"Hey, want to help me with something?" Bitch asked.
"Sure." Taylor replied.
The dog fighting was already in full swing by the time they arrived. Bitch's dogs, already full-sized and monstrous as anything, smashed through the walls, tossing people here and there. Taylor, hanging behind Bitch, smiled pleasantly as she stuck men to walls and floors like sticking a note to cork-board with a pin.
The dogs were, of course, terrified, but Bitch began to hurry to have her dogs subdue the rabid creatures who wouldn't stand down, and then began having cages dragged to the van. Taylor undid the deaths and the worst wounds that they had caused, but left most of them where they were, with screws still sticking out of them.
With the opposition down, the two girls focused on their task of hauling dogs into vans. A few were in bad enough shape that Bitch had Taylor heal them before they did anything else, and Taylor amazed Bitch a little bit as she removed the memories of a particularly wrathful hound, and another constantly-terrified one, rendering both looking somewhat dull and confused, but much more manageable.
Without too much trouble, they got the dogs to their new home, Bitch's unofficial shelter, and set about integrating them into the rest. Bitch spent a little while testing the two dogs that Taylor had erased the memories of, and decided that it was better than they were before- amnesia wasn't as big of a deal for a dog as it was a human, and this way they wouldn't have to be put down.
Bitch had led her to a few other dogs, and had her do the same thing to them.
All in all, a good night.
Somer's Rock, Taylor found, wasn't quite what she expected of neutral grounds between supervillains. She had been imagining something a bit more grand than a run-down bar. Grue went to go sit at the big-boys table, leaving her and the others at their own table. As one of the servers came close, she opened her mouth to speak, when Lisa shook her head, "Write it down. They're deaf."
"Oh." she waited until the girl came close, before attempting to erase any ear injuries, infections, or the like- "Oh, so it's genetic."
Her power didn't create anything. It only destroyed. She couldn't destroy whatever caused it, bringing back her hearing, because she had never had hearing.
She wrote down her order, and the girl moved on to the next person. She glanced at Bitch who was busying herself trying to kill Hookwolf with the sheer force of her glare, a challenge that Hookwolf had taken up.
The Empire Eighty-Eight had been the ones to first call the meeting and the first ones to arrive after them, which annoyed her- the most successful, richest, oldest, gets-everything-they-want gang, and one with a whole entire philosophy based on the most annoying and bullshit form of elitism, racism, -but it was worth it to see every villain in the city come together like this. Or at least, the main ones. It was interesting.
Coil was a bit of a stand-out, walking in all by himself, apparently, without any powers, and speaking on more-or-less equal terms with the others despite not being a Cape.
Faultline's Crew was an interesting paradox, though. Their leader took the time to sneer at Tattletale as she passed, and I assumed there was some kind of history there. Looking at Newter and Gregor, she would have pegged them as being just like her. Two people whose powers by definition repulsed everyone around them? Newter because anyone who touched him would faint, and Gregor because of his acid and simple appearance. No one would have blamed them if they accepted the hatred of the world, and began to hate it back, if they were rejected by society. Yet they were... annoyingly positive. Well adjusted. They had found their own family, one with an entirely different philosophy than her own.
She... didn't like the implications, that they had learned how to be happy. Faultline, she decided, was dangerous. She'd do something nasty to her, if she had the opportunity. Tattletale would probably help her, too. It might be something they could bond over.
The Merchants were a gang after her own heart, and if Bitch hadn't stumbled across her, she knew she would have ended up with them. They were born losers, most of them. Mush practically radiated dissatisfaction with life. The Archer's Bridge Merchants just had a way of bringing together the hopeless, the petty, the failures, and the ones who gave up or were pushed out of decent society. And it showed, too. Grue, the leader of a small crew of thieves, was allowed at the table by Kaiser, while Skidmark had his chair kicked away to sit at a booth alongside his underlings, despite having the second-largest gang in the Bay.
If the Undersiders ever started getting annoying, she knew where she would go. She wondered if Bitch and Alec would come with her if she did? Based on the way Grue was helping Kaiser trash-talk Skidmark, she knew he wouldn't, not Lisa either.
The Travelers were an interesting addition as well, and she saw some possibility for a few of them. She especially was impressed by the imaginary monster one of them had created. She itched to fight it with her own imaginary toys, but Grue had been very particular that none of them start a fight here. And after the scare at the bank, she supposed she owed him. He was Rachel's friend, after all. So was Lisa.
As the discussion unfolded, she noticed that Grue was understating what they had done. Everyone knew that the Undersiders had fought Bakuda, and that she was the one who had put Lung in jail, and were pressuring him for info, but Grue apparently didn't want anyone to know that they are (she's) responsible for Oni Lee becoming Oni Lees. Tattletale had begun a whispered running commentary for her benefit on everyone in the room, helping to supply names for the ones she didn't know.
Eventually, a truce was proposed, and more-or-less agreed to. Everyone, heroes, villains, other, against the ABB. No overt crimes to distract the heroes or each other from disposing of the ABB, and other boring ideas.
“Then that’s our major piece of business concluded tonight. Anything else before we go our separate ways? Offers, announcements, grievances?” Coil asked.
Finally, with that matter out of the way, it seemed like the meeting would finally come to an end-
“I’ve got a complaint,” said Hookwolf, still glaring at them, "With those two."
Taylor smiled pleasantly as Bitch bristled further. Grue turned to Hookwolf, and his tone was on edge, "What's the issue here?" he asked, glancing back at us. He shook his head at her. Please, don't do anything rash.
Taylor's grin widened slightly.
"These psychopaths, Hellhound and the new girl-"
"Bitch." Bitch said, "Only the panty-ass heroes call me Hellhound. It's Bitch."
"Goner." Taylor added, pressing her hand to her chest.
"Yeah she is." one of the Empire Capes muttered.
"You fuckers left my people crucified to the ground! Blood everywhere, bit marks, you wrecked the fucking building. You ruined the lives of some of my customers. You two whores should count yourselves lucky I wasn't there!"
Grue stared at the two girls, weighing his options, "...That's the kind of risk you run when-"
"Nailed to the fucking ground! I thought the goddamn Nine were back in town!" Hookwolf snarled, "This isn't just fucking with my business, it's a call to fucking war! You're lucky Kaiser kept me from hunting you whores down-"
"Hookwolf." Kaiser said, his voice cutting through the conversation like the smug bastard he was, "Grue, we deserve explanations, and reparations. It's not as serious as the Bakuda business, but the Empire can't just let something like that go. We demand restitution. Traditionally, blood or money is required. And with the damage that was done, we're talking a lot of money." he turned towards the Undersider's table, "Or a lot of blood."
Grue considered it, "I'm not going to stop my teammates from doing what they need to do."
"You mean you can't stop them."
Grue didn't respond for a bit, "...It's not unusual for Capes to have pet issues. Bitch fucks up people who hurt dogs, it's common knowledge in Brockton Bay."
"And Goner? What was her pet issue? The overwhelming desire to cripple and grievously wound people?" Hookwolf growled before Kaiser could retort.
At that, Goner stood up.
"They're all alive, aren't they?" she asked, "Then what are you complaining about?"
"Grue, control your team." Kaiser said. Grue almost told him to control his, but instead, he turned towards the Undersiders.
"Goner." he said, through grit teeth, "Bitch. Outside. Now." he turned back towards Kaiser, "Let's sit on this until we can give it our full attention." he continued, but Goner had began walking outside, Bitch following, bristling with rage. As they got outside, Bitch bunched up, growling under her breath.
"Want to fuck up their minions?" Goner asked.
Bitch considered it, "...Grue'd yell at us."
"Probably." she turned towards the bar, "Hey, have you ever considered joining the Merchants instead?"
She turned towards Taylor, eyes wide, looking insulted.
Brian, Lisa, and Alec stalked out of the bar not too long after, Brian making a beeline for Bitch.
Normally, after a stunt like that, he'd have his hand around her throat. To force her to listen to him. To try and force her to listen to him in a way that she understood. He hated doing it, but again and again, it had to happen, she wouldn't learn, wouldn't act any different otherwise.
He was almost about to, too.
But Taylor was watching, her face just as passive as always. Just as unreadable. He wondered if she had that expression when she crucified regular people the same way she did Lung. He had accepted the brutality at the time- Lung was a regenerator, nothing would keep him down forever. But the thought of her doing it to regular people, without hesitation...
Had he stepped too far? Insulted her by giving her an order in front of everyone?
No, he gave her orders all the time. He was the one in charge of the Undersiders, not her. He couldn't back down, he wouldn't let them just get away with anything they wanted, not when they still wanted to call themselves a team. "Do you understand why I'm pissed right now?" he asked them.
"Why we're pissed." Lisa added.
"I'm not pissed." Alec said, "Ow!" he rubbed the bruise, before it vanished courtesy of Taylor. Brian had hit him harder than normal, a little bit of his rage pushing him harder.
"Not now." Brian threatened, "I don't need you undermining me too. Bitch, Goner, why the hell didn't I know about this?"
"What? I thought you knew!" Taylor said, lying outright, "But... why did you have to know?"
"Because you're Undersiders." he said, "And whatever you do while in costume, it reflects on the Undersiders. You made me look weak, in there, I had to defend you, while knowing nothing about what anyone was talking about. You used your screws on regular people? You attacked a dog-fighting ring even with the bombing spree already going on?"
"I help with the dogs." Taylor said, as if that was an explanation, "And those people deserved to be hurt."
"You don't use your screws on regular people." Brian said, harsher, "And you tell us if you're going out to attack something. So we know."
"I shouldn't have to ask permission-" Brian reached forward, to shove her into an alley to make her listen, the way he knew was the only way to get through to Bitch, Taylor or no Taylor. Pushing her in, the other Undersiders followed. He then put a hand to her throat, and shoved her against the wall. He lifted her up, and then, he heard the sound of a screw piercing brick.
He turned his head, "This is the only way she'll listen, I hate doing this but-" Brian began to explain.
"Hm." three more screws were in the wall.
They were all quiet. Taylor looked at Alec, and with a motion, Brian stumbled back, his hand twitching and making him drop Bitch back on the ground. "Regent?" he said, surprised.
"...I think I've made a mistake." Taylor said, "Bitch, is he your friend?"
Brian turned towards Bitch, suddenly afraid. If she said no... would he still exist afterwards?
He let out a breath.
"Okay then. My bad, I didn't make a mistake joining the Undersiders after all." the screws vanished, and she turned out of the alley.
"...No." Brian said, "You can't have it both ways. If you call yourselves members, both of you, then you need to do what I say, and you need to think about what's right for the group over yourselves once in a while."
Bitch glared at him, "...Fine. I'll tell you, next time. But I'm not going to stop."
He turned his gaze on Taylor, "If you're going to be an Undersider, you need to think about what we do. About our reputation. We rely on that. If we're just thieves, bigger groups look the other way. But if we start acting like psychopaths, that draws attention we don't want."
Taylor considers it, "...I'll undo it afterwards, if they're regular people."
Brian supposed that was the best deal he was going to get.
Taylor looked towards the bar, "So there's a truce until the ABB stuff is dealt with. Which means we can't fight the Empire until the ABB isn't a threat?"
"That's it in a nutshell." Brian said, feeling relieved.
"Okay. Let's go destroy the ABB so we can destroy the Empire next." Taylor said pleasantly.
"You're what?!" Coil snarled.
"Goner wants to take out the ABB." Tattletale said, "She'll do it alone if she has to. And I'm not sure if I can stop her. And the reason she's doing it is so that the treaty can end and she can start going after the Empire with Bitch."
"Could she- no, of course she could... No. This is a good thing. Fine, go ahead."
"If Bakuda dies her conscripts-"
"They're goners anyway-" Coil very nearly ended the timeline upon realizing his accidental pun, "-they're dead men walking. But... if Bakuda can be subdued and her detonation devices taken from her, and she were handed over to the Protectorate, it shouldn't be an issue."
"Got it. We should assist then?"
"Pull out if it gets too dangerous." he said, more for her benefit. She didn't know that he knew that Goner could revive the dead, which meant that there was very little reason for them not to move forward with it, "I'll provide you with an optimal time and date to do so. Hold her off until then, but assure her it is happening."
As the phone line hung up, he split the timelines once more. In one, he continued to check on his various ongoing concerns, and in the other, he called for Pitter to bring in his pet.
Miss Alcott had already been successfully hooked on the drug regimen he and Pitter designed. He had already done his morning round of questions, but he kept a few for emergencies each day. "Hello pet." he greeted, "Chances my plan succeeds if the Undersiders attack the ABB?"
"Chances my plan succeeds if I release the Empire info immediately afterward?"
"62.401 %. It hurts."
"If I wait to release the Empire info until the ABB is comepletely out of the way?"
"80.233 %. I don't think I can do any more questions." the girl said, tired and with an aching head.
He closed down the timeline, opened another, and did the same thing again, mixing and matching dates and various stages of his plans. In the end, he called Tattletale back, telling them to attack on the first of May. By then, he assumed, the Kill Order will have gone through. The Undersiders avoided killing, of course, but a kill order usually came with a bounty attached. If the Undersiders knew that he supported them, and was intentionally helping them sweeten the deal for themselves, he could count on even more loyalty.
After all, if the Undersiders were successful, both in taking out the ABB, and then the Empire, it would put them in already-perfect positions for the next phase of his plan; taking control of the city.