The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

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Damselbinder
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The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

The story so far:

Valerie Orville is a young superhero endowed with vast physical strength and durability. In her first story, we found her in California - where any promising superhero goes in search of their destiny. She was recruited to be part of a team called the 'Bombshells', ostensibly a joint operation between a new team of promising young superheroes and the U.S. Marines. There are four at first: Freebird, Maiden-America, Lupus, and Cecily Rothschild (who elects not to use a codename). They were all captured with humiliating ease on their first mission, only to be rescued by Valora. It is then that she is offered her place on the team, which she accepts. Lupus, furious and ashamed at her defeat, quits the team in a rage.

Valora soon discovers, however, that the Bombshells are a sham and propaganda exercise - setting up deliberate defeats for the heroines of the group to make their military allies look more impressive by comparison. After the defeat of a major, powerful supervillain, Valerie was provoked to assault a marine officer, and was fired in disgrace. No criminal charges were filed in exchange for her keeping her mouth shut about the Bombshells' true nature.

In her second story, we see how dire Valerie's circumstances are. As a superhero in her home state of Maine she earns a pitiful fraction of what she had earned in California, and has difficult arrest quotas to meet. She also works full-time as a photojournalist at the Portland Sun, a (fictional) newspaper. Prompted and assisted by a colleague named Saskia, she investigates the organised criminal Milo Patáky, a relatively powerful crime lord, with a nervous, paranoid disposition. By sheer chance, Valerie snaps a photograph of Patáky about to be assassinated by his adjutant, the handsome, deadly James Oleander. Oleander is interrupted by the flash of the camera, and reconsiders killing his boss, who is none the wiser about the attempt. However, he spots Saskia leaving the scene, and abducts her, along with her girlfriend Piper, to force her to give up any evidence of his murder attempt. With her lover's life under threat, Saskia reluctantly gives up Valerie's name. Oleander attempts to kidnap her too, but she laughs him off with her vast strength. He succeeds, however, with more deceptive methods, drugging Valerie into a state of helpless weakness. However, his attempted betrayal is discovered by Milo's men, and they come to kill him. Valerie recovers enough strength to scare the assassins away, however, saving Piper and Saskia. James saves his own skin by threatening to blab about her secret identity - but in exchange for letting him go, he gives her vast amounts of information on Milo Patáky's operations, guaranteeing that she can meet her quotas easily for the forseeable future. Unfortunately for James,despite going into hiding, he is found by Patáky's people, and Milo himself brutally murders his treacherous lieutenant.

Meanwhile, in California, the three remaining Bombshells are sent out on a mission to stop some superhuman criminals in San Francisco. They are successful, showing a fair bit of increase in skill and strength, and a growing closeness between Freebird and Cecily. However, they are then ambushed by a new villain clad in armour, and masked. Showing terrifying physical strength, she easily bests the Bombshells, before tying them up and abducting them.

The last scene of Valerie's second story takes place a week after the Bombshells' capture. It shows us that Valora has already begun to have a devastating impact on Milo Patáky's business. He resorts to hiring a superhuman to dispose of her - something he is ordinarily loath to do. Wouldn't you know it, it's the same person who abducted the Bombshells. She unmasks herself to reveal Lupus, the Bombshell who left the team just as Valora joined.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Let us make something clear right out of the gate: there was no-one plotting deliberately to make Valora famous. Her move in the direction of celebrity was a serendipitous dovetailing of happenstances. The first, of course, was her power: there was no fight she could not pick, no amount of weaponry that could even make her nervous. Whenever she fought, she won. The second was her insider knowledge: James Oleander had given her an intimate understanding of the underworld of Maine. No matter what Milo Patáky's men did, no matter how they tried to alter tactics either to fight her or avoid her, it was useless. Valora was always there. She always crushed them.

Valerie was routinely tripling her quotas. The system was not designed for, nor had it expected, a hero of Valora's calibre. She personally accounted for one eighth of all Maine's expenditures on superheroes, and had she been paid proportionately to the amount of work she did compared to her peers it would have been more like one quarter. But it was enough. For the first time since her stepmother had divorced her father, Valerie did not have to feel anxious when buying her groceries. She didn't have to make do in the darkness when a lightbulb burned out. She didn't have to choose between her father's health and giving herself even the most basic comforts. She had already made arrangements to move out of her foul-smelling slum of an apartment to somewhere at least a little more hospitable. She was beginning to live in a way that was not completely foul.

Her name was beginning to appear a little more frequently on people's lips. Police in most of Portland knew her by reputation now, and for once many of their number appreciated her presence. Often superhumans were felt either to be nuisances who got in the way, or lazy showboats who didn't do enough work actually to be helpful. But Valora was doing what superhumans - superheroes - were supposed to do: she was taking a huge amount of pressure off the police's efforts. They had the opportunity to concentrate on things other than street-level crimes. It was no longer ridiculous for citizens to expect burglaries or car thefts to be properly investigated almost every time. There were some high profile arrests of racketeers, a couple of serial home invaders. That was the thing about Valora, you see: she shared the glory quite generously.

It would have been nice if that had been all it had taken. If skill and pluck and a bit of raw, terrifying physical power had been all that had been needed to put Valora over the top, why, that would have been marvellous, wouldn't it? But it wasn't like that. Of course it wasn't like that. You only got something by taking it from someone else. You only got plaudits if someone else was getting shat on. That was how Valerie came to think of it, at least.

But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. We must cast our minds back to a little after Valerie's fateful encounter with James Oleander, before Valora's crushing victory against Stanley's ambush, before Lupus unmasked herself in front of Milo Patáky. We must return to the very moment that Valerie's fortunes began to turn.

Valerie had arrived at the home of, Saskia Dubois, her colleague at the Portland Sun, about three hours after James Oleander had been violently murdered. Saskia had described the invite as "the world's most lop-sidedly ungrateful thank you." It wasn't false modesty: difficult indeed to thank someone properly for saving one's life from a half-crazed gangster. And it hadn't just been Saskia's life, but that of Saskia's girlfriend Piper, and - in being saved - they'd been exposed to Valerie's greatest secret: she was, in reality, a superhero. She was Valora.

Not that Valerie could act all shocked that she'd been discovered. She'd been quite cavalier, really, with her great secret. When she'd been recruited into the Bombshells - the federally-sponsored propaganda wonk disguised as a super-team - she'd given up her identity immediately, without even thinking about it. Her parents knew. The soldiers who'd worked with the Bombshells knew. Lance Van der Boek knew. Valerie had even drunkenly blurted out the name Valora to a sexy bassist she'd picked up at a bar. So at this point, it didn't take a genius to work out that Valerie might have felt ambivalence about having to keep her powers secret. That ambivalence expressed itself rather starkly early on in the dinner when, just as Valerie was forking a piece of beetroot, Saskia asked her:
"So what's it like being a superhero?"

Piper winced. She hadn't exactly predicted that Saskia would put her foot in it, but in hindsight she realised that she should have. She saw the hunger in Saskia's eyes. She wanted to know. This wasn't some hot-scoop journalistic instinct, either: if Saskia had had her professional hat on she'd have asked a much better question. No, this was just Saskia being archetypal Saskia: she wanted to hoard every little bit of information about this fascinating person who'd walked into her life.
"Uh, I'm sure that Valerie doesn't want to spend all evening talking about her job," Piper said, giving Saskia a little kick under the table.
"It's f -" Valerie began, but a little piece of feta cheese fell out of her mouth. "Shit," she mumbled, covering her mouth with a napkin. "It's fine," she eventually managed to say. "I figured you'd ask." She chewed, ruminating over her answer. "It's kind of dull, most of the time. A lot of waiting around. Staking places out. Waiting for people to show up. Then... hitting them over the head and dragging them off to jail." She shrugged. "It's a living."

She'd feared that the evening would be a little awkward. Ever since Valerie had rescued her, Saskia had hovered in her periphery to such an extent that Valerie had almost started deliberately avoiding her at work. She'd obviously been desperate to ask Valerie about everything to do with her other life, but had never had the chance. With this invitation, she'd finally cornered her quarry. Hence the ambivalence: Valerie wasn't sure whether it was freeing being able to talk about her other life openly, or just invasive.
"And it isn't frightening? Putting your life on the line all the time?"
Again, Valerie shrugged. "I think a firefighter puts themselves in more direct danger than I usually do," she said. "I mean, I can't speak for every cape, obviously. It could be a lot worse for them."
"Why would that be?" Piper asked. Thinking Saskia had put her foot in it didn't mean she wasn't curious.
"I'm a lot more powerful than most superhumans," Valerie replied. It felt funny to say out loud. It had a 'my dad can beat up your dad' taste, and Valerie didn't want to come across as a braggart.

"But of course you are, darling!" Saskia laughed. "You can tell that with a look." She'd been about to ask Valerie about the specifics. About the Confessionals, about her relationship with the police. About her powers, too: had she always had them? How strong exactly was she? And, most of all, what the hell was she doing slumming it in Maine when she was powerful enough to trade blows with the mightiest superhumans in the world? But Saskia bit her tongue, and restrained herself. She was making Valerie uncomfortable, and she blushed a little, embarrassed at her lack of self control. A little journalistic instinct kicked in, electing to stay silent so that Valerie could control where the conversation went.

"So, uh, how did you guys meet?" Valerie asked, not quite sure what else to say.
"Ah," Saskia gave an awkward smile. This was a touchy subject. She glanced at Piper for permission. After a moment, she found it, for Piper's vulnerability to guilt gave her a powerful intolerance for secrets.
"I'm afraid it's a sordid story," Saskia said. "I was covering some ghastly real estate expo in New Jersey, you see. I happened to cast my eye on a rather fetching young lady in a red blazer, talking up the benefits of a hideously overpriced apartment to a fat schlub. Said schlub was a fair bit more interested in the cut of her dress than the property she was flogging so I elected to step in."
"And that was Piper?" Valerie asked, taking a small gulp of red wine. "The lady, not the fat guy."
"No," Piper said, quietly. "That was Jean. My girlfriend. My, um, my then-girlfriend."
"Oh," Valerie said. She took a larger gulp of wine.

"We got to talking," Saskia explained. "We got on. She introduced me to Piper. Piper and I got on even better." Under the table, she squeezed Piper's small, pretty hand.
"So you guys... had an affair?" Valerie asked.
"Not exactly," Piper said. "My partner... dragged out our engagement. Saskia and I got to know each other. We spent time together. Eventually I realised that I was glad my engagement was being dragged out... and then I broke it off."

Valerie leaned back in her chair. Munched on another piece of beetroot, flexed her neck. "So you didn't actually cheat, did you?"
The Catholic in Piper wanted to say that she basically had. That she had sinned in her heart. That for months before she'd actually found the courage to break up with Jean, she'd been thinking about Saskia. She'd been imagining Saskia wrapping her long, sugar-brown, silky legs around her, she'd imagined that and she'd touched herself, again and again and again. But no.
"I suppose we weren't cheating no," Piper replied. She looked across the table. She expected to see Valerie, who seemed to have such a serious disposition, regarding her with a judgemental eye. But it was quite the opposite. For the first time, she was seeing Valerie Orville smile.

Her already lovely face became even more attractive. She parted her glossy lips, pushed a lock of hair back behind her ear. Even her hair seemed a more golden yellow than before. Piper realised only then that Valora wasn't just 'hot': she was beautiful.
"I wouldn't feel guilty about something like that," Valerie said. "You realised you loved someone else, and you admitted it and faced the consequences. What were you supposed to do? Stay with your fiancée out of embarrassment? I mean, I'm sure it sucked for her but you'd have hurt her a lot more if you'd stayed. Believe me."
It was a bait too juicy not to jump at. Without the slightest hesitation, Saskia leaned forward, tenting her fingers, and asked:
"What do you mean by 'believe me'?"

Valerie took a heavy breath. She was reticent, but she felt as if the couple had made an effort to invite her into their confidence: they knew a deep secret of hers, so they'd shared one of theirs with her. More than that. Their shared ordeal had made a connection between them: Valerie wanted to share.
"My mom used to cheat on my dad," she said. "Just flings at first, y'know? First tearful confession, I think I was... twelve? Maybe? But then she just kept doing it."
"Oh, Valerie, that's horrible!" Piper couldn't believe how calm Valerie was being. If she was putting on a brave face then she was doing it with seamless skill.
"I don't blame her really. My dad can be hard to live with. He gets sick, so he can barely work. My mom was the breadwinner for most of my life, and she wasn't getting a lot back, yeah?" There was a confrontational note in her tone. She was making too strong an effort to show that the moral weakness of her parents didn't upset her. "So I can understand her cheating on him. I can understand her leaving him. I just wish she'd left us sooner. Shown a bit of your courage and made a clean... break." The 'k' of 'break' came with a little more emphasis than Valerie had intended.

Saskia took note of her words. 'Left us.' A picture was coming together of this young woman and her life, and it was not as romantic a one as Saskia had anticipated. There were atmospheres of pressure on her strong, shapely shoulders. She bore them gracefully, but there was a tiredness to her that no-one her age ought to have had. Saskia reached for the bottle of wine the three had been sharing, topped her glass off, offered some to Valerie. She accepted with a nod and a smile, held out her glass. Saskia topped her off as well. And then, alas, a minor accident. Valerie had her elbow on the tablecloth, and as she reached forward to proffer her glass, she tugged on the cloth by mistake, began to pull her plate off the table. She had quick enough reflexes to catch it, but she jerked her other hand back and spilled wine on her light-blue dress. Not a great disaster, by any means - but Valerie leapt out of her seat with a look of horror on her face.

"Oh, shit!" She grabbed a napkin, began daubing furiously at the tight, light-blue material. Forgetting that she was in company, she licked the napkin before trying again. Some of it was coming off, but not anywhere near enough. "Fuck!" Suddenly remembering herself, she tried to give an apologetic smile, but nobody could pretend it was particularly convincing. "Sorry," Valerie mumbled. "Do, uh, do you have any Clorox, or anything?"

She was shown to the relevant items, and left a trail of apology behind her as she slipped into her hosts' bathroom.
"Wow," Piper said. "I didn't figure her for a clean-freak."
"She's not a clean-freak, darling," Saskia replied, quietly. "Did you notice her dress still had its tag?"
"Oh, so it's new." Piper frowned. "That's still not reason enough to throw a hissy fit."
"It's not that the dress is new. She kept the tag because she's bought it just for this evening. She's probably going to return it tomorrow. What would you say it cost?"
"It's pretty nice - 150 dollars, maybe?"
"I give you my cast-iron guarantee that she doesn't own any piece of clothing worth even half that much."
Piper looked puzzled, and Saskia irritably tapped her finger on the dining table.
"Her father doesn't work. Her mother left. At her age she should still be in college, but instead she's working two full-time jobs. She's in a desperately unhappy situation."
It was probably true. But seeing a woman that Piper had watched shrug off a sustained hail of gunfire be panicked by a stain on her dress. There was an obscenity to it. "So she was abandoned by her mother. She has to work two jobs to look after her father."
"Yeah."
"So why isn't she angry with them?"
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The stain was coming out, thank god. But Valerie was embarrassed, not only at her behaviour in front of Saskia and Piper, but because of how relieved she was. Why had she even bothered buying this dress? Did she really think that her hosts would have judged her if she'd turned up in a pair of jeans and a blouse? It was so stupid. She wasn't like this. She wasn't vain. She didn't worry about her appearance. Christ, it wasn't even as if her poverty was a secret. She'd just told them about her situation anyway!

She sat on the edge of her hosts' bathtub, her dress folded on the floor in front of her. She was just in her underwear now, and the skin of her thighs clung slightly to the porcelain tub. It was pleasantly cold. Without thinking, she did something that she'd used to do as a child, and jumped into the empty bath. She liked the feeling of the porcelain against her body, her curvaceous figure held in a cool embrace. It was comforting. It was calming. And it gave her a few drops of perspective, too.
"Man, I'm being dumb." It was just a dress. It was just money. She wanted the night to go well, and she didn't want her money-grubbing paranoia to sabotage it.

She got out of the bath. She put her shoes on, slipped her dress back on, and admired herself in the mirror. Her pastel-blue dress was relatively conservative: figure-hugging, but not skintight; knee-length. She often dressed to look sexy - but rarely to look pretty. She remembered something that Saskia had said to her:
"It isn't always wrong to have what you want."

Cheered by the memory, she was about to return to her hosts when she heard her phone buzz. Back in 2007, remember, most people didn't carry smartphones and Valerie was no exception. But she'd subscribed to the Portland Sun's email edition, and her phone was just about good enough to get emails in raw text form. She flipped it open. Read the top story, which was some bilge about a Lyme disease scare in Portland's dogs. But there was a smaller story underneath. In any other state it probably would have been the lead article, but there was a sense of apathy to these things in Maine. Even so, by the next day it had turned into a national, even international, story, and the Sun had to give it fairer treatment.

This was not one of the times when people laughed. Sometimes when this happened to superheroes - especially young, attractive, female superheroes - people were quite nasty. There was a vicious, almost always sexist glee in the national response to such things, which might have been why it happened as often as it did. But this time the girls themselves were unimportant - the criticism was levelled at the institutions behind them. Cecily, Debra and Maria weren't the story. In a way they never had been: pundits had always been interested in the ugly face behind the pretty mask that the girls represented.

But Valerie didn't care about that. She cared that her stupid mistake, the reason she'd had to come back to Maine in the first place, wasn't just punishing her anymore. It had metastasised to them, because if she'd been in California, if she'd still been a Bombshell, this never would have happened. She could have protected them from this degradation. Or even if she couldn't, she would have at least suffered the degradation alongside them, instead of jumping ship just before it had started sinking.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Cecily Rothschild had never been in danger of overestimating the importance of physical contact. She'd grown up in a military household, and she'd had military parents. Her father had been an admiral, her mother a stern heiress with the rugged ugliness of a small cliff. Oh, her parents had loved her, sincerely. Her father was capable of tender passions that would have astonished his subordinates. He had taken early retirement rather than further promotion, for he'd wanted Cecily not to have to endure the painful upheavals he remembered from his own military childhood. He'd taken his wife's surname when they'd married, which to his queer psyche seemed the most romantic tribute he could make to her. But a military disposition and a natural shyness made him wary of more usual outlets for his fondness for his wife and daughter. Cecily's mother had loved her too, but she was frightened of what wealth - which the family had in abundance - would do to a young child. She saw Cecily's clever, quiet, sweet nature and was appalled by the thought of spoiling it the way her own parents had ruined the promising characters of her two sisters.

For these reasons, Cecily grew up much loved, but under-embraced. From near infancy she had had the perceptiveness to see what so many adult onlookers didn't, that her parents were merely unusual, not cold. Still, she was not naturally like either of them, and the lack of touch - while it was hardly traumatic - nevertheless floated on the top layer of her subconscious, and when she was touched fondly the effects on her could be quite profound.

So, when Cecily awoke, and felt that her head was resting on Maria's shoulder, it sent waves of tingling shivers through her whole body. Without being conscious enough to be truly aware of what she was doing, she pushed herself closer, nuzzling against Maria's neck.
"Mmhh..." Cecily mewed. She felt Maria's warmth. She could hear her breath, like the soft back-and-forth of waves inside a seashell. She felt Maria's pulse, throbbing steadily, felt it against the space between Cecily's upper lip and her nose. Her eyelashes fluttered a little, and she shifted closer. Cecily shivered again, more intensely, and purred like a stately, dignified cat bestowing quiet affection on a beloved master. It was so pleasant for something she hadn't known she'd wanted to fall straight into her lap and, still woozy, she tried to wrap her arms around Maria's fair form. It was only when she realised that this was impossible that wakefulness came. It surged into her mind, reminding her with an icewater sharpness that she, and Maria and Debra too, had been kidnapped.

"Mmhh... mmmhhphh...?" With a meek, subdued shame Cecily beheld herself captive. She was not just bound, but mummified, her whole body subsumed in dark grey vet wrap. Her legs, her arms, her chest, her neck, her face, her hair - everything but her eyes, blue and drowsy and moist. It was incredibly tight: the material she was bound in wasn't that thin, but it had been tied about her with such vicious strength that it felt like a second skin. Cecily began to struggle, and the stretchy material yielded just enough to let her shift her arms, her long, lithe legs, but not enough to let her fight in earnest. She closed her eyes, focused. Tried to access her telekinetic powers - but they were too weak. She was too weak.

But her powers weren't that pathetic, were they? She could with a little concentration lift a fully grown man clear over her head. So why couldn't she even unwrap some tape? But as her head became a little clearer, she felt it.
"Mmhh...?" There was something other than tape against her lips, smelled a chemical scent that still relentlessly invaded her nostrils. She remembered being grabbed, and drugged, and realised that the same cloth that had been used to defeat her with such frightful ease had been tied over her mouth.

Just about able to raise her head, Cecily looked to Maria. Maria who was athletic, taut and strong. Not strong like Valora had been, but strong enough to be worthy of respect. Strong enough to go toe-to-toe with superhumans of real power and come out on top. Strong enough that the sight of her unconscious, defeated and wrapped from head to toe in tape was... obscene. Cecily gave out a quiet whimper of dismay. Maria looked so... helpless. In sympathy Cecily pressed her forehead against Maria's, closed her eyes, squeezed tears out of them. When Cecily opened her eyes again, she saw that Maria was looking back.

Maria's gag was wetter with chloroform. The haze around her was thicker. This was probably deliberate: as useless as she'd been against their armoured captor, her powers were much more dangerous than the others'. But that was academic. She was just as helpless as she looked. Her eyes, half-closed, were soft and forlorn. She had no moment of confusion. She knew exactly what had happened to them. She saw Cecily, saw herself, saw the dozen metres of tape wrapped around her taut, feminine body. She didn't make a sound. She just stared, quivering like a frightened deer, the very bindings in which she was trapped shouting at her with unmistakable clarity that there was to be no glory in Freebird's destiny.

Surely there had been no need to bind them like this. Handcuffs, and something to hold their drugged gags in place would have been more than enough. But mummifying them - there was something inherently sexual about this egregious, overwhelming excess of bondage. It made every movement sensual, every weak, worthless wriggle a titillating gyration against the soft material in which they were entombed, all the more so for the way the two powerless maidens rubbed against each other. Even keeping relatively still they grew hot, the tape pressing against them from all sides, clutching, subsuming, taking away even their identities, leaving them with nothing but the label 'captive'. It was strange how being completely covered was so much like being stripped.

Cecily wanted to hold her forlorn companion, to stroke her hair and soothe the anguish building in her breast. But it was not just that she was physically incapable - there were graver concerns. Where were they? A dark, empty room with plain white walls didn't tell much. Who had taken them? A powerful superhuman, one decidedly out of their league - but who? Of course, both Maria and Cecily were pleased not to have been killed, but it would certainly have made more sense if they had been. To put it unkindly, who would care enough about the Bombshells to abduct them? But there was another, even more urgent question.
"Where's Debra?"

Debra was not in the same room as the others. She'd awoken nearly an hour before Cecily, and with a clearer head but a sorer abdomen, for she'd been knocked out with a simple blow to the belly. She was wrapped up the same as they were though, bundled up like a package, her curvy body mummified from tip to tip. She was muzzled just as thoroughly, too. That didn't stop her from trying to cry out, though.
"MHHHHPHHH!! HHHLLHHHP! HHHHLLHHHHP!!" The short, curvaceous brunette had not been menaced before being captured. She didn't remember the sharp blow to her abdomen that had sent her sinking into darkness. She just remembered that she'd been standing outside a warehouse one moment, and she'd woken up here, alone in darkness, bound and gagged. "HHHHLLLHHHHP!!" She was frightened. She was tied up and helpless. She felt small, and weak, and pathetic. But that didn't stop her fighting.

And she fought. She was not as powerful as Cecily, or Maria, but Maiden-America had staying power. That was, in fact, all she had: limitless endurance. She could have fought for ten days straight and never tired. And while Cecily and Maria had seen that Debra had been captured as well, Debra didn't know what had happened to her comrades. For all she knew they could be just outside, and her muffled cries could lead them to her. Or they could be in mortal peril, and their lives depended on her getting free. She had no way of knowing, other than by freeing herself, or by attracting the attention of rescuers.
"HHHHHLLLHHHHHP!!" she cried, again and again, sometimes with frustration in her voice, sometimes with humiliated rage, sometimes with despair, and - more and more as time went on - sometimes with fear. She remembered all too well what had happened on Leatherback's ship, when she and the others had been captured before. She remembered what her captors had intended to do with her. The thought of her on some auction block, stripped naked and being pawed by some vile slaver was enough to make her retch.

"Mmhh..."
The whimper had not come from Debra's mouth. If she'd heard it in isolation, Debra couldn't possibly have identified it, but under the circumstances, Debra quickly identified it as Cecily. "Oh Jesus, they got her too?!"
The voice had come from behind one of two doors in the room. Debra had been, slowly and ineffectively, trying to wriggle towards the door that led away from the voice. Giving a growling cry of frustration, the mummified damsel began trying to turn herself around. It was painstakingly difficult, and it was difficult to get purchase on the polished, wooden floor beneath her. It put uncomfortable pressure on her large, round breasts, and with only her eyes and the skin around them exposed to the air, she feared that her exertions would make her so hot she would faint. And then the door behind her opened, and suddenly there was no danger whatsoever of Debra overheating, as a cold terror washed through her.

"I'm grateful to you." There was a heavy filter over the voice of her kidnapper. She was wearing a heavy looking mask, which was doubtless responsible for the effect. She was wearing thick, obsidian armour, armour with a blocky, misshapen surface, designed to break up its wearer's outline and make identification all but impossible. But Debra knew, immediately, that it was a woman. Something about the cadence, the curl of the 'r' in 'grateful, was definitely feminine. Heavy footsteps grew closer, and then in a blur of motion Debra was on her back, looking up at the faceless visage of her captor.

"I mean it," she said. "I'm grateful, Maiden-America." She pronounced Debra's codename with something beyond disdain. It was more like pity. "I'm grateful because you're so fucking weak."
"Mmhh!" Debra quailed in fright at the vicious, electronic growl. And yet when terror's first gleam faded, Debra realised that the viciousness had not been in her captor's tone, but purely in the filter. There had been no anger in her voice. Even the expletive had not been pronounced with aggression, but... well, more like a sailor, swearing out of pure habit.

But Debra had plenty of other reasons to be scared. Her captor took her by one shoulder, and yanked her up onto her feet. This in itself frightened Debra. When her captor lifted her it felt like when one picks up a suitcase one thinks is full, but isn't. For just a second, before you realise you've just been dense, you feel incredibly strong. That was how Debra felt - only she felt like the suitcase. Her weight was nothing whatsoever to her captor.
"She's... like Valerie." The comparison was more than apt. To be strong enough to manhandle a woman of Debra's build was not all that rare, but she could feel the depths of physical might behind every action. And as if going out of her way to give credence to Debra's comparison, she curled one arm around Debra's waist, and then tucked the petite, curvaceous girl under her armpit.

"Mmphh?!" Debra whimpered, her face and her neck flushing in embarrassment. Her captor was carrying her under one arm like a rolled-up newspaper. She wanted to struggle. There was even a sense in which she tried to, but nothing happened. She just went limp. She dropped her head, looking at the polished wooden floor. Her pretty, curvy legs drooped, and her feet would have been trailing on the floor if the tape binding her hadn't restricted her movement so much. She was too frightened to fight, cowed by her captor's strength. Of course, she did not know how strong this person was, and everything she'd shown so far had been beneath Valora's most mediocre feats. Yet, while Debra would have described Valerie's physical might as 'superhuman', the only word that seemed right for her captor's was 'inhuman'. It was a cruel strength.

That characterisation became only more appropriate as her captor carried her into the other room. Before Debra had even realised she'd gone from one room to another, she'd been thrown through the air. Not far, but far enough that Debra cried out when she landed, though her petite, buxom body came to rest on something relatively soft. A glance upwards, and the sound of two somnolent moans, told Debra that she had landed on Cecily and Maria's thighs. They were bound like her, their eyes half-closed. They'd obviously been drugged.
"Nhhhhhhhhhhh!" Debra cried, seeing that all three of them had been abducted. She tried to roll off them, but she couldn't even do that. In the end her captor did it for her, pulling her off her comrades and propping her up next to them, sandwiching Maria between Cecily and Debra. The three Bombshells were together again.

Except, there were four Bombshells there, there in the show-home that their captor had broken into to stash them, four who'd fallen for Lance van der Boek's honeyed words and joined up with his scheme. None of the three mummified maidens knew it, but they all knew their captor. Her name was Charlie Korhonen. They knew her better by the name Lupus.

Lupus didn't really feel anything looking at the three girls she'd snatched. I mean, fuck, she only knew them for a couple of weeks before she got pushed out of their little club. Not that she'd have wanted to stay with these living jokes anyway. 'The Bombshells'. Honestly! Whose fucking idea had that been? Not the actual initiative, that is: Lupus knew exactly whose malformed, prematurely born brainchild that had been. Just the name. They probably spent a million bucks on focus groups and 'Bombshells' was the one that tested best. Like those shitheads at Kellogg's who, after weeks of focus testing and market research, decided that the best possible slogan for their new cereal was "They're great." They're great. Bloody hell. Tony the fucking Tiger. Jesus.

Lupus watched her captives in silence for about a minute and a half. She squatted so she was eye-level with them. The joints of her misshapen armoursuit were stiff, cracking from the pressure she put on them almost every time she moved. It was sweaty inside the damned thing. She wanted to lift the mask and scratch her chin, but oh no, maintaining secrecy was soooooooo paramount. Apparently it had been designed specifically to shield its wearer from identification by superhuman senses, which... y'know, fine. Great. Helpful. Lupus didn't want to go to prison or anything. But apparently there were some superhumans with super noses, so Lupus' suit had a skintight membrane on the inside that blocked her scent from getting out. So it got hot. It got uncomfortable, and it pissed her off. Every time she took it off she had to have a shower. Look, just because Lupus was sexy didn't mean she didn't get body odour, for fuck's sake. Install a cooling system or something, god!

"A prototype," they'd called it. Fancy fucking way of saying "uhh, we don't actually know if this works but try it anyway, I guess." Bunch of bullshit. And it was a good thing she was so durable now, because as actual armour her suit was worth exactly dick. Bullets went right through it. Some idiot had stabbed her through the fucking helmet right into her eye - on which the knife had snapped, thankfully, but Lupus hadn't been so sure of her power then. She could have gone half-blind because her stupid, uncomfortable, paper-thin armour didn't work.
"Oh, don't worry, Lupus, we've reinforced it now." Whoop-de-doo. Making it durable after sending someone into frontline combat in sub-par gear. Real nice, you feckless twats.

And then something else stabbed Lupus as she stared her captives down. She realised that one of them was crying. The one in the middle, the black girl. Lupus honestly couldn't remember whether her name was Debra, or if the short, busty one was Debra. The fact she'd covered their bodies and most of their faces didn't help either. Lupus had always been bad with names. But at any rate -
Freebird! That was it. That was her codename, the one who was crying. That'd do.

God, she really was crying, wasn't she? Not gracefully. Not with dignity. She was really sobbing. Tears were flowing from her eyes, her body regularly convulsing with sobs. What the hell kind of reaction was that? So she'd been taken captive. So what? Didn't she know she was a California superhero? That shit happened to everyone. And all Lupus had done was kick her ass and truss her up. She could have done a lot worse than that. I mean, Christ, when Lupus had been captured by Leatherback's goons that time you didn't see her weeping. Of course, all three of the others had been captured alongside her, and none of them had cried either, and Lupus had been unconscious for her entire - brief - captivity, but she conveniently elected to forget all those facts.

She forgot, too, that while she hadn't cried during the short period of her captivity, Lupus had shed plenty of tears once she'd got home on that horrible night. She'd trashed her kitchen. She'd smashed every plate she owned, every glass, everything she could break. If she'd been as powerful then as she was now she'd have trashed the whole building. She forgot, too, that when Colonel Doyle found her and made his offer, a month after Lupus' ignominious departure from the Bombshells, she'd been crying then too.

So Maria's tender fucking tears didn't get any sympathy from Lupus. Nor did Cecily's rather pathetic attempts to comfort her lachrymose buddy.
"Dry your eyes, little girl," Lupus said, ignoring the fact that Maria was a year older than her, and half an inch taller. "I'm not going to hurt you. And, if you'll believe it, this isn't personal."
She shouldn't have said that. 'If you'll believe it'. 'If you'll believe it' implied that her captives had some reason to suspect already that her motive was personal. She didn't know if they'd noticed. She'd covered their fucking faces so much she couldn't tell. But whatever. It didn't matter, really. Like these airheads would figure anything out.

Another idea derailed her train of thought. Namely, why weren't they all crying? I mean, shit, they'd been knocked out and abducted, tied up, and Lupus was strong enough to pop their heads off their necks like she was squeezing a zit. Yeah, Freebird had the right idea! They should all be weeping. So Lupus stood up, sharply, loomed threateningly over her former comrades, and barked a few expletives at them. It had the desired effect. They all moaned piteously, squirming away from her and snuggling their pretty little bodies together as if they could somehow protect each other. It was so stupid that Lupus giggled, which was thankfully rendered into a more intimidating sound by the filter in her mask.

She checked the time. It looked a bit goofy, but she had a digital watch around her left wrist. Function over form, and all that. It was 3:53. She was actually a little behind schedule: she'd spent too long experimenting. She'd discovered something, you see, during her defeat and capture of the Bombshells, and she had to make sure that this discovery wasn't going to screw her over later. The job could wait for something that important. But she was sure she was alright now, so things could proceed. It was time for the real fun.

She pulled them all, as they whimpered and trembled, to their knees. She stood behind them, deliberately cultivating some morbid imagery to intimidate the poor girls even more. She knew she wasn't going to kill them, but they didn't necessarily know that, did they? But they really shouldn't have been frightened. All she was going to do was flick them.
"Mh!"
"Mh!"
"Mh!"

Just a neat little tap on the back of the head. It didn't even make that much sound when Lupus did it. There was a rather invigorating symmetry about the way they responded. A cute little squeal; a stiffening of the back; and then a long, low moan as consciousness began to fall out from under them. There was a mirror fixed onto the wall across from them, and in it Lupus watched their expressions shift from frightened to startled to rather prettily sleepy. With an appealing synchronicity, their eyes rolled back, and they began to go limp.
"Mmmmmmmmhhhhhhhh..." A helpless sigh as the maidens yielded up their consciousnesses, blending into a sweet melange. They wilted, swaying like cut flowers, before falling forward, knocked out cold.

"Holy shit!" Lupus laughed. She'd just... switched them off! She was still a novice to this level of power, and it was a thrill finding new ways of using it. She got a real kick out of taking the Bombshells down. It was hilarious how weak they were compared to her, now. It was kind of sexy, too. Smiling beneath her mask, Lupus looked down at the limp ladies at her feet, all bundled up and slinky and vulnerable. Lupus laughed again when she realised that, face down, she actually found it easier to tell Freebird apart from the others: she had such a tight, shapely little ass that even wrapped up in tape and face down she was easily identifiable.

An image shot its way through Lupus' skull: Maria's forlorn, tear-stained face. It almost spoiled Lupus' fun, almost made it feel wrong to enjoy ogling her and the others. But Lupus' id injected her with a hefty dose of spite to inure her to her superego's feeble prodding. They were bimbos. Pampered idiots who never had to deal with any real danger, something Lupus managed to believe at the same time as being immensely resentful about the danger she'd been exposed to in her first and only mission as a Bombshell. Freebird, Cecily, Maiden-America - it was their own fucking fault. They deserved everything that they got.

And everything that they would get.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

It was a special day. A new Commandant of the Marine Corps was being appointed, his passage of command ceremony being held at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Yes, there was the customary, folksy pomp associated with such celebrations, but traditions often seem silly to outsiders. Besides, this wasn't just some twat who'd weaselled his way into the good graces of the current president. The Commandant-to-be was anticipated to be a real turning point for an institution that, after being gutted in the Dark Days, really needed a new beginning. General Anton A. Erlenmeyer was widely considered to be a genuine genius, with a fine combination of the skills of manager, tactician and bean-counter that someone in his new position needed. He had been a major agitator for the need for more women in the higher ranks of the Corps - though perhaps less vehemently as he'd got further and further up the greasy pole - , he had good relations with his contemporaries in the other branches, as well as his counterparts in the militaries of other nations. Most importantly, while he loved the Marines' unique esprit de corps, he was conscious of the corrupting effect on the soul of any institution which taught the ways of violence. His appointment was a Good Thing, and nobody that anyone would listen to thought otherwise.

And indeed, in the twelve years that he would occupy the position, General Erlenmeyer would do a sterling job, living up to almost all of his promise. There was no incident of any significance that put a stain on his character. So it was a shame, then, that it all started so badly. It was just as the first round of speeches in honour of the outgoing commandant - who'd served an embarrassingly short, 7 month tenure - was being completed that it became clear this was going to be an unusual evening.

It was like something out of a cartoon. You know, when a character makes a dramatic entrance through a glass roof, with the shards somehow not cutting everyone underneath them to ribbons. Except in this particular version of events, the ceiling wasn't made of glass, but brick and mortar, and the falling masonry hospitalised a colonel and two enlisted men. In the confusion, a cloaked figure leapt in. Most people didn't even see her. Those who did didn't make the connection. She moved too fast. She was gone again before anyone could even think of ordering some kind of attack.

Erlenmeyer acquitted himself well even here, doing much to assuage the general confusion that had erupted. Quickly it was established that no-one had been killed. The wounded were sped to infirmaries. Security was redoubled. Orders were given and obeyed with admirable efficiency. So efficiently was it all carried out that, for a good three, maybe four minutes, nobody noticed what the figure had left them. They'd been placed by the podium where Erlenmeyer had been going to give his speech. Three bundles, wrapped in cloth. Except it wasn't just cloth. They were American flags. From the shape of them, it looked like there were bodies inside. Bravely, but unwisely, a stocky non-com leapt forward to unfurl them. He pulled the first one back, and in doing so sealed irrevocably its occupant's fate.

"Mmmmhhh...?" The removal of the flag was, to Maria, an immense physical relief. Her body was instantly cooled, her skin tingling with goosebumps in the cool, evening air. Still a little groggy, the first thing Maria noticed was that, to her delight, she'd been unwrapped, freed from the stifling mummification that her abductor had for. She looked up, and saw a young man in uniform, and almost laughed. Rescue! Lance had sent men after them. He'd saved them.

But the expression on the non-com's face was not comforting or kindly. It was embarrassed if it was anything. He felt he had to look away. It wasn't just because of Maria's short, tight, red dress. It wasn't just because of her toned, moist legs, which slid appetisingly back and forth against each other. It wasn't even just that she was bound in silky, red ribbons, coiled as sensually as possible around her calves, her firm, mahogany-coloured thighs, her arms and her pretty breasts. It was the hole cut in her outfit, a rough circle baring most of her stomach. And on Maria's tight abdomen, a message was written, in what looked like lipstick, scrawled in an angry hand
"Defective: return to sender."

"Nnnnnnnhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmppphhhh!!"
Startled, Maria looked to her right. She saw Debra and Cecily - safe, thank God - being unwrapped from flags of their own. The cry had come from Cecily. She had seen Maria, seen the vile, bullying humiliation that had been inflicted on her, and knew the same had been done to her, and to Debra. But that alone had not been enough to elicit Cecily's scream. There were worse fates, after all, than having an embarrassing note scribbled on your stomach. No - Cecily only gave her terrible cry when she saw where they were.

Hundreds. Hundreds and hundreds of men and women were looking at them. All in uniform, dress-uniform, like it was some great celebration or something. Their eyes burned into the three ribbon-bound maidens, and the maidens in turn realised that they were looking at marines, some of whom they'd seen before, who'd helped them on missions. Already most of them had thought these three superheroines to be feeble weaklings, but now - now whatever goodwill they'd earned was gone. It didn't matter how smoothly Van der Boek lobbied for the program to continue. There would be no support for it now, not after this obscene embarrassment of both them and the Corps itself.

There was some laughter, but it was not actually mocking. It was a ripple of confused, awkward uncomprehension, with many marines thinking it was some sort of strange, tasteless joke. Yet to the three, to the three who found their defeat and humiliation paraded before a thousand people, each laugh was an icicle through their hearts. The flashes of the cameras almost made them faint. Debra did faint, the poor, sweet girl fading with a rush of heady heat that sucked her out of conscious thought.

Cecily and Maria didn't faint, though they might have preferred to. They looked to each other, and neither found solace in the others' eyes. They saw their own despair mirrored, and though their cruel comrade had sealed their lips with gossamer strips of ribbon, they were able to communicate one idea quite easily.
"It's over."
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It took less than a day for the program to be dissolved. General Erlenmeyer was put through his paces on his very first day combating the forest fire that the Bombshells Incident had started. Cecily, Debra, and an almost inconsolable Maria were given notice almost immediately. They were given generous severance packages, but it seemed likely that their careers as superheroes, Bombshell or otherwise, were finished. The more highbrow papers refrained from printing any of the pictures in their reporting, but any publication with less dignity than the Boston Globe gleefully splashed the pictures on at least page 3. Erlenmeyer had meant quietly to faze the program out, to let the public forget about this awful, awful idea and then tuck it away. But now it was a full on disaster. He felt bad for the young ladies, but his hand was forced. The real kick in the teeth was that the project's architect, Lance Van der Boek, had been fired the day before the Bombshells' abduction. Even Colonel Doyle had been transferred out of the program, so there was no-one to hang the blame on fairly. Erlenmeyer would have to take it on the chin himself.

And where was Lance during all this, eh? Had he been at mission control, banging his fist and demanding that his girls be found and rescued? Had he been orchestrating some cunning scheme to ensure their safe return? Had he at least been inconsolable, perhaps drowning his fierce anxiety in a glass of bourbon? Had he fuck. He'd spent most of the time that the three had spent in captivity at home, watching reruns of CSI: Miami.

But though Lance had many faults, idleness was not one of them. He'd been lying low while the shit was flying to and from the fan, and watching the dominoes tumble. True, there weren't many dominoes, but he'd enjoyed watching them fall all the same. Fire him, would they? Ungrateful pricks. They didn't know what they owed him. They didn't know what his program had done for them. Everything was beginning to fall into place. Right when he'd ironed out the fucking kinks, they kick him out. It wasn't just ungrateful, it was stupid. So yes it was petty. Yes it was vile. Yes it was cruel in the extreme to do what he had done, but it wasn't as if they were dead. The point was, if the program wasn't going to be run by him, then the jackboot-squad wouldn't get to have it at all. Besides, it wasn't anything he hadn't done before. He'd fed information to Leatherback on the Bombshells' first mission to make sure they got captured, and could be saved by the marines. And now? He'd just performed a slightly fancier version of the same trick.

He was really quite pleased with himself. He'd never murder anyone. He'd never rape anyone. He'd never even steal anything, probably, but he was a genuine, functional sociopath. Anything he wanted, anything he needed, became the most important thing in the world. If you'd told Lance that getting his petty revenge on the generals who'd slighted him would result in the deaths of five children, then assuming that he was assured that this wouldn't come back to bite him in the ass later, he'd have accepted it.

So he was happy as a lamb as he took the elevator down to the garage in the second basement level of his apartment building. He owned a bulky Mercedes which he was sort of proud of. Truth be told he liked small cars better, liked the feel of driving them, but you couldn't be a tanned, muscled, high-flying businessman and drive around in a Volkswagen Golf. Still, he honestly liked the look of the Mercedes better, so it wasn't all about projecting status. But it wasn't going to be projecting status without its wheels.

They'd been ripped from the axles. Each was roughly bent, snapped off at the end. Someone had ripped his car apart. Gulping, he lowered his hand to the holster at his side: he'd never been able to detach himself from his old service weapon.
"Don't. You know it won't do shit to me." The voice was synthesised, or at least the filter masking it was.
Lance looked up. He wouldn't have seen her if she hadn't announced herself, remaining concealed in thick shadows, Bob Woodward style. He went very still. "Who's... who's there?"
"Like you don't know. Oh, I'm sorry, did you think I wouldn't figure it out? You get fired, and the same day someone offers me twenty-thousand bucks to snatch a few skirts? You're not the sly player you think you are, Lance. You're just a petty little jackass."

Lance smiled. Let Lupus puff up her chest and posture if she wanted. Lance was in no danger. "Okay, fine. You've rumbled me. And I think it was 10,000, actually."
"Oh, whoops, interest, I guess." She came forward a little.
Lance could see the triangular outline of her mask. It wasn't intimidating so much as it was unsettling.
"How did you find out about me?" Lupus asked. "I thought my..." She gestured at her armour. "I thought my thing was supposed to be top secret. You're a civilian, aren't you?"
"People talk," Lance said. "Your name came up. And I knew your history, Charlie. Naughty girl, right? Shame you quit my team. Looks like civilian life didn't treat you very well."
"Yeah well, look at me now," Lupus said, with a forced laugh. "Badass super-secret agent with awesome powers. Everything's looking up for Lupus."
"Don't count on that lasting too long," Lance replied. "With Erlenmeyer in charge, I figure your little division is going to get shut down within the week. But then, you knew that, didn't you? You wouldn't have taken on the extra-curricular work if you didn't see where the wind was blowing." He tutted. "Wouldn't want you back on skid row, would we?"

Lupus kicked a nearby car hard enough to crush its engine into splinters. "Why are you trying to piss me off?! I could kill you and there'd be nothing you could do about it!"
She had a point. Lance raised his hands conciliatorily. "You know I was leaving my apartment to drop off your payment. All ten thousand dollars of it. I'm gonna reach into my pocket for my car keys, okay?"
"You can reach for your dick, Lance, it doesn't make a difference to me. Nothing you can fit anywhere in that monkey-suit can hurt me." Lupus began to walk closer. Sure enough, she watched him open the trunk of his Mercedes, lift the felt cover at its bottom, revealing a large, black duffel bag.
"It's all here," Lance said. He held out the bag.
"I don't need your money," said Lupus. She then took the money. She appeared to have forgotten about her demand for extra payment.
"Hey, whether you need it or not's none of my business," Lance replied. "You earned it."

She'd have left then and there. She'd have gone on with her life, Lance with his. They'd never have met again. The problem was, Lance was just a little bit too slimy for his own good. As Lupus turned to slip back into the shadows, she heard him mutter 'stupid bitch' under his breath.
"...what was that?"
"What was what?" Lance said, quite convincingly. Sociopaths made for quite good liars. But not good enough. Before he could blink, Lupus was on him, snarling like an animal through the filter in her mask, and wrapping her right hand around his throat.

"You sleazy little dirtbag," Lupus hissed. "You think you're better than me? Huh? You think you're some hot shot? You're a parasite. I got no love for the oo-rah types, but at least they actually, like, do shit. You? You're a parasite!!"
"L... let me go!" Lance croaked.
"You think I forgot what you did to me? You think I don't forget that you turfed me out of your little bimbo club when you figured you'd replace me with some blonde with big tits?" In that moment, Lupus really believed that Lance had fired her. Really believed that the stern, taciturn Valora was a happy-go-lucky sexpot. "You know, Lance, it's funny. You giving me this job. Capture the Bombshells. Truss 'em up. Humiliate them in front of a big crowd of marines. Once I figured it was you - and that took about five seconds, I got to thinking, see," Lupus said. "Yeah, yeah, about that night. I think a lot about that night. The first night. That ship. Leatherback. Valora. We got caught. But you let it happen. You made it happen! You're an unimaginative little worm, and that's why you had me do it again! You worthless scumbag! You worm! You worm! Gonna deny it? Gonna fucking deny what you did to me?!"
He couldn't deny it. Lupus had crushed his windpipe. He'd suffocated long before Lupus had reached the screaming crescendo of her diatribe. She'd been holding a corpse for the last twenty-five seconds.

"Oh my God," Lupus said. "Oh my God." She dropped him. She dropped it. It fell to the ground in a messy heap. Lupus stared at it. A man had gone from being alive to being dead because of her. Because she'd squeezed a little to hard. It was surreal. She felt like Frankenstein's monster with the child by the lake: breaking it by playing too vigorously.

Suddenly the walls of the garage looked very small. Suddenly the armour felt particularly uncomfortable, particularly hot. Her head spun. Her legs shook. This was bad. This was really bad. People in the unit managing her, they knew. They knew what she could do, some might know she'd have reason to hate Lance Van der Boek. The police probably wouldn't make the connection between her and this corpse, but others might. She needed to leave. She needed to take her 10,000 and leave, straight away. She couldn't stay in San Diego. She couldn't stay in California. Well, whatever. To start with she needed out of this garage. She ran, her great strength giving her legs fantastic speed. And as she ran, she wondered where the hell she could go. And as she racked her brain, a thought drifted its way through her psyche, as though it had accidentally blown in through a window. She thought about that other one. Her replacement. The one that had been so powerful, and had so much promise. The one who'd vanished only a few weeks after joining. Yeah, no-one had been able to find Valora! Wherever she was -

- that's where Lupus would go.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

"That is a car," said a man named P.J., pointing at it with his left hand. P.J. was right. It was a car. You might be wondering why P.J., a thirty year old man, felt the need to make such an observation. He was in possession of all his faculties. He had seen cars before. Why, he had even driven a car on several occasions. It was the verticality of the car, relative to P.J., that made the vehicle worthy of comment. It was three storeys above P.J.. It was hanging over the edge of one of the buildings overlooking the industrial park where he and some colleagues were getting up to their criminal mischief.

"Yes," one of his companions, a man who went by the nom de plume 'Squee', eventually replied. "It is a car."
"Yes," P.J. reaffirmed. "It is." He raised his arm and pointed. "It's on top of that building."
"Yes," Squee assented. "There is someone lifting it over their head."
"Yes," P.J. said. "That is so."

It was, in fact, a 1998 Cadillac Escalade, and it belonged to Squee himself, but neither he nor P.J. were able to point that out, because the car was thrown at them. Not dropped: thrown, with just as much speed as a baseball from a skilled pitcher. P.J. and Squee's stultification collapsed into terrified screaming: they and the men with whom they were bartering scattered in all directions. It was just as well. The Escalade had been thrown, not at the men themselves, but at a large Ford truck, a truck containing a stockpile of powerful, exotic weaponry.

The impact, as the Escalade hit the truck, was much kinder at first on the latter vehicle. Upon impact, the front of the Escalade crumpled like paper, every window in it shattering, and almost cutting the car in half as it was twisted by shearing forces. The truck appeared at first to have got off relatively light: its rear axles snapped and its tyres burst, but the actual structure of it held together relatively well. But it only seemed that way for about a second: the Escalade's oil and petrol caught fire, and there was a small explosion. Unfortunately for the truck and its contents, this sent burning wreckage right into the hold. There was, therefore, a second explosion. A much, much larger one.

The truck seemed to spring alive for a moment, lurching upwards, its metal shell expanding outwards like a bag of microwave popcorn, before completely bursting apart, spewing shrapnel everywhere, the weapons within totally destroyed. Like the stricken vehicle was coughing with two mouths, fire erupted from front and back as further, smaller explosions were triggered, illuminating the industrial estate with a bright, grisly light, and further disgorging twisted, broken metal and plastic all around.

P.J. had been knocked to his feet by the force of the second explosion. His ears ringing, he scrambled to his feet, staring open-mouthed at the merged wreckage of the two vehicles. Simple, raw astonishment crowded out all other emotions: he barely even noticed the piece of metal embedded in his left thigh. He was aware that superhumans had been known to exist since the late nineteenth century. He was aware that his boss' organisation had been under siege by an extremely powerful superhuman for some weeks now. Yet for all that, he still couldn't accept that two solid, metal objects being squashed together like lumps of clay was anything short of magic. Catching sight of the woman responsible did nothing to allay this impression.

Long were the strides of the warrior! Heavy were her steps and fierce was her countenance! Gold were the sumptuous waves of her hair. Red were her hands and red were her feet and red were her full, sweet lips. Red, too, were her thoughts, and terrifying were the strength and the beauty that Valora wielded. She bellowed, and it took a moment for it to become clear to her dumbstruck foes that her ursine roar contained a command:
"Surrender."

Meekly, they obeyed. Many of the employees of the crime lord Milo Patáky were fools, but none were so foolish as to fight Valora herself with the measly handguns they wielded. The whole purpose of the night's purchase had been precisely to acquire weapons that might be capable of killing Valora: poisons, rocket launchers, the heaviest of automatic weapons, and even some eye-wateringly expensive experimental weaponry. All ruined now. All destroyed. They had lost before they had even started.

At the start, when Valora had begun her ruthless campaign against Patáky's businesses, the gangsters had mocked her. A pretty blonde in a leotard and bright-red boots? Wearing a domino mask? Wearing a cape? It was enough to make one laugh. But after her first few victories, feeling changed. It had been seen that her choice of attire, her more-superhero-than-superhero outfit was designed to mock them. Hence leaving her luscious thighs covered only by nylons. Hence leaving her leotard partially unzipped so they could all see her astonishingly generous bust straining against its tight, blue confines. She was taunting them. Teasing them. It was only now that P.J. realised that that had been just as wrong as their first assessment. The way she dressed had nothing to do with them at all. It just what she was. Had she been stark naked she would still have made the rest of them look small.

Not that Valora - not that Valerie - would have enjoyed hearing herself described in this way. Even as she bested hardened criminals with impossible feats of strength, she wouldn't have thought of herself in such exalted terms. Oh, sure, she was confident in her strength. She knew she cut an attractive, impressive figure. But the ostentatious manner in which her kind were sometimes described didn't gel with her experience of a superhero's life. It normally meant hard graft, patience, and boredom.

Then again, tonight was a bit of an exception to that rule. Valerie had been crushing Milo Patáky's operation using her own sources and her own hard work - but this battle had fallen into her lap. For the first time, the police - the Maine state troopers, as it happened - had come to her. They'd found out about the arms deal, and given the deadliness of the weaponry involved, some bright young buck had had suggested that giving the local indestructible superwoman a bell might not be on the bad end of the idea continuum.

Nevertheless, when the police eventually turned up to arrest Valora's swiftly-conquered foes, she was expecting they would bring problems with them. She'd caused a lot of damage, and given her methods, it wouldn't have been too surprising if she'd unintentionally killed one of the criminals. She imagined that her commission would be docked, perhaps even held back entirely, as a result. She didn't feel bad about her tactics: if Patáky's gang were buying weapons specifically to try to kill her, then there was always the chance that one of them would work.

So when she was approached by a tall, thin policeman whose pointed, slim nose, light brown goatee and thinly plucked eyebrows made it impossible for Valerie to imagine that he would speak in anything other than a thick, French accent, she expected complaints.
Instead, the officer took off his hat, smiled broadly, and thanked Valora vociferously in a very ordinary, American accent.
"I don't want to think," he said, "what might have happened if you hadn't been here to help."
"Thank you, uh..." She looked at his uniform for his rank, realised she had no idea what she was looking for and guessed: "...captain."
"Lieutenant," he corrected her. "Lieutenant O'Toole." His tone suggested that he was trying to avoid sounding condescending, rather than that he was annoyed by Valerie's error. He was genuinely glad to have her there.

O'Toole looked at the still-flaming wreckage of the two vehicles Valora had destroyed, and whistled.
"You did that?" he asked.
"Yeah," Valora replied, preparing to have to defend her actions.
"Jeez!" O'Toole laughed with a pure, almost innocent surprise. "How?"
Valora found herself smiling slightly. "Well, I... picked up the car, and I threw it as hard as I could against the truck." She pointed to the roof of one of the warehouses. "From there."
"Wow!" O'Toole said. "Sorry, it's just - we don't get many capes in this part of Maine. We don't get much of anything in this part of Maine." He shook his head. "It would have been a bloodbath if we'd gone in ourselves."
"I'm glad I could help," Valora said. "Besides," she added, put at ease by the lieutenant's manner, "I'm grateful too."
"How's that?"
"I don't know if the weapons these guys were buying can hurt me, but I don't know that they can't. If I'd taken these men on without knowing what they had I could have been killed. You might have saved my life, Lieutenant O'Toole."
O'Toole seemed. "I hadn't realised you'd be in any danger at all. I'm sorry, it's just - the way the papers have been talking about you, I thought you were invincible!"
His tone had been jocular, but in response to his words Valora's face took on a grim countenance. The change was so sudden that O'Toole was visibly startled. Valora felt bad, and forced herself to smile.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Valora said. "I look forward to working with you again." She almost winced at the affected, superhero's superhero tone she'd taken. She half expected the words 'Stand back, citizen!' to come out of her mouth.
"Ah, well, about that -" O'Toole had always been a pleasant person, but a shy one too: his becoming a policeman had been intended as a deliberate war against that meeker side of his nature. But the voluptuous, car-chucking superwoman brought his boyish nerves back to an almost embarrassing degree. He felt like he was about to ask her to the prom, or something.
"What is it?" Valora asked, trying not to sound impatient.
"Well - I think it's kind of a joke the way this state treats superheroes," O'Toole said. "For the danger of your work and the good you do it's a scandal. It'd an unusual arrangement, but I've spoken to my major, and to the Confessors' office, and they've agreed it won't affect the money you're earning from meeting your quotas."
"What won't?"
"We want to put you on retainer. We -" His manner took on an embarrassed, almost desperate quality. "Look, this part of Maine isn't like it used to be. The nineties were chaos, and some counties in this state are poorer now than they were then. We can't afford to equip S.W.A.T. teams, and there's never time to bus them in from Portland. Portland can barely afford them! So would you consider working with us? All I could get my bosses to agree was an extra four hundred dollars, but - would you think about it?"
"I don't know what to say," Valora replied. "An extra four hundred a month would -"
"Oh, sorry," O'Toole interrupted. "It would be an extra four hundred a week." It was not easy to force Valora to be silent, but O'Toole had managed it.
Valora stared at the officer with a searching disbelief, as though she were waiting for some kind of catch to spring forth and reveal itself. But none appeared.
"Okay, I was wrong," Valora said. "I know exactly what to say."
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Oh, well done Valerie!" Saskia laughed, clapping Valerie on the shoulder. "Richly, richly deserved." The slim journalist beamed with delight, her fine features lighting up. The two of them were in the Sun's photography lab, low lit and empty at the end of a long day. Saskia had been hoping to run into Valerie all day, but she'd been fastidiously avoided. She'd invented an excuse to come and see her new friend, but had abandoned all pretence of happenstance immediately.
As for Valerie, it was not as if she was unhappy to see Saskia: the girl had such an optimistic, friendly manner that it was hard not to enjoy her being around. She wanted to share her good news from the day before. She'd offered it up freely. But it made her feel... strange.

"Thanks," Valerie said, after a conspicuously long silence. "Thank you," she said again, with a bit more vigour and sincerity. "Oh, and thank you for the other night, too," Valerie added. "You and Piper are..." She shrugged, said simply: "You and Piper are really good company. I know I come across as kinda serious, but I had a good time, yeah?"
Saskia took Valerie's left hand with her right, and squeezed it. She wanted to kiss it. There was a maternal instinct in Saskia, and finding out that her young friend had such a torrid experience with her parents made that instinct all the stronger. The fact that Valerie seemed, in her own dour way, to be acknowledging and appreciating Saskia's small efforts was truly heartwarming.

"Dollar stores," Valerie said.
"Uh - I'm sorry?"
"I don't have to shop at dollar stores anymore. I hate them more than anything. You ever been to one of those places?"
"Once or twice, I suppose," Saskia answered, still not quite sure of the direction the conversation was leading her.
"I mean have you ever done your grocery shopping at them? Well I have. I hate it. I hate that the aisles are so badly organised. I hate that they're never completely clean. I hate -" A grimacing smile flashed on Valerie's face for a brief moment, as she both realised that it was silly to feel so strongly about something so trivial, but also that she felt even more strongly about it than she'd thought she did. She couldn't stop herself.

"I hate the shitty, cheap little toys they sell," she said, finding that the words were coming of their own accord. "That's the worst. The crappy plastic that looks like it'll crumble into dust if you sneeze on it. That's the worst. I hate seeing kids whine and cry until they get one because, like - that's what you're crying about? Like, how shitty must that kid's life be if a six pack of deformed army-men is gonna make their day?
I mean I know kids sometimes get fixated on shit for no reason, but you can tell the difference. You can tell the difference between the ones who are just, y'know, being fussy kids and the ones who are so miserable that they really think the army-men are gonna make them happy. And I don't mind when the parents are stern and say no. I don't mind if they get annoyed at their kids. Hell, I don't even mind that much when they lose their temper, because God knows I would if I were in their situation. No, what I can't stand, what I can't fucking stand is when the parents just take the toy and toss it in their basket without even looking at their kid, just so they can shut the little bastard up. I..."

She caught herself. She could have caught herself before, but she hadn't wanted to. She only stopped now because she was speaking just a bit too loudly to be polite, and because she was completely obscuring how genuinely glad she was at her new financial situation.
"Point is," Valerie said, "I don't have to deal with it anymore. I'm not poor anymore. I can shop wherever the hell I want. I can go to a Planet Organic and buy, like, okra. I don't even know what okra is. I just know I want some."
"Then hooray for Lieutenant O'Toole," Saskia said. "From now on I shall think of him whenever okra passes my lips."
"Amen," Valerie replied.

Saskia caught sight of some snaps that were hanging to dry on a piece of clothesline, strung haphazardly between two light fixtures. She moved to take a closer look, her coltish legs carrying her with slinky, gliding ease. They weren't Valerie's snaps. Truth be told they were a little bit beyond Valerie's talent: the blonde was a workhorse, not an artist, and would never have had any pretensions otherwise. Her talents were in her abilities as a warrior - as a hero. Saskia held it, in fact, as unshakeable truth that Valora was the greatest of her kind within her half of the nation. She'd have made the offer O'Toole had made in a heartbeat. But why had O'Toole made it?
"Valerie," Saskia said, "why -"

She stopped herself immediately. In fact, she couldn't believe she'd been brainless enough for it not to occur to her immediately. She knew why O'Toole had asked Valerie in particular, and she knew why Valerie felt ambivalent about it, too.

It was because of the Bombshells.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Blame the slow news day. Blame the fact that the editor of a certain major Boston newspaper was sure that there was more juice to squeeze out of the downfall of the lovely Bombshells. Blame the fact that Valerie was photogenic, and editors are always looking to 'add a bit of colour to the run'. Blame the fact that Lance Van der Boek's mysterious murder meant interest in the Bombshells story was magnified and extended significantly.

And so it was that just as 2005 rolled into 2006, this certain Boston newspaper reignited public interest in - indeed, awareness of - Valora, framing the article with a snap taken at the Bombshells' absurd debut. She was standing prominently, and proudly, and the way the shot had been framed had the other three Bombshells fading into the background. It was too perfect.
"Valora: the Unbowed Bombshell" was the title. It made much of how the Bombshells had floundered and ultimately failed, while Valora had already begun to win renown in a place where it seemed almost impossible for a superhero to make their name. To support its conceit, the article drew a great deal of emphasis to the victories that the Bombshells had won when Valora had still been part of their ranks, and pooh-poohed the successes that they'd had without her. They even, the sly devils, managed to get a quote from someone in the Maine Superhuman Registration Bureau - otherwise known as 'confessors'.

Of course, Rodney Burke hadn't given his name. He'd just been quoted as a 'source within the Maine SRB'. But the old-ish, fat-ish, dull-ish Rodney had been easy to persuade to talk. He'd been made to feel important: a man in the know. A man to whom people wanted to listen.
"I've never," he'd said, "interviewed a more powerful superhuman. I checked the records," he'd explained, failing to let his interviewer know that he'd made his check after having spent days with Valora's voice ringing in his ears, unable to get the mighty maiden out of his mind. "In terms of actual, physical strength," he explained, "no registered hero is stronger, except for Imperion. I don't know what these - these Bombshell people were thinking, but they must have been out of their minds to kick her off the squad."
It was that detail which persuaded the paper's editor to put the article about Valora on the front page. The Bombshells had had one of the physically strongest women in the world on their team and they hadn't made more of it? And now she was slumming it in, apparently, Portland? What, basically, the fuck? The humiliating failure of the remaining Bombshells only made this question more urgent. There was a whiff of drama, and had Lance Van der Boek still been alive, his phone would have been ringing off the hook.

When Valerie had seen this headline originally - Saskia had made sure she saw it - she had been distantly pleased that she was getting some recognition. She even puffed her chest up a bit when she saw what Rodney Burke had said about her. She knew she was strong, but she'd always sort of assumed she was just the best of the mediocre. Hearing otherwise was... not unpleasant. No, the problem came when the Portland Sun, the very paper that she and Saskia worked at, seized on the national attention for what was now Maine's only famous superhero of the past fifteen years.

So, when Lieutenant O'Toole made his heartfelt, generous offer, Valerie couldn't be wholly pleased. When the same people who had looked at her with suspicion and disdain upon her arrival in the state now cheered when they occasionally saw Valora in the open, she could not be wholly pleased. When the money began to roll in - well it was hard not to be pleased with that, but there it was an impure pleasure. There was frustration, frustration that these rewards had been long deserved and given now only arbitrarily. Anxiety that someone in the Marines would still care enough to expose her assault on Colonel Doyle if she got too famous. And guilt, of course. Guilt that her relative wealth and relative fame were built on the back of the Bombshells' failure. Valerie had once declared that California was bullshit. It seemed now that she'd have to widen the net of her accusation.

And the worst thing? When the Sun reported on her brutal decimation of organised crime in the Pine Tree State with sudden, disingenuous interest. And, to punctuate their manufactured pride, they coined the sobriquet that would stick with Valora for years to come:
"The Mighty Maiden of Maine."

Valerie hated it.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

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The FBI didn't have a field office in Maine itself. The nearest one was in Boston, and it was just simpler to bus somebody out than to bring their suspect in. So Agent Lorelei Lorenzo was sent to speak with him. She was a woman who looked exactly like her romantic, attractive name didn't suggest: she was short, square, plain, about as fat as an active federal agent could get away with, had a snub nose, small eyes, sweaty palms, and thin, dull-coloured hair. She cared nothing for her appearance beyond looking as respectable as her job demanded. She was a good, though not excellent, interrogator and that was why she had been dispatched to Portland on a dreary January morning.

When she arrived at the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct, Agent Lorenzo found a relatively accommodating constable to show her to where the suspect was waiting. More importantly the constable was willing to get her a cup of coffee, without which Agent Lorenzo would have been absolutely useless. But it was such good, such unexpectedly good, coffee, that Agent Lorenzo couldn't help but grin. With her squat, quiet, dopey-eyed satisfaction she put the helpful constable in mind of a large frog sitting in a small body of water: ugly, but so obviously at home that it was sort of satisfying to look at.
"Okay, friend," Lorelei said in a strangled, thin voice. "Take me to him, eh?"

He didn't look like much. He was barely any taller than Agent Lorenzo, was thin to the point where, FBI training aside, Lorelei was quite sure that she could have taken him in a fight without much resistance. He wore an expensive suit, and though it had been tailored to his bony frame as well as it reasonably could have been, he still looked like a little boy dressed up for church. He made the lawyer next to him, a moderately good looking man who spent perhaps an hour at the gym every three weeks, look like a bronzed Adonis. The idea that he was some sort of criminal mastermind seemed absurd. The idea that this Milo Patáky had anything to do with the grisly murder of James Oleander was even more ridiculous.

"G'morning," Lorelei mumbled, coming into the interview room with her eyes down, hugging a briefcase against her side. She was a devotee of the Columbo school of interrogation: putting her targets both at ease and off-balance by appearing messy and a little unprofessional. "Agent Lorelei Lorenzo, FBI."
"Good morning, Agent," Milo replied. He seemed nervous. He struggled to meet Lorelei's eyes. Whether he was shifty because he was guilty or shifty because he was uncomfortable being interrogated was hard to say.
"Thanks for -" Lorelei stopped to yawn. "Thanks for coming."
"My client's always happy to co-operate with the FBI, ma'am," Patáky's lawyer said.
"Uh-huh."

Lorelei took out a thick, blown envelope, plopped it onto the table. "I'm correct in saying that Mr James Oleander was, until four weeks ago, an employee at the Falmouth Grand Casino?"
Patáky's lawyer whispered briefly in his client's ear.
"That's correct," Milo mumbled.
"Do you know what happened to him after that?"
"No. All I know is that one day he didn't come to work, and wasn't answering his phone."
"Do you know of anything that would have made him leave the country?"
"No. I wasn't aware that he had left the country."

Lorelei fiddled with the envelope. Ceteris paribus she'd have been inclined to believe him. He seemed like he'd be a very bad liar - but then truly excellent liars gave that impression too, didn't they?
"It's been alleged that Mr Oleander abducted two women from their home. Do you know why he would do this?"
Milo didn't answer immediately. He glanced at his lawyer, back at Lorelei, and then tented his fingers, then untented them and tapped his fingertips together.
"No," he said. "I haven't the slightest idea."
Lorelei didn't know if Milo had been lying in response to her other questions, but she was absolutely certain that his last answer had been completely honest.

"We think the accusation is credible," Lorelei continued. "Admittedly, it's an odd situation. Our office has been told..." She pretended to need to consult her notes. "Uh... sorry... oh, here it is." She coughed. "The two women were rescued from his clutches by a superhero. 'Valora'." She studied Milo's face for a reaction, but found none. She went on. "Apparently, Mr Patáky, one of his alleged victims had proof that Oleander had tried to kill you. The kidnapping was his attempt to destroy that proof."
Milo blinked. "Kill me?"
"Yup."
Milo took out a handkerchief, padded his forehead with it. "Pardon me, Agent Lorenzo," he said, "but I find that a little difficult to believe."
"You're at liberty to believe or disbelieve as you choose, Mr Patáky." Lorelei said. "I'm just explaining why the two of us are having this conversation."
Milo seemed confused. "You... think he might try again?"
"Oh, I don't think that's very likely, sir." Lorelei leaned forward. "See, James Oleander is dead."
"What?" Milo went very stiff. "James is... he's dead? How?
"Murdered. Stabbed to death." Now was the moment of truth, if there was going to be one at all. Lorelei opened the envelope, took out on of the pictures, and placed it on the table, turning it so that Milo could see it properly. It was a picture of Oleander, with a knife sticking out of the top of his head.

Milo cried out, turned away in apparent disgust. His lawyer began making the usual protests, of course, but that didn't interest Lorelei. What interested her was that - whatever his involvement may or may not have been - Milo's disgust seemed genuine.
"I don't mean to distress you," she said, putting the photograph back in the envelope. "But I hope you see my point."
"Yes," Milo replied, still covering his mouth with his hand. "You think I have a motive for killing him."

Lorelei leaned back. "I'll be blunt, sir. Some serious accusations have been made against you by men claiming to have worked for you."
"Claiming," Milo's lawyer repeated.
"Oh, sorry that's my mistake," Lorelei said. "They definitely do work for you. For one of your casinos, or bars, or that parking lot you own in Augusta. It's just that they say they do more for you than their job descriptions would suggest."
"Like what?"
"Racketeering and drug dealing. Bribery."
"But not murder, I take it?"
Lorelei hesitated. "No. None of them have confessed to murdering for you. Will they?"
"You obviously suspect me of involvement in James' death," Milo said, ignoring Lorelei's question, "and under the... bizarre circumstances I suppose I understand why. But this... gangster stuff is nonsense. There have always been unsavoury rumours about me, but rumours is all that they are! I mean for - for God's sake I've been federally audited three times in the past ten years! I think your colleagues concluded that I was several million dollars in assets short of being Al Capone, Agent Lorenzo!"
"Sir, please don't upset yourself," Agent Lorenzo asked.
"Upset myself? You just showed me pictures of a man I've worked with closely for years with a knife sticking out of his head! He - he was my friend, for God's sake!" There was snot coming out of his nose, and he awkwardly wiped it away. "If you had anything palpable I'd be under arrest. I'm not under arrest, I take it?"
"No, sir," Agent Lorenzo replied. "But you obviously realise that you're a person of interest to the FBI."
"If that," Milo said, getting out of his chair, "is supposed to scare me, then - " He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. "Well, it doesn't!" He stormed out, quickly followed by his lawyer.

Anyone who had known Milo - nervous, paranoid little Milo - would have expected exactly what they saw. A nervous, quiet beginning, followed by embarrassing loss of self-control and petulance. But by the time, about a minute and a half after leaving the interview room, Milo reached his car, there was no trace of nervousness, or anger, or - well of anything. Agent Lorenzo had been modest in her assessment of her abilities, but even so she'd overestimated herself.
Milo hadn't been surprised at finding about James' kidnapping attempt: one of his contacts in the Portland police department had passed it along to him when Saskia Dubois and Piper had been interviewed by the police. Milo hadn't been disgusted by the picture of James' corpse: he'd suppressed a smile. Milo hadn't lost his temper when Lorenzo had obliquely accused him of being a gangster. But he could pretend to.

It was like a superpower. All it had taken was one violent murder, and one night of a series of the most terrifying, hideous nightmares ever experienced by a human being, and Milo had become a truly perfect actor. He could only play one role, yes, but he could play it absolutely perfectly. That role was himself. Himself as he had been before he'd taken the life of the closest thing he had to a friend with his own hands. He could pretend he was still a craven, cowardly, snivelling paranoiac, and nobody was any the wiser.

Even Milo's new adjutant, waiting for his employer at his limo, didn't understand Milo's new state, despite having only met him after his transformation. His name was John Mann, and he was a genuine hunk: square jaw, powerful shoulders, and muscles that would have made Vince McMahon blush. Before Anton Novak's organisation, and indeed Anton Novak himself, had been decapitated John Mann had been one of its mid-level dealers. He ran his crew well: they all had a degree of personal loyalty to him. He'd made significantly more money than most of his counterparts, even in fallow years where Novak's supply chain had been threatened and they'd had to water down their wares to an almost comical extent. And, which is what made Milo sure that John was the right choice to be his new second in command, he'd had no loyalty to Novak, having been brought under the Bouncing Czech's auspices only recently, and not wholly willingly. He was strong, he was intelligent, and he was capable both of negotiation and of violence. In that respect, he was a completely suitable replacement for James Oleander.

"Everything go alright?" John asked, as Milo hurried in his stuttering, duck-like fashion towards his vehicle.
"Mm," Milo grunted, only meeting John's eyes for a brief moment, and then looking up into the sky. It was snowing: a light, wet sleet under a cushion of thick, grey cloud. Not pleasant weather, not fun or dramatic. Just inconvenient, and cold. It was only in such weather, only when everything was grey, and damp, and unromantic, when everyone was huddled in their coats and jackets, that Milo didn't look out of place. He was hunched, and had his arms folded tightly across his stomach for warmth, but it seemed appropriate. He fit.

Milo passed John as he entered the car, and slipped slightly on the wet ground as he did. He bumped into John, quite hard, almost making his powerful adjutant fall over himself. Collecting himself, Milo gave a mumbling, but relatively sincere, apology and stepped into the car. It was a minor incident. It shouldn't have had any lasting effect on either of them. And, indeed, within about twenty seconds Milo had forgotten it completely. It was John that it affected more. When Milo had fallen against him, John's heart had leapt into his throat. It was fear. Not blinding, shrieking terror, but John was identifiably frightened.
"Ah, fuck it," he thought. "Who isn't a bit nervous of their own boss?" It was a plausible rationalisation, but John found himself strangely unconvinced by it.

"We are having," Milo said, once they were safely on their way back to Maine, "a problem. My interviewer... suggested to me that someone has been talking. And given the numbers that I've lost to her," he said, avoiding using Valora's nom-de-plume out of sheer contempt, "there are quite a few potential candidates."
"They didn't arrest you," John replied, "so I'm guessing they didn't have anything too solid. Either they're trying to rattle you because they feel like flexing their muscles, or they're specifically trying to see how you react. Some kinda trap, maybe."
Milo regarded John closely. "What kind of trap? Suggest something."
John thought for a moment. "Like... maybe one your guys that Valora arrested isn't talking, but the Feds think that maybe he's gonna?"
"Go on."

John squirmed a little. He had a good brain, but had had a bad upbringing, and found that these little tactical chit-chats strained his ability to articulate himself.
"Okay so," he said, "let's say they're putting pressure on one of your guys to roll them up and get to you, yeah? He's not budging, so they start giving him shit about how you'll act as though he'll talk even if he doesn't. They slip info to you that maybe he is talking, you try to shut him up. If you don't get him, now the Feds have proof that you want to off the guy, so he talks. If you manage to kill him - so what, he's just another thug, right?"
"They didn't suggest anyone in particular," Milo replied. "I have no idea whom they might mean. Whom would you guess?"
"I don't know your men very well," John replied, bluntly. "A lot of the ones in custody I don't know at all. But..."
"But?"
"I'd be suspicious of anyone that you took on from Novak who's in custody now. I mean, it's not that Novak..." He knew what he wanted to say, but he needed to feel around for the words. "It's not that he... inspired loyalty. But - "
"Do I?" Milo interrupted. "Inspire loyalty, I mean?"
"... I don't know," John replied. He had a feeling he was being tested. Didn't know what the test was. "My point is there's gonna be people who aren't sure of you yet. Think you might get paranoid and started offing people just 'cause they got arrested."
"So what would you recommend that I do?" Milo asked.
"Well, you don't have to worry about the low-ranking guys. The way you've got everything set up they may not even know they work for you. They sure as sh -" He stopped himself. Instinctively he felt that it wasn't right to swear in Milo's presence. "They won't be able to prove it even if they suspect it. So there's only four or five mid-ranking guys that you need to worry about. Make sure they know they'll be looked after if they're quiet."
"Good," Milo said.
John realised his boss hadn't really been looking for his advice. Milo had already decided on the very course of action that John had suggested. That had been the test. He wondered what Milo would have done if he'd failed.

"There is one other thing we need to do," Milo said.
"Kill Valora?"
"Hm? Oh, well, that wasn't what I was going to have said. But we've been trying to kill her for quite some time." Milo spoke with a dreary lack of interest.
"Sir, maybe we should -"
"No," Milo said, making John start. It wasn't that Milo's reaction had been particularly vicious or extreme, but it was the first moment during their entire conversation where he'd shown an actual emotion. "I am not," Milo explained, "bringing in another superhuman. They are unpredictable. They are expensive. And I'm not altogether sure that we'd be able to find someone who could match... her. All they would do is fail, and cost me more."

"Okay, Mr Patáky," John said. "What's the other thing we need to do, then?"
"Tell me," Milo said, crossing his legs and fixing his sharp eyes directly on his subordinate's. "Who in my organisation do you like the least?"
"Uh...?" John wasn't sure what Milo meant. "Like, who pisses me off the most?"
"Mm," Milo replied. "If you want to think of it like that."
John thought. "...Marshall Weems. The guy you've got in charge of distribution to Rhode Island."
"Why?"
"He thinks he's way better looking than he is. He chews gum with his mouth open. He never stops talking about his fucking exercise routines. Actually he does stop sometimes: so he can brag about sleeping with high-school girls." John's nose curled. "And the guy smells like a frat house." John grimaced. He really did hate Marshall. "Can I ask why you care?"
"Of course, John. I thought it would be a good idea for us to murder someone. We'll make efforts so that it doesn't seem arbitrary: make it appear as if they've been informing to the police. This way, we seem strong, but not psychotic - punishment to the traitors, reward for the loyal. You've been so useful I thought I'd reward you by letting you choose."
"...what?"
"We need blood," Milo explained. "We occupy a violent world, John. Simply doing the rational thing will not be enough to keep the loyalty of our men behind bars. People of their sort - of your sort - need to be reassured of the strength of their side, not just their benevolence.."
"And what 'sort' is that?" John asked. He was black, and Milo wasn't, and it felt like a question that needed asking.
Milo saw his subordinate's suspicions, and a grimly amused smile flickered on his face for a moment.
"Men, John," he said. "I mean men."

They didn't go back to the Falmouth Grand. Press were there too often now, the whiff of scandal too strong for them to resist. Instead, they went to a small apartment Milo rented that he used as a secondary office: he owned plenty of property, but rents were easier to arrange and cancel. He could move out easily if he wanted. He entered, found two of his secretarial staff getting on with some paperwork. One was a man, one was a woman, and the latter stole what was just a little too long to be called a glance at John as they entered. That Milo's new adjutant was another handsome, strong man was no coincidence: James had always been useful in pulling attention away from Milo, putting people off balance, making them underestimate Milo, and it was an advantage he hadn't wanted to give up.

"Within the next few days, please, John," Milo said as he sat down at his small, black desk. He sounded as though he were asking John to put the covers on his TPS reports, not to frame and execute an innocent man. Well, innocent of treachery, anyway.
"Sure," John grunted, before leaving his employer to his own devices, still unsure why Milo put him so starkly ill-at-ease.

So Milo was alone. He sat back in his office chair. He swivelled it around. He stared out the window at the unimpressive Portland skyline, the image broken up by the sleet. He thought, calmly, about the problems he was having.
"I'm being investigated by the police.
I have attracted the attention of the F.B.I..
In the past month, dozens of my employees have been jailed.
James is dead.
I am being openly accused of criminality in the popular press.
My revenue streams are down substantially.
I have lost almost all political support.
James is dead.
My wife no longer veils her disgust when she looks at me.
I am being personally targeted by the single most powerful superhuman in the North-Eastern United States, against whom all my attempts at killing have failed.
No-one can protect me from her.
She could kill me whenever she liked.
No-one could stop her.
James is dead.
"
When Milo realised that he had his head down over a toilet bowl, vomiting and screaming at the top of his lungs, clawing at his own face with his fingernails, he began to think that he might, potentially, need to reconsider his strategy for dealing with Valora.

As for John, it was a shame that he was already in his car by the time Milo's screams had started, for it would have helped him to understand why he was so frightened of the man. John was, intuitively, a very perceptive person. Astonishingly uncaring parents and a life of thuggery and relative brutality had quashed this talent in him, but in another life he would have been an extraordinarily effective psychoanalyst. He was afraid of Milo because he could instinctively sense that Milo's new power of self-imitation was not really self-imitation at all. He was in the grips of a powerful dissociative episode, one that he was rather desperately trying to sustain. He was teetering on the edge of madness, and John was afraid because he was intelligent enough to know that madness was dangerous.

Nevertheless, when he got the call asking him to put out feelers for a superhuman assassin, he was relieved.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

It was the middle of the night when she arrived in Portland for the first time. The snow had fallen two days earlier, but the city was still wet, and she didn't like it one bit. She'd seen many cities. She'd done many things. She was experienced now, and powerful, and sure of purpose. It had been coincidence that had made her aware of John Mann's request, for a superhuman assassin to deal with Valora. In fact, it suited her perfectly: what better way to make a name for herself?

She wore black. It was tight, and form-fitting, and functional. It looked good on her, too. She probably wasn't as good looking as Valerie Orville, but she was still a young, attractive woman. She liked looking good. She liked attention. But she liked being out of the spotlight too. Her life had made it necessary, and it suited her talents. She was supremely confident in those talents, and in her victory. The contract was made. Valora would fall.

Valora was not difficult to find. It had become common knowledge in Maine's criminal underworld that she was working with Maine's state police. All she'd needed to do was put in an anonymous tip to the state troopers that there was going to be a big drug shipment, with lots of dangerous weapons, and odds on Valora would show up. And sure enough, as Valora's unseen enemy perched near-invisibly on a high rooftop overlooking the jetty, the blonde showed up.

She seemed confused. No-one was there. No drugs. No scary men. No big guns. She didn't see the powerful superhuman watching her, the superhuman who had taken a fair stock of Valora's strengths, and who suspected she might have sussed out a few weaknesses. She looked so beautiful. So bright and buxom and soft. So vulnerable. So unprepared for battle with a real warrior. The woman in black smiled as she saw this. She cracked her knuckles, popped the joints in her neck. She was ready. Valora was not. It would be over quickly. Her smooth, feminine body would fall, the hero moaning and helpless at her hands. Before she took her life, before she did what Mann had asked, she would take her pleasure of the lovely blonde. She would defeat her utterly and ravish her utterly.
"Uh, excuse me?"

The woman in black turned around. She was rather startled to find another woman standing behind her. A woman in cracked, black armour.
"Hi," the armoured woman said. "I'm Lupus. You wouldn't happen to be here for the bounty on the bimbo, would you?"
"Wh -"
"Yeah, see, 'cause," Lupus said, casually wrapping an arm around the other's throat, "I kinda heard about that too. And I kinda, maybe, sorta really kinda want that myself. Hey!"

The other woman had tried to fight back, using her powers over shadow to stab at Lupus with deadly, shadowy needles. They accomplished exactly nothing.
"Cut it out," Lupus said, squeezing just a teensy bit harder.
With a whimper, her enemy meekly complied.
"Look, lady," Lupus said, "you seem like a nice girl. I'd hate to have to do something really nasty to you, so let me just make something nice and clear. You pass the message around to all your criminal underworld buddies: I get this. The bimbo is mine. Got it?"
A nod, and another whimper.
"Good." She tapped the assassin on the forehead, and put her into a coma that would last for a week, before dropping her body onto the wet, grey roof. "Now, then -"

But it was too late. Valora had realised the tip was crap, and had angrily left the scene, without noticing either Lupus or the assassin.
"Aw, CRAP!" Lupus yelled. She'd been trying to find Valora for weeks, long before Mann had put out his bounty, and tonight had been the first glimpse of her she'd had in all that time. "FUCK!! AAAAARRRRGHHHHHH!!!" Lupus screamed, smashing her foot on the roof beneath her, breaking the concrete completely, and leaving a neat, foot-shaped hole.

For you see, Lupus hadn't started looking for Valora because of the bounty. Hadn't come to this crappy state, this shitty city because of a promise of money. She'd seen that article too, the one that had called Valora the 'Unbowed Bombshell'. After the ignominy that had followed Lupus' exit, Valora wound up better for it? No, fuck that. No way was she stuck being Pete Best while Valora got to be... the... uh... reverse Pete Best. No, Valora needed a reality check. Though, at first, she'd merely planned to kick the shit out of her buxom counterpart. Now that the bounty was in the mix, though... well now Lupus had to kill her.

She was about to leave, but she noticed that the assassin she'd knocked out had a sort of dorky looking utility belt. One item in particular grabbed Lupus' attention. A large, glass vial.
"CH...huh?" Lupus grabbed it, looked at it more closely. "CHCL3," she read off its label. "Chloro... oh," she said. "Oh."

A smile flickered across her face.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Maria ran. She had been running for a mile and a half already, going almost at a sprinter's pace. She had always liked track and field, always been good at it. When she'd been in middle school no other girl had been able to compete with her over middle distance. She'd wanted to be a professional athlete, and there had been nothing to suggest that this was childish dreaming. She could have done it, and she would have been a great success. But then her powers had manifested when she was fourteen, and in those days there was a blanket ban on superhumans competing in athletic competitions. Her powers gave her no advantage over a baseline athlete, but that didn't matter. By the time Maria was twenty exceptions had started to be made, but it was too late for her. By then she was 'Freebird', and she had had to accept that this was something as good as the life her powers had stolen from her. Besides, Maria was an earnest Christian, and she really believed that God had given her her abilities for a reason.

Well, so much for that. The Bombshells had been an unmitigated, humiliating failure. Her personal successes as Freebird could be counted on one hand, and her name itself was a joke. It was, one supposed, conceivable that she might have come up with another name, another costume, and rebranded herself entirely, but with the wound so raw such a thought was far from her mind.

But she still had running, and in the wind and the rain of a cold January morning she ran until she was literally incapable of continuing, and collapsed onto a park bench. She let the rain wash over her, her toned thighs and arms, and her tight, strong shoulders almost steaming from the cold water splashing against them. The exercise brought a welcome jolt of physical satisfaction. So much so that, when she got home - so exhausted that she'd had to take a bus - she was almost in a good mood. And then she saw who was standing at her door.

It was Cecily. Cecily Rothschild, another Bombshell cast aside, like her. She was holding a white umbrella, and wearing a fashionable coat, and not a strand of her long, straight, red hair was out of place. Her elegance seemed politely to ignore the weather. The red of her hair stood out sharply against her umbrella, and Maria's first thought was that she looked very beautiful. But she still did not want to see her.
"You weren't answering my calls," Cecily said, by way of an explanation. "May I come in? I need to talk to you. Please?" she added, and there was just enough desperation in her voice that Maria could not suspend her affection.
"Alright," Maria said. She felt bad, immediately, for the cold tone of her reply, but she couldn't take it back without making herself look ridiculous.

They entered. Maria had quite a comfortable, ground floor apartment: she'd been paid well as a Bombshell, and her severance had been very generous. Poverty, at least, was not a threat to her or the others.
"Do you want a cup of coffee?" Maria asked, ever the gracious host.
"Oh, yes please," Cecily said, resting her umbrella against a wall. "It got fairly cold out there."
"How long were you waiting?"
Cecily's eyes flickered downwards, and she turned her head away a little. "A while," she said. She looked at Maria, about to say something else, but she hesitated, suddenly embarrassed. Maria wasn't wearing very much: running shorts and a vest, and there was water dripping down her mahogany-brown legs, and over her hard, bare abdomen. They were quite close together in Maria's little hallway. Maria realised this too, and quickly excused herself to put something warmer on. She almost blushed. Cecily did.

Cecily had visited before, so Maria trusted her to see herself to the living room. She put on some leggings, a t-shirt, and crossed quickly into her kitchen, feeling awkward for leaving Cecily just waiting for so long. In silence Maria brewed the coffee, and tried to work up the courage to enter Cecily's presence again. The humiliation of her capture, of her being displayed to all those people. The cold shock of finding out that Lance Van der Boek had been murdered. The knowledge that she had been the Bombshells' leader, and that she had failed her colleagues so terribly. And she felt it all so much more keenly in Cecily's genteel presence. It had only been a few days, and there was something akin to panic gripping her shoulders from behind

Getting more and more worked up as she tried and failed to put these feelings to one side, Maria was so jittery when she brought the coffee in that she almost dropped it when she saw Cecily: she was so lost in her own thoughts that, for a moment, she'd forgotten her guest was there. She handed her the coffee in something of a daze.
"Thank you, Maria" Cecily said, taking her cup gratefully. She had a way of making the most mundane points of politeness seemed like refined etiquette. Or, perhaps, made it seem like you in particular were deserving of politeness, that for you she wasn't just observing the forms for their own sake.

"What did you want to talk to me about?" Maria said. She didn't sit on the couch with her guest, but in a small, uncomfortable chair near the room's largest window.
Cecily tapped her polished nails on the edge of her mug. "We need to talk about Lance, Maria. About his death."
"What's to say, Cecily?" Maria looked away. "He's dead. The Bombshells are over. He was murdered. Beyond that, I don't want to - I don't want to think about it."
"We must, Maria," Cecily said. Her face was serious, but her tone was gentle. "The last thing in the world that I want is to make this horrid business worse for you, but... " She couldn't think of an honest way to finish the sentence other than 'I'm going to anyway', so she just let her voice trail off. "Did the police speak to you," she continued after a breath, "about the... circumstances of his death?"
Maria shook her head. "Just that they were certain it was murder." They'd been very cagey, actually. Even she'd got the impression that there was something they were making a lot of effort not to talk about.

Cecily leaned back against the couch cushions, interlinking her fingers over her stomach. She'd taken off her raincoat, and was sitting on Maria's couch in an expensive-looking, knee-length, maroon dress, worn high at the neck and leaving her white arms bare. Her long, feminine legs were crossed, the tight skirt of her dress slipping up her thighs. She wasn't doing it deliberately, she wasn't being seductive or deliberately provocative. She was just a woman of class, good taste, and grace, and Maria found her very, very attractive. More than that, she had become deeply fond of Cecily, and seeing her continue to comport herself with such poise and dignity after what had happened to them - well, it certainly deepened Maria's admiration for Cecily, but it irritated her. Why was Cecily so composed when she herself was so shellshocked?

Unaware of the effect she was having, Cecily continued.
"He wasn't just murdered," she said. "He was choked to death. His windpipe was crushed." She put a hand at her own throat. "Marks of four fingers and one hand around his neck. Someone choked the life out of him with a single hand. He was not otherwise hurt. He wasn't bound, or drugged, or incapacitated. He was a well built man, and a trained soldier, and someone just turned him off like a tap."
Maria turned her face away in distaste. "Jesus, Cecily! How - how do you even know about this?"
"My father," Cecily explained. "He is retired, but he is still an admiral. People talk." Whenever she spoke of her father, it was with tremendous pride. Even now Maria could not help but find it sweet.
"I understand, Cecily," Maria said, her tone perhaps just a little softer than it had been at the start of their conversation. "Whoever killed him was - probably a superhuman. Probably the same one who attacked us."
"Yes," Cecily replied. "So, you see -"

Maria stood up, sharply. "I knew it. I mean - of course it was... of course it was this. He had to die, didn't he? Without him gone someone m-might have tried to restart the Bombshells with new people. Stronger people." She gritted her teeth. "If we'd... if we'd been stronger... if we'd defeated his murderer... Lance still would be alive!" She turned to Cecily, making a valiant effort not to cry. "I'm not stupid, Cecily. I know that he wasn't a very good man, but - he had parents. A brother and sister. He wasn't even forty yet. We could have saved him. Valerie could have saved him! But she left us, and without her we're... helpless!"
Cecily stood as well. She had a severe look, and Maria thought she was angry with her for being self-pitying. She was half-right: Cecily was angry, but not with her.

"'Wasn't a very good man' is putting it mildly," Cecily said. "Maria, I don't know why he died, but I know that he wasn't innocent. I suppose no-one's told you that he was sacked the day before our abduction, yes?"
"... he what?"
"He was sacked. The Corps was going to continue the Bombshell program without him. Can you imagine what that sort of humiliation would have done to an egoist like Lance Van der Boek? He would have much preferred our failure if he could have no part in our success. He arranged for that monster to attack us, I know it. I know it." She clenched her jaw. For her, this was an equivalent display of emotion to trembling with rage. "I don't know how that led to his death. He might have had co-conspirators that wanted him out of the way. He might have argued about money. Either way, I can say with full confidence that he brought his death on himself"
"No," Maria said, more to herself than to Cecily. "No, it - he wouldn't do that. Even if he were that petty, how would he get a monster like that working for him? They were - they were as strong as Valerie, for God's sake."
"Yes," Cecily said. "They were exactly as strong as Valerie."

Maria almost laughed. "No. Too far. Valerie would not do this."
"No, she wouldn't," Cecily replied. "She wasn't with us for a great deal of time, but she's a good, serious woman, if a bit ill-tempered."
Cecily reminded Maria of a detective in a crime novel, grandly expostulating the killer's motives at the end of the book. She seemed to be enjoying leading Maria gradually through her deductions, and that was, under the circumstances, infuriating. In frustration, Maria rubbed her face with her hands and said, with a little more venom than she'd intended:
"Alright. Fine. Not Valerie, then. Who? Colonel Doyle? Sergeant Blane? The Supremacist, maybe? The Illuminati? Come on, Cecily, let me hear the rest of it. Who else was part of the - the grand conspiracy against the Bombshells?"
Cecily sort of jerked her head downwards, scratched her neck. Maria had never seen her do that before, because Maria had never hurt Cecily's feelings before.

"Charlie Korhonen," Cecily said, quietly. "Lupus. I think it was Lupus. I think she copied Valora's strength with her powers, and I think she was the one who kidnapped us." She no longer seemed at all pleased with herself. "Lance would certainly know about her, wouldn't he? I'm... trying to trace what happened to her after she left the Bombshells. What she did for money. What she did with all that power she received from Valerie. Where, if I'm right, she got that strange armour she used against us. The fact that I haven't been able to is suspicious in itself. I spoke to her father, even," she said. "He said he hadn't heard from her six months: right around the time that we last saw her."
"Shouldn't we leave this sort of thing to the police?" Maria asked. "I know you mean well, but you're not a detective."
"Apparently I'm a better one than than the people actually investigating Lance's murder," Cecily replied. "Charlie's father hadn't spoken to the police. They know everything we know, but they haven't made the connection I did? Something is going on. Something to do with her. I think Lance was doing more than just trying to make the military look good at our expense."
"That's not what he was -"
"It is, Maria!"

Cecily pinched the bridge of her nose. She'd not expected Maria to be so resistant.
"I don't understand why you, of all people, defend him," Cecily said. "It's not just that he set us up. It's not just that we were always meant to fail. It's the way he was with you. The way he spoke to all of us, that self-congratulatory, faux-gentlemanly smugness, he - Maria, the way he looked at you! Touching you on the shoulder all the time, or on the knee - checking you out when he thought you weren't looking... . I'm astonished the man never propositioned you outright."
Maria looked away.
"My god, he did, didn't he?"
"Yes, but I didn't -" Maria said, with sudden urgency. "Cecily, I would never -"
"No, of course - " Cecily stammered over her.

There was a long silence. Both of them felt as if they ought to say something, as though they rather dearly wanted to say something to each other. But they couldn't.
"I'm sorry," Cecily all but whispered. "I oughtn't to have come. I oughtn't to have put all this on your shoulders." She stopped, swallowed. "I'm sorry for being foolish. I should have waited until the hurt was less fresh. It's just that... " She pressed one hand to her chest. "I knew you'd blame yourself. You always take failure very hard, and very personally, and after something like what happened to us - I was worried for you. I wanted to show you, Maria. I wanted to prove to you that in all this awfulness at least you didn't have to feel guilty. Please, please believe that I was trying to help."

Maria almost smiled. "I do," she said, softly. "I do believe you." She sort of shuddered, as though she'd thought of something that had startled her. "I am glad that you're here, Cecily. I should have returned your calls. I should have thought about someone other than myself." And that was what she did. She had been through a traumatic experience, but Cecily had been right there alongside her, had suffered all of the same humiliations. It occurred to Maria that Cecily's reasons for coming to see her were not wholly selfless, and that was not something that Maria minded. There was something Cecily needed that Maria could give her. So she crossed the distance between herself and her friend. She hugged her.

Cecily gasped, and shivered. She herself didn't move. She just felt Maria's arms around her, slim and strong. A wave of goosebumps shot up and down her body, and her eyes watered from a sharp sense of raw, physical relief. Touch was precious to her, and so being embraced by someone she cared for so deeply was close to blissful. She suddenly felt very tired, as though for every night since their abduction she had not truly slept, and she let her weight sink against Maria.
Maria bore the weight easily, and drew Cecily closer, and felt Cecily curl her arms gently around her midsection. She put her hand on the back of Cecily's head, and pulled her down a little so that Cecily rested her cheek against Maria's neck.

"Thank you for coming to me," Maria whispered. "I would have gone to see you. I think I needed to see you, but I - oh, Cecily, I'm so ashamed! I can only step outside my door if I'm running, in case someone realises that I'm Freebird, in case they stop and gawk and laugh - and you don't even have that! You never hid behind a fake name. I don't know how you do it. You're so... brave."
"Thank you," Cecily said, not disposed to turn down an earnest compliment. "You're no less brave, you know. You just wear your burdens very heavily." She pulled back a little, so the two were face to face, still embracing. They were very close.

For a moment, all either of them could hear was the sound of the other's breathing. All they could feel was the throb of the other's heartbeat. Maria brushed her nose against Cecily's, and Cecily pulled herself closer. She pressed her lips against Maria's right cheek, and her forehead, even on her eyelids, one by one with exquisite delicacy. She was shy of doing more, but she had gone far enough along the bridge for Maria to walk the rest of the way. She put her hands on Cecily's cheeks and kissed her on the mouth. Cecily's lipstick tasted - well truth be told, it was a little unpleasant, but to Maria it was nectar-sweet. Her tongue slipped a little way into Cecily's mouth, and Cecily breathed a soft, gentle whimper into her, and the two kissed each other even more deeply. Maria felt Cecily's hands move to her shoulders, but her whole body felt embraced, like she was being coiled by a well-meaning, affectionate snake. No pressure, just... embrace. She opened her eyes, saw Cecily's looking back at her, the redhead's expression almost pained from an unnamed longing finally satisfied.
"Ce - oh!" Maria gasped, clung to Cecily tight with both arms - but not out of passion. For when she'd opened her eyes, she'd realised that the two of them were floating seven feet in the air.

"Hm? Oh - oh! Oh, my gosh, I'm sorry!" Cecily went beet red. She hadn't meant to do it. Her powers hadn't activated involuntarily since she was a pre-teen. Flustered, she carefully lowered Maria to the ground, but when she came to do the same to herself, she was so emotional that she forgot the careful sequence of notes in her head that she used to control her powers, and she just dropped. Without thinking, Maria caught her, Cecily falling with a yelp into her arms.

It was something out of a dream. Cecily lay gently in Maria's embrace, a beautiful, tender burden. Her skirt had slipped down almost to her hips, her long legs so fair, so silky against Maria's hand. Her eyes were wide, surprised and evidently rather pleased by Maria's strength. She was gorgeous, and demure, and elegant, and Maria was filled with desire for her.
Cecily put her arms around Maria's neck, and kissed Maria again, felt Maria's grip tighten, pulling her closer against her body, deepening Cecily's admiration for her warm skin, her high, firm bosom and her taut, athletic beauty. She felt like she was glowing. Every inch of her tingled. She played music in her head, and with her powers she stroked Maria's soft, brown hair, her neck, her face, revelling in being held, stroked, carried, kissed. Touched.
"You are strong," Cecily half-whispered, "you are strong, Maria." It was a perfect moment. Too perfect.

"No. No, no, I can't." Maria put Cecily down, turned away. She sort of drifted back and forth for a moment, then supported herself with both hands on a nearby windowsill. "This is too much." She found the courage to look back, but only barely. "I care about you, Cecily, but it's not - I mean I didn't think it was -" She wrung her hands. "Oh, shit, I don't know! I don't know..."

Cecily was mortified. "I am... so sorry," she said, hoarsely. What the hell had she been thinking? Why had she stalled for months, satisfying herself with the occasional touch on the hand and nursing quiet jealousy of Lance's forward way with her friend, only to let her feelings be known now? When Maria could not have been more vulnerable, more apt to be taken advantage of. She'd just been being nice. She'd just given her a hug, for heaven's sake, put aside her own feelings to make Cecily feel better about their situation, and Cecily had let herself get completely carried away.

Cecily apologised again, and - in a moment she'd replay in her mind many times when kicking herself later - complimented the coffee, forgetting that she hadn't actually had any of it. But she recomposed herself quickly. "I'll see myself out," she said. "Look after yourself, Maria. I'm sorry for making this worse for you." She turned away before Maria could see the tears in her eyes, and indeed the last that Maria saw of her, before she shut the front door behind her, was the flash of Cecily's red hair against her opening umbrella.

Cecily did not turn around. Did not see Maria begin to approach her, reach out to her. Did not hear her cursing, or throwing herself angrily into a chair, her head in her hands. Did not see her leaning back, staring at the ceiling and, without being fully aware of what she was doing, touching her lips, on which the taste of Cecily's lipstick still lingered.

Cecily perceived none of this. Instead, she wiped the tears from her eyes, steeled her resolve, and vowed that she would - somehow - bring the one responsible for Maria's anguish to justice.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

It was a good day. Cold, yes, but bright, and clear, and crisp. Valerie liked days like this. She liked the feeling of the cold wind against her skin, stroking her curvaceous legs through the thin tights that covered them. Across her face, her neck. Ordinarily her chest too, but - well it really was pretty cold. Superhero or no, even Valerie had zipped up this time.

But the point was, on this particular morning, Valerie was feeling good. She was feeling strong, and she delighted in exercising that strength. For all the pleasures of the massive increase to her income that her co-operation with the Maine state troopers was providing, none compared to that of earning it. This time had been particularly exotic: the F.B.I. had requested the troopers' co-operation in foiling some particularly daring, and violent, art-thieves. They'd had a tip off about a heist at a small boutique in Augusta - an art shop rather than a gallery, really - and so the state troopers had sent their best woman. Admittedly, Valora hadn't expected them to commit their robbery by just smashing the front of the shop in with an armoured car. But then, they probably hadn't expected the car to bounce off.

Well, that was how it seemed, anyway. In reality, as the car had been about to collide with her, Valora had kicked it, buckling the axles, ripping the engine in two, and sending it screeching backwards about five metres. Not understanding what had happened, two of the men inside came out, one of them bleeding from a gash on his forehead. They raised heavy weapons, and though they were momentarily confused by seeing Valora rather than a squad of SWAT officers bearing down on them, they were hardened criminals, and they mercilessly opened fire with enough rapidly-propelled lead to take, melt down, make two more guns out of, and still have enough left over for a full clip each.

Valora ducked low to the ground, having perfected a loping, serpentine run that meant that she was exposed to the minimum of weapons fire. Only about one in every twenty bullets hit her, and only about a third of those were good, clean hits. Those hits stung, but only as much as hailstones on the flesh of a normal woman. There was a thrill in that pain: it was a reminder both of Valerie's mortality and her invulnerability. Her invincibility.

As the charging she-bear closed on her foes, and their shots became more and more accurate, Valora's thrill gave way to good sense. Not breaking her run for an instant, she slammed one fist on the ground, spitting in the eye of the municipality responsible for the maintenance of Augusta's roads, and knocking both men off their feet. Before the first had even hit the ground, Valora had snatched his gun from his hands, torn it in half down the middle, and restrained its wielder by planting a foot firmly on his chest. As for the other, Valora took him out by clobbering him with the broken stock of the first man's rifle.

"Wh... what... the... fuck?!" the first man said, wheezing from the pressure on his torso. He repeated this refrain more than once, escalating in pitch each time to the point that he proved himself quite a good alto.
"Name's Valora, you peanut-circuit little pissant. And -" But, before she finished, she saw that something of a crowd had gathered to watch her battle. Pretty unwise considering all the bullets that had been flying around, but not altogether surprising. How often do you get to see the strongest woman in the world kicking the general hell out of people. Raising her voice so that she was sure all of them would be able to hear her, she continued: "And I'm the sheriff round these parts, see?"
A general cheer went up. A very loud cheer. Some of them were shouting her name: "Valora! Valora! Valora!" And so on, and so on. Whistles. Thunderous applause. Valora caught herself smiling. Then she caught herself allowing herself to. Then grinning. Then cheering back. Then (after handcuffing the two criminals, natch) leaping on top of the broken SUV, raising both her mighty arms, throwing her wavy, blonde hair in a golden crown behind her, and shouting in happy triumph.

Oh yes. It was a good day.
___________________________________________________________

When Valerie's good day was over and she was heading home, her victories becoming almost too numerous to be counted, she found herself in front of a jewellery store. Something happened to catch her eye: a brooch. There was a piece of amber in it, and some fine filigree in silver around the centre. She didn't like brooches, or much jewellery at all, really, but she found that she had a reason for wanting it.

She went inside, asked the wizened shopkeeper how much the brooch cost. She was told it was a hundred and five dollars. She flinched at that. But then he smiled, opened her wallet, and slapped the money into the shopkeeper's hand.
"More than fair," she said, and walked away with the brooch tucked into the pocket of her jacket. And a few minutes later, after a quick visit to her local Paperchase, Valora had wrapped it in shiny, green paper, and attached a little card to it, on which she'd written:
Dear Saskia,
For you, for being a damn good friend to me without getting a whole lot in return. Here's a start on me trying to move things back the other way. And if you don't like it...
... tough.
Valerie, xx

She went home. Her new apartment was a vast upgrade from the hovel she'd been slumming in before. The rent was a lot more than it had been, but it was perfectly manageable for her now. And her own apartment. Her own! Her own bed and her own couch and her own shower!

The showering was Valerie's favourite thing about the new situation. She would spend a good forty five minutes in the shower when she had the time, letting the water cascade over her body at the highest possible heat. It didn't hurt, but since her sense of temperature didn't quite understand how impervious to harm she was, it sort of felt like it should have hurt, and that had a kind of satisfaction to it. More and more Valerie had come to revel in her powers, at their grandest, yes, and at their little quirks too.

She showered as soon as she got back, letting her clothes fall in a crumple on the bathroom floor. She felt the surge of heat, the dance of the water over her womanly figure, the relief as her muscles, not overworked but still taxed by the day's battle, unwound their knots and relaxed in the harsh steam. She washed her hair, running quite expensive shampoo through it, massaging her own scalp, delighting at the sharp, clear scent of eucalyptus. She rubbed soap, and moisturising oils into her peach-soft skin. She felt her youth, and her strength, and she revelled in it.

She got out, dried her skin, blow-dried her hair, brushed it. She caught sight of herself in a mirror, and while she wasn't vain enough to pay attention to it, she sort of half-noticed that she had never looked more lovely. Her skin was smoother, silkier, its tone was richer; a touch of gaunt in her cheeks from months of insufficient meals had gone. Her hair was glossier, more voluminous. Hunger and poverty had caused a trace of anxious girlhood to remain in her looks before, but that was long gone now. She was a powerful, beautiful woman.

She lay on her bed, flat on her back, wrapped in a thick, cotton dressing gown. She thought of the night she'd spent in that bed three days ago with a Brazilian businessman she'd met at a nightclub. He was fifteen years her senior, but he'd had a dignified handsomeness, and had been more than able to keep up with her. Valerie reached between the folds of her gown, and closed her eyes. She remembered, and she embellished, and she stroked. Her feet arched and her toes clenched, and she smiled with intense satisfaction.

At that point, as far as Valerie was concerned, the day was over, despite the fact that it was only six in the evening. That way, it was safeguarded. She had had, at least, one really good day. So if anything happened now that, you know, sucked, it wasn't going to spoil her good day. It just meant it was the beginning of a different, crappy day. You might ask why Valerie was being so cynical, even if rather tactically, when things were looking so well for her. One might answer that you would too, if Valerie's father were your father, and you had agreed to visit him.

* * *

She didn't hurry. It was almost quarter to eight when she arrived, just about the outside of what constituted fulfilling her promise to see him that 'evening'. The one thing she didn't like about her new apartment was that it was within easy walking distance of her father's place.
"Oh, stop it," she thought. "He's not that bad." Indeed, not every visit she paid him was wholly unpleasant. It wasn't even that she didn't want to see him, exactly. She loved her father. Hell, the last time had even been fun: the two of them had played a two-man version of Klondike that Ulysses had invented for Valerie to play with him when she was little.

In the years between the death of Valerie's mother and his marriage to Victoria, father and daughter had played the game a lot. Ulysses Orville was not a very loving man, or an empathetic man, nor even was he particularly interested by Valerie. But he'd felt that he had to do something for his iron-hearted little girl who would not weep for her mother in front of him. Not able to think of anything else, he just spent as much time with her as he possibly could. It was a shame, then, that once he'd married again he'd considered his duties complete, and the playing and attention to his daughter had dwindled almost to nothing. Nevertheless, the brief, fatherly wisdom he'd stumbled onto had bought from his daughter an almost inexhaustible loyalty.

When she could focus on that, on the primal gratitude that she had for Ulysses, Valerie could almost get herself to look forward to seeing her father. So when she rang his doorbell, she was almost smiling. Yeah, Ulysses was pretty shit at showing Valerie he loved her - but that didn't mean Valerie had to be the same way. She'd give him a hug, she decided, even if the best he could normally manage was a pat on the shoulder.
"Oh my god," quoth her parent, when the door opened. "Oh my god, get your ass over here." They laughed, and smiled, and wrapped Valerie in their arms, and kissed her on the cheek.
"Hey," Valerie said, not quite understanding what was happening. "How've you been, mom?"
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This was getting weird. Rodney Burke, confessor at the Maine superhuman registry office, looked at the file in front of him with not only surprise, but an extraordinary sense of déja vu. So much so that he actually went back through his files looking for a record from about six and a half months earlier. He compared the two charts, the vital statistics of two superhumans who had come under his auspices, and they were - barring one number - exactly the same.
"What the fuck?" he muttered, shifting uncomfortably in a chair that - the holiday season just having ended - protested a little more loudly than usual at the burden placed upon it. Rodney's first thought was that it had been a clerical error, that they'd just sent the first record again by mistake, so he checked with his subordinate over in Saco, where registrants had to go to have their abilities assessed before schlepping all the way to Portland to get their insurance papers and licences processed by Rodney's office. They assured him that the tests had been accurate, and though the French corporation, to whom this aspect of an essential government service had been thoughtlessly outsourced, was not known for reliability, their reaction made it clear that they remembered well this second titan who had crossed their path. It had been no error.

That being established, it was simply vital for Rodney to see this second giant himself. A colleague - the only person aside from his personal secretary that Rodney could with any justification call his 'subordinate' - had been assigned this new case, but Rodney took it from him. He had to. When he'd met Valora he'd felt himself come tantalisingly close to greatness, not to having it but to touching it, and he needed to do so again He just... he had to see.

So once again, he heaved his portly body downstairs to the confessional, the dull, black box, partitioned down the middle, where confessors met the unhappy few who came to earn a meagre buck as a superhero in Maine. He did as he always did, unlocking the three locks with three large keys, entering his side of the confessional and closing the heavy, steel door. He sat down, the bolted-down chair inside bearing his weight without complaint, but without much comfort either. He buzzed for the registrant to be sent in. And once again, he waited.

No confident, brisk taps of high-heeled feet this time. Just loud, artless stomps. They tromped towards the confessional, slid open the door. They'd obviously fumbled with it a bit, because before it shut again, Rodney heard some grumbling and swearing. It was his first indication that the registrant was a woman. He heard the door close, the beep of the intercom. Before he could even turn it on, he heard the sound of static, and then a muffled voice - and muffled not just by the cheap microphone - bark out:
"Hey, chucklefuck, you there?"
"Chuckle -?!" Rodney felt himself bristle. He wasn't posh or British or born-in-the-nineteenth-century enough to say 'Well, I never!' but the soul of the exhortation still burned within him. "Ma'am," he said, trying his utmost to sound stately, "abusing your registrar is a pretty quick way of getting your application denied."
A groan issued forth, crackling over the mic. "Fine. Fine. I'm very, very sorry. Sir. Please forgive me for my - y'know. Sins."

"We've got a live one here," Rodney thought, looking back over his script. "Uh, right... so what name will you be registering under?" he asked.
"Tony the Tiger."
"... Ma'am, I think that one might be taken."
"Suck my dick, pal, I can register as whatever I want."
"Well, yeah, but -"
"Then write 'Tony the Tiger' on your clipboard and move the hell on."
Bewildered, Rodney obeyed. "Okay," he muttered. "So are you looking for contract work or -"

"Okay, you know this whole system is stupid, right?" the new registrant snorted. "Like, the whole secret identity thing. I mean, you don't let cops do that, do you? Why do superheroes get to be anonymous?"
"Superheroes are personal targets of reprisals from criminals much more often than police," Rodney said, repeating the party line word for word. "The average superhero in a major metropolitan area sees more physical danger in a week than a SWAT officer sees in a month."
"Then why's the pay lower than the janitors that work in this building?" the registrant replied. "And before you ask: yeah - I checked."
Rodney didn't have an answer for that.
"But," he asked, confused, "if that's what you think, what are you doing here?"
"You know," she answered, "that's a good question. I had a plan all figured out, and I... think I had a reason for getting all the way through this interview? But I cannot fuckin' remember what it is now. So I... might as well just get to the point."
"The point?"
"Yeah," the registrant replied, darkly. "The point." Having said her say, she let herself out of her side of the confessional. This was a little surprising, but hardly remarkable, given that her door was not locked, and she was free to leave whenever she liked. What was remarkable was that Lupus - for it was she - walked over to Rodney's side of the confessional, and tore the triple-locked door open.

Rodney screamed at the top of his lungs, but the superhuman descended on him like a beast, a balaclava covering most of her face. She grabbed him by the head, forcing him down into his seat, and Rodney felt an agonising pressure from her grip.
"Shut up, fat man," his attacker hissed. "Shut up and listen." But she didn't say anything else.
"L-l-l-listen to what?!" Rodney wheezed, after ten seconds had passed. "What do you -"
"Not to me, fat man," Lupus said. "Listen to yourself."
Confused, Rodney nevertheless fell silent. But after a few seconds, he did hear something - a soft 'crack', followed by a horrifying surge of pain in his head.
"That was your skull fracturing," Lupus said. "You know what holding your head feels like, to me? It's like... holding a squishy, rotten fruit, with a cheap, glass shell. I could crush it. I could kill you in a second. I could kill every single person in this building, and an army couldn't stop me. Get it?"
"Y-yes," Rodney whimpered.
"Now, you need to do something for me," she said. "And you're gonna do it, aren't you?"
Rodney nodded, groaning in pain and terror.
"Good." Behind the balaclava over her face, she grinned. "I need you to send someone a message."

He did not need telling twice.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

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"Oh my god," said Victoria Orville. Her accent extended 'god' out to a full 'gaawwwwd', sometimes even 'gwwawwwd'. "You look gorgeous," she continued, her accent stretching 'gorgeous' in much the same way. "It's unreal. You're a star-child. Come here, sweetie, give me a kiss." She was a short woman, broad shouldered, with a hairstyle and fashion sense in which something of the early nineties still lingered. But even at fifty-one, she was still a handsome woman: self-assured and dark-eyed, and a body that benefited from regular yoga.

Valerie did as her mother asked, and gave her a kiss. She gave her two, in fact, one on each cheek, as was Victoria's custom. "What are you doing here, mom?"
"I'm paying your father ('fahthah') a visit, ain't I?" she replied. "Ugh, Valley, you're a peach, you make me wish I'd never seen my own reflection before. Come on, I need reinforcements." She linked her arm with her stepdaughter's, and marched her into Ulysses' front room.

If Valerie had to guess she'd say that Ulysses was a little startled when he saw his ex-wife and his daughter come before him arm in arm, but he was so difficult to read that she was not confident of her surmise.
"Hello, Valerie," he said, as one might say 'I think it'll rain tomorrow morning'.
"Your father," Victoria said, taking her place in the one nice chair in the room, "was just telling me all about your exploits. My daughter, the superhero! Oh, it's so exciting."
Valerie smiled. Victoria had always been very supportive of the idea of her being a superhero. In fact, now that Valerie thought of it, it had been Victoria's idea for her to try her luck in California.

"I was saying," Ulysses continued, lifting his head rather imperiously, "that I think it's poor policy to entrust public welfare to amateurs. The potential for disaster is extreme. Especially for someone as powerful as, as you," he said, stumbling over his words slightly as though he was unwilling to speak to Valerie directly.
"Amateur my ass!" Victoria said, winking at Valerie and smiling rakishly. "From what I see in the papers our little bunker-buster's the best thing to happen to Maine since Stephen King!"

This was a personal joke. Ulysses had always hated Stephen King, partly out of genuine dislike, and partly out of envy that an author that he - wrongly - saw as his inferior was so wildly successful and he was not. Another part of it was that Victoria worked for Scribner, the firm which published King's books. She'd joked to Valerie once that Ulysses had been more upset by Victoria's employment than he'd been by her affairs. Valerie had thought it was quite funny. She hadn't laughed, though.

"How's your health?" Victoria asked, with a trace of genuine concern. "You eating right, and all that?"
"Yes," Ulysses replied. He put his hand on his stomach, which was presently in the middle of a very painful cramp. "Val's been very helpful." He looked at her, and his daughter almost saw real fondness in his eyes.
"Yeah, how about that," Victoria said. She sounded suspicious. But she dismissed the issue, went back to a large-toothed smie. "I didn't mean to shock everyone," she said. "I was in the neighbourhood and thought I'd drop in. Really!" she laughed, expecting objection that didn't come from either of the others. "Are you writing, Ulysses? You're happier when you're writing."
"I'm... trying," Ulysses replied, avoiding eye contact with her. "It's... difficult to get published."
"Sure, sure," Victoria said, her smile so stretched that it was almost a grimace.

"I'll get some drinks," Valerie said, excusing herself quickly. She heard Victoria protest, but ignored her. She went into the kitchen, made two cups of coffee and a cup of decaf tea for Victoria. She put them onto an old, stained, plastic tray, but did not take the drinks in immediately. She had to wait for her hands to stop shaking. Since she had heard from her father that Victoria was divorcing him, and since her last, brief conversation with her stepmother, when Victoria had burst into floods of tears and apologised profusely before doing exactly as she pleased, Valerie had not spoken to her. She hadn't expected to see her again for the rest of her life.

"Oh, you're the best!" Victoria cried out, swiftly rising and snatching her tea from Valerie's tray when her stepdaughter returned. "You're such a dear. Isn't she a dear? She's such a dear."
Valerie laughed a little. Victoria's manner had always been entertaining. Always funny, in her way, and that had been a decent enough substitute for real affection.

But Victoria's manner became a little less amusing upon finishing her tea. She frowned at Ulysses, turned her whole body towards Valerie, and spoke to her little louder than a whisper. "Valley, sweetie, how come you're living in Maine again? Did you find a college that let you transfer your credits from UCLA?"
"No, mom," Valerie said, surprised at being asked either question.
"Don't tell me you started again from freshman year!"
"No - what? Mom, I'm not going to college anymore. I dropped out."
Victoria tried several times to begin a sentence. She turned from father to daughter, not sure whom she wanted to speak to first. "I don't... Valley, honeybun, am I missing something here?"
"I had to work," Valerie said. "After you left, mom. Dad needed - you didn't know?"

Victoria stood up. She crossed the space between herself and her ex-husband. Then, she slapped him as hard as she could.
"Ugh!" he cried out. Weak, and sickly, Victoria was a good deal stronger than he was, and he was knocked onto his side, groaning in shock and pain.
"Ulysses, you son of a bitch!" Victoria shouted. "You selfish little weasel!" She tried to slap him again, but found that her hand would not move. Valerie's fingers were wrapped around it.
"What are you doing?" Valerie asked her, her face frozen into a kind of cold shock. "What are you doing?"
"How have you not done this yourself?!" Victoria hissed. "Valerie, are you insane? He got you to drop out of college to look after him? He got you to come to Maine and scrape a living as a superhero here? I - oh my god..."

She grasped Valerie's hand with both of hers, squeezed it as if trying to press her view into Valerie's flesh. "Valley, babe, when I saw your face in the papers I thought you were doing the superhero thing for pocket money while you were at college. You can't make shit doing that in Maine. What, he got you to come back to cook his meals for him, too?"
"That wasn't his fault. I couldn't be a superhero in California anymore. I - " Valerie grimaced. "I messed it up. Don't put that on him."
Victoria didn't understand. Nor could she, without knowing about the deal Valerie had made after she'd assaulted Colonel Doyle. So she just ignored it, and returned to her original theme.

"Okay, California, Maine, Timbuktu, whatever. This is obscene. He's taking away your future so that he can sit on his ass all day!"
Valerie released her hold on her stepmother's wrist. "He's - you know it's not like that, mom. He's - he's sick."
"He's a writer. It's not like he's going down the coal pits every day, Valerie, for God's sakes!"
"He needs help. You know he needs help."
"But not from you!"
"Well from who, then?! Why did -" A hand had reached right into Valerie's gut, and squeezed as tightly as she herself could. There were spots in front of her eyes. Very slowly forcing each syllable out like meat through a grinder, Valerie said: "If that's what you thought, why did you leave?"

Victoria covered her mouth with both hands.
"Oh sweetie," she said, implying an affection that did not really exist, "oh, Valerie, sweetie, I waited. I waited for years. I waited until you were in college and you were doing well. I waited to leave until you were out of his... claws! I didn't think he'd dare make you - " She turned on Ulysses in rage. "I thought you had some shame!"
"Shame?" Ulysses said back. He wasn't actually speaking very loud, but from the way he flapped his hands, it was clear he'd been roused to emotion. "You're talking about shame? You spent our entire marriage whoring yourself to any man who so much as winked at you."
"You didn't care! You didn't care who I slept with as long as I saved some for you and paid for everything! How could you - how could you make Valerie look after you, you selfish, selfish man!"
"Children have duties to their parents too," he replied, apparently seriously. "Besides, I don't make her pay for everything. I have my disability pay, my royalties. And she's making good money now, so I'm not asking that much of her."
"Oh, - oh that makes it alright then!"

Valerie couldn't move. Her ears rang. Her tongue felt heavy in her mouth. Some impulse in her wanted to laugh, another to be sick.
"I thought it was okay," Valerie said, not really to anyone. "I thought you just couldn't stand it any longer. It's hard to take care of someone. You're not a young woman anymore. So it was - it was my turn. You had to leave. I got that. And he had to have me help him. Both of you were just - just doing what you had to, and I was there to - but - but now it's not okay? I was doing something wrong this whole -" She stared at her hands, not knowing where else to look. "If it's not okay then - didn't you know he'd ask me? Why didn't you help?"
"I didn't think you'd need it," Victoria said. "I didn't think a grown man would use his own daughter like a fucking piggy bank! Well, alright, Ulysses," she said, turning back to her ex-husband, "alright you bastard. Tell me what she's giving you. I'll pay for it. You need money so much? I'll give it to you! Valerie, sweetie," she said, going to her stepdaughter and touching her on the arm, "you don't have to worry about this - this skeleton anymore!" But Valerie moved away from her.

Everything. Everything she had done. Everything since she'd left college and tried to make her own way as a superhero, it had all been for nothing. She'd had a picture in her mind of Victoria as a woman with great weights on her shoulders, who had fallen at last. She hadn't been angry with her for deserting them. She'd been sympathetic. She'd pitied her. But all this time she could have just explained the situation and Victoria would have done everything for her. She could have told Lance to stuff it when he'd threatened her. Could have spared herself the shame of compromise. Even if everything else had happened the same and she'd still failed as a Bombshell, she could have just gone back to college. Everything she'd done as Valora, every struggle she'd had. It was all completely meaningless.

"Why didn't you check in on us?" Valerie mumbled. "Why didn't you ever look in before now? Why didn't it occur to you that I'd have to - without you here... ?"
Ulysses had an answer to her question. As it happened, it was a true one, but it was not one that he should ever have uttered. But he'd got stuck into thinking that he had to sort of 'win' against Victoria, that if he got enough good shots in and showed Valerie that Victoria was at least as bad as he was then that would be okay. So he said something that should never have been heard by a young woman who struggled very hard to be happy and who had lost, one way or another, two mothers. He said:
"She didn't check on you because she doesn't love you, Valerie."

Valerie sort of stared at her father for a few moments, as if she were saying 'do you want to try that one again?' to reality. When it became clear that there would be no take two, and that Ulysses' words would not un-say themselves, she nodded to herself.
"Alright," she said, and stepped quietly outside. She walked to the edge of the kerb, and stopped. She heard her parents begin screaming at each other again. She walked away.
* * *

Valerie walked home. She made some food. She ate it. She put on the television, and sat down in front of it. She watched for fifteen minutes, and at no point during those fifteen minutes did she have any idea what she was watching. She heard her phone go off. She checked it, but there was no call in the log. She put it back down.

A few minutes later, she realised that it had probably been her other phone, the one that the registry office had given her in case she ever needed to be contacted as Valora. Before she'd set herself up, she'd used it to establish where the police permitted her to work and what kind of work, roughly, they'd wanted her to do. She fished the phone out of the box she'd left it in, and saw that there was, indeed, a message on it. It claimed that there was an emergency, that her identity had been compromised and she needed to meet with the confessors' office, urgently. The message had been sent at two in the afternoon, which confused Valerie at first. But then she remembered that the phone was programmed to continue to alert its owner until its messages had been read.

Valerie went where she was supposed to go. She found a corner to stash her streetclothes in, changed into the blue leotard, the red mask and boots of Valora. She went to the drab, square building of the confessor's office, and slipped into the almost invisible gap between it and the building next to it by which she could reach the back entrance, the one for her sort. It widened out into a long alley. It was always dusty, and dirty, and Valerie had not ever much cared for it. She hardly noticed any of it now.

Indeed, she was so much on a kind of autopilot that she did not, until her senses simply refused to be ignored, notice that there was another person there. Another person in a thinly armoured, black bodysuit, and what looked like an unusual sort of motorcycle helmet. They were standing directly in front of the door that Valerie would need to use to enter. But for all Valerie knew, this was just another superhero, on similar business to herself. She politely asked them to move out of her way. They said: "Oh, sorry, sure thing," and moved out of her way. She thanked them, and walked past them. Then they grabbed her by the arm, and threw her clear across the alley, smashing her into the brickwork of the opposite building.

"Take that!" Lupus shouted. "HAH!" she added. Truth be told, she wasn't sure her plan was going to work. She'd been waiting for so long that she began to think that Burke had tipped her off or something, but obviously he hadn't. She was here. Finally she was in front of her. Finally, Lupus had the slippery bimbo in her grasp. "Do you know how fucking long I've been looking for you?!" She stepped forward, relishing the strength that she felt surging into her muscles. For her the thrill was new enough that just tensing her arms was intensely pleasurable. Valora was standing up now, but not fighting back. Obviously she was shocked that someone had been able to match her strength. Beneath her helmet, Lupus gave the frightening, hungry smile that had made Lance Van der Boek suggest her codename to her.

"You've been making waves, Valora. Big waves. Real big fucking waves! You've got a bounty on your head, honey!" Okay, being real, had Valora always been that hot? Like, Jesus. With the hips and the boobs and the hair and everything? You know what? Fair enough. Lupus had thought the leotard was dumb, but Valora could actually pull it off. Props to her for that. But that made it better. Lupus was going to kick that smug, if perfect, ass and every touch on that obscenely gorgeous body in their fight would be a little victory in itself.

"Bounty?" Valora said. She sounded dazed. Ha! Lupus hadn't even hit her that hard! Throwing an average-weight woman across a street was, what, about a percent of a percent of a percent of her strength now? And Valora couldn't take that? No, Lupus couldn't be stupid. She knew perfectly well that Valora absolutely could take that, knew better than anyone apart from Valora herself. She probably just sounded dazed because... you know. Bimbo.
"Yeah, Valora," Lupus answered, being as condescending as she could possibly manage. "Bounty. Did you think you could fuck with organised crime and there wouldn't be consequences? The man in question wants you dead. Surprise surprise."
"You work for Milo Patáky?" Valora still didn't sound as though she were wholly... present.
"Who? Well, maybe, I don't know. If he's the guy, then yeah, sure."

Valora stepped forward. She threw her hair back with a flick of her head, closed the distance between herself and Lupus, and attacked. But Lupus was fast, and put her hand up to block Valora's hand - and caught it.
"What?" Valora didn't understand. Her strength was being equalled. Completely equalled. She stared, disbelieving, at her foe, and so didn't react anywhere near fast enough to dodge Lupus' vicious right hook. "AHH!" she cried, more out of surprise than pain, sent skidding, tumbling across the pavement, rolling over and over and over until a collision with a bollard finally brought her to a stop. "I - what the hell?" Valora got back to her feet. She looked at the figure in black again, who had cancelled out her attack, and thrown her aside, and she wondered if she was dreaming.

"Aww, poor babe," Lupus laughed. "You must be so confused. 'Oh no, how could someone match my great and wonderful power? Alas!' Well - man, fuck this thing," she grumbled, and - considering that Valora was unlikely to survive the night - ripped her helmet off. She shook her dyed blue hair free, wiped the sweat off her face. "Oh my god that is so much better I can't even explain it to you." She shook her hair like a dog getting out of water, and laughed. "You remember me? Huh?"
Valora just stared at her. Eventually, she said: "...Lupus?"
"Five points to Gryffindor! Good job!" Lupus clapped, and on the last clap she slammed her hands together at full force, making a threatening boom. "Man, I'm not even fucking here for the bounty, okay? I'm here to balance the scales of the universe. You don't get to be happy. You don't get to be some big fucking celebrity while I had to -" She cut herself off. "The bounty was just an extra incentive."
"You're a mimic," Valerie said. "That was it. You copy other people's powers, swapping one out for another. You got mine, didn't you?"
"Ten points to Gryffindor," Lupus spat. Suddenly she didn't feel superior. She just felt angry, and she wanted to hurt Valora. There was a part of her that knew that Valora had no responsibility for the shitty direction her life had turned in, but even that part didn't care. Her life had been, essentially, destroyed, and Valora was as good a person to blame as any. She readied herself to attack, and began to advance. But before she did, something happened to her opponent.

She bore her teeth. She clenched her fists. She began panting, almost hyper-ventilating. For a second Lupus thought she was going to start crying, but it became clear very quickly that that was not what was happening. She fixed Lupus with her cold, blue eyes, and Lupus jolted in shock. And then, Valora smiled, a look of pure, bloodthirsty joy.
"Yes," she said, beginning to approach her enemy. "Yes," she repeated, feeling thunderbolts go off within her. "Yes!" she shouted, preparing her body for combat. "Yes!" she shouted again, and she began to run. "Yes!" she bellowed. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" And then finally she screamed: "YES!" and as the she-bear charged, she howled in bloodcurdling fury. Lupus was fixed to the ground in terror, and Valora drew back her arm, and unleashed onto her enemy what no living human had ever so far witnessed.

She unleashed the full power of Valora.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

A full run up. A good few seconds to wind up her punch. An opponent who stood stock still while she charged. It was perfect, and Valora happily took advantage. You see, with their superhumanly dense, superhumanly strong musculature and skeletons, both Lupus and Valora weighed a lot more than the average person of their height and build - but not that much more, perhaps three-quarters again the weight of an ordinary woman. For this reason, it took Valora three great, pavement-splintering strides to close the distance between herself and Lupus, and one strike to Lupus' centre of mass to hurl her through the air like a baseball.

Lupus genuinely didn't understand what had happened. The blow had been too fast, the shock of physical pain - to which she'd become unaccustomed since gaining Valora's powers - too stunning to allow her to process what Valora had done. She wheeled her arms and kicked her legs in the empty air almost comically. The night was too dark for her to perceive how high up she was: no moon or stars illuminated her tumbling body. She felt, after a few seconds, that she was falling, and this mercifully comprehensible sensation jolted her into perceptiveness. She spun herself over, saw the lights of Portland beneath her, and understood finally how high up she was. She was not like Valora: she had not been invulnerable since she was born. The fact that she'd have to be travelling at many times terminal velocity for a fall to harm her was not impressed into her mind, and certainly not into her reflexes. She screamed, therefore, in animal terror.

Lupus landed on solid concrete, which cracked so loudly that she thought for that the impact had shattered every bone in her body. It hadn't, of course; but what remained of the armoured parts of her suit had either been torn off by the impact of Valora's attack, or smashed to pieces when she'd landed. She lay there, panting, for a few seconds. Her grip on her power suddenly felt very fragile, as though Valora could beat the strength out of her if she tried hard enough. She managed to find the will to get back to her feet and, trembling, she looked about herself. It looked like the beginning of a building site: the concrete her impact had smashed had only just dried.

"Where the hell am I?" she thought. She had no idea how far she'd travelled. She'd have believed Valora had thrown her a mile away, or ten. Hell, Valora probably had no idea where she was now. "Oh no." As fear faded, other thoughts came into Lupus' head. She had lost Valora again. "Oh come the fuck on!" she yelled, out loud. She'd spent the better part of two weeks trying to find Valora, and now she was effectively back to square one. Howling in frustration, she stomped back and forth, reaching out her hands as if to grab Valora by the neck. "That - fucking - bitch!" Coward! That's what Valora was: a sneaky, wimpish little coward. Without the slightest bit of difficulty, Lupus' memory of Valora's attack, fearlessly charging Lupus in a head-on attack, transformed itself. Now she remembered Valora sucker-punching her. Feigning weakness. Cheating somehow. It was another offence. Another insult. Another reason she deserved to - to get it. "Fuck you!" Lupus shouted. "Fuck you, you fucking... whore!!" Even to Lupus, her invectives didn't sound very convincing, but it was for her own benefit, after all. She didn't think there was anyone there to hear her. Not until she looked up.

It was unfair. If Lupus had thrown someone as far as she'd been thrown, she wouldn't have had the slightest idea where they'd gone. She'd have given up immediately, or at least have taken hours to find them. But there she was. Perching on top of a tall crane, hair flowing in the cold wind. The clouds even - the clouds even parted for her, for God's sake, laying open the splendour of the heavens just to bathe Valora in a little moonlight.
"Well?" she shouted down, looking upon Lupus from a great height. "You want me, don't you? I'm here. I'm here!"

Lupus could not resist. She looked up at Valora with such bitter, greedy envy. She was so - so - oh, shit there wasn't any other word for it. She was beautiful. Beautiful! Her golden hair. Her scandalously curvy hips. Her round, womanly thighs. Her flawlessly generous chest. Her proud, masked face. Lupus wanted to grab it, grab it all, take it and have it and throw it down and kiss it and spit on it. She forgot her fear, and crouched down, summoning her stolen strength. With a vicious shriek, a kind of artless battle-cry, she leapt up to meet Valora on her perch, to unseat her in her arrogance.

But she'd misjudged the jump. She did not land gracefully on the plane of her enemy. She had imitated Valora's strength, and durability, but only a life of might could teach Valora's skill. She would have sailed right over Valora's head, had Valora herself not intervened. With flawless timing, she took one step forward, onto the edge of the crane's arm, and as Lupus flew past her Valora seized her by the throat.
"URK!" Lupus grunted, clutching Valora's wrist. She looked into her enemy's eyes, and saw two pale, blue torches burning back at her.
"On any other day," Valora said, "I'd care more about what you were doing in Portland. I'd be interested in whatever weird shit you've been into since you quit the Bombshells. I'd even want to know what, exactly, you think I did to you. But today, I don't care." She smiled. It was a wild, mirthless grin, and it sat ill on her lovely face. "Today I'm just happy that I've got a punching bag that won't BREAK!" She pulled Lupus close, and then with both fists smashed her down into the ground. And this time, Lupus didn't just crack the ground as she hit it. She left a crater.

"Unhhh!" Lupus groaned, stunned by the pain of Valora's blow. Not so much the amount of pain, but the mere fact of it: in her skull and her neck and shoulders from where Valora had slammed her down. Still lingering in her diaphragm from the first blow Valora had given her. She was still trying to re-acclimatise herself to it when she was given another dose, as Valora's feet slammed down onto her shoulders. Or rather, to be more precise, when Valora actually landed on Lupus' shoulders, the mere impact of her fall was not enough to give Lupus pain. Only when, snarling, Valora raised her foot and stomped on Lupus' joints did she howl in pain.

Valora stamped again, with the other foot, grinning, feeling the crunch of Lupus' armour beneath her foot. It was an impersonal rage that she vomited over her enemy. She didn't care about Lupus. She'd barely remembered that Lupus existed before she'd pulled her helmet off. She just wanted to hurt, to damage, and Lupus was the nearest object to which the application of damage would be satisfying. Valora was still acting without really thinking, without full cognisance of what she was doing. Insofar as she felt anything, she felt like she was on fire: her skin itching, burning, an acrid smell in her nostrils. If there was any logic in her actions, then perhaps she was trying to quench that fire with Lupus' blood.

But Lupus' resilience was just as formidable as Valora's. Before blood could be drawn, she pushed herself through the shock of pain, grabbed Valora by the ankles, and hurled her off, sending her crashing into the side of a backhoe, snapping its arm clean off.
"You crazy bitch!" Lupus shouted, almost screeching. "What's the fucking matter with you?!" She couldn't help it. Couldn't hide it. She was afraid of Valora, afraid of the ease with which she wielded her strength, afraid of - of her! She'd expected a bimbo. Expected a lummox who'd swing big, stupid punches that she could easily avoid, who'd be so shocked that someone could match her physical power that she'd stare slack-jawed at her own hands when she couldn't make Lupus fall down just by swatting at her. But Lupus had, to her dismay, found a warrior. And with every moment she began to worry that she'd found a killer, too.

Valora got up. Lupus' 'attack' hadn't amounted to much. She smiled, lifted the broken arm of the backhoe. Tossed it lightly from one hand to the other.
"Have I hurt you?" Valora asked. Her voice boumed loud, clear and strong. Only a little vibrato hinted that she was anything other than fully in control of herself.
"What? What the fuck kind of question is that?!" Lupus' voice was equally loud, but shrill, strained. Strangled.
"Then I have," Valora said. "Good."
She charged.

In a second she closed the distance, and three times she clubbed Lupus with heavy, dense steel. After the third blow it snapped again, breaking in two when Valora slammed it against Lupus' side. The rest of it was too short to be useful, so Valora threw it aside, and tried to get her hands around Lupus' neck.
But this time, finally, Lupus had the presence of mind to fight back. Baring her teeth, she danced quickly away from Valora's grasp, feinting right so effectively that Valora almost thought she was in two places at once. Her distraction allowed Lupus to deliver a jab and a solid, powerful hook directly to her chin.
"Urgh!" Valora stumbled back. That had hurt. Matching Lupus' snarl she swung back, but Lupus moved only a little to the side, and made Valora whiff completely. She was surprisingly agile. Certainly, Valora realised, Lupus was more agile than she.

"HA!" The brief victory made Lupus go right back to thinking Valora was nothing to her. With a coward's courage, she went on the offensive. With accuracy and technical skill that Valora had not anticipated, Lupus rocked her with two hard blows to the midsection, weaving beneath a slightly sluggish hook, and then tripping her with a quick, vicious kick to Valora's knee. Again, Valora tried to counter, but she got only a glancing blow on Lupus' cheek, and was rewarded with the feeling of a kneecap harder than diamond and tougher than steel being driven into her stomach. Finally Valora did get a solid blow in, and knocked Lupus a few metres back, but it didn't change what both of them knew. In that exchange, Lupus had been the clear victor.

"Oh yeah. I knew it. I fuckin' knew it." Of course. Of course the bimbo didn't really know how to fight. They'd trained her, the ones who'd given Lupus her suit, they'd make sure that she could use her strength. Valora was probably so impressed with herself for being born strong that she thought she was some awesome fighter or something. Yeah. Yeah! Lupus - Lupus wasn't scared of her! She couldn't fight worth a damn, the dopey, fat-chested, pouting dimwit with the combined intellect of a soccer player and three more soccer players. Lupus wasn't afraid. Not in the least. Not even when Valora squared herself, fixed her pale eyes on her sneering enemy, and bellowed a wordless howl at her. Not even when she stamped the ground so hard that the concrete beneath them seemed to explode, and Lupus was knocked into the air. Not even when, with Lupus in the air and unable to dodge anything, Valora charged at her, leapt into the air, and delivered a two footed, full strength kick directly into her stomach.

Dust and stone and brick and metal and wood and gravel and glass. Through all of these Lupus sailed, no barrier that the city of Portland could offer having any resistance to her. When, finally, she came to a stop she had travelled three quarters of a mile. Groaning, she tried to rise to her feet, but there was no ground beneath her. She had come to a stop, finally, in an office building. In it, that is, in that she had formed a large dent in its side, between its third and fourth floor, and was only not falling to the ground because she had become slightly wedged into its cladding. She pulled herself out easily enough, and landed fairly lightly on the ground below. The streets weren't completely deserted, and some people were pointing at her, others running. It only just occurred to Lupus that Valora was being extraordinarily reckless. She'd thought that a full capes-and-tights hero like Valora would have pulled her punches out of concern for the public welfare, but when she saw the trail of damage that had been left between the construction site and where she'd landed, any thought that Valora would hold back was absurd. When she felt her own bruises, felt the real damage that Valora had done to her nigh-invulnerable body, even Lupus had to be fully cognisant of her own fear.

And then there she was. Standing level with Lupus, only about twenty feet away, but somehow seeming to stand above her. She was full of scorn for her enemy, who had appeared out of nowhere to threaten and curse her, but Lupus saw still more than what was there. She saw Valora's womanly beauty mocking her, saw in Valora a wish for nothing more than to humiliate and belittle Lupus, with every action that she took. To have what Lupus should have. To be what Lupus should be.

And for the first time, as the two locked eyes, Valora really noticed Lupus. Really saw her. And nothing about what she saw did she like. The initial, delirious rush and pleasure of combat was beginning to fade. The simple wish to forget the pain of her encounter with her father and stepmother could no longer be fulfilled. Lupus' skilled, vicious attack on her had forced her to take the fight seriously. It had woken her up, woken her from shock and a badly needed dissociation from the horror of what her life had turned out to be. She had not wanted to wake up. She could not fight a foe that equalled her power and feel the full force of this new misery at one and the same time.

Lupus was blind to Valora's anguish. She saw her, saw everyone, merely in terms of what they gave or denied her.
"What the fuck?!" Lupus shrieked, pacing uncomfortably in a small circuit. "This is bullshit! I'm as strong as you! I'm faster than you! I should be winning! You - you don't even know how to fight!"
"Don't...?" Valora's eyes flashed. "Don't... know how to fight?"
"Awwww," Lupus mocked. "Did I hurt your feelings, baby? Never fought someone who could actually -"
Three things shut her up. The first was Valora's fist in her stomach. The second was Valora's forehead slamming into hers. The third was Valora's boot on her throat.

"Don't know how to fight?!" Valora repeated. "You - you stupid little shit. You think a few boxing lessons mean you know how to fight? You think stolen powers mean you know how to fight? I'm always fighting," she said, catching herself by surprise with how much these words meant to her. "Always... always! I'm always fighting!" she repeated, increasing the pressure on Lupus' throat. She looked down at her growling, snarling enemy with utter disdain. What a fool. What a selfish, childish idiot. If she was just after Valora for the bounty, that would be one thing. That would be mercenary greed, or amoral callousness. That, Valora could tolerate. But this? This insane anger with Valerie, of all people? Blaming her for - for what? How fucking bad could Lupus' life be?

And then she looked again into Lupus' eyes, and for an instant she saw something even more unpalatable than Lupus' cravenness. She saw desperation. She saw miserable hunger. She saw aimless, directionless rage. She didn't even really know why she felt a stab of disgust at herself, wasn't consciously aware of the fact that she'd projected a broken mirror onto Lupus' face, but she did feel it, and she relaxed the pressure on Lupus' throat.

Mistaking Valora's anguish for weakness, Lupus threw her enemy from her with a harsh shout. Springing skilfully to her feet, Lupus caught Valora on the jaw with a swift, two-knuckle punch. Valora was knocked off balance, and Lupus tried to follow up with a roundhouse kick that would have torn the head clean off an ordinary person. But Valora knew her opponent's skill now, and she rolled out of the way. Before Lupus could attack again, Valora used her strength in a way Lupus would never have thought of, stabbing her fingers into the pavement, crushing the concrete into dust, and hurling that dust into Lupus' face.
"You cheating bitch!" Lupus cried out, blinded. She moved back, but it did her no good. Another hammerblow to her midsection, and she was sent sailing into the air once again, the ground splintering beneath Valora's feet as she struck.

It was the softest landing so far, and the least ridiculous. Not so disoriented now, Lupus landed on her feet, her heels digging into mud. Looking down, she realised that Valora had actually knocked her out of Portland's city limits. The I-295 coasted lazily past her a few metres away. She could hardly believe her enemy's strength. She knew, rationally, that whatever Valora could do, she could do, but even in a world that had known superhumans for more than a hundred years such strength beggared belief. Lupus felt a gnawing sense of inferiority, and she tried to stamp it out with sheer anger, but it didn't work. She saw a shadow above her crossing the dim light of the moon, and she cursed it. But she couldn't help fearing it.

Valora landed easily, lit with the dim, orange light from the nearby highway. She'd come down softly. She knew from long experience how much strength it took to carry herself great distances, what it took to fight with real power. Though one day a martial art that took account of the titanic might she wielded might be invented, it had not been yet. Lupus' skill was hardly useless, but it was not enough to close the gap. Sure, Lupus tried to attack again, and she succeeded to some extent. She got three, four good hits in on Valora, and almost managed to send her flying. But though Valora was rocked by these attacks, her durability meant that Lupus was just pushing her around, rather than really hurting her. And Lupus was nervous too, would not commit to a full force, risky strike, at first. And when frustration finally forced her to, Valora - for she was not without skill herself - ducked Lupus' would-be-decider, and grabbed at her legs. She lifted Lupus off the ground and, baying, she tried to crush her.

From one side to the other, Valora smashed Lupus into the ground, holding her ankle with both hands. And then she did it again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Lupus howled in pain, and Valora felt an ugly pleasure in herself at each cry.
"Stupid," Valerie thought. "Stupid. Useless. Selfish. Whining. Grasping. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot! Idiot! IDIOT!" She raged and raged and raged, but it was not enough. She could not hurt enough. Even Lupus would die before she had given enough pain to balance the scales. It was only when Lupus stopped crying out, when even Valora's arms were growing heavy with the continual effort that she dropped her enemy, and staggered backwards, shaking.

Lupus lay on her back for a while, stunned almost to unconsciousness. Every part of her groaned in pain. Blood trickled from her forehead. She stared up at the sky, and dumbly gaped. If Valora had, in that moment, decided to have done with it all and just break Lupus' neck, she could have. But Valora, unlike Lupus, could feel shame, and shame stayed her hand. So Lupus gradually gathered her wits, and stood, trembling and afraid. She wanted to run away. She felt very small, and very weak, like a greedy dog who had been stupid enough to challenge a grizzly bear. She wanted to flee, and lick her wounds. She was bruised, battered and bloodied, and Valora was all but unharmed. She was sweating, and panting, but that was all.

And then an idea. It floated, as a bolt from the blue, into Lupus' mind. Slowly, her cringing, cowering expression shifted into one of sneering self-satisfaction.
"Alright then," Lupus said. "Fine. If I can't kill you..." She turned her eyes towards the highway. "There's plenty of people who are a lot squishier." And she leapt.
Valora watched her sail into the air. Watched her fly all the way to the I-295. Watched her land on the bonnet of an SUV, crushing it. Saw the explosion.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

"Oh god," Valora said. "Oh god!" she repeated, awakening, realising that Lupus was not just a punching bag for her - she was a terrible threat to everyone and everything around her. Valora leapt after her, but she jumped away. As Valora furiously tore the SUV's door off, and pulled out the stunned - but relatively unhurt - driver, Lupus landed in the middle of one of the lanes of the highway. Another car swerved around her, almost crashing into a second. Not sure what else to do, both drivers honked their horns at Lupus, and she gleefully raised her middle finger at them.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Valora shouted at her. "You can't beat me, so you're just going to kill random people to make yourself feel better?"
"Why not?" Lupus shouted back. "You're the superhero. So I'm the villain, right? And what does the villain do when the overpaid hack writin' them can't think of anything better for them to do? They go on a big, evil rampage!"
Another car had stopped behind her, honking furiously at her to get out of the way. It was an old, grey Buick, and the old, grey septuagenarian at the wheel probably had no business driving a car anymore. Their bad eyesight meant that they could only just about see the obstruction in front of them. They only got a better view when Lupus came closer, waved at them, lifted up their Buick, and threw it at Valora.

Valora did not immediately know what to do. If she just caught the vehicle, the force of the sudden stop might easily kill the driver. But she had no time to think about it, and all she could think to do was just to sort of guide the vehicle so that it landed flat, and the force of Lupus' throw just rolled it forwards instead of slamming it into the ground. Thankfully it worked, but if Valora had hesitated for even a second longer it would have failed, and the driver would have died. Furious, Valora turned on Lupus again, and began to charge at her. But Lupus didn't seem perturbed. She laughed, and winked - and ran away.
"Motherfucker!" Valora growled, and furiously gave chase.

Vast strength meant long and mighty strides, and the two superhumans ran at speeds that would have put an Olympic athlete to shame. Every step threw up clumps of broken tarmac, leaving clear, solid footprints in the road. Valora went as fast as she could, sometimes just running, sometimes hurling herself forwards, but she could not close the gap between her and her foe. In a straight line, with her greater mastery of her power, Valora was faster, but Lupus kept repeating her trick, kept grabbing cars and smashing or throwing them and forcing Valora to stop and help her victims. By the time they got off the I-295 and into Portland proper, Valora was beginning seriously to tire.

But Lupus showed no signs of stopping. As soon as remotely tall buildings appeared, she leapt up to the top of one of them. Valora followed, and was inches away from grabbing Lupus by the neck, but she missed. Lupus sneered and laughed, and leapt to another rooftop, and another, Valora always just a few inches behind. And with each one, Valora had to call on more and more of her endurance, struggle more and more for her jumps to be accurate. At one moment she was inaccurate, and she crashed through a window near the top of a building, rather than reaching the top itself. Fearing that she'd lost Lupus, Valora had raced back to the building's roof, smashing her way through a few doors to do it, only to find Lupus had waited for her.
"Come on, Valley," Lupus laughed, unknowingly mimicking Victoria Orville's nickname for her stepdaughter. "You'd better catch me before I do something really evil."
Valora didn't have the breath to vocalise her wrathful frustration, so she burned it into Lupus with her eyes alone. Half amused, half-terrified, Lupus ran away again, with Valora in furious pursuit.

They probably travelled the length and breadth of Portland three times over. It was not a large city, after all, but it was large enough. Valora had never been in a fight that lasted this long. But surely the same was true of Lupus - even if her endurance was better than Valora's, it would be only a human difference. She would be tiring as well, even if she didn't show it. That was the point of her taunts, Valora realised. To frustrate her, to blind her with anger, into making a mistake. If only she had known! If only Lupus had been aware that her enemy's rage was already close to perfection.

Finally, Lupus too began to slow. Her leaps became less daring, her steps less and less agile. It began to become clear that she was not just leading Valora around, she was leading her somewhere specific. There was no point being wary, though. Either Valora gave it all she had, and trusted in her power to deal with any tricks Lupus might have up her sleeve, or she held back, and Lupus got away, and Valora opened herself up to be ambushed by her at some other moment.

Finally, Lupus reached her target. She reached one last rooftop, and this time she made no attempt to run. She turned, squared her shoulders, and stood her ground.
Valora landed a few seconds later, hitting the floor beneath her hard, cracking the ground. She did not realise it, but she was on top of the Maine Superhero Registration Office building. They had come in a great circle all the way back to where they'd started.

"There..." Valora panted. "Are you... done... running?" She wiped sweat from her brow. Her heart thumped in her chest harder than it had in a very long time.
"Oh yeah," Lupus replied. "I'm done. And so are you." She grinned, a wide toothy smile, and approached Valora, popping the joints in her neck and her hands.
Valora approached too, but faster, determined to end the fight then and there. Taking a trick out of Lupus' book, she jerked to the right, before striking Lupus with a harsh left cross. The blow connected, and Lupus was pushed back. But Valora hadn't meant to push her back. She'd meant to knock her on her ass. She tried again, but this time the blow was even weaker. Enraged, she grabbed Lupus by the shoulders, and pulled her in so she could headbutt her - but Lupus just withstood the attack. Losing focus, Valora tried to finish her enemy with a full-power haymaker, but she missed wildly, and with a powerful back-kick Lupus caught her right in the midsection, hurling her backwards, knocking her down.

"What... the hell?!" Valora growled, rising to her feet. She was struggling for breath. She was - she was exhausted. She looked back at her enemy, and saw the blood on her face, the shattered ruin of her armour. She was hurt. Battered and bruised. Valora didn't have a scratch on her, while Lupus looked like a heavyweight boxer on the losing end of a 10-round fight. Only that was not quite right. She looked as injured as a losing boxer, but she didn't look tired. She wasn't sweating. She was breathing completely normally. She had been running at a full sprint, and performing spectacular acrobatics, for the better part of an hour, not to mention the pasting that Valora had given her beforehand. She should have been tired, at least. But she wasn't. Not even slightly.

"Man," Lupus said, "you look fuckin' bushed. Who knew you were such a delicate little flower, huh?"
"Fuck you!" Valora growled, and leapt at Lupus again. But Lupus leapt up to meet her, mid-air, and grabbed her. Valora was so stunned that she didn't react, and by the time Valora and Lupus landed, Lupus had her in a half-nelson. Both arms were wrapped around Valora, from behind, Lupus' hands pushing down on Valora's neck, one arm pinned by the same hold.

"Get off me, you shitty - little - pest!" Valora threw Lupus to and fro, more irritated than threatened by the manoeuvre. Exhausted or not, Lupus' body weight was nothing to Valora, but she couldn't escape her grip either. She reached backwards with her free arm, but Lupus skilfully positioned herself so that Valora couldn't grab at her. Eventually, by the sheer force of her bucking, Valora managed to throw Lupus up and over her head, and throw her off by wrenching her as hard as she could with her free arm, and she staggered backwards, trying to catch her breath.

But Lupus didn't give her a chance. She rushed straight back in for another attack. Valora tried to match her on her own terms, and grabbed Lupus' shoulder and waist, to lift her over her head. But Lupus fought back, and the two scrabbled at each other, until their hands were locked together, grappling in a raw contest of strength. Valora's grim countenance was set against Lupus' sneering, snarling mania, and the contest seemed an even one at first. No, not even that - Valora had the advantage at first. Her strength was her own, and its roots ran deep in her. In every muscle, every ligament and tendon and bone it suffused her. And even exhausted as she was, she began to overpower Lupus, to crush her hands, and to force her down.

But Valora couldn't keep it up. Her muscles, already tired, and now faced with an obstacle that was a bitter challenge to their might, could not keep up their assault forever. Slowly, surely, Valora began to weaken, and Lupus began to push back.
"How?" Valora thought. "How does she have this much endurance?" Her arms were aching, her lungs straining, lactic acid building up in such vast quantities in her muscles that even she couldn't ignore it. But for Lupus, there were no such constraints. Her strength was as great now as it had been at the beginning, and showed no signs of dwindling even slightly. And so, with speed that Valora simply could not match in her exhausted state, she broke the grapple, darted behind Valora, and hooked both her arms, tenting her fingers on the back of Valora's neck. When Valora tried to brace herself to throw Lupus off, Lupus kicked at both her ankles, and yanked her backwards, so that both of them were pulled off their feet.

"UNGHH!" Valora cried out. Lupus had locked her upper body in place. Her enemy's thin arms held her own with excruciating tightness, keeping them effectively useless. Her legs kicked out, slamming down onto the ground, throwing plaster and stone in plumes about the two combatants, but it was useless. Lupus had positioned Valora almost perfectly to keep her struggles useless. Valora could strain, she could pull and buck against her enemy, and she could even feel tantalising hints that she was breaking Lupus' hold. But she could never summon the full amount of energy she needed, and even those snatches at escape got fewer and fewer as the seconds wore on.

"Oh yeah," Lupus laughed. "Oh, yeah!" It was working. She was doing it! She had Valora right where she wanted her. She'd thrown a big, angry tantrum, and she'd tired herself out, and now Lupus fucking had her! She had the stupid bimbo squirming and bucking. She could feel Valora against her, all curvy and feminine and - oh, god, just the fucking tastiest. And Lupus was beating her. Grabbing her, pinning her feminine limbs, pulling her down. But it was not enough. Relaxing her grip slightly, she pulled herself up Valora's body, and just when her pretty, golden-haired dunce thought her arms were free, Lupus wrapped her thin, strong legs around them, and pinned them against her sides. She felt Valora's body held and trapped between her thighs, grinding against her so soft and womanly. It was so... oh god she was hot! But the work wasn't done yet. Freeing her arms, Lupus reached behind her, dug her fingers into the concrete, and began dragging the two of them across the ground.
"Get... off!" Valora groaned. "Get off! Get off, you sneering bitch!" She kicked, and thrashed, and she certainly impeded Lupus' progress, but she could not stop it.
"Make me!" Lupus spat back, pulling them further and further across the rooftop. "Aww, that's right - you can't, can you? You got all tuckered out, and now you can't do shit!"
"No... no this isn't -" Valora couldn't process it. Couldn't understand how someone so venal, so small and stupid, could be threatening her so seriously. Copied power or no - it just wasn't possible. A red mist descended over her vision as she tried to break her enemy - but she couldn't do it. "How?!" she almost screamed, not even really asking Lupus, because to her Lupus wasn't even a person so much as she was a tasteless joke.

But whether Valora liked it or not, Lupus was a person, and she'd heard her foe's anguished cry. She laughed at it, but deigned in her mercy to answer.
"'How'? You mean 'how am I - rghhh!" She grunted, annoyed by the fact that Valora was still fighting her. "How - rrhhh! - am I still going strong while you're exhausted'? You mean 'how come - gnnhh - you can't just flail your arms and magically win'? You mean 'how am I kicking your ass'?" In her position she couldn't quite whisper into Valora's ear, but she approximated it as best she could. "Well, Valley - I fucking cheated." She was too pleased with herself. She giggled with glee, and if her hands hadn't been occupied, she would have clapped them together. "See," she said, continuing to pull Valora along with her, aiming for a particular spot on the rooftop, "I thought - I'd lucked out - when I got your power off you." With each thing she said, she punctuated it by yanking Valora along with increasing violence. "I thought it couldn't get any better than this. And I was kinda right. But I was stupid for thinking I could be as good as you. I was meant to be better."

Lupus stopped pulling Valora along, right by one of the plumbing vents on the rooftop. She seemed to be fiddling with it, or something by it.
"I bumped into some old friends of ours," Lupus said. "You remember, Freebird, Cecily, the... uh... other one? It was a pretty intimate encounter, yeah?"
"You?" Valora felt something between rage, panic and raw astonishment. "That was you?! You're the one who attacked them? Why? Why would you do that? Why would you do something like that to them, of all people?!"
"Eh." Lupus shrugged. "I needed the cash."
"Money? You did that for money?! You - you - NGHHH! AAGHHHHHH!!" She couldn't speak. She couldn't think. A new injection of wrath momentarily renewed her vigour, but she still could not break Lupus' grasp. All Lupus' revelation had done was make her inability to break her grasp all the more agonising.

Lupus continued fiddling with the thing she'd found, but then stopped cold. "Hey wait a minute. I was in the fucking middle of explaining how I'm better than you and you - interrupted me!" She squeezed Valora tighter with her thighs, crushing her arms against her sides, delighting at the pained cry she pressed out. "You don't get it, do you? The - the little one, whatever the fuck her name - Debra! DEBRA! That was it." This realisation made Lupus feel like a stone-cold genius. "I mean, Jesus, I don't know what Lance Fuck-der-Boek saw in her. She couldn't use her powers for shit." She found she had to restrain herself from going 'tee-hee!'. "But I can."
It took Valora a moment to remember what Debra's powers were. But when she did, she stopped struggling. She realised the depth of her error.
"Ahhh, yeah, you remember, huh? Little Debbie can take a licking and keep on ticking! It's a pretty crummy power," Lupus said, "for a superhero I mean. In fact, it's the weakest power I've ever encountered. In fact it's so weak," she said, doing something that made a sloshing sound near Valora's right ear, "that I can hold onto her power, and yours... at the same... time." There was an unpleasant smell in the air. "You get it, dumbass? You got fucking rope-a-doped. I've got all your strength... and I never get tired. But you? You, I think - you're about to get very, very tired."

When Valora had first knocked Lupus into the air, at the beginning of their battle, Lupus had quite forgotten the item she'd stashed at the site of her ambush. She'd been thrown a mile away, and she'd not then - with Valora at the apex of her endurance and taking Lupus entirely to school - been able to envision any way to get back to her original plan. She hadn't had any notion of what a battle between two beings of such vast power would look like. She'd thought the fight would stay confined to where it had started, and when it didn't Lupus had been in an extended panic until she'd realised that Valora was tiring. Only then had it occurred to her to return to the scene of the crime she was still in the middle of committing. Only then did it occur to her that she could still use the glass jar marked 'CHCl3' that she'd stashed by the plumbing vent on top of this rooftop.

Only now did she press the chloroform soaked rag over Valora's well shaped nose and her soft, red mouth.

"MMMMMMMMMPPPPPHHHHHH!!" Valerie cried out, muffled with a thick, off-white cloth. "MMMMHHH! MMHHHHHGHH! MMMMMMPHHHHH!" Her senses were assailed with a sharp, sweet smell, her every breath sucking it into herself. It was a scent she'd encountered before, once, when James Oleander had tried to kidnap her outside her house. The attempt had been laughable - she'd sent him flying in an instant. But a flick of the wrist couldn't get Lupus off her. Lupus' legs were wrapped around her arms, and Valerie was so tired, and though Valerie's long legs kicked furiously, her enemy had positioned herself so that this didn't matter in the slightest. She bucked, and she writhed, and she lifted her body to slam herself down against her foe, but it didn't matter. And as she fought, she breathed harder and harder, and gulped down lungfuls of chloroform vapour, and within a few seconds, she began to feel it.

Tingling in her fingers and toes. A leadenness in her mighty limbs. An encroaching dizziness in her head. It was affecting her. It was weakening her. And yet, Valerie made every effort to convince her foe that it was not. She fought harder, pushing valiantly against the python-grip of Lupus' thighs, slamming the back of her head into Lupus' body, and wrenching her head from one side to the other.
"Nmmhhh - no! Get this - nmmhhh - ughh! No, fu - MMMHHHHHH!!" Valerie kept coming up for air, for the briefest of moments, as she twisted herself away from the cloth. But every time Lupus would pull it back down, and every time her hands felt stronger, the cloth felt wetter, and heavier, and Valerie felt slower, and weaker.

There came a tipping point. Valerie's curvy legs, thinly covered in translucent satin, began to kick less vigorously. The pressure against Lupus' inner thighs was lessening. Valerie couldn't keep it up. She was - she was getting weak. She could no longer escape the vice of Lupus' fingers, closed tight around her face, nor the cloth they pressed against her. Now the exposure to the fumes was constant, now the sickly-sweet smell pushed itself insistently into her nostrils, until she could neither smell nor taste anything else. Her shoulders rolled slowly as she struggled against her attacker, her breasts heaving. But even as the power of her body dimmed, it did not yet occur to Valerie that she could lose - only that the struggle was becoming more and more maddening. It was not the weakness that made her fear - but the drowsiness.

It took a long time, relatively speaking, for the somnolence to batter down the door of Valerie's adrenaline and fury. But the pressure built and built, until it rushed into her mind in a flood, soaking her in a sudden torrent of drowsiness.
"UMMMPHHH!!" Valerie cried out, her body tensing in instinctive rebellion against this feeling, as sleepiness pulsed through her. But the tension could not last, and Valerie felt her body begin to ease, to slacken and relax in Lupus' grasp. "No..." she thought. "No I won't... won't lose... won't give... up..." But she was finding it difficult to hold onto this thought, this resolve. It was there, sure, as stalwart as ever, but it was covered in oil, slipping from her grasp. The chloroform thumped a steady drumbeat into Valerie's body: Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. And there was much in Valerie that was exhausted, much that wanted to obey the command.

Hatred for Lupus, fortunately, made the rest of Valerie resist, and nothing Lupus did as she tried to put Valora to sleep gave the hero any reason to think better of her loathing. For as her victim weakened, Lupus found herself able to change her position. She unwrapped her legs from Valerie’s torso, and shimmied herself downwards so that she could pin her arms with but a single arm of her own, leaving her other hand free to continue pressing the cloth down over Valora’s mouth. Her legs she wrapped around Valora’s, pressing and squeezing her firm, rounded thighs, and suppressing her struggles completely. She felt Valora growing softer, feebler, and she laughed to herself as Valora gyrated softly against her – and she gyrated right back, pushing their bodies together, feeling the blonde’s womanly rear rubbing and pressing into her.
“Yeah, babe,” Lupus said, “struggle for me. Wriggle for me. Can’t go anywhere. Can’t do anything. Suck it up. Suck it in.”
“Nmmhh… nhhh, hh… chhnnn…” Valerie moaned, writhing, feeling sweat trickle down her warm neck, slip between her heaving bosoms. “What… do I… what do I do… need to think I can’t… how’s she… winning… ?” Her thoughts were escaping from her control. Escaping from being thoughts at all. She couldn’t figure anything out. Lupus’ limbs were wrapped around her, lusty breath hot against her, but Valerie couldn’t escape it. Couldn’t – do anything. Even though she was strong. Even though she was resilient beyond resilient – she was on the cusp of complete defeat.

Bit by bit, Valerie’s body began to be overcome by the drug. First her breath, from rapid and panicked to slow and deep, obediently drawing the chloroform further and further in, inviting that awful weakness to spread its claim over Valerie more and more daringly. Then her long, curvaceous legs, kicks and thrusts fading, fading into somnolent writhing, sensually rubbing against each other, and against Lupus’ legs which held them, with a soft swish-swish from the thin satin covering them. Then her arms, once able to send Lupus sailing over the horizon, now reduced to batting feebly, completely overpowered by her enemy’s single limb. Even her voice betrayed her, her shouts and growls devolving into weak, muffled moans – whimpers even – as the chloroform took all her strength away.

Lupus was on the point of raw bliss. Valora – Valora! – fading and mewing and wiggling all soft and sleepy in her arms. She buried her face in Valora’s long, blonde hair, smelling it, smelling her beautiful, whimpering foe.
“Oh yeah,” she grunted, “you’re so fucked… you’re so fucked.” She grinned, and began kissing Valora’s face, pulling her gorgeous figure tighter and tighter against her own, rubbing herself against Valora’s behind. Perhaps unwisely, she unhooked her arm from Valora’s, but though it was a foolish gamble, it paid off. Valora reached for the hand still pressing the cloth against her mouth, and she even managed to wrap all ten digits around Lupus’ wrist, but her tugs were weak. She couldn’t even begin to pull the cloth away. So Lupus’ right hand became free, and she put it to immediate use.

She traced her fingers over Valora’s neck, tickling her clavicles and her sternum. She was trying to be teasing – but she lost the patience for it almost immediately. She saw Valora’s breasts, buxom and round and high, thrusting and bouncing as the blonde’s sleepy struggles continued, a symbol of her beauty, her womanhood. Of course, Lupus didn’t think about it quite so poetically. She thought “Man, those are great fuckin’ boobs,” and she grabbed at them.

“MMmmmmmmmhhhhhh!” Valerie moaned, as she felt Lupus grasping at her breasts. “Mmm… mhhbbbhhhmmhh…” A crimson shadow fell across her cheeks, as she felt Lupus openly fondling her, thrusting her hand down her leotard, grasping a handful of her generous bust, and squeezing her fingers into it, her flesh soft and yielding to Lupus’ touch. Pressing, kneading, spreading her hand wide to grab both of Valerie’s gorgeous breasts, pushing them together, apart, toying with them. With her.
“Mhhh… mmmmhhhhhh…” How? How could this be happening? How could this screeching little nobody be doing this to her? Touching her. Drugging her. Beating her. She felt Lupus reach further in, and heard a snap as Lupus broke off and threw away Valerie’s bra, just so she could have freer access to her bosoms. And she didn’t stop there, either. She pulled the zip of Valerie’s leotard down, to below her bust, and then tugged it sharply downwards. In an instant she exposed acres of Valerie’s warm, creamy skin: baring her smooth, shapely shoulders, her upper arms, almost completely denuding her sumptuous breasts, their buds only barely covered, the cleavage between them totally open to view. Lupus gave a gasp of delight, and almost as an afterthought pulled Valerie’s fingers from her other wrist. Valerie’s arms fell by her sides. She could not raise them again.

Valerie looked down at herself. She saw her own mighty, extraordinarily beautiful body. She saw it betraying her. Her power would not come. Her arms, her legs, would not move. Lead weights pulled down every inch of her, making her so tired. So sleepy. So astonishingly weak. Her body was betraying her, surrendering to Lupus, giving itself over so that her loveliness was a plaything for this venal scum, to touch and squeeze and toy with as she liked. And as Valora’s peach-soft skin glistened with sweat, her eyes faded. Dulled. Her eyelids fluttered prettily, an enforced sleep drawing her down, down, down into darkness, down into weakness.

Lupus felt this, felt that Valora was losing the ability even to try to resist her, and she was happy to take advantage. She began running both hands – for Valora could not even throw the drugged cloth from her mouth – over her victim’s body. Over every line and curve and contour, from Valora’s naked shoulders to her shapely, limp arms; from the trim pinch of her waist to the thrilling curve of her feminine hips and her round, soft ass.
“Oh god, yeah, yeah!” Lupus crowed. “Oh, honey, you’re – you’re voluptuous!” She grinned, immensely pleased with herself that she’d fallen upon the mot juste. “Yeah, that’s it. You’re voluptuous,” she repeated, pawing and grabbing at Valora’s breasts with one hand, her hips with the other. “And I fucking beat you… I tricked you… I got you… and now you’re mine, you understand? Mine!” And so, even as the memories of their battle began to change in Lupus’ mind to suit her whims best, she turned Valerie’s head towards her. She looked in her eyes, her sleepy, helpless expression so sweet. So pathetic. So beaten. She wanted a better look, and so she pulled Valora’s mask off her face. She heard a long, aggrieved moan from her victim, and she laughed heartily at it. She held Valora’s mask over her face, giggling, like she was playing a child’s game of keep-away. And then she tossed it over the side of the building, waving to it as it fell. She looked back at Valora’s dismayed face, uncovered now. No – not quite. She pulled the cloth away too, so she could really see her. She was so weak now, there was no chance of her managing to escape its effects – but just in case, she rested the cloth beneath Valora’s chin, so she was still breathing its fumes.

But in that moment, as the two looked each other in the eye, Lupus had a strange feeling. She saw Valora’s face, and though she laughed at her weakness and sleepiness, there was – there was something else there. Her features were gorgeous, yes: large clear, blue eyes; soft, shapely cheeks; with a well-shaped jaw that made her features strong enough to be beautiful, rather than just pretty. But it wasn’t just that. It was – it was pride. Even now, even half-stripped and fondled and drugged, even humiliated and outmatched, there was a pride in Valora’s features, worn in, chiselled into the rockface of her countenance. Lupus felt a need to understand, and she searched for the right simile. The pride of… what? She tried ‘noble’, but Valora did not have the haughty face of an aristocrat. She tried ‘warrior’, and that was certainly closer, but Valora’s pride wasn’t martial or macho. She tried ‘hero’, even, but Lupus didn’t really know what that meant. It was just… her. It was something that Lupus felt she could not touch, and she hated it, viciously. She detested it, and she expressed that detestation by pulling Valora into her arms, and kissing her as deeply as she could.

“Mmmhhh!” Valerie moaned, feeling Lupus’ tongue thrust into her mouth. “This… this is… ugh – ugh, no… NO!” Lupus disgusted her. It wasn’t just that it was against her will. It wasn’t just that Lupus was a woman. It wasn’t even that Lupus did not kiss particularly skilfully. It was just that Valora found no-one that she had ever met more disgusting than Lupus. She cursed the state of her body, strained her limbs, but they would not answer her. They barely twitched, her body almost completely still now. She was a victim. A helpless, gorgeous blonde, outmatched, overpowered and drugged, smooth and voluptuous, beautiful and weak.

Lupus pulled at Valora’s limp legs, bringing the maiden onto her lap, cradling her, letting the weight of her hang heavy in her grasp as she kissed her, vigorously rubbing Valora’s womanly thighs, crossing her legs for her to get a better reach at Valora’s behind, to squeeze and pat and smack as she kissed her. She was flawless, and Lupus despised her for it, and wanted her for it, and growled with lust and hatred into her victim’s mouth.

Finally Lupus broke the kiss, and tilted Valerie’s head back over her arm, letting it droop, letting her soft, golden hair trail like a fountain of sunlight down towards the grey concrete beneath the two. Giggling, she rubbed the chloroform-soaked cloth over Valora’s shoulders, her chest, her breasts, enjoying the sight of Valora’s skin wet, especially with the drug that had made her so weak. But she was beginning to grow nervous of her enemy, still remembering her power, and she felt the need to ensure her victory decisively. She took the cloth in her hand, and finding the jar behind her, soaked it afresh in chloroform. Still letting Valora’s head dangle over her arm, Lupus forced the cloth over her mouth again, this time not just to weaken and toy with her. This time to put her out completely. This time to take her.

What is the difference, one wonders, between the great and the lesser? Why do some rise to the top, to be admired and adored and worshipped for generations, while their rivals fade into half-memory? Luck is much of it. If Julius Caesar had been born 100 years before Sulla’s reign of terror, Rome might never have bowed to his whims. Technical ability, also, is much of it. Kasparov was not the greatest chess player in the world because of charisma, but because he was a better player than his opponents. A just cause can help as well: Winston Churchill or Mahatma Gandhi or Sophie Scott might have been remembered very differently, or not at all, had it not been for the evil of what they opposed. But there is something else, too. Something that might feebly be described as ‘heart’ or ‘grit’, but these words only vaguely grope towards the right idea. An ability to reach in – and always to find more waiting for you. Whether they used it for good or ill, all mentioned here had the power to do this. Lupus might have had limitless stamina, but that was not the same. Valerie Orville had it. She reached in. She bent the world to her will, and demanded a miracle from it. And through the haze of the chloroform, through the exhaustion and weakness and limpness of her limbs, like a fallen tree pulling itself back up, Valora reached out, pushed, the rag away from her face, and threw Lupus from her.

“UGH!” Lupus cried, landing ten metres away. “What? What?! No – there’s – there’s no way you can still be conscious!”
But she was conscious. Shaking, and bleary-eyed, and panting, she was conscious. She was standing. And with a capacity for effort that was the real difference between ‘crimefighter’ and ‘hero’, she stood tall. She stood proud. She felt the chasm yawning beneath her, the screaming demand for sleep, the agonised protests of every muscle in her body that by rights should have been essentially paralysed. She felt her body’s insistence that it, and she, were helpless, and that she could not fight. But she ignored it. Her will was stronger. She was Valora!
“I… never… lose…” Valerie said, taking a slow, heavy step towards her enemy, who backed away in fear. “I… never… LOSE!” She trembled, but she did not falter, and she took step after step, advancing further and further. She had to hold on. She had to hold onto her strength. She had to hold onto its purpose. She could win, as long as she held onto what she was fighting for!

And then an image of her father flashed into her mind. And with a cold, dreadful clarity, Valerie realised that she wasn’t fighting for anything.

She fell. Her arms dropped to her sides. Her shoulders drooped. The determination drained at once from her face. She gave a soft, sweet whimper, and her eyelashes fluttered. Her curvaceous legs gave way beneath her, and she fell, meek and limp, to her knees. Her breasts bounced as her diamond-hard knees struck the ground beneath her, displaying her helpless loveliness to any who cared to look. She swayed like a reed, like a snake being charmed and entranced, her expression vacant, listless. The warm waves of sleep crashed over her, and she could not bear their weight. With a gasp of despair that made her enemy throb with pleasure, Valerie tipped over, and fell, tumbling to the ground. Prone, exposed. Powerless. She had been knocked completely unconscious.



She had been defeated.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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DrDominator9
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by DrDominator9 »

Your scenes of feminine lassitude created by all sorts of drugs and physical assault never fail to impress. I have much to read here yet but even a quick glance tells me your writing remains powerful, involving and delightful. More comments to follow.
Follow this link to descriptions of my stories and easy links to them:

viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32025&p=163444#p163444

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Artee
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Artee »

Hot damn! I admire your dedication to writing all this. I have to admit I haven't read most of it, but I loved the dragged on fight scene - the way you described what both sides were feeling, they were you conveyed Valora using her as a punching bag for her emotions at first, making them both very human.

"Why not?" Lupus shouted back. "You're the superhero. So I'm the villain, right? And what does the villain do when the overpaid hack writin' them can't think of anything better for them to do? They go on a big, evil rampage!"
I just wanted to bring attention to this funny line :P
I find it great when you writers find ways to push a little humour into your stories. I mean, yeah, sex and all, but a little humour's great!


And I loved how much you kept bringing back how much her past was affecting her throughout the fight, and onto the chloroform scene. Great writing :D

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Seven months earlier...

"Fuck you! Fuck all of you!" Charlie yelled, wildly swinging her arms, both middle fingers firmly outstretched. But she wasn't frothing at the mouth or crying or red-faced as she stormed out of the Bombshells' headquarters. She was smiling. She was angry, sure. Even though no-one had even vaguely suggested to her that she should leave the Bombshells, even though Lance Van der Boek had fully expected his team to become five with the addition of Valora, Charlie was incensed. Her ordeal at Leatherback's hands - or his men's hands, anyway - had dealt a crushing blow to the narrow foundation on which her vast ego rested. She was furious, but somehow throwing her position in Lance's smug face, and leaving the brain-dead little girls who had been her colleagues staring slack-jawed at her as she went - that made her feel great. Besides, she'd been given a hell of a severance package.

She already felt the power swelling inside her. Far more than the pittances she'd had to borrow from others in the past. More even than Freebird's, which was the strongest power she'd ever taken up until that point. This one - this power she'd taken when she stole a kiss from the busty blonde - she hadn't realised. She hadn't understood its depth. It was like falling into a chasm that didn't end. Normally when she took a power its acquisition was virtually instantaneous, but with every step she took she felt her body altering itself to accommodate Valora's strength. Bones becoming denser, but feeling lighter as her muscles burned with power, her skin tingling as its structure altered, retaining elasticity but becoming virtually impervious to damage. She felt giddy. Her body was light as a feather. She loped into a run, and whooped, and leapt into the air - and almost convinced herself she could fly.

Charlie remembered how excited she'd been when she'd discovered her own ability, accidentally copying her older cousin's power to change colours like a chameleon. It made her special. At last she, Charlie Korhonen, was special! She'd been eleven at the time, a little old for changeling fantasies, but she'd held onto hers long enough for it to be vindicated. It took a couple of years for it to dawn on Charlie that no-one was really all that impressed. She was stuck as chameleon-girl for a long time, and even when she'd traded up for an ability to see in the dark when she went to one of Mister Midnight's book signings, she couldn't think of anything to do with her powers. She saw the great heroes of her time on television, and though she planned and plotted ways of getting in the same room with them long enough for her to get their powers, somehow it just never really happened. Van der Boek had only noticed her because she'd never been able to keep her powers a secret, and she was a good-looking young woman - and she hadn't seemed all that bright.

But now things would be different. Now she was a real superhuman! She landed, splintering the ground beneath her, and laughed raucously - she hadn't even felt it! She ran over to a nearby car, and kicked it. It was tossed aside like a toy, crumpling like it was made of tinfoil. Charlie vaguely heard someone shouting at her, but she couldn't possibly have given less of a shit. Already the anguish and humiliation of her capture was fading into the back of her mind. She was just as good as that smug cape who'd rescued her. Just as powerful. There was no success she could not have now.

But Charlie's ambitions, such as they were, had always been very vague, and right then 'success' was just going home and getting some sleep. Narcissist or no, fool or no, Charlie had been through an awful ordeal the night before, and it had kept her from getting even a wink. Who knows? Perhaps if she hadn't been so underslept she wouldn't have made such an irrational decision. But it was too late now. Charlie never knowingly questioned a decision, once made. That would mean admitting she could be wrong.

She arrived home feeling exceptionally pleased with herself. She was already thinking of all sorts of ways to turn her new power to her advantage. Step one would be to find a really, really big bad guy. Maybe Apollyon, the Sun-Man - powerful enough that no-one fucked with him in his home turf. Then attract some attention - hell, she could get in touch with someone even stronger than Valora, though with the surging energy in her body she found it hard to imagine that anyone could outmatch her now.

No, wait. Fuck all that. Superheroing - I mean, you know. Charlie wasn't pure evil or anything. She didn't, she supposed, in principle object to people using their powers to help or protect others from danger. But it was just so dumb. Sure, she fantasised about being the most beloved, celebrated hero in the world, but given that she wasn't that and probably never would be, she held the whole superhero community in contempt. So now that she was a free agent, and a free agent strong enough not to rely on bottom feeders like Van der Boek, she didn't have to do what anyone else would want. Maybe - maybe she'd set herself up as a mercenary. Yeah! Superhumans weren't allowed to serve in armies thanks to the Madrid Treaty, but there were plenty of people like her who'd found their way into mercenary bands. Except - wait, no that would mean a lot of foreign travel and foreign people and like - you know. Fuck that.

Still, Charlie was pretty optimistic until she started paying attention to the shouting.
"The last time! Do you hear me? This is the last time!" It was her mother's voice. And soon enough it was her entire mother that Charlie perceived, short, stiff legs carrying her awkwardly but quickly from the kitchen to the front room where Charlie had just entered. Simona Korhonen was fifty, but looked much older. Her hair was thin, dyed platinum blonde. Her cheeks were gaunt, her skin leathery from frequent overuse of tanning booths.
"Hey, Mom," Charlie said, confused. "What's -"
"You deal with him," Simona chirped, her voice thin, cracked and strangled. She stank of cigarette smoke. "I can't be fucked anymore. You deal with him." She tried to push past her daughter, found her oddly immovable, and had to walk around her.
"What's the problem?" Charlie said, irritated.
"Oh, what do you think?" Simona replied. "You clean him up this time."
"What? Why do I have to do it?"
"Because you're twenty-one years old and you're still scrounging off your mom, you ungrateful - moocher!"
"Moocher? Fucking - you make me pay rent!" Such had been the case since Charlie had been in high-school.

But Charlie's mother didn't have any more tolerance for being proved wrong than Charlie herself, and she walked past her, stomping her way up to her bedroom. Charlie hurled some invective at her, but didn't follow. Groaning, she moved towards the kitchen door and - wincing - entered it.
Her grandfather was lying on the floor of the small, dark kitchen, groaning weakly, his face resting in a small pool of his own vomit. His vest, already dirty, was stained with cheap beer. Whenever his willpower failed, which it often did, he would go to the nearest convenience store, buy as much beer as he could, set it all down on a table in front of him, and drink until he passed out.
"Jesus Christ." Charlie prodded him with her foot, and he groaned a little louder. She felt a powerful impulse just to leave the old bastard in his own filth, but... man, she couldn't articulate it! Something to do with her new powers. Some vague, weak, atrophied understanding that there was some sense in which she was lucky. Memories of a time before drink had bleached away all the better parts of her grandfather's nature and he'd actually been quite kind to her. And maybe, maybe - ah, fuck it, if it she'd interrogated it too much it'd probably have gone away. So she just helped him into his chair, and began cleaning up.

She mopped up the sick with some paper towels. She cleaned his fat, old face and his short, grey-brown beard with a wet cloth. She pulled off his vest, throwing it into the washing machine, got him a t-shirt and put it onto him. She wondered if she should just leave him there, but it would probably be safer to get him up to his room, lay him on his side, in case he threw up again. There was just the question of how she was going to lug a 220lb. man up a flight of stairs. How could -
"Oh," Charlie said. "Right."

So she lifted him up, carrying the obese, 73 year old man like a baby. He weighed nothing to her now, and that was a pleasure to her. She was careful, even gentle. She took him up to his room, laid him down on his bed, pulled the covers over him.
"Stupid geezer," Charlie muttered. "Why don't you just drink in bed if you're gonna fall on your ass every time?" She gave him a half-irritated, half-playful slap on the back of the head. Then sudden panic - with her new strength even the weakest of blows could have cracked her grandfather's skull open. But all was well - her powers didn't affect her fine motor control. If she wanted to access her strength she had to try, rather than her having to suppress it to move safely. Her grandfather was unharmed and, relieved, she kissed the top of his head. As she did, his eyes opened.

In that moment, Duncan Korhonen held the fate of many in his palm. What would happen to the Bombshells, to Lance Van der Boek, and then to Valora; Milo Patáky's War; Cecily Rothschild's Folly - all of it could have been prevented with one kind word. A kind look. A smile.

But that wasn't what Charlie got. Charlie got a scowl, gingivitis-infused spittle in her face, and got called a "hippie cunt" by her own grandfather.
"Man, fuck this!" Charlie shouted, her voice wavering rather more than she'd have liked. Hugging her arms across her chest, she ran out of the door. She tried to shout something witty to her mother as she walked past her bedroom, something about doing her work for her, but all she came up with was "I did it, okay?"

She left the house seeing red. She wanted to hurt somebody. She was not fully aware of how dangerous this impulse was to someone of such transcendent strength.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Present day...

Charlie - that is, Lupus - had never been so frightened in her life. She'd had Valora wilting and whimpering in her arms, succumbing to a chloroform-soaked rag. And then she'd got out of Lupus' hold. She'd thrown her aside. She'd stood, and fixed Lupus with a look that made Lupus truly understand the meaning of the expression 'death-glare'. But it was nothing more than the swansong of Valora's might. With a moan sweeter than treacle, she'd faded, fluttered, and fallen.

Now there she lay. Completely unconscious. Her arms were flat by her sides, palms up, fingers curled inwards. Her legs, curvaceous and long, were tucked as tightly together as if Lupus had posed her. Her forehead was resting against the concrete, completely straight, her wavy, yellow hair covering her face like a golden veil. She moved only very slightly, as her chest pushed slowly against the concrete beneath her with each long, slow, even breath. She was deeply asleep, as soft and as vulnerable as the fierce warrior had been in her entire life.

But still Lupus feared it was a trick. Even she, for all her vanity, had not been wholly ignorant of the heavy grandeur that Valora wore about her shoulders. Even she had felt small in such a grave and lofty presence as that of her foe. She felt like a woodpecker who'd felled a great, beautiful tree. Hesitantly she approached Valora, still expecting some last counter attack. But none came. With her foot, Lupus prodded Valora in the thigh. There was no reaction. She prodded her in the hip. Nothing. She wedged her foot underneath Valora's body and sharply flicked it upwards. Even then Valora didn't react - though Lupus certainly did.
"Oh my god - oh my god yes!" Lupus - well, she wasn't exactly crying out. She moaned her words, as she looked upon the totality of her triumph.

Valora had been flipped, with no resistance, onto her back. Her head had flopped to the side, resting against one exposed, peach-coloured, slightly raised shoulder. One arm fell upon her stomach, another by her side, bent inward at the elbow so that it almost looked like she was reaching to her forehead to swoon. Her legs had parted a little, just enough for her knees to turn passively inward. The curtain of her long hair had been swept aside as she'd turned, revealing her proud, strong, feminine face. But no trace of pride was left in those features. No ursine anger. No casual, unpretentious dignity. Not even pain, the pain that ran in old, deeply worn canyons through the bedrock of Valora's nature. Just peace. Sleep. Perhaps the partial opening of her red mouth, and the slight crinkling of her dark-yellow, almost brown, eyebrows suggested her repose was not voluntary. Perhaps the simple absence of her mask made it clear that she was not just asleep. She was knocked out.

Lupus didn't know what to do. That is, she knew what she'd been planning to do, and still - of course - intended to do it. But a hundred different desires all buzzed into her mind, all fighting for space, and the result was total paralysis. What does the dog do when it finally catches the postman? She stared at Valora, sort of circling her like a wary hyena, hungry to sink its teeth into the lion's fallen carcass, but terrified of reprisal should the first bite prove its victim merely sleeping.

So, slowly, Lupus knelt by Valora's side. Slowly she reached for her. Carefully she curled her fingers around Valora's forearm, just below right wrist. She lifted it, gently, letting Valora's wrist droop, until her arm was fully outstretched. Lupus let go, and Valora's hand fell, her palm landing on her stomach with a quiet 'slap'. Lupus reached across, took Valora's other wrist, did the same. A duller slap this time, as the thin leather of Valora's glove struck the one beneath, both of her hands now resting on her abdomen in passive repose.

Lupus grew more daring. She pulled off her gloves, actually breaking them off from the rest of her tattered armoursuit. She curled her fingers around Valora's moist, bare shoulders, and she squeezed them.
"Mmmmhhh..." Lupus hummed to herself. Valora's skin was warm, and fine - invulnerability did not make it hard and tough. It was the opposite. For her whole life her body had been essentially impossible to damage, so it had developed no callouses, no scars. Lupus could feel the strength of Valora's muscle as she pressed her fingers into her shoulders, but the skin above had an unblemished, golden softness. Lupus spread her fingers in a wide net, wanting to hold onto as much of her victim's body as she could, pressing into Valora's flawless flesh, forcing it to yield to her power as she made deep impressions in the softness of Valora's body. Her thumbs found Valora's clavicles, prominent and adamant, the skin there close enough to bone that it felt especially delicate. Especially vulnerable.

Lupus released Valora's shoulders. Watched as the impressions she'd made faded. She watched Valora for a few seconds. Watched her breathe. Listened to the quiet sound of air going in and out of her nose. Watched her chest expand and contract. Lupus was degrading something truly beautiful, and she wanted really to feel that, really to understand Valora's loveliness for that degradation to give her the pleasure that she wanted it to.

She slipped her hand underneath Valora's shoulder blades, watching her victim shift and wobble as she worked her hand to the right place. She pushed upwards, lifting Valora's torso a few degrees. The weight of Valora's head made it fall back, her hair spilling onto the concrete, her neck bent backwards, exposed. Her shoulders dropped, arms sagging against the ground.
"Limp as an overcooked noodle," Lupus said, giggling to herself at the silliness of the simile, even though she found it kinda sexy. Hell, she could take the piss out of one of the most powerful women in the world, and they couldn't do shit about it.

Her fingers found their way to the channel that ran between Valora's bosoms, feeling how her skin was slightly more elastic here, more impressionable. She traced, with her index finger, a path up towards Valora's neck. She twirled her finger over Valora's sternum, before zig-zagging onto the groove that led down towards her lovely throat. Valora's neck muscles were tight as Lupus' fingers reached them, taut as her head dipped further and further back. Lupus lingered here: though it would not be easy, with a focused application of her strength, she could have strangled Valora to death. She held Valora's life in her hands, and for Lupus there was a deeply erotic thrill in this. She put her middle finger and forefinger against Valora's neck, feeling for her heartbeat. She found it, felt Valora's lifeblood surging past her fingers with deep, rhythmic thrums. And with each thrum, Lupus felt a matching throb inside herself.

She moved around, letting Valora's head come to rest on her right thigh, as she diverted her attention to Valora's face, a face with the cool, fair beauty of carved marble. Lupus stroked her cheeks with the back of her hand, delighting in the silky feel of them. Turning her hand, she followed the line of Valora's dignified cheekbones to her ears, then down her fair, fine jawline, which elided so smoothly into the contours of her cheeks. Gripped with a playful sadism, she returned her attentions to Valora's cheeks, and pressed them, squishing inwards, making Valora seem to pout, pursing her red lips. Lupus was intent on exploring every inch of Valora - to make her victory, or rather to make Valora's defeat - something genuinely tangible.

"Mhh..." A quiet, soft mew - no, not a 'mew', even. It was hardly more than a breath. But it was enough to make Lupus suspicious. Sure, even if Valora regained consciousness, she'd still be weak and disoriented. It wouldn't be hard for Lupus to knock her out again. But even a weak blow from Valora could send Lupus flying hundreds of metres away, and she might make her escape. So Lupus needed to make sure Valora was utterly insensate. So, with the focus of a nasty little girl with a magnifying glass meticulously frying every ant in a column, she reached with her thumb and forefinger towards Valora's eyes. Carefully, she prised Valora's eyelids open, seeing only the whites at first, and then only the bottom halves of her irises, so far were they rolled back towards her skull. Oh yes. She was out.

Growing more confident, Lupus sat back against one of the vents, dragging Valora by the armpits along with her. She pulled the fainted blonde onto her lap, letting Valora's neck rest against her shoulder, so that her head tipped back next to Lupus', her nose falling against Lupus' right ear. Lupus felt Valora's round, ripe behind pressing into her groin, and she gave a little grunt of pleasure. She put one of her hands just below Valora's navel, and pulled her tighter in, feeling Valora's soft flesh yielding meekly to her strength. Giving a happy bark, Lupus continued pushing her hips against Valora's ass, grinding herself against her voluptuous victim, growling with a heady, sensuous fury, throbbing with victorious delight as she forced the defeated, helpless beauty to pleasure her. And with every undulation of Lupus' body from behind her, Valora herself seemed to ripple and throb, as if she too were moaning in vicious delight.

All restraint abandoned, Lupus turned Valora's face towards hers, twisting her fingers in Valora's soft, golden hair, and forcing a heavy, angry kiss onto her, probing her captive's mouth with her tongue, drinking in the forbidden taste of her, the helpless, heady sweetness of the fallen hero, so hard and strong outside, so warm and soft within. Soft too were her bosoms as Lupus stroked them, soft too were her curvy thighs as Lupus' hands scuttled spider-like over them, the satin of her tights only adding to the pleasure of feeling her up. On a sudden whim Lupus broke the kiss, pushed Valora's head aside, and devoted her full attention to Valora's womanly legs, running both hands up and down her thighs, pulling her own legs up underneath them to lift them up, and then playfully manipulating them. She took full advantage of Valora's insensate limpness, lifting one of her legs high, and then allowing it to fall over the other, crossing her legs in a parody of ladylike elegance.

"Yeah, baby," Lupus moaned, "yeah baby, I've got you, I've got you, I've got you..." She grasped and squeezed at Valora's right thigh, slipping her fingers up and down it, using its crossed position so that she could reach Valora's behind as well, groping her victim freely. "God I wish you were awake," Lupus said. "I wish you could see this. I wish you could see me doing this to you, you stupid... mmm... stupid... busty-ass... bimbo..." She was so... perfect. In power and in beauty a goddess, and Lupus had pulled her down from heaven. Made her moan and wilt in her arms. Defeated her. Taken her.

But that still wasn't enough.

She stood, sharply, letting Valora tumble off her, the hero toppling and rolling onto her back, her fair limbs prettily askew. Lupus left her face down on the cold floor as she searched about for the large, durable, but now tatty, knapsack she'd brought with her to the scene of the crime. The bag was full, and heavy - no burden to Lupus, but certainly a strain on the stitching. Mercifully, then, she emptied it of its contents, messily dumping them on the concrete floor next to Valora's fallen frame.

Lupus paced, sort of jittering back and forth in excitement. Like a child of bad parents that overcompensate for her birthday, Lupus was not sure which of her 'toys' she wanted to play with. As with many decisions that Lupus had been faced with in her life, the eventual conclusion was a simple "fuck it": she would use all of them.
She started with tape. Thick, gunmetal grey tape of industrial strength. It normally cost thirty dollars a roll, but Lupus had pinched it, along with everything else she had with her, and it was with this that she began the binding of Valora.

Had anyone else been doing this, they would have been surprised at how heavy Valora's body was, a result of her dense bone and powerful muscle. But to one with similar strength to herself, her body was feather light. Easily Lupus turned her onto her front, folded her arms behind her. With hungry growls as she tore the tape from the roll, Lupus began tying Valora's arms, and though she didn't know what a 'box-tie' was, that was what she ended up doing to her captive, squishing into the material of her gloves, and her leotard's sleeves, wrapping several layers around her wrists and forearms, enough that even a very strong man would have struggled to free themselves. But even that wasn't enough, and more tape went around her upper arms, just above her elbows so that when Lupus lifted Valora's body to bring the tape round her torso, it was pushing up against the undersides of her breasts. She giggled as she did, lifting Valora and then letting her drop time and time again, listening to the soft, satisfying 'thmmph' as her soft body hit the concrete, the way her head drooped forward, her hair gliding over her naked shoulders, as she sagged forward. Rising and falling. Rising and falling. Rising and falling. And then just falling. Fallen.

She flipped Valora back over. In fact, she did it too hard and turned Valora right back over onto her front again, so more carefully - and with a lot more swearing - Lupus turned her over again. Valora's head fell to the side, her face in profile, her expression - well, not really an expression at all. Just comatose stillness. With her shoulders bared, pulled back by the tension on her bound arms, Valora suddenly struck Lupus as thrillingly, irresistibly vulnerable. She abandoned her immediate task, therefore, just to grope the hell out of her. Lupus slid her hands over every curve and contour, laughing as her fondling jostled Valora's body, forcing her sleepily to imitate the action of struggling. Lupus even thought she heard a despondent little "Oh..." from the captive blonde, but this was just her febrile imagination. Valora remained thoroughly, chemically muzzled.

Still, the imagined sound was enough to prompt Lupus to return to business. She moved her hands back down to Valora's legs, though she snatched as much pleasure from her victim's body as she could on the way down. She curled her fingers around her captive's red boots, snapping and crumpling their buckles. But there was hardly much danger of the boots slipping off: before long from each ankle to the gold trim at the tops the boots were completely obscured by gunmetal-grey tape, holding her calves securely against each other. Lupus' fingers danced swiftly upwards, before probing the shapely silkiness of her thighs, again, and then wrapping more tape around them, just above her knees. It clung easily to her tights, and after Lupus had encircled them a few times, it pinched easily into her thighs - remarkably easily. For, while in Valora's shoulders Lupus had felt her strength along with her beauty, and while she could feel strength and tone in Valora's thighs as well, their chief virtue seemed to be their yielding, feminine roundness. Increasingly it was becoming difficult for Lupus to reconcile the helpless, voluptuous young woman who flopped limply in her grasp with the earth-shattering superhero who had filled Lupus with such terror only a few short minutes before.

This, however, was but the first layer. Lupus reached back to her stash, and took from it a length of coarse, rough, tough brown rope. This wasn't the kind of rope kinky couples would subject each other to in the bedroom. This was the kind of rope that you'd use in the rigging of a 19th Century battleship. But you can bet your ass that Lupus felt kinky when she was using it. Because now - well now she wasn't just capturing Valora. She wasn't just restraining her, now. She was tying her up.

And, oh boy, did Lupus ever tie her up. She stood behind Valora, propped her up with her leg so Valora was sitting up. Then, taking the rope from both ends, Lupus began winding it around and around and around Valora's torso, first quite loosely, but tighter and tighter as Lupus used up more and more of the rope, criss-crossing over Valora's midriff and around her arms, pinching her breasts from beneath, and above, and across, adding to the restraint already being provided by the tape, pushing and pressing into it, squeezing in Valora's naked shoulders, tying her more and more strictly with every passing moment like a slender, but mighty, serpent coiling around Valora's unconscious, limp body. There was so much tension, so much pressure on Valora's torso that it looked like her shoulders were heaving, like her breasts were being hungrily grabbed by half a dozen hands. Lupus was pretty awful at tying knots, but the sheer force she put into tightening her simple, double-knotted shoelace-style bows were more than enough to keep them secure. So secure, in fact, that the tightness of Valora's bondage would have been enough to cut the circulation of a normal person, enough to restrict their breathing, even. Valora was safe from harm of this kind, of course - but she was still bound.

Shapely, limp legs flopped onto Lupus' lap. Swiftly she lashed them up, reinforcing, securing, tightening over the bonds she'd already made. The rope groaned, and creaked, and Lupus heard some the tape snapping under the pressure she enforced, but there was no question of the force and strength of Valora's bondage. But even with the ropes it wasn't enough. The bondage wasn't just for show: Lupus needed it to be strong enough that, if Valora awoke unsupervised, it would at least be difficult enough for her to escape that it would give Lupus time to drug her again. And so, had Valerie been conscious, she would have heard in Lupus' hands the rattling of thick, steel chains.

Well. It was one chain at first. But Lupus called upon a slightly greater fraction of her strength, and snapped it into two. She bent to take Valora by the ankles, and hauled her legs upwards so that her ankles were resting against Lupus' breasts, Valora's shoulders barely touching the ground, her hair a golden trail behind her as Lupus' dragged her along the ground. In steel Lupus shackled her captive, crossing it over the rope, and the tape, a combination that would have been absurd overkill for anyone but Valora. Her peach coloured, peach-soft thighs felt too the bite of steel, thick, grey links crushing rapaciously against her curvaceous limbs. Here, Lupus' lack of talent for knots was even less of an issue: when Valora's legs were chained to Lupus' satisfaction, she locked the links in place with a strong, steel padlock.

She let Valora drop again. Her legs, weighed down by the chains, fell like stones with a thick, dull clank as they hit the concrete. But as fast as she'd fallen, she rose again, for Lupus took Valora by the ropes pushing against her bust, and hauled her up to her feet. In fact, she gathered up Valora's long, wavy locks, and held them up, keeping Valora in place by her hair, her shoulders sagging and sinking, her knees bent as her significantly shorter captor tried and failed to hold her at her full height.

But it was enough. With a giggle, Lupus tucked one end of the chain between Valora's breasts, pushed so tightly against each other by the tape and rope around them that they held the chain in place quite effectively. Lupus then curled the other end of the chain around Valora's upper arms, just beneath her exposed, satin-smooth shoulders, pushing and pressing them upward and inward, forcing the proud, wrathful warrior to take on a meek, servile passivity. Lupus curled the chain down, snaking around her torso, clutching and securing and reinforcing her bondage, trapping her breasts from above and below, her shockingly sensual, achingly curvaceous body taped, roped, enmeshed in chain - and completely, utterly captured.

The only thing left for Lupus was to gag her captive, and she had been awaiting the addition of this final insult, this dominating touchstone, since she'd first realised that Valora had fallen to her. Dragging Valora's limp, heavy, helpless body along with her, Lupus scoured about for the cloth she'd used to knock the floppy dame out in the first place. She found it, grabbed it and - perhaps unwisely - sniffed it. It wasn't very pungent, though: much of the chloroform had evaporated off it. So Lupus searched around for the vial marked ChCl3, found it, unstopped it, and poured it onto the cloth. But she was doing this one handed, so she ended up spilling a fair bit of the stuff onto her hand.

"God fucking damn it!" Lupus yelled, glaring accusatorily at Valora, blaming her with complete sincerity for her embarrassment. Pocketing the wet cloth, she took her revenge on Valora by smearing the chloroform onto her skin, rubbing it like massage oil into her heavy, pert breasts, licking her lips as she saw them glisten with moisture, heaving helplessly against the bonds assailing them. Lupus even fancied, wrongly, that rubbing the chloroform into her captive's skin would help to keep her asleep. But even though Charlie was as wrong about this as her mother was wrong about vaccines causing autism, it felt right. It felt right that, by groping and squeezing and kneading Valora's soft, voluptuous breasts, Lupus was making her captive even more powerless. Even softer. Even weaker.

She regained her focus - just about. She took the cloth, forced it again over Valora's ripe, red lips. There was another harsh, tearing buzz as she ripped more tape from her roll, winding it twice around Valora's head, holding the cloth in place and giving Valora a nice, muffling gag to boot. Keep her quiet. Keep her sleepy. So only now, or so thought Lupus, only now was Valora truly vanquished: drugged, tied up, chained up, thoroughly, thoroughly fondled - and now gagged.
"Mmmmmmmmmmmmhhhh," Lupus moaned, tickling Valora's neck, licking her cheek. "You're a fucking damsel, aren't you? Beaten... I beat you... yeah... big nasty villain kicked your perfect ass... and now you're my damsel... in... distressss..." She punctuated the last, serpentine syllable by squeezing Valora's 'perfect ass' with her right hand, and pulling the maiden's curvy body tight against her own. She could hardly believe that Valora had fallen so daintily in her grasp, that everything had gone so perfectly to plan.

Wait. No. Wait a fucking minute and a half, since when was this the plan? This wasn't the plan! The plan wasn't just to tie her up and touch her a bit. This wasn't Seacouver, for God's sake - a superhuman criminal didn't just spend their days browsing the catalogue of new heroines for someone to kidnap to make a name for themselves. She wanted to kill Valora!

Why was that, again? Valora had... well no, Lupus had got herself mixed up with some pretty shady bastards. She'd done something really wicked to the Bombshells, then something even worse to Lance Van der Boek. She'd fled California, a fugitive, her life essentially destroyed by a single failure of self-control. She'd seen Valora on the news, beautiful and celebrated - pushed into the public eye because, irony of ironies, of what Lupus had done to the Bombshells - because Valora's successes in Maine had coincided so perfectly with them. She'd gone from vaguely famous to star more or less overnight - she'd taken what was rightfully Lupus', what she should have had, instead of being kicked out of the Bombshells where this bimbo had taken her place. So she should die! Of course she should die! Lupus needed vengeance against her for taking her spot on the Bombshells because -
Wait, no, hang on a minute, let's try to get this straight. Lupus had left the Bombshells. And then she'd... Valora had left the Bombshells too - and then she'd got famous. So by kicking Lupus out of the Bombshells and then joining and then leaving... and... getting famous... er...
... are we sure about all this?

"Yes!" Lupus yelled, out loud. "Yes we're fucking sure! They kicked me out," she said, even her powers of ego-serving repression struggling to reconcile this blatant falsehood with the facts. "They tricked me into doing... bad shit!" This, admittedly, was partly true, even though Valora had had absolutely nothing to do with it. "She humiliated me! She gets to live her happy, perfect life, and gets to be a big celebrity, while I get thrown in the shit!" In the first instance, she was overstating Valora's fame. In the second instance, she knew exactly dick about Valora's life, about her happiness, or lack thereof, one way or the other. Point of fact, if the fair hero had been awake, and you'd been able to ask her whether her defeat and capture was the worst thing to happen to her that day -
- well, she'd have had to think about it.

Wait, no, yeah! The bounty! The hundred-thousand dollar bounty that this Portland crime boss ("Ha!") had put out on Valora 'cause she was stomping on his operation. At least, Lupus thought it was for a hundred-thousand. That brainless corner-rat she'd robbed for some petty cash - and a few grams of watered down coke - had said as much, anyway.
"Wh - what the hell are you attacking me for? I don't work for Milo Patáky!"
"Who?"
"Patáky, the - aren't you Valora?"
"Valora?! I look like some big-titted, dumb-fuck, stripper-ass blonde to you, dipshit?"
"Y-you're a chick and you're invincible - I figured it was you! I thought maybe 'cause of the bounty you were wearing a disguise or - aaackk!"
"Talk fast. Talk clear. What bounty?"

That was how Lupus remembered it, anyway. In reality the 'corner-rat' had not been quite as snivelling as that, nor had he used the word 'invincible'. Nor had he mentioned Milo Patáky's name outright - Lupus' memory only filled that in now because Valora had mentioned it at the beginning of their fight. Nor, indeed, had Lupus immediately realised that 'the bounty' was something that might have been of interest to her until a couple of minutes after she'd left the guy groaning and cursing with a broken arm, and she'd had to go back and ask him about it.
But - y'know. Whatever. The point was Lupus had a nice, obvious, unambiguous reason to be doing what she was doing. A nice, obvious, unambiguous reason why she didn't have to kill Valora right then and there.

Lupus put her thumb and forefinger around Valora's chin, and pulled the limp maiden to her feet - something that would have been impossible for any other captor, and would have snapped the jawbone of any other captive. Lupus realised that, and she liked it. It was personal. Intimate. What she did next, however - well, that had been done many, many times before.

She put both hands on Valora's trim, waspish waist, stroking it with both thumbs. She let the fullness of her stolen strength flow through her muscles and then lifted the fallen hero up, delighting in how weightless she felt, how light and fragile, in comparison to Lupus' power. And as she'd lifted Valora, so too did she let her fall - right over her shoulder.

"Unhh..." Lupus grunted, as she felt Valora fall soft and heavy against her, the chains making her sink swiftly, and conclusively, all at once. Lupus felt Valora's breasts, big and round and vulnerable, pushing, thrusting against Lupus' back, making each of Valora's breaths an erotic caress. And her legs - her long, womanly, pleasingly thick legs - draped down Valora's front, all tense and taut and tight because of how securely she was tied up. Lupus' fingers clasped around them, squishing and squeezing and stroking Valora's legs, embracing them and just holding them. She'd captured Valora. She'd captured one of the strongest women in the world and now she just had her. She'd wanted her, and she'd taken her, and for all her glory and might, Valora had faded and whimpered and yielded. Lupus let out a high-pitched, cackling yell of mirth - she'd have barked at the moon if that hadn't been a little too on the nose.

Man, fuck subtlety. She did bark at the moon. And you know what she did after that? She grabbed Valora's ass. It was, like, right there in her face, and she wanted to, and she did it. She grabbed her ass, and it was as soft and as juicy as a peach. Okay, not 'juicy', that sounds gross, but you know what the fuck she meant. Valora's backside was, y'know. Hot. To a large extent, even. So -

Man, why are women's bits always getting compared to food, anyway?
'Breasts ripe as melons' or 'meaty thighs' or 'caramel skin' or whatever. Either the entire fucking canon of Western literature has a serious vore fetish or -

What was I talking about?

Oh right. Valora's backside. Round and creamy and pretty. Up in the air for all the world to see, with Valora fallen into her humiliating, supplicating pose, a passive, curvy, busty damsel, all soft and limp and helpless. Lupus sort of squirmed while she held her sensuous captive, as jolts of pleasure surged through her, and as she writhed, she made Valora seem to as well. So Lupus was able - not even half-seriously, but still - to imagine that Valora was wiggling her butt in Lupus' face.
"Naughty girl," Lupus laughed, raising her hand, and giving Valora a loud, hard spank. Her captive's whole body shook, trembled, shockwaves thrumming through her, bow to stern. Shockwaves of a different sort travelled through Lupus, and as she squeezed valora closer she spanked her again and again and again and again, each smack sounding like a shotgun firing. But Lupus almost shouted over the sound of her smacks, crying out with vicious, dominant pleasure, with the mighty Valora as her soft, sweet, helpless little sub.

She didn't want the moment to end. She wanted to hold onto this utter victory, this sense of raw, naked strength for as long as she could. Well, what she really wanted, if she did but know it, was for Valora to wilt, blushing in her arms and whimper: "Oh, Lupus, you're so powerful... you've beaten me utterly... I'm yours to punish however you please..." - or words to that effect. But given the, shall we say, staggering unlikelihood of this coming to pass, Lupus had to satisfy herself with what she'd had. So she turned her eyes to the horizon. It would be many hours before the sun would come up, but in the distance she could see moonlight on the grey sea. For a moment, she felt a glimmer of melancholy, but - not understanding it - she crushed it with another hungry grope of her gorgeous captive.

She had defeated a mighty enemy, an enemy who had thought herself unbeatable until Lupus had taught her otherwise. She had captured Valora, tied her up, and now she'd tossed her voluptuous prize over her shoulder like a conquering, barbarian warlord with a fair, supple princess. And now she was moving up from just defeating the hot, busty superheroine to full-on kidnapping her, to deliver her to Patáky, to complete the catastrophic, humiliating fall of the mighty, beautiful Valora. This was about as good as it was going to get for Lupus, for Charlie Korhonen: supervillain.

And that was the reason for her moment of melancholy. Because this was as good as it was going to get.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

7 months earlier...

Everyone had been looking at Charlie from the moment she'd arrived. She was not, perhaps, the most beautiful woman in California, but she was young, slim, very pretty, and she had electric-blue hair. She was wearing a mini-skirt, fishnets and chunky, black boots. Every man in Jumping Jack's, a dive bar that had about as sterling a reputation for cheer and ambience as Enron did for reliability and fair play, saw Charlie walk in, wiggling her cute little butt very appealingly indeed, and they thought one of two things. The dumber ones thought some variation of "I'd like to stick [x body part of mine] in [y body part of Charlie's]" and felt sure that a smile, an offer of a drink, and possibly fifty bucks or so would ensure this would take place. I mean, being real, why the hell else would a woman who liked that be in a place like Jumping Jack's? Well even the smarter ones didn't know that, but they knew enough to stay away. She was trouble, and not in a film noir "I knew the dame was trouble the first time she walked into my office" sort of way, but in a "she'll lead you out back where gangsters will beat you unconscious and steal your organs" sort of way.

Besides, even the more rapacious of the stupids were warier than one might have expected. Remember where and when they were - this was a world where anyone might turn out to have enough power to rip your head off if you tried something funny. Every other week there were stories about some piece of filth who'd tried to abduct or sexually assault a defenceless looking woman, only for them to melt their attacker's eyes or shatter all their limbs by clapping or, in an incident that would not for some years be connected to the criminal known as Hypnotra, psychically compelling a public flasher to remove the offending organ. With a cheese-knife.

Point of it was, even though plenty of the leered and cheered and whistled and performed all the usual buffoonery that one might expect, no-one actually tried anything, certainly not right away. It was partly because nobody wanted to be the first, and partly because many of the men eyeing Charlie were eyeing each other, and the possibility of people fighting over Charlie did not seem altogether ridiculous. But that didn't happen in the end, because the first guy to try it made sure nobody else wanted to.

His name was Flint. Well, his name was Ryan, but people called him Flint. It wasn't just that it was a tough-sounding name either: it was an honest-to-goodness nickname, earned when he'd ended a fight by blinding someone in both eyes with, you guessed it, a piece of flint. He was a big man. Not muscular, but wiry, tall. Pale brown eyes, sunken and never more than half-open, and thin, almost boyish brown hair. He was probably a psychopath, and definitely a vicious bastard. He was no good at pool, but he never lost a game, if you catch my drift.

He sat down next to Charlie, slapped a twenty-dollar bill down on the bar, and slapped his left hand down onto Charlie's right thigh.
"You got your hand on me there, pal," Charlie said.
"Yyyyeeeahhh," Flint said. "I kinda do, don't I, darlin'?" He didn't exactly affect a Texan accent, but he certainly affected a vaguely cowboyish mien. "I gotta say I don't feel too bad about it, discourteous as it might be."
"Why's that?"
"Well you walk into a place like this dressed like that, I gotta figure you're either a whore, or just a slut. And 'slut' - well that's just a kind word for 'amateur whore', ain't it?"
"Be real with me," Charlie said, turning sharply and suddenly on Flint. "Have you ever actually had sex with anyone? Apart from, like, by getting your first cousin drunk at a family hoe-down or some shit. I mean - Jesus Christ! You're not even, like, that bad-looking. On any other night if you'd fuckin' asked politely I would have considered it but jeeeez. You're just - " Her face flickered, and Flint found himself instinctively recoiling. "You're exactly what I'm looking for."

She turned around, slapping Flint's hand off her leg.
"Hey, you!" she shouted, pointing at the largest man in the room, a heavy-set, hairy troll named Dewey. He'd been one of the only men not even to have momentarily entertained the possibility that Charlie would have any interest in him.
"Who, me?" he said, actually pointing at himself like a cartoon character.
"Yeah you, dipshit. I tell you what: you take that pool cue, you beat the hell out of this motherfucker with it, and I'll suck your dick. Sound like a deal?"
"Wh - lady I -" Dewey waved his hands, looking in fear at Flint, fearing reprisal if he even looked like he was considering doing as he'd been told. He threw the cue down onto the table, completely spoiling the game. He looked, one by one, at every person in the bar. He then turned around, and ran outside.

Flint smiled, sort of. The corners of his mouth certainly turned upwards, but the expression that resulted communicated no joy whatever.
"Babydoll, I don't know what you were trying to pull, but it looks to me like it didn't quite work out as you'd intended. Now I may have a... forceful presence, but I ain't no rapist. You'd told me to take my hand off and asked me to be on my way, well I wouldn't have taken too kindly to it, but I would have left it at that, darlin'. Now you've done tried to persuade a man to assault me, and that I certainly don't take kindly to." He put his hand back on Charlie's thigh, squeezing tighter this time. He was going to say more. Only he didn't, because someone clonked him on the back of the head with a beer bottle.

"Well I'll be damned!" shouted Flint's very, very drunk assailant, staring at his glassy weapon. "Wh - when people do that in the movies... the damn bottle always breaks!" He grinned dumbly at Charlie. "Well, I know I didn't use a pool... uh... stick, but will you still suck my dick, darling?"
Charlie didn't want to answer, and didn't have to. Flint was not that badly hurt, and after he'd got over his surprise he snatched the bottle out of the drunkard's hand, and hit him over the head with it. And when Flint used it, the bottle did break. Enraged, he turned on Charlie with the jagged, broken bottle still clutched in his hand. But she was not cowering. She was standing up, and smiling.
"Oh no!" she said. "This horrible man is trying to attack me! He said he was going to rape me! Someone help!" she said. And then she punched him.

She didn't kill him. She was, actually, trying to be restrained. She'd seen Valora in action, knew that with that kind of strength killing a man would be child's play. But even so, she underestimated herself. She smashed seven of his teeth, left a knuckle shaped dent in his cheekbone and gave him the kind of whiplash you'd get if you were in a car that went from seventy miles an hour to zero in less than a second. Mercifully the blow also knocked him unconscious, but on the way down he managed to crash through a glass table, so his face and his hands were badly cut up. Simply put, Charlie had destroyed him.

She turned to the other patrons, her fists clenched, teeth bared. Wrecking Flint hadn't made her anger die down. It had just made it worse. She wanted more. To hurt more. To break more. She barked at them, expecting to be tossing them left and right when they inevitably charged at her. But this wasn't a movie. It was perfectly obvious to them what Charlie was, and that was something none of them wanted to fuck with. Some made like Dewey and fled, others just put their hands up and moved themselves as much out of what looked likely to be her way as possible.
"Was that it?!" Charlie barked. "One punch? One fucking punch and you all fold?! Fine. FINE!" She stamped her foot, and the whole bar shook, bottles tumbling off the walls, even the brass railing on the bar cracking and warping. She stomped towards the exit, pulling one of the men up to her and then shoving him back aside just because, and walked out.

It was 2.30 A.M when Charlie got back home. It was 3.45 A.M. when the police arrived.

* * *

She hadn't resisted. She did not feel so invincible yet that police officers did not concern her, that hearing her Miranda rights read out to her did not frighten her. Though they'd been exceptionally wary, she had in the end co-operated with them. A superhero, the second man to use the name 'Rampart', had been there too, just in case Charlie had tried anything dangerous or stupid. They'd taken her to their precinct to book her, then almost immediately to a specialised holding facility in the centre of town. The first time Charlie saw her lawyer - state-appointed, natch - she was shackled hand and foot in a personal holding cell with thick, titanium cuffs. She hadn't yet told anyone that she could have snapped them with the merest effort.

Her lawyer made the usual noises, demanding that Charlie be uncuffed, which she was. She sat down across from Charlie. She introduced herself as 'Patricia'. She seemed professional enough. Yeah, she could deal with this garbage, no problem.
"So this is bullshit, right?" Charlie said. There was some fear in her voice, though. "This is because of last night. I was just defending myself!"
"Ms. Korhonen, they've made it pretty clear they intend to charge you formally with battery, and also with G.B.H.."
"Wh -?"
"Grievous b-"
"I know what G.B.H. is!" Charlie shrieked. "But it's bullshit!"
"Ms. Korhonen," her lawyer repeated, trying to impress the seriousness of Charlie's situation onto her. "Charlotte. The man you attacked, Ryan Mapplethorpe... I'm told that he is very unlikely to recover fully from his injuries. They're performing reconstructive surgery on his face, but you maimed him."
"So what? He was a scumbag."
"Please, Charlotte, I would strongly advise against you saying that sort of -"
"He was! Plus, he was like... touching me up. It's self defence. It's bullshit."

Her lawyer checked her notes. "Yes, apparently the police do have a witness statement saying that Mr. Mapplethorpe did put his hand on you, and brandished a broken beer bottle at you."
"There you go then. Let me the fuck outta here." Charlie began smiling, but the black look she got back made that smile fade rather swiftly.
"They also," Patricia said, "have a witness saying that you tried to persuade another patron of the Jumping Jack bar to assault Mr. Mapplethorpe, promising him sexual favours in exchange."
"W- well..."
"Besides which," Patricia said, "it's not going to be difficult to argue, given the level of strength you displayed, that you knew perfectly well that no-one in that bar could possibly have hurt you. Charlotte, you're looking at some fairly serious jail time."

"B... but..." Charlie panted. Her ears were ringing. "Wh - no, hey! I'm - I'm a mimic! I copy other superhumans' powers. The strength - I - I literally only got it yesterday. I - you know - didn't know my own strength."
Patricia tapped the table. "Okay," she said. "Good. That will help some. But we're still looking at years here. If..." She sighed. She could already tell from her client's disposition that they were unlikely to accept the suggestion she was about to make. "If you agree to a plea bargain - and I'm not promising that I can deliver one - but if you and the D.A. agree to a plea bargain, and if Mr. Mapplethorpe doesn't end up seriously disfigured, then maybe we can be talking about two years instead of five."
"Two... two years? Two years of my life in jail?!"
"Charlotte, if this goes before a jury, I can tell you right now they will convict. This might be California, but people always want to come down hard on superhuman violence. I will do my best for you, but you would stand very little chance in open court." Patricia shook her head. She would indeed defend her client, but she had very little sympathy for her, for someone who used their strength like a toy and expected there to be no consequences. "People take very seriously the opening words of the 28th Amendment, Ms. Korhonen: 'With great power - '"
"Get out."
"Ms. -?"
"GET OUT!!" Lupus bellowed, loud enough that Patricia's ears were ringing for several minutes afterwards. She did not need to be told twice.

So Charlie sat there, alone. In her mind she turned over the possibilities: fighting in court, losing, five years in prison, or more. Pleading guilty, two years in prison, at least. Smashing her way out of this facility and going on the run. Forever. She put her head in her hands. She put her head in her hands and she began to cry, hear tears messy and unlovely, her sobs angry and inelegant.
If only Lance hadn't replaced her with Valora!
If only her mother had been less lazy!
If only her grandfather had been nice to her!
If only that man hadn't put his hand on her thigh!

Yes, even in the depths of her despair, Charlie refused pointedly to accept any of the blame herself. It was always, and would always be, other people's fault. She was both the hero of every story, and the victim of every story, and there was nothing that could make her see how foolish she had been. Oh, some part of her knew. An atrophied superego, bullied and shouted down by a thoroughly overactive id, did meekly suggest to Charlie's ego that she might, possibly, perhaps have made certain decisions in, perhaps, maybe just a slightly different way from what she did, perhaps? But Charlie ignored it. Spat at it. And when the policeman walked in, doubtless to formally charge her as Patricia had warned, Charlie was prepared to maintain her defiance.

But it wasn't a policeman. Charlie had only seen him out of the corner of her eye, and he was wearing a uniform, so she'd just assumed. The uniform belonged to the United States Marine Corps.
"Jesus," the marine said, his voice gravelly and contemptuous. "You've been gone one god-damned day, and you've already got yourself into this mess. Un-fucking-believable." He sat down. "Alright, let's get this over with..."
Charlie vaguely recognised him. "Who -"
"Colonel Doyle," he barked back. "And you're Charlie Korhonen. 'Lupus'," he added, actually doing the scare-quotes with his fingers. "I just want you to know, I would much rather be fucking anywhere else right now."
"What's going on?" Charlie asked.
"I'm saving your ass," Doyle said. "Van der Boek insisted. God knows how he has as much pull as he does, but he's got it."
Charlie giggled with glee. "I knew it. I fucking knew it. He wants me. He wants me back. Of course he -"

Doyle grinned. "I don't think you get what's going on here. I'm not bringing you back to Bombshells. They're a motherfucking propaganda exercise, and after this bullshit I don't think we want someone like you anywhere near that."
"What do you want from me, then?"
"The Bombshells are only one of the programs Van der Boek lobbied for," Doyle said. "Thankfully, he managed to convince some of my superiors to do something that might actually be useful." He smirked. "Let me rephrase," Doyle said. "I'm not saving your ass. I'm buying your ass. As in your ass is now the property of the United States Marine Corps."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"You're going to serve your country, Lupus," Doyle said. "And by 'serve your country', what I mean is 'help your country to get better at killing people'." He leaned in. "You ever wear a suit of armour before?"
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

It was nearing four at night. It was cold, and raining. The leaves of tall, dark trees were fluttering with the wind and the water. And a silver hatchback with a forged registration was making a run across the Canadian border, from New Brunswick to Maine, with $560,000 worth of heroin stuffed into hidden compartments in the hatchback's boot. It had been driving for forty-five minutes since its last refuelling, but other than that it hadn't stopped for several hours. There was a woman named Darla inside, a pig-eyed, weak-chinned ruin of a woman who was unlikely to live another fifteen years under the best of circumstances. She was shivering.

She was shivering because she had been driving for so long, because she'd taken two too many caffeine pills to keep herself focused on the long drive. They made her jittery, and they hurt her stomach. She wanted to stop on the side of the road and relieve herself, but she knew she'd be too nervous. She wasn't a novice: she'd been muling for the Clio family for many years. But she'd never had to do it alone before, not for a run of this length. Normally her cousin Jo-Beth would have been there with her as a relief driver, but Jo-Beth was in hospital. So Darla was alone.

Rain thumping quietly, incessantly on the roof and the windshield. Ten feet of visibility in front of her, after which the road vanished into absolute darkness. Darla could barely see the trees, but they pressed in. They threatened. She was in a world that belonged to them, into which the bumpy little road that Darla fearfully clung to was an intrusion. Her very cargo was a threat. Being found with so much heroin would mean decades in prison. If her vehicle should break down, or a tyre were to burst, or if it should skid, or if another motorist hit her, or she hit them, or a taillight broke, or a disreputable policeman tried to harass her, or if she got sick and crashed, or if the Clios' organisation had an informant in its ranks, or she was struck by lightning, or the trees dropped a branch on her, or a deer came out, or anything at all, anything happened, she was finished and finished and finished and she was so tired, so tired and old and creaking and exhausted, so exhausted, she just wanted to close her eyes and sleep and... not... have to...

Darla caught herself in time. But she knew how close she'd come to falling asleep at the wheel, and she shouted in frustration at herself and her circumstances. She was forty-nine: unmarried, childless. She hadn't finished high-school. She had no real skills. Her only value was that she was willing to put herself in danger, and she had with an eight year prison stretch proven that she was willing to take one for the team. The Clio family, committed criminals but not a wholly evil tribe, rather sympathised with Darla. They made sure that they would always give her work when work was to be had. They'd have cast her off without a second thought if she hadn't been useful, but so long as she remained useful they helped her out.

That made it all the stranger that they'd sent poor, unhappy, ugly Darla out into the wilderness by herself. Jo-Beth wasn't always available, so the Clios had given Darla a partner for these long-haul runs every time that had happened, if only to make her pass more convincingly as a tourist. But this time they'd not been able to spare anyone. They hadn't told their peon why, but poor, unhappy, ugly Darla wasn't poor, unhappy, stupid Darla, and she knew that business was bad, and that some of the Clios' men had been killed recently. As far as Darla could remember this had never happened before. The Clios' only real trouble before had been with police, and even that not for a few years. They were well-protected, entrenched, fairly successful. They weren't untouchable - who was? - but who would want to touch them? There were easier, more lucrative targets.

This was all beyond Darla's ken. All she had to do was drive through the dark, through the cold and the haze, and bring the cargo where it was meant to go. Thankfully for her nerves, Darla didn't have to bring the payment back. She'd spend a night-and-a-day in the town of Houlton in a hotel, all expenses paid, as a bonus for her services, and then she'd return to Moncton. Including the value of the hotel stay, minus fuel expenses, this trip would net her about eighteen-hundred Canadian dollars. That bright spot in a truly miserable experience was the only thing keeping Darla from just letting herself crash.

After another hour and a half the country roads become so ill-maintained and poorly mapped that Darla had to risk the highway. In a way it was a relief: she could go faster much more safely; the roads were wide and almost empty at the leaden hour; and the roads were well lit enough that she didn't have to rely on the frightening cross-sections of safety created by her high beams. But she felt the veins in her neck throbbing, felt her grizzled toes curling in her cheap, worn shoes. For the roads were not completely empty, and when a police cruiser happened to trundle past her, bearing two unhappy troopers even more tired than Darla, she actually began to cry. But the cruiser left Darla be, and her nerves stopped trying to squirm out of her body, and 'ere long she was within sight of the American border.

The border station was a dull, concrete edifice that slotted right across the highway, like a handcuff. One lane going into America, into Maine, and one coming out. There was more traffic coming out, but little even of that. It was easy, therefore, for Darla to put herself in the second lane. In all likelihood she could have chosen either and have been perfectly safe, but the Clios didn't like there to be any risk where risk could be avoided. Darla recognised, therefore, the man sitting in the small, fluorescently lit booth, waiting to check her passport. His name was Timmy Butterman, and he had long been in the employ of the Clio family.
"Evening, ma'am," he said as Darla rolled up her car and rolled down her window, pretending not to recognise her.
"Evening," she replied. She handed her passport over. It was quite new, only about a year and a half old, but it was well worn. The Clios kept Darla very busy.

Timmy checked it over. He looked down at the passport, back at Darla. Back at the passport again, back at Darla again. She tapped her fingertips on her steering wheel. Timmy frowned.
"Are you visiting th'United States f'r'business 'r pleasure?" he asked. His voice was dull, like he was just too lazy to enunciate properly.
"Pleasure," Darla replied.
"Yeah?" He bit into a chocolate muffin. He had a whole box of them on the table next to him. "Whd shhpshhfkklhh?"
"...huh?"
"Shhrry." He chewed for a bit. "Sorry. What spe-ci-fi-cal-ly?"
Timmy's inquisitiveness surprised Darla. Normally she'd have been waved through by now. "Uh, I'm... I'm visiting my cousin. She lives in Augusta."
"Uh-huh." Timmy pretended to write something down. Then he picked up the phone on his desk, mumbled something.
Darla noticed a green light over Timmy's head. Or rather she noticed it by its absence, when it switched to red. Timmy had just closed the lane.
"Ma'am," he said, unaware that he might as well have been shocking Darla with a defibrillator for all the strain he was putting on her heart, "I'm gonna need you t'step outta th'car."

Now trembling quite visibly, with sweat pouring from every orifice, Darla did as she was told. A second man was waiting to take her by the arm, leading her away from her incriminating cargo. She took small, heavy steps on thin, flat shoes. Because she was so short, even though she was quite overweight, she had a dinky quality. She was something like a pudgy ornament bought by a not-too-discerning grandmother, who found the object's ugliness to be somehow cute. Well. A pudgy ornament that muled heroin, anyway.

She was led to the rather dinky, faux-Victorian inspection station, built long before the concrete slabs that made the actual crossing. It was brightly, but unpleasantly lit. The floor was tiled, and Darla's flat feet made loud, echoing slaps against them. It wasn't a very attractive place, but it was obviously meant to be occupied, busy. In the middle of the night, almost empty, it was distinctly eerie.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Don't ask questions," the man replied, in a Midwestern accent. It was only now that Darla realised he was not a policeman, or a security guard. He was tall, dark-skinned, wearing a tie under a canvas jacket, and a pair of dark glasses. He was young, fit and extremely good looking. In no way did this disguise that he was an extremely dangerous man.

He brought Darla, not to an interrogation room, but to an office, well-furnished enough that it probably belonged to the station manager. The handsome man did not need to force her physically into the manager's chair, but had she resisted even slightly she knew he would have.
"Wait here," he said, and walked out.

Darla waited in absolute silence, frozen with fear. They hadn't even searched her car. She had no outstanding warrants. Why had they pulled her aside.
"Oh god," she thought. The trouble the Clios had been having. Their men being killed. Obviously they had a rival. An enemy. Did that enemy's tendrils reach all the way here? Was she going to be killed? She didn't know what to do. She shook her head, denying and refusing and pretending that she wasn't petrified with fright. So rigid were her muscles, in fact, that she was almost struggling to breathe.

But her silent terror had its advantages. She heard someone else arriving. She then could hear quiet talking outside.
"You seem concerned, John." This was not the first man's voice - it was much higher pitched, more wispy, and the accent was different. Obviously 'John' was the handsome man who'd pulled her in.
"I am," John said. "You being here yourself - it's an unnecessary risk."
The second man laughed lightly, even fondly. "None of this is necessary."
"Hrmm," John grumbled, almost under his breath.
"Don't fret," the second man said. "Won't be a minute." Saying this, he opened the door to the office.

"Hello," he said to Darla as he entered. He was small, mousy, very thin. He was in a thick coat, and a big hat, and he looked a little ridiculous. But he seemed so easy, so unafraid, and being where she was Darla found that frightening. He sat down across from her, as though this was her office and he was a client, or he was being given a talking-to by the boss, or something. "My name is Milo," he said. He smiled, or at least that's what Darla guessed he was likely to be doing. It looked almost painful to him. "And you are?" he said, seeming amused that Darla was still frozen with fear.
"D-aa..." she stammered. She swallowed. "Darla."
"That's a very attractive name," Milo said, showing his teeth. "It doesn't suit you," he added, darkly. His eyes twitched. No, not a twitch, exactly: it had been a voluntary movement, but one whose meaning Darla didn't understand. He made a throaty, grumbling sound which took a moment for Darla to identify as a laugh.

"Mister," Darla dared, "what am I -" She couldn't continue. For the first time, Milo was meeting her eyes. His countenance wasn't overtly threatening, but - but, he didn't blink. At all. She knew he didn't want her to speak, so she couldn't.
Milo took out a cigarette. He put it in his mouth, but didn't light it.
"I only started smoking recently," he said. "I used to be so frightened of it!" He took out a match, lit it, but didn't light his cigarette. "My father smoked... oh, a pack a day? Maybe a little less afterwards. After the cancer, I mean." He smiled. "Years it took him to beat it, and it was, ah, something of a Pyrrhic victory." His lips squirmed around the cigarette. The match kept burning. "Big man. Played football. Almost professional." The flame of the match was almost at his fingers. "Very handsome. Very strong. But then, alas, the sickness. And after that... he looked even uglier than you." He flicked the match at Darla. It hit her in the chest, and she squealed, brushing it off her and swatting feebly at it until it was extinguished.

"The funny thing is," Milo said, lighting another match, "now I don't care. I don't care about the risks to my health. I don't care about the bad breath or the yellow teeth. I don't care, in fact, about anything - except the fact that I want to smoke." He brought the match to the cigarette, at last, puffed on it hungrily. "And now that we're on the subject of what I want - finally we come to you."
"You... want me?"
Milo burst out laughing. "Darla, for God's sake," he said between high-pitched, ugly sputters of mirth, "you'll make me choke!" He wafted some of the smoke away from himself. "I don't think anyone has wanted you for a very long time. Have they?" He took another drag, keeping his gaze on her. "Answer please," he said, and Darla felt compelled to obey.
"No, sir," she said. She felt like crying.
"No, sir," Milo repeated. "Don't feel bad, Darla. I'm hardly likely to be winning any beauty contests myself." He didn't sound very sympathetic. "The point is - I want what you have. And I'm not just talking about the large quantity of heroin in your car."
Darla squeaked with fright.
"I mean, I'll take that, of course. Waste not, uh..." He waved his hand. "You know."

He leaned back in the chair. He heard something snap, swearing loudly and sitting bolt upright. "I'm fine!" he shouted, seeing that John had moved towards the door to the office. He grumbled irritably, looking over his chair suspiciously, and finally just getting up, getting another chair, moving the original aside, and falling into the replacement with a heavy thump.
"Bloody thing," he said. "What was I saying?"
"What you want from me," Darla answered. There was something strange about him, something that would have put Darla ill-at-ease even under quite neutral circumstances. There was a falseness, a performative quality in his words and his actions. It wasn't exactly that Darla thought he was acting, but there was... whenever he did anything, she felt something else lurking underneath. Yes, he was small, and thin, and a little ridiculous with his twitching and grumbling and his thick, too-large coat. But he was bitterly dangerous. She could sense it.

"Ah yes," Milo said. "What I want." He tapped the table. "I've... encountered an obstacle recently. Something that has made my usual modus operandi less lucrative than usual. I want this obstacle eliminated, but that's not all I want. I want to be less vulnerable. I want to... diversify. I want complete control of the drug trade to, from, and in the state of Maine. I'd rather like to make inroads into New Brunswick as well, but the Clios are... " He licked his lips. "They are another obstacle. So!" He leaned forward. "You're going to do something for me, Darla. You're going to go back to the Clios. You're going to tell them about our little meeting. You're going to tell them that nothing - nothing - crosses the border into my territory without a nice fat cut going into my bony little fingers. You're going to tell him that if he has a problem with this, he will -"

And then Milo sort of spasmed. His fingers tensed painfully, like they were cramping. He closed his eyes, and pressed his hands against his forehead, and slowly, with great effort of will, relaxed them.
"Tell him," Milo repeated, "that if he does not like it, he can ask James Oleander what happens when you get on my bad side. Doubtless that name means nothing to you - but it will mean something to them." He took Darla's hand, took his cigarette out of his mouth, and pressed it into her palm. She yelped, expecting pain, but he'd done it filter first. She pulled her hand away, for Milo's grip was not all that strong, and stood up.
"Mister, what do you think the Clios are gonna do to me if they find out I betrayed them?"
"Don't be dramatic," Milo said. "You're just delivering a message."
"Why me? Why not just tell them yourself, or - or send one of your guys?"
Milo stood up as well. His coat didn't sit right, so he had to tug it down to stop it bunching up under his armpits. "Because I've frightened the wits out of you, Darla. Such wits as there were, anyway. I want the Clios to see that. It will help them to understand, I think." He began to move towards the door. "Your car, somewhat lightened, will be waiting for you." He took out another cigarette. "Go home, Darla. And, if I were you, I'd find another job."
He left, closing the door quietly behind him. The room smelled faintly of urine.

* * *
The journey back to Portland was easy enough. Milo's car was well heated, and Milo himself slept for most of the journey. Even John caught a few z's when he thought he could get away with it. He woke about a minute before they reached Portland's city limits, and found Milo was already awake.
"Sorry," John mumbled, slightly embarrassed.
"Don't be," Milo replied, brushing the matter aside with a wave of his hand. "Eternal vigilance is for democracies, not gangsters, eh?"
It was such a strange turn of phrase that John couldn't help being amused.

"You know," Milo said, "I never set out to be a gangster. Inherited a betting shop. Sold that, moved up to a little casino. Sold that, moved up to a big one. And then somewhere along the line I ran into a fellow with a connection to Paraguayan cocaine burning a hole in his pocket and the next thing I knew... " He smiled, twirled his fingers with a little flourish. "Crime lord." He shook his head. "It's remarkable, isn't it, John? How people's lives just get... swept up in these strange currents. Why do we do it?"
"Money," John said. "Being a gangster's just a way of getting money. I never thought anyone saw it any other way."
"Maybe," Milo replied. He smiled, rather wickedly, and pointed his finger at his employee. "And yet!" His grey eyes flashed. "What I did this evening. Scaring the wits out of that poor woman myself, when I could have left any one of you to do it. Foolish, yes? Please answer honestly."
"Not sure if I'd call it 'foolish', but I wouldn't have called it 'sensible'," John answered.
"But you like that I did it. It's the sort of thing a character from - oh, I don't know, The Godfather would have done. It was gangsterish. I'll wager you've more respect for me more now than you did before."
John searched his mind. He discovered that Milo was right.
"There we are. It's not just about money, is it?" Milo grinned. "You see - you see John - you see I'm beginning to find all this rather fun." There was something giddy about him as he said this. That vague, scarcely conscious unease John felt towards his employer was beginning to rise closer to the surface of his mind.

The two did not exchange words after that. Milo sensed that he had put John ill-at-ease, and didn't want to make him any more uncomfortable. Indeed, he felt a sudden bile rising in his throat, burning at him, scouring. Old fears and new creeping, squirming into the folds of his brain again. But he still held it at a distance. Still kept that yawning barrier between himself and the shrieking ugliness that gestated within. Still floated on the surface of himself, like a water boatman, for whom the slightest change in pressure, the slightest mistake, could send him tumbling down into the dank and the muck.

The new silence was broken by the buzzing of John's cellphone.
"Yeah?" he answered. His expression was as it always was: steely, stern, thoughtful. He talked quietly to the peon on the other end of the line. His voice had a rich, almost sonorous depth. It was pleasant to listen to, regardless of what he was saying. With that, and with the soft sounds of the car's engine, and the lateness of the hour, Milo almost found himself drifting back off to sleep. And he would have, if Milo hadn't turned his head to address him directly.
"Sir," he said, "that was Devon Brook."
"I'm sorry," Milo said, blinking the sleep out of his eyes. "Who's that?"
"My number two, back from when I worked for Novak. When I put out the word about a bounty, I did it through him."
"Oh?"
"Well..." He gave a confused sort of smile, like he couldn't believe it himself. "Sir, someone... got Valora."
Milo sat up.
"Oh," he said. He clicked his tongue. He put his hand over his mouth. It was the best single piece of good news he'd heard - maybe ever.

He felt sick.

Hello readers! Many thanks for keeping up with this little novella I've committed myself to writing. Would be super, super appreciated if I could get some feedback.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

DrMabuse
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by DrMabuse »

I am really loving this story so far. I've been a fan of the Enhancegirl-verse generally, but Valora's probably my favorite of the heroines and this story has been the best one so far, IMO. Thanks for keeping it up.

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by CJS »

I’ll second that this is a great story, at least as far as I’ve gotten so far. I got to it late, and wanted to wait to comment until I was caught up, but I feel that praise is due. I’ve said before that Damselbinder is the master at descriptive characters and locales. Not only does it pull the reader into the story, but I feel like I learn a bit about writing just by reading.
My stories:
Sapphire Angel - Beginnings
Sapphire Angel - Power Play

Sapphire Angel website (download Beginnings in PDF, Kindle, and ePub)

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

I am really loving this story so far. I've been a fan of the Enhancegirl-verse generally, but Valora's probably my favorite of the heroines and this story has been the best one so far, IMO. Thanks for keeping it up.
Thank you very, very much! It's gratifying as heck to hear that.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

I’ll second that this is a great story, at least as far as I’ve gotten so far. I got to it late, and wanted to wait to comment until I was caught up, but I feel that praise is due. I’ve said before that Damselbinder is the master at descriptive characters and locales. Not only does it pull the reader into the story, but I feel like I learn a bit about writing just by reading.
Those are very kind words, CJS.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

I mean, what did Charlie expect? Of course they were going to pick some dingy, abandoned building. It was either that or meet out in the middle of, like, the woods. Cliché was fine if it made sense. They didn't want people to, y'know, see them. They didn't want to be interrupted. In fact, you know what really pissed Lupus off? It was when some snarkier-than-thou, too-cool-for-school pedant would be all: "Ugh - what a cliché!" as if, like, just acknowledging that made you somehow smarter or better than everyone else. In no way was Lupus' ire because she'd once made a remark like this herself at fifteen, been given a thorough, humiliating dressing down by a smarter friend whose patience for Charlie had finally run out. In no way had she straightforwardly reversed this exchange in her memory just to make herself feel better.

As Charlie entered the foul-smelling, dingy, rotting, damp, mould-infested, ugly, grey, generally shitty little building, she felt a jolt of childish fear. There was something in the way that guy had spoken to her - that guy who had, like, a county for name or something - he was - he was serious. He was a real gangster, you know? He was - he was unimpressed by her. He sounded calloused. He sounded like he was not, like her, relatively new to violence. She couldn't imagine that his superior, with whom she was meeting now, would be any less dangerous. She tried to remind herself how invincible she was. She tried to remind herself that this organisation had been helpless against Valora - Valora whom Charlie had overpowered and captured. But she still felt frightened. She still had Valora, limp and vanquished, over her shoulder and Charlie pressed her cheek against her lovely thigh. She'd had a sudden need to feel something warm, and soft.
"Mhh... mhh..." came the soft little whimper from behind a thick, drug-soaked gag. Valora's legs gave a little wiggle. For a moment Charlie was afraid she'd stirred her captive - but no. She might have been poking her head from under the blanket of sleep, but it still enmeshed her quite thoroughly.

In fact it was for the best that Charlie had touched her captive: she'd reminded herself her face was uncovered. She'd pinched a motorcycle helmet to replace the one she'd discarded in her battle with Valora, and she stuffed her head into it. It smelled of varnish, and it squeaked when she lowered the visor. She hated fighting with a helmet on. When Captain Doyle had given her her armoursuit for the first time she'd felt a new sympathy for the poor bastards doing the stunts on Power Rangers. Power Rangers. Jesus. A world of real life superheroes and the little kiddies still tune in every Saturday morning to watch brain-dead American actors dubbing awkwardly over Japanese stock footage. Why would any child - oh, no wait, they have the big robots don't they? Okay, fine, those are fun. Fair enough, kids. We don't have those in real life yet. So -

Oh Jesus, they were there already.

Three men. One kinda fat with a big shotgun. One with a beer belly but muscly arms, holding a pistol. Another guy behind them, in a jacket and tie, not holding a weapon but -
"But oh my fucking god," Charlie whispered to herself. The third guy was obscenely hot. Tall, square-jawed, with the figure of a quarterback. A hot quarterback, not a chunky-rhino quarterback.
"Who's there?" the quarterback said. He obviously couldn't see Charlie clearly. She grinned. The feeling of her invulnerability surged back into her, and with a cocky smile - albeit one the men couldn't see - she strode out into the light.

"Morning, fuckos!" Charlie - that is, Lupus - called out. "Hey check it out: I did your job for you." Into their view she emerged, and into their view she brought her prize.
"No way," one of them muttered. The newcomer had not arrived empty-handed. There was a woman over her shoulder, covered from head to waist in thick, brown sack. Emerging from it a pair of long, womanly, curvy legs in satin tights and red boots. Bound. John had never encountered Valora before, but the two men in front of him had. They had seen her fight, seen how powerful she was. It seemed unbelievable that she could have been bested, much less captured. But they kept their wits about them. John had warned them that it could be a trick: that allowing an ally to pretend to deliver her would be a good way for Valora to get her mitts on some more high-ranking members of Mr. Patáky's organisation.

But for all their steely professionalism, Lupus could see that they were leering. Leering at Valora's perfect, round ass, sticking up in the air like she was assuming the fucking position. Wanting to grab her for themselves. And envious of her, and cowed by her, and amazed that she was the one to get her claws into Valora's pretty flesh while they had failed. Wondering who she was and what she was, that she'd taken one of the most powerful and beautiful superhumans alive, and knocked her out, tied her up and stuffed her in a sack. In no way were they just surprised, nervous, and a bit sceptical.

Oh yes. The sack. Could you blame her? Even someone who was not such a shriekingly insistent narcissist as Lupus might well have tasted sufficiently sour grapes to want to inflict the worst humiliation of their life on someone else. For in another life, in another world, Lupus had been ambushed and captured, and stuffed in a sack and thrown on a pile with two other helpless young damsels, and had been delivered from bondage by none other than Valora herself. Bet she thought this would never happen to her. Bet she thought that Lupus and Cecily and Freebird and the other one were incompetent, powerless fools. Well who was the fool now? Blanked out and anonymised and reduced, down down down to nothing but 'captive'. Who was incompetent and powerless now? Huh?

"You.

Not me. Never me.

You. You, you bitch, you! I win. I win! I win I win I win! Fuck you - FUCK YOU, I WIN!"

L-look -

Look, the point was, Valora was stuffed into a sack, all covered up except for her pretty legs and her pretty ass, and the gangsters were staring and Lupus was on top of the fucking world.
"Lady - " the handsome guy began to say, but Lupus shouted over him.
"'Oh, who's this asshole', right?" she said, in the doofiest voice she could put on. "'How do we even know that's Valora in the bag?' Well, dipshit - sorry, dipshits - here's how you know."
With the merest of efforts, with a fraction of her stolen strength that would be measured in the pico-something-or-others, pulled Valora off her shoulder. Lupus held her captive by the back of the neck at her full height. And then, like a child demanding applause for mastering the simplest of magic tricks, she pulled the sack off Valora's head.

The two armed man gaped, and laughed in pure astonishment at the sight of their tormentor laid low. John could not help but react as well, struck not only with the surprise of seeing a famous hero captive, bound and unmasked, but with the staggering loveliness of the helpless young woman unveiled before him. John was grim, curt and easy with violence, but there was a depth in him somewhere that your average gangster - your average person - lacked. He didn't just see a hot blonde he wanted to stick a bit of himself in. He understood now why the men spoke of her in such hushed, fearful tones. Even captive there was a grandeur to her. Seeing her unmasked, with her shoulders bared - it was like seeing an angel uncloaked. John got a sudden sense of - well, he wasn't sure. He couldn't articulate it. It was something to do with the colour of. The deep blue of her clothes, the sharp red of her boots and her gloves, the soft gold of her hair - they made him feel uncomfortable. That there were worlds outside the grubby, dirty, bloody one in which he lived, worlds into which he could never step. Valora's beauty was grotesque: it and she came from a reality so different to his that - it was like a painting done in two completely different styles on one canvas. It hurt the eyes. She was tied up, drugged, and helpless - and he was afraid of her.

Even Lupus, standing behind the unveiled damsel, felt giddy at the theatricality of her little prestige. Felt a surge of renewed lust as she saw Valora's golden locks tumbling down her back, saw from behind her captive's arms bound, chain and rope squishing and squeezing into her, showing the world just how soft she was. Or showing a bunch of gangsters, anyway.
"Here," she said. "She's all yours." She held Valora by her bound arms, and tossed her underhand towards the three men. The diamond hard bone beneath her supple flesh meant that she bounced a little when she hit the ground, tumbling and rolling, so fast that John's subordinates had to move out of the way to avoid getting knocked over. Only John stood his ground, and for the low, low cost of a bump to the shins, he was rewarded by having Valora lying flat on her back, limp and defenceless at his feet. Her red mouth was open. Her shoulders, chest, the upper parts of her breasts, were uncovered. She was breathing slowly and heavily. The other two stared down at her and were practically licking their lips, but John found the whole thing disturbing. He moved a step away.

"How did you beat her?" the heavier of John's two subordinates asked.
Lupus shrugged. "I was stronger. What?!" she added, when she saw the surprise on the men's faces. "Is that so unbelievable? Just because I'm not dressing in a - a fucking bikini and selling out for the fucking cameras, what, that means I can't be seriously powerful? Here!" She hissed, and surged forward. Before her target, the thick set gangster, could even think of firing his shotgun Lupus had snatched it out of his hand and torn it in two - that is, sticking her fingers into the barrel, and tearing it open like she was peeling a banana. She dropped the two halves of the shotgun on the ground, then petulantly shoved its former wielder onto his ass.

"Hey!" John barked, drawing his own weapon, training it swiftly on Valora's masked abductor. "What's the matter with you?"
"Don't be an asshole. That was just... my resume!" Lupus laughed. "You had to know I was legit, right?"
"Lady, I -" Again John had that weird, otherworldly feeling. He didn't belong here - or she didn't belong here, this strange, childish superhuman. "You delivered. We'll pay. This don't need to get complicated." He motioned to his other subordinate. "Boston, pay the woman." He'd kept his cool, but he was by no means in love with the idea of starting a conflict with someone powerful enough to beat Valora one-on-one.

As John's underling went to fetch The Big Briefcase, John himself turned back to Charlie. Holding up his hand in a conciliatory gesture, he asked: "What do I call you? You have, like, a pseudonym, or a codename or something that you use?"
"Lu - " Charlie only barely caught herself. Lupus was a codename, but it was still known to the authorities - authorities who still wanted her for the murder of Lance Van der Boek. There was no reason to make life any more difficult for herself than was absolutely necessary. A memory briefly shot to the front of her consciousness, of her father's mother trying to teach her a little of the mother tongue back when she was a kid. She hadn't had the patience or the interest, but a couple of things had stuck. "Varg," she said. "Call me Varg."
"Varg. Fine." John rubbed his eyes. God, this was weird! Secret names and capturing people and mysterious mercenaries in masks - this shit was not normal for the life of a mid-level coke dealer in Portland. He'd still maintain that Milo had been right to put out feelers for a superhuman mercenary - I mean, obviously he would, since it had clearly worked - but the point was that he was now beginning to understand why Milo's reservations had been so hard to budge. With Valora at his feet and 'Varg' in his face, John felt as though he had lost the capacity to predict what would happen in his future, to even the slightest extent.

But for the moment things remained sane. Boston returned with The Big Briefcase, handed it to John.
"$200,000 dollars, Ms. - uh, Varg," John said.
"Open it," Charlie demanded.
John did so, though he didn't understand what she thought they could have inside a briefcase that would be any threat to someone who could beat Valora in a one on one fight but - oh no, wait. He'd forgotten what world he was in again. He could have concealed some weird, magical radiation or a big jet of sleeping gas or something. Like a Bond movie. Like a cartoon. It made his head hurt.
"All good?" asked John.
"Looks like it," grumbled Charlie.
"No," said Milo Patáky.

Charlie jumped back like a startled cat, hissing, twisting her head back and forth, trying to see where this fourth voice had come from. The motorcycle helmet didn't help matters, and when she finally did see Milo Patáky, it was only because a little orange light flickered up in the darkness where he lurked, as he lit himself another cigarette.
"Who the hell are you?" Charlie shouted.
Milo didn't answer. He walked forward into such light as there was, all five-and-three-quarter feet of him. He wasn't physically impressive. He wasn't handsome. He only looked like someone vaguely important because he was wearing much more expensive clothing than everyone else, though it didn't help his looks that much. Still, from the way the others reacted nervously to him, Charlie knew at once that he was the man in charge. The handsome one looked like he wanted to say something, even like he was annoyed with his boss, but boss he must have been because he kept his objection to himself.

He walked up, with an awkward, shuffling gait, to where Valora lay. He leaned over. That is, he actually bent double at the waist, peering down at her like he was looking through a microscope. The corners of his mouth squirmed, like he wasn't sure whether he was smiling or scowling. He stood straight. He took another few steps, so that he was the one standing nearest to 'Varg'. John didn't like this one bit, and tried to move between his boss and this strange woman, but without looking Milo raised an arm to check him.
"Madam," Milo said, "I wish to register a complaint."

She would have laughed. She did actually laugh, a little, but without any sincere humour. She certainly felt as if this greasy, ugly little man deserved to be laughed at. But she couldn't quite bring herself to do it. Was it the fact that he hadn't seemed even slightly impressed by having Valora bound at his feet? She'd seemed like an object to him, not in an "ahahaha, my pretty you are now my prize!" sort of way, but in a "that's a pebble over there" sort of way. Was it the fact that he didn't seem afraid of her? He wasn't a macho man, not a tough, so it wasn't like he was trying to prove what a badass he was - he just wasn't intimidated. What, then?

"Unless," Milo said, "I've got my wires very crossed, I asked for Valora to be murdered. You know. Assassinated. Rubbed out. Eliminated. Executed. Finished. Done. Kaput. Killed. To death." He rubbed his eyes. "Yes, it's all very dramatic, bringing in the - the pretty superhero the way you did. We're all very impressed. You even pulled her mask off!" He applauded, loudly, and stopped abruptly after four. "Bravo! What a victory. Such domination. Such - " He seemed to grow tired of his own mocking. "Look, it's not as if I'm ungrateful. I'm sure that my men appreciate what you've done for them very much. That sight of the large-bosomed damsel all - you know, inconvenienced, will - will burn in their memories for a long time. They'll all go home and - and masturbate vigorously, I'm sure. But madam, as pleasant as all this is, I am not a supervillain. I am not planning world domination. I am small, and I am feeble, and all I want is for my little, grey corner of the world to be... set to rights. And as long as she still breathes - and I would once again point out as emphatically as I can that she does - it will not be set to rights. So... could you please finish the job you're being paid for before we pay you?" He gestured at Valora, and while his hand movement was too vague to tell for sure, he meant to gesture at her neck.
"Wh - "
"Yes," Milo said. "Now, please."
Charlie found herself backing away from the feeble little man. "Wh - do it yourself! She's helpless, isn't she? Fuck me, I thought I'd get more for bringing her in alive," she grumbled. "Do whatever you want with her."
"Alright," Milo said, before drawing a knife and, with a sudden fury, stabbing down onto Valora's helpless body.

A couple of things happened when Milo did this. The first was that Valora was completely unharmed. Secondly, and relatedly, Milo's wrists smarted like hell, as every joule of energy he'd expended on trying to stab Valora bounced right back at him. As well, John Mann hissed in pain, and touched his cheek to find a thin cut: the tip of Milo's knife had snapped off, shot off at high speed, and almost taken John's bloody eye out.
"You see," Milo said, "not being able to 'do it myself' was sort of the point of hiring a superhuman mercenary in the first -" He stopped. He couldn't help himself. In fact, he forgot entirely what he was going to say, because Valora had just opened her eyes.

It was not for long. Had it not been for the jolt of Milo's knife, she wouldn't have stirred at all. It was enough, though, for Valerie to feel that she was bound, that her body was too weak to move. Only enough for her to feel rope and chain seizing and trapping her sumptuous curves, to realise that she was lying flat on her back, and there were people standing around her.
"My... captors..." She couldn't yet summon enough mental fortitude to remember anything more specific than that. Just that she'd been beaten. She'd been taken. And now, clearly, she'd been delivered. Men loomed over her, and Valerie had a sudden, threatening sense of her own beauty. All those criminals and gangsters and 'villains' she'd crushed beneath her boot heel - how many of them had longed to do this? To capture her? To take their voluptuous tormentor and throw her down, bind her, make her weak - and do whatever they wanted with her? She looked up. And, though the two had sort of met once before, for the first time Valerie Orville and Milo Patáky locked eyes.

Each got only a glimpse of the other. Valerie's gag was still soaked in chloroform, and she couldn't resist its pull for long. With a stifled, helpless sigh and a subtle heave of her bosom, she gave in again, her eyelids blinking and fluttering as her eyes rolled slowly back, the defeated champion fading back into deep, drugged sleep. But she'd seen Patáky, seen him for long enough to recognise him, to realise that she'd fallen into her enemy's clutches, long enough for a well of hatred and disdain to bubble up within her. Enough that, for an instant, it came through in her expression.
Milo saw it. Saw her. Felt an irritating, unhelpful, animal attraction to her body, but brushed it aside easily. What he could not brush aside so easily was the hatred. Hers for him and vice versa, bubbling like tar in the pit of his stomach. Something about her made him feel small - and not just her glamour and beauty, but that look! That withering confirmation of everything he believed about himself, spitting at him; pissing on the floor and then rubbing his face in the filth. Hate, hate, hate he felt for her! But why? Why so much? Why so violent? It wasn't just that she was his enemy. It wasn't just that she had been drawing the attention of the police to him and violently disrupting his operations. It was - no, it was more personal than that.
"It's that," Milo realised, "if it hadn't been for her, if she hadn't rescued that journalist - I wouldn't have had to kill James."

Suddenly he was back to his old self. Back to the terror, and the snivelling, and the fear. Shrieking with rage and terror, petrified of the physical danger presented by Valora and Varg, he stumbled backwards, cowering behind John, and reflexively reaching for his inhaler. But it passed quickly. Thinking of James had pulled him out of his dissociation, but thinking of his death - of the blood and the bone and the gore - pushed him right back into it.
"Ha!" he laughed. "Sorry about that. Thought she was waking up, you see. Didn't want to get my head ripped off, eh?" He patted John on the shoulder. "Not that you'd have fared much better if she had, I suppose."

Beneath her helmet Charlie's expression was a mixture of amused, bemused and just plain impatient. She wasn't stupid: she didn't want to burn bridges unnecessarily, nor to make a potentially dangerous enemy. But she was getting to the point where she was just going to stroll over and take the fucking briefcase because god damn this guy was weird, and annoying, and boring.
"Hey," she said, "you know if I really wanted to I could just take that money right god damn now. There's not a thing you could do about it, understand?"
"Okay," Milo replied. "Give it to her."
"Sir?" John was a bit bewildered by this back and forth. Was Milo joking?
"I mean, she's right, isn't she? Give her the money. We'll kill Valora ourselves. Go on, hand it over!"
Confused, John nevertheless obeyed, and offered the briefcase of cash to Charlie, who snatched it out of his hands.
"Fucking finally, geez!"

Charlie pulled the briefcase away, turning her back as if to hide it from the others. It was obvious that she had a potential for volatility, so John made sure to keep her in view, but nevertheless turned his attention to his boss. He looked different. Jittery. Twitchy.
"Mr Patáky," John said, quietly. "Are you okay?"
"Fine," he said, quickly. "Let's just get out of here. I shouldn't... shouldn't have fussed," he muttered. "We've got what we want. It's alright, it's alright, it's alright..." he muttered, as he slunk back into the shadows. John watched him, heard him, and wondered what the hell just what the hell was going on in the mind of Milo Patáky.

Charlie rifled greedily through the monies to make sure she hadn't been cheated. It was all there. Excitedly she began to think of what she could do with it. She still had much of what she'd taken from Van der Boek, and added to this... maybe she could go to South America or something. How long would 240,000 dollars last her? A few years, definitely. Enough for the heat to die down from Van der Boek's murder, anyway. So, relatively speaking, things were looking alright for her. She almost felt like smiling. And it was all thanks to Valora! She'd come up to Portland for a bit of personal revenge, and she'd walked away rich. In a word: result.

The satisfaction of avarice was a nice, easy, simple sensation for Charlie to focus on. It occupied the vast majority of her thought, so that she barely noticed the brief, terse conversation held by Milo and John. One of them said something about breathing, the other about choking, then smothering. Then 'drowning'. Still, Charlie paid little attention. They no longer had anything to give her, so she tuned them out. She only took a closer look when she saw John holstering his weapon, and bending down to pick up Valora's slumbering body.

"Jesus Christ," John grunted. He was a strong, well-built man, and he hadn't anticipated any difficulty picking Valora up, even with the chains wrapped around her. But she was heavier than she looked, and he struggled a little. One hand clasped the hero's thighs, soft and curvy, thinly encased in satin; his other hand took her moist, smooth, naked shoulders. Grunting, he tried to lift her, and he did not wholly succeed. But her limp body shifted about in his grasp, her head moving sinuously to and fro as her shoulders and neck were lifted, jostled and dropped; her hips, too, shuffled slowly up and down as her long legs were pulled up and fell back down again. But John had just been surprised by her weight, not defeated by it, and with a force of effort he lifted Valora up into his arms.

Her legs dangled. Her head, tossed back, hair cascading, the bound hero flawlessly lovely and utterly limp. John had one of his hands around her upper arm, inadvertently tugging on the already precariously positioned fabric of her leotard, partly pulled down already by Charlie, so the edges of the fabric pinched into Valora's fulsome, half-exposed breasts, making their straining all the more scandalously eye-catching.

John tried not to stare, not so much out of any kind of moral objection, but just because he knew that they were going to kill Valora momentarily, and there was something rather morbid about drooling over a person you intended to murder. He did have a little unease about the killing itself: it was partly squeamishness at killing a beautiful woman, and partly because Valora wasn't a fellow criminal. Wasn't in 'the game'. He'd have had the same objection to killing a police officer - though not such strong objections that it would stop him. There was another thing: of all the people in that room, John was the only one with no personal hatred for her. Indeed, he pitied her.
"Don't worry," he said, finding that he was actually talking out loud to the woman in his arms. "We won't drag it out." He began to carry her away, flanked by his two underlings. Milo, ever ratlike, had already scurried out ahead of him. 'Varg' was still counting her money.

John took Valora outside, where a small van was waiting. Boston tapped on the back of it for him, and it opened. Two men inside, reached for John's burden, but hesitated when they realised it wasn't a corpse.
"Same plan," John explained. "Dump her in the bay. The chains will weigh her down. Same result."
"What if she wakes up?" one of them asked.
"Her gag's soaked in... I don't know, ether or something. She's not gonna wake up for a long time."
They shrugged. These were men that had been folded into Milo's organisation when John had - they were not unfailingly loyal to him, but they trusted him enough to do as he said. They took Valora from him, surprised as he had been by her weight, and placed her onto a large, black, canvas bag. They pulled the edges of it around Valora, manipulating her limp frame as they contained her. They zipped the bag up, plunging her into darkness. One of them nodded to John, and closed the shutters, as Boscoe and Boston climbed into the van's cab.

They didn't notice Charlie, nor could they have been expected to. They didn't notice the way she reacted when she'd heard John speaking comforting words to Valora's comatose body. They hear her begin to pant. They didn't see her pacing. They didn't see her pulling off her helmet just so she could breathe. You see, for all her bluster, for all her rage and violence and callousness, Charlie had yet to deliberately kill anyone. Those civilians she'd threatened, she'd expected Valora to save, and Lance Van der Boek - she had only meant to threaten him. She hadn't been able to kill Valora herself, but she thought she'd be fine with letting the gangsters do it.

If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that the relationship between what Charlie thought was the case, and what was the case, was not necessarily an intimate one.

* * *

As soon as Valora was cut off from his field of vision, John felt relieved. The whole business left a foul taste in his mouth, and he was happy to be shot of it. Already he could breathe easier, and he walked with light steps to the vehicle that Milo had shut himself into.
"All good, boss?" John asked, climbing in himself.
"Mhh," Milo grunted. He tapped the window separating him from his driver, and they began to pull away. The further away they got, the more relieved John felt. He even supposed that he saw the grey cloud hanging over Milo's head was clearing a bit. Probably he was relieved too, if only just because now Valora would be out of his way.

"What did you think of her?" Milo asked, suddenly, about two minutes into the drive.
"Think of who? Valora?"
"No," Milo replied. "Her captor. 'Varg'." He enunciated the word, repeated it a couple of times. "Odd one. She didn't seem very professional, did she?"
"No, I guess not." John mused. "It's weird. She's a mercenary powerful enough to take Valora down in a one-on-one battle, but no-one I talked to had ever heard of someone like her. Hell, it sounded like she made that nickname up on the spot. In fact - the way she acted, I think this mighta been her first job. Or close to it, anyway."
"What's the significance of that, d'you think?"
John thought. He was starting to get used to these little strategy meetings, and the words came easier. "I think it's possible that there was something personal in it. Maybe they know each other - maybe that's why Varg didn't kill her, if they used to be friends or something. In fact..." He clicked his tongue. "She looked like she had the same kinda powers as Valora too. She was just really strong. Bit of a weird coincidence." He shrugged. "Sisters, maybe? Is that how superpowers work?"
"No," Milo replied. "Even identical twins have no greater likelihood of having the same power as any other two superhumans."
"Hmm." John shook his head. "Then I got no clue. Maybe it means something. Maybe it doesn't."
"Mm."

The two men fell again into silence. John wanted to say more, though. He wanted to ask Milo about the way he'd acted. For his own sake as much as Milo's, he wanted to know if his boss was alright. He - he sort of liked Milo. Mad and scrawny and weird as he was, he had a sort of chutzpah that John found admirable. At the least, he was relatively content working for him. But he couldn't find the words to ask, and Milo ended up speaking first.
"John," he asked. "Do you have the Internet on your cellphone?" This was, remember, the year 2006.
"Yeah, I do."
"Would you see if the word 'varg' means anything?"
"Sure. How do you spell it?"
"V-a-r-g, I suppose."
John took his phone out, punched the question into Yahoo. "Oh, huh. It's Swedish for 'wolf'."
Milo looked up at the ceiling of the car. "Well. That is interesting."
"Why?"
"Because I don't think our new mercenary friend was going to give you the name 'Varg' at first. Do you remember? She - said something that sounded like 'loop'." His lips squirmed. "I think - I think she was going to say 'Lupus'."
"Does that mean anything?"
"I don't know, John," Milo said, before looking his lieutenant in the eye. "But I want you to find out."
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Okay, this should do it," Boston said. "Pull over here."
Boscoe grunted, and pulled in. They hadn't had to drive for long: the city wasn't called 'Portland' for nothing. The rain and the dark and the foulness of the hour kept the roads empty, and kept watchful eyes off their backs. It would be a quick job: take Valora, dump her in the ocean, and make sure she didn't come up. These men were not as thoughtful even as John Mann, and Boston had even killed a woman before in the course of his unseemly life. They stopped as close as they could get to an old boardwalk. Boscoe stayed at the wheel, Boston got out. The other two, John's guys, would help him with Valora.

Boston walked quickly to the back of the van, tapped on the back. No-one answered, so he tapped again, louder. Still nothing.
"The hell?" he grumbled. This time he pounded on the door, but there was still nothing. John's guys weren't just being slow. "Shit," Boston said. He hurried back to Boscoe, irritably demanding the key to the hold from him, ran back, and unlocked it. He pushed open the shutter, and swore again, this time with real feeling.

John's guys were unconscious. They were alive (probably), but had been viciously brutalised. The roof of the hold had been torn like paper, and the hold was filling with rainwater. Most significantly, the hold was now empty of cargo. Well, they still had the big, black bag, but the big, black bag was now big, black and empty. Valora was gone. Boston first thought to blame John - the motherfucker had all but promised him Valora would stay unconscious! - but he wasn't stupid enough to accuse a superior without being sure of himself, and he quickly realised that he'd come to the wrong conclusion. Valora had been tied up and chained, but there were no torn ropes or snapped chains in the back of the hold. And, looking up, Boston got the distinct impression that the roof of the van had been torn open from the outside: peeled open, rather than punched through. Valora, Boston realised, hadn't escaped. In all likelihood she hadn't even been rescued.

She'd been re-kidnapped.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A tall man with a thick, grey beard sat in the furthest booth from the entrance of "Papa Spinelli's Good Eats Eatery", a somewhat redundantly named diner. He was facing the door, and looked a bit on edge. Naturally a little paranoid, he wasn't really in any danger. He was a licensed P.I., and wasn't exactly doing anything illegal. Nevertheless, he walked in some unsavoury places, and one never knew when one had pissed someone off. He was relieved, therefore, when his client entered.

"Hey," he said. They'd met before, so he felt no need for formalities. Before his client had even sat down, he'd put a dossier on the table in front of her. "This," he said, "is everything I could get on Lupus. Real name Charlie Korhonen, born 17th May 1985, and -"
An impatient look told him to get on with it.
"Right. So, from what I can find out, she was part of this superhero team - the Bombshells - but only very briefly. After that it was difficult to get more on her, but her name pops up in some naval communiques I was able to get my hands on. Big military project - I got no idea what, other than the name 'Hauser' it's all redacted." He leaned in. "It's bad shit, though. Full on violation of the Madrid treaty if it's true."
"I see. Go on."
"Right, right."

The P.I. leafed through his papers. "So, the rest of this is conjecture," he said. "But she vanished - on the very day this Lance Van der Boek guy got murdered, and he's tied up in all this big time. I thought for sure there'd be nothing more after that - but." He grinned. He was obviously very pleased with himself. "I get a feeling, see? Based on what you tell me, I start looking for certain... incidents. Crimes committed by people with superhuman strength. I start in Cali, and I work my way out - and wouldn't you know it, I find myself a pattern."

He pulled a sheet out of his dossier, showed his client a jagged line leading from California to the North East of the continental U.S.. "This chick's been pulling petty robberies her whole way across the states, been shot at half a dozen times, never with any effect. That made me sit up. Strong superhumans? Common enough? But bulletproof? That's something special. And then the last one -" He jabbed the final dot on the map. "The last one was just a couple of days ago! The chick raided a hospital. Stole a bunch of..." He checked his notes. "Anaesthetics and anaesthesiology equipment. Tossed a security guard upwards through two floors!" He leaned back. "I figure that's gotta be your girl."
"So," his client said, "Lupus is in Portland, Maine?"
The P.I. nodded.
"Thank you," his client responded, swishing back her long, red hair. "You've been very helpful." She put a thick, brown envelope on the desk, pushed it to the P.I.. Happily he took it, opened it up.
"Hey, this looks a little more than we agreed!"
"You've earned it," his client said.
"You're too kind," he replied. He turned around to motion to the waitress, wanting to order some coffee. But when he turned back, she was gone.

Two hours later, Cecily was on a non-stop flight to Portland.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

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Several times during the battle, Charlie thought she was going to go deaf. The grinding, thudding sound of heavy, automatic weapons fire drilled into her brain, the noise causing her a great deal more suffering than the bullets themselves. It was bad enough when they missed. When they hit her, the sound made Charlie's eardrums shiver and vibrate like they were trying to come apart, ringing and clanging off her armour, armour that had felt so ungainly and bulky when she'd first put it on, and now felt thin as paper. Now that it was supposed to protect her, she felt naked.

All the training she'd been given had vanished from her mind as soon as the fighting began. She forgot everything. How to use the armour properly. How to use her powers properly. She couldn't even remember what these angry, frightened men were supposed to have done that meant they needed to be killed. Hell, she couldn't even remember which country she was in. Something that ended with '-stan', she thought.
"Stanistan," she muttered to herself, and imagined a country where everyone was called 'Stan', and she giggled, because she was terrified and hysterical. She found that she had quite forgotten how indestructible her new powers made her, and she cowered, therefore, behind a rapidly deteriorating marble pillar in the compound of the man that she was supposed to assassinate. For a moment, Charlie felt very much like a little girl again. Hapless, confused, frightened, and uncomprehending, clutching her temples with both hands, and snivelling as the bullets bounced off her skin.

Wait.

Off her skin?

Indeed. Charlie looked at her right shoulder. There was a hole in the armour around it, a hole big enough to put her finger in. So she did, and she plucked out a crumpled little lead slug that had wedged itself between the armour and her skin. There was a red spot where the bullet had struck Charlie's body: it hadn't cut her, or even bruised her, but it had done her some harm. There was even some pain, real, physical pain, which Charlie realised she had not felt in weeks.
"Motherfucker," she muttered. Those useless bastards. Those useless, stupid, self-congratulating, gung-ho, jarhead bastards. How much fucking money had they spent designing this suit for her? How many years of development and testing and research had gone into its stealth systems, long before they'd even found Charlie to stick into it? How many years in prison had they risked by developing the suit in the first place, violating God only knew how many laws, national and international? And on its very first fucking field test this multi-million dollar, bleeding edge first-in-a-new-wave-changing-the-paradigm-forever-and-ever-suit had been ripped through by a completely normal gun. No, fuck that. She wasn't going to die here. She wasn't going to die because her suit had been designed and put together by the lowest fucking bidder!

She didn't even bother going around the pillar, but just barged through it. This time Charlie didn't forget her training - she threw it quite deliberately aside, and just charged the commandos' defensive position like a bull. She smashed through their makeshift barricade, and through them, and through anyone else who got in her way. She heard screams. She saw blood. She heard bone snap. But she didn't care. They were the enemy. More to the point, they were other people. So who gave a shit?

Her target didn't turn out to be too difficult to find. He'd just locked himself in his office with his closest guards protecting its entrance. In retrospect, that just made things easier for Charlie: she knew immediately that she was in the right place when she heard them yelling, saw them all grouped in front of the thick double doors. They opened fire, and at this point Charlie was new enough to her powers that she wasn't sure she could tank their assault uninjured. But she didn't need to get past them. They were guarding the only door to her target, but not the only entrance. A concrete wall would do just fine.

With a mad bellow Charlie slammed her head into the wall, hitting it with such force that her foes were sure she'd just let off a grenade. It crumbled at her touch, and like a preying animal she crawled through the hole she'd made, almost dropping to all fours in her hungry pursuit. Her target, a bellicose man in a white uniform, screamed when he saw her, and shouted something that sounded like "Estatubarrat!", or something. He obviously wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go. His last defenders rushed to his aid, but their valour did him no good. Charlie plowed through them, completely ignoring their gunfire, even as it pierced her armour and stung her skin, batting them aside once she was close enough, until there was nothing but air between her and her target. In short order there was not even that.

High and loud were the howls of this man in his alabaster suit, whose name Charlie did not and would not ever know, as his black-clad tormentor jumped upon him, and pinned his flabby body to his expensive, pineapple-yellow carpet with a single hand. He blurted out a wild, fluid stream of invective, threats and pleas, switching between several languages, one of which was schoolboy-English. But he fell silent when Charlie's hand curled around his throat.

Through the tinted visor of her helmet, she looked at him. He had scars on his cheeks from childhood acne. He had a slightly lazy left eye. He was short, very short, and Charlie did not understand how so small a man could have had such an impact on the world that anyone would want to assassinate him, let alone the ugly little corner of the American military to which she was attached. If someone had been like: Hey, Charlie, you know this guy? Sweaty, bald-spot, dresses like if Cliff Richard joined Starfleet? I'm gonna chop his head off, Charlie wouldn't have been able to find the shits she'd give with an electron microscope. So she could easily kill him. Just squeeze. Just choke him. Strangle him. Both.

Were those different? She thought someone had said to her that they weren't the same thing, but she couldn't remember. Was... strangling had something to do with the brain. One of her combat instructors had tried to explain it when he'd simulated a chokehold on her. Ha! He'd been a full-tilt, veiny little penis of a man. He'd really thought she couldn't get out of his hold, not until she broke every bone in his hand and kneed him in the dick. Had he ever come back? She didn't -

- Oh my god. What is the hold up? Just close your fucking hand. How is this even difficult? A: you don't care about this guy's life. And B: he probably deserves it. Legit, he's, like, a terrorist or something. Absolutely nobody in the world is going to bat an eyelash over this guy getting shafted. So just squeeze. Just squeeze!

"'He looks scared'?" Are you kidding me? What do you care if he looks scared? It's good that he looks scared. He's scared of you. He's scared of what a massive fucking badass you are. You just beat the shit out of a whole compound of real, full-on tough guys. You're a real superhero now! You're not punching bank robbers in a mini-skirt and posing for the cameras like those dumbshit hoe-bags you left back in Cali. You're dealing with, like, actual threats! You're awesome! Just close your god-damned fist! Don't tell me you're drawing a - a moral line here. Come on. Charlie, be real.

You know.

You do know, right?

You're stupid. But you're not that stupid. You must know what you are. You're a violent, twisted, selfish asshole. If you weren't, you wouldn't have gone into that bar spoiling for a fight. Wouldn't have beaten the shit out of that guy. That's why you're here. That's what you are. That's what you are on the outside, and guess what? It's pretty much exactly the same all the way down. So just squeeze. Kill him. Kill him! Do it! Why are you such a pussy all of a sudden? Honestly - oh my god, are you crying?

And for a moment, the man in white thought the obsidian fury bearing down on him was showing him mercy. Their grip relaxed. They seemed almost hesitant. A moment passed in silence, and then the figure in armour made a strange sound, warped and twisted by the electronic filters within their helmet. A screech of frustration and pain. They stamped their foot, shaking the whole room. They grabbed a chair and hurled it through one of the office's large, bay windows. And then, as the man in white had hoped they would, they leapt out.

But this was not mercy, not exactly. Charlie may have found herself unable deliberately to take a life, but that had nothing to do with any concern about her target's wellbeing. If that had been the case, she'd have captured him, delivered him to her handlers. But she didn't. And indeed, when she later, in Captain Doyle's first and last apoplectic debrief, discovered that the MARSOC boys sent to clean up after her had found her target cowering, and shot him, Charlie did not shed a tear for the fate of this man. She tried not to think about it at all. Certainly the failure of the mission had been the fault of her handlers, the crappy armour, the poor training and so on. Certainly the reason that she had been unable to assassinate her target was due to them, not to her. Certainly it was not down to squeamishness and moral cowardice.

The thing of it is, this time it really wasn't. This time what Charlie crushed down with her overweening capacity for denial really ought to have been denied. It's just that it didn't occur to her, even subconsciously, that she could be motivated by genuine moral feeling, that somewhere in Charlie Korhonen's ugly, self-serving psyche, there was a conscience.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Mhhhhhh..." There was something heavy on top of Valerie as she woke. Something so heavy even she couldn't lift it. Couldn't move her arms. Couldn't move her legs. Couldn't move her head. Couldn't open her eyes, even. Only dimly, only distantly did Valerie realise that there was nothing on top of her, that she couldn't move because she was heavily sedated. Because she'd been captured. The face of Milo Patáky, whom she'd glimpsed briefly before, flashed into her mind, and when with titanic effort she forced her eyes open it was him she expected to see again. Gloating. Smirking. Getting ready to kill her.

But it wasn't Milo she saw. When her pale, blue eyes fluttered gently, slowly open, Valerie received a sharp reminder of who it was who had authored her downfall. Peering at her like a little boy looking down a microscope at an open sheep's heart, Lupus loomed above her, with her gaunt, pale features and her fading-blue hair and an air of smarmy arrogance that turned the stomach. Lupus who had captured her. Lupus who had bound her. Lupus who had defeated her.
"Mrhh... mhhhrr..." Valerie whimpered, and was disgusted with the sound of herself, ashamed that what had been intended as a growl of vicious loathing had come out as that simpering little moan. She instinctively tried to attack, but felt a tight pull against every limb she tried to move. She looked down at herself, and a hot flush of shame washed through her.

It was worse than she'd thought. Her whole body - Lupus had tied her up to an almost absurd extent. She'd gone absolutely apeshit with it. Tape and ropes and thick, heavy chains, holding Valerie and trapping her, coiled around her legs, squeezing them, squeezing into them; curled around and between her heavy, soft bosoms; mocking her, mocking her strength and her pride, mocking her power and her rage. She felt her arms tied tight behind her, felt her shoulders tugged back by the tension of the cords, and she could not undo this - insult. She was propped up in a ugly, rotting couch. A thick, wet rag tied to her face. It smelled sweet, cloying. It made her nostrils feel hot. Every breath of its vapours threatened to plunge her back into sleep.

It was real. It was really happening to her. Vague memory grew less hazy, and she began to remember the battle. She'd been so confident. No, more than that - it hadn't even entered her mind that she could have lost. She saw herself a captive, saw herself a helpless victim and it burned in her breast. Yet, every time she tested the strength of a rope or a chain, and found it more than sufficient to bind her, she felt cold. This didn't happen, not to her. This happened to other heroines. Other women. Not her. Even that last time - even when James Oleander had drugged her and tied her up, it wasn't - it wasn't like this!

Well, why wasn't it? No really, why? What was the difference between this and what had happened before? It was just as humiliating being tricked. Just as aggrieving having her fair limbs bound. Just as embarrassing knowing that the motherfucker who'd kidnapped her was getting their jollies seeing her done up like the front of a fetish magazine. Maybe it was the danger: she'd known that once the drug wore off, she'd have been able to rip Oleander's head from his shoulders. But now even if the chloroform wore off and she snapped her bonds, Lupus was as strong as she was. She could lose again.

Of course. Of course that's what it was. Oleander hadn't 'beaten' her. She'd thrown back his poison willingly. This was - she hadn't just been abducted. She'd been defeated. It had been a fair fight. Oh sure, Lupus had kept her second power hidden, but that was always the way when two different superhumans fought. It was as fair as it could have been, and Valerie had lost. And this... abject humiliation was her reward. Looking into her own mind, Valerie realised that even when she realised Lupus had her strength, she'd never considered for a moment that she could actually lose.
"God, I'm full of myself," she thought. "Why... should I be surprised that I got beat? Valora... is nothing. Everything's... " Beneath her gag she almost smiled. In her mind's eye she saw the face of her father. "Everything's a joke... everything's..."


She couldn't keep continue to think cogently. Even stringing a sentence or two together in her mind was too much. So addled and somnolent was she, in fact, that it took Valerie a fair while to realise that she was being spoken to.
"Fuck me, are you awake or not?" Lupus hissed. "Or are those pretty peepers just for show?" She flicked Valora on the head, an action that - from Lupus - had about the force of a shotgun blast. It roused Valerie just enough that she was able to fix her eyes on Lupus'. Enough for her to fix Lupus with a stare that, even with a drug soaked cloth covering most of Valerie's face, communicated a searing disgust.

"You're real fucking ungrateful, you know that?" Lupus said. She laughed. It was an ugly sound. She was an ugly woman. That is, on paper she was actually rather attractive, but just looking at her Valerie could not imagine that any person would ever have wanted her.
"Mh... hhmff..." Valerie shifted a little, managed to roll herself off the couch, but she didn't even hit the ground before Lupus caught her, bearing her weight with a thumb and forefinger, and pushing her right back into her seat.
"No, no, no," Lupus crowed, as Valerie shifted feebly in her grasp, "you're going exactly fucking nowhere, Valora. I got you. You understand?" She wrapped both hands around Valora's upper arms, thumbs digging into Valora's bare shoulders. "Hey. Hey, look at me!"
Valerie did so, if only to stop Lupus screeching at her.

Charlie shivered. Even with her eyes all hazy, Valora's gaze was intimidating - but she still couldn't do shit. 'Dangerous and helpless' was a combination that made Charlie just... tingle. She sat on Valora's lap, pushing her waist right against her captive's, gripping Valora's shapely, warm thighs with her own thighs. Charlie herself certainly had an attractive body - she was slim and fit and, after her training with Doyle's outfit she'd become pretty toned. But she'd never been attracted to girls who looked like her. She liked them like Valora: soft, and curvy and womanly. Her captive was every teenage fantasy she'd ever had - only much, much better.

"You," Charlie said, "need to be very... very grateful to me, missy." She put one finger on Valora's sternum, traced little circles on it. "I saved your life."
"Mh... mhh?"
"Oh yeah. I mean it." She lowered her voice to a little above a whisper. "See, I didn't just catch your fine ass in my net for my own pleasure. You -" She hesitated. Had... she already explained the bounty on Valora's head? Like, during their fight? Ah, whatever. What if she had? What was Valora gonna do, complain? "You've been a naughty little cape, huh?" she said, trying to recapture the moment. "Got some big, bad men very angry with you. That... Patáky guy. He gave me lots and lots of cash... and he was gonna kill you. Gonna drown you in the deep blue sea. For real. And I... " Charlie added, running her finger slowly down the thin channel between Valora's breasts, "... rescued you. I took the money. And then," she said, leaning forward and whispering in Valora's ear. "Then... I took... you." Slowly, softly, she began kissing Valerie's earlobe, her taut, supple neck. "My sexy little peach... you're all mine now, huh?" To her delight, Valerie began to tremble, to shake like a leaf. Charlie pushed herself against Valora's hips. "Yeah... oh, I can feel you shiver. You can't resist me, huh? Now I've got you, now I've beat you, you just can't help yourself, can you baby? You know you want -"
"Hm-hm-hm... hm-hm-hm..."
It was a bit of an odd sound for someone in Valora's situation to be making. Lupus, annoyed, pulled back a little, and saw that Valerie had not been trembling, or shivering. She had been laughing.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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CJS
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by CJS »

Woah, still catching up on this and just got through the titanic fight between Lupus and Valora. That might be the most epic fight I've read on here. I liked that it wasn't just about the fight, either, and we got to see all the built up rage/emotions on both sides coming out.

On a side note, I really wish there such a thing on the forum as "download as PDF" or other formats. Like many, my reading time is too limited for my liking, and the quicker I can get started, the better.
My stories:
Sapphire Angel - Beginnings
Sapphire Angel - Power Play

Sapphire Angel website (download Beginnings in PDF, Kindle, and ePub)

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Woah, still catching up on this and just got through the titanic fight between Lupus and Valora. That might be the most epic fight I've read on here. I liked that it wasn't just about the fight, either, and we got to see all the built up rage/emotions on both sides coming out.

On a side note, I really wish there such a thing on the forum as "download as PDF" or other formats. Like many, my reading time is too limited for my liking, and the quicker I can get started, the better.
Hey thanks a lot! I'm glad you're enjoying all this nonsense.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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chase251
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by chase251 »

You're still the best here. Epic fight scene and hot make out scene! I still got a lot to work on with my writing, hopefully in the future I will have enough time to improve on it. Good job as always.

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

You're still the best here. Epic fight scene and hot make out scene! I still got a lot to work on with my writing, hopefully in the future I will have enough time to improve on it. Good job as always.
Aww, you're too kind!
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

"'My sexy little peach'? Are... you fucking kidding me...?" God, did this woman have any self-awareness at all? Okay, fine, Lupus had won. She'd bested her foe. She'd captured her. She had Valerie absolutely in her power, and it was mortifying to realise that she could do with Valerie's beautiful body exactly as she liked. But for god's sake, did she really think this was sexy? It was embarrassing. This stupid, halfwit animal had the temerity to think that Valerie would be attracted by her infantile attempts at seduction. That it was this... idiot who had brought her low burned more than anything. And that made her laugh as well.

"Wh- what's so fucking funny?" Charlie screeched. As if Valora had attacked her, she pushed herself off her, using too much strength and almost tripping over her own feet. She rushed back forward, hot with embarrassment, and snarling like a dog. "Huh? What's so funny?!" Hooking her fingers around Valora's chains, she yanked her up to eye level. Thrust her hand into Valora's hair.
Valerie met her enemy's eyes. There was a deep well of stubbornness and resistance inside her, and for as long as her body had any strength at all, she could continue to be defiant. But she almost couldn't be bothered. Proving that she would not be cowed by Lupus didn't mean anything. Proving that she was strong-willed didn't mean anything. It is true, she was not in such a state of despair that she wouldn't have fought back if she'd been able. If Lupus had been trying to kill her and Valerie could have saved herself, she would have. But as she was now, with all that taken out of her hands? It was humiliating, sure, but there was something black and noxious in Valerie that felt almost comforted.

Charlie, of course, misinterpreted Valerie's reaction to her wrongly. As in all things, she thought it was all about her.
"Un-fucking-believable," she said. "You still think you're better than me, don't you? You still think you're the hottest shit that's ever been taken." She pulled her face right up to Valora's. "I beat you, Valora," she said. "I fought you and I won. And you know what? I'll give it to you. That was a hell of a fight, baby." Her mouth kept twitching between a snarl and a condescending smile. "What a champ. What a contender. What a superhero! I'll even... " She paused, giggled. "I'll even admit," she said, "that if I'd only had your power, if I hadn't taken Debra's too, you'd totally have won. But it didn't fucking work out like that, did it? I'm sc - you think I'm scum, but I still beat you!" And then, with a pleasure that made Charlie's thighs quiver and her blood surge with cruel joy, she saw Valerie's defiance falter, and saw her eyes flicker downwards. Oh yes. Charlie's words had got through to her now.

Why did it matter so much? Why had Valerie rested her ego on something so fragile as an unbroken record of victory? She hadn't meant to. If you'd asked Valerie if she was invincible she'd have said: "Of course not. Don't be stupid." But she had been, hadn't she? In battle, she'd been challenged, but never equalled. Certainly never beaten. And it mattered. It mattered to her, and she hated that it mattered to her, and it filled her with loathing and bile and a rage that could go nowhere but inwards, and it was for that reason that she cast her eyes down.

But that wasn't enough for Charlie. Smelling blood, she pounced, tripping Valora, letting the radiant blonde fall heavily to her knees, and then pushing her face against Charlie's lower abdomen, feeling the damsel rubbing and writhing against her thighs and her hips.
"So you're not gonna be laughing anymore, are you? In fact," she said, reaching for something she'd stashed in a pocket, "you're not gonna be doing much of anything." She'd taken out a hip flask, but there was no alcohol inside. Glass vials were all well and good, but they weren't durable. She unscrewed the lid, then twisted her fingers in Valora's golden hair. Having dropped her captive to her knees, Charlie now pulled her back up to her feet, consciously indulging her own caprice. As Valora squirmed sleepily, Charlie yanked back her head, and poured chloroform directly onto her gag.

"Mmhhh! Mhhh-nnnhhhhh!" Valerie moaned, trying to pull herself away and failing miserably. The soporofic splashed over her mouth, completely soaking the cloth tied there, and spilling onto her neck, her bare shoulders and her breasts, making her skin gleam in the harsh, electric light. There was a quarter-second surge of wakefulness from the shock of what Lupus had done, but after that Valerie felt a wave crash over her, and all resistance she could muster was harshly and instantly crushed. It was like being pulled into dark, hot water by a hundred bony hands, overwhelming her, overpowering her, and dragging her back down into the blackness. Her vision flashed white, her ears rang and she felt herself go from merely weak to essentially paralysed. Her shoulders sagged, arms and long legs going limp. She would have dropped into unconsciousness immediately, but Lupus wasn't having that.

"Oh no you don't, no, no, no," Charlie hissed, shaking her captive, patting her hard on the cheeks to startle her into some semblance of wakefulness. "You're gonna see. You're gonna see." Charlie made her see. She pushed Valora's head down, to make her look down at her own body. Then Charlie curled her fingers in the fabric of Valora's leotard and, with purest spite, she tore.
"Nnnoohhhmm..." Valerie moaned, too close to unconsciousness now to suppress her dismay for dignity's sake. She saw her cobalt warrant ripped away, nothing left of it above her navel. She saw her ripe, voluptuous breasts spilling out, felt them rubbing against the chains and ropes that bit at them from above and below, felt her dark pink buds hardening from contact with the cool air. She shook her head, a gesture of something between refusal and denial and straightforward shame. "Nnnohhhmmm..." she repeated, sleepily insisting that what she saw could not be what was.

"'Oh no, oh no'!" Charlie mocked, lust and pettiness equally indulged, struggling to pull her eyes away from Valora's naked bosom, and failing completely to pull her hand away. Valora kept shaking her head, so Charlie held her chin, forced her to meet her eyes. "No denying it, Valley," she crowed. "I'm afraid this is exactly what's happening!" She bit her bottom lip as her hand danced over and between Valora's breasts, until one hand wasn't enough and she had to shove Valora against the nearest wall, holding her in place by pressing against her with her hips. With both hands she grasped at the womanly mounds of Valora's chest, wrapping her fingers around them like the legs of a predatory insect. They yielded absolutely to her touch, Valora's buds tickling the palms of her hands.
"What's the matter? Huh? What's the matter, Valley?" Charlie panted. "All upset that I'm, like, taking away all your maidenly virtue or whatever? Oh, I doubt you've got any of that left... not some blushing little girl, are you? No, you're a woman. You're a woman!" In a moment of frantic, animal pleasure Charlie ran her hands all over her captive's torso, laughing and marvelling and lusting for Valora's incomparable loveliness. She moved back, partly because all that chloroform sloshed onto Valora's skin was making Charlie a bit light-headed too ("Debra's power's not immune to that shit? Man, she sucks!"), and partly because she wanted to - to see. To have this moment, to hold onto it.

So she let Valora be. Let her sink slowly to those pretty knees. Watched her breasts jiggle as she fell. Saw her big, blue eyes rolling back and back and back, as if there were some wave lapping at her. She looked absurd, with her pin-up girl hips and her e-cups, drugged and tied up and half-naked and - just so -

- man, how did she fucking do that? Was it, like, a superhero thing? That you could be so pathetic and so amazing at the same time? Her hair was golden. Her body was feminine and beautiful and strong. Her naked breasts made her look vulnerable, and weak, but - there was still grandeur. She was fallen, beaten - but as she sank into another stupor, whimpering and sighing, her head flopping from side to side there was - well, it didn't look stupid. It looked tragic. Charlie didn't mind, exactly, that Valora was impressive even at her lowest, for if Valora was magnified then she, her conqueror, was magnified also. But her captive still felt otherworldly. What was this ephemeral quality that had meant that Charlie was not only unable to kill her, but unable to let someone else kill her either?

I don't know.

Maybe it was just because she was really hot.

Valerie herself had ceased to be aware of Lupus. She was virtually asleep already, only vague vestiges of consciousness clinging on by a kind of mental surface tension. But make no mistake: she was drowning, and no-one was coming to pull her up from the depths. She had a distant sense of her danger, of her impotence. The latter was more to her chagrin. If a genie had given her one wish, it would have been for the power to break her bonds and snap Lupus' neck. After that, though? After that, whatever. Milo could drown her if he wanted to. Valerie didn't want anything. Just to kill her enemy. The enemy who had beaten her. The enemy whom Valerie could have beaten if she hadn't been so wrathful, if she hadn't rushed in and tired herself out so quickly. The idea that it was her own fault, that just like with Captain Doyle her anger had backfired on her and spelled disaster - that hurt. But then, it wasn't just her fault was it? There was a reason that she'd been so incapable of controlling herself before, a reason she'd been half-mad with rage.

But that was too much. Defeat and captivity and self-recrimination and humiliation - this she could bear, however painfully. But to go beyond that, to bring into her mind that awful, awful visit to the house of her father, that... death she had experienced - no. Her mind gave out, and she fell again into a dark and mercifully dreamless sleep.

Charlie watched her fallen conquest for a few moments after she passed out. Valora was lying on her side. Her knees were bent, but were gradually straightening as her muscles relaxed. Her head rested on her right shoulder, a thin veil of her hair covering her face. Her neck was tensed on its left side, tendons tightened beneath the skin, skin that was smooth, and cool, and taut. Her shoulders and her thighs looked tense, but this was only because of the tape and rope and chains in which she was so mercilessly shackled. No, she was totally limp, totally unconscious. A precious, helpless, conquest.

Smirking, Charlie sat down on the floor next to Valora, and lightly scooped the damsel onto her lap. Almost without thinking about it, her hands reached for Valerie's naked bosom. Again they violated Valora's feminine perfection, squeezing and teasing, kneading her supple flesh like dough, taking possession of the helpless beauty she'd captured. She coiled her legs around Valora's, Charlie's slim and tight, Valora's curvy and soft. She felt so vulnerable, all bound-up and limp, and her weakness gave Charlie a surge of self-admiration.
"Oh yeah," she crowed, "it doesn't get any fuckin' better than this..."

It didn't did it? Get any better, I mean. This was it. This, defeating Valora and feeling her up and so on, was probably going to be the highlight of her life. I mean, where else were things going for Charlie Korhonen? She'd ruined her chance of living as a superhero. She'd ruined her chances of working for the military. Well, okay, no big loss there. But she'd followed that act by accidentally killing someone, dickhead though he was, and turning herself into a fugitive. But that wasn't all! She'd gone on to pussy out of killing Valora, then pussying out of even letting her die, and in doing so Charlie had made herself the enemy of a powerful criminal organisation. She could not have been much more of a fuck-up if she'd tried.

Suddenly she resented that Valora was unconscious, resented that her voluptuous, helpless captive was not really there with her. The big, empty room that Lupus had selected as her - ahem - 'base of operations' suddenly seemed very big and very, very empty. Charlie shrank back, clutching Valora against her. She buried her face in Valora's soft, bouncy locks, sniffing deeply, drawing the smell into her nostrils, a soapy, slightly fruity scent from whatever shampoo she used. Her body was beautiful, and warm, and good. Charlie closed her eyes, and a heavy blanket of tiredness dropped over her. She hadn't slept in - she hadn't slept properly for days and days. Her body could not tire, exactly, she needed sleep, and her limbs, chest and stomach ached from her battle. She was tired. She was tired and miserable, and though she screamed over and over at herself that it was her mom's fault and her grandpa's fault and Doyle's fault and Oleander's fault and Patáky's fault, her agony told her otherwise. She couldn't face it, and for comfort she pulled Valora closer still, squeezing her tight, trying to press into herself not only the raw, physical pleasure of touching and controlling the body of such an unbelievably gorgeous woman, but to press into herself the fact of her victory, trying at the same time to ignore the fact that it was the only impressive thing in her life that she'd ever achieved.

She fell asleep, just before she would have started crying.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

The response from Patáky's organisation to the betrayal of 'Warg' was swift. The word went out to everyone that Patáky even remotely trusted that this woman needed to be found, and needed to be found now. Naturally, John Mann was spearheading the effort. He, Boscoe, and a third man - Ray - had been manning a police radio in one of Milo's safehouses since Warg's betrayal had been discovered, looking for any sign of her. So far this vigilance had yielded nothing. It had been six fruitless hours so far. The blind searches - just looking for Warg in places where it was conceivable she might be hiding out - was left for the grunts.
"Hey," Boscoe said to John, scratching the back of his neck. "How'd Mr Patáky react?" Boscoe had been one of the two who'd had custody of Valora when she was taken from them. General feeling was that it wasn't his fault, exactly, but he was worried that he might nevertheless have incurred his employer's wrath.
"... He's not happy," John said. "But I don't think he's got any intentions of cutting your head off just yet."
"Mmhh," Boscoe grunted. Behind John's back, he was scowling.

Boscoe was an older man, old enough that his baldness looked faintly dignified. He was a trigger-man for Patáky, a full-bodied goon, and had never had any illusions of being anything else. But he didn't like how swiftly John had become Milo's consigliere. Didn't trust him. Not that he thought he was disloyal, exactly, but... John represented the sudden turn that Milo had taken recently. The risks. The violence. The expansion. Most of the others were pretty happy with the way things were going. There was more money in their pockets. They thought better of Milo himself, were impressed with his manful proactivity. Boscoe had these feelings himself, somewhat, but he was older than Patáky's other lieutenants. He'd seen an empire or two fall in his time.

John was perfectly aware of Boscoe's distrust, but didn't give it much thought. His first and only concern was finding Valora - and, more to the point - finding Warg. Or 'Lupus', whatever. He didn't know what the fuck they were going to do if they found her, of course, but she still needed to be found. To that end, he sorely needed information both on Warg's whereabouts and on Warg herself, to find some sort of vulnerability. It was spinning farcically out of control. Milo had been pretty level-headed when John had brought him the news of Warg's betrayal, but John could have sworn he heard screaming when he left Milo's office. All the more vital that this shit be dealt with.

John was thinking very deeply, trying to work out if there was anything useful about his knowledge that Valora, at least, could be sedated with drugs, and whether Warg might have the same vulnerability. So deeply was he thinking, in fact, that he didn't realise that Ray had been talking to him for the last twenty seconds.
" - and I just think it's worth checking out."
"Worth - ?" John turned, feeling a little foolish. "I'm sorry, what?"
Ray frowned. He thought John had been ignoring him because he didn't like him. Puffing himself up a little, he repeated:
"I was saying," he said, almost pouting, "we've got a hit. Br - uh, that is I got a tip-off that the cops are talking to a guy who was attacked by... well, from the sound of it, by Warg."
"So what?"
"So... that's all I got. Well, that and his name's Rodney Burke. He was hurt, I think? He's at Mercy Hospital. That's where the cops are talking to him. I - I figure he might know somethin', see? Maybe know where she went, or - or something." He folded his arms: 'so there!' they said.
"That ain't much," John grumbled, "but it's better than anything I've got. Boscoe, you want to handle it?"
"Sure," Boscoe replied, noting that John had been diplomatic enough to phrase his order as a question. "Ray, you're coming too," he added, feeling no need to be diplomatic in his turn.

But just before they left, John stopped them.
"I wanted to ask something," he said, fixing them both with a calm, but stern stare. "Or more like I was gonna ask something. I was gonna ask where exactly Ray there got this 'tip-off' of his. What name you was about to say before you stopped yourself. But now I figure I got no need, 'cause it's pretty obvious you've got moles in the Portland P.D. feeding you info. I figure you tried to catch yourself 'cause I'm pretty new. Maybe you aren't sure what you're supposed to let me know. Now if that's on Mr. Patáky's instructions, fair enough. But if not, then you guys need to get right with me being in the position that I'm in." He pinched the bridge of his nose. "This isn't a threat. I ain't in the business of flexing on people for no reason. But it's gonna make all our lives harder if we're at... " He searched for the right expression. "... cross purposes."

Ray sort of huffed, but wasn't wholly convinced by John's assurance that he wasn't being threatened, and he shrank back, his bluster deflating before it had been fully blown up. Boscoe took it in the intended spirit, more or less. But something still stuck in his craw.
"We understand just fine what position you're in," Boscoe said. "I'm not sure you do, though. You're not just Milo's second in command - you're his new protector."
"He's got bodyguards, don't he?"
"That's not what I mean." Boscoe smiled, sort of. "He's gonna start relying on you for a lot more than just running his crews. I've stuck with Mr Patáky for a long time because he knows how to run a tight ship, but the man's got his eccentricities. You're gonna be getting close to that - and believe me when I tell you, you're standing in a dangerous spot." He intended to go on, but John impatiently interrupted.
"Listen," John said, "I don't know if this is a warning, or a pep talk or what, but I don't need it. As far as Mr Patáky goes, I doubt you know as much about the man as you think you do. Whatever he was, it's not what he's turning into."
Boscoe raised a white, patchy eyebrow. "Turning... ?"
"Forget about it," John said, feeling that he'd revealed something he shouldn't have. "Go get this Burke guy. Talk to him. See if you can get something useful out of him."
"Yup," Boscoe replied. "Come on, Ray."
The two men left, and John returned to his monitoring of the CB radio. But, soon, it had for John devolved into empty, indecipherable noise. Outside of the immediate crisis, he felt a momentum building up behind him, perhaps behind all of them. This, whatever 'this' was, would not end well.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A hospital, even a good hospital, could be an awful place. Boscoe was diabetic, so he'd spent more time in hospitals than most. For that reason, he would quite seriously have preferred being in a gunfight to attending his scheduled check-ups. It was early in the morning, but there were still plenty of - well, plenty of sick people. Drunks convalescing in waiting rooms, people holding ice packs on pretty serious looking injuries waiting to be seen by overburdened staff, and just a whole lot of old people who probably had about a thousand things wrong with them. They in particular made Boscoe nervous: he wasn't too far away from old age himself.

"Hey." Ray was back, with a rather pleased expression on his face. It seemed he'd come up with the goods. "I've come up with the goods," he said, settling once and for all the question of whether or not he'd come up with the goods. "So the receptionist, right, at first he didn't want to tell me where Burke was, right? But then I noticed he had a little Philadelphia Eagles badge on his lanyard, so I -"
"Ray, please shut up," Boscoe said, wearily. "I take it your cunning mind game was successful, and you got the information."
"Well, I - " Ray flushed, and grumbled, but relented. "... He's on the fifth floor."
"Ray," Boscoe said, patting him on the shoulder just hard enough for it to hurt, "your value to our organisation could not possibly be overstated."

Out of long habit, they split up again. Ray took the stairs, Boscoe the elevator, so he was alone as he waited. A break from Ray's company was not something he particularly minded. When the doors opened, he was surprised that among all the ugliness and sickness of a hospital, he had found a well-dressed, very attractive young woman. She was dark-skinned, robustly slender, in a very short, dark-blue dress, with a wispy, chiffon scarf tossed lightly about her neck. She wore sheer, orange tights over her long, pretty legs, and when she began to walk out of the elevator Boscoe found that her stride had a rather sultry quality to it. She noticed him looking, smiled, and winked before leaving.
"Hmmh," Boscoe grunted as he passed her, amused that this woman had humoured him. He put her out of her mind in a second or two, but there was something about that made him wonder. Something in the back of his mind, but... ah, whatever. He had work to do.

He moved quickly through the wards of the fifth floor. He passed a nun, which was a bit strange, but otherwise he was unobstructed. He checked each room in turn, searching for Burke with Ray's vague description of him. After four or five rooms, he hit the jackpot.
"Jesus," he muttered, peering through the room's window. If this was Rodney Burke, and he had had an encounter with Warg, she'd really fucked him up. He was covered in bruises, severe lacerations. He was wearing a brace, the kind you put on someone with a broken neck, fixing his head in place. But he was conscious, and he didn't look like a man who'd be particularly difficult to squeeze information out of. But as he began to enter the room, his path was blocked by a short, very fat nurse with burning orange hair.

"No!" the man said, practically bellowing. "No more visitors!"
"I -"
The red haired man didn't let him finish. "No, no, no. This is last straw, okay? Mr Burke is very sick! Very badly hurt, yes? He needs his rest, okay? Nobody else talk to him."
Instinctively Boscoe's reaction in such a situation was to try to be intimidating, but there was something about this man's fiery gaze that told him that would be pointless. He could have held a blowtorch to the nurse's privates, and the guy would have spat in his face and started whistling the national anthem. Diplomacy was called for.

"Please," Boscoe said, lowering his voice to a husky baritone, and stooping to draw more attention to his age. "This man is my cousin, my oldest friend. I came down just tonight from New Mexico to stay with him for a few weeks. He never showed up at the airport to meet me. I thought he was dead or something."
"Well he's not. Now go!"
"Look, you said he needed to rest, right? Well he was expecting me to see him tonight. He might be worried about me. Could get anxious, see? Stop him from resting. Just let me talk to him for a couple of minutes, and I'll be on my way."
The nurse raised an eyebrow. "Lot of people been wanting to talk to Mr Burke. Police come and talk to him. Then different police come and talk to him. Then pretty reporter come and talk to him. She tell me she gonna be five minutes. That was three-quarter hour ago - she only just left!"
"Well I'm not a reporter and I'm not a cop. I'm just..." He sighed, trying to channel the spirit of Droopy the Dog. "I'm just an old man, and I'm hoping you'll let me see my oldest friend."
Boscoe saw the nurse begin to waver. He seemed to know that he was probably being duped, but he was not willing to take the risk of sending an old man sad and alone into the darkness of the early morning. He was just about to wave Boscoe in, when Ray exploded onto the scene.
"Uh, hello, excuse me, I - uh, need to speak to Ronald. Uh, I mean Rodney. I'm his - uh, husband!" Ray concluded, with a flourish. One could almost see the lightbulb winking on above his head as he said this. Boscoe looked at Ray as though he'd just asked Joseph McCarthy if he was interested in buying a copy of Das Kapital. He didn't even need to hear the nurse bellow "OUT!" before he started to leave of his own accord.

This time they both rode the elevator down. Ray did not, it must be said, feel entirely safe in a confined space with Boscoe.
"Wow," he said, managing to chuckle. "That sure was bad luck, huh? Us both showing up right at the same time."
"... Yup," Boscoe replied. "Real bad luck."
"I guess we should maybe come back later? I could stick around, wait for that nurse to leave."
"He's probably already telling security about us," Boscoe replied. "As amusing as it is to think of you getting your ass handed to you by a couple of rent-a-cops, Mr Patáky probably still wants you to be useful. At least in theory."

The two got out of the elevator together. Boscoe was genuinely considering finding some excuse to shoot Ray in the dick, but he forced himself to turn his mind to more importantly matters. The police had spoken to Burke, so if he had any helpful information about finding Warg, the police were a few steps ahead of him. Even some journo had one-upped them.
"Wait a minute." The journalist. The nurse said she'd just left before he'd arrived - that woman he'd seen before!

Hurrying outside without explaining himself to Ray, he searched urgently for any sign of the journalist. Had it been an hour later, with the streets busier, he would have lost her - but in the quiet of the wee hours, he could distantly hear the sound of confident strides in tall heels about seventy metres away from him. In the distance he saw her.
"Hey Boscoe, what's going on? Did you -" He lowered his voice to a whisper and asked, quite seriously: "Did you find Warg?!"
"What? No, you idiot! But that woman might have..." He did not have the patience to explain. "Look, just follow her, alright?"
"What are you gonna do?" Ray asked, but Boscoe didn't bother answering, getting in his car and pulling away, apparently in the opposite direction to the woman he was supposedly after. "Hey!" Ray shouted, but Boscoe swiftly disappeared. Grumbling, he began the pursuit.

Ray was pretty grumpy about Boscoe's order at first, but once he got within ten metres of the woman he'd been told to follow, he no longer resented it. She was really, really pretty, and though her dress wasn't very tight, her walk had a confident bounce to it, making her wiggle what was obviously an excellent behind from side to side with each step. But as delightful as her backside was, by the time he got within five metres of her he was getting really hungry for a good look at the front of her. Her whole ensemble - the tights, the dress, the scarf, the heels - it really drew his eye. As a lad, before he'd realised that pornography was a thing, Ray used to get his jollies to stealthily procured fashion magazines, and to that day he had a major thing for women who knew how to accessorise.

So he got a little too close, and on the empty street, his target was not being paranoid in suspecting that she was being followed. Before Ray knew what was happening, those long legs he'd admired so much had exploded into a very respectable sprint for a woman in heels. So respectable, in fact, that when Ray belatedly sprinted after her, she was already a good distance ahead of him. It was only because of those heels that Ray was able to gain on her at all, but he'd barely closed any distance when she turned sharply, and ducked into a side street.
"Shit!" Ray gasped, trying to speed up. He knew the area, and he knew the little alley she'd turned down opened up in three different directions only a few metres down. He might well have lost sight of her by the time he took the turn. Fortunately for him, when he took the turn she was still visible. Somewhat less fortunately for him, she was visible for about half a second before she smacked him upside the head with a telescoping nightstick.
"Not this time, you son of a bitch!" she shouted, striking him a second time, sending him crumpling to the floor. For Saskia Dubois had been victimised before, and it was an experience she had no intention of repeating.

For Ray, the next minute or two were an unrelenting barrage of pain and embarrassment. Saskia was not very strong, but she was vicious, and every time he tried to fight back, she only intensified her fury.
"Who are you working for?" Saskia shouted. "Are you one of Patáky's men? Or do you work for that woman who attacked Rodney Burke? Answer!"
"Wh - OW, FUCK!" Ray had been smacked on the hand, and he felt two of his fingers almost break.
"Or, perhaps you're just a free-range pervert," Saskia suggested, "and you decided to follow me after banging a couple of neurons together in your stupidly - " SMACK! " - shaped -" SMACK! " - skull!" SMACK-SMACK-SMACK!

Ray fell back, gasping, covering his face with his bruised hands. "J-Jesus, lady.... !" he coughed.
"Appeals to your Lord and Saviour aren't going to mean a great deal to me, darling," Saskia said. "I only go to Mass for my girlfriend's sake." In truth, even if Ray had got the better of her, he wouldn't have got much out of Saskia. She knew little more than he did. All she knew was that there had the previous night been a violent, destructive duel between two powerful superhumans that had spilled out all over the city. She knew that Valora had been one of them, that her opponent had gone on a rampage on the I-95, and that Saskia's dear Valerie had saved quite a few lives. But after that there had been no sightings - and Valerie wasn't answering her phone. Nor had she been at home when Saskia, getting seriously worried about her safety, had checked on her there. So she, like Ray and Boscoe, had heard about Rodney Burke being attacked by a superhuman, and like them had come for information. But he had only told her what he'd told the police:
"I... don't know where she is. I don't know what she wants. I just know that she was obsessed with finding Valora." So Ray's suffering at Saskia's hands had not been entirely proportional to the wrath that he had incurred: he was feeling Saskia's fear for her friend as well.

"So - pond-scum," Saskia said, feeling a little thrill as she borrowed the expression, "are you telling me who you work for, or would you like another thrashing?" Just to let him know she hadn't gone soft, she
"Alright, alright, I work for Mr Patáky!" Ray cried out, cringing. "Is that a fuckin' crime?"
"Probably," Saskia said. If this was true, then this man was probably doing what she was doing. "Why does Patáky care about Rodney Burke?"
"He doesn't!" Ray replied. "We're looking for Warg!"
"Who is 'Warg'?" Saskia asked, with another quick strike at Ray's ankle.
"OW! Jeez!" Ray clutched his ankle, only to be rewarded with another strike at his unprotected face.
"D'you know, I'm not getting a great deal more patient," Saskia explained. "Speak up, darling."
Through his fingers, Ray grimaced at her. "She's a superhuman. A fucking nutcase superhuman. She's the one who captured Valora for us, but she -"
Saskia wasn't listening to the rest of what he said. She'd stopped at the part where he said 'captured Valora'. And as her mind reeled, she dropped her guard, just as Boscoe reached around from behind her, and clamped a strong, grizzled hand over Saskia's warm, soft mouth.

"Howwmmphh?" Saskia squeaked, cold fear draining the strength and vicious aggression out of her in a second. She felt her weapon being easily plucked out of her hand and tossed aside. She felt the power of the fingers around her face, the heel of his palm and his fingertips squeezing her jaw, her cheeks, muzzling her completely. She felt her hands being pulled behind her back, felt thin, coarse ropes being entwined around her wrists, looping skilfully around her joints, before being yanked tight, her wrists crossed, her hands bound. "Mmmhhh... " Saskia intoned, ashamed of how easily she'd been ambushed, and how quickly fear had taken hold of her.

By now Ray had recovered his wits, and Saskia felt a pulse of dismay as he wrapped his arms around her long, feminine legs, snickering wickedly to himself. Saskia felt something being passed down to him, and soon cords were biting into the smooth fabric of her orange tights, lashed quickly around her ankles. At the same time, Saskia felt the soft fabric of her scarf being pulled over her lips, tight enough to seal them, gagging her and keeping her voice reduced to humiliated whimpering and mewing. Her eyes wet, Saskia looked down and away from her captors, blushing with shame. She'd thought she was prepared this time. She'd thought she'd be ready if something happened. But a piece of fabric, and two little loops of rope, and she was captured. She was helpless.

"Howwmhhphhhhhhhhh!" Saskia cried out, as she felt Ray's greedy hands grabbing at her thighs and her shoulder, scooping the tall, svelte maiden into his arms. "UMMPHH!" Saskia moaned, the paralysing shock beginning to wear off. She started struggling, kicking her legs in the air, but failing to do much more than annoy Ray.
"Hold still!" he snapped. "After the shit you did to me, you're lucky we ain't doing worse! Pretty little -"
"Hey!" Boscoe barked. "I don't want none of that shit. Got it?"
"Mrrhh," Ray grumbled. "Where's the car?"
Boscoe thumbed over his shoulder. As Saskia was carried past him, she noticed that he was the same man from before, from the hospital. The one she'd winked at. She'd had no idea he was anything to be afraid of.
"So much for my journalistic instincts," she thought, in a rather dramatic failure of her ability to use humour as a defence mechanism. She felt the hem of her dress slipping up towards her hips, felt Ray's hand giving her legs a good, firm squeeze, and all notion of humour, even internal humour, died. Valerie was in some sort of trouble, and Saskia could conceivably have helped - but she'd been caught. Tied up. Lugged about like a suitcase.

"Hey, Boscoe," Ray said, "is the car unlocked? 'Cause I don't want to be fumbling around while I'm waiting for your grizzled old ass to lumber over here." Normally Ray would have received some sort of put-down by now. "Hey, Boscoe?"
"Ray, shut the hell up," Boscoe growled. To Ray's surprise, he had drawn his gun. "We're not alone."
Ray went silent. The only thing either of them could hear were Saskia's quiet, frightened whimpers.
Boscoe did not know why he was so sure they were being watched, but he was sure. He kept his muzzle pointed at the ground: he didn't want to be surprised by some kid and end up blowing his head off. But something was definitely wrong. He felt nervous. His neck felt itchy.
"Hey, Boscoe."
"Shhhhh!!" Boscoe hissed.
And indeed, Boscoe did not hear Ray's voice again. Not exactly, anyway. He heard a kind of croaking, and then a thump. Looking round, he saw Saskia lying at Ray's feet, fearful and confused. He saw Ray pulling at his throat, like he was trying to loosen a collar that wasn't there.
"Can't... breathe!" he groaned, collapsing shakily to his knees.
Boscoe wheeled round, looking all about them for some hidden enemy. But he couldn't see one. More to the point, he began feeling an itch around his own throat. His pistol began to feel heavy in his hand. He saw something move above him, and he looked up and he saw the hidden enemy.

It was a woman. Long hair; a tight, black leotard that ran up to the top of her neck, its waist attached to a short, pleated skirt with a red trim. Long legs clad in red, thigh-high boots, flaring outwards at the knee, displaying the creamy, pale skin of her inner thigh all the way down to the tops of her calves. Adorning her face, a black mask, covering her cheeks, much of her forehead, and even her eyes, which were covered with some sort of red, one-way gauze. The mask left her nose and mouth on view, and left no doubt that she was a very beautiful woman. Her hand was extended, white teeth gritted. The sun flared behind her.
"Wh....whhhhgghhkkk..." Boscoe grunted, trying to raise his weapon. He fired, but only once. and with his pistol nowhere near the elevation needed to hit the woman who invisibly throttled him. He collapsed. For a moment after he had fallen, the pressure on his neck continued. But it relaxed before it could kill him. Not too much before, though.

Saskia too looked up at this vision who had appeared. Saw her floating gracefully down. Felt her bonds untwine themselves.
"Are you alright?" the woman asked her, in a fair, gentle voice.
"Yes," Saskia said. "Yes, I'm - fine!" She stepped away from where Ray was lying. "Thank you - thank you..." she mumbled.
"What's your name?" the woman asked.
"Saskia," the journalist replied, still very shaken, and perhaps a little afraid of this person who could strangle two burly men with her mind. "I - I don't recognise - I'm sorry, what do I call you?"
The woman hesitated. She turned slightly, looked briefly at the sun that had hidden her before. "... Hypatia," she said, throwing back her silky, red hair. Smiling, she added: "I suppose that will do." It was funny: she'd prepared a costume, a mask, all the accoutrements of superheroism - but for all that it had never occurred to Cecily before now to think of a name.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by DrMabuse »

This story is fire.

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

This story is fire.
Fire! You're too kind.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Charlie didn't want to wake up. She'd been dreaming of... something? It had been good, but - oh, fuck, she couldn't even remember anymore. Like - like, she'd been water-skiing or maybe skiing-skiing or something. It had been fun. Simple. Pleasant. She'd felt warm, even though it had been snowing. Yeaaaahhh, that was it! She had been on a mountain, zipping down it on roller skates because... y'know. Dream. And there'd been people cheering at the bottom of the slope, like she'd just won a medal, and there was music playing. She'd gone back to a cabin, even though it hadn't looked like a cabin, where a blonde woman in a soft, shimmering, skintight bodysuit had been lying on a bed waiting for her, giggling softly and stroking her own breasts, exaggeratedly huge to the point that it would have looked ridiculous in real life, but was plenty sexy in the realm of Charlie's subconscious. Charlie had looked out a window, and seen the mountain she'd just skied down.

It hadn't really looked like a mountain. It had looked more like a glacier turned on its side, looming upwards into the sky so high and so wide that it ought to have blocked out the Sun, and descending so low that Charlie hadn't been able to see the bottom, and the curve was so steep and so violent that she didn't understand how she'd been able to go down it without dying, and it was just as she began to feel that she was still on the mountain, still sliding down with ever increasing speed, unable to scream, to do anything but keep going faster and faster and faster into the depths, just as she had begun to wail, not just in her dream but in reality, a low, groaning dirge, only then that she had ripped herself out of sleep, and then remembered only the pleasant parts.

She stretched her legs, her arms. She didn't remember falling asleep. She felt like she'd been out for a long time. She checked her watch, and realised that she'd been out for nearly nine hours. It was the first time she'd slept so much at one time in... months, maybe. She stood up, stretched some more, yawned. She popped the joints at the base of her spine, cracked her knuckles one by one. She felt hungry. She looked for her bag, opened it up, pulled out a doughnut. It was a bit stale, but pretty good. She ran her hands through her hair. It felt kind of gross. She sprayed it with a bit of instant shampoo, which somewhat improved matters. It was a good thing that Maiden America's power meant she didn't sweat very much any more because otherwise - geez the stank would be real. She would -

Hang on a minute.

...

Oh, FUCK!!

Where the fuck was Valora?! Charlie had fallen asleep holding her - oh crap, oh crap! She thought she'd dosed her captive with enough drugs to make Robert Downey Jr. blush, but she must have woken up. Charlie looked around the grey room that she'd hidden in, frantically searching behind the large medical table in the middle of it, but finding nothing.
"Okay don't panic don't panic," she said, trying not to hyperventilate. She couldn't have got far - and she couldn't have got loose completely, otherwise the chains and ropes and stuff would have been on the floor next to Charlie when she woke up. And - okay maybe she would have just wanted to run away, but wouldn't she have come back with police and stuff once she was feeling stronger? No - she still had to be here, somewhere.

Charlie was right. Valerie had only woken up about fifteen minutes before her captor, and even then 'woken up' was putting it quite generously. She was still extremely dizzy, and weak, and she might easily have just faded with fluttering eyes back into slumber; but disgust had jolted her back into wakefulness. Lupus had defeated her, drugged her, tied her up, torn her clothes and molested her - but when Valerie had awoken, her captor had been... had been cuddling her, like a child with a stuffed animal. Bile, therefore, had given Valerie the strength to wriggle out of Lupus' grip.

But not much more strength than that. Slowly, haltingly, Valerie had crawled along the ground, gradually shuffling herself towards what her bleary eyes vaguely suggested to her might have been an exit. She felt her bare breasts rubbing against bare concrete, and distantly wondered where Lupus had taken her. By the time she got to a set of rickety, corrugated iron stairs, she had gathered just enough strength to begin testing her bonds.
"Mhh... mphh!" Small portions of her power returning made the absence of its lion's share all the more frustrating. She could feel the tape around her wrists and ankles beginning to creak, and strain, and she could have broken it with enough time. But the ropes? The chains? No chance. If she could just get that damned cloth away from her mouth! It had dried out a fair bit, but it was still wet, still forcing her to breathe in its narcotising fumes.

If she had been able to think completely straight, Valerie would not have felt cowardly. She needed to escape, if only to recover her strength. Even if she got herself untied she'd be so woozy that she wouldn't have a chance in another fight with Lupus. Of course it was right that she run while she had the opportunity. But she hated that she was doing it, hated that she had found Lupus in a vulnerable position and hadn't been able to wrap her hands around the bitch's throat.

Rage. Even half-asleep Valerie felt the magma bubbling up, in her stomach and her throat, that she had been reduced to - this. Bound. Half-naked. Crawling. Struggling as she always did, but without even any dignity as anaesthetic to the gnawing blackness spreading out under her feet.
"Dignity?" she thought. "What dignity? What... dignity do I have? Just... an animal... just a stupid animal... " Perhaps that was the reason that her visit to her father's house had been so painful. Learning that a quick phonecall to her stepmother would have freed her instantly from the burdens she'd been carrying. Because now she had no real reason to go out every day and inflict violence on people. She had no excuse.

It wasn't that she had ever had any objection to superheroics. She'd never wrung her hands, as others did, about the problematic implications of letting relatively untrained people go out into the world and fight crime. Never let herself worry too much about the fact that the targets of superhuman justice came, more often than not, from disadvantaged backgrounds. Nor did she have any feeling in her heart that those like her were destined for more than punching street level criminals and collecting a cheque. I mean, how else does someone use laser vision if they're trying to be a productive member of society? Valerie herself was the problem.
"You like hurting people," she thought, but it wasn't quite that. Violence did not give her pleasure, not exactly. "You... you need to vomit... need to vomit it all out... " That was closer. That's all you are. Just an animal." No. Not that either. Animals fight for territory. For food. For sex. She just did violence to - to get the anger out. Or was it even that? Was she just distracting herself from - from being so fucking miserable or -
"Oh shut up," she thought. "Shut up!" Since when had she ever been one for introspection? Since when had she ever been one for whingeing and whining and wailing about how tewwibwy sad poor ickle Valewie was? No-one gave a shit. She didn't give a shit. Be sad. Be sad! Be miserable! What's the difference? It's all the same thing.

It's all the same thing one way or the other.

So just keep crawling. Just keep crawling forward.

You might as well. You have to, really, don't you? You have to keep going because only cowards give up, right, and you can't be a coward because you're alive and you're strong and you have to keep crawling and crawling and crawling and that's shit and it remains shit and it's not going to change for anyone if you jolt yourself with a few extra milligrams of fucking dopamine so just keep going and if you can't then at least it's not your fault, but just don't ask me to look in, don't ask me to look in and have to think about it because then it won't make me better it won't help me to understand it'll just make the ugliness more obvious and vile and acid and I don't want to look at it I don't want to have to look at it so just keep crawling and crawling until you can't.

No-one understands. No-one understands that you can be bad without doing bad things. No-one understands that you can be the world's greatest hero and be rotten to your core.

And Valerie certainly wasn't the world's greatest hero.

Was she even crawling forward anymore?

No. She'd stopped. Something was holding her ankle. Someone was yelling at her.

Three guesses who.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Blx »

Love the story. The last part isnt on your DA page, correct?

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Love the story. The last part isnt on your DA page, correct?
I'm glad you're enjoying. And you're right. I upload incrementally on the forum because it just makes it easier for people to read and keep up. On DA I won't upload until I have a full, 10,000 word chapter.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by CJS »

This world keeps unfolding in a way I love, with the characters not being cardboard cutouts. Even those who are more bit players often have fears and insecurities we get a glimpse at (of course with Valerie and Lupus being the most intensely developed). I know there was a talk on these forums earlier about jumping right to the chase vs. developing the story and characters, and, it’s just my opinion, but when a writer fleshes things out as you’ve done, it makes the action that much better and meaningful.
My stories:
Sapphire Angel - Beginnings
Sapphire Angel - Power Play

Sapphire Angel website (download Beginnings in PDF, Kindle, and ePub)

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Saskia and her saviour, this 'Hypatia', quickly put a fair bit of distance between themselves and the men they'd left unconscious in that alley, not even waiting for the police to arrive. Hypatia led Saskia to an empty office building, brand new and awaiting use, rows of desks still covered in plastic sheeting.
"There," Hypatia said, her voice gentle, calming. "We'll get no interruptions here, I imagine." She kept a very neutral expression. With the mask covering her eyes and much of her face, it was all but impossible to guess at her emotions. "You said your name was Saskia Dubois, yes?" She sat down on one of the desks, crossed one leg over the other, creamy skin briefly flashing as her limbs folded over each other. She was impeccably graceful, like a pedigree cat.
"Uh, yes," Saskia said. She folded her arms, still shaken from her brief ordeal. "What were you doing - that is, I'm very grateful, but - "
"But," Hypatia said, pausing for a moment as if asking permission for her interruption to continue, "what was I doing there?"
"Yes. Well - I think I know that, actually," Saskia replied. "You were going to the hospital. You wanted to talk with Rodney Burke."
The corners of Hypatia's pretty mouth turned upwards. "That's right."
"Well, you and the rest of the world," Saskia said. She didn't smoke, but felt in dire need of a cigarette. "I had a three minute conversation with the man and now th-the entire criminal element of Portland is after me. Either I'm much too good at my job or I'm really, really shit at it."

Cecily did not immediately demand answers from this woman she'd rescued. The poor thing was obviously in some distress, and after her own experiences 'Hypatia' did not have to struggle to sympathise. She herself was glad of a little quiet: rescuing Saskia from those men had been the first time she'd used her powers on another person in some time. Her first success in even longer. Her mask itched her cheekbones, and more generally it felt strange hiding her face. She had her reasons for disguising herself, but she felt silly. You really had to be larger than life, Cecily thought, to pull that sort of thing of without seeming foolish. Like Valora had been.

"Oh, Christ!" Saskia suddenly cried out. "I - I can't believe I didn't say this immediately!" She virtually ran to Hypatia, clasped one of her hands as though in supplication. "You know Valora, yes? That's why you're here?"
"Well I - I'm sorry?" Valora? What the hell did Valora have to do with this? "You mean Valora is here? In Portland?"
Saskia looked mystified. "Yes. Didn't - I assumed you were her friend, or ally, or - I don't know whatever superheroes call it. Aren't you looking for her?"
"No," Hypatia replied. "Saskia, I came here looking for a woman named Lupus. She... " She withdrew her hand from Saskia's grip. "She hurt me, and someone I - and two very dear friends of mine. I intend to bring her to justice. But if Valora is here..." The two of them hadn't parted on exactly amicable terms, but not inimical ones either. She could probably be persuaded to help. And with Valora, Cecily's mission would become infinitely more achievable.
"I'm beginning to suspect," Saskia said, with growing irritation, "that the two of us are speaking at cross purposes. It's Valora that I'm looking for, not this Lupus person. I know she was in a battle last night - a battle with someone who seemed to be able to match her. And now those men who attacked me have said that someone has captured her."

Hypatia stood. She turned her back on Saskia, clasping her hands behind her.
"That's why she came here," she muttered. She seemed calm enough, but when Saskia looked closer, she saw that the heroine's gloved hands were gripping each other with what must have been excruciating tightness. "Saskia," Hypatia said, "am I right in assuming that you and Valora are friends?"
"I'd like to think so, yes."
"Then your friend is in very serious danger. The woman I'm looking for is one of the few people who can match Valora's power. It is more than possible that she'd be able to take Valora prisoner."
"So if this Lupus person has taken Valora... what's she going to do with her?"
"I... don't know," Cecily said. "Her motivation may simply be to defeat Valora simply for the sake of defeating her. She may have been hired to -"
" - to kill her." Saskia's stomach clenched. A vague picture began to form in her mind of what was happening. Valora had been obliterating Milo Patáky's drug operations in Portland, and he'd hired Lupus to kill her. But something had gone wrong. Patáky had been betrayed, or something. Lupus was extorting him or blackmailing him, or something. "Can you help her?" Saskia asked.
"I will certainly try," Hypatia replied. "But first, please tell me everything you know."

Saskia did. She left out that she knew Valerie's real identity, simply saying that Valora had rescued her from Oleander. But everything else she kept, about Patáky, about Valora's relentless campaign against him - and what Rodney Burke had told her about his tormentor.
"He said the woman who attacked him was deranged," she explained. "Black armour. Terrifying strength. Called herself 'Tony', apparently. She kept laughing like a maniac and calling him a 'shitheel'. Once she'd lured Valora to wherever it was she was luring her, she seemed to forget all about him, and once his attacker ran off, he escaped and called the police. It didn't seem to him like she'd thought about what to do with him once he ."
"That certainly sounds like Lupus," Hypatia replied, though she seemed conscious not to say too much. "Did he say anything else?"
"About Lupus? No. No, nothing, I'm sorry." In any other situation this would have been a dream come true for Saskia. Another beautiful superhuman: mysterious, glamorous, elegant. Positively brimming with secrets. Another jolt of magic into the grey pallor of this corner of the world. Yet, although you could bet her editor would be seeing something based on all this 'ere long, this didn't feel like a hot scoop. She wasn't a war correspondent: she wasn't used to putting herself into physical danger. Nor was the prospect of her friend coming to harm anything but stressful and frightening.

But it wasn't just that. It was the notion that Valerie - her beautiful, magnificent Valerie - had been vanquished, and captured. Saskia had a vivid image of her in her mind, facing down those gangsters who'd come to kill James Oleander, standing strong as they pelted her with bullets. She was mighty, dauntless, unbowed. But she was such an unhappy person! For her to be beaten - couldn't she at least have been left with her pride? What worse thing could there have been for someone so proud than to be humiliated? Saskia had never met Lupus, but she didn't need to. For what she had done, what it seemed she had done anyway, she had already earned Saskia's detestation. There had to be some way she could be fought.

"You've got some history with this woman, haven't you?" Saskia asked. Her light-brown eyes were wide, their edges tensed, her pupils focused to pinpricks.
Hypatia nodded.
"Is she intelligent?"
Hypatia almost seemed as though she were going to laugh. "One doesn't wish to be mean-spirited, but... no, she's not. In fact," Hypatia said, realising that there was hardly any need to be polite about Lupus, "she's really rather stupid."
"Well Mr. Burke couldn't remember exactly where he was held," Saskia said, "but when the police found him he was near the corner of Danforth and Parke. Now, a clever criminal - a half clever criminal - would probably hide their second hostage somewhere on the complete opposite side of town. But this woman? I bet she didn't. In fact I'd go so far as to say she's probably in the exact same place."

Of course she was. Rodney Burke had probably put it perfectly - as soon as she was finished with him, she had probably completely forgotten his existence. Cecily sprang up, trying to focus on her resolution to find and subdue Lupus, rather than her fear of her stolen power.
"Saskia," she said, "if this leads to Lupus' capture, I will - I will be very grateful."
"I'm sure your gratitude is very valuable," Saskia replied, "but I'd rather have my friend rescued."
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"No, no, no!" Charlie leapt upon Valora like a jackal. She spun her over, straddled her, pinned her tight against the corrugated stairs she'd begun to crawl up. Relieved as much as she was angry, she found that she was smiling. Valora lay beneath her, wriggling slowly, frowning, her eyebrows crinkled so cutely as she tried to look tough. "You're going nowhere. Get me?"
Valora looked back at her captor with as much fury as she could muster, but Charlie only laughed.
"Aww, see you're trying to look all tough, but I see - you - blushing!" Charlie giggled. "You must feel like shit right now, huh?" She squeezed Valora's fine jaw, her smooth, crimsoned cheeks. "See, I admit I fucked up real bad, falling asleep like that. God, that was dumb! That was definitely your best shot at escaping. If you'd been a little faster... a little stronger... you'd have got away." She spread her fingers over Valora's sternum, her collarbones, her smooth, warm, supple neck. "But you're still my prisoner. Still my captive. My sexy little prize for being such a big badass. Well," she added, grabbing a greedy handful of Valora's bosom, "not so little. But my sexy, busty-ass prize... hasn't been behaving!"

Valerie's world spun. Or rather, she spun, as Lupus flipped her over, pushing her bare chest against the cold metal of the staircase. Roughly Lupus seized her, and through her weakened, sleepy haze Valerie cried out as Lupus smacked her hard on her backside, punishing her prisoner's failed rebellion, spanking her like a disobedient slave-girl, shrieking with pleasure every time her palm stung Valerie's shapely, somnolently gyrating ass.
"Ummhhphh... hhmmhhhhhffff..." Valerie panted, feeling herself being allowed to slump forward, still too weak even to hold herself up. She felt a relaxation of the pressure around her mouth, and thought that Lupus was taking off her gag. And she was - but only briefly. Instead of using it to cover her mouth and nose, Lupus twisted it, pulled it between Valerie's lips, cleave-gagging her and pulling her back like a bridled mare. "Nghhh... hhnnhghhhh!" Valerie groaned, the cloth uncomfortable and bitter in her mouth. Her back forced to arch, she bucked and struggled, but it only seemed to make Lupus enjoy it more. Valerie felt her captor's hot breath by her ear, felt her hand reach round to grasp and fondle her sumptuous, vulnerable breasts.
"Yeah, baby," Lupus half-whispered, "you're so fucked... you're so fucked..." She knotted the gag as tightly as she could, and as she drew the fingers of one hand in concentric circles around the circumference of Valerie's breasts, with her other hand she rubbed and stroked and teasingly pinched Valerie's wet, pillowy lips. "You know it, don't you?" Lupus moaned, "You know I got you... know I kidnapped you... that's why you're not laughing anymore!"
"Nhhhgh-hnnfff!" Valerie felt her anger sinking into a kind of wrathful despair. She was nearer to wakefulness now than she had been at any time since her capture, but she was still impotent. She felt the chains pulling against her, felt the tension in her legs and her shoulders that shouted at her how completely those bonds held her prisoner. Pointless as they were, her struggles were making her skin hot, and she felt a droplet of sweat running down her taut, smooth neck. It trickled slowly down to the channel between her naked breasts - until Lupus' rough caresses swept it away. Valerie felt her shoulders grabbed, pulled back; she squirmed as she felt Lupus' tongue stroking her neck, her jaw, her cheek. This was disgusting enough to make her fury flash hot again, and she tried to turn her head: she was still gagged, but her mouth wasn't completely covered anymore, and she wanted to spit in Lupus' face. But she couldn't: Lupus' tongue was enough to overpower the muscles of Valerie's neck. Lupus felt this, and laughed, and shoved Valerie forward onto the stairs. She fell, softly. She fell, helpless.

Valerie felt her captor's fingers teasing the backs of her thighs, shooting upwards and squeezing her round, womanly rear, rubbing and working her flawless flesh, soft and tight and curvy all at once. Valerie struggled, but it wasn't just that her struggles were useless, but that whenever she moved, Lupus would pull her to exaggerate and accentuate her movements. Valerie was embarrassed by her failure to escape, and her heart was heavy, and it was difficult in the extreme to keep fighting.

A flush of hot, humiliated shame washed through her: bile and vicious despair had been holding those sorts of feelings back, but Valerie's endurance was strained. She heard Lupus' lusty sighs, could smell her captor's raw, sexual, animal pleasure at having Valerie squirming. The bound hero felt a sudden, repulsive awareness of her own attractiveness, of how much delight Lupus was drawing from it. She knew full well just how gorgeous she was: golden-haired, long-legged, curvaceous, feminine - and so on and so on. She liked her body, normally. She revelled in it, more than she did her powers, because she liked sex and she liked being able to get it basically whenever she wanted. But now it was bound - roped and chained so strict and tight, and she hated the feeling but she knew it made her look even lovelier, drew microscopic attention to every curve and contour, screamed out Valerie's extraordinary beauty with a voice like nails on a chalkboard. And though Valerie herself didn't get one ounce of pleasure from what was happening to her, it was like her body had been... sexually charged, like an overloaded circuit. So when, in her artless groping, Lupus accidentally did something that Valerie normally liked - rubbing her thumbs up Valerie's lower back; stroking or kissing the backs of her knees; pulling her hair - physiologically Valerie could not stop herself from reacting. Much in the same way that a dentist's drill feels as though it should be agonising, but isn't, there was an uncomfortable disharmony between how Valerie felt and how her body seemed to want her to feel.

Charlie felt no disharmony at all. Valora was hers, and the pleasure Charlie got from that was simple. Pure. Whatever misery had crept into her psyche before, she banished it now. Desperately chasing the high, she took Valora by her hips, tossed her upwards, catching her in the crook of her neck and her right shoulder. She hooked her arm around Valora's waist, holding the squirming blonde in a rather unusual position: facing upwards, her legs dangling forward, her rear almost pressing into Charlie's chest, her satin-clad legs dangling all the way down almost to Charlie's knees, the tension of her position keeping her thighs quite straight, leaving her calves bouncing lightly. Her back arched, her neck arched further, golden hair cascading downwards, her face not quite parallel with Lupus' back. The effect was rather like that of a ballet dancer letting herself fall backwards, caught by her partner, holding her body tense, but supine. Sensing this, or partly sensing it, or maybe not noticing one way or another, Charlie laughed, and spun herself around a few times, spinning Valora along with her.

She carried her writhing burden back to the other room, with the long, flat, white table, and the bags of stuff that Charlie had looted before coming here.
"I cannot fucking believe," Charlie said, "that you would try to escape when the accommodations are so generous! Really, Val, I think you're kind of ungrateful, huh? After I invited you into my, uh, abode - saved your god damned life, remember? And you try to reject my hospitality 'cause I tied you up and squeezed your tits a little. Geez."
"Mrgnnghhhff!" Valora groaned, straining weakly against her bonds.

"Oh no," Charlie crowed, tightening her grip around Valora's waist, and gliding her other hand the whole way down her captive's legs, "those pretty pins feeling a little stronger? Getting all wriggly?" She lifted Valora off her shoulder, held her close, pushed her away, pulled her close again and then shoved her up against the nearest wall. "Well? Do you think you can like, stand up now?"
Despite Charlie's mockery, Valora did manage to stay standing. Her legs trembled, and she seemed to be having difficulty keeping her head up, but she seemed just about able to stand with Charlie's help.
"Incredible," Charlie laughed. "Just what I'd expect from the mighty Valora. You can stand on your own two feet like a good little American!" She grinned. "I want you to fucking remember this, you pompous motherfucker. Even if you get out of this with your life, I want you to fucking remember every sweet little thing I did to you."

She'd had more to say, none of it of any earth-shattering significance, but it slipped from her mind. For Valora had fixed her with eyes boiling with terrible fury, eyes that seemed as though they were trying to burn her up through sheer force of will. There was a loud, aching groan - but not from Valora herself. It was from her chains. Their links strained and warped and, as Valora's mighty limbs broke the tape and cord that bound them and as the golden-haired warrior screamed with effort, finally snapped. With one hand, Valora tore the gag from her mouth, and with the other she punched Charlie in the face as hard as she could.
"Remember... " Valora repeated. "Oh, I'll... fucking... remember!"

Throwing her gag to the ground and shaking the torn chains and cords from her body, Valerie slouched towards Lupus, panting and gasping, trying to keep herself as awake as she could. Lupus lay on the ground, stunned, and if Valerie could just get close enough to knock her completely unconscious, to finish her off - ! She loomed over her enemy, raising both fists above her head, desperate to maintain her advantage. But as Valerie got closer, it became perfectly clear that there was no advantage to maintain.

Lupus was smiling. Her hands were folded in her lap, her fingers strumming together to an unheard beat. Valerie had regained enough strength to move her - but nowhere near enough to hurt her.
"This is too good," Lupus giggled. "You're all serious and shit, but you are just so much fucking fun to be around!" She sprang lightly to her feet, easily dodging a clumsy blow from Valerie. She laughed, and shivered, rubbing her hands over her own trim figure, and ducking underneath another slow, artless attack. "I mean, if I were you, I'd be like... mortified. You got untied and you still can't do shit." She dropped back a few steps, scooped something up from the ground. "Well guess what, Val - it's about to get a whole lot worse." She made no attempt to hide what she was holding. It was a rubber face-mask, attached to a short hose, which was in turn attached to a holder for a small, metal cylinder. An anaesthetic gas mask. Valerie's face fell, and Lupus smirked.
"What can I say?" she said. "I ran out of chloroform."
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Femina
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Femina »

Great chapter! Excellent display of past events serving as proper set up for where this finale seems to be heading with both Lupus and Valora's pasts approaching their current situation for different reasons, and Valora's plight has never been sexier for the moment to moment enjoyment.

One wonders how Valora is going to come to terms and cope with this. Awaiting the next bit with baited breath!

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

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Valerie's eyes couldn't keep up with the speed of Lupus' pounce. Before she knew it Lupus' hands were curled around her upper arms, and she was being pushed up against a hard, grey wall.
"Off... get your filthy hands off!" Valerie groaned, struggling and kicking and even headbutting. Her blows were strong enough to break the bone of a normal human, and cracks were appearing in the wall behind her when she happened to strike it. But these blows were little more than bumps to Lupus, who ground herself against her captive, laughing cruelly at her. Mocked, and with no other weapons available to her, Valerie spat in her captor's face.
For a second, as the drop of spittle slapped into Lupus' face, just below her right eye, it looked to Valora as though she had got the reaction she'd wanted. Lupus jolted, and recoiled slightly. But if it had raised her ire, she concealed it very well, and a slow, snarling smile appeared on her face. She let the spittle slide down her cheek, and onto her lips.
"Oh, Valora," she said, "if you wanted me to taste your saliva so much, why didn't you say so?" She grabbed Valora's wrists, yanked them above her head, and greedily kissed her.
"MMHHHH! MNNNGGHHHH!!" Valerie cried as Lupus' tongue invaded her mouth, suppressing her own tongue, exploring and caressing as Valerie bucked, unable even to pull her head away. She felt the material of Lupus' armour against her breasts and thighs, felt the vicegrip around her wrists, felt her powers failing utterly to protect her. More than that: betraying her. Lupus' strength was her strength after all, her own power turned against her to defeat her, to shackle and humiliate her. Her feelings about her powers were not always positive, but now she felt a distinct and personal hatred for it, just like the feeling of a ship's captain towards a traitor.

Lupus broke the kiss, but only to give a half-playful, vampiric bite to Valerie's smooth neck, before kissing her again. She pulled away; Valerie tried to breathe but again her captor struck. A clear mask shoved over her mouth and nose, and Valerie tried to move away, but couldn't, couldn't fight, couldn't get away, couldn't anything. The nozzle turned, and there was a hiss, and a rush, and brief cold on her lips. Valerie shook her head and moaned "No, no, no!", only half muzzled by the mask, and Lupus mocked and mimicked her cries. With one hand she held the mask; with the other she held the top of Valerie's head and forced her face forward, forced her to breathe in the anaesthetic halothane. Valerie's arms were briefly free, and she grasped Lupus' wrist with both hands, trying to pull it away, but she just... couldn't. The gas had a numbing taste, and its effects spread through her like a cold fog. It was not like the hot, stifling blanket of chloroform. This was like a thundercloud rolling through a city, its static steadily winking out the lights in every building, one after another, after another, until all was dark; silent. It took the strength out of her legs first, and the proud warrior felt herself going girlishly pigeon-toed, her sumptuous thighs rubbing softly against each other, her calves splayed out to the sides
"Too weak..." she thought. It was not a novel refrain for someone in her position. Truly, it had been the thought of many captive heroines when their powers failed them and they fell or failed, or were overpowered or ambushed, and taken prisoner as Valerie had been. But from Valerie this was not meek, dismayed lamentation. This was wrathful, hateful self-recrimination. If she had been nothing else, she had been strong, and now she wasn't even that.

Charlie watched Valora's fierce, pale-blue eyes fading, losing focus. Watched her chest rise and fall, slower, and deeper. Saw her lovely face, full of humiliated rage, subsiding into blank, narcotised tameness. Back to being Charlie's captive. Back to being her soft, voluptuous damsel.
"Keep breathing, babydoll," Charlie crowed, "just relax... just relax... just - just get real fucking sleepy, alright?" She watched Valerie's precious, hoarded, slowly reclaimed strength slipping like quicksilver through her fingers.
"No... no... noohhh... hhnn..." The gas overcome the voluptuous maiden quickly. Her bare, shapely shoulders, glistening with perspiration, sagged. Her head lolled slightly. Her grip on Charlie's wrist relaxed, until she was not so much grabbing Charlie's arm as she was gently, sweetly stroking it. Soon, she could not do even that, and her arms dropped to her sides, swinging soft and loose, stopping entirely after a short few seconds. Her protests were, soon enough, not even protests.

Sinking, and sinking, and sinking Valerie felt the 'lights' switching off in mind as well as body. She felt herself going limp, her whole body floating obediently into Lupus' grasp. Her mind was fading too, into a blank, white static. She couldn't plan, couldn't think, couldn't feel. Other than a lingering, almost unconscious sense of defeat, her mind was being rapidly emptied. Her eyes were rolling slowly back, in rhythm with the soft gyrating of her head and her chest.
"Have... to... " But even in her thoughts she could not finish the sentence, could not remember what she 'had to' do.

Perhaps that was it. Perhaps, after all this time, she did not 'have to' do anything.

But blankness and darkness were not allowed to be her refuge. As Valerie's eyelids fluttered, and she was about to fall completely unconscious, Lupus took the mask away, dropped it to the ground.
"No, no, no," Lupus said, her voice breathy with the nearest thing she had to passion. She held Valerie up by her shoulders, letting her captive's head flop against her neck. "You don't get to pass out," she whispered in Valerie's ear. "That's no good, huh? I mean, don't get me wrong, sweetie," she said, punctuating almost every other word by kissing Valerie's neck, "I had so much fun with you when you were knocked out before... feeling you up when you couldn't do shit about it... but after a certain point you get sick of playing solitaire, yeah?" She pressed her body against Valerie's in a steadily quickening rhythm, her panting beginning to curdle in her throat, warping into a lascivious, canine growl. "I don't just want to use you," she said. "I want this to be a relationship!" Then, she started tearing.

With vicious, snarling lust Lupus began clawing at Valerie's clothes, tearing pieces of her already broken leotard from Valerie's hips and midriff, from her shapely, limp arms, her back, her crotch. She ripped it to pieces, leaving nothing but scraps of blue fabric on the floor, and leaving Valerie's gloves as the only pieces of clothing she had on above her waist, until Lupus yanked those off too.
"Wh... no... " Valerie whimpered, watching herself being stripped. "D... don't... " It was not her modesty she was lamenting, however: as she watched her azure warrant being ripped apart, in her weakened, drowsy state she was just worried that she'd never be able to afford a replacement.

Lupus didn't stop. She curled her fingers around the material of Valerie's tights, and started tearing them from Valerie's body, denuding her waist, her backside, her long, curvaceous legs. It was so absurdly easy for Lupus to tear the satin that it felt more like wiping spilled liquid from a table than actually ripping something. As more and more of Valerie's lower body was revealed, Lupus began grunting with lust, dropping to her knees and ravenously kissing Valerie's smooth, peach-soft thighs, pushing them together with both hands and running her tongue up both of them at once.
"Mh..." Valerie mewed, her bare legs tingling from the touch of Lupus' warm tongue, her unblemished skin treacherously sensitive. The sensation only intensified when Lupus brushed her nose lightly against Valerie's womanhood. She kissed it through Valerie's panties, making captor and captive both shiver.
Valerie whimpered, blushed, and her head lolled forward. She watched Lupus slowly unzipping her boots, unsheathing her feet and her supple, shapely calves. She kept expecting to fall, to faint, but Lupus wouldn't let her, had kept her in this twilight of wakefulness where she could perceive everything that her captor was doing to her, but couldn't even really think about fighting back. Lupus was kneeling in front of her, peeling off the last, tenacious scraps of Valerie's tights. She saw that Valerie was looking down at her, blue eyes all hazy, unfocused and forlorn. She looked back up and smiled. And then she tore Valerie's panties off with her teeth.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

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"Oh my god. Oh my fucking god." Charlie stood up. She gave a gleeful little hop, and covered up her mouth. She couldn't believe what she was looking at: Valora, stripped completely naked. Every inch of her gloriously beautiful body completely exposed, completely vulnerable. Her legs, her hips, her midriff, her shoulders, her gorgeous, voluminous breasts; even the soft, light-brown patch of fur between her moist, quivering thighs - all naked. And Valora herself. Panting. Doe-eyed. Helpless. Dominated. Charlie hadn't just stripped away her clothes, but her strength, her pride, her power. It wasn't just because she was heavily sedated - yeah - Valora knew she'd been fucking conquered. She was so valiant and lovely, like a valkyrie with her warrior spirit, her queenly, fierce countenance and her flowing golden hair - but fallen. To make her own victory all the sweeter, to make her own lust all the more intense, and her captive's fall all the more catastrophic, Charlie magnified her victim in her mind, many, many times over. Yes, she was truly powerful, and very, very attractive - but in Charlie's mind Valora was elevated to the level of something divine, for her nakedness was not shameful but... pure. She was fair and gold and, at her mouth, red, and she sighed softly and innocently in the face of Charlie's lust and power.

Charlie sprang upon Valerie, muttering a melange of insult and ironic compliment that blended into a mush even she herself couldn't really keep track of. She was paying much more attention to her hands than her voice. With both hands she grasped Valerie's breasts, kneading them as her fingers tried and failed the wrap around their entire circumference. Charlie's hands shot up to Valora's shoulders, closed around them. Then, just as quickly, her hands travelled down the sumptuous contours of Valora's helpless body, down her torso, her waist, her hips; reaching around to squeeze her womanly rear, then dancing back down her legs, long and feminine and sweet-smelling and naked. To Charlie's ravenous psyche, Valora was womanhood, and Charlie was as much kneeling in worship to this captive idol as she was bending it to her whims.
"Nhh... noohh... " Valerie mewed, distantly aware and distantly ashamed of her nakedness. She felt Lupus touching her, everywhere. Kissing her, everywhere. She felt Lupus' hand clasping hers as though in mutual affection, felt lips against her lips, and Lupus' touch caressing her long, golden hair. Lupus whispered in her ear, and Valerie heard 'beautiful', 'amazing' and 'perfect' as often as she heard 'bitch', 'bimbo', and 'fuck-up'.

With a kind of vicious, possessive tenderness, Charlie embraced Valora, lifting her into her arms, scooping her up, grasping her by her thighs and her shoulders, letting Valora sink into her grip. The captive maiden was suspended in the air, gently settling against her captor's body like it was their wedding night. She was as light as a silver cloud, but far fairer. Naked and limp, she lay obediently in her captor's grasp, eyes fluttering, bare breasts slowly cresting and falling as she breathed. One arm lay across her stomach, the other hanging loose, pointing towards the ground. Her thighs were pushed together by the grip of Charlie's fingers, her calves dangling, bouncing slightly whenever Charlie took a step. Valora's eyes remained open, just about, but her neck bent back over the fulcrum of Lupus' forearm, golden hair flowing downwards; smooth throat exposed and vulnerable. Charlie could see Valora's pulse in her neck, throbbing her lifeblood through her, carrying to every shapely corner of her body not only oxygen, but the halothane that kept her sleepy, and tame, and soft.

Charlie looked down at the sumptuous burden that she bore so lightly. She tilted her neck up, to make sure that Valora was able to look at her. Half-closed, blue eyes stared up at her, and Charlie began to imagine a sultriness in Valora's gaze that was not really there, that her somnolent writhing was more sensuous than it was. But the surge of desire Charlie felt wasn't motivated just by her imagination: Valora was tall, and curvaceous and fair; every inch of her beauty naked to her abductor's eyes and touch; her fluttering eyes and soft moans broadcasting a single, clear message: "You've defeated me... "

Charlie took Valora to the object in the centre of the room, the whole reason she'd chosen this place as her hideout to begin with. It was a flat, white slab, the kind you'd get in a surgery or a laboratory, maybe. Once, long ago, this had been where a mob doctor had pulled bullets out of unlucky gangsters, and disposed of the occasional body in the occasional acid bath. Most of the accoutrements of his grim work were long gone now, as was the doctor himself, but enough rumour had persisted in Portland's underworld to worm its way to Charlie's ears. She laid Valora flat on top of it, laying her arms at her sides, pushing her warm, smooth legs up against each other. There were slots cut into the table, right next to Valora's body, and through them Charlie began to feed through a set of thick, black belts.

"Wh... ?" Valerie felt something rubbing her arm, just under her left shoulder, and lifted her head slightly to see Lupus pulling a belt across her chest, just underneath her collarbones. It looped over the other side of her, and down a notch next to Valerie's right shoulder. She heard Lupus fiddling with something, and then gasped as the belt suddenly tightened, pressing her upper arms inward against her torso, and pressing Valerie down against the slab. In her bleary, semi-conscious state, she didn't quite get what was happening until she felt a second belt pulled across her, this time at the level of her elbows, pressing down across her lower ribs, pulling her arms tighter inward. Between the first and second strap, Valerie felt her ample bosoms squeezed and accentuated, rubbing against the straps with every breath she took. Embarrassed at the sensation, Valerie tried again to free herself from it, but she just didn't have the strength.
"More... bonds... " she realised. "More bonds I can't... break... "

Valerie couldn't lift her head high enough to see the third strap, and had to let her head fall back in yet another defeat. But she could feel it, feel it rubbing against her right wrist, then just below her navel, then her left wrist, pulling tight and locking her arms securely against her sides. She heard Lupus giggling, and felt her captor's hands suppressing the feeble movement of her legs. Valerie felt her thighs being kissed, first by Lupus' lips, and then by the forceful bite of another strap. It not only fixed her thighs together, but pressed into them, their softness allowing the strap to make a slight indentation into her flesh. Lupus tugged on them, to get them a little higher up on Valerie's thighs, before pulling another belt through the slots on the table, almost exactly across and around her captive's knees, locking them down, not only binding Valerie's long legs together, but . Valerie felt Lupus' index fingers tracing the lines of her tibiae, slowly, all the way down to her feet. She planted two delicate kisses - delicate by Lupus' standards, anyway - on Valerie's ankles. Then she grabbed, them, forced them together, and tied them down.

From head to foot Valerie was mercilessly restrained, thick black straps trapping and squeezing and binding her flawless, helpless body. Her arms were forced into line with the contours of her torso, her palms flat against her hips. The drug Lupus had forced on her had left her all but paralysed, but the belts forced her legs against each other so tightly that her muscles looked tensed. And even that wasn't good enough for Lupus, who spent the next few minutes pulling each strap so hard that they would have been doing serious harm to any captive other than Valerie. Her beauty remained stainless, her powers nothing more now than a preservative; to keep her pretty for Lupus' enjoyment.

Charlie stood back, absorbing the sight of Valora strapped down, powerless and naked. Ironically enough it was only now that Valora was lying down that she realised how tall she was, how long her legs and her smooth back were. Statuesque! That was the word for it. There was a solidity in her height, an inherent strength in the quality of her beauty. It made her bondage all the more delicious. She writhed with such slow, deliberate sensuality, so clearly overmatched by nothing more than a few leather straps. But as somnolent and sexy as her pathetic little wriggles were, they were just a little too vigorous for Charlie's liking.

Tracing her hand over Valora's contours as she walked, Charlie moved towards Valora's head, until her fingers reached Valora's plump, red lips. At first her fingers were just stroking Valerie's mouth, but slowly her fingers spread over it until she was muffling her captive with vicious strength.
"Mh... mh... " Valerie mewed, stifled and muzzled by Lupus' powerful grip, her hand hot from Valerie's breath. Her captivity felt different now: stripped naked and strapped down with leather - she understood the significance of Lupus gagging her with her hand: she was trying to dominate her.

"Oh, baby," Lupus said, "you make me so happy." Her tone was soft, affectionate, and though dripping with mocking irony, there was a sort of genuine hush mixed into it. "I - " Her face twitched, and Valerie felt her fingers curl. "I know I can't keep this up forever," she said, a little subdued. But, as if catching herself, she snarled, jerked her face forward right to Valerie's and tightened her grip on her captive's mouth. "But I beat you," she hissed. She removed her hand and with a manic energy she kissed Valerie passionately on the lips, the weakened maiden utterly powerless to resist her. "You're beautiful," she whispered, coming up for air, cheeks aflame with passion. "The most beautiful thing," Lupus said, coming up for air, "I've ever seen in my god damned life." She dipped back, kissed Vaerie again, broke again. "And you're mine. I won you." Down again. Up again. Vigorously, frantically fondling her chest and shoulders. "I fucking won you, Valora. And I'm gonna enjoy my prize for as long as I fucking can!"

As Valerie reeled from Lupus' sensual onslaught, disturbed and disgusted by the twisted sincerity of her compliments, Lupus ducked down beneath the slab, started fiddling with something. When she reappeared, Valerie wasn't able to turn her head in time, before Lupus grabbed her chin, and forced something over her mouth and nose.
"Nohhh... st... stop it... " Valerie moaned, almost despite herself. There was a part of her that didn't see any reason not to just lie there and take whatever Lupus did to her. She was helpless. Why bother continuing to resist? It was completely futile. But she couldn't help struggling. Couldn't have writhing weakly in her bonds as Lupus fixed the thick, plastic mask over her mouth, securing it with an elastic strap. Couldn't help summoning a quantum of strength when she felt the gas surge through the nozzle that connected to a large gas canister at her side.
"Don't worry, baby," Lupus said, resting her hand on Valerie's bare chest. "It won't knock you out, I don't think. It'll just keep you niiiiiice and drowsy."
"No... no, I... I.. uunh... hhhnn... " Lupus appeared to have been right. Valerie felt herself sinking right to the very edge of consciousness, but not quite slipping over it.
"That's it, babydoll," Lupus cooed, softly stroking Valerie's long, golden hair. "Breathe... breathe... breathe... just get real fucking tired... and lie back, okay?"
"Oh... ohhhn... ohhhhhhnn... " Pride or not, rage or not, resistance or not, chemistry was chemistry. Valerie could not help but obey. She stopped struggling and, in the mist of drugged sleep that Lupus had closed around her like a vice, she yielded entirely.

Charlie exploded onto her. Like a woman possessed her hands lunged over every corner of Valora, squeezing and fondling and stroking, pushing and caressing and pulling, first devoting near-worshipful attention to Valora's ample bosom, then tracing down over her stomach, then zipping down to her long, naked legs and shooting up and down, up and down, gripping and clutching and grabbing, and then abandoning her hands entirely to kiss them, for Lupus' mouth to stake her claim on every perfect square-inch of Valora's skin. But that wasn't enough. Half of her captive was out of her reach, and that couldn't stand.

So, carefully, Charlie took Valora by the right hip, and began turning her, slowly, making sure that she was still held in place by the straps, rotating the drowsy damsel until she was lying on her front, her breasts pressing into the slab, her back and her round, shapely backside exposed to Charlie's lasciviousness. The straps still held, still pinned Valora's limbs just as tightly, after a few minor readjustments.
"Mmmmmmhhh!" Charlie grunted, looking at the sight of her captive, face down and naked and absolute in her vulnerability, biting her bottom lip so hard she almost drew her own blood. Her hands thrust back down, touching all the parts she'd been denied access to before, kissing the backs of Valora's calves and thighs with furious intensity. She groped greedily at Valora's womanly rear, groping and working and rubbing it as she felt electric pleasure building up in herself. She drew her hand back and spanked her prone conquest, hearing only the meekest, most simpering of whimpers from her pretty, gagged mouth as the impact rushed up her body.
"Oh yeah," Charlie moaned, spanking her again, "that's my good girl, huh? You just lie there and you fucking take it!" She spanked her again and again until even her own hand stung, and until her own thighs buzzed with pleasure. She could not tire, but she felt an overwhelmed sensation that was akin to breathlessness, and pulsing with overstimulation, she momentarily backed off. She breathed. She watched. She heard a noise, and her head snapped towards the room's door - but she really couldn't focus on that.

Back to her captive, back up her spine, up to her smooth, bare shoulders. She wrapped her hands possessively around them, squeezing and securing and rubbing them, enjoying the feeling of the strength in them, strength that she could so easily stifle.
"You've been such a good girl," Charlie whispered in Valora's ear, no longer sure if she was even awake or not, "that I think you deserve a little reward." She spread her fingers over Valora's shoulders - and she began to massage them. That is really massaging them, thumbs digging into Valora's shoulder blades, pressing tension out of her even as she pushed humiliation into her. In another situation Valora might even have really enjoyed it: she'd never met someone else with the strength really to work her muscles and give her a proper massage before; and, wouldn't you know it, Charlie was actually a pretty good masseuse. As it was, the small pleasure Valora did find her body experiencing just felt obscene.

"You are just - I mean, Jesus fucking Christ," Charlie said, but she wasn't even really talking to Valora at this point. She was transfixed - hypnotised by Valora's loveliness, her hands exploring her captive's naked body almost reverently. She spun her back over, this time not even bothering to check the security of her bonds. There was another noise near the entrance of the room, but this time Charlie didn't even notice it. She slung herself on top of Valerie, kneeling on either side of her hips, dipping down to kiss her damsel's navel, gently tickling Valora with her tongue. She felt Valora shifting a little in response, and laughed.
"Do you know," she whispered, with an insidious darkness, "what I figured out?" She kissed Valora's navel again, felt her reacting again. She'd found something the blonde liked, it seemed. "I figured out that I'm better than you. And I don't just mean in battle or whatever. I mean, like... morally better. See, I know I'm a big bad guy and everything - just look at what I'm doing to you, right? But I saved your life. I could have let you die, and I didn't. But when we fought before, you were - man you were wild at first. I thought you were gonna kill me - and you were gonna, weren't you? If you'd won, I'd be dead. So I'm better than you."
To this Valora did not appear to react. But Charlie had said her say, so she returned to her depredations, unaware that her words were ringing loud and hard and agonising in Valora's ears. But Charlie had already lost interest in her comment. She slid her tongue up the blonde's abdomen, with every intention of going right the way up to the gorgeous, womanly mounds of her captive's breasts -

- until she licked one of the belts by mistake, grossed herself out, and thoroughly, explosively harshed her own vibe.

"Ew! Fucking, ew, oh my fucking god!" She jumped off Valora, actually wiped her tongue with her hand. "Jesus! What, do they soak that shit in turpentine before they sell it you? Fuck me." She folded her arms, huffed. "Okay so, I get they treat it with chemicals and shit so it's not gonna be, like, a fine culinary experience or whatever, but - isn't leather made of cow? Well how come it doesn't taste like beef jerky? It's fucking bullshit, I -

- okay, what the hell is that?"

Somewhat snapped out of her lustful trance, she finally took notice of that sound that had been coming from the door to the room. It was almost certainly nothing, but she couldn't bring herself to ignore it anymore. You know what? She almost hoped someone had found her. One of Patáky's guys. Someone she could just fucking clobber. If it was a cop, that would be less fun, but... eh, she'd make do. With something at least vaguely resembling caution, she began approaching the door.

Ooh, maybe it was that one guy Patáky had had with him, the really hot one. Jimmy, or Jansport or whatever. She was maybe a little more into women than men, but fuck it, Jansport was hawt. And hey, she still had plenty of restraints: she'd have no problem having a bit of fun with him too.

She reached the door, opened it. Wary, she looked back at Valora. She still lay helpless on her slab.
"Hrrm," she grumbled, and looked through. She saw nothing. Just the stairs that Valora had tried to use to escape before, and the half-boarded up door at the top of it. Nothing else. She was about to go back inside, when she heard that noise again. A sort of metallic clanging or ringing. It was close to her, but she couldn't tell where it was coming from. By accident she happened to look down - and she saw a pipe. She saw a pipe dancing.

Well, maybe not dancing. But it was, like, jingle-jangling back and forth. She thought she might have kicked it by mistake, but even if she had it wouldn't still be moving, would it? She peered down at it, and then it stopped, coming to rest right by her feet. Then just as she was about to forget the matter entirely, it floated up into the air, and smacked her directly in the face.
"Motherfucker!" Charlie shouted, appalled and aggrieved by this rebellious object. She grabbed at it, but it ducked out of her way, and then zipped up towards the stairs. Without thinking, she barrelled up the stairs after it, perplexed and enraged at the same time.

Of course, Valerie was in no position to take advantage of Lupus' absence. She couldn't move. Couldn't struggle anymore. Couldn't do anything but lie there. Distantly, her thoughts wandered from one thing to another. Her capture. Her defeat. Her parents. Lupus. Her career. Her life. Her empty life. Herself. Her ugly self. Her angry, violent self. Lupus had been right: if she'd won, she probably would have killed Lupus. At that point, before her capture, she didn't really have much personal against her, but her experience with her parents had blinded her with such apoplexy that she almost certainly wouldn't have been able to stop herself. That was what she thought now, anyway. In a vicious reversal of Charlie's usual trick, Valerie found her memories of their battle altering. Lupus became more bewildered, and frightened. Valerie became more brutish, more wrathful, more animal. It was almost comforting to remember things this way. Because now everything that Lupus had done to her was a kind of justice. And if her suffering was deserved, it was bearable.
"Mh... " She leaned her head back slightly. There was a high window in the wall in front of her, seemingly more for ventilation than for being looked out of. Escape, perhaps? Oh, sure. If she were free of her bonds and not drugged, she could have leapt to it without any difficulty at all. She noticed there was daylight coming through it. It was open. No, wait - it was opening. And there was someone - coming through it.

Someone in tall, thigh-high boots, in a dark leotard, with a graceful countenance and long, red hair. She was wearing a mask over much of her face, but Valerie recognised her immediately, if only because there was a kind of twisted logic in her being there.
"Cecily... ?"

For an agonisingly long time she had had to wait. She'd found Lupus' hideout almost forty minutes earlier, had been checking it for entry points for another ten. Finally she'd found this high window, invisible from the street, and had seen - she'd seen what she had never thought possible. Valora captive. Defeated. At Lupus' absolute mercy, being stripped and pawed at and humiliated - it had been agonising to watch. But she was here now, and her plot to make Lupus leave the room had worked. She'd wanted to subdue Lupus then and there - but it was perfectly obvious that Valora's rescue was the most important thing.

She floated down on an insubstantial cloud of telekinetic energy. Almost before her feet actually touched the ground, she moved swiftly to Valerie's side.
"Don't worry," she whispered. "I'll have you out of this quickly." She plucked off the gas mask, and set about unbinding the hapless hero, both with her hands and her powers.
"C... Cecily?" Valerie mumbled.
"Yes, Valerie," Cecily replied, smiling quite sweetly. "Yes it's me. I'm sure you've questions for me, but we must be swift. I'm sure she'll come back."
"What... are you... " Valerie felt a little clarity returning to her as the mask was taken off, and felt a relief as the pressure of her bonds gave way. She felt Cecily's arm around her shoulder, and with an invisible grip she was helped to her feet, slowly moved towards the entrance Valerie had used.
"Don't worry," Cecily repeated, as much to herself as to the woman she was rescuing. "I can - I can carry us both. We'll be out soon. We'll escape soon."
"Leave... " Valerie said.
"Yes, I know," Cecily replied. "We'll be out soon."
"No." She stopped. She pushed away from Cecily, and to the redhead's surprise she had gathered enough strength that Cecily could not hold her, and she fell to her hands and knees. Cecily ducked down to help her up, but Valerie pushed her away.
"Wh - what are you doing?" Cecily said, the matter of their escape pressing on her as being really rather urgent. She knelt by her, trying to meet Valerie's gaze. "Valerie, we must -"
"Not you," Valerie said, and when she looked up Cecily was astonished to see there were tears in her half-closed eyes. "Not... by you...!" And, before Cecily could ask what on earth Valerie meant, their situation got a lot worse.

"HEY!" Clouded in animal rage, Lupus had returned. She saw her captive freed, unbound, saw someone trying to help get her to safety. Saw the pleasure she had put all her hopes in being taken away, saw reality rushing headlong at her, and she raised her fists to fight it. "Who the fuck are you?! What the fuck do you think you're doing?!"
Cecily turned, finding space to be faintly pleased in the effectiveness of her disguise within her cold fear.
"I -" she began, but found her voice catching in her throat as Lupus approached her. "I am Hypatia!"
"What the fuck kind of name is that? It sounds like you just made it up on the god damn spot! You -" She narrowed her eyes. "You're telekinetic. You were the one with the - with the pipe. Oh, I bet you thought you were real funny, huh?" She was within two metres now, flexing her hands, growling and spitting. "That," she said, indicating the exhausted, kneeling blonde, "is mine. You want her, you're gonna have to fight for her, and believe you me you really don't want to fucking do that." She stamped the floor, and the whole building shook.
But Cecily held firm. "I came here," she said, "looking for Valora, yes. But that's not why I came to this city." She raised herself to her full height, a little taller than Lupus, summoning to herself all her well-bred dignity. "I came here, Lupus, for you. And I came prepared."

Lupus had been about to ask how Hypaxicon, or whatever the fuck, knew her name. But she couldn't speak. She couldn't breathe.
"Ughhh!!" she groaned, collapsing to her knees, clutching her throat. "Wh... how the... hell?!"
Cecily had not been sure that this was going to work. She had planned, sure, she had had a theory, but theory and practice so frequently devolved that she was all but astonished that it had succeeded. "You're touching the wrong place," she explained. "I'm not putting pressure on your throat. I'm putting pressure on your brain - and it looks like I'm affecting the part of your brain that controls your breathing!. With my powers I can't produce force even faintly approaching what you and Valora can do - but I can exert my power at a distance, through objects. I can hurt you, Lupus, as you've hurt me!"
"Ughhh... kkhhh!" Lupus growled, straining herself, crawling towards Hypatia, trying desperately to get to her before her own air ran out. But the pressure was immense.
"You should consider yourself exceptionally fortunate," Cecily said, coming close to Lupus to exert her power with its full force. "I won't be able to arrest you and rescue Valora at the same time." Her enemy squirmed, choking at her feet. There was a part of Cecily, a small part, which derived some satisfaction from this - but only a small part.
"Hgghhkk.. hhghhk..." Lupus choked, on the point of passing out. She flailed herself forward, her arm shooting out. Her fingers brushed against Cecily's thigh for just a second - and then she collapsed.
Cecily was not naive, however. She kept her power focused, even to the point where she was risking killing Lupus, something which her gentle spirit really had no wish to do. But she was not a fool, and certainly could not guarantee that Lupus would have the same compunction about taking life that she did. She turned around to assist Valora, but kept the pressure on. And because she kept the pressure on, it was very surprising when Lupus just stood up.

"Man," she said, a blood-curdling grin slowly working its way up her face, "I am getting really fucking good at this!"
"Wh - what?!" Cecily didn't understand. She was still exerting the pressure, still pushing down on Lupus' motor cortex - but it just wasn't working. No, it wasn't just that it wasn't working - there was more pressure being exerted back. "How?"
"Easy," Lupus laughed. "I swapped Valora's power out for yours - Cecily." And, before Cecily could react, Lupus sent a wave of pure force straight into her head.
"UNHH!" Cecily cried, stunned by the sudden blow. She reeled, and swooned, and her slender body wavered, before she fell to her pretty knees. She tried to reach out again with her abilities, but Lupus was no novice: when she had first trained with the Bombshells, she had frequently swapped between Maria and Cecily's abilities, and knew perfectly well how to use either of them. That was how, as soon as she took the power, she recognised it and its owner instantly. She therefore countered Cecily easily, lifting her and slamming her down into the ground, stunning the fair-skinned maiden even more seriously. Cecily knew the ins and outs of her abilities more, Lupus was the superior warrior. She lifted Cecily to her feet again, and imagined an invisible boxing glove, then slammed it into Cecily's stomach.
"AAAHHH!" Cecily cried, sparkling eyes going wide as she felt her muscles seize up, and darkness begin to take her. But they faded shut soon afterwards. She went limp, and dropped to her knees. "Oh..." she whimpered, as she felt herself begin to lose consciousness.

Lupus cackled manically. "Oh man! This is too fucking good! The lost little Bombshell back for revenge and she just gets fucked up! Oh shit, before I forget -!" She ran quickly to where Valora was still kneeling, pressed her hands onto her, lifted her gorgeous, naked body to its feet. "Oh, yeah," Lupus grunted, discarding Cecily's power, and letting Valora's strength surge back into her. "Thanks, babe," she laughed, and when Valora weakly tried to attack her, she tossed the fallen hero aside - and returned her attention to Cecily.

"No... have to... unhh... " Cecily moaned, trying and trying and trying to use her powers again, but not able to concentrate on them. She saw Lupus approaching. She tried, she tried desperately to save herself, but it just didn't work. Lupus took her, lifting her up, squeezing her by both shoulders. Her grip was - unshakeable. The idea of fighting against her now seemed absurd. Cecily felt very foolish, and very afraid.
"That's a good look for you, Cecily. You've always had phenomenal legs, so the thigh-highs are totally working. Let's have a feel." She threw Cecily's lithe body over her shoulder, the damsel moaning and squirming and wriggling, but totally unable to escape.
Cecily felt hands on the bare skin of her silky, pale thighs, hands that shamelessly flicked up her skirt to reveal her tight, perky little behind, squeezing and stroking it, and giving Cecily just a taste of the humiliation that she felt sure she would endure.
"So how's everybody doing? Maria? Little Debbie? Lance?"
"Lance is... dead!" Cecily gasped. "You murdered him!"
"Hey, that's bullshit!" Lupus shouted, tightening her grip on Cecily's body, which was as frail as a matchstick compared to hers and Valora's. "I never murdered anyone in my entire life." This was true. She just left out the fact that she'd committed manslaughter.

She took Cecily to the table where Valora had been lying before. She bent her over it, forcing her down hard. She saw a rope on the floor next to her, probably the one Valora had broken in her second failed escape attempt.
"Did you seriously think," Lupus snarled, quickly lashing Cecily's delicate wrists in cord, "that you could come here and take what's mine?" She saw a strip of fabric by her foot, a piece of Valora's ripped up leotard, picked it up. "Did you seriously think -"
"MMMPHHHH!!"
" - that you could do anything to me you third rate little shit?!" She'd pulled the fabric over Cecily's mouth, gagging the slender damsel. She pulled her against her body, and began sampling the delights of this newest morsel, getting acquainted with her slender limbs, her long, graceful neck, her smooth, straight, red hair. She slipped her fingers into the straps of Cecily's leotard, and as the fair maiden whimpered and lamented, she began to slip the straps off the redhead's slim shoulders, down and down and down to the level of her small, sweet breasts. Watching herself denuded, the beautiful failure began to moan, and lament, and plead.
"Aww," Lupus crowed. "Poor thing. Don't want to get captured? Don't want to get all tied up and gagged? Don't want to get stripped? Then don't fuck with me, you stupid bi - "

Something was on Charlie's mouth. Something was holding it there. Something strong. A hand. Her hand? No. She was already using both her hands. And even if she weren't, why would she be holding a plastic mask over her own mouth? She heard a hiss. She felt cold air. She felt dizzy.
"What was that... you were saying," Valora growled in her ear, "about stupid bitches?!"
"MRRGHHHGHGHGHHHAAAHHRHHGHHHHFHFHGHGHHHHH!!" was more or less Charlie's reply. She swung to the left. Valora didn't move. She swung to the right. Valora still didn't move. She drove an elbow backwards into her enemy and she still didn't move, and now Charlie had been breathing that shit in for a little while and she was starting to feel kind of light headed. Finally, with a roar of effort, she broke Valora's grip, knocked the gas mask out of her hands. She swung at her, but she stumbled, and missed. She tried, and failed, again, and for the third attempt really tried to centre herself.

She looked at Valora. Saw her naked. Saw her beautiful. Saw her vulnerable. Saw her a victim. Saw her a trophy. Perhaps she even saw a little of the pain she bore. What she didn't see was the power that Charlie had given her the second that she'd threatened someone else. She definitely saw Valora's run-up, though. Definitely saw her draw back her fist and bellow in rage. Definitely felt it when Valora socked her in the jaw as hard as she possibly could -

- and sent her directly to the Sun-Chips place.


Valerie watched Lupus disappear through the new hole she'd created in the ceiling. She looked back at Cecily: shaken, frightened, astonished. Realising she was naked, she half-heartedly covered her nether regions with her hand, and blearily began untying her.
"Th-thank you," Cecily whimpered, mortified that her rescue mission had essentially been accomplished by the victim herself. "Valerie, are you alright?"
Valerie looked at her. She looked at the hole in the ceiling. She looked at the table where Lupus had tormented her. She looked back at Cecily. She put her head in her hands.

She bellowed with such wordless, agonised violence that Cecily almost fainted.
A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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Damselbinder
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Re: The Perils of Valora 3: "The Reverse Pete Best"

Post by Damselbinder »

Harper Patáky had long since stopped thinking of herself as her husband's wife. Milo made few demands of her, and she made few of him, and the two of them rarely had all that much to do with each other's lives. But there were connections between them, even now, that Harper found difficult to put entirely aside, emotionally speaking. Most of the money she spent was his, but she rarely spent to excess. She made sure not to embarrass him publicly by having indiscreet affairs, and made appearances at social functions whenever Milo required it. He was a shrill little wimp, but he wasn't unkind to her. She had gained by him, and even though he'd gained plenty by her too, she'd probably got the long end of the stick. In Harper's nicer moments, she tried to remember that. So when, that night, he'd come home in the wee hours, sat straight down on the chair nearest their front door, and had just buried his head in his hands, she'd actually felt an impulse to ask him what was wrong. You see, normally when Milo was upset he would shout and hiss, screech and spit, and embarrass them both - the way he was now was real stress and exhaustion. She was genuinely worried about him, if only slightly.
"Milo?" she said, coming down the stairs.
He looked up at her. He grimaced, didn't reply.
"Milo, are you alright?" Harper asked. "Did something - "
"Nothing you would want to know about," Milo replied, briskly. "Do we have any wine left over from Tuesday night?"
"Only champagne."
"Fuck." Champagne gave him headaches.

He went to the kitchen anyway, looked despairingly into the fridge and fixed himself a Bloody Mary. That wasn't ideal either: vodka gave him bad hangovers, but at least that was pain he could delay. He threw it back, splashing a little tomato juice on his face, and found to his surprise that Harper had followed him into the kitchen.
"... yes?" Milo asked.
"Something's obviously the matter. Can I help?"
"Not unless you've suddenly become the world's most powerful superhuman," Milo said. "For God's sake woman, don't fuss over me. It doesn't suit you."
"You'd prefer I didn't care?"
"Oh yes," Milo said, smiling a little. "Absolutely. You see, most men wouldn't tell you this, but cold indifference is very attractive. It's what makes our marriage so exciting."

Harper was used to her husband's sarcasm. She didn't mind it: his wit was probably the only feature of his personality that came somewhere close to being attractive. "Hey," she said in a quiet voice, "come to bed."
Milo laughed, loudly an openly. "Come to bed?" he repeated. "Don't be ridiculous."
"I'm not being ridiculous," Harper said. She touched him on the shoulder. "There's been... something different about you, recently. Look, you know I'm not going to be sighing with passion at the sight of your face, or anything, but - you don't repulse me, Milo. Come on, it might help you relax." She got close to him, with the intention of kissing him. He wasn't so ugly, really, was he? Perhaps she'd find some pleasure in this.

But Milo took her wrist, irritably pushed it aside.
"Harper, you are not by any means an ugly woman. Far from it. But I am a rich man. If I needed physical comfort, I could have much younger and much prettier than you with a quick phone call."
"Forget it. I should have known better than to expect you not to be a dick." She turned away, but he slipped in front of her, and fixed her with a look that made her almost yelp in fright.

"You don't get it," Milo said. "We're not playing the 'unhappy rich couple' game anymore. You say I've changed? You say there's something different about me recently? Well you're absolutely right, Harper. That you find this change attractive - well, I never thought you were Einstein, but I didn't realise you were an idiot. You know, I don't think I can stand the sight of you."
"Wh -?" Harper was stunned. At his worst, Milo had never talked to her like this.
"I want you out. I've got enough parasites suckling on the slot machines at the Falmouth Grand: I don't need one at home, too." Harper was staring back at him, open-mouthed, so he mockingly tapped her on the head. "Anyone home? Here, I'll put it into single syllable words for you: leave. Now."
Harper had known that Milo was dangerous before. But his work had always seemed so separate from her life, and Milo had repeatedly assured her, boasted really, that he laundered his money very carefully. She knew he moved in a world of violence and death, but it was only now that it had even occurred to her that she herself was in danger because of him. It was only now that she felt he might hurt her himself. But she was no quailing weakling, and she pulled away from him in disgust.

"You figure this makes you a man, huh?" Harper said. "You figure you're all fucking macho because you can make a woman scared of you? Well I'm not scared of you. I'm scared of the men who work for you! You were right before. You were absolutely right: the new Milo's even more pathetic than the old one!"
"Fascinating," he replied. "There's the door."
"You're actually serious, aren't you?" Harper said. "Fine. Whatever. Do you mind if I get dressed first?"
"Yes, if it takes more than ten minutes," Milo said. "After that I'm going to have someone remove you."
"You're a worm," Harper said.
"Okay," Milo replied. He seemed completely unmoved.

When, about seven minutes later, his wife came down the stairs in a tracksuit, with her hair quickly tied up in a bun and some angry tears on her face Milo almost felt sympathy. But he didn't even consciously have to suppress this instinct. He was aware of it manifesting, squelching its way into his mind, and then swiftly, unceremoniously dying. It was safer this way. Safer if he had no distractions. Safer if there was nothing in his life but his work. His progress. It was safer for Harper as well.

Because things were going to get worse before they got better.

As Harper left, she passed John Mann coming the other way. Dressed so practically, with no make up on, John didn't immediately recognise her. Harper, therefore, mistook the momentary surprise on his face for aggression, and she pushed past him with an angry shriek. Mystified, John went inside the house, watching Harper as she shakingly climbed into her Mercedes, and drove away. Its windows were tinted, and John could not see her crying.

"Was that anything I need to know about?" he asked Milo, shutting the front door.
"No, John," Milo replied. "Just a long-overdue end to an unremarkable marriage. Nothing to be worried about." He scanned John's face, saw him cogitating. "Not convinced? You're free to speak your mind."
"I don't want to overstep any boundaries," John said, "but is it possible she's gonna be a problem for you?"
"No," Milo said. "She knows how foolish that would be. But I won't tempt fate either: she'll be well looked-after." He moved to his front room, beckoning John to follow him, and sitting down. John remained standing, his arms folded, his chiselled features furrowed in deep concern.

Milo leaned his head back, looked up at the ceiling.
"Well," he said, "let's hear it. How fucked am I?"
"We haven't found Valora or Varg, if that's what you mean," John said. "Also; Boscoe had a run in with a third superhuman while he was out looking - maybe an ally of Valora's, but we're not sure what her deal is."
"Another one?" Milo grimaced. "They seem to sort of attract each other, don't they? Alright. Alright." He stood up, clasped his hands behind his back. His face became strikingly illuminated by the streetlight just outside his house, and John was able to see how bloodshot his eyes were. "What's your analysis of our situation, John?" Milo asked.

John had to think for a moment. "I think we can probably rule out the worst-case scenario."
"Which is what?"
"The whole thing was a setup. Varg and Valora are working together to get incriminating evidence on you, maybe one of them wearing a wire or something. If that was it, then they've got you on tape asking Varg to kill Valora. I gotta figure you'd have been arrested by now if that was the way it was."
"What's the best-case scenario, in your view?"
"Best-case? Varg's just trying to weasel some more money out of you. Though she'd prob'ly have already let us know if that's what she wanted. Outside of that, anything could have happened. Maybe they were trying to incriminate you but the wire didn't work or something. Maybe Varg was gonna blackmail you, but Valora got away or somethin'. So our best course of action's probably still trying to find them. I'm not sure what we're gonna do when we find 'em, though."
"Are you sure? Think about our meeting with Varg and that lovely package of hers. If nothing else, haven't we gained some useful information about Valora's abilities?"
Milo nodded. "Man, I didn't even think of that. She's not invincible: Varg had drugged her."
"And if she can be drugged, she can presumably be poisoned. If she has escaped Varg's clutches, we might have a way of dealing with her now. And Varg too, if their powers really are as similar as you'd suggested."
"About that, sir."

John sat down. He wasn't suffering from Milo's perpetual, nightmarish insomnia, but he still hadn't slept in nearly 30 hours.
"What you said before - that Varg was about to call herself 'Lupus' - you were right. Or at least if not, it's a hell of a coincidence."
"Explain."
"Well, the only 'Lupus' I could find was a superhero registered in California last year. She was part of a team called the Bombshells. Some kinda fucked-up military PR thing."
"I remember," Milo said. Normally he wouldn't have paid the slightest attention to that sort of thing, but it had struck him as so cartoonishly absurd at the time that it had stuck in his memory.
"She's in their first press release," John explained. "There's a whole fuckin' profile on all of the members and how their powers work." He laughed, slightly. "I figure that's the last thing you'd wanna broadcast but - well, whatever, I ain't complaining. There's a picture of her, too." He'd printed the press release out, handed it to Milo.
"She's quite pretty," Milo said, turning the flyer back over. The young woman was posing with her hands above her head, winking at the camera. Her smile was aggressive, her hair dyed bright, vigorous blue. "Your type?"
John didn't answer.
"Oh, I see. You prefer blondes." He smirked, then continued reading. "'Powers: mimic. Lupus can copy one ability at her time from her comrades, making her the... ultimate team player. Together... with Freebird, Maiden-America, and the - elegant Miss Rothschild, no-one... will be able to stand in the way of... justice.'" He repeated the words. "With wordsmiths like this at the helm how could this project possibly have failed?" He kept reading. "This is useful information, but I don't see where the 'hell of a coincidence' comes into it."
"Lupus is only mentioned in this press release. The next one she's been replaced. Guess who by."
"Oh," Milo said. "Oh. So she and Valora are connected. Allies? Rivals?"
"Can't say. But there's something else, too."
"Oh?"
"Yeah. She's a wanted woman."

John pinched the bridge of his nose. He was having a little difficulty keeping it all straight in his head. "The Bombshells boss or - something, like that anyway. Few days ago he got strangled to death. And I figure Lupus is a suspect for it."
"What makes you say that?"
John had to work not to smile: he was quite proud of all the sleuthing he'd done. "First place I looked for info on Lupus was the Cali superhuman registration bureau. Thought I'd have to hire a computer expert, but the codenames of registered superhumans are public record. So I didn't get Lupus' real name or nothing - but I did see that her licence to operate in California was withdrawn the exact same day that her boss got murdered."
Milo clapped. "Very good! John, you are a fellow of really excellent utility." He noted that his subordinate was pleased by the compliment. Evidently John's time in Novak's employ had left him with a healthy desire for recognition. "So what do we know?" Milo said. "We know Varg is really 'Lupus', Lupus was once on the side of the angels, has some personal connection to Valora of one kind or another, and is quite probably a fugitive from justice. And we know that her 'abilities' are... "
"Are the same as Valora's. Varg, or Lupus, or - whatever - she copied Valora's strength. That's how she beat her, I guess. So if drugs or poison work on of 'em -"
" - they'll work on both of them."

Milo folded his hands over his stomach. "So we have some vague semblance of a plan, then. Find 'Lupus', whom we have no way of finding. Possibly with a captive in tow, possibly working with her so-called captive, possibly with no captive whatever. Then we - what? - improvise some poison gas grenades or something? That's more your area than mine."
John made a face which suggested that it was not as much his area as Milo seemed to think. "Least we got the basic idea."
That was true. They had, now, at least in theory, some way to fight Lupus, and Valora too if necessary. This cancer that been gnawing away at the otherwise vigorous - increasingly vigorous - body of his empire had a real chance of being cut out at last. There was hope in sight. There was an end in sight.

And then suddenly Milo was on his feet, almost running towards the nearest window, grabbing the windowsill with both hands and squeezing until his knuckles were white. He was breathing hard and quickly, and his eyes were little red and white moons in his skull. There was a buzzing in his ears, and a tightness in his stomach that felt like it would make him split in two.
"Hey, Mr. Patáky?" John thought his employer was having an asthma attack. "Hey. Milo!" He thought the man was going to collapse, moved to help him.
But before John could reach Milo's side, Milo had already recovered. More than that, he'd wheeled around, his face frozen into a morbid, manic excitement.
"Too small!" he shouted, patting John on the shoulder.
"... What?"

Milo began pacing in a small, jagged line.
"John," he said, "why did I object to hiring a superhuman assassin? Before you convinced me?"
"Because they're unpredictable. Hard to control." John scratched the back of his head. "I ain't even gonna try to defend myself on that one."
"Oh, pshht," Milo said. "Valora had to be dealt with somehow. Yours was the best idea we'd had. No, no, no: I was being much too conservative, and I'm still being too conservative. No, no, no, John, now I understand. Crisis brings with it the best opportunity for growth. Think about it: if it hadn't been for Valora, I would never have tried to diversify my interests to the extent that I have. The contacts we've made in D.C., the gains we've made north of the border - I didn't dare until there was a knife at my throat. So why be cowards, John?"
"I don't follow."
Milo grinned. It was not an expression which suited his face. "You said it yourself. 'Superhumans are unpredictable. Hard to control.' Hard - but not impossible. All you need is a strong enough leash - and then you'd have an asset that no-one could match."
"You're talking about Lupus," John said. "I can see that she'd be valuable. Someone with her powers would be pretty, uh, versatile. But I don't see how we could get her on side, and I'm not sure I'd want her working for us even if we did. She was kinda crazy."
"Oh come now. One man's madwoman is another man's lateral thinker." He sat down, then immediately leapt up to his feet, beginning his next sentence with a loud, angry bark. "John, I need you to do one more thing for me."
"Sure," John said, a little wearily.
"Oh, god, yes, get some sleep first man, for heaven's sake," John laughed. "But when you've rested, I need you to track down a man named Harold Moskovitz. It won't be hard: Boscoe will have the necessary information."
"Got it," John replied. "Who is he?"
"He," Milo said, "is the only other superhuman I've ever worked with."
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A full list of my stories can be found here, with summaries to boot: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=32027

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