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Cracked Shell (Worm/Howard the Duck)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Visual Pun, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. Visual Pun

    Visual Pun Know what you're doing yet?

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    “I vote we kill her,” Regent said, looking into the empty storage locker which should have held the money they had stolen from the bank.

    Skitter turned to the regally dressed villain and asked, “You think it was Bitch? Would she just take the money and run?”

    “If you asked me five hours ago, I would’ve said no,” Regent replied. “I would have told you, sure, she’s a loose cannon, she’s reckless, crazy, she’s easily pissed off and she’ll hospitalize those people who do piss her off… but I’d have said she’s loyal, that even if she doesn’t necessarily like us-”

    Tattletale interrupted, “It wasn’t her.”

    “Who was it?” Grue asked. The haunting echo of his voice had an edge of anger to it.

    “A cape,” Tattletale replied, almost absentmindedly, as if she was focusing on something else,

    “Someone who can pick locks. That door wasn’t forced.”

    “A villain?” Skitter asked.

    “A villain,” Tattletale echoed. “More than one. And they’re still here.”

    A soft clapping answered her. It was slow, unenthusiastic to the point of being sarcastic.

    “Hello, and welcome to the Enrichment Center,” the same person that had been clapping spoke out. As Tattletale whipped her head around at the synthetic auto-tuned voice, several of the Undersiders took a few steps back from the storage locker, to get a better look at the two people who stood on the roof.
    They were standing with one leg higher than the other, to keep from sliding off the angled roof, and both were wearing somewhat identical costumes.

    Incredibly stupid costumes.

    The costumes were primarily round and white, Über’s was like a white eggshell balanced on its wide end, his white helmet had a single glowing orange sensor on the faceplate, which he flipped up to wink at the floating camera in the distance. Leet being the scrawnier of the two was a sphere with a glowing blue sensor in the center. Their trousers were painted to look robotic with white armor plates, legs stuck through the rounded bottom covering their torsos as if they were the character Sheldon from U.S. Acres, that Garfield comic strip spin-off. The neutral grey of their sleeves also followed the painted robotic design with white armor panels. All of this did nothing to distract from the unusual looking guns the pair carried with white bits stuck all over them. Whatever they were going for the effect was ruined by Leet’s green-screen toned elastic hood that left a window open for his face and what looked like night vision goggles.

    Other than their costumes, though, they couldn’t have been more different. One of the figures was scrawny, with a weak chin and a bad slouch. The other had a sculpted physique, broad shouldered and tall, the bulge of his biceps clearly visible through his skintight grey leotard.
    “Über and Leet,” Tattletale greeted them, “I can’t tell you two how relieved I am. For a few seconds, I thought we had something to be worried about.”

    “Rest assured, Tattletale, you do,” Über proclaimed in that sing-song computer generated voice which undercut whatever bravado he had attempted to convey.

    The ‘snitch’ floating camera floated overhead and was gradually swarmed with bugs.

    Leet frowned and turned to the camera, “Is that really necessary?” His voice had the exact same artificial qualities as Über’s had.

    “You fucked with us,” Skitter replied, “I fuck with your subscriber base.”

    Tattletale and Regent grinned and chuckled, respectively. Only Grue stayed quiet. He was standing very still, but the darkness around him was roiling like a stoked fire.

    “What’s the theme tonight?” Regent called out, “Your costumes are so terrible, I can’t look directly at them long enough to try and figure it out.”

    Leet and Über glared at him. Their entire schtick was a video game theme. With every escapade, they picked a different video game or series, designing their costumes and crimes around it. One day it would be Leet in a Mario costume throwing fireballs while Über was dressed up as Bowser, the two of them breaking into a mint to collect ‘coins’. Then a week later, they would have a Grand Theft Auto theme, and they would be driving through the city in a souped up car, ripping off the ABB and beating up hookers.

    Über approached the edge of the roof and stabbed his finger in Regent’s direction, “You-”
    He didn’t get to finish. Regent swung his arm out to one side, and Über lost his footing. All the Undersiders stepped back out of the way as he fell face first onto the pavement at the base of the locker. But instead of the expected faceplant, puffs from previously hidden thrusters returned his orientation to upright as he fell and Über landed on his feet.

    Über lowered his faceplate with the orange sensor. Leet hopped down to stand beside him, the sphere expanding a barely visible aura which touched the ground first and as it collapsed, lowered him smoothly to the ground.

    Before Grue could even ask about how the two villains knew where to find Bitch and the stash of money, the bizarrely costumed villains pointed their odd looking guns down, shot, and two splatters of orange appeared in front of them on the ground.

    Leet and Über said in that slightly creepy robotic voice in unison, “Target Acquired.” They shot at the walls to the left and right of the Undersiders which left unimpressive blue splotches flanking them.
    Leet dove headfirst into the circle of orange as Über leapt into his as if he were about to do a flying martial arts kick into the ground.

    Grue took a boot to the head when Über unexpectedly emerged from the blue spot on the wall to his left. Leet emerged from the blue splotch on the wall and shot quickly two times, once under Regent’s feet with an orange spot, and then immediately in front of him with a blue shot.

    Regent fell through the orange splotch, and emerged feet first and upside down from the blue one, his loose sleeves and hair reacted to the sudden reversal of gravity. He hung upside down for a fraction of a second before he dropped back through the blue spot to emerge from the orange one, only to drop though again oscillating back and forth upright or inverted depending on where he was in the cycle of falling through them.

    “This would be fun if it didn’t make me want to upchuck,” Regent said.

    The rest of the Undersiders dove for cover behind crates and trashcans. Über and Grue brawled, tendrils of darkness enveloped them for a few moments. A second later, Über stumbled out of one side of the cloud, landed on his rear end, and then did a fancy spinning kick maneuver to bring himself to his feet again. The juxtaposition of clumsiness and technique was outright bizarre.

    “No holds barred?” Tattletale murmured.

    “Leave one of them in a state to be interrogated. Make it Leet, since Über’s powers make him annoying to keep contained. Give him a chance and he can figure out how to do anything like he’s a goddamn expert at it, and that probably extends to escaping from ropes or handcuffs. Alright?”

    Skitter said “I’m game,” and reached out for a swarm of bugs which responded to her gesture.
    “Little help here?” Regent pleaded as he bobbed up and upside-down through the linked colored areas.
    Tattletale approached, kicked Regent in the back while he was upside down, which shoved the snarky teen aside where he unceremoniously face-planted to the pavement with a muffled, “Thanks …I think.”
    Über and Leet discussed strategy as the Underisders collected their wits.

    Über charged in, Skitter scrambled away just as Leet snapped off two quick shots so she fell through the orange splash at her feet, then out through the blue splatter on the wall behind her and into the orange one again, falling in a perpetual arc.

    Grue stepped forward and then disappeared as darkness swelled around him. Über shot an orange spot in front of the cloud and snapped a second shot behind him, unlooking, over his shoulder Annie Oakley style to have a blue splat appear on the third storey of a building a block away. Grue’s darkness disappeared into the orange hole as quickly as it billowed out into the air from the blue spot too far away to do anything. It didn’t stop the punches thrown by Grue which Über manged to block or turn aside via his power-granted martial arts ability.

    Bugs gathered nearby and Skitter figured out a way to belly flop and roll away from her previous prison of teleporting paintball smudges at right angles to each other.

    Regent waved his hand, and the gun slipped from Leet’s grip to dangle from a wrist strap to the handle. Leet’s mouth opened into a round ‘o’, and he bolted. Über wasn’t far behind.

    As Grue joined the rest of the Undersiders edging away from the portals, Regent half turned to thrust out one hand. Über stumbled and fell just ten feet from where Leet had retreated.

    Leet watched his friend roll with the impact, try to stagger to his feet and fall again. He turned to us with his face etched in hard lines of anger.

    “I keep wondering when you guys are going to give up,” Tattletale grinned, “I mean, you fail more often than you succeed, you make more cash from your web show than you do from actual crimes, you’ve been arrested no less than three times. You’re probably going to wind up at the Birdcage the next time you flub it, aren’t you?”

    “Our mission is worth it,” Leet raised his chin – inasmuch as he had one – a notch. The falsetto robotic pitch and tone modulation of his voice didn’t help him make his point.

    “Right,” Tattletale said, “Spreading the word about the noble and underrated art form that is video games. That’s from your website, word for word. People don’t watch your show because they think you’re righteous. They watch because you’re so lame it’s funny.”

    Leet took a step forward, fists clenched, but Über called out, “She’s provoking you.”

    “Damn right I am. And I can do it because I’m not scared of you. I don’t have any powers that are useful in a fight, and you guys don’t intimidate me in the least. A guy who’s good at everything yet still manages to fuck up half the time, and a Tinker who can only make stuff that breaks comically.”
    “I can make anything,” Leet boasted.

    “Once. You can make anything once. But the closer something you invent is to something you’ve made before, the more likely it is to blow up in your face or misfire. Real impressive.”

    “Um, then how did he make two of those Portal guns?” Skitter asked.

    From above and behind the Undersiders a mechanical hiss answered, “I made three, actually.”

    The Undersiders wheeled around to see a woman in a different outfit than Über and Leet were wearing. She wore an orange jumpsuit over a white shirt and carried the same gun that Über and Leet carried, but the main difference was that she wore a gas-mask style fixture over her lower face, and the lenses of her goggles were red, not black., not to mention the bandoleers of grenades and various pockets which criss-crossed her chest.

    The woman’s mask seemed to take what she said and replay everything in a robotic, monotone hiss, “I really hoped they would take one or two of you out of the picture, or at least injure someone. How disappointing. They didn’t even get around to introducing their guest star for tonight.”

    “Bakuda?” Tattletale was the first to put a name to the face, “Fuck me, the game their costumes were from… PORTAL?”

    “Portal 2, actually,” Leet said, “The Earth Aleph import comes out in the middle of May.”

    Über added, “We plan to play it so much the week it comes out, I don’t think even an Endbringer attack would get us out of our gaming bunker.”

    “Leet came up with the goofy prototype, I came up with the mass production of orange and blue linked Portal paintball bombs.” Bakuda stood and bowed in one smooth motion. Regent raised his hands, but she let herself drop off the roof to land as a white shock absorbing arc deployed from the mechanism on the back of her calves to arrest her fall.

    “Nuh uh uh,” she waggled one finger at him, “I’m smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others.” With that she shot a portal at the wall behind her, backed through and re-emerged on the roof again as she walked out from behind a large air conditioning unit.

    “You seriously left the ABB to join Über and Leet?” Regent asked, astounded.

    “Not exactly,” Bakuda said. She snapped the fingers of the hand that wasn’t enclosing her entire forearm.

    Below her, the door to the storage locker opened. Three men in ABB colors stepped out, each holding a weapon. A gun, a baseball bat, and a fire axe.

    Then other doors opened, all down the corridor of storage lockers. Five or ten doors, each with at least one person behind them. Some with three or four. All of them armed.

    “Those two were cheap hires. They just wanted a few hundred dollars and I had to wear this costume. Guess you get what you pay for.”

    “Goes without saying, I’m still with the ABB,” Bakuda stated the obvious for us. “In charge, matter of fact. I think it’s fitting that I commemorate my new position by dealing with the people that brought down my predecessor, don’t you agree?”

    Grue raised his hands and blanketed the entire area in darkness.

    Bakuda raised both hands, fingers spread apart. She curled a finger per second with the precision of a metronome. When she had four fingers left, the darkness in front of them evaporated. The Undersiders had escaped.

    Her fingers continued to drop to her palms and as the last one fell an explosion shook the next row of storage units.

    “Not quite the clean getaway they expected,” Bakuda said in the monotone robotic hiss.
    Über turned to Leet and said, “Y’know, in the game Chell never talks.”

    “Eh, we’ll fix it in post.” Leet pointed to his green-screen colored elastic hood, “When we do the FX where my head should be.”

    The three villains fired their portal guns in front of them and lobbed a second shot onto the intact roof near the explosion and all three stepped through.

    They looked down at the four or five storage lockers that had been closest to the bomb had been reduced to chunks of flaming brick, none any bigger around than a beachball. Other lockers near those had doors, walls and roofs blown away. More than one locker had been actually used, because the blast had emptied them of its contents. Pieces of furniture, boxes of books, clothing, bundles of newspaper and boxes of papers filled the alley.

    The Undersiders struggled to their feet from where they sprawled on the ground, their costumes scorched from the force of the blast.

    “We have to move,” Grue urged his teammates, “This gets ten times harder if she finds us. Tattletale, watch for-”

    “I already found you,” Bakuda called out in what could have been a sing-song voice, if her mask didn’t filter it down to a monotone, rythmless hiss. The smoke that billowed from the explosion site drifted between her and the Undersiders, her straight black hair was blowing in the wind. The lenses of her dark red goggles were almost the exact same color as the sky above her. Über and Leet took up flanking positions on either side of her..

    “Not that you were hard to find,” Bakuda continued, sweeping her arms out to gesture at the devastation all around her. “And if you think this only gets ten times harde-”

    Grue blasted her, shutting her up, and his darkness billowed into a broad cloud as it enveloped her group. The Undersiders scrambled for the other end of the alley.

    Bakuda jumped down out of the cloud of darkness, opened a hatch on the white gun attached to her left arm and loaded a cylinder from one of the pockets on the bandoleers which criss-crossed her chest. With a thunk she fired the cylinder at the retreating Undersiders, and it exploded like the crack of a whip. All at once, there was a powerful wind.

    Except it wasn’t wind. As Leet looked for the source of the noise, he saw Grue’s cloud of darkness shrinking. Debris began to slide towards the epicenter of the darkness, and the wind – the pull – began to increase in intensity Leet could feel even from as far away from the detonation as he was.

    “Grab something!” Grue bellowed in an unusual quick, high pitched voice, like a recording played a bit too fast.
    Bakuda took a few steps backwards as more and more debris was sucked into the area of effect.
    “What’s happening?” Über asked over the increasing sound of air rushing past them.

    “Since I spent so much time making the linked portal bombs, I had to drop my recruiting drive and was only able to experiment and build a few little special party favors,” the ABB tinker said.

    Leet pointed to the growing implosion, his white gun still in his hand and yelled, “A black hole bomb is little to you!?!”

    Bakuda was about to respond when the pull from the center of the effect increased and jerked the weapon out of Leet’s grasp, the wrist strap broken. The twin ammo belts which led to his backpack ruptured and hundreds of blue and orange bomblets were carried by the rushing air into the detonation zone.

    As the force of gravity exponentially increased the closer the portal bombs approached the miniature black hole, their protective casings shattered. Blue and orange flashes alternated like a flickering strobe light as Leet’s ammunition soared through the air and into the twisting of time and space in the center of the results of Bakuda’s experimentation.

    The overlap of blue and orange micro explosions sped up as the effect they generated swirled, rippled, and distorted.

    All at once, the effect stopped. The Undersiders collapsed to the ground from where they had been holding on for dear life. All up and down the street, massive clouds of dust rolled towards the point her device had gone off. The parts of the lockers that had been set on fire had been extinguished, but were still smouldering enough to send columns of dark smoke into the air.

    “What the fuck was that?” Skitter squeaked.

    A shrill, high pitched Tattletale peeped, “Go!”

    The Undersiders broke through the perimeter of the effect just as the swirling sphere of oscillating blue and orange at the center turned solid blue.

    A boxy shape trailing a dark mist hurtled out of the blue portal which snapped shut behind it. Whatever it was plowed into Bakuda, Über, and Leet and knocked them down like a Jenga tower.

    “Oh, no…” the sing-songy auto-tuned voice emerged from the wrecked costumes of either Über or Leet as the video game themed villains lay mashed in a pile.

    The thing which landed on top of them and Bakuda turned out to be a cheaply upholstered chair, but sized for a child. It tipped backwards and its occupant somersaulted backwards a long distance to flop flat on its back at the feet of the Undersiders.

    Dressed in a grey suit with a pink sweater vest over a maroon collared shirt and loosened white necktie with a pattern of small black teardrops was the oddest Case 53 any of them had ever seen. Bare orange webbed feet stuck out of its trouser legs, face and hands covered in white feathers, with a prominent orange bill in its ducklike face. It opened its’ blue eyes and looked up at them in confusion.

    A magazine with the title ‘PLAYDUCK’ fell from its left hand… wing… thing.

    “Halloween already?” it asked, “Where am I?”

    Skitter answered, “You’re in Brockton Bay.”

    “What the hell’s a ‘Brock’, and why do they need a whole Town, let alone an entire Bay?”

    Far down the row of storage units, a trio of red and green clad ABB gangers armed with a baseball bat, crowbar and an axe which had somehow caught fire pointed at the group and ran towards them.

    Tattletale squinted in pain and blurted out, “We should get while the getting’s good.”

    Regent turned to the humanoid avian and said with a friendly wave, “Come to the dark side, we have cookies.”

    The flightless bird man looked over his shoulder to see the onrushing ABB gang members.

    “Beats the alternative,” he said and ran after the costumed villains to keep up with their longer legs.
    Regent asked, “So, what’s your name?”

    “Howard.”

    Howard? Not Donald, or Daffy or something that makes an onomatopoeia with Duck?”

    “No,” Howard replied as they slipped through a broken chain link fence. “What do you things call yourselves?”

    “Human.”

    “So how many parents name their kids Hugh the Human?”

    “Good point.”

    Howard glanced back at the trash-filled streets they had run through to get away from the people chasing them.

    “Brock-town Bay, huh?” Howard mused out loud. “What a dump.”

    Regent replied, “Truer words were never spoken.”

    _____

    Leet and Über extricated themselves from the ruins of their costumes and helped Bakuda to her feet.
    The groggy ABB tinker stood unsteadily. Über thought the red eyepieces in her mask glowed for a moment, but it was probably just a trick of the light.

    “How are you feeling?” Leet asked Bakuda.

    The Dark Overlord cares not for feelings, worm.” A voice which overrode Bakuda’s voice-changing synthesizer answered.

    Über said, “A word of advice, cut down on smoking so many of the ol’ coffin nails, m’kay?”

    Bakuda’s head turned towards him, “Oh, don’t worry. There will be PLENTY ‘coffin nails’ to go around.

    Leet held the floating camera in his hands and said, “Looks like all the bugs were swept away, so with a little static filter we can use all the footage.”

    Über replied, “Great, time to go hit the edit bay. See you Bakuda.”

    Bakuda let them go, for her mind was currently …occupied….
     
  2. fluffy

    fluffy Getting out there.

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    Of course they dont call them that howard. They name them Hugh-man like any respectable parent.
     
  3. odlawzein

    odlawzein Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Oh! What's this? Looks interesting and potentially hilarious.