By Aghori Shaivite
This story is submitted as part of the 2015 Wizard's Lair short story contest.
Pamela Rodriguez was just an average Kamen City University student when she developed those strange superpowers.
The young woman wasn't looking to become a superheroine. She was merely enjoying her life with her sorority sisters, and preoccupied by a breathtaking relationship with Chad Banks, the son of a well known scientist in Kamen City. If only she hadn't allowed Chad's father to talk her into participating in an experiment he was conducting...
The father had good intentions. He was merely trying to see if he could improve a person's health by manipulating traits found in healthy bodies. Such an experiment would help improve the life expectancy and the quality of life for cancer patients, and other people going through harsh illnesses. Pamela was willing to give herself up to such an experiment, knowing that it would contribute to a good cause.
Pamela could still remember the day she was transformed from a normal human being into something else entirely. Her body type and look didn't change at all. She was still that smart, beautiful, long raven-haired female with long legs, soft, naturally tanned skin, and mesmerizing mahogany eyes. Below the surface, something else was born beyond her humanity, when she was attached to the strange machine Chad's father, Dr. Marshal Banks PHD, had created. The machine was a special collection of wiring and hardware the scientist had made to calculate and map all of Pamela's vital signs, DNA information, and the composition of her body. While mapping and reimaging Pamela's physical proportions into Mr. Bank's mega computer, a strange malfunction occurred. The young woman was suddenly hit with an array of bolts, emanating from the machine while it continued to do its work, studying and recreating the different areas of Pamela's physical form in its digital database. Pamela could still hear the frantic shouts of Dr. Banks as he raced to find the problem, trying to detach Pamela from the many cables upon her body. Foolishly, he had extended his hands to take them off, but he merely got shocked in the process with a force so powerful, his body flung against a wall and was knocked unconscious. Due to his hearty error, the scientist slept while Pamela was helpless to the circuitry.
She assumed that she would be dead, but she had made that error in reasoning too soon. The data absorbed within the machine suddenly zapped into Pamela's mind, flooding her with matrixes of information. Her brain suddenly felt more powerful, an intelligent woman suddenly possessing the brilliance of a mega-computer in her own mind.
Her body was changed was well. As the energy moved through her, Pamela realized that she wasn't the first pet project Dr. Banks had picked out. There were a number of subjects the scientist had experimented on for his Codename: Ultimate Health project. He had experimented on a Hindu yogi, a number of martial arts experts, a Buddhist priest, an acrobat, computer experts, fellow scientists, and a series of circus strong men. Even Dr. Banks, the eccentric, well meaning narcissist that he was, had recreated his own mental processes into the computer. Logs upon logs of different people with different levels of mental, physical, and even spiritual health had been mapped and reloaded into that computer system.
The only problem was that the computer program was overloaded. All of that data and information, tracking and recreating a number of very adept people into the system, had taken a toll. Their levels were high in the areas the computer had chosen to emulate in its various hard drives, and now, like a spilling cup, the records were pouring out, Pamela Rodriguez was on the receiving end of that technological spillage, and where she had once felt pain from the powerful jolts, she now felt joy and enlightenment from the streaming data that was remaking her.
When the electricity died out and smoke filled the room, Dr. Banks fanned away the thick fumes with his hands, lab coat torn and blackened. The poor scientist coughed as he tried to clear his glasses, sweat pouring down his face. He stood up and walked towards the poor woman's experiment table, trying to see her through the fog. What he saw surprised him. Though her clothes were tattered, her hair a bit frazzled, her skin was untarnished. Her face was bright and she was smiling, pulling the cables off of her body.
"Oh my," Pamela could remember Dr. Banks saying with great fright. "Are you alright, Pamela? How ever did you survive that?"
"I'm fine, Dr. Just felt like your machine went haywire for a while. But I'm fine."
"I can't allow this to happen to anyone else. I'm terminating this project immediately. Oh, please don't sue me. Chad would never forgive me if something horrible happened to you in one of my experiments! He always warned me against my work, saying it was too risky, and too dangerous!"
Pamela would never tell anyone about what happened during Dr. Banks' experiment on her, especially to Chad; that was what she could promise the doctor with all honesty. What she didn't tell him, however, was that she wasn't going to tell Dr. Banks what happened during the experiment either, as far as the things he didn't know. Sure, he knew that she had been electrocuted, and could still remember her helpless body dancing like a fish on that experimenting table. What he didn't know was that, after he had been knocked out, the energy moving through Pamela, and all of the data he had created, had remade her. That information she would keep secret, amused as she was when the scientist tried to turn his computer back on and it failed. Everything was fried- the motherboards, the hard drives, the monitors, everything. He wouldn't be able to retrieve all of that research, all of that work harnessed, and it was good enough that he lost access to that machine and its data. Pamela also found it more amusing than shameful that no matter how he tried to fix that machine, he wouldn't be able to pull up all that research because it wasn't in the mega-computer anymore.
Everything was in her now.
She tested how much she had absorbed over that next week. During a trip downtown in her everyday home of Kamen City, two idiots thought it was best to try to rob her. They ended up taking an unfortunate lesson in jujitsu, on the receiving end of things. The ninja replication inside of Pamela, copied from Eda Hashimoto, had been very skilled in a variety of Japanese martial arts, trained by the best ninjas in Kyoto. A few days later, when Pamela saw on the local news, live, that a bank was being held by three armed robbers with hostages inside, she took action. She immediately summoned the hacking powers of Laura Fisk, hacker extraordinaire, from her mind and tapped into the bank's computer system, all through the aid of a lap top. Her ability to manipulate the electricity of the building by the mere touching of buttons not only took out the lights and gas, but opened the doors. From the security cameras that showcased the inside of the bank on her computer, she could see the gunmen getting antsy and threatening to shoot hostages. Pamela would have never guessed in a million years that the power she absorbed from the replication of a Hindu yogi and a Buddhist monk would give her physical teleportation powers. Though the accidental technique proved to be draining later, Pamela appeared in the bank and sparred toe to toe with the three gunmen. She subdued them all while the police were given easy access to enter the building and free the hostages, arresting the men. Luckily, Pamela had teleported out of there before the police could see her, protecting her secret identity. She also had enough energy to delete the recorded footage in the bank's computers after she left.
All of that was just the beginning, just small fry stuff, but the college student was quite pleased to see the extent of where her powers could go. She was out of school for a week after the weird teleportation episode, and promised to never call upon her more powerful abilities unless it were a real emergency. She didn't think she'd need to use such awesome gifts anytime soon, however. With Kamen City's crime rate low and the problems few and far between, however, she felt no need to pursue a career out of her new found abilities. School was more important.
When she had gained her superpowers, Kamen City was still a peaceful, safe, technologically impressive town. Though crowded with busy people, friendly businessmen still didn't hesitate to say hi, and service workers went above and beyond to take care of their costumers, office workers their clients. Villains and supervillains weren't a part of the Kamen City package, not like those other cities filled to the brim with eccentric, evil characters. No, Kamen City was safe, a place that didn't need heroines. Two years went by, and it wasn't until her senior year of college that Pamela realized something strange had been going on in Kamen City. The crime rate had spiked for a moment. Mind controlling villainesses seemed to come out of nowhere, warring against each other in the streets. During that time, months ago, Pamela kept a low profile, and was happy when the smoke seemed to clear naturally. The brainwashing villainesses seemed to fade out of the public consciousness. Then, there was a temporary superheroine representing Kamen City for a while. Her name was Sonic Silver, a guitar wielding beauty. Her guitar wasn't a normal guitar, that was for sure. The cutey possessed a v-guitar battle axe, one she made with high frequencies that could knock enemies out and defeat them. Pamela had been impressed with the heroine at first, one that didn't seem to have superpowers, but she quickly became disappointed when the heroine strangely started to commit crimes and was revealed as a new villainess, Punny Punk, on television. Perhaps the whole heroine angle was a cruel joke on Kamen City, fooling them into believing they had a heroine on their side, only to be portrayed in the end.
Punny Punk's confirmed fall to the dark side was all the confirmation Pamela needed that Kamen City needed a new superheroine- a real one. She would use her technological knowledge, physical strength, and martial arts knowhow to fight crime. The first thing she would have to come up with as a heroine was a symbol, then a name to represent it, and a costume to embody it.
Pamela thought long and hard about her abilities, how it would play into her identity. A heroine who was obviously very skilled with guitar had named herself Sonic Silver, which fit her musical theme. Pamela had access to many identities in one, each identity skilled in some talent, mind, body, or soul related, sometimes more than one. Though various and different, each one brought some sort of unity.
That was it. Looking in her sketchpad as she sat inside of her one room apartment, Pamela scribbled a 1 on the paper before her. Unity. Unity would be her name, and 1 would be her symbol.
Though she had never been a girly girl by any means, Pamela had always loved the color of hot pink, especially the way it looked on her skin. Nothing turned the guy's heads more than when she was in that color, though she never had any problem with dates based on hues that she wore. She made a skin tight pink costume with white boots and gloves. The number 1, fixated in a neon blue circle, adorned the front of her torso from below her collar to her belly button, centered over her breasts. She wore legless trunks that fit snug against her crotch, firm but healthily round buttocks, and well shaped hips. Over her face, she wore a hot pink eye mask and painted her lips in her new, trademark color as well. With dark hair flowing behind her, Unity was born.
As Kamen City had grown noticeably less safe after the past two years, she had enough enemies to fight. New hoods were coming out every now and then. There were burglars, arsonists, and miscreants looking to cause trouble. Unity defeated them all. There were a couple of jokers that tried to come out as a new "supervillain" and cause a ruckus, but they always ended up being losers with ill-made gadgets. Though they tried to make a bad scene for the city, they were always defeated, and by Unity's hand. Where the failure of Punny Punk to uphold the law had once brought down the law abiding citizens of Kamen City, many of them were finding a new hope in this beautiful latina heroine that seemed to pop out of nowhere. As merchandise had come out when Punny Punk had hit the scene, new products were flooding the Kamen City markets, based off of Unity. Toys, shirts, backpacks, even hot pink lipstick was selling like a charm throughout the technologically advanced metropolis. Girls had a new icon to be like, men had a new woman to preoccupy their fantasies.
There was one man different from all the rest that had Unity preoccupying his fantasies, too, and his dreams weren't so nice for her. Then again, he wasn't so nice, and definitely wasn't like all of the other regular humans of Kamen City. He recognized Unity's heroine talents, used in her crime fighting, as quite a collection of anomalies, and he felt like they were made for each other. Quite the eccentric villain, he could be the arch nemesis she may not have always wanted, but certainly needed, at least in his possessive, psychotic mind.
His self-coined name was Doctor Arreptus, and he wanted to play.
After graduation, Chad took his girlfriend, Pamela, to dinner at an impressive Ethiopian restaurant uptown.
"We both worked so hard," Chad said with a smile as he raised his wine glass over his injera, covered with spicy vegetables and lamb. "We need to celebrate! Especially now, since we've got a good break before graduate school. I'd like to take you out tonight-"
"I don't know, Chad," Pamela said with a slightly saddened face. "I've been so busy lately."
"Busy doing what? You've been out almost every night this week! I thought you didn't have a job during the school year. Wasn't that what you decided on?"
"Well, things are a little more complicated than that."
"Geeze. Sometimes, I wonder if you're cheating on me or something."
Pamela was flabbergasted. Chad couldn't have guessed all the crazy things Pamela had been going through lately. While struggling to finish her classes with above a 3.5 GPA, she had been continuing her secret life as Unity, Kamen City's own superheroine. Lately, she had been working hard to break into the electronic base of a criminal organization, using her computer hacking skills. She had always suspected the robbers at the Kamen City Bank, one of the first crimes she solved, had been part of a bigger organization. She had found the background information of the robbers, used it to search different databases online, and uncovered a wide network of underworld friends online. She felt like she was closer to finding out who the mastermind was, but every time she was on the hot trail of the boss, a test popped up, or her graduation, or a date.
She attempted to restrain her anger as she pressed her hands on the table. "So what, you don't trust me now?"
"I used to, but... here now, gone in an hour, something always going on. Pamela, I'd swear you're not into me, anymore."
"Of course, I'm into you. It's just that-" Suddenly, Pamela's phone began to ring like crazy. "Sorry, I thought I had put that on vibrate."
Chad sighed as he watched Pamela look at her phone.
"It's Tina," Pamela said. "Probably wishing me a happy graduation, since she couldn't make it."
"Go ahead and take it, Pamela," Chad said. "I'm getting out of here."
Chad had already stepped out of his chair, making his way to the door. "See you when you have more time for me. Happy graduation."
Pamela sighed. She nearly stood up and chased him, tried to stop him for leaving. What good would that have done, anyway?"
The phone kept ringing, though it had already stopped twice. Her best friend, Tina, was obviously persistent to keep calling again and again.
"Calm down, Tina, I'm here," Pamela said as she answered the phone.
"Oh, this isn't Tina."
The strange, gravelly voice on the phone chilled Pamela's body to the core. She stood up from the table. "Who is this?"
"Just a man that can manipulate phone numbers the way you can manipulate human abilities. I paid a guest visit with your friend Tina before she could leave for her business trip to New York. She was quite accommodating to follow my instructions and let me borrow her phone."
Pamela was rushing to the bathroom. When she had moved past the doors and into a stall, she began to pull off her civilian clothes- her modest blouse, her slightly fancy dress, all of it cascading to the ground as something hot pink revealed itself. "Where is Tina?"
"Watch your tone, Unity."
Pamela's teeth gritted as she pressed her phone on her shoulder, pulling on her white gloves. "How do you know-"
"You weren't careful enough when you deleted that footage from the bank database, dear. I was very upset with how you handled my henchmen. I thought I had the entire bank computer system in my hands, and then some annoying little hacker tapped in. Ruined everything. I was fooled for a while. I thought the world famous hacker arrested by Kamen City P.D. a number of years ago, Laura Fisk, had intruded on my action. Imagine my surprise when I saw a pretty dark haired girl teleport in the middle of that bank! I'll never use regular human henchmen again!"
Pamela shook her head, her white boots snug against her legs. Dressed in her hot pink unity uniform, she was tying on her eye mask for the final part of the ensemble. "How could you do that? I turned the lights off-"
"The flash you generated in your teleportation was enough for me to see you, Pamela. All while I was recording footage on my own personal computer. I studied your face and body type day in and day out. Didn't take long for me to find you in school records, through old hospital visits, driver's licenses. And imagine my surprise when a heroine matching your description and your powers just magically appeared in Kamen City."
Pamela's mouth trembled. "Where's my Tina?"
Tina's voice sounded so spacey and distant. "Please do what my master, Doctor Arreptus, says, dear. Or else."
"Or else what?"
"He told me... everything, Pamela... right before he possessed my mind. Now, I am his servant. I will do everything he tells me to stop you."
"Tina, this is insane."
"And what I want her to do, if you fail to listen to me first, Pamela," Doctor Arreptus said, his voice back on the phone, "is press the detonation advice I've given her. You see, she is holding a very delicate cylindrical object with a very delicate red button. Once she presses it, the very busy uptown area of Kamen City will lose a lot of buildings. She'll push that button, unless you expose yourself to the entire city. Let them all know who you are, that Pamela Rodriguez is the meddlesome heroine, Unity. All on national television. Now get to it, chop chop. Common Kamen Channel's headquarters is just a few blocks away from that stupid restaurant you're eating in, and their six o'clock news begins in fifteen minutes!"
"Are you blackmailing me?" Unity asked, fully dressed and ready for action.
"Why, yes, I am! And if you care about your friend Tina, you will cooperate and do everything I just told you to do."
"Why are you talking to yourself?"
But Unity was gone, energetically tracing the cellular lines she was mapping in her brain as she talked to the preoccupied Doctor Arreptus. Her teleportation energy was built up for it, since she hadn't poofed off anywhere for a number of weeks, and she would have enough energy to kick his ass, once she got to her destination.
She had mapped the location well. As she traveled through the ether in an invisible ball of light, she focused closely on the voice waves, still forming a residue in the air. Closer and closer, she could see the form of her friend, Tina. Confident she had made it to the right location, Unity reappeared from nothingness.
How shocked she was to find herself in a strange clear walled box, its edges zapping with electromagnetic energy.
Filled with confusion and fear, Unity tried to teleport again. How drained she was. She couldn't do it. Frantic, she tried to run and bump against the clear surface of the box she was imprisoned in. Electricity traveled and shocked her, knocking her back. She had been tricked, and now, she would have to perform a miracle to get out of that place.
That miracle was about to get even harder to perform. Strange, thick cables popped out of the ceiling and the floor, wrapping themselves around Unity's arms and legs. Tug as she might, she couldn't break free of the adamantine hold those artificial serpents had created on her body. She wished to break free and find a way out of those strange restraints, but the more she pulled, the tighter their hold became. She tried not restraining at all, and she only felt the ropes continue to tighten, except at a slower rate. In a matter of seconds, she now found herself hanging upside down, staring at the box's clear surface as her dark hair hung under her, the ropes refusing to let go.
Outside of the box, she could see her friend, Tina, looking at her with a coy smile and lost-in-the-clouds gaze. Tina had always been a pretty girl, only a year older than Unity at 23, black with a skin tone slightly darker than Unity's own. Her eyes were hazel, her 5'9 frame slender yet beautifully endowed in the chest, her hips like an hourglass. She was quite healthy, not as athletic as the heroine Unity, but very flexible and of lean muscle. She looked so proud in the new, weird costume she was wearing, a skin tight, light blue and white uniform with a proud A sprawled over her ample chest. A matching light blue cape, which only hung to her mid back, stood behind the black beauty.
Unity, weakening more and more by the second, looked with great worry at her glassy eyed friend. "T...Tina.. what... what's wrong with you?"
"I believe the appropriate question is, what have I improved about her?"
The voice did not come from Tina, a gravelly, horrific tone, deep and more monstrous than normally masculine. Doctor Arreptus was even scarier in person than he was on the phone. A tall, bulky figure walked forward, wearing a skin tight light blue and white uniform as well, the A looking even bigger and more horrendous on his chest, more playfully sloppy like smeared white blood. His eyes were a demonic red, and his face could have been handsome in its broadness if it weren't so wrinkled and pockmarked, a strange scar formed along his left cheek. A strange aura, seemingly as red as his eyes, seemed to cloak him as he placed his white gloved left hand around Tina's shoulders. "What I did to Tina, after I reimagined her as my perfect, loyal, and faithful henchwoman to the very end, was possess her body first. That's the way I work my way to the mind with my absorption powers. From the mind, I can persuade, no, change the heart. I have been watching you for a long time, Unity. Learning your life. Your friends. Your boyfriend. Everything has been so clear to me, and I knew that, eventually, I would have you all to myself. But first, I had to get the closest person to you. Was it Chad, the man you've loved all along? No. Was it his father, the man who was so booksmart and scientifically revolutionary, yet so commonly stupid he couldn't even realize I was the beneficiary secretly funding his skill absorption project? No. No and no. They were keys, and I was quite pleased to see what a small world it was when I saw your connection to the gold old Dr. Banks, but they were not the answer to your fall.
"Then, I noticed her. Your friend Tina. Oh, you've been close forever, haven't you? And you had gone to her graduation last year, congratulated her. She picked up on a great business career and has hardly had the time of day for you. I'm sure, somewhere in here, she wishes she had made time... before you had to part as friends in such dire circumstances."
Tina laughed wildly.
Arreptus chuckled, truly proud of his work. "What you see now, Unity, is a new, improved woman. I call her... Alteration."
Unity was so weak. She hung limp in those cables. "You monster... you.... changed her..."
"Yes. And now, she's helping me change you, as her names suggests. You see, Unity, all it took for me to absorb your friend's energy and tap into her brain was a simple touch." Arreptus placed his hand on Alteration's head, making the woman moan with pleasure as a bright crimson light enveloped her head. "Once I had drank enough of her energy to mentally enslave her, I could install the type of powers and abilities I wanted in her. You see, Unity, I was once a victim of Dr. Banks' experiments as well, transformed after an early prototype of his copy experiments resulted in altering my body and mind chemistry. I became a sponge, and he tried to pay me off in order to keep quiet about his failings. Little did he know that I liked my new ability to drain energy. Though I left the experiment a freak, my body destroyed forever, my once handsome face as a star football player in the major leagues destroyed... I still had lots of money, and the passion to help Dr. Banks continue his passion."
Unity struggled to stay awake, those ropes draining her, the electro-magnetic energy of the box manipulating her own.
"Turning to a life of crime after my sports career helped the money continue to pour in, Unity. Do you know I never valued the talents of the mind until the Dr. changed me? I was so obsessed with my physical strength, my ability to score touchdowns... he awakened powers in my head I didn't know I had. I drank from the intellect of lawyers, doctors, science whizzes. I became a master of logic. Now, I stand focused, and ready to rule the world with this beautiful woman at my side." Arreptus cradled Alteration's chin in his right hand as she giggled, her eyes filled with lust and love. Then, he turned his gaze back to Unity. "And you, of course, Unity. After you go through your reeducation. Either that, or I'll be forced to destroy you."
"Please... let my... friend... go."
"I can't do that, Unity. Nor can I let you go. Your fate is sealed." Arreptus laughed. "Oh, you had done so well the past few weeks, Unity. You connected the dots, figured out those robbers were all part of a bigger picture. Little did you know that they would led you to me. I'm the boss, and now, you're in the middle of my headquarters. I already knew so much about you during my own research, based off those tapes, but then you gave me so much access by trying to tap into my databases through backdoor networks. Everything from your home to your current school records, to even your laptop and cellphone, rewarded me with access. Oh, if you could only see the pictures I have of you, webcam sessions between you and your poor boyfriend, Chad If only he knew your loyalties will now transfer to me, and I'll have all the fun with you that I want, things beyond the mere imagination of selfies and nude pics, filled with-"
"Stop.. please... this is... embarrassing enough..."
"Isn't it, dear?" Arreptus pulled out a remote control, pressing down a series of buttons.
The electro-magnetic field of the box died down. The clear box retracted into the ground. Arreptus walked calmly towards the hanging Unity, with his loyal moll, Alteration, following behind as she rubbed her nipples and moaned in sensual delight.
"The foreplay is over," Arreptus said as his gloved hands enclosed around Unity's head. They shined bright in an intense red ball, and his aura glowed brighter as well. "You're very weak. Weak enough for me to absorb your last bit of energy, and indoctrinate you to my world."
"All of your powers will be used to benefit me and my corporation. You will do everything I ask you to. And you will stop this nonsense with resisting and playing heroine."
"I... I can't stop... I.... won't be... could be... defeated... by..."
"I have already planned everything. You will call Chad and tell him goodbye. Also, I'm done with Dr. Banks. He's been attempting to rebuild that stupid computer the past couple of years. You will end him completely. His research is done and I don't need him anymore."
"I... can't... can.... yes... mas... master..."
"Master what? Master who?"
"So you see, you will cease your operations immediately. Yes, Dr. Banks. Oh, and tell your son I've moved on. I'm dating someone else now, and he's more masterful than your dork of an offspring could ever be. Fuck off, bye."
The dark haired beauty hung up the phone, wearing her blue and white ensembled, a red D painted over a white U on her chest. "How did I do, Master Arreptus, my love?
"Decent," complimented the mind controlling villain, "though not as harsh as I would have liked. Good enough. Excellent work, Dis-Unity."
Dis-Unity smiled, her eyes shimmering. How pleased she was to make her master happy. "What must I do for you now, master?"
"You will sleep until I figure out what to do with you for tomorrow."
Before Dis-Unity could say yes, a cloth was clamped over her mouth and nose, drenched in a yellow fluid. Her eyes went fluttery, and then she fell asleep, pressed against Arreptus's chest.
"The electro-magnetic sheild I build in the box tapped into the very thing that created Unity," Arreptus explained to an eagerly listening Alteration, as he threw the ex-heroine over his right shoulder. "Electricity. In many situations, she would be immune to it, since she absorbed so much, it became a part of her being. But it's the magnetic aspect that conducts the electricity, tells it where to go. Within that box, I created so many strong pulls moving in a variety of directions, it scrambled her circuits. It gave her the illusion of feeling drained, when she was merely, and literally, being pulled in different directions! My powerful intellect and ability to create these wonderful gadgets proved too powerful for a heroine that fooled people into actually believing she could do anything. That box zapped her in like a fly to a fly lamp, as soon as she got too close in her teleportation. Unfair, I know, but she really didn't stand a chance against me. Now, I have her mind," Arreptus faded in and out in a brilliant light, reappearing only a few feet away from Alteration, Dis-Unity still over his shoulder, "and all of her powers!"
"You're brilliant, master," Alteration stated.
"Thank you, dear. Now, let's get Dis-Unity to bed, and you need your beauty sleep as well." With the snap of a finger, Doctor Arreptus caused his Alteration to crumble onto the ground in a deep snooze. Then, he picked her up over his spare shoulder, and walked the two, captured beauties out of his laboratory.