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stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
"Wait, I met Spark!" supplied the policeman who'd accompanied the Commissioner. "Me and Kilowatt here both did, at the Electromancers' Ball. Chill dude, great vibes."


"Cute, too," agreed the lady officer: Kilowatt, Bombshell presumed. "And definitely your type, Queen B."


"So he's a bit on the hefty side," Flame agreed. "I know, I've likewise had the pleasure of meeting him. That doesn't explain why the Division has ordered me to bring him in dead or alive, preferably dead."


Several people began to speak at once, one over the other, rapid-fire. Oriana grew bored, zoning out. When she'd agreed to be part of this meeting, it was under the assumption that it would be a quick one. While America's greatest crimefighters took turns speculating on the agenda of some nobody rogue, there could be a mugging in progress right up the street.


And even if there wasn't, Oriana knew for a fact that there was a hefty, handsome robotics engineer whose lap she wished she was straddling, her body sinking against his warm, pliant rolls as she popped chocolate truffles into his mouth and melted him with sweetly whispered praises…


"Yo, Bombshell, Crucifix!" Oriana was snapped out of her reverie by the sudden call for attention from the man in the Commissioner's entourage of two. Human Taser or something like that? She was pretty sure that's what his name was. "You two know Martika Mitchell, right? Cause she was Spark's date to the masquerade. Does she talk about him?"


Crucifix was likewise distracted, having gone rummaging for something in the left cup of her tight bustier. At the sound of her name, she startled, resulting in a jelly-like bounce of her whole voluptuous body. "I'm sorry, Ms. Flame, who did you say had a price on Spark's head?"


"The US Heroics Division. And I'm usually not authorized to use lethal force–"


"You were authorized when you murdered Voltage," mumbled the Commissioner.


"--so I suspect my handlers are up to no good. I'm wondering if carrying out the hit is worth the check, or if I should leave him alone and claim he escaped."


Finally finding her coveted prize–a pack of cigarettes and a lighter–Crucifix lit one up at the table and leaned back. "You know, Ms. Mitchell actually put me and Spark in contact."


It was news to Oriana that Martika knew the mysterious Spark, but she was sure her best friend had a good reason for withholding the information until now.


"We had fantastic whoopie in the back of the Sparkmobile this one time. His cock's huge!" Still holding her smoldering cigarette, she extended both of her pudgy pointer fingers and held them a whole foot apart. "Oh…I sure hope his Division warrant isn't related to our little soiree at the site of the Rivington University explosion. That would mean they want me too."


"Actually, strangely, the Division has issued a memo for all personnel to turn a blind eye to your antics," said Flame. "I was surprised at first, but it makes more sense now, knowing you've been intimate with Mademoiselle Mitchell. They aren't above accepting bribes. She's probably paid them off. But now I'm curious: what were the two of you doing at the demolition site?"


"We were gonna blow up the labs underneath of the school. DUH." Crucifix puffed elegantly on her cigarette, her amply-glossed lips closing around its filter before pulling away and leaving a deep purple stain. Her words set off a collective gasp of shock from the crowd, but, either indifferent to their reactions or oblivious, she continued through a mouthful of swirling smoke: "Of course, once we got there, someone had already beaten us to the punch. The school board probably planted the bombs themselves to get rid of the evidence that they were conducting inhumane experiments on kidnapped students. You know, those experiments, the ones that made it onto the news anyway. Spark was actually one of the captives, but he escaped last year. He told me all about how they extracted his bone marrow without anesthesia and pumped him full of Deviance suppressants and kept him in a locked cell, starved."


"My alma mater is doing what?" Flame looked like she was about to choke.


"Dissecting students, yep. The first night we met, Spark wouldn't shut up about it. Weirdest courtship ever, but I guess you meet the most interesting folks when you're a swinger. Oh, and just so we're clear, Spark's plan was to evacuate the captives and get them to safety before we destroyed the lab. I wouldn't have tagged along with him if he was some kind of murderous dickhead."


Flame blinked slowly. "You really could have led with that, Cherí."


"Sorry, I was jonesing for a smoke and I got distracted."


"And where was I while you were off uncovering secret plots about cutting people open and shit?!" snapped Bombshell. She could understand if her best friend neglected to mention a tryst or two, but the explosion at Rivington was a national scandal!


"I didn't think you'd be interested." Crucifix shrugged innocently. "But I guess a conspiracy involving the mass mutilation of Deviant school kids does sound like a pretty big deal if you've spent the last couple of years slumming it among Genetic Typicals. Anyway, if we're done here…" She glanced at Flame, who gave her a nod of assent. "You wanna go find some bad guys to throw in Fat Jail?"


"Sure," agreed Bombshell. "All the sudden I got some mad steam to blow off."


***


Bombshell wondered: had she failed as a hero?


These past years, she had prioritized her role as the defender of the meek above all else. She'd sacrificed friendships, strained her relationship with her family, and sabotaged any chance of a romance with any semblance of normalcy, all to free her up to come to the rescue of whatever distressed Blackwater citizen needed her most direly. The rise of Big Tech to fame–and their legendary collision–had solved the dilemma of her silent suffering in solitude, but there was still so much she had neglected.


Students in torture chambers…Division contractors ordered to assassinate freedom fighters…she had been aware, since her own school days, that it wasn't safe to be a Deviant, but her focus had been on her own safety and that of those chosen few she allowed to love her. Her flashy displays of heroism were in equal part vulgar displays of power designed to deter the oppressive agencies with their hands ever around the Deviant population's throat from attempting to contain her. It had always felt like the most sensible way to live, but nowadays, as she became more and more exposed to all the work Crucifix put towards Deviant liberation, her own self-preservation instincts looked more like cowardice to even herself.


Bombshell didn't sit well with guilt. Many had attempted, over the course of her entire heroic career, to induce guilt in her over her predilection for massive men, and her knee-jerk reaction to guilt, whether justified or not, was to simply refuse to feel it, or at least try her damnedest. When situationally afforded the indulgence, she buried it under self-pity, but she was far too proud to cry in front of the almighty Princess of Pain. Stress baking was another of her favorite outlets, but there wasn't an oven in Crucifix's car, although it was equipped with a fully stocked mini bar–well, it had been fully stocked, before Bombshell, stewing in her petulant silence in the passenger's seat, slugged back every last sample-sized bottle of fancy Polish vodka.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
((TW for a pretty violent fight scene that contains SSXWG. Oh, and I left it on a cliffhanger that's gonna make a lot of people mad, but Bombshell will be fine. Y'all know me better than that 😇))

***

"Did you feel that?" asked Crucifix, perking up suddenly in her seat.


"Noooo-uh," drawled Bombshell with a pouty roll of her eyes. "Not everyone can be a fancy schmancy activist who has a sixth sense about when someone's in–"


The screams reached her ears then, from around the corner of the parking garage on their left.


Crucifix parked along the curb as stealthily as she could in her behemoth of an SUV. Bombshell popped her door open and tumbled out of the car. She stuck her landing on both feet, but it was graceless, her disoriented back-and-forth swaying reminiscent of the motion of mystery meat being poured out of a tin can.


"Maybe you should sit this one out, B," Crucifix suggested, making her own, much more elegant, exit from the vehicle. "Biomanipulation while intoxicated sounds like a bad idea."


"Psh. You drank."


"I drank wine. You drank liquor," Crucifix pointed out. "And I am about three times as much woman as you," she added with a grab and demonstrative shake of the ample lower belly roll that managed to force a crease in even her stiff leather bustier. Goddamn it. She was the portrait of the Platonic ideal BBW, even when Oriana was steeped in jealousy of her accomplishments.


"When Fireball drinks, his whole power set gets a boost. Maybe it'll work for me, too."


"You can't predict that. Medical science can't even predict that. Do you know how in the dark we are about Genetic Deviance?"


From the middle distance, the cacophony of the unseen struggle continued.


"We gonna stand here arguing or are we gonna save a motherfucker?" Bombshell grumbled, and with that, she rounded the corner.


A white sedan was parked crookedly by the fire line stripe on the road, the altercation taking place between a petite woman pinned to its hood and the man holding her down and battering her repeatedly with swings of his open palm. Screams flew in both directions–a violent slipstream of misogynistic slurs from the assailant competing with pleas for help or mercy from the victim–but Bombshell wasn't listening hard enough to make out any particulars, or ascertain how the fight started. This was par for the course: another day, another sorry sack of shit who was asking for it.


"Look here, asshole," she grunted, catching the man's wrist mid-swing. With an ease that bordered on animatronic, she twisted his arm, and, not bothering to finish her sentence, she flipped him forward and threw him on his back. The crack of his spine against the pavement had surely done a sufficient job of immobilizing him, but Bombshell was not in a benevolent mood. A sadistic half-grin spread across her face beneath her visor, and she let him have it.


More rapidly than any of her antagonists ever before, he swelled clean out of his clothes, every seam and button seeming to pop in choreographed unison, no match for the sudden onslaught of fat filling every part of his body from his center down to his extremities. 400, 500, 600…


By the time Crucifix caught up with Bombshell, huffing and puffing the slightest bit from the difficulty of the short jog, the small-time villain had crested the 900-pound mark and was quickly approaching half-ton territory. Splayed on his back, his lardy limbs fought for space with his torso's rolls, each a wobbling ring of flab that crowded closer against its neighbors every second.


"Damn," said Crucifix, "maybe you were onto something with that Fireball theory."


Then a blinking red notification in the corner of Bombshell's visor screen made her blood run cold.


CARDIAC ARREST IMPENDING: 30 SECONDS


Fuck!


29 SECONDS


Citizen's arrest was one thing. So was forced fattening as a means of detainment. But even at her most malicious, no amount of self-righteous self-importance could make Oriana okay with the prospect of carrying out a citizen's execution.


28 SECONDS


If she attempted an impromptu reduction, she would probably only kill him faster.


27 SECONDS


She knew from experience that she could revive someone from a cardiac arrest provided they were still alive, but she had no guarantee he would survive with his body under so much strain from putting on so much weight so quickly.


26 SECONDS


The only viable solution she could think of–and she had no idea whether it would actually work–was to take the man's impending heart attack and give it to someone else in the hope that she could revive them.


25 SECONDS


Martika was not an option. To Oriana's knowledge, her power set included no enhanced physical durability whatsoever, and she got winded climbing stairs.


24 SECONDS


But Oriana could probably biomanipulate herself in her sleep, right?


23 SECONDS


Besides, the self-proclaimed Reckless Wonder was way less afraid of death than she was of finding out what it was like to live with manslaughter on her conscience if there was a chance she could have prevented it.


She marked the rest of the countdown second by second, and just as the man's heart was about to stop, she yanked on the thread of biomanipulative energy that linked her to him and absorbed the impact.


She seized instantly, collapsing limply on her side like a rag doll after a second's delay. Beside her, Martika dropped to her knees, gripping her shoulders. "B! What's going on, what happened?!"


"I'll prob'ly just wake right up," said Oriana, "but it's worth calling the hospital anyway."


"Hospital? What did he do to you?!"


With breathing quickly becoming more laborious and the edges of her vision beginning to blur, Oriana didn't have wind to waste explaining to Martika exactly how she'd landed herself in this week's potentially mortal peril. There was someone else who needed her words more.


With her last wisps of strength, she murmured just loud enough for her voice-command interface to pick up, "Compose: text. Add recipient: Big Tech. Contents of message: I love you."


She closed her eyes, and, with a gasp, slipped under.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
Chapter 11

***

"Thinking of adoption? Here at the U.S. Heroics Division, we know your top priority is your child's bright future. Every year, our carefully curated breeding program works around the clock hand-selecting the genes of the nation's future defenders. But it takes a lot more than good breeding to forge the mind of a hero. It takes a great upbringing. Think you have what it takes to nurture one of tomorrow's saviors? Visit WWW dot Heroics Division dot Gov, forward-slash, Breeding, for more information!"


The advert was playing on the radio on the bedside table when Oriana stirred awake in het hospital cot, its thin, lumpy mattress no less comfortable than the cheap bed that still felt like bed in the cheap house that still felt like home of her childhood, though the harsh, sterile smell of antiseptic offended her warmth-seeking, humanistic sensibilities. Inch by inch, her vision swimming, she pulled herself upright. She was not so eager to prove her strength that she felt the need to rip the IV out of her arm like in so many cheesy action movies…the radio, however, had to go. She wished she could simply stop finding out new information about the Heroics Division; every fresh tidbit was worse than the last. On her third attempt to grab for the cord, she succeeded and yanked it from the wall socket.


Outside her room, a conversation carried on, its participants oblivious to her rousing. "So one minute, she was fine, and the next, she'd flatlined?" That was Eddie's voice.


Then, from Martika: "I tried to stop her from biomanipulating drunk, but she wouldn't listen to me. The doctor says it's unclear whether or not it was a ricochet. Do you know what a ricochet is?"


"She's explained it, briefly. Is there a prognosis?"


For a moment, Oriana panicked. Had her identity been compromised? She looked down at what she was wearing: khakis and her orange sweater. Crucifix had had the foresight to change her into her plainclothes before delivering her to the hospital.


Stated differently: Martika had undressed her.


A new voice reached her ears, presumably the doctor on duty: "You must be the husband and sister?" Funny; Oriana had neither a husband nor a sister, but it sounded like the kind of white lie Martika would tell to obtain visitation privileges. "I'll let you in once I ascertain that she's stable."


The door swung open, and the doctor admitted himself. "Ah, Oriana, I see you're awake!"


"You need a new dang radio station in here."


"I'm afraid I'm not in control of what programming the hospital provides," said the doctor. "I'm told you took quite a tumble. Can you tell me if you have a personal or family history of ricochets?"


"I'm pretty sure it wasn't that," said Oriana.


"I just have to rule out all the possibilities. If you are suffering from Ricochet Syndrome, it's important to get you on a steady dose of Deviance suppressants. RS can lead to a whole host of symptoms, including unchecked weight gain."


"Why do you sound like you're more worried about that than the fucking heart attack I just now had?"


"It seems your powers of bio–"


"Yeah yeah whatever, shut up, shut up. I wanna see the fam."


The doctor sighed. "As you wish," he said, and let Eddie and Martika in. Like herself, they were both in plainclothes: Martika sporting a peach colored tracksuit that rode up to expose an inch or two of belly, but it was all good, since it was designer, and Eddie wearing that blue button-down/red suspenders combo Oriana loved on that big body that so tested the ensemble's limits with its cascading rolls of flab. She was feeling better already at just the sight of him.


"ORI! OH, THANK GOD!" Instantly, Martika was upon her, gripping her around the shoulders in a tight bear hug. "I blame myself entirely, of course!"


"Martika, it's…it's alright. I'm alright."


"Well, you certainly could have fooled me!"


"She scraped by on dumb luck," said the doctor, "but now that we're all in the room, I think the conversation really needs to be had about selective suppressants–"


"Suppressants?" asked Eddie. "What is that?"


"Don't worry about it, it's not an option," Martika interjected, before about-facing towards the insistent physician in a whip-quick motion that necessitated her to widen her stance as her wobbling assets nearly tipped her off her axis. "Perhaps if you have a treatment option hidden away for RS that doesn't involve disabling your power set–"


"Well, we can disable it partially instead of completely–"


"--and doesn't carry a risk of infertility or brain injury–!"


"Guys! Doc, Martika!" Oriana called over the din. "I need to talk to my…sister, alone."


"Very well." The doctor escorted Eddie back into the hall, expounding at length about a colleague of his who was a biomanipulator specializing in weight reduction.


"Ugh, this doctor is a total quack. If I'd known…" Martika trailed off. "But then, it's so hard to find us decent care, anyway, especially when it comes to RS. I am so sorry, by the way. If I'd known, I have ways–experimental, I'll admit, and not board-tested, but I have cured someone's ricocheting before."


"Martika!" Oriana cut her off. "I don't have Ricochet Syndrome."


"I don't understand," said Martika.


"Sometimes, to keep your conscience clean, you gotta, y'know…take a little cardiac event off someone's hands."


Martika's previously concerned expression morphed into a glare of pure fire.


***


Eddie couldn't hear the muffled conversation between Oriana and Martika through the wall over the doctor's droning on about what a good weight loss specialist his colleague was, strain as he did to catch a lick of the conversation…


Until he could.


"ORI! HOW COULD YOU?!"


"Martika, I'm sorry!"


"I'M NOT THE ONE YOU NEED TO APOLOGIZE TO! DID YOU STOP FOR ONCE TO THINK WHAT IT WOULD DO TO EDDIE IF–IF–?! RECKLESS WONDER INDEED!"


The rotund woman burst out of the bedroom and strode out of the ward, carelessly bumping Eddie's arm with her shoulder along her way. "Tell dearest Ori I'll never work with her in a professional capacity again!" she snapped.


Eddie meant to ask her what was going on, but there was no catching up to her. For such a heavyset person, she moved remarkably quickly. Martika's trail lost, he padded tentatively into Oriana's hospital room, where he found her sitting up in bed, clutching a pillow to her chest, eyes watering. "Ori–"


"Nah, homegirl's right," she choked out. "It was a stupid battlefield mistake. All my old teachers from hero school woulda flunked me for sure. I didn't think Tika would refuse to forgive me, though."


Eddie knew better than to chance leaning on the bed, but he wrapped an arm around her shoulders in an attempt to bring her comfort. She fell against him, holding him under each arm in devastated desperation, buried her face in his soft chest, and began to sob in earnest.


***

It had been a rough few weeks of estrangement from Martika, but Oriana was doing her best to cope. As her life grew more insular in the absence of her best friend, she doubled down on her displays of affection for her feedee. She'd already lost one person she cared about and had no great ambitions on going through the heartache again.


***


"Good morning, sleepy head…"


Just as Eddie stirred awake, Oriana slid back onto the bed with him, holding a tall glass of orange juice dripping with condensation from how nice and cold it was, along with a platter that put off a tantalizing aroma somewhere between savory and sweet. He grunted as he rolled himself over to wrap his chunky arms around her waist. "What did you bring me, beautiful girl?"


"Sit your ass up and see!"


She helped him, of course, fluffing pillows and propping them against the headboard before taking his arm while he heaved his hefty body upright bit by bit. He felt the entirety of his mass jiggle as he settled into position and blinked the sleep from his eyes. After all these months, it was still such a turn-on, and the fact that his stiffening cock had nothing to rise against but the doughy underside of his gut bearing down on it got him all the more worked up.


And he was so, so hungry. So hungry, he was lightheaded. So hungry, his stomach felt hollow. So hungry, it almost hurt.


Which was wild: he'd gone to bed on a full stomach, courtesy of five whole plates of Oriana's homemade jambalaya. It had felt so good at the time, drifting off with Oriana gently rubbing lotion into the spot right over his solar plexus where he felt the skin start to stretch, but now, only hours later, here he was, needing filling up again. Maybe at his size, even sleep took a lot out of him.


Smirking like the sly minx she was, Oriana held the plate in front of him, proudly displaying what she'd prepared. There were juicy, fat sausages, still sizzling, with a beautiful sear on one side, threatening to burst through the slits she'd sliced in them to let out steam; piping hot eggs scrambled hard with an excess of yellow cheddar cheese and dusted with a hint of red spice; hash browns made from scratch and expertly crisped; fluffy pancakes drowning in maple syrup with a pat of butter happily melting away on top; and, ironically, for both vitamins and an extra caloric punch, fresh berries folded together with hand-whipped cream.


"It all looks amazing," said Eddie. "But aren't you eating?" He already knew even this extravagant plate wouldn't satisfy his gargantuan appetite. There was no way he was sharing.


"I ate already, while I was cooking. This is all for you, ya little butter puff." She handed him the plate and a fork, kissing him sweetly on one chubby cheek, and he needed no further encouragement to dig right in.


Everything was so delicious, and he could barely shovel it down fast enough. "So good, Ori," he grunted between massive mouthfuls, occasionally leaning back to allow her to lift the juice to his lips to help him wash it all down.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
Too soon, the plate was empty, scraped mercilessly clean with the fork tines as he fought for every bit of deliciousness he could get. "So good," he repeated, but then his belly gave a rumble and his face pinked with embarrassment. He rubbed the upper part of his stomach in a vain attempt to get it to quiet down. "Is there any more to eat?"


"He said!" She was gone for a moment, and then she was there again, offering him a piping hot bowl of oatmeal. He wasn't sure about it at first: he'd had instant oatmeal before. But hers was so much better. "What did you add to this?"


"Oh, ya know. Little butter, little cream, little cinnamon, little white chocolate chips."


The bowl of oatmeal was certainly a treat...but he wasn't quite full yet. "Oh...Ori…" He gave a slight squirm.


"Use your words, big guy."


"I'm...I'm still hungry. Please feed me more?"


"Atcha service, darling."


Once more, she disappeared, and this time, when she came back, she had two Nutella sandwiches on white bread, cut into triangles on a plate. She sat down at the foot of the bed and held out one quarter in her open palm. "Show me how much you want it, sweetheart."


"You mean…?"


"If you're that hungry...come get it."


Painstakingly, he worked himself up to all fours. Then, on his knees, he leaned forward and devoured the offered bite from her open hand, and the next one, and the next, until all of the food was gone and Oriana was a wet, squirming mess.


He collapsed flat on his back after that, his breathing labored. She tumbled onto the bed after him, nestling against his flabby side. "You did so good for me, Eddie! Finishing every last bite…" She gave his soft lower roll an affectionate pat before squirming onto her side and propping herself up on one elbow. His belly felt so round under her fingertips...so hard. "I didn't stuff you too much, did I? Belly doesn't hurt, does it? I swear, I didn't mean--"


"Ori.


"So good...Ori, please…"


"Aww, you're so adorable when you beg me like this." She removed her shirt and threw it over the side of the bed. Straddling his thick thighs in nothing but her panties, she said, "You wanna be a good boy and tell me what's on your mind?"


His fingertips briefly brushed her waist--he couldn't reach all the way, what with the veritable ocean of his belly fat between them. "Closer," he sighed, beckoning her in for a deep, desperate kiss.


Then, "Thank you. That was all so delicious."


Then, "So good."


Then, "Need you."


"Same, though," she responded breathlessly.


Between the sensual stuffing and the view of Oriana's round, heaving tits on full display, he was hard and ready for her when she pushed aside her panties, hefted his gut off of his crotch, and mounted him. Squeezed and surrounded by her slick warmth, he groaned with pleasure, gripping down on her thighs. She pressed herself into his doughy overhang and rode him, gently, carefully, but with a quick pace and determination that doomed him to spend himself far too soon. "Fuck, sorry, I just got it," he panted.


She smirked. "Yeah, me too. Twice. Shower time?"


It took him a minute to catch his breath. He was lightheaded and his heart pounded in his chest, working overtime to keep his blood pumping through his intense orgasm. But eventually, the moment passed, and he let her drag him out of bed by one hefty arm.


"I can make it to the bathroom myself, you know," he said, chuckling as she stepped up to support him, tugging his arm around her shoulders. It was only twelve shaky steps away, and, having had months to get used to his new girth, he could make it on his own without robotic assistance.


"I know. But I'm off work, and I'm here, and I like taking care my big, special boy." She gave his belly a pat, followed by an affectionate squeeze that made him squeak with delight and lay his hand over hers to push her fingers even deeper against his squishy spillage of belly fat.


She opened the double-wide shower door and turned on the water to warm it up, testing it with her fingers second by second. Once she deemed the temperature comfortable enough, she took his hand and led him inside.


They kept a sturdy, stainless steel chair in the shower, both so he could rest under the stream of the water and so she could more easily help him wash his hard-to-reach spots: otherwise, their height difference would have proven quite the difficulty, tower as his tall frame did over her short, curvaceous stature. After sitting him down, she took a warm, soapy washcloth and got to work cleaning the butter and syrup from his face and chest. She wrung the cloth out under the water, applied more soap, and proceeded to scrub and massage every inch of him, in the spaces she found as she lifted every bulge and roll…


The water was starting to lose heat when she finally cut the flow. Keeping the shower door closed to trap the steam and warmth within, she retrieved one of the fluffy white towels she'd draped over the shower wall and began to dry him off, humming a little tune to herself all the while.


"What's that song?" he asked.


"It's a lil French whaling shanty, Scarlet Flame taught it to me. You'll meet her one these days."


It took three towels to dry off the entirety of his hulking expanse. After that, she helped him back to the bedroom and laid him back down on the sheets, squeaky clean and naked as the day he was born. "Good?"


"Yeah," he nodded. "Except…"


"Except what?"


One last grumble from his belly gave him away. "I don't know if it was the shower or the sex that took so much out of me," he admitted, "but I think I'm hungry again."


"Don't you say another word!" She raced out of the room. He heard the sounds of beeping from the microwave. Then, she returned, holding a pint of melted ice cream to his lips. It was chocolate, his favorite, and he drank it down effortlessly.


Once he was finished gulping it down, he set the empty container on the nightstand. "Oh my God, Ori...you always know exactly what I need. That really hit the spot."


"What can I say? Stick with me, and you'll never be hungry for long."


He rolled onto his side and wrapped a tree-trunk sized thigh around her waist the way he knew she loved, his stomach tightly, euphorically packed and pressing against her smaller body. "And you'll never be cold or lonely again."


"I like this arrangement."


Just then, the Fatphone rang on the nightstand. Oriana begrudgingly extracted herself from her lover to take the call.


"This is Bombshell, what is your emergency? Okay...wow. Run. Get to safety. Help is on the way."


Eddie practically felt himself deflating. "Do you have to go?"


"It's serious. Terrorist attack on City Hall. We both have to go."


***


No fewer than sixteen terrorists lay immobilized, scattered about the courtyard of Blackwater City Hall, only minutes after Bombshell and Big Tech arrived on the scene. Most of them had been knocked unconscious by Big Tech's energized beams, but Bombshell had certainly gotten her licks in, and four would-be suicide bombers now lay helpless on their backs, fattened out of their explosive vests, wriggling and flailing the best they could but too heavy to right themselves. As police arrived on the scene, they began to put all the bombers in cuffs who would still fit in them.


And if the cops were here, the media would be soon to follow.


Sure enough, Oriana soon found a microphone thrust under her chin. "Bombshell! Good to see ya!" The familiar face of Fredo Flores smiled down at her. "And Big Tech, the pleasure is mine! Now, tell me: the pair of you have fought back to back together before of course, but never against so many opponents. Color me impressed, and I'd love to have you both on the show at some point. For now, what can you tell me about your coordination strategy?"


"Oh, the technology is all his," said Oriana. "Just now we basically stayed on the phone the whole time. This headgear ain't just for protection, it's Bluetooth enabled."


"We rely on each other to keep the other in the loop," Eddie added. "And with the video feature, I can catch things on her end that she hasn't noticed, and vice-versa."


But of course, the city was still full of reporters less friendly than Fredo. Indeed, it seemed he and Martika were the only ones on Bombshell and Big Tech's side as the horde descended. The crowd of reporters grew to ten, twenty...more, even, all fighting for answers to demeaning questions, shoving each other aside for a chance to confront the subversive superhero duo.


"Big Tech, have you gained even MORE weight?"


"Ignore 'em," muttered Oriana, steering Eddie away from the horde with a hand on the back of his upper arm. "They gon' ask that every time. If you picked up a few, it ain't that noticeable at this point."


"What if I want it to be noticeable?" Eddie whispered back, taking her around the waist with his arm. "It's kind of exciting, thinking of giving them visual proof that I don't care what they think."


"Really?"


"You're my girl, Ori. And all I want to do is give you more of me to work your magic on. I was nervous at first, but you helped me realize I do deserve to feel good, and the better you feel, the better I feel, and the bigger I get, the better you feel, and if they don't like it they can suck my--"


"Bombshell, how do you sleep at night, knowing you're enabling your partner's willfull self-destruction?" shouted someone in the media mob, ruining the moment. "Even if he does want it, don't you have a responsibility to talk some sense into him? But you won't do it, will you, not as long as he's playing into your sick sexual ends!"


Oriana had been riding so high just seconds ago...Eddie used to be so shy, and she'd found it cute. Hearing him whispering defiant dirty talk into her ear as they left a crime scene, or at least tried to, revved her up in a whole new way…


Goddamn the woman from Vox News for bringing them down. "Fitfully, knowing there being folks like you out there who refuse to mind y'all damn business."


"Big Tech, does Bombshell have to help you go to the bathroom?"
 

stevita

like the pancake
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493
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"That's none of the public's business," spoke Eddie into the microphone.


"Big Tech, have you given any consideration to the potentially deadly consequences of your fetishistic lifestyle with Bombshell?"


She boiled over then. How dare some sleazeball from Channel 5 go there! Especially after the yet-kept-private, tragic motive Eddie had had for fighting for Bombshell's attention in the first place…


The things he'd been through…


In her rage she snatched the microphone out of the reporter's hand. "Do he look dead to you?!" she snapped, before throwing the mic to the ground and knocking the reporter off his feet with a powerful right hook. "Fuckin' cunt."


"Oh my God, what a psycho!" someone cried.


"Oriana!" Eddie took her by the elbow, his voice trembling with concern.


"Talk shit," she said darkly, "get hit."


"I appreciate you looking out, as always, but I think we'd both come out of this looking like the bigger person if we walked away peace--"


Just then, a flashy red convertible careened around the corner, made a sharp U-turn, and parallel-parked right in front of them.


***


"Did somebody say, terrorists?"


The woman who hopped over the car door and onto the sidewalk stuck her landing, hands on her hips in a heroic stance, but the sight of her left Eddie a bit...bewildered. He knew of her, of course, and knew her compulsive abilities would have allowed her to charm sixteen men into handing over their bombs no sweat, but if not for her reputation preceding her, she'd have looked more the part of a lingerie model than a superheroine. Dark, elegantly styled curls fell just short of her bony shoulders, and her costume of red satin and lace left very little of her dark skin unexposed, displaying her long legs, protruding pelvis, and delicate collarbones. It was a costume decision he couldn't understand: wasn't she freezing?


"S, you look terrible," said Oriana. Eddie could hear the wince in her voice. "You been under stress since last time we met?"


"I'm fine, cherí. My handlers just have me on this stupid cleanse until the end of the month. I can only have maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and red wine right now, and I had to fight for the wine."


"Scarlet Flame?" said Eddie, confused. "Don't get me wrong, it's an honor to meet you, but we already--"


"I see," said Scarlet Flame, surveying the scene through her trademark masquerade mask. "If I'd have known someone had picked up my shift, I would have saved myself the drive." Her voice was soft and mellifluous, with a slight but noticeable French Canadian accent. "But I'm glad I came! Bombshell, it's been too long!" She pulled Oriana into a brief but tight embrace. "And Big Tech, at last we meet! Enchante." She extended a girlishly limp handshake that he met tentatively. "Well, I've already collected the direct deposit for this job. As long as I'm in town, let's grab drinks! You two look like you could use it. Come on, get in the back."


As uncomfortably tight a squeeze as Scarlet Flame's backseat was, Eddie and Oriana both found themselves bound to her command. Oriana was practically squeezed into two thirds of a proper seat next to Eddie--he'd have felt guilty, if he didn't know the idea excited her. Or, rather, it would have on any other day. Right now, as Scarlet Flame pulled back into traffic, Oriana stared out into the horizon broodingly.


"I'm sorry," said Eddie.


"What business you got feelin' sorry for me? They comin' down on you just as hard."


"I really thought speaking out on Martika's show would change things."


"The only folks that tune in to Martika are the ones what's already on our side. Ain't no convincing a bigot."


They pulled up at the city planetarium of all places. Scarlet Flame undid her seatbelt, struggled with the door, and began staggering to her feet, hindered by her tight corset, before Oriana cut in, offering an arm to help her up. "I see chivalry isn't dead after all, eh?" Scarlet Flame giggled. Eddie would have offered to help her himself, but among the terms Oriana had used to describe her crimefighting mentor, 'turbo lesbian' had come up, so he figured the lingerie-clad heroine would prefer Oriana's physical contact.


Scarlet Flame led the way to the admissions desk. "You're going to let us in for free because these two just saved the day again," she declared to the employee working the desk, and he let them through without question.


There was a small but elegant bar and restaurant area on the first floor with space-themed decor and shelves lined with bottles up to the ceiling. Though it was nearly empty, Scarlet Flame made a theatrical point of looking around for a table. "Where should we sit?"


Oriana seemed to light up, a bounce returning to her step at some inside joke between the girls. "At the counter, of course, now that we can!" The integration humor wasn't lost on Eddie, but he didn't think it was his place to contribute to the conversation.


As the girls hopped onto barstools, Eddie opted to remain standing. The stools weren't exactly sturdy looking...but the bar was as good a place for the three of them to order as they would get. Looking around, he quickly determined there wasn't a chair on the floor that would hold him, and the booths were too narrow.


Scarlet Flame flagged down the bartender. "Could we get a bottle of your nicer zinfandel?"


The bartender set three glasses down, uncorked a bottle, placed the cork in front of Scarlet Flame and poured her a small sample. The bird-boned crimefighter took the cork in hand and ran her thumb over the damp end before raising her glass and taking a sip. After a moment of contemplation, she nodded enthusiastically. The bartender filled Oriana's glass, then Eddie's, and finally, Scarlet Flame's.


"Oh, he doesn't--" Oriana started to say, but Scarlet Flame cut her off.


"Drink up, mon amis!"


Oriana raised her helmet just enough to sip her wine, and, under the influence of Scarlet Flame's powers, Eddie had no choice but to do the same.


It was awful.


It tasted how he imagined rotten grape juice would taste, if you cut it half and half with paint thinner. He choked it down miserably and coughed.


"S, that wasn't fair! He's not a drinker," Oriana protested.


"Oh. Merde. You should have told me," said Scarlet Flame. "I'm not used to that. Us contractors, we all drink." Scarlet Flame took what remained of Eddie's glass and poured it into her own. "Sorry, Big Tech. I just thought you might need some help winding down after everything that's happened."


"Understandable. I'm fine, though, really. I'd have thought the media would be more concerned about the terrorists than my sex life with Bombshell--"


"Terrorists? Please. It was an inside job."


"What?" Oriana's wine glass shattered in her grip.


A passing waitress cleared some nearby barstools out of the way. "I got it, don't worry, happens all the time. I keep telling management about this cheap glassware," she said, fetching a broom to sweep up the broken glass. The bartender replaced her wine glass.


"I thought something was off about their bombs!" Eddie exclaimed. "No fuses, no detonators--"


"Why?!" Oriana demanded.


"Look," said Scarlet Flame, "Uncle Sam doesn't like rogue vigilantes operating outside his control. And the US Heroics Division especially hates you two. They think you're embarrassing America, giving us a reputation for carelessly and even gleefully accepting l'obesity. The idea was to stage an attack and send me in to prove that Blackwater's own rogues can't defend their city, and it takes the government sending in outside assistance to get the job done. But I've got your back. Why do you think I took so much time coming to the crime scene?"


"Why do you still work for these people?" snapped Oriana.


"Because I need this job! I'm forty-thousand dollars in credit card debt and I cannot afford to part with any more plasma this month!"


Oriana topped off Scarlet Flame's glass and downed the rest straight from the bottle.


Planetarium patrons had begun to trickle into the bar to snap pictures and gawk.


"But don't feel too sorry for yourselves," Scarlet Flame went on. "Better to be on the outside then in when it comes to the Heroics Division. They've been breathing down my neck lately. Want to know what happens if I go past 125? I get pulled from televised crimefighting and put on shadow work."


"Shadow work?" asked Eddie.


"You know. Torturing political prisoners, that sort of thing. Martika Mitchell did an episode on it."


"Martika can help you!" said Oriana. "Don't mention my name if you approach her; we're not exactly on the best of terms. But I'm sure she'd be willing to front you a loan...some sort of ticket out…"


"Cherí, it's too late for me to start over. At my age, I'll be lucky to go down like a martyr while I'm still jolie." Scarlet Flame swirled her wine in her glass.


"They won't get away with this," Oriana decided. "If Uncle Sam thinks he can attack Blackwater City to prove a point--"


"I'm afraid if the attack was allowed to be staged, it means Blackwater City cleared it," said Scarlet Flame. "You know...when we leave here, in one car, people will say we snuck off to have a menage a trois."
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
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Messages
493
Location
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Chapter 12


***


Eddie only wished he was as sensible and non-confrontational as he tailored his press-sona to appear.


In a perfect world, he would have already run out of fucks to give about the controversy surrounding his substantial weight. Since his re-emergence as the heftier and more aptly-named Big Tech, he had dodged all inquiries about the fattened state of his body, but trying to fool himself into believing they didn't sting had been one hell of an exercise in method acting. When a political cartoon dropped in the papers bearing an unflatteringly slovenly depiction of himself, holding down a generic figure labeled 'the American public' while a truly cringe-worthy caricature of Bombshell forcibly fed the helpless victim through a funnel marked 'Glorifying Obesity,' he'd made a point of letting it go unacknowledged, but there was no hiding from his own simmering rage. And, as the pair of them arrived home and a post landed on his Twitter feed over his HUD informing him that the worst had come to pass for the condescending reporter who'd insulted him, he tore off his helmet, threw it on the table by the door, and tossed the last of his fucks to the wind.


It didn't please him to feel so bitter. Maybe his problem was that he was still as repressed as he was? Plenty of Bombshell fans had come forth on Twitter confessing their admiration for his prosperity of pudge, including one account, operating under the handle @SimpingBigTechFangirl, who regularly Tweeted posts in the vein of 'if #BigTech wanted to drop his belly on my face and smother me under his rolls until I expired of hypoxia I would have no complaints'.


Yeah, she was a little too morbid for him to enjoy reveling in the attention.


But maybe he'd feel better if he let himself have fun every once in a while.


And the wine at the planetarium, while offensive to his gustatory preferences, had brought with the small sip that he'd been subjected to the ghost of a head-rush that was not unpleasant.


When Oriana wandered into the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of rum, Eddie followed her and handed her two glasses from a nearby cabinet.


"Thought you didn't drink," she remarked. He shrugged.


"Things change. I used to be a thin, miserable asshole who hated my body so much I was willing to kidnap an OSHA inspector."


"Fair enough." She poured them each a shot and handed him a can of Citrus Sun from the fridge as a chaser. As for her own measure of liquor, she downed it in one gulp, much more acquainted with the drinking experience.


In small sips, he drank his own shot as Oriana led the way back into the living room, tuned the TV to the Spanish music video channel, and stood aside, inviting him to first choice of seating. These days, their three-seater was more of a one-and-a-half seater, and she preferred to cozy up on his lap, anyway, her compact body competing for space with his generous belly overhang. The liquor went down burning hot and unpleasantly bitter, but once he swallowed a mouthful of cold, relieving soda, a giddy lightheadedness overtook him.


He collapsed backwards onto the creaking couch, deactivating the remainder of his suit and letting it float through the air, in its compressed form, onto the table. She settled in on top of him, stroking one moob with reverence through his thin undershirt, initially with aggression in her pace, but eventually the movement of her manicured fingernails slowed as she allowed his softness to soothe her. "Inside job. Can't even fucking believe," she muttered under her breath.


She poured herself another shot. He nudged his own glass into her hand, and she dutifully filled it.


Gulp, gag, oof, misery, deep breath, soda pop, ECSTASY!


He felt like his heart was full of glitter and nothing could ever go wrong again, but only for a moment, and then, the moment was gone.


With a catlike whine, he pressed Oriana for a refill.


"Aww, you like it?"


He nodded. She filled the glass.


"Well, in this house, my big pretty prince gets whatever he wants!"


He sucked down the drink without a chaser this time and tossed his glass onto the coffee table, finally satisfied. He still had the wherewithal to detect she wasn't finished with her own drink, but once she drained its last drops and set her glass neatly on the table, he wrapped her up in an enveloping embrace.


"You're the best…Oriana…you're the best Oriana I know."


"I think I'm the only Oriana you know. Also, I think you're drunk."


"I want you to make me sssssooooo fat…"


"You are pretty fat." She chuckled and gave him a nudge.


"Yeah, but I wanna cover you in melted butter and lick it off. Off your naked body." He nudged her head away from her shoulder and kissed her on the neck through her super-suit.


"Butter on its own ain't that good," she replied. "Wouldn't you like it better if I put it on toast? Or like, in a pasta?"


"I can eat pasta off your naked body?"


"Don't see why not. The heat wouldn't hurt me none."


"Let's do it."


She wriggled in his arms. "First you gotta let me get out of this suit, big boy."


He only cuddled her tighter. "Careful, Ori. It only makes me hungrier when you call me that."


"Well, do you see how you're getting in your own way right now?"


"Fiiiiine." Finally, he released her, and she grinned, catching her breath.


"Thank you, my drunk darling fluff puff." She fluffed her fingers through his hair, raised his chin, and pecked him on the lips. "I'll be back. Don't go nowhere!"


"Literally barely mobile without the mech suit, but it's sweet that that's always your first concern!" he called after her as she flitted out of the room.


An hour passed. Eddie was starting to worry about Oriana, especially once he noticed she had taken the bottle of rum with her.


The sound of the shower running in the master bathroom gave away her whereabouts. It was a long, laborious journey, even though it couldn't have been more than 40 steps, but with over a quarter ton of mass to lug around, Eddie was winded by the end of it. Gingerly, he pulled back the curtain to find her sitting slumped in the shower chair, still in her full hero regalia, chugging liquor straight from the bottle and weeping.


"Ori!"


The water had run completely cold. Eddie turned it off and helped Oriana to her feet. "I know we talked about installing a bar in the shower, but I don't think this is what we meant." She laughed halfheartedly at his joke. He took the bottle from her and set it on the counter. "C'mon, let's get you out of these wet clothes."


He helped her dry off and change into fresh clothes before laying her down in bed. She curled up under the blankets, still crying, looking utterly broken, completely petrified, and downright ashamed all at once.


"What's wrong, beautiful girl?"


"Twitter's saying I killed someone!" she choked. "That reporter I hit for hassling you, the news network came out and said he died in the hospital from a brain hemorrhage!"


Shit.


How had he totally forgotten to bring that up?


"What? No way," he feigned oblivion. "It has to be a hoax. I'm sure the story is just as fake as those terrorists we fought and their gag bombs."


"I punched him r-really hard, Eddie." She sniffled and wiped her nose on her sleeve. "I was just so mad…but lookin' back, I can't see how he could have survived. Yeah, that guy was a little douchebag, but I'm the massive sack of dog crap what executed him!"


"Even if you did kill him, which I don't believe you did," Eddie lied, "in my professional, superheroic opinion, the blame rests on the news network for not providing their field reporters with some kind of Bombshell-proof head gear. It might be a matter Big Tech needs to look–"


He was interrupted by an insistent knock at the door.


Oriana rolled over onto her stomach and buried her face in the pillow. "Just look through the hole and tell me how many cops they sent," came her muffled reaction.


"The cops won't come here, not even the Commissioner knows you're Bombshell," Eddie reminded her.


"That don't help my conscience none, but thanks for the reassurance."


Yeah, unsuiting had been a bad idea.


It took what felt like an eternity to drag his bulk to the front door. He answered a second round of knocking to encounter Martika standing on the stoop, holding a stack of pizza boxes three high.


Eddie sighed, annoyed. "You've got some nerve, coming here after you abandoned Oriana at the hospital. How did you even get this address? Did Dante give it to you?"


"Forget for a minute about where I get my intel," she said, striding past him to set down her haul, "and let's talk about this terrible smear campaign the fatphobic, Genetic Typical media mob has started against our Ori!"
 

stevita

like the pancake
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Back in the early days of his career, Big Tech might have called himself a supervillain, but that was never what he truly was. Well, the legal definitions of 'superhero' and 'supervillain' had less to do with moral goodness versus moral destitution and everything to do with arbitrary standards of actions and behaviors determined by a clandestine panel of Congress members and Heroics Division higher-ups, but the fact of the matter was that Eddie Salvidar was inclined by his nature to see the best in people.


Anyone less faithful than he in humanity would have done the detective work automatically, knowing that Crucifix was a woman who, despite having the world at her financial fingertips, had still come unhinged enough to put together a costume and patrol the streets for crime on nobody's payroll, harboring a years-sustained, unrequited crush on Oriana: obviously, she knew where to find Bombshell because she had stalked her to her home.


It had been one of those nights where the girls got together to fight crime in collaboration. After Bombshell dropped her off, Crucifix had tailed her in secret, even going so far as to use her grappling hook to climb up the sturdy old tree in the backyard for a better view of what she was missing in the BombTech household. The loving couple had been too occupied with their feed-and-fuck frenzy to notice her peeping, and if Eddie's excess of intellectual acumen had failed to allow him to deduce any of this, Martika certainly wasn't going to spill the beans.


"So that reporter's not really dead?" asked Eddie in a tone that came across to Martika as shockingly flat.


She'd have thought it would take more work on her part to rattle his moral compass. She had actually been looking forward to corrupting the doughy dreamboat in pursuit of her own grandiose ends.


"Ooh, do I detect a note of disappointment in your voice, Captain Altruist?" she teased. "I would have thought you'd be thrilled to hear that your sweetheart is innocent."


"I would! I would. I guess there's just so much abuse one can take from the press before you start going to a dark place inside."


"Completely understandable. Oh!" She startled as Oriana padded into the room, looking puffy-eyed and miserable. "Ori, we were just talking about–"


Oriana closed the distance between them and threw herself at Martika, enveloping her in a tight, tight hug that bordered on painful while sobbing into her chest. "Don't you ever leave me alone like that again!"


"Aw, Ori!" Martika smoothed a hand down the back of her best friend's hair. "I'm so sorry. I guess I just thought…I thought that you'd be better off without me around to be a bad influence. And I thought if I was mean enough about it, you'd be happy to go on living without me. But I was an idiot. I should have doubled down on our partnership so I could protect you from things like nasty terrorists and murder accusations!"


"The terrorists were fake," said Oriana, her voice muffled with her face still pressed between Martika's bountiful bosom.


"And Martika just confirmed that so are the allegations, so you can relax!" added Eddie.


"Well, hold on. I don't actually know whether the guy's dead or not," she explained. "And, in the eyes of the law, it doesn't matter."


"What?" spluttered Eddie. "How is that possible?"


"The Citizen Safety Proviso," Oriana choked out, once she'd at last released Martika.


"The what?"


With a deep breath, Martika sat Oriana down on the couch, then Eddie. "There are loopholes in the law," she explained, beginning to pace the floor as she snagged a piece of pizza from the topmost box, "that legislators have stated on the record exist to protect the general population from Deviants, but it's never been about public safety so much as keeping us under the government's control. For example, an executive order back in the 90s gave the Heroics Division board of directors the discretion to execute any vigilante operating independently from itself, the military or the police, for any reason, by any means."


Oriana nodded. "That's why Kilowatt joined the BCPD. Which is probably who I should turn myself in to; Jazz will probably go the easiest on me."


"Not true," said Martika. "There are loopholes we can exploit, too: for example, did you know that if a rogue isn't sighted or heard from for thirty days, we're presumed dead? After the month, even if you come back under the same alias, the Division will just assume someone else with the same power set has taken up the mantle. I know we don't really do that, but they assume we do since they do it all the time. They're on their fourth Captain Justice this century, and he's the biggest douche of them yet."


It was this sort of fanciful strategic footwork that had landed her at the top of her class when she went for her master's degree in supervillainy at the Deviant Training Center of Moscow.


All the other hopefuls in her Intro to Coups class has laughed at her on the first day of the semester, when the professor had them go around the classroom stating whether their ambition was to conquer or destroy the world, only for the fat American outcast to pipe up that she planned on saving it. She'd still managed to blow them all academically out of the water.


"So if Bombshell just stays home for a month, I can get away with taking an innocent life?"


"Innocent," muttered Eddie under his breath with a roll of his eyes.


"I was actually thinking we could make a girls' trip out of it," said Martika. "I've been dying to show you my new vacation home in Utah."


"But…" She looked at Eddie. "That would mean a month of not seeing you. A month of not even getting to hold your hand…"


"Ori, you're talking to a prodigy of robotics engineering and one of the most successful businesswomen in America. Everyone in the room knows his hand isn't the part of him you're most interested in getting yours on," said Martika. "But if you stay in Blackwater, you'll be too tempted to go make a save every time the FatPhone rings."


"Then I'll turn it off."


"She's right," said Eddie, "you won't keep it off. Not for a whole month. You're too righteous for that. But I can answer it while you're away!" he offered. "I'm pretty good at saving people!"


"Then it's settled! Yaaay! Road triiip!" cried Martika. "Ori, pack your stuff! And help me eat some of this pizza, you guys–!"


She sat down on the couch, only for its frame to snap under all of their combined weight. Martika winced. "I'll pay for that."


"Don't feel bad," said Eddie. "I've been there."
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
Apologies for not being around as frequently as I used to be back in my heyday, and for posting such short chapters when I do make it onto Dims. This time the reason for my inability to be as productive as I'd like for this story is a good thing, though: I'm in the process of putting together a Sparkverse CYOA!

It's a super ambitious project that my developer/permanent roommate will eventually be turning into a visual novel style game. Right now the novel is a work in progress, which I'm working on simultaneously with CoC. If you'd like to see a few previews of what I have so far, though, I'd be happy to tell you where to find 'em, along with a few other projects I have under wraps for the moment.

I'll try to have chapter 13 of this story out by the end of the month, so we can all stop stressing about what exactly this "commune" contains.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
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Chapter 13


***


"When are we stopping for gas?"


Another passenger might have spoken up sooner, using the needle on the fuel gauge as an excuse to lobby for a snack- or bathroom break, but Oriana was the opposite of a finicky backseat driver. She owed it to her powers that her body would automatically photosynthesize in the absence of food, rehydrate using ambient water vapor in the absence of a beverage, and purge itself of toxins in the absence of a nearby restroom. Not that she wouldn't go crazy if she found herself indefinitely deprived of the simple human pleasures of eating, drinking, and, well, taking care of business, but from a biological standpoint, she was built for long, nonstop journeys like the one on which she and Martika had just embarked. Little things caught her notice, though, like the way Martika's gas tank was less than a quarter full when they first set off for–she checked her mental notes–somewhere all the way in Utah, and they had already left Blackwater's city limits without stopping a single time.


"I tell you what we're not gonna do," said Martika: "we sure as hell aren't making a pit-stop in Mountainport after dark."


"What's wrong with Mountainport?" asked Oriana, having never visited the seemingly idyllic agrarian town that passed by in swaths of moonlit farmland outside the passenger window.


"The conservative nut-jobs here are notorious for stringing up robot-fuckers."


"But nobody knows I'm Bombshell. And Big Tech's not a robot, he's just a guy in a fancy suit of robot armor. I thought everyone knew that!" Although, perhaps the public would have been kinder to him if they did collectively mistake him for an AI: after all, they wouldn't be fat-shaming him if they believed him to be made out of machinery instead of flesh.


"I was actually referring to the time the marvelous Martika Mitchell," explained Martika, removing one hand from the steering wheel to point a stubby finger towards her own face, "had a tape of her leaked on Stumblr in which she's depicted fellating a robotic cock."


"What? Why?"


"Look, sometimes you have to do strange things to get ahead in the world of business."


By the time they finally stopped, it was light outside, and they had just crossed the California border.


***


Eddie wasn't normally too disheartened to wake up in an empty bed. In the past, all it had meant was that Bombshell had been called away by a citizen in peril, and that she would soon be returning home with sacks full of Taco Shack breakfast burritos for an early-morning quickie before she had to report to the jailhouse for work. Now, though, the prospect of waking up alone for twenty-nine more consecutive days pained him in a sense that was almost physical, and not just because he had long since outgrown the ability to stroke himself off–although, if he'd had the foresight to anticipate an extended period of time away from Oriana, he would have already devised some sort of contraption for that. Perhaps he ought to start drawing up blueprints for a prototype…


His cellphone rang on the bedside table. He picked it up, delighted to see Oriana's picture onscreen. "What's up? Have you made it to Martika's yet?"


"Not yet. We're just making a pit stop, which means I have a decent chunk of time to kill in the car while Tika shops for snacks. The girl is gonna want at least one of everything in the pre-wrapped cake aisle."


"Really?" said Eddie. "I've had those little hand-pies, and I think they're kinda bland and just generally bad. Or maybe it's because I'm trying to hold them to the standard of a certain feeder's culinary excellence…"


"Oh, Martika's doesn't actually like all that cheap junk food. She just eats as much of it as she can, then writes a bunch of notes about how she wants each item improved whenever I get around to trying to put together a copycat recipe. It was one of our little college games."


His throat tightened with envy. "So, you'll be keeping in practice when it comes to the feedist arts, huh?"


"Of course! I mean, not in a sexy way, but Martika doesn't actually know how to cook, and her vacation home is meant to be kind of a private retreat, so she don't have no staff there, and, well, I gotta keep her alive somehow, right?"


In the background, Eddie heard a male moan, followed by an exaggerated, theatrical complaint of, 'I don't think I could take another bite…'


"Ori are you–are you watching porn?"


"Yeah, on Martika's uPad. I miss you too much already, and who knows when's the next time I'll have any privacy?"


He didn't want to worry about the possibility of her loyalty straying, but being reminded of the insatiability of her sexual appetite wasn't helping his anxiety.


"I'll turn it off, though, if a certain big sexy superhero wants to help me out over the phone…"


He would have taken her up on the offer immediately, but right at that moment, the tinny cartoon ringtone of the FatPhone yanked him back to reality, instantly killing any arousal he might have had starting to brew. "Fuck! Your emergency phone's going off! What do I do?!"


"What do you mean?" snapped Oriana. "Pick it up, like you said you were gonna!"


"I said that on an impulse! What if it's just some guy, sticking up a bank? I can't bring a photon cannon to a bank robbery!"


"Do you still have your anti-gravity-beam thingy?"


That…was an excellent question.


"If I do, I don't know where Mybrid put the controls!"


"You'll be fine. I know you will!" said Oriana. "You saved me from Chimera on a dry run!"


"Yeah, and he would have killed me if it wasn't for your skills!"


"It's probably just some guy," said Oriana, her words slowing, her tone leveling out. "You got this, Big Tech. I know you do." With a beep, she got off the line.


His nerves eating at him from the inside, Eddie opened a phone app of his own design to summon his mech, suited up, and retrieved the FatPhone. He wasn't sure what to expect on the other side of the line. He wasn't even sure if the churning in his stomach was due to hunger, or the paralyzing fear of botching his first solo save. Nevertheless, he steeled his will and picked up: "This is Big Tech subbing in for Bombshell! How can I save you today?"


"Big Tech?" echoed a small female voice.


"Yeah?"


"What's happened to Bombshell?"


"She's…she's on a business trip!" said Eddie. He was beginning to get irritated. "I can save people too, you know!"


"O-okay…I'm at the Clover gas station at 15th and St. Philip. There's a guy threatening the cashier with a gun."


"Where are you?"


"I just said–"


"No, I mean, wherabouts in the building?"


"I locked myself in the women's room. I don't think the robber knows I'm in here."


"Good. Stay there. Help is on the way."


***


The anti-grav-ray function, as it turned out, had, in fact, been integrated into Big Tech's suit of armor. Only, it took him blinking through four layers of menus on his optically-controlled visor interface on the flight to the crime scene before he was able to find it. Clearly, Chimera was one of those tech gurus who believed in making his products as difficult to use as possible to keep his tech support line in business.


He landed at the crime scene with a heavy THUD, squeezed through the front door, and fired his beam at the robber, causing the man to float into the air with a yelp of confusion and stay there. After making the call to inform the police that the situation had been contained, he texted the number where the original call for help had come from and let his informant know she was safe.


On elbows and knees, a woman crawled out of the bathroom, looking up at him through a fringe of mussed blonde hair with wide, amazed green eyes.


Oh, fuck.


It was Tegan.


She ducked her head, scrambled to her feet, and ran out the front door to a shitty, practically broken down Ford Focus. Eddie's heart ached for her. Sure, she had broken his, but no one deserved to live in destitution. He knew he ought to let her go about the rest of her day. He had no place in her life any longer. But he was transfixed on her, shaken as she was, her fingers struggling with the keys after her harrowing ordeal.


Without even realizing it, he had followed her outside.


Noticing that he'd been staring, she stopped trying to get into the car, and, slowly, with a thick gulp, turned to face him. She bit her lip, looking up guiltily into his helmet's cycloptic eye. "I hoped you wouldn't recognize me," she said.


Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!


Had she somehow obtained his identity? She had wanted to flee the scene, and this would go much more smoothly if he let her...but it seemed they'd both given up on that. Eddie felt like a rat in a trap. He could hear the blood pounding in his ears. "Can we talk about this somewhere else?" she asked him. "Before the press comes?"


"Sure...that would be for the best," he agreed. He wasn't crazy about the idea of reporters harassing him just to ask if he'd gotten even fatter.


And he needed to know how much she knew.


So, even though the prospect of being alone with her was scarier to him than any supervillain, he wrapped his arms around her securely and took off. She squirmed a bit in his arms, the electricity her presence used to radiate now an icy unease, but luckily, her movement did not impede his flight.


They touched down on the side of the lake where Leo had first summoned him to convince him to branch out into hostage taking. As she wriggled out of his hold, her whole body shuddered with this involuntary convulsion that wasn't lost on him. Evidently, unlike Oriana, she wasn't a fan of being engulfed in an ocean of fat.


She stumbled for a moment, getting her bearings. "Are you okay?" asked Eddie.


"Yeah, yeah, just a little motion--" She paled, her eyes bulging before she bent double and vomited into the grass. Righting herself, she leaned up against a sturdy nearby tree. "I've never flown before."


"Sorry."


"No, no, I asked for this."
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
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They stood among the chirping cicadas and windswept wild grasses regarding each other in a long silence before she finally said something: "I didn't think I'd be glad it was you that came this time, and not Bombshell…but I am. That guy could have killed us in there, but that doesn't mean I would wish super-morbid obesity on him. No offense."


"None taken." Eddie shifted his weight awkwardly. "So, you don't like what she does...but you called her anyway?"


"What other superhero responds to the calls of regular people? All those big-leaguers like Captain Justice and Corporal Punishment...a small stick-up would never even cross their radar. I heard you two, by the way, on Martika Mitchell, you know," she said. "I was relieved to know you wanted her to get you all along...that you two are a happy couple…it's not something I understand, but..." She sighed and paused, carefully weighing her next words.


"That day, on the corner of First and Fourteenth...I was just trying to do the right thing. I thought you were about to brain that guy. But then when the news stations all started talking about how you had Stockholm Syndrome and that Bombshell was forcing you into her freaky fetish lifestyle...man, there were days when I'd lie awake all night thinking, wow, I've thoroughly destroyed this guy's life. And all it took was a phone call."


So that was what she'd been on about.


Little did she know, she'd wrecked him long before she called Bombshell on him.


"You were doing the right thing," he told her. "And you did it again today."


"I just did the first thing that came to mind," she said. "I thought that cashier was about to die. For a moment, I...I was afraid I was gonna die. I mean, I'm not stupid. I have a weapon, being a woman in the city alone. But I am stupid; I left it in the glove box."


"You must have been terrified."


"Look at you, trying to comfort me," she teased. He shrugged.


"Guess I'm not really a save-em-and-leave-em kind of guy."


"I figured that. After all, the first time you rescued someone, you let her take you home." She chuckled to herself. "You know, you kind of remind me of my ex."


Phew. At least she didn't know.


"In what way?" he asked nervously.


"He was ambitious. One of those guys who always wanted to be larger than life...pun not intended. And he was always trying to play the hero… He used to tell me he only ever jaywalked with me. The truth is, I only ever did it when he was around, just to make him run out into the street after me and get on the side facing the cars, like my little human shield."


Eddie swallowed a lump in his throat at her latest confessed crime against him. "Why?"


"I was young and immature. I liked being reminded he cared about me more than himself. It was a power-trip. It was intoxicating. It was a mistake."


He couldn't exactly forgive her as Big Tech, but he wasn't sure he would if he could.


"But there was a flipside to the whole self-sacrificing martyr thing."


"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to," said Eddie. Dammit! Hadn't he worked through this with Dr. Castro about not saying 'you don't have to' when what he really meant was, 'I wish you wouldn't'?


"He would get in these moods...do these things, say these things. Like, one time he asked me if I'd miss him if he…"


He didn't need her to finish the sentence. This, he remembered in painful, piercing clarity.


"What did you say to him?" he asked, suddenly emboldened. If they were going to talk about this, they might as well go all the way.


He might as well make her own up to what she'd done.


"I told him I wouldn't." A few tears slipped from the corners of her eyes. She wiped them on her sleeve.


"Did you mean it?"


"I--I don't know! Of course, I didn't want him to--of course, I wanted him to be okay! But I wanted to be okay, too, and I know his baggage was a lot for him to bear alone, but I had baggage too!"


And then it hit him: back then, he'd been so wrapped up in his misery that he'd never stopped to consider that he'd made her feel just as miserable, just as helpless and desperate, as she'd made him. In her desperation, she'd fled, and in his, he'd run towards assured destruction.


Crying inside of a robotic helmet was no more comfortable the second time around than the first, but at least she couldn't see him unraveling.


"Oh my God...I'm sorry. I shouldn't be unloading on you like this, we don't even know each other."


"It's okay. You stared down your own mortality today. You might have some tough feelings come up. And what would be the point of saving you if I didn't make sure you were okay?"


"Thanks." She sniffled.


"Anyway, it sounds to me like this guy was in the wrong for expecting you to act in the capacity of a therapist," he said.


"Yeah, well, so was I, for lashing out instead of getting him the help he needed," she compromised. "Anyway, he isn't dead. I saw his name in Modern Magazine. He's a CEO now. He made it after all."


"And...and you?"


"I'm making it. Day by day."


"What do you do?"


"I work reception at a cosmetic hospital. Not where I would have seen myself ten years ago, but...God, here I go oversharing again." She glanced up at the sky. "The sun's getting high. You should take me back before they send out a search party for the woman Big Tech 'abducted' from a gas station parking lot."


Yeah, that was a headline he'd like to avoid.


"You won't puke again, will you?"


"Nah, I got it all out of my system."


When they arrived at her car, the items behind the shop's counter had been rearranged and a new cashier was standing behind the register. The airborne burglar had already been collected by the cops, or else otherwise removed. It was as if nothing had happened.


"Good talk, Big Tech," said the woman, rolling down the window as she got into her car.


"Good talk. Goodbye, Tegan."


"I never gave you my name…"


Shit! He'd compromised himself, he was sure of it…


But then, like anyone placed in a surreal situation, she invented an explanation she could make sense of: "You probably have some kind of facial recognition software in there, huh?" she concluded, tapping her temple with two fingers.


"You know, that's exactly what it is." The knot in his chest loosened in relief.


He watched her drive off, feeling a sense of closure, of catharsis...a part of him tried to convince him he didn't deserve as much, but he knew that was just his old self talking--the voice he had buried under the ever-growing expanse of his new self, a voice that, in time, would draw fainter and fainter until the day it would cease to be heard.


***


"Welcome back, Ms. Mitchell! And Oriana, what a pleasant surprise!"


The girls arrived at last at a grand gate, thirteen miles outside of Sugar Hill, Utah. According to Oriana's GPS, it was a barren wasteland.


But that wasn't entirely accurate, was it?


Ahead lay a gleaming, sprawling metropolis, and waving them through, holding no grudge, was Jared, smiling, fat and uniformed and seeming entirely pleased with his post. Oriana expected more resentment on his part…but he just gave her a deferent nod.


"Come right through, girls! Enjoy your stay!"


Martika proceeded through the gates while Oriana surveyed her surroundings, dumbfounded.


It was like any other city…except not. Here, children played in the streets like in the olden days, only, they threw around electrical and fire attacks the likes of which would get their parents arrested for negligence anywhere else. High-rises and houses stood side by side in whimsical harmony. Everywhere, there was laughter, music, street performance. A candy shop here, a hot dog truck there. Sunlight, streaming through a clear sky. Water, flowing cool and clear from polished gutters into green, green grass.


"Where are we?" asked Oriana.


"Welcome," said Martika, with a flip of her hair, "to the Commune of Crucifix!"
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
Chapter 14

***

There was no end to his mother's incessant phone calls--there hadn't been since he'd taken Oriana to meet her. He could justify letting them go to voicemail if he was at work, but otherwise, guilt got the better of him every time. So, he'd force himself to sit through thirty minute intervals of dear old Mom spouting about how Oriana wasn't right for him, how it wasn't too late for him to get his 'weight problem' under control, how she'd heard of this new diet or that new gym or this new surgery, how selfish he'd been for never informing her he'd been suicidal, and how she was 'only saying all this because I love you.' Deep down, he knew she was full of shit, but he couldn't help but offer her a stream of 'uh-huhs' and insincere apologies that each felt like twisting a knife in his own back--granted, it'd take one hell of a knife to go deep enough to hit anything vital, but it still hurt.


He was actually relieved when the FatPhone interrupted the nature documentary he was spending his evening watching. At least it wasn't her. And he could use a bad guy to take down. This saving civilians thing gave his self-esteem a much-needed boost every time, quick though the news outlets were to try to tear him down.


He didn't even have time to say hello before Scarlet Flame said into the phone, "Bombshell, c'est moi! Meet me at Willie's Pool Hall--"


"Bombshell's out on personal leave right now," said Eddie. He wasn't surprised to learn that she knew nothing about Oriana's hiatus. Martika and Oriana had no doubt planned it that way, to prevent the Division from torturing her for information, or whatever the hell it was they were doing to their own people these days. But he saw no harm in letting Flame know Bombshell was MIA, as long as he didn't divulge where she was.


What surprised him was that Flame didn't ask. She just continued in the same frantic tones, quick to accept him as the one to call upon now. What's more, it didn't sound like a social call: "Big Tech, c'est moi! Meet me at Willie's Pool Hall as fast as you can! It's an emergency!"


Immediately, Eddie thought the worst. Contractors weren't supposed to work with rogues, especially not Bombshell and Big Tech. But if Scarlet Flame was desperate enough to ask him to be her backup, her handlers must have sent her on a mission she wasn't powerful enough to complete. Her life could be in danger...and Eddie couldn't leave a friend of Oriana's out to dry.


Stripping out of his civilian clothes, he retrieved his helmet from the end table and put it on, pulling up her location on his GPS. "Just keep 'em on the ropes, S. ETA four minutes."


***


As Eddie arrived at his destination, the question presented itself: crash through the ceiling, or use the front door? At first he thought, ceiling, for sure. It would be faster and make for a more intimidating entry.


But...no. Front door. He wasn't a supervillain anymore. Besides, limiting property damage would be better for his tax situation.


He stuck his landing in the parking lot, drawing several gasps and stares from patrons leaving the establishment, before rushing in--only, looking around, he couldn't pick out anything amiss. There were no giant monsters or hordes of shooters to fight, no stick-up taking place. A few of the bar guests appeared to be getting a little rowdy, but that was par for the course at a pool hall.


Scarlet Flame was sitting with one bony hip propped against one of the pool tables, cue in hand, talking to two men. Her mask was on and she had added to her trademark red corset-and-thong ensemble something that might have passed for a robe, had it not been completely see-through. He guessed the idea was modesty, for his benefit. He'd have to introduce her to Marion one of these days. Clearly, she didn't know as much about costume design as she thought she did.


She noticed him almost instantly--he was hard to miss. "Yoo-hoo! Big Tech! Get over here!" she called, beckoning him over with a wave.


So this was her emergency?


Unimpressed as he was, his legs marched him over to her position of their own accord.


"Rick and Ryan here--"


"Brian."


"Whatever. The boys wanted to play a little two-on-two, so you're with me, partner."


Eddie had no choice but to agree, letting Scarlet Flame put a cue in his hands.


He could do this, he thought to himself. He'd never played, but the rules of the game were simple, and he knew enough of physics and geometry to put the game in the bag.


Only, Scarlet Flame leaned in and whispered, "Throw the first match."


"I don't understand--"


Never in his life had he been instructed to perform poorly at anything. And yet, losing came natural to him, with Scarlet Flame holding the strings. Under her influence, he could barely hold the stick right, let alone sink any of the balls. She was likewise terrible, and the opposing team of two laughed as they turned to walk away from the table.


"Hey! That was bullshit. I demand a rematch!" exclaimed Scarlet Flame, suddenly bold.


The two men made an about-face, each snickering. "You think you have it in you, little girl? You both suck."


"I can do better! In fact, I'll put money on it!"


"How's forty bucks sound?"


"I'll double that!" snapped Scarlet Flame. "And...you'll triple it."


"Done and done," said one of the men, powerless to resist her compulsive attack. "In fact, Brian...let's be gentlemen and buy these ladies some drinks before we go again."


"Misogynistic humor, how original." Eddie rolled his eyes behind his mask.


"Oh, I'm sorry, the tits threw me off."


The opposition headed towards the bar. Scarlet Flame turned to Eddie and instructed, "Next round, we play for real. Give me your best."


When the enemies returned with two shots of whiskey, Scarlet Flame took each of them in hand and downed them. One of the guys--Eddie thought it was Rick--said, "What's a matter, big boy? Can't shoot whiskey?"


"He's my designated driver," said Scarlet Flame.


Then, the game begun.


This time, Eddie was on point. Scarlet Flame likewise shot with a precision she'd been hiding, and in just a few moves, the colossal crimefighter and the exploited enchantress had the boys smoked. They threw the money on the table, but they weren't happy about it.


"We've been hustled!"


"Yeah, and you know what you're gonna do about it?" Scarlet Flame snapped. "Absolutely nothing. Go home. Give your wives foot rubs and go to bed." She snatched the money off the table, handed Eddie his half, and bounded up to the bar, where she sidled into a seat. He opted to stand, like last time. "Excusez moi? Tequila soda with a lime, please, and a Shirley Temple." The bartender was quick to deliver. She handed Eddie his drink. "Relax, there's no alcohol."


"Well, at least I can count on you there. What was that? You said you had an emergency!"


"I did! I was out of booze money for the week."


"And you couldn't just tell a cashier at a liquor store not to ring you up?"


"Technically theft," she said, taking a long pull of her drink through the straw. "Technically a crime. And the Division has access to every security camera in the country."


"You could have just asked me on the phone. I'm legal to buy liquor, I'd have brought you a bottle, no problem."


"I'm...I'm not used to things being that easy for me."


"But...but you're a mind controller."


Just then, a call came in. He put it through to his interface.


It was her.


"Decline call. Compose text: I'm with a friend. Call you later," he muttered.


"If it's Bombshell, by all means, step outside."


"It's my mother," Eddie sighed in exasperation.


"Tell me how your relationship with her is."


Under her spell, he was forced to be honest. "I hate her!" he ejaculated. "She wants to say she knows what's best for me, but it's all about control for her. She hates the girl I love, she hates the life I'm living...she hates me!"


He took a step back, horrified with himself...but it was his truth. If anyone could force it out of him, it was Scarlet Flame.


"I got one of those," she admitted. "First it was Maman...then it was high school...and now it's Uncle Sam." She swirled her drink in her glass. "Believe it or not, the Scarlet Flame you see before you took a lot of work to achieve. I used to be a totally different person, but I…"


The bartender made another pass. Scarlet Flame threw some money at him and he refreshed her drink.


She downed it in one.


"I pleased everyone. At my own expense."


Another pass.


"Blood. Sweat. Tears," said Scarlet Flame. "Everything I have, I've had to fight for. But you know what…? I don't have that much."


She wiped her eyes on a bar napkin, settling her tab. "Aww, Flame...don't be sad," Eddie said, offering her a pat on the shoulder.


"Who's sad? I'm not sad. You're sad!" she retaliated, but the tremble in her voice gave her away.


"You really don't have to put on a brave face. We're friends now, right?"


"Of course we are!" she nodded, swallowing thickly to conceal her lingering sniffles. "And friends have fun together. Hey! You know what we could both use?"


"You got me there, I have no idea what we--"


"A song!" With that, she began drumming on the bar counter, starting with a loud thump on the downbeat followed by two quicker, softer smacks. "Who wants to keep the beat for me?"


It was more a command than a question, and a pair of men in suits sitting nearby at the bar took up beat-keeping duty while she climbed up on top of the counter in her precariously-balanced heels. "You all know how this goes!" she announced.


"What's happening?" Eddie murmured, somewhere between curiosity and dread.


"If you know the words, sing with me!"


"This doesn't happen in real life!" he squeaked. It was his worst day in drama camp all over again: if there was one thing he was worse at than acting, it was singing, as his childhood crush and everybody else in the seminar had found out.


But, luckily for him, he didn't know any of the words, as they were all in French.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
She sang a line, and a handful of patrons answered her with another--or maybe it was the same line, Eddie still couldn't follow. This happened a few more times, with Flame clacking her heel on the counter along to the beat, before, still singing, she clambered back down, sure to fall flat on her face without Eddie to catch her and steady her at the last possible second.


She laughed between verses, the other bar guests still drumming along, and said, "Dance with me! Everybody dance!"


"Oh, no, I don't--" he weakly protested, but he had no choice in the matter, nor did any of the crowd, who popped out of their seats and paired up. Picking the song back up, joined by a chorus of strangers, she pressed her open palm to his left shoulder and took the lead, stepping forward on her right foot to force him back on his left.


She guided him in a wide, lazy circle around the floor for a few revolutions. The song was in 2:4 time and the dance was simple, with only two steps, so he picked it up quickly. If he had to guess, the jaunty tune she carried was some sort of drinking song or sea shanty. He wouldn't know; the only word he recognized was "capitaine". As a verse ended, she repositioned her hands and changed the direction of the dance with a single step.


"Where'd you learn this dance?" he asked.


"I made it up myself!" she said. "Now, quit interrupting my song!"


Around and around they went, until finally, she had had enough. She broke away and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of one cup of her bright red bra. "Excuse me, Ms. Flame? You can't smoke in here," said the bartender.


"Says who?" she snapped, but when Eddie led her gently into the parking lot, she came quietly without protest.


"I thought it best," he explained, "if we didn't create a fire hazard."


"You're a good boy, BT," she said, jabbing the tip of one skeletal manicured finger into his soft chest. "And you're happy, right?"


"Sure! I mean, a few hiccups aside, I think that was a fun little outing."


"No, I meant, happy with your life."


"Perfectly! I have a good bill of health, I'm passionate about what I do...of course, there's Bombshell--"


"Then why let anyone ruin that?" Scarlet Flame implored him. "Look: this is not an order. Just a question. Do you--" She stumbled a bit and fell against him. He supported her easily. She was lighter than Oriana. Probably lighter than some people's carry-on luggage.


"You're drunk."


"I'm fine. Should go," she muttered, but apparently sober Flame was more powerful than drunk Flame, because he was still compelled to get her home in one piece as her designated driver.


He hoisted her little, birdlike body into his arms and prepared to take off. "What's your address?"


She gave it to him in a broken slurring tone.


The last thing she said to him before she lost consciousness was, "Do you really want to end up like me?"


***


For all that Eddie had spent his entire adult life fixated on his obsession with being forcibly fattened, there were acts filed under the umbrella of feedism that he never wished to explore even in a roleplaying capacity, let alone witness. Unfortunately, fulfilling his civic duty as a superhero meant he was no longer guaranteed a choice in the matter.


The call came in from somewhere in the stretch of park between Mitchell Tower and the iconic Waterfall Wall informing him Snakewoman was up and about terrorizing the picnickers and sight-seers, and though he had her neutralized within moments of his arrival at the scene with a quick blast of one of his photon cannons between the eyes, the sight of her swallowing two joggers at once just before he landed was enough to bring the bitter burn of bile up his throat. As cops arrived on the scene to drag away the unconscious half-humanoid, half-reptilian monstrosity, the bulging lump of civilians writhed and squirmed within its long, tube-like torso.


Yeah, he'd be having nightmares about that for the rest of his life.


"Good job, Big Tech. We've been trying to apprehend Snakewoman for months, to no avail, even with electromancers on the force," said the Commissioner, clapping him on the shoulder. "The press can say what it will about the way you look, but if you ask me, you've always done right by Blackwater City."


"If memory recalls, that's not what you were saying before he stopped a plot to assassinate you. Then again, hypocrisy is practically in the job description when it comes to politics, isn't it, Councilwoman? Oh, wait, that's right, it's Commissioner now. How do I keep forgetting?"


Eddie startled, turning around and giving a slight jump as he realized Scarlet Flame had just shown up behind him. Jesus…he knew her small build afforded her more stealth than most average people, but was materializing out of thin air also a part of her power set?


"Flame," said the Commissioner, curtly.


"Come on." Flame gave Eddie a two-fingered tap on the outside of his upper arm. "Let's get out of here before the reporters get here to ask you how you manage to do caca, or whatever other ridiculous questions they've managed to think of next." Powerless though he was to disobey, he didn't mind spending the afternoon with his new friend, especially if it meant any members of the media wishing to invade his privacy could simply be commanded away. "Good job with Snakewoman, by the way."


"How are we even sure that thing is a woman?" asked Eddie.


"Hmm…I guess I would avoid reading the news, too, if my weight was a headline in every issue. By the way, if you come across a publication called 'The Daily Blubber', don't look in it. It'll just make you angry. But as for Snakewoman, the last time she was in police custody, she laid an egg."


Eddie shuddered. "I hope it wasn't fertilized. So how long does the Division have you stationed in Blackwater?" He'd have thought they would have pulled her into more of their staged heroics elsewhere, after their fabricated terror scare flopped.


"They actually don't know I'm here. I damaged my microchip on purpose. I figured, with Bombshell absent, it would only be prudent of me, as her best friend, to make sure her man is feeding himself well enough," she explained. "Treat you to lunch? I just made fifty dollars down at the blood bank!"


As…tempting as her offer sounded, he had to decline. "I feel like anything solid I tried to eat right now would come right back up. I'd settle for a drink, though! As long as it's not red wine."


Her eyes lit up behind her mask. "Ah, so he does have fun!" Reaching the spot where she'd parked her car, in a secluded cul-de-sac encircled by a bike trail, shs popped open her door. "Get in. We're going to Melons."


***


It wasn't that Eddie didn't enjoy his time at the sports bar and breastraunt with Scarlet Flame, even if its vivid orange color scheme made him miserably aware of Bombshell's continued absence. He didn't hold it against the establishment that all of its scantily clad waitresses were thinner and more filled with silicone than his own arbitrary tastes in women cared for. What did it matter what the servers looked like if the four dollar Cantaloupe Coladas they kept bringing to the table were so tasty and went down so smooth? Reminiscing the next morning, he would say he was 90% sure he would give Melons a five star review, the final 10% only tentatively docked because of the hour or two of time he could not, for the life of him, account for.


It was totally his own fault that he hadn't thought to do the research ahead of time on the effect of alcohol, in combination with excessive amounts of sugar, without any solid food, on the human body.


For once, he was grateful that he hadn't managed to hire any help at Salvidar Solutions. At least now, there was no one in the office to see him slumped over his desk, squinting at his screen through sunglasses, sweating and shaking and pathetically hungover…


"Eddie! Eddie, are you in the office?"


…Nevermind.


Her voice grated his sensitive eardrums like nails on a chalkboard. He wished there was somewhere he could hide, but it wasn't as if he could cram himself comfortably under his desk.


The telltale click of his mother's cheap kitten heels preceded her entrance. He groaned. She gasped. "Eddie!"


"What are you doing here, Mom?"


"I had to look up your office address because you wouldn't answer your–by God! Eddie! Are you drunk?"


"Ye–no!" Maybe.


"This is exactly what I get for letting you move out on your own! I turn my back for a second, and all of the sudden my son is an overweight alcoholic! It's because of that woman, isn't it?"


Eddie winced. "She's not even here right now, she's on the la–on a business trip!" he quickly corrected himself.


"You little liar!" she snorted. "Well, there's nothing little about you now, is there? But do you really expect me to believe that a correctional officer–"


"Correctional administrator."


"--needs to go on a business trip for any–"


"HOLY FUCK, MOM, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?"


She did that thing, where she took a step back and shrunk her shoulders and sniffled. "I just thought…you might want to come home with me," she said. "I'll take care of you. I love–"


"I assure you, you don't." Now that he had heard the words from someone who actually loved him for every ounce of him that he'd ever wanted to weigh and more, the words of his mother–his first abuser–fell flat and hollow.


"How dare you take up that apathetic tone with me!" She grasped a paperweight off the corner of his desk and chucked it straight at his head.


He flinched, bracing himself with one hand in front of his face, completely forgetting in his half-drunk stupor that the photon cannons embedded in both palms of the suit he wore under his business attire were preset to fire upon the slightest detection of distress.


Cecelia Salvidar discovered the identity of Big Tech upon her last breath before her lifeless corpse fell against the floor of the office of Salvidar Solutions, halfway decapitated.
 

stevita

like the pancake
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Joined
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493
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Chapter 15


***


Eddie was beside himself with terror. The heat from his reactor still warmed the center of his palm through the structure of his Fl.A.B. glove, but the sensation brought him none of the usual comfort. He was shaking so hard his spine might have shattered without the pounds upon pounds of fat holding it in place. He wished he could melt into a puddle, or fall through the floor, or be sucked into the surface of the sun.


How the hell was he going to clean up this mess?


Mickey and Marion would freak out for sure. Mickey, in particular, had barely been able to handle it when she found out about his secret plan to get himself Bombshelled. If she saw the body on his office floor, she would go straight to the cops. As for the Commissioner, she might have been in his corner ever since he saved her life, but he doubted she would show him any leniency on the matter of matricide, even if it had been accidental.


Martika might be more sympathetic, but she was already saddled with the burden of harboring one fugitive.


There was one person he could call who would at least know in his heart that Eddie had been acting out of self-defense, and not sheer amorality, the moment his cannon went off.


***


Dante was surprisingly unflinching as he got out of the elevator on Eddie's floor. Eddie knew he'd known what was coming for the last few floors of the elevator ride at the least, but still, he would have expected the guy to react to the sight of a corpse. But all he did was cup his chin, raise an eyebrow, and say, "That's one helluva dead mom you got there."


"HOW ARE YOU SO CALM?"


"Not gonna lie, my dude, I just ate like a whole pan of weed brownies before you called. You could prob'ly kill me too right now and it wouldn't harsh my mellow."


"What do I do? God, Dante...FUCK!"


"Shhhhh, it's okay, it's okay…" He closed the distance between them and rubbed Eddie's upper back in slow, small circles. It most certainly was not okay. "Here, just...turn around. What I'm about to do ain't gonna sit well for the faint of heart."


Eddie gulped and turned around. He heard a click. "What was that?"


"I had a knife in my pocket. Still happy to see you, though!"


There was a squelch, and then Dante swore under his breath.


"What happened?" Against his better judgment, Eddie turned around. Dante had his switchblade buried in his mother's forearm.


"The idea was to cut her up and stick her in a bunch of different dumpsters, but I guess this ain't the kind of knife you cut through bones with." He yanked out the blade, pulled out a pocket square, wiped it clean and put it back in his pocket. "We could stick her whole-ass in a bag and bury her in the woods?"


"And risk her being dug up? No way!" Eddie blurted. "If forensics finds the radioactive signature on her, they'll know she was killed with a laser cannon, and how many people in the city have access to one of those? It'll be over for me!"


"Wait," said Dante. "Did you say radioactive?"


"Yeah--"


"We'll dump her in the Blackwater River. If the cops fish her out, she'll be radioactive from tits to toes, and your trail's covered. And that's if she don't get eaten by flesh-hungry mutated fish."


"Good Lord!"


"Yeah, you really shouldn't swim in there." Dante straightened his jacket and glanced at his Rolex. "Hack all the cameras in the building. Take 'em offline. We'll just wrap her up in something, throw her in the trunk of your car--"


"Can't we take your car?" asked Eddie. His was in the shop for a brake replacement: the boys at Fork Yourself had told him he'd been going way too heavy on the clutch. Kind of hard not to, when you weighed as much as at least four regular people. He'd been taking...alternative transportation to work for the last couple of days. Not ideal, and super conspicuous, but he took precautions, touching down in a nearby secluded alley and walking the rest of the way so as not to blow his cover.


"I'm fucked up out of my mind, you think I took my car here?" snapped Dante. "I Ubered, like a responsible American!"


"Well, if you don't have a car, and I don't have a car…"


Dante sighed. "Go get Ori's, I guess. Meet me back here in an hour."


That was how Eddie ended up squeezed into the driver's seat of Oriana's silver Accord, the steering wheel digging into his gut even though he'd moved the seat all the way back, his flab compressed by the door on one side and spilling halfway into Dante's lap on the other, the gear shift jabbing him in the love handle as they sped down the freeway. The two men were shoulder-to-shoulder, packed in like a pair of particularly plump sardines, Dante's chub pressing against his thigh while his other side pooled against the opposite door. Eddie had never given much thought to the male body before--well, other than his own, back in his days of fantasizing about being fattened by a beautiful woman--but now, he thought to himself that under different circumstances, this might have felt intimate. Erotic, even. If only Oriana were here to see this: her past lover and her current one, forced by tight quarters to touch at every possible point of contact, fat-on-fat, rolls-on-rolls, the jiggle, the pressure, the heat...


In the fantasy, there was no dead body in the backseat.


There was no way Eddie's mom was fitting in Oriana's small trunk--Dante had remarked, before they'd embarked, that for such a fatphobe, she sure was a 'big damn hypocrite'. Luckily, Oriana's ex had thought ahead through his stoned daze and procured supplies.


Cecelia Salvidar now sat propped up in the middle seat of the second row, the lifelessness of her eyes concealed behind chunky sunglasses and the brim of a floppy hat. Dante had plugged up the gash in her arm, as well as the gaping hole in her neck, with a liberal wind-around of Scotch tape he found lying around Eddie's office. A floral scarf completed the look: she might have just been contemplative or bored back there.


Over the pitter-patter of the familiar Blackwater rain, a siren sounded. Lights flashed behind them. "Fuck," Eddie muttered.


"You don't think you can outrun 'em?"


"Do I look like Bombshell to you?" Eddie reached for what he thought was the gear shift and grasped it, preparing to swerve into the shoulder. Dante gave a jolt in his seat that sent both their fat rippling.


"Damn, boy! At least buy me dinner first!"


Flushing scarlet, Eddie rummaged between their rolls until he managed to find his target and parked the car. A curvy little woman in a police uniform with a few stray curls falling out of her bun exited the squad car and approached the window. "What seems to be the--?" Eddie began to say, but Dante reached over and gave his upper arm a squeeze so as to say, 'Shut up, dumbass.'


"To what do we owe the pleasure, Officer Kilowatt?"


The officer blinked, then grinned, looking delighted. "You're a telepath?"


"That, and whatever else you might want me to be, once your shift is up."


"And quite the charmer, I see!" She gave the roof of the car a playful smack with an open palm. "But if you can read minds, you already know why I'm about to write you a ticket."


"Broken tail light–we didn't notice it when we pulled out, but I can see it pretty clear in your mind's eye, now. But you could fix that up for us, couldn't you, Officer?"


"I suppose I could…and maybe if the body cam footage of me using my powers to help a citizen in need made it onto social media, people might stop believing the Division's lies about the whole Voltage matter." She aimed her fingertip at the offending tail light and zapped it with a crackle of pure electric energy. "There, good as–whoa, is your friend okay back there?"
 

stevita

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((A/n: Trigger warning in the following post for Kilowatt offhandedly mentioning she may have been assaulted during her time in cryo-freeze, without further detail. Also, we've entered the part of the story that will be angsty and sad, but those who remember me from my Served days should have faith that I'll bring it back to a happier place in a few chapters.))

***

Eddie's insides wound themselves into knots.


"She'll be alright," said Dante, "given a good night's sleep and a decent breakfast. Ol' girl got a little too drunk at the office party, so we thought it'd be best to take her back to her house before any of those rowdy young interns got it in their heads to take advantage of her. Know what I mean? Take advantage?"


"Oh, I know," said Kilowatt. "You're doing a saint's work. If only I'd had a couple of good old boys like yourselves to watch over me when my last job threw me in cryo-freeze. Not that I was conscious through any of it, but I've been told that while I was under, there was some…unpleasantness that took place. Well, you gentlemen have a wonderful day!"


"Same to you, Officer!" Dante gave her a polite salute, and then she was on her way. "See? Easy like Sunday morning, bro."


"Easy for you to say," said Eddie, shifting the car back into drive. Only, he missed by millimeters and threw it into reverse instead. His first step back onto the accelerator lurched the car back a few feet, causing his mother's corpse to come flying into the back of his seat. Her head came detached from the thin few threads of sinew–and the Scotch tape binding–holding it in place, sailed over his shoulder, and landed squarely in his lap.


Eddie screamed.


***


Oriana sat at the bar, sipping a vodka soda, halfheartedly nibbling on a slice of unbuttered complimentary bread, and playing a game on her phone where, as the player, she was in control of a generic male college freshman and her gameplay decisions impacted how heavy a toll sedentary dorm life and a buffet-style cafeteria would take on his waistline, as well as which of three secret chubby chasers from his graduating class he would be destined for romance with. "Are you ready to order an entree?" asked her bartender, a slender, effeminate blond man using telekinesis to shake two cocktail shakers at once in midair behind himself.


"I'm still waiting for my friend," said Oriana.


In the week and a half since Oriana had accompanied her back to the Commune, Martika had kept busy, always disappearing to some business meeting or political obligation. They had agreed to meet at the bar once Martika got back from her day-trip to Texas to meet with the owner of LionShare Holdings, and Martika was now thirty minutes later than expected.


And yes, Oriana had already tried phoning Eddie to pass the time. Strangely, his phone had gone straight to voicemail. He wasn't busy saving anyone, though–if he was, it would be all over Twitter.


At last, Martika strode through the bar's elegant revolving door. "Honey, I'm home!"


Oriana swiveled around on her stool at the sound of the radio star's voice. Close at Martika's heels were a familiar chubby blonde and a svelte brunette.


"Sorry I took so long. I ran into a couple of former guests on Nail Me on my way out of the private airport, and I just had to invite them for a drink! Hope you don't mind!"


Martika's entourage of two glanced at one another, then towards the bar. "Oriana?" they asked in almost perfect unison.


"Ingrid? Rosemarie?"


"Wait, you guys all know each other?"


"I thought you met Ingrid, back at Bellvue!" said Oriana. "Then again, y'all two didn't really go to the same parties. But Tika, Ingrid and me were actually roommates back in the day, and Rosemarie–this is gonna sound made up, but Rosemarie here was my roommate at Rivington, y'know, before I was thrown out."


"How serendipitous! Sounds like we'll all make a fantastic set of drinking buddies, then!" said Martika. "Shall we get a table?"


The four women claimed a booth by a window and ordered an appetizer sampler to split while they all caught up. Oriana was happy to listen to Ingrid's tales of her plight as the CIA interrogator Water Woman, even though she'd already caught her interview on Nail Me. Rosemarie's story, on the other hand, was new to her. The heroine formerly known as Whirlwind had briefly enjoyed a cushy career as part of the Heroics Division's Frontline Force, and had been promised a partnership–along with an eventual family setup–with America's number one defender himself, the indomitable Captain Justice. But after a fight with Human Hallucinogen left her defeated and shell-shocked, Whirlwind stopped receiving assignments–and paychecks–and her spot at Captain Justice's side was given instead to the up-and-coming Corporal Punishment, not that that stopped him from fooling around with Kilowatt. More than miffed, she had come to Crucifix seeking a second chance, and, well, here she was.


"But what about you?" Ingrid asked Oriana. "Please tell me you didn't get roped up into all the government's bureaucratic bullshit!"


"And please tell me you found someone better to date than that gross misogynist Steve Pryor!" added Rosemarie.


"Can I tell them?" asked Martika, smirking over a shot and a chicken wing.


Oriana sighed. "If I say no, will you do it anyway?"


"What is it?" asked Ingrid.


Rosemarie nodded vigorously. "Spill!"


"You're in the presence of greatness, girls!" announced Martika. "Before you sits the one, the only–!"


"Bombshell. I'm…I'm Bombshell," Oriana finished for her.


"I should have expected as much!" said Rosemarie with a vigorous nod. "Only you would use your biomanipulative powers to thin out crime by…well…doing the ironic opposite of that."


"Laying low in the Commune, then, until everyone assumes you've passed the mantle?" Ingrid supplied. "The Division used to have me do that whenever a foreign power caught on that I was a war criminal. Or…or are you and Big Tech staying? Tell me, does the, uh, equipment size up to the rest of the infrastructure?" She gave Oriana a wink and a nudge with her elbow.


Oriana gazed out the window. The prospect of staying here was looking more and more attractive. Sure, she had taken up the persona of Bombshell to make her hometown of Blackwater better…but how had it ever thanked her?


By demonizing her methods and insulting her lover until she snapped and became the menace they'd called her all along.


Here, in the Commune, she'd be free of the everyday problems built into the real world by design. There was no crime here, no hatred. When everyone was a freak, nobody was othered.


Of course, a permanent move was something she'd have to discuss with Eddie…if he even still loved her.


In the case that he'd come to his senses and decided to be rid of her, she wouldn't begrudge him. She'd just never stop missing him.


But a quiet, idyllic life among other Deviants would be a less miserable alternative to returning to Blackwater and resuming her career as Bombshell without Big Tech.
 

stevita

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493
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Chapter 16


***


Cecelia Salvidar had lived the life of a selfish, abusive parasite of a woman. In her crippling fear of criticism, she had isolated herself from the world, Eddie remaining the one exception to her strict policy of keeping everyone at arm's length. At times, his self-esteem still suffered for it. Bit by bit in Dr. Castro's office, he was freeing himself from her grip of control. He was learning that 'I love you' was a phrase not meant to be said by someone who felt as though whoever stood on the receiving end of that small expression of care was holding them at gunpoint. Chimera might have been Big Tech's first nemesis, but Cecelia had always been Eddie's.


And now, that was all she'd ever be. Gone was any hope she might have once had of redemption. Sitting in silence on his counselor's couch, Eddie wondered whether therapy would have helped reshape her overbearing personality and pull her out of the prison of her own misery. He thought about all the possible futures he'd destroyed.


He thought about how the news was spreading that Big Tech was now manning the Bombshell hotline, and about the adorable, chubby little girl who'd called him in distress because her kitten was stuck in a tree.


About how even after he'd successfully saved her day, he couldn't look her in the eyes, afraid that even through his visor she'd somehow know her hero was a killer.


Mom was always telling him what a genius he was.


Clearly, she was deluded, if he was idiotic enough to leave his cannons set to 'vaporize' in the workplace.


He wondered whether Oriana would want to be with him once she found out what he'd done–and he had no plans to deceive her about any part of it. If he lied to her, it would seal his fate as another antagonist in her story.


But she had beaten herself up well enough for committing a negligent homicide that had yet to be confirmed by the police, and even if that reporter was dead, Eddie could chock it up to a forgivable combination of not knowing her own strength and being too fiercely loyal to him to let a disparaging remark about him go unanswered. If she couldn't see the nobility behind her own actions, he couldn't see her forgiving him for his.


And, that was their time. "I'm not going to charge you for this session," said Dr. Castro, "because we didn't exchange any words. I hope next week you'll feel more like opening up. I sense you're working through a difficult situation, and I would appreciate the chance to help you. Does Wednesday morning still work for you?"


Shakily, he shrugged his assent.


***


Eddie still had yet to hire a proper secretary in the office, and he had no immediate plans to. What would be the point, in case he failed in his capacity as a businessman as badly as he'd failed as a superhero? Before that day came, though, there was still much work to be done, and he was tasked with the duty of scheduling his own meetings.


With his startup fund running dry faster than he'd anticipated, Salvidar Solutions' next moves could make or break the future of the small but ambitious startup, and even in his self-flagellating funk, he was holding out hope for its success.


Perhaps his driving force was a desire to prove himself to Oriana. After all, he'd been small and ambitious once, but she'd changed one of those things. Maybe if he showed her he was capable of the same dogged deliberation, she'd remember why she'd taken him into her life in the first place. Would making it big in the world of business redeem him from his misstep? Fuck no, but it was somewhere to start.


Or maybe he needed to prove to himself that the media was wrong about him. That he wasn't doomed by his immense size to depend on Bombshell in all matters of life.


Either way, his first order of business was a calculated risk: a meeting with a former employee of Mybrid.


Eddie wasn't sure what to expect from this encounter. The possibility existed that the man would be armed and plotting to assassinate him as vindication for eliminating his former job. But Eddie was feeling reckless and desperate enough to meet with him anyway.


He stood at attention at his desk, tossing some last-minute snack cake wrappers into the bin as the text came in informing him that his guest had arrived, just in time for a knock to sound at the door.


"If that's you, Mr. Smith, you can come right in."


"It's just John, kiddo. 'Mr. Smith' was my fourth cousin on my dad's side, twice removed," joked his new acquaintance as he let himself in.


The man cut a not unimpressive figure as he entered the office, belly preceding the rest of him. Eddie would ballpark him somewhere in the early 500-pound range, which was an immediate comfort to his bizarre case of impostor syndrome: being around other fat people made him feel less questioned, less held hostage, less like a thin person wearing an unconvincing fat guy disguise. "Eddie, I take it? Could you do me a huge favor and tell me where I might find your trash? I stopped on the way for some takeout," he explained, brandishing a tied-off plastic sack bearing the Fitzgerald's logo, stuffed to the brim with empty boxes. "I would have called and asked if I could get you anything, but I got all wrapped up in this conversation with the gorgeous blonde hostess…it was a whole thing."


As if treating an upscale steakhouse like the Taco Shack drive thru was a thing that normal people did.


Well, the man was obviously doing well for himself, if his three-piece suit and Harvard crest cuff links were any evidence.


"It's, uh, it's quite alright," said Eddie. "I grabbed breakfast on the way." Not that that had ever stopped him from eating again in the office, if Oriana had the morning off and felt like hand-delivering her latest baking experiment, but she wasn't here right now, was she?


Speaking of Oriana…


The picture frame on Eddie's desk caught John's attention and he turned it around to contemplate the photograph Eddie had taken of her standing on the ledge of the Waterfall Wall. "Oh, she is a beauty. Your wife?"


Eddie winced. "Unfortunately not. I mean, not yet."


"Well, you'd better lock that down before someone beats you to the–!"


"Anyway, John, you mentioned on the phone that you have a financial plan you wanted to share to generate the revenue it'll take to attract investors?"


"Indeed," said John. "Now, I'm not saying it was a good product, and I'm afraid Mr. Caprisky had a myriad of seedy motivations for building it in the first place. But it was the source of nearly all of our revenue, and its absence has definitely left a void–"


"You want to bring the Mybrid social network back online." It wasn't a question. Up until now, it hadn't even been an option. The app was insidious in nature, and according to John's next words, more insidious than Eddie had ever realized:


"I know what you're thinking. Mybrid ran a sleazy, scummy little platform dedicated to stealing its users' data, analyzing their personality, bombarding them with targeted ads, connecting them with total perverts from all over the world, and integrating with their delivery apps, all with the goal of fattening them up against their will."


"Wait, the app was for WHAT?!"
 

stevita

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"Here's what I'm thinking: a rebrand, under the Salvidar Solutions name." John picked up a notepad and pen off the corner of Eddie's desk, scribbled something down, and handed it to him.


SOLVNT


"Pronounced 'Solvent'. The new and improved app would dissolve the boundaries like physical distance that separate families and loved ones, all with intuitive and user-friendly privacy controls, of course. You could share as little information as you want with as tight a circle as you want. Or, you could let your friends and relations check in on your finances, your mental health, and your UWatch data, in case they need to check in on you with a phone call, or front you a cash loan, or send you an ambulance. Feedism optional."


"Wait, I'm still getting over the fact that Leo Caprisky built a whole app just for–"


"It's crazy, I know. But I think there's a good business opportunity here," said John. "And I'm happy to hand over the original source code in its entirety for you to make the necessary modifications. I'm afraid I can't help you there, my degree is in business."


A part of Eddie wondered if John had fallen victim to Leo's convoluted scheme, but he was too polite to ask. Maybe the guy was just naturally rotund.


Or maybe he was an enthusiastic participant in the feedist lifestyle, with an eager feeder girlfriend awaiting him at home.


Either way, it was none of Eddie's business.


"Anyway," said John, "at Mybrid I was the Chief Financial Officer, and I'm reaching a point in my career where it wouldn't make sense to take a step down."


"Well then, I guess it wouldn't make sense not to hire you into the position," said Eddie, and extended a handshake.


***


The launch of SOLVNT was a grand success, and instantly flooded Salvidar Solutions with more ad revenue than Eddie thought he deserved…but watching the balance of the company account rise marginally alleviated his depression.


(Incidentally, there was another number in his life that was on a slow but steady descent without Oriana around. The last he'd checked, the scale read 650, not that he could read the display over his still-impressive belly, but there was an app for that. He wasn't thrilled, but perhaps Dr. Castro could help him work through his feelings of physical inadequacy in the wake of a few pounds lost in their next session. It certainly struck him as an attractive alternative to ratting himself out for manslaughter.)


His next meeting was with Luz Leonelli, acting CEO of LionShare Holdings. He wasn't really sure what they did, but Luz had promised him via email a hefty investment if his technology impressed her when she swung by Blackwater City on unrelated business.


The young businesswoman arrived at the office of Salvidar Solutions fifteen minutes late for her scheduled appointment, which wasn't terrible, considering she was fresh off a plane from Texas with two connecting flights and Blackwater airport traffic was a nightmare to navigate, but Eddie picked up on other red flags as soon as she approached his desk.


Though she couldn't have been older than twenty, her short, mussed black hair and the grimace he detected even through her dark sunglasses hinted at an irresponsible amount of partying the previous night. Her strappy black dress and matching heels were more appropriate to a club setting than a business meeting, although the heels did give the diminutive woman enough elevation to look him in the eye as they shook hands and exchanged introductions with only a slight craning of her neck. He was pleasantly surprised by the aggressive force in her handshake–though small and slender, she was far stronger than she looked. But it brought him no reassurance that her first question for him was a miserable, "Where's your bathroom?"


"Down the hall, to the left."


"Thanks, handsome." She winked and made an attempt at a flirtatious smirk, but it didn't land quite like he assumed she wanted it to when her next move was to make a stumbling beeline down the hall like there was life on the line.


She returned in a little over ten minutes, looking much more relaxed. "Thanks," she said through ragged, heaving breaths. "You know those little airplane bottles of liquor?"


"Yeah?" Not that he had firsthand experience. The one time he'd flown, it had been to California with his mother for a chess tournament. He'd been thirteen. Someone in the next row had ordered a gin and tonic, and a stewardess dropped it off in a little plastic cup.


"You shouldn't drink fifteen of them," said Luz.


He really hoped there wasn't too much vomit to clean up in the bathroom.


"How did they even let you order that many?" He didn't mean for it to come out sounding so judgmental, but there had to be some sort of legal regulation against that.


"For the right price, they'll indoctrinate you into the Mile High Club, personally. Anyway, you wanna give me the grand tour?"


"That was the plan, but I'd be happy to show you the slideshow of some of the things we have in the works, if your shoes don't agree with the walk," offered Eddie, trying to be helpful.


"What, these things? I'll be fine. They're Taylor-Moore, I swear by her designs."


Come to think of it, Oriana had mentioned offhand a couple times that one of her aunts had made a name for herself in the world of high fashion designing some of the most uncomfortable shoes money could buy.


But if Luz insisted on touring the facility on foot, who was he to object?


He showed her around the place, introducing her to his each invention: first, the mobility suits, then some prototypes he had put together for fully cybernetic limbs, and finally, something new he had come up with in recent weeks: a communication system you could easily plug in and out of your brain through a small implanted USB adapter meant to be installed near the top of the spinal cord. The idea was that you and whoever was on the other end of the line would share the sensory experience of interacting face to face, even if they were stuck in Utah, or wherever. He'd have finished the project, except he was dreading the conversation with the person whose leave of absence had inspired it in the first place.


Nothing seemed to impress Luz, who regarded each gadget and innovation with a bored expression, until finally, her true motivation came to light: "So, where do you keep the big guns?"


"I–I beg your pardon?"


"A contact in the world of business told me Salvidar Solutions is where the majority of Mybrid's assets wound up. Minus the spider farm, that is."


"The what?!"


Eddie wished he could simply stop finding out new information about Mybrid; every fresh tidbit was worse than the last.


"From what I understand," Luz continued, "Mybrid had been testing a one-size-fits-all garment of bulletproof, flexible armor equipped with built-in photon cannons, intended for military use."


"Ah, so you know about Fl.A.B."


"Leo and I spent hours talking about it over Zoom-brunch once. Unfortunately, my father was still in charge of the company at the time, and he didn't want to take a chance on funding such an expensive venture. But you wouldn't believe how I've been dying to get my hands on some Fl.A.B.!"


Eddie blushed deeply. "When you say it like that, you risk being horribly misconstrued, just so you know!"


"I mean, if you don't have dinner plans after this…" She pulled a vape out of her brand-name clutch bag and took a huge pull, filling the workshop with an obnoxious cloud of fruity-scented smoke. "In all seriousness, though, if you let me fund the mass-production of this project, I'll make you the richest man in the world!"


"I'm not interested in selling weapons to the military."


"Who says my interests aren't commercial?" said Luz. "You know, down in Texas, you don't need any paperwork to open carry. And I don't just mean a pistol; the leniency also applies to swords. I'm sure between your technological brilliance and my family's stellar rapport, we could make a killing in the photon cannon market!"


"I'm going to have to respond with a hard pass," said Eddie. "I'm definitely not comfortable with the idea of a photon cannon in every American home." He'd already done enough damage with his own weapons, and he was someone who tried his best to do the right thing. If his wares were available to the public…


The country would tear itself apart.


"Can't say I'm not a little heartbroken," she said. "But you have my number, in case you reconsider. And I'd still love to grab dinner…maybe even a room at the Hotel Flamenco? I'll buy."


"I'm afraid I'm drowning in meetings all day," he lied.
 

stevita

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A few more days of Eddie's continued radio silence had convinced Oriana that he had thought better of being with her.


It was a reasonable decision. Big Tech was iconic now, and Bombshell was a known killer. She wouldn't hold it against him if he refused to take back the "second" Bombshell.


If she even decided to return to Blackwater.


Life at Martika's vacation home was as comfortable as it could be for a self-loathing, possibly-former, vigilante crimefighter.


At current, Oriana was lying on her stomach on the couch, regarding a smutty video on her phone. The actor in the porno stumbled into a kitchen, hitching up his shirt with one hand to reveal an obviously over-full belly on an otherwise average frame. The table next to him was littered with the debris of his feast: styrofoam takeout boxes still half-full of lo mein, packages of donuts, cookies, and chips, and a tub of ice cream in which he'd managed to eat an impressive dent. Yeah, this was going to be predictable. But Oriana was okay with predictable right now.


"I'm sooo full," huffed the actor between groans and theatrically forced belches. "But I want to get so much fatter. I need it so bad. And I still have all this food to eat! If only somebody would come feed me…"


A curvy little blonde woman walked into the frame. She grabbed him by the shoulders from behind and forced him into the nearest kitchen chair. Cheerfully, he looked up at her. "Oh, hey, step-sis!"


OH, COME ON!


There was a lot she was willing to endure in her porn, but there was a line somewhere!


Just then, the doorbell rang.


"Ori, would you get that for the pizza delivery?" called Martika from another room.


As if Oriana needed a reason to turn away from the pseudo-incestuous stuffing smut. She rose to answer the door…only, when she opened it, waiting on the doorstep were two rotund men in colorful floral shirts, each with a lei strung around his neck, and neither of them were holding any pizza. "Aloha! You must be Ms. Mitchell?"


"She's…she's inside," said Oriana confusedly, before turning around to shout, "Martika! What did you order?"


"Two large Hawaiians, just like we agreed!"


"Did you get the number for the pizza place mixed up with the male escort service again?"


"Did I? I swear, this keeps happening to me!" Martika entered the room then, impeccably dressed, as always, even in just her satin nightie and matching robe. "I thought that was a hefty bill for a couple pizzas…" She stepped onto the porch and wedged herself between them, taking each man by one arm. "You boys look just as delicious, though!"


"Will your friend be joining us?"


"I wish! But she already has a large Hawaiian at home. Except he's Samoan or Puerto Rican or something like that. I've never actually asked."


"Oh these are totally costumes. We're both from Oregon," said one of the men.


"You don't say?" Martika led the way inside and to her bedroom, leaving Oriana to her solitude.


Collapsing back onto the couch to wait out the orgy and possibly finish herself, she hit the 'next' button on her phone screen, which promptly redirected her to a clip entitled, 'Fat Horny Stepdad Teaches You How to Be a FEEDER'.


Defeated, Oriana turned her phone screen off, wandered into the kitchen, and helped herself to every Peach-Mango flavored wine cooler in Martika's fridge.


***


After Martika had bid her guests adieu, she came and found Oriana slumped on the sofa, surrounded by empty bottles. "Hmm…why are you looking so blue? The last I checked, that was Big Tech's color scheme."


"He won't take my calls," Oriana choked. "But I guess he's right to abandon me."


"Oh, honey!" Martika sat down on the couch next to her and wrapped one warm, chubby arm around her shoulders. "I'm sure he's just busy."


"Easy for you t'say," slurred Oriana. "Your love is unconditional. You always come back for me, no matter how stupid or reckless I been. I don't really know if I can get behind you still stickin' 'round with me now that I murdered a nonviolent civilian, but I…I…"


She fell forward, gripping Martika's doughy hips to steady herself, and planted a deep, needy kiss directly to the buxom beauty's lips.
 

stevita

like the pancake
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Joined
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Chapter 17

***

"Ori?"


Oriana clung around Martika in desperation, noticing all too late that her former schoolmate was straining and huffing in an effort to pry her off. "Ori! Stop it!"


With a jolt, Oriana released her grip and retreated to the opposite end of the couch. "Sorry. I thought you wanted–"


"I do! I do," said Martika, "but I didn't bring you here to seduce you, and I'd never forgive myself for coming between you and Eddie."


"Something may've already come between us," mumbled Oriana.


"I know in my heart that isn't true," said Martika. "In fact…I wanted to ask if you'd make him a proposition."


"For?"


Martika took Oriana's hand and pulled her out of her seat, leading her to the window, where she threw open the curtain. "What do you see?"


Outside, the street was quiet. A gentle breeze rustled the blades of grass, and stars glimmered through a clear sky as far as the eye could see, despite a bustling cityscape towering in the distant horizon. "It's nice here. Peaceful."


"You can't imagine how instrumental you've been in erecting this little utopia."


Oriana blinked. "M-me?"


"Of course! I never could have made this happen with Ted Greene still around to stop me. I'm sorry I had to send him your way…but I was always watching in the wings to make sure you won the battle, and I even intervened when I started to worry about you. With that self-righteous nut-job out of the way, me and my people were able to wipe the area of all Genetic Typical life and build, well, everything you see!" Crucifix grinned from ear to ear. Bombshell's breathing grew shallow.


"You killed all the mundanes."


"I know, I know, terribly excessive, but they really are the problem," said Crucifix, pulling a lighter and a cigarette out of the pocket of her robe. "They've kept us in subjugation since the beginning of our history. But I suppose I don't have to kill all of them, if they cooperate. You know, the only reason why Deviants so often pair off with one another is because Genetic Typicals refuse to touch us. Nobody wants a little freak baby. But you and Eddie…you have something special. Between his superior intellect and your insurmountable wealth of pure power, you'd make the perfect children together. Of course, he'll have to carry them to term, what with your tubes being shot. But you're an o-bio, I'm sure you could make it happen! And I bet he wouldn't mind putting on the baby weight. You've done well in your selection of a submissive and breedable boy." She smirked, lighting up and taking a drag, oblivious to Oriana's internal horror. "Think of it: you and me, supreme overlords, breeding our way to a Deviants-only America within a few generations. Run it by Eddie, let me know what he says!"


It was a struggle for Oriana not to betray her shock, but somehow, she managed to force her voice steady. "Starting a family is a really big deal. It's something I'd want to talk to him about in person. If he even still wants–"


"Ori, stop it! Of course he still wants you! In fact, if we start the drive tonight, we'll be back in Blackwater just in time for you to have earned your Division pardon, so I'm taking you home so you can stop all this 'he-loves-me-not' malarkey once and for all!"


***


When Eddie came home from work, it was, surprisingly, to Oriana's noisy bustling about the kitchen. She had arrived on schedule, but she hadn't texted ahead. A cocktail of emotions washed over him: joy, affection, relief…dread. Mostly that last one. What would she say when he broke the news?


"You're back!" He dropped his briefcase by the kitchen entrance and came up to hug her from behind, pulling her curvy little body against his soft bulk. The rush of her ache for him hit him like he imagined a hit of the world's most potent drug, shot straight into the brainstem.


"Eddie! I'm tryna cook!" she protested, but nevertheless let herself sink backward against his blubbery belly, meat thermometer still in hand. "I have so many mistakes to make up for. I'm glad you're still here, so I can start on that whole making amends thing."


"Oh, Ori. You have no idea."


"And I don't really know how to go about the whole thing, what with the murder under my belt, and there's just so much more, but if you could please just–"


"I meant to call! It's just…I shot my mother to death with a photon beam and I–"


"Good, fuck the bitch," she said, flipping a thick, juicy burger patty that looked deliciously rich with seasonings. "I'd say we're on even ground, but I totally went and kissed Crucifix on the mouth."


"I don't blame you, she's gorgeous."


"Still, I feel like if you want to stay with me now that you know that, you're entitled to a steamy night alone with whoever you want."


"I doubt I'd bank in on the offer. I love you too much. No conditions." He took the cooking utensils out of her hands, set them on the counter, and gripped her by the waist, unable to keep from interfering with her cooking any longer. He hoisted her up with an arm hooked under each of her thighs, pressed her to the nearest wall, and, holding her there with the weight of his gargantuan gut, kissed her with a force that left her beautifully breathless even as he pulled away.


"Ooooooh, Eddie…" Her neck arched backwards as she lazily raked her nails through his hair. Her breathing was labored, her eyes glazed. "I needed this. I needed this so much. But there's something else we need to talk about."


"What's that, my fattening little cupcake?"


"Turns out Martika's a genocidal maniac."


***


An emergency meeting of the Bowery Boys at Mickey and Marion's was in order.


"Ori, this is some lovely jambalaya! You have to give me the recipe," Marion piped up from the corner of the kitchen table. She was the only one in the room who had so much as touched the spread before them; Mickey, Eddie, and Oriana were too wrapped up in their fury, shock, and shame, respectively.


From across the table, Mickey fixed Oriana with a stern stare. "Let me get this straight: your ex-girlfriend--"


"I don't know that she was ever my girlfriend--"


"--has been hell-bent on genocide this whole time, raising an army–"


"I'm actually not sure when she decided–"


"--and the only reason she wants to keep Eddie alive is so he can serve as an incubator to your superpowered spawn–"


"Yeah, I never signed off on that, for the record–"


"Additionally, you've known for a while now that she has the most evil superpower ever–"


"In the Deviant world, we like to refrain from assigning moral alignment to any particular Deviance."


Mickey pounded the table with both pudgy fists. "Stop defending her! Or, I don't know, keep going…after all, she's only as bad as you are!"


Both Marion and Eddie stood up in protest. "That's not exactly fair," said Eddie.


"She didn't know!" insisted Marion.


"You know what? Forget about Crucifix for a minute," said Mickey, rising to round on Eddie. "From the minute I found out it was your intention all along to throw yourself in the path of the so-called superhero who gets all her day-saving done by using my lifestyle as a weapon, I wanted to be done with you. But I stuck around. I even tried to act like I was friends with the power-mongering bitch. And you know why?"


She directed her rage now at Marion. "Because YOU had to go and get all swept up in the whimsical world crime and punishment, all centered around these–these abominations of nature!"


"Mickey, listen to yourself!" came Eddie's attempt to reason with her. Oriana, meanwhile, stood down, resigned to the tongue-lashing.


Frankly, she was surprised this little fallout hadn't happened sooner. She had never intended to come between Eddie and his friends, but she'd always felt this icy vibe from Mickey, and as for Mickey and Marion as a pair…well, they bickered. A lot. More than a normal couple should, or perhaps Oriana's own parents were so atypical in their unity that it had skewed her perception of what a normal relationship looked like.


Anyway, this social group had been a time bomb from the start.


"I don't think I will," Mickey continued her tirade, still glaring straight at Marion. "You know, I've put up with a lot because I've felt sorry for you. I've given you my body…years of my life…but something clicked for me just now. I don't need you!" Marion gave a little gasp, her posture shrinking miserably, but Mickey did not relent. "And I guess you don't need me either, now that you can walk, thanks to Big Tech and his wacky inventions!" As she stormed out of the room, Marion trembled in her seat, looking on the verge of shattering into a million tiny pieces.


"That was so fucked up. I'm sorry, Mari," offered Oriana.


"Maybe she'll come around?" Eddie suggested. "She always does in the end."


In the next room, the clamor of Mickey gathering her things barely masked her incensed raving about everything from Oriana's 'medieval methods' to her 'disgusting, overseasoned food'.


Marion shook her head. "I don't think she will this time."


"Irregardless," said Oriana, "I just came here to brainstorm. I never meant to force y'all to help me fight Crucifix. Any of you." She gave Eddie a pointed stare.


"No way, Ori. We're in this together," he declared. "I might not have any superpowers, but there's no way I'll leave you undefended."


"Yeah! All for one!" agreed Marion through her sniffles.


"I'm sorry, Mari. You'll have to sit this one out. Fight choreography from the movies won't help you in the Commune." Eddie took Oriana's hand, gently pulled her from her seat, and led the way out before Marion could raise any protests.


"We're gonna need a game plan," murmured Oriana as they reached the front porch. The tightening sensation of fear closing around her heart like an icy fist wasn't foreign to her, but this time, she felt its grip more intensely than ever before. "We've both done battle, but I ain't ever been to war."
 

stevita

like the pancake
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My apologies for my absence from this story.

I've had this project for so long it's seemed to develop a life of its own, with a lot of moving parts that can at times get overwhelming.

That said, the story will contiue until either 1. It's finished or 2. I drink myself to death. That said, let's get experimental with the next installment...

PART 3: THERE ARE NO FATPHOBES IN FOXHOLES
 
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stevita

like the pancake
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Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
493
Location
Texas
"Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."


-Sun Tzu

***

It was one of the worst days of the conflict so far.


Eddie steeled himself for the hours ahead, dreaming of the days when things would be back to normal, if there was any normalcy left in the world that emerged in the aftermath of the war in the Commune.


At the very least, he hoped there'd be a return to the days when he could wake up in his own warm bed, roll over on his back, belly bared, and as easily as that, receive showers of Oriana's affection, her kisses and squeezes and tender caresses, all topped off with a bulging mouthful of whatever she'd whipped up latest in the kitchen.


At present, the squad's latest camp, a spacious but without-power suite in what had once been a luxury hotel, was depleted of the scant amount of rations its previous occupant had left behind, and on the ground level, swaths of Crucifix's henchmen were making quick work of the hastily-assembled barricades the ragtag team of heroes had been able to assemble.

Eddie had half-collapsed into an armchair from exhaustion, his vision swimming, his other senses fading in and out. Oriana knelt by his side, gripping his hand. "I know, baby," she whispered. "You must be starving. Here, lemme–"


"N-no!" he implored her. "You're running on too little fumes. Photosynthesis can sustain you, but if you tried to biomanipulate it would take too much out of you."


"But–"


"I've gone hungry before, I'll be fine. You're not the only one who grew up on the west side."


He forced himself to hold out hope that one day, hunger and warfare and misery would be gone from their lives. But what happened next…


He never witnessed the finer details, but he knew it would haunt him to his grave.


The way Scarlet Flame would later relay the incident, she came up with a plan, although she didn't like it.


The way Spark would recount it, Flame had a maniacal glint in her eye as she enlisted him.


Fading in and out of consciousness, Eddie caught glimpses of the both of them leaving the room and returning with a large bucket full of tap water. They took turns hauling it over to the open window, with Evergreen and Cannonball having to chip in once in a while–delirious and weak as everyone was from malnutrition and weeks of nonstop combat, the simple task became painstaking work. Finally, they made it across the room.


"Garde a l'eau, fuckers!" shouted Flame before the telltale splash came that told Eddie that Crucifix's men had been drenched.


"Spark was so brave," Flame would one day tell her biographer. "And his control over his powers was slipping, hungry as he was. But, for all of us, he still chanced letting off an electrical attack. He managed to draw his fingertips away from the lightning bolts just before they connected with our soaked enemies. And then, just like a blow-dryer dropped into a bathtub…well, you know. Zap-zap."


There were no screams. Just a violent crackling sound from below, followed by the upward-wafting, putrid fumes heralding the presence of scorched flesh.


"Ha! Why don't we call that maneuver 'The Electric Chair'?" said Flame, in triumph.


"Why don't we never do that again?" suggested Spark, in horror.


But let's back up a bit.
 
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