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Machinations - 15. Arc 2, Chapter 5

Once they were safely in the car and at their first red light, Eric turned to Coral. “This whole thing wasn’t you, was it?”

Coral frowned. “The bodyswap? No, I’d never do anything like that without telling you.”

Really?” Eric asked. “You wouldn’t hide it?”

Okay, I’d hide it if it was funny. But it wasn’t funny.” Eric had to agree on that. “Was it you?”

Eric shook his head. “Honestly, it seemed more like you. I mean, you figured it out pretty quickly and Overlord seems a little… you.”

Brilliant and confident?”

Trollish.”

Yeah, fair enough.” Coral didn’t say anything more, at least not until the light turned green and they started off again. “So, what now?” they asked.

Eric glanced over. “You mean the whole supervillain thing?”

I mean you and Nathan,” Coral said, folding their arms. “Seriously, this will-they, won’t-they has gone on long enough. If you were a TV show, I would’ve canceled you.”

It’s only been a couple weeks.”

Closer to a month. And a half.”

And shows have run on this for years.”

Coral groaned. “Please, not years. Seriously, what happened to you breaking up with him? And that was even before he gave away our fake powers.”

But… Eric sighed. “I just don’t want to break up with him.”

Then make up with him! Do something! You’re miserable, he’s miserable, and it’s making me and Raph miserable!” Coral was waving their arms a little too enthusiastically for the car’s confines.

I’d be more miserable if I broke up with him,” Eric pointed out.

Yeah, but that’s healing-miserable, not active-miserable. You know, like having a thorn in your foot versus taking it out. Both hurt, but one lets your foot heal. What you’re doing is digging it in deeper and then complaining that it hasn’t miraculously disappeared.”

The light ahead turned red and Eric stopped. This wasn’t worth an argument. “Fine. I’ll talk to him next time I see him. Assuming it isn’t in public or an emergency or something. Like, you know, us going up against that mysterious newcomer.”

Hmm.” Coral looked out the window, as if they expected to see a new supervillain charging down the street. “That’s going to be a problem.”

That was distracting them. Good. Maybe he could push it further. “Seriously, they’re coming to our city, messing with our heroes. Who do they think they are?”

Coral snorted. “Someone successful enough to hire a supervillain to make tech for them?”

True,” Eric said. “Which sounds like they have the backing of someone who’s pretty rich. Or they’re pretty rich themselves. Either way, sounds like one of our targets.”

Also true,” Coral said. “Only question is, do we take them down as Echo and Couronne, or as Scanner and Smokescreen?”

Eric thought about it. “Well, Echo and Couronne have a lot more firepower.”

Yeah. Problem is, if the newcomer shows up, Scanner and Smokescreen get called.”

Eric nodded. “Guess it depends on who’s available.”

Also, Scanner and Smokescreen get paid to take down supervillains.”

I don’t think that’s a big issue.”

Yeah, maybe.” Another few moments passed. “Speaking of Echo and Couronne, what are we going to do while all the heroes are out of commission?”

Eric sucked in a breath. “Well, it’d be a lot easier to get things done if the heroes are grounded.”

Yeah, but if everyone else is grounded, who do you think they’ll send? If they try to send us in against ourselves, that’ll be a problem.”

Angelica said we wouldn’t have to.”

I don’t trust her not to if she’s desperate.”

Okay, then,” Eric said. “So we table everything until they get back up?”

The more obvious stuff, at least,” Coral said. “Honestly, I think the whole bank robbery thing isn’t working. We go in, we cause some panic, the police come in, and then business continues as usual. Everyone who’d be driven away by the constant robberies is already gone.”

So we need to find a new strategy,” Eric said. “Something that’ll cause more of a disruption to their work.” He thought about it for a moment. “You know, I think I have an idea.”

***

It had been almost a full day in Grapple’s body. So far, things had been going horribly for Nathan. First, not too long after he’d gotten back on duty, he’d been taken back off. He’d tried to argue about the decision.

Come on,” he’d said to Angelica. “My power is having a suit of armor. I can still use the armor while I’m out there. Grapple fits almost as well as I do.”

Right,” Angelica said, “and how’s the battery life on your suit?”

As Angelica knew perfectly well, the suit had very little backup power. Most of the systems depended on him actively pushing power into the suit. It was built for flight, after all, and he was the only energy source that could power the flight systems and would fit in the suit. Maybe a cold fusion generator could have done the same, but then he’d have to carry around hydrogen and he didn’t feel like becoming the next Hindenburg.

So, as a result, the suit wasn’t designed to carry someone who couldn’t power the suit like he could. Sure, he could run around in it for an hour or so if he didn’t use any of the combat systems, but the entire point was that he was supposed to be combat-ready. Therefore, even though it was extremely annoying that she was right, she was right.

The other major problem was that his body was wrong in a very irritating way. Fortunately, he knew an expert who could help. Well, not an expert, exactly, but someone who knew about the problem and could be bribed with cake.

Hey,” Nathan said as he walked into Hermes’s hospital room, Iris behind him. Iris had to walk in sideways, since she still had Angelica’s wings. “How are you?” he asked once Iris was fully inside.

Hey…” Hermes glanced down at his shirt. “Nathan, right?”

Yeah.” He felt a twinge of annoyance that people couldn’t recognize him anymore. “So I take it you’ve heard about what happened?”

Yep,” Hermes said. “Really glad I wasn’t there. I just finished getting my chest right. Don’t need to be thrown back.”

You could’ve been put into my body, or Scope’s.”

Eh.” Hermes shrugged, and then winced in pain. “Ow.”

You all right?” Nathan asked.

Yeah. Not supposed to move my arms. You don’t really appreciate how much your chest controls until it’s taken away.” Hermes sat back.

But it looks better now, right?” Nathan asked.

Ugh.” Hermes looked down at his chest. “It looks awful! The whole thing’s a big bruise. Like I lost two rounds with a chest monster. And my nipples look like pepperoni! Seriously, you could put them on pizza and accidentally eat them!”

Thanks for the mental image,” Iris said. “I hate it.” She settled into the chair by Hermes’s bed, draping the wings over the back.

Um, are you sure everything went all right?” Nathan asked cautiously.

Yeah. This is apparently normal and it’ll heal. Still looks gross. Wanna see?”

I think I’ll pass,” Nathan said.

And you’re supposed to keep the binder on,” Iris said.

Oh, fine,” Hermes said. “But it doesn’t matter. I’m happy now.” He took on a solemn tone. “The teet have been yeet.”

The what?” Nathan asked.

You know. I’ve said ta ta to the tatas.”

Stop,” Iris said, rubbing her forehead.

The pillows have been thrown.”

Stop.”

So long, thanks for the mammaries.”

Oh my god, stop.”

If they tits, they quits.”

I’m leaving and I’m not bringing you cake.”

It’s the big boob-bye.”

They weren’t that big.”

Hermes glared at Iris and then pointed at Iris. “Dad! She’s bullying me!”

Settle down, children,” Nathan said, even though he was only a few years older than either of them. Then again, Grapple was at least ten years older than he was… which still made her too young to be a parent to either of them. And her age didn’t count, anyway. Speaking of her… “So I wanted to ask you something. How do you deal with, you know, having a more feminine body when you’re a man?”

Surgery, obviously,” Hermes said. “But I can give you a few tips. I mean, it’s the least I can do after how much you’ve helped us get settled in.” That was a little surprising. Nathan had expected at least some attempts at bribery. Hermes picked up a white remote and pressed a button, which lifted the head of his bed so he was sitting up. “Are the breasts bothering you?”

That’s the biggest issue,” Nathan said, looking down.

You’ll want a binder, then. Hey, Iris? Could you get my binder from my room?”

I don’t know if I should, after all those terrible puns,” Iris said.

Come on. It’s for Nathan, not me!”

Iris looked Nathan up and down. “Okay, fine. Be back in a second,” Iris said, getting up, sidling through the door, and jogging out. A moment later, she peeked her head back in. “Okay, I’ll be back in a while. Forgot I can’t speed. And also, I have airbrakes on my back.” She left again.

All right, then,” Hermes said. “I don’t need mine anymore, so you can borrow it. I was planning to donate it, so it’s freshly washed.”

Thanks,” Nathan said. “Hopefully, I won’t need it for long.”

Wait until you put it on to thank me. Now, is there anything else that’s bothering you?”

Well, the… how do I put this? The lack of something between my legs. And, this is kinda weird, but I smell really weird. I smell like girl, I guess.”

Ooh, yeah,” Hermes said with a nod. “That’s a hormone thing. Not much you can do about the smell unless you want to go on T, and I don’t think you’d even be allowed to. Not without living as a man for a few months.”

Yeah. And Grapple would kill me. Followed by Angelica.”

Right. Maybe get yourself some man-branded smells to cover it up. For the other thing, maybe a packer would help. Try a couple balled-up socks to see how it works for you. I would loan you mine, but that’s a little more personal. Also, I’m still using it. And it’s meltable. Ask me how I know.”

Yeah, I think I’ll try the other thing.” Nathan nodded. “Thanks.”

Oh, and you might want to shave.”

Nathan felt his face. Well, Grapple’s face. There was nothing there, which was rather annoying. Maybe a few stiff hairs, but that was it. “Shave what?”

Well, you don’t need to, but it’ll make you feel more like a man, I guess? Never worked for me, but some guys swear by it. And I figure you’re used to it, so maybe it’ll work better for you.”

He had been a little discomforted when he’d been in the bathroom that morning. Maybe part of it had been skipping that part of his routine, since he always shaved in the morning. Of course, everything else had been just as uncomfortable, starting with seeing Grapple’s face in the mirror instead of his own. “I might just do that. Thanks.”

Oh, and then you could get an STP.”

Nathan frowned. “STD?”

STP. Stand To Pee. It lets you pee standing up. Pretty cheap, too.”

He considered it for a moment, but discarded the idea. Unlike the binder, it didn’t sound like something he could donate after he was done with it. “I’ll think about it. Anything else?”

Hermes paused for a moment and then shrugged. “I think that’s it. Basically, find things that make you feel manly and use them to fight off the dysphoria. Or whatever it is you’re feeling.” He shrugged.

All Nathan knew about dysphoria was that it was a trans thing. “Do I count as trans?” he asked.

I… do not actually know,” Hermes said, looking thoughtful. “Technically speaking, the definition is that your gender doesn’t fit the one that was assigned to you at birth. But you’re a man and were assigned one. Grapple’s body is assigned female, but you’re not her.” He held his hands out in a shrug-like manner. “I mean, I know some people say being trans is like being a man in a woman’s body or whatever, but it’s not exactly that. I mean, that makes it sound like I’m stuck in someone else’s body. Like you are now. I’m not. This is my own body, even when it looks like a woman. You, right now, are a man in a woman’s body, but it’s not your own body, so… I don’t know.”

Nathan thought it over. “So… the answer is yes, but no?”

Pretty much, yeah.” Hermes picked up a cup and took a sip with a very long straw. “You know, before the surgery, I asked if Scope could heal me up afterwards, but they said no. Well, they said that ‘it wasn’t an eligible surgery for healing’. You have any idea why?”

That was something Scope had mentioned before. “Yeah. Basically, his power doesn’t distinguish between missing body parts and deliberately-removed body parts. One time, he accidentally healed back a baby’s foreskin. The parents weren’t happy about that.”

Whoa,” Hermes said. “So, wait, if he can heal foreskins…” Even though Nathan wasn’t even in that body, Hermes’s eyes were going downward.

Before you ask, it only works on recent stuff. After a while, the body sort of accepts the new status quo and Scope can’t heal it.” He really hoped Hermes didn’t ask any more questions. “So if he tried to heal you right now, he might end up regrowing your breasts.” Nathan shrugged.

Guess that means it’s the long way to recovery, then,” Hermes said.

There was a knock on the door. Iris was back, holding some cloth. “Got it,” she said, panting. “Angelica really needs to exercise more.”

You’d think she could just shapeshift bigger muscles,” Hermes said.

Oh,” Iris said. “Maybe I should do that. Except I don’t know how.”

Well, that’s what the training this afternoon is for,” Nathan said with a shrug. “Maybe you’ll be able to shapeshift back to your own body.”

That would make things easier,” Iris said.

Anyway, go try on the binder,” Hermes said. “See how well it works.”

Will do.” He headed out of the room to find the restrooms. As he got there, though, he stared at the signs. He was a man. That meant he was supposed to use the men’s room. Problem was, he was in a woman’s body. It would look weird if he was in the men’s room, and people might get hostile if they thought he was a trans woman. Should he use the women’s room? It might save him a lot of trouble. But he didn’t particularly want to. He went back to Hermes’s room. “Guys? Which bathroom do I use?”

The twins looked at each other and shrugged. “Women’s room has more stalls,” Iris said. “And you need a stall so you’d be less inconvenient. And it’s not like you’ll see anything anyway.”

Yeah,” Nathan said, “but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with that.”

Then use the men’s room,” Hermes said. “If anyone asks, tell them you didn’t read the sign and you were so focused on the stall that you didn’t notice the urinals.”

Have you done that before?” Nathan asked.

Oh, yeah. Lots of times before the hormones worked their magic. Also, you’re in the Corps building and everyone knows that trans people exist here.”

That was true. Men’s room it was, then. He went back to the men’s room and locked himself in the stall. Holding up the binder – purple with Hermes’s emblem, a black helmet, on it – he looked it over. Now, was this supposed to go on over the bra? Under the bra? In place of the bra? He decided just to put it on over in case he needed to give it back. It took a bit of doing to put it on, and then a bit of adjustment, but when he did…

Well, his chest wasn’t perfectly flat, but it was down enough that it could be mistaken for developed pecs. That was so much better than what he’d been dealing with. He looked up at head height. No boobs in sight. This was perfect!

And then he tried to breathe. It wasn’t as bad as Hermes had made it sound, but he still had to focus on deep, shallow breaths. This wasn’t going to be running-friendly. Maybe Grapple had some sports bras that would work? She’d already – reluctantly – given him a bunch of her bras for use. Maybe she’d already given him a sports bra and he just didn’t know the difference. He’d have to ask her about that.

When he emerged from the stall, a man in a janitor’s uniform was there using the urinal. He froze and so did the other man. “Uh, didn’t see the sign. Sorry.” Nathan hurried over to the sinks, washed his hands as fast as he could, and left without giving the man a second look.

Back in the room, he had to stop and take a few deep breaths. “Works pretty well,” Nathan said.

Could be flatter,” Hermes said, eyeing Nathan’s chest.

Don’t listen to him. He didn’t think he passed unless he was concave,” Iris said.

Did not!”

Well, I’m happy with it,” Nathan said quickly. He didn’t want to get caught in another bout of bickering. Was this how siblings usually worked? “Thanks for all your help.”

“Oh, wait,” Hermes said. “Only wear it for about eight hours a day. Twelve at the most. And take one day off a week. Otherwise, you’ll ruin Grapple’s breasts and she’ll kill you.”

“Hopefully, I won’t be here that long,” Nathan said. He checked his watch. It was about 11 AM, so he would be okay to bind until 7 PM. That was more than long enough to get through the special training session. Speaking of which… “We should probably head back for lunch,” he said to Iris. “Hey, one last thing. Is there anything that might help Grapple?”

Hermes shrugged. “Never paid that much attention to that side of things.”

“And I guess Angelica won’t be that much help,” Iris said. “I mean, her approach to transition was probably just ‘schwoop, done!’”

“Lucky her,” Hermes said, adjusting his bandages.

“All right, that was definitely the last thing, so I will go now.” He walked backwards towards the door. “Bye. And thanks again.”

“Go away, you’re thanking me too much!” Hermes said with a grin.

“I’ll bring cake when you’re cleared for it!” Nathan called from around the doorframe.

“Thanks but unnecessary!” Hermes called back.

Despite the breathing issues, Nathan felt so much better. Once Iris got out of the door, he was able to walk confidently down the hallway. Not quite as confidently as if he had his own body back, but it was better than nothing.

***

Angelica was the first one in the training room, naturally. She’d deliberately arrived early in order to get everything set up. Grapple’s power involved ropes and strength, so she needed props. Part of Rainbright’s training had involved sealing objects up in a bubble. Iris’s power would be less of a problem if there was a designated space to run around in. Probably best to have some objects stacked up so Enmachina’s suit could blast things.

She was nearly done when she heard a “Hey, Angie!” from the doorway. It was Raph’s voice, but way too chipper to be Raph. Right, that was Grapple.

“Hello,” Angelica said. “Ready for the training?”

“Don’t really know what I can do,” Grapple said, looking down at her hands. “I mean, Scope’s power is supposed to heal people. What do I do with that?”

“I’m sure someone will manage to injure themselves or someone else,” Angelica said. “Either way, I don’t think you necessarily need to work very hard. Scope’s power is apparently very user-friendly. Unlike some other powers I could name.” She’d managed to create one object with Rainbright’s power, but doing more than one at a time was tricky. And for some reason, they turned out white instead of red unless she specifically made it turn red. Was that supposed to happen?

“Maybe Scanner would be helpful,” Grapple said. “I mean, they pretty much refused to give Rainbright any details. And they never finished analyzing Iris.”

“I’ll have to ask them about that next time they’re here,” Angelica lied. There was something about them that bothered her. How had they figured out what happened so quickly? And that was before she took the nursing-home situation into account. She’d need to decide if they were trustworthy.

For right now, though, it was very nice to be here with Grapple. Given that Grapple was the next in the chain of command, and the hero with the next-longest run in the industry, she was the one Angelica could rely on. Enmachina was next after that, but he had five years less experience than Grapple did. Sometimes he didn’t have the right perspective on things. If Grapple left, would Enmachina step up, or would they be left with a gap?

“I hope this doesn’t change your mind about staying,” Angelica said.

“Well, I’ve never heard of civilians getting bodyswapped,” Grapple said, leaning back against the wall. “Only heroes and villains.”

“I’ve never heard of civilians kicking as much ass as you do,” Angelica said.

Grapple grinned. “You got a point there. I mean-- What did you do to my body?!

Angelica glanced over at the door. Nathan was there, in Grapple’s body. It looked mostly the same, except the chest was noticeably smaller and more masculine. Kind of like Hermes, when he was wearing a binder. It made perfect sense that he’d choose to bind Grapple’s breasts, since that couldn’t be comfortable for him, but…

But where did the boobs go?

“Sorry,” Nathan said. “I talked to Hermes and he gave me his old binder. It’s not permanent.”

Grapple sighed. “Fine. Just don’t squish my breasts into oblivion.”

“If I could do that, trans guys would be a lot happier,” Nathan said. “So, should we get started?”

Grapple glanced over at Angelica, who nodded. “Go ahead,” she said. She could see Rainbright and Iris coming in, or at least trying to. Nathan was blocking the door. “Rainbright, I need to speak with you for a moment.”

The two of them went off into a corner while Grapple and Nathan went over to the punching bag. “So,” Angelica said, “I called your school and… well, I didn’t explain, but I told them that there was an emergency situation. One of your teachers has refused to let you call in sick.” She didn’t try to disguise her annoyance at that.

“Let me guess,” Rainbright said. “Mr. Henderson?”

“Exactly,” Angelica said. Ordinarily, she wouldn’t offer to do this, but if Rainbright lost her scholarship solely due to superhero-related shenanigans, that would be more of a problem than just fixing it now. “Do I have your permission to attend classes in your place?”

“I don’t…” Rainbright stopped and a gleeful expression crossed her face. “You know what? I think that’s an excellent idea!”

This was going to be a problem, wasn’t it? “You’ll still have to do the work yourself. I’m only going to show up to class.”

“Oh, that’s fine,” Rainbright said with a gleaming smile. “Thank you so much for helping me!”

This was definitely going to be a problem. But she’d already made the offer and so she’d have to follow through on it. Otherwise, Rainbright would lose trust in her. “Well. Now, are you ready to begin training? Iris looks bored.”

Iris was indeed standing in the middle of the room, watching Nathan throw punches at the punching bag. Rainbright looked over and nodded. “Sure. So, which power will we work on first?”

“I think my power,” Angelica said, walking over. “It can’t be easy for Iris to get around with my wings. Even I don’t sleep in them.”

“That must be why she’s so grouchy today,” Rainbright whispered.

They worked on the shapeshifting powers for a while. Unfortunately, they didn’t make much progress. “I just don’t get it,” Iris said.

“I don’t know how I can explain this,” Angelica said, rubbing her forehead. “I picture the form I want to create. I feel it. And then I push my body and it creates that shape.”

Maybe think about your own body,” Rainbright suggested. “I mean, you’ve spent over twenty years in it. It’s gotta be familiar to you.”

Iris sighed, closed her eyes, and then screwed up her face. After a few minutes, she shook her head. “No, it’s not working.”

“Well, why don’t we take a break and work on someone else’s?” Angelica suggested. “Rainbright, you’re up next.”

Rainbright ran around the track that Angelica had prepared. Unfortunately, there was no sign of super-speed. “How does it work for you?” Rainbright asked, panting and getting a drink of water.

“I don’t really know,” Iris said. “It just… does. When I’m running, it just automatically kicks in and does it.”

“What if we just… can’t use each other’s powers?” Rainbright asked.

Angelica glanced over at the other side of the room. Nathan and Raph were happily taking turns punching the punching bag while Grapple cheered them on. “I’d say it’s possible,” she said.

“Well, then you do it!” Rainbright snapped.

“All right, then,” Angelica said. She held up her hand and created a white bubble around it.

“Wait, how’d you make it white?” Rainbright asked, examining the bubble.

Not quite sure,” Angelica admitted. “Still, I can at least use it.” At that moment, Angelica’s ringtone went off.

“Wow, how generic,” Rainbright said.

Angelica didn’t dignify that with a comment. “I’ll be back.” She hurried outside and looked at the ID. It was Nessa. She quickly answered it. “Hello. Progress report?”

“Hello Nessa,” came the voice on the other side. “How are you doing? Are you comfortable in a worn-out drafty abandoned warehouse that wasn’t designed for wheelchairs?”

Wonderful. She was doing this again. “I’m sorry,” Angelica said the moment Nessa stopped. “I’ve been dealing with the newer members and they’ve made zero progress. How are you?”

“Fine,” Nessa said, though her voice was clipped. “I haven’t made any progress on reversing the swap. However, I do have some important information.”

“Do you want me to tell them, or do you want to tell them yourself? They’re all in one place, so I can round them up quickly.”

“I can tell them,” Nessa said.

Great,” Angelica said. Whatever it was, it sounded like bad news. “I’ll be just a minute.” She went back into the room. “We have some information!” she called. All of them hurried over, though Nathan took a moment to stabilize the punching bag first.

“What is it?” Rainbright asked.

In response, Angelica put the phone on speaker. “Go ahead, Nessa,” she said.

Can everyone hear me?” Nessa asked. The team huddled together and made general noises of affirmation. “Good. I’ve found some information on what exactly the device is doing. Basically, it’s created a link between your bodies. As far as I can tell, you’re mostly using your original brain, but the link is feeding everything from someone else’s body instead. Senses, commands, powers – they’re all getting filtered in from the other body. But this creates some problems. For one thing, we can’t use pre-existing methods of bodyswapping to get you back, since it won’t break the connection. And another…” Nessa cleared her throat. “If one of you dies, then it’ll likely shut down your brain along with it. If that happens, then whoever’s in your body when you die will also die along with you. If that happens, then the third party will be affected as well.”

There was silence for a moment. “So,” Angelica said, “if one of us dies, then all three will.”

“Exactly.” Nessa’s bad mood made even more sense now. Her son might get killed if someone else died. “And I believe you said that someone’s coming to town.”

“Assuming Overlord wasn’t lying,” Angelica said.

Right,” Nessa said. “Personally, I think you should take a break until this is all over. Two lucky shots and you have a total party kill.”

“We’ll take that under consideration,” Angelica said. “Thank you for telling us. Is there anything else?”

Only that other things might be carried over, too. If someone uses powers on your powers or the body you’re in, then it might affect the rest of your trio as well.”

“Thank you for the information,” Angelica said. “We need to discuss this now. Good luck on your work, and I’ll send some things over to make it more comfortable for you.” She wasn’t entirely sure what that would be, but she’d think of something. “Bye.”

“Bye,” Nessa said, and then there was only the sound of the tone. Angelica shut off the phone and tucked it away.

So what does this mean?” Rainbright asked. “Do we stop fighting bad guys until the swap is… unswapped?”

Angelica looked over the team. All of them were concerned. “I think I’ll leave that up to you,” she said. “Your lives are on the line.”

Nathan was the first to speak up. “If people are dying and getting hurt, then I’m willing to take that risk. But only if all three of us are.”

“I agree,” Raph said quietly.

“Same,” said Grapple. “The three of us are strong enough that we can manage in a fight. And if we can get Scope’s powers working, then we’ll have a much better chance.”

“Excellent,” Angelica said, giving them a warm smile. “And you?” she asked, turning to Rainbright and Iris. “There’s no shame in refusing.”

“I’ll do it!” Rainbright said. “Like Enmachina said, if people are getting hurt, it’s our duty to stop that from happening. We all knew that it was a risk when we signed up.”

“Right,” Iris said quietly. She didn’t sound thrilled about it, but Iris wasn’t very forthcoming with her opinions, especially when she was a minority opinion. Angelica would have to talk to her alone to get her real feelings on the matter.

“Then we’re all decided,” Angelica said. “For the moment, if something isn’t immediate and life-threatening, then we’ll send out Scanner and Smokescreen. They should be competent enough to handle any minor threats and they won’t reveal that we’ve lost control of our powers. Otherwise… well, we’ll take it on a case-by-case basis. Now, why don’t we all take a break?” They probably needed one after hearing such serious news.

The team nodded and dispersed. Angelica sighed. Only half the team was even able to access their powers, sending one person out put others in danger, and their hopes rested on reluctant and inexperienced part-timers. This was a disaster.

Sorry for missing last week.

So I've been feeling pretty burnt out for a while. I think updating once a week is too much for me: I can usually only do about one chapter of any type of writing a week, and sometimes not even that. There are other writing projects I want to work on as well. I also feel like this arc isn't as good as I thought it would be and I want some time to figure out what to do with it.

Rather than completely dropping this story or putting it on hiatus, I'm going to cut back to one chapter a month for now. That'll give me more time to work on everything and hopefully produce better stuff. Next chapter will be posted in February.

Copyright © 2021 Flamboyant Chatoyant; All Rights Reserved.

Thank you for reading!

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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