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  1. 11 points
    wcw43921

    Black Widow

    A couple of scenes I would like to see in the Black Widow movie-- We begin with an ending--specifically the ending of The Avengers at the shawarma scene-- An adorable little red-haired girl comes up to Natasha-- "You're one of the heroes, aren't you?" Natasha smiles wearily. "I don't know as I'd say I was a hero--" "Can I have your autograph?" Natasha sighs. "Honey, I really don't think that's a--" Then she trails off when she catches sight of Tony Stark across the table nodding his head and mouthing the words "Yes! Sign It! Come On!" She looks back at the little girl and sees the beginnings of disappointment in her eyes. "Okay, sure," says Natasha, and takes the piece of paper the girl offers her. "What's your name?" "Tasha." Natasha looks at her incredulously for a moment, then thinks for a moment and writes on the paper. She hands it back to Tasha, and she reads what's written out loud. "To Tasha--Keep Fighting The Good Fight--Best Always--The BLACK WIDOW!" Tasha's eyes light up like Times Square. "That is so cool! I'm gonna tell all my friends I got an autograph from the Black Widow!" She launches herself at Natasha and gives her a big hug. "Thank You, Black Widow!" As she runs off, Natasha looks after her until Stark speaks again. "You see? It feels good to get recognized for a good job." "Especially when you've earned it," says Steve Rogers, who offers Tony his hand. "I owe you an apology. I was wrong about you." "You don't owe me anything," replies Tony. "But you could pick up the tab." "Sorry," smiles Steve, "I left my wallet in my other suit." "You have another suit?" jokes Tony, and they laugh at each other while Natasha looks off thoughtfully, trying to deal with what just happened. Scant hours before she was Natasha Romanoff, agent of SHIELD and spy without a country. Now--she's the Black Widow, defender of New York and one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. I'd also like a scene with Melinda May. Something in a dive bar, I think-- "If it isn't the Black Widow." "If it isn't the Cavalry." "You know I don't like that name." "Don't know why. As far as code names go, it's pretty solid. Besides--isn't Chun Li taken?" "Oh, you're funny." "Thanks. I'm thinking of a career in stand-up comedy." The bartender--who bears a remarkable resemblance to Stan Lee--steps up. "Ladies--whattya drinkin'?" "Whiskey," they say in unison. "Straight up." "What, no vodka?" says May. "What am I, a cliche? (Switches to Russian accent) You vant I should be chasing after Moose and Squirrel, dahlink?" May laughs. "Now that's funny." "I got a million of 'em." Or something like that.
  2. 11 points
    mattingly

    Octopus

  3. 10 points
    Logan.1179

    Funny pics

    This is wrong on so many levels.
  4. 9 points
    If I may, I'd like to add to this with my own personal anecdote... I've been a comic book fan for nearly fifty years. I've been collecting reading, trying to write them, and certainly playing out superhero fantasies for close to 40 of those. This current wave of superhero pop-culture dominance is something I couldn't have imagined even ten years ago, especially having been a kid who had his comics torn up by a "friend" who thought they were silly, and was punched in the mouth for liking Star Wars in 1977. To have us comic nerds having "won the culture war" in this way still baffles me... but I can say that when I sat through Winter Soldier for the first time, I felt an inkling of what others might say about representation. I finally saw on the screen everything I'd seen and felt in comics since I was a kid. Here was a couple of serious movie makers, taking classic characters, and doing them right on nearly every level, while telling a serious spy-movie, with serious actors taking everything I'd ever enjoyed... seriously. I certainly didn't need to see more white guys on film to feel represented, but I did feel a touch of "Yes... they get it. They understand why this can be so damn cool" type of validation. It felt good. My wife, her own type of nerd, enjoyed it, but didn't really get why I was so enthused. Then she saw Wonder Woman. Both of us went in a little leery... me because DC movies suck (usually)... and her because she understood the stakes of WW being good or not. At the end, I was happily, very pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable WW was. Beside me, my wife was weeping openly. So were many women in the theater. She looked at me and said, "We have to see that again. Right away." The movie was a religious experience for her. I'd bought her GNs of the classic Perez' run (she hates reading floppies) and she'd begun enjoying them... now she devoured them. We've seen the movie several times, and she and her friends have watched it. We don't buy movies, but I bought her WW for Christmas. She devoured the Perez' issues, read the current YA Wonder Woman novel (loved it) and is in the middle of Rucka's first run on WW, and can't get enough. She has read and shared every article about the movie. It moved her. It inspired her. It meant something to her sense of self, far beyond being an enjoyable superhero flick. Obviously it did the same for many others, and that is why Wonder Woman is important. It has been fascinating to be so close, and get to experience (second hand at least) what "representation" means and looks like, and how it really affects someone. To Lord Liaden's point... it doesn't have to effect me the same way to be a great movie... and certainly the impact on me is not the judge of its importance. I can at least understand now, on a more visceral level, not just intellectually... how Black Panther "means" something way beyond what I can personally experience, and that my opinion of the "meaning" of that movie is correctly and deservedly "less" than other people's. I have a feeling I will love Black Panther in my own way... Coogler's "Fruitville Station" and "Creed" are both tremendous films, and I've been reading Black Panther since Jungle Action and the Avengers in the '70s. (Sadly, do not have a FF #52 in my collection.) I also understand that this movie means WAY less for me than for a lot of other people, and that's ok... good in fact. Important things have meaning on many different levels. My wife and I bought tickets within twenty minutes of pre-sale, and we'll see it on the 15th, and hopefully enjoy it. We'll discuss it, pick it apart, and debate it, like we always do. Then we'll go home and watch Wonder Woman again... most likely.
  5. 9 points
    There are, arguably, better-made superhero films than Wonder Woman. But that movie wasn't just an entertainment, it was an event. It was a cultural touchstone that connected with much of its audience, particularly women, in ways no movie in its genre ever had before. Just from the responses I'm seeing from the people who have viewed Black Panther so far, I expect that to do the same for black audiences. You're right that a movie only needs to be entertaining. But if it has a deeper impact than that, then it becomes an important movie. And not having that impact for everyone won't make it less important.
  6. 9 points
    Old Man

    Funny pics

  7. 9 points
    DasBroot

    Greatest American Hero Reboot

    Believe it or not, it'll succeed or will fail I guess we'll just have to wait and see-ee Fan patience isn't a virtue - buzz is the key Diverse or just PCeee? If it gets to air we will see
  8. 9 points
    Starlord

    Wonder Woman

    It wasn't just the helmets, this woman (shown below) kept appearing and ruined the historical authenticity of this WW1 documentary for me. Its like they were showing a completely alternate universe or something!
  9. 9 points
    Hermit

    Who wins Squirrel Girl vs Batman

    Here's how it goes down , roughly, in my headcanon (Boom) Batman knocks Tippy Joe from a tree in his pursuit of justice! The squirrel gives a yip of pain from the fall, and Squirel Girl comes to see what happened! She learns of the Dark Knight's reckless lack of empathy for rodents everywhere [Treebeard Voice]"A bat should know better[/Treebeard voice] Batman defeats his foe, only to get attacked by Squirel Girl! His years of training, gadgets, and strategems should mean he would win, but it seems every move he tries is countered or thwarted. Sometimes by squirrels at the most inconvenient places, other times just bad luck. Batman is losing, and indeed, must cede the victory by fleeing from Squirrel girl. But, he is the king of prep and training. In the batcave he learns more of this Squirel Girl, her record, her history. And comes to the conclusion her true power is winning against insane odds. Somehow, she affects things beyond probabllty to make it happen. Her powers affect the situation on a quantum level. There is only one way to defeat her. Leaving Gotham in Nightwing's hands, he trains for months ! he learns the ways of the brutal Gray Squirrels of the Pine Barrens, and studies the cultural wisdom of the red squirrels of Scotland. It is among the teachers of the flying squirrels where he truly flourishes! After the season of learning is done, he patrols ready for the rematch. Dressed as a giant squirrel. He encounters Squirrel Girl who is ready to finish that fight for the wrong he done to Tippy Joe! Batman pulls out the move so sneaky, so unbatman, that no one expects it from him! He apologizes, not just to Squirrel Girl, but Tippy Joe, and explains how he was sorry, at the time of the incident thousands of humans AND Squirrels were in danger from the Joker's latest plan to release a toxic gas in the park. That, he says is why he was so focused on getting the bad guy, but if he had only apologized after none of this need have happened. Squirrel Girl? She begins to cry, and say no, no, SHE was the one who was wrong. "I was so angry at you, so set on Revenge that I let it drive me towards obsession, and gloomy brooding! What sort of superhero forgets to ENJOY the world and celebrate what they're protecting in order to instead wallow in angsty misery?" Bruce says "um well, maybe they lost someone and ah…" She waves him off "No need to make excuses for me. I became bitter and unfun, sourhearted and jaded!! Oh it was terrible! I was terrible. I'm sorry, Batman in a Squrrel Suit! I way over reacted, but I want to thank you, thank you for reminding me what being a hero should be! Warm, friendly, and ready to kick evil's butt not because of rage and trauma, but because golly, we've got to keep this wonderful world wonderful. " And she hugs him, her tail causing him to sneeze as it slaps his face. Batman had figured out the way to beat Squirrel Girl was to have her not want to win! So victory once more…kind of, grumble… maybe. HE's gonna go home and have a lobster , he's earned this. Lobster and a batsulk over his 'victory'
  10. 9 points
    wcw43921

    Funny pics

  11. 9 points
    Logan.1179

    Funny pics

  12. 9 points
    Hermit

    Wonder Woman

    I Mod Hat: Let's play nice and not go with the insults just because someone disagrees. As far as I am aware, direct insults are still something I'm supposed to step on. Maybe someone doesn't think Antifa is all that great an organization, it doesn't mean they're profacist, any more than someone not liking some Men's rights groups automatically makes them a misandrist.
  13. 8 points
    Pariah

    Funny pics

    Hurmmmm.
  14. 8 points
    Bazza

    Funny pics

  15. 8 points
    Ayup. I mean, we're an amazing nation, but let's not pretend Norwegians are looking at our news and going "Yeah, that's exactly where I want to go" Norway is doing great. Barring a possible attack from Putin's Russia or something, it needs the US about as much a yeti needs an Air conditioner. Of course the countries that have problems are where folks are coming from. That doesn't make them ****hole nations, it makes them poor nations with problems. Haiti isn't anymore a ****hole nation for having earthquakes and poverty than parts of California are ****hole for having Wildfires and PETA or Texas is for having Floods earlier and Dallas Traffic. I'm against illegal immigration but sympathetic to those who try it. I am FOR Legal Immigration, particularly as part of helping those downtrodden who need help and a chance. Could we get maybe a billion bucks thrown into our processing system that helps applicants become American citizens faster? How about that, law AND the Dream. But no, Trump clearly has his idea of what's acceptable, and it looks racist, and just as bad, like if you don't come in wearing a nice suit he'd just as soon you never get into the club. Trump's a racist, if that was the limit of his disdain for his fellow humans, I'd be disgusted and worried that we had a president who fit that in the 21st Century. Say what you want about Bush Jr, but the efforts he made to help African nations speak well of him. But Trump's not JUST a racist. He's sexist. He's a classist. He's an elitist in every way, and yet has none of the right to be smug about it. He's an uncultured swine who had pearls cast before him when he was young and used that start to bully more treasures from others and claims he's self made. He values strength above all, and attacks anyone who shows him as weak in any area. He throws folks in pits in order to stand taller, and he shows no loyalty to any unless they do something for him, while whining like a schoolboy when folks refuse to kowtow. Dear Norwegians, please do yourselves a favor and don't come here for another 3 to 7 years.. We'd love to have you, but the truth is? We're not dressed in our best. And to those countries that fall under the category of ****hole by Trump's standards? If you've seen his standards, on ethics, on honor, on decency, you'll realize you don't really WANT his approval.
  16. 8 points
    If we elect produce, we can make America grape again!
  17. 8 points
    MCU: Minutiae about whether Thanos looks too much like Josh Brolin. DCU: Batman shoots and brands people while Superman levels cities and then dies.
  18. 8 points
    Enforcer84

    Funny pics

    Ahem: This Mac Supports Windows. *bows* *leaves*
  19. 8 points
    wcw43921

    Funny pics

  20. 8 points
    Pariah

    Funny pics

  21. 8 points
    Pariah

    Funny pics

    I think Lady P is in charge of the cranberries this year....
  22. 8 points
    (Continued, rough draft so errors will abound. comments still welcome) People assume that if you have a Southern accent you must have grown on a farm. The truth of the matter is while I have family with farms, I am hardly an expert on poultry. Chicken coops stink, I know that much, so after I grasped the immensity of this things size, I then became illuminated to the intensity of the stench that wafted from it as feathers flew. "Oh," I made a face after getting the big man back inside a building, "You are one foul fowl. Now let's calm down, and not eat anyone okay? Nice rooster, good rooster, rather rank rooster" I continued in a voice I hoped sounded soothing while still getting the attention of the Brobdingnagian bird. Not respecting my extensive vocabulary, the damn thing kicked me a good sixty feet in the air and smashed me through the window of a second-floor apartment. There was the shattering of glass, a woman's scream, and I looked up to see an open bathroom door and a woman desperately reaching for a towel. I averted my eyes from her and apologized, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, giant chicken!" I pointed to the window! "That is no excuse! Chanel 3 always said heroes were menaces and I always thought they were too rough on you guys, but I'm starting to have serious," Her eyes drifted to follow where I was pointing "It's a giant chicken!" Her eyes widened as an angry avian approached. "What I said!" I reminded, "Get back in the bathroom, close the door, and lay low." "The size of that pecker is huge," She gaped. I was being so good right now, I thought before saying "Bathroom, lay low. Thanks." And I leapt from the window projecting myself with superstrong legs to punch the chicken right in the head! I hoped to line up the trajectory, so it fell on the street and not the buildings. I didn't quite get the English on it right, and the thing staggered back into a street light! This thing wasn't just big and strong, it could take a punch that would go through steel! And yes, I'm aware some animal lovers would be appalled that I just risked what might have been a killing blow on a chicken. To which I ask if you've ever eaten out of a bucket? If you have, then you have no moral high ground. Zero. Zip. "Cock-a-doodle-do!" I said and made scratching motions as I tried to lead it away. An area with warehouses would be best. Some of those are empty half the year. It's why villains often squat there. I needed to get this thing away from the heavier populated area. Apparently megachicken did not like my scratching the ground, miming a rooster. In fact he really, really, looked quite pissed. "Buh-Ka!" it bellowed and charged. "And here we go," I said breaking into a full run of my own. In the past I've often lamented my lack of mobility compared to some other heroes who can run at superspeed, fly, or even teleport. To compensate for this, I've been practicing my sprinting. Unlike my swimming speed I won't be breaking any records for that. Have you ever tried outrunning a fifty-foot tall anything? Talk about a wide stride, that damn chicken was on me much faster than I intended. I'd barely gotten another quarter of a block. From the window of another building I could see someone using their phone to record me. Well, if I had any dignity in this before, and I'm not sure how I could. Fish Guy runs from Fowl Giant- Film at Eleven. I leaped, hoping to get some more distance. Superstrength in the legs means you can really hop when you have to; but the damn thing caught me in mid air! One moment I was hitting Olympic high jump levels of altitude, and then SNAP there was pain. A lot of pain. The beck hadn't just clamped down on me, it was actually cutting through the skin of the right leg it had trapped and was squeezing harder. What the hell had empowered this thing? I could only imagine what the spurs would do. If I wasn't hurting and embarrassed both, I might have had the presence of mind to joke about getting a leg up in the world, and certainly threats about eleven secret herbs and spices in the fowl's future would surely have flowed. As it was, I wasn't on top of my quip game. Heck, I didn't even think to call the giant rooster 'Chicken not so little' "Let go!" I said and reared my free leg up and plowed it in the side of the face with the force of a wrecking ball. And when it didn't work the first time, I did it again, and again. Third time being the charm the chicken cried out in pain and dropped me. The bird was really at the multiple shots to its head. And I? I plummeted to the ground from nearly fifty in the air, slamming into the street below with all the grace of a bean bag with dreams of flight. I rolled to my feet feeling more than a bit tender. I needed to keep pulling this thing away from the populated areas. Protecting innocents is priority one for the New Samaritans. Even if those innocents are idiots. The news van's lights caught Megachicken's attention right away. That, combined with the movement, really drew its attention away from me. And that was something nobody could afford. Megachicken charged towards this new target and the driver of the van got a panicked look in his face and tried to turn despite the reporter screaming in his ear that they couldn't leave without the story- Smart Driver. I needed its attention again. And to save whatever members of the fourth estate that didn't have the sense to stay away from Poultry that could quite literally bite their heads off. Seizing the bent streetlamp, I tore it all the way out and whipped it around with what I hoped was a challenging bellow and throw it like a drunken Scottish American on steroids at a highland games contest. It struck the back of the chicken where it bent and warped before sliding off the dirty feathers of the beast. I don't know how much the throw hurt it, if at all, but it did cast one baleful eye my way and the chicken chase was on again. I was going slower than before, of course. A wounded leg will do that to you, but at least we were almost at the warehouses and, praise the lord, the news crew wasn't closing in again. They can be taught. I also noticed the chicken was shaken a little, maybe not as quick as it was before after all. That was gratifying. When I kick something in the head, it keeps the old ego bolstered to know said kick is having an effect. That said, it was still gaining again. Possibly because I was challenging it. "Hey, Buhkaw!" I said over shoulder and held up my hands over my head in what I hoped looked like a bristling comb mimicry. "BuhKaw!" Megachicken thundered back. No, he did not like this challenge at all. I made another jump, well, hop, towards the warehouse avoiding falling under another talon lash. One more jump and we were in the warehouse parking lot. Not a car was in sight, no lights in the building were on. I was safe to cut loose and then some. I turned around and this time when the damn bird tried to kick me, I ran under its legs and took a shot at the right drumstick while the left was upraised. Tough this thing was, but it still needed support and balance. So Roostersaurus came a tumbling down. I nearly got pinned underneath it. Wouldn't that be a hoot? But I had room to move now. I could cut loose, and let me tell you something, aching leg or not? It felt good! Another leap, another punch to the creature's head and this it felt! Only feathers were really masking the massive bruises I was now inflicting on this thing. It began to stand up, I tore feathers on my way to prevent myself from falling. They were slick, stinky, and gross and I was going to need a shower after this. I gave him a belly shot on my way down and it staggered again even as I landed. "That's right, big guy, I've been going easy on you up till now," I grabbed a leg, braced, and exerted myself. I was about to lift something heavier than a post office building. I should know, I had a basis for comparison. I lifted megachicken up off its feet! And was already to flip it on its back again! What happened next, I did not expect. I should have, but I didn't. There was an intense rush of wind, a foul-smelling torrent of air, accompanied by sounds akin to muffled thunder, and I? I was rising off the ground. There was a good reason for that. The now panicking chicken was trying to fly! I don't know if whatever had increased its wing size had made it possible, but by the Spirit of the Colonel himself, the damn thing was taking off. And taking me with it. This is my life. "Oh, come on!" I called out as we took to the air together. We were going up, up, and over the warehouse I had worked so hard to lead it to. Then we began to go down again. I don't know. Maybe the chicken got tired. Maybe the forces of science finally noticed and said: This is just too much. No. Just no. So here we were about to nest on a warehouse. There was no way that roof was going to hold her weight. I guess it wouldn't be superheroing if there wasn't some property damage. Still, I winced as I dropped down to the warehouse, not because my leg was pounding already and landing from that height stung, but because I knew what was happening next. Well, I thought I knew what was happening next. Yes, Megachicken fell down on the warehouse roof. Yes, the roof began almost immediately to buckle and break under it. It flapped furiously and fell through. I could see all that happening. What I didn't see coming was the woman levitating over the chicken, and then suddenly plummeting down like a human cannonball. Once it began, I had quite the show. There was a horrendous crack, and I think said lady gave the rooster a concussion. Its huge eyes widened, and then it went out. The costumed woman slid rapidly at first, then suddenly slowed and drifted through the air like a ghost towards me. Just as quickly she dropped before me, grabbed me to bring my head down, and decided she wanted to steal a good chunk of the oxygen in my lungs as she laid one hell of a kiss on me. "Hi," She said when she parted. I grinned down at her, "Nice costume." What wasn't to like? The costume was green and red, with a few gold touches to break things up. Her emerald top had a V cut edged in gold which showed a tasteful and appealing flash of cleavage but not anything you'd worry about coming part at the first time she got knocked end over end. The red leggings under a gold belt also worked out nicely and, as she wasn't stupid, the boots did not have high heels. It was form fitting and functional, and she even had gloves of gold and green to keep those pesky finger prints from betraying her. The Mask went down to bottom of the nose level. "Thanks I," She made a face at something, "What's that smell?" "That would be the giant chicken you just clambered all over," I said, "And that I was fighting before that." I started to pull her in for another kiss, but she was having none of it. "No, no, sorry, not until we've both had a shower or bath, ugh," a firm shake of the head no. "Are you telling I can't kiss or touch you again because of filthy fifty foot tall rooster?" I raised a brow. "that's what I'm saying," Ariana nodded. Ariana is not a tall woman, and she's pretty, so much to her annoyance sometimes every little thing she does is adorable. Combine that with what I said and, I couldn't help what slipped out of my mouth next. "Gives a whole new definition to cock-blocked" I grinned. She groaned "Okay, you just blocked yourself, I'll decide how long." I grinned at that "Now, you're being mean, miss…" A thought occurred to me, "Wait, what's your superhero name? I mean, I hope you already picked one?" "I sure did," She grinned, "Say hello to the newest member of the New Samaritans, Valorosa!" Ariana, that is, Valorosa, struck an exaggerated heroic pose. "Valarosa? I-" Then the metaphorical lightbulb came on over my head. I had learned some more Spanish words since dating Ariana "Wait, isn't that Spanish for Valorous?" "Si," She dimpled, "Your Spanish is really coming along. Though to be fair that is an easy one. Valorosa is indeed the feminine form of Valorous. I kind of stole his name. It’s a good one, and that jerk certainly didn't deserve it." "Kind of?" I raised a brow, "Does Arctic Fox know about this?" "Know about it?" Valorosa replied, "Who do you think suggested it?" "Of course, she did," I said, shook my head, and began to chuckle. Trust the men girl for justice to get a bit of her own back. You know, normally I don't believe in stealing a superhero's name, but in the end? Valorous had been no hero. He had broken Ariana's arm, in fact, and might have killed her if he felt he had to for his "mission". There are a lot of things I regret in this life. Beating the holy snot out of Valorous and taking his amplifier tech off him? Not even close. And the more I remembered, the more I wanted to punch him again. I could only imagine how rightfully ticked Arctic Fox felt. Yeah, Valorous didn't deserve that name. The Authorities began to come in, firemen, police, and animal control. Exactly what they were going to do with a fifty-foot-tall chicken? I don't know. But the news tonight was going to be interesting. Valorosa was frowning her chocolate eyes intent. I followed the gaze and realized she was looking at the wounds on my leg. "I'll heal up in the shower" I promised. "Mmph," She said, "Another reason for you to take one." "Wash my back?" I grinned broadly. "Eww, no," Then a slip of a smile escaped, "But once you've got the first layer off, I might let you wash mine? Would that be too daunting a task for the mighty Eel?" "It's a tough job," my grin widened, "But a man's got to do what a man's got to do." "My hero" She said dramatically. We left before the press could be allowed closer by the Authorities. Ariana believed, and I had to agree, that fighting a fifty-foot-tall rooster should not be your first act on record as a superhero. The media would get the word on Valorosa another day. The shower was wonderful, thank you, and obviously for reasons that went well beyond getting clean or even regeneration. Ariana likes to complain I rushed the first kiss between us all because we defeated a bad guy together. But she kissed back! About two months into our relationship, we got serious, as in, all the way serious. It was a more mature relationship than I'd been in in, well, perhaps ever, and rather than getting scared about where this was going, I found myself kind of thoughtful about that very thing. Then again, I've been burned by romance as much as anyone else. Don't rush things, Caleb. We had gone to the base, so Mabel chiming in on the wall did not surprise me, "Hey there you two, I'm assuming it's two?" Ariana blush prettily at that, and said "Yes, and you know that. Is the team back from their diplomatic meeting?" "Yes, and speaking of meetings," Mabel hinted, "There's one up in the next ten minutes. All Sammies expected." "We'll be there," I assured "Thanks, Mabel." The light that was active whenever Mabel was 'in' a room went off, and I smiled at Ariana, "Lot can be done in ten minutes." "yes," She agreed, "But can it be done well? Let's get dressed. What we can do? We can get fully dressed in clean clothes," A light pat and it looked like that was the plan despite my hopes. Oh well, can't blame a guy for trying for a round two right? What could I say, I'm flesh and blood, young and male, and I maybe in love with her. This is a combination that leads to romantic poetry or at least bawdy hip hop. But here I was hiking on clothes and making sure I was respectable enough for our little group talk. The base was built into an old mall. At first I was surprised, but after I got over that, I started to realize how brilliant that was. A lot of old malls are dying, but the size is huge, and for those that were closed, they have an area of parking space nowhere near a house or private business. In short, innocents won't be endangered unless we have guests, and most folks don't know about the place. Add to that super tech and this is a really nice set up. And the rooms here are so much nicer than my apartment it is hard not using this place as my main residence instead of the secondary one. The others were waiting in what had once been a food court. Everyone was there, though not everyone was in costume. Lady Obsidian, for example, was dressed in her usual professional classy casual combo. The oldest member of our team, Doctor Vivian Vernon was also our leader. She'd been at this longer than any of us. But even she could be surprised. "A fifty-foot-tall chicken is all over the news, the square cube law has been repealed so often I think it's merely a guideline now" She sighed.
  23. 7 points
    (Continued) The others were staring at us, six-inch-tall Pinprick's tiny face had a huge smirk on it, Tornado just had a cheese eating grin he wasn't even trying to hide either. Arctic Fox had a look more like the one you give to that weird kid who keeps making strange stuff out of glue when he takes a seat at class. I sighed, "All right, the rest of you get it out of your system." "What the hell went through your mind," Tornado broke into laughter, "When you first saw that thing?" "Mostly why does this weird B.S. keep happening to me? " I answered honestly. "Why does this weird B.S. keep happening to you?" Arctic Fox inquired, "Seriously, we talk to aliens, but oh no, that's too mundane for Eel. You have to get tangling with a chickenasaur" "I was going to call it Megachicken, actually, and I don't know," I shrugged, "Clean living? God loves me extra special? I was born lucky but I'm not sure what kind of luck?" "Are you going to want to eat chicken more than before, or is it ruined for you forever?" Pinprick had to ask. "Actually," I paused and had to think about it, and then answered, "I think I'll be chowing down on chickens a lot more for at least a week? I guess it's kind of petty and vengeful, but that nasty bird gave me quite the scratch and I didn't like it," I nodded, "He wounded my leg. Blood for blood, drumstick for drumstick, by Krom." "What do you see in him again?" Arctic Fox looked at Ariana, "It can't be his promising career in standup." "Speaking of careers, I did have to quit," I said, "No Meaty Minstrel for me after the way I bailed." "Isn't that like your third job in a month?" Ariana asked, suddenly looking serious, "Meaty Minstrel, that delivery job, and the that job at the scrap yard?" "Technically that was a month and a week? Why?" I asked confused. "No, no reason" Ariana said but she looked a bit more distant now, "it's fine. Just fine." I was going to follow that up but then she asked the others "So what's the news on the alien side? Trouble?" "You might say that," Lady Obsidian said, "The Hyadesians say Earth is coming under the attention of less enlightened but still powerful beings. Some tend to be more traditional in their conquest." "Not that traditional is good when it means whole cities could be vaporized," Pinprick muttered. "True," Lady Obsidian agreed before going on, "The ones they really warned us about are the Fumians. They're more subtle than some," She sighs. "Shapeshifters that take over our government?" I guessed. I know it's lame of me, but I was curious. "What, and improve the city's efficiency?" Pinprick smiled, "No, these guys are a real threat. Their Method of operation is far more insidious." "Well, don’t' keep us hanging," Ariana threw her hands up, "What do these Fumians do that makes them such a dire threat to the whole planet?" "They sell people what they want," Tornado explained Okay, I'm not sure that explained anything, at least not to me; not at first mention, "So?" I shrugged, "They're operating a business without a permit? This is a threat?" Arctic Fox rolled her eyes, "Rookie, come on. I don't expect you to know the story of Faust, but maybe you've read Needful things? At least heard of the proverbial deal with the devil?" "They're centuries ahead over most Earth," Dr. Vernon explained, "Even in the superhero community what they can do might appear like magic." "And since all of us have seen magic," Pinprick went on, "That's saying something." "Oh," it began to sink in. I began to think of what aliens with technology could offer earthlings. What if you wanted something to finally shut up that obnoxious neighbor's entertainment system that he played way too loud every night? Maybe you wanted a shorter commute time? Everyone wants flying cars, but how many people would know how to handle them? "So, it's a buyer beware kind of situation?" "Precisely," Lady Obsidian elaborated, "And human money is only one form of payment. They take goods and or services that can have you ending up being a slave on some far away planet in the name of debt repayment. The Fumians are a menace, and they're all the more dangerous because they appeal to what's worst in any population." "How do we even stop that?" Ariana asked the very question I was thinking myself, "I mean, if they lay low and give folks what they want for whatever price…" "The same way we track down drug dealers and the like if we have to," Tornado explained, "We look for the symptoms, and then track the cause. When they cause trouble, we find the humans that dealt with them and see how they got in contact. This is going to take some detective work, some patience, and, " He gritted his teeth, "It may end up with some people hurt that we wish we could have protected." "It bites, but it's how it is," Pinprick nodded, "Buuuuutt," He stretched it out to get our attention, "We might uncover something in our patrols. Maybe one of us will get a chance to find a deal in progress before it can be concluded? It's a long shot, but we're superheroes. Beating the odds is what we do." There were some smiles. I know we superheroes are prone to a lot of 'lets go get em' and 'the power of team work' 'arroo' kind of stuff, but you need that. You need to believe you can do the impossible because in this life, being asked to do the impossible will happen. And you're probably going to be one of the few that can actually try to pull it off. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, saving the living, bring justice for the dead and shed tears into your beer mugs when you get a chance to breathe. Then start it all over again. That's how you get by in this business, at least, in theory. Some guys never do. I've heard stories of superheroes who saved hundreds, lost a dozen and could never get over the dozen lost. I'm not sure I could either. I've been lucky. My dad used to say that how you dealt with your victories that proved if you could be a gentleman. It was how you dealt your losses that proved you could be a man. Dad cheers for a lot of losing sports teams. "So, what do these Fumians look like?" I asked. "Anything they want, technically" Lady Obsidian answered, "Thanks to holographic technology they can look like your standard run of the mill native born Earthman or Earthwoman, they can blend in, make a deal, shift appearances again and lose you." "So, they are shapeshifters" I said, "Kind of. Well, that difficulty level just got trickier." "Actually," Our team leader continued, "that's where the Hyadesians did us a solid. They gave us the frequency range of the holo-emitters. I can work with that," she steepled her fingers, "I can do a lot with that." "Now, Vivian, tilt your head and laugh manically, mwhahaha, embrace your inner mad scientist!" Tornado exulted. We all stared at him. "Fine, let the evil scientists have all the fun," Tornado sulked. "So embarrassing," Ariana sighed. While they were close in age, Valentino was her uncle, and no one can make you sigh like family. To many in the city, Tornado is a swashbuckling super fast flying marital artist who men wanted to be, and women wanted to be with. To Ariana, besides her own father, he was the second greatest source of 'dad jokes'. And, of course, either one would die for the other. Which was a potential problem. Ariana was Valorosa now. She would be fighting by our sides, endangering her life right in front of us. Superheroes protect their team mates, but priority is innocents first, and team mates after. Would Tornado be able to remember that rule for his own niece? I had to wonder. Finally, Lady Obsidian did chuckle, "Well, I do have one or two plans that might allow me to get my mad scientist on, but I'll hold it in reserve. The good news is I should be able to at least hook the team up with scanners of a sort that will let us see through their illusions so identify them. Odds are better than they're expecting. Now, their actual appearance is rather fishlike-" "Oh, come on!" I blurted before I thought about it, then looked sheepish "Sorry, but we didn't we just do the underwater races attack bit?" "Relax, hos," Pinprick smirked, "They're air breathers, just their scales are more like fish scales than reptile scales." "I was going to say 'in some ways'" Lady Obsidian nodded, "if I may continue?" "Sorry," I said sheepishly. "Fishlike in some ways, but they are airbreathers, and have some reptilian aspects as well such as a literal forked tongue but very human eyes. They're also shorter than the average Earthlings-" "Nothing wrong with that," Pinprick shot a challenging look to the rest of us just to try to say something. "-and not really that strong, though they have gear that can more than compensate," Lady Obsidian finished, "They tend to place profit above all else and yes, they boast about their culture all the time." "Like Americans on Steroids, man" Valentino shook his head. "Valentino," I pointed out, "You're an American too." "And I got an ego the size of Texas so, at least half right," he countered. None of us could argue with that. "Mabel," Dr. Vernon inquired, "Any reports from the authorities about the giant Chicken? Megachicken? Whatever we're calling it?" "They found where the rampage began, at a property used for illegal cock fighting" Mabel answered promptly. "No wonder that thing was so mean," I realized, almost feeling sorry for the dumb bird, "It was bred and raised to be. Was anyone hurt?" "Yes, one of the men at the property was killed, another is in intensive care," Mabel said adding, "Sorry, sweet things." I winced. I knew, logically, that I couldn't save lives where I wasn't there to save them. I knew that there was a certain dark irony, maybe even a twisted form of karma, in a man who did such a thing to animals becoming prey to one. But, a guy died. Another might yet. And I wished that wasn't the case. Ariana was also wincing. "Well, our condolences to the loved ones of the lost and wounded," Lady Obsidian just summed it up quickly then said, "Anything else regarding how it got so large, or the authorities, local and federal, are dealing with it?" "Federal wants to cart it off in a few weeks to study, Local , well," Mabel says, "They have a request for Pinprick to come by and-" "Shrink it down to regular chicken size or smaller again," Pinprick laughed, "Yeah, should have seen that coming. Frankly, I'm with them. I can reduce its size and power both. Besides, not sure sedation will work forever. Can you imagine the size of the pills they're got to be shoving into that thing's gizzard just to keep it out?" "I think they'll use a liquid form," I told him pragmatically. "It's always liquid with your Fish Guys, isn't it?" Pinprick said. I sighed. Yeah, they had my back, but my team still thought of me as the new guy, and I'd take a little hazing yet. Who am I kidding? Ribbing each other was part of how some of us coped with the stress. I'd always get poked at a little, still, I could give as good as I got. "Well, agreed it wouldn't be a small dose," I answered, "Whatever form of medication they're using, they could come up short. They could probably use a little help" "Ha ha," Pinprick grinned, "Nice to see they finally descended," A look to Lady Obsidian, "Can I shoot him now?" "You started it, Pinprick," Our team leader reminded, "Now if you two boys are done playing? I would like us to act like professional superheroes here? Or is that too much to ask from two supposedly grown men?" "Sorry, Viv," Pinpricks said, and meant it. Pinprick gave lip to almost everyone, and could be a mean-spirited son of a beach, but he'd walk through hellfire for Lady Obsidian. She'd given him a chance when no one else would. As far as Pinprick was concerned, the good doctor could do no wrong, and I could see why. Ironic that Lady O herself had told me that could be a problem. She'd hinted she wanted me to keep her on even keel and let her know when she crossed a line. I still wasn't sure what to make of that. Jokes and macho displays aside, being the voice of conscience to one of the most respected superheroines on the planet was a heady concept. And I was sure that there were dozens of folks in the superhero world who could do better. Maybe hundreds. "Eel?" An ahem from her. I came back to the here and now which was a lot less spooky than the what might have to come into play. I knew my line. "Sorry, Doctor. Sorry, Pinprick," I said with a head bob, "Back on the matters at hand? I," then it hit me, "Wait, what if the Fumians are behind the giant chicken?" "Pardon?" She asked. "Where did that come from?" Arctic Fox raised a brow. "Just now," I admitted, "Think about it, what would someone who runs cock fights want? A bigger stronger co… err Rooster." "Nice save," Tornado muttered low. "Thanks," I replied. "That actually fits," Lady Obsidian said after a moment, "I think when the survivor is healthy enough to talk to, one of us needs to talk to him. Who wants to check out the location where it first grew to that size and dig around? I'd do it myself, but I need to start work on that frequency." "I've got to go try to shrink that chicken," Pinprick said, "or I'd volunteer to look around." "I'll put some of my detective skills to work," Tornado offered, "Anyone want to work with me?" Ariana didn't miss a beat, "Take me, I could use some pointers in investigating a crime scene. I want to be well rounded now that I'm fully in the game." My jaw opened, "I was hoping we could –" "You're with me, Rookie," Arctic Fox cut in, "With Lady Obsidian working the tech, Pinprick unsupersizing the chicken meal, and those two on detective work, it's up to us to patrol the city and make a show that superheroes are still active in Costa Sagrado." "Sounds like a plan then, everyone gear up and do what they need to do," Lady Obsidian nodded rising, "And make sure you take time for food and sleep in whatever order you need it. It won't do us any good to do this on half energy." And the group began to break up, to my surprise, Ariana wasn't waiting for me. Hell, she wasn't even slowing down. "Ariana?" I asked, preparing to ask if we could talk. She flashed me a smile, but there was something forced about it, "I had a meal, thanks. I'll catch you later, I need to get a fresh costume on." And just like that, she waved, gave me another forced smile, and started to pull away. I started to follow anyway. Something was going on, I think? And I didn't like it. We needed to straighten this thing out. Then I slipped on the ice and flopped on my ass while she was turning the corner. On the ice? "The hell, Arctic Fox?" I glared at the cold weave brunette and artificially white streaked hair. "You were about to make a mistake," She informed me, "You were about to force an issue and she's not even ready to tell you what the issue is." "I kind of need to know, don't I?" I said getting up with a scowl. I wasn't sure this was any of her damn business, whatever 'it' was. All I knew is that something happened that had Ariana seeking some distance from me right now and I couldn't fix what she wouldn't talk about. So, we needed to talk. Right? Then Arctic Fox, as if telepathy were one of her powers, said those words that stopped me in my pursuit and guaranteed I'd go along with her on any patrol she wanted. "I'll tell you what is bothering her," Fox said with an exasperated tone as if she were trying to gather up water into Helen Keller's hands in hope she's notice what should be obvious. "Yeah?" I said intelligently. "Yeah, only when we're on patrol. Go get changed into a fresh costume yourself, and let's hit the streets. Then, and only then, will I fill you in on why you're a dumb ass." I straightened my back and said with as much dignity as I could manage "It's pronounced Dumas." "Whatever, Alexandre, get your ass in your tights and meet me in the car in five minutes," Arctic Fox strode off with a shake of her head. The very picture of a prom queen stuck with the undignified task of riding herd on the nerds and weirdos. Which is completely unfair of her by the way, because I've always fancied myself the brainy jock type. Five minutes, more or less, later I was in the team's flying car ready to go, "Well?" I looked at Arctic Fox as she slid into the passenger side. "You and Tornado are always quick to grab the driver seat," She sighed, "Boys with toys." "About Ariana and I," I narrowed my eyes. "Once we're up and out and on our way," She pointed upwards, "Not one second before." Sighing, I hit the button, and the roof opened up and the vehicle rose up, up and out, the base closing behind us. In another minute we were over the city streets and on patrol. Patrols were a lot more crapshoot in the old days, but now with algorithms based on crime data and psychological studies and so on, they're more effective than ever. Okay, they're still something a dartboard toss, but at least we're allowed to see the bullseye even if we miss it. Besides, nothing wrong with a quiet night. It would buy me time to get the information I wanted. "So, what the heck did I do to suddenly get the cold shoulder with my girlfriend?" I inquired. "Relax with the cold shoulder talk. She's not trying to give you that, she's just giving distance. You two have been serious of late, right? I mean, I'm not blind. You're two consenting adults, but it goes beyond that," Arctic Fox said. "I think so?" I said cautiously, "I mean, I know I'm thinking it's serious, why did she say something about it being serious?" "She doesn't have to say," Arctic Fox sighed, "Toothbrush in your bathroom?" "What has that to…" I stopped, "Yes, actually. Both of them, the apartment and the room in the base. Which is weird because she totally has her own room at the base and has longer than I've been here." "Clueless," She sighed and continued, "Any of your favorite shirts gone missing?" "She was cold and wanted another layer," I countered. Then again, my STYX T-shirt had been gone for, geeze, had she taken it two weeks ago? And come to think of it, that baby blue button up was gone too. Looked better on her than it did on me, but that wasn't, "Oh my god, she's got at least three of my tops." There was something disturbingly insidious about this whole thing, "She even copied my play list for my work out music," I muttered. "Uh huh, yeah, see, there is a boyfriend, and then there is the boyfriend, and geography is not the point. Ariana has been sneak moving in, testing the waters in ways that should be obvious, but, of course, you're too clueless to catch on. She's committing to you in small ways, but that means she's going beyond the romantic, she's thinking beyond her future, and now thinking about your plural your future. And then you blew off a major factor in your own future right in front of her, and she's got to sort it out before she's sure your future and hers are that tight." "I did what now?" I blinked at her. "Oh my god you are so clueless," Arctic Fox said with a sigh, "You just lost your job. No, you quit your job, and acted like it was nothing. Now, some money is coming in from your Fish Guy, Eel stuff, but that's an iffy thing and not what you wanted to make a career on anyway, and you put a lot of it to charity. The point is, you just basically drove home that your secret identity's career chances mean nothing to you." "I quit Meaty Minstrel! It's a fast food place. The turnover is huge because the pay is bunk for the sucky hours, poor treatment, and yes hard work. There are almost no benefits, zero. And you're telling me she's mad I quit it? That's crazy," I said. "No, you jackass," Arctic Fox sighed, "It's not that job that's important, it's the principle of the thing. You act like Eel is important, and Caleb is just some guy. You don't show any ambition or even eye on any prize as Caleb." "Ariana likes superheroes, that part of me turns her on," I said a bit bluntly, "heck, it used to worry me that was all she saw in me. Eel is the guy who gets her toes curling." "But Caleb," Arctic Fox slapped my shoulder with annoyance, "is the guy she is falling in love with. Moron! And you don't give a crap about Caleb. He's an afterthought. So, she's scared. Eel gets her toes curled? Who cares? She can watch shirtless scenes with some Hollywood studs or read really good romantic fiction for that. Caleb is the guy who, whether he deserves it or not, is getting a grip on her heart. And that is terrifying." I grinned, "You think she's falling in love with me?" Arctic Fox looked at me like she was ready to strangle me right then and there, "Again, you miss the point. Out of the two of you, she is the only one who seems to give a damn about Caleb Lambert." "I am Caleb Lambert," I informed the crazy lady glaring at me, adding, for emphasis "Duh" "Caleb Lambert is just a mask to you," She sniffed, "he's someone Eel puts on to blend in with the common folk." "You? You, of all people are accusing me of elitism?" I said with a touch of an edge in my tone, "I have a non-powered room-mate and pay for an apartment" "Only because the superheroine you most admire told you it would be a good idea, and it would make you a better supehero," She replied, "Caleb has an apartment only because it helps Fish Guy. Caleb has a roommate because Fish Guy needs contact with the normals and that will help him relate better with the 'average citizens'. Caleb is a tool," A pause "In more ways than one. Leaving the super side totally out of it; When's the last time you felt any pride in anything Caleb Lambert has done?" I gaped at her. I stared at her open mouthed. I searched for words, and none were coming. "I can save more lives as Eel," I told her finally. "That wasn't the question," Arctic Fox pointed a finger in my face challenging. "Caleb is, is, that is, he's- that is I am a damned nice guy" I protested. "No argument, and yet still not what I asked you," why was she rubbing my nose into this? "I don't know, I, I try to do the right thing…" "As Eel" "I try to set a good example…" "is Caleb a good example?" Why was she pushing this I didn't have to answer? I didn't owe her an answer. I – I did not want to answer. "Not for a long time," I admitted finally. "I haven't been proud of just Caleb in a long time." "And you wonder why she should be scared of being in love of a guy who doesn't even respect himself? Not fully, not really? You don't look out for yourself, Caleb. And in the battlefield, you look out for Eel, and that means that if it gets serious for Ariana and Caleb, she's going to have to be the one who keeps it real and keeps looking out for you as a couple in the real world because you're sure as hell not going to be. So yeah, you're giving her a lot to think about so either throw her a life saver, or give her some freaking space."
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