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Timelooping Tinker

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Bakuda stared at Lung in disbelief. He wanted to kill her, his only ally in the Birdcage, just to make the other villains see what a scary nutjob he was.

Crazy bastard. But she'd make him pay for underestimating her.

Bakuda flicked her arm, and an arrangement of bedsprings and twisted scrap metal dropped from her sleeve into her open hand. “I’ll punch a hole in the outside of the cell if you come any closer. Air flows out of the room, door seals shut, we both suffocate.”

“You are not fast enough.”

“Wanna bet?”

He did.

 

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Bakuda felt the brush of cool air on her skin. A cacophany of sound swelled around her. Footsteps, voices, rustling of papers. The sounds of a college classroom going out of session.

She was alive?

She opened her eyes. In front of her was a corkboard with a single sheet of paper pinned in the center. The score listings for her quantum physics course at Cornell. The final exam.

That final exam.

Oh fucking hell no.

She wasn't alive. She was dead. And this was hell.

"Oooh, look at this. 'Grace the Ace' got fifth place on the final. That gives her, what, a B minus for the semester?"

"Heh. Guess ten hours of studying a day isn't a substitute for talent."

"I know! Seriously! I told miss high school valedictorian, it takes more than hard work to make it in the big leagues. You need at least a glimmer of actual intelligence-."

Bakuda spun a hundred and eighty degrees and decked 'Ginny the Genuis' in the face. The pudgy pissant squawked and tumbled to the ground, a trickle of blood leaking from one nostril.

The bustle of students gave way to a deathly silence.

Bakuda glared at the other students, daring them to make a move. She didn't understand how she was alive, how she was back at Cornell during her trigger event, or how she had apparently, improbably, gone back in time. But she did understand one thing.

She was Bakuda. The greatest bomb expert in the world. And if this was hell, she was going to show the devil the true meaning of fucking hellfire.

Bakuda turned to her old rival, still sprawled on the floor in shock.

"Run, little girl." she hissed. "You have no idea how lucky you are that I have bigger fish to fry."

She licked her lips. "And incinerate. And disintegrate. And implode. And warp into twisted parodies of nature. And overload their nervous systems with ultimate agony and lock them that way forever, preserved in an endless, frozen moment of time. Ahahahahahaha!"

Bakuda turned on her heel and stalked out of the physics department, making her way to engineering. Had to whip up a few HE and stun grenades, so she could hold off security while she turned the high energy synchrotron into something useful.

As she walked, she noticed that she had a thin strip of white tickertape paper clutched in her left hand. She untangled the paper from her fingers and smoothed out the wrinkles. There was a message, printed in plain black and white lettering.

PATHETIC. GANKED BY LUNG LIKE A CHUMP. TRY HARDER THIS TIME.

A message from her future self?

The epiphany set her mind on fire, and sent her thoughts into overdrive. That was the only explanation. Her very existence, here and now, was proof of Lipschitz's multiple-worlds theory. One of her alternate future selves must have made a device that triggered on her past self's death and transplanted her mind into a new body in the endless sea of nearly identical alternate worlds.

Truly amazing. A supreme masterwork of a device. And what did her supergenius future self do with her real ultimate power?

Send her condescending motivational messages filled with snarky bullshit.

PATHETIC. GANKED BY LUNG LIKE A CHUMP. TRY HARDER THIS TIME.

Bakuda gritted her teeth. Well you know what? Fuck that, and fuck her. No one mocked her and got away with it. Not even herself. She'd show that bitch who was boss.

...

Lung inspected the small metal capsule. "These will allow my soldiers to defeat the Empire brutes? Hookwolf, Fenja, and Menja?"

Bakuda grinned behind her gas mask. "Yeah, like this!"

She leaped out the window and jammed her thumb on the detonator. The building turned into a pillar of flame, molten fragments of brick and mortar pouring into the street, a miniature flow of lava.

She backed off a safe distance and lay on the sidewalk, watching the fireworks, laughing and laughing and laughing.

"Take that you traitor motherfucker! Not so tough after all! You made Leviathan your bitch and I made you mine. Guess what? That makes me the queen bitch of Brockton Bay from now on!"

Wait. There was movement in the blast zone. A massive metal clad monster rose from the lava, wreathed in living flame. It caught sight of Bakuda and roared in triumph.

Well, fuck.

 

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AMAZING. GANKED BY LUNG IN THREE HOURS INSTEAD OF THREE MONTHS. YOUR STUNNING IMPROVEMENT IN EFFICIENCY IS TRULY THE HALLMARK OF A GENIUS.

Bakuda crushed the tickertape in her hand.

...

Lung inspected the small metal capsule. "My soldiers can use these to-"

Bakuda grinned behind her gas mask. "Yeah, like this!"

She leaped out the window and jammed her thumb on the detonator. The building pulsed, its shape warping and squirming and expanding. Within seconds the transformation was complete. The building was now a twisted nest of millions of inch-wide, tube-like tunnels, interlinking in elaborate, sanity-defying violations of geometry that would make MC Escher weep.

Bakuda jumped up and down and clapped her hands with glee.

"Take that you brainless brute! Do you even comprehend what I've done to you? Reshaped you into a five hundred foot long tapeworm, paralyzed and trapped in an infinite maze till you starve to death! Ahahahahaha!"

Bakuda laughed and laughed and laughed. She was a genius, and Vista's power was awesome. The month she spent taking readings of the girl's power were well worth it. She'd have to buy her a beer. Oh, wait, shit, Vista was underage. What did the tyke drink for fun, anyway? Orange juice? Kool aid? She hadn't really paid attention during her stakeouts-

There was movement in the blast zone. Segments of the tubes melted and a sinuous, flame-wreathed shape rose into view. The five hundred foot long, inch wide dragon caught sight of Bakuda and gave a squeaky, high-pitched roar of triumph.

Well, fuck.

 

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OH MY FUCKING GOD. SELF-INFLICTED DEATH BY TAPEWORM LUNG. YOU'RE SO INCOMPETENT IT'S ACTUALLY KIND OF AWESOME.

Bakuda crushed the tickertape in her hand. This meant war.

...

Lung inspected the small metal capsule. "My soldiers can-"

Bakuda scowled. "Die, motherfucker, die!"

The air around her shimmered. A protective effect, a shield bubble just large enough to cover her body.

Then the world turned gray.

Five minutes later, the dust began to settle. The dust. Three full city blocks around her had been transmuted into a mass of fine, gray dust. The buildings, the cars, the people. Everything.

Bakuda disengaged her shield bubble and surveyed the results of her handiwork. Then she grinned. She whooped, she cried, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

"Yes! Hell yes!" shouted Bakuda. "That's what you get, you son of a bitch! I fucking killed you! You're dead! You're gone! You're dust! Ahahahahahahahaha!"

A man in a blue bodysuit appeared at her side in a blur of motion. One of the local capes. What was his name? Velocity?

"Impressive." said the man. "You did this?"

"Yes! It's a transmutation effect that mimics exposure to ultrasharp nanomechanical blades. Tears apart matter, molecules, everything. Just the basic effect took me a month of secret readings of Armsmaster's tech. Now, normally that would have a limited area effect, just a few inches wide, but I found a way to use the dust expansion from each transmutation as a power source for the next, set them up in a daisy chain. Pretty cool, eh?"

"Very cool." said the man with a smile. "I have a question, though."

"Of course! Go ahead, shoot, ask me anything."

"MurdererWhoGotArrestedAndBirdcagedBecauseSheStayedToGloatSaysWhat?"

"What?" she said.

And then she was encased in a ball of containment foam.

Well, fuck.

 

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. DO I EVEN NEED TO SAY ANYTHING? NO, I DON'T. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...IDIOT.

Bakuda crushed the tickertape in her hand.

She had failed again. Failed again. Caught up in her moment of greatest triumph, she had failed in the most stupid, idiotic, pathetic possible way. Her future self was right. She was an idiot, such an idiot-

Bakuda's mind snapped.

No. No. That hadn't been her. That was her past self who failed. Idiot, gloating like a moron and getting foamed like a fool. A disgrace to the name Bakuda. She deserved everything she got.

Her current self? She was better. Stronger. Smarter. Smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others. She was sure as hell not going to make that idiotic mistake ever again.

That did it. She swore on her pride as a tinker. She was going to kill Lung, and travel the world stealing tech from all the best tinkers, and make her own Device, and transplant herself into her future self's world, and knock that stuck-up bitch flat on her ass.

And then she was going to use her Device to troll the shit out of her idiotic past selves, for being such pathetic disgraces to the name Bakuda.

Bakuda grinned. Her path would be long and hard, but her victory was inevitable. She was a fucking genius, and she had infinite tries.

How hard could it be?