Precipice, part 6

“You can drop the disguises now,” called the man as he strolled through the doorway, similarly armed. A grunted response came from the man at the counter.

“Shit,” I heard from Devin as the faces and costumes melted away, revealing the two heroes to be Benton and Bluefang; the two we’d escaped the day before.

“Don’t move, stay still. Stay where you are. Do not move from your current position,” Benton droned. I could feel his power teasing at the edges of my consciousness. I could still move, I reasoned, but if I did Bluefang would shoot me. It was safest to stay still.

No, that didn’t make any sense, did it? If I stayed still I would just get more under Benton’s influence.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Benton move, a glint if light shining off of a sleek, ultramodern handgun.

“Don’t. Move.” he said, and pulled the trigger.

I didn’t move, and neither did anything else. What Benton had said finally sank in. I didn’t even breathe.

Thump

My heart pounded once, disobeying my will. The muzzle of Benton’s gun flared and a metal slug burst out, only to freeze in the air.

Thump

Another heartbeat. The bullet jerked forward about a foot. I could trace its path through the air past my head. Straight towards Rey, motionless behind me.

Thump

The bullet was just in front of me now, and I could see it rotating gently as it cut its path through the air. If I don’t do something, that will kill Rey, I thought, my head clearing of Benton’s influence. I started to move, ever so slowly, causing the bullet to start forward once more.

Thump

The bullet jerked forward again, and I adjusted the trajectory of my hand to intercept, leading by about the distance the bullet had moved last heartbeat.

Thump

The bullet was just in front of my hand now, and I started to close my fingers into a fist. I felt the bullet contact my skin as it inched its way into the closing trap. It burned, like catching a flame.

Thump

The bullet slapped into the palm of my hand, jerking my arm back painfully.

I took a breath, and everyone else caught up, slamming back into full speed. The lump of metal burned in my hand and a spot of numbness was spreading in my palm where it had contacted. I quickly dropped it, landing gently on the carpet with a soft noise. Benton, still recovering from the recoil, started, eyes wide.

“Holy shit!” Cried Bluefang, starting to squeeze the trigger on her own gun reflexively. I let out my breath.

I managed to bring up my other arm in the time it took her to pull the trigger fully, backhanding the gun aside just before the bullet exited the barrel. Moving faster, it seemed, made everything else move faster too. The bullet flew off towards the ceiling, moving much more rapidly now than before.

Thump

The gun flew out of Bluefang’s hand, the force of the recoil causing it to spin as the handle caught on her fingers. I stretched out my hand and caught it, upside-down, my left ring finger on the trigger. It was no way to hold a gun, I knew, but at this range I didn’t think it mattered.

I took a breath.

Bluefang pulled her hand back, raising them above her head. My right palm was starting to sting as the numbness from the impact faded. I twirled the gun around, slowing my breathing for a moment so I didn’t fumble it.

“You speak, I shoot her,” I said to Benton. He opened his mouth, then shut it again, dropping the gun. He’d realized it would be ineffective at this range.

“Fucker,” spat Bluefang. “We had you all figured out- we thought you were a tinker. What’s your deal?”

“I just want to be left alone.”

“Then why the hell do you keep coming after us?”

“H-holy crap,” came Rey’s voice from behind me, along with the sound of movement. “Did you just catch a bullet?”

“Dude, I think he did,” responded Devin, his voice awed.

The stinging in my right hand had escalated to a burning pain, and I could feel warmth dripping down my fingers. Blood. I clenched my fist involuntarily.

“You want us to leave you alone? Fine! We can’t recover the formula, and you clearly aren’t interested in a job. Honestly, at this rate, it’ll cost us more to keep this up with you than we spent on the formula in the first place. We -what she’s trying to say is we’d like to offer you a deal- Dammit! I told you not to do that!” Said Bluefang, interrupted by Commandant. “Sorry darling, but I think the kid was about to shoot you out of boredom. Kid’s a killer. I’m still seeing stars from when I ran into him last night.- You ran into him last night? -Mm hm. Me and Shift. Almost gave me a concussion, and stunned Shift.”

“What? That was your fifth?”

“Yeah, you totally fell into my trap. Good one. Oh, and Benton, don’t shoot people. It’s not nice. I know paralysis isn’t fun but you have to think about others’ feelings.”

“It wouldn’t have killed him,” said Benton, and the pain in my hand suddenly doubled. It took me a moment to realize I’d punched Benton in the face, without moving the gun off Bluefang. The blood dripping between my fingers left a red smear across his cheek and he stumbled back, losing his balance and falling. He hadn’t expected that. For that matter, neither did I.

“Don’t talk,” I said. “Be glad I let you off with a warning.”

“Ooh, I like your fire! Anyway, I’d hoped to convince you to join my little ‘Redlake Heroes Association,’ a pet project of mine, but you you just weren’t interested. That would have made things sooo much easier.”

“Wait, the RHA doesn’t exist?” I said.

“No darling, I’m afraid not. Of course it exists, but it’s mine. Most of the members are actually us.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Well because it hardly matters anymore now does it? You’ve beaten us. We don’t have any offensive capabilities you can’t shut down completely now that our formula supplier has skipped town, and you are irritatingly obstinate. No, I’m afraid the game is up. Here’s my deal: you can have these three. Call the cops, get them arrested, I don’t care. They’ve served their purpose. Meanwhile, Opiate and me are already- What? You’re just abandoning us? -yes, I thought I’d made that clear.”

“You really don’t value your subordinates, do you?”

“Nope! Ta-ta!- Fucker!” Screamed Bluefang.

“Pitfall, Basilisk, deal with them,” I said, walking through the doorway past the two villains as they dropped through the floor.

“Nonono stop it, stop it STO-” came Benton’s voice, cutting off with a flash of light.

I approached the counter where Shift was still slumped. His fingers were twitching slightly, and he made soft grunting noises as he worked his stiff jaw. I pushed him out of the way and picked up the phone on the counter left-handed

“This guy’s going to need another dose,” I called back to Basilisk as I dialed 9-1-1 awkwardly with my left hand, still holding the phone.

“Nuh!” Grunted Shift.

“911, what’s your emergency?” Said a female voice from the telephone.

“Hey, I’m at the flower shop on Dyson street, we’ve got three subdued supervillains here, go by Shift, Benton, and Bluefang,” I said. “The effects wear off over time, so get a collection team here stat.”

“Mm-Hm. On it’s way. We’ve had reports of gunfire from the area, is anyone hurt?”

“I had to catch a bullet, but that’s it. Nothing serious.” While I spoke, I opened the fist my right hand had been clenched in and took a look at my palm, and started to doubt it what I’d said, that it was “nothing serious.” The skin on my palm had been torn away by the bullet, exposing raw flesh beneath. The exposed flesh of my hand was weirdly discolored, a grey-red color with black flecks embedded in the muscles. It wasn’t bleeding anymore, which sermed odd, but it still felt like I was holding a red-hot coal.

“There’s a medic with the collection team. He should be able to patch you up. Now, I’m legally obliged to ask you to identify yourself, but remember you have the right to not answer. Who are you?”

I thought for a moment, then hung up the phone. I had yet to think of a name for myself. Meanwhile, Pitfall and Basilisk had finished dealing with Bluefang and Benton. Basilisk took a moment to hit Shift with his power again.

“Okay, let’s try to get out of here before the collection team arrives.”

*tinkle*

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9 Responses to Precipice, part 6

  1. That is not a tinker power.

  2. farmerbob1 says:

    Tinkering and super speed are not necessarily unrelated. If the whole nervous system is super powered he could have all sorts of interesting abilities, and all limited by human flesh.

    However, other than the palm injury, moving that fast didn’t seem to mess up his muscles or connective tissues. His physiology seems enhanced in more ways than just nervous tissue.

  3. Eric says:

    Meh, seems to me that he’s got a wildcard deal going on, his power shifts to whatever he needs sort of deal. Yes, a cognitive power COULD possibly speed up his time perception greatly but it couldn’t do much about his reaction times. I mean, a bit, but not catch-a-bullet levels, that’s impossible with our rather slow nerve cells conducting signals. I suppose his cognitive power could be the result of his entire nervous system being replaced by organic room-temperature superconductors which WOULD allow this (as well as boosting the shit out of your intelligence in general) but that still wouldn’t allow you to MOVE that fast. First, the muscles just aren’t capable of it. Second, even if they were they would be torn loose from their mounting on the bones, and probably also simply explode. Certainly the waste heat of that kind of movement would cook all muscles and nearby flesh/bone involved. Also the bullet would have just torn through his hand.

    So either he’s got a variable power (like Eidolon in Worm but with just one power or related powerset at a time) or possibly a second power. It seems pretty obvious that his dad’s either a criminal or a supe based on the whole system of codes they’ve got set up, so he could have already had an inherited power and then the tinker ability came from the power juice. Or his tinker power is just poorly and illogically written. But I’m guessing it’s the first option, especially considering the thing about his flesh looking weird and not bleeding there at the end, I’m guessing his power switched to some sort of invulnerability (or perhaps zombiism? :D) there to protect him from bleeding out.

    Really would have preferred that he was a tinker though, those are the best supes to read about if the author can handle it correctly (not all hand-waving, but also not a bunch of ‘science’ that’s obviously incorrect and idiotic even to people who are wikipedia educated), because they’re effectively the most powerful type of supe that can exist if your universe doesn’t include all-out superman clones (invulnerable, unlimited strength, super senses and a bajillion other powers thrown in as needed), but they can also be believably vulnerable to unexpected threats. They’re sorta like wizards in the Dresden Universe, unstoppable if they’re prepared for a specific threat but hard pressed by new variables.

    • Eric says:

      Forgot another possibility. He could be an android (and his father’s a Tinker, explaining the codes). That would explain the cognitive ability (without ever really being ‘tinker’ level, he hasn’t done anything impressive in that field yet just charged up a gun and made a failed attempt at reactivating a circuit within it) and certainly would explain the weird look of his flesh below skin level and his general reaction to the bullet. Both his ability to catch it and the aftereffects. It would make since for an android to have human-weak outer flesh so that it could pass as human on appearance and tacticle investigation, as well as at least a decoy vascular to create a realistic pulse and to produce blood and bruising as would be expected from minor injuries. Then once the bullet blasted away a bit of that artifice it exposed weirdly colored muscle (synthetic) that didn’t bleed. I’m sure whatever’s under his fingernails would be tied to this.

      I don’t necessarily think this is the explanation though, as it wouldn’t make much sense for the power juice to have affected him if it was. Perhaps the juice turned him into something LIKE an android, but organic?

  4. So I’m noticing no one else is picking up the hints I seem to be seeing, which is weird…
    Either the text has been changed since they read, which is totally possible, or I’m just too excited for it to be Masquerade. But, it really seems to be continuing to mesh up, he’s got the rhyming phrases every once in a while, and his super reaction type seems to match up with Masquerade’s combat style and ability to remain untouched in combat.

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