A/N: I own nothing of Worm, Ward, or any other work that may be alluded to herein, I only own on the pages of this tale that totally taken from within the winding ways of my mind, and such progeny are mine in full and completely. Enjoy.

A/N: thank you to the reviewer who informed me of the issue with the last post.

It was strange. I had been surrounded by putrid used pads and tampons for hours, my eyes squeezed shut and trying not to breathe, just wanting to be gone from it all. I think I blacked out at some point, but when I came to, I realised I couldn't smell anything anymore, the feeling of the locker and the air around me had changed as well. I opened my eyes to find out what was going on, had someone actually taken me out of that hell? Everything was dark, a sort of greyish, not the dark of my locker... more like a basement at night. The more I looked the more I could see that I was still in the locker.

I tried to curl back further against the door they'd locked behind me after pushing me in here, and found myself feeling it almost give behind me, I pushed and suddenly was just... through it, like it wasn't even there anymore.

I looked around in confusion, and the world around me appeared to be made of smoke and shadow, like the walls and floor and people moving around me were just clouds. I stood up, still shaking from the locker, and wondered what they hell was going on. And that's when it clicked, I'd done this. I'd turned the world to nothing but shadowy smoke, and at that realisation I felt horror creep through me again. I found out I had powers just as I destroyed the world. It was just fitting for my luck, I guess. A laugh bubbled up inside me, followed closely by a sob. Way to go Taylor, even the Endbringers couldn't destroy the world with their powers, and you did it your first go! Fucking fantastic.

I wandered through the darkness, though it wasn't so much dark as shadowy, not enough to impede my vision any substantial amount, and I went to the bathroom I'd taken to hiding in just before the break for some comfort. I avoided touching any of the smoky figures that looked vaguely like the other students, though one ended up passing through me anyway. Or did I pass through them? Either way, they seemed unaffected by it. I found the door to the bathroom wouldn't open to my touch, so I passed right through it into the bathroom. I was getting a sense of what I'd made of the world, it seemed like I could treat the smoke-like objects of this new world as if they were solid, but if I wanted to or it was inconvenient, then I could pass right through them. I couldn't actually move anything either. I sat down on the toilet in my go-to stall and started to cry as the horror of the locker and what I'd done to the world, to everyone, set in. All I wanted in that moment was for everything to go back to normal, for this all to stop.

At that moment I noticed the sounds around me take on a more... real quality than the muffled distortion they'd had ever since I'd got out of the locker. I looked up from where I'd buried my head in my arms to see the world around me was no longer the mass of gloomy fog that it had been a moment ago. The relief almost making me faint, I steadied my breath and stood up. I walked over to the sink and washed my face to get the puke crusted there cleaned off, noticing in passing that while my clothes and bag had come with me into that... other place, none of the disgusting stuff from the locker had, except the aforementioned puke from when I'd opened it in the first place. With a jolt I realised in horror that either I would have to climb back into the locker to be gotten out, or else everyone would be able to figure out that I had caused what just happened, that I was a cape. I almost broke down again right then and there.

After some serious deliberation I made up my mind, I would get back in that locker, I would put up with that hell, and then I would make the Trio pay. It would suck, it would be disgusting, but I could get out again, so I would just have to bear with it. I could undo what my power did, apparently, and going by the lack of screams, people weren't freaking out, so I might even be able to get my revenge without it being tracked back to me. My mind made up, I tried to re-make that other state of reality, the shadow world as I was starting to think of it.

I realised I couldn't with mounting fear. Had I lost my ability already? Could parahumans lose their powers? I thought back to class, frantically trying to remember if there had been any mention of something like that in the textbook. After a few panicky moments I remembered a mention that experiments in power suppression had been tried in the early nineties, and it had shown that while some powers could be contained or countered, with tinker tech or other external measures, nothing short of unconsciousness could actually suppress a parahuman's abilities, and not even necessarily then. That was talking about Trump type powers, if I was recalling correctly, and their importance to PRT operations. Reassured, I tried again, closing my eyes and reaching for that feeling of quiet that had been all around in the shadow world.

After a tense few moments I realised the world had become muffled again around me. With a sigh of relief I stood up and walked out to the hall. I realised the locker was a floor below, almost this far along the hall there, and decided to experiment a bit. I looked at the floor below me and tried to imagine dropping through it, and then I fell.

The drop was abrupt and terrifying. I fell part way through the floor before realising what was happening and trying to grab the ground around me, at which point it felt like I was being crushed in a vice as the floor seemed to solidify around my torso. I panicked and let myself drop the rest of the way, landing painfully on the floor below.

'Fuck' I thought, that ankle was definitely going to hurt tomorrow, it felt twisted at least. I got up and walked over to my locker down the empty hall, everyone being in class now, and took a deep breath. Could I actually do this?

"No. I can't." I said to myself, startled at how clear my voice was in this shadow world when every other sound was so muffled. I went to a janitorial closet down the hall, under the stairs I'd gone up to get to the bathroom initially. Once I had walked through the wall of it, I tried to return to reality. It was hard, finding the switch inside myself, at first. But when I really reached for the world around me, like I was straining to hear a song playing in the next room but with every part of my body, it clicked and the world flowed back to normal reality around me, detail returning and substance with it. The closet I was in was dark, but not the dark of my shadow world, this darkness actually blinded me as it filled the space. And then I reached for the shadow world, finding it was a very similar feeling of straining before it clicked. And again and again I went to and from the world and the shadow of it. I had a plan and I was starting to think I wasn't changing the world, just... stepping back from it.

Almost an hour and a half later, after the start of classes following lunch, I was standing in the shadow world in my locker, the mounded pads and tampons, rotten and slimy, had been pressed into the shape of my body when Sophia (I just knew it had been Sophia, I knew it) had shoved me in here. I had figured out that if I stood here in my shadow world, the stench and filth couldn't touch me, and if I paid attention, keeping my head stuck out of the locker, I could return just as it was opened. I wasn't powerless, not anymore, I wouldn't stay in a locker full of rotten blood and rotting cotton when I had a world all to myself to wait in.

I was broken from my musings when I saw Mr. Gladly and the principal walking down the hall towards me. At least, I was fairly sure it was them by their silhouettes, since detail didn't exactly come across well when everything was just smoke and shadow. They approached and then stopped outside my locker, I saw the principal look at Mr. Gladly before reaching out to knock on the locker door. Before her hand could reach it I had steeled myself and reached for the world back inside the locker. I returned and the stench hit me like a ton of bricks, making me gag loudly. I heard the knock and started kicking and yelling for help. There was a series of exclamations, muffled by the door, and then I heard someone trying to talk to me through the door while someone else took off down the hall. What felt like years later but was probably only a minute or two, the door was opened and I leapt out and away from the reeking box I'd been "trapped" in. The principal and Mr. Gladly recoiled at the stench of puke and rotten blood that now filled the hall, and stared at me in horror.

"Young lady," the principal started, clearly at a loss, "what is going on here?"

"I was locked in my locker after I puked when I opened it and found it full of that." I answered with a hysterical edge that was only half faked, gesturing to the locker. "I believe it was orchestrated and probably carried out by Emma Barnes, Madison Clements, and Sophia Hess." I had rehearsed this a hundred times or more while I seethed in my shadow world. It was basically the only way I could keep it clearly in my head with that stench rolling over me.

"That's... that is quite the accusation, Taylor." Said Mr. Gladly, swallowing nervously.

"Indeed, we cannot be hasty here. Let's call your parents and get you home. Rest assured, there will be a full investigation." The principal added quickly, I felt the anger that had been holding me together begin to crack. This would be like every time I'd tried to explain what happened to the teachers, nothing would happen.

"They're going to get away with it, aren't they?" I said with mounting despair. 'Fuck that' I thought to myself, 'I'll make them pay somehow, even if the school won't'. And with that thought, I went to the office to wait for my father. On the way, the students who'd stuck their heads out stared at me in disgusted fascination.

A few weeks later, after stewing in self pity and seeing the smug looks of Their faces, I decided to work toward making Brockton Bay a better place, becoming a real hero, rather than waste my time and ability on a petty high school feud. The Trio had kept up their campaign of torment, but it was so much easier to bear now that I had something they couldn't touch, something of mine. My world.

I figured I'd be classified as a Shaker or Breaker of some sort, by what I recalled from class and my research on the PHO, and I'd figured out that I could actually do quite a bit with my power. I tried to take things with me, and it seemed that even large objects could be brought into my shadow world with me, if I wanted, but taking them in took exponentially more effort the larger the object, and bringing them back was the same. I also couldn't move living things into my shadow world, as I'd found out when I was taking a live mouse out of the house in a trap and decided to test the theory: what happened was that the trap and I went to the shadow world, and the mouse dropped to the ground at my now-vanished feet. I then put down the trap by the fence (it was one of the little wire live traps, a cheap one I'd bought for the purpose of maybe testing my limits), and walked away from it before returning to the real world. The trap was nowhere to be seen, I walked over to where I knew it was and felt around on the ground. There was a slight tingling sensation on the edge of my senses when my fingers passed through where the trap was, but I thought I might have imagined that. A week later I figured out that I could actually feel the trap in my shadow world from the real one, and could actually grab it with a bit of effort.

A while after this I figured out that with a bit of twisting my mind, I could reach into or out of the shadow world and interact with objects in the other, but that it was much more exhausting than simply shifting my whole body in or out. 'Still a neat trick, though' I thought to myself as I reached through the light switch and turned it off with my finger tip from the other side of the wall, 'even if it does make me feel like I just ran a marathon uphill'.

I was even able to, carefully, leverage my power to lessen the academic impact of the bullying the Trio inflicted on me. Dad had been outraged that I could name my bullies, that one of them was Emma even, and the school had ultimately done nothing but give assurances and promise to pay for any counselling that was needed due to the traumatic event. I had been doing alright there, the anger was helping me not shut down when I thought about it, and I never felt trapped these days. It was nice. The counsellor they stuck me with was even helpful to practice my lying to. I didn't want to put my dad in danger once I became a full fledged cape, so it was a skill I figured I needed to develop quickly. More so than my preferred strategy of just avoiding things I wanted to keep hidden.

After months of training with my power, and jogging in the mornings, and martial arts class at a community centre that I'd noticed an ad for when I started jogging to try and get in shape, I was finally feeling ready to go out as a cape. I'd gotten a costume together after finding out that I was actually pretty good at sewing. I'd even thought of a name! Well, a few names I was trying to pick between. It was tough since a lot of them were taken already. I'd settled on something simple but memorable as a central idea to work from, and come up with 'Shadow Cat' only to find out it was taken by a villain in the U.K. who turned into some kind of big, clawed Brute in low light. I'd ended up with 'Nightwalker' before rejecting it for obvious reasons, 'Shade' seemed alright, but the slang meaning made it a bit touch and go. 'Walker' was already taken, but 'Vanish' wasn't yet, though I wasn't a fan. Other than 'Shade' I was seriously considering 'Phantom', 'Melino', 'Ghost', and 'Umbra', with the last having the obvious issue of ease of twisting to something perverse. I was actually leaning somewhat towards Melino, since it didn't seem to be taken. I mean, Melinoƫ My costume was a bit rough and ready, but it should be good enough to get the Protectorate to notice me... I hoped. I'd at first rejected the idea of the Wards since if high school was already a nightmare, why would I subject myself to more of my "peers" when I didn't have to? But with getting some ability to ignore the Trio at school and the feeling of camaraderie my martial arts club gave me (though since most of them were in their mid twenties, I wouldn't really describe them as friends by any real stretch, especially since most of them seemed to be laughing at me half the time), I found that the idea was less unpalatable now than it would have been before. As for the costume itself, it was pretty simple, a figure obscuring heavy dark green leather long coat that I'd found in a rummage sale, a wide brimmed fedora that was kicking around the attic, a good sturdy pair of cargo pants, and a good thick shirt that bordered on being a sweater. I finished the look with a grey bandana covering my face, a pair of solid, steel toed work boots, a pair of leather gloves, and a host of pieces of sheet metal I'd taken from the defunct scrap yard near the boat graveyard and attached inside the coat lining, I'd taken to doing treks there when I was testing my range in the shadow world and had discovered it probably covered all of Brockton Bay, if not further.

With my armoured coat, armoured boots, hat, and bandana, with a flashlight in one pocket, the pepper spray my dad gave me when I started running by myself in another, a package of chalk dust for climbers in yet another pocket, and a notepad in a fourth, with a pen of course (it had taken me weeks to get the trick of writing legibly and quickly while wearing the gloves), I felt ready to go and be seen.

I had thought about going to the Protectorate building and asking to speak to a cape about joining the wards, but I wanted to go in there with something behind me, a name to pull, so I had some credibility rather than being some untested newbie. Maybe I was being a bit crazy, but I had been bullied for the last year or so, and even if martial arts classes were helping me get a bit more confidence, I'd not really had too much to start with. I wanted to be able to walk through those doors and say 'this is who I am, here's what I've done' rather than beg them to take me on.

Still, standing there in the costume I'd assembled with my own two hands... I felt powerful. It was the same rush I'd gotten when I realised I had gotten out of the locker. I hadn't been let out, I had gotten out of my own volition. With the warmth of that thought to help me, I turned and walked through the wall of my house and off into the smoke and shadows of Brockton Bay.

A/N: let me know your thoughts, I've more to this already, but we will see when I upload. I'm working a lot lately and getting up before dawn is hard on the writing.