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Octoman: Close To Home (IC)


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Ben Wang intended to take full advantage of the summer months to get the hang of this superhero thing before school started back up. The weekday morning found him on the roof of his West End apartment complex, shifting the colors and textures of his skin, and recreated the costume he'd only drawn on paper.


OK, that doesn't look right in 3-D...darken that part, brighten up this one...now we're in business.


He took a few deep breaths to fill up his internal bladders. Then he crouched down and flexed muscles no other person had, forcing the air through his internal siphon and expelling it through the now-open valves in his hands and feet. He shot off into the air like a rocket.




Tentacles sprouted from his body while he soared over the buildings. Once he started to lose momentum, the tentacles stretched out for dozens, sometimes hundreds of feet, slapping against whatever building was in reach. The suckers lining the tenacles stuck to any surface, and the tentacles could retract as quickly and forcefully as they expanded, pulling the rest of his body through the air to meet them.


He held his smartphone with one of the tentacles, using the tip to press the virtual button. As he bounced around between buildings, he took a series of candid action shots, and a few plain old selfies.


What has two thumbs and doesn't need a transit card anymore?


While being pulled toward the side of a building at 25MPH by what was basically a motorized winch in tentacle form, he actually took the time to raise two fists and point his thumbs at his own chest as he completed the thought.



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Ben couldn't listen to a radio, police band or otherwise. But he could set up search engine alerts and social media feeds. He could gain access to restricted computer systems without getting caught. And he could write a program that would organize that data into something streamlined and manageable. His phone started buzzing at him. The Freedom City police were responding to a hostage situation at an apartment building less than ten blocks away. It was a building that Ben had walked or been driven past a thousand times. Metahuman involvement was confirmed.

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OK, showtime. Gotta play this cool. Get the intel first, then yeet through the window.


Octoman flexed more of his new muscles to change the pigmentation of his skin. Now it matched the world around him so well, he was effectively invisible. He knelt down, and pushed his body through the space of only a few inches between the bars of one of the metal barricades.




Then he crept up to one of the patrol cars and crouched down behind it, looking up at himself in the side mirror. His skin began to shift again, this time to resemble the plainclothes detectives he'd seen on television.


Lessee...No, can't go full Benjamin Bratt, too pretty. Dial it back to like, 75% Bratt, and 25% Edward James Olmos angry dad energy...Nice.


Octoman flashed a thumbs-up at the mirror, then stood up from behind the police cruiser, now looking like he'd just walked off the set of a network procedural. A gold shield against a black leather square hung from a chain around his neck, resting over his business suit. He walked up to one of the uniformed officers. He tried to make his voice as gravelly as possible.


"Diaz, Major Crimes. Whatta we got?"

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The patrol cop sent Octoman over to the uniformed sergeant in command of the scene.


"Wow, you sure got here fast. Lessee..."


He checked his notepad.


"Holed up in a three-bedroom flat on the west side of the building, fifth floor out of eight. One rogue metahuman, armed. Josef Bankowski, age 27. Five hostages that we know of; Olivia Lenkiewicz, age 26, the former Mrs. Bankowski. Their two kids, Mia and Gabriel, ages 9 and 6. Her mother, age 47, and her new boyfriend. Got nothing on him yet. Mr. and Mrs. Bankowski have been separated for two years. Divorce was finalized a year ago. She got the kids. He got a restraining order and garnished wages for unpaid child support. Been living with his brother since she kicked him out. Smacked her and the kids around, cheated on her, spent all their money on drugs, just a real pillar of the community all around. Brother says he's hopped up on both Max and Zoom. I'm old enough to remember when a 'powerball' was just coke and smack, but times they are a changin'. He came knockin' today, wouldn't take 'No' for an answer. She had a gun, but he took it, so now he has a gun. One shot fired when we got close, no casualties yet that we know of. We set up a perimeter and evacuated the building. Now we're just waiting on STARs."

Edited by Grumblefloof
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No one looked twice at Tammy Monroe but then, that was the whole point, after all. The whole ex-spy turned super hero tended to make Talya take the secret identity to a whole different level. Natalya Browning was the fabulous bombshell and everyone knew that she dressed like she’d walked out of the forties, all pin up and blonde curls and a red lipped smile so sharp that it was more dangerous than any blade. Most people never realized that it was just one more mask, one she’d made in the war and wielded like the weapon it was. It helped hide the fact that she’d stopped aging at her first death. 


Tammy Monroe, on the other hand, looked like any fit soccer mom that might like to do pilates in her spare time. Helping out in the dojo meant that she could safely spend her entire time in the atheleisure section of her wardrobe. With her blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, a pair of glasses on her nose and a loose soft sweatshirt over yoga pants and she fit very nicely into the gentrified part of the West End. Pretty enough that people smiled and not so pretty that anyone remembered her. 


Who Talya really was, well, that was something she wondered herself sometimes but not today. 


Today, she was just trying to get the groceries home without a crisis.


Talya sighed, not so much surprised as accepting when she rounded the corner straight into a police baracade. 


I knew I shouldn’t have gotten ice cream. It’s going to be all melted by the time I’m done.


Skirting her way through the edges of the crowd, ‘Tammy Monroe’ vanished between one person and the next. No one saw her vault her way up the side of a building with a bag full of groceries still clutched to her chest. Once she was on the rooftop, where it was at least LESS likely to be taken while she was working. At least her family understood that sometimes hero-work found you. Shedding her clothes, she left those tucked by the groceries. At least she had the halter top of her uniform on under her sweatshirt and the black leggings would be close enough. Fortunately, it was too warm to be missing her jacket. 


Talya sprinted off the edge of the rooftop, silently leaping over the police below as she trusted her mystical camouflage to keep her undetected as she scaled the side of the building to get a better look at the source of all this commotion. At least that was easy enough, the police below were clearly keeping an eye on a section of the building and only one of those windows was recently shattered. Probably a bullet. Hell. Talya loathed getting shot but Min would be cranky if she came home blood spattered AND with melted ice cream.


Quick and clean. No problem.

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"Oh HELL no, not in MY neighborhood is he pulling this crap!" Octoman shouted without thinking in reply to the police sergeant's description. The sergeant cocked his head and squinted, studying the "detective" more closely.


"I mean...uh...gotta go." Octoman vanished from sight as his skin once again took on the colors of his surroundings. The sergeant jumped back. His hand instinctively grabbed the gun on his belt, though he stopped short of drawing it. While Octoman invisibly backed away, the sergeant grabbed his shoulder radio. "Dispatch, Sergeant Collins in the West End here. We got an ETA on STARs?"


Still invisible, Octoman let the skin on his hands and feet unfold, covering them in suckers which he used to scale the side of the apartment building. He'd wound up approaching from the opposite direction as Bombshell, but they arrived on the roof at about the same time. Octoman, thinking he was alone, shifted his skin colors back to his costume as soon as he swung himself over the roof's edge. Then he reached into the "pocket" he'd formed out of his own skin, and pulled out his smartphone. Two of his tentacles sprouted from his back and took the phone from his hands, holding it slightly above him.


"WHAT UP FAM, IT'S YA BOY, the Crime-Fighting Kraken himself, that's right, the OUTRAGEOUS Octoman, doing my first ever vlog and my FIRST EVER superhero gig!" He then made what appeared to be his attempt at mimicking a rapid-firing air horn. "You all are my DAY-ONES, getting in on the ground floor, which is funny, 'cause as you can see..." His tentacles turned and tilted the phone. "...I'm actually on a freakin' ROOFTOP. Some nasty stuff's goin' on under me, a very bad man gettin' high and hurtin' his wife and kids, and we don't PLAY THAT in Freedom City, ESPECIALLY not here in the WEST! END! Our hero, Geckoman, might be retired or lost in space or something, but don't worry, Guys, I'M here, I'm pickin' up the slack..." He balled his hands into fists and weaved back and forth while throwing a one-two punch combination as he finished the sentence. "...And I'm TAKING. CARE. Of BUSINESS."

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Talya was torn between horror and amusement at the excitable teenager. Multilimbed appearance aside, Talya knew a teenager when she saw one and she wasn’t about to let the kid get shot. Whatever skills he might have, Talya knew green when she saw it. Pre-game speeches meant green as grass. 


As if I wasn’t feeling old today already.


She let her her own camouflage drop, so she appeared in the background of his video somewhere the ‘slack’ and the ‘business’.


“Generally, we save the speeches for after the rescue,” came her low, husky tones just edged with the clipped crisp edges of her accent. She perched on the edge of the rooftop, one eyebrow arched in slight challenge. “Come on, hero, there are kids to save. Moments count and I’ve got your back. Save first, banter second. That’s the third rule.”


Bombshell offered him that sharp smile, white against the bright red of her signature lipstick. “First rule is don’t die unless you make it count for more than you lose.”



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"WHOA!" Octoman had been occasionally glancing back and forth at the city skyline around him, and when he saw that Bombshell was suddenly there, his costume turned completely bright red from head to toe. His two existing tentacles started to fumble with his smartphone. It bounced back and forth between them, and suddenly six more tentacles burst out of his back and the sides of his torso, and another two out of his forearms. The added participants didn't seem to make the effort go any more smoothly, but eventually, seemingly by accident, the phone got stuck to some of the suckers on one of the tentacles, and stopped threatening to fall onto the roof. His shoulders sagged as he breathed a sigh of relief, and his costume returned to its original yellow, black, and blue color scheme. "...I guess now I have a blooper reel?"


He turned around in time to read her lips and catch the back half of what she had said. One of his tentacles shot out toward Bombshell and stuck to the edge of the roof next to her. A moment later, the tentacle retracted, bringing Octoman, who was suddenly laying on his side and supporting his head with one hand while the other hand rested on his hip, sliding over the roof to meet her. "Heyyy." A chunk of his chest the shape of a heart, not an actual human heart but the heart symbol, started rising and falling like a piston. "We don't have to choose between thrilling heroics and suggestive banter. We can multi-task." He pointed two finger-guns at her and winked.


Then, startlingly, he leapt to his feet, and his whole demeanor changed. He made large and frequent gestures with his hands and arms as he talked. "NAHHH. I'm smooth, but I'm not THAT smooth. I mean, you're BOMBSHELL, right? Like, THE Bombshell? Yeah, that's out of my league. I don't even play the same SPORT. But seriously, wow. Just, WOW. Meeting a member of Geckoman's team, it's an honor, TRULY. The Interceptors, the HOME TEAM, I know everything ABOUT you guys, and after this, I have SO MANY QUESTIONS. But right now, like you said, people to save. I know the vlog might look like it's in bad taste, but if that idiot down there gets lucky and kills me, UNLIKELY, I know, BUT, then at least I left something behind, y'know? DAMN you smell good. I'm sorry, I don't mean that in, like, a CREEPY way." He pointed at his nose. "I smell good. I mean, not like that...it's Old Spice, so probably...but I mean I can smell A LOT, y'know?" He pointed at one of the suckers on his tentacle. "It's these guys, I think. I smell ALL the things. And most of 'em don't smell anywhere NEAR as good as you. I swear I don't mean that in a creepy way, but I'm also not sure there IS a not-creepy way. Wait, what...Right." His hands moved from left to right, back and forth between each phrase. "THE GUY. WITH THE GUN. AND THE POWERS. BUT MOSTLY THE GUN." He gestured toward his own chest. "Shot..." Then at Bombshell. "...Chaser."


His tentacles shot out again, this time toward the edge of the roof over the half of the building containing the fifth-floor apartment in question. He let them pull his body up over the edge. The momentum sent him tumbling down straight through the broken window, now shattered, and into Olivia Lenkiewicz's apartment. He landed in a crouch, with one hand, one knee, and both feet touching the floor, tentacles floating all around him. "NAILED IT."


Edited by Grumblefloof
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The kid was a ball of lightning energy in a metamorphic shell. Talya had opened her mouth to reply - maybe offer a plan - when the teenager flung himself off the building and through the window. 


No. Nonono!


Hostage situations were delicate at the best of times, especially if the gunman in question was intoxicated and volatile. Without pausing to plan or think, Talya leapt off the edge of the building, just a fraction of a second after Octoman. Part of her stored that info dump away from later. It was certainly a first that of all the people in her history, someone wanted to ask her about spending time with Geckoman. 


Bombshell let herself free fall for a heartbeat, eight stories over the ground before she flexed and twisted, converting her downward momentum into horizontal movement. Her gloved hands caught the broken window frame. She ignored the scrape of glass against her palms. Any abrasions would heal before she'd landed on the carpet. Pivoting, hands on the windowsill, Bombshell landed silently behind the tentacled hero, crouching as she listened for the whimper of frightened children. 


She ignored the twinge of guilt about using the teenager as a distraction but Talya was nothing if not practical. She couldn't contain the kid and rescue the hostages and deal with the bad guy. Even Bombshell had limits which meant prioritizing. The first was to clear the innocents from the game board. 


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The window Octoman and Bombshell had bursted in through was attached to the living room of Olivia Lenkiewicz's apartment, and the entire family appeared to be present. The African-American man who was presumably the "new boyfriend" mentioned by the patrol sergeant was laying motionless on the floor, covered in blood and bruises. A woman in her fifties or sixties, presumably Olivia's mother, was sitting beside him, using some kind of cloth to wipe blood from his face. The older woman had a fresh bruise on her own face, and her nose was intermittently dripping blood. Two children of grade-school age were huddled in a corner, half-hidden behind a couch, the older girl holding the younger boy close to her, both crying and trembling. The center of the room was dominated by an adult man and woman, both in their late twenties to early thirties. The woman, presumably Ms. Lenkiewicz, was kneeling on the floor, clawing and grabbing at the man's hand around her throat. The man, presumably Josef Bankowski, was half-standing, half-crouched, holding a semiautomatic pistol in his other hand, pointed at Ms. Lenkiewicz's head. His eyes were wide, red-rimmed, and bloodshot, with large dark circles around them, suggesting he hadn't slept in a long time. His polo shirt exposed his arms, where his veins were bulging so much it looked like they were going to explode, as did the veins running up his neck. His knuckles were covered in blood. He had been screaming in the woman's face when the heroes crashed through the window.


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"YO, CHARLIE SHEEN, your dealer sold you some bad tiger-blood! I'll have your refund sent to the prison commissary!"


Octoman's tentacles shot out toward Bankowski, grabbing for his pistol. Bankowski batted most of them away, but a couple did get a firm grip on his arm and the gun. Octoman and Bankowski both tugged back and forth a few times, but Bankowski, buoyed by the super-drugs, seemed to be stronger. He jerked his arm a couple times and broke the tentacle's grip on both his forearm and his gun.


Octoman gulped, and the white eyes of his mask somehow widened, noticeably.


YA DONE GOOFED. Now we're all gonna die and that vlog is gonna be someone's Fail of The Week.


Edited by Grumblefloof
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Bankowski jammed the nose of the pistol against Lenkiewicz's temple. His grip tightened on her throat. Her face was turning purple. He started screaming again, spraying the room with spittle.




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Bombshell’s gaze travelled over the wounded and the frightened family members. When her gaze travelled over the frightened children, Talya’s jaw hardened. She’d never had patience for anyone who smacked around people they professed to ‘love’. That wasn’t love; it was ownership, but it hit extra close to home. It wasn’t hard to imagine Eden holding Mia’s hand. Children shouldn’t know that sort of fear. 


No one should.


Bombshell dropped under one of Octoman’s tentacles, vaulting over the second. Too many potential targets, not enough control over the gun. The math was simple even if it meant she was going to come home bloody.


Min was going to be so annoyed. 


Talya vastly preferred when a job was clean and precise simply because it so often wasn’t. Before the man screaming had a chance to realize, Bombshell was in his face, her body between him and the rest of the room. That left one potential victim not protected. Bracing, Talya reached out and closed her fingers around the barrel of the gun and twisted it. Disarming him was too risky but this... this was simple math as Bombshell yanked the gun away from the woman and rolled her shoulder forward until the barrel almost kissed her skin. 


Not the heart but somewhere with enough muscle and bone. Looks like a 9mm, should stay lodged in the tissue but the shoulder blade will make sure it doesn’t punch through. 


The gunshot was loud in the small room and Bombshell wasn’t above a grunt and grimace although it turned into a near feral snarl on her red lips. 


“I’ve seen men like you my whole life,” Bombshell’s voice was like ice, tightly controlled and bitter cold. “You’re a coward and a bully. You’re nothing, and the worst thing is deep inside, you know it. So you do something like this. Something to get people to look at you but the fact of the matter is, we’ve already looked and judged and found you wanting. You want to dance? Try me. Please. I could use a little amusement in my day.”


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Octoman watched Bombshell pull the gun toward herself as Bankowski pulled the trigger, felt the vibration from the tiny explosion, watched the bullet tear through her shoulder, and he felt like time froze.


Oh no I killed Bombshell Oh no I killed Bombshell Oh no I killed Bombshell


Then he saw her lips moving. She had kept talking, even while being shot. So he did, too.


His tentacles lashed out at Bankowski in a flurry, wrapping around him and squeezing. Bankowski lost his grip on Lenkiewicz's throat.


"I'm gonna call you 'CHRIS BROWN' now, 'cause you like to beat up girls half your size and you're singin' an overplayed song. You should be on a PODCAST sellin' fake BRAIN-pills to BASEMENT-Nazis, not up in here ruining this nice family's day. So pick up your TRIFLIN', LOW-DOWN, NO-GOOD junkie self..." He heaved his tentacles and hurled Bankowski back around toward the window. "...and GET OUT!"


Bankowski went flying through the broken window, and Octoman turned back toward Bombshell and the family. "We'll get medics up here right aw-URK!" Octoman's tentacles were still wrapped firmly around Bankowski's body, so after a short delay, when Bankowski went flying, Octoman got dragged along with him. They both soared out the window, over the street. "I REGRET THIS!" Octoman shouted right before they smashed into the next building. Into it, and through it. And over the next street, and through the next building. Bankowski's body crashed through wall after wall, pulling Octoman after him. They finally lost their momentum and fell down toward the asphalt in the middle of the third street. Octoman panicked, let go of Bankowski, and started somersaulting through the air while his tentacles flailed wildly around him. Bankowski hit the street like a sledgehammer, carving a human-sized divot out of the asphalt and sending rubble flying around him. Octoman's body made more of a wet, squishy sound when it landed, like slapping a ball of silly putty against a wall. That...didn't actually hurt. Nice. His tentacles braced against the asphalt, half pushing, half pulling him as he jumped to his feet.


"You ready to tap out, Chris Brown? Or do you wanna catch ALL these hands?"


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Octoman didn't hear it, but the air was filled with honking horns as cars from both directions skidded and swerved to avoid the two people who had just fallen into the middle of the street. Octoman belatedly remembered that Bankowski had taken both Max and Zoom as the angry blur rushed toward him. Bankowski was so fast that Octoman didn't register the movement until the first fist smashed into the side of his face. The first of many.




Bankowski's clothes were shredded. He was covered from head to toe in bruises and lacerations. Splinters of wood and shards of broken glass stuck out of his skin in a dozen places. He didn't seem to notice. It didn't seem to slow him down as he pounded on Octoman over and over again.


The first punch left Octoman reeling, dizzy, his vision blurred. A hundred more followed. Any one of them could have pulverized concrete into powder. If Octoman still had bones, they'd all be broken. With each new scrape of Octoman's skin, his three powerful hearts sent syrupy purple blood squirting in streams.


By the last punch, both Bankowski and Octoman were covered in Octoman's viscous violet blood. That last punch sent Octoman flying back across the street the way he came, but at ground level this time instead of five stories up. His back slammed against the brick wall, cracking it in a dozen places. He fell flat on his face on the sidewalk in front of him.


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“All yours, boys,” Bombshell called out to the officers below as she launched herself from the window after the fight in progress. Her reputation might be... murky on the global scale but the West End officers were used to the Interceptors. Enough so that Bombshell wasn’t concerned they’d doubt her words. She slipped the baton from its place at the small of her back and sent the grapple line out to tangle along the roof line of the opposite building. As she dropped down, her boots barely skimmed over the top of the officer’s head as she added over one shoulder, “And bring medical up with you. The boyfriend is injured pretty bad.”


That was all she could offer before her swing took her rapidly away from the officers and towards the fight. They were fast. Bombshell had to work to keep up, pressing the button to release the grapple line’s hold and free fall the last feet into a roll. 


Hopefully the kid was a quick healer. Bombshell was already calculating the fastest route to get the teen back to the HQ for medical aid. The wound on her shoulder had already sealed over and the drying blood on her skin itched. She was reasonably sure she could take this guy and, even if she couldn’t, better if he went after her instead of the kid. Bombshell knew she could more than take whatever this addict could dish out. 


“You should know, no one walks away from me,” Bombshell offered, the baton in her hand snapping out to its full length as she reached for its mate. She offered that slow smile. The sort of smile that had made men stop in their tracks time and time again. The more fool them. She dropped her voice to the low, husky purr that she had honed into a weapon easily as deadly as her fists. “You still owe me a dance, big guy. You’d best hurry, though, I don’t usually work alone and my usual dance partner? Well, he really isn’t too fond of bullies picking on women. You DO know that you’re in Interceptor territory don’t you? How long do you think before my teammates catch up, hmm? A minute? Two?” 


Bombshell cast a slow glance towards an alley, her lashes fluttering down to shield her blue eyes as she intimated which direction he might have Caradoc fly out of or Jack of All Blades swing from the sky. Absently, almost bored as if there wasn’t a teenager bleeding on the pavement, Talya flipped the night stick over to catch it in her gloved palm. “Less, perhaps. I imagine less.”


Just turn, just a quick distraction and that was all the opening that Bombshell needed, really. 

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As he lay on the sidewalk, Octoman weakly yelled back at Bankowski, in between coughing up more of his thick purple blood, "Don't go *cough* strapping on your mud boots *ack* just yet, Cowboy." He struggled to raise one arm and defiantly pointed at the sky. "I have not yet *cough* BEGUN to get punched in the face!" The arm dropped back down onto the sidewalk. More quietly, he muttered "Seriously, though, after this, they should give me a DEGREE in Getting Punched In The Face. I should teach a MASTER CLASS. At least write a thinkpiece..."


He limply waved a tentacle in Bombshell's direction as she rolled up to him. "Hey, Beautiful!" he croaked out. "Sorry about ditching you back there. Glad you made it." Then he whispered "HEY. I got a PLAN. Let him get in close. I still got one ace up my sleeve." An unusual bulge briefly expanded from one side of his neck, and then the other, before receding again.


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Josef Bankowski started screaming more of his intoxicated and unhinged rants at Bombshell. But while he yelled, he also started looking around, above and behind, somehow even more wide-eyed than he was before. He had taken a couple of steps toward her, but once she mentioned the impending arrival of her teammates, he hesitated, and no amount of bravado could obscure how scared he clearly was of taking on the entire team.




Edited by Grumblefloof
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This was a man who did not deserve banter. As he screamed, Talya closed the distance far more swiftly than anyone would have expected until her booted heel landed between his legs and she was close enough to catch the scents of blood and stale booze from his breath.


Close enough that it seemed like she might kiss him - enough that her red lips caught his attention.


As soon as his gaze dropped, as Talya knew it would, she twisted, slamming the butt of her baton hard against his jaw as Talya hissed, “You’re not even fit to lick the floor that my lovers walk on. You’re never going to lay a hand on your ex or her children again. Believe me, I will make certain of it.”

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Motorists were still honking and swerving and skidding around the melee in the middle of the street.


Bombshell's baton strike caught Josef Bankowski completely off-guard and knocked him up off of his feet. He landed back onto the street with an audible crack as his back struck the asphalt and his ribs fractured. He wasn't screaming anymore, just moaning and gasping for breath. Bombshell hadn't knocked him out, but she'd knocked the wind out of him. For at least a few blessed seconds, she'd shut him up.


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Octoman tried to yell after Bombshell while she fired her baton's swingline at a nearby building and pulled herself over to Josef Bankowski, but it sounded more like a whimper. "HEYYY! I SAID 'I have a PLAN'! Thought you were a TEAM PLAYER! I-*COUGH*" He spit more purple blood onto the sidewalk. "I got this. Really. Gonna stand up any second now..."


Since she was fifty feet away with her back to him, Octoman had no idea what Bombshell had said to Bankowski, or even that she had said anything at all. But he definitely saw her baton smash into the man's jaw, and he saw the man go flying up off of his feet. He saw the man fall down, and, at least for the moment, not get back up again.


"...I mean, sure, that works too."


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Bombshell had no intention of letting the man get back up. Stepping over his prone form, Talya snapped her fingers in front of his face to get his attention. 


“I just want you to know,” she said, the words almost conversational as she hefted one baton back against her shoulder, like a batter’s stance. “There IS no one coming. Not my teammates, not my friends. It’s just me and that kid. We beat you. Do try to remember that when you’re sitting behind bars. If, of course, your heart survives the next twenty minutes. You do know what happens to most people who take Max and Zoom at the same time, don’t you?”


Bombshell didn’t kill, not anymore, but there was a reason that she fell only somewhat towards the line that separated hero from everyone else. Rather than checking his vitals, Bombshell swung her baton at the man’s skull with all her considerable skill; putting the full force of her body behind it. She did roll him onto his side before hog tying him for the police just in case he did start to vomit but if it hit the news that he’d not survived his mad rampage, well, Bombshell wasn’t going to be shedding any tears, or losing any sleep.


Collapsing her batons, Bombshell had larger concerns about whether the wife-beater survived his cocktail as she took in the state of the teenager.


”Stay with me, alright?” Talya said as she closed the distance to kneel down next to Octoman. Clear concern creased her expression, even behind her mask. “I can carry you, I think. There’s a place that’s not too far. We can get you some medical help. Wrap your arms around my shoulders and I’m going to lift you up.”

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"I'm not goin' anywhere. Already ditched you once today. That's one time too many." Octoman grunted and winced as Bombshell helped him to his feet. "I won't lie, I wouldn't turn down a fistful of Oxy right now, or a ride on that sweet grapple-line you got there. But I gotta go talk to those people first. Got somethin' to say I think they need to hear." He limped along the two and a half blocks back to the Lenkiewicz apartment, leaning on Bombshell for support. "Real talk, thanks for having my back. I think I was a bad coin flip away from dying here. I know that's, like, the job and everything, and you'd do that for anybody, but, y'know, like, that one about the girl with the beach and the starfishes. I'm, like, Starfish Number Four-Hundred Thousand Three-Hundred and Fifty Seven."


When they got back to the apartment complex, the Lenkiewicz family was gathered outside on the street. Josef Bankowski's rival for his ex-wife's affections was on a stretcher being lifted into the back of an ambulance, while other paramedics tended to the cuts and bruises on Olivia and her mother. The children both clung to Oliva's legs. When Bombshell and Octoman arrived, both Olivia and her mother practically ran to Bomshell and took turns hugging her tightly and whispering "Thank you!"


Octoman limped forward and waved at Olivia. "Hey, you gonna be OK? You mind if I chat with the kids for a quick sec?" He knelt down to meet them at eye-level. "Mia, and...Gabriel, right? Hi. My name's 'Octoman'. Listen, your dad, he's got somethin' bad inside him, somethin' that makes him act all mean and scary and hurt people. But that thing inside him? It isn't inside YOU. When you guys grow up, people might say you look like him, or you sound like him. But you're not gonna BE like him. You're good people, like your mom. Lots of good people had a bad dad." He spread his arms out. "You want a hug? You don't have to if you don't wanna, but if you do-OOF." The kids wrapped their arms around him. "You're squishy!" They laughed.


After the kids ran back to their mother, Octoman, with considerable effort, rose to his feet. "OK, Chica, let's go to the place and do the thing."


Edited by Grumblefloof
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Bombshell had offered a smile or two, demurred any thanks and gently disengaged. Her gaze landed on the teenager, assessing his injuries and keeping an eye on his balance. She couldn’t help but catch the way Octoman turned his head to track people’s faces when they spoke. It was a little more difficult to follow an eye line with a mask but Bombshell was used to it. He was watching their mouths. 


“Alright, hold on and try not to pass out.” Bombshell instructed as she went to catch the teen’s arm and hoist it up over her shoulder. Pulling Octoman tight against her side and hip, Bombshell slipped the baton from the small of her back again and sent the grapple into the air where it latched on the casement of the tall building they were standing next too. Pulling them through the air, Bombshell considered her options on approaching the HQ. The infirmary was above the secret entrances, near their home. Talya could either drop them onto the roof and go down - and hope that none of her children heard her come home - or go in through the basement and take the elevator up. 


The West End whizzed by before Bombshell dropped them onto a rooftop absolutely dripping with greenery and plant life. Still shouldering the brunt of Octoman’s weight, Bombshell keyed in the code to the door and swung it open. 


“Vince, I’ve got a guest that I’m taking to the infirmary. Could you ask Willow if she’s free to join us and let Jack know that he’s not going to want to stick his head in without changing out of his civvies?” Bombshell asked the building’s AI as she helped the teen down the stairs and passed the door that lead to the floor that held her home and Raina’s apartment. Another short stair flight down and she opened the door to the infirmary; all steel and white with the faint scent of antiseptic clinging to the surfaces. Bombshell helped Octoman onto the bed, letting him sit up as she stepped back. 


She pulled her mask free and dropped it on the counter. Blood streaked her skin and her uniform; most of it Octoman’s syrupy purple but she’d not yet managed to clean up her costume and her own red blood streaked her shoulder. With a slight grimace, Talya pulled the lead out of the healing wound in her shoulder and dropped it in a silver tray with a soft ‘plink’ so the bulletwound could close the rest of the way. “Vince, can you also toss up subtitles onto this monitor as I’m talking?”


Talya pulled the screen down and nodded towards it for Octoman, “In case you miss what I’m saying. You have any allergies, honey?”

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As she observed him more closely, Bombshell was struck by how Octoman's costume clung to him so much like a second skin that it seemed like it was his skin. She'd never seen even morphic molecules track a body's movements so perfectly. Even in the places where he was bleeding from cuts, the costume still clung to his flesh like it was glued on, with no fraying whatsoever. The blank white eyes of his mask, seemingly some kind of embedded glass lens, widened and narrowed to match his facial expressions, which all came through crystal-clear. The mouth-hole looked more like it was just his mouth. It occurred to her that this might have been why she'd so easily figured out that he was reading people's lips.


He rambled at Bombshell the whole time she half-carried him to the infirmary. "OH MAN OH MAN OH MAN, is this INTERCEPTORS HQ?! THIS IS SO COOL! This is like Prince taking you into his vault and playing his unreleased tracks for you! Or Kevin Mitnick showing you around his personal hard drive! Where the MAGIC happens! Does Geckoman live here full-time? Or does he have, like, his own Geckocave somewhere? Is there a secret garage for The Pitchoo that, like, opens up into the sewers or something? And where IS Geckoman? I KNOW he's not DEAD, 'cause the newspapers didn't have black borders on the front pages and the flags didn't spend a week flying at half-mast and the whole city didn't shut down for a big funeral and presidents and queens from other countries didn't fly in, but, like, did he get hurt so bad even HE couldn't heal back from it? Or is he out in space another dimension, like, leading a revolution against some alien warlord? Is he the new Raven? Is it just some kind of re-branding thing? Are he and Spellbound a couple? I know they did the whole archenemies thing, but you see 'em together, and they do that certain kind of bickering and sneak those looks and smiles at each other, and it's like, YEAH, he's hittin' that! Are they still together? Or did she go evil again? I know that happens with supervillain girlfriends sometimes. I mean, no offense! Nah, no allergies. I used to have SOME, but they went away when I got powers. Doesn't look like I get sick anymore at all. Last February half the kids in my class got the flu, but-I MEAN, um, uh...'KIDS', you know, like us grownups call each other sometimes, 'YOU CRAZY KIDS', like, IRONICALLY, and, uh, of course, I meant...my SOCIAL class, like...ECONOMICS. Wait, why would I miss what...Oh. OH. Wow, NOTHIN' gets by you. Yeah...side-effect of the whole superpowers-thing. Is it THAT obvious? I was kinda tryin' to keep that on the dee-ell. I mean, superheroes don't advertise their weakness, right? Captain Thunder didn't hire a plane to write 'DRAIN ME WEATHER-DADDY' in the sky, he made Stratos WORK for it. Not that Captain Thunder would have to hire a plane, he could just heave an engine up into the sky and fly it around himself, but then it might be more trouble to find an engine that wasn't already attached to a plane or take it off a plane, but he was a pilot, so he could just fly the plane himself, but I dunno if they rent skywriting planes for, like, personal use..."


Edited by Grumblefloof
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