lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hamster Man
Series: Battle The Universe
Word Count: 1500
Summary: Chester "Cheeks" Maccio has come from the boonies to see what superheroing is like, and he and Lorry end in a firefight.
Notes: This story takes place after the Gynecologist. It was prompted by contrapangloss, and sponsored by [personal profile] silvercat17 ! Thanks, guys! More notes at the bottom.

“Okay, everyone,” Martial Law said, “this is Chester 'Cheeks' Maccio. He came all the way from Vermont to see the big leagues, so let's give him a big city welcome!”

Cheeks waved. “Hello!”

Even by Law and Justice standards, he stood out a little. His cheeks were round and bulgy, and his skin seemed intended for a man much larger than him, which made him look oddly deflated. He wore a loose belted garment that looked somewhere between a muumuu and a jumpsuit.

“I'm just a small-fish do-gooder at home,” Cheeks continued. “I'm really excited to be here. In fact, as a small token of my appreciation...” he opened his mouth, reached in, and removed a large shrink-wrapped cheese from his cheek, “I brought snacks!”

“That is disgusting,” Lucinda thought, in the back of Lorry's head.

“That is so cool,” TJ thought.

Lorry agreed with them both.

Cheeks wasn't allowed to take part in fights, of course. The lawyers (and Blind Justice) were very strict on that. He was there to watch and learn. Just as well, since it turned out he wasn't a combatant.

“WRJ isn't that big,” he explained on a drive. “We don't even have a public library. I mostly just pick up litter, talk to people, keep an eye on things, sometimes help out in Dartmouth. And I'm part of the Hartford Fire Department!”

TJ had decided that Cheeks was the neatest person ever, so had negotiated some time out to chat. Lorry didn't mind; commute was boring anyway, and Eye was in a different van. (He and Gammabeast each required customized vehicles to accommodate them, and Lorry had long since taken to riding with Gammabeast, who seemed singularly oblivious to any aberrations in vocal inflection or body language.) “That's so cool,” TJ said. “Do you carry gadgets in your cheeks?”

“No, I'd have to wrap them. Saliva, you know; it just wouldn't be practical. I do keep my wallet and phone in them, though, since I don't need to whip them out really fast.”

“Awesome.” TJ wished zie had cheek pockets.

“No you don't,” Lucinda retorted from inside.

Gammabeast looked up. “Do you get hassle?” it rumbled. “For looking different?”

Lorry blinked. Gammabeast wasn't particularly chatty, most of the time—it claimed talking in a human range hurt its throat. But Cheeks said, “not as much as you'd think. It's a small town, so everyone knows me. It's not a surprise to anyone.” He looked uncomfortable. “Honestly, I've gotten harassed more in a week here than I did in… well, ever, back home.”

Gammabeast patted Cheeks sympathetically.

Lorry lurched back to the front, shaking off the switching grogginess. “Not one of the team?” He asked.

“No, no, just strangers. I guess in the city, it's easier to get away with; anonymity and all.”

“Sorry to hear that.” Anonymity was why he liked the city; it was easier to pass as single-minded when everyone was a stranger.

Cheeks shrugged. “Cost of the big league, I guess.”

“I hear you,” Gammabeast rumbled laboriously. “I grew up in Anchorage. If there were jobs for me there, I'd never have moved.”

Most of the day was fairly dull. A press conference, team appointments with local law enforcement, walking beats that were more for show than use. Lorry was glad Cheeks was around, just for the novelty; days like this bored him to death.

Cheeks didn't seem too impressed either. As they ambled down a sidewalk, waving to civilians, he muttered around his smile, “I have to be honest, I expected more… doing.”

“Yeah, the news makes it sound like that,” Lorry said, glad the camera crew was taking a moment for lunch. “Honestly, if I'd known how much glad-handing and showboating the job entailed… but I guess I shouldn't complain. The health plan's great, and it's more money than I've ever made in my life.”

“Hmmm,” Cheeks said. “I read up a little on you, before I got here. You've got energy repulsion powers, right?”

Lorry winced. “When they work--”

Before he could continue, Blind Justice's mental voice, project by Eye, blasted into Lorry's head, making him jump. “The Arsonist's hit an apartment building at Third and West. All hands on deck! Go!”

Lorry doubted he'd be much use against a pyrokinetic, but he grabbed Cheeks and bolted to pile into Gammabeast's van, along with their camera crew. It was a little crowded, but no one complained.

Lorry's head was loud. Before he succumbed to the urge to tap his temple and hiss, “shut up, I'm working,” he heard—or rather felt—Kara in the back of his head like an oil slick.

“I have a feeling you're going to need me,” she said.

Lorry said nothing. Kara still made him deeply uncomfortable. But she could do things with their powers he could only dream of.

When they arrived, they forgot the cameras. Martial Law took off after the Arsonist. Eye did crowd control, calming the people's panic and beaming Blind Justice's instructions to the team and the people still trapped inside. Gammabeast joined the fire-fighters to lend its muscle and freeze-breath.

Lorry jumped at the mental voice of a strange man, hatched in by Eye:

“Law and Justice, this is IC, there are two victims on the top floor we can't reach.”

Blind Justice's response: “IC, Tank, this is Justice. Gamma's too heavy to get up there. Tank, can you?”

Lorry hesitated. He knew immediately that he couldn't. He was terrible at redirecting heat and fire, and the kind of jump it'd take to get from the next building over would require transforming some of the energy of horizontal motion into vertical, which he plain couldn't do. But Kara could. With Law chasing the Arsonist, they were the only one available, and there were people in trouble.

“Tell them no,” Kara said. “Eye will catch me out.”

“Justice, this is Tank. We're going in.”

“God damn it, Lorry.”

Lorry had meant 'we' as in him and Kara, but Cheeks was undoing his sash, letting his outfit billow out loose. He had long flaps of skin down his sides, like a sugar glider's.

“I'm coming with you. Fire-fighter, remember?”

Lorry didn't argue. They hurried next door—it would be far safer to jump from that building than work upward through the burning one. Cheeks glided over with the ease of long practice; Lorry had to take a sprinting jump. He expected to fall, but Kara redirected the energy, pushed, and got them through the window. Together, they hurried towards the other end of the floor, where the victims, a large woman and a baby, waited at another window. Tears were streaming down their cheeks, but they seemed eerily calm—Eye's work.

“Can you take the woman?” Cheeks asked. “She's too big, I can't glide her down.”

Lorry nodded; an adult would be more likely to survive the effects of their powers.

The woman handed the baby to Cheeks, who wrapped it in his clothes and leaped out the window.

Lorry took the woman's hand, but before he could speak, Eye's voice blasted, “Bomb! There's a--”

And the world went white.

There was no time for the Zombie to take the pain. Lorry felt Kara surge up behind his eyes and teeth, forcing the mental machinery to the utmost to slow down their perception of time, speed up their decision-making, seize their body's machinery. Grab the woman, curl around her body--

They felt the blast, the force, the heat. They took it, held it, and blasted it out again.

They went rocketing through the wall, the woman wrapped in their arms. Lorry felt the wall against his back, bruising, breaking, tried to push the force outward, deflect, deflect--

Another impact—the ground. They took the force, reverberated it out again, and they bounced.

Ground. Haze. Noise. The woman?

“Alive,” Kara reported.

Lorry tried to move. He couldn't.

“Stay down.”

This should not hurt so much. “Zombie?” he asked.

Above him, he saw the alarmed faces of Cheeks, Eye, and the cameraman. He couldn't find the woman.


He woke up in a hospital bed. Cheeks was sitting in a chair, looking worried. “Hey, are you okay?”

“No,” Kara reported.

Everything hurt. “Zombie?” Lorry asked.

“Excuse me?” Cheeks asked.

“Eye will notice if you're not in pain. Suck it up.”

Lorry tried to think through the fog, sort out the mental voices and the physical ones. Now that he was awake, his head was loud. Lucinda was worried about him, TJ was freaking out, and Kara was busy blocking them from the front, eerily calm. “The woman.”

“She's okay,” Cheeks said. “Down the hall. Look, you're lucky you woke up when it was just me. Law and Justice are furious. The liability--”

This was too much for Lorry to handle. He didn't resist when Kara took the front… though he noticed she let him keep taking the pain.

“I'll handle it. Thank you, Cheeks.”

Cheeks didn't seem to notice the sudden lack of a Chicago accent. “But--”

The door came open, and the All-Seeing Eye rolled in. His face, under the beard, was grim, sad, and worst of all, knowing. Kara sighed.

“Hello, Eye,” she said.

“Hello, Kara,” he said. “We need to talk.”

Notes: Cheeks is from White River Junction, a small town with a comics school some of my friends have attended. Also, this is the first time in-story that Tank have used their actual god-given superpowers in story. They don't actually have any sort of superhuman toughness the way Zambi does; their durability is entirely due to energy redirection.

Date: 2016-05-13 12:49 am (UTC)
clare_dragonfly: woman with green feathery wings, text: stories last longer: but only by becoming only stories (Default)
From: [personal profile] clare_dragonfly
Ooh, this is exciting! :D I like Cheeks so far. I'm glad to see more Battle the Universe!

Date: 2016-05-13 06:24 am (UTC)
weareangels: A white wolf mid-stride on a white background. (LC)
From: [personal profile] weareangels

Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 12:42 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios