In the Eye of the Beholder
Written by Woodclaw :: [Monday, 30 May 2011 09:11] Last updated by :: [Monday, 03 December 2012 14:48]
“Inmate 20567, stand up and face the wall.” Clad in the orange jumpsuit of the correctional system the young woman didn't hesitate to comply. She had been in prison for years – but they could have been centuries given how much she had changed – but she understood the rules after just a couple of days and the first one was: “never ever screw with the guards”. The guard name was Tricia and she was a big brick of a woman, a bit fat, but also covered with a layer of thick muscles, that she had no qualms to use on rioting prisoners. The inmate moved and closed her eyes while the clatter of the gate announced another surprise inspection, something that Tricia loved.
The thick, spade-like hands of the guard pressed against the inmate's body looking for any possible suspicious object, resting a little more than necessary in certain parts of the inmate's anatomy. Including a very cruel and deliberate twist on one of her nipples, the inmate bit her lips so as not to scream. Tricia was the kind of person that loved to see the consequences of abusing her power and attacked the weak without mercy or restraint. Actually this was one her less invasive stunts so far, which meant that they were not alone. “She's clear ma'am.” Tricia snorted before stepping aside.
“Good, you can leave us now.” a crackling voice, like autumn leaves, replied.
“But ma'am...” Tricia started, but the voice cut her off crackling like a whip.
“I said that you can leave. Now.” Grumbling and cursing under her breath Tricia left the scene. The inmate was still leaning against the wall with her eyes closed and she didn't need to open them to recognize the owner of that saving voice: Mrs Sarah Keller, the warden.
Mrs Keller was tall and thin, a full 178cm of hard steel-tempered resolve, that allowed her to became warden of the prison. Even her colors were steel-like, with blue-gray eyes and a precociously gray head of hair always combed in a braid that looked more like an anchor cable than an actual part of her body. Even so she could be surprisingly maternal with those inmates that behaved correctly, like 20567. “You can relax now, my dear.”
The inmate moved with mechanical slowness and turned to face her warden, she was shorter – reaching barely 165cm – but probably stronger and tougher, even so she purportedly looked away from the other woman eyes. Mrs Keller allowed herself a little sad smile, before going back to business, “This visit is a bit against regulations, but since your behavior has been exemplary so far I think that a little bend of the rules was allowed. I don't have the official papers yet, but you're getting out, within two days. Be ready and...” she continued under her breath “Don't allow Tricia to get to you, or you'll blow your chance.”
The inmate eyes rose suddenly to meet those of the warden, and saw no trace of cruel joke in them. It was true. It was real, she was getting out. She had a sense of vertigo as the last five years flashed in front of her eyes.
Five years ago she was a desperate woman, barely at the time 22, she was pregnant, single and unemployed. She turned to crime in order to get the money for her kid and associated with a small gang of two-bits crooks from her neighborhood. The first couple of heists went well, but the her partners became greedier and greedier and they tried the big one: robbing the town's main bank. Obviously they weren't alone, you can't plan and execute something like that on your own, they had to get in contact with people from the upper echelons of the criminal world. Surprisingly they did it, but then everything went down the wrong road. Her partners weren't smart enough to lie low, so their “friends” sold them to cover their backs. The sentence was to 10 years, but since she was pregnant and a couple of witness testified that she had actually restrained the others from doing something stupid during the actual robbery, she went away with seven.
The inmate never truly saw the warden leaving, nor heard the door clattering behind her for the last time. Her stomach was jumping up and down like a rabbit under acid and her feelings were a mess. She felt joy, relief, pain and fear. Five years of buried emotions run over her like a 18-wheeler. Needless to say that she didn't sleep much that night.
Some people say that – except for some very stale places – air taste the same no matter where you are, but it was the first thing that the Theresa “Terry” Rivera – formerly inmate 20567 – noticed stepping out of the prison gate after serving five years out of seven of her term for theft. Somehow the prison air had a stale, painful, gray quality that made breathing difficult and carried over from the cells to the courtyard, even the warden's office had the same subtle note of dullness. Outside the air tasted – well frankly it tasted bad, a mixture of paraffin from the nearby plant, exhaust fumes from the passing trucks and other unsavory stuff floating in the river – but it was freedom! It was the air of the free world, the world beyond the bars.
Taking two steps out of the gate Terry squared her shoulders and marched toward the closest bus stop, in the meantime she took an inventory of her own life. She was now 27, she had a miscarriage, she was still unemployed, with a bad record, little more than 100$ of savings. But there was something else, she had a secret, a secret so amazing and important that had become the driving force behind her life in the last five years. She forced herself to use each moment of her time to improve herself, both in body and mind, constantly reading, exercising or working, never letting herself into any kind of trouble, always focused on the day of her release.
Yes, five years seemed a quite short time and Terry had changed a lot, the little, mousy, pregnant girl had transformed into a new person. She was still short, but now she was a hard knot of tough and lean muscles, her skin grew a bit darker, now resembling that of her Mexican grandmother and her features became a lot more angular. At the same time she hadn't forgot about working on her mind, while she was in prison she had kept practicing her Spanish and got the basics of French, she had also read a lot, tons of books, probably more than she had ever read before, it was a easy to way to keep her mind off the burning notion in the back of her head. Yes she had changed a lot and now all she needed was to take one extra step, one more transformation, to get revenge and maybe something looking like a life again.
The forty minutes ride to town was uneventful at best, aside from a couple of weird looks from worried old timers. The trouble started as soon as Terry dropped down from the bus, a couple of large guys with Chinese knock-offs of Armani suits started following her, with such a glaring attempt to conceal themselves that everybody in the street saw them and carefully avoided them. Terry dodged in a couple of alleys, but it was clear that they were there for her. 'Less than an hour...' she cursed under her breath 'Just a less than a f*****g hour.' She was about to break and run, when a black sedan stopped near her and the rear door opened.
“Good afternoon, ms. Rivera.” a soft voice emerged from the car “Please don't do anything stupid and you'll live through this.”
Terry took a quick glance to her left and right, there was no easy way out so she did the only thing possible, she complied. As soon as she entered the two Armani suits came along and took the seat to her left and right, doors closed the engine spitted a little and the car speed away from the boardwalk.
Pressed between the two suits, Terry took a moment to curse her luck and studied the other two men. The driver was just a third suit, as far as she could tell identical – except for the blonde hair and the smaller size – to the others squeezing her in the back seat, it was the man on the navigator seat that called the shots. He was a tall and lanky man, with a short mass of brown curls that made him look a lot younger than he was, a small scar on his chin was the only noticeable feature in an otherwise flat face, except for the eyes. Terry knew that something with eyes like that shouldn't be allowed to be part of the human race, those were the cold distant eyes of a shark. And Terry knew him quite well, despite five years, his name was Anthony Saunders, but in the underworld he was nicknamed the “Milord”, for his cold and distant demeanor, not to mention is slightly British accent.
“Well, hello Tony.” Terry smirked, knowing well how much he hated diminutives. But being fresh out of jail, she felt a little bolder that usual.
The “Milord” answered with a tiger-like grin “Please ms. Rivera, my name – as you know – is Anthony. Now we don't have the luxury of time, so I'll be brief. We need to know where it is.”
“Ms Rivera, please, don't try to stall this longer than usual. There is something missing from the list of stolen goods, a safe-deposit box, and I have reasons to believe that you know where it is.”
Terry arched an eyebrow in an exaggerated parody of mr Spock, but inside she felt her stomach contracting with fear “If you're right, why should I know?”
Anthony sighed heavily, like a teacher with a very difficult pupil. “I'll keep this simple for you benefit. All the goods were recovered, all but that box, none of your friends was smart enough to lay low. It stands to reason that they would never be able to keep the secret, which lead us to you. Now, you didn't use the content as a bargain chip, which means that whatever is inside should be very valuable.” He smiled taking a secret pleasure in that Holmes-like display of intellectual prowess. “And as you know you still owe me something.”
“Listen,” Terry answered trying to keep her voice steady. “I honestly don't know what you are talking about. I just want to get home, OK.”
“Home? Well, my dear, that might present some problem.”
A chill went down Terry's spine, her sister, Melinda, lived nearby and – while they didn't get along all that well – she was the only relative still in town. “What did you do to her?” she asked putting as much venom as she could in each syllable.
The suits in the back seat started to move a little bit, but the “Milord” made a gesture and they went back to their immobility. “We haven't done anything to your sister or you nephew... yet. But please consider what we might do if you keep being so uncooperative.” he smiled his sinister smile again and pointed to a nearby block. “I think that's where you were going. It has been a pleasure ms Rivera.”
As soon as the suit moved Terry jumped out of the car like a spring coil and slammed the door behind her, in last feeble attempt of defiance. She kept looking while the sedan sprinted away and she could swear she heard a distant laugh coming from the engine cough. Cursing Terry looked up to the windows of her sister's apartment and slowly walked in and up the stairs.
'Mel must have seen me from the street.' was the only thing Terry was able to think when her sister opened the door after only one knock. The two of them stared at each other for a moment across the open door. Despite being sister and quite close of age they weren't all that alike. Terry was a tad shorter, with matte black hair – looking a lot like their paternal grandmother – while Mel's hair was of a color between chestnut and honey. The years apart have also taken their tool Terry was now tougher and more athletic, while Mel looked worn out and older, so older that Terry needed a moment to recognize her. “Hi Mel.”
“Hi sister.” Mel's tone was as warm as a polar storm. “Why are you here?”
“Well...” this was the worst part, Terry never expected a warm welcome, but this was too much. “I got out today and I'm kinda of...”
Mel gave her a long hard look, the kind that only a angry mother can deliver, Terry hasn't seen anything like that in years. “You want your stuff, right?”
“Well, yes. And I also wanted to see...”
“NO! You Will Not See My Child, is that clear?” Mel roared while tears started to run down her cheeks and her legs buckled until she dropped. “You won't see him...”
Terry crouched trying to embrace the sobbing form of her sister, the scene struck her badly. Mel had always been the strong one, the one who did the hard choices, who stayed honest no matter what, who survived against all the odds. Now she was there prostrate by the accumulated stress and pain of whole life. Mel returned the embrace for a full second before breaking from it “Please, Terry, take you stuff and go I don't want you to add more misery to our lives.”
“But...” Terry sobbed
“Please, one day I'll be able to look at you and see my little sister again, but not now, not today.” Mel concluded before rising and going back inside. In a minute she came back with an old and worn nylon backpack. “This is all your stuff that I kept around. I threw in a couple of decent clothes and some cash.”
“Just go please. Martin will be back any minute now.”
Terry murmured a goodbye and took the pack. Every step of the stairs felt like a million years long, half-way down she met a young boy running up. Even if she hadn't seen him for five years she knew he had to be her nephew, she smiled but she didn't spoke to him. The kid run all the way home and found his mother bowed down on the kitchen table. “Mommy, are you alright?”
As she looked up a a weary smile appeared on her face “Yes, in a moment I will.”
The kid opened the fridge looking for some soda “Mom, I met a strange lady on the stairs, she looked like aunt Terry.”
Facing away from her son, Melinda felt the grip of guilt clawing her stomach.
Terry made her way through the streets, the backpack felt like it weighted tons, or rather the knowledge of what was inside did. The simple idea of being robbed of her precious cargo after five years of waiting was simply unbearable. She found a cheap Room-for-Rent place not far from her sister's place and get ready to finalize her hopes. She even paid three days up-front to get the owner out of her way.
The room was a mess, the cheap cream paint flaked from the walls in large scales, landing on the brown carpeting – so thick and filth that it was probably some sort of independent ecosystem – the furniture was in tone with the rest, but none of that mattered to Terry. All her attention was fixated upon the black box in from of her.
It was a quite small security box and unusually light, but it contained very little, just one diary, one album filled with newspapers clips and a pair of bracelets, nothing fancy just a pair of thin silver-colored rings with no stones or decorations. Quite an odd collection of memorabilia, unless one knew their real value, like Terry. These were the last relics of the Superwoman.
At the beginning of the '50s the world was taken by surprise by the first living and breathing superhuman, the Superwoman. Stronger, faster, tougher than any human could ever hope to be, her dazzling beauty dethroned Marilyn Monroe as “America's most desired woman”. The wild speculations about her origin, her purposes, on why she didn't appear sooner and help the Allies to win WW2 – some people even claimed that with her help the atomic bombings would have never happened – were only surpassed by the crazy legends about her sudden disappearance halfway through the '60s. In those few objects Terry held between her hands there were all the answers.
An album of newspapers clips about her heroics, her diary and the bracelets, which were the biggest secret of all. Terry got all the stuff from the fated robbery, she had read and reread the diary dozen times, studied it as best as she could before being arrested, she almost knew it by memory. In the past five years every time she closed her eyes lines of the script flew across her mind until she was asleep and then she dreamed of getting her hands on those bracelets and the she will do with those powers. Now everything was in front of her and she was hesitating.
She took one of the bracelets and toyed with it for a while, it was so simple and insignificant and yet it was the key to power. One simple gesture, one simple motion was all that separated Terry for the change of a fresh start in every sense. Becoming the new Superwoman meant everything, not simply starting the whole game anew, but also be to one who makes the rules. Terry took a couple of deep breaths, closed her eyes and slipped the bracelets on her left wrist. For a second there was something like a little electric buzz that caused some goosebumps, but then nothing.
It was like having the whole world collapsing on her, five years of jail, her unborn child, the trial, the looks, the hatred of her sister. Everything was a sacrifice she made for this moment and she busted it, big time. After the rage came, the panic set in as she pulled the bracelet on and off dozen times, check both of them checking for some kind of marking differentiating the left one from the right one, putting both on, nothing worked and after a few minute she collapsed on the ground her eyes wide with desperation. In her mind's eye she saw the picture of herself as a super-powerful woman slowly fading away, all her dreams, all her expectations wasted.
All her dreams of the past five years flashed behind her eyelids, like a bad movie at ten times the usual speed, overpowering a full S.W.A.T. Team, throwing a car, running miles in a blink, withstanding the fire of a tank, ripping a safe with her bare hands, flying. Each image was more incredible and outrageous than the one before and with each one Terry imagining herself a little different, first taller, then more commanding, with the curves of a larger than life model. One bit at the time even the face of her image was different, rounder and fuller, without the rough angles and the scars from her horrible childhood. Each of these memories weighed on her mind and Terry felt like the bracelet weighed a ton, but we she tried to whip her face she realized that it was actually heavier, she opened her eyes and saw the thin armband glowing with a pulsing blue halo. Terry's heartbeat quickened and so did the pulse, with each passing second the light became stronger and the weight heavier, until it dragged Terry's arm to the ground.
“What the hell is...” Terry cried and as if was a cue lighting bolt fired from the lamp, another from the half-ripped light socket, a third from the TV-set and more from any other piece of electronics in the room. A condensation of energy started to pour into the small band and from there to Terry. She screamed in pain while megawatts of energy ran into her body and every trace of electrical power in a five block radius blocks disappeared, for a few terrifying seconds a whole neighborhood was paralyzed, but it wasn't enough. For the clear night sky one single lighting bolt slashed the night, crashed the window of Terry's room and struck her right through her chest, frying every power cable in the building in the process. Terry's body flew against the wall, where she lay motionless.
In the stillness of the dark room every sound was amplified, first came the crackling sound of the electricity dancing in small arcs from the bracelet towards various parts of Terry's body, Then there was the snapping, as every bone in Terry's body broke and reformed at accelerated speed, getting longer and changing their molecular structure to something inconceivable by normal science. Then came the stretching, as her skin and muscles stretched and twisted adapting themselves to her new enlarged frame, while matching the new superior composition of the bones. And soon came the ripping as the proportions of Terry's body changed so dramatically that her clothes could no longer contain her. The seams of her jeans gave up under the pressure of her new powerful thighs, which connected to a pair of magnificent round, strong and supple buttocks. The lines of her tightly packed stomach became a little smoother, but without losing any amount of definition and power. Her t-shirt ripped down the middle showing the valley of her cleavage that became deeper by the second, as her breasts rose and grew from a nondescript A to a full E in a matter of seconds. The final enhancement was her face, her features shifted a bit, twisting and turning while a layer of new flesh appeared to replace the ruined mess caused by years of wrong diet and abuse. Even her hairs somehow shifted and changed.
One final bolt fired from the bracelet and jump-started Terry's heart. She opened her eyes and looked around, all her body ached and she felt a bit groggy. Trying not to slip she went to the bathroom, in an automatic movement she flipped the light switch before entering, but she failed to notice that there was no light at all. She grasped the washbasin for balance and the ceramic splintered under the grip of her fingers. “What the hell!” Terry looked at her hand, because it was her hand, it looked different, the fingers were longer, slimmer, more finely cut, each tipped with the lustrous oval of a perfectly manicure fingernail. She run her eye along the arm noticing that it looked different too, her muscles were still there, but their cuts were softer, rounder more feminine, without losing anything from their tough and dominating look. And that was just the tip of the iceberg, all her body has changed, she was now taller (at least 180cm by the looks of it), in no small part thanks to her long perfectly shaped legs. The stomach was still flat, but in some odd way rounder and more graceful, even if she couldn't really judge with her new breasts in the way. And this was where the unreality reached its apex, they were massive and full, but they didn't sagged like normal breasts of that size would, they stayed firm and full, a statement of her newly acquired powers. The slim and hard muscles she had acquired in the last five years adorned her frame in a new way, the cuts and valleys were still present, but the overall look was smother and more graceful, each muscle flowing into the next like water or flames. Everything warped up in a honey-brown skin that seemed to glisten like silk.
The sense of grogginess was replaced by elation and a sort of drunkenness, Terry's hands explored every bit of her new body, traced every striation, caressed every sensitive spot. She was really drunk of her new incredible beauty and she was sure that everyone else will be even more. Then she finally raised her eyes to the mirror and gasped at the sight. The face that looked back wasn't hers, or rather it was in her dreams and fantasies, a heart-shaped thing of total beauty with full lips, high checks and slightly upturned eyes, crowned by a mane of silky, shiny black hairs. There was still something of her old self, enough to be sure that this was her body, but not enough to give anyone else more than a passing déjà-vu.
Experimentally she picked one of the ceramic splinters from the tiles and held between her thumb and forefinger, it felt as solid as always and sharp as hell. Slowly Terry increased the pressure until the little shard crunched and then was pulverized, without even denting her fingers. The excitement was too much and Terry started laughing hard, up to the point that she tumbled backwards – her head knocked the towel holder from the wall on the way down – and lay on the cold tiles of the bathroom for a long minute before being able to catch her breath again.
When she was finally able to catch her breath – not that she felt she needed anyway – Terry looked through her mind's eye to the event of the last hour. She felt there was something missing, some little element she needed to complete the picture. She focused on the bracelet, why didn't it work the first time? What was its trigger? As if on cue, a perfect photographic image of one page of the diary flashed in her mind, it was the description of the first night Superwoman transformed, it was hesitant and partial, but Terry's brain suddenly accelerated and, working at a million time the speed of a normal one, was able to discern the key facts in a split second. One phrase particularly touched her '[…] this was the strength I needed to save that poor kid […]', this was the explanation the bracelet wasn't a simple power source, it was a wish-fulfilling device. When the original Superwoman tapped into its abilities she just wished for the basics – strength, speed and toughness – and this cause a small short circuit, but Terry wished for so much more that the device had to absorb gigawatts of power to work. A devious smile appeared on her face, if the proportions of power absorbed and released remained constant she would be more powerful that Superwoman ever was. Nothing could stand in her way... except for one little thing.
The diary was very specific about one limit, the bracelet could maintain her powered only for six consecutive hours, after that it required about the same time to recharge. Lucky for her, there were two bracelets. 'I need the exact time.' Terry thought while moving back to the bedroom, no sooner than the thought formed in her mind she had a sense of vertigo and her sight zoomed forward, through the window, across the street and inside the window of the other building, closing on the wristwatch of an old woman working in her kitchen. The weirdest part was that she wasn't surprised at all, it was like she always knew that tiny detail, only she wasn't fully aware of it.
Once somebody told Terry that the human brain only registered a minuscule fraction of all the information its sense provide, to avoid overloading, it appeared that this particular limit was still in place. 'Well, maybe not for long.' Closing her eyes and projecting all her power inward Terry tried to access a new level of awareness. She felt her consciousness sliding through her neurons and gently caressing them, which responded by increasing their activity. The electrical charge of her brain increased by several orders of magnitude, with some interesting side-effects. The sensibility of Terry's senses magnified similarly, or rather her awareness. Her senses were still the same, but now she had the power to use them at 110%. Feeling now the caress of air against her naked skin Terry purred with delight. “Whoever said that intelligence isn't sexy is a monumental idiot. Actually everyone is now an idiot compared to me.”
Looking at her own reflection Terry explored her new form with her enhanced senses and even so she couldn't get enough, and she doubted she ever will. “Okay, focus girl, let's check the fundamentals first.” she snapped out. Clothes were the first order of business. While she loved her new body and she absolutely wanted to flaunt it as much as possible, running around in the tattered remains of her present outfit wasn't a good idea, especially if she wanted to keep something of a low profile. She checked out the backpack and found a couple of old shirts and jeans, smiling she turned toward the window, 'Thanks sis, you're always the best planner.'
In a flash she put the new clothes on and checked herself in the mirror. Low profile was about to be a problem anyway, her clothes were made for a shorter, skinnier and very less endowed girl. The shirt was stretched over her upper body and looked quite ridiculous hanging from the mountains of her breasts, but that was quite easy to fix, she just undid the buttons and tied the loose ends together , exposing her flat belly. The jeans were another problem, they were so tight that some of the crevices between her muscles were visible and she could pick the sound of the seams stretching close to the point of ripping. 'New first order of business, getting clothes that fits.' she thought while studying her profile 'And money too.'
With those thoughts in her mind, Terry went for the door and suddenly stopped, closing her eyes she focused on her hearing, someone was coming her way. It took half a heartbeat to review her memories and match one of the voices with the caretaker, he sounded worried and scarred while she talked about 'that skinny Mexican girl' with a silent presence at his side. Someone who smelled of gunpowder and breath-mints. Not eager to make scene, Terry zipped across the room collecting her few belongings and packing them at super-speed. She opened the window and waved a little goodbye to the empty room, then she simply hoped from the frame and her new super-powerful legs projected her into the night sky and to the roof across the street. Landing on her bare feet she turned around and zoomed all her senses into the room, the man was one of the Milord's Armani clones, he took a quick sweep of the place and turned to the caretaker with angry eyes. “That's what you deserve for charging me all that money asshole.” Terry chuckled while climbing down the fire ladder.
Just walking around was something of new experience for Terry. Not only did she get more than a handful of attention – and she didn't even need her super-senses to pick up the cat calls, lustful stares and envious comments – but also her frame felt completely different. Her strides were longer, more powerful and secure – even by simply strolling around the difference between now and before was incredible. A couple of men tried to hit on her and they had to jog at a quite fast pace to simply follow her around, not that she bothered to pay any attention to them.
Unfortunately the timing of her transformation wasn't that well chosen, it was already dark and except for the 24/7 no shop was open. Terry briefly considered to powering down and waiting for the morning, but she was still out of cash, so it was pretty pointless to wait. Plus there's no way anyone, anywhere could stop her from getting what she desired. With that in mind she dodged into a secondary alley, as soon as she was out of sight she instantly accelerated and disappeared from the sight, leaving only the vacuum effect flipping a garbage bin upside down and throwing a couple of unlucky bystanders on their asses.
Terry zipped through the town, nothing more that a gust of wind and a blur of motion for the few who spotted her. In a handful of seconds she reappeared in the middle of downtown, near the same bank she robbed five years ago. Looking down at the ATM she considered briefly to simply rip it from the wall and take the money 'This place already bring me luck once.' she thought feeling a sensual tingle at the idea of exercising her physical power in such a direct way, but something stopped her. While she wanted some cash to fuel her new start, she didn't want to get it from just a random guy. She knew from personal experience that, when things like a robbery happened, the banks usually refunded the big customers, but let the little guys down. Another idea flashed through her mind, not as rough and physical as the other, but enough to give her a little thrill. Just a few blocks away there was a famous restaurant, the “Chez André”. So expensive that only the richest of the city could afford its prices, so exclusive that it had a waiting list one month long and so refined that it could demand payment only in solid cash, no kind of plastic allowed.
In another blur Terry reached her new target and examined it. She never had the chance to go in, but she had a pretty good idea of the interior, everyone in the city knew about it. One small main room and several private ones with a single table suitable for no more than four, and by the looks of it the place was packed. Terry concentrated for a moment and her super-hearing filled her with the sound of dozens of conversations going on in the nearby buildings. Concentrating harder, she started filtering the noise out and closed her senses to all but the restaurant.
Even so the noise was a complex mess, silverware clicking against ceramic, the gurgling of wine down the customer throats, the half-curses of a cook that saw his best dish ruined by a moment of distraction, the giggles of a woman, the steps of the waiters. Everything was garbled together, yet somehow she started to pin-point each sound on her mental map of the place. Little clicks and squeals indicated the doors of the private rooms, the hissing and boiling were clearly from the kitchen and, with one little step further, the clicks and chomps became customers.
It was a fantastic sensation, not totally dissimilar from the guilty pleasure of stealing a bit of cake or peeking through a keyhole – only on a much greater scale. Strength and speed felt fantastic, almost erotic, but for some reason this was different. The excitement and arousal were so great that Terry's mind raced forward, showing her what she could do now. She imagined to run, to run faster than any animal, any machine on Earth, faster than the human eye could see, to run right through the door and zipping across the restaurant completely invisible while the rest of the world remained frozen in place. She thought about her hand slipping inside the men pockets, strong enough to tear their bodies apart, yet gentle and fast enough to pick their money without them noticing. She pictured stealing the jewels from the ladies neck and fingers without them noticing, taking her time to choose between them those who matched her tastes and, perhaps, crushing the others to powder between her thumb and forefinger. She laughed at the idea of switching plates, emptying glasses, maybe even taking something from the customers, like a toupee or a handbag and placing it under the serving tray. And finally disappearing before everyone was even able to blink an eye leaving to the air pressure caused by her movement to trash the place.
Snapping out of her reverie, Terry realized she was just a moment close to actually zipping in. She already felt a pleasant burning in her legs, but forced herself to stop. While she knew she had the power to do exactly what she imagined, she also knew that it required more control than what she had so far. Breaking, jumping and running were all easy, just a matter of recalculating the applied effort, but this was completely different. This required precise control over her body and sensibility of touch – the kind that a violinist need years to perfect – and with barely half an hour of super-powers under her belt, not to mention the need to stay undercover a little longer, Terry decided for a less spectacular approach.
She circled the building like a predator, looking for the delivery entrance. During her old criminal stint she heard an interesting rumor about the place: due to its high bills and their cash only regulation there was a lot of money going around each evening, to prevent theft they used a policy similar to Las Vegas casinos. Which meant that money rested in the cashier desk only for a little while, every half hour or so, before the bulk of it was sent to a little safe in the back and, after closing, directly to the bank.
The delivery entrance was quite a contrast with the grandeur of the main entrance, but garbage rarely had the chance to complain. Still the little area was fenced and the tall fence was topped with a thick coil of barbed wire. Terry grasped the net and enjoyed the sensation of the metal mesh squeezing and collapsing between her fingers, but she just left a hole as large as her fist before taking a couple of steps back and jumping in the night sky again. After her previous jump across a whole street and over a roof this was almost a joke. Landing silently she waited a moment scanning for any other movement, there was none except for a old cat that regarded her with a mild interest before walking away. Reassured Terry approached the back door. It was thick and heavy, one of those fireproof doors that looked like it could withstand a direct hit from a rocket launcher. Only one problem with that, even Terry's pinky toe contained more power that an entire arsenal of last generation weapons. She simply tapped her left index on the keyhole for a moment before plunging it straight through the metal. The material strained for a second before collapsing and splitting around Terry's digit. A little twist of her wrist ripped the rest of the lock out from the frame allowing a discreet entrance.
Before going in, Terry peeked through the new hole she had just made. Inside it was a long dark hallway, judging by the sound the kitchen and the cellar were on the right side, just beyond the wall. On the left side there were four doors, most likely the locker rooms and bathrooms for the personnel. A faint buzz drew her attention, over the opposite wall there was a running surveillance camera. “Damn,” she hissed between her teeth “That piece of crap will ruin everything, unless...” a wild idea crossed her mind, it was a bit risky and required perfect timing and a lot of strength. Luckily she now had both in spades.
Just to be sure Terry tucked her hairs inside the shirt collar and waited for the camera to make a full sweep and to lose focus on the door. In that exact instant she sprang into action. Using her super-speed Terry zipped inside making sure to close the door after her but, even if she was moving faster than the proverbial bullet the camera, was already panning back. Terry crouched and jumped up to the ceiling, her fingers dug through plaster, getting hold upon the concrete beneath, with a fluid motion she did a powerful back thrust pulling her body flat against the ceiling, her bare toes drilled through the concrete as easily as her fingers. As the camera focused again on the door Terry was nowhere to be found.
Terry had to concentrate pretty hard not to laugh while she did her personal impression of Spider-man, slowly crawling along the ceiling. It was pretty funny to look at things upside down and it wasn't hard at all, she felt that she could remain in that position for the whole night, but duty called. The presence of the camera was a interesting clue, suggesting that the rumors were true. Still it was problem that she had to bypass somehow, there was no apparent way to go out without being spotted and cutting the cable was no option if the security was even minimally worth the money. Hanging around – quite literally – wasn't going anywhere, but it appeared luck was on her side. A young woman, by the look very close to Terry's age dressed as a waitress entered the scene, she looked tired and headed straight for one of the door. Terry decided to follow her, she waited for a moment to avoid the camera, then she opened her hands hanging by her toes only for a moment and swung herself inside the room.
It was a small locker room, so small that Terry almost landed on the back of the other woman. With a mid-air twists, as graceful as Olympic gymnast, she managed to land on her feet. The other woman opened her eyes wide and her lips trembled a second before opening. Terry saw the whole scene in super-slow motion as she leaped for the girl and placed her hand over her mouth. “Please don't scream.” she whispered. “I'm not here to hurt you.”
The other woman inhaled deeply and appeared to relax. “Can I remove my hand?”
The woman nodded slightly, she seemed somewhat to enjoy the situation. Terry slowly removed the hand and was taken by surprise as her captive half-kissed her palm. “What the...” she started, but decided to leave out the question, “What's your name?”
“Ok Lisa, listen to me. I'm not here to hurt you. I just came here to... retrieve something. But I need some information from you.”
“Yes...” answered the other woman in a strange tone – like she was in a sort of trance – and a look in her eyes between an adoring puppy and a starving nymphomaniac.
'Okay, this is getting weird.' was all that Terry was able to think. 'Either this girl has some big time malfunction or there's more something at work here. Perhaps it's me.' The more she though about it the more it made sense. The bracelet made her wishes true, giving her strength, speed and intelligence, all several times greater than any human could hope to achieve. She had dreamed of much more, of even more incredible abilities, but she hadn't figured them out yet. She also dreamed about being super-attractive and desirable, to be able to wrap people around her little finger simply by just walking pass them. And apparently it worked, but not exactly as expected, the people who saw her in the streets checked her out, but none seemed to fall in anything close to the adoration she was receiving right now. So what was the difference? Touching, she actually touched the girl, upon her mouth. Which means she had what? Some kind of super-flavor? That was probably beyond weird and straight down into the gross territory, not to mention wrong on several other levels.
Looking back at Lisa, Terry noticed one thing she was breathing deeply, not like she was hyperventilating, more like she was smelling something delicious. Something that she, with her brand new incredibly sensitive nose, was missing. Like her own smell. Experimentally she sniffed her own wrist. The smell was faint and subtle – probably because it was her own and she was used to it – but it was there and Terry felt the tingling sensation of arousal. The complex information about the bio-chemical reactions filled her brain, but she still lacked the technical knowledge to understand it, all she knew was that she had never smelled anything similar in her life. If she had to describe it, she smelled of spring, that smell of nature coming back to life, of hidden promises of sensuality and pleasure. A little mischievous smile crossed her lips, but before further testing she needed a couple of answers. “Alright Lisa, I want to know where the safe is. And who's guarding it.”
Lisa bobbled a little and pointed to the wall. “The safe room is just over there, Mike and Tim are guarding it.”
“Perfect.” Terry leaned over her new admirer. “Now I need you to take a little nap.” with this she blew a little kiss to Lisa carrying a concentrated dose of her enhanced pheromones. Lisa inhaled them deeply and her whole body shivered for a long moment before collapsing, completely conquered by the pleasuring sensation and with a dark stain forming inside her panties.
After resting Lisa on a bench, Terry moved one of the lockers to block the door and approached the wall, having no desire to flood the place or electrocute herself she placed her ear against it and delicately tapped, listening for the echoes. It took just a moment to distinguish between solid concrete and those spots where cables or pipes were. Then she met something strange, in a particular place the wall sounded hollow, but also kind of muffled. 'This sound very promising.'
With more careful taps, Terry located the muffled area, it was a square, about one meter across, pretty much at the height of her chest. Just to experiment Terry grasped a piece of it, her finger dug through the concrete like the proverbial hot knife through butter, with a little pull she ripped a fist sized chunk. Not only it felt of quite insignificant weight, but with a simple flex of her fingers it crumbled to dust, like a slice of cake in the hand of a too eager child. “This isn't even a challenge.” Terry half grumbled, half laughed. “How can I make it more challenging... Oh wait I know.”
As one of the few bonuses for good behavior in jail Terry got some internet time, she used it to research about Superwoman. To her surprise she discovered that the world first (and only) super-heroine still had quite a number of followers and was still the subject of many people fantasies and fan fictions. One special fixation of many authors were – quite understandably – her invulnerable boobs, Terry had lost count of how many stories revolved around Superwoman crushing, mangling, ripping or otherwise destroying stuff with just her breasts. As far fetched as it sounded, Terry found the idea of testing her softest parts against concrete, rebar and maybe reinforced steel very stimulating.
Taking a step back she pulled off her t-shirt, freeing her new and powerful breasts, which giggled for a moment before setting down high and proud over her chest, supported both by a thin layer of muscle and their own unreal firmness. She caressed them for moment, appreciating the combined sensation of overwhelming power wrapped in silky smoothness. “This is going to be the final test. If these babies are able to do it nothing will ever stop me.” she whispered thinking of the other bracelet hidden and charged inside her backpack.
As she spread her arms and leaned against the wall, Terry couldn't help feeling a bit silly, ripping solid concrete apart with just her breasts felt simply too unreal, not to mention cliché. At first her flesh acted as normal human flesh does, her breasts squashed against the wall, much to her disappointment – she was getting used to being surprised by her new self – but only for a brief moment. The crunching sound of breaking concrete was like music to her ears, the soundtrack of her new life. Terry started moving all over the place and enjoyed the strange sensation she was experiencing, it was somewhat akin to having a man five o'clock shadow brushing against her skin, with the occasional touch of cold metal from the rebar, but knowing that she was actually crushing concrete back to powder just with her boobs added a new sensation to the mix. Terry bit her lips as she felt her nipples stiffening with excitement, this was incredibly better than she ever imagined. The physical stimulation, the sensation of power and the acknowledgment of her own abilities merged together in something completely unexpected, overwhelmingly powerful and deeply erotic.
In less than a minute the wall section was completely crushed and with their final swing Terry's nipples touched the back of the safe, leaving two long dents in the dense metal. As much as she was enjoying these new sensations, Terry controlled herself, this part of the work required more finesse. She gave a playful squeeze to the tits, marveling of how easily she could move them around and sighed a bit resigned. The metal looked pretty thick and hard but, after feeling the power her softest parts had, Terry had absolute confidence in her possibilities. With a simple motion she extended her index and middle finger and plunged them in one of the crevices left by the nipples. The metal offered only minimal resistance to her superhuman flesh molding like soft putty around her digits. Having secured a good grip, she pulled her fingers sideways, like a super-powerful can-opener, slashing them across the border of the safe. Despite the strength of the material she barely felt any kind of strain, the metal oozing like Play-Doh and squeaking in protest as her fingers cut their way across the upper, right, and side of the plate.
With one final twist Terry finished and admired her handiwork, she had cut a very rough door in the back of the safe and now it was time to open it. Once again the alloy screamed in protests as it was bent and mangled its designers would never be able to predict. Terry took her time and enjoyed the process. Instead of simply opening it, she started to roll the dense metal into a sort of tube. The final result looked like a cartoon can of sardines. Inside there were two large bags of cash already counted and organized, licking her lips with greed, Terry started to plunder.
Meantime Lisa was slowly coming back from her sensual reverie. It was hard and a bit painful to do, she felt groggy and tired. After all, she just had one of the best orgasms of her life. She slightly opened her eyes and what she saw made her gawk with surprise. There she was. The woman – perhaps goddess was more appropriate – that incredibly beautiful and sensual creature, who had pretty much seduced her in mere second, was towering, bare-chested, over her with a smile both provocative and maternal. But what shocked Lisa back into full awareness was the sight behind the woman, the wall was broken like it had been ravaged by a crazed wrecking crew with sledgehammers and there was metal plate behind completely folded up into a tube. “W... What...” she muttered.
The other woman placed a finger over her lips and Lisa felt a bit groggy again. “I can't explain now, Lisa, but we'll meet again, soon.” then she turned and put her t-shirt back on. “And I'm confident you're going to keep my presence here a secret. Otherwise I will be forced to hurt you and I really don't want.” With powerful strides she reached for the door and moved the locker blocking it with just one hand.
“How do you know where to find me?” Lisa asked while trying to stand up.
Terry laughed “Oh, it's easy. I know where everyone is.” It was a bit of an exaggeration – she just checked Lisa's driving license before she woke up – but not too much, Terry was pretty confident she could locate Lisa halfway across town. Leaving this final remark pending she jumped through the door and leaved, much more boldly than she entered and richer by several thousand dollars.
The next morning was shopping time and Terry was prepared to enjoy it fully. The last night, after sneaking back to her room-for-rent, she unpacked both bracelets and left them charging the whole night so – in theory – she had at least twelve hours of powers to use as she pleased. Actually she was hoping not to deplete the full charge, she had plans for the evening that were even more interesting, but these plans required some better wardrobe.
In full daylight, Terry realized how much she had changed. No longer shaded by the uncertain illumination of streetlights, her beauty was no longer concealed. People stared at her from all angles, despite her worn attire. Men and women alike checked her out, some pretending to do something else, others openly staring without any shame. At first Terry simply kept going pretending not to notice, something difficult even without her super-senses. Feeling desired was a great change from her past self so she tried to enjoy it as much as possible. When she finally reached her intended destination – a large and quite expensive store in the middle of downtown – there were half a dozen guys stalking her and a small crowd of onlookers following her.
Looking at luxury entrance and the high quality of the merchandise, Terry felt a bit out of place. She was used to shopping at the mall or some small outlets in her neighborhood, this was another different class. For a brief moment she felt out of place, while she surely had the looks and the money to fit this kind of outfit, deep inside she was still the same old Terry she didn't know anything about how to behave in a place like this. Her hesitation allowed the onlookers to close in a bit and this gave her the push she needed to go in, hoping that they won't follow her inside.
Inside it was amazing! The store occupied the first two floors of the building, with the second one being a mezzanine that ran all along the walls. Terry stared openly at the assortment of items in front of her, everything looked so beautiful and polished, she smelled leather and silk, she spotted tons of brands used by the rich and famous, she felt a greedy need to go in and try everything.
A couple of salesgirls, pretty much of Terry's own age, were staring at her, apparently dumbfounded by her beauty, one was openly gawking, while the other was muttering some comments about 'having the money for a pair like those'. In a little bit of a twist Terry closed in to the mumbling girl and smiled “Excuse me. I'm looking for something new. Can you help me?”
The girl mouth opened and closed a couple of times without any sound coming out of it. Several looks passed and mixed on her face: surprise, admiration, wounded pride, envy, a sense of inadequacy and a bit of lust. Before leaving in the morning, Terry had tried to mask her own smell with a ton of deodorant – it was like trying to shoo a vampire after eating some garlic bread, but it worked. Still the girl reaction was testament to the power of Terry's new appearance. “Hey, are you okay?” Terry asked, half-mocking the girl.
Monica, the salesgirl, tried to snap back to a more professional look. Working in one of the hottest stores in town she had met a fair share of celebrities and beautiful people – the kind of standardized beauty that could be obtained from a plastic surgeon – but this woman was something else. While there was no wrinkle or blemish to be found on her, she also had a freshness, a feeling of authenticity that no scalpel-made look could hope to approach. She smiled back – actually it looked more like a rictus – at Terry: “Of course. Follow me, please.”
For the next couple of hour Terry felt like she was floating on a cloud. It wasn't simply the sense of unreal from putting on clothes so expensive and with styles so different from her old t-shirt and jeans look, it was also the fantastical concept of picking clothes fitting her new improved physique. Courtesy of her super-senses, she was experiencing everything at maximum intensity, from the soft touch of silk to the tightness of a leather miniskirt. She also discovered a couple of interesting things: first that thanks to her new and improved sense of balance she could wear any kind of heel without trouble, high, low, stilettos all felt as comfortable as a pair of sneakers; second that all her clothes had to be a perfect fit, she couldn't squeeze herself into a smaller size. The first time she tried this, with a Victoria's Secret bra, her breasts overpowered the clasp as soon as she took a breath. The unfortunate garment sailed over the changing room and ended up hanging from the chandelier.
At the same time Terry had some fun at the expense of Monica. Aside from having the poor salesgirl gawking every time she walked out from the changing room in a new outfit – bearing herself with such power and style that Monica was falling for Terry, even if she wasn't wired that way – she also made sure to gently bump her breasts and her ass into the other girl a couple of times, just to prove that they were 100% real and powerful.
Monica, on her side, was having major trouble concentrating. The woman was intoxicating! Not only she was curvier than almost any other woman she could think of – short of extreme plastic surgeon works – she was also built. Under Terry's honey-brown skin, Monica could see her muscles contracting and relaxing in a dance of incredible power and grace. Monica was confused, she wasn't a lesbian at all – actually she was a bit homophobic – but she desired this woman, she wanted to be with her, she wanted to be her. Dizzy, Monica leaned on a bench to catch her breath and she felt something touch her. Terry embraced the other girl from the back, letting her sample her incredible figure one more time, and whispered to her hear in a tone both motherly and alluring: “Maybe you should take your coffee break now, you look really tired.” Monica felt her pussy becoming wet and ran to the nearest bathroom, uncertain if she was about to wash herself with ice cold water or finger herself into an orgasm, while Terry snickered at the scene.
More or less Terry had made her choice and start packing her many purchases before proceeding to the cash desk. While she was putting a pair of shoes back in their box she felt a presence behind her. Her super-senses had worked overtime for the whole morning and she was tempted to dismiss her sensation as a momentary lapse, but there was no mistake, the sound of paces, the breath on the back of her neck, whoever was he was getting closer. Trying to play it cool, Terry ignored him, the man – she was pretty sure he smelled male – close in further and suddenly groped her left cheek. Terry flushed in equal measure with embarrassment and rage, she was about to turn and slap the man – likely decapitating him in the process – but she froze and decided to play with the poor bastard a little. With incredible speed, her left hand reached back and covered that of her molester before he could move, “You like this, don't you?” she asked in her sluttiest voice. The man whispered a yes and tried to pull his hand away. Terry kept him steady, making a bit of scene. “I like it too, please continue.”
The molester seemed to be a bit surprised by this development and stood there. Terry took the initiative and guided his hand in a circular massage of her cheek. After a moment he got the message and continued on his own. Terry faked some groan and the molester whispered in her ear: “You aren't going to do a scene, right?”
Grinning inside Terry retorted “I won't, if you won't.”
With those words she clenched her super-strong butt muscles, causing her ass to become harder than a wrecking ball. The molester was puzzled by the sudden transformation, but had no time to think about it as Terry's hand locked his own against that new hardness. Slowly – and not without feeling a certain sadistic satisfaction – Terry increased the pressure, sandwiching the molester's hand between her invulnerable flesh. In a few moments her super-hearing started to detect the cracking sounds of the man's bones fracturing, she almost had the impression of being able to detect the fracture lines by touch alone. The man was about to cry, but Terry half turned and silenced him with her free hand, she was surprised to see that he was a well dressed man – a young, rampant lawyer or broker by the looks – grinning openly she mocked him “I won't scream, if you don't scream.”
In a few moments more the simple calcium bones of the young man shattered under the tons of pressure Terry was casually applying. She released him from her vice and smiled “I hope this lesson will be enough. The next time I'll rip your hand off.” Without dignifying him of another look she strode away with authority toward the cash desk.
Now she was almost ready for her evening. There was only one more thing she wanted, something she spotted in a Frederick's of Hollywood window just down the road.
The rest of the day was a long agonizing wait for Terry. After changing back to her normal self, she went back to her room and simply waited for the evening to arrive. The only distraction she allowed herself was rereading the diary. Thanks to her current experience and a couple of calculations she had made the night before taking full advantage of her superior intelligence, many passages were now clearer and easier to understand. There were two big questions that the diary didn't answer: “where did the bracelets come from?” and “could they work with other people?” Actually the diary seemed to imply that the answer to second answer was no, but it was unclear if the people who tried them on from time to time failed because they were somehow unfit or they didn't understand the wish mechanism – something that even the original Superwoman seemed unaware to a degree.
Finally the evening arrived and Terry could no longer contain her excitement, as soon as the clock stroke the 19:00 she pulled the curtains, locked the door and triple checked every window, this was her special moment and she didn't want anybody to bother her. Stripping naked she gave a long look to her old plain self while marching to the bathroom, in many ways she still liked being herself – it was like slipping in a old worn sweater – but now she could be so much more, that she wouldn't be content with anything less than her new spectacular powers and gorgeous body. Looking at herself in the mirror Terry half-smiled, causing the little scars on her left cheek to wrap in a strange way “See you in the morning girlfriend.”
With a swift and precise motion Terry donned the bracelet on her left wrist and waited as the next heartbeat triggered the transformation. She noticed that the transformation came faster than before – as if her body was getting use to the energy flow. At first there was pain, just s brief moment as the energy spike from the bracelet shot through her nerves until touching her brain, triggering the reaction necessary for the transformation, then the pleasure begin. At first all her body smoothed losing the hard angles, her muscles became rounder and shapelier flowing into each other like water, at the same time her skin stretched and smoothed into the new silky softness and the tone changed into the honey-brown that she was starting to love so much. These changes felt great, like having a hot bath followed by a full body massage, but she knew that they were just the appetizer. As soon as she relaxed a pleasant heat started forming in her chest and flowing in her bloodstream with each heartbeat. Each pulse send the heat further and deep until every cell was filled with energy, then another beat pushed against the limits of her body and again with each successive pulse. The push was a curious mixture of strain and pleasure, growing with each successive heartbeat, until her body was bursting with so much energy that the only choice was growing or exploding. “Oh yeah, this is the best.” Terry moaned while the 'growth spurt' started. With each successive pulse she grew a little bit, slowly adding centimeters – especially in her legs – to her height until she reached her new maximum of 185cm, all her proportions adjusted so she was now a tall, strong and powerfully built figure and the final step was just about to begin. Terry placed her hand on her hips, just like she recalled Superwoman usually did, and watched, there was a small bump in her chest and the breasts started to grew in size, the jump of four cup size only took mere moments but thanks to her now superior abilities Terry enjoyed the powerful erotic sensation for a much longer time.
As the last details of the transformation stabilized Terry gave herself an appreciative look in the mirror, having missed her first transformation she felt the need to explore each successive one at its fullest. There was one detail she was unhappy about were her hair, she was used to short cuts and her current tresses were fantastic but highly impractical. Still she noticed that some details had changed, slightly, from one transformation to the next. So small that she wouldn't have noticed without her super-senses. This gave her a wild idea, she closed her eyes and pictured her new superhuman self, but with short hair. She felt a bit of a buzz washing her scalp and, when she opened her eyes, her hair was actually shorter a perfect replica of the pixie cut she had imagined. This, she decided, required further exploration, but for the moment she had other thing to do.
Before leaving the bathroom she took a can of deodorant spray and applied a lot of it to cover her hypnotic scent, again she was the first to admit that it was a temporary and almost useless measure. In the main room she took her time to fish among her purchases and put various possible outfits together. Various style of dresses and footwear were matched and discarded and, in the end, she decided for a simple strapless black leather mini dress and a matching pair of stiletto heeled sandals that pushed her height to a new astonishing total of 196cm. Literally dressed to kill, Terry left the room and marched out of the building with long and authoritative strides. She slowed down just a moment to flash a dazzling white smile to the kid beyond the counter, who was barely 13 and temporarily replaced the old man who was still at the hospital after the savage beating of the last evening. Just a moment after stepping out of the door, Terry heard the boy rushing to the bathroom, most likely to take care of his young erection.
Her intended target was almost across town and Terry was still trying to lie low for the moment, but she didn't want to take a cab, so she resolved to turn into a secondary alley and jumped over the closest roof, scaring a couple of cats in the process. From the roof she started to run and jump across town, counting on darkness and speed to hide her. Going almost in straight line toward her target and keeping a moderate speed of 70 km/h – mostly to avoid breaking her heels – she arrived at the target about six minutes later.
From the outside the place didn't look like much, just a small, quiet cocktail bar at downtown, but these was one other face of the place, two floors above there was a private casino, accessible only by a stair in the back of bar. It was one of the many joints the “Milord” used to launder his money. Terry jumped down in a nearby alley and made her way to the entrance.
The bar was pretty fancy place with the overall design very reminiscent of the 70s – with many curved surfaces, chromed details and large use lacquered panels. The patrons ranged from the upper 20s to the 40s, all rich, high-flying and quite good-looking. Martinis and rumors about tomorrow stock market were the staple of the place, but all conversations faded as soon as Terry made her entrance. Not only she was by far the most beautiful woman in here, and she towered over the tallest patron by at least fifteen centimeters with her current amazonian frame, her posture was a subtle message, she wasn't afraid to kick the butt on any person too bold to touch her without permission. Sitting at the counter she was approached by a portly barman with a pair of Stalin's mustache that gave him the overall appearance of a walrus, to his credit he didn't stammer or make any Freudian slip: “What can I bring you, miss?”
Terry picked a 50$ bill from her purse and pushed it across the counter. “Scotch, straight, no ice.” The man picked up the bill with professional detachment. “And keep the change.”
The barman eyebrows shivered for a moment, “Anything else, miss?”
“Yes, I'm looking for a good game, and I've heard that I can find it here.” Terry said in a lower voice.
The barman rubbed the bill between his fingers and pocketed it. He was back in a minute with Terry's drink. He watched until the coast was clear pretending to dust the counter. “Well, Miss.” he whispered, “The boss was very specific about not allowing uninvited guests... but he never said anything about pointing them in the right direction.” he said tilting his head toward a small door concealed by a frosted glass divider.
Terry sipped her drink in one swift motion and marched to the door. Behind it she found a narrow hall leading to a flight of stairs, without hesitation she climbed up to the top where she met a massive bouncer.
William was a massive man, since his youth he loved to exercise and by the time he was 19 and enlisted with the Marines he was already bigger than many full grown men. After two years and tour of duty in Afghanistan he quit the corps and became a professional bodyguard. During the years he had met tons of women – covering almost the entire spectrum of female looks offered by the human race – but the one approaching was definitely a class by itself. It wasn't just her beauty that stunned him, but also her size, she was almost as tall as him – without her heels – in no small measure thanks to her endless legs and she looked absolutely powerful. His eyes were immediately magnetized to her dark eyes, she met his gaze exuding a self-confidence that took William by surprise. She wasn't afraid of him in the least, he even sensed a bit of challenge in her gaze, but he was paid to keep people out and so he moved to intercept her. “May I help you, miss?” Despite his brutish look he took a certain pride to show some manners, his mother raised him well after all.
“Yes, I'm looking for the casino.”
William frowned “The casino is invitation only, I can't let you in if don't have one.”
Terry pushed a bit closer, letting her chest brush against William's. “Are you sure you can't make an exception? I'm just looking for a good game, I won't cause any trouble.”
William felt his perspiration triple and had major trouble concentrating. He had never taken steroids or other similar stuff, but even without them his libido was very strong and this woman was sending it into overdrive. Sense of duty, lust, professional pride and animal instinct were elbowing each other inside his brain. Terry noticed the state of uncertainty and decided to raise the stakes a bit, she gave him a little push pinning his back against the wall and delicately rubbed her bare knee against his thigh. “Are you sure I can't persuade you?” She was feeling a bit dirty, behaving in such a cliché way, but it was also quite fun to watch the big bouncer unable to handle her.
“No... Yes...” William stammered, “Oh God...”
He was almost cooked to perfection, Terry thought, and he just just needed a little push. “Listen, we can do this two ways. Number one, you can open that door and I'll be very grateful or...”
Terry cocked back her index like she was about to fling a marble “... or I'm going to beat you into unconsciousness.”
For along moment William looked at Terry's index like it was a loaded gun, then he exploded in long laugh. He laughed hard for a whole minute, until he cried and gasped for air. “Okay, lady, I haven't a fun like that in years, you can go in.” he managed to say while looking for the key to the soundproofed door.
Terry smiled, this wasn't exactly how she planed the thing – actually she was tempted to knock him out, just for the fun of doing it with just one finger – but it worked great nonetheless. She rummaged her purse and picked out a little calling card, “A promise is a promise, this is my number if you ever want to go out for a drink.”
William gave along appreciative look to Terry's spectacular back while she entered the casino, he felt the luckiest man on Earth, and he probably was.
The casino shared a similar design with the bar below, only few details set them apart: first the colors were deeper and darker, the red became burgundy, the white a sort of bony yellow and so on; second the light was more soft and discreet, the tables were well illuminated, but the space between was shaded in a constant penumbra.
Contrary to what happened before, Terry's arrival passed almost unnoticed, all the people there were either hardcore gamblers or too distracted by their respective companions to be bothered. Terry gracefully blended with the shadows, moving between the various tables, studying the players and eavesdropping on their conversations. People rarely used names here, but she recognized a couple of wealthy businessmen and at least three local politicians among the crowd, this made her angry, there was no way these people could be there without an invitation, which meant that they were buddies with the “Milord”. She took two steps and was about to grab the first of them and throw him against the nearest wall, but she stopped. These were rich people, greedy people by the looks of it, to hurt them she had to strike for their wallets. This caused a change of plans, she went there to thrash the place and send a message to the “Milord”, but now she wanted to milk his buddies a little first. She immediately ruled out the roulette, even with her powers and skills it was still a pure game of chance, Black Jack was also out – she never like the game – but, even before prison, she was quite good at poker and there was a classic five-stud game going on.
Sticking to the shades Terry took her time to evaluate the game and the players, none of them was a newbie, but none was a pro either. They all played for the thrill, but she was going to play for winning. To increase her chances Terry tried a little experiment, she already knew that she could spot the tiniest detail of a scene in a single glance, so she tried something a bit different, looking at the current hand she picked a card and focused on it, following its movements over the table. For three full hands she followed the ace of spades around, never missing a single passage, galvanized she tried to follow two cards at once, then three, then for. In less than five minutes Terry had tagged each card and was almost able to predict the outcome of each hand.
Confident of her ability to rob all of them blind, she approached the table like she owned the place – something that may be true in the near future. The players made room for her and one of them was about to embrace her as his personal lucky charm. Terry simply swatted the hand aside a picked a roll of papers from her purse. The other players looked each other knowingly and one of them speak for all “So, the lady is here to play.”
Terry exhibited a feline smile of satisfaction. “As long as I know the limit, I don't think there will be any problem.”
“Ah, ah. In this fine joint, miss, the sky is the limit.”
“The sky is the limit...” Terry murmured, savoring each word.
The game continued and it was pretty clear that none of the player could even remotely hope to match Terry. Not only she was able to follow the flux of the game by keeping mental tags on the cards, and the croupier wasn't even remotely fast enough to confuse her, but the reaction of the other players were a open book to her, breath, perspiration and heartbeat speed were all signs she could read to determine when one was bluffing or not. She started with about one tenth of the money any other player had, but in less than thirty minutes the less skilled players had to pool their resources together to match her game. A politician and two stockbrokers were out fast and, in a few more minutes, there were only three players at the table: a wealthy tycoon in his late 50s, a good-looking guy that seemed pretty familiar with the croupier and Terry herself.
The tycoon was the biggest cash cow of the evening, he seemed to have an endless pursue. He lost 5000 $ like it was nothing, but he was also a lousy loser, after two consecutive bad hands a vein in his forehead started to pulse, two more and he looked like he was about to chew through the table. There was one more bad hand and he seemed ready to explode, his escort – who looked quite seasoned, maybe it was really his wife – placed a hand on his forearm and the man calmed down a bit. Terry seized the opportunity to make a quite bold proposal. “Gentlemen, this might take forever, what do you say about trying something different?”
The two looked a bit puzzled and waited for an explanation. “One more hand, we play all in and let the fate decide.”
The tycoon laughed, “Well, lady, I admire your spirit. This has been a lousy night, so it makes sense closing with a bang.”
The woman at his side looked worried, “Robert...” she muttered.
The man turned and kissed her on the cheek “Don't worry dear, I promised you that this is going to be my final casino night and you know I always keep my word. So, please, let me indulge a little longer.”
Terry looked away, somehow that scene touched her very deeply and she felt ashamed. Meantime the third guy gave a sly nod to the croupier and announced “In this case I'm fine. I prefer to win my money the old way, but there's no point in arguing.”
The croupier signaled something and seemed to get the okay from his boss. With deceptively slow gestures he shuffled the cards and started to deal the hand. He had just dealt the second hand when Terry reached across the table faster than a cobra, from her point of view he was moving in full slow motion and she was clearly seeing what he was doing. Her hand grasped his extended middle finger and twisted it out of its socket with less effort than many people used to break a breadstick. “Sorry, mister, no bottom dealing with me.” Terry grinned, this was what she was waiting for, finally a chance to do some real damage.
There was a moment of pure, deafening silence, even the croupier forgot to scream while the realization of pain reached his brain, then a single syllable from his lips cause havoc. The patrons started to run bumping into each other and trampling those unfortunates enough to fall. Terry didn't want any of this, in her eyes these people were dealing with the devil and she wanted them to pay the full penalty. Her figure became a dark blur as she zipped across the room, getting to the door moments before the first of the terrorized patrons, along the way the ripped a long brass tube from the counter.
The mob stopped as they spotted the tall superwoman next to the door. Terry gave all of them a stern look, “I'm sorry for you people, but none get out of here until I say so.” Before anybody could react Terry wedged one end of the bar into the wall, then twisted the rest around the doorknob and finally wedged the second end in the wall. For all the witnesses the sight was amazing, this incredibly beautiful woman was twisting and mangling a solid piece of metal with nothing but her bare hands and no apparent effort. But it was the sound that did the trick, the squeaking noise of tortured metal caused all of them to take a step back – and a couple of them to lose control of their bladders.
“That's better now...” Terry started but one of the patron, more angry, more drunk or simply more foolish interrupted her.
“Do you have any idea of what have you done? Do you know who we are?” he screamed hiding in the middle of the crowd.
Terry 's eyes narrowed to a pair of slits, cold and deadly. She walked toward the screamer and the crowd parted in fear. “I know you well Mr. Sanders. You're one of the richest men in this state.” Terry hissed softly.
The acknowledgment of his position galvanized the man a bit “That's right missy, so you don't want to mess with me.”
Terry slapped him, causing one of his teeth to fly out of his mouth, “And you're the bastard that bought the Leiber Chemical Plant, disregarded all the safety measures for processing chemical wastes and then dismantled it before any proper investigation.” The crowd felt silent those were one of the dirty little secrets of the city, thing that everybody knew about but none spoke about.
“And don't think that any of you can get out free.” Terry continued, looking like a predator. “Like you Mr Carlson. Our beloved town councilor...”
Terry was raising the stakes by the second, exposing several of those dirty little secrets and amply demonstrating that she wasn't afraid at all of these rich bastards. Several of them were sweating profusely and it didn't take long for the situation to get out of hand. John Sanders was a coward and the kind of man that value life just in terms of money, he had lots of money so his life was more worthy than this bitch. He poked his bodyguard and pointed to Terry, he selected the man for two reasons: first his size, second he was a hardcore killer, a man with no moral qualms at all. The big brute elbowed his way through and grabbed Terry's shoulder with the grace of a 70 tons bulldozer. “Show's over, lady.”
Terry didn't even bother to turn around, her hand reached for the man's massive pawn and twisted it.
“Nobody!” the man felt all his arm articulations bending in a painful lock.
“Touches!” she increased the pressure popping and snapping his fingers, casually exerting several tons of pressure.
“Me!” the man was crying profusely. Terry pulled back her free hand delivering a terrifying haymaker that sent the man flying across the room like a rag doll. He smashed against the wall and lay there unconscious. He would recover, eventually, months later and had a major change of heart – thanks to another meeting with an enraged Terry – becoming a voluntary for a mission in Africa, but this is another story.
Two other men pulled out their handguns and opened fire on Terry's back. The first couple of bullets drilled hole in the back of her tube dress and splattered against her dark skin leaving just a couple of stains, all that she felt was a delicate poking and of course the detonations just microseconds after the impacts. Turning at super-speed Terry saw the two gunmen depressing the triggers again in slow motion, even the bullets were pretty much floating out of the barrels instead of flying. Terry simply caught them in mid-air with a single hand. For a brief moment she stood there with her right hand on her hip, holding two smoking bullet neatly wedged between the fingers of the left, a living impossibility. The next moment she rush the gunmen before they could shot again and clogged their barrels with her index fingers, the bullets hit the ground almost a full second later. The look on the gunmen's faces was priceless, Terry grinned and nodded at their guns “I'd stop shooting, if I were you.” One of the two was either very stupid or very well paid, he squeezed the trigger. The bullet flew through the barrel propelled by the incandescent gas of the detonation, until it met the proverbial immovable object, Terry's digit. The bullet squashed sealing the barrel shut and the expanding gasses filled the barrel and kept expanding in a split second the handgun detonated like a grenade, reducing the man's hand to a bloody pulp and sending shrapnel all around.
Terry took the bulk of the explosion and was able to intercept almost all the shards while still in flight. Overall it took less effort than she used to catch mosquitoes. Looking down at the idiot gunman Terry felt the need to help him, he was an imbecile – how much brain he needed not to fire after seeing what she did – but none should die for stupidity. She needed a way to stop the blood, and there was only one way she could think of. “Give me your gun.” she ordered to the other man who was just standing dumbfounded, half-deafened by the explosion.
“Now!” She snatched the weapon from his hand and ejected the clip.
Focusing on the wounded man, Terry used her left hand to clamp the stump, while she rubbed the metal against her thigh at several times the speed of sound, there was a acrid smell of burning metal and within moments the gun was red hot. Terry looked the man into his eyes and hissed very softly, “You won't die, do you understand? But you're about to feel so much pain that you will wish to.” The man half-nodded and she pressed the red hot metal against the stump, he howled like a madman for a long second before passing out.
She stood up and the crowd backed away in fear. “Now I hope that you're done with stupid ideas.” she said with the same tone her teacher in primary school used to lecture her class. The answer was unfortunately no. Despite the soundproofed walls the commotion didn't pass unnoticed and a group of four bouncers – including William – appeared from a secondary entrance brandishing pistols and a shotgun. As soon as he spotted them Sanders started screaming and pointing at Terry. The bouncers took the clue and opened fire on her. Terry didn't react and for the next ten seconds she let them pour dozens of bullets across he amazonian frame, she even started to appreciate the subtle difference between solid bullets and the pellets of a shotgun blast.
The four men stopped firing and remained completely astonished. Their eyes were burning with the cordite, the barrels of their weapons were smoking, but the woman simply stood there. The only apparent result was to tatter her clothes, exposing large parts of her smooth, dark skin, especially where the shotgun had ripped entire chunks of fabric. Terry was amused and pissed off at the same time. Amused by how ineffectual their barrage was. Pissed off that these four fired on her just because a horrid little man told them so, not to mention by the fact that her new dress was now completely ruined. But this gave her the chance to do something she was dying to try.
An average human male has a lung capacity of six liters, Terry's lungs were able to contain several dozen times that amount. She started to inhale deeply, filling her lungs with several metric cubes of air in a few seconds. This caused her breasts to rise even more prominently on her frame, ripping the front of her dress a little more and exposing several centimeters more of her cleavage. This alone was enough to gave her the undivided attention of the whole room, even those few that were trying to escape. As soon as all the eyes were fixated on her Terry blew. This wasn't a gentle puff – like the kiss she did the last evening on Lisa – it was more like the huffing and puffing of the big bad wolf, from the “O” of her invulnerable lips came a stream of icy cold air moving at the speed of a tornado. The four bouncers didn't even have the time to react, they were thrown against the wall – one right through the open door from where they came – their weapons hissed a little while the frozen air it the smoking barrels. Terry kept them pinned for little longer than needed, but she was sure to keep them conscious, she had a message to deliver after all.
William was feeling horribly. It was like he had just get down from a roller coaster after eating six cans of chili and he felt like his head was filled with cotton candy. The worst part was that everything was caused by the simple puff from the same woman he let in before, but that wasn't right. Like anyone else in the world he knew of the Superwoman, she was a major page of the 20th century history, but this woman couldn't be her, the Superwoman was dead, wasn't she?
Terry walked up to William, grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and hoisted him up. “I'm sorry, mister. I really am, but I need you to do something for me.”
William was able to mutter a faint “What?” between his frost covered lips.
“I need you to tell your boss that this is just the beginning. Tell Tony that I'm coming for him, that I'm going to crush his little kingdom like the horrible pimple it is, that no matter what he does there's no stopping me.” She whispered. “And tell him I hope he'll be ready for me, I haven't even started to test my real limits. Do you understand?”
William nodded and was relived when Terry smiled back at him. She put him down on a chair and proceeded with her plan. First she ripped another length of brass tube and used it to lock the secondary door. Then she zipped back at the poker table and gathered the money she won and packed it in her purse – luckily they were mostly big cuts – then she turned to the assembled crowd. “Well, people, if you want to leave here safe and sound there's only one way: place all your money on the table.”
The crowd was dumbfounded by this new development, despite all the crazy thing they just saw the evening was boiling down to a simple robbery. Many started to insult Terry and she was almost prone to let them go, until the B-word rolled out of someone's mouth. Quite obviously Terry had little problems pinpointing the unfortunate insulter. She marched to him slowly, savoring the terror her simple presence was causing, grabbed the man and smacked him against the wall. “Now Mr. Sanders, it seem that you really have a death wish, don't you?”
Sanders panicked and flung his fists to Terry, in a futile attempt to hurt her. Terry simply stood there pondering how stupid this man was, he saw bullets crumpling against her skin and, yet, he hoped that his blows could have some effect, aside from boring her to death. In a minute Sanders was exhausted and his fists were full of bruises, he even managed to broke his left index. Terry kept him pinned and turned to the rest of her prisoners. “The point is simple, to be here you have to be invited, which means that one way or another you're all dealing with the worst scum this city ever produced.”
She clutched Sanders's right hand and started to pull, she could feel the man's ligaments opposing some feeble resistance against her vastly superior strength. Sanders howled like a madman for along second before passing out, he had never been trained to withstand pain. “And like all those who deal with the devil, it's time to pay the price.”
Sander's hand popped out of its socket, its bones were a mess that only some of the best surgeons in the world could hope to fix. Terry took his wallet and threw it on the table “Now, unless you want to end like this bonehead there...”
Terry didn't have to finish the sentence, one by one all the presents added their money, credit cards and other valuables to the pile, then they all stepped back waiting for Terry to claim her loot. Grinning, Terry ripped the safe-box out of the chief croupier table and took a bottle of vodka from the casino's bar. She poured the contents of both over the pile – and some alcohol over her right hand – then she took a golden lighter from the pile and set it aflame. The fire quickly spread over the pile of valuables and her soaked hand, which still remained unscorched. Some people were about to threw themselves over the burning mass to save some money, so great it was their greed, Terry couldn't help but laugh at such a pathetic sight. She slowly waved her hand to the assembled crowd and hissed. “I hope you all have learned a lesson here. Because I won't repeat myself. If I ever met any of you in a place like this in the future, you will be very sorry!” She stated in a flat tone, while smothering the flames with her left hand. It wasn't a threat, for her it was just a matter of fact.
Terry was about to make her final scene when she spotted the old couple from the poker table and she felt guilt gnawing her guts. They were horribly afraid, like all the other, but instead of fixating on her they were holding each other hands and clearly getting strength from that contact. It took years and a great love to make such a simple gesture so powerful. Terry tried to look away, but she couldn't. “Lady can you please come here a moment.” she said trying to keep a tough facade.
The old man rose, like he was about to face Terry, but his wife stopped him, either she had a great intuition or she was afraid of what this super-girl could do to him. Terry put an arm around the older woman shoulder and took her just out of earshot. “Take these.” Terry said handling her a roll of cash, and barely keeping her voice in check. “It's all I won to your husband. Take these and keep him out of trouble.”
The old woman was speechless for a moment and Terry feared that she was about to threw the money back and yell, but she didn't. There was something strange in the lady's eyes, something that Terry couldn't really identify, but made her feel better. While the old woman was returning to her husband Terry whispered softly. “You're one lucky woman, he really loves you.” The lady smiled softly, like she heard that remark.
“Now you'd better move out of the way, people.” Terry announced while cracking her knuckles. “'Cause I'm about to bring down the house.” And she really did, in the next few minutes Terry poured out all the frustrations of the last five years. Each table that collapsed under her punches, each wall broke by her feet, each chair ripped in half were a small cathartic moment for her. In those few minutes she caused thousands dollars of property damage and it felt amazing. Finally satisfied Terry picked up her purse and prepared for her grand exit.
“Wait, how are we supposed to go?” one of the bystanders interrupted her.
“You won't.” smiled Terry.
“But you said...”
“I said that you'll leave here safe you you complied. I never said that I was about to set you free. You just have to wait for the police...” Her smiled became a wolf-like grin. “... and answer their questions.”
Leaving these words hanging Terry leapt through the room main window – a complicated piece of stained glass meant to look like a roulette – and soared across the street, she hit the front of the opposite building and rebound. Using this wall jumping technique she cleared the buildings, she was hilarious and felt finally free for the first time in years. She purportedly miscalculated her last jump and, instead on landing on the top of the intended building, she rose into the night sky. It was a fantastic sensation, she felt like she had really left all her worries and problems down in the dirt. For a long moment she closed her eyes and waited for gravity to reclaim her, but it didn't happen. Terry slightly opened her eyes and saw the impossible, she was floating dozens of meters from the ground. “The sky isn't the limit!” she laughed. Then she simply wished herself toward her home and her body shot through the night air faster than a jet. So fast it was her disappearance that Terry failed to notice the faint clicks and buzz of a camera with telephoto lens from the roofs below.
Ken Loxford took his last shot just a moment before the flying woman disappeared. He knew that keeping an eye on that bar was good idea, but this was way beyond his wildest imagination. Without a moment of hesitation he flipped his cellphone open and called his director.
“Hello.” a grumpy voice answered.
“Chief, it's Ken. I've just got something juicy for you.” he said, savoring the words like a glass of wine. “And I think you should change tomorrow's headline.”
“Listen, Loxford.” The chief spatted, pretty irritated by the cockiness of Ken's voice. “Unless you have the photo of the goddamned Second Coming, I'm not interested.”
Ken smiled “Funny you should say that chief...”
The next morning the city had apparently gone mad. The “Herald”, the local newspaper, had published Ken's photos – after some judicious photoshopping to cover some of Terry's skin – with the headline “The Return of Superwoman?”. They weren't very good pictures due to Terry's speed and the nocturnal illumination, but enough to make everyone wild with speculations.
Terry, for her part, stayed out of the discussion, secretly smiling. Early in the morning she moved out of her room-for-rent, now she had the money to afford a good place. But, at the moment, she was starving and she went to the local Starbucks for breakfast. There was a TV-set and the newscast was all about her last night adventure, completed with interviews of the patrons. The first one she heard was to the jerkass himself Mr.Sanders, and it was incredibly funny to watch since it was pretty much a symphony of beeps meant to cover the amount of profanities he poured against Terry. The next one was to the old couple, they said very little, but the woman was especially forgiving. “I'm positive that whoever this woman is she isn't related to the original Superwoman.” She said with mischievous smile. “But I think she has a good heart and the potential to be a great heroine if she so choose.”
Terry watched with her eyes wide open, she had been called a terrorist and a heroine in less than a minute, but this wasn't what startled her. The last night she never bothered to ask the old woman her name. According to the newscast her name was Linda Beckett-Carlson – wife to the reclusive philanthropist Robert Carlson – they were pretty famous, but Terry has read the name of Linda Beckett more recently. It was in the diary, it was the name of owner, it was Superwoman's real name.
Terry bought two tanks of coffee and went back to her sister's home. There was still one last thing she had to do before her new life could really start. She was about to ring and for a long moment she considered putting on the bracelet, but even her powers couldn't help with what she was about to do... or maybe they could. Terry took the two bracelets from her pocket and weigh them in her hand.
Mel opened thee door with her usual caution, since the birth of her child she had become more fearful. Before she had very little to lose, but now she had to consider her child too. She saw Terry and guilt and anger started to brawl in her guts. “Hi, Sis. What do you want?”
Terry was a bit embarrassed and handled one of the tanks to Mel. “Just a truce and a chance to explain something.”
Mel looked at the wall clock, pretending to have something important to do, but her mind was like a blank slate. “Okay. Come in, but this is better be good.” she remarked while marching to the kitchen.
Terry sat at the kitchen table while Mel sat right across in in front of her. “Well, the first thing I need you to understand is why I went to jail, but to do so I need you to trust me.” Terry began handling her sister one of the bracelets.