Underrated 01 – The Diesel King
Sam had done the superhero gig since she was a child. She still wore the same costume as she had when she was twelve; a one piece white t-shirt/skirt, with a thick black line down each side, and a large black circle on her chest. She’d made a few changes to the suit over the years: She’d replaced her heels with combat boots, and ditched the elbow length gloves. She’d added textured cloth and seam piping when that became the style, but mostly the design had stayed the same. There was no reason to mess with a classic after all. After a decade in the biz; Sam felt it fair to call her costume a classic.
In uniform, Sam was supposed to answer to Kidvincible. It was, after all, her hero name. She didn’t really stick to it as much as she should, and most people, hero and villain alike, knew her as Sam. Her real name was Samantha, but Sam was fine.
Sam felt she was literally born to be a super hero. This was understandable, as she was literally born with her powers. It made for a boring origin story, but Sam didn’t consider that much of a loss. She was impossibly strong, incredibly fast, and she could fly. It took a pretty bad day to make Sam consider if she could have done anything else with her life.
Today was proving to be a bad day: A fully honest ‘consider taking up accountancy’ type of bad day.
Sam hit the ground hard enough to bounce twice. She slid along the asphalt of the road, and set off a car alarm face first. She lay on the road in an undignified slump for a moment before swearing loudly.
Being pretty much invincible; Sam wasn’t physically hurt from being smacked to the ground, or from being slammed into the side of a badly parked Volvo. In fact she’d become quite used to this sort of thing. But just because her body was immune to harm didn’t mean her pride was invulnerable.
Sam brushed down her skirt as she stood, and glared at the crowd in the streets. Civilians both too brave and too stupid to leave the area of a super villain fight snapped photos of Sam with their phones. She’d added bike shorts to her Kidvincible costume years ago, but that didn’t mean that the internet wasn’t about to be flooded with up-skirt shots of her crumpled against a car.
“God dammit!” Sam punched the car in frustration, crushing its hood under her fist. The car alarm died with a satisfying wheeze. “We totally suck!”
Sam’s sentence was punctuated by a grinding of metal and an explosion of glass as Knockabout smashed into the car she’d just punched. Knockabout was part of Sam’s team, and like her, he wasn’t having the best day.
Knockabout sat in the wreckage for a moment before he sighed dramatically, and adjusted his thick black goggles. “This is not our finest hour,” he agreed.
Knockabout sat up, and pulled off the shredded remains of his shirt. His costume was normally a pair of leather pants, and a black tee shirt cut to fit around the metallic cylinders that jutted from his shoulder-blades, spine and triceps. The shirt was often the first casualty of any fight they were in, leaving him bare-chested. Today was no exception.
The remains of the Volvo gave the whining sound of metal straining as Knockabout pulled loose from the wreckage. With his augmented muscles, and sub-dermal Kevlar knit, and metal laced bones, and other internal cyborg crap, Knockabout weighed in at nearly 230 kilos. It was more than the average car liked to have splayed across its roof to say the least.
Like Sam; Knockabout was super strong. He was also bulletproof, though not entirely invulnerable. His blood was riddled with nanites that, given time, could fix most damage to his body. Knockabout couldn’t fly; though the hydraulic jacks in his legs let him leap tall buildings; so long as the buildings weren’t actually that tall.
Knockabout didn’t know his real name. He had no memory from before he was made into what he was now. All they knew about him was that he’d been built by, and for, some terrorist organization, and that he was supposed to be the perfect superman. Knockabout was discarded as a failure, because some drunk scientist had screwed up trying to give him super-vision. Knockabout’s eyes were a horror to see; matte black, with swollen red around them, like a shark that needed sleep. Worse; without his special goggles, Knockabout’s eyesight ranked right up there with Velma Dinkley’s.
Sam or Knockabout getting punted down the street was often something to laugh about over drinks later. Sam and Knockabout getting punted was downright embarrassing. It was bad enough against a credible villain, but today they were fighting The Diesel King; a man with a big rig themed power suit. Diesel King thought his truck motif was intimidating, but really it made him look like a cheap Optimus Prime cosplayer. Point was; The Diesel King was a third rate villain at best.
Right now, third rate or not, The Diesel King was kicking their asses. “I came prepared for some serious smokies,” The Diesel King bragged with a laugh. “You cub-scouts think you can beat me?”
Sam swore under her breath. “We got ourselves a talker,” she noted.
Talker was the agreed on term for anyone that just had to tell their origin story, or blame society for their crimes, or just spew trash talk. Often, a talker felt the best time for this was mid-combat. Talkers were annoying in that they needed to fill the gaps of a fight with monologues. However, they didn’t always follow through when they had a hero on the ropes, because that was the best time to story-tell.
“Cub-scouts?” Knockabout questioned.
“I don’t know,” Sam admitted. “I don’t speak hillbilly.”
Knockabout and Sam leant on the crushed Volvo. Knockabout lit a cigarette, and they shared it as The Diesel King ranted on. It was super hero etiquette to just let a talker talk. Annoying or not, you didn’t want to beat the practice of monologuing out of a talker. Sometimes a good monologue was the only breather offered during a fight.
Sam listened as The Diesel King went on about bears, and bubble-gummers, and something about a Dirty Dan. She didn’t understand most of what The Diesel King was saying, but she caught the gist of it. He’d been laid off unfairly. His wife left. She took the dog. Hospital bills left him broke. An unfair world forced left him with no choice but to dress like a truck and try to rob a bank. It wasn’t his fault. For talkers, Sam had recognized long ago, it never was.
“Seriously; screw this guy right up the exhaust pipe.” The truck reference was forced, and Knockabout mouthed an apology the moment he’d said it. “What’s the plan?”
Sam flicked the cigarette at The Diesel King. She gave Knockabout a casual shrug. “Let’s go with a standard high/low,” she decided
Knockabout nodded, and the two dashed at The Diesel King; Knockabout on the ground, and Sam in the air. High/lowing someone meant that Sam and Knockabout would both hit a person at the same time; Sam flying in and hitting high, while Knockabout ran, and hit low. It wasn’t brilliant strategy 101, but then there were only so many euphemisms for ‘let’s go punch that guy’.
The Diesel King laughed a proper Mwua-ha-ha as he watched Knockabout and Sam charge at him. He spewed some cliché line that included both a 10-4 and a good buddy, but Sam missed it. She was too distracted by the other thing The Diesel King was spewing. The Diesel King thrust his hips vulgarly towards her and Knockabout, and hosed them with a groinal geyser of used motor oil.
The attack, though itself harmless, took both heroes by surprise. Knockabout lost his footing on the now slick road, and kissed the road with a teeth rattling thud. He slid to a stop at The Diesel King’s big-rig shaped boots.
Sam swore as she continued towards The Diesel King. She’d hoped to finish this cluster-fuck of a fight quickly. Now, blinded, soaked down with viscous used motor oil, and more than a bit humiliated, her timing was thrown. She swung a devastating haymaker, but it didn’t even come close to landing.
The Diesel King laughed as he sidestepped Sam’s fist. “You got a lot of fight in ya, don’tcha Lottie? Well don’t you worry none; papa’s got something for that.”
Left wide open from her clumsy attack, Sam took the full of The Diesel King’s double fisted upper cut to the chin. She flew backwards, only somewhat of her own power, and bounced again down the street. The Diesel King was still laughing when he booted Knockabout down the road after Sam.
Knockabout tried to roll to his feet, only to slip again from the oil on his boots. Sam stayed where she’d landed in the middle of the road, not terribly hurt, but not wanting to get up either. Around them, people videoed the whole thing. At some point, an actual news truck had shown up, though Sam only noticed it now. Sam groaned, and closed her eyes. She’d been in worse fights, but not often ones this humiliating.
A shadow fell over Sam, and a sing-song voice called down with concern. “You doing ok down there?”
Sam grudgingly opened her eyes. Lect loomed over her; one hand out to help Sam up. Lect’s full hero name was Electronomicon; though no one ever used it. She insisted that the name was a nod to the mystical origins of her powers; which evidently were a magical control over electricity and technology. She could fly and throw lightning; which was impressive. But Lect could also take control of most machines, and even use her powers to hack computers. It was useful, and the media never accused Lect of having generic powers.
Sam assumed Lect’s chosen name had less to do with magic, and more to do with all the good electricity based names being taken. Lect seemed happy enough with it though, and preferred Electronomicon over her real name. This was partially because Lect believed in the whole secret identity thing. It was more because her real name was Florida.
Electronomicon’s costume was a standard bodysuit of bright blue and a pair of low slung cargo pants. She also had a deep hooded cloak; because mystic electric technomancer. She kept her short unkempt hair neon blue, and wore lipstick to match. A few years younger than Sam or Knockabout, Lect was often seen as the cute member of the team by the press. It didn’t get her that much slack in the papers. After all; cute or not, she was still a member of The Wannabes.
Sam shuffled back to her feet; ignoring Lect’s outstretched hand. “Where the hell have you been?” Sam accused.
Lect crossed her arms over her slight chest and rolled her eyes. “I figured you two had this under control,” she commented. “I mean; it’s The Diesel King.”
“Yeah, well; he’s having a particularly good day.”
“I’ll say,” Lect agreed. “I mean, I figured I’d be getting here just in time for drinks.” She shrugged. “So, what’s the plan?”
“The original plan was to punch him until we’d made ourselves feel big,” Sam replied. “That plan has already failed. Plan B was to wait for you to show up, and have you shut down his power suit.” Sam grinned wickedly. “Then maybe we’ll go back to plan A.”
“What’s plan C?” Lect asked. She rolled her eyes at the look Sam gave her. “I totally can’t shut his suit down,” Lect declared. “It’s actually mostly diesel powered?”
“You’re joking right?” Sam held up a hand before Lect could answer. “Yes,” she verified. “I get that he’s The Diesel King. But a suit that runs entirely on diesel? That’s beyond stupid.”
Lect bit her lower lip. “Well, I mean like, some of his suit is electrical?” she corrected. “Like; some articulators, and his headlights? Stuff like that. But I can’t turn off his whole suit, you know?”
“Yeah, I get it.” Sam looked at The Diesel King, and at the people taking pictures around them. She looked at Knockabout and Electronomicon, and then back at The Diesel King waiting for their next move. Sam considered a moment, and then shook her head.
“No,” Sam announced loudly. “Screw this guy. I’m already covered in oil and crap. I’m not going over there to see what else he’s got to spray on me.” Sam sneered at the somewhat surprised Diesel King. “I mean look at the fat fuck. He’s just standing there waiting for us, ‘cause he’d have to actually walk to get over here.” Sam ran a hand through her hair, and flicked a thick gob of motor oil out of her bangs. “Naw. Fuck this,” she muttered. “I’m going to go and take a shower; then I’m going to find a bar, and drink till I’ve forgotten this afternoon. You guys in?”
“For the shower?” Lect asked sarcastically.
“Whichever,” Sam replied, already walking away. “I honestly don’t care at this point.”
The Diesel King stared as Sam turned from the fight. “You can’t just walk away from me,” he insisted uncertainly.
“Yeah we can,” Sam assured him. She waved a casual middle finger over her shoulder to punctuate her sentence.
Knockabout joined Sam’s departure. He was covered with just as much oil as her, but somehow looked like he’d just left a photo shoot for sexy mechanics monthly. Looking fine even covered in crap seemed to be part of Knockabout’s power set. He waved a finger at The Diesel King as well, and lit a smoke despite being covered in oil.
Lect walked with the same calm confidence as the other two, but she didn’t join in on the whole flipping off the villain part. Lect was relatively new to the super hero game, and wasn’t comfortable working blue quite yet.
“But; you can’t” The Diesel King insisted. He looked at the cameras around them, and at the press. He growled at The Wannabes as they walked away from him.
“That’s it!” The Diesel King yelled, tossing his armored John Deere hat to the ground in frustration. “I was going to let you rubberneckers slide, but you’ve really made me mad now!” The Diesel King dropped his shoulder into a footballers tackle stance. “I’m going to have to bring the hammer down!” he declared.
Small rubber tired wheels popped down from The Diesel King’s boots; finishing the big rig look of them. He kicked off hard, and plowed down the street towards Sam, Knockabout, and Electronomicon. A loud truck horn played from The Diesel King’s suit as he charged at The Wannabes.
Sam and her crew kept walking. The road rumbled as The Diesel King bore down on them; horn blaring. Sam stole a drag of Knockabout’s cigarette, waited a moment, and then nodded back towards the raging Diesel King.
“Now,” Sam declared in a calm voice. The team turned on a dime, and snapped immediately into ass kicking position.
Lect flew up and away from the charging Diesel King. She templed her fingers in front of her chest, and muttered a few incantations. The air around Lect ionized, and her already spiked hair stood on end as she thrust her hands forward. A bolt of lightning fired from her outstretched palms and slammed into The Diesel King’s chest.
The Diesel King skated straight through the blast with little more than some scorching on his suit. He laughed triumphantly for the whole three seconds it took him to figure out what Lect had done. It was true that most of his suit was diesel powered, but there were some electrical components; including the articulation in his joints. Turning someone’s knees off was always going to annoy them. Doing it while they were power skating towards a pack of super heroes though? That’s pure gold.
Sam balled a fist as The Diesel King stumbled down the road. She nodded at Knockabout, as they both ducked down and prepared. They didn’t have a fancy name for synchronized uppercut, but that didn’t make it any less awesome. The Diesel King flailed his arms, and stared wide eyed at the two powerhouses. He knew what was coming, and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.
It had been a crap day, but Sam was pretty sure that this was going to make up for it. Besides; the media really only cared about who got the last hit in. A synchronized double uppercut was just the thing to make everyone forget exactly how much of a fiasco this whole fight had been. “This is going to be so sweet,” Sam insisted.
There was a sudden flash of blue light, and a beam of pure energy hit The Diesel King in the back; speeding his trajectory towards Sam and Knockabout. It wasn’t Electronomicon’s lighting. Instead; a man in a pure white business suit hovered over the battle, a nimbus of blue energy circling his hands. Conduit, Sam recognized. He was a member of The Brigade of Heroes. If he was here, then so were the others.
“No,” Sam muttered, “nonono.” She rushed forward, hoping to hit The Diesel King before The Brigade muscled in. She didn’t even get close.
“Look out!” A gruff voice warned from behind. Flagg Patriot; leader of the Brigade, shoved Sam aside as he passed her in the streets. She landed hard on her ass.
The warning, and the shove, was made to look like Flagg had just saved Sam’s life. She literally sat on the sidelines, and watched as Flagg Patriot ducked low, and took her perfect upper cut away from her. Diesel King spun backwards, right into the waiting fist of Pont; the Brigade’s ogre of a strongman.
Fists clenched, Sam stormed towards Flagg Patriot. “We had this,” she insisted.
Flagg adjusted his General Patton helmet, and looked down his nose at Sam. “Did you have this Kidvincible?” he asked snidely. “It didn’t look like you did, but we could have misunderstood what was going on.” His smile flickered. “Is that what we have here? Do we have a misunderstanding?” Behind Flagg Patriot, Pont cracked his knuckles. Conduit hovered nearby.
Sam looked at The Brigade. Her day had been bad enough; adding a super hero misunderstanding to the mess wasn’t going to improve it. “Thank you for the assistance,” she managed through clenched teeth.
Flagg Patriot gave Sam a Flagg Patronizing smile. “I’ve told you before Kidvincible,” he offered in a calm tone, just loud enough for the press, “if you need help, call us.”
Sam choked down a few creative words. “Sure,” she replied bitterly. Even that was wasted, as Flagg Patriot had already turned to the crowd to answer a few questions and take full credit for the capture of The Diesel King.
Sam shook her head, and joined Knockabout and Electronomicon along the sidelines. They stood in silence for a few minutes, watching as The Brigade chatted with civilians, press, and police. No one even looked in The Wannabes’ direction.
“It’s not so bad,” Lect tried, breaking the silence. “I mean, like, at least…”
Sam put an oil stained finger to Lect’s lips. “Shhh,” she insisted before the younger girl could get started. “Just, shhh.” Sam looked like an Exxon disaster, and smelt worse. She’d just been upstaged by The Brigade, and was likely about to be used for comedic side notes on the news. She doubted that any of Lect’s platitudes were going to make her feel better.
“I think we’re done here,” Knockabout commented, patting Sam on the back. “Back to base?”
Sam took one more look at The Brigade of Heroes, and pictured a creatively gory death for each of them. “Back to base,” she agreed finally.