Chapter 86 – Final

“What was that one?” Alice wondered, “It wasn’t destabilization, you made it attack me; control theft? Interesting.”

Loren didn’t reply, just hoping to prolong the break between exchanges for as long as possible. Even after he’d figured out her secret, he still managed to underestimate her completely. Loren, through Cube, had over a dozen different Expressions brought to bear on her, and Alice looked like she was having fun.

Alice had even admitted that she was somehow weaker than she had been when she first arrived on earth—it didn’t feel like it to him. How was he ever supposed to defeat her? Loren couldn’t think of a single power that would allow him to beat her.

If he got an energy attack, she’d move around it; if he got strength or speed, she would decimate the area with gold or drown him in water—if he got some form of elemental power, she’d just walk straight through it unharmed. Loren couldn’t even keep up with her movements without some form of visual enhancement; any power that he got would need that component at a minimum just to target her.

Cube was the only power he’d gotten that the potential for growth like this; that quest power might have been able to accomplish something similar, but it would have been much, much slower—on the scale of weeks and months just to get as far as he had today with Cube.

A single power simply couldn’t deal with Alice upfront; nothing he stumbled on in a reset would be enough to contest her.

What was he supposed to do here?

Try to find somewhere to hide and wait out the loop—it wouldn’t work because she’d found him without even trying. They couldn’t even run away from her because she was keeping up with Cube’s teleportation, and it had already admitted to having power issues.

“Loren,” Cube said, “The replication process is becoming more difficult with each layer.”

Loren swallowed; they couldn’t hide, they couldn’t run, and they couldn’t fight her—all of this was happening too quickly; he needed somewhere away from the city burning behind him, away from the monster standing across from him.

Loren just wanted some time to think.

“Tick, tock—your times running out,” Alice smiled, stepping towards them in the air.

Loren flinched at the choice of words.

“Cube—” Loren tried, and Alice vanished.

They vanished as well, and for almost fifteen seconds, all Loren could see was flashes of the sky from different perspectives, almost as if through the shutter of a camera. Alice’s smiling face haunted each frame, and she was getting closer with every one—The world stopped skipping around as a wall of white lines splayed out in every direction, like a sea urchin standing in the sky.

Alice stopped just outside of it, raising her hand.

It was the same as before, something invisible touched the Kinetic Shield surrounding him, and he was sent spinning backward through the air as it was shunted violently away. How she was even managing to move it when it absorbed Kinetic Energy, he couldn’t understand.

This time when she got close, a wire struck out and touched her hand—Alice blurred as her entire body was spun violently, and then a white shield winked into existence within her arc. Alice’s legs crashed into the edge of the shield, and a splash of red sprayed over the front half of the white energy covering his face as her bottom half was severed from the force.

Loren managed to wipe the shield clean of blood and found her standing in the air unharmed—her body fixing itself within moments, dragging itself back together faster than anything he’d seen even Alicia heal from. He felt his stomach twist at the thought of what had happened to her, and he tried to pull his mind away from Alicia’s fate.

Even if Cube managed to damage her, she would just heal from it; how could he—

Cube displaced them again, but everything about the fight had changed, or perhaps it had always been this way, but he just hadn’t been in the right mindset to notice it. Cube wasn’t attacking as much anymore; there were no more Defense Breaking Lines or Kinetic attacks. It was resorting almost entirely to keeping him shielded and displacing them when she got close.

Loren knew why it had stopped attacking; it was attempting to conserve energy because lethal damage had done nothing to slow her down. Their options were dwindling by the second, and all Loren had managed to accomplish since the fight had begun was getting tens of thousands of people killed.

Every second they remained in conflict, more people were suffering. Loren had never felt further from a hero since this had all begun. He wasn’t preventing deaths by being here; he was adding to them.

“You haven’t spoken up in a while, Loren,” Alice said, lips quirked.

The fighting slowed for a moment; Loren forced himself to speak up so that Cube might have the time to regain some of its declining energy reserves.

“Is the real Alice still in there?” Loren said quietly.

“You never even met the ‘real Alice.’” Alice laughed, “Why would you even care for someone you’ve never shared a single conversation with?”

“Because unlike you,” Loren said, “I’m capable of empathy.”

“Empathy isn’t some magical force that only heroes or saints can reach,” Alice said amused, “I’m quite capable of feeling all the things that Alice could; happiness, sadness, lust—I just don’t let any of it limit me the way you do.”

“I’m not limiting myself,” Loren managed.

“Yes, you are,” Alice said softly, “You spent months trying to save Setalite City; you told all of us that quite freely. Months of time were wasted because you were unwilling to do what you could have done. You failed to stop any of the elements that were at play there because you wanted to stay between the lines society had drawn for you.”

“I’m not like you, Alice,” Loren said, unable to meet her gaze. “I’m not a monster.”

“Aren’t you?” Alice said, a lilting quality in her voice. “How many people just died agonizing deaths because you wanted to play the hero? Because you didn’t stay tucked away in your cell?”

“I didn’t kill them.” Loren gritted out. “You did.”

“I certainly did, but do you think that distinction means much to them?” Alice said, lifting an arm and gesturing towards the city. “Do you think that Alicia, torn apart and with not enough space to put herself back together, cares? How about the child slowly suffocating as the fire burns down the building around her—does she care?

Loren found himself searching the rubble; he opened his mouth to tell Cube to do something—before he recoiled at the sound of Alice’s quiet laughter.

“You chose to leave your cell, you chose to come here, and you chose to fight me—that was all you,” Alice said gently, “Loren Parker, you are the embodiment of choiceand the thing about choice? It’s almost always paired with regret.”

For the first time in his life, Loren didn’t have an argument to break apart her own; he had no witty remark to discredit her comment or a way to twist it back on her.

Loren had nothing—because the truth was, he had made that choice. He’d decided to keep fighting against her no matter what; he’d made a choice to never give up, and above all of it, he’d chosen to win. This was the cost of those choices; people dying in the thousands as Alice laughed at his efforts to so much as slow her down.

That was the consequence of Loren’s decision to fight against her.

“All those people suffering just so you can have this fleeting moment of resistance, and you aren’t even fighting me anymore,” Alice said, amused, “You’re trading their agony so your box can recover just a little more energy; so that you can run away for a little bit longer—are you sure you aren’t a monster, Loren?”

Loren didn’t have an answer, and he felt himself crumbling under the weight of it all. Alice didn’t wait for him to find balance, and he found himself spinning backward through the air again, far faster than before.

Cube managed to break out of the attack via Displacement, but they were hit a second time, and within seconds they were crashing through an undamaged portion of the city, carving a trench through the buildings.

When they finally came to a stop, half-buried in the road, Loren managed to lift his head.

Alice stood above them in the air with her hand out—hundreds of ancient columns began to emerge from distortions in the air above her. Each was easily as large as the ruined buildings around them, and then they began to fall.

“Cube…” Loren whispered.

Panels of light began to surround them, fanning out from their position and covering as much of the surrounding area as it could manage; the world shook as the columns crashed into the city. One of the pillars hit the shield above them and stopped cold; the shield flared so bright that he had to close his eyes.

When the world stopped shaking, he finally opened his eyes.

The shields were gone, and so was the rest of the city; the columns had buried themselves in the ground and now stood upright, towering over the rubble that remained. Loren pushed himself to his feet and turned to the sound of labored breathing.

Alice was standing on some of the rubble, holding the remains of a woman by her hair. Most of her body was gone below the waist, and the rest of her was covered in so much blood that it made it hard to distinguish anything about her.

“That shield really is something, isn’t it?” Alice said, impressed. “You should have seen Julian trying to break it; it was like staring at the sun.”

Loren barely heard the words; his eyes were locked on the body dangling from her hand. The skin was slowly pulling itself back into place, and her torso was elongating, inch by painful inch as it regenerated.

“I think the three of us are the last ones left here,” Alice said before glancing out at the ocean. “Actually, there’s someone out in the water, but he’s moving away at quite an impressive speed.”

Alicia choked out something that might have been his name, and then Alice reached a handover and tore off the newly grown arm—Alicia gurgled something out in pain, not enough of her left to muster a large enough breath to scream.

“Stop it,” Loren managed, moving towards them. “Fucking stop—Cube!”

A line of white crossed the space between them but fizzled out before it made it the entire way, and the sound of tortured metal rang out beside him. Loren turned and witnessed the Cube jerking in the air before the front panel deformed and was ripped off in a shower of sparks.

“Loren—” Cube managed before it shattered into a hundred pieces.

Loren stumbled, falling to his knees as both the white Kinetic Shield and the Black Exo-Energy covering him dissipated.

“No defense against Magnetism, huh?” Alice said, reaching up again and taking hold of Alicia’s other arm. “That’s a bit of an oversight, wouldn’t you say?”

“Alice, stop,” Loren whispered. “Please.”

Alicia finally managed to scream.

After everything he’d been through, all of the pain, stubbornness, and cold fury—it had all amounted to nothing in the end. He simply couldn’t compete with the level of adversary he’d been matched against.

All he’d ever done was fail, and nothing ever changed.

Loren felt like he had been struggling uphill his entire life—He’d fought for the attention of a man who couldn’t spare enough of it; he’d fought for the freedom that his mother wouldn’t abide by. His mother had locked him away before dying of ill-health, and his dad had buried himself in work to the point where It had actually killed him, all in an attempt to avoid thinking about his insane son.

Even Isaac had deserved better than his weakness; he’d deserved someone who hadn’t given up, someone who could have figured out a way to save him. To push past his anger and reach his friend when he needed him most.

Didn’t It say something that he wasn’t even scraping the bottom of the barrel?

Loren knew that he failed to fix his mistakes at almost every turn, and he knew that he had been unable to save the people to who he’d grown so close. He had the power to redo things infinitely, even if he hadn’t known it at the time. He could have done so much more if only he’d been able to overcome his own self-enforced limitations.

All of the people he’d let down…

Alana deserved better than to die without anyone knowing just how much she had done for all of them and what she had done for him. Raindancer never had the chance to reconcile her differences with her team, and Dovetail would never have to face justice for what he’d planned to do.

Gradient would never have the chance to beg Mongoose for forgiveness, and Mongoose would never have the closure of kicking his ass out onto the street. Fracture and Tag would never again go out on patrol together, and Secluded would never get to have her reckoning with Mathew Kline.

Chloe would never win another tournament, and Iza would never get to experience life without his presence suffocating her every moment. Emma would never again wake him up in the middle of the night with her antics or help him save the city…

Evelynn Miller would always be trapped, the plaything of an immoral man and an immortal woman. Naomi Low would always watch her brother die and decide that the rest of the world needed to burn for it to ever equal out. Mara Melancholia would always be hidden beneath a coat in a subway, remembering the worst day of her life.

Alicia would spend an eternity in a tank, farmed for spare parts, and Alice would always fade away,  subsumed by the monster she’d become.

All the things he’d wanted to change, all the people he’d wanted to save. There were others, so many others—heroes, villains, and people who had nothing to do with this, people who’d gone to sleep without ever knowing they wouldn’t wake up.

All things he would never be able to fix, because like everything else in his life, he’d failed.

“That’s the face,” Alice groaned, one hand cupping her face, fingers spread and digging into her skin. “I can always tell, you know? It’s like a color, or a note, or a flavor,and it all clicks into place; I can’t begin to describe the satisfaction—I can’t remember why I ever stopped?”

Loren didn’t say anything in response, studying the shattered remains of the Cube strew about the dirt. Alicia was in a hundred pieces across the clearing, and he could see the faint rise of her torso as it struggled to breathe without lungs. They’d thrown everything they had at her, and she’d waded through it all, unaffected and unbroken.

Alice moved closer and knelt down in front of him, her hands coming up to cup his face.

“It’s perfect,” Alice breathed, lifting his head until he met her gaze.

Loren made a token attempt to move her hands off his face, more out of obligation than anything else, but it failed to make her budge, so he left his hands on her wrists.

“I broke you, Loren Parker.” Alice said, smiling, “And It didn’t even take me a week.”

His eyes were stinging—he wondered if he was crying, and he wondered if he cared. Loren felt that old empty feeling he’d had when he was younger washing up inside, a haze of detachment and complete indifference calling for him.

“Don’t cry,” Alice soothed, “It’s all over now, okay? You just need to say it.”

None of this was worth it anymore—Loren just wanted to sleep.

“You win, Alice,” Loren said, without care. “I give up.”

When he was twelve, Loren had climbed out of his bedroom window and up onto the roof of the house. It had been dark, far past his bedtime, and he knew his mother would have crucified him if she’d known, but he’d done it.

The stars had always affected him—the sheer beauty of those sparkling lights scattered across the night sky.

Watching from his bed through his window had always felt like he was missing something—like the thin glass was stealing something from the experience. Loren wasn’t sure what it could have been exactly, but it was something.

Laying here, like this, with an unobstructed view, just felt different.

All of his worries bled away, and he felt like he was the only one left in the world, that the sky above was just for Loren. He didn’t have to worry about his mom screaming at him or his dad’s frown of disapproval, and he didn’t have to think about what his friend’s parents were doing to Isaac.

It was just him, the cool night air and the comfort of a beautiful night sky watching him from above. He reached up and curled his fingers together as if to take hold of them, but his hand closed on nothing….

Loren opened his eyes, the fading remnants of an old memory clinging to his mind.

He was surrounded by an inky void filled with uncountable stars, and for a moment, he wondered if he wasn’t still dreaming. The link between his childhood act of rebellion and that place inside of him was clear enough for his sleeping mind to blur the lines.

That feeling of warmth was present as well, all around him, near and far; It felt just like it had when he’d first come here. The feeling that should have comforted him washed over him without response, his enforced indifference a shield between him and the light.

He wondered if he could go back to sleep in this place—Loren tilted his head. There was something here that didn’t feel like him, something else. Loren, unsure of exactly when he’d stood up, turned towards the aberration.

Alice stood not five feet from him, without a shred of clothing to cover her; her face was shadowed, and her cheeks were harshly outlined as she watched him from the dark.

“This won’t hold me,” Alice murmured, voice whisper quiet.

For a moment, he wasn’t sure she’d actually spoken at all, the cadence in her voice too far removed from her normal state.

“I don’t understand,” Loren said.

Alice’s skin was chalk white now, far paler than she had been in the real world, and her hands were clenched into fists by her side—but more than anything else about her, the thing that stood out the most was that she was shaking.

“I won,” Alice insisted. “You gave up your body to me; it’s mine.”

Loren knew she was right, he’d given her what she wanted, and now he was dead again.

“I did,” Loren said indifferently. “What happens now?”

Alice watched him, and she took a step forward, foot crashing down onto the invisible platform they were standing on. It rippled like water, but his footing wasn’t disrupted at all, and he simple watched the ripples, wondering what came next.

The ripples, like black water on a lake, settled back to a state of perfect stillness.

“Let me out,” Alice whispered.

“What?” Loren mumbled, watching her approach.

Let me out of this place!” Alice said, voice shaking.

Loren lifted his arm out of reflex as her hand struck out at him, but he found the motion strangely easy to track; she wasn’t using any of the superhuman speed that they both knew she possessed.

He stared at his own hand, wrapped around her wrist, startled that he had managed to catch it. He reached up and caught the other one that came towards his left eye in a knife-hand. Loren failed to catch the kick that shot up between his legs, barely missing his groin and impacting high on his left thigh.

There was no pain, and it didn’t hurt at all; the force of the kick was only a fraction of the power that should have been there. Loren pushed her away from him in confusion and was alarmed when the motion sent her tumbling backward, crashing into the invisible platform and rolling to a stop.

Alice struggled to get back to her knees, panting and eyes wide with something that shouldn’t have been there.

He could feel the countless stars around him vying for his attention, each one a different shade and carrying the promise of something amazing and something he’d never seen before.

Whatever Alice had done had killed him, but how had he come to be here? How was Alice even here in this place? Where were her uncountable powers and unbearable strength? Why did she look so disturbed?

Let me out of this place!

“You’re stuck in here,” Loren realized through the fog.

Loren felt something sliding past his indifference, and the feeling was spreading quickly. The feelings came back, burning painfully bright against the nothing he’d forced upon himself: the pain, loss, confusion, and misery—the rage and the hate.

“Shut up.” Alice managed, fighting back to her feet.

Loren didn’t move as she approached him again.

“What’s stopping you from leaving?” Loren said.

Alice hissed a word that wasn’t in any language he’d ever heard.

“This place, it’s all me, isn’t it?” Loren murmured, “Were you supposed to end up on the inside like this?”

Loren braced himself against the sudden tackle, barely taking a single step backward before pushing her away again. Alice managed to control her fall this time, sliding to her feet but looking like she was exhausted from that much alone.

“How does it work?” Loren frowned as she approached him again. “You take over the body of someone who’s given up, someone desperate for everything to just stop?”

Alice reached for his throat, and he remained where he was, her grip too weak even to constrict his breathing. Her other hand joined the first, and she let out a violent noise of frustration.

“You take their body,” Loren said, looking down at her. “But then what? You keep it until it dies, or you move on to a new one, with a new stolen power in your collection?”

Alice’s panicked breathing was audible, and her terror was visible; whether he was right about the details or not, it didn’t matter. Because she was still stuck here, she couldn’t leave, and she couldn’t hurt him.

“We’ve switched places, Alice,” Loren said quietly, “Now you’re the prisoner, and I’m the warden.”

“I’ll never be a prisoner,” Alice whispered.

Alice tried to strike him again, but the hit landed against his cheek without any effect.

“Did you know I’ve only managed to come here twice now?” Loren said. “Both times were when my power came into conflict with something else—first when I died inside another person’s Expression, and now when you came inside mine.”

“Let me out,” Alice said, shaking.

“The only time I’ve ever been able to choose my power was when I came here,” Loren said in understanding. “But if you’re stuck here, I’ll be able to come back—you’re the bridge from my body to this place.”

Alice moved closer, her movements lacking the languid nature they’d had in the real world, and the aggression she’d been showing was fading.

“Loren,” Alice said, taking hold of his arms. “Let me out.”

He didn’t bother shaking her off; she couldn’t hurt him here.

“Dismantling everything that you and Morgan have done to the world is going to take a long time, Alice,” Loren said quietly, “But if I do get to come back here and choose my powers? I think I’ll be able to find the time.”

Alice’s grip on his arms shook, and Loren turned his gaze to the stars over her head.

“I’ll leave earth—I’ll leave this galaxy,” Alice said quietly. “You’ll never, ever see me again.”

Years ago, the idea of stripping someone of their autonomy and keeping them locked away in this place would have made him sick, and even as recently as two weeks ago, he would have thrown himself into challenging the morality of it; but Alice had been right, she had broken him, and he wasn’t the same person he used to be.

“Sorry, Alice,” Loren murmured, “I’ll make sure to drop by now and again.”

He pulled at an exceptionally bright star, one that felt like moments, distance, and time; it was as good a place to start as any other.

“You win, Loren,” Alice choked out. “I give up—please don’t leave me in here.”

Loren studied her expression for a long moment; he could see the realization that she was out of options, that her unshakeable confidence had withered, turning to fear and desperation when she realized he would never, ever let her out.

“You were right,” Loren said quietly. “That is satisfying.”

The world fell away, and Loren opened his eyes.


We have reached the finish line my friends, this is the final chapter of Reroll. Coming in at a whopping, 267k words, and 86 chapters. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Loren’s journey. Thank you for all of the comments, advice, and critiques, I’ve learned so much since I began this project, but there’s always more to learn.

Love the ending, or hate it, please leave a review once you’re finished reading the chapter, I’d absolutely love to hear everyone’s thoughts about Reroll as a complete story.

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, is now live on my Patreon and will be public on the 13th of September. 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 – Complete.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 11
Contention – Chapter 1.

Chapter 85

The temperature spiked, and the entire right side of his body began to burn before the two shields managed to cover him completely. Loren was lifted off the ground, and his back slammed into the alleyway wall as the din of fire and noise washed over him.

The brickwork sagged under the impact, and he began to sink into it before the wall gave way under the forces bearing down on it. He saw glimpses of passing walls, doors, and windows as the bottom floor of the building evaporated around him.

Loren passed through the front wall of the building before hitting the tarmac and being flung up into the air. Everything was a blur of color until his arc began to slow, and for a moment, he could see the sky above—his trajectory changed as he was yanked downwards and to the side, traveling backward at speeds he couldn’t even follow.

What he could follow was the massive dome of light expanding across Hanta City moving almost as fast as they were as it gave chase, mercilessly tearing apart everything it came into contact with. The pain on his right side began to fade as a half-dozen spikes filled with Alicia’s Expression pierced him.

“Cube—” Loren said.

The dome stopped less than a meter away from them, and Cube turned their backward retreat into a wide circle around the perimeter of the still present dome.

“Apologies.” Cube said, “I wasn’t able to shield Alicia in time.”

Loren couldn’t even focus on the words because their speed suddenly tripled, and everything turned into a mess of colors again once more.

“I can’t keep track of anything,” Loren managed, “Give me something so I can see.”

Nigritude’s power begun to crawl up his skin; it rushed up to his chest and towards his neck. The exo-energy was warm to the touch, and he felt his muscles tighten into steel cords beneath his skin.

It swallowed his face, sealing him inside, and then the world sharpened, the details of the buildings they were threading their way through suddenly visible once more. Loren’s head snapped up as the building beside them exploded, and a hand reached through the wall towards them—

The environment changed instantly as Cube jaunted them up into the air; Loren lost sight of the attacker, but the new vantage point showed a clear view of the dome from above. It was dissipating now, fading away unevenly as large areas vanished, and as the side facing them came down, he could see the damage it had caused. Nothing was left standing in the blast zone; the buildings were scattered across the ground in a carpet of loose concrete and steel.

A thin, glowing lance of light flashed upwards from their previous position before suddenly bursting, and then Alice Wroth stood before them in the air.

“Now that is interesting,” Alice said, eyebrow raised. “A physical construct with an Expression of its own?”

She looked exactly as she had the first time he’d made it to the mainland.

Expressions, rather—That’s clearly the shield that was keeping you trapped, but the owner was already dead if I recall,” Alice said curiously, looking to the air beside her head. “Portals as well, and some kind of solar absorption field?”

Loren didn’t say anything in response, half because he was far too angry and half because the more time she wasted talking, the more time Cube had to steal her power.

“It’s feeding into that black film covering you, most likely a form of augmentation given that you managed to see me coming through that wall,” Alice continued raising an eyebrow, “You’ve been very busy, Loren.”

Loren had to bite back a response that might have restarted the fight immediately if he’d said it aloud.

“It’s been only hours since you would have first awoken,” Alice said, genuinely surprised. “Just how many Expressions did you manage to take in so little time? I’m glad I decided to check in when I did; at your current rate, you may have presented a challenge—in a few months.”

He tried not to let the words get to him, but her complete lack of urgency lent the words an unwavering confidence—even after all the powers they’d managed to take, Alice wasn’t even fazed. She didn’t speak immediately this time, and he said what he thought might get her to continue talking.

“Starsealer,” Loren said quietly.

“Oh! Did I tell you that already, or did you figure it out yourself?” Alice said, amused. “I suppose it doesn’t really matter which; how have you been enjoying your stay in our facility? I hope you appreciate the little mercy we left for you.”

Her choice of wording almost sent him over the edge again, but he managed to swallow the anger back down—it should almost be time.

“You’re definitely not as energetic as I remember—you used to be far more talkative,” Alice observed, tapping a finger against her cheek. “How many times have we had this conversation now, Loren?”

“I’m not about to tell you,” Loren said, voice low.

“Your circumstances seem to have stripped you of your good humor, I see,” Alice laughed before tilting her head. “You haven’t immediately attacked me yet either—are you stalling in the hopes that your little box might finish stealing from me?”

Loren felt a wave of unease take him, and he could bring himself to respond—she’d figured it out so quickly, she must have been able to feel what the Cube was doing. Why wasn’t she attempting to getaway?

“Loren, we have a problem,” Cube said.

Loren felt like that was the greatest of understatements.

“Alice is heavily resistant to the replicating process,” Cube said, “Each Expression is shielded, and they are layered beneath one another in a way that forces me to work through them one at a time before moving onto the next—these issues will significantly slow the process.”

Alice started to laugh, and Loren gritted his teeth at the noise.

“Did you think this was the first time I’ve ever dealt with an Expression like this? I’ve dealt with dozens of them,” Alice said giggling, “Loren—your ability to recognize scope is so quaint, but I’ll admit that it’s a failing that most sentients share.”

Stalling was now off the table; their plan had unraveled before it had even begun, and Loren found that he didn’t even care anymore; he just wanted to hurt her.

“I think it’s a failure you share,” Loren said, reaching for something personal. “I bet you thought you knew the scope of Paragon’s power when you first fought him—how did that turn out again? Desperately trying to hold your body together as our entire planet looked on?”

The smile on her face faded away, and for a second Loren thought she was going to attack him.

“Sound Augmentation Replicated,” Cube said.

Alice didn’t even turn to look at it, completely unconcerned that they’d taken one of her powers. The moment dragged on, and then her smile returned, a shade different than before.

“You know, Julian was the first time I’ve ever failed at taking a body?” Alice said, eyes glinting. “I don’t think I need to tell you just how overwhelming the man was, but I think it might surprise you to know that it wasn’t his strength that defeated me that day.”

“Cope harder, Alice.” Loren said, “I’ve seen the video of you getting absolutely destroyed—don’t be a sore loser.”

Alice laughed again.

“I suppose I am something of a sore loser—call it a lack of experience with the subject,” Alice agreed easily, entirely unruffled. “I’ll tell you right now though—even if you had all of Julian’s strength and all of his combat experience, you wouldn’t be able to do what he did that day.”

“Bullshit,” Lore said without pause.

Internally he was shaken at the words—what was he supposed to get from that? That Paragon had done something to kill her that had nothing to do with his strength? Or was she simply messing with him?

“Julian was the most physically capable being I’ve ever fought; I have no shame in admitting that, but we had him contained inside Antaeus for months—an exercise in frustration though it may have eventually been revealed to be,” Alice said, eyes glittering. “Do you really think I don’t have an Expression that could work around his strength, something to cancel it out, or just outright kill him? You don’t extinguish a star by throwing fire at it, Loren.”

Loren fought down the angry flush that was crawling up his neck at the sheer condescension dripping off her every word.

“Then why didn’t you?” Loren managed. “If you could have killed him whenever you wanted—why didn’t you?”

“I didn’t want to kill him, Loren,” Alice said, shaking her head in disappointment. “He was an anomaly, powerful in a way I’ve never seen; killing him would have been a monumental waste.”

“You wanted his body then,” Loren said, “Why didn’t you take it? Why let him destroy you?”

“I tried,” Alice confessed, spreading her arms. “I already told you that it was the first time I’ve ever failed; Julian’s Expression was unique, an outward projection of his soul that surrounded him completely—I’m sure you’ve felt the remnants leaking out around him.”

The remnants? She had to be talking about his Aura of Calm—that had been Julian’s soul?

“I attempted to subsume him as I have countless times before, but I was rebuffed,” Alice said, looking down at her hands. “That failure stripped me of all the potency I had cultivated until that moment.”

Alice seemed lost in memory for a moment.

“Then Julian hit me,” Alice laughed, something approaching fear in her eyes as she recalled it. “A trillion lives over countless millennia, and everything I’d built was simply gone; you’ll never be able to appreciate just how much I lost in that moment of weakness.”

Loren stared at her, unable to even picture the number of lives she had taken.

“You’ve destroyed that many lives… but all you can think about is what you lost,” Loren said, genuinely stunned. “You’re a monster, Alice.”

“I suppose from your perspective, I might be,” Alice eyed him, considering. “Now here I am, with all of the Expressions but a fraction of the power—I’m lucky this happened on a world with such a high population, attempting to build myself back up on an empty planet would have been a very difficult task.”

“Self-Levitation Replicated,” Cube said.

A useless power, given what the Cube could already do, and the replication rate was so slow that they would need days to get anywhere. Worse was that this was what it was like when they were both standing still.

“I know you want my Expression,” Loren said, clenching his fist. “If you could just take it whenever you wanted—why put me through all of this?”

“Because your species has already ruined me once,” Alice said, raising her head slightly to look down on him. “This time, I’m going to take what I want in a way that I know can’t fail.”

“Cube,” Loren said quietly. “Kill Alice.”

“Acknowledged,” Cube said, “Engaging.”

Alice blurred forward, moving faster than he could see, even with the Exo-energy boosting his perception to superhuman levels. A series of white spikes flickered into existence, fanning out around them—they vanished from their place, replaced by white streaks of light that bombarded her position.

Cube fired off a series of sparks in every direction—frame by frame; the world changed around him as they appeared at each of them in turn, leaving a forest of white lights behind them each time, all targeting Alice. A coil of orange light surrounded her, and each of the white spikes that hit it winked out of existence on contact, taking chunks of the orange light with it.

More white lines emerged from empty points in space around them, and Alice exploded, a cloud of white energy that passed through all of the attacks and continued towards them. It coalesced back into Alice on the other side, moving twice her previous speed.

Cube was forced to displace them again, and when they reappeared, Loren could see the back of Alice’s head. Her forward momentum vanished as she found herself being pulled inexorably backward against her will.

A wall of white spikes filled the air between them, and she spun, exploding into the light again and passing through the wall. A white plane of energy appeared between her foot and Loren’s face as she perched on the other side of it.

Alice began to shrink, and she looked surprised for an instant before the effect of Contempts power broke, and she began to grow rapidly, returning to her normal size. Something disturbed the air between them before the Kinetic Barrier she was standing on suddenly moved, crashing into Loren.

Loren found himself flipping head over heels before Cube managed to regain control of their descent—everything went black, and when he tried to say something, no sound came out of his mouth. He couldn’t even see his hands—the darkness vanished, and they were no longer where they had been, now hundreds of meters closer to the beach.

Their location wasn’t the only thing that had changed.

A massive sheet of gold stood in the air above the water, hundreds of meters tall and glistening in the sun. The surface of the golden structure rippled like water, and a massive, ridged face with million of teeth pushed its way free of the surface.

Droplets of molten gold the size of cars rained down on the ocean below them, sending gouts of steam up as they broke the surface. An immense hand emerged, gripping the sides of the sheet as it dragged itself further out of the horizontal pool of gold.

Its mouth opened in a silent roar that sent a barrage of gold into Hanta City, shattering buildings under the lasting impacts and leaving streets filled with molten gold. The ocean below couldn’t withstand the force of its voice, surging away and leaving the sand below to weather it.

Alice stood on top of it, hand beneath the surface of the gold.

Cube?” Loren said quietly, still unable to hear his own voice. “Can we even win this?”

The golden horror abandoned its attempt to leave its pool, instead reaching up and burying its thick fingers into the edge where Alice had been standing above it, swallowing her in the fist of gold. The entire structure fell apart, losing its cohesion and falling down into the churning waters below. The sound that had been missing finally returned, and the hissing of steam rang out below them.

A single blob of gold remained in the air, the precious metal sloughed off of it, revealing Alice standing in the air, unharmed and smiling.

“I do not know,” Cube admitted.

Reroll is now finished on Patreon! Chapter 86, the final chapter will be released here on Monday. The first chapter of Contention is now up on Patreon for the EX-rank.

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 86 – Finale
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 11
Contention – Prelude.

Chapter 84 – Interlude: Wraith

Hero HQ, Setalite City, 9:05 AM.
Thursday, February 24th​, 2022.

Fracture’s presence registered to her suits sensors long before he stepped into the conference room, but almost all of her attention was levied at Seeker. The intuitive flow of information slowed to a crawl as she switched focus onto locating Loren Parker.

“Where did you leave him?” Alana said.

Losing four hours of deliberate focus and all of the enhancements that came with it was irritating in a way very few things were, but she was forced to drop it in favor of the sudden problem that had arisen.

The first thing Alana did was check the tracker she had injected Loren with while he’d been asleep, bringing the associated HUD up onto her helmet’s interior monitor. The initial feeling of sluggishness that always came with a focus change pulled at her mind, but she could already feel it beginning to build up once more.

The tracker was unable to make a connection with her system, either out of range or in a place shielded from electronic signals. The tracker would default to its coding—attempting to remake the connection every four hours before powering down to conserve power.

“At his residence, he said he needed to be alone,” Seeker said, “He was extremely upset by what happened to Monstrous.”

Alana knew that he was no longer in his apartment without even having to check, but she would need to begin investigating there to determine his new location. Alana brought up the video feed provided by the six cameras she had placed inside Loren’s building and played them simultaneously.

Then she called one of the inactive micro-drones to action, sending it through the crack beneath his front door. It flittered between the rooms, looking for movement, heat, or sound, and found nothing at all.

The fact that Seeker had actually left Loren on his own immediately put him at the top of her list of suspects—the fact that he could teleport long distances only increased her suspicion. The fact that he had come back here afterward could be his attempt to deflect suspicion off himself.

The drone returned with what she already knew—the apartment was empty, and Loren was missing. A window opened on her monitor showing the drone’s feed, and she watched the footage back at two times speed in case of machine error.

The video footage from the cameras clearly showed Seeker and Loren appearing outside of his building, almost directly on the front steps—revealing that Seeker knew where Loren lived well enough to be so accurate without a line of sight. The peacekeepers most likely did their own investigation into Loren when he first revealed themselves.

Loren was crying as he ascended his building, head down and hair shadowing his face. Seeker’s claim that he was extremely upset was easy to see.

He climbed the staircase up to his own apartment and let himself in. He locked the door and then moved straight to his bedroom, lying face down on his bed. He stayed there for almost fifteen minutes of unbroken footage, and then each of the six feeds skipped one after another, and suddenly Loren was missing.

Alana paused each of them, found the frame before the skip, noted the time, and then proceeded frame by frame until it skipped. A very obvious pattern appeared as she lined each of the feeds up next to one another.

Exactly two minutes of footage was missing from each of the feed’s, but they were staggered along the timeline at about the same speed you would expect from someone climbing the stairway and then entering his apartment at a walking speed.

Alana muted her suit’s outward speaker, connecting to another line.

“Isometric,” Alana said, voice changer distorting her voice.

“Wraith?” Isometric said, surprised. “Do you need me again?”

“Yes,” Alana said, “I’m marking the location on the map in front of you—it’s Loren Parker’s apartment, he’s missing. Check every inch of the building and report anything that’s out of place; I will be moving there soon.”

“I’m searching now,” Isometric said quickly, and she cut the line.

Threadbreaker was starting to look quite harried, as he’d been attempting to defend his decision to eliminate Mara Melancholia for several minutes now. The rest of the group seemed split on whether or not it was a good outcome, but out of the three objectives, it had been the only one to succeed without any casualties.

“It’s not my fault!” Threadbreaker said defensively. “We took her down—who cares if he’s gone off on his own? Why does it even matter?”

There was no pattern in the footage to suggest that the person had left the building in the same manner. They were either still in the bedroom but hidden from a conventional search, or they’d used a more esoteric method to leave.

Secluded could have managed the first; retreating into her inner world with both Loren and herself would satisfy both the tracker being unable to make a connection and their lack of a visible exit from the room—she did not, however, possess the technical acumen to bypass her security and mess with the cameras.

Alana traced the camera skips in reverse and then began accessing each of the cameras with a line of sight on the front of the building. The security camera across the street was missing the same two minutes, and she was quick to find the next in the pattern.

“It matters because Loren is the one who gave us all of this information, Breaker.” Haunt said, speaking quietly. “You heard what they said about his power—he’s going to return to the past now, and you’ve made an enemy out of yourself.”

Alana skipped several blocks, her intuition telling her where the pattern was leading—all the way back into the center of Setalite City East. There were no further camera skips amongst any of the ones in the area; the person had activated the device and began their slow walk to the apartment from the middle of thousands of people celebrating the Evergold Festival.

“I don’t see a problem,” Vapid shrugged, “Two out of three is way better than we expected anyway, right? Threadbreaker took out our target; I’m happy with that.”

The fact that someone had managed to bypass her own security and then edit out the footage in real-time meant that the one responsible had access to technology far above most others. That gave her several more candidates—Artisan could have accomplished it, Complexity could have as well, given enough time while Storyboard would have been able to organize it.

“Our guy didn’t even turn up,” Ogre said, leaning against the wall. “He must have seen through the phone call or saw us before we saw him and fled.”

None of the suspects fit perfectly—Seeker’s culpability was cleared after she’d tracked down his reappearance on top of the HQ and then matched the timecodes—he’d come straight back here afterward and gone nowhere else. Complexity was still locked in a cell downstairs with the rest of Ascent so he could be safely excluded.

“I doubt he wants to see any of us after what Threadbreaker apparently did in the café,” Untold sighed, “He was friends with her, right? Despite the fact that she was a villain?”

Storyboard shouldn’t even be aware that Loren existed, but if he did somehow discover him, Orient could have provided the teleportation needed to leave the room. The problem with Cinematic being the team responsible was they wouldn’t have needed to mess with the cameras to accomplish it; they could have simply appeared in the room with Loren and taken him.

“He seems to make a lot of friends like that,” Ogre said, “If you’ve got any plans to hit me next, we’re going to have a problem, kid.”

Suppose the remnants of Epilogue—Tiamat, The Researcher, and Mathew Kline—had abducted Loren. In that case, Mathew could very well have hidden them while leaving the apartment—perhaps in an attempt to make it look like a teleporter had been involved and deflect further aggressive action onto the other groups within Setalite City while they recovered from the recent losses.

“Why would I hit you?” Threadbreaker said, continuing to act out on his frustrations about their reaction. “Who the heck are you, anyway?”

Alana attempted to call Loren’s phone on a whim, but the drone immediately located the sound emission; it was sitting just out of sight under his pillow.

“Forget it,” Ogre snorted.

As she suspected, a physical investigation of the room would be needed.

“He’s not answering his phone,” Alana voiced for the benefit of the others.

“Is he sleeping?” Untold wondered. “He might have just wanted to get away from all of this—his friend just died after all.”

“Unfortunately, that is not the case.” Alana said, “As of seventeen minutes ago, Loren Parker was taken from his apartment.”

Wraith’s Workshop, Hideout, 3:09 PM.
Friday, February 25th, 2022.

An unknown and quickly fading gas had still been clinging to the interior of Loren’s Apartment when she’d checked; further testing of the substance had discovered it possessed many shared properties with most general anesthetics.

Small areas of disturbed dust revealed a series of woman’s size eight footprints approaching the bed, where an energy signature was also present. In the space where the person had stood, there was a thin layer of material—barely a fraction of a millimeter in width—that had been sheered off the top of the carpet in the same shape as the shoeprint.

The same missing material layer was also present on the bed and pillow where Loren had been lying in the video footage. The dust, lint, hairs, and even the fading gas were entirely missing from those outlines, simply gone.

The events that had taken place while the cameras were out were obvious; Loren had returned to his room, someone had approached the building, entered his apartment, and released an unknown sleeping gas inside. The unknown party had then removed themselves and Loren from the area via a form of matter displacement.

Which left Alana with engineering a method to reforge the connection to the tracker remotely, and that was what she was now focused on. Every four hours, the tracker would attempt to reconnect, and she had already begun working on bolstering the signal from her end.

She’d already attempted to bridge the connection across half of Setalite City since she had begun, but the power requirements increased the further remote she searched. The fact that she could only try for about ten minutes at a time before the tracker would follow its coding and shut down only frustrated her efforts.

Artisan had offered several pieces of technology that had made the search easier, but the man had his own concerns to deal with, his primary one being completing a more permanent form of stasis to keep the Paragon clone from breaking down until they could figure out an actual solution.

They were hemorrhaging team members with the incarceration of Dovetail and the resignation of both Gradient and Mongoose. Furthermore, another rift had begun to grow within the team; Secluded and Tag on one side, and Raindaner on the other. Fracture was the most levelheaded amongst those that remained, and Alana had left most of the day-to-day running of the team to him while she focused her efforts on locating Loren.

Alana shook her head as she realized she’d been staring at the inside of her helmet for the last minute. The lack of sleep was starting to take its toll on her, but if she slept, she’d have lost all of her enhancements, and it would take hours to build back up to this level.

A global HQ alert opened up on her monitor, and she opened the connection with a tired blink.

“Requesting assistance, all parties to respond,” Fracture managed, followed by the sound of something tearing through the wall of a building. “Crescent is attempting to free Ascent—”

Suburbs, Setalite City West, 6:57 AM.
Saturday, February 26th, 2022.

Loren wasn’t in Setalite City, Arrot City, Saltwall City, or any of the areas surrounding the cities—she’d checked each of them twice, with varying degrees of signal boosting, but nothing indicated he was here. Her search branched out further but without a clue as to where she was left searching each city, one after another.

Crescent’s attack had been completely unexpected, and the only person who was actually at the HQ at the time who even had a chance against her had been in a cell. By the time Alana had arrived, the battle had already concluded, and the entirety of Ascent was free.

Almost everyone who had been present was injured somehow.

Tag had it the worst, with multiple holes in her legs, and Fractures wrist had been broken while attempting to contain Sluggish and Piston. Raindancer had fought her brother to a standstill, but he’d still manage to escape.

The ten-minute window came and passed, with nothing to show of it, and Alana wrenched her helmet off and threw it across the room, angry, tired, and more frustrated than she had been since college.

Suburbs, Setalite City West, 11:09 AM.
Saturday, February 26th, 2022.

“Mongoose is down,” Gradient said, panting. “Cutaway took her leg—how long, Wraith?”

“We’ve arrived; Fracture, secure Mongoose and Gradient—I’ll deal with Cutaway. Ogre attempt to keep Screener from causing any more collateral damage.” Alana spoke, sprinting across the rooftops. “Vapid, you’re on Archetype—you know his abilities?”

“I’ll handle him,” Vapid said.

“Screener does what exactly?” Ogre said, voice calm.

“Telekinetic, at least as strong as Seeker, but without the ability to teleport.” Alana said, “He has a tendency to use wide-area attacks and covers himself in a forcefield.”

“Copy that,” Ogre sighed, “This is going to be a pain in the ass; I can just tell.”

“Threadbreaker, you will be dealing with Beat, don’t let him hit you while he’s covered in energy,” Alana advised.

“Got it!” Threadbreaker said.

“Raindancer, do your best to remove Aperture from the area,” Alana spoke, “Her ability to blind us all at once is one of the biggest threats here.”

Raindancer broke off from them, water trailing her path, and she rocketed across the road.

“Where do you want me, Wraith?” Dovetail said, voice calm.

Alana spared him a glance—the translucent energy that dripped upwards from his body surrounded him. He’d been let out of his cell by Mareke during the Crescent attack and returned to their team without any word on the matter.

“Animate has littered the area with constructs, find him and cut them off at the source,” Alana said, frowning. “Once you’ve dealt with him, deal with Arret.”

“Understood,” Dovetail said. “Incoming—”

They split further as a column of fire raged between them, crashing into the top of a house and exploding upwards in a wave of fire.

Alana’s suit caught the energy signature of building electricity before it had even begun to crackle.

Her foot touched down, and she burst forward at twice the speed as the lance of lightning cut through her previous position tearing through multiple rooftops before it dissipated. A flicker of high-speed movement and a long white shape registered on her monitor—her next step angled her on an interception course for her own target.

A wall of water three times at tall as the surrounding buildings crashed surged upwards before crashing down onto the neighborhood. Alana frowned at the collateral damage, this area hadn’t been evacuated yet, and there were people still in their houses.

“Gradient is dead, and Cutaway escaped.” Fracture managed, voice hoarse. “I’m evacuating Mongoose now.”

Alana felt an awful feeling growing at the words, and her speed increased again—the angle would be enough for Cutaway to see and avoid the initial attack; Alana activated the nano-assembler in her right shoulder, sending blackspine’s lancing out.

Cutaway sidestepped as she had predicted but managed to bring his sword up in an arc that split the blackspines as she passed him by. He’d taken three steps towards her before Alana had managed to spin, already sending more blackspines out in every direction.

Alana kicked off, twisting in the air, and Cutaway dashed to the side, unable to remain in close combat as the blackspines grew longer than his sword. She skidded across the roof, digging grooves into it with both feet before turning her slide into a sprint.

Each of her next steps shattered the rooftop, leaving blackspines buried in the mess as she circled him. Cutaway turned with her, the motion calm and unhurried—she used another blackspine to stop her forward momentum and burst forward towards him.

Cutaway took hold of his katana in both hands and leaned forward in preparation.

Alana buried her foot into the rooftop, halting herself as each of the blackspine’s surged upwards in a cage around him, interlocking until a dome surrounded him. Cutaway vanished, a flicker of white light tracing arcs around him as he kept an area around himself free of the reaching spines.

He began making significant progress to one of the sides of the dome, his flickering sword almost invisible now. The frustration of the last week, her building sense of failure, and the pain she was feeling at what he’d done crystalized into a fury she’d rarely felt in her life,

Alana made her decision.

The blackspine that was extended from the foot that she had buried in the roof surged upwards, branching outwards directly underneath him—there was a cry of pain as his footing was compromised, and then the forest of blackspines grew inwards, interlocking through the man as they sought to fill the space inside.

Cutaway died screaming.

Medical Wing, Hero HQ, 7:17 PM.
Sunday, February 27th, 2022.

“You’re not wearing the armor,” Leena mumbled, the painkillers rendering her vague.

Alana swallowed, feeling more lost than she had been since that first decision to become a hero.

“I… I’m sorry it’s taking so long.” Alana managed voice barely a whisper. “Alleviate won’t be here until tomorrow.”

Leena didn’t respond to the assurance that she would be regaining her leg; instead, she turned her gaze back to the ceiling, the movement sluggish.

“Mark came to see me, you know?” Leena murmured, “He came clean about everything, told me that he was quitting the team, and leaving Setalite City.”

Alana closed her eyes and clenched her fingers in the chair as the stinging behind her eyes.

“I didn’t even say anything for the first twenty minutes, just listened as he told me everything they’d done behind my back—he didn’t even try to shift the blame,” Leena said, confused. “As Loren said—the other girl hadn’t even known I existed.”

Alana wondered if anyone had actually told her that Loren was missing—she’d been gone since before it had happened.

“So I sat there, listening to it all, and when he was done, he stood up,” Leena mumbled. “Said that if he’d had the chance to go back and fix things he would have, that ruining what we had was going to be the worst mistake he’d ever make in his life.”

The wet tracks on her cheeks pulled at her attention, and Alana hunched forward, gripping her shirt in an attempt to bite back on the sob that was building up in her.

“After he’d said all of that—it was the strangest thing,” Leena said in wonder, “After everything Mark did, I still wanted him to stay.”

Alana broke, unable to hold it inside any longer.

“I’m so sorry, Leena.” Alana choked out.

“Mm,” Leena mumbled. “So am I.”

Setalite City Hero HQ, 12:53 AM.
Tuesday, February 29th, 2022.

“This meeting is to organize a recovery mission then,” Seeker murmured.

“I was able to reforge a connection to the tracker momentarily before it shorted out,” Alana said, reading the biometrics of everyone in the room. “Loren is currently located in the middle of the southern ocean.”

“The southern ocean?” Secluded said, frowning.

“Is there even anything out there?” Empress wondered.

“Let’s go find out,” Lanette said, leaning forward. “We need to find out if he’s dead or not—if you give me directions, I can start heading there now.”

“Striking out on your own is inefficient even given the potency of your power; we can have Seeker deliver you,” Artisan suggested, watching them. “How much reconnaissance have you performed on the area, Wraith?”

“I’m currently scanning the area, but this information is only half an hour old.” Alana said quietly, “Remote scanning has allowed me to ascertain that there are no structures or vessels present at sea level.”

“An underwater facility?” Alleviate guessed. “Seems like it would be inconvenient given how far away it is.”

“No—we have already established they possess a form of teleportation,” Artisan said calmly, “Wraith, if we were to delay our recovery efforts for perhaps an hour, I could perform a far more detailed scan of the area?”

“Untold will likely be finished with her personal business by then as well,” Seeker said, “We still do not know who is responsible for this; having her on hand to help combat the threat—”

Alana used her remaining arm to drag herself forward, the suit’s enhanced strength managing the task even in its damaged state. Her helmet was intact, but all the monitor could register was a thousand errors.

There was a dropoff that might have once been a window, and she tilted off the edge, spun once, and then smacked into the rubble below on her still armored side. It left her curling up in agony, her ruined side bright with pain.

Something moved in response to her landing, and she managed to turn her head just enough to see.

There was a heavily injured man, kneeling in the mess of the building, with his back to her. He was in the process of painfully turning to look in her direction, and her heart skipped a beat when she saw who it was.

“Loren?” Alana murmured.

The man blurred, and a second later, he stood with an unblemished blue bodysuit, looking as if he’d never been injured. A white oval mask had taken its place on his face, covering it entirely from view. There was something black and angular peeking over both of his shoulders, but she couldn’t see what it was.

Alana’s world was consumed by fire.

The final chapter for Reroll is up on Patreon!

I went ahead and combined the last two chapters of Reroll, so the final chapter is now Chapter 86; it’s been released on Patreon for the S-Rank and EX-Rank tiers. A-Ranks will get it on Friday, 3rd of September. The public readers will see it on the 6th of September. Most of my efforts have gone into story structure work for Contention, so the fanfiction drop is getting pushed back a week or so. 

What else?

Ameliorate chapter 11 is live, Chapter 8/12 of Systematic Soul Sorting has been narrated for the audio book. I’m going to do a proper edit pass on Reroll before formatting it into three books, roughly 90k words a book, and drop them on amazon for anyone that wants to own a copy.

Whew, now stop reading this note and go read the chapter!

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 86 – Finale
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 11

Chapter 83 – Interlude: Alice.

Upper Bridge Technical College, Setalite City East.
3:03 PM, Thursday, October 1st, 2015.

Alice Wroth returned to her seat feeling equally proud and embarrassed; Mrs. Rile clapped her hands together several times before calling the next student up.

“Nice one,” Emily Liddell said, voice slightly hoarse. “I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat.”

“You’ve finally fallen for me then?” Alice smiled, batting her eyelids. “It was bound to happen eventually.”

Emily snorted, reaching out and knocking her book off the table—Alice caught it before it could fall, smirk firmly in place. They quietened down while the boy that had taken her place at the front started singing and clapped when he’d finished.

“How’s your throat?” Alice asked.

Emily groaned, slumping back into her chair.

“Still hurts,” Emily sighed, “I’m supposed to be going in on Monday—I’ve already resigned myself to coming out of surgery sounding like a frog.”

Alice reached out and touched her wrist, and Emily snorted again.

“I’m sure it will work out,” Alice said, squeezing her arm. “But if it doesn’t, at least your voice will match your appearance—”

“Bitch,” Emily laughed, twisting her arm enough to pinch the skin of her wrist in retaliation.

Alice squeaked and retrieved her arm before she could pinch it again, eyeing her warily. Emily looked pleased with the caution and turned back to the front, clapping as the boy scuttled off stage, grinning.

Another girl was called up, and Alice turned back to Emily.

“Hey—the thought just occurred to me,” Alice nudged her shoulder, “If you do turn into a frog, I know a foolproof method to change you into a prince.”

“Uh-huh,” Emily smirked.

“I’m serious,” Alice doubled down, trying not to smile. “I read it in a book—that means it has to be true.”

“I don’t think that applies to fairy tales, Alice,” Emily said wryly.

They fell silent again, listening to the girl sing, and once she’d finished, they gave the customary round of applause.

“Did you get the new strings for your guitar?” Emily asked, fiddling with her pencil.

“I’m going tomorrow,” Alice said in answer, “There’s a new music shop that just opened up that I wanted to check out.”

“A new one?” Emily murmured, faintly interested, “Which side of the channel?”

“West-side,” Alice said, “Want to come with me?”

“Well, I’ll need to find something to play,” Emily sighed, “Which is a better look for a frog—Drums or violin?”

Alice pretended to give it some serious thought.

“For someone with your reputation?” Alice said, straight-faced. “A flute.”

“Idiot,” Emily laughed.

Wroth Residence, Setalite City West.
5:06 PM, Thursday, October 1st, 2015.

“I’m home,” Alice said, pushing the door open hard enough to make it bang against the wall. “What’s for dinner?”

The look on Karla Wroth’s face could have set her on fire—and Alice started laughing almost immediately.

“If that’s how you’re going to greet me from now on, daughter,” Karla said scathingly, completely unimpressed. “You’ll be eating the back of my hand.”

“Sorry, you know I’m just kidding,” Alice smiled. “How was your day, mum?”

Karla shook her head in exasperation and returned to unpacking the groceries she’d clearly picked up on her way back.

“Today was a mess,” Karla sighed, “I’ll never understand how people manage to hurt themselves in such strange ways.”

“Yeah?” Alice said, sitting down at the kitchen bench. “What happened this time?”

“This morning, a boy came in with the handlebars of his bike impaled through his stomach,” Karla said, turning to put the milk in the fridge. “He’d gotten in an accident while crossing the street.”

“Ew,” Alice said, wrinkling up her nose. “Was he alright—wait; how did he end up in triage? Shouldn’t he have been picked up wherever it happened and brought around the back?”

“It happened one street over from the hospital, and his friends carried both him and the bike in the front doors,” Karla said, sounding genuinely stumped. “They weren’t careful about it either; I’m almost certain they did more damage moving him than the bike did.”

“That’s… I don’t know if I should be impressed or shocked,” Alice admitted. “Was there blood everywhere?”

“Yes, Alice,” Karla said, exasperated, “Of course there was blood.”

“Gross,” Alice said before pausing. “Well, my day was even worse than that.”

Karla raised an eyebrow, turning back to look at her daughter.

“What happened?” Karla said, concerned.

“I was driving back from UBTC, right?” Alice said, frowning. “I crossed the bridge and then started heading home; I got halfway before I decided I might come in and see you first.”

“Oh, that would have been lovely,” Karla said, smiling.

Alice just nodded, continuing her story.

“Yeah, well, I never made it all the way,” Alice said, hesitating.

“Why?” Karla said gently, leaning forward. “Did something happen?”

“Yeah,” Alice murmured, before raising her voice, “I did this insane burnout around the corner of—”

Karla’s look of concern vanished.

You did not,”  Karla snapped, looking cross. “Alice—you better not have.”

“No, no—I really did,” Alice promised, miming the steering wheel being yanked to one side, sound effects and all. “I hit this dumb kid on a bike—BLAM!—sent him right to the hospital; it was awesome.”

“Of for the love of—” Karla said, snorting. “I raised an idiot.”

Alice just grinned.

Wroth Residence, Setalite City West.
8:17 AM, Friday, October 2nd, 2015.

Alice kicked the blankets down to the bottom of the bed in a flurry; she stretched out on the bed before slumping back down, content. Friday’s were easily the best day of the week—no class to go to, her mum was already at work, and there was nothing that required her to rush to get ready.

Alice could just relax and take the day at her own pace or sleep in, as she was occasionally prone to do. She caught sight of her guitar, the broken and missing string rendering it incomplete and unable to be played—at least not without a great deal of irritation.

That was one thing she actually had to do today—along with calling Emily to make sure she still wanted to come.

She could imagine Emily sitting alone in her room and wondering if her voice would be ruined in four days’ time… it must have been torture. Alice regretted that the place she had invited her to was so directly related to the thing she was dreading, but she hoped it would distract her a little bit.

Maybe she could drag Emily to the movies afterward? Or they could even go people watch at the mall; there would be ample distractions to be found there.

Alice eventually found herself getting up and out of bed, unable to sleep for any longer despite her best efforts. She whittled away the time, spending the day on her phone and enjoying the freedom to do nothing at all to its fullest.

Midday approached, and once she started to grow restless, she decided it was time to leave.

Alice sent off a message to Emily, demanding that she made herself available for their trip into the city, and waited impatiently for the reply.

In Transit, Setalite City West.
1:07 PM, Friday, October 2nd, 2015.

“Which one is that again?” Alice wondered, spinning the steering wheel. “There are so many these day’s—it’s getting hard to keep track of them.”

“That’s so lame,” Emily said sadly, shaking her head. “Why are you so lame?”

“Oh shut up,” Alice huffed, “I’ve heard about a few of the ones at the HQ—uh, Dovetail is one, right? Blue costume, twin scarf-tails?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him around,” Emily nodded, “There’s this one guy whose legs look like they belong to an elephant—have you seen him at least?”

“No,” Alice said bemused, “That must be awful—I suppose everyone knows his normal identity now?”

“Most likely, it’s not like you can really hide something like that,” Emily agreed. “Anyway, I was talking about Paragon; he’s super popular now.”

“Jog my memory?” Alice frowned.

“Uh, he’s super swole and has really long dreadlocks,”  Emily said, scratching her cheek. “Wears a dark grey bodysuit?”

The dreadlocks had been what triggered her memory—she’d seen him a few times on the news, the thing that stood out to get the most had been the incident with the moon.

“I’ve seen him,” Alice nodded, “He was the one who redirected the meteor away from the moon?”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” Emily said, smiling. “Are you impressed now? I even got a hug.”

“Yay,”  Alice said, deliberately underplaying her response. “So cool.”

“Ugh,” Emily huffed. “You could at least pretend to be impressed.”

“Impossible,” Alice said immediately, “I’m far too busy pretending that I’m not.”

Emily snorted.

“What’s he doing in Setalite City?” Alice wondered. “Is he even from here?”

“Uh, I don’t actually know where he’s from,” Emily admitted. “He was with Empress—don’t even tell me you don’t know about her, I swear to—”

“Of course I know about Empress,” Alice lied as she began to slow down. “Idiot.”

“Thank god for that,” Emily said as they came to a stop. “It was here, huh? Not exactly the shining palace you had me envisioning.”

“It’s a music shop, Emily,” Alice rolled her eyes, “What did you expect?”

“A shining palace,” Emily repeated, deadpanned. “Are you even listening to me?”

Alice climbed out of the car and closed the door behind her—they were parked pretty close to the corner, which made her a bit nervous.

“Think I should move up?”  Alice wondered. “Someone’s going to rear-end me.”

“That sounds like you problem to me!” Emily said, smiling.

Without waiting, Emily headed towards the store’s front door, and Alice was left to catch up—she sent a single glance back at her car, hoping it would remain undamaged while she was gone.

“Well, it’s a music store, alright,” Alice said, as the bell above the door rang out.

There was a man sitting behind the counter, who judging by his name tag, was the owner of the store. He looked like he’d been reading a book before they’d entered.

“Hi,” The owner said, looking a bit sheepish. “If you need any help, just call out.”

Emily capitalized on the offer almost immediately.

“Help, this strange woman is following me,” Emily said sadly. “I can’t seem to get rid of her, and she’s super lame—”

Alice pushed her down the first aisle and wrinkled her nose.

“Ignore her,” Alice said, “We’ll be fine, thanks.”

The amused man just nodded before returning to his book.

Aleck’s Missed Beats, Setalite City West.
1:17 PM, Friday, October 2nd, 2015.

The siren that began to ring out across the city reached them in a wave of noise, and Alice turned to look up at the front of the store, startled.

“What on earth is that?” Alice said, suddenly worried.

“It’s one of the three sirens that everyone was talking about at the beginning of the year,” Emily said, hesitant. “I don’t know which one.”

As the sirens got closer as more and more of them began to repeat the alarm; a strange feeling started to come over Alice, and she looked down at her hands, confused. Emily strode past her towards the front of the store, and Alice hesitantly began to follow.

The owner, Aleck, was still behind the counter, standing up and looking out of the window, but he glanced over at them for a moment.  Alice stopped at the end of the aisle; every step she took was like something was building up inside her.

What was this?

“What are we supposed to do?” Emily frowned, talking to them both. “One of them means to evacuate the city, right?”

Alice felt the words wash over her, and the feeling of being filled with something continued to grow.

“I think this was the one that we were supposed to stay indoors for,” Aleck said, frowning. “They all sound too similar—they should have made them more distinct; I’ll look it up.”

He turned to move towards the computer at the front counter, and Alice turned to look up as a wave of something passed through the wall, followed by a bang that rocked the entire store. The noise hit her, and she found her body energized in a way she’d never felt before.

Alice turned away from the wall as it began to fold inwards towards her, but everything was moving so slowly—she recognized the back end of her car as it was shunted through the front of the store. It hit her dead on, awful pressure pressed against her as her body bent around it, and then all she felt was pain as the ceiling collapsed down onto them.

Her stomach and chest burned like she’d been scraped across something rough, and she couldn’t move at all. Something impossibly heavy was pushing her down into the boot of her car; she could barely breathe, chest compressed from both sides.

A muffled noise reached her, and she felt a tiny spark of energy within her that faded within seconds. It came again a few moments later, and she could almost decipher it—

“Alice…” Emily cried, somewhere to her right. “I can’t breathe….”

Alice sobbed at the noise, unable to move her chest enough to respond. Her own choked noises failed to build any of that strange feeling that continued to spark and vanished with every desperate plea that Emily made.

The world shook, and something metal screeched loud enough to be heard even under all of the debris. Alice felt her chest expand, the pressure lessening for just long enough to gain a desperate breath, and then sobbed again as the energy began to fade away, used up to withstand the awful pressure crushing her.

Alice remained there, slowly suffocating, except for brief moments when whatever was happening outside reached her, and then it began anew as the energy faded.

Emily’s cries stopped completely, and Alice pleaded with her to keep speaking—her vision was growing black again as she struggled to breathe…

Alice woke up again as an ear-splitting crack rent the air, and she sucked in a choked breathe. A series of rumbles grew louder until everything shook like a giant had wrapped its fist around the building.

She tried to move again, and this time had some success, bringing her arm closer in an attempt to leverage her chest off the boot of her car. This time when the energy faded, she wished she hadn’t moved at all, as her arm was crushed painfully beneath her.

Something bright and silver passed through the rubble, stopping directly in front of her face. A tiny orb, translucent and glowing, like energy only vaguely present.

“You are going to die soon,” The light whispered. “Tell me your name.”

Alice couldn’t help but notice the lack of energy the sound brought with it, like it wasn’t really sound at all. The light mixing about inside the orb wavered for a moment before solidifying once more.

“Alice…” Alice managed.

It began to slowly move towards her face, creeping closer as if it found the motion difficult.

“Do you want me to save you, Alice?” The orb whispered.

“Emily…” Alice choked out. “Save her… please….”

“I lack the power to save Emily,” The orb whispered, “Give me yours.”

She did.

The results of these polls are pretty funny. Do you guys even remember Hoister? I did that guy dirty. Here’s the first interlude; enjoy.

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 85
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10

Chapter 82

“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.”

Alicia hesitated—

“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

Chapter 81

Releasing the two heroes seemed to have garnered some level of goodwill from the stoic man because he didn’t dismiss his words out of hand. Magnitude stepped closer to her teammate, turning her head just enough to keep everyone in view, and the two began to speak in low tones.

Realm leaned over the arm of his throne towards them, able to hear but not offering anything to the conversation, and very quickly, the boy began to grow visibly restless.

“I’ve got two questions; Who is this bodysnatcher?” Realm said, the words practically bursting out. “Who’s the body that got snatched?”

Loren couldn’t help but notice how young he was—his lack of seriousness and the way he remained in his chair despite the otherwise tense atmosphere spoke of an immaturity that Loren could only apply to that of a very young teenager.

“The bodysnatcher is Starsealer,” Loren said, ripping the bandaid off. “And the body it’s inhabiting is Untold.”

Realm scratched his cheek, not at all moved by the earth-shattering reveal—he’d likely been too young to hear about the creature when it had first appeared. Learning about it afterward, through osmosis, just didn’t have the same level of threat involved.

“What?” Magnitude said, her response far more severe, far more engaged. “Starsealer is dead. There’s no way—”

She’d broken off from the conversation with Interstice entirely, and the man spoke up.

“It’s interesting that you’re saying that one of the biggest threats that ever appeared in Setalite City is back in the land of the living,” Interstice said, voice level. “On the exact same day that the city is destroyed, and all of its residents are killed.”

Loren took a moment to guess at the best way forward.

“I’m from Setalite City,” Loren said seriously, “I was born there, and up until a few days ago, I was working with both the Hero HQ and the Peacekeepers.”

“Have you got any proof of that?” Magnitude said, frowning. “These are all just words on a figurative page.”

“I could list off the identities of half their Rapid Response Team—I could reveal the identities of most of the people from Epilogue; who we were trying to capture,” Loren said flatly, one after another, “I could tell you the identities of Paragon and Untold. I could explain the details of the power of the guy who destroyed the city.”

Magnitude looked hesitant, but Interstice spoke up again.

“You could tell us each of those things, and they might even be true individually,” Interstice said, voice steady. “None of that would prove that Untold is currently being controlled by Starsealer.”

The fact that the man was actively disregarding everything he said without even trying to confirm any of it just served to reignite his fading anger. They were stalling, wasting his time digging for more information and waiting out the clock while reinforcements were likely on the way.

“You’re just fishing for more information now,” Loren gritted out, clenching his fist. “I have less than an hour before Untold turns up here and starts pulling out as many powers as she needs to put me down—after that happens, are you going to believe me? Guess what, it’ll be too late.”

“Who is she?” Magnitude said, nodding to Alicia. “What role does she play in this?”

Loren closed his eyes to calm himself.

“My name is Alicia Anderson,” Alicia said quietly.

Magnitude frowned, and Loren knew the name would mean nothing to them, but he might be able to draw the connections for them.

“There is a conspiracy at work here,” Loren said flatly, “It’s been happening since before Ragdim City was erased.”

“What type of conspiracy?”  Realm asked, clearly the only one who actually wanted to know.

“Meteor was created by Morgan, the same woman who you know as Tiamat,” Loren said, summarising. “She’s working with Starsealer now, and you’ve seen the results this morning.”

“It’s true,” Alicia said, wringing her hands. “I used to be a part of Meteor; I’ve seen what she did.”

“How could you have been a part of Meteor?” Magnitude said, frowning. “You don’t look a day over twenty—”

“I don’t age,” Alicia murmured. “I know Morgan doesn’t either.”

“So you’re immortal?” Realm said, impressed. “What’s Meteor?”

“Realm.” Magnitude said seriously.

“Sorry,” Realm sighed, sitting back in his throne.

“Why were you in a cell?” Interstice said, watching him.

“Because I was working with the Rapid Response Team to stop Setalite City from getting destroyed,” Loren said, “I failed—obviously, but that was because we didn’t know Untold was the mastermind behind everything; she was sitting there at the table with us when we were planning how to capture them and then feeding the information straight to Tiamat.”

“Assume for a second that I believe you about the existence of a bodysnatcher,” Interstice said, “Why wouldn’t I think that it’s you—You’re asking us to believe it’s one of the most famous heroes in the world.”

“Because, if I was Starsealer,” Loren said, doing his very best to keep his temper, “Why would I still be here talking to you? Why would I have let you go? Why wouldn’t I have just killed all three of you and been done with it?”

“I mean, it looked like Interstice was holding his own against you,” Realm said, shrugging.

“Realm,” Magnitude said flatly.

Realm grunted, clearly displeased with being sidelined in the conversation. The off-handed comment diverted entirely from the contents of his argument and left them all once more at an impasse.

“Paragon’s been missing for a few days now, and we know he wasn’t at ground zero,” Interstice said, watching.“How’s does he fit into this?”

“That’s an entire discussion all on its own,” Loren said, shaking his head. “So I’ll give you the short version—he’s most likely been dead for months; what you’ve been seeing is a copy that Tiamat and The Researcher made.”

“I’ve seen him all over the news,” Interstice said, frowning. “He’s made physical appearances all over the world in the last two months—you’re not making any sense.”

“Because you’re not listening to what I’m saying—you’re trying to derive motives instead of taking the words at face value,” Loren snapped, “Ask yourself why I’d make up such a far-fetched story when I could have just left at any time and not told you anything at all!”

“Absurdity might be your go-to strat,” Realm interjected again, “Baffle us with bullshit, you know?”

Magnitude sent him a look that, when combined with the appropriate ‘Expression,’ could have killed the boy, and Loren closed his eyes again, realizing that this wasn’t going to get any better.

“This is taking too long,” Loren said flatly. “Either you believe me, or you don’t; make a decision on your own time. I’m not ready to fight her yet, and I can’t waste any more time here humoring you while it gets worse.”

“You need to calm down; we can work this out, I promise.” Magnitude said, projecting a sympathetic voice. “You know we can’t just let you go—”

“You can’t make us stay,” Alicia mumbled. “You aren’t strong enough.”

“Damn,” Realm said, once more impressed. “That was like a line from a manga—”

Realm!” Magnitude snapped.

“I’ll leave you with this,” Loren said, “Untold will show up here within the next couple of hours; I can guarantee it. When you see her using a bunch of powers that she shouldn’t have and doing her best to murder me, you better help me kill her—or she’s going to do to everyone what she did to Paragon.”

“Wait,” Magnitude said, “We can still talk—”

“Cube,” Loren said.

The scenery changed instantly as the Cube teleported them into a store and then outside in the car park on the other side of the wall. Twice more, the world changed before they stopped inside an alleyway.

“That went even worse than I expected,” Loren said, frustrated. “Cube, find our next target.”

“Our remaining targets are all currently moving,” Cube said. “One moment.”

“All of them?” Alicia said.

“Prickpunch is currently driving a vehicle back into the city,” Cube said, “Malaise is skateboarding near the beachfront, and Flume has just arrived at the public swimming pool.”

“That’s really invasive,” Alicia said quietly. “How are you actually locating everyone?”

“Each person possesses a telecommunications device, which makes it a simple task to locate their exact position,” Cube said, “Once I have that information, I can sift through the many video recording devices throughout the city to track their position in real-time.”

“Not exactly a proponent of privacy, are you?” Loren murmured.

“If Privacy was their goal,” Cube said, “then they should have made it more difficult for us to access.”

“That’s a terrible argument,” Loren frowned, following the floating cubes lead out of the alleyway. “You could use that to justify any number of terrible things.”

Cube seemed to consider his words.

“If you could provide an example?” Cube said.

Loren sent a glance up to the Cube and thought for a moment.

“If you didn’t want to get stabbed in the face, you should have made it more difficult for me to stab you in the face,” Loren said, waving his hand vaguely. “Acting against those weaker than yourself just because they can’t deter you isn’t something you should be doing Cube—you absolutely need a valid reason that exists outside of ‘they couldn’t stop me.’”

“An interesting rule,” Cube said. “Do all humans adhere to this principle?”

“No,” Loren said flatly, “That’s why it’s such a problem.”

Alicia ducked her head, no doubt making the direct connection to the monster she had followed and the fractured lives that had been left in their wake.

“Tiamat, Starsealer, Marrow, Levima—none of them have a valid reason to justify the things they’ve done,” Loren said quietly. “They only see their desires, and they’ll destroy anyone or anything that gets in their way—they couldn’t be deterred, so they acted out their will on the world.”

“Morgan had a reason,” Alicia mumbled.

The bubblings of anger were still present, just beneath the surface, and he turned a harsh eye towards her.

“You think she has something that justifies the things she has done?” Loren frowned. “I’d love to hear that, Alicia.”

“I’m not—I wasn’t trying to justify it….” Alicia said quickly before trailing off. “It’s just….”

Loren waited, feeling the stirrings of guilt rising and overtaking his anger—he brought his hand up to his face. He was such a mess; everything was becoming too much again; how was he supposed just to take all of this in stride?

“She told us that we were saving the planet,” Alicia said, cradling her wrist. “Stopping all the waste, the pollution, the destruction of habitats, forests, rivers, and lakes—that was her goal; I don’t think she was lying about that.”

Protecting the environment was a good goal, and if it had been anyone else, he’d have been on board with it—but that line ran out the moment your actions started actively harming innocent people.

“It’s a noble goal in principle, but she lost the right to live free when she started killing innocents,” Loren voiced his thoughts. “You just have to look at what she did to you or the countless other lives she’s ruined to see that whatever dream she might have once had is hollow—she’s as much of a monster as her namesake.”

Evelynn Miller may have looked the part of a monster, but Tiamat and The Researcher had been the ones who’d turned her into Taker.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter what we think,” Loren said, forcing everything down and away. “Tiamat obviously thinks her methods are justified, and people have acted on much less than that.

As it turned out, Prickpunch’s daylight identity was that of a policewoman—which was almost as unfortunate as Magnitude’s status as a hero. Worse, she was currently performing a car patrol of the city with her partner.

It made getting close enough to her to copy her power a difficult thing to do without alerting even more people to their presence.

“What does she do?” Alicia asked.

“Prickpunch is capable of emitting a conceptual energy attack; it appears as a straight line of energy that shatters barriers and breaks guards,” Cube said, “It has been shown to work against a wide variety of defenses but doesn’t inflict any actual damage by itself.”

“Can you stop the car somehow?” Loren mumbled, hood up to cover his hair.

“Yes,” Cube said.

A flicker of silver appeared near the back wheel of the police car before the car sagged down at the back left corner. The driver turned the car off onto the side of the road and put it in park before the doors opened.

Loren watched them step out and couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed; They were a beacon of authority that even Loren wouldn’t have messed with when he was younger because fighting with the police as a civilian had no win condition, and despite his many issues, he wasn’t stupid.

The Loren that had once stared up at his ceiling every other night, wondering when his neighbor would just go to sleep, would have never risked it. He’d spent all those years locked away, and with his history, it would have been a one-way ticket back to hell.

“What did you even run over?” Loren said as they passed by the car. “I heard the pop from back there.”

May, according to the name tag, tossed a glance up at him from where she was inspecting the flattened tire.

“Not too sure,” Prickpunch sighed, standing up. “Nothing sticking out of the tire that I can see—suppose it’s better that it happened now while we’re in the city.”

The male partner was leaning against the front passenger door, speaking into a phone quietly.

“True enough, getting a flat out in the sticks would be rough,” Loren agreed. “I’m curious, do police have a tow truck stashed away for this kind of thing, or do you just call up a local one like everyone else?”

Prickpunch looked equal parts amused and annoyed at the question.

“Like some kind of privately operated tow-truck?” Prickpunch said bemused, “Nothing like that here, we carry spares usually, but as it happens, our spare is currently already installed on the front right—we’re gonna get someone to bring us a new one.”

“I’ve played enough video games to know that after dark, the road turns into territory war between the cops and the car clubbers,” Loren said, raising an eyebrow. “That’s the real reason, right? Too many skids? All our tax money is going to pay for your tires, huh?”

“Far too many video games, I’d say,” Prickpunch snorted. “Might have been more fun if that was the case.”

Alicia tapped his palm with the same signal as earlier.

“I bet,” Loren said, feigning a smile. “Hope you get it sorted out soon.”

He tossed a wave at the officer before continuing on his way.

“Mmhm.” Prickpunch sighed, crouching back down near the wheel.

He almost couldn’t believe it had been that easy, and every step he took away from the police car was one spent wondering if he was going to be shot in the back of the head.

“Guard Break Replicated.” Cube said. “We have now accumulated the minimum amount of Expressions for an engagement.”

“You don’t want the last two?” Loren frowned.

“I said no such thing,” Cube said. “I welcome more Expressions; collecting them is one of my primary functions.”

“What are the other ones?” Loren wondered.

“Protecting the host—” Cube said, before pausing. “and taking over the world.”

“Uh-huh,” Loren said dryly. “If you’re going to do that, at least wait until we deal with the existing existential threats before becoming the next one, yeah?”

“I will be patient,” Cube agreed.

The Peacekeeper poll up on RR was pretty evenly spread, with Paragon pulling out in front, Alleviate, Untold, and Artisan following up. I’m interested to see the results of this one as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, the last chapter of Reroll is rapidly approaching us; I’m still tightening the chapters up, and one of the Interludes is now up on Patreon. Chapter 87 is looking like it will be the final.

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 83 – Interlude Alice.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10

Chapter 80

They left quickly, leaving Prudence sprawled on the floor and covered in articles of too-expensive clothing. The smoke from the store’s back corner was still emerging from its unknown source, and it was now pouring out of the front of the store.

In a city this small, it was going to draw in the local heroes within minutes.

“What caused all that smoke?” Loren said quietly as they strode away from the store.

“One of the many devices Prudence had hidden on her person,” Cube said, “She dropped it when the sweater began to consume her.”

“Yikes,” Loren said.

“How is the new upgrade, Cube?” Alicia wondered.

“It is remarkable,” Cube said, “A moment has become a minute, and a minute an hour.”

“That much?” Loren wondered. “Sounds costly.”

“Very much so,” Cube said, “Our next target will help in that regard.”

“Can you tell us about them?” Alicia asked.

Cube elaborated.

“Nigritude is a new hero, having revealed himself only four months ago.” Cube said, “He has openly refused to join the Hero HQ when asked and has been quite antagonistic towards the local members.”

“What can he do?” Loren prompted.

“He has a high level of control over an esoteric black energy source,” Cube said, “It appears to enhance his durability, strength and allows him the ability to fly.”

“You can already do that with Antaeus—Uh, the Kinetic Shield Power,” Loren said, wincing. “Sorry.”

Alicia turned her head away from them both, and Loren wondered if someone had performed a manual check of the cell…

“How does that help with your energy problems?” Alicia mumbled, “Does it absorb kinetic energy like Gyrate does?”

“Not quite, Alicia,” Cube said, “He has revealed that his expression is powered by the sun—albeit the language he used to describe it was far more colorful.”

“Diversifying your ability to gain energy is probably a good idea,” Alicia said quietly.

“Indeed.” Cube agreed.

If either Alice or Morgan had checked and found him missing, then it would mean that Alice might already be on her way—in which case they were quickly running out of time.

“Cube, do you know if anyone checked the cell?” Loren said, frowning.

“Unknown,” Cube said, “Its physical location makes it impossible to scan from our current position, and without knowing the location of the device that connects to it remotely, I would need to check every computational module on your planet’s network for a connection.”

“Shit,” Loren mumbled. “What’s the time?”

“Current Time: 8:52 AM.” Cube said, “The pattern created by the logs suggests an average period of four hours between manual checks.”

“We’ve already spent two of those hours,” Alicia mumbled.

“Which means we have two hours left before Alice comes looking for us,” Loren said, “If she isn’t coming already—is there anything we can do right now to make it harder to find us?”

“I have been scrubbing our presence from every recording device in the area and replacing it with doctored footage since we have arrived in Hanta City,” Cube said. “Facial recognition attempts will fail to discover you.”

“Is there anybody on this island with the ability to hide from someone who’s trying to find them with an expression?” Loren wondered.

“How would I find such a person if there was?” Cube said.

Alicia was quick to hide her smile when he glanced her way. Loren just shook his head—they were conspiring against him again.

Loren followed the Cubes faultless sense of direction, eventually coming upon a park right in the middle of central. There was a large body of water, ringed with benches, picnic tables, and even a small pier that lay flat against the surface of the water.

It was a beautiful place.

When he came to a stop next to one of the benches and got his first good look at Nigritude, he was surprised. An old man had to be approaching his eighties and was completely wrinkled from head to toe. The man turned at their presence, and Loren could see that his eyes were heavily sunken.

Alicia lifted her hand in greeting and smiled kindly at the man.

“What the fuck are you two runny shits looking at?” The old man grumbled, tossing a handful of bread into the water for the ducks. “If I wanted company, I’d have asked for it.”

Alicia quickly dropped her hand, looking flustered.

“We’re looking at the pond, asshole,” Loren said, annoyed at the rudeness. “If I wanted company, it wouldn’t be a surly old fucker like you.”

The old man snorted.

“Show some fucking respect,” The old man snapped, tossing another handful into the water, “I was building this town when you were still running down your mother’s leg.”

Alicia covered her mouth at the language.

“After meeting your bitter old ass,” Loren said, squinting at the man and folding his arms. “I think I’d rather have ended up on your mom’s face.”

Alicia grabbed him by the sleeve in warning, a clear chastisement for matching the man’s energy.

“Shut the fuck up,” The old man grumbled, “What’s that fucking floating thing doing, huh? You come here for a fight?”

Loren winced, and Cube bumped into his arm, signaling that it had finished its task.

“It’s my day off,” Loren hedged. “How’d you know it was there?”

The man eyed him like someone who was checking the bottom of their shoe for shit.

“You think I wouldn’t feel that?” The old man responded. “Fucking dumbass.”

“We really were just watching the pond,” Alicia tried.

“There are a million ponds in the world, and you drippy shitbags chose this one,” The man grunted, “If you aren’t here for me, then fuck off to the other side where I don’t have to look at you.”

 “Honestly, I think you’ve ruined ponds for me entirely,” Loren admitted, shaking his head. “Enjoy your retirement, Satan.”

“Cunt,” The man grumbled.

Loren restrained himself from calling something back to the man—mostly because Alicia was giving him the stink eye.

“What?” Loren said, defensive. “He set the tone for that discussion.”

“Exo Energy Replicated.” Cube said once they were far enough away that the man couldn’t hear them. “Solar Absorption Replicated.”

“How did he see you?” Loren asked in the hopes of distracting Alicia from glaring at him.

“The Solar Absorption Expression has a five-meter area of effect, centered on his person,” Cube said, “It is clear when someone is within its range, my own invisible form would have registered inside it as your own did.”

“We’re lucky he didn’t go in on us then,” Loren frowned. “Who’s our next target?”

“Magnitude,” Cube said, “She is currently two blocks away, inside the Hanta City Hero HQ.”


“How the hell are we supposed to do this one?” Loren said, hesitating. “Going into a Hero HQ through the front doors has rarely worked for me in the past.”

“What do you mean?” Alicia said, not understanding.

Loren scratched his cheek for a moment, thinking back to those first few loops. He wished more than anything that he could go back to those; it had seemed too difficult at the time, but now…

“I tried a bunch of times to give information to the Hero HQ in Setalite City,” Loren admitted, “I messed it up so many times—it’s given me a healthy aversion to just walking in through the front doors without having someone on the inside looking out for me.”

Loren closed his eyes, thinking of Alana; he hadn’t asked because then he’d know, and knowing would just ruin him further, but…

All of your allies are dead.

“Hey, Cube?” Loren said.

The Cube spun slowly to face him.

“When this is all over, remind me to tell you about a friend of mine,” Loren said quietly, changing his mind. “I think you would have liked her.”

“I will remind you, Loren.” Cube agreed.

“Thanks, man,” Loren mumbled.

Loren took a deep breath and then let it out through his nose in a burst of air.

“We need to get Magnitude out of the Hero HQ,” Loren said, nodding. “Suggestions?”

Alicia spoke up.

“Cube, could you find her phone number?” Alicia said hesitantly, “I could call it and ask her to come to talk to me about something? I could use the abduction for authenticity?”

“Searching,” Cube said, “One moment, please.”

“If I got a call like that,” Loren said, frowning, “I probably wouldn’t come alone.”

“Neither would I,” Alicia admitted, looking down at her feet.

“I have located the number that redirects to her work line within the building.” Cube said, “I can mimic the telecommunications system that is used to connect to it.”

It wasn’t like they had time to mess around—they’d just have to wing it.

“Alright, then let’s move away from the park,” Loren said, looking back to the pond. “I’d rather not get the old bastard involved if it goes badly.”

“Don’t call him that,” Alicia chastised.

“What can Magnitude do?” Loren asked, ignoring her.

“Magnitude’s expression allows her to increase or reduce the effect of something,” Cube said, “It appears to work within a two-meter radius or through touch.”

“Increase or reduce the effect,” Loren said, wondering how he would use a power like that if he’d gotten it. “Got any examples of things she uses it for?”

“Engaging in melee combat with Magnitude is highly ill-advised.” Cube said. “She will reduce the effectiveness of your defense, reflexes, and strength while increasing the effectiveness of her own.”

“Does it work on other things?” Loren clarified, “Wind pressure? Gravity? Other powers?”

“Yes,” Cube said.

“Okay—that’s a really good power; I take back what I said about you being an over-engineered Square,” Loren decided. “My faith in you has been completely restored.”

“I wish I could say the same for you, Loren.” Cube responded.

Loren huffed.

The three of them moved away from the Hero HQ itself. Once they were far enough away to avoid any instant consequences, Cube got to work.

“Connecting, now.” Cube said.

A woman’s voice suddenly emitted from the Cube.

“This is Magnitude,” Magnitude said, “I thought I was off the streets for the week?”

“Um,” Alicia said, fumbling now that the pressure was on.

“Who is this?” Magnitude said, confused, “How did you get this number?”

“Um, my name is Alicia,” Alicia said, flustered.  “I’m—I was abducted a long time ago, and I’ve just escaped—there’s a man with me, he’s the one who saved me, he knew your number.”

“Alicia, “ Magnitude said, voice changing to be far more comforting. “Are you currently in any danger? Where are you?”

Loren shook his head no—indicating where they actually were would just have the other woman send heroes down on their heads.

“I don’t want to tell you—I don’t know who I can trust now,” Alicia said quietly. “And everything is so confusing and different.”

Loren turned away; the pain in her voice was genuine and not something she had to fake. The people who she had invested so much of her trust in had done things to her that he could still barely comprehend.

They had a lot in common, he and Alicia—two ruined souls who were struggling along in the aftermath and trying to find their way back to the path.

“I can meet you wherever you’d like,” Magnitude said soothingly, “Are you in Hanta City?”

“I am,” Alicia admitted.

“How about we meet in public?” Magnitude said gently.

“Magnitude did not come alone, as we expected.” Cube said from inside the handbag they had purchased for Alicia. “There are two other heroes present; Realm, in civilian clothing, is pretending to browse the clothing at ‘Trends and Sets,’ while Interstice is currently following us in full hero attire.”

“What do you mean following us?” Loren said, “How did they know it’s us?”

“They do not,” Cube said, “But they are likely keeping track of men and women pairs who have entered the mall within the last five minutes.”

“So they are just investigating?” Alicia said quietly.

“Correct.” Cube said.

Loren felt a hand settle in his own, and he did his best not to react to Alicia holding his hand; she bumped against his arm, and he bumped her back.

“The one who’s following us,” Loren said, frowning, “What’s his power?”

“Unknown,” Cube said, “No records or footage exists of his power—there is a single forum post suggesting he was seen walking through gunfire unharmed, so the possibility of a durability enhancing power is high.”

“How does he capture villains?” Loren said, frowning.

“Much like Magnitude, he is primarily a melee combatant,” Cube said, “I’d advise against fighting him in hand to hand if a confrontation occurs.”

“Hey, I’m something of a kung-fu expert myself,” Loren said idly.

Loren let Alicia lead him around to the shops, acting the part of the boyfriend-slash-pack mule. He soon found himself loaded down with a bag full of clothing that neither of them wanted.

“Interstice has moved onto another couple,” Cube said, “Suggestion; follow him.”

Loren wasn’t sure that was a great idea, but Alicia tugged him along beside her. The man was short, with a streak of grey on the left side of his short brown hair—he pegged him at the mid-forties. His face was covered in a solid mask that shrouded everything from the hairline down, leaving no room to see out of.

Alicia tapped her finger on his palm twice, the agreed-upon signal for ‘Cube is replicating.’

They’d been following him for less than a quarter of a minute before he stopped moving.

“Why are you following me?” Interstice wondered, turning around.


“That’s my line,” Loren said immediately. “You were following us for almost fifteen minutes.”

Interstice seemed a bit nonplussed to have it turned back on him and casually reached up and touched a finger to his ear once before leaving the arm to drop back to his side.

“Sorry, I should have been more clear.” Interstice said, eyeing them. “Why does the voice in her handbag want you to follow me?”

How the fuck did he know that? Why was every god damned person they run into hyper-aware of everything around them? Couldn’t they just get a single person who didn’t realize what was going on?

“I have been detected, Loren.” Cube decided before pausing. “Localised Portal Generation Replicated.”

“Cube,” Loren groaned.

“Possible power copier.” Interstice said seriously, not talking to them. “Assume he’s got my abilities.”

“Be advised: Magnitude and Realm are now moving towards us.” Cube said.

Someone pulled the fire alarm, and a siren rang out. People began moving towards the exits, brushing past them. Loren and Alicia remained there, staring at the hero opposite as the mall was quickly abandoned.

“I’m not here to fight,” Loren said eventually.

Those types of lines never seemed to work, but he was holding out hope that one day that might change.

“Realm is aiming at us,” Cube said, “Suggestion; Attack.”

Loren didn’t have a chance to respond, as a white energy shield, the size of his palm appeared in mid-air with a buzz. A large white orb crashed into it an instant later, expanded outwards, and began rapidly coating everything in the mall in a white chalk-like substance.

The Environmental shield came up in time to protect them, but it might not have mattered because the substance didn’t stick to Interstice either.

Shapes began to form in the chalk, lifting into roughly humanoid figures that held way more mass than should be possible for such a thin layer of powder. Wires started appearing in the empty air above them, stabbing downwards into each of the figures.

The army of white figures stopped dead in their tracks before turning on their creator.

“He’s got Marionette’s power!” Realm called out, “I’ve lost control!”

“Don’t make anymore!” Magnitude called back.

Magnitude reached them, fist outstretched—a white circle of energy appeared in front of her strike. It stopped it cold, but the shield shattered as her power stripped it of its potency seconds after the impact.

Loren turned as Interstice attacked from the opposite side and attempted to check the man’s kick with his own. Instead, a white projectile lanced out of thin air and impacted Interstice’s armored leg, turning it aside.

Loren retreated back to Alicia as more of the projectiles began raining down on the hero. They never reached him, as they started disappearing in mid-air as Interstice used his own abilities to create a wall of portals to intercept the Rapid-Fire Kinetic Cannon.

“S2! Incoming—” Realm managed to call out before being dragged down under the chalk-figure army.

A silver ball hit the ground, bounced once—and then disappeared as Cube shunted it into a portal and out of sight. Magnitude spun, attempting to fight both the chalk figures that had turned on her from behind while still avoiding the projectiles that were peppering her position—within seconds, Magnitude went down, overwhelmed by the assault. Magnitude and Realm were dragged across the powder-covered floor and deposited on the ground beside them, the costumes they wore now animate and actively restraining them.

Interstice, the last of them still capable of fighting, had surrounded himself with portals, watching them from behind his blank mask.

“Interstice—we really aren’t here to fight,” Loren said, sighing. “We need help if anything.”

The fact that neither Interstice nor the Cube made any further move to attack made Loren think he might be able to salvage the situation after all.

“I’m listening,” Interstice said, voice flat.

“Look,” Loren said, “That abduction thing Alicia called in? It was completely real; we both managed to escape, but the thing that did it is a body snatcher, it’s currently hijacking the body of a very famous hero, and it’s out looking for us.”

“Magnitude Manipulation Replicated,” Cube said, “Construct Generation; Chalk Replicated.”

Loren took a deep breath and then very slowly let it out.

“Do you have any proof?” Interstice said, “Without evidence, it’s a story, and I’ve got evidence that you’re running around stealing powers right in front of me.”

“That’s because I am running around and stealing powers—I don’t care if anyone finds out,” Loren admitted, “The bodysnatcher has hundreds of powers, and I’ve only got a limited amount of time before I have to fight it—Cube, what’s the time?”

“Current Time; 9:03 AM,” Cube said. “Be Advised; Magnitude has begun reducing the effect of my control over her clothing.”

“Move them over to Interstice and let them go,” Loren said before continuing. “I’ve got less than an hour until the bodysnatcher realizes we’re missing from the cell they had us in.”

Cube did so, sliding them across the floor by their still animate clothes and then retracting the wires. Magnitude slowly got to her feet, hand still hooked into her collar in case her clothing suddenly turned on her again, while Realm seemed to be slowly lifting up off the floor as a chalk throne grew beneath him.

“It’s going to find us and kill us if I don’t kill it first,” Loren finished, “That’s our current situation.”

Another one down.

Ladies and gentlemen, the last chapter of Reroll is rapidly approaching us; the Updated estimate puts the end at either Chapter 88 or Chapter 87. 

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 82 – Live.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10

Chapter 79

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.

Or not.

“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.

Loren winced.

“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

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Chapter 78

“With the Expressions that you have now,” Loren said, eyeing the Cube. “Can we kill her?”

Loren wanted to think that it was possible, but given the fact that she had gone toe to toe with Paragon while the man had hundreds of capes at his back made him think that the Kinetic Cannon might not cut it.

“It is unlikely,” Cube said. “Given the vast nature of her own collection, I would suggest replicating more expressions before the confrontation.”

“Can you replicate my power?” Loren said on a whim.

The Cube seemed to pause, either unsure of what he was asking or perhaps giving it more thought than Loren had thought it might need.

“You mean replicating the cube?” Alicia said hesitantly. “So there would be two of them?”

Loren blinked.

“What—No, that Cube isn’t actually my expression.” Loren sighed. “It’s just the one I have right now.”

Alicia looked like she wanted more information, and he couldn’t exactly blame her.

“Fascinating,” Cube said, “Given my recent materialization, I was under the impression that I was your original expression.”

“You’re pretty far down that list, if I’m honest,” Loren admitted before hesitating. “Can you see anything that might indicate my actual power? I already know what it does, but I’m curious if you can actually see it.”

Alicia gave him a look of suspicion, and for a moment, Loren felt like he was back in class with Isaac, roleplaying as that one kid who definitely had a girlfriend—she just went to a different school, promise.

“I am the only expression observably attached to your body,” Cube said, “There are, however, indications that expressions have existed prior; Biological machinery that is no longer functional and is alien to the human body is present. Scarring and imperfectly healed damage in notable areas of your brain also suggest the presence of memory-related expressions being used against you.”

Leftover biological machinery? It could have been the pheromone power. The damage in his brain was far more alarming, but he could probably put that down to the Geas he’d used against himself—or even the movement copying power.

The only upside to this savepoint occurring was that he’d kept all those techniques Mongoose had shown him. He’d woken up in Antaeus with that power still running, and once he’d reset, he lost the power to copy and store movements, but the ones that were already ingrained in his body were still very much intact.

He’d trade all those kicks and punches for his friends back in an instant.

“When I was younger, I accidentally used a mental power against myself,” Loren said slowly, “Forced myself to forget all the memories of when I first unlocked my power, it kept running for years afterward until it finally ran out of battery—is that what the damage is from?”

Cube hummed in the air for a moment, considering.

“Location and severity of scarring suggest that it is highly likely,” Cube said. “Not all the damage present is accounted for by this, however.”

Loren just nodded.

“Your power changes?” Alicia said into the silence.

“Sometimes,” Loren admitted. “It’s conditional.”

He didn’t want to speak too much about it, so he left it at that.

“There is an anomaly within you; I find it extremely difficult to remain focused on it,” Cube said, “It is not attached to your physical body in any discernable way but appears to be locked to your body’s position in space.”

An anomaly?

“Well, that’s terrifying,” Loren said, frowning. “What is it?”

“Unknown,” Cube said.

“Take a guess, Cube.” Loren pressed.

“It is most likely a gate or a link of some kind.” Cube said, “Attempts to scan the other side fail; my own energy is incapable of passing through the opening without being focused to a dangerous level, and such force would most likely kill you.”

Not exactly something that made him feel any better about the situation—Loren shook his head.

“We’re getting distracted,” Loren sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “We were discussing how to kill Alice when she finds us.”

“Correct,” Cube said, “In order to increase our chances against the entity, I suggest finding and replicating more expressions.”

“Where are we now?” Loren ask. “You said this place had a city of some kind? Does it have local heroes?”

Cube hummed again.

“Hanta City, a coastal city that possesses a population of approximately 40,000 people, most of which are directly west of our current position, albeit there are pockets of smaller communities spread all across the island.” Cube said immediately, “News articles, forum posts, and archive footage suggests an approximate superhuman population of 312.5.”

Loren had never heard of the city before, but it didn’t matter; what really mattered was—

“What the hell do you mean, point five?” Loren said, unable to help himself. “Is there half a person running around?”

Alicia looked just as interested.

“Negative,” Cube said, “There is a hero, designated Insectyde, who lost her powers but still routinely patrols the city as a baseline human.”

“Okay, moving past that,” Loren said, “What powers are we looking for? We have the Kinetic Shield and the Environmental Shield for defense, and Alicia’s power for healing—The Kinetic Cannon probably won’t do much to someone as durable as Alice has shown to be in the past.”

“Correct,” Cube said, “Footage suggests that the hero, Untold, is capable of surviving far more force than I can currently generate via the Rapid-Fire Kinetic Cannon.”

Loren wasn’t getting into that argument again.

“Can you try and shortlist some of the capes from Hanta City for us to go find?” Loren asked.

“Performing task,” Cube said. “Please wait.”

He bit his lip for a moment, thinking.

“We also have evasion with the Short-Range Teleportation,” Loren muttered, “Is there a cooldown on using that?”

“Three-second intervals are mandatory between each displacement,” The Cube answered, but it was obvious that most of its focus was on its search. “Power drain is also a concern.”

“Three-second teleports,” Loren mumbled.

It was a lot of mobility and combined with his defense, he should be able to navigate the battle, but something to fill in those three seconds of being unable to dodge kill-shots would only make him harder to pin down—He watched the Cube, but the task I was undergoing seemed to be taking a while.

Loren turned his thoughts inwards.

The more he learned about everything that was really happening, the more he realized just how far out of his depth he’d been this entire time. His power had been throwing new, interesting, and in some cases outright bizarre abilities at him since that first death near Hope’s Bridge—he’d conjured a sun in the middle of Setalite City, and he’d turned his best friend into a statue of living gold.

He’d traveled inside mirrors and gone on quests—he’d fallen through the earth and fought the villains in his city head-on, with suits of evolving armor and a thousand invisible hands. Loren’s strength had always been his versatility; he could reach into that bag and pull out a new power after every loss, retrying it all from a different angle…

So how exactly did he kill a being whose sheer breadth of powers made his own single random selection per run look trivial in comparison? Loren felt like a man facing down a god, and he knew by his slowly waning drive that it wouldn’t be long before he grew too tired to keep on dodging the lightning raining down on him.

Strangely enough, the thought reminded him of a conversation he’d had with his dad when he was still a kid.

“You know those religion classes they used to force you to go to at school?” Loren said, feeling a bit nostalgic.

It felt weird to bring it up with a stranger, but the thought was sticking with him now.

“I remember them,” Alicia blinked, surprised, “Do they still do those? Or have they stopped?”

“They aren’t mandatory anymore, but I’m pretty sure they are still around to some degree,” Loren hedged, “Forcibly indoctrinating kids was a little bit too much for most, but your parents can still bully you into it if they wanted to.”

Alicia nodded to show that she was following along.

“When I was—ten? eleven?” Loren guessed, unable to recall the exact date. “We had one of those classes, three grades all packed into one classroom. My mum, who believed, expected me to go to those classes, and I wanted nothing to do with the outcome that would occur if I argued.”

“Both of my parents were like that,” Alicia admitted, seeming to be actively looking for common ground between them. “I was so worried when I first got my powers—they were in the camp that wanted us all to be rounded up and burned at the stake.”

Loren watched her quietly.

“Twenty-five years…” Alicia said quietly before shaking her head. “I suppose I don’t have to worry about my parents finding out anymore.”

They most likely would have been in Ragdim when it was erased.

“My mum didn’t hate them like that,” Loren admitted, rubbing his neck. “But every time dad would come home from work talking about a new Awakened terrorizing the city; she’d always make a point to slip in a comment about them being denied access to the big retirement home in the sky.”

Alicia snorted quietly.

“You don’t need to worry about that—people are a lot more accepting of powers now,” Loren said, “Though there are still a few anti-superhuman groups advocating for removing us from general society.”

Naomi’s laughing face flashed through his vision for a moment—there were a few villains that wanted the same thing.

“Sorry,” Alicia said, shaking her head, “I didn’t mean to derail your story—I was listening; please keep going.”

Loren blinked, having more or less forgotten how the conversation had started.

“Right—” Loren said, a bit sheepish, “So there I was, sitting at my desk, packed into a room with the other two classes, listening to this old man running through the millions of parables he’d apparently been storing up while reading from the same book every day for half a century.”

Loren remembered Isaac making faces at him during the class, trying to get him to laugh.

“I made it home after school, and my dad was home first for once,” Loren continued, “He asked me, most likely on a whim, what I learned at school for the day—he was the kind of man who expected a real answer to a question when he asked, and I was still very much vying for his attention back then so I told him all about it.”

Loren looked over at the shattered window of the house they’d broken into, out onto the trees he could see at the edge of the backyard.

“I remember telling him that I thought god was probably just a man with powers,” Loren said, amused. “It made sense to me at the time—some guy with the ability to call down floods, control animals, and create people? Clearly superpowers—I had it all figured out, of course.”

Alicia smiled slightly.

“After making sure that I would never say that in front of my mother,” Loren said dryly, “He told me that if I thought God was just a man with powers—who did he pray to at night? Who did these false gods that walked the earth, spitting fire and calling down lightning fear?”

Alicia tilted her head slightly, considering the question.

“I told him there must have been a bigger god, sitting in the sky and watching all of them at night,” Loren said, attempting not to cringe.

“That’s basically the exact same premise as before,” Alicia said bemused, “Except humans start with superpowers?”

“Alicia, I am more than aware of that now—thank you.” Loren said, faintly embarrassed, “At the time, I didn’t realize that I was reinventing the wheel; anyway, instead of pointing that very obvious fact out and crushing my argument flat, my dad posed me a question about the world I’d just newly rediscovered.”

Loren had been riding the high of his genius discovery that God was a cape and reveling in the positive attention he was receiving from the usually distant man.

“If there was a more powerful superhuman, up there, waiting in the sky, with powers so strong that they elevated him alone into the status of my newly invented role of ‘bigger god,’” Loren said clearly, doing his best to paint the picture. “Would he be a hero or a villain?”

Just like when Loren was presented with the question, Alicia didn’t have an answer.

“Alicia,” Loren said after they’d fallen into another silence.

“Yes?” Alicia said, watching him.

“You don’t have to stay here with me, you know.” Loren said genuinely, “You’re out of the cage now, and the world is your oyster—Find a local boy to sweep you off your feet, or go and sweep a local girl off hers if you’re less fussed on gender roles.”

“You don’t believe in a god, but you think fairy tales are real?” Alicia mumbled, “The world isn’t that kind, Loren. What happens when I go off on my own, and I step around a corner to find Morgan waiting for me?”

The tragic part of it was that the very second he died fighting the thing that wanted his body, Alicia would end up right back in that tank, with a helmet strapped to her head.

“I can’t even guarantee my own safety—I’m closer to being able to guarantee my death than anything,” Loren said quietly, “If you stay anywhere near me, you’re going to run into Alice, and while Morgan may not join the fight, she’ll be waiting in the aftermath.”

Alicia looked away at that.

“Anywhere would be safer than with me,” Loren added.

“There isn’t going to be anywhere safe,” Alicia mumbled, “They’re destroying cities—Ragdim is gone, and now so is your home—Setalite? How long until they start wiping out the rest?”

Loren didn’t respond because there wasn’t anything he could really say to that.

“At the current pace of one city per twenty-five years,” Cube said, into the silence. “You would have several lifetimes before you had cause to worry about running out of places to live.”

“It was a rhetorical question, Cube,” Alicia mumbled.

“That does not render it unanswerable, Alicia.” Cube said, entirely missing the point. “I have finished collating the data you requested.”

“I’m listening,” Loren said.

“Priority Targets within Hanta City; Gyrate, Marionette, Flicker, Prickpunch, Prudence, Nigritude.” Cube listed off. “Malaise, Flume, Oscillate, Magnitude.”

“I don’t even know what half of those words mean,” Loren admitted, “Did the guy who gives out powers start at the library?”

“There is no guy who gives out powers, Loren,” Cube said.

Yeah, Loren,” Alicia said, the moment of unexpected cheek catching them both off guard. “Sorry…”

Loren snorted.

“You don’t have to apologize to me,” Loren said, “It’s time to go—how far away is the first target?”

“Ten minutes by unaided foot travel,” Cube said.

That was far closer than he had considered.

“Good, it will give you plenty of time to explain what each of those people can do,” Loren said, heading for the front door.

“Very well,” Cube agreed, floating along beside him.

Alicia fell in step beside him, and he didn’t bother to dissuade her from following him once more; the door clapped shut behind them, and the three started towards the fence.

“What does the first person do?” Loren guessed.

“Gyrate passively reaps kinetic energy from her surroundings and can harness that stored energy to violently rotate objects on touch.” Cube said.

Not exactly a cursed scroll that kills the enemy when you write their name on the parchment.

“How does that help me kill a god?” Loren frowned, hopping the fence and stepping onto the road.

“My energy reserves are finite, and the passive kinetic absorption will help regenerate those stores.” Cube said, “The more Expressions we intend to use against the entity, the more power consumption will become an issue.”

“Okay, that makes more sense,” Loren admitted.

“Gyrate’s civilian residence is within one hundred meters of our current location.” Cube said, “We should move closer.”

“How close do you need to be?” Loren said quietly.

“Ten meters, with line of sight.” Cube said. “Suggestion, Stealth Field is Available.”

“Use it,” Loren said.

A washed of energy hit him, and when he looked down, he saw a slight ripple in the air—Anyone with enhanced senses or good eyesight would likely realize something invisible was standing where he was, but it was far better than nothing. When he checked, he found that Alicia had been included under the effect, now barely a ripple in the air beside him.

Cube appeared as a series of white lines in the air, and it led him through the trees by the road, the leaves beneath them crunching underfoot. Loren almost ran into the fence before he actually saw it, and he stopped next to it.

“Gyrate found,” Cube said, voice far too loud. “Analysing superhuman.”

Loren frowned.

Was she in the cubes sight already? He took a step to one side and leaned around a tree—A woman with blonde hair was standing on the back steps of a house, the sliding door open, staring directly at their position.

Her fist was clenched around a small black pistol.

“I know someones there,” Gyrate said seriously, “Let me make this very clear—if you step one foot on my property, I’m going to kill you both.”

Either Cube wasn’t showing up to her senses, or she didn’t consider it a person—the threat was directed at Loren and Alicia.

“Passive Kinetic Absorption replicated,” Cube said, voice still far too loud. “Rotation Manipulation replicated.”

The hand holding the gun jumped up, now pointing at their position.

“Move us back to the road,” Loren said quietly. “Now.”

Loren stumbled as the environment changed, and then when he caught himself, it had changed a second time—they were once more standing by the road.

“Cube,” Loren managed, “Next time, how about you don’t announce our fucking presence for the entire world to hear?”

“Understood,” Cube said.

My sleep schedule is all types of messed up at the moment, but the experiment must continue.

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 80 – Live.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10

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Chapter 77

Loren felt his chest tighten as the deluge of breaking news articles filled out the search query, and for a moment, he just sat there, staring at the screen.

Alicia came to stand behind him, and after it had become clear that Loren wasn’t even in a state to click through to the actual contents of the article, she reached out and took the mouse.

“Setalite City is currently in a state of emergency, as almost the entirety of the east side of the harbor has been decimated.” Alicia said quietly, “Preliminary reports suggest that the first explosion occurred at roughly 1:00 AM this morning and was then followed by another fourteen identical explosions at roughly five-minute intervals, cutting a swathe of destruction across the city.”

Loren stared at the side-by-side series of pictures attached to the article that looked like they were taken from a video, snapshots at several points in time. The angle showed it was taken from somewhere up high and through the thick glass of a high-rise window.

The first was blurry but clearly showed a tall man falling through the air. The man had something large, angular, and black strapped to his back, almost like a backpack, but it was too far away to make out the details.

The second picture showed a large orange-red dome growing outward from the center of Setalite City. The third picture showed the same man, this time amongst the burnt-out husk of a building, sitting amongst the debris.

His appearance was clearer now that he wasn’t in the process of falling at terminal velocity, but by this point, whatever he had been wearing was barely there, ragged scraps of burnt-black material stretched across his charred body, large darker patches intermixed with lighter ones where the flesh was simply missing.

“The method used in the attack is currently unknown, but contextual clues suggest that the black object attached to the man’s back seems to be the source of the pulses that have ravaged the city.” Alicia continued. “It is now being speculated that he possesses some form of regenerative effect, as the man has been seen moving around the city after each explosion, perfectly intact—along with the newly rearmed device back in place on his back.”

The fourth picture showed the exact same man, kneeling in the exact same place, his bodysuit and mask pristine once more. His arm and the missing sections of his body had returned as well—along with a large black box strapped to his back.

“The search and rescue efforts have now begun, but as the Hero HQ was located within the radius of the first explosion, emergency services have been stretched thin. Aid has finally been requested from nearby cities, Arrot and Saltwall, but mobilizing in the face of this event is a difficult task.” Alicia said, swallowing, “We are still in the nascent stages of the recovery efforts, but very few survivors have been found so far, almost all of which were on the outer edges of the effect—the ones that have been lucky enough to have been located alive were all gravely injured.”

All of your allies are dead.

“The pictures provided have been confirmed as authentic and are taken from a late-night live celebratory broadcast run by local streamer Chloe Walker, which was occurring at the time of the attack.” Alicia said, “Thousands of fans watched the broadcast, bearing witness to the tragic last moments of those within the building.”

Loren flinched at the name, entirely caught off guard—he found himself remembering that very first time he’d died and how Chloe had been screaming in pain after being caught in the explosion at Paragon’s speech. He hadn’t known it was her at the time; he’d found that out much later after he’d seen her in the crowd—and now it was happening all over again. Unable to keep looking at the screen, Loren turned away for a moment, planting his hands on the frame of the window, fingers digging painfully into the wood.

“Are you okay?” Alicia said quietly, noticing the distress.

“No, I’m not fucking okay,” Loren said quietly before turning his head down and away. “Sorry—just keep reading. Please.”

“Okay,” Alicia said, swallowing again. “The man in the footage is yet to be identified due to the grainy nature of the footage and the destruction of recording devices during his path through the city.”

Loren gritted his teeth.

“Unfortunately, as grave as this situation is, more Information has come to light. The spokesperson for the Arrot City Hero HQ has released Information that suggests several members of the Peacekeepers were inside the Setalite City Hero HQ during the time of the attack.” Alicia continued, each word falling like a hammer blow. “Furthermore, we have managed to make contact with Untold, who has corroborated this Information.”

Loren closed his eyes as his anger spiked, the wooden frame creaked beneath his hands.

“As of fifteen minutes ago, we have confirmation that Alleviate, Artisan, Empress, and Seeker were all inside the building at the time of the attack and are now deceased,” Alicia said, having no response to the unfamiliar names. “Paragon’s current whereabouts are still unknown, while Trendsetter is still across the country at an event in— ”

The windowpane shattered as Loren finally lost his temper, and it broke badly, cutting up his arm in the process—he heard Alicia gasp and stumble away from the sudden noise.

“Fuck!” Loren hissed, pulling his arm back through the hole.

“Attempting to damage most materials without shielding is ill-advised,” Cube said before something impacted painfully against Loren’s shoulder.

The cuts on his arm rapidly sealed themselves shut, leaving one shard of glass sticking out of his knuckle—after a moment of hesitation, he yanked the shard out of his knuckle, and it closed within seconds.

“Loren?” Alicia said, nervous.

He hadn’t explained much to her this time, and it was starting to cause issues—All of this was just…

“Tiamat is the leader of Epilogue, but you would know her by the name Morgan,” Loren said, moving to lean against the wall. “She is currently working for a ‘hero’ named Untold, who is a member of the Peacekeepers—with me so far?”

“Yes,” Alicia said quietly.

“Untold’s real name is Alice, but unfortunately, it isn’t that simple,” Loren said, gritting his teeth. “Because at some point in the past, Alice was possessed by a body snatcher of some kind whose goals I have no idea about—except for the part where she wants to keep me locked in a prison under the ocean until I go insane.”

Loren fell silent, unsure how to even address any of this—he was playing a death game against someone who had basically already won. The only reason he wasn’t one of the people dead and buried underneath Setalite City was that he was functionally immortal.

“Do you know who the body snatcher is?” Alicia asked hesitantly.

Loren wondered if it even mattered at this point—they’d killed the Peacekeepers and then killed everyone else who was helping him. They’d destroyed Setalite City, his home, and everyone inside it.

He’d spent all that time, all that pain, and all of those deaths trying to save the city from this exact situation—all of it amounted to nothing in the end; it hadn’t even really slowed them down. They just adjusted their plans, carrying it out in a slightly different way. They’d locked him away like a naughty child and then kept on grinding out their end game unobstructed.

Loren hadn’t even been a thorn in their side; in the end, he had been nothing more than a handful of petals ground to dust beneath their boot.

“No,” Loren mumbled, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor. “I don’t.”

How had he ever thought he could do this?

Paragon, the greatest hero in the world. Artisan, a world-class genius who always had a solution, Seeker who’d survived the destruction of Ragdim City as a child. Empress, Alleviate, and all of the others that had put their minds to this task.


All of them had been unable to deal with this; all the while, Loren had somehow thought that he would be the one to solve it all—had he always been this arrogant?

“Loren,” Alicia said, swallowing. “What are we supposed to do now?”

Loren opened his eyes slowly, staring at the floor between her legs rather than meet her eyes. Alicia was suffering too, probably worse than he was—yet all he could think about was himself and his failures.

“Can you look up when Untold joined the Peacekeepers?” Loren said quietly.

It had no bearing on their current situation, and he doubted the bodysnatcher cared much if he knew, but having a task to accomplish might soothe her. Alicia glanced over at the laptop but barely made it a step in that direction before Cube spoke up.

“Untold joined the Peacekeepers on September 1st, 2016,” Cube said.

Loren sighed as the Cube robbed her of temporary purpose.

“How do you even know that, Cube?” Loren mumbled.

“I am currently connected to the network of computing devices that spans most of your planet,” Cube said in answer, “This information is available in many formats and is simple to corroborate.”

Network of computing devices sounded a lot more impressive than ‘the internet,’ but Loren still found it pulling him slightly out of his mental fog.

“Formats?” Alicia asked quietly.

“Video footage, pictures, articles, voice recordings,” Cube said, “All of these are formats that exist within the network, in regards to ‘Untold,’ there is video footage of her meeting with the Peacekeepers, there are pictures of the event where she publically accepted a place within the team, there are—”

“We get it, Cube.” Loren sighed. “Was that the same year the Peacekeepers were formed?”

“Technically, the Peacekeepers were officially founded on January 1st, 2016, but I believe that the founding members were working together before that.” Cube said, “Paragon, Artisan, Empress, and Seeker were the only members present at that time.”

Loren frowned.

“Did Untold show up before then?” Alicia asked quietly.

“Untold’s first recorded appearance was in Setalite City West, on December 12th, 2015.” Cube said immediately, “Two armed men were fleeing a hospital while accompanying a known gang member who had been captured earlier that day and was receiving treatment for his wounds. Untold stopped the vehicle they were in, further injuring the fugitive and incapacitating the other two men in the process.”

“Nothing before then?” Loren wondered.

“There are no earlier sightings of her costumed identity.” Cube said.

Loren frowned at the wording.

“What about as Alice?” Alicia spoke up, identifying the same problem.

He was reminded once more how sharp Alicia seemed to be when she wasn’t wracked with fear.

“There are sixty-four date-stamped and unviewed security camera footage archives that indicate a link between civilian Alice Wroth and ‘Untold.’” Cube said, “There are seven that indicate a possible, but far less likely link between civilian ‘Alice Marie’ and ‘Untold.’ There are two that indicate an unlikely link between civilian ‘Alice Wilder.’ There is—”

“Stop,” Loren said, “You’re saying that Alice Wroth is the civilian identity of Untold?”

He didn’t have the time to listen to every single indication of someone named Alice being nearby Untold during one of her sightings—the fact that Cube could actually find this kind of Information so quickly was disturbing.

“It is almost certain that this is the case,” Cube said. “In each of those sixty-four instances, Alice Wroth was within fifty meters of a crime, before she vanished, most often a handful of seconds before Untold appeared.”

The fact that this footage was lying around and nobody had even seen it—how many other heroes had done something similar thinking they were slick?

“Um—when did Alice Wroth gain her powers?” Alicia said, continuing the line of question.

Loren was content to listen and let her chase down his answers.

“Alice Wroth most likely gained her powers on October 2nd, 2015, when the music shop she was inside collapsed on top of her.” Cube said. “Archive footage shows no earlier incidents indicating enhanced abilities before that date while Datasets indicate a large spike of Expressions appearing in Setalite City on this date, and in the immediate aftermath.”

“Expressions are powers?” Alicia asked for clarification, “What happened on October 2nd to cause that?”

“Starsealer attacked Setalite city,” Loren said as everything fell into place.

“Correct,” Cube said, “The cosmic entity that was eventually designated as ‘Starsealer,’ attacked without warning. It made it most of the way into the city proper before Paragon temporarily repelled it.”

Loren just listened; he’d been on the east side of the city, still in the mental health facility at the time. Even being so far away, he’d periodically felt the building shaking, and eventually, the power had cut out.

“Starsealer showcased a vast array of expressions during the battle; upwards of three hundred were identifiable on sight, but as expressions are often complex or have effects that are not immediately visible by sight alone, it is likely the entity possessed far more.”

Alicia looked stunned by what she was hearing, having been inside the tank for long enough that she’d most likely never heard of anything coming to attack them from off-world.

“Eventually, a force comprised of approximately 273 heroes and villains defeated Starsealer,” Cube said, “Footage indicated that Starsealer did not try to avoid Paragon’s final attack, seemingly resigned to its fate, and its body destroyed several city blocks before being disintegrated from the force.”

Loren had seen the footage of Starsealer’s death, as it had been played every year on October 2nd at the memorial of everyone who had died during the attack.

“Because of the pervasive damage to the structures within Setalite City, and the life-threatening situations that civilians found themselves in, many ‘Awakened’ discovered their Expressions.” Cube continued, answering the initial question Alicia had posed. “Excessive levels of trauma, adrenaline, shock or pain are often catalysts to the subject, which will rapidly develop their Expression in response.”

They fell silent, and Loren’s mind was attacking the puzzle furiously.

Alice Wroth had gained her powers on the same day that Starsealer died, much like many others.

However, unlike those others, she had gone on to become a hero before eventually joining the Peacekeepers—a team comprised of the very people who had worked together to kill Starsealer in the first place. She had worked alongside those same people for years, at some point falling in with Tiamat, and they had found an opportunity to abduct, clone, and presumably murder Paragon—because she’d already failed to kill him in an upfront battle.

Alice had pretended to have a very simple but strong power, but once the charade was no longer necessary, she had revealed numerous others—the ability to fly, as well as the power to manipulate and harden water, both abilities that she had never shown before. Then the thing that was wearing her body like a suit had told Loren, to his face, that Alice had been gone for a very long time.

I found her the day she unlocked her powers—I was a bit desperate at the time—but then again, so was she.

“Starsealer is the one inside Alice Wroth’s body,” Loren said quietly.

He felt like a fool.

Loren had laid down on the rooftop of the Hero HQ with her, barely a meter away, staring at the stars. They’d talked about Paragon, about the loop; she had even given him a code to use in case he needed to convince her to help him in other loops.

He had even brought her in as a backup in case the Mara situation went badly—she’d fought Reset for him, knowing full well what the man’s power was, that he would just walk it all off, and her place would be further solidified as one of his allies.

“Given the sheer variety of Expressions that Starsealer possessed, it is highly likely that the entity possessed some method of acquiring or replicating powers,” Cube said, “It is also possible that it possessed at least one power that would allow it to take over a victims body.”

Loren stared at his hands, red now with dried blood from the window.

When they had prepared the ambush against Deceitful and Taker, Alice had been the one going after the bigger threat. But she had been taken out of the fight right at the start when Taker managed to bite her, leaving her paralyzed in the sewers.

Taker had just left her there unharmed, without any further attempt to hurt her despite doing her best to kill Artisan barely a minute later—It wasn’t Taker being merciful; it was Alice attempting to ruin the loop without being discovered.

Every time Loren came back with new Information and came up with a new plan, Alice was sitting there at the table with the other heroes, finding out about his power alongside everyone else, and during that final loop where he’d sat with Mara in the coffee shop, Alice had decided that she couldn’t let him go back again.

Because if Loren knew about Mathew Kline, he would find out about Morgan, and then once they’d found her… Starsealer would be dragged back into the light.

When you look at me like that, it makes it so very hard to wait.

“Starsealer plans on taking my body,” Loren said, watching Alicia. “That’s why they didn’t cut out my brain and put it in a jar next to your tank.”

“Your brain would not survive in a jar,” Cube said, “Without access to blood, nutrients, or—”

“How about a jar filled with Alicia’s blood?” Loren said, annoyed at the interruption. “It kept twelve hands preserved for twenty-five years.”

Alicia flinched at the reminder, and Loren felt a flash of guilt.

“Inconclusive,” Cube hedged.

I don’t think you’re quite ready yet; you are still far too lively.

“She told me I wasn’t ready yet,” Loren said quietly. “Why didn’t she just take my body before?”

“Expressions commonly have both complex and simple requirements to use,” Cube said, “For example; It is possible that the Expression the entity is using to usurp a body requires a certain level of power. Alternatively, it might require a specific mental state in the victim. It may only succeed between certain timeframes or while in certain temperatures. It could derive its success by the position of nearby celestial bodies, the difference in mass between the host and the possessor—”

“Stop,” Loren sighed. “I get it—Expressions are complicated.”

“Correct,” Cube said.

“I need to stay away from her then,” Loren frowned, “Because whatever the condition is, if I’m near her when it happens, she could jack my body.”

“The entity likely has access to an Expression that would allow her to discover your location regardless.” Cube said. “Attempting to hide from a being with such a potentially vast skillset would most likely fail—”

“So I can’t hide from her, and eventually she’s going to take my body,” Loren snapped, “What the fuck am I supposed to do?”

The Cube paused for a moment, seemingly using its vast array of resources to discover the solution.

“May I suggest killing the entity?” Cube said.

Loren wondered if he could get his foot high enough to kick the fucking Cube out of the air—he’d probably have to jump.

“You’re a genius, Cube.” Loren sighed. “Truly.”

“Thank you, Loren.” Cube said. “I appreciate the compliment.”

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 78 – Live.
Ameliorate(NSFW) – Chapter 10

Community Links