Paste Search Dynamic
A Shard of Chrysalis 2
  1. "Well?" I asked as Coco reappeared next to me not but a moment later. The Chocobo shook her head and I nodded. "Well, good to know they're not following me for any reason." I voiced aloud. With that done I pulled out an apple I had in my inventory and fed it to her as we walked.
  2.  
  3. Parian was a mainstay of the Boardwalk, it wasn't as if she held territory like the other gangs but most people didn't invade on the boardwalk where she was working. She put on shows for kids every so often but at this time of night she'd be running a mascot at one of the businesses that she was contracted to for the week or so.
  4.  
  5. She had a few regular jobs and while I'd never actually seen her before I had read a magazine with her in it a couple months back? She admitted she was a fashion student and a few other details, and that's the kind of information I needed. She made money legitimately and I was in heavy need of a way to make cash. Well, usable cash.
  6.  
  7. I was petting Coco when I finally spotted one of Parian's giant mascots. It was doing the usual thing, dancing around, trying to get attention to whatever building she was in front of to drum up business for whatever reason. At this time of year? Winter clothing of some sort no doubt. And it was a rather snazzy Gorilla at that.
  8.  
  9. So I did the thing I normally did when I found someone that I was looking for. Walk right up and start talking to them. It certainly worked for me. Normally.
  10.  
  11. "Parian?" I called out, easily distinguishable due to the complete lack of a crowd. I glanced around exaggeratedly. "Seems like you're having a wildly busy night." She seemed pretty startled for a second as she glanced around. Not even paying attention huh? She can just set her things to work like that? Multitasking? Oh, she was reading. Huh. Wonder what book.
  12.  
  13. "Excuse me?" She asked after recomposing herself.
  14.  
  15. "Sorry, sorry." I held my hands up in surrender. "Didn't mean to startle you. Saw your little show. Coco was interested." I lied through my teeth with a smile on my lips. "Name's Hydaelyn." I tugged Coco's head down a little to scratch the side of her face. "This feathered monster is Coco."
  16.  
  17. "Kweh~" Coco warbled happily as she trotted up to inspect Parian's large doll. A weird gorilla wearing a sweater of all things.
  18.  
  19. "It's nice to meet you?" She was clearly questioning both me and herself as she turned more towards me. if I didn't know any better, and with the way her head was tilting, I could've sworn she was checking me out.
  20.  
  21. "Same," I said with a smile. "I was actually looking for you to ask a few questions."
  22.  
  23. I image she blinked behind her full mask as I said that. "Oh?"
  24.  
  25. "Mmm. You're one of the more well known capes here in BB, so I was wondering exactly...how do you manage to get your contacts?" I held up one of my hands in slight pause. "I don't mean to undercut you or anything so mundane but I'm in need of funds and I'd prefer to acquire them legally as compared to most capes around here."
  26.  
  27. "I've got a few contracts I'd be willing to help you with in exchange for some favors. You scratch my back, I scratch yours," Parian said slowly. "What kind of work are you interested in?"
  28.  
  29. "Anything that's available honestly." I said with a faint shrug. "I'm fairly good at deliveries or fetch quests as it were. I'm also looking for places to sell some high quality merchandise. I've got some pretty good materials for clothing like I'm wearing, I can make weapons, I can cook...the list goes on."
  30.  
  31. "That's a pretty expansive list for a Cape." Parian remarked while her Gorilla continued its little dance with its sign.
  32.  
  33. "I've got the skills but I need to funds for more." I shrugged again. "I mean, beating up gang members for petty cash is good and all but its not the end all be all of my day." Well, if I was honest with myself, it really was. "I'm like a better, prettier Uber. And on the right side of the law." I smirked cattily, which, yeah, no. That was bad even for me.
  34.  
  35. "Well I don't have anything else lined up for tonight, but I can see what's available with my contacts if you're up for deliveries. I'm mostly in the entertainment business so I don't get much call for other things." I bit back the frown and nodded at that.
  36.  
  37. I reached a hand out, taking hers and giving it a faint shake. "Anything you can do to help would be appreciated. And if you need my help for anything, hit me up on PHO...after tonight. I still need to make a new account. I keep forgetting to do that." I told her ruefully.
  38.  
  39. "I'll keep that in mind." I was sure she was smiling now. "Were you looking to sell anything specifically?"
  40.  
  41. "Well, I'm looking to offload a rather large Aquarium right now." I thought about the one I currently had in my inventory. "I'd say anywhere in the ten thousand dollar range really." She seemed taken a bit aback at the price and I smirked again. "It really is quite large." I looked at her Gorilla for a moment, motioning to him. "Yeah, up to his shoulders in height I'd say."
  42.  
  43. "Probably better luck selling that online than in person here in Brockton." Parian said weakly with a faint laugh.
  44.  
  45. I dropped my head in faux depression and kicked the ground. "Yeah. I had it finished a little to late, by time I was done, my friends had already had one set up and installed so now I've got this huge waste of space and nowhere to put it. I'm not big on fish myself." That got a faint laugh and I looked at Parian with a grin. "Anyway, thanks Parian. Like I said, gimme a holler if you need anything, 'kay?"
  46.  
  47. "Of course. It was nice meeting you Hydaelyn. You can send me a message on PHO with my cape name and I'll get back to you when I can." She looked aside at her Gorilla. "I should get back to work though. Have a good night?"
  48.  
  49. "You too. Come on Coco, let's leave the lady to her work." I tugged her away from staring at the Gorilla as I remounted. "Night, Parian."
  50.  
  51. "See you soon." And with her farewell I took to the sky on Coco and up above the building line. The night was still young, I still had things I could do and I was edging on a little bit of boredom.
  52.  
  53. I'd already dealt with the E88 and the Merchants, let's go bother some ABB!
  54.  
  55. Wait. No. Bad Taylor! You promised Dad.
  56.  
  57. Ugh. Fine.
  58.  
  59. "S'pose I should go home, huh, Coco?" I asked my Chocobo.
  60.  
  61. "Wark~" She warbled.
  62.  
  63. "Yes, yes, if I wanted to talk to someone that actually spoke I could talk to Midgardsormr." I snarked back at the bird cheekily.
  64.  
  65. "Kweh!" She nodded sagely at me.
  66.  
  67. "Fine. Let's go get some more exercise. And if we find someone to beat up, all the better, huh?"
  68.  
  69. With that we flew around the city in the look for fun and profit.
  70.  
  71. =====
  72.  
  73. Turns out, it doesn't always work that way. It was almost eleven when I finally got bored of flying. I figured someone would've attacked me by now but nope, nothing. No PRT out and about, no Capes, no Wards, no gang members. Nothing.
  74.  
  75. Frankly, it was kind of annoying.
  76.  
  77. "Let's get home," I finally said morosely to Coco. "I need to practice some of my moves and sort through some more things. Might as well do it somewhere comfortable."
  78.  
  79. Coco didn't nod but she did fly in the way I directed. I decided I'd might as well take some time, heading down to ground level and making my way via the streets to get lost before I'd dismount Coco, unsummon her, and make my way home without people watching my every move.
  80.  
  81. Of course, that was the initial plan. And nothing stalls out a plan like an idiot.
  82.  
  83. "Hydaelyn!" A voice called out from the empty street just as I turned the corner after dismissing Coco. "I challenge you to a duel!"
  84.  
  85. "What." I what'd. Who the...?
  86.  
  87. I looked around and out stepped a person dressed to the nines in black and white armor. Familiar armor. Armor I definitely didn't expect to see here in Brockton Bay.
  88.  
  89. "And who dares to challenge the great Hydaelyn?" I called forth while pulling my weapon from my back, it flipping open to a seemingly random page.
  90.  
  91. "One known far and wide as the esteemed Uber!" What the flying fuck was this two bit hack doing wearing armor from Eorzea? "And again I challenge you, my dearest Hydaelyn, to a duel. I claim that you are nothing more than a liar and a braggart!"
  92.  
  93. Oh no he did not just...
  94.  
  95. "A liar and a braggart?" I said in a tone that beggared disbelief. "I've been here naught but a day, and you dare besmirch my name?"
  96.  
  97. "It isn't I who's doing the besmirching, but you!" Uber readied his two daggers and took a stance. "The light of Hydaelyn doesn't reach this place and I will not have you sully her name with your lies!"
  98.  
  99. "Dammit, don't call me a liar you jackass!" Oh, I was done playing games with this asshole. "You're about to see just who you're messing with!" I held my book aloft as the purple glow spread from its pages, as if wings sprouting from a small dragon. "Ifrit-Egi! Show this asshole just who exactly he's messing with. Ruinaga!"
  100.  
  101. Uber danced behind one of the parked cars, narrowly being missed by both my spell and Ifrit as my Egi's first attack was a spell. Shit, he was going to be moving from cover to cover until he was up close wasn't he? So, if he was going to be like that?
  102.  
  103. "Painflare!" I called out, targeting the car itself, using it's secondary ability to lance out from my target to all of my enemies. The grunt of agony coming from him was exquisite to my ears so I repeated it. "Painflare!" Though this time he was smart enough to dance backwards from the car, nimbly dodging Ifrit-Egi's attacks. "God-dammit, stay still you cad! Painflare!"
  104.  
  105. "I refuse, you faker. I don't know what kind of Stranger abilities you're using but I will tear them down beat you to an inch of your life!" Uber taunted me from at range and I narrowed my eyes angrily. Why were his taunts working so well? He was riling me up and it was damn well working too.
  106.  
  107. "Fine. You think I'm fake? Well, fake this then!" If spells weren't going to work so well, then lets close in. Uber wanted to fight me with two blades? I'll gladly match him then. And mine were much better. With a flash of blue light I was running towards him, Sandungs Lux glowing with a blue fire over the blackened blade. I leapt into the air, twisting into a Spinning Edge and crashed down with one of my blades onto his overhanded block.
  108.  
  109. He faltered a step and I snarled in his face. "Fuck you, pretty boy." Uber almost lost his footing as I lashed out with another swing of one of my blades but he managed to twist around it and stab out at me just as expertly as I had attacked him. I barely managed to parry in time as he pulled back just enough to twist into his own Spinning Edge right back at me.
  110.  
  111. I countered with a Shadow Fang, using the motion to vault over him at the same time and slam my back into his. With a twist of my feet I went low and underneath his retaliation of a Gust Slash and I responded with a rising Aeolian Edge that managed to nick his mask but nothing else as just jumped back.
  112.  
  113. "I don't know where you learned those moves." I snarled, my tail lashing behind me. "So I'm just going to beat the answers out of you."
  114.  
  115. "I doubt that." Uber scoffed. "I don't know where you got that face but I'm not going down to some fake."
  116.  
  117. "This is my normal face!" I nearly spat in his mask, instead I pulled back just enough to get my hands free. "Chi Jin Hyoton!" The ninjutsu was fast, furious, and deadly cold as Uber was suddenly trapped in ice and bound for just that split second that I needed to get right up behind his guard and press a blade to his armored throat.
  118.  
  119. Uber remained silent for a moment longer, dropping his blades as I pressed against his throat even harder, a little more force and I would easily and gladly draw blood. "...Taylor?" he whispered softly.
  120.  
  121. What?
  122.  
  123. What the fuck?
  124.  
  125. How the hell did he know my name?
  126.  
  127. "Holy fuck, it really is you." His voice was hoarse and now that I was confused instead of just pissed off he was sounding slightly familiar as well. I looked him up and down with a quick glance and pulled back suddenly. "What the fuck?" He repeated my recent thoughts.
  128.  
  129. "Spill it before I spill your blood, Uber. I'm not in the mood for games. And you better not have Leet nearby ready to shoot me or by hell or high-water I will kill you where you stand." I hissed lowly. The Ninja Soul Crystal probably getting to me just the slightest but what could I say? I did not take to being accused a liar very well. The last set of people that accused me of such...
  130.  
  131. Fucking Ilberd.
  132.  
  133. "Shit. Sorry. I thought...I don't know what I was thinking. After seeing videos of you on PHO, and after everything that happened with the Ascians, Ilberd, Shinryu and The Omega I was...yeah. I jumped the gun." I looked at him as I listened, and really looked. My eyes flicked upwards for a single instance and a frown crossed my lips.
  134.  
  135. I couldn't help my rising suspicions, I really also wanted to punch him in the face. I also was wondering just what the hell. "Thancred?"
  136.  
  137. "Who else, my fair Warrior of Light?"
  138.  
  139. Oh for the love of...was this really my life now? Really?
  140.  
  141. **********
  142.  
  143.  
  144.    #351
  145.  
  146. Whilst Taylor has an over abundance of overlapping abilities through means of her various Soul Crystals, there are some that she has access to subconsciously that do not require to be in her 'Changer' Miqo'te form. As of her first instance in Eorzea when she was still a younger teen, she has gained and used those powers to both outwit and subdue her enemies and to evade many fights, even within Winslow without realizing it. The problem is that they're so buried in her psyche that she uses these abilities without even realizing she has them, though this is an underlying problem of anyone with the power of the Echo.
  147.  
  148. A small list with details is hereafter and will be updated accordingly. (Updated to what is colloquially known as the The Far Edge of Fate affair, or Shinryu's Summoning.)
  149.  
  150. MENTAL POWERS:
  151.  
  152.    Spatial Awareness:
  153.  
  154. Unlike normal people with their limited senses, Taylor's acutely aware of a good majority of things going on around her. She has a perfect 360 degree awareness that is adjusted mentally on the fly. She can tab an individual creature to keep track of within a limited area so as to know when to either attack or evade their presence. The one major flaw of this subconscious ability is that it does not work within buildings and is much more useful outside or within an expansive area. Smaller corridors like Winslow High stifle this specific ability, though it seems there's no rhyme or reason for it to work. Windows and thinner doors do not block Taylor's sense of area but it can limit her to what she's seeing inside of a building at the time. She has used this unwittingly to avoid her tormentors, The Trio, and to avoid being blinded by flashes of certain spells while in combat by facing away suddenly.​
  155.  
  156.    Aether Manipulation:
  157.  
  158. Much like other Warriors of Light, Taylor has an innate ability to manipulate the aether in and around her body. With her connection to the Shards of Crystals, and her attuning to the elemental spirits, a sufficiently condensed aetherflow can be manipulated in many different ways by her, up to and including teleportation. Though mainly using her Soul Crystals to aid in this sense of manipulation, she doesn't require those to warp through the Aether to Aetherlytes, and other specific sets of condensed Crystals. Her skill has gained so much so that she can warp to places she considers home if she so desires but often prefers the enjoyment of the trip to her destination instead of reaching it instantly.​
  159.  
  160.    Pre and Post-Cognitive
  161.  
  162. Dubbed by all empowered as The Echo. All chosen by Hydaelyn, the Mother Crystal, have this ability to differing degrees. Taylor being The Warrior of Light, has flashes of Post-Cognitive visions when meeting new people of importance to something she may do, or even upon learning details that leads to information from hundreds, even maybe thousands of years previously. She isn't the only one, but her visions usually last a little longer than most and can come up with several pertinent details that others may not see. Also, like others chosen, especially in the middle of combat, her Pre-Cognitive powers come into play to avoid attacks that could overwhelm or be fatal. To her, it's as if orange paints itself upon the ground in the area of attack that would be afflicted and will willing stop any attack just to preemptively avoid an attack upon her person. All Warriors of Light share this specific ability, though it would seem that not all pay attention to it and is jokingly referred to as 'Death By Ground' by many Adventurers.
  163.  
  164. Due to the nature of the Echo, Taylor also knows the names of people she looks at if she so desires, though mostly keep that specifically ability off due to the fact that it has the odd quirk of floating above the person and in cities that can get extremely annoying very quickly.​
  165.  
  166.    Omniglot:
  167.  
  168. For unknown reasons, all imbued with the power of the Echo are able to understand any spoken language and speak in words that are able to be understood by everyone regardless of who is listening. This ability does also include written languages when it comes to reading. Taylor's writing skills in various languages could use some work however.​
  169.  
  170.    Fortified Mind:
  171.  
  172. Taylor is flat immune to all forms of mind control and mind pollution created through exterior means. She can still get drunk and be poisoned like any other person but a simple spell can easily take care of that if needs must. This means she cannot be possessed by any means either which is why the Ascians have been targeting those around her instead of her personally.​
  173.  
  174.    Aura of Light:
  175.  
  176. A subconscious use of her connection to Hydaelyn, it has kept those empowered by Zodiark from being a threat to areas that she deems 'safe'. Until Midgardsormr tore her connection to shreds she was the reason, unknowingly, that the base of operations in Mor Dhona was safe from retaliation until Nabriales cottoned onto that fact.​
  177.  
  178. Beyond her various powers that is regulated by both her mind and her connection to Hydaelyn, Taylor also has a few extra physical upgrades as well. Mainly stemming from her various Souls and her armor increasing her mental acuity, strength, and speed. She also became a master with various forms of weapons, picking up their usage with ease seen only once in a few generations. A pure natural talent hardened with repeated exposure on the battlefield and fortified with constant training and practice. Hand her a weapon and she'll be able to use it within seconds.
  179.  
  180. Even then this doesn't quite encompass the rest of her abilities and techniques when one takes into consideration the various Soul Crystals she has gained.
  181.  
  182. Her powers continue to grow and expand as time ticks by.
  183.  
  184. **********
  185.  
  186.  
  187.    #358
  188.  
  189. "...Dammit, Thancred, how are you even here?" I punched the taller man in the shoulder after he took me to his current...lair? Hideout? Dammit, one of my best friends was moonlighting as a nerdy villain?
  190.  
  191. "Hey hey, watch it now." Thancred laughed, pulling off his mask, showing his face, looking exactly as I knew it would. Just like he normally did.
  192.  
  193. "You're still wearing that stupid thing over your face." I noted with a shake of my head. "Does it really get you girls? 'Cause I think its stupid."
  194.  
  195. "That's because you have no taste in men." He ribbed me gently. My smile only faltered for half a second before I shook my head. "Hey now, none of that." he continued chidingly. "So. Yeah, now that we're here, welcome to Casa de Uber and Leet. And, what the hell?"
  196.  
  197. "Well. I never did tell anyone did I? You remember when we first met like...I dunno, fifteen or so years ago?" I asked, dropping down into a seat and shifting for my tail.
  198.  
  199. "The festival in Ul'dah, yeah? With the Gobbue. You were a short little shithead back then. But we certainly did some good then, didn't we?" Thancred nodded as he sat at the edge of a rather comfortable looking chair.
  200.  
  201. "Well, time is subjective in a way. It's only been...three years for me? Well, two and a half for me here." I went on. "Back when I was thirteen is when it started."
  202.  
  203. He froze and looked at me with narrowed eyes. "Your Trigger?"
  204.  
  205. "Mm, mom died...And I started dreaming. I was in Eorzea. I was, and am, tall for my age, so, I was thirteen when I met you the first time? I mean, you were seventeen so it isn't that big of a difference." I paused and ignored his faint glare. "I went off, and explored for those intervening years before I found myself meeting Minfillia again. Almost a decade there all said and done before Louisoux sent me forward those five years.. You know I never seemed to need to sleep and I'd spend days in Eorzea, goto bed, then wake up as if not even a day has gone by here." I explained. "Then, today happened and well, I'm like this here now. I mean, I took that potion from Yda...Lyse," I absently corrected myself before he could. "...what? like, almost a year ago? I became a Miqo'te here in Brockton Bay literally today. It's not even been 24 hours."
  206.  
  207. "That's strange. It might be Hydaelyn doing things to you." Thancred surmised.
  208.  
  209. "Well, this morning was...pretty traumatic at first? But then I changed and then, well..." I trailed off, clenching and unclenching a fist, looking down at my bare and painted nails. It wasn't something I'd do as normal every day Taylor but Lyse and Y'shtola got me into it over there. Thancred was silent, watching me, and I just heaved a sigh. "I realized it earlier, but it was if my day to day tormentors were just...beneath me. They aren't worthy of my time."
  210.  
  211. "To steal a quote, and a crude one at that, you wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire."
  212.  
  213. "Come closer so I can smack you, that was horrible Thancred."
  214.  
  215. "I'm a horrible person at times, oh fair catgirl."
  216.  
  217. "You're an irredeemable pervert. I don't know what Y'shtola sees in you."
  218.  
  219. "Rugged looks and manly charm, natch."
  220.  
  221. I couldn't help it but laugh at that one. The two of them were pretty close. How close? Well, that was something everyone was betting on. "Seriously though, Thancred, how're you even...here? I mean, I just saw you a couple of days ago. Last night? This is going to be a headache..." I trailed off with a groan, cradling my head as my ears dropped despairingly.
  222.  
  223. "Well. I've been able to, move back and forth at will for the longest time. I'm not sure...where I was born? Just that here in Brockton Bay and, well at this point, Ul'dah, has always been my home. Don't get me wrong, I mean, Master Louisoux found me in Limsa Lominsa, and at their core, they're a little similar. Both are near and dear to me." He shrugged a little. "I've been friends with Leet for a while, have you watched our broadcast?" Well, that was certainly a non-sequitur.
  224.  
  225. "Yeah, a few times. I didn't keep up to date on it. I heard about a Grand Theft Auto thing though that was...distasteful at best."
  226.  
  227. "I'll get to that later." He hurried. "But, well, there was a time when we took a break from it, right? Lasted a few months? That was when that bastard Ascian had control of me. I was no where to be found because I was stuck in Eorzea."
  228.  
  229. "And then your last break, which most assumed was from the bad video was because you were stuck in the Lifestream for a bit." I surmised. "Now, the video, spill. Why?"
  230.  
  231. "Masochist hooker looking for her two minutes of fame and we got paid about half a million for it." He said in the flattest tone of voice I'd ever heard him say. "It wasn't live streamed like our usual, shall we say, shenanigans, we just made it look that way with some special effects and a lot of post production. We'd pull the video if we could but it's our second top earner."
  232.  
  233. "I'll never understand people." I shook my head a little. "But that explains a couple things at least. So you just...what? Pop back and forth when you want?"
  234.  
  235. "Pretty much."
  236.  
  237. "That doesn't explain my sense of time dilation." I grumbled.
  238.  
  239. "It's Magic." Thancred deadpanned.
  240.  
  241. "...ain't gotta explain shit, I know." I chuckled a little. "So, what's the what?"
  242.  
  243. "I saw some videos of you on PHO, and well, if it was someone, for some reason, pretending to be you, well, that's not gonna fly with me. That and Leet started geeking out over your Chocobo since he's been on an RPG kick and they're in a series of games."
  244.  
  245. "What."
  246.  
  247. "Mm, Final Fantasy. By a company originally named Square over in Japan. They had eight main games in the series with a bunch of side games on different handhelds." Thancred was speaking as if by rote. Did he have stuff like this memorized? "Least so here on Earth-Bet, When Kyushu sank, resources were scuttled from game making to helping refugees. Chocobos were first introduced in Final Fantasy II on the Famicom in Japan though here in the States we didn't seem them until the fourth game in the series, the seventh and eight games were 3D and looked much more like, well, what we know Chocobos to look like."
  248.  
  249. I stared for a minute at Thancred, I'm pretty sure my eyes were glazed over. "Yeah. forget the game thing, don't tell me anymore. The fact that my life is a game to some people..."
  250.  
  251. "We know the multi-verse is real, Taylor, you have reality breaking powers. Here you're real, somewhere else you're a flash game being written up for an idle game for a couple hundred thousand people to waste time watching bars go up."
  252.  
  253. "Yeah, no more breaking my brain today, please. I help people and kill things for fun and profit. If I wanted an introduction to cronophysics I'd talk to someone like Urianger." I replied flatly.
  254.  
  255. "It's actually a subset of astrophysics I think. Or some kind of physics. Or are we misusing the term?" Thancred scratched his chin. Oh how I wish I wasn't so comfortable on this couch so that I could smack him upside the head. "Anyway. That's what's been going on in a nutshell. I just pop back and forth, can't take anyone or anything with me besides the clothes on my back. I'm gonna say it's Hydaelyn's influence in that regard. She wants something here on Earth-Bet and up until now its been just me blindly making my way."
  256.  
  257. "But now that I'm here, her Chosen..." I trailed off with a sigh. "It'd be better if Minfillia was here. She'd be able to tell us exactly what needed to be done."
  258.  
  259. "Well, don't hold out hope on that, yeah?" His voice was strained and I barely managed to contain my wince. Yeah. Bring up her, smart Taylor. Really smart.
  260.  
  261. "Shit. Sorry." I sighed a little. It was like bringing up Haurchefant to me.
  262.  
  263. Right.
  264.  
  265. Smile Taylor.
  266.  
  267. Keep the smile.
  268.  
  269. Fuck.
  270.  
  271. "It's fine," He shrugged and I sighed again.
  272.  
  273. "Anyway, where's your partner in crime?" I asked.
  274.  
  275. Thancred looked around a little and lifted his hand to wave it back and forth. "I told Leet to bail just in case. He's at a different hideout and I'll call him in a bit. He was probably watching our little fight." if you could call it a fight. It wasn't anything really serious, maybe a clash if anything. "Which gives me an idea."
  276.  
  277. "Here we go," I responded faux snidely with a roll of my eyes too.
  278.  
  279. "Honest talk, Gil is flat useless here except to maybe smelt it down. Allagan pieces have a bit more value. So I'm thinking, maybe Leet can build a portal, you and me can work together, power it with some Aether, and have a stable way to get back and forth with actual items." He was a bit more animated. "Maybe large enough to bring people. I mean, having more bodies for Endbringers, if anything, would be a good selling point, yeah?"
  280.  
  281. "Well...that does sound complex as all hell, Thancred." I grimaced with a thought. "And his tech isn't really reliable isn't it? I mean, I hear they explode on him all the time."
  282.  
  283. "That's for stuff he remakes." He pointed out quickly. "Or something that follows a theme. We're headed to Ala Mhigo soon, right? We can collect collect Allagan Tomestones and other things."
  284.  
  285. I nodded slowly "He can probably work with crystals then too. I heard he was pretty much a jack of all trades. Who knows, a new environment to work on would probably help his problems?" I paused and sighed. "Honestly though? A portal sounds tricky. I mean, for whatever reason I have all of my usual things. I've got all my weapons and gear. Hell even my Prisms are working for my alternative outfits."
  286.  
  287. "All of them?"
  288.  
  289. "I summoned Maggie and Coco just fine. If I needed to I could probably call Veyl and Midgardsormr." I finished almost reluctantly though I could tell that he was still interested in the idea. "I was thinking of getting a Linkshell or two for here since my pearl isn't connecting properly."
  290.  
  291. Thancred nodded slowly at that before pushing himself up to a standing with a small huff of noise. I blinked a few times and watched for a second before I noted how tired he was. It was pretty late all said and done really. "Well, if you can get back to Eorzea, pick that stuff up and bring it back here. The more materials we can work with, the better anything Leet can make."
  292.  
  293. "Right. That means I should probably get home and try to sleep. Try being the keyword since I don't actually need to." I snarked gently as I stood slowly, arching my back and stretching as I did. "And get yelled at by Dad. Shit. This is gonna be fun."
  294.  
  295. "First day out on the job and starting fights and consorting with the forces of villainy." The white haired pretty boy teased.
  296.  
  297. "Shut it, old man." I growled lowly baring my fangs at him.
  298.  
  299. "I'm Thirty-two!"
  300.  
  301. "Suuuuuure."
  302.  
  303. "Dammit Taylor! I'll make you rue this day!"
  304.  
  305. I bounded out with a laugh, my tail wagging happily behind me as I fled from Thancred's shaking fist and laughter.
  306.  
  307. =====
  308.  
  309. I made my way home as fast as I could while I was on the ground nearly sprinting the entire way there under the cover of darkness and amidst the crunching of snow. It didn't take me to long to get home avoiding any kind of people that were out and about. I mean, I could've probably went looking for crime but I'd already messed up with what I said to Dad.
  310.  
  311. And there he was, right as soon as I opened the door. I was honestly half tempted to shut it and march right back down the steps. Dad's got a temper when he chooses to exercise it. Its never been directed at me but I do remember it the once over the phone when I was at Emma's. Dad was ranting at Mr. Barnes about something or another and my but he was he pissed.
  312.  
  313. He was looking mildly aggravated at the moment too. Yeah. I'd peg that a two on the scale of one to ten.
  314.  
  315. "So." He said flatly. "Tell me why I shouldn't be grounding you for a week."
  316.  
  317. "I shot some Nazi's?" I jokingly tried. Ooh. bad Taylor, that's a three on the scale now.
  318.  
  319. "Strike one, try again." Shit.
  320.  
  321. "They were going to beat up a girl, say twelve-ish? Maybe eleven or thirteen? I'm not going to stand, or fly in that case, around and do nothing when I can help someone." I responded stubbornly.
  322.  
  323. Dad heaved a sigh and shook his head. "I figured that. I'm talking about the other fight that you had not to long ago." Other fight? Dammit. With Thancred? "Why the hell did you fight with Uber?"
  324.  
  325. "He thought I was a fake?" I tried and winced when he gave me a Look. "He's someone I kinda know outside of his cape persona. From Eorzea." From annoyed to surprised in two words. Nice. "So my dreams weren't just dreams and...I've had powers since Mom died." My voice was soft, bitter. And Dad's face went ashen. Yeah. Two people I've said the wrong things to tonight. Just great.
  326.  
  327. "Little Owl..." I ran up to Dad and gave him a hug.
  328.  
  329. "Don't. Please don't dad. I know...trust me I know. I miss her too...but we can't..." My voice cracked and I trailed off. "We can't keep doing this." I chuckled hoarsely as a couple of tears dripped down my face. "I want Mom back...but she can't come back...so at the very least I want you back too."
  330.  
  331. He made a sound of self disgust as he wrapped me up in his arms and gave me a hug back. "I've been a horrible person and Father these past two years haven't I?" His voice was barely a whisper as he nearly repeated his words from the morning.
  332.  
  333. "I dunno, you did a pretty awesome job of it today if you ask me." I recalled back to this morning when he was talking to Blackwell.
  334.  
  335. "Speaking of which, are you going back to school tomorrow? I gave it some thought and I can get the process of you being pulled out started pretty quickly." He pulled back, both hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eye as he asked.
  336.  
  337. Did I really need to go back to school? I mean, Sure I wasn't really fully trained in a scholastic sense, yet at the same time I was certainly above and beyond when it came to other matters. I mean, I'm no engineer but I already have the working skills of an adult by many different means. I didn't really need Trig to craft armor or Social Studies to make money on the market.
  338.  
  339. Yet at the same time, not going would let those three win...
  340.  
  341. Win what?
  342.  
  343. They harass me for some fucked up reason, I try to avoid and ignore it. I resisted with all my worth and they escalated to giving me my full set of powers. So. Yeah, sure, let them win.
  344.  
  345. They are beneath me.
  346.  
  347. "Lemme sleep on it?" I asked in the end. "Cause unless we can come up with a way to hide the tail and ears..." I trailed off, one of my ears specifically flicking like a cat.
  348.  
  349. "And the dye-job. I still can't get over how blue this is." he ran a hand through my long hair near the shoulder. "It looks almost natural."
  350.  
  351. "Jandelaine does good work." I confided absently. "He is The Aesthetician. Title and all." I nodded and chuckled a little. "I was going to go and get my hair dyed and changed again next time I had the chance, it was just a little hectic." Dad nodded and I could see him stifle a yawn with his jaw clenching at the same time. Must be tired from waiting up for me. He's usually in bed by now. "Go to bed, Dad." I chided lightly.
  352.  
  353. "Alright. And you're not grounded. Fair warning though, keep me more up to date. if I have to find out via a link on the internet that you've been in a fight hours after the fact instead of directly from you you will be grounded for a week at least." He tried for stern but I could see he was to tired for it but I took it seriously.
  354.  
  355. "Of course Dad. I was looking into ways of communication anyway. Uber suggested something too." I fibbed a little. "So if I end up in Eorzea tonight I'm gonna look into it."
  356.  
  357. "Alright, get some rest Taylor. I love you." Dad said with a smile as he trudged towards the stairs and up to his room.
  358.  
  359. "Love you too, Dad." I said loudly enough for him to hear as I made my way to the living room and dropped down onto the couch.
  360.  
  361. I wasn't tired. I wasn't sleepy, and the thought of actually going to bed was kind of annoying. But I had to try at least. It wasn't as if anything important was coming up yet. Ala Mhigo was a ways away still, and then helping Yugiri and heading to Doma. It made me slightly wonder what kind of continent Othard was like when compared to Aldenard and Vylbrand in Eorzea.
  362.  
  363. "Screw it. Sooner started, sooner done." I mumbled as I repeated Dad's motions and trudged up the stairs to my own bedroom.
  364.  
  365. I opened, walked in, and shut the door behind me. Eyes falling on the poster of Alexandria I had near my door. When I was younger I wanted to be just like her. A cape. A hero.
  366.  
  367. I was those things now wasn't I?
  368.  
  369. Heh.
  370.  
  371. I was a super hero to a lot of people now. How many lives had I helped to saved?
  372.  
  373. On the other hand, how many lives have I helped to condemn and die?
  374.  
  375. I tore my gaze away from the poster to my little mirror on one side of my room, my face was blank, eyes were still a little red from the tears. I forced a smile on my lips until it was more natural feeling as I pushed the depression away, pushed the sadness away.
  376.  
  377. "A smile better suits a hero." I whispered softly and I nodded to myself.
  378.  
  379. Best be off to bed before I make myself cry. So, for the first time in a while I actually unequipped my weapon. It was something I would never actually dare to think of doing in Eorzea but here?
  380.  
  381. Nothing changed. The mirror still reflected myself, just sans weapon. Still a Miqo'te, and that was actually a bit of relief in the end. I didn't ever have to go back to being just meek Taylor Hebert. To the little girl that was lost, alone, and betrayed by her best friend for an unfathomable reason.
  382.  
  383. No. I was an Adventurer, a hero of Hydaelyn, Warrior of Light. A champion of Eorzea and its people.
  384.  
  385. I continued to look into the mirror, at my pale blue hair, the little pink heart under my left eye, at my slitted cat-eyes, at the ears upon my head and the tail behind me flicking into view every so often. This was me. This was definitely me.
  386.  
  387. My smile was brighter now, not as forced, not as fake. I turned away from the mirror after one last glance at myself.
  388.  
  389. This was who I was, who I wanted to be and I wasn't about to change it for anyone else.
  390.  
  391. I strode to my bed, head held high in pride of myself before climbing into bed and relaxing the best I could.
  392.  
  393. It took me twenty seconds to fall asleep.
  394.  
  395. **********
  396.  
  397.  
  398.    #402
  399.  
  400. My eyes snapped open and I looked up at the ceiling of my usual room at the manor in Mist. I took a deep breath of of fresh beach air and I exhaled slowly. Light but that felt nice. Normally I'd've crashed in Gridania since it was my favorite place to sleep. That and it smelled nicer. Honestly it was the biggest reason I preferred Gridania over the other three city states. I mean, I liked Limsa Lominsa because it reminded me of home but the smell? Oh it was infinitely worse than back in the Bay. And the less said about Ul'dah and the problems there? That and despite everything, Ishgard was way way to cold for my liking.
  401.  
  402. But beach front property? As a gangbanger I'd overhead once said, damn son.
  403.  
  404. Serious talk. Beach life is the best life. I have spent literal days relaxing on the beach here in Mist. Especially after a few bad days or dungeons, I'd come here to relax. Of course, that was before the whole being accused of poisoning the Sultana and being exiled to the frigid North thing. Neverthless, Taylor must soldier on! And stop thinking in third person. That way lies madness, Taylor!
  405.  
  406. Oh right, I've already gone mad, haven't I? The past 24-ish hours have been absolutely fucking surreal. I glanced about my room as I pushed myself up with a stretch, I could feel my tail arcing back too Yeah. Surreal alright. Especially since I know it's all real and not just a dream of adventuring that I'd been treating it up until recently.
  407.  
  408. I glanced to the hanging portrait of Haurchefant and instantly felt miserable. It took me a moment to plaster a smile on my face once more and nod to myself. "A hero needs to smile, right?" I asked the air. I relaxed a little as it started to feel more real instead of brittle plastic.
  409.  
  410. It was real. I was real. All of it was real!
  411.  
  412. I needed to talk to the twins about this. Urianger! Y'shtola! Thancred! Thancred.
  413.  
  414. ...Thancred.
  415.  
  416. "Thaaaaaaaaancred!" I screamed into my link pearl that was connected to the rest of the Scions. "Where the hell are you?"
  417.  
  418. "Taylor?" Y'shtola's voice came back instantly. "What seems to be the problem?"
  419.  
  420. "Have you seen Thancred? I owe him a beating and a hug." I walked over to the two bells in my room as I continued to talk to Y'shtola.
  421.  
  422. "Nary a sound since yesterday. I believe he's off on one of his usual jaunts. You know how he can be." Oh I knew alright. Especially now.
  423.  
  424. "Right. If anyone sees him, tell him to contact me ASAP. I'll be in Mist most of the day getting some things together for when that letter comes in." I flicked a finger against one of the bells.
  425.  
  426. "What?" The voice was as sudden as it normally was. Alicia, my Retainer, an Au'ra that was slightly shorter than I, was looking at me in annoyance. Which, well, on her, was her normal state. "I don't have all day."
  427.  
  428. "Yeah, I figured. How much money have we got?" I kept it short with her as I started to quickly empty my items into her bags, I needed to clear up space.
  429.  
  430. "In excess of nearly a hundred million. Everything has sold."
  431.  
  432. "Good. I'm gonna be buying stuff to make Bells in a little bit. You know Thancred Waters from the Scions of the Seventh Dawn?"
  433.  
  434. "Aye, I know the lout."
  435.  
  436. "We're going to be working with him a fair amount in the very near future. Buying a fair amount of materials. Anything he says to buy while I'm not around, you've got the go ahead to do as such. Just get me a list of everything all said and done."
  437.  
  438. "Fine. What else?"
  439.  
  440. "What're your thoughts on dimensional travel?" She gave me the flattest look. "Besides here and the Market and Ventures." I added.
  441.  
  442. "Couldn't care less." Yeah, should've expected that.
  443.  
  444. "Good. Cause we'll be hopping planets soon enough." I grinned and she continued to stare at me. One of these days I'd get her to smile, dammit. "In the mean time, you do you."
  445.  
  446. She nodded tersely, turning and walking away, disappearing mid step. "Gods, this is tiring..." I barely made out before she vanished like she always did. Alicia might've been an absolute bitch, but she was my absolute bitch. And she did good work.
  447.  
  448. I went over to the other Bell in my room and rang it, I had to wait a little bit longer before Jandeline himself walked into my room with a strut, just as vivacious and outlandish as usual. "Darling, darling, it looks like its time for a change of pace for the vaunted Warrior of Light."
  449.  
  450. "Yeah. Let's see what you can come up with, hm?" I grinned toothily, sharp canines easily in view. "Lets go with something dark."
  451.  
  452. "Dark and mysterious, yes? Let us discard the old and weary!"
  453.  
  454. Well. Suffice to say I was impressed after he left me feeling refreshed and new. He even helped me fix my nails, a new black with my one left ring finger painted a blood red much like the highlight in my new black mane of hair. He pulled back the fringe of hair, leaving my forehead exposed and did my hair up in a braid in the back with the red a fair bit more prominent there. All in all I liked it.
  455.  
  456. I nodded to myself as I pushed outside of my room, ignoring the glances I was getting from the rest of the Free Company that had heard my scream from within. I waved them off with a shooing motion and then went back to their game of Triad.
  457.  
  458. My first order of business?
  459.  
  460. The Market Board.
  461.  
  462. =====
  463.  
  464. I spent about, all said and done? About 20 million gil over the next several hours just buying all sorts of materials. I spent more than I meant to, in the end, but that was mainly due to the fact that I had more space than I originally had thought. while I was gone, it was as if something in the air had changed. And well, I knew something was off the moment I'd gotten back to Eorzea, but hey...more bag space than I thought I'd had? Bonus.
  465.  
  466. I may have gone a bit excessive but I wanted some High Quality materials for things I figured were a bit important. I emptied out the excess fishing supplies I had as well since I could easily pick them back up after the fact. I wasn't going to be going fishing in Brockton bay after all, and I didn't really need extra Materia on me.
  467.  
  468. Honestly, I was a bit of a packrat normally. I preferred to be a bit on the self-reliant side since I could easily just make and gather my own supplies with what I wanted to make but I was in a hurry, and I had flush funds. Besides, some of this would easily sell on the other-side in just the food alone.
  469.  
  470. I continued to organize and get things ready. I wasn't going to be making any of my supplies in Mist, just getting them ready for when I got back to Brockton Bay. Enough to craft a few Bells of various make, stuff to make potions, and a few other miscellaneous items. That and I prepped all of my gear ready for action. Materia slotted properly, but I didn't keep excess on me.
  471.  
  472. "Anyone need me for anything?" I asked over my FC Link, getting a smattering of negative responses. Everyone to busy in their mini tourney of Triad to want to do anything. It wasn't as if we were heading for Doma yet either. Oh well. "I'm heading to Limsa for a spell."
  473.  
  474. Being the lazy person I was, I snagged an Aether current and teleported to the main Aetherlyte. Or at least that was the plan. I found myself in a black void backlit by a soft and loving blue light.
  475.  
  476. A flash of white light caused me to shield my eyes with my arm, once I blinked away the light blindness I found myself standing in front of someone that every chosen of Hydaelyn knew. "Lord Yoshida." I nodded, deferring to the larger than life man in front of me. "What can this one do for you?" I was polite, refraining from my usual antics as I relaxed a little from the minor tense up I had from the misfired teleport.
  477.  
  478. "Chosen of Hydaelyn." He intoned, his voice echoing all around. "I'm afraid there's been some changes."
  479.  
  480. "I felt them when I woke." I demurred. "I haven't fully checked all of the changes. Dare I ask why?"
  481.  
  482. "The Light of Hydaelyn reaches out further and further." He said as if that explained everything. Which in a way it technically did. "There must be a Balance. Her chosen have weakened to strengthen her Light." I nodded to that. I didn't feel weakened in any shape or form though. I felt stronger still. "You are the exception to the rule, for the most part."
  483.  
  484. "I am?" I continued my polite tone. "Is it because I am originally from Earth-Bet?" I got a nod to that query and I nodded in turn. "I felt stronger, more attuned." I mused.
  485.  
  486. "Hydaleyn is far from your home, yet at the same time, you are her sole connection to pierce the veil in the darkness. Any weaker and she would not be able to sustain you." Lord Yoshida continued. "Be ever careful. Your home is ripe for the plucking. There is much to learn, much to be shown and you are alone, a Light in the darkness." With that, another flash of effervescent light nearly blinded me.
  487.  
  488. When I blinked again I was standing in the ocean air of Limsa Lominsa. Great. Just fucking great.
  489.  
  490. "Y'shtola?" I tapped my pearl for the Scions.
  491.  
  492. "Yes, Taylor?" My fellow Miqo'te responded rapidly.
  493.  
  494. I paused, wondering how to word this. "I need crystals. Not the kind readily made available through the market."
  495.  
  496. A pause on her end. "Towards what endeavor?"
  497.  
  498. I took a deep breath and settled myself, sitting down against the main Aetherlyte. "I want to make an Aetherlyte portal. Thancred is helping me. It's about Home."
  499.  
  500. "Quite so. That'll be dangerous." Y'shtola's voice is flat, deadpan even and I couldn't help but laugh faintly. "What about the Aether currents?"
  501.  
  502. "I've got those mapped out. I have for over a year. It is Home." I replied dryly. "I can easily make a smaller set of crystals but I need a bigger one."
  503.  
  504. What followed wasn't a question. "You want one for more than just yourself to use."
  505.  
  506. "Yeah. Things aren't the best there...and I might need backup. Not quite Primal Bahamut level...and I only really need to deal with one that has their own Tempered, and thankfully it supposedly isn't right away." I shrugged against the Aetherlyte despite Y'shtola not being able to see me. "But at the same time, harder to deal damage to and they devastate their surroundings easy."
  507.  
  508. "And you'd seek aide from your fellow chosen."
  509.  
  510. "If at all possible? Yes. Its a long-shot, but...if I can do anything to halt their advance I'll take it."
  511.  
  512. Something was niggling at the back of my mind but I ignored it like I usually did. I still needed to do things here before I went back to Brockton Bay and the day had just started after all.
  513.  
  514. **********
  515.  
  516.  
  517.     #465
  518.  
  519. After talking to Y'shtola I spent a few hours talking to various other people, gathering proper supplies, upgrading small things here and there and getting everything ready. I still had a few guild masters to see to things, and then this and that. It wasn't, in my eyes, anything special. No, it was just mind numbingly boring busy work that needed to be done. Limsa Lominsa was my first stop.
  520.  
  521. I spent a fair amount of time in Limsa Lominsa because I rather quite enjoyed the smell of the sea, that and I had the most to do there. There was more area to cover due to dealing with all the boats and ships, and it was where I remembered to grab those extra Linkshells and pearls I needed for back home. One for Dad, one for Thancred since for some reason ours didn't connect back in Brockton Bay.
  522.  
  523. Stupid space-time nonsense.
  524.  
  525. Gridania was my second. Making sure everything was ready and all of that. I had an easier time of it in the forest because I knew my way around better. The capital of the Black Shroud was the smallest of the three city states after-all.
  526.  
  527. I left Ul'dah for last-ish.
  528.  
  529. Ul'dah. I don't like Ul'dah. So many things have gone wrong in Ul'dah when I'm involved that I prefer to just stay away when I can. My first meeting with Thancred at the fair and when that Gobbue got lose, then most recently when the Sultana was poisoned...
  530.  
  531. Suffice to say, my opinion was pretty much 'fuck Ul'dah' and everything in the entire fucking Thanlan area.
  532.  
  533. It was hot and sweltering, it smelled worse than oceanfront refuse, the people were assholes, it was to easy for me to get lose in the twists and turns of the city, the palace of was pointlessly huge, and I still didn't feel all that welcome after I was framed for assassination.
  534.  
  535. Now, I've no qualms about killing. I've killed so many different people that I've lost track of my kill count. Though, I'm sure I could find someone that knows that specific number if I really needed to find out. In fact, I'll merrily shoot a fireball through someone's skull if they were interfering with me and mine. I don't take any particular joy in it, just another aspect of life.
  536.  
  537. Except for King Thordan. That I did with a smile on my face. And a smile does suit me best!
  538.  
  539. But back to Ul'dah, the real reason I left it for last was because if I'd gone here first, it would've probably ruined the rest of my dayt after dealing with all th pushy merchants that would try and get out of their deals, and all the political backstabbing and intrigue going on. Again, if I was going to backstab someone I'd use a knife, not some honeyed words and fake reassurances and get someone else to do it for me.
  540.  
  541. Why yes, I hate this place, why do you ask?
  542.  
  543. Anyway.
  544.  
  545. "Look. The stuff is paid for, just get it delivered on time. I'm just checking up on it. I don't want no muss or fuss. Just get. It. Done." I leaned in with a frown on my face while my tail was sticking up in agitation. I really hated this place.
  546.  
  547. "Well, you see, about the logistics..." the merchant trailed off as I snarled in his face.
  548.  
  549. "Get it to Gridania. I don't care how. You were paid in advance, either do your job or give me my Gil back and I'll find a more suitable merchant." I hissed. The Lalafell took a few steps back as I got in his face threateningly.
  550.  
  551. He gulped back his retort and nodded, sweat gleaming upon his brow. "Good. Now if you'll excuse me." I stood up and smiled down at him before walking off with my tail waving behind me.
  552.  
  553. Self-important jackass.
  554.  
  555. See? Half the population are desperate for anything, the other half are nothing but tools.
  556.  
  557. Reminds me way to much of the bad parts of home. With the merchants as the gangs whereas Limsa Lominsa reminded me of the slightly better parts, with the enjoyable smell of the ocean.
  558. Where as Gridania was just kind of relaxing in a way. It might be because I appeared there after being pushed forward by Louisioux and I've always enjoyed the forests since I was a kid.
  559.  
  560. I was jostled out of my thoughts as I heard a commotion going on further down the street. A little girl?
  561.  
  562. "Miss!" She called out as I walked up to her. She was oddly well dressed all things considered for someone that seemed to be panicing. Well, it certainly reminded me of a few things. "I need your help! My sister has been kidnapped!"
  563.  
  564. Yup. Certainly reminded me of something.
  565.  
  566. ======
  567.  
  568. I threw the Red Mage Soulstone up and down in my hand a few times, looking at and into it every so often. "Now this has been a shitty day all said and done." I sighed absently. The ambush at the church had left a bitter taste in my mouth. Mindless puppets that sacrificed themselves? It reminded me way to much of the Tempered and that was always a good way to ruin a day. At least X'rhun would look into things for me a little more and I had a new conversation starter with Alisaie so that's always a plus.
  569.  
  570. The Elezen was keeping more secrets than I originally thought. More power to her in the end, but something like this would've been useful information and good to know. The Job was a nice mixture of different ranges when it came to attacking. I'd probably give it some use for certain. See what situations would be best for it just like the rest of my Jobs.
  571.  
  572. I'll cop to being a little biased about some jobs. I preferred Scholar when healing in smaller groups because Eos could easily take care of that and I certainly would avoid being a Dark Knight if I didn't have to use a huge fuckoff sword. The souls in the Crystal seemed to have been speaking a little louder lately too, pushing more thoughts than just skills onto me. It was a jarring sensation that was really only quieted while I was farming per se, or screwing around as a Machinist.
  573.  
  574. "Thal's balls, just when you think you've seen it all!" someone's shout caused me to twist and turn at a man shouting ecstatically. "The world is full of surprises!" Huh? What's this man going on about? I stepped closer as he shot me a wide grin. It didn't look like he recognized me but that wasn't anything particularly special. I was about to ask when he went on. "What am I talking about, you ask?" Well. Not yet. But sure. Let's go with that. "Oh, nothing much," A-huh. "Just the most amazing blade work I've ever seen!"
  575.  
  576. Really?
  577.  
  578. That sounds like a blatant challange to yours truly.
  579.  
  580. I let the young man blather on about what he had seen. An old man in the Colosseum taking on challengers with some fancy blade work, huh? I looked at the Soulstone down in my hand and a wild smirk made its way to my face. Who knows, I might have even more new toys to play with.
  581.  
  582. =====
  583.  
  584. Yeah.
  585.  
  586. Called it. Totally called it.
  587.  
  588. I had a moderately nice fight with the old man, albeit interrupted rudely twice, and now I had a new Job, Samurai. Two within the space of half of a day was actually moderately quick all things considered, of course I had done the same with the Dark Knight and the Machinist jobs as well. All things considered though? I'd enjoyed my day. Which was a blessing when it came to Ul'dah.
  589.  
  590. I looked up to the darkening sky as I considered my next step. I did have a few more stops too. I needed to get to the Scion's headquarters out in Mor Dhona, and make a stop up in Ishgard, and then take a few trips down through the Palace to get some experience with my new Jobs.
  591.  
  592. Or maybe leave Ishgard for last. Yeah. That was probably the better idea.
  593.  
  594. I didn't want to go see him with my mood bad from Ul'dah, it wouldn't be fair. To either of us really.
  595.  
  596. "Smile, Taylor." I said to myself as I paused in my movements and with a thought teleported through the Aether to Mor Dhona. Revenent's Toll was as busy as normal, Adventurers of all walks were walking about and milling around. I looked out over at the sky as it continued to darken the skyline glittering from all the crystals and Aether in the air. I quickly strode in towards the entrance to the Rising Stones. I didn't pay much attention to any of the patrons though i did give a nod to the Bard in the corner. I pushed into the area the Scions had pretty much taken over in the back only to stop as I looked to the side and at Hoary dancing and making a fool out of himself for the amusement of some kids. "Huh." I spied Hoary's brother Ocher looking on in disbelief and I snickered to myself..
  597.  
  598. "Taylor." F'lhamimn flowed over to me in greeting and looked over at the two Roegadyn brothers as I tilted my head in their direction. "Cute isn't it?"
  599.  
  600. "Mm, where'd the kids come from?" I asked as I walked with her over to the bar she had set up. "They're new I take it?"
  601.  
  602. "Hoary and Coultenet brought them back." The other Miqo'te nodded in their direction again as she grabbed a glass and a bottle of something, pouring it for me and pushing it the few inches needed in my direction. "Their family were caught by some monsters out in the Shroud."
  603.  
  604. "Why were they in the Shroud?" I mused more to myself knowing I wouldn't get an answer beyond the shrug I received. I concentrated on my newfound drink first before sighing. "Thanks for the drink. Any news? And is Thancred back?"
  605.  
  606. "No, not yet. I heard you were yelling at him over the Linkshell earlier?" F'lhamimn shrugged a little again. "Otherwise nothing yet. the Grand Companies are still going over the details for the push into Ala Mhigo. Yugiri is in the back too. Something in the air, she said?"
  607.  
  608. I nodded a little. "Yes. A shift in the air. I don't like it." I said with a faint sigh and finished my drink. "What about Gosetsu?"
  609.  
  610. "With her as well. And before you ask, no Alphinaud isn't back. He's with the Grand Companies right now. I believe he should be back soon as well. I believe General Raubahn has him running an errand. No sight of Shinryu or Omega either."
  611.  
  612. "Bloody hell."
  613.  
  614. "Language young lady! But the sentiment is shared. Now go talk to Lyse." F'lhamimn motioned to the side with a smile.
  615.  
  616. I sighed as I pushed back from the bar and wandered over to Lyse. The blonde gave me a look and a weak smile as I sat down beside her at one of the round tables, my tail writhing out behind me as I looked at her "You alright?" Well, that was a dumb question. The blank look I got from her was enough to cause me to chuckle. "All things considered that is." I put my new sword against the table it getting nary a glance from the Monk.
  617.  
  618. "I suppose so." Lyse relaxed back into her chair as I looked at the bottles on the table. She'd been drinking a fair amount it seemed. "I keep looking over my shoulder expecting..."
  619.  
  620. "Papalymo to order you around or chide you for your drinking?" I asked wryly as I sat forward, leaning my chin on my hands with my elbows planted on the table. "Trust me. I understand."
  621.  
  622. Lyse chuffed as she looked to the side. "I'm sick of sitting around, waiting for something to do."
  623.  
  624. "Well..." I trailed off as I motioned to my new sword. "If you're up for it, want to head down through the Palace with me?" I paused and looked at her. "I picked up a couple of Jobs today and I need to test them out."
  625.  
  626. Lyse stared at me before laughing. "Someone just gave you a Mythrilite sword like that?"
  627.  
  628. I snorted at her, my ears flattening in a way that was noticable. "Considering someone gave me a Fantasia Potion as a prank?" I asked the blonde as she looked at me sheepishly in response.
  629.  
  630. "Well, you needed a way to improve your mood?" She asked me. Asked. Light, Lyse. "We hadn't seen you in so long and you were in such a bad mood..." I waved her explanation off and shook my head.
  631.  
  632. "It's fine, Lyse. It's actually been helpful." I didn't bother to mention how bad of a place I'd been at that point. "Fact is, I actually prefer being a Miqo'te over a Hyur." I smiled a little. "Better balance for one." I snickered softly.
  633.  
  634. "Right," Lyse drawled out with a faint laugh as she pushed her chair back. "Alright, tell you what, let's head down through the Palace for you to get into the swing of things. Did you have anything else to do though?"
  635.  
  636. I froze for a fraction of a second before I shook my head, a smile slipping onto my face again. "Nothing that can't be pushed off for now. Now let's see how well this sword cuts through things, hm?" I picked up the sword as Lyse shook her head.
  637.  
  638. "I'll stick with my fists."
  639.  
  640. "Weapons can be fun you know."
  641.  
  642. "You're a weapon fanatic, you collect them."
  643.  
  644. "Because they're shiny!"
  645.  
  646. "You really are a cat at heart."
  647.  
  648. "I am at that, Nyahaha!"
  649.  
  650. The two of us left the Rising Stones and took our time getting out to the Black Shroud. The Palace of the Dead waited.
  651.  
  652. **********
  653.  
  654.  
  655.    #504
  656.  
  657. I lost track of the time I spent delving into the Palace, Lyse was with me until the 100th floor as I learned how to be a Samurai from scratch. It was a little easier than having the knowledge just shoved in my brain from the original spar I had with Musosai before it was rudely by Beroald.
  658.  
  659. She bid me goodnight and I went back down as a Red Mage to repeat the process.
  660.  
  661. I lost track of time while soloing down into the Palace, plumbing its ever changing depths repeatedly until I was satisfied with my current level of experience with both Jobs. I went down and down and down as time passed. So much so that I came out with a new apprectiation to the new classes...and I'd probably be switching back and forth with my new 'toys' while dealing with all of this soon to be nonsense.
  662.  
  663. But that was when we left for Ala Mhigo or Doma.
  664.  
  665. When dealing with Ishgard though, I needed something a little more formal. Nothing better than the Azure Dragoon's finest afterall.
  666.  
  667. That and I didn't want to show up in any sort of healing gear. It just wouldn't be right in my mind.
  668.  
  669. So when I left the Palace it was morning in the Black Shroud and with nary a thought I teleported to Ishgard after swapping my gear. The bitter cold was nothing new and my armour barely did anything to protect against the biting wind. I reveled in the pain, taking it in with a breath and expelling it with another. With a sigh, I made my way to House Fortempts. Best to pay my respects first.
  670.  
  671. Using the Aetherlyte to teleport, I made my way to House Fortempts manor, the guard looking at me and with a bare nod, allowed me my passage.
  672.  
  673. Once in I was also bade greetings by several of the servants as they made about their day, one of the butler's detaching himself as he walked just in front of me, opening doors for me and leading the way to Count Edmont's study.
  674.  
  675. "The Lady Taylor, Count." I was announced and I slipped in besides the Butler who looked me over before giving me a nod and leaving the room. It was just the two of us at that point as the elder Elezen looked at me from across his desk.
  676.  
  677. "Count Edmont de Fortempts." I started, trying to not take a shuddering breath as I did. "I..."
  678.  
  679. He motioned with his quill, cutting me off. "None of that, Taylor. Edmont is fine." He gestured to the ornate chair in front of his desk. "Sit, sit. What can I do for you today?"
  680. I remained silent as I moved, leaning my Areadbhar Lux over against the wall before sitting down. "I wanted to say hello before looking in on Ser Aymeric and then heading to Camp Dragonhead before heading back home."
  681.  
  682. I received a nod as Count Edmont finished writing what he was, placing his quill down carefully. "Thank you for coming by then. How have you been?"
  683.  
  684. "All things considered?" I asked more to myself.. "I lost track of time working on a few things but I managed to find my way Home a few days ago. I can travel freely between there and here now, not in the way I was, but in a more permanent manner. I'm hoping find a way for others to travel there soon too." I chuckled mirthlessly at that. I know what I said to Dad, but everything was all to real and it was starting to come crashing down on me. "I was just...a few weeks to late." My smile was watery as I looked at the Count.
  685.  
  686. "Oh dear child." the Count's voice was subdued as I took my helmet off just to wipe my ears clear. "He would be so happy that you found your way back."
  687.  
  688. "Yes. He would." I came across a bit more harsh than I would've hoped, but the Count didn't hold it against me as I forced a smile as I looked at him once more. "I've told my Father part of what I've gone through, but...I'm not sure how to really word things any better." I finished bitterly. "How do you tell your Father that you've lived for almost 15 years longer but still only look 15?" I asked rhetorically, more to myself than to the Count.
  689.  
  690. "As a Father, I'd say tell him the truth." Count Edmont responded wryly and with a faint smile on his face. "I know you've shared your secrets with only Haurcherfant and in extension me but I think you need another support to anchor yourself Taylor. You'll be left adrift if you rely on just yourself with your secrets."
  691.  
  692. "Thancred Waters knows, now. It was surprising to find out that his knowledge extended to that area though." My smile was a little less forced at that point, thinking of Thancred and his antics.
  693.  
  694. "He does know a surprising amount of various things, doesn't he? He's quite a surprise in the end. And quite spry for his advanced age." I couldn't help but laugh at the note of mischievousness in the Count's voice.
  695.  
  696. "He is only thirty-two, Count..."
  697.  
  698. "Edmont."
  699.  
  700. "...Edmont. Not much older than I, really. I mean I'm..." I tried to think it through. "I'm in my early twenties now, I believe? I started this when I was, twelve?" I asked more to myself. I'd always been tall and I was mistaken for an adult in the clothes I found myself in when I first met Thancred in Ul'dah those years ago. "I suppose I should be 22? Well, 27 if one counts my time displacement from when Bahamut was summoned."
  701.  
  702. "And you used to be a Hyur by all accounts. Transforming into a Miqo'te didn't change much, though you are still tall for one." The Count, no, Edmont pointed out.
  703.  
  704. "Just the additional bits added on top, and smoothing out my lankiness I suppose." I shrugged it off. "I'm much more comfortable like this. I don't think I would ever go back to the way I was before. Besides, this is how I first met..." I trailed off and gulped. "...Haurchefant."
  705.  
  706. "Well, with a different hair colour I'm assuming? The black is rather nice on you though, Taylor." He didn't comment on my difficulty of his son's name to which I was ever grateful.
  707.  
  708. "Oh yes. The Aesthetician had decided my normal colour, which is this black actually, just wasn't lively enough for his tastes. So instead he decides to give me a makeover," I gestured to the little pink heart below my left eye that I had kept because of a stray comment from Haurchefant. "And I suddenly everything was hot pink with white highlights. He refused to change it for months despite my near begging of the man."
  709.  
  710. Edmont let out a wry chuckle. "Ah yes, when we Elezen go to extremes, we sure take the full measure don't we? I've never met the man, but I've heard other stories. Completely outlandish."
  711.  
  712. "He just doesn't have Ishgardian sensibilities after all." I rejoined with faint smirk and a flick of one of my ears. We paused in conversation, the silence not as awkward as it would've been a few minutes ago. Instead it was relaxing to me and I quite enjoyed it for the breather it was. After a moment I pushed my chair back and stood. "I should go see Ser Aymeric, make sure he's doing well after this entire mess. Give my greetings to Estinein if he's around as well."
  713.  
  714. "Alright." Edmont stood as I did, using his desk as support instead of his cane as I put my helmet back on and went to retrieve my spear. "Taylor?" he asked as I opened the door to leave. "You have a place here anytime you so desire."
  715.  
  716. "Thank you, Edmont." I nodded.
  717.  
  718. "There is no need to thank family, Taylor."
  719.  
  720. I didn't know what to say to that. All I could do was be grateful I was wearing my helmet once more as I left the study. I didn't want him to see the fresh tears in my eyes. Now or ever.
  721.  
  722. =====
  723.  
  724. The outside was still bitterly cold, matching my exterior with my interior as I made my way down towards the Congregation of Our Knights Most Heavenly.
  725.  
  726. Such a pretentious name if you're asking me.
  727.  
  728. I walked by the guards without nary a glance, they knew me by now and wouldn't stand in my way to see Ser Aymeric. The only person to stand in my way as I strode in and made my way through the building was Lucia. The Garlean was looking well and I stopped to greet her specifically. "Lucia."
  729.  
  730. "Taylor." she responded dryly. "Here to meet with Ser Aymeric?"
  731.  
  732. "If he isn't busy." I said. She shook her head in the negative. "Lead the way then, please."
  733.  
  734. She turned on her heal and briskly lead the way. "Pray tell the meaning of this meeting?"
  735.  
  736. I decided to humor her. "Supplies for the sojourn into Ala Mhigo. Chocobos are needed for supply runs into Gyr Abania from the Black Shroud. The cleaning effort of Baelsar's Wall is nearing completion and we're going to be making our ways inward once Alphinaud returns with General Raubahn's word."
  737.  
  738. Lucia glanced over her shoulder at me. "And those are things I'm capable of taking care of.."
  739.  
  740. "Which is why I told you. But now you get to sit through a meeting of pointless flower wording before running off to do what needs to be done in about ten to fifteen minutes." I smirked a little at her as she rolled her eyes at me. "Really though, I came to see how he was doing. I was going to be looking for you after for just that. But since I came across you first instead of at the same time." I splayed my hands out in a shrug and continued to walk with her.
  741.  
  742. "I'll leave the two of you to your conversation then. Anything else?"
  743.  
  744. "Estinein around?"
  745.  
  746. "Nay, off on another contemplation walk of sorts."
  747.  
  748. "Mm, thank you Lucia."
  749.  
  750. "Farewell, Taylor. Good tidings to you."
  751.  
  752. She left me at Ser Aymerics entrance after announcing me for our benefit, leaving me with the door closed behind me and Ser Aymeric much like Count Edmont behind a desk, busy with paperwork. "Ser Aymeric." I greeted
  753.  
  754. The Elezen stood and nodded at me. "Lady Taylor." he greeted in kind. "You are here to oversee the requesitions I take it?"
  755.  
  756. "Quite." I nodded as I strode over, leaning my lance against his desk and removed my helmet once again before sitting down on one of the two chairs. "I've already spoken to Lucia about everything that the others members of the Alliance needed."
  757.  
  758. "I see, and yet you've still come to see me." Aymeric smiled at me as he sat down after I was settled. "It is nice to see a familiar face after dealing with all of this."
  759.  
  760. "It sounds like you need to take some time off." I pointed out as I looked at all of the paperwork he'd been working on. "And to delegate a little bit more than you have been." I narrowed my eyes at him as I looked around. "You've got minions for all of this now." Ser Aymeric frowned minutely at that and I couldn't help but laugh gently at that. "I don't mean be like your...Father." I said the word with distaste as I thought of Thordan and the rest of the Heavensward. "You need more than Lucia to trust with these things."
  761.  
  762. He smiled at me slyly as he gestured around. "You're right. Want a job?"
  763.  
  764. Pfft.
  765.  
  766. Hah.
  767.  
  768. No.
  769.  
  770. "You couldn't give me enough to even consider it, let alone say yes." I deadpanned at him. "Me behind a desk? I'd go nuts."
  771.  
  772. "Can you blame me for trying?" Ser Aymeric spread his hands with a grin before becoming a little more serious. "I'm doing fine though. I'm healed from all of my injuries."
  773.  
  774. I nodded slowly at that. "Good." I paused and repeated myself. "Good."
  775.  
  776. From there we trailed off into meaningless conversation, how things were going, minor details here and there.
  777.  
  778. Then it was off to Camp Dragonhead.
  779.  
  780. Off to see Haucherfant's grave.
  781.  
  782. **********
  783.  
  784.  
  785.     #516
  786.  
  787. Camp Dragonhead was colder than Ishgard. The lack of as many buildings and the smaller walls made the wind worse. The fact that where I was headed was a cliffside made the wind even more harsh but I paid it no heed in the end. But my first stop before heading to Providence Point, was to check in on Emmanellain. He had very recently taken over Haucherfant's duty in Camp Dragonhead but by all reports had been doing a fair job.
  788.  
  789. Considering the very rapid pace the boy had to grow up in the past month or so, it was a nice surprise to see he was handling himself as well as he did.
  790.  
  791. I didn't stop in to greet him, in fact all I did was see that things were progressing smoothly as the young Elezen did his paperwork under the watchful eye of Honoroit. Both were diligent in their work so I quietly left before either of them even noticed my presence. I gave the other guards here and there a careful, though blank, nod, and made my way to my last stop.
  792.  
  793. Providence Point.
  794.  
  795. The grave of Haucherfant Greystone.
  796.  
  797. It didn't take me long even though I took my time walking. I could've mounted up and been there faster but I didn't.
  798.  
  799. It didn't feel right to do that kind of thing even if I had been putting this off.
  800.  
  801. I didn't want to go to another gravestone.
  802.  
  803. I barely went to visit Mom.
  804.  
  805. And this?
  806.  
  807. This hurt just as much. Maybe more. Mom's death felt so so long ago now. It'd only been a few years in reality, but with all of my time here? In Eorzea? More than a decade and a half had passed for me. Almost 20 years if I put both times together. Mom's passing had been the worst day of my life. The Locker was the third worst.
  808.  
  809. Watching Haurcherfant die, after defending me? After I couldn't heal him? Nothing I could do to save him? After he told me to smile? Nothing would ever compare to that.
  810.  
  811. My revenge was bitter and cold. It felt so good to sate my wrath on Thordan and his Heaven's Ward as I cut them down, one by one.
  812.  
  813. Zephririn, the one who caused Haucherfant's death? I crushed him beneath my foot and didn't look back.
  814.  
  815. Most of the Heaven's Ward were good people. They did what they needed to for the their country and I could forgive them that. I granted them a mercy by ending them quickly.
  816.  
  817. The one that ordered them? Thordan? He may have been Ser Aymeric's father, but he received no mercy from me. His end was bittersweet in that it didn't grant me respite. It was just another death at my hands. Another life snuffed out.
  818.  
  819. It was also the only time I'd ever felt good about killing someone.
  820.  
  821. I don't regret that. I still occasionally feel better about myself for killing the Archbishop. About my revenge that'd been sated. However I don't normally think about it. I try not to dwell on the past so much since it would bog me down seeing to the present and to the future. I wouldn't be able to help anyone, let alone myself, if I thought upon the past and whatifs.
  822.  
  823. But today I thought back. I dwelled upon what I could've done, what I could've changed.
  824.  
  825. And I did so as I made my way to Providnce Point slowly. feet dredging through the snow until I found my way to the edge of Providence Point and the single gravestone that took up its place there.
  826.  
  827. "Hello, Haurcherfant." I whispered to the gravestone as I knelt in the snow in front of it. I pulled my Dragoon helmet off once more as I faced the stone tablet and the view it gave off, seeing Ishgard off in the distance. "Light...I miss you so." I tried to smile. I tried so hard but all I could do was let tears fall down my face as I broke down and cried and cried.
  828.  
  829. At that moment, I was nothing more than a grieving girl, missing the one I adored the most.
  830.  
  831. The worst part? Nothing I could've done could have saved him. None of my aetheric powers, none of my healing spells, none of my magic, my martial prowess, my extraordinary skills. The Echo that had saved my life so many times in fights, letting me plan ahead for fights against Primals and other monsters both in and out of human flesh? Completely useless.
  832.  
  833. "Why am I still here?" I whispered bitterly to the grave. "Why did you save me?" I'd asked myself a thousand times the very selfsame question. "You audacious, happy, lovable fool. Why did you save me?" My face was fresh with tears again and I wiped them away bitterly once again.
  834.  
  835. No doubt, I would've been killed if it hadn't been for him, what was through his chest would've gone through my head. But...I would've woken up in my bed and Haucherfant would still be alive...but in the heat of the moment..?
  836.  
  837. I reached up to my neck, pulling up the necklace that I wore. That I'd told only one about. Looking at the two rings strung along it, I was tempted to take it off, to leave the rings upon his grave as my final memento, looking at the gleaming crystal set upon the top of the Allagan metals I'd worked to make them.
  838.  
  839. One for him.
  840.  
  841. One for myself.
  842.  
  843. My left hand ached to wear it after I had taken my measurements and had Artoriel secretly give me Haucherfant's. Artoriel was the only one I'd told about the rings but Count Edmont obviously knew as well after his comment earlier.
  844.  
  845. But that didn't come to pass. I'd never wear the ring I'd made. I'd never be able to give Haucherfant the one I made for him, not in person anymore.
  846.  
  847. I twisted the necklace around, removing the ring I'd made for him and put it upon the gravestone and pushed. Channeling some Aether as I did, merging the stone and metal, fusing the ring as my final gift. "A knight lives to serve," I quoted him. "To aid those in need." I smiled. A weak, bitter, and broken smile. "Your last words to me, to smile. I have tried my best, Haucherfant. I will continue to do my best, for those that need my help. For myself to move on, and for your memory. A knight, a hero like myself...I shall continue on my path. A path I wanted to always walk with you..." my voice choked as I closed my eyes, clenching at my ring. "I miss you. I'll always miss you."
  848.  
  849. Slowly I kissed my fingers, gently placing them on the ring I had fused to his grave and backed up slowly, slipping my necklace back down upon my chest under my armour. "I love you Haucherfant Greystone. I will do my best in service of your memory." I bowed as I stood back before kneeling and picking up my snow covered helm. "Farewell beloved, may you find your rest in the void beyond."
  850.  
  851. Then I finally turned and walked away, back to Camp Dragonhead and then to the Mists. It was late and I needed to get home.
  852.  
  853. **********
  854.  
  855.  
  856.    #537
  857.  
  858. Before teleporting back to Mists, I decided, at last second, to take a detour out to Baelsar's Wall, mainly to see how things were going, and to have a chat with someone. Once I was a fair bit of a distance away from both the Wall and deep into the Shroud, I mentally called out for who I wanted to speak with, only verbally greeting him when he apepared in a warp of Aether, flying in front of me. "Midgardsormr." I greeted his small flying minion-esq form. His red-glowing eyes peered back at me.
  859.  
  860. "Chosen of Hydaelyn." he greeted me in his own language, translated via the Echo. "Thou dost reek of black Aether."
  861.  
  862. I frowned, lifting up an arm and sniffing it. All I smelt was cold metal and the background of dragon. "Really?" I paused, realizing exactly how stupid I was looking and dropped my arm to my side. "I mean, I did sleep in my own bed last night, at home, my actual home home, not here in Eorzea home." The mini Midgardsormr just stared, unblinking at me as it flapped its tiny wings. Oh yes, he was less that impressed. Reminded me of Dad actually. "Don't look at me like that." I defended myself as I looked away in a small huff and a faint blush. "I don't know how Hydaelyn works."
  863.  
  864. "The Mother Crystal doth work most oddly." Midgardsormr intoned blandly. "Now Chosen, what doth thou seek?" He asked as he flew over and landed upon my shoulder.
  865.  
  866. "We are linked, you and I." I said idly as I walked towards the wall. "You felt what happened." It wasn't a question. "You knew when you first met me, didn't you?"
  867.  
  868. "Aye," the dragonet replied in his rumbling bass. "Before I forged our covenant and after I broke thy connection to thy crystals, t'was expected of you to dissipate back to the Aether. Yet thou stayed."
  869.  
  870. I remembered his words, how he would watch, listen, and wait. "I didn't."
  871.  
  872. "Nay."
  873.  
  874. "Why not?" I asked, more to myself than to the dragonet, looking to Baelsar's Wall a moment, the imposing wall marring the skyline. "I was just a schoolgirl, lost because my mother died."
  875.  
  876. "And yet thou proceeded to try and save another from the very selfsame fate." Migardsormr noted. I barked out a harsh laugh at that and shook my head. "Aye, thou failed, but thy attempts changed the entirety of all of Eorzea." I looked over at the mini dragon on my shoulder and stared at him. "Thy companion, if thou weren't there..." he trailed off leadingly and I grimaced.
  877.  
  878. if I hadn't been there, Thancred would've probably been greviously injured and Minfillia would've probably been killed by that rampaging Gobbue. Then what would've happened with the Scions? What would've happened if I wasn't around at all? Would someone have stepped up? But...why me though? "Why me?"
  879.  
  880. "The Mother Crystal doth work most oddly." Midgardsormr repeated just as blandly as the first time, I couldn't help but laugh at that though. "You shall continue on thy path to thine end as any other."
  881.  
  882. "Everything has their own end." I whispered to myself before letting out a faint sigh. "Thank you Midgardsormr. Would you like to see my home?"
  883.  
  884. He continued to stare blankly at me, red eyes gaining a little more glow than usual. "Through the black Aether, beyond the Shroud of Chaos to thy home." He didn't make it as a question, just a simple statement "There is much to discuss between us, and that of thy Father as well." Dad? What did he have to with any of this? "The taint thy Father carries hast attempted to leech its way into your mind. The light of the Mother Crystal kept it at bay. Hydaelyn shines and protects those it chooses." He chose that moment to launch himself off my shoulder and to fly and look directly at me.
  885.  
  886. Taint? What fucking taint? "I need to get back. Now."
  887.  
  888. Midgardsormr nodded, "Indeed." He gave me one last stare before disappearing into a whisp of Aether.
  889.  
  890. I stared at the wall and disappeared into the Aether myself.
  891.  
  892. Reappearing in the Mists, I hit up the mini Aetherlyte and teleported to the one nearest the Free Company building, I took off in a sprint, ignoring everyone that was looking at me weirdly, only pausing at my door. "Going to bed, leave me alone unless it is super damn important. As in, unless its from Alphinaud or any of the Scions, keep out!" I shouted before slamming my door and running towards my bed.
  893.  
  894. I launched myself on it, put myself under the blankets and in twenty seconds I was out.
  895.  
  896. **********
  897.  
  898. Author's Notes: Short. Midgardsormr wasn't being cooperative. I wanted this out instead of sitting on it so I cut it short and posted it. Already working on something involving Danny and the next bit, but this was holding me up. Sorry for the delay and sorry for how short it is.
  899.  
  900.     #547
  901.  
  902. "It's been a shitty fucking day."
  903.  
  904. I'm a man of middling stature, if I'm being generous. Sure I've got height going for me but I don't really look like much all said and done. I'm going bald, my glasses are kind of at that point where they're almost overly large, and really I'm kind of reedy looking. The glasses make me look more intelligent, and well, Annette liked them. Well, she liked the eyes behind the glasses more. They're what originally caught her attention.
  905.  
  906. Danny Hebert, that's me. Union man. Well, specifically the Head of Hiring for the whole damn lot. It's actually a fairly difficult job in that I oversee more than just the hiring. I find jobs, put people to work, make sure dues, or what people can afford for dues, are collected, and keep the gangs from screwing with me and mine. The reason I hadn't stepped back from it after my wife's death? It gave me something to keep my mind on instead of wallowing in pity for myself and, more importantly, I needed to support Taylor.
  907.  
  908. Taylor. A parahuman, or was it paracat now?
  909.  
  910. Even before she'd gotten to my office I'd been keeping a close eye-on her. I didn't want to come across as a hovering parent but I was a little paranoid after what happened to Annette and I kept a close tab on Taylor. Her safety was paramount to me and I'd do a hell of a lot to make sure she stayed safe. When I saw, well, I didn't really see it myself, what was going on, I was almost out of my office to go deal with some people before the locker was off its hinges and my daughter was walking out with an air of annoyed calm. So when she got to my office, I wasn't surprised to see she had changed. I should've probably acted a bit more surprised but mostly I was just relieved that she was okay, and sane.
  911.  
  912. Okay, so, the cat features were a surprise. I might keep a close tab on her but not that close. The blue hair, done up in different curls and colours, the ears with earrings attached, and the tail weaving back and forth behind her? It was a little shocking.
  913.  
  914. So. I'd been mostly hands off the past couple of years. I hadn't been paying as much attention to her as I should've been. I should've been on the ball much more than I had been. I hadn't known about any bullying because Taylor seemed like herself whenever I saw her and whenever I checked in on her. I managed to choke back the wave of guilt and the flash of depression that smothered me by trying to explain things to her about Capes. The knowledge I was espousing wasn't that hard to come by but my daughter could be a little clueless about some things.
  915.  
  916. To busy being distracted by her own stubbornness. Like Father like Daughter.
  917.  
  918. When I asked her about the Wards, she refused the idea flat out. So I told her a white lie. Well, a part of one. Annette didn't trust the Wards, the PRT, or the Protectorate because of her time under Lustrum. I didn't trust them for much more personal reasons. That and they're government sanctioned with government oversight. That puts a damper on a lot of things right there.
  919.  
  920. Of course, all that had to be interupted by Blackwell. Scion, she's still such a bitch. She hasn't changed a damn bit over the years, and with what she'd been saying to me over the phone? I resolved to have a much better look into things, to take more of an eye into what exactly Taylor had been doing and going through. Of course, this also meant breaking my word to a few certain people.
  921.  
  922. Fuck. I really was going to have to do that, wasn't I?
  923.  
  924. Mind you, since it came to Taylor? I don't give a damn if it means breaking my word if it keeps her safe and sane.
  925.  
  926. Though, when Taylor asked about triggers, I lied again. Though, this time it was a fair bit more blatantly and I knew she could tell my answer to that line of questioning was off.
  927. Taylor was my last link and I refused to let some scum-sucking parasite hurt my daughter.
  928.  
  929. And when she asked I told her exactly what I would've done. Take every advantage of the situation. She was never there so someone else ruined her locker. Why else would she be in my office at this time of day if she hadn't been sick?
  930.  
  931. So I worked on some paperwork while my beloved daughter had decided to browse the internet to learn a more broad selection of things that wouldn't be tainted by my biased opinion. Of course I had to leave here and there to get things sorted. I wasn't going to be overt with her just sitting there and there was no way in hell I wasn't going to keep her under a more watchful eye. Of course, the weather didn't help. January wasn't exactly the best time of year for this, especially on the East Coast. Of course, things had been different since Newfoundland had sunk.
  932.  
  933. Then the Merchants started to show up.
  934.  
  935. Stupid fucking idiots, the lot of them.
  936.  
  937. I'd only have about three hours or so to work on things without being blatant enough to clue Taylor it. It hadn't been enough time to deal with the Merchants that were showing up in force. Now capes at all though, which was even more stupid. Skidmark usually kept a better handle on the members of the gang. Did they think raiding the union would get them anything of value?
  938.  
  939. I'd have to remind Skidmark to not touch things that were out of bounds.
  940.  
  941. Dealing with the Merchants had been easy, Taylor just took all of their attention and then she just as easily dropped them all. But watching Taylor get shot like that? I didn't like it at all. Apparently I would have to do more than give Skidmark a reminder.
  942.  
  943. Fact was? I wanted to punch someone's face in.
  944.  
  945. The first person to shoot Taylor got a swift kick to the stomach, not enough to maim the man, but enough to show my displeasure and to have a few words with the fool. Then I kicked him hard enough in the face to knock him back out again. Maybe worse. I'd stopped caring at that point.
  946.  
  947. I'd almost lost my daughter.
  948.  
  949. No.
  950.  
  951. I wasn't going to put up with this kind of shit again.
  952.  
  953. It was bad enough when the BBB gutted the Marche after putting Marquis away. Oh Marquis wasn't a good man by any stretch of the means, he was a ruthless, murdering asshole. However, he kept the peace for civilians. He would've torched the Merchants down to the last. Now though? The Empire didn't give a rat's ass despite all their words to the contrary and Lung probably wouldn't piss on a man even if they were on fire unless they were both beholden to him or Asian.
  954.  
  955. I had his doubts about Kaiser's beliefs too, having seen the man plenty of times over the years. AllFather was a Nazi through and true. Iron Rain was as well. Kaiser though? I'm pretty sure the man just didn't give enough fucks, content to the be the major power in the city and to stalemate everyone else. Of course, being a rich asshole and a CEO of the local Big-Pharma probably helped.
  956.  
  957. So I let her go off and experiment after dealing with Miss Militia. Not without being watched though, I wasn't making that mistake again. I kept Taylor under constant supervision, sure I was probably being a little paranoid but I was her Father.
  958.  
  959. Father to a gunslinging cat-girl who took out a bunch of E88 mooks. God.
  960.  
  961. "Annette, what am I going to do about her?" I asked to the ceiling of our living room. I had brought home one of my work laptops just so I could keep an eye on PHO while cleaning the house. The forum for Brockton Bay was lighting up because Taylor was riding around on a giant yellow chicken thing and letting people take pictures.
  962.  
  963. Pictures.
  964.  
  965. The sheer idea of non-Protectorate cape doing that still seemed off to me. Of course I had heard of Parian, but the girl was a walking advertisement as a cape.
  966. And now my daughter was showing off for whatever reason.
  967.  
  968. Yup. A shitty fucking day.
  969.  
  970. Taylor had gotten home, I'd almost grounded her then and there, that fight with Uber of all people? I wasn't happy and I was worried, and my paranoia was growing. But then we hashed things out and she'd gone to bed...and I'd been sitting on the couch ever since.
  971.  
  972. "I don't know what to do." I muttered to myself. I'd been rudderless since I lost Annette. But Taylor needed me. She needed her Father to be the man he should be.
  973.  
  974. So I lost myself in my powers for the first time since before Taylor was born. I could feel the bugs swarming in the air at my outer reaches, trying to survive in the winter in little heated spaced. Then I could feel the rats in their holes in the ground. Then I could feel the birds in the air and on the streets, as they scavenged for food, then cats and dogs prowling the streets, much like the birds...and finally I could feel my neighbours, drifting off to sleep. I could feel the world coming alive around me, I could take in their senses, I could use them to see, to speak. I controlled all within my domain. The less complex the creature, the further out I could control.
  975.  
  976. I had always used his powers to keep track of things. Since I triggered from one of Lustrum's gang members. I'd been paranoid, trying to keep Annette safe after the gang had turned violent, and after that was dealt with, I've been using my control to ward off gangs from taking over the docks. But that was small things, minor bits here and there.
  977. Of course, that was before my daughter got superpowers.
  978.  
  979. I'm one of those scary capes that the Protectorate warned people about, and I promised the hero's that I wouldn't kick up a fuss. On one of those earlier moments back in the office, I made sure to check my old rating, see if they had changed it over the years. Still Master 9. They didn't know my full range, or how insidious my power actually was. I didn't assume automatic control, meaning people didn't just stop what they were doing when they were within my sphere of influence, but at anytime, I could make them do whatever I want. It was like moving an arm in that sense.
  980.  
  981. It was a horrible power that could be abused in so many wrong ways
  982.  
  983. The one upshot to this day?
  984.  
  985. Taylor was flat immune to me now. I couldn't control her one bit, and the sheer sense of relief at that? It was like I had been holding the weight of the world on my shoulders and now I no longer was.
  986.  
  987. I guess this meant Administrator was back in business.
  988.  
  989. I think I'd leave Skidmark for the Protectorate with my calling card.
  990.  
  991. No one threatens my daughter and gets away with it.
  992.  
  993. No one.
  994.  
  995. **********
  996.  
  997. Author's Notes:
  998.  
  999. So. I'm not really back. I've been sitting on this for a while, updating maybe a dozen or so words here and there, but it was done in third person and I didn't like it at all until I started to re-write it as first just last night. I finished it up just a few minutes before posting this with a few addons here and there.
  1000.  
  1001. So, yes, this is a thing.
  1002.  
  1003. I'm sure I'm gonna get some flak for it, but hey. I'ma abuse the hell out of that AU/Fusion tag up there.
  1004.  
  1005. Danny triggered while dating Annette. She'd been injured by one of Lustrum's gang members after months of tormenting the two of them for their relationship. The couple had thought the gang had finally stopped, but they were attacked while out on a date. With this version of the shard though, it wasn't broken and Danny was it's first choice of hosts, unlike in Canon where he passed from him to Taylor and became our beloved QA.
  1006.  
  1007. No, Danny can't control absolutely every living thing in his sphere of diminishing returns, he needs to 'switch' between types, but that is pretty damn fast without any cooldown. Of course, he can't set and forget either. He needs to actively continue to control, its just he can keep that up and continue on with what he's doing if he wants.
  1008.  
  1009. As for my next post? Well, it won't be for a while either. I still don't have much time for writing still but right now my days off are pretty standard so, here's hoping?
  1010.  
  1011.    #612
  1012.  
  1013. My eyes snapped open and I bounced up and out of bed, my eyes snapping to the mirror on my dresser. Well, there was my new haircut alright. All the changes Jandelaine had put in had shifted with me. Light, that was something I should probably look into. Was an instant snap over? I mean, I spent a few days over there...and about eight hours have passed.
  1014.  
  1015. Damn.
  1016.  
  1017. It was almost 8 AM so I pre-empted my alarm clock and turned it off so I wouldn't have to deal with the buzzing. That'd probably be annoying as hell with my slightly enhanced hearing. Something to check once I got the chance.
  1018.  
  1019. Speaking of something to check, I tilted my head a little to the side. "Hello?" I tried to use my Linkpearl to talk to Thancred again. Waiting for a response. Nope. Nothing. Damn. Which was real damn odd all things considered. Was it the Black Aether that Midgardsormr had mentioned? Some other kind of interference?
  1020.  
  1021. So, the Linkshell it was connected to couldn't be reached, but this is why I got a few for here.
  1022.  
  1023. I walked over to my desk, pulling the ones I bought and setting them down. They'd look good there honestly. The crests on them made it look like they were just seashells I'd collected and painted. Hiding in plain sight, right?
  1024.  
  1025. It was something a normal teenage girl would have. They did look nice too.
  1026.  
  1027. But they were probably better if they were kept on me.
  1028.  
  1029. "Damn." I mumbled to myself, sighing a little as I picked them back up, putting two of them back into my pockets. It was kind of a relief that I had all of my stuff even if I didn't quite understand the temporal mechanics behind it. I'd picked up a Linkshell for me and Dad, the second for me and Thancred. I really wasn't sure what I was going to do with my third one.
  1030.  
  1031. It was just in case. For those emergency situations I always seemed to bumble into. Or if I came across someone I knew that wasn't Thancred. Which, while unlikely, wouldn't be that surprising now.
  1032.  
  1033. I made my way from my bedroom, down the stairs and to the kitchen. Dad was already at the table with a cup of coffee while reading a newspaper. "Morning, Dad." I called out, standing on the other-side of the table.
  1034.  
  1035. He folded up the paper, setting it down as he looked at me, "Morning Taylor." He looked at my hair for a moment, his lips quirking into a weird smile and frown at the same time. "New haircut?"
  1036.  
  1037. "Uh, yeah. I wanted something more towards my natural colour. Since this is real and all." I ran my fingers through it, twirling a finger around one of the dark red-highlights that were peppered throughout. "What do you think?"
  1038.  
  1039. "It looks good Taylor." He said with a smile before sipping his coffee. There was a further frown but that was directed at his drink instead of me. I smiled brightly at that as I set down the one Linkshell I was holding, pulling out two of the Linkpearls from it. "And what's this?" He asked.
  1040.  
  1041. I held them both up between my thumb and index finger before putting it down on the table in front of him. "This is a Linkshell," I motioned with the hand holding them towards the Linkshell, "and these are Linkpearls. They connect to each other via the Linkshell for communication across vast areas. They're kind of like a cellphone." His scowl at the dread c-word was pronounced so I hasted to finish explaining. "Like one of those bluetooth things." I handed over the small Linkpearl, it nothing more than the size of a single bead.
  1042.  
  1043. "Alright," he huffed quietly, I could tell he was bemused over the idea of it. "How do they work?"
  1044.  
  1045. "Well, I got this one for me an you. You just think about talking to me and really that's all there is to it. Some people use them to talk out loud like we're doing right now, or to just think at someone and talk mentally." I continued to explain.
  1046.  
  1047. "Talk mentally?" Dad asked, eying the Linkpearl. "Like telepathy then."
  1048.  
  1049. "Yup." I thought at Dad. Huh. He didn't outwardly react, did he get what I said?
  1050.  
  1051. "And I just think at you?" Dad asked more leadingly and still out loud.
  1052.  
  1053. "Well, kind of." I continued mentally. "There's a few functions of a Linkshell. I prefer to use it like this instead of out loud so I don't look weird talking out loud to no one."
  1054.  
  1055. "Instead you're just looking weird normally, huh?" Dad shot across the Linkpearl with a sly undertone to his voice.
  1056.  
  1057. "Cute." I stuck my tongue out at him after answering verbally. "These are for communication, you can't read my thoughts or vice versa...The Linkshell does produce more Linkpearls buy they're kind of an all inclusive thing. Every Linkpearl that come from this Linkshell would be connected. So, right now it's just the two of us, but if I we were to give out a third Linkpearl from it, then it would be all three of us."
  1058.  
  1059. Dad nodded slowly, still holding onto his Linkpearl while I slipped mine into my bag with the rest of them. "And it just needs to be on my person, I don't need to be touching it?"
  1060.  
  1061. "Right. And you'll be able to tell who's talking to you too, it was my voice after all." That wasn't to say I didn't have my own bonus tricks of knowing who exactly was using a Linkpearl to talk to me."
  1062.  
  1063. "So you picked this up because of my complaint last night, huh?" He asked more to himself than to me but I did not to his quieter voice. "Thank you, Taylor."
  1064.  
  1065. "Of course Dad," I smiled as I rounded the table and hugged him. I paused halfway from pulling back and looked down at his coffee cup. My nose wrinkled in disgust. Ugh. What kind of swill was he drinking? I rounded back to the my side of the table, pulling out a plate of Wildwood Scrambled Eggs for my own breakfast, and then two cups of Triple Cream Coffee, sliding one to Dad. "If you're going to drink Coffee, at least have something good." I said blandly as I sat down to eat my self pre-prepared breakfast. "It's not my best, but it'll do." It was a little early in the day for Heavenly Eggnog, especially with the way I make it.
  1066.  
  1067. Dad chuckled at that as he looked down at the Coffee and then back at me. "So, what're your plans for the day?"
  1068.  
  1069. "Uh, I need to get down to the PRT headquarters to register," I said between swallowing and eating more food. "I also need to find Uber and get him a Linkshell because our normal one isn't working. Need to get a new PHO account for my Cape stuff..." I trailed off, still eating my eggs and then sipping my coffee "Know anyone that wants an aquarium? I've got this huge one I need to unload."
  1070.  
  1071. "Sorry kid," Dad said, obviously not sorry as he enjoyed his new coffee. "And what else?"
  1072.  
  1073. "Uh, dunno?"
  1074.  
  1075. "...What about school?"
  1076.  
  1077. "Fuck the school."
  1078.  
  1079. "Language."
  1080.  
  1081. "English."
  1082.  
  1083. I stuck my tongue out at that and Dad actually laughed. I figured I was pushing it with that, but with the way he called Blackwell a bitch yesterday, I figured it was kind of a safe thing to do. And...just shooting the breeze with Dad was kind of enjoyable and very refreshing. Having Dad back was...it just felt so very good.
  1084.  
  1085. "Well, you're sick again today." Dad said rather blandly. "I called into the school already and I'll be looking into some stuff for you to see if I can just pull you right out of it." Huh. Go Dad. "I'll need to talk to some people. It'll be a little bit expensive I'm sure but it's nothing I can't handle."
  1086.  
  1087. "Yeah, I do need to make some money." I grimaced. "I could have ten large if I could just sell this damn aquarium." I groused. Dad chuckled a little at my tone as he finished his coffee then watched in amazement as the cup just disappeared into Aether once he was truly done it. I finished up my eggs and then my own coffee, the plates disappearing as if by magic. Heh. "I'll uh, need to actually buy a cellphone." I winced at saying the c-word a second time.
  1088.  
  1089. Dad scowled again before nodding in defeat. "I'll pick up a couple for us on my way home from work and a bluetooth headset for myself so I can just pretend I'm using that to call your or for you to talk to me while I'm in public or something." Yeah, that was kind of a good idea actually. "The PRT may or may not give you one for specific cape usage. if so, it'll probably have a tracker and a few other odds and ends on it." He looked me straight in the eye. "If they give you one, don't use it until I have someone I know look at it, alright?"
  1090.  
  1091. Jeeze, Dad. Paranoid much? Then again, paranoia has saved my ass a few times...
  1092.  
  1093. "Alright. I promise. Unless I really need to use it...if I get one. if it has internet access, I'll probably use that for my PHO posting though and for calling in stuff. It's easier than waiting for Velocity or some other Cape to show up to deal with the idiots I'll be putting down." Of course, that depending on the given definition of put down.
  1094.  
  1095. Dad nodded at that, looking a little bit more relaxed than I had seen him in a while. "Anything else come to mind?"
  1096.  
  1097. "I think once I can make some money I'll be looking into getting a laptop for myself, and we'll need some better internet here." I nodded myself, feeling a little more resolute in my plans for the day.
  1098.  
  1099. "And there's the rub, making money. " Dad said sardonically. "Now, you can obviously make it as a chef but that's kind of demanding and has, pardon my french, piss poor hours. You said you were a Culinarian, and I've seen you use that blue light show to do different things, but what else can you do?" I couldn't help but laugh at the bit about being a chef. Oh, it was so damn true when it came to being demanding, then again, all of my Jobs were like that and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  1100.  
  1101. "Well you saw me as a Culinarian last night, like you said, and I have a handful of other jobs were I've got similar skill levels." I counted off the different Disciples of the Land. "I'm also an Alchemist, Armourer, Goldsmith, Leatherworker, Blacksmith, Weaver, and Carpenter." The last two of those would probably net me the most actual work and money in a modern day society. Though, a Goldsmith would be pretty damn good too if I found the right supplies. "And before you ask, the Aquarium is part of my Carpentry work." The damn thing was taller than I was.
  1102.  
  1103. Praise the Light of Hydaelyn for Aether size manipulation and magical movement when it came to placing and displacing the monstrosity I had made.
  1104.  
  1105. Dad nodded again, rubbing his chin in thought as he did, still holding onto his Linkpearl in his free hand too. "And what kind of theme does it run with? Most Tinkers have a specialization, I'm assuming you sort of have the same thing with the outfits you've been in."
  1106.  
  1107. "Magical High Fantasy," I shrugged, not bothering to correct him about the Tinker thing. I mean, anyone could do what I did after all. I just was...better and faster at than most. Not all of course, I was still learning new things here and there. "I am a magical catgirl after all." I spun up from my chair, a blue flash of Light as I swapped from my still unequipped state to one of my modified sets. It was pink and frilly and completely out of the norm of something Taylor Hebert would ever wear, and that's why Lyse, Y'shtola and Minfilia made me get the glamor crystal for it. Ifrit-Egi also appeared in a flash of fire, spinning with a growl as I struck a pose, a sideways peace sign in front of one side of my face, my hip cocked out, and the finishing touch the cheesiest smile I could maintain on my lips.
  1108.  
  1109. I'd studied hard by watching Hildibrand's many hilarious reactions to things.
  1110.  
  1111. I held it for all of three seconds before I bust up laughing getting Dad to laugh with me too. While he was busy I flicked my gaze upwards just for an instance.
  1112.  
  1113. This was a nice start to a morning.
  1114.  
  1115. At that moment, it felt as if everything was going to be okay.
  1116.  
  1117. But...why was Dad's title Administrator?
  1118.  
  1119. **********
  1120.  
  1121. Author's Note:
  1122.  
  1123. That was a pain and a half to re-write and I'm still not happy with anything that wasn't my first draft. It flowed better, but I got the same sticking points I wanted for this.
  1124.  
  1125. As I have an extra day off for whatever reason tomorrow, I'm going to put some work into 2.7 and continue to go on with these seemingly slice of life slow roll shenanigans. Am I allowed to say shenanigans like that? I hope I don't get shot.
  1126.  
  1127. Next up: The Rig, a PHO account, and more Thancred/Uber goodness. Probably not all at once, but hey, here's hoping!
  1128.  
  1129. (And trying to come up with a name for 3.0. That's being a right pain.)
Parsed in 0.585 seconds