Loren’s Apartment, 2:22 AM.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.
He’d died again, Loren thought hollowly, touching his face with his hands.
If that was the kind of thing soldiers had to deal with, he was glad he never enlisted. Being shot in the face had been painful, though not as much as being cut into pieces had, and an entire section of his face had just gone completely numb before he’d passed out.
Loren tried to push the ongoing argument above him out of his mind, but he found himself mouthing the words before each of them spoke. He pressed his fingers into his eyes, just hard enough to focus his attention on the flickering colors that appeared.
What exactly did it mean that the bombs had been protected by defenses like that? Camera’s, more than twenty turrets, strong enough to waste away ten feet of solid concrete in a matter of moments-could normal guns do that?
Loren didn’t think so.
He’d thought it was a single opportunistic attack on the heroes celebration-but with those kinds of resources and automated defenses, it suddenly seemed much more worrying. How long had they been set up down there? It looked like something that would have taken days of work at least-in secret nonetheless–just to remove all the brickwork, route all the cables, set up everything inside the roof of the tunnel.
It could have been down there for months-and nobody had any idea.
Hell, Sparklite, a villain who could sense and control electricity, who had even personally stated to him that she could disable cameras remotely, couldn’t even feel the things when they were only a few feet away.
Whoever had done this was someone with access to advanced technology, ample manpower, and the ability to sneak things into the sewers in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world.
Loren was suddenly feeling entirely out of his depth.
Loren’s Apartment, 5:22 AM.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.
He woke up hours later, although that was a bit too strong of a word, considering he had been tossing and turning since he’d died. Mark would already be dead by now, Emma wouldn’t have a clue until someone told her-or she saw it in the news, and Loren didn’t feel like being the bearer of bad news again.
He closed his eyes again, this time searching himself for any weird feelings-no additional limbs this time, he couldn’t sense anything nearby, he spent a moment trying to vanish his roof again to no avail. There was a strange sensation in his chest, pretty central, and he hesitated for a moment before he mentally tugged on it.
A hand shot out of his chest, clawing around until it got a hand on the bedsheets and then pulled-dragging the rest of a pale white body out. Loren stared at the naked thing in horror, completely frozen at the sudden appearance of a faceless, chalk-white humanoid body staring at him on the bed.
It’s abnormally large phallus flopped around between its legs.
It took almost a minute of silently staring at the thing and waiting to be attacked before he realized it wasn’t moving-not, even breathing. He took a deep but completely silent breath, just in case it was waiting for him to move before it attacked, and then sat up on the bed.
The homunculi stared at him without eyes, completely silent and unmoving.
The feeling in his chest remained in the exact same spot-but now that he had a great deal less adrenaline flooding his body; he found that he could also feel a matching feeling in the direction of the creature’s chest.
He hesitantly reached out with his mind and touched it.
“Oh,” Loren said, surprised.
It was almost like he’d suddenly grow a second body, one that mostly worked on its own except for some small mental nudges.
Get off the bed, Loren thought, and stand by the wall.
The Homunculus slid off the bed with an unnatural grace before striding over to the wall and turning to face him. It moved in the same dangerously smooth manner that he might have expected from some great feline on the discovery channel.
“I can make homunculi?” Loren mumbled.
Slaved automatons that carried out commands and followed direction. The humanoids were rippling with muscle, much more so than Loren’s own more slight frame.
He reached out with his mind and pulled on the sensation in the thing’s chest. Another arm immediately burst out in a display of visceral horror. It slid out onto the ground with a thump before rising to join its brother by the wall, completely identical.
A matching presence in both of their chests.
“How many of these can I make?” Loren said in wonder.
Loren’s Apartment, 7:22 AM.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.
The answer to his question turned out to be; way more than fit in his apartment.
He started to become desensitized to the awful creation process of the homunculi after the first ten clawed their way into existence, and by the time there was no room left anywhere in his apartment, he’d started to enjoy it even.
Loren, the proud mother-who would have thought.
They couldn’t speak, but they could mime things, drawn or write with utensils, about as well as he could. They didn’t seem to have any will of their own other than what he imbued them with-he could set them to perform tasks-complex ones even. There was a trio of the things currently making him breakfast while a third was currently playing Crescendo on his request.
It was pretty fucking weird, though; how they could even move around without any sensory organs-how was the other one even seeing what was going on inside the headset? They didn’t have eyes for fucks sake-it made no sense.
There was also a larger problem that had reared it’s head-He had absolutely no idea how to get rid of them. They didn’t vanish on their own, and it had been two hours since he’d made the first one, he’d tried ordering one of them to disperse, but it just stared at him, apparently unable to comply with his request.
“What the fuck am I suppose to do now?” Loren sighed explosively.
The first thing he’d thought of, with the end of the previous reset set firmly in his mind, was to send them down into the sewers to try and destroy the defenses. There were several problems with that.
The first of which was that these things would draw attention if they went outside.
He could dress one of them up in some of his clothes-he had a face mask around here somewhere as well as a pair of sunglasses-and send it off to the nearest sewer entrance. As long as it was mostly covered, it would pass for a human, albeit an extremely suspicious one.
The second, more worrying problem was that he couldn’t vanish the bombs anymore.
That meant he would have to disarm them-something he had absolutely no fucking idea how to do. Loren was almost entirely sure that If he tried to disable one, it would explode, given the prepared nature of the other defenses.
He could try flooding the streets surrounding the hero’s podium with homunculi, chase everyone away, and evacuate those inside the buildings. Send as many down into the sewers as he could, and then if it exploded, it would only end with property damage and no deaths.
Loren tasked one of the automatons to start getting dressed-a more difficult task than you’d think given the complete lack of room to move. He could try and get in contact with the heroes again, but he’d likely have those assassin’s come after him immediately-once the leak found out about it, at least.
“Focus,” Loren mumbled. “What do you have at your disposal?”
Manpower, essentially. They were capable of everything he could do, likely better given they were more physically capable than a regular human. They could perform complex tasks. How could he use them to solve this problem?
He could write a note, have one of the homunculi take it to the heroes HQ downtown, which would keep him anonymous. He could reveal the location of the bombs, and they wouldn’t have his address.
Loren wouldn’t have Mark to vouch for him this time, though, and they might try to pin him as the bomber, or they might have a way to find him that he hadn’t thought of. They were an organization of people with esoteric superpowers; he couldn’t cover every possibility.
He’d have to take some risk, no matter what he did, but he could try to minimize it at least.
Loren’s Apartment, 9:22 AM.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.
It turned out he could track the homunculi regardless of the distance, and he had some vague sense of what was happening to them. It wasn’t much, more like a barely formed description of their environment.
It let him know that Operation: ‘Go tell the heroes about the bombs in the sewers’ was a go.
His homunculi, Number 47, randomly chosen and marked with his number in black marker on the top of his dome- stepped into the heroes HQ before immediately stopping. He was approached by someone who Loren couldn’t see and was spoken to with words he couldn’t hear.
Whatever was said, Number 47 did what he was supposed to and removed the note from his front shirt pocket before handing it over before folding his arms.
Whoever it was-they took the note, and 47 didn’t move.
Almost a minute past, before the person, said something.
47 still didn’t move.
The note had a detailed breakdown of everything in the sewers and clearly outlined the dangers, so he wasn’t too worried about anyone just popping down for a quick looksie.
He felt like smacking himself in the face when he realized what the problem was. He hadn’t given 47 any directions for after he’d delivered the note-which left the poorly disguised homunculi standing stupidly in the middle of the hero HQ.
The person touched 47 on the shoulder for some reason.
Loren pushed a mental command to Number 47 to leave the building and then focused on Number 11, who was standing on the roof of his apartment building.
Loren had sent 11 up the fire escape earlier, with the instruction of staying hidden. He wanted to figure out what the creatures could actually do with their bodies; they were noticeably more powerful than a human.
Number 11 diligently checked his surroundings for people, and when he found none, he jumped off the roof, aiming for the next building. Loren tracked the signature as it arced into the air and made the jump with ease.
“Fuck yeah.” Loren cackled before checking on 47 again.
He was still standing in the Heroes HQ; although he wasn’t in the same spot, he was further into the building than before.
He sent another command to leave the building; 47 strode over to something substantial before he stepped through it.
“Oh, maybe it was a door?” Loren wondered.
47 suddenly moved to the side at great speed before coming to a stop against another wall, and Loren blinked. Wait, it was in a fight with someone? Why were they attacking him? He was clearly a good guy-well the homunculi probably didn’t look like one but still.
How did he get the person to stop fighting him? Another note!
Loren switched focus to 11, who was still jumping from building to building across the city, whoops he hadn’t told him to stop. He was too far away now to be of any use, so he switched to 9, who was still in the apartment, before sending a mental command to write a letter, explaining the situation and asking them to stop attacking, and sent it on with him.
47’s situation had devolved further by now, as he had been apparently fighting-literally fighting at this point-to complete his last known order, which was to leave the building.
“For fuck sake!” Loren cried in frustration.
It was like playing a video game with an AI teammate who did ‘the thing,’ regardless of whether it was a good idea or not based on the context of the situation. Like when he was trying to catch a monster, and the AI killed it because it was ‘aggressive.’
47 stopped fighting back on his command, but that didn’t seem to solve the issue either because the other participants of the battle were committed at this point. 47 was being ragdolled all over the first floor of the HQ.
Loren could just register flashes of broken walls, shattered windows, and masked people running around. 9 arrived at the HQ and stepped in the front doors holding the note out in front of him like a shield, his big floppy noodle whipping about from the speed of his movement; he hadn’t had the presence of mind to make it put on clothes first.
9 was almost immediately attacked by several other heroes; Loren couldn’t fucking believe it.
Loren’s Apartment, 5:22 PM.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.
Loren checked on the two homunculi that were now sitting peacefully in what he presumed was a containment cell underneath the HQ. Nothing had changed, and nobody had come back into ‘talk’ to them for an hour or so.
The fact that Number 11, who was still doing parkour at the time, was killed soon after made him extremely nervous. The last group that had been in the cell with them had done something to the both of them; he wasn’t sure what exactly, but it had muddied the connection between Loren and those two.
He’d been slowly sending more of the homunculi out of his apartment all day; there were only three left now; the rest were set to hiding all over the city, with instructions to simply run away if they were attacked.
Which brought Loren back to the present, where 16, 17 and 18, were hiding inside an abandoned ice cream truck-bright pink if you needed to know-and were now under attack.
“How do you keep finding them?” Loren groaned.
He sent the last three homunculi in his apartment out the window and in different directions. The heroes were tracking them somehow and apparently killing them without bothering to ask any questions.
He was in a shitty situation now.
He could keep some with him for protection-which might let them track them straight to his apartment, or he could leave himself completely undefended but hopefully invisible to whatever method they were using.
There was a noise in his bedroom, and he froze as something gripped the back of his neck.
“Don’t move,” Sparklite said quietly.
“Emma?” Loren blinked, “Why are you in my apartment?”
“How do you know my name, Loren?” Emma hissed at the sound of her name.
Loren was getting really, really sick of answering that question.
“I’ve known you were Sparklite for years; it’s a thing,” Loren sighed in frustration. “Why are you in my apartment?”
“What were those white things that have been in here all day?” Emma said quietly, hand still resting on the back of his neck tightly.
How did she even know about them? Was she actively spying on him as well? What the hell?
“Are you spying on me?” Loren said incredulously. “You’re totally a stalker! Holy shit, I can’t believe I have a creepy villain stalker!”
“I’m not a stalker!” Emma said quickly, “Listen! I can feel the Bioelectricity inside people, and there was a suspicious amount of those things in here. I’ve seen them leaving the window all day-and; there are news reports about them attacking the heroes HQ.”
“That’s bullshit! I didn’t attack them!” Loren said, shocked. “I sent one of them to the HQ with a note about a bunch of explosives and automated turrets I found in the sewers! They wouldn’t let my guy leave, and they turned it into a fight-it was totally their fault for trying to force him to stay there.”
“Explosives? Turrets?” Emma said wearily. “Where?”
“Under the heroes podium,” Loren said, annoyed, “Can you let me go now, you creepy ass stalker-girl?”
Emma did let him go, surprisingly enough.
“I’m not a stalker!” Emma insisted quickly.
“You literally just admitted to watching me with your ‘Bioelectricity,’ nonsense!” Loren pressed, “How often do you do that, huh? Totally a stalker!”
Emma opened her mouth for a moment before closing it.
“Loren!” Emma whined. “I can’t turn it off! How did you find out who I was? Maybe you’re the stalker!”
“I saw you climbing up the fire escape one night,” Loren said immediately, “Normal people don’t keep tabs on people when there sleeping or showering, you creep!”
Emma’s face was flushed in what could only be a combination of frustration and embarrassment. Loren couldn’t help but feel his mood lighten at sight; she was bizarrely easy to stir up.
“Don’t call me that!” Emma cried in outrage. “When did you get powers?”
Loren stood up carefully and turned around to face her more fully; she made no move to attack him, so he felt he was in the clear.
“Why don’t you tell me how you got yours, you creepy ass.” Loren quipped, smirking. “Since I’m apparently living rent-free in your head! What did you do? Stick a fork in a socket?”
She gaped at him in disbelief.
“Shut up!” Emma said helplessly, unable to formulate a response.
“You shut up, weirdo.” Loren said, bemused, “This is my apartment; I’ll say whatever the hell I want. Why did you come here, anyway? Especially if you thought I was some kind of evil maniac.”
Sparklite tugged her mask off, letting her blonde hair fall around her shoulders; her face was completely flushed.
“Well, I wanted to know if you were going to be one of those extinction events or something,” Emma admitted, brushing the hair out of her face. “The news didn’t exactly paint you in a good light.”
“Aww, that’s adorable,” Loren crooned, “You little hero you!”
“Loren!” Emma said indignantly. “Stop making fun of me!”
“I don’t want to hear that from the girl who just broke into my apartment and attacked me!” Loren said incredulously.
What the hell went on in this woman’s head?