After fleeing the area, they eventually made it into the city proper.
Hanta City was spread thinly along the coast, with an esplanade paving the way from one end of the city to the other. Benches, picnic tables, and entertainment areas dotted the thin strip of perfectly trimmed grass that acted as a break between the sand and the city. While shopfronts, small businesses, and tourist traps lined the road facing the beach.
It was a massive change from Setalite City—the densely packed mega-city would have towered over just about every building he could see here.
Loren and Alicia had already returned to visibility, but the Cube itself remained a small distortion in the air, hovering just behind his head and mostly out of sight.
“Marionette is able to control hundreds of wire-like threads that when telekinetically attached to an object, will usurp most forms of an existing control,” Cube said, “The objects her wires interact with have also shown to develop some degree of animation.”
“That’s a weird power,” Alicia mumbled, frowning. “What’s the rationale behind that one being on the list?”
“Footage of the original fight against Starsealer showcased seventy-three powers involving summoning, generating, or levitating small to large objects, creatures, or constructs.” Cube said, “Some of these were shown to act independently, while others were used as projectiles, or to restrict movement in the area. Usurping control over these expressions will hamper her ability to control the battlefield.”
“We aren’t building to kill her outright,” Loren said in understanding, “We’re building a skillset that dismantles large portions of her own.”
“Correct,” Cube said.
“What happens if Marionette notices us and gets one of her wires on you?” Alicia said quietly, addressing the Cube.
Loren stopped dead on the sidewalk, stunned—Alicia stopped with him, bringing her arm up to her chest in a clear sign of nervousness.
“Cube—” Loren started.
“I have not considered this,” Cube admitted, “One moment, please.”
The three of them remained in place on the footpath as the cars drove past them.
“Caution is advised.” Cube decided.
“No shit,” Loren said, alarmed. “Just—shit, okay. Once we find her, you need to make sure she doesn’t find you, okay?”
“Of course,” Cube said.
That wasn’t the super reassuring answer he was hoping for.
“That means no calling out your ninja techniques,” Loren continued, starting to walk forward again. “Not even a ‘Just as planned,’ got it?”
“Very well.” Cube agreed.
Loren stared at the Cube—it was acting way too nonchalant after missing such an obvious problem.
“And avoid the fucking threads, okay?” Loren added, exasperated.
“As you wish,” Cube said, “Turn right here.”
Loren turned right, and Alicia kept in step beside him as they turned off the esplanade. The city steadily climbed in elevation from the beachfront up, and their chosen road stretched almost that entire distance.
“It’s a pretty place,” Alicia said quietly.
“Yeah,” Loren admitted. “How do you even keep your identity safe in a place this small? You’d think everyone knows everyone already.”
“It’s strange.” Alicia said, “Forty-thousand people is not a lot compared to most cities—but people only tend to know about two hundred others at the high end. It’s possible that almost 400 heroes and villains could exist here, but it would require a great deal of care.”
“Yeah, it would be more difficult for the solos, though,” Loren frowned. “I know that the Hero HQ’s help their members blend in and even scrub incriminating footage sometimes.”
“They do?” Alicia said, surprised, “How do you know that?”
Loren scratched the back of his head for a moment.
“My dad used to work at the Hero HQ in Setalite City, he was usually pretty quiet about work, but sometimes I would catch things,” Loren admitted, searching ahead of them. “He died during the Levima attack—which you wouldn’t know about because you were in the tank, ugh.”
“Sorry,” Alicia mumbled. “What was the Levima attack?”
Loren wondered if she even realized that she was apologizing for being entombed in a torture device.
“Giant spiders,” Loren said, “Thousands of them.”
Alicia was quick to drop the topic after that.
“We are now approaching the villain known as Marionette,” Cube said quietly, “Please remain stationary.”
He came to a stop, turning to face Alicia more fully, and the distortion of the Cube moved to sit level with his chest, Loren’s body mostly between it and a group of three women.
“Have you decided on what you want to do now?” Loren asked, watching Alicia.
A man passed by them, and Loren moved closer to her to free up more of the path for pedestrians to get past them.
“I already told you,” Alicia said. “You just didn’t accept the answer.”
Loren stared down at her.
“Alicia, if you stay with me, you know what’s going to happen,” Loren said, watching her face, “You can’t be my priority right now.”
The three women that were hovering nearby begun talking quietly amongst themselves—a bunch of stickybeaks.
“I don’t care if I’m not your priority,” Alicia said, taking a step closer possible to help hide the Cube. “I’m not going to leave you, Loren—because you didn’t leave me.”
The shortest woman gasped, and the three of them broke into furious whispers. Loren felt his eyelid spasm again—what was this, a fucking soap opera?
“Alicia, this isn’t going to be a casual meeting we’re going to,” Loren said, wary of revealing too much while they had eavesdroppers. “I’m going in hard, and it’s going to happen fast—I can’t stop halfway through to make sure you’re okay.”
“Wow!” The woman with the expensive-looking scarf said, “Did you hear that—”
Loren closed his eyes in prayer as he attempted to wish away his poor choice of wording.
“I know you can’t stop once you get going, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help,” Alicia said, sounding way too amused. “If we finish Alice quickly, we might even have time for Morgan after.”
The idea that they could finish Alice quickly was absurd, but the real absurdity was the god damn word choice.
“Another one?” The woman with the scarf said, bemused.
“That’s three now?” The third woman, with the floppy hat, said hesitantly.
“I told you!” Her other companion said, shocked. “It’s not like it was when we were young—”
Loren stared down at Alicia in exasperation, realizing she was doing it on purpose now—the Cube bumped against his arm, still out of sight of the women behind him. He turned slowly, feeling cube spin the other way, staying between him and Alicia.
“Let’s go somewhere more private,” Loren said, starting forward. “We can’t do anything out here.”
“It’s barely nine!” The short woman yelped, alarmed.
Loren did his best to ignore the flush crawling up his neck and kept his eyes forward. Once they had moved far out of hearing range, the Cube spoke up.
“Telekinetic Strings Replicated.” Cube said, “Construct Usurpation Replicated.”
“Is this the part where you use the strings to free yourself from my control,” Loren said idly, “Before revealing that you were planning on taking over the world all along?”
“Tragically, I cannot use that power on myself.” Cube said, floating along beside him once more. “My plans of world domination must be postponed—just as planned.”
“Uh-huh,” Loren said dryly.
“Was it the lady with the floppy hat?” Loren mumbled, waiting.
“No,” Cube said, extending a single thin wire towards the Automatic Teller Machine. “Kaitlyn Shrew, the woman wearing the scarf is Marionette.”
Figures—The ATM spat out a thin stack of notes, and he slipped the ill-gotten gains into his pocket—Cube retracted its single wire, returning the ATM to its inanimate state.
“Work as intended?” Loren said quietly, crossing the road.
“Yes,” Cube said, “Once connected to an object, a blueprint is added to my database that I am able to interact with.”
“So for Kaitlyn to use it, It would probably appear as a mental pressure that she would then alter or maneuver by thought?” Loren pondered. “Most powers I’ve used that had some kind of external object or limb being moved possessed that kind of mental control—some were just doing their own thing though, like you.”
“Fascinating,” Cube said, “I am unable to accurately detail how a human might interact with this expression, so I will defer to your greater experience in this area.”
Loren didn’t reply; Instead, he opened the door and moved to the counter where Alicia was still standing, looking awkward as she waited for him to return.
“Found my wallet,” Loren said brightly, paying for the food they’d ordered. “Thanks!”
They moved to sit down, and Loren wasted no time in biting a chunk out of his sandwich. Alicia took a very small bite out of her own and savored it, chewing slowly with her eyes closed. It reminded him that she hadn’t eaten anything for two and a half decades.
“Is it good?” Loren said, taking another bite.
Alicia opened her eyes a sliver, watching him quietly.
“It’s good,” Alicia mumbled.
“Who is the next closest target?” Loren said after he’d swallowed.
“The order I originally gave was via proximity, but some of the targets have been moving,” Cube said, hovering just about the table. “The hero, Flicker, is still the closest target to our position, but he is moving west.”
“How fast is he moving?” Loren frowned. “Is he in a car?”
With a name like a Flicker, he might well be out of the city in a few minutes.
“He appears to be walking,” Cube said.
“Then he can wait until we finish eating,” Loren said, returning to his food. “What can he do?”
“Flicker is capable of shooting small sparks of light that attach will to whatever they connect with,” Cube said, “They fade after approximately 17 seconds; but while they are active, they function as a destination for him to appear at.”
“He can teleport to the sparks he fires off?” Loren summarized, “Do they need to be attached to anything to use, or can he teleport to them mid-flight? How fast do the sparks move?”
“Archive footage suggests a maximum speed of 1000 feet-per-second.” Cube said. “Flicker has been seen displacing himself while they were still in transit and unattached.”
“No three-second cooldown?” Loren guessed.
“He has shown several instances of consecutive uses without stopping in between,” Cube said. “A cooldown is unlikely, but the energy costs of Teleportation Expressions are generally high.”
“Is that going to be an issue right now?” Alicia asked quietly, “You said that Gyrate’s expression would work to help you regain energy?”
“Lacking in stamina?” Loren ribbed.
“At my current maximum reserves, and with rapid, simultaneous expression usage,” Cube said, “I estimate I have a staying power of at least two minutes and thirty-four seconds—which is at least twice that of your own, Loren.”
Loren yelped, not expecting the clap back, and Alicia—mid-bite, started laughing into her sandwich.
“Let’s just chill, okay?” Loren said quickly, wiping his own mouth. “We don’t want to say anything we can’t take back, dude.”
“Of course.” Cube said.
Alicia looked about ready to jump in with a comment of her own, so Loren quickly moved the topic back on track.
“Flicker still going west? How long before we need to move?” Loren asked.
“We must leave within two minutes.” Cube said, “Else, he will be further away than the next closest target.”
“You heard the cube, Alicia,” Loren said, taking two big bites out of his sandwich. “Eat it like it’s the first thing you’ve had in twenty-five years.”
Alicia eyed him for a moment but did her best to comply.
Loren had never seen a civilian who was so obviously a superhero before—nobody was that confident otherwise. Cody Killen must have been twenty at most, but the guy was moving all over the mall, stopping to chat with just about everyone, male and female alike.
Flicker was also doing a fair bit of flirting with both; Dark-skinned, just shy of six foot, and rocking a stylish haircut—he seemed to be meeting with quite a bit of success judging by the exchanging of phone numbers that were going on.
The problem was that he never seemed to stay still for more than half a minute—he was going to notice them if they kept on trailing after him.
“Current distance will take fourteen minutes to analyze,” Cube said, barely audible amongst the hundreds of voices. “Please move closer.”
“Not that simple, buddy,” Loren mumbled.
Alicia grabbed him by the hand and started dragging him across the mall, drawing eyes from just about everyone around them. She stopped right next to the jewelry store window, two meters away from Cody.
“They’re so pretty,” Alicia said quietly, looking at the bracelets. “See that one?”
A small silver bracelet of interlocking chain, an older style clasp with the hook on one side—rather plain compared to the stuff surrounding it.
“Yeah,” Loren said, following her finger. “What about it? Sorry, I’m not into buying jewelry on the first date.”
Revenge for the earlier distress she had caused him in front of Marionette and her two friends.
“Stingy,” Alicia said, shaking her head. “I used to have one just like that; Levi bought it for me.”
Loren managed not to wince—maybe one day he’d get an Expression that stopped him from putting his foot in his mouth.
“You two were together, right?” Loren asked quietly.
“Mmhm,” Alicia said, a finger trailing over the glass. “You know, at first, I wondered why he didn’t come to save me, but eventually… well, I thought a lot of things, that’s all I could really do.”
Loren just listened.
“I’m not sure when, but at some point, I started thinking that he was helping them do it,” Alicia swallowed, “Then after that, I started to convince myself that he was dead… when the water started to drain away, I thought for a moment that he’d actually come for me, that he was still alive.”
Then Loren had cruelly dumped the truth on her about the contents of the white pillars.
The finger smudge she’d left on the glass had been a letter, an ‘L’ slanting to one side. Loren didn’t respond—apologizing for not being her dead boyfriend wouldn’t go over well, no matter how sincere he was about it.
“Hey,” A voice said, “I don’t think you’re supposed to touch the glass, you know?”
The two of them turned to find Cody Killen standing here, hands in the pockets of his jacket, holding it open in a carefree gesture.
“Not that it bothers me,” Cody continued, “But now one of the counter chicks will have to come out and clear it.”
Alicia smiled apologetically.
“Net-benefit there; it was our plan all along,” Loren lied, “Alicia here has eyes on the blonde—she was going to try and chat her up.”
Alicia punched him in the arm, and Cody grinned.
“A cunning plan, huh?” Cody laughed, “Well, I’m not a blonde in a pantsuit—but I am present. Can I get your number, Alicia?”
The attention clearly flustered Alicia, and then Cube brushed against his wrist—the job was done.
“I—I don’t even have a phone,” Alicia said.
“Really?” Cody said curiously, “That’s a little bit weird, not gonna lie.”
“I’ll probably buy one soon,” Alicia said quickly, attempting to avoid looking weird to an off-duty hero. “I could take down your number and call you when I get one?”
Loren did his best not to cringe—there was no way the guy would see that as anything but a soft rejection.
“Shut down, huh?” Cody laughed, glancing over Alicia’s shoulder. “No worries, nice talking to you both!”
Alicia spun to watch him approach a group of two boys and three girls; her mouth still open a bit in surprise at his speedy departure. Loren turned back to the entrance of the mall and started walking.
“Positional Marker Replicated,” Cube said, “Marked Displacement Replicated.”
“What was that about?” Alicia said, frowning. “Why did he—why are you laughing?”
Alicia crossed her arms.
“Alicia,” Loren said, lip twitching. “You’ve been gone for a long time, and the dating culture has changed a bit while you were gone.”
“Clearly,” Alicia frowned. “He didn’t even write his number down for me.”
“Cube, plot our next destination,” Loren said. “And read off the definition of a fuckboy while you’re at it.”
“One of our targets has vanished.” Cube said.
“Vanished?” Loren frowned. “Where did they go? Who was it?”
“Unknown destination,” Cube said, “Oscillate vanished from his home twenty-two seconds ago after receiving a phone call.”
“Did you catch what it was about?” Loren wondered.
“I do not recognize the code that was used.” Cube said, “The words exchanged were; Titillate and Ocelot.”
Loren frowned—How would you even titillate an ocelot?
“He might come back—who’s nearest to us now?” Loren said, frowning. “Prickpunch?”
“Prudence is one block away from our current location,” Cube said, “Prickpunch has moved further out of the city.”
“Ugh,” Loren groaned, angling in the direction cube moved.
“What can Prudence do?” Alicia asked.
“The Villain, Prudence possesses an expression that gifts a conditional mental enhancement,” Cube said, “Self-reported to be able to slow her perception of time down dramatically, provided she does not make any attempt to move while it is in use.”
“What’s the benefit here?” Loren said, frowning.
“An increase to your ability to think?” Alicia guessed.
“Precisely,” Cube said. “I am capable of pre-loading functions that will engage automatically; this will allow me far more time to construct those while in battle.”
“How far?” Loren said.
“Twenty-five meters,” Cube said.
Loren spotted a woman with brown hair, watching her reflection in a store window. When they were about ten meters, Cube spoke.
“She is aware of our presence,” Cube said quietly. “Permission to engage?”
“Denied you over-engineered square,” Loren said immediately, “Stand down.”
“I am not a square—” Cube said.
Loren blinked and then stumbled backward as a pen almost stabbed him in the eye—it bounced off a small white circle of kinetic energy that appeared in the air, directly in front of its path. The brown-haired woman had already turned and started walking away.
“Loren?” Alicia said, swallowing.
“Did I just almost die?” Loren said flatly.
“A pen thrown at that speed wouldn’t have been able to penetrate completely through your eye,” Cube said. “However, it would have been extremely painful.”
“Thanks,” Loren said quietly as the woman turned the corner out of sight. “You’ve still got her?”
Loren snatched the pen up off the ground.
“Yes,” Cube said.
He upped his pace, hitting the corner and searching the people moving on both sides
“Cross the street,” Cube said.
Loren stepped off the curb and jogged to the other side, falling in step behind a man in a coat. Alicia caught up a moment later, taking two steps for each of his own.
“The door on your left,” Cube directed.
He turned, moving towards the sliding door for a clothing shop, racks of jeans sat at the front of the store, discounted. Loren searched the room with a glance, but he couldn’t see her. He took a step into the store—
“Stop.” Cube said. “She has left magnetic triplines behind her.”
Loren looked down, and there was an almost invisible wire, with a metal cylinder on one side stuck to the bottom of a clothing rack—the other side had a smaller cylinder attached to the one opposite it.
Scanning the floor revealed three more, placed perfectly that so he wouldn’t have been able to see them from the front of the store without them being pointed out first.
“Permission to engage?” Cube asked again.
“Fine, capture her,” Loren said quietly.
“Engaging.” Cube said.
A wire lanced out the front face of the Cube, branching into five others that disappeared under one of the racks—a pair of woman’s jeans walked past, completely unaided, striding further into the store.
The woman at the front of the store shrieked as she caught sight of the clearly haunted clothing and dove behind the counter. A strangled noise rang out from the store’s back corner, and one of the racks fell over.
Something exploded into smoke, quickly filling the room, and then Cube reeled in the wires, dragging a woman who was doing her best to escape a rather trendy sweater.
“Conditional Perception Enhancement Replicated.” Cube said.
“Get this thing off of me!” Prudence raged, doing her best to tear it up with her hands as the pair of jeans tried to muffle her.
Reeeee I actually managed to break my keyboard somehow, and typing on the one I managed to get my hands on feels all types of weird.
Ladies and gentlemen, the last chapter of Reroll is rapidly approaching us. It should end roughly in chapter 88. So this season will be a bit shorter than the other two. There are two more interludes I want to bang out as well, so they’re incoming before the finale as well. It’s been a ride, and all the comments, reviews, and feedback have helped me grow so much; so thanks to you all.
If you’re enjoying my work, and you’re tearing out your hair, wondering what you could possibly read with no bi-weekly Reroll to look forward to; Contention, the next free web serial will be making an appearance, most likely the week after Reroll finishes. They are unrelated to each other, but you might find something you like in it.
Contention will feature base-building, summoning, survival, magic, monsters, taming, crafting, and a mystery of a world overrun with horrible creatures.
Thank you to all the supporters, on Patreon, on here, and everywhere else, you guys are what is making it possible to keep improving on my passion, and I really appreciate all of you. If you’d like to help support my mission to snap as many elbows as I can get my greasy little mitts on, but aren’t in a place to chip in–you can support me for free as well! Leaving a comment, or a review on any of the other fiction websites I post my content on helps out more than you know.
Keep on keeping on!
Reroll – Season 3, Chapter 81 – Live.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10