Chapter 2

Is it weird to wake up feeling like a different person?

And I don't mean feeling like you experienced something so monumental that changed your perspective on life, or look back at your decisions and realized how much you're mature. I mean waking up one morning not being able to identify with the person you were when you fell asleep.

Today, with my head clear of any pain and my body stronger than ever before, I don't feel like the abused boy that got his life changed yesterday or even the man who waked up in a different dimension than his own. I feel like- no I'am a completely different person than before, one that was born from the intermixture of their identities.

Is this natural? I don't think so, but I don't have time to philosophize about who Am I, I have to plan the next step.

That's why after I wake up from my pain inducing slumber I didn't immediately move to quell the ravenous hunger that I felt and instead move to reproduce everything I could remember about Worm and the CYOA on the nearest notebook.

Luckily I still have the experience of the people that composed me, including how to work through hunger.

The papers were both frightening and hopeful. Frightening because of the knowledge about what will happen to this city in future, and the many horrific truth that this world held. But hopeful because with my new power, I would undoubting be able to deal with everything when the time comes.

The door handle suddenly turns violently, but the locks held the door in place, I hear a loud curse from outside.

"What the- DAMN IT, BOY!" The tone wasn't enough to send me into a blinding panic anymore, but still send a shiver down my spine. "WHAT THE FUCK DID I TELL YOU- OPEN THIS SHIT RIGHT NOW!" My father roar and the door start to shake with the powerful blows.

I vaguely remember the 'me' from yesterday waking up from his pain-coma to the loud sounds of a merchant party just starting outside, then he does the unthinkable and disobey a direct order from the lord of the house, and locked his door. It kept the junkies outside while he passed through the painful process to digest another identity, but now it brings the wrath of the man who I once identified as my father.

Frankly, I don't want to deal with this right now.

Grabbing a worn out jacket and a long scarf from the pile near the closet, putting the now precious notebook beneath an arm and grabbing my bag with the other, I use my TK to open the window and immediately jump from it. Taking only a second to check if there was anyone in the alley.

The gravity grabs hold of me for a single second before quickly letting go like I was on fire. Smiling at the new feeling of weightless, I shot up toward the skies… And moved a lot slower than expected, but enough to get myself the roof in a few seconds.

Not wanting to let go of the euphoric feeling of flight just yet, I wrapped my face with the scarf and started to fly from rooftop, to rooftop. It was a bad idea of course, but I was too drunk on the feeling to care.

While yesterday passed was a blur due to the ever-increasing pain, the 'me' from before still held it together enough create two more powers before he passed out, the motivation was the growing fear as the details of Worm became more clear, the powers were meant to be a protection from the two primary sources of danger of this world, namely, regular physical injuries, and Thinkers.

There were more of course, but these two were the immediate ones, especially thinkers.

However, I think something went wrong.

I landed in a vaguely familiar alley near the apartment, crouching down to keep myself from being visible, doing this mostly out of principle. Then, with a deep breath I dove into myself, moving pass the non-space to land directly on my new fundamental core, the thing that I learn it called Soul in many universes, and according to what I knew about Worm, the only one of its kind in Earth-Bet.

I inspect the three powers rooted in it, doing my best to learn more about them from the impression I was getting, and after it, I went to the non-real space to hear the sounds of the Charges once again, imprinting my mind with new instructions about their nature.

When I finally came out, my neck was hurting from the awkward position, but I had an answer for the apparent slowness of my flight.

You see, Charges can only do so much; they create a power, which ranks as 4 or 5 on the PRT treat rating, and while that's a considerable amount of strength, needing a full team of trained agents to subdue, or a full team with Parahuman support, they still have limits. The powers they create are powerful, but they aren't overpowered.

If I accompanied a Charge through all the creation process, or give very specific demands about the finished product (and if the demands are in the realm of possibility for a single Charge) I would be able to have influence on the particular strengths or limitation of the power, but as the 'me' from yesterday in a state of constant mindboggling pain, he wasn't able to supervise the process. Which, from its part, tried to make a power as close to the intention of the creator. In that case an Alexandria Package.

Pretty good idea from someone trying to protect himself, I think.

But anyway, as a single Charge can't create multiple powers, which an Alexandria Package kinda is in its truest sense. The solution was creating something that had two subcategories, and I not talking about the normal PRT ones, I talking about primary power differences.

Because of the intention that motivated the process; the Charge focused on the 'super toughness' or 'invulnerability' aspect of it. It created a shield around the body to protect it form harm, but it still needed to do something about the 'super strength' and 'flight' aspect that the creator ask for. And as it couldn't create new powers, it connected the missing aspects to the shield, making me a Glory Girl-like power without the shaker effect… Or master effect, but I'm not entering that discussion, the entirety of Bay consider it a shaker; anyone saying otherwise is either a conspiracy theorist or Void Cowboy.

But the Charges aren't meant to directly make Powers with a sub-powers attach to it. Normal shards could, in fact, most of Brutes have something extra in them, and those with super toughness almost always have super strength, but Charges are initially more rigid than that, and most of the times it considers a side effect of a powers to be a power on itself, at least without some kind of human intuition guiding them.

They clearly can do it, as evident by my brand new Alexandria package, but it comes with the cost of potency. A Charge normally creates a power with a rating of 4 or 5, but now it made three powers with a lesser rating than that. The exact amount of strength lost because of this is nebulous at best; The PRT rating isn't really a powers level, even if it is treated like one by pretty much everyone.

But still, there a simple way to mitigate this, and coincidently is the proper way to make more complex powers.

So I did the obvious and grabbed one of the eight Charges singing in my head and threw at my new Brute/move power.

Immediately, I felt the new strength, the cloud of pure energy the used to be a Charge enhances every single aspect of it. Again the amount is nebulous of it felt pretty significant, and it that wasn't enough, it also made the 'power root' more flexible.

That's the terrifying thing about Charges; they are apparently better at enhancing than they are at creating. This new flexibility gave me a chance to modify, or add something to the power, of course with a single Charge the powers still pretty rigid; I couldn't add something too different from its main theme but something like… enhanced health something that makes my natural body stronger and always bring it to the perfect level of health the body could be.

I felt the brand new branch grow from the 'root' inside my soul, seemly integrating itself into the whole.

I couldn't help but smile at the sight, and then I move my metaphorical hand and grab another Charge.

Once again all the aspects of the 'power root' were enhanced including the brand new one, and once again the power loosens a little bit more. This time I managed to stick in a minor self-biokinesis power, giving me the ability to make small changes to my appearance and muscle mass. Then I threw the last Charge from yesterday, this time not adding or modifying anything, just getting the benefit of the enhancement, but the power still loosens a bit more at that, making room for a more flexible changes next time.

In summary, the Power manipulator doesn't give me an overpowered ability right out of the bat. It gives me a good or even great one and let me broke the limits for myself.

And if I create one power a day and invest the rest of four Charges in it, considering that each Charge is said to raise the threat level by two, and adding the fact that I could make that power more and more complex…

Yep, it also give me shivers.

And I still have five Charges, for today… so, I guess its time to make the next smart investment.

I turned to the second power created yesterday. This one doesn't have any problem; it was functioning like it properly should, without any unforeseeable weakness.

The Blank... Or at least an attempted copy of it. It makes me immune to thinker's power if they are not directly aimed at me, essentially making me blank until they focus directly on me with their own eyes.

Good against precogs, not so much against Tattletale.

…Now that I think about it, being a bank wouldn't attract more attention?

Maybe if I tweak it a little…

"Hey friend how you doing?"

I was brought back to reality, but a group of five men dressed in worn-out clothes that I knew very well.

Seriously! They pick me to mess around! In what kind of world the clothes I'm wearing scream "wealthy kid, who probably has nice things", that's just some poor target choosing right there, someone dressed like me wouldn't have a penny in them- Oh, it's the bag isn't it.

The speaker sends me a half-toothed smile "You look tired kid, why don't we hold on your bag for moment while you rest a little, it looks heavy." The others agree with a round of nods and encouragement.

Call it.

I open my mouth to respond when a rush of something comes over me, making me choke on my words and fall forward on hands and knees.

My entire body began to tingle; an overwhelming warm seems to overtake me, making my vision blur and, focus? Changing focus and intensities? Everything started to zoom in and zoom out. It was very upsetting.

I hear the leader coming close at my right, while on the side another one grabbed my bag. W-what that hell!? Is this a parahuman attack!? But now just why the fuck-

I feel a touch on my shoulders.


The breaking sound brought me clarity once again. Just in time to watch the leader spinning midair a few meters from the ground. He hit the ground with a dull sound and his disembody arm land a few meters further.

Nobody moved for a few moments. I turned to look and my raised arm, realizing that I had reflexively lashed out against the stranger's touch.

I turned back to the paralyzed merchants.

"Hm… Thank god, it wasn't his head?"

They bailed; of course they bailed, some shouted something about capes while they were at it, and other cursed everybody's mothers for some reason, but in summary; they left their unconscious friend with a potential dangerous cape.

So much for friendship, I guess.

Now, what that fuck just happened, my body just- OH! Of course, my new perfect health sub-power synergied with the minor biokinesis, and brought me to the new level of 'perfect' my body could reach.

"Holy shit!" I let a relieved laugh. "Can you believe I thought it was Cauldron for a second," I said to the downed gangster.

He didn't respond, obviously.

Well, that about wraps it out-

A completely new level of Pain pierced my stomach; I couldn't help it but to let out a miserable groan, everything started spinning so much that I had to lean against the wall to avoid falling on my face.

Ok, I really need to eat something.

I waited for the world to stop spinning before starting to consider how I would get food.

Then, I look at the bleeding gangster once again.

Well, I kind of need his wallet more than he does right now.