Atomica – Issue 4
Written by castor :: [Saturday, 04 July 2015 02:38] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 04 July 2015 10:11]
It was about a week latter when she first noted that yes she was definitely gaining weight.
Her costume was, of course, skin tight to cover her incredibly tight and well formed angles and the curves of her thighs but – well – like any skin tight costume. It had some give.
That felt okay. The pair of jeans she was going to wear to walk to a farmed market with Bill, not so much.
It was a perfectly nice pair of jeans. A slightly faded, slightly edged blue, sized for her long legs and thin hips. She had bought it about a year ago. It was the kind of skinny, sexy jeans that were so popular these days, which was perhaps her problem. She tended to either dress to hide her body or, occasionally, to show it off, depending on her mood. These were show off jeans and, well, when she wore them was almost equally tight as her costume, though she already had on a largish sweater that would counteract the effect, which in retrospect was an odd choice but …
The jeans didn't fit. Not quite getting over her hip, not quite letting her button them up. There was about an inch space and on her body an inch was quite a distance.
She wanted to cry, not cry and nod her head in awful revulsion to her body, rather amazement at her body, anger at something, fear. Pretty much all the emotions, but none in particular
Bill was getting ready, shaving in the nude as was his habit. He was, of course, handsome and dashing with not to much fat of his own tough, hard rock solid, like she was. Though he was handsome and his hairless body shined from the shower.
And added lust, which pretty much completed the trifecta.
“My pants don't fit right.” she said
“All of them?” said Bill turning his head to give her attention if no particular emotion at this moment.
“Just this one.” she said, bringing up a logical point. So she went to the closet and, as she did, she started to cry for like 3 seconds and caught herself stopping. She shook her head. She had to learn to control this, even if this was probably normal nerves.
She did find her largest pair of sweat pants, the kind of things she wore when she was around the house and feeling down and put them on … and watched them feel very saggy and comfortable. They still had an extra inch on this. Maybe this was overkill.
“So, if I am pregnant I can eat whatever I want. Let’s get some of that home made ice cream.” she laughed.
Then she heard a noise.
Bill called “Puppy … I think you want to see this.”
Nancy walked in quickly pulling over a sweater “What is it?”
“My pad. I set it up so, if ever there is more than two news stories regarding Atomica with the same headline, it will alert.”
“Cause I worry about you and I love you.”
“Fair point.” said Atomica
When he turned the device to who her head.
Rumor Surface That The Super heroic Public Figure Is Expecting
She closed her eyes and sighed.
“I wouldn't be to to worried” said Dr Nicholas “The FBI did a diagnostic of the Collins device. It’s a high powered laser made of scrap parts and things from a catalog.”
“It ruined my costume.”
“It can cut through steel,” said Nicholas “But you’re tougher and more powerful than that. It’s actually quite interesting, I think, for the lab. I did some research and they never really developed a field laser that powerful. Of course it’s not really effective, it required a battery larger than a horse for 5 just seconds of juice and … well … most things in the world aren't that tough.”
Atomica sighed. They were meeting in the doctor’s office again. She had suggested weekly checkups and that sounded all right – overkill but all right. Because, well, she had so many questions.
“But what about …?”
Nicholas took out a laser pointer and aimed it at Atomica’s stomach. “I got it from an obstetrician. It’s harmless and, from a radiation standpoint, even if we increased the power it will stay harmless. UV radiation can give you skin cancer from prolonged use but, I suspect, this is no worry whatsoever.”
“What if there’s a thousand of them over the next nine months?” said Nancy “And what about the leak?”
“Regarding the news this morning.” said Nicholas “Who’s to say? That’s not my department to press a big red button when there’s a PR crisis.”
“I am not showing yet.” said Atomica realizing that was a subtle mistruth, but a mistruth.
“If I read the paper,” said Nicholas “It was from an unnamed government source. Here's the thing about this business: I wrote a report, it went up the chain of command.”
“You never said: keep it secret. So I wrote it in my report. I bet it went to the president’s desk, which is a sobering thought.”
“I have lifted the president up with my pinky finger.” said Atomica.
“Well, there’s a mental image.” said Nicholas “Which means a 100 or more people saw it and … well … frankly even if it was classified, that gets leaked all the time to the press. I mean this was going to get out eventually.”
Nancy sighed and as she excited the room to the grassy ground, she looked around the men in suits.
When she first started out, she had a request of the government. She didn't want a handler. She didn't want one person whose job was to talk to her and lead a team wearing black suits. Such a team could exist she theorized but … well … she didn't know about it.
So she didn't have anyone to complain. Well, she could go into the White House and lift the president up with her pinky but, as a general rule, she didn't do that.
So, no one to talk to about this.
Except the little voice inside her ear. It was actually an app that a tech company built for her. It told her in monotone when the world needed her.
And the world did.
New York. New York was a city that she had a hard gauge on. She had been there a thousand times as Atomica, but never really spent the day. It was a big bustling place – though not as packed as, say, Mexico City or Hong Kong – that seemed to have so much stuff going, so busy, full of people going places. When she saw it in movies it seemed so vibrant, when she looked at the swarm she felt so above it, but it felt as if she was missing something at the same time.
There was a large apartment fire in Brooklyn. This was something that you did get. The pure scale of some of the apartments, which where like arcologies going up to the sky. This one was nearly 50 stories tall, with maybe 5000 people living there and that afternoon maybe 6000 of them were in danger.
Fires, like many things, were complicated while trying to save as many people. She had a lot of respect for firefighters, not just for their bravery, but for the skill: firemen went to college for 4 years and many had master degrees.
Especially from her degree. Fires could kill you a dozen different ways. In a fire this size, one of the big dangers was structural instability. There was a lot on the internet of memes that the World Trade Center jet fuel wasn't strong enough to melt steel. That maybe, but it was different when there were 100 more floors of material you had to support. It was an incredibly complex system to keep a building up. Which was another way of saying: if fires could destabilize a building, she could destabilize a building. Her powers doing more damage or making thing worse was an ever present risk.
The fire was on the 10th floor. It had started in apartment – how or why she didn't know – spreading across the floor of the building, moving into the 8th floor and, more significantly, into the stairwell. There was a ladder trying to take people down but, well, it was a limited method and smoke was traveling up. People were inside and, from the looks of the windows, a lot of them elderly.
She flew to the side of a window holding an elder looking woman. She picked her up with one arm holding her to her, then seeing another man grabbed him. She zipped down, decelerating not to hurt them and leaving them on the ground. The old man puked, but she ignored him and their thanks. She flew back up.
She did it not so much to save them, but to do something while thinking of her next move.
She didn't have super breath – which in this case probably wouldn't be a good idea. Nor even x-ray vision to see the damage. In the past she had done an action where she clapped and the clapping caused a shockwave that could put out fires by taking out the air. It also created a giant shockwave that would burst most of the windows in the neighborhood and, probably, destroy the slightly destabilized building. No. She would have to figure out a method of fighting it.
A hose was going at it from the side of the building.
She picked up what looked to be a family of a mother and her two kids and took them down as quickly as she could. She could hear the cheers from the sides of the windows for people delighted she was her.
There was a lot of it.
If she kept this up and everyone was like this, she could probably empty the building in 50 minutes or so … She didn't want to chance it.
She saw the river about half a mile away. She saw an empty dump truck.
She flew down in an instant, picked up the tractor trailer and flew to the river inside. It was nearly 30 feet long and half that wide, so it was tricky to maneuver. The thing about being superstrong is that is hard to gauge distances and stuff when you’re lifting things bigger then yourself, just seeing around them is hard sometimes, they simply block your field of view.
Yet, she was able, a few seconds latter, to turn it and use it as a bucket in the river – which was pretty clean despite some jokes she heard.
She flew back to the building a few moments latter and, again, perhaps a touch awkwardly flew to a large bank of windows at the 10th floor and pushed the side of the truck against it.
The windows smashed open and the water flew out of it into the fire.
She heard the sound of smoldering and looked at the ground. A lot of water had fallen on what looked to be a surprisingly green garden. Well, they should get some water, she guessed.
She put the truck down on the street carefully and flew up to see the hole.
The fire had been put out … for about 1/8th of the space. There was a lot of damage. She walked through the fire. Space. The heat didn't bother her, nor did the lack of air, but she heard a very faint sound.
There was someone in the apartment. Breathing in and …
She burst in and picked up the young woman, unconscious from smoke inhalation, wearing gaudy clothes. Her heart rate was steady but …
She rescued her in an instant.
She looked back up and flew into the space again rushing through the fire damage to see if any more people were in the floor. Thankfully nothing on the 10th floor, but the fire was reaching up …
The building was concrete and steel. Which meant that building was not much on fire and, to a degree, seemed mostly confirmed on the southern side of the building. This was useful.
She picked up a bathtub that was in one room and, in an instant, flew back to the river. Flying near the speed of sound, she filled it up and flew back holding it towards the side. Despite the water position, this one was simply easier to carry. The tremendous pressure on the tub flying so fast kept the water in almost as flat as a pancake and – as she flew back and stopped on a dime – it released the water in a splash. It flew towards the fire and splashed it down putting out part of the fire.
She kept spraying water on it, about a dozen tubs of water every minute. It took about 10 minutes of this activity, but little by little the fire started to smolder and burn out through the water and the super wet air bursts she generated. It simply couldn't burn, leaving smoldering little blazes throughout the place.
She stood there for a second and watched as firemen swarmed around her. Which was an odd notion of flying. When she flew somewhere and people appeared next to her by the magic of climbing.
She sighed catching her breath at last.
She flew down to the ground, to the sounds of cheering, to the sounds of people. She saw people come down the now clear stairs. She saw them come at her, wanting to shake her hand, which she did. One of them gave her a high five, which she thought cute.
She saw the woman she had saved earlier on a stretchers, being taken to a hospital. She was okay a paramedic told her and she felt relieved. The man she had saved earlier was also there. He thanked her, even if he wondered what would happen to his apartment. He didn't have place to go …
She didn't know. That wasn't her department. She hated these kind of questions.
Then she saw the press.
Atomica did talk to them, occasionally, but not much. Often it was: “I was glad I would help” – but never much more. She never did sit down interviews, never did talk shows, never pushed any of that. She made it a policy to never really care what the press had to say about things, otherwise it would let it control her. She didn't have a publicists or a mail box or any of that. She was above it all, as she should be. If she did her job by public opinion, it wasn't really her job.
They, certainly, had fun over the years despite it. She had been attached to numerous celebrities, once or twice to females. They had endless rumors of the source of her powers, as she was a mutant, or a government controlled experiment, or alien. Most were positive and that she helped people but, well, they had accused her of murder, of failing her duties and, generally, being a menace (these stories tended to come in brief waves) or, those the few times she did talk to the press, she said something that had been razored edge to be stupid offensive . Her secret identity had been exposed so many times and been so many people she couldn't count (all were wrong). She had been dying a couple of times, but had she ever been pregnant before? She couldn't remember. Bill kept up more on this then she did.
Which was why the pregnancy story on one level shouldn't bother her. Doctor Nichols was right: it would come out, they would say stuff and all of that would happen.
Well … here she was and here they were. New York was a good place for news, after all, and she saw a mix of local news reporters, stringers, a network news team and national people – quite a lot actually. “Thanks everyone. It looks like there was a fire here this afternoon and I actively tried to put it out as quickly as possible I am sure the Fire Department and local officials will give you better answers to injuries and damages, but I did not observe and fatalities at this time.”
“Did you save a woman suffering from smoke insulation?” came a voice
“When did you arrive?”
“About an hour ago, I guess. I think I was being filmed by a local cameraman. They, maybe, are able to give you an exact time … I would trust that answer more than my own.”
(She told the last one in about as much humor as she mustered, which didn't produce a titter)
“How are you feeling personally?”
“Fine. I was in no danger, though I think I did feel pressure given fears that fire would continue. I tried to use a dump truck to put water in, which in retrospect wasn't an efficient strategy, but I worked one that seemed to work. I am very glad and relieved that I was able to do so without any loss of life. I am glad it’s over.”
“Did the people thank you?”
“Yes, they did. I would like to thank all the brave people in the building and the fire and rescue people here present. They did a phenomenal job. I just met with captain Roberts and his team did really great work.”
“What about the rumors regarding a possible pregnancy?”
Well, it took then nearly 2 minutes, which was commendable
“No comment regarding that, or any details of my personal life.”
She tried to keep a stern face regarding it, a stone face … though, hell, she was on camera that was for the world to judge. She knew that keeping a face like that was as important as the answer, but it was something that by trying one could fail.
The same reporter came up with a follow-up: “Are you happy in your personal life?”
That was a good one. She granted him that.
“Very happy. And very happy to help the people of New York and the world. That is what I do and want to keep doing. Part of it is keeping my life away from it. Separate. I understand your interest in such matters, but to a degree it’s predicated on keeping it quiet and peaceful.”
Predicated. That was a good word. Where did it come from?
She wanted to leave right now, but to end it on that note would have been bad. She answered a few more questions on the fire, thanked the people, then walked away to talk to some of the fire people. She found it gauche to simply fly away from an interview.
“Atomica does not confirm nor deny pregnancy story”
read the headline online that Bill was looking at that night by the time she got home, which was less then an hour latter (she stopped to help out at a multi-car accident in Tennessee).
She sighed when she read it, but Bill seemed to comfort her. “It’s okay, you’re doing great out there.”
“People are going to say things.” she replied head down, “Nasty things about me. So many editorials.”
“Probably.” he replied “There’s going to be a lot of calls for you to quit.”
“I can't do that … I saved maybe 50 people today … maybe a thousand in the last week … a million in a year. The entire Earth … how many … the world needs me. Meteors, earthquakes, tidal waves, monsters … God, it needs me. How did it ever survive without me?”
“Somehow.” he smiled.
“Somehow.” she stroked his face “How did you survive without me?”
“There was a fair amount of top ramen involved.”
She giggled before scrunching up her face “And I can’t stop, just because of this. At least right now.”
He looked at her and then down at her stomach “Well, I can’t stop you there.”
“Well … this is my …” he closed his eyes “I do so respect and admire what you do. I would never ask you to stop. You’re a hero. And you’re my hero, but you’re … I don't know.”
She put a hand to stroke his face “Darling. Darling. I told you never to ask me to choose this. You would have to accept that.”
“And I am not asking you.” he replied.
She kissed his head “I feel everything you do and more … Everything. But … no one can do my job. No one can live my life. I am special and unique and that is horrible for anyone to share with.”
He took her hand and laced his fingers “And I could never ask you to change. I just know that, if there was a difference to sacrificing your life and saving someone you never knew, you would do it in a heartbeat … and …”
He stopped “Whatever you want to do is fine. You’re a good person Nancy and I am so glad to be with you through thick and thin.”
He patted her tummy “Don't worry about the fat part.”
For the first time, she laughed about it.