Shitlist 2.3 - Self-Reflections


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Topic: MEGATHREAD: Parahuman Debut of Amalgam

In: Boards ► Places ► America ► Brockton Bay Discussion ►

Alathea (Original Poster) (Moderator: Brockton Bay)

Posted On May 27th 2011:

Well, that happened!

This Megathread has been created to stop the constant spamming of Amalgam threads over the last few hours. Yes, I know. One of us, one of us and so forth. They' re still cluttering up everything. I will be closing any other threads that cover this topic within the Brockton Bay section of this forum. Any attempts at releasing personal details of Amalgam (or anyone else) will be harshly penalized with a permanent ban, as conformant to our doxxing rules, and will also be reported to the relevant authorities. Remember that anonymity is a right here, even for capes - especially for capes.

For those who have been hiding in a basement, a quick summary of events: Valued PHO contributor and resident cape expert Amalgam has decided to reveal her personal status as an independent parahuman via PHO - this claim is unverified at this time. She also described the experience which led her to this confession, namely a gang assault by local white supremacist gang 'Empire 88' upon her person, from which she was thankfully able to escape.

We request that you be respectful to the victim of such a harrowing event, particularly if she decides to participate in discussion.

Current news coverage:

PRT Press Release
Brockton Bay Gazette
Paranews
Capes Anonymous

(Showing page 3 of 85)

►Erato

Replied On May 27th 2011:

I ****ing knew it! (Also First!)

Why no details on her power? Easy to say you're a cape, but I dunno... Make a pic lifting a truck or something, that otta do it, right? Easy peasy lemon squeezy

BTW why did my thread get locked?

►ConVicOdin (Banned)

Replied On May 27th 2011:

[Content Deleted by Moderator]

►vv-Gigaflame-vv

Replied On May 27th 2011:

Damn to the 50th power! Stop the presses, BB is still cape central in the US of Ayyy!

Any idea what kind of costume she has? What powers? Or what cape name? Do we know anything beyond that she's a cape? Dammit all! I require information to fuel the eternal engine! FML :

BB REPRESENT

►LargeWaterMelons

Replied On May 27th 2011:

That's awesome, another new cape! Tentatively not an asshole, so I count that as a win.

I hope you're alright after that Empire business, Amalgam, and I wish you the best in whatever career you decide on! Unless it's being a murderous villain, then I won't. Deal?

►4Ever_Four

Replied On May 27th 2011:

[Content Deleted by Moderator]

►Sierra_Hotel_Niner

Replied On May 27th 2011:

I, too, wish you luck in future endeavors!

The label you picked is interesting, btw. 'Rogue' is the language used when someone's going commercial/corporate (for various historical reasons) while mercenary tends to be more villain-affiliated. You picked 'independent' instead. It's just so nonspecific - the kind of thing you'd call yourself if you wanted to the cape stuff, but hoped to avoid getting the government all up in your grill with recruitment offers or punches to the face. Scoping out the field before joining in?

Coyote-C, the thread has opened less than ten minutes ago. How is there already rule 34 stuff!? Jesus Christ.

►Kamtutz

Replied On May 27th 2011:

WOO! Since I posted the speculation thread about her being a cape, I'm not gonna say I told you so, but...

The cat's out of the bag! Gammy's a cape! She's been circumspect about answering that question since the beginning, so she probably just didn't want to burn any bridges. Maybe she wasn't careful enough, though, if a gang went after her? I've heard it's a common problem for rogues and indie capes, and it's worse for those without physical powers to fend them off, like Thinkers. Hope she can join the Protectorate or something. 'Protect' is literally in their name.

For those who missed the locked thread w/ Amalgam's comments & the ensuing discussion, what we know so far is that Amalgam was caught in a compromising position sometime last evening. That's easy to deduce from the fact that she started posting around midnight, and she described her run-in happening a few hours earlier. We also know that there was a sizeable explosion that evening, with dozens of residents reporting hearing a loud bang near the Boardwalk. The PRT cordoned off a few blocks around that time, and two Protectorate heroes were spotted. The connection is obvious, I think.

The PRT press release describes it as a gang-related altercation in which a non-chemical explosion was detonated. The cause is undetermined, but presumed to be parahuman-related, since there's no reason the PRT would be involved otherwise. There were a couple casualties, but none more serious than cuts or burns. Most of the damage was structural, with one building getting blown sky high. The PRT response suggests that the victims are gang members, if not in so many words, since it calls them 'participants' of the altercation rather than onlookers.

In short, general assumption is that Gammy got cornered by the E88 as she described, inside that destroyed building. Her admission of being a parahuman might be to stay ahead of bad press, since it seems she's got some destructive power which she was forced to use it in self-defense. Doesn't want to get an instant villain label for the big boom, I imagine.

OTOH the ongoing assumption is Thinker powers, given Gammy's habit of writing doctoral level studies in a lazy afternoon. Seriously, that's gotta be power-stuff or she's full-on genius too! How many Thinkers do you know who are high-end blasters on top?

Thoughts?

►Arale (Fanfiction Aficionado)

Replied On May 27th 2011:

I'm sensing an oncoming vs. thread! I guess there's not a lot of feats yet to base it on, however… and I'm not sure many capes will be taken down by well-written articles. Maybe she can write a sweet treatise riddled with spelling errors and give Accord an aneurysm?

►Incoherent Guttural Noises

Replied On May 27th 2011:

Did not expect this, I admit. I'm gonna say this in my own defense: jumping to the conclusion that someone is a cape should only happen after other options have been exhausted. Most people are mundane, and most smart people are not thinkers of any kind. That this one happens to be doesn't mean it's a good rule of thumb. Anecdotes aren't data, people!

I'm gonna guess she's a kind of Blaster, if this explosion stuff is related. That would make the smarts just a result of being educated and having some ins with the cape community. Not superpowers. That'd work.

EDIT: Sorry, removed the bit that was uncalled for. Thanks for not deleting this post outright!

► FencerFeline

Replied On May 27th 2011:

IGN - Of course you'd pick that option, then you can be wrong and yet still be right at the same time. Sneaky!

I'm just gonna say that it's super-exciting to see Amalgam reveal her cape status online! I don't know how much that happens, but I thought usually they did it in real life, stalking the streets for robbers or something, and got in the news a couple times before they came here? Amalgam was one of us all along! How cool is that? Talking to a cape and never even knowing. Wonder if I should go back and see what she's said in her old posts?

EDIT: Hm, her Mind Games thread is also her first post... nothing to see, really. ...Ooooh does she have alts?

►4Ever_Four

Replied On May 27th 2011:

I apologize for the crude words in that deleted post, I guess? I was editing it, but the moderators are too quick. I'll try again with the wrongspeak cut out so the pc mods allow it

Gosh darn, my cousin got blown by this blooming lady yesterday! He said she was wearing a cloth on her face instead of a mask, so prob no costume. I admit cuz is kind of a blooming derriere, but I think he was telling the truth, what with that doomed egg on his head. Got hit pretty hard by the blooming shockwave!

... okay now?

►Beat-Bro

Replied On May 27th 2011:

Glad to hear that you're safe, Amalgam! I can't imagine how scary it is to get attacked like that… I gotta ask, have you considered joining the Wards or the Protectorate, depending on what age you are? Solo capes don't have it so well, and they could help you in case the Empire tries again. Strength in numbers, you know.

Are you going to keep 'Amalgam' as your alias? It sounds enough like a cape alias, though I don't know if it's taken.

►JENGOROTH

Replied On May 27th 2011:

Power speculation-a-go-go! I've been going over this one for a bit, basing it on Amalgam's screen name here on PHO, given that there's not a lot else to go on. Right. 'Amalgam' means an alloy of Mercury and some other metal. Most common one is old fashioned dental fillings which have silver in them. So something metal-related, maybe?

Let's see… Mercury is a metal obviously, the liquid one… but it's also the name of a planet, and the name of a deity. Pretty sure they all trace their name back to that god, actually. And here's where it gets interesting! Cos y'know what kind of God he was? He was into financial gain and commerce $$, eloquence, poetry, messages, communication, traveling, luck, boundaries… A lot of things actually, but I think the 'Messenger God' bit is the most obvious in relation to a thinker power. Considering she's been posting a lot of heavy duty cape studies to be read by normal people… she's like a messenger from parahumanity, huh? See what I'm laying down here?

How about the metal connection? Mercury is association with death (yikes), transformation and mystery, as well as scrying (which I guess could mean information gathering?) Silver is supposed to be a 'feminine' metal, whatever that means, which stands for purity, intuition, self-reflection and inner wisdom. Honestly the symbolic meaning of silver here is too perfect.

So what I'm guessing it's supposed to mean is that she's a rogue (if commercial gain is important) who has a power related to information gathering. Something like grabbing important info out of thin air or whatever, which is why her articles are so freaking good and have all sorts of obscure stuff in them? I think I got that right.

I'll be a fiver that this was on her mind when she picked that name!

►Merovingian

Replied On May 27th 2011:

[Content Deleted by Moderator]

►Vocabulary

Replied On May 27th 2011:

So does anyone know if New Wave still accepts members? Cause as independent capes in BB go, they are pretty much the go-to example, right? I mean, they're Protectorate-affiliated I guess, but they're still their own thing. Or are they just a family outfit these days? I don't keep up with that stuff.

End of Page. 2, 3, 4 ... 83, 84, 85


I leaned back in my chair, rubbing my tired eyes. The internet was helpful as ever, but at least people were sending me good vibes. I tried to refocus on the screen, but the letters blurred together. I'd been at this too long. I still had eighty-something pages to go… in this thread. And every hour half a dozen pages seemed to pop into existence, much of it in far-flung places I wouldn't think to look. Fantastic. I didn't blame Lisa for unleashing this storm, really, but I couldn't help resenting her a little for leaving me to clean up all the fallout.

My debut as a cape was… underwhelming. In a way I felt cheated out of the stereotypical dramatic moment that involved standing over some thugs I'd just beaten up and introducing myself to a policeman in the coolest way I could manage. Maybe it would involve a badass landing from a rooftop or something, fist to the ground and cape flapping in the wind. I didn't get to any of that. Right now, I was the cape equivalent of an internet celebrity. Eugh.

To make matters worse, Lisa had done a good job. Maybe too good a job. I still hadn't left a single message in any of the threads, doubtful I'd ever be able to match the bold and decisive version of me that Lisa had spun together. Not without overplaying my hand. PHO trolls would instantly recognize that I was some impostor and smell blood in the water. I imagined they would, anyway, and that was enough to scare me off.

I shoved the laptop aside, and resolved not to think about it for a while. A long while, if I could help it. I turned my attention to my home away from home. It was a barren warehouse with little more in it than two chairs, an old camping table, and a ratty second-hand mattress. Not exactly stellar lodgings. I'd been using it for the better part of three weeks, wary of getting anywhere near my actual home. It'd been three weeks since I'd spoken to anyone except the Undersiders and the random nobodies that spammed messages at me online. Thank God this place had electricity, or I might as well have crawled into a cave.

My phone buzzed - an older model mobile that Alec found lodged between couch cushions - and I took note of the fresh alert that appeared at the top. 'Observation time' it noted in friendly green letters. I pulled out a notebook, flipping past dozens of filled pages to a blank one. No notable mental changes, though perhaps I felt a little calmer than the previous evening. Hard to pin down, that. I jotted down the observation, following it up the standard 'No physical changes.' That left powers.

"Guns on!" I said dramatically, flicking my hands upwards and trying to call up Miss Militia's power. Nothing, not even a sizzle or spark of black-and-green power. Had that power faded altogether, or was I just not understanding how to bring it to bear? Both times I'd managed it, I'd been in immediate danger, but Miss Militia was pretty much always armed, so that didn't seem to match. Perhaps she just thought she was in danger all the time? Nah. She seemed way too composed for that.

"I'm still most useless cape ever," I grumbled, quickly underlining the 'calm' in my book. Grumbling was mild as reactions went. Was this calm power-related, or just me getting used to disappointment and frustration? Whatever. Time for a check-in.

I sent a quick message to Lisa:

I might be calmer today? Not sure, no big changes

It took mere moments for a reply to appear.

kk, no news good news, Alec says hi

I doubted Alec had done anything much more than sniff when Lisa prodded him for a message, but I took the gesture in the spirit it was intended. Alec didn't do social interaction, and I could relate. Spending months inside your own head made it hard to fault others for their self-absorption.

My phone buzzed again.

cu tmrw

I smiled at the briefness of the message; if Lisa shortened her text messages any further I'd need her power just to work them out. Knowing her, she'd help me get it, and then smile maliciously every time I got a headache. Witch.

Putting the phone away, I worried at the familiar paths my thoughts were following. Everything seemed to go back to powers and parahumans. They were on my mind a lot, lately. My own power remained a source of frustration and confusion, as I still didn't get the particulars of how it functioned. Was it related to proximity? How much people's opinions meant to me? Maybe it depended on how I was feeling at the time? The guns had come out in a moment of desperation, so maybe Adrenalin was a turbocharger for my power? People like Lung seemed to rely on that.

Turning my cape geekery on my own power had been Lisa's idea, and not a bad one. I did learn things: I'd gathered information on Master and Trump capes, started two new papers for PHO, theorized and speculated on a vast array of possibilities, and still hadn't gotten any closer to having proper answers. Frustrating, to say the least. The biggest issue was not the Master aspect, which was explicable by power standards. Mind controllers were common enough that there were at least five major villains who fit the description in the Americas alone. The Thinker part wasn't that unusual either; plenty of people got generic intelligence boosts or information gathering tools, including Lisa. That left the most elusive and dangerous of the bunch: the Trump power.

Power as the people demand.

My power knew what other people thought about me, and then acted on it. Somehow, some way, my power was making decisions in my stead. How? How could a superpower make choices? Wouldn't it need to grasp what was going on? Wouldn't it need intelligence? Lisa had said powers were dumb. Were they, really? What were powers, exactly? I tried not to let the thought of a maybe-intelligent mind-controller lurking in the back of my head bother me.

My gaze returned to the screen of my laptop. "All these worries, and still no new powers..." I complained, though my heart wasn't in it. It was a relief, honestly, to know that idle banter on the internet wasn't capable of radically re-configuring my personality and powers. Apparently my power counted someone mistaking me for someone else in the dark, but not hundreds of people speculating online. Arbitrary. It wasn't about needing my real identity for it to work, since the Undersiders hadn't known about it. Too many degrees of separation in this case? Too vague in specifics? Maybe my power just didn't grok the cyber?

Drowsiness threatened to drag my eyes closed, but I forced them back open. Night was closing in, sure, but I hadn't eaten yet. Crackers didn't count. I pushed myself up from my chair and threw on something relatively clean, hoping I'd pass muster on the Boardwalk. It was a bit on the pricey side there, but Lisa had given me spending cash, and everywhere else was just too close to the gangs for comfort. Adler was back on the streets, and he probably had it in for me.

I tried not to let that bother me either.

Hemmed in by my own neuroses, I decided I needed a breath of fresh air. I strolled out onto the backstreets of Brockton Bay, locking the warehouse behind me with a bike lock. It would do in this part of town. It wasn't gang territory, as such - the closest villains were the Undersiders, unsurprisingly - but it was still technically the 'bad' part of town. All the boarded-up windows made it all too clear this place hadn't seen a cash infusion since the last administration.

I imagined the money was spent on places that didn't have endemic gang problems featuring super-Nazis and actual dragons.

Right. Fresh Air. The Boardwalk. Distraction. Food.

The streets were quiet, the last few stragglers heading home as the day drew to a close. There were a few tourists, recognizable by their cameras, bags, and unusual interest in the bay. Someone from security gave me the stink-eye, his gaze lingering on my hair before he moved on. I couldn't help it that I lacked a mirror or daily showers. I could get those at the Undersiders' place, but I tried to avoid spending too much time there, just in case.

I walked up to the balustrade, gazing out over the waters of the bay. The distant sight of the Protectorate Headquarters seemed almost to beckon, and it was the obvious place to go with problems like mine. I'd been hesitant to reach out to the heroes before, fearful that my aura was going to make them enemies the moment I ran into them, but surely they'd worked with cases like mine? Glory Girl had an aura that made people afraid of her, and she was a hero! On the other hand, I'd spent an afternoon reading up on Master capes, and… Lots of Masters were villains, especially the human-controlling ones. I already knew two or three of them. And none of them turned allies into enemies on a dime. None of them were walking, talking liabilities.

"Fuck."

My power was dangerous, I knew that much. Just because I'd managed to avoid brainwashing people for two weeks, didn't mean I was safe to be around. The heroes would realize that too. Would I be allowed in the Wards, or would I just get locked away for the safety of others?

Whatever. I'd been considering the independent cape route, anyway.

I paused, a chill running down my back at the thought. How sure was I that it was my own, really? Lisa had called me independent in her PHO posts - to leave my options wide open, she said. But being independent was already a choice, wasn't it? It meant not a hero or a villain in common use, and if that's what people believed, wouldn't it bias me against other options? Had she done that accidentally? On purpose? She was a villain, so she had a vested interested in keeping me off the straight and narrow...

Glancing down at my hands, I noticed that I was shivering. It didn't feel nice to think ill of my friends, even recently gained ones. But how much of that was her convincing the other Undersiders that I was her friend, thus forcing me to play along? Would I even notice that kind of manipulation? Who the fuck was I? Playdough for every passing stranger to squeeze in whatever shape they needed? And I couldn't be sure if this paranoia was even natural, or just more power bullshit!

I grasped the balustrade, squeezing until my knuckles turned white. I yelled something, something unintelligible or unconscionably filthy into the wind, just to know that I still had control over my voice. It felt good to let out my frustration, and all I got in return was some weird looks from tourists. I'd received worse walking between classes. The thoughts crowding in my head were shoved aside to make room for a mindless, howling feeling. Rage, maybe. Against powers. Against the world. It was better than wallowing.

Was this me? I always felt like me, even when I wasn't me. Would I forget who I used to be, and go wherever the wind took me? Could I hold onto the important bits? Had I changed a lot in recent times, or had I just grown up without realizing it?

The breathless moment ended, and I stepped back. Fuck. Fuck all of that. Practical things were what I needed right now. No existential crises, no worries stacked on top of more worries. I needed something tangible. Independent capes, that's what I was thinking about. Parian was the one to mention in Brockton Bay, so that's who I would contact. She had a website. I found her contact form, composing a halfway decent email before I could rethink it. Message written. Message sent. I was locked in. Hopefully the me that would show up to the meeting hadn't gone villain.

My hands were still trembling, still cold.

"Uh… Are you alright?"

I froze. Seriously? I glanced over my shoulder, and saw a brown-haired girl staring at me, her hands clasped behind her back. She looked vaguely familiar, though I couldn't begin to guess her name. Five-and-a-half feet away - outside my range. "Hi. You're not here to take me for a cup of tea a block or two over, right?" I asked mildly.

She blinked at me in confusion. "No… Um, you're Taylor, right? From Mister G's class?"

I nodded slowly. "Last I checked."

"You haven't been to class," she said, looking over my clothes and doubtlessly drawing all the right conclusions. "I saw you standing here, and I thought…" She shook her head. "I'm not sure what I thought."

I shrugged, trying to recall if I'd ever spoken to her before. "So, what do you want?"

She bit her lip nervously. "I guess I wanted to - apologize." She nodded to herself, and seemed to find some sort of confidence in herself, straightening her posture. "There's something I've done, or haven't done… You've heard of the Bystander Effect?"

Ah. I met her gaze, and knew what she was here for. I could almost feel it. She was looking for absolution, wasn't she? She was from my class, so that meant this was about school, and the only thing worth apologizing for there was obvious. She'd witnessed the bullying, the destructive cycle that the trio and I had been in for so long that it had become part of my very being. She'd seen it, and done nothing. But a lot of people had seen it and done nothing. That's what people did. I tried to conjure up some malice, some vengeful anger. I couldn't. The emotions weren't there.

She was a symptom as much as the bullies were, part of a bigger story.

I shook my head, and that floating feeling of detachment faded. The conclusion remained.

"...I forgive you," I said finally, and I meant it.

The girl blinked, staring at me like I'd grown antlers. "What? What do you mean? Just like that?"

"Yeah, pretty much. I never blamed you. Any of you," I explained after a tense silence. "Emma and Sophia… They share some blame in what happened. So do I." I considered my words carefully. "But... I've moved on from there. From them. Left that part of my life behind."

Left that part of me behind.

Silence lingered. Finally, the girl relaxed. "Damn. You've gone very Zen," she said. "Emma said you'd cracked - didn't know what she meant…"

I snorted. "Emma said that? Figures." I could see that happening after our little run-in at the school gate. I'd barely even thought of her since, too focused on other things. "What did Sophia have to say?"

"Eh, she hasn't been around much. Emma's inconsolable. Before that, though? She said you'd snapped." She grimaced. "Said you were one of those people with a hair-trigger who could go from shy nobody to vicious psychopath in an instant. Pretty menacing stuff, on the whole."

That… sounded far too familiar. I could almost feel Alec's taser back in my hand, lighting up with sparks as I viciously stabbed it into an Empire thug's leg without the slightest hesitation. Zap.

The girl seemed to get something from my expression, because she blanched. "No, no! I know it's just gossip, that it's Sophia trying to put you down! Most of us didn't believe it, you know. I figured you'd hit her back, and good for you!"

I nodded, thinking of that moment I'd slammed Emma into the wall - Alec hadn't helped with that. "You're not wrong." I paused, frowning to myself. "I'm sorry, but I don't think I remember your name."

She smiled. "It's Charlotte. Three seats to your side in Mister G's class."

I didn't remember her. "Why did you seek me out, Charlotte? You weren't involved."

"Yeah, but…" She paused, grimacing. "Look, I spoke to Madison." The name barely even fazed me. "She told me a bit about what happened outside the school. She's… different, now. I don't know what happened to her, but I think she got hurt." She looked down at her feet. "I think it was Sophia, honestly. She did something, and now Madison is afraid of her. But she's even more afraid of you. I don't know why. I thought…"

"You thought I would know why," I said, and I wondered what was going on with the third wheel of the bullies. "...Alright. Want to talk about it over tea? It's getting chilly, and I could use a bite to eat."

Charlotte sagged in relief. "Sure."

"Not here, though. The Boardwalk is pricey." I smiled. "Don't worry, I know a place."


Shitlist 2.4 - Conviction

There was a certain therapeutic quality to this moment, I decided, sipping from my steaming cup of tea as Charlotte nattered on about schoolyard politics and annoying teachers. This was just so thoroughly normal that it felt downright nostalgic. It was the kind of thing I'd missed in recent weeks - or recent years, even. I tried to ignore the complicated feelings that roiled inside me, constant reminders of my treatment at the hands of Emma and the others, and focused on the moment. Right now, right here, none of that mattered. I was okay.

Charlotte wasn't half as nervous as I was, of course. She'd flopped bonelessly into a chair the moment we entered, then started gushing about the cute little shop that Lisa had introduced me to. She openly admired the charming scenery that I'd mostly ignored. Obviously she was playing up the cheerful attitude to try and counteract my dour mood, but I resolved to suppress any twinge of annoyance I might've felt at that bit of harmless manipulation. Charlotte wasn't responsible for any of the things that happened to me, and I had no reason to resent this girl for what Emma and the others had done. Her worst sin was not acting, and that was a sin we shared.

I'd done far worse - I'd forced those three into keeping things going, after all, even if I hadn't meant to. Fucking powers.

And there those thoughts were again. Powers. The veneer of mundanity couldn't last long, could it? Cape thoughts dragged themselves back into my mind, an ever-present background murmur of weird worries and fears. Why couldn't I stick with normalcy for a little longer? Was I just not cut out for it anymore? Maybe I hadn't felt normal in so long that I'd gotten suspicious about the whole concept? I couldn't help but suspect super-powered trickery, even when there was none.

Was this my life now? Ever-encroaching paranoia about my dubious sanity?

"Taylor?"

I blinked guilelessly, glancing up at Charlotte. "Yes? Yeah. I'm sorry. I was a bit distracted there," I stammered, blushing at my faux-pas. She didn't seem offended. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"

"They think it's gang ties," she stated, and I felt utterly lost in the conversation. Where had that come from? What had I missed that would lead from random school nonsense to talking about freaking gangsters? "...That's what Sophia said to Madison, at least," Charlotte continued, giving me some semblance of a clue. "She thinks you're involved with one gang or another. Not sure where she got that idea, but maybe it's her own brainchild? Seems like her kind of thing." She shrugged. "You shouldn't read too much into it. It's probably just the worst they could come up with."

I nodded slowly, still wondering when innocent chatting had turned to these uncomfortable topics. Maybe I should've stayed in la-la land. Still, I could kind of see where Sophia was coming from, in a detached sort of way. She had suspected the involvement of the Empire 88 at the school gate too, hadn't she? A laughable idea, but I did get two shady white kids from outside school to back me up against the popular black girl. Didn't look great from the outside.

I paused as a fearful thought occurred to me, and I shuddered with utter revulsion. I really, sincerely hoped that my power would never make me racist by proxy. Now that would be a headache and a half to deal with! "To be perfectly clear, I am not in any gang," I stated belatedly, perhaps a little more forcefully than I should have. Real convincing, genius. "Nor have I ever been."

Charlotte smiled. "I knew that. You don't strike me as a druggie or a Nazi, and unless you're hiding a really interesting family tree, you're not Asian either. That covers most of the bases around here, really..."

I snorted. "What would a gang even want with a lanky 15-year-old with trust issues?" My voice cracked halfway through, and I winced.

Charlotte seemed to consider my question seriously, peering at me with strange intensity. Why would she do that? What did she see that I didn't? I fidgeted in my seat. Finally she nodded to herself. "...Yeah. Good point."

Alright. What was that about? That weird expression bugged me. Had she somehow figured out I was a cape? That's the thought that jumped to mind, at least. Was that the reason she sought me out? Maybe she was just waiting for me to bring it up? No, that would be quite a leap of faith, especially since I barely knew her. I forced myself to focus, and to dismiss the paranoia. I was probably overthinking this, and extrapolating from way too little information. Lisa would've told me off for that mistake.

"...Do I want to know what that look was about?" I asked at last. Okay, so much for subtlety.

Charlotte cocked her head to the side. "Eh. Probably, but I'm not telling."

I stared and tried to figure out what was going on in this conversation. Whatever I'd hoped to notice in her voice or her expression, some dramatic tell or sign of her disposition, just wasn't there. She was a really good actress - or I was a really poor judge of acting prowess. "I'm too sober for this conversation," I joked, turning back to my tea.

Silence fell, but it wasn't the strained kind. Charlotte sipped at some herbal mixture I wasn't familiar with, occasionally glancing my way with that strange expression. Maybe she was trying to divine some sort of tells from my face too? Weird. The momentary lull in conversation allowed me to center myself.

"I'm…" I started nervously. "I'm probably not coming back to Winslow. You get that, right?" I looked down at my drink, watching the bubbles swirl as I twisted my spoon. "I finally got out of there, and don't feel like going back. I've got enough self-control to study by myself without exposing myself to more..." I sighed. "More of that."

Charlotte nodded. "You've been gone for a while, so I kind of assumed. I figured you'd just write yourself out at the end of the school year." She smiled. "I have thought about doing that once or twice, but there's no way my parents would allow something like that." She smiled. "You're living the dream, huh?"

Some other people's dreams, maybe.

These days, it seemed that was enough.

I tried for some honesty. "Look. There's… things going on with me. I haven't been at my best." I felt a little lost about where I was going with that thought even as I was voicing it. "I haven't really spoken to anyone, much less someone I don't really know." I shivered. "Thanks for that, by the way. This stuff is cathartic, kind of."

A warm hand suddenly landed on mine, squeezing tightly. "Any time." I looked up in shock. Charlotte smiled, squeezing once more, then let my hand go. "Just say the word and I'll swing by for another cuppa. You gotta have someone in your corner, right?"

I stared at her, starkly aware that she was only a few feet away from me - well inside my power's range. Where was the inevitable deluge of vile words, hateful expressions?

Charlotte seemed to interpret my stunned silence as some sort of response, and nodded sharply. "I'm not kidding about that, you know? Don't let those bitches get to you again. You've escaped from them. That's the important part - you're out. Now, you can find yourself again. Everything else is just willpower." She winked at that. "Or so the self-help books say."

I scoffed. "Not sure a bit of store-bought self-confidence is gonna cut it here."

Charlotte smiled. "You say that, but you just claimed you had the self-control to finish school by yourself. Seems you've got the right idea already," she said slyly. "You just have to remember there are people you can depend on, even if they're hard to find. Other people that could share your burden."

I looked away with a sinking feeling in my gut. "...Ah. I see where this is going."

Charlotte sighed. "No, no. I'm not saying you should trust me. We barely know each other! You should find someone you already trust, and confide in them instead." She paused for a moment, then pressed on. "The alternative is to do the complete opposite. Search for advice from people who are not invested in the slightest, who have no personal connection to your issues at all."

I thought of Lisa and Alec, wondering if I trusted them with my problems because of this fresh personal connection we built up over the last few days, if I just sort of tolerated them because they'd already figured stuff out, or if they were just a convenient target to vent at. I wasn't sure, honestly. I put that aside, focusing back on Charlotte's words. "What do you mean by that, exactly?"

Charlotte grimaced. "Well… This might sound really stupid, but have you ever considered calling a helpline or something? I know they're seen as a bit…" She waved her hand vaguely. "You know, there's a lot of spiritual mumbo-jumbo out there, but there's good ones too. Legitimate ones. My mom called one dozens of times in the eighties - credits it as helping her through the most difficult time in her life. I probably wouldn't have existed without that. Worth a shot, you think?"

Yeah, that really didn't sound like my thing, at all.

She picked up on my disdain and rolled her eyes. "Hey! Don't knock it 'till you try it!" she warned. "Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Doesn't have to be a telephone thing. I'm sure you could find stuff online, or wherever else. Places to get advice from other people who've been in the same situation you're in - whatever it might be. There's nothing new under the sun." She shrugged. "You could do it anonymously, if that's the issue. Nobody would even have to know."

Charlotte seemed weirdly insistent about her advice, and suddenly I wondered if my power was spreading its influence in some brand new mind-controlling way. According to Lisa, my 'aura' reflected my power's image of myself. If the 'hate-me' vibe had suddenly gone away, what might have replaced it? Was I emitting 'I need therapy badly' signals?

...Could I see Dad again?

"I'll consider your suggestion," I agreed at last, trying not to show my unease too openly. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose."


Unknown Number: Five-hundred quid worth, third drop point.

Unknown Number: That alright with you?

Adler: Sounds good. Do you have what I need?

Adler: Or are you wasting my time?

Unknown Number: Ain't getting involved any further than this, you understand.

Unknown Number: Cape shit is not my business.

Adler: Yea. It's mine.

Adler: Answer my fucking question.


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Topic: MEGATHREAD: Parahuman Debut of Amalgam

In: Boards ► Places ► America ► Brockton Bay Discussion ►

Alathea (Original Poster) (Moderator: Brockton Bay)

Posted On May 27th 2011:

(Showing page 144 of 146)

► FencerFeline

Replied On May 29th 2011:

So has anyone actually spotted Amalgam in the wild? Like, does she go out in costume at all or does she just use her mysterious powers to make internet articles and blow up random gang members that drop in on her?

I'm kinda curious here, I'll be totally honest. Also I want to do fanart and it's really hard to do that rn...

► CleverPunHere (Banned)

Replied On May 29th 2011:

[Content Deleted by Moderator]

► Lestre

Replied On May 29th 2011:

I heard this from a friend of a friend, but apparently Amalgam was pretty banged up in that explosion, stumbled out, tased a nazi, then got escorted away by someone else, probably some ally of hers. No ID on the mysterious helper, but apparently it was a scrawny person in some white frilly shirt thing? That's all I know tbh.

I'm not aware of any superwomen in Brockton who could blow up buildings short of probably Miss Militia, but I rather doubt she was involved. Drawing a blank here...

► HellLionArt

Replied On May 29th 2011:

If that's true, then maybe the second person was also a cape? They could be the one who blew up the house instead of Amalgam & that's why everyone's so divided on her powers. There's two different capes involved!

Would explain a lot honestly, though I guess it does mean there was a bit of friendly fire involved there. Although Amalgam got out, so no harm no foul?

I'm still banking on Thinker or Trump or Tinker or something T for Amalgam, so I'm pasting the big Blaster label on frilly shirt girl!

► BeatBro

Replied On May 29th 2011:

Does anyone know if Amalgam can be reached in any way, some sort of public email address or the like? I don't really feel comfortable sharing my thoughts with the entire internet, but sending an unsolicited PM feels overly pushy & it's probably turned off anyway to deal with spam...

► OrderDude

Replied On May 29th 2011:

Haven't actually seen her online since the E88 thing. Might be laying low.

► Purgatory

Replied On May 29th 2011:

I mean, wouldn't you? Bunch of neonazis try to kill you, I'd avoid the public eye for a while, especially a public place like PHO. Who knows if anyone can track IPs from here or something? I mean, not saying you could but what if?

► Amalgam (The Gal in the Know)(Unverified Cape)

Replied On May 29th 2011:

BeatBro : I added you to my approved contact list, so send me whatever you needed to tell me on PM. If that turns out to be terrible stuff, I'll just block you again.

EDIT: For everyone else, there's now AmalgamPHO which I made as a quick and dirty solution. I will respond to messages that actually seem worthwhile to respond to, and block everyone who sends those other kinds of messages. Please keep it civil.

► AntiDash

Replied On May 29th 2011:

Holy crap, Amalgam spotted! It's been a couple days, are you alright? Can I PM you too?

► 4Ever_Four

Replied On May 29th 2011:

AntiDash : given that she explicitly approved only BeatBro, who asked a hell of a lot more nicely than you did, I'm gonna guess no.

But you are right, it has been a while since we had an actual online sighting of our favorite cape nerd in the know - what's been happening, Ammy?

End of Page. 1, 2, 3 … 144, 145, 146


Private message from Amalgam:

Amalgam: Alright, you've got my attention. What's up?

BeatBro: Uh, right, I'm not comfortable sharing real names online, that's why I made this account. So, I'm BeatBro I guess? I was kinda hoping I could get some advice, and since your main contact point with the world is PHO...

Amalgam: What kind of advice are you looking for?

BeatBro: Okay, so, from what I've read, you're an independent hero in Brockton Bay, which would make us colleagues.

BeatBro: Except, you know, I have no idea what I'm doing.

BeatBro: So I was kind of hoping you could help a brother out.

Amalgam: Colleagues?

BeatBro: I don't really punch Nazis if that's what you're asking, though I think Merchants are cut from the same kind of cloth, and I've punched those.

Amalgam: Huh. I wonder if it's just as satisfying.

BeatBro: Hah, probably! I'll let you know if it comes up.

Amalgam *New Message*: Alright, I looked on wiki, and it wasn't hard to narrow down what your cape identity had to be, between being in Brockton Bay and using that screenname. It's nice to meet a fellow hero, but I am not sure if I could be of much help with cape advice - at least until I figure out my own situation a little more.

Amalgam *New Message*: For the moment I'll leave this communication channel open, and if you send me a quick email I'll flag your replies as urgent so I'll get to them quickly. We can exchange information and get some idea of each other before we consider any sort of IRL interaction. I'm not going out in costume atm so we probably wouldn't run into each other anyway, but general courtesy, right?

Amalgam *New Message*: A first bit of advice, though, learned the hard way from recent events - be careful about hideouts that seem too good to be true. They probably are. And if you spot Nazi memorabilia, leave immediately. You'd think I wouldn't need practical experience to teach me that one...


My mobile phone felt heavy in my hand. I'd been staring at it for the better part of half an hour, fingers hovering over the screen. Dad would be home around this time. He would pick up. He would. But I wasn't sure what I'd even say to him. Even if I wanted to tell him about my powers, I certainly wouldn't do something like that over the phone. What were my options, exactly? Make some distant promise that I would eventually work up the courage to face him in person? Apologize for doing something for reasons I couldn't explain, and he wouldn't understand?

I couldn't find the right words, or even the right thoughts.

I slipped the phone back into my pocket and frowned up at the ceiling, staring at the parallel lines of the stainless steel girders that gleamed softly in the reflected light of the streetlamp outside. This… wasn't how I'd planned my life. Taylor Hebert: Super-Hobo. And yet, I hadn't felt this relaxed for the better part of two years. No school to worry about, no Emma to mess with me, no expectations from anyone, not even my weird supervillain acquaintances. Homelessness, it turned out, kind of suited me.

Which really told me all I needed to know about my old life. Fuck it.

The edges of the warehouse blurred together. I didn't wipe the tears out of my eyes, didn't stifle the sobs that were working their way out. What was the point, these days? I felt lost, unmoored, a ship without a sail on a roiling ocean, pushed around by currents I couldn't hope to control. What could I do, really? What should I do? What did I even want?

I raised my hands and once again tried to summon magical guns from the firearm dimension. I tried to reawaken that spark of Miss Militia's power I'd wielded twice before. I got a whole lot of nothing. Powers - they were a double-edged sword that ruined whatever sense of normalcy my life might've had, but I hadn't been a big fan of that existence anyway. And a double-edged sword was still a sword. My powers could be a weapon, a tool to use, an asset to leverage. I needed to get a grip on them before I ended up hurting someone again - including myself. Before I ended up a statistic. After that, I could get to the rest. Get my life back together.

I could join a team, maybe. Become a superhero.

I smiled at the thought, tears drying on my cheeks. I should remember that nobody really knew about Taylor Hebert, secret hobo super-person. All they really knew was Amalgam, my online identity turned cape persona. I'd already gained some notoriety with that title even if it was mostly because of Lisa and the internet's teeming unwashed masses. ...Okay, so calling them unwashed was a bit hypocritical at the moment. Yuck.

Still, what could I do with this spot of fame? Plenty of people were guessing at my powers on PHO, but I still hadn't noticed gaining any new ones from their speculation. There were probably so many random and contradictory stories that no significant number of users believed any of them - there wasn't enough critical mass for their beliefs to roll over into a fact. That was a relief, in its own way, since it meant I wasn't the plaything of every random person that passed me by.

Just... just some of them.

Panic. Later.

Right. Right. I'd have to break pattern if I wanted to make actual use of my power. I had to make the rumor mill work for me, somehow. The most obvious way would be to claim some specific power on PHO, and then wait for that information to have a real-world impact. Unless I went for broke and claimed to be Scion's little sister, I'm pretty sure a fair chunk of people would believe my post on account of my good reputation. Then, of course, I could provide further proof by using the newly acquired powers in public, and everybody else would get on board.

I'd gotten to the seed of a plan, at last.

I grabbed my phone again and browsed to the Parahumans Wiki, accessing a list of power categories. I couldn't pick some random power, if I was going to do this - it'd have to be something that fit with Amalgam's previous actions. Unfortunately those actions included being an enormous cape nerd and blowing up a building full of Nazis, which didn't really have the greatest overlap. Oops.

I ditched Brute or Blaster powers right away - my spotty control over Miss Militia's gun-fu told me that I'd definitely end up outing myself before the week was out if I got any more of those spectacle moves. That worry also crossed off a bunch of other categories, so I focused on the less immediately visible types of powers. Thinker abilities made the most sense since they were what people already thought I had, but they'd be pretty difficult to demonstrate, and they wouldn't explain the explosion. Something more versatile would make sense, a Trump power, but those were pretty rare and would invite more scrutiny.

Still, I really was a Trump, so it wouldn't even really be a lie…

I scrolled down a little further. There was another versatile category of capes that I should consider - Tinker. Tinkers needed resources, which wasn't really something I had access to, but their ability to create devices with a vast number of uses could be an easy way to justify all sorts of weird powers. Or a way to fake them in the first place. Hm.

Looking for some external input, I texted Lisa.

Amalgam

What do you think of trying for a tinker pwr?

Tattletale

Tinker would be useful but expensive, but can fund as true member - hint hint

Well, I could have predicted that response.

Tattletale

what specialty are u thinking tho?

Right. I'd almost forgotten about that. Tinkers had a thing they did. Something peculiar to them specifically. Armsmaster had his fancy halberds and body armor, Kid Win did flying skateboards and laser guns. I wasn't sure what Gallant made, but it probably involved his armor. Almost nobody was a generic tinker who could just do anything. Hero and Dragon were closest to that, I guess, and then there was Leet - though all his stuff sucked and blew up.

Amalgam

not sure tbh, considering options. Suggestions?

I thought back to the basement, to that moment when I'd briefly become a stone-cold badass with Miss Militia powers, and wondered how that sort of thing looked to the outside observer. Some sort of power mimicry? Cosplay superpowers sounded pretty neat, but that idea would probably be too powerful to believe. Way too many nerds would instantly demand I dress up as Alexandria or Eidolon, or maybe they would start a gold paint fund.

Shit, what if that worked, though? For a moment, I tried to imagine the scenario, and a chill ran down my spine. All of Scion's power in my hands, to direct where I wanted. The entire world would turn my way, a billion people praying that I was the perfect solution to all their problems. The conviction of a multitude focused on that one hope - an end to the Endbringers.

Would there be anything left of me under that kind of pressure? Or would I be some mindless zombie hero, solving menial problems at the whim of every random person on earth? The thought lingered, a terrifying, sickening thing in the back of my mind - because I wasn't sure if it wouldn't be worth it. For the sake of the world. If it saved everyone, what was my life worth?

Oh, Jesus Christ, I sincerely hoped I hadn't just figured out Scion's deal.

Fucking hell.

Amalgam

I imagined power copying and freaked myself out

Gonna stay away from that for now thanks

Could do something vaguely similar

What do you think of a tinker that affects powers?

Power imitation or augment

Tinker/trump would explain everything

Not as immediately scary right?

Tattletale

Uh girl

You should think that through

Power copying with prereqs is still power copying

And now you can do it for other people

Too OP pls nerf

seriously though you are pushing things

power + more power = even more OP

Would get every gang on your head + prt + worse

I sighed. She was probably right. Power copying was pretty bullshit any way you slice it, and Tinker powers were also known to be pretty effective, so any combination was bound to be powerful too. Maybe I was being too greedy here, too presumptuous, trying to swing for something so strong. It'd be nice, though, to be powerful enough not to worry about mundane things. To have the freedom to focus on whatever the hell I wanted to do. To be Alexandria, untouchable by the world. I'd already screwed myself up with my own power, so why couldn't things go my way for once?

Amalgam

Do you have better ideas?

Tinkers ramp up, so I could start simple

Build up over time like most do

You call me OP all the time with my actual power

So I'm only lying about specifics here

Tattletale

I know damn it

You're super unfair

You just have to consider that tinkers are picked up early

Too vulnerable without prep and resources

You'll need some kind of support

Trumps are rare and usually powerful, makes it worse

Add protectorate interest if you're any good at either

You are already in e88 cross-hairs anyway, so already in deep shit

Sorry

Amalgam

Well, that's comforting.

Tattletale

I know right

Let's face it

If you go for this you need allies

Doesn't matter PRT indie heroes or mercs or villains

Doesn't have to be us

But someone

Trust me on that at least

I mused over Lisa's messages, wondering about my lack of fear at the prospect of facing the gangs, even by my lonesome. I knew I would've felt scared before all this started. I'd been terrified in that basement, never mind before I got my powers. Right now, though, those criminal elements seemed like just another annoyance to deal with, another complication to account for. Online, a fair amount of people thought I was a relatively experienced cape, while some other people believed I was a gang member myself. Either one of those beliefs could explain the ice in my veins. It was an unnerving thought, but results were results. Panic wasn't going to help anyone.

For a moment I had the impulse to ignore all the pesky doubts that plagued my mind, to go with the flow, to see where events would take me. The urge left as soon as it came, and I wondered what the old me would have thought about it. She would have been caught up in her fear, I figured. She would have been careful, perhaps to the point of paralysis. But I'd spent weeks stuck in that vicious cycle with Emma and the others, so I knew staying in one place was hardly a good way to approach this kind of situation. I fetched my notebook, jotting down a few quick things about my state of mind - I felt different, which seemed significant. Lisa would want to know about that.

I knew my confidence was power-induced, but I couldn't resent its presence. It was something I'd lacked for so long that I'd forgotten what it felt like, and it got me out of the door, got me on my feet. I'd been given power, and I'd been granted the agency to use it. In a way, hadn't I'd gotten everything I'd ever wished for?

Be careful what you wish for, I suppose.

...Now there was a thought.

I opened up PHO, browsing to a section I'd once enjoyed, though I hadn't visited it in years. Squirreled away in Off-Topic Discussions, frequented by a lot of trolls and other unseemly denizens of the internet, there was the Wishlist. Corny and frequently filled with bad memes, it had somehow avoided the banhammer.

Welcome to the Wishlist, Amalgam! If you could have any parahuman power, what would it be, and why? Be creative!

Time to put some effort in.

Tonight I'd do research, and figure out my options. Tomorrow I'd fetch Alec and figure out what the hell had changed with my aura. After that… after that I'd make a decision about my future, and follow through with it. Maybe I'd settle on a power, or join the Undersiders, or call the PRT. Something. Maybe I'd even consider Charlotte's suggestions, even if they sounded completely weird to me. I'd already followed a bunch of supervillains into their spooky underground lair, twice, so calling a helpline or having a weird incognito conversation with a therapist seemed like rather minor leaps of faith at this point.

I tried to ignore the queasy feeling in my stomach, and the feeling that maybe it was high time indulge in all those panic attacks I'd been ruthlessly suppressing with all the self-control of someone under the influence of their own semi-benevolent mind-control powers. No. I refused. Deep breaths. Eyes forward. This was my power, my screwed-up head, my screwed-up life. I owned it. I didn't really care if it was my power that gave me such conviction - just that I had it now. I'd put it to good use.

Spark of green and black suddenly flickered between my fingers, and I smiled.


Adler: Are you ever gonna give me my answer?

Unknown Number: Sure.

Unknown Number: I found your bitch.