BOTH Deviance: the Bombshell origin story

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stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
412
Location
Texas
A/n: Welcome back, party people, to another Spark story! This time detailing the origin of Bombshell, everybody's favorite walking controversy. There's plenty of rapid XWG ahead in this relatively short read, and it'll go to some dark places, but rest assured, all triggers will be tagged. Now without further ado, please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times...

Deviance
by stevita

***
PART 1: BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

***

At only thirty-five, Bob Roberts would say he'd seen enough excitement for a lifetime.


That he had secured a teaching position at the Rivington Hero Academy had less to do with birth and more to do with experience. He had no powers himself, unless a genius intellect and a knack for programming counted. To date, he had programmed everything from surveillance software to weapons for several major superheroes. And supervillains. And the United States government. And the Russians.


He didn't consider himself evil. It was just...he had come from nothing, living in a run-down apartment with his single mother and four older sisters, shivering through the winters when the city shut off their heat. On nights when the fridge was empty, the only thing on the menu for dinner was sleep.


When he finally entered the workforce, he could never say no to a check.


Now, though? He was set. After securing the teaching post with a resume that left off his shadier activities, he was finally able to live a comfortable, quiet life, teaching programming to the up and coming generation of Genetic Deviants--future heroes--while making enough to send some money back to dear old Mom.


Yep, this was the life.


On break, he collapsed into the seat of a teachers' lounge chair and unwrapped the Philly cheese steak sandwich he'd ordered in. He took a big bite--so good! If any of his colleagues gave him dirty looks, he ignored them. Prematurely graying, bearded, and about 50 pounds overweight, he was a far cry from the typical students and faculty here, who all seemed to share an obsession with staying physically fit and fight-ready. But he didn't mind his size. Better to stay fed than starve, after all.


He was about halfway through his meal when Dr. Cornelia Hastings, the professor of the mandatory Combat Theory class, walked in with her grilled chicken Caesar from the dining hall. To her dismay, the only open seat was the one across from his. She sighed, gripped the back of the empty chair, and asked, "May I?"


"Be my guest," said Bob. "How are classes?"


He was asking to be polite, but she was quick to begin ranting: "Horrible, Bob. I have this freshman, third hour...she really is the most entitled little bitch! Thinks she's above the coursework. Never pays attention. That is, when she even decides to show up. How about you?"


He could tell that she, too, could care less about how his life was going. But he felt like sharing a bit of positivity anyway. "Funny you should say that. I have a freshman who's become a rising star in my class. Stellar grades, engaged in the material...she always comes to office hours, even if she doesn't need to. She's a natural on the computer. She's asked if she can TA for me next semester, and I know she is only a freshman, but I'm considering it."


"How lucky for you," said Cornelia, forking through her salad with disinterest, not eating. "Who is she?"


"Oriana Taylor-Moore."


"Why, that's the same girl who's been giving me so much trouble! I'm telling you, Bob. Don't trust her. I think she's a Russian plant."


He began to sweat. He hoped she didn't have the 411 on his sordid past.


As far as Oriana went, though? Cornelia had to be wrong. She was a good girl. Okay, maybe it was unsettling how she took notes a bit too attentively, smiled a bit too wide, leaned in when he was speaking. But she couldn't possibly be as troublesome as Cornelia thought.


Maybe Cornelia just wasn't that good a teacher.


***


Steve Pryor was doing an excellent job of looking like he was paying attention to the lecture in Combat Strategy. Really, he was stealing glances at his next-seat neighbor whenever the professor's back was turned to write notes on the blackboard.


It was this pretty African American girl named Oriana who was notorious for slacking off and spewing acid about how this whole school was a nefarious brainwashing-mill designed to pipeline its students straight into the military. He didn't think she was wrong. What's more, he had no ambitions in either the military nor law enforcement himself--why bother?


He was a shapeshifter. With his level of mastery at his powers, he could easily steal anyone's identity, make off with millions, and tour the globe, tucking v-cards into his pocket one by one as he became the sexual fantasy of any woman he encountered. While he was still in school, though, he figured he might as well make the most of his time, starting with the spicy little rebel to his left.


Well, not starting. He'd been breaking hearts here for three years going on four now. The doe-eyed freshman wouldn't be his first, and she certainly wouldn't be his last.


And she'd be an easy conquest. She didn't have many friends.


When class let out, she couldn't leave faster, but he caught up with her in the hallway quickly enough. "Hey! You're, uh, Oriana, right?" He didn't want to look like he'd been paying too much attention to her.


"That's me. Steve, right?"


"Yep! Hey listen, what's your next class?"


"Stunt driving, but that's not 'til five."


"Driving. Shit. I was gonna ask you if you wanted to come back to my dorm for a beer."


She stared up into his eyes with a surprisingly penetrating gaze. "Does beer mean beer, or sex?"


"Damn. Straight to the point, I see."


"Listen, Steve, you seem cool, but you're not my type."


"Oh, that's the thing, I'm a biomanipulator," he countered. "I can be whoever you want me to be."


"No way? Same power!"


Well, that would certainly explain the amazing set of curves.


Her eyes lit up for just a moment...but then she shook her head and kept walking. "You wouldn't like who I want you to be."


"How can you be so sure?"


"I've been told I'm a woman of unusual tastes."


"Come on, try me. How unusual are we talking?"


She turned back to face him, and something like hope touched her smile. "After I get done with stunt driving, let's talk about it. Save me that beer!"
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
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Messages
412
Location
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If you asked Jeff Miller, he would tell you he was quite satisfied with his lot in life, thank you very much.


Sure, of all the positions to hold at Deviant school, stunt driving instructor wasn't the most glamorous one. But he could use his position to impart upon his students valuable lessons. Lesson number one was his favorite: someday you are going to fail. You will be upset, and it may traumatize you. You might even cry in my car.


Today, in the driver's seat, he had Oriana Taylor-Moore. From what he had overheard about her, she was one of those kids who liked to think of herself as outspoken and against-the-grain, and ended up ostracized for it. She was rumored to have a teacher crush on Dr. Roberts, that fat sucker, of all people. She was failing Combat Strategy and was a hot topic around campus as a rumored communist.


Oh, she'd be a fun one to break.


"So, what you're gonna do," he said as she keyed the ignition, "is take us into Blackwater City. Do you know the way, or do we need to pull up GPS?"


"No way? Bet, that's my home turf! I got this!" She made a wide right turn out of the school parking lot and into Echo Lane.


Just his luck, he had to pick her hometown.


But then...she would already know how bad freeway traffic could get. She'd enter disillusioned.


She started speeding immediately.


Jeff was actually getting intimidated.


The sticker on the back of his car proclaiming 'Rivington Student Driver' gave the vehicle immunity from being pulled over, but this was the first time he felt like he needed it.


Oriana hopped onto Memorial Drive, swerving between cars with reckless abandon until she hit Strauss Avenue, and gunned it until she hit the city limit sign. "What now, Coach?"


The ball was back in his court. Now to deal the impossible task. "Alright, Oriana. You have fifteen minutes to make it to City Hall to save the mayor's life. Can you do it?"


"Can I?"


While traffic stalled on the overpass, she took a sharp left on the feeder. "Always a smoother ride on the feeder," she muttered to herself, smirking at some joke that only she seemed to get. She drifted for a little longer before turning onto Westpark.


"What are you doing?"


"Westpark to Fondren, Fondren to Shepherd...ain't you ever been here before?"


She swerved hard on Shepherd, going so far as to use the left turn lane as if it was a regular lane, much to other drivers' anger, until finally, she reached the roundabout, got off at Washington, and parked cleanly in front of City Hall.


Jeff had given her fifteen minutes.


She had made it in twelve.


He felt like he was going to have a heart attack.


"Who taught you to drive like that?"


"My cousin D'von," she answered brightly.


"Your cousin drives like this?"


"Yeah. Mostly to pick up women. He says having command of the road is a good sign you have command of the bedroom."


Still white-knuckled against the armrests, Jeff let slip, "My dick is so scared of you right now."


***


That freshman didn't sell herself short.


Steve couldn't say he liked the form Oriana requested him to take. Thank God he lived in a single dorm; he'd die if anyone knew what he was doing.


But even after he changed back meticulously in front of the mirror, she invited herself to stay, and girls didn't usually want to after the fun was over, so he figured, what the hell. They had a few more beers while she introduced him to her favorite childhood cartoon: The Splice Sisters. It started as a lighthearted adventure story about three superpowered adoptive sisters--one black, one Asian, and one Latina--who spent their days saving their city from every incoming threat. And even after it got dark, with the reveal that the doctor who served as their guardian had experimented on them as infants, giving them their superhuman abilities in the first place, it was a compelling watch. You know, for a children's show. In any case, he was enjoying Oriana's commentary on it, as well as the push of her breasts against his back as she spooned him from behind in bed.


"...I mean, I know it has its problematic aspects. Like it kind of ignores those of us who are born into our powers. Obviously it was written by normies. But it says so much about reclaiming your bodily autonomy. Like, they chose to take up crimefighting. The doctor had nothing to do with it, he just some maniac who was trying to test the human body." The credits rolled. "Anyway, wanna see another episode?"


"Sure." He hit play. "Hey, Oriana?" In spite of his original game plan of the usual pump-and-dump, he couldn't help but enjoy her company. "I'm really happy."


"So am I," she said. "In fact, that's probably why you are."


"What? I thought you were a biomanipulator?"


"I am. Dopamine and serotonin are part of the body, too. If mine go up, yours might, too."


"You mean you can affect other people?"


"Yeah, in fact, I'm better at it than messing with my own body."


"Then why do you need a shapeshifter? Why not just find any guy and turn him into your fantasy?"


"Yeah, I did that, on accident, in high school. Three times. They weren't thrilled. And I don't know how to change them back."


Steve shuddered. "Yeah, it's not the most pleasant change if you're not into it."


"Does it make you feel dysphoric?"


Steve didn't know what that word meant, but it sounded about right. "Don't worry about it. It was only for a few minutes, anyway. You came quick."


Onscreen, one of the little cartoon girls punched a giant monster. A spray of animated blood gushed from its snout.


***


Rosemarie Carter, telekinetic prodigy, was lounging around in bed reading a book when her roommate, Oriana, came back from class and strode into the bathroom to change. Ori came out wearing a figure-hugging navy blue dress with sequins and had her braids in a stylish updo.


Ooof. Rosemarie had some bad news.


"What you still doing here?" asked Oriana. "I thought Jason was throwing that rager."


"Yeah, about that," said Rosemarie. "He uninvited you. Thinks you're a Russian spy or something. So I was gonna stay here, with you!" She liked Oriana. Was the girl a bit of a contrarian? Sure, but she was nowhere near as bad as people seemed to think. Rosemarie was happy to offer her solidarity out of pity.


"Nah, girl, go. Have your fun. I wasn't gonna go anyway. Everyone here's so full of shit. It's all the same pro-police-state, pro-capitalist propaganda."


"Then why'd you get all dressed up?"


"I just wanted to be pretty for Steve."


Rosemarie recoiled. "Be careful with that guy. I hear he's bad news."


"Shit, I heard it too. But I feel like...we're just two lost souls, you know?"


"Him? A lost soul? Please," said Rosemarie. "I'd be more approving if you shot your shot with Dr. Roberts."


Oriana gave her a surprised look.


"What? Everyone knows you like him. Bit of a thing for older guys, huh?"


Oriana shrugged. "Something like that," she said on her way out.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
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Messages
412
Location
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For once, Oriana didn't want to fuck. Steve thought to himself that he should be happy. At least now he wouldn't have to debase himself.


She came over all dressed up, ready to hit the town, possibly find a bar where they wouldn't card her...but she quickly broke down. Something about how the resident jerk jock at school was spreading rumors about her. So he cuddled her in bed, let her cry her heart out...he almost considered doing that thing she liked him to do, just so she could have a little comfort while she put herself back together. Shit. He didn't want to start liking that particular transformation. It was disgusting. But if she kept on with her feel-good hormones affecting him--not to mention the best pussy he had ever experienced--could he be conditioned?


"I can't stand it, Steve!" she sobbed against his shoulder. "Everyone sucks but you!"


And he held her, and rocked her, and hated himself.


He could have slept his way halfway through his own graduating class by now.


But instead, he was cuddling like a simp with a freshman outcast because she had the power to make him feel good when she felt good. There had to be a way out of this.


***


Dr. Reynolds had been working on site at Rivington for a long time. He had a natural knack for medicine on account of his ability to feel, and therefore quickly identify the cause of, his patients' pain.


Unless those patients came to him unconscious, which is how Steve Pryor brought Oriana Taylor-Moore into the infirmary, draped fireman style over his shoulder. "Doc, you have to help her!"


The doctor sighed. "Put her on the bed and tell me what happened."


"I don't think she's breathing!"


"Again. What happened?"


"Well, we were...doing it, right?"


He was sorry he'd asked.


"And there's this thing she likes me to do. Oh. Shapeshifter, by the way. Anyway, the thing she likes, it, uh...requires me to make a certain...extension, downstairs, so I can reach all the way in. But I went too deep this time--"


"Good lord," said the doctor. "Did she bleed? Did she go into shock?"


"No, no...she was fine. She said she could probably, you know, deepen the cavern. She's a biomanipulator too, but I'm a lot better at it. So I thought, to help ease the pain, I'd just lube up with some of that topical anesthetic you hooked me up with after I got burned sparring with Jimmy--"


"You painted her insides with a superhuman-grade solution of benzocaine," said the doctor, "and now she's experiencing hypoxia."


That idiot boy.


They'd need to get her on a ventilator and an IV, stat.


"And I think I need some medical attention, too. I can't feel my...you know."


"Just...go wait in the other room. I'll see you once Ms. Taylor-Moore is stable. And if it turns out you've killed her...I hope you know how disastrous it'll be for the school's PR."


***


Dr. Hastings was in the middle of her lecture when she noticed a commotion in the third row. Steve Pryor was throwing paper balls at Oriana Taylor-Moore, hissing, "What, so you're not even gonna talk to me now?" Oriana, for her part, ignored him. She was doodling in her notebook.


Steve usually did well in class. The professor decided she would let him slide this once.


Oriana, on the other hand--that constant thorn in her side…


"Oriana, would you mind sharing with the class why you think whatever you're drawing is more important than learning about combat in formation?"


To everyone's shock, Oriana stood up. "As a matter of fact, I would, Doctor."


She marched to the blackboard at the front of the classroom, where Dr. Hastings had diagrammed a simple five-man fight strategy. "See here," said Oriana, picking up a piece of chalk. "In this scenario, the person in position B--" she circled one of the labeled stick figures, "is clearly set up to be expensed for the sake of the mission. We're not learning how to fight as a team in this classroom. We're learning how to betray each other, or accept becoming the sacrificial lamb. And just historically, who's it been that's always determined who gets thrown to the wolves?"


Most of the other students laughed her off, but a few of the women nodded and chattered amongst themselves...and Dr. Hastings couldn't have even the slightest amount of dissent in her classroom. She had to regain control.


Forcing an air of composure, she smiled and said, "Perhaps Oriana is right. What good is it learning combat in formation if you don't know how to properly defend yourself? Maybe a bit of sparring is in order. Oriana, remain at the front of the classroom. What is your ability, again?"


"Biomanipulation."


"A shapeshifter, right." Dr. Hastings scanned the classroom, looking for an opponent who could knock the girl down a peg. Her eyes finally settled on Jared Flemming, one of her best and brightest, who was capable of powerful psychic attacks the likes of which Oriana's power would do little to resist. On top of that, he put himself through extensive physical training, hoping to become a Marine. He was perfect. "Mr. Fleming, please come forward."


***


Jared stood up and walked to the front of the class with a deliberate swagger in his step. How could he pass up an opportunity to show what he could do?


"Remind me again of your ability?" asked the professor.


"I'm the human hallucinogen," he said with a smirk.


"Is that how you're going to register it?" asked Oriana irreverently.


"Huh. Someone thinks she's clever."


"Students," said the professor, "let's see how these two hold up in a fight. On my mark. Three...two…" She brought one hand down in a gesture meant to signify, 'begin'.


Jared struck first. Oriana's mind was easy to penetrate. Within seconds, he was combing through her memories. Not too terribly much to work with in the tragic past department. She'd had a happy childhood. He'd have to invent a horror to subject her to, then. Perhaps he'd have her gang-banged by people she knew...no, too basic. She had cousins--they were close. More like brothers, really. What if he had them shot before her eyes?


He could do something with that peculiar fetish of hers, too. He could give her visions of her little boy toy in the third row, caged and starved. That would wreck her. She still cared for Steve, even if she wouldn't admit it to herself.


Or...oh, there was an idea.


She had rewatched all three seasons of The Splice Sisters every year since she was six. What a fun show...of course, she'd probably find it less fun if she was the one on the experimental table instead of a few adorable cartoon babies.


He could make her feel every needle, every incision, every invasion of her insides with clinical, gloved hands, no anesthesia. And when he could hurt her that much without even touching her, he had this fight in the bag.


The implantation of the vision came as an assault, and instantly, she was a mess of nerves, hyperventilating, backing up until she had her hands braced against the edge of Hastings' desk. "No...nonononono, please!"


She let out a shriek.


Then…


His concentration broke as an irresistible gravity knocked him into his back. Suddenly, he couldn't right himself. Jesus H. Christ, he could barely breathe. He tried to push himself off the ground, but it was no use. His arms wouldn't budge.


People were screaming, laughing, snapping pictures on their phones. "Oh, this is so going on Twitter," he heard one girl say.


Then came the head rush. Jared's senses were overwhelmed with an insurmountable euphoria which left him spent and dazed. Just as soon as the pleasure had come, it subsided.


"Ms. Taylor-Moore...why, this is unprecedented!" exclaimed the professor, for once delighted with her least-favorite pupil. "This is amazing! Tell me, can you reverse this?"


"CAN I REVERSE THIS?" Oriana repeated. "SHE REALLY SAID! CAN YOU REVERSE THIS? BECAUSE I AIN'T NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I COULD!"


As he returned to his senses and fully took stock of the sensations he was experiencing, Jared realized with horror that his body had been inflated with hundreds of pounds of fat. What's more, he'd climaxed, and he could still feel the jism in between his new rolls.
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
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Messages
412
Location
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PART 2: LE PETIT MORT

(TW for discussion of death feedism.)

Oriana found herself faced with the fattest guy she had ever seen outside of ridiculous kink art. Jared had to now be pushing half a ton. His clothes had completely burst off as his arms and legs swelled with lard. His belly domed up towards the ceiling and spilled over his thighs to the knee.


And Oriana had made him that way.


Her ears were ringing as if gunshots had fired on either side of her head. Her cheeks heated and her whole body rung with a loud, shameful sensation she could only compare to the sound of police sirens that she knew were intended for her. Her vision was practically black, and a slick, hot trickle was creeping its way down the inner thigh of her pants, originating at her crotch.


"Ms. Taylor-Moore, come with me to my office."


"Professor, I h-have to go to the ladies' room--"


"Office. Now!" ordered Dr. Hastings, gripping Oriana firmly around the arm and dragging her away from the scene of the forced fattening.


The teacher who'd spent all semester at a stalemate with her now thought her to be some goddess among Deviants. Lightheaded, Oriana sat down in the chair across from the professor's desk.


SQUELCH!


Oof. That wasn't comfortable. "What did I just witness?" asked the professor, taking her own seat.


"I-I-I don't know," Oriana confessed, but she was lying. "He got into my head, and I panicked, and just…"


Did what she did best.


But even when she had accidentally fattened up her high school boyfriends, it was only by about forty pounds each time.


"You really didn't know you could do that?"


"No idea."


"Do you know your power index?"


"The physician who tested me said I was sitting somewhere around a thirty-seven," said Oriana, her voice growing smaller as she spoke. "That's why he recommended me for Rivington...he said you guys would help me control it. He said i-if I didn't get training, I could become a threat to homeland security. I never meant to hurt anyone!"


"Thirty-sev--! But the scale only goes up to ten...well, lucky us. After what I've just seen, I'd wager you might be the most powerful biomanipulator since Ted Greene! Perhaps stronger!"


Oriana winced. She didn't like to be compared to the nut-job 'superhero' from Utah who made people's heads explode. Sure, he killed plenty of bad guys--murderers, rapists, and the like--but he'd just as gleefully pick you off for drinking on a Sunday, and the cops were too scared of him to bring him in.


"If I were you, I would start to take my classes a lot more seriously, Ms. Taylor-Moore. This ability could secure you a career. Why, with some honing it, you could have the police and military banging on your door by next year!"


"I'm not sure I see a future for myself with the cops, or the army," said Oriana. From the moment she was told she had powers, she knew she wanted to help people, but she didn't want to do it with a gun in her hands. She could be a doctor. Will people's cancer right out of their bodies. She didn't want to fight.


More than anything, though, she wanted to build a happy home with a loving husband who didn't begrudge her for her feeder side, who'd delight in having her fattening him up the old fashioned way, on her cooking rather than an erratic misfire of her powers.


Suburban house. Picket fence. Maybe a little dog.


"Ah, one of those 'I work alone' types. You could always register a persona and become a contractor with the Heroics Division. It's been decades since we've had a student successfully register while still attending, but like I said, you could do it by next year if you apply yourself. And it will do wonders for our funding. Why, you could be the next Scarlet Flame!"


Oriana quirked an eyebrow. "We really doing this?"


"Doing what?"


"Assuming I'm a Flame stan just because we have VAGUELY the same skin color. Ish."


"Do you not think she's doing a good job serving the nation?"


"Oh, she's done great work. There are just some issues she could stand to be more outspoken about."


"That's a matter of opinion, don't you think?" Dr. Hastings pulled a tea bag from her desk drawer and dropped it into a mug of hot water on her desk that Oriana could have sworn was empty a minute ago.


Oriana squirmed. "Is Jared gonna be okay?"


"Hard to say. We can call in a specialist to attempt to reverse the damage, and, failing that, a surgeon, if his parents can foot the bill. Of course, first, the biomed department would like to take some samples."


"That don't sound too reassuring."


"Oriana." Dr. Hastings fixed her with a pointed stare and said, "If you're going to succeed in this world, you're going to have to contain that bleeding heart of yours."


"Whatever you say, Doc Hastings," said Oriana, but she wasn't too sure her heart was bleeding.


The truth was, she knew exactly why Jared was now a helpless naked blog on the linoleum floor.


It wasn't the first time Oriana had been afraid of her powers, but there, in her professor's office, she found herself more terrified of them than ever before, because she now knew a little more about how they worked.


Jared tortured her, and that made her angry.


That made her vengeful.


It made her want to see him fattened to helpless immobility, slowly losing oxygen, lungs crushed under the weight of his own quivering blubber.


It made her want to handcuff him to a buffet soft-serve machine and force him to swallow gallons and gallons of ice cream until his stomach, able to stretch no more, burst open inside of him.


It made her want to find him tied to a tree along the Memorial Trail a few miles North of her childhood home. There, she would force the hose of a beer bong cruelly down his throat, funnel his belly full of liquid concrete, and sink him to the bottom of the Blackwater River.


Thinking about murdering Jared had given her the most intense orgasm of her life.


She didn't like that about herself!
 

stevita

like the pancake
***
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
412
Location
Texas
Jimmy Ngo was having the time of his life.


It was good to be away from his parents. Both Deviants, both retired from the military, they had high hopes for him to follow in their footsteps and it was always a disappointment to them that his powers--super strength and durability from Dad's side, flight from Mom's--were a little weaker than theirs. But he'd tested well and gotten into Rivington two years early. How liberating it was to finally be free of their nagging.


Unsurprisingly, he'd free-fallen into party culture. He spent his first semester letting the seniors get him hammered and stoned. Debauched every night, plied with all the free booze and weed (and the resulting late-night pizza binges), he had packed on the freshman 30 FAST. But it wasn't so bad: he'd discovered, incidentally, that inebriation made all his abilities stronger, and also gave him the additional power of breathing fire.


He was a junior now, cresting three hundred pounds, and not looking forward to having to think about his career path. But for now, there was always another weekend to look forward to, another party, another blackout, another bottle of Fireball.


And word around the halls was that the prettiest girl in the freshman class was a total chubby chaser. He hadn't spoken to her about it yet, but he'd heard of how she fattened up her opponent in a sparring session in Hastings' class mid-panic attack. You didn't do that on a reflex unless you had a fetish.


He was playing beer pong at a party against Steve Pryor--and losing. Badly. But was it really losing if every dunk Steve managed into one of his cups meant he got to drink more beer?


Once Steve had smoked him, they shook hands, Jimmy having to lean on the senior for support. "So you'n Oriana like...definishly broken up?" he slurred.


"Yeah. Honestly, it's for the better. I'd rather not be associated with the girl who likes fat guys. No offense."


"So you wouldna be mad if I...like…"


"Look, bro, she's all yours."


***


On the other side of the suite, Oriana found herself trying to step out of a circle of popular cheerleaders so she could sip on her solo cup of punch in peace, but they weren't having it.


"You should come to more of these!" said one of the nameless faces.


"And you should totally try out for cheer next semester!"


"What are you doing Saturday? We were gonna hit a rave. You down?"


"Y'all, I appreciate the offer," said Oriana, "but why y'all just now tryna talk to me all the sudden?"


She's had a plan for the night: get just tipsy enough on the free punch at this party, then go back to her room, pull up feedfrenzy.com on her phone, and find herself a nice male gainer video to get off to before passing out--completely submerged under the covers, of course, so as not to disturb Rosemarie. If only these girls would release her.


"Sorry," said the first girl. "I know we kind of ignored you at first. You've always kind of been a loner, and we all assumed you were another run-of-the mill shapeshifter. Not that there's anything wrong with being a shapeshifter. They're just kind of useless in battle. Offensive biomanipulators, on the other hand--"


"You're dangerous!" another girl finished for the first.


Oriana decided quickly that she did not care for being liked because she was dangerous.


***


"Good! You're doing great! Now let's see if you can do two at a time." Dr. Faber, the Practical Mastery instructor, gave Oriana an encouraging smile as he placed another live guinea pig on her desk in addition to the one that was already there.


Ever since the word had gotten out that she was an "offensive biomanipulator"--that is, one who tended to default to using her powers on others rather than herself--Dr. Faber had taken a particular interest in testing the limits of her abilities. Today, he was having her stop a guinea pig's heart and restart it over and over again. Well, two guinea pigs, now.


"What if I can't do it?" she asked. "I already know I can't do two in a row." As it turned out, her powers came with an approximate cool-down period of three minutes. "Or what if I can put 'em down but can't bring 'em back?"


"The rodents aren't expensive," the professor said calmly.


She wasn't worried about the school's budget. She was worried about her conscience. But it was that kind of talk that got you labeled a miscreant here.


"Let's give it a crack, huh?"


Oriana took a deep breath. She'd been doing this for the last hour and a half and she was starting to wear out, but she still had some juice in her. Gently, she placed a hand on each of the animals' backs--direct contact made it easier--and slowed their heartbeats to a crawl...then a flatline. She only left them that way for a second before pumping the life back into them. "Sorry, little guys," she muttered under her breath, even though they had not regained consciousness.


"Very good. But out in the field, you won't often get the opportunity to lay hands on your opponent," said the professor.


"Yeah, and the average hero fight only lasts seventeen minutes, and that's between two Deviants! A regular human bank robber, on the other hand? Piece of cake. Now, I'm tired!"


"Well, work on your stamina. On Wednesday, I'm going to give you a partner to practice on."


Oriana shuddered.


Just who was regulating this school?!


***


Overheard in the hallway between Oriana and Rosemarie Carter:


"Are you saying there isn't a crime problem in the streets?"


"Of course not! I ain't stupid. All I'm saying is, more times than they'll tell you in the news, it's just a matter of a cop gettin' jumpy and then making up some suspicion to justify why he killed a man. And what if one of us could do something about it?"


"So...what? You're just gonna put on a costume and fight cops?"


"Of course not! Are you crazy? But...if I could figure out a non-lethal way to stop real bad guys--"


"And what would that fix?"


"You know what? Forget I said anything."


***


When Wednesday came around, Oriana walked into the classroom tasting bile in the back of her throat.


Dr. Faber paired her up with Jimmy, who usually spent all of class practicing regurgitating fireballs at a target--he wasn't very good at hitting it, but it couldn't be helped much, as he needed to be drunk to access that particular superpower. Today, though, he would serve as her human crash-test dummy. Her palms were already slick with cold sweat, her breathing shallow with reluctance.


"Alright, Oriana," said the professor as she and Jimmy faced one another, "you know the drill. Why don't you go ahead and put him down?"


"Wait, holdup. He don't get a couch to sit on or nothing? He can just fall on the floor and get a concussion?"


"Oriana, there's only so much time in class, and we can't be bothered to move furniture. Now do as you're told!"


"Aight, fine." She winced on Jimmy's behalf. His expression was vague and hazy...he probably didn't even know what was going on.


Steeling her will, Oriana let out a shuddering exhale and cut his heartbeat.


He let out a yelp as the heart attack took hold and collapsed. She stepped forward to catch him--he was heavy--but after a second, her muscle mass adjusted to his weight and she was holding him effortlessly as if leading him in a dance.


Poor thing. He was her age. They were eighteen, and already being honed into weapons.


She couldn't even bear to let him lose consciousness before she restarted him. He gasped and scrambled back to a standing position, swaying on his feet for a moment before he spread them for balance.


"Good," said Dr. Faber. "Again."


"No!"


"Oriana. You will either let me teach you, or you will return to your dormitory and receive a failing grade in participation for the day."


That heartless bastard!


She weighed her options before making her decision.


"Fine, Dr. Faber. Have it your way. Jimmy, count me down."


"Umm...okay. Three," Jimmy began. "Two...oh God, please don't make it hurt this time...one."


At the last minute, Oriana turned her powers to the professor instead. He clutched his chest and fell gracelessly to the floor. Of course, she restarted his heart after a second, but he was still unconscious. "Whenever this fool comes to, take his ass to the infirmary. He's probably concussed," she told the rest of the students before bailing out the door.


"Oriana! Wait! Oriana! Oriaaaana…"


Jimmy had followed her out and caught up to her in several stumbling steps, one hand on the wall for support. "That--that was badass! Nobody's ever stood up for me like that!"


"I'd a done the same for anyone else."


"Lemme make it up to you!"


"You really don't gotta do that."


"No really! I been thinkin' bout you for a while."


Oh no.


"Lemme take you to House of Wings!"


"Nah, that's alright."


"Come on! I bet I can eat so many wings for you!"


"I said no."


"Why nooooot?!"


"Because I'm sober and I think you're drunk!"


"I'm fine! I could probably drive my car right now!"


"It's irrelevant. It would just be a trauma bond anyway," she muttered, and lost him around a corner on the way to her programming class.
 

stevita

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There was no reason for Oriana and Steve to talk anymore. After all, he'd nearly killed her. That, and in the eyes of the student body, she outclassed him now, and as uncomfortable as she was with her newfound 'offensive biomanipulator privilege,' she was grateful for the added distance. Oh, she'd pined for him for a time, even after she had made the decision to stay away on account of he was bad for her. But that was over now.


And yet, one late November day after Combat Theory, he approached her, moving in front of her as to impede her way. "Ori, what's up?"


She shrugged. "Hard dicks and airplanes?"


"Come on. Be real with me for two seconds. I miss you."


A few students had gathered around to eavesdrop.


"I think you just miss the way I made you feel," said Oriana, "what with the dopamine rush and all." She'd never meant to turn him into her zombie. "Do you feel that way now?"


"No," Steve admitted.


Good, then she was getting better at not letting her emotions leak all over the place. Not that she felt anything for him anymore, but memories of their time together always did stir up the lust in her.


"B-but we could rekindle that!"


"I'd want you to do that thing you don't like."


"I can deal for a few minutes a day!"


Ooh, the offer was tempting. It was always such a rush to feel his frame fill out, soft and yielding, into her hands as he slanted himself into her from above…


But she couldn't say yes to someone so hot and cold. He loved her, he hated her. He begged her back, then turned around and talked shit in the same breath.


"Come to the winter ball with me, Oriana."


"I can't."


"Why not?"


Jimmy was among the last to walk--well, more like stagger--out of an adjacent classroom. Thinking quickly, she threw an arm around his shoulders. "Because I'm already going to the dance with Jimmy!"


"Have it your way, then," Steve sneered. "Let's see how long that lasts. Fifty bucks says it ends because his liver gives out, but who knows? Maybe it'll be his heart." With that, he stalked off, bumping Jimmy as he passed.


"Yeesh, what a douche," said Oriana.


"D'you mean it? About th'winter ball?" asked Jimmy.


"Sorry, man. I'm not planning on going."


***


Despite the generally disheartening college experience Oriana was having so far at the Rivington Hero Academy, she had big plans for the spring semester. She was going to volunteer in the infirmary. Sure, her failing grade point average meant that her early dreams of going into medicine were dashed. Even if she could salvage her grades, C's might get degrees, but they wouldn't get you into Johns Hopkins. But she still wanted to learn how to apply her powers in the event of an accident or injury, just in case she ever ran into a choking person at a restaurant or a tear-gassed protestor at a demonstration.


She was also going to ask Dr. Roberts once more if she could TA for him. If he said yes, she'd have quite the eye candy to look forward to.


And in her free time, she would work on her persona.


If her professors were right about her potential, then 'bleeding heart' aside, she really could make it as a superhero. And every bad guy caught and subdued in a humane way by heroes was one more that the cops couldn't execute on site.


She was sitting in bed, sketching out potential costume ideas, when someone knocked on her door. "Who is it?"


"It's Todd." The RA. "Listen, Oriana. I just got a call from Dean Hawthorne. He wants to see you. It sounded serious."


***


"Do you know why you're here, Ms. Taylor-Moore?"


Dean Hawthorne stared Oriana down from across his desk. She squirmed in her chair. Trouble was her middle name these days, but if she was going to get punished for, say, fattening a fellow student to such a degree that the school had to call a construction company to knock down a wall to move him, or knocking a teacher unconscious, that would have happened already.


"I can't think of anything, not off the top of my head," she said.


"Really? Because your final paper in Ethics of Crimefighting caused quite the stir in the humanities department."


The topic of the semester final had been: what differentiates a hero from a villain? In her thesis, Oriana had argued that the two labels weren't so black and white, and that perhaps the differentiation ought to be done away with altogether. If a hero upheld the law at the expense of morality, was he, then, still a hero? Or was 'hero' merely a meaningless title handed out by the US government? If a 'villain' broke the law in order to help the disenfranchised, was he still a 'villain,' or was 'villain' simply a buzzword used in media smear campaigns? Furthermore, it was often the abusive and morally bankrupt who were attracted to careers in law enforcement for the opportunities it provided to exert authority. What was the use of labels in a system so utterly designed to be broken from the get-go?


"See, I don't think my paper was that extreme," Oriana said in her own defense. "I never said we should have sympathy for say, Captain Confederacy--"


"But you advocate for a radical ideology that I can't allow to become infectious at this school."


"I'm not radical, I'm just sensib--what? Are you expelling me right now? Over a paper? You can't do that, that's my freedom of speech!"


"Now, now, Ms. Taylor-Moore. There's no need to raise your voice."


"Oh, don't you DARE make this about tone!" she growled, springing out of her seat to point a finger in his face.


"You're not being expelled," said the dean, calm as ever. She hated how calm he was. "I've already spoken to the dean of Bellvue School for the Gifted. They'll be happy to take you in with open arms, all credits transferrable."


"Bellvue, huh?" She sunk back into her seat.


"I'm afraid their training program isn't as rigorous as ours. I'm also afraid the board's mind is made up."


"So that's it? You really gonna clip my wings over a damn essay?" She could fight this. There was no way a jury wouldn't side with her. Of course, that left the question of how she was supposed to afford a lawyer...


And even if someone were to represent her pro bono, what was there to win? A place in an institution that made her miserable, that was all.


"Bellvue it is, then," she finally conceded.


***


Dr. Roberts was entering final grades in his office when his star pupil appeared in his open doorway.


And she wasn't dressed to pose an academic question. Not unless showing up outside of office hours in a revealing satin dress and strappy heels was the latest new study tip going around.


Really, she looked stunning. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't getting hot under the collar.


"Can I help you, Oriana?"


"Please tell me you noticed," she said, eyes pleading.


"Noticed?"


"How hard I been tryna get with you." She let herself in and helped herself to a seat on the edge of his desk.


He popped out of his chair, flushed scarlet, trying his damnedest to stop the oncoming erection--to no avail. She was sexy. He'd thought he'd seen her stealing glances up and down his body in class, but at first, he'd played it off as his imagination, because what man wouldn't want her? She was gorgeous. And then, after word started getting around of her fascination with larger men, he thought to himself that maybe he wasn't delusional after all.


But it could never happen. He'd be jeopardizing his career, everything he'd worked for…


"You're a student, Oriana."


"Come on, haven't you always fantasized about getting your gut eaten out by a student?"


Actually, he'd never even thought of that, but now his mouth was dry and he was leaking into his underpants.


"Besides," she said, "the dean just told me I'm expelled."


"Ex-expelled?"


His heart broke. He didn't want to never see her again...but he did want to see everything she had under that little dress…


"Yeah." She gave him a sultry smile and said, "So, if you don't want me, send me back to my dorm to pack. But if you do...then shut that door."


He gently closed the door and met her where she sat, wrapping an arm around her back to pull her in for a kiss. She pressed herself into it, her body flush to his at every possible point of contact, manicured nails digging into his sides. She tasted like fruit juice and cognac. She bit down on his bottom lip and let out a lustful moan. He didn't think it was possible to feel this desired. His cock strained his fly. As they broke apart, he asked, "Do you have a condom?"


"I can't have kids. Accidentally sterilized myself sometime before I was eighteen."


Was he dreaming?


He slid the straps of her dress off her shoulders and eased the fabric down, revealing her ample chest, before laying her down on the desk.


Later--one explosive orgasm on his part later, plus three of Oriana's, much sucking, groping, and grinding, and two broken desk legs--he collapsed in his office chair, spent. After she got dressed, she straddled his still-naked lap, linked her hands behind his neck, and leaned in to whisper, "Can I give you a parting gift, 'fore I go?"


"Depends what it is."


"I think you know already."


"Lay it on me, beautiful."


She moved her hands to his belly and he felt his waistline expand and soften. Her eyes blew with a contagious excitement and he grew hard again instantly, but before she could even touch his cock, he climaxed again, with such force that his load knocked a ceiling tile right out of the grid.
 
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FFAscinated

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Hurrah! Hurrah! Perhaps the crickets won't overwhelm the BHM fiction pond after all! Thank you, Stevita! (BTW - how much older is Oriana than Ben?)
 

stevita

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Hurrah! Hurrah! Perhaps the crickets won't overwhelm the BHM fiction pond after all! Thank you, Stevita! (BTW - how much older is Oriana than Ben?)
~3 or 4 years? Ori is 2 or 3 years graduated from college already when Ben is a sophomore. Ben's the baby of the family.
 

stevita

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A/n: It ain't over yet, party people. Hope you're ready for more telepaths and their antics. (And yes, probe abilities, including but not limited to telepathy, empathy, and precognition were always meant in this universe to be an open-ended metaphor but my ex-cowriters never wanted me to say it. But I'm not ashamed to basically be writing an X-men knockoff. And yes, biomanipulation is supposed to be an obvious metaphor for feedism.)

PART 3: SO LONG AND GOODNIGHT

***

D'von Taylor-Moore had to feel for his baby cousin. She ought to have been decorating her house with her parents and helping his uncle Jeremiah bake Christmas cookies. Instead, she would be spending her holidays settling into her new dorm, meeting with academic advisors, building her class schedule, and getting ready to start from scratch after being kicked out of Deviant military school.


Not that his break would be much better: he worked as a bar manager. Holidays were the worst in the service industry. And yeah, he could have finessed the GM for time off if he wanted to. The genetic deviance of compulsion--mind control, that is--had its perks. But he was pretty sure that without him the restaurant would fall apart.


He had volunteered to help Oriana move in for company, and company seemed to be all he was capable of providing. He watched in awe as she passed him on the staircase to her new room, effortlessly carrying all four of her boxes stacked on top of one another. "Damm, Ori! You got super strength now too?"


"Yeah, when I want to. Never been good at the shapeshifter side of the bio stuff, which is fine, I like the way I look. But I just found out my muscle tone adjusts depending on the situation. Guess that's how I was always able to beat up all your bullies." She threw a smirk at him over her shoulder.


He held the door open for her so she could set her boxes down on the floor.


Just then, a figure passed in the doorway, then turned around for a double-take, eyes full of interest. It was this dark-skinned college boy, somewhere between Oriana's height and D'von's own, wearing probably custom-tailored jeans and a button-down and clocking in at well over three hundred pounds. Oriana gave him a grin and a once-over. D'von was unsurprised. It wasn't a secret what she liked. He could understand it; he was all about the thick chicks himself.


"You must be the new girl? From Rivington?" asked the stranger.


"My reputation preceded me, huh? I'm Oriana, and this is--"


"D'von, the cousin, I know." The stranger extended a handshake and D'von met him halfway, stunned.


Oriana's smirk went slack and her cheeks flushed. "A telepath?"


"You bet. I overheard you was coming today, and wanted to swing by, see if you needed help unpacking, but since you got help already--"


"You don't gotta beat around the bush. You already know who I'd rather have stick around." She gave D'von a pointed look that let him know it was time to get in his car and drive back to the city.


***


The moment of mortification that overcame Oriana was quick to pass. The boy knew exactly what she was looking at him like that for. But then...he must also know she had fattened up a classmate beyond recognition in a moment of panic, and slept with her professor...and yet, he wanted to be around her anyway.


He quickly got to work unloading her books onto the bookshelf and her laptop and speakers onto her desk for her to arrange to her liking. "Sorry. I know it's a lot, meeting your first telepath. Here I am, with the inside scoop on you already, and of course you got questions." He paused politely here so she might ask them on her own terms.


"Just two right now. One: what your name is? And two: you got a girl?"


Internally, she crossed her fingers. With his round, angelic face, thick thighs, rounded shoulders, soft arms, and hypnotically jiggly middle, he was by far the prettiest boy she had ever seen in real life.


"Dante. It's truly a pleasure, Ori. And I do, but we're open."


"Open, huh?"


"She likes to share."


"I know what it means." Oriana studied his features for any trace of deception.


"Nah, girl, I wouldn't lie to you. But you can ask her yourself when she comes back from break. This is her." He pulled out his phone to show her a picture of a doe-eyed beauty with long, curly black hair and a charming smile who could have passed for Oriana's double if she weren't basically Oriana, but doubled. "Martika."


"She's pretty," Oriana conceded. If she were gay, she would have been enamored. "Is she also--?"


"Y'know, your brain is the first place I ever heard of the word 'feeder' and 'feedee,' but I think she could fit the bill for both. I'll ask her about it on the phone tonight."


Was she dead? Had they actually killed her at Rivington, and now she was in heaven?


"Oh, don't worry, baby doll. It's all happening, realtime," said Dante as she finished putting her clothes in the dresser, high and giddy. "Now how's about I give you the grand tour?"


They took a long walk around campus so he could show her the fountain in the quad, the science building, the historic statues, the amphitheater where the drama club performed, the football field… "A lot more normal than Rivington, I know."


As they were walking away from the grand stone steps by the math department where Dante liked to study, Oriana asked, "So, why didn't you go home for break?"


He had to have seen the question coming minutes in advance. He'd have had plenty of time to think of a sanitized answer. And yet, he gave her the raw one: "My parents don't believe I'm telepathic. They think I'm crazy."


"That's terrible."


"It's the past. Martika takes care of me now. Anyway, you up for some tacos?"


Tacos were her favorite. And she was starting to get hungry.


Conveniently, there was a Taco Shack right on campus. He led the way in and ordered Oriana her usual combo of two birria beef tacos with a drink, along with a total of seven items for himself. Her eyes blew with lust...but she couldn't help but be concerned. She didn't want him to glut himself on her behalf if he wasn't into it. "Oh, don't worry about me," said Dante while they waited off to the side for their food. "I'm getting something out of this, too."


"You are?" She didn't think she'd ever run into a bona-fide feedee in the wild.


"It's more of a comfort thing than anything else. I was telling you about my parents. Well, they used to beat up on me a lot. Thought they could knock the crazy out of me if they hit me hard enough. Turns out, there's power in being a bigger dude. Makes me feel harder to push around."


Oriana's heart broke for him. "Sorry you went through all of that."


"It's aight. Like I said--"


"Martika takes care of you," Oriana recalled.


"Emotionally, financially...I'm not proud of it, and I'll get a job once I'm out of here...but in the meantime, she sittin' on a small fortune ever since her stepdad passed. But she'll give you the details on that if it ever comes up."


Once their order was up, they took it to a table, where Dante wasted no time in going to town on the feast he'd bought himself. Once in a while he'd look up at her and smirk while she squirmed in her seat, trying her best to eat her own dinner without letting slip any inappropriate noises. By the time he put away the last few bites, groaning about how full he was but still eating anyway, she was a shuddering, needy mess, breathing shallow, rapt, overtaken by the pleasant shiver in her lower back and the steady throb of desire between her legs, and yet, there was still that weight of shame pulling at the base of her spine.


Sometimes, alone in the dark with a video and a toy, she liked to fuck herself and mutter under her breath. She would breathe Steve's name and tell him, as she throbbed around the base of a plastic cock, how she wanted to stuff his belly full of concrete and dump his body in the Blackwater River.


But Dante knew that, didn't he?


Yet here he sat, next to her.
 

stevita

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((TW: marijuana use. Also, remember Martika?))

He had to know, too, that she could never harm him. He'd been nothing but gentle to her, and in her fantasies, she pictured herself gingerly opening his shirt, rubbing the ache out of his belly...washing him in the bath...quieting his darkest memories with feather-light touches and offering her own body to him, vulnerable and naked, for him to cradle in his thick arms, like a comfort object he could use to cuddle all his pain away...


While they were at the restaurant it had started to rain. He covered her with his jacket to walk her back to her dorm. They exchanged numbers on the walk, but parted ways at the threshold. "Apologies," he said, "for leaving you at the doorway."


"It's okay," she said, handing his coat back to him. "I understand. You gotta talk to your primary." Yes, she knew the lingo that pertained to polyamory. You picked up quite the vocabulary when you were mildly addicted to fetish porn. But he would already know that about her, wouldn't he?


"Til we meet again, baby doll."


What she wouldn't have given to lead him to her bed and meticulously peel his clothes off.


***


"Let's see...you've already met our school requirements for classes involving practical power use," said Paula, Oriana's new academic advisor, who sat sideways at her desk with her legs crossed, leaning back to examine her transcript from Rivington. Perhaps in her middle age, the farsightedness was beginning to set in. "Combat theory, martial arts...marksmanship?"


"It was a requirement," said Oriana. "I really don't even like guns at all."


"Stunt driving? They're offering that as a class?"


"Now that one I kind of liked."


"Let's see," Paula went on. "You had top marks in programming, but you still need three more hard science credits before you graduate, and you're missing all of your social sciences and humanities credits. You'll need to declare a major as well, and start thinking about your career path."


"What if I wanted to register a persona and be a superhero?"


"That would be your prerogative," said Paula. "But it wouldn't exempt you from studying mathematics and literature. We want our graduates to be well-adjusted, well-learned, normal people first, and superheroes second--but to tell you the truth, most of them just get jobs."


***


Oriana's roommate moved in the Saturday before classes started. It was this perky, chubby blonde girl named Ingrid Zales with the power of hydrokinesis whose belongings consisted mostly of brightly colored outfits, waterproof electronics, and houseplants. She was a bit of a motormouth, and Oriana found herself tuning her out as she made small talk. She was still thinking about the boy she'd met.


"Hel-lo! Earth to Oriana!" said Ingrid, snapping her out of her daydream.


"Sorry. Repeat the question?"


"I asked you what your power is."


"I'm an offensive biomanipulator."


"Whoa," said Ingrid, "don't go advertising that."


"Why not?"


"O-bios have such a bad rap. And I get it. It's scary, being in a room with someone who can hijack your bodily autonomy. But you seem cool so far. Hell, I don't even really see you as an o-bio. I don't see powers; I see people first."


Oof. So it was one of these wannabe woke bitches.


"It was never like this at Rivington."


"Well, duh. That's military school," said Ingrid as she arranged her plants. "They probably valued you for being dangerous. I mean...not that I think you're a danger to me. Just don't bring it up."


"I met a telepath," Oriana said. "He had to know what I could do, and he wasn't scared."


"Because you're cool. I'm just saying...maybe don't lead with that."


***


Despite her distaste for sitting at desks, Oriana filled her schedule with computer science courses, along with an English course, a history course, and a course on costume design. She had a knack for computers, so it would be the easiest way to get her hard science credits out of the way. Her first week was a breeze. Then, on Friday night, she got a text from Dante:


>Martika says you're welcome to come over. We're in #466


Her cheeks flushed with heat. She wanted to rush over there straightaway...but her mother had taught her better manners than that. So, she swung by the Taco Shack and picked everyone up a large fountain soda, plus twenty tacos for them all to split, before heading to the room.


She assumed it was Martika's, what with the lace-trimmed 'welcome' mat, and knocked. "It's open," called a woman's voice from within, so Oriana let herself in.


Martika was even more radiant than in pictures, her smiling face seeming to emanate a certain glow. The photo Dante had shown Oriana failed to do justice to the inviting swell of her chest and completely left out the ass-to-die-for. Not to be outdone, her belly strained the buttons of her top, soft and pliable underneath the constricting fabric. What's more, she and Dante had already gotten started. She was straddling his lap on the sofa and hand-feeding him a slice of pizza while a soap opera rerun played on the TV. The pizza boxes were stacked three high on the coffee table, which also supported several bottles of liquor and three shot glasses.


"Good thinking, bringing chasers," said Dante before Martika crammed his mouth full of pizza.


She gave Oriana a slow look up and down. "So you're the biomanipulator?"


"Oh shit...how much he told you?"


"He said you're a Class O," said Martika. "You already know about the hate you're gonna get. But you should never be ashamed of your powers. They're beautiful. They make you who you are."


How refreshing it was, to be called beautiful instead of dangerous.


"He also tell you about…y'know…"


"The feeder stuff? Girl. When I learned this shit had a name, I felt so seen. So known. I think we're gonna get along just fine. And it's totally okay that sometimes you need to think about murder to get off. Honestly, fuck Steve. Fuck Dr. Hastings. Fuck Jared Flemming. If they're anything near as awful as Dante says, they all deserve to burst, or choke, or sink to the bottom of the river, and it's no crime to get off on the thought. Trust me, I'm majoring in criminal justice."


Oriana shifted her weight from one foot to the other.


"Sit down if you want, pretty girl," said Martika, beckoning her forward with a head gesture, never moving from Dante's lap. "You're welcome to anything on the table."


"Likewise." Oriana walked over, added her haul from Taco Shack to the table's burden, and took a seat.


"You need a drink, honey?" Martika asked Dante. When he nodded in response, she took one of the sodas and held the straw to his lips. When he was done drinking, he squirmed for a moment, trying to get comfortable, before letting out a deep burp.


"Sorry," he excused himself.


"Better?" asked Martika, gingerly rubbing the upper swell of his belly.


"Hot," muttered Oriana, excitement building in her core.


"Round of shots?" Martika offered, pouring them each a hearty measure of vodka and handing them out.


After they'd chucked them back, Oriana said, "You know alcohol's a smooth muscle relaxant?"


"A what now?" asked Martika.


"It relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract. Meaning you can eat more." The things you learned on feedfrenzy.com.


"In that case…" Martika poured Dante another shot, tipped it into his mouth, and had him chase it with another mouthful of pizza. "Good, baby?"


The blissed-out expression on his face said it all. He nodded, moaned, and swallowed. "More?"


"Coming right up…" She held the pizza to his lips, but at the last minute, pulled back and took a bite herself, laughing.


"Damn, girl! Saw that one coming, but still! The betrayal!"


"Here, I got you," said Oriana, unwrapping a taco to offer it to him. He took a big, greedy bite, wrapped an arm around her waist, and pulled her close. Biting her lip, she snuggled against him--so soft!--and let her free hand rest on his squishy side.


He swallowed, took a sip of soda, and said, "At least someone round here wants to take care of me."


"Oh, shut up," Martika teased, filling his mouth with pizza once more. As he chewed, she turned to Oriana and said, "Take over for me for a minute?"


Oriana was all too happy to oblige, feeding him the remainder of the taco as Martika retrieved a glass pipe from her dresser, and loaded it full of weed. Lighting the bowl, she took a big hit and passed the pipe to Dante. He took a big hit and held the pipe in Oriana's direction. "You want some?"


"Do you already know what I'm gonna say?"


"Not until you do, baby doll. I can't divine the future. Well, I had a grandma that could, but the whole family thought she was nuts, too."


She considered the decision at hand. She'd never smoked pot before. D'von said it just made him paranoid. Then again...maybe if she experienced the high, she'd be able to replicate its effects on anyone she might have to fight in the future. How cool would it be to be the superhero who incapacited bad guys by getting them stoned?


So she took the pipe and sucked down a big hit.


"You have to hold it in," said Dante. She did, for a solid five seconds, until he told her to breathe.


At first, she didn't feel anything. She joined the other two in a few more rounds of hits while feeding Dante, and then…


Then it knocked her over like a freight truck.
 

stevita

like the pancake
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412
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((TW: brief discussion of abuse/trauma/flashbacks.))

She knew she should be enjoying the sight of Dante sensually sucking taco sauce off her fingers, but something felt wrong. She paused in her meticulous and repetitive feeding routine and examined her hands. They didn't feel like her hands. Her brain didn't feel like her brain, and her body...well, that just felt like a horrible sack of organs, only someone had shoved an extra organ in there…


She was cold. Why was she cold?


"Oh snap," said Dante, suddenly on edge. "Our girl havin' a bad trip."


"Oh, honey," Martika crooned sympathetically. "Here. Take another shot. And eat one of these, it'll help you come down." She pulled a taco out of the paper sack they'd come in and offered it to Oriana. Oriana shook her head vigorously. She wasn't hungry. She felt sick. Besides, what if the food was laced with something? She barely knew these people. For all she knew, she could blink and then wake up on an experimentation table!


It was preposterous, she knew--after all, she had brought the tacos herself. But she couldn't shake this sudden-onset mistrust in everyone and every stick of furniture in the room.


And what was worse, Dante would be privy to her every thought. She felt like she'd betrayed him. She looked over at him, eyes burning with moisture…


"It's aight, Ori. Maybe you just don't partake in the herb from now on, yeah?" he said. "Hang on, I'll be right back."


He left for a minute and came back with a blanket, which he carefully wrapped around her. As she forced herself not to hyperventilate, he took her in his arms and held her. She still felt like garbage, but it did feel nice, being pressed up against his warm, soft body through the fleece blanket. Eventually, she allowed Martika to ply her with a few shots of cognac. At some point, she fell asleep. When she woke up, she finally felt human again.


"You already look so much better!" said Martika, walking around the sofa to rub her back. "Doesn't she, D?"


"Definitely less pale. Definitely breathing better."


"You did so good, Oriana!"


Unable to contain her relief, Oriana laughed and stuck a hand outside the blanket to grasp one of Martika's.


The established pair spent a few more minutes taking care of Oriana--fetching her water, getting some dinner into her--but soon it was time to get back to what they'd been doing before she'd had her freak-out.


They must have downed so much liquor...the last thing Oriana remembered about that night was going face-first into Dante's gut while Martika fed him whipped cream straight from the can.


***


"Nice design elements, Oriana!" said Mrs. Parsons, the costume design teacher, as Oriana bent over her sewing machine. She had put together an orange and white bodysuit that closed up the front and somewhat resembled a racecar driver's getup. The headpiece would pull up over her hair, and for identity protection, she was thinking aviator goggles. "It's a look, for sure. Very flashy, very retro."


"Thanks! It has pockets, see?"


"Love the practicality. Although...might you consider a slightly more protective material? Fighting crime means facing off against bad guys with guns, and a bit of flame-retardant cotton-polyester blend won't stop a bullet."


"Oh, I won't be taking it for a spin or anything," said Oriana. "I just wanted to get the look down. Everyone else usin' PVC, I just wanted something without a glare. 'Sides, don't the government supply you a suit when you register?"


"Not since '03. There was a budget cut. Write that down, by the way, it'll be on the written exam," said Mrs. Parsons, before stepping away to remind another student that capes had been banned for all registered vigilantes since 1987.


***


Oriana wasn't much for large crowds, preferring to stick to her circle of three. With Martika's connections, she was able to score a fake ID, and the girls and Dante spent their weekend nights in the back booths of small, quiet bars, the girls feeding him bar bites and plying him with cocktails while he sat back and enjoyed their affection and belly rubs. Occasionally, Martika wanted to be fed. Oriana left that to Dante. She wasn't into girls that way...even if she did once make out with Martika when they were drunk.


Martika was also quite the connoisseur of controlled substances--Oriana preferred to think of her as a connoisseur, at least. Calling her an 'addict' felt condemning, even if on some level she knew it shouldn't.


Weed had been a fluke for her, but with Martika as her trip guide, she tried out LSD, molly, and something called DMT, which was, according to her mentor, naturally occurring in the brain in trace amounts. Now there was some information she could file away in case she decided to go with Stoner Girl as a persona after all.


That she declined Martika's offer of lean one night was simply a result of not wanting to reinforce a negative stereotype.


The sex was amazing. Oriana spent so many mornings waking up in Martika's room, still buzzed, still coursing with pleasure from the previous night's series of orgasms, spooned against Dante with Martika on the other side. According to him, she got real gropey in her sleep, but he didn't mind it. In those moments, she would have been content to let the world outside that room fall away...


Inevitably, though, she ended up at parties. Ingrid loved them, and with enough begging and puppy-dog-eyeing, she convinced Oriana to come along as her wing-woman.


It always happened like this. Ingrid would see some conventionally hot guy, usually some jock, and enlist Oriana's help in distracting his chubby friend so she might make her move.


She gushed with apologies every time she requested the favor.


If only she knew what a pleasure it truly was for Oriana.


***


It was Oriana in the driver's seat with a drunk Martika riding shotgun and Dante in the back, sleeping off a food coma on their way home from a bar, when Martika asked Oriana, "So, what's your Freudian excuse?"


"My what now?"


"You know. The convoluted, tragic reason you like big boys."


Oriana shrugged. "Ain't really got one. I just do. You sound like you got one, though."


"It started off more as a fear've skinny dudes."


Now that was an unusual phobia if Oriana had ever heard one. "What you gotta be scared of, girl? You sit on a skinny boy, he ain't goin' nowhere 'til you decide he is!"


"Oh, Ori," Martika slurred. "S'a long n'complicated story."


"Lay it on me."


Martika took a labored breath. "M'dad died when I was little. Mom married this rich white dude, oil baron r'somethin'. I guess she thought I'd be tooken care of. Anyway, she died not long after, looking back he prob'ly poisoned her. And then he started doin' stuff with me, stuff you don't do with a young child."


Oriana winced. "Martika…"


"Iwwas okay in the end. I came into my powers…"


Oriana knew how this story ended. Ordinarily, she was against killing, even if it was an occasional dirty fantasy of hers. But this time, she could excuse it. Jesus…


"An'way, las' year I met this boy," Martika went on, gesturing with her head towards the backseat. "We hit it off right away. His habits start rubbin' off on me, but y'know what? I found out carrying a li'l extra weight great for keeping ain't shit guys from don' things you don't want dunna you."


Oriana reached over to squeeze Martika's hand. "You're safe now."


Martika squeezed back and said, "I know it, boo."


Said, "I lllllooooove you guys soooo muuuuuch."
 

stevita

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((TW: implied bursting.))

Oriana ran up the steps to her dorm and fiddled frantically with the key in the lock before barging her way in and tossing her 'WHO REALLY KILLED VOLTAGE' picket sign aside to make a beeline straight for the bathroom. Ingrid, who'd been watching TV, stood up and followed her to the bathroom threshold as she bent over the faucet to wash her eyes.


"Ori, what's wrong?" she asked. Then she saw the sign and put two and two together.


A few people in the crowd downtown in Blackwater City had stopped to help her, one had provided her a change of clothes, and one particularly kind stranger had driven her back to her dorm, but her eyes still burned.


When she had found as much relief as she thought she was going to get, she took to pacing the dorm in a righteous fury. She refused to feel helpless, and the easiest way for her to avoid that had always been to get angry.


"It's like, you try to do good. You play by the rules. But the bitch boys in blue don't want you to do that either. And who REALLY killed Voltage, Ingrid? Was it the Heroics Division? The BCPD? I know it wasn't really a suicide."


"Of course not! It was definitely foul play, but Ori, calm down!"


"So you know! I knew you would! You're not stupid!"


"Nobody said anything about anyone being stupid, but Ori, please! Sit down before you hurt yourself!"


"NO! I'M DONE SITTING DOWN!" She tore her wrist out of Ingrid's protective grip, pacing still. "It's time I got aggressive! We talkin' putting the cape on. We talkin' motherfucking rooftops!" she exclaimed, a dark, gleeful smile overtaking her features as she pointed one finger skyward.


Ingrid blinked. "Capes are banned by federal regulation. It's gonna be on the exam."


"It was a metaphor, Ingrid," Oriana sighed. "But just think! If I could find a way to incapacitate someone before they complete a crime, the cops would have no grounds to hurt 'em. And if I can prove it can be done, they'll have no excuse. And if they do it anyway, it'd be terrible for their PR."


"You would make an awesome vigilante!" Ingrid cheered, hopping in place with excitement. "And you're a biomanipulator! I bet there are loads of ways you could stop someone without hurting them! Ooh, what if in the middle of a bank robbery, you showed up and made the robber shit in his pants?! How's he gonna rob the bank now?"


Oriana cringed and offered a sarcastic, "Sure, I'll be Captain Shit-Your-Pants! That'll look great in the press!"


"You think of something, then!"


"I can stop a heart and then restart it," she said.


Ingrid gaped. "That's amazing! You can be Heartstopper! Heartbreaker? Heart Attack Girl?"


"I think that's the name of a restaurant. Anyway, we'll work on the name later," said Oriana. That, along with the registration. After all, violence didn't wait around for paperwork to go through.


***


If Martika was the playful dominatrix of the trio, Oriana was equal parts the doting caretaker and the nerdy statistician. She had Dante's weight and measurements logged weekly in a little notebook, which he found as sensual as it was naughty. He would have loved to carry on with both women in their numbers game of erotic bliss. Taking them both to the spring formal had, after all, been the happiest experience of his life to date. But he knew it wasn't meant to last.


As Martika let Oriana and her box of donuts in one Friday night, he knew what was up the moment he looked into her eyes.


She was going down a reckless path and she didn't want to be followed.


"Oh my gosh, girl!" Martika squealed. "Love what you've done with the hair! Very retro-chic."


Dante knew she'd only cut it short for practicality in combat. The blonde tips were a nice touch...but she was definitely leaving after tonight.


"Thanks! Hey, D, what do you think about maybe doing a weigh in before we start tonight, huh?" Oriana asked with a seductive smile. She usually had him do a weigh in on Wednesday mornings, but he knew why she wanted to do one now.


And he'd be sure to savor every donut he ate from her hands tonight, because she wouldn't be coming around again.


She left in the morning before sunrise, her notebook on the coffee table along with the copy of the dorm key Martika had made her.


***


Patrolling a quiet college town was exhaustive, but unproductive, work. There wasn't a whole lot of crime. It took Oriana three weeks of scaling fire escapes for a better view of the streets, in her getup from costume design and a set of aviators, before she saw any action. She was beginning to wonder if she should just take her operation into Blackwater City when she saw a man in all black and a ski mask walk into a 24-hour What-A-Chicken at midnight.


Well then.


She supposed it was go time.


She climbed down the fire escape and jaywalked across four lanes to the store. Through the glass door, she could hear the screaming from within as the robber demanded of the cashier, "OPEN THE REGISTER, NOW!"


"I DON'T HAVE THE MANAGER CODE! PLEASE DON'T HURT ME!"


She crept into the store...only, the bell above the door gave away her entrance. The robber turned around, his gun pointed straight at her.


And she panicked.


And her killer instinct kicked in.


***


Maille had warned Michael not to rob a store, much less the store he worked at. She was just so worried, she'd told him. What if he got caught and went to jail again? It was always nag, nag, nag with her. Honestly, he would have dumped her already if the pussy wasn't so good.


She told him she could take care of him. But how emasculating was it to depend on your diner waitress girlfriend while working your own minimum wage joke of a job?


He'd never seen himself as a lowly burger flipper. He was a hunter. If he wanted something, he'd take it.


So he fell back on old habits.


But maybe Maille had had a point.


One second, he had been staring through his scope at some nerd in a costume, and the next, he was knocked off his feet by a force that pressed the air from his lungs. It took him a while to catch his breath, and when he tried to get up, he couldn't even heave himself upright.


Oh god, he realized, experimentally trying to wiggle his arms and legs. His body had been utterly inflated with fat.


It didn't take long for the sirens to sound. That bitch Carla on the register had probably called the cops while he was...distracted.


The bell above the door dinged.


Michael couldn't see over his own mountain of a gut, but the conversation between the cop and the masked freakshow went like this:


"Did you do this?"


"Yes, Officer, but I wasn't trying--"


"Heh. That's pretty impressive, sweetheart. Now change him back; I don't even think he'll fit in a jail cell like this."


"I…"


"Well, what are you waiting for?"


"I don't know how to reverse it."


Shit.


"Just try. Whoa. You're getting jumpy there, sweetheart. What're you looking at my belt for?"


"Look, I'm nervous, okay?"


"Don't be nervous. Just concentrate."


Michael felt himself slightly reduced, but there was something else, too, a pain somewhere in his right side that started small but quickly escalated to make him cry out in agony.


"I'm hurting him! I think his intestine might be wrapping around a kidney or something."


"Just keep going."


"No!"


Michael heard the cocking of a weapon. "Look, sweetheart. You can either comply with law enforcement--"


"Okay, okay! Just point that thing away from me!"


Michael felt it again, that intense pain, only it was even worse now. Then--

((Thus concludes Part 3! Part 4 will pick up on the other side of this cliffhanger! Until then, don't touch that dial, and stay tuned for the epic conclusion! Same fat time, same fat channel!))
 
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stevita

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PART 4: INTRODUCING BOMBSHELL, THE ORIGINAL FATTENING FEMME-FATALE

***

"You don't get much excitement in a small town like that, but tonight things certainly got shaken up at a college town What-A-Chicken, huh, Jack?"


"Right you are, Becky! Reports have surfaced of a new vigilante crimefighter who valiantly faced off against an armed robber earlier tonight! Let's see the security footage from inside the restaurant again, shall we?"


"Here we go! Wait for it...wait for it…"


"Damn!"


"Ka-SPLAT! Just like that! I'd hate to commit a crime on her watch! But what do we even call this woman, Jack?"


"That's more your department, Becky. But I would say something like, I don't know, Atom Bomb? No, Cherry Bomb!"


"Well, she certainly gave the inside of that restaurant a fresh red paint job, Jack. But I'm afraid Cherry Bomb is already taken. And God bless good ol' Cherry, sacrificing her life overseas to defend our great nation. But back to this new girl: what do you think of Bombshell?"


"Bombshell! I love it! And what a little bombshell she is! I mean, Jesus, Becky! Did you see her butt?!"


"Let's play the footage again, Jack, so we can get a better look!"


This was the report airing on the bulky dormitory cathode ray tube when Oriana trudged back to campus in sweatpants and a hoodie, her costume shoved unceremoniously into her backpack. The whole dorm was awake and downstairs, huddled in the commons with all eyes glued to the screen.


"Y'all really watching this trash?"


"Look, I know Vox News is right-wing garbage," said a boy whose name Oriana had never learned. "And this is blatant sexual objectification of a woman--just because she wears a catsuit doesn't mean she's asking for comments on the news about her butt. None of us support it. But this is historic! This'll be in textbooks that our kids have to buy when they come here! There hasn't been an o-bio this powerful since that freak from Utah! Imagine the implications for US military power!"


Oriana felt sick. Here she was on breaking news television, and they were lionizing her for taking a life.


They loved her. They loved the part of her that she hated, no matter how worthy and valid Martika told her over and over that part of her was.


They loved the fresh blood on her hands.


She muttered something about having to wake up early for an exam in the morning and excused herself to her room, where she got under the comforter in bed and cried herself to sleep.


***


Oriana's uncle Jerome had married rich. For D'von and his brother Ben, that meant growing up in comfort and security, and in D'von's case, having plenty of cash to wine and dine ladies with plentiful appetites, even before he finessed his way into that bartending gig. For Oriana, it meant expensive birthday presents, even if her aunt never thought to help her family out with bills.


When Oriana started college, Aunt Moneybags decided that every summer, she'd send her to some far-off country to get a little culture into her. The summer after Freshman year, it was Italy. In another life, Oriana would have reveled in the opportunity to sample the local cuisine and local cock. But life wasn't all fun and games anymore. So, when her plane touched down, she delegated herself a task for the duration of her vacation: practice. She spent her days sitting in bars, getting nearby strangers drunk and stoned on their own brain chemistry. If they noticed they were getting more impaired than they should be after too few glasses of wine, they were too impaired to question it. When she happened to take a one-night-stand up to her room, she would brush up on heart attacks--always while he slept, so he wouldn't notice.


It was easier to experiment on people when you knew you'd never see them again.


Halfway through summer, Martika texted her pictures of the gorgeous new apartment she's moved into post-graduation. She told her she and Dante had shacked up together and gave her an open invitation to come and go as she pleased. Oriana left her on read.


When she returned to start her sophomore year, she spent her nights patrolling town, eager to redeem herself. Five more times, she walked into the scene of a robbery or assault, and five more times, she found herself at the point of a weapon and fell back on an old reflex.


It was a hot disaster.


News coverage would tell her after the fact that the fattened criminals would need to be removed from the crime scenes with forklifts and cranes.


But at least she managed to get the hell out of dodge before the cops showed up.


At least she didn't kill anyone else.


Practice with her abilities was hard to come by at Bellvue. Unlike Rivington, which trained its students to become obedient little soldiers, here they were expected to thrive as academics and, after graduation, enter capitalism like any other regular civilian. Her class schedule this year was all regular stuff: systems analytics in computer science, calculus, psychology, anthropology, Shakespeare.


So, she practiced on her own time.


She spent hours after class in her room working to increase her durability. It was weeks before she made enough progress, and she took some damage along the way, but she knew she was ready when she could press the tip of a kitchen knife against her palm and watch the blade bend. It wasn't the most comfortable sensation, making herself bulletproof--it felt like tensing up, but with every fiber of her being--but it was a small price to pay for being able to walk into a battlefield without fear of getting popped.


Maybe now, she could stop criminals without having to fatten them up.


But, as it would turn out, not everyone wanted her to do things another way.


***


#Bombshell was trending on Twitter, and one quite generous offer caught Oriana's eye near the end of the fall semester:


GoForkYourselfLLC: Business has been booming since #Bombshell arrived on the scene! Hey sweetheart! Reach out and let us pay for all your gas for life!


So, while her roommate was at class, she pulled up the website of one Go Fork Yourself Forklift, Machine and Truck Rental and dialed the number listed under their contact section.


"Vinny Contini, owner and operator, how can we fork you today?" came the swift answer in a distinct, but out-of-place, West Coast accent.


"Hi, Mr. Contini, this is, uh, this is Bombshell."


"Bombshell! Sweetheart! Good to hear from you! Calling to take me up on my offer, are you?"


"The thing is, I'm really grateful for it, Mr. Contini. It would just be more useful to me if I had a set of wheels." It was a white lie, but her parents had refinanced their house to put her in her Honda Accord, and she was still on their insurance. She couldn't, in good conscience, use that car for vigilante work. But on the off chance that this kind gentleman could supply her with a vehicle, she'd have access to half the state. She could fight crime anywhere.


"Consider it a done deal, and I'll throw in the gas, too! I'll buy you an Uber to our main office and we can work out the details. Is now a good time?"


"Uhh...sure. Corner of Hillcroft and Lampasas, if you don't mind?"
 

stevita

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Vinny Contini's office was chilly on its own without the standing box fan that whirred away in the office. As she stepped inside, Oriana regretted not fashioning her suit out of a warmer material--and yes, she had come in full costume, for the sake of identity protection.


"Well...I'm here."


Vinny Contini sat behind a desk, a graying, balding, potbellied man with an air about his demeanor like he had seen some shit in his youth. Looking up from his paperwork, he gaped, then grinned real wide and toothy, looking her up and down. "Bombshell! Baby! I'm glad you came!" He smacked his outer thigh with an open palm and laughed heartily. "I can't wait to hook you up! I got your company card all ready to go!" He pulled the card in question out of a desk drawer and held it out to her. "Just swipe it at any gas station and it should work. And I ain't forgot about the car, neither. Oh, sweetheart. We'll take good care of you here."


Oriana took the card cautiously between her index and thumb. "And you're just gonna do this for me?"


"Absolutely!"


"And all I have to do is…"


"Keep doing what you do! It brings us loads of business!"


"Right. Just keep fattening people up, then."


"You like it, though, don't you?" asked Vinny.


Well, he wasn't wrong.


"Hey! I want you to meet my son!"


"I don't know if--"


"LOUIE!"


From another room emerged a tall, ginger, very beefy young man, barely legal if Oriana had to ballpark him, with thick arms, sturdy thighs, round cheeks, wide, blue eyes, and the humble beginnings of an adorable belly that strained a shirt that might have fit him 20 pounds ago. "Yes, Dad?"


"Take Bombshell down to the impound lot. Let her have anything she wants."


***


Louie drove her to the impound lot in his SUV, chattering nervously the whole way, stealing glances at her, asking her about her taste in music, media, anything he could think of. She told him she liked the Splice Sisters and School of Rap.


"No way? My big sister loves Splice Sisters!"


"It's a great show."


They pulled in, and he walked around the car to open her door.


"Most of these are waiting on a payment," he said, letting her examine the parked cars, "but they're technically all overdue. Some are abandoned, and a few of the drivers are deceased."


"Which ones are the dead guy cars?"


He pointed out an SUV, a minivan, and what was once a zippy black sports car, her hood smashed and her frame bent out of place. "What happened there?" asked Oriana.


"Poor kid wiped out in a street race. Went nose-first into the wall supporting the ramp to the 59 overpass."


"Poor bastard." Oriana placed a hand on the roof. The car didn't even stand as tall as she was, and she was 5'4". She bet it had had an amazing turning radius, back when it was still operational. "Can she be fixed?"


"Are you kidding?" Louie gushed. "I've been dying for an excuse to put some life back into her! I could never drive her myself. Way too autistic. She's too low to the ground, and feeling the road that much would fry me. But if you want her, I should be thanking you!"


***


Oriana made frequent stops by the garage to watch Louie work, always with lunch or dinner for the both of them--after she made news again saving a Taco Shack cashier from being killed during a burglary, the chain restaurant had offered her as much free food as she wanted for life. Louie was her forbidden fruit: too fragile to be pulled into the insane whirlwind of bullet-deflecting and trashy media that had become her life as Bombshell, the Fattening Femme Fatale, but she could look without touching. And look she did: there was something adorable about the way he slid a taco out of its foil and refolded the bottom so as not to spill its contents on the already oil-stained floor. She could get behind a man who was here to savor every morsel.


The car was almost done in less than a month. Louie was working under the hood one day when he said, "I saw you in the news. It was badass how you saved all those hostages at the bank!"


"Yeah, well."


The hem of his shirt had ridden up a little to expose an inch or two of jiggly, squeezable lovehandle. Oriana shoved her hands in her pockets.


"I'm tryna keep it ethical. I only do hostage situations. I figure if I'm actually saving lives, it justifies the whole fattening guys up bit. I'd do it another way, but then I wouldn't be in business with your dad."


"He's really grateful for all the work," said Louie. "Before you came along, the shop was a money laundering front for the mob, but now we've been able to go legit! You literally freed us!"


A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.


Maybe what she did wasn't so bad.


"Anyway, come back tomorrow! I think you're really gonna like what you see."


The next day, she turned up at the garage to find the finished car repainted in gleaming orange with white detailing. "Oh my god! She's beautiful!"


"Thanks. Not as beautiful as you, though."


Oh no. "Listen, Bombshell, I was maybe wondering if...oh god, I'm so bad at this. Deep breath in...okay. Can I...take you to dinner?"


"Oh, Louie…"


Her eyes burned. Tears began to pool in the bottom of her goggles.


"Hey...don't cry...here." He closed the distance between them and wrapped her up in a secure, grounding hug. She let herself sink against his pliant but sturdy frame, wishing they could be together...but they couldn't, and that only made her cry harder.


"In another life I'd say yes!" she declared miserably. "But I can't! I've got a double life, Louie, and I'm a magnet for gunfire! And it's not just coming from the bad guys!" She buried her face against his chest. "I can't drag you into that! If you got hurt because of me, I...I couldn't live with myself!"


"Wow," said Louie. He rubbed her back in slow circles. "I'm...that's actually the sweetest way anyone's ever rejected me. You're really nothing like Twitter says."


"What does Twitter say?"


"That your whole fattening schtick is fetishistic and you're gonna end up a young widow since you like fat guys so much."


Still in his arms, she rolled her eyes and said, "I can pull up twelve peer reviewed studies that say they're wrong."


"It is kind of a fetish thing, though, yeah? I mean, no judgment. We all have our thing. Me, I like getting electroshocked."


Oriana laughed. "I know a guy from Rivington who woulda made your day."


They were locked in their embrace for a long while, but even still, it ended too soon. "Anyway," said Louie, handing over the keys, "she's got a full tank."


"Thanks." Oriana unlocked the doors and slid into the driver's seat. All leather interior...wow, this was fancy. "Can I call you if I ever need repairs?"


"Consider it on the shop."
 

stevita

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It was a drug deal gone south in a Blackwater alley one afternoon after the buyer revealed himself as an undercover cop and tried to arrest the dealer. When the dealer attempted to flee, the officer drew his weapon and fired a shot that landed in the dealer's knee. The dealer fell forward and crawled, desperately, into a corner, the officer's weapon trained on him…


That's when Bombshell dropped from a nearby fire escape. "Oh, hell no, we ain't doin' this on my block!"


The officer turned around and regarded her with a scowl. "No need to sweat this one, Bombshell. I got it."


"Do you?" Suddenly, his body began to swell, slowly at first, but soon he fell flat on his ass under the weight of hundreds of pounds of new fat. His growing gut forced open the closure of his shirt, his thighs tearing through the seams of his pants as they widened until they touched. His expression slacked for a moment with pure ecstasy before he collapsed onto his back, unconscious.


The dealer stared up at her with awe. "You're...you're not gonna take me to jail?"


"For what? You don't barge into the library and attack me while I'm tryna study, so I see no reason to attack you while you're tryna work." She was about to walk away...but at the last minute, that bleeding heart of hers that Dr. Hastings had so strongly cautioned her about reared its head. She approached him and offered him her hand. "C'mon, let's go to my car. I'll take you to the ER."


She was walking out of the hospital, hoping nobody noticed her gait was a little off--she'd creamed her costume yet again--when the reporters descended. There was a swarm of them; apparently, the media had been tracking her moves. "Bombshell! Eileen Strattford with Channel 5! Is it true they had to build a separate jail to accommodate the criminals you've fattened?"


"Well, they gotta put 'em somewhere," came Bombshell's flippant answer.


"Larry Frank from the Gazette; can we confirm that you have a fat fetish?"


"So what if I do?" Bombshell smirked. If Ronald Stump could talk to the press like that over allegations of misogyny, why couldn't she steal his line to address allegations of simply having a type?


"Are there truth to the rumors," said the woman from Channel 5, "that you and Fireball are long distance sweethearts?"


"Me and who, now?"


She fought her way through the crowd and reached her car. "Look, good chat, y'all, but I'm already late enough for Calculus 202 as it is."


There was a collective murmur. Someone gasped. "She's a student?"


She jumped in the driver's seat and sped off, weaving recklessly through traffic down Memorial Drive.


After classes, she returned to her dorm, opened her laptop, and Googled Fireball. Apparently, a new superhero had just registered with the US government and would be working full time starting next month. His powers were numerous and included breathing fire--but only if he was drunk. She zoomed in on the picture in the article. Fireball's costume was tight and straining against his pudgy frame…


Good, so Jimmy had a job.


Just for good measure, she looked herself up, too. Best to stay ahead of the press. There was a lot of that nasty 'young widow' stuff floating around. After Louie had tipped her off about it, she'd noticed it was getting more and more rampant. Maybe that was why she was driving faster, staying out later, watching over her hometown from higher and higher rooftops, getting more reckless, as if to say, 'I ain't got no man, but if I did, I'd win the race to the grave'.


One Tweet in particular caught her attention:


XOXOScarletFlame: #Bombshell I would love to meet! If you're free Tuesday at 7, I'll be at Bistro LaMarca.


Oriana was still on the fence about Scarlet Flame. Sure, she was a hero in the conventional sense. But she had been completely silent thus far on the subject of how much friendly fire came Bombshell's way from the boys in blue. Still, it couldn't hurt to network with other established heroes.


It was a date.


***


Texts from Martika:


>ur cousin added me on Mybrid

>It's kinda weird

>Can u just tell him I don't like skinny dudes?


Oriana hashed out a quick reply.


>sure thing


Texts from Ingrid:


>GIRL YOU REGISTERED YET

>HOW LONG IS IT SUPPOSED TO TAKE

>I'M WAITING FOR THE PAPERS

>I'M GONNA BE WATER WOMAN

>IT'S GONNA BE SO COOL

>WHAT'S YOUR NAME

>WE SHOULD FORM A SQUAD

>OR MAYBE JUST A DUO

>WATER WOMAN AND HEARTBREAKER!!!


Oriana hesitated for a moment before typing out:


>thinking about it Captain Shit-Your-Pants had a better ring to it


Text from D'von:


>ARE YOU BOMBSHELL? IS BOMBSHELL YOU?


Oriana's thumbs hovered over the phone keyboard…


At last she decided, as family, he had a right to know.


>yes

>also stop bothering martika mitchell she's a chaser like us


***

It was a short drive into the portside city of Cason du Wandeaux, which was where Scarlet Flame primarily worked and presumably lived, but there was no saying for sure, what with how much she tended to travel for crimefighting. In fact, before Bombshell had even earned her name, Flame had once turned up at the Capital to stop an assassination attempt on the President.


It was weird, parking the Fatmobile, as the city had nicknamed it, in a restaurant parking lot and walking inside. But it wasn't crowded, and aside from turning some heads, her entry didn't cause much of a commotion. People were intrigued to see a new face, but this town was used enough to Scarlet Flame and her heroic hijinks that the presence of Bombshell wasn't such a shock.


The veteran vigilante was waiting for her at a high-top table in the bar area, masquerade-style mask on, in her full Scarlet Flame regalia. Her costume was flowier than Oriana's and much more revealing, with red satin draping elegantly off her lithe limbs. Less practical in battle, for sure, but the sex appeal was sure to come in handy when her whole shtick relied on seducing bad guys into submission. "I see my tweet reached you." She had the slightest hint of a Canadian French accent.


"So this is you," said Oriana, meek and nervous as she approached the table. "Wow. I, uh...wow. You're very, uh...well let's just say if I liked girls...actually, scratch that, I'd probably only like, you know…"


"Fat Girls?" The seated heroine laughed airily. "Aww, B, cherí, I'd run away with you in a second if I could, but there are things I can't give you," said S. S? Were they on a first-initials basis now?


"Turn around, mon petit chou! Let me see what you have on the back!" said S, nudging her shoulder. Oriana turned around to show her the patches she'd added to her costume for Taco Shack and Go Fork Yourself.


"I kinda have corporate sponsorship now."


"Magnifique! Make your money."


S had already ordered a carafe of mimosa and two glasses to the table, nevermind that Oriana had yet to turn 21. She filled both glasses and pulled out a chair. "Sit down, silly girl."


Whether it was because of S's natural magnetism or the fact that her voice had the power to bind you to her command, Oriana obeyed. "I guess I do feel pretty silly," she said, "showing up here dressed as Bombshell and all."


"But you are Bombshell," said S. "Bombshell and whatever-your-name-is are one and the same. Learn that now, and it'll make it a lot easier for you to keep up this lifestyle. Besides, if we came in plainclothes, we couldn't discuss superhero business openly."


She did have a good point.


But what exactly did she want? Oriana had forgotten to reach out and ask. Was Scarlet Flame going to offer Bombshell a partnership? Or was this going to be some sort of warning to stay off her turf?


S sipped her drink. "Well, let's get the introductions over with? Or should I say, introduction. Everyone knows who I am. I want to know about you."
 

stevita

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Oriana sighed, picked up her flute, and drained it in one pull. "I got into the game because the cops were using too much lethal force. I wanted to be the alternative.

It wasn't supposed to be like this," she said. "I was just gonna stop the crooks' hearts for a minute, then start 'em back up again and leave 'em unconscious for the cops to find. I was gonna be, I don't know, Heartstopper, or something. Because what cop would shoot an unconscious person? But every time I've been up against a crook, there's been guns, and I panicked and just…"


"Did what you do best," S finished for her. "Look, let me be frank: no one in a three-state radius who has the Internet doesn't know you have a fat fetish."


"I got that."


"And you know what?" S went on. "I can think of at least one good reason why you should keep doing it your own way."


"Go on?"


"First, drink." S refilled both their glasses, and Bombshell drank deep.


"Riddle me this," began the French temptress: "What does a French pig say?"


"I don't know, what does a French pig say?"


"Oinque!"


Bombshell snorted.


"Now, cherí, do you know what a Japanese pig says?"


Bombshell shrugged. "I don't know any Japanese."


"Oinku!" said S with a chuckle and a playful wave of her champagne hand. "Now, can you tell me what an American pig sounds like?"


"There's a punchline here, I know it."


"The American pig says: STOP RESISTING!"


Bombshell deadpanned. "I didn't think you cared."


"I bet you didn't know about my gag order from the Division!"


"No!"


"Yes. Drink."


Down in one.


"What does...um…" Oriana was starting to lose her footing in her seat. "What does this have to do--"


"With fat? Cherí. At the end of the day all that extra fat just makes each of your crooks more impervious to police fire. Think about it: the bullet lands in a pocket of fat, that's one less bullet in a vital organ. The robber is down and subdued, but at least he lives. You're in it to save lives, right?"


"I hadn't thought of it that way," said Oriana. Bombshell. B. Whoever she was. "You know, maybe you're right. Maybe this is who I gotta be. And just because the media invented this persona for me don't mean I can't register it."


S choked on her drink. "Who told you to register a persona?"


"My roommate...along with just about all my profs at Rivington, at least, until I was expelled. That's how you get a salary to do what you do, right? And you outrank the cops?"


"Mon coeur, I don't know what they told you, but the government stipend is not a living wage by far. If you register a persona with the federal government, you'll be just another exploited worker. And outranking the cops means nothing if they can use lethal force but you can't, at least, not without a direct order from higher up."


"Well, I didn't want to use lethal force anyway--"


S had more. "They can track your every move. They can watch you while you sleep if they want."


"Yikes." Oriana drained half her glass.


"And they control you. Do you know how many innocent people have become collateral damage because I had orders to let them, under penalty of death?"


"Oh my god, S. I'm so sorry."


"Listen, there's no sense in pitying me. You must focus on yourself, starting with your PR. You need to control your image. At the very least, get on Twitter. Communicate with the people. Become the person who they want to be saved by. And one more thing: I have something for you." She reached into her bag, pulled out a ribbon-wrapped box, and slid it across the table. Oriana pulled the string and popped off the lid. Inside was a small...device of some sort, custom made in Bombshell orange.


"Wow, thanks! What...what is it?"


"It's a body cam! Just in case you ever need to prove your side of a story. It clips right into your front pocket, like this!" S reached across the table and helped Oriana put it on. "Although, knowing you, you'll use it to replay the footage of your crooks blowing up."


"See which ones nutted," Oriana agreed.


"What?"


"Sometimes they nut during the, uh, during the fattening process. If I'm getting really into it, there's a chance I will too."


"Mon Dieu, cherí, you are too much!" S laughed and drank straight from the carafe.


***


Oriana went home, made a Twitter, and followed @XOXOScarletFlame. She was a little slow to gain traction at first, which she'd expected. Bombshell was notorious for damage to public property, for refusing to cooperate with law enforcement...and of course, there was the matter of her fattening antics.


But slowly but surely, people she'd saved from certain death began to come out of the woodwork, and soon, she had a nice little fanbase.


And then, the male feedees showed up in droves.


Hundreds of mentions from all over the world declared, #MeNext #Bombshell! Unfortunately, she couldn't take them up on their offers. Her life had no room for relationships and attachments. 'Hit a lick and maybe I'll think about it' became a stock phrase she got used to typing. 'Great gut tho, 11/10.'


***


It was Scarlet Flame's birthday over the summer. Oriana was in Chile when she saw the Tweet. Between an anonymous hookup with two chunky locals that involved spoon-feeding one cake off a platter while the other licked icing off her bared back and giving driving lessons to a fellow expatriate and aspiring vigilante she'd run into ("Once you get good enough, traffic laws are more like suggestions," she told him, sitting co-pilot while he sped and weaved through oncoming traffic the wrong way on a one-way overpass, looking terrified), she managed to procure and mail her mentor a present to the Scarlet Flame PO box.


When her return flight touched down, she turned her phone on and checked social media to find a troubling Tweet on the front page of Twitter.


XOXOScarletFlame: @BombshellOfficial in #BWC on assignment if you want to come drinking! Btw thanks for the birthday gift cherí! Really came in handy today.


Oriana was outraged.


Ordinarily, a thank you note was nothing to be upset about, even if it was a few weeks late, but Oriana hadn't sent her sister in justice any old trinket.


It had been a new corset piece for her costume that doubled as a bulletproof vest. She clacked out a reply:


@XOXOScarletFlame WHO SHOT YOU? Who do I need to f up


She hoped she hadn't overreacted. She thought about deleting her tweet. Scarlet Flame did have her demure image to maintain. But minutes later, she had replied:


@BombshellOfficial It was a 4 man heist and once the boys in blue showed up there were a lot of shots fired on either side. Choosing to believe in good faith it was one of the robbers that hit me


@BombshellOfficial BTW miss u. Was serious about that drink


Oriana messaged her privately and before the end of the night, they had plans for the following Sunday somewhere called AM Kitchen.
 

stevita

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Despite B's reckless driving, S still beat her to the restaurant. The heroine was waiting for her at a table set for two, having once again already ordered a carafe of mimosa. "B! It's so good to see you!" she exclaimed, popping out of her seat to give Oriana a hug as she approached.


"Well damn, S, where's your enthusiasm?" Oriana remarked sarcastically.


"Sorry, I'm just so glad you came!" she said, pulling out Oriana's chair and pouring her a glass of mimosa. "And I can't thank you enough."


"For what?" asked Oriana as she took her seat.


"For being my voice," said S. "Righteous fury isn't exactly on brand for me. But before you blew up about it, no one was talking about what happened, and now, hashtag-who-shot-Scarlet-Flame is trending."


Oh, she was good. She knew how to get her point across and remain America's little darling. Oriana might have felt manipulated if not for her lingering righteous fury.


"I gotta ask: are you okay?"


"I'm fine. Really, I'm fine," said S. "This country, though? Not so much. But I'm just preaching to the choir here, you're the one that's vocal about these things. Me, I've been in the game so long, there are certain expectations. Smile and fight bad guys and uphold the status quo. I signed away my right to talk about the real issues a long time ago. You, though? You were always defiant. I love it. You're free in all the ways I'm not."


S was draining her glass when a nervous waitress came up to the table. "Are you ladies ready to order?" she asked, voice trembling as she glanced between the two of them.


"I'm not that hungry...but if you order something big enough, I might steal a few bites, if that's okay," said S.


"Hmm...want to split an eggs benedict?" asked Oriana.


"Oof, can't. Vegetarian."


"Avocado toast, then?"


"I'm watching my carbs."


"You're breaking my heart, is what you're doing."


"Look, B, my hands are tied. I can't exceed a BMI of 21.5, it's in the contract. And my metabolism isn't what it used to be."


B looked at the waitress and said, "we're not ready."


"Sure thing, I'll come back later," said the waitress. She started to walk away, but then turned back. Trembling like a leaf, with these big puppy-dog eyes, she asked, "Could I like...get a selfie with you two ladies?"


S smiled big and Oriana said, "Go right ahead!"


The waitress whipped out her phone, got in the frame, and snapped a picture at the table, her cheeks flushed. "Ohmygod, thank you! I can't believe I'm waiting on Scarlet Flame and Bombshell!"


"Scarlet Flame and Bombshell," B echoed as the girl scuttled off to another table. "Kind of got a ring to it. What do you think, S? Think one day you'll say fuck the contract and then you and I could team up? Yeah, I got a reputation...but at least I won't starve you."


S sighed. "I wish I could. But Uncle Sam and Johnny Law have me well and truly bent over a barrel."


"Which is so fucked!" said B. "And how come they don't make Fireball lose no weight? Is it a sexist thing?"


"Here's the thing," explained S. "I'm a statement piece. My purpose is to kiss babies and smile for photo ops with the President and gracefully and effortlessly save the day. Fireball is a weapon."


B feigned a sudden interest in the menu.


She was starting to worry about what the government would do to Ingrid.


Would they starve her until they deemed her fit to fight crime in the public eye?


Or would they ship her to Guantanamo Bay and have her waterboarding prisoners?


Either way, the girl was too fragile.


***


In the middle of World Geography, Oriana heard the tinny ringtone version of the Splice Sisters theme song. She grabbed her bag, excused herself from the dining hall, and locked herself in the nearest single bathroom.


"This is Bombshell, what is your emergency?"


Bombshell had picked up another corporate sponsorship.


After she took down a gunman in one of their stores, Horizon Wireless had hooked her up with a free phone and unlimited plan. She had decided to convert her extra number into an emergency hotline--that way, if someone was in danger, they could call her up and bypass the cops entirely.


But if she had a dollar for every time S called just to talk, she could probably have paid for the phone plan herself.


"B, it's me. What are we doing this weekend?"


"S, can I give you my regular number? That way you won't be blowing up the emergency line all the time?"


"I'd take you up, but all my conversations are tapped, and the last thing I want is to compromise your secret identity to the feds."


She had a point there.


"Anyway, plans! I'm thinking the opera."


Oriana winced. "That's too much money! You're spending way too much money on me!"


"Come on. I already have thirty thousand dollars in credit card debt. What's a couple hundred more?"


Oriana knew why S was always dragging her to such fancy public establishments. It was all a game of see and be seen. It was important for people to know that S was in B's corner, and B had S's back.


But surely they could settle to be seen somewhere less expensive?


"I think the opera's a bit much. S."


"So what did you have in mind?"


The next week it blew up on the news about how Scarlet Flame had gotten Bombshell into PriceCo on her membership card and the two spent the afternoon eating free samples and not buying anything. The press called them sleazy, but Bombshell found the coverage more funny than anything else. She'd been involved in greater controversies, and they were called free samples for a reason. Besides, S confessed on Twitter that it had been the most fun she'd had in years and she was down to become a repeat offender any day of the week.


***


It wasn't until the senior Spring formal that Oriana and Dante finally spoke. She didn't know why she'd come.


No, that was a lie. She'd come to say a proper goodbye to him. Nostalgic as she was for their semester of free love and hard partying, she knew he couldn't be a part of her life, the way she'd rebuilt it now. And yet, she didn't want him to walk away thinking she didn't care.


He quickly found her in the crowd, probably because she already had him on the brain. He took one good look into her eyes and said, "Whoa. That is, uh, that is a lot, Oriana."


Said, "You're fighting a good fight, that's for sure."


Said, "I guess I feel loved."


She hadn't even gotten around to asking the question.


"The fact that you wanna keep me away from all that for my protection proves to me you care. And hey. I think your Combat teacher was wrong. You don't have to kill your heart to do this. It's what makes you a true hero."


Tears welling in her eyes, she nodded and choked, "Guess I'll just have to get used to it hurting."


The media was wrong, too, she thought to herself.


She'd never be a young widow. If she was lucky, she'd make it to the day when she'd die an old spinster.


"Aww, Ori, come here." He wrapped her up in his arms, holding her close, and suddenly the bittersweet memory of spending her nights in his pillowy embrace had her sobbing in earnest. "I'm telling you, Ori. One day you're gonna find a man who's a little more bulletproof, and before too long, he'll realize he in love with you. And when he does...well, it'll be over for that man's waistline."


"You don't have to humor me," she sniffled.


"No, I don't. But I can dream for you, since you're having a little trouble doing it yourself right now."
 

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Graduation day at last. Oriana should have been walking across the stage in the Bellvue auditorium in her cap and robes, accepting her BA in computer science. Instead, she was speeding the wrong way down the I-39 feeder road, dodging oncoming traffic and eating up pavement like the city was her lover and the road was its sweet, sweet crotch.


Actually, that fit. What was Blackwater City if not huge?


The streets took care of her. She knew every curve of the road, every pothole to dodge, every illegal shortcut that could get her there faster.


Her destination today was the Hotel Granduca downtown. A call had come in over the FatPhone of a hostage situation in the bar area. After turning the GPS's estimated 25 minute drive into a seven minute one, she parked the Fatmobile in front of the hotel, turned on the FatCam, and moved in.


Inside, a robber had the bartender backed against the register at gunpoint. "I'm gonna ask you one more time to open the drawer, tootse."


"I told you, I don't have the key! The manager bailed out the back door!"


Oriana would think the pile of wallets left on the bar counter by the other diners would have been enough. They were all frozen in their seats, presumably under threat that if anyone moved, the bartender would get it.


All heads turned when Bombshell stepped onto the scene.


"It's Bombshell!"


"We're saved!"


The robber took aim at her from behind the bar and shot. She caught the bullet in her open palm before it could bounce off her chest and held it up for all to see.


The robber dropped his gun in shock. "Who the fuck are you?"


The bartender took the opportunity to leap out from behind the counter and to safety.


"You must not be from around here," Bombshell smirked, tossing the bullet aside. "That, or you live under a damn rock. But in case you didn't hear just now, I'm Bombshell, and I'm the bitch what's gonna F you up."

***

FIN
 
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stevita

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A/N: There you have it! I know Bombshell and Big Tech is already up in its entirety, so you already know what's next in store for Bombshell from here. But I hope you've enjoyed watching her earn her name, and I'd love to hear your theories on Voltage, the Heroics Division, Scarlet Flame, or even just your favorite crack ship in this series so far.
 

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TWO YEARS LATER


Bombshell: the name was loved and feared in the city, although her other name, Oriana, carried little weight, but that was alright. Oriana Taylor-Moore was indispensable at her workplace and well-respected in the small but growing local digital security industry. She kept a neat cubicle, but a messy apartment. Her Spartan lifestyle of early-morning FlickStream binges, dollar store groceries, and PriceCo-brand liquor was just enough to keep her satisfied. She didn't need any part of Bombshell's glory bleeding over into her personal or professional life.


It was nearing midnight, and Bombshell was hopping rooftops again, keeping a watchful eye over her beloved BWC--under the smoggy, moonlit sky, the streets glistened with a recent drizzle's slickness, hazily reflecting streetlight, beautiful for all their filth. Nights like this, Oriana liked to think of the city as her personal lover, vast and unpredictable, yet so loyal, so hers, so safe, so long as she was ready to fight to keep it that way.


She was crouched on a third-story ledge when a disturbance caught her ear, then her eye: three young hooligans, probably college-aged, stumbling down the street, arm in arm, all dressed up for what looked like trouble.


There was a man in the middle dressed all in black bloc. His formfitting sweater, tightly laced boots, and skinny black jeans stretched over a hard-muscled yet lean masculine frame. Though he was slight and short--probably even shorter than Bombshell--he was the obvious ringleader of the group, his gait the surest, his demeanor the calmest. A black hood concealed his face entirely from view, but the shape of it gave him a distinctive silhouette in the semidarkness, with its twin pointed tips, reminiscent of the ears of a cat or an owl or a wolf.


He was flanked on either side by a woman: on his right, a rowdy, curly-haired blonde, flask in hand, dressed like something out of a 1980s aerobics video in a crop top and matching athletic shorts, though she was far too curvy to pass for an exercise instructor. She was attractive by conventional standards, sure, with her dramatic hourglass figure, but her DD jugs bounced conspicuously with her every step in a top with far too little support. She was leaning into everything she had going on: flaunting her chest, skipping along, drunkenly slinging her arm around her companion's shoulders as they walked and talked.


On his other side was a sturdier, bulkier girl, decked out in ripped denim pants and a sweat-stained white tank top. She was wearing a cartoonish and truly heinous lavender wig, its fringe falling into her eyes to conceal her identity. Like her female compatriot, she walked alongside their third, half a pace behind, but with elbows still linked. Both women looked so enamored.


From her position, Bombshell tilted her head and studied the trio, wondering. Villains? Fellow rogues?


No...no. They weren't watching their backs. They didn't have any weapons. Miss Universe 1987 was down there wasted off her ass.


Then Oriana remembered it was Mardi Gras.


It all made sense now: it wasn't the biggest holiday this far North, but it would explain the presence of the occasional costumed reveler.


This was the fourth year in a row that Oriana had totally forgotten all about her favorite holiday, prioritizing her duty of patrol over her own personal fun.


Ha. Fun. What even was that?


Suddenly, the dude with the whole fursona turned and looked straight in Oriana's eyes, somehow detecting her presence. He perked up, his shoulders vibrating with laughter. "We'll, I'll be fucked! Oi! Ladies! It's Bombshell!"


If Bombshell found his attention grating, the gasps and cacophony that followed from his fan club and the surrounding onlookers were downright crazy-driving.


"OMG!"


"BOMBSHELL!"


"HOW ABOUT A PHOTO OP!"


"HOLD STILL!"


She made a vain attempt to silence the group with a gesture, drawing her thumb across her throat as if to say, 'stop giving away my position, ya fools,' but it was no use. Undeterred, the man approached, until he was staring straight up at her through the slits in his mask, with one booted foot propped up on the stoop directly below. "C'mon, Bombshell! How 'bout an autograph? Or at the very least, couldja flash us a glimpse of what you've got underneath that costume?"


...Alright, that was the last straw.


Smirking cruelly, she formulated a quick plan of action.


She parkoured down the fire escape, leapt off the last ladder rung, and stuck her landing squarely in front of the group, assessing them briefly. The girls, she decided, were guiltless. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong jerk. Aforementioned jerk, though...he had really pissed her off, and he was about to get it.


Forcing a sweet smile, she glanced down into his eyes before letting her gaze flick demurely away. "Well, shucks...y'all know me already. What about y'all?" She scuffed her foot against the pavement with a deliberate feigned awkwardness. "You wanna introduce me to your crew, boy? You first: what your name is?"


She could practically see his ego swelling. Puffing his chest, he took a step towards her, bent in, and scooped her up, bridal style.


"Ooooh," cooed the girls in unison as he spun her around in his arms.


"I'm glad you asked, Bombshell! The name's--"


Yeah, she didn't care what his damn name was.


Shifting in his grip, she ran two manicured fingertips across his narrow waist and meditated hard on the image of a bowling-ball-sized lump of concrete filling his belly and sinking him to the bottom of the river.


Under the pads of her fingers, she felt his flesh begin to swell and soften through his shirt. He felt it, too: shrieking in horror, he dropped her and recoiled. "Fuck, girls! Scatter!" he commanded his troops. Bombshell landed on her hands and feet, chuckling under her breath as the bunch of them scrambled off in different directions.


It took her seven minutes to clear the scene of the commotion and find a new rooftop from which to watch over the city undisturbed, but that might as well have been an entire night in Bombshell time. Without that little distraction, she could have saved someone already…


Her trek had taken her to another third-story ledge, this one overlooking an old, abandoned, and half-demolished power plant on the outskirts of town. The structure was deserted, but for a lone figure. Her curiosity piqued, Bombshell descended to investigate.


Digging through the wreckage, there was a man. He was listening to music in his cheap, outdated earbuds as he rummaged--rookie mistake for anyone out in the streets alone at night. Bombshell quickly decided he wasn't a threat: probably just some down-on-his-luck guy from her own block, looking for something to pawn for some quick ramen money. Harmless as she was sure he was, though, she couldn't resist moving even closer. After all, there might be more dangerous things lurking in the shadows than herself, and he had no one watching his back.


She couldn't make out his face--he wore a black scarf fastened over his nose and mouth as a precaution against the dust and debris--but, though he remained oblivious, she was now close enough to tap him on the shoulder if she reached. He had dark hair that fell in unkempt curls and wore worn-out jeans, beaten-up boots, and a bomber jacket with the sleeves rolled up just past the elbow. Based on his movements, his left hand was the dominant one, and he had a slight, intermittent tremor in his right wrist.


She'd have ballparked him at six foot and change and maybe a buck thirty, soaking wet.


He bent over to examine something he found particularly compelling in the sprawling pileup of junk, and as the back of his shirt pulled out of his waistband, she caught the outline of the sharp, sharp notches in his spine, and her heart bled.


She didn't have the greatest accomodations available at her crummy Westside apartment...but she could play the role of a decent hostess, and she cooked up a mean jambalaya. Her mind's eye suddenly swam with fantasies of taking him home, making him hers, this beautiful stranger with not enough tenderness in his passing days. She imagined him laying beside her in her bed, his painfully thin frame gradually filling out, the spaces between his ribs growing less and less dramatic, a glow of health overcoming his features and a light sparking in his eyes as she nourished him with warm homecooked meals and comforted him with her company. She dreamed of snuggling him awake in the mornings and tempting him with a taste of her latest kitchen experiment, held sweetly before his lips on the end of her spoon. She thought of running her thumb along his softening jawline to coax his gaze up to meet her own before leaning in to steal his lips with a kiss.


But it could never be.


That wasn't how Bombshell rescued people.


She didn't hold onto the numbers or addresses of anyone she saved.


She was simply too dangerous, too unstable, to keep a circle of friends, much less forge deeper connections, and the last thing she needed was some random dumpster-diver to fall in love with.


Swallowing her chagrin, she turned on her heel and dashed.


Minutes later, the man at the demolition site tugged his prize free from its prison in the dirt: it was a rusty, inoperational droid from the old power plant that, with a bit of CLR and a new paint job, might make a fine addition to the supervillain getup he was working on.


"She has to notice me," he muttered under his breath. "She has to! There's no way Bombshell will be able to ignore the city's greatest criminal mastermind yet--FUCK! What do I even call myself…? Wait...wait! I've got it…


"Big Tech."


But by that time, Bombshell was already long gone.
 
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