Ficlet: “Democracy”

It’s been a while since we last checked in on Eris and her Ascended, um, “friends”, hasn’t it?

Today, though, I tried a writing app that forces you to get into the momentum by threatening to delete everything if you dawdle in the first few minutes, and before I knew it I was well on my way to writing a third chapter.

This one’s about 1k words, so not that long, but it’s a length I’ve grown comfortable with in some of my other writings.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!


Democracy

A man named Samuel Kramer sat in the back of a car filled with people much like himself, speeding down the highway. The people around him all shared one trait that put each of them above most of the population: They all had superpowers. He had one too, and just last night, he had used it to kill one of their own, as one did.

He didn’t regret a thing. Shear had always been a bitch. Good riddance.

Well, okay, there was one thing. It would have been nice if he’d been able to convince Eris to join the Ascended instead of continuing to kill them.

Why couldn’t she see that Ascendant was right? Those who were granted powers were superhuman, a better race, and if it took the horrors inflicted by the Ascended to awaken those with potential to their true power, that was worth a little suffering for the sheep. But no, instead she decried their actions as monstrous, all the while following them around and forcing them to fight each other to the death over the most trivial of items.

The little woman in the apple mask was a thorn in their collective side, but he couldn’t help but respect her tenacity.

He hoped she had taken his advice to ditch the cloak before they’d left Brockton Bay. That was when Minus had finally activated the remote self-destruct mechanism that took the place of the usual tracker. Something about the cloak making his systems dismiss the tracker signal, Minus had explained. The little nerd sat next to Potence, happily fidgeting with what appeared to be a crown or tiara of some kind.

Potence couldn’t care much less, but they had been on the road for hours with little to alleviate his boredom, so he pointed to the glowing crystal Minus was incorporating as the central jewel of the crown. “What’s in that one?”

Minus beamed. “Oh man! This crystal is the entire reason I talked Ascendant into making a stop in Brockton Bay!”

“Really? Must be powerful, then. What does it do?”

Minus just nodded and made some final adjustments to the crown. “It’s done! Why don’t you try it on and see for yourself?” Minus reached up to try to put the crown on Potence’s head, but the seatbelts and Potence’s height meant the distance was too much. Rushing to unfasten his seatbelt, Minus forgot to make sure he could balance afterwards, and fell face first into the middle seat. The crown landed squarely in Potence’s lap.

“Jeez, no need for the theatrics. I’ll just put it on myself, alright?”

“Right,” Minus said, a little less enthusiastically, as he got back up and straightened his large goggles.

Potence put on the crown. Nothing happened. “Alright, how do I activate it?” he asked, his right hand raised for a high five. Wait, what?

Minus returned the high five and laughed mischievously as Potence booped his own nose. “It’s a Regent crystal,” Minus explained. “Most powerful Master in Brockton Bay, Heartbreaker kid. His power is to control people’s bodies.”

Connecting the dots, Potence tried to reach up and take the crown off, only to find that his arms were still under Minus’ control. Reaching out for the ropes in his bag with his mind, he found his power unresponsive.

He tried to protest, only to find the tinker’s words coming out of his own mouth. “So when the opposite of that power is crystallized and embedded into a crown, you get something that doesn’t let you control others, but instead let’s others control hergenflurgenpladergen HEY!”

Minus stared daggers at the young woman in the front passenger seat, who laughed. Boggart was much like Minus in some ways – short and not very intimidating in appearance, but very powerful. She was the very image of “boring girl”, but she delighted in every part of her life among the Ascended.

“Hah! If you don’t want intruders, maybe next time don’t make it so everyone in range can control whoever’s wearing the thing, nerd.”

“You know I–” Potence started saying, then stopped.

Minus started over, using his own body. “You know I don’t have that much control of how the inverted powers work, Boggart.”

Boggart shrugged, grinning back at Minus. “Well, maybe that just means your power sucks.”

“Says the girl who can’t even choose her own forms.”

With the two of them distracted by their bickering, Potence realized he could move freely. He removed the crown with a quick nod of his head, though using his arms would probably have worked just as well. So it requires upkeep, too.

Keeping his face calm, Potence reached out with his mind and grabbed Minus and Boggart’s seatbelts with his power and tightened them around each of their chests. They weren’t ropes, exactly, but they were close enough.

“H-hey!” Boggart squeaked. “Potence, I swear I’ll fucking–”

“Not here,” said their driver, a large fellow with spiky blue punk hair that stood in stark contrast to his otherwise gentle appearance. Overclock didn’t appear nearly so gentle when he was using those large hands of his to crush someone’s spine for fun. Out of action, however, he was mostly just bored, and coped with it through docility and idle hobbies. “Not while I’m driving. Can’t see the road if you’re over there in the passenger seat turning into a giant basilisk.”

Potence suppressed a shiver at the very thought.

“Fine,” Boggart grumbled.

Potence loosened his grip on the seatbelts. It had only been a warning, after all. He decided to act as though it had never happened. “So, this crown…”

“The Crown of Control!” Minus said enthusiastically. He always liked to name his creations, even if he wasn’t very good at it. Eris’ cloak, for instance, had been the Cloak of Irrelevance, so named for its ability to make others discount the wearer as unimportant to the point of hardly being worth noticing at all.

Potence sometimes wondered if Eris knew how appropriate it had been for specifically her to steal the cloak, but she had seemed to think it would offer her complete imperceptibility. If she had misunderstood its power that badly, then she probably hadn’t made the connection.

Which might mean she still hadn’t figured out how Minus’ power worked.

“The Crown of Control,” Potence acknowledged. “This could be very useful indeed.”


Commentary

  • Samuel “Potence” Kramer is named after the Wheel of Time character Sammael and Michael Kramer, the audiobook reader who voiced Sammael and the other Forsaken whenever the POV character was male. I mentioned in the commentary for H_ngm_n that Potence was partially inspired by Kramer’s voice for some of the male Forsaken, and I think I was mainly thinking of Sammael (judging by the fact that I put his name down as this long ago).
  • Finally we learn what Minus’ power is! I’ve been waiting so long to share this idea with you all. It’s pretty powerful, though limited by some powers being useless when inverted (imagine what just happened here but with bugs controlling you and you have the reason he didn’t go after Taylor’s power) and by only being able to create one crystal per target.
  • Boggart’s precise power is only implied here, but I’m sure anyone who’s got some familiarity with Harry Potter can figure it out.
  • There’s more to Overclock’s power than being a big brute. Hell, being a big brute might not even be part of his powerset at all. That’s just what he’s like.
  • This is far from all of the Ascended (besides Ascendant, the leader). Tracker mentioned in Wounded Trees that they’re in three different cars. They’re a big group.
  • This chapter was almost named “Twitch Plays Potence”. You’re all welcome for my monthly dose of self-restraint.

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