“Loren,” Cube spoke, “I must advise caution in regards to Flume.”
Loren sent a glance over to the floating blur—it was the first time it had warned him about any of them.
“I’m going to need you to expand on that,” Loren said, frowning. “You never said anything about caution with the others—even Marionette.”
He’d always had a pretty good breadth of knowledge on the names and faces of heroes and villains—Flume, however, was someone he’d never heard of before.
“Marionette could be considered low-threat outside of her ability to usurp control; she has gone out of her way to avoid injuries and deaths in the past.” Cube said, “Flume, however, is a special case.”
“A special case?” Alicia wondered.
“While creating the shortlist you requested, I performed a background check on each of the potential targets in Hanta City,” Cube continued, “Some are newly enhanced, others have no visible history or at least nothing to tie them to their civilian identities.”
“Okay,” Loren frowned, turning down the side street.
He could see where the city slanted all the way down to the beach and the water that spread out without end—he swallowed; it reminded him far too much of Antaeus.
“Flume, however, is known publically as a hero but is unaffiliated with any of the organizations you would expect,” Cube said, “His history is that of a professional soldier, with extensive combat experience; however If I am correct, he has been responsible for seven deaths in the last six months.”
“Are you saying he’s a serial killer?” Alicia said quietly, “Who did he kill?”
“Each of Flumes victims was a villain within one-hundred miles of Hanta City.” Cube said, “Footage has shown minor, but anomalous water activity in the vicinity of each of the victims, matching the timestamps during each of these murders, Flume was missing for every single one.”
“You’re sure it was him?” Loren said, “What was the cause of death?”
“The cause of death for each of the victims was a single entry wound in the back of the head,” Cube spoke, “When an autopsy was performed, they discovered no exit wound nor any form of foreign body.”
“Okay, now I’m starting to get worried.” Loren frowned. “What are his powers?”
“Flume is able to absorb large quantities of water to augment both his physical movements, and increase his density and durability in a multiplicative way,” Cube said, “He is extremely fast, both on land and in water, and depending on how much water he has absorbed, essentially indestructible.”
“Any suggestions for getting close enough to copy his power?” Loren asked.
The blob of bent space that was hiding the Cube from sight bobbed in the air as they moved back towards the beachfront.
“Do not approach while he is at the public swimming pool,” Cube said.
Loren almost rolled his eyes—they could leave the soldier for last.
“Then we’re going after Malaise?” Alicia asked.
“It’s another name I’ve never heard of,” Loren admitted.
“Malaise has no history within public view, her civilian identity, one Marianne Wilt does have several violent criminal acts associated with it,” Cube explained. “There is a single online conversation between Marianne and two other local women that have since been deleted. In it described a meeting place, and a name chosen for each of the participants.”
“So they’re a team?” Alicia asked. “Malaise was obviously one of the names chosen; what were the other two?”
“Near, and Contempt.” Cube revealed, “Malaise was the only one to indicate that she had an active expression, but it can be assumed that all three may have access to their own.”
“What was the power?” Loren asked.
“Malaise revealed that she could temporarily render a target blind, deaf, and mute.” Cube said, “The scope and mechanism by which she accomplishes this is unknown.”
Their power coverage was growing; construct denial, physical augmentation, mobility, multiple defenses, several offensive options, and a defense breaker; Having access to sensory deprivation would only add to that arsenal—Loren was starting actually to think they could win this.
“Are the other two with her?” Alicia asked.
“Yes, although they are in civilian attire,” Cube answered.
“Let’s not waste any time then.” Loren nodded.
Despite the city’s low population, the beachfront had a lot of foot traffic, even considering it was only a Tuesday. The pathway that separated the street from the beach itself was wide and made from smooth concrete.
Multiple paths broke off into stylistic displays of paving, and some areas had statues, monuments, and stone artwork on display, most likely created by locals—a lot of which was also covered in graffiti.
All of this apparently made it the perfect place to skateboard.
“It should be noted that one of our previous targets has a familiar connection to Near.” Cube said.
Loren was about to ask which one when Alicia spoke.
“It’s Prudence,” Alicia said quietly.
Loren spotted three young women, perhaps in their late teens or early twenties, with a pair of skateboards sitting against the base of one of the statues. It was obvious once he’d seen their faces—one of them was the spitting image of Prudence, only a couple of years younger.
“Correct,” Cube said, “Near and Prudence are siblings.”
“Does that mean their powers are similar?” Alicia murmured, voice low as they got closer. “Near—”
Loren stumbled and managed to brace himself as he was suddenly pulled forward by an unseen force. Alicia, however, sped past him, not at all ready and moving twice as fast as he was. Three frantic steps later, she fell, landing face down on the concrete before being dragged the rest of the way.
Loren began to slide forward across the concrete, barely managing to stay upright.
“Taking Defensive Measures,” Cube said.
Wires lashed out in every direction, sinking into the pavement, the dirt, grabbing onto trees—they were all pulled taunt before immediately snapping as the pull continued unabated.
Loren saw the white shield of Antaeus wash over him and pushed his foot down into the concrete for purchase. The concrete shattered beneath his foot, but the pull didn’t even slow down as his feet gouged twin trenches in the ground.
Alice had stopped struggling entirely—her posture was strange, like she’d been frozen mid-position and could not move from it. Loren felt a growing sense of resistance to his movements as he was drawn closer. The Cube did not attempt to remove them from the situation via teleportation, either unable or unwilling.
Loren came to a stop, standing knee-deep in the concrete mess, directly in front of the girl that looked like Prudence.
“Wow, I was expecting the wires, but what this white stuff?” Near said, shocked, speaking to the other two. “He destroyed the path—”
“You destroyed it technically—it looks like a shield of some kind,” Malaise said, keeping her arms folded. “There’s something in the air next to his head—that the thing she was talking about?”
Malaise stepped forward and placed her hand on the floating space, and a spark of light flickered across the invisible surface before Cube faded into view.
“Looks like it,” Near shrugged. “Can you get him through the shield?”
Malaise reached out with her other hand, placing it on the white energy, before frowning.
“Nope,” Malaise said, “It doesn’t count apparently, not even contact—Connie?”
The girl names Connie stepped forward, anger clear on her face.
“Don’t call me that while we have enemies standing right there, dumbass,” Contempt snapped, glaring at the other girl.
“Sorry!” Malaise huffed.
Contempt stopped right in front of him before glaring down—Loren felt the world darkening, and the woman began to grow, her face accentuated by harsh shadows, her eyes gleamed with a menacing light—
“Inexorable Pull Replicated, Proximity Paralysis Replicated,” Cube spoke, “Touch of Sensory Deprivation Replicated. Contemptuous Gaze Replicated. Size Manipulation Replicated.”
Loren realized that she wasn’t growing—he was shrinking, and his ass hit the undamaged concrete between the trenches his feet had made.
“It just stole our powers!” Contempt snapped. “How is it still talking?”
“I don’t know—my power is still active!” Malaise said quickly. “It shouldn’t even be able to see—”
“Host Indisposed, Engaging.” Cube said.
Exo light exploded outward, washing over everyone and sealing them all inside a skintight covering of the energy. The energy tightened further over each person, restricting their movement and leaving no skin exposed.
As soon as their faces vanished behind the black energy, Loren could breathe again.
“Loren?” Alicia gasped, panting for breath.
Alicia was bleeding badly, having been scraped bodily across the pavement, but the wound was gone within seconds—the blood, however, remained.
“Fuck!” Loren squeaked in anger and outrage. “Next time, shield her as well—”
“I assumed that due to the nature of her Expression—” Cube started.
“I’m okay,” Alicia said, swallowing. “It’s fine.”
“It’s not fine,” Loren snapped, almost slipping into the hole left by his leg. “Fuck—I better not be this tall forever.”
He stepped around the hole with care and moved towards Alicia; he didn’t even come up to her shins.
“The effect will deteriorate after we have moved one-hundred meters away from the source.” Cube said, “Alternatively, it will stop if we kill Contempt.”
“As tempting as that is,” Loren gritted, “Get us the hell out of here—we have what we came for.”
“Understood.” Cube agreed.
The world shifted rapidly, and once more, they were deposited within an alleyway, away from the beachfront. Loren felt the feeling start to evaporate before they’d even come to a complete stop, and within moments he was kneeling on the ground, back to his normal height.
Contempt’s face was burned into his vision, glaring down at him, and he shook his head to rid himself of the image.
“The way she was looking at me—ugh.” Loren grunted, “That is a fucked up power.”
“Luckily for us,” Cube said. “You were only afflicted for a short time.”
“If that was a fucking pun,” Loren managed, pushing himself back to his feet. “Cube, how are we for time?”
“The estimated four hours is up,” Cube revealed.
Loren leaned back against the wall of the alleyway, biting the tip of his thumb between his teeth.
“Can you find out where Untold is right now?” Loren asked.
“I will begin actively searching for her location,” Cube agreed, “Be advised that we may alert her by doing so.”
“It won’t matter if she’s already on her way,” Loren said quietly. “Do it—start in Setalite City; that’s where she was last seen.”
“Searching, please wait.” Cube said.
“Loren?” Alicia said, watching him.
Loren glanced over to her—her hoody was almost unrecognizable now, the shoulder was torn off completely, and it had almost entirely been stained red with blood.
“Alicia, you should go turn yourself in at the Hero HQ,” Loren said, giving it one more try. “I couldn’t even stop you from getting hurt against those three—this is going to be so much worse than that.”
“I don’t want to leave you alone,” Alicia said, but she couldn’t meet his gaze. “I want to help.”
“If you want to help me,” Loren said gently, “I need you to go there and try to convince them to come to help me fight her.”
“They don’t believe us,” Alicia murmured.
“Make them,” Loren said quietly. “I didn’t have the time to convince them, but maybe you can—tell them everything you know about Ragdim and about what Morgan did to you.”
“Warning,” Cube said, “High-speed movement detected—extreme temperatures detected; engaging defenses.”
Antaeus came up instantly, followed by the environmental shield beneath it, and then the world was on fire.
This is a bit of a shorter chapter so be aware. I should have expected the results of that poll, hah. Ladies and gentlemen, the last chapter of Reroll is rapidly approaching us; Both Interludes are now done, and 87 is still the final as of this moment.
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 84 – Interlude Wraith – Live.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10