Slightly Disheveled Radiator
Gender: None specified
Location: In a box on a hill towards the west banks of an unknown river.
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:27 pm
And now for something entirely different;
Many of you may be wondering what
exactly Mercs does (apart from being one sexy, sexy stud and igniting an inexplicable fire in the depths of your being). Well, when Mercs isn't beta-ing for minor spelling mistakes, occasionally spouting out random coding, responding to comments, taking fake personal calls, and unsucessfully trying to make Plode her bitch, she ocasionally does things that are actually productive.
"Say it ain't so!" I hear you cry. But I must admit to you, loyal reader(s), it is true.
So since Plode has a considerable lot on her hands trying to wrassle up all the extra awesomeepic pieces of matter to stitch into the next chapter, I thought I'd actually do something sort of kind of useful and write a side story. I've been wanting to do this for a while but was never able to finish anything (this is brief, really brief), and I finally got the chance. Also, the idea of focusing in more on Penny and Will's characters was recommended to me by several readers/companions, and Penny is someone who I sort of wanted to explore.
So don't base the rest of PK on this (there's a reason Plode generally does most of the actually nitty-gritty. Mostly because I simply cannot stand the idea of getting pen on the large couch she carries me around in.) But hopefully this can hold you over until the next update!
--------Side Story: Sidekick
(Also known as 'A Penny for your Thoughts?')
She was pretty used to not being thought about. Penny was a standard, an expectation; she had come to Global Studio with a great deal of enthusiasm, and had done her job so well that perfection was now mostly expected of her. Needed something done, delivered, recorded, erased? That was what Penny was for. Another cup of coffee, Mr. Powers? The latest copy of the script, Ms. Vasquez? That rare Japanese exported yuri doujinshi, Mr. Manella? Of course, of course, Penny, would you be a dear and…
Of course Mr. Powers would have gotten up and retrieved his own cup of coffee, thanking her for her offer. “You’re already busy, Penny. I don’t want to add to your load, you do more work than me around here…”
Well at least someone
thought that, and that was the first time the modest girl had ever really thought she had been appreciated.
She surely hadn’t been appreciated in high school, being the socially confused samurai fangirl that she was. It hadn’t really bothered her in school, though – enough of her peers also drooled over Japanese holographic Samurai trading cards and exclusive made-for-TV Steel Samurai spin off movies. All of her old friends had been jealous when Penny landed the job at Global Studios, and she had gone in on her first day prepared to return with sheets filled with autographs and stories of how her and the Steel Samurai had discovered they had so
much in common and had become the best
And instead, she had taken one look at the man behind the mask and swallowed the urge to run out of the studio.
Somehow, upon meeting Mr. Will Powers, all of her old fanfiction involving the metal mask being torn off to reveal a handsome man felt rather silly. Penny hadn’t noticed his smile as much as she had noticed…well…everything else about him. He was rough looking, the sort of person she wouldn’t want to sit next to on a bus or meet in an alleyway. Her college-bred professionalism punched her in the gut, and she shook his hand and held her ground and succeeded in the astounding feat of being cordial to him, as much as she wished afterwards that he was still only a name in a credit roll to her.
So she hadn’t been terribly interested in him, after that – more interested in avoiding
the real Will Powers, even as his company grew more tolerable than the others. Ms. Vasquez was simply a wall of impenetrable smoke when it came to emotions, only showing any care in her young ward when something went missing or wrong. She had stopped going out of her way to pay Mr. Manella any visits when he had presented her with a list of hentai characters she ought to cosplay as. Mr. Hammer was far too interested in a higher class than her to pay her much mind, and Penny could only stand so many high-speed tangents about the old days, punctuated by fervent cries of ‘whippersnapper!’, before she was unable to tolerate the intolerable Ms. Oldbag.
Mr. Powers, on the other hand, actually carried on pleasant and normal
conversation whenever she couldn’t figure out how to avoid him. After a while she came up with less and less inventive excuses to not be around him, eventually even accepting his company once in a while. Will Powers was someone who she could actually talk
to – after all, who knew more about Samurai fandom than the Steel Samurai himself? He knew details and trivia even she hadn’t come across in her hours of research. He was properly impressed by her collection of memorabilia. He could rattle off the stats of every last trading card, knew where to find the coveted ultra-rare holographic packs…
And he was becoming her friend. It wasn’t anything like Penny had planned, but she was finding that Will was just like any of her old companions at home, scary face or not. Penny was beginning to realize how awful her initial reaction had been. Mr. Powers was only an actor, but he was just as strong as her hero during his action scenes, just as empathetic for the human race as her hero…
her hero, no different from the fictional character that had won her heart during grade school. As much as people wouldn’t believe it from the scary-looking, nervous actor, he and the role were one and the same.
But he hadn’t been so brave the day that he literally became the role. Recognition came at a price, a painful one. Penny still couldn’t connect thick metal exterior with Mr. Powers without wincing – had it hurt when his body had turned to steel? She could only imagine how the effects of the Big Bang felt. Had the suit burned into his skin as he transformed, singeing rubber turning to liquid metal as the chemicals soaked into him?
After the initial shock, Will had calmed down and accepted his fate. They had decided that it would be safer for Will to remain “missing” for a while, being one of the unluckier Bang victims that couldn’t hide their powers. The way Penny put it, the heroic Steel Samurai didn’t need to turn into someone despised and slandered by the media…
She hid him glamorously in her basement, thinking of no better place. He couldn’t stay at the studio, after all, a place that was swarming with suspicion even on a normal day. Aside from the normal flock of paparazzi, Global Studios had been the subject of unwanted attention ever since the two murders among their staff had occurred. Will was already picked on enough as it was, and even as she tried to make the dusty bottom floor comfy, she only hoped that this would be better than any torment or harassment he’d be subjected to in the real world.
…Not to mention the villains. From the stories the news told every night, it seemed that some of the afflicted knew nothing else but to abuse their power, particularly the ones fresh from jail. Warily, Penny kept her eyes out for prisoners she knew – her ex-boss, for one, and a certain other samurai, for another. It was almost more worrisome she hadn’t
heard anything of their antics, and she busied herself at work keeping an eye on the remaining employees. Any and all suspicious behavior was recorded in her memory and later recalled to Will for analysis.
Even with her efforts, she had come to the conclusion that nothing was particularly stranger about any of the staff. Sal continued to be entirely unintelligible in speech and entirely intolerable in social habits – she had difficulty observing him for a long enough period of time to be able to tell if something was different, but he seemed to be just as grotesque as usual. And Ms. Oldbag (who had unfortunately been rotated back to Global Studios) could have been spouting out government secrets, but she spoke so much about unrelated tangents that Penny had decided that it simply wasn’t worth devoting any time to.
It was ironic that the day before Tonosacon, Will had asked an annoyed Penny one last time about the show’s producer. Mr. Manella had tested her patience that morning with his undisguised disgusting comments, staring at her almost hungrily
as the sweat oozed off his forehead. She blew off Will’s response heatedly, not wanting to discuss Sal or anything remotely to do with Sal, who in her opinion could get no creepier…
Another irony had hit her as she watched the massive okatu slimebeast gush itself all over the convention hall the next day. A building filled with heroes, and yet the only man who could save them was the one person she had locked down in her basement for the better part of six months. When she had reached for her walkie-talkie, Penny hadn’t been sure what role she was playing to the Steel Samurai – the dutiful, dedicated sidekick, or the damsel in distress?
She would have liked to have been his sidekick. Although these complicated days made it seem like the Bang victims had been cursed, the superhero lifestyle she had always adored was still tempting. Being an adult,
she knew that real life wasn’t nearly as dramatic and empowering as every last episode of the Steel Samurai. She knew that wounds didn’t just dissolve into the body and vanish, that grief remained an emotion even after the show was over. But it was easy to forget all of that when she watched footage of mysterious newfound heroes on the news, easy to forget when the Blue Phoenix and his mystical sidekick were swooping around the city. And it was entirely impossible to resist such a notion when Will – no, the Samurai
– fled from the con with her in his arms…
As usual, Penny was the normal, powerless one. She hadn’t been granted any sort of mutation or any power different than blending into a crowd, and therefore she couldn’t be much of a sidekick to Mr. Powers. Her damsel-in-distress status had been confirmed when he had rescued her from her car, to the applause of the other traffic victims. Usually that sort of thing was set in stone once a girl required rescuing twice in a row. She was now the reoccurring female lead in the story.
But couldn’t she still help? She’d been the one to call for back up, the one who had logically guessed The Blue Phoenix’s real identity. Penny had given Will her special mask and helmet; the collectable she had won in a violent bidding war, the only casualty being her paycheck. She technically even owned the piece of property (the basement) that could be called the Steel Samurai’s lair. She could be his assistant, a position she was already used to and good at.
And now she was alone, at home, staring at the ceiling with unproductive meditations when she could be working. Just because she had been wrong about Sal didn’t mean she had to be wrong again.
Mentally, she recalled who had been with her during the filming. There had been Will, but it was a scene involving only him – they just needed to get an image for the editors to animate, nothing more. The director had gotten irritated at something trivial and stormed off, last she knew. Mr. Manella had been there, but that wasn’t terribly relevant anymore. She’d have to keep an eye on the cameraman, of course, and maybe a few of the people walking around…
Was that all? It was crucial now, to remember who else could have been at the filming. She’d have to keep everyone under radar. It would make things that much easier for Will, who had been too busy making a mockery of his career fighting a demonic plant to notice who could possibly been around to mutate…
But of course, there could have been…
Penny’s eyes lit up behind her thick glasses as another realization struck her. The name she was looking for came to light in her mind as she sat up, feeling particularly intelligent all of a sudden. And now that she thought about it, that particular person had been…
It wasn’t that they had been suspicious, that was exactly it. They hadn’t been around
to act suspicious…
The girl stood up, heading for her basement stairs in a rush of realization. Things were starting to make sense at a rapid rate, conclusions drawing in her mind at the speed of light…
The world was never short an extra villain.
“Will!” Penny thundered down the stairs. “Will, I think I thought of someone we forgot…”
She didn’t need
any other superpower.
Married to Sakuro*And Eximplode07