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As Madison made her way towards the corner of the alley, Enki moved further in. Just as she seemed to stop caring about concealing herself, Enki now did the opposite; this bunch they'd stumbled upon was interesting, but it wouldn't do for them to associate with this group so openly, lest they accidentally close doors that might otherwise remain open.

Enki listened and waited patiently as the woman made her observations of the unfolding scene and made her call.

Only for a moment did Enki pull their attention away to note something down. Thankfully, the megaphones that Spindle and Swat were using made it so that Enki could hear them clearly, even without their powers' help.

Guard cape sporting police attire: name appears to be Judah.

What's your name? She asked, her eyes wrinkling slightly as if she were smiling.

Enki returned the smile, before adjusting their hair hair back; long as their hair was, moving around so erratically did tend to mess things up if they didn't come prepared.

"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Madison," Enki said, before offering a short bow. "I'm Enki."

The smile adorning Enki's face grew wider as it changed from polite to amused. "I'm interested to see how you two are expecting to get out of here with all this attention on you."

Enki watched the wires twist and bend into letters as Spindle made her reply. Enki felt their body heat up, their power ramping up as the numbers counted down.

As soon as the three was fully formed, it changed into a two. Then a one. The wires squirmed and started moving towards Enki.

Enki dashed, their initial step again causing the ground beneath their feet to crack. Enki's movements consisted of zigzagging dashes, Enki weaving their body with all the flair of a dancer as they dodged the wires they moved away from the half-dome of wires and toward an alley.

Enki heard the sound of muffled steps coming from the alley. Subdued. Definitely trying not to attract attention. As Enki stepped into the alley, they came face to face with the stranger question, and rather conveniently, the wires seemed to recede right at that moment.

Enki spent a moment patting down their garbs before turning their attention towards the stranger in winter clothes. She—or so Enki assumed from the few features they could make out—looked odd, even when compared to Enki. A face partially hidden by a ski mask and thick winter clothing that definitely wasn't weather-appropriate.

Enki smiled, cocking their head to the side slightly as they spoke, "My, what interesting choice in clothing. Now, is there something you needed of me?"
Enki tensed for a brief moment as wire surrounded them. The Shaker hadn't seemed overtly hostile, but then, she probably didn't seem altogether sane——at least not by most people's standards——so conventional logic probably didn't apply. On the other hand, Enki's own appearance was certainly out of the ordinary, so the point was probably moot.

A moment later——just as Enki had come to the conclusion that Spindle wasn't going to attack——they noticed some of the smaller wires bend and contort in to more intricate shapes. Shapes which Enki soon realised were letters. So her reason for encircling him was to deliver a message?

"Ah." Enki let out a breath in acknowledgement. Looks like my initial assumptions weren't quite on the money.

As Enki pondered their response, they heard someone approaching from the rear. Probably one of the heroes. I best make this quick...

Enki reached for their pocket, their movements slow and measured as they reached in and grabbed their notebook and pen. A few swift motions later, Enki had their response.

Enki ripped out the page from the page, folding it once, and then twice before holding the slip of paper out.

It wasn't long until one of Spindle's wires moved to grab the slip of paper from him.

Check the Discord, Spiffy!

Enki kept a close eye—or rather, a close eye, ear, and nose—on their surroundings as the situation escalated, and as it turned out, there was quite a lot to pay attention to: the occasional movement of wire, an idle chuckle, the sound of footsteps on metal, and rather interestingly, the distant sound of another chopper approaching, before making its retreat.

It seems the Guard have finally arrived, Enki mused. Now, if only I had a reason to leave this crummy alley.

Before Enki could even parse all of that, however, the wires that were positioned on the ground and over by the street lifted up violently, before sweeping every which way, slicing and smashing into everything in their path.

Enki was quick to respond, pushing back hard with one foot at the asphalt of the alley. The push lifted them off the ground for a brief moment and away from any potential danger. Thankfully, it seemed that the manoeuvre was more a show of force than an actual attack, as Enki soon realised that the attack wasn't really aimed at anyone, and it certainly hadn't extended into the alley where they were situated.

Unfortunately, Enki's hasty reaction earlier did a number on the pavement. [i]So much for being careful with my strength,[i] Enki thought as they sighed dejectedly.

"Let's talk," Spindle's voice cut through the air. A moment later Enki heard something clatter to the ground.

Judging by that sound, that must be the megaphone she used...

Enki found themselves smiling again. Even if it could potentially anger her, the prospect was too exciting for Enki to just let it slip by.

Enki emerged from the alleyway and into the open a moment later, and despite being barefoot, they didn't seem to mind the ground being littered with glass as they made their way over to the dropped megaphone at a leisurely place.

Enki stared up at Spindle, grinning, their brilliant green eyes shining under the sun.

With a swift motion, Enki used a foot to knock the megaphone into the air, before picking it up. "I hope I'm not intruding by barging in like this, but would you mind it terribly if I skipped the line a little bit?" Enki asked, their words peppered with cheeky amusement.

Enki watched as the metal bird above their head flew by. The thing had them transfixed, though they couldn’t quite remember what it was called, the word being just on the tip of their tongue.

Heli… something or other.

As it passed by, Enki noticed there was writing on it, and although it seemed to be moving to land, it was still a little too far away to be legible. Enki turned to watch the flying contraption as it moved away and downwards. Enki drew in a breath as their body started heating up little by little.

1...2...3...4...5 seconds. Not quite enough. 6...7...8...9...10.

Enki flexed their arm. They felt the strength, the weight, felt the air brush their skin more clearly, could hear and differentiate the voices in the crowd much better, and smell the different smells that the city offered. More importantly, however, they could see better. Enki squinted, and the flying machine came into focus, and had just enough time to read the emblem emblazoned on its side before it disappeared out of view.

Crossed swords behind a tower… that must mean.

The vehicle belonged to the First Guard, then. That would certainly explain the armed soldiers. Enki frowned. As interesting as this vehicle was, there was probably little to be gained from interacting with the First Guard, and it would probably do Enki even less good if they decided to interrupt their mission.

And so, Enki noted down the event, before moving along. It was only about a half minute later that Enki found themselves turning back towards where the helicopter had assumedly landed. Enki couldn’t see it, as it was now obscured by the rows of high-rises, but they could definitely hear it. Metal. Snapping, tearing, breaking, bending, all in a span of seconds. Had it crashed? If it did, it didn’t sound like it had caught fire or exploded, so the likelihood of there being imminent danger was...

“Disband the First Guard."

Ah, so that’s how it is.

Enki sighed, before smiling. The day had only just begun, but it seemed that they were about to be sidetracked already. It took them about a minute to reach the site of the ‘crash’, and Enki had taken that time to ramp up. By then, their body was hot to the touch, just a little below the point where their body would begin to start steaming to release heat, so it wasn’t yet obvious that they had been using their power, though those with keen eyes might have noticed the air around them hazing, though even that wouldn’t last long, as their body would begin to cool down.

As Enki arrived on the street, they realised what had really happened to the helicopter. The thing was caught and ensnared in a veritable latticework of metal wires, roughly fifty metres off the ground. From there, Enki’s gaze moved to the culprit: a young woman sporting a dress. They found themselves smiling, even as they crossed their arms. Enki could appreciate a cape who had a good sense of style. Enki pondered their next course of action as they studied Spindle.

After a moment, Enki decided not to intervene, at least not yet. Enki wasn't sure if the woman had allies, but if she did, then they’d be making enemies. Moreover, intervening like this could be seen as stepping on the First Guard’s toes, and that would likely sour relations with the Final Guard as well, and that was even worse. If the woman attacked Enki, or forced them in, however, that would be an entirely different matter.


Enki had never liked large crowds. That was one aspect of city life they couldn't quite tolerate, especially since it felt so pervasive. Even worse, since their clothing was so loose-fitting, it was an easy way to get dirty, or even worse, have someone step on their toes. As such, Enki decided to slow down and stay behind the packed crowd of people in front.

However, Enki's thoughts were soon interrupted as a woman in ragged looking clothes slipped past the crowd and continued heading their way. Another thing to note down, perhaps? Enki thought as the woman seemed to be looking straight at them. Well, that wasn't unusual in and of itself, but she did seem to be in quite hurry. No, thought Enki, She's running from something, not to it.

Still, it was none of their business, so Enki brushed the thought aside, though not before offering the woman some advice as she passed by.

"You know, you'll probably attract a lot less attention if you take your time and try to blend in."

"...even in a one-to-one setting if you prefer."

As the man behind the podium finished his speech, Enki pulled back from the crowd that had gathered in front of the electronics store's display window. Enki watched and listened to the crowd intently, making a note of their reactions, before writing it down in their notebook.

Enki reflected on the events that had transpired since their arrival as they began making their way towards the Final Guard HQ at a leisurely pace. Serstol was big; they'd spent days simply exploring and wandering, and yet seemed as if they'd only scratched the surface. Part of that was due to sheer size, and part of it was because of variety. The food here seemed particularly noteworthy in that department, though they hadn't been able to actually try any of it. That was probably the most glaring issue they'd have to tackle: money. Still, it wasn't like there weren't any options. A conventional job was likely out of the question, but then, parahumans often pursued other avenues of employment.

Enki flipped back the pages of their notebook as they rounded a corner, skimming over their notes for each respective day.

  • Stares.

That was perhaps their most common remark. It wasn't all that surprising in hindsight; Enki not only stood out physically, but their clothing did so as well. That probably meant that some people had figured out they were a cape. Enki smiled at the thought. The attention wasn't wholly unwelcome—it wasn't like they were planning on keeping a secret identity, though the idea did feel a tad romantic in retrospect. Enki flipped to a new page, writing the idea down, before moving the pages back again.

  • Secret crime-fighter?
  • Secret crime-maker?

The page read:

Current priority: meet and learn about city's factions and groups. Heroes first, villains after.

Currently known factions:

  • First Guard (not accepting capes.)
  • Junior Guard (might be seen as inappropriate?)
  • Tag Team (limited info. Should confirm rumours. Location might prove challenging.)
  • Transients (small group, not openly recruiting. Bad reputation due to press?)
  • B&S (white supremacists. Violent. Best to exercise caution or avoid altogether.)
  • Fallen (Cult villain group. Endbringer worshippers with ties to old world. Violent; exercise caution.)
  • Taggers? (rumours about group painting graffiti. Supposedly anti-government, pro cape. Warrants investigation.

As they finished reading, Enki added another name to the list.
  • Final Guard (new hero group. Accepting of heroes. Old world Protectorate equivalent?)

Enki circled the newly added name, before smiling.


"Is it just me, or is it a tad hot in here?"
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