing that he opted to ignore her and start eating all the food in sight behind the counter, virtually swallowing bread and various unmixed ingredients. "But I do like this shop, and would appreciate villains not robbing it for no reason." Lightning popped in the air around Jasmin filling the shop with the smell of ozone, blue light momentarily combating the shop's bright white light and lighting up the building across the street with blue flashes through the shop's front window-walls.

((All percieved power-gaming of me controlling Wendigo is premeditated between me and StorminJericho. I had his permission. No power-gaming/god-modding at play.))
◄:Terry ‘Tess’ Farina:►

Tess was running out of time, fast. With the two goons hot on her heels, and only a few fleeting moments left where she was clear of their line of sight, she needed to make a decision. Transform and fight? Try to hide? Attempt to outrun them? None of those options sounded appealing, as all likely ended with her getting caught and revealing her identity in order to protect herself. Every moment she kept running, her options narrowed, and if she didn’t do something, the decision would be made for her. Wrenching her eyes shut, Terry silently swore to herself, and dragged herself to the side, crouching down amongst some trashbags and garbage as she held her nose. Ew, ew. Hopefully those bozos would be dumb enough to just keep speeding past this mess – It wouldn’t take too much effort for them to see her once they got past the trash pile, but hopefully they weren’t that bright to realise there was nowhere else she could have gone.

The sound of the motorbike’s rumbling engine reached the entrance to the alley as it pulled in, but contrary to Tess’ hopes, the engine seemed to slow as the motorbike crept along steadily. “No way that broad got out to that street, she’s gotta be here…” Ratty commented, Tess hearing footsteps as he climbed off the bike and strode a bit further down the alley, occasionally peering into a trashcan or kicking a cardboard box. “Freakin’ city needs to get its shit together, could do with some light in this alley to find her…” He muttered, stopping just short of Terry’s hiding place as he turned back to Buck. “What are you standing there for ya dope? Help me look!”

“Jim, let’s just get out of here. I got a bad feeling man…” Buck pleaded, glancing back behind him for a moment. Ratty didn’t seem to care, spouting off some nonsense about ambition, fighting back, cowardice… Whether it was working or not, Terry never got to see, as the two suddenly went silent as another sound filled the alleyway, that of another bike.

“Is that a...motorcycle?” Buck asked, glancing to his partner

“Don’t know...I can’t see shit.” Rat-face muttered, apparently still annoyed with his comrade.

“You don’t think she found her own bike?” Buck added, and was about to shield himself from the incoming slap to his head for his idiocy before a third voice spoke out, stopping the two mid-act.

“Nah, that’s probably not it.”

The next moments were a whirlwind of chaos. Screams and swears of pure, genuine terror filled the alley as Jim and Buck sounded scared out of their minds. A rattling sound and squeal of metal scraping metal was heard, and although Tess had been gearing herself up to peer out from her cover, she instead gave a soft yelp of fright as she ducked her head back down to avoid the two’s motorbike sailing clean over her head, already splintering into pieces as it bounced and tumbled down the alley in a reckless spin. Staring back behind her to the broken mess for a few moments, the next few sounds sent shivers through her body.

*Crack* It was a visceral sensation hearing that sound, along with the agonised cries of her pursuers. That sound soon faded out to nothing as the pain was too much for them to bear, shifting the thugs into unconsciousness. Shortly after, two hard and heavy thuds hit the ground, Terry covering her mouth to silence her scream as the incapacitated bodies of Ratty and Baldy fell to the ground just in front of her. She could clearly see the look of fear still etched on their faces, as well as the awkward direction their lower limbs had bent. It was horrific, and she had to bring her free hand to try and hold her other to stop the trembling. J-Just who… Or what..?

She could still faintly make out the sounds slightly further down the alley, along with the soft noise of… Ringing? A phone? “I need police and ambulance to 12th and...uhhh…” It was a male voice that spoke, the same as the one before, and likely the culprit behind her… Rescue? Or was it more of an assault on those two? Removing her glasses for a moment, Tess slowly positioned them to get a bit of a view in the reflection, and was surprised to see not some monster, but a young man. She’d personally been anticipating another terrifying Changer. Returning her glasses to her face, her mind began to race. Should she say something? He hadn’t seemed to have noticed her, so she could just hide and slip off like nothing happened. And yet…

Steeling herself, Tess waited to the last possible moment as the boy mounted his bicycle before standing up, clutching one of the second-hand books to her chest as if it would afford her some protection should he turn on her. “Hey!” Terry’s voice was a bit louder than she intended, but it did seem he was about to take off. Maybe he still would. “I appreciate you helping me but… Isn’t this a bit excessive? Aren’t you a hero or something?” Tess normally wasn’t the kind to speak like this, and maybe she shouldn’t considering what those men had been trying to do but… There was no need for that brutality, and she wasn’t about to just sit by and ignore it. Despite the strength of her conviction, he voice did quiver slightly, as did her legs tremble. After seeing what he’d done, she was scared, sure. But there were some values she held highly, and would never compromise on.

The sound of crackling electricity reached Jericho's shifted ears before the actual sight of the girl who wielded it. He chose to ignore it, even ignoring the following shout of. "If you are not a parahuman, leave the shop at once!" He would've kept minding his own business if he could've... But of course, whoever the cape was decided that she had other ideas. He could hear the feminine voice talking to him, words that in the moment meant nothing to him considering that food was more important than whatever the hell this cape wanted. He wasn't hurting anyone, jeez.

"Let me guess, you named yourself something super-edgy... Like 'Inkdeath.' Nah, pretty sure that's a book. Hmm. That form looks more like a Wendigo. Is that it? 'Wendigo?' " Wow. That was pretty presumptuous and rude, wasn't it? What if he didn't even have a name made yet? Sure he was a parahuman but he wasn't a villain or anythin'. He made a single grunting noise, a mix between the 'mhh' that humans are capable of making and a crackling insect-like hiss that humans aren't. She kept talking at him, Jesus christ- "Hey, look, I'm not sure if you don't know the unspoken rules between villains in this city, but before you go committing crimes, you gotta see what local gang owns the territory. Otherwise, you're causin' crime that'll potentially piss off the local kingpin. I don't work for the guy who's claimed these few block, villain named 'Splatterblood,' another edgy-as-fuck name... But I do like this shop, and would appreciate villains not robbing it for no reason." Which, as he listened to it, Jericho found that the logic wasn't necessarily wrong or anything.

But then lightning popped and crackled in the air, and if that wasn't some amount of threat towards him then Jericho really hadn't a clue as to what could be considered so. If the little lady with the bolts wanted to be all big and threatening well hell. She could have her cake and eat it too. The 'Wendigo'- heh that name might actually stick, pretty good, even if he hadn't already thought of it himself -turned, finally paying attention to the monologuing cape that was so insistent on paying attention to him. A metal mask adorned her face, that much he could see, but her 'costume' was pretty lackluster. Oh well, he understood that enough too... Even if he was pretty ticked off that he couldn't finish his own 'cake'. Wendigo's voice- oh hell yes, that title will fuckin' do quite nicely, thanks very much -rattled out of the open holed barrel chest, sounding to the ears like someone threw a rock into a washing machine and set a muscle car engine to half throttle. "This form is hard to talk in, so I'll be quick," The I's in his speech were lost in the humming rattling growl of a voice, sounding more like 'ay's', "I don't want to fight, innocent people out there. Hungry, so back off." There, she was properly warned! ... When the girl stayed, Wendigo decided that there wasn't much point in continuing to talk, ignoring her once again and going back to his scrounging of a meal. He was annoyed sure, but if the lightning cape decided she was gonna just stand there, then that was fine by him. As long as there wasn't anymore threatening behavior, she was fine to stay there as she pleased.

The parahuman said something, and Mara was reminded of a certain character from the Harry Potter series. What was his name again? Tom? Well, all that mattered was that the parahuman seemed a little pitiful. Someone not accepted even among his own kind. She didn't have much time to think.

As his very form started to shift again, the boy who came in with the dog looked especially alarmed. Scared, she corrected herself. Someone was screaming again and that annoyed her, but it didn't matter in comparison to what was happening right before her eyes.

Gazing upon the ink swirling and taking form from behind the boy, Mara was captivated. She'd never seen a power quite like this before. Then again, she was never out much so she might be lacking in knowledge. The transformation was completed, and the final result made her heart pound. It was ugly. It was something not human. It looked frighteningly dangerous. And yet, she still wanted to run her fingers through the fur swaying elegantly as the thing moved. She was sure that her thoughts were something her brother would disagree with.

Not soon after, the parahuman seemingly disappeared from behind the boy. There was suddenly noise from the back of the restaurant as if an animal was ravaging and running into things. It did well to snap her out of whichever trance she'd been in. And then, the girl watched in wonder as the room lit up yellow and white with buzzes and crackles echoing around the room. An electricity user. She was seeing all kinds of wonderful things today!

"If you are not a parahuman, leave the shop at once!" A voice shouted. Mara tore her eyes from the entrance to the back of the restaurant to the source of the loud voice. She saw a woman, maybe a girl, with her hood up and face covered by black. Her voice was confident, and she looked ready to fight. Mara thought along the lines that maybe she was a hero, but Ace obviously thought differently. He also dropped into a fighting stance, guarded against both the girl and the other parahuman.

Everything was silent. The clerk had screamed and ran out of the shop, and the boy had left too.

The woman (who was a self-proclaimed villain) talked. And talked and talked and talked. She was using words she didn't understand about things she didn't understand. Unspoken rules between villains? Local gangs? Local kingpin? Splatterblood? Wendigo? Unlike the tense residents in the shop, her confusion became more obvious. It was written all over her face. At least she had a name for the parahuman now.

Mara never did have time to ponder over these things (again) since something smelled funny before the lightning started doing weird things. She knew these things couldn't hurt her much, but she was worried about Ace. Lightning was deadly to even parahumans, and it looked like the villain finally had Wendigo's attention.

"This form is hard to talk in, so I'll be quick," the voice growled. It was a bit hard to understand. "I don't want to fight, innocent people out there. Hungry, so back off." Again, Mara was confused, but all she did was pull at Ace's shirt.

"What is it, Mara," he demanded more than asked. Ace looked really serious. Mara bit her lip.

"Ace... Wendigo said he didn't want to hurt anyone," Mara whispered more than said her sentence. "Can't we all just calm down? We don't need to use force to make him stop stealing food, right? Right?" Ace still didn't meet her eyes, more wary of the lightning woman than Wendigo now but he paused. Mara desperately hoped that he took the course of action that did not result in violence.

"Hey, you. The one with lightning. The lad looks like he won't hurt anyone. Let the heroes deal with this. We don't want any violence or destruction. I would appreciate it if you cooperated. It would make things a lot easier on all of us." His voice was clipped and tense, still on guard in case someone decided to attack. Mara noticed how Ace didn't try to address Wendigo and couldn't help but look in the parahuman's direction for a brief moment before moving to protect her brother. She could absorb things, he could not. He was also out of his element. It was obvious who would be doing the protecting here.

Still, even among this, Mara thought that she wanted to touch his fur...
Alexander Dalton

Just bubble the guy. That's all he had to do. The punk looked like he was in the process of powering up. Which would be perfect timing. That was when some guy that was on fire dropped down next to Alex out of nowhere. Before he could even react Mr. burning man fired off a broad ray of red light at the villain. Sending the guy flying backwards clear out of the alley and high in the air. Alex had little time to think before he saw the man jumped away behind his wall and add his own red barrier to protect the civilian. "Brace yourself!" Realization dawned on Alex as the villain came crashing to the ground. "SHIT! Hold on!!" He backed up straight into the wall, crouched and held his arms crossed in front of himself defensively. He began fortifying and adding layer upon layer of fields across his body, even adding more energy into the wall behind him before the villain hit the ground. followed by a blinding green light.


Deafening, that's the easiest way Alex would have described it. The proceeding shock wave had thrown Alex against the wall hard, shattered most of the layers he had placed over himself and cracked the wall. The light didn't blind him thankfully but Alex could barely hear anything over the high pitched ringing. The villain laying on the ground steaming and not moving. A quick snap of the fingers and the unconscious bomber was safely bubbled and bound. It was best not to take any second chances after that blast. After turning slowly due to the sudden feeling of nausea Alex released the wall. it looked like the Heroes barrier had taken next to none of the shock wave, him and the civilian both looking a lot better then Alex was feeling. "Everyone alright?"

Last night Devon had been clocking a couple hours of overtime, searching for the last members of a group of parahumans. They were known for using their powers to rob people and small businesses, and they'd been sentenced a few times for non-violent crimes as the law hadn't exactly caught up with the fact that people didn't need to wave around obvious weapons to commit an armed robbery, not to mention the general difficulty of proving that someone actually used their power to threaten someone(let's just say unless there's 4 or 5 witnesses backing you up, it's pretty much pointless to persecute them for violent crimes). Yesterday however, they got sloppy and were caught red-handed by Devon's spying eye, he called for backup and what ensued was a wild goose chase, those kids knew those backstreets a lot better than the heroes patrolling the block. Around 4 am they quit their search figuring the last of them had escaped too far to be viable searching for, still 7 out of 9 that could now be properly persecuted for violent crimes felt like a big win to the heroes and the pcrt.

Today however, after sleeping in till 12 to catch up on sleep he had a lot of paperwork to look forward to until it was time to hit the road again at 6pm. Arrests like these always delivered a lot of paperwork, especially since the main witness in question was a hero on duty, he'd have to write every detail as best as possible otherwise those kids could still get off scot-free, well a couple of them. One had hurt himself badly climbing a fence trying to escape, another had been caught and roughed up the locals, and a final one had been shot with rubber bullets as he repeatedly tried to get away(that one was going to have sore legs for a couple of weeks). He turned on the radio for some background noise as he went about making him some lunch. As he closed the jaws of his contact grill around a bacon and cheese sandwich he heard about the accident on the 7-9. Good thing he could write that report on his home computer, driving to the HHQ would have been a nightmare with that traffic artery clogged up.

Waiting for his sandwich to be grilled to perfection he grabbed a glass of milk and set himself down in front of his keyboard. After a few minutes of reading up on the news he had missed since this morning, aside from something about a slaughterhouse being under investigation for mixing horse meat in the ground beef it seemed he hadn't missed much, he stood grabbed his sandwich from the grill and under the enjoyment of a salty and spicy sandwich he started writing his report of last nights events. After a couple hours of writing reports he looked at the clock, 2:23 pm, leaving some time to cook and eat dinner he figured he'd have more than enough time for a couple of games.

His patrol started like any other, just walking around looking for crime, troublemakers, parahumans out of control or any people who need his help, even if all it's just rescuing a cat from a tree. The neighborhood he patrolled today contained areas under the control of some nutjob who calls himself 'Splatterblood', a very imaginative name. While the chances were pretty much zero that he'd run into someone the local kingpin considered worth a damn, it's always smart to at least know who the local kingpin is. especially when the he is seen as either bloodthirsty or actually beneficial to the area.

6:47 pm The end of a so far peaceful patrol. A couple calls came in about a changer making a mess about a block away from his location, Devon was to check it out. From the information the callers gave there had been no signs of violence yet, but there was a PCRT team on standby just in case. He picked up his pace and rushed to the scene.

A short run later he arrived at the scene, a sandwich shop with the name "Which Wich". "No expenses spared on the name." He thought to himself as he walked to the door. From the outside he could get a decent picture of what was going on inside, it seemed that there were two... And a half vigilantes trying to handle the situation, and the changer in question seemed to be happily gorging on the shops stocks. "I might need a bigger gun for that." He thought looking at the changer. Safety off, rifle aimed at the ground, finger off the trigger, no need to look more threatening than strictly necessary. With his free hand he opened the door and almost immediately he went into negotiation modus.

"So I'm guessing you are the changer we got those calls about. Though going by the callers it sounded like this place was to be wrecked by the time I got here. Nope, just a couple bucks worth of veggie, meat and bread getting devoured." He said with a jovial tone of voice as he motioned to the two in fighting stance to calm down and back off. He walked a couple steps further into the shop taking a look around at the amount of civilians still inside the building, most of them looking scared, confused, angry or a combination of the three. Devon then leaned on one of the tables keeping an eye on the changer behind the counter. "I would like to ask you all to please leave this fine establishment for a moment. So this gentleman and I can have a couple of words without me having to worry about what any third party might be doing." He then asked addressing the people within the shop, but looking at the two who were standing like they planned to duke it out any second now. Last thing he wanted was to escalate a peaceful situation due to some loose cannon vigilante, or have a civilian trigger a violent response from the changer.
Capetown, TX. 09/17/2017, 7:08 PM. 84°F,
Partly Cloudy. Arc 1: Provenance.

Jasmin Lehtinen took a step back when she heard the growl of Wendigo's voice, a momentary feeling of trepidation passing through herself. Whether he was aware of it or not, Wendigo was pretty equiped in the intimidation department.
"This form is hard to talk in, so I'll be quick, I don't want to fight, innocent people out there. Hungry, so back off." She opened her mouth to comment, even as Wendigo began to turn away to shovel more sandwich materials into his skull, but another voice caused her to whip her head around and look towards a man and a young girl. "Hey, you. The one with lightning. The lad looks like he won't hurt anyone. Let the heroes deal with this. We don't want any violence or destruction. I would appreciate it if you cooperated. It would make things a lot easier on all of us."

Conflicting feelings passed through her, at that. On one hand, she agreed with the man. The heroes could deal with it. The PCRT might even be here, soon. She didn't want to fight. Hell, she was even pretty scared looking at the Changer behind the counter. She had no fighting experience whatsoever, and Wendigo looked to be pretty in control of his own power. However, at the same time, she enjoyed coming to this sandwich shop every other day, and now it would probably be closed for a week to restock. She also felt the urge to go against this man's definition of 'cooperation.' Who was he to tell her what to do? Maybe he was an undercover cop, waiting for backup. or maybe he was a pretentious asshole who wanted to exert authority in a moment of crisis. Maybe-


For the second time in a two minutes, her train of thought was derailed as she whipped her head to find the source of a sound. A man, no, a PCRT officer? No, the uniform wasn't quite right. Either way, someone stood in the doorway rifle trained on the floor, wearing a trench coat, body armor, and a black helmet-mask hybrid with tinted lenses she couldn't see through. Then he spoke, his voice changed by his mask, and her heart skipped a beat as he motioned at her. Shit, he's an HLA member.
"So I'm guessing you are the changer we got those calls about. Though going by the callers it sounded like this place was to be wrecked by the time I got here. Nope, just a couple bucks worth of veggie, meat and bread getting devoured. I would like to ask you all to please leave this fine establishment for a moment. So this gentleman and I can have a couple of words without me having to worry about what any third party might be doing." She nodded, relief flooding her. He didn't recognize her as the villain who'd robbed three convenience stores. I mean, who would? In a city filled with crime and heroes, three small not even noteworthy events wouldn't be remembered.

She exited the sandwich shop with the remaining patrons, and made her way down the street with her iron shavings mask still on and hood still up, well aware that someone could get her identity if she dropped it now. They were downtown, and many office buildings had parking garages across the street, so she made her way into one, and covered her tracks.

Gotta make an EMP. Disable cameras, anyone who might have been following me. She knew it was a paranoid thought, but you never know. She erected a large magnetic field around her, and ionized air, and soon electricity was crackling around her. She pushed outwards, and it dissipated. At the same time, every car in the parking lot did a final beep-beep , and their were a few honks, as circuitry fried and batteries drained. With that, she poured her iron shavings mask back into it's flask, took off and tied her hoodie around her waist, and walked home.

Ten minutes later, she was home in her studio appartment, kicking trash on the floor, and plopping down onto her futon with her phone in her hand, logging onto ParahumansOnline, a forum website maintained by hundreds of thousands of people, complete with it's own wiki of the amalgamation of public knowledge, and first-hand observations from citizens, information about almost every cape that has a cape-name. Jasmin even had a page, but the only information on her was that she had "lightning powers" with no elaboration, and that she's a villain that's committed three convenience store robberies. A few keyword searches later, and she discovered the information she was interested in. Freischütz was the HLA member who appeared at the scene. She was mildly interested, because Capetown's HLA branch consisted of two teams of ten members each, and out of the twenty, he was one of the ones with less media interest, but lots of "Cape Geek" interest. He was popular on the ParahumansOnline forums, and there was lots of discussion about his equipment and his powers. The other bit of information was a bit harder to find. Ghoul, a Changer last seen in New Mexico, seemed to be the best fit based on the description of the power. Swirling ink, ghoulish, skeletal preferred form, but can take the form of animals, or even just change a single part of the body. There wasn't any information on his crimes, and there was a single thread that mentioned him in three posts, as two users debated whether he was a Rogue or Villain, but other than that, no more online information.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... Brrrrrr. Brrrrrr. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... Brrrrrr. Brrrrrr.

As she searched, a high-pitched emergency-alert sound emitted from her phone, and she jumped in surprise at the sound. She expected it to be an Amber Alert, but her stomach dropped when she read the notification. State Of Texas Issued Abhorrent Emergency Alert System Broadcast Test. Right, it was a test. The last Abhorrent attack had been in India, four and a half months ago. The Abhorrents usually attacked three to four months apart, so the next attack was expected to happen any day, any hour, any minute. She had read articles online about how every time an Abhorrent attack is late, the HLA and the THA are basically on 24/7 stand-by, waiting for the attack, so they can go an defend, international or not. She herself had no plans to attend any Abhorrent fight, but it got her thinking.

If Capetown was attacked, would she help defend? It wasn't technically a law that parahumans had to defend, but that was for good reason. Firstly, it didn't make it look like the PCRT wanted villains on their side. Secondly, villains were more likely to help against Abhorrent attacks because it wasn't a law. They weren't being forced to. But it was a weird and shaky balance, because people expected you to. Fighting an Abhorrent is like fighting a tornado throwing around nukes, and if you have the power to stop it or let people die, you stop it, whether you're a villain or not. There's unspoken rules between capes. If an Abhorrent attacks, you put aside Hero, Villain, Rogue, lables, and you help. If you don't have the firepower to go toe to toe with one, you help recover and save the wounded capes, you help with the evacuation of civilians, you help relay information in battle. And you never, ever, use it as an opportunity to get revenge or learn an identity. It's been an honor code stronger than the strictest laws for over forty years now, and it's only ever been broken twice. Because when adults dress up and play cops and robbers, it's just a game. But when the Abhorrents attack, the facade ends, and things get serious.

The thoughts sat wrong in her stomach, and her shoulders felt cold as she caught herself staring blankly at the wall. She couldn't help but feel that the EAS broadcast test was a bad omen. Was Capetown a likely target? It's population was just over five hundred thousand, so it wasn't a particularly big city. But it keeps to it's namesake and has a dense cape population, ranking number five in the nation. Anything's possible. She thought grimly, before laying down on her futon and dark thoughts drifted her to sleep.

Wendigo made a decision at the moment the chime of the door sounded throughout the "Wich Which". He was going to scream if it wouldn't deafen everyone in the establishment. Which it would... First it was the lightning chick with all the interestin' morals. Granted, she told him outright that she just wanted to still be able to eat at this shop, but hey he was hungry and he needed to replace all the lost mass from earlier. It had been a while since he was last able to eat anyways, but no, now it was some other guy, this one looking like he would do something too. And he was another one who liked to talk around his point, it reminded him of the bullies back in El Paso. Focused as he was on the food, Jericho got the gist of whatever the HLA guy was saying. A sigh escaped him before he began to speak, again, with food in his mouth because when a mythical Native American cannibal beast gotta eat, he gotta eat. Heh. "Oh Christ are you done now? First it was whoever the queen of chill ozone is, and now its you. I'm not hurtin' anyone. Need to eat. Back. Off." The agitation was palpable in his voice, terse and tired even as it rattled out into the air clearly despite the non-chewed food in his maw. A second set of jaws was set behind the extension of the first, fleshy and rather human; if a human's mouth was capable of constantly chewing up whatever came in contact with the teeth, without pause and capable of extending forward and pulling non chewed food closer to the throat.

Wendigo's attention was dragged away from eating as he noticed most of the other patrons in the shop leaving, stance shifting in such a way that it was obvious he was now wary of the newcomer. Apparently the guy was carrying author- Oh hey look that's a rifle. "I'm gonna go out on a wild limb on a wilder tree and assume that's loaded. Hm." The voice that rattled out of Wendigo's chest was higher in pitch now, resonating faintly with some of the windows in the shop as panic began to seep into him. He had dealt with bullets before, and most of the time he was able to just shrug 'em off, but the rifle that the man had walked in with looked like it was meant for dealing with large threats. Maybe Wendigo was wrong, but he hadn't had any training or experience with guns that didn't involve him being on the smoking hole end.

The skeletal frame of the beast turned towards Freischütz and lowered its head at him, angling the antlers downward and towards the center mass of the 'human' in a silent warning. While Wendigo didn't necessarily want to hurt anyone to get away, he would. After a moments pausing thought, ink swelled around the entirety of his frame, pulsing outwards once before subsiding as muscle mass seemed to just 'appear'. "Waste of a meal..." came the thought, muttered aloud. He shifted yet again, thinking on his 'feet' as it were, arms growing longer still as his stance became quadrupedal and shifted to a sort of gorilla-like sloping of the back. Those antlers never moved though, having gone through a split shift as well as they increased in volume and thickness. A little surprise waiting at the base of them should he really have to charge through this guy. Another moving of position, and Wendigo was out from behind the counter and out in plain view. Almost thirteen feet of now muscled fur, not counting the extra foot of onyx bone that the antlers added. Nine prongs on each branch, tips as sharp as mesquite thorns. The hind legs of Wendigo were clawes instead of hooves, though the claws on each of the ten toes was thick and blunt, making dents in the tile floor. The front claws weren't similar, being sharp and somewhat long; maybe an inch and a half. Wordlessly, a rumbling growl ripped out from the Changer's chest, loud and deep enough to feel in the bone, with an underlying chirping that seemed set on making every last bit of glass in the area quiver worryingly. Two sets of vocal cords were at work in the now thickly muscled throat.

After Ace said his piece, things were still relatively silent and tense.

Ding. Mara couldn't help but but shift their attention from Wendigo to the new presence. Only a moment passed before the man seemingly chirped his piece.

"So I'm guessing you are the changer we got those calls about. Though going by the callers it sounded like this place was to be wrecked by the time I got here. Nope, just a couple bucks worth of veggie, meat and bread getting devoured," the man said very cheerfully. It was slightly weird for her to hear such a tone coming from a hero dressed like this man - a man dressed in full body armor and armed with weapons. It was something she'd only really seen on her brother while he was on duty.

Regardless of what she thought of his outfit, Ace relaxed his stance at seeing a comrade but he was still wary of the two villains. Mara, however, naturally distrusted this new character. His actions were relaxed, but the way he moved in and eyed Wendigo contrasted his movements. She didn't know if that was due to experience, but it unnerved her slightly. It spoke of deception. Mara also noticed that he seemed to have a sense of humor that her brother liked, but she never saw the amusement in jokes like this. Though, she could at least observe that his very aura was de-escalating the situation. It seemed to reassure the people who were still left inside the shop.

"I would like to ask you all to please leave this fine establishment for a moment. So this gentleman and I can have a couple of words without me having to worry about what any third party might be doing." At that, Mara looked up at Ace and he looked down at her. They could certainly take care of themselves, but they would leave. After all, staying here might complicate the situation. They silently agreed. For now, they would do as he said. They both left the shop and were the last ones to leave. It couldn't be helped that most of the people were all too eager to get out.

Right after they closed the door, Mara felt more than heard windows trembling before it stopped. By the time she shut the door to the car, she heard a familiar growl from the opened car window. At this point, Mara was also at an angle where she could actually see the windows trembling as if they were scared. Her eyes drifted back to her brother, but Ace did not start the car.

Without much fanfare the people from the shop flooded out, many all too happy to oblige having desired a way to get out of that mess in the first place. But most importantly the two vigilantes were out of the way, and with them any twitchy reactions they could produce as well. The changer addressed Devon with agitation and a certain hostility. It's voice was, pretty much what you'd expect a creature of that kind of stature and mouth to sound like when it was trying to speak like a human, perhaps a bit more tired than expected. Apparently those vigilantes had soured the situation quite well before his arrival. Which was something he'd remember to thank them for if he ever saw them again. The creature however was more interested in food than in him, and given that it had stated that it needed food and was pretty efficiently dining away what was perhaps a months worth of food, it seemed pretty likely he really needed food.

The situation sharpened further as the changer turned his attention from the food to Devon, apparently and not entirely ungrounded seeing him as a major threat. The creature spoke once more this time in a higher and more painful voice as it reacted to seeing his assault rifle. Devon cracked a small smile as it basically asked his assumption of the rifle being loaded was correct. "Actually, it's empty. Like I said, I'm just here to talk and I can't exactly just drop a weapon randomly on the street. But how about you eat first, and we talk later. If you need more food, I know a place or two without the mass panic... Or the need to jump a counter, my treat." He said slowly motioning his free hand to the magazine pulling it out and giving the creature a full view of it's empty insides. He then re-inserted the magazine into the weapon.

However as he explained his intentions the changer had taken on a form he could only describe as aggressive, this thing now literally looked armed to the teeth. A rather impressive creature were it not for the fact that it might be attacking Devon. It came out from behind the counter, seemingly being more mournful about wasting food than anything else. Making an educated guess Devon assumed that him needing food was tied to his shapeshifting abilities, likely with him needing food to grow. At any rate that was less important than the immediate danger of having a fight with that beast right here and now. The entire situation favored the changer, there was only a short distance, confined and cluttered space, even if he'd kill the thing before the first charge hit the momentum of the corpse would still hit with a dangerous amount of force.

Devon sighed putting his free hand on the table he was leaning against. Both as leverage in case he'd have to dodge and because it was more comfortable than leaning on the edge with it's full weight, it was pushing his armored vest into a rather uncomfortable position. "A couple hundred dollars worth of food, easily resupplied by tomorrow afternoon, or a couple thousands dollars of damages and a business with closed doors for weeks cleaning up the mess. It's a simple equation and from what you showed before I entered you seem to not want to fight without reason. And like you said nobody is hurt, so I don't see any real reason to fight you. I'd rather not be known as the hero who trashed a sandwich shop, or even worse got trashed in a sandwich shop, over a couple of footlongs. He then said as a final plea to sensibility, in the hopes to avoid having to fight the changer in this confined space. The place would get absolutely trashed, probably both would be hurt and he probably won't even have the option of holding back on the lethal firepower.

Kayle had been about to launch himself out of the alley, bee-lining home for food that his stomach so desperately craved. He had let his guard down, this had been an impromptu rescue after all, and now he was caught without his shadow concealing him. The moment the woman spoke, his head snapped back and once more he was wreathed in shadow. Stupid...stupid stupid stupid...should have stayed concealed till I was heading home. Kayle thought to himself as he got a look at the girl. She seemed somewhat defiant, her words gave way to appreciation with more than a bit of concern laced with them. Excessive? Spoken like someone who’s never had to cross the line, or remained ignorant to the truth that the true bastards of the city don’t respect anything but pain and violence. He let out a little smile beneath his helmet at the question of his professional moral alignment. Was he a hero? Nah, he never considered himself one. In fact, on public record, Twisted Smile was a wanted criminal with a record for aggravated assault and attempted murder, but the people on who he committed these acts were always casually brushed under the rug in order to make him look like the evil man he truly was.

What should he say to her though? People were often so scared of him by this point that their tongues refused to form words, their eyes shifted to the ground and their legs quivered beneath their bodies. Admittedly, that was partially his fault as he often spread out his empathetic aura to encompass an area, usually grabbing a civilian or two that were simply too close for comfort. She seemed to be afraid slightly, but had enough backbone to address him after what she had seen him do undoubtedly. He was caught in an uncomfortable situation. A lot of his persona, reputation and fear came from his demeanor and how he acted. It was one of the things that allowed him to get the drop on people, as true criminals would actually shake in their boots at the mention of his name, since other criminals would carry that information and create stories of the boogeyman, the chains that bind, the Twisted Smile.

“Did I ever say I was a hero?” Kayle stated through the dark shroud that now covered his body and motorcycle. “Brutality is a universal language, even idiots such as those can understand that. You call it excessive, I call it a translation.”

“You had stopped them. There was no need for that, that’s not…” Tess hesitated a little, the dark shadows enveloping the boy intimidating, and she wasn’t entirely sure whether he intended to use his powers, whatever they may be, against her. Swallowing nervously, she continued. “Just because they understand violence doesn’t justify it.”

Kayle gave a sigh, the shadows shifting around his form harmlessly as he looked down at the ground. This was an inevitable argument that happened too many times for his liking. Those who never had to go to such lengths because others like himself perform the necessary evil themselves. He could go into a discussion about morality, necessities and prevention, but that would drag things out. “If the world operated by blind ideals that everyone can and will do the right thing, then there would be no place for someone like me. The fact of the matter is that we don’t live in a fairytale.” Kayle looked at the girl, although he knew she couldn’t really tell which way he was looking through the shadows. “Villains and criminals consider heros to be an inconvenience, a small fight followed by a stint in jail. They’re never truly in danger because heroes will never kill them…” Kayle looked back at the crippled criminals. “That’s why they fear me…because they won’t be walking away unscathed.”

Tess wasn’t entirely sure what to say. Not initially at the very least. She couldn’t deny that there was some sense to what he said. Cold as it was, that hard logical standpoint was something close to the truth. But even so… Even so… “So you have the right to deliver that judgement all by yourself? What if you’re wrong?” Tess challenged, trying to take a step forward. She didn’t really manage it, since her legs still felt like jelly, so she instead remained where she was. “People make mistakes… And I don’t just mean you could be wrong. These people…” She looked to the unconscious and beaten crooks before swiftly turning back away, remembering why that was a bad idea. “People can change. They can be victims of circumstance. Can you really condemn everyone the moment they step out of line without any chance for redemption?”

“If they need to be reminded by someone like me that what they’re doing is wrong, then what they would get wouldn’t be redemption, it would be forced reform. At which point, they’re not acting nice and ‘good’ because they know and believe it’s the right thing to do...they’re doing it because they’re scared of me.” Kayle stated, looking back at the girl. “You obviously stand by your own ideals, and I respect that, but I can’t agree with it. Such a viewpoint always leads to repeated criminal behaviour.” Kayle revved his motorcycle once, indicating his intent to leave. “We could sit here and wax the philosophical all night, but I haven’t eaten all day. I suggest you get going home, chances are I won’t be around if you get attacked for a second time tonight.” Kayle finished the conversation from his end, revving his engine a couple more times before speeding out of the alley and taking a left to continue to his home.

He was stupid with hunger and stir fry was waiting.
◄:Terry ‘Tess’ Farina:►

As the shadowy man made his point of view clear, it was obvious that such discussion was unlikely to yield any change in either his opinion or her own. Though Tess wasn’t afraid to continue such discussion in a calm and rational manner, the situation didn’t permit a lengthy debate as the man oriented his bike to leave, giving some last advice that she make her way home before any other danger fell upon her. Terry didn’t exactly have any rebuttal for that, nor did she feel it prudent to delay the man from his meal. Not that she could, as even if she wanted to he had already driven away, leaving Tess alone in the company of the two incapacitated crooks.

Shortly after he left, sirens sounded nearby, a few police cars skidding to a stop just outside the alleyway as a few members of the local law enforcement entered the alley with guns drawn. Terry was quick to place her hands in the air, guided away to the back of a police car for an initial interrogation. Soon enough after describing what had happened – Both the chase at the hands of the criminals, as well as the shadowy man that had assaulted them – the situation became much less hostile as any suspicion they had into her potential involvement faded. In fact, at the mention of the shadowy gentleman Terry was pressed for further details describing him and his actions, along with being asked for a formal statement regarding him and the events of that night.

Of course, it wasn’t the ideal way to spend the night, but Tess wasn’t the kind to refute those working hard to protect the local citizens. After a somewhat lengthy phone call to her parents, Tess made her way with the police to the station and filled in a detailed description of what she’d seen of ‘Twisted Smile’ as the police informed her, a somewhat notorious villain known for his extreme methods and the ability to strike fear into those around him. From what Terry recalled of her own experience with him, the panic and terror of James and Buck stood as a prominent reminder of that fact. Still, for a villain, he had saved her. Despite the Police insisting that he was a criminal, it was pretty clear based on the information he was more of a vigilante. A misguided one perhaps, but he was trying to do the right thing, at least in his mind. That’s how she saw it at least.

“So he had a motorbike was it? Did you get to see the plates?” The interrogator asked her, urging Tess to remember as many details as she could. In all honesty, she could picture it all vividly, her memory far better than any normal person; but for the sake of seeming normal, she kept things relatively general, able to only describe the model and colour. For what it was worth, that seemed a good starting point for the police, and they intended to look through registration information to track something down. Once they were satisfied they thanked Tess for her time and provided her a lift home.

Worn out from the night’s excitement, Tess only briefly entertained her parents by talking through the events, making sure to assuage their concerns for her well being. In all honesty, she just wanted to get some sleep at this point. There was no sense in dwelling on what had happened. Instead, she’d have to look forward to what tomorrow would bring. Heading through her nightly routine, Tess did her best to sleep peacefully, but her mind tormented her a little with the sounds and visions of pain and terror she’d heard. It was going to be a rough night.

Jason looked the kid up and down as he spoke. He had taken some damage in the blast, but he still had the presence of mind to secure the villain. That meant his instincts were good. And is first thought had been to check on the civilian. That meant his morals were good too. He dropped the shield and held a hand out to the man behind him, who had dropped to the ground, covering his head during the blast. The man reached for his hand and then hesitated. Jason rolled his eyes. "It's fine, it's not actually flames," he said. The man frowned and took Jason's hand, letting him haul him up to his feet.

"Looks like we're fine over here," Jason said to the kid. He turned back to the man. "Best get home soon. You know how Capetown gets after dark." The man seemed to pale and he hurried from the alley, pausing to mumble a quick thanks in the kid's direction.

Jason leapt into the air, landing gracefully next to the fallen villain and the aqua-colored shield that surrounded him. Hesitantly, Jason reached out a hand to touch it. It was hard and smooth, almost like glass, but felt far less brittle. The villain within was out cold, but he needed to be transported to the specialized para containment sector of the local jail before that changed. Jason turned back to the kid, surveying him. The safest way to transport the villain was probably inside of this bubble and Jason wasn't sure he could replicate it.

"Call me Quantum," he said, and extended his hand to shake. "Any chance you fly?"

Wendigo took a moments pause, taking in the logical words of the cape in front of him, the reminders weren't even exactly necessary but they helped bring for him back to a state of sensible mind. The trench coat was offering him a way out, without violence, and wasn't exactly saying he was going to arrest him either... But that was enough. That non-saying of 'I'll probably still try to arrest you' was enough to keep Wendigo on his claws, as it were. A long breath sighed out of the beast, another twinned growl echoeing soon after, setting the windows behind the HLA man once more wavering with the sound of the underlying whine that accompanies the otherwise louder and deeper thrum.

The beast shifted its stance once again, the head shifting shape first a short it become a falsified resemblance to a bat, if the skull of that bat was on par with a grown man's. Ink lashed out into the air around Wendigo, cloaking him for a short moment before falling away and revealing a new, skeletal form that was nightmarish in its improbability. Smaller than the wendigo form before, this form was sleek and painted a candied scarlet, even if the skin itself was translucent and showing the bones and organs underneath. Six sail-like wings adorned themselves to four arms and two hind legs, a bat through and through, with flaps of flesh attaching to the two foot long tail that extended from the spine of the beast. A sugar skull was painted on its face, emphasized by the skeletal and lightweight frame of the Changer. Claws adorned each limb, faintly curled and digging into the tile to the best of its ability, and chitin made itself apparent around the top of the skull and shoulders.

Two ruby red orbs were sat in the eye sockets, as Jericho let the chiropteran lips pull into an otherwise terribly unsettling smile; the facial structure of a bat not meant to make any kind of human expression, but hey, that didn't stop him from trying. This form didn't allow for speech though, and no amount of trying would fix that. Oh well. Wendigo stared at the man for only a second or two longer before he bolted, powerful arms and legs, even as thin as they were, rocketed the monster forward and over the head of Freischütz in front of him, slamming into the glass behind the hero with enough force to rip the door off its hinges, the chitin covering the head and shoulders allowing the Changer to do this without near as much damage to the form as could have been done.

There seemed to be a crowd outside the shop, and Jericho was willing to bet they were surprised by the sudden explosion of movement and glass. He gave them a grin too, just for kicks. He then took to the air, each sweeping flap of his wings sending air rushing through and past arms and legs. A long chittering peal of noise left his maw, pitched in such a way that he just couldn't get under control dammit! Leaving windows and the glass of cellphones vibrating visibly. If not cracking outright, or shattering in the case of some store windows nearby.

He turned in the air, powering four arms with sails of leather stretched between them, and quickly attempted to vanish from sight by landing on the roof of a building a good ten minutes away by walking from the Which Wich. He could feel the impact of some fast moving objects hitting his shoulders and his head, jolting him with faint amounts of pain... Then he felt one sink right against the top of his head and the patch of skin just above his heart. Bullets? Rubber bullets?! He couldn't fathom how the other cape was hitting him, and he didn't care; instead choosing to power himself faster still through the air, his wings making impossibly hard to ignore flapping sounds that echoed in the quieter parts of the neighborhood he flitted over. Moments later, he landed.

The moment feet touched the ground, his form shrank away into his true, human, shape, excess mass sloughing off in small clumps of ink as his stomach filled with the rest. A wasteful meal by his standard but, beggars can't be picky, right? And oh man oh man was he utterly terrified of the night's recent happenings, the fact that he had been lied to by a presumed hero! Who does that?! Then again... Presuming the guy was a hero was probably a stretch. Was he the kingpin that the lightning chick made comments about? The name escaped him, but caution about where he would be committing ANY sort of act would (hopefully) make the forefront of his thoughts. Maybe.

Jericho knew that he had probably made some amount of noise on the building he had landed on, but as far as he could see, there weren't any openings up onto the roof. A quick assumption that would probably cost him if any other heroes were near enough to have seen him, or heard. So he relaxed, falling on his butt and letting out a high cackling laugh that died away soon after, stress and andrealine fading from his consciousness. "Holy hell... Jeez. That was too much."

The changer stayed silent for a moment, not moving to attack, but at the same time not showing any signs of backing down. It was to the point where Devon could feel the nerves creeping up in his spine, he knew that if needed he'd be able to fire within the blink of an eye, but he didn't know how much of an effect his bullets would have to the behemoth in front of him. It apparently having decided on his course of action let another distorted and rather unnerving growl come forth, with the mix of sounds it produced it was impossible to deduce for Devon whether there was aggression, fear or any other indications of it's mental state were hidden in there. There likely were, not even humans were capable of suppressing the effects their emotions have on the signals they send out. However what was certain was that the howl put him even more on edge causing him to reflexively activate his overdrive. He could feel every beat of his heart course through his veins, surging to supply body with adrenaline and oxygen for what was seemingly inevitable to come next. The arm leaning on the table and his legs tensed like coiled springs ready to jump aside and out of the path of the charge that would come.

Though with the end of that howl came a different decision that proved his body's guts were off on this one. The form of the creature before him shifted once more, it's facial structure becoming much more bat-like in shape. It then cloaked itself in some kind of black liquid, though what exactly the substance was he'd leave to others to find out as he felt absolutely no incentive to touch the substance to find out, for all he knew it could toxic or corrosive. What appeared from the cloak was a form less disturbing than the one that had been standing in front of him before, but horrifying in it's own right. It's red eyes seemed to pierce everything it looked at, and the visible organs and bone structure beneath the translucent flesh was rather unpleasant to watch, the six large sails of flesh and bone and it's warped smile didn't exactly add to the ease at which one would be able to look at the being.

Though one thing was clear this form was for escaping from a somewhat safe situation, using it otherwise would be madness. It seemed much more frail than the form before with the exception of the shoulders and head that had a shine to them not dissimilar to that of a beetle, which appeared to be protected by a layer of chitin of unknown thickness and consistency. But what really sealed the deal was that translucent skin, no sane being would ever expose their vitals so readily in a situation where it felt it's life was on the line.

using the length of the limbs the creature jumped forward over Devon's head and straight into the glass behind. "Of course it had to cause more unnecessary damage, stupid creature." He thought as he jumped away to see the creature smashing it's way through the glass. It caused quite a ruckus outside, not exactly what he had hoped for, as he could hear more screams and yelling coming from outside. He himself rushed after the creature through the newly created exit only to see the flying menace in the sky and causing more damage with an almost unbearable squealing. More glass shattered to the street as Devon took aim. This wasn't something he wanted to do to a non-violent parahuman, and it had still not proven itself aggressive outside of situations where it'd have to take to the defensive.

Letting out a sigh once more he pulled the trigger and with three loud cracks echoing through the streets a burst of three rubber pellets to came flying out of the rifle. Though these were more for show as he still didn't mean real harm to the creature that amounted to little more than a starved dog in his opinion. The bullets homed in aiming for the chitin covered head and shoulders, losing much of their velocity as they homed in a hard curve to hit squarely on the armored parts. He then pulled the trigger a couple more times to fire rubber pellets aimed at the same target filling the streets once more with the sounds of gunfire. It would suffice to make it look like he was actually fighting the creature, but he then switched the rifle to single and fired another rubber bullet. This bullet was meant to warn the being to not make light of him, it's trajectory homed in on a trajectory that would put the heart and the brain of the creature squarely in it's path. Even to such a fragile being it wouldn't amount to more than a minor bruise at it's impact point from this distance though, that was if that creature couldn't just heal it's injuries through it's shapeshifting. Which was something that seemed to be within the realm of possibilities considering how fast the being had shifted it's forms before.

When the changer left his line of sight he felt tempted to give chase, but looking at the distance and the crowd he'd have to maneuver through the changer would be long gone if he decided to give chase. It annoyed him greatly, in this entire exchange he had felt that his powers as a hero had been largely irrelevant and that in part felt as the reason why the villain had escaped now. So many of his collegae heroes would have been able to deal with this situation much more easily and effectively, no doubt they weren't going to rub it in for the next week or even month. Even more annoying where the phones and camera's now pointed at him, publicity and more importantly those idiots on parahumansonline who insisted on decoding every scrap of information about the heroes and villains around. No doubt there'd be plenty of them looking at all the footage taken here frame by frame to try and figure out anything about him. They were just handing the villains information about their enemies on a silver platter, luckily for him there was little they could be able to discern from any video footage of him. Beyond publishing the files kept on him by the PCRT there was little that could be done to discern the nature of his powers, as most of the outwardly visible powers merely yielded heavily heated discussions about his powers while only making his powers seem more ambiguous in the end. After a light murmuring that he muted to the outside he moved his way through the crowds reporting his finding to HHQ via radio and hoping that the remainder of the evening would be without much more excitement as he continued his patrol.

Vic Martel picked the needle off the Willie Nelson record that had been the soundtrack to her life for the last couple hours. Being surrounded by music and music lovers at all hours was the benefit of working at a record store, but it was up to the customers what played. While Vic could appreciate some country, it was usually just before bed when she was about to fall asleep, not when she was trying to stay alert at work. The fact that it was a slow day didn't help, either.

She dragged the sign off the streets and trudged down the alley the entrance to the shop was hidden down. Ignoring someone leaning against the wall across from her smoking, she entered through the unassuming door on the side of the brick building and locked it behind her. A single yellow light bulb lit up the stairwell, casting her shadow against the walls heavily plastered with posters upon posters. She hated the entrance to her work. The stairs were too narrow and the walls hugged them too tightly. She used these stairs to torture herself, ascending them as slowly and purposefully as she could. Her shadow crept with her. She kept her eyes on the weak daylight above, ignoring the shadows and the crushing lack of space. It was time for her to get over this. Besides, at least they were stairs, not an elevator.

Once out of that horrible place, Vic made a beeline to the small radio on the side of the counter. She turned it on and tuned it to the local rock station, nearly smiling when she heard the trance-inducing sounds of The Velvet Underground. Rock and Roll was definitely the genre and song to refresh her palate after all that country. She swung her head and mouthed the upbeat lyrics as she flicked notes through her fingers, cashing up for the day.

Soon she was plugging in the vacuum cleaner and was about to turn it on when she heard a familiar base line crackling through the radio's speakers. She slowly rose from the ground and stared at the little mechanism. At the first crash of a symbol, her dulled eyes brightened.

“Her lips are ice cold,” a distinctive voice sung, “Baptized in ethanol... and I wonder, if I'll bring her back tonight -”

Vic sprang at the radio, turning it up as loud as it could go. It boomed over the noise of the vacuum as she rocked her heart out around the store, thrashing to the beat of her own drumming.

By the time she got home, the sun was setting. Her aunt had left out some spaghetti to be warmed up for her. She worked the night shift at the children's hospital and was already gone. Vic plonked her bag on the kitchen table and jogged up the stairs to her room. Vic's room was one that appeared messy at first, but in actuality if you took a closer look you'd see she took care of her living quarters. Band posters were scattered over the walls and clothes hung from hangers from nearly everything. A terrarium hosting two hermit crabs sat on her desk beside her laptop and an empty bottle of creaming soda. Vic tossed the bottle into the recycling bin in the corner of her room and sprinkled food pellets into the terrarium, stroking the shells of the crabs affectionately. A breeze tickled the back of her neck and she turned to the ajar window. She pulled open the black curtains then opened the windows up further. The breeze was cold but comforting, a perfect night to fly.

Vic shut her eyes and breathed before bringing her hands in front of her and focusing. Slowly, the particles from her fingertips began to disperse. She watched them float and become nothing, the anomaly beginning to travel its way up her arms. She looked down to she was no longer standing - her feet were gone, and her legs were going. Soon, she appeared to be completely gone.,, but she wasn't. She was Nobody. Vic passed through the open window into the sky. She traveled past the suburbs and over the city, to the canvas on which the squabbles of hero and villain took place. As Nobody, Vic watched. She slipped through the conflicts leaving only the faint scent of licorice behind her. She considered revealing herself to some and joining in a supernatural scuffle she happily watched unfold, but was too tired to go through the hassle. Instead, she took joy in bothering innocent people with strong breezes. When she had enough, she flew home, became Vic again, ate her spaghetti, watched a hilariously bad 90s horror movie and went to bed.

Such was the life of a parahuman whose ambitions laid in the mundane.