Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lots of people have code names, it's not that weird (super person universe)

[Ok, so, superhero names are hard.  Ditto for coming up for a way to make your fire-power haver distinct from other fire-power havers.  Thus this came into my head.  I have a headache, so the execution could suck.  You've been warned.]
[Mishap was described here, and previously appeared in this story.]

If this turns out to be my old team again, Mishap thought, it definitely means they're following me.

It was almost a relief when Mishap saw that the cause of the commotion was just an ooze monster the size of a three bus pileup.  Cracked patches of asphalt that had once formed the street amounted to armor plating over its oily looking form.  She doubted it was real oil,  She didn't know of any decent crude reservoirs in the area, and for some reason a lot of things went for the oily look without being oil.

Besides, setting it on fire would be too easy.  Things like this were never easy.

Mishap was about to leave the area, and thus leave the problem to someone else, when she saw the ooze monster form a mouth in the general direction of children.  They couldn't have been old enough to have reached middle school, and they definitely should have had parents in the vicinity.  Besides, wasn't this a school day?

It didn't matter, targeting the weakest first suggested either the rudimentary thinking of a simplistic predator, or sadism.  Neither would be good for the children.

Mishap charged the thing, used the shattered remains of a really nice looking car as a springboard, landed with as much force as she could on a vaguely Mishap-sized patch of asphalt.  One thing she knew about ooze monsters: you don't even touch the ooze directly.

Hopping from asphalt to asphalt she crossed the monster and landed between the mouth and the children.

"They're under my protection ear-less monstrosity," she said to the mouth, noting that its "teeth" were formed of shards of broken glass and bits of broken metal.  Apparently it didn't have any hard bits of its own with which to chew

"I would run now," Mishap said to the children over a shoulder, then scanned the situation.  She found what she was looking for in a transformer that was barely holding onto its pole.  It took just the slightest nudge to make it fall, and when those things went wrong they had a tendency to pop, at least in Mishap's experience.  She made sure it did just that as soon as it hit the ooze.

Hardly the unflinching hero, she reflexively ducked, made her body as small as she could, and covered her ears, even though she knew the explosion was already over.

The ooze monster gurgle-screamed in pain, then gurgle-growled in anger.

"Got your attention ear-less?" Mishap asked.  She didn't expect an answer.  It was, after all, ear-less.

It did, however, respond to the changed events.  The mouth she had been facing dissolved and when she looked to see where the attention had been redirected she saw the kids.  Again.  Didn't the young fucks know that when you ran away from something you ran away, not along its side?

Beyond the obviously financial benefits to being a thief, this was a large part of why she never considered being a hero.  Not the largest part, but it still ranked in the top ten.  Quite simply: saving stupid people was the kind of job that couldn't be done in one fell swoop because their stupidity almost guaranteed they'd need to be saved again.

Still, they were kids.  One did not stand by when children were in life threatening danger.  It simply wasn't done.  Lesser dangers could be ignored, but Mishap wasn't going to let these kids be killed by a combination of her inaction and their stupidity.

The question was how to save them this time.

While part of her wanted to just run toward them, she knew that she wouldn't reach them in time.  She needed--

A small ball of fire hit the new-formed kid-focused mouth, and someone called out, "Over here Tim Curry."

She had a distraction, she had more time, and she had a seeming non-sequitur.  What more could she ask for?

She again used the remains of the road as stepping stones to run across the monster, and landed at the side of the newcomer.  Random guy with a sling made from, apparently, shoelace, and a marble in his hand.

The marble burst into flames as he put it into the sling.  He didn't spin up the way some people did, he released after half an arc and the flaming marble flew off to hit the ooze monster in the new mouth.  As Mishap guessed earlier, the monster did not appear to be prone to being set on fire.

"Hi," she said to the marble guy.

"Hi," he said back.  "You wouldn't happen to have a plan, would you?"

"You in the market?"

"More window shopping," he said ans he lit another of his marbles and launched it at the monster.

"So," Mishap said, "no plan of your own, and nothing to pay with."

She looked at the next marble closely.  Though she found it a nice color, there was nothing special about it.  The fire must have been coming from him.  She commented on the color.

"It's mermaid green, I'm told," He said as he lit it.  "And my plan ran out after 'get its attention away from the kids.'"

"That's barely even a premise," Mishap said.

"Seemed to be your premise as well," he said.

"I'm no hero," Mishap said.  She noticed that the creature's attention did seem to be turning in their direction.

"Hey, I'm apolitical too," he said.  "It's just that--"

"There were kids."


At least they understood one another.  That didn't make up for the lack of plan though.

"How much fire can you make?"

"Never tested it," he said.  "Not much more than my own surface area, I imagine."

Mishap dodged a tentacle of ooze that came their way.  The marble guy simply lit himself on fire on the tentacle side.  The tentacle recoiled, then retracted, in pain.

"I get the impression you're safer than I am," Mishap said.  Marble guy shrugged.  "Anyway, two surefire ways to deal with ooze monsters: dry them out, which you can't make enough fire for, or dilute them."

"I haven't noticed any massive water powers on your part," he said.

"Not a jot, but the infrastructure around here is corroded all to Hell," Mishap said.  "If you can distract it for a while, I can get the water."

"I didn't come prepared for a fight," marble guy said, "You've got twenty shots left to do whatever you're doing."

He lit another marble, and Mishap tried to figure out where the water main was hiding.  It was more difficult than it should have been because all of the underground pipes were in deplorable states of disrepair, and tended to feel rather similar.

* * *

The ooze monster defeated, Mishap went to regroup with marble guy.  She found him reaching into the muck where the ooze had been and retrieving his marbles.

"You've got to be kidding," Mishap said.  "They were pretty, but they cost, what, a buck fifty?"

"Three dollars and fifty cents, in fact," marble guy said.

"Doesn't seem worth the effort," Mishap said.

"Is anything?"

Mishap shrugged.

"You got a name?" she asked.

"Jake," marble guy said.

Mishap rolled her eyes, "I meant a handle.  Most people with powers have another name."

"Like Desdemona?" Jake asked.

"Beings that aren't from Earth usually don't have fragile human families that could be exploited, and thus forgo the usual practices," Mishap said.

"Who says I have a family?" Jake asked.  "I'm used to being alone."

"I know the feeling," Mishap said, "and my recent stab at being part of something larger than myself didn't exactly go well.  Still, unless you want people to think you're a demon, which isn't always a bad thing, you should have a name."

"I was unaware that 'Jake' was an insufficient name," Jake said.  Apparently done retrieving his marbles, he stood up and wiped his hands off on his jeans.

"I'm just telling you how these things tend to be done.  I'm Mishap, for what it's worth."

"Fine," Jake said.  "I'm 3.14-Plastic."

Mishap's first response, "Wha--" didn't even last for a full word.  Three point one four was an obvious reference to pi, and while 'Plastic' was harder to place once she thought about it in terms of mathematical constants named after greek letters everything snapped into place.

"Oh," she said, "Pi-Rho," which sounded like 'pyro', "For the person with the fire.  Cute."

"You're the one who wanted me to have a code-name, Mishap," the newly christened 3.14-Plastic said.

"Just telling you how it's done," Mishap said.

"Thought you weren't a hero."

"I'm not," Mishap said.  "But someone who stands aside and lets children die isn't a thief anymore, they're a monster."  After a pause she added, "The scary kind, not the ooze kind."

"I'm not a thief," 3.14-Plastic said, "but more or less the same reasoning."

"I'm not looking for a partner, and I definitely don't want to form a team," Mishap said, "but do you want to hang , 3.14?"

"I'm hungry," he said.  "If you're buying, I don't turn down free food."

"I'm not exactly flush, but crime certainly pays," Mishap said.  "I can buy."


  1. Replies
    1. I am torn between "Woo!" and "Yay!"

      Also, thank you for taking the time/effort/stuff to actually comment. It means a lot.

  2. I also like them, and especially enjoy the ooze monster.

    ...but the 3.14 thing is terrible. I think even circ:di, cir/di something along those lines would be better. How can you say "Three point one four" and not be terribly awkward? Is there a cool alternate thing like how British people say "stroke" instead of "slash?" No, because point is better than "dot." The plastic bit is less awkward but more obscure, I think?

  3. And now it must be time to tell one of my favorite stupid physics/math jokes again:

    What do you get when you cross an octupus and a worm?