Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Avenger Assembled

Entangling Alliances (IC)

Recommended Posts

August 17, 2010

Fusion had come to Hanover by water, the ocean and river simply too compelling to pass up with the situation presented itself. She erupted out of the water by a quiet embankment in a magnificent eruption of movement, her muscular tentacles flexing as water dripped off them, her black costume gleaming in the afternoon sunlight as she whipped her way through the air. It had taken some work to find a doctor in Freedom City willing to see her with her special needs; people like Daedalus and Dr. Atom were already busy enough with their own work. But Viktor Archeville came extremely highly-recommended, even if he'd been out of the country during her first, terrifying visit to Freedom City some years earlier when her body had been so close to breaking down. She swung through the air, tentacles whipping from building to building, nearly as fast in the urban jungle as she was underwater.

This was about finding a doctor who could look her over and make sure her body wasn't on the verge of changing again. She'd come so very close to being a monster, to living out her life inside a tank in an octopod body, and she never really rested easy without regular medical checkups to make sure nothing new was happening again. She had her life, and she had her humanity, and she wouldn't give that up. Not when it might mean losing her family all over again. Tentacles whipping in the air as they snapped back around her body, the metamorphic cells at their base retracting the fifty-foot limbs to merely the size of her arms, she stepped inside the front door of Archetech and strode up to the receptionist, as usual simply striding past her own bizarre appearance.

"Hello. I have an appointment with Dr. Viktor Archeville?" She was ten minutes early; in her experience it didn't pay to see _any_ doctor any sooner than that.

Share this post


Link to post

"Hello, Mrs... er, Fusion!," the young blonde receptionist said in a voice as perky as her appearance. "Doktor Archeville is expecting you, up on the seventh floor. Here," she continued, holding out a VISITORS ID badge attached to a blue lanyard, "you'll need this to get around."

Fusion briefly wondered which had a higher percentage of plastic, the ID badge or the receptionist's chest.

"There's an elevator right down that hallway," she went on, pointing to the largest of the hallways behind her, "and once you step off, look for the arrows on the floor and walls; they're keyed to the badge and will take you to an examination room. Have a super day!"


Elsewhere, on the ninth floor, Archeville was going over some test results from his latest experiments -- new types of laser welders, for use in non-standard environments such as underwater or in vacuum -- when his beeper alerted him of Fusion's arrival.

Oooh, our new experimental subject's here! And this one's a doozy, too.

Oh, hush; she has clearly been through a lot, and I intend to help her however I can.

"Alright, gang," he said to the other technicians, "I am needed elsevhere. You are good to go from here, ja?"

Share this post


Link to post

Fusion followed the receptionist's directions with a friendly smile just visible behind her mask. She kept the badge in her hand rather than on her tentacles, folding her lower limbs around her body like a fleshy grass skirt as she headed through the super-science building. She was observant, and probably the only person who didn't at least shoot her one glance on the way through the corridors. Inside the exam room, she fought the urge to pace, instead concentrating for a moment as she pulled her costume back underneath a black and white checked dress that stretched down to the floor, bulking wide enough to hide the tentacles at her waist. She preferred to talk to her physician with her face visible, especially since she had so many things to tell him.

Share this post


Link to post

Archeville had, of course, done some research into his new patient, combing through public records of her exploits and adventures. He even learned of the unfortunate anime that was made of her.

HA-ha!

Be nice.

He even knew some details about her transformation, and going back through his records found that he had actually be consulted on stabilizing her transmogrification (though the scientists asking him did so in such a general and roundabout way that he was never entirely sure who he was helping).

"Sorry to keep you vaiting, Ms. Fusion, I- oh!" He had not expected her to have her face uncovered, much less be 'out of costume'. At least, not yet. "Mein metahuman patients are usually still in full costume vhen I first see dem, und I haff to later tell dem to remove it so I can perform my examinations. Dis is a pleasant change of pace. So, here for a routine check-up, or is dere someding specific concerning you?"

Share this post


Link to post

"I got this 'condition' before I got the costume," said Joan with a little shrug. "I'd rather my doctor know me, not my mask." She paced the room, and as she did so Dr. Archeville distinctly noted the motion beneath her dress, as many more limbs than legs moved as she paced. "I just want the same thing I got from my doctors in Oregon and Japan: reassurance that my...problem isn't reasserting itself." She smiled thinly, giving Dr. Archeville a bleak look. "I spent three months in an aquarium tank in Portland before they were able to regrow my lungs. And another month, before they implanted metamorphic tissue in my abdomen so I could retract my tentacles. I need to make sure it's not coming back. That I'm as human today as I was tomorrow. Can you help me, Doctor?"

Share this post


Link to post

"I shall do my best," Archeville replied after a moment's pause, "though you must know dat dere are hardly ever assurances dat are von hundred percent certain." He withdrew a slender wand-like device from his pocket -- his Electromagnetic Screwdriver -- and flicked it on, causing a 3D holographic display of Fusion's medical records (which she'd sent over some days earlier) to appear between them. "Bodyvide mutations are tricky dings, und yours exponentially more complex due to de fact it involved compounds derived from a number of different species, from an entirely separate phylum."

Oooh, I'm gonna enjoy taking this one apart!

No! She has been through quite enough already!

"Animal-Human splices haff been done for decades," the Doktor continued, and a smaller window showing a number of animal-human hybrids appeared next to Fusion's records. Many of the ones she recognized from reports on the Circuit Maximus super-fighters, or a few of the weirder Iron Age villains. "Un de closer de animal is to human, de easier und more stable de process is. Many traits from other mammals can be spliced to humans, mit a fair degree of stability, as dey are all in de same Class. Cephalopods like octopi, dough... vell, as I said, dey are in an entirely different Phylum. Dere is less in common, so more vork is required to haff all de components vork togezher in a stable matrix."

Ugh! Such outdated terms!

Well I doubt she was taught cladistics in her biology classes, so this is the easiest way her mind can wrap around it.

Bah! You're just perpetuating ignorance!

"Haff you felt any different recently? Noticed any changes in de vay your body reacts? Any odd cravings, either for foods or environmental conditions?"

Share this post


Link to post

"That's why I needed so much work," agreed Joan. "Because my transformation was the result of an accident, there wasn't anything...planned with it." Unconsciously, a sinewy, muscular limb worked a few inches out from under the low-hanging hem of her dress. "They think I'd probably have changed all the way if they hadn't been able to stop it. A six foot octopus with a human brain, for the rest of my life. Luckily, that wouldn't be very long." She smiled thinly, the limb retreating again underneath her dress. "Octopi don't live very long, you know."

She watched the presentation attentively, nodding at the sight of familiar faces. She'd made it her business to know something about animal-human hybrids, and she was very good at her business. "I like the water. But...I've always liked the water." She folded her arms, unconsciously mirroring the motion underneath her dress. "Ever since the accident. I used to be real athletic, you know? I was a damn Olympian. But now I can't..." She shook her head. "The only time I can move, really _move_, is when I'm in costume. And it's easiest to do that underwater."

Share this post


Link to post

Mmm... what I could do with six more limbs... what she could do with all those limbs....

Gah! Stop that! Besides, I thought by now you would be working on some way to recreate her mutation.

So you can reverse it and cure her? Maybe I won't....

You, not working on making mutants and hybrids? I find that hard to believe....

...

Archeville tapped his chin with one end of the Screwdriver, stopping when he realized the roller coaster effect it was having on the holoprojections of Fusion's medical records. "Dis facility does haff several pools, und chambers dat can be filled mit vater, for aquatic aerobic therapy as vell as for de care und habitation of sealife or metahumans who require aquatic environs. If you vould prefer dis interview be conducted in such an environ, I vould be more dan villing to accommodate you. Dat is de purpose behind ArcheTech -- to make ozhers feel accepted und understood, und to help dem accept und understand demselves."

Share this post


Link to post

Joan looked tempted for a moment before she shook her head. "No, no, I live on the surface. I travel in the water, I visit under the water, but I live on the surface. My job, my life is on the surface. My family is on the surface." She took a deep breath, then said, "I'll go underwater for tests, I've done that lots of times. But I need to tell myself that I can do business on the surface. Like a normal person." She gave Archeville a shaky smile, her dress slowly retreating up her legs, showing first the sensible shoes and tights underneath, then just the tips of the tentacles below. "You're my doctor. We're just normal people, talking about a condition I have that gives me superpowers."

Share this post


Link to post

Heh heh.

What now?

Sounds like she's trying to convince herself she still belongs on dry land.

That may well be, which would imply a host of continued psychological issues.

Archeville nodded, and jotted some notes on her file. "How has your family coped mit de changes? As I am sure you know, dere is more to von's health dan just de body -- von's emotions, und emotional environment, must be accounted for."

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh, Charlie and Lois have been great," said Joan, pacing the room as her tentacles began lashing around her feet, moving back and forth without actually touching anything. "I mean sure, it was tough at first, when I was in the tank, but once I was out of it...things got a lot better. I mean, it must have been so hard for them, watching me just degenerate like that." She gave a little shudder. "But they take to it well. I can even pat Lois with my extra arms, or hug Charlie. I couldn't always do that."

Share this post


Link to post

Charlie must be one kinky b-

Watch it.

"Good, good!," the Doktor replied enthusiastically. "It is alvays best to have family und loved vons to support you in times of great... stress. Does Lois enjoy svimming? Never too young to learn dat particular skill, I say, especially vhen living near de coast."

Family always interested Archeville, given his own... unusual one.

"I do not suppose," he continued, in a tone indicating what he was about to ask was quite touchy even by his standards, "dat you und Charlie haff discussed haffing any more children since de accident?"

Oh, just what the world needs, more freaks!

If the mutations are stable enough, and they want and are able to support another child, I see no reason they should not have one.

Share this post


Link to post

"It'd be a moot point, since Charlie had a vasectomy about ten years ago," said Joan, smiling thinly. "We both decided that too large a family would stand in the way of our careers. And even if that hadn't happened...well, I love my girl more than life, Doctor, but I'm balancing two careers and a busy family already." She made a little gesture with her hands and arms, obviously a practiced joke but one she told well. "Even I can only hold up so much. I've always said I had the perfect kid anyway, so why make more?"

The truth of the matter was considerably darker than that, on multiple occasions. Joan hadn't wanted kids at all: she'd gotten pregnant with Lois when she wasn't even twenty-one. Her then-boyfriend Charlie had been trying to cheer her up after washing out at the 2000 Olympics. She'd seriously considered an abortion before she decided she wasn't going to just throw away this opportunity, even if meant giving things up. Like Athens. Or Beijing. And after that, well...she'd dreamed of egg sacs in her belly after her transformation, of Lois with tentacles and a beak, looking up at her with an animal's eyes. And Charlie had said the same, commenting more than once how _nice_ it was that he'd gotten fixed, that it meant they didn't have anything to _worry_ about...

"With our lives so busy, the thought just hasn't crossed our minds."

Share this post


Link to post

The Doktor could tell that she was holding things back, probably stressors in her marriage and personal life. And that she gets uncomfortable when the subject of kids comes up. But her own reporter's sense detected an unease the Doktor himself had when discussing family; given his history, this was not unexpected.

Aww, poor little octogirl can't be an octomom!

That... that is horrible, even by your standards.

"A fine attitude. So!," the Doktor said, quickly shifting the subject, and tone to a somewhat lighter one, "let us get you started mit some basic readings, blood pressure und heart rate und respiration und all dat, check your vision und hearing und electroreceptors, und den a trip to de lab for some blood und ink samples." He clicked off the holoprojector from his Screwdriver, then set it to record, a large holosheet dictating every word her and his patient said, then went to a nearby sink and washed hs hands. "Is dere anyding in particular you haff noticed different of late? Rashes or changes in vision or hearing, or in how dings feel or taste? Anyding?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Nothing lately," said Fusion, shaking her head. "I still have the enhanced senses, the sensitivity to vibration, but I haven't had any of the ocular expansion I had during my earlier transformation." She stretched her arm out for a blood sample, then admitted, "I have, er, had some rubbery bones lately, but they said I should expect that periodically. It's mostly fake calcium holding them together these days, and that latticework Dr. Atom designed, so it's not that difficult to bend and flex them. It's disconcerting, but I remind myself of the alternative. I know what it's like not to have bones at all." She shivered a little at the memory, goosebumps on her skin.

Share this post


Link to post

Pft, what would Atom now of re-building a body, he abandoned his!

Because he was dying!

Like that's an excuse!

Archeville nodded and noted her chart as he labeled the vials of blood he'd drawn for analysis. "I could probably stabilize de rigidity of your bones, if you vould like, replace de calcium latticevork mit something a bit more rigid. You vould of course lose your exteme flexibility... though..." he paused a moment, "I may be able to tweak that, too. Ink sample, please," he said while passing her a specimen jar.

Share this post


Link to post

Fusion took the specimen jar and placed it to her lips, tilting her head forward and making a bizarre retching sound. Within seconds, Doc watched a rapidly rising line of black inside the jar rise to the very top, Fusion pulling her head back and screwing the lid back on expressionlessly. "I can give you more, but I'd need a much larger container," she said, wiping her mouth. "It should be octopus vulgaris ink, or close enough. It's a handy talent in a fight, and you should see what it does underwater." She smiled slightly, faint, rapidly fading traces of black on her teeth that were gone in seconds.

Share this post


Link to post

That's disgustingly fascinating!

Fascinating, certainly. 'Disgusting' is far too subjective a term.

Archeville watched with rapt attention as she filled the jar, and smiled as he took it from her and labeled it. "No, no, dis should be more dan enough." He washed his hands again, then retrieved a few assorted tools from the drawers and countertop: stethoscope, eye/ear examination light, reflex hammer, and so on. "Alright, just relax und breathe normally, please."

Share this post


Link to post

Fusion submitted to the Doktor's examinations without complaint, her breathing sounding clear and regular as he took her measurements. "The gills don't open up till I'm underwater," she confessed, pointing to hair-thin slits just visible at extreme close range along her neck. "Just like most of the skin lubrication. That's me," she said wryly, "the first amphibious octopus." Underneath her skin was a thick subcutaneous layer of flesh, deep enough that it hadn't actually made her get any larger. "As for the skeletal structure...I'll let you know. As long as I can maintain full rigidity when I want, I can live with how things are now."

Share this post


Link to post

Foolish woman! You should be jumping at the chance for any help I deign to offer you!

Any help we offer is just that, an offer, not to be forced unless her not taking it would be an unacceptable risk to others.

Archeville nodded, "as you vish. I vill be vanting to test dose later, too, in von of de tanks." He put the stethoscope away and brought forth the exam light, then pointed to a coathook on the door. "Focus dere, please." After examining her eyes, he placed a small funnel on the end of the light and used it to examine her ears and nose, then removed the funnel and shone the light down her mouth to check her throat.

Share this post


Link to post

A detailed examination told Dr. Archeville many fascinating things about Fusion, things he otherwise wouldn't have known even from her files. The tentacled titan really was a biological merger of human and octopus, enough that it was remarkable that her transformation had been stabilized looking as human as she was. Most normal people didn't have glands full of ink at the back of the throat, a nigh-perfect copy of Common Octopus ink except with human chemistry that she could vomit out on command. A derivative of Grue cellular structure had been used around the base of her tentacles, giving her the ability to almost completely retract them into her body, while a similar construction helped hide the gills alongside of her neck. It was hard to tell where her transformation might have stabilized without physical and genetic help, but she'd probably look very different were that the case.

Eventually, after an underwater test that proved she was equal of any Atlantean in skill, finesse, and power underwater, she erupted from the pool, water streaming down her skin-tight black costume as her tentacles retracted again. "Getting anything useful?" she asked.

Share this post


Link to post

... hrn...

Go on. you can say it.

Say what?

That you are impressed at the work Doctor Atom and Daedalus did in stabilizing her.

Bah! It is nothing I could not have done!

Archeville nodded enthusiastically, "indeed so! Sey did excellent vork, und everyding appears to be in tip-top shape."

"Ah, I do haff an... odd qvestion for you, dough," he added. "Back in May, during de Grue Invasion, did you experience any... vell, anyding unusual? Any odd sensations, physical or mental?"

Share this post


Link to post

Fusion shook her head, the water slowly getting sucked back under her shiny black costume by the action of molecular fibers. "I took to the streets and fought the Grue where I could, nothing besides that. I admit my mindset wasn't the best, but I don't take alien warlords showing up to try and kill my family particularly well." She smiled thinly, her look fierce through the mask. "I don't know the Grue who donated the cells I'm wearing, but apparently he's a superhero. It's strange to think of one of them on the side of justice, but I've seen a lot of strange things over the years."

Share this post


Link to post

"Ah, ja, dat vould fit..." the Doktor said enigmatically.

Heh heh heh.

... what?

It's not public knowledge that Pseudo is a Grue, is it?

No, most people assume he is just a Metahuman or a- hey! You are not going to tell Joan Collier that the Freedom League has a Grue in their Lighthouse, are you?

Heh heh heh...

No!

"Dere... is at least von heroic Grue I know of," he said in a slightly strained tone, "von who broke free from dat culture und took to guarding de vorld... it had originally been sent to infiltrate. I am not at liberty to reveal... its identity, but if de biomaterials used in your treatments vere derived from... it, den de concern I had is moot. You see," his voice lost the strain and returned to a more casual tone, "I vas concerned dat any Grue cells used in your therapy vould make you susceptible to mental influence by de Grue Meta-Mind, as vas de case mit all dose poor people sey had turned into 'sleeper agents' during de last invasion."

Share this post


Link to post

"Like I said, I haven't had a lot of personal dealings with the Grue. I understand there are some active on Earth who are not agents of the Hegemony, and I'd love a chance to give them the public exposure they deserve. It can't be easy to live like that," she said reflectively. "Spending all your days pretending to be someone you're not, terrified that everyone around you, even those who love you, will realize that you're a monster." She shook her head and studied Dr. Archeville, her costume slowly retreating back into a more normal outfit. "Anyway, I suppose I can understand their desire for privacy. Anything else I can do for you, Doctor?"

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...